Friday, May 31, 2013

Official Release Date: Sometimes, My Dad and I

Today is the official release date for the illustrated children's board book Sometimes, My Dad and I, written by The Favorite Son with a little help from Yours Truly, Matthew S. Field, and illustrated by C. Pierson DeCesare.

For friends, fans, and book lovers who live in New York's Lower Hudson Valley, The Favorite Son will sign copies of his book tomorrow, Saturday, June 1, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe, 31 Main Street in Warwick, New York.


For friends who live outside of the Hudson Valley, get your copy of Sometimes, My Dad and I for all the special fathers in your life at your local, independent books store or order online, HERE!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

eHarmony's Free Communication Weekend

It's been a few years since I've been a customer of an online dating service, but I'd tried a few. The only one that I'd recommend and the only one with which I wanted The Single Father's Guide Blog to be affiliated is eHarmony.com, whose matching algorithm has been so successful that other dating sites have tried to copy it.

If you've tried other online dating services and weren't happy with the results, single dad, or if you have been reluctant to use an online dating service, you may find eHarmony to be a good place to start or re-start. This weekend, eHarmony is having a "FREE COMMUNICATION WEEKEND." That means, you can review matches for free starting today through Memorial Day Monday.

Here's a little of what you can expect with eHarmony:

1) eHarmony requires new members to fill out a questionnaire. If you've gone through an interview process for a job any time during the past decade, you may have had to complete a personality profile. The eHarmony questionnaire may take a little bit of time to complete, but I strongly encourage users to BE HONEST with your answers. The more honest you are about who you are and what you want, the better chance eHarmony's matching algorithm will find you a good match.

2) Within a few hours after you complete eHarmony's questionnaire, you'll likely be matched with people with whom your profile suggests compatibility. During the Free Communication Weekend, you'll probably not be able to see pictures of your matches. That privilege is usually reserved for paying members. Still you can get a pretty good head start. NOTE: It is important to respond to or decline matches as soon as you receive them; the quicker you decide whether you are interested in a match, the sooner eHarmony will send more matches.

3) eHarmony has a four-step communication process which begins with simple questions and graduate to more in-depth questions, and ends with "Open Communication." There's a way to by-pass the eHarmony communication process, but again, that benefit may not be available to non-paying users. Still, I think the four-step process is helpful and will save you time and heartache in the long run. Again, be honest with your answers! After the Open Communication stage, you have the opportunity to exchange phone number and, potentially, actually meet for a date.

Maybe I'll write a blog in a couple of weeks about etiquette for users of online dating services who actually, well, have a date. I may also write a blog about Relationship Red Flags. Of course, my Single Father's Guide to Dating will be released in time for Father's Day 2014, but that's not helping anyone right now. One thing at a time, though!

Click the eHarmony banner ad on the right side of the page, single dads (and single moms, too), and get started at eHarmony for free!

Good luck, everybody!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chocolate Chocolate Pancakes


Several weeks ago, I promised a Silk Almond Milk recipe. Although I touted the benefits of Silk’s version of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, this one features Silk Dark Chocolate PureAlmond Milk.


Double Chocolate Almond Milk Gluten-Free Pancakes

½ cup of Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour
½ cup of Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour
½ cup of Hodgson Mill Soy Flour
¼ cup unsweetened baking cocoa 
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon of Truvia (stevia)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ½ cups of Silk Dark Chocolate PureAlmond Milk
¼ cup of egg whites
1 tablespoon of corn/canola oil
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Preheat cooking pan on stove top at medium-low or medium heat. When the pan is fully heated, spritz with cooking spray, (optional.) Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and thoroughly mix with a fork. Add wet ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth. Pour batter onto pan to create a 5” to 6” diameter pancake. Cook approximately two minutes or until pancake bubbles and then turn over. Cook another two minutes and remove from heat. Makes about nine cakes for the single father and his three children on a spring Sunday morning.


When I served one of these cakes to The Second Beautiful Daughter on a recent weekend day morning when she was folding laundry while catching up on her favorite weekday televisions shows on the DVR, she almost immediately came into the kitchen with an empty plate and said, “These are great! Can I have another one?” For her sixteenth birthday breakfast a few days later, The First Beautiful Daughter asked for Double Chocolate Almond Milk Gluten-Free Pancakes. Well, in fact, she actually said, “Can I have the chocolate chocolate pancakes for my birthday breakfast?”

Considering the numbers, I certainly didn’t mind saying, “Yes.” Each pancake has only about 115 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and only four grams of fat. However, a meal that includes two of these Double Chocolate Almond Milk Gluten-Free Pancakes contains about 12 grams of protein, which is almost 25% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance. Serve with sliced bananas or strawberries on the side and you’ve got a pretty healthy and balanced breakfast!

