Monday, April 14, 2014

Building Your Child's Confidence.

 
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt  

   Recently our older two (8 and 4 years old at time of post) have had some crowning moments in their extracurricular activities that turned my thoughts to the topic of confidence. I would have called myself a confident child. Even with the praise of a diligent mother, I could easily be swayed from being sure of myself. I can pinpoint a few times before I turned 18 that could be labeled as moments where I felt confident, and sports teams appear to be the top contenders for how that happened.

   For our 'Lil Miss, she joined a small cheer team. After near two months of practice, they performed at a college in front of hundreds of people. For a girl that can second guess every social situation to tears, she said her butterflies left her body as the team took the floor and they performed a near flawless routine. The energy was coming off of her the entire time and such a great showing made the day that much more sweet for her. It was her first trophy and you could tell how much the whole experience meant to her. In the short time following, she's already expressing interest in other activities that we are sure will build on the confidence that we're already seeing grow within her.

   For our 'Lil Man, T-Ball is about half over, and hitting off the T was replaced with coach pitching. I had been working on that at home, but never expected it this season. During the allotted 90 minutes, my little buddy swung with all his might during his first and second at bat with no success. His third clipped the top of the ball for a bunt-like single. As the game came to a close, and coach yelled out "last batter" to the other team, my 'Lil Man swung once, then connected on the second pitch. The ball sailed into the outfield and brought in loaded bases. The entire group of parents cheered him on and the coach scooped the entire small team of 6 boys in his arms saying how great they ended the game. Our little guy was beaming the rest of the day, and couldn't wait for his next game.

  As I recalled the events with a neighbor, I thought how much these activities can give to our little ones. My comment was that whatever my little ones were destined for, it was my job to give them opportunities to shine, build character and confidence, and be their biggest fan along the way. We can provide the vehicle for these budding minds to be strong and independent. I think we just need to keep trying to be selfless and give them their time to build their courage.

J.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Your Child's Homework Habits

 
"Homework: Because 7 hours of schoolwork wasn't enough." - Unknown
 
   We here at The Cheeky House are neck deep in the beginnings of our eldest child's homework. Being in 2nd grade, there is getting to be a little bit more, and we're still working on what is best for our 'Lil Miss to do well and get the most out of it. The Wife was the last of 5 children and her parents were pretty much done helping with homework the time she came along. I was habitual about lying that I didn't have any homework, which probably explains a lot about my high school and college grades. Wanting to break the cycle of both, we're working on some ways to help our wee ones succeed with their homework, after all that schoolwork during the day.
 
   I visited Parent.com, which had a great article 7 Ways to Establish Good Homework Habits that highlights some great ideas to make homework productive. The two that we've specifically focused in on are:
 
Designate a regular place to do homework  -  We tried the desk attached to the kids' bunk bed, and that doesn't work, unless there is supervision (not enough room). We've chosen the kitchen table. It also needs to be added that the distractions of television, siblings, doing dishes, etc. can ALL impede a good homework session.
 
Designate a regular time to do homework - Can I play first, watch a show first, or anything else first, are all ways to procrastinate. Take it from the Procrastination Champion 1981-89, if it's put off, it will not be done. That's as true with our kids as it was with me. We have our 'Lil Miss do her homework right after a quick snack so that it's done. Then she can move onto her own projects.
 
The other five ways that were great ideas are:
 
- Let your child play a role in the setting the rules.
- Observe your child's homework habits.
- Don't do your child's homework for her.
- Give positive feedback.
- Keep in touch with your child's teacher. If your child
 
   So the battle rages on, and will for some time. It's important to us that our children do better than we and our parents did. It sure feels like an uphill battle, but the above suggestions feel like a great road map to success. Now it's just keeping it up. (sigh......)
 
J.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keeping Promises With Your Children


"Magic trick: to make people disappear, ask them to fulfill their promises." - Mason Cooley

   A promise is something that seems to its meaning over time. When we're young it floats between a method to get 15 more minutes of play time all the way to the unbreakable bond between child and a friend or parent.

   As a young boy, I questioned the strength of a promise when my parents divorced. Not understanding what divorce really meant, I can recall the fragility of any promise thereafter. I figured if the family wasn't the promise of a bond that lasted, then what was? My buddy promising we'd double date to prom was an unstable prospect, and I had a hard time finding faith in a promise from that point on.

