Monday, April 29, 2013

Cheeky Giveaway: ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS toys and games by Hasbro! #MayThe4thBeWithYou


   Who remembers their first Star Wars moment? I recall certain memories. There was the newspaper article when Return of the Jedi had people camping out for the theatrical release. I remember my dad's incredibly bad pirated copy of the same film. Along with some of the obvious toys, like the Tie-Fighter, Ewok village, etc., there were the trading cards that didn't survive in our home all that long.

   Speaking of Star Wars swag,...anyone here play Angry Birds? The good folks at Hasbro have asked a select few Jedi,...I mean dads, to help hand out some great new toys from the Angry Birds Star Wars line to ring in Star Wars Day (May the 4th). Follow it all on Twitter at #MayThe4thBeWithYou. Enter below and one lucky Padawon,....I mean reader, will receive at random, either the ANGRY BIRDS™ STAR WARS® AT-AT™ ATTACK BATTLE GAME or ANGRY BIRDS™ STAR WARS® MILLENNIUM FALCON™ BOUNCE GAME. Here are the details about each awesome game, along with the new FOAM FLYERS below!

ANGRY BIRDSTM STAR WARS® AT-ATTM ATTACK BATTLE GAME
(Approximate retail price: $39.99; Ages: 5 & up. Available: Now) 
Stack, launch, and destroy with the AT-AT ATTACK BATTLE GAME, which includes 21 blocks to create the signature AT-AT, a LIGHTSABER LAUNCHER and 12 ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS figures — including two that are exclusive to this set! Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS in-app content with a special code in each pack.


ANGRY BIRDSTM STAR WARS® MILLENNIUM FALCONTM BOUNCE GAME (Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 8 & up; Players: 1-2; Available: Now) 
Bounce into action with the new ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS MILLENNIUM FALCON BOUNCE GAME. Bounce three balls at the MILLENNIUM FALCON to knock down as many enemy pigs as possible, and land in the cockpit to score big! Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS in-app content with a special code in each pack.


ANGRY BIRDSTM STAR WARS® FOAM FLYERS
(Approximate retail price: $9.99; Ages: 5 & up. Available: Now)
Toss around these 3.5-inch soft foam, iconic characters for a new way to play ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS! Available in LUKE SKYWALKER, CHEWBACCA, DARTH VADER and STORMTROOPER. Each sold separately.




HOW TO ENTER

Follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter Widget below. START by leaving a comment with including your favorite Star Wars character (I'll be checking, so do not think you can fool the Jedi Master). Follow instructions for additional entries....and may the fourth be with you. 





The Details: Promotion open to U.S. residents ages 18+, void where prohibited. Winner will be chosen at random on, about, or after May 3, 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 Hunter PR. Not responsible for lost or misdirected mail. Many will enter, One will win. 

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. 

Making New Neighborhood Friends

 
 
"The only way to have a friend is to be one." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
   We're out front a lot, doing all the things that go with it. The kids play, ride, dig, and so on, while I work on stuff in the garage. It's really only been in the last two or so years, as the previous two places we lived have been at the bottom of a hill the made it feel like we lived along the Indy 500. Thus we've been very grateful to not only have a wonderful street that we live on now, but we also have a lot of children in the neighborhood that come out to play also.
   So the story goes that I'm in the garage doing stuff, ...manly stuff, like hammering and cutting wood, etc. I hear the typical yelling and screaming that accompanies child play, and think nothing of it. Then my ear picks up what sounds like our little group shouting to another. I wander out and my 'Lil Miss is shouting across the street to no one, "You with the swing set! Hello!!!" I smile and dismiss it, as I've heard children playing in that backyard before. We've even waved at them when they're up in the clubhouse looking over the fence. After going about my "manly" garage business, my interest in the result the shouting makes me wander back out. I see what is in the above photo taking place.
   At first I want to bark, like an old man, to get down. Then I remember what The Wife has reminded me lately. That I was young once too, and used to climb WAY more than a simple fence and small tree (that's the confession post that will never be written). It was adorable to see our little crew meeting a new one. They said hi, made introductions, and then the new friends were up the tree and back over the fence. I then encouraged my 'Lil Miss to come on down so there were no injuries. She had a smile and skip to her step as she and her brother and friend ran off. You could see the excitement of a new friend and that fact that they were boys that were,...well...nice.
   It took me back to my childhood, when making friends was easy. There was less about specific interest and even less opinions that were already formed. There was just the desire to play, have fun, and dream up the next adventure. I think that's half the reason we get out as much as we can. The playing with and making of new friends. I'm seeing my little ones learning the essentials of social life. They're learning to take turns, share, get up after falling down, and so on. They're recently taken up hunting for caterpillars and butterflies in the past week or so. It's fun to watch and fun to remember. Do you have any fun neighborhood stories?

J.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Child Just Used The Word Popular

"Avoid popularity if you would have peace." - Abraham Lincoln

   In the last 24 hours, both The Wife and I have heard our 'Lil Miss use the word "popular" for the first time. We know that she's 7, and innocence cannot last forever, but this felt like the first step in that direction. I'm aware that this is the tip of the giant iceberg of lost innocence. I thought it relevant to discuss this one specifically. 
   Until now, my 'Lil Miss has been quite happy with playing with whomever was interested in joining her. In the neighborhood and the park, it never mattered if you were a boy or girl, black or white, tall or short, or so on. Play was play, for playing sake. I only really saw a problem after her play friends had to leave or go back inside for dinner. It's an innocence to the parts of society that The Wife and I hoped would last forever, but could never do so. We all face the social aspect of our society, and we all grow up through those experiences. Is it bad that I have anxiety about my children facing it?
   My 'Lil Miss, who's only worry has been "Will there be someone to play with?", is now worrying if she's popular enough to be played with. The Wife took her to school a few days back and said go play with so-n-so on the playground. 'Lil Miss replied with a slightly sad voice, "She usually already has someone to play with because she's so popular." This is NOT a phrase I wanted to hear this early. It feels like we've come so far with how we treat each other as people, yet have so far to go. There's so much that is out of our control as parents. I can teach my child to include others, share, be nice, and so on. Yet I send her to school and she comes home with new phrases, tattling, back talk, and so forth. It's enough to want to home school.
   Yet, it's a rite of passage. The only way to build callouses is to go through the initial hard work discomfort and pain. It's just that sometimes I'm not a fan of the result of this process. I've known a few individuals that are not as pleasant to be around as adults compared to how they were as youth. The world is a difficult place to live. I don't want to overprotect, as that would not prepare my children for life. I also don't want them to be overexposed, as that can harden a person to the point of cynicism and such. We as parents in our home try to keep communication lines open, and stay involved with the lives of our little ones. It's all I can do for now.
   What are your thoughts about the bridges our children cross? How do you deal with it?

J. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Self Improvement

(The Cheeky Daddy in Heartbeat Magazine)

“Make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

   I recently had a story published in the Heartbeat Connection Magazine, an eMagazine started by Nicole Flothe that highlights lifestyle and art. I met Nicole through the Internet and have enjoyed what she's done with HeartBeatMag.com. The story I submitted was about my first art professor, who happened to be my final art professor at graduation. Somewhere in the middle of my degree, he'd grimaced at a piece I'd finished and asked, "When are you going to get pissed off enough to just get better?" 

   Ouch, right? No doubt. The pain didn't last, though. Long before that, my father had taught me to accept constructive criticism as best I could in order to get better in art and other areas in life as well. Though my father's had a hard time following his own advice, it was good advice. Since my professor's comment back in '03, my wounds have healed and his words have given me a boost in several areas of life. As I think about all the different methods to improve one's self, it all starts with the desire to make change. Some people can set a goal and start after it with ease. Others will make a goal, just to watch is wither on the vine. I'm somewhere in between.

   While I want to make myself a better father, husband, and guy, sometimes it can be easier to just plop down on the couch and flip channels. I've gotten better with time (yes,...I'm like a fine wine). These days I can set a goal and incrementally head in that direction. That takes a decision to head in that direction though, and after a day or evening with three kids, it can be tough. While not at every turn, I do reflect on my old professor's words from time to time.  A project or life goal will take root in my head and I might kick the can down the road a bit. I'll hear, "When are you going to get pissed off enough to just get better?", and find myself on the road to self improvement. Since I'm there, care to join me?

(don't I just LOOK goal oriented?)


Don't forget to check out the full story at Heartbeat Connection Magazine, and the Heartbeat blog.  

J.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Favorite Disneyland Rides

(photo courtesy of Daveland)

"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway." - Walt Disney

   The kids were watching Disney's "Alice In Wonderland" and my 'Lil Miss mentioned how much she liked the ride at Disneyland. Now, I know that the price of admission to one of these themed parks has become a decision between your children's college education and a family trip, but this is a post about the rides we loved. We'll do a Disneyland cost/fun analysis another time.

   I first went to Disneyland when I was around 8. That was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1983. I don't remember the lines being bad, so either they weren't as bad, or it was just too darned magical to care. I got my first couple of pins, was blown away by Peter Pan's Flight, and remember seeing my first lesbian couple kiss (older couple, weirded me out). It truly was a magical time. Our family hit Disneyworld once a few years after, but that was headed into my parents divorce, so not as good of a time.

   Since then, The Wife and I were married and headed to the Magic Kingdom with siblings, nieces and nephews. We were the catch all for helping out, making things that much more fun, and having a blast ourselves. As our family started and grew, we shared the magic with our little ones. Our favorite rides changed with the times. They were the fast Space Mountain and California Screamin'. These days it's more Casey Jr. and It's A Small World. My favorite will always be Peter Pan's Ride. There are some GREAT pics of the ride on Daveland's blog. The kid's favorites vary from each trip, and when you ask them.

(me and dad, Great America in CA, 1983)
 


   We all crave the thrill of the ride. Whether you're a speed demon, or look for a 3-5 minute escape from reality, theme park rides have always delivered. My favorites have always been at Disneyland, but I'm wondering what favorites you might have. Drop a comment and let me know, what's your favorite theme park ride?
 
J. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

3 Ways To Convert Thought To Action

 
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done." - Bruce Lee
 
   We all have a time in the day that is our "thinking" time. Driving, the shower, after the kids are in bed, etc. It's a time that we catalog thoughts and work through problems, situations, decisions and so on. Mine happens to be the 3-5 times a week that I commute for work. Whether it's to or from, I quite often find myself lost in thought about a number of things. I also quite often find myself missing interchanges or turn offs while lost in thought, but that's just operator error.
 
   One of the topics that comes up quite often is my flock. The time on the road gives me opportunity to reflect on my family. I work the children's dynamic as siblings, our level of discipline, the friends they are making, etc. If I'm on a long haul, there is so much contemplation around my children that I feel like I should take notes. I sometimes get the opportunity to call The Wife while in transit, so that we might discuss those thoughts in real time.  One of my biggest challenges is how to convert thought to action. It's great to ponder how I could have done better the night before. It's another to actually change my behavior when I see my family next.
 
   So here are my 3 ways to convert thought to action:
 
1. Ask yourself if you want to change. I know talking to yourself sound cuckoo, but we all do it, where you admit it or not. Consider, truthfully, if you want to actually make the changes that you are contemplating about during your "thought" time.
2. Tell someone else. If it's a spouse, significant other, trusted friend, and so on, you should consider telling someone else. They can be a sounding board to work things through. They can also be a good reminder that will hold you to your commitment to enact change.
3. Hold yourself accountable. I've seen to many cases where shoulders are shrugged and a goal is shelved to collect dust. You are the end of the line when it comes to making thought a reality. If we can't make changes ourselves, there is no one that will do if for us.
 
   I'm actively working on a better relationship with my children. As my 'Lil Miss is on the doorstep of becoming a young woman, I'm trying to lay the groundwork now for open communication. With my 'Lil Man being a mere 3 years old, I'm trying to get good communication started, period. I challenge you to consider the above. Find a way to convert thought to action, however that works for you.
 
