Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Evenings In The Front Yard With My Kids

“...dusk is the time when men whisper of matters about which
they remain silent in the full light of the sun.” ― Simon Raven

   There's something about the fading light of the day that captivates me. I get locked into sunsets for their changing color. I love the hues that the waining light casts on my neighborhood. I enjoy the lights that flicker on my 'Lil Miss's scooter as she rides by. Until the last of the light has gone, and it is simply too dark for the children to be safe, I hang on to each ray until the end. 

   Sure, I'm a sucker for it. Blame it on the art degree. Or blame it on the fact that it's just that gorgeous. I feel more inspired at that time, more thoughtful and contemplative. Include a short walk in that, and were talking about idea time. My children play until the street lights turn on. A lot of us did that growing up with little to no supervision. Though we approach things a bit differently these days, I feel grateful that I get to hear my children yell, "Awe, dad!!! The street light's not on yet!" 

   I'm happy they're getting exercise, playing with neighborhood kids, learning to ride bikes and scooters. Don't get me wrong, they can fling an angry bird just as good as the next kid. We have, however, tried to find the balance. If I can find some peace in that fading light as well,...then bonus. 


Monday, February 25, 2013

Children's Toys - Landmines for Parents

"Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it." - John Steinbeck
   We buy the landmines that take out a foot every other day. Then we curse the child that left it out. I saw a post that said, "Stepping on Legos is painful but these little guys are at a whole different level." The image that accompanied it is here. I felt compelled to answer with the top 5 offending toys in our home that cause podiatry pain.

The Cheeky Daddy's Top 5 Foot Offenders

1. Toy Train Parts - The sign says stop, yet we do not heed its message. It's our own fault really.

2. The Wooden Block - Many a parent has fallen by the wayside to the childhood punji stick. A moment of silence for our fallen comrades.

3. The Plastic Themed Character - No lie, my 3YO nearly passed out from the pain from falling onto one of these. I won't say which Marvel character was to blame, but let's say it was a mighty and thunderous cry that followed.

4. The Die Cast Car - Matchbox and Hot Wheels have a lot to answer for. Die Cast metal might as well be Kryptonite to us mothers and fathers, for they bring even the biggest of our kind down.

5. The Toy Soldier - Soldier to soldier, this has to be the first our current time. Using modern combat techniques, our children have taken the plastic toy soldier and put them to use in the theatre of unconventional urban home warfare. Battle has never been the same since.

And so the battle rages on. With no winners, and no.....well, there's certainly some losers. Which side will you be on?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Creative Resumes

“Creativity takes courage. ” - Henri Matisse

   Dunno if any of you saw the recent buzz about the MBA who put his resume on the chocolate bar. It was originally posted on Reddit. It was then picked up and posted on ABC News, filling in the gaps. It was fun to see someone thinking creatively, but also taking a chance. This guy showed some courage in leaving the standard resume format. That being said, it certainly depends on the industry you're going for. I mean, I don't see a person labeling the four chambers of a replica heart with their accomplishments and handing it in to a potential employer with the note "I'll give this job my heart and soul." 
   For most professional jobs, the standard resume applies. However, I was once an artist by trade, and I put out a resume that was,....less than standard. It was a stab a being creative, different, and outside the box. I cringe at it now, but at the time I was a revolutionary. Oh, and my boss told me that while there were about a dozen resumes in one pile, mine was all by itself in another, just before I was hired. 

For your viewing pleasure:

Have any of you ever stepped out of your comfort zone in the same way? 


Friday, February 22, 2013

Oreo Pops

Oreos: First you twist it, then,...ohhhh, you broke it. 

   So The Wife is currently cranking out these amazing Oreo pops. She sells them by the dozen over at her Etsy Shop. She's gotten good at themes, holidays, special occasions, etc. She's also created the double-dipped caramel/white chocolate ones (top right). They are the best. Simply divine. 

   I usually help with the first part, in preparing the cookies, sticks, etc. She does all the fancy decorating. What we've found is that it's been a wonderful outlet for her creatively. As a creative myself, it's fun to watch. The residual effect is that we spend a lot of time together after the kids are down making these. We talk, joke, listen to music, and the like. At times it feels like we don't have children for a few hours and we're the pre-children us again. We catch up on hopes and dreams. We discuss fears and goals. It's really been nice. 

   We've also dabbled in furniture restoration, with the same social side effect. I think it's important to note that finding similar hobbies or side projects can result in strengthening relationships, even if you don't mean to. So wife's give it a try, and maybe don't tell him the possible side effects. Husbands, give it a try and be glad of the side effects. 


