Does It Make Sense to Add a Forum to a Blog?

Currently I’m creating a blog for a very specific group of people who are relocating to another state because of their job. In this case, the whole process of relocating is very confusing and there are several steps involved including an insane amount of paperwork. These people are looking for guidance, stress relief and community. My goal with the blog is to help them with all the knowledge and research gathered by myself and several others. The blog will feature posts about people’s experiences, lists of links, how-tos, reviews of other sites, etc.

We already know there will be many points where large discussions will take place. The question is, do we want these discussions to be in the form of a forum or the comment section on each post? I fell like every blogging tip site says to promote discussion as much as possible, but I don’t see anything mentioned about forums. It all seems to be about the comments.

Does anyone have any input on this? Please “comment” so i can get some guidance and stress relief, ha ha.

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Review: The Wiggles at the IZOD Center in NJ

Here’s my quick and dirty stab at reviewing The Wiggles show at the IZOD Center in NJ. This was our third year in a row seeing The Wiggles. My daughter just turned 4 this Summer and has been talking about going to see them since last year’s show. She specifically wanted to make a “zign” (sign) for Anthony to see. We were actually surprised she wanted to go since she watches and listens to them less and less. I guess she’s finally outgrowing The Wiggles, but tonight she let loose, dancing and singing all night long.

First we parked in the parking garage outside the arena. It was $15.00, which I thought was a huge ripoff. We got there around 5:30 and had a picnic in our car before going in. We walked into the arena and found our seats, located in the 13th row of section 125. The seats were good because only half the arena was used for the show. This tour is called The Wiggles Wiggly Circus, so the stage was setup with a big-top background, props for acrobatics, along with the usual drums, keyboard and guitar on the side of the stage. The show opened with some unfortunate news that Murray (the red Wiggle) had to go back to Australia due to family commitments. He had a stand-in named Ringo. This guy was 6′ 5″ and had a super deep voice. Another odd thing was Anthony having a shaved head. There’s nothing wrong with a shaved head, but I guess from watching the DVDs so much, you get used to a certain look for these guys.

I didn’t take great notes, I just tweeted the songs I recognized in between holding my daughter on my lap. The song list included Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car, Rock-A-Bye Your Bear, Yellow Bird (never heard this one), Hoop Dee Doo, Five Little Joeys, The Shimmie Shake, Getting Strong, The Monkey Dance, Fruit Salad, Quack Quack Song, Twinkle Twinkle, Hot Potato. There was also  a lot of background songs while they did acrobats and skits. Some I recognized from previous shows and some I didn’t.

Overall it was a typical Wiggles show, but I felt this show was dull compared to previous years. Don’t get me wrong… my daughter was going nuts in her seat for almost the entire show. She even got to hand Captain Feathersword a rose for Dorothy the Dinosaur and a bone for Wags the Dog. Something seemed weird though. Maybe it was our seats being further away than last year? Maybe it was Murray not being there? I did notice the cast was significantly less than previous years, so maybe that was it? I don’t know. I just thought it lacked the energy and excitement I felt in  previous shows. Maybe I’m the one outgrowing them???

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Reasons Why I Suck at Blogging

I call myself “The Blogging Dad”. Unfortunately, I don’t even know if I’m qualified to call myself a blogger yet, but I’m getting there. I’m definitely a dad, so at least I live up to my name a little. The blogging part is coming around slowly. I definitely have an interest and I definitely have knowledge, since I have guided a few others on their blogging journeys, but actually doing it seems to be where I’m failing. After reading this post, you will  see a trend and realize I’m a HUGE procrastinator. “Never more productive than the last minute” was my high school yearbook quote. The problem is there is no real deadline with a personal blog, so I never get to the last minute. So here are the reasons I suck at blogging.

