Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guest posting at Arlee Birds' memoir blog

If I'm going to do this guest posting thing right, I suppose I should let people know that it is happening.  If you head to Wrote By Rote, another Bruckheimer, I mean Arlee Bird production, you will see a guest post from me that he graciously accepted for publishing.

Mr Bird's on vacation and invited us to invade his space and so I offered and he accepted. The post has been up since Saturday and as its already Tuesday night, I am pretty late in announcing it! Sorry, Lee.

I hope it will be worth the click. Its some thoughts I've been having recently about life. And how to live it. Simple enough?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day has come and gone

Did we all do our duty?

Did we all cower and beg for forgiveness from our fathers for all we put them through?

I love you dad.
I'm sorry.
Thanks for loving me still!
You continue to be a good example to me today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What does it take to become important?

It used to amaze me over the years that when asking students ( I usually taught grade 7 and or 8), what they wanted to be when they grew up, their answer often was "a famous fill-in-the-blank". By extension then, if I am not famous, I am a failure.
 I puzzled about this over the years. Why did they want to be a famous hockey player, artist, writer, movie star, etc.? Why not a successful one? Why not a talented one? Why not a respected one? Was fame the god they were chasing and not the role itself?
 In our western culture, where its not what you know, but who you know, where its better to be popular than to be right, where there's no such thing as bad publicity, how do we protect our kids from chasing fame, at the expense of a worthwhile trait?
 How do you promote celebrity in your home?
 How do you talk about celebrities?
 How do you talk about yourself and fame?
 How can we promote effort over results?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Willingness Skills

Rather than just repeating the same thing to your child over and over regarding conflict resolution:
     "Stop that!",      "Be nice to him/her",   "How would you like it?", etc..., how about trying out teaching them these important skills (tips picked up from the excellent workbook on bullying, No Kidding Abour Bullying by Naomi Drew.? She calls them "willingness skills", as they are skills that must be learned if you are really willing to resolve conflicts. They are:
       Hear out the other person
       Be patient

         Why is it so important to be willing to work out conflicts?
         Which willingness skill is most challenging for you?
         How can you work on that?

I know its complex and this is not the answer to all our bullying/conflict problems. But there is certainly something to this. I am determined to give it a shot this week. Who's in?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Greed is getting me down

Greed is good. Or so, it’s been said. It’s been proven wrong. Sadly, Gordon Gekko has been copied, emulated, dreamed up and re-incarnated a million times since (and a billion times before) he first walked across the silver screen. Where were the warnings before it all fell apart back in ’08?

The warnings were there and it didn’t fall apart in ’08. The Fall came long, long ago. Now money has become one of our most revered gods. Even as we struggle to get our governments, businesses and banks in line with regard to money, what are we doing to start at home? Canadian consumer debt is not getting better in fact it is getting worse. We are not taking warnings, we are losing the greed battle. Is it any better anywhere else?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tuesday's Tunes: Drive, by Alan Jackson

It's painted red, the stripe was white
It was eighteen feet from the bow to the stern light
Second hand from a dealer in Atlanta
I rode up with Daddy when he went there to get her
Put on a shine, put on a motor
Built out of love, made for the water
Ran her for years, till the transom got rotten
A piece of my childhood will never be forgotten

It was just an old plywood boat
A '75 Johnson with electric choke
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it make me feel
And I would turn her sharp
And I would make her whine
He'd say, you can't beat the way an old wood boat rides
Just a little lake across the Alabama line
But I was king of the ocean
When Daddy let me drive

Just an old half-ton shortbed Ford
My uncle bought new in '64
Daddy got it right 'cause the engine was smoking
Couple of burned valves and he had it going
He let me drive here when we'd haul off a load
Down a dirt strip where we'd dump trash off of Thigpen Road
Sit up in the seat and stretch my feet out to the pedals
Smiling like a hero that just received his medal

It was just an old hand-me-down Ford
With three-speed on the column and a dent in the door
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And I would press that clutch
And I would keep it right
And he'd say, a little slower son you're doing just fine
Just a dirt road with trash on each side
But I was Mario Andretti
When Daddy let me drive

I'm grown up now three daughters of my own
To let them drive my old Jeep across a pasture in our home
Maybe one day they'll reach back in their file
And pull out that old memory
And think of me and smile, and say

Just an old worn-out Jeep
Rusty old floorboard, hot on my feet
A young girl two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And he'd say, turn it left and steer it right
Straighten up girl now you're doing just fine
Just a little valley by the river where we'd ride
But I was high on a mountain
When Daddy let me drive

When Daddy let me drive
Oh he let me drive
Daddy let me drive

It's just an old plywood boat
With a '75 Johnson with electric choke

Monday, May 07, 2012

Make 'em work for it.

I read two very interesting books last week. Not blogging frees up several minutes for other valuable things like reading. Both books were by Donald Miller, best known for his best selling Blue Like Jazz memoir. The two I read were Father Fiction and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years .

The salient point to this blog that Miller makes in the first book is that we too often look at work as a curse and pass that idea along to our children. This brings about a sense of wanting things for nothing, but also of viewing work itself as a negative thing. Effort is required, Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Tuesday's Tunes - Wide Eyed Wonder Girl- The Choir

This week, its "the choir" and their gentle salute to a daughter. This one was always a favorite of mine, even
 before I had a daughter.

Wide-eyed wonder girl
Starin' into the sky, wonderin' why
It's a good, great world
But it turns around
Never mind the ground

Look up high, stars above
Please don't cry, Father's love
Hold on tight to His hand
Dream tonight, understand


Look up high, dancing bear
Please don't cry, daddy's prayer
Hold on tight to my hand
Dream tonight, wonderland

Wide-eyed wonder girl
Starin' into the sky, wonderin' why
It's a good, great world
But it turns you'll see
Hold on tight to me....re I had a daughter.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Zee end eez upon us

So, we've arrived at the farther end of this April journey. None-the-worse for wear from the looks of you all.

