The Walking Dads

Hadrian's Wall

“Bloody hell!”

That’s what my British friend exclaimed after I informed him of my plan to walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path for a third time this summer.

He thought I was insane, to once again take on the 84 mile trail in the north of England, to suffer the blisters and twisted ankles, the rain and rough terrain, the sleepless nights in barns and hostels.

Yes, I would have to be a little crazy do it a third time.

Or, maybe, I would have a very, very good reason.

And that’s exactly what I have. A very good reason to pull on my boots, fly across the Atlantic, travel to the wilds of Northumberland, and walk in the footsteps of Roman Centurions as I did the first time in 2010, and again in 2014 with my son’s Boy Scout troop.

The reason this time is Oren Miller.

2631607_55e4b2017c72bOren was a dad blogger, but he is most remembered for establishing and maintaining the largest community of dad bloggers in the world, via Facebook. His efforts to bring together writers of all kinds who want to be a voice in support of modern fatherhood has paid off with a cohesive group of dads who support each other and support changes in how dads are viewed and treated.

Oren passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer. Since then, Oren has been honored for not only the work he did to support dad bloggers, but also for the beautiful and poignant words he wrote for his children during the time that he fought for his life.

And now, one more well-deserved honor for Oren.

Camp Kesem, the only national organization that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer, will be opening a new chapter of their summer camp at the University of Maryland in Oren’s name. It will join 80 other locations around the country which provide a free camping experience to over 6,000 children touched by a parent’s cancer. These week-long camps are run by passionate college student leaders and gives kids a peer-support network that understands their unique needs, builds confidence and strengthens their communication skills.

It’s an amazing organization, doing real good for children affected by a parent’s cancer. And all completely funded by generous donations from individuals and corporate support.

So, what does this have to do with my long walk?

12 well-known dad bloggers, writers and influencers, including myself, have taken on the challenge of walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path this July to call attention to and raise funds for Camp Kesem. All of the money that our group raises during this effort will go directly to launch the new Camp Kesem chapter at the University of Maryland, which happens to be the alma mater of Oren Miller and his wife, Beth.

It won’t just be a dozen dads hiking that trail. As one of the group, Brent Almond, recently commented, “This is a community effort – backed by so many members of the mom and dad blogging community. There may be 12 of us going on the walk. But there are literally thousands of us committed to the journey.”

Please be a part of this journey by visiting our Camp Kesem fundraising page, and making a donation. Or by helping us publicize the page. Or simply follow along as a bunch of dads take a very long walk for an amazing cause. Over the next four months, I will have much to discuss as we make preparations for the trip.

Again, our website and fundraising page is www.Dads4Kesem.org

I’m A Dad Behaving Dadly!

For more than a decade, I’ve watched a good number of my fellow mom and dad bloggers take their hobbies to the next level, landing book deals and realizing their dreams of seeing themselves on book store shelves and Amazon pages.

I’m happy to announce that it is finally my turn to make the transition from computer screen to printed page. Continue reading

So You Want to Start a Dad Blog?

There are an estimated 40,000 mom blogs out there, giving mothers advice, support, and a place to vent.

How many dad blogs are there? It’s hard to get an exact count, although NPR estimated it to be in the “hundreds.” I would guess that the online dads number roughly 10% of the moms.

In other words, dads have a ways to go. So, if you’re a dad, help us out. Get busy and start a blog.

Making the decision to start a dad blog is easy.

Deciding where to focus your blog is also pretty straight-forward. Write about dad stuff, from the trials and tribulations of being a new father to the wisdom that comes with the experience of raising children.

The hard part of the dad blog comes with finding a title for your new endeavor.

Don’t think that all the good names have been taken. Here are some tips to choosing a unique blog name that will fit you and your musings. Continue reading

Whose Life Is It To Share?

We share so much of ourselves these days.

Between Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, blogs, email, and texts, it’s easy to have almost every aspect of our lives spread all over the Internet for the enjoyment of family and friends.

And strangers.

Because so much of what you’re sharing is wide open to anyone anywhere with a computer or smart phone.

But that’s okay, right? It’s your choice to share yourself with the world. If your Facebook posts and Instagram photos are set to “public” or your Pinterest page features personal photos, that’s your business.

