The Field Trip

FieldtripMy youngest, who is in Pre-K had his first fieldtrip a few weeks back. I am lucky enough because I get to go on these field trips with him. One of the perks of being a Stay-at-home dad. One of his classmates parents owns a farm so the kids got to visit the farm and see cows, pigs, chickens, go on a hay ride, and all the kids got to pick out a pumpkin.

Fieldtrip 2The thing that stuck out to me most was the amount of dads who chaperoned the fieldtrip. I would say almost half the adults there were of the dad or grand-dad persuasion. I am so happy to see so many dads, especially working dads involved in their children’s lives.

It got me thinking because I drop off and pick up my kids everyday at school. I am at the building three times every day. I have been looking around, and I am not the anomaly there. There are lots of dads picking up and dropping their kids off. Lots of hugs, and kisses. Lots of comforting. Lots of dads not being the typical macho guy who doesn’t do anything besides earn for the family.

But, yesterday, I heard two moms talking and laughing at their husbands expense. I had to do everything to hold my tongue as they bashed their husbands about everything they do around the house and how they can’t seem to figure out how to do things the way that they (the women) like it done. Just because it isn’t your way doesn’t mean it is wrong. My wife and I do things much different around the house. But yet, here I am the primary caregiver of my children and not one kid has been scarred for life under my watch and I am sure not one of their children or households has been seriously injured under their husbands either.

I remember when I was in school, not many dads were involved in anything besides attending their son’s athletics. It is great to see how some things change, but it is obvious that there are still so many things that need to change, even just in that perception of what it means to be a dad.

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility Belt

 

Perplexus is Perplexing

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

A has wanted this puzzle game for some time. Every time we are in the toy department he plays with it for at least a little bit. His grandmother was nice enough to buy it for him this past weekend and he has rarely put it down.

Description

Perplexus reminds me of the wooden labyrinth games from when I was younger. If you don’t know what these are kids, look them up on Youtube they were really challenging. The difference between labyrinth games from when I was a kid and this is that it is in a sphere so the maze is in 3 dimensions. You have to twist and turn the sphere as a ball travels along an increasingly difficult course of 100 obstacles.

I have tried it, A has been addicted to it, even N has tried it. This is great for the younger ones too because it does work on hand-eye coordination and motor skills which is crucial at his age.

Also, this isn’t the only Perplexus game that PlaySmart makes. There is Rookie for beginners, which I will probably get for N to try his hand on. Also there is Epic, and Twist for even more challenges.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

Verdict

Great little toy for hours of fun. The boys love it. It is also great for travel because it is something to do besides play on electronic devices. Give it a try. Your family will love it.

Children and Germs, my Kryptonite

KryptoniteGerms. I hate them. I hate them. I. Hate. Them. They are Reason #3 why I am not a teacher. So let me do some Common Core Math for you here to make it a little easier to understand. Kids + Germs = Me being sick (constantly). So, as the new school year has only been going for a couple of weeks, I have managed to already get sick by these little germ factories we call kids. I am careful, I wash and sanitize, I clean the house, but it doesn’t fail. For the better part of 4 days I had been achy, fevery, coughy, running nose(y)?

I know why this happened to. It is because this is N’s first time in school. He is being introduced to all these new exciting germs on a daily basis. Germs he hasn’t had contact with previously. Germs, he brings home to dad. Germs that get dad sick. You see, dad has always been one to easily get sick. Strep throat as a kid. Constantly. Ear Infections. All the time. Scarlet Fever. Yep. Now before kids, I was a fairly healthy adult. Seasonal allergies, sure. But not constant sickness. Now here I am, and every school year, I get sick.

But, the worst part is that now that I am getting better and have been very careful around my kids to not get them sick. N is home today because he was coughing constantly yesterday and up during the night with a fever. So the germs finally did him in to. Eventually he will get used to all these new germs while daddy goes through the rollercoaster ride of sickness all school year. At least I don’t have a job I have to go to even while I am sick because I used all my personal time for sick kids. Oh, wait…

Sick kid and his puppy

Sick kid and his puppy

Weekend Review September 8, 2014

Weapons Training

Listen up maggots, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and start shooting some guns! How else are you going to survive the zombie apocalypse when it happens? So, put on your vest, grab your gun and start shooting.

Laserquest.com

Laserquest.com

Laser Quest

We recently went to play Laser Tag at Laser Quest on a hot but rainy Labor Day. Can I just say…It was a blast!

Description

If you don’t know what laser tag is watch the video.

You done watching the video? Good. Pretty self explanatory, huh? Well, that does a better job of explaining and showing what Laser Quest is then me. But, to add to it, they have video games, foosball, air hockey and other games in the area you wait before being let into the briefing room where you learn about the rules of the game. They also have a few big party rooms for birthdays or other events.

