Friday, August 29, 2008

This Stuff Ain't Easy

I always knew being the father I wanted to be was going to be pretty hard to do. Not going too much into where I came from (not in this post anyway) I didn't exactly have the greatest of models. So now that it's my turn to be the Dad it just amazes me when I look into the mirror and realize that Yeah buddy, it's up to you. So, when I run into articles or stories that make sense, or that provide a good dose of "DUH" I like to reflect on them and share them when possible. Two such pieces are now sitting in front of me, both coming from Parents Magazine. While magazines of this type are typically geared toward the fairer sex (Wifey and I have had plenty of conversations about that - she holds that it is the women who take the time to be the readers and caregivers, I say it is a piece of a larger societal problem where fathers aren't expected to invest themselves in the thought process of parenting - thank God Obama called fathers out in his acceptance speech last night!!!) I still tend to find at least one thing in each issue that I can relate to.

So, from this month's issue...

"Memo to Mommy" - see what I mean? Why not "Memo to Parents?" Sexist?

Anyway, this article provides 10 good little "quotes" that every adult should keep in mind when raising little ones...

  1. Stop freaking out about the mess! There's always time to clean - but how often do we get to make mud pies?
  2. Love me, even when I'm naughty. I'll only be this age once.
  3. Be patient. I do everything for a reason, but I don't know enough words yet to give you an explanation.
  4. Let me do it. I know you can do it faster and better, but sometimes experience is the best teacher.
  5. Don't expect too much of me. I want to do what you ask and make you happy, but I'm still little.
  6. Don't try to reason with me when I'm having a tantrum. Trust me - I can't hear you over my own screaming.
  7. Keep your promises. It's all about trust. When I'm a teenager, you'll understand why it's so important.
  8. Don't keep asking me if I've been good. I'm not even sure what that means, but if I was bad I'd never admit it!
  9. Don't let me think that you're perfect. I feel a lot better knowing I'm not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes.
  10. Set limits. I can't actually eat a whole box of cookies - I just want to see if I'd get away with it.

So, there is the first. Great advice to read each and every day. In fact, Wifey even posted it up on our bathroom mirror. Not sure what she is saying about me/her/us but I'll take the help any way I can get it.

The second article is bigger, with far too many words for me to retype the whole thing so I'll just give their main points. It is titled "Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World."

  1. Don't interrupt adults in the middle of a conversation.

    Wifey and I have worked on this since JAM was tiny and we are now getting into it with Red. It is actually pretty funny when we tell her to not interrupt and she yells out "I don't wanna wait!!!!" Well, it's funny right now, but not so much when it actually happens.

  2. Say "Thank You" without being prodded.

    JAM is so amazing at this - with everyone else but us. lol We expect them to say please and thank you each and every time. I've even gotten so far into the habit of prompting that I'll hand a glass of milk or something to a friend's kid and say "What do you say?" only to feel like a doofus for overstepping. Good thing we have such good friends.

  3. Greet adults with "Hello" and a proper name.

    This is something that we honestly haven't worked on much at all. We are very informal people, so we expect kids of friends to call us by our first names and we have always let our kids call other adults by their first names. This is really strange because some of our friend's kids do this by matter of course, but others, who had been students in Wifey's classes way back when, still call us Mr. and Mrs. even though we've tried to get them to stop. This is where having different sets of norms (does this qualify as a value?) is so interesting. I don't want to step on their rules or expectations but I also feel strange when my kids call their parents by their first names and they're calling us by our formal names. I'll have to ask more about that this weekend when we see them for Labor Day.

  4. Hold the door.

    DUH!!!!! Why wouldn't you teach you kids to help, treat others with respect, etc.? Honestly, I think the thing I like most about myself is that I'll go out of my way to help others and holding the door is such a simple way to do this. So when JAM sees me doing this, and now Red sees it too, I'm happy to be a positive role model for this. I'm also so pleased that the magazine chose this one thing as something to focus on. Too many people, especially college kids at UMD where I went to school and still visit and interact with quite frequently and high school-aged kids in my neighborhood, don't think about anyone else around them. I know, it is developmentally appropriate for this up to a certain age, but there is no point in not showing them the right way to act right? I especially love it when I hold the door for another guy. Some guys just don't know what to do with that. Good manners is good manners though right?

  5. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    Oh! Thank you for saying this! I had a funny sign on my wall when I taught that had some goofy sayings on it. One of them was "Never miss a perfect opportunity to shut up." A bit ruder than maybe called for but my teen-aged audience got it.

