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.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Traditions


"Some men are Baptists, others Catholics; my father was an Oldsmobile man."
- Ralphie, A Christmas Story

   Holiday traditions are the best, and the quote above is from one of ours (oh, and the baby on the right is me). Me and my brothers watched A Christmas Story for years, every Christmas, until we were sick of it. Even then we put it on as a tradition in our own homes. It's one of many that we've accumulated over time, and have brought with us to our own families we've started. The Wife has been a wonderful teacher of tradition for which I'm grateful. Coming from a broken home, I've been working on why I didn't like Christmas for a while. Nowadays, I enjoy the decorating, the music, the giving, and so on. I relive my childhood holiday traditions with fond memory now.

   My brothers and I used to all pile in my mother's bed before heading downstairs. She'd go down first to "check things out", and then ring a bell to call us down, as was the tradition when she was a little girl. We'd wrestle our way into the hallway, and down the stairs, climbing over one another until we landed in a heap at the bottom. It was vast amounts of fun, even up to the year our youngest brother's shoulder cracked the tile upon landing.

   Other fun traditions were the hunt for the perfect tree, cookies and milk for Santa, the reading of Luke  chapter II about the birth of Jesus, and such. My mother was always baking something and we took plates of goodies to neighbors and friends. I loved our big glass bulbed lights for the house, and for the tree. The glow enticed me to sit on the living room couch and just hang out. When I recently told my older brother that the excitement of my children is overbearing, he replied, "Really? 'Cuz you were the WORST!" I protested and he shot back, "You don't remember, 'Tomorrow's Christmas! I'm SOOO EXCITED!!!!'" I guess there was a time when I was up late listening for hooves on my roof, then up early to see what St. Nicholas had brought.

   I hope you have some wonderful traditions with you and yours. All my best this time of the year, and here's to an awesome 2013! I'm grateful for the friends I've made through the blogosphere, and send best wishes along with a digital plate of baked goodies.

J. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Friday Flush #12

The Friday Flush #12
   I'm excited for The Friday Flush #12, 'cuz I ran into some really cool stuff. The holidays in full swing, and it seems like everyone is busy, all the time. So it's nice to take a few minutes for ourselves and "flush" the system. See what I did there? Today we look at an artist who passed away too soon, see what it takes to make the best paper airplanes, and of course, random gadgetry coolness.

The Work of Zina Nicole Lahr
   I was combing the net, visiting some of my favorite sources for all things cool, when I stumbled across a video entitled The Work of Zina Nicole Lahr. It simply stated that she had passed away recent to the tribute video, and her work as an artist needed more attention. I started watching and wondered what kind of girl this was. Having an art degree, I'd spent plenty of time around people who were trying to hard to be outside the box and/or off the grid. I was worried that was what I was in for. I was wrong. Zina is her own person. It became clear that she is an icon unto herself. I was impressed with her vision, bravery, trueness to herself, and so on. There's a sweetness to her delivery and manner. I found myself sad that an artist and person of that caliber was lost so young. She's worth taking a look at. I found myself edified in several ways afterward. I wanted to create more, be more outward, and take more chances. I hope she gets more recognition.

The Paper Airplane Guy
   I've been making paper airplanes since I was a kid. I mean, what American boy doesn't follow that stereotype? The love and fascination of flight has dazzled the minds of children and the child in every adult forever. So when I found The Paper Airplane Guy, I was hooked. His videos are fun to watch by themselves. His tutorials to build the best paper airplane are a heaven sent, since the art form has taken root in our young family. With a second story banister that offers the perfect launching off point, we're all about flight these days. Luckily, the kids don't care how good they fly just yet, but I see that being a necessity in the near future. The paper airplane guy (John Collins) has a wonderfully enthusiastic way about him. He's excited about his craft and it comes across in his videos. I recommend them to whomever wants to have some fun with a past time of your childhood.

The Tronical Tune
   Okay, so gadgets are cool for a variety of reasons. One of the things we love about gadgets is usually the wow factor. With each new benchmark, we look to be impressed. When I saw the Tronical Tune in use, my jaw dropped. You can learn more from the company's site at tronical.com, but check out the first link, and tell me you didn't get a little giddy? Oh, what will they think of next? I had no idea this thing existed, mostly because I've not played guitar seriously for some time. Probably also because I'm not very good in the first place, but I digress. Gadgets are cool because they make our lives easier in some way, or do things in such a way that makes us look freaking cool just doing them! So it's worth checking out, even if just to say you did. 

   So there you have it. Another week, another dollar, another gray hair. We took some time to get to know a wonderful artist lost too young, learned how to make a paper airplane that soars, and learned we never have to tune our own guitar again. I'm sleeping in tomorrow, so don't come knocking and stay off my lawn. (wink 'n a smile)

J.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

When The Daddy Duck Says Quack Quack Quack

 

"Five little ducks went out to play, over the hills and far away.
When the daddy duck says quack quack quack, four little ducks came running back."
- childhood song
 
   When I was a kid, the song above was a favorite. The tune was soothing and the buildup was fun. At the end, when no ducks go out to play, and the daddy duck says, "quack, Quack, QUACK!!!",...all of the ducks come running back. I've passed this tune onto my older two, and it's especially a favorite of my 'Lil Man. He too likes the tune, knows the words, and loves the buildup to the end line. There's little hand motions that can go along with it, making it even more fun.
 
  The tune came to life recently when I realized something while we were all out front. I make sure in these early years that the kids don't play out front without The Cheeky Daddy or Mommy around. Even with supervision, the kids can stray to far. When I see that they've left the safe zone (whatever that is for the day), I whistle loudly with my fingers. It's a short piercing sound that my older two have gotten used to. So when I whistle, just once, they come running back. In the past several weeks, I found myself humming the song in my head or out loud. "When the daddy duck says quack, Quack, QUACK!!! All of the ducks come running back!"
 
   Their response is limited within the walls of the house, but some reason, I only have to "ask" once when outside. It's tells me that they can and will listen. It also tells me that I will always be protective of my little ones, even when they're not so little. Are you a mommy or daddy duck?
 
J. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What Makes A Good Dad?


"What the hell did I know about raising little boys?" - The Cheeky Grandpa

   The quote above came from my father, when I asked why he never brushed MY hair, like he was doing with my half sister during a phone conversation. My father tried, in his own way, to make a difference. Recently I've been hearing The Wife say, "You're such a good daddy." I immediately feel inadequate and wonder, what makes a good dad? 

