Friday, August 30, 2013

The Friday Flush - #1

The Friday Flush - #1

   I've come to enjoy people week end wrap ups. They're a treasure trove of new sites, links, videos, and favorites that can be like Christmas every week! In honor of my two oldest, who have trouble flushing, I give you The Friday Flush. I'll be trying to bring the relevant, the fun, the interesting, etc.

Life of Dad
   First up is what I'm most excited right now to shout from the mountain tops. I've just become a contributor to the Life of Dad website. What a great group of fathers, doing the dad thing, and knocking it out of the park. You can read my first post #SuperMilkMan Contest – Joining The Ranks Of The Greats, and see why we do what we do, as well as an awesome #SuperMilkMan contest some of us got to participate in for a chance to meet Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. They've got some great gentlemen contributing to the site, and their podcast is one of the best I've come across.

Be Prepared
Next up is a gem I found while looking around for a bit on be more prepared as a parent. The take a look at and get ready to have a giggle fit. The "what your baby will & won't look like" bit made me snort, and that doesn't happen all that often. The book is for sale and I think would make a great gift for any father, new or seasoned. I've read a lot of the "What To Expect" books, and they've been a HUGE help. This one placed tongue firmly in cheek and delivers the laughs around some pretty well known expectations that aren't always talked about out in the open.

This last one for the week is a landslide in Malaysia back in '93. When I first saw this was glued. It gets good toward the end of the clip where it looks like the world is coming to an end. From what I heard, this was a mine that got too close to the Indian Ocean. Bad idea. Chaos ensues. My jaw was on the floor, as I'd never seen anything like that before that wasn't CG. Take a look and get ready to run for your life!

   So that's it for The Friday Flush #1. I hope to bring more to the table that might not be worthy of a full blog post, but certainly shouldn't be missed. This is Labor Day weekend '13. Have a safe and fun holiday!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Children and the Art of Deflection

Q: How many people does it take with A.D.D. to change a lightbulb? 
A: I like to ride bicycles!!!

   My buddy, who has a hard time addressing any topic head on and for very long, told me that one. Children and the art of deflection are a well known battle between parents and their offspring. I think a short novella documenting the practice should be written, much like The Art of War, etc. It boils down to this:
child is busted -----> parenting ensues -----> child deflects with weather comment -----> parent screams

   Our children have the innate skill we call "The Art of Deflection" (our book is coming to sometime in the future). I know all children have the ability, but let's just say, the deflecting force is strong with these ones. It's gotten to be epic this past year. Our 7YO 'Lil Miss has passed on her knowledge to her 3YO brother with maddening effect. I've never seen anyone change the subject faster than my heirs. I'll tell you this much. It's SO maddening, that as upset I might be at the time, it sends me into giggle fits.

   Teaching our young ones to focus on the subject at hand can be a tough prospect. I find the act akin to the old "herding cats" idea. The more serious the discussion, the less focus they have, ESPECIALLY if it's during a lecture on something they've done wrong. we gently nudge them back into the conversation so they learn to keep on task, but it's an uphill battle. They deflect blame, discipline, and lecture like a fly at a picnic. Doesn't that make you feel valid as a parent?

   So it's with a sigh of anticipation for the inevitable that we continue to try to keep our children's attention. As we teach lesson, dole out punishments, and explain correct social interaction, I look forward to more wandering eyes and random phrases to throw me off. These are the lessons that will shape our little ones, and it's our job to teach them, not matter how little interest there is to hear them. Our parents dealt with us at one point (or still do, know who you are!), so we can pass that on.

   Our children are our greatest responsibility, so,.............................hey, is that a caterpillar?


Sunday, August 25, 2013

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

   Sometimes as a working father, I miss some of the politics that occur within our neighborhood while I'm away. However, while we're out front in the evenings and weekends, I get to see all the goings on of our little piece of America. We have around ten children of varying ages in our court. There are five that are around the same age, and all of them are girls. The stereotype can sometimes be justified in that 4 of the 5 are very type A personalities. We've found equilibrium amongst each other as neighbors, and trust each other's judgement for the basics of keeping children out of danger, from coming to blows, setting each other's hair on fire, and the like.

