Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Working Long Hours

I wanted to apologize to those who might be waiting on things from me, like columns and such. I have been working over 80 hours a week the last two weeks and I will try to get things back on track here in the next few days as one project winds down.

I am still waiting on whether or not I will be reviewing my first requested site or not. Stay tuned.

(A very tired) Eric

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review Coming Up

I have been asked by Dad-Blogs on behalf of a PR firm in New York to review a website and I am really excited about this opportunity! I won't name the site until I review it but I will say that I played on the site last night and had a blast!

I am waiting on a kit from the firm so I can experience the full effect of this site. Until then I will just have to practice.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Review of Momscape.com

As you know, I am writing about family friendly websites and I firmly believe that everyone in the family should have a fun and safe place to go, from the kids to mom to dad. In my first column, I reviewed a very good site for the kids, Yahoo! Kids. For this column I would like to bring the moms aboard and review a very good site for moms I have discovered: momscape.com.

I firmly believe that everyone, except Moms themselves, takes the role of motherhood for granted. When you are sick or injured, usually the first one at your side is your mom. Who plays the role of the chauffeur, maid, cook, nanny, and in some households, secretary and accountant? You guessed it, the mom.

So every now and then Mom needs a break, whether it is a five to ten minute break or longer, but she needs a break. I believe that for those times when she is on break and online she can find solace at momscape.com.

So what exactly is momscape.com? According to the website itself, it is

“an award winning online magazine (winner of the Parenting Journals’ Editor’s Choice award.) delivering uplifting personal essays from real parents - plus practical guidance on parenting, family fun, romance, travel, health & fitness, weight loss, and more. Hundreds of money-saving online coupons and family travel discounts, too.”

I began by simply looking the site over and at first glance, it is very easy to navigate, with links to everything you would like in a website devoted to moms. I looked at the romance link first, just to see what that would be all about and after reading a couple of the articles, I think some of us dads should too! Articles such as “50 Ways to Say I Love You” and “Falling BACK in Love with Your Spouse” were very informative, especially to this dad.

Next I decided to take a look at the online coupons section. After all who does not want to save money? This was a nice find as there were several different categories, with several name brand retail chains, such as Victoria’s Secret and Justice, offering coupons for anyone wishing to click and print. After that it was over to the parenting section. With 11 different categories in parenting, this is a treasure trove of information. As I read some of the articles, I learned a couple of tidbits of information I had not known previously. You will be amazed at the various writers’ knowledge of the subjects in this section.

As my time was limited this day, taking my daughter out fishing, I will let the moms, and dads who venture here look for themselves at the variety of information on this site. You will not be disappointed. I will simply say that as for family safe and friendly, this is really not a kid’s site, but a parent’s site, so in saying that, I would not let my kids on this site. It is not bad, but the subject matter can be a little over the heads of younger viewers. As for parents, especially Moms, I say check it out!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

From My Column on Dad-Blogs, Yahoo! Kids Review

I have two girls, ages ten and six, and both of them are somewhat online savvy for a child. Now as a parent I tend to be overly protective when it comes to what they look at online, and what sites they can visit. It is my hope that by writing this column, you will discover with me, websites that are family friendly, for both your kids and yourself. For this first column, I would like to write about a site I looked at today: Yahoo Kids.

According to Yahoo's FAQ, the site is geared towards kids ages six through twelve, and attempts to deliver the best and safest content on the web. You may remember the site originally as "Yahooligans!".

At first glance this site is very appealing, with lots of vibrant colors, clearly defined areas and for this parent, it seems safe. I decided to try and see how safe it is.

The first thing I did was to try out the search feature of the site, and began typing in some words, one at a time that I would not use around kids, much less adults. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the words brought back no results, not even a hint of what the words represented. So far, I was impressed with that feature alone. Also, for the safety of the kids, all of the content is screened by "real live human beings", again according to the site FAQ.

The next thing I looked at was the Parents link. When the link is clicked, a warning popup appears saying that you are entering the parent's area and that you should only do so with your parent. That I do like, but I am a little disappointed that a kid would be able to go on to the parent's section, simply by clicking on the Continue to Parent's link on the popup. The parent's area is mainly used for things like movie reviews and postings by parents, for parents, such as you would find in any forum. There were some subjects that kids might find difficult to grasp, depending on the age, and there was one questionable word, but other than that, I wouldn't be too upset if my ten year old arrived at this section.

As I have one child entering fifth grade, and the other moving up to first, I looked at the study section next. This is a section that impressed me as well. According to Yahoo, the study section's Directory has more than 10,000 kid-safe websites that are accessible for study. Among the other study aides is a kid friendly World Fact Book and a kid's answer section called Ask Earl. There are several answers to hundreds of submitted questions and your child may also submit questions to have answered. However, you should talk to your child, in that the question may not be answered due to the volume of questions received.

There are other sections to this site, including Games, Music, Movies, Jokes, Sports, Horoscope and ECards.