What have we learned, "not to do it again"? No. We have learned we can do this. I have learned that dial up internet is still as frustrating as it was in March. Why do we live in the only house in our county that has no access to anything faster...that doesn't cost $100?

I would like to invite you to hit "followers" and come back again. This is a dad blog and will be aiming to hit a broader daddy market. Please come back and I will see many of you in some of the other closely connected blog challenges that will no doubt be popping up!

God's peace to you!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yell with your mouth shut

Don’t say it.  
Just don’t say it.  
You never regret not saying something in anger.  Saying it will only ruin it.  You’re working on something bigger than whatever you’re mad about.  Don’t say it, yell with your mouth shut. As a tiny little Irish rock and roll band said, "Scream without raising your voice". 

For that matter, think of the things we never regret...ever hear anyone say, "I wish I spent more time at the office." or "I wish I had had more to drink"? Hmmm.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-rays

Falling builds character. 

I used to use that line a lot when I didn’t have kids.  I find I don’t say it too often anymore.  I still believe it, I just have a harder time wanting to see my kids build character that way.  Broken bones are not the end of the world.  That’s why the designed xray machines, to figure out the problem and then fix it.  Let your kids play.  Teach them to be safe.  But broken bones??? Hmmm...

Notice the changes in your local playground over the past ten years. Where are the swings, the teeter-totters, the old climbing apparatus? Now there is a bed of cotton balls surrounded by a safety-net. Has our love of insurance, law-suits and fear itself brought us to this point? Is that why we are content to have our children sitting on the edge of their bed playing X-Box (two more x's!) because carpal tunnel is an okay child affliction but a broken wrist is not? Are we subtracting parental common sense and adding safety bars to take its place?

Who do we blame? Pass the mirror.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wrap it Up

I used to be a real lecturer. As a teacher, I could go on and on. If a student did something out of line, I could tell them five ways why it was wrong, how to do it better, what to try next time, etc...kind of like this sentence. As a parent its easy to do that too.

I began to realize that after the few sentences my eleven to fourteen year old students were not succumbing to my logic but either tuning out or cowering in self-loathing- neither the truly desired results.

One or two well placed sentences followed by a conversation seemed to work much better.

This is so much more important with younger children too. A pile of words in their rear view mirror does not help them to become the people we desire. They rarely check that mirror anyway. I am endeavouring to keep my words few and the dialogue open. Its hard, especially since I have it all together...subdued laughter here... but worth it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Five

I know, it would be better to use X is for Ten, x being the much trickier letter to come up with something original for, but "X" is already written, and Five is more significant...

We have five children, let me tell you their story.

Our oldest is sixteen. She just began to drive last weekend. She's only been on the road two times and the police have suggested never again...just kidding...She loves life, her bird, reading, playing cello, and most of all, not school! We have had a great few days in a row with her watching her grow up, driving, taking risks, making excellent choices, hanging out, laughing. Its been a great few days. We know that life isn't easy when you are sixteen, but she's shown a lot of resilience over the years and is showing it again right now. She is awesome.
Four of five in Savannah, Georgia...I know, boys in pyjamas

Our next son is seven, going on seventeen, like his big sister. We were only married ten months when he arrived. Having a much older sister, we thought it would be best for her and any subsequent siblings to have our children as soon as possible so they would have a few years together before our number one girl moved out. He is a tremendous guy. My wife wrote about him just last week. He loves to learn and spend time with people. He just wants to be a man.

Our next son is six. When he was born, the doctor said, "No more". We said, "okay". Number three child is an absolute joy. He is so much like his big sister we always tell her, "if you want to know what you looked like when you were little..." and she has to laugh, though she has never apologized yet... He loves sports and games of any kind. He loves to tease, he loves to snuggle, he is learning to read and is a great math student.

Our next little fella is our three year old foster son. He is so precious. Everyone who knows him sums up their experience with, "He is so well behaved." And he is. He is polite (often). Wants to play (always). Loves his mommy and brothers and grandma. Loves food and copying his older foster brothers too. We have loved having him in our home (one year and four days as of this writing) and it looks like we get to continue to enjoy him for the next several months as well.

My dear wife with her boys
Lastly, we have our three and a half month foster son. He is the reason I am awake right now at 3:53 am typing this. "Live from Orillia, its Wednesday morning!" He too is the best behaved child you can imagine he eats, sleeps, stares and laughs. Our youngest son was laughing with me yesterday that there is only three things that makes him fuss, "feed me", "change me", or "burp me". He seems to be a very happy little guy and what a story he will have to tell some day. We just hope and pray that we can help in giving him the foundation he needs.

There are our five, a longer post than I usually write for A to Z Challenge, but thanks for taking the time!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Under where? Corny dad jokes

Da-a-adddddd… you’ve heard the word and the tone and taken in the accompanying eye-roll.  You’ve wondered at your own sense of humor or lack thereof.  You’ve wondered what happened to your witty repartee that you used to be able to come up with and why its come down to this.  But your kids like it.  They really do…

Or do they?  Some have said that corny dad jokes are designed to make our children want to leave the home, its evolutionary.  I beg to differ.  I believe that corny dad jokes are our way of showing our kids its okay to be silly and have fun and try out the language in fun ways and let down your guard at home.  What other purpose do these jokes serve?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for The times they are a Changin'

One of the worst lines of arguing I know of is the line that says, "Come on, its 2012."
That line has been said for how many decades, centuries, millenia? Insert your own year here...

I think its a sad attempt to say that because its new, it makes it modern and therefore right or okay. "Don't bother thinking about this, ITS 2012 PEOPLE!"

