Commercial Interruption

For the longest time, NHL’s television watching habits were blissfully commercial free.  He would watch DVDs, kids channels (where the only commercials were for their own shows) or DVRed shows (commercials quickly skipped by).  As he’s gotten older, though, he’s come to notice those little bits of advertisement.  I’d like to announce that my savvy son has realized that these are just crass attempts to sell him things he doesn’t need.  I’d like to say that.  Really, I would.  Sadly, I can’t.

Of course, NHL is only 7 years old, so his naiveté can be forgiven when it comes to this subject.  Still, it is both amusing and frustrating to hear a commercial come on the television only to be followed by cries of “Can we get that?”, “Can we go to that?”, “Can we watch that?”  Of course, since his little brother is such a copy-cat, those cries get echoed by JSL as well.

If an “As Seen On TV” product spot airs that shows kids gluing bits of paper together to make something that vaguely resembles a dog, suddenly the boys will want this item.  It is all they’ve ever wanted in their lives and they must possess it!

If the boys see a commercial for a fast food chain, they are overcome with a hunger for burgers and chicken nuggets.  And a toy.  Don’t forget the toy that comes with the meal!  (We used to let the boys have the rare trip to McDonalds until we realized that JSL was playing with the toys and refusing to eat anything but french fries.)

If NHL spies a spot for a new television show that will be airing, suddenly he develops a desire to see this show.  The DVR must be set immediately even if the show is a month away.  Never mind that the DVR can only go a week out.  This show is going to be the greatest thing EVER and they can’t wait to see it.

I’ve sat down with NHL and explained that he doesn’t need everything he sees in commercials.  I’ve told him that they are designed to sell him things.  Still, I know that come the next commercial interruption, he’ll be asking for something new that he just has to have.

How about you? Have your kids noticed and asked for items from commercials?

Summer Day Trips

We don’t take many vacations. Most of the ones we do take involve going to see family. Still, it occasionally is nice to do something outside of our ordinary day-to-day routine. We’ve figured out a couple of kid-friendly getaways nearby to escape from the everyday.

How Amusing

The most common destination is a local amusement park. Now, I’m not a big fan of wild rides. NHL, on the other hand loves them. When we go to Six Flags, NHL’s favorite ride is the bobsled. We’ll get in our seats, lower the safety bar and up we go. Then, all too suddenly, we’re going down along a bobsled track, moving up and down the sides. Once, late in the season, B, NHL and I were the only ones in the bobsled and the sled actually left the track somewhat. Not enough to fly off and and injure us, but just enough to seriously scare us. Over time, I’ve learned to cope with these intense rides and perhaps even enjoy them a little. The one thing that I don’t want to do is dissuade him from doing something he enjoys because of a groundless fear of mine.

Pick Your Favorite

Growing up, a lot of my favorite moments were going to a local farm and picking our own fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries. There’s just something about getting down close to the ground and plucking a nice, red berry fresh off of a plant that I love. Even sneaking the occasional berry snack is part of the whole experience. Of course, the time that my parents filled the back seat of the car, necessitating that I stand in the back seat going home was memorable for all the wrong reasons. My father accelerated a bit too much and I went backwards, sitting right in the freshly-plucked strawberries!

We’ve taken the boys strawberry picking and they love it. They love hunting for ripe berries and filling up the containers. And, yes, they’ve also (when I let them) snuck a bite. The best part of berry picking is that even when the trip is over, you can relive the day by taking a bite of one of the sweet berries that you picked.

Don’t think that all summer trips need to be long affairs to far off destinations. Sometimes, the best trips don’t involve packing a suitcase or expensive hotel rooms. Sometimes, they merely involve getting out to a fun place right in your own backyard. What fun, but not far getaways have you done over the summer?

Life Lessons Learned From Sharing Childhood Favorites

NHL meets Bugs and Lola Bunny

Of all of the ways to connect with your children, one of the most rewarding has got to be introducing your children to things that you were interested in as a child.  Not only do you wind up reliving some of your favorite moments from your childhood, but you build on them. You wind up not only seeing them with adult eyes, but seeing through your kids’ new slightly different perspective.

Now, I’m under no illusions.  I’m a geek.  So the things that I like, the things I want to inspire my children to have interests in are geeky pursuits like comic books, cartoons, computers, and science fiction.  As NHL got older, he started showing an interest in geeky things.  Not only did he join the chess club, but he started working math into every conversation and drawing that he could.  I saw my opportunity.

