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Friday, February 29, 2008

 

Weekend Whatnot



My son has been learning about electricity and magnetism in his science studies. One of the lessons was titled "Magnet Madness." How true that turned out to be when he stuck his magnets on the side of his desk lamp and then turned it on. The thing sizzled and flashed explosively! That gave us quite a scare. We now have one very dead lamp. I'm just thankful it wasn't the laptop.

Discovery Kids has some very cool games on their website. My kids are currently obsessed with Whizzball, a mousetrap-like puzzle-building game. You can solve other people's puzzles, but building your own is much more fun. My son also recommends the Catapult Game and Bug Blaster.

I've been using Bookmooch for over a year now. It's a site where you trade books with people. You get points for listing your inventory, then trade those points in by "mooching" books off other people. You also get points when someone "mooches" off of you. I've been able to find just about every book I was looking for. It's a good way to recycle old paperbacks.

I'm itchy! Really itchy. I've been putting up insulation in our basement. Even with long sleeves, a hat, gloves, and a face mask, those pink fiberglass particles get into every nook and cranny. I noticed a brand of insulation at Lowe's that advertises itself as "less itchy!" Too bad it wasn't the thickness I wanted.

Star Wars according to a 3-year-old... Have you seen this ultra-cute YouTube video? I think she has a bright future as a movie reviewer.

I like giving stuff away. In a couple of days, I'm giving away something really big, thanks to the generosity of one of my local readers. Check back on Monday for news of that.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

 

Jump The Snark

When I started reading blogs four years ago, it didn't take me long to figure out that snarkiness seemed to rule the Internet. Especially on many of the popular parenting blogs.

I used to be a regular reader of the snarky dad blogs, but after awhile I found all of that derogatory sarcasm and biting irony to be depressing. It made me cynical as well. I'm generally a cheerful and optimistic person. I want to see and hope for the best in others. Snark is the antithesis of how I want to view the world around me. You might say I live in a fantasy world where life is perpetually shiny and perky, but that's my preference. I need to focus on the good things in life. It keeps me sane. And it keeps my kids happy and healthy.

Mostly, I prefer to read and comment on the daddy blogs that do not spend all their time making ironic jokes about parenthood. I do enjoy a fine bit of well written satire, but not all. the. damn. time. Oh, and there is a huge difference between satirical humor and situational humor. Parents who want to be funny on their blogs should focus on the latter. I'd much rather laugh about something than laugh at something.

To you daddy bloggers who are just trying to understand the complexities of parenting and make yourself better fathers, I want you to know how much I appreciate your writing. I love reading your thoughts and advice, and I hope I sometimes pass along some similar bits of helpful knowledge as we make this amazing journey called fatherhood.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

 

The Childless Life

Remember when you were young and had all the answers to everything?

Here's a college student who thinks she has it all figured out. She's convinced that she will live a childless life by choice.

And that's great for her. Not everybody is cut out to be a parent. But I'll bet that more than half of all parents once said they would never have kids.

Myself, I never even thought about it. Children were not a part of my life until my son was born. And it certainly wasn't a dream or goal of mine to become a father. Now, of course, I can't imagine being childless. My life is richer and fuller because of my kids, in ways that I never could've predicted twenty years ago.

I would never tell that young woman she should become a mother. That's her business. But I would tell her that things don't always go the way you expect. Just don't be disappointed that the life you have all mapped out for yourself doesn't come to fruition.

John Lennon said it best, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."


Monday, February 25, 2008

 

Dance Fever

I'm going to wrap up my music week with a playlist from my 6-year-old daughter and an iTunes giveaway.

As with most second children, she never had much of a chance to make her own musical discoveries at first. She simply inherited her brother's musical tastes... The Wiggles, Ralph's World, The Beatles, John Lithgow, Disney songs, etc.

When she was five she broke free and found her own favorite style, one which I was not really prepared for. She started liking dance pop.

A funny thing happened once we started looking around on iTunes for songs and artists she might like. I found myself kind of digging this new genre. The combination of infectious dance beats with catchy pop melodies had me singing and dancing along with my daughter.

For a guy who used to say "Disco Sucks!" when I was a teenager, this was a rather disconcerting turn of events in my middle age. Oh well. These are happy songs. I love the way my daughter's face lights up when one of these tracks comes up on the iPod.

Here are five of her favorite songs.

