Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Will Someone Please Stop The Voices?

The Helper has left for his overnight stay at Nannie’s. I still have the Baby and much cleaning to tackle, but these voices in my head won’t stop!

“Daddy, can I have some more water?”

“Daddy, can I have some bread from the toaster?” [The Helper doesn’t call it ‘toast’]

“Daddy, c’mere, I have to show you somefin’”

“Daddy…”

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaadyyyyyyyyyy…”

This usually only lasts an hour or so, but today it seems to be lingering a little longer. Every time I hear a noise I turn around expecting a three foot whirlwind, but nothing. Suffice it to say my nerves may be a little frayed.

I will now resort to the only known cure… vacuuming! The sweet sound of suction will put an end to my delirium… or so I hope!

Wednesday What Nots #1

The New Theme Concept

Yes, that’s right, this is the last installment of LID’s new theme. Some astute readers have caught on that I like order, structure, and rigidity… in other words, a plan. I’m a builder… it’s an occupational hazard.

When I first started my blog, I read many, many others to see what was out there. I started mine with the intention of providing friends and family updates on my meager, dull daily existence. But, I was all over the place, from serious parenting issues to funny Helper stories. The five themes keep me on track and put things in their place. I like that! I need that!

Wednesday What Nots is a catch all category, from Helper updates to anything that strikes me at the moment. I will update throughout the day as things come up… they always do.

Thanks for all your positive support for the new theme concept. And, as always, thanks for reading. Remember tomorrow is Tool Box Thursday, no previews here, you’ll have to stay tuned… only because I’m still working on it… so much to post… so little time!

Helper Update

The Helper is leaving this morning for an overnight stay at Nannie’s. She hasn’t seen him in over a week and both of them are getting a little antsy. The Helper has also been bouncing off the walls… literally… remember the broken statue from the weekend? So, hopefully when he returns tomorrow he’ll be worn out… Nannie’s good for that!

The Baby and I will be alone today, which gives me a chance to CLEAN! Every time the Mommy has a day off I get behind on my daily duties. Not that I’m complaining, it’s just I like things neat, organized, clean… I’m a freak!

As breaking news happens I will update this post. I’m sure there will be some Helper related story in our immediate future… I can feel it in my bones.

Factoids:

Long Island Dad

Reality TV Junkie… all except for American Idol (though it’s growing on me) and the new Bravo TV shows. Love Hell’s Kitchen, The Apprentice, Survivor, Blow Out, Weekend Warriors… well most home improvement shows including the original… This Old House. I have every issue of This Old House Magazine.

The Helper

Only likes Coffee Ice Cream… Vanilla in a pinch but never Chocolate… it’s “dirty.”


Calmness is a state of mind, not a tangible, reachable goal!

Knowing the Helper as I do, I am sending him to Nannie's today wearing this shirt. I figure the subject of his energy level may come up... and this way his response is already out there for all to see. Yeah, I'm funny... and yes, my mother-in-law does have a sense of humor... she had five kids for goodness sake!

A Case of Doing Rather Than Saying...

Our friend, Angel, a.k.a. Drama Mama, posted yesterday that she is doing something about the terrible disease - Breast Cancer. *BIG CLAP HANDS* As you folks already know this is a subject that’s very important to Long Island Dad. I would have included this in yesterday’s link section, but alas, she posted after I was done for the day. Please check it out!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday's Truth


What’s The Rush!

“… slow down and take a deep breath!”
-The Helper, 2006

In my 42 years of living in the vicinity of New York City I have become accustomed to the extremely fast pace of life in this area. It’s true, New Yorker’s want everything yesterday, but does that mean we have to sacrifice manners and common courtesy? What kind of example are we setting for our children?

Yesterday, I was making my daily run to our local supermarket (childless) to restock some provisions (chicken and carrot raviolis – the Helper’s main food staple.) I always try to use the self-service check out. I like this idea, I can check out at my own pace… quick! I can bag the items the way I want, so nothing gets crushed in transit.

While I was in the middle of scanning my eighteen piece order (no, I wasn’t on a twelve items or less line) a man gets on line behind me. Once I completed and paid for my order I walked to the end of the belt to bag my items, eighteen in all, should take about twenty seconds, right? Well, the man behind me steps up to the scanner and proceeds to start his order. Six two liter bottles of soda, start sliding their way down the belt and slam into my container of fresh baked rainbow cookies (a reward for, Mommy and Daddy, working so hard lately.)

Being a “rough and tough” New Yorker I needed to combat this blatant inconsideration with a stern response, “Excuse Me! A little patience, please, I’ll be done in a minute!” To which I received a “humph” and “snort,” …so much for civility at the supermarket.

It just seems that the life’s pace is ever increasing, for all of us. Whether by our own choice or external pressures, things are just moving way too fast.

I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am in no rush to sprint toward the finish line!

I will try to employ my four year old’s mantra stated above… he’s wise beyond his years.

And that’s The TRUTH!


This Week’s Links:

A selection of some great stuff that I’ve come across this week…

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback - 1/29/2007

A Re-cap of This Weekend’s Trials and Tribulations…


The Helper has not mentioned his ear concerns since the initial crisis. Either I am a very effective parent with regard to building my child’s self esteem OR he has the attention span of a four year old...

The Mommy has been working nights since Friday. A difficult schedule for all involved. On Saturday, she left the house at 2:00 p.m. and returned home at 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning… only to have to go back to work at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. The children tend to take this in stride until the Helper decides he’s had enough, and then demands he go to work with Mommy. Things will improve tomorrow when the Mommy has a day off...

In an effort to give Mommy some time to herself, I took the Girl and the Helper out on Saturday (the Baby stayed home with Mommy…hopefully for a nap.) We went to the cellular phone store so I could get cases for our new phones. Then off to a fast-food lunch. The Helper loves his French fries. On the way home we stopped at the Pet Store for two new fish. The Helper insisted on Red ones. Remember folks, “Lighting McQueen” is red. The Girl was fine with this as long as she got to name them…Skittles and Goldilocks… though the Helper has his own name for them…Red.

