What is the key to happiness? What is a successful life?

beabetterfather.com     Everyone asks themselves at some point in their lives questions like, what is the key to happiness?  What is a successful life?  Generation after generation has grappled with this question.  Some find happiness while others look their whole lives and never find it.  Take a look at some of the greatest philosophers in history and what their beliefs about happiness and success in life were.

Epicurus, a Greek philosopher, believed that living happily evolved around just treatment of others, avoid pain, do whatever is self pleasing, but not to overindulge in anything.

Confucius wrote about having a successful life with these sayings…”What you do not want done to yourself do not do to others”, “The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large”, “When anger arises think of the consequences”, “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated”.

Aristotle believed that one should pursue happiness (not pleasure).  He defined human happiness as being different from sensuous pleasures (vices).  We should not live for sex, money, and rock and roll (that is the animal life).  Instead, we should pursue knowledge, courage, and temperance (moderation/self restraint).

Paul of Tarsus may not officially have been a philosopher but he is responsible for helping spread Christianity.  His message was that everyone and anyone could be saved from their sin through Jesus’ almighty power and being the greatest good the world will ever see.  He had argued this point (successfully) against the original thought of Christ being available only to the Jews and after you were circumcised and followed the Mosaic law.

Solomon (sticking with the Bible theme) was considered the wisest man to ever walk the face of the earth.  He wrote a whole list of philosophical quotes called Proverbs.  Actually, Proverbs was intended to be a “how to” document for his sons.  Here are a few, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance”.  “Ponder the path of your feet then all your ways will be sure, do not swerve to the right or left; turn your foot away from evil”.  “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it”.

We know that Epicurus started a school that inspired other thinkers and was the only one who admitted women.  He died at the age of 72 from kidney stones.  He had no heirs and never married.

Confucius married at the age of 19 and had three children.  He was governor of a town in his 40’s, he had success and increased his position in politics.  He tried to establish a centralized government in his state and achieved a lot but never could completely reform it.  He died at the age of 73 after losing 2 of his children and being divorced.

Aristotle worked alongside Plato for many years and wrote over 200 transcripts in his life.  When he died at the age of 62 he was in hiding due to persecution from being charged with impiety (lack of respect for sacred things).  He had lost a son but had a daughter who survived him.

Paul of Tarsus was considered the first missionary and traveled all over the middle east preaching about Jesus.  His life was not easy and was full of ups and downs.  He spoke in front of kings, leaders, and large groups of people. Was invited to lavish parties and feasts but also knew what it was like to go hungry.  He faced ridicule, imprisonment, and beatings.  Paul was eventually believed to be beheaded and died a martyr.  He never married and lived a transient life.

Solomon was literally the king and the most influential person of his time.  He had money, power, and women.  People came from all of the world just to talk with him.  Yet he ended up not following his own advice and lost his way and his notoriety.  In addition, his sons didn’t listen to his advice and eventually the kingdom Solomon had built to an empire was destroyed.


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Happy and Successful?

If you look at the men described above were they Happy and successful?  I would suggest that at some point in their lives each man would have considered himself happy.  However, happiness is fading just like most of the things in this world.   It’s not something you can posses like a car or a shirt but it’s a state of mind.

Look at people today who are millionaires, famous actors, or well known athletes.  You often hear of them wrecking their lives by overindulgence through poor personal choices.  Yet most of us would look at them and think that if we had their money or success we would be happy.  So why aren’t they?

The answer is simply that fame and fortune aren’t what make us truly happy!  Yes, they may give you some satisfaction for a short time but a long sustained happiness only comes from within.

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Take a Look In The Mirror

One of the top myths about happiness is that it is determined by the number and nature of pleasurable events we experience in our lives.  Happiness cannot be determined by external factors and circumstances.  Rather, it is our innate factors and perceptions that make us happy.  In other words our perspective…

How do I change my perspective?  There are over 100,000 books at Amazon on the subject of happiness that are available for purchase. Maybe you could go to their Website and find a book that may help you on your journey to happiness.  Maybe you could go to a physical place where you feel at peace and meditate on what makes you feel happy.

