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Failing at 12 Is Better Than Failing at 42

"We need to become velvet bricks," Elmore says, "soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults."

via www.huffingtonpost.com

Despite the sensational headline ("Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids?") this is a good article and as parents it's something to be mindful of. I try to praise hard work over "smarts," but letting my kids fail on their own (especially in school) is proving to be more difficult than I thought.

Kids aren't the only ones who have to keep trying hard.

Werner Herzog "Reads" Curious George

via daddytypes.com

"But is it really George's fault? Or is it the Man in The Yellow Hat's fault for taking an agent of chaos out of the wilderness, and trying against all hope to civilize him?"

If you've ever read any Curious George story to your kids (especially the first story), then watching this is a must.

Greg from DaddyTypes said that this is "the single greatest video I've seen in my six years of dadblogging." It's really hard to disagree.

My other favorite:

"Dingaling. Dingalingaling. George had telephoned the fire station. They thought it was a real fire. "No fire!" exclaimed the fire chief. Only a naughty little monkey. Angered, the firemen take action. In short order, a monkey has bested seven adult men. This should give you a dim view of human potential."

Merry Christmas 2008 from the Fords

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Welcome again to our annual Christmas "letter." 2008 marks my second effort, and judging by how late it is already, I'm fearing I may have already fallen into a sophomore slump. Then again, judging by how many holiday cards I've received already this year (four as of December 15th), it would seem I'm not the only one who is a little late. Anyway, thanks for opting-in to read the letter this year.

2008 has been a pretty good year for the Fords, which is to say I suppose that it hasn't been a particularly difficult one like it has for so many people. Judy's job is still well and secure, our house hasn't lost as much value as a lot of other homes in Las Vegas, and we've got two healthy and happy kids both is preschool.

Wait. Did you catch that last part? Right now Jane and Sara are both in preschool and while they absolutely love it, I'm not sure who loves it more, them or me. Having my mornings and early afternoons off has been really great - allowing me to expand my writing for Babble.com and pursue another interest in photography. I also managed to get another sommelier certification this year (this one from the Court of Master Sommeliers), and while I began a job search with the intentions of maybe going back to work, the company I was interviewing at had layoffs. So, instead of going back to work in the near future, I'll continue to do what I've been doing for the past four years, namely greasing the wheels of our life so that the time we can all spend together is the best it can be.

As I mentioned, Sara and Jane are both loving preschool. Sara is in Pre-K this year, and in addition to growing like a weed in the past six months, she's also blossoming into quite the young girl. At school she enjoys her dance and computer classes, but particularly she loves being with all the friends she has made. Academically she's also doing incredibly well and (not to brag or anything) a few months ago she started reading small, beginner reading books (the Scholastic "Bob" books series).  So every couple of days before bed instead of reading to her, she reads the book to us. Which is pretty awesome.

[Sorry. That was a lie. I was totally bragging.]

Jane in her first year of preschool is a force of nature. Having had the example of her older sister has done wonders for her socially, and she loves school so much she'll barely give me a kiss goodbye when I drop her off. In fact, this morning when we were walking into her classroom she ran in ahead of me, stopped dead in her tracks and announced "I'm here!", to which one of her teachers and at least two kids replied "Jane!" I swear, if she had a barstool and a beer she'd be Norm from Cheers.

Jane's big accomplishment this year (also due in part the the influence of her big sister) is that as of October she's completely potty-trained, And after spending the last two months not having changed even one dirty diaper, I can report that potty-trained at two years and three months is also pretty awesome.

[Again, bragging, but isn't that what these letters are for?]

Judy is the best, and if I'm the grease then she is most definitely the engine of the family. Her biggest challenge this year has been getting used to not having her own car. The lease on her car was up in January of 2008, and instead of getting another vehicle we just decided to see how long we could get along with only one. We live less than a mile from her work, so driving her and picking her up every day isn't really much of a hassle. I'd like to put a big lie in here and say that we did it to reduce our carbon footprint blah blah blah, but really we did it to save money. And once we got used to it we haven't missed having a second car all that much. Of course it also helps to have parents (mine and Judy's mom) who live in the same city, are retired, travel a lot and let their kids borrow their car when they're gone.

