Saturday, December 30, 2006

www.longislanddad.com

If you're reading this it really dosen't matter how you got here, but I wanted to annouce that Long Island Dad, still hosted at Blogger, now has a new domain name -- simply:
www.longislanddad.com

While it makes no difference now, it may in the future as I develop another site. So for now longislanddad.blogspot.com and longislanddad.com are one in the same.
Also I have a new email:

CBF@longislanddad.com

Thanks for reading!

"Real" Men Do Vacuum

I have to vacuum everyday, sometimes twice a day, sometimes three times. We live in a rural area, have a large gravel driveway, a 4 year old who loves his dirt, and two dogs and a cat. I have learned quite a few tricks to effective floor maintenance over the years. Below is some of my acquired knowledge:

  • Use a vacuum that’s bag-less. (I’d go broke buying bags if I didn’t.) I use a Hoover knock-off of the Dyson. It works just as well for a quarter of the price. Ah, cyclonic action that never loses suction. Test drive all different models. I research a new vacuum like a new nail gun. Nowadays I use a vacuum much more than my great collection of self contained Paslode nailers.
  • Buy a 25’ shop vacuum extension hose (the small diameter one) from a home center (i.e. The Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) and attach it to your vacuum’s hose. You can either use aluminum tape or large hose clamps. This lets you use all the attachments two rooms away without having to lug the machine around. Also you can clean hard floors in a room where people are sleeping, because the noisy machine is down the hall. Also helps when vacuuming the blades of ceiling fans, or basement stairs.
  • Clean the vacuum out in the garage using your air compressor. Make sure to wear a dust mask. The result is a canister and filter that resemble a new machine.
  • Buy a shop vacuum brush attachment. The ones that come with a regular vacuum just don’t cut it.
  • Vacuuming is easier than sweeping, not as much bending over, plus it does a better job.
  • Vacuum when babies are little. They get used to the noise and it doesn’t wake them. Infants have an uncanny ability to tune out sounds they don’t need to process. As a bonus, when they get older they’ll want to help.
  • Replace the brush roller belt monthly. They stretch out faster than you think.
  • Don’t bury a vacuum away in a closet where it can’t be gotten to easily. Dog fur waits for no man and “Dustbusters” just don’t cut it for us “more power” freaks.
Yes, to all the Mom readers, I do tweak and modify most household appliances to suit my needs, and No, nothing has blown up...yet.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 29, 2006

"Dad, My Socks are Boring!"

Where do they learn this stuff?

The other day, the Helper walked into the living room and the following conversation took place:

The Helper: “My socks are boring!”

Me: “What?”

The Helper: “My socks are BORING! I need my Christmas ones.”

Me: “Okay, give me a minute and I’ll be right there.”

For those of you who do this for a living you understand that being bored, never, ever happens. I am never bored nor have I ever uttered that word. I can say the same for the Mommy as well. Also, I’m positive; Mickey, Bob the Builder and Handy Manny have never said something was “boring.” Okay, now I’m intrigued, I have to get to the bottom of this. I go into his room, but can’t find the aforementioned “Christmas socks,” which were a Christmas gift -- obviously. Mommy must have put them away – in plain sight -- so I can’t find them. I explain he’ll have to wait until Mommy gets home.

The Helper: “But Dad, my socks are boring!”

Me: “Buddy, why are they boring?”

The Helper: (Lifting a foot in the air) “See!”

Me: (Realizing that’s all I’m getting, I respond) “Mommy will fix it when she gets home honey, Okay?”

The Helper: “Okay.”

The Mommy came home and I explained today’s crisis. She went into his room and said, “They’re right here.” The Helper put on his Christmas socks and all was right with the world. Mommy = Hero, Daddy = Incompetent Fashion Guru. Moments later the Helper returns to the living room and is wearing the “boring” socks over the new Christmas ones.

The Mommy: “Honey, why do you have those socks on over your new ones?”

The Helper: (No response – He exits stage right!)

