Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Volunteering at school

This post is about a father and daughter activity that is close to my heart even though it might not be the type of activity normally associated with the term.  Volunteering at your child’s school is an extremely rewarding way to be involved in your daughter’s life considering how much time she spends at school per week.  Additionally, it gives you multiple inside-tracks to the happenings at school including learning her schedule, meeting teachers (especially future teachers) and getting to know her friends.  All of this will become even more important as she grows.
This activity does have a shelf life since at a certain age, you daughter won’t want her dad at school so be sure to get in early.  The kids in the k-4th grade bracket are incredibly accepting and get as excited about you being there as you daughter does.   After only 2 times of being there for example, half of the kids run over to hug me or give fist bumps and I can’t go to the grocery store without hearing “Hi Mr. Walker!”. The teachers enjoy having a dad around too because usually the kids all behave better know a father is watching even if it isn’t theirs.
Your daughter will really feel proud to have her daddy at school and will introduce you to absolutely everyone until your hands are raw from shaking.  Some of my suggested activities to do when you are at your daughter’s school would be:
·         Greet kids in the morning or hold the door for them
·         Work in the library on your child’s library day
·         Work in the lunch room
·         Read to classes
·         Work the playground
·         Try to actually do an art project on art day if the teacher will let you
·         Help during gym time
You will get to see you daughter during all of these activities and you will continuously hear “That’s my Dad!” all day.

father daughter activities volunteering at school

This activity has a HUGE added benefit.  Other kids who need a father will naturally migrate to you and you’ll find yourself holding your daughter’s hand and a kid you’ve never met while walking to classes.  More importantly if you are willing, those children will use you to help themselves. I’d like to share the story of one of the most touching events that has ever happened to me which occurred because of my volunteering at the school.
A full two years ago, my daughter was in Kindergarten and I was extremely excited about being involved in the place where she spends so much time.  During one volunteer day, my daughter’s teacher asked if I could escort a young classmate to the book fair. His parents were going through a rather rocky patch in their marriage and he had been too upset to go on the official book fair day.  I of course agreed and we left for the library.
When we got there, I followed him around as he picked two books. One was a Pokemon book which he was obviously obsessed with and the other was a mystery book. Together they totaled 8 Dollars but, as I found out, he only had 5 with him.  I told him he couldn’t afford both and after an agonizing deliberation, he very gently set down the Pokemon book.  I jokingly said that he must REALLY like mysteries and he replied that he didn’t.  He was buying this book for his older sister so she would have something from him under the tree for Christmas.
It hit me how selfless this act was and only two days after he was very broken up at school. I silently had received a huge slap of reality and tears started welling up in my eyes. I told him that one of the most important lessons we have to learn is that when we do good things, good things happen to us. I then asked him to pick his book back up because I wanted to buy it for him to thank him for being such a caring person. After we checked out I told him to keep being so caring because someday HE would be the exact “good thing” that someone else needed.
Fast forward two years to this morning when I was walking my daughter in to school.  I saw the same child, said hello to him by name and heard him tell his mom that I was the person who had taken him to the book fair.  We dropped our children off and she stopped me on the way back to our car to tell me why the boy had pointed me out to her.
It seems that about 2 months after the fair the mother and father divorced and it took months for the mother to put things back together again.  On one of her first “good days” she had been trying her hardest to be a good mommy. At some point in the day her son ran from across the room to hug her. When she asked “what was that for” he replied that when we do good things, good things happen.
She said she had been praying for strength and a sign to show her things were going to be ok and when he said that, she absolutely fell apart.  They talked about where he had heard that saying and he told her about me and what I had said about being the “good thing” someone else needed.
I am a firm believer in planting seeds and this is a very good example of how volunteering can plant seeds in every child you encounter. Like me, you may not know for years that you are making a difference or you may never hear what an impact you have made but rest assured that just by being a father, being there and being kind you have touched more lives than you know.
One organization I joined was the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dad’s of great students) from the national center for fathering. Their goal is the same as mine. Just to get a strong male presence in schools to help deter horseplay and give kids a male role model who might not otherwise have one.  If you have time, read about them or watch this watchdog video.
Whether you do it through an organization or just by yourself, make one of your father-daughter activities volunteering at your daughter’s school.  She’ll love it and the benefit for you will make any effort worth your while.
Let’s get the dads in the schools!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Making Butter

