Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Season on "The Fifth Grade"

Tonight was Parents Night at my son's school. Its an gathering early in the school year when all the parents go to school, meet the teachers and find out about what the kids have been working on in class and what they will be studying throughout the year. I am excited to hear all of the great projects, trips and subjects my son will experience this year, his last in elementary school. I am more excited for him, his world is opening up to him and even though its early in the year, he seems to have a better handle on the workload than in the past. He is really taken ownership and I like that. 

Upon entering his homeroom, his teacher greets us and we get a chance to peek in his desk (felt a little violating but I could not resist). I left him a short note, wishing him luck and trying not to get mushy, signed it "Love, Mom and Dad" and left it folded in the top bin. After meeting his other teachers, and a little scare about an assignment due Friday we did not hear about, overall we got a good vibe that he is in good hands. 

We walk in the door and my son is laying on the couch, watching Mythbusters. He sits up quickly, like he expected a "talk" about his schoolwork, responsibilities and focus, what he got was smiles, excitement and hugs. We get around to asking him about the assignment, which he proudly replies "I finished it and already handed it it." 

This is the start of a great year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blog World is high flying Fun

Being new to the blogging world, I thought I was alone in my neck of the woods talking about being a dad, from a man's point of view. Little did I know I was joining a group, a fraternity, a brotherhood of great dads all hitting the web to rave, rant and report about the adventures of raising children. This brotherhood is growing (like that one hair you keep plucking), growing to a point where we have some influence (of course this "influence" does not have any tangible weight in the household).

Which brings me to BlogWorld- New Media Expo 2010. I do not have much "me" time anymore, with work duties and family activities, but Blogworld is a place that would allow me to relax and surround myself in New Media frenzy . The conference will allow me to experience what is out there in the Blog universe, learn from the experts and hang with my fellow dad/blog enthusiasts. But the lack of funds crushed my dreams of walking the floor of the conference, gathering pens, keychains and beer bottle insulators, in other words not being able to spend the time with the brotherhood. That's when I read about The Dads Talking Blog World Expo Giveaway. The great folks at DadsTalking worked out a deal with ever supportive Southwest Airlines and the friends running the show at BlogWorld New Media Expo 2010 to award a lucky dad blogger with the chance to participate in the First and Only Industry Wide Conference , Trade Show & Media Event for all New Media. I thank SouthwestAir, Blogworld and Dadstalking for the opportunity.

I hope I am that lucky winner. 

ps. I did not receive any compensation for this post (not yet anyway)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Earn your Stripes

"Row ten, here we are!" The boys say in unison as they scramble into the row. We sit down on the little numbers representing our seats in the long stretch of benches encompassing the stadium. We are here to watch the Princeton Tigers take on the Lafayette Leopards in football. The two boys sit on numbers 11 and 12, my wife and I on 13 and 14 and my sister and her husband on 15 and 16. We do not have any connection to Princeton University except for geographical as my sister lives in the next town, but it seemed like a unique event to experience, a college football game. The experience was an eye opener for the boys, who's futures in college are only a fews years away. Walking through the campus towards the stadium, the boys felt the spirit, the school pride exhibited by the students and the vibe of the big game.

During the pre-game, the rambunctious band, dressed in black pants, white shirts and plaid sport coats, played silly games on the field and the drill team practiced their cheers. When it was time to announce the team, the band ran around in a choreographed confusion until all the silliness resulted in a Mardi Gras like march. The crowd appreciated the fun on the field and cheered as the team ran out of the tunnel, the players jumping and bounding around, getting fired up for the game. The boys loved the celebration, pointing out silly outfits in the band and looking for my son's number in the sea of players (his number is 64). As he spots the number, he quickly searches through the roster to locate the name of the player. My son is trying to recognize the line blocks and my nephew focuses on the kickers and envisioning using his soccer skills to make the field goals. My wife comments on how fast the players are and cringes when a player is slow getting off the turf. I am thinking about my own education and not having the means to go away to college, but am in my glory to be here with my family.

The game is close, each team taking turns stopping the other and fighting hard for scores. Then it starts to look like Princeton is struggling on offense, and are losing ground to Lafayette, but the boys keep their faith in their newly adopted team. With ten minutes left in the third quarter we decide to make our way out of the stadium and then home, my son has his own game to prepare for the next day and did want to get home too late. As we walk to the car, the boys recap the highlights of the evening and how much fun it would be for both of them to go to Princeton, a comment brought a smile to my face.

We finally walk in the door after the long ride home. The boys wash up, brush their teeth and change for bed. I open up my computer and look up the score. As I glance at the results, I run into the bedroom, the room is dark and the boys are laying in bed. "Guess what boys, Princeton won 36-33 in Double Overtime!" The boys jump up and cheer for the win and for Princeton. Go Tigers!

