I don't know how many of you know about this since it all happened prior to my starting The Rock Father, but on February 1, 2010, I lost one of my closest friends to a single-car accident on a rural road in Southeastern Wisconsin. JUSTIN MENTELL was just 27 years old, a talented artist that excelled at everything he'd attempt. We'd met back in 2004 while working on the set of a movie called ROLL BOUNCE, and over the next six years, we'd share many adventures, collaborate on some things, and above all, have each other's backs. After moving to Hollywood for a few years to work on projects like BOSTON LEGAL and PALO ALTO, Justin moved back to Illinois after the premiere of the Disney Film, G-FORCE, in which he had a supporting role. He'd begun focusing on his painting and music, and his German Shepherd, Meisner was a constant companion. Just over six months later, everything came to an abrupt stop.
In the interest of web traffic and luring new visitors to The Rock Father (Oh, Hi There!), I'm jumping on the Royal Baby Bandwagon. No, I have no vested interest no interest at all in the end result of Kate Middleton's shagging of Prince William (though I sincerely hope that the Austin Powers "Soul Bossa Nova" was playing when it occurred). As a fellow parent, I congratulate them on the birth of their son, but reality is - to me they're no different than any other set of strangers I might run across while out shopping with the kids. I don't know them, and they don't know me. It's fun for some to engage in "Royal watching," but that's not my bag. Never understood the fascination. But that's really not what this entry is all about. It's about me. And it's about my offspring - the end result of my shagging activities with the Dutchess of Frankfort back in 2008.
Next month, our oldest daughter, Adalyn, will turn four. My wife and I didn't actually realize this until last week, but that means we had not attended a concert together since becoming parents. I've gone solo to a bunch (part of the whole "Rock Father" thing), but she and I just seldom actually get a "date night" together (though she went to see NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK last night), and when we have, concerts haven't been our go-to event [Note: She DOES NOT enjoy the metal]. Well, the dry spell ended last Tuesday, as my wife and I finally ventured into the City to catch THE LAST SUMMER ON EARTH Tour at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion. On the bill for the evening: BARENAKED LADIES, BEN FOLDS FIVE, and BOOTHBY GRAFFOE.
While we've been very fortunate to have a pair of healthy kids thus far, I know that many of my readers and friends have been faced with some health challenges as parents. One such challenge is Autism, a topic that I have brought attention to a few times in the past, and something that I seem to encounter an increasing amount of families being affected by. That said, tonight I'm sharing news of an event that will take place in Kentucky on July 27... ROCKSTARS GLUED presents AUTISM SINGS KY. This special event will feature 29 bands performing at the Thompson House in Newport, as part of a day that will include music, games, raffles, food, dance, and silent auctions - all in support of Autism Speaks. Check out full details, along with the impressive list of items that have been dontated to the effort.
Originally Posted July 12, 2013 - Updated, October 9, 2015
I often feel like the "odd man out" when it comes to my views on the current state of childhood play. Despite covering the latest and greatest in tech toys and apps here on The Rock Father, I'm not keen on making them a big part of our daily lives. I've touched on that before, and sure, I like to know about the "cutting edge," but here's the reality: As plugged-in as they are, the current crop of kids are largely missing out. They're missing out on using their minds - experiencing new worlds through imaginative play and interacting with the real world. What happened to playing dress up and creating adventures in your own neighborhood? A lot of kids aren't getting those experiences, and I think it's because some grownups have forgotten about their own experiences, and now they need a reminder.
Earlier this month, the youngest member of our family hit a major milestone: Finley Renoir turned one! I have to get used to the fact that "Baby Finley" is now a toddler, and I still can't believe that it's already been a year since she came into our lives. This past year has been filled with emotions that I never expected to have, fueled by the fact that even before Finn was born, my wife and I decided that we'd be completing our family with the arrival of our second daughter. With each "first" for Finn came a "last" for Dad... as I'd come to realize that I was doing certain things for the final time as a parent as our baby moved towards completing her first twelve months on this planet. The last folding of a 0-3 months size shirt; the last box of plain rice cereal purchased; and recently, the last bottle of formula created, as the little one "graduated" to 2% milk.
One of the best things about being a Dad is experiencing "firsts" with my daughters. Beyond the usual milestones that everyone seems to think of, it's the little things that always seem to matter most... the first time listening to music on vinyl... the first time we planted seeds together in our garden. Little things that make for BIG memories. With my oldest almost four and my youngest just-turned one, I recently realized that there's certain "firsts" that I'll be able to experience twice. It really hit me as Baby Finley started hitting firsts that I experienced with Addie just a few years ago. This past weekend, Addie and I shared something that I can look forward to sharing with Finn in a few years: A first Root Beer Float made with Edy's Ice Cream and A&W Root Beer.
On the same day that THE CLOROX COMPANY's CEO Don Knauss was taking to the airwaves to talk about Oakland Athletics Baseball, over on the website of the company's flagship brand, a storm was brewing. Under the heading "6 Mistakes New Dads Make," (note: the post has since been deleted, update below) the online team behind the curtain for Clorox bleach took it upon themselves to declare: "Like dogs or other house pets, new Dads are filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well." Yes. This is real. A new Dad is like a dog, according to Clorox.
Father's Day is a special day for me, not because we "need" a holiday to celebrate being a Dad (I do that every day), but because of the significance that this weekend will forever hold for us personally here at Rock Father HQ. It was two years ago today that I flipped the switch on this website and posted my first entry as THE ROCK FATHER. While this site celebrates it's 2nd Anniversary, this weekend also marks my 4th Father's Day as a Dad, and more importantly, the 1st Birthday of my youngest daughter, who turned one yesterday. Yep, she rocks so hard that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian had to copy us and pop out their little one on June 15 as well.
This is a month of milestones here at Rock Father HQ. Not only will The Rock Father website officially turn two on Father's Day, but the day before that - my youngest daughter, Finley, will turn one. Being a big month for Dads as a whole, the folks at Lake County Magazine (which covers life here in the far Northern Suburbs of Chicago) have published a "Men's Edition" to follow-up the Mom-centric issue they put out last month. The cover story? Stay-At-Home Dads... and I'm one of three featured.
I really dig pinball. It's an itch that I don't often get to scratch, and I figure that's largely due to the lack of proper arcades in 2013. As a kid that grew up in the 1980s, I threw down more than my fair share of quarters in the dimly-lit confines of ALADDIN'S CASTLE. In fact, as an adult, I've always wanted to own a really killer pinball machine (not sure where I'd put one), but maybe I'm overdue. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that my love of pinball would be refueled - and I certainly had no intention of blogging about it. What happened this afternoon is that while taking the girls to Kristof's Entertainment Center in Round Lake Beach, I accidentally came across the just-released METALLICA Pro Pinball Machine that Stern Pinball put out, and there was no way I could pass up the chance to sacrifice a few bucks to the pinball Gods. Give me Fuel... Give me Fire... Give me that which I desire...
In this digital world in which we live, it's... strange... to deal with the flesh-and-blood loss of human beings with whom you've only connected through an endless series of zeroes and ones. Sadly, I've experienced this awkwardly hollow feeling more than a few times over the past decade or so, and even more troubling is the fact that my online acquaintances that have died, have not done so by accident or "natural causes," but by their own hand.