The only casualty of the weekend was a “Willow Tree” statue called “Tenderness.” It seems that the Helper was running in the living room… that’s odd he never, ever does THAT! Ha! The statue fell from the shelf and the heads broke off. When asked, the Helper threw his sister under the bus faster than he can eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup… and trust me, that’s fast!

“Christopher, what happened?”

“Emily broke Mommy’s statue, she’s gonna be sad, you have to buy her a new one!”

[Look of shock and disbelief on the Girl’s face.]

“I think Daddy can fix the statue, Christopher, we don’t have to buy a new one.”

“Good, ‘cause Mommy’s gonna be sad, because Emily broke it.”

“How did she break it?”

“She was runnin’”

[The Girl only runs on the soccer field… and only when she has to.]

The ability to scapegoat one's sibling is learned so early these days...

That's all for this week's edition of Monday Morning Quarterback… Stay tuned -- as breaking news happens I will interrupt your regular programming for updates.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Elephant Ears?

Another reason being a Stay-At-Home-Parent ROCKS!

Job Duty # 56: Self-Esteem Builder.

Mama never told me there’d be days like this…


[The Helper runs into living room with hands over ears.]

“Daddy my ears are BIG!”

“What? No they’re not!”

“Yes they are…BIG like ELEPHANT’S!”

“Honey your ears are just FINE, they’re PERFECT, you’re PERFECT!”

“No, c’mon see, I’ll show you!”


[Leads the Daddy into his room, hops up on his bed, and looks in mirror, while pushing his ears forward with his hands.]

“See… BIG like ELEPHANT’S!”

“Honey, they’re perfect, you’re a very handsome boy, your ears are fine, Okay?”

“Okay.” [Not sounding too convinced]


A half hour later I go into his room, he’s laying on his bed holding two little story books against his head.

“Baby, what are you doing?”

“ELEPHANT EARS!”

Okay, this is just a phase. It’s one of those things that will go away once we stop talking about it. When pre-school age children discover their appearance, all bets are off, though it’s better with boys than with girls, I’ve found! We’ll see what happens today. You can’t make this stuff up!


Perhaps, he saw the news report, yesterday, that Prince Charles is visiting the U.S.

Do you think the Prince had a similar conversation with the Queen when he was four?

"Oh, Mummy, my ears are big like elephants."

"Yes, Yes they are my son... but you'll be King one day."

THAT'S IT!... NO MORE CNN BEFORE BED!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pens and Pocket Knives

My mother’s father was a larger than life figure… a true man’s man. And, someone I have tried to emulate my entire life. The other day, when I posted Tool Box Thursday, I started thinking about my grandfather, who passed away more than a few years ago. He was my ultimate resource for all things tool related and beyond. He was a man who could fix anything; from a broken radio to a crushed dream.

He spent most of his life working for Grumman Aerospace, now called Northrop-Grumman. The company is a large defense contractor that for years was based right here on Long Island, and built many aircraft, including the F-14 Tomcat made famous by the movie Top Gun.

Like many men of his generation he didn’t attend college, instead a trade school. He served in the Marines during World War II, then had children and moved to the suburbs. He was electrical engineer who achieved the prestigious job title of Final Inspector. Nothing left the hanger without his stamp of approval. Literally, he had a small stamp with his initials that embossed all the electrical components of a particular aircraft. The pinnacle of his career was working on the first lunar module that would land on the moon. The old joke in our family has always been that he never made it to the moon but his initials did. There are still warplanes today, flying around, protecting us, with his initials in them.

As a little boy I always looked forward to going to his house, often I would stay over night and just tag along from project to project. My grandfather never sat still, always something to fix, tweak, improve, tear down and build again. I was the original Helper. Now you know where my little guy gets it from.

One memory, that came rushing back the other day while I was writing my post, was my grandfather's pen and pocket knife. He always had the same Parker stainless steel pen in his front left shirt pocket and a small, very sharp, pocket knife in his left rear pants pocket. It seemed that with these two items he could rebuild an engine or frame a house. To be honest, he probably could.

Men learn how to be men from other men. We learn how to treat a woman by watching our fathers love our mothers, and our grandfathers honor and care for our grandmothers. We learn how to be gentlemen from watching true gentle men. Father’s are not easily impressed by their sons, but they’re always proud of them. As men, we’re remembered by the character of the men we raise.

To this day, I have never left the house without my stainless Parker pen or my pocket knife in my left rear pant pocket.

I love you Grandpa… thanks for the tools… and the knowledge and ability to use them... I'll make you proud!

Does Handy Manny Read LID?


While watching Playhouse Disney this morning (don't laugh! -- you know you do too!) they did a promo for tomorrow's new episode of Handy Manny. It seems the new episode is "The Case Of The Missing Socks."

Hmmmm... seems to me I recently posted a humorous anecdote about a missing sock.

Coincidence... I think NOT!

I know the Helper has a close personal relationship with Mr. Manny but I didn't know he was feeding him story ideas. I guess it's okay as long as he receives compensation.

I have to go to my mailbox now and see if there's a check from Disney... I'll let you know.
Nope... not yet, maybe tomorrow!

Photo Friday


In an effort to keep a theme to Long Island Dad, I'm starting Photo Friday. A place where I sort through and post some new and old pictures for your viewing pleasure. The Helper certainly has his following and who am I to disappoint them?






My Little Gentleman!


A younger Helper taken at the beach on Fire Island.
The flags in the distance fly over the TWA Flight 800 memorial.

The Helper loves his trains!
This was taken this summer at the Long Island Railroad Museum.

One of Greg "Wiggles" last live performances. Taken this summer at the Nassau Coliseum. As I've mentioned before the children are so deprived... they never get to do anything cool...

Daddy and the Helper making a sand art creation at the annual Oysterfest Festival.
Again... he never gets to do anything fun...
Long Island definitely doesn't have a shortage of sand.

