Saturday, January 29, 2011

Product Spotlight and Giveaway: The Wean Machine

This may be one of the coolest little devices I have ever been able to hold in one hand. Used for making baby food at home or on the go, The Wean Machine is an excellent tool for using fresh fruits and veggies to make your own baby food. Stage one and two foods are a squeeze to make with the two fittings provided. For those who want the freshest and healthiest for their growing young ones, The Wean Machine is for you!

But wait that's not all! The Wean Machine is also great for normal household food preparation. Use it with fresh fruits such as blueberries and strawberries to make toppings for ice cream and yogurt or fillings for pies and cakes. Great for all ages, fun to use, easy to clean, and a great concept. Two thumbs up from The Dude. Here is a little more about the product from creator Tilly Beazely

The Wean Machine makes fresh healthy baby food wherever you are.  Fully self contained, easy to use, simply fill, squeeze and feed.  No need to ever compromise what you feed your baby again. Straight from the table or fruit bowl, making baby food just got EASIER, HEALTHIER and CHEAPER!

Now you can make fresh healthy baby food in seconds without having to use large noisy liquidisers and blenders or worry about whether there are hidden additives or preservatives.  Simply fill squeeze and feed.  NO FUSS NO MESS NO NOISE! Teaching your baby what they are eating at the point of preparation and encouraging families to eat together.  Fully self contained, so can be used at home or out and about.  Ideal for holidays and travel. Saves time and money as no need to make separate meals.

Tilly Beazeley, mum and business woman, passionate about helping and educating mums.  Who herself had been frustrated that there wasn’t an easy way to prepare fresh healthy baby food when out and about that she just felt that there must be a simple solution.  A product that you would be a good investment, fulfil all the Department of Health recommendations but still be practical.

The Wean Machine was born!
Helps through each stage of weaning.
Saves time & money.
Easy to use.
Easy to clean, dishwasher safe and easily sterilised.
Contains no BPA’s, Phthalates or PVC.

Thanks to Tilly Beazely for the chance to give this product a whirl. Now here's a chance for one lucky person to win their very own Wean Machine! The contest will run until midnight EST on Thursday, February 10th, at which time I will select a winner at random. Here's how you can enter:

1 - Comment on This Post: What kind of delicious baby foods and goodies would you make with The Wean Machine?

2 - Tweet about The Giveaway: "Just entered to win The Wean Machine from @TillyBeaz and The DaddyYo Blog #WinWean" including a link back to the post .. tweet as many times as you like, each tweet is an entry.

3 - Follow @TillyBeaz on Twitter: Leave notice in your comment here so we can add your name to the pot.

4 - Like The Wean Machine on Facebook: Once again, let me know so I can add your name.

That's it! Good luck and enter to win today!

**Disclaimer: Yes, the disclaimer again. I was provided a free product to try out at home. HOWEVER I was not compensated to provide positive feedback. All opinions expressed herein are those of my own and not influenced by any outside source. Thank you to Tilly Beazely for the chance to give this a try and give one away to a lucky reader!**

Friday, January 28, 2011

Q&A with Tony Havelka: Founder and CEO of Ameba TV

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to The DaddyYo Blog! I hope today finds you all well and ready for the weekend! At the end of this post I will be announcing the winner of the Ameba TV giveaway that has been running the last week. But first, it is my honor to introduce you to founder and CEO of Ameba TV, Tony Havelka. Tony is a dad of two, a thinker, and a visionary. Tony agreed to answer 10 questions about being a dad and about Ameba TV for the day I announce the winner of the Ameba TV set top box. Thank you so much Tony! It has been a pleasure reading your responses in preparation for this post, and learning a little more about the man behind Ameba TV. Without further delay, I give you Tony Havelka, in his own words.
Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Blog is For You

On many occasions, and in many posts, I have said a quick thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read a post. One thing I have not done though is take the time to just use this space to tell you thank you in a more personal matter. True, I would still be writing this whether I had 1000 readers or just one. However, because of all of you, there is a community. There are friends, acquaintances, fellow bloggers, readers, and critics. All of whom make the community what it is, and make the whole experience worth while.

