Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Care Always Wins : An Interview with Kevin Butler

If you grew up in Chicago in the 80s like I did, the 1985 Chicago Bears are a part of your DNA. I come from a lineage of Bears fans who yell at the TV when something goes wrong, my second vinyl album ever was The Superbowl Shuffle,  and V-neck sweaters in blue and orange were expected attire. The first three words I tried to teach my son when he started talking were Sweetness, Bears, and Ditka.  I, like many of my fellow Chicagoans are living, breathing Superfans when it comes to our football team. 

So, it comes as no surprise that when Dada Mike asked me if I would be interested in interviewing Kevin Butler, the kicker of the 85 team, I got pumped like Mike Singletary on game day.  Kevin is part of Dove Men + Care’s program called Care Always Wins which stresses the importance of caring relationships between players and coaches and sportsmanship above winning. Since the 1985 team was so dominant and had superior coaching, I was curious to see how his experience in the NFL transferred to his son and other kids he is teaching in this program. 

According to Kidshealth.com, 90 percent of children in the U.S. say that a coach should care about more about players than simply winning a game. In your experience with a coach like Mike Ditka, how did being on a team with his personality motivate the players on that team?  

Kevin Butler: I believe most teams are a direct reflection of their head coach. Head coaches are there to create a drive in respect of the game and the success of the team. Coach Ditka was a great motivator on and off the field. He made sure the players knew that playing in the NFL was a privilege and should be treated that way. Coach Ditka only asked the players to do the things he did when he was a player. The respect he showed the game and his players was the same respect he demanded from his players towards the game and themselves on and off the field.

As your son became involved in football how important did it become to you, that your child had a positive role model who exemplified sportsmanship over winning?  Who was that coach to you?

Kevin Butler: As my son got involved in football the first thing that I wanted him to understand was that sportsmanship, above all, was the most important character. I wanted him to know that football is full of ups and downs and he need to be confident in his ability and the outcome, no matter what that outcome was. Understanding that things cannot always go the way you want is very important as football throws you curves all the time.

My father was my first coach and he taught me life lessons and that I wanted to teach Drew when he first began his football career.

How important is a program like Care Always Wins to the game of football now? With so many negative stories surrounding athletes these days, do you think that this initiative will have an impact on future players? Do you think that the stereotypical hard nosed coach like Bear Bryant is a thing of the past?

Kevin Butler: I think programs like the Dove Men+Care Deodorant ‘Care Always Win’ campaign truly capture the importance of coaching in the sports world today. The program honors coaches who foster a caring environment and is putting them at the forefront – showcasing that a coach’s care has the power to ease irritations and frustrations that arise in sports. In fact, their antiperspirant products provide care to help end everyday underarm irritation, so coaches and players can stay focused on bringing their best to the game. I think a program like this could most definitely have an impact on future players. It is critical for every coach to understand their players and recognize what it takes to help them grow both on and off the field – while eliminating irritations!

Bear Bryant, Coach Ditka and other coaches from their era are coaches from the past. I believe with our youth today coaches are always challenged with adapting to the personality and lifestyles that have changed greatly. Our youth are motivated in different ways and the best coaches adapt to those changes. Bear Bryant certainly would be a coach who could and did adapt to those changes, even in his era.

The 85 team in Chicago is revered as the greatest team to ever play football. What were the main reasons why the 85 Bears were able to be so dominant?

Kevin Butler: The domination of the 85 Chicago Bears was due to the tremendous drive from each individual on the team, combined with our team goal of settling for nothing less than a championship. The different individuals on the team, along with the coaches, shared that common goal and did not let anything deter them from reaching that. That is the strongest character that any football team can have and every championship team holds.

I asked my dad, who is also a die hard Bears fan what he would ask you if given a chance. He wants to know how much credit should go to Coach Ditka for making that team so successful?

Kevin Butler: I believe Coach Ditka, along with coach buddy Ryan, deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the success of the Chicago Bears during the 80s. The focus that Coach Ditka brought to the team and keeping us all on the same course was the underlying factor to our success.

You are the Bears all time leading scorer with 1, 116 points. Do you think anyone will ever catch you? If you could pick a Bear who has a chance to surpass you who would it be and why?

