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The Father Factor


The Risks of Teen Driving & What Dad Can Do (Infographic)

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., killing more teens than suicide and homicide combined. Understanding how to prevent these crashes is critical, particularly right now. The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.  

home 21

I don't remember exactly how old I was, maybe 17. I had not been driving for longer than a year. It was my junior year of high school. Driving home from school, the weather was beautiful and sunny. I had four people in my '89 Honda Accord and thought I was so cool. That faithful day, I learned two lessons about teen driving.

  1. Don't follow too closely: I ran smack into the car in front of me that day. I was quickly told by the kind police officer that—pretty much anytime a person runs into another car—it's the person driving the car with the crashed front bumper's fault.
  2. Don't have a car-load of people in your car. You can't be responsible for all of those people if you have an accident.

So, my point in telling you this is to point out that, as parents, there is more to teaching your child about driving than simply passing a driving test. Dad, you must be intentional about teaching your teen to be responsible with his/her vehicle.

The National Safety Council explains driver safety in two ways:

1. Know the Teen Driving Risks

  • Driving is dangerous: The year your teen get his driver's license is the most exciting—and dangerous—year of his life.
  • Lack of practice: Inexperience is the leading cause of teen crashes.
  • Distractions: From cell phones to applying makeup, it's vital your teen stay focused on driving.
  • Scanning the road: There's only about three seconds—one to recognize the hazard—two to react. But you can't react to something you don't see. Discuss the importance of looking out for potential hazards constantly.
  • Unsafe speed: Teens often break the speed limit just for fun, but it's vital he/she understands the importance of knowing the speed limit wherever he/she drives.
  • Passengers: How many teens can safely ride with new drivers? None!
  • Seatbelt use: Seatbelts save lives. That is all.
  • Night driving: 16 and 17 year olds are three time more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash at night.
  • Impaired driving: From drinking, drugs and drowsiness—all 50 states have zero tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving for a reason

2. Know What You Can Do

You can help reduce your teen's driving risk. Simply staying involved with your teen goes a long way toward keeping your teen safe. Here are five things to keep in mind:
  • Practice with your teen: sit beside them often as they drive—both before and after your teen gets her license. 
  • Set a good example: drive the way you want your teen to drive. Remember, they don't stop learning once they get their license.
  • Sign a parent-teen agreement: a written agreement can help define expectations—for you and your teen.
  • Let your teen earn privileges: one of the best ways your teen can show he is ready for new privileges is to show they can handle the ones you have already given.
  • Let other parents know how you feel: once you know all the stats and ways to be more careful, get the word out by telling your friends. You will help your community by helping let others know what to watch out for regarding teens and driving.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has also recently launched a website for parents of teen drivers at Through videos, weekly driving tips and more, NSC wants to help parents navigate their teens driving experience.

Can't see video? Click here.

Please help spread the word about how to keep our teen drivers safe on our roads. Share this infographic with everyone you know who has teen drivers.

Teen Driving infographic

Connect with other dads of teen drivers:

Have you ever been involved in a car accident? How old were you?

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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?

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.

explorer 1 resized 600

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!

explorer 3 resized 600

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.

gmc resized 600

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
gmc1 resized 600


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)

camaro resized 600

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.

Join Us at "The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood"

flutieOn this Friday, unlike any other time in history, the wide world of sports and the world of fathers comes together!

Dove®Men+Care® and Dad 2.0 Summit are partnering for "The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood with Doug Flutie" and we couldn't be more excited to be a part of an event that will advance the public dialogue on responsible fatherhood.

As Dad 2.0 writes on a recent blog post:

"For football fans, you know Doug Flutie from the Hail Mary pass that beat Miami on national TV in 1984. You know about his subsequent 20-year career in the NFL, CFL, and USFL, despite the prevailing wisdom that he was too short to make it as a pro quarterback. You know about Flutie Flakes. What you may not know, however, is that Doug’s son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, and since 2000 the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation has raised more than $13 million to help improve the quality of life for people and families affected by autism. Doug is also part of Dove®Men+Care®’s latest “Journey to Comfort” campaign, which touches on fatherhood as never before. He’s amassed a lot of specific insights about how fatherhood changed his life, as it changes every man’s. And on October 26, he’s going to sit down with us and talk about them."

