Fatherly Stuff: July 2013

Jul 31, 2013

Give Back with SI Kids, Will Thomas and Operation Hawkeye!


As a part time blogger and a full time dad, I am always on the look out for people and stories that are both heartfelt and inspiring. So, when I was contacted to help Sports Illustrated Kids tell the story of Will Thomas and Operation Hawkeye, I jumped at the chance!


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This story, along with popular athletes and the causes they are passionate about, emphasizes the importance of giving back within your community and is the focal point of July's issue of Sports Illustrated Kids.  Also, Michelle Obama is featured on the cover, as she roll out her LET'S MOVE! initiative to fight childhood obesity. My oldest son practices karate and loves anything that involves him running and jumping, so this is definitely a program that I can get behind!

This issue is on newsstands or through ITunes, Amazon Apps, Google Play or Nook Apps stores.  To subscribe to SI Kids, click HERE







About Operation Hawkeye
 "Inspired by a tragic military event in the summer of 2011, the then 12-year-old Will Thomas committed himself to shoot 17,000 baskets in his driveway as a way to privately honor our fallen heroes.  As others in the community learned of Will’s challenge they began pledging money for every basket made.  The feat took him nearly 60 hours to complete and began a mission whose goal in 2013 is to raise over $300,000 for military forces and their families.

Sports Illustrated Kids believes Will is an example of how even kids can change their communities and is inviting others across the country to join Will in his next challenge.  The E17 Free Throw Challenge is a 60-day basketball event where kids all over the country will attempt 1,700 (individual) or 17,000 (team) basketball free throws in an effort to raise money and awareness for military families."


Interested in Participating?
For more information  or to participate, individuals or teams can register and pledge funds at the Operation Hawkeye E17 site. All participants will receive recognition from the U.S. Special Operations Command as well as an Operation Hawkeye bracelet. The individual or team that raises the highest donation will receive further recognition and a special prize.

Visit the Sports Illustrated Kids Facebook page at to watch a video about Will’s inspirational story and share how your family is using sports to give back and build community this summer.

Finally, I just want to give Will Thomas a huge Fatherly Stuff round of applause for being a model to young kids everywhere that with the right amount of heart and determination, you can truly make a real and positive difference in people's lives.


Question: What ways are you teaching your children about the importance of giving back?
*I received a free SI Kids subscription in exchange for this post, however this is a cause I truly support and my opinions are my own*










Jul 28, 2013

5 Ways Fatherhood Will Make you a Better Man

Fatherhood is one of the greatest occupations a man will ever have in his life. The years of self-sacrifice, guidance and love that is required for us to give in order to develop another human being is amazing. While it is true that we give a lot during this journey, I've realized that much is given to us as well. To the fathers out there who are giving it all they have and wondering if it is worth it, know that it is. And not only for the benefit of your children, but for your own personal growth as well.
"How, so?", you might ask. Well, here are at least 5 ways:



1) You make smarter decisions

When you become a dad, the camera lens of life is refocused and you realize that it isn't about you anymore. Every decision you make from here on out will either positively or negatively affect your child(ren) in some shape or form. Bearing this in mind, you begin to make better life decisions. The motivation for this will stem from your desire:

  • To want to be a good example for your kids
  • To want to spend as much time with them
  • To want to live long enough to see them grow up

For example, a guy who usually has a tendency to swear will suddenly find themselves choosing their words more carefully. A guy that typically spent their time after work in bars during happy hours will instead be rushing home to see his kids. You think about being around to see your child graduate from college or get married. So you exercise, eat and take care of yourself a little better.

All around, the quality of your life will improve!




2) You become more sensitive (in a good way)

 Okay guys, we're going to take a second an talk about our feelings.
I can already hear the collective groans from you all. But c'mon! Before you click out of this post, at least hear me out:

Throughout history, man has struggled to define what it means to be masculine. The current myth of masculinity tends to lean towards physicality and stoicism : someone who can provide for his family, whittle a chair out of a tree stump with a pocket knife and the only time you might see him cry is when his favorite sports team loses. In their world, feelings were trivial pursuits reserved only for housewives and pansies.

                               "I'm sorry, I'm way too busy stabbing gorillas in the neck to talk about how I'm feeling"


A lot of boys (including myself) were thought that tears is a sign a weakness and as a result, we carried that mindset with us into adulthood and developed a habit of suppressing our emotions.

