We Caught a Tornado Today [WARNING: Science Content Below]

wpid-IMG_20140113_190117_707.jpgMaking your very own tornado in a bottle is very simple and good for nearly any child to assist.

First: Find an eager scientist.  Goggles and lab apron optional.








You will need a de-labeled soda bottle (with a cap), dish soap, glitter and a faucet.

wpid-IMG_20140113_190219_942.jpgFill the bottle about 3/4 full with water.

Add two tiny drops of soap.








A healthy dash of glitter.


Shake in circles.

Instant Tornado!


For additional floor safety consider super gluing the bottle shut.


Today’s Lesson: Do Not Take a Shower with Unsecured Playdoh

Lessons Learned

I took a chance today.  I took a chance and I lost.

Not horribly, but a simple lesson that even the safest of Playdoh spots is detected and exploited in a matter of moments by a 5-year-old.

I popped in the shower to clean up for the day and as I was getting out my son asked if I could help him with something.

“Help with what?”  I ask.

“A project,” he responds.

This is never good.  If it’s art, he says art; if it’s a game he call it by title.  He has never said project that I can remember to describe an activity.  Remaining optimistic I asked him to give me 5 more minutes and I will be right down to start the “project.”

Upon my arrival downstairs he patiently awaited my arrival for Project: Playdoh Clean-up.

What you see here is ground zero, it went into the kitchen, under the fish tank, into the living room, on the coffee table and into his bedroom were a wonderful birthday cake lay in wait for dad.  At this point you really can’t be upset… edit that, you can’t yell, you have to smile and be thankful this was all for a gift.

While he reluctantly accepted his role to do the initial clean up, no child is getting 4,000 tiny Playdoh balls off the floor, out of the carpet and out from under the tank table.

How did all that Playdoh separate so small, where is my wife’s food dicer?  Honestly, don’t call DCF, he didn’t use the food dicer.  But does Playdoh self separate without the watchful eye of an adult?  It is a sticky pseudo-clay and it should bond together, not split like water and vinegar.  In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, “good grief.”

No Playdoh was harmed or eaten in the making of this mess.

Chloe by Peter McCarty [BOOK REVIEW]

I have been away from writing for a bit, a four-year old will do that to you in the warmer months along with 60-hour a week shifts.  But it is all a sacrifice, what can you do, right?  Or Write as the pun would say.  Anyways, if I am coming back I am coming back strong, like a late season push for the playoffs.  Christmas shopping is done for the most part, body is in an adrenaline overdrive so between now and Christmas and maybe the New Year you should see a boatload of posts and what better way to start it off than a Peter McCarty’s most recent book, Chloe.

Chloe is the middle child in a rather small family of bunnies who share a close-knit and zealous bond for “Family Fun Time,” that is until dad brings home the T.V. 21 of the 23 family members, save Chloe and Little Bridget find themselves glued and hushing for silence the first night the T.V. is unveiled, creating a mission for Chloe to save their harmonious brood from becoming couch potatoes. 

Chloe is drawn in typical McCarty style with little more background than necessary to keep the child focuses on the subject rather than overwhelming their eyes with busy art.  The palate is soft and pastel, hence the bunny nature.  If you are familiar with McCarty’s work you will recognize Chloe from Henry in Love and I am still convinced she is the inspirational design as seen in a much earlier work of The Monster Returns because no two bunnies have that saggy ear as the Chloe family trait.

The weight on this paper is something I would never usually mention but it is thick and therefore great for kid-assisted page turning.  The other beauty is the short and concise page narrative that makes it easy to follow and a great night-time book.  We have checked it out from the library at least a dozen times with renewals included putting the book in our home about 20 weeks of the year or so and our son asks for it night after night.  At this point we have stopped reading the book and he recites the book verbatim from memory.  At four he is picking up some word recognition, hopefully this gives him a bit more confidence to have the feeling of reading to move his learning along.

This is a must read for children boys and girls alike and in my opinion the best new book of 2012 for pre-school age children.

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: 7000 Wii Systems Stolen and a Chance for Thieves to Make it Right

Many a news readers chuckled this morning while reading the news that thieves were able to pull up to an air cargo in the Seattle area and use the warehouses own forklifts and equipment to load up the two tractor trailers with $2 million dollars worth of gaming systems and drive off into the night.

Sgt. Cindy West, is quoted as:

” I’ve been a cop for 28 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This has come straight out of the movies.”

But I am not writing this to describe the crime, if you haven’t heard or want to learn more try [HERE] or [HERE] both give you the facts and vehicle descriptions if you plan to play Sherlock Holmes and solve the case and bring the toys back to Nintendo.

