Fatherly Tidbits - Living Below Your Means

Given the current economic crisis, due in large part to a glut of trash mortgages on houses more expensive than buyers can realistically afford, I find it an appropriate point to pass along another fatherly tidbit to my son about economic responsibility. I think our culture is terribly consumerist and spoiled. We are taught to expect rather than earn, to put on credit rather than save.

"It is far more honorable to live below your own means than to live up to someone else's"


Stay At Home Dad, by Jon Lajoie


Fatherly Tidbits - Posessions and Self Worth

For generations my family has always had a keen talent of summing up broad and complex themes in a simple sentence or two. Regardless of what quandary anyone posed or what scandal happened to be in the news, they had an answer and a concise quip with which they set straight all the ills of the world.

Growing up I thought they were over simplifying things and just didn't understand what was going on. The swift and unapologetic answers to seemingly impossible quandaries made me question if they really understood the crux of the issues at hand. It wasn't until I got older that I realized they actually knew exactly what the issues were. 

It wasn't that they were over simplifying things, they just weren't over complicating them. They seemed impervious to the relativistic wishy-washiness, so rampant in today's culture, that causes many people to lose sight of who they really are. Their views stemmed from basic, sound principles and were often delivered in the form of a wonderfully aphoristic and boiled down one-liner. These one-liners left no room for misinterpretation and taught an easy to understand, hard to forget lesson. 

From time to time I will be writing "Fatherly tidbits" that I wish to impart to my son, and sharing some family aphorisms from which I still value as an adult. Granted my son can't even read yet, but I just want to make sure I don't forget them over the years, so I'm using this blog as my scratch pad.

The first concept that I would like to share with him has to do with physical possessions and how people tend to value themselves based on what they have.

"The more value you place on possessions, the less you place on yourself."

That's it, plain and simple. That concept has kept me from getting caught up in a lot of unimportant things in life, and I hope it will do the same for my children.


Oswald the Octopus is Kevin Arnold

While watching the animated cartoon Oswald on Noggin I realized that the protagonist, a blue octopus named Oswald, sounded quite familiar. The placid male voice was not one I had heard in a while, but it was kicking around somewhere in the back of my mind. I couldn't place it but didn't think too much about it.

I did not think too much about it, but when he called his side kick wiener dog "Wienie", I figure out to whom the voice belonged. "Weenie" sounded similar to "Winnie", the name of the unseen voice's counterpart in a decades old TV show. Then it clicked.

The voice of Oswald comes from none other than Fred Savage, the actor who played Kevin Arnold on the TV show The Wonder Years which aired in the late 80's and early 90's.

Interstingly, Savage notes in his bio on NickJr.com that his favorite books as a kid included Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny, favorites of my family and many of our readers.


Crocodile Creek Bibs Are Awesome!

Shortly after this picture was taken, most of the broccoli in my son's mouth left his lips and traveled down the front of him. To rinse out the taste of the newly introduced broccoli for which he clearly does not care, he reached for his little mug of water.

As you may or may not know, kids often don't really drink, they just temporarily store liquids in their mouth so that they may more easily transfer them to their own clothes, your clothes, the floor and the dog. That was the case in this instance and the water quickly came out of his mouth and chased the broccoli down the front of him.

I'm accustomed to pulling out a baby with soaked, food-encrusted clothing from his high chair at the end of meals, which is often the case. However, the new Crocodile Creek bibs our friend Tara recently gifted us prevented that from happening. The bibs have a cool little pocket at the bottom that catches errant broccoli and rivulets of drooled water. It keeps everything much cleaner than a standard bid and clean off easily after the mess making is through for the night. They're inexpensive, cute and well designed and I'm glad we got them. Check out the product carousel below or visit Amazon to pick some up.


Top 50 Parents' Favorite Kids' Books

One of the great things about parenthood is sharing treasured elements of your own childhood with your kids. Parents naturally gravitate towards traditions, toys, songs, movies for which they have fond memories. Hollywood and the toy manufacturers know this, marketing movies to us as adults that were popular cartoons when we were kids and selling next generations of our favorite childhood toys. I'll use the Transformers movie and upcoming G.I. Joe movie as prime examples.

