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The Father Factor


NFI Partners with U.S. Army to Place Fatherhood Resources on Installations Worldwide

NFI Fatherhood Skill-building Materials Being Distributed to New Parent Support Programs on 69 Army Installations

Germantown, MD (PRWEB) November 12, 2013

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has contracted with the U.S. Army to place its fatherhood resources on installations worldwide to support the Army’s New Parent Support Programs.

militarydad and daughter reunitedOver 117,000 fatherhood skill-building resources – including guides, brochures, tip cards, CD-ROMs, and more – are being distributed to 69 installations around the globe. This is the second “refill” of NFI resources that the Army has ordered; the initial set of materials was delivered by NFI in the fall of 2011, and the first refill was completed in the fall of 2012.

Working with the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM), NFI continues to support the Army’s efforts to strengthen fatherhood and increase family resilience among Army families. Specifically, NFI’s programming is supporting the New Parent Support Program in its efforts to “help Soldiers and Family members who are expecting a child, or have a child or children up to 3 years of age, to build strong, healthy military families.” NFI’s programming is integrated into parenting classes and home visiting programs, and NFI fatherhood resource kiosks are displayed around the bases for easy access to the materials.

Examples of NFI materials the Army is making available for fathers and families is general parenting information contained in resources such as Dad’s Pocket Guide™, New Dad’s Pocket Guide™, Pocketbook for Moms™, and Pocketbook for New Moms™.

NFI is also providing the Army with military-specific materials such as the Deployed Fathers and Families Guide™, which helps military dads prepare for, endure, and return successfully from deployment.

nfi logo

At a time when thousands of military fathers are returning from long overseas deployments, it is critical that our nation’s military fathers receive the education and inspiration they need to embrace their roles as fathers and to build their relationship and parenting skills.

Tim Red, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, father, and NFI’s Senior Program Support Consultant for the Military, said, “Building the skills and confidence of our nation’s military dads is a key ingredient in building resilience in military families. NFI is proud to support the Army’s critical efforts to strengthen military families.”

Since launching its Deployed Fathers and Families program in 2001, National Fatherhood Initiative has become the nation’s leading provider of fatherhood-specific resources to the U.S. Military. NFI has delivered over 760,000 resources to all five branches of the military on bases all over the world, and has been listed on Military OneSource, the Department of Defense’s support service for military families.

As the premier fatherhood renewal organization in the country, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), founded in 1994, works in every sector and at every level of society to engage fathers in the lives of their children. NFI is the #1 provider of fatherhood resources in the nation. Since 2004, through FatherSOURCE, its national resource center, NFI has distributed over 6.5 million resources, and has trained over 13,300 practitioners from over 6,100 organizations on how to deliver programming to dads. NFI is also the most quoted authority on fatherhood in America. Since 2009, NFI has been mentioned in over 3,400 news stories, and makes regular appearances in national media to discuss the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.

For the Busy Parent > Room Renovations Under $100

The following is a post from Kristin Hackler. Kristin is a mother, author and journalist. She is also a regular contributor to eBay on home decoration, DIY and parenting-related topcis. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Even if you loved the style and color of your home when you first moved in, the most neutral of rooms can become eyesores over time. But with all the expenses of food, family and day-to-day living, it's hard enough to scraping together money for a new welcome mat, let alone remaking an entire living space. But, renovating a room doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can do quite a lot for less than $100.

for the busy parent room renovations under $100

Consider some of the following room renovation ideas, some of which cost nothing and others that will only lighten your wallet by a few bucks. You'll be surprised at what just a few simple changes can do.

Painting Outside of the Bucket
ebay paint ideas on a budget for parentPainting is the number one change you can make for the least amount of money, but have you considered going a step further and adding some interest to that new coat of Fisherman's Wharf blue? For a solid matte wall paint, consider adding texture by rolling stripes in a clear glaze or layering crinkled tissue paper between coats of paint for an old world look.

To apply:

  • Paint a small section of wall, then crumple a sheet of tissue paper, unfold it and press it against the wet paint, spreading it out with your fingers.
  • Paint over the tissue paper and repeat with the next section.
  • For added dimension, finish with an antiquing glaze.

What is that Accent?
Add interest around the room with repurposed accent pieces. It not only costs much less to use items picked up used at the thrift store or online, or even found around the home, it also impresses guests to see your creativity at work.

accent ideas from ebay for parents on budget

Some interesting repurposing ideas include:

  • an old crib railing attached to the wall for hanging pictures
  • an old louvered shutter attached to the wall as a letter holder
  • an old wooden ladder attached to the wall as a shelf
  • a wooden ladder as a long shelf by attaching shelving boards across the rungs
  • an antique wooden ironing board as a side table
  • spoons bent into hooks and screwed into to a 1 x 4 board attached to the wall for holding kitchen items
  • thin bookcases turned on their sides for instant benches with cubby space—cover with a strip of foam and decorative fabric for added comfort

Metal Works
From restoring old hardware to adding a touch of color here and there, a couple of small changes can make a big difference in a room. If you have a lot of hardware around your home such as door, cabinet and drawer knobs, hinges, light switches and socket panels, a layer of paint can clean them up quickly with little to no cost. But start with a fresh surface (and you may even prefer the bare look). 

how to remake doorknob ebay for parents on budgetAll you need to remove old paint is:

  • An old crock pot
  • Liquid laundry detergent

If you don't have a crock pot sitting around that you don't use anymore, you can usually find one for close to nothing at a thrift store. To remove the paint from your small hardware items, turn the crock pot on low, add water and a few tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent, and allow the hardware to sit in the solution overnight. In the morning, the paint will slip right off.