I guess he didn’t want to get the new ones dirty. Who’s he kidding – dirt on MY floors?!? I don’t think so! So now, not only do I have to make sure he’s clean, fed, entertained, educated, and exercised, I have to make sure the daily apparel choices aren’t “boring.” White socks (or gray), jeans (or sweatpants), and a solid color T-Shirt (with some sport or truck design) is the official little boy uniform. I think he needs to read the manual again! As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some Peace...and Quiet, Please!

(Note: This post has been edited since it's original posting this morning, please re-read for some additional "coincidences.")


I never thought I’d say this; I’m looking forward to the cold, dark winter days of January. A simpler time. A peaceful time. Or so I hope. The holiday season is fun, exciting, and exhausting. The kids now have new items to keep their attention for at least a week. I have some new books and hopefully some time to read them. For some reason the Helper has gone back to taking an afternoon nap. I think he’s as exhausted from the holidays as we are. I don’t know how long it will last but I’m taking advantage. His nap just happens to coincide with the Baby’s nap – I’m good. Two full hours of bliss from noon ‘till two. Ah, sweet pleasures; an uninterrupted lunch, followed by some reading in my big comfy chair. Can’t do any housework as it might wake the sleeping princes.

This holiday season has been filled with many challenges. On the Friday before Christmas, the Mommy got into a car accident on the way home from work.

Christmas Miracle Number One: She was okay, still a little sore though. The car suffered some major fender damage but nothing I can’t fix. And, as it turned out, a very dear friend of ours was dropping off her beautiful new SUV for me to use, ten minutes after the accident happened. She was leaving for Palm Springs CA the next day for a 10 day vacation. I had volunteered to take care of her pets while she was away, but, needed the use of her car to do it. Miracles never cease!

Christmas Miracle Number Two: I researched all the parts I would need to fix her car, on the internet, expecting at least $1,000 bill. To my surprise and delight all the parts (with shipping) came to about $200. Better than the $2500 the auto body places would have charged – not to mention the increase in our insurance premiums.

Christmas Miracle Number Three: We almost ran out of home heating oil on Christmas Day – with all the activity I forgot to check the status. It’s been warmer than usual here and so I don’t check my fuel supply that often. No company would deliver over the holiday weekend so we had to pray it wouldn’t run out. A good friend of my neighbor’s came over Christmas morning with 15 gallons of fuel for me -- enough to last the entire week. He wanted us to not have to worry about it; a Christmas Angel right there in my driveway.

Christmas Miracle Number Four: On Tuesday my neighbor had my oil tank filled and paid for it – told me it was for all I do for them all year long. Another neighbor sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers that arrived Tuesday afternoon -- just because. We had seen them Christmas Day and exchanged some gifts – we never expected anything else. The spirit of Christmas is alive and well here in our small town.

Christmas Miracle Number Five: Three healthy, beautiful, smart children. A father-in-law, that despite being in the hospital for a few weeks in the fall, celebrated his 98th Christmas with us. A mother-in-law who loves and cares for us -- no matter what. A roof over our heads, a job, food in the pantry, health insurance, heat and hot water and a positive outlook for the coming year.

Children learn by observing adult’s actions. My children see me all year helping out others. My neighbors know they can count on me at any time to help them with any project – I’m the one with all the tools – actually a separate building on our property devoted to storing all my acquired treasures. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a retired Home Improvement Contractor and have been doing home repairs my entire life. When one of my friends or family needs my advice or help I love it – I get to keep my skills honed. I often bring the Helper along to watch. I used to bring my daughter but she’s outgrown the novelty. While we try to shield our children from “adult” problems, especially around the holidays – some things can’t be hidden. That’s okay, because then they get to see the goodness in others and hopefully assimilate the kindness and generosity into their own character. They learn that no one is an island and that all problems can be fixed if people come together in a common cause. My children have Hope and Compassion in their hearts, not Fear and Dread, that's all I can ask for...again, as always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remembering Decency, Integrity and Honor…

As a young boy I lived through the turmoil of Vietnam, Nixon, and Watergate. I remember being glued to my parents’ one and only black and white television when former President Nixon resigned and President Ford was sworn into office. My parents are well educated and very political – my father to the right, my mother to the left. This made for some very lively dinner conversation. I was young and a sponge. I absorbed all their perspectives and got to hear both sides of every issue. When it came to President Ford, all I remember were the words in the title of this post – Decency, Integrity and Honor. My mother, left, did not believe a deal was cut to pardon President Nixon. She might have been a liberal then, but wasn’t buying the conspiracy theories anymore.