I know this will come as a great shock if you have read my biography but, I am a huge nerd.  Science is one of my fascinations and i just love doing activities with my daughter that allow me to explain how things work. One of those educational adventures was bread making while talking about yeast, infusuion and chemical reactions (told you I am a nerd).  That naturally led me to another activity which I had no idea was so easy!

It turns out that it is ridiculously easy to make butter when you aren’t being forced to use a churn by your parents on their farm which I bet that adds a level of difficulty or at least boredom.

Time required for full effect – about 10 minutes (excluding the 6-12 hours of leaving the cream out of the fridge)

Items needed:
• Small container of heaver whipping cream
• A clean jar with a lid – we used a miracle whip jar
• Some salt, rosemary or anything else if you want flavored butter

Leave heavy whipping cream out on the counter for 6-12 hours (gross I know.. but imagine in pioneer days), pour into a jar and add a bit of salt or other flavoring (for taste only).

Shake in a jar for 3 minutes (about one shake per second). The goal of the shaking is not to mix the ingredients but rather to slam the milk against one end of the jar repetitively. This breaks the protein bonds and allows the butter to separate. So one slam of the milk per second for 3 minutes.


Notice the milky substance. That is where ‘buttermilk’ comes from. You pour that off (save it if you want) while talking about buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk ranch dressing.

Pour a bit of warm water and give one shake to rinse the butter. Pour that off and enjoy.


Additional discussions:
• If you were to shake the jar for a while longer than 3 minutes, you could actually make whipped cream instead of butter.
• You can do this experiment starting with whole milk but it takes a LOT longer than three minutes. My grandmother told me that I had cheated starting with cream :-)
• Almost all of our parents\grandparents used to do this for eating instead of learning which I think makes the experiment more personal. My kid was so excited to talk to my grandmother after this and she actually had an old butter churn that she showed us.

One word of warning:
My daughter who had been so excited said upon tasting the butter “it just tastes like real butter”. We had to talk about how real butter was what we just made and that manufacturers imitate what we did. It blew her mind.

Have fun with this easy experiment and remember to take pictures

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sporting Events

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
I don't care if I never get back . . .

It is no great secret that the average computer professional is not your typical jock sports fan and I am certainly no different.  I played every sport growing up - which I blame on my father's wish that I was athletic - but none of them stuck.  We spent so much father and son time that I never actually considered sporting events to be a dad and daughter activity. Many other dads might have the same problem but once you realize the dad and daughter potential of a sporting event you might kick yourself for not having gone quicker.  That potential can be tapped in to even if you or your daughter has no interest in sports.

Our first daddy-daughter game was a Texas Rangers game at the Ballpark in Arlington:

Dad and daughter activities: Sporting Events - Ballpark at Arlington

We had horrible seats and the rangers sucked that day(they made it to the world series though!!) but we had a ball - so to speak.

There are SO many things for dads and daughters to enjoy that they are almost hard to list out.  We'll start with one of my favorites - the food.  If you and your daughter are going to a sporting baseball game, you are almost required by law to share a hot dog. Just behind that in popularity is the ballpark nachos followed by cotton candy. The most important thing however is popcorn.  I didn't mention the popcorn because it is good but it is absolutely neccessary for the wave and screaming events to follow.

The wave - Unfortunately we were at the ballpark on a slow day and were sitting mostly by ourselves. That didn't stop us from doing the best two-person wave you have ever seen. During this activity, you have to make sure and spill as much popcorn as possible and if possible, on your daughter's head.  As an added bonus, we actually started the wave and a small group of people downstream from us continued it for us.  My daughter REALLY enjoyed that.

