Friday, May 31, 2013

Wheels of Change Move Really Fast Around Here.

Things they don't tell you about parenting #56,724:

No one explained how in 14 seconds you could go from sitting on the couch relaxing, having a drink and joking about dragon sex (as usual) to holding a baby that is projectile vomiting. Moments later the mess is covering both of you and half the room. 20 minutes later, you're done scrubbing the carpet and you're rinsing out linens and clothes in a shower and showering yourself. Good times.

P.S. Not that I was describing what just happened here, but if I were then you should know Link is ok. His ibuprofen went down the wrong pipe triggering the whole episode. He took a bottle after a wardrobe change and I rocked his hot little self back to sleep. Fingers crossed that he gets some needed sleep. The bright side is I'm on the board with two showers for the week and it's only Thursday; so I've got that going for me. I mean, if it were me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Guess How Much I Love You

Why I love my job:

I know this was inspired by "Guess How Much I Love You" the book and show, but it's still just too much sweet for one person to take. J Bean asked me, "Guess how much I love you, Daddy?"

"I don't know, how much?"

"I love you as much as all the cherries, all the lemonade and all the dragons in the world. And Back"

With a big hug, I replied: "Well, that certainly is a lot. I love you as much as all the rainbows, all the oceans, all the ice creams in all the world and I love you to the moon and back."   I'm not sure I can beat the dragons though.  

Who Wins the Bread Around Here?

A recent study is causing quite a stir among the blogosphere and with the talking heads on TV.  Fox had some incredibly telling reactions to a recent Pew Research study. 

The problem is not that some women are the breadwinners and some men stay home with the kids, the problems are at the micro level. Families where there is not enough parental involvement (from either Mom or Dad, or where Mom or Dad are missing altogether) is a different animal than a family with "traditional" roles reversed. There are certainly single Moms and Dads who raise their children successfully. All of this data is simply a conflation of so many issues that it is pointless. Of course, Fox doesn't see it that way. They think anything other than subservient women and traditional "manly leader men" can combine in complementary roles to raise children "right." 

Fox, and particularly you, Lou Dobbs... Fuck Off. Separate the real issues here of education and poverty and help us tackle the problem. It's not that families aren't following the blueprint of preferred design, it's that some people are growing up in screwed up situations combined with poverty and lack of education and then having their own children! These numbers being quoted are also irrelevant. There are more single mothers than before and they are by default "the breadwinners" of their households. Many of them are doing an outstanding job raising their children while some are not. This certainly has nothing to do with who brings home the bacon. It has everything to do with who is teaching their children right from wrong and how to succeed (and what our society... the village... is doing to help them).  

The Times, They Are a Changin'

J Bean chose Special K rice crisp cereal this morning and I pointed out how it makes sound. She seemed to think me a marketing genius after I told her it sounded like "Snap, Crackle, Pop" ("Snap, Crockle, Pot" when she says it, which sounds like a much better breakfast in my opinion).

While eating, she was tapping on her chair with her foot, "What is that sound? I don't think it's my cereal!" She asked me conspiratorially.

"I'm not sure," I replied, playing along. "Is it our neighbors?"

"No," she pauses and looks at me over her glasses for emphasis. "It's the the wheels of change."

WTF? You plottin' on me baby girl!? Where do they get this stuff?

Breakfast of Champions

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Can't Learn From the School of Hard Knocks If You Never Attend.

Link was sliding off, on purpose and feet first, from a short height today at the Children's museum when a father I don't know came up behind him and held his hand out toward his back. It's understandable, especially if he has a younger or less able child, and I'm sure I've done similar things instinctually or uncertain who the parent was, but I was within arm's reach and I said, "He's OK, he can do it and I'm right here." The guy proceeded to touch Link in order to "save" him from a 1.5 inch fall to the ground. I bit my tongue, we were having a nice time as a family and it's not that he touched my kid, obviously his intentions were good... but damn, that is beyond irritating. If a parent says they've "got it" then that means you need to bugger off. You are relieved of all responsibility, which never left the parent's realm anyway.