I remember a feeling of stability return to a very tumultuous time. President Ford was a man who received a lot of flack about his actions but not about his character. Unlike his recent predecessors no one could attack his honor, integrity, or dignity, though they tried. President Gerald R. Ford was a good man whatever your political posture. His decision to pardon President Nixon was political suicide and he knew it. But, it was the right thing to do at the time. Let’s remember the debacle that congress and former President Clinton went through over just a young intern. Could you imagine how long and drawn out the process would’ve been with a “real” scandal. Too long. He fixed that one Sunday afternoon, without any of his staff’s support or for that matter knowledge. One swipe of a pen and he put a country back on the road to heal, forgive, and strengthen itself. He sacrificed himself in the process. This is the definition of honor if you ask me.

“My Fellow Americans our long National nightmare is over…” (President Gerald R. Ford commenting on the Watergate Scandal)

If only recent President’s were able to speak these words.

I long for the days when Presidents’ are revered and respected. We may not like their decisions or actions – that’s okay – we can always “try” to vote them out. Remember the Presidency is term limited. They’re not Kings; they’re men doing a God’s job. I will miss you Mr. President -- May God Bless you and your family.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Santa Was Here, But He Left!"


My wife and I had Christmas Eve all planned out right down to the last minute. In the afternoon we would visit my in-laws, food consumption and gift exchanging -- check. On the way home she and I would get coffee and ride around our neighborhood to look at everyone's holiday illumination -- check. Upon arriving at our residence children would receive baths, track Santa's progress on the computer, get a call from Nannie, and off to bed -- check. Things were rolling right along -- like a well oiled machine -- except my wife and I hadn't planned on feeding ourselves, but that's what coffee's for, right? Especially, after my in-laws had just given us the ultimate coffee maker -- a Cuisinart Grind & Brew. If you're a coffee drinker there's no better machine.

Okay, kids in bed, coffee done -- now the waiting game begins! As I've mentioned before we have a CCTV system for the boys' rooms. Great for just this purpose. It allows us to make sure everyone's asleep so we can give Santa a heads up. Finally, around midnight, my wife had to resort to threatening the Helper -- you know -- the typical, "Santa's not coming if you don't go to sleep..." The threat had been changed from the previous, "...until you go to sleep," version. He's almost four and it was just too much for him -- he was ready to explode.

Then at 1 p.m. she pulled out all the stops, "Santa was just here, right up on the roof, and he left. He said he'd be back in a half hour and if you're not asleep he's going back to the North Pole with your presents." The girl's good, ten minutes later -- sound asleep. Santa arrived and all was good. Except that we figured we had only about three hours of sleep ahead. I woke up around 6:30 a.m. a made a pot of delicious java. I drank my wonderful coffee while I waited for the mayhem to begin. Well, long story short, the Helper did not rise until 10 a.m. -- sure he was up until one. Christmas began a little later than usual yesterday. After some company in the afternoon my wife finally made, her and I, something to eat -- pancakes, bacon, and muffins. Scheduled for brunch, actually eaten around 7 p.m.

So much for scheduling to the minute. Next year, no schedules, kids go to bed at 3 p.m. and I'm ordering pizza. Now that's what I call a tradition!

Funny Story of the Day:
Some of the Helper's gifts were packaged in small gift bags with tissue paper. When he was opening his first one, Mommy asked, "What did Santa bring you, honey?"
Without missing a beat the child responded, "Garbage."
See -- should've gone to sleep when you were supposed to.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas To All!


Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the day!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Materialism vs. Full-Time Child Rearing: The Battle Rages On

I was ready to let this one go, until I started reading the comments posted in the forum section at ABC News. Last night, ABC New’s Nightline ran a story on stay-at-home-dads. While the structure and context of the story is still the same old stereotype, I appreciate the exposure. Our friend RebelDad has some thoughts on this as well. Visit his latest post.

While reviewing the forum discussions on last night’s show I came across the post below:

ALPHA FEMALE AND BETA MALE REPORT SILLY

Posted: Dec 21, 2006 11:57 PM

This report is ridiculous because it is so unrepresentative of a vast majority of Americans. Who are your trying to reach with this? Only a small number of people in this country have the financial freedom to make this choice, yet you take as your an example as your example a couple who live in a huge Manhattan apartment, Manhattan, where the wife is a National TV anchor. If one person makes enough money to support the entire family, you can do this, but this report only speaks to a small number of real Americans who need two paychecks to get by.

This is my reply post:

Re: Re: ALPHA FEMALE AND BETA MALE REPORT SILLY

Posted by: LONGISLANDDAD

Posted: Dec 22, 2006 11:57 AM

As a New York Stay-At-Home-Dad for almost four years, I can tell you that your comment is far from the truth. You speak of "real" Americans who need two paychecks to "survive.” Let's look at what that means; two cars, large mortgage, all the new electronic toys, dining out, how could you ever live without these things? Well when you put your children before materialism it's easy. My wife and I live on a very average income with two young children. No one goes hungry, we live in a nice house, and I even have a big screen HDTV. I can show you that the small number of people you talk about who "can" make this choice is nonsense! It's just that people aren't willing to make selfless sacrifices, not even for their children. Now that's SAD!


P.S. They are asking for SAHD's in the New York area to appear on a follow-up show. I immediately signed-up, and will wait for the phone to ring.

The Spirit of Christmas

I think one of the most important things to teach our children is the act of charity. It balances the ever increasing consumerism being taught by the 24 hour eMedia. Seeing as most children don’t have their own checkbooks, it’s more important for them to use their time and talents to help others. A good lesson for the rest of us as well.

Recently, my – almost 12 year old -- daughter, a member of the traveling soccer team, was required to get up early one Saturday morning and do community service. The local league had made it mandatory for all players, as a team, to participate in some sort of charitable work. What a great rule! While this is not a requirement for professional sports, most big league players also donate their time and money to those less fortunate, though not ALL of them. My little girl grumbled at the thought of an early rise on a weekend, but she got up and met her team and off they went. She’s a better person for it, although, she probably doesn’t see that yet.

That reminded me of another experience I had a few years ago when I taught 2nd grade Sunday school. One of my students, a girl, was having a birthday party. Unprompted, she asked her mother if it was okay if her guests brought non-perishable food items instead of gifts. Why? So that once everyone was gathered at her house the parents would take the children down to the local food pantry and fill the shelves. Wow! Now that’s a charitable 7 ½ year old. Yes, her parents are extremely proud. They’re definitely doing something right. She also happened to be one of my best students and probably knew more scripture than I did.

When my wife taught a class, she had two classroom aides, 11 year old best friends, who had decided, again unprompted, that for their school’s citizen project they would collect books, videos, and tapes, to send to our soldiers in Iraq. That project grew to be a huge event, collecting hundreds and hundreds of items. The postage was paid for by adult donations. Those girls definitely made a contribution to the war effort. It all started with a small idea, supportive parents, and the willingness to put others first.

My, almost 4 year old, Helper, has been playing with a stuffed Santa that resides under our tree. When you squeeze Santa he says, “Remember, the spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” He’s been taking this toy everywhere and has memorized the recording. Now I just have to explain – in 4 year old terms – what it means. Wish me luck! Children learn by example; as adults, what example are we setting? Again, as always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wants and Needs: My "Wish" List

As this holiday season revs into high gear, I am starting to reflect on this past year. With all the talk of gift lists and New Year’s resolutions I find myself thinking about my own personal wants and needs. One of the things we’re charged to do, as parents, is teach the difference between these two. Over the past couple of weeks I have been putting a list together – in my head – of what I WANT and what I really NEED. While the list below is by no means finished, all inclusive, or in any particular order, it’s a start. I will add to it as I think of new ones. Again, as always, thanks for reading.

