Dad Approved: School Zone’s Award-Winning ‘Little Scholar’ is Pure Money

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Little-Scholar-TabletRegardless of what side of the fence you sit on when it comes to technology in the hands of our children, the Little Scholar tablet is sure to make you and your kids smile.

With each new holiday season comes a tidal wave of new gizmos and gadgets that do their best to separate you from your money. I’ve lost count of how much I’ve spent on toys, games, and apps that promised to turn my kid into the next Jamal Wallace. Nevertheless, not all so-called “educational” toys are created equal. Some will teach your kids basic math skills in a style reminiscent of Ben Stein. Others are all sizzle and no steak (Baby Einstein, anyone?). Sure it makes your son laugh so hard milk erupts from his nostrils, but don’t count on that to help his test scores.

Since before preschool, my kids enjoyed going through workbooks, doing science experiments, and playing online games designed to elevate their academic performance – each a helpful step in raising a lifelong learner. While your mileage may vary, it’s safe to say that our kids would rather play games on the iPad in all their magnificent glory instead of picking up a book that “doesn’t even make any sound.” (4-year-old logic at its best) As a concerned parent, though, I’m often left worrying about in-app purchases, in-game advertising, and the ability to stumble upon the seedier parts of the internet. But what’s a guy to do?

Behold! Creative Child Magazine’s 2014 Preferred Choice Award winning Little Scholar tablet by School Zone. Consider your Christmas shopping done, dad.

A company like School Zone (kick-butt company that’s been producing children’s educational products for more than 30 years) needs no introduction, but here’s what you need to know about the Little Scholar:

  • It’s jam-packed with over 150 premium preloaded learning apps, including educational games, videos, e-books, and songs.
  • All of the content on Little Scholar was created by School Zone and covers an essential curriculum that builds kids’ skills in areas such as reading, math, spelling, science, logic, geography, and creativity.
  • The intended target is children ages 3 through 7, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not totally digging “Napoleon Bone Apart.”
  • The built-in wifi grants you access to the School Zone Market – an app store for additional content – but it’s completely unnecessary to your use and enjoyment of the tablet.
  • Covers Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade
  • Built-in 300KP front & 2MP back camera
  • Has parental control options
  • Google Android™ OS
  • My son LOVES the “ABC Train” and the movies

littlescholarstatsThe A+ Report Card app is one of my favorite features because it tracks and guides progress. This is crucial if you’re looking for a way to get in a little extra practice in a particular subject like reading, science, or problem solving. Now you’ll know exactly how much time is spent in each category and can encourage or reward Little Man’s dedication to improving his grades.

The Little Scholar comes with a surprisingly high number of songs ready to groove to. Unfortunately, the built-in mono speaker does little more than aggravate the user despite having the volume maxed out. This is my biggest (dare I say only?) complaint – the speaker sucks. If you only have one kid in the house and there are no other living things doing anything at all whatsoever, the speaker might be able to overcome the deafening silence. It’s a shame, too. That James Vanderbeek Ark looks like he could shred a Gibson in his sleep.

For all of the tech specs and detailed info about the rest of the features the LS offers, you can check out School Zone’s website. That’s also the place you’ll head to place your order for the tablet and any additional accessories (stylus, headphones, carrying case, screen protector, etc.) you want to stuff in the overpriced, officially licensed character stocking.

You want a big bang for your buck? You want to give a gift your kid’s won’t outgrow or get bored with before Spring Break? You want to invest in your child’s academic future… and have a blast in the process? Then drop a little extra coin buy the Little Scholar. It’s the best way to insure your kids know more about the alphabet than they do Angry Birds.

Order it at Toys R Us today!

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Apocabox – The Manliest Gift Ever

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apocaboxYou say you don’t, but you do. It’s your guilty pleasure, your dirty little secret. If any of your friends or family knew, you’d be crestfallen. No, it’s not your re-gifting habit – I’m talking about your fascination with survival and preparedness. You can’t help but daydream about catastrophic circumstances and what you’d do if you had to bug out or rescue your neighbors from disaster. Don’t worry, dad, it’s not only acceptable, it’s en vogue. So this Christmas season, tell your wife and kids what you really want this year – an APOCABOX!