This may sound made up but there is an actual study at Harvard University called “The Harvard Happiness Study” where it has been tracking “happiness” for 75 years (and counting).  It conclude’s that relationships are the biggest trigger for sustained happiness in people’s lives.  How does relationships effect our happiness?  It changes our perspective.

Look at the tragedy and suffering going on right now in the city of Houston.  People have lost their homes, possessions,  and lives from Hurricane Harvey.  When the rest of the country sees what’s going on we do an amazing job of helping those in need.  It is because our perspective has changed and we realize how fortunate we are to have running water, a dry home, or a change of clothes.  Not to mention the fact that multiple studies conducted around happiness shows that when we help others our sense of happiness increases dramatically.

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These are the basic things we need to know about happiness and success.

…..We will never be happier than we already are (there are not different levels of happiness)

…..We cannot be happy alone

…..We cannot be happy all of the time

…..Success comes from happiness which comes from within (our perspective)

Thanks so much for reading this post!  Please feel free to leave a comment

I wish you much Happiness and Success!!

Steve

Lawn Edger Review, Black & Decker LE750

Black & Decker LE750 Electric Edger Review

Model Number: LE750beabetterfather.com

Trench Depth: 1″-1.5″

Blade: Metal 

Body: Plastic

Best Price: $78.99 (Walmart)

My Ratings (out of a possible 10):  Quality  = 7    Price = 9   Overall = 8  

 

My Reasoning For an Edger…

I live in the South in a residential neighborhood with lots of sidewalks.  We mostly have Bermuda grass in our area.  It is great for the warm temperatures we get here.  The problem with Bermuda grass however, is that it is pretty aggressive growing and can grow across concrete quickly.  So as you can imagine EVERYONE has an edger…except me.

I have been holding off buying one for years now putting up with grass that grows about 5″ over the edge of our concrete.  Once or twice a year I would take my trimmer and cut back the edge.  The problem is with no guide on my trimmer my edge looked anything but straight.  I would also go through about a spool of trim line by the time I completed my task.

My wife would often comment about how rough our sidewalk looked but I would try to ignore it.  I would occasionally borrow my neighbors edger and it looked great until it would grow back again.  What made matters worse is my next door neighbors do a really great job of keeping their sidewalk edges crisp and clean so when I didn’t keep up with my sidewalk it was amplified by how nice our neighbors looked.

I decided it was time suck it up and purchase an edger.

Types of Edgers…

There are countless variations of edgers on the market today but they all fall into basically three categories. Gas, electric, and attachment edgers.

Gas Edgers are typically higher powered edgers that offer  deeper trenching (up to 2.5″) capabilities, metal bodies, 4-5 wheels, automatic starting, self propelled, and variable blade speeds.  The edger blades themselves are curved metal and serrated at both ends.  These are great if you are planning on doing some serious trenching for landscaping or very large yards.  Gas edgers price ranges from $199 to upwards of $499.

Attachment Edgers are for trimmers that have a double shaft where you can remove the bottom shaft that holds the trimmer and can replace it with the edger shaft.  You will need to have a trimmer that has the capability to use these attachments.  A word of caution…some manufacturers of trimmers with attachment capabilities will only accept their attachments so you may not be able to buy a different manufacturers  edger attachment.  There are some universal edger attachments that will work with most trimmers though.

Attachment edgers have a plastic body that has one wheel.  The bodies are not very wide and have a trench max depth of 1.5″.  Blades for these can be either string or metal.  Metal blades are squared at both ends with no curvature to them..

Electric Edgers are for smaller yards where you aren’t planning on digging any major trenches for landscaping and you have access to an outside outlet to plug your extension cord into.  The bodies are plastic with 3 wheels.  The blades can be string or metal.  The metal blades have serrated edges that have a slight curve to them.

