Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

We've reached a point in my 6 year old's life that the lying has begun. The other evening, while playing outside with the neighborhood friends, it happened. The Wife and I were working in the garage and the kids were all having a great time out front. Out of nowwhere, 'Lil Miss comes running through, claiming she's got to go potty. She comes back out, and within minutes, goes running back in under the same claim. Sensing some form of foul play, The Wife goes in and catches her RED HANDED, eating as many Peanut Butter Cup Minis she can fit in her mouth.

....................silence ensues.

The next few days proved hard to believe ANYTHING she said. I've explained why I'm having a hard time believing her, and I think she's getting it. Still, we're having a rough time with her right now. Wish me luck

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vacation With Children

"I found out long ago. It's a long way down the holiday road." - Lindsey Buckingham, Holiday Road

   The Wife and I waited 7 years to have kids. It was a way to get to know each other better, spend some time traveling, go to concerts, etc. We then felt the next step was to expand the clan. Since then, we've had some really cool adventures. Yet, as I comb the blogosphere and social networks, there are those that will go on these adventures, sans children. While I know it's "each to his own", and that's why I love America, I need to at least express myself.
   As we're in the thick of our current island adventure, I'm noticing that I don't have a personal agenda. It's become all about the family unit. Where I used to get up and go do what I wanted to do, now it's what we want to do. Moreover, it's whey THEY want to do, because I get so much joy out of seeing then explore and such. There are moments that are not as fun as others. The flight was atrocious and my arms are tired from all the carrying. However, at the end of each day, when the little ones are passed out, it all becomes clear. They are why I'm doing this. I see my parents, and ALL the free time they have, now that they're empty nesters. There's plenty of time for that. Right now is time for our family. I intend to have as much fun as possible.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kid Comments

As I was dropped of at the house today, The Wife pulled out of the driveway and 'Lil Miss sternly asked,
"Why do you like daddy so much!?"
The Wife was a little surprised.
"Because I'm married to him and I love him." Wife replies.
"Yeah, but you guys talk too much, 'n when I want to play with you, you're ALWAYS talking." 'Lil Miss retorts.

It's nice to know that, as a dad, I'm a hot commodity.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Family Room Masterpiece Theater

"The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster." - Oscar Wilde

   Isn't imagination everything when you're a child? Heck, I'm 36 this month and it's everything to me! So when 'Lil Miss prepares a masterful performance in the Family Room Masterpiece Theater, I make sure to attend. Her request is simple. Just sit there and enjoy. I'll grant you, the plot is weak, the characters are not well developed and the scenery could use some help. (YOU KNOW I'm just joshin'!!!) It's such a treat to see children use their imagination to spin new tales of love and adventure. I was treated to some sort of argument between My Little Pony sisters. All was resolved in the end.
   When does this end? I hope not for a long time. It's a way for them to express themselves, maybe even tell you something you're not hearing another way. Let's stow the rolling of the eyes when our children want a few minutes of our oh-so-precious time. As I watch families in my life, you have to give them that time. If not, one day, they may not give you much of theirs.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Prednisone - Why I'm Up So Early

"Early to bed, early to rise,.....and Prednisone, will make you healthy, wealthy, an insomniac, etc." - Me

   I'm an 8 hours of sleep kind of guy. So when I was put on Prednisone recently for GI and Kidney inflammation, things changed. I was on it for about a month a couple of years ago, so I knew more of what to expect this time around (first time was tough, as I didn't now at ALL what side effects to expect).
   So far, in the last week, I'm eating like a horse. I'm also Project Man, as I feel like I'm on a triple espresso, 24 hours a day. I can't get to sleep at night, and then am awake around 5a.m. each morning wondering if I should just get the hell up and do something. So here I sit, surfing dad blogs and maintaining this bad boy.
   To be fair to The Wife, one of the side effects is difficulty controlling emotions. That's a hard one for guys to admit when we DON'T have a drug to blame, yeah? I go from easy going to mad, and back again, really fast. It's tough to notice and control. I guess admitting it is the first step. I'm only on this for another three weeks, and I'll miss Project Man. I won't miss insomnia.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Graduation Day

“All our dreams can come true...if we have the courage to pursue them.” - Walt Disney

   Today was pre-school graduation for my 'Lil Gal. The buildup was tremendous, the ceremony was well put together. I teared up as I marveled at how big she had gotten in these past 5+ years. We were presented with an aptitude test that showed her skill level as she entered class back in September, and then where she's at as she ends the year. The growth is tangible. Her fetish need to spell everything on paper has gotten epic. Her comprehension of things, attempts at reading small words and such are SO much fun to watch. It was a good day.
   Cherish your moments, you great dads out there (mums too...). I was glad I got to attend. I would have missed so much that pics and shaky video don't convey. I say it often, but it truly is the little things. Well, this one could be classified as big. I put the Walt Disney quote, 'cuz I really believe that our dreams come true. I've tried to have the courage to pursue my dreams. So far, so good. So there it is. Happy graduation to all!!!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Epic Laziness

"What is it with flat blocks and trollies?" - Jim, 28 Days Later

   So the image above was a recent experience in the parking lot of a nameless "low price leader" store. The Wife observed the stereotypical lazy citizen, put a shopping cart (trolly) from the back of his SUV to the curb next to him. He refused to walk the cart the extra 10 feet to the actual "cart return". Epic laziness. 'Nuff said.
   Please don't tell me "that's what those people are paid to do" or I'll just start pushing my trash out the front door. Let's not get into how our bathroon habits would change. I think it's sufficient to say that I'd hoped more from ourselves. The Wife told me the story of a guy she dated briefly. They were sitting in a parking lot while he finished his bag of McDinner. Once finished, he took one last sip of drink, opened his car door, and pushed all trash out onto the ground before closing the door and driving off. Are we that lazy? I'm doing a self check. I recommend we all do. Self, then kids, then pets, etc.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