I thought I would borrow two stanzas from Bob Dylan's ode to the 60's and to human history for today's post. I think they are very telling for us as parents. As much as we want to stay current, understand the times, be "hip" and "groovy" or whatever all the "cool cats" are calling it these days, we really don't understand. 

However, the reality is, people is people, kids is kids. For all the changes, there are so many things the same. Its never too old-fashioned to learn integrity, faith, respect, honesty, love, self-awareness, selflessness,  and all the things that you hold dear. Pass it on, for your sake and for your kids. Dylan knew it was important too, the whole song is forlornly wrapped up in the second stanza here (the last of the song) which reminds us that its the curse of our existence, that it will soon be tomorrow.

It is later than you think!

The Times they are a Changin' 
Bob Dylan
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Speak politely to your mother

Set a good example.  Your kids need to respect their mother and you need to both set the example and have the expectation that this is so.  
Presenting a united front with your kids' mom is very important and one of the best ways to do this is to ensure a respectful attitude is always expected toward her.  Stick up for her, she’s your bride.  You want the same for your kids later in life too.  Show them what it means to be loyal to your spouse, so that they will pass on the favor later.

Might I add that this is true for you if your kids mom doesn't live with you?  Far better to pass on that attitude than a bitter sarcastic one.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Respect

“Show some respect”… ever hear those words uttered?  What was the tone of those words?  Was it one of respect?  Perhaps not.

Do you ever hear someone say, “Show some respect by doing this---"? I haven't. We must give respect to get respect, yes.  But I think its okay to teach it too.  "This is respect, or, this is not."  

One of the best ways you can do this is by adopting the phrase that leads tomorrow's post!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for quiet moments

I have pre-scheduled almost all of my A to Z posts. Tomorrow's is written, Saturday's too. Not Thursday's, no. When we first started getting this challenge fired up back in January or so, I proceeded to write almost all of what I am posting this month. I've edited as the days approached, but, the heavy brain work has been done ahead of time.

Not so for "Q".

Q has been eluding me.

Tonight (the night before the Q day) it came to me though.
Q is for Quiet Moments.

One of our sons is a very emotional lad. He carries himself like an adult and has a great desire to learn. Emotions though can and do get the best of him. We've been working with him to get those to work for him, not against him, but its often more of a do-as-I-say, than a do-as-I-do thing.

Well, tonight we had a little sit down, lets-try-this strategy moment with him, and he snuggled in and entered into the idea with us. Then he and I had a few quiet moments to color together. Those quiet moments reminded me of why we do what we do.
We are in this thing together.
Might as well enjoy it and work at making it better.
We want to do it right.

Any suggestions for quiet moments with boys? Or teeanage girls?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Parenting isn't for cowards

We can’t avoid that parenting hurts.  We can’t avoid that parenting is tiring.  We can’t avoid that parenting is hard work and time-consuming and mentally exhausting.

We can’t avoid these realities, but we signed up for this.
And we are not cowards.
We accept the challenge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Once is enough

One of the things that Dr Kevin Leman suggests in his book, Have a New Kid by Friday, is to say things to your children once and then leave it. He postulates that they are intelligent humans and can process what you have said. Assuming you made sure you had their attention before you said your piece, leave it at that. Saying it more than once is telling them you didn't really mean it the first time, or that they weren't really sharp enough to understand with only one chance.

The practicality of this is awkward, depending on the age of your child, the request and where you are, but I do think there are lots of opportunities for us to use this every day. I know we've tried it a little at our place, but I think the jury is still out on how well we are doing.

If you would like a FREE copy of  Have a New Kid by Friday, leave me a comment and I will send it to you. I have other Dr Leman books I am giving away for free, so go to this post and see what to do and what is available.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Name Recognition

Lee over at Tossing it Out has been talking about marketing this A to Z Challenge. Back on the 2nd his topic was Branding. Well, today I’m talking about branding too. More specifically, who are you as a family? Can you answer that? Can your kids? Are the answers the same?

We have been challenged lately to come up with a list of family values. This has made us dig deep and realize at the same time see that some of the things one person sees as being of utmost important, though important to someone else, is not the most important to them.

I think its great to be able to say to our kids, “We are Eastons, we don’t do that.” I think as long as its not about ridiculous things, it’s a great way to live. Any thoughts on that?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Making it through

This is one of those days, where its been too packed to think of a great post, too tiring to put the best words in the best order, too frustrating to smile let alone sing, and too much like other days to make me believe it won't happen again.

 My wife reminded those who read her blog a couple of days ago, that not only is April A to Z Blog Challenge Month, it is also Humor Month. So, in lieu of a spell-binding inspirational post, take this joke as a little help to make it through:

Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Love is a verb

"Rings as hollow as a high school cheer"

It’s a little cliché to say that love is a verb, but it gives pause whenever I hear the phrase.  I say I love my kids, but do my actions back up my words?  Discuss among yourselves.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kisses (and hugs)

Kiss your kids.  You’ll soon be kissing them goodbye.  You don’t know what today brings.  Tomorrow they go to college though.

Equally important, give them hugs, even your ten year old boy.
Even your fourteen year old daughter.  

Hold on to them now, cause ready or not, there they go…

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Just Say No

Do I have to win some kind of superficial dad of the year award by saying “yes” to all my children’s requests? Sure have another snack, go to that party, hang out with those people, read that, watch that, try that...

Far better will be winning dad of the decade by teaching them boundaries and consistent self-restraint by saying “No” at appropriate times.

Why do we always want to say yes? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Imagination play

            When our middle son was approaching two, he was barely speaking.  He just didn’t.  Because he was already under weight and under tall, he was referred to a paediatrician, then to a speech therapist. 