Why I chose the LE750 Electric Edger…

I purchased the Black & Decker LE 750 Electric trimmer for several reasons.

1) I have a smaller yard and I own an extension cord that will reach the distance I need to edge my sidewalk.

2) I didn’t want to mess with another motor powered lawn tool.  My gas mower and trimmer already cause me enough engine fits that I didn’t want the potential hassle.

3) The price point on an electric edger is much less than a gas powered edger.

4) I don’t own a trimmer that has attachment capabilities.

5) The Black & Decker LE750 had a metal blade so I didn’t have to worry about going through a lot of string blades.

6) The LE750 was one of the least expensive metal blade edgers I could find.

I researched the Black & Decker LE750 by going to Lowe’s and looking at the available edgers and comparing it to the Black & Decker LE750 which they had setting out on display along with other gas edgers.  I was pleasantly surprised at the girth of the body.  It looked more robust than I had anticipated.  It was also heavier than I would have expected.  I talked with a Lowe’s worker about the different edgers and asked if the Black and Decker LE750 was a good choice in his opinion. His reply was positive and said it was pretty popular.  It was at that point I knew I was going to buy it.

 

The Results…

When I decided to make the purchase I searched online for the best price and found it a Walmart.  When I picked it up it came in a medium sized box.beabetterfather.com

Once I took it out of the box, the only assembly required was attaching the shaft together with two bolts.  The body housing was fully intact and the only thing I adjusted was the trench depth setting.  beabetterfather.com

I grabbed my extension cord and was ready to start using my edger.  I wanted to give you an idea of what the sidewalk looked like before I started.    The photo on the left is one part of the sidewalk that shows the overgrowth pretty well.  The photo on the right is where my property ends and my neighbors begins.  He has a gas powered edger that makes a really nice edge.  I was especially interested in this section and wanted to see if there was a noticeable difference between the gas edger and my electric when it was finished.

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My sidewalk (before edging) next to my neighbors
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Before Edging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started off without any issues and the edger seemed to be working fine.  I had the depth set to 1.0″ and found it didn’t go deeply enough to cut all of the grass.  I moved it to 1.25″ depth and it worked well.  I did at one point try 1.5″ depth but the edger would not go that deep and the blade just stopped.  I used the 1.25″ setting for the rest of my edging. The photo below is how it looked after one pass with the edger.

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The edger performed well and had no issues cutting the overgrown grass although I did have to perform two passes with my edger to be able to cut the grass.  I also had to go back and hand pull a few strands of grass that wouldn’t let go but nothing major.  I edged a lot of grass off of my sidewalk and probably gained about 4″ to 6″ of sidewalk back on each edge while  filling two garbage bags of grass.  The Black & Decker LE750 Edger performed quite well.

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Clippings from edger
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Trash bags full of clippings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ultimate test for me was how well did the edging look on my electric edger compare to my neighbors gas edger?  I am happy to tell you that I could not tell the difference at all in the appearance of our edges.

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My neighbors sidewalk compared to mine (before I edged)
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My neighbors sidewalk compared to mine (after I had edged)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had used my Black & Decker LE750 electric edger pretty hard and it seemed to hold up just fine.  My quality rating of a 7 is based on the fact that it is an electric edger so I knew it would be somewhat limited.  It feels sturdy and really had no hiccups other than not being able to handle the 1.5″ depth cut.  I didn’t think it would have as nice an edge as it did and looked comparable to the gas edger.

The price rating of a 9 is based simply on the fact that this was one of the less expensive models out there and it held up and actually performed quite well.

My overall rating of 8 comes from knowing the body is not designed to last for the next ten years but it is designed to be a quality lower price point alternative to the more expensive gas and electric edgers on the market.

I would definitely recommend this edger to someone.  I will also be updating this post as I use it more to let you know if there are any issues that come up.

Thanks for reading this and I always appreciate it when you leave comments!