Nine Degrees !


Remember the post I did about the weather? Well now I’m definitely eating my words… No… they’re actually being crammed down my throat. This morning my computer told me it was 9 degrees outside at 7 a.m. While this may not be a big deal for our Canadian friends it’s certainly a big deal here on our little island. Today we’re predicted to have wind chill temperatures between -10 and -15 degrees.

That’s COLD folks!

No going out with the kiddies today. I’ll keep you posted when the igloo gets finished. I have to go hitch up the sled dogs now and make a run for provisions.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tool Box Thursday 1/25/2007

Issue #1 - Multi-Tools & Silicone Lubricant

Multi-Tools (All In One Tools)

One of the most important, and popular, tools in my house is my All-In-One Tool, also called a Multi-Tool. Even though I have 400 square feet, in a separate building, dedicated to tool storage, and at last count, 57 different screwdrivers, this is the tool I use on a daily basis. A good multi-tool will contain: pliers, wire cutters, slotted and Phillips screwdrivers, cutting blades, awl, and a can/bottle opener.

The advantage of this ingenious invention is that you don’t have to search different places for all your basic hand tools. I actually have two of these wonders; I keep another one in the car, like a mini tool box it’s always ready to go. If only to open that damn plastic blister packaging that encases almost everything these days, or to clip the wire ties that attach every toy to it's box. Moms and Dads, this is a tool you should not ever be without!

Tip:

  • Do not purchase an inexpensive knock-off of the original designs. These cheap imitations can often be found, blister packed, hanging in the camping sections of local discount stores, priced between $10 and $20. You will not be happy with the quality, and these tools can actually be unsafe due to their poor construction. One thing to look for is a “lock-back” feature. This prevents the tool from closing when in use. Something that could be very dangerous when using the sharp blade fold out. The less expensive units, more often than not, do not have this feature. It’s another one of those “you get what you pay for” things.

Remember Tool Rule #1: A tool that's never used is sad and lonely... and a waste of money!

I’ve had my original tool for seven years now and use it on a daily basis. I paid $47 and it’s more than paid for itself.

The two manufacturers I recommend for Multi-Tools are GERBER and SCHRADE. I use the SCHRADE ST1, a great all around multi-tool. Though, Gerber has a much larger selection, and has tools designed for different purposes.


Silicone Lubricant

I would never discount the wonders of WD-40; I’m more a fan of Solder Seal Gunk’s Silicone Spray Lubricant. While WD-40 certainly has its place (to be used mainly with metal parts, though you can download the 2000 uses for WD-40 at its website) a Silicone Spray works with all types of materials. It’s especially good for rubber, plastic, and nylon parts, but can be used on metal as well.

One big advantage, that I have found, is silicone spray does not evaporate as fast as petroleum based sprays. This makes those annoying squeaks stop for longer periods. Also, petroleum based sprays tend to attract more dirt and dust, often causing bigger problems in the future. There’s also the issue of flammability. While both sprays are flammable, petroleum based sprays have a lower flash point making them a second choice when contact with heat is needed (i.e. used as a coolant for drill bits when drilling into metal.)

The next time you have a squeaky door hinge, noisy office chair or stubborn kitchen drawer slide try some silicone instead of the “blue” can stuff. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, I’m sure of it.

Tip:

  • Avoid over spraying any kind of spray lubricant, most will stain fabrics, woods, and plastics. Also, use disposable paper towels for clean up. Cloth rags that have been soaked with a spray lubricant are a fire hazard.

Introducing Tool Box Thursday

One of the greatest things about the blog-o-sphere is the constant exchange of ideas, advice, and tips and tricks. Today, our friend at Daddy Diary Tales is looking for content suggestions. (Update: Our friend, Jeff, has started a totally new and separate blog called Daddy Diary Tales - The Other One... check it out!) That got me thinking…[smell of wood burning]… I know, I know I should be using what brain power I have left to deal with the concerns of “the little people.”

But what if we all dedicated some space in our parenting/family/kid anecdote blogs to our “adult” talents?… you know what I mean. (Stop laughing Angel… and Joy’s!... and Wonder Mom.)

What about a weekly post dedicated to our areas of expertise outside the parenting domain?

This would give us all a chance to share our years of acquired knowledge on a particular topic, and provide us all with a “real-time” resource. We all need all the help we can get, right?

I’m not talking about providing anything that would require liability insurance coverage, just some tips. For example: product reviews, unsolicited advice, recipes, cleaning techniques, car care tips, home repair tips, computing and technology tips and links, interior design techniques, etc.

There are millions of “forums” offering advice on millions of problems, the problem with these forums is that you have to look through thousands of threads before you find the small morsel of information you need.

With this in mind, I am starting my own TOOL BOX THURSDAY’s, a place where I will provide a weekly offering of home improvement links, products, tips, tricks and energy saving advice.

I hope you’ll agree that this could be fun and informative. Also, it could take the pressure off the daily post conundrum.

Stay tuned for the first installment of Tool Box Thursday!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A One Track Mind?

For a lifetime I have been designing and remodeling residential structures. After some time, I have even become pretty good at it. I am extremely proficient in all areas of home improvement and possess quite an arsenal of equipment dedicated to this purpose. I’ve mentioned this before… there’s nothing like a man and his tools.

Here’s the problem; the Helper, as previously posted (I forgot where and when, but I know I did), is looking for a remake of his little corner of the world. He would like his room to change colors… immediately!

It has gotten to the point that I seem to require multiple reminders on a daily basis.

“Dad, my room is boring, can you pleeeeease paint it?”

“I will buddy, this spring, as soon as it’s warmer out, okay?”

“Look! It sure is spring outside, look out the window, c’mere I show you!”

“Okay buddy, what color do you think would look good?” (A lame attempt to change focus.)

“Red… and Blue… and Green… oh, and Yellow… black, too!”