So there it is.  2008 in Las Vegas, where the kids are brilliant, the weather is great and I'm still borrowing my mom's car.

Happy Holidays!

Chris


PS. 2008 was, in case you weren't aware, also the year of Facebook, Flickr and all kinds of other internet social networking web sites. So if you're on Facebook and aren't already my "friend" then please "friend me." Judy is not on Facebook, but seeing has she has only this year discovered the convenience of text-messaging, I expect her Facebook page will be up and running sometime in 2012. The links for all the stuff to follow us are below.

PPS. Also, if you managed to read all of this PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT!     Even if it's just to say Merry Christmas, we'd love to hear from you.


Facebook: Chris Ford's Facebook Profile
Family Photos: Chris Ford on Flickr.com
Random Thoughts in 140 characters or less: chrisford on Twitter.com
Read my Blog Posts about kids, parenting or other stuff at: Babble.com or Modern Day Dad
XBOX Live (random, but I thought I'd throw it in here): vegasford

Schick Titanium Trimmer is Perfect for Traveling Dads.

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Every now and then someone will offer to send me something to review for the site, and every now and then I accept. My most recent product try-out was something for dads, not for kids, and I have to say I kind of like it. The Schick Quattro TItanium Trimmer is your basic Schick Quattro four blade razor, but on the end of it there's an electric trimmer. Although it has a fully adjustable guard, the trimmer is really only good for mustaches and sideburns (there's no way to tackle a full beard with it), but it does a good job of trimming.

Chances are if you've got facial hair you've already got a decent trimmer, but I used it on my recent vacation and it really worked out well. It also would make a good gym razor (if you typically shower at the gym).

Check the Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer at SchickQuattro.com. Or check out the new promotional site (where you can put your face in a Schick "movie") at Trimflixx.com.

Melinda Beck brings good design back to children's television. GPD08.

Mooseamoose_zeeWhen I read yesterday about Gary Vaynerchuck's idea for "Good People Day 2008", I decided to get over my typically cynical self and contribute to the internet shout-outs. And from my at-home dad's perspective, one person who deserves some much needed credit is illustrator and graphic artist Melinda Beck.

The great thing about children's television network Noggin is they don't air commercials in-between the shows. Instead, they have other kid's related short programming, the most of which centers around the designs and illustrations of Melinda Beck. Melinda drew Noggin's "mascot" Moose A. Moose and his silent avian pal Zee, as well as most all of the other bumpers, network IDs and other interstitial pieces. The designs are playful, colorful and most importantly incredibly imaginative. After having your mind numbed to the design aesthetic of most kid's television, it's refreshing to see something that stands out from the rest.

So thanks Melinda Beck. I can't think of anyone better to give a shout-out to on Good People Day.

Check out Melinda Beck's work at her web site (including her work for Noggin here), or check out the Noggin web site, which is also full of her work.

(And, thanks to Greg from Daddytypes for originally explaining who Melinda was).

Merry Christmas 2007 from the Fords

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Well, hello and happy holidays from the Fords. This is the first time we've ever written a holiday letter, and for some reason it seems like this year is the right time to do it. And since you've bothered to read our card, bring it to a computer and type the URL into a web browser, you must want to find out what's going on with us as well. So now that I know you're motivated, here it goes...

First, you might be wondering what this web site is. It's the blog that I've had ever since Sara was a few months old, and the place where I write about things related to children, parenting and fatherhood. Through it I've had a few quotes in newspapers and magazines, connected with fellow stay-at-home dads, and I've even gotten a new job. This month I've started writing for an online parenting magazine called Babble.com, blogging about products for children and parents. With Jane at home with me all day I'm not writing as much as I'd like to, but I'm getting paid to write, which is pretty cool.

