Sunday, January 29, 2017

Get Stuff Done With Verizon FiOS Instant Internet

I didn't mean for it to happen so quickly so I'm glad it did. I came back from a wonderful Christmas holiday buoyed by the spirit of the season looking forward to the new year. What I didn't know was in roughly three days time after returning, I'd be interviewing for my first job in eight and a half years after being a stay at home dad during that time.

I was a little scared, a lot nervous, but excited at all the same time. Was I prepared for this? Only time would tell whether I was up to speed on today's youth. I haven't totally stopped teaching during the last eight years. I've volunteered plenty in my kid's classrooms and even have volunteered as the art teacher for our church's vacation bible school the last two years.

Well, it turns out that I got the job. I would be teaching Graphic Design to high school students. It has been a long time since I have tackled Adobe Illustrator so I knew I had to brush up on my techniques so that I could pass what I know onto the kids.

Teaching, as you can imagine requires lots and lots of research and preparation. It's time spent writing lesson plans, researching techniques online, and filling out lots of documentation prior to your start. In the days leading up to my position's start date, I spent time talking to a friend online about lesson plans and his approach with his students. I talked to him over the phone for almost two hours getting the lowdown on what teaching Graphic Design is like almost a decade later.

I combed lessons on Pinterest, I watched endless videos on YouTube, and I spent lots of time setting up a cool new feature that more and more teachers are employing, Google Classroom. Google Classroom is a virtual classroom that allows teachers to upload assignments, communicate with individual students, grade work remotely stored on their Google Drive, and grade work from afar.

Gone of the days are handouts and copiers. Create all your documents in Google Docs and you can upload the assignment right to the Google Classroom. If you set a date and a student turns it in late, it records the date and time that they upload it right there in your record and sends you an email letting you know!

Of course with all this renewed online activity, I needed an internet provider that isn't going to slow down when I am speeding up. That's why I have Verizon FiOS and if you live in Philadelphia like me, you might have Instant Internet available to you already. Instant Internet is different than any internet other providers can offer. Up to 750 mbps Upload AND Download speeds mean no waiting for videos to load and you can share your content with others just as fast.

Do you have a lot of devices that share bandwidth? With Verizon FiOS Instant Internet, you can have 100 devices streaming content at the same time. My wife can work on her laptop, myself on my PC, and the kids can all watch movies or play apps on their devices so we can get work done. With all that speed you can get a lot of stuff done and still enjoy streaming your movies later because your work will be done in no time. Go to today and get rid of your slow connection and into the fast lane with Verizon FiOS Instant Internet.

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Watch Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events

If I were you, I wouldn't read this post. There is bound to be any number of things you could be doing right now instead of reading this, and I suggest you do it for what I am about to tell you about is most unfortunate. The Baudelaire Family and their misadventures are the absolute epitome of a train wreck. Epitome means a perfect example but I'm sure you already knew that. They are the reason why everyone slows down on the highway and rubbernecks to see what happened hoping that they can piece together the events that have unfolded. The same could be said for their new series on Netflix. There are just some things in this world that are mysteries that cannot be explained.

1. Neil Patrick Harris 

If you loved him in How I Met Your Mother or Doogie Howser M.D. this show is not for you. His character Count Olaf is a dastardly villain hellbent on obtaining the Baudelaire Family's immense fortune and he will go to any lengths to get it.

2. Melina Weissman and Louis Hynes 

Violet and Klaus Baudelaire are portrayed, that means they are acting, by Melina and Louis respectively. If you don't like child actors who perfectly capture the essence of their characters you should not watch this show. Even Neil Patrick Harris can barely stand working with them.

3. Presley Smith 

I mean, come on Netflix! Who wants to watch a perfectly adorable baby steal the show by saying unintelligible things during the show that are completely hilarious? You are really running out of ideas here. I only really got excited in the episode when Sunny was put into a giant bird cage and suspended from the top of the roof.

4. Patrick Warburton

Your choice for Lemony Snicket as the narrator, that means the person telling the story, in a perfect deadpan manner despite all the horrible things that happen to the children along the way is questionable. He's mysterious about his past and his appearances prior to flashbacks or missing parts of the story really help you understand the events that are unfolding. Hearing it from Lemony Snicket's side while things happen is probably the perfect way to tell this story.

5. The Cameos 

How do you make a show successful? You parade in a bunch of our favorite actors and actresses to keep our attention. We get it, we love that the cast isn't a bunch of has-been actors like Count Olaf. SPOILER ALERT: With appearances by Joan Cusack and others, you are trying to keep us guessing about who might appear in Season 2. Thanks for getting us hooked on the show. Sheesh.

6. The Costumes of Count Olaf 

Yessica Haircut is probably my favorite character that the renowned actor, Count Olaf plays in the series but it gets confusing every time Olaf appears when the children move on after another Series of Unfortunate Events happen and we are introduced to a new character. Neil Patrick Harris plays so many different people that I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't know who he was by the end of the day.

