blog How Do You Discipline Their Kids? <p><img class="left" src="" width="300" height="225" alt="" title="" /> The weather is getting warmer, the days are longer, and you can finally get out of the house.  What a great time to get a bunch of kids together for a playdate.  Maybe you're really brave and are willing to take your kids and a few others down to the park, or maybe someone just came over to play in your yard.  You're excited to finally have the kids be doing something <em>outside</em> of the house.  All is going well until the kids start acting up a bit.  Maybe you've got some five year-olds who won't stop with the potty talk, maybe it's nine year-olds who think it's cool to spit everywhere and you're grossed out.  Maybe the kids keep running around the house and you're getting worried they are getting too close to the street.  Either way you suddenly have a dilemma:  You know how to discipline your own kids, but what do you do if it's your child's friend who is causing the problem? Here are my three simple rules for keeping the kids in line and your sanity in one piece.</p>
<p>1. - Is it worth addressing?</p>
<p><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>-sometimes a behavior you don't like, especially in smaller children, can be handled through a simple sleight of hand - <span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>just by changing their situation!  Maybe it's time to have a snack, or there is a new game for them to try.  Remember, <span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>the younger kids don't stay fixated on one thing for too long.</p>
<p>2. - Can it be handled through your own kids?</p>
<p><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>-If the kids are running too close to the street, get on your own child that they have to stay in the backyard and that he'll<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>be headed into the house if he can't play right.  If your child complains that it's his "friend" who is running around in the<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>wrong places, tell him that he "knows better" and then ask them both to stay in the backyard.  The friend will get the<span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>message without having it directed at him.</p>
<p>3. - If you have to say something.</p>
<p><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>-Your best bet to handle a situation where you absolutely have to address another child is to do it quietly and privately.  <span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>You don't want to embarrass your child's friend in front of your child.  Your goal is to change the situation and not make <span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>it worse.  And you don't want to give that child ammunition to talk about you when he heads home.</p>
<p>The biggest thing to remember is how would you want this addressed if it was your child at another house?  We have some friends who I have an agreement with - they should get on my kids just like they would their own if they are acting the wrong way, or doing something they should not be.  In other situations, where you don't know the children as well (or the parents), just remember, the playdate will be over soon, and you don't ever have to have another one if you don't want to.  Sometimes it's better to bite your tongue and wait it out than deal with the aftermath of dealing with other parents.  Unless you are close friends, it can become complicated quickly.</p>
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Sat, 30 Apr 2011 07:21:00 -0500
Mathematical Theories on Babysitting <p><img class="left" src="" width="225" height="300" alt="" title="" />How do you determine how much you pay your babysitter?  Do you have an hourly price or a set fee for the evening?</p>
<p>Places like <a href=""></a> recommend that you pay around $5 an hour and that prices go up based on the ages and "temperament of your children."  The hours we could while away discussing the temperament of our children and what it should cost us in babysitting fees.  Candi Wingate at <a href=""></a> recommends $10 an hour for one to two kids, but also says you should expect to pay as much as $18 per hour depending on the cost of living where you are located, the age of your kids and the experience of the sitter.  If you aren't happy with any of these prices you can go with <a href=""></a> who says you can get away with $3-$4 per hour.</p>
<p>That's a lot of varied opinion, but let's face it, you can't take anything to chance when you finally get the opportunity to go out without your kids.  You need an iron-clad, foolproof way of determining how much you are going to pay for sitters so that, a) they don't walk out on you half way through the night and b)they want to come back, no matter what happened with your kids.</p>
<p>Now generally we like to think our kids are pretty good, but let's face it, they aren't so good that we aren't dying to get out of the house on our own on a Friday night.</p>
<p>So here is our simple formula for paying babysitters:</p>
<p>age of children x amount of children + hours spent with children - amount of children x hours in bed during hours spent sitting.</p>
<p>It's not really that complicated.  So if Colleen and I go out this weekend it plays out like this:</p>
<p>age of children (5+5+5+9) 24 x amount of children (4) = 96 + hours spent with children (6) = 102 - amount of children (4) x hours in bed during hours spent sitting (3)</p>
<p>So we have a total of 24 years of children spread out over four kids with six hours being spent with them, that gets us about to $102.  We then subtract the three hours that they were all in bed (multiplied by four kids), that comes to about $90 for six hours of babysitting.  Of course this formula only really works if they are sitting your kids for five hours or more and there will be some bed time involved.</p>
<p>For babysitting of five hours or less you use this formula:</p>
<p>age of children x amount of children + hours spent with your children divided by the child negativity ratio (determined by taking the amount of children, multiplying by the hours the sitter would need to spend with the children to "have had enough," and dividing by the sitters age.</p>
<p>So a four hour get away for Colleen and myself would be:</p>
<p>age of children (24) x amount of children (4) = 96 divided by child negativity ratio (four children x seven hours to "have had enough" (28) divided by sitters age (14) = 2.) 96 divided by 2 = $48.  So for four hours of babysitting we would pay about $48.</p>
<p>Of course there are variables that have to play into the formula for various deviations.  There is the "can you wipe me up" .5% upcharge that often comes with children just out of diapers but not completely self-sufficient. We also add in an "innocence bonus" of 1% when we arrive home to find the sitter watching the Disney Channel even though the kids are all in bed and they could be watching a show above their age on HBO.</p>
