Friday, February 9, 2007

The Baby!

As promised, here's this week's edition of Photo Friday featuring the Baby! Obviously, at only 4 months of age there are less pictures of him than the Helper. I've sifted through them and posted the nine I like the best... so far! Because there were only nine I decided to put them in the FilmLoop Player. Enjoy!

Stay At Home Father Survey

I got this the other day and am just getting around to posting it... please check it out:

"My name is Dr. Aaron Rochlen and I am a Dad and an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Texas who specializes in research on men and masculinity. My research team is working on a study of Stay-at-Home Fathers. In particular, we are studying how men adjust to this new role and how it impacts their lives and relationships.

The study uses an online questionnaire that should take no longer than 15-20 minutes.

It really should be an interesting experience to complete the surveys - and it is definitely a much needed area of research!! The study has been approved by the IRB (Institutional Review Board) at UT."


Thursday, February 8, 2007

A New Look for an Old Kitchen

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tool Box Thursday. This week I’m going to cover some options for upgrading your kitchen’s look, for the fraction of the cost of a full remodel. Also, this week I’ve included some great web resources that I use on a regular basis.


In today’s world, the Kitchen has become the most popular room in the house. It’s also the room that is most often remodeled and upgraded. A home’s value is often closely associated with the kitchen; its look, the appliances, floor coverings and overall “feel.”

Fully remodeling a kitchen is a large undertaking. The cost associated with a full kitchen remodel can be in the ten of thousands of dollars. But there are some options that will provide an entirely new look at a fraction of the cost.

Many DIY shows cover cost saving kitchen upgrades. Below I have put together some tried and true methods that not only change the feel and appearance of a kitchen, but actually add to a home’s value.

By making some relatively inexpensive cosmetic changes you can put your money into better appliance upgrades. Believe it or not the biggest portion of a kitchen remodeling budget is sucked up by the cabinets and the counter tops. Often the appliances are secondary. Stoves, refrigerators, sinks, faucets and dishwashers get used everyday. More attention and resources should go into these items rather than a $100 a square foot granite counter. That’s just my opinion. High quality, energy efficient appliances, not only make the kitchen fun and easy to use, they can save you money; whereas, new cabinets and counters only cost money. If they don’t happen to be the taste of a prospective buyer they haven’t added any value. New quality appliances only add value.

The suggestions below involve using your existing kitchen layout and cabinets. Customers often tell me they want to replace all the cabinets… perfectly good quality boxes. Often they don’t have the resources to change the layout (a very expensive option), they just crave a new look. Here are my suggestions:


Older wood cabinets are actually better quality than many new “home center” bargain cabinets. But, often they appear dated, dark, and dingy. Most of you have heard or seen ads for cabinet re-facing companies. While this is definitely an option, with a little time and effort you can achieve similar results yourself.

Consider replacing the doors and drawer fronts, hinges and door hardware.

For a fraction of the cost of a new cabinet (and without the mess), doors can be changed very easily. I use two companies, Cabinet Door Shop and Cabinet Door Depot. They manufacture new doors to your specifications. They have many, many styles to choose from, and these are high quality doors.

By changing door styles you can also change a cabinet from a storage unit to a display unit by using glass doors. Adding some inexpensive low voltage lighting inside these cabinets makes the content pop! Having some glass shelves cut at a local glass supply place adds a touch of elegance.

I suggest refinishing or painting the actual cabinet boxes yourself. When painting a cabinet that’s been previously stained you’ll have to do some sanding to rough up the surface, then apply a high quality primer, before your finish coats. Make sure to fill any holes and scratches prior to applying the primer.

I use a company called Rockler for all my hinges, knobs, and pulls. They have everything you’ll need to change a cabinet’s hardware.

A note about painting the doors; I don’t recommend you do this yourself. The doors take a tremendous amount of abuse. While it may look easy on TV to prime and paint a cabinet door, I have found that over time the finish will start to show signs of wear relatively quickly. A kitchen is a very harsh environment; steam, moisture, constant opening and closing take its toll on a door. My suggestion is that you look in the yellow pages under “Spray Finishers” or “Spray Finishing.” You can take your doors to them and have a professional finish put on that will last a lifetime; sometimes this finish is better than automotive standards. They will match any color or stain you want and apply layers of clear sealant that will protect the doors.

Counter Tops:

While granite, solid surface, and natural stone counter tops are all the rage, I prefer a good old high pressure laminate. Why? High pressure laminate counter tops are still the least expensive choice, and with today’s color and finish choices they rival the look of materials costing much more. They’re durable, easy to clean and require no maintenance. Remember, all natural stone surfaces require sealing annually.

