Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blog Clog - A New Name For An Old Problem

“Writing is hard. Not as hard as not writing.
 Not writing is torturous, bloody, chaotic and a gruesome winless battle.
 A writer who writes, knows peace, lives connected to truth.
 Not writing is ache, betrayal, death of the soul and imagination.”
 - Coco J. Ginger

   One evening, The Wife and I were sitting next to each other, doing the Internet thing. She was working on some projects, and I was trying to think of what to write next. While there are a million topics to pick from, it's hard to single in on the one that inspires you to write. She sensed that I was having trouble deciding on what to write and asked, "Blog Clog?" 

Blog Clog - /blôg - kläg/
Noun - The inability for a blog writer to unclog the massive amount of ideas that amount to no new entries. 

   Now that we've given a new name for an old problem, how do we combat it? I've seen some great posts and articles about how to beat writer's block of any kind. Below are a few that might help. 

- Dad Blunders has a great post titled Blogging Basic - You Must Write, all about how to keep writing and finding your voice. 
- Dukeo has a great post that are Six Very Official Ways To Improve Your Writing. I think each tip is a great way to also determine which post might be your "next best thing."
- Social Media Explorer has a great Overcoming Writer's Block article. Tip #6 & 7 are key for me. Using stories makes it personal and more interesting in my opinion. Also the idea of "just write" makes sense. It helps to get out the crap, so you can get to the good stuff that you'll actually post. 

   I hope this helps, if for no other reason than being able to finally call the difficulty of getting a post out by name. Drop a line if you ever get "blog clog" and we can figure out how to get out of it together. Happy writing!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nature Boxes - A Fun Outdoor Weekend Project

"That's the thing about Mother Nature, she really doesn't care 
what economic bracket you're in." - Whoopi Goldberg

   In a time where many of our children seem like Neo from The Matrix, I try to get the kids outside for some period of time each day. While the older generation marvels at how good our kids can be at today's technology, we as their parents like to limit the time they spend on iStuff in order to keep them balanced in all areas. Hence, the outdoor projects. 

   Just like the indoor activities, I've noticed my children's interest can be lost in the outdoors as well. If they migrate into the garage to dig through my tools, ask to help paint, etc., I know they're bored. So I keep a keen eye on the situation to determine if there are other children to play with, if certain toys have not been pulled out to ride one, and so on. It's a delicate balance, even if we as parents have ourselves convinced that "we played outside until the street lights came on without any problems staying entertained!" 

   So one recent weekend, I noticed how much of our yard was usable for projects. The kids are always picking stuff up and making pretend items, worlds, etc., so I grabbed them both a box and told them to start making something like a pixie/fairy or mini troll house. They got right on it and spend a LOT of time putting them together. The best part was that these "nature boxes" were never finished. They pulled them back out over the next several days and into the next weekend. They even had them out up through this Memorial Day weekend these past three days. It's been fun to see their imaginations run wild. The stories about the invisible inhabitants were as much fun as when they found caterpillars in the bushes and made them the new home owners. 

   It's about being creative yourself. People have often complained that they are "not that creative". It's not hard. I think you simply need to let go. Think back to your childhood and how easy it was to make believe. I pretend to be successful every day, so pretending with my kids should be a snap! Try something new with your kids, and let it be outside. See what happens. 


Friday, May 24, 2013

The Ultimate Dessert - An American Experience Abroad

(photo courtesy of

Server to my friend: "Sir, the Ultimate Dessert is intended for 2-3 people" 
Me: "Dude, he IS 2-3 people"
TGI Friday's, Southwest England, 1994

   I was at my local Cold Stone Creamery last night and asked them if their forearms hurt after a long day, hand scooping all those orders. The one kid came back with, "Only when they order one of those." He motioned to a half gallon tub, that was clearly meant for a hand-packed dessert that included any number of toppings,...hand-mixed in. At first I thought about their poor arms, and then I thought "Murica!" That's right, the fun new of letting people know "that's how we do it, 'MURICA!" It reminded me of a classic American experience when I was in England around February of 1994. STORY TIME!