If your brasses are too bright, you could also use a matte black spray paint designed to work specifically with metal to turn your door knobs from bright brass to faux iron, or a brass darkening solution to give them an antique look.

Splashes of Color
Wall murals are another way to add a creative touch. Not only can you find free-form nature images that can add interest to a bare corner or wall, you can also use them to create temporary drawing stations for the kids. Removable chalkboards and whiteboards can be added to kids' rooms, kitchens and even the living room without worrying about how to cover it up when you have guests over.

writing on the wall how to make wall kids can write on ebay parent

Wallpaper can also add new life and character to a room, but enough to cover even one wall can get pretty pricey. Instead, you can add interest with small segments of wallpaper in eye-catching areas such as the back panels of bookshelves, the backsplash of a kitchen or framed and placed around the room in repurposed or upcycled frames.

Renovating a room doesn't have to mean shelling out big bucks for a few small changes. Instead, consider what you have and what you can repurpose to make a big difference with small changes.

What are some ways you've found to renovate a room at little to no cost? 

13 Apps to Keep Your Family Safe, Secure and Smart

Smartphones are getting smarter every day. It seems that there are apps for just about everything, from determining whether rain and clouds are likely to ruin your ballgame, to checking the scores (or watching it live).

iPhone 4's Retina Display v.s. iPhone 3G

Using free or low-cost apps, you can even transform your old smartphone into a wireless security camera to help protect your home and your family. Apps like 'Presence' allow you to turn a second phone into a remote video camera, allowing you to keep tabs on pets, kids or elderly relatives while you are at work or anywhere else, without having to install a pricey home security system.

Keeping Your Kids Safe
Most importantly, apps and other electronic tricks are available that will help protect your children. For example, the start-up company SmartThings is developing a "key fob" you can attach to your child's backpack. It signals you by text when your child leaves the house in the morning and arrives home from school in the afternoon. And you can download a variety of apps that will help ease your mind when your children are somewhere other than at your side.

1. FBI Child ID: This app, developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lets you store photos and other vital information about your children. If it ever becomes necessary, you can easily provide authorities with a picture of your child, along with physical information such as height and weight.

fbi child id app


2. Sex Offender Search: Download this app and you'll always know about sex offenders who live in or near your neighborhood. The information comes from the National Sex Offender Registry.

sex offender search


3. Find My Kids - Footprints: You can use this app to track your children in real time and also to find out where they've been recently. The app lets you set up geofences – your child's school, for example – and notifies you if those fences are crossed.

find my kids footprints app


4. Near Parent: This app permits your kids to check in occasionally to let you know they are OK. If you child actually needs help, a request is sent to trusted adults chosen by you. In addition, you can be notified about impending violent weather such as floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.

near parent app


5. AMBER Alert: Developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, this app was designed to help find missing children. If you have information about a missing child, you can push a button that automatically calls NCMEC's toll-free hotline.

amber alert app


6. Hero (by Apptooth): This app helps spread information quickly about abductions, robberies and car accidents. By pressing a button, users can send video, audio and GPS coordinates to their social networking contacts and others within a five-mile radius.

hero security app


7. Norton Online Family: This app allows parents to monitor their kids' Web browsing, social media activity and searches on the Internet, to keep them from visiting inappropriate sites and to limit their time on their computer.

norton online family app


8. McGruff SafeGuard Browser: This app permits parents to limit their child's access to pornography and gambling sites. Parents also can view a daily summary of their kid's travels on the Internet.

mcgruff web browser security


9. iEmergency ICE Family PRO: This app lets parents store health data concerning allergies, prescriptions and medical conditions. ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency."

iEmergency app


10. Food Additives 2: This app offers information on food additives that can be harmful to your children.

food additives 2 app


11. iCam: Have you ever wanted to monitor what your kids are doing at home while you're at work? If so, this app is for you. It lets you watch live video from any room in your house, as long as you have a webcam and a computer in the room.

iCam app


12. SecuraFone: This app uses a smartphone's GPS to locate your children and tell you how fast they are driving. It also can notify you if your child ventures beyond a specific geographic area.

securafone app


13. mamaBear: You want your children to be safe in the physical world, but you also want them to be safe online. This app monitors your child's Facebook feed, alerting you about bullying and crude language.

mamabear app


Your smartphone can be a valuable weapon in the battle to keep your home and your family safe and secure.

What other apps have you found useful for keeping your family and home safe?

3 Super Simple Ways to Support Fathers this Father's Day

As you can imagine, June is quite a special month for NFI. As we serve fathers, we thought we should remind you of three ways you can support our aim of creating better dads and give you extraordinary ideas for gifts. Here are three ways you can support fathers this Father's Day: 

1. Join NFI's Dads Club™
DadsClub RotatorWith a one-time $20 membership fee (Now through Father's Day—regularly $35), you get:

  • awesome set of Dads Club™ swag - including a set of men's grooming products from Dove® Men+Care™ 
  • connect with other Dads Club™ members who care about fatherhood.

