[amazon asin=B007PM0BNW&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kristin van Ogtrop, author of Let Me Lie Down.
Topic: Necessary terms for the half-insane working mom.
Issues: Terms and concepts that illustrate the highs, and the lows of balancing work and family.
[amazon asin=1936984113&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Joe Mason, author of Bankrupt at Birth.
Topic: Why child ID theft is on the rise and how it’s happening right under our noses.
Issues: Who, exactly, is perpetrating child id theft and why they do it; the most common forms of ID theft and how you can tell if your child is a victim; how to proect your child’s social security number; the role of social media in ID theft.
[amazon asin=B007PM0BNW&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kristin van Ogtrop, author of Let Me Lie Down.
Seal of Approval winners, Holidays 2012
PREGNANCY AND INFANCY
Connect Internet Baby Camera Set (Summer Infant)
Summer Infant has a new set of monitors, all optimized for local and remote viewing. The Connect monitor is easy to set up and use immediately to view your baby from the other room or from across town. There is no ongoing fee for the service and free apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, as well as a website, makes it all possible. We even tried the customer service help line and found knowledgable people anxious to help a dad in need. This is a great product for dads who want to move beyond old-fashioned sound or video monitors and take advantage of the Internet to view the baby from the next room or the next continent. This product is not only perfect for fathers, but for everyone in the household. peaceofmind.summerinfant.com/connect/
TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS
My First Career Gear (Aeromax Toys)
What’s not to like for dads in a collection of job uniforms sized for kids called “I WANNA BE LIKE DAD.” Aeromax, long a maker of quality “costumes” for creative play for kids (and older kids), has made this My 1st Career Gear series fitting most most kids from ages 3 – 5 years, for both boys and girls. My 1st Career Gear shirts are made of high quality print in great detail with most of the tools you will need to complete most jobs. Ideally, if you’re doing it right, it’s great that kids pass through a phase when they want to be exactly like mom or dad. This collection allows kids to dress up just like dad. www.aeromaxtoys.com
As parents, we all know that young children sometimes have a really tough time articulating their feelings. Sure, they can jump up and down when they’re excited, and cry when they’re sad, but what about all those times in between? Enter Kimochis, a completely unique line of toys that help very young kids tell us what they’re thinking. Each Kimochi (which means feelings in Japanese) is a soft and cuddly roundish mini pillow that has a facial expression on one side and the name of the emotion on the other. Those little pillow guys live inside one of five larger characters. Dads can use the Kimochis to help their little one recognize, better manager, communicate, and express their emotions. Ages 2 and up. www.kimochis.com
Bubble Ride (CD by Vanessa Trien)
We’re big believers in the importance of music—and its power to create memorable experiences that families can share. Bubble Ride, Vanessa Trien’s third CD, fits the bill nicely. It’s a sweet collection of imagination-activating, movement-inspiring, conversation-sparking songs that cover a wide range of topics from silly to thoughtful. Dads and their kids will have no problem listening to quietly or jumping around and dancing along. Ages 3 and up. www.vanessatrien.com
Like many games, the basic challenge is pretty simple: Get from one side of the board to the other—in this case by building a road, piece by piece. The problem is that the other players are trying to build their own roads, and they’re trying to shut yours down in the process. Bypass! Doesn’t involve as much strategy as, say, Chess, but it does require a bit of spatial analysis, critical thinking, and flexibility to adapt to a constantly changing board. And besides being lot so fun and a great way to hang with the kids, particularly on those cold, rainy winter days, it’s also a great way for dads to admire their children’s ever developing brains in action. Ages 8 and up. www.simplyfun.com
Don’t Rock the Boat (Patch Products)
With all the high-tech toys that are out there, it’s surprising that anyone makes non-electronic toys anymore. Fortunately, Patch Products does. Don’t Rock the Boat is a really fun, easy-to-set-up and easy-to-clean-up. Think Suspend (a March, 2012 Seal of Approval winner), but with penguins. The boat in question is balanced precariously on a wave and each penguin sends the boat reeling in a different direction. See who can get the most penguins on the ship without knocking the whole thing over. And if you feel you absolutely must turn everything into a learning experience, there are some valuable lessons here in balance and load-distribution. Ages 6 and up. www.patchproducts.com
Lite Brix Building System – Extreme City Lights (Cra-Z-Art)
When you first start taking the Lite Brix out of the box, they look kind of boring. Almost all the bricks (which, in shape, look a lot like Lego) are the same color—kind of a translucent white. But once you and your child have built the first skyscraper and turned on the battery-powered LEDs, wow! And when you finally get all three up and running, wowie wow! The buildings seem almost alive. The detailed directions make it pretty easy for dad and child to assemble cooperatively—better yet, let your child read the instructions and show how well you can follow orders, Dad. The three buildings that are part of this kit can be rebuilt into a single structure and they can be combined with other Lite Brix kits. But don’t feel limited by the instructions. Lite Brix also combine with Lego, so you can build even bigger and even more amazing structures. Ages 6 and up. www.cra-z-art.com
