Time Out for Warranties and a Giveaway!

So, SquareTrade reached out to me recently and offered me and one of my readers a free warranty!  It just so happens that I just bought iPhones for Shien and myself (our first ones), and two of the things I knew I had to immediately get were cases and warranties.  According to a study, Americans have spent $5.9 billion dollars on damaged iPhones!  To me, it’s too big a risk not to have some kind of coverage on something that is used so heavily every day.

I recognized the SquareTrade brand from the past, as their warranties are often offered along with many online and in-store retailer purchases. Their rates are really competitive, and their Facebook page has over 145,000 Likes.  They are hosting an iPad 3 giveaway (until October 12th) on their Facebook page, with a fun short “Are You a Phone Killer” quiz.

For the iPhone 5, they have a 2-year or 3-year plan for $94 and $124, respectively, with a $50 deductible for all claims.  Theft and loss is not covered, similar to the Apple Care Protection Plan.  The cool thing is you have the option of shipping it free to them for repair or to your local Genius Bar or repair shop, and they will cover the cost.  Here’s a YouTube video about them…


SquareTrade was nice to offer one of my readers a free warranty.  So, to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment (by 12 PM on Columbus Day) about how you did on the Are You a Phone Killer quiz or how you feel about warranties or if you have a story to tell about how a warranty saved or or how the lack of a warranty got you in a predicament. (To leave a comment, click on the speech bubble next to the post title on top)  I will choose a winner sometime on Columbus Day, October 8, 2012.  Good luck, everyone! 🙂

Time Out for KARATE!

Shien and I are really glad Malachy took up Karate.  It teaches respect, self-discipline, and the benefits of practice and hard work.  The more experienced ones help out the less experienced one, and everyone is there to help each other to get better.  They use a term, “OSU,” as a way of thanking each other and showing each other respect.  Malachy has used it at home every now and then with me, and says, “Dad, that means I really respect you.”  Very cool stuff.

Enter Malachy’s first tournament.  I couldn’t pass up signing up for it.  GUARANTEED trophy!  A couple of weeks before I found out about this event, Malachy had told me he wanted a real trophy, not just stickers.  I told him he’d get his chance… one day.  It would be the first one in our family.  I NEVER won a trophy.  I won a few ribbons in a Field Day once, got many certificates through the years, but NEVER a trophy.  My parents never put me into any competitive sports or activities, so the opportunity was never there.  I always dreamed of having a trophy in my hands, a REAL trophy.

Of course, I didn’t want Malachy to know there was a guaranteed trophy.  I told him he would have to earn it and that he had to do his best.  So, even though his Karate teachers (Sesei and Sampei) told him that everyone got a trophy for entering, and he even read it on the registration, I was able to convince him that there was no guarantee, and he bought my argument.  At the end of the day today, he was the one who told me, “Dad, it doesn’t even matter if I didn’t get a trophy.  I had fun, and I did my best.”  That’s my little Ninja with the big heart and the big mind.  I’m always trying to teach him stuff, and he winds up teaching me. 🙂

In the first event, Malachy was called first. I knew that meant he probably wouldn’t win. When they gave out the ribbons, almost everyone got one, because there were so many subdivisions in terms of belts, so there were many first and second places in this event. One kid was crying and needed to be comforted, but Malachy was fine. Then, came the next event… Freestyle. I knew Malachy would have energy, but didn’t know what to expect, as this was the first time I’d ever watched this one-on-one “no-contact” tournament. Plus, there were some much bigger kids in terms of size. I reminded myself that he would still get that beautiful trophy, no matter what. Well, before my eyes, he won Round 1, and then he won Round 2, and then came the Final Round! He was up against a Blue Belt, who was much bigger than him. Oh well, at least he was now guaranteed 2nd place! But no… he got first! Amazing! He saved some of his best moves for the last round. Later on, he said these moves were inspired by his fellow competitors. Unbelievable. When we got out of the train station, on the way home, he asked Shien, “Is this a dream, Mommy?” I think I was thinking the same. Proud of our little champ.

Time Out for the Tooth Fairy…

A Note to the Tooth Fairy...
Missing Tooth #1 and #2...