   I know it's all in the effort. Do we try our best? Do we give selflessly? The biggest hurdle I've faced is learning from mistakes and becoming a better father each passing day. When I bark, it ruins the progress I've made and I feel like I'm back to square one. When I listen to my conscience telling me to slow down and use a calm voice mixed with more patience, I accomplish more. I've been pushing to take more of the quality time that all my elders are admonishing me to take. Enough people close to me have stated that it was all over too quickly, that I've taken notice. I remember my two years as a missionary in England being labeled the same way. "Work hard, 'cuz it's over in a blink." Boy, was it ever. With that experience, an concerted effort to make time, take time, and enjoy that time is the name of the game. 

   I don't have a list here. More than that, I wanted to post the question and hopefully spark a brief thought that might lead to a board game, a bedtime story, or any other act that may have not occurred. I believe that anyone reading this is probably the type that wants to be a better parent. That's where it starts. Let us dads put our all into our families,.......... 'cuz it's over in a blink. 

J. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Daughter's First Kiss

 
 
"When my daughter starts dating, I plan on sitting there cleaning my shotgun when the boy shows up. I'll just smile and say, 'Oh, don't worry about this. My gun only works after 9pm.'" - Family Friend
 
   Hey guys,.....it happened. My 'Lil Miss had her first kiss. I'm slightly numb here. I'm torn between being excited along side her, and polishing my shotgun in preparation. Let's create a baseline by telling the world that my first kiss was when I was 4 years old at my own birthday party, in the shoe closet with my friend Kami. No big deal, but I knew what it was, that we wanted to kiss, and then life went on as though nothing happened. So, now let's bring you up to speed.
 
   I was putting my 'Lil Miss to bed late last week and we were chatting like we do. I asked who she played with at school that day and she gave me the basics, ending with something about "my lips tingled." I asked her to repeat herself and she explained that her and a friend were laying on the grass that paralleled the blacktop where the boys play handball. The two girls had their eyes closed when my girl felt a "tingle" on her lips. She opened her eyes and looked around to see her crush running back to the handball game. She jumped up and ran over, quietly asking him, "Did you just kiss me?" He replied with an incredulous "no!", before looking down and whispering "yes". When my 'Lil Miss finished her story she blushed and hid under her covers. I wanted to hide under mine for a minute.

   I had multiple feelings, but kept my wits about me so that she'd open up more. I showed interest, amazement, and curiosity. I know she really likes this boy, so I didn't want to embarrass. It was obviously a kiss and run situation, so I didn't panic. I mean, if she was busted making out under the slide, I'd be writing a different post. This is more initial reaction. She's my firstborn, and therefore my first experience with a great many things. I know the boy's parents fairly well, and chose not so say anything so I didn't throw the brave little boy under the bus. I also told my daughter NOT to tell any of her girl classmates, since many of them like this boy too. I've already heard some jealous behavior in the previous weeks. So the event was navigated with grace and elegance as a parent, and something similar by my little girl. It's been several days and I'm still in a bit of a daze over the whole thing. Am I in for it? Someone tell me I'll be okay.

J. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Friday Flush #11

The Friday Flush #11

   At the end of another week, I'm actually quite thrilled to share some stuff for The Friday Flush #11. As time passes, hopefully I'm being productive, but for certain there are others who have been. These are some must see links, and I'm happy to pay it forward. In this flush we see a satirical look at our need for the latest gadgetry, see how the latest gadgetry can bring joy to others, and end with a pretty cool piece of gadgetry. Sound like a theme? It wasn't intended that way. 


iDiots
As an owner of the iPhone since the 1st generation, I've been a loyalist ever since. I've owned three Apple computers (4 if you include the old desktop my brother insisted we have back in the late 80's). There have been many parodies making fun of the "dyed in the wool" Apple fan, and I've thought most were down right funny. Occasionally my feathers were ruffled, but only because the point hit to close to the mark. I stumbled across the animated short called iDiots, by the crew at Big Lazy Robot VFX. The animation is so good, that I thought at first they had worked super hard with real windup robots. Not the case. Check it out. 

The Screen Machine
I really enjoy all things Scotland. Ever since Scooby-Doo's A Highland Fling with a Monstrous Thing, I was hooked. I spent some time in England, and found the Scottish to be fun people. So when anything good comes out of the land of the kilt, I'm all eyes and ears. In another Vimeo video named The Screen Machine, Scotland's mobile cinema makes its rounds to the islands of Coll and Tiree. The concept is cool, the technology whisks people away, and the recipients couldn't be more grateful. Like the wee lass says at the end, I'd love to get one of these to park on the side of my house. It'd be a party at The Cheeky House every weekend. 

The Copenhagen Wheel
Whoever thought you could reinvent the wheel? The folks at MIT have been working on the Copenhagen Wheel with the city of Copenhagen for a while and are close to bringing it to the masses. There is a motor, sensors, replaceable battery, embedded control system, and wireless connectivity. Yup, there's an app for that. The thing learns from your cycling habits and helps you when you need it most, kicking in at the right times to make you eco-friendly commute that much easier. After checking out the video, and understanding how the technology works, I'm wondering when I can get my hands on one of these. It would have made my time in England a lot more productive!

So there you have it. Gadgets for The Friday Flush #11. We've seen how we're a slave to the new, how we can embrace the new, and how the new can take us places we never knew we could go. All my best. 

J. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The School Lunch Bandit


"What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine." - Modern Proverb

   Our 'Lil Miss has been putting up with our peanut butter and honey sandwiches for some time. She finally cracked and told us she was sick of them, and wanted something else. The Wife did a lot of research and came up with the most popular solution, which ended up being the FUNtainer Food Jar by Thermos. We'd heard good things and have since really liked what we can do with our little girl's lunches. Chicken nuggets, bean burritos, and so on.  The solution to diversifying our 2nd graders lunch menu has also presented a dilemma. The school lunch bandit began to make an appearance and children were coming home hungry.

   Think back to a time at elementary school when you were sitting in front of a lunch that was less than compelling to each. Was there ever another student that had a lunch you coveted? The struggle continues to this very day, as I witnessed when volunteering at my daughter's school one day. Each day, someone has something another student or two wants. We recently had an incident where a girl was taking chicken tenders out of the food jar to eat for herself. The yard duty was called upon, but the girl grabbed another afterward and it ended up that my daughter only at 2 of the 5 tenders I had put in for her. She came home fairly hungry. The next morning upon drop off, I had a chat with her teacher and discussed ways we could discourage the school lunch bandit.

