Friday, November 30, 2012

Boy And Girl Baby Names

Avi: Should I call you Bullet? Tooth? 
Bullet Tooth Tony: You can call me Susan if it makes you happy. 
 - Snatch, 2000

   Baby names used to be a conventional thing. One would name a boy or girl using the traditional designation within their own culture, quite often for a symbolic figure within that culture or a particular family member. These days,'s ALL over the place. Mostly here in America. Popular fruits, emotions, etc.,  have become the new personal label. There was recently a family that gave a Twitter inspired name

   For our part, the wife and I used as a base these two books:

Beyond Ava & Adien - published in 2009, it served us well for our '09 boy and even helped start the process with our '12 girl. 

Best Baby Name Book In The Whole World - published in 1984, this was our first book and was a great launch to the search for our first, and kept us from "naming block" for our second and third. 

   There is much to consider when naming in the early 21st century. Will my child be bullied? How many other boys or girls will have the same name? Will the company I'm in love with send me endorsement checks for showing this kind of loyalty? I realize that some parents feel the need to be unique, oblivious to the torture that "Bernice" or "Apple" will be subject to over the years. Others are thoughtful and will always adhere to the traditional naming convention of their culture.

   Never discount where you might find the name you are looking for. The books above gave some great suggestions that rolled over into other ideas. For our part:
- Our first child was a name within our extended family that fit and we never looked back.
- Our second was a name we heard on a television show that trumped all ideas we had instantly.
- Our third was a "similar names to..." suggestion upon looking at the website ParentsConnect.

   After my suggestions of "The Amazing" or "Artist Formerly Known As", I'm very happy with out names, even if friends or family wrinkled their noses at them at first. Our children are now branded, and no other names would have been more perfect. So happy hunting and let me know what you came up with. I'm curious.


Poems and Stories For Children

"You may have tangible wealth untold 
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. 
Richer than I you can never be. 
I had a Mother who read to me." 
- Strickland Gillilan

   I love to write poems and short stories. As our children grow, so do their tastes in reading material. We've graduated from the Touch and Feel books by DK Publishing. Currently, we're split between our 7 year old 'Lil Miss and 3 year old 'Lil Man. These days, as parents, we're always on the lookout for new stories and poems for our children. 
   I think the first point to be made is we all could be reading to our children more. At the end of a long day, it can be the last thing you want to do. The benefits have been proven, as listed on the Early Moments website. Those reason speak for themselves. My key reasons are to build a better bond with my children and get them excited about reading for all the residual reasons.
   My brother reads 10-12 simple book to his young kids each night. I'm not that ambitious, but it is admirable. His trick to keep them interested was to rotate the short stories in their collection. He hits the local Goodwill Industries store. They usually have deals on books and he comes home with a new stack every so often. He'll keep the family favorites, as kids enjoy repetition of their favorite stories as well as a new ones.
   My 'Lil Miss has taken a shining to the legendary Shel Silverstein books that are a compilation of poems. The rhymes are fun for her to read out loud, and each poem's topic is funnier and more goofy than the last. They've been fun as the books themselves are from when The Wife and I were kids ourselves. We switch between Where The Sidewalk Ends and Light In The Attic, when we're not reading other short stories.
   As for our 'Lil Man, his recent love is for Puff The Magic Dragon. He likes the story, rhyming, and the song (which we sing often). Beyond that, he seems to really enjoy the old spoken word stories like Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.
   To whatever flavor your children enjoy, make the effort and get 'er done. You will appreciate the time and so will they. You will also appreciate the advance in their speech, comprehension, etc. Happy reading!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reclaimed Wood Projects

"One man's trash, is another man's treasure."

    Okay, so it you can substitute "woman" for "man", but the topic is the same. The Wife and I are all about the reclaimed wood craze. While it's not for everyone, we're hooked. Sure, we're buying and refinishing secondhand furniture. The finishes all seem to contain some form of distressing. The questions though, is why not start projects with ALREADY distressed wood. The Wife and I looked around a bit and my better half came across Vintage Timberworks in Temecula, CA. They have a ton of various types of timber available for projects, as well as some amazing completed commercial projects. 
   There are plenty of projects that are MUCH simpler for the beginner. I'm itching to find some time to replicate this project by a fellow woodsman. The graphic can be anything, but the concept is simple enough that one only needs some time and the guts to get started on the wood project. I've found that going into the first project or two knowing that mistakes will be made helps me from becoming frustrated. By project two or three, MANY lessons have been learned and I'm more confident. That brings me to my final tip. 
   I was getting a morning drink and stumbled across a guy with a trailer FULL of reclaimed wood (pictured above). I had heard of the concept and asked if that what he was doing. He said he was a fence builder, and what I saw was ALL GARBAGE!!! I nearly died, seeing all that aged wood going to the dump. FREE WOOD! It wasn't the time to take it all back home, so I got his card. He said he takes several sections at a time to a local furniture maker, who turns it into something valuable (like this from another website). Oh, one can dream. 
   So dream big, and make a little bit of time each day. I've found that helps me stay creative, while being a dad with three young tikes. If you have any ideas, send 'em my way!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Neighborhood Activities For Kids