   It was me and three buddies, two were pretty much cowboys from Utah, and the third a smaller fella. The bigger of the cowboys took us all out for dinner at a local TGI Friday's dinner for passing his driving test for an American experience abroad. The meal was average, but the dessert menu caught our eye. Our server came over. He was a tall, slender, young guy, who was happy we were there in a mostly empty restaurant. He asked what we'd like for dessert and the conversation went something like this: 

Cowboy 1: "Tell me about this Ultimate dessert" 
Server: "Oh, that's a popular one. It's three large scoops of ice cream. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. We then load it with chocolate, caramel, and raspberry sauce. Then we stick a banana at each end, top that with whipped cream, nuts, a large brownie, and a full sized chocolate bar." 
Cowboy 1: "That's sound GOOD! I'll have one." 
Server: (incredulously) "Sir, the Ultimate Dessert is intended for 2-3 people.
Me: "Dude, he IS 2-3 people!"
Server: "Okay then. Sir what about you?"
Cowboy 2: "Yeah, that does sound good. One Ultimate dessert for me too." 
Server: (blank stare, eyes widen, writes down order, looks to our smaller friend) "And you sir?"
Smaller Friend: "Vanilla milkshake." 
Server: (to me) "And for you?"
Me: "That cheesecake looks good. I'll have that."
Cowboy 1 & 2: "Wimp! Loser! Chicken! You're not an American" (etc., etc.)
Me: (slam my fist on the table) "FINE! THREE ULTIMATES!" 
Server: (nearly passes out, eyes the size of dinner plates, quietly utters...) "I'll go see if we have enough to make all those."

   We destroyed those desserts, and proved why the world thinks we're gluttonous pigs. We were all around 19-20 years old and still able to eat whatever we wanted. Thems were the days, yeah? So in honor of all that have served on this coming Memorial Day weekend,...'MURICA! Bring me three Ultimate desserts!!!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kitchen Cleanliness - Food On The Floor

"Cleanliness is next to,.....impossible." - The Cheeky Daddy

   Have you been to The Cheeky Daddy Leftovers Buffet? Just head over to the kitchen table and then look straight down. There you will find half of any dinner we've had, provided by my loving children. Sometimes it's a few crumbs, and other times it's a full balanced meal. Our 'Lil Miss is getting better at keeping it on her plate, though it wasn't too long ago that she shared equal part in the nightly mess. Our Wee Lass is just starting on solids, so she's not the problem. It's my 'Lil Man that's the problem. I've seen him scoop up massive amounts of pasta or rice on his spoon and see NONE of it go into his mouth. When every other bite of food a minimum is going to the floor, one can see the layer of edible flooring we have in our kitchen.
   So we have learned to do something we haven't had to do since we've had kids. Sweep every night. I can recall my sister-in-law doing it for her 5 little ones, but I thought it was simply the sheer volume of children and food. Nope. We can do it with 2. So unless we're so tired from the day we can't get to it, we sweep, dustpan, and sometimes mop each night. I'll give The Wife credit that she gets on it much more often than I. She deserves a medal for the battlefield clean up she does each day.
   My brother went though it earlier with his boy. He's a closet inventor with no patents to his name, and this problem was no exception. He wanted to invent a barber style plastic catch all that went over your child's head with arms poking out to each. The plastic would reach the floor and fan out to "catch all" of the food that never made it into the child's mouth. I've seen bibs that have a small catch, but I was told "they were thinking too small" for his boy. Great in theory, but they've never met my boy. He's 6-10 feet away from the carpet and I'm having to vacuum the carpet these days too.
   So in the effort to stave off the ant invasion and a choking baby who's now putting everything in her mouth, we've reached that point. The messes can be epic, but it's what comes with the treasures we call our children. Now if my invention of a sliding kitchen floor that you could hose off in the back yard would work out, THAT would be something.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Father / Daughter School Luau

Almost like an exclusive club.

That's a whole 'lotta dads dancing.
You know someone is from Hawaii when,....
They are barefoot in most of their elementary school pictures.
   This past Friday, my 'Lil Miss had her school's father / daughter luau. When I saw the flyer a month before, I was really excited. It was something fun and special I could do with my sweet little gal, and it was an attempt to bring a bit of the islands to the event. We bought out tickets and counted down the days. I was unsure what to expect, as one of the events planned in the past was cancelled due to poor response. You just can't tell these days.