<p>But there are some deductions that can be taken into account as well.  I think it's more than fair to charge a "macaroni and cheese pot left on the counter, now full of petrified macaroni and cheese," 5% deduction.  Also, there is a 2% deduction for each can of soda the kids drank while the sitter was in charge.  And yes, it is okay to carry over deductions to the next sitting session.  Sometimes you don't notice until the next morning that there should have been a "child in bed with ketchup smeared on her face," or a "marker stain on furniture in room where markers aren't allowed" deduction.  Those are both 1.5% penalties on the next visit. </p>
<p>That's how we do it and yes, it helps if we have a long drive home so we can work out our formulas before we arrive at the front door.</p>
<p>We'd love to hear how you determine your babysitting costs.</p>
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Fri, 11 Feb 2011 07:57:00 -0600
Paying the Price of Today's Parenting <p><img class="left" src="" width="300" height="225" alt="" title="" />What is the cost we pay for kids sports vs. parental income these days?  Would our parents have ever spent so much money for us to be involved in activities 30 years ago?  I just signed Jack, Michael and Tommy up for another session of Ice Hockey.  Jack has moved to an in-house league, so he'll finally be playing in games. Tommy and Michael have passed out of "learn to skate" classes and now are in Pre-Hockey 1. That means they are finally wearing all of the equipment.  Now I grew up playing hockey (and still play now - badly - in my old age) so I know how expensive the sport is.  Outfitting a five year old in all new equipment can easily cost more than $300.  And the fees are like no other sport.  Besides the equipment cost the price for our boys to participate over the next two and half months is just shy of a $1000.  And folks, that is for what would be conisdered minimal participation. We are in on the low end of the price spectrum.</p>
<p>We have friends who just had to pull their first-grader out of school to go play in a tournament in Canada.  They have two boys playing "travel" hockey, which not only means that they drive (and sometimes even fly) all over creation to play in games and tournaments, it also means that they could buy a new car every year with what they spend on hockey.</p>
<p>The pressure on parents to get their kids heavily involved in a particular sport is out of control.  Our fourth grader is so far behind these first graders that he maybe could never catch up.  There is no "season" for sports anymore.  Baseball practice starts in January.  Kids are pressured by their hockey coaches not to play baseball in the summer so they can keep skating.  Private lessons, tutors, year round clinics are offered for all sports.</p>
<p>By the time my kids get to school the four-sport star won't exist.  These kids get so good at such a young age that those who don't committ get left behind. Would the Michael Jordan who was cut from the basketball team in high school ever have tried again, or would he have just concentrated on baseball?  </p>
<p>Every generation does something more that the older generation can't believe.  Just as our parents must be stunned to hear about what we spend on certain things for our kids today, what must our grandparents have thought about....about.  What were the things our parents spent too much on for us?</p>
Wed, 12 Jan 2011 20:05:00 -0600
Vaccines and Autism <p><img class="left" src="" width="300" height="400" alt="" title="" />How do you argue with a mom whose child has autism?  You can't win that debate, especially if you have not walked in her shoes.  Colleen and I are lucky enough to have four children who have never had any serious medical issues.  Jenny McCarthy has a son who was diagnosed as autistic, and like any parent, was hell bent on doing whatever she could for him.  She has been a guiding light for so many parents with autistic children and given hope to many people who may have been beyond despair.  Her Generation Rescue group opened the Teach2Talk Academy in California, and early-intervention program.</p>
<p>But for all the good Jenny has done for parents with autism, especially shining a brighter light on the issue, her tactics and beliefs have possibly harmed other children.  Jenny is the most visible advocate for the belief that autism can be caused by vaccinations.  In interviews with Time Magazine over the past couple of years she stated her position as being that she doesn't think it's only the vaccines causing the problems, but she does believe they are dangerous and she will never have her son vaccinated again.</p>
<p>But just this week the study that launched the whole autism-vaccine connection was thoroughly discredited, showing that <a href=",0,2150272.story">Dr. Andrew Wakefield</a>, who led the research, in some way misrepresented the medical records of all 12 children in his study.  His work has now been called, "an elaborate fraud."</p>
<p>Despite all of the scientific studies that have showed vaccines to be safe, Jenny and others kept talking about the dangers of these vaccines.  In the meantime enough people have stopped following vaccination guidelines that some diseases like measles and meningitis have re-emerged. <a href=",8599,1967796,00.html">Time Magazine</a> reported that non-vaccination rates among kindergartners in some California counties are up to 10%.</p>
<p>McCarthy told <a href=",8599,1888718,00.html">Time</a>, "I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe.  If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f** fault that the diseases are coming back.  They're making a product that's sh**.  If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it.  It shouldn't be polio versus autism."</p>
<p>Unfortunately, the term "safe" doesn't seem to have an exact definition in this scenario.</p>
<p>Autism has risen at alarming rates and clearly money and time need to be devoted to finding out why this is happening. Everything should be looked at: cell phone usage, artificial sweeteners, vaccines, there are probably a hundred things we put into our bodies today that we didn't 30 years ago.   But when we choose something, that in our heart we believe to be the cause, scream from the mountain-tops to the point that people decide it's better to put their children at risk to other diseases - all based on information that wasn't credible, where does that leave everyone?</p>
Thu, 06 Jan 2011 06:50:00 -0600
It Really Does Take Two to Tango... <p><img class="left" src="" width="250" height="300" alt="" title="" />For how many years now have you been led to believe that the only thing men must do before they start having kids is wear boxers instead of briefs?  It was just six years ago now that Colleen and I were trying to conceive for our final time and were having difficulties.  After a few years of early miscarriages after having successfully had our first son Jack, we decided to see a fertility specialist. I had to make a donation and get my boys checked out, and while my reports came back fine, there never was any discussion about things I should be doing to make those boys swim any better.</p>