I leave you with a tune by Flight of the Conchords, Issues (Think About It)

  

 
J. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shopping With Wee Lass - Video


The family headed out to do some shopping, Wee Lass in tow,
and I spent my time on this video while The Wife did most of the work.
I hope you get a kick out of it. (Length - 1:23)

J. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Redbox Etiquette


"Patience is the art of concealing your impatience." - Guy Kawasaki 

    A buddy of mine recommended sharing my thoughts on Redbox etiquette. Redbox, for those who may not know, is a kiosk that is placed near high traffic storefronts that offer current movie and game titles for around $1-2. As on-demand services took over, like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, etc., we all saw the extinction of our movie rental hubs like Blockbuster and Hollywood video. One service that rose to the top like the original Start Wars movie poster, was Redbox.
   As first, the service was new, exciting, and cheap. Soon, as word got out, you'd find you favorite film was out of stock and you'd have to either try another day or go on a Zelda-like quest around town looking for a kiosk that had it. As the product and service evolved, we were introduced to movie reservations online. The Wife and I try to stay on top of the best way to not be met with frustration. Disneyland's FASTPASS is similar in bypassing long waits. So that's what we've been doing as of late with Redbox.
   However, the one thing that does NOT seem to end, is the wait for people who do not know about any of these time saving methods. With a Friday evening line that rivals Disneyland's Peter Pan, they offending patron will stand there and read every movie's synopsis, before reviewing the movies they MIGHT be interested in, and then finally narrowing it down to the ones they ARE interested in, and then discuss it at length with anyone accompanying them, before FINALLY checking out for the first time,.....EVER, which will take another five minutes.
   I do not profess to believe my opinions should be law, but it seems fair to say in this movie rental model, that if there is ANYONE behind you, performing the actions stated in the previous paragraph should be suspended and one should make a damn decision. It's inevitable that once I'm finally allowed to swipe my card and pick up a reserved movie, I STILL have people tapping their feet behind me. Yes, I know you're next,....I had to wait for that person too! It's about thinking of others. I try to be considerate of how long I'm taking, and will only browse when I see the kiosk has no one at the screen. It may never change, despite all the thousands of sighs and feet tapping going on. As it's said patience is a virtue.
J. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Finding The Energy For Parents



"Babies don't need a vacation, but I still see them at the beach... it pisses me off! I'll go over to a little baby and say 'What are you doing here? You haven't worked a day in your life!" - Steven Wright

   I had a conversation with a fellow dad, and the topic of our energy levels as parents came up. While it was said the you gain so much as a mother or father, energy is NOT one of them. Heck, I'm crafting this thoughtful post on less than 5 hours of sleep from last night's CryFest 2013. TWO of my three kids up into the wee hours my good people! I was trying not to nod off on the long drive home from work. I feel like a Nintendo character, who's energy level is flashing in the red. I know we've ALL felt like this. Even my sister-in-law, who I thought was just one big ball of energy, has said it ain't so. It appears that finding the energy for parents is as mythical as the elusive unicorn or snipe. So in the great hunt for the fountain of youth, or in this case, energy that pales in comparison to the youth of America, what might we do to fix that and put more zip on our step?

Here are 5 suggestions: 

1. Sleep. Try to fit it in where you can, when you can. I'm now finding myself taking cat naps (I've always hated the term "power nap", as I do not wake up feeling like Captain America). I've even taken part of my lunch break at work to get refreshed. You may have to get creative and try something new, but it can be done. 
2. Eat better. The type of food you eat matters. The old "you are what you eat" rings true when I've had too much processed or fast food. We've been cooking at home a lot more for the past while, and we notice a difference in the way we feel. We DO need a break from that, as requested by the cook (a.k.a. The Wife) and we'll do something fast and cheap once or twice a week. 
3. Don't be the white rabbit. Managing time and effort on projects, errands, and other tasks will help. If you're all over the place without a plan, you'll burn through your daily energy allowance to quickly.
4. Do stuff for YOU. Our first several years as parents were an all inclusive focus on the kid. After our 'Lil Man came along, we realized we had nothing we were doing for ourselves. Now that Wee Lass is here, we make time for ourselves each day. Whether it be 10-15 minutes or more, we've both found that if we give ourselves time for a hobby or passion, we're more energized to do the ma & pa thing. 
5. Learn to let go. I've been called "high strung" for sometime now. Every battle was a war that had to be won. The Wife has mastered letting go recently and I'm working on it. If you realize you have young children, you might not worry so much about your house looking like a museum. Or you may not worry about EVERY scrap of food being cleared from the little one's plates. I once heard a saying that I use in jest. "Close enough for government work." 

   I've read a couple of lists that mimic what I think are the important ones. One just needs to take a look at their situation and make some minor changes to start. If they work, keep going. If not, go slower. We've been making some progress at The Cheeky House, so I'm living proof some of this stuff can work. Now if I can just feel like Captain America after my next nap!

J. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sisters - Creating The Bond


"Sister to sister we will always be, A couple of nuts off the family tree." - Author Unknown

   I had three brothers, so the idea of bonding usually entailed some sort of beat down, criminal activity, or other hazing event. I mean, when my youngest brother was born, we were all excited to see how durable he was. By the time my father remarried and had a little girl, the four boys were all married with little ones of our own. We've always been more like uncles that visit once in a while. So having a sister is about as foreign to me as changing a diaper (JUST kidding people,...I've done plenty!). 

   So it's been fun to watch the beginnings of our little gals, yes sisters, creating the bond. Our Wee Lass is quite pleasant most of the time for an infant. Combine that with our 'Lil Miss who loves to be in control, and you get the perfect scenario. They entertain each other throughout the day, or at least once 'Lil Miss is home from school and weekends. The older loves to hold the baby, though she's still a little wobbly doing it. The youngest loves to grab a fistful of big "sissy's" hair and try to ring the bells of Notre Dame. It's a symbiotic relationship. 

   I watch The Wife and her sisters when they get together. I was warned about the way they go a little mental after midnight, and I've certainly been witness to THAT! I sit by and watch the insanity unfold. Aside from the Gremlin effect, it's fun to watch something I never witnesses growing up. The bond that they share has been strengthened over a lifetime, through hardships and successes. I've seen and heard the way their parents nurtured that and hope I can reproduce it in some way. They love to see each other, long for the next trip, share stories, tips on parenting, and a pile more. I see the beginnings of it in my own, and am excited for the fun to come. I just need to remember not to feed them after midnight!

J. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ask A Dad - 10 Questions With Writing Pad Dad, Justin Knight


Next up for "Ask A Dad" Q&A interview is the very funny and great writer Justin Knight at Writing Pad Dad. Justin is a husband and father of a handsome "mini-me" little boy. He's always cracking me up with his candid posts about being a father and hubby. Thanks to Justin for some insight into his life. 
1. What's the best part of being a dad?
I'd say seeing my son grow and try new things. Unlike me, he meets new experiences with excitement and enthusiasm. It's great to see.

2 What has been the most challenging part of being a dad?
Managing my time and trying to always be patient.

3. What's your "they never told me THAT" story?
That you never sleep as soundly as you did before you were a dad.

4. What's one lesson you could pass on that you've learned about being a father?
Being a Dad is the most important thing you will ever do. Don't screw it up.

5. How are you able to find time for yourself, or as a couple?
For myself, blogging and reading. As a couple, date nights are a work in progress!

6. How have children altered life's game plan?
Not really. Having a family was always part of my plan.

7. Do you have any tricks for eating or bed times?
I wish I did. Being consistent helps!

8. What's your escape from the chaos, be it a hobby, tech gear, etc?
Zoning out in front of the TV.

9. What lessons do you feel like you're passing on well,...and maybe not so well.
Hopefully, I am teaching my son that life really centers around family. 
10. Mini Van or SUV?
SUV


Thanks again to Justin Knight at Writing Pad Dad. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for your fix for the day!

J.


Be on the lookout for future interviews, Q & As, interrogations and so forth on "Ask A Dad". 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vacationing With Kids - Now That You're Home (Part 3 of 3)


"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
that I shall say good night till it be morrow." - William Shakespeare

   As with any vacation, parting is such sweet sorrow. I'm wrapping up our 3 part series on "Vacationing With Kids" with a look at coming home from paradise. We took the kids down and waved goodbye to the beach, the pool, the drink stand, etc., and headed out. The flight home was less exciting, the people around us less inclined to enjoy our children, and we got home MUCH later than we had expected. It seems inevitable that we start the week back on a bad note, just as Murphy's law dictates.
   With my fingers dragging along the keyboard, like my feet would drag along a long desert hike, I try to convey my thoughts on what comes after vacationing with kids. Now that you're home, you must battle everything about home life that you spent a week forgetting. The unpacking, laundry, cleaning, meal preparation, work, bills, and so on, are all part of everyday life that were put on hold while your only concern was staying entertained. If you're one who can come off a grand vacation recharged and ready to get back to reality, then good for you. You're in the minority. If you're like me, and coming back borders on depression, here's some ways we can stem the tide of malice towards our real lives.

3 Ways To Beat The Post-Vacation Blues

1. Get your kids back on schedule ASAP. Nothing ruins your return home like bad sleep. It produces bad attitudes, bad wake up routines, bad sibling arguments, and so on. We've had previous experiences with this, leading all the way up to just this past one. Figure that one out, before you worry about much else.
2. Get unpacked with a quickness. I've noticed that the longer I take to put things away, the longer I stay in my funk. It's not like I'm going on another trip, right? So why leave half my stuff in bags 'n suitcases for another two weeks? Get it put away.
3. Stay busy.  I mean, distract yourself with anything. Work, cleaning, school, soccer practice, garage stuff, yard stuff, and so on. Don't let yourself sit there and wish you were back on vacation. I don't mean forget the good times. Sure, look at your pics, write a journal entry, and tell your friends and family. I'm talking about when you should be getting back to real life, keep busy. When I let myself daydream for too long, the blues comes back with a vengeance. Whether you're sending kids back to school, or coming back from paradise in the summer, find a way to keep moving forward.

   It's tough coming back from such a good time. My mother has told me that she has a very hard time coming off of vacations. I must get it from her. Yet we must soldier on, until the next break. Until then, best foot forward.



J. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Motivation For Each New Day


"I can't wait for tomorrow. 'Cuz I get better looking every day." - My brother-in-law.

   Whether you're one who throws off the covers and yells "Today is going to be a great day!", or faces the beginning of the week with a fresh case of the Mondays, lets talk. I was once going through a rough time deciding to leave the art profession for health care. I was boo-hooing about how I was an artist and shouldn't have to give up my dream job for something I didn't want to do. My older brother is a great sounding board and listened to me complain about work, money, responsibility, etc. After patiently waiting for his turn to talk, he exclaimed, "Nobody wants to work! We ALL want to be on vacation ALL the time! That doesn't pay the bills and isn't how the world works."
    Story time! The grass is always greener. I was laid off back in '09 or so, and briefly felt a sigh of relief. I took a two week vacation and then hit the job hunt, hard. After a search that lasted WAY too long, I realize that I'd prefer to be productive. So when I look for motivation for each new day as a worker bee, I analyze what might do the job. Is it the next weekend? Maybe. Is it coming home to the kids? For sure. Is it the possibility that I'll have a great day at work? I sure hope so!
   It's not an exact science, so I welcome suggestions. If I'm going to be a lab rat for the foreseeable future, I'd like to do better than just enjoying the beautiful sunrise that greets me most days ERR-LIE in the morning. Any tips? 
   My love for Steven Wright's comedy ends this piece: 

I was at a gas station when I saw two signs. One said "Hiring" and the other said "Self Serve". 
So I went inside and hired myself, took all the money in the register, and then fired myself.

Happy Monday

J. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

When Fathers Dress Their Children

 
"The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard." - Steven Wright
 
   How is that we guys can roll out of bed, throw on yesterday's clothes in seconds, and be out the door in no time, yet at times we can't figure out which end is up with our kid's clothes? Sometimes if feels like I'm trying to figure out a Rubik's Cube, or at least like The Riddler is having a good laugh at my expense.
 
