About Ken Carfagno

Along his journey from artist to engineer to entrepreneur, Ken Carfagno became a dad. And like many new dads, his kids inspired a long-forgotten gift. Ken could make up stories and draw his kids into them. This sparked a dream that lead to Dadnamics, the infusion of creativity, adventure, and silliness into dad time. And it lead to the Arctic Land experience.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 34 Door Spin

You want a perfect example of why Dadnamics is so stinking effective for kids!?

We planned this elaborate day for our family. It started with a kids’ clown & magic show at the theatre, which was followed by lunch and a 3-hour tour of New York’s Capitol Building in Downtown Albany. If that wasn’t enough to consider this day epic, we visited the Science and History Museum and went to the observation deck at the highest building in the city. We all had a total blast.

Oh, and check this out. It was freezing outside and the entire day was 100% inside. Albany has a huge underground mall, connecting these buildings together. We left our house from the garage, traveled to the underground parking garage of Empire Plaza, and entered the warm interior. The theatre, the tallest building, the museum, the Capitol Building, and even lunch were all accessible through the underground heated mall.

On the way back to the car after we were all tired out from walking and smiling, we passed through a set of revolving doors. We circled once, and then twice. That’s when I got out the phone camera to start recording the spontaneous Dadnamics Adventure known to our family as “Door Spin”. It was short. It was simple. It was dizzy.

But it was also memorable. “So kids, what did you enjoy most about today?” After all the money and time we spent on the day, I can’t even tell you what they said. You guess…

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 32 Superhero Battle

The game of rough and Battle! has always been a Dadnamic thing I play with the boys. The variation for my daughter is Wild Girl! The goal is to act silly, get the energy out (especially in the winter), and use ridiculous WWF style moves to win. These moves are not limited to “The Hurricane”, “The Tornado”, “Steamroller”, and “The Bone Crusher”. Nor are they limited to superpowers like Spiderman’s “Webbing” or Superman’s “Freezing” or the Hulk’s “Hulk Smash”. They are all legal moves in an all-out assault to throw the opponent off the bed.

When we have enough time, a best-of-three is in order to declare the winner. But in shorter time windows, we do a single game winner-takes-all Battle!

I highly, highly recommend Battle! for YOU and YOUR kids, and especially your boys between 2 and 6. They love this game. Plus, it has one of the highest ROI’s on Creative Connection that I’ve experimented with in Dadnamics.

The concept of Return on Investment is tossed all over the entrepreneurial space by guys like Gary Vaynerchuk. He asks, “What is the ROI on social media?” It’s not as clear-cut as investing into a company or mutual fund. They have data and analytics that you can study before you make the investment.  But what about the intangibles? What is the ROI on reading self-improvement books at night? We would all agree that the ROI is very high, but we cannot quantify it.

Now that you’re tracking me, let’s move these questions to your kids. What is the ROI of 1-on-1 creative connection time with your son or daughter? It’s HUGE!!! You can’t possibly quantify it with numbers. But I can tell you this. When you use Dadnamics as an ROI tool for your relationship, you will get huge smiles, hugs, and affection from your little ones.

Beat that in the stock market!

 

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 31 Dream Story Continues

In my first Dadnamics Blog, I published the complete 2,400 word journey of “The Dream Story, Wood Hair, and Arctic Land“. It was my most emotional post to this day because it capped off a 5 1/2 passion project, transforming an idea or dream into a real published book.

I can tell you from experience that passion projects do not even feel like work. I absolutely loved every 4:30am alarm buzzer and Monday night writing group and each new burned out highlighter as I finished another book on the craft on writing. I did it because I loved it. I did it to set an example for my oldest son, Kenny, who was watching every move that I made.

If you take the time to read the original post, you will see that this project started in March 2010 when Kenny was barely 5-years-old. Kenny just turned 12 a few days ago. I can hardly believe it.

Here’s the best part. He has been watching. I published my debut Dadnamics in Reading book, Arctic Land, on December 15, 2015 after an intense 5+ year journey. And today, my amazing, entrepreneurial son Kenny published his first book on Amazon – The Natural Elements: Unknown Powers.

It’s a real book too with 3,000 words! He created 4 characters with powers that protect the planet from alien-invaders. His character is Furno, who has the element of fire at his disposal. His sister Icy has (well you can guess her power). The other two characters, Misty and Groot, are my son and daughter’s neighborhood friends. To complete this book, Kenny read and applied Ron Tobias’s “20 Master Plots”, he re-structured his first draft to have a complete plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I edited the final draft this morning and I’m just beaming. My boy… My boy…

What can I say. I’m a proud Dad. The kicker is this and I want every parent to hear these words to the point that they reverberate through your spirit.