<p>It turns out there is a decent chance that my doctors didn't even really know what to tell me about that.  For years relatively little research was done in the are of men and conception.  The long-standing belief was that if men's sperm is deteriorated or otherwise impaired, it would be too weak to fertilize an egg.  In a startling article you can read on <a href=""></a>, Emily Anthes reports that a few researchers have been working on trying to figure out a man's true role, and whether outside influences like tobacco and alcohol consumption, or exposure to pesticides and other toxins, can affect offspring.</p>
<p>Some of the findings include male cancer patients manufacturing damaged sperm for up to two years after their last dose of chemo and women having more miscarriages when their male partners worked in jobs where they were exposed to lead and mercury.  Men exposed to pesticides having a greater chance of having children with leukemia.  Smoking seems to produce sperm with the wrong number of chromosomes.  Even alcohol and caffeine can cause sperm abnormalities.</p>
<p>So for all the men who sit back and watch their female partners try to get all healthy in the months before they start trying to get pregnant, it would be a good idea for you to also cut out your vices and give your child the best chance you can of being born healthy.</p>
<p><a href="">Listen</a> to the interview I did with Miller-McCune Editor-In-Chief John Mecklin.</p>
Tue, 04 Jan 2011 06:44:00 -0600
Why Are Men So Predictable? <p><img class="left" src="" width="131" height="175" alt="" title="" />What is happening to the male population of our world?  Maybe I've just reached the age (nearly 40) where people of my gender start falling apart.  Yet another story of a friend of a friend, whose husband decided (after more than a decade of marriage and a couple of kids) that he wants out.</p>
<p>Believe me, I understand the feeling.  In all of our marriages, no matter how strong they are, there are moments when you don't want to be there.  Hopefully those moments are few and far between and are short lived in their duration, but let's face it, they happen.  You can't truly enjoy the good times unless you also suffer together through the bad times and living a lifetime together means facing downhill as well as uphill. Colleen and I are no exception in this realm.  Certainly there are days when she wants to just kill me.  I understand that.  </p>
<p>What I can't fathom is why after 10 years or more of marriage, with kids in your lives, why then does a man find it acceptable to tell the woman he is leaving, "I don't think I ever loved you."  The rest of it, I can explain away.  You get to a point in your life where you realize that all the hopes and ambitions you once had have more or less been relegated to holding onto your job, praying you can sock away enough to get your kids through school and being able to retire before you die.  Everything else you ever wanted or hoped for is increasingly becoming a dream that you have trouble envisioning anymore.  </p>
<p>You realize your best days (physically at least) certainly are behind you.  Suddenly someone looks at you and you fall over with delight.  The idea that someone from the opposite sex can still find you attractive is powerful.</p>
<p>What do you do now?  And I'm really speaking about both genders. I hear stories every day about men and women who are leaving their spouses for another person.  It always starts out that it wasn't another person.  "This just isn't what I want anymore," "We've grown apart," these are common phrases that get thrown around when someone has decided this marriage isn't working anymore.</p>
<p>Generally you hear that they tried counseling, but the problem is, counseling only works if you are really willing to give it a chance.  Mostly the spouse leaving agrees to therapy and quits after one or two visits, or says they are going to keep going to therapy on their own, but that they don't want to work on the marriage anymore.</p>
<p>I wonder how much thought these people give to what they are doing to their kids?  As much as we all would like a little more time away from our kids some days, and believe me, there are days Colleen and I have actually joked about how nice it would be to get two days away like some of our divorced friends get, but as nice as that might sound - do you really want to become a part-time parent?</p>
<p>I don't think you make that the absolute glue that holds your marriage together as loosely as possible, but you do need to take it into account.</p>
<p>If you want out, are you sure you can never be happy here again?  Are you sure that you don't love that person anymore?  From interviews we have done on this show I know that the success rate of second marriages is way worse that than the success rate of initial marriages.  That someone new and exciting that you are giving up your whole life for, statistically speaking, that person is not your soul mate.</p>
<p>We need to try harder as a society.  Is this what is really going to be best for everyone?  For you, your spouse, and your kids?  That is not an easy answer to reach, and I do believe you owe it to the person you have committed your life to, and the children you have brought into this world, to really try to get past the bad times.  And I don't mean just tough it out.  Find a way to talk about your unhappiness.  Get the counseling that can help.  Really actually make an effort to find happiness with your spouse.</p>
<p>And if after all of that it turns out you're really leaving for another person, have the guts, and the decency to face up to it.  Your spouse is going to figure it out after all, right?</p>
<p>Please share your stories on how you and your spouse have gotten through - or didn't get through - the bad times.</p>
Mon, 20 Sep 2010 13:18:00 -0500
They Really Do Say The Darnedest... <p><img class="left" src="" width="150" height="125" alt="" title="" />I was very confused the other day when I heard my little daughter, my sweet little daughter (HA!) Anna talking to her brothers in the basement.  I hear her trying to tell them something and after a moment of pause she says, "Are you talking to me?  I don't see anyone else here, you must be talking to me."  It was an odd moment for me.  She is five years old and quoting one of the last movies you would want a five year old to see.  I was stunned and amused.  I knew there was no way she had seen any scenes from <em>Taxi Driver</em>, but it was still rather odd.  I actually convinced myself that it must have been completely random, that these words just happened to pop into her head without any outside influence.  Like the way you used to hear that if you put a million monkeys in a room with typewriters for a hundred years (or something like that) one of them would end up typing Shakespeare (or something like that).</p>
<p>Of course, one of her brothers told me later that that was actually from the "Squeakual," the incredibly annoying yet endearing Chipmunks movie that was out last year.  Later in the day she kept singing "Hickory Dickory Dock."  Of course myself being of a certain age, and a former delinquent, could only hear the rest of the song play out in the voice of Andrew Dice Clay - another thing I would never want my five year old to hear.</p>
