Thursday, June 3, 2010

Red Wine Shields Your Brain!

More proof that you MUST.DRINK.MORE.WINE!

According to the Hopkins study, resveratrol protects your brain from damage in the case of stroke. So soak your neurons in wine for the sake of your children...

Find the story link in the column to the right and consider me your favorite enabler.



Monday, May 24, 2010

Organize Big Tape Rolls With Twine and a Carabiner

Home workshop organization

QUICK TIP:  Use a carabiner and some twine to keep your big tape rolls organized.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Dad: YOU Can Keep Your Teen From Smoking

Quality fathering kept teens from smoking

Everyone says establish your relationship with the kids when they're little if you want to have an easier time managing them when they're older, right?

Well here's a new study from England's Cardiff University School of Medicine that documents an example.

According to this three year study, it was their father's influence (or lack thereof), more than any other factor, that tipped the scales toward smoking or non-smoking for teenagers.

Communicative Fathers Help Reduce Teenage Smoking...

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Cinnamon Toast Time!

Cinnamon sugar recipe
Cinnamon sugar sprinkled on toast is a fantastic way to sugar-up the kids' morning (yours too)!

All you need is refined sugar and loads of cinnamon.

Place the sugar in your container.  Dump in a lot of cinnamon - really - you'll need quite a bit, but don't go totally overboard because too much and it'll taste too "spicy". 

Use a small whisk or spoon to stir the b'jesus out of it.

Add the concoction to buttered toast.  The cinnamon/sugar will absorb the butter and turn dark. 

The cinnamon/sugar/butter blend will also stiffen the toast a bit and make it easier to use your .



Monday, May 3, 2010

Dad Is Primarily Responsible For Child's Confidence Building Exploratory Behavior

Here's a new study from the University of Montreal that examines 'activation theory' as a complement to the well known 'attachment theory'.

Activation theory examines parental influence on a child's exploratory behavior and defines an optimally stimulated child as one that is exploratory yet respective of rules.  According to the theory, optimally stimulated children are more self confident.

The author of the study suggests that fathers are largely responsible for activating a child's exploratory behavior while mothers are usually greater contributors to a child's feeling of attachment and that both of these phenomenon complement one another in a well developed child.

Monday, April 26, 2010

$796 Saved On Energy Cost In One Year!

Plan to lower your home utility costs
Do you remember when I posted way back in September that it was possible to in one year WITHOUT replacing your windows?

Well I've got an update for you!

Our final savings tally for the year was $796.08!  There is no doubt in my mind that we would have broken the $800 barrier if this past December hadn't been 6% colder than last year's December.

I'll have another post out next fall with several new additional low budget techniques that I've implemented since the original September post.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Avoid Horrible Gift Giving With Free Google Docs

Use Google Docs to organize family projects, listsDo you sometimes have a problem coming up with the perfect gift for your wife?

Oh SURE, during the "courting period" it was easy to come up with stuff.  But now, finding something she won't immediately want to return is a bit tougher.

Well I've solved this problem, and many others, with Google's free Google Docs collaboration tool.

I created a shared 'Wish List' spreadsheet for eM, myself and the kids.  Now when eM thinks of something she might like to have as a future gift she opens up our shared document and adds it to her list.

Now I always know I'm  getting her something she really wants, and as long as there are enough items on the list, we still retain some element of surprise because she doesn't know which gift is coming.  Some of our immediate family members have also asked to see the list so we've given them permission to view it as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Study: Negative Short Term Video Game Effect on Children

Video games have negative effect, says study
New study out last month about the short term effects of video games on children's writing, reading and learning skills.

The study examined a group of 6-9 year-olds both before, and then 4-months after, receiving a video game device and three age appropriate games.

According to the author of which appeared in a journal of the Association for Psychological Science,

"boys who received the video-game system at the beginning of the study had significantly lower reading and writing scores four months later compared with the boys [who did not]. Although there were no differences in parent-reported behavioral problems between the two groups of kids, the boys who received the video-game system immediately had greater teacher-reported learning problems."