"Mommy, can I help you make balana bread?" - 'Lil Miss

   It's inevitable that our little ones will want to help us out at some point. Heck, 'Lil Man at 18 months is wanting to help with the hammer, matches, etc. This past weekend, the bananas had become sufficiently mushy, and banana nut bread was on the To Do list. It's been a small dream of The Wife to do a little baking with 'Lil Miss. This was her first real chance. She's helped with "pouring" things in with a lot of help. This time she mashed bananas, and mixed like none other.
   The result was a nice piece of warm banana nut bread as a treat before bed time. It was clear that the treat was THAT much sweeter from the work she put into it. That's the point isn't it? Teaching the value of a little work. Her arms were tired after the mushing and stirring. Yet, she saw the work that went into it, and appreciated the end result. It was fun seeing the process play out.
   Having toasted banana nut bread for the mornings to come wasn't bad either.


Our Recipe (just in case):

Monday, May 23, 2011

What Makes Us Human?

   The above image was a recent event within the area I work. On the left if the pic of a baby falcon/eagle that was clearly a former resident of the next pictured on the right. I heard that the bird had an infection near it's mouth, ate very little during nursing back to health, and died a few days after the pic was taken. One theory was that the bird was pushed out of the nest due to it's ilness. True or not, it made me think of my little guys.
   Whether our rug rats have minor sniffles, leg aches, and such, we do all that we can to nurse them back to health. We carry wads of tissues in our pockets. We try to stay awake in the wee hours to rub a leg that's aching to the point of tears. We stroke strands of sweaty hair on a feverish head that has any number of illness attached to it. We hold and rub "owwies" or any sort to make sure our little ones are okay to play another while.
   Does it please you too, that we don't push them out of the nest, or abandon them to their demise. Granted, natural selection helps with overpopulation, but we won't get into that here. I was just marveling at what lengths we go to for our own. I've been calling it the "papa bear" (or "mama bear") effect. Whether we protect health or feelings, we all go "papa bear" at some point. It doesn't matter how loud or quiet any of us are. We will all go "papa bear" if it gets to a certain point.

Here's to all you "papa bears" out there.


Nails, Tunes,..... Balance

   So this past weekend found me thinking about stuff in my life. One of the things that always takes me back to the roots of happiness is to quietly spend some time with my 'Lil Miss and paint me some nails!!! I'm getting better at it and she doesn't protest at ALL! In fact, her teacher said that she was showing all her school friends, teachers, classrooms pets, etc. Clearly she is a girly girl who loves to get 'er nails did.
   Make no mistake, is a conversation piece too. I speak with LOADS of people every day and finding small talk to either pass the time or build relationships is important. I rank my daughter's nail VERY high on the value meter. The ladies I speak with (that have influence in the offices I visit), think it's adorable, commendable, above and beyond as a father, and so on. I would have never known. Getting props is always cool, but it's reminded me of how uncommon stuff like that is. There are certain things that are traditionally NOT in a father's bag of tricks. I'm trying to change that, and the result is a closer relationship with my daughter and a different view of me in others' eyes.
   Have your wife show you the basics. Then just trial and error. You can always clean it off and start over (though, age + attention span = few tries). Oh, and I plan on playing several versions of my new favorite song "Never Going Back Again" by Fleetwood Mac. Here's the Glee version, which is pretty good.



Monday, May 9, 2011

Fun With Facial Hair

   "There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless — boys and women — and I am neither one" - Greek Saying

    I've sported a goatee for some time now. So long, in fact that when I get a little annoyed with its length and shorten it up, the kids don't recognize me at a first glance. 'Lil Miss looks at me sideways with a scrunched up face, and 'Lil Man just stares at me blankly. It DOES give me a chance to relive the old days that I experience with my father.
   He would start with a full beard. Then he would methodically shave a piece off at at time, working his way down in looks. Lambchops, then goatee. Fu Manchu, then porn star. He'd inevitably end it all with the Hitler look. It was all done with the sons present, 'cuz it was fun to see him in all those states.
   I dropped this gem on you guys, 'cuz it was something I did with MY father. Now it's something I do with my little guys. A fun way to play with our looks and mess with their heads. Sure, "You look better with your beard." is always a compliment to how I look normally. However, I cherish any time I can spend with my kids, making them laugh, even if it's from me looking like a trucker or hated dictator.

Give 'er a try.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Vitamin D Anyone?

   Summer time is fast approaching, and we're getting into gear. We've got swim suits, flip flops, sand toys, sunscreen, and so on.This past week has found us at the park and friends house with one of the biggest front lawn blow-up water slides I've ever seen. Granted, the slide left cuts, scrapes and bruises on my kids that had me looking over my shoulder for child services. Besides that, good times. We purchased our own sand toy kit, since many of the children we've encountered are slightly possessive (to put it mildly). Of course the first day we use them, no less than ALL the kids at the park come over and want to play with them. We just kept an eye on our stuff, oh, and I put our last name on EACH piece in big, bold Sharpie pen.
   So as we approach the time of sunshine, warmth, and no school, I hope you're all gearing up too. We're planning day trips to the beach, Saturday morning canoe trips with 'Lil Miss, and the odd AAA baseball game nearby. Let me know what you're up too, it may give some ideas.
   If you need some inspiration, here's Summertime from Will Smith:


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Indoor Hopscotch

"Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching." - Fran Lebowitz

   The whole family was sick late last week, and if your family is anything like ours, cabin fever sets in rather quickly. Our two little 'uns are SO active, that even in sickness they have a ton of energy. Going outside is a limited activity during days of the plague, so we find ourselves breaking out the indoor tent and couch cushions to make the ULTIMATE fort. Twenty minutes later, when that got old, I had the brilliant idea to bring the "black top" games from my childhood school years to the indoors.
   Hopscotch is what first came to mind. So I grabbed an old roll of masking tape and got to work. I had to look up the basic rules of hopscotch, but we got there in the end. 'Lil Miss was all over it and played well after I was done. Days later, she was outlining the squares on the back patio with colored chalk so she could play outside. It was great, 'cuz it's helped her to learn some rules, taking turns, tossing her marker with some accuracy, balance, etc. What's more, we kept the television off that much longer.
   Up next will be indoor four square and indoor kick ball (........ ouch! Should we do that indoors?)