I have fatherhood to partly thank for snapping me out of that fallacy.

Seeing the miracle of both my first son  being born stirred within me emotions I didn't realize were there and on that day, I felt me warmth of my tears rolling down my cheeks. I was crying uncontrollably.

In front of the doctor and nurses.

And I couldn't care less.

This  experience along with the many others that I have shared with my family have taught me that by allowing myself to open up and be more sensitive, I can be more in tune with my kids' feelings and therefore better able to identify and meet their needs. I've found that this skill set has also helped me with connecting with others in both my personal and professional life.


3) Your inhibitions are freed

Photo Credit

Before becoming a dad, I never would have imagined that I, as a grown man, would be flapping my arms and clucking like a chicken in a crowded supermarket without needing to be commuted to an insane asylum. Before that time , you probably wouldn't see me in a hibachi restaurant sticking chopsticks on each side of my mouth, doing my best walrus impersonation.

As a father, you're less concerned with what other people think. What matters most to you is the smile that spreads across your kid's face when you perform those silly antics. With that mindset, you can channel the confidence to ace that presentation at work, or have a great interview or tear up the stage during karaoke night.


4) You become a deeper-thinker

The maturity you gain as a father gives you the ability to think about the world and your place in it. You'll realize the ephemeral nature of time and with that, the increased desire to do more with what you are given. You will ask yourself many life altering questions, among them might be:

  • What type of legacy do I want to leave behind for my children?

  • In what ways am I improving everyday as a father?

  • How has the way my parents raised and molded me, affected the way I parent my own children today?

Questions like these will lead you further down the path of manhood. I have learned that once you begin to find these answers, you cannot help but emerge a better father and overall human being.
 
 


5) People Look Up to You

Photo Credit


It is an unfortunate fact that fatherlessness is an epidemic that is affecting communities world wide. Despite this, it seems that the general population understands the importance of a positive father figure in a young person's life. That's probably the reason when I'm out alone with my son, that I'm usually approached and commended for what I'm "doing". To me, it's something that comes natural: He's my son, so OF COURSE he and I spend special alone time together. But to others, they see it as something that to them is a rare occurrence and worthy of walking up to a complete stranger to show their appreciation. You would have thought that I saved a life. However, after reading some of these staggering statistics from the Fatherless Generation website, maybe that is exactly what I'm doing.

Nevertheless, as nice as the compliments are, I do long for the day that strangers see me with my kids and I'm less likely to receive compliments. Because when that time comes, it would mean that seeing good dads has become more of the norm, rather than a novelty. From my observations at least, I notice a quite a few dad's who also adopt this hands on approach to parenting that are bucking the trend. Seeing that gives me hope for the next generation and future generations to come.


Is there something I missed? Do you disagree? What do you think other benefits of being a father? Comment below!

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Jul 22, 2013

Burnin' Rubber with Toy State: Road Rippers, DUB Garage, CAT/CAT Preschool and 007 (Reviews and Giveaway)

(Congrats to Lynn from Quebec, Canada for winning this giveaway!)


*Disclaimer: All toys were provided to me at no cost, but all of the opinions are completely my own*
 



Even at the tender age of four, it’s obvious that my son is a car and truck fanatic. Whether it’s at home, at school with his friends, or pointing them out on the street, things with wheels and loud, rumbling motors are never too far from his mind!
 
It is for this reason, that I am a big fan of Toy State. Toy State is a widely popular manufacturer that has a talent for creating some of the hottest vehicle-based toys on the market. My son and I have been fortunate enough to play with review a number of toys from some of their top product lines.
 
The toys that I will be going over in this posting are from Road Rippers, DUB Garage, CAT, CAT Preschool and 007. Each of these product lines have a wide selection of vehicles that come in an assortment of sizes, designs and features, so you are virtually guaranteed to find the right gift for your child no matter what their age range or preference.
 