Hmmm… seems awfully similar to the CARS movie color scheme, me thinks!

Now, the apparent, 4 year old, deal closer...

“I’ll help you, Dad! I’m a good painter… like my pictures.”

Oh, boy -- there’s no way this will end well. He did help with his brother’s room, as I’ve mentioned, though he never actually touched anything he was a great motivational speaker… I’ll leave that to your imaginations.

You may be saying, just give in, paint the lil' guy's room. Yes, I’m sure that’s what you’re saying. I would, except for the fact that all his “stuff” must be removed and placed on the back porch. Something I will not do in 19 degree weather. I promise that as soon as the temperature is over 50 degrees on a daily basis I will start this monumental task (I've remodeled 300 year old mansions that have taken less effort). Until then, I will ward off my daily reminders with cunning re-direction and witty retorts.

The boy, on the other hand, will continue to review color swatches and watch Handy Manny completely overhaul the town’s merry-go-round, in fifteen minutes, with six hand tools… that talk, no less!

Case of the Missing Sock

(Edited below after a content review by the Mommy... seems my recollection isn't what it used to be.)

While on the surface the story below may not seem that unusual, the visual of a 4 year limping 50 feet to avoid contact with my sterile floor coverings is in itself...

The other night the Helper limped into the living room and notified us that he was missing a sock. He was limping as to not touch the floor with his bare foot. Why? I don't know! Some questions are best left unanswered, folks!

"Can you help me find my sock, it's lost?" he asked globally.

"Where did you leave it honey?" the Mommy asked, barely containing her hysterics.

"I don't know, it looks like RED!" he provided, in a slightly panicked tone.

"Okay, I'll help you find it!" Mommy said in a reassuring tone, still suppressing a strong desire to inquire about the limping, though tears of her contained amusement were starting to show.

Daddy was trying very hard himself not to burst out in laughter... an action that could possibly create a mental scar for life... something we try to avoid, if at all possible.

Needless to say, the sock was found and donned by the boy. He returned to the living room in a normal gait to show off his recovered stocking. Another crisis avoided! His mental health intact!
Though, I will continue to keep crutch and cane manufacturers bookmarked for future emergencies... just in case.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kids Are Quick!

The following comes to us by way of the Helper's Godmother, a teacher, who can always be counted on for another installment of "Kid's Say The Darnedest Things." If you haven't seen this yet... it's hysterical!

Kids are Quick

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the
floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile?"
GLENN: K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L"
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
DONALD: H I J K L M N O.
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we
didn't have ten years ago.
WINNIE: Me!

TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, "I am."
MILLIE: All right... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."


TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the ax in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher

Alas, All Good Things Must End

All good things must end. Our mini-vacation is coming to a close. The Mommy will be returning to work tomorrow for another eight day work marathon. Needless to say a good time was had by all. We are all fully rested and prepared to face our upcoming work stretch head on. There have been daily naps, good food and drink, movie watching and just some plain 'ole veggin' time.

The only casualty this weekend was the Mommy's pink Motorola RAZR Cell Phone. It went for a dip in a cup of coffee Saturday night. It seems that cell phones should avoid being immersed in liquid at all costs... who knew? Have no fears though, Mommy went on-line with our cellular carrier and ordered a replacement -- the new BlackBerry Pearl -- which should be here today. The Mommy will be able to send and receive her emails and browse the web from anywhere... Ah, the technology. A definite advantage with her busy schedule. I like when the Mommy gets a new phone, usually once a year, because the Daddy gets one too. That's right, Mommy ordered Daddy a new cell phone -- not the BlackBerry -- I don't need to be in that kind of contact -- but its a beautiful new device just for being me. (I was not the one who sent the RAZR in for a swim.)

Thanks for all the well wishes, folks. They were much appreciated. Some "Helper-ism" posts will be forthcoming, stay tuned. Thanks for visiting... the saga continues.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

[Auto Response: Long Island Dad will Return]

Friday, January 19, 2007

Dimples


He wishes he had his brother's dimples...


The Countdown Begins

Now that the holidays and the kid’s birthdays are done, it’s time for the parents. The Mommy and I were actually married in September but celebrate our anniversary in January (the month we actually started dating.) We always try to do something special, but because finances tend to be short after the preceding events (and tax returns haven’t come in yet) we usually settle for some time alone. That’s right, time alone. No don’t adjust your sets… I really did just say that!

This year Nannie will be taking the children from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. Yes, even the 3 month old little man. Hey, she had five kids she knows what to do, right? RIGHT! The Helper loves going to Nannies’ and the feeling is definitely mutual. Though, after an extended stay he will call us and tell us to come and get him. I believe it’s because he misses us but to be honest with myself I really think it’s more that he misses his “stuff.”

Now comes the decision on what to do with our freedom; Movie and dinner out? Movie and dinner in? Movie in, dinner out? Movie out, dinner in? Oh, the choices are endless. Can you tell I’m filled with glee! We’ve actually been invited to some friends (who don’t have any little people) on Saturday night. They’re good friends so we’re probably going; a good time will definitely be had by all. The Mommy is actually off until next Wednesday, so this is a mini-vacation for all of us.

I will start doing a little “jig” by 8 p.m. tonight – No, no video will be produced! Exclusive adult time is so important; it clears our minds and rejuvenates our souls. It also gives us time to reflect on our jobs as parents.

A time for some introspection without, “DAAAAADY!” being called out every three minutes.

A time to remember why people fall in love in the first place.

A time to reflect on our successes and failures.

A time to enjoy some good company, good conversation and…

A time to miss our children!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

If It Were Only That Easy...

[Baby making 3 month old vocalizations in the background]

"DAAAADDY, the baby needs a bottle, HE's CRYIN'!"

"He's not crying, Honey, he's talking."

"He's not talkin', he's cryin', put a bottle in his mouth and he'll be quiet!"

If I could only still do that with you...

Cell Phones...A Parent's Dilemma or Dream?