Sparked by TV shows like The Walking Dead, Survivor Man, Doomsday Preppers, and Fat Guys in the Woods, your love and interest in survival situations and post-apocalyptic living have enabled you to see ways to start a fire when others only see a bag of chips from the vending machine. You wish you could convince your family to go camping for a week without taking an RV or staying on a campground. Aren’t your tired of just thinking about cool stuff like that, though? Fight the urge no longer! Sign up for an Apocabox subscription and let the journey begin!

Created by world-renowned survival instructor, author, and television host, Creek Stewart, “APOCABOX is a subscription based survival box.  Every other month, a hand-selected collection of survival tools, information and gear is packed and shipped direct to your doorstep.  The subscription charge is $50 per APOCABOX + $8.95 shipping.  Your APOCABOX is guaranteed to be a good deal – regularly with a retail value of $100 or more.” Inside each box you’ll find a content list that highlights the features and uses of the individual pieces of gear and their respective cost as well as a rundown of the month’s Survival Skills Challenge.

In October’s box, I received the following:apocabox3

  • Fire Keeper – custom molded Kydex sheath for your lighter
  • 550 Fire Cord – can be ignited with just sparks from a ferro rod.
  • Olympia Granola Trail Bar – decent tasting granola bar
  • “Survival is Simple” Patch – put on your favorite jacket or B.O.B.
  • EDC Inconspicuous Handcuff Key – useful to counter illegal detainment
  • Bug Out Band – I could tell you about this, but then I’d have to…
  • Marbles Razor Knife – sharp & compact; perfect for mini-tin survival kit
  • Solar Parabolic Fire Starter – harness the sun’s power to start fire/burn ants
  • Zombie Tinder – Ghoulish, indestructible fire tinder burns hot as Hell
  • Wild Edible Card Deck – Learn what’s safe to eat in your backyard; helps pass time as it doubles as playing cards
  • Creek’s Going Native Bandanna – perfect for cosplay, preventing sunburn, and filtering water

Many dads today are skipping the golf course, bowling alley, and bar to seize the day with their kids. As one such dad, I love that I got to use my Apocabox to help illustrate things they’ve learned about in school and taught them new skills while enjoying a gorgeous fall afternoon outdoors. The look on my son’s face when he say daddy make fire without matches was truly priceless. My daughter’s thought it was awesome that I now had cordage to use as boot laces that had a special string inside to make a fire quickly in case we were ever stranded on the side of the road – something all too common in The Mitten.

We all know kids are a little more easily impressed than we adults. So what did I think of all the stuff inside? Glad you asked. I was blown away at the sight of some of the killer gear packed inside. My personal favorite is the Bug Out Band, which just barely edges out the parabolic lense for the top spot. Not only did I get those major things, Creek packed in a handful of “smalls” for my EDC and get home bag. Truly, though, the highlight of the Apocabox is the Survival Skills Challenge.apocabox2

Previous months may have been a little more cut and dry, but this go around required a special video link to help teach the necessary skills to pass the challenge. All subscribers focused the sun’s rays at a piece of punky wood and in a matter of seconds (SECONDS!) had a smoldering ember that was ready to be placed into a well constructed tinder bundle. In less than three minutes from start to finish, I had successfully created a life sustaining fire from nothing more than a “mirror” and some dry wood.  To the right you’ll see my tinder bundle engulfed in flames. What an incredible feeling!

No longer did I have to imagine if I’d be able to create a fire without matches. I knew that I could (with full sun, of course). The 550 Fire Cord produced the same exhilarating results after it ignited from sparks that flew off the ferro rod. It didn’t go as quickly as the previous method, but it worked in less than ten minutes. That’s a winner in my book.

Share your love of the outdoors and having a survivalist mindset with your children. It’ll be good for both of you to unplug, whether it be for a few hours or a few days. You can get prepared for that camping trip in the Sierra’s you’ve always dreamed of by first honing your skills and obtaining the proper gear for your bag. Sign up for your APOCABOX here or leave the page open for your spouse to see. She’s a smart lady (she did marry you after all), she’ll get the hint. It’s well worth your money, unlike that Diaper Genie you splurged on. You’ll enjoy learning a new skill and avoid being busted for re-gifting  another reindeer sweater.