<p>What are the crazy adult things - intentional or not - that your kids have said that have shocked or amused you?</p>
Fri, 17 Sep 2010 13:18:00 -0500
On A Very Special 90210... <p><img class="left" src="" width="250" height="200" alt="" title="" /> You really know fall is here when the trashy TV shows you love to watch come back for another season.  So as Colleen and I said goodbye to TrueBlood (awesome) and Entourage (man that show stinks now) we were happy to be reunited with a show that has been with us ever since we started dating - 90210.   Of course it was called Beverly Hills, 90210 when we started dating and it actually is in some ways what brought us together.  A friend of mine at college was also friends with my wife and her roommates and they would all get together to watch BH90210.  So I started watching with them and 18 years later... (9-02-10 day earlier this fall was actually the 18th anniversary of our first date).</p>
<p>While the reincarnation of the show now aims to be way younger and hipper, and it's funny to think the first version was considered edgy at the time, it's not any better.  A way to mindlessly kill about 42 minutes (if you TiVo your way through the commercials as we do).</p>
<p>So you don't need to waste your time if you don't want to - here's the 60 second re-cap:</p>
<p>Annie & Dixon's parents did split up. We found out dad lives 45 minutes away.  Dixon apparently did sneek off to Australia but came back early when his parents broke up.  No word on if he got in any trouble for fleeing to Australia for the summer with his girlfriend after his dad lost his principal job over covering up that Dixon had helped kids break into the school.</p>
<p>Naomi was indeed attacked by the British sounding teacher that she had falsely accused of harassing her before.  She pretended she spent the summer in the French Riviera but was actually holed up in a Hollywood motel.  She claims her trust fund money will kick back in next week.  Guest spot by Kim Kardashian and one of her sisters who are selling Naomi some of their clothes.  When they won't lend her the clothing until she gets her money she calls Kim a B%&* and then a "ho." That part was funny.  Naomi falls apart when she sees that teacher has stayed on at West Bev even though he was only supposed to be there last year.  She was then part of a PSA spot about rape.  I applaud 90201 for making the effort as the original did to bring real help to these issues - but it's sort of like "Jersey Shore" running PSAs about the great contributions Italian-Americans have made.  If you are watching pure drivel - it's hard to put any credence in what they want you to learn afterwards.</p>
<p>Apparently Annie ignored Liam all summer so she was surprised to learn on the first day of school that he got kicked out of his house and Jaspar burned his boat.  No sign of Jaspar who was last seen getting pummeled by Liam in last year's finale.</p>
<p>Oh - good news for Annie - she confessed and his now on probation until she is 25.  But she can't drive.  No word on what really happened with that accident.  Colleen and I don't believe she really killed him.  We think he was lying in the road, maybe dead already.  Why did they have Teddy see what happened?  Why no closure on this?</p>
<p>If you read up on the show at all, you know that tennis progidy Teddy is supposed to "come out" this year. However, last night it looked like Silver would be the one revealing something to everyone with a super-short hairstyle.  Oh - Teddy wrecked his knee, tennis career probably over.  He went on a bender, but sobered up enough to stop Naomi from the strip-tease she was performing for three guys.  She apparently is going to become super-sexual to overcome how she feels after the teacher incident.  Silver then walks in on her coming on to Teddy who is rebuffing her advances.</p>
<p>Earlier Naomi went to the police but they told her that since she didn't get a rape kit at the time, and since she had falsely accused him before, she would have a tough fight if she pressed charges.</p>
<p>In the most annoying plot-line (of many) Dixon's girlfriend Ivy brought a hunky Johnny Depp look-alike family friend back from Australia.  He is living with Ivy and her mom and sleeping with Ivy's mom while he tries to bed Ivy.</p>
<p>Adrianna finished up her whirlwind summer tour with Javier - she continues to rebuff his advances because she is with Navid (fresh off a quick cameo on TrueBlood - good for you Navid).  Javier promptly tells her that he is kicking her off the tour and that the label has a new girl they are planning to push, that her career is effectively over.  Seconds later they are in a car crash and Javier is killed (good for you Navid!)  Adrianna takes his book of songs he has written and plans to push them as her own.</p>
<p>Oh - and there was an earthquake and the first day of school got cancelled. And Mr. Matthews is somehow still employed at the school despite the season finale where he got drunk, stole a school bus, and then crashed his own car into the West Bev school sign, starting a fire.  Must be one hell of a union.</p>
<p>Did I miss anything?  No sign of any old 90201 cast members.  Jennie Garth told us on the show here a few weeks ago that she won't be back.  You can listen to that interview <a href="">here</a>.</p>
Tue, 14 Sep 2010 07:31:00 -0500
Summer Lovin' <p><img class="left" src="" width="250" height="200" alt="" title="" />Jackets are going back on, leaves are falling from trees, your favorite baseball team might finally have realized they won't be playing in the playoffs (ours figured that out back in May!)  The kids are back in school and it's dark by the time they are getting to bed.  As much as I love throwing on jeans and a long-sleeve shirt and actually feeling comfortable, you can't help but feel a little sad too when this time of year rolls around.  Believe me, we are thrilled to have the kids back in school, but we know what's coming next.  Here in the Chicago area we can feel the chill that is leading to the deep freeze of Dec-February and of course that is generally followed by a less than stellar March and a praying for a 70 degree day April.  The funny thing is I really do love this time of year, but as I get older I tend to live a little less in the moment weather-wise and a little more in the, 'I can't believe it's already going to be winter' mindset.  Isn't it funny how when we were kids we neveer cared about the weather and now it's such a discussion in our lives?</p>
<p>As I enter the last 15 months of my 30's I am realizing more everyday about how old I really feel.  Good friends - who of course are already in their 40s - say that is the best decade.  I can't imagine you ever get into a decade of your life and call it the worst - but they claim that is the decade where you know who you are and finally have some money to enjoy it.  I don't know if we'll actually have any money in the next 10 years, and God help us, if we do every penny better go into the college savings we are so desperately delinquent in saving, but I do look forward to watching these kids of ours in the next 10 years.  By the time Colleen and I are hitting our 50s, Jack will be (hopefully) in the middle of college and our triplets will be about to get their driver's licenses.  HA!  We better enjoy our 40s because we will be gripped with paranoia and debt when we hit our 50s.</p>