What Is A Fathers Love? How to Love Your Kids

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Every child wants nothing more than to be loved.  Mom’s seem to typically do a better job of expressing that love to their kids.  It’s not that Dad’s don’t intend to show love to their kids, it’s just that our intentions don’t always show up as results and it leaves some kids wondering, What is A Father’s Love all about?

Dad’s, I want to talk to you about how to love your kids.  I have a very effective method that works extremely well and I am willing to share it with you today.  I’m not going to ask you to send me a check so you can use this method.  I’m not going to ask you to refer six of your friends to this website.  I am going to freely give you my method at no cost or obligation to you.

This method of mine is pretty simple to understand but, for some, very hard to follow.  It requires us Fathers to be able to communicate with our children verbally.  I’m not talking about the kind of communication that you would use for giving them directions on a task or advice on a certain problem they are having.  This communication requires us to relay to our children that they are special and that you deeply care about them.

My method requires a Father to be excellent at saying just a few words.  Are you ready for the big reveal?  You need to be able to say the words…

I LOVE YOU…

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Simple right?  These three words carry so much meaning to your children that you cannot begin to fathom how much they crave to hear it!  If you were to do a search on Google for a list of things children need from their parents, most of them will have saying the words “I Love You” as their top three and a lot as their #1.

The problem for many Dad’s is we don’t say it nearly enough!  I know we love our kids to death and as men we prefer to show it rather than say it.  Did you know that Robert De Niro wasn’t truly sure his Father was proud of him?  In an interview with Matt Lauer De Niro explained that he knew his father was proud of him even if his Dad never told him in those words. Eventually,  He discovered what his father had written in his private journal:  “Thank you, God, for Bobby’s turning out so well.”

It is so very important as Fathers that we tell our kids “I Love You” often.  Especially our boys need to hear it!  I have two girls and two boys and let me tell you they are definitely different!  With my girls the words I love you flow out of my mouth with almost no effort.  However, with my boys it’s a different story.  I still say the words but a lot of the times my delivery is lacking.  Since my boys fight CONSTANTLY I find myself yelling much more and losing my patience quicker with them.  By the end of the night when it’s time for bed my attitude needs adjusted and when the :”I Love you’s” come out of my mouth it sounds distorted because my jaw is locked tight from the tension they can cause me.  I am usually able to get a sincere and loving “I Love You” out it just takes effort.

The key is to say it!!  There is a great article on the National Center for Fathering entitled “the power of I Love You from Dad”.  It talks about all the benefits your children get from those words from YOU.  It even has suggestions and ways to practice saying “I Love You” for Fathers who need it.  Here is a link to the article…http://www.fathers.com/s12-championship-fathering/the-power-of-i-love-you-from-dad/

 

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Back Up The Talk

It’s important that we Dad’s learn to tell our kids how we feel.  However, we also need to back up those words with action.  Interaction and warmth between a Father and daughter will drastically shape her social skills throughout her life.  Boys want to know that they have what it takes to become a man someday and there’s nothing better than hearing that from your Dad.  There’s lots of ways you can spend time with your kids and build bonds.

In my family, most of us like playing board or card games.  It’s an opportunity for me to model fairness, honesty, and sportsmanship.  We play phase 10, Sequence, Skip Bo, Parcheesi,  You’ve Been Sentenced, and Apples to Apples to name a few.  It is a great way to interact with your kids and you get to watch and admire how they think, organize, and strategize.

I am a Christ follower so I also do devotions with my kids (although I must confess that I have been pretty laxed over the past 6 months).  There is a book I use that has relevant stories and related verses in the Bible along with questions we talk about and discuss.  It can get pretty off track sometimes but most of the time they get the point of it.  This is another great opportunity for me to help them along on their journey to discovering how this world works, how God is a part of it, and where they fit in all of this.  I will be posting an article about devotions with your kids in the near future so be looking for that if you’re interested.