   We've noticed that one young girls in particular, is kind of out on her own most of the time. Her mother is a student, works full-time, and doesn't seem to have much patience with having a child. The father is a stay-at-home-dad that does very little. The sweet young girl goes to school with messy hair, clothes worn day in a row, and so on. Both parents take immaculate care of themselves, but little is done for their daughter outside the basics. For whatever the reason, these are some of the things that we've seen as her neighborhood group.

   One of The Wife's new friends is a neighbor who lives next door to the girl in question. The two women have more or less taken on the role within the "it takes a village" saying. Both of our households have fed her when she's skipped meal. Both women have taken turns doing her hair during summer mornings and already this school year. They've encouraged good behavior, gave praise where it was deserved as well as needed, and so on. Both remember having heard stories of children growing up to be wonderful adults, only to have them look back and thank a family other than their own for showing them the right way. I see that in the way these ladies give unconditional love for one that is not their own. The patience and kindness are aimed solely at the child. In their eyes, the young girl doesn't deserve to be ignored the way she appears to be, and have done everything they can thus far to step in and offer help.

   Everyone has their own set of circumstances. We try to remain respectful while keeping an eye on everyone's safety. The experience has shown the true colors of some wonderful women and it teaches me daily to live a life of love and positivity.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

7 Items You Must Have In Your Baby Bag

        (photo via

"Be Prepared" - Boy Scout Motto

   I was a Boy Scout. Achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, thank you very much. Having boasted about my ascension to the lofty rank of one who should be the model of "be prepared", I've had my fair share of moments when The Wife and I are one diaper short on a long day trip somewhere. In a recent thread in a daddy blogger group I'm proud to call my digi-home away from home, one of my eBrothers posed the question "Where was the weirdest place you've ever changed a diaper?" Immediately I thought of our flight to Maui, early summer of 2011. 

   We left on a Saturday, but had found out our 8MO had a double ear infection and was on an antibiotic. His diarrhea kicked in just as we took off. I mean RIGHT as we took off. He was in my arms, my hand cradling his bum, and he fired one out the side onto my arm and into my hands as the airplane's wheel lifted off the tarmac. I was shocked into silence. The Wife held him while I cleaned off (ahhh-maaaaan! it's all up inside the buckle of my seat belt!!!!), and once we were at cruising altitude, I cruised back to the lavatory with my little buddy's mess. I don't recall being responsible for my firstborn's diapers on the plane, but for whatever reason, those memories don't haunt me like the 5 trips I made to the "standing room only poop party at 30,000 feet". That was some kind of cramped space, but we got by and it left us with some additional experience around what to have in your baby bag, no excuses allowed. 

   I found what appeared to be a list that I agreed with in full over at That's like the camping list for anyone getting ready to go to scout camp for the first time. Put it ALL in there, and then take things out as you don't use them,.....ever. That's the tough one though. 'Cuz you just....never....know. There are 7 items you must have in your baby bag. The ones you will flog yourself for NOT having in there are: 

Diapers - Whoa, man. Don't be caught without them diapers. The formula appears to be one per hour you'll be out, then a few extras in case of, know, life? 
Wipes - These bad boys are multi-use and a lifesaver for more than just the dirty jobs.
Hand Sanitizer - Once you've been in "surgery", you're gonna want to clean up a bit.
Changing Pad - With some of the places my eBrothers have changed their 'wee ones, you'd BETTER have one of these in the bag, or you should be ashamed of yourself.
Extra Clothes  - Too many times to count have we showed up to an event with children in clothes they did NOT leave the house in.
Snacks -  The unholy shrieks of your children might, just might be related to them being hungry. Snacks will exorcise the demons until you get a proper meal lines up for them.
Diaper Rash Cream - Salve that soothes the trouble soul. In other words, rashes can get out of hand in mere minutes on occasion, and this stuff takes up little room to NOT put it in there. Nothing says "I love you" like a nice shellac layer of cream on your kid's junk.

   These are the 7 items that our little family of three little ones has learned are indispensable. I advise to hit that list at to assess where you're at in terms of preparedness. We can't all be Boy Scouts, but as parents we can plan ahead and not be taken off guard.
   With a lengthy sign that indicates that I've been there,..............I wish you good luck.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Life of Dad Show Postcast - A Road Warrior's Best Friend

"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation;
for it is better to be alone than in bad company."
- George Washington

   I'm a lone road warrior. I spend my days on the road, alone, doing the work thing. Upon returning to my castle, I join the ranks of front line infantry to battle children. The Cheeky Family is in the midst of a the stereotypical "young family" phase. We're up to our eyeballs in homework, meals, and diapers (never in any particular order). This leaves no time for "brandy and moustaches". I currently do not have a man cave, I'm not going out with my buds any time soon, and there's certainly no sign of a fox hunt in my near future.