   We've discussed being more assertive with our 'Lil Miss, and hope that some encouragement from the school will all result in everyone getting to eat what they were sent with. I look back and wonder if I was taking it too seriously. I mean, I was REALLY excited about the new tenders we'd bought her. It also made it real when our little gal was digging through the pantry for food RIGHT when she got home. True, she's growing, but coming off of getting to only eat 1/3 of her lunch it needed to be addressed.

   Mixing up school lunches is a massive undertaking. I credit The Wife with working hard to find a solution which we've both been able to implement. I just hope she doesn't ever start asking for sushi.

J.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Keeping Up With Baby


"I feel the need. The need for speed." - Mavrick, Top Gun

   I'm tired, guys. We as parents spend so much time getting excited for our wee ones to start walking, that we forget how much work it really is to deal with them once they've started walking! Our Wee Lass started walking about a month ago and she hasn't stopped since. There is also her fascination with the garbage, so when she's grabbed any number of discarded trash pieces, catching her is like wrangling cats. It's certainly added a layer of stress, but we wanted this, right? 

   There are certainly some difficulties that come with your toddler starting to walk. Every ledge and corner becomes a death trap. Since newly walking toddler all look like they are drunk, EVERY side of them is destined for some kind of infant fender bender. We watch for corners, surfaces that can pinch, toy land mines left on the floor, unattended stairs, and so on, and so on. With an 8YO and 4YO, there is plenty left within reach of "the runner". I mean, when we watched The Croods as a family, the older two immediately adopted the phrase "Release the baby!"


   So given that it was inevitable, and each phase only lasts so long, I thought a quick post recording this point in time was relevant. I wish you all in the same situation my best. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Though, sometimes you WILL be sprinting. Just remember to stay hydrated. 

J. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Keeping Up Holiday Traditions With Glade and Ziploc


   As the holiday's approach, The Wife and I expect it to smell like Christmas. What that means to each person can be a bit different, but I think we can all agree that typical smells of Christmas hover around pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, and so on. Amongst the many smells we bring into the home to make it feel a bit more festive, The Cheeky Daddy has partnered with the Niche Parent Network and has tried out some of Glade's Winter Collection. 

   This year's Glade(R) Winter Collection features four limited editions fragrances. Sparkling Spruce(tm) - Gather 'round - it's time! The crisp fragrance of fresh-cut pine is pure holiday magic at any age, evoking the wide-eyed wonder of a thousand twinkling lights. Apple Cinnamon Cheer(tm) - Brrrr! Wrap those snowy mittens around a mug of steaming cider, and let the fragrance of red apples and spice warm you from head to toe. Pure Vanilla Joy - Nothing says holidays like a fresh-baked batch of frosted cookies. Let the uplifting scent of pure, creamy vanilla keep you in the spirit all season long. Frosted Berry Kiss - Holiday magic is in the air! With ripe red berries and fresh green garlands, this festive fragrance captures the excitement of a kiss under the mistletoe. Though each of the fragrances were enticing, we were smitten by the Pure Vanilla Joy, which brought a base of goodness to our home. 

   I was also able to try out some of the Ziploc(R) brand Holiday Collection, which adds a festive touch to seasonal gift giving. The limited editions bags and containers can be filled with your favorite homemade treats for your holiday hostess or favorite teachers. At Kmart, SYWR Members get a $5 coupon to spend on groceries, health or beauty with a $15 or more purchase of select Glade(R) or Ziploc(R) Holiday collection products. In addition, over $12 of additional savings can be found on Kmart.com for Glade(R) and Ziploc(R) holiday collection products. The bags have added that little extra touch of the holidays for the treats we'll be giving out to friends and family. 

   I love how The Wife and I are able to continue traditions that are enhanced by some of the wonderful products available. I used some of the helpful product coupons available via the Kmart website. This makes the decision that much easier. Happy holidays from The Cheeky Daddy, and I hope you can create a wonderful experience as well!

J. 


The Details: THIS IS A SPONSORED POST IN PARTNERSHIP WITH NICHE PARENT NETWORK. I AM A KMART SC JOHNSON BLOGGER, THOUGH ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Craft Show Consequences


"Consequences, consequences,....as long as I'm rich." - Daffy Duck, Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island

   Some of you may know that The Wife and I have been slowly trying to build a little side business that consists of re-purposed pallet art and all manner of holiday craft type stuff. in the beginning, we didn't really know what it would turn into, but were willing to make the effort and try. We had always wondered what would become of our family life once we got going. There was concern that we might get way to into our new venture, and the kids would feel the affect of that. The last thing either of us wanted going into it was to lose that time we love to spend with our little ones.

   So with our evenings spent watching the kids play out front anyway, we stared in on our projects. The result was that we were around and available all while working on our stuff. The stuff that required more attention was done after the wee ones were in bed. Something we saw in our children as a bonus, was their desire to create even more. It was apparent that. They were seeing us hat d at work and they wanted in on the action. We're around so much that when today's inaugural craft show came up, the kids we're super excited to spend the day at their neighbor friend's place.

   So, the craft show consequences are not the detriment to the family that we thought they would be. We've been able to stay an engaged family, spend quality time outdoors with the kids, and as a couple we are realizing a dreams to find something we like to do together that might bring in a few extra bucks. It took a long time to get off the ground, being fearful of inexperience. Now we wonder why we took so long to get this far. It's certainly taught us lesson in doing verses putting things off. I hope we can all learn that lesson sooner rather than later.

J.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Wood Pallets Added Variety To Our Lives


“Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all it's flavour.” ― William Cowper

   When The Wife and I first started collecting old discarded wood pallets, we just looked at them all as uniformly delicious in their worn and distressed look. Our first several pieces were nearly untouched in preparation for their new life. Each board had been aged to perfection. The effect ended up being a double edged sword. True, our first several pieces were similar in their base look and feel. We couldn't have been more happy with the result. As soon as the supply ran out though, it was time to acquire a new collection of pallets to re-purpose. This is where the story takes an interesting turn.