If you’re not a Christ follower there are plenty other subjects and guides you can discuss with your kids.  It is a great way to open up communication and learn about them through these discussions.

Here is a fun video from the Skit Guys who I think are AWESOME!  This video  shows different ways a Father loves his kids.  (FYI…just click on the play arrow, you don’t pay to watch it) .https://skitguys.com/videos/item/fatherhood

Enjoy!

Steve

 

Should I Cook Dinner? Easy and Tasty Recipes for Dads (or anyone)

The Dilemma…

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You and the kids are home, it’s getting close to dinner time but your wife is not there, what do you do?  shortly after your realize what time of the day it is you get your first “what are we having for dinner?” question from one of your children.  You call your wife and she says she won’t be home for awhile and she hasn’t had the chance to prepare anything to eat!  before you realize it, your mouth opens up and you hear these words coming out…Should I cook dinner?

AAAAAH! What have you just said!!   There’s no turning back now!!  Help!!!!!

If you’re like me, you’ve felt that way a few times.  Your intentions are good but you have no idea what to make other than something out of a freezer or pasta with sauce.   Well,  lucky for you I have done some research and found some recipes that are not your stereotypical “Dad dinner”.  These taste good and are so easy to make even I could do it!  Give them a try and see what you think.  Leave a comment below to let me know how you make out with your meal.


The Solutions…

Crock Pot Sausage & Cheese Tortellini

This recipe is meant to cook for about 4 hours so you may need to plan ahead.  If it is last minute, you can cook it on the stove top but still may take awhile.

Ingredients:

1 LB of Italian Sausage                                                                                                           

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20 oz of frozen three cheese tortellini (there are also refrigerated tortellini you can use)

32 oz low sodium chicken broth

2 cans diced tomatoes (get the kind that are seasoned with basil, oregano, and garlic)

8 oz of cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese

Grated parmesan cheese 

Take your cream cheese out of the fridge and let it sit while you brown your sausage on the stove.  Add the browned sausage and tortellini to the crock pot.  Then pour the canned tomatoes (including the liquid in the can) and broth over the top.  Add the cream cheese to the pot in chunks.  Stir up everything you just added to the crock pot.  Mix it good so everything is pretty evenly dispersed and make sure the tortellini is cover in liquid.  

Cook on low for 3 /12 to 4 hours stirring every 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the lid on the crock pot the last 30 minutes to help the soup thicken up.

Taco Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Tortilla Chips (about 24 chips), plus additional for serving     beabetterfather.com
  • 1 Tbs Chili Oil (or olive oil and red pepper flakes)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Ground Chicken
  • 2 Tbs Taco Seasoning
  • 1 can Black Beans, drained
  • 1 cup Hot Salsa
  • 1 cup shredded Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • Optional: Other toppings such as jalapeno, olives, etc.

Heat oven to 350…add onions, garlic, and oil to pan and saute until soft. Add the meat and taco seasoning.  Cook for 5 minutes breaking up the meat into smaller pieces.  Add the beans and salsa and mix it in.  Cook for a few minutes to thicken up the salsa.

Line the bottom of a large baking dish with chips.  Push down on the tortilla chips to break them apart.  Spread the meat and bean mixture over the chips and top with cheese.  Add your other toppings if you so choose.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 

Honey Garlic Shrimp

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Ingredients

 

3 Tablespoons of Honey

1 Tablespoon of soy sauce

1 Teaspoon of fresh ginger (minced)

2-3 gloves of garlic minced                                                                                          

3/4 pound of uncooked shrimp peeled and deveined                                                  

1 Tablespoon of olive oil                                                                                                

Salt & Pepper to taste                                                                                                  

Cooked brown or white rice (about 2-3  cups)                                                              

Broccoli or other vegetable

Whisk honey, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce together in a medium bowl.  In another medium bowl add shrimp and olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Heat a pan over medium-high heat.  Place the shrimp in the pan evenly across.  Cook 1-2 minutes on one side then flip over and cook on other side for 1-2 minutes.  Flip the shrimp over again and cook for 1 more minute.  Pour in the honey garlic marinade until the shrimp is cooked through.  Be careful not to over cook the shrimp.  Serve the shrimp with sauce over brown rice with your veggies.