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rock Climbing - A Family Affair?

"Those who say it can't be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it." — Unknown

   One of the best parts of my teen years was my love for rock climbing. It started one summer at scout camp, and then blossomed when my father indulged as he was interested too. We hit Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and others. It was such a blast and I have such great memories of it. I didn't climb as much once my little ones came along. Time and safety became deterrents. But these next pics prove that I've tried to bring it back by including my family. 

   The Wife has expressed a desire to try it out and I KNOW my children would love to give it a go. Luckily my father has plenty of gear to spare a bit for us if we get serious. In the mean time, the best place to get started is a climbing gym. Average price is $10 per day per person. If a movie is that much for 2 hours, and Disneyland is $100 for the day, I'll take an indoor climbing gym as an alternative any day. Most gyms will rent you shoes and a harness too, as well as show you some pointers. There will be classes, specials and such. All you have to do it google "rock climbing gym" around your area and you'll find one. I have one within 3 miles and never knew it for the past 2 years!

   So look one up, pay a visit, and give it a try. I think this is an activity that my family will enjoy doing together. See you at the top!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pumpkin Chili - A Rainy Day Dish

"Are you crazy! You fed a baby chili?!" - Mr. Mom
   The Wife and I are always looking for quick, easy, yummy, and relatively healthy meals to cook at home. The Wife found this recipe and we've fallen in love with. It's especially tasty during the colder months. We've tried minor variations to see how we can improve or change it to our liking, but with the original recipe, one can never go wrong. It's got so many flavors, colors, and textures that I'll take it any day of the week. It re-heats well and can either add to you children's favorites, or be used as punishment if they don't eat their own dinner (your choice parents!).
The Cheeky Daddy presents - Pumpkin Chili

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped peppers
Pkg of lean ground turkey/beef
1 can lite coconut
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can pure pumpkin
1-2 can strained kidney beans

Heat 1 tbs oil, sauté onions and peppers
Add meat and cook until no longer pink. Drain excess oil.
Add canned goods, stir in well
Add 2+ tbs of chili powder
Add 2+ tbs curry powder
Add optional pumpkin spice
1 tsp ground pepper
Dash of salt
Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Serve in bowls and add cheese and dollop of sour cream if desired.
Enjoy and let me know if any of you get around to trying it out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Flight of the Conchords

   "You know when I'm down to just my socks that it's business time." 
Business Time, Flight of the Conchords

   My brother introduced me to the Flight of the Conchords guys a while ago. I laughed my butt off. Once you've checked this one out, take a look at some of the others related to them. They're hoot, and did a show on HBO.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Grandparents

"A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart." - Author Unknown

   It saddens me to say goodbye to my grandfather today. Words help to describe emotion that I feel towards a man I've known for 37 years. I will miss his bright voice, excited to see or hear from all his family. I will miss the way he held my arm, just above the elbow as he spoke to me face to face. I will miss how he always, without fail, asked how my "sweetheart" and our little ones were doing. 

   This is a man I've modeled my life after. From serving his country during WWII, to loving his wife and two daughters for a lifetime. His career of "if you have a great product and excellent customer service" lasted into his eighties has served me well. He had a great sense of humor, LOVED Louis L'Amour books, and told me he always kept a few coins in his pocket, because he "like to have a little something jingling in his pocket." He was always a gentleman, kept a large tin of pure silver dollars tucked away in his closet for a "rainy day", and forgave me for writing my name in his freshly poured sidewalk when I was young.

   My last conversation with him was about three weeks ago. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with him. He asked how my sweetheart was, and how the children were doing. He asked about my successes at work and how were liking our neighborhood. He told me how much he missed his sweet bride, and longed to be with her. He told me three times how glad he was that I called, told me he loved me, and that we'd talk again soon. It was the best conversation to remember him by.

   He loved his sweetheart SO much, that he passed on within 5 months of her, on Valentine's Day. He wanted to be with her so much, yet marveled at her funeral that his life and marriage resulted in 2 children, 12 grandchildren, and 35 great grandchildren. He was so very proud of each of them, that we all felt loved. I could go on forever....

We love you grandma and grandpa. I'm honored to be your grandson. 


Valentine's Day - 2013

"Where there is love there is life." - Mahatma Gandhi

   After reviewing a basic history of Valentine's Day, and pondering the above quote, I have a great life. I've spent the past 15 years experiencing life with the one I love. I've spent the past 7 years growing that love with the children we've been blessed with. I believe I'm very fortunate and try to remember that both during the fun loving times, and the tough ones during bedtimes, etc.