The therapist did one simple thing for us, though admittedly, he had started to speak more by this time.  She suggested we do more imagination play with him.  Pretend we were eating, pretend we were going to school or gramma’s house.  Pretend we were dogs, pretend we were painters, whatever.  This would cause him to have to search for and then use words to describe what he was doing. Up to this point we had given him stuff to do, apparently he just wanted to play.

This really seemed to open up his linguistic world.  You should hear the things he comes up with now, and he reads like a wonder.  He’s still under tall and under weight, but he no longer is under speaking!  And we couldn’t be more pleased.
All that to say, if you have a one or two year old at home, try imagination play to expose them to opportunities to use their spoken language.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Husband and Wife

Today marks our 8th wedding anniversary. The beginning of year number nine. The end of the best year of our relationship, and the hardest one we've gone through together. Its so great to know that the one holding your hand is also pulling the same direction as you and pulling for you at the same time.

I love you Sabrina.

Happy Anniversary.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

G is for Grace based parenting

My dear wife has also used Grace for her word of the day, and I agree whole-heartedly. It is not just word of the day, but word of the life-time.

As far as grace and parenting is concerned, I first saw this a few months ago while looking for parenting resources online. Dr Timothy Kimmel uses this as the basis of his teaching for parents, which focuses us on the understanding of what Grace is, how it has been offered to us, and then passing it along to our kids. It does not mean letting them away with everything, it means giving them love when they step outside their boundaries.

Too many times I hear, "It was good enough for me, its good enough for my kids," as an excuse for what I would label harsh treatment of their kids. It may be time to stop the cycle of harshness in your family. It can begin with you and me.

From Dr Kimmel's site:
                                      "As we embrace the grace God offers, we begin to give it – creating a sound                                                     foundation for raising morally strong and spiritually motivated children."

Friday, April 06, 2012

F is for Followers and no, not that kind all you blogger types

Look behind you, there they are. 
            They follow hard behind you.  
                                They climb where you go, they step in your footprints, they march in step, they play to your drummer, they speak your language. 

            What are they picking up from you? 
                                                                  Sarcasm, short-sightedness and sloth? 
                                                                                                                            Or, joy, effort and love?

(Thank you for following my blog, I crossed the 100 mark yesterday and if things weren't so hectic, I am sure I should be doing something more than mentioning it here! This A to Z Challenge, beginning with the Video Challenge back in January, has brought me from 28 followers to 100. I hope its worth your time.)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

E is for Everywhere you go, you are a dad

            Integrity could be the word for today, but its starts with “I” (non earth-shattering news of the day).  Dads UnLimited has a few underlying passions, but one of the strongest is that I am Dad now and tomorrow and everyday.  I must live a life today that raises my kids to a greater tomorrow. 

What a tragedy for a dad to make a decision that affects his children forever.  Protect them, put on your shining armor and climb up on the white steed.  Forward for your children!

If you'd like a little help, or would like to pass along a little help, please check out some of the resources that I've been privileged to pass along to you. Free books from Dr Kevin Leman! Just leave a comment that you are interested and I will get in touch with you.

By the way, here's a picture my wife found for me today of one of the many reasons I have to stay true to my higher calling of "Dad-hood", our middle child and number one son with his very blessed father:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

D is for Dads and the women who love them

            Where would we be without our kids' mom? 

For most of us she is the woman we can’t wait to see at the end of the work day.  The one we dream about, and with.  The one we struggle to love in the manner she and our kids deserve. 

How about today you make it about her?  How about today you surprise her with your devotion, service and love.  Make a meal, bring home flowers, take up her chores, fulfill that old promise, take her out.  She’s your kids’ mom, but she’s the one you love.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

C is for Coolest Dad Ever!

Closely connected to the “A-post”, your kids see you as awesome. 

How do I know?  I was a kid.  I have kids.  I taught kids. I know lots of kids. 

When they are little you have a few (what seems like ) weeks to show them you are cool.  You can do things they never knew about.  Things they can copy, and do and improve upon.  You can play the spoons!?  You can plink out a little bit of a song!?.  You can jump over THAT!??  You can throw it that far!?  You can skip that rock, name that tree, carve that wood!?  

I don’t know what you can do.  I just know that you can do something awesome.  Because of that, you are the coolest dad ever!

Don’t miss the chance to show your child what is out there for them to do, something they can do and be cool like you.

Monday, April 02, 2012

B is for Beliefs and Aunt "Bee"

Here are a few of the common philosophies and beliefs that rock our kids’ world.  Ideas and ideals that make it hard to be the people we hope and pray they will grow to become.
            He who has the gold, rules.
            Fame is more important than talent.
            What’s popular is good.
            What’s good is not popular.
            Gender doesn’t matter.
            God is dead.
            Challenging the party line is intolerant.

B is also for "Aunt Bee"

Its a bitter-sweet day in our extended family today. Four of my nieces are losing their Aunt Bee for a while. At the same time, two nieces, one nephew, one daughter, two sons and two foster-sons are getting their Aunt Bee back. Three of those people have never met her face-to-face before.

My sister has spent about 720 days in the Philippines living with my brother and his family. My sister-in-law blogs here by the way and she's trying the A to Z Challenge too. Today she rides a silver bird for Canada, her home and native land. We can't wait to see you Aunt Bee (or Cant Bee as one little one says :))

What beliefs do you see out there that challenge our kids worldviews?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A is for Awesome, that's who you are, Dad.

That little guy with your eyes and her nose and your grandma’s knitting talent?  That little lass with her eyes, your nose (poor thing) and her grandad’s woodsplitting ability?  They think you are awesome. 

We won’t tell them that we feel weak and tired and inadequate.  We will live the right way though, to keep them thinking we are awesome, though won’t we?

