Monday, September 22, 2014

Shroom With A View Burger

If there is one thing my kids will actually eat, it is vegetables. Yeah, I know. My kids are weird. My wife and I attribute their propensity to scarf down anything they can grow in our backyard to her strange cravings of broccoli and milkshakes during her pregnancy. Somehow, that combination translated as "delicious" to my kids while in utero.

As a kid I never really cared for meat. When the sides would come, I would load up on vegetables. Steak at my parent's house was always accompanied by mushrooms. And while I would force the steak in, I would heartily attack the mushrooms with reckless abandon. Sauteed mushrooms with a little butter and onions...and well, my keyboard is wet from the drool.

The Mushroom Council is celebrating #ShroomTember this month. There were so many things that I learned about mushrooms that I never knew before especially when it came to their nutritional value and their blendability.

Nutrition - Mushrooms bring important nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants to the plate without adding significant calories, fat and cholesterol.

Sodium – Mushrooms are low in sodium, plus their umami counterbalances saltiness and allows for less salt to be used in a dish, without compromising flavor.
  • Umami is a fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Derived from the Japanese word umami, meaning “delicious,” umami is described as a savory, brothy, rich or meaty taste sensation. 
  • “Tasting Success with Cutting Salt,” a collaborative report from the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, recognizes cooking with umami-rich ingredients, like mushrooms, as a way to boost flavor without adding salt.
Gluten Free – Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains.
  • Like all fruits and vegetables, mushrooms are naturally gluten free, and make a delicious and nutritious addition to a gluten-free diet. 
The only exception when it came to meat for me, was hamburger. It was my grandma's go-to meal when we were coming to visit. With four boys coming with bottomless stomachs, hamburger was always on the menu. Walk through my grandma's kitchen on our first night there and burgers would be sizzling in the skillet while she tried to plant you with kisses.

Come to my house for a barbeque and you are going to get burgers. Want to know how I rate a restaurant? How good is their burger? So when Life of Dad and The Mushroom Council were seeking recipes for #ShroomTember's contest for greatest burger, I felt compelled, nay obligated to demonstrate my knowledge of burgerhood. I give you:

Olive oil
Large Portabello Mushroom caps
1 lb Lean Ground Beef or other meat (see vegetarian option below)
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 TBSP chopped garlic
Goat cheese spread
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper
Kaiser rolls

Gently brush off any dirt with a brush or dry towel. Washing can add excess water.
Sprinkle olive oil on the mushroom caps lightly
Marinate balsamic vinegar with meat choice (vegetarian option, use just the mushroom cap)
Using a tbsp of olive oil, saute the onions until caramelized set 1/2 of it aside
Add the garlic towards the end and cook together 2 minutes, set aside
Mix meat and onion/garlic mixture to make a hamburger patty
Warm grill and grill burger and caps. Grill caps with fin side up. Mushroom will tell you when it is ready to be flipped when moisture pools on its surface and bubbles. Flip over to grill other side
Once done, add lettuce/tomato and place burger on bun
Spread goat cheese on top of burger
Sprinkle remaining onion/garlic mixture on top of goat cheese

Vegetarian Option: Grill only the caps, marinated in balsamic vinegar, replacing all meat with portabello mushroom. Toppings are still the same.

**Be sure to join us for the #ShroomTember Twitter party on September 23rd at 1PM EST to learn all about the great recipes and to win some cool prizes**

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad, LLC for the #ShroomTember promotion. Sponsored by The Mushroom Council, the #ShroomTember promotion gives anybody the chance to win a $500 Visa gift card.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confessions of a Dad Blogger

I can feel the weight of it resting in my pocket. It's heft comforts me when I feel it resting at my side, like a modern day gunslinger. I draw from the hip to shoot a photo or to share any original thought that has popped into my head since the last time I posted, which was only a few minutes ago. My hand automatically reaches for it when there is that empty void in space and time called silence. Often, I catch myself reaching for it when I should just keep looking with my own eyes. It is always calling to me and I can't stop answering.

