Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving, as usual, came and went with a blur. Some notable moments and thoughts:

I Love a Parade
The Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade has always been a centerpiece of my Thanksgiving Day. As a wee lad, it was practically a race to get to Gram’s house for breakfast after church, where my cousins and I would sit in front of the TV without blinking for 3 hours taking it all in. If someone walked in front of the set, it was hell to pay. One year, I even saw it live from the southeast curb of Columbus Circle in the middle of a blizzard after church at St. Patrick’s. To this day, I am still mesmerized by the parade, and it’s not Thanksgiving if I don’t see it. But my kids can’t be bothered. They’ll watch, but they’re not glued to it like I was, and it makes me wonder what’s changed over the years. And I have to say, Meredith Vieira did a great job co-hosting her first parade. Katie who?

Traditional Food
I’m a pure Irishman on my dad’s side, German on my mom’s side, and I grew up not far from Baltimore. So you can imagine that sauerkraut is a staple in our family food traditions. We eat it hot or cold, we’re not fussy, and we love it. But my in-laws do not. Every Thanksgiving, I prepare it, spice it up with red pepper flakes and black pepper, cooking it for hours to get it good and sour. And they hate it. But, like the parade, it’s just not Thanksgiving without it.

There were 17 of us for dinner this year, and we usually are led in prayer by my wife’s Uncle Ron. However, this year, the girls led us in a blessing Fiona picked up at preschool that has become our family blessing: “Thank You for the food we eat, Thank You for the world so sweet, Thank You for the birds that sing, Thank You, God, for everything.” When your almost 6 and 4 year olds lead 17 people in prayer it not only brings a tear to the eye, but joy to the heart. When did they get so big?

We’re addicted to Blokus. It’s a combination of plot your move and screw your competition bliss and it’s addictive. My wife and I have been playing with my sister-in-law and her husband every time we’re all together, and it’s just plain fun. I won my first game Thanksgiving night and I won’t deny it, I felt awesome. Round after round of losing, I finally smeared them. There’s hope for a PR guy from a toy company after all. Go get Blokus and play it over and over again. Put the kids to bed, uncork a couple bottles of good red wine and screw your neighbor till you win!

Happy Feet
We decided to skip the Black Friday rush and go to the movies instead. 8 of us anxiously awaited the cutest movie of the year, first suffering through 15 minutes of previews (!) and constantly fending the girls off of the bag of Twizzlers and Kissables. The movie was cute, but was overly burdened by a need to make a children’s movie double as a politically charged activist statement about pollution and overfishing. There were a couple parts that were inappropriate and well over a child’s head. What ever happened to a normal G rated movie?

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

On this day of Thanksgiving, I figured I would take a moment to reflect on what has been one of the most hectic, stressful and yet, rewarding years of my life.

I’m thankful for my beautiful girls, who are growing and changing every day. Perhaps the best gift in the world is the chance to watch your babies become little people, with distinct personalities, talents and passions. This year in particular, with Skylar in first grade and Fiona now in preschool, each of them has taken on an independence that’s new for us, and terrifying, but at the same time, incredibly rewarding. I love when they tell me what happened at school every day. And what I love even more are the random moments when they look at me and smile, or run over and wrap their arms around me or grab my cheeks and pull me in for a peck. My girls are my world, they make life so very special and they underscore the mystery and magic of God’s wonders.

Of all the things that can clutter a marriage – careers, money and household chores among them – parenting can sometimes be the strongest force. I’m thankful this year that my wife and I have renewed our focus on each other, so that we don’t lose the spark that has drawn us together for so many years. From having more fun together, making more time for each other and supporting each others’ passions and interests and parenting styles, we’re lucky to have a lifetime ahead of us to celebrate each other.

I’m thankful for my family. This year I was reminded of how important family is. While on vacation in Florida, my aunt succumbed to her battle with cancer. I traveled home to Maryland for the funeral and was not only met with the shock of Cricket’s absence, but also of just how much I have been removed from my family for so many years. I moved to Connecticut after I graduated from college, and the rest of my family, on both sides, is still in Maryland. I’ve always heard that when you go off to college, you are forever 18 in the minds of the people you leave behind. It works in reverse too. Even though I have seen them off and on over the years, it’s amazing how unfamiliar I was with my own family when I last saw them. I recognized their spirit, their personalities, their humor, and I remembered vividly the details of their lives, but I was recalling my memories of them, not living in the moment of who they are now. It's sobering when you realize, even though it's not rocket science, that you're not the only person who has grown up and changed. I hope to spend more time visiting, or at least being in better touch with, the people who helped make me who I am today. And I hope we all can find peace and comfort in the knowledge that sometimes God takes the best ones back home because he needs them for something bigger. I will miss Cricket and her spirit, but I am grateful to have had her in my life.