Other media aside, books were a large part of my childhood as they are to so many. A few of my favorites were I'm Going to Run Away, Noisy Nora, Bedtime for Frances and the amazing Where the Wild Things Are. We've introduced quite a few new ones, but I still buy my childhood favorite books for my son. After getting lots of reader feedback, I've compiled the top 50 children's books that were the childhood favorites of today's parents. Some of them I've never heard of, others I have worn through, but either way this list of the best children's books is a great starting point to build your own family library. In alphabetical order, here they are:

101 Dalmations
A Little Golden Book about Grover
Are You My Mother?
Bedtime for Frances
Bernstein Bears
Blueberries for Sal
Charlotte's Web
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree
Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
Curious George
David's Silver Dollar
Dear Mr. Henshaw
Disney Cinderella
Draw Me a Star
Each Peach Pear Plum
Goodnight Moon
Green Eggs and Ham
Harry the Dirty Dog
Hop on Pop!
Hyram's Red Shirt
I am a Bunny
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
I'll Love You Forever
I'm Going to Run Away
Jim Jump
Little House on the Prairie
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Misty of Chincoteague
Mr. Pine's Purple House
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Noisy Nora
Peter Pan and Wendy
Pokey Little Puppy
Ramona Quimby
Runaway Bunny
Story of Poppyseed
Strega Nona
The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Cat In The Hat
The Giving Tree
The Little Engine That Could
The Little Red Car
The Monster At The End of This Book
The Velveteen Rabbit
Three Billy Goats Gruff
Today I Feel Like A Warm Fuzzy
Where did the Baby Go?
Where the Wild Things Are

If you're looking to add some of these titles to your personal library, most are available on Amazon, except for one or two that are no longer in print. Check out the cool spinny widget thingy below for a few of them.


Parenting Quote - Haim Ginott

"Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it."

- Haim Ginott

Bloggy Giveaway Winner!

Folks, we have a winner in our Goodnight Moon Bloggy Giveaway!

We asked entrants to leave a comment about their favorite childhood books and had a ton of great entries. I will be compiling the entries into a comprehensive list in an upcoming post.

For those of you who didn't win, Goodnight Moon is available on Amazon for $8.99.

I used a random number generator to pick the winner from the appropriate qualifying posts..... and the winner is Chuck who actually left a number of childhood favorites.

Chuck wins a copy of Goodnight Moon! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered.


Parents' Childhood Books

When the Bloggy Giveaway is over tomorrow I will compile a list of the children's books that were the favorites of those who entered the contest. There are tons of great entries and I'd love to share them with everyone. Some I've heard of, some I haven't, so check back after the giveaway is over!


Child Dressed as Bunny

A Christmas Story is one of my all time favorite holiday movies. If you don't recognize the title right off, I'm sure the phrases 'You'll shoot your eye out', 'Red Rider BB Gun', and 'Raaalphiee!' will jog your memory appropriately. If it's still not ringing a bell. TNT plays it for a full 24 hours straight during the holiday season, so you can catch it then.

In one scene of the movie, the parents of protagonist Ralphie force him to dress in the bunny costume he received as a gift from a relative. Against his will he does as they ask and is completely humiliated. When I saw the video below for the first time, that scene in A Christmas Story immediately came to mind.


The Godfather's View on Real Men

I was watching The Godfather (for the 812th time) and I picked up on a great quote from Don Corleone.

"A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

Old school, yes, but that's part of what makes it so awesome. Many traditionalists consider the Mr. Mom phenomenon to be populated by overly sensitive or non-traditional men. However, a statement like this that rooted in old world philosophy that jives with modern trends is universal across generations.

It makes a dad's responsibility to his family clear in no uncertain terms and highlights where one's priorities should lie. Make no mistake about it, dads who spend time with their families are the real men. Don Corleone says so.

On a tangential note, this quote occurs in dialog a few moments before the infamous horse head-in-the-bed scene. This scene was mimicked in an ad for the Audi R8 which first ran during the 2008 Superbowl.

Goodnight Moon Bloggy Giveaway

Goodnight Moon has been a children's classic for decades and is an integral part of my son's nightly bedtime ritual. It's a book that my family loves and one I'd like to share with a lucky winner for the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival.

If want to win a copy, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite story or book was as a child and why you want this copy of Goodnight Moon. While you're here, I'd love it if you poked around a bit and signed up for my RSS feed. The contest is open only to those in the continental U.S. due to shipping costs and restrictions, sorry!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button I will announce the winner here on Fatherhood Matters in a few days.

Good luck!


Derek Redmond Visa Olympics Commercial

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics a British runner named Derek Redmond was forced to stop mid-sprint in the 400 meter event due to a snapped hamstring. Derek tried to finish despite his terrible injury but it did not appear as though he would be able.