Screaming - In this day and age of staying indoors all the time and the military precision with which our schools are ran, our children miss out on some of the basics like screaming like a lunatic. Like I mentioned above, I am not much of a "sportsy" dad but all the same, I explained to my daughter how important it is to support the local team.  We included timeless taunts like "we need a pitcher, not a belly itcher" and a few others but mostly we jumped to our feet screaming when we got a hit. Let the popcorn fly and enjoy the fact that you are in a location where you are almost expected to scream and holler. Sporting events are one of the few places where dad and daughter alike can scream at the top of their lungs.

Halftime\music - At a baseball game we didn't get to experience half-time but in between innings we got to dance like mental patients to some of the best 80s music the sounds system could muster. And during these times, there were usually audience participation games on:

the jumbotron -
Dad and daughter activities: Sporting Events - Scoreboard

One of the above-mentioned games on the jumbotron was kiss\hug and we actually got to give a dad and daughter hug up on the big screen (like I said, it was a slow day at the park). Every time the camera for the jumbotron would pan the crowd, my daughter would put on her best face and try her hardest to be the star. 

Your chances of getting on the jumbotron increase if you are decked out in the local teams gear so stop at academy sporting goods or somewhere before you go. The shirts run about 50% more at the event.

Fireworks for the wrap-up - At our ballpark, there are fireworks after every game. It isn't a dazzling disney world quality show but it is still absolutely wonderful. We snuggled under a blanket and made sure to say oooo during the launch and AWE during the pop.
Dad and daughter activities: Sporting Events - Fireworks

I loved our day at the ballpark and my daughter has already asked to go back. Admittedly, the ballpark was kind of intimidating for a computer guy but just like everything else I do for my daughter, I just got over it and went. If you prepare, leave enough time and assume you probably will not see a wonderful game you are stress-free and able to turn this dad and daughter activity into one you both will love.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Making Ornaments

Ok, so this one is Mommies in addition to Dads and Daughters but the whole point here is quality family time right?  Last Christmas, my wife and I did something that we hope to make into a family tradition and I thought I would share that activity.

There is a great deal of science involved with cooking.  With that in mind, my wife and I came up with a very inexpensive little bit of educational fun for us to do as a family.  She pulled out her mothers old recipe for making christmas ornaments and after purchasing a few supplies, we had an entire evening of Christmas music, baking, painting and talking for less than you would spend at the movies.

suggested discussions: flour and water acting as a glue, heat and evaporation, acrylic sealant to keep the "food" from going bad since these ornaments are edible (though I wouldn't recommend it.. They taste horrible)

Salt Dough Ornaments

2 C. flour
1 C. salt
1 C. water

Mix salt and flour. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.

For flat dough ornaments roll out the dough on baking paper. You can also be creative and make odd shapes and wreaths (takes longer to bake.) Use cookie cutters, cut-out templates, or just use your hands.

Dust dough with flour and begin to add details to the ornaments with a toothpick, popsicle stick, and knife.
Don't forget to use a straw to make a hole so you can hang the ornament.

Baking: Time varies based on thickness of ornament
Temperature: 325°F.
Time: 1 1/2 hours - or until dry

Let cool before you begin. Paint with acrylic paints. Glue on beads, buttons, or any fun accessory. Coat with acrylic varnish when everything is dry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adventure Guides

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-aglogo
Before the beginning of this school year, my daughter and I joined an organization named the “YMCA adventure guides and princesses”.  You may remember this program by its old name “Indian guides and princesses”.  This program is essentially boy scouts for dads and daughters and has grown to include fathers and sons as well.  It is a WONDERFUL opportunity to draw each father and daughter closer as well as an opportunity to meet other dads who share your desire to be a part of their child’s life.
Our YMCA nation is a member of a “federation” made up of Adventure Guide programs at other local YMCAs and our “nation” is divided into three smaller “circles” (one son and two daughter circles).  Each circle meets twice a month and the nation meets once a month for a large event. The nation events earn each father and child a patch for them to affix to their vest and each circle meeting consists of an opening\closing ceremony and a craft.
I will try and resist the urge to be dramatic here but in the short time we have been members, the Adventure Guide program has touched my daughter and my life\relationship in ways we never thought possible.  So far this year, my daughter and I have been present for two nation events and have had such a good time that I almost get misty when I try and recount all the special moments.