Friday, April 9, 2010

DIY Fix For Your Wobbly Keyboard

DIY keyboard repair
DIY keyboard repair
Tip: Is your keyboard wobbling because you snapped off one of its little legs?  Use the "spring" from a large binder clip to replace it.  Good as new!

(and yes, that is a delicious glass of scotch in the background)


Monday, March 29, 2010

Balance Important For Your Child's Mental Health

balancing skill important for your child's mental health
Yes it's true.... sillyDaddy fractured his toe recently while running from the children on top of the couches in the family room....

While my balance may be in question, eM and I have encouraged the kids' balancing skills to build their coordination, strength and esteem - and all our friends just thought we were careless parents.

We've let them climb and move through their home, let them problem solve about how to get around or over obstacles and even allowed them to stumble occasionally in our safe, child proofed environment.

So far they've come through in much better shape than I have.

I reached back into my sillyDaddy archive to find this article that made an impression on me from early last year.  Published in Research and Developmental Disabilities journal, the study found that "all [children] with balance problems do exhibit symptoms of anxiety, pointing to a link between the two conditions."

According to the research, children in the study, five to seven year olds with an anxiety diagnosis, went through a 12-week sensory-motor intervention in which, "the children use equipment to experience their environment and move in space."  Their balance improved, anxiety was reduced to normal levels and their self-esteem increased.
Improve Balance, Relieve Childhood Anxiety

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Free Google Calendar Makes It Easy To Organize The Family

keep the whole family organized with Google Calendar
Do you wish you had a more organized and reliable way to coordinate schedules with your wife? Would you like to be able to share your schedule with friends and family? Wouldn’t it be cool to have an up to the minute weather report right on your calendar?

You can have all this and more with Google’s free shared calendar application!

If you have a you have access to Google’s free calendar application. There’s absolutely nothing to download because it’s all web based.

You will be able to create specialized calendars, share them with friends and family or keep them private, overlay multiple calendars on top of each other so you can easily see conflicts, send appointment alerts to your phone or email, and add free extras like a calendar for all US Holidays and a Weather overlay!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Internet Crime Up 22%!

protect your family from internet crime
you are the water buffalo in this scenario (J took this pic. Nice, right?)
A scary report out this month from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)  regarding cyber crime.

Especially scary because it details a  high rate of cyber-crime in the Washington DC Metro Area.

The is an organization put together by the FBI in conjunction with the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  I mentioned their list of 17 identity theft prevention tips in my post.

According to the report, Maryland ranks 19th and Virginia 28th in the number of perps per capita!

Complaints to the IC3 increased 22% last year and the average amount of money lost per complaint jumped from $265K in 2008 to $560K.

The Top Three Crimes:
  • 20% non-delivery of goods or services.
  • 14% identity theft.
  • 10% credit card fraud.

If you haven't done so already, please plan on carving out some time to protect yourself.

Review the four post series:


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Equinox - Not Just For Druids Anymore!

She's takin' back the equinox!
Have you always wanted to celebrate the spring equinox but were too intimidated by druids and wickens?

Spring equinox isn't some bizarre, candle lighting, virgin sacrificing, robe wearing ritual.  It's a meteorological event.

And we're takin' it back baby!

The spring equinox is one of two times of the year when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator and day and night are of equal length.  This year's spring equinox will occur on March 20th at 1:32pm.

You know what that means???  From here on out we'll have more day than night and summer isn't far behind!!!

Now, lets go kick some druid ass.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Build A DIY Secret Bookshelf Compartment!

DIY secret bookshelf compartment
Regardless of whether or not you actually have anything secret to store in your home, every Daddy, silly or not, wants a secret compartment.

I've read lots of interesting ideas for creating secret spots but they always looked like they'd take years to complete and cost thousands of lives.