So, Malachy’s second tooth came out today.  It was super loose, and after school, on the way to piano, he was able to extract his own tooth.  The first tooth required some help from Mom, along with some tooth floss and some cheerleading from Dad.  For his first tooth, he received five Washingtons and a geode.  The geode was a last minute addition, and when he woke up that morning after, he was quite excited about the note, the cash, and the geode.  After hammering the geode, we were left with mostly crushed rock and dust.  It was a dud, and it left me and Malachy a bit unsatisfied. (Hence, the note he wrote to the Tooth Fairy today.)  A couple of days later, I had a special Ninjago delivery via the Tooth Ninja, but he didn’t buy it.  He knew it was from me.  But, as you can see from the note to the Tooth Fairy, he still believes! 🙂

So, Mommy wanted to buy time to get a gift from the Tooth Fairy, so she told Malachy we would clean the tooth out tomorrow and leave it for the Tooth Fairy tomorrow night.  We explained to him that the Tooth Fairy didn’t want a bloody tooth.  After all, he had cleaned his first one for her.  He went to bed and was fine with waiting one more night…

Right before we went to bed, I asked Shien where Tooth #2 was.  She said she thought Malachy left it with me, and I told her that he did show me the tooth but he had left it with her when she was cooking in the kitchen.  From the kitchen, I could hear the rustling noise of a plastic bag every now and then.  I asked Shien what was going on.  She tells me, “I think I might have thrown it away.”  I’m like, “WHAT?”

Turns out Shien had given Malachy a tissue for the tooth when she was cooking, so he could clean it out with her later on.  So, he left the tooth in the tissue on the kitchen counter.  Lo and behold, when Shien was cleaning the kitchen after dinner, she threw the tissue with the tooth into the plastic trash bag!  Thus, the rustling plastic bag.

When I went to the kitchen looked in the plastic bag, it looked GROSS!  Shien had poured out a 14 oz. jar of old hot chocolate powder mix into the trash bag (she once saw worms in another can of old powder mix), and since it got wet, the trash inside was covered and doused with wet and dry powder mix all over.  I got a flashlight and tried to sift through it by squeezing the bag and trying to feel for the tiny tooth, but no luck.  I even tried using another plastic bag as a glove to squeeze through some of the trash, but it just felt sandy and muddy from all the powder mix.

Shien suggested that we re-use Tooth #1 and just tell Malachy that she cleaned it out for him.  After all, he cashed in Tooth #1, so he probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  That made me feel uncomfortable.  It felt wrong.  It wasn’t honest.  I know. I know.  The Tooth Fairy isn’t real, so why not just let him cash in Tooth #1 again, right?  I couldn’t go to sleep knowing that Tooth #2 was in the trash, and that we were going to give him Tooth #1 again for the Tooth Fairy! 🙁

So, I went back to the kitchen.  I got another plastic bag out.  I got a latex glove out.  The plan was to transfer the trash from the yucky bag to another empty plastic bag.  The question was what to do with all the dry hot chocolate powder in the trash, which made it impossible to look through the trash?  I must say the one good thing about the hot chocolate powder mix was that it took away any garbage smell! 🙂  I figured the only way to get rid of the mix in the trash was to dissolve it in water!

Next, I cleared the sink, made sure the sink strainer was in place, and proceeded to fill the plastic bag which was filled with trash and powder with water, in the sink.  Stuff started floating up in the plastic bag, and now, it looked like I had a huge bag of hot chocolate drink with floating trash instead of marshmallows!  I slowly transferred the floating debris into another plastic bag, and proceeded with emptying all the trash out of the plastic bag.  I found a few pieces of minced garlic that looked like Tooth #2, but I couldn’t find it.  All the dried powder was soon dissolved, but there was also coffe grinds in the trash, too.  That doesn’t all quite dissolve like the hot chocolate powder mix.  Ai ya!  Chicken bones, wet paper towels, tissues, rice, broccoli, oh my!  When the bag was almost emptied, I decided to just pour the rest out in the sink and soak it all out.  YUCK!  The latex glove got wet inside, so I decided to take it off.  Besides, wearing the glove made it harder to feel for the tooth.  So, there I was with my bare hands feeling through the garbage in the sink and scraps in the sink strainer, feeling for the tooth.  After a while, VOILA!  I found it!  It was mixed in with some of the trash and coffee grinds.  I made sure it wasn’t just another piece of chopped garlic.  It was indeed Tooth #2!  I cleared out the rest of the trash from the sink, and now I had a cleaner bag of trash, without all the hot chocolate powder mix!  Move over Toothy Fairy.  Tooth Daddy has come to the rescue!  Oh, what a night! 🙂

Can you see Tooth #2 on the counter?