   Fast forward to becoming a father and the definition ebbs and flows again. "I promise we can do it tomorrow" can seem hollow when a parent is just hoping the subject will be forgotten by the next day. Soon, in the blink of an eye, our little ones are calling us out on our promises and we as parents are left caught in a broken bond by our biological constituents.

   A recent promise was made to our 'Lil Miss that we would dress up her bed corner. Shadow boxes, cork board, and artwork were all included in a promise that we would put it all up. It was promised "tomorrow" for three days, until our sweet little one called us out on it, reminded us that we'd promised it for several times. The feeling between us parents was that we needed to keep the simple promises if we hopes she would trust the complex ones. It is also a lesson so that we can trust hers. So we took the time to get her little corner all set up, and the result was well worth the work. She was beaming and wanted to invite all her friends over to see it.

   It was a reminder that we're only as good as our word. While circumstances can change, I believe we need to be more careful when we're promising things to our little ones. They hold us to it and I'm trying to be true to my word more these days.

J.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When I Got Caught Shoplifting



“I left my money somewhere, probably in your wallet. Let me check.
” - Jarod Kintz, 

   When I was twelve, I was at the local grocer with a friend, looking through the candy isle. I had my eye on the row of Jelly Bellies, and I wasn't leaving without a nice bag full of the sweet goodness. Money? Pfffttt,.....no, I didn't have the money for it. I was wearing an over sized army surplus jacked with some BIG pockets. I looked left and right, slipped the large bag of my score into the jacket pocket, and made my way out of the store. A young associate jogged up behind me and politely asked me to empty my pockets. I was busted, had to call my mom, and later explain to her and my father just what the heck I was thinking. I did community service, and didn't go back to the store for months out of shame.

   The topic of our children's future came up recently in a conversation with The Wife. A teenager in the family had been caught in an untruth regarding his evening whereabouts and it got us thinking about the personalities of our little ones. It was agreed that my 8YO is a terrible liar, but our 4YO might be a problem. While the eldest is sweet and kind, honest and innocent, our second child can fall outside of that. So we discuss how we can keep them on a path that doesn't land them in community service.

   When I was caught, my father had later asked me why I didn't just ASK for the money, since we most certainly had it. After a few shrugs and "I dunno", it came out that I'd grabbed some smaller items and was never caught. The items got bigger until my hand was "caught in the cookie jar". I knew stealing was bad, but tried it a few times and didn't look back. So what changed? I realized we didn't talk about a lot of topics when I was young. The Wife and I are trying to bring up a lot more than we remember hearing about. The world seems smaller and more intense than I remember it, and I think a lot of parents agree with that, no matter the age. So it is our charge to talk more to our children. Not just about stealing, but about everything. Talk and talk a lot, about a lot of things. When we open the lines of communication, great things can happen. Let us all just try.

J.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When Children Find Their Courage

 
"Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway." - John Wayne
 
   We gave our 'Lil Miss earrings for Christmas just two months ago. She'd walked past the booth at the mall for months before, daring herself to get her ears pierced. Her ears were still soft and sweet, as we never got them done in her first year the way many people choose to. In the past year or two, she's asked more about it. When we gave her a cute set of colorful ear bling to get her started, there was no turning back.
 
   Our children are a perfect blend of their parents. The Cheeky Daddy is soft and emotional, while The Cheeky Mommy is determined and a go getter. So yesterday, walking past the booth yet again, she stopped her mother and said, "I want to get my ears done,.....today." After a quick chat, it was clear, she'd found her courage. She knew she was scared, and did it anyway. I got the image while working, and my heart swelled at the thought of my 'Lil Miss facing a dragon. I mean, to an 8 year old, that kind of impending pain is a massive, green scaled, fire-breathing, sharp horned, razor-clawed dragon, isn't it?
 
   As parents, we've been trying to help our children find their courage. "Don't be afraid to catch the baseball!", has been changed for my son to, "Be brave and keep trying!" It's working for sure, as my sweet young woman couldn't stop talking about how afraid she was before, during, and after the whole event. Yet, she found her courage, and I can't wait to see where that takes her.
 
J. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Buying Our First Baseball Gear



"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again." - Terence Mann, Field of Dreams 

   Our first born was a bouncy baby girl. I fell in love immediately. We've had the time of our lives ever since. She's shown a passion for so many things. We've done dance, tumbling, gymnastics, art, cheerleading, and she will start soccer soon. When our second born turned out to be a boy, we knew that there would be a few differences. While we haven't been able to sign him up as an army solider, ninja, or NASCAR driver, we hit the mark with baseball. He joined the local little league team, and we met the team and coach on Saturday.
   Afterward, we headed to the local sporting goods store that had the discount for the league and started looking for the gear we'd need. Helmet, check. Bat for home practice, check. Athletic supporter, ch-ch-check. We grabbed a soft ball used for his age group to practice with and wrapped up our trip. Having already had a glove, we were happy with our purchases. Once we were settled in the car, The Wife asked me, "So how does it make you feel, dad? Getting your boy his first round of baseball gear?" I smiled.
   I admitted that I had already found myself feeling a sense of pride. I never played baseball. I played some softball with the church boys, but never really played. Now I'm all giddy about teaching my boy and helping with his team. I keep picking up the ball we bought, rolling it back and forth between my hands. I find myself working the leather of his new glove, trying to soften it for his small hands. It's the beginning of his first season, and I hope the beginning of a fun sport for all of us to enjoy together. My 8YO 'Lil Miss is already asking about softball.
   Batter up!

J.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl Loss Reveals A Hero

Dad - A son's first hero.
 
   Super Bowl XLVIII turned out to be a little one sided. It was clear the Seattle Seahawks were going to dominate fairly early on. Things went from bad to worse for the Denver Broncos, losing the game 43-8 in the end. I think we all overlook the human aspect to winning and losing. While the Seahawks were celebrating, the camera caught the odd Bronco player, sitting in defeat on their sideline. It makes me wonder what they're thinking, and how they're handling it.
 
   Yahoo! Posted a touching story that answered the question. Denver's Shaun Phillips sent his son a message, "Sorry I let you down." The boy's reply puts everything into perspective. "It's okay daddy u r still my hero", was his reply. As I read the brief exchange, my heart was touched. I can only imagine the feelings that follow that kind of win, or loss. To be a part of a team that made it that far must be incredibly impactful. Children have a way of dwarfing that, and this message from a son to his father encapsulates this.
 
   We as fathers all know the rock star feeling of coming home to kids screaming "Daddy!!!" Let us earn the title of hero. We can be there more, spend more time, speak more kindly, teach more skill, and the like. There comes a day when we realized our fathers are human. I think we can still be heroes, if we focus on what is most important. That is my challenge to us all. While I can't get a t-shirt made up for all the dads in the world, we can all still put forth the effort that will gain us the title. Hero dad out.
 
J.


Monday, January 27, 2014

ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS PIG ROCK RACEWAY Review


   Construction and destruction. Isn't that the essence of a young boy? Maybe it's just my little ones. I remember building block castles, only to tear them down with the latest giant robotic terror. Things haven't changed my in a generation. Just after a cute block castle is built, there's a mini-monster right near by to wreak havoc. The mayhem is usually accompanied by unique sound effects. This is why I'm so happy today's toymaker has answered the call, and provided our young ones an outlet for all that energy.

   The Cheeky Daddy has partnered with Hasbro, and was able to review the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS PIG ROCK RACEWAY (retail price $29.99). This is a game that combines the competitive nature of the racer with the need for destruction of the smash derby enthusiast. We cracked open the box, and followed the easy instructions to get the track set up. Once complete, the set is solid, and holds up nicely,......except this is Angry Birds! We don't play nice here! My older two fell right into the sibling rivalry, and the competition began. The races were close, as the "go" shooting mechanisms responded well to their little hands. The cars are on quality wheels, so each vehicle FLEW down the track. The mechanism toward the end almost seemed like a decoration though, as the cars ended the race so fast, it was kind of redundant to be there. Though, you knew EXACTLY who won, as just before the end of the track, the car in the lead shifts a lever that kicks the other car off the track. OH, the fun the kids had with that.