   While the commercial side to Valentine's Day (Christmas, St. Patrick's, Groundhog, etc.) are always fun, let us try to remember the every day stuff. I've wandered the eStreets of other blogs and sites that all point to significant other's wanting more than that one special day. Let this day be one of a quick highlight, or summary of a lifetime of appreciation. My grandparents exemplified this in their marriage of 70 years, in that they lived every day like it was Valentine's Day. That's what I'm needing to replicate in my own life.

   So load up the cards, chocolate, flowers, and dinner reservations.Then spend the next 364 making your wife (or hubby) feel like their special, loved, appreciated, needed, and so on. It'll make next year's Valentine's Day and actual holiday to celebrate, not make up for a year of "I'll get to it."

   Happy Valentine's Day.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Children and Emotions

"Both a little scared,
     Neither one prepared,
       Beauty and the Beast."
  - Beauty and the Beast

     So the other night, The Wife comes downstairs and gets a smile on her face. She tells me that she's putting our 'Lil Miss to bed, who is finishing a Disney Beauty and the Beast book. She's on one page in particular and The Wife goes over to sit on the bed. 

'Lil Miss says, "This is my favorite part." (pictured above). 
The Wife asked, "Why is it your favorite?"
'Lil Miss goes red, pauses with an embarrassed grin, and quietly says, "Because it's,.........romantic."

   The Wife doesn't want her to be embarrassed, so she simply agrees that "yeah, it IS romantic." In that time, we see the beginnings of those emotions. We've noticed the slight change over the past year or two, and keep an eye out. It's mostly so we can be there for her as she navigates life. We want to be there if she has questions or is confused. We understand she'll be exposed to different things, and it's our job to help steer her. Given the television content we've seen aimed at tweens, I'm terrified that she'll believe our current media's notion that all teenage girls sleep around. 
   So it continues to be our diligent job to teach, encourage, and be there for our children. Enjoy their innocence while it lasts. For the time will come when life isn't just a fairytale, and everything problem isn't solved with true loves kiss. If only. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Helping With Homework

"All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." - The Shining

   The above quote is EXACTLY what I thought when my 'Lil Miss's teacher showed me her daily journal upon a quick visit one day. My first thought was Jack's work from The Shining. Once past my fear of my 7YO chasing me through the hotel maze with an axe, it made me giggle. Then it made me stare and wonder why she was writing at a descending angle. I was told of some things I could work on with my 'Lil Miss at home, for writing, letters, math, etc. 
   We've recently been working on word spacing and some correct letter shapes. For awhile I thought she'd created her own Elvish language that I wasn't privy too. Alas, no language that floats on the air. Just a lot of reinforcement work at home. 
   My new panic is the for the years to come. How will I handle the periodic table again? Kids are now doing Algebra much sooner than I did. How am I supposed to help with something I wasn't that good at? I'm thinking it'll land somewhere between mom, tutors, my 'Lil Miss's genius mind, and me relearning everything as she does just to help her. 
   I think the key is trying to be a part of it all. I help out once in a blue moon in my 'Lil Miss's classroom. In helping to grade, or test spelling, it's clear that there's a Bell curve. Some kids are quicker and some are slower. It's the kids that are slower for no reason but apathy in the home that bothers me. Some kids should be doing great, but then you see them look at the teacher at open house like "should I care?" Oh, brother. So keep on helping out, even when you're tired, hungry, fed up, and the other kids won't let you get anything done. Help your children with homework. The habit will pay in dividends we can and cannot comprehend. 


Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Day In Pictures

"A picture says a thousand words" 
Okay, so here's 11,000. 













Another successful day. 


Friday, February 8, 2013

Taking Your Child To The Dentist

“Without fear there cannot be courage.” - Christopher Paolini
   So this week was our 'Lil Miss's first trip to the "grown-up" dentist. Gone are the days of fuzzy bunnies painted on walls, SpongeBob on the t.v. and a mass of toys in the waiting room. I took our 'Lil Man for the experience and the initial few minutes waiting were immediately boring for them both. They got some crayons and paper from the receptionist, which staved off the impending revolution for a while. Then the tech took my little girl back for x-rays. I was told I could not go with her and I saw the fear in my little one's eyes. I gave her some words for encouragement and she was off. Through the glass door, all I could see were her pink glitter shoes, bouncing while she sat in the chair. She came out quite chipper and I assumed it was all downhill from there.
   When she was called back to the exam chair, she took one look at the lineup of drills and suction devices, and looked up at me with a face that said "F&%! THIS!" Pardon the inference, but that's EXACTLY what I was in her face. I asked the tech and doctor for some patience, and they gave it in large amounts. By the end she was a pro, and was eager to hit the prize box. The also gave both kids a party pack of toothbrush/past, floss, and a toy. They wanted to know when they could come back!
   Just like the quote above says, without fear there cannot be courage. Our 'Lil Miss has opportunities everyday to be afraid and let it control her. Sometimes it wins, and sometimes she kicks fear's butt. The dentist was proof. I don't think it can all be done by a child on their own. They learn some or most of it from us. They see if we're afraid of the public, trying new things, etc. I was such a wallflower growing up, that I'm actively trying to teach my kids they should care what others think. Sometimes I think it works, and other times I realized they're looking at me dancing in the middle of a Target like I'm an idiot just like everyone else. Who cares...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guy Stuff - Ultra-Ever Dry

