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Waking up in the morning to an alarm clock is not the most soothing way to get up in the morning- that annoying buzzing sound, that even more annoying pop song, that reminder that sleepy-time is over and it's time to face the day. Its not really what one would call the "nicest" way to start the day. Of course, there are worse ways to wake up, and in my case it's a voice calling out to me from the next room, saying (or is it screaming?): "Daddy... Get up!!! And that's not how anyone wants to get out of bed.

So what do parents do? Do you sleep through 3 hours of screaming, damaging your children's psyche's? Do you keep screaming out "5 more minutes," knowing your kids can't tell time yet and taking advantage of it? Do you lock the more adventurous child in their bedroom overnight only to listen to the turning of a doorknob, or banging, or kicking against the door every morning until you decide to finally get your ass out of bed and set your kid free? Do give in and get up at the ass-crack like millions of other parents around the world who just can't outplay, outlast, or outsmart a toddler? Or, do you sleep train your toddler?

I mean, how hard can it be? We all took Psych 101, right? Remember Pavlov's Dog; B.F. Skinner; Operant Conditioning? You know, the whole ring a bell and the dog salivates for food idea? No? Well we know you've heard of an alarm clock. And just like you use a alarm to get you OUT of bed in the morning (or did before you had kids), you can use something along the same lines- but considerably more gentle on the ears- to keep your children IN bed.

At our house, we use The Gro-Clock, upon the suggestion from one of my wife's friends. And it's been our saving grace. Our little girl gets to go to bed to a soft indigo blue light illuminating a happy star and she wakes up every morning to the bright light of an animated smiley-faced supernova (well, a picture of the Sun). You simply inform your child that they are not to get out of bed until the "Sun" comes out, set the time, and viola- you get a sleep in. The Gro-Clock (click for video) even comes with a nifty book to explain it in terms a child can understand and a clock option that allows them to count down the minutes until they get to scream bloody murder. It's brilliant. And, well frankly, if your kids are getting up every morning at 5, you need to get one.

In essence, my mornings went from "DADDY, GET UP!!!!" to "Daddy, the Sun's out. I love you." And who wouldn't welcome that?

With The Glo-Clock, mornings can be yours again. Serenity now.

Video - Morning Has Broken- Cat Stevens (1972)

Website: The Gro Company
Price: $40 - 50 (Canadian)


If you’re an older dad like me, or just someone who thinks that brains are some times better than brawn, we’ve got the winter snow shovel for you. Imagine an ergonomically designed mini snow plow with teeter totter action attached to a giant wheel; a shovel that saves you both time and energy while giving your back a break at the same time. That’s the Sno Wovel, and it’s simply the best snow shovel around. But, don’t take our word for it, check out their website, watch the video, and you tell us if you haven’t seen a more ingenious idea when it comes to do-it-yourself snow removal. Why pay the neighbor’s kid, or an expensive plow guy (who you might only need once or twice), to push the snow off your driveway, when you can do it yourself with minimal effort and expense? Why risk a coronary in the winter cold when you can be clearing your walkway in minutes with the Sno Wovel.  Check it out. We did, and we’ve been enjoying the time and money we’ve saved ever since.


Instructional Video

TLC. How Stuff Works.Com

Heartland America.Com

Dimensions: 26" x 4" x 68"

Cost: $155.00 (USD) + tax. Includes main unit and wear strip accessory.


What has Cool Dad written all over it: an insulated Star Wars™ R2D2 Novelty Lunch Bag …with Sound?!? Imagine sending your kid to preschool with this awesome bag that lights up…or better yet, pulling it out at YOUR next business meeting. It’s cool, it’s retro, it’s space-aged technology that keeps the hot stuff hot and the cool stuff cool (and this is so cool).

It’s R2D2- the lunch bag!!! It’s durable, easy to clean, and it comes with a nifty handle. And did I mention it lights up? Just unzip the top, pop in your (the kid’s) lunch, zip it back up and away you go. It’s lightweight, PVC free, and IT LIGHTS UP!!!

You got to get yourself, err…your kid, one of these. I know I’m running out to get one.

Price: $14.99 (U.S.)

Dimensions:  5¾" W x 5½" D x 11¼" H

Available from: ShopThermos.Com