From me to you, I thank you for being a part of this experience. Through discussions here and elsewhere on the web, I have gotten to know a lot of you on a more personal level. We have shared what makes us proud and happy, and what brings us down, makes us scared, or makes us cry.  It has really been an honor to get to know all of you and to be able to call you friends.

Blogging has become a strong passion for me. The ability to sign on, write whatever I am thinking about, publish it, and see a discussion start is quite an amazing thing. I thank you for all of the comments, the sharing of the posts, the discussions, praises and criticisms. To me, a blogger has nothing without a community surrounding them. I have to say, this community of dads, moms, grandparents, tech geeks, blogging professionals, marketing professionals, and more, is an eclectic, diverse community, that has opened my eyes to many things. Through the connections I have made with all of you I have a gained a wealth of knowledge on many subjects, and that wealth is irreplaceable.

So to all of you, this blog post is for you! A toast to all of you, my friends and colleagues:  May all your troubles be little ones.May the most you ever wish for Be the least you ever receive. May the roof above us never fall in. And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.


The Dude

Changes In Attitude, Changes in Latitude

Ah yes, the great Jimmy Buffet. I grew up listening to a lot of Jimmy's music, especially with my Dad. Fins, One Particular Harbor, Volcano, and of course the song reference  in the post title. Yes, I know I said it backwards from the original title, but I did it like that for a reason. Change is inevitable. Life is going to take us in many directions as we cruise along, and eventually we will have to change lanes. So what does this have to do with anything?

I have found out that social media moves at an insane pace. Getting posts up, remembering where and when to post, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn connections, and self-promotion. It can get your mind warped sometimes. In my recent attempts to simplify what I do online and get on an even track I have found myself asking more questions than producing more results. When I first started blogging last year I had no clue that it could lead to some of the places it has, and that maintaining would take so much effort. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about blogging. I love it. Writing is a passion for me, and writing what I am passionate about, or whatever pops into my head comes fairly easy. It has proven to be a great outlet for me and a great way to connect with so many people across the world.

Though  enjoy what I do, my attitudes towards how I do it and where I do it have changed quite a bit recently. Maintaining two separate blogs has become a chore. I have a lot to write about and trying to keep it separate is becoming exhausting. In recent discussions and with the help of some friends' suggestions, I have decided that I am just going to fuse the two blogs together. Soon I will be moving this blog over to WordPress thanks to the help of Japster, Inc. With this transition comes the transition of The DaddyYo Blog and it's overall feel. I am still a dad. Nothing can change that fact. I am also a human, a man, a music nut, social media geek, and techy. I have opinions on a lot more than just parenting.

So if you see the content start to change a little, posts that are not parenting related, never fear, The Dude is still here. I just think at this point it would be better for me to centralize it all and build upon a community as a whole, not just of a certain type. As always I hope you will continue to visit, continue to comment, and continue to enjoy. "I wear my heart on my dot com" and I am not afraid to do so. The Dude Still Abides.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Fear of Failure

This post is inspired by a post from Sex and The Single Dad, written by a good friend, JR. Please go the post linked as it is real, authentic, and powerful. Wonderfully written piece JR! The fear of failure is something that bites us all. The fear of not succeeding in the eyes of anyone but ourselves can drive us to the brink of insanity. Why is this? Why do we let the outside influence our insides so much? I find myself asking these questions a lot of myself. There has to be some definable something inside of us that controls how much the fear of failure affects us.

As a dad, this fear is omnipresent. I worry all of the time about whether or not I am failing as a dad and what my children think. I know they are young (3 and 1) but they have their own idea of me in their little brains. I just know they do. What does this image look like though? Do they see me as a great dad? A fun dad? A loving dad? There are many things I could sit here and think about until the point my heart is four feet below my left foot. There are many fears, worries, and concerns for every dad. Fears for the health and safety of our kids, fear of the object behind the smell of that diaper, and the fear of losing a child. The worst of these, and perhaps the most prominent is the fear of failure.