This is a quick and easy secret compartment that, so far, has fooled everyone who's looked for it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Steeple Chase Time!

My Lady's Manor steeple chase race
Steeple chase season arrives in Maryland on April 10th with the 108th running (that's just over a century to you and me) of the !

J & D have attended each year of their lives; eM and I have attended almost every year since we've been together and I attended with friends many years before that.  It's a fun event, great for people with or without families.  This is one of the few remaining vestiges of my pre-fatherhood days when I still had disposable income.  In fact, it might be the only surviving vestige.

Now the vibe at this race is a little different than the Virginia or International Gold Cups that DC folks are used to.  It's more ancient country manor & LLBean vs. nouveau riche & fancy hats.  Oh you can still find plenty of pompous but most folks are very friendly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Quality Fathering Boosts Your Child's IQ

While I was posting about the research released last week concerning , I was reminded of another article in the sillyDaddy archive.Boost your child's IQ simply by doing your fatherly duty

The research (pasted below) released at the end of 2008 found that an involved dad boosts a child's IQ in a significant way!

The author, a psychologist at the University of Newcastle (where they also happen to make a lovely brown ale....bada bing) writes, "This is not half a point, this is a few points of IQ, on average."

The research was based on surveys of more than 10,000 children completed over more than 50 years and was published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behavior.

 Time with dad is time well spent
   by Ewen Callaway

When picking out that perfect Father's Day gift next year, sons and daughters might want to look to their own accomplishments before deciding between a gaudy polyester tie or splurging on a new set of golf clubs.

The more effort a father invests in his children, the smarter they are as kids and more successful as adults, new research shows. And highly educated fathers make even more of a difference than less educated dads, all things being equal.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Use Filters and Labels To Manage Your Gmail

Does your swamped Gmail Inbox have you down? Wish there was an easy way to sort through and organize all your mail?
Organize your email with Gmail filters

Well there is!

Gmail has easy to use filter and labeling options that allow you to handle and organize your mail BEFORE it ever hits your inbox.

As an example, I have a filter set up to capture mail from my favorite retailers. And while these are retailers that I want to hear from, I still don’t want their email choking my inbox.

Each time one of my filtered retailers sends me an email, Gmail captures it, labels it, and diverts it to a special folder I’ve labeled “Retailer”.

The "Retailer" folder keeps an unread email count in my side bar so I always know if a retailer has sent me something new. Now, instead of these emails hitting my inbox, they wait patiently in the folder until I want to read them.

Here’s how to do it:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Are The Main Factor That Influence's Your Child's Pursuit Of A Tech Career!

Encourage your girl geek
Interesting study results out of Michigan State earlier this week about factors that lead children to pursue science or technology careers.

Key findings from this study, which followed 6000 students from middle school to college, include:
  1. The main contributor to a child's decision to pursue science/tech is parental influence.
  2. Success in math classes turns out to be more significant a factor than success in science classes.
  3. Sons are encouraged to pursue math classes more than daughters, which reinforces my previous call for all dad's to encourage their .
Parents Still Major Influence on Child’s Decision to Pursue Science Careers

Monday, February 22, 2010

DIY Teddy Bear and Deranged Kitty Birthday Cakes

DIY teddy bear birthday cake
sillyDaddy loves to build interesting cakes. I don't so much like the baking of them but I surely do like the building of them.

eM and I teamed up to make teddy bear cakes for a combined bday party for J and D.  She did the baking and I did the building.

This one was, well, a piece of cake compared to the I wrote about earlier and a cool dragon cake I made but haven't posted yet.

One major lesson learned from those past experiences is that applying icing to a cut cake is really tough. This time around I picked up a mini cupcake pan and small round cake pans at the local craft store to avoid icing over cut cake as much as possible.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harden Your Passwords

Today's post is all about passwords and it's my fourth in a series of four about DIY identity protection.
make your passwords stronger to prevent internet crime
In the first post of the series, , research revealed that most peoples' passwords were extremely easy to hack.

