And it’s that wonderful time of the year again where we review the latest and greatest online advent calendars. To kick things off we’re excited to report that our hometown has finally got in on the tradition and has launched its very own advent calendar. So fittingly – here’s Wellington advent calendar for 2013!
Check it out with your kids at: advent.wellingtonnz.com
Guest post by Alex Summers
It seems like just yesterday you were explaining to your young children where babies come from (perhaps using this hilarious vintage illustrated guide). Now they’re a bit older and you have to tackle an even harder issue: how to avoid STDs.
Here’s how I handled the conversation with each of my two children. I have to admit, I kinda screwed up the first one.
The scene: My son’s bedroom in our Denver, Colo. home.
Me: Hi, Devon.
Devon, Age 15: Dad, you have to knock.
I knock, even though Devon can see me in the doorway. This is a bad start; I’m now beginning the conversation from a point of weakness.
Me: Um, so I wanted to tell you… you know you’re growing older, and…
Devon: Is this a sex thing? I already know about sex.
Me: Well, I actually wanted to talk about STDs.
Devon: I already know about STDs.
Devon looks at me as if realizing his dad is the biggest idiot on the planet, for assuming he doesn’t know about STDs. Humiliated, I leave.
That was the extent of my conversation with my son Devon about STDs. I wanted to tell him so much more; that we would love him no matter what happened to him, that we wanted him to make good choices, that sex was a huge responsibility that had to be handled appropriately — but not, of course, until he was much older! I wanted to tell him that he needed to get himself tested before every new relationship; that there were many STD clinics in the greater Denver area and that it wasn’t embarrassing to go get tested, it was actually part of being a real man and a good partner. It helped to know that our family lived less than a mile from a clinic offering the best STD testing Denver has to offer.
I never got to tell my son these things. I pulled a typical dad move and left the rest of his sex education to his mother.
Then Devon’s sister Abby entered her teenage years. As psychology studies note, a teenage girl’s relationship with her father is crucial to helping her navigate the road to adulthood. Without a positive, affirming, loving father in her life, my dear Abby would be more likely to look for that affirmation from other sources, including from boys that might not treat her like the special person I knew she was.
Here’s how the conversation went this time:
The scene: me driving Abby home from band practice. As many parents quickly learn, cars are often the best places for parents to talk to their children about important issues.
Me: Abby, I want to talk to you about something important, but I want to do it in a way where we don’t feel embarrassed.
Abby, Age 15: Okay.
Me: The teachers at school said that in your sophomore year, some kids start experimenting with sex.
Abby immediately gets a little uncomfortable.
Me: It’s okay, that’s kind of the age when everyone starts talking about sex. Including me. You’re becoming a sophomore, so I’m going to start talking about it too!
I accompany this statement with a huge grin. Abby begins to relax.
Me: Well, what I really want to talk to you about right now is STDs. I know I’m going to sound like an idiot, but you know that you can get diseases, right?
Me: You’re going to hear a lot of people say that wearing condoms is enough to protect you from disease, but there are some types of STDs that you can get even while wearing a condom. What I’m saying is that when you’re ready to start having sex — which I hope you’re going to be responsible about and wait for — you need to be really careful about spreading disease.
Abby: What do you mean?
Me: I mean that if someone asks you to have sex and doesn’t want to wear a condom, you have to say no. And even with condoms, you need to get yourself regularly tested for STDs. There are clinics all around the city, or you can go to your gynecologist. Or you can talk to your mom or me. We won’t be mad, I promise. We just want to help you stay safe and healthy. We’re all on the same team.
Then Abby smiled. She actually smiled! Score one for Dad.
Even the most trustworthy STD testing Denver teens have their disposal won’t matter if you don’t talk to them about it. Talking about sex and STDs can be awkward and embarrassing, but it’s something that all parents have to do. What I’ve found is that approaching the sex talk from a place of love, and not devaluing your child’s intelligence, is the best way to make this conversation a success.
How about you? How have you handled the big sex talk?
By Alex Summers
Guest post by Hari Apostolides
It has come, the announcement that so many of us have been waiting for – filming for series three of the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes has been completed and we can hardly wait for it (and Benedict Cumberbatch’s wistful looks) to hit our screens once more.
The televised masterpiece brings the traditional character conceived by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into the 21st century, as he uses modern technology to solve crimes in modern-day London, in a critically acclaimed coupling of the old and the new.
What will people be doing, then, to celebrate the new series? Perhaps staging a marathon sit-in watching the first two back-to-back? Alternatively, the keener fans may want to recreate this melange of the old and the new by giving their home a Sherlock Holmes update. After all, interior design heralding from this era was – and is – very trendy indeed.
So how to do this? Well, the periods to consider are that of the Victorians – which straddles the turn of the century – and the Edwardians. In terms of styles, you will hear two movements being talked about: namely, Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau.
The Arts & Crafts period started in England towards the beginning of the 19th century, flourishing around the 1850s/60s and lasting up until Art Nouveau took over around the turn of the century, morphing into Art Deco as tassled flappers came out to play in the 1920s.
That said, it is worth mentioning that there is little point trying to define these artistic movements and periods between two set dates, as their influences were discernible long after the historians may have officially declared a movement over.
What is so perfect about Victorian style is that it can be so seamlessly brought up to the modern day – just like Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have done with our much-loved detective in their award-winning television series.
