Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Movie Review - Playing For Keeps

Lewis: "Are you upset mom's getting married?"
 George: "Yeah, but Matt seems like a nice guy."
 Lewis: "I've decided I'm not going to call him dad."
- Playing For Keeps
   Over the weekend, The Wife and I were looking for a movie to watch before bed. We stumbled across Playing For Keeps on Netflix. Stumbled is the right work, as we'd never heard of it before. It's got Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, to name a few. I saw that after it's $35m budget, it didn't do so well. Without seeing a trailer we put it on, as it got a good star rating from Netflix viewers.
   Now it should be known, that I love movies. I'm not hard to please, as I'm not looking for a life changing event. I'm just looking for a distraction for 2 hours. I can hear some of my fellow dad's saying "he's a man whore!", and "that's not what it really like!" Uh, who cares. Gerard Butler plays a retired soccer player (football to the rest of the world to us yanks). He's had a kid with Jessica Biel's character and has not been the best father. As he looks for work and reluctantly takes a coaching job for his son's team, there are some relationships that happen to mess things up. Hilarity ensues.
   The Wife and I ended up loving this movie for the message is sent that the interests of a child super cede our own desires. When we decide to bring a child into this world (or make decisions that produce a child), there is responsibility that comes with it. The acting was great and portrayed the story well in my eyes. I'm an emotional guy, and can tear up at a decent Hallmark commercial. This movie was no exception. When I see even an on-screen father, making the decision to be a better dad, I'm moved. I have my own son, and am trying to build my relationship with him every day.
   I played soccer for 10 years growing up, so that theme was not lost on my. Though it was late when the movie ended, I wanted to go kick the ball around with my boy immediately after. I'm not sure I would have ever seen it if it were not on Netflix, but it's worth viewing if anything I've written above interests you. I laughed a bunch of times and LOVED the scene of father and son practicing a little "footie" together in the rain.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Overcoming Your Child's Fear At The Doctor

"I have dangerous bones in my body." - Vin Diesel
   My 3YO 'Lil Man has had knee aches for some time now. We have always thought it was growing pains, playing hard, etc. To make sure, we visited his pediatrician late last week and she ordered x-rays to be done that day on another floor. My brave man looked to his parents for some additional support. He's wears a pretty good poker face, but the uncharted frontier of x-rays was a bit much.
The hardest part about overcoming your child's fear at the doctor office is that you can't force it. You simply cannot MAKE them okay with something they're unsure of. I've said it in previous posts that I believe it comes with the time you put into your parenting. Sure, even MY kids can look at me like I'm insane despite my best efforts to calm their nerves. This trip happened to work out just fine, just like I think it can be for any one's children. I try my hardest to give a general, but hones play by play. It seems to work most of the time and so I continue to use that method. Again, my daughter can turn that method upside down in about 7 seconds with her irrational fears of what amounts to practically nothing sometimes. Still, most times it works out just fine.
 My 'Lil Guy walked into the room with my just fine. The tech asked me to get him down to his undies before getting him up on the table. My brave guy smile and whispered to me that he was scared. I knelt down, held him close, and walked him through what the x-ray camera was and what it was going to do, as I got his shorts off. I picked him up into a bear hug, and then gently laid him on the table, hugging him the whole way. I was allowed to hold his hand during the process, donning my own lead apron that Superman couldn't have gazed through. You can see by the second pic to the left here, that he was pretty easy going about it. He thought the cod piece covering his junk from the radiation was pretty funny too.
   Afterward, he got to see the pics of his own bones. He was appropriately impressed and grossed out at the same time. No less than what I thought would be the case. I really think that he found it interesting that he could see his own bones. He's that kind of inquisitive. We left without fanfare, and I think it can be that way with most kids if you build the relationship of trust and honesty (about MOST things) along the way. I knew someone who would so overdo the buildup of things like the doctor office, walking through a casino, etc., that the kid was thoroughly freaked out before stepping foot in what ever venue was being described. Lame, and shame on that person for overdoing it. It can be more simple, until your child is ready for more information.
'Till then, turn and cough.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Leaving A Clean World

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

   I was out driving this morning and I spotted an older woman along side the road. She had a garbage bag in one hand, and a trash pick in the other. She was cleaning the area along the sidewalk, because she wanted to. I was gone our and about for 30-45 minutes or so, and on my way back I saw that she had made her way to the other side of the street, further up. She was waist deep in weeds, ensuring she got every piece of trash she could see. 
   I was impressed with a person's desire to make her community a better and cleaner place. It's a lesson in taking pride and as my father always put it, "leaving things better than you found them." I've recently been trying to teach my 7YO 'Lil Miss the concept. It's lost on the younger two, but it's something worth teaching now and along the way. 
   I'll say it again, I was impressed and inspired. We can all do better. My recycling bin is now ALWAYS more full than my trash bin. I'm proud of the progress we've made and know there is much more that can be done. I challenge us all to do better, and to teach our young ones what we were taught no so long ago. To leave the world a better place. Let's get to it. 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Swim Lessons and Our Children's Fears

"We have nothing to fear but, AHHHHH!!!! What the heck was that?" - Sort of John F. Kennedy

   I grew up with a pool in our back yard. I can remember our swim lessons given, one brother at at time. Our back stroke technique sounded something like "farmer John, airplane, torpedo, glide." After the fear of swimming is gone and confidence is in abundance, it's sunny days from there on out. However, right now, we have our oldest two little ones in lessons. They've graduated from paddle boards and hand holding. As you can see from the picture above, they've quite literally been "thrown into the deep end."