Kevin Butler: I know that Robbie Gould will break my record this year as the placekicker for the Chicago Bears. Robbie has been consistent and one of the best placekickers in NFL history and with his longevity, he will surpass my record this year.

In all your time as a kicker, you never had anyone return one of your kickoffs for a touchdown. How did you manage to do that and was that a product of the era that you played in or your mad kicking skills?

Kevin Butler:  One of my records that will never be broke as a Chicago Bear is not allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown. The only way I manage that was being a little bit crazy and have always played football so I understood tackling and not letting my teammates down. Plus, the players were a little slower back then.

You've won a Super Bowl and had an exceptional career in Chicago. What has been your greatest accomplishment in life as a dad?

Kevin Butler: I have had many successes in football, but my greatest success in life is being a husband and a father to three beautiful successful children and supporting them and giving them the opportunity to succeed in reaching their personal goals. 

When are you coming to Pennsylvania so I can get a chance to wear that '85 ring?  

Kevin Butler: My corporate headquarters are in Pennsylvania, so I'll let you know. You can always put                the 85 ring on.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shroom With A View Burger

If there is one thing my kids will actually eat, it is vegetables. Yeah, I know. My kids are weird. My wife and I attribute their propensity to scarf down anything they can grow in our backyard to her strange cravings of broccoli and milkshakes during her pregnancy. Somehow, that combination translated as "delicious" to my kids while in utero.

As a kid I never really cared for meat. When the sides would come, I would load up on vegetables. Steak at my parent's house was always accompanied by mushrooms. And while I would force the steak in, I would heartily attack the mushrooms with reckless abandon. Sauteed mushrooms with a little butter and onions...and well, my keyboard is wet from the drool.

The Mushroom Council is celebrating #ShroomTember this month. There were so many things that I learned about mushrooms that I never knew before especially when it came to their nutritional value and their blendability.

Nutrition - Mushrooms bring important nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants to the plate without adding significant calories, fat and cholesterol.

Sodium – Mushrooms are low in sodium, plus their umami counterbalances saltiness and allows for less salt to be used in a dish, without compromising flavor.
  • Umami is a fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Derived from the Japanese word umami, meaning “delicious,” umami is described as a savory, brothy, rich or meaty taste sensation. 
  • “Tasting Success with Cutting Salt,” a collaborative report from the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, recognizes cooking with umami-rich ingredients, like mushrooms, as a way to boost flavor without adding salt.
Gluten Free – Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains.
  • Like all fruits and vegetables, mushrooms are naturally gluten free, and make a delicious and nutritious addition to a gluten-free diet. 
The only exception when it came to meat for me, was hamburger. It was my grandma's go-to meal when we were coming to visit. With four boys coming with bottomless stomachs, hamburger was always on the menu. Walk through my grandma's kitchen on our first night there and burgers would be sizzling in the skillet while she tried to plant you with kisses.

Come to my house for a barbeque and you are going to get burgers. Want to know how I rate a restaurant? How good is their burger? So when Life of Dad and The Mushroom Council were seeking recipes for #ShroomTember's contest for greatest burger, I felt compelled, nay obligated to demonstrate my knowledge of burgerhood. I give you:

Olive oil
Large Portabello Mushroom caps
1 lb Lean Ground Beef or other meat (see vegetarian option below)
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 TBSP chopped garlic
Goat cheese spread
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper
Kaiser rolls

Gently brush off any dirt with a brush or dry towel. Washing can add excess water.
Sprinkle olive oil on the mushroom caps lightly
Marinate balsamic vinegar with meat choice (vegetarian option, use just the mushroom cap)
Using a tbsp of olive oil, saute the onions until caramelized set 1/2 of it aside
Add the garlic towards the end and cook together 2 minutes, set aside
Mix meat and onion/garlic mixture to make a hamburger patty
Warm grill and grill burger and caps. Grill caps with fin side up. Mushroom will tell you when it is ready to be flipped when moisture pools on its surface and bubbles. Flip over to grill other side
Once done, add lettuce/tomato and place burger on bun
Spread goat cheese on top of burger
Sprinkle remaining onion/garlic mixture on top of goat cheese

Vegetarian Option: Grill only the caps, marinated in balsamic vinegar, replacing all meat with portabello mushroom. Toppings are still the same.