If your kids have LEGOs, you also have LEGOs everywhere. Little pieces on the floor and sprinkled over random pieces of furniture. Lay-n-Go helps tame this problem by fencing in an area to keep the pieces while building. Drawstrings bring the play area together to make cleanup and carry a lot easier. This helps keep each project together with its pieces. Dads will want to get an extra one for other projects that involve small pieces. www.layngo.com
Bully Goats Gruff/Little Red Hen(CD by Yvette Lewis)
No, that’s not a typo—Bully Goats Gruff is correct, and, as you might guess, it includes an anti-bullying message. The other piece on this CD, the Little Red Hen, also has a message, this one about sharing and cooperation. But in our view, the real value here is in the music. Professional opera singer Yvette Lewis (who wrote and sung the music) and Grammy award nominee Jimmy Hammer (who did the arranging) bring some serious musical firepower to the table and do a great job of introducing kids to the concept of opera as a singing story. The music is catchy enough that dads and kids will be able to sing along. Plus, each piece is followed by an instrumental version which gives everyone a chance to make up their own story and lyrics. www.operakids.com
Children’s Spirit Animal Stories, Volume II (CD by Steven D. Farmer)
There’s no substitute for reading to your child—it builds vocabulary, focus, concentration, opens up doors to the imagination, and is a wonderful opportunity to spend time cuddling with your children (no matter how old they are). Sometimes, though, it’s nice for dad and kids to listen to someone else read a story. And it’s especially nice if that story sparks interesting discussions. That’s exactly what Steven D. Farmer does in Volume II of Children’s Spirit Animal Stories. Witten and read by Farmer, the stories feature various animals (an elephant, a dolphin, a unicorn, and others) who are dealing with the same kinds of problems as we humans do. Farmer’s voice and reading style are engaging and he keeps the messages from being too heavy handed. We found that the real value is in the conversations that the stories spark. Dads can jump start things with questions like, “What would you do if you were Emma?” But most kids will already see themselves in the animals and will have plenty to say on their own. Ages 5 and up. www.satiama.com
Mungi Bands (Techno Soursce)
Taking the Silly Bandz concept (that is soooo last year) up a couple of notches, these clever, magnetic silicon bands let kids mix and match to create necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets, hair ties, and more. And, although Mungi Bands were created by the father of three girls, boys will like them too–especially the sports-themed ones. And dads who are willing to wear Mungi Bands will earn the respect and admiration of their kids (well, maybe not), and will have a great opportunity to keep up to date on their kids’ interest in popular culture. Ages 6 and up. www.mungibands.com
TWEENS AND TEENS
Skylanders Giants (Toys for Bob/Activision)
The sequel the monster 2011 hit, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. If you haven’t met the Skylanders, there learning curve to get you up to speed is a little steep—but well worth it (though be warned: it will take you ten times longer than it takes your kids to master the game play). As with Sypro, the Skylanders characters exist both in the real world (beautifully crafted figurines) as well as in the video game world—place your figurines on the Portal of Power and they appear in the game. Having the figurines increases the opportunities for imaginative play. Whether you play with your child, against your child, or you wait until he’s gone to bed and you play by yourself, this game is a real blast. And with more than a dozen increasingly challenging levels, you’ll be busy for quite a while. We reviewed the Wii version, but the same figures (a total of around 50 ight now) can be used on Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U. 10 and up. www.skylanders.com/giants
JT Splatmaster Z200 Shotgunn (JT Splatmaster)
JT SplatMaster is designed to be an outdoor shooting experience. But I must confess that my 9-year old daughter and I have used it inside too (our living room is really long and my daughter is a crack shot). The Z200 shoots small paint-filled pellets that do exactly what the name of the product promises: Splat! But don’t mistake Splat! for a lack of accuracy. Not at all. In fact the SplatMaster is so accurate that you can actually have shooting competitions. Another nice thing—especially if you’re shooting inside—is that cleanup is really easy. If you get to it quickly, the paint wipes right up. And the manufacturer says it won’t hurt the environment. A warning: Although the shotgun is a great fund, we strongly suggest that dads spend some time going over safety rules with their kids. Because there’s a lot of force behind those pellets, it’s extremely easy to get hurt. Goggles are essential and, if you’re planning to shoot at another person, everyone needs to be wearing appropriate protective gear. You can get all of that through the splatmaster website. Ages 9 and up. www.jtsplatmaster.com
[amazon asin=098254412X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Aaron Snyder, author of The New Diabetes Prescription.
Topic: Taking control of your diabetes—instead of having it control you.
Issues: Is it possible to cure or reverse diabetes? How you can stabilize you blood sugar, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, lose weight, regain energy, control your emotional eating, and get off as much medication as possible.
[amazon asin=1589976843&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Tracey Lanter Eyster, author of Be the Mom.
