Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pop Up Video

I would rate the pop up feature in last night's rerun of the Season 3 finale as a success. It was funny and sarcastic. It appealed to both new and old viewers of the show. It got one fired up of the Season 4 premier tonight. So when Jack tells the Chief to "call his father down here" in his flash forward, do we assume his Dad is not dead? Maybe Jack saw him on the island in Season 1 after all? It would not surprise me if that were true and his Dad wrapped up in the whole battle for control of the island.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Return of LOST

Who's happier than me that this week marks the return of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Sayid. Oh, and did I mention Kate? It was a long layoff but again, I love that they adopted the 24 format, even with the writers strike. Speaking of 24, the Fox site says it will return in 2008. When? TBD. But there's not a strike or jail cell that can prevent Jack Bauer from saving the world. Was anyone surprised that Keifer was "released" early? "Released". We all know that is a cover up term for his breakout. It's on par with Area 51 and the faked moon landing. As if anyone is going to believe he behaved himself and was released early.
But back to LOST. ABC was a bit misleading with their "2 Hour" season premier. The first hour is one of those recap shows. But what I do like is that they are replaying the two hour season 3 finale Pop Up Video style. Apparently there will be hint and text sprinkled in to help us along and spark thousands of more LOST theory. Sorry, Lefty, but Locke will be back for a while anyway. Maybe we will find out who died in Jack's flash forward bit. Or maybe we will see Michael and Walt again. Whatever it is, the anticipation is building. Make sure you tune in.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Movie Review - National Treasure

Demi and I finally got around to watching Disney's National Treasure. By happenstance, Caz was fortunate to watch it with us. I wasn't sure it was appropriate at first but we read the rating (PG - For Action Violence) and took a chance. It paid off. It didn't have any objectionable language. Not mature sex themes. It was quiet an enjoyable family movie. A sort of Da Vinci Code lite. Kids like action and Caz liked the clues. A good mystery keeps the mind sharp. All in all, 4 Chinnies out of 5.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Last Kiss

I can honestly say that the last thing I expected to talk to my (soon to be 9 year old) son about tonight was French kissing. I will skip any tirades or jokes about surrendering for now. As we were entering into our nighttime, bedtime routine, the boys went to give their mother a kiss before going upstairs. While I finished clearing the table, I poked my head into the living room, only to hear Caz telling his little brother that, "you don't French kiss your mom." True enough. But now I know I have to find out what he actually knows about French kissing. Oy vay. So after the brushing of the teeth and the donning of the pajamas, it was time for a sit down (as Tony Soprano would say). I looked Caz in the eye and asked him what he knew about French kissing. If he could have crawled into a hole in the ground he would have. Admittedly, I may have joined in using my own hole in the ground. It wasn't like I was itching to have this conversation. Caz immediately put his head under the covers. He said through muffled covers, "I don't want to tell you." I asked him where he had heard the term. Actually, I first asked him who he heard it from. But then I told him he didn't have to name names. I just wanted to know if he heard it on the playground, or bus, or from an older student, etc. He said he heard it in second grade (last year) but being a K-2 system, I highly doubt it. I decided to relent a bit. I changed course and focused on the book we intended to read for the evening, "Sharks." I said, "Forget about French kissing, I am just going to look at this picture of sharks French kissing." I thought it would be funny and lighten the mood. For a response, I got, "Sharks can't do that, they don't have tongues." And so the ice was broken. "So you need tongues to French kiss?" - "Yeah." - "Because that is what happens, two people touch tongues?" - "Yeah" - "OK, you're right. That is what happens. Two people that like each other will do that. I know this is tough to to talk to your Dad about. Your Yaya would have had a conniption if I tried to talk about this with him while I was growing up. He would have. And I want you to be able to talk to me about everything and I want you to have your facts right. Other kids, your friends....they don't always have the right facts." - "Sometimes they are right" - "And they were in this case, but not always. It is important you have the right information. If you don't want to ask me directly, write it down. I will either tell you the right answer or tell you where to get it." - "Like the dictionary?" - "Could be, but the most important thing is to have the right answer" Anyone want to dispute that I earned a drink tonight?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cooking Is Contagious

Coco decided to follow Caz's lead and start cooking. He took it upon himself to cook for the family tonight. While he couldn't actually cook, (Demi handled that), because of the hot oil, he did all the yeoman's work. He chopped the cabbage, carrots, and onions for the coleslaw. He battered and coated the fish. He separated out the corn tortillas. And in the end we had a great dinner of fish tacos. Really excellent. Of course he set the table too, complete with candles. He was really inspired by his brother. He was so proud of his work.
Now the kids have helped cook and bake before. But not like this. This was start to finish, all about them and their work. It was a really good precedent. This summer, maybe I will let them help tackle the grill. I am sure the male grill gene will naturally take right over.