 
Road Rippers are a fleet of ultra-cool, custom design vehicles just for you! Multiple play functions, lights, sound fun, and all the best licensed and custom body styles will keep playtime rolling all day long! There were two of these that we got to try out:
 
Come-Back Racers
 
Have you ever had an awesome pet that was fun to play with and came to you whenever you called it?  Well, that’s basically what it’s like to have a Come-Back Racer, except instead of it having fur and paws, it has cool paint job and a sweet set of rims. The one my son and I got to play with is an exact scale model of a performance grade Dodge Ram. It’s battery operated (included, which isn’t always the case for some toys you buy these days)and has three buttons on its roof  that revs the engine and makes it either race, dance back and forth to a song, or drives forward, then comes right back to you. If noise is an issue for you, there is a mute button conveniently located on the underside of the car, a setting that is not included with most pets.
 
 
Hatchbacks
 
 
 
Anything with flashing lights and music are sure to get all the kiddies excited. Never has this statement been truer than with Road Rippers Hatchbacks. Each car is modeled after real race cars (the one we received is modeled after to the 2012 MINI Countryman that was actually raced in the 2012 World Rally Championship). All of them are also tricked out with a special speaker system that rotates through three customized styles each time you open up the hatch.
 

 
 
 
 
The brainchild of DUB Magazine and Toy State, DUB Garage presents a fleet of sleek, custom-made vehicles that look like something straight out of a Fast and Furious movie. The one I received was the Beatmakerz edition. At the push of a button, the car lights up and in the back, there is a sound board that allows your child to become a DJ and create music mixes with realistic DJ scratches and song. There are other DUB Garage cars that are motorized and are remote controlled. With cars like these, it’s no wonder that their motto is that their product “Makes Other Toys Seems Just Like Toys”
 
 
 
What I love about the CAT & CAT Preschool line is the effort that is makes to resemble and function like the real Caterpillar machines and vehicles that you would typically see at a construction site.
 
 
 
Take for instance, the CAT Mini Playset which was created to be played either on its own, or with the Iron Diesel Train Set (See review for this product HERE). Because of the realistic look of the forklift, barrels and conveyor belt, my son and I were able to create a bunch of fun games that were also educational. The knob needs to be manually turned, which is great for developing a young child’s motor skills and enhancement of their understanding of basic mechanics. You truly do experience the "feel of real".
 
 

The CAT Preschool Bump & Go Dump Truck is designed to pack a wallop while also providing easy of use. All you have to do is push a button and watch it light up and go…and go…. And go. The truck drives forward until it hits an obstacle, like a wall. Then, it goes in reverse, makes a K-turn and it just keeps on driving. The only way to keep it from going is to push the button on top, so it’s a great no-frills, entertaining toy for a younger child. With toys like this, CAT Preschool proves once again that it's "never too early to get to work"!
 
           
 
 
In celebration of the James Bond movie franchise reaching its 50th anniversary, Toy State has commissioned some pretty cool cars with amazing features.  This includes the Aston Martin DB5, which was featured in Casino Royal (a.k.a. the first movie where Daniel Craig took up the Bond mantle). The car is a flawless replica and it’s pretty solid and durable feeling in your hand. However, the biggest draw for this car by far has to be the light-up and motorized features: Push, the first button, the car zooms approx. 6 feet across the room. Push the 2nd button, it starts playing the original James Bond theme music. The third button simultaneously beeps the horn while flashing its lights.
 
Any one of the fantastic toys will keep playtime rolling for hours and make your child the coolest kid on the block!

All of these Toys are Available at Target and Amazon,
 
The Giveaway
 
We will be giving away one of the vehicles from Toy State’s Road Rippers collection!
 
How to Win: In order to win this awesome prize, all you have to do is make an entry.  At the end of the giveaway, the winner will be randomly chosen You can add an entry in the following ways:
 
One (1) Comment on this post = 1 Entry
Like Fatherly Stuff’s Facebook Page = 1 Entry
Follow Fatherly Stuff on Twitter = 1 Entry
One (1) Retweet about this giveaway = 1 Entry

Must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be announced on Saturday,7/27/13
 
Check out the Rafflecopter box below for more details. Thanks for reading and keep on truckin'!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jul 16, 2013

An Open Letter to My Sons



The following is a poem to my sons that was inspired by the reactions to the death of Treyvon Martin and the subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman:
Before I continue, I want to establish a few things:

1)      I personally do not believe that the Zimmerman verdict was a result of racism. I believe it was due to the defense doing a better job proving their case than the prosecution
2)        While it is not clear exactly what happened on that fateful night,  I do think that the root of those events stemmed one person’s ill-fated judgment of another  based on the color of their skin and the clothes on their back
3)        The wildly polarized reactions of this case across the span of social media, shows the issue of race is not only alive, but it is a thriving pressure cooker that has once again come to a boil
My Sons,
Let me tell you a story…
One day when I was a young man, I met your mom.
She was smart, beautiful and most importantly, she thought my jokes were funny.