Sometimes, I just need to touch it to make sure it is still there. Once, I left it at home and realized that without it, I felt disconnected and unsafe. I had no quarters and I kept thinking. "Quarters? Where would I even use those?" I can't remember when was the last time I even saw a payphone.

Sometimes, I forget that I put it in a different pocket and I have a small panic attack that it is lost. The anxiety built around something that is supposed to be for pleasure often beckons to me to answer its call. It was there the whole time of course, waiting for me to pick it up. To be comforted by the clicks and swipes, of so many seconds, minutes, and hours of the day spent looking at this tiny window.

I can see it blinking out of the corner of my eye, or am I imagining it? Has someone commented or liked something I posted? Has anyone read my blog today or left a comment? What is everyone one else in the entire world up to RIGHT NOW?

I have a problem. I'm addicted to my phone, the internet, the connection to a place that exists inside a cloud; a place of wire and megabytes. It is a place of intangible worth with generated scores of your worth and a rank of life where your words and actions recorded serve as the benchmark for how all others see you.

Stand outside any social gathering and people aren't bumming smokes anymore, they are checking Facebook and sending pictures on Instagram like their technological pusher.

Do you want to alienate the person you are with? Just pull out your phone and put it on the table. Try to sneak a game in while you are waiting for an appointment. Try to check it when they aren't looking or excuse yourself to the bathroom so you can check your email in peace. You're not paranoid. People are coming out of the bathroom wired from duckface selfies and Candy Crush high scores and everyone knows it.

I regularly get reprimanded by my wife who catches me looking at it. My kids often tell me to get off the phone so I can play with them. I try to justify having it out by saying I am taking a picture or trying to capture a moment instead of just being in the moment. I say, "I'll put it down in a second" but I know it's a lie. In those moments I'm deciding whether they belong to my family or me. I'm a failure and I can't stop using.

How can you be a successful dad blogger without you being tied to a device? How can you limit your interactions with cyberspace when so much of it depends on the here and now? Engage, engage, engage or you will lose likes and become irrelevant.  How can I be engaged without being disengaged from what truly matters which are my relationships with people and more importantly, my relationship with my family?

Engagement drives your success in the cloud but it can also hurt your relationships back on earth. At conventions and events where social media is important, I find comfort in seeing other bloggers looking down and not out. But, it's the disappointment in myself when I am not in those situations where the real addiction surfaces. Why am I trying to fill every crack in time with something?

I learned early on through our pre-marital classes that we all have love languages. I discovered that I highly valued words of affirmation. As a person who thrives on positive feedback as a way to feel loved this is a dangerous combination for me, as I constantly seek validity that what I am doing is worthwhile.

This is how social media has created a simultaneous feeling of pleasure and pain for me. Accolades by peers and attention lead to a sense of euphoria, a high that is hard to maintain. I need that fix. I am a junkie.

The very nature of the internet makes it easy to get and I know it is always available. It's right there in my pocket, waiting for me to pick up. It is still calling me. The question is, am I strong enough to not to answer it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Britax Revolutionizes Car Seats By Getting Creative

There is nothing like that feeling of having a child.  There is that feeling that no matter what it would take that you would protect that little person at any cost. As many new parents find out though, we suddenly realize that when he head to the car to take them home for the first time, we realize we have no idea what we are doing.  Did we install the carseat the right way? What will happen if we didn’t? Are we  going to totally fail as parents? Why didn't we memorize that car seat manual when we had the chance?
All of our stuff from our baby shower sat in the corner of our dining room for what seemed like an eternity. Then, the day came and while my wife was screaming in pain on the way to the hospital, I forgot everything I was studying in preparation for that very moment. I'm not even sure to this day that I parked the car in a safe area when we finally did make it to the hospital. Kids have a way of changing your plans.