National Fatherhood Initiative has been invited to “The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood,” along with several dads who will explore, promote and champion fatherhood.

Join National Fatherhood Initiative and many other dads for the live-streamed broadcast on the Dove®Men+Care®Facebook page on Friday, October 26, at 10am Eastern. During the live-stream connect with the host and attendees by commenting on Facebook and tweeting to @DoveMenCare@dad2summit and of course @TheFatherFactor!

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

New Tool Makes Parenting Easier

If you are reading this, chances are good that you are already involved in your child’s life. Knowing this, we want to help make it easier for you to be involved and educated about the ages and stages of your child's development. We received such great feedback on our Ages and Stages Charts in the 24/7 Dad® curriculum - developed with contributions from Dr. Kyle Pruett and Dr. Yvette Warren - we decided to bring it you in a FREE online version!

The Countdown to Growing Up tool helps dads (and moms!) know about what to expect and not to expect in terms of child growth over the months and years.

Countdown to Growing Up

You can also use the tool to make notes and save or print out your child's chart to take with you to a pediatrician visit for discussion if desired. 
Be sure to click on the Complete Survey button once you have finished using the tool to give us your feedback. We'd GREATLY appreciate it! 

To begin, simply enter the name of your child, then select his/her gender and age. If you have more than one child, we will provide you with an opportunity to enter his/her/their name(s) and age(s) after entering the information for your first child.

Depending on your child’s age, you will be taken through statements to answer Yes or No/Unsure for three targets: Physical Growth, Mental/Emotional Growth and Social Growth.

Please note, this tool is customized to track ages from birth to 18+ years and older.

Countdown to Growing Up

For example, I chose to test "Fred," a five-year-old male for purposes of this review. For a five-year-old male, the Physical Growth milestone has statements like:

  • Grows 2-3 inches but gains as little as 2-4 pounds a year. Children grow and gain weight at very different rates.
  • Clearly right or left-handed.
  • Learns to tie shoes.

You as the parent simply clicks YES or NO/Unsure box for each statement.

Using "Fred" as the example, the Mental/Emotional Growth milestone asks:

  • Uses complete sentences with many words.
  • Learns to name coins, colors, days of week, months.
  • Takes basic care of self (dress, brush teeth).
  • Helps with simple chores.

For the Social Growth milestone, statements such as:

  • More settled and focused when with others.
  • Begins to notice the outside world and where/how belongs.
  • Enjoys doing things with parent of same sex.

Again, for you the mom and dad, it’s simple to click Yes or NO/Unsure for each item.

There is a section for "Additional Notes," which is optional for placing notes to yourself that will save and/or print with the PDF of the report.

Once you have chosen YES or NO/Unsure on each statement, you are taken to a list that reads: Milestones (Your Child) Has Reached. Below is an example from our test. Your report will be customized to your child's name, gender and age.


Countdown to Growing Up

Additionally, a section is automatically created for your customized report that reads Milestones (Your Child) Has Not Reach, your additional notes from the previous page have now been added to the report.

Lastly, on the same report is invaluable “Tips to Help (Your Child’s Name) Grow" from physicians. This is free expert advice targeted directly at your child's gender and aged based on the information you provided in answering the statements. These tips from physicians offer you expert advice for what to watch for in your child's development as well as tips to help you grow your child. 

Countdown to Growing Up

Notice at the bottom of the above image, you have four options for what you can do with the customized report of your child:

1) View PDF
2) Save as PDF
3) Track Another Child
4) Complete a Brief Survey 

Choosing “Save as PDF” will allow you to email it to yourself and then use it on your mobile device. For instance, if you have an iPhone or iPad, the PDF from your email can be saved in iBooks on your phone or iPad for easy, mobile and paperless reference at your child’s next doctor appointment.

There are two additional options, which are Track Another Child and Complete a Brief Survey. Please feel free to use this new and free tool for all of your children. Please also take a moment and complete our survey. We would love to hear feedback from you once you use the tool.