Link is 15 months and a rough tumbler, I'm not going to allow him to fall on his head from some great height, but he doesn't need to be protected from every stumble and crash on the butt. That isn't helping him learn to cope, to overcome challenges and to take a spill without it ruining his day. I know the urge to intervene is probably greater the more the observer perceives danger but if the parent tells you they have it under control and the "risk" involves anything less than great bodily harm or death then you need to mind your business, move on and keep your hands to yourself. What's your kid doing while you are saving mine from nothing?

I read about this recently on The Daddy Files blog in an article titled "Why I Let My Son Fall and Fail" and I agree with the premise. I get annoyed, personally, with helicopter parenting to begin with, but when you are helicopter parenting children other than your own it becomes more than an annoyance, it becomes an intrusion.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hot Dougs Gourmet Encased Meats

"What do you want to eat, J Bean?"

"Hot dogs... Can wet go to Hot Dougs"

Hot Dougs is a Chicago staple with gourmet encased meats, like today's special Red Wine and Demi Glace Venison Sausage with Sweet & Spicy Mufaletta Mustard, Pate de Campagne and Goat Cheese. The line is always long, I expect an hour wait as I pull up and see the line.

"You see that line?" I ask, "its going to be a very long wait, are you sure you want to wait?"

"I don't care how long it takes, Daddy, I really want Hot Dougs."

"OK, what kind of hot dog do you want?" I ask.

"Just a regular hot dog, with no mustard. I don't like mustard."

Oh well, we'll wait, I'm in for some duck fat fries and a chicken cordon blue sausage with roasted garlic mustard, asiago cheese and fried prosciutto.  I have to laugh, though, that she insisted on this place for a hot dog. A plain hot dog.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Parenting Truth 292: The White One.

Parenting Truth #292: White clothes will only be white for a few minutes. Take a picture.

Found a white Polo shirt and some white pants in the drawer. I know I didn't buy
them and they have probably been handed down from 2-3 families of boys who never wore them, so I figured... what the hell? We'll treat it like a science experiment. He's a blank slate for stains, dirt and food! Might as well use them now instead of handing them to another boy who will keep them in a drawer and then give them away. I took some pictures to memorialize the moment of whiteness though.

Learning through Gardening

More pearls of Wisdom from the garden this week: 

#1: Regarding Dirt. 
"You didn't want Link to eat the dirt yesterday because it's potty soil right?"
"No, kiddo, it's Potting Spoil."
"Oh, hahaha! Good because no one want to put their hands in potty soil! Right?" 

#2: Regarding Clothes
"When you say someone has bare arms, it's because they don't have any clothes on their arms, right? 
"They say that because bears don't wear any clothes don't they?"
"Well, that's a goog observation, but no there are two words bear and bare... and that conversation went around in circles for the next 10 minutes"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Down and Dirty

During gardening yesterday, I had J Bean helping by digging a hole in the corner of the garden and putting dirt in buckets which I could use in other areas as we were planting. It was mainly busy work. and I also had a huge bag of potting soil I was using. At one point, I asked J Bean to bring me some dirt and she said, "I'm gonna go get you some clean dirt out of the bag instead of this."

I told her that was fine, but "all dirt is dirty. That's why they call it dirt." Then again, I would have been happier if Link had eaten a handful of the "clean" dirt rather than a the stuff off the ground where I see rabbits and rats every night I step out there. Ewww. I literally sprayed his mouth out with the hose, he was not a fan.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NPR Shedding Some More Light on Stay Home Fathers.

This article came out on NPR today. Give it a read, my reaction is below.

I didn't like the notion that for the past 150 years men have been trained not to spot dirt or care for a child while women have been. The pressures and social expectations still exist, but "training" has changed dramatically over the past 30 years (if not, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing). I had some exposure to care-giving as an adolescent and knew plenty of involved Dads growing up. As far as I know, Vv never took a Home Ec class, so I'm not so sure the gender pigeon-holing of the previous century was nearly as confining as they make it sound in the article (at least not for everyone). That is not to say there isn't plenty of room for improvement, but I don't feel like a "pioneer" in my role.