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-father and daughter
The first was a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a children’s home that we learned was near our house.  The attitude of the children and adults at this home was inspiring and the hard work we put in to fix up the place was truly appreciated. My child got to see firsthand how lucky she is and we both had a great time playing with all of the residents there. The residents turned out to be very genuine, not caught up in the “I’m a teenager attitude” and (very surprisingly) had not a hint of a chip on their shoulder.  We were proud to support the excellent work being done at this location.

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Father and Daughter 2
The second nation event was this past weekend and I am literally still smiling from the fun time we had. This activity was a campout at our local YMCA Camp Carter on Lake Worth.  There are almost enough “firsts” for my daughter to write a book but the list includes first:
  • Campout
  • Bunk bed
  • Burning things in the camp fire
  • Canoeing (for both of us)
  • BB gun range
  • Archery
  • Horseback riding
  • Night fishing
  • Sleeping on the “daughter” side of the cabin away from dad
  • Participation in a skit
  • Bonfire
  • S’mores
And the list goes on.

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-BB Gun Range

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Bonfire

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Catfish

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Horses

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Torch

My daughter isn’t the only one who got to do these activities. Good old dad was right by her side and got to see every smile and experience every laugh first hand. The entire experience was priceless!
Watching my daughter play with the other girls took away almost all the fears I had about whether or not my wife and I were doing a good job in parenting.  She was “with” me but also had enough freedom in such a safe location for me to see what she was like without my correcting every wrong decision or fixing every misunderstanding. I could really get a sense of what she is like when I am not around without having to worry if she was safe.  After all, if she got out-of-line while she was out-of-sight, I had a father backup up force that was 25 dads strong.
All of the kids in our nation are polite, well intentioned, inclusive and so very comfortable to be around. My “only child” daughter just fell into place with this gaggle of 25 children leaving me and the other fathers with a little quite time to watch them interact. It was such a wonderful mix of structured and unstructured “together” time along with some good old fashioned camp fun.
I don’t remember seeing one father without a daughter or son holding their hand or having an arm on each other’s shoulder all weekend.  The motto of the Adventure Guides is “Friends forever” and it has certainly given both the dads and the children a jumpstart on that journey.
Best joke from the adventure guide campout:
How do you wake up Lady Gaga?
Poke her face!

Take your child to work

National take your child to work day this year is Thursday, April 28, 2011. That being said, there is absolutely no reason you need to wait for a specific day or even bring your child for a whole day. Take her in on a weekend even if it is just to “run in and get something”. You don’t have to make it a big production to make it memorable.
Dad and daughter activities: Take your child to work 2

Most daughters absolutely adore walking around where their father works no matter what kind of business it is. Seeing where their father parks, walks, sits and what he does every time he is away gives a daughter a sense of connection to you while you are away.  Somehow, the image of you sitting at a desk they have seen while you talk to them on the phone makes you feel closer than if you are just “at work”.
I believe we all have cool stuff at work even if you aren’t the person who works on it. I show my daughter the awesome stuff my company makes, for example, even though I just work on the computers that the people who make the awesome stuff use. But let’s say for the sake of argument that you work in the most boring place in the world.  You know what your daughter will still find fascinating? Anything you talk to her about.  Tell her what things you love looking at on your drive in every day or what you do each time you come in.  Show her your favorite coke or coffee machine and buy her something even if it is just to critique the smell of it.
Dad and daughter activities: Take your child to work 3

One thing my daughter loved doing was meeting all of the other people I interact with each day. Almost all of your coworkers are probably parents and will really turn on the charm when they see your daughter at work. If you can, have a coworker arrange a little souvenir for them even if it is just a pen and pad of paper from the supply closet. My coworkers all have toys on their desk and my daughter wound up with a few of those.  I found them the other day sitting in very prominent positions on her dresser.
Dad and daughter activities: Take your child to work 1