I used to cram with my wife before the baby was born. We read What To Expect When You're Expecting and poured over what Dr. Spock said about expectations. But with all the information you read up on to prepare yourself for that child, all this stuff gets log jammed in your brain. Pretty soon you are sympathy eating ice cream out of the freezer with a giant oversized spoon with the kind you would use when your college roommate refused to do the dishes.

Car seats have pretty much been the same since our first child but Britax has changed all that with the revolutionary ClickTight Installation system. When something kid related comes around that changes the game, parents will want to take notice. Ever see something kid related and think "Man, I wish I had  invented that!"  The Harness-2-Booster seat did that for me and the installation blew my mind.
Fumbling with latches, and trying to get them secure is a hassle not to mention that when you have to transfer one seat from one car to another, you wonder if it is really worth the trouble.  ClickTight takes the guesswork out of installing it properly and what is even better is that it is just as easy to remove. Open the panel, stretch the safety belt across it, and snap down the panel. That's it! 

We took our first car trip with the new seat towards the end of the summer. Our three year old loved the armrests built in to her seat and she could ride comfortably.  As a guy who looks into the cupholder situation when it comes to new cars, the Frontier 90 has ample cup holders on both sides with a recessed area for toys or juice boxes with just the right size for little hands to access.

What is even better is that this car seat will grow with our daughter because it is a Harness - 2 - Booster model.  With a weight limit of 90 lbs in harness mode and a weight limit of 120 pounds in booster mode, Britax is counting on being in your family's life for a long time.   Another nice feature is the ability to remove the cover without removing all of the straps. With our little ones eating in the car and dropping endless snacks down the black hole that we call the seat, it's nice to have that option without disassembling the entire thing just to get it clean again.

Britax is a company my family and I have been investing in since the kids were small. With the wide variety of car seats, infant carriers, and strollers we know that each item upholds the quality and craftsmanship we have come to expect from them.  Not only that, but Britax invests in dads in ways that some brands do not.  For my personal Philly Dads Group, they are sending a representative to teach dads about car seat safety as well as supporting National Babywearing Week by sponsoring 11 cities across the country with Meetup events centered around babywearing. That is brand that shows me that while I am investing in them, they are also investing in me by building a relationship beyond just a consumer.

Does that sound like a company you would want to be involved with? Now is your chance. Britax is offering a giveaway of the very car seat, the Frontier 90 Harness -2- Booster that they let me test!

Enter the giveaway below for your chance. Entrants must be at least 18 years old and be a US resident only. One winner will be chosen at random. Winner will be notified via the email address they provided. The winner must respond within 24 hours with a mailing address and phone number to confirm their winning or a new winner will be chosen. Product will be mailed directly from the supplier to the winner.

FTC Disclaimer: I received a Frontier 90 car seat from Britax in exchange for the review of this product. All opinions are my own and I wish I could fit in this car seat because it's really cool! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 8, 2014

Everyone Knows That Hitting Is Wrong

Image from

For my son and especially my daughters let me make this clear, a man should never hit a woman. Period. We've taught you this lesson since you were very young that hands are for helping not hitting. We teach keep your hands to yourself and to be kind to others. If hitting someone to solve a problem is your decision, you are the problem.

Seeing the Ray Rice video is sickening though we didn't need to see it to know what happened. If a man hits you, that's it. It's over. Relationship done. Once a man becomes physical with you he proves that he doesn't really love you because he has every intention on hurting you.

We saw what happened in his press conference where his teammates stood behind him. I doubt that many will after seeing this video. I would lose instant respect for anyone who did. Beating anyone and especially a woman is deplorable.

Victims of spousal abuse often stick up for their abusers. We've already seen it when the very same woman who he knocked out after a brutal punch to the face, forgave him and pleaded to not take away his husband's livelihood. Even after being knocked unconscious by the man she believes she loves, she still married him. If that doesn't seem wrong to you, you are wrong.

Ray Rice is not a man of virtue or responsibility for his actions. He's just another example of person who grew up but never became a man. An NFL player who has a sense of entitlement that he can't be touched because he is an athlete is an epidemic that is running rampant in an organization that is consistently inconsistent.  Roger Goodell owes it to everyone to remove Ray Rice from the NFL completely.