   Each wood pallet has its own life. We noticed this immediately upon our fresh new supply of materials. Our next round of projects began with re-purposed pallet wood that was,....well,....not that old. It presented a momentary dilemma that got us talking about a solution. We researched some ideas and tried out some methods to "age" the wood. After some good results, we had a new perspective for our materials coming from anywhere, in any condition. 

   I think the analogy could be used in a lot of areas of life. As we try to encourage our children to make new friends, try new foods, and so forth, variety is essential. Now when it comes to the making of a favorite dish, I want no deviation in its taste, but that's different. In this case it's obvious I'm talking about variety being a good thing. Through a lesson learned, our decor pieces have gained variety and we've been introduced to new avenues for us to explore. We can all benefit from a little variety in our lives. Add some spice to yours. 

J. 



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hasbro Transformer Construct-Bots Review and Giveaway!


Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye

   As a kid, I was a part of the Transformer movement. With the ongoing popularity of the autonomous robotic organisms, there's no end to the fun you can have with the movies, television programming and of course, the toys. Ahhhh, the toys. My brothers and I had a bin full of the original 80's merchandise, and I cry into my root beer every time I think about my mother getting rid of them once we all got older. I've been fortunate to partner with Hasbro to review some of their product lines that include the recently launched Transformers Construct-Bots

   My older two watch and love some of the new cartoons, so when they heard about the new Construct Bots, there was excitement in the air. We opened Ironhide: Transformer Construct-Bot Scout Class (retail price $9.99) and Soundwave: Transformer Construct-Bot Elite Class (retail price $14.99). Each came with a number of pieces, much like a puzzle to put together. The kids loved the construct portion. The toys are recommended for ages 6 and up, but with a little help from his old man, my 'Lil Man at 4 years old had a great time with it. In typical child fashion, we had to backtrack a few times when there was an arm where a leg went. That's just good old fashioned enthusiasm. There was much discussion about who was on which side of the fight, where did the Transformers come from, and so on. The kids were pleasantly surprised at how bit the toys ended up being upon completion. We had fun playing with the characters in robot form, though for the mechanically disinclined, converting them to their auto form is a bit more tricky, even for the old man. 

   In the end, what I liked best about the event was the interaction I had with my older two. I think it is a lesson in anything we gift out children. With the holidays upon us, we can apply this lesson to anything we give our children. Get involved. I think we had some music on quiet in the background, but for the most part, we sat at the table for close to an hour just being together. We talked Transformers, we joked about a number of other things, and had an overall great time. Seeing as both my son AND daughter had a great time with the project, I can recommend these for any child that shows interest in building things and might love the lore of the Transformer. Just be ready for lots of sound effects during the building process. "Rat-at-at.....phew! Ker-bang!!!!"

   On that note, let's do a giveaway!!! This giveaway is for a Transformers Construct-Bots Triple Changer Set. Enter below and good luck!

J. 


 The Details: Promotion open to U.S. residents ages 18+, void where prohibited. Winner will be chosen at random on, about, or after December 4, 2013, and will be notified via email to obtain their shipping address. If no response within 24 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen. Shipping address must be a street address - no P.O. Boxes. Prize provided by Hasbro Gaming and delivered by The Cheeky Daddy. Not responsible for lost or misdirected mail. One shall win, one shall fall. Autobots,....roll out. 

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. All opinions are that of The Cheeky Daddy, Jason Swann. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Friday Flush #10

The Friday Flush #10

   Bears, beets, Battlestar Gallactica. I love that intro scene in the office where Jim is dressed up as Dwight, making fun of his idiosyncrasies. I was feeling fun and frisky this week and this line popped into my head. So,.....how to make it a cohesive Flush..............AHA!!! I've got it! I present The Friday Flush #10 where we discuss,....well....bears,...beets,.....and Battlestar Gallactica. 

Herobear and the Kid    I stumbled across Herobear and the Kid back in my artist days. I was immediately blown away. The movement of the drawings felt animated, even though I knew they were static drawings. The story is great, allowing a fun escape for child and adult alike. As an artist, when I first discovered Herobear, I was enamored right from the start. I copied everything I saw and felt like I progressed as an artist for it. I was also so absorbed into the story that it spurred me on to start jotting down some of my own stories that I had in my head from some time. So for several reason of my own, and soon some of your own, Herobear and the Kid is a must read. With the holidays coming up, it's the perfect time, for the perfect story, with the perfect theme. Oh, and if this gets read some other time of the year, it's a good time then too. 

Beets In The Juicer
   I've been wanting a juicer for some time. As age took its toll on my body, I've had a hard time handling stuff like lettuce and such. Also, for a guy who can't seem to get his daily serving of fruits and vegetables, it seemed like the logical step. I seem to really like juice. Sure, I'll enjoy the store bought stuff, but there's something about the fresh stuff. I've had orange juice from Jamba, and a blend from a health juice place in my home town. The stars finally aligned a few weeks back, and we bought ourselves an Omega Vertical Masticating Juicer, and I haven't looked back. I'm planning on a blog post, as I documented the whole experience that included some VERY excited children of ours. The reviews are in,......SO worth the money. We love it and already use it a ton. Apples, oranges, carrots, and beets have been favorites of ours thus far. Check one out if you can.

Battlestar Gallactica
   Me and my brothers grew up on the fruits of the 80's. Buck Rodgers, The Dukes of Hazzard, and of course Battlestar Gallactica. I thought Apollo was a role model and Starbuck was just freakin' cool. I was still young to get a lot of it, but I knew the Cylons were bad. Fast forward to the revamp of the series and make up your own opinion. My brother is not a fan of today's CG heavy movies and programming. When a series had a great plot line, he's in. So it has been with the new Battlestar Gallactica. I watched the first season and part of the second to keep pace and really enjoyed it. Both versions have their merit, for their time and what they were trying to accomplish. If you're into science fiction, you may just enjoy both. I did.

   So there you have it. Another Friday, another flush. We did it too! Bears, beets, and Battlestar Gallactica. I've impressed myself, and that's not easy. An ode to The Office and an episode since past left us with an amazing comic, a new life of juicing, and killer robots from outer space from the 80's and the now. All my best and take care.

J. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sportsmanship Is Dead


"One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it." - Knute Rockne
VS
"There is no such thing as sportsmanship." - Terrell Davis

   I stumbled across an article on Yahoo! Sports about a ban on post game handshakes. I nearly thought it was April Fools with how odd is sounded. Granted the story is just in Kentucky, but I had to read on to see what else it might say. In the long tradition of shock headlines, it would appear that the ban was to exempt the school district from any liability. It's more for when (not if) things get heated in the post game tradition of hand shaking. While most teams say they will continue the tradition anyway, the statement has been made, and you can't take it back.
   During a time when The Wife and I are trying to teach our children good sportsmanship, I'm rather shocked and a little disappointed that anyone would even consider proposing a ban on anything that is meant to foster goodwill. I think we've all seen a few YouTube videos that demonstrate that there are plenty of "bad apples" out there that will, and have, spoiled the bunch. The highs school I went to allowed people to mill around the track while they watched Friday night football games until our team got ganged up on by the crowd after one particular play. Now there's a chain link fence surrounding most of the field, making it look like gladiator games or Thunderdome.
   I recall reading a few of the comments and one in particular stood out. A woman stated, "Instead of punishing all the players, why not penalize those who are not mature enough to handle good sportsmanship?" I agree. I'm tired of a VERY small group dictating how the masses are treated. I've noticed as of late that my grandfather's quote is correct. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Those who complain are speaking the loudest. Since I've realized that, it's been a goal of mine to be a louder voice for the positive. If all we hear is the negative and nothing but complaining, there will be nothing for our children to participate in. Let's do more to support positive programs, traditions, events, and the like.
   So, given the two quotes above, which one will you be? I recommend we try to be the first. Shake on it?

J.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Friday Flush #9

The Friday Flush #9

   It's been a week, and that's a fact. I was rear-ended in L.A. a couple of days ago, by a foreigner who had no insurance. It put a funny haze over everything else. I was a bit shook up, but will also be out a small chunk of change (just as we head into the holidays, no less) to get the car fixes. Thus, it's time to flush. This week's wrap up takes us to my birthplace in spirit, an interview with a cartoon great, and some random ferret fun. 

Toothpick San Francisco
   I stumbled across the images of Scott Weaver's toothpick San Francisco and was awe struck. As an artist and a native of San Francisco, I'm torn between being amazed and being freakin' amazed. It's says that it took the artist over 100,000 toothpicks to make over the span of 35 years. I can't get to garage projects half the time, let alone fathom the amount of time that Scott dedicated to this project. There is a Vimeo video in the link where artist takes you on a tour of the project. Here's where it gets crazy nuts awesome. The piece is a complex kinetic sculpture, meaning that he places ping-pong balls in the piece toward the top, and they roll and bounce their way through the entire structure. The pictures are amazing. The video is just mind numbingly cool. Think of a project in your past that took a long time and tell me anything that might come close to this one. I gotta step up my game.

Interview With Bill Watterson
   I've been a fan of the Calvin and Hobbs comic for many years. Bill Watterson had me in stitches with his satire on so many things, portrayed through the eyes of a young boy and his tiger. In a rare Bill Watterson interview by Jake Rossen, we get a few more snippets from the creator of a comic loved by so many. When I first stumbled across the comic, it was random, and I laughed out loud so many times that I lost count. The trouble Calvin would get into, the imagination he had, the sarcastic retorts that Hobbs would lob back at the boy. As I've become a parent, I get to now see the other perspective. That of his parents. Dealing with a 3YO boy with an active imagination feels like living the comic. Calvin likes to empty the bathtub in his story, and so does my 'Lil Man. So the window into an man's perspective things like children, parents, girls, teachers, and such rings true and has evolved. I have the anniversary book, but this extra time with the man is precious. If you don't know of Bill Watterson and his baby, Calvin and Hobbs, please check it out.

Ferrets Playing In Packing Peanuts
   I've watched this video of ferrets playing in packing peanuts,....twice,...the whole way through. I don't know if it's because I owned a ferret in college a long time ago and I miss that little guy, or if it's just that cute & funny to watch. There's a brown one and a white one, and once they realize where they are, the fun ensues. I remember my little guy when I took him out into the snow. He sniffed around, walked in a bit, and then dove head first into the foot deep powder and disappeared. Only for a second, but it's clear that these little fellas in the video are in heaven. It's a nice little break and always fun to see cute animals having a good time.

   And thus we end The Friday Flush #9. After a nice long week, I hope we all can take a breather and regroup before the next round. We've taken a different tour of San Francisco, spent some time with a comic legend, and relaxed with our furry friend the ferret. All my best.

J.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Writing Pad Dad - Your Relationship With Your Child's Teacher


"When you get a report saying your child is misbehaving or isn't getting homework done,
don’t call the teacher. You're the parent!" - Writing Pad Dad

   We've been on the front lines of some school related stuff these past few weeks. While our 'Lil Miss flourishes in her 2nd grade class, there are several experiences and stories that have graced our lives that beg several questions. As we sit around the parental "water cooler", The Wife and I have both heard various reasons and excuses as to why little Johnny/Jenny are not doing well in class. I was always brought up to believe most of it had to do with what happened at home. 

   So you can imaging the fortuitous moment when I got The Writing Pad Dad's latest post in my Inbox.  Entitled How To Have An Awesome Relationship With Your Child's Teacher, I tore through each point and found affirmation in how we are handling things at home. While this IS America, and we're all free to form our own opinion, I appreciate those offered by The Writing Pad Dad because they have a lot of teaching experience in their home. With that background, I found myself looking at each advice point carefully to see how it might help our little family.

My own thoughts on The Writing Pad Dad's Tips: 

1. Don't judge your child's teacher by how much fun your kid is having in his/her classroom:  
He's right. Fun is a byproduct, and isn't the first priority of school (while it is a nice bonus).
2. Let the teacher do his/her job. 
Imagine random people coming in to complain about how you're doing your job.
3. Hold Your child accountable. 
If you don't do this, you've got more problems.
4. Don’t believe everything you’re told. 
We listen to our 'Lil Miss with the child filter on. It's a must with kids.
5. Attend Back to School Night & Parent/Teacher Conferences. 
We attend and it's CRUCIAL to understanding what's going on overall.
6. Don’t run to the principal. 
Bypassing the chain of command never got anyone anywhere, ever.
7. Buck up, Buttercup. 
This is a work in progress in our home. A long,.....long.....road.
8. Remember that teachers are human beings.   
Though not all can be as cool as you,.....we're all human. Remember that.
9. Don’t gossip or speak negatively about the teacher. 
Our kids pick up on EVERYTHING. Smack talking the teacher will result in a poor child/teacher relationship.
10. Learning is a choice:
"My taxes pay for this!" That doesn't fly, and we should be thankful we have teachers who want to teach our children. We need to help with the desire and success of that.