Gerber’s Order – An Ideal EDC Blade

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According to Fat Guys in the Woods host, Creek Stewart, “The underlying concept behind EDC is that you are carrying the necessary tools on you to help get you through a survival situation in the event that something unexpected happens.” For most of us, the biggest challenge we’re likely to face is how to get both kids to stop crying at the same time. That’s no excuse for not being prepared for something more intense like, say, your son’s shoestring getting stuck in the escalator or bike chain. As fathers, we’re asked a million questions a day and are expected to have an answer for all of them – which, many times, is a knife. Why not carry one yourself?

I’ve written before about EDC (every day carry) items that no man should be without. The feedback was immensely positive, so I figured I’d cover more on the topic.

Gerber has been producing knives since 1939 and is widely considered as one of the industries standard-bearers. Proudly manufactured in the United States, Gerber’s line of tactical knives is amongst the finest you’ll ever carry. The Order proves just that.

Equipped with a glass-filled nylon handle, over-molded with a rubberized diamond texture, this legendary knife provides a secure grip during cutting, prying, digging and other utility tasks. The Order is surprisingly lightweight (2.6 oz. to be exact), while retaining the balance only found in high quality knives. Sporting a 3.1″ partially-serrated 420HC blade with thumb hole for easy one-handed opening and dressed in a black ceramic coating which protects against corrosion and minimizes reflective surfaces (that is, until it scrapes off from normal use), Gerber gives you maximum bang for your buck.

Regardless of what your dominant hand is, you’ll be able to whip this out and open it to its full 7.6″ length at a moment’s notice with ease. I love that. Seriously. What good is an EDC knife if you have to fight to get it open or if it did so with the fluidity of Campbell’s chunky soup? Quality materials, sharp blade, great balance, and smooth opening function are all present with the Order.

Since I’ve been carrying this knife, I’ve used it a handful of time for various tasks around the house and at work. The Order does the job well and continues to impress me with its reliability. If you’re looking to upgrade your primary blade on a budget or just looking for a companion, this is the knife for you.

You can sharpen small branches for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows, slice an apple at snack time, or -after being alerted to the situation by Commissioner Gordon- cut zip ties off hostages thus saving the day. Most likely, you’ll only be cutting the tags off your daughter’s pajamas and stuffed animals, but still.

It’s been said that it’s better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it. That statement is just as true for bacon and Nutella as it is for Gerber’s Order. Get yours here.

A Dad’s Ace in the Hole: SOG Access Card 2.0

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It seems like there’s severe weather threatening to wreak havoc on our modern way of life around every corner lately. Tornadoes, hurricanes, super storms, and blizzards. Polar vortex, anyone? And while there’s nothing we can do to prevent an attack from the elements, we can at least be ready for them.

It’s not just extreme weather that inconveniences us, either – it’s the minivan breaking down on the side of the expressway, getting lost on a hike, or that annoyingly loud punk on his cell phone behind you at Starbucks. These are all situations that fuel the EDC (Every Day Carry, for the uninitiated) movement. Okay, maybe I should just let the loudmouth off with a dirty look instead.

More and more, dads are looking for ways to keep themselves and their family safe by preparing for situations that, if not for the right tools or supplies, would make their lives even more miserable than cleaning up puke at 3:15 in the morning. The most common, and cost-effective, EDC tool is the knife. But which one should you pick up?

SOG makes an excellent case for their Access Card 2.0 with its practicality and size. From their website:

Description

The Access Card 2.0 doesn’t grant admission into top secret facilities, but it does give a sense of security! This minimalistic sliver of a knife (3/16″ thick without the clip) won’t take up much room in your wallet, pocket, attached to a ballistic vest, or around your neck. The 2.75″ formidable VG-10 blade opens and closes with one hand like a magic trick and locks with our famous Arc-Lock.

Although every bit of excess weight has been engineered out of the Access Card, you will be surprised at the power it conveys.

 

I’ve been carrying the knife they sent me for review for over a month now and have been happy to have it. I love that it is small enough to fit in my pocket or wear around my neck without being burdensome. The Access Card fits in my hand well despite its slim design and can be opened with one hand in a pinch. This has come in handy opening boxes at work, changing my alternator in the garage, and opening toys in blister packs from the big box stores.

Overall, the SOG Access Card 2.0 is a great start to your EDC kit or a reliable addition to your existing items (extra diapers, pacifiers, animal crackers). The only complaint I have is that it doesn’t lock, like some of their other knives do. Not to worry, though, none of my wife’s kitchen knives have locks either and my kids still have all their fingers.