Well, last December, 32 million passwords belonging to a company called Rockyou were breached by a benevolent hacker who turned the passwords over for study.

A firm named Imperva  on the stolen passwords and found, "Nearly 50% of users used names, slang words, dictionary words or trivial passwords (consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys, and so on). The most common password among account owners is '123456'."

According to that same study, a hacker with a decent DSL connection and a list of the top 5000 passwords (the top 20 of which are pictured below) could "gain access to one new account every second" and take "less than 17 minutes to compromise 1000 accounts."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Carvings

Vitamin D production extremely important to your child's health
Before we lose all of this glorious snow, be sure to carve a few runs for the kids!

And while you're designing your fortress, keep vitamin D production in mind.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Approach To Managing Behavior

This piece from the sillyDaddy archive was written by a pediatrician and published in the opinion pages of the NY Times last year.Children, and those who interact with them, suffer if they're not taught social skills

The author describes the approach as respectful of a child's "intellectual and emotional privacy" and writes,  "I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy. I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public."

Making Room for Miss Manners Is a Parenting Basic

Published: January 12, 2009
NY Times

For years, I took care of a very rude child. When he was 3, I called him rambunctious — and I talked to his mother about “setting limits.” At 4, I called him “demanding.” At 5, he was still screaming at his mother if she didn’t do what he wanted, he still swatted me whenever I tried to examine him, and his mother asked me worriedly if I thought he was ready for kindergarten.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Prep for Round Two With Mother Nature

As of this writing, they're calling for another 10 to 20 inches of snow for the Washington DC metro area.

Here are a few quick tips for round two:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Freeze Your Credit So Bad People Can't Get It (rhymes)!

Freeze your credit to prevent identity theft
Did you know that, as of January 2008, if you're a Maryland resident, you can freeze your credit report with each agency for 5 bucks a pop and as of January 2010 you can do this on-line?

Freezing your credit report means that no one can open up a new line of credit in your name.  So even if someone were to steal your identity they wouldn’t be able to use the information to get lots of shiny new credit cards.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

DIY Pine Cone Bird Feeders!

DIY Pine cone bird feeders
Ahhhh the classic pine cone bird feeder.

Four simple ingredients, pine cones, peanut butter, bird seed and twine.

This one's messy so have the paper towels ready.

First, tie the twine good and tight around the pine cone.

Next, slather peanut butter all over.

Finally, hand off the buttered pine cones to your helpers so they can roll them in birdseed.

DIY Pine cone bird feedersDIY Pine cone bird feeders

Interestingly, our smaller birds didn't seem to know what to do with these but our neighborhood woodpeckers showed up right away (click on either image to see a female downy woodpecker)

And as expected, the squirrels took several of them right away -



Monday, February 1, 2010

Stop Credit Solicitations From Coming In The Mail Where The Bad People Can Steal Them!

Stop credit solicitations from coming in the mail to prevent identity theft
Do you think that tearing up your credit card solicitations is overkill?

Don’t think a person could really get a credit card in your name if they dug through your mail or trash, pulled out a direct mail credit solicitation, added a different address and sent it in?

Well you’d be wrong.  That’s exactly what can happen .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tour De France Route Announced!

2010 Tour de France route

The route for the Tour de France (that's Tour OF France to you and me) has been announced!

Our boy Lance is back again and he's in it to win it this year baby!  Eff you Alberto! (and eff your family too....................
.......what, too much?)

sillyDaddy has already gone to the trouble of listing out the key stages for you (aren't I nice?...unlike those Frenchies?).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fight The Female-Teacher-Effect!

Dads, work now to counteract the newly documented female-teacher-effect so that your geek girl can flourish.

A University of Chicago study released today (pasted below), follows other research released earlier this month that found .

