Sunday, May 24, 2009

Can Babies Swim ?

[caption id="attachment_65" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="baby Jaiden is not sure about getting into that cold pool water"]baby jaiden is not sure about getting into the pool water[/caption]

Jaiden is 9 months old today. Yesterday she had one of her first visits to the "big kids" pool. It was just daddy with both Jaiden and Jasmine, so I was a little limited in what we could do (I only have one set of eyes). Jaiden spent most of her time sitting on the edge of the pool, alternating between kicking her feet in the water, and reaching down to splash with her hands. I also lowered her down into the water a couple of times; holding onto my hands; but I never let her go under. She seemed to like it, but did get a little scared the first time her feet weren't touching anything.

I can't remember exactly how old my other kids were when they learned to swim ... but I'm pretty sure it wasn't this young. I know that Johnathan and Jasmine with be taking swimming lessons this summer. It got me thinking; wondering, what are some of the best ways to teach a relatively young baby to swim?

Being a "fearless" dad, my first inclination is to just stand in the pool with her, let her go, and see what she does.

The main downside I see to this method is that if going under water scares her too badly, she might not want to go near the pool again any time soon. The upside though, is that if I teach her to swim this way, if she ever falls into a pool when no one is around, she'll hopefully have the confidence that she can make it to the edge by herself.

I do remember with my other girls, one of things that made swimming easier is when they learned to float on their backs. As soon as they realized they could stop any time and float, they swam like fish.

Floating is probably where we'll start.

I was reading a few posts on this forum:

It looks like my main concern is trying not to let her go under too much until she learns to hold her breath.

Maybe we'll get the chance to try a little bit tomorrow.

I'll let you know what we learn.


p.s. and of course more posts on swimming will give me more chances to post pictures of Jaiden in her little swim suit ;-)

The Race | DH Groberg

“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!”
They shout at me and plead.
“There’s just too much against you now;
This time you can’t succeed!”

And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure’s face,
My downward fall is broken
by The memory of a race

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene;
For just the thought of that short race
Rejuventates my being.

A children’s race- young boy, young men,
How I remember well.
Excitement, sure! But also fear;
It wasn’t hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope
Each thought to win that race.
Or tie for first, or if not that,
At least take second place.

And fathers watched from off the side
Each cheering for his son.
And each boy hoped to show his dad
That he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire.
To win and be the hero there
Was each young boy’s desire

And one boy in particular
Whose dad was in the crowd
Was running near the lead and thought:
“My dad will be so proud!”

But as he speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped

Trying hard to catch himself
“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!”
They shout at me and plead.
“There’s just too much against you now;
This time you can’t succeed!”

So down he fell and with him hope -
He couldn’t win now-
Embarrassed, sad he only wished
To disappear somehow…

But as he fell his dad stood up
And showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said:
“Get up and win the race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done -
Behind a bit, that’s all-
And ran with all his mind and might
To make up for his fall

So anxious to restore himself -
To catch up and to win-
His mind went faster than his legs;
He slipped and fell again!

He wished then he had quit before
With only one disgrace
“I’m hopeless as a runner now;
I shouldn’t try to race.”

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his father’s face;
That steady look which said again:
“Get up and win the race!”

So he jumped up to try again -
Ten yards behind the last-
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought,
“I’ve got to move real fast.”

Exerting everything he had
He gained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again!

Defeat! He lied there silently -
A tear dropped from his eye-
“There’s no sense in running anymore:
Three strikes: I’m out! Why try?”

The will to rise had disappeared;
All hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error-prone:
A loser all the way.

“I’ve lost, so what’s the use,” he thought
“I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad
Who soon he’d have to face.

“Get up,” an echo sounded low.
“Get up and take your place;
You were not meant for failure here.
Get up and win the race.”

“With borrowed will get up,” it said,
You haven’t lost at all.
For winning is no more than this:
To rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to run once more,
And with new commit
He resolved that win or lose
At least he wouldn’t quit/

So far behind the others now, -
The most he’d ever been-
Still he gave it all he had
And ran as though to win

Three times he’d fallen, stumbling;
Three times he rose again:
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed the line first place.
Head high, and proud, and happy;
No falling, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer,
For finishing the race.

And even though he came in last
With head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he’d won the race
To listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said,
“I didn’t do too well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said.
“You rose each time you fell.”