As one dad to another, it’s a good idea for you to start thinking about how you’d benefit from carrying a knife every day. Far too many tragic news stories on the news could’ve been thwarted and emergencies dealt with much easier if only someone had a good knife on them. Think about, will ya?

Review – Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

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You know Marvel from the annual summer box office blockbusters from the past decade including the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Avengers. You also know the intricate and sometimes intertwined storylines of all your favorite characters. But what you probably don’t know is how it all began, who really created your favorite comic book hero or why it took so long to make it big in Hollywood. ‘Marvel Comic: The Untold Story’ offers all of that in an exhaustive look behind the curtain dating back to its inception. Sean Howe tells how Marvel Comics broke the fourth wall.

The book starts with the story of New York publisher Martin Goodman who would go on to launch Marvel Comics leading up the humble beginning of the man you know as Stan Lee. Yes, that Stan Lee, the one who wrote to readers from “The Bullpen.” It’s really quite fascinating, even if you’re not a comic book nerd. Oh, and there’s even a mention of Hugh Heffner, oddly enough.

Back in Marvel’s heyday, there was a revolving door of freelancers who worked on the 25-cent comics day and night – and sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) tripping on acid or LSD. Yep, that explains the peculiarity of the Marvel Universe. Life in the smoke-filled “Bullpen” wasn’t without its share of controversy. In fact, there was a time one of the artists threatened to throw his editor out of the window. Geesh! And you thought your office sucked.

You’ll be surprised to learn about the assembly line production of almost every single comic. From the editor to the writers, artists, colorers and inkers. Being able to see the amount of work that went into each page gives you a new appreciation for the art of comic production. Given the amount of recreational drugs these guys used, it’s astonishing that any issue ever hit newsstands (but explains how they came up with THIS).

Alright, back to the reviewing part. The first half of the book is about the birth and growth of Marvel, the creative process, and the oft-tumultuous relationship between Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko among numerous others. The trouble dates all the way back to Fantastic Four #1! It always boiled down to who created what. What you’ll learn is that working for Marvel wasn’t as marvelous as one might have you believe, especially when you consider that anything you created for the company became property of said company. Sorry, kid, you belong to Marvel.

The latter half of the book is a tale of legal woes with everyone suing each other, followed by a close look at how Marvel hit the Silver screen. There are mentions of James Cameron and Michael Jackson; I’ll let you find out on your own how they fit into the picture. It’s more captivating that it sounds, I promise. You’ll learn about the Comics Code seal, adult themed comics with some of your favorite heroines and depressing behind the scenes look at the comic industry.

Throughout it all, I’ve come to realize that Stan “The Man” Lee is a prime example of when talent and luck meet. If he were only talented or just lucky, I don’t think Marvel would be the comic book/cartoon/move juggernaut it is today.

The book is out today. Grab your copy of Marvel: The Untold Story on Amazon.

Discover and Master ‘The Art of Roughhousing’

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I never knew someone would actually write a book about roughhousing with the kids let alone actually defend the time-honored tradition of putting a toddler in a rear naked choke, but they did (okay, not the sleeper hold part but you get my point). In fact, The Art of Roughhousing even encourages you to try think outside the box with their colorful full-page depictions of various “moves.”

“Everywhere you look, physical play—what some might call “roughhousing”—is being marginalized. Gym classes are getting shorter. Recess periods are being eliminated. Some new schools don’t even have playgrounds. Is it any wonder children retreat to “virtual horseplay” via video games?

But Drs. Anthony T. DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen are here to shake things up—literally! With The Art of Roughhousing, they show how rough-and-tumble play can nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, boost confidence, and more. Drawing inspiration from gymnastics, martial arts, ballet, traditional sports, and even animal behavior, the authors present dozens of illustrated activities for children and parents to enjoy together—everything from the “Sumo Dead Lift” to the “Rogue Dumbo.” These delightful games are fun, free, and contain many surprising health benefits for parents. So put down those electronic games and get ready to rumble!”

When my daughters were younger, I needed to be reminded that they weren’t made of porcelain and that it was okay to wrestle, spin, or tumble with them. When I finally was, they loved every minute of it and jumped at the chance to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you happen to share my feelings towards your own princesses, this book will help subdue your uneasiness. The authors do a great job explaining the mental and health benefits for children and adults that stem from roughhousing. Did you know that physical play promotes emotional intelligence and helps prevent your kid from dying from obesity at age 9? Yes, that’s your cue to buy and read the book then prepare for all out chaos on the couch cushions!