The author of the earlier Villanova study says,  "Girls are likely to perform as well as boys when they are encouraged to succeed."

If you're able to successfully counterbalance the math-challenged sisterhood teaching her, then you're also going to need these .

Believing Stereotype Undermines Girls' Math Performance: Elementary School Women Teachers Transfer Their Fear of Doing Math to Girls, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2010) — Female elementary school teachers who are anxious about math pass on to female students the stereotype that boys, not girls, are good at math. Girls who endorse this belief then do worse at math, research at the University of Chicago shows.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Protecting Your Personal Information on the Internet

Do you continue to hear the stories about passwords and accounts being hacked, people being scammed on-line and companies "losing" their customers' information?  Does it make you nervous?DIY Identity protection

The on-line world, much like the real world, is both wild and wonderful. There are positive elements and seriously creepy elements.

This is the first in what I think will be a four post series on protecting yourself and your family on the web.

To start us off I’m posting a terrific, albeit scary, MSNBC article about how easy it is to gather and then use your personal information from Facebook and other sites where bits of your identity can be viewed by any maniac with a computer.

From the story, "Using only one friend’s name and place of employment, he found her blog and résumé. That provided a font of information on her grandparents, pets, hometown and more. He then visited her bank’s Web site...."  I'll have tips for you at the end.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Use Google Reader To Manage Your Subscriptions

Are you new to the wonderful world of blog subscriptions (also known as RSS feeds) and would like to learn how to add a subscription to your favorite blog (wink wink, nudge nudge)?

Google's Reader feature is an incredibly easy to use subscription management tool and, like everything else from Google, it's free! Use Google Reader to subscribe to sillyDaddyUse Google Reader to subscribe to sillyDaddyUse Google Reader to subscribe to sillyDaddy

First, you'll need a free Google account.  If you already have Gmail (Google's free email service) then you're already set!  Use the "Reader" link at the top of the Gmail page (click on any picture to get a close up view).

If you don't already have a Google account you can .

Once you're on the Google Reader page, click the "Add a subscription" tab at the top left of the page and either enter the blog address or enter key words to conduct your search.

TIP: Once you're set up with Reader you can subscribe to future blogs while you're on that blog's site by finding and clicking the blog's "Subscribe" button. Your subscription will be added automagically to your Reader.

Once you get a few subscriptions you can create files to hold similar blogs, add them to your iGoogle account (more about the wonders of iGoogle in a future post), etc.

Other free Google products reviewed here include , and Google Docs.

Happy Reading!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Re-purpose Wooden Alphabet Blocks As DIY Photo Holders

DIY alphabet block photo holders
My fifth wedding anniversary was last October (yes I know, I can't believe eM has put up with me for five years either).

The traditional gift material for the fifth year is wood.  I decided to use some of the kids’ wooden alphabet blocks to make magnetic picture holders, one for each of the kids' first initials, that eM could stick on the fridge or on her file cabinets at the office.

I thought about buying new blocks for this project but I like the worn, played-with look of the blocks we have around the house. The kids haven’t played with these for a very long time so I'm hoping that removing a few of the letters from their collection won't permanently effect their spelling ability.

Protect Hardwood Floors From Chairs

Please believe SillyDaddy when I tell you that you don't want to refinish your hardwood floors.
DIY Hardware floor protection
I've refinished two in our house, and while the hallucinations from the massive amounts of inhaled wood dust were awesome, it was otherwise backbreaking work.

Take a quick step to protect your floors from sliding chairs and furniture.

DIY Hardware floor protectionIn the past I've bought felt pieces with an adhesive back and applied them to furniture legs.  This works just fine for a while.  But when dealing with a piece of furniture that's moved often (like dining room chairs), the felt eventually works its way off.

I found the following product at a local hardware store and gave it a try. 

Use your hammer to pound these into the tips of the chair legs.  They were fairly easy to apply and I'm happy to report that they're working perfectly.