More Summertime Toys and Reviews

 

usta youth tennis inintiativeYouth Tennis Initiatives (United States Tennis Association)

Tennis can be a frustrating game for children. Adult racquets are tough to handle, standard tennis balls move too quickly, and all that frustration often has kids quitting before they have a chance to see how fun the sport can be. In an effort to overcome all this, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has launched a variety of Youth Tennis Initiatives around the country, and even redesigning tennis courts to be more kid-friendly. But the best part of these initiatives is the all-new gear, scaled to children’s age, sizes, and ability. Racquets, for example, now come in four sizes, ranging from 19” (about the size of a racquetball racket) up to 25” (adult racquets typically run 27” to 29”.) Even the tennis balls come in different sizes and bounceability, color coded for easy identification. The USTA’s goal is to get more kids interested—and involved—in tennis and they’ve just served up an ace, not only engaging kids, but making it possible for adults and children to play together. Ages 6 and up. https://www.youthtennis.com/

bunch o balloonsBunch O Balloons (Zuru)

Water balloon fights are almost synonymous with summer. But one of the most annoying things about them is that it takes nearly forever to fill and tie them up. Bunch O Balloons makes that a thing of the past, letting you fill and tie 30 balloons at once, in seconds. If you move quickly, you might be able to fill 100 in under a minute. If that doesn’t blow your opponents out of the water, nothing will. Just connect Bunch O Balloons to your water source (a standard hose connection is ideal), then stand back and watch the balloons expand and tie themselves. Yep, tie themselves. It’s a brilliant idea. Ages 7 and up. $12.99. http://bunchoballoons.com/

Veterans Sexual Health + Providing for Families of Veterans + Surviving Your Teen

devid gremillion Dr. David Gremillion, retired Air Force Colonel, professor at University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and a member of the Board of Directors of Men’s Health Network
Topic:
Veteran’s sexual health.
Issues: Continuing our discussion about the sexual health of our veterans, the obstacles they face, and how they can get the help they need.


folded flag foundationFred Schremp retired Army veteran and president of the Folded Flag Foundation.
Topic:
helping the families of servicemembers killed defending our country
Issues:Providing for the college education and other expenses of spouse and children of those who gave their lives.

Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain.
Topic:
A Neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults.
Issues: How the teenage brain is under construction; the vulnerabilities and strengths of the teenage brain; the importance of sleep and the circadian rhythms; the damage done to the teen brain by risk taking, smoking, alcohol, and drugs,

Minivan Not Included: Family-Friendly Vehicles for Cool Dads

cars for oool dads

cars for oool dads

When you became a father, you knew there would be some less-than-glamorous moments, like changing diapers on squirming babies, cleaning up Lord-knows-what from the carpet, and rocking sick kids to sleep at 2 a.m.

What you didn’t agree to was driving a minivan.

Granted, minivans have plenty of good things going for them: they’re comfy and can carry kids, pets, soccer stuff and whatever else you need to schlepp from point A to point B. But minivans are also ubiquitous and pretty generic in their looks. So while you might appreciate their usefulness, they’re not usually a dad’s first choice.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other family-friendly vehicles on the market that are ideal for cool dads like you. Consider the following options:

Nissan Rogue

This great-looking vehicle can carry everything a minivan can. The Nissan Rogue boasts almost 40 cubic feet of cargo space with all of the seats still in place. This means you can drive your kids and their mountain of gear all over town and still have room to pick up some takeout pizzas for dinner. As a major bonus, the Rogue has an estimated MSRP of around $23,000 and has comfortable seats and a large center console bin. Dad-friendly amenities include Bluetooth, cruise control, a trip computer, and a nice sound system.

[Read more…]

#MilitaryFamilyFriday: Coming Out in the Military

Not all that long ago, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” meant that gay and lesbian servicemembers couldn’t serve openly. But ever since it was repealed, that’s no longer an issue. It’s been a long time coming, and there’s still a way to go. Still, despite advancements and a more open-minded stance within the military, coming out can still be nerve wracking. Read the rest of this article on my about.com minisite.

I’m always looking for great organizations, programs, and other resources to help the men and women who serve our country. If you’ve got a suggestion or referral, please drop an email to armin [at] mrdad [dot] com.

Summertime Toys: You’re Outa Here!

Looking for some great to get the whole family outside and work up a sweat? If so, you’ll haves a blast with these new, summertime toys.

sonic boom batSonic Boom bat and ball (Backyard Sports)

There’s something magical about the crack of a baseball meeting a bat. It’s a sound that every fan wants to hear and that every player, regardless of age, wants to make. The Sonic Boom bat has a large, hollow barrel (called the “sonic boom chamber”) that makes it easy for young players to connect with the ball (one is included). The chamber also produces that major-league home run sound with every hit. Baseball bats are among the lowest-tech playthings available, but Backyard Sports has managed to incorporate a bit of technology. The bat has a small display that generates QR codes that players can scan to unlock parts of a free online game and power up in-game characters. The more you hit, the more codes you get. Ages 5 and up. $27.99. https://www.backyardsports.com

trickster discTrickster Flying Disc (Malibu Sports)

The Trickster bills itself as a new twist on flying discs, and they’re right. With more traditional discs (AKA Frisbees), the focus was on the spectacular catches. But with Trickster, the disc itself provides the entertainment. You can still make long, accurate throws, but the “Stunt Tech” design, with its sleek holes, enables some pretty amazing in-air tricks, including a 360-degree corkscrew spin. Made of slightly soft foam-like material, it’s easy to catch, which is a big advantage when playing with young ychildren. Ages 6 and up. http://malibu-sports.com/  (but be aware: the website is under construction).