In my experience, the road of life and the road of uncertainty are the same roads. One name for each side of the street in my opinion. We cannot predict the future and cannot change the past. We can only walk the line that is directly in front of us. We can expect the world out of ourselves. We can expect the perfect responses at the perfect times in the perfect places. Yet, if that is all we expect of ourselves, then we can surely expect failure. The fear of failure is overcome when one realizes that failure is a part of life. The only failure to be scared of is failure to use our shortcomings as a lesson and teaching tool.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" may be the truest words ever spoken by FDR. The biggest thing we have to fear as dads, men, and people, is having fear. It is going to come to us by nature. We cannot hide ourselves from fear. We can, however, work together to overcome our fears one at a time and better ourselves. Our fears will bring us down and in turn prevent us from being the best dads, husbands, and men we can be. We should not fear the kind of dad we are; instead we should be proud of the dads we are and make a promise to our children and our own selves that we will always strive to be the best dads we can be without fear of failure, and fear of fear.

-The Dude-

Now it's your turn! We have all had fears as dads and as people in general. What are your biggest fears about being a dad? What are your fears about life in general? And what do you do to face and overcome your fears? Please share below and together we can learn, understand, and overcome the worst of our fears!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Craft Time with The Dude: Making Sock Puppets

It is once again time for "Craft Time with The Dude". This is my second of such posts and I hope to have many more to come just like it. Most of you already know (if you are a regular reader of the blog) that Tuesday night here is Daddy/Kiddo night while The Wifey is at her weekly college classes. This week was one of the greatest nights we have had during Daddy/Kiddo night as we made sock puppets and a theater to perform in. It was uber fun and ultra awesome to play when everything was finished.

How to Make Sock Puppets and a Theater

The Requirements: You will need a toddler size sock for each child participating in the craft. Toddler sizes work best for little hands and probably a lot cleaner than using your own! Next you need markers. One red for drawing on the mouth and tongue, and another color of your choice for the nose and to dot where you will put the eyes. Fabric markers are probably the best choice. I didn't have any so I went with a good old Sharpie. *Note: Do NOT let children use a Sharpie. Fumes can be strong for such little noses and there is a reason it is called a PERMANENT marker!* Finally, you will need buttons for the eyes, and glue to glue them onto the socks. 

Next you will need to construct a "theater" for the puppets to perform in. A cardboard box broken down is your best option. In our case it was the box that my electric guitar came in. Break the box down and flatten it out. You will need to fold the flaps backwards to give the theater some balance to stand upright. Next draw a box for how large of a window you want to cut out. Obviously, placement of the window will depend on the height of your children, or if they know how to kneel down to do it. The Kiddos are hyper all of the time so getting them to kneel or sit is a job in itself! Next, cut out the window. Be sure to remove loose pieces of cardboard that may have the chance to be pulled off and pose a choking hazard if inserted into the mouth. 

Next it is time to decorate the theater! Get the crayons, the stickers and the glitter paint ready! The kids had a blast with this. I admit, I helped some. It was just too much fun not to get into! Let them go crazy and put whatever they want to on it. We drew with crayons and decorated it with letters and numbers since both of The Kiddos are really into counting and the ABC's. 

Once again, let them be creative, but be watchful when using glue, paint, markers, or anything that may require the supervision of an adult. It's cool to snap some pictures of the great time you are having but always keep that parental eye watching. 

Next it is time for the puppets! Find out where the mouth will fold on your child's hand to know where to draw the mouth and tongue. Next, make two dots where the eyes will go. Using just a little bit of glue, let the kids attach the button eyes to their puppets. The Kiddos enjoyed telling me about the eyes, nose, and mouth of their puppets and pointing them out while we let the glue dry. Make certain you do not lay anything on top of the puppets are let them fold over while the glue dries. Would hate to see a kid frown because the puppet's mouth is now glued shut!

Finally: IT'S SHOW TIME!!! Your puppets and theater are complete and it is time to put on a show! Encourage their imagination and explore all of the wonderful places the puppets can go and people they can meet. Be interactive as the puppets are sure to address you directly at some point. 

This was a great activity and one that hopefully will have a lasting effect as a playtime favorite. Great for dad, mom, son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousins, and so on. Everyone is sure to have a good time. 