A Less-Than-Lethal Way To Defend What Matters Most

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A couple of months ago, ABC News ran a 20/20 special titled ‘Kids and Guns: By the Numbers.’ And while it was a bit misleading, it got me thinking nonetheless.

Regardless of what you think about gun control, the fact remains the same. From Omni Security:

Did you know:

  • Crime in the United States accounts for more death, injuries and loss of property then all natural disasters combined.

  • 1 out of every 24 people is a victim of crime each year.

  • The most common location for victims of violent crime was in their own homes.

  • 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during a home invasion.

  • Every 2 minutes, somewhere in America someone is sexually assaulted.

  • Every 3 seconds, a crime is committed against someone’s property; that comes out to be 1 of 5 households each year.

  • Over 200,000 inmates on parole return to prison each year.

  • A violent crime occurs every 22 seconds.

  • The total amount of money lost each year due to crime is over 40 BILLION dollars.

  • Every 14 seconds, a home is broken into.

With numbers like that, you’d think we were living in Los Santos. Yeesh! Now you know why so many people are so adamant about their second amendment freedom.

Maybe you have small children who love exploring every square inch of your house to find the ultimate Hide-and-Go-Seek spot or maybe you’re not comfortable having a firearm in your home. Or maybe… you know you never want to shoot and possibly kill someone – for any reason. All of the aforementioned reasons for not owning a gun are valid, but that doesn’t mean you should be defenseless. That’s where less-than-lethal options such as the Mace Pepper Gun Distance Defense Spray with strobe LED come into play.

I wasn’t completely sold after watching Mace’s promo video, so I had Mace send me one to test out for myself. After opening the package, the first thing I noticed was how well it fit into my hand. It had a nice weight to it – not too heavy, not too light. It features a thumb-lock safety, trigger activated LED strobe light, and it’s refillable. Each cartridge holds enough vomit-inducing spray for up to seven bursts. The Pepper Gun is user-friendly in that it’s easy to figure out how to load a cartridge. After that, all you need to do is cock it, lock it, and you’re ready to unload.

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In order to test the range and accuracy of the Mace Pepper Gun, I asked my wife if she’d be willing to help. She said, “Yes!” of course, but only if I was the bad guy. (Yeah, now she wants to role-play!) So, I manned up and stood 20 feet away from her, waiting for my beloved to pay me back for all the times I left my socks on the floor. And then I kept waiting.

She couldn’t do it. She said she loved me too much to do this to me, no matter the reason. Not one to back down from a challenge, I quickly told her how I always thought her sister was the cute one, and then WHAM!!! Two direct hits to my ocular cavity.

Don’t worry; it was just water. Ohhhh, you thought she… but then I said… (laughing).

The fine people at Mace want you to know how your defense weapon is going to respond when you’re in crisis, therefore, the gun comes with a water cartridge for practice as well as Mace Pepper Spray, which is a formulation of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) a natural ingredient derived from hot peppers. Upon direct facial contact, OC Pepper causes eyes to slam shut, coughing, and an intense burning sensation to the skin with extreme discomfort of vision and the respiratory system.

This is something, in my opinion, you can count on to protect yourself wherever you happen to be (unless, of course, your state prohibits citizens from carrying pepper spray. In that case, don’t leave home without a Louisville Slugger.) It’s a great tool to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. In the off chance one of your kids gets a hold of the gun and shoots himself or someone else, you’ll all be happy knowing pepper spray wound is  much more survivable than one involving 9mm Zombie Max ammo.

‘The Squared Circle’ Triumphantly Tells Touching Tales of Tragedy

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In the world of pantomime violence, buxom beauties, and smooth talking muscle heads, execution is paramount; not just in what you do, but in what you say also. The best wrestlers are the ones that make all they do seem effortless, but even that doesn’t guarantee success.

Several factors are at play in determining a wrestler’s destiny, not least of which is remarkability. The tried and true method of fully embodying the gimmick one plays inside the ring is nothing, if not dangerous – often times leading to a shortened career and an early demise. Over the past one hundred plus years, wrestling fans have seen this story play out repeatedly and now is their chance to get the nitty-gritty on the fallen heroes of yesterday thanks to David Shoemaker’s ‘The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling.’

