Dads in the Limelight ( #limelightdads ) – Lukasz Laniecki ( @LukaszLaniecki ) #DadSpotlight

Dads in the Limelight Series

Our 532nd Dad in the Limelight is Lukasz Laniecki. I want to thank Lukasz for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.


Lukasz-Laniecki1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)

In one short sentence “A former litigation lawyer turned parenting blogger, negotiator and mediator.” In more detail, a guy whose messy relationship with his parents (adoptive parents) resulted in a lawsuit. Yes, I sued my adoptive mother, but guess what, we turned out fine and I feel that it was an experience that enriched us both (on a deeper level – not in a monetary sense). And it has led to my grand awakening as a parent. I’m so grateful for this.


But immediately I want to make it clear – I’m not advocating suing your parents. This should always be treated as the last resort. You should also know that we were ultra-lucky that we managed to get out of this mess – I’ve seen the nasty dynamic of a court case a lot in my professional career as a lawyer (friend or family – it doesn’t matter anymore).


Even a short version of this single story would be too long for this post so I have to leave it at that, and maybe some of you puzzled.

2) Tell me about your family

It’s my wife Anna, our son Richard (still 7 now), me and our dog Winter.

But, we’re not in a vacuum and we’re not solely flesh and bones. And as far as I’m concerned no family is.

We’re still grossly influenced by the parenting styles and behaviors of our parents (just as they were influenced by their parents and so on). So any family is a collective output. We need to be aware of that.

We can undertake to write a completely new chapter with the family we set up, but we are always biased and we need to deal with those biases (things we soaked up when we lived with our parents for so many years).

3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

For me it is being in sync with the co-parent.

I can’t tell you how many times the problem was (and still is) not our son’s behavior – something what we need to tackle, but the lack of sync on our (parents’) side. Being on the same page as to many issues we face day in and day out parenting.

Each parent has own methods (even if just a tiny bit different), own vision, own strategy, own tactics, to the greatest extent absorbed as a kid.


And children are smart and use it for their advantage. Mom said NO, so I’ll check what Dad’s opinion is. No sync and the child gains advantage.

I like to say that a teacher in school or in kindergarten has a much easier task as far as consistency is concerned. And parents are doomed to struggle a lot with consistency, what makes parenting much more difficult than schooling.


4) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Don’t be afraid to apologize to your kid and always offer a heartfelt apology.
I cannot recall a single time when my father or my mother offered me an apology, let alone a heartfelt one.


Believe it or not, but this is one of the few things I’ll probably never forget. I’m 37 years old right now and it still bothers me. It’s not that I feed myself with this grievance – I’d actually prefer to get over it, but because it has to do with instances of injustice (as I saw them) and because they happened a lot, I simply cannot get it out of my head.


Recently I watched a TED Talk by Risa Pierson, in which she made a following comment about offering apologies to children:

“Tell a kid you’re sorry, they’re in shock.”
This statement by a teacher with 40+ years of experience with kids allows me view my parents’ inability to offer me apology as something normal among parents.

Have there been instances when a heartfelt apology would have meant a world of difference to me? Of course.


Would I have grown up to be a more confident adult, had I been offered an apology when it was due? I have no doubt about it.


Admitting to being wrong or to doing wrong is not an easy thing to do. And adults somehow think they can get away with it when dealing with children.
Children have little power, they won’t argue, often they can’t argue because they can’t express themselves as well as an adult can. Furthermore it arouses the issue of power loss, which makes it even more difficult for a parent to offer an apology to a kid. As a result, some parents can’t even imagine that they could offer apologies to their children.

I’m grateful that at some point in my life I took interest in alternative dispute resolution and negotiation which helped me understand the importance of true, heartfelt apology in interactions with people. It is still something I’m learning because this isn’t an easy thing to master. For an apology to be effective it is not enough to just say “I’m sorry.”(you may want to read more about an effective apology in this article).


5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? 

I don’t think this is something you necessarily must balance. Or I should say, at least I don’t understand the concept of “balancing” the two.

You are a parent 24/7, 365 days a year. There is no magic switch. Never once in my 7+ years as a (very engaged) father did I get the feeling that I need time off from my son or that I need to “recharge” or anything of that nature. It’s the same with your job – those for whom their work is a mere necessity or drudgery need to balance, those who live their passion at work don’t understand the concept of “balancing”.

My dos and don’ts.