And so, I asked her to be mine. She said yes.
And our love grew.
It grew so much that it made God smile. He smiled so much that he decided to give us two very special gifts.
And those gifts were you.
HE made you in our image
HE gave one of you my nose, the other her smile
And he  gave something very unique to the both of you: Our color
Oh yes, that’s right;
 I should probably mention:
That I’m what they call Black
And
Your Mother, she’s something that they call White
We never mentioned this to you because it doesn’t matter
And besides
That’s not how we teach you to see the world
And that’s not how we saw each other
The only thing we saw when we looked at each other was Love
We never noticed silly things like that
Unfortunately, there are people in this world who don’t see Love
They only see color
And those same people think that it’s wrong for me and your mom to be together
Those same people will look at you, my sons
And not see you as precious gifts from God
They will only see you as color
And so, to no fault of your own

Before they even get a chance to get to know you
They will try to disrespect you
Try to define you
Try to deprive you
Try to demoralize you
And try to defeat you
They will try
And Try
And Try
But they will fail.
Because you both are stronger than that
And not only will you persevere
But will triumph!
Because Love transcends color
And ignorance
And prejudice
So go forth, my sons
The torch has been passed
And show the world
The Love is the future
That Love is an unstoppable force
That the Love within you will one day change the world
 
Love Always,
Dad

 

Jul 14, 2013

Into the Breech


As parents navigating a pregnancy, you always have in the back of your mind that there's a chance that something negative could occur. All of us have that friend or a friend of a friend that had such an experience. However, it isn't until you're directly confronted with that "something"  that your nerves are truly tested.

So last week my wife had her routine doctor's appointment for her 33rd week and it couldn't come soon enough: a few days prior, she was experiencing what seemed to us an unusual amount of Braxton-Hicks contractions. After meeting with her doctor, my wife called me at work with a good news/bad news scenario:
The good news: The Braxton-Hicks contractions were normal and there was no evidence that she was in any danger of a premature birth.

The bad news: The doctor discovered that the baby was breech.

For those who don't know, when a baby is breech their head is not facing the normal down position, but rather facing upright. This can cause a whole mess of complications that put both the baby and mother as risk. Here's an in-womb illustration:


Because of this, the doctor gave us a two week timetable to see if the baby will turn on his own. If not, the doctor will have to perform something called an external cephalic version, which is just fancy talk for slapping on some latex gloves, rubbing some jelly on a pregnant belly and manipulating it until the baby's head is facing the normal downward position.

Being unfamiliar (and uncomfortable) with this procedure, my wife and I did some research on the interned and came across the following video:



 

 
After we picked our mouths up from the floor from shock, we were determined to do everything in our power to avoid doctor's intervention and get this baby to turn back around on his own. The procedure has about a 50% percent success rate and I just didn't look safe at all. Gathering information from friends, family and the Internet, we tried a number of methods to get the baby to flip from  having mommy lie in a decline position by placing 2-3 pillows at the base on her spine (didn't work), to putting a bag of frozen peas on the top of her belly (didn't work either). One site however that we found to be particularly helpful is Spinning Babies.  This site is an amazing resource to help parents understand exactly what is going on when a baby is spinning inside it's mommy's belly and how her positioning affects that rotation. From this site we learned a few daily stretches that are supposed to promote healthy fetal positioning, but we didn't know for sure if it was actually working. 
 
Soon after this came the moment of truth: Our 36th week follow up appointment. Miraculously, the baby managed to flip head down on his own and he was completely healthy (DEEP sigh of relief)!! Was it the due to the yoga-like positioning that caused the baby to turn? Or was it the frozen peas? It's too hard to tell. But what I do know is receiving this good news really put things into prospective and taught us a couple of lessons: 1) A healthy, complication-free pregnancy is a gift and should never be taken for granted and 2) Should any complications occur, my wife and I are both at our best when we lean on and draw strength from each other.