And if you write a mom or dad blog, with your personal thoughts about parenting, you have it set to publish to the world, to gain as big an audience as possible. I know I do.

This is where my question comes in. Whose life is it to share? I’m not talking about yours. That’s an easy answer. It’s your life to share.

But what about your kids? Did you ask them if it was okay to share their life with the world?

I started my dad blog nearly eleven years ago, when my kids were 5 and 2. It never occurred to me to ask for their permission. I certainly took some precautions to shield them from fame by not revealing their names, and to not feature close-up photos of their faces.

My kids have always known about my blog. They’ve just never been terribly interested in it. I blather on enough in real life, they don’t need to read even more of my daddy musings. They’ve lived through it already.

Several days ago, however, my daughter decided to read my blog. The first post she saw was about her having a very public meltdown over a spider when she was a 3-year-old.

“Well, that was embarrassing,” she told me. “I hope none of my friends see that.”

I was perplexed. I mean, she was a toddler. It was a decade ago. I asked her why it was embarrassing.

In her infinite teenage wisdom, she replied, “It just is! It’s my life!”

She makes a very strong point.

Now, I’m not going to go back through thousands of posts to edit or delete anything that might elicit a response from my daughter of, “Oh my god, Dad, why did you say that about me, I’m going to die!”

Because I’m confident there aren’t that many of those. Also, I don’t have the time.

But it sure has me thinking about what right a parent has to share so much of their child with the world.

Simply look to Hollywood and the world of former child stars who have struggled with being in the public eye at such a young age. Many of them either had no choice, or didn’t understand the ramifications of sharing so much of themselves with the world.

Will we be seeing a new generation of children angry with their parents for placing them front and center on a parent blog, or a YouTube channel, or anywhere a devoted following of fans can grow on the Internet?

As a parent blog reader, I’ve intruded onto some very intimate moments in some children’s lives. From bed-wetting to kindergarten crushes to pre-teen depression, there are any number of subjects that you wouldn’t normally discuss outside of your family or circle of friends. And yet, some bloggers do just that, whether to seek advice or commiseration or even fame.

As my daughter said, it’s her life. I’ve been careful over the years to maintain her privacy, but maybe not careful enough. For as much enjoyment I receive from keeping this blog, it’s not worth it if one of my kids feels that I’ve broken that unwritten confidentiality agreement that all members of a family should have with each other.

I wouldn’t be very happy if my daughter started a blog and wrote humorous out-of-context anecdotes about my piggish ice cream eating habits, or the unholy mess on my office desk, or the not-so-funny comment I made about the neighbor down the street.

It’s my life, and it’s up to me if I want to share it with the world.

Now go back and re-read that sentence in the voice of your child. If you want your kids to respect your privacy, it’s only fair for you to respect theirs. Next time you post a picture or story to the general public, think about whose life it really is to share.

A New Look

So, after ten years as “A Family Runs Through It,” I’ve made a little change. Or maybe it’s a big change.

It’s really just a name change.

New name, new look, new insights on being a dad.

Let me know what you think. Comments have been few and far between the past few years as everyone has moved their social interaction to Facebook and Twitter.

But it would be nice to know if anyone still reads this blog.

How to Kill Your Dad Blog

I’m in my tenth year of blogging.

Long time readers may have noticed a slight decrease in the frequency of my posts. Like, from 3 posts a week to 3 posts a month.

There are any number of reasons for this, and you might guess that I’ve just become much busier as my kids have entered their teen years. But, actually, the main reason for the slowdown in posts is that I went and did something I never thought I could do.

I became a morning person. Or, rather, I quit being a night owl.

For the first 8 years or so of this blog, I wrote my posts late at night, after the kids were asleep. I’d been active at night for as long as I could remember. Then, suddenly, it all changed when I looked in the mirror and noticed I was old, and old people have to go to bed really early, right? And they eat dinner at 4:30. And play shuffleboard.

No, I was just tired. Unbelievable exhaustion had set over me for some reason, and I realized that going to bed before midnight might just be the cure. It worked, and my late nights were over, and I became a morning person, and the blog posts withered in my mind as I lay my head down on the pillow for a good night’s sleep.

However, this blog is still here, and I’m still writing on it. There is still some value here for me. And maybe for you.