The physical pain through which he was going is inescapable. He fell to the ground in pain and stretcher-carrying medics made their way to him. Determined to finish, Redmond got back up and began to hobble in an attempt to cross the finish line. Anyone watching realized that would likely not reach complete the race.

Then out of nowhere an older man, clearly not a runner, appears jogging down the track behind Redmond and hoists his arm over his shoulder and begins helping the ailing athlete. The man was Derek Redmond's father, Jim Redmond. Jim burst through security and on to the track to help his son and the two completed the lap together.

Derek was officially disqualified and lists as not finishing that race, however his determination and the actions of his father likely make it one of the most memorable laps in Olympic running history. This event was recently chronicled in a Visa ad for the 2008 summer Olympics and is a stellar portrait of fatherhood.

Update 7/28/08:
Here is the full video of Redmond's race and a brief interview with the father after the race.


Baby Histerical at Wii Golf

This video is enough to make me want to buy a Wii!


Family Meal Time Reduces Risky Sexual Behavior in Teens

You never knew dining together was so important, did you? A recent analysis of data by a group at Boston College found a very strong link between the amount of family interaction in which teens partake and the amount and riskiness of sexual activity
The more times a week that an adolescent reported having dinner with their family, "doing something religious" as a family, or having fun with their family, the less likely he or she was to engage in risky sexual behaviour, the researchers found.

However, having a parent who used "negative and psychologically controlling" behaviour increased the likelihood that a teen would be having risky sex. This includes "criticising the ideas of the adolescents, controlling and directing what they think and how they feel," Dr Coley explained.
I think this analysis strengthens what many good parents already know, pay attention to your child and involve them in your family and their risk profile, sexual or otherwise, will decrease. It's nice to see statistical analysis applied to correlate a parent's behavior with that of their child. It makes it clear that parental involvement is crucial to a child's development.


Why You Should Always Register Your Car Seats

This past week we stepped up to the next size car seat for the little one. Attached to the installation instructions was a product registration card, which I started to slide into the fold of the 'how to' booklet. I was about a half second away from forgetting I ever saw the card in the first place when I noticed big, bold print telling me why I should register my car seat.

When you register your car seat you give the manufacturer a method to contact you in case of a product recall. While you should be reading The Week in Recalls here on Inside Fatherhood, registering your car seats and other child-related products makes sure you are aware of any notices or warnings that materially effect your child's products.

They only take a minute to fill out and are often postage paid, so when dealing with children's products registration cards are a quick and easy way to ensure your child's safety.


Child Laughing At Ripping Paper

There's nothing better than a kid's laughter.


3 Ways for working parents to spend more time with young kids

1. Early to bed, early to rise.

Aside from the "early to bed, early" to rise cliche you've always heard, going to bed and rising early will maximize the time you have to spend with your baby or young child. This aligns you more with their sleep patterns so you are both awake during more of the same hours.

I wake up early so I can spend time with my boy before I leave for work, and I love it. I take him for walks in the morning with our dog and it's great quality time that gets us both lots of fresh air. Not only does it increase my time with him, it de-emphasizes work by fitting in more activity in my day before I ever even arrive at the office. I find that I am no longer waking up and rushing out the door, but enjoying my home and family more before I start my professional day.

2. Utilize your lunch time better.

A properly utilized lunch time is a great way to increase your time with your kids. I've done this in three primary ways:
a: Finish any errands or tasks during your lunch time that you would otherwise do at night. This will free up your evenings and reduce the number of things which may infringe your time together.

b: Visit your child during your lunch time or have them come to you if the other parent is able to drive them. My wife and son visit me quite often at noon and I love seeing them. I always have a good time, even if we just run errands together, and it really breaks up my day.

c: If your work schedule is flexible enough, try taking a shorter lunch period or working through lunch and get out early. I often try to get into the office early because I get up early (see #1) , take half a lunch and head on home to see my boy.

3. Feed them.

Having dinner together as a family is a great bonding time. It is time well spent together and gives you the opportunity to be part of the child's routine. Meals are a significant part of a child's day and by being part of one, you are taking a major role in your child's life. For me, feeding my son is a messy and time consuming endeavor, but he's happy and interactive during the process so it's great quality time.