From The Press Release:

“A dead wrestler is more than just a sports hero or TV character. He (or she) is a demi-god, a cultural icon. And these modern mythological characters have had a wider impact on our culture than one would imagine. Film, politics, and modern folk-lore stem from their bravado. …the fans of wrestling are numerous, culturally relevant, and profoundly interested in those iconic figures who have moved onto the big WrestleMania in the sky — and how they shaped the minds of generations.”

The Masked Man” waxes poetic (read: breaks kayfabe eloquently) about the history of the business and its causalities over 371 pages in ‘The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling.’ Thanks to him and my friends at Gotham Books, I received an advance copy for review. I laughed. I cried. I took notes.

Anyone who enjoys intelligent sports writing has visited DeadSpin.com and has more than likely stumbled across (if not sought for outright) the popular column Dead Wrestler of the Week. If you’ve been keeping up with it over the years, you’ll come across a few retreads (Crush, Miss Elizabeth, Yokozuna, and Macho Man to name a few), but you’ll also discover new stories (or at least have the rest of the story) about the Von Erich family, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, and Chris Benoit.

Yes, David Shoemaker dares to mention the legendary Chris “The Crippler” Benoit in a book about WWE and pro wrestling in general. How’s that for a swerve? And if you’re not down with that, I’ve got two words for ya’…

I was born in the WrestleMania Era, grew up during the Modern Era, and fell out of love with the spectacle in the Reality Era of professional wrestling. Truth be told, I’m a smark and proud of it. As the built-in audience the author had in mind when putting together this collection of essays about sports entertainment’s closetful of skeletons, I found it remarkable that someone could write so beautifully about something so seemingly, well… not. Shoemaker’s nostalgia and passion cover every page and deliver a powerful finisher when it’s “time to go home.”

Keep the Thesaurus app on your phone handy when you’re reading ‘The Squared Circle’ though. If you don’t, you might be left scratching your head if not skipping entire sentences altogether. Not to worry, though, you’ll get the gist of it and bounce right back off the ropes and into the next chapter in no time. “TSC” is filled with high-spots and will easily become a babyface in the Sports section of both brick-and-mortar bookstores as well as Amazon.com.

In writing, as in pantomime violence, execution is paramount. While there may only be one “Hitman,” Shoemaker is the “Excellence of Execution.” His enlightened, thoughtful, potato-ing (read: hard-hitting) approach to the tragic world of professional wrestling is a refreshing and welcome addition to any fan’s bookshelf.

‘Boys Should Be Boys’ Gives Parents Tools Needed To Succeed

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Of all the parenting books I’ve read, only one has had as much of an impact on me as a  father as ‘Boys Should Be Boys’ by Dr. Meg Meeker and it was her other book – ‘Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.’

Dr. Meeker challenges fathers to examine their own media consumption, how they spend time with and communicate with their son. She answered questions I hadn’t realized I had until that point and clued me in on what I knew I didn’t quite understand. Admittedly, though, I argued with the book one night while reading on the couch. My wife thought I was losing it, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how someone so smart could be so dumb when it came to video games.

Okay, so maybe I have a soft spot for the gaming industry. What can I say? I’m a product of the Nintendo Generation. I played whatever I wanted regardless of ESRB rating (at least when my mom wasn’t home) and turned out just fine. (Yes, I realize how moronic my logic is, thanks for asking.) Meeker insists that playing violent games make boys more aggressive. Maybe it’s just me, but I actually want my son to be aggressive. I’m not talking about biting every kid in Sunday school who won’t share the Legos kind of aggressive. But he being assertive, bold, and energetic could be the very thing that keeps him from being bullied down the road or enabling him to come to the aid of others.

She did, however, make very salient points when it comes to video games and movies regarding what our kids are able to handle at different ages and stages. Meeker goes on to say that “when boys repeatedly see men they admire ridiculing others, lying, and acting [violently], they attach these qualities to the actor’s manliness, and they will think that adopting such behaviors will make them manlier.” I know from experience just how true that statement is and it got me to thinking.