Laminate counters can be changed when you want a new look. If you invest $5000 in granite counter and you decide 5 years later you’re not happy with the look anymore, you will probably not be in a rush to swap out the counter. But a $600 counter that’s given you the same five years of service can be easily swapped out in a weekend… and you can do it yourself with some basic knowledge and tools.

“But prospective buyers want granite.”

People want the granite look; granite and natural stone counter tops convey a feeling of luxury. But they really are not practical. They require periodic maintenance and a large investment. I’ve actually installed a granite look laminate counter top in a $2 million home in the Hamptons, to rave reviews from the homeowner, Realtor, and prospective buyers.

Remember, styles and tastes change over time. That beautiful black slab of $10,000 granite may actually detract from a home’s value in the future.

Two top providers of high pressure laminate counter tops are Wilsonart® and Formica®.
Both companies often have sample chips at all the large home center chains. Also, a larger sample piece can be ordered. Something I would definitely suggest doing, once you’ve narrowed your choices down to two or three. These samples are usually 12”x12” and provide a better representation of the actual product. The samples a cost a few dollars but are worth it. Also, laminate counters can have many different options in edge detailing and back splashes.

“But, I really need granite for cooking and baking.”

I suggest that you use some granite or stone tiles in a section to create a workspace or accent area. A popular use of granite and stone tile is on an island or peninsular section. You get real granite or stone, at a fraction of the cost and you can do it yourself.


One of the best ways to improve a kitchen’s look and feel is by installing a new floor. I suggest either the popular laminate flooring products like Pergo® ,DuPont®, Wilsonart® or vinyl goods, whether tile or sheet goods. I do not recommend ceramic or stone tile on kitchen floors. They may look great but definitely have some disadvantages.

Ceramic and stone floors are very hard; hard to stand on, hard when something’s dropped on them and they’re cold. Unless you have radiant floor heating under them, these floors are extremely cold in the winter months. Also, these floors usually have “grout” joints. While these joints can be sealed to prevent staining, the sealant wears off over time and the joints become dirty and an eyesore.

I suggest installing floors that are seamless. Kitchen floors get wet. They get washed, mopped, spilled on, etc. The floor should not have any grooves, joints, or seams that could produce a failure in the future. The new laminate floors lock together to provide tight joints; sheet vinyl is seamless by its very nature. With a little instruction and some basic tools, laminate floors can be installed easily. These floors also have the advantage of either having foam backing or are installed over a thin foam sheet. This makes the floor extremely quiet and soft to walk on. Laminate floors are a great choice when under floor radiant heat is used. They’re very stable in nature and can withstand the changes in temperature quite well.

Some Final Thoughts and Links:

Create a budget with high end, good quality, energy saving appliances at the top of the list. Then decide what you can do to freshen up the look of the existing cabinets, counters and floors. You’ll always get your money back for the appliance investment, but not always for your choice in finishes.

With some hard work and creativity, a $5,000 investment can look like a $25,000 remodel. Trust me, I know, I’ve done it!

The Kitchen Faucet should be one of your biggest investments in a kitchen.
It gets used more than any other item!

There are a million web sites out there offering tips and information for do-it-yourselfers. I’ve narrowed it down to some great comprehensive sites that offer “real” advice and instruction. I use these sites often.

For Plumbing Advice, Issues, and Problems:

For DIY Advice and Information:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Some Quick Notes...

A new Stay-At-Home-Dad blog has just emerged. Our very own Working Gal’s hubby, Big Papa, has created Big Papa’s Place. If his first post is any indication of what’s to come, Mike and I will be getting a run for our money in the levity department. But then the Talker and the Helper could use the competition. Go check it out! This is one funny, funny Papa!

Our dear friend, Jessica, of Oh,The Joy’s, posted a beautiful letter to her grandfather today. If you’re up to it, go check it out! Our continued thoughts and prayers are with her during this difficult time.

The Helper has left for an overnight stay at Nannie’s. This time it wasn’t my idea. The Mommy needs the time to catch up on some of her household duties tomorrow – her first day off in a while. Besides, he’s already bounced off all of these walls. The change of scenery will do me him good! Hopefully, he’ll keep the cursing to a minimum.

Whew! Maybe I can wait until payday on Friday to pick up that new fish. Hey, every 29¢ counts folks!

Kids, Pets and Death!

