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Of Being Dad

Nothing makes you feel so bad as making your child cry. Today I lost my temper with my sweet daughter. I brought her to tears and I escalated the incident far beyond reasonable. Ugh. None of it was reasonable. She had a bad interaction with her younger brother and my parental response was effectively to treat her the same (no worse) than she’d treated her brother while telling her not to act like me. Dad fail in a major way and the hollowness in my chest aches.

So, can it get worse? When I get to the office, I open Skype to see that just minutes before our altercation, she’d sent me a message: "I LOVE U" (the LOVE was a picture of a heart) I’m a cad.

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Why does Apple make this so confusing?


  • Get beyond setup so the children can play on their iPods.
  • Sync their iPods through a shared Macbook Air without compromising my wife’s iPhone and iPad settings.
  • Allow the children to Facetime and iMessage their friends without compromising my wife’s contacts and without using her account.


We have one Macbook Air in the house. My wife syncs her iPhone with iTunes on this Macbook Air. For Christmas, the 7 year old and 10 year old received iPods. Yes, I understand DRM. Rovio Entertainment would much prefer I buy Angry Birds 3 times instead of one. I have no problem with that although I do feel like the model for DRM for music fails when compared to the physical world of records and CDs.

Possible solutions

As best I can tell, there are four ways to manage multiple devices with iTunes.

  1. Individual User Accounts
  2. Multiple iTunes Libraries
  3. Management Screen
  4. Playlists

Each of these has their respective pros and cons.

Individual User Accounts

Since each user account is its own space, that means each user has their own iTunes library and sync settings for their iOS device. Easy to understand, (relatively) easy to set up, and easy to maintain–it’s a good approach!

[Source,, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

The problem with this approach is Apple doesn’t allow children under 13 to have an AppleID. So you are faced with lying and apparently Apple permanently associates the age first entered with the email address. Sharing of apps and music is difficult or impossible (DRM…and I’m okay with that).

Multiple iTunes Libraries

With this method, each person who uses the computer has their own iTunes library and sync settings. This way, you won’t get music, apps, or movies mixed across iTunes libraries (unless you want to) and won’t end up with someone else’s content on your iPod by mistake.

The downsides of this approach are that parental controls on content apply to all iTunes libraries (with user accounts, they’re different for each account) and that each user’s space is not as cleanly separate. Still, this is a good option that’s easy to set up.

[Source,, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

Although promising, this approach seems burdensome and ripe for making errors since iTunes launches the last used library by default.

Management Screen

With this approach, you choose what content from each of the tabs in the management screen you want on your device. Other people using the computer do the same thing.

The downsides of this technique include that it only allows one setting for parental control of content and it can be imprecise (for instance, you might only want some music from an artist, but if someone else adds more of that artist’s music, it could end up on your iPod).

So, even though it’s messy, this is a very easy way to manage multiple iPods.

[Source,, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

I believe this is how my wife has been managing multiple devices in the past. It does allow for sharing of certain apps and music but if a child starts syncing with a different iTunes library, your personal device will start prompting you for their password in addition to yours in certain circumstances. I am also not sure that this approach will allow the children to use Facetime, iCloud, and iMessage the way we want. Instead the 5GB of space on iCloud may end up being shared between all the devices while the iMessages intended only for my wife (nudge nudge) could inadvertently be seen by the children.


Downsides of this approach include that everything each person adds to the iTunes library is mixed together, the same content restrictions for all users, and the possibility that your playlist could be accidentally deleted and you’d have to re-create it.

[Source,, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

I am afraid this will also have the problem noted above with Facetime, iCloud, and iMessage.


Apple has made this unnecessarily confusing. It’s as if Apple is adult techie centric and in no way thinking about the way a family might use their devices. For instance, the iPad does not support multiple logins or even a level of control that would allow your child to safely use the device. Cathy is constantly having to rename folders and put applications back in the correct spot because she cannot hand the iPod to the child in a locked down mode. A simple second password with attached restrictions such as "cannot view certain applications" or "cannot rename folders." With such an approach Apple could allow unlimited screen lock passwords that would allow settings for the adult, the teen, the child, or even the toddler (and yes, toddlers use iPads).

So, how do you manage multiple iDevices in your house? And with children under 13?

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Yesterday we took Evan rock climbing at The Climbing Center in Knoxville. He is a natural! Once attached to the rope, he shot up the 40 foot walls without fear. Understanding that his next handhold could be discovered by straightening a bent leg seemed intuitive to him. Noah made it up the wall twice before feigning to hunger. Cathy only had her hand sucked into the ATC (brake) once. My supple skin only lost a few layers of epidermis due to belaying. We had a blast!