I am thankful to have had a year of incredible success and excitement at work. We have been incredibly busy with good reason – as we launched an incredible new product and an exciting campaign to recognize and encourage creativity and its impact in the world. It’s not every year a person has such opportunity to find such reward in work, and I am thankful to my team for helping to make it a memorable year.

And I’m thankful to have found room in my life again for embracing the things that can’t necessarily be seen or touched, but certainly can be felt. It has been years since I went to church (other than on holidays), but I think we have found a new community where we can share friendship and prayer. Life’s chaos can make it easy to set aside anything that’s not necessary, so I am grateful to have been awakened to the fact that those things bigger than us, that yes, do require a leap of faith and a commitment to early Sundays, can help us more than we can help ourselves.

As I type my thanks this time next year, I will be thankful if I can say that I have continued to be the best father I can be, the most supportive and loving husband I can be, a less removed member of the family, successful at work and spiritually connected to something more powerful than me. And I hope to continue to recognize how delicate, special and beautiful every day can be.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy your holiday traditions, start new ones, and have a memorable time with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Makin a List, Checkin it Twice

It's that time of year again...the turkey won't even be completely chilled in the fridge before the Black Friday rush begins to get everything the kids are wishing for.

Because the girls have outgrown the Wiggles, which is now on our beloved Disney Channel every morning at 7, they have commanded the remote and found Nickelodeon, which we never used to let them watch because of the commercials. Unfortunately, every commercial that comes on makes one of the girls say "I want that! Put it on the list" and "Oh, oh, oh, puh-leeeeeeease can we put that on the list?"

The list. They refer to it like it's Holy Grail. "THE LIST!"

We're very diligent to tell them that Santa Claus doesn't always bring something just because it's on the list. They shrug us off and roll their eyes when we say it.

Fiona wants anything with an Ariel on it. And a trompabone (trombone) and a drum set ("so I can bang bang bang crash all day long!" she says). Skylar wants some robotic dog that has a wet tongue, a scooter and some diamond-studded Bratz dolls. Fiona also wants some road cruiser that the diamond Bratz pile into. And then there are the things they ask to throw on "THE LIST" and they don't even know what they do or what they would be used for.

And everyone has a list. Toys "R" Us calls it the Fabulous 15. Toy Wishes calls it the Hot Dozen. Toy Insider calls it the Top 20.

Plenty of other resources are good stops when trying to figure out just what to get from the list. Today Show contributors Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim do thorough testing, Chris Byrne (aka The Toy Guy) has fun all year long with toys, The National Parenting Center and Parents' Choice Foundation are two other good references. Dr. Toy always has a few tips, and Herb Weisbaum (aka Consumer Man) is taking a look at educational toys for

Herb makes a good point in his story: "Just because it’s on the shelf or advertised on TV doesn’t mean it’s a good toy. You can’t even go by what your kids tell you they want — they’re too easily swayed by TV commercials."

My suggestion: look for toys that have play value to them. Something that lights up or says the same thing over and over again doesn't have sustainable play value. My wife and I like to find the things that we know will spur role play (dress-up clothes, dolls), creativity (craft kits, LEGO), learning (like musical instruments) and repeated social/family play (board games -- we love the Cranium games like Hullabaloo and Balloon Lagoon!). Of course, we give way to some of the "hotter" things, but they don't dominate.

The big surprise this year: my wife and I love our iMac so much, we bought a Mac Mini for the girls, complete with some games and creative software. I can't wait until they see it (and start fighting over it) and let me get back to my iTunes and blogging on the iMac!

So this year, don't fret. Get organized, check the facts, read the reviews and opinions, and choose wisely. As long as you get one or two of the things on "the list," you can have your way with the rest.

P.S.: We're NOT going to be out in the mad shopping rush this time around on Friday -- instead, the whole family -- both sets of grandparents, aunt and uncle, my wife, girls and I -- are going to the movies to see "Happy Feet." With any luck, it could become our new day-after-Thanksgiving tradition to take in some good old film fun.

And probably will spur some additions to the toy list.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Random Thoughts with Dad in Progress

So I’ve seen some other dads do a quick brain dump of quick hits, and it’s kind of fun, especially handy if you don’t have any other rays of genius to share, so here goes my first musing on life’s peculiarities.