I NEED every child to experience Love, Hope, Faith and Joy, every minute of everyday.

I WANT a 15” LCD TV for the kitchen.

I NEED doctors and scientists to find causes and cures for AIDS, Cancer (All Types), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Crohn’s, Depression, Mental Illness, SIDS and all other devastating human diseases.

I WANT a new electric razor.

I NEED every child to have as much food as they want.

I WANT a free unlimited account at iTunes.

I NEED our leaders to find a solution for the situation in Iraq.

I WANT an uninterrupted afternoon nap everyday.

I NEED Israelis’ and Palestinians to find a way to coexist peacefully.

I WANT a free weekly cleaning service until my children leave for college.

I NEED every child in foster care to find loving, caring parents.

I WANT my wife to get a big fat raise.

I NEED to hug my kids everyday.

I WANT a vacation 6 times a year.

I NEED our elected officials to care more about their constituency’s needs and less about fundraising for re-election.

I WANT the kitchen to be magically clean every morning.

I NEED the genocide in Darfur to end.

I WANT PS3 – if only to turn around and sell it on eBay.

I NEED to tell my wife “I Love You” as much as I can.

I WANT a new car that never breaks down or requires gas.

I NEED my children to be smarter than I am.

I WANT a voice recognition program – that works – for my computer so I don’t have to type all this.

I NEED every person to devote some of their time and talents to charity on a regular basis.

I WANT my children to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth fairy, forever.

I NEED everyone who is capable and wants a job to have one.

I WANT a coffee maker that anticipates my needs.

I NEED every child to experience the joy of reading.

I WANT people to read Long Island Dad everyday.

I NEED all homelessness to end.

I WANT diapers that change themselves.

I NEED Social Security and Health Care in America to be fixed NOW!

I WANT to be a better father.

I NEED to be a better father.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Daddy, I'm Stuck!"

Last night, while I was feeding the baby in my big comfy chair, a little voice calls from the kitchen. The Helper was having dinner at the kitchen table – this can be a 5 minute or 5 hour process. “Daddy, I’m stuck, can you help me?” he calls out. Not being overly concerned, as he often thinks he’s stuck when he’s not, I glance through the dining room to the kitchen to survey the situation. Well he wasn’t cryin’ “wolf” this time. Sure enough, his little arm had gotten wedged between the rungs on the back of the chair. I quickly put the baby down and went to the aid of my trapped cub.

To my surprise, he really was stuck – but good. Trying not to rip off a limb, I rotated his arm, slid it up and down to try and free him. No luck! Being a carpenter in a past life I knew the chair would not get the better of me, it’s wood and I own about twenty different saws. But wait; as much as we might want to, let’s not resort to power tools quite yet. Especially, if after I turned the chair into a pile of sawdust, Mommy came home and presented a simple solution in hindsight. Let’s try to use our heads. If his arm went in it has to come out, right? Right! Well The Helper and I put on our thinking caps and figured out that maybe we could twist the rung to provide enough clearance for the captured appendage. One, two, three and he’s free! “Thanks Dad, you’re the best!” First, Santa on Sunday and now this – TIME magazine was right, I am Person of the Year!

I examined the boy’s arm and found no permanent damage. Now, he was more concerned about eating dinner -- love that 4 year old attention span. I went back to Baby and his only concern – finishing the bottle we started.

Today’s Lesson’s: 1. While a home might be “baby proofed” it can never be 100% “fool” proof. 2. Not every problem requires a reciprocating saw in it’s solution. (Although, I will continue to measure corrective action based on horsepower.)

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cargo Logistics: A "Good" Boy's Solution

Doing a great job of promoting the holiday hype, our local fire department rides Santa around the neighborhood on the Sunday before Christmas. They’ve done this every year we’ve lived here and continue to do a great job. These local heroes give up their time on a Sunday to bring joy and excitement to the local kids.