  1. I started this blog to keep a journal of my wife’s pregnancy with twins, but only posted once about it.
  2. When I want to write about a topic, I put the title in a draft post and then never touch it again.
  3. I have more drafts than posts.
  4. I have started 6 blogs in 2 years and have no more than 12 posts, total.
  5. I help other people with blog tips and making money online, but not myself.
  6. I bought the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook over 6 months ago and haven’t got past the first day.
  7. I have been a web designer for over 10 years, but all my blogs except one use the default theme.
  8. I started following my first “making money online” blogs by Zac Johnson and John Chow over 2 years ago and have barely made any money because I just read and don’t do.
  9. I got Darren Rowse‘s book, ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income and Joel Comm‘s book, The AdSense Code: What Google Never Told You About Making Money with AdSense for Christmas in 2008, but never implemented any tips from the books. I’m shocked that I even read them.
  10. I have had a Google AdSense account for more than three years and I have only made a little over $20.
  11. I bought 18 domains for possible blogs over a year ago and have done nothing with them.
  12. I actually have Twitter followers and subscribers to this blog, but I barely post on it to keep them interested.
  13. I started this post’s draft back in October of 2009 and am now attempting to complete it in March 2010.

I’m sure I could keep going with this list, but I love the number “13″ and want to end it there. Really, I just want to be able to actually hit the “Publish” button instead of “Save Draft” for once. Do YOU have any reasons of your own as to why YOU suck at blogging? There has to be others out there who slack like me… right?

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My Battle With Changing Crib Sheets

I can’t stand when it comes time to change the crib sheets. I get all grumbly when it’s time. My wife knows it sucks, but it’s definitely easier for me than her, so I’m the designated changer. The real problem is the bumpers that go all around the crib. They are in the way and bring me to sweat and tears. Do you take the time to untie each little bow all around the crib to get easy access to the mattress or do you just yank the mattress out? I choose to yank it out, but that messes up the pretty sheet thing that goes over the bottom piece. Once the mattress is out, it’s no problem to change the pad and the sheets. The incredibly annoying part is getting the mattress back in. I have to lean over the crib, pull up on the bumper, jam the mattress down. It’s so hard because the rest of the mattress is still on top of the other sections of the bumper. After struggling with that for 10 minutes or so, I then have to pull the bumper up all around the mattress because now that’s all jammed down from the mattress being forced in place. When the process is complete I feel like I need a cold shower. If you know of a better way, please, please, please let me know!!!

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All We Got for Christmas

This past Christmas was great for many reasons. It was the first one for my twins, my 3-year-old reacted the way every parent loves to see, the time spent with both our families was enjoyable and the presents kicked ass (for me at least). I feel like a kid again, probably because of the presents, but most likely because my kids are finally experiencing what I miss about the holiday. All this excitement inspired me to write this post about all the presents we got. I’m hoping to find out what you got too, but I have a really low blog readership, so I’ll be lucky if anyone besides me even reads this. So here’s the list of stuff. (By the way, I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so if you buy anything off the following links, I will get paid some vending machine money. Woo Hoo!!!)

Nintendo Wii Stuff
I didn’t want anything specific this year, so I figured why not ask for the Wii. It’s fun for everyone and it could possibly get our asses off the couch after the kids go to sleep. Santa went on a Wii rampage because of all the sick video game deals. So he got the system itself, an extra Remote and Nunchuk, Wii MotionPlus, Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, Mario Kart Wii with Wii Wheel and New Super Mario Bros. Since Santa went a little overboard, only a few Wii presents were wrapped and put under the tree. The rest were put under my bed until Christmas.

Fisher-Price Loving Family Dollhouse Stuff
My 3-year-old daughter asked Santa for anything she saw in a commercial on Disney or Nick Jr. this year. He gave her list to most of our relatives because he had other plans. She needed a dollhouse. Santa got her the Fisher-Price Loving Family Grand Dollhouse Super Set, which includes a Mom, Dad & Twins (ironically), a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom.  My in-laws got her the Loving Family Minivan, Nursery, and Garden Fun sets. I actually had fun putting it all together for her

Movies
My 3-year-old daughter loves the Disney classic movies and specifically requested Pinnochio and Snow White. Her aunts got her the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition) DVDs.