Are the days of passing notes in the hall or during study hall gone?

Ever since the cell phone industry has started making their products extremely affordable, the issue concerning children and cell phones has grown. Schools are having problems balancing parental concerns and security issues. Some schools prohibit cell phone use (and actual possession) altogether. While some others just institute an “out of sight, out of mind policy.”

The issue is whether the use of these devices by children (anyone under 18 for the sake of this article), is for their convenience or ours? Even some of the most diligent parents who would never consider putting an internet enabled computer in their child’s room can be lulled into handing over a cell phone for their own piece of mind. While I certainly like the idea of being able to get in touch with my child at any time, what are the real advantages? And, what pitfalls should be avoided?

  • Disney Mobile (as well as some other companies) has introduced a cellular service that enables parents to track their child’s whereabouts by means of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and their home computer. Other phone manufacturers have started to design phones specifically for children. These phones contain certain parental controls that allow us the ability to prevent text-messaging, block web access or to dial only certain numbers. These features can definitely help us make the decision on whether or not to get our child a phone.

  • Besides the obvious element of distraction, cell phone use by children raises some other issues with educators and schools. A recent study found that 1 in 5 teenagers use the web to cheat. With most phones now having the ability to access web based functions the problem of cheating may increase. Especially, when parents (and teachers) may not be fully aware of a device’s capabilities. I would suggest every parent either receive complete detailed instructions from their dealer or read the phone’s instruction manual cover to cover before handing it over.

  • Another area that needs to be addressed when considering a cell phone for your child is cell phone etiquette. Are you a good example of cell phone etiquette to your children? Children need to learn what constitutes appropriate usage. There needs to be a clear set of rules in place before a child should ever receive this privilege. Also, parents should carefully review all bills and statements and question every unfamiliar number. I would suggest that a cell phone be treated like a loaned household item, not as the child’s personal property (even if they’re the ones who are paying for it). An item, which must be produced on demand, for review, or revocation.
  • Some Tips:

1. Regard cell phones as a privilege to be earned, and revoked as needed.

2. Research products and choose one that suits your and your child's needs and responsibility level.

3. Familiarize yourself with all the phone's features and operations.

4. Periodically check your child's phone for message content and for dialed and received calls.

5. Contact you child's school to find out their policy on phone use.

6. Review all cell phone bills for usage information.

7. Teach proper cell phone etiquette and set the example.

There’s certainly a lot to consider when making these decisions. We know our children best, we also know what’s best for them. We need to balance our own wants and needs with our child’s responsibility level. In an effort to provide a complete picture on this topic I’ve listed some great links below. Thanks for stopping by, any thoughts or comments?

Further Information On This Topic:

MSNBC Article: Cell Phones and Kids, Do They Mix?

Should We Ban Cell Phones In School? An NEA Article

Tracking Children Using GPS Cell Phones

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Sweet Smell Of Success

LektricShave – The Grandfather’s Scent, a young boy dreams of the day his first whisker will sprout.

Old Spice – The Father’s Scent, a young boy beginning a lifetime of facial hair removal uses this for the first time.

Calvin Klein, Halston, Aramis – The dancing, dating and decadence of the eighties.

Polo, Geoffrey Beene, Perry Ellis – Jobs are now careers, leather portfolios replace spiral notebooks and business cards take over for numbers on napkins.

Eau de Isomil – A sweet fragrant aroma that wafts throughout the house. Estate planning and 401K’s interfere with wide-eyed dreams. A clean T-Shirt = Luxurious Apparel. Nothing says sexy more than the odor of soy based infant formula.

"Go To Your Room!"

While I was correcting some rude behavior this morning the Helper responded with:

"Daddy, I'm going to my room now, DON'T FOLLOW ME!"

So much for using, "Go to your room!" as a future threat. Perhaps if there were no toys, no bed, no creature comforts... and no heat, it might return to the arsenal of behavior management tools.
He never ever slams his door though; the Mommy has made it quite clear, from the beginning, that if any child ever slammed a door to their room she would immediately instruct the Daddy to remove it... forever! A deterrent that has worked to this day. It is our belief that privacy under our roof is a privilege not a right!

I didn't follow, he returned five minutes later under his own power offering "an apology" for his previous behavior...

"Daddy, I'm not mad at you anymore!"

Why Is “Marriage” A Four Letter Word?

(Updated Below)

The battle against the so-called “Traditional Family Values” is increasing. When did it become politically incorrect to have a Mother, Father, and Child family unit? Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that one situation is any better than another. I know some single mothers who do a better job at raising a family than some of their dual parent counterparts. I also know some gay parents who provide a more loving, caring and supportive environment than some hetero couples. My issue stems from the “attacks,” if you will, on us “traditional” families.

Recently the media has been quick to applaud the efforts of different types of family models, while casting a disparaging light on Mother, Father, Child scenarios. And, that ugly concept of “marriage,” should only be used by women looking for a man to take care of them. I don’t know about you, but my wife did not marry me so I could “take care” of her. Far from it, she is more than capable of surviving and thriving with or without me. Women today certainly do not need male caretakers. But that doesn’t mean that marriage should be cast in a dirty light. People get married as a natural progression of their relationships. Not because they need to be recognized by some legal entity or validated by a religious faith. People get married to show a commitment to each other; some do it before God, and some before a judge. By doing it, they say, “I have chosen you. I love you. I am committed to us,” the union itself creates exclusivity.

A recent news piece on a national network highlighted single women deciding to have children without the presence of fathers. These are individual and very personal decisions. To have them presented on a national stage in opposition to Mother-Father scenarios, is just wrong.

Another piece touted the fact that a majority of women, 51%, are unmarried. This figure includes that fact that women tend to live longer then men, therefore widows are becoming a larger portion of the population. But, the focus of the piece was on women who are staying single by choice. Waiting longer to marry, and pursuing careers as an alternative. Most of the women interviewed did not rule out marriage, just that their priorities were different. I do applaud this, as it may reduce the divorce rate in this country, and may continue to reduce the wage disparity between men and women. As the father of a daughter, I wouldn't mind her waiting a while to "find the right man (or women)" while she pursues personal goals. Same holds true for my sons as well. But to create the sense that marriage is somehow not a worthwhile accomplishment is disheartening.