Pregnancy Pact Quadruples Teen Pregnancies at MA High School

I'm not even sure what to say about this other than it is so incredibly bizarre, pathetic and sad on many levels... A high school in Massachusetts has seen high school pregnancies rise to quadruple last year's rate. At the heart of it, a pregnancy pact. It seems as though many teens at Gloucester High thought kids were so great they made a pact to all get pregnant and raise their kids together. And no, I'm not making this up.

There are currently 17 expectant students at the high school of 1,200. If you assume that roughly 1/2 the those students are female, and of those 17 are pregnant, then almost 3% of female population is pregnant. I'm highlighting the female population because not all of the fathers were students; reportedly one of the father's was a 24 year old homeless man. And no, I'm not making that up either. They just really wanted to get pregnant.

From Time Magazine online:
As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies—more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there's been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town. School officials started looking into the matter as early as October after an unusual number of girls began filing into the school clinic to find out if they were pregnant. By May, several students had returned multiple times to get pregnancy tests, and on hearing the results, "some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," Sullivan says. All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. "We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy," the principal says, shaking his head.

I really have trouble even wrapping my mind around this. Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad.

Margaret Wise Brown, Author

Goodnight Moon is my son's favorite book. Hovering in the third place slot is The Runaway Bunny. Both are books by Margaret Wise Brown. Many of this early 20th century author's stories feature animals as the main characters and a definite pattern or rhythm. Her approach was to write stories the way kids wanted to hear a story, not how adults tend to tell them.

Tonight while reading GM to my son, as I flipped the last page I noted a blurb about Ms Brown which indicated that she only lived to the age of 42. Out of curiosity I looked up her up on Wikipedia and found out she was quite an interesting lady who lived a relatively full life in a short time. Born in Connecticut in 1910, she began writing children's books at the age of 22 while working at the Bank Street Experimental School in New York City and wrote hundreds of works over the next twenty years.

Brown died unexpectedly of an embolism while on a book tour in Nice, France. According to Wikipedia, two weeks after an emergency... kicking up her leg to show the doctor how well she was feeling ironically caused a blood clot, which had formed in her leg, to dislodge and travel to her heart. A very strange ending, indeed, but the works she created have long outlived her and will be her legacy for generations to come. I can't wait to dig into more of her tales with my son.


Dessert for Hanibal Lecter

In this video a very talented cake maker takes us through the process of making a sculpted, 3-d cake in the shape of a baby. It's quite a complicated and very well-executed... which says nothing for how creepy it is.

Mmmm, baby cake. Save me the face! It's like dessert for Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs.


Chuck Norris gives roundhouse kicks as Father's Day gifts

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost.

Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

If you didn't know these facts about Chuck Norris, you need to read The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About the World's Greatest Human. My wife bought me the book for Father's Day but gave it to me early because she knew how funny I find all the Chuck Norris "facts" circulating the Internet.

The Truth About Chuck Norris is a collection of some of the most popular and ridiculous pseudo-facts about Chuck. The book was written by Ian Spector, the guy who started the whole Internet craze about Mr. Norris in the first place. If you're looking for a funny, mindless read or a goofy gift for a 30-something dad in your life, this is highly recommended.


6 Tips on Starting Solid Foods With Your Baby

Today was my son's six month check up and the pediatrician gave us the OK to start solid foods. While his first few spoon fulls of oatmeal cereal left him with a perplexed and disgusted look on his face, he was soon reaching for the whole cup, trying to get more into his system.

Some tips on starting solids from the good doctor and the American Academy of Pediatric

1. You should wait until your child reaches six months of age to start them on solid foods. This is the recommended age as it reduces instances of food allergies as their digestive systems are better able to handle foods.

2. Cereals are usually the first recommended solids. Rice, oatmeal and barley are the initial line up, and in that order.

3. After introducing cereals and your child gets used to eating, you can begin introducing them to fruit, strained vegetables and meat.

4. Introduce new foods to your baby one at a time. Wait 3 to 4 days between new foods to see if there are any allergic reactions. The 3-4 day waiting period simply lets you determine to which food your child is reacting without dealing with multiple variables.

5. DO NOT give your child eggs, peanut butter, strawberries, tomatoes, citrus, seafood or honey until 1 year old.

6. Get a bib, place mat or tarp. The food will end up everywhere.

As always, consult with your own pediatrician before changing your child's diet.


Sweet T-Rex Kicks

We broke out some new shoes for the boy today that were gifted to us a while back. They have some pretty sweet dinosaurs on them, and frankly I might like an adult-sized pair myself. These are the Robeez T-Rex Slip On, but I'm hoping that maybe someday a forward thinking shoe company (Puma, perhaps?) makes a sneaker for dads that has some slick, removable decor options.