My posts will be centered on Dads this April, what it means to be a good one, some ideas, some fun stories. I hope you'll keep coming by, even if you're not a dad, or send a dad by, just for fun. Have an Awesome April everyone!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sad Songs Blogfest, the actual songs post...

I have chosen my songs for the Sad Songs blog list and listed them below. I have added a few lines from the song as some of them are not familiar to many people at all. The first six or seven are related to kids or dads. The last few are loss, death and leaving. Sound of Silence seems to be a good bridge between the kid/dad songs and the others as it always reminds me of the alienation of youth because I associate it with The Graduate, though the song itself is not really about kids or dads.

My favorite sad song is the last one on the list. I think I have this one in about ten different versions.

 I am going to call some of these artists out on Facebook today to see if any of them will come by and comment. If you wrote or performed one of these songs, please comment! Thank you for the great lyrics.
Thank you to Diane at Spunk on a Stick for hosting this Blog hop. If you want to see what others came up with head to her blog and follow the links she has there from  Monday's post.

     Hold My Hand
     Ric Alba
I thought I heard a baby cry
It was the man next door
I thought I heard somebody say
Hey, big boys don’t cry anymore

     Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love
Brought a new friend home to watch TV
To help you deal with the anxiety
She measured out her love in ounces

     Tears in Heaven
     Eric Clapton
Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

     The Rub of Love
     Chagal Guevara
Every other week on visiting day
I get tolerated by his new wife.
I swear if he ever really held me
They'd have to pry me off with the 
Jaws of Life.

Old Man Look at My Life
Neil Young
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.
I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.

     Trent Reznor, but as performed by
     Johnny Cash
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

     Youth of the Nation
I guess that's the way the story goes
Will it ever make sense
Somebody's got to know
There's got to be more to life than this
There's got to be more to everything
I thought exists 

     The Sound of Silence
     Simon and Garfunkel
 And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"

     Don’t This Way
     The 77’s
Don't Look This Way, Closed Eyes, Unmoving Lips
Don't Feel This Way, Cold Hands and Fingertips

     Don’t Cry
     Adam Again
Hey, ho
Its time to go
Time to say,
Say good-bye

     Ain’t No Sunshine
     Bill Withers
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
Wonder if she’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
This house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sad Songs Blogfest

Since April is fast approaching, and with April comes the A to Z Challenge, I thought I would get in a little practice first. Friday I will add my ideas to the Sad Songs Blogfest. It’s a great fun idea, so add your name and play along! I know what number one on my list is already as it is at or near the top of my list of favorite songs of all time. It seemed appropriate in light of my new Tuesday's Tunes posts. Come back Friday then, to see what I have to add to the Sad Songs Blogfest.

Also, consider signing up for the A to Z Challenge. You will meet lots of new people and have a great chance to interact with lots of great posts.

Mommy's on the 'puter, Daddy's playin' World of Warcraft

This week's trend may strike a little close to home for parents. Its about us, not our kids or our culture. We have to struggle to put our addictions to technology in the background when we are parents- okay, reality is, we need to keep reality what it is whether we are parents or not. My point to ponder this week is though, we have to maintain our priorities and one major distracting agent from those priorities is our technology. Here are some news items regarding this trend. The difficult thing is, for every news-worthy story there are hundreds of other more subtle examples. Some of us can likely relate.

This article from ABC News tells a tragic story of online gaming addiction in South Korea gone terribly wrong, leading to the death of a child through neglect.

Fox News shares a similar story, this time from the US. Thankfully, the two children involved here survived, but the reasons are the same.

Rachel Mosteller writes in Parenting Magazine. 
                " Think you might be hooked? Try keeping a journal of how often you go online for
                  a week. Then assess what you’re missing out on when you do it — sleep, family 
                 time, work? Also note in your journal what was going on each time you decided to
                 sit down at the computer. Was it right after a fight with your husband? Were you 
                 bored? By figuring out the triggers that send you seeking refuge online, Moore 
                says, you can come up with alternative activities that help you deal. If you’re  
               stressed, for example, you might take your baby out for a walk."

In her eye-opening article, Mosteller posits three things moms are searching for as they spend too much time online. Those three are: information, community or escape.

What about you? Is there any danger of blogging, games, chatting, social media, or whatever your poison is, getting in the way of your priorities? Its worth a thought or more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday's Tunes- Paul Simon, Father and Daughter

I'm going to add a little diversion on Tuesday's for the next several weeks to give you songs that celebrate Daddy. We have quite a few around our house...well, on our computers, but if you have a suggestion, please leave a comment to suggest it...as there's always next week!

First off, Paul Simon live. For our princess.
If you leap awake in the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second you can't remember where you are
Just open your window and follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain where we counted every falling star

I believe a light that shines on you will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee there's nothing scary hiding under your bed
I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard of a Golden Retriever
And never leave 'til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you

Trust your intuition
It's just like goin' fishin'
You cast your line and hope you get a bite
But you don't need to waste your time
Worryin' about the market place
Try to help the human race
Struggling to survive its harshest night

Monday, March 26, 2012

In honour of our youngest son's birthday yesterday...a photo celebration

Just by looking at this picture you can tell we are not really Blue Jay fans, even though we are at their home park... Orioles, Blue Jays, Nationals, all represented here.

                                      Now this is pretty typical...

Not smiling because he's in Pennsylvania...but because its a state of independence!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     With his best partner in crime, aka his older brother. Which one's the serious one, and which one's the goofier one?

                                                                                                                          At yesterday's birthday party with two friends. Here they are riding a horse drawn wagon through our local maple sugar bush. 

With his new SpongeBob shirt.

