Jellyfish Attack

When I was a kid, probably 7 or 8, my family spent a day at a Southern California beach, building sand castles, playing in the surf, and eating slightly sandy hot dogs.

I remember that day because I was viciously attacked by a jellyfish!

Okay, so it was a mild sting. Very mild, in fact. But I was at that age where everything is amplified tenfold because it’s new and strange. In my mind, the ocean was suddenly filled with millions of horrible little jellyfish reaching out with their long, poisonous tentacles.

If only I had known that jellyfish are beautiful creatures. They’re even kind of cute and cuddly. Most of all, they are quite useful. Continue reading

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

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

Father’s Day Giveaways

I’m kicking off an entire week of Father’s Day giveaways with this review of a beautiful new picture book for young children.

Because I Am Your Daddy, written by Sherry North, is just the kind of bedtime book I liked reading to my kids when they were toddlers. It’s filled with imagination and adventure, as the dad in the story tells of different dreams he could pursue in life and how his kids will be there each step of the way.

The rhyming couplets are simple and easy for preschoolers to read, such as, “If I were an inventor, I would make a high-tech tree / That pops open a tree house when you turn the secret key.”

Each couplet is accompanied by a whimsical two-page watercolor illustration by Marcellus Hall that is sure to fuel your kids’ creativity.

It’s great to see such a lovingly-crafted book about dads who want nothing more than to help their children’s dreams come true.

What a great Father’s Day present this book would make! And I just happen to have a copy to give away to one of my readers.

Leave a comment on this post, simply saying “I want!” and I’ll pick a winner this weekend.

Check back tomorrow for another Father’s Day giveaway on my blog.

Good Kids, Bad Habits Giveaway

It’s been a giveaway kind of week around here, and I have one more contest for you.

Good Kids, Bad Habits is a really insightful book about raising healthy children. The author, a pediatrician named Jennifer Trachtenberg, is concerned with kids developing unhealthy habits that will follow them into adulthood.

She writes about how a few simple changes in childhood can help kids avoid chronic adult problems like depression, obesity, and low self-esteem. There’s no better time in your children’s young lives than right now to instill positive, healthy habits and routines.

This book supplies many of the tools parents will need to do just that. Starting with the RealAge Healthy Kids Test, you can find out how healthy your child’s habits are. This might surprise you. As we go through our busy days, it’s far too easy to overlook, or even blatantly allow, bad habits in areas ranging from nutrition to fitness to safety.

Immediately after the test, Trachtenberg begins offering real world solutions to changing things for the better. Chapters have titles like “Eat Up,” which discusses healthy food habits, “Shape Up,” which focuses on fitness, and “Chin Up,” which talks about self-esteem building.

Along the way, in each chapter, there are more questions to ask yourself and your kids. But the key in this book is the straightforward problem-solving solutions.

It’s an impressive, easy-to-read and digest, guide to helping kids grow into healthy adults. I’m glad the publishers sent it to me for review, as it’s been personally useful for my family, and I’m more than happy to be able to give a copy away to one of my readers.

To win this book, simply leave a comment describing a “healthy habit” that has worked for you and your children.

I’ll pick a winner at the end of next week.

Also, don’t forget about the other contests from this week. Enter here and here.

Life Is A Highway

Grand Tetons National Park, by Ann Torrence

Have you ever dreamed of quitting your job and devoting yourself to one of the many neglected interests that now taunt you with thoughts of, “If I only had more hours in the day, I think I could be good at that.”

Ann Torrence had that dream.

But it wasn’t until she experienced a run of bad luck, from a long sickness to the loss of her beloved camera into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, that she decided to stop dreaming and turn her budding photographic skills into a career.

That was eight years ago, and in that time Ann has become an extraordinarily gifted artist. Not only that, but she’s gained the respect of her fellow photographers. She is now in demand as an instructor at the University of Utah and the Moab Photo Symposium. And this year she was named the 2010 Artist-in-Residence for the Entrada Institute of Torrey, Utah.

However, she realized one of her biggest goals this past fall when her first book of photography was published.

U.S. Highway 89: the Scenic Route to Seven Western National Parks is a project Ann first envisioned seven years ago. She began traveling the historic 1,600 mile route from Mexico to Canada, and visiting the seven national parks along the way, driving over 15,000 miles and collecting a massive number of photos and stories. It was only natural that it would all come together into a stunning book that bears witness to a part of the American West that is rapidly changing.

As I read through U.S. Highway 89, I’m amazed at how much time and effort Ann put into this labor of love. It all shows on page after page of beautiful images and engaging text. She tells stories about legendary trappers, modern cowboys, and other aspects of the West. Best of all, she ties it all to the Highway that winds through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, and provides access to such national parks as Yellowstone, Glacier, Zion, Saguaro, and Grand Canyon.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sounds like a road trip!”

If you can’t hit the highway, you can do the next best thing and order the U.S. Highway 89 book through Ann’s website, where you can score an autographed copy, or from Amazon.

Ann has been a friend for over 30 years, and I’m thrilled to see her realize a dream. It makes me think about my own goals and aspirations for the future once the job of being a homeschooling stay-at-home dad comes to an end.

For now, I’m happy to be able to devote an hour or so each night to this blog. And to see what it might become.

You know what else makes me happy?

Giving stuff away!

Ann has generously provided a copy of Highway 89 for me to give to one of my readers. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post.

I’ll pick a winner next week.