It is never too late to have a happy childhood. ~ Tom Robbins
   We were lucky to have some recent additions to the neighborhood. Three girls living within three doors of our place makes for some fun evenings in our cul-de-sac. The big questions is what kind of activities are there for our children to keep them engaged and entertained, just in case the imagination runs out for the day? I read a quote that mentioned playing outside with our children is a lost art. I spent most of my childhood outside, though my father wasn't really there to participate. I'm just a big kid these days, so it's easy for me. I'm on my bike, with my 'Lil Man riding on the bar in front of me, chasing the girls on their bikes around our quiet street. When they're not playing bunnies, princesses, or just chatting, we've offered some alternatives.
   I've always had boxes on hand. Cardboard tunnels are ALWAYS a hit, and are disposable or re-usable afterward. Sidewalk chalk is also a neighborhood favorite. The kids practice their names, pictures, and quite often create mini roads of their own to travel on their bikes and scooters. We also keep a supply of Otter Pops, fruit snacks and such on hand for the kids to always have something to slow down and socialize while eating something fun or healthy, depending on the day.
   Finding neighborhood activities can depend on location, traffic, number of kids, etc. Before our new friend additions, I was out front with the children regardless, making it fun. I challenge us all to try harder, for they will demand you to leave them alone with their electronics and cell phones soon enough.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012

Everett Howard Swann (left) 1918-1975     -     Arthur Wayne Schofield (right) 1922-Present

“War does not determine who is right - only who is left.” ― Bertrand Russell
   On this Veternan's Day, I wanted to post a rememberance of the men in our family that served in the military. Both of my granfathers served in the Army Air Corp. Everett, on my father's side, died the week after I was born. Without writing a book, I know he was good at what he did and was recognized for some innovative thinking within his time in the service. Arthur celebrated 70 years of marriage this past year, only to lose his sweetheart about 6 months later. His time in the service is still labeled as "war is pointless". He lost his brother early on and has never wanted to talk about it much, other than to put down the concept of war.
   I don't know anyone else that has spent that kind of time in the service within our family, making them icons to us, for participating in something so great and terrible. Their experiences are unique in our family, as none of us can relate. I'm proud to be of their blood and know them to both be honorable and loving men, who put their wives and families first. Between them there are 7 children, 26 grandchildren, and 71 great-grandchildren. The legacy lives on.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Treasure Maps

Andy: Do you think there's really any treasure here? 
Mikey: Andy this whole ship is a treasure.

- The Goonies (1985)

   I've always wanted to do a treasure map, ever since I was a wanna-be Goonie. I remember the Map of One Eyed Willie oh so well. I did a small, lame one a few weeks back that went over extremely well with my older two pirates. They begged for another. So we found the right treasure, that the kids were kind of in need of for their rooms anyway, and I set to creating the map. This took me about two days of minimal time in between stuff. 
   I started with pencil, to map out the rooms with a ruler. I then penned them in with Micro pens (ohhh....I've got a thing for these pens...). I did some tracing and some lettering for the letters that would eventually lead the kids to the "treasure". I did some water color to give that "weathered" look. It ended up better than I thought it would. 
   The treasure hunt was fun. My 'Lil Miss was going way to fast, so I had to carry the 'Lil Man a bit. I put sticky diamonds in the locations where the letters would be in each room. After they were found, they were numbered so they would spell a sentence of where the final treasure location would be. The hunt was super fun for the kids and lasted around 15-20 minutes. I know I can add layers to add more time. A word find, maze, etc., would help, but this was my first attempt. I know we're all at different levels of creativity, but anything will do. The kids are worth it, as they are our treasures. Have fun!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Cheeky Daddy's A Daddy Again!

"Sleep is a mythical creature, like a unicorn or snipe." - The Cheeky Daddy

   So we're about 2 months into the new addition of our little family. #3 came along at the end of August and we've been awake ever since. All of the baby items came out of storage and got a good cleaning. All went to plan and our new little one joined us with little fanfare. The older two were anxious and curious. I sat in our room, waiting to be called into our third C-Section, wondering how this would change our lives. 
   And in 8 weeks, it's been a whirlwind. I'm not sure if this entry is real, or a dream. Sleep is on the ration list, though my sweet wife lets me get more than she does. As we look around, I know we all see people from various walks of life. Some are not interested in having a family. For those of us who are, this has been a wonderful addition to our family. Smiles started early, and the older two are sometimes bursting with love for their little sister. We all have trouble defending ourselves from the cute factor. 
   It's inspired another round of creativity, storytelling and the like. I'll be playing dolls, being the prince, and cuddling on the couch to girly cartoons for another while now. I wouldn't change a thing.