Plus, your membership fee supports National Fatherhood Initiative's mission to create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad℠! Join now!

2. Donate in Honor of Dad for Father's Day
Give $25 or more between now and Father's Day and we will send you a customizable, framable certificate you can present to your dad! Donate now!

Fathers Day LDD Rotator

3. Tweet Using #DadsWay Hashtag
Here is the easiest $1 you will ever donate to National Fatherhood Initiative. If you are on Twitter, every time you use the hashtag #dadsway, Tide/Downy will donate $1 to NFI. Talk about the dad in your life or share something unique about your dad. Dads, you can tweet about being a dad. We will make it even easier for you. Here is an example tweet:

  • For every tweet using #DadsWay @Tide & @Downy will donate $1 to National Fatherhood Initiative @thefatherfactor. Have at it!

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Special Rate for Dads Club™ Now Through Father's Day: $20!

 MADE POSSIBLE BY DOVE® MEN+CARE™" target="_blank">Join or Give the Gift of the Dads Club™ > MADE POSSIBLE BY DOVE® MEN+CARE

Are you proud to be a dad? Do you want to promote responsible fatherhood in society? Are you looking for a community of other committed dads? Then the Dads Club™ is the place for you!  

dads club national fatherhood initiative

With a one-time $20 (regular price is $35) membership fee, you get an awesome set of Dads Club™ "swag" - including a set of men's grooming products from Dove® Men+Care™ - and can connect with other Dads Club™ members who care about fatherhood. 

Plus, your membership fee supports National Fatherhood Initiative's mission to create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad℠!

Exclusive Dads Club Member Benefitsdescribe the image

  • Gift from Dove® Men+Care™ - the latest products from Dove® Men+Care™ provide superior grooming maintenance for men by caring for their skin, face and hair
  • Dads Club™ t-shirt - to proudly sport your commitment to fatherhood
  • Dads Club™ photo magnet - to hold a picture of your kids
  • A 5-pack set of NFI's Dad's Pocket Guide™ - pocket-sized advice for dads - share some with other dads you know!
  • "No Ifs" commitment band - to remind yourself that being there for your kids is an unconditional decision
  • Exclusive monthly e-newsletter for Dads Club™ members - featuring tips for dads, member spotlights, and special messages from Dove® Men+Care™!
  • NFI's twice-weekly Dad Email™ - practical tips, resources, and ideas for dads
Moms: Get the dad in your life the perfect Father's Day gift—you know he needs a new shirt and products to make him smell fresh!
Join Dads Club™ Today!
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Treat Dad Like a Gentleman on Father's Day—Gifts from $19 to $500

“Being a man is a matter of age. Being a gentleman is a matter of choice.” —Edwin Louis Cole

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Don't know what to get dad this year?

Writing as a father myself, my family doesn't usually know what to get me either. But it's my fault, because I don't typically have anything I want—until now!

Dads, you can review this list and actually have something you want. Heck, after seeing these ideas, you may have several ideas to hint about for the next few holidays!

Moms and families wanting something special for dad? Check out our list for ideas to make this Father's Day special. But most importanly, treat the dad in your life like the gentleman he is.

We have your go-to list of great gift ideas. How do we know? Well, we're pretty much dad experts—at least as it involves to gifts we would like to receive!

Here are a few ideas to get you started making this Father's Day special. Most of the gifts mentioned below can be engraved and/or personalized and can be found at Red Envelope Gifts for Dads

I was sent the Leather Excursion Messenger Bag. I'll give you a review later—keep reading...

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First, know that Red Envelope has every dad-gentleman in your life covered—whether he's:

As I mentioned above, I recieved the Leather Excursion Bag a couple of weeks ago. I'm finding it to be a great bag for daily use. 

Excerpt from Red Envelope will make you want the bag: Inspired by wartime cavalry bags and map satchels, this everyday workhorse is crafted from the finest quality top-grain leather and develops a luxurious softness and patina over time. Pen, cell phone and wallet compartments keep the necessities in reach.

Allow me to share a few things that stood out about my experience with Red Envelope:

1. My gift was shipped very carefully and with a special, personalized letter.

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2. The smell of leather! When I opend the box to my new bag, the lovely smell of leather filled my office. I still smell manly after walking around with my bag for the last couple of weeks.

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3. The details and stitching are eye-catching.

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4. The bag has plenty of storage for everyday use.

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Some details on the bag:

  • crafted from soft, full-grain leather
  • antiqued bronze hardware
  • interior includes pen holders, 2 pockets large enough for a cell phone and a wallet
  • dust cover included
  • may be personalized with up to three characters
  • 50"L shoulder strap
  • 16 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 12"H
Whether a bag is on your list or not—be sure you treat the dad in your life like the gentleman he is—for these special and personalized gift ideas and many more—find Red Envelope on Twitter and Facebook.

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Disclosure: Red Envelope provided NFI with the bag and sponsored this post.

When Dad's in Jail—He's Still Dad: NFI Connects Father to Family

“I never had my dad or nobody tell me they were proud of me until this program..." —William Jones, recent graduate of NFI's InsideOut Dad, the skill-building program for incarcerated fathers. 