The games section includes flash based games for the kids to play and game previews for games that can be purchased. The jokes section has many clean, appropriately aged jokes that kids will love. As of last count, Yahoo claims more than 2000 jokes. The movies section includes clips from current kid's movies and DVDs that play in a popup flash player. The sports section includes clips of kids playing sports and flash based sports games. The ECards section is just what it says it is. Your child can type in the first name of a friend and that friend's email address and click send. Yahoo claims it does not keep the email addresses.

The last thing I want to say about this site is the fact that it appears a very safe site. According to Yahoo not only is all content thoroughly researched and scrutinized, but so are any of the people that Yahoo promotes on this site. The Yahoo FAQ sites an example of this, using their music section.

"When new artists make a splash, we thoroughly research their background, song lyrics, photos and videos at Yahoo! Music. If they pass muster, we'll add them to Yahoo! Kids-but we're not finished with them yet. When new music videos are available, we read the song lyrics to be certain they are child-safe; if so, we watch the entire video to be sure all visuals are appropriate. Only then do we add the video to Yahoo! Kids"

Now, if you do find something that you believe is objectionable, Yahoo asks that you report it immediately.

I firmly believe that the Yahoo Kids site is one that is very kid and family friendly, and one that I personally have no problem allowing either of my daughters to use. Check it out!


New Column

If you take a look to the left of this post, you'll notice a new image. It says "I'm a columnist at Dad-Blogs.com". I was accepted to start writing a weekly column about Kid and Family friendly websites and I am very excited about this opportunity.

I plan to post the piece here as well after posting on Dads-Blogs.com, so stay tuned.

If you want a sneak peak, then visit the first post at Dad-Blogs.com, titled A Review of Yahoo! Kids.

Check it out!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Good Time Had By All Tonight

So tonight we split up the parenting time. My wife went to our daughter's school with our oldest daughter, to help out with the fifth grade graduation ceremony that happened tonight. Apparently this is a tradition, and my wife signed up to head it up this year. I talked to my oldest just now and she said she had a good time; of course, she was with her friends as well.

Now my youngest daugheer and I, well we went fishing!

This is how the story goes:
We blazed a new trail through weeds taller than my daughter, descended a rocky outcrop, waded through the river of sticky mud, climbed the tall mountain of rock, waded through deep river water, and then finally found our honey hole.

We pulled out seven fish, with 1 sunfish, five perch, and 1 largemouth bass, that jumped completely out of the water right in front of my daughter.

We only really got in about an hour and a half of fishing, but it was worth it.

A good time had by all.

I Was In Prison This Past Saturday

You never know what freedom is like until you've been to prison, even for one day. As I posted earlier, I had signed up to go with the Bill Glass Prison Ministry to one of two prison facilities in Bonham, TX this past Saturday. It was an interesting experience.

Let me give you the facts of the trip first:

There were 411 men and women who went as volunteers. Bikers, Professionals, you name the social status and it was represented. In fact there were so many volunteers that the ministry was turning people away! 300 went to the Choice Moore Unit, and 110 joined me at the Buster Cole State Jail Facility. There had to have been over 100 bikers there, (and yes, they call themselves bikers) with mostly Harleys, but there were some Hondas, and other Japanese bikes.

The speakers included Keith Davis of the New York Giants, Rich Garza, the Chaplain for the San Antonio Spurs, Another who's name escapes me at the moment, and Jack Meeks, the famous NASCAR driver, who brought the winning car from Daytona with him. There was a band that played most of the day, Namesake. If you hear that this band will be playing near you, I suggest you go see them. They were fantastic!

The main reason we were there was to tell them the Good News of Christ, and what it meant, and how to receive Christ and become a follower of Christ. I won't call it a success, but the final talley was 111 verbal commitments, surrendering to Jesus, 10 rededications and several who reconfirmed their faith. Now it is up to the chaplaincy to help these baby Christians grow in their faith.

Now, my personal experience went like this: when we were in Freshman training, I had the chance to ask the chaplain if he had any Wiccans, Pagans, or Druids on the site. He affirmed that he did, and that was the end of that, or so I thought. God did have a devine appointment for me I believe, because of the first two men I approached, one was a follower of Christ, and his bunkmate was Wiccan! I don't believe in coincidence. Now, Joshua, the Wiccan did not make a commitment to Jesus that day, but I believe that a seed was planted, just as one was planted in my heart 12 years ago. Joshua and I talked for most of the time I was there, and he did promise to read the Bible again, but with a fresh perspective.

I ask everyone who reads this to pray for him, for protection from the army of darkness that surrounds him and his family, to lift him up and for people to give him Godly counsel about this. In other words, let there be someone to water that seed planted. Two others I ask prayer for are Matthew and Austin.

So that is it for now. I will describe the actual feelings of being on the inside, if only for a day at a later time.

Until then, have a blessed day!