Thursday, May 29, 2014

12 AWESOME Father's Day Gifts for 2014

Every year Stevie asks me what I want for Father's Day. Every year I tell her I want the same three things.
  • I'd like to sleep in. 
  • I'd like to spend the day with my family. 
  • A back rub would be nice.
Honestly, the second bullet point is the only one I really care about. Stevie hates that I give her those three answers. HATES it. So this year I did a little research on my own, and reached out to some of my very favorite dad blogger buddies to make a list of truly awesome Father's Day gifts. I would be elated to find any of these items under the Father's Day Tree on Father's Day Morning. You can click on any of the images to go to where you can buy what is pictured!

Chewbacca Hoodie!! ($50.04 - $99.99 Amazon) 

(Recommended for my brother-in-law, Jim)

Does the dad in your life have an awesome beard? Is he looking to complete the ensemble with an awesome wookie hoodie? Does he do his awesome Chewbacca Impression at inappropriate times? Then this gift is for him. The price range is so large because it depends largely on how many Wookies they have to... shave... to get enough Wookie Fur to make it. Candice! Buy this for Jim. DOOOOO IT! (By the way, everyone congratulate my brother and sister-in-law. They are pregnant with my niece or nephew!) 

This Awesome Hammock  ($239.99

(Recommended by John Willey of Daddy's in Charge?)

"If I didn't already have a billion of them, I would want Legos. But since I already have seemingly every set ever made I want a day at the golf course. HOWEVER, knowing that a day at the course is a day away from family time, I want a hammock.  A hammock that is big enough for more than one person. That way I can look at it while I am playing wiffle ball with the kids and dream about laying in it all day.  Or you can just get me beer; really, really, really good beer." - John

The Parents' Phrase Book ($11.71 Amazon)

(Recommended by Brent Almond of Designer Daddy)

"The Parents' Phrase Book combines the eloquent writing of a master storyteller with the practical idioms of a world-wizened father — of which Whit Honea is both. 

Whether it's explaining why Jimmy has two dads or if Han shot first (he did) or how to deal with the death of a family member, Whit gives voice to it all in heartfelt and easy-to-use format." - Brent

BTW, Brent has his own list of Father's Day Gift suggestions. Check it out here. (After you're done reading mine!)

Breaking Bad: The Complete Series Collectors Blu-ray Edition ($399.99 Amazon)

(Recommended by Lorne Jaffe of Raising Sienna

"In my opinion is that "Breaking Bad" is the most culturally significant drama of our time and arguably of all time. It represents television as art: a painting, an epic poem, a brilliant film. Its use of sound, silence, color, framing, cinematography and on and on are nearly unparalleled. It's a show that fans, particularly rabid ones, can study. Each time you watch an episode, you notice something new. If you've seen the entire series already, you can go back and catch clues to each character's transformation. Having this set, with 50+ hours of special features and documentaries, not to mention the collectible money barrel and other unique items, makes this an incredible Father's Day gift for the "Breaking Bad" dad." - Lorne

If you don't have an extra 400 bones laying around, the entire series of Breaking Bad is now on Netflix. With a little commitment, and possibly losing your job for taking too much time off of work, you could probably get through it in a month and only pay $8.99. But for the true collectors, this set looks pretty cool.

Dad's Book of Awesome Science Experiments ($12.01 Amazon)

(Recommended by Eric Jefferson of Dad On the Run)

"Mike Adamic's Dad's Book of Awesome Science Experiments is a fantastic resource for any at home parent looking for things to do on those rainy days, or even when the sun is shining - rain or shine, who could beat building your own rocket or creating rock candy in your own kitchen?" -  Eric

Bluff Works Pants ($93.00

(Recommended by me!)

Look, here's the thing. I wear a pair of pants until it can no longer be classified as a pair of pants. Then I mow the lawn in them for a few months. Then I use them to dry my car for awhile before finally burning them in a pants retiring ceremony in my back yard. I use every part of the buffalo. And by buffalo I mean pants. Bluff Works sent me a pair of their slacks to try out about a month ago, and I am kind of embarrassed to admit how many days a week I wear them. They are comfortable enough for work, and durable for me to do everything I described above except the burning part. The difference is, you can still wear them the next day. I love them. They make me happy. 