At National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), we often speak of our two approaches to engaging society about fatherhood. 1) Top-down: through communications campaigns and social media and 2) Bottom-up: our "boots on the ground" -- our work with community-based organizations and other civic partners to train and equip leaders to better serve the fathers in their communities.

One such example is our work in jails and prisons. The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently featured a program that's impacting the capital city of Virginia. The city jail uses our InsideOut Dad material that helps prisoners to be better dads. Read the following story; it shows what we really do.  

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“The goal is to get everybody to communicate with their kids, to relearn some parenting skills you never knew you had,” Fries said. At the completion ceremony, the men shared how the program affected them. Below are excerpts from the news article:

  • Ronnell Glasgow, 26, said he grew up without his father in his life and was repeating that pattern with his own children, daughters ages 7 and 9.
  • Glasgow is behind bars at the Richmond City Jail, but even when he was out he said he thought giving them material things was enough.
  • Just weeks into a fatherhood skills training program at the jail, Glasgow said he had reached out to his own emotionally distant father and was communicating more with his daughters, who he said are no longer shy around him.
  • “I understand the importance of not having a father,” Glasgow said, adding that with his own father he was “building a relationship as a father and a man.”
  • One man described having a 15-minute telephone conversation with his daughter, who he rarely spoke to before. 
  • Another described overcoming fear of rejection and reaching out to an adult daughter and his surprise at her welcoming response. 
  • Another talked about writing to his 6-year-old son and getting a reply.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that one recent graduate said after the program, “Being there for my kids is better than any gift,” said William Jones, 22, father of four children. Jones is in jail on a probation violation and plans to enter an addiction-treatment program when he is released.

A new 12-week session of InsideOut Dad at the Richmond City jail starts tomorrow (Tuesday). What's the prison nearest you doing to teach fathers the skills they need to be better dads?

The Father Factor Blog

Image: [Daniel Sangjib Min/TIMES-DISPATCH] Dennis Fries (left) an instructor for the InsideOut Dad program, gets a hug from William Jones, a participant in the class who wants better relationships with his four children.

Moms Should “Lean In” …to Fatherhood

business woman 320 resized 600The mommy wars continue. Should today’s women dedicate themselves more to their careers so they can “catch up” to men – to “lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg suggests – or should they dedicate themselves more to motherhood because their kids need them?  

How about a third way?  

I propose that if moms want to do better at both parenting and work, they have to “lean in” to fatherhood.  

Yes, moms should do as much as they can to support the involvement of their children’s fathers in their children’s lives, because it will help them thrive at both home and in their careers.  


Research shows that two of the most powerful predictors of father involvement are mom’s perception of dad’s competence and the quality of their relationship with each other. In other words, moms can act as gatekeepers or gateways; they are largely responsible for either facilitating father involvement or holding it back.   

When fatherhood is “held back” – when fathers are unable or unwilling to embrace the fullness of their roles – moms become disproportionately responsible for what is happening at home. And, logically, if mom is responsible for a disproportionate share of the tasks at home, it is going to be harder for her to dedicate herself at work as much as she may need to.  

My own situation paints a picture. My wife and I both work full time, and my wife is fully supportive of my role as a dad. She lets me do things my way. I typically leave for work later than her and get home earlier than her, so I usually take our son to daycare and pick him up at the end of the day, I usually give him breakfast in the morning, and I usually cook dinner at night. He has Type 1 Diabetes, so I have to do what is needed to care for that complicated disease.   

Because my wife trusts me to do these things with a level of competence, she is thriving in her career. When the daycare calls and there is an issue with our son, I usually take care of it, not because my wife is a bad mother, but because she is an hour away, and I am 5 minutes away. In other words, my wife rarely has to take off from work or leave work early to care for our son during the workday.   

As an auditor who has to travel around the region quite a bit, if she was forced by circumstance (my absence) or choice (a belief that she parents better than me) to be the go-to parent for our son’s needs, her career would suffer. Neither her boss nor her clients would be able to count on her to be where she needs to be, when she needs to be there.  

Furthermore, when she comes home from work, she doesn’t have to do all the housework and childcare by herself. We work together; she lets me contribute even though I do things differently. Thus, she is able to focus not just on “housekeeping,” but on being a mommy.  

You may be thinking that moms obviously want help from dads. I think you are right, but it is part of human nature that we don’t always behave in a way that will get us what we really want. For example, mom wants dad to help at bath time, but vehemently criticizes him for using too much soap, so he is now reluctant to ever help at bath time again (this is a true story).  

So, the key then is to help moms align their desires (more help from dad so she can thrive at home and work) with their behaviors (acting as gateways to father involvement rather than gatekeepers) so that moms, dads, and most importantly, kids, are getting what they need.  

understanding dadWell, NFI has “an app” for that. We just launched a new line of products and services designed to help mothers support father involvement.  

Based on feedback from hundreds of organizations around the country using NFI’s signature fatherhood programs, the new materials will help mothers successfully navigate their relationships with the fathers of their children. Specifically, it will give moms the knowledge and skills they need to effectively communicate with the fathers of their children and to understand the critical role fathers play in children’s lives. Understanding Dad™: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms is the flagship curriculum anchoring this new initiative.  

This is just another way that NFI is responding to what is happening in our culture with practical, timely solutions that move people from inspiration (something needs to be done!) to implementation (here is an actual program that we can start using today!).