A person’s individual choice is just that, their choice. It’s not something that automatically puts them at odds with other’s choices. Through biased reporting tactics the “media” is creating a divisiveness that I believe is utterly irresponsible.

I live in a country where men and women are dying everyday to protect the freedoms that I enjoy. The freedom to make choices for one’s self. The freedom to decide what values work for me. And, yes, even the freedom of speech, the one I take full advantage of here. But, the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters should not be marred by a country pent on creating division among it citizenry, whatever the issue. I’m married, I’m a stay-at-home-parent, my children were not born out of wedlock, if that puts me at odds with the New World Order, so be it. It’s just my humble opinion.


Update: For some additional commentary and discussion on this topic please see Inside Fatherhood's follow-up to this piece.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Day That Changed My Life... Forever.

Twelve years ago, today, a little girl changed my life.

Four years ago, today, a little boy changed it again.

If life is a compilation of events, for me, these two are in the top four. There are very few events that we recall with such clarity; the anticipation, the preparation, the uneasiness, the joy, the smells, the sights and the sounds. Like a video in HD these pictures are as sharp today as they were when they happened.

The Girl started middle school this year, sixth grade; changing classes, lockers, and new friends. And, BOYS aren’t disgusting anymore! *Sigh*

The Helper has honed so many skills; he is indeed my “little MAN.”

I have one more shot with the Baby, I cherish every second with him. Because I know, one day, GIRLS won’t have “cooties” and I’ll just become “my Old Man.”

There’s a brief moment in time that most father’s can relate too; it’s the time you first get to hold your child. For a lot of us, we get to hold our children even before the Mommies. They are usually otherwise occupied immediately after child birth. I was lucky enough to hold all my children for a fifteen to twenty minute period while Mommy was being tended to. I got to talk to them, hug them, and make them promises I’ve continued to keep.

My skills, or lack of, as a parent, will carry over from generation to generation. My children will rear their children based on the example I have set, and so on and so forth. I will continue to strive for “Wise Old Man” status and diminish the tendency toward “Babbling Fool.”

Happy Birthday my beautiful children!

May I continue to fill your days with happiness and joy, love and respect, knowledge and wisdom, and most of all Hope!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Brothers In Arms


A Digital Water Color Image - Thanks to HP Photosmart Premier.

Things A Man Should Know...

I have to give credit to our friend Steve at Inside Fatherhood for this one. It was so good I wanted to post it here too. Thanks to MSN Lifestyle: Men for this one, Things A Man Should Know: About Fatherhood. For the complete list CLICK HERE.

Heres a sample:

  • Don't worry, your dad didn't know what he was doing, either.

  • No, no--not that Spock!

  • Second thought, maybe you should worry.

  • Never tell anybody where your child was conceived, how long it took, or what song was playing.

  • Do not name your baby after cities, geographical points of interest, features of the solar system, seasons, plants, animals, or current television stars.

  • Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, and, for the first year, you are only a curiosity.
    For a couple of years after that, an amusement-park ride.
    Then, a referee.
    And finally, a bank.

  • If you want to subject your son to the unkindest cut, insist on a local anesthetic, since many pediatricians don't bother to use one.
    The anesthetic is for the kid.

  • Reason boys are better: They cannot get pregnant.


Expletive Deleted

While preparing for yesterday’s activities, I was the victim of a serious plot against my health and well being. After a shower, I was proceeding to our bedroom, rather quickly. On my way, I tried to move a door jamb with my foot. The house is over a hundred years old so I really can’t blame what happened next on anything but my own stupidity. Crack, snap, pop, [Expletive Deleted x6], yes, it’s broken. My little toe on my left foot lost its brief battle with the sturdy hundred year old building. This little piggy will not be going to market any time soon.

While this may sound extremely painful… it IS. The worst part -- it’s the 3rd time in five years that I’ve broken this exact toe -- doing the exact same thing. You’d think I’d learn… you’d be wrong. So I was able to hobble through the Helper’s party without much incident. But, when it came time for the aforementioned dancing portion, needless to say I did not participate, for fear my screeching would be heard over the Rascal Flatts at 100 watts.

For the next week or so, every step I take will be a constant reminder to strictly enforce the “No Running In The House Rule,” and “Stupid Is, As Stupid Does.” Hopefully, I will learn this time… probably not. If anyone would like to start a pool for the next eighteen months, please feel free, I have a couple of dates I’d like to buy!

A Good Time Was Had By All

The Helper wants to thank all of you for your birthday wishes! He had a great time, as predicted. We ate, ate and ate, again! One of the advantages of Mommy's career is that, occasionally, we benefit from her years of experience. Mommy is a fantastic chef... Chicken Francaise at a child's birthday, who knew? The Helper only eats about ten things so the meal was for us adults... he didn't care though -- presents were his fuel.

Helper-ism of the Day:
(Immediately prior to the big event's commencement.)



"Many, many, many (8-10 in all) people will be coming and we'll dance! We'll put on 'Life Is A Highway' and dance."


That boy really knows how to have a good time! Yes, there was dancing, but not by yours truly. His Godmother and our good friend Erica danced with the boy for an hour, after most of the guests departed. (Faithful readers will remember these are the two people who took him to see Santa at the mall -- such good friends.) One advantage of having your computer tied to your whole house entertainment system is being able to customize the musical mood. Though, my iTunes playcount for "Life Is A Highway" is now 65, the Helper has been asleep for 14 straight hours. The boy certainly knows how to party... and he didn't even have any of Mommy's exquisite Margarita's. Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

For My Son...

He’s Another Year Older
By Long Island Dad

He’s another year older,
He’s learned so much.