Check back regularly for more almond milk and other great recipes!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Single Father's Book Club: Agent Colt Shore Domino 29

Axel Avian's 'Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29'
Move over, Ian Fleming. There's a new adventure/spy/thriller writer on the scene, and his name is Axel Avian. Avian's version of James Bond 007 is Agent Colt Shore, he's a secret agent for the young adult crowd.

Even if Avian's protagonist, Colt Shore didn't believe he was living in the shadow of an older brother who was killed under unusual circumstances, he'd still be a pretty extraordinary teenager. He attends a special intelligence training academy, F.A.L.C.O.N., located near Springfield, Missouri. When Colt learns that it wasn't his older brother who was killed, but his father, the people who he believed to be his parents are actually his grandparents, and his mother is one of the most respected people at F.A.L.C.O.N., well, Colt's world turns upside down. Perhaps more accurately, the first domino falls.

As a result of his very unique skill set, Colt is pressed into active duty at F.A.L.C.O.N. and is commissioned to protect a popular teen rock band. It's a dream come true for Colt who not only meets some of his musical idols, but he also gets to play concerts, filling in for the band's regular drummer, during a USO tour in the Middle East. Band members, Talya and Thorne Ellis, may be targeted for kidnapping as a result of their journalist mother's support of women's rights in the region.

It's a scientific fact that one domino can topple another half again its size. Starting with a domino that is the size of a piece of Trident chewing gum that upends a domino one and a half times its size, the twenty-ninth domino to fall would be the size of a skyscraper. For Colt, as each of the seemingly small events result in another slightly larger, he finds himself trying to buttress a domino that's the figurative equivalent The Empire State Building and attempting to save his own life and the lives of a baker's dozen school girls.

In all, Avian's first book is an entertaining and wholesome adventure for any young adult reader. There'll be no spoiler here, but I'll just say that I hope for the readers' sake Colt escapes and saves those girls' lives. Then, we can read Axel Avian's next installment in the Agent Colt Shore series.

Learn Colt's fate for yourself; ORDER NOW: Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: Time Stands Still

THE FAVORITE SON: Dad? Do you know what's weird?

ME: Yes. Yes, I do. (Irony not acknowledged.)

THE FAVORITE SON: It's weird that when it's a school day, times goes really slow. When it's not a school day, times goes really fast.

ME: That is weird.

--

Two years ago, The Favorite Son came home with a story he wrote in school. He called the story, Sometimes, My Dad and Me. Now, his book has a new title and is available in time for Father's Day. Pre-order HERE!




Friday, May 10, 2013

Single Father Super Secret Cheats: Movie Tickets

Welcome to the first installment of Single Father Super Secret Cheats, a new series here on The Single Father's Guide Blog. This feature will highlight little tools, shortcuts, tricks, and cheats in which no one is harmed, of course, that will make the life of the single father and his children just a little bit easier. Is there single, single father who couldn't use a little extra help now and then?


The first Single Father Super Secret Cheat? Movie tickets.

Today, it's easier than ever to buy movie tickets using Moviefone.com or Fandango.com. The prerequisite for making a pre-purchase of tickets is, of course, you and your children or you and your date have chosen a movie before you arrive at the theatre. What happens, however, when you make a spur-of-the-moment decision to see a movie, the self-serve computer ticket kiosks aren't working, and the line at the ticket booths is 150 feet long?

So, here's the cheat. Almost all of the newer theatres, Regal, AMC Loew's, Wehrenberg, and so forth, have a customer service desk in the theater lobby behind which a manager sits. Typically, there aren't many complaints for the duty manager to handle, so he or she is most often shootin' the breeze with a  cinephile or a staffer. A lot of folks don't know that movie goers can also buy tickets at that customer service desk.

This very thing happened on the night that The Hunger Games was released. The Second Beautiful Daughter, who read and is perhaps the biggest fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy, and a friend wanted to see the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence. I don't think we could even be bought online due to some sort of opening night blackout and, when we arrived at the theatre, the line for both the ticket kiosks and ticket booths were incredibly long. My daughter and her friend were overcome with anxiety that we wouldn't be able to get tickets, so I asked the young ladies to get a spot in line while I strolled into the lobby and to the theatre's customer service desk where I bought three tickets for the showing we wanted before it sold out. The Second Beautiful Daughter and her friend were ecstatically amazed and I was a hero.

--

Be a hero yourself, single dad. Check back regularly to The Single Father's Guide Blog.

More single dad knows, easier life goes.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Name-Giver at Sixteen

Simply by being, the "First Beautiful Daughter (FBD)" bestowed upon me sixteen years ago today a new name. The name she gave me was "Daddy." FBD lives up to her name. In fact, her full name could easily be the "First Beautiful, Intelligent, Loving, Diligent Daughter."