Question: What do you think is the most difficult thing about parenting? 

Download a Sample of the New Understanding Dad™ Program

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: Victor1558

PA is 25th State to Standardize NFI's InsideOut Dad®

Facilities Across Pennsylvania Have Been Equipped to Deliver NFI’s InsideOut Dad® Program to Connect Incarcerated Fathers With Their Children

nfi logoNational Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has trained 37 Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) staff members on how to deliver NFI’s InsideOut Dad® program to incarcerated fathers across Pennsylvania.

The training took place at a Training Academy in Elizabethtown, PA on January 15 and 16 following the decision of PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel to standardize InsideOut Dad® at the state’s 24 adult male correctional facilities and 1 boot camp facility. The training equipped treatment specialists, corrections counselors, and chaplains to deliver the classroom-based curriculum to fathers seeking to reconnect with their children. The curriculum covers topics such as family history, what it means to be a man, showing and handling feelings, co-parenting, and much more.

Michael Yudt, NFI’s Senior Director of Program Support Services, who delivered the training, said, “The training revealed a great deal of excitement among Pennsylvania Department of Corrections staff for this type of program, aimed at helping inmate dads reconnect and strengthen their relationships with their children. In fact, one facilitator plans to delay her retirement until she has a chance to run InsideOut Dad® for a year.”

Pennsylvania is the 25th U.S. state to “standardize” InsideOut Dad® -- the nation’s only evidence-based program designed specifically for working with incarcerated fathers -- across its state correctional facilities. An independent study by Rutgers University qualified InsideOut Dad® as evidence-based, proving its effectiveness in building fathers’ knowledge and confidence in being better fathers, even while incarcerated.

"When individuals come to prison, not only does the community suffer, often their children, innocent victims in the situation, pay a toll. This program addresses the need for male offenders to stand up, face their responsibilities, and truly be a man in every sense of the word. Not only do we need this program, society does, as 90% of our men will return to our communities one day," said Secretary Wetzel.

SCI-Mahanoy, a facility in Frackville, PA, has been running InsideOut Dad® and was instrumental in arranging for implementation across the entire state. As a result of the training, each of the 25 facilities aims to offer InsideOut Dad® once per quarter as a voluntary program for inmates, with state-mandated eligibility criteria in place for fathers seeking to participate in the program.

Get a FREE Sample of InsideOut Dad®

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

One Dad's Favorites from The Washington Auto Show

My wife recently surprised me with tickets to the Washington Auto Show in DC. Car shows have been a part of my life for many years. My dad has taken me to several classic car shows and I've watched him operate in the garage to restore several cars through the years. My dad will tell you he and I "worked together" to restore a 1970 Chevelle. Truth be told—he restored a Chevelle—I watched a Chevelle get restored! Nevertheless, I've always connected with my dad over cars; and my connection with cars is through my dad. If my dad didn't love cars—neither would I. 

Given my appreciation of cars, below are a few of my favorites from the Washington Auto Show. Scroll through the pictures and tell us in the comments: what was the first car you ever owned?

Toyota Sequoia
The Toyota Sequoia, which offers seating for up to eight in a full-size, full-capability sport-utility vehicle (SUV), adds new family-friendly entertainment features for 2013. The Sequoia debuts a Toyota-first Blu-Ray rear seat entertainment system, and 2013 also marks the first full year of Toyota Entune™ availability.

sequoia, cars, trucks, interior

Built on an exclusive platform that uses body-on-frame construction, the Toyota Sequoia features four-wheel independent suspension to help provide great ride quality, handling and straight-line control. The 2013 Sequoia is available in SR5, Limited and Platinum grades (shown in images), and all models for 2013 make the 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 standard. The Sequoia model line offers the choice of 2WD and 4WD. In select areas, Sequoia 4x4 models feature E85 Flex Fuel capability.

sequoia, suv, car, truck

Premium HDD Navigation with Entune® and JBL— includes 7-in. high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen capability and integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, 14JBL® GreenEdgespeakers including subwoofer, SiriusXM Radio, HD Radio with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology. Aslo, there's two cup-holders in each of the back doors!

sequoia, car interior, truck, suv

Ford Explorer
The 2013 Ford Explorer is nice. To help you handle every road condition, there’s the available Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System.™ For your peace of mind, Curve Control, an enhancement to AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control,™ delivers enhanced control in turns. The Explorer offers up to seven-passenger seating capacity and seats that fold down for cargo space on demand – up to 80.7 cubic feet of space. While some manufactors are difficult to fold the seats for storage, the Explorer was simple and easy.

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The 2013 Explorer features some new and innovative features. For example, there are lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist to help keep you in control. Explorer features the world’s first automotive production inflatable rear safety belts that spread crash forces over more areas of the body compared the safety belts you have in your car!

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Okay, let's talk technology. Take, for example, available SYNC® with MyFord Touch® – the easy-to-use in-car connectivity system. With simple voice commands, you can make phone calls, choose music, control your climate and more without taking your eyes off the road. Another feature, the available voice-activated Navigation System with integrated SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link, provides weather forecasts, traffic updates, fuel prices – even movie times.