Yesterday, while outside on our porch I heard the rumblings in the distance. I proceeded inside to make sure The Helper got dressed, so when the time came he was good to go. A few hours passed while we continued to hear the sirens and horns making the rounds nearby. This just added to the anticipation.

Finally, around 1:30 p.m. the fire truck carrying Santa was headed down our street. I grabbed The Helper’s hand and walked to the end of our driveway to wait for the “big guy's’” arrival.

As this grand holiday spectacle approached our home, The Helper turns to me and says, “Does Santa have my presents with him?” He further explained, in 3-3/4 year old terms, that a fire truck is larger than a sleigh and that it would make more sense to bring them now.

“No buddy, Santa will be back next week, on Christmas Eve, with your presents,” I tried to explain. So much for all the countdown tools we’re employing.

As Santa arrived and got off the truck to greet my little guy, The Helper asks, “Hi Santa! You have your own fire truck?” Santa played right along and explained about next week and the sleigh – reindeer sleeping -- something like that. He handed my boy a nice size bag of candy, gave the boy a hug, and was on his way. On the way back up the driveway the child turns to me and says, “Santa has to go home and wake up the reindeer, so I can get my presents.” The boy doesn’t miss a trick!

Follow-Up:

For the past 20 hours the Hess Fire Truck has been the toy of choice. We’re on a second set of C batteries as it’s no fun without the lights and SIREN!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another Sunday In JETS Land


Today, the N.Y. Jets will take on the Minnesota Vikings. The above picture shows what team the boys will be rooting for -- as if there was any question! FYI -- this was all Mommy, I had nothing to do with it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tracking Santa Made Easy!


I stumbled upon this great site for the kids to track Santa. It provides a countdown clock and real-time radar images.

Visit:
Tracking Santa @ Norad

text version:
http://www.noradsanta.org/en/tracking.php

Enjoy!

Parenting Is A Privilege

Recently, Brian Reid, a.k.a. RebelDad started a Manifesto Project. Please read the details on his site:
RebelDad

You can see all the other submissions he's already posted by clicking here:
Parenting Manifestos

Below is my contribution to his effort. Thanks for reading.

Parenting Is A Privilege
The Parenting Manifesto Project

Parents are created differently; whether by happenstance or years of planning, becoming a parent is life’s most special event. Nothing else compares to the enormous trust that is placed in us the day our child is born. Parenting isn’t a job, a task, or a chore – it’s a privilege. A privilege is defined as a special treat or honor. When a baby is born he has no skills or knowledge, except for basic human instincts. The same is true of new parents. As our child grows and evolves so do we. Here are some do’s and don’ts this “evolving” parent has learned so far:

DO tell your child you love them everyday.

DO show them enormous amounts of affection.

DO show in interest in all their activities.

DO instill a sense of Faith and Hope in your children.

DO teach them; Compassion, Respect and Charity.

DO create activities that develop their Bodies, Minds, and Souls.

DO teach them that Winning isn’t everything, but Losing isn’t much fun either.

DO teach them; Manners, Values, Morals, and that their Vote does count!

DO trust your instincts.

DO accept that you’ll make mistakes.

DO say “I’m sorry,” and mean it.

DO strive to be better everyday.

DO remember it’s more fun to say YES than NO.

DO make time for yourself every week. (Everyday would be better, but that’s a stretch.)

DO realize parenting is a lifelong gig – there’s no parole!

DO remember the title of “parent” is greater than any professional award you could ever achieve.

Do seek out resources to help you along the way, but filter and tailor them to your situation. (It may take a village, but it starts with YOU!)

Don’t believe everything you read, hear, or see!

Don’t lose your temper.

DON’T put an internet enabled computer in a child’s room.

Don’t compare your child to someone else’s. (Same goes for your spouse or partner.)

DON’T be a stay-at-home parent unless you really want to. Children sense stress better than any polygraph machine.

Don’t forget, these are the people who will take care of you when you’re old. (What comes around goes around!)