I don’t make promises to my son which I know can be hard to keep. I prioritize and always remind myself that for example my son’s first day in school is a once-in-a-lifetime event and my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join. This allows me to say NO to many things that only “pretend” to be a high priority on my list. In fact the majority of them are not that important. Sadly many fathers get fooled that way – they soon find out (when it’s already too late) that this super important meeting wouldn’t make or break their career or company. Or if it really was that important, it could have been rescheduled.

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

The father that I have interacted the most with was of course my father. And knowing that he could have been a much, much better role model for me I also learned something. Not from him directly, but from my interaction with him. I learned that we all have a choice as parents (fathers). We can either blame the circumstances and offer multiple excuses as to why we are poor at parenting (which is equal to doing nothing about it) or we can become self-aware parents, stop blaming the circumstances, forget the excuses and strive to become world class parents (the choice). My dad was pleased with offering excuses all his life and had other people (my mom, for example) who would offer excuses for him.


Don’t let that happen to you. Make the choice.


7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

This one will be short. Striving to be a world class father doesn’t mean you are not allowed to make mistakes. We all make them. It’s inevitable. So make them, but also own them. Your child needs to learn how repair the damage and apologize. You can model it – what you do after you’d mishandled a situation matters a lot. This links to the advice I gave you earlier (Q#4).

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

My son’s birth and the first week of his life. For the first 4 days he needed to stay in the incubator and we also had a tough call as to whether we will allow a blood transfusion. As if this was not enough, my parents turned their backs on me and I had no support from them whatsoever. I couldn’t believe it was happening but sadly it was.


Another most memorable experience happened when my mom and I escaped the dynamic of a court case and ended the court battle and my son (3 at that time) could meet his second grandmother for the first time in his life. Suddenly our family was bigger. From the very first moment they met they adore each other.


If you have any questions for Lukasz, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!

Dad of Divas,

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5 Tips For International Travel With Kids


A week ago we decided to go on a mini-vacation to Niagara Falls, Ontario on the way to the memorial for my Grandmother in Silver Creek, New York. We were excited to be able to have the kids experience the magic and natural wonder that is Niagara Falls and because this was international travel with kids we knew that we had to do our research to do things right. That being said, I cannot say that we did things completely right, but we tried, and I wanted to take a moment to share the top five things that we learned in about international travel with kids.


  • Research Documentation Requirements
    When you choose international travel with kids, look to see what is required in regards to documentation for kids and for you. For many countries, you will have to get a passport. The nice thing about this is that if you get this they will last for a few years, so it is a one time expense. If you are traveling through Canada the rules are a bit more relaxed. For example, we decided not to pay to get new passports for our kids this summer (their passports expired in March) because kids can travel in Canada with their birth certificate if they do not have a passport.
  • Check on the current Exchange Rates
    Make sure to look at the current exchange rates before international travel with kids. Realize that businesses in other countries may not be required to honor the exchange rate at the same rate as many will charge a transaction fee because of having to take the money somewhere to have it exchanged back. We had this happen to us numerous times and we found that the consistency between businesses was non-existent. If you want to pay in your own currency you need to ask what their going rate is for this. You may even want to think about purchasing currency before you go, especially if your trip is an extended one.
  • Look at the Weather Conditions
    Whether the destination that you may be going may be close or far, it is important to look ahead of time to bring the clothes that you will need for international travel with kids. We thought that we had done this, but unfortunately we came to find that our clothes were a bit inadequate for how cold it ended up being (colder than originally expected and rainier than expected).
  • Explore Public Transportation Options
    At Niagara Falls parking is very expensive by the falls, but if you get a WEGO pass you can really save a ton of money and get anywhere you need to go around the downtown falls area. That being said, when you are looking to travel internationally, especially if you will be near a major city, look for public transportation options as you may be very surprised by how inexpensive this may be, especially in regards to international travel with kids!
  • Pack Everything You Need to Capture Your Memories
    I am a photographer by nature so I always pack my Samsung NX 1 with me, but I also do not want to forget to think about the video camera, extra SD cards, battery chargers, external flash or any other filters or other camera equipment that I might need to capture the experiences with my family. So think ahead and bring what you need depending on the type of person you are and the type of experiences you and planning to try to have on your trip.


These are just some of my take-away international travel with kids tips from our trip to Niagara Falls Ontario. I hope that they have helped you.


Do you do international travel with kids? What are your tips that you would share with others?