Friday, January 18, 2008

ALERT - Cough Medicine

The FDA has ruled that over the counter cough medicines should not be given to infants under two and strongly recommend that you don't give them to children under 6.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cooking With Gas

I came home from work tonight to one of the most pleasant surprises that I have had in a while. The aroma was mouthwatering. Caz was completing setting a full table setting complete with candlesticks and formal tapers. He lit the candles and then proceed to don a set of oven mitts. He pulled out of the very hot oven, two homemade macaroni and cheese casseroles. One was meatless. The other had buffalo chicken bits. Caz and Demi proceeded to tell me how Caz had decided to cook dinner. Demi supervised of course. But Caz did all the prep work and cooking. He boiled the water and cooked the macaroni. He sauteed up the buffalo marinated chicken in a large frying pan. He put everything in the corningware baking dishes. He added the four different cheeses, mozzarella, parmigiana, Havarti, and Gorgonzola. And he preheated the oven, and when ready place the casseroles in to bake. I was very proud of him and told him so. He grinned ear to ear while he dished out every one's portions. This was quite a family dinner.

Cooties Part Deux

Well, it has bee a long time since my second post where I first addressed the Cootie phenomenon. And in a strange coincidence, I was thinking about that post the other day. Well, last night the kids brought up Cooties. In the course of a family discussion, the fact surface that Coco had worn Caz's winter jacket over to a friend's house to play that after noon. Caz declared, "Ewwww! Gross! Now my jacket has Cooties." My natural curiosity kicked in at that point. "So what is a Cootie?"
Caz replied, "I don't know."
"What do they look like?"
"You can't see them. They are microscopic. Like germs."
"How do you get Cooties?"
To this I got a shrug.
"So what do you know about Cooties?"
Caz paused. I could see the wheels turning. After some internal pondering he calmly replied, "Well, there are boy Cootie and girl Cooties. You can't see them. And.....they are gross."
So really, not much has changed except for the gender based Cooties. I guess that means all is as it should be.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snow Daze

"'Scuse me, while I kiss the sky!" It seems kids are always praying to the Snow Gods for a snow day, while parents do just the opposite. Most anyway. I remember being a kid, and hoping for that unexpected day off. We would go sledding, have snowball fights, or play snow football. We would be outside all day, until we were soaking wet. And then we'd come in for hot chocolate with marshmallows or Fluff. It would be a perfect day. But then a few months later, we would be sitting inside in June, pining to be outside. No matter how much I tell the kids they would rather be out of school early in June, that have a snow day, it's like talking to the wall. They don't care. They would rather have the snow day. That is kid logic at it's best.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hook, Line, & Sinker

Well, it is official. Coco is hooked. Hooked on the pigskin. He cannot get enough of the gridiron warriors. Although his first team of choice is the Patriots, it really doesn't matter who is playing. If there is football on, the kid is watching it. Coco would rather watch SportsCenter than cartoons. My father is smiling, I am sure. He's a fanatic too. He didn't start out that way. But he will even watch the CFL or a taped delay Division 3 game on NESN, if there is no other game on. Coco is right in that mode. The training was complete and evident this past Saturday night while the Pats were playing the Jaguars in their play-off game. My pal, Sammy, and I were mulling over the game out loud during Jim Nance and Phil Simms's introduction banter. Coco hushed us. Lound and clear. SHHHHHHH! I apologized to Sammy but he was too busy laughing. Coco was locked into the game, all game long. I think he took one break to hit the bathroom. He really cracks me. He really has some solid insight into the game too. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up as a sportscaster.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Long and The Short of It

One of the biggest battles that I have with Caz is over proper winter attire. He insists on trying to walk out of the house in shorts and if possible, a T-shirt. He says he is not cold. But I am sure it is because he has friends that do it. That is where I launch into my "I am not their father, I am your father and only responsible for you" routine. It is an oldie, but a goodie. This argument probably has some roots in the cool factor theory too. Though it probably has a stronger, monkey see, monkey do aura. Whatever it is, it happens quite frequently. Demi struck a good compromise, having him pick out a fur lined sweatshirt to go with his down vest. She had him pick out a coat too. Caz gets his sense of independence and free will, we get our son dressed for winter. That is not to say he still doesn't try to get out in shorts but he takes defeat much better.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Too Cool for School