   So the evening of, I got home from work and we both got all dressed up. I got out my island shirt from vacations past, and she got all dolled up with her flower sun dress and hibiscus flower in her hair. She was bursting with excitement as we left the house. I told her to wait by the door of the car, as I walked up and opened it for her. She asked why I did that and I told her "that's what a gentleman does. He opens the door for a pretty lady." She got an embarrassed look about her with a smile and hopped in.

   We go there and the line to get in rivaled a Disneyland ride. Inside there were a few booths for games, stick-on tattoos, and treats. We got our photo taken together (will post when I received it) and played a few more games, dancing wherever we were to the music. She danced on my feet, arms wrapped around me. Toward the end, we joined the main group to dance the final two songs. A slow song where she requested spins, a few dips, and then holding her in my arms. Then there was the good-bye music we all danced to as the crowd thinned.

   It was a fun time to be sure. It was also amazing to see so many dads there. We were all in various levels of comfort. Some guys looked like a deer in headlights, others like a possum playing dead. There were the few of us that were in our element, making sure our daughters had a great time. No matter the level of enthusiasm, we were all there for our girls. That's what mattered and I heard veterans of the event referencing years past. It's nice to know they're setting a tradition. Sign me up for next year, and ALOOOOOOOO-HA!!!


Friday, May 17, 2013

One Man's Trash - Wine Barrel Wood Projects

"One man's trash, is another man's treasure."
   The Wife and I have been working on some wood pallet projects lately. You can see some of what we have cooking on our Etsy shop. It's been a fun way to stay creative, pass time while watching the kids play out front, and so on which I've posted on Reclaimed Wood Projects. Our gardener saw us working in the garage one day and informed us that he did some landscape work at the local wine vineyards. He offered to bring us old wine barrels that were, in his words, "falling apart anyway, and just going to get thrown out." Enter The Cheeky Daddy.
   I had visions of weaving, lining them up for a new kind of canvas to paint on, etc. Then naturally I went on Pinterest to see what else inspired. I was not disappointed. Our gardener mentioned that he himself had made some benches out of them. The lids have the logo of the vineyard they are from on one end, and other cool looking text on the other. It set my creative mind ablaze and I haven't been able to get them out of my mind since.
   This illustrates the core of the "one man's trash" saying. Like discarded wood pallets, these wood barrel destined for landfill, inspire something more in people like us. I'm grateful that people we know see the potential and offer their "trash" to us to make something new out of it. The saga continues and be on the lookout for when we finally complete our first projects with these barrels of the forgotten. Geez, that sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Posting on Scott Behson's Fathers, Work and Family Blog

The Cheeky Daddy


Fathers, Work and Family

"I love it when a plan comes together." - Hannibal, The A-Team

   A little while ago, I did a post titled Work Life - Traveling Dad, where I talked about how the family stays connected when the working fathers (and mothers,...don't want to forget you ladies) off on a business trip. I gave some ideas on how to stay connect with your kids and significant other when gone. I was fortunate to sync up with dad blogger Scott Behson and his blog Fathers, Work and Family, a great place to hear more about balancing work/family and trying to make the workplace more supportive for parents.

   We collaborated a bit and I did a guest post on his blog, sharing some additional ideas around the same topic. I've seen some fun collaborations in the recent past, but this one took a fun turn and continued on. It seems that most guest posts end with the final salutation. Comments are then added and the post occasionally referred to. I was pleasantly surprised when we connected again, as Scott had taken it a step further and then documented it in a follow-up pos.

   He does fun memes for his boy. It's fun, unique, and a special insider thing between him and is son. I've seen people take a child's toy or some sort and send pics of the character/toy in action throughout the time they are gone. I think there's a commercial with a stuffed monkey like that. The point is to try. Try something obvious. Try something new and unique to you. Just try.

   Thanks again to Scott Behson of Fathers, Work and Family for a fun collaboration. It was a lot of fun seeing one post blossom into another. Good luck out there traveling work parents!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Life Hacks

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." - Milton Berle

   I stumbled across the above pic as a "life hack" on a while ago. It's milk poured into the first bay of a cookie tray. Mind = Blown. It's the quintessential life hack if there ever was one.