   The fear of sinking is heavy in our household as of late. I can remember the overwhelming void of the deep end when I was young. As parents we can provide all the support and encouragement possible, but what pushes them in mentally in the end? I feel that it's partly their trust in us as their mother, father, or both. Have we earned that trust to be cashed in for bravery in times like swim lessons? I also believe it's their confidence in themselves. Some of it is innate, but I think there is a lot to be said for how we raise our little ones. Do we build them up with positive reinforcement? This kind of support will give them the confidence to try new things like swimming, public speaking, school performances, etc. 

   I have daydreams of pool parties, lake trips, perhaps a water polo player, and the like. Mostly, I just want my children to have fun in the pool and have a safe time while there.  The endless hours I spent in the pool as a child can be the same endless hours for my children very soon. The Wife and I try to compliment their bravery and hard work at practicing. They love to do well and want to get better, that much is evident. I suppose like anything else they will try, success comes through various channels. Attend to them all as well as you can, and hopefully there will be a lot of enjoyment along the way. 

   I leave you with a pic of my swim lessons (at around 7 years old, like my 'Lil Miss right now). I showed my two new swimmers in hopes they would see that I was learning at one point also. What I got was, "Why does your face look like that?" and, "Why are you so red?" I like how they focus on the obvious and skirt the real issues. In the end, it's another rite of passage and we all need to face the same obstacles. Swimming is just the tip of the iceberg my little ones. Here's to a lifetime of brave moments. 
Happy swimming!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fathers - On The Shoulders Of Giants

(pic via reddit.com reddit.com)

"On my dad’s shoulders the world is so small, I am a giant 100 feet tall" - Les Julian

   The above pic cracked me up. Though I never fell asleep on my father's shoulders, I certainly spent my fair share of time up there. I even water skied on my old man's shoulders one year. There is an exhilaration felt at that height. You can see further, feel mightier, and save your legs on a long day at the theme park. 

   We as fathers have a lot to bear on our shoulders. We're charged with being the other half to an equation that will shape and mold our young ones. Puts the pressure on, doesn't it? Sometimes my shoulders ache from holding my wee ones while we're out. Yet, I find that even when I don't feel like I can last another minute, I carry on and never want to let go. I don't know any father that doesn't want to be a hero to their child, and I am no different. Sitting on our shoulders can give them pride and confidence that doesn't exist on the ground level. So even when I'm zapped from a long day, carrying the extra burden of my son or daughter is well worth the "weight". If we don't have time for that, what do we have time for? 

   My step-father is another great example of a guy who will give a free ride to whomever asks that is under the age of 5-6 years or so. He's always demonstrated that there will always be time for little ones. As he breezes through his 60's, he's still cutting it up with my children, which reminds me to make the time and set an example. The guys over at Fatherhood.org had a great piece you can read on Building A Better Dad - Should We Start Earlier? This starts on the metaphorical "shoulders of dad". Our wives and mothers bear so much of the weight, I know we can all participate to carry our own portion. Let us set the example and impart the knowledge we've gained from either our own excellent father figures, or the knowledge we've learned along the way. 

Here's to you dads. 


Don't miss some additional posts on this topic. Like: 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gillette ProGlide Razor Review - @Gillette

(pic via 9gag.com)

"I see you're shaving. Was the weight of being a man to much for you?" - Overly Manly Man

I once saw a graphic on Reddit.com that looked something like this:
   Yes, that's exactly how things work in my life. The last razor hangs on forever, to the point of "shaving with a rusty razor" (what do you do with a drunken sailor!). That is, until I came home from vacation this past weekend and found a larger box atop my pile of recyclable mail fodder. I saw the phrase "Your greatest shave", and my attention was piqued. Anything that can save my skin from public flogging is certainly welcome. I thought this might be my escape from subjecting my neck to what feels like a cheese grater for a razor. (ouch, just the thought!)

   I'm no stranger to the Gillette product line. I've used various shave gels in the past. They've always done well on my skin. The razors have been purchased over the years also, and have been lost, stolen, graduated from, or grown so much scum on them that they look like an artifact from the Flying Dutchman captained by Davy Jones himself. Nay, this pirate was in need of something more than the pocket friendly 4 pack from whatever store I was at when they were needed. I slid my pocket knife through the seal of my new ProGlide sample and opened the box to the sound of a distant angelic choir. I beheld the greatness therein. "Precision meets sensitivity." We shall see Gillette, we shall see.