7. The Elaborate Sets 

Nothing could capture this very rich and amazingly detailed book like elaborate sets. If you are a fan of the setting, these are about as lavish as they come. You're probably used to regular TV so it may take some time to adjust to the elegance of the visuals in this series. This is normal and you may have to look away repeatedly until you assimilate.

8.  These Two Creepy Ladies 

Count Olaf's henchman are among the most dishonorable humans you could come across but nothing sends a shiver down my spine more than these twins who finish each other's sentences. Thanks for the nightmares!

9. This Eyeball Symbol

If mysteries are something you like, then this infernal appearance of this symbol in the series over and over again will drive you insane. My kids keep asking me what it means but I really have no idea and every time we get close to figuring something out, we lose another clue. So, the only recourse is that I have to keep watching. Sigh. 

10.  The Power of the Underdog 

The Baudelaire children has lots of bad stuff happen to them including losing their parents to a terrible fire which sets off these misadventures in the first place. But, you won't be able to look away. You'll want to see how Violet's mechanical know-how, Klaus' book knowledge, and Sunny's super sharp teeth get them out of trouble over and over again. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Reign Supreme at Dinnertime With Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups

I'm master of my domain. I am the king of my castle. I'm the chef and my family relies on me to get dinner on the table. You would think as a king, I'd get a break from preparing the meals but it's quite the opposite. My subjects are always taken care of at the end of the day. This is why I am the #KingOfSoup.

After school there is homework, music lessons, and extracurricular activities so when they come home from a long day, food on the table needs to be there and it needs to be something that we all feel good about eating. When it's rush, rush, rush in our house it's hard to provide food for three hangry kids and two starving adults with not lots of time before it starts all over again.

Getting dinner on the table in a timely manner can either make or break you as a parent. Our kids are perpetually hungry so stretching out time between meals can be difficult.  The easy but unhealthy choice is opting for fast food because in five minutes, how can I whip something up that will sate their appetite?

You'll be happy to find out, that thanks to Idahoan®  Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups five minutes is all it takes to make that happen. Delicious quality ingredients make this soup the star of the table. It's filled with real Idaho® red potatoes and potato skins and those are ingredients you can see the first time you make the soup.

All it takes is four cups of boiling water and a package of  Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soup which comes in four delicious varieties including Creamy Potato, Loaded Potato, Cheddar Broccoli, and Three Cheese Chipotle. These delicious flavors bring that authentic all day to make steakhouse soup to your table in the comfort of your own home without slaving over a hot stove and prepping ingredients all day long.

Keep your kingdom happy and your royal subjects full with all varieties of Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soup and turn your home into a steakhouse with these quick and easy to make packages of premiums soups.

Disclaimer: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods for this campaign, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Daddy Is Home

It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in some time; this tiny human clutching to my pant legs fearful that I am about to leave. “Daddy, you’re NOT a teacher, you’re a stay at home dad forever!” she cried out. She tells me this as I have one foot out of the door, the very same foot that is about to take the first step back to work in almost a decade.

For the past eight and a half years we have spent every waking moment together. So many times I walked that hallway in the pitch black tossing off my covers at the first sign of distress. I’d creep in the room with a minefield of toys, barely lit by a three- watt nightlight bulb to sometimes find her sound asleep or having night terrors.  I’d brush the hair from her face with my hand and stroke her temple until she nuzzled it back. “Daddy is here” I’d whisper quietly and she would nestle down into the covers as if she were a tiny caterpillar in a cocoon.  

Sometimes a mid-night cry was just her blanket coming off or the flu rearing its ugly head at the wee hours of the morning. There was always a certain comfort that came from her calling out to me in the night. As much as I complained at the time, I’m glad I was there.

Now, here I am walking away from her for the first morning in all that time a little bleary and teary eyed at the thought of being apart. Would she eventually accept that her dad, who has been there for flu shots, doctor’s appointments, emergency room visits and the like still always be there for her?

I used to live in track pants and a hoodie, the equivalent of a stay at home dad’s life to yoga pants and an over-sized sweater. And now, that I’m headed back to work, I’ve found a use for all those ties in my closet that have languished on the lonely tie rack unused and only taken out on Sundays. As cool as I look in ties as a teacher, I have to say that I miss my hoodie at bit. The transition for my daughter has also been tough. “Why are you dressed so fancy?” she asked quizzically. when she saw me after school. "Because I'm a teacher now, honey" I say as she skips alongside me to the car. "No you're not, you're a stay at home dad." 

It’s hard to change what you know so quickly. Going back to work has been like a week old Band-aid ripped from the flesh; a little jarring but necessary. Sometimes when something becomes too familiar, it is time for a change.

And that’s what it feels like now when I pick up my daughter. That sensation I haven’t experienced since my older two kids were in daycare and I’d go to collect them. The way their faces would light up when they saw me and come running for my legs.  That feeling came back to me today in a sea of elementary school kids when I called her name, she turned as if in slow motion, her eyes lighting up with comprehension and she came barreling towards my legs. 

Some things are still familiar. The hugs are still the same and the love for each other will always be