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Archive for the ‘Fatherhood’ Category
By Daddy Clay Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
Some last-minute Father’s Day ideas inspired by BlogHer Food, recently held here in Austin, Texas.
Add to that list the people from BlogHer.
So when they contacted me about the possibility of leading an excursion for the attendees of BlogHer Food here in Austin, my response was instantaneous. I’m in. What could be more fun than leading a group of mom bloggers through South Boston’s funkiest eateries?
I also thought of the conference would be a perfect place to test out my leading candidates for the ultimate Father’s Day gift: a Korchmar Marshall backpack and briefcase combo. It will be a tough sell. I have loved my North Face backpack. Its numerous slots compartments and pockets are perfect for a gadget toting geek. The question is is it really suitable for a man of 46 to be hauling around a shapeless black backpack to professional events?
The Korchmar is a grown-up’s alternative to the collegiate knapsack. With its canvas material and leather trim, the craftsmanship is as sturdy as it is gorgeous to look at. With the straps stowed in their dedicated pocket the bag is a squarish briefcase. With pockets for laptop gadgets and gizmos, the commodious main pocket, and two large side pockets this bag easily swallowed all the gear that I transferred from my North Face.
With the straps deployed, this nifty little pack fits neatly on your upper back. You feel ready to move through an urban environment with the knowledge that you look spiffy while doing so. This is a rugged, handmade, leather-trimmed product lovingly made here in the USA and the price reflects that ($522). It’s a premium bag for a premium price. But you’ve been a good dad right? And you’ll probably never need another one.
If you’re expecting more new dad looking for something slightly lower down the price chain have a look at the Diaper Dude. Always dependable for creating thoughtful well-made bags at a reasonable price point ($78). And now they’ve made licensing deals with some of your favorite sports teams. The Boston Red Sox logo emblazoned on the front this bag dispels any notion that taking care of the baby is exclusively a mom’s responsibility. You can call it a diaper bag, but this piece can clearly outlast infancy.
It won’t be here in time for Father’s Day, but if the guy in your life is a fitness nut, a data guy, or somebody interested in living up to their health and fitness resolutions, I suggest a fitbit Flex ($99). This item is certainly on the top of my list this year. I feel like this unit would complement my Nike+ running applications to give me a complete picture of the activity I’m doing when not running and also help me improve my sleeping habits. The units are currently backordered on fitbit’s website, but I think it would be worth the wait.
And I will say this again this year — there is no better gift than a gift certificate to a high end barbershop. A straight razor shave is an indulgence that many guys are hesitant to shell out for, but once you’ve had one, look out. A full man-spa haircut/shave/treatment is an awesome gift, and something dad isn’t likely to do for himself. These services will cost somewhere from $30-$75.
Have a great Father’s Day everyone.
Disclosure: I was provided test samples of the Korchmar and Diaper Dude bags, but was not otherwise compensated for the post. Opinions are my own.
By concretin_nik Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
Yes, I went to Walt Disney World as a kid. I was 7 (I think). ‘Twas only the Magic Kingdom back then. Epcot was still under construction. I remember having some fun, I remember not having fun, because I have 2 older brothers. I remember almost puking after the dreaded tea cup ride with one of said
turds brothers (I may have actually puked). (Sidenote: They’re not turds today, I’m actually quite fond of them as adults.) And I remember wanting to go back ever since. I’m 40. My son is 5. It was time.
And this time it was different. There were no travel woes of driving for hours on end. We took a direct flight and we did a full destination package. Now there was still a bit of near-hurling, and yes, that was me again. There were moments of DadJoy™, MomJoy™, KidJoy™, and most importantly, FamilyJoy™, and very few instances of preschooler meltdown. Which is quite impressive, for any family on a week long tour of 4 different theme parks. But to be fair, we have been blessed with a fairly easy going lil’ bugger. This will be a multiple post series about how we(and Disney) set the bar very high for all future family vacations. Read on to see how I actually planned much of the good parts, and how we caught a few breaks on our epic vacation. I’ll talk about planning, prepping TheBoy, the vendors we used, where we stayed, and finally some tips about the visiting the parks themselves.