We know parents do not have a lot of time to study their children. We hope you this tool makes your life easier. Track your child’s growth today. Believe us, you will be prepared for your child's next visit to the doctor; and your doctor will never know how simple and easy it was for you!

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Dad’s Guide to Back-To-School Gadgets

Thank God kindergarteners don't need laptops. With my firstborn attending kindergarten soon, clothes and supplies are enough expense. You have no doubt seen the legendary lists of supplies from your child’s school by now. NFI may not be helpful as it pertains to fashion (considering our president has written extensively, and sadly in favor of, the fanny pack!). But as it pertains to tech and gadgets, we can offer our "expert" opinion. 


Whether it is gadgets for your university student or middle-school scholar, we are here to help you save a few dollars and use the time to connect with your child. See our ideas below on what to look out for in purchasing the lastest mobile devices in three categories: 


Dell UltrabookThe new Dell Inspiron Ultrabook (starts at $649) is one of the new "ultrabooks.” It's ultrathin, fast and is said to have a around seven hours of battery-life. Your child may want this laptop considering the offer of also getting an Xbox 360 with your purchase. Also, with your purchase, the machine comes with Windows 7 but Windows 8 can be purchased for $14.99 when you own Windows 7.

macbook airFor Mac families, there is the MacBook Air, starting at $999 for the 11-inch model (don’t forget: $949 with qualifying education discount). The new MacBooks come with OS X Mountain Lion, iLife, iWork and all the software your student will need. The 11-inch MacBook Air has an i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage (no hard drive) and at least five hours of non-stop, wifi-using battery life. This makes it one of the lightest laptops ever for carrying around in a backpack with other books all day. The MacBook Air also includes the popular FaceTime HD camera for HD 720p video calling. The Apple Store has Back to School deals that should not be missed. Deals include a $100 iTunes gift card with the purchase. And don't forget to ask about education pricing.

Apple continues to have the market cornered with regard to tablet devices. But depending on your student, you may find Google's Nexus Tablet the right fit.

apple new ipadThe new Apple iPad is a powerful and very mobile option. Honestly, dads, the iPad may be a better and cheaper option instead of a laptop for many students. It is the best-selling tablet for many reasons. iPad prices start at $499 for the Wi-Fi-only version and 16GB of storage. Apple’s Back to School deals include a $50 iTunes gift card with new iPad purchase. Remember, education pricing can be used for iPads (same as laptops) because Apple considers this mobile device the same as a personal computer. 

google nexus

If it’s a smaller touchscreen you desire, there is the 7-inch Google Nexus Tablet (which starts at $199 for 8GB) for the student in your house. Consider this option when mobility is valued over storage. It is a great option as long as you have storage elsewhere.

With so many different phones on the market, students can be very mobile and pack very lightly. From taking notes in class, recording lectures or calling parents, phones can be a very useful tool. For some wondering what phone is best for their student, you may find this helpful:

iphone 4sApple's iPhone 4S (starting $199 for 16GB with contract) and comes with a great camera and tons of features like Retina display. The iPhone also has FaceTime so you can see how your child is doing when each of you are in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

HTCAndroid lovers also have plenty of good choices when it comes to phones. The HTC One V boasts a 3.7-inch screen, a powerful battery and great camera that rivals the iPhone.

When shopping for back-to-school deals, it is a good time to consider asking for an all-in-one printer when purchasing a computer. Most retail stores will consider adding a wireless all-in-one printer when at the time of purchasing a new computer.

Consider these options and for the student in your family when chosing laptops, tablet devices and smartphones. Dad, get involved in the process of shopping with your child this year. Shopping for the best deal and learning about the best device for your child can be a good time of connecting.

Discuss what is most important and useful in the devices with your child. Even though it is money from your pocket, try making it an enjoyable and teachable experience. Your child will remember these back-to-school shopping days. I haven't forgotten back-to-school shopping as a kid. Please, someone reading this, remind my future self of this post when my daughters ask for laptops. Happy shopping, dads!

What is one gadget the scholar in your family wants this year?

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