A brutal attack like this would warrant anyone else to be fired in any other job. The NFL's response that they "hadn't seen the Ray Rice video until today" is questionable. Goodell, you are still "not getting it right" by any stretch of the imagination. This is the kind of standards we have come to expect from your organization.

Even the newest of parents know that if you love and respect someone, hitting is never acceptable. Children are growing up in a world where we are trying to teach love and respect only to see athletes they admire demonstrate time and again they should never be looked up to. The NFL has been fraught with bullying, cheating, lying, and murder and it needs to be fixed.

Discipline is only effective when it is consistent, every parent knows this so why is it so hard for the NFL to "get it right"? Do the right thing and set the example for any bad behavior. Ray Rice doesn't need a two minute time out, he needs to be grounded indefinitely. You owe that to young men trying to learn what it means to be a man. You owe to our daughters to keep them protected. You owe that to his wife. You owe that to all women.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

DIY Duct Tape Lightsabers

As a Star Wars fan and geek, I passed my love for these movies to my children at an early age.  As soon as my son could grasp a lightsaber, I was pulling my Darth Vader helmet out of storage and teaching my son the ways of the Force.  Pulling the old toys out from the attic has given me that rush back to when I was a kid, building bases with my younger brother and pretending that our backyard was Endor.

As a taller child, I was pegged at Chewbacca to my friend's Han. It was only fair since he had the Han Solo blaster that everyone wanted. My crossbow was just two sticks tied together with string but it worked. With good old ingenuity and our imaginations, anything was possible.

When my son was five, the Clone Wars series was just being revealed to the younger generations through cartoons and pajamas.  When it came to the toys that I knew and loved, the lightsabers that used to hum when you would twirl them seemed like an unnecessary expense, especially when our lightsaber battles would end in telescoping parts getting destroyed and me.

As an artist and generally crafty guy, I figured that I could make my own alternative pretty cheaply and I created something that was virtually indestructible out of the greatest of material, duct tape. Thus was born, the DIY Duct Tape Lightsaber.

Materials needed:

2 Cardboard paper towel rolls
Duct tape - Your choice in color for blade. Black and silver for handles (or whatever you decide)
Packing paper or newspaper for stuffing, heavy cardboard for interior support


1) Bend one paper towel roll slightly at the end so that you can slide one roll over the other. Tape it into place at the desired length. If your child is bigger, you can use more paper towel rolls. Just be advised, the longer it gets, the more unstable it becomes.

2) Fill the inside with packing paper or newspaper making sure it is compact. For more stability, place a corrugated cardboard strip in the center that runs the length of the tube and pack on either side with newspaper.

3)  Tape both ends with the color you will use for the blade, closing the tube. Then, start wrapping the duct tape around the paper towel roll, making sure to overlap by at least one quarter the width of the tape and going over the ends to essentially seal them.

4) On the handle end, wrap the handle in your color, I chose black, in the same way only go one quarter the total length, this will be the handle. You can use your child's hand size as a judge. , or whatever color you decide

5)  Using the silver duct tape or other accent color, add details for handle by tearing smaller rectangles or squares and staggering the pattern letting some of the black (or other color) you put down first show through.

With all the options in duct tape colors these days, you can customize your own to your liking. My girls each wanted pink and purple lightsabers and the duct tape possibilities now are endless.

You can customize yours to your child's size by pushing the two cardboard rolls closer together or make a double ended lightsaber like Darth Maul by adding a third! If you are having a birthday party, these are cheap and easy projects to do which are virtually indestructible. When they do get stepped on or the dog takes an interest in them, just make another one!

Want to see more #HesCrafty projects by dads like me? Check out my Facebook page for more duct tape crafts and posts about dad related stuff!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Don't Get Buried By Your #FallFixUp

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Rubbermaid, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #FallFixUp

The summer is over and just when you thought things would be cooling down, they are heating up again. All those fun projects you did with the kids over the summer and the outdoor activities you focused on with the family has left your home in a sad state of disarray. Your garage looks like an episode from Hoarders and your landscaping needs more than a backyard crash. You need to Do It Yourself back into your neighbor's good standing and Rubbermaid can help.