"I don't want to grow up, 'cuz maybe if I did, I wouldn't be a Toys-R-Us Kid" Toys-R-Us Ad
   I happened upon this product while surfing the net. I was blown away. The person who posted where I saw it first said, "I'd spray this on everything." By the look of the demo video, they almost have. Imaging anything that's made a mess on anything you've ever owned. Paint in a bucket, mud on your shoes, motor oil on your work gloves, etc. This stuff is a superhydrophobic and oleophobic coating using nano technology (whatever the hell THAT means). The stuff is made by UltraTech, and the site even explains the terminology.

   Take a look at the video and tell me you would want to spray your kids with this stuff. Imagine, no more cleanup. Picture the spaghetti just falling off your kid with no mess. Picture finger painting with no mess everywhere. I'm sold, that's for sure. This has limitless possibilities, and I've already got a short list for my home. It's industrial function is clear, but this is just as cool as any tech gadget that I'd put on a wish list.

   What would you put it on?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Saturday Animation Project

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney

Me and my 'Lil Miss did this in between stuff today for a Saturday project. 
I've had the song, and the general idea for the film in my head for year. 
Here's to taking a chance on something that I'd been talking about doing, and never did. 
Hope you dig it. 

Music "We're Going To Be Friends", by The White Stripes


Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII

"In life, as in football, you won't go far
unless you know where the goalposts are." - Arnold H. Glasow
   So, our family doesn't have cable at the moment. In our move to a new home almost 2 years ago, we whittled it down to Netflix and Hulu. We've been mostly pleased with our decision. That is, until football season. I've missed 2 seasons of fast past, bone crunching, team supporting fun. In an effort to get the game on, I ended up streaming from my laptop to the flat screen. The results were AWESOME! I got to see the whole game, no interruptions, and OH, what a game it was!
   I was born in San Francisco, and have been a lifelong 49ers fan. To mirror yesterday's game, any team I was on growing up seemed to always start off behind. Football, volleyball, and soccer alike, we were always behind. Yesterday's Superbowl headed into halftime with my thoughts leaning to the giving up end of the spectrum. Coming out of halftime, there was the record setting 109 yard return by the Ravens. I was resigned, but then the power went out. One of the announcers said if he were coach to either team he'd tell the Raven's not to start celebrating, and the 49ers not to give up yet. The 9ers had an amazing comeback that was SO CLOSE to ending with a win. It was a great game and I felt my hometown team left it all on the field.
   I want my life to be won that way. Never giving up and conceding the loss. I want to "leave it all on the field" when it comes to work, kids, wife, etc. There are comparisons-a-plenty when it comes to the great game of football. Having played in high school, I relive it all the time. I even dream about it  from time to time. Play hard y'all. Leave it all on the field. Good luck.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Being A Daddy - Things I'll Remember

“To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.” - Bill Wilson
   The above image is of my Wee Lass grabbing a handful of my beard. I'm sure it's one part tactile and one part vertical support, and I don't mind in the least. There are so many aspects of being a daddy that I love, but the little hands are one of my favorite.
   My 'Lil Man stills sits next to me on the couch and strokes the back of my neck with his hands, feeling the bristle of the shorter hair after a haircut. It must be soothing. My Wee Lass LOVES to feel and grab my beard. My 'Lil Miss loves to have the palm of her hand stroked by my fingers.
   The stroking of my hand with my father's finger is the limited amount of contact I had with him as a youngster. It seems so important, more so than we sometimes know. A buddy of mine once told me that his mother wasn't much of a hugger his whole life. He's admitted to feeling odd showing physical affection to his own children, and it bothers him. I think we can all do better.
   So hug, hold hands, run fingers through hair, wiggle toes, etc. with your kids. The contact is needed, trust me. Besides, it makes a bad day good, a good day better, and will pay off in the end.