(p.s. Even old masking tape sticks pretty good to carpet. It DID come off, but I got worried for a minute there.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Father's Love

Papa Swann (right), circa 1955
Papa Swann (left), circa 1955

"Let me tell you a secret, about a father's love..." - A Love Without End, George Strait

   I've spent most of my life so far knowing that my father loves his children through action, not words. His dedication to exposing us to the best in sports, scouts, college, rent help, etc. have always shown that he cares. We've even heard second and third hand that his four boys are ALL he talks about, yet he's not much for touchy feely talk and expressing himself through words. I've spent the last decade or so ending each conversation with "Love 'ya pal." He knows I love him, and I know he loves me, even if it isn't said. That doesn't mean that I never want to hear it. My father-in-law attended his own father's funeral having never heard an expression of love in his life. I was concerned that may be the case for me. Until last week.
   I called on a whim, and we chatted about a dresser refurbish project. He quickly needed to be on his way, so we said our good-byes. "Okay, chat with you soon, pops. Love 'ya pal."
"Love you too. Later.", was his reply.
   I found myself staring at the floor, baffled. I glanced up and noticed that my hands in fists, raised above me head in triumph. Not knowing the last time I heard that out loud, I finished the day, and week, a very happy guy.
   My brothers and I have certainly gone the opposite direction. Whether it's a conscious choice, or just how it is these days, we are very vocal with our affection. It certainly goes a long way, as I've found out. Children notice when it's not there. They'll see it in movies, at their friends house, or wherever. Think about it. Make the decision that you won't leave this life without your children knowing how you feel (and not through purchases, yeah?)

"Daddy's don't just  love their children every now and then. It's a love without end, amen."


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pay It Forward

"Do unto others..."

   The above photo was taken after the following experience. I rolled up to the local baker to get a morning donut and drink. As I slid over to the register to pay, I heard a man call out in Spanish, saying something that neither I, nor the Korean girl behind the counter could understand. We both said, "No Espanol.", to which he replied, "No pay, no pay." The girl says, "What?", and he says, "No pay. I pay." She pauses and asks, "Are you sure?" He nodded, stood up from his chair in the corner, and walked over beside me. I looked at him with a smile and asked, "Why?" He smiled back, shrugged his shoulders and said in broken English, "Dunno,'s okay." I thanked him over and over again, then snapped the above picture.
   I don't know his name, but he will live forever in my memory. Not for covering my donut and drink, but for the thoughtful gesture that reminds me of the man, father, husband, and human that I want to be. I try to be this person all the time, but it can get away from me. I try to teach this principle to my 'Lil Gal, and live it day by day. In the hustle and bustle of everyday grind, this was a simple reminder of how I want to live. I look to pay it forward and do something nice for someone in the next day or two. Then, I'll try to be that person every day after.
   I challenge you to do the same.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stealth Baby

"The closer we are to danger the farther away we are from harm." - Pippin, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

   Observe the above image closely.   'Lil Man has some of The Wife's hair product in hand. We've found that he backs up to the nearest parents blind spot, and commences with the illegal act of choice. The Wife quoted Pippin, since it applies so well. 'Lil Man has found that if he announces his triumph, he will be chased down, tazed, cuffed, and hauled off to his wooden jail. It's much simpler to use ninja-baby stealth to commit his crimes. "Keep your friends close,...and your enemies closer."
   'Lil Man is truly a fun child to have. Yet, I can't help but wonder how much of this incident will carry over into his later years. Should I be using Photoshop to place a cigarette in his hand in the third frame? I don't actually worry about that stuff much. I just think it's hilarious that he does this at all. I know y'all have a story or two like this. Bring it.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Disney's Tangled - Review

Rapunzel: "I have made the decision to trust you."
Flynn Rider: "A horrible decision really."

   So trust me. My family recently rented Disney's "Tangled", and I was NOT disappointed. My wife and 'Lil Gal saw it in the theater for a birthday treat, but I was unable to attend due to the Little Man's nap schedule. We got all the treats, drinks, pillows, blankets and such in order. The movie was cued up and we were set to go.
   The movie flowed great, the animation was awesome, and the scenery/color palette were delightful. (Here's an interview with the directors, on The Disney Blog) The characters were easy to fall in love with, and the mother was easy to dislike. My favorite, though, was Max the horse. The animation behind his character nearly stole the show. His body language was great, and made me laugh several times. I also teared up a few times (yeah, I'm easy to manipulate).
   The sign of a good kid flick in our house is how much it infiltrates our daily lives. Not only does 'Lil Gal want to be Rapunzel for Halloween, we play the characters in her castle all the time. I play Flynn Rider and she is, of course, Rapunzel. There are a multitude of games and crafts that can follow a great film like Tangled. I like to think big and different, though. We were watching Disney Jr. and I saw the following:

   I'd better get started, eh?