People don’t think about how much time they spend away from their daughter at this place their kid has never seen. Just the simple act of running in for a little while can help get rid of the mystery and give your daughter an understanding of those times you aren’t able to be with her.
Ps. Make sure you have pictures of the family up when you go. Daughters notice things like that J
These pictures admitedly stolen off the internet but I LOVE them

Monday, October 11, 2010

Doing “dangerous” stuff

My poor daughter has to be one of the most sheltered girls ever. She will be eight next week and is rarely ever further than a few feet away from either me or my wife. We are finally letting her experience independence but with her being an only child, it has to be a conscious choice that my wife and I make. You can only imagine how much it makes things worse that my wife is a nurse. :-)

I am finally coming to a realization about fathers though. I always knew that dads have a very important role in a child’s life but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it isn’t just in being protective and nurturing. Kids need their father because usually, it is he that lets the child make decisions that a mother probably would have avoided. That includes things that mama might consider “dangerous”.

There is a reason I keep putting that in quotation marks. I of course wouldn’t recommend actually putting a child in danger but when a situation is controlled, I am starting to believe the inherent danger in some activities helps foster the feeling of responsibility, concentration and seriousness that we were already trying to instill in our daughter.

For example, one of the first decisions I “got in trouble for” with my wife was allowing my daughter to walk across the rocks that stretch across a (non moving at the time) drainage ditch.

Dad and Daughter Activities: Doing dangerous stuff

My daughter learned the following lessons from that encounter:
  1. She was making a choice knowing the consequences and SHE would have to live with them (getting wet).
  2. She needed to slow down and be careful to ensure she didn’t make a wrong move.
  3. When you are careful and paying attention to what you are doing, you get to do things you normally wouldn’t

Once I explained all those things (and the fact that I wasn’t only half-cocked) to my wife, she agreed and has trusted me to let some of the activities we get in to be more active and occasionally dangerous. With the above information in tow, I have introduced my daughter to a variety of (controlled) dangerous activities that both dad and daughter have thoroughly enjoyed.

A great help to my quest of adventure has been our membership to the YMCA Adventure Guides. I will be writing soon about our first time ice skating which is a father daughter activity that I can assure you only happened because the adventure guides took us there.

Home Made Rifftrax

If you have never experienced the true nerd-joy of rifftrax.com, I recommend it.  Just about any time my daughter watches Harry Potter or High-School Musical I have headphones in playing a secondary audio track that supplements the one my daughter is watching.  For example, when Hagrid flies in with Harry Potter on the motorcycle at the beginning of the first movie one of the riffers says “He soiled his diaper on the way in but I used Magic to clean it up.”  Another riffer joins in with “You just put two diapers on top of the first. That’s not magic.”

Dad and Daughter Activities: Home Made Rifftrax

Not exactly high-brow humor and some of it is inappropriate but it does help liven up a movie you have seen thousands of times.

One day my daughter heard me laughing hysterically at a part that was supposed to be scary and asked me if I had lost my mind. I explained the entire rifftrax concept to her and she loved it.  From that day forward, when nothing else is on we have made a habit of watching a show we have already seen either on mute or with sound and adding our own words. Some of the improv situations we come up with are awesome and every time we watch it we come up with something new.

That is a great way for fathers to get a sense of their daughter’s mind and is a really easy way to get her into giggling fits. It isn’t always one-sided though since sometimes she will come up with something so random that I just absolutely lose it.

I try to stay away from tv and movies since they are a total time-suck but if you end up watching one anyway, making up your own rifftrax is a great way for fathers to stay involved with their daughters even while it is on.


My daughter had never been on skates and the last time I had been was about 20 years and 200 pounds ago.  We went to our local skating rink for a birthday party and my wife noticed they gave skating lessons for $6 per lesson on Saturday.  All she had to do was mention that out loud to get my daughter on board and the very next Saturday, we were at our first lesson.  She took 10 in all but after the first 4 she began getting bored and the arm pulling began.  I remember thinking that the only way I would get on skates was if she batted her eyes and the only way I would leave after would be in an ambulance.