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Chevy Tahoe
Chevrolet Tahoe
is a full-size SUV that offers plenty of space and an estimated at 21 mpg on the highway. Three rows of seating are standard on all models. The second row is available as a three-passenger bench with a 60/40 split or two bucket seats. A good option to have for families. Another nice option, the third row features a 50/50-split design and is removable. A power-assisted second row seat release feature is available on LT.

Technology? How about USB ports, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, OnStar® Directions & Connections®, Rear Vision Camera and Bluetooth® wireless technology for select phones.

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GMC Acadia Denali
The 2013 Acadia Denali comes complete with the latest technology. Innovations like the standard Color Touch radio with IntelliLink, and touch controls make your drive easy.

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There's interior space for 7 or 8 passengers to truly ride in comfort, Acadia Denali is ready to fit you and your family. Standard Denali features include: 

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with mahogany wood grain trim
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Power, heated and cooled front driver and passenger seats
  • Premium Bose® Audio System
  • 8-way power driver and front passenger seat
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Chevy Camaro
So, you can't fit your family in it, but what would a car show be (or a review) without a muscle car?! The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an "everyday supercar." Motivated by the supercharged LSA small-block V-8 producing 580 horsepower, it is the "fastest, most capable Camaro ever," with performance that includes:

  • 0-60 mph in four seconds
  • Top speed of 184 mph
  • 11-second quarter-mile ETs (11.93 with the automatic / 11.96 with the manual transmission)

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What was the first car you ever owned?

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5 LEGO Inspired Foods for a Fancy Party

This is a guest post by Carlo Pandian. Carlo is a freelance writer based in London who writes on parenting, cooking and all things LEGO. If you would like to blog for us, email here.

Despite the global domination of the computer game, LEGO remains an eternally popular hands-on toy for kids. Of course it’s not just a toy, nor is it just for kids, and plenty of teens and adults have proved that sculpture is not confined to the world of bronze and/or structural steelwork. You can create some amazing displays in LEGO, and for those with a family obsessed with these diminutive plastic bricks the good news is that LEGO-themed foods are easy to create. Whether it’s a kid’s birthday or just for fun, these LEGO-inspired tasty treats are easy to, erm, construct. 

Basic Modelling
The shape of LEGO blocks is probably what makes them an ideal basis for a range of foods.  Forgetting the mini-figures for the moment, the basic structure is very blocky! The studs on the top are relatively easy to create with a range of ingredients and a little imagination. 

Let them Eat Cake
LEGO cakeAdmittedly, Marie-Antoinette and her family were not overly fond of blocks but, LEGO fan or not, who doesn’t love a cake or two? Sponge, of any variety, can easily be baked in the required rectangular shape or, alternatively, a large square sponge can be cut into a range of different sized blocks. Circular sponge sections can then be placed to mimic the studs and the whole confection covered in suitable icing colored in bright primary colors like LEGO itself. 

Made for Lego?
LEGO marshmellowIf bite-size Rice Krispie squares weren’t designed to be adapted into a LEGO-themed treat then I can’t image what was going through the head of their creator. Again, it’s easy to cut the stud sections and apply them to the squares using melted chocolate. If you use a basic white chocolate mix you can add appropriate coloring, to create the final constructed confection.  These are great served up on a plate or can be popped onto lollipop sticks – either way they tend to shift quickly, so make plenty. 

Helping Hands
LEGO lollipopThese are a combination of the above. Small pieces of cakes decorated with Smarties, to create the studs, can be covered in melted chocolate to create the desired form. Cake pops are not only popular at kid’s parties but also tend to be one of those activities that younger members of the family enjoy getting involved in. When preparing them you’ll need plenty of greaseproof paper to place the setting pops on, and plenty of kitchen-towel to wipe the kids with. A change of clothing is also a handy ingredient. 

Healthy Alternatives Kids Will Eat
LEGO watermelonFor those involved in the long-term battle of getting healthy fresh fruit and vegetables into smaller people, the watermelon is heaven sent. Sticky, juicy and tasty it appeals to kids in its natural form but can also be easily sculpted into melon-pops. Cut into squares and sculpt the Lego studs with an apple corer. It’s a good idea to chill these, to resemble lollipops, but also to reduce at least some of the sticky/messy content that develops when you add a child.  

LEGO breadMini-figures are not, it has to be said, the easiest object to sculpt in any edible media, but sandwiches can provide an excellent solution. These can be cut into mini-figurine head shapes and the tops decorated with a range of expressions, using a little of the filling of choice.

Mom and dad: What have you built with your kids recently?

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs on free time activities, parenting and LEGO covering everything from LEGOLAND Discovery Center attractions in Dallas to teaching recycling to children. When he’s not online, Carlo likes cooking, gardening and cycling in the countryside.

My Apology to My Junkyard Dawg Dad

This is a guest post by Larry Elder. He is author of Dear Father, Dear Son now available for order on If you would like to blog for us, email here.

Heard of Tiger Moms? I had a Junkyard Dawg Dad. 

For a very long time, I hated him. His anger. His volatility. His surliness. Today, they’d use the term “emotionally unavailable.” 

Larry Elder

“Dear Father, Dear Son,” my new book, is a 247-page apology to this very special, WWII retired Marine, my father. I knew virtually nothing of his life, and never had a conversation with him, until I was 25.