And of course, make sure you make one for yourself! What fun would it be to just sit back and watch! Of course, you don't have to just take my word for it. Give it a try yourself. Create puppets with big eyes, small eyes, red mouth, blue mouth, clothes, hair, and the works. The room for creativity in this one is endless. Let their minds go free and let the energy go nuts.
Saturday, January 22, 2011

To My Dearest Wife

"We've come a long way through the good and bad. And it's so much more than what it seems Sometimes i take it for granted. I take it for granted. Which way will the wind blow? I don't know if you will ever know how much this means to me. So let me take this opportunity to say thank you for what you've given to me. Thank you! There's no telling how long things will ever last. Let's not forget the memories, the memories of our past"

"Outside Looking In" by Stretch Arm Strong from the album "Rituals of Life"

To my dearest Wife,

This might be one of the shortest songs I have ever heard, but one of the most reflective of my feelings for you. How coincidental it is that the genre of the band would fit in where we first met. That was exactly 6 years ago, in a Yahoo! chat room of all places. "Punk N Ska N Thrash: 4" if memory serves me correctly. We talked on the phone 30 minutes after the first IM and that was when I heard the voice of love for the first time. That was it, I was hooked. Three months later I would leave my home of 22 years for a place I had never even heard of in my life. Nestled high in the mountains, hours away from the kind of bustle I was used to, we would start our journey together. People are always asking me what made me do it. I tell them "I would not have done it if I didn't know that I would be spending the rest of my life with this woman".

We have come a long way in the last six years. From no heat, no water, and the one time I fell through the floor! There is a lot more to this journey then what we can even see. There are times that I do take things for granted. There are times when I have been bitter, resentful, and mean. For those times, I apologize. "Through all the fights, the shouts, the crying and the screams" you have been right by my side. You have forgiven me (most of the time lol) and never lost your love for me. I thank you for being a great wife and a great mom. I thank you for the hard work you put in for school as it gives me hope that maybe I can to. Thank you for always knowing when bills are due, kids have to go to doctors, and I have to get something done. Thank you for the new life your love gives me, the strength your soul feeds me, and the passion behind every kiss. Thank you for those gifts that go too often unmentioned.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't know where life will take us in the next six years and the next six years after that. I don't know. The one thing I do know is that there are six years of history between us that will never go unforgotten. There are many smiles, years of laughter, our family, and our friends. There are memories old and dear that will always be on a repeat playback in my mind. God willing, many years from now, there will be thousands and thousands of great memories of our past that we will reflect upon. I love you with all of my heart and all of my soul. Thank you for being you, and being with me. How truly blessed and honored I really am.

In loving adoration,


Friday, January 21, 2011

I Don't Predict the Future: I Raise It

When I was in second grade we made a little class yearbook at the end of the school year. We included our favorite TV shows, favorite color, best friends, and what we thought the world would be like in the year 2010.  You see, the little kid voted "Best Talker" of Ms. Bozard's class thought that there would be flying cars, no war and no sickness. This was nearing the end of Desert Storm and at the height of the late 80's crusade against AIDS. That little kid rocking the mullet, color changing space boots, and glasses thought that there would be so many cool things going on that he would explode from awesomeness.

Fast forward to the year in question. That little kid is now me. Bald, sandals, but still with glasses. Some things never change. Come to find out all of these years later that cars still have wheels, wars are still being fought, and people are still suffering and dying from illness. One of two things can now be said in absolute truth: We really need to get on the ball, or, I am no good at predicting the future. I'm going with the latter, how about you?

I don't know what the future holds, and honestly I don't give a lot of thought to it. What I do know is that we as dads can have a direct impact on where the future has the possibility to go. We directly impact the lives of our children on a daily basis. The values we teach them, the examples that we set, and the wealth of knowledge about life we can share all have significant meanings in their lives. People ask me all the time what I think The Kiddos will be like when they get older and are moved out on their own. My answer: I don't know.

I can't predict the future. Obviously my second grade yearbook is proof of that. However, I am helping to steer the direction of the future by raising two children. As a dad, I commit myself to raising my kids to the best of my ability. I promise myself, my children, and God that I will do everything I can to prepare them for the world away from home. I will teach the morals and lessons that may help guide them later on in life.  I can set an example to my son of how a real man acts and treats others. I can show my daughter her true value and self-worth as she enters the years of teenage drama and self-awareness. I don't predict the future, but I do raise it. What are you doing as a dad to raise the future? How are we steering the years to come?
Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Thinking: Finding Solace in Everyday Life

This is a quick post I am writing as I am sitting on the couch with Little Girl before my work week starts at 12. I have been thinking a little about the future, about the now, and of course, about my children. There is so much going on in life right now that sometimes it seems hard to keep focus on just one thing for very long. There's work, there's the wife's school work, and the preparations for me getting ready to go back to school in the fall. There's Little Man going to school and having play dates, and Little Girl who is just... Well... Little Girl, sweet, adorable, sometimes rotten, but always after the spotlight.

