For my wife: Year after year, we can make it through anything.

wedding bouquet

Marriage is our rock My dear wife, Do you remember our first year? Newlyweds in a city we hated, in jobs we despised, with no money for diapers or milk? We both were rebuilding after divorces, almost nothing to our names. We whispered and tiptoed so we didn’t wake the child who barely slept, such a mess with his unknown-to-us Asperger’s. Every day was an ordeal and a test. It was my first leg of the step-parenting voyage, my first taste of fatherhood. We talked of snapshots, pictures of our life together that we wanted to treasure. That was the year I knew we could make it through hard times and still love each other, and what a good team we made together. It was the year we became a family. But there was also that second summer together. The summer of “Goodwill Hunting”. Sleeping late, sometimes staying in bed all day…. read more

Moxie & whoopie pies. Summer, I dub thee FestivalFest!

Whoopie Pie New England treat chocolate flavored with powdered sugar

New England, and Maine in particular, is big on the summer festival. Summer is short here, and Mainers like to take the opportunity to celebrate! Moxie, whoopie pies, and blueberry anything can be had along with lobster and clams in huge quantities. Some things can seldom be gotten outside of New England (see the aforementioned Moxie and whoopie pies), and some are just Maine tradition. I know people who send Humpty Dumpty potato chips to friends and relatives because they just can’t be found anywhere else. Festivals are a great way to spend time together, get out and enjoy the outdoors, and most of them can be done on the cheap. They are a great choice for family activities. I look at it as good parenting to shake things up a bit and spend some family time away from the usual routine of home. My somewhat offbeat and geeky family… read more

New Hampshire bound, zero agenda

Family vacation plan checklist on a clipboard

New Hampshire wasn’t the first choice location for our family vacation this year, but we do love it and it has lots to see and do. I’ve written a lot about Disney, and while Walt Disney World is pretty much constantly on our minds, we just can’t swing it this year. Even though New Hampshire is adjacent to our state of Maine, it’s far enough away to escape real life and the tourist season for a while and have some fun. We’ve been to North Conway, NH several times and taken the kids to Storyland. We went to Kahuna Laguna and rode out Hurricane Irene while zipping down the indoor water slides there. This year we hope to take B to Santa’s Village, Clark’s Trading Post, maybe even head north to Franconia Notch. So while we are enjoying some family fun in New Hampshire, set against the backdrop of the… read more

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

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

It’s 2014, Why Don’t PR People Know? – Guest Post by Jennifer Kyrnin

checklist mom app screen capture to-do lists and more

I am a mom of a Kindergartner, and he’s a great kid. And one thing I learned in this first year of formal schooling is that there is a lot to keep track of. I have to remember if Monday is PE day or music day, what days I volunteer at the school, whether he has his library book in his backpack or not, and all the little details that come from being a parent of a school-aged kid. So when I learned of a new app that might be able to help with all that I was intrigued. I mean, who wouldn’t want things like: Calendar to schedule all family events Email your lists to share your to dos to family members and others Organize your to-dos, manage and sync to your calendar so that you have peace of mind Access your to-do list anytime and anywhere from your… read more

Music Monday ramblings and updates

The Everything Parents Guide To Special Education: a complete step-by-step guide to advocating for your child with special needs, by Amanda Morin, published 2014 by Adams Media

Before I touch on any music-related stuff, I am proud to announce the release of my wife’s second book – The Everything Parent’s Guide To Special Education: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Advocating for Your Child with Special Needs. It will be available in bookstores starting May 18th, 2014, but the Kindle version is available NOW from Amazon. If you have a child with special needs and are struggling to navigate the special education system, or know someone who is having trouble, please consider buying this book. It’s written to be extremely parent-friendly while explaining all the special education law and terminology that is so confusing to so many people. I hate the term “game changer”, but I really believe that Amanda’s book will be just that. So anyway, we have two very musical children. Both also happen to have special needs. In the past few months, we have bought… read more