From the time I was fifteen -- when my father and I had a big, long-time-coming fight -- until ten years later, we did not speak to each other. I wanted nothing to do with this volatile person who, for reasons that escaped me, managed to marry my mother. Our little home, where my two brothers and I slept in the same bedroom, instantly became a place of tension the moment Dad set foot in the front door. Was it supposed to be like this?

After ten years I sat down and talked to the man -- for eight hours. 

Why, I wanted to know, were you so damn angry all the time? Why did you whip the three of us -- my two brothers and me -- so furiously? Did you know that the three of us were scared to death of you? Did know that this fear crossed into hatred? Did you care? Does this even matter to you?

An only child, my father was a black boy born to an illiterate single mom in a rented room in Athens, Georgia. He was a child on the eve of the Great Depression in the Jim Crow South. He did not know his birth date, and used the one arbitrarily written down by a teacher when he started school.

He never met his biological father. His mom raised him with a series of boyfriends, one of whom was a man named Elder. That man never married my dad’s mother. Worse, he was an alcoholic who beat both my dad and his mom. 

One day my dad came home from school and made too much noise for his mother and her then-boyfriend. They all quarreled, his mom siding with the boyfriend. My dad was thrown out of his house at age 13 -- never to return. A year later the Great Depression began.

He dropped out of school and looked for work wherever he could find it. After a series of jobs as a yard boy, shoeshine boy, hotel valet and cook, he finally landed a prestigious job as a Pullman porter, then the largest private employer of blacks in the country. It was as a Pullman porter that Dad first visited California. He thought of it as a less prejudiced place, loved the climate, and made a promise to someday return. 

After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Marines. Why the Marines, I asked? “I liked the uniforms,” he told me, “and they seemed to always go where the action was.” So they made him a cook. 

He trained at Montford Point, the segregated Marine base next to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was soon put in charge of food services, and became a staff sergeant, stationed on Guam in the south Pacific. 

But when discharged, he could not find work as a cook despite his now-considerable experience. He went to an unemployment office in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he was instructed by a white clerk to walk through the “proper door.” So he goes out into the hall, goes through the “colored only” door to the very same clerk who told him to go through the "proper door.” “Now, how may I help you?” she said.

There has to be better place than here, he thought. Dad left for California.

Restaurants in Los Angeles did not tell him -- as they did in the South -- that he’d not be hired because of his race. Instead, they refused to hire because, as he was told, “You have no references.” 

He worked two full-time jobs as a janitor, and attended night school to get a G.E.D. He averaged less than four-and-a-half hours of sleep for years. Pressure, lack of sleep, “running from job to class,” he told me, makes a man a little grumpy and impatient -- especially when raising three loud boys with a stay-at-home wife. 

He worked so hard, he said, because he never had a father, a secure home and “food in the icebox” to come home to after school. “So,” he said, “I did my best to give you kids what I never had.” He told me that growing up without “a real father in the house” was not a death sentence. If you work hard, and people “see you struggling,” they will help. But it’s up to you to play the cards you are dealt the best way you can. And the best way is through hard work.

Randolph Elder lived to see the completion of this book. He died two months before what we believe would have been his 96th birthday. I got a chance to read “Dear Father, Dear Son” to him. His verdict? “I have no idea,” he laughed, “why anyone would care about my little life.”

They care, Dad. For those born and raised in tough circumstances, you show the path: While we cannot control our circumstances, we are in complete control of our effort.

What would you tell your dad if you could sit down with him like Larry did his father?

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A Busy Mom Talks Fatherhood’s New Parenting Tool

Amiyrah Martin is like most parents; she’s super busy. A self-professed “double booker,” she admits to giving a verbal RSVP to one party, then checking her busy schedule to see that her family is already expected at another place. In her blog 4 Hats and Frugal, she tells the honest parenting truth and confesses, “I've even double booked at the Pediatrician.”

busy scheduleBeing a parent of one child is busy enough. Add more children to the mix and the busy-ness grows by leaps and bounds. So how do parents manage everything and still have time for tracking a child’s development and growth? The simple answer is: we need all the help we can get!

Amiyrah writes, “It’s easier than ever before to use technology for aligning busy family schedules, from calendars on a computer to apps on a phone, but there’s not a lot of tech-savvy ways to keep up with your child’s growth.” She also points out that while doctors may do a great job of informing and preparing parents during the visit to the office, it’s not always easy to stay informed between doctor visits. She says, “Usually I've just written down upcoming milestones as a note in my phone, or on a piece of paper, always wondering if there was an online tool I could use.”

Thankfully, her online tool is here now! NFI’s Countdown to Growing Up allows you to track your child’s growth and save your questions as a PDF for your next doctor’s visit and to review on your mobile device or computer. You can also print your child’s chart if you like!

Take it from one busy mom: “Let's face it: even though we live busy lives, education about our children's health is top priority. It's essential to their development as a little person and our development as great parents.” Amiyrah continues, “Countdown to Growing Up provides a place where we can document milestones, track growth compared with the "average" child, while giving ideas to help development and suggesting questions we can ask the Doc next time we visit. And yes, it's information you can save, and print!” 

countdown to growing upYou can read Amiyrah’s full blog about Countdown to Growing Up at the link below. Don’t forget to take the short survey and give us your opinion of the tool. As Amiyrah says in her post, “And don't be shy: use the heck out of this tool. I plan on doing the same.”