Part 1: ScorpioticNeurosis™ (Planning)
Part 2: Prep & Customer Service Level – EXPERTS
Part 3: Hollywood Studios & Epcot
Part 4: Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom
5 years. Well, about 30 years really. But 5 years is how long I’ve been waiting, and KNOWING, I was going back to Walt Disney World. TheBoy needed to be old enough to understand how to behave in public, yet young enough to still be thrilled to meet a six foot tall mouse. But not freak out. Your kids may vary, but really, if you can help it, don’t take a 2 year old. It’s REALLY not worth the hassle, for you, the cast members and characters, nor your kid, or their older siblings. The families I saw that didn’t look particularly happy all had one thing in common, they had at least one infant/barely walking wee one. Seriously, wait until they can truly enjoy themselves, which means you can too.
A co-worker(Tracey) who visits WDW at least once a year got me in contact with another Tracy, at TravelOnADream.com. She had me determine which dates we wanted to attend, and then helped us book a package including our lodging, park tickets, and dining needs. Airfare was up to me to figure out. No problem, we always fly Southwest, because they are always the cheapest. The best tip I can give you about airfare is this: once you book your flight, even if you think it’s a great deal, KEEP CHECKING! Tracey pointed out TWICE that our flights were on sale, AND from our home city. (We had originally booked out of Indianapolis, a two hour drive, because it was significantly cheaper.) Southwest won’t issue a refund, only credit. But there were no fees involved in our rebooking and now my family has over $200 in reserve for our next fare purchase, and we flew out of the airport only 5 minutes from our door. Win! Our Travel On A Dream package included lodging at the Pop Century Resort (one of Disney’s value priced locales), an extensive dining plan that included a snack, quick service meal, and table service meal for each of the three of us each day, park hopper tickets for the 4 main parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), and Disney’s Magical Express airport transport service. With the Magical Express service, once we checked our bags at the curb in Louisville, we didn’t have to fuss with them until they hit our hotel room. (Staff will tell you it can take up to 3 hours after check-in for your bags to arrive, ours took 5. Disappointing, but not a deal breaker by any means. Just be sure to pack your swim suits in your carry on, so you can hit the pool. When my brother went several years ago, his bags arrived before he did.)
Research, research, and more research led me to all corners of Pinterest and Google and many family bloggers with tips on ensuring a magical Disney visit. Daddy Clay had also referred me to TourGuideMike.com. My work schedule basically determined our dates, and as it turned out, it was the perfect week. Just after all of the spring breakers had gone home, but before school let out for the Summer, and only a couple of weeks after our 9 year anniversary. Wow, 9 years has gone by pretty fast. Anyway, TourGuideMike is a paid service. And it should be noted that some of his info is dated at 5 to 6 years old, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. It was about $20 for access to the EXTENSIVE information on ALL of the Disney theme parks. Including which days are less crowded (historically) during your selected dates, underutilized and hidden (read: less crowded) bathrooms and restaurants, expected wait times, height requirements and descriptions for the various attractions, and how to really take advantage of the dining plan, character meals and meetings, and Disney’s FastPass system. I’m sure much of the information Mike presents IS in fact available from Disney, blogs, forums and friends. HOWEVER, it is definitely worth the 20 spot to have all of that information readily accessible via one website, in an easy to read format. Though the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. I wouldn’t recommend Mike’s service if you are leaving tomorrow for the House of Mouse. To get the most out of his tips and tricks, you need to take some time to read through the site. You’ll be glad you did. I used TourGuideMike to plan which park we would hit each day, which rides/shows we MUST see, AND what to avoid(crowds). I made notes and printed off a few things about each park.
Dining: Character meals were important for me. I wanted TheBoy to be able to have a bit of one-on-one time with each character, and I wanted to be able to take photos at a less frantic pace than the typical onsite meet & greets. Enter Tracy at TravelOnADream.com again. I gave her our time and restaurant preferences and she went to work. Now we were booking these only about 60 days out, so we did have to trade a few dinners for lunches, but we were able to schedule 4 character meals out of 6 table service meals. Once that was done, it really began to sink in that this was really happening.