An old adage says, “When you buy life, you buy death, too.” Those of us with pets understand that they will not live forever. But, when the time comes, explaining it to your children it can be a difficult thing. One thing, I really try to convey to my children is a sense of compassion and charity for others, and all life matters… except for bees, wasps and moths, some spiders… well you get the idea!

At what age does a child learn that life has an end?

Nobody ever “dies” on Playhouse Disney.

You’ll remember, a few weekends ago, the Helper, his sister and I stopped off to buy some new fish. I had just re-set up our tank… clean and beautiful. It had sat for a week without any swimmers, letting the water and temperature adjust gradually. But then we were ready. To be honest, the Helper was getting a little antsy about not having any fish in the tank… sort of a “why bother” attitude. So we bought two big, beautiful, 29¢, goldfish. No more $6.99 tropical fish for me. The pressure of feeding the other six mouths is enough.

All was fine for a couple of weeks… then last night things started to head downhill. One of our new fish was dying. Not a big shock! I was surprised they had made it that long. Yes, I remembered to feed them. So here’s last night’s conversation on the passing of his new fish… my compassionate son:

“Daddy, the fish is tired, he’s laying on the bottom… I think he’s cryin’” [Compassion; Proud Dad]

“I know, Sweetie, he’s sick, I don’t think he’s going to be with us much longer.”

“You mean he’s gonna DIE!” [Shocked Daddy; Didn’t even know he knew that word.]

“Yeah, Honey… he’s probably going to die.” [Honest Dad]

“Okay… [Introspective 4 year old thinking] How do we get him out of there?”

“With a net, Honey.”

“Great, then we can go buy a new one! Tomorrow!”

So much for compassion for all living things. Hopefully, when the time comes for the pets of a furry nature to pass he’ll have a little more remorse. And, hopefully, that’s not for a very long time.

Now, my concern is, if I happen to get sick and lie around will he pester the Mommy to take him to the store to buy a new Daddy?

“Mommy… Daddy’s sick…He’s gonna die, can we go get a new one tomorrow?”

And when it started you thought this was going to be a serious discussion, didn’t you?

…Have you met the Helper?

Well, back to the "wars" folks, have a great day! I have to go scrounge up a quarter for a new fish!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I Can't Believe I Just Said That...

The Helper has taken this helping Daddy clean a bit too far, I think...

Running around the house with his own dustbuster (you know - the battery operated toy ones - that actually work), the Helper was cleaning every nook and cranny. What a guy! Until...


"Why? He likes it!"



Cat's fine, though he's hiding now... I may not see him until spring! The Helper continues to remove dust and dirt from the building. I think he was just thinking why wait until the cat's hair is on the pillows... I'll just suck it off his body... eliminate the middle man!

God, I Love This Kid... always thinking!

Tuesday's Truth - 2/6/2007 Part II

Are you a Dad or a Daddy?

Dads say, “NO!”
Daddies say, “YES!”

Dads ask, “Why?”
Daddies say, “Why Not!”

Dads are stern and commanding.
Daddies cuddle on the couch.

Dads enforce the rules and hold you accountable for your actions.
Daddies know when to break the rules and wipe away tears.

Dads say “Walk,” “Don’t Run.”
Daddies encourage running and jumping.

Dads teach you the value of earning your own money.
Daddies wallet’s are always open.

Dads teach you how to be a responsible adult.
Daddies want to keep you a child forever.

Dads show you how to give a proper handshake.
Daddies show you how to hug.

Dads teach you manners and civility.
Daddies teach you how to have fun and be carefree.

Dads teach you how to drive.
Daddies teach you how to ride a bike.

Dads teach you how to fish.
Daddies take you fishing.

Dads tell you when to go to bed.
Daddies read you a story, hug, and kiss you goodnight.

Dads tell you not to break things.
Daddies can fix anything from toys, to hearts, to egos.

Dads explain what True Love is.
Daddies provide examples.

My Helper uses BOTH of these monikers when addressing me… I must be doing something right…

Today’s Lesson:

Dads teach us to handle whatever life throws at us;

Daddies stand next to us and help catch.

Tuesday's Truth - 2/6/2007

Today’s Tuesday’s Truth is going to start off with some links and libations. A life’s lesson article will follow this afternoon… once it’s finished. With the Mommy working nights, I’ve been a little busy with the “little people.”

Also, some new additions here at LID include: Latest Parenting News & Home Improvement News. They can be found on the Right Hand Sidebar; provided by So far, some great stuff.

This Week’s Links:

Some Great Resource Sites for Dads:

Dad Center

Dad Stays Home

Steve, at Inside Fatherhood put up a great piece this week:

Are You A CPR Dad?