He’s another year older,
We celebrate in a bunch.

He’s another year older,
Time flies by.

He’s another year older,
I want to cry.

He’s another year older,
Still more ahead.

He’s another year older,
More fears to dread.

He’s another year older,
He’s brought so much Joy.

He’s another year older,
Thank God he’s my Boy!

Copyright © 2007 www.longislanddad.com - All Rights Reserved

A Party for Me?

The "big day" has finally arrived. Food's been purchased, house has been cleaned and "Cars" party accessories will adorn the festivities.
My little baby boy is no longer little. He walks, he talks, he washes dishes, he carries on adult conversations. He's funny, he's cute, he's perfect and... he's another year older. Ah, Father Time sometimes you're a cruel, cruel man.
While is the bathroom last night, the Mommy decided to remind the Helper that his party was today...

"A party for MEEEEE?!? Don't forget to say surprise!," the Helper exclaimed.

It's not a surprise party, folks. Who could keep a surprise from a 4 year old, especially when he went along to shop for the party favors. It's just his way of showing appreciation for our efforts.

I Love Him So!

For those who are interested, I will post a brief synopsis of the big event, perhaps with a few pics., and any "Helper-isms" that might come up. It's still early and I have coffee to drink before some final "touch-ups." You know, kids and all.

Thanks for the visit, see you soon!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ah, Can You Hear The Silence!

The Mommy just left with the MIL and the Helper. She's dropping them off 28 miles away at MIL's house. My mother-in-law was here this morning because she needed to visit our auto mechanic, her's is not that good. Her car will be with him for a a few days so on the Mommy's way to work she needed to bring her home. When preparing to leave our house my wonderful MIL asked if it would be okay if the Helper came with her... TO STAY OVERNIGHT! They'll be back Sunday for the Helper's birthday celebration.

Those people left, the baby's napping, the dogs are napping... I should be napping.

Or, do I frolic around my big empty house like Tom Cruise in Risky Business?

No, I think my big comfy chair and some Discovery Channel will do just fine, really too tired to read.

It's the sounds of silence that are killing me. Simon and Garfunkel were right! I'm so ungrateful!

Update: It's just not in me to do my rendition of Bob Seger... he'll be so grateful! I have decided to "prep" the ranch for this weekend's festivities, and yes, that includes vacuuming all the ceiling fan blades. I know I'm weak, but it has to get done... BABY CRYIN' -- VACUUM WHIRRING -- DOGS GOIN" NUTS -- NOW THAT'S MORE LIKE IT!!!

What Do You Do When….

What do you do when your child makes a friend with whom you don’t approve?

I said in Some Clarification that all children aren’t created equal. What happens when your child develops a friendship with someone who brings out the worst in them? Children, whose parents, don’t share the same outlook, values, and discipline techniques as you. Tough question… I know… that’s why I’m throwing it out there, folks.

As parents, we run a fine line of protecting our children and letting them have experiences that shape and mold their personalities, and test their decision making abilities. We can’t shelter them from all experiences and “friends” that might not be positive influences. But there must be a line… somewhere. And, when they/us reach that line what’s our role?

Remember, we don’t pay for comment space so go nuts! I’ll re-sort and edit comments in a follow-up post to provide us all with some advice and tools on this subject.

Thanks for stopping by.

Some Clarification…

In a follow-up to An Update…and Restaurant Manners, I think I need to clear up some “issues.” I wrote “reward GOOD service,” not “bad service.” Trust me, in no way am I advocating a reward for poor performance or quality. Dining out with someone who runs a multi-million dollar establishment has actually made me more critical when spending our hard earned dollars. My statement was based on people who receive, a high quality meal prepared to their specifications, in a timely fashion, served by an attentive and friendly staff… and leave their pocket change. It happens more often than you might think.

Additionally, I absolutely believe children should partake in the dining out experience, and I fully understand all children are not created equal. Thank God for this. Because of our situation my children eat out more than most, often at Mommy’s restaurant… Hey, it’s fun for them, I don’t have to cook (I usually don’t cook anyway, unless you count microwaving raviolis?), and it’s free (Mommy pays for us). I was talking about the parent’s who are not attentive to their children’s behavior… you know the ones… self absorbed, engaged in their conversations, on their cell phones, oblivious to their surroundings, while their children “run a muck,” disturbing every other diners meal. Babies cry, kids have high energy levels, that’s to be expected. As long as, I’m doing everything I can so my children don’t ruin someone else’s time, I’m doing my job.

Thanks for letting me clear that up… thanks for visiting and come again soon... the next post should create some excitement!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Don't Yell Often But...

I don't yell often. It's one of those items I save in the "parenting arsenal" and only break out when absolutely necessary. Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say -- crayons and a kitchen table (one I built and finished myself).

"Daddy, slow down, take a deeeeeep breath and stop yelling. I hear you!"

I did, I did and I did!

A Quick Tip

As a quick follow-up to "Restaurant Manners" I want to pass along our tip for managing public behavior. We set up a "Restaurant Bag" with coloring/activity pages, learning activities and washable writing implements. This bag is also useful for Dr.'s visits and the like. Rotate the content of the bag so it's always a surprise for your child. Keep the bag in the car at all times... you never know when the urge for dinner out will hit.
Remember it is not the establishment's job to provide entertainment for our children. That's our job, we're the parents. While many do provide crayons and coloring sheets, these can just supplement your "bag." Temper tantrums, by adults or children, should not be thrown because a restaurant ran out of crayons, I've witnessed this way too often. Another benefit to setting up this activity bag is that you get to participate with your child while you're waiting. Flash cards are fun, some compact travel games are also fun and pass the time quickly.
Finally, Long Island Dad does not support the use of portable DVD players to entertain children in public. There's a time and a place for everything. I have no problem with them in my minivan, as I use it often. But, while dining with the family, a child should be fully engaged in the conversation and activity at hand. This is how they learn proper behavior. I've seen, all too often, when the DVD ends, a child screaming for more... while the "adult" conversation continues. Just my opinion. Thanks. Any thoughts, folks?