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DVD Review – Mom’s Day Away

Mom's Day Away
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About the Movie
Stay-at-home mom Laura Miller (Bonnie Somerville) chose family life over a glamorous career. Her husband Michael (James Tupper), a workaholic realtor, eternally conducts business on his cell phone while her 17-year-old son (Iain Belcher) and 12-year-old daughter (Kaitlyn Bernard) are absorbed in their young life dramas. It’s Mother’s Day weekend and still nobody is paying attention to Laura’s needs. Excitement is injected into Laura’s life when her dazzling and affluent BFF Trish (Ona Grauer) shows up and whisks her off on an adventure-filled trip to a lavish resort.

Over this Mother’s Day weekend, Laura has an awakening, making up for lost time by overindulging in the resort’s luxurious offerings and rekindling her career aspirations. As Trish begins to reassess her own life choices during their time away, Laura considers that living her dreams won’t bring true happiness unless her family is along for the adventure.

My Take on the Movie
So what does a mom do? The list might include: laundry, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, making lunches, gardening, carpooling, budgeting, organizing the vacations or outings, etc.
So what happens when a mom decides that her family does not appreciate her? She may take some time off and spend a weekend with a girlfriend who wants to pamper her. 

Any mom will enjoy this film. So many decisions the family had to make on their own and it was evident that their mom was horrible missed. It was interesting watching the family deal with the mom’s absence and then how they pulled together to clean the house , cook, etc. before the mom decided to return home.
This family realized they were in fact taking advantage of their mom and all the responsibilities she has for just about everything. It appears at the end of the movie that there is a family agreement for everyone to do their fair share.
I enjoyed this family movie.

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Book Review – Michigan Month-by-Month Gardening

Michigan Month-by-Month Gardening
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About the Book
The when-to and how-to schedule for growing, caring for, and maintaining your Great Lakes State garden!

Never garden alone! The Month-by-Month Gardening series is the perfect companion to take the guesswork out of gardening. With this book, you’ll know what to do each month to have gardening success all year, from January to December. It’s full of the when-to and how-tos of gardening along with richly illustrated step-by-step instructions, so you can garden with confidence.

Reap the benefits of the gardening successes of author Melinda Myers, who has over thirty years of horticulture experience.

With a fresh look and updated information, Michigan Month-by-Month Gardening includes all the when-to and how-to information that has made these books so popular over the years, presented in a new, easier-to-use format with more full-color photography and the most current information available. Complete with specific advice on growing flowers (both annuals and perennials), bulbs, grasses, roses, groundcovers, shrubs, trees, and vines, this book is one no garden lover will want to miss! In the winter, certain tasks are needed to plan for and improve the next growing season. And once things really start growing in the spring and summer, you’ll find advice on the best way to get the most beautiful flowers, the lushest lawns, and the sturdiest trees. From planting to watering and fertilizing, and from maintenance to problem solving, Michigan Month-by-Month Gardening shows all levels of gardeners the best practices to grow satisfying and rewarding results.

My Take on the Book
If you live in the state of Michigan and enjoy gardening, you will truly enjoy reading and using this detailed book by Melinda Myers. This book is written month by month. Each month is divided into sections for the gardener with specific information about your Michigan landscape. The author included color photographs, step by step how to’s, information about composting and pruning bushes and trees, diagrams for plant hardiness, charts for planting vegetables, and how to order mulch and soil. 

Since this is April, let me give you some examples of the information the author included for this month in Michigan. We need to check the bulbs that are growing and make note of their location and if any will need to be separated later or if we need to plant more. Preparing our soil for planting is necessary for the healthy plants we will put into the ground soon. You could begin to plant lettuce and other cool temperature plants. Raking the lawn to remove dead grass and remove leaves or dead plants is a job for April. 
I think the Michigan gardener will find Melinda’s book a great resource and check list each month for the year.

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Book Review – 101 Things to Do Before You Grow Up

 101 Things to Do Before You Grow Up
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About the Book
There’s a lot to do before you get old and boring! Live it up with 101 activities that celebrate childhood, discovery, and just plain having fun. Have you ever made a time capsule? Do you have a signature dance move? And do you know the secret for folding the perfect paper airplane? This ready-made bucket list for kids is a journey through art, science, writing, and all the memory making and exploring that is the best part of childhood. Take this travel-friendly guidebook with you, and check off each adventure along the way.