The NPR articles is certainly not the worst exposure for SAHD's and some of the common complaints of At Home Dads are addressed. It is always good to help others understand the effect of familial expectations, societal pressure, and misperceptions regarding any Dad with kids in public being part of a social experiment or a rare "Daddy Day." That was the biggest learning experience for me, because I never thought I would get the insight as a heterosexual white male into the experience of a minority. Certainly SAHD (stay at home Dad's), at least those of us who are white guys belonging to a middle income or higher brackets, can't compare our problems to other minorities and I certainly don't mean to imply we could/should. Being shunned by a group of Mom's, sneered at by "manly men," or mistaken for a bumbling idiot on occasion doesn't compare in any meaningful way to what I would call true marginalization and doesn't approach any level of oppression. It's a pain in the ass not to have a changing station in the men's bathrooms in many places and its annoying to see Dads in media portrayed in the tired, stereotypical "Mr Mom" way, but we do still get to vote and be married, so we've got that going for us.

With that said, just the "taste of being different" brought about an increase in empathy and the understanding I feel around minority, LGBT, gender and women's issues. It's like the whole "simulated childbirth" thing they can do to men now. It still doesn't really scratch the surface of the experience, but certainly gives you a moment in the shoes of another's experience. To me, the insight in this area is going to translate to my children's perception of the world and gender in particular. I like to think that the children of at-home Dads are going to grow up to be some of the most interesting trailblazers in a generation that will challenge all the ideas of "Man" and "Woman." I'm proud of that.

I addressed the contentment/satisfaction issue mentioned in this story within my own article at the Good Men Project.

I hope what I illustrated in that piece is that for men and women, full-time child caregiver is a career and can be just as engaging as any other with rewards that fall short monetarily but are incredibly fulfilling emotionally. There is no doubt, however, that the unique situation brings about unexpected stressors in relationships. Fortunately, those are also accompanied by unexpected benefits. Men's experience in the stay home role often has a lot to do with how they accept it and approach it, which is often a product of how they came to the role whether accidental, forced by unemployment or if it was a voluntary and deliberate decision as mine and many others' was. I love what I do and I'm good at it, to me that's the most important aspect.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let your Middle Finger do the Walking.

Rant of the day: Why the hell do they still make phone books and why do I need one delivered to my doorstep every 3 weeks? We're supposed to be saving the environment, preventing deforestation and cutting back on fossil fuel use but this whole industry cuts down untold numbers of trees, spews pollutants to make them then delivers the heavy things all over the country and all over the neighborhood just so 99% of the people can walk it to their garbage (or recycling at least, if we're lucky). Stop it! I don't even have a landline! Like I'm going to put my phone down and go look for the phonebook when I could just look it up right there, or on the computer or call information in the rare instance I'm without internet service (and are you going to have your phonebook with you if you have no internet service?). Seriously. What do the Ad people tell their advertisers that makes them believe this is an important aspect of their marketing plan? I mean, if you aren't in the REAL Yellow Pages you don't exist!? Well, except you do on Google... ever heard of it? Shove your 50 pound book where the sun don't shine, I've got all the kindling I need for this year! Better yet, come to my house and let me clock you in the head with it until you take me off whatever "we hate the environment and love pointless products list" you have me on! Ask people if they want it, if they do give it to them. If not... oh well if not, you wouldn't be able to make that ad money off the schmucks who think no one can find out they install gutters if they're not in the yellow pages. End rant. I can probably go to Pinterest and find out how great the pages are for paper mache or something... as if. I only make art with Cheetos (Cheetos are nutritionally sound and environmentally friendly right?) <facepalm>