   So why do I rejoice this day? I found the Life of Dad Podcast. The idea of podcasting has existed for years, but I've yet to find a series or show that was interesting enough for me to download and listen to. Let me rephrase. Given the VAST trough of great shows, it was hard to find a place to start. As I joined a dad blogger group, one social media site caught my attention.

   The Life of Dad Show is run by Tommy Riles and Art Eddy, two extremely funny and interesting guys. They've had on some awesome guests. My two favorites thus far are Charles Baker and Jim Gaffigan, and it looks like they've got more incredible guests on the way! What I've liked best about the show is that the interview portion goes above and beyond the pandering "so tell us about your next project." Sure, each guest is asked about what makes/made them special. I'm already a fan of Uncle Jon (see episode 49 for a POWERFUL interview on drug addiction). Beyond the expected Q&A that we love to listen to, each interview delves into the father within each person. I've found that as I listen, I feel like I'm in the room, sitting on a couch across from "the guys". I've found my man cave! It's in my car, while I'm driving, with some good people along for the ride.

   There's also The Life of Dad After Show, which adds another layer to the mix, interviewing popular dad bloggers, etc. So much to listen to, so much time to get into it. If THAT weren't enough, they've gone above and beyond by listing a slew of other dad blogs that are noteworthy. I'm sold. I'm listening. Question is, why aren't you?


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life of Dad #SuperMilkMan Contest To Meet @TheRock

   This post hails the world premiere of The Cheeky Daddy's Instagram 15 second video for the #SuperMilkMan contest put on by Life of Dad. See, Life of Dad teamed up with The Breakfast Project and put together a kick-butt contest for a number of us dad bloggers to "wrestle" it out over the internet in a battle royal of sorts. We've all been tasked to make a quick video on Instagram, showing what makes us the ultimate #SuperMilkMan.
   Now that in itself is the supreme challenge. Bring the thunder and bring it in a quick 15 second video. The kids and I have been having a good time with the Instagram video feature that's newer to the app. This challenge was no different. My 'Lil Miss seems to have taken on the role of movie star, and loved almost all of it (attention span still leaves a lot to b desired).
   So take a look at my submission, like it on my Facebook page, love it on Instagram, and/or retweet on Twitter. Check out The Rock's ad and commercial for the Got Milk? campaign, and don't forget to have a glass of milk with breakfast or with a nice plate of cookies! My next post on this topic might just be to announce my trip to meet The Rock!

The fine print: The Cheeky Daddy was compensated by Life of Dad for participation in the #SuperMilkMan promotion and contest. All opinions and praise are my own, but milk is good for ALL of us. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Energy Star and The Cheeky Daddy's EPIC Challenge

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

   Since the beginning of conservation, there have been the few that try to change the world for the better. As a young student, my classmates and I were taught about recycling and conservation. I was a cub scout, a boy scout, both teaching me about how to better take care of this world. Since then, it's gotten to the point where I won't drop a gum wrapper, and our recycling bin is always more full than the landfill bin.

   Enter the latest challenge from Energy Star. Partnering with Blue Sky and their film EPIC, Energy Star is challenging families to be more conservation minded when it comes to energy use. Living in an area that experiences HIGH energy bills in the summer, I'm all ears for a way to cut down on that cost. Yet, at the same time (not as an afterthought), I've always wanted to try leave the third rock from the sun a better place than I found it. So....

The details: 

The Environmental Protection Agency presents Team ENERGY STAR, an initiative to get kids and families on board to help protect the climate through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions and provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment. To help with this, ENERGY STAR has partnered with PTO Today and LG Electronics USA, and brought in the heroic characters from the new movie EPIC to help kids learn about the importance of saving energy while having fun at the same time.

Here’s how it works: Families can go to There they can sign up and take a pledge for energy efficiency. Team ENERGY STAR will give them plenty of practical energy saving ideas right there on the pledge page. The first 250 families to pledge will receive a free DVD of EPIC the movie!