And last but not least,

DO NOT forget this is a PRIVILEGE to be honored and treasured everyday.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Saga of the Christmas Lights: Part 2

It was 12:30 p.m. when the Helper and I left on our mission. Mommy and the Baby stayed behind (it’s Mommy’s day off). We were determined to get our new outside lights or die trying. The Helper was happily in his car seat, with headphones, listening to his favorite song (if you’re a faithful reader you know which one), while I planned our route. First stop, the local Wal-Mart. I had a hot lead that the icicle lights were there in quantity, and on sale.

We entered the store; the Helper all excited, Dad filled with fear and trepidation. We found the holiday decorating section – it wasn’t hard – just look for the masses. And, to my surprise, an entire 8 foot section filled with icicle lights. Ah, life is good! Boy, that Mommy knows her stuff. There were no prices on any of the boxes and no shelf signs, but I didn’t care. “Look Dad, they have your lights!” the Helper exclaimed. I grabbed 4 boxes of the 300 count, 18 ft. long lights and headed for the register. To my delight, the entire purchase came to $23.50. Wow, life is really good.

After a few hours on the ladder, the house was adorned with its holiday illumination. It was still daylight so the Helper didn’t appreciate the effort much. He and I went inside and proceeded to take a short nap. While we were asleep, Mommy and the mystical elves transformed the inside of our home into a Christmas spectacular.

Upon awaking from his slumber the Helper showed me the tree and said, “Look Dad, I put up your Christmas tree,” and “C’mere, look, I put up your lights outside.” For a 3 ½ year old he’s extremely talented. I thanked him. He then informed me that Santa was coming tonight – Oh boy, now it really starts!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Saga of the Christmas Lights: Part 1

Back in early October, Big Boy and I were in our local Lowe’s home improvement store. Light bulbs? Batteries? I can’t remember. Anyway, we came across the section for outdoor holiday lights. This year I need to replace my outside illumination, as last year’s large icicles destroyed my lighting stock. Low and behold, an entire section of the icicle lights that I like. I made a mental note to come back and get them, much to the disappointment of Big Boy, but we’re on a budget here, and it was only October.

Well, yesterday, Big Boy and I ventured to the store to purchase our new lights, as a recent cold front had broken, and it was already December 10th. Also, every night, my son stands on our front porch and admires all my neighbor’s displays (that were all in place Thanksgiving weekend.) Yeah, I know, worst Dad EVER! It’s amazing how fast you can go from Best to Worst in a preschooler’s eyes. Well, that’s right, you guessed it; None of our local home centers had any lights left. Oh No! I’m in a little trouble here, for I was continually reminded that, “We NEEEEED them!”

Upon arriving back home, empty handed, The Mommy suggested I try Target and Wal-Mart, as she has recently purchased them there for her job. So today, Big Boy and I will venture out again, as it’s still above 50 degrees, and I’m only 14 days shy of Christmas. I’ll keep you posted!

Baby Monitors or CCTV?


During the summer, while my wife was pregnant with our second son, I was in the process of painting and remodeling his bedroom. As fathers we all know what this process means; your beloved partner has a vision and you fulfill it. From paint color to carpet choices you prepare the space for the newest member of your family. As a retired home improvement contractor this was relatively easy for me. During the process, my wife and I had an idea; instead of the typical baby monitors, what about installing a camera system?

Baby monitors come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap $19.99 versions to elaborate systems often seen on most baby registries. Some even have wireless video systems. Let’s look at this; we use a baby monitor to “hear” our child. Is he awake? Is he sleeping? What’s he doing in there? Uh Oh, he made a noise – I should go check! This is the problem with “audio” monitors.

The solution is to consider installing a CCTV system. The one I recommend is the Nortech System. This is not a “baby” product, but a regular CCTV system. This 2 camera system broadcasts pictures in color, has sharp, clear audio and is infrared (child’s room can be totally dark and you will get a picture like its daylight.) The receiver can be easily connected to any TV set that has RCA type video and audio inputs (most new sets have these.) This unit is relatively inexpensive, as it’s comparable in price to most of the high end monitors. Once you no longer need to monitor your child it can be moved and used as a security camera system for your home.