My Take on the Book
Laura Dower’s book includes pages and pages of activities and projects that will bring hours of enjoyment to your child and even you. So many of the entries can be done with items you probably have in your house now or they can be easily located at a store near you.Here are a few of the entries: create a plastic bag parachute, make a kit for a natural disaster for your family, learn some new dance moves, make a pizza, learn to say “thank you” in other languages, and even invent a board game.

Older children could easily complete the activities independently. Younger children should have adult supervision. Laura’s book contains months of pure fun!

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Book Review – Drawing: Faces & Expressions

Drawing: Faces & Expressions
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About the Book
Perfect for beginning artists, Drawing: Faces & Expressions offers a comprehensive introduction on how to draw faces and expressions – the most important aspects of an individual. Aspiring artists will learn everything about the tools and materials they need to get started, including selecting the right pencils, papers, and erasers for their work. Additionally, artists will discover tips for drawing and shading techniques, such as how to achieve volume, suggest depth, and render various hair and skin textures. With their new found knowledge of pencil drawing basics, artists will learn to master the art of drawing the human face through a series of helpful examples and easy-to-follow, step-by-step projects, including a child portrait, adult portrait, an elderly portrait, and other practice projects that feature different techniques for capturing expressions and rendering features, including eyes, mouth, nose, and hands. Featuring the stunning artwork of gifted artist, Diane Cardaci – a veteran Walter Foster artistâ??this title features all new artwork designed to inspire a classical approach to rendering faces in graphite pencil. With its wide-ranging instruction, a plethora of artist tips, and beautiful artwork to inspire, Drawing: Faces & Expressions is the perfect resource for any beginning portrait artist.

My Take on the Book
Diane Cardaci has included all the important steps and tips one would want to use in drawing faces and expressions. She includes two pages which show the necessary materials one would need in order to draw a human face successfully too.

The artist illustrates the importance of using basic shapes in drawing. Those basic shapes are the sphere, cylinder, block , and wedge.
As the reader continues through each section, the author assists the reader with accurately drawing eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands and even hair. Diane uses diagrams and photographs throughout her book with accompanying text. 
I feel if you are serious about learning to draw faces and expressions, you will find Diane Cardaci’s book a valuable resource.

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Book Review – The Boxcar Children Guide to Adventure

The Boxcar Children Guide to Adventure
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About the Book
The Boxcar Children have long been known for being creative and resourceful. This hardcover book is filled with fun how-to guides for everyday adventures. It includes tips and tricks for mystery solving (how to make invisible ink and create secret codes), travel (how to pack a suitcase; how to take great snapshots), and enjoying the great outdoors. Each of the four Boxcar Children has their own section–practical advice from Jessie, a “roughing it” guide from Henry, crafts and art projects from Violet, and recipes from Benny! A great gift for Boxcar fans.

My Take on the Book
I grew up reading the series of books called THE BOX CAR CHILDREN . Now my girls are interested in reading the books too. The Alden children had great adventures and solved many mysteries. Your child will enjoy the information in each chapter and the accompanying projects or activities.

There are 8 chapters to explore. One of the chapters is called Outdoor Adventure. In this chapter, the reader will learn about tents, materials needed to be brought on a camping trip, campfire songs, and even the 12 uses for a bandana. I never knew there were so many uses for a bandana. 
There is so much fun contained in this book for you and your child.

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Fatherhood Friday – The Birds & The Bees With a 5 Year Old


Last week we had a interesting question from Diva-J, “where do people come from Daddy?” We answered, a bit religiously, “God makes people” She replied, “…no… I mean where do people come from” (she did truly emphasize these points). We were completely floored and had no clue that she would even want to know anything about the birds and the bees.


J-Mom and I just looked at each other and started to back peddle, as we had not thought to have an answer for this question yet for our eldest. So we used a stalling tactic that seems to work well, at least for now. We told her, “let us think about the best answer for this and we will get back to you.” She took this and hasn’t asked again, so I guess we dodged a bullet you may say.

So my question for all of you today is how have you dealt with this and how have you approached this discussion with your own children?

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Kidde Has Been Keeping Families Safe For Years & Now I’m A Part of #TeamKidde


Recently, I was asked to be a part of the 2015-2016 Kidde Brand Ambassador Council and I could not be happier to be a part of this great team. I say this for a few reasons. First, I have been familiar with Kidde Fire Safety for some time and have been very impressed with their product line, but also what they stand for and what they do to give back and support great causes. Second, I have a personal interest in this. You may remember that I severely burned my hand back on the day before Valentine’s Day 2013, ending up in the burn unit of the University of Michigan Hospital for a number of days. In those days, I learned so much about burns and about how severe home fires can be. I also learned about how preventable they can be, too, if only people are informed and proactive (here are five simple steps to safety).