Dad Bloggers - Street Cred

CNN's Drew Griffin, Josh Levs and Reynolds Wolf discuss the changing face of fatherhood.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day Planner

"Yes! Today is Thursday" My son excitedly yelps. He is charged up because his cousin is spending the weekend with us. It is rare that they spend a fall weekend together that does not involve a holiday. Both boys are packed up with activities that it's hard to squeeze in some face time. Their weekend sports are scheduled at similar times and they do not go to the same school. When they do spend time together, they are like brothers and best friends. The real fun for me is to just watch them entertain each other and enjoy themselves. 

It is a shame that the cousins do not see each other more often but its not their fault. We over schedule our kids with one activity after another and ourselves as parents with our attempt to keep them engaged, and its difficult to purposely have nothing scheduled. This weekend will be different, as after my son's tutor, football practice, a visit to my sister, going to a sporting event, and then my son's football game on Sunday, the plan is for forty-eight hours of untethered brotherly togetherness, and memorable times.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Size Matters

"Dad, can I have these socks?" My son asks while sitting on the couch, putting on my favorite socks. "I guess." I reply in a not so favorable voice. My son is constantly trying to claim my clothes and other various items as his. He needs a smock for school, quickly my t-shirt drawer is searched. Can't find a pair of socks, one of my pairs will do. Needs something to sleep in, another t-shirt bites the dust... 

One day my son was getting dressed for school. I enter his room to announce that "His Majesty's" breakfast is ready. He is standing there with a t-shirt bunched around his head while trying to maneuver it with one hand. The other hand is holding up with what appears to be a pair of gym shorts more that two sizes too big. I watch him wrestle the shirt down and attempting to adjust his body into a position where the shorts will rest on his hips. I glances up at me watching him and while responding to his breakfast call, shifts his body just slightly enough that the shorts drop to the floor.  He now uses both hands to pull the shorts up, up so high that the elastic waist band is resting on his pushed out belly. He then cinches up the string so tight that it looks like he is wearing a drawer string sack. In a startled voice I ask "Are those your shorts?" "No their yours, I just like them." he replies in this matter-of-fact tone. "Are you serious? Take them off!" I bark back in a laughable manner. After fumbling with the shorts for another minute and realizing that no matter how much cinching and tucking he did to secure the shorts, he gave up and changed into a more sizable attire. 

Needless to say over that weekend we drove to Modells and purchased a matching pair, just a few sizes smaller...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summary- extended edition

Riding home from football practice:

Me: Looks like you had a good practice...
Son: I did
Me: How was school today?
Son: Good.
Me: Did you have homework?
Son: Yes
Me: Did you finish it?
Son: Yes
Me: What subjects?
Son: Math, social studies, and reading
Me: You know you can save one thing for the morning so you don't have to rush..
Son: But I did not rush
Me: Do you want me to check it?
Son: Ok dad

Wrap up of the day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Something my wife and I struggle in finding the right balance of food and exercise for our son.

“Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges that the public has ever faced.” – Jeffrey Levi, Executive Director of the Trust for America’s Health
We’ve all heard that childhood obesity is on the rise. The figures support the claim, with more than one in three children classified as overweight or obese. In the past forty years, obesity rates in the United States have soared among all age groups, with the highest percentage of growth among those ages 6 to 11. President Obama recently declared September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, in conjunction with his wife Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. From his proclamation, Each year, nearly $150 billion are spent to treat obesity-related medical conditions. This is not the future to which we want to consign our children, and it is a burden our health care system cannot bear.”
So what can we, as parents, do to help our children?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Valley Center boy collects cans to save dad's life -

A man on a mission to save his fathers life, and he's only seven-years old. Reed Sanderson organized a can drive to help raise money for his father.
"I feel such joy. I can't believe a seven-year old could cause this much commotion in the community It's awesome," said Reeds dad Brian Sanderson.
Doctors diagnosed Brian with vanishing bile duct syndrome, a condition that is killing his liver. When Reed found out his dad needed a liver transplant, he was quick to help.
"I'm going to turn all these in to help my dad get a new liver," said Reed.
"Reed just said one day if I get enough cans will they give dad a liver? I don't know why or how he came up with that in that way but that's how he describes it," said Reed's mom.

To read Article:
Valley Center boy collects cans to save dad's life -

Friday, September 17, 2010

Confidence Game

"You can tell me." "You can tell me anything..." "Don't worry, I only want to help you..." I have an extremely close relationship with my son. I have used these phrases time and time again and I always get the same responses "I know", "I do" "Nothing is bothering me..." My issue is that I do not always believe him. I am not worried about bad behavior or disciplinary issues with my ten year old son, I am concerned that when things involving self doubt, apprehension and confusion set in, will he come to me for guidance? 