Time Out for Bike Riding…

It’s one of those vivid ingrained memories in my head… learning how to ride the bicycle.  I remember it being a big deal the day the training wheels finally came off!   I don’t know how accurate my memory is, but I remember I was five and my cousin, Karmin (thanks, Karmin!) held on to my bicycle as he helped to teach me how to ride.  First, he held on to the handlebar on the side, as I went up and down the block in front of our apartment building in Brooklyn.  Eventually, he started holding on to the back seat of my bicycle, where he was out of my peripheral view.  I remember that really well, because at one point I thought he was holding on to my bicycle, and when I looked back, he was halfway up the block!  I was so shocked that I did it on my own that I went crashing onto the ground.  The thrill, and then the agony…

I learned to look forward and to trust myself.  I learned that fear and dwelling on the past (looking back) prevented me from enjoying the ride and looking forward.  I learned that life is sometimes about learning how to fall.  I remember using this story of learning how to ride the bicycle in my college essay to Columbia almost 25 years ago!

35 years after learning how to ride the bicycle, here I am trying to teach Malachy how to ride!  Amazing!  Wondering how (or if) he’ll remember these days.  I know my back will never forget these past 3 days! 🙂  It’s such a rush for him, though.  I thought by day 3, he wouldn’t want to go back outside and try again (at least not 3 days in a row), and I know I wouldn’t have minded if he had said, “Nah, I’m not in the mood, today.   Let’s take a break, Dad.”  But instead he said, “Dad, I really like it!  I want to try to ride by myself again!”  Love his attitude!

So, there we were again today.  Me yelling at him and telling him to focus and to concentrate, to balance, to stop leaning and turning and singing and cracking up.  I know we both cracked up when he was able to ride for a few split seconds on his own.  The thrill of getting it.  It really IS cool.  You don’t remember when you learn how to walk, but you can remember learning how to ride a bicycle.  It’s a bit different nowadays.  I didn’t have a helmet.  And I remember falling over a lot harder and getting scraped and bruised.  I get so tempted to just let Malachy go, but I don’t want him to fall down so hard that he’ll get too scared to try again.  So, I hold on…

Eventually, I know he’ll get it, and I’ll feel proud that he learned and happy in being there with him! 🙂

Time Out for Brainology!

Ever since our family went to the Brain Exhibit that was at the American Museum of Natural History, our whole family has been fascinated with the Brain. I even took an evening course called, The Wired Child back in the Fall at the Museum (where I was literally surrounded by stand-alone brains!). Recently, my Adult Development course got me right back into the brain and its plasticity, with some great readings, lectures, and conversations.
What amazes me the most is how much of an impact our environment has over our brains. It’s Nature vs. Nurture, and I think I used to be more like, “Well, you’ve got what you’ve got (in terms of your brain), and you can only do so much.” Now, I realize there is a WHOLE lot we can do to train and develop our brains and our children’s brain. It’s as much what we actively do or don’t do day-to-day that greatly affects our brains. And thus, Brainology!
I first learned about Brainology from an online Mind/Shift article titled, Discovering How to Learn Smarter by Annie Murphy Paul. Brainology is a program developed by Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck. It helps students develop a growth mindset, as opposed to having a fixed mindset. When I learned it was for middle school and high school students, I was a bit bummed out, because I wanted to get Malachy in on it right away. Lo and behold, someone from Brainology saw my blog (after an e-mail inquiry), and said Malachy might be a great candidate for a Brainology pilot! (Thanks so much, Cole!) How awesome is that?
So, now it feels like Malachy and I are taking a Brain Course together! (Thanks, Brainology!) He already wants to sit and go through all the levels in one sitting, but I told him that we need time to let things sink in (especially for me). The program is awesome because it offers a combination of multimedia videos, an e-journal for recording thoughts, an online Brain book, and other online tools that make it fun and easy to learn about the brain. I’m able to sit with him and type some of his responses in. He could type the responses, but he usually wants to get right back to the watching and learning. For me, it’s great to see how much he has learned so far, and we could have some conversations if something needs further explanation. So far, so great! 🙂

Here are some of Malachy’s thoughts on The Brain, after the Intro. and Level 1…
When you learn new things, your brain gets smarter and stronger.
When you touch things or do anything with your body, your brain detects it.
When you don’t have enough sleep, then you can’t think very well.
When you’re doing your homework, you shouldn’t do anything else, like watching cartoons or eat lunch or listening to your CDs.
When you’re reading, you can do writing or drawing to help you learn.

Time Out for Flowers!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations, Wynne! Thanks so much to everyone for entering. Happy Valentine’s to all!

So, 1-800-Flowers.com reached out to me to offer my readers a chance to win a $100 1-800-Flowers gift card! AWESOME! Click here for a fun Valentine’s trailer they sponsored for Hot in Cleveland, starring Betty White.

