Monday, June 7, 2021

Three Healthy, Easy, Frozen Treats for Kids

As a dad, I sometimes feel like the Batman character Two Face. He's the guy who got burned with acid on one side of his face only, conveniently forming a straight line down the middle. The natural side of Two Face is logical. The acid-burned side of Two Face is impulsive. That's the way I feel as a father, with the smooth-skinned side of my fatherly soul wanting to give my kids only good things, and the purple, acid-burned side wanting to spoil my kids with all kinds of treats.

That's why I love treats that can appease both sides of my battling soul by being both nutritious while also seeming like a treat. Parenthetically, I recently convinced myself that ice cream does not count as a nutritious, calcium-filled serving of dairy.

So here are three of my kids' favorite nutritious treats.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

One Man's Trash Is a Great Project for Another Man and His Daughter

Everybody knows the saying One man's trash is another man's treasure. That is why garage sales, Goodwill, and the tv series Storage Wars exist. People love finding hidden gems in the things that they pull out of the garbage. And some people have garages full of these finds, just waiting for time to fix it, repaint it, salvage it, and make it a great treasure. I know because I have several of these projects in my garage. 

I have a whole side of my house full of logs from cut down trees, just waiting to be chopped into firewood. I have tools just waiting to be rebuilt or refinished. Tables needing to be resurfaced. So many projects (and after I finish this post and my wife reads it I will probably spend some time listing some of these things on Freecycle to get rid of them). 

A few months ago somebody posted on Freecycle that they were getting rid of a tandem bike that was a project bike that they lost interest in. My ten-year-old loves projects, she loves spending time with daddy, and she loves bike riding. So this sounded like a perfect pickup. I arrived home that evening with a beat up, ready for the recycle bin tandem bike with two flat tires, shredded seats, and no hand grips. And my daughter was thrilled. 

We spent the next several weeks, and countless trips to the bike shop, fixing the bike. Replacing seats, tires, tubes, handle grips, chains. If there was something that could be replaced, we replaced it. And let me tell you, that first ride with her was terrifying. 

Seriously, if you have never been on a tandem bike before with somebody who is EXTREMELY excited and bouncy and you're the one trying to keep the balance and steer the thing, then you don't know what fear is. 

But seriously, this was a really fun project to work on with my daughter. And while I probably could have purchased a used tandem bike for what I spent in parts, the time that we spent working together will always be a great memory. 



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Arizona Staycation: Ten Great Things in Tombstone and Bisbee

I have a terrible confession to make. I spent half of my childhood in Arizona, and I moved back to Arizona 18 years ago. And in almost 30 years of living in this state, I had never been to Tombstone, Arizona. One of the most famous Arizona towns, made popular by one of the most famous lawmen in U.S. history, in my own backyard, and I had never taken the time to go there. 

To make matters worse, Tombstone is my favorite western movie of all time. 

So when my wife and I decided that we needed to get around to see more of this state with our kids, it was time for me to brush off the cowboy hat, saddle up the old truck, and take the family down to one of the most famous western towns in the Southwest. 

Let me start by saying that we felt the need to prep the kids by showing them a western, and while they're not quite old enough (ages 8, 10, 12) to handle Tombstone, we felt that they could handle Silverado. And for two weeks after that, leading up to the trip, my son (8) wore jeans, boots, a vest, a hat, and his cap gun everywhere. The ten year old donned her hat (cur fight over who had the best cowboy hat), and the tween was just ready to get a break. So we knew it was time to go. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Most Amazing Artisan Bread You Will Ever Make

Spoiler alert - the finished product
I'm all about superlatives. But seriously, this is the best bread recipe ever, and it only requires four ingredients. It takes all of five minutes of actual prep time, about three hours of rise time, and 30 minutes of bake time. It tastes like you spent a long time in the kitchen. Guys, this is a great way to impress your lady. Ladies, this is a great way to impress your guy. Kids, this is a great way to impress your parents. We originally found this recipe on www.italianfoodforever.com. I have made some modifications. Regardless, I would like to kiss that woman on the lips.

Let's get started.

Ingredients 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Tool Review: Greenworks 60V Self Propelled Wheelbarrow

Anybody who knows me knows that I love gardening and working in my yard. I am notorious for working myself to complete exhaustion, at which point my wife will ask me if I can moderate. The short answer is no. I cannot. I am like a toddler. I either go 120% or 0%. I have an on/off switch, and that's it. 

Case in point. Two weekends ago I wanted to plant a fruit tree. The problem was that I had two oleander bushes in my way. Over the past four years I have averaged one oleander bush removal per year, while needing an entire year to forget how terrible that process is. But this fruit tree had to be planted, two oleander bushes

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Ten Things I Learned from Building a Dollhouse with My Daughter

In 2019 my wife and I got our daughter a dollhouse for her ninth birthday. Initially I wanted to completely build a dollhouse from scratch with her, but my wife helped talk me down from that ledge. (She typically only has to ask, "When will you find time to do that?" So much wisdom!) So we opted for a Victorian wooden dollhouse kit (available at Hobby Lobby) -- still pretty DIY in the true Renaissance Dad style, but with pieces already cut out. 

When Big A opened the dollhouse, her face lit up. She asked when we could start building it, which we did right away. Started. And it took us one year to build, from start to finish. 

One. Year.

I thought I was prepared for this. My friend Stan built a dollhouse with his daughter, and they worked on it for something like 18 years. He and I often talked about the process, so I had mentally prepared for a building project that would be something akin to building an actual house. I wasn't sure if my nine-year-old would feel the same way.

I was pleasantly surprised. My daughter not only loves building things (check out her inspiring project here), but she also loves just spending time with me (Daddy Daughter Date here). The dollhouse is the perfect combination of these two things.

And here are some things that I have learned in the year that it took us to build the doll house.

1. This project was my daughter's, and it went the speed that she wanted. If I had done the dollhouse on my own, I would have laser-beamed on each task, working on it evening and weekend until it was done. But it wasn't my own, and the goal was not a completed house. The goal was to spend time with my daughter on a common task.

2. I was a consultant. The house was my daughter's. She picked the colors, the wallpaper, the style. I got to make recommendations, but she could completely ignore me whenever she chose. And she did. But that's okay, since I wanted the house to be hers. Again, I was along for the enjoyable ride, so "fancy" ruled the day no matter how much I preferred "practical" or "classy". 

3. This project needed a space. Initially we were working in our guest bedroom. But then guests happened, and the dollhouse moved to the garage. Then summer happened, and it moved inside during some stages. I finally cleared off some table space in the garage, and that is where our "workspace" was. When it was moving around every couple of days, it was a pain. So the dollhouse space was a very necessary component of the project.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Renaissance Dad's Top Ten Products the Year

Let's start 2021 by getting a little philosophical. Think about the number of products that you come into contact with every day. From the time you wake up, to the time you go to bed, you encounter thousands of products. This morning, as I was making coffee, I thought about this. Just to make coffee, I made decisions about the type and brand of the coffee maker, the coffee, the filters, the r/o system that provides the water, the faucet, the container for compost for the old grounds, and the mug that I use. When I look around my house, my yard, and my office, the number of products is staggering. 

So imagine the glorious honor of making it onto Renaissance Dad's Top Ten Products of the Year list! Yes, here for the second year in a row, is my Top Ten list, with ten of my favorite products from last year. Note: These are glowing endorsements from me with no compensation or free product (unless noted). These are just products that I used and loved in 2020. In no particular order, here they are: 

Follow by Email