At the site they can download EPIC-themed educational activities and games on saving energy and protecting the climate. After submitting their pledge, families can enter the “Most EPIC Player” contest by sharing the site through Facebook or Twitter. The 25 entrants who get the most likes and/or retweets will win prizes from LG: computer monitors, TVs, smart phones and MP3 docking stations.

The top 5 winners will get featured on LG’s NYC Times Square billboard!

ENERGY STAR is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helping us save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. ENERGY STAR has nearly 20,000 partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, buildings and businesses, and the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 65 product categories. In 2012 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 50 million cars — all while saving $24 billion on their utility bills.

In a nutshell, you help more while saving more. 

   *** If you're reading this far, then you're one of the elite. ***
   Join @thecheekydaddy on Twitter on Wed. 8/21 at 4pm EST for the 
#TeamENERGYSTAR Twitter party. We'll be discussing eTopics, sharing ideas, and such. 

   The Cheeky Daddy is behind this program and excited about the challenge. Not only is there a chance to score some eStuff, but you'll find yourself more conservation minded along the way. We've been trying to teach our children about the environment and cost savings this past year or two, so it's right in line with what we're doing. 
   Good luck, keep trying, and TURN OFF THAT LIGHT! (shameless Looney Toons rip-off)


Happy To Be A Father And Husband

   "I don't know how you guys can do it. I can't stand having a 
woman in my house for more than 32 hours." - Scumbag Steve Co-Worker

   A new employee used these words at new hire training this past week and it just simply hasn't left me. I've always known that there were guys out there that didn't subscribe to my idea of what steps we take as father's and husbands. Heck, I've seen them in the movies. I just realized this week that I'd never actually met one. It left a nasty taste in my mouth and it's been hard to shake it. I was raised to be a little more sensitive to other peoples choices and feelings. To be called out as a person who has given up so much was a bit hard to understand.
   As a member of a dad blog group on Facebook, I see guys from all walks of life, from various backgrounds, who parent in all kinds of different ways, and they ALL are happy with their choice.
Disclaimer: I'm still of the thought "to each his/her own", with no disrespect to the single/childless.
   Having stated the above, here's my perspective. I was married fairly young, by choice. I had spent all my time since puberty trying to find someone who liked me for who I was, and wanted to reciprocate the love I was willing to give. Marriage was our way of committing to each other and put the needs of the other first, instead of just worrying about the "me". Hearing about my co-worker's "bachelor pad" as he approaches 30, just sounds like all the romantic comedies that never end well for the bachelor staying that way (examples include The Bachelor, Down With Love, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, and the latest we've seen,  Crazy, Stupid, Love). As a married man, yes, I did see these with my honey. I'll defend myself with the loose connection to research that is needed to prove that at least Hollywood agrees that being a "bachelor for life" never really works out for the selfish and self centered.
   As for the children, we waited for 7 years to start our family. The Wife and I wanted to get to know each other, go places, see things, and enjoy each other's company along the way. I can almost pinpoint the month we started to feel that empty portion of our lives, and wanted someone to share it with, pass on the joys of life and all it had to offer. As I sat stunned at my co-workers life mission statement, I had a thought. If having children has taught me to be more selfless and loving, what does living a life of self indulgence and lone-wolfing teach you? Sure, there are plenty of selfless, loving and charitable people who are unmarried and sans child. I'm talking about those who look down their noses as we who have chosen to commit to a significant other and the little ones they've taken into their charge.

   It's one man's opinion, but one who is happy to be a father and husband. I've found kinship with the people at Life of Dad, The Good Men Project, The National Father Initiative, and Playground Dad to name a few. Surround yourself with those who inspire and build, rather than depress and take down. The Cheeky Daddy is here, so count me as a friend. All my best.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#LifeofDad and Starbucks #Via Contest!