Battling one of my (very intense) fears, I donned my first pair of roller-blades in years and stood up on the carpet with my daughter at my side. After a few minutes I started remarking how easy this was and how similar it was to riding a bike. The motions came back to me and the balance returned as if I hadn’t been on shoes without wheels.  Then my daughter took me to the actual skating floor and my confidence not only dwindled but did an entire reenactment of death worthy of a Shakespearean play.  I swear I must have hit it on floor greasing day because the moment the first skate hit the floor, my legs were strangely disconnected from one another.

Normally I LOVE laughing with my daughter but I have a feeling that is because normally we laugh WITH each other. This time though the pleasure was all hers as I basically entered a never-ending run to keep at least one foot between myself and the floor. She laughed pretty hard at the sight of her father stumbling around and clinging to stationary objects in a way I haven’t since college.  Her real joy came though after the longest song EVER finally ended and I tried to exit the floor. Somehow on the way down I caught her arm and we ended up in a pile of laughing and crying with me doing most of the latter.

Oddly, it only took that once for me to get the feeling of it and the next time I took the floor I looked remarkably better. Enough that my daughter actually got to skate a little instead of walking next to me waiting for me to hit the deck.  We skated about three or four songs that night before I decided it was time to stop. I could tell one more song would be the difference between having fun and calling in to work with sore muscles in the morning.

We had a great time and surely made lots of memories but more importantly, I think my daughter saw her “brave (in her eyes)” dad be truly scared of something and work through it.  Also, we found another dad and daughter activity to have some fun with. Since I got that first time behind me, we have been about 30 times with both of us getting better each time. We always request “thriller” and “ymca” because as I understand it, you are required by law to skate to those two songs and at least once a trip, my daughter gets to see me from a new angle.  That being from the top down as I lay laughing on the floor.

Dad and Daughter Activities: Skating

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This activity for dads and daughters is close to my heart. I am not considered an outdoorsman by any sense of the word. Just read my profile which says I am a computer guy! Fishing is the only outdoors activity I am good at and was the one activity I always wanted to do with my son. As fate would have it though, my son turned out to be a girl. :-) Thankfully it wasn’t long until I realized that girls can fish too. Shortly after that, my daughter and I were on our way to our first fishing trip.

That trip was only to the creek in the park across the street
Dad and Daughter Activities: Kidfish
and we had an awesome time. Using the below information, my daughter pulled out a ton of bluegill.

Dad and Daughter Activities: Bluegill

They are a lot of fun to catch because they hang out under bridges or by the bank just below the surface of the water in groups. That means you can see them fight over the bait. They bite within seconds and put up a pretty good fight considering their size. We can usually continue pulling those out and putting them back as long as we have bait.

As far as equipment goes, I bought my daughter a “sponge bob” rod and reel that floats WHEN (not if) dropped in the water, the smallest hook you can find and a cork if you want (we never use one since you can see your bait with these fish. The rod and reel are fun but honestly, when you are only dropping your hook in the water for 10 seconds right below you, a cane pole ($1.50) will work too.

Here is my super secret bluegill bait – hotdog. They can’t leave it alone and it is about as cheap as you can get! I hear corn or bread works too but I never have luck with those. Plus hotdog has worked so good that I just can’t justify looking for anything else.

After the very first trip, she was hooked (sorry for the pun). The only bad part of this experience is that now she can use the fishing rod, perch hook and bait listed above to pull out 8 inch bass on days I can’t even get a bite :-)

Dad and Daughter Activities: Bass

I have a neighbor who asked me to take his daughter fishing because he was as uncomfortable with fishing as I would be with hunting. After he went with us one time, he saw how simple it was and now has a date for fishing once a month between him and his daughter.

Here is that list of equipment again:
Kids rod and reel or cane pole
Smallest hook you can find
A floating cork if you want – though we never use one
A pack of Hotdogs
A glove to hold the fish while you take the hook out of its mouth
Small needle nose pliers or hemostats to help grab the hook.