Jul 13, 2013

4Am Reflections (Parental Destiny)

As I write this, it is Saturday at 3:54am. 5 years ago, I probably would be crawling back into bed after a night of partying. But that was the old me. Right now, I'm laying in bed unable to sleep and somehow, despite being in a queen size bed, my 4 year old's leg has somehow found itself sprawled across my chest. He crept into my bedroom about an hour ago claiming that a sound in his room scared him and he needed
"protection
".

My wife is in the livingroom with our 4 day old baby boy. I haven't heard any crying recently, so I hope that she has managed to squeeze some sleep in between feedings. This is our 2nd night together as our new family since we brought the baby home from the hospital. As intense and dramatic it is to experience all of the events leading up to and during labor, then personally witnessing the miracle of life the 2nd time around, there is a certain calmness to it all.

If you're a believer in God or simply in the concept of destiny, you have the understanding that the events that occur in our individual lives aren't simply random happenstance,  but predetermined years before you were born, maybe as early as the begining of time. I truly believe that it was those forces that have guided my life this far from a young man crawling into bed at 4am, to fufill my purpose, my destiny as a father of these two young boys. It's incredibly easy for us as humans to make other humans (procreate), but it takes a particular about of fortitude, heart and courage to actually take on the heavy responsibility of parenthood. And there's something about lying here, next to my firstborn at 4 in the morning, that gives me this feeling of completeness knowing without a shadow of a doubt that not only is this where I want to be, it's where I'm supposed to be.
These are my honest thoughts and I'm going to post this immediately after I'm finished, unfiltered and unedited.

Ok, I'm going to try to fall asleep before I ramble any further.

Jul 7, 2013

Kidobi Review: Changing the Way Children Learn


In a world where technology is becoming more and more of a presence in our lives, I believe that it is our responsibility as parents to be a filter for our impressionable children and monitor what they are exposed to on a daily basis. With the huge amounts of negative media out there that portray violence and just pure nonsensical content, this can be quite the daunting task. While there are a few kid friendly programming on regular TV and cable, there are however three major setbacks to them:

1.  No Control- You have ZERO control over the TV lineup, so if your child wants to watch his favorite show at 8am but it isn't scheduled to air until 930 that could be a problem. Hey, not everyone has TiVo! :-)

2.  Commercials- Some of these channels might have commercials in between programming that might be inappropriate for your child to watch

3.  Lack of Flexibility- A few of these channels only show kid- friendly programs for a limited per day, usually in the morning and early afternoon. But what if  you and your child are out running errands during that time?

 It is because of these reasons, that I am thankful for programs like Kidobi because they make my job a little bit easier.

Kidobi is an online media content provider that gives you and your child access to thousands of videos that are geared towards education and personal development. The age range for this program is from 2 through 6+ and you can tailor each video to virtually any subject or interest that your child may be interested in. The subjects vary from  (but are not limited to) math, science, language skills, social interactions and even arts and crafts.  The Kidobi app is available for both Apple and Android tablets and smartphones, as well as on any desktop. So whether you're at home or on the go, it's pretty cool to know that you have all of this entertainment at your fingertips.

When you log in for the first time, you set your kid’s age and from there, Kidobi gives you the option to actually program your family values so they can ensue it won’t add shows that may contradict them.


Set your family values and curriculum!


 
Once you configure these settings, Kidobi will begin to recommend videos based on your preferences. You have the option to either used the Playlist Wizard that will generate a group of videos with a preferred time limit, or you can simply click on a video to watch. I got to say, some of the videos seem rather dated: If I had to guess I would day that a lot of them were probably done in the mid to late 90's. This however does not take away from the educational quality of the content itself. Besides, my son who is of preschool age did not notice this and was thoroughly entertained nonetheless. There are also parental controls put in place that prevent children from wandering off and messing with other things on your computer, tablet or smartphone.


You can click on a video, or you can create a playlist of your own. Or let Kidobi create one for you!
Kidobi completely takes the guesswork out of finding quality, educational content that is also commercial free. It's no wonder this company was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Children's Product.
 
As I mentioned, Kidobi is available on you personal computer and all Android and Apple devices. You can create a free account with limited access, which I would recommend signing up for as a trial run. This will help you decide on whether  to opt for a paid subscription , which gives you access to premium videos for only $4/month.
 
If you decide to sign up, contact me and let me know how things are going!
 