But if you are the criminals or know how to reach the criminals consider this plea.  Be Santa.

This past week the news has been hard on adults, but also extra hard on the trust in children who had their innocence and sense of childhood immortality shattered by the actions of a man just out of his childhood.

Here is my plea:

Play Robin Hood, you have already stolen from the rich (Nintendo), now give to the poor.

Frankly, once you begin to sell 7,000 Wii U Systems on eBay or out of a truck the authorities will track the lot numbers off the box you will be tracked down and done in with nothing to show for your crimes but a prison jumpsuit and a cellmate who is in for a violent crime. Not the best outcome to a dream of fortune.

Make dreams come true. Wrap the Wii Systems and distribute them to people across the country to systematically start handing them out to children on Christmas Day in the less well to do neighborhoods where thoughts of getting are outweighed by the financial ability of giving.  Give them to the children of deployed service men and women.  Give children back that glow and hopefulness.

No jury of your peers will ever convict you for the crime if brought in front of a court for crimes of giving.

Merry Christmas.  God Bless and do the right thing.

Who is Stripy Horse?

Again we are back with another Kiddie Book review, which I apologize because I am still adjusting to writing.  Stripy Horse was found during one of those bookstore trips where Gavin, our son, wanted nothing to do with the selection process.  His only focus was to play with the other boy in the kids room who was also ignoring his father and playing with the gigantic Thomas train table.  Hats off to B&N for a great room and a tool to distract children when you need a few minutes to read a synopsis, but when you need you child’s attention you might as well be talking to a statue.  After 40 minutes of holding up picturebook after picturebook I finally got a tilted head and a “yaaaah” smile with the a Collection book I just held up because nothing was working, so off we went with The Adventures of Stripy Horse.

Did he chose Stripy Horse because he genuinely thought that was the best book we had shown him?  I don’t think so, I showed him many more books that were his taste and style.  I think I was getting more of a reaction to the silly floppy horse on the cover.  Regardless of fate or innate timing that selected the book, Continue reading


I can’t believe I am 37 and about to review a children’s book, I just have to accept that I am old and am now actually going to start reviewing the things in my boy’s life.  Give me just a moment to wipe my tears.

O.k. I am better, now that I have moved on to the acceptance stage of aging let me say I will try not to make this sound like a book report to Sister Nancy, but the last time I tried to explain a book with pictures in it I was in grade school doing book reports.  I do suppose I review comics and a kid’s book is similar in a sense but with thicker paper and cute characters so this will be a meld of my Sacred Heart book reports and a Batman Comic review.  Enough digressing.

I Need My Monster, more like You Need This Book.  I can’t believe how much fun reading this book was last night.  Now I read to my son Gavin every night, unless I am pulling some overtime I do not miss a night reading a book or two and on occasion three to my recently turned four-year-old.  Reading is a blast and most of the time it happens to be a superhero or Disney character book, which is fine, all good books.  But I love doing voices and acting out the stories and pentameters of expression and dialogue, though when you are doing Superman or Wall-E the voice is predetermined from t.v. and movies that there is little grace-way into what you can do, but with new stories the sky is the limit.  Problem is  trying to sell a four-year old on the unfamiliar is not the easiest of task, case and point, he wanted nothing to do with this book on the shelf at the book store.  We bought it any way and I just read it as the second portion of a literary doubleheader at bedtime.

Again, digressing.

Amanda Noll’s I Need My Monster is the story of Ethan who find a note by his bed, “Gone Fishing for the week -Gabe.”  Gabe is his monster-under-the-bed.  Not a bad deal right?  A week without his monster and a good nights sleep.  Wrong.  Ethan can not sleep without the familiar sounds of his friend from under the bed, or his mysterious ooze.  Ethan has to do something so he calls in the back-ups and that is where the fun begins.  Monster after monster show up to substitute for Gabe and more and more the defects we will call them lead Ethan to tears, and not tear of fear, but tears of pure ridiculousness for what Herbert, Cynthia, Ralph, and Mack have to offer in absence of their colleague.

The writing is ripe with dialogue for adding silly and well deserved voices to each of the “monsters;” funny that they carry that term, but that is what they aspire to be.  Aside from the humor of the story it also gives a child less of a fear of the dark by painting the historically scary monster-under-the-bed as benign creature with and over-bite or manicured nails.  Kind of hard to fear the Screech Powers of the monster world.