I'd totally wear a pair of T-Rex trainers to the gym to show how bad I am, or maybe a running shoe with a little turtle on the side to show my ironic, easy going side. Even if they weren't athletic sneaks, I'd wear a pair with a penguin on the side, you know, to show that I'm cool.

When someone pointed at them, and I'm sure they would, I'd just say "it's a new dad thing, you probably wouldn't understand."


Recognizing and Understanding Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all U.S. soldiers who have died in service to their country. While it is often hailed as the unofficial start of summer, the holiday was not instituted for the convenience of a 3-day weekend at the start of a season. It was established to honor those who gave their lives for their country.

While there are conflicting historical reports as to where and when the practice of setting aside a day to honor U.S. war casualties began, General John Logan officially declared May 30 to be Memorial Day in 1866. It seems as though a similar observance was followed at various times and places throughout the U.S. following the civil war, but in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. The holiday officially falls on May 30, but is observed annually on the last Monday in May. The day was originally referred to as Decoration Day, but did not become more commonly known as Memorial Day until after World War II.

Regardless of political affiliation or feelings about military action, this day is to remember the individuals who have died in support of our country's defenses. I think it's very important to ensure that younger generations appreciate this day for the purpose for which is was intended. Even if just taking kids to a Memorial Day parade and explaining the basic premise of the day, a little education on the topic will keep the spirit of the holiday intact. I'm not advocating treating the day as a somber occasion with kids, simply making them aware.

If you would like more information on Memorial Day, check out USMemorialDay.org or Wikipedia.


Goodnight Moon

Reading to our son is a cornerstone of his nightly pre-bed bedtime routine. It helps calm him down when he's cranky and tired, and acts as a signal that it's time to start winding down. One of the first books we got for him and a household favorite is Goodnight Moon.

It's the simple story of a bunny climbing into bed and saying goodnight to everything in his surroundings. He says goodnight to pictures on the wall, kittens, a balloon and, among other things, the moon. This Margaret Wise Brown classic has a great rhythm which reads quickly and melodically. The illustrations are great and are all in primary colors, which makes them more easily visible to younger children.

Our son quiets as soon as we start reading and follows along with his little eyes darting across each page. Funny enough, one of his favorite parts is the large white-on-orange circle on the back cover. One reason my wife and I like it so much is that the story is very similar to rituals we practice with him every night; saying goodnight to his stuffed animals, his turtle light, his giant Winnie the Pooh doll, the plants, etcetera before putting him down. Reading is a great way to help boost a child's cognitive skills, establish a nighttime routine and strengthen the parent-child bond, so it's a great things to start if you're not doing it already. If you haven't ever read it to your child, I strongly recommend Goodnight Moon.

* Photo via Amazon.com


Fatherhood Quote - Ken Nerburn

This is a very poignant quote that captures a father's love for his child, and comments on the difficulty of balancing one's attempts to be an ideal role model and provider in spite of being human.
Until you have a son of your own... you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.

- Kent Nerburn


Math Flash Cards for Babies and Children

I'll just come out with it and say that, frankly, I think my baby is a genius. His spit bubbles are form advanced geometric patterns and his jibberish is the most eloquent I've ever heard. Regardless of his intellect, my wife and I have noticed how intently he absorbs his environment, how his eyes trace over new objects and how quickly he seems to grasp new concepts and situations, as simple as they may seem to adults.

He's a sharp kid and I know that it takes extra effort to keep a child like that from getting bored and restless. I wish to foster his natural abilities, so I started looking around for brain-centric activities for babies. In my search I came across Child Genius Magazine online from the International Parenting Association. While digging through their site I found exactly what I was looking for: flash cards for babies.

I downloaded and printed the math diamond flash cards for my son, as I think developing mathematical inclinations at an early age is particularly important. Kids are surrounded by speech constantly and urged to talk as soon as possible, but math tends to be of secondary importance. The cards consist simply of a quantity of diamonds on a page and are flipped through as the parent says the corresponding numeral. They help the child understand the concept of numbers before they learn the numeral or words associated with them.

When I first opened the PDF, I was reminded of Rick Moranis' character in the movie Parenthood, who had his two year old daughter selecting which messy page full of dots was the square root of some arbitrary number. I am against pushing a child to 'achieve' at an early age, as was the case in the movie, but I hoped this would be an activity in which he demonstrated his own interest. I was genuinely surprised by his level of intrigue.