*Disclaimer a free subscription of Kidobi was given to me is exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own*
 
For more information, please visit the Kidobi home page. Or you can follow the on Twitter and on Facebook.

Jul 3, 2013

Some Urine and a Dream (Of Gender Prediction)


In one of my previous posts, I talked about the amazing experience I shared with my family when we found out we were having another boy. While I would have loved to have a little daddy's girl, I was pretty excited for a  boy- I was not looking forward to chasing boys out of my house. Although I did have a plan:


One of the favorite things parents like to do is speculate about sex of a baby. There are some out there who prefer to find out on the day the baby’s born. While I do respect a couple's individual right to choose, I think it would drive both me and my wife nuts if we had to wait that long. For this particular pregnancy, a significant amount of time and effort was made in order to defy nature and accurately predict the sex. Through vehicles such as Baby Center and old wives tales, we went on somewhat of an odyssey to solve an unsolvable riddle.

Full disclosure here. The following three gender prediction techniques I'm going to discuss all involve urine in some shape or form. So those who find this subject matter... unpleasant, it is suggested that you not read the rest of this post.
 
Red Cabbage

For this test, you need to purchase red cabbage, cut it into chunks and boil it in water. Then, mix the resulting colored water with equal parts urine in a (preferably) disposable cup. According to legend, if the water turns red/pink, then it'll be a boy. It will be a girl if the water turns purple/blue.

Results: We got a dark purple, which would mean our baby boy should have been a girl.

 
This was when she was convinced that it would be a girl

Baking Soda
This test is rather simple. All you need to do is put a few teaspoons of baking soda in a disposable cup and you mix in a little urine. If the combination fizzles, then you are having a boy. If not then it's a girl.

Results: As the concoction did not fizzle, all directions we seemingly leading to a baby girl. \






Kool Aid (Lemonade Flavor)

The particular gem of a test was found on a forum on Babycenter.com. You are supposed to mix the urine with the mix and if it turns yellow, it's a boy and for a girl, the mix will turn orange.

Results: This one got it right and correctly predicted that we would be having a boy. Ironically enough, this test was a prank made up by some of the moms on the site who wanted to see how many people they could get to take it.

In all, the takeaway my wife took from this adventure was this: If you are looking for anything more than an entertaining way to keep yourselves occupied until the normally scheduled appointment, you will be severely disappointed. 
So if you do decide to take any of these tests, remember to have fun. Because you never know, the one you take might actually get it right (or not). 
 
Question: Have you tried these or any other gender predictor methods? Did it work?

Jul 2, 2013

Summer Sizzling on the Grill

As the 4th of July approaches, I'm sure most of you (like myself) are going to be out there in your backyards and local parks grilling. The following article has been passed along to me and was written by Chef Marshall O'Brien, for Produce for Kids. It contains some great advice about grilling and how to get your children involved. I sincerely hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

Summer Sizzling on the Grill

By Chef Marshall O’Brien

 

The weather is heating up and summer is right around the corner. It’s time for outdoor cooking once again. When it comes to getting kids involved with cooking, grilling offers a great opportunity to experience fruits and vegetables in refreshing new ways. Asparagus, zucchini, and yellow squash offer a tasty change to the normal routine. How about grilled broccoli or cauliflower? Maybe sweet pineapple, cantaloupe, peaches and pears? Read on to see how to enjoy these favorites all summer long.
Preparing the Grill - Make sure your grill is ready for those succulent delicacies. Scrub down the grill top using a steel brush. Depending on your child’s age, this can be a great lesson for them in taking ownership and care. Wipe the grate with an oiled cloth (an old piece of shirt bundled and tied works great) to remove any dust residue. If you have a gas grill, make sure the burner airways are clean and clear of cobwebs and debris. It’s critical for safety sake to first have the gas disconnected if you are taking your grill apart. Using mild soap and water and a skinny brush (that should be able to get inside the burner tubes), clean burners as needed. Essential items to have on hand when you’re grilling are: a pan with oil to keep grill top clean, steel brush, tongs (make sure they actually hold the food when being pinched), metal spatula and a serving dish.
 
Broccoli & Cauliflower – Take whole heads of cauliflower and broccoli, wash, then slice 1/4 inch cross section. Most children enjoy helping drizzle veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once grill is hot and grate is cleaned and oiled, add broccoli and cauliflower and cook until there are grill marks, and pieces are slightly tender, about 2-4 minutes per side. Remove from grill and serve.
 