And when things seem dark and hard
And difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy
Helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race.
With ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win,
Is rise each time you fall.

“Quit! Give up, you’re beaten!”
They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says:

DH Groberg

Always one of my favorite inspirational poems. I hadn't re-read it for a while, so thought I'd post it here in case any of you are in the same boat.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weather Balloon Launch

For those who have never seen the launch of a tactical weather balloon ...

tactical weather balloon launch

I took this image the other day when we were out on one of the West Fort Hood ranges for a field training exercise. Actually it's not just one picture, but a series of 5. I set my camera's drive to "continuous shooting", and popped off these 5 shots in just over a second, as the Marwin weather balloon raced towards the sky.

Once I got home and started processing the images in photoshop, I just made each picture in the series it's own layer (with the last shot as the background). After that, it was just a case of adjusting the layer's opacity, and making liberal use of the eraser brush, until I got the "time lapse" type of effect that I was looking for.

Launching balloons was just one of a list of tasks that our Air Force weather forecasters were recertifying their skill level on, during this one day field exercise. If you look in the picture, you can see a little white box dangling below the balloon. This is called a radiosonde. As the balloon rises through the atmosphere, the instruments in the sonde constantly capture and send back data about winds, temperature, humidity and pressure. We then plot this data on a skew-t diagram, which gives us a visual and numerical representation of the atmosphere ... which we then use (along with other tools, such as computer models) to help build our forecasts.

Relating this back to the "real" world ...

If you ever hear your local tv weather man talk about things like "atmospheric stability", or how we probably won't get thunderstorms today because the "mid level cap" is too strong, this is information that was obtained through the launch of a weather balloon.

There you go, now you know. ;-)


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Are You Over Using NoFollow?

Is it possible for a blogger to over-use the rel=nofollow tag in their content?

no follow

For well over a year now, all the rage among some bloggers/internet marketers has been to seek out and leave comments on "dofollow" blogs, as a way to build back links and gain favor with Google.

Ironically, when you visit many of these commentators, not only is the comment section on their own blog not dofollow, but in some cases like 98% of external links in the content are also tagged with rel=nofollow.

I've been playing poker for a couple of years now, and they have a unique term for certain players ... they are called "donks". A donk is usually someone who has read a few books, and gained just enough knowledge to be dangerous; yet act as if they are already an expert ... aren't at all shy about offering "advice" to other players ... all the while still making obvious beginner type mistakes.

No disrespect intended, but this is usually the first thought that pops into my head when I click over to a blog, and see in-post editorial type links slapped with rel=nofollow.

If a you find the content of another page valuable enough to link to from within a post, the link should be followed.

Don't be a donk.

Oh, and if you're one of these people who is worried that you might be "leaking your google juice", how do you explain PR7 political blogs such as The Daily Dish that link out 2 or 3 times in each post ... in addition to the almost 100 followed blog roll links over in the sidebar?

Or check out this more in-depth discussion on the roll of outbound links over on SEO Zombie

Sorry, didn't mean to get off on a rant ... but it's not out of the question that upon consideration, some people might even find this post to be a valuable tip ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We Adopted A Bunny Killer

It was a bad day for our backyard rabbit family to reveal themselves.


While I was at work today, Ana went to the Ft. Hood animal shelter and adopted Pete. The white dog in the picture above. It was a good day for Pete, and our family was happy to have a new addition.

Unfortunately, the family of rabbits who apparently live in our back yard have incredibly bad timing. Our chihuahua never even goes outside. But Pete had lived with us for all of about 2 hours, and only in the back yard for the second time, when about 4 or 5 very young little bunny rabbits decided to venture out of their hole, and hop across the yard.

Ana was standing at the sliding glass door at the time. I heard her say, "oh, how cute, little bunnies" ... quickly followed by "ut oh, the dog caught one".

By the time I got outside and was able to coerce the dog into dropping the rabbit, he was off to bunny heaven.

We put the dog inside, but over the next 30 minutes, two more rabbits hopped back into the yard.

baby_bunny.jpg One of the baby rabbits up on our porch.

I caught them and relocated them to the woods behind our house. Honestly, I don't hold out much hope that they won't end up as snake or hawk food (as I said, they were really young). But at least these ones won't die in my back yard.

As for Pete, I really don't think he had malicious intent ... he was just playing with it.