A New Online Magazine just for Father's:

The Father Life

A B5 Media Blog for Mother’s (a companion site to Steve’s, Inside Fatherhood):

Inside Motherhood

Angel, at Angel’s Cloud, put up her first installment of Monday’s Design Corner:

The Psychology of Color: Part 1 – “RED”

Angel, at Queen of Drama, posted and article that really makes you think:

What Does “Living Life” Really Mean?

My pick from Long Island Dad:

Important Dryer Safety

Finally, the last plug for my new site layout and look:

Thur Broeders Templates

Now for the Libations…

This came to me the other day via email, author unknown…

Being a man I found it hysterical! I’m sure they’ll be a lot of *head nodding* by my female readership…along with questions regarding registration forms...




Classes begin Monday, March 5, 2007

Class 1
How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays --- Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.

The Toilet Paper Roll --- Does It Change Itself?
Round Table Discussion.

Class 3
Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub? --- Group Practice.

Class 4
Fundamental Differences between the Laundry Hamper and The Floor --- Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.

Class 5
After Dinner Dishes --- Can They Levitate and Fly Into The Kitchen Sink?
Examples on Video.

Class 6
Loss of Identity --- Losing the Remote to Your Significant Other.
Help Line Support and Support Groups.

Class 7
Learning How To Find Things --- Starting With Looking In The Right Places
And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming.
Open Forum .

Class 8
Health Watch --- Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health.
Graphics and Audio Tapes.

Class 9
Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost --- Real Life Testimonials.

Class 10
Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?
Driving Simulations.

Class 11
Learning to Live --- Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.
Online Classes and role-playing

Class 12
How to be the Ideal Shopping Companion
Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.

Class 13
How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy --- Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You're Going To Be Late.
Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered.

Class 14
The Stove/Oven --- What It Is and How It Is Used.
Live Demonstration.

Upon completion of any of the above courses, diplomas will be issued to the survivors.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Important Dryer Safety

I received this email today. I thought it was important to pass along. Please remember that when exposed to heat, dryer sheets can become transparent. The dryer screen may appear clean when it really isn't. Please pull out your dryer lint screens and WASH them! It's the only way to know, for sure, that they're clean.


I had a wonderful morning, until the heating unit went out on my dryer! The guy that fixes things went in to the dryer pulled out the lint filter.

It was clean. We always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.He told us that he wanted to show us something. He took the filter over to the sink, ran hot water over it. Now, the lint filter is made of a mesh material - I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like.

WELL......the hot water just sat on top of the mesh!!! It didn't go through it at all!!!

He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire - - - potentially burn your house down with it!

He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (& to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out & wash it with hot soapy water using an old toothbrush ( or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!

How about that! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that. So, I thought I'd share!

NOTE: I went to my dryer & tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran thru a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water & a nylon brush & I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it and the water ran right thru the screen! There wasn't any puddle of water at all!

That repairman knew what he was talking about!

Monday Morning Quarterback - 2/5/2007

The Circle of Life

Last night, after all my site tweaking was done, and the children were in bed, and in between the raindrops of the Superbowl, I went “visiting”…

I found out our dear friend Jessica, from Oh, The Joys, posted a piece about her grandfather. He’s very ill, but according to Jessica, he’s comfortable. If you get a chance go “visit” Jess and take a look at the great picture she posted. My thoughts and prayers are with Jessica and her family.

I also read that our friend, Steve, from Inside Fatherhood, welcomed the arrival of his beautiful baby daughter yesterday morning, Meghan Alexis. Congratulations to Steve, his wife, and the rest of his brood… this makes five for him! Interesting note; Steve’s baby was born at home! For more information on at home births visit Steve's site... and ask him!

The Superbowl XLI

While I did watch most of Superbowl XLI on my big TV, as the only adult in the building last night, I was up and down a million times. That is, until the sweet relief of bedtime arrived. I used the halftime break to say good night and tuck in my little men, so I missed Prince’s performance. Oh, well… putting my guys to bed was more important than his Royal Purpleness.

Sorry, Drama Mama… to you and your family. There’s always next year. Congratulations to all you Indianapolis fans, enjoy it, because it won’t happen next year, you’re no New England Patriots… and I think our Big Green Machine will go all the way!

The Baby’s Four Month Check Up

On Saturday, the Mommy took the baby for his four month doctor’s visit. He gained another pound and another inch. Such a healthy, happy kid!