Basically, they brief you, you get your vest and gun, activate it, go in and try to kill everyone. And by kill I mean try to get the best score out of all the people playing by shooting their sensors and not letting them shoot yours. The games are 15 minutes long which actually seems pretty long once you are running around this big maze which is lit only by black lights.

 Verdict

You definitely have to try it if there is one near you. So Click Here to find out if there is one in your neck of the woods. Every one enjoyed it. The only thing I can say is I wish they had some smaller vests, because while younger kids can play, the vest doesn’t fit on a smaller child like my 4 year old “N”. His mother and I had to take turns wearing the vest while he had the gun (which is attached to the vest by the way). So we had to follow this little terror around as he ran stalked after girls totally annihilating them. It is pretty difficult to do, but also a lot of fun. Also, leave your pride at the door to the briefing room because once you get in there you will quickly realize that you are going to be beat again and again by a 4 foot tall laser shooting maniac.

 

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility BeltI am going to change up the weekend review a little bit and talk about products, experiences, vacations that I want for either me, as a dad, or for my kids and family as well as products. I am doing this because, lets face it, as a one income family, income is limited and we don’t buy a lot of new things for the kids. We also seem to buy even less for ourselves.

TABLETOPICS

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

This week I am going to talk about something I think would be great for the family. I feel that meal time is very important for all families. This is especially true as children get older and activities and life move people in all directions. Mom goes to work, Dad stays home, kids have school, activities, sports, friends. No one seems to have time to see each other anymore. That is why we love having dinner together. It gets us together and lets us reconnect as a family. We can talk about our days, enjoy a good meal instead of something quick on the go, and just unwind from a hectic day.

That is why I think that TABLETOPICS is a great product. Ever feel like you don’t know

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

what to talk about? Ever feel you can’t connect with your kids? I know I do, and I spend a majority of the day with them. TABLETOPICS is the ideal conversation starter. Kids love to participate and talk about their ideas and opinions so why not engage them, teach some great social skills (without them even knowing) and learn a little something about them. Each box comes with 135 questions such as “what’s your favorite ride at an amusement park” and “who is one of your heroes and why do they inspire you”. They fuel conversations and you never know where the conversation will lead.

The great thing though is that the box makes it easy to take with you, so it isn’t something that you need to keep at the dinner table. You can take them with you on a long trip in the car, at restaurants to keep the easily distracted munchkins entertained and not bugging the people sitting at the table behind them.

There are also many different additions so you don’t need to get it just for family time. They have additions for couples, dinner parties, family gatherings among others.

I know I want it for our family, and will probably be picking up my first box soon. If so, I will let you know how it goes.

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility Belt

 

Muppets Most Wanted

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

We rented Muppets Most Wanted last night from rebox for the boys to watch after a long day of outside play, water guns, water balloons, and getting soaked with the hose. It was a good cap to a fun day and a busy 4 days.

Description

I grew up on the Muppets Show. I was glad when Disney decided to do a new movie and was excited to see the sequel too. I love the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and that they are not afraid to poke fun at themselves.

Muppets Most Wanted literally picks up right where The Muppets ended in 2011. As soon as the movie ends, this one begins. They are approached by Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) to go on a world tour to capitalize on their recent success. What they don’t know is that Badguy is working with Constantine, the worlds number one criminal (also Kermit’s doppelganger) who just broke out of prison. Constantine ends up pretending he is Kermit as the Muppets travel Europe on their world tour. At each stop of the tour Constantine and Badguy break into museums.

It isn’t until Walter, Fozzie, and Animal (who knew from the very beginning) figure out that Kermit isn’t himself that the Muppets are able to stop Constantine in his evil plot to steal the Crown Jewels in London.

 Verdict

While I love the Muppets and this was a funny movie, it does bother me (as an adult) that none of the Muppets could tell that something was amiss with Kermit. But then I remembered that this was a kids movie and my kids were laughing at the story and the fact that the Muppets couldn’t tell that it wasn’t Kermit while they knew. To them it was hilarious. Isn’t that what it is about? Making kids laugh. Right? I love the Muppets, and I liked this movie enough to say you should at least rent it, even if you don’t add it to your Disney collection.

Weekend Review July 28, 2014

Utility Belt

Lego®

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

This week I am just going to talk to you about Lego®. I grew up on Lego®, and my kids are growing up on Lego®. I do not feel that parents should force their love of things on their children and I have never pushed anything onto them. I am glad I never had to with Lego®. I have always loved building with the blocks and it is relaxing and can take quite a bit of time to build a complicated set. The great thing about this versatile little brick is that it makes for great imaginative play. While putting together the sets is a lot of fun. The great part that I see with my boys is everything else they make out of them and how long it holds their imagination.