A lifetime ago, FBD's mother and I vacationed in New Hampshire. FBD was about a year and half old. At the restaurant, FBD became a little uncomfortable sitting in a high chair. It was not at all common for FBD to be difficult; a couple of our best friends, Kelly and Jeff Thieme, gave her the nickname, "the perfect child." Even on this night, FBD wasn't acting up; She simply wanted her mother to hold her. As she sat on her mother's lap, FBD gently and contentedly patted her mother's shoulder, an act which didn't go unnoticed by a young couple who were dining with a couple of toddler boys at a nearby table. The woman who had the boys looked at us enviously. Eventually, the woman at the next table lamented to us, "Little boys don't do that."


When FBD was in elementary school, I volunteered in FBD's classroom once a week. During my visit every week, I'd read a children's book or chapter book to her class. Because FBD's class was a "wrap-around" class, one in which students spend two years with the same teacher - one year with children one year older and one year with children one year younger, many of her classmates had heard me read for almost two years by the second semester of FBD's second grade year. FBD's mother had passed away a little more than a year earlier and, I think, FBD felt, in her own way, sympathy for her Dad. (Imagine, for a moment, I lost my wife, but FBD lost her mother, but FBD was sympathizing, in her own way, with me.) So, FBD arranged with her teacher, Janeen Mitchell, the mother of one of her classmates, and her friends in her class to have a surprise party for me, complete with cake and handmade gifts from her classmates, on my reading day during the week of my birthday. I was surprised.

A sort of an enigma, FBD tends toward introversion. However, one shouldn't mistake her quietness for a lack of confidence. Still waters run deep and sometimes FBD surprises even me.

I continued to volunteer in FBD's elementary school classroom and spent one day each week in FBD's and her teacher, Beverly Braxton's 3rd/4th grade class. The educational program in which FBD (and her sister and brother) participated is rooted in thematic learning, or taking a subject, whether it be dinosaurs, the American Revolution, fairytales, etc., and then basing math, language arts, science, spelling, and social studies on that theme. The idea, of course, is not only to learn the Three R's, but also to achieve a deeper understanding of the theme subject. When FBD was a third-grader, one of the themes that her class studied was Native American culture.

Courtesy of Kathie Austin Photography
As she usually did, FBD hugged me when I arrived. Beverly asked me to read a book that was related to Native Americans. When I'd finished, we discussed the book using questions Beverly had created for me. During the discussion, FBD raised her hand and announced that she had learned a Native American song during the previous summer at Free Spirit Nature Camp, (where now, as a sixteen year old, FBD will be a junior counselor this summer.) Without hesitation or pretention, FBD stood up and confidently sang the song with all the soul and energy one could have imagined the original singers to have used. When she'd finished, she received a round applause from her classmates, including the fourth graders, and then she smiled and sat back down.

Courtesy of Kathie Austin Photography
FBD isn't afraid to try new things. It turned out that FBD wasn't crazy about cheerleading, but she's trained at Northeastern Martial Arts Academy for almost nine years. About three years ago after earning a "first dan" black belt, the school's master, Mitchell Barron, asked if she'd be of a member of the school's leadership team, which means she teaches younger and less experienced students techniques, forms, and etiquette. Consistent with her reserved confidence, FBD tried out for the junior varsity lacrosse team at her high school this spring. She hadn't played lacrosse until she attended a skills camp last summer. Now, after making the team, she's exploring a new interest, learning new skills, and meeting new people.

I'm fortunate that the FBD is the young woman that she is. When family and friends ask me how FBD is, I tell them the same thing. She's active. She does well in school. She balances her social life with her academic life with her extracurricular life with every other part of her life. Yes, she's a teenager, which means she occasionally tests her boundaries. Still, on scale of one to ten in which ten is the most obnoxiously out-of-control teenager, FBD is about a two on her worst day. She's seemingly always been mature beyond her years. Her mother would be very proud of her.

Later this week, FBD will get her permit to drive. In about six months, she'll be behind the wheel of a car on public roads. (Fair warning.) A little more than a couple of years from now, she'll start college. Not long after, FBD will start a career and, perhaps, eventually start a family. (The man she chooses had certainly better have his stuff together.) FBD is growing up fast; she's had to. Still, she'll always be my little girl.



Friday, May 3, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: Special "First Beautiful Daughter" Edition

It's a school day morning. I am in the kitchen with The Second Beautiful Daughter and The Favorite Son, who have just finished breakfast. It's very nearly time to leave for school and The First Beautiful Daughter comes down the stairs for the first time.

DAD: Honey, we have to leave for school, literally, in two minutes! You haven't eaten and you don't have your lunch ready.
FIRST BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER: Dad, I'm sorry, but it's really not my fault.
DAD: Really?
FIRST BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER: It's not my fault that it took me TEN MINUTES to find my shoes!
DAD: (Speechless.)