Update: On Facebook, a reader pointed out there is a website for opting out of the phone book delivery, which I really liked the sound of. I looked into it and it was created by the Yellow Pages Association (where they presumably hold regular meetings on how to best market to you and I and how to provide advertisers with valuable lists of "targets"). I'm not sure, the service is what it is cracked up to be, so be careful. It looks like it may work for people only getting AT&T books, however, their is a cost. The cost is giving your detailed information to the marketing A-holes who already send unsolicited 10 lb books to your doorstep. If you don't have a landline with them, they don't know you, they just know your address. Do you really want to give those people your name to go with the address and an email to contact you from now on? All they need to know if they were out to "protect the environment" is there an address at ______ where we don't want your books on our doorstep anymore. Anything else is just marketing research buried in anti-marketing. Clever devils. The environmental aspect makes me want to register, but the distrust of these marketers makes me not want to register with them. I'm just saying, consumers beware... if there is no product, you are the product. If these folks wanted to just put books where they are wanted, they would allow people to "Opt In" instead of collecting our information and making us "opt out." 

Before going to the opt out site, you should read THIS.

I went and am now opted out from my address under a false name, with the email address I give out to all a-hole marketers and other people who don't really need my email address. The phone number I was required to provide is for a weather/time service. You do have to have an email address you have access to in order to confirm your registration. I set up one long ago with a pseudonym and incorrect info that I only check for such occasions. I'd recommend that course for anyone who doesn't like giving out their real email for everything you sign up for so they can send you advertisements. We'll see if it works, or if I start getting new snail mail junk (though it will be hard to tell within the current barrage). 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day... A collective card from Dad Bloggers everywhere.

Update: the original article was rerun in the Good Men Project as well. 

When I think about the fact one of the best mothers on the planet agreed to work while I stay home with the kids, it makes me want to be a better Dad, a better husband and a better man. The love and encouragement my wife can deliver to another human amazes me and when she focuses those gifts on her children it lights them up in very special ways. You can almost see them grow in strength and confidence when she smiles at them. For me it can heal a bad day, dissipate self-doubts, and refuel my passion for giving our children the best start we can muster. Her sacrifices of time and work do not go unnoticed and her willingness to truly play whatever roles are necessary for the success of our team, our family, is a model for all parents (especially me). My co-chief, my parenting partner, my wife and my love, Vv, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.

Thanks to Scott Behson of Fathers, Work & Family (where the cards below first ran) for putting this together. Here are the cards from all the Dads (I get to put mine first on my page, hehe)



Eric from Dad on The Run.
My Mother looked life’s greatest obstacles in the eye and kept on trucking while I grew up with little understanding of that. Over the years Mom’s physical abilities have deteriorated due to her ongoing battle with MS. However, her mental steadfastness and unconditional love have remained unchanged. Her love is an anchor during any storm and it taught me what love could be and what I could find in a wife, which brings me to another great mother in my life. The love and encouragement my wife can deliver to another human amazes me and when she focuses those gifts on our children they light up in very special ways. Of course, I also have to thank my wife’s mother for raising not one, but two, fantastic Mom’s and I look on with pride and great expectations to my own sister who is a new Mom this year!  Thank you to these mothers, and all great mothers, for what you do for your children and the world every day.