Toys
In addition to the dollhouse, we have lots of other toys laying around the living room still. My 9-month-old twins got stacking cups, a Hasbro Playskool Step Start Walk ‘n Ride, two Fisher-Price Sesame Street Silly Sounds Remotes since they are always after our remotes and the very cool Fisher-Price Stack ‘n Surprise Blocks Songs ‘n Smiles Sillytown. My 3-year-old got the Play-Doh Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe and a giant Mr. Potato Head from Costco. This thing is awesome because the packaging is actually a Mr. Potato Head with removable pieces and inside are 3 regular-sized Mr. Potato Heads with all thier parts.

Everything Else
I got my wife a $100 Gift Certificate to Spa 500 in Little Silver, NJ. I feel like I get this for every holiday and birthday, but she loves it. She also got some earrings, a velour active-wear suit, a sweatshirt, miscellaneous lip balms, magnetic notepads for the refrigerator so she can write all her lists down and a holiday pack of Snickers. I got a couple shirts, underwear, 2 pairs of flannel pants and the best gift of all, a Snapfish photo/desk calendar of all my girls. Can’t wait to bring it to work next week.

I’m sure I left out some random gifts, but you get the general idea. So what presents did you get for Christmas in your house?

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Mommy, My Fart Cracked

My wife was getting ready to give our 3-year-old daughter a shower tonight. She followed the usual routine of getting the water to the proper temperature while helping my daughter get undressed. My wife wasn’t ready for what was next. As she leaned over to help my daughter with her underwear, a punchy little fart got her in the face. Both of them were full of laughter and my daughter said, “Mommy, my fart cracked!” She described it exactly as she heard it. I wonder when my daughter’s farts will be inappropriate because right now they are good family fun.

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The Leaning Tower of Poop

What started as a typical potty training session became one of the funniest moments I have experienced with my wife and daughter. We’re at that point in potty training when your kid knows when to go, can pull down their pants and get on the bowl, but still needs you to wipe.

My daughter  likes to call out to us if she’s doing poopy or pee-pee, probably because we always ask her which one she’s doing. This particular incident was poopy, which is always a fun time, especially since she doesn’t let me put the bathroom fan on. My daughter called out to me that she was done, but when I checked on her, it seemed as if she was still going because the poop looked like it was still coming out of her butt. I asked her if she was sure she was done and she said yes. I was puzzled, but proceeded with the usual routine.

She leaned forward so that I could wipe her and to my surprise the poop was right there staring up at me. To be more detailed, the poop was standing on end, about three inches tall, just on the edge of the water line, like a friggin’ totem pole. I finished wiping her and then snorted while laughing my ass off. I could barely get the words out trying to call my wife to come see. Of course since I was cracking up, my daughter kicked in with her giggles and then my wife came in and lost it as well. The poop was just sitting there and we looked at it in total amazement. After a couple minutes of staring which lead to us starting to get grossed out, the poop began to fall in slow motion. It looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, hence the title of this post. It finally fell and rolled into the bowl.

A classic moment in potty training!

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Kids Day Weekend 2008 at PNC Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ

Everyday on my wife’s way to work she passes the PNC Bank Arts Center off the Garden State Parkway. Those from the Jersey Shore will know this place well since it is the closest venue to see big-name concerts. It also hosts large festivals and a kick-ass holiday light show. Anyway… my wife kept seeing the ad for Kids Day Weekend as she drove past. We saw it last year as well, but we thought our daughter was a bit young for it. Since she’s about 2 and a half now, this year we decided to check it out.

The event ran from Saturday, October 11 to Sunday, October 12. Saturday’s hours were 11am to 9 pm and Sunday’s hours were 11 am to 6 pm. Parking and admission were free and the only things we had to pay for were rides, attractions and food. We arrived around 3:30 pm and met our good friends who also have a daughter that is our daughter’s age.