Listen: Amy Diamond - "Life's What You Make It"

Listen: Marie Serneholt - "That's The Way My Heart Goes"

Listen: Maria Haukaas Storeng - "Should've"

Listen: Sandra Lou - "Le Banana Split"

Listen: Six - "Whole Lotta Lovin'"

My daughter seems to have a Euro-centric music view, with two tracks from Sweden, and one each from Norway, France, and Ireland. We've also recently discovered some cool pop tunes out of Lebanon, but that's a whole other post.

And now, I have a $10 iTunes email gift certificate to give away. Leave a comment and I'll do a random pick at the end of the week.

UPDATE: The iTunes gift certificate went to Dan.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

 

Stardust

I began my week of music with a post about lullabies. Every parent, I would hope, has a favorite lullaby to sing or play their babies off to sleep. Mine was "If I Had Words." Yes, I was Farmer Hoggett and my kids were Babe the Pig. I would even do the dance for them on occasion.

Lullabies are important. It's the first music your children will ever hear (unless you're rocking them to sleep to Panic! At The Disco). The good news is there are countless number of lullaby CDs for you to pick from. The bad news is that most of them are sterile and emotionless. If you don't choose wisely, you might doom your innocent little baby to a bleak future as a state legislator.

Thankfully, I'm here to steer you toward CDs like the stunning new Stardust by Cher and Gene Klosner, a brother/sister duo out of Omaha, Nebraska. Stardust just happens to be one of the best lullaby collections I've ever heard.

There are many things that set it apart from other CDs of its kind. First and foremost is the care and attention that Cher and Gene put into its production. Over the course of seven months, they invited members of the Omaha Symphony and Omaha Conservatory of Music into the recording studio to give their songs that rich, warm sound that you can only get from real instruments. Combined with their beautiful, soothing voices, the result is extremely pleasing to the ears of parents and babies alike.

The selection of songs is another big part of what makes this collection work so well. There are 21 tracks on two discs, mostly classics, but a few nice surprises as well. John Denver's "For Baby" fits perfectly with the better known lullabies such as "Rock-a-Bye Baby" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." The songs flow easily along, guaranteeing rest and relaxation for both child and parent at naptime.

Even better, Cher and Gene want to teach parents to sing to their children, so they've included an instrumental version of each song so you can give each lullaby a personal spin. Imagine the joy on your baby's face when they see mom and dad doing karaoke in the nursery!

Listen: "Lullaby (Cradle Song)" song clip

Listen: "Baby Mine" song clip

You can sample every song at the Stardust Lullaby website, where you can also buy the CD. Like I said, there are a lot of lullaby CDs out there. This is one of the keepers. It gets the highest recommendation from my family!

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

 

Daddy Radio

A friend of mine once told me, "If I want to hear music, I'll just turn on the radio.

I don't remember what happened after that. I either involuntarily tackled him to the ground or I just fainted dead away.

I haven't listened to music radio since 1982, except for a 3-year stint as a college DJ at KUOI when I listened, but only to myself. That's where I learned that my face for radio goes along with my voice for print.

Anyway, on those rare occasions when I punch the wrong button on the car radio and tune in to some local rock station, I find either the same old dreck or completely brand new ear manure. One thing surely hasn't changed in 25 years... They just keep playing songs that make my ears bleed.

It's like that Morrissey song:

Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life


And it's weird, because I have an extremely wide range of musical tastes. There are nearly 38,000 songs on my hard drive. How come I can find the good stuff, but the program directors can't?

My kids don't listen to the radio either. No, they have Daddy Radio to entertain and educate them. I program our family iPod with all types of songs, from children's to new wave to classic oldies.

I take requests, but I don't do weather reports. For that, they can look out the window.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

 

Top 25 of 2007

A few months ago I posted our Favorite Kids Songs Of 2007. It took me awhile longer to come up with a definitive list of "grown-up" songs for the past year, songs that aren't for children but can be enjoyed by them. It's a family-friendly grab bag of rock, pop, dance, soundtrack, and more. Don't ever say within earshot of me that there isn't any good new music these days. You're just not looking hard enough. In fact, with sources like iTunes and Amazon Downloads, I think it's easier than ever to find all kinds of new bands making incredibly cool music.

I just happen to have an extra CD of this mix if anyone wants it. I made one for myself, but then my computer accidentally burned another copy. Darn technology has a mind of its own! I really hate to throw it in the trash, so let me know if you want to help me keep the disc out of our local landfill. Leave a comment and plead your case.