For tough jobs like these it is Rubbermaid to the rescue! Forget spring cleaning, it's time for a #FallFixUp to get your house back in order. Rubbermaid Roughneck products can help you get reorganized in a hurry. Take advantage of low prices in stores now at your local Home Depot . With their totes and garbage cans, you can make light work of a daunting task.

Let's start with that backyard which looks like Sharknado just ripped through it. First off, get the kids to help. Giving them a task as simple as putting brush into a garbage can isn't something they can mess up right?

Then it is on to that place I like to call The Black Hole of Stuff. Don't have room in your house? Put it in the garage,  where at least you can't see it anymore! At least that is my position since I don't actually get to park my car in our garage because that Powerwheel your neighbor so graciously gifted you to free up room in his garage, is taking your spot. You'd think from this picture that we might have ten children but it is actually only three.

Kids aren't good at putting things back where they belong, so you may have to take the initiative to actually get things organized.  Problem is it may become an archeological dig site. You start pulling all of these things out from the garage and the kids start playing with them because they haven't seen them in a long time. I pulled something out of this pile and expected a boulder to come crashing down my driveway.

As you can see, the Rubbermaid Roughneck storage totes are great for organizing gear. The 18 gallon one I am holding can handle even your toughest little messes and as you can see, the 54 gallon tote easily handles multiple challenges handily.

Rubbermaid Roughneck products are aptly named because as you are tossing them around and filling them to the brim they will take everything you throw at them. So go out and get some totes and garbage cans and get avoid getting buried by your #FallFixUp. Make your shrewdest of neighbors realize that while the robe you use to get the paper doesn't have you sufficiently covered, Rubbermaid does.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Correctly Counting Stay At Home Dads : An Interview with Dr. Beth Latshaw

Stay at home dads are rising in numbers with the roles of caregiving shifting and some men have become more willing to make sacrifices so that they can stay at home. Dads over the years are becoming more involved in the raising of the children and have found that this role as the primary caregiver is really what they were meant to do. Most who decide to stay home to raise the children see it as an opportunity to be active in the raising of their children, a cultural shift that has been gaining momentum in our society.

And while The U.S. Census and Pew Research Center has sought out to count these men, unfortunately the research that has been available is sometimes prohibited by the parameters that define what exactly is a stay at home dad. National surveys don't ask many questions about fatherhood and they try to fit the ever changing roles of fatherhood into a neat little checkboxes that do not apply to everyone.

Dr. Beth Latshaw,  a Sociology Professor at Widener University has been conducting research on the ways that we accurately count stay at home dads and her count of those of us who do stay home is the most accurate of all the research available. The latest survey is aimed to find and count all of the dads that don't fit in a one category box and to gain a real understanding of stay at home dads as primary caregivers.

She is asking SAHDs about their well being in a survey that the National At Home Dad Network supports that not only will help find different demographic profiles of dads but also whether dads are receiving the support they need in a world that has often been referred to as a "mommycentric" society.   I had the privilege of speaking with her about her survey and asked her some questions about primary caregivers and just why her survey is so important to our society.

bethlatshawCB - How do you feel that the numbers of the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Pew Research are wrong when counting Stay At Home Dads?
BL-  This is one of the reasons I wanted to study stay at home dads. As a family sociologist, I started to think about how families are changing so frequently, almost faster than we can keep track of. So in many ways, the definitions of family are fluid because people are transforming what it means to be a family, what roles we have in our families, the boundaries between work and family are blurring and our data that we have on families are only as good as our measures we use to produce the data. I started to notice that the Census Bureau had a very rigid definition of stay at home dads.  The criteria they used were restrictive and you couldn't give more than one reason why you might be staying at home or give an open-ended question to explain why.  When I was doing my dissertation on stay at home dads, I found that over half of them were still in the labor force in some capacity while they stayed home. Immediately, that half  was being left out even though they self identified as a stay at home dad.  I started to think that a lot of stay at home moms did the same thing so maybe it was time for us to redefine what a stay at home parent is.  I figured that the the best way to do it was to ask men " Why stay home? Who are you? What is your demographic profile? What's your story?" That is the best way to understand families, which is to actually ask families who they are.