"Some people handle sweets better." - Harvey Weinstein

   There are a few things I love about Starbucks. I loves me a Peppermint Mocha in the winter (it's like Christmas in a cup!). Free WiFi is ALWAYS welcome. The employees treat my children like royalty. Those same children LOVE the cake pops (to the point of an intervention needed). All of those things pale in comparison to the Starbucks gift card. It's like Christmas day, ANY day you receive a gift card that says, "Have a warm beverage on me." Who says it needs to be a warm drink, though?
   These days, a mild pick-me-up has taken the form of a cold drink. The Starbucks Refreshers have been field tested and customer approved! Now THAT'S summer in a cup! The Via packets make it simple to enjoy a quick break from reality on the go. They're also good as props for home videos!
   The crew at Life of Dad have done it again. They're running a contest for you to highlight your Starbucks  #Via Moment, a fun promotion to highlight how these beverages integrate with you parenting life. It got the creative juices flowing and I started planning. I was new to Instagram's new video feature, so my first attempt got deleted (...sadness....). My second attempt is what you see above.
   Competition is fierce (what else do you expect with all that caffeine consumed during filming!), and the crew at #LifeofDadShow are keeping everyone in the know with who's submitting. EVERY ONE'S invited to submit, so check out the details on the Life of Dad site. The grand prize is a $500 Starbucks gift card (ohhhhhh, the cake pops that could buy!), second prize is a $200 Starbucks gift card, and third prize is a $100 Starbucks gift card. The contest ends August 31, 2013, so don't wait!

   As for me and mine, we're already sketching plans for a #Via pyramid. The kids want non-stop hot chocolate. What's your Starbucks Via Moment?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

#SuperMilkMan Contest To Meet Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson!

"Can ya' smeeeeeeeeeeeeeelll what The Rock is cookin'!?!" - The Rock

   Who wouldn't want to meet The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson? I mean, really!? He's an athlete, actor, advocate for so many great things, and one heck of a funny guy! Well, The Cheeky Daddy has partnered with Life Of Dad and The Breakfast Project campaign for the chance to meet this larger than life character!
   In the next few days, The Cheeky Daddy film crew will be producing a 15 second Instagram video to be posted on and other venues for viewing. View, stew, and share once you've seen it. If....when I win and meet The Rock, I'll give a loud shout out to my blogging peeps fo' sho'. Here are some of the details:

   Make the time and get yourself to the Twitter party this Thursday, 8/15 at 12pm EST. The biggest reason to join is the company. If THAT'S not enough to grace us with your presence, the hosting crew will be giving out 5 “The Rock – Milk Gift Packs” (valued at $98 each) and one Grand Prize of a 16GB iPad Mini Grand Prize (valued at $329)!
   Remember to follow me @thecheekydaddy, as well as our host crew @LifeOfDadShow and @MilkMoustache. Co-hosts are @ChrisRoutly, @TommyRiles, @CuteMonsterDad, and @DiaryDad with the event hashtag #SuperMilkMan.

   Don't forget to check out the #SuperMilkMan promo commercial. My kids love it and request to watch it at least a few times each day.

Can you ssssmmmeeeeeeeelll what The Cheeky Daddy is cookin!!??

The fine print: The Cheeky Daddy was compensated by Life of Dad for participation in the #SuperMilkMan promotion and contest. All opinions and praise are my own, but milk is good for ALL of us. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