**Be sure to join us for the #ShroomTember Twitter party on September 23rd at 1PM EST to learn all about the great recipes and to win some cool prizes**

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad, LLC for the #ShroomTember promotion. Sponsored by The Mushroom Council, the #ShroomTember promotion gives anybody the chance to win a $500 Visa gift card.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confessions of a Dad Blogger

I can feel the weight of it resting in my pocket. It's heft comforts me when I feel it resting at my side, like a modern day gunslinger. I draw from the hip to shoot a photo or to share any original thought that has popped into my head since the last time I posted, which was only a few minutes ago. My hand automatically reaches for it when there is that empty void in space and time called silence. Often, I catch myself reaching for it when I should just keep looking with my own eyes. It is always calling to me and I can't stop answering.

Sometimes, I just need to touch it to make sure it is still there. Once, I left it at home and realized that without it, I felt disconnected and unsafe. I had no quarters and I kept thinking. "Quarters? Where would I even use those?" I can't remember when was the last time I even saw a payphone.

Sometimes, I forget that I put it in a different pocket and I have a small panic attack that it is lost. The anxiety built around something that is supposed to be for pleasure often beckons to me to answer its call. It was there the whole time of course, waiting for me to pick it up. To be comforted by the clicks and swipes, of so many seconds, minutes, and hours of the day spent looking at this tiny window.

I can see it blinking out of the corner of my eye, or am I imagining it? Has someone commented or liked something I posted? Has anyone read my blog today or left a comment? What is everyone one else in the entire world up to RIGHT NOW?

I have a problem. I'm addicted to my phone, the internet, the connection to a place that exists inside a cloud; a place of wire and megabytes. It is a place of intangible worth with generated scores of your worth and a rank of life where your words and actions recorded serve as the benchmark for how all others see you.

Stand outside any social gathering and people aren't bumming smokes anymore, they are checking Facebook and sending pictures on Instagram like their technological pusher.

Do you want to alienate the person you are with? Just pull out your phone and put it on the table. Try to sneak a game in while you are waiting for an appointment. Try to check it when they aren't looking or excuse yourself to the bathroom so you can check your email in peace. You're not paranoid. People are coming out of the bathroom wired from duckface selfies and Candy Crush high scores and everyone knows it.

I regularly get reprimanded by my wife who catches me looking at it. My kids often tell me to get off the phone so I can play with them. I try to justify having it out by saying I am taking a picture or trying to capture a moment instead of just being in the moment. I say, "I'll put it down in a second" but I know it's a lie. In those moments I'm deciding whether they belong to my family or me. I'm a failure and I can't stop using.

How can you be a successful dad blogger without you being tied to a device? How can you limit your interactions with cyberspace when so much of it depends on the here and now? Engage, engage, engage or you will lose likes and become irrelevant.  How can I be engaged without being disengaged from what truly matters which are my relationships with people and more importantly, my relationship with my family?

Engagement drives your success in the cloud but it can also hurt your relationships back on earth. At conventions and events where social media is important, I find comfort in seeing other bloggers looking down and not out. But, it's the disappointment in myself when I am not in those situations where the real addiction surfaces. Why am I trying to fill every crack in time with something?

I learned early on through our pre-marital classes that we all have love languages. I discovered that I highly valued words of affirmation. As a person who thrives on positive feedback as a way to feel loved this is a dangerous combination for me, as I constantly seek validity that what I am doing is worthwhile.

This is how social media has created a simultaneous feeling of pleasure and pain for me. Accolades by peers and attention lead to a sense of euphoria, a high that is hard to maintain. I need that fix. I am a junkie.

The very nature of the internet makes it easy to get and I know it is always available. It's right there in my pocket, waiting for me to pick up. It is still calling me. The question is, am I strong enough to not to answer it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Britax Revolutionizes Car Seats By Getting Creative

There is nothing like that feeling of having a child.  There is that feeling that no matter what it would take that you would protect that little person at any cost. As many new parents find out though, we suddenly realize that when he head to the car to take them home for the first time, we realize we have no idea what we are doing.  Did we install the carseat the right way? What will happen if we didn’t? Are we  going to totally fail as parents? Why didn't we memorize that car seat manual when we had the chance?
All of our stuff from our baby shower sat in the corner of our dining room for what seemed like an eternity. Then, the day came and while my wife was screaming in pain on the way to the hospital, I forgot everything I was studying in preparation for that very moment. I'm not even sure to this day that I parked the car in a safe area when we finally did make it to the hospital. Kids have a way of changing your plans.