Pineapple, cantaloupe – Cut fruit cross-section, about ½ inch, so it’s a circle piece. Slice in half, like a half moon. Remove seeds from cantaloupe. With grill on medium high heat, add fruit and cook until there are grill marks, and pieces are slightly tender, about 1-3 minutes per side. Remove from grill, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
 
Peaches nectarines, plums – Slice fruit in half, stone removed. Once grill is hot and ready to go, lay fruit cut side down and cook about 2-3 minutes each side, or until fruit is tender with light brown grill marks. If you want to add an extra “wow” to this, simply reduce some balsamic vinegar until it’s a syrup and drizzle on top.
 
Grilling presents the perfect opportunity to get any child to connect with what they are going to eat by asking them questions.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Why does the color change when it’s cooking?
2. Why does the texture change?
3. Why does the shape change?
The below delicious, family-friendly grilling recipes are perfect for any upcoming BBQs you may be hosting:  
 

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Ingredients:
·   1 lb. ground turkey
·   1 cup panko breadcrumbs
·   1 egg
·   1 Tbsp. fresh basil, (or ⅓ Tbsp. dried) chopped fine
·   1 cup mushrooms, washed/dried, sliced
·   ½ medium sweet onion, sliced
·   2 Tbsp. butter
·   4 slices, deli style mozzarella cheese (¾ oz. each)
·   1 large tomato, sliced
·   4 whole grain burger buns
Directions:
1. In large bowl, mix breadcrumbs, egg, basil, and salt. Once mixed, add ground turkey and mix well. Make patties about the size of the bun.
2. In frying pan, on medium/high heat add butter, mushrooms and onions and cook about 10 minutes until tender and brown. Turn heat to low and keep warm.
3. Pan-fry or grill, on medium heat, burgers until firm (about 4-5 minutes a side).
4. Assemble bun with burger, cheese, tomato and onion/mushroom mixture.
Serves 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:
·   1 apple, cored, sliced
·   4 rainbow peppers, seeded, sliced
·   ½ mango, skinned, diced
·   ½ fresh lemon, juiced
·   2 Tbsp. olive oil
Directions:
1. Thoroughly toss apples, peppers, mango, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl.
2. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Steak & Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Ingredients:
Steak: 
·   ¼ cup olive oil
·   3 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
·   1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
·   4 (5 oz.) chuck eye steaks
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes:
·   2 large potatoes, chunked
·   1 head cauliflower, chopped
·   ½ cup half-and-half
·   ⅛ tsp. paprika
Directions:
Steak:  
1. Combine olive oil, garlic, and rosemary to make a paste. Cover with steaks and let marinate until ready to cook (at least 15 minutes.)
2. Once marinated, broil, pan fry or grill the steaks (to cook medium rare, cook 4-5 minutes per side.) Remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Cauliflower:
1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in medium saucepan; add potatoes and cauliflower, and boil 15 minutes, or until soft. Remove from heat and drain. 
2. Mash potatoes and cauliflower in large bowl. Add half-and-half, paprika, and season with salt and pepper, as desired.
 

Pineapple Pork Kebobs

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 25 Minutes
Ingredients:

Rosemary Garlic Marinade

·   ½ cup olive oil
·   2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced 
·   4 cloves garlic, minced 

Pineapple Pork Kebobs

·   1 lb. pork tenderloin, cut 1-inch chunks
·   1 cup pineapple, cut 1-inch chunks
·   1 cup sweet onion, cut 1-inch chunks
·   1 cup rainbow peppers, cut 1-inch chunks
·   10-inch skewers, soaked

Rosemary Veggies

·   2 cups broccoli, chunked
·   1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
·   4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Directions:

Rosemary Garlic Marinade

1. Mix olive oil, rosemary and garlic in small mixing bowl. Divide in half.

Pineapple Pork Kebobs

1. Thread pork, pineapple, onions and peppers onto skewers.
2. Brush skewers with half of Rosemary Garlic Marinade, season with salt. Let stand 5 minutes.
3. Place skewers under preheated broiler 5 inches from heat; broil 10-15 minutes or until meat is firm and lightly browned.

Rosemary Veggies

1. Heat remaining marinade in large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and cherry tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green and tender.
2. Remove from heat and add cheese.