Vacationland, summer in Maine, and parents all speak the same language

Maine Vacationland license plate with chickadee and pine done

Vacationland – that’s what some call our great state of Maine. Every summer, families come from all parts of the world to experience all that Maine has to offer. Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, Kennebunkport, L.L. Bean, Stephen King’s house, to name just a tiny fraction of Maine attractions. Everyone wants to eat Maine lobster and clam chowder, whoopie pies, and stand in line for a half hour for crab cakes and lobster rolls at Red’s Eats. Folks want to try the lobster ice cream at Ben & Bill’s. Native Mainers are a little bored of lobster. We get tourists from New York to California wanting to hear the locals speak, hoping we’ll all sound like salty fishermen and potato farmers. They keep expecting us to answer, “Ayuh” for the affirmative, and tell them, “You can’t they-ah from hee-ah” when asked for directions. Visitors are shocked to find out that… read more

5 dad-themed things to do with sidewalk chalk

J driving in his chalk city in 2005

My kids have always loved sidewalk chalk. It’s cheap, easily obtainable, and temporary. Soap and water removes chalk from children’s hands — and yours. The artwork on your sidewalk or driveway washes away with a light rain, or if you don’t want it there after playtime, a quick spray down with the garden hose does the trick. Besides hopscotch, four square and murals, there are endless fun activities you can do with outdoor chalk. Here are five of them with a dad-friendly feel to them. Let’s face it — guys are into stuff like cars and gaming and anything involving electronics, like geocaching. I skipped sports-related activities though. I know nothing about sports. What you will need: sidewalk chalk and/or colored classroom chalk dry paved (or concrete) driveway, sidewalk, or unused parking lot sunshine (for some activities) 1. Shadow tracing In the morning or afternoon, when the sun is at… read more

Cops and Crooks | A Four-year-old’s View of the World

cops and robbers police officer and crook LEGO minifigures

A few weeks ago, we got B a power wheels car. It looks like a police cruiser, a Dodge Charger, with lights and sirens and a talking police radio. It’s something we had always wanted to get for J, but we were just too damned poor back then. We’ve come a long way, and it feels good to be able to afford one. Together with a drivers license that my wife made for him (complete with photo), a police uniform that his Mimi bought, and his four-year-old grasp of the concept of “good guys” and “bad guys”, we spend a lot of time outside chasing each other around the yard. B is very smart. Like, freaky smart. We just had his IQ tested as part of an evaluation for school. I won’t give his actual score, but my wife and I worry about what the hell they are going to… read more

The LEGO Movie release, and Not Until It Happens To Their Kids

Overwhelmed and shut down child at Toys 'R' Us LEGO Movie Master Builder Event

Let me just say that most of the people in our family have been waiting for this day for a long time — the DVD release of The LEGO Movie. I saw it with the boys when it came out, and we’ve been impatiently anticipating the day it would hit the stores so we could see it again. It was funny and cute, and LEGO is a big thing in our household. This past weekend, my wife and I took B to Toys ‘R’ Us to a LEGO Movie Master Builder workshop, where kids got to choose pieces from a number of bins, sit at one of several long tables, and build their own Master Builder creation. There were some examples on printed handouts, and the store employees built a few of their own to display, but largely it was up to the kids what they wanted to create. Or… read more

Father’s Day dilemma – What do we have here, again?

Father's Day heart shaped card I have carried in my wallet for almost eight years

Blended families “What do we have here, again?” I asked my wife one day. “A blended family? We’ve all been together so long, it doesn’t seem right.” There are no step-sibs in the picture, but I guess that’s what we are — a blended family. Each of our three kids sees my role as parent in different ways. I think about it each Father’s Day, and it always brings up the same questions in my mind. My stepdaughter, our oldest, was just a little girl when my wife and I married. M and I share a loving, family relationship, but my role in her life is more clearly “stepfather.” She was old enough when my wife divorced her ex to remember the time with mom and dad, before I was even in the picture. Her dad is still a part of her life, and while I take good care of… read more

Hitting things with other things, and why my kids can’t have summers like mine

Fridge chart our four year old uses to help plan his day.

I read a great blog post yesterday, Top 10 Ways To Give Your Kid a 1970’s Summer on It immediately got me all nostalgic for my summers in the 1970’s and 1980’s. My siblings, my friends and I, we did 9 out of the 10 ways mentioned in the article. We did not really have a good movie theater where I grew up, so that one was out. Summers were filled with fun, freedom and dirt. They simply oozed sugar, sweat and late bedtimes. We stayed outside from morning until after dark, playing dodgeball and frisbee tag while simultaneously chasing fireflies. Our games were always made up, and often not all that safe by todays standards. As I recalled stories of those summers to our middle child, J, I came to the realization that a lot of the really fun stuff I did when I was a kid involved… read more