One of these guidance issues is friends. My wife and I are concerned about his apprehension to want to see friends outside of school or a specific activity. My son can be outgoing in the classroom, and especially in an athletic setting. He plays many sports with a wide diversity of kids in our town as well as in neighboring towns. He has been going to Hebrew school for three years at the same place with the same class. Our concern is when those activities are over, he is not being proactive in seeing them in his free time. When we question him he says "He enjoys his alone time." I am puzzled by his lack of close friendships but when I want to speak to him about it he quiets up. I do not know how to guide him through the thought process, especially when he repeatedly states "There is nothing wrong." Could it be that he really does like his alone time and I am making a big deal out of nothing? Over the summer we struggled to get him to call friends to hang out. He fought it hard, too the point that my wife or myself would dial the phone to make the first call. Then he would make the subsequent calls and after a few kids became excited to hang out, my son would become enthusiastic to see them. While spending time together, the kids would be like very best buddies, chatting and enjoying their company during that period. If they call him, he immediately lights up and is eager to see them.  So why is it that that feeling does not propel him to be proactive the next time?  I do not want to badger him into an uncomfortable situation or make him feel like an outcast, so I am struggling to find the correct course. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Game of the Week

Topps releases their popular card game in football form. Real practice was rained out tonight so we pulled out the next best thing. After reading the rules, we are ready to throw down. Are you ready for some Football!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


"How does it look?" my son asks as he holds up is writing notebook for school. His homework assignment for school is to decorate the cover. He sits with focus at his computer, on the endless search for the perfect pictures to capture the essence of his character and interests, after all, this book will hold his writings and assignments for the next ten months. 

I look at the cover. Two pictures of his favorite football players and the cover of Madden 11. I say "Nice cutting and tape job, I like the layout." 

I look at the first entry one page one, and inside the paragraph, this statement catches my eye, "One thing I want to improve is my spelling and writing." I think, even though some of the words are misspelled, I like the enthusiasm...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Morning Wake up

"Creeeaak", the door slowly opens and my son lumbers out of his bedroom, shirt twisted up and his hair pushed to one side. I watch him from the kitchen, packing up lunch. He motions towards the couch, a favorite morning spot and reaches for the remote. I casually walk into the living room and say, "Good morning, what are you doing?" "I want to watch Sportscenter.", he replies. "You know we are going to do no TV in the morning this year..." I state. My son drops his head and lumbers back into his room. I go back into the kitchen and finish packing his lunch.

Welcome to the Fifth Grade...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Peaks and Valleys (and more valleys)

"Five, four, three, two, one!" The team screams and jumps for joy, a great win to start the season. My son's team on the other hand, walk off the field dejected. The team lines up for the ceremonial hand shake, players wet and cold after a long day, ending in an ugly loss. Their game started at 4:00pm but all players needed to be at the field at 11:30am for the opening day festivities. After the opening day ceremony, the players watched the other games, ran around and went through emotional highs and lows in an attempt to occupy their extended time. As coaches the struggle was trying to keep them loose, while laboring to slowly build their energy to peak at kickoff. Nothing worked.

"For those who have played sports before, you all have had one of these days, a bad loss." The head coach says, "And now that is out of our system..." he pauses, then exclaims, "We as coaches failed to get you ready, and that will not happen again.", then looks at each dispirited face, "But each one of you need to reflect on your performance today and think about your commitment to your teammates and to the team." "We go back to work on Tuesday, come ready to amaze me, I love you everyone put your hands in..."

Powerful words
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Dads-to-be get lowdown on parenting


Enio Araujo now understands his pregnant wife's pain a little better.
After Araujo put on a 33-pound pregnancy suit appropriately named the empathy suit, he now has a better idea of what his wife needs to have a less stressful pregnancy and delivery.
``Hearing my wife talk about lack of sleep, back pains, if I could get her a pillow, now I get how she's feeling,'' Araujo said after walking around the room trying to bend down and pick up shoes. The baby is due Sept. 27.
His greater understanding is due in large part to the Boot Camp for New Dads program held monthly in the Esther L. Grossman Center (a department of Memorial Healthcare System) in Hollywood.

Read more:

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Great Milk Incident

"Go back in your room and make your bed." I have repeated that request to my son every morning. He does not have many chores around the house, make his bed, collect the garbage, small things like that. Once in a while we ask him to help with cleaning his room, and after a series of sighs and huffs, occasionally mans the vacuum cleaner. Not even an allowance is a incentive to do more chores. 

As a child I had similar chores, cleaning my room every Saturday morning before I can leave the house and taking out the garbage every night, were some of the regulars. An allowance was few and far between as money was on a tight leash. One thing my mother did when she found out that the community center in the project where I grew up had set up a milk program, she signed up right away. The milk cost about half of what the local supermarket was selling milk for so it was going to be a big savings in my house with four kids. The milk came in one style, quart containers of whole milk, no low fat or skim, and especially no soy as this was the seventies, where peanut butter was safe, white bread was healthy, and whole milk made the body strong.