With each card I held up, both my wife and I clearly noticed his little eyes scanning the contents of the otherwise empty pages. I only did numbers one through ten, (the cards go up to 50) but he was clearly acknowledging the shapes on the page. Even more, he would look to the stack of remaining cards to see which card was next as soon as I set down the previous. While that may not seem significant, I think it's a great step towards developing his cognitive abilities.

Will it make him a numerical genius? Who knows. Will it keep his mind active in his formative years? I certainly hope so.

To check out the math flash cards, as well as word and phonogram cards, check out the Early Learning Library section of the Child Genius Magazine page.


We Never Know The Love - Quote by Henry Ward Beecher

"We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents."

- Henry Ward Beecher


Cellphone Camera Baby Pictures

I love photography and have been obsessively snapping pictures of my son since his birth. He's so cute and photogenic that I just can't help it. However, I don't always have my DSLR with me, and often not even a point and shoot. My mobile phone, on the other hand, is mostly always with me. I recently got a Blackjack II and had taken a few photos of things like samples of floor tiles before our bathroom fiasco, but none of any interesting subject matter. I was a little unsure of how the picture quality would be, but I must say I'm rather pleased with the result below.

As always, I had the phone with me when my wife stopped by my office building to say hello today. I went out to the car to meet her and found the little guy conked out in the back. He was so cute that once I started laughing at what a cute little chunk he is, I grabbed the Blackjack and started taking pics. He looked adorable with his mouth gaping open, hands clutched on his Winnie The Pooh clutch ring.

I'm really glad I had it with me because it was such a cute moment that I would have been unable to capture otherwise. I love it when he visits me during the day, asleep or awake, and these mobile pics are a great way to remember that time. There a cute and easy way to freeze a few moments in time that I'm sure will be gone before I know it.


The Importance of Teaching Your Kids To Spell

I saw the above sign on my way to work the other morning. Don't let your kid grow up to be the guy who made this sign, stress the importance of learning to spell.

"Billy, spell 'ahead'."

"Ahead. A - H - E -A - H. Ahead."

"Sit down, Billy."


Thinking of Having Kids?

I laughed my butt off when I read this. Bad Dad Radio has a great post describing an 11 step program for people who are thinking about having kids.

I especially liked the preparatory advice of #3: Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner).
Thinking of Having Kids? Do this 11 step program first!

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the newspaper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their…
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s breast feeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel…
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out…
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.
Check out Bad Dad Radio for the rest of the list.


Are Large Families Status Symbols?

Did you ever think having three or more kids would make you a show off? Would you consider your third born a luxury item? According to an article in the Washington Post, many people, especially in metropolitan areas, would think just that. Especially with gas prices, large luxury SUV's are soooo 5 years ago, so now kids are the new accessory for the wealthy.

The article explores how people with multiple children are now often seen as being ostentatious, depending on their geographic location. It sites the $200,000+ average cost as the reason why so many see larger families less as a loving family unit and more as a display of wealth.

Everyone knows how expensive kids can be, but they don't have to be. I think rampant commercialism, and the particularly susceptible parent-child relationship are what make kids appear to cost a fortune. Parents want to give their children everything they can, and the media is brainwashing kids into thinking they need the latest and greatest of everything, and often times the kids prevail in the battle of need versus want. That is where kids get so much more expensive than the essentials and possibly why children are often viewed as a display of wealth.
Via washingtonpost.com

And yet nowadays, people seem aghast if a couple wants more than two children. When Elana Sigall, a 43-year-old attorney in Brooklyn, was pregnant with her third, people came up to her constantly, she said, to admonish her: "You've got a boy and a girl already. Why don't you just leave it alone?"

What's worse, the desire to have another child opens one up to charges of elitism and status consciousness. In many major U.S. cities and their suburbs -- especially New York, where I live -- having three or more children has now come to seem like an ostentatious display of good fortune, akin to owning a pied-à-terre in Paris. The family of five has become "deluxe." Last year, novelist Molly Jong-Fast mused in the New York Observer, "Are people having four or five children just because they can? Because they feel that it shows their wealth and status? In a world where the young rich use their $13,000 Birkin bags as diaper bags, one has to wonder."

We not only wonder, we marvel, we get jealous, we gawk. "Having three kids in the city is a way of showing off, absolutely," says Elisabeth Egan, who, like many families she knows, moved out of New York to the suburbs of Montclair, N.J., to manage the feat. "A third child in the city is definitely a luxury good."