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lil Gal's Crop Circles

"Could crop-circles be the work of a cereal killer?" - Steven Wright

   So Lil Gal has been creating what I call her "crop circles" for some time now. It started with lining up blocks in order of size. Then it was book lined up in order of size. Soon after it was a mix of blocks, books, dolls, stuffed animals and so on. At first I was just a father looking on admiringly. The last half dozen have made me want to start documenting them. It feels like Close Encounter of the Third kind, "This means something! This is important!" Notice the time taken to arrange the items picture by plant type. Leaves (green), sticks (brown), flower petals (pink). It's as if she's setting up a landing strip, for VERY small aliens.
   In a time where creative programs, arts, and music are being swept under the rug to save money for other things, I want these "crop circles" to go on as long as they can. In fact, lil gal and I are using found bits of nature to make us a fairy house (post to come). I'm trying to keep the creative side working hard as she is starting to be taught the organized side of math and writing. It's all about balance, yeah?
   At the very least, she'll continue to keep me guessing. Just what do they mean?


Great parody of Close Encounters (10 min.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dads and Donuts

"We'll get him a doughnut."
"He likes jelly."
"[to HOSEHEAD] Jelly doughnut comin." - Strange Brew

   One of my favorite weekend treats, is to head to the local bakery in the morning and score me and the kids some fresh baked donuts. While I try to maintain "it's for the kids", it's certainly to get my fix as well. Little gal's favorite used to be ANYTHING with sprinkles. Lately she's trying out some raised glazed and such.
   I've noticed many of the other dad blogs are hovering around the same message. Take the time to spend with your kids. I try not to rush us out of the store. I take the long route to get there and play some of our (my) favorite songs along the way (Barroom Hero, below). I try to go out of my way to have conversation with my little gal, even little brother. It's taking the time. Take it, you'll be glad you did.
I asked little gal: The most important thing about going to get donuts?
Her response: "Don't forget to bring little brother."



I leave you with my Saturday morn' donut run anthem:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cheerios Butt

"I'm a Fruit Loop in a world of Cheerios"

   I was reading a series of blog entries from a fellow dad who ended his blogging career in 2009. Still worth a read at Looky Daddy, he was pointing our some little, and funny things that indicate that you are a parent. Sure, I get comments about how blue my kids eyes are. There are few about how much they look like my wife (I guess provided very little in the way of looks). However, it's the things that indicate you're a parent, even when your kids are nowhere to be seen.
   Take last night at the local Panda Express. I was next in line and the server gave me a Golden Treasure Shrimp, recently off the frying pan. As I put the hot lava rock in my mouth, she asks what I want. "MMphhhhhblurbapor..." After I got the real order out, I turned to the lady behind me and mouthed, "That was hot!" She giggled a bit. Then my night was made.

"Do you have a toddler?" she asks.
"Mmmmmm, yeah?" I reply, wondering if she has the force.
"'Cuz you have a Cheerio stuck to your butt.", she said before busting up laughing.

   I turned Golden Treasure Shrimp orange and laughed with her. I knew this day would come. I held onto it for a minute, wondering if I should bronze it as a keepsake. Maybe put it on a chain and wear it around as a badge of honor. I'm a fully functional dad. Cheerios on the butt and all.


Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, "Oooooo."
Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.
- Family Guy

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Dad Blogs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beach Boys

"If everybody had an ocean, across the U.S.A. Then everybody'd be surfin', like Californi-a"  - Beach Boys

   So we recently spent some time with family in Mission Bay, San Diego. My 5 year old spent her time being chased by encroaching waves. I spent my time getting my 1 year old boy used to the idea that the same water can kill you. The lesson was lost. He just wanted to sit in the water. We were there as the sun set on a beautiful day. I was focused on the moment. Bills, pay, leaky water faucet, etc. were all forgotten.
    We all need that time. Whether it's the beach, the mountains, the local park, the mall. Find the time to be with your brood, 'yer critters, them rugrats. I used to spend a lot of time bad mouthing my old man, and how little he focused on us. As I've gotten older and wiser (p-yeah! right!), I realize just how much time he DID focus on us. Hikes, father/son campouts, sporting events, rodeos, post-symphonic band ice cream trips, etc. I have a vast archive of stories and experiences, and I am now trying to create them with my own. In fact, daughter is behind me, begging me to play "hotel". I'm off.


Monday, March 28, 2011

BBQ Weekend - The All-American Tradition

"Men like to barbecue. Men will cook if danger is involved." - Rita Rudner

   This weekend saw me at the barbecue, working my magic on the grill. As summer slowly approaches, it felt like a good start to the spring season. I've recently moved into the "intermediate" classification, after spending many years in the "novice" category. I used to sear the outside of my food, while leaving the inside an uncooked mess. These days, I'm able to find the delicate balance of heat, spice, and timing. This particular weekend (pictured) found me standing over my little piece of perfection. Dinner for 14 and everything went to plan. It was a simple set of hot dogs and burgers, but we've done chicken, fish, steaks, skewers, corn, potatoes, etc. I've toasted buns on the upper rack and made use of all the real estate offered. While my kids were playing with cousins, I was having a "All-American Tradition" moment. I was in the barbegroove and carried a smile the whole time. We had all the stuff that made it a great dinner. Everyone's got their own tradition, here's was ours for this weekend:

- Hot dogs, and hamburgers (cheese as requested)
- Lawry's seasoning and Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce
- Farmer's market corn on the cob, cantaloupe, salad
- Baked Lay's barbecue potato chips
- A & W Root Beer (in a frosty mug if possible)
- Brownies (with as many corners as possible, like the Edge Brownie Pan)

Fill in the gaps as you see fit, but get those kids outside, fire up the grill, and have a great time!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky? ~Stanislaw J. Lec

   Ahh, a day to dye things green. Green rivers, popcorn balls, cookies and cupcakes. All in the name of Saint Patrick. The history isn't all that glamorous, but I'll take a fun tradition any day! Hell, I had forgotten about the tradition of trying to catch a Leprechaun until I visited the Geek Dad blog. When I got home from work today, my daughter filled me in on the havoc wreaked by a visiting mischief maker that made a mad mess. She had been told of their sneakiness, and now had the proof she needed! Oh, it's so much fun!
   So have a good one, wherever you may be, even if you ain't Irish. Have a pint 'o the green stuff, if it suits you. I leave you with a favorite my wife passed onto me from her childhood. Darby O'Gill and the Little People (the fiddle scene}.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why I Hate Your Dog

"Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark, bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark,bark, bark, bark, bark."  - My neighbor's 3 chihuahuas.