Oh, and we also added Disney’s PhotoPass Plus. I won’t go into great detail about it, you can find the info at DisneyPhotoPass.com. But essentially, you prepay for photos their photographers will take of you throughout the parks. By prepaying, you get ALL of the photos they take, not just the ones you select after the fact, which would be $15 for two 5×7s of the same photo. Prepaying with PhotoPass Plus seems expensive, at $125, but also totally worth it. With 6 days in various parks, I was quite confident that we would get enough photos to more than make up for the price. (We ended up with well over 100 photopass photos.) You can add borders and Disney icons to the photos on the site BEFORE you request your CD, and those customized versions will be included along with the originals. (You do receive a limited personal use license for printing the high res files as well.) Special photo tips: ask your cast member photographer if they have any “magic shots.” These are posed photos to which they add surprise elements in post. They will also take a photo with your camera. Just ask nicely.
Throughout this process, there was this wonderfully overwhelming realization of fatherhood. I’m a Dad. And I’m planning a family vacation. Not a beach vacation that starts with a group house rental with a bunch of my skater friends. (Did that.) Not a trip to see the in-laws with a concert for Mom & Dad thrown in. (That too.) I’m talking ’bout THE quintessential family vacation, to Walt Disney World! Other than the reality check of my age, it was a fantastic feeling. I have indeed arrived. Clark Griswald has nothing on me.
By concretin_nik Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
I still haven’t seen the movie, but I know I’m gonna dig it. Because Robert Downey, Jr. IS Tony Stark. Perfectly cast. And the idea of Iron Man? It’s just fantastic. Bruce Wayne money coupled with engineering genius, wrapped in “full tilt diva.”
So, when asked if I wanted to review some new Iron Man 3 toys from Hasbro, do you really think I hesitated, even for a second? I did not. For TheBoy’s sake, of course.
First up, the iconic mask. The ARC FX Mission Mask is made for kids, but it fits my skull perfectly. (Of course I checked. As if you wouldn’t.) TheBoy being built like he is, did not at all look like a bobble head, which is often the case with masks like this. There are 4 missiles that shoot out, 2 at a time, from each temple, but we didn’t mess with those too much, knowing they are destined to end up in an a/c grate or under the fridge. They will shoot across the room, and yea, they do pose a bit of an eye threat if you have a lil’ bugger that won’t listen when you say, “Don’t shoot these at anyone.” TheBoy was more enamored with the eyes and targeting lights that come on at the touch of the missile launch buttons. I know we’ll be setting up some paper cups for target practice in the not so distant future. The red targeting light shows cross hairs on the wall (if it’s dark enough). I thought that was a nice detail. And even if it didn’t light up, or talk, or make missile shooting sounds, it simply LOOKS cool. Stark would be proud.
The perfect companion to the mask, is the Motorized ARC FX Gauntlet. This forearm gauntlet shoots lil’ foam discs with the squeeze of a fist trigger. We(okay, I) played with this one a lot! The discs are very soft. You’re not gonna put an eye out with them, and only the smallest of knick knacks are in any danger of a wayward shot. Also, you can load five at a time, so when shooting at targets (Perhaps an AngryBirdsStarWars AT-AT?), you don’t have to reload after only 2 shots like the mask. The ‘glove’ comes with 10 discs, and yes, these too are destined to disappear under the couch. But I do have a complaint, the same complaint I’ve read from other reviews… The whir of the motor is LOUD. Not ear piercing, I wouldn’t even say intolerable, but you won’t be sneaking up on any bad guys, that’s for sure. It’s not clear to me what the motor is even for, because I know I’ve seen disc shooters without one. Again, the sound is not a deal breaker for playing with this thing. Fun, fun, fun.
Last, we have what served as our(my) victim of the above mentioned target practice more than the Angry Birds. The ARC Strike Iron Man action figure. This was actually a disappointment and I use the term action figure loosely here. It’s 10″, or Barbie doll size, though it’s not a doll (HUSH! It’s ALL plastic and it’s IRON MAN dammit!), but action figure IS generally reserved for 4″ figures. With a push of a hip button, Iron Man lights up, in all the appropriate places. This actually looks REALLY rad. He also speaks several battle appropriate statements, Jarvis even chimes in. (But without the correct voices from the movie actors, they both sound weird.) When you tilt him horizontal, for flight, his head tilts just right and “take off” sounds are automatic. And when brought back to a standing position, there’s that familiar metal *clank* of an Iron Man arrival. His wrists do twist, so you can see the Arc palm pulsars (sorry, I don’t know the proper term, I only speak a lil’ bit of geek), and you can raise his arms up and down at the shoulders. Unfortunately, that is all the articulation this guy can muster. And there in lies the big disappointment. No elbow movement, no waist twist, no knee or foot bending. Hell, he can’t even turn his head. The only ‘personality’ I could get out of him is the “‘Sup” head nod. This makes the “action” part of action figure a bit of a stretch. But hey, kids ARE supposed to use their imaginations during play, right? Right.