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Evening goal – relax

I really wanted to have a nice relaxing Saturday night to clear my head and find some extra happiness. Oh, of mice and men! Slow FTP. What could I do? Naturally, run to the steamed broccoli drive-thru. While at the local Chinese buffet, struggling to understand what the staff was trying to say, my phone buzzed with a panicked child, "The bathroom is flooding! Come right away!" I reply, "but I’m not at home." The ten year old quandaries, "where are you?" My head explodes, picturing a naive child talking on the phone, a wife unknowingly cleaning in the basement, while rivers flow through my home. All was well. The flood was bad. But our saving grace, were the tampons for they absorbed it well.

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Weekend Project – Little Miss Playhouse update

My daughter received a pile of building materials for her 8th birthday with my words, "I can build this in a weekend." A year and 3 months later, we are nearing completion. The plans came from

The project has been captured in timelapse videos posted on Qik and Flickr (front only).

What is left to do? This weekend is all about installing the flooring. Right now the western red cedar is drying from a sanding sealer. The quantity of debate which went into deciding on the flooring material was insane. We finally settled on 240 linear feet of western red cedar.

Cedar-Western Red Cedar: Another wood porch flooring material is cedar. It is noted for it’s beauty and durability. Colors range from mellow ambers, to reddish and sienna browns. Red cedar is naturally resistant to decay and insects due to inherent oils.

You need not treat red cedar unless it is in contact with the ground. It has less than half the swelling characteristics of other softwoods and tends to lie flat and stay straight. If maintained properly red cedar can last for many years and is ideal for porches in all exposures.

Cedar comes in four different varieties for flooring: Architect Clear for the discriminating porch floor enthusiast to Custom Knotty which is less expensive.

[Source, Front Porch Ideas and More, Wood Porch Flooring]

Next we will size and tongue and groove the planks. Then a vapor barrier will be installed followed by nailing the wood to the sub-floor. Some quarter inch molding will be installed to cover the expansion gap. The front door will be resized to accommodate the height of the flooring. The front door will be installed. The three vent windows will be built and installed. And finally the trim work will be touched up.

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Saturday Building Projects for Children

We participate in Home Depot’s Kid’s Workshops on the first Saturday of each month.

Kids Workshop is an award-winning program that has been offered at The Home Depot stores since 1997. The workshops are free, how-to clinics designed for children ages 5-12, available on the first Saturday of each month between 9 a.m. and noon at all The Home Depot stores. Children, accompanied by an adult, use their skills to create objects that can be used in and around their homes or communities. …

  • Since 1997, 17.5 million projects have been built at Kids Workshops
  • More than 1 million children built their first toolbox at The Home Depot.
  • More than 845,000 birdhouses have been constructed at Kids Workshops.
  • 75 children per store attend a Kids Workshop on average while many stores have 200 kids attend regularly.

[Source, Home Depot Corporate, Kids Workshop]

See also: Home Improver Club, Home Depot Blog, and Corporate Statement.

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Too tired? Too busy? Muster the energy and time. Read a book to your child.

Take a moment and read this story in The New York Times. In short, a doctor tells of a 74 year old patient who couldn’t get his medicines correct.

Mr. M was a typical new patient: 74, with diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol. He had some prostate enlargement and back pain. His bag of pill bottles was depressingly bulky. I spilled the bottles out at our first visit, sorting them by disease. … Mr. M didn’t remember the names of all the medicines … Mr. M was clearly still confused about his medicines…

[Source, NYT, A Problem in Following Doctor’s Orders by DANIELLE OFRI, M.D.]

In the end, we learn that Mr. M is illiterate, unable to read either Spanish or English. The story would be similar to many other stories of illiteracy leaving us emphatic, but emotionally disconnected, had it not been for the last paragraph.

My kindergarten-age daughter is just beginning to read, and she is taken aback with delirious joy each time a few random letters suddenly form a word that matches real life. It’s a painstaking process for her, but as I watch her I think about how this skill has powerful ramifications for her health and longevity. It’s a gift, really, one that I’d long to transfer to Mr. M if I could.

[Source, NYT, A Problem in Following Doctor’s Orders by DANIELLE OFRI, M.D.]

I know that joy! My son has become quite the avid reader. He no longer wants to be the listener; he wants to be the one who reads aloud. And I too wish I could give that gift to Mr. M.

Remember, they are never too old to participate in reading with you; whether you are the listener or the reader, make time to sit with your child and a book.