Dancing With the Stars

Why do we love it? I mean seriously, a random cast of characters – NFL footballers, ex-“Saved by the Bell" and “Blossom” actors, trash talk show hosts – all training for weeks on end to dance!? Is it our inexplicable love of all things ridiculously stupid and humiliating? A chance to poke fun at the mo-mos? Our bizarre fascination with odd talent? Nostalgia for the b-list syndicated shows? Or is it admiration for their dedication, unabashed willingness to possibly fail? Curious wonder at how the little costumes stay on? I don’t know what it is, but we love “Dancing With the Stars,” almost as much as we loved “Skating With Celebrities," and we can't wait for it to start again.

Holiday Taste Buds

Does it happen to you too? This time of year, the mere suggestion of some cutesy flavor gets me every time? Where my usual grande non-fat latte at Starbucks is overruled when the option to indulge in an “Eggnog Latte” presents. The Dunkin’ Donuts corn muffin gives way to the fancy pumpkin version with crumb topping. Or the way I bought “special edition” gingerbread graham crackers the other day. Or how a gallon of peppermint stick ice cream beckons louder than my perennial vanilla bean. The thing is, I know they all usually taste like crap. Every time. But I can’t manage to NOT order them.

Breaking Down

It seems that every year around the holidays, little things start to happen to need fixing or replacing. You know, just because it’s that time of year when you don’t have the extra money for the unexpected things, because it’s all tied up in Christmas shopping. This year is no different. Out of nowhere, our dryer just stopped getting warm. Our kitchen sink is leaking into the cabinet underneath. Two of our toilets won’t stop running unless we jiggle the handle. And we, for whatever reason a week before Thanksgiving, finally decided to have a major indoor painting project done, so the house is torn apart. It’s annoying. But, this year, I’m going to try to remember that my household issues will help the handymen do their Christmas shopping.

Camry Drivers

A good friend of mine once mentioned that Camry drivers are all incompetent. She gave a few examples of how near misses on the highway, etc. were all involving the illustrious Camry. So my wife and I now play the equivalent of the Beetle Bug game whenever we spot horrendous driving. And guess what? If there is a right-hand turn being made from the left lane, a crazy brake pumper, a swerver, an aggressive backer-upper at the local market, someone driving along for miles with a blinker on, someone who pulls out on you then goes slow, someone who insists on leaving 2 full car lengths between them and the car in front of them – even at a stop light, the moron who doesn’t know you can usually make a right turn on red or the person with the “I’m a member of the Speed Limit Club” bumper sticker…chances are very, very, very strong that they’re driving a Camry. Try it for yourself – see how many crazies you find behind the wheel of America’s worst drivers’ vehicle of choice. P.S. Sorry, Mom. I didn’t really mean you...on all of these examples.

Friday, November 17, 2006

When Work Doesn't Feel Like Work

Yesterday, I had one of those moments when what you do for work takes on a whole new meaning.

We created a program asking children across the country to donate one or more of their own LEGO bricks to send to the students in New Orleans whose communities and schools were affected by Hurricane Katrina last year. Children and families from all 50 states joined the effort, and contributed over 880,000 bricks to the cause. LEGO matched, brick for brick, so we just delivered 1,665,200 LEGO bricks to 40 schools in metro New Orleans for use in their classrooms on Friday.

I’ll start by saying I’m personally moved and on some level overwhelmed by the level and scope of participation. When we mapped out the program, we thought it would be great, albeit a stretch, to collect 500,000 bricks. The only way we communicated the program was through the media and some events in select markets, as well as on our web site. And the buzz spread. Families and children from every state in the union donated. Teachers ran brick drives in local schools. Boy Scouts organized their communities to do the same. A couple of moms spearheaded collections through their churches. We even had a couple of boomers contact their college grads, ask if it was okay, and then donated their childhood collections so that other children could continue to enjoy the fun of LEGO building.

We also asked kids to send us pictures, with their donation, of what they think a rebuilt New Orleans should look like. I was even more moved by some of the drawings and letters we received. You might think, when asking kids to imagine the future of a city, they would tell us there will be no more roads because everyone is flying little space cars, like in the Jetsons, or that there will be floating movie theaters and 24-hour arcades. But lots of kids told us that there should be schools and libraries where kids can learn and read. Playgrounds where kids can play. Parks where families can spend time together on the weekends. Hospitals where people can get well (and one girl told us the hospital ought to be pink!) Churches, where families can pray and be with God. Fire stations, flowers and trees. The suggestions were real and practical and thoughtful, the letters written carefully and with a lot of thought, the pictures beautifully drawn and colored. A school for the blind sent us textured collages they assembled, with letters in braille of what the city should rebuild. One little girl wrote “Wish on a star tonight so that when you wake up, your city will be the greatest city ever!”