While Noll’s writing is great the real hidden treat is the art work by Howard McWilliam, clearly it is not hidden being in your face throughout the book, but I think you get my implication.  It is impossible to have a great book without great writing, but to have an amazing artist to add to the experience you really hit pay dirt.  The art work of I Need My Monster may be some of the best coloring I have ever seen in a children’s book, it is of the quality of a high-end comic artist like Jim Lee in terms of mastery of the pencil mixed with the innocence of Tim Cratchit.  One could argue that may McWilliam the greatest artist out there, art is subjective, I understand this.  The story, typeset and layout are just so complementing it is not an individual that make the book great, it is the team that make the title, perfect.  Noll and McWilliam are the New York Yankees for kid’s picture books, with this product because they just drove it out of the park.

If you have a child who is hitting that stage of creepy ominous beings slithering through the night, this book is a remedy, if you have the funny, goofy child who likes to go to bed with a smile all the more reason to help the lips arch.  Typically you find hardcover picture books in the $16 dollar range, for some families that may be pricey and this is why society made libraries.  Frankly, you have no reason to at least try this book.  You can thank me later.

I will sum this book up in a nutshell, he woke me up at 6:00am to have me read it again. Ya, thanks for the story Amanda!

It’s Awards Night… Or I Just Got Rick Roll’ed on WordPress

A few days ago my Droid chimes that I have a WP notification and low and behold it is a notification for a comment that Jules, a fellow blogger, enjoys my banter and raves about fatherhood enough to pass on the recognition honor bestowed upon her blog by another.  The Kreativ Award.

Now I have a rather cynical view of awards, trophies and more so award shows.  They are for the benefit of the people who need the recognition for their efforts and not the self-pride for their hard work.  Meaning in a pool of 100, one is honored for their efforts whether it be sports, movies or music.  Now on the flip-side I am not the parent that believe every person should be a winner, that mantra is just as silly, if not more so.  I don’t just say it half-heartedly either, every trophy I ever won as a child/teen in sports went into the trash.

But what I did like about this award was not that I could post a silly badge to an awards page I will never create, but that I could take this award and honor and discuss some of my favorite blogs.

So as the rules say, first I must thank the person who took the time to recognize my site:

Jules, Thank you, not for the award, but for reading.  I would rather have 10 loyal readers than an award that says someone liked it just once.  Please don’t mistake this post as a dis-appreciation of the honor, it is just the opposite, I am thrilled you think so highly of my writings to consider me, but if given the choice I would take you as a loyal read in exchange any day.

Read Jules at: http://thej85.wordpress.com

Secondly, is that a word, I must give you 10 facts of myself. (In no particular order)

  • I sometimes wish for a zombie apocalypse so I can put my swords to use and not have to work.
  • A beat up George Brett (virtually worthless) baseball card  I received from my Grammy is still the best gift I ever received for my birthday, I think I was 15.  She was a widow and retired, she found a way to give something with meaning.  How she ever remembered that I liked George Brett I will never know, because the woman could not remember which grandchild was which for the life of her.
  • I sat out in the cold November air for 10 hours to see Prince once.  Election day in 2000, I never cast a vote in the Bush-Gore election and it was worth every moment.  General admission, second row, standing, center.
  • Hearing Johnny Cash sing about love, Life and Loss on his final few albums, through his old and tired voice gets me choked up to hear the pain and feeling in his words.
  • I don’t drink coffee or alcohol, occasionally tea is my stimulant in the AM.
  • I sat down for a spaghetti dinner with Maya Angelou through a twist of fate and was able to talk about writing with her.  To meet a person like that when your name is not David Beckham is something you will think about nearly everyday.
  • I wish I could have stayed in college forever.
  • Save the aliens, Hollywood keeps killing them off.  They watch our movies and will never visit us if they think it means war.
  • I hate to drive, I wish I could live solely on public transportation.
  • I pray thanks every morning for my wife and son.

And finally, recognize my (in no particular order) favorite blogs:












Easter Memories Cost 3 Cents

While the ideals of Easter has moved from the Resurrection of Jesus to the idea that a magical bunny breaks into your home and hides candy it has added another section to the family album all along the while also lined the pockets of Mars Inc and some company in Taiwan that makes pastel plastic-lined faux-wicker baskets for $6.99.

For Halloween you have cute little costumes, for Christmas it is pictures with Santa and the toys, summer holiday give us family photos.  The issue with Easter is that it follows the winter holiday’s so funds are typically low and demand for any toys is usually minor.

How do you live up to the hype of Christmas with a small present, or the nastiness of Halloween with tiny candies in an egg?  You don’t.