Scott Behson. Fathers, Work and Family blog.
You know how revved up Nick gets on nights you come home late and he gets out of bed, hides/jumps out to surprise you, runs around like a loony, and can’t get enough of cuddling and laughing with you? I feel that way too.
Happy Mother’s Day to the best wife and mom I could imagine. You have given me the gifts of true love, the amazing life we’re building together, and of fatherhood. I can never repay what you have given me. But I’ll spend every day trying.
Concretin Nik. DadLabs.
“Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” – Eric Draven
The greatest thing that’s ever happened to me is a direct result of the second greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, TheBoy&HisMother. I love you both. Happy Mother’s Day!
James W. Naturally Daddy.
“Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the place to make it well? My mother.” -Ann Taylor
Mom, you taught me too much to explain all of the happiness that you brought into my life. To my wife, you are a very special woman and I could never imagine being in your shoes and our daughter could never have a more loving mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to four special women: To my mother, for unconditional love always, no matter what I ever did or said. To my mother in law, Nana, for the love and support. Seeing RJ with his Nana warms my heart. To my grandmother, matriarch of our family four generations strong, and enough love in her heart for many more. And lastly to my wife. RJ and I are so blessed to have you in our life.
Scotty Schrier, Dads Who Change Diapers
There are only 26 paltry letters to describe the most important women in my life:  The one who gave birth to me and left this plane before meeting my sons.  The one who married me and gave birth to the two most amazing little miracles I have ever seen.  And the one who took my mother’s place and made me one of her own.
There are no words that can describe the debt I owe these women. I only hope that my actions can show them how much I truly care. For without them, I would be but a pale image of the man I am today. I love each and every one of you with all of the ferocity of a thousand suns. Thank you for putting up with me and loving me back. Especially when I didn’t deserve it.
Victor Aragon Jr of
This Mother’s Day is going to be a special one, because it will be our first one with our new addition.  Last year, my wife worked and our plans with family members fell apart, so it wasn’t a good one for my wife.  This year, I am hoping to erase that memory and hopefully have a great one.  My wife and I have known each other for over sixteen years.  In those years it seems like even with our ups and downs, we are constantly getting to know each other and our love keeps getting stronger.  I am thankful for having her in my life and for all the hard work that she does for me and the little ones.  Thank you for all you do babe, I love you.
There is another great woman in my life that if wasn’t for her I wouldn’t exist; my mother.  My mom is a strong woman and I am very thankful for all that she does for my family.  Even though I am not her little boy anymore, my mother still insists on giving me money for gas or to get something for my little girl.  My mom and dad have always gone above and beyond for my sisters and me and I feel that I am trying the best that I can to repay them for everything they did.  I would like to thank my mother for all her sacrifices and to tell her how much I love her.  Thanks Mom.
As always, thanks for reading.
DorkDad from
Because of the way you move through the room. Because of the way your smile sounds on your voice. Because every single curve on your body is in exactly the right place. Because of the way your hair smells and the way it tickles my face.  Because of the twinkle in your eyes when you’re making mischief, and the look on your face when you’re asleep. Because of the feel of your heart and the warmth of your skin when you’re holding me. Because of the magic you made with our children, and the magic you make with our family. Because everything I love about my life I can trace directly back to you.
Thank you.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Dave Lesser, Amateur Idiot / Professional Dad,
A Mother’s Day Haiku
Mother’s Day is here.  I forgot a card again. Glad I’ve got a blog!
Mom, I love you. I don’t say it often enough, but you’re awesome. You did an outstanding job raising me (and those two other dudes who kind of look like me).
Allie, what can I say? You’re an unbelievable mother and an amazing wife. This whole family would be lost without you. Literally. I just cannot follow the turn-by-turn directions on my phone without you in the passenger’s seat. Again, this is not a metaphor. Well, maybe it is a little. I’m an idiot. But I’m your idiot and you’re stuck with me. You and the kids are my world. Thank you for everything, everything you do. I love you a super friggin’ jillion much!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Neal Call. Raised by my daughter.
I just want to say a humble thank you to my mother, my wife, and to all women who bear or nurture these little seeds that bring purity and wonder into the world. The “bearing” part is pretty awesome and mind-boggling, but at least as important is the part involving raising these creatures; of sacrificing what you want for what they need; of protecting them so desperately and then encouraging them to spread their wings. These are things that anybody can do, male or female, but I’ve learned the most about them from the women in my life. So, thanks.
Jeff Bogle, from the internet. Specifically, but limited to:
My ability to find the perfect set of curtains for the dining room and my knowledge of how to wash them and hang them damp to dry without creases. My need to vacuum my way out of a room. And my dry humor that has served me, mostly well.  Most of what people like about me, I am because of you. And to this day I enjoy talking with you on the phone almost daily, even when it is you calling me because you, once again, cannot figure out how to properly interact with technological devices. I love you, Mom, more than I’ll ever be able to write down, because even though I string sentences together every day, for some kind of living, I have yet to be able to find the correct combination of letters and words to form the single sentence that does you justice. Thank you for everything, Mom.
James Rohl, Portland Dad, Trophy Husband, and favorite son,   
Thank you mom for showing me how to be radically hospitable, fiercely loyal, and emotionally available. I am thankful to call you my mom, and proud to call you my friend. Happy Mother’s Day.
Colby Shipwash from Days of a Domestic Dad:
You hug, you play, you teach, you love; you are their Mom and friend forever.
To my loving wife, and mom to our children, I want to thank you for being a wonderful mom all the time. A day doesn’t go by that I am not grateful for you, and that our kids are lucky to have you in their life.
Thank You and Happy Mother’s Day
Robert Duffer, Editor of Dads & Families section of The Good Men Project
Because you built a lego racecar ramp in our basement that would’ve made the Pinewood Derby and MacGyver proud,
Because you made your own pinata, your own decorations, your own party for 30 first graders,
Because your daughter handles a hockey stick like you, laughs like you, smiles like you, needs like you, plays like you, cares like you, loves like you,
Because you fly home when your grandparents are ill,
Because you adventure, you explore, you inquire,
Because you love without condition, and you care without self,
You are the most wonderful mother, a role model, a hero.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Give Me Food Now...