Enjoy!!!

You can leave a comment by clicking on this post’s title and it will take you to the article’s page where you can comment…

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be A Good Dad By Having fun

How do you get to be a good Dad?  Well one of the easiest ways is to plan a little fun.  That doesn’t mean you have to do anything extravagant, it can be simple.  The key is to make it fun.  One of the best ideas i’ve come up with for our family is pizza and movie night.  Sounds simple right?  It is!

Pizza Night…

On my way home from work on Fridays I stop at Sam’s club or a local pizza place and pick up a couple of pizzas. I also stop and rent a movie at RedBox.  My wife and I don’t let the kids drink sodas during the week

most of the time except for movie nights so that makes it even more exciting for them.   We use paper plates and take a picnic table cover and lay it on the floor in front of our TV.  I also get a big bag of chips for everyone too and we all sit down on the floor to eat pizza and chips, drink our sodas, and watch a movie.

We have been doing this for well over 10 years now and Our kids LOVE it!!  If we miss a Friday night they make sure we have it on Saturday.  Even on a few occassions my kids would even turn down sleepovers just so they wouldn’t miss pizza and movie night!

Just a simple idea like this has created a loving, fun, and happy memory for my kids that will last them a lifetime!  The greatest feeling I get from this is when I hear them talk about when they have their own families how they will have pizza and movie night too!  Awesome!!!

Gone Fishing…

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Another simple thing to do is go fishing.  Three of my kids like to fish.  They enjoy getting their poles out and heading to our local small pond.  They especially love it when their Dad is willing to tag along.  I am by no means a fisherman but I help them tie on weights, hooks, and bobbers.  Occasionally when they catch a fish it’s always nice to have me around to get the hook out.

Before we went on vacation this past year I bought my kids a tackle box with some supplies (cost me $10) they were thrilled with it and took it with us.  I have included a picture of my oldest son with his fish.

The point is that you don’t have to be an expert at whatever activity they like to do.  You just simply need to show them you support their efforts and spend time with them while they are engaging in their activities.

I have more suggestions for having fun with your kids on my tips and reviews page.  Check them out and see what ideas may fit your family.  You may even have a few ideas you would like to share.  There is a comment box for you to do just that.  Can’t wait to hear from you!

Happy Fathering,

Steve

Welcome to beabetterfather.com!

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Do you want to know how to be a better Father?  I created beabetterfahter.com to help men everywhere figure out how to be a good Dad. I always thought that one day I would have all the answers to the questions life would throw at me.  Well, Fatherhood is anything but knowing all the answers.  In fact, most of the time you may feel like you have no idea what you’re doing!  Trust me, EVERYONE feels that way at some point!

This website is a place where you can feel free to ask questions, make comments, or share information and wisdom about being a Dad.  I will have book recommendations, articles, and some videos to help support, instruct, and inspire the Father in you.

As you look around the website you can go to the Tips and Reviews tab to see ideas that you may want to try and reviews of products and activities for you and your family.

The Fatherly advice tab is for those who are looking for wisdom from others or willing to share their own wisdom.  This can be anything from how to keep your kids safe on the internet to how to keep your sanity as Father and leader of your family.

The Hurts and Hang-ups tab is for anyone who is looking for personal help and guidance in their own lives.  It is intended to give you options on how to find places for help, support, or someone to just talk with.

The Ultimate Father tab is about how Jesus can teach us to be better Fathers and husbands and to have a more fulfilling life on this earth through a relationship with him.

If you would like to know a little about me, you can go the the about me tab.

I sure do hope you find this website helpful.  Please feel free to comment on anything you review and leave your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations that may help other Fathers.  If you have any questions you can also email me at steve@beabetterfather.com

Steve