Parenting with a Story + Not What I Expected

Paul Smith, author of Parenting with a Story.
Topic:
Life lessons in character for parents and children to share.
Issues: Tell a young person what to do–play fair, be yourself, stick to the task at hand–and most will tune you out. But show them how choices and consequences play out in the real world, with real people, and the impact will be far more profound.


Rita Eichenstein, author of Not What I Expected.
Topic:
Help and hope for parents of atypical children.
Issues: Defining “atypical;” how the diagnosis of an atypical child affects the child and the parents; the emotional stages parents go through as they struggle to help their child; how to get help when you need it.

No More Bedtime Battles

Getting the kids to go to bed—and actually stay there—can be of the most challenging parts of any parent’s day. The best solution is to have (and keep) a good bedtime routine. But what’s a harried mom or dad to do when the routine doesn’t work? Sometimes, having the right helper is just what the Sandman ordered. Check out some of these fun and innovative new products for bedtime and beyond.

melody mates blanketMelody Mates (Melody Mates)
Most kids (and most grownups too) want a soft, snuggly blanket to cuddle up with. And what could be better than one with a gently glowing, soothing animal face on it? Melody Mates actually goes one step further, pairing the blanket with a matching (and washable, yeah!) pillow. Push a button and calming lullabies play and the LED lights glow—just enough to be friendly and put an end to those bedtime battles, but not nearly bright enough to interrupt sleep (that would be evil, wouldn’t it?). Soft, plush Melody Mates come in six flavors, including cow, duck, frog, and monkey. For ages 12 months and up. About $30. Unfortunately, batteries aren’t included. www.MyMelodyMates.com

broboBrobo (Brobo)
If you haven’t met Brobo and his friends, we’re glad to introduce you. These fun, adorable, cuddly buddies first hit the market in 2012 but were pretty hard to find until now. There’s Brobo himself, Pep, Mumu, Trex, and Dog. All of them have a futuristic, robot feel and a glowing center that looks like Iron Man’s Arc Reactor. They’re great company for your little one, and they’ll definitely help scare away the darkness when it’s time for lights-out. The glowing center has a very bright “flashlight” mode and a much-less-bright nightlight mode. Just swipe a hand (or tail) over the lights to activate. Both shut off automatically after five minutes. $35 at www.brobo.com

 

ok to wake clockOK to Wake! Clock (Patch Products)
If you’ve got a child who gets up at 5am when you were looking forward to sleeping in, the OK To Wake! clock will be your new BFF. The clock will let you child know—even if he or she can’t tell time—when it’s okay to get out of bed and demand breakfast or cartoon time. Just set the desired time and the faceplate will light up. And for those weekday mornings when the kids would like to sleep ‘til noon instead of going to school, the OK to Wake! just switch to alarm clock mode. You can also use it as a night light. Batteries required. $33 at http://www.patchproducts.com

dino petDino Pet (BioPop)
Although Dino Pets are shaped like dinosaurs, they don’t really have very much to do with those prehistoric reptiles. The Pet’s name comes from dinoflagellates, which are the bioluminescent phytopankton that live inside its clear, plastic body. (Yes, we know that dinoflagellates sounds like a dinosaur that has gas or is being whipped.) Like most other pets, Dino Pets are alive and are fun to play with. Unlike other pets, you don’t have to take them for walks or clean up after them. You will have to feed them with the provided Dino Food, though, but only once every few months. During the day, the algae soaks up energy from the sun or low-wattage lightbulb. But at night, they put on an amazing light show—all you have to do is touch the dino’s body or gently shake it. Part night light and part science project, Dino Pets are absolutely fascinating. $59.95. Additional dino food is $14.95, and if your colony suddenly goes extinct, you can order refills for $49.95. http://biopop.com/products/dino-pet

How to Deal With a Teen Who Plays a LOT of Video Games

teen plays too many video games

teen plays too many video games

Earlier this year, an online video went viral, showing an angry dad driving his lawnmower over a very upset young man’s video game collection. According to the on-camera, four-letter-filled yelling match (warning), the son was spending too much time playing video games and the dad was fed up. Before you pull out the lawnmower and shred a thousand dollars’ worth of Junior’s video games, read the tips below—they’ll help create a little more family harmony on the matter.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them…Then Beat Them

You may not see it right away, but the simple fact is that video games are fun. More than half of all Americans play video games on a semi-regular basis, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and if you’re telling your kids they are wasting their life on nothing, the hard fact is that you are wrong.

Video gaming is a cultural experience in the same category as watching TV as a family or seeing a baseball game with your dad. If your child is spend too much time away from the family to be able to play videos, move the video game console into the family room, load up a family-friendly game like “Just Dance 2015″ or “NBA2K14,” and play as a family. Or let the kids play games online from the kitchen desktop computer while you make dinner. This way they’re out in the common area with family rather than holed up in their bedrooms.

[Read more…]

Gen-X Grandparents? You’re Not Alone.

Dear Mr. Dad: My 24-year old son and his wife are expecting their first baby in a few weeks. I’m really happy for him and I’m looking forward to meeting my new granddaughter. The problem is that I’m not even 50 yet and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m going to be a grandfather. I take good care of myself, look pretty good for my age, and just don’t feel like a grandparent. What can I do?

A: This is definitely not your grandparents’ grandparenthood, with its images of grey hair, round-the-world cruises, and senior citizen discounts. Unfortunately, no matter how young you feel, how much you work out, how great you look, or how much of your hair you have left, there’s still one thing that will make you—and everyone around you—painfully aware that you’re getting older: that adorable tot running up to meet you at the front door screaming, “Hi, Grandpa!”

Becoming a grandparent at a young age can be a real shock to the ego—something a lot of us would prefer to keep safely in the future. But, if it makes you feel any better, you’re far from alone. According to AARP (which used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons—and which you can’t join until you’re 50 anyway), the average age of first-time grandparents is about 47, which almost no one considers “old.” A recent study of GenXers (those born between 1964 and 1980) by MetLife found that only 27 percent would consider themselves “old” before age 60. 35 percent said “old” is 60-69, and 25 percent said they wouldn’t be “old” ‘til after age 70.

No matter how much you prepare yourself, once that first grandchild shows up, your life will change in some pretty serious ways. Here are some steps you can take to make the transition a little less jarring:
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From Me to WWE

cena vs rusev

So my dad, my sister, my daughter, my nephew, and I all lost our virginity at the same time. Really. Okay, it wasn’t THAT kind of virginity. The one I’m talking about is our WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) virginity. This past weekend, the aforementioned group of family members descended on Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for Wrestlemania 31, WWE’s flagship event. It was, as it should be with other types of lost virginities, a huge amount of fun.

flintstones wweThe day started with a media viewing of “The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown” in the screening room where the post-game interviews happen at Levi’s Stadium. It had been a couple of decades since I’d last communed with the Flintstones and the Rubbles and it was great to see how little they’d aged. After that, lunch. Then, out to our seat for the big events.

 

As I kid, I’d watched WWF—the predecessor of WWE—and as an adult, I’d seen some actual WWE on TV so I thought I knew what we’d be in for, but I wasn’t even close. Sure, there were the wrestling matches—that much I expected. But there was so much more—and something for pretty much everyone.

andre the giant wweFor older fans, there was the introduction of the 2015 inductees to the WWE Hall of Fame, which included Kevin Nash, The Bushwhackers, Randy Savage, Alundra Blayze, Larry, Zbyszko, Tatsumi Fujinai, Rikishi, and Arnold Schwartzenegger. And of course there was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which was won by Big Show (billed as “The World’s Largest Athlete) who tossed about 20 competitors out of the ring.
[Read more…]