The great news is Vv took J Bean to a swimming lesson this morning and Link decided to sleep to an unheard of 9:30am. I was out until he woke me up. Problem is, when Link sleeps that long he wakes up hangry like a starving velociraptor. Its all I can do to get a banana and some avocado cut up before he starts eating the furniture or my leg. Usually, I give him some reflux meds and try to make him wait another 20 minutes (which is recommended for best effectiveness). Let's just say, I didn't make him wait this morning. His red-tailed hawk screams made it clear he would not wait, even after I gave him a sippy cup of milk and formula. Pretty sure if he could talk, he would have used the Teen Wolf voice (when Michael J Fox says he needs a keg of beer) to tell me to "Give me some food... Now."

Ah well, I tamed the beast with fruit and veggie scraps without losing a finger and even made some coffee. Vv and J Bean are still MIA, they must have run to the store for more food supplies for the in-house tyrant here. Have a great weekend Parenting Partners!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Drill me, Baby!

Leaving the house with no kids in tow is such a rarity these days that even going to the dentist can seem like one of those work half-days I used to get once in a blue-moon. This morning I headed off to have my teeth scraped on and my gag reflex tested (they call it a cleaning), which is an experience I used to despise. Even the part spent on the chair isn't that bad considering I'm resting my bones and no one is asking me for anything more complex than "open wider" or "look this way."  Now, when including the commute on the train with earphones in and my FB app buzzing, I thoroughly enjoy a dental appointment. The commute was more interesting than usual because I was on a train car that was covered from top to bottom with stickers simulating a sunny FLA landscape. Apparently, it was an ad promoting FLA vacations; quite ingenious if you ask me. It was odd seeing all those grumpy Chicago commuters surrounded by palm trees, blue skies and water fowl. Don't you people know you could be home getting screamed at and/or puked on right now? Smile at your handheld personal computer or better yet each other, it's a beautiful day!

My CTA car was made out to look like a sunny FLA horizon, but everyone acted oblivious. I actually wished (just for a second) that J Bean was with me because she would have flipped! When did we get too old and too cool to care about the interesting and out of the ordinary? 
Coincidentally, though certainly not impeding my dental hygiene fun, the dentist was approaching 9 months pregnant. I have to admit, it was an odd sensation to be so close to an expectant mother's belly that wasn't my wife's. With the belly next to my head I felt that every word I said was being heard by the passenger who kicked me in the ear a few times. "Nice try, runt," I mumbled under my breath while some implement was buzzing in my mouth, "this is still my day and it'll take a more ferocious assault to dampen my spirits. Hell, you don't even know how to whine yet. You scare me not."