First, go to Walmart, or if you are a hippy that boycotts the Waltons’ for destroying America, then drive over to the local market and get yourself some baby powder and make your own happiness.

I won’t take credit for this, and neither can my wife… but it is her history, not mine.  Patter some tracks from the door all over the home into rooms with a path left to carrots… and in our home, a pineapple.

Trying to fight with corporate America and t.v. media that Easter is anything more than a “Bunny Holiday” is fruitless, so embrace it.  The amazement on our son’s face this morning with his discovery of tracks is clearly worth the intrusion of corporate sales into holidays.  He is 3 and the belief in a bunny is much easier on the mind then the Rising of a Savior, especially since the notion of death is not in his mind yet, we will cross that line in the 1st grade.

Global Warming – Myth or Reality it is Working

So here it is, March, not even spring and the week has been as Jim Carey would say “B-E-A-utiful.”  The New England winter was mild and felt like the break we needed, because after 36 winters I think I was contemplating a move to South Carolina.

But whatever is going on out there is a welcome change to wet and wild post-winter thaws.  The weather should hit 75 today and I will have the evening to spend out running from the police again… yes, the PD.  After a ticket or two I have kept that copper on the run.


This has been a good week for him and Aside from loving to play I noticed something last night.  During his evening “remove the grime” time in the tub he had his back to this aquatic-time supervisor and I noticed a ring around his neck.  Not a dirt ring, but a sun ring from his shirt.

It’s March and he has a slight tan.

That is awesome.

I am glad he is getting the real outdoor air, he sleeps so heavily and exhausted after a day of room to really run and scream.  He had fun times in the house with his learning games  and Christmas toys to occupy his time, but after a winter cooped up in the house, even if it was mild it was still cold, it is nice to watch him run on the soccer field and kick the ball into the net.  We both have fun doing that this weekend. 😉

Last night he and I ate a burger out on the picnic table and he for the first time asked me, “Daddy, How was your day?”  He must have picked it up from t.v. but it was sweet.  And to sit there one-on-one and just talk about my day with him was a treat.  He gets to play all day, and I am rewarded with a 15-minute conversation that will last an eternity.


Treasure Hunting and Catching Our Own Chicken


Following a map, even if it is a GPS enabled phone is treasure hunting to a boy of three.  Every parent should try this, and if you don’t own a smart phone a GPS device is fairly affordable.  I think you can get one for under $50, and I may look into investing in one rather than use a phone.

Our trip started with a little dress up of a pirate hat and an eye-patch, though that came off after the car ride to the park because a toddlers attention to surroundings and the loss of depth perception is just a combo platter nightmare.  So we left that little number behind.

300 meters from the car, not far, except pace is set by the shortest legs and a detour out to the island across a man-made rock bridge.  Not the brightest idea but we did snap a few cute photos in the middle of the island, no smoke monster on this deserted isle.

By the time we traveled the remaining 220 meters he had soon to forget about his quest and was talking lunch.  Chicken on the picnic tables.  Problem is, we have no chicken with us, maybe we can catch one in the woods.  After all I am I guy, I have it in my blood to know how to de-feather and skin a chicken with a sharpened rock tool, if I could just find a caveman to give me a crash course in outdoorsman life.  O.K. we got this.

So the GPS counts down to 10 meters, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 ,3… it’s right here somewhere.

Scanning, nothing.

5 minutes, 10 minutes.

Kid has completely lost interest.

5 more minutes

Wife says she quit.

Only dad is looking and he can’t read a map, even if it is a digital one.

So we will cheat a bit, read the descriptions of other hunters who have found the booty.  A 3 by 5 box, really 3×5?  That is the size of a cigarette pack.  I am not just looking at my feet we have 100 sq feet of the woods to find a box that may be in the trees, under the leaves, under a rock or buried under ground.  RIGHT!

5 more minutes, oh the GPS says the cache is on the other side of the path, renewed persistence from everyone.

Another few minutes and the GPS has recalibrated and pointing back to the other side of the path?  O.K. This is starting to get annoying., and everyone is getting hungry.

If I had an hour and no distractions I could find it, but with a 3 year-old you don’t have even 10 minutes before they are off and moving onto the next adventure, even if the activity they are running from is a treasure hunt.

Time to catch that chicken, convert the phone into a hunting device.


“Hello, Duguay’s Chicken”

“Hi could I order a 6 piece meal with jo-jo potatoes please?”

“Be ready in 10 minutes”

Chicken hunt, successful.