   Story time! When my father had a daughter later in life, he was pretty proud to bounce her on his knee and carry her around. His responsibilities were limited, as he admitted of himself, "I'm not really sure what to do with little ones." One visit to his place in the early months proved him right. The Wife and I were looking at my baby half-sister when I heard a giggle from my better half. I didn't notice anything, but remember, I'm a guy. If the nudity is covered, we're good, right? NOPE. The little wee one's shirt was on inside-out, backwards, with the tag up 'n out tickling her throat. When my dad asked "What's so funny?", The Wife could barely get the words out for the laughter. I was holding back my own laughter to protect my fellow man, but also 'cuz my father gets embarrassed and pissed off pretty quick. When he realized what he'd done, I saw his jaw muscles tense before he tried to calmly fixed the error.
 
   I know we've all done something similar, especially if we're not the primary care giver. The Wife never seems to make that mistake and my fellow dads that have the honor of being a stay-home probably have fewer issues than I do, I'm sure. No doubt, the less experienced were kept in mind when the "this end up" onesie was offered on CafePress.com. I think it prudent that when fathers dress their children, they shouldn't be watching the big game, reading their favorite magazine, or having an in depth conversation with anyone. Else they be subject to the mock and scorn of our counterparts. I for one will follow the "Measure twice, cut once" man code when I try to dress my kids. Smaller room for error, so they say.

J.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My First Car

(photo courtesy of themustangnews.com)

"Fifty years from now, when you're looking back at your life,
don't you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?"
- Sam Witwicky, Transformers


   Sadly in my case, the answer was mostly "no". I was inspired to write the tale of my first car after reading a great post by Pete at Father Knows Little. His tale reminded me of my first car, and don't we all have a first car story? I remember as a freshman and sophomore seeing the older kids getting their first rides. Most were humble beginnings, with the occasional shiny and new. You were jealous at the time, but later knew those were the spoiled kids who never learned a lesson in their lives. Yes, as my 7 and 3 year olds begin asking if they can drive across the parking lot again (my father's trick handed down to another generation), I look to a day when I set them up with their first transportation statement. Let me tell you about mine.
   Due to California cutbacks in 1992 or so, driver's ed was removed from school the year I was to take it. So my single mother paid for driving school out of her own pocket (it was reinstated the year after,....thanks CA). So I got my license the week before school started back up, dashing my dreams of a summer full of dating. With my older brother off to college, I was set to inherit his blue 1980's Mustang. I rode in it for a year as a freshman, not thinking of it as ever being mine. I had dreams of a Camaro, a jeep or truck, etc. Hell, anything but that blue POS. That also was not meant to be.
   I learned how to drive a stick on that thing. My father would point out the gears grinding, the invisible people I'd just hit, and other confidence building techniques. It was a hunk 'o junk in the classic sense of the term. I tried to wax and buff, but the oxidation just made the blue paint ruin my fathers buffer pads. I tried putting in some bigger speakers along the back dash, but the sun baked durafoam it was made of gave way on the first bump and both speakers broke through and fell into my trunk. The wheels were so dirty that when my mother detailed it while I was gone for a week, she discovered white walls and was super proud to show me when I got home. The engine stalled at EVERY stop, so I had to tickle the gas peddle at every stop sign and red light. My friends called it Gonzo, and The Blue Jock Strap.
   On the plus side, the seat belts worked and the e-brake made sliding in the rain a fun pastime. There were few dates in that thing, fewer rides home given, and we finally unloaded it to the next kid in need of embarrassment.
   Yes, those were good times. It's been fun sputtering down memory lane. I'll try not to stall out.

(edit: I found a pic of Gonzo)

J.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Vacationing With Kids - The Trip (Part 2 of 3)

 
 
"There's no such thing as fun for the whole family." - Jerry Seinfeld
 
   I'm not sure Jerry was entirely accurate. As promised, we're halfway into our spring family vacation, and somehow we're all still alive. Going anywhere with my wife's family usually entails some sort of epic sickness, though, the week's not over yet. To continue on after  "Vacationing With Kids Part 1", I wanted to get right into some things I've learned while being away from home with our little ones.

1. Check that mother effin' list twice before you go. I have three swim suits sitting nicely in a drawer at home. Nothing like spending part of your treat budget on yet another swim suit you forgot to bring. There's more I forgot, and it's embarrassing to admit, so moving on,....I said moving on! I think an actual Word document listing what we bring each time would be a good idea. Grrrr...

2. Prep for bedtime BEFORE bedtime. Our Wee Lass goes down much better when we're not trying to pull out the hideaway bed, get jammies on, calm down the monster that is a 3YO after a full day, and so on. So while one is finishing dinner, jammies, etc., the other is frantically setting up beds, blankets, noisemaker, or whatever so that it's all quiet on the pacific front. This makes for a happy next morning (see pic at top).

3. Do more together. I know it's a "duh" statement, but isn't it why
they call it a "family vacation". Our kids start to go nuts within the first hour of waking up if they're not engaged. Mostly our 'Lil Man, but it's obvious we need to get them out to see, do, experience, etc. It doesn't even have to cost anything. Beach was free. Botanical gardens were free. Pool was free. Just get out there! I'm sure I'll sing a different tune when I have three sullen teenagers, but I'm hopeful.

4. Continue to check that stress at the door. Of the past 4 days, my best times have been when I'm not stressing the small stuff. The lousy times are when I'm like, "Does he HAVE to touch EVERYTHING?!" The Wife is like, "Mmmmm, he's a 3YO boy,.......yeah." So I try to chill more, despite my genetic code.

5. Find some time for you. The Wife and I are determined to find some time for ourselves, alone, to head out and have a few minutes to clear our heads. Okay, so Jerry might be right. There's no such thing as an entirely "Fun for the whole family" trip. We're all different, not robots. Wait, maybe my 'Lil Man....nah. We're finding that time, and it helps to get in that little time we need to stay sane, recharge, still love our kids (just joshin'), and remain driven and creative.

   I hope these might come in handy for someone. They're just little lessons we learned along the way. It's meant to help first and foremost. It's also been therapeutic to look at our past and present vacations to see what worked, and what went terribly wrong.

   Stay tunes for Part 3 early next week. Awe yeahhh, there's a Part 3 to this bad boy.

It can be the quick, small moments that make it all worth it.
 
J.






Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Writing Pad Dad Interviews The Cheeky Daddy!

I was recently honored to be asked for a Q & A interview for Justin Knight's "Blogs To Take A Shine To".