<p>How do you feel about the change of seasons?</p>
Sat, 11 Sep 2010 18:28:00 -0500
Not Ready for Mom Jeans <p><img class="left" src="" width="196" height="169" alt="" title=""/> The very cool Maureen Lipinski dropped by the show recently to chat with us about her latest, Not Ready for Mom Jeans.  Maureen went from hip city girl to married suburban girl in not time flat - in fact, way faster than she expected to.  Her second novel covers that ground, but we chatted about all of the things us parents go through as we make that big leap from young and free to feeling old and tied down.  Her charm and quick wit make for easy conversation and a great read.  You can see the <a href="">video</a> on the main page, as well as check out the full conversation in audio form in the <a href="">audio archives</a>.  The question is - have you fallen into the "mom jeans" trap yet?</p>
<p>Check out the hilarious SNL video that brought us the term - <a href="">Mom Jeans</a>.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: 'Lucida Grande', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;"><span style="font-size: 11px; white-space: pre;"><br/></span></span></p>
Sat, 11 Sep 2010 17:57:00 -0500
Not Ashamed To Admit... <p><img class="left" src="" width="150" height="100" alt="" title="" />Look at me differently if you want to, I don't care.  I balled my eyes out for about the last ten minutes of Toy Story 3.</p>
<p>The two previous movies were both out before Colleen and I even had kids, but I would still say our kids have grown up with Woody & Buzz.  Their adventures have always been heartfelt and magical (like all the Pixar films have been).  Colleen and I have always looked at the story of toys who are afraid of their kids outgrowing them as another way to look at us as parents.  Let's face it, for all the drama we go through day in and day out with our kids, all of us are afraid of the day that our kids won't need us anymore, just like their toys.</p>
<p>So what will our kids do with their beloved childhood toys as they grow up?  What will they do with us?  Will we all be placed up in an attic, looked upon fondly from time to time, or will their be a place for us in their lives forever?  Of course, we have quite an advantage over the toys, who only get to talk to them in our child's imagination.  Every day we get many opportunities to truly engage with our kids and help foster a relationship that will be able to stand the test of time and all the hills and valleys in life.</p>
<p>I don't know if TS3 is the best movie in the franchise, but it definitely is at least as good as the other two.  This story is about Andy heading off to college, and his collection of toys wondering where they will end up.  While it is not as heavy on laughs as the second movie was, it still has it's moments of humor.  Mostly though it is adventure, and it takes us on a ride into the great uncertainty of what the future holds.</p>
<p>As for the crying.  Jack turned nine on the day we saw the movie, so maybe everything lined up just right for me to have a gusher.  I wish I could just say I shed a tear, but I didn't.  I was sobbing like, well, sorry ladies, a woman.  It took everything I had not to make noises as the tears rolled down my cheek.  I think Colleen shot me a look like, "seriously?"   But she was crying too, as were other parents in the audience, including men.</p>
<p>Did you see Toy Story 3 yet?  Please share your thoughts.</p>
Tue, 22 Jun 2010 08:54:00 -0500
A life of Crime? <p><img class="left" src="" width="200" height="150" alt="" title="" />Life lessons are around us everyday.  Of course, the ones that make the most impression on us are the ones that either turn out really great, or leave us with that sickly feeling in our stomach.</p>
<p>I don't know how to look on this one.  For the first time we had to deal with one of our children taking something that wasn't theirs.  I think we all know our children pretty well, and usually know what they are capable of, or at least are able to read them in their reactions and then know what we're dealing with.</p>
<p>Sometimes it's really difficult to understand a child's intent.  Recently Colleen went shopping with Michael and when they exited the store she noticed he had his hands behind his back.  In my parenting life so far, it has never been good when any of our children have their hands behind their back.  Either they are hiding something or they just did something and they are trying to hid themselves in some way.</p>
<p>With Michael it was him hiding a bag of peanut m&ms he had apparently just swiped.  At the age of four, how much do they understand about what they just did?  Was he trying to get mom to buy the goodies and just didn't have the heart to tell her, or am I looking at a boy who will know the orange jumpsuit well one day?</p>
<p>Since Michael is generally the sweetest of our bunch I actually feel this was a misunderstanding more than anything (unless he is so deviantly brilliant that he is sweet so we will be suckers when he does stuff like this).  With a couple of our other ones I would have been more worried. Still I did give him the, the police would take you to jail speech to try and give him some gravity to the situation, but I think it mostly went over his head.  Of course, since his uncle is a Chicago Cop, if he pulls it again I could have him come handcuff him and take him away.  But that's the reason why we have wives.  They tell us how dumb some of our ideas are and don't let them happen. :)</p>
<p>Has your son or daughter gotten sticky fingers?  What did you do about it?</p>
Tue, 15 Jun 2010 07:55:00 -0500
The Last Days of School <p>Closing out the school year is such a mix of fear and excitement in our house.  While the triplets are too young to do anything but enjoy school, Jack who is finishing out third grade is definitely at an age where he is ready to be done well before the last day of school finally arrives.</p>
<p>That feeling manifests itself in the work he does in school.  He is bad about rushing through things and not taking proper care to double check his work as it is, but that last month or so of school, things really go downhill.  Of course we don't have the foresight to see it coming and do our best to properly guide him through those last few months.  Instead, we freak out.</p>
<p>Constant check to Teacher Ease (the website where they post the grades) makes us worry and debate how to get Jack to do better.  Can you imagine our parents checking our graded daily when we were in third grade?  Grandparents must get a good laugh at how much we overanalyze every breath our kids take in the classroom these days.</p>
<p>But in fairness to all of us carrying the parenting torch in 2010, our kids are doing a heck of a lot more than we did at that age. Jack gave four oral presentations this year.  He had to do four last year while he was in second grade too!  I don't remember getting up to speak in front of a class before I was in at least sixth or seventh grade.</p>