When I had graduated college and moved into what would technically be my adult life (I don't think I could be classified as an adult. I sure didn't act like one.), I would see you kids. These kids would always say," That's cool!" When I got even older, I would hear high school aged kids at the mall give the casual, "Yeah, that's cool." So I wondered. I wondered at what age do kids start creating their definition of cool. When does a child look at something or someone and think, "hmmm, that (or that person) is cool."? And what does that (cool) mean to a child. OK. Yes. Maybe I had too much free time. Maybe I occasionally dwell on the mundane. But from a human development perspective, when does this insight happen? Well, I kept this question fresh in my mind so that I could test my conundrum on my own kids when the time comes. Well, based on my vast research and numerous (2) test subjects, I think I have configured an answer. My theory says that the cool factor kicks in after kindergarten and before the end of second grade. Actually, about halfway through second grade. If you tried to pin me down, then I would say first grade. Now here's the kicker....I mean here's the context of my theory. The cool factor clearly kicks in during first grade with the oldest child. Younger siblings will hear the word "cool" before first grade and may even say it. But the concept still does not develop at that point. It still takes a certain maturity level to wrap your mind around the definition of cool. Now you may add to it from there, but the spark that starts it? You get "the look" too. When you say, "that's cool" and have that smile in your eyes that goes with it...that's when whatever "that" is, is "cool". I recall Caz have the words and the look for the first time and see it now in the times that fool. I saw Coco say the words when he was younger than kindergarten but it didn't come with the look. It's all very scientific. I am sure the AMA will be calling any day now to publish this.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Mitchell Report

The Warren Commission of our time. How will it remembered? Who can say now? But it has undeniably created a stir. I have written how I have already had to have a talk with my boys about steriods and HGH because of Barry Bonds. I recently read Game of Shadows. I finished it about 2 days after the Mitchell Report came out. Good timing on my part. It was very illuminating. It helped set the stage to this great unveiling. Fortunately, I did not have to explain to the boys about any prominent Red Sox players being in the report (of course those fake emails that went around hours before the report was made public included Varitek, which would have been a hard pill to swallow. But I kept the faith and was rewarded. Of course I had to explain the FSU scandal to my boys, which was not fun. Worse than when Rodney Harrison got busted for HGH.). While the adult talk turned to Clemons, Bonds, and the players on the list, the kids and I still had to talk about what it all meant. As it should be. This is one of the those news items that provides a parent with a golden opportunity to talk to their kids. Another example would be Jamie Lynn Spears. Or still Brittany, for that matter. Talk about a mother in need of a parenting handbook.....As parents we need to know that our kids are pretty savvy. They hear about the big stories in the news, whether it is by overhearing it on TV or from older children on the bus. How you choose to address it, is up to you. Seize the opportunity. Luckily, the upcoming playoffs show provide plenty of opportunity to Caz, and probably Coco, about "sexual activity" courtesy of all the Viagra and Cialis commercials. I try to flip in time but I don't always time the remote right and Caz will catch snippets of the advertisement promotional language. Apparently, he knows enought to laugh and then look around for reaction. So it may be time for a short talk or at least let him ask questions. It doesn't have to be too detailed but, I guess I need to see what he knows.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Jurassic Age

I never try to make a statement all encompassing, or make something seem a certainty. So I will say the overwhelming majority of boys are fascinated by dinosaurs. I am not sure why that is. It may be the lizard aspect. It may be the ferocity and dangerousness. It may be imprinted on their DNA. Maybe it is all of the above. T Rex is always a popular choice. Stegosaurus and Triceratops are at the top of the list too. You watch. At some age, could be 2, could be 4, but whatever it is, there will be a dinosaur period in your son's life. The last 8 weeks Coco had brought a book home from the library having to do with dinosaurs. Caz had his library book period too. Let me tell you, most of them use the "new" dinosaur names that are supposed to be correct. They are tongue twisters and a half. These are the toughest books to read. Discovery Channel has some cool shows that are computer enhanced that are documentary-like, showing how some of the creatures may have looked and moved. These shows, liking Walking with Dinosaurs, are very well done. Fair warning though, these can get graphic at times. You do have to talk a lot about it while you are watching it. However, that should be the case with many of the show you watch together.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Big Brother Is.....

Doing more than watching. Some MA State Representatives are trying to introduce a bill that would regulate parenting. The high level goal is to ban on corporeal punishment for children by parents. This included soap in the mouth, hot saucing, and spankings, among others. I will not offer an opinion on any of litany of punishments listed on the bill. I have mentioned that I tell my kids that they don't come with an instruction manual. But that is all in jest. I don't think I really want one. I certainly don't want a rule book. I have also joked in the past that there should be licences for procreation. Let's face it. There are some folks that should never pass on their genes. I see head scratching example all the time that maybe Darwin didn't get it right. But I certainly don't want the government in my home telling me how to discipline my kids. I do the best I can, which is a lot more than a lot of parents. You see the decline of general discipline across the board. Parents are not setting limits. Everyone complains about a decline in morality, or decline in decency standards, or a decline in religion. They blame TV and TV advertisers, or rock music or whatever is most convenient. Some rely on school to instill discipline. It's too late by the time they get to school age. Has it gotten to the point that the general population is so lazy that the government now has to regulate child rearing? It is a disheartening prospect to think about.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Happy New Year! I will try to be devote more time to posting more often. I am hoping for more readers and some reader input. Most of all though, I hope to continue to learn and develop into a better Dad than I was in 2007. Keep plugging away, right? I keep telling the boys that they didn't come with instruction manuals. Wouldn't it be easier if they did? At least the trouble shooting section.