Driving a Mile in My Father’s Tire Tracks

It doesn’t get any snazzier than a 1965 cherry red Mustang convertible – the ultimate bachelor-mobile – a muscle car that was really a 1964 ½ model vehicle, which my Dad got about three years after his divorce.

This was how Dad stopped moping around. He bought this car, which he expected would make him the sexiest bachelor in New York City, and he took a vacation in the Caribbean to work on his tan and his tennis game, although it was the former that he seemed to concentrate on the most.

The Ford Motor Company had his number. He bought a brand new 1966 Mustang and followed that up with a new one each year through 1973 or so, by which time the Mustang had dropped its lightweight image and had powered up to a long, slender vehicle with plenty of juice, but little of the sex appeal that had made the early “Stangs” such a hit.
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Finding Your Inner Parenting Perfection + Get Your Newborn to Sleep through the Night

Roma Khetarpal, author of The Perfect Parent.
Topic:
How to use your inner perfection to connect with your kids.
Issues: Why we all need a parenting makeover; how perfectly happy, relaxed individuals become stressed out parents; how we empower our children when we understand ourselves; what defines good communication between parent and child; the importance of treating children as individuals, listening to them, and understanding what they’re saying.

Lewis Jassey, co-author of The Newborn Sleep Book.
Topic:
A revolutionary method for training your newborn to sleep through the night.
Issues: The importance of sleep for both baby and family; the myths and truths about baby sleep; why babies wake up crying (hint: it’s not always because they’re hungry); the Jassey method of sleep training.

New Articles for Military Families on About.com

As some of you may know, I’m About.com’s expert on military families. Here are the latest articles:

Paying for Your Child’s College Education–A Guide for Military Parents

The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act

Overcoming the Challenges to Military Spouse Employment

Installation Education Centers–Everything You Need to Know to Land a Job

Military Relocation–Know Your Relocation Resources

 

 

Games for Tweens, Teens, and The Whole Family

In an era where just about everyone over the age of two has a room full of electronic devices, it can be hard for families to find ways to spend quality time together (meaning everyone is actually looking at everyone else). It’s especially tough if the kids are careening toward adolescence. This week we review four really fun games for families with kids eight and up. No batteries, chargers, or Internet connection required.

betcha can't winBetcha Can’t Win (Simply Fun)
It seems simple enough: Each player has six dice and rolls them as many times as necessary to match the number (using any math function) on cards that are face up on the table. Match as many as you can and rack up the points. But beware: if another player matches your points, you could end up with zero. Great for learning math and risk/reward. 15-30 minutes play time. For 2-4 players, ages 8+. $28.00 at http://www.simplyfun.com/

pack itPack It (Simply Fun)
Everyone ready? We’re all going on a hike, so you’d better start loading up your backpack. Players are dealt several Item cards (compass, tent, frying pan, map, and so on, each of which includes a value in miles) that they use to start stocking their backpacks. The goal is to put together a pack with the greatest number of miles. Then, they take turns drawing cards to add the items they’re missing and increase mileage. But watch out for the Hazard cards (Bear, Skunk, Blister). For example, if you draw the Blister and have socks in your pack, you’re okay. But if you don’t have socks, you have to discard your highest value card. Draw the Skunk and you’ll have to discard two cards. 20-30 minutes play time. For 2-5 players, ages 8+. $24.50 at http://www.simplyfun.com/

strike a poseStrike a Pose (R&R Games)
Think Charades but without any of the movement or acting. In each round, one player is the Collector, a guy or gal who’s buying statues for a fabulous estate. The Collector leaves the room and the rest of the players draw one card (used by the whole group) which has a category and a number of statue options. For example, in the “At the Beach” category, statues include “Sun bathing”, “Building a sand castle,” and “Playing volleyball.” Each player pics one option and freezes in a pose they think will best mimic the person, place, or thing. The Collector returns, looks at the Category card and tries to guess which player is which statue. No movement or sounds—statues are made of stone, right? The opportunities for silliness are endless. 30-45 minutes play time. For 3-14 (yes, 14) players, ages 10+. $17.95 at online retailers or http://rnrgames.com/

unnatural selectionUnNatural Selection (R&R Games)
Use your “super cool Mod Ray X5000” weapon to mash together your own crazy creatures. Start with a single animal (defined rather broadly, to include pet rocks), then play cards to add features. The goal is to create a beast that would defeat your opponents’ beasts in a battle. The combination of the features and animals can be incredibly funny. You might start with a goldfish and then add “sprinkled with tempura flakes” or “has a headache.” After all the players have done their finest mashing, it’s up to the judge (a role that rotates among the players) to decide which creature would emerge victorious in a smackdown. The player who wins the most challenges become the “Ultimate Warrior.” It’s fun, and fast-paced. 15-30 minutes play time. For 3-10 players, ages 8+. $11 at online retailers or at http://www.rnrgames.com/

 

Reclaim TV Time by Making It Safe for the Whole Family

What ever happened to just hanging out and listening to music or reading? We live in a world where popular music has to be marked with an explicit tag, and you have to show ID for the latest beats as if it were beer or cigarettes. The subtle lyrics of romance have been replaced with crass declarations. Your kid’s radio needs parental control settings.

They took away comic books by making them even darker and more sinister than they used to be. The heroes are more troubled and morally ambiguous in the name of character complexity. We call them “graphic novels” so that baby boomer adults can feel justified in buying them. And they are, as advertised, more graphic—and more disturbing.

Now, they’re coming for your TV. Actually, they’ve already got it. You may have purchased that big-screen TV for wholesome, family entertainment, but show by show, network by network, you’re losing the ability to turn on your television without it undermining the values you’re trying to instill in your kids. Violence and sexual situations make even prime-time, “family” TV shows earn their MA rating (for mature audiences only). Aside from TV Land and the Cartoon Network, our options as parents are getting narrower by the day.

The time has come to reclaim your family TV for your family. Here are a few suggestions:
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