All of this being said, I was pleased to be asked to be a part of #TeamKidde, which includes the following blogs:


Days of a Domestic Dad (returning ambassador)

Resourceful Mommy (returning ambassador)

Selfish Mom (returning ambassador)

Love that Max


Earlier in March, the Kidde brand ambassadors came together in Washington DC to get to know each other and learn a ton about Kidde and Kidde’s community partners. I was the unfortunate member of the team that could not attend in person. I had broken my ankle back in December and recently found that the ankle was not healing and thus I had to have surgery on the ankle. That being said my doctor/surgeon stated that there would be no flying within two weeks after the surgery, so I was grounded, and I was bummed!


The great people at Kidde though bent over backward to try and connect me to some of the action. I joined the team on Day one for the afternoon and learned a lot about Kidde’s products and virtually met some of the non-profit partners, including National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Safe Kids. Both of these organizations were remarkable and really provide support to so many.

  • I learned myself that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation does an amazing job at recognizing fallen firefighters. This is so important as these individuals sacrificed so much for others, I believe that they need to be recognized and remembered!
  • In regards to Safe Kids, I was not aware of a lot of the efforts that they were making nationally to create awareness and change in regards to safety for kids in general. Their website is strewn with amazing resources, videos and more that will help parents with kids of all ages and they are covering a broad spectrum of safety topics too. If you have never checked out this great organization, you should today!


I missed out on meeting representatives from the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors but I was already aware of this amazing organization from my own interaction with them after my burn experience. The Phoenix Society provides so much support for burn victims and their families. One of the programs I was most impressed with was the Phoenix SOAR®program. The Phoenix SOAR® program (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery®) meets many burn victims as they begin the journey of the recovery. The purpose of the program is simple yet powerful: that no survivor of a burn injury should feel alone as they make this journey. Personally I can tell you that you can feel alone and different when you and your body are changed by burns and having a program like this is powerful and important! I was so happy that my fellow Kidde Team members were visiting a burn unit themselves as it is very powerful and something that you will never forget; I know I won’t.


While I was not able to be at the Kidde Safety Summit, I will definitely be sharing more with you about fire safety this year. We all can and should learn more and take steps to teach our kids too about fire safety, as, especially in my home state of Michigan, we need to make changes. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Michigan has the second most home fire fatalities in 2015, trailing only New York, and I for one, hope to be one part of changing this!

After learning more about Kidde in the parts of the Safety Summit that I was able to attend, I am truly looking forward to raising awareness about fire safety and making changes in my own home and lifestyle, but also am hoping to be able to encourage many of you, my readers, to do the same.


I encourage you to find out more about Kidde through their Social Networks



I am a part of #TeamKidde. I am acting as an ambassador for Kidde in 2015 and posts, while compensated, reflect my honest and personal experiences with Kidde and their partners.


Book Review – Drawing Animals from A to Z

Drawing Animals from A to Z
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About the Book
Perfect for young minds in a constant state of learning, Drawing Animals from A to Z teaches children about their favorite furry, scaly, and feathered animals through art, ABCs and shapes. This fun, educational book opens with easy warm-up drawing exercises and an introduction to the basic shapes: circle, oval, square, rectangle, and triangle. From there, children are invited to follow simple step-by-step instructions to draw each A to Z animal, starting with a basic shape and progressing to a finished color final piece of art. Projects include children’s favorite domestic and exotic animals, including a dolphin, ferret, jaguar, koala, puppy, toad, and many more, while a paper pad includes an unfinished drawing of each featured animal with a prompt for children to complete, as well as the capital and lowercase letter representing the animal. Drawing Animals from A to Z educates children as they draw these wild and tame animals found all over the world, providing an enjoyable, well-rounded artistic and educational experience.

My Take on the Book
This book is so detailed that anyone can pick up their pencil and follow the step by step drawings the authors provided on each page. There is an animal for each letter of the alphabet to draw. Some of the choices are a bear, an elephant, or a hippo. You could choose to draw a monkey, rabbit, or a yak. The included drawing pad at the back of the book makes it easy for the budding artist to begin drawing immediately. All you need is a pencil. There are so many opportunities to draw that a child will enjoy using this book often.

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