Most kids don’t understand charity. Ask a child if they would rather buy something with their pocket money or give it to someone who needs it more, and they will likely tell you they’ll buy something. So, did LEGO help children understand the meaning of helping others? Did we connect with kids in a way that means something to them? Does LEGO really have that power?

We invited 75 children from the Good Shepherd School– an amazing school downtown that offers Catholic school education to poverty level children, funded completely through private donations and grants. Their parents do community service as a form of payment for their child’s attendance. They were the most well behaved, happy and respectful kids.

I asked the children how many of them had been affected by Hurricane Katrina last year, and every hand in the crowd went up. I asked them how many bricks they thought we had collected to donate.

“300!” “650!” “900!” One little boy then said, boldly “1,000?!” And when I told them they were way cold, not even warm, they got excited and one little girl shouted “A million!”

You should have seen the kids’ faces as we announced the how many bricks we collected for them and how many people had helped. They were touched – deeply. I asked them why they like to build.

“Because it’s fun to build!” and “I can make anything I want!” and “It makes me feel proud!”

And I asked them what they will build now that they have a new collection of bricks to use.

“A tower!” and “A car!” and “A flower!” and “A house!”

Next we unveiled a LEGO model we had a very talented LEGO artist, Nathan, build that drew inspiration from some of the letters and drawings we received about the future of New Orleans. And Nathan even made the hospital pink. The kids were so excited...and inspired.

I have to admit, my head was telling me a trip to New Orleans was the very last thing I wanted to have to make. I wondered what it would be like. Was it safe? Was it clean? Will it make me sad? And, truthfully, I’m so glad I went, because it was a rare chance that not many of us in the working world have to actually feel that what we call a career actually has the power to change the world...well, maybe just a community...but to make life better for people. To be something so much more than just a product or a brand or a job. To connect and inspire people. To give them license to be be creators.

To see more, check out LEGO Builders of Tomorrow. To see more of Nathan’s creative LEGO art, visit his site.

The Pit Boss and a Royal Heckling

We’re always amazed at how different our two girls are.

My older daughter is a quiet, gentle, cautious little girl, who always abides by the rules and will report when others aren’t. And my youngest daughter is so sweet, but also very sassy…Cheeky McCheeksters…Fesity Fiona. And today, she earned a new moniker.

Our master bedroom is on the first floor of the house, off the family room. Skylar was in with us getting dressed for school, and Fiona, who woke up grouchy and snappy, was lounging on the couch, remote in hand, calling up episodes of “Charlie and Lola” on DVR.

Suddenly, in a surly tone:

“Hey, what’s going on in there?”

My wife, daughter and I all looked at one another and shrugged our shoulders.

“Hello?! Hey!?” “You all better hurry it up in there.”

Again, we didn’t answer her, but looked at each other and chuckled. Skylar even rolled her eyes at us, as if to say “Here we go again.”

“I mean it. What’s taking you so long? Skylar get out here now!”

Apparently she was pausing the show while Skylar got dressed, and wasn’t happy with how long it was taking. But she grouped us all together in her barbs.

“Hurry up! I’m waiting. Mom, where are you?”

So I looked at my wife and said “We better get a move on. The Pit Boss is expecting us. I don’t know if I can take this heckling.” She agreed, laughing at the thought of Fiona being the Pit Boss.

So I peeked out of the bedroom door, and saw her lounged back like the Queen of the Nile, one foot dangling over the edge of the couch, remote in one hand, twirling her hair with the other and a scowl on her face.

I said, “Hey Boss, what’s the beef? Why are you heckling us, little heckler?”

She fought back a twisted smirk, trying so hard to keep looking mad, and said “Hurry it up.”

So this is the stuff of parenting. The random little sideshow acts that are unexpected, oddly bizarre, yet truly entertaining. She gives us a run for our money almost all the time, but the world is also our little Pit Boss’ stage, and she’s the constant comic.

I've Got a Crush on You

How is it that kids are getting older younger every single day? The other day, my almost 6 year-old daughter came into the room and here’s what transpired:
My wife: Hey sweetie.