The milk program was set up like this, you order a couple of days in advance how much milk you needed, then a few times a week you went to the community center to pay and pick it up. My mother would order the milk and it was my chore to go before school and pick up the milk. Even though your order is reserved, when you arrive at the center, you wait on a line and when you got to the table, an elderly lady would look up you name in a long, thin red leather ledger book. She would run her finger down the green pages, would stop at your name, check your order and pencil in your payment. I would wait on line with mostly elderly patrons, they all knew me and would let me move up to the front of the line if the delivery truck was late (as it was often) so I would not be late for school. I would collect my quarts in double bagged paper bags and walk home, making sure I had no leaky cartons and the count was accurate.

The weekday orders were easy, the milk would just need to last a couple of days before I lumbered out to the center to get a fresh order. The weekends were longer, a couple of extra quarts did not pose a problem, I would just take two bags and balance out the load, pretending my twelve year old body was holding up the pillars of an ancient castle and I needed to be strong as to not let the castle crumble. The bigger dilemma occurred on the long holiday weekends, where because of the Monday holiday, my pickups on Friday needed to last until the following Wednesday. That's where I needed a pair of extra hands to assist in my completion of the milk pickup, and my mother volunteered my older sister.

Now, my sister and I were not adversarial, in fact we pretty much got along on a regular basis, but this is my chore, I knew the routine and did not want my older sister commandeering my mission. The long weekends did pose a logistics issue and I knew I needed help, but when I found out the number of quarts my mother ordered, I knew problems were dawning. Twenty-one, my mother wrote down on the small envelope containing the payment. I stared at the number again, "Twenty-One?" "Yes, and take you sister with you, you will need the help." As we both leave the building, I am silent. Twenty-one, I say to myself, and with conjuring up my keen math skills, conclude that twenty-one does not divide equally into two, which means one of us will be shouldering the extra quart, and as manager of this mission, it will not be me. 

We arrive at the center and after introducing my sister to Benny, Eunice and the other elders running the milk program, we collect our order and are on our way home. I, of course, have two bags, each containing five quarts. My sister also has two bags, one with five and the other with five plus the twenty-first troublemaker. We get about fifty yards and my sister starts complaining to me about the extra weight and how heavy the bags are and I was mean by making my load lighter. I am getting annoyed with her and start complaining back about how I do this chore, how I have to come in the rain and snow and I miss the good cereal and playing before school and other stuff. Now we are standing on the corner, our bags on the floor and arguing. "I do not want to carry the extra one!" she says and takes it out of her bag and places the container in one of mine. I then proceed to grab it out of my bag and return it to hers. The situation is heating up as we both maintain our stance regarding the single quart. My sister is fuming now, picks up the quart, places it on the concrete sidewalk and starts to walk away. I pick up the quart, run up to her and drop it in her bag. She again takes out the quart, places it on the sidewalk and resumes walking. I am raging now, I have lost my command of the milk pickup and need to up my authority. I run up to the quart, grab it and yell to my sister, who is still walking, "I will leave this milk here if you do not come and take it!" She turns and smiles; as my sister, she knows that I am usually not an ultimatum kind of guy and eventually I will pick up the milk and follow her home. I grab the trouble maker and hold it over my head and call out my sister's name. She stops, expecting again for me to push the issue and resumes walking. As she turns I grip the quart and with all my might bring my arm down like a rocket, and with it the quart of milk. The sound the quart of milk makes as it meets the concrete sidewalk startles me, and I jump back from the explosion. Milk erupts around me like a wave crashing against a pier, as my blue Keds and school pants are splattered with creamy whole milk. My sister screeches as she watches me destroy number twenty one. 

After the incident, I pick up my bags and we both walk home in silence, and after calming down, realize I have to now explain to my mother that we "lost one" between the center and home. We walk up the two flights of steps and into out apartment. We take the bags and place them on the table for my mother to put away. My mother notices my pants are wet and asks what happen. My sister and I both look at each other and I tell my mother that one dropped as we walked home. My mother looks at me, then looks at my sister who seconds my account of the events. My mother is not happy and I am sad about the whole incident. I feel like I let down my mission, and my mother. From then on I always took the balance of the odd count, trying again not to let the columns of that castle crumble, even when there is an extra pillar.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Really, Who is this marketed to...

It is now September and that means the toy season is right around the corner. There are many great educational toys, building toys and games that are positive for our kids. There are some toys that are simply of the fun nature, not necessarily mind building but bring joy to a child's face, little plastic town people , a giant stuffed animal, or a remote control monster truck. Then there are some that come out that baffle me completely. I would have liked to have sat in on the meeting then this toy was pitched:

Pole Dancing Doll:
"Hey do I have a toy idea for you..and do you have any singles?"