CB - Why do surveys like the Census and others lack nuanced questions to determine just how the roles of fatherhood have changed?

BL - In general, nationally representative surveys don't have very many questions on fathers at all. They mostly ask questions like "Do you live with your child" or "Do you read to your child" but they don't ask questions like "How do you define your role as a father or what does fatherhood mean to you?" , "What is it like to be a dad"  or "What are your daily interactions with your child like ?" This is where a qualitative study is important, to come in and ask dads what it is like. To have them tell us, in their own words what it is like.  That can sort of fill in these gaps where these national surveys are lacking. 

CB - So how do you think that the census should be altered to include these men in its count?

BL - From what I have heard, it is incredibly hard to change the Census. Changing one question could take years of debate. But, in a perfect world, I think that most people have more than one reason why they may not be in the labor force. Maybe allowing people to choose more than one reason if they are out of the labor force or provide an open ended question that they can elaborate on [would be helpful]. I also think that they could look at the people who are in the labor force and from there  be able to quantify how many say they are the primary caregivers of their children. Allow people who work in some minimal capacity to also specify that they are the primary caregiver 75% of the time, thus eliminating the rigid categories the census follows.

CB - At the convention in Washington DC, we took a photograph with all of the participants. Then we took a picture of the group with only those that the Census would deem us as stay at home dads. As you mentioned, it was about half of us who met their criteria. What other factors have you come across that hinder this count being accurate?

BL - Most of the stay at home dads that we have surveyed had been married but if you are cohabitating or are a gay couple, those families would be left out as well. Cohabitation is increasing and with the increase of gay rights we see that there are different dynamics to families that are changing. As those change, our definitions also need to change.

CB - What have you found to be the main factors that determine whether a dad considers himself a stay at home father?

BL- As we are interviewing these dads, most of them have said that rather than checking a box that they would like to see it based on a percentage of time that you spend caring for that child. In some cases, SAHDs work the thirds shift or on the weekends, but that doesn't mean they aren't a stay at home parent during the week or during the day. If you think about it we don't say, once kids are in school, that you aren't a stay at home parent just because your kids are at school for 40 hours a week.

CB - What would you say to those people who suggest that caring for children is a "feminine trait" that is ingrained in women and not men?

BL - My personal belief is that parenting skills are learned behaviors. Our society certainly socializes women to be caregivers. Of course there are basic biological differences between men and women but our society reinforces that message that women should be natural caregivers through socialization and media. We give little girls dolls to take care of when they are young so we tend to think that it is natural even though much of it is cultural and social. So, I personally believe that there are women who are terrible caregivers and there are men who are wonderful caregivers. If you take the time to learn and understand the qualities that it takes to be a good caregiver then it is something based on the learning you have achieved and not gender.

CB - Why are women gatekeeping when it comes to the father-child relationship?

BL - When women were entering the workforce and still facing barriers there, one place that they could feel power and validation was as a mother. As men started moving into more of these roles as the caregiver this became more of an issue because they lost a little of that validation. This is where society was telling them that it was their role and what they were "supposed to do".  I think that, generational speaking, women are moving away from that and are sharing parenthood with their partner. The importance of having a more equal relationship and how that can be helpful for everyone involved is becoming a more common goal. Sharing and balancing seems to be the direction people are heading in as there are more co-parents instead of gatekeeping, which will hopefully fade away.

CB - What would you say is the main difference generation-wise, which is defining modern fathers?  Why is the switch in roles more common now than before?