I used to cram with my wife before the baby was born. We read What To Expect When You're Expecting and poured over what Dr. Spock said about expectations. But with all the information you read up on to prepare yourself for that child, all this stuff gets log jammed in your brain. Pretty soon you are sympathy eating ice cream out of the freezer with a giant oversized spoon with the kind you would use when your college roommate refused to do the dishes.

Car seats have pretty much been the same since our first child but Britax has changed all that with the revolutionary ClickTight Installation system. When something kid related comes around that changes the game, parents will want to take notice. Ever see something kid related and think "Man, I wish I had  invented that!"  The Harness-2-Booster seat did that for me and the installation blew my mind.
Fumbling with latches, and trying to get them secure is a hassle not to mention that when you have to transfer one seat from one car to another, you wonder if it is really worth the trouble.  ClickTight takes the guesswork out of installing it properly and what is even better is that it is just as easy to remove. Open the panel, stretch the safety belt across it, and snap down the panel. That's it! 

We took our first car trip with the new seat towards the end of the summer. Our three year old loved the armrests built in to her seat and she could ride comfortably.  As a guy who looks into the cupholder situation when it comes to new cars, the Frontier 90 has ample cup holders on both sides with a recessed area for toys or juice boxes with just the right size for little hands to access.

What is even better is that this car seat will grow with our daughter because it is a Harness - 2 - Booster model.  With a weight limit of 90 lbs in harness mode and a weight limit of 120 pounds in booster mode, Britax is counting on being in your family's life for a long time.   Another nice feature is the ability to remove the cover without removing all of the straps. With our little ones eating in the car and dropping endless snacks down the black hole that we call the seat, it's nice to have that option without disassembling the entire thing just to get it clean again.

Britax is a company my family and I have been investing in since the kids were small. With the wide variety of car seats, infant carriers, and strollers we know that each item upholds the quality and craftsmanship we have come to expect from them.  Not only that, but Britax invests in dads in ways that some brands do not.  For my personal Philly Dads Group, they are sending a representative to teach dads about car seat safety as well as supporting National Babywearing Week by sponsoring 11 cities across the country with Meetup events centered around babywearing. That is brand that shows me that while I am investing in them, they are also investing in me by building a relationship beyond just a consumer.

Does that sound like a company you would want to be involved with? Now is your chance. Britax is offering a giveaway of the very car seat, the Frontier 90 Harness -2- Booster that they let me test!

Enter the giveaway below for your chance. Entrants must be at least 18 years old and be a US resident only. One winner will be chosen at random. Winner will be notified via the email address they provided. The winner must respond within 24 hours with a mailing address and phone number to confirm their winning or a new winner will be chosen. Product will be mailed directly from the supplier to the winner.

FTC Disclaimer: I received a Frontier 90 car seat from Britax in exchange for the review of this product. All opinions are my own and I wish I could fit in this car seat because it's really cool! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 8, 2014

Everyone Knows That Hitting Is Wrong

Image from Sportsastoldbyagirl.com

For my son and especially my daughters let me make this clear, a man should never hit a woman. Period. We've taught you this lesson since you were very young that hands are for helping not hitting. We teach keep your hands to yourself and to be kind to others. If hitting someone to solve a problem is your decision, you are the problem.

Seeing the Ray Rice video is sickening though we didn't need to see it to know what happened. If a man hits you, that's it. It's over. Relationship done. Once a man becomes physical with you he proves that he doesn't really love you because he has every intention on hurting you.

We saw what happened in his press conference where his teammates stood behind him. I doubt that many will after seeing this video. I would lose instant respect for anyone who did. Beating anyone and especially a woman is deplorable.