   So the title speaks for itself, though I need to be more specific. I'm an animal lover that hates my neighbors three chihuahuas (4 when they watch their mother's sweet Precious). I was home all day Sunday and they barked ALL DAY long. I've been over and asked them to bring them in when my son was sick and in need of a nap. I've looked over the fence at 11pm with a flashlight and mentioned their barking to the lady as she came out to see who was looking in her yard. There's nothing for it. They don't care. Whether their home, gone, in the yard WITH them, they allow the barking. If I had a few more dollars, I'd buy two, 2, dos, of these Super Bark Free Pro devices. One would do the trick, but two would ram home my point.
   I had a Great Dane for over 11 years (note that I capitalize the Dane, and NOT the chihuahua. I was VERY aware of how annoying her bark could get. She passed away last summer and I'd give ANYTHING to have her back to combat our canine neighbors. Hell, she crapped bigger than these little rodents. Yet, I never got called on her being a pest. So please, please PLEASE!!! Be aware of your pets. Realize that you have neighbors and though they may love animals (as I do), they may not enjoy the daily 6:30am wake-up call, or the 1:00am eardrum check.


P.S. 8 second TITAN vs a titan. Would you like some barbeque sauce big guy?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Haircuts - Long Overdue

"Can a bald person get a hairline fracture?" - susan52z

   Today my daughter and I took a few minutes out of our day and shared in the haircut experience. Of all the things that kids can scoff at, this is not one of them for my 'lil gal. She sits patiently during the set up, proud to be up on the booster seat. She allows the water bottle spray and brushing out of any knots that may be present (this is the equivalent of water boarding in our home). She'll casually chat about her favorite colors, hobbies and past times. I'll catch her eye from time to time and she'll grin,....ear to ear.
    I think that children need to be pampered from time to time. That might not be the correct term, but the principal is the same. It's a small chunk of the day that they are focused on, and not by the same old mom or dad. "All those strangers, all those grown-ups, and this person is interested in just me!" That's what I see in her. Right now it's just a needed haircut. One day it'll be daddy/daughter pedicure time. Then the manly gloves truly come off, and gets his nails done. Anything to stay close to the kids. I can see the post now. "Real men get pedicures." Just wait.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's Your Sign?

"The sign said "eight items or less". So I changed my name to Les."  - Steven Wright

   I've always had a secret love for shop signs. There are a few in our nearby old town. It made me think a bit about how much I like them. I spent some time in the British Isles where shops signs are still commonplace. I love the quaint feel that they give. It's a calling card, a statement, etc. I know that at the basic form, it's just advertising placed at another angle. Yet they hang free, have dimension, and occasionally will blow in the breeze. I've always wanted to make my kids custom "shop signs" that would go over their bedroom doors. A few favorites:


   It's all in your style. I'd love to have a personlized pub sign, like the ones the Pub Sign Shop does. I also love to browse through all that Pub and Shop Signs has on their site. With my last name, the Olde White Swann, or something like it would seem appropriate. What's your sign?


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Under Pressure

"A penny for your thoughts now baby, looks like the weight of the world's on your shoulders now" - Miracle, J. Bon Jovi

   Steven Wright said, "Hermits have no peer pressure." True, but I chose not to be a hermit a LONG time ago. I wanted a wife, kids, dog, fish, car, Boba Fett helmet, etc. I also agreed to take on all the stress and worry that came with all that joy and happiness. If mentioning bills, food, children's clothing, school, make your skin crawl and butt clinch, I welcome you to the Fret Club. We have jackets. We sit around and fret over how we'll make ends meet, feed our kids, keep them educated, etc.
   Your stereotypical stress relievers can be found here. I've tried most of them, so I'm on to the more fun versions:

Poker Tournament
I'm a simple 5 card stud kinda guy, but get your basic brushed up here.
Casino Night
How to throw one by eHow here.
Video Game Marathon
Pick 'yer console, and tell your loved one NOT to wait up.
Pool or Billiards
Billiards Hall finder here.
Beer Tasting
Look for tours, while I enjoy a Root Beer tasting kit from Old Town Root Beer Company
Go Karts
There's bound to be one nearby. Find it and let your inner child out.
Comedy Club
The Improve is a good start with locations nationwide. Or find one more local.

My grandfather said, "Don't fret the small stuff." My mother replies, "It's ALL small stuff!" I've summarized, "So I try not to fret, all." Keep your chin up and keep trying. You know why you do it. For those smiles and those kisses. With that, I leave you our pressure ballad:


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Equilibrium - Daddy's Movie Night

   So, everyone I know has either seen or heard of The Matrix. I remember the year it came out and the high I was on when it came out. The story was as amazing as the effects. Then, a few weeks back, a buddy of mine asked if I had ever seen Equilibrium. I, like most, had not. He queued up the movie and showed me the intro which set the scene of a post world war III society where emotion is suppressed by drug injections, and sensory crime is monitored by Clerics. He then showed me Gun Kata. Again amazed. I was then shown a single fight sequence, shown below (just over 2 minutes, but worth it):

   I finally watched the film today and LOVED it. Great story, great action. Daddy's movie night indeed.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Man Cave

   The concept of the man cave probably goes back to, well, the cave man. These days, it's a way to get back to your "dude roots". This past Super Bowl was spent up at my brothers place. His neighborhood was dotted with garage based man caves. I saw the full pool table and neon, and then the bar with stools and BBQ out on the driveway. It got me thinking about what kind I would have. I'd love an Irish Pub themed man cave. The guys on the DIY network pulled it off here. I'm have a major sweet tooth, so there would be a few root beers on tap for sure. Man Cave Essentials lists types of man caves here, and the list is a good one!
   Below are the ultimate man caves. They're severely themed, but who'd say no to either of them.