In our home, I connected the receiver to a small, inexpensive 13” color set in our master bedroom, right above our regular TV. We can watch TV and our children at the same time. No need to worry about what they’re doing behind closed doors. The clarity is so good you can actually see your baby breathing while he sleeps; great peace of mind for new parents.

One disadvantage of the wireless feature is that you might get interference from other devices that share the same frequency. We learned this the hard way. The camera system is 2.4GHz. Our cordless phone system was 2.4GHz. This was no good, we got continuous static. We upgraded our phone system to a new 5.8GHz unit and the static stopped. Also, if you have a wireless computer router, double check what frequency this broadcasts. You can find this in your router’s set-up page. Ours operates in the 3GHz range so we were all set.

Lastly, a note about privacy issues. These systems are great for younger children, as you get to monitor them visually throughout the day. There can be no, “He started it!” fights. “Yeah, I saw who started it,” you can say. But as for pre-teens and teenagers I would suggest removing the system from their rooms. We want to learn to trust them, and they us. You really can’t do that if you’re “spying” on their every move and conversation. But this is up to you and your mate; it falls under the, “While you live under my roof…” rules. Thanks for reading. Please comment or email me with any questions or concerns.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Notorious Dad

Thanks to athomedaddy and athomedad.org for this one. Watch and you'll see why. Also my thanks to YouTube for making this one availiable.

Link to this video at YouTube: NOTORIOUS DAD




This is perfect!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Christmas Chaos…and Coffee

Lately, I have been reading and seeing a lot of ways to cope with holiday stress. As recently as last night, I watched a segment on my local news that said I should learn some yoga; I should practice deep breathing exercises to “de-stress.” To this, I say, “Nonsense!” My friend, Maxwell House, and I will be just fine. I say we meet the challenges head on, full steam ahead. Are we men or are we yoga students?

There are lights to put up, shopping to do, homes to decorate, cards to send, gifts to wrap, food to cook, cleaning to do and family to see. All this requires some artificial stimulation. Nothing foots this bill better than liquid caffeine. Trust me, it’ll be a long winter, and we’ll all have time to detoxify. We’ll have time to cleanse our body and our minds and swear off caffeine until next December. Now is not the time to think about personal betterment – that’s for New Year’s resolutions. Now is the time to throw a “cup o’joe” down your throat and grab the keys.

There are three types of people in this world; those who don't drink coffee (a.k.a. tea drinkers), those who drink coffee, and coffee drinkers. I am the latter. As the primary care provider to multiple offspring, any re-heated black sludge in a semi-clean mug will do, my wife refers to this as “swill.” I say it’s proof of a higher power. Those who “drink coffee” can often be seen at Wi-Fi enabled cafes enjoying $5 lattes with friends, or just spending time with themselves and a good book. Obviously, not parents. For these folks, the coffee drinking experience is more a social occasion, rather than a necessity.

I blame the “play date” for the demise of coffee drinkers. Prior to “play dates,” mothers got together and drank the “percolated nectar,” shared tips, a little gossip, and some “adult” time, while us kids tormented each other in the backyard. Except for the occasional, “Stop doin’ that!” or “Don’t make me get up!” screamed from the kitchen table, these were good times. This evolved into rigorously scheduled “child interaction sessions,” posted and shared on “Outlook” calendars, and confirmed like doctors’ appointments. In order to make this “hip” you’ll need to bring along some designer java.

As the holiday to do list grows, I say, load the torpedoes and hit the mall, just don’t forget to fill your travel mug to the brim! Oh, if you’re giving me a coffee filled gift basket this season, please have the beans ground first; I don’t have that kind of time.

Long Island Dad Gets "Re-Printed"

One of my latest articles, “’Real’ Men Do Cry” was recently re-printed on LongIsland.com. LongIsland.com is Long Island’s largest website for information exchange; from things to do here to classifieds to advice, it’s really one stop shopping for anything we need to know about the beautiful place we call home. It’s an honor to be considered a local “expert”. Imagine me, an “expert” – go figure! It’s nice, though, to have another venue for people to read my musings. If you get a chance, check out the re-print below:



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