First, I began introducing him to the wonderful world of superheroes.  I showed him the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon and he enjoyed watching the exploits of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Despite his spider-strength, he would often find himself outmatched physically or in situations where brute force wouldn’t help. I soon began to see another benefit to sharing my geeky interests: imparting life lessons. I made sure to point out to NHL that Spider-Man knew that not every problem could be solved with physical force. Instead, Spider-Man would succeed when he thought through the situation and used his brain to come up with a solution.

A similar lesson came into play when NHL and I began watching Looney Tunes. I pointed out to NHL how the protagonist of the story is usually overpowered. Bugs can’t exactly take on Elmer’s gun head-on and Tweety can’t beat up that bad ol’ putty tat. However, Bugs can outsmart Elmer (quite easily, in fact) and Tweety keeps one step ahead of the putty tat thanks to out thinking him. Again, I used my childhood favorites to show NHL that, when he encountered a problem, the proper thing to do was use his brain to find a way out.

Of course, not everything I introduce NHL to will have a moral to teach. Still, I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for life lessons hidden away in my childhood favorites. What childhood favorites do you intend to introduce your kids to? Which have you already introduced them to? What life lessons could you work into those introductions?

TechyDad Revolutionary or Today Is a Good Day to Di-aper!

Hey everyone, my name is TechyDad. Who is TechyDad, you might ask? Well, me of course. Do you think I'd be writing about him in the first person if I wasn't he? I'm just your average web developer, science fiction and math nerd, cooking enthusiast, amateur photographer, finder of freeware, ardent advocate of alliteration ala Alton (Brown, that is)…. and also a member of the Dad Revolution.

Growing up, I remember seeing my father come home and expect dinner to be on the table (or at least ready to be set out). After eating, he would either go work on things he brought home from the office or would sit in his easy chair and watch TV until he went to bed. He would constantly claim that my mother didn't work, but I'd see how much she would toil cleaning the house, doing the laundry, running errands, cooking, etc. I knew that, when I was married, I didn't want to be a “detached dad”, I wanted to be an “active dad.”

When I first became a father, I'll admit, I was more than a bit terrified. Here was this tiny thing that depended on me. One little slip-up and tragedy could strike. It didn't help when, one month shy of turning a year old, NHL had a febrile seizure and stopped breathing. I learned dread and panic like I had never known before as I thought I was watching my baby die in front of me. Luckily, he began breathing again and was ok. We had had febrile seizures and so knew the possibility existed, but weren't prepared for the reality. (We found out that they're usually harmless, but try keeping that in mind when your baby's not breathing!)

Still, I persevered. I changed diapers. I cooked dinners. I got up at hours that by all rights I should have been spending in dreamland because little ones were crying. I steered little ones away from bad and possibly dangerous behaviors and into good, safe behaviors. And, you know what? I was having fun!

For every scary time, there were many, many more happy times. Seeing my sons walk for the first time and talk for the first time. Seeing my big kid become an avid reader (like me) and gain an interest in science fiction (like me) and math (like me again – should I rename him mini-TechyDad?). Seeing my little kid's personality blossom as he insists on being called “Big Robot JSL Pup-Pup Tigger” while wearing new Tigger sunglasses and trying to bounce in his carseat. Trying to capture all of the moments I could using my camera and thanking the inventors of digital cameras for keeping me from having to develop ten rolls of film just to have three non-blurry, non-looking-away, non-throwing-a-temper-tantrum-because-daddy-is-taking-too-many-photos, non-blinking pictures of my boys.

However, while I was a dad and later a dad who blogged, I never really felt like a member of a community. My wife was part of a mommy blogger community. Where was the daddy blogger community, I wondered. I began finding more and more dads blogging online. Of course, I never really thought I was alone in this dads-who-blog thing, but it was great finding and following other dads going through the same things I was. I could see a dad blogger community forming in front of my eyes. I even met one or two in person and hope to meet more when I go to BlogHer this August. And now I get to join up with some great Daddy Bloggers in glorious Revolution! We shall be overthrowing old stereotypes of not only the dad-who-does-nothing, but also the dad-who-knows-nothing and the dad-who-is-only-interested-in-sex-beer-and-sports. (Not that those last things aren't great, but we aren't defined by them.)

Now who has the pitchforks and torches…. to, uh, roast marshmallows with. Yeeeahhhh. ;)