This is a great way to get to know some of your fellow bloggers through a funny and great dad contributor, Justin Knight (a.k.a Writing Pad Dad).

The interview starts:

1.  Please tell us all about your blog! Why did you decide to start a blog? What can readers expect when visiting your blog?
The Cheeky Daddy was a spin- off of The Wife's blog title. We may still collaborate in the future, but it started.....
 
 
You can check out the entire interview at Writing Pad Dad. Thanks to Justin for the opportunity to share and get to know more of my fellow bloggers.

J.

Ask A Dad - 10 Questions With The Busy Dad, Jim Lin

 

This is the first installment of "Ask A Dad". The inaugural interview is with Jim Lin of The Busy Dad blog. Jim is a hilarious father of two, with some great perspective on fatherhood. His humor is matched by his creativity, as there are some hilarious videos he's made. Thanks to Jim for taking some time so that we can get to know him!


1. What's the best part of being a dad?
Knowing that you matter. Simple as that. Your child's every smile, every moment of triumph, every tear -- what you do or don't do impacts that.

2 What has been the most challenging part of being a dad?
What I said above. The most rewarding things in life are the ones that scare you to death.

3. What's your "they never told me THAT" story?
Infants can spray poop up to 8 ft if on a changing table at the right angle. Yes, I measured.

4. What's one lesson you could pass on that you've learned about being a father?
Learn to laugh about it. Parenting is draining if you look at it from the perspective of trying not to mess up. But if you go into it knowing that things will never go as planned, you can at least chuckle and move on.

5. How are you able to find time for yourself, or as a couple?
Get the kids to bed as early s humanly possible. I believe all the great inventions of human civilization were discovered with a beer in hand, after the kids went to bed.

6. How have children altered life's game plan?
Although my son wasn't planned, having him didn't knock me off any trajectories. Maybe it's that I simply create really open ended game plans with endless contingencies. And maybe this should be my answer for the lesson I would pass on.

7.  Do you have any tricks for eating or bed times?
For eating, "put some cheese on it." I don't care what it is. Put cheese on it, and your kid will eat it. For bedtime, both our kids were able to sleep on their own through the night at 4 months. The Cry It Out Method (is that a thing? I don't know. Using initial caps makes it look official) is incredibly effective. At most, they'd have maybe a week of crying it out (just check on them every 15 minutes so they know you didn't abandon them). After that? Like clockwork.

8. What's your escape from the chaos, be it a hobby, tech gear, etc?
Up until last year, it was Muay Thai (been a martial artist 20+ years), but now with my new job and insane schedule, it's Jack Daniels and Netflix.

9. What lessons do you feel like you're passing on well,...and maybe not so well?
Like UFC in the old days, "the only rule is, there are no rules!"

10. Mini Van or SUV?
SUV, unless someone could give me a lifted mini van with flames and skulls painted on the side.


Thanks again to Jim Lin at The Busy Dad blog. Follow him for the latest advice and adventures!

J.


Be on the lookout for future interviews, Q & As, interrogations and so forth on:
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Print Books vs E-Readers

(pic from Digital Book Reader)
"Men have become the tools of their tools." - Henry David Thoreau 

   While on vacation, I looked around the pool, serene bench areas, hammocks, etc., and saw a lot of books and a lot of e-readers. I know one day, we'll all have interactive hologram interfaces not unlike the super futuristic interfaces of say Minority Report or The Matrix. Right now, though, we're in an epic battle between tradition and the future.
   A Pew Research Center study said that "the number of traditional readers dropped from 72% to 67% from last year, while digital bookworms jumped from 16% to 23%." I read this on Mashable.com and it made me wonder it I'd ever get there. Sure, our family has a tablet, but I'm still an ink and paper guy. The children show more adaptability and can switch between the two seamlessly. I however, have noticed my eyesight changing for the worse. It makes me feel like I should be peering over my bifocals on my front porch at the kids in my neighborhood screaming, "Get off my lawn!"
   So the question is, who are you? Ink and paper, or digi-print? As eye look to get my eye checked and then fitted for my glasses, I think I'll be a hybrid of the two. I've played with the digital version a bit and I'll still be enjoying the smell of the traditional pages for some time. And hey, they make great table stabilizers in a pinch, especially if it wasn't that good of a book. So chime in and let me know what you're using!

J.
  
Next comes the question posed on Cnet: Tablet or E-Reader?

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Ultimate Blog Party 2013 - A Bit About The Cheeky Daddy



 
Ultimate
 
   The ladies over at 5MinutesForMom.com have a fun looking event going on. My mother raised us four boys on her own, and I think she could have used a group like them. They've invited dads to participate in order to grow, network, and share. So here's 10 things about The Cheeky Daddy:
 
1. I have three wee little ones: 7YO girl, 3YO boy, 7MO girl (yes ladies, the seat is officially kept down).
2. I've been at this blog since the first of 2011.
3. As an art major, I love fresh art supplies, and have a hard time bringing myself to using them.
4. As a kid, I once climbed the freeway fence and crossed all six lanes on foot, twice.
5. My favorite post to date is still Cheerios Butt.
6. I'm a bit of a pack rat, but must have my art space clean (The Wife LOVES that...).
7. I was to be named Clint or Jason, they chose Jason.
8. It takes over 750 lbs of power to drop a heavyweight boxer, and only 3 lbs. from my son's fist to my crotch to drop me.
9. I enjoy movies, books, plays, theatre, chick-flicks, guy-flicks, and cry at a good story ending,....much to my brother's fun-making delight.
10. You could once hold my blog up to your ear and hear the ocean. Now it's more like a small dorm party.

I wanted to keep this brief, but if there's overwhelming demand (1 or more requests), I'll add another ten. I know, I know, enquiring minds want to know! What secrets will be revealed! Whatever,...this Ultimate Blog Party 2013 should be pretty cool.

J.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Does Counting To Three Work?