Anyway, these are my family's Top 25 Grown-Up Songs Of 2007 (in no particular order):

1. Danny Elfman - "To the Future!"
2. Silverchair - "If You Keep Losing Sleep"
3. Darren Hayes - "On the Verge of Something Wonderful"
4. The Rocket Summer - "Hold It Up"
5. Sara Bareilles - "Love Song"
6. Derek Webb - "I Wanna Marry You All Over Again"
7. Chris Rice - "Lemonade"
8. The Silver Seas - "Imaginary Girl"
9. Rooney - "When Did Your Heart Go Missing?"
10. KT Tunstall - "Little Favours"
11. Tom Langford - "Wooden Home"
12. Colin Hay - "Are You Lookin' At Me?"
13. Au Revoir Simone - "Stars"
14. Maroon 5 - "Little of Your Time"
15. Spoon - "The Underdog"
16. Lucky Soul - "Ain't Never Been Cool"
17. A Fine Frenzy - "Lifesize"
18. Your Vegas - "In My Head"
19. Relient k - "Must Have Done Something Right"
20. No More Kings - "Someday"
21. Farrah - "Dumb Dumb Ditty"
22. The Fratellis - "For the Girl"
23. Feist - "1234"
24. Jessie Baylin - "See How I Run"
25. Patrick Park - "Life's A Song"

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

 

Babies Love Rick Astley!



My kids used to cry when I stopped singing. Or maybe it was when I started, I don't quite remember...

Hat tip: Neatorama

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

 

Daddy A Go-Go

John Boydston is a stay-at-home dad who knows how to rock. He's been performing under the name Daddy A Go-Go since 1998, and has six CDs of rock 'n' roll music for kids in release. His latest, Rock Of All Ages, has just hit the stores. It's another lively collection of family-friendly songs that mix humor, learning, and good times.

The Daddy A Go-Go sound can best be described as classic rock meets garage band meets campfire sing-along. Boydston always mixes in a few cover songs with his originals. On past CDs, he's put his personal stamp on such classics as "Go Speed Racer Go," "Linus and Lucy," "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," and "Blitzkrieg Bop." This time around he covers "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron" (one of my own childhood favorites) and "What A Wonderful World."

But it's the high-energy originals that will really make your kids get up and dance around. There are songs about school buses, root beer (my son's fave), and yo-yo's, but the one song that jumped out at me was what should be the new Official Rock Anthem for the State of Idaho...

Listen: Daddy A Go-Go - "Idaho!" 55 second clip

Like the CD title says, this is music for all ages, especially elementary school kids who want to rock out and play some air guitar while you're driving around town in the mini-van. Rock Of All Ages gets a big thumbs-up from my family!

Be sure to visit Daddy A Go-Go's website, where you can sample all of his songs and lyrics. You can buy CDs through his site, or through Amazon and iTunes.

Boydston's passion for music has been passed on to his own kids. His sons Jake, 16, and Max, 13, have become good enough players to perform with their dad on stage. They recently played together at several prestigious festivals, including Austin City Limits and South By Southwest.

Check out this photo of the proud Daddy and the rest of his Daddy A Go-Go band. By the way, Max, my Beatlemaniac daughter loves your t-shirt!


Photo by Caitlin Gal

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

 

I Want My TV Music!

For the first few years, my son's musical tastes reflected mine. However, sometime during his third year he started watching TV shows and showing an interest in the music in them. This was back when we had cable and he could tune into the Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.

We mostly watched Stanley, Rolie Polie Olie, Blue's Clues, Out of the Box, Teletubbies, Mr. Rogers, and Scooby-Doo. All of these shows had cool theme songs and musical numbers. Yes, we grooved to Dipsy, La La, Tinky Winky, and Po...

Listen: "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!"


And we danced around the room to Steve and Blue...

Listen: "We Just Figured Out Blue's Clues"


One of our favorite TV themes was from a Disney Channel show about creativity and imagination...

Listen: "Out of the Box"


And we just laughed and laughed over Goofy's antics on the House of Mouse...

Listen: "Soup Or Salad, Fries Or Biscuits"


It wasn't until my son was almost six that he made a discovery of his own. That's when we started watching What's New Scooby-Doo?, the modern revival of the classic cartoon series. The updated version featured a cool new theme song, recorded by the punk-pop band Simple Plan, that immediately appealed to my son. He really got excited when one of their songs was featured in an episode. That was the first time he ever said, "Daddy, can you find that song for me?" Four years later, it's still one of his favorite tunes...