  6. Give up your seat.

    Did you read that everyone? I can't tell you how many times Wifey has come home from riding the bus somewhere and told me that someone didn't get up for her. Oh, did I mention that this was usually when she was visibly preggers? And if you know her, she doesn't do 'just a little pregnant.' When my beautiful wife gets knocked up she goes all out so it is very obvious that she is "in that way." So when I heard about college kids knocking over each other, and her, to get on the shuttle buses when she was trying to get on, sometimes with another kid in tow, I wanted to go stand out there with her and b*$%-slap anyone I saw cutting her off or not getting up for her. On second thought, maybe it is a good thing I wasn't there with her. But, I digress as usual. I try to model this one too, on the Metro when we use it, is usually the only place where this might come into play but it all comes down to manners and class. By God my kids will know how to act civilly in their community.

All right, that's it for now. Can't say enough about this topic though, especially when we are surrounded by the area where we live and its lack of basic civility and common courtesy. It's hard to raise your kids "right" when they are constantly being inundated with "wrong" but I'll be dammed if I am going to give up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boys Weekend

What a wonderful weekend we had, JAM, my Dad and I. I grew up in "upstate" New York. I put that in quotes because it is considered upstate to some but downstate (is that even a word?) to others. Basically the line is like Rockland County. If you live below it, anything above is upstate. If you live above it, anything else is downstate. Us? We were in the amazing Hudson Valley. Check this out...


See that gray house two doors down from the million-dollar home above the yacht club? That was where my God-Parents lived. Nice huh? Overlooking the Hudson, Bannerman's Island, the Newburg-Beacon Bridge... just amazing.

Anyhow, as usual I digress... I grew up in New York, I played baseball almost my entire childhood (everyone in my town played Little League it seemed), and I never went to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. So, this year, as JAM was playing in his first games of organized baseball I decided that it was time to make the pilgrimage. I called my pops and told him we were going - I mean seriously, was he going to say no to this? - and we packed up and went. The hardest part really was finding a place to stay. The old man has gotten soft in his old priveleged age - he said his body has become accustomed to sleeping on nice beds now, no more sleeping bags and rolled up blue jeans for pillows like he used to make us do when we went camping. :) But I found a place about 20 miles south of Williamsport, not too bad really, it was close enough to make an easy drive in the morning and night but not too crowded with traffic like it was in Williamsport.

All in all, it was such a fun time. JAM is still a bit too young to care all that much about sitting and watching baseball game after baseball game so the focus there was on the hill sliding. If you haven't seen hill sliding think of sled riding only on cardboard in nice weather. You've got to check this out.

JAM was lucky enough to find a whole side from a refrigerator box sitting on the hill. I guess what happens is that kids either bring cardboard with them or there is a ton generated by teh concessions people at the complex and they just leave it around when they are done with it. His sheet that he found was just great for him, but it also made him so jaded when it came to the next day - the cardboard he had in the afternoon just couldn't cut it. This video was from the first day of the tournament and already this section of the hill had been worn down quite a bit. By the second and third day the hill was looking a lot worse for wear. I can't imagine what it will look like at the end of the two-week tournament. Here are some pictures of the kids hill sliding-

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By the time we left for dinner on the second day the hill had hundreds of kids sliding down, into each other, over each other, through the legs of one another, it was just so much fun to watch. The fact that all these kids were having so much fun in an unstructured activity like this, while all keeping themselves under control, safe and happy was just amazing. Then, to really drive home how important this was, I heard about this study done about how kids are being so reigned in regarding their play that they just aren't the same anymore - check it out at Kids need the adventure of 'risky' play.

Speaking of risky play - check out surfer dude in this video...

We had so much fun, just the boys. And I know that both JAM and his grandfather will remember this for a long time. Priceless.


Some panoramic pictures that I pieced together from individual shots. When I bought my camera I made the choice to buy one that took decent (not _great_) pictures but also took video (again, not _great_). So, no wide-angle lenses for me. Please don't laugh at the changes in brightness, etc. I did the best I could to match them up. I wonder if I've got a friend who reads this blog that has a husband who is also a friend who doesn't read this blog who knows how to use these dang cameras far better than I ever could who wouldn't mind giving me a 30 second lesson? Especially since I'll be up at the butt-crack of dawn this weekend building them a roof? Hmmmm... I wonder..... teeheehee

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The first one is the main stadium, Lamade Stadium - where the finals take place, taken from down low. The second is the same stadium taken from on top of the hill. I really like that one. The third is Volunteer Stadium which is slightly down the hill from Lamade. Here's the stadium complex from Google Earth. Lamade is on the bottom, Volunteer on top.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I wish I had a graphics department

I saw a commercial today that I really loved. No, not for their intended reason. It was an Audi commercial but the cool stuff happened before they even showed the car. It was a very cool progression video, showing a living room as it changed over the years. So, with my huge passion for all things home improvement, I was absolutely amazed. It makes me wish I had my own graphics dept. to showcase all the work I've done around this place.

Check it out...
(the video quality isn't that great but I am assuming it is a very new commercial and this is some bootleg copy someone threw up there. It'll be a few days maybe until the real hackers get one posted. :) )