Topic: Overcome attitude traps and enjoy your kids.
Issues: Seven “mom traps” that moms often fall into (martyr moms, busy moms, mirror moms, and more); how to avoid and escape those traps in your own life.
- Guests 3: Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F. Chandler III, and Jeanne Chandler
- Guest 4: Michelle Joyner, National Military Family Associationwww.militaryfamily.org/
[amazon asin=1433811936&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Mary Lamia, author of Emotions!
Topic: Making sense of your feelings.
Issues: Anxiety can improve creativity and productivity; guilt helps you maintain your relationships; showing pride in your accomplishments can help you socially; venting anger doesn’t help; overvaluing happiness can actually lead you to be less happy.
[amazon asin=0738211850&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking.Topic: Practical strategies to build a lifetime of resilience, flexibility, and happiness.
Issues: Understanding what negative thinking is and how it affects our children; challenging your child’s mind; helping your child find and apply his or her strengths.
[amazon asin=0345501799&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Frances Cole Jones, author of How to Wow.
Topic: Proven strategies for presenting your ideas, persuading your audience, and perfecting your image.
Issues: Making a lasting impression with a simple introduction; using the 12 most persuasive words in the English language to command any situation; reading non-verbal responses accurately; motivate others; deliver speeches that bring people to their feet.
I’ve always wondered about whether class size is important in college. Places like UC Berkeley and UCLA have huge classes (hundreds of students) that are often taught by grad students–and they’re always ranked near the top 10 of just about every Top 10 list of the best colleges and universities. But those small liberal arts colleges–like the one my oldest daughter is going to in upstate New York–are doing a bang up business. In this guest post, Paul Stephen makes a pretty good case for smaller class sizes. But I have to admit, I’m not 100 percent convinced that they’re the best option for everyone.
So you’re deciding which University to go to. When factoring in class size, I’d stick to the smaller class size and I’ll explain why. From my own experience, I prefer smaller classes so that you can have a more personalized education and have more leadership opportunities. I attended Brown University, where class size was generally very small and I was able to get to know not only my professors but my classmates as well.
Getting to Know Your Professor
Oftentimes this key aspect of education slips by the wayside. Larger universities have graduate students who teach a majority of the classes. At smaller universities like Brown, the undergraduate experience is what is most important. You will most likely be taught be a Professor, not a teaching assistant. Why is this important you might ask? Well, getting to know your professor might help you make better decisions in your education.
I switched majors during my time at Brown and my professors were there to advise and help me make the right choices.
My professors were able to get to know me just as much as I was able to get to know them. This way, they were more focused on helping me learn. They were able to address my learning needs more rapidly and effectively. Therefore, there is much more attention for each student. This makes all the difference in learning. I have had a few large classes while at Brown and believe me it was much more difficult to get the help and attention I needed. On the other hand, I was able to excel in the smaller classroom.
Furthermore, in small classes, professors are more focused on actual teaching. They have less other concerns like research or being disciplinarians. They will put more effort into their classes and the curricula. This means better courses and possibly new classes.
Making a Difference
Instead of being treated like a number, smaller class size allows you to use your voice and be counted as an individual. You can make a difference by speaking up in class or taking on a leadership role. Small class size allows for greater interaction with your peers. You can share ideas and ask questions you would not have the chance of asking in a larger class size. This way, you can get more attention and focus on the things you don’t understand. Remember, your contribution counts!
A Personal Experience
In a smaller class at the University, education is more about you! How great does that sound? Well, larger universities might have more to pick and choose from, but the crux of the matter is that with smaller classes, you get to choose and design a major that interests you. At Brown, I was able to study Comparative Literature (Russian/English). This was particularly interesting for me because I love literature, writing and am of Russian descent. It worked for me. Here I am several years later, still writing and researching and doing what I love.
Do It Yourself
Instead of learning about how to do something, you will actually do it yourself in a small class. This is of tremendous importance to all you science majors. Hands on opportunities should not be taken for granted. It’s a great way to learn and master something like how to use a telescope for example. My writing at Brown improved dramatically as I was learning hands on and being critiqued every step of the way. By continuously writing, I was able to improve. This was a big step for me. Although I enjoyed writing before coming to this University, I was able to get feedback from experts in their field.
Paul Stephen writes from Nipissing University. Our psychology degree programs benefit students with an extensive list of psychology courses to choose from, many involving laboratory or practicum components. Nipissing’s small class sizes work to our student’s advantage.
Dear Mr. Dad. I’m the single father of a six-year-old girl. How do I balance being a parent and a friend? I don’t want to lose her by being strict all the time, but I also don’t want her to grow up as a spoiled brat.
A: Somehow people got the idea that parenthood and friendship are mutually exclusive—that it’s one or the other—and that we should always be the parent and never be the friend. That’s absurd. In fact, it’s not only possible to be both, it’s actually a really good idea.