Listen: Simple Plan - "I'd Do Anything"


From there, my son has learned to love a wide variety of styles and singers, but he always seems to perk up for that energetic punk-pop sound. We've all become fans of bands like Relient k, The Click Five, McFly, The Rocket Summer, and Matt Willis thanks to my son wanting to explore bands similar to Simple Plan.

My 6-year-old daughter likes this stuff too, but she's shown a fondness in recent months for a completely different style of music... one which I never thought I'd enjoy. Disco! Because of her, for the first time in my life I purchased a Bee Gees song.

More about that on another day.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

 

In The Beginning

I've been thinking back to the beginning, when my son was a newborn, and all we listened to for months were lullabies.

Some of these songs still sound good to me, and I find myself listening to them late at night while the kids are asleep and I want to hear something soothing while I'm on the computer.

This is the first part of the soundtrack to my life as a parent...

It's no surprise that my kids are Beatles fans today. I started them off young, playing quiet, lullaby versions of the famous songs of the Fab Four. These melodies are in their subconscious.

Jason Falkner - "In My Life"
Vanessa Mae - "Because"


My kids also seem to have an affinity for Australian music, and it's not because of the Wiggles. Back in 1998, as I was anticipating the arrival of my son, I ordered an Australian import CD filled with original children's music by contemporary artists, such as Colin Hay, Paul Kelly, and David Bridie. Called Lullaby and Goodnight, it turned out to be the best collection of lullabies I've ever heard. It's long out-of-print, and almost impossible to find even through eBay. We hold on to our copy like it's gold.

Joe Creighton - "So Still He Lies"
David Bridie - "Sing Me Soft & Smooth & Slow"


Speaking of The Wiggles, they were becoming popular when my son was a newborn, so it was natural that they would be a part of his early years. The Wiggles aren't just about Big Red Cars and dancing pirates. Their lullabies were just as welcome and soothing as our other favorites when it was time for rocking little babies off to dreamland.

The Wiggles - "The Dreaming"
Art Garfunkel - "Dreamland"


Tomorrow, my son discovers rock 'n' roll in a cartoon!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

 

Music Week

All this week I'll be focusing on music. It's an important part of my family's life. Since they were babies, my kids have been exposed to different styles of music on a daily basis. From actively listening to Mozart, to watching Beatles' movies, to singing along with the Wiggles, we provide good music in much the same way we provide proper nutrition.

I believe that music is an essential part of brain growth in early childhood. Research shows that it can boost intelligence, positively shape self esteem, and be a great source of imagination and creativity.

If you don't have music in your house, you're letting your kids down.

So, my posts this week will be about the music my family enjoys. I'll have CD reviews and recommendations, playlists, downloads, videos, and more.

By the way, I do take requests.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

 

Happiness Is A Warm Cat



This is Basil's favorite spot during the winter. All warm and toasty by the fire.

These days of crackling fires and cups of hot cocoa are drawing to a close. Temperatures are up, the snow is melting, the streets are clear of ice. Spring is just around the corner, and soon Basil will find a new favorite spot in a cool, shady place.

Wouldn't you just know it... Halfway through this post, I get up to look out the window and find it's snowing again. Big fat flakes. Looks like winter isn't over yet.

Go on and curl up by the fire, Basil. I'll be outside shoveling.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

 

Time To Hang It Up

I've thought about this for a long time, and I've finally decided that it's time for me to hang it up.

There are various reasons, but number one is I'm tired. Very tired.

I've been tip-toeing around the issue for weeks now.

It's just getting harder and harder to come up with the right words to express myself. Sometimes I feel like nobody is even listening!

So, that's it. I'm decided.

There's no talking me out of it.

I'm going to hang it up.

Kids, next time why don't you just do it yourself so your daddy doesn't have to constantly be hanging it up for you!

Okay? Thanks.



Oh, and if it smells like your bottom, please DO NOT hang it up. Toss it in the laundry room and I'll wash it.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

 

Snack Time

We love getting snacks in the mail! And it seems like lately our mailbox has been overflowing with goodies from various companies for review.

I'll start with the one my family liked the most.

The South Beach Dark Chocolate Covered Soynuts were a huge hit with everyone. Each little bag contains a good handful of crunchy soynuts, perfect for those late night cravings when you just need a little something to satisfy the hunger pangs before bed.

Made by Kraft, this snack has the right combination of healthy crunch and healthy chocolate. Each bag is 100 calories, and there are 7 bags per box. At $15 for a pack of 4 boxes, that works out to about 50 cents a bag. Not bad, if you can limit yourself to one bag a night.