<p>The amount of work the kids do, and the amount of free time or play time during the school day that has been taken away from them is bad enough, does our son really need us pouring over every grade and double-checking his homework every night?</p>
<p>Yes, he does.</p>
<p>I know he doesn't like it and I do worry that he is being allowed to sink or swim on his own enough, but I do feel that drilling into him the importance of doing the work right, of double-checking, taking your time, writing complete sentences, all of that means something.  And when he is in sixth grade, and I will have no clue of his homework is right or wrong, well, hopefully at that point he will swim all on his own.</p>
<p>Your thoughts?  Do we work these kids too hard today?</p>
<p>Check out what Anna and her brothers learned on their last day of school!</p>
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Wed, 26 May 2010 12:14:00 -0500
Plan a Fun and Inexpensive Trip This Summer <p><img class="left" src="" width="125" height="100" alt="" title="" /> Hoping to save a few bucks this summer and still find ways to have a great time with the kids?  Checkout the <a href="">audio of our interview</a> with David Mandt of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.  We talked about some pretty smart ideas:</p>
<p>-Go online and check out the park before you go.  You can plan your day around the rides you want to make sure that you get to, and maybe make sure to get to the most popular ones first.</p>
<p>-Figure out which rides your kids won't be able to ride because of height requirements.  Dissappointing them at home will save you a half hour of them being upset at the park.</p>
<p><img class="center" src="" width="600" height="391" alt="" title="" /></p>
<p>-Visit on a weekday if possible.  David said the crowds are usually 50% less on weekdays.</p>
<p>-Check out what kind of express line options the park has.  Many times at no extra cost you can use an express line so you don't waste much of your day waiting in line.</p>
<p>-Plan to stay until the end.  Many times locals who visit the park often will check out by dinnertime.  This will leave you much more time to hang out and enjoy the rides.</p>
<p>There is a lot more information in the audio of the interview, and you can also visit their website <a href=""></a> to find tons of information about parks all around the world.</p>
Thu, 06 May 2010 10:35:00 -0500
Why Dad Can't Be Trusted <p><img class="left" src="" width="100" height="125" alt="" title="" />Well that's a pretty picture isn't it?  And this is why sometimes you just can't trust dad with the kids.  Now, it's not like I sent them down into the basement with sharp sticks and told them to play while I watched TV and drank beer.  Although, maybe it's worse that I was actually playing alongside them when this happened.  Maybe my only saving grace is that I wasn't the one wielding the stick that found it's way to Anna's forehead.</p>
<p>We have pretty spirited games of hockey in our basement.  Myself and Tommy taking on Jack and Michael is our general rule.  I can't tell you how many times I've had to warn the kids not to raise their sticks to high when they shoot, not to check each other into the treadmill, not to cry everytime someone takes the puck away from them, etc.  All of that being the case, we still have a great time and usually end the games in a shootout, after which I have to console the loser and tell the winner not to gloat. But, that's what it's all about right?  We're having fun, getting exercise and teaching the kids to be competitive, play fair, be a good winner and a good loser. I think all of it is good for them.</p>
<p>Scars however, are quite frowned upon by mothers.  Of course, I am not looking for my daughter to have a scar on her face either, unless someone can tell me that it will make teenage boys a little more leery of how they should approach her in another 10 years.  Scars in general are never fun and I got my share as a kid.  The worst part for us parents of course is when we have an injury that means it's time to take the kids off to an emergency center.</p>
<p><img class="left" src="" width="450" height="600" alt="" title="" /></p>
<p>That was the case when Michael followed through on a shot and his stick found Anna's forehead as she sat on a toybox (in an area I mistakenly thought would be safe for her to be).</p>
<p>Jack is almost nine now and I can still vividly remember when he fell, face first, into the open corner of an entertainment center door, when he was about 3 years old. The gash was just above his eye and required a couple of stitches.  The way he screamed as we had to hold him in place will never leave me.  Of course he survived and Colleen and I survived and our tally board at the house for "days without a stitches requiring accident" had to be pushing about 2,000 when Anna started bleeding.</p>
<p>Despite my 2000 day claim, it hasn't all been easy and free.  Two years ago Michael grabbed a hot curling iron on the counter and had some lovely blisters all over his hand for a few days.  Last year Tommy tripped new a lawn mower that had just recently been shut off and burned his arm pretty good on the motor.  So, yeah, we're not perfect by any means.</p>
<p>In neither of those instances had the blood flown though, like it did for Anna.  Colleen was out and about a half hour from home, so crisis mode kicked in.  A wonderful neighbor grabbed the boys and Anna and I headed to get patched up.  Trying to talk a four year old girl into holding ice to her head during a car ride doesn't really work I found out.  She screamed all the way there that she didn't want to go, and headed into the lobby with a blood curdling wail.</p>
<p>But then they always surprise you, don't they?  I was fearing how badly this would go, especially once they started stitching her up.  After a few minutes of loud screaming in the lobby and refusing to let me put ice on it, I was resigned to facing an excrutiating couple of hours.  Instead the flip of the waiting room channel to PBS brought a shout of, "I know this show!"  Suddenly she sat quietly for 15 minutes watching "Dinosaur Train" while I applied pressure.</p>
<p>She was even better for the nurse and doctor, who luckily was able to glue her head back together, which makes us hopeful for a micro-scar.</p>
<p>So life is getting back to normal, except for two days later when we were playing again, with Anna fully on the other side of the room, when Jack's stick struck Tommy in the face.  Luckily no skin was broke but there was a nice bruise.  It turns out that stitches aren't the only dangers of dad's playing with kids.  There's also the danger of wives who don't appreciate their kids looking all beat up when they are the one's bringing them to school, gymnastics, dance, t-ball, etc.  For Mother's Day I'm thinking of getting Colleen a shirt that reads, "My husband is the dumb one who keeps letting the kids get hurt.  Please don't look at me that way."</p>