We love you, Mister.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bullyies, Bullied and Bystanders

Once again, this Friday, some thoughts on combating bullying. As per the last few posts, the ideas here come from the book No Kidding About Bullying by Naomi Drew. One of the greatest problems regarding bullying is that there is almost always a silent majority who are doing nothing about the bullying. Experts break down the bullying problem into three groups, Bullies, Bullied, and Bystanders. If the Bystanders would work together to combat the work of the Bully, the problem would be lessened. Just like a mob-mentality quickly grows in a negative sense, an empathetic mentality can also grow when given the tools and awareness of the need.

Here are a few things you suggest to your child as the Bystander

Choose not to join in when other kids are laughing or bullying.
Speak out against unkind words or actions
Say something helpful to the person being picked on
Ask someone who is doing the unkind actions how they would feel if they were being picked on
Ask a person being left out or picked on to join you in an activity
Let an adult know what is going on

And there are likely more. Can you think of other suggestions to give to kids to help them combat bullying?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day and my first favorite niece

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.

In honor of my dear niece, her mom, my sister put this presentation together for her to share at school today.
She graciously allowed me to have it to "repost" here.

Thanks, "P" and "Jam"!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Family traits...do we have 'em?

We all know that our kids look like us. Yesterday, someone was telling me that they had a relative with adopted kids who looked more and more like their parents as they grew older. That was interesting to me, but upon further reflection, it likely shouldn’t.

Beyond our physical family traits, we also develop other unique identifiers together. Any one of them is unremarkable on its own (unless you are the Von Trapp’s, say) but together they make your family who it is. It could be interests, it could be personality. It could be gestures, jokes or expressions. It may be mannerisms or points of view. Whatever it is, you can be a family in many more ways than just genetics. Its one of the things we enjoy about being foster parents. We can make room in our family for someone else. They add to us, as we add to them.

Do you have any examples of how your family looks unique beyond the uni-brow or Roman nose?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Holding myself responsible- for kids

Last Friday, I mentioned a book I was reading and the premise behind its anti-bullying message.
Today, let me give you one idea they suggest.

Help your child to understand that when there is a conflict, both parties are almost always responsible, even if only a little bit. Blaming one person only makes the conflict greater.

                Ask your child, "Have you ever made excuses for something you shouldn't have done?" (Share an example of your own if they can't think of one.)

                Ask, "Did blaming cause the conflict to get better, or worse?" (Let the child know that taking responsibility for their actions can give the other child courage to do the same.)
       Role play a scenario with your child, such as this one:    Carl and Janie worked together on a class project. They just got it back, and discovered they only earned a C because an important part of the project had been left out.
     First, have them role play it as it would likely play out, "You didn't..." "Yeah, well you never..." Then, have them try it again, using "I" instead of "you", taking responsibility, even in a small way.

Maybe worth a try if this is an issue for your child! Happy parenting.

Hey, I passed 15 000 total visits yesterday, that's great. Thank you to all of you who have been swinging by here over the past couple of months especially. Even bigger thank you to all of you who have been swinging by here for the past couple of years. If you drop in here from the A-Z gang, leave a comment and say "hi". I've been to about two hundred (guesstimate) of the 1000+ sites so far, and look forward to getting around to more as the days roll along toward April.

As always, check out the free book giveaway.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't pay a cent- is it worth it?

I guess in our world today, most of us will not have the money to buy a home up front without the benefit of a loan. I know we certainly never would. What bothers me now though is that so much of our western world lives off of- “Don’t pay a cent till 2014” or “No interest, no deposit” philosophies.

Do we really need that new mattress so much right now, that we have to take it home today? Do we forget that they will have another sale in two months on the same product? Do we not have the option to wait? Too many of us have taken the opportunity to “buy now” on too many luxuries. This attitude is soon caught by our children.

One strategy we adopted with our children is to make a list. If you want something, write it down. This eliminates the stresses of the in-store “Please, please, please” routine. If you really want it, write it on your list and you can save up for it. Its amazing the number of times those “must have” items never make it to the “must have” list.

Another strategy we have, which many people have, is to have your children put a certain amount of money away. In this way we teach them to create a savings account, and not spending every dollar that comes in. One son couldn’t believe that he had 100 dollars in his bank account and has set the goal to build that to 200.

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover has been a real benefit to our family. I have a link to his site at the top right of this blog. One of his expressions is to “live like no one else does now, so you can live like no one else does later.” Simple and profound all at once.

What about you? Do you have financial strategies you’ve used at home to help with the “I want it now” syndrome?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Illness, Huggies and Dads

I missed posting yesterday so I am trying to catch up. We have a sick household. Of seven, I think we have five and a half sick ones. The half being probably next, but so far just a little fever twelve hours ago.

We are also visiting my parents, and going to see my sister, her husband and their three kids in just a few minutes, for the first time since October...and that's pretty bad since we only live less than two hours apart. Being in Florida for Christmas got in the way of a more timely visit.

Due to lack of energy and time, I am going to leave a link to Lisa Belkin's post at Huffington Post regarding something going around the internet lately. It seems that Huggies forgets that Dad's are both increasingly competent at diaper changing, but also increasingly sensitive about being stereotyped for being incompetent. I think its great to see it being brought out into the light. Dad 2.0 sounds pretty cool too, I will have to check this out.

See you tomorrow.

Sign up for A to Z, there are over 1000 signed up now!

Get a free book brick and mortar book here! (okay, its actually paper, but its not an ebook either, kinda nice for a change :) )

Friday, March 09, 2012

Bullying and empathy

I just picked up a book from our boys' school, No Kidding About Bullying. The school itself is trying to encourage parents to be parents and read and think and get involved in their kids lives. Its sad that its come to this, the big government institution has to look after us, the small mom and pop outfit...and I applaud them for what they are doing.