Next, we sampled Cheerios Snack Mix. This is the same kind of snack as the classic Chex Mix, only with the familiar whole-grain goodness of those little round Cheerios that we all know and love. The mix also includes Chex pieces (naturally), pretzels, crackers, and a robust seasoning. It comes in original or cheddar flavors.

My kids could eat handful after handful of this stuff if you poured it into a big bowl. Because it's baked and not fried, Cheerios Snack Mix is healthier than most. I found the slightly spicy seasoning to be a bit off-putting after a couple of scoops, but the kids didn't mind. We'll probably pick this up every now and then. I'd rather my kids munch on this than potato chips.

Last, we have Dr. Melina's Lemon Raspberry Protein Bars. After eating junky cereal bars for years, it was a bit of a shock to bite into one of Dr. Melina's protein bars. It tasted... Healthy. Which is to say, not all sweet and sugary.

I like that the bar doesn't crumble as you eat it. I've had some that break apart upon the first bite and you end up picking chunks off your clothes. My 9-year-old son said, "They're chewy, but not too chewy."

Best of all, they took away mid-morning hunger pangs. I could easily eat one of these for breakfast or lunch and feel good about the healthy ingredients, which include soybeans, whey, milk, and brown rice syrup. Each bar is 180 calories and has a good amount of protein and fiber. Other flavors include chocolate peanut and cinnamon almond. We'll probably throw a box of these in the car on our next road trip.

Now don't tell any of these companies, but my kids still think the best in-between-meal snack is a big bowl of baby carrots. They've been munching on those since they were toddlers. But for variety, the three snacks above are good alternatives.

What's your family's favorite snack?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

 

Wordless Wednesday



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

 

All You Can Eat

We all know the benefits of eating dinner together as a family. Don't we?

Research shows that the simple act of having a nightly meal around the table leads to improved family communication, healthier diets for all, higher self-esteem for children, and so much more.

I thought this was one of those no-brainer concepts like making sure your children sleep at night and wear clothing when they go to school.

I was talking to a mother outside my daughter's classroom yesterday, and she admitted that her family's dinner hour is basically an all-you-can-eat buffet. She sets the various dishes out on the kitchen counter and the family all help themselves to what they want.

But then it turns into an eat-where-you-want buffet. The kids take their plates to the table, to their bedrooms, to the computer room. There's no rhyme or reason, no togetherness. Everyone does their own thing.

She said it's just the way they've always done it.

I think it's strange. Her family is missing out on one of the best times of the day. My family loves to gather around the table to share a meal each night. No TV, maybe some quiet music in the background, lots of discussion... That's the way we've always done it.

How does dinnertime work in your house?


Monday, February 11, 2008

 

Give A Little Bit

I'm constantly inundated with charitable requests. It's hard to decide who to give money to, especially when our resources are so limited. I can't just open up my wallet for every organization with it's hand out.

However, a fellow daddy blogger who lives in England has organized a fundraising effort for a charity that I think is worthy of support. Dan, of All That Comes With It, has written a stirring appeal for The Joseph Salmon Trust, a charity set up by friends of his in memory of their son Joseph, who died of a rare form of pneumonia. The Trust is designed to support parents who have lost a child by providing financial assistance to see them through the tough times.

Dan isn't just talking the talk, he's walking the walk. A 78-mile walk, that is. This summer, Dan and nine others will set out on a 6-day journey along the Dales Way in the north of England, all to raise funds and awareness for The Joseph Salmon Trust.

I'd like to challenge all of my readers, especially those in North Idaho and Eastern Washington, to read Dan's appeal, then make a donation of any amount. A dollar, five dollars, ten... A little can go a long way. Let's harness the power of the blogosphere to make a difference in one corner of the world.

You can click on Dan's PayPal link on his blog, or email him for more information.


Friday, February 08, 2008

 

The Big Snow



Winter is officially no fun for me anymore. I stepped outside our front door the other night and suddenly found myself sprawled flat on my back, my head bouncing off the icy concrete steps.

And there I lay for five hours until somebody came looking for me. Well, that was my first thought, but then I remembered my cell phone and called inside for someone to come scrape me off the sidewalk.

Turns out I have a tough skull, and I only saved my back by somehow sticking both hands out behind me to break my fall.