This was my first blog post about our local Texas wildlife. Hopefully the next one will have a little happier ending.


p.s. the picture at the top might be a good candidate for a caption contest ... what do you think?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How To Store Your Lawn Mower

Electric rotary lawn mower with rear grass cat...
Image via Wikipedia
Ok, so it's Saturday, and apparently the grass grows pretty quickly here in Texas. So, earlier this afternoon, I decided it was time to mow the lawn.

I went outside to one of our storage closets and took the lawn mower out. As I was pulling it down, I noticed a little bit of liquid on the ground, but didn't really think twice about it.

... until I tried to start the lawn mower, and my arm almost came off when the cord got stuck after about 2 inches!

That engine was not moving at all; totally seized up. So it was hardly a surprise when I opened up the oil reservoir to find it dry as a bone. I immediately filled it up with oil, and spent about the next 45 minutes helplessly pulling on a cord that wouldn't budge. Then I gave up.

Later on this evening, I was actually just about to head down to the store to buy a new lawn mower, when I decided to give it one more try. I guess it just took a couple of hours for the oil to work it's way through, because the mower started up ... lol, and let off some pretty foul smelling smoke.

Ok, so what's the lesson I learned from all of this? ... and how does it relate to the title of this post?

If you ever get the bright idea to store your lawn mower standing up vertically on two wheels, because that's the only way it will fit in the storage closet you want to put it in ... don't do it !

Lawn mowers should be stored horizontally on all 4 wheels.

lol, and that concludes today's public service announcement from your friendly neighborhood 40 year old dummy ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

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Ana's New Candle Business Cards

A couple of weeks ago, we got a great lesson in networking from a lady that Ana met while our kids were playing in the ball pit at McDonalds. They had talked for almost an hour, and the lady was nice enough to have given Ana some advice on schools and good neighborhoods to live. When it was time to leave, she simply said

"let's keep in touch, here's my card".

It turns out that she's a Mary Kay consultant ... it said so on her card.

When we got in the car, I pointed out the Ana (who is new, and therefore a bit "cautious", when it come to promoting our business) that we had just witness some very good "soft" networking. Her new friend didn't try to sell her anything ... heck, they didn't even talk about makeup. But, now if Ana does ever have the desire to purchase some Mary Kay makeup, you'd better believe that business card in her wallet is the first place she'll look.

Because of this lesson, we decided that it would be a good idea to get Ana some new business cards. Ana is much more personable than I am. Everywhere we go, she's having conversations and making new friends. Now, when it's time to go, instead of wondering whether we'll ever run into these people again, she's got a couple of candle business cards in her purse, and simply hands one over and says "let's keep in touch".

The cards look pretty cool. They have an attractive design, and all of her contact information. You can see what they look like here:

candle business cards

We bought a box with 500 cards in it. I'm really looking forward to having the need to re-order very soon :-)

Keep havin FuN!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

3 Reasons Why Failure Is Good

"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
--Winston Churchill

Most adults go through life with an almost constant Fear of Failure. Which is kind of ironic actually, since learning how to fail is almost a Requirement for eventually becoming Successful.

see the light

How often have any of us experienced set-backs which at the time, seem like the end of the world, but in actuality are often the stepping stones to the things we really want?

Here are 3 reasons why failure can actually be a good thing ...


I know, I know, that sounds totally counterintuitive. But think about it, when you're trying something for the 3rd, 4th or even 100th time, "I intend to succeed This Time" can actually be a pretty strong motivator.


Let's face it, we all have times where our heads get a little to big for our own good. A small failure here and there can serve as a very useful breaking mechanism to bring us back down to earth.

It's the best way to Learn

When you were a little kid, how did you learn to walk? Did you just climb out of your crib one day and stroll across the bedroom floor? If so, I'm very impressed. But most of us learned to walk by falling flat on our faces ... numerous times. We pulled ourselves up, took a step, and fell right down. But, since we were babies and didn't know any better, we just got right back up and tried again; until we could take two steps, then three, then ten ... with many falls in between.

As adults, it's very easy to forget the lessons of our childhood. Too often we view our "falls" as setbacks, rather the absolutely necessary steps on the road to success that they are.

Have you failed today?

If so, Congratulations!

Keep havin FuN!

p.s. this is another one of my favorite "Success with Todd" posts ... one of many that will soon be residing on this blog instead. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Essential WordPress Plugins

Image by alohateam via Flickr

When I decided to start over with a brand new blog, one of my goals was to streamline the amount and type of wordpress plugins that I have installed and activated on my site. Just like with wordpress themes, there are so many cool plugins out there (with more coming out every day), that's it's tempting to use hundreds of them.