The book itself is great. It offers 125 lessons to help with handling and preventing bullying. This post isn't about any of those ideas however. It is about the premise behind the book.

Dr Susan Limber says "Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely, anxious; have low self-esteem; feel unwell; and think about suicide"

"Emotions have a collective existence" that is, how you feel is also dependent on "not just your choices and actions, but also on the choices and actions of people...who are one, two and three degrees removed from you." (Pam Bellack, New York Times, Dec 4, 2008) That is, we tend to imitate what others are doing even at a cellular level (mirror neurons). If we are around negative people, we tend to become negative. If we are around people setting a good example, we tend to follow it. This leads to the point of "No Kidding About Bullying" by Naomi Drew, that children can be taught empathy, compassion, and the social skills needed to combat a bullying atmosphere.

The book mentions five top skills that help kids succeed at school as researched by Dr Stephen Elliott of Vanderbilt University. They are:
     1. Listening to others
     2. Taking turns when talking
     3. Getting along with others
     4. Staying calm with others
     5. Taking responsibility for your own actions

I leave you a link from Thursday, that I stumbled across reading another blog I read nearly every day. Its nearly funny. But its all serious. What are we doing to combat bullying? Are we taking the cries of our children seriously? You could do far worse than looking into No Kidding About Bullying.

Check here for some helpful books I am giving away.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Over-scheduling our kids

We have so many options available today. You can book a holiday and be half way around the world tomorrow. You can sign up for soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, golf, hockey and football. You can take a class in pottery, basket weaving, gardening, movie making, what-have-you. And you can do all this while still being nine years old. That's great.

What's not as great is when I try to squeeze these things into my child's week. Why do I have to live this way? Why does my child? What would happen if I spent as much time with them as I allow others to? What would happen if we let them play? What would happen if we didn't have to have so much control over their lives? What would happen if we didn't demand a Triple A coach for our six year old? What would happen if we had a night off?

Think about what you missed in your childhood. Are you forcing it on your child now? Just a thought, but the Renaissance Man doesn't exist in a four year old's body. Likely you do not have a world class ballet-dancing, guitar-playing, golf-pro doctor growing up in your home. There may be a child though.

For further reading, enter the free book giveaway and ask for Dr Leman's Its Your Kid, Not a Gerbil!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Foster parenting...you can do it!

The other day, I got an email link to an article by Kevin East. His blog’s link is at the top right of my own. He was guest posting on Crosswalk.com. In that post, he listed a few reasons why he and his family got into foster parenting. Not wanting to miss a good opportunity, I thought I would share our family’s reasoning for making the same decision just over one year ago.

We have often talked about adopting. After the birth of our now 5 year old son, we were advised by our doctor that another pregnancy was not a good idea for my wife’s delicate organs.

As our son approached school age, we began to think that perhaps the time had come to begin thinking about adoption. We began doing some research and the dollar signs were a little disappointing and frightening to be sure. I do think this is a good thing. We want people adopting who are going to take this very seriously. Tens of thousands of dollars is a good way to make sure you are taking it seriously, for most of us...

We looked into our local Children’s Aid Society. We thought we would inquire about adoption but were informed that the greatest need was for foster parents. After a couple of days to think about it we were quickly screened and entered into the nine week training program. I was very impressed by the consistent attendance over that nine week period, I do not think anyone dropped out of the thirty or so who went through the program with us.

Throughout this time period we were consistently challenged with some of the realities of foster parenting. Nothing can fully prepare you, but we were given lots of opportunities to think it through.

Why did we decide to give it a go, to actually take children into our home?

  1. There was a need, especially for homes willing to take newborns.
  2. We thought it would be a good example for our children of caring for those who need it.
  3. As Christians, we believe we need to make an impact for good in our society.
  4. As Christians, we saw ourselves as being adopted into a family we didn’t belong to from birth, accepted by a loving Father who cares for us as His own. We believe that if we are wearing His name we should follow His example.

There is a lot of need, there are lots of opportunities, its worth looking into if you have lots of love and some time.

Please consider commenting.  

Check out my book give away, too.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Friday's ideas- think about birth order

Dr Kevin Leman has done a lot of research and writing on the topic of birth order. I read through his book on step families and how the blending of families affects children thrust into new places in the family. It was very thought provoking and disturbing at the same time.

With birth order comes responsibilities, expectations, different interactions with siblings, and, for only children increased interaction with adults. All these things are important to the way our personalities and character develops. How about today we do a little research on the role our children play within our family. Here are a few links. If you'd like to read the Dr Leman book I was referring to, Living in a Step-Family without getting Stepped On, let me know in the comments and I will send it to you, all I ask is that you mention on your blog (if you've gots one!) that I'm giving books away here.

Here are a few links to follow yourself if you want to see what's up in your family's mix of children (or even to get some insight into your own personality).

Informative newsletter from University of West Virginia
Dr Diana Walcutt from Psychcentral.com

Also, join A to Z, 29 days left to go.
Read about my free book giveaway...here.
Sign into Dads UnLimited Community...here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Discipline versus Punishment

We were challenged to think about the difference between discipline and punishment.  To me it seemed a matter of semantics, "You say tomato...." If however the word punishment is so loaded that we can only think negatives, then perhaps it is only right that we consider discipline as the word of choice.

My post from last Wednesday, Feb 22, raised a few questions in the comments section.  Was I saying there was no place for rewards? Am I promoting negative parenting? Is the issue here over clarifying the terms reward and reinforcement? Great questions and they deserve some kind of answer.

First off, I suppose I have to be careful to not come across as the source of all truth when it comes to parenting.  We've been trying to get this right for thousands of years and we haven't done it yet.

Secondly, what I was trying to say last week and apparently didn't really clarify was that we have to be careful to not raise children who do right when rewarded and therefore lose sight of why something is right and wrong, they lose sight of doing good for goodness' sake. All our children are different. What I hope we can work toward is children who learn to appreciate goodness and being good.