   Life hacks are the simple solutions to problems we forget we've all had at one time or another. Everyday tasks can be made easier by someone coming up with an easy way to circumvent that tasks with a "life hack". The first list of life hacks I ran into was on, and listed some really cool ways to make every day things in life a bit easier.

My first search ended at Twisted Sifter for 50 great life hacks like putting pancake mix in an old squeezable ketchup bottle for easy dispensing. There also some cool electronics life hacks like using those black paper clips on the side of a desk to organize your electronics cables.

- Some of the best life hacks on Imgur.
- View some additional life hacks from Imgur, that I've not seen before doing a more in depth search.
- There's another one that this guy has some great life hacks  for his garage, which are awesome for us guys!
- Lastly, there's a list of Amazing Life Hacks from, via Imgur.

   There's not much more so say. I just wanted to share, as I've implemented some of these in my own life and home. Anyone who spots the life hack and isn't familiar views me as a genius. Sometimes I pass on the knowledge, and sometimes I just let them believe what they want about me (insert evil laugh). Hope they help!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Wait, Let's Talk About Your Child's Weight

Monica: "The camera adds ten pounds!"
Chandler: "So exactly how many cameras are on you?"
   Remember when it was a sign of wealth and success to put on a little weight?  Oh, to be in that day and age. I'd be looked upon as the social elite! Really though, I wish it wasn't an issue for our times. I watched my mother battle weight issues as it fluctuated with my father's less than perfect performance as a father and husband. It hurt to see her have issue with her looks due to weight. It crept into my own marriage as The Wife battled issues with her weight during pregnancy, when all the tabloid magazines showed how fit celebrity moms were with their nannies, personal chefs, personal trainers, and so on. I had a brief issue with weight around the birth of our first child, eating whatever I wanted to show support to my sweet wife. We're adults though. I never thought about when I'd have to face it as a father of a girl.

   It started last year when my 'Lil Miss was in kindergarten. The friend she hung out with the most at school and a bit at home for play dates was a fairly skinny girl. She was abnormally petite for her age, which posed a perspective problem when she referred to her fingers as fat. My daughter came home that day and began complaining about how fat her fingers were, especially compared to her stick thin friend. While my 'Lil Miss is average height (maybe a bit taller than the other girls as of this post), she is by NO means anything but trim and fit. So you can imagine how my heart sank when I heard my 6YO complaining about being fat. We did our best to reassure her that she was quite fit, as she was in gymnastics and playing out on bike or scooter for hours each day. Still, it took more than one discussion to convince her of that.

   Enter the latest in good body image building.I was spurred to thought and action after reading. See the Yahoo article about the Abercrombie & Fitch fiasco. I know it's not the responsibility of corporations and media to help build my daughter's self esteem and sense of body image, but it is their job to make her feel like crap about it as the alternative? I wandered past one of their stores recently and just glared, at no one, in an attempt to use the force to crush the entrance to the den of bad feels. I just simply can't stand what is allowed to take place out in this world. We seem so advanced, yet are nowhere near it sometimes.

   There's much work to be done by us parents to make sure that our children are not overly influenced by the "machine". I'll be damned if I don't at least go down fighting for my daughter's best interests. Shame on those who would make my child feel less about themselves. Shame on me if I don't teach her not to listen.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day - 2013

Grandma Scofield
Grandma Swann
Mama Schofield Swann Gillespie 
The Wife (a.k.a. The Cheeky Mama)

"Men are what their mothers made them." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

   I can see the truthfulness of that quote. On a day we celebrate our mothers, I'm thankful for those in my life. When a solid father figure might have been missing, there were several motherly influences in my life to remind me of my duty and responsibilities. There was love, encouragement, and all kinds of patience involved in the generations before me. 
    Now I am thankful for a wife that has shown all of those same qualities in our own family. I can see that we are going to have wonderful children that are a product of great mothering. There is more patience than I thought could exist in one body, and a metric ton of love for each of our children. I see how hard she works every day and am grateful for her in my life and in the lives of our wee ones. 

   So Happy Mother's Day, to all mothers, mothers to be, and those who take the place where a mother isn't present. We love you for all you do, and want you to know it. 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Angry Birds Star Wars Toy Review

Not that long ago, in a living room far, far away...