It seems though, at four months old, he’s not satisfied with his liquid diet anymore. The doctor recommended that he actually start some solid food. I know this isn’t usually begun until at least six months, but our little guy was up to 40 ounces of formula a day. He’s not chubby; he’s still in the 75th percentile for weight, he’s just not satisfied. They grow up so fast!

Of course he got some shots (needed vaccinations) too… his least favorite thing in the world. Well, he actually doesn’t have much to compare it too, so it actually makes it worse. I did not go to the appointment with Mommy and the Baby. I stayed home with the other two. After the appointment, Mommy dropped the Baby home and went up to the store for some “solid” food, a.k.a baby cereal and fruits, and a prescription he needed. Both our sons suffer/suffered from bad cases of eczema on their heads. When he was a baby, The Helper’s went away immediately after using the prescription ointment. We’re hoping for the same with the Baby. It’s amazing how brother’s can be so similar… yet so different.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Forget Christmas, Forget Back to School… this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Yes, that’s right, tax preparation season. Between January 31st and April 15th millions of us receive tax refunds, some of you have to pay… I’m sorry for that.

In Saturday’s mail was the last piece of financial documentation we needed to complete our tax returns. Whooo Hoooo! Savvy fans of Long Island Dad will put together the fact that we had a baby this year… in October… which means a bigger refund. Again, Whooo Hoooo!

Long Island Dad is a big fan of this tax preparation software. I’ve used it for years and it’s never let me down. It took me about an hour to prepare and e-file our returns… 10-14 days until our back account is flush again. Ah, direct deposit; a man’s best friend!

But then reality sets in and the bill folder gets opened… Alas, our wonderful financial windfall will be put to good use, supplying the much needed electricity and heat, as well as, food for the brood.

It’s still the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, though… when else does the government give you back cold hard cash?

Weather Update: Friggin' Cold... 10 Degrees upon awaking this morning! But... Sunny, if that's any consolation! It's NOT!

That’s it for this week’s edition of Monday Morning Quarterback. Thanks for visiting! Oh, and please comment on the new look… or anything else.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Big Game... The Big TV!

The Mommy is working this evening so there will be no big Superbowl party at Long Island Dad's house. Not such a big deal... seeing as our beloved JETS are not participating this year. While I'll still be watching this year's extravaganza, it's outcome really doesn't matter... to me. Of course, there's the National Anthem being sung by Long Island's own Billy Joel, and, then there are the commercials, and the all important Half-Time show.

This year though, my excitement is definitely at an all time high... why you ask? Because this year Long Island Dad has a big new TV -- A 42" SONY WEGA HDTV! After 42 years on this earth I have acquired one of man's greatest inventions... a large screen TV.

A note about High Definition TV (for those of you you haven't had the pleasure)... there's something to be said for being able to see droplets of sweat fly through the air after two large men collide.

No, LID's not a rich man... I have kids, remember? You see, my neighbors' were remodeling their home this fall and decided to replace their TV with a new Phillips Flat Screen. They offered me their existing 18 month old set for $900. A great price considering the TV was $2,500 just a year and a half ago. Well, at the time, I didn't have an extra $900 for such an extravagance... let's be serious, I never have an extra $900. But, I did have something they wanted... it seemed, "Mrs. Neighbor" wanted their living room, hallway, and kitchen painted. I offered to do it in exchange for the TV of my Dreams! Deal struck; everyone was ecstatic! I bought the paint and spent three days working off my barter. Everyone got what they wanted!

There's a lesson in here for the kids, too... sometimes an item is often more appreciated if you use your time and talents to acquire it, rather than just paying cash!

So I'll be watching, and as promised to Drama Mama, will be rooting for 'da Bears! Not really a stretch for me... you see the COLTS are an AFC team... our beloved JETS are an AFC team... get my drift? If we can't have it then no one can! Petty I know, but this is sports, folks... it brings out the inner child in all of us. Nothing sophisticated about grown men running after a small, weird shaped ball, just for the heck of it!

So if you need me after 6 p.m. tonight, you'll know where I'll be... my big comfy chair, feeding the baby, yelling, "Get out of the way!" at the Helper, just enjoying my Big Monster TV!

And Now... A New Look!

With my new ability to change my header, I thought it might be time for a fresh look here at LID. I went on a search for 3-column templates that work with the new blogger. Lo and behold a great gentleman from the Netherlands, Thur Broeders, had been working very hard on just such a thing. The layout you see is fully customizable, from colors to fonts, to layout size. Between Jeff and Thur, LID is getting closer to the look and feel I want.

Please visit Jeff's and Thur's sites. They're both great.

A million thanks!