This picture is so damn cheesy. I love it.

Leaf Scoops ($19.99 Amazon)

Dude. They are leaf scoops. What else can I say? He might think they are silly looking and lame, but come leaf-picking-up-time dad is going to be glad you got him HULK STYLE LEAF PICKER UPPERS!!


The Piggy Back Rider ($84.99 Amazon)

(Recommended by Nick Dawson of Dad Labs)

"The PiggybackRider is a great Father's Day gift because it takes a typical Dad thing (carrying your kid on your back/shoulders) and makes it more comfortable for Dad, and more FUN for both! We've used ours often and every time has been a blast. Dads with kids 3 to 7 years old will dig it!" - Nick

I have to admit, I am intrigued by this contraption. I would have liked to have had it for our recent trip to Disney Land. The walk back to the hotel with Duchess on my shoulders nearly killed me.

Star Wars Chess Set  ($72.99 Amazon)

(Recommended by James Estrada of Nerdy At Home Dad

Two of my favorite memories of growing up with my dad are when we watched Star Wars for the first time, and when he taught me how to play chess. Both must have taken eternal patience on his part. 

Star Wars:

"What happened to Luke's parents? Was that them, and why were they skeletons?"
"They aren't his parents."
"Who are his parents?"
"Keep watching. You'll find out."
"I can't tell you. It is a surprise."
"You'll see. Just keep watching."


"Why does a Knight move in an L?"
"It just does."
"But why?"
"Because that is the rule."
"But why is that the rule?"
"Because in mid-evil times, knights could only move forward and then slightly to the side. It was because of how their armor was made."

Now you can combine the frustration of explaining the force with the frustration of explaining why pawns can only kill on a diagonal! Huzzah!

Pajama Suit ($99.95 - $115.39 Amazon)

(Recommended by Aaron Gouveia of The Daddy Files)  

"Because it's always important to be the classiest parent at the bus stop every morning." - Aaron

OK. If I am being honest, Aaron didn't really recommend these. Awhile ago Aaron lit the internet on fire by admitting that he likes to wear pajama pants to the bus stop. Some folks rallied to his defense. Others regarded his commitment to sleepwear as a sign of the apocalypse. I think if someone would just buy these for him, we could all get along and going back to worrying about important things like why that rapper's sister-in-law hit him in an elevator... or Global Warming.

Anyway, the Pajama Suit is legend...How I Met Your Mother reference...dary.

Zombie Apocalypse Yard Gnomes ($15.99 - $29.99 Think Geek)

(Recommended by me, again.)

OK. The Tommy Gun is a bit much. The Scarface quote on the base is a bit... mucher. Do I wish the gnome had enough sense not to scream outdated movie quotes, use automatic weapons, and alert every other zombie gnome in the area to his EXACT location? Yes. Yes I do. Sorry, if they had a gnome using modified melee weapons I would have picked that one. Just buy them. They are still cool.

Cooper & Kid Play Sets (Prices Vary)

(Recommended by Jeff Bogle of Out With the Kids)

This one is probably my favorite on the whole list. It is a monthly mail order set that includes a variety of projects and games dads can do with their kids. Each kit includes:
  • A shipping box that turns into a toy!
  • An activity book that guides you through the theme and the contents of the box
  • A bedtime story
  • A separate website of related digital resources
  • Links to even MORE theme-related activities that are ‘Beyond the Box’
  • Parenting and topical links to resources that are ‘Just for Dad’
  • A themed dinner menu with recipes (guys are doing a ton of cooking for the family these days)
Here's what Jeff had to say:

"I love the mystery of each box, but also that each one has a thread running through it, not just a mashup of random stuff. Our first kit was flying, two was science and magic, three was bugs. I love that it takes dads and dad/kid playtime/quality time seriously and that it is not gendered at all. It is for Dads + Kid(s) whether those kids are boys or girls." - Jeff

So there's the list! I think they are all pretty cool. I hope you enjoyed it. If I missed anything, which I am sure I did, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. In the meantime, don't forget to follow Ask Your Dad Blog on Facebook and Twitter and be sure to check out the blogs of all the dudes who helped me put this list together! 