Your kids will copy all of what you do wrong and half of what you do right.

Make sure to set the right example for them. You have that power. It was given to you, Dads.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 29 Puck Luck

One of my cleaning customers has season tickets for RPI Hockey and has been generous over the years to pass a few pairs my way each season. The seats are sick! They are center ice, 8 rows up with a perfect view of the entire rink. I typically switch between bringing two sons to a game and then alternate with my daughter. Needless to say, she had no idea how the game of hockey was played and she really didn’t care.

This was “Special Time” for us and she just wanted to be with me. Therefore, I knew that watching the game would have to be secondary. As you can see in the video, I tried to entertain her with “Rules of the Game”, Dadnamics-Style. Although that’s as far as the video goes, many other exciting events took place at this game away from the game. It’s all about creating memories and I felt wonderful on the car ride home with a solid list of memories.

(1) We got pretzels and hot chocolate. You can never go wrong with that!

(2) We left our seats for half of a period to explore the arena. We found secret passages and an empty corridor that was totally big and empty enough to do a daddy/daughter dance. So we danced and twirled for a bit. Again, you can rarely go wrong with this either.

(3) After the dance, we walked the perimeter of the rink and we heard. “A puck. Excuse me.” We turned around and one of the security men grabbed a frozen puck that left the rink toward our area. He saw my daughter and wanted to give it to her. That was our “Puck Luck”. If I had forced her into boredom by staying in our seats for the whole game, we would have missed out on this gift.

(4) After the game, we walked to the car a round-about way. We descended the Metal Staircase of Danger, ran across the Black Ice Palace, and jumped off the Wall of Wisdom (sounds like we were in the Elf Movie). The wall jumping was the most fun.

(5) We got into the car and took each other’s ticket and wrote on them. I wrote, “Daddy-Christianna very 1st hockey game”. She wrote the same. I keep mine in my car to this day and she has hers in her bedroom.

(6) On the way home, we stopped for a doughnut. I know, totally spoiled her with treats and love and time…

That’s the point! You can too.

 

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 68 Paparazzi

Have you ever felt like you were being followed?

[Queue the spooky Halloween piano.]

That very thing happened to my family just a few short weeks ago…


The six of us settled into the van ready for our annual trip to the orchard to pick a few bags of fresh New York Apples. It’s always an exciting trip as we stuff our faces with “samples” off the trees to properly select the right mix for our family.

We race, we play.

We pick, we pay.

Then we get back in the van, go home, and pass out from eating 4 apples each.

Something was different this time. Something was very different indeed. The air felt a little heavier in places. The apple trees swayed a bit too much for my comfort. Soft footsteps seemed to trail my own and they weren’t my family members. No, something was off, out of place, eerie, confusing, concerning.

Click. Click-click. Click.

I acted on a hunch and followed the sound of a ticking machine. It couldn’t have been my imagination. The ticking got louder and louder. I darted across a row of apple trees to another, and there they were.

My mind eased initially, knowing that I wasn’t being trailed by some ghoul or ghost. But my mind raced when I considered the magnitude of the situation. I was being followed by the Paparazzi. Right there, in front of me, was a woman pointing a camera at me and my family. She looked the part, toting a bag of supplies and lenses. This could only mean one thing.

I was famous. Dadnamics had finally reached some level of underground viral success that, not even I knew about. This new reality dawned on me like a bath of warm sunshine.

“Am I famous. But I don’t have a lightning scar? How could this be?”

I took a step toward her and just like a deer in the field, she lifted her head from the camera and stared at me for a few seconds. I took another step and asked. “Who are…”

She bolted like the deer. I chased her. “Wait. I’m not going to hurt you. I come in peace.”

Alright, alright. I’m not famous and most of this story was a bit of an… embellishment. But there was a photographer and she was totally following us around. Her name is Kelli of Kelli Evans Photography and she specializes in Family Photojournalism. This is an emerging and extremely creative segment of the photography industry. Kelli schedules photo shoots with families with the intention of literally hiding and following. Her craft is to capture the family in their element, doing the things that real families do, when they do them.