Bills have to be paid, diapers bought, gas, food, household supplies, and by the time it is over, so is my paycheck. There is never the time to go out and just be with my wife, or just take a random trip with The Kiddos. We don't have the money to afford for me to take days off from work just to get away, and I feel like work will be the ruin of me before I know it. The hours are long, and the sleep is short. My brain hurts, my feet hurt, my chest hurts, and my heart hurts.

I feel like I cannot be the dad and husband I need to be when I am always gone and always stressed. Some days the only time I hear my children's voice is a quick phone call on my break. That's if they are in a good enough mood to even talk! The only time I see my wife is when I wake her up to tell her I love her and I am leaving. Overwhelming, overworked, over thinking. There is a happy place inside of it all though. A place of peace and solace.

There is peace in knowing that when the dust of life settles, everything we do, is just everything we've done. But we've done it for a reason. I do everything for my wife and for my children. I work through the exhaustion and the anger because it is what I have to do. I slip away to the walk in cooler at work just to look at their picture and remember why it is I am here. I check my inbox frequently to see if there are any "I Love You" texts from my wife. Tantrums can get to my core at home and sometimes I have to just hide out in the bathroom. Maybe just sit there and cover my ears, smoke a cigarette, and compose myself. Still, after the screaming fits and the crying from having a toy taken away, I can smile and find peace in knowing those are the screams of MY children. I am their daddy, and nothing can take that away from me. I am their's and they are mine.

Everyday life can be an everyday struggle on so many levels. We have the ability to press on, search within ourselves, and see what it is we needed to do and why we needed to do it. There is peace in knowing we did our best and did it for a good cause. Solace in simplicity when we lay down to go to sleep and realize we made it through another day. There are blessings in knowing that we woke up again, able to do it all.

**Thanks to Jonathon (@ganglion11) for the inspiration for this post. Finding peace in an unexpected place.**

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three Mistakes in the Dad Blogging World

The idea behind this post came from a tweet from Jeff Herring*, article marketing and content creation expert. The tweet was simply this: "What are the top three mistakes in your niche? That is your next article." I didn't even have to think about it before I responded. I am far from being any kind of expert when it comes to blogging. I have only been at this for 9 months. I still find myself to be very much a beginner on so many levels in the whole realm of social media. As my experience grows I'm sure my opinions may change and how I do things will change as well. This post is just based on my experience in blogging so far. Please feel free to comment with agreement or disagreement. Leave your opinions and continue the discussion.

Three Mistakes in the Dad Blogging World According to The Dude

1. It was said by many people after the whole "Dad Bloggers Suck" deal, that dad bloggers don't read other dad blogs. I don't think this is entirely accurate. I think plenty of dad bloggers read other blogs. The problem lies in the fact that  dad bloggers don't engage enough on their blogs. I am very bad about this one. Comments might come rolling in, but a lot of us are not that great at responding to comments on our blogs. Discussion cannot happen with only one person talking. A lot of times, readers will leave their thoughts in hopes of getting a response from other readers, but more importantly, the authors. Responding to the readers and continuing the discussion are vital parts of keeping readers, growing your online community and presence. More important though, it is another great way to engage other people and discuss with other dads. It should always start with community, after which everything else will  fall into place.