   Thanks to The Writing Pad Dad for some great insights. I hope we can all work at a great relationship with our teachers. Our children will benefit from it, and so will we.

J.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hamilton Beach - Products Built To Last


"We're committed to helping make your day a little easier, more creative and flavorful through Good Thinking® applied to the style and function in all of our small electric appliances." - Hamilton Beach

   In a day where it seems that products aren't built to last, I bring you a story about an appliance that has lasted well past its expiration date. The Wife loved to bake when she was a young teen. Her mother and grandmother taught her the basics and she took each new step on her own. In the middle of that baked goodness was a Hamilton Beach 3 Speed Hand Mixer that helped on her quest for the next best treat. She used it so much, that when she married The Cheeky Daddy, it was handed down a generation so that she might continue to explore new adventures in the kitchen. Before children, she would come home from a long day at work and bake to unwind. Holidays saw no shortage of delicious treats and I was always eager to see what she'd come up with. Just recently, our 'Lil Man brought warm banana bread, fresh from the oven. Mom's trusty hand mixer did it again. 
   With everything in life, age takes its toll. The family mixer is no different. The Wife admits that she can get attached to things, and her relationship with her Hamilton Beach hand mixer has lasted longer than we've known each other. We figure that she's been baking with that mixer for around 17 years or so. The thought of getting a new one seemed wrong on some level. This past weekend, we decided that it was time. I let The Wife grieve appropriately, for the decision was difficult. We headed to the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond to review the choices of today. There was the cheapest model that had an unknown brand name. Then there were the high end hand mixers that could to the job and then your taxes. Mixing bowls are too pricey for our family right now, so they were out. Then right in the middle, was a brand new 6 Speed Hamilton Beach. Feeling a sense of loyalty, that became our new appliance, and we headed home. 
   Since the purchase, we've enjoyed a fresh batch of homemade M&M cookies. With a sense of betrayal, The Wife said, "That new mixer is,....wow,........I mean....WOW." I doubt we'll get rid of our old friend, the original mixer, any time soon. As far as products built to last goes, that Hamilton Beach mixer has my vote. I wish there was a mileage counter on that thing. It'd put those old Chevy trucks to shame. 

J. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Friday Flush #8

The Friday Flush #8
   Fuh-fuh-fuh-Friday! Yes, another week has past and it's time to flush. Welcome to The Friday Flush #8, where people go to get their weekend inspiration. Okay, maybe not ALL people, but people nonetheless. I mean,....YOU'RE people,....aren't you? This segment discovers a stop-motion piece that is sure to impress, what the zombie apocalypse might look like, and more straight randomness.

Amazing Stop-Motion
There are some talented artist and animators out there. Many make me feel like I'm still drawing stick figures, but most leave me feeling inspired. This video, named Katachi, is nothing short of incredible. I'd love to explore the wonderful world of stop-motion animation, but time is something that a young family does NOT have. The best I can do is find what little time I can dedicate to art projects. My first stop motion animation was We Are Going To Be Friends where the shoes of our 'Lil Miss go on a short adventure. Take a peek and let me know if I have the makings. Then I'll get onto the next one. Who knows where it might take me!

Abandoned Places
There is something mystical about abandoned places that man has left behind. Whether you find yourself wondering what the zombie apocalypse might look like, or are just fascinated by the look of a time past, I thought that the 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World might be worth a viewing. Some of the locations are quite old, but some are eerily new. It gives a small window into what it might look like if we did abandon the earth, or the zombies finally took over. Seeing mother nature take back over is what impresses me. "Life finds a way" is the line from Jurassic Park, and I think it applies. The pictures are captivating enough, but I wonder the feeling one would have if physically at each location. Would the silence around be enough to send you running back to civilization? Interesting.

The Scootercase
Who says you have to grow up? Even though we may get older, we still like to have some fun and get to our destinations with style and punctuality. For this I give you the Scootercase by Hammacher. As of this post the item that would define a generation, has been discontinued. This is not to say that you wouldn't find this highly coveted item in the likes of a thrift store, estate sale, or online bidding war. I've always pictured rolling up to the business building of a high end client on one of these. I'd hop off in style, break the piece down to the case in a flash, and hand business cards to the VPs in front of me who are now flashing grins of confidence in a business party that knows, as they do, that time is money. I know that with American ingenuity, we won't be seeing the last of this defining product. Or, like the carbon car, will it never see the light of day due to corporate intervention to stifle the brilliant ideas of our countries greatest inventors. Conspiracy theorists unite!

   So there you are! Animation still rocks, mankind is on the brink, but we'll do it in rolling scooter style. All my best for the weekend. It's certainly needed these days.

J.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Letting Your Children Go


"Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." - Hermann Hesse

   Today marks the farthest our 'Lil Miss has travelled away from us. The Wife and I are a ball of nerves and pride all at the same time. She's been with a friend's family before, almost as far, but it was easier on us knowing she was getting one on one care. Today she's with her 2nd grade class, and three other 2nd grade classes, headed off to the San Diego Safari Park. Google that thing, and you'll see how big it is. 
   Letting your children go is a tricky business. I saw a quote by British physician and writer Havelock Ellis who said, "All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." Isn't that the truth. I remember sending my little girl off to preschool for the first time. The Wife and I were both a bag of anxiety. Then our sweet young lady gave the backhanded wave "good-bye" without even making eye contact and we knew she'd be okay. We've reached plateaus at each stage that we become comfortable in, only to be thrown out of our comfort zone with the next stage. Each new defining event brings with it new worries, questions, and decision to make about being strong verses being an overprotective parent.
   So it the question around letting your children go is, how strong are you? I don't believe we can hang on to them forever, but I also border on the paranoid. It's all about the next phase in life. From what I gather, I'm at level 7 of 1,347,923. Thus, as a father, I face my future as a parent with mixed emotions.
   I welcome any thoughts or advice that might sooth my soul. Until then, I shall continue pacing until I'm comfortable with whatever phase I'm in that has me biting nails and shuffling about.

J. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ancestors - It's All In The Family (Tree)


"If you go up your family tree high enough, you're bound to find a few monkeys." - Unknown

   I'm a bit of a family history nut. I love to ask people where they're surname comes from, and how long ago they came to America. As a resident of planet earth, we seem so close while at the same time seeming so distant. I think my interest in family history helps to bridge that and get others thinking about their heritage.