   The reviews are in. Angry Birds Star Wars toys, by Hasbro, are out in stores ready for play time. Any Star Wars nut out there will be thrilled to have any one of these toys in their home, at any age. See, I feel that any of us who still love the stories and lore of the galaxy far, far away would play with these new games from Angry Birds and Hasbro any day. So here's our take on some of the the new releases from The Cheeky House. 

(Approximate retail price: $39.99; Ages: 5 & up. Available: Now) 

The various characters that the battle game comes with is half the fun. It takes some time and patience to set up the AT-AT, but I found I end up chatting or goofing with my young ones while we set up. The smile they get when they get a direct hit makes the set up worth it. I'll admit, it feels weird taking iconic characters like Darth Vader and R2-D2 and flinging them at an AT-AT made of plastic Tetris blocks. Seems irreverent or something. Either way, the game is fun, and after about 5 days of every day playing we're not at about every other day for about 15 minutes each. 

ANGRY BIRDSTM STAR WARS® MILLENNIUM FALCONTM BOUNCE GAME (Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 8 & up; Players: 1-2; Available: Now) 

For some strange reason, I feel like I'm training my kids to be good at beer pong later in life. Their skill level is still lacking but the game play together is what makes it fun. I find that small parts are always tough to keep track of in a young home. Though, I do enjoy having anything Star Wars themed in my possession. The Angry Birds Millennium Falcon is on of those, and bouncing a Chewbacca Bird ping-pong ball at it is a load of fun.  

(Approximate retail price: $9.99 ea.; Ages: 5 & up. Available: Now)

The foam flyer has been a hoot. It's not the center of any specific game, but it's been the hot potato, throw learning tool, stress ball, pre-bedtime chasing bad guy, baby chew toy, and I'm sure a few others. I picture these flying around dorm rooms or high school kid's bedrooms. They're pretty cool to have around the house.  

   Each of these are a fun diversion from the daily grind. They bring a group together, whether it's an adult party, or staying in touch with your kids. They'd make a great gift, as they're first two are just a little different than some of the games out there we're all used to. Thumbs up from The Cheeky Daddy. 

The games above were provided as a sample by a promotional company for review. All opinions are The Cheeky Daddy's. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Multi-Tasking At Work - Wearing Many Hats

(Image Source: © 
The Mad Hatter: "Have I gone Mad?"
Alice: "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers.
But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
   When I first entered the working world, I thought the job I applied for was the job I'd be expected to do. Am I right in saying that I was TOTALLY wrong?! Tell me I'm not along in this. How many of us end up wearing any number of different hats where we work? It's become a national trend and expectation of us wherever we find employment, with varying levels of just how many hats can be stacked upon our heads.
   Some positions require multiple "hats" be worn that all center around the general tasks that are expected when employment begins. Multi-tasking is just a part of working life. Recently, for example, a doctor's office had front desk staff that were expected to also do vitals, clean the rooms for the next patient, etc. At the other end of the spectrum you have, which is what I've experienced. I was once a slot machine artist, and was also at times answering phones, testing machines, swapping and testing game boards, running network diagnostics, selling machines at the Global Gaming Expo, and so forth. That was the most hats I've ever worn.
   Not that any of us can expect to get paid for two jobs, but you must watch out for those who won't take their fair share. At the same job I mentioned above, I had a co-worker who performed the job that he was hired for, and NOTHING else. I ended up doing an entire load of work that should have been split between 2-3 of us. It can be frustrating, but such is life in the great old U.S. of A. I'm half tempted to go to work with a different hat on my head every day, as a symbol. Nah,'d mess up my hair. Now get back to work.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Baby Talk

"My friend has a baby. I'm writing down all the noises the baby makes 
so later I can ask him what he meant." — Steven Wright

   Isn't there a worldwide consensus that baby sounds and baby talk are precious? When our little ones start to find their voices and join the ranks of us communicators, we seem to just eat it up. There are grandparents across the globe that spend every waking minute of their visits trying to get a baby to make some sort of sound (along with that sought after smile). It warms our hearts when we wake up to it in a bassinet next to our beds. It brings a smile to our faces when we hear it accompanying a successful toy grab. Sometimes baby talk is introspective, and sometimes it is directed at us or a sibling. Either way, it's a welcome thing. Except at weddings, funerals, church, middle of the night, and so forth. 
   The noises become partial words. The partial words becomes actual words. The words are eventually strung together and then life goes on to mimic the line from Shrek:

Princess Fiona: "It talks!"
Shrek: "Yeah, it's getting him to shut up that's the trick!"