- John (Dad)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Ways Being an At-Home Dad is Supposedly Ruining My Kids - Guest Post

Hi everyone! John here. Last week I wrote a snark-filled piece about how sending our kids to daycare is destroying them. It really seemed to hit home with a lot of you. A few of my stay-at-home-parent readers commented that they also feel guilt being thrown their way for not sending their kids to daycare, and I had to agree. The poo flings both ways. When poo is flung, it is hard to control the direction. So no more flinging poo! An thus the poo flinging wars were ended. The end. 

Ha ha, like anyone listens to me.

Anyway, in the spirit of fairness, I asked my good friend, and SAHD, Eric Jefferson of Dad On the Run to write a list from the other side. He is a wonderful writer and an even wonderfuler friend. After reading his piece, be sure to check out his dad blog, follow him on Twitter, and Facebook.

Eric Jefferson of Dad on the Run

5 Ways Being an At-Home Dad is Supposedly Ruining My Kids

I “retired” from work when my daughter was born over 5 and a half years ago and now have my son (age 2) in the mix as well. Every once in a while I stumble across an article or a conversation where folks are talking about how horrible it is that some kids are stuck home with a father and what damage I must be doing to my children, my family, my marriage and my earning potential. There is a lot of guilt out there to roll around in. If my wife and I really prioritized our kids we should be able to figure something out so she can stay home and I go to work, you know, the way nature intended. It’s really the best gift we could give to our kids and if we love them we should really consider it. They are only going to be kids once, and if we didn't plan on raising our kids the traditional way, why did we have them in the first place?

Seriously, these are things I have heard… or read. The Internet is full of people who think they know things.

The irony in that last sentence aside, here’s the thing: My wife was consulting and traveling 4 days a week while I worked full-time as VP of Operations with an investigative firm before J Bean, my daughter, was born and that didn't seem like a great way of carrying on with children. In the end, an at-home dad arrangement made the most sense for us so we could all be together the most and still maintain the best income. Despite the obvious fact that non-conforming gender roles could ruin our children, we still selfishly decided to give it a go. Sorry Internet. Sorry kids. I guess we fail.

Here are 5 ways the SAHD (stay-at home dad) arrangement is supposedly ruining our children...

1. The house is a wreck.  

Story after story indicates that fathers, even when we stay home, do less than our share of chores. To hear the media tell it, stay home fathers must let kids run around in diapers (the same one all day) or buck naked amidst the pigsty we call home. Oddly, from the inside looking out, I feel that I keep a similar home to most of the at-home mothers I know. Meaning, the house is a complete disaster until 5 minutes before announced visitors arrive and I give a final push before mom gets home when the tyrants allow for it. Both feats are only achieved when I plop the kids in front of the TV with a snack while I wipe and vacuum like the Tasmanian devil on crack. It seems I’m always cleaning up, but the work of doing so with two children is like that of a windshield wiper in a monsoon… as soon as I do it, another mess appears. Clean the kitchen, cook a meal and watch the salad shooters I call offspring spray down the breakfast nook with a fresh layer of oatmeal and strawberries. Fun fact: Oatmeal can easily double as an industrial adhesive.

I do have to admit, my wife would probably keep a cleaner house than I do were she home with the children. However, I have my doubts she would also keep up the lawn, the cat litter, the garbage, the pool and the vehicle. In the end, I like to think that a father’s house may be different, but not necessarily worse than a mother’s. After all, I’m raising children, not trying to make the cover of Southern Living. What I lack in gleaming countertops, I make up for with awesome science projects, home-made dollhouses and hand to hand combat training. 

2. They are always sick (perhaps this is a function of #1?)

There is rarely a time that my kids’ noses aren't running, and at least once a year one of them will begin projectile vomiting which isn’t nearly as fun as paintball, but makes just as big of a mess. Having sick kids means that my wife and I are also often sick. I don’t get it. This is supposed to be a special torture relegated to those selfish working-parents like John and Stevie of Ask Your Dad Blog. 

