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.

Tracking Santa @ Norad

text version:


Parenting Is A Privilege

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

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.