2. Dad bloggers, as individuals, do not market themselves as outwardly as they could, therefore decreasing reach to brands and marketers. For those looking to bring in extra income by working with brands and social media marketers, this one is for you. When I first started out I said I would never take money to do this. Well,  I did, and I would again. Good example of how opinions change. My primary reasons for writing The DaddyYo Blog are still because I love my family, I love being a dad, and love sharing my experiences. Writing is a good outlet for me so here I am. If there is a chance of bringing extra bread to my family's table though, I will give it a chance. To be successful at it takes work and a little marketing of it's own. If we are going to work with brands, they need to know we are willing to do so. Disclaimer notices are necessary so satisfy the FTC, but they are not good promotional tools. Dad bloggers must be willing to let it be known that they will work with brands and marketing companies and not be afraid of the term "selling out". Supporting a family is not selling out, it is being a dad. If you can do it, go for it!

3. Personality doesn't reign over content. I know what you are thinking: "Isn't content what makes a blog?" Yes, content is probably the highest ranking focus for a blog. In my opinion though, it should be number two. I have been guilty of this as well a few times. It is easy to generate a post based on a topic that is going viral around the blogosphere at the time. Opinion articles on current events are personal, but I'm talking a little more outside of that little box. Grammar, spelling, and such are important for many reasons, but it doesn't provide a voice. I love to read blogs where perfect sentence structure and grammar have been stomped on and a true, individual voice can be heard in the words I read. Some days it seems that there are a million posts on the same topic, but only one voice. Don't be afraid to let people know who you are as a person. After all, it is personality that makes us the people we are.

Now it's your turn. In your opinion, what are mistakes that dad bloggers make that prevent them from progressing forward as bloggers and social media entities? What can we do different? What should we do the same? Share your thoughts!

*Find out more about Jeff Herring online!



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Monday, January 17, 2011

Product Review and Giveaway: Ameba TV

Television has revolutionized the entertainment world ever since it's invention. Now in this very digital age, there are many different ways to access all of your favorite television entertainment programs. The bonus of this technology is that it is not just limited to watching your favorite episodes after they have aired, but the ability to control the programming your children watch. From the toddler age and older, the need for monitoring the programming they view grows more and more important. This is where Ameba TV set top box comes in. Designed by a parent, for parents, this set top box allows for easy control and access to a wide variety of children's programs, and makes customizing the content easy with just a few steps. Let's take a look at it, shall we?
Friday, January 14, 2011

Fives and Fist Bumps: The Lost Art of the Best Friend Handshake

::Scene opens with a dark stage. Fog starts to roll out and an eerie red glow starts to show. Then, from the sky, you hear a booming voice::

Voice: Since the dawn of time, mankind has used its hands for communication. From the first pointing of a finger, to the first peace sign, to American Sign Language, the hand has been an important part of communication. Then, born in the hip hop era of the 90's, was dap. Following dap in the 90's was the fist bump and the finger guns. Strolling right on in with the hype of Y2K was the fist bump. Out of all of these, one still remains a sacred art. Practiced by few, but mastered by those. This for of communication is well planned out, well practiced, and never EVER forgotten. This is the lost art of the best friend hand shake.

::Epic music plays. Like that of the imperial march. Thunder sounds and light flashes all around::

Okay, I know what you are thinking already. "Ummmm .. uhhhhh ... okay? Not so exciting there guy with the whole 'panned out like a play' thing you're doing." To this I shall ask you: Do you have toddlers?

As a dad, it feels super awesome when your kids consider you a friend and playmate. My kids and I play in a Toy Story tent, we play cars, and run around like crazy. We have our own little games and our own little songs that we sing together. Always such a terrific feeling to see them smile, hear them laugh, and want to do it all again and again. Well, until my knees start to hurt, and my back is sore from crouching in that small tent for too long. We always have such fun when getting into serious play mode.

Both of my kiddos also have something just between myself and them. We have best friend hand shakes. Each child has their own handshake with me. Little Man's goes like this: High give, fist bump, handshake, and finger guns while saying "YEAH!" in a manly tone. Little Girl's is like this: High five and then fist bump with the thumb up and saying "oh yeah". This is a must do at some point during each day. With Little Girl it is mostly at night when I am getting her to sleep. It is a part of our typical bedtime routine. Little Man however is game for the handshake anytime he is in a good mood.