First thing we saw as we walked towards the large grass area was a petting zoo with a cow, ducks, sheep and rabbits. We spent a good amount of time there because what 2 year old doesn’t love animals. Right near that was a pony ride, which cost $3 per ride. We waited on line for about 20 minutes, but it was worth it. Also set up in the grass area was a large stage which provided constant entertainment. The grass area was the center of the festival and the parking lots on each side contained the rest of the attractions.

From there we began to walk the lots, passing a ton of food stands on the way to some attractions like the Circus Academy where kids learn to juggle, spin plates, fly on trapeze, walk on stilts and actually perform with the Circus Academy. We spent about 10 minutes watching that, but our kids were too small to participate, so we moved on. We passed the Wild West Show, which consisted of live people wearing old western clothes, but they must have been in between shows when we passed. Also in that lot was a hay ride to go pick pumpkins in a pumpkin patch, but we had other pumpkin picking plans so we opted out of that.

We decided to head over to the other side. Since we were passing the food stands again, we tried to plan what we were going to do for dinner. It was still a bit early so we headed toward the rides, passing little attractions like a dance stage, a fudge stand, games, sponsor stands and a reptile petting area. We paid $1.00 per child for our daughters to go into the tent and pet reptiles like snakes and turtles.

Next stop was the kids’ rides. We spent $11.50 per child to have enough tickets for three rides. Our daughters rode the choo-choo train, drove trucks and rode the horses on the merry-go-round. I was actually impressed with how many different rides they had for people of all sizes. There were much more than your average, local fair or festival.

By this time everyone was hungry and we were losing daylight quick. It was probably around 6 pm when we headed back towards the food stands. My daughter had some incredible corn on the cob, chicken nuggets and some french fries for about $7. My wife had a Philly cheese steak, her own corn on the cob and a bottled water for about $10. I had a chopped pork sandwich and a bottled water for $8. Once we finished eating it was pretty dark, so we decided it was time to go home. Once again we had to go through the food stands. As both our families passed the ice cream stand we couldn’t resist. So another $6 was spent on ice cream for my family.

We decided to walk with our friends to the other side where their car was, mostly to kill time as we ate our ice cream. After saying goodbye we walked across the large grass area while the headlining acts were playing on the stage. It was called “The Big Saturday Night Block Party”, which was hosted by Radio Disney and included three singers, Ashlee Keating, Brock Storm and Savannah Outen. I never heard of any of them, but there were about fifty to sixty screaming girls by the stage, especially for Brock Storm. My daughter is really into music and was begging to get out of her stroller so she could dance. How could we deny her? I was surprised, but we actually stayed and listened Brock Storm’s whole set. My daughter was trying to sing the choruses to some of his songs while dancing. She’s only two! By the time Brock Storm was finished singing, it was after 8 pm, which is usually my daughter’s bed time, so we headed back to the car.

Kids Day Weekend was a great success for us. Five fun-filled hours with a happy two year old for under $50 is a tremendous deal. I highly recommend it when it comes around again next year.

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First Emergency Room Visit With My Daughter

My 2-year-old with stitches

My 2-year-old with stitches in her lip

This past weekend was a little traumatic at my house. We had our first visit to the emergency room with my 2-year-old daughter. As you can see in the photo she’s fine, but the chain of events that took place on Sunday were mentally exhausting.

It was a typical day of my daughter not listening to us as we were trying to get her to clean up some of her toys before lunch. In the corner of our living room there is a large sub-woofer slightly hidden by the arm of the couch. Unfortunately this is an area where we stuff some of my daughter’s larger toys like chairs and strollers. Well, of course in her state of not listening, she happened to trip and fall over one of her strollers. At first I thought it was a typical fall, but this time the crying seemed a little more intense than usual. I rushed over to help her and saw that her face was covered with blood and her mouth looked a little mangled. I yelled to my wife that it was bad and she came running. As soon as she saw my daughter’s face, she started crying hysterically as well. We definitely felt helpless at that moment because we never experienced this before.