On one hand, maybe I should keep the kids and the house tidier; on the other hand, a quick leading-question Google search to affirm that my way of parenting is the best brought back this and this. Basically, my “research” shows that if you keep the house cluttered your kids will be more creative and if you let them play in the mud, they’ll be healthier and better able to fend off the super-human Nazi’s (aka: children of working parents) when they get to actual school.

3. An at-home dad will foster gender confusion 

Despite my best attempts at keeping the house dirty for the aforementioned benefits, I occasionally do laundry, dance with a vacuum or scrub enough dishes to unbury the Playstation. During those rare moments, my children are learning a skewed vision of gender roles, and who knows what type of damage this could be causing! My daughter may decide that she wants to be like her Mom and travel the globe as a successful business person  or perhaps she’ll choose a more domestic role, I just hope she decides based on what is best for herself and/or her family rather than what society deems appropiate. My son may become a nurse, or a politician (please, please don’t let him be a politician), or an at-home dad and that’s OK with me. He might decide that making money isn’t his primary “manly” duty! The point is that at-home dads are confusing the Hell out of matters. There are jobs for women and there are jobs for men, period. A fact I’m reminded of everyday through infuriating articles on the interwebs and the awkward facial expressions of some when they learn of my chosen occupation. 

Truth is the whole situation of being an SAHD makes me hyper-aware of gender boxing and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held up the drive-thru under the golden arches as I informed the employee through a scratchy intercom that there is no such thing as a “girl toy” or a “boy toy.” Well, actually I’ve heard “boy toy” used legitimately before, but it’s not something you order off the value menu. This discussion is usually followed by me ordering a pink spider-man toy for my daughter at her request, and something with wheels for my son but that’s not the point! Or maybe it is. In theory, I’m raising androgynous children and in the process I’m ruining their lives. 

4. Our decision will bring financial ruin.

“…dads who left work for even a short period of time to cater to domestic matters earned lower evaluations and more negative performance ratings at work than women who opted out.” (Source: This ridiculous article that came up when I Googled, “What is going to piss me off today?”) 

Some might think that making it to executive level in your career, taking several years off to raise your children and turning down job offers year after year is not a terrible predicament to be in professionally and that there are benefits to having a parent at home. Others would point out that is nonsensical crazy talk. I could have stayed in the workforce and challenged Warren Buffett for his spot on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America. Instead, I’m blowing out flip-flops at the beach with my kids and making cheeseburgers in paradise like Jimmy Buffett. Meanwhile, their educational futures are at stake, not to mention a convertible at age 16! My guilt is mounting… or it would be if our arrangement had not allowed my wife to focus and excel in her own career surpassing with one job what we used to make with two. Note to my children: There still won’t be a convertible. 

5. Children of an at-home dad will never make friends. 

Kids who stay home with dad won’t know how to talk to, much less play with, other children without asking them creepy things about gender stereotypes or the best order to watch Star Wars. (Episode One first? I can’t even look at you.) At-home dads will raise socially awkward children who may very well give up on the whole “school” thing by age 6 and move to deep into the Everglades where they will survive on a diet of crawfish, hand-caught water moccasins, and Beanee Weenees. Those little hermits might go a step further and run around in loin cloths while taking aim at nearby rocket launches with slingshots and cursing the bright orb in the sky. Then again, they might grow up to be some of the most creative and interesting people we could meet. Maybe the truth is that it’s difficult predict the future of a child based on who changes their diapers and repeatedly picks up behind them and whether or not that person has an XY chromosome. With that said, If they do drop off the grid in a fit of anti-social rejection, I hope they get an airboat. I like airboats.  

So yeah, we’re HORRIBLE. I’m a dumb-witted half-man raising children who won’t have any idea how to carry themselves with other children and I spend days languishing in toddler-land when I could be making millions to put them through college. Our house would be better off with a cleaning woman (or man), a lawn service and perhaps an au pair. Luckily, we’re not raising houses so I think we’ll just continue our misguided efforts to raise kids in a way that works for our family even if it ruins them in the process. Don’t all kids deserve our very best swing at having no idea how to make them the best person they can be while not driving us crazy in the process? Perhaps my wife and I aren't really that different from John and Stevie after all. Keep doing what you’re doing Parenting Partners!  