I’m not ready to kill my blog, as so many of my fellow dad bloggers from long ago have done. In fact, I was recently looking through my Google Reader Dad Blog subscriptions, and was surprised to see how many of them were gone, disappeared from the Internet as if they never existed.

But that’s a post for another day. It’s 10 o’clock, time for bed!

Lost

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but for a few days last week this blog was lost.

As in, completely gone, right off the Internets. Nine years of musings lost forever.

A part of me wasn’t too upset that I might not have this blog anymore. Life has been far too busy this past year to write on a regular basis.

But I was quite disturbed that all of my writings may have vanished into thin air.

I know, back up your files! Well, I’ve backed up everything else that was important: family photos and music. I hadn’t gotten around to making copies of my blog posts.

Luckily, I discovered that Google has kept a cached copy of my blog feed for the past 1000 posts. Good enough, I thought. But then, after three days of head-scratching, the technicians at my host company were able to reset the database on my site, and everything was back to normal.

Now to back up those blog posts properly. At the very least, I think my kids might want to read back through them some day. Just for giggles. Or for parenting advice.

I’m glad my blog isn’t lost.

Where Did I Go?

“Did you stop blogging?”

“Are you dead?”

“How come you aren’t giving more stuff away?”

All of these questions were not asked by anyone. In fact, nobody seems to have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post in three weeks.

Should that worry me? After eight years, and thousands of posts, does anyone still regularly read this blog?

I’ve been away because, for the past month, I’ve been involved in a massive fundraising activity for my son’s Scout troop. Well, not massive, but relatively big. Bigger than anything I’ve done before.

We just finished selling nearly $8000 worth of honey, BBQ sauce, and honey mustard. This involved a lot of standing around outside grocery stores pleading with people to buy our cute little honey bears. And they did, almost 700 bottles of the stuff.

It was a wonderful day when we packed up the signs and tables for the last time. The phrase, “Would you like to buy some honey to support my scout troop?” will forever echo in my memory.

Now I can tackle the to-do list that has been building for four weeks. And that includes quite a few unwritten blog posts.

To answer the questions:

Yes, I stopped blogging. But only temporarily. I have no intention to give up this blog just yet.

No, I’m not dead. I just need some sun.

In fact, I do have some cool things to give away. Watch this blog in the next few days for a contest from Wendy’s!

They Got Me

I am flummoxed, perplexed, and bamboozled.

The hackers got me, and there seems to be nothing I can do about it.

For over ten years, I’ve maintained various web sites for hobbies and interests. Actually, they haven’t needed much maintaining. A couple of them showed previous updates in 2003.

In the last few days, hackers hit them with a strange little code that connected to several porn sites. Not only that, but music and sound effects would play over top my pages.

Luckily, my blog was safe. For over seven years I’ve kept this blog and had little problem with it, first at Blogger and now at WordPress.

But then, just today, another very odd thing happened. As you can see if you scroll down a bit, roughly 4 months of posts are missing.

This is what has me perplexed. Where did those posts go? And how do I get them back? I really have no idea.

Thankfully, there are no porn links or strange sounds appearing here on A Family Runs Through It. Just 4 months of my family’s life missing.

Those old web sites I can delete. I don’t need to worry about the cats and the hats and the Seinfeld Quotes. But I do like my blog and want to keep it going.

The hackers have wounded me, but I’ll recover.

I’ve Been Up to London to Visit the Queen

Having homeschooled my kids for four years now, I’ve grown accustomed to the vast amounts of time it takes up each day.

That busy schedule has never stopped us from piling on, and this school year is no exception, as we begin an advanced learner program for both kids.

On top of that, we have Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, bowling, new kittens, piano lessons, and an ill-advised stint for me as the coach of my daughter’s soccer team.

I don’t even want to mention the fact that every electronic appliance in our home has conspired to fail at the same time.

So, it’s no wonder my blog postings have been few and far between.

When I did have some time in the past month, I spent it writing up some travel posts at Uptake.com.

If you can spare a minute or two, head over to read my thoughts on:

Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London.

Or, closer to home:

Universal Studios and the San Diego Zoo.

Maybe you’ll be inspired to start planning your next family vacation!

As for me, I’ll be back in a few days with a giveaway of a great new Wii game.