This winter's snowfall has shattered all records for my town, with over 130 inches falling to the ground. It was fun at first, but now it's just a pain. We have six-foot snow berms surrounding our driveway, and I'm starting to wonder if my basement project is going to turn into an indoor swimming pool this spring when all the snow melts. We'll see how well the builders sealed our foundation. The roads around us are horribly bumpy with ice, and it's wreaking havoc on my tire alignment. The roof of my house has thousands of pounds of snow piled up on it. I listen at night for the creaks and groans of collapsing trusses.

I've taken lots of pictures of the snow, and of the kids playing in it, because it's definitely one for the memory books. I may not remember this last part of winter as being much fun, but my kids will look back on it as one of the best times of their lives. Sledding, building snow forts and snow men, digging tunnels and caves, having snowball fights with friends. They've packed enough memories into the past month to last a lifetime.





Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

Reason To Homeschool #72

A friend's 7-year-old daughter came home from school with a green leaf made from felt.
"We had an assembly today and everyone got a leaf. They told us that if we are ever bullied or an adult makes us feel sad, we can rub our warm and fuzzy leaf until we feel better."

They ought to give one of those leaves to all the parents who are sad that the schools spend so little time teaching their children important things, like how to read and write.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

 

Nasty Habits

I want my kids to be individuals, to express themselves in their own distinctive ways without feeling pressure to follow the crowd.

On the other hand, I also want them to feel comfortable in today's society. To fit in, and to be accepted. So, sometimes, when I see them doing things that might cause other people to label them as strange or unacceptable, I feel like I need to step in and make a change.

It's easy to correct the nasty habits. I have no problem pointing out to my kids that they shouldn't be excavating their nasal passages ("digging for gold" as we call it) or vigorously scratching their bottoms while out in public. They are learning that good manners and tact are a positive attribute.

But do I worry about the seemingly harmless tendencies, like knuckle-cracking and refusing to wear anything but sweatpants? Which habits are just funny childhood quirks, and which ones might evolve into annoying adult compulsions?

I want my children to be unique and original, but I don't want them to be so different from the rest of their peers that it becomes a negative.

So far, I guess I don't need to worry too much. My kids don't do anything overly bizarre. And they fit in well with their friends, especially when it comes to nasal excavation... I've noticed that a lot of young kids have picked up that habit.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

 

The Cutest Daddy

Parents.com has launched a new contest that I am guaranteed to lose.

They're looking for The Cutest Daddy.

Click here to learn more and submit a photo.

Hey, first prize is an 8GB Apple iPod Nano. That's worth trying to be cute!


Monday, February 04, 2008

 

I've Been Framed!

Remember that basement project I started back in November? Come and see what I've done with the place...



Friday, February 01, 2008

 

Memories Can't Wait

My son will turn ten this year, and I suddenly realized that the clock is ticking. Ticking loudly.

I have eight more years to make memories with him, and eleven more years with my daughter, and then they will be adults making memories of their own.

How am I going to make the most of that preciously short time with my children? I ask myself this over and over now, because I don't want to be asking this question when it's too late and I'm full of regrets for the things that I did not do.

The easy answer is just to be there for them, at every opportunity. I've got that one down already. We make memories every day with the fun that we have and the lessons that we learn.

As I hear that clock ticking, I think about the big memories, the ones that come from special days and events. That's when my mind turns to travel.

I don't understand parents who take trips without their children. I don't see the point of it. My wife and I will have more than enough time to travel together when the kids are grown. Now is the time that we have to show our kids the world and all the wonderful things in it.

So, I've put a priority on planning trips and vacations, both big and small, for us as a family. It's important to me to take my kids places, not just for their own education but also for the memories that will result.

I want to show my kids the Grand Canyon, the Colosseum of Rome, Mesa Verde, Machu Picchu, Disney World, The Louvre, Denali National Park, Stonehenge... There's no way we'll cross every destination off our list, but we'll try.

I also want to make memories out of places we return to on a regular basis. We always go back to the same beach to swim in the lake. We hike the same Forest Service trail in the nearby mountains. We ride the same rollercoaster at the amusement park. We do these things not just to make a memory, but to burn the very sense of them into our psyche, to make it a part of us beyond just a recall of one day in the life.

This summer we'll return for a third straight year to the beaches of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It's become our family tradition, one I hope to repeat every year until the kids are grown. Hopefully, even beyond that. At some point this year we'll also find ourselves watching geysers in Yellowstone, and exploring the wilds of Western Canada.

For now, I hear the clock ticking. We have places to go and things to see, and the years are going by fast. We'll make the time, we'll find the money. It's important, because these memories can't wait.

Where do you make your family memories?