But, there is that old statement about Too Much of a Good Thing.

So, I decided to cut down to just the essential plugins that I felt I had to keep. Fortunately, since Justin Tadlock's hybrid theme includes quite a bit of built in functionality, I was even able to cut out a few that I previously considered must-haves.

So with out further ado, here are a few plugins that I just couldn't live without ...

  • CommentLuv - I’ve been using some version of this plugin since it first came out. When someone leaves a comment, it adds a link to their latest blog post. Not only is this a good way to “reward” people who take the time to join the conversation; but as a publisher it allows me to quickly spot interesting articles written by my readers.

  • Rob Marsh - I'm just going to link straight to this guy's plugin page, since I've installed 4 of his little creations. I've installed popular posts, similiar posts, random posts, and recent posts. Since this blog is still so new, and needs more content, right now I've only activated the recent posts. However I had used similar posts on my other blogs. What I really like is how easily configurable all of these plugins are.

  • Ping Optimizer - I don't know about you, but I've always had this habit of saving and previewing my posts multiple times as I'm writing them. What I didn't realize, is every time I updated the post draft, I was sending pings to every service on my list ... I was an unknowing spammer. This plugin ensures that services are Only pinged when a post is actually published or updated.

  • Google Reader Shared Items - Everybody enjoys a good "link luv" post. I personally always have good intentions, but don't end up writing them nearly as often as I'd like. This plugin is about as close as I've found to a perfect lazy blogger sharing tool. When I read an interesting article in my google reader, I simply click the "share" button at the bottom, and shortly thereafter it shows up here on this blog in the sidebar.

  • Short URL - If you have a nice short domain like, doesn't it seem like a waste to use a service like tiny url when you post a link on site like twitter? This plugin makes it easy to build (and monitor stats for) short urls on your own domain.

  • Twitter for Wordpress - There are definitely Twitter plugins out there with more functions, but all I wanted to do is display my latest tweets in my sidebar. And for that task, this plugin is simple, and it works. That's enough for me.

  • Ninja Affiliate Disclosure: I paid for this plugin, and the link to the left is an affiliate link. I don't know about you, but over the years I've joined quite a few affiliate programs. My problem is, even since I started using gmail labels, I still have a heck of a time keeping track of all the programs. Now all I do when I join a program, is drop the link into my ninja affiliate dashboard, and create a custom link on my domain. Now any time I want to insert a link, I've got a dropdown menu right on my post edit screen.

Obviously I use several addtional plugins, but most of them are fairly well known and widely used.

A couple of plugins that I used to use and really like, but didn't install here at ...

Well, that's about what I've got for now. What are some of the wordpress plugins that you just have to have on all your blogs?


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Friday, May 1, 2009

Time To Stop Spending Money Start Earning Income

I never realized how many "tools" I would need (or at least think I need) to be an effective Internet Marketer.

I've been blogging for a couple of years now; and have had a profitable part-time candle business for even longer. But last year I decided to learn a bit more about niche Internet marketing. Fortunately, Ive had a bit of success building stores that promote the ebay partner network. Since last fall, I've had 3 figure deposits to my paypal account every month. And almost every penny has gone back out ...

patient With an easy to access source of "extra money" sitting there in the pay pal account, I've felt free to build my toolbox. I've purchased quite a few ebooks, joined a couple of membership sites, gained access to a ton of PLR content, and picked up some very useful marketing and promotion software/plugins.

Well, today I've made a decision that I have enough ... for now. For at least the immediate future, I won't be purchasing any more ebooks or software tools. And that ebay money I get every month will be re-purposed towards advertising for my candle business.

In short, it's time (if I'm honest, probably past time) to take my new found knowledge, skills and tools, and start focusing on using them to build my long-term income streams.

  • I'll be spending more time on keyword research, using Market Samurai

  • Applying more of the on and off page SEO tips that I've learned.

  • Writing and submitting articles, both as a way to get backlinks, and to help increase my brand recognition.

I'll report back from time to time to let you know what kind of progress I'm making.

So, if you're an Internet marketer (or wannabe IMer), what stage are you at in your evolution?

Are you still in the buying and learning stage?

Or, have you started to apply what you've learned and begun to reap the benefits?

I look forward to your thoughts,