Thursday, February 15, 2018

What Can I Learn from a Sock Hop?

One of my favorite memories/traditions with my daughters is our regular daddy daughter dances. As an educator, I help chaperone Prom every year, and for the past seven years I have always taken one of my daughters as my date. They love it, my students love it, and I get to dress up with one of my girls and have a fancy date.

So last week, when we got an invitation for a Sock Hop at my kids' school, I was pretty excited to take them. And I was shocked when Little E said that he wanted to go. He typically likes to lay on the floor and play Legos with nobody touching any of his precious pieces. But hey, he wanted to go to a social event at his school, so we decided to make it a family affair - my wife and I and our three kids.

For those of you who don't know what a Sock Hop is, it is a dance that originated in the mid 20th century where all of the students took off their shoes for the dance. The purpose of taking off shoes was so as to not scratch the gym floor with heels and hard soled shoes, which, as a school administrator, I can really appreciate. Typical

Monday, January 29, 2018

If This Hammer Could Talk

I have been working on a flooring project since last July. Almost every weekend, with the exception of a "sabbatical" during the holidays, some part of the house is a construction zone. All of the furniture is moved. The flooring is pulled up. The sub floor is cleared. New flooring goes in. The edges are caulked. The furniture is moved back. And it all happens with just enough time for me to have a Nerf gun battle with the kids before I go back to work on Monday.

The good news is that I just have three small spaces left. The bad news is that I STILL have three small spaces left.

But earlier this month I was hammering the flooring into place, and I got really contemplative. I was using a hammer that had been passed down through what I believe is three generations--an

Monday, January 22, 2018

Renaissance Dad Tool Review: GreenWorks 60V 16-Inch Brushless String Trimmer

Three-and-a-half years ago I wrote an article about my new GreenWorks string trimmer. I was so happy with the performance that I labeled it "The Best", being extremely content with the 40V power, the compatibility with my other 40V tools, and its ease of use. That string trimmer has been fantastic, and I have not been on the lookout for a new one.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

"Can I Help?" Putting Aside Independence for the Sake of Independence

Today is the last day of 2017. It is also the last day of the NFL season, and, based on the way my Bears and Cardinals have played this year, it is the last game for any team that I care about. So while watching football and enjoying the last day of Christmas decorations, I decided to do a little baking.

With our lemon tree producing an over-abundance of lemons again, I decided that today was a great day to make a Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake. If you have never had this, you should probably stop reading right now, click on the link, and make this phenomenal cake before reading any further.

I got out the ingredients and got into my zone. The butter and sugar were getting creamed, I was zesting lemons, and I heard, "Hey dad, whatcha' doing?" I explained to my five-year-old that I was making a yummy cake. And then I heard the words that are sometimes sweet, but usually not at the time when I want them. "Can I help?"

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

DIY Lego Advent Calendar

For as long as we have had kids, my wife and I have enjoyed creating a homemade advent calendar - a countdown to Christmas. The first year we did it, my wife hand folded and glued paper bags out of wrapping paper, numbered each one, and we inserted a Christmas story/Bible verse, a song, and some treat. Yeah, you do things differently when there is only one kid.

Over the years, this has slightly morphed.  A couple of years ago, we ditched the homemade paper bags for some small cotton bags that we got at a local craft store. We also got numbered buttons that we put onto each one, numbering them one through 24. In addition to the slips, we added something that we could do as a family to show love to others. These include things like take a treat to a fire station, call a grandparent, or sell a toy and give the money to a charity. While we don't get to every task, they help keep us in the mindset of thinking of others for the season.

Additionally, since it is an Advent calendar, we have traditionally included some treat for the kids. Candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup... Actually, scratch the last two, but we reluctantly gave our kids treats because we wanted them to have something to look forward to.

This year, however, my wife and I had a game changer. We saw a Lego Advent calendar, but at a cost of close to $50, without our homemade focus on acts of kindness, and looking like it would only work for one kid per calendar. So we decided to adapt a Lego set to our existing Advent set up.

We snagged a great cyberdeal on a Lego Friends set--$24 for 300 pieces, which included a boy and a girl (a definite must for multi-gender families). We printed the PDF of the instructions and cut them into 24 manageable steps. Then we separated the Legos into the bags, along with the verse, the daily task, and the day's instructions.

Each night, as a family, we read the story and think about ways to show love to others. The kids then each get some of the Lego pieces and the day's instructions, and add to the set. The great thing is that they have no idea what they're building, so we get to hear their guesses each day. As we move through Advent, they will get a clearer picture of what they are creating
as more and more pieces come together.

May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas season as you spend time together, look for ways to show love to others, and celebrate the traditions and joy of Christmas.

Merry Christmas! 

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