@Terro Product Review - Solving The Ant Problem

"The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah."
   I miss my days living in the high desert of Salt Lake City, Utah, if only for the reason that they don't have the ant problems that Californian have. I was out of town for business last week and in the middle of an evening call with The Wife, she exclaimed, "Awe crap! Ants!" She battled them for an hour and they left her alone for a few days, until I returned home.
   So just yesterday morning I awoke to an small invasion force. They'd found the honey, and were making they're first assault. I answered with an initial water based paper towel defense. Upon realizing they'd found a weakness in our perimeter on multiple fronts, I switched to a more lethal any killer spray. It thinned the ranks of my six legged foe, but where there are a few, there will be thousands to follow. I sent a text to my father-in-law, a legend in the field of combating formicidae on a large scale. His answer was clear. Terro ant products are they way to go.
   I hit the local hardware store (Lowe's in my case). I bought two items. First, the Terro Liquid Ant Killer. This can be used in the home, up and away from children and pets. It is 5% borax, but to the ant it tastes like yummy waffle syrup. They eat, take home, and hopefully kill the colony. I placed a few drops on several small squares of cardboard and the ants flocked like pigs to a trough. The solution was not as thick as I thought it might be, so like they say in the commercial for the game Operation, "It takes a very steady hand!" I placed these first line barriers at each corner along the back splash of our counter, and a couple in the back of our cupboards for until the battle is over.
   We also chose to pick up a box of Terro Liquid Ant Baits, which acts as a barrier around the outside of the home. These are more of an "all in one" product. A plastic cup, about half the size of a applesauce cup, contains the sweet solution that the ants "love to death". You simply remove the stakes meant for keeping the plastic container in place on the ground, and push down on the plastic cup to break the seal. The fluid deposits into the reservoir. You place it in the desired location and let it do its job.
Reminder: Keep the tray level after you have punctured the container with the fluid inside. I was jostling it around to much afterward breaking the seal and spilled some on myself.
Beyond that, it's not that hard, and is a great way to handle an ant problem all by yourself.
   It went against all human nature to just leave the drops to do their job and NOT go after the line of ants myself. I even went online and watched the video by Terro, starring Stew Clark, "America's Ant Expert." He used the phrase "bait, wait, and exterminate." The Wife and I were skeptical, but trusted the experts. We did a top to bottom clean session, wiping down ALL surfaces.. We did not disturb the ants doing their thing, but hit EVERY other surface. We went to bed, feeling the phantom tickles all over our body from ants that weren't there. We both even had dreams about ants.
   I awoke early to go to work the next morning. While the shower water headed up, I headed downstairs and stood mouth agape at 98% of the ants gone. Only the odd one or two at each of the previously bustling locations were still around. The video states that it make take a day or two if the problem is bad, so I concede my case may be not as common. It left me confident that we could handle any ant army thereafter, and VERY happy with the @Terro products we purchased. You can find the company also on Twitter and Facebook.
   I wish all of you luck in your future ant warfare.
The fine print: Terro products were purchase by The Cheeky Daddy, and all opinions are my own. Some ants were harmed in the making of this post.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cousins - The Ultimate BFF

"Cousins are your very first friends." - Unknown
   I, The Cheeky Daddy, was a bit of a wall flower as youngster. I didn't attend dances, and remained on the quieter side around my friends who were all louder and more ready to fight for their airtime amongst each other. The only place I felt like I could be myself and be appreciated for it, was around my cousins. Friends from the first, cousins became a place to feel at home and comfortable in my own skin. Bound by blood, there is an inherent bond that exists between cousins, and I thought in my youth that it was only me that felt it, and only me that it happened to.
   Recently, our children got to spend some time around their cousins. It had been a while since our kids got to be around these particular children, and when we hooked up, it was as if no time had passed since our last visit. Fun was had, secrets were told, tents were put up in the basement, and so on. Rocks were thrown in ponds, bikes were ridden, and a stack of new memories were created. The Wife and I looked on in admiration of what was happening, and also in fond memory of what we both experienced ourselves back in the day.
   I know each family is different. Time, distance, and a host of other factors play into why we can or cannot create memories with extended family. I feel fortunate that my children are getting to participate in that part of family life. It certainly takes effort and work to get 'er done, but it's well worth it if possible. As a sister-in-law put it, "We've all got something that makes us different than everyone else, but if we can't put that aside and ignore it, we as a family will have a great time." She's right. Cousins can be the ultimate BFF. I hope we can keep the tradition going.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hidden Treasures In Family Heirlooms

"Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures,
but in the use made of them." - Napoleon Bonaparte

     My grandmother on my father's side passed away about 4 years ago. She was a widow of over 30 years, and had lived quietly as a Dodgers fan in the middle of the desert for all of that time. Her simple lifestyle was matched by her simple list of belongings. When I arrived at her home, the night before her funeral, most of the large and meaningful belongings were gone or accounted for by her children. The grandchildren were allowed to then mention anything they might want to remember our sweet matriarch by. I grabbed a wooden bar stool that I remember eating pancakes and tacos on while grandma cooked and cleaned while asking about our lives. Then, a favorite aunt pulled me aside and asked me to follow her.

   We headed to the closet in the hallway, to an open door and a mostly cleared out space. I'd never seen much of the closet of the previous 25 years, as it was chock full of stuff and you couldn't get past the jackets and such. Now it was empty, but for a few things on the shelves. My aunt said, "Since you and grandma shared a love for art and painting, the siblings agreed that you should have her art set." She handed me a wooden art kit that looked like it'd had seen a few years. I thanked her through tears and put it in my car.