Images Courtesy of Oddee, 12 Coolest Man Caves

Images Courtesy of The Official Man Cave Site

   So that's my two cents on man caves. To each his own when planning a dream space, but we can all agree that we're together on this one, no matter how different our caves would be. What would your space look like?


Friday, February 11, 2011

My Welcoming Committee

   I was reading a post by Chase over at Father Apprentice which made me think of the following:

   My son has become my own personal welcoming committee as I get home each day. In fact, he's learned that when mom is on the phone, more times than not, she's on with dear old dad. I can hear the call of the brute, "AYE DADDA!", over and over again when ever she's on the phone and he's awake.
   So I come home from a long day, after a long week. I walk in the door, which he has super-hearing to pick up on. He comes hobbling in, "AYE DADDA! AYE DADDA!" My heart melts and I'm happy to be home. He's done a mix of greetings that include head butting my leg, wrapping his arms around my leg, resting his head on my should once I've picked him up, slapping my face with BOTH hands, and a few others. They all make me love the little guy that much more. I can't wait to leave for work some days, just so I can miss him and want to come home each day.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sick Kids - What To Do?

   Oh, it's that time of the year all-right. Time to spread viruses and bacteria like the plague is coming back in style. My house is no exception and we're knee deep in tissues and vapor rub. I think that your child's illness is one of the worst things to witness. It started with my daughter saying, "Daddy, I don't want to brush my teeth or read a story. I just want to go to bed." Yeah, something was DEFINITELY up. So sick kid: check. Now, what to do.
   I stumbled across the BRAT diet. Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Simple, yet effective for getting your child's stomach back on track. However, my current situation is a nasty cough, fever, etc. So we go with the tried and true methods of parenting a sick child. Pillow, blanket, fluids and movies. My wife's favorite was Pete's Dragon, while I just remember watching a LOT of cartoons on television. It's about making them as comfortable as possible (and drugging them, when it's age appropriate). I know we all want to be there for our little ones as fathers. I spent extra time rubbing her legs, scratching her back, stroking her hair and such, all to make her more comfortable as she went to sleep. In the end, that's all we can do.


(pic via ourlifeinrewind)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

iPhone - ATT vs Verizon

"A titan against a titan!" - Stygian Witch, Clash of the Titans

     Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs Chevrolet, and so on. I haven't seen a pissing contest like this in awhile. As the iPhone is made available on the Verizon network, the commercials are getting good. One bags on the other's coverage for service. Another slams the inability to surf the net whilst talking on the phone. I mean, it takes me back to grade school with "Yo mama" jokes and suing each other as kids over standing on each other's property.
     Such as it is, it's entertaining. Like my decision between a Ford and Chevy, there are arguments for both sides. I've been an ATT customer since the Cingular purchase, and an iPhone user since the first generation. I have praise and complaint in the same breath. So welcome to my Verizon cousins. I wish us all happy talking, surfing, app-ing, etc.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Farmers Market

     We hit the local farmer market this weekend. It's still a habit in the making, but we're getting there. There are a few highlights that are bubbling to the surface in regards to our visits. First off, the organic selection makes shopping for fruits and veggies at the supermarket a thing of the past. It may not be year round, so we'll need to pay attention, but we can get most everything we eat right there. Second, it's been great to get to know the a few new local artists. The glass blower, the bead lady, etc. Third, there's a few things that help generate conversation with my daughter. There's a bird lady, who sells cages and some small parakeet type birds. There was also a guy selling earthworms. We spend around an hour hanging out, and then move onto the shops on the main drag.
     It's a really good time, so seek out your local farmers market. The Farmers Market Finder app from Apptika, Inc. here is a great place to start. I may add another link or two in the future, but go ahead and check out your local area. You'll be glad you did.


Friday, February 4, 2011

The Force - We All Want It

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." - Darth Vader

     You can't tell me that you've never felt like this kid. I stumbled across this Volkswagen commercial and laughed my tail end off. Then, I watched it again and again. We've all wanted the force at one point, and I KNOW we've all waved our hand across an automatic door wishing it truly was our mind that opened it.
     I'm also amazed at how much was conveyed with the body language, and NO words. This'll be my favorite for a LONG time.
     May the force be with you.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keeping Your Baby Dry Overnight

     "And the rain descended, and the floods came..." - Matthew 7:25

     My wife and I are dealing with the issues of our son waking up each morning soaked neck to toe in his own pee. We have dispensed with the night time baths, as he ALWAYS needs one in the morning. We were a little lost at first, but met a couple at a park on day that recommended Huggies Overnights. They worked sporadically, so we implemented a new drink policy. We set a time to cut off his "bar tab", and did not give him any more juice or water after about 6p.m. That too has worked off and on, so we're needing to push the time a bit earlier and test it. It's tough when we either forget, or he's begging for refreshing beverage.
     I came across a decent thread here on Yahoo! Answers. There are some good ideas here. I wish everyone the best of luck. It takes time and patience. It's bad enough that he wakes up to a #2 each morning! Add a wet set of jammies to a morning dump, and you've got one unhappy customer at the start of each day.
     Smell 'ya later.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Daddy Travels - I Ain't Sleeping Well