Description

Lego® began making the “interlocking brick” in 1949 and has grown (through some ups and downs) into a huge company with more then just the brick. They now have many video games, clothing, movies, and even theme parks. But what it all really comes down to is the tiny little brick that can make imaginations run wild.

FallingwaterThe great thing about Lego® is that anyone of any age can find enjoyment in them. I received them as gifts up until my 21st birthday when I was sadly told I was too old to get them anymore. But I have gotten one of the Architecture series sets. While it did sit in the box for quite some time, “A” and I put together the replica of one of my favorite buildings in the world, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater®. It now sits on my desk with Benny (if you watched The Lego® Movie you know who I am talking about) standing on the bridge holding my phone charger.

The TableThat is another great thing about Lego®. “A” uses all my old bricks to build and add to his collection. He has a table full of all these old sets that he uses to make his new buildings. Some of these bricks are 30+ years old and he still is able to use them and they look the exact same as the new bricks he has today. It gives me great enjoyment and satisfaction to know he is playing with them and enjoys them as much as I do.

Pros (+)

+ Easy to build
+ Great for imaginative play
+ Many different sets.

Cons (-)

– Pricey.

Verdict

Who doesn’t want Lego®? I love them, my kids love them, everyone loves them. Great fun, hours upon hours of imaginative play. What other toy can say that?

The Fort

The BatcaveThe BatcaveWhen I was a kid I used to love making forts out of pillows and blankets at my grandparents house on a rainy day. Now as a dad there is nothing I like more then seeing my kids enjoy the same fun.

Inside the fortWith the help of the lead architect “N” we built one on a recent rainy day. I love listening to them play inside. I sat outside and just listened to their great imaginations at work. This is so much better then any video game or electronic device because everything they did inside and around it was them creating it and doing it and thinking it themselves. They were not being led by some device. They were leading. This is what childhood is all about to me.  This is what will help them survive out in the world outside of school. Imaginative play helps create imaginative individuals who will have great and imaginative lives.

But that is not what it is about for them. It is about fun. More then anything I enjoy that they are having fun with something so simple. “N” liked it so much he even took his nap in it.

Sometime, I love rainy days.

The View From My Office

The Batcave

My Office

My Office

This is the best thing about being a SAHD (Stay-at-home dad). This was my office yesterday. I got to spend time with my kids and have fun at the park. I am not stuck in some tiny cubicle breathing recirculated air. I am out in the fresh air playing with my kids. Sure, I don’t get paid for it. But the perks are amazing. I bet you don’t get this with your job.

These are the days that remind me why I am a SAHD. These are the days that recharge my batteries and keep me going. These are the days that I am not worried about the cleaning, and the housework. These are the days I am not thinking about the money I don’t earn. These are the days that I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

These are the days that remind me that I have the best job in the world. Now excuse me, I have a board meeting to attend to (ie. go play with my kids).

Go Play Already

Go Play Already

Video Games

The TrainingWhen someone talks about video games and kids, it seems like everyone has opinions. I am not going to talk about the merits or perils of Grand Theft Auto or First Person Shooters. I grew up playing video games, at home (when it was first becoming popular with the Atari 2600), and in arcades (these were buildings people went to for the sole purpose of putting a quarter into a slot on the front of a giant machine to play a game). I am horrible at video games but I love video games. I love the escape from reality for a short period of time.

Playing Video GamesNow I have two little gamers that I can play games with. While there are games I will not let them play at this point in time, I do love playing with them, and they appear to enjoy playing with me. To me it isn’t about the game any more, it is more about the bonding and doing something we truly enjoy together. I know, I know. We should be outside playing and running. After all, it is summer. But this is something we can all do together and laugh and talk about. This is something we all share in common. Don’t get me wrong, we do play outside too. We do enjoy going to the pool at the school. However, if I can do something I grew up enjoying with my kids, I will.

I know that games are more realistic then when I was a kid. I know they are more violent then when I was a kid. As a parent it is my job to police what they have access to. They do not play the violent games so I am not worried about that. Besides, I do not believe violent video games make violent kids. I believe violent kids, and violent environments make violent kids. I am not concerned about them becoming obese children. I played videogames for hours on end as a kid but I also ran around my neighborhood plenty with my friends. I never got obese as a kid. My kids play plenty outside. My kids burn tons of energy during the day. I am not concerned.

I am just glad that I have something that my boys and I can enjoy and bond over together. Especially since they are both so different in there likes and dislikes. It is great to have one thing we all can do and enjoy together. So go out, find what you and your children like doing together and tell me about it. I would love to hear what you all love doing together.