   I won't bore you with the experts who state how important it is to talk to your child. Those of you with more than one will agree that on average, your first one took longer to learn to talk than the younger ones. It's certainly true with ours. It makes sense that the oldest only had us parents to talk to. My younger two get NON-STOP verbal action. Between mom, dad, older sibling, and middle sibling, the youngest will be spouting the Gettysburg Address in no time!
  So talk to your children, first thing. Cherish those baby talk moments, because soon they'll be saying "no",....and they'll be able to give a reason why.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Cheetos Mix-Ups Art Contest @ChesterCheetah

"It ain't easy, bein' cheesy." Chester, Cheetos

   I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to get lost in a creative project. The Cheetos Mix-Ups Art Contest that came long via the Life of Dad blog was one of those opportunities. I'm sure there are plenty of contest every month, but this one involved food! Who wouldn't love the opportunity to make art out of a snack food? I was shipped out a bag of the Cheetos Mix-Ups, Cheesy Salsa Mix, to get me started. Then the fun began.
   It was a hoot deciding on what to create. I then had to account for time and resources. I didn't want to run out of the tasty snack! I got Chester, the Cheetos mascot, sketched out on a piece of black poster board and got to work. It was a nice to get lost in a project just for me. There's a lot on our plate as parents, and our kids demand a lot of our time. I think it's important that we take a few minutes for ourselves. Granted, my older two were playing out front, and my Wee Lass was in her bouncer about 10 feet from me, but I'll take what I can get.
   A residual effect of the project was seeing the interest and creativity that was sparked in my older two. They would ride their bikes or scooters up into the garage to see what I was up to. They had a neighbor friend with them. They'd ask questions about what I was doing, why I was using food, were there lots of people in the contest, etc. They asked about doing something similar, so we might be doing a project like that at the kitchen table soon. I'm thinking dry pasta, dry beans, etc. At one point, the neighbor friend confidently stated, "You're going to WIN that contest!" It was cute to have my own little fan club. Their imaginations are more active than even mine, so I try to pay attention.
   It was a fun project, with opportunities to make new friends in the blog world. It was a way to connect with other people, my own children, and even try a new Cheetos snack. The Cheesy Salsa Mix was awesome! A mix of flavors, with just a hint of spiced heat. I tried not to eat more than I used. They're certainly worth a try, and if you end up not enjoying them as much as I did upon first taste, you can always use them for an art piece!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Iron Man 3 Toy Review - Mask, Figures, & Assemblers

Captain America- "Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away -- what are you?" 
Tony Stark - "Uh, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist."

   When I heard Hasbro was looking for a few good men to participate in reviewing a few Iron Man 3 toys, there was no question about joining the ranks of the elite parent/kid play team. We played with 10" Arc Strike Iron Patriot Figure (retail $19.99) . The battle sounds/phrases and lights are pretty killer. The flip-up missile launcher is pretty dang cool, as it rests vertically on the Iron Patriot's shoulder until you raise his right arm. Then it is in firing position with more sound effects. My 'Lil Man has already had the Iron Patriot on several missions!

   After our Wee Lass has gone down for the night, we were able to crack open the Assemblers Interchangeable Armor System (retail $9.99ea.) (Starboost Iron Man and Iron Man Mark 42). The small interchangeable pieces, while not baby friendly, are a TON of fun. The two figurines that we played with were enough of a good time that it kept my 'Lil Man and our 'Lil Miss engaged for a long time. After trying several combinations, they stepped into the world of make believe and had a numbers of great battles against each other and then invisible foes. The small parts were at times tough to swap for the 3YO, but our 7YO did great to help out.