Even if I tell my son that these guys are the good guys and these are the bad guys in the movie, sometimes the lines are blurred and young boys (and a lot of young men too) will get a mixed message if they sit and watch the story unfold on the silver screen. This inevitably causes problems and unnecessary headaches for both parent and child alike. Had my own parents done a better job monitoring my media consumption growing up, I wouldn’t suffer from as many character flaws as I currently do nor would I have been in so many fights.

Back to the rest of the book…

Mothers and fathers each get their own dedicated chapter, which is quite helpful for understanding specifically what is needed and expected of both moms and dads. I didn’t realize how unique my wife’s relationship with our son is until I read this book. I hope to encourage my little guy to keep the relationship strong so he can have what I never did.

The real reason I’m writing the review of ‘Boys Should Be Boys’ is that I hope each of you at the very least pick up a copy from your local library. (For the uninitiated, it’s the big building filled with paper bound books, many of which are fantastical.) After having finished all 247 pages, I feel so much better equipped to serve in my role as father to my son. The last few chapters do an excellent job in making clear the uneasiness about raising a teenage boy and how to navigate the waters – whether he’s a popular kid with good grades or troubled soul who you can’t seem to understand. I don’t want to give away any of the secrets, but let it suffice to say, “Masculinity begets masculinity – whether good or bad.”

I fail on a daily basis to be the dad my kids deserve, that I aspire to be. But with the knowledge and tips I’ve acquired in Dr. Meeker’s book, I’m more confident than ever I’ll hit a home run before the game is over.

Pick up your copy here.

Zombie Apocalypse Essentials: Tactical Boots Edition

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511boots1I can hardly believe it’s already 2012, mostly because it feels like just yesterday we were partying like it was 1999. If we are to believe the Mayans had some sort of divine revelation of the future, then the world will end this year. Some fear a Death Star sized asteroid a la Armageddon, while others fear solar flares that only the likes of Quasar could make possible. While I do not doubt the plausibility of either of those scenarios, I submit to you that it is ten times more likely that the human race will be infected by Solanum and turn into brain-eating zombies. Think about it, us humans are just as prone to dropping beakers as we are misplacing our keys. Time is quickly running out and you need to be ready when the $%*& goes down.

One of the most overlooked items when preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse is footwear. Allow me to give you a suggestion: 5.11 Tactical offers plenty of fine gear, most notably their XPRT Tactical Boots made out of USA full-grain leather featuring an antibacterial and moisture wicking lining. They were kind enough to send me a pair to try out. Put it to the test I did; here’s my take on why these are absolute must-haves for anyone who doesn’t want their brains on the menu.

No matter the terrain or weather, the XPRT (Extreme Performance for Rapid Tactics) Tactical 8” boots will keep you comfortable and protect your feet from the elements. I ran through ankle deep snow for 30 minutes straight and not once did my feet know it was the dead of winter in the Midwest. While most boots stop at that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find out that not only do the boots keep your feet warm and dry, they also have a patent-pending Kick-Toe to help you kick in a door (or skulls for that matter) without breaking a few toes in the process and a Talon Stabilizer that offers unparalleled support. Still not enough? Since no place is safe, only safer, you really get a kick out of (no pun intended) the cushioning foam insole that makes feel like they’re walking on the clouds of Heaven when you’re really just surviving another day in Hell.

The Zombie Apocalypse is going to get messy. Stepping on non-survivors on your way to the Hostess truck or delivering a little Sweet Chin Music to an undead neighbor will undoubtedly dirty up your new duds and cover you in infectious blood from the ankle down. No worries, 5.11 made sure these boots were blood pathogen resistant. Hidden dangers may wait at every turn of the corner, but at least your feet are well protected.

Finally, you must know that although rocking these SWAT boots is like wearing a mini armored truck, you certainly won’t be able to tell when you have them on your feet. I slipped my feet into the black boots, used the time saving Cinch system to fasten them, and went for a run. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cross trainer as lightweight as the 5.11 XPRT Tactical boots.

When you think of boots, you picture ugly, clunky, dead-weights, capable of replacing the bucket of cement used by most mobsters when they wanted a snitch to sleep with the fishes. When you think of this must have item for surviving a zombie horde, you’ll think of a combination of G.I. Joe and Flash Gordon – Kick ass and really fast – which, ironically enough, is exactly what you need to be on Z Day if you plan on escaping to the safe zone. Pick up a pair in your size here.