Use the linked fishing knot on your hook because it is the best and only one you need to know. A regular knot works ok but when your daughter gets caught on brush, the knot will until and you will lose your hook.
Put a small piece of hotdog skin on the hook and try to leave the point of the hook covered.
Place the hook in the water and wait. Bluegill will hit it a couple of times but when you see the pink from the hotdog disappear - that means a fish has it in its mouth – and pull up quickly on the pole.
Use your gloved hand to hold the fish being careful to lay down the fins against his body before you grab him. Sometimes it helps to grab the line and bring your hand down over his mount onto his body since the fins point backwards. Grasp the hook with your other hand or the pliers and work it back out the way it went in. Note that sometimes you have to press down so the barb on the hook will stop grabbing and will come out.

This is a very informative video which shows most of the technique but don’t let the jargon scare you. This stuff is easy and fun and you don’t need all the stuff this guys shows. Jump ahead to about 6 minutes:


One of favorite activities to do PK (pre kid) was Geocaching.  Geocahing (pronounced geo cashing) is basically a treasure hunt for nerds using a GPS and a website full of coordinates. People all over the world hide small containers stuffed with a log file and little toys or coins. Then they post the GPS coordinates on this website geocaching.com.

People like us go there and look for caches (cashes) near us. Put the coordinates in and start hiking.

The general rules are:
• Sign the log book
• Take a small toy and leave a small toy
• Sign up online that you found it
• Don’t let “muggles” (non geocachers) see you when you find it.

It didn't take me long to figure out that with things like toys, hiking, hiding and the like that children fit right into this sport. Not only a fun dad and daughter activity but also an educational one. My daughter just loved learning about the GPS and how to use it. Plus they get a toy, they get to be sneaky and they know a secret that not many others know. My kid LOVES knowing that we have one we can see from the house and people are walking past it all day without knowing. Plus, we have found some wonderful fishing spots by walking through the woods.

Once you get good at finding them, hide one. You and your kid can read all the log entries from people who found what they hid. And for even another level of fun, you can order “travel bugs”.

Those are dogtags you attach to a toy. When someone finds a tag, they enter it’s code online and move it to another cache. In this way, your kid’s toy can go all over the world and they can watch it online. We had one that went to Hawaii and back twice and both coasts of the US. It was a lovely way to teach geography too.

Here is a link to one of my travel bugs and a photo gallery of where all he has been in his 8,000+ miles of travel. Then there is the cache cow that we hid. 124 finds and this is the oldest cache in grason county.

Mama isn’t horribly keen on this since last time she went she got covered in poison ivy but apart from that, we have all had so many good times, I thought I would share.


This one seems very self explanatory but we had such an excellent time, it was worth mentioning.  Kites are available in such a wide range of complexities and prices that it makes one of the most perfect father daughter activities.  You can buy anything from a $2.00 kite from Wal-Mart that just floats to a $90.00 kite from Cabella’s or a sporting goods store that is steerable.

My daughter and I have a couple of activities we like to do with kites. The first is to bring a blanket and let the kite up as high as it can possibly go.  Then lay on the blanket and watch how hard the kite pulls or how air currents are different at different levels. This one is fun to do with a regular kite or an oddly shaped one.

For example, my daughter picked out a "pretty" kite:
Dad and daughter activities: Kites - cheap kite
and I picked out a box kite:
Dad and daughter activities: Kites - box kite

There is something cool about flying a device that doesn't look like it is meant to soar. Having seen some of the other options available now, I would bet we would end up with these two:
Dad and daughter activities: Kites - dragon kiteDad and daughter activities: Kites - extreme box kite. There are some awesome kites out now so make shopping for one a father and daughter activity too.

The second is to buy two steerable kites
Dad and daughter activities: Kites - stunt kite
(for about $30 at Wal-Mart) and compete for who can do the coolest tricks or the lowest dives without crashing.