“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds,
so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
- Plato

   Having your parent count to three seems like a rite of passage for all of us. Don't we all remember the famed "Two and a haaaaaaaaaalf!"? As I look back, I remember not doing a single thing about the threat at the count of one, or even two. I snapped to it at 2.5, 2 3/4 and 3. There are a few experiences around the concept of counting that I'd like to share for consideration. 
   When The wife and I were first married, we had a Great Dane that we took to a short obedience class. The instructor watched a young woman give her Husky a command over and over. The instructor told us of a man she met who's dog would obey his commands, after some work, only after he said it three times. See, the guy was giving the command twice before giving it a third time and MAKING the dog obey. Hence the result. 
   While we are not canines and neither are our children, I see the same thing in principle all the time. I have seen parents close to me count to three many, MANY times, with no result. It's clear that without enforcing the rule, it's lost its effectiveness. I've read a few articles written by psychologists and child behavior experts and it's clear that counting to three may not be the best choice. While The Wife and I have used it out of tradition and lack of knowledge of other tactics, we ARE looking at alternatives, since it doesn't seem to be the best solution for our kids specifically. 
   The discussion with our little ones has recently been about choices. Our 'Lil Miss is old enough to get the concept, and our 'Lil Man is getting there. The more we discuss "making good choices/decisions", the more we get away from counting to three. It' not a cold turkey thing, but we're making the transition. Now we ask for a task to be done, and can give the consequence of not making a good choice. It seems to be working, and I'm not counting to three,...again.
   Everyone has a different style. I'm interested in yours. Please let me know what you're doing that works. Please? Don't make me count to three!

J. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Old Movie Quotes Our Children Use

"Oh, good grief." - Charlie Brown

   Along with all of the newer cartons that our 'Lil Man watches in the morning, we've introduced our older two to the 'toons of yore. Samplings of the old Scooby-Doo, Casper, Woody Wood Pecker. Popeye, and so forth have all gone over well. I've also noted how much I enjoy the effects of Peanuts and the gang.
   The thing I noticed us there's about 90% less yelling than the talking underwater sponge. There's also about 80% less crazy action than most of the new stuff. So it shouldn't have surprised me that I chose "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" the other night as a wind down tool when the kids were ready for bed earlier than usual. I had the typical requests for something with shouting and action to watch. Yet I instinctively chose an oldie instead. The results were obvious. Kids that were calm and quiet, all the way until their heads hit the pillow.
   There was one side effect. When we think on old movie quotes our children use, remember this story. We're currently on vacation on the Hawaiian islands. With my in-laws next door the kids have been all jacked up on excitement for the hotel experience. With our Lil Miss staying one night with the grandparents, our 'Lil Man was anxious to turn out the last light and hop into bed. We kept putting him off, not ready for that to happen yet. After the 12th inquiry, we both said no again to turning out the light. He took two steps toward the small table, rested his head onto folded arms upon that table, sighed, and exclaimed "Oh good grief!"
We both laughed out loud. He didn't get why. I must add that when I was young, any time I complained around my sweet grandmother, she would roll her eyes and exclaim "Oh good grief!" It's nice to have a timeless classic live on over three generations and make me laugh in turn.
So I'm dying to know, what old movie quotes have you passed on or been picked up on by YOUR little ones?

J.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Vacationing With Kids - Preparation (Part 1 of 3)

(image from Iinspoinspo)

"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done." - Steven Wright

   Don't we all feel like that when we travel, especially with kids? We've got grand plans, and we WILL be prepared WELL in advance. Then, we only get so far and it's a mad dash to be ready on time. Thus begins our three part series entitled "Vacationing With Kids". I recently read "Why traveling with kids SUCKS ASS" by Karen Alpert, and laughed my own hind quarters off. She had one heck of an experience, though I find myself continuing to load the suitcases for departure in 12 hours. So onto the prep work.
   Packing needs to be started earlier than the night before, plain and simple. There is a fairly complete packing list available at TravelSmith.com. I didn't see much that I'd to the list as a basic start to the process. It'll vary depending on person, family, location, crisis, etc. That all being said, we're still up 'till midnight no matter the trip. With one kid it was procrastination. With three kids, it's finding the time to even get to the packing. We're lucky that we're not headed out with backpack each, consisting of toothbrush, underwear, a compass, duck tape, and floss. Hmmmm,.....interesting.
   As for the kids, prep work is in the hands of the creator. We have the power to dump it on them in one fell swoop with video cameras at the ready. We can also drop hints to keep it interesting. It's been a good carrot to dangle when behavior takes a nose dive. It's also been a great motivator for things like picking up rooms, finishing dinner, and so on. A big trip is so infrequent that they do need to earn it a bit. Or a lot.
   I read a decent 10 Tips For Making Spring Travel More Fun, at Eileen's Blog that addresses making the most of your trip for families with kids a little older than mine currently are. After reviewing a few other lists, here's my 5 tips and lessons learned in preparation for our 7 day adventure with a 7YO, 3YO and 6MO:

1.  Check your stress at the door. I tend to have high expectations that lead to stress, irritability, let down,....oh the list can get long. The last couple of bigger trips, I've tried to let that go. By having fewer expectations, I seem to have a better time. We plan a few things, but with a family as young as ours, we  try to just enjoy our surroundings and each other. It's worked nicely, and I'm not such a butt head.

2. A stitch in time saves nine. In other words, plan ahead. I'm talking everything you've slapped yourself upside the head for in the past. Packing is the big one. Then there's calling the hotel for a pack-n-play or high chair. Oh, and don't forget to keep your kids on something on a schedule leading up to the trip with dinner and bedtimes. If these things aren't thought of in advance in preparation, it just adds to the stress (see #1).

3. Take pictures, a LOT of pictures. Start early in the trip. I realized a long time ago that you can ALWAYS delete. You can never create. These days I never hear myself saying "boy, I took WAY too many pictures..." I certainly have, however, found myself saying, "Crap, I didn't take any pictures." A good time is a good time, but as we have more kids, it's inevitable that we take fewer pics. I've seen it in our family of 9 siblings/in-laws and 25 kids/cousins. So it's a conscious effort, but worth it in the end.

4. Mind the clock. I've admitted to The Wife that I'm not good a SEVERAL things. Packing for the kids is a joke. Getting the toiletries together is shameful. I don't reason well with the kids at times. Blah, blah, blah. I AM good a time. My mother drilled punctuality into the four of us brothers like we were in the Army. So I'm here to tell you that it's nice to be a little early and have time to breath as opposed to racing through the airport till you can hardly breath. Do it with kids and you'll see your relationship tested to its limits,.........trust me.