Victims of spousal abuse often stick up for their abusers. We've already seen it when the very same woman who he knocked out after a brutal punch to the face, forgave him and pleaded to not take away his husband's livelihood. Even after being knocked unconscious by the man she believes she loves, she still married him. If that doesn't seem wrong to you, you are wrong.

Ray Rice is not a man of virtue or responsibility for his actions. He's just another example of person who grew up but never became a man. An NFL player who has a sense of entitlement that he can't be touched because he is an athlete is an epidemic that is running rampant in an organization that is consistently inconsistent.  Roger Goodell owes it to everyone to remove Ray Rice from the NFL completely.

A brutal attack like this would warrant anyone else to be fired in any other job. The NFL's response that they "hadn't seen the Ray Rice video until today" is questionable. Goodell, you are still "not getting it right" by any stretch of the imagination. This is the kind of standards we have come to expect from your organization.

Even the newest of parents know that if you love and respect someone, hitting is never acceptable. Children are growing up in a world where we are trying to teach love and respect only to see athletes they admire demonstrate time and again they should never be looked up to. The NFL has been fraught with bullying, cheating, lying, and murder and it needs to be fixed.

Discipline is only effective when it is consistent, every parent knows this so why is it so hard for the NFL to "get it right"? Do the right thing and set the example for any bad behavior. Ray Rice doesn't need a two minute time out, he needs to be grounded indefinitely. You owe that to young men trying to learn what it means to be a man. You owe to our daughters to keep them protected. You owe that to his wife. You owe that to all women.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

DIY Duct Tape Lightsabers

As a Star Wars fan and geek, I passed my love for these movies to my children at an early age.  As soon as my son could grasp a lightsaber, I was pulling my Darth Vader helmet out of storage and teaching my son the ways of the Force.  Pulling the old toys out from the attic has given me that rush back to when I was a kid, building bases with my younger brother and pretending that our backyard was Endor.

As a taller child, I was pegged at Chewbacca to my friend's Han. It was only fair since he had the Han Solo blaster that everyone wanted. My crossbow was just two sticks tied together with string but it worked. With good old ingenuity and our imaginations, anything was possible.

When my son was five, the Clone Wars series was just being revealed to the younger generations through cartoons and pajamas.  When it came to the toys that I knew and loved, the lightsabers that used to hum when you would twirl them seemed like an unnecessary expense, especially when our lightsaber battles would end in telescoping parts getting destroyed and tears...by me.

As an artist and generally crafty guy, I figured that I could make my own alternative pretty cheaply and I created something that was virtually indestructible out of the greatest of material, duct tape. Thus was born, the DIY Duct Tape Lightsaber.

Materials needed:

2 Cardboard paper towel rolls
Duct tape - Your choice in color for blade. Black and silver for handles (or whatever you decide)
Packing paper or newspaper for stuffing, heavy cardboard for interior support


1) Bend one paper towel roll slightly at the end so that you can slide one roll over the other. Tape it into place at the desired length. If your child is bigger, you can use more paper towel rolls. Just be advised, the longer it gets, the more unstable it becomes.

2) Fill the inside with packing paper or newspaper making sure it is compact. For more stability, place a corrugated cardboard strip in the center that runs the length of the tube and pack on either side with newspaper.

3)  Tape both ends with the color you will use for the blade, closing the tube. Then, start wrapping the duct tape around the paper towel roll, making sure to overlap by at least one quarter the width of the tape and going over the ends to essentially seal them.

4) On the handle end, wrap the handle in your color, I chose black, in the same way only go one quarter the total length, this will be the handle. You can use your child's hand size as a judge. , or whatever color you decide

5)  Using the silver duct tape or other accent color, add details for handle by tearing smaller rectangles or squares and staggering the pattern letting some of the black (or other color) you put down first show through.

With all the options in duct tape colors these days, you can customize your own to your liking. My girls each wanted pink and purple lightsabers and the duct tape possibilities now are endless.

You can customize yours to your child's size by pushing the two cardboard rolls closer together or make a double ended lightsaber like Darth Maul by adding a third! If you are having a birthday party, these are cheap and easy projects to do which are virtually indestructible. When they do get stepped on or the dog takes an interest in them, just make another one!

Want to see more #HesCrafty projects by dads like me? Check out my Facebook page for more duct tape crafts and posts about dad related stuff!