Kelli became a subscriber to Dadnamics several months ago and was so moved by the style of family content I shared that she reached out. So in a sense, I am famous… sort of.

The experience was nothing short of amazing. Kelli spent nearly an hour following us and doing her thing. At the end, she allowed us to get the typical still family shots that most photographers do. It was awesome. She got a blog out of the experience and I got another Dadnamics Live! episode.

Win-win.


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Dadnamics Live! Episode 28 Hut, Hike

It’s official! Dadnamics now has a toddler-only video. In full disclosure, I’ve been performing with all of my kids since they were toddlers. I just never recorded them.

The timing for Hut, Hike is perfect as the 2016 NFL season is in full swing. Here’s the play-by-play.


Offense takes the field. Number 39, Dad, in at quarterback. Number 2, Kye, in at wide receiver, running back, punter, and place kicker. It’s 1st down and 10 on the 20-yard-line. Dad takes the prescription to the drugstore, reads the defense, and snaps “HUT, HIKE!” 

“Yes sir, your prescription will be filled within 15 minutes.”

“NOooooo. How could this be. It was supposed to be ready!

[whistle blows. Referee (pharmacist) grasps left forearm with right hand.]

“Holding, on the offense, number 98. Ten yard penalty. Repeat first down… and wait for more than 15 minutes.”

Now it’s 1st and 20 from the 10-yard-line.  This could be a long day on the grid iron. Kye splits left. Dad sets the offense again, audibles upon a favorable defensive setup, and yells. “HUT, HIKE!” Dad takes the snap and fakes the slant to Kye, who had his man beat. Then Dad hands off to number 2, Kye, faking the defense out of it’s pants.

The play worked flawlessly as Dad and Kye ran the entire length of the field (down two drugstore aisles) and spiked the ball for the first score of the day. 

When the game clock read 0:00 in the 4th quarter, Dad and Kye were home with a prescription and a memory that Kye will never remember and Dad will never forget.


We all do things in life, whether technical, relational, or physical that seem normal and routine to us. But they are NOT normal and routine to others. These would be called your gifts, that only you can bring to this world.

I performed for and with my kids since Day 1, I just never realized that I was odd or goofy or a total genius!? Around 18 months ago, I had enough wisdom to realize that what I do is unique. Therefore, I began pulling out my phone during these spontaneous Dadnamic adventures. 18-months later, I have over 30 Dadnamics Live! episodes published and 40+ more in the tank ready to be released.

You too have gifts that set you apart. I encourage you to recognize them, embrace them, and transform them into content that can change the world. That’s what I’m trying to do!

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 22 Wiffle Ball World Series, World Series

This wraps up another fantastic year of father-son wiffle ball. As I write this, Kenny and I are playing the final inning of the NLCS game 3 between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. The winner plays the Cleveland Indians in the 6th Annual Daddy-Kenny Wiffle Ball World Series.

Words and videos cannot do justice to the relationship and memories we have established over these 6 years. I truly believe that I have begun a tradition that will never be broken as it is passed down from generation to generation. Just listen to the final questions I ask Kenny in the video. But this isn’t about me. I want this to be about YOU and YOUR son. Did you take my challenge and begin the Fall Classic in your backyard?

Dadnamics is meant to be over-the-top and full of creative ideas for you to use at home. I know much of what I do is a little nuts and you would not go near it with a 27 1/2 foot pole. I just hope that you are seeing enough variety to grab the baton and run the next leg of the race.

YOUR son and/or daughter is worth the effort.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 22 Wiffle Ball World Series, Championship Series

Intensity ratcheted a few decibels as we entered the National and American League Championship Series.

The calendar crept closer to Halloween and the thermometer crept closer to freezing (as you can tell with the headbands and coats).

Competitive juices surged as the final four teams battled for their wiffle ball lives… [lives… lives… live… li… llll]


2016 UPDATE:

If you’ve been following these videos over the past 3 weeks, you should know that the footage is a year old and there (most certainly) is a 2016 D-K Wiffle Ball World Series. In fact, I am heading outside after publishing this blog to play game 3 of the NLCS where I’m the Washington Nationals and Kenny is the Chicago Cubs. Last weekend, my Cleveland Indians defeated Kenny’s Texas Rangers two games to zero to advance to the World Series.

There is a VERY real possibility that the D-K WBWS finalists could match the actual MLB World Series finalists. Could it be? Will the Chicago Cubs meet the Cleveland Indians in both historical series? Could the Chicago Cubs end the drought on the national stage and in our backyard? We shall see…

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 22 Wiffle Ball World Series, Divisional Card Round

Sometimes, a 5-minute video tells the whole story. This is one of those times. If you skipped watching the video, stop reading and watch!