Me: Hi baby, how are you?

My daughter: Good. (giggle) You know what?

Me: Tell me.

Her: Well, there are two boys in my class who have a crush on me.

Mt wife and I look at one another in utter disbelief.

Wife: Oh really?

Me: Who?

Her: Well, William told me that Sam has a crush on me. But so does Micha.

Me: Do you know what a crush is?

Her: (with a crinkled up nose) No.

Me: Okay.

Wife: How does William know that?

Her: Well, because Sam told him. So I looked at Sam and I asked him if he has a crush on me. And he just stared at me, and then he started to smile and then he looked away.

Me: Hmm…I wonder what a crush is.

Mt wife gave me that grin that says “Good one, Daddy.”

Her: Well I don’t know what it is. But Sam likes me. And so does Micah.

Me: Oh, really? And do you like them?

Her: Well, yeah, I like everyone. But I really like Daniel. He’s cute.

Wife: Oh is he really? Wow…

Me: Do you think you’ll marry him?

Her: Maybe.
We’re inclined to wonder if it’s because she’s the youngest one in the class, and maybe the older kids just know it already. Or maybe this, like all other evil, originates on the bus ride. Wherever it comes from, it scares us silly, even though it's also amusing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

50th Post

It seems hard to believe this is my 50th post. On one hand, seems like I have posted many more, but on the other, wondering how I've had 50 things to say. It's been fun learning the blogosphere and meeting new peeps -- thanks to everyone who frequents and reaches out.

My wife and I recently had one of those parenting conundrums: should we believe our child, or trust our guts?

My oldest daughter recently complained she didn't feel well and asked to stay home from school. She normally loves school, so we wondered what was going on. She didn't have a fever, no coughing, congestion, runny nose, sore throat.

"Is someone saying or doing things that make you sad?" She told us no.

"Is there something about gym class (it was a Wednesday) that's upsetting you?" No.

"Do you have a little quiz that you're worried about?" Not today, Mom.

"Is something happening on the bus that's bothering you?" No.

"Did something happen on the playground?" No, Dad.

"Miss Dorsey just moved your seat -- do you not like your new spot?" No, I like where I sit.

"Did you have a problem in the cafeteria?" No!

"Can you please tell us if there's something happening at school that's making you want to stay home?" There isn't, MOM!

After what must have seemed like the Spanish Inquisition, my wife and I looked at one another, puzzled and in disbelief. I mouthed "I don't believe her...something must be up, let's call the teacher."

She got very upset, started to cry and we let her stay home...against our better judgment. And it seemed as soon as we told her she could stay home, she was fine. Smiling, hopping. She had bounced back too quickly. Something was definitely up!

Come to find out, she was constipated...and worried that she would struggle in the classroom lavatory. But apparently, she was afraid to tell us...or she didn't know how to articulate how she was feeling. She just didn't feel "right" but not having to worry about being at school while feeling ick made her feel a little better.

What she told us after relief finally came was "Now I feel normal again."

What it must be like to be a 5 (going on 6) year-old and not know what words to use to communicate how you feel. But it crushes your heart when your little girl tells you through tears that she feels normal again.

So why did we not believe her? Or think of all the possible medical issues? Maybe we were just in a rush and weren't prepared for the unexpected "hassle" that morning before rushing off to work. Instead of realizing she wouldn't ask to stay home if it wasn't something real, we jumped to the conclusion that she was just trying to avoid something. Maybe we were tranferring our own tendencies of avoidance. Or perhaps we just forget to try to put ourselves in the shoes of a first grader.

I think back to when I was in school, and how I rarely, if ever asked to stay home. And how I remember my mom always said "I don't question him. If he doesn't want to go to school, it's no sense in sending him -- there must be a reason and I trust that he's not kidding." Funny, her trust made me want to be more honest.

Whoever said mother knows best may have been right (though fathers know lots, too!) I should take a lesson from my own mom and have a little more faith in my kids.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ho! Ho! How?!

Over lunch today, my wife and I agreed it was time to start making the holiday list -- though both of us wonder how in the world it's that time of year again.

So, rather than brooding about the impending rush, I decided to check a few resources that can kickstart some fun into the holiday prep -- especially since we'll all have some time off in the next two months to be with family.

Sometimes I like to find a game or craft or recipe for which I get all the stuff together and then surprise the family. The girls love the unepxected fun, and sometimes my wife appreciates a little time "off" if it's something I can do with the girls on my own.

So, in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I went digging for some good inspiration.