Combine influences from the Arts & Crafts movement and that of the Nouveau era – with some European flavours, most notably from Paris – and you’re already on the right lines.
Think mould detailing, beautiful cornices and fancy fireplaces – perhaps made to look all the more intricate with some delicate paintwork, should you choose.
As for colours, burgundy, navy and plum hues, rich rubies, and elegant emeralds and greens were all popular at the time and – if you want your room to look extra plush – then why not incorporate a touch of golden detailing?
With the design as much about the architecture as it is about the furnishings in the room itself, this affords you a little more flexibility when it comes to furniture. However, for true Sherlock chic, nothing can beat some solid mahogany furniture – from a retailer such as Woodlands Furniture - to give a room that sense of timeless grandeur.
Especially somewhere like a study (after all, isn’t that where we all sit and solve life’s little mysteries?) or – if you are lucky enough to have one – a library or snug reading room, a beautiful mahogany desk or coffee table will instantly lift the room. What’s more, you don’t even have to part with eye-watering sums of cash for such pieces, as replica furniture from a good retailer will cost a fraction of the price and still look absolutely fantastic.
By Hari Apostolides
It’s 4pm on Halloween and you’re down to the wire … no costume and cranky kids … what do you do? Fear not – DIYFather is here to help. Here are 3 ideas for costumes with stuff you already have in the house:
1. THE SUPER EASY & QUICK OPTION: Be a mummy – get some toilet paper and wrap your kid in it. Done.
2. THE 15 MINUTES OPTION WITH BALLOONS AND BAGS: Be a bag of Jelly Beans – wear white tights or skinny trousers, blow up a few balloons (small) in various colors. Attach the balloons to the body suit using tape. Take a clear trash bag, put the balloons inside, create arm holes in the bag and put your kids’ arms through. Gather up the top of the bag and tie some ribbon around the bag at the neck. Done.
3. THE SOMEWHAT INVOLVED 60 MINUTES OPTION THAT REQUIRES AN OLD BLACK UMBRELLA AND BLACK FELT: Be a bat – (you will need an umbrella, black felt, a needle and some thread for this costume). Dress in dark pants and a dark hooded sweatshirt. Remove the handle from a small umbrella and then cut the umbrella in half. These are your two wings. Sew the cut edge of each half of the umbrella to the back of the arms of the sweatshirt. Cut out tall pointy ears from the black felt and sew them to the hood of the sweatshirt. If you have some black face paint – use it and make a bat face. Done.
Alternatively just hunt around the house and see what else you can find that you can make into a costume … cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, etc. You can pretty much make a costume out of anything – after all it’s just for fun. Happy trick or treating!
By DIYFather.com with inspiration from liveinnanny
This is pure gold … perfect for Halloween with younger children!
Full credit to the dad who made an LED suit for his 22 month old daughter for Halloween. Check out www.ledbaby.com for more information.
Dads are just awesome – check this out (as seen on cheezburger.com)
Great inspiration for all of us who are dealing with our unique family situations – there’s always a creative solution!
If you are still looking for costume ideas for Halloween – don’t stop with the kids … include the family pets as well in your costume planning! Some ideas …
(no idea who owns the copyright for these – it’s certainly not us)
When my son was 2 1/2 years old he asked me to draw ‘scary cats.’ See below. (I tried to make them as friendly as possible while still satisfying his requests for more claws and teeth.) So I thought it would be fun to use the drawings for a Halloween themed match game. Just draw a line to match the silhouettes to the correct figure. They really loved this one, and finding the correct cat was sometimes tricky! There’s a download below if you want to try it out too. Happy Halloween!
Click on the image below, then print.
By Joel Henriques
If you get asked this ultimate Halloween question “why it is called Halloween” over the next few days – here are some ready-made reponses for you:
1. Very short answer:
Because I said so
2. Short answer:
It’s complicated – go ask your mom
3. Answer for all kids older than 2:
The term Halloween, originally spelled Hallowe’en, is shortened from All Hallows’ Even – e’en is a shortening of even, which is a shortening of evening. This is ultimately derived from the Old English Ealra Maessedaeg (mass-day of all saints) which is now known as eve of All Saints Day (All Saints Day is November 1st). Halloween has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and is also thought to have been heavily influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints’ Day (also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows, and Hallowtide) and All Souls’ Day. It is largely a secular celebration but some have expressed strong feelings about perceived religious overtones.
[thank you Wikipedia]
Happy trick or treating!
Here’s another DIY project for dads and kids – create your own Halloween Aliens! Halloween monsters and aliens make fantastic table decorations and allow kids to get creative or further explore the spooky theme of Halloween in their own way. Basically all you need is some funky looking gourds (which you should be able to get in all super markets and grocery stores in autumn) and a few utensils and decorations. Easy as.
Here’s what you need:
* gourds in all shapes and sizes
* a carving knife
* a small hammer
Step by step guide to creating the Halloween monsters and aliens:
- Pick out some gourds and candy body parts
- Adjust each gourd to make sure it will sit up (tip: you can shave off small slices off the bottom to make them sit up and to stabilise)
- Attach each candy body part with half a toothpick. You can pre-make holes with a toothpick, pliers and use a hammer if needed
- Add yarn for creepy hair