People say all the time that is is important that we are dads before we are friends. I very much agree with that statement. The only thing I have to say with it is that it is still a very big part of your child's life, to also be their friend and their playmate. You might not ever be their best friend, but they will know that you are here when they want to play, and that it is a joy to do so. I never miss a great opportunity to let loose and become a kid again. It keeps me young, keeps me smiling, and it keeps me involved. My children know they can come to me when they are scared, sad or hurt, and daddy will be there to make it better. They also know that I am there when they want to be chased, want to play house, or want to jump up and down on the couch until they hiccup. Daddy is there, handshake and all, always ready for whatever they have in store.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Discipline or Diversion

Having toddlers is one of those parts of being a dad that we all love and fear at the same time. It is an exciting time as a child's development is so rapid at this stage. They are learning to talk and communicate more, learning to read, learning to draw, and learning more and more about their surroundings.

Then they are learning things that aren't exactly the great and fun things mentioned above. They start learning how to test their boundaries and the best way to sneak around and do things that mommy and daddy wouldn't let them do if they knew. They learn the power of the word "no" and the phrase " I don't want to". This can become a very tricky time, not just for parents, but also for the kids. Obviously we all have certain expectations of how we want our children to act. Even at such a young age it is important to have boundaries and expectations to help curb bad behavior and promote development of good social skills and family practices. This is when one of the hardest parts (at least to me) of parenting starts: discipline. This is also when one of the toughest questions of parenthood get asked: Discipline or diversion?

"No" is one of those words that is thin ice for parenthood. It must be used in order for our children to know when they can't do something or have something, or when they are misbehaving and need to learn that it is unacceptable. On the other side of that ice is the fact that it will become a steady word in their vocabulary as well. So it now becomes a very tricky decision sometimes. Do you go right on into disciplinary mode, or do you try a diversion? I asked this question of Twitter to see what some of the responses were. It seems split right down the middle. Some people prefer discipline, some prefer diversion. It all depends on the child and/or the situation.

My Take on it All - There is a time and place for everything. This is also a step in learning what is appropriate reaction and when. I think that sometimes there are situations where discipline may not be necessary, but something must be done to calm a situation down. This is a great time for diversion. Tantrums and fits that don't really revolve around bad behavior don't particularly warrant disciplinary action. Getting everyone out and away from the situation may be the best way to go. Finding a book to read, new toy to play with, or getting a snack, all can be great ways to break everyone out of a stressful situation and restore the peace in the home.

Discipline should be about teaching a lesson between right and wrong, therefore action should be chosen carefully when there may not be any wrong doing. Discipline should be firm, decisive, and always followed through with. I believe every household has the issue of "daddy says this" but "mommy says this" when it comes to disciplinary action. We run into that often here. Setting guidelines, rules, and specific courses of action can help with this so that when the need arises, there is no doubt of the punishment. At the same time, punishment should always be followed through with a little talking. Take the time to explain why it happened, and how the child can prevent it from happening again. There is always an opportunity to teach a child the difference between right and wrong, but the middle of a tantrum is no place to do it.

As always, discipline and diversion should always be done in a loving manner. We may be angry or feelings may be hurt, but acting out in anger and taking it over the edge is just not healthy for anyone. It is easy to lose your temper when tantrums become too much, or maybe we're just having a bad day. But always act in love, and let your children know that you love them.

Now it's your turn! -  What do you think? Do you prefer discipline or diversion? What do you find works the best for you? Share in the comments section your thoughts on discipline and diversion. I would like to see what different parents think and where people stand on such a tricky issue. Share your thoughts!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Time for Everything: Sunday Thoughts

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them; 
a time to embrace and a time to refrain; a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

For the longest time, when I was younger,  I always thought that this was just a song by The Byrds. It was a long time before I knew that it was actually a bible verse. Either way, song or verse, it is such a powerful read. There is a time for everything in life. A concept that becomes more and more clear as life progresses.

There is a time for everything we do and everything that happens in our lives. I think the hardest part though is knowing when it's the time for what it's time for. How are we to decide when it is time for one thing and when to switch gears and make it time for another? Is is something that comes with age and experience? Or is it something that comes with a certain amount of faith and hope? Who knows, life is like that. There is something to be said for knowing when it is time to change, and time to move on in a different direction.