   It all started when I asked my father where we came from before America. He told me that our surname was recorded coming off a boat, but not getting on. "So...", he said. "Either someone got married on the boat, or we're descended from horse thieves trying to escape their name." I inquired with my grandmother and she refuted the story, stating that my great grandfather immigrated from Ireland, through Lancaster, England. Not as amazing a story, but I like that I know more. That planted the seed and now, when time permits, I enjoy digging deeper and discovering where I came from and who those people were.

   There are some great websites that can help you get started. Ancestry.com is a great one as well as Genealogy.com. You can get started there, and expand over time. The only reason I ever got my original website up, was a co-worker once telling me "You need to just get it up. Fix it along the way. Don't wait to have it perfect, or else you'll NEVER get it done. The same applied to family history. It's all about getting started. Take a few minutes, ask a few question from family that might know a few bits of information about past relatives. Get going and see what comes of it. I've found it to be rewarding and a way to connect with the family of my past.

All my best.

J. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking With Angels

 
"There's nothing quite so sweet as tiny little baby feet." - Unknown
 
   Our Wee Lass is now walking and things have gotten quite interesting once again in our home. Furniture corners seem like death traps, my back aches from being used as a walker, and we're all on constant monitoring duty. The Wife and I have been reminded how little we get done when our little butter-bean is awake these days. It really takes all of our time when she's up. Now that she's walking, she's more into things than ever before. We find that she'll go from the bathroom, to the garbage can, to the stairs, to the crockery cabinet,.....all in rounds that keeps us on our toes. (....sigh....)
 
   We get so excited for each new phase our little ones reach. I truly believe that most of us do not wish away any of the precious time. There were enough friends and family in our lives before we had children, telling us the folly of being to eager for the next step in our children's lives. That being said to us more than once, we were more prepared to enjoy each phase. Having said that, I'll admit that we were throwing bags full of pennies into the wishing well with our 'Lil Man. That kid was into EVERYTHING, and we're still pulling our hair out with him. It takes a lot of patience, with some more than others, to slow down the pace and really absorb what is happening in life. Case in point, the videos we watch with our oldest. As she watches herself in amazement, The Wife and I can't believe our eyes when we see that same girl as a baby, then toddler, and so on. We ask ourselves if we appreciated the moments as much as we could, and then use those discussions to guide us day by day.
 
   Now don't let me get all sappy on 'ya. Just today, we were out front working on projects, and our Wee Lass was getting antsy in the Pack-n-Play. I slapped her little shoes on and took her for a walk, because I'm a great dad. Yeah,.....not so much. I was back up the driveway and placed her right back in her prison within minutes. In no time at all, she had gone after rabbit poo, chewed gum, a dead beetle, and a sand based trail with her little hands.
 
   I realize that while I AM walking with angels, I'm bound to "step in it" every once in a while. Keep both in mind, and expectations will remain high, but not too lofty that it comes crashing down on you. Enjoy the moments as best you can. I'm still just in the beginning, and I can already see it flying by. We all need to try to slow it down once in a while, as in not time, they'll be off to run into the street or something that'll give you another heart attack.
 
J. 


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Friday Flush #7

The Friday Flush #7

   Welcome to The Friday Flush #7. It's been another whirlwind of a week, with a LOT going on. It seems like with social media and our connected lives that there is no shortage of goings-on out there to check out, show interest, and move on from. Hence, The Friday Flush. Here in #7 of The Flush we look at an amazing DYI project, explore real and digital space, and view the past through old mugshots. 

DIY Camping Trailer
While I'm not all that handy with projects that require metric precision, I do enjoy trying new things. Again, my precision with measurements and cutting leave much to be desired, but I try new art projects and hope to one day be more skilled in DIY attempts. Case in point, the DIY camping tailer I saw on Imgur. This guy spend some 2-3 months putting together his own mini camping trailer and put many of us aspiring DIY hopefuls to shame. It's both humbling and motivating at the same time. Well worth the few minutes to view the steps, read the comments under each photo and be inspired to do more. I'm already planning my first project. The Wife asked about a DIY shed for the backyard. My prediction is that it'll look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Box
Combining media elements is something that I'd like to do more of. I came across the video Box on YouTube that blew my mind and eyes. The project "explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on moving surfaces." Uh, yeah,...does it ever! The description states that it is "the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping, and software engineering." I didn't know what to expect at first, then was dazzled. Again, not knowing exactly what you're about to see, it's hard to determine what's real and what's digital. The combines so many aspects of what interests me. Animation, technology, creativity, and so on. I can't imagine how long it takes to put something like this together, but I can say, it's well worth it. Hats off to the crew who pulled this off.

Vintage Mug Shots
I enjoy history just as much as the next person. What fascinates me the most are the people. I enjoy ancestry, genealogy, and everything in between. I like to know where we came from and who those people were. An amusing portion of that are some of the early mugshots I came across. Posted on TwistedSifter.com with a quick description, the photos were originally posted by The Sydney Justice & Police Museum. They're funny, mesmerizing, and thought provoking all at the same time. After a quick search, I also found an article on the UK's Daily Mail that has some mug shots of my English forefathers busted for drinking around 1904. Have fun, as I keep going back to them for some reason. Maybe it's because I get lost in thought, wondering who they were, what they were like, and such. Look at how they dressed. What did they do to work, live, etc.? It's all fascinating to me. Or at least a fun way to pass a few some time.

   Thus ends The Friday Flush #7. Somehow we made it through and hopefully came out of it better people. We've been inspired to try new projects, had out minds scrambled through visuals, and viewed some mugshots who just might have been one of your ancestors (you never know). Now hold your breath until next weeks Flush. Last one gets a coupon for a free Frosty at Wendy's.

J.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


Reviews of The Wife's post on my Tartar mix up:

"Bahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!" - C.D.
                       "Ahhhhhhhh ha ha ha ha!" - B.K.
       "HAHAHHAHA.........." - M.B.      
                                                                 "I'm still LOL!!!!!!!!!!" - G.V. 
                 "LMAO" - C.S.