Honestly, the pregnancy status of my Doc allowed me a little schadenfreude knowing the one usually in charge of my mouth torture will soon be experiencing meconium poop for the first time (which is really something you know nothing about until you have seen it with your own eyes). My cleaning was completed 20 minutes before Vv and the kids were scheduled to pick me up so we could all take her to work and then go run a few errands. it was a quick and painless cleaning, not a single cavity, dammit! Totally missed the opportunity for a follow-up appointment; rookie move on my part. Since I had some free time, I half walked half skipped to the corner coffee house and had myself a large Americano and enjoyed some more music on the way back to the extraction point. The whole family showed up and we went about our day. The cherry on top is a Dad's night out tonight and I'm getting relieved before bedtime! Sometimes when you're a stay home parent, the weekend falls on a Tuesday and it's just as sweet as any three-day holiday if you ask me. Don't forget to have yourself some "you time" and splurge on a dental procedure or a visit to the urologist for a check up soon... you deserve it.

Hasbro's Iron Man 3 toys... not just for boys.

We were recently provided with a set of 3 toys from the Hasbro Marvel Iron Man 3 collection which arrived in a nifty box from "Stark Industries." To say my daughter was excited would be an understatement. She didn't know they were coming and, as far as I knew, didn't really have any idea about Iron Man. I was wrong. She was shouting "Iron Man, Iron Man! Are those for me!?" by the time I got the toys out of the shipping box. She hovered nearby watching with great interest and poorly contained impatience as I began the work of releasing the toys from their cardboard and plastic prisons. 4 days later, she's still playing with them all. Below is a description and my opinions on each of the toys we received. I'm new to the toy reviewing world, but hope to make it something I can do on occasion. Let me know what you think and how I could improve my reviews if you would.

Marvel Iron Man 3 Avengers Initiative Arc Strike Iron Patriot Figure (aka: War Machine) - Ages 4 and up. Requires 3 "AAA" batteries (included). This figure is about 10" tall and comes with a shoulder-attached missile launcher. The action figure moves at the neck, arms and legs but there is no movement at the elbows or ankles and only partial movement at the knees. War Machine comes with a flip-up double-barreled missile launcher (actually shoots a small projectile 2-3 feet). When you lift his arm, the launcher pops up, and you push the button to fire the missiles. The figure also sports combat sounds, pulsing lights and battle phrases.


Marvel Iron Man 3 Avengers Initiative Assemblers Battle Vehicle - This one is for ages 4 and up. No batteries required. The set includes a flip-up car (think funny car with a spring loaded Iron Man launcher), 1 Iron Man figure, 3 weapon-arm accessories (interchangeable arms for the figure which double as guns for the vehicle), and a figure-launch accessory (I call it Iron Man skates) and instructions. When the "assemblers" size action figure is loaded on his "skates" and into the springloaded cockpit, he can be ejected/launched forward by pressing down on the rear spoiler of the vehicle. If you are on a smooth surface and have the figures arms up, but not quite straight up, he can and occasionally does land on his feet and continue to skate across the surface for a foot or two. More often, if you don't have the arms in the correct position or are not on a perfectly smooth surface he falls on his face, not that this bothered my 4 year old at all. She was too busy launching missiles and changing arms guns around to care.


Marvel Iron Man 3 ARC FX Mission Mask - Ages 5 and up (probably due to the projectiles which shoot out with some force, probably good for 6-8 foot "targeting"). The web indicates the mask does not include batteries, but ours came with the 3 needed "AAA" batteries already installed. The mask has buttons on either side of the head for launching the missiles and activating the lights, blast sounds and battle phrases. When you hit the fire button the eyes light up blue giving a nice effect to the wearer and anyone on the receiving end of a missile attack, there is also a red light on top that lights up. This is probably my daughter's favorite toy of the collection. She thoroughly enjoyed taking it to school and intimidating the boys who tried to tell her it was a "boy's toy." How quickly their tunes changed once she activated the sounds, shot a few warning missiles over their heads and chased them with glowing blue eyes. I have also found the mask to be quite efficient for keeping bacon grease from popping into my eyes. Nothing makes cooking dinner go by faster than pretending to be a battle-suit-wearing superhero.

FTC Disclosure: The assortment of Hasbro Marvel Iron Man 3 Toys were provided to me by Hasbro for the purpose of review consideration. All opinions are my own with input from J Bean. I was not compensated otherwise for the review nor was I given any instruction or input by Hasbro on how to present the products (nor would I have listened if I was).