<p>Now it's your turn to share stories of injuries that you and your kids have survived.</p>
Tue, 04 May 2010 09:55:00 -0500
You Majored in What? <p><img class="left" src="" width="125" height="100" alt="" title="" />We've done a couple of interviews on the show in the last couple of weeks about all of the kids who are about to leave college with diplomas in their hands, ready to make their way in the world.  Kate Brooks', <em><a href="">You Majored in What?</a></em>, and Ken Jedding's, <em><a href="">Higher Education</a></em>, both try to help kids find their way once they leave the comfy confines of college.  </p>
<p>The interesting thing is how little that piece of paper really means once you get out into the work world.  Yes, it is important that you learned and grew as a person in those four years, but what does the actual degree mean in your line of work?  Now, if you are a rocket scientist and majored in Rocket Scientry, then yeah, it matters.  But, I majored in English Literature.  There was certainly no defined path for me as I headed out the door into the great unknown.</p>
<p>I wanted to be an actor (though I took no acting classes in college), so I moved with a buddy to L.A. for a couple of years.  Turns out that to be an actor, you actually need to be willing to sacrifice a lot of your life to not working as an actor, oh, and you should also be talented.  Patience and talent not being in my corner, I soon fell into radio which, it turns out, has become my life.  It wasn't the passion I pursued out of school, it was something I found, and luckily fell in love with the work.</p>
<p>I think that for most of us, our work lives are not about what we envisioned they would be when we were in school.  Maybe you've just had to change career paths in the last year or two because of the economy. From those two interviews that I did recently, some of the most interesting advice came from Jedding.  He said, "You are being measured as much by who you are, as by what you did."  So maybe your psychology degree doesn't seem to have anything to do with the accounting job you are now pursuing. It's who you are that is going to make them interested in having you be part of the company as much as what you have done in the past.</p>
<p>I'd love to see your comments on what you majored in and where you are now in your career.</p>
Wed, 28 Apr 2010 11:33:00 -0500
Take The Kids To Work? <p><img class="left" src="" width="150" height="125" alt="" title="" />The <a href=",0,5449714.story">Chicago Tribune</a> has an article today about local school districts that do not want parents pulling their kids out of school on Take Our Daughters and Sons to work day (April 22).  In the article the districts argue that when so many kids miss a day, the educator must basically re-teach that day.  And in a time when educators are expected to accomplish a set amount with their kids in the year, with rigid testing that is federally mandated, it's just too tough on the schools. The schools are saying the date should be changed to summer, when the kids can easily attend work with their parents.</p>
<p>According to the Tribune, the events organizers, <a href="">The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation</a>, say the point is to have the kids return to school the next day talking about what they did, and learning from each other's experiences.  The Foundation says they will consider moving the date to another time in the school year when kids aren't busy with so many standardized tests.</p>
<p>What do you think?  Is it beneficial for our kids to see what we do while they are at school?  Because of the nature of what I do I can bring the kids down to work all the time.  They see what I do a little bit, but mostly they run around destroying things until I settle them down to watch a movie.</p>
<p>However, I think it is great to have your kids come down to work and see what mom or dad does.  Do they need to do it every year?  I can't imagine they do.  I also think they probably need to be at least in second grade to be able to hang out for that kind of time and not be bored out of their skulls.</p>
<p>My real problem I guess is with the idea of them heading back to school the next day to share everything they learned with their classmates so they can all benefit from hearing about what all the parents did.  Our 3rd grader generally can't (or won't) tell us very much at all about what he did while he was at school, so I have very little faith that he would head back to the classroom telling wonderful tales about what he did all day at work with Dad.  Lunch would probably be what he would talk about.</p>
<p>I think the time the teachers would need to take on this second day, when all the kids return to class, is where this really goes off the tracks.  Teachers these days do not have time to set aside an hour or more of the day to chat about the kids experiences at their parents work.  I honestly think it would be better to just have the parents come in and talk about what they do in front of the whole class.  Remember City Slickers, when Billy Crystal has to explain that he is a radio advertising salesman, to an uninterested group of kids ("I sell air").  The kids were coming down off the high of Bobby Costanzo, portraying a construction worker with a penchant for spicing up his conversation with less-than-school-friendly adjectives.</p>
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Wed, 21 Apr 2010 11:11:00 -0500
Please Stop Voting for Kate! <p><img class="left" src="" width="124" height="100" alt="" title="" />Okay everyone, what in the world are you doing?  Kate Gosselin, who has ridden a tidal wave of reality fame from the once-upon-a-time cute to watch, "John & Kate Plus 8," to the ridiculous headline-grabbing lives the titular parents have been leading since their very public divorce, keeps getting voted back into <em>Dancing With the Stars</em>.</p>
<p>Yes, Colleen and I watch that show.  Don't try to deviate from the topic here.  The show debuted the summer that Colleen was on bed rest and in and out of the hospital all summer while she was pregnant with our triplets.  This is the first round that has had me back since, and the kicker is all of our kids enjoy watching it now too.</p>
<p>My main problem is not that Kate is an awful dancer.  I know I would be awful too.  There are other people on the show who are brutal dancers.  I'll forgive you for voting for a bad dancer.</p>
<p>The issue here is what is making you vote for Kate?  She constantly whines about how tough her life is, how public her battles are, about all the things she is carrying around, etc.</p>
<p>I am so tired of hearing about and reading about these two.  All they do is try to say that everything they do is for their kids, while they draw more attention to their ugly divorce by granting incessant interviews to tabloid magazines, and then complaining that cameras follow them everywhere.</p>
<p>Kate, it's improper to sell your soul and then be mad at the devil when he comes to take it.  The show, which is gone, was probably the most normal thing those poor kids had in their lives.</p>
<p>Now there is an endless parade of magazine covers, parents who travel incessantly, and a lot of public griping.</p>