How to do track your child’s growth and development between doctor’s visits? 

Amiyrah is a Wife, Mother, Airman in the US Air Force and all around Frugal maven. Learn more about Amiyrah at her site 4 Hats and Frugal.

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photo credit: David Robert Wright

A Doctor's Advice on the Question: Is My Kid Normal?

As a parent, the questions about your child never end. There was probably a time when you thought that once your child was delivered, they'd end. But unfortunately, you were wrong. In fact, the questions only begin once Baby Boy or Baby Girl arrives. And as your child grows, so do the questions you have about their development. From day one, parents begin to wonder how their son or daughter compares to other children.

Countdown to Growing UpEnter the doctor's office.

As a parent, you will have to take your child to the doctor, and guess what your child's doctor will do? That's right, he or she will ask you questions about the growth of your child. At the end of the visit, he or she will typically provide you with a chart comparing your child to every other child in the United States. Sounds daunting? It is. But there is something you can do.

Enter Countdown to Growing Up. Writing on his blog, Dr. Choi, a pediatrician and father in San Fransico opens up about what he sees daily from well-meaning parents at his practice. He reveals, aside from the fearful child asking him, "Are you going to give me a shot?, the second most common question he receives is from parents asking, “Is my kid normal?”

In Dr. Choi's recent post, Is My Kid Normal?, he writes openly about how a typical patient visit goes, starting with his questions to the parent about what the child can and cannot do. Often, Choi says, when a dad brings in the child, he receives blank stares in response to questions like: “How many words can your child use in a sentence?" or  “Can she follow two-step commands?” These visits, Choi says, usually end with dad calling the child's mother.

But Dr. Choi isn't all gloom and doom with dads. He makes it clear that dads play a critical role in a child’s development and health, pointing to new research studies showing just how important dads are to the health of their children.

In fact, Dr. Choi recommends NFI's Countdown to Growing Up tool to help the busy dad or mom get a sense for whether or not their child is “normal." Choi tells his readers to get online, add your child’s name, gender, and click on the age group. Then, out pops a questionnaire on child development.

When it comes to child development, tracking your child's growth physcially and socially is important, and although your child may not be progressing at the exact same pace as your friend's kids, its important that they are progressing. And isn't it cool that dads (and moms) can play a role in helping their children grow by engaging them in activities to spur them along?

After reviewing the new tool, Choi says: "It is a great way to stop and evaluate how your child is developing and start thinking about how you can help. Print it out and bring it with you to your child’s next doctor’s appointment. Now you are fully prepared for your child’s visit and can confidently answer whether or not your child is “normal”.  You won’t even have to call their mother."

Dr. Choi is a board certified pediatrician based in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Physicians Alliance and is a national leader of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition to his role as physican and family man, he writes at The Huffington Post and on his blog. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.

Countdown to Growing UpCountdown to Growing Up helps dads (and moms!) know about what to expect and not to expect in terms of child growth over the months and years. You can use the tool to make notes and save or print your child's chart to take with you to your next doctor's visit. Be sure to click on the Complete Survey button and give us your feedback.

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photo credit: foshydog

NFI Launches Update of InsideOut Dad

National Fatherhood Initiative annouces the release of an updated version of InsideOut Dad®, the nation’s only evidence-based program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers.

InsideOut Dad Second EditionNFI’s team of fatherhood experts incorporated practitioner feedback and evaluation data from around the country to refresh the program, which is already standardized programming in 24 states and New York City.

InsideOut Dad® Second Edition is designed to reduce recidivism rates by reconnecting incarcerated fathers to their families, providing the motivation inmate fathers need to get out and stay out.

For example, a three-year study by the Indiana Department of Corrections found that fatherhood programs such as InsideOut Dad® were linked to prisoner return rates of less than 20%, compared to a national rate of nearly 38%.

These reductions in recidivism can lead to enormous cost savings for taxpayers and the criminal justice system. Nationally, the annual cost of incarceration per inmate is between $25,000 and $40,000. The cost to take an incarcerated father through the InsideOut Dad® program could be as little as $40.

Used by both inmates and ex-offenders, InsideOut Dad® has been proven, through an extensive evaluation by Rutgers University, to improve inmate knowledge and attitudes. Hundreds of state and federal facilities, pre-release programs, community organizations, and more are using this life-changing reentry program. Facilities such as Angola State Prison in Louisiana, the Rikers Island complex in New York, and U.S. Penitentiary Leavenworth in Kansas are among the notable facilities that have run the program for inmate fathers.

Through practical, engaging material delivered in 12 core sessions and 4 optional sessions, InsideOut Dad® increases inmates' self-worth and gives them valuable relationship skills. It covers topics such as Being a Man, Co-Parenting and Communication, Men’s Health, and Children’s Growth and Discipline.

National Fatherhood Initiative started working with incarcerated fathers in 1999, leading to the release of the first edition of InsideOut Dad® in 2004. Through its use in over 400 correctional facilities over the years, NFI’s fatherhood experts gathered user feedback to create the second edition, a more content-rich, user-friendly, and engaging curriculum for fathers, which now includes video and other activities to maximize its impact.

More information on InsideOut Dad® Second Edition can be found at

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