Tell Me About School Today

I attended a management seminar today that dealt with various facets of managing time and resources in a work environment. Much of the class dealt with interpersonal communication, and held quite a few parallels and applications to life outside the office.

One section in particular focused on asking effective questions. After several small drills to illustrate his point, it was clear to the class that how you ask a question has almost as much to do with the answer you receive as what you actually ask. The lecturer quickly parlayed this into a real world example of interacting with his 13 year old son. His standard question "How was school today?" always garnered the customary response of "Fine" from the boy.

The speaker then relayed how a minor alteration in his question elicited far more information from his son. Instead of asking a very open question which prompts a vague and summary response such as "fine", he turned his question into a statement; "Tell me about school today." This minor tweak placed the conversational onus on his son rather than allowing him the scapegoat answer of "fine."

A question like "how was your day" or "how was school" is non-specific and requests a summary without any detail. "Tell me about your day" puts the subject matter in terms of the person who experienced it, asking them to pick out the items they saw most significant. It's a small technique, but one worth trying and with apparently little downside.


'Cholera Peace' Has A Nice Ring To It

...no? 'Cash Guy'? no? 'Ima Hooker'?

As much joke-like as those names may sound, they've all been used as legal monikers in the past. And as bad as those sound, they have plenty of company in the realm of weird and obscure baby names.

The least common name my wife and I considered when naming our son was Enzo, and that pales in comparison to the number of seven-deadly-sin names which have been popular since the 17 hundreds. (My family would have completely disowned me if I brought little 'Sloth Washington' home from the hospital.)

The Today Show featured a segment about terrible baby names and a book which calls them all to light:

What would compel a parent to bestow a newborn with a name like “Tiny Hooker” or “Fanny Large”? Or an amusing choice like “Wanna Towell"? It’s not just Hollywood’s elite opting for unique, embarrassing names—throughout history, normal people separated their offspring from the masses with truly terrible names.

In “Bad Baby Names: The Worst True Names Parents Saddled Their Kids With, and You Can Too!,” Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback, of the genealogy Web site Ancestry.com, share thousands of shocking names given to real people, as recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Discover the funny names based around common themes, like diseases (Fever Bender, Cholera Peace), food (Bread White, Pomegranate Purple), pets (Good Dog), and if you thought Wednesday Addams was unfortunate—wait till you meet Monday Monday.
Check out the Today Show website for sampling of some painfully bad names like Lunch Magee (I kinda' like that one, actually). Scroll down for a video clip of the interview with Sherrod, explaining the census data used in writing the book and how crazy names are not just a new phenomenon (like Everly Bear)


Swiper, get counseling! Swiper, get counseling!

If you've ever read any of the Dora the Explorer books you have encountered the likes of Swiper, a kleptomaniacal fox. Swiper's sole purpose in life is to steal anything and everything from Dora and her friends, apparently at any cost. The Dora crowd always seems to vanquish this thieving fox by saying aloud with the help of readers, "Swiper, stop swiping! Swiper, stop swiping!" This troublingly simple and highly effective remedy makes you wonder if Swiper has a guilty conscience or just scares easily. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe Swiper is clinically insane?

In one particular story, Dora and her friends were out to get some ice cream on a hot summer day. As they approached an ice cream truck, Swiper flew by in a helicopter in an attempt to steal the ice cream. Once again, they all yell "Swiper, stop swiping!" and he flies off.

This series of events struck me as odd on several levels. Who uses a chopper to hunt down a little girl and some snacks? A psycho, that's who. They always say that if you see a fox during the day there's probably something wrong with it, and Swiper is no exception.

A rational person would realize that the kids will clearly hear the helicopter coming and will be able to defend their ice cream, but Swiper did not. Any way, the rotor wash from the chopper would get dirt in the ice cream making it inedible, another factor for which he failed to account.

Then there's the cost to consider. Super unleaded gas is pushing $3.30 a gallon, which is a cone or small sundae right there, but I can't even imagine what JP-4 (aviation fuel) costs right now. Why not just buy the ice cream with the money he spent on fuel or even trade helicopter rides with the ice cream man for a few cones?

All of this aside, you wonder where in the hell a fox gets a helicopter in the first place. Did he borrow it? Did he rent it?... Did he kill for it?

When all is said and done, Swiper abandons his efforts at the mere sound of kids yelling in unison.