I’d rather see a lot more moveable joints and zero talking. But the lights are great. And even with all of the let down of such little articulation and wrong voices, I still dig it. (And TheBoy doesn’t seem to mind at all.) I just can’t help it. It just LOOKS so freakin’ cool! Especially lit up. IF this ARC Strike Iron Man lives through TheBoy, I absolutely see it having a new life as a lamp fixture on my desk, in my yet to be constructed Cretin Cave. And a kickass lamp(and cave) it shall be.
Micro Bonus: Hasbro also threw in a couple of the Micro Muggs. Itty bitty Iron Man figures. TheBoy loves these as well. And see, told ya the lights were cool!
Disclosure: DadLabs was not compensated for this post, but I did receive the toys to review free of charge. These are MY opinions. Your mileage may vary. Thank you Hasbro!
By concretin_nik Sunday, May 12th, 2013
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is love their mother.” – Theodore Hesburgh
This gave us* the idea for a collective Mother’s day card from a group of Dad Bloggers* to the moms in our lives.
Mother’s Day has new meaning these days. For me, it’s not about MY Mother any more. She’s got Grandparent’s Day now. But today is for that woman who made me the man I am today. A Father. She is quite simply amazing. I mean, TheBoy LIVED IN HER! All that I am, all that he is, I owe to her. (I’d also like to personally thank these and the many other Dad Bloggers of the world for their continued inspiration to be not only a better blogger, but a better Dad. When you have a spare moment, check out their sites and you’ll see what I mean.) ~Nik
Please feel free to add your sentiments to the Mothers in your life in the comments.
Concretin Nik, DadLabs. www.DadLabs.com
“Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of all children.”
From Eric Draven(The Crow), those are the first words I spoke to HisMother after the birth of TheBoy. I make a point to repeat them on his birthday.
The greatest thing that’s ever happened to me is a direct result of the (now) second greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I love you both. Happy Mother’s Day!
Scott Behson, Fathers, Work and Family. www.fathersworkandfamily.com
You know how revved up Nick gets on nights you come home late and he gets out of bed, hides/jumps out to surprise you, runs around like a loony, and can’t get enough of cuddling and laughing with you? I feel that way too.
Happy Mother’s Day to the best wife and mom I could imagine. You have given me the gifts of true love, the amazing life we’re building together, and of fatherhood. I can never repay what you have given me. But I’ll spend every day trying.
James W., Naturally Daddy. http://naturallydaddy.blogspot.com/
“Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
Mom, you taught me too much to explain all of the happiness that you brought into my life. To my wife, you are a very special woman and I could never imagine being in your shoes and our daughter could never have a more loving mother.
Jeff T., Ay yo, Be a Father http://ayyobeafather.wordpress.com
Happy Mother’s Day to four special women: To my mother, for unconditional love always, no matter what I ever did or said. To my mother in law, Nana, for the love and support. Seeing RJ with his Nana warms my heart. To my grandmother, matriarch of our family four generations strong, and enough love in her heart for many more. And lastly to my wife. RJ and I are so blessed to have you in our life.
Scotty Schrier, Dads Who Change Diapers. http://dadswhochangediapers.com/blog
There are only 26 paltry letters to describe the most important women in my life:
The one who gave birth to me and left this plane before meeting my sons.
The one who married me and gave birth to the two most amazing little miracles I have ever seen.
And the one who took my mother’s place and made me one of her own.
There are no words that can describe the debt I owe these women. I only hope that my actions can show them how much I truly care. For without them, I would be but a pale image of the man I am today. I love each and every one of you with all of the ferocity of a thousand suns. Thank you for putting up with me and loving me back. Especially when I didn’t deserve it.