   Lastly, we were honored to unveil the Marvel Iron Man 3 ARC FX Mission Mask (retail $24.99). This is clearly the favorite, as you BECAME Iron Man!!! I was battling with the metal man the entire first evening, through dinner AND a shopping trip. The Mission Mask has sound and phrase buttons on the sides that happen to also fire two missiles on each side. I'm on the fence about the missiles as I've loved toys that shoot since I was a kid. I'm also now a father that worries about "shooting your eye out", loosing parts under the couch, and our baby ingesting those lost items. We had fun turning the lights out and using the targeting laser. The glow around the eye piece was pretty eerie and cool. We put it up where we can see it when not in use, just 'cuz it's fun to look at. This one's worth having in the house for make believe. It may prove to be a source of contention between my 'Lil Man and I. It's that cool.

   As I wonder what to buy my children that will actually be played with, and NOT become bin fodder in the play room, I'm thrilled to report that these three toys deliver. The action figures stimulate the imagination and play. The mask takes that to a whole new level.

Iron Man 3 toys were received as a sample by a promotional company on behalf of Hasbro. All opinions are my own. Iron Man 3 is in theater's May 3, 2013. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ask A Dad - 10 Questions With Father Muskrat, Michael "Moe" Daniels

This week for "Ask A Dad" Q&A interview the hilarious Father Muskrat, Michael "Moe" Daniels. I've enjoyed visiting the Muskrat blog for some time for two reasons. First, this guy is a major Dukes of Hazzard fan. As me and my brothers were raised by the Dukes, that makes Father Muskrat family. Secondly, he's a great and giggle inducing writer with some amazing and funny stories. 

Thanks to The Muskrat for letting us pick his brain a bit!. 

1. What's the best part of being a dad?
I used to think it was the tax credit, but that gets fazed out at higher income levels, apparently. The unconditional love is nice, but my dog was giving me that. I think it's the humor...little children don't understand how the world works yet, so they ask some ridiculous (and often pretty stupid) questions that are great entertainment!

2 What has been the most challenging part of being a dad?
Trying to be a good example. I have to work to avoid using my usual profane metaphors and expletives in front of them.

3. What's your "they never told me THAT" story?
I had no idea that the 2yo little girl would want to yank on the 4yo little boy's johnson in the bath tub. No matter how many times I tell her to quit -- and how many times I tell the boy not to let anyone yank on his member-- it happens every time I look at my phone or walk out of the bathroom for a minute during bath time. Children are gross.

4. What's one lesson you could pass on that you've learned about being a father?
Buy the "booty camp" DVD for potty training, give it to your spouse, and then volunteer to take the other children somewhere fun while she does the potty training.

5. How are you able to find time for yourself, or as a couple?
I have to go out of town to unwind. I also try to "network" a lot, which means going to a bar with a bunch of people I like to go to bars with. As a couple, we try to go out of town 1-2 times a year without the babies.

6. How have children altered life's game plan?
I had planned to live in the city indefinitely and spend extra money on travel and perhaps a vacation house. A year ago, we moved just outside the city to be away from crime and sh$#!y schools. All my extra money goes to fixing issues with this f@#!ing house.

7. Do you have any tricks for eating or bed times?
I threaten to beat them if they don't obey. It works most of the time.

8. What's your escape from the chaos, be it a hobby, tech gear, etc?
Traveling and drinking (most of the time, both!).

9. What lessons do you feel like you're passing on well,...and maybe not so well.
I try to emphasize making good choices and have some self discipline. I'm not that old or that wise, but I've been alive long enough to observe that the happy, successful people I knew aren't necessarily the smartest or most talented people, but are instead the ones who are intentional about their lives and are willing to delay gratification, take a risk every now and again, and avoid following the crowd into mediocrity. I'll talk to them about things their older (17) sister is doing well or not well; I do the same for other members of the extended family they meet. I'm brutally honest with them.

10. Mini Van or SUV?
With 4 children, a minivan is much more useful for us than would be an SUV. Better mileage and more room to pack suitcases and people (plus the dog) when we travel. That said, we plan to get an SUV in a couple years when the oldest is away in college, and the younger ones are no longer in bulky car seats. Only my wife drives the minivan, I'll add.

Thanks again to Moe at Father Muskrat. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for a taste of one of the good 'ole boys!


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