I immediately got some towels and said we needed to go to the hospital. Oddly enough we live in between two decent hospitals and weren’t sure which one to go to. We called my wife’s mother since she was an ER nurse at another hospital and asked her what to do and where to go. My wife couldn’t even talk to her and my daughter was still screaming. After talking to her on the phone, we wrapped some ice in more towels and hopped in the car with only a few things. My wife sat in the back with my daughter and kept breaking down because she was peaking at the wound and was scared for her. Her lip was definitely split and it looked like her teeth were knocked in.

By the time we got to the hospital everyone settled down a bit. My daughter behaved so well while getting processed, but I think she was just exhausted from the pain and crying so much. They took us pretty quickly because she was still bleeding in the waiting room. We were put in an ER room to wait for a doctor. My mother-in-law (an ER nurse) joined us, pretty much to console my wife. After a while, the doctor finally came in to check my daughter out and he gave us an option to either be stitched by him or wait for the pediatric plastic surgeon since our insurance covered it. We chose the plastic surgeon of course, but had to wait a very long time for him.

The plastic surgeon was finally ready and my daughter had to be put in a papoose with most of her face covered in order to do the procedure. My wife couldn’t handle it, so she went in another room and cried. My mother-in-law joined me in the room with the surgeon, an ER doctor and a nurse. We helped put her in the papoose and then had to hold her in place while talking her through it. Amazingly my daughter was quite calm and was trying her hardest not to cry while the surgeon stitched her lip. I was so impressed with her bravery, especially since she is two.

In a matter of minutes the procedure was over. We unwrapped her and all that crying she held in was finally released onto my shoulder. We went back to our room to gather our things and wait for instructions from the surgeon. My wife joined us there and consoled my daughter. We finally headed home and she fell asleep within minutes after putting her in the car seat.

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Holy Crap, We’re Having Twins!

So as you may or may not know, my wife is pregnant. I think she’s at about 8 weeks, so its still early to be announcing that, but I’m documenting it. She’s been feeling really sick and has had constant pain for a bunch of days now. It’s typical to have the sickness, heartburn, etc., but the constant pain thing bothered us. So she called her OBGYN to see what she thought. Even though her first appointment for the baby is next week, the doctor wanted her to come in for an ultrasound. Since this was the first ultrasound, I used some comp time at work and took a half day to go with my wife. I was psyched to see the little twinkle of the baby’s heart.

First they did the external ultrasound and as expected we saw the little blob on the screen along with a yolk sack, which looks like a cheerio. The tech did her thing and focused in on the heart so we could see it twinkling away. My wife made a comment and thought she saw two in there, but no. Then the tech wanted to do an internal ultrasound. Obviously a bit more invasive, but it gets better pictures. Once again, the tech did her thing and as I’m watching the screen I see two cheerios. The tech hunted around a bit and said, “Surprise, there’s two in there!” “Two what?”, I asked. She said “TWINS!”

My chest suddenly expanded and felt stiff. My wife was laughing and crying at the same time. We were both in complete disbelief and then in a state of shock. We both didn’t know what to say. It was real and I didn’t know how to handle it. The next year or so began to flash before my eyes and at that moment I knew things were going to change drastically. Here we’re trying to have one more kid and be done, but instead we’re having twins.

That means three children under three. Three car seats, which means a mini-van since three car seats won’t fit across the back seat of either of our cars. That means two cribs, a double stroller and double the amount of diapers. Formula, formula, formula! THIS IS NUTS!

We called my mom at work and told her we just came from the doctor and she actually thought we had bad news to tell her, so she got a little scared, but I changed that by telling her she’s not “just” going to have grandchild number nine… she’s going to have number nine and ten. She started screaming at work and then you heard her co-workers yelling in the background. She’s now off telling the world. My brothers called and were excited, calling me “super sperm” and talking about how we’re all potent. They each have three kids of their own.

Now we’re just sitting here trying to comprehend all of this. Good thing I have a tee time at 4:40. Hopefully hitting that little white ball will help me clear my head.

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