Besides writing, I've also been busy with another of my passions - drinking. In my ongoing quest for the world's most diverse resume, I spent the 2006-2007 school year studying with the International Sommelier Guild. And after months of reading, tasting, and service practice I'm happy to report I passed my exams and graduated this fall. Now that I've got the sommelier pin on my lapel I'm not sure I'm going to actually work in a restaurant, but seeing as we live in the booze capital of the world, a degree in wine can't hurt.

Oh. And as you can see I also grew a beard. I think it's awesome, but Judy is convinced it's a sign that I've finally cracked.

While I was off drinking studying, Judy has quietly been supporting a family of four and spending as much time with our girls as she possibly can. Her medical practice is doing well and lately she has been busier than ever. It's OK to be busy though, because we still live less than three miles from her office so she's home fairly early every night. And let me tell you, Judy coming home is an event around here. Nothing gets our girls more excited than Mommy coming home. In our family Judy is the rock star. When she walks through the door at night it's like she's Bruce Springsteen and little Janie is Courtney Cox getting pulled up on stage (except Jane has better hair and can dance way better).

And speaking of drinking (was I speaking of drinking?) Judy is also very excited about this holiday season in particular, because it's the first one since 2002 that she hasn't been pregnant or nursing. Bottoms up!

And the girls? They're great. Jane is the sweetest redhead Las Vegas has ever seen, having obviously gotten her happy disposition from her mother (which is lucky for me). She charms the pants off of everyone she meets, which is useful because it seems like everywhere I take her at least one person stops me. I swear, a few months ago this exact exchange happened to me at the grocery store:

"Look at the baby! She's so beautiful! Hi precious! What gorgeous red hair. Can you wait right here? I have to show my friend."

"Um, well actually I was headed over to the..."

"Martha! Come here! Look at this baby! Isn't she the prettiest baby you've ever seen?"

I never realized what a fuss people make over redheads. Or maybe (as the older brother of a sister with red hair) I just blocked it out. Anyway, Jane loves to dance and make animal noises (the "moo" of the cow is our particular favorite), and she loves everything to do with her big sister Sara.

Sara is also a very sweet girl who has become a really great big sister. She's patient, gentle (most of the time) and kind with her; and right now they're starting to play together which is really fun for Judy and I to watch. Sara is also thriving in pre-school (The Merryhill School) and amazes us every day with something new that she knows or says. The other night when we were eating dinner we started to "cheers." (As an aside,  "cheers" is a big thing at our table, and one of Jane's favorite things to initiate. She'll grab her sippy cup, stick it out and exclaim "Jeee!" to which we all clink cups and say cheers.) Anyway, a few months ago we were clinking cups when Sara raised her cup and said (very solemnly), "To Merryhill."

God, country, and Merryhill.

Sara is also very much a little girl who loves girly things. Maybe it's the influence of the Disney Princesses, or maybe it's being around her Dad so much that has turned her into the complete opposite of me (which, again, is lucky for me). Her favorite colors are (of course) pink and white; she always wants to wear dresses; she holds her hem up when she walks down stairs; and I swear tonight she didn't ask Judy for help washing her hands after dinner, she told her, "I need assistance." I'm not sure if Cinderella says that to her Fairy Godmother, but she might.

So 2007 has been a good year for us, and we hope that this "letter" finds you and your family healthy and happy too. If you're interested, there are some ways during the year that you can keep track of what we're up to.

And also, if you get a chance, leave a comment below and let us know how you've been doing, or what you thought of my first crack at a family Christmas letter (which I think at one point in my life I swore I'd never do). Or you can leave a comment simply because hey, you made it through this enormous letter and you might as well is brag about it.

Chris
December 6, 2007

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Blogging for the Babble.

Well, I've officially sold out. I have recently accepted a position as a blogger at Babble.com. I'll be writing for their Droolicious blog, mostly about products for children and parents. Actually, it will be some of the same sort of stuff that I do here, except now I'll have a much bigger audience.

I'll still be writing here at MDD about all sorts of things (personal or otherwise), I'll just be saving the product ideas for Droolicous.

So if you get a chance, check out my posts over at Droolicious.