   The game was fun because we all played together, then just my 'Lil Man played by himself with the two cars. Games and toys can come and go, but the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS PIG ROCK RACEWAY is one that's already lasted. When we feel the "need for speed", we break out the track and get our race on. I recommend it as a gift to anyone with kids. Heck, I even raced The Wife a couple of times. It's recommended for ages 5 and up, but our 'Lil Man just turned 4 and is handling it great. What's even more fun, is you can use the cars in the Angry Birds Go app. The kids have fun with the mobile devices as well. That's a bit of a "duh" statement.

   So happy racing and remember what Bob Wiley said to the groundhog in Groundhog Day. "Don't drive angry. DON'T drive angry." Who's he kidding. This is Angry Birds!

J.

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Hasbro, practically another member of the Cheeky family with how long they've been in our home. We received the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS PIG ROCK RACEWAY to review. All opinions are that of The Cheeky Daddy, Jason Swann. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Friday Flush #13

The Friday Flush #13

   Oh, it's been a week. My line of work is a double edged sword of trying to get deals signed and clients that want to do anything but that. As a father and husband, the pressure is on to deliver. So this week ends with the hope of a little luck, some favorite holiday web toons, and some random goodness. 

The Number 13
   I remember the concept of bad luck being taught early in life. Then I was assigned the number 13 when I was in grade school. It was used to identify each student for assignments and such. It became a part of my identity. This is whey I choose the numbers 7 and 13 for most anything (no, not my ATM pin). I thought a bit about lucky numbers, why we pick them, what they really mean, and so forth. I found a piece in Psychology Today that discuss 7 reason why I might like the number 7. Beyond that, I didn't find much else that explained why we pick lucky numbers, and what reasons we have for picking them.

Spider Doing The Salsa
   I swear, if I ever woke up and saw a spider doing this on my leg, I'd straight up freak out. You really need to see this to believe it. I was skeptical like always, but hit pay dirt. I give you the salsa dancing spider. It started and I thought, meh, big deal. Just wait for it. It made me think back on all the advances in robotics, and the strides made. I also thought again on how these advances will be useful in the practical world. We're still far off from The Matrix, but I'm still wondering where all the money and research is going. In the mean time, let's watch a dancing spider. 

Booking.com Commercial
   Recently in a physician waiting room, I heard this commercial start and was glued. I prayed that the person I had an appointment with didn't come to get me too soon, because I began to tear up from the laughter I was holding in. I love Superbowl commercials as much as the next dude, and this one is on that level for me. It's one of the latest commercials from Booking.com. While it's universal, the delivery just feels like it relates to guys. Just watch it, you'll be glad you did. The Wife told me it was "Cheeky Daddy humor". Uhhhhhh.....so? It's freaking funny. That's all I need to know.

   Thus we end another glorious week. We've found our lucky number, have been entertained by a Latino arachnid, and were dazzled by one of online's new search sites. I wish you well, and welcome some fun commentary.

J.




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Cheeky Daddy Turns 2


"It's hard to think of yourself as a loser at 2 years old." - Jeff Foxworthy
 

   I never thought that a blog could so perfectly be compared to a child. As The Cheeky Daddy turns 2 today, I realize that the blog is so very much like a 2 year old child, it's unreal. Sure, I can walk, but I still trip and stumble. Sure I can talk, but like Shrek said about donkey, "It's getting him to shut up that's the trick!" Luckily, in the blogging world, there's a bit of "it takes a village to raise a child" mentality if you open yourself up to new friendships and constructive criticism.

   Since the birth of The Cheeky Daddy, I've droned on for paragraphs with mindless dribble. I'm still finding my voice in a vast chasm of blogging talent out there. Yet, as I've made new contacts and friendships, it's been an evolving goal to be open to the possibility that I DON'T know everything (despite what I tell my children). So I look for guidance, opportunities for growth, and keep trying to refine so that my little baby can become something of worth to me and those who might enjoy stopping by.

   So as we head into 2014, my goal is to focus on continuing those self improving attributes. I hope to be here in another year, better for the wear. My children will continue to grow and provide stories and learning experiences for sure. I count on it. I hope to make more friends along the way. So happy birthday to The Cheeky Daddy. I hope these terrible twos go by fast.

J.