BL - The movement of women in the labor force and women in higher education made a huge fundamental change in the way families thought about gender and work/family responsibilities. In the past, the breadwinner, never at home dad was the dominant cultural form of fatherhood. He'd bring home the bacon and we equated good fatherhood with earning money. Providing is what defined you as a good father.
As our society has changed, women who entered into the labor force started to rethink "OK, how are we going balance all of this?" As a result,  the doors opened for men to take a more active role and many of them realized that they were really good at it and it was really important to them. As society changes we start to think of involved fatherhood as being the new cultural ideal. Men want equal support and want to be respected as parents. As you well know, media in general has portrayed fathers in a less flattering light and dads are sick of it.  As generations change, people will want to move away from traditional gender roles . They understand that both men and women are equally great parents and want to be given the opportunity to spend time with their kids and have meaningful relationships with them.
If you know a stay at home dad or are one. Please consider taking the Stay at Home Father Well Being Survey conducted by Dr. Beth Latshaw and Widener University.  
Let the NAHDN what you liked/disliked about the survey on their FB page after you have completed it and thanks for being a part of the sample if you do participate!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Not Just Another Fan : Discovering Lolly & YoYo

My girls danced in their bright colored frocks in a circle to the music, inspired by the fun lyrics and rhythms of the guitar, they soon were gliding around like small butterflies do, flitting around from place to place, so light and airy that I felt as if all gravity had left the earth. They twirled like wind catchers on your front porch and were holding hands and laughing together with such delight that I had to just stand back and watch in amazement.

Music can inspire this feeling. I have felt it in my own experiences as a youth where music just transformed me and sent me to another time and place. Startling how words and notes put in so many different combinations, the limitless possibilities can make us feel right down to our very soul. 

This is the way Lolly & Yo Yo's music has affected my children and in turn, me as well. It all started with an event to go see them in a local mall in Plymouth-Meeting. We organized The Philly Dads Group to attend the concert as part of their Kids Klub event which happens every second Tuesday of the month.  My children had never heard their music before but sat raptly waiting on the small circles of carpet ready for their first concert. Who knew it would change them so?

Lolly Hopwood and Yo Yo (Yvonne) Kusters are a duo that combines kindie rock with activity and dance that gets children moving and exercising. On the day I first heard them with my girls we  all fell for their music and spirit let alone their kindness. 

After their performance, I walked up and introduced myself and told her about our group and my blog.  Lolly immediately asked "Do you have our CD?" to which I replied no. She headed back to her table and grabbed one and kneeled down by my girls and wrote this out to them personally : To Sarah & Heidi, Shine like the stars you are. Love Lolly & YoYo.

What an awesome gesture that was and one I am very grateful for. As my girls are growing up I don't want them to be tentative about how they are.

I want them to be themselves and show the world what they can do. I think that Lolly and YoYo see that in all of their fans.

Back in the car, we couldn't wait to put in their CD and my girls were rocking out in no time. Their CD, An Adventurous Day is a must have for any Kindie Fan. Lolly has a voice like Sarah McLachlan, the kind you sort of just get lost in; a voice that transports you to a dreamy wonderland. Pair that with YoYo's high energy and infectious smile and you can see why their harmony is a match made in heaven.

Of course, being a camp counselor, they won me over with a rendition of Baby Shark and Go Bananas. You must give Hey Alligator a listen not only because it is done echo style but you may feel like you are transported to New Orleans with the rich jazzy horns of this song. Tracks like Glow in the Dark will mesmerize you with the sweet simplicity and dazzling imagery. You may want to close your eyes as you can almost see it right in front of you, just don't do it in the car! My favorite track is I Don't Want To Go Sleep because it really sums up what a day with kids is all about. Lolly and YoYo's vocals of this song reminded me of The Sundays. 

I can't stress enough to give Lolly and YoYo a try for your children but also for yourself. You'll fall for them too like we did. Follow them on Facebook and check out their website for more info.

If you are interested in kid's music, visit DadNCharge on FB, for CD giveaways and free downloads.