The Awesome Gift Guide For Dads

The season of giving and sharing is upon us. It’s a time of charity, of helping those less fortunate, and of extending a helping hand to our fellow man.

And when you’re done with that, it’s time to go shopping!

Whichever holiday you celebrate, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa to Festivus, my Awesome Gift Guide for Dads might help you find just the right thing for the dads in your life. Many of the items on this list were suggested by my fellow dad bloggers. Continue reading

5 Ways To Communicate With Your Teen

You know the stereotype of the uncommunicative teenager.

The indifferent look, the rolled eyes, earbuds firmly in place, off in their own little world while mom and dad try desperately to find a way in.

It’s not impossible to communicate with your teen. There are five guaranteed methods for getting through to them.

And by guaranteed, I mean they work for me.

Sometimes. Most of the time. Hey, they’re better than nothing. Continue reading

The Prize Inside

General Mills Cereals

When I was a kid, and my mom would let me pick out a breakfast cereal at the store, my loyalty to one brand or another was usually trumped by something else.

The prize inside the box!

That was some powerful marketing, because I remember trying out new cereals just because of the cool prize that was promised.

I always dug that thing out of the box with the first breakfast. You never just waited for it to come out on its own. Continue reading

You Little Punk! SOL REPUBLIC Review & Giveaway

It’s that time of the year. Only a few more weeks until Black Friday and the start of the holiday shopping season. Coming up with good gift ideas for friends and family isn’t always easy. Well, I’m here to help!

Sol Republic products have a great reputation in our house, so when they sent me a Punk, one of their new wireless speakers, to review as a holiday gift idea, I knew it would be good. Continue reading

Somewhere In My Memory

Alnwick Castle Memories

Try to remember what you had for dinner on the 16th of July this past summer.

Now try to remember what you were doing on the afternoon of June 5, 2012.

Anything?

If you can recall the details of those days, you must keep a daily diary, or you have a photographic memory. Or, maybe you looked it up on Facebook just now.

Most likely, you were traveling. Continue reading

10 Cool Things For Kids in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the crown jewel of our National Park System. It was the first of its kind, and remains the most unique and diverse wilderness experience that you will find in this country.

It’s also an extremely cool place for kids.

But with almost 3500 square miles of lakes, geysers, canyons, and hot springs, there’s too much to see in one short stay. So, after four visits to Yellowstone, and consultation with my own children, I have compiled the following list of park sights and activities that will make your family trip an especially memorable one.

Ten Cool Things For Kids (and Grown-Ups) in Yellowstone National Park:

1. Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Dragon's Mouth Spring

How can you resist telling your kids that a dragon lives in a cave near a mud volcano? It doesn’t take much imagination to think that this cavern, with its growls and thumps, and spitting steam, might just hold a real dragon.

2. Fishing Cone

Yellowstone Fishing Cone

It’s probably just a tall tale, but the story goes that the early trappers and explorers would catch fish in Yellowstone Lake, swing them directly into the Fishing Cone geyser just off shore, and have a meal of boiled fish in just minutes. “Hook and cook,” they called it. Like the dragon cave, another cool sight that will fire up the imagination.

3. Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn lobby as seen from Bat's Alley; Jim Peaco; October 2003

What kid won’t love the largest log hotel in the world? Just walk inside the 100-year-old Inn’s lobby, with its four stories of lodgepole pine balconies and 500-ton stone fireplace, and your kids might just want to sit for awhile. Preferably in one of the many handmade wood rocking chairs. Better yet, stay in one of the Inn’s rooms. Prices are reasonable, and the food in the dining room is first-class.
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.

The Great War For Kids

There’s one thing about history that my daughter quickly learned in her early elementary school days. Humans seem to always be fighting each other.

It’s an unpleasant subject on the surface, but if you’re going to instill a love of history in your children, you can’t avoid the fact that they will, inevitably, be reading about war.

And they will find it utterly fascinating. Continue reading