     I don't know about all the other papa bears out there, but I don't sleep well when I travel along. This post comes from a regional meeting, and I am sharing a room with a co-worker. Now, I used to be able to sleep anywhere, and I mean ANYWHERE. I once had an apartment in England, where the mattress was so messed up, I slept on the floor with my duvet (comforter). I forgot the comforter in another city and ended up grabbing the curtains off the wall and sleeping in that until a few days later when I got my bedding back.
     These aren't the good old days. I've gotten used to my bed, sleeping next to my wife, and recently adopting a bedtime routine with the kids. What's more is that I miss them terribly. They drove me nuts up until the night before I left for this trip, and then I missed them by afternoon the next day. I think it's because we have a great little family, who loves to spend time together. It takes longer to get to sleep, and I wake up a lot through the night. Yet, we do this for a reason, and the reason is what we're missing. So it ends up being a necessary evil and a vicious circle.
     I take headphones on trips now, and listen to music to get me to sleep. It seems to help and that's all I need until these trips are over. I look forward to being reunited each time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I am so fond of them right now.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Angels and Airwaves - A Touching Moment

     A day or two ago, I was getting my daughter dressed for a day out with the family. The sun was coming in through her window, and I had her in my arms. We were swaying back and forth to Angels and Airwaves "Call To Arms", who by the way are totally cool. Most times she lets go fairly quickly, but this time, she held on and wasn't letting go. After a little bit, she pulled me closer and I grabbed her closer too. I was already having a "moment" when the lyrics came"

I'd like to say, that you're my only fear
And when I dream, it slowly disappears.
And when I wake, I'm right here by your side...
To feel your heart, beat in and out of time.

     I began to tear up it a bit. I was having a real moment with my little girl. The lyrics hit home because my little girl makes my fears go away. We listen to each others' hearts all the time. I just wanted to share the experience and let you all know that we can all have those moments, if we let them happen.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Eddie Izzard - Comedy At Its Best

     I spent some time in southwest England around 1995. Around the year 2003, my buddy introduced me to the comedy of Eddie Izzard. My world was changed. I was baptized by his 1998 perrmance in San Francisco, "Dressed To Kill". I was born in San Francisco, so his first 10 minutes here on "The City" ab-solutely killed me! I was hooked ever since.
     He is mildly irreverent at times, but I spent several years listening to English street humor, and he's spot on. His one person skits are the best, and I have yet to see anyone who matches them. I recently watched Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, and loved it. Besides learning a bit more about my favorite comedian, it was a wonderful story about going after your dream, no matter what. He wanted something so badly, that failure, negative feeback and such were not enough to stop him. I got a lot out of his story.
     He's been in a slew of movies, had his own t.v. show and still tours. His IMDB profile is here. I think it's more of an "after the kids are down" thing, but I'd think lesser of myself if I didn't do a post about Eddie.  Some of my favorite Eddie lines:

- "Stonehenge. One of the biggest henges of them all. Nobody knows what the f&@! a henge is."
- “I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.”
- “I'm an action transvestite really, so it's running, jumping, climbing trees... putting on make-up when you're up there!”
- "We stole countries with the cunning use of flags."
- "Charles Darwin wrote a famous book in 18[gibberish]. And that book was an interesting book, cuz it was called "Monkey-Monkey-Monkey-Monkey-Monkey-Monkey-You."

Check him out and enjoy!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Super Bowl Requires Super Nachos

     For years, Sunday night football required "super nachos". They were the staple snack that either never lasted past the first quarter, or served as a half-time treat. We never made a batch for less than four adults, and have made a tray for around 6-8 at a time. The simplest version goes:

Ground meat with taco seasoning, done up in a pan.
Spread corn chips over a cookie sheet.
Evenly spread cooked taco meat over chips.
Add salsa, olives, peppers, cheese, etc. to your heart's content.
Place in oven around 300 degrees until cheese it melted.
Add sour cream, mo' salsa, etc. as you see fit.
.....aaaaaaaaaaannnnddd PIG OUT!!! It's every man for himself.

     A great step by step is listed here at Michelle Cooks Everyday. She puts her own twist on a Rachael Ray recipe, and I dig it. There's also a pretty simple version here at Gringo Bandito (photo credit). Enjoy!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

     This weekend, my wife and I headed out for a long awaited "date night". My son knew something was up immediately, and began to show his displeasure minutes after the baby sitter showed up. He was fine just after we left (yes, we text back and forth with the sitter), but just before departure, I paid attention to my daughter. While the boy was crying, she disappeared into his room, and came out with a favorite stuffed animal. She began coaxing him with a soft and upbeat voice, trying to hand him his stuffed buddy. We mentioned to her the need to help, but I left knowing that she does those things by instinct theses days.
     Sure, there are plenty of "mine", "don't touch", and "daaaaaddddyyyy" moments to fill a toy box. However, she wants to push him in his stroller, feed him treats, quiet his crying and so forth. I fully believe that as she welcomed a little brother, WE tried to make the transition easier. We have special times with her alone, I still read books to her before bed, and other things that make her feel special and loved on an individual basis, as well as a sibling. I know that's helped, and will continue to do so.
     I've found some additional articles on Kids Health, Family Circle, and Parenting. The address sibling rivalry/harmony and overall getting along. I hope we can keep on this path. It'll be a fun ride.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Gophers In The Mist

     I was out back today with my kids and heard a rustle in the flowers up on the little hillside in our backyard. We kept seeing the flower bed move, and then a flower would disappear. The entire root, stem, and flower would just vanish into the ground. I called my daughter over, who stood on the retaining wall next to me. We grabbed a stick and moved some of the undergrowth away from the hole. Seconds later, a little gopher head poked out. We stood quietly while he went about his business.
     It gave us a chance to talk about wild animals, and why we don't just go up and pet the ground rodent on the head. She seemed unconvinced at first that he wouldn't invite us down the hole for a cup of tea. She was sure that there were other creatures at the bottom of the hole that would not only talk, but have some sort of whimsical song to sing to us once we got down there. Of course it was the topic throughout the day, and the plot line of our bedtime story.
     For both the real world and the fantasy, it was a unique experience between me and my little gal. I hope we have many more like it.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blast From The Past

     I've been wanting to pass this link on for ages. Check out Retro Junk. These guys have clips from commercials and TV programs from our childhood in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Some of the stuff I forgot I ever even watched! It's worth a few minutes, maybe after the kids have gone to sleep.