   Upon returning home later the next day, I sat down at the dinner table with the art case, and opened it with no idea of what to find. I knew she was an amateur painter with some beautiful pieces hanging in her home that went to my father and his siblings. I lifted the lid and gazed down at the many tools of a fellow artist. Paint tubes that had been squeezed by my grandmothers hands. Brushes that had bits of paint still on them. I was feeling very connected to my grandmother, but felt a small hint of remorse that all the paintings she had done were spoken for. As I stared at the scene before me I noticed that the upper part of the case was actually a palate for painting.

   I reached up and slowly lifted it, sliding it out of the groves it was resting it. Small canvases peered out from underneath, and it was clear this was where she stored something to be kept from being crushed. I wasn't sure if they were blank or not until I pulled them out. There were many sheets of unused palate paper for painting, a few unused miniature canvases, and then the back of a slightly larger flat canvas. The back had a date from the 50's, and my heart began to race. I turned it over and beheld a wonderful landscape painting. I tried to hold my composure as I realized that I'd found a painting my grandmother had done.
   I called my aunt within days to declare what I'd found, so that I had a clear conscience. She said that she felt that it was meant to be mine, and I was to keep it. There are hidden treasures in family heirlooms that we must not dismiss. I have nothing of my grandfather's, as no one thought to keep anything of his. I will hold dear the things my grandmother used, that bind us as family and artists. One day, I will pass it on to another generation, and keep the tradition going. What treasures might exist in your families?


Monday, August 5, 2013

Treats and Desserts - Draw The Line

"And almost everything you'll see is eatable, edible.
I mean, you can eat almost everything." - Willie Wonka

   Anyone else have a treat monster living with them? They look like everyday children, but go nuts at the sound of the ice cream truck, or certain keywords like "dessert" or "treat". It's the sound of my youth and has been adopted by my own wee ones. Summer is highlighted by many things. The smell of a barbecue, kids running through sprinklers, and so on. Never to be left out is the ice cream truck. When you hear the faint sound of the simple lullaby, your heart pace quickens and you start to pat your pockets to see how much money you have. It all goes south when you decide that you're now a grownup who has your OWN money, and can spring for an Astro-pop anytime you want.

Watch out parents, for your children pick up on that VERY quickly.

   I met a family back in '94 while I spent a few years in southwest England. They had a few children, but none matched the evil in their youngest. He was around 3 years old, and a royal terror. He was a biter, kicker, nut puncher, etc. I began to fear any upcoming visit to his house. One day we were all hanging out, and I heart the faint sound of the ice cream truck approaching. As the mini-demon was winding to hit someone else with a stick, I saw his face go from anger to a blank stare. Then it turned from blank stare, to sheer terror. He screamed and ran to the back of the house, where it hid as far from sight as possible. I looked a the boy's father and asked what that was all about. He chuckled quietly and said, "I told him that it's the boogie man, and he drives around looking for kids to steal." He gave another quiet laugh, and that was that.

   We don't have to be THAT dedicated to the cause of squashing the treat monster. When it comes to treats and desserts, moderation in all things is a good motto. Know where to draw the line for your family. I've had to explain to my own little ones that dessert is not presented after EVERY meal (yes, they ask after breakfast, lunch, AND dinner). Through teaching and consistency we're getting there. You can too. Just don't use the boogie man. Please? That was quite the sight.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Adobe Kuler - A Decorator's Best Friend

"I found I could say things with color and shapes 
that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." 
- Georgia O'Keeffe

   The Wife and I are painting our upstairs rooms, art pieces, furniture, and anything else that has a surface for decorating our house. We caught the but some time ago, but have just in the last year, really taken off with it. Back in the day, as an artist, I came across a new web based program by Adobe called Kuler. This program is a decorator's best friend. Here's how it works. 
   When you visit the website, you can create and account to save any color schemes you've created. Or, if you're just looking for help with color on the fly, you can use the program for a short time and be done with it. The color schemes offered are analogous, monochromatic, triad, complimentary, compound, shades, and custom. You pick a color and it gives you the colors that go along with that choice, within your previously chosen color scheme. 
   It has helped with web design (when I tried my hand at it), computer illustration, and as of late is has helped with choosing colors for our decorating. You don't have to be an artist to use it, and The Wife has been quite impressed with how it's helps with her vision of what colors might go together while decorating our home, and even in her Oreo pop creations. 
   Take a peek and try it out. I hope it leaves your life more,....colorful.