Sunday, June 30, 2019

Storage Coffee Table with Puzzle Tray


Spring is a very busy time for educators. We're preparing for standardized testing, Advanced Placement testing, end of the year ceremonies and celebrations, etc., etc., etc. It is the time of year when my sanity starts to slip, and I need to make a focused effort on taking care of myself.

There are many things that I do to keep my sanity, but one thing that keeps me going is a good project. Having a project that I can focus on, especially one that takes both mental focus and sweat, is my way of recharging. A few years ago I had a stained glass project that kept me going through the end of the school year. This year, I had a woodworking project. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Renaissance Dad Tool Review: Greenworks 60V Brushless 10-Inch Pole Saw

I am a power tool enthusiast. When my wife and I were first married, I used to plan house projects around the new tools that I wanted (sorry, not sorry, sweetie). When I wanted a router, I convinced myself that baseboards and trim would be easier and nicer if I cut them myself with a router and router table. When I wanted to make my own compost, I convinced myself that owning a chipper/shredder would be the best way to go. And on, and on, and on.

But sometimes I see a tool and I wonder if it is really necessary, or I arrogantly think, "Yeah, some people will need to use that, but I can make do with what I have because I've got the mad skills." Some tools seem like superfluous space-wasters. I used to think that way about a jointer, until I got one and realized how much easier it is than trying to use a table saw or planer to do the same job.

That is the question that ran through my head with a pole saw. For those who may be unfamiliar with this tool, it is like a chainsaw at the end of a pole (you may ask yourself why one wouldn't just attach a chainsaw to a pole and call it good. The answer is because that is completely unsafe, but I'm sure there is somebody on YouTube who has done this and posted step-by-step instructions).

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

All Natural Deodorant That Works: Strong Enough For Men and Women

Let's talk body odor...

I used to teach junior high English. About twice a year, I would have a conversation with one of my classes that would begin with, "You guys stink!" I would then talk about cleanliness and deodorant. If the students were really lucky, I would then make them diagram a sentence with the subject "I", the verb phrase "will use", the direct object "deodorant", and the adverb "tomorrow". Yeah, I was an awesome teacher.

As my wife and I have moved towards trying to avoid chemicals, deodorant has been a struggle. For years I felt like my two options were either to use chemicals or to use natural deodorants that didn't really work. In fact, I felt like most natural deodorants just kept me in the habit of applying deodorant on a daily basis without actually doing anything for me.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summer Reading List for Your Kids: 13+ Books to Keep Your Kids, Tweens, and Teens Occupied

Four years ago I wrote an article about some of my favorite books as a recommendation for summer reading (if you missed it or if you need some outstanding books to read, you can check the article out here). Most of the books that I recommend in that article are for teens and older. Great for parents, but maybe not much help for your kiddos.

If your kids are anything like mine, they attack books during the summer like a starving Tasmanian devil devouring carrion. It seems like they read almost every book in the library before the first week of summer is up and are always looking for new recommendations. So leading into this summer, I thought that maybe I could get some help from my kiddos, and--after some coaxing--I got them to tell me about some lesser known favorites. Don't expect in-depth book reviews here (have you ever tried to get a story synopsis and thoughtful critique from an eight-year-old?), but these are kid tested and approved! If you have a reader and a library nearby, here are some recommendations.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Host Foreign Exchange Students and Make Lifelong Friends

When my older brother and I were in high school, he was sold on the idea that we should host a foreign exchange student. I have four brothers, and at that time our family had two in high school, one in junior high, and two in elementary school. I think my parents' response was something along the lines of, "That would be a great experience for all of us. Let's do it." But, being a parent now, I can only imagine the internal monologue went something like, "There are already five of you. I can't imagine life being any more chaotic, so why not?"

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