Dads, are you IN yet? Are you getting the itch to play wiffle ball alongside us? Come on. I even put a “Field of Dreams” intro in to fire you up!

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 22 Wiffle Ball World Series, Wild Card Round

It would not be fair to invite you all to join us in the annual Wiffle Ball World Series without properly instructing you in our rules. For I have heard it said this way,

Information without application leads to frustration.

I cannot and will not do that to you, my fellow travelers on this road called Fatherhood.

Rules of the Game

  1. Choose Handicaps Upon Dad – In most cases, Dads should be better at wiffle ball than their 6-12-year-old sons. The goal of the handicap is to place Dad at a disadvantage such that he can play his best within the handicaps for a competitive game. I recommend these as ones we have used.
    • Bat from the other side – I have bat left-handed every year until this year. Kenny is finally letting me bat right-handed. However, after five years of left, I am great from both sides. That one back-fired for him!
    • Balls, Strikes, and Outs – In the early years, I would not allow him to walk me. Plus, I would make my at-bats 2-strike outs and 2-out innings. When Kenny was 6, I gave him more than 3 strikes for an out (I think it was 4).
    • Extra Bases – The older Kenny got, the closer I moved his double, triple, and home run lines to mine. Last year was the first year, we used the same (he’s that good)!
    • Base-Running – Kenny can run out every hit. I had to walk out a hit, then I was able to lightly jog. This year, I can lightly run.
    • Mulligan (Extra Ball) – When Kenny was 6 to 9, I gave him 1 Mulligan per game. This is just like golf for amateurs. As a strategy, Kenny would choose 1 pitch he would like again (usually at the end of games).
  2. Balls, Strikes, and Outs – Use the same as in a real baseball game – 4 balls to a walk, 3 strikes to an out, and 3 outs in an inning (see “Handicap” section for younger boys). There are “called” 3rd strikes for perfect pitches.
  3. Pitcher’s Paradise and Foul Balls – A hit that makes it beyond the pitcher’s mound can be brought back and called “Pitcher’s Paradise” before the runner reaches first base for an out. Balls that do not make it to the pitcher’s mound are foul. Balls that land off the diamond are foul (as in baseball). All hits may be caught (fair or foul) for an out.
  4. Automatic Hits – Balls hit past the pitcher can be called “single” automatically, so the hitter doesn’t need to run. In general, balls hit over the infield are doubles and triples are generally at the wall.
  5. Ghost Runners – If you are playing 1-against-1 or 2-against-1, use ghost runners. For example, you hit a double and have to hit again. “There is a man on second.
  6. Home Runs – Must land over assigned boundary and batter must run out every base for runs to count.
  7. Length of Game, Extra Innings, and Continuation – Every game is 3 innings long. Home team gets last at-bat (as in baseball). Extra innings are played until a winner is crowned. If dusk precedes the conclusion of the game, record the box score and resume at next available date.
  8. Bonus Ball – This is the most exciting and strategic rule in the Wiffle Ball World Series. The Bonus Ball is double the size of the regular ball, thus is counts double… in every possible scenario.
    • Balls count as 2 balls. A strike counts as 2 strikes. An out counts as 2 outs.
    • Bonus Ball strikes thrown with 1 out and 1 strike, ends the inning!!! Here’s why. The strike counts double, causing an out (from 1 strike to 3). But an out counts double too (from 1 out to 3). Inning over. This is one of the most strategic ways to end innings. You can conceal the Bonus Ball. There is no need to announce it.
    • Walks or hit-by-pitch counts as a double.
    • Singles count as doubles. Doubles count as home runs. Triples count as home runs plus a double.
    • Home runs double the runs scored. Example: If the bases are loaded and a Bonus Ball home run is hit, the batter scores 8 runs!!!
    • There are no limits on the number of Bonus Balls the pitcher can throw, but weigh the risk verses reward of the throw.

Now Dads… get your white boards ready for your Wiffle Ball World Series. Go purchase rubber bases, 20 wiffle balls, 4 Bonus Balls, and a wiffle ball bat. Get on your gear, mark out your field, and join the movement!

And that’s what I envision. The Dad-Son Wiffle Ball World Series WILL become a movement. It’s too much fun not to.

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