<p>The truth is, they really should get back together.  They are both awful.  Every time you start to feel sorry for one, that person does something so stupid, you start feeling sympathy for the other again.</p>
<p>During the years we watched the show I was always stunned at the way Kate was portrayed as a rather annoying nag, and the way John just went along with it.  So when the divorce came down, he had an opportunity to look pretty good. She went on and on visiting the Today Show every other day crying about how she had been wronged, etc., blaming everything on John.  So I'm thinking, Poor John, thank goodness he got away from her.  Then he is running around with any bimbo who will get in a car with him, bringing them back to the couples house, etc.  Hmm, maybe Kate was right. Then, constant magazine covers, whining on <em>DWTS</em>, now maybe I'm back with John.  Then that idiot sues for sole custody because she is away dancing too much.</p>
<p>Enough already!!  Anyone voting for Kate might as well be bringing an alcoholic into a bar.  She lives for this cheap stardom she gets from being a victim.  Why are we watching her?  Why are you voting for her?</p>
Thu, 15 Apr 2010 12:36:00 -0500
Kick What?! <p><img class="left" src="" width="100" height="110" alt="" title="" />Is going to the movies something that is a lot of fun for your family, or something that turns into a big chore?  For us it is getting easier as the triplets get older.  The first movie we ever took Jack to was <em>Finding Nemo</em>, and we had a wonderful time - during the trailers.  By the time the actual movie started Jack was busy scraping the black ju ju bees off the floor and we ended up leaving.  Now that we have four, we have found that a mound of popcorn can keep them in their seats for a pretty long time.</p>
<p>Jack (our eight yr. old) really wanted to see the <em>Wimpy Kid</em> movie, and we have really enjoyed those books.  We thought the language in that might be a bit salty for our four year-olds.  It's not that we thought they would be cursing, but our kids are definitely in the mode of repeating words like "butt" and then laughing for hours.  So we thought we didn't need to teach them anything new.  We had heard really good things about the <em>How To Train Your Dragon</em> movie, so we decided that we would throw caution to the wind and split up.  Colleen took the triplets and I got to go with Jack.</p>
<p>We set the triplets and Colleen up first.  We bring in their own water bottles because it seems to be the only way we can get through a movie without them making a total mess.  Then we buy one big bag of popcorn and ask for some small plastic cups and just refill for them constantly.  Kids turn into goldfish when they are around popcorn, they will just keep eating until their stomach explodes.</p>
<p>The theatre was completely empty.  I love an empty theatre.  I find it relaxing.  Colleen usually finds it a little creepy, but when you've just brought three four year-olds into a theatre I think it's hard not to be happy to find no one else there.</p>
<p>Jack and I went off to our show and everyone had a good time.  <em>Wimpy</em> I would give three out of four stars.  They didn't seem to follow any particular book in the series, though there were definitely parts from the books.  Jack had a good time.  <em>Dragon</em>, I only saw the last couple of minutes, but Colleen thought it was a bit intense for four year-olds, and there was not much comedy to lighten the movie up.</p>
<p>The point of telling you about this trip is what was in the lobby.  We were at one of those 30 screen places that is huge, and they have a large lobby where they have lots of big cutouts to promote upcoming movies.  One movie coming up apparently is called Kick-A@#.  Now 10 years ago I'm sure I would have thought this was cool, but I have a third grader who reads this and it seems very acceptable.  Now I'm seeing it on taxi cabs and buses as if it were no big deal.  At what point do words not matter to us at all anymore and we accept throwing them at people anytime, anywhere?</p>
<p>Really, the Viagra and Cialis ads my kids see every time we watch a ball game are annoying enough.  I guess I should be happy to know that my eight year old knows to call a doctor if he has something happen to him for longer than four hours, but I wish we could find a way to hold off on some of this stuff!</p>
Tue, 13 Apr 2010 08:04:00 -0500
Happy When They're Sick? <p><img class="left" src="" width="200" height="150" alt="" title="" />Okay, this one won't win me any father of the year awards.  Tommy (one of our 4 1/2 yr. old triplets) was sick this week.  Now, Tommy is the best and worst of children from minute-to-minute.  He loves being a helper.  He helps fold clothes, washes himself in the shower (better than his 8 yr. old brother), likes to clean up, etc.  He is a worker.  I firmly believe Tommy will have his own business one day.  He likes learning new things.  At the same time, Tommy gets very angry when he is wronged.  He never complains to mom & dad about what one of the other kids did to him.  Instead he pinches, pushes, or screams and yells.  So he is quite a package.</p>
<p>Early this week while Colleen and I were taking our nightly hour to unwind in front of the television - this usually finally happens around 10 pm - I heard someone in the bathroom upstairs.  We arrived on the scene to find Tommy, with a wad of toilet paper in his hand, cleaning up bits of vomit that were on the floor.  He had put most of it in the toilet, but some had made its way to the floor, and here was Tommy, feeling terrible, still with more to go, cleaning up the bits that had fallen on the floor.  You feel so terrible for them when they are throwing up.  You know how awful you feel when you are having those moments yourself, and then to have your little one, so helpless, probably scared of what's happening to them, huddled over the porcelain in such a sorry state.   </p>
<p>So we helped Tommy, had him come lay on the couch while we watched some TV and he finally got a good night sleep.</p>
<p>The next day Tommy wasn't feeling that great and he laid around most of the day.  He took a nap in the afternoon, he didn't fight with anyone.  It was kind of peaceful.  Now, unfortunately, this was also during spring break, so while I was away at work, Colleen had three other kids around the house who were feeling fine and wanted to be running around, etc. Because Tommy was stuck inside there wasn't too much Colleen could do for them.  So it wasn't as peaceful as we had hoped.  That's when I said, it would really be nice around here if they were all sick.</p>
<p>Of course I don't want all of our kids to be sick.  But is it so wrong to enjoy the peace that comes from them not having the energy to constantly be terrorizing each other and their parents?  And let's face it, usually when one gets sick, the others follow.  There's nothing worse than that coming in stages.  If they could all get sick at once, maybe, for the first time in four years and eight months, we could all get caught up on our sleep.</p>
Tue, 30 Mar 2010 11:14:00 -0500