Neither of those activities requires skills like a model rocket or model plane would -though those are awesome kid's activities too and If you know someone who can do them, I would tag along. My list though is about father and daughter activities that are low on intimidation and formality.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Olympic Games

One weekend, my daughter and I decided it was time we instituted a yearly Olympic games with dad versus daughter - the "Annual Father Daughter Games". This may prove to be a bad decision as she progresses athletically and I get older. Of course it isn’t a real competition and the point is just to have fun but it still adds a bit of excitement for her to be able to beat me on a couple of these. I will probably never win on the ones that make you crawl or duck walk.

Here are some of games we played at the first dad and daughter Olympics. These are basically all field day games that I used to play but are modified to play together.

Fire brigade race – Each person has one bucket with holes in the sides, one large empty bucket at the end and a large full bucket at the beginning. The object is to fill you’re the bucket with holes and use it to transfer as much water as possible from the large full to the large empty buckets. Whoever has the most water after 3 minutes (or x number of trips) wins.

Water balloon sit – Each person grabs a water balloon from a bucket and races to the other end. Sit the water balloon on a towel and pop it using anything but your hands\arms\legs\feet. That basically leaves your rear end. My daughter thought it was funny as heck to see daddy get a huge wet spot on his pants.

Egg or water balloon toss – Stand facing each other. Granny toss a water balloon or (if you are really brave) an egg back and forth. The loser wears the mess.

Tissue box dance – As seen on “minute to win it”. Take an empty tissue box and put 12 ping pong balls in it. Strap it upside down to your waist and place it in the middle of your back. Now using only jiggle or shake movements, try and empty the box. First to empty all twelve wins.

Sorting m&ms – This one is just like it sounds. Take a large bag of m&ms, split it down the middle and race to see who can separate their pile into colors the fastest.

Mini Marshmallow basketball – This is essentially ‘beer pong’ without the beer. Use mini marshmallows and try to see how many baskets you can sink into a plastic cup on the other side of the table.

Hula hoop endurance - Be prepared to lose on this one. To even out the odds though you could modify the rules to allow hooping around your neck or on your arms. It took my daughter a while to quit laughing while dear old dad was shaking his caboose trying to keep the rhythm up which also helped my keep up my end of the competition.

Who knows if we actually will continue this each year but it was funny having the "ceremony" to kick them off. I even let her use a lit birthday candle to light a big one just to make it official.


When you are looking for an activity for dads and daughter’s that will be a sure-fire hit, You almost can’t beat bowling. My daughter and I go to the same bowling alley each time and make up a new funny name for us to put on the screen. Usually it is b-dub and g-dog or something equally high-brow which the entire place gets to see.

About the only “must do” for this activity is to put the bumpers up on the sides of the alley for younger bowlers (and adults that bowl poorly). Apart from that, we do every kind of throw you can imagine. This includes:
‘granny throws’Father and daughter activities: Bowling - granny throw,
reverse granny throwsFather and daughter activities: Bowling - reverse Granny throw,
under-the-legFather and daughter activities: Bowling - under the leg,
and behind the backFather and daughter activities: Bowling - behind the back.

Basically, the point for my daughter and I is to see who can look the worst and do the best. We rarely break 100 but we have an awesome time doing it. As a side note, ask if your bowling alley has “cosmic bowling” or something similar with black lights, fog, lasers and etc. It takes the fun up to a whole new level and helps both of you feel more comfortable about looking like a spaz since it is dark in the place.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Hello world,

My name is Bobby and I am a married father of a daughter in second grade. My wife works long shifts just about every other weekend which has left me with a LOT of father and daughter time. I used to feel intimidated by that fact and feel like I had to find things to “fill that time”. It only took me a little while to realize that the daddy and daughter free time was not something that had to be endured or passed with movies. This time was something that could be used, treasured and enjoyed.

This is a collection of dad and daughter activities that my daughter and I have enjoyed over the past 8 years. Some of these activities are “guy” and some “girlie” but all were a blast. I hope you other fathers (and maybe even daughters) can find things in this collection which bring you closer to your child and help you laugh with each other.

Try them all and email me if you have some activities I haven’t included. We should all help each other cherish the time our daughters are yanking our arms and calling our names.

Dad and daughter activities - father and daughter