Over the years, I’ve spent thousands on flowers. Worth it? As Malachy would say, “OF COURSE, DAD!” It’s cool that he’s growing up knowing that romance is alive and well. With Shien’s birthday and Valentine’s within a week’s span, we get to splurge on Mommy with flowers and jewelry! 🙂

According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, they found that 62% of girlfriends and wives reported to be unsatisfied with last year’s Valentine’s Day gifts. I love getting my wife technology gifts, but I’ve learned that if I’m going to give some practical tech gifts, I better accompany it with some flowers, jewelry, or something sweet. With electronics, she’ll usually say, I don’t really need that. The one electronic gift that she has enjoyed the most and used the most is her Kindle. I think for many guys (and some girls, too) flowers seem like a waste of money, because they don’t last. But, there’s something about nature’s beauty, and flowers really do brighten up any room and brings some romance, love, or appreciation, back into the relationship. Plus, the University of South Brittany study found that women are 30% more likely to accept an admirer’s advances when flowers are involved. There’s definitely a Flower Effect to many relationships.  Surprises are good!

Romance is definitely NOT about being practical.  I wrote a little more about it on Prime Parents Club’s site. It’s about appreciating beauty and equating your loved one with that beauty.  Your loved one deserves to be spoiled, right? 😉

HOW TO WIN: First, check out 1-800-Flowers.com’s Facebook page, by clicking here, and check out their new products, along with their Platinum Collection. You could order straight from their Facebook page!  Then come back to this page, and leave a comment about what products you liked, and how you’ll spoil your loved one this Valentine’s! I will select a winner on Sunday, February 12th, at around 12PM EST, using the random number generator (Each commenter is assigned one number).  I will then forward the winner’s information (I’ll e-mail you) to 1-800-Flowers.com, and they will get you your $100 gift card. That’s it.  Cool, eh?

Good luck, everyone!

Time Out for Adulthood!

After my first classes yesterday, I was inspired to do another Malachy interview. In my Adult Development class, we had some great discussions, and one of the questions that was posed was what we thought it was like being an adult, when we were growing up. I immediately started wondering what Malachy thought of adulthood and how he viewed childhood versus adulthood. The great thing about asking him questions is never knowing what he’ll come up with. I think I could have kept going (but we were already at 9 minutes!), as he started introducing topics like marriage and money, but we can save that for another day…

Time Out for Mom…

Remembering Mom...

Sunday was the anniversary of my mom’s passing 14 years ago. We weren’t able to go up to the cemetery, so I decided we would go out on Saturday to buy some incense and a small container to hold them in. I remember paying respects to my grandfather when I was a kid, and I thought it would be nice for Malachy to remember and pay respects to my mother. I never met my grandpa and Malachy never met my mom. Sometimes, I feel my mom is teaching me through Malachy. I appreciated her growing up, but even more so now than ever. She really showed me what it means to live for others, and it’s what I hope Malachy learns from me. Not through words, but through my actions. Rest in Peace, Mom. We all miss you so much.

Time Out for Teamwork!


Back in 2009, I was looking online for a nice backpack for Shien, because her friend told us how important it was to have good back support when you’re carrying a heavy bag. A Google search helped me to find the best price for the North Face bag at O2 Gear Shop. I have been getting regular e-mails from them ever since buying the bag, and I recently “Liked” them on Facebook.

Yesterday, when I was checking Facebook, I saw that O2 had a contest to see who could think of the most creative way to represent “O2” using only hands and bodies, and post a picture on their wall. Winner would get a pair of their Marmot Glade gloves! They extended the deadline, so I was in luck!

I LOVE contests, because there’s always a chance to win, and you have to be “in it to win it,” right? Malachy has been my lucky charm, and it’s always been fun to have him participate with me in contests. Our biggest one so far was the Post-It contest that we entered before he was 2, where we were finalists, and we won a laptop!

By dinnertime, I was inspired to work up a design with Malachy. I knew the “2” would be the hardest part, and I wanted Malachy to be the “2” so I could make the “O.” With Shien’s and her dad’s help, we took a couple of pictures and posted one. I told Malachy it didn’t matter if we won, because it was cool to just do a project together. We high-fived.  Teamwork!

This morning, I got the awesome news that we were chosen! When I got home, I showed Malachy the Facebook page that announced the winner. I had him read it aloud, and he was so excited when he got to the part that said we had won. It was so cool because he didn’t ask what we won; he was just excited that we were chosen. Thanks to O2 Gear Shop for the inspirational win!

because Dads need to take time out to STOP and THINK…