     My favorite will always be Knight Rider. Enjoy!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crazy Ronaldinho Skills

     Me and my brothers played soccer most of our young life. As I've watched the World Cup over the years, I've seen more and more clips everywhere of Ronaldinho's CRAZY footy skills. This guy is amazing. His full bio at Wikipedia here. Awesome YouTube clips here, here and here. Top 10 goals here.

Enjoy. I just get jealous.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Care A Lot

    "(We care a lot) about you people yeah you bet we care a lot" ~ Faith No More

     We've passed a year on owning guppies. We've added a frog, a small catfish, and a shrimp recently. Today, I got a call on the way home that the frog, apparently, had eaten the shrimp. Now, we had an incident several months back where the ammonia levels spiked and we lost all 18 of our baby guppies, the adults guppies, and our frog (pictured). We never named them, only had them for a short while, and let's face it, they're fish. Yet we put a lot of time and effort into them and felt sadness, especially for the frog, since he got used to being hand fed.
     So today's news was unwelcome, until later in the evening, when the little ghost shrimp came out of the castle cave, and proceeded to clean the bottom of the tank. We looked it up here, and they shed or molt as they grow. The "parts" we saw out the side of our new frog's mouth were just old clothes.
     This, somehow, translated to how much I love and care for my children. Every bump, bruise and scrape hurts us as parents too. I think it's good to notice those things, so that we know just what they mean to us. I'm not saying I want to find my son's discarded skin laying around the house to think I've lost him, but you get the picture. It's these little things that seem to remind me to love and appreciate the little one's I have.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Hamster Dance Song

     Dunno why, but my kids LOVE the Hamster Dance song. The above is the only decent version to embed. There's better animation synced to the song out there, so just poke around a bit and you'll find it. I have it bookmarked on my iPhone so they can watch it anytime in the car. It grabs their attention, calms and quiets them down anytime. It's almost as addictive as the Gummy Bear song.
     Enjoy the madness.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kids Grow Up Fast

     Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.   ~ Proverbs 22:6

     We were putting a few remaining holiday things away today, and my five year old wanted to help. I was on the floor putting things into boxes. I looked up at her and was amazed at how tall she seemed to me. I went through an array of emotions in a short amount of time. "Look how big she is!", "Wasn't it just yesterday that...", and so on. I was having flashbacks and flashforwards like crazy. I'm sure that every daddy there knows what I mean in some way.
     I know I can't press that pause button. The only constant thing in life is change. So I try to stay current on two major things. Pictures/Video and Journal/Diary. My oldest is only five, and I can go to a photo or journal entry from her early days and realize I've forgotten a TON of stuff. Now, the pictures and videos aren't that hard. You just have to do it. has some great ideas for journal keeping here. It's not the "dear diary" stuff you'd think. It can be more easy than you'd ever thought.
     So before they're off to college or get married, think about it, and get on it!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Star Wars

Photo by Microkosmic

     "These aren't the kids you're looking for."

     We've all been impacted by Star Wars. We all know how to imitate Darth Vader. We've all dreamed about owning a fully functional light saber. We've all waved our hands in front of a store's automatic door wishing that it truly was "the force" that opened it.
     Now, my daughter is up for any kind of play. She does prefer it to be of a princess persuasion (and NOT Princess Leia). However, my son is displaying typical boy attributes and I'm getting excited about the possibilities. I'm not saying that I'm a super Star Wars geek, though I nearly cried when my Boba Fett helmet was stolen from my work desk years ago (...sniff). Still, I'm excited to share the galaxy far, far away with my own offspring. I hope that we can replay the "your not my father!" scenes with feeling.
     I'm a fan of family, history, genealogy, roots, tradition and so on. Landmark movies like Star Wars (Indiana Jones, Back To The Future, etc.) will be a part of our family's traditions. It was fun for me and my father. I hope it's as much for me and my son. ( your father......)



Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Visit To The Doctor

     A apple a day, keeps the doctor awa....OUCH! Time for shots I guess.

     We had a recent trip to the pediatrician that was pretty typical. We got in quick, but sat in the room until both kids we're pulling open all the cupboard and messing up all the "clean" paper on the exam bench. My boy was fine with all the exam stuff. In fact he was quite curious about what was going on. The three shots weren't welcome, but again, the crying was over in seconds (granted, he was up in the night, and limping the next day). It made me think of my three tips for a successful trip to the Doc.

     1. Make sure it's no big thing - I've noticed that if I'm not phased, the kids usually aren't phased. I've seen parents prep their kids for scary things, like Disneyland rides. "Okay, Jr.! Now it's going to get VEEEERY dark, and PREEEETY scary, and somethings going to jump out, and you're gonna want to scream your head off a little bit...." Don't do it. You're setting up the fear. If you must, be honest, brief, and show 'em it ain't no big deal.

     2. Diversion techniques - Mostly used for the nasty stuff, like shots, I have a variety of treats, electronic gizmos, and keywords that will divert my 1 AND 5 year olds' attention away from anything. Even if for a small moment, it's helped us get past shots, scary ear lighting equipment, etc. It works for us, so give 'er a try.

     3. Loose Clothing! - We learned this one early on. With all the poking around the doctor does, loose and comfy work better. ALSO,.... after those shots, you're child will thank you if you can slide on some loose and comfy sweats. It makes things that much easier and happier.

     I found some additional tips for making a trip successful for first time baby visits here, by Teresa Shaw. Also some good tips from a RN (student NP) here. Good luck!