Thirdly, as far as training goes, one interesting thing I've heard and applied at times is to have your child model the behavior you want them to have. If they say something impolite, have them repeat it correctly. If they are rude to someone, have them try again speaking the way they should. If they complete homework in an manner below their ability, have them redo it. It should give pause when time is of the essence, it sure would work for me! A few thoughts open for your comments.

Also, still lots of time left to enter the book giveaway.  Please see the last two posts for more details.

And, if you haven't signed up for A-Z Challenge, do it now!  Its a great disciplining time for bloggers and a great time to get to meet new people, add new followers, learn new things.  Its a win - win.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Revised Pay-it-Forward Book Giveaway

I've decided to change the give-away slightly.  You don't have to post the large ugly rules picture any more:)

Here are a few other things you might want to know.

The books are terrific. So helpful and witty and timeless.
You don't have to be a dad. You just need to know someone who could use a book.
I have multiple books so its not first come first served.

Here’s the list again of the titles I have to give away.
  • Have a New Kid by Friday
  • Living in a Step-Family Without Getting Stepped On
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
  • 7 Things He'll Never Tell You, but you need to know
  • It's Your Kid not a Gerbil
  • Have a New Husband by Friday
  • The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People

On a completely unrelated note...have you signed up for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge? Consider it please! You have a real opportunity to meet lots of encouraging, funny, interesting people...people like yourself!  If you're not sure what to do or how to add your name, leave a comment here or over there...at the Challenge site...and someone will gladly help you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The great pay it forward giveaway

As I alluded to earlier, Dr Kevin Leman has generously donated several books to Dads UnLimited.  Dr Leman is a renowned psychologist and writer who has been helping families and couples for many years.  With very little prompting, Dr Leman’s organization sent me several books that I am now giving away.

Here’s the scoop.

I was given these books. 
I am giving them to you. 
You promise to give them to someone else.

Just follow these four simple rules and you could just win!

Here’s a list of what I have to give away.
  • Have a New Kid by Friday
  • Living in a Step-Family Without Getting Stepped On
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
  • 7 Things He'll Never Tell You, but you need to know
  • It's Your Kid not a Gerbil
  • Have a New Husband by Friday
  • The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rewards for right behavior

I have said it to kids a hundred times. Likely you have to.

“Do this and you will get this.”
“You did this, so, here, have this.”

I am training my child to act like a rat in a maze. Want a little pellet of food? Jump through this hoop. What is this really saying though? Are we not teaching our children that we do what is right because it brings a reward? What about if there is no obvious reward? Are we not also training our children that no reward means we don’t have to act rightly? Are too many questions in one paragraph hard to follow?

We need to take this back. We need to train our children to do what is right. Period. Maybe we sometimes use rewards. But we have to teach them why it’s right. Maybe we have to learn why ourselves first.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why I won't play

My kids want me to play.

What makes me say no? There are legitimate and there are lazy reasons.

Tired -or- "Tired"
Mentally can't handle playing that make-believe game again. - or - Don't think I can mentally handle playing that make-believe game again.
"You won't be able to understand the rules of that game."  -or-  I don't want to take the time to teach you that.
I want to read.  -or-  I don't want to do that.
"I have to get some work done."   -or-   I choose to get some work done.

Its a hard balance isn't it dad (or mom)? I often tell one of our boys, "That's why I got you a perfectly good brother."  I don't know if that is just an excuse, but sometimes, a kid just wants to play.  Let's make sure that we sometimes get it right.

Friday, February 17, 2012

See you someday over there, Kid.

This was supposed to be about birds and keeping your kids in touch with nature, but that will have to wait. This has nothing to do with being a dad, but I have to say something.

Today (I'm writing this on Thursday), Gary Carter died.

The Hall of Fame catcher made baseball fun for me as a kid growing up.  I loved the Expos.  I was very sad when they traded him to the rival Mets. Gary was jovial, proud, gregarious, and talented.

I remember driving into Montreal with my brother the day he announced his retirement.  For several years we tried to make it to Montreal for at least one weekend.  We saw him on the field that day, the second last one of the season, but we didn't stay for the final game of the season when he doubled to win the game and end his career.

I have a picture of him that I took that day.  He's talking to his long time team mate, then with the Cubs, Andre Dawson.  The two of them no doubt laughing about days of youth and energy and potential and about what lay ahead.  I sent it to him to get signed and he graciously did.

I have a heavy heart, even though this has been coming for months.  Gary's daughter has been posting semi-regular updates and I checked it as recently as yesterday wondering what was new, since the last post, four weeks ago,  had been very disheartening. This is really hard to take.  One of my heroes is dead.  Heroes don't die do they?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The entropy of St Valentine

Valentines’ Day, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Back to School shopping, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Black Friday, Boxing Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, Groundhog’s Day…how do all these special events get hijacked by retailers?  Okay, Groundhog’s Day’s still pretty much unaffiliated, but the rest? 

I know giving gifts is one way to show love.  I know buying gifts is one way to come up with something to give.  I wonder if we haven’t moved beyond desire to give to necessity to give and when that happens in any area of our life, how does it usually look?  Think about you in Grade 7.  Think about some of your Sunday mornings at your place of worship (or Saturday or Monday or whenever you gather).  Think about that relationship you took for granted.  Think about your car you used to keep so clean. 

Entropy.  It all falls apart.

Don’t let the marketing of “Love” ruin love for you.  Take it back whatever way you need to, whether in your own mind or in the way you celebrate these days.  And remind your kids.  Remember what it felt like Christmas morning?  Today’s the day after Valentine’s Day.  Who’s going to give flowers today?