5. Remember, you're traveling with children. If you're a rookie, ask around. If you're a veteran, you should know better. Travel light, like me, who's packing for half the week and will be doing laundry. Take one book, and use the rest of the space for the kid's entertainment and snacks. Do NOT forget each child's favorite stuffed buddy, blanky, binky, bubby, or whatevertheheck. You forget, you pay. I once saw couple that made about a dozen emergency packs for the people around them on the plane that consisted of sandwich bags filled with candy, earplugs, and a note indicating that it was their first time on a plane with their child.

   I'll be posting again mid-week with Part 2 of 3. We'll check in to see how I did following my own advice for prep work. We'll also look at some tips for enjoying the trip with you children. Stay tuned for the finale. Part 3 of 3 will be a good one!

J. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Time To Baby Proof The House


"Danger gleams like sunshine to a brave man's eyes." - Euripides

   Recently, our Wee Lass made the jump to light speed,...I mean crawling. Doesn't it feel like hyperspace when you realize the amount of debris out there for you little ones to get into? One day she was doing baby yoga and remaining stationary. The next day she was army crawling toward what she wanted. By day three, she had the crawl down and was off to get into all kinds of hijinks. With the two older ones laying out toy and food "breadcrumbs", Wee Lass just follows them to certain danger. Thus it's time to baby proof. 
   I'd like to be open and transparent and admit that I suggested to the wife that we invest in the baby fighting octagon (you know, like the Summer Infant Secure Surround Play Safe Play Yard. Boy that's a mouthful). After referring to it as Thunderdome and chanting "two babies enter, one baby leaves!" I was vetoed for the manual version. That is me taking my turn running interference and ensuring there's no unauthorized ingestion of foreign contaminants. We've done the electrical outlet safety plugs, cabinet locks, etc. It's all worked. There's one or two things we've learned after the first two. 
   Leave one of the lowest drawers or cabinets unlocked and fill it with the tupperware. It gives them something to get into without being as bad as a pit of snakes. Clean up seventeen times a day will get old, but it worked for us. Also, baby proofing is not a baby proof solution. Our 'Lil Man was a freakin' Houdini. It was like, how'd he get THAT open? Depending on your child, the baby proofing stuff will either work like a Harry Potter charm (en-lockium totalius!!!), or it will only act as a temporary deterrent until the child figures out how to get the goods. 
   Yes, we've found that when it is time to baby proof the house, a collective sigh is expressed throughout the home. It's a necessary task, for the greater good. Even then, they will get into stuff and even hurt themselves. My little sprogs are proof of that. So wish me luck, and same back at 'ya. Now where's my screwdriver? 

J. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Daddy Chores



"Learning the role of a father in a child's life and the many things
dads can do is important to becoming a good father." Amy Davidson, eHow Contributor

   I don't recall my father participating in the day to day of us children. Granted, he was gone at work a lot, but part of me thinks he preferred it that way. Given that situation, how was I to know what to do as a father of little ones? Since me and The Wife waited awhile to have our little ones, we participated and observed family and friends around us. I not only picked up on the little things you do to take care of your mini-me, but also how much a father participates these days. Not every dad does, but I think we all see more of it.
   My initial concept of marriage and parenting dates back to the 50's, where I'd go to work and come home to a warm meal, children bathed, and The Wife in a kitchen apron asking how my day was. My world was firmly tipped upside down when I married my sweetheart and realized a few things. She made a better salary than me, got home later than me, and we didn't have kids for several years. So I tried to adapt and help out more with taking turns at cooking 'n such. It was evolving when we decided to have a family. 
   When our 'Lil Miss came along, I was still fuzzy as to my role. The Wife did a lot of the care giving. Most dads have admitted to feeling a bit un-needed in the early phases. At around 6 months, I was asked to start contributing, so I got my feet wet with bathing and eating times. When my world didn't implode, I got more confident. 
   These days, I'm a part of every facet of their lives. Beginning with the night before, we BOTH participate in dinner, jammies, brushing teeth, washing face, stories, night-nights, wake ups, breakfast, making lunch, carpool, homework, and all the stuff in between (diapers, nail clipping, etc.) It's no longer a oddity for me to participate. I can't imagine it any different. When I think of husband chores, I know I'm taking out the garbage, changing a light bulb, driving to the store, etc. When I think of daddy chores, I get me tissue, clippers, rash cream and so on. 
   What is the one daddy chore YOU never thought would be on your "to-do" list? 

J. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Multitasking With Children

 
"Multi-tasking arises out of distraction itself." - Marilyn vos Savant
 
   Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to get to some projects moved along. The Wife and I have found a decent balance so that we both get some time for ourselves. That being said, we also sometimes are so into our projects, that it's hard to stop once on a roll. Case in point: this weekend's art project.
   I've recently had a good start on some wood pallet art on my small but growing Etsy shop. The only issue I've had is "the zone". You see, "the zone" is that place you go when you're SO into the project at hand that you lose track of time and block out everything else. Let's just say, it's tough watching my older two out front when I'm in the garage and "the zone" hits while working on a project.
   So Saturday afternoon, The Wife has a make an Easter run, and I'm watching the two older sprogs out front, Wee Lass asleep in her crib. Halfway through a wood pallet piece (Pictured above, and please excuse the mess. Artist on board.), the baby wakes up and I have to make a decision. Pack it in, or multitask. Que the Ergo Baby and we're back in business! At first she was looking up at me, staring me in the eye with amazement and wonder. Oh, if only all the girls did that. Then she watching me paint like "awwwweee, yeahhhh,..now THAT'S a mess I can get on board with!" By the time she'd had enough, The Wife was home and took over while I finished the piece.
   Not every opportunity is suitable for multitasking with children. There are a few that work out seamlessly and I found one this weekend. Granted, I'm still looking for the other two kids (KIDDING!). Actually, The Wife and I have noticed that the kids are into projects more, now that they've seen us in action working on the art pieces and Oreo Pops. So I guess it's rubbing off on them.
   I wonder if any one's had similar experiences. I'm always on the hunt for ways to pull of more in the same amount of time. Ideas?
 
J.