Note: This was not meant to disparage working parents, at-home moms, grandparents, uncles, shoe salesmen or Jimmy Buffett. I think you are all awesome. I think my wife and I are awesome too. Everyone is awesome! I am going to say awesome again. Awesome. 

And one LAST note: Follow me on Facebook. I am 50% more snarky there, and 35% less funny.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5 Ways Daycare is Supposedly Ruining My Kids

Both of our kids go to daycare. They have for most of their short lives. Every once in awhile I stumble across an article or a conversation where folks are talking about how horrible it is that some kids have to go to daycare. There is a lot of guilt out there to roll around in. I know. I know. If Stevie and I really prioritized our kids we should be able to figure something out where one of us could stay home. It’s really the best gift we can could give to our kids and if we love them we should really consider it. They are only going to be kids once, and if we didn't plan on raising our kids, why did we have them in the first place?

Seriously, these are things I have heard… or read. The Internet is full of people who think they know things.

The irony in that last sentence aside, here’s the thing: My wife and I bought a house while we were both employed, and then we had two kids. Our incomes are spoken for. Unless we want to sell the house, or one of our salaries magically doubles in the next year, the kids are going to daycare and preschool. Sorry Internet. Sorry kids. I guess we fail.

Here are 5 ways that us sending our kids to daycare is supposedly ruining them...

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Top 5 Jamba Juice Smoothies

Jamba Juice Strong

Let us talk of juice one last time. This is the final post in my series sponsored by Jamba Juice and Isis Mobile Wallet. We've made videos. We've taken Instagram pictures. I've tweeted. I've posted to Facebook! But most of all, I have consumed a lot of juice over the past month and a half. This post would be funnier if I could complain about all the juice I've tried. But alas, even though the nice folks at Jamba said my reviews should be honest and heartfelt, I can honestly say that I enjoyed my entire Juice Journey. OK, except for the wheat grass. That was made on a dare right?

Here are my five favorite smoothies that I tried! (I've linked all the images to their nutritional facts if you are curious!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

3 Reasons I love My Daddy/Daughter Jamba Juice Time

I wish I could say that the best part of my Juice Journey has been the crazy amount of smoothies that I have eaten over the last month. And that has definitely been an enjoyable part. I have at least tasted every single flavor of smoothie that Jamba Juice offers. They have all been pretty good. Some have been far too sweet for my taste, and the one wheat grass shot tasted far too much like I was licking the bottom of my lawn mower. But other than that, everything has been fruity and delicious.

I am enamored with the veggie fruit smoothies, in particular, Apples and Greens. As many of you know, I have been training for a marathon this spring. After each run I have rejuvenated with an Apples and Green smoothie. Not only is it delicious, it also tastes nothing like Kale - which for me, is a win/win! Later this week I will post my summary of everything I have tried

But like I said, the smoothies have not been the best part of this experience with Jamba Juice. The time I have gotten to spend with my daughter has been. Our weekly daddy daughter date to PaJamba Juice is something I am going to continue long after I have to start paying for them again. Here are a few reasons why.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Shopping Online for Mother's Day is Great Thanks to Walmart

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart and Walmart Foundation for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Duchess Shopping at Walmart

I struggle with Mother's Day gifts every year. I want my gifts to be thoughtful. I want them to mean something more than what they actually are. I want the moms in my life to like them. That is why, after last year's endless quest to find the perfect gift, I gave up. There is no perfect gift for Mother's Day, because no one object can contain or properly reflect the amount of love I and my kids' have for their mom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Zach Rosenberg is a Really Nice Guy

Zach Rosenberg is a really nice guy.
Zach Rosenberg is a really nice guy.

I want to tell you about my good friend, and pink robe aficionado, Zach Rosenberg. He is a fellow dad blogger and one of the two creators of 8 Bit Dad. Zach has been reading my blog since it was a teeny tiny blip on the internet. If you go back to my super early posts, you will see his comments.