P.S. This concept works for us church goers too. Just replace the activities with those of a religious nature, based on your faith. It's not sacrilegious if a two year old doesn't listen to everything during a service, God knows they don't have a long attention span... He made them. I am an advocate for taking your child to service, rather them dropping them in the nursery, as long as your church supports this. Usually, it will, when they see how respectful and well behaved your child is. One of our biggest compliments is when people turn around and say, "I didn't even know you had the children with you."

An Update…and Restaurant Manners?

As my loyal viewers know, the Mommy has been working a long stretch. We are now in our sixth consecutive day… only two more to go! The Mommy manages a restaurant ¼ of a mile away from the sixth largest mall in America, which means it’s incredibly busy, all the time. It also means she makes a good enough living to have me home with the little people.

But, this doesn’t come without a price… a hefty one at that. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Mommy was home for a total of 6 ½ hours. She left at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday, got home at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and went back to work at 9:00 a.m. until 7 p.m. last night. We don’t complain, this is the nature of her business, although extremely hard on her, and us, as well, this is our life. It’ll be worth it this weekend when we celebrate the Helper’s birthday… we’ll all be exhausted but we’ll definitely have fun!

One thing I’d like to talk about is “Restaurant Manners,” specifically pertaining to children… but we adults aren’t exempt from this either.

From the time my children could sit up on their own they have been instructed on how to behave in public. The Helper can sit at a table, eat his meal, drink his beverage, and carry on a conversation, all without screaming, carrying on, or running around disturbing other diners. His mother would actually kill him if he did such things, so it’s more of a self preservation thing than good behavior. Manners matter, especially in public. It’s a reflection of the parent’s effort and skill. When a child is rude and disruptive everyone suffers, and it’s not their fault, they’re children. Dining out is discretionary spending and, as such, should be an enjoyable experience for all. If a child can’t behave properly, in a public situation, then he/she shouldn’t be placed in that situation. Don’t set them up for failure.

One last note about concerning us adults; reward good service! The Mommy has been in this industry since she was 13 years old, that’s right 13. She has risen through the ranks from busser/server to manager/chef. It still amazes me how people can treat workers in the service industry so poorly. If they only knew what went into providing that meal in front of them… like a mother only getting to spend 15 minutes in a 60 hour period with her 3 month old baby. Thanks folks and remember to tip your servers on the way out!

Have a great day, as always, thanks for reading, come again soon.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You Asked For It... You Got It!

As per your requests, here’s another chapter in The Daddy & His Helper…

After I fed the baby and put him down for his morning nap I slipped in a quick shower. As most of you can relate to, one must take advantage of these “breaks in the action.”

As a man with a #3 buzz cut, my showers don’t last very long and I always keep the door open to listen for breaking glass or the smell of smoke.

As he usually does, the Helper came to visit me during my morning ritual.

He updates me on his last 3 minutes of activity:


“Daddy, I need my crayons and paper, please!”

“One minute buddy, Daddy will be right out.”

“Okay.”

[He disappears and returns a couple minutes later.]

“Daddy, I’m sitting at the kitchen table fixing your WATCH!”

“What?!”

“I’m fixing your WATCH, it’s broken.”

“Okay, honey let Daddy finish, I’ll be right there!”

“’Kay!”

(Important Tidbit: My watch is great; a beautiful Timex Expedition with a digital compass. No… I don’t go hiking in the wilderness -- I don’t camp either. I have no need for the compass except it makes me happy and lets me know what direction I’m going… a man and his toys.)

After finishing up the task at hand, I proceeded to the kitchen to survey the damage. The watch’s display was showing characters resembling the Cyrillic alphabet. I don’t speak Russian so this is going to take a while.... Now where did I put that little tiny owner's manual.

“See Daddy, didn’t I do a great job? I fixed it for you?”

“You sure did buddy!”

Suffice it to say I will be running in circles for the rest of the day… “North! North! Where the Hell is North!”

Today’s Lessons:

1. Don’t touch things that don’t belong to you!
2. Safeguard all personal property before leaving a room!
3. Order “Learn to speak Russian in 500 easy steps” from Amazon.com

For those of you who just can’t get enough Helper, check out this post “Laugh or Cry: A Top Ten List” – an oldie but a goody!

Hello, Is Anybody Out There?

Through my friends at Daddy Diary Tales and Wiping Up Snot, I have discovered that it’s National De-lurking Week. Not to bore you with the details but, LID has had 65 different readers this week (I know, pathetic, this is no Oh, The Joys) and 32 comments. But, those comments were left by only 7 readers.

Please comment, they don’t have to be long winded diatribes, just a short, “Hey, How ya doin’, Great Post?” or “I hate you, I’ll never read this crap again!” will be just fine. Let me know what you’d like to see more of; perhaps my cute funny stories about the Helper, or maybe, my witty sarcastic takes on life, perhaps you would like more serious introspective commentary -- whatever it is please denote your preference in the comment sections. I promise to give them the attention they deserve… my door is always open. For those of you who won’t comment… move over and let someone else read there’s a line behind you! As always, thanks for reading, come again soon, your business is appreciated!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Important Background Information: The Helper and I share the same first name, though he’s not a junior. A gift from my wife; because if he was the only son we would ever have I wanted him to share my name… and she was heavily sedated at the time.

“Chris…Chris…”

“I’m not Chris, I’m Daddy, you’re Chris.”

“No I’m NOT, I’m Christopher!” *Hands on Hips* [Stamps one foot]

“You’re Chris, too.”

“No I’m NOT, I’m Christopher, you are Chris!” *Finger Point in Face* [Stamps both feet]

“Okay, you know I’m Christopher too, we have the same name.”

“No we don’t… you’re Daddy!”


Never saw it comin’ folks.

You know your old and feeble when you verbally spar with your 4 year old and he kicks your butt!