Eric, Dad on The Run. dad-on-the-run.blogspot.com
My Mother looked life’s greatest obstacles in the eye and kept on trucking while I grew up with little understanding of that. Over the years Mom’s physical abilities have deteriorated due to her ongoing battle with MS. However, her mental steadfastness and unconditional love have remained unchanged. Her love is an anchor during any storm and it taught me what love could be and what I could find in a wife, which brings me to another great mother in my life. The love and encouragement my wife can deliver to another human amazes me and when she focuses those gifts on our children they light up in very special ways. Of course, I also have to thank my wife’s mother for raising not one, but two, fantastic Mom’s and I look on with pride and great expectations to my own sister who is a new Mom this year! Thank you to these mothers, and all great mothers, for what you do for your children and the world every day.
Victor Aragon Jr., FanDads. Fandads.com
This Mother’s Day is going to be a special one, because it will be our first one with our new addition. Last year, my wife worked and our plans with family members fell apart, so it wasn’t a good one for my wife. This year, I am hoping to erase that memory and hopefully have a great one. My wife and I have known each other for over sixteen years. In those years it seems like even with our ups and downs, we are constantly getting to know each other and our love keeps getting stronger. I am thankful for having her in my life and for all the hard work that she does for me and the little ones. Thank you for all you do babe, I love you.
There is another great woman in my life that if wasn’t for her I wouldn’t exist; my mother. My mom is a strong woman and I am very thankful for all that she does for my family. Even though I am not her little boy anymore, my mother still insists on giving me money for gas or to get something for my little girl. My mom and dad have always gone above and beyond for my sisters and me and I feel that I am trying the best that I can to repay them for everything they did. I would like to thank my mother for all her sacrifices and to tell her how much I love her. Thanks Mom.
As always, thanks for reading.
DorkDad, DorkDaddy.com. www.DorkDaddy.com
Because of the way you move through the room. Because of the way your smile sounds on your voice. Because every single curve on your body is in exactly the right place. Because of the way your hair smells and the way it tickles my face. Because of the twinkle in your eyes when you’re making mischief, and the look on your face when you’re asleep. Because of the feel of your heart and the warmth of your skin when you’re holding me. Because of the magic you made with our children, and the magic you make with our family. Because everything I love about my life I can trace directly back to you.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Dave Lesser, Amateur Idiot / Professional Dad. www.amateuridiotprofessionaldad.com
A Mother’s Day Haiku:
Mother’s Day is here
I forgot a card again
Glad I’ve got a blog!
Mom, I love you. I don’t say it often enough, but you’re awesome. You did an outstanding job raising me (and those two other dudes who kind of look like me).
Allie, what can I say? You’re an unbelievable mother and an amazing wife. This whole family would be lost without you. Literally. I just cannot follow the turn-by-turn directions on my phone without you in the passenger’s seat. Again, this is not a metaphor. Well, maybe it is a little. I’m an idiot. But I’m your idiot and you’re stuck with me. You and the kids are my world. Thank you for everything, everything you do. I love you a super friggin’ jillion much!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Neal Call, Raised by my daughter. http://raisedbymydaughter.blogspot.com/
I just want to say a humble thank you to my mother, my wife, and to all women who bear or nurture these little seeds that bring purity and wonder into the world. The “bearing” part is pretty awesome and mind-boggling, but at least as important is the part involving raising these creatures; of sacrificing what you want for what they need; of protecting them so desperately and then encouraging them to spread their wings. These are things that anybody can do, male or female, but I’ve learned the most about them from the women in my life. So, thanks.
Jeff Bogle, OutWithTheKids. OutWithTheKids.com
My ability to find the perfect set of curtains for the dining room and my knowledge of how to wash them and hang them damp to dry without creases. My need to vacuum my way out of a room. And my dry humor that has served me, mostly well. Most of what people like about me, I am because of you. And to this day I enjoy talking with you on the phone almost daily, even when it is you calling me because you, once again, cannot figure out how to properly interact with technological devices. I love you, Mom, more than I’ll ever be able to write down, because even though I string sentences together every day, for some kind of living, I have yet to be able to find the correct combination of letters and words to form the single sentence that does you justice. Thank you for everything, Mom.
James Rohl, Stay at Home Dad PDX. http://sahdpdx.com
Thank you mom for showing me how to be radically hospitable, fiercely loyal, and emotionally available. I am thankful to call you my mom, and proud to call you my friend. Happy Mother’s Day.