   Okay, so here's my version. The Wife makes some amazing baked goods. Her holiday treats are truly like "eating Christmas". So when I'm asked to make a run to the market, at any hour, that may result in becoming a recipient of such baked goods, I'm all in. I try to keep up on what's used in the kitchen, and I've been included in enough excursions that I feel like I know my way around a grocery store. All of that experience amounted to precisely nothing recently, when I was asked to head over to our local grocer and pick up some Cream of Tartar for one of The Wife's latest baked creation. 

   I headed over and started to walk the isles I thought would be most likely to carry the one item I was there for. I spotted one of my favorite clerks, and asked him inquisitively, "Where might I find the Tartar Sauce?" He nodded and took me over to the sauce isle and showed me that while the store brand was out of stock, he had good news. There was a refrigerated version that was bigger, cheaper, and of a higher quality. With great pride in my find, I thanked him, made my purchase, and headed home. I lovingly placed it in our fridge at home and went about my business. The evening of the baking event, I heard The Wife's voice come from behind the refrigerator door, saying, "Awe, my mom left her ranch in here,......wait.....what's this?" I told her it was the Tartar Sauce she had tasked me with purchasing, beaming with pride as I informed her it was even BETTER than the generic crap I might have bought had I not consulted my network of grocery insiders.
 
   There was a pause, and then her look of question turned slowly to a look of pity. I heard a soft , yet audible, "Awwweeee." I asked what was the matter and she quietly said, "I asked for Cream of Tartar, .........this is Tartar Sauce." I sat at the couch blankly. "................so?", I replied. I was informed that they were two different things, and felt the heat on my neck building. No man enjoys being wrong, and I'm no different. She chose another treat for the evening to make and life, somehow went on.

   The event was immortalized in a FB post about sending hubby to the store and I was first angry, then hurt, then as the comments rolled in realized that I'm not alone. I'll never be alone. As long as there is a husband out there willing to head out at any hour to assist in the creation of baked bliss, I shall never find myself alone when confidently grabbing the completely wrong item off the shelf. Gentlemen, we must unite and be proud of our incorrect purchases. Women,......we have a short list of some things we'd like you to pick up from the hardware store. (wink!)

J. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Lawnmower Killer - Local Legends & Scary Stories


“What can be done when you’re eleven can often never be done again.” ― Stephen King, It 

   I been recently seeing a call for scary stories from different sites and forums as we head into the part of October. With Halloween right around the corner, one caught my eye calling for scary local legends or stories that were "supposedly true". I read a few here and there and several of them were true, while the balance were straight nonsense meant to scare the pants of the unsuspecting. It got me to thinking about one I heard as a kid. Here's my tale, to be read late at night, with the lights turned off.

The Lawnmower Killer
 
   Where I grew up, our elementary school was newer, and backed a creek that had everything a young mind could want. Fresh ponds to catch tadpoles in. Crayfish crawling up the cement drain that was always pouring water coming down from the surrounding hills. The banks of the creek had just enough room for young feet to explore the dim foliage darkened by the large thick tree covering above.  I had never ventured very far into the small gorge, as there was a legend told. The older kids would whisper of a terrible tale that took place in toward the back of the small creek, deep past the twists and turns of the trickling waters. It was said that some time before us, a boy was murdered somewhere along the waters edge, back beyond the sight of the public eye, by the "lawnmower killer". Aside from the legend was the famed proof. Eye witnesses said there was both the weapon AND the boy's shoe embedded in the banks of the creek, for all to see, with blood still dripping from the shoe. We were told if you dared to walk far enough back, you would see a lawnmower missing a blade, and the shoe of the fallen boy.
   Imaginations ran wild and the younger of us reeled at the thought of an unsafe corner our little world on school grounds might hold. While none of us wanted to believe it, the dares began to surface. The brave were called out and proven to be cowards. The silent ones were challenged to rise to the occasion and become legends. A friend and I were terrified, but decided one day that we would make a pact and prove once and for all if the rumors were true. Within a day or two, we arranged to play after school and found ourselves at the mouth of the mini canyon. After a brief pause we began to hike back into the overgrowth. It began to feel like the canopy of the Amazon, and after a few bends of the creek, we both stopped. There, across the shallow waters, was the proof we had been hearing about for weeks. Poking halfway out of the dirt embankment was a push lawnmower,.....with a blade missing. We stared for what seemed like an hour. One of us whispered about the shoe, and our eyes scanned the rest of the small shores. About fifteen yards further up was the shoe. Half buried in the side of the eroding hill. Just below the shoe was a rusty red stream, slowly making its way down the dirt toward the water's edge. We were horrified, for a few minutes. Then we slowly convinced ourselves the "blood" was just reddish colored mud, the shoe was just trash, and so was the lawnmower. We made our way back to the edge of the field that hugged the creek's opening. That was the last time we went that far back into that creek, and the last time we ever talked about the lawnmower killer.
 
Happy Halloween.
 
J. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I See The World Through Parental Eyes


"The one thing about being a parent is the ability to be selfless:
To give up the things you want and need for the benefit of someone else."
- Danny McBride

   I always thought I was a selfless person. I looked out for the underdog, included the left out kid, and so on. Once I was married, it became painfully apparent that I was anything but selfless. The Wife and I didn't start having children until the 7th year of marriage, giving me plenty of time to work on becoming more selfless (and yes, I was working on it that ENTIRE time). Once we had our first, the slow shift took place to where I was needing to put others first as a rule. Now that we're at three little ones, what we want as parents is irrelevant,.....period. 

   The above image is of a small amount of convention swag that I picked up recently. As I performed my day to day, shaking hands and kissing babies, I noticed something. I was peering around, wondering what kind of gear my kids might like. Squishy characters? Done. Cool looking pens? Got it. LED keyring flashlights? Grab two!!! I found that I became more excited about getting home by the minute and was jumping out of my skin as I drove up to the house. It was mildly ceremonious, as I had them sit on the bench by our shoe basket. I pulled out each pair of new treat one by one. They were as excited as I was, and it felt like a mission accomplished. 

   I remember how exciting it was to get some sort of treat or toy from my father when he came back from a trip or convention. It was new and exciting, but most of all, I remember it made me feel good to know he was thinking about me. I play up how much I think of them during the day. They know that I miss them, think of them, speak of them, and so on. Where I used to just think of myself during the daily routine, I now see the world through parental eyes. I don't know when and if that will change, but as the quote at the top says, I find great pride in "giving up things I want and need for the benefit of someone else". Especially the ones that make me feel like a rock star when I walk through the front door. 

J.