   I freed the contents of the box and found another treat. $5 off my next purchase of cartridge refills. Enticement to extend our relationship, should I come out of my first shave in 2 weeks unscathed. I washed my face in the shower and once done, lathered up in preparation of the first stroke down my face. It was like I was in the middle of a quiet meadow! Each stroke felt like a woman with baby soft fingers was gently brushing my cheek with the back of her hand. With four blades and a moisturizing strip, it was a VERY smooth shave. The swiveled neck allowed the razor to curve and hug the corners of my jawline like a Lamborghini taking corners with ease. I finished with no nicks or dings, and stared back at a satisfied customer.
   I highly recommend the Gillette ProGlide, and will be taking of advantage of the $5 coupon for sure. Let's just hope it doesn't take 6 months to do so!

Don't forget to read my post on Men's Bath Products That Work For You.
'Da fine print: @Gillette products were a free sample received via post. All opinions are The Cheeky Daddy's and the smooth shave is for ALL to enjoy. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Different Rules For Different People

"There will always be different rules for different people" - The Cheeky Grandpa
   One of my father's pet peeves were the four of us Cheeky boys handing out rules that were never lived by. My younger brother was the worst. He'd dictate hard and fast rules to our youngest brother, and promptly NOT live by them. Even my own father had the best advice in life that he preferred NOT to live by. The concept was that there will always be people that has certain rules they wanted everyone else to live by, that they themselves would never have to follow. Infuriating isn't it?
   Now that I'm a father, trying to teach the concept rules is tricky. What are the family rules verses the rules of society? What code of ethics and conduct do I teach my children to follow, and just what the heck am I teaching them about when EVERYONE else doesn't fall in line with that?
   We have a number of children in our neighborhood. A few of the parents could not care any less about what their kids do our in our 'hood. These neighbor children boss each other around, get into whatever they want, and eat whatever they want whenever they want. So when I have to tell our own children that we're not having whatever junk food is on the menu for the day, there's much complaining about what's "not fair" in their eyes. I have to explain that our family doesn't each a family size bag of Doritos right before dinner. I know, call me crazy, right?
   As I was writing this post, I struck up a conversation with my sister-in-law about the general idea around this topic of "how we do things as a family". Her bottom line was  that we might just get by if we all chill a bit. That includes me. She also reminded me how quickly we forget how we did things once upon a time. Parents of tweens forget what it was like to have newborn. Parents with young children don't yet know what it's like to party into the night with older ones when curfew doesn't apply.
   As was said before, there will always be different rules for different people. I suppose it's the duty of us all to respect each other's choice to rules and work together to co-exist in the best way possible. Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

San Francisco Exploratorium Review

"We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams," - Arthur O'Shaughnessy
   I remember elementary school field trips to the San Francisco Exploratorium. The building was next to the Palace of Fine Arts, but has moved to Pier 17, which is just as cool of a location. This is a great place to visit at any age. My children eat it up, as they can touch just about anything. Given the rules of the house, my 'Lil Man was so beside himself with glee, that the night before our visit he stated, "I can't wait to go to the place tomorrow, 'cuz I get to touch EVERYTHING!" It was clear that it was going to be a heck of a time. I mean, I can remember running hard and fast all day as a kid there. I came home burned out from a day of learning, trying things out, spinning on the centrifugal chair and trying not to throw up etc. I'd say about 40% of the exhibits were original. I asked a volunteer kid who was manning the suspension doodle pad how old he was. He told me he was 17, which meant the exhibit was there for me to see before this kid was born. Ouch! We be old!
   One of the exhibits was rather large for how little was in it. It was a large dark room with a large flat screen right in the middle. A ghosted image was visible with a small sign that instructed you to put your hand on the upper right of the screen. I did and the figure SLOWLY put her hand up to mine. Then she SLOWLY wiped the "mist" from where her eyes were, and put both hands down before staring at me. It was all prerecorded, but creeped me out. I had my 'Lil Man with me and I hear a soft voice say, "Daddy, I'm scared." We both jetted out of there. Seems there's better use of the space, but then, they have a ton of space to expand into, so I guess you can place odd modern art installations wherever you want. The rest of the stuff was hands on and a ton of fun. It messed with their senses, expanded their imaginations, and taught them a little bit about a LOT of stuff.
   In the end, it was a great time. There were a lot of people there, but I didn't really mind as there was a lot to do. As we had a baby in tow, we got there with 2 hours to closing and it was JUST enough time. We could have used another hour, but only because we'd been there over the years and knew what was worth our time for our families ages. A newbie might need most of the day to see it all. We ended in the sound room, where there were all types of xylophones to bang on. We missed it years back with our 'Lil Miss was a bit younger, and I'm glad we ended on that. It was just the Cheek Clan, making their own sweet obnoxious music. We all had a great time and each had our personal favorite exhibit. If you're in the area and are looking for some additional places to visit, this might be a great one for your family.
   Parking right across the street is $45 for the day, which is atrocious. We went another block away and it was $25 through 8pm. It's about a 20 minute walk to Pier 39, where there's a bunch of restaurants, shops, a carousel, and the famed sea lions resting on the docks.
   I love San Francisco. Born and raised, returned and appreciated. I'm glad we got to go, and happy we now have the memories.