Life brings us to points in which we must make decisions and move in a little different of a shuffle. We realize that things are not exactly as they should be, or not how we want them to be, and we must decide what to do next. Often times there is a large amount of uncertainty, sense of being scared, or even downright freaking out! No matter what though, there is the knowledge that it is time for change. A knowledge more important than anything you can ever learn in a book or in the news. The seasons change, the seasons turn. And with the change comes new life and new chances. Chances to be better. Chances to love more and laugh more. Chances to make everything right again and continue on in a new and brighter direction. 
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When Words Fail

Words are art. They can be beautiful, elegant, inspiring, and powerful. Words, spoken or written, can be used to lift people up, inspire them to do great things, and change lives forever for the good. To everything though, there is 2 sides. Words can also bring destruction, pain, hurt, anger, and hatred. They can be used to tear down another person, belittle someone else, spread hatred and anger. 

Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes we use words in anger that we would not normally use, and we can cause unintended damage with those words. Words spoken in anger are often spoken without thought of the power or direction of said words. Therein lies the problem: "Spoken without thought of the power or direction".

Be it our spouses, parents, siblings, or our children, words spoken in anger without thought can often be the most damaging. We always want to speak words of truth and speak them in love. Whether it is telling someone we love them, that they have done a great job with something; or on the other side of the spectrum with disciplining our children and confronting problems within the home. Sometimes though, words can fail. After such a time we are left with the bill for the damage they have caused, and it is a tough bill to pay.

My words have failed before. Words spoken in anger and frustration have been my downfall many times in the past. I have hurt people I would never want to hurt. I have brought tears to eyes that should have remained dry, clear, and just as beautiful as they ever were. I have seen the looks on my children's face when Daddy has failed to speak in a loving manner and spoke out of frustration.

The enlightenment of it all comes from knowing how to keep our words from failing. There is truth in knowing the power of the words we speak and that the power has a balance that must be maintained. When words fail, we fail. We not only fail ourselves but we fail those the words took aim at. Words are an art. Words are a power. Words can inspire, and they can destroy. In the words of the great Samuel Clemens: "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Music Monday: "Give It All" by Rise Against

"Break through the undertow, your hands I can't seem to find. Pollution burns my tongue, cough words I can't speak. So I stop my struggling, then I float to the surface. Fill my lungs with air, then let it out 
I give it all, now there’s a reason why I sing, 
So give it all, and it's these reasons that belong to me"

I'm just going to go ahead and say this: I am one of the biggest Stretch Arm Strong (the band) fans that ever lived. Their music has been, and will always be, a major part of my life. Today's song however, might top them for the number one seat in my favorite songs list. I was introduced to Rise Against by a friend of mine at work a while back. I was immediately captivated not only by their musical aspect, but lyrical genius as well. This song captivated me from the very first time I heard it.

Let me break down why this particular song means so much to me. For those who haven't read my post on my UNFILTERED blog, please check it out here before continuing. That post was written after one of the longest weekends I have ever spent at work. The last few days have seemed that epic to me, and being away from home and my family so much has hurt my heart to its core. I have been sore, exhausted, and barely able to hold my head up/

"Breathe, the air we give, the life we live, our pulses racing distances, 
so wet my tongue, break into song, through seas of competition,"

This song is where a lot of the strength to get up, dust off, and keep pressing on comes from. There has to be a voice inside of one's self that speaks louder than the negativity. There has to be a strength that is sought after and found. It doesn't just appear from nowhere. As a husband and a dad, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed with life. From bills to sick kids, work, and The Wifey going to school. I feel like I can't keep going and offer everything I have to them. But then I remember that they are the reason I do this all.

"We give it all, now there’s a reason why I sing,
So give it all, and it's these reasons that belong to me
Today I offer all myself to this I'm living for my dying wish, 
I give it all, now there's a reason, there's a reason, to give it all"

Not only has this song helped me when I was low, but it has also been the backbone music to the strength to do new things, step into unknown territories, and conquer the things in life I need to in order to be what my family needs me to be. There are many things I would like to change about myself. Health wise, attitude wise, mentally, physically. Many things that take more strength than I typically possess.

Today, and one day at a time, I offer all of myself to my family. There is a reason to give it all. There is a reason to brush myself off, pick my feet back up, and continue to press on. My dying wish, to know that I did all I could for my family. That I was what they needed me to be, when they needed me to be it, and that is what I live for.