FamilyFun magazine offers a lot of really great creative inspiration for games, arts and crafts, recipes for cooking with kids and printable activity sheets. Check out their Thanksgiving page for a good mix of it all, including a fun approach to family flag football.

Kaboose offers some good ideas for any holiday, as does Childfun.

And, LEGO families behold: a family building activities booklet that gives inspiration for using your LEGO collection to turn ordinary games into extraordinary fun. Or, get building instructions to create a holiday hearth, sleigh or Christmas tree.

Come on, dads! Jump in and get creative. Have some fun. Make some memories.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Halloween Recap

Hereby a picture of the jack o'lanterns chez dadinprogress, so no one thinks I was joking in a previous post when I claimed to be a master pumpkin carver. Ariel took me the longest to do. However, mine are not near as impressive as the gourdal masterpiece that Creative Type Dad crafted as an homage to Colonel Sanders and KFC.

Despite some chaotic storms and strong wind all weekend, we managed to have our fourth freakishly warm Halloween night in Connecticut, with temperature in the low to mid 60s. You gotta love no coat over the costume.

Trick or Treat
My wife and I relished, for the first time this year, staying back and chatting at the sidewalk with friends while the girls ran up to the door and did their thing. Finally, Halloween freedom! Next year: how to weave a good bottle of red wine into the T-o-T routing. And, lo and behold, there were no stupid politicians knocking on doors last night or calling the house. But we enjoyed the respite from the TV and all the immature, unprofessional and utterly disgusting TV ads that have been cluttering our must see TV.

I had a touch of nostalgia last night when the girls carried UNICEF boxes in addition to their candy bags. I remember doing the same as a kid. To my surprise, everyone in the neighborhood was very generous. (Thank you!) Halfway through the neighborhood, Skylar said "I just got a whole dollar from that house. I'm gonna have a lot of money tonight!" So she didn't really understand charity, but did a good thing just the same.

When all was said and done, there weren't too many lollipops or pieces of bubble gum to throw out (no nos in our house!), and plenty of stuff left over. I'm eying some KitKats, but was only invited by the girls to have the Almond Joys. We threw out the loose candy corns (hello, who gives out four loose candy corns per child!?). And a sign of the times, we separated out the booty -- pencils, stickers and puzzles that apparently are trendy "value adds" to the candy. Surprisingly, I ate not one single piece of candy at all yesterday.

With the time change and all the activity, the girls were beat. Up a little past their bedtime, they also woke up early this morning. Both had school and then Skylar had gymnastics, so she was a little zombie tonight...a day late.

Daddy Wars

Stay-at-home dad extraordinnaire, Rebel Dad, recently started a debate on regarding a possible beginning of the "Daddy Wars", i.e. men bashing other men for their parenting style or dedication, similar to the "Mommy Wars" that have been cited as a growing issue.

A slew of comments have been posted to Rebel Dad's idea. When I take a step back and consider my own experience, I'd have to say I can't think of a time I've ever witnessed or engaged daddy bashing, nor do I think it's something that will ever happen.

However, some comments point to the potential for a battle in the workplace between men who prioritize family and men who prioritize career. I think there is some validity here, but perhaps not spoken debate. Which leads me to where I think the battle actually takes place. I think the so-called "Daddy Wars" are internal.

Today's dads are showing a stronger attraction and obligation to family and home involvement than the fathers of the '50s, for sure. Reports are showing dads spending more time with their kids, more time contributing to the household routine, and it's not just a matter of going through the motions -- information points to dads being actively engaged and prioritizing these things over what are commonly assumed to be typical male priorities. A survey LEGO conducted shows only 15% of dads feel "at their best" in the workplace, while a maority felt they were the best they could be when they spend time playing with their children. Today's dad wants to juggle, and wants to do it well.

But...that doesn't mean there isn't a "Daddy War" taking place internally, between the head and the heart, making men question their commitments, priorities and role as working men and dads. Personally, I have struggled with balancing work and home, with reducing the amount of time I work at home after hours, with not just being at home, but actively engaging my kids in meaningful dialogue and activities that aren't just fun for them, but for me, too.

I once had a reader comment that she was so appreiciative for dad bloggers, because her husband isn't prone to discuss his questions or issues openly as it pertains to balancing work and fatherhood. But online, he can, on his own time, comfortably seek the information he wants and needs. So, I think the war is definitely on, but it's a private and personal war that today's dads fight. And for good cause: to be better dads, to be more involved and to be happier.