Dora, if I may, a little advice; stop yelling at him and get some mace and a restraining order. Swiper appears to have a very light grasp on reality and suffers from some distinct anti-social conditions. I mean come on, he used a helicopter to try and steal an ice cream cone! If that doesn't scream nuts, I don't know what does. One day he will realize that all you are doing is yelling at him and that words can't hurt him, and then where will you be? Probably tied up in Swiper's basement. Swiper is not stealing because he needs or wants things, he does it to interfere with your life. Dora, Swiper is obsessed with you.

So the next time that Swiper commandeer's a hovercraft to pilfer some new shoelaces or something equally ridiculous, I want you to say with me, "Swiper, get counseling! Swiper, get counseling!" Then call the cops.


Childhood Spanking Leads To Risky Sex

...for the kids that is. Gayla at Super Nanny Rules had a post that caught my eye: Childhood Spanking Leads to Sexual Promiscuity.

Analysis of four spanking-related studies found that children who were spanked were more likely to engage in risky and possibly masochistic sexual practices.
From Fox News:

An analysis of four studies by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire-Durham, found that children who suffer physical punishment in the form of spanking, hitting or slapping are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior as adults, it is reported by USA Today.

The study, presented Thursday to the American Psychological Association, suggests that spanked children also are more likely to be "physically or verbally coercing" to a sexual partner and engage in masochistic sex, including arousal by spanking, later in life.

Yet another reason to think twice before spanking your kid.


Bath Time on Planet Hoth

After every bath we give my son, we immediately wrap him in a bath towel that looks like a bear. It's almost more of an outfit than just a towel; it has a hood with ears that covers his damp little head, and has arms with little paws on the end. It snaps shut in the front to keep him warm and he basically looks like he is wearing a fluffy little bear skin.

And, when I place my son in this outfit after every bath, I inevitably think of one particular scene in The Empire Strikes Back on the icy planet Hoth. If you've seen the movie, you know the scene; Han Solo cuts open a tauntaun and shoves Luke Skywalker inside the carcass of the snow lizard to keep him warm. That's what I picture whenever I towel off my son, and frankly it makes bath time a little more fun for daddy.


Why I Exercise

Just over a year ago I had a minor injury which prevented me from exercising normally. I used to go to the gym four or five times a week but, with this interruption, my exercise routine quickly dropped down to little, if anything. This time period overlapped with my wife's pregnancy, and during those months I found it hard to justify the time or expense of going to the gym on a regular basis. I would walk during my lunch hour on nice days, but this ground to a halt as the winter weather worsened.

For the past few months I have done almost no exercise what so ever, and I can clearly see and feel the difference. I kept intending to start exercising again, but it wasn't urgent and I never got around to it. Then I realized that I was starting to sound like other people who make excuses for why they don't eat right or exercise enough. They intend to, but there's always presently some inconvenience stopping them. The most common line people use "I'll start as soon as... [fill in the blank]" and that just never happens. It's pushed off to some indeterminate time in the future, and that's what I had started doing. This realization started to alert me to the fact that I needed to take some action.

Then, after repeatedly hearing the phrase "before you know it he'll be in high school" in conversations regarding my son, I realized that there is an urgency in making sure I'm physically fit. So, I listened to that little voice in my head and renewed my membership at the gym.

It is important to me that I spend as much quality time with my son as possible, and that I want to be able to keep up with him when he does reach high school (which is only about six weeks away for him, or so I'm told.) And while that is a ways away, I don't want to be fat and miserable, trying to play catch-up 15 years from now. Even before he reaches that age, I don't want to just pass time together, I want to experience things with him and spend time interacting. I want to be able to do things with him, from skiing and camping to hiking and soccer. Active things. Things that I will need to be in shape to do. Exercise will not only help me get there a few years down the road, but it will improve my quality of life with him in the mean time.

I have started a new exercise program and feel better already. My shoulders are fatigued and my hands shaky after my work out tonight which makes typing difficult, but it's worth it. I exercise for my son and I exercise for my wife. I exercise because I want to be there for both of them for many years to come. I want to fill up those years and not let them slip buy as empty pages off a calendar.


Parenting Quote - C.G. Jung

"If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves. "

- C.G. Jung, Integration of the Personality, 1939


Breast Feeding Quote - Irena Chalmers

Seeing as how my baby boy is incredibly hungry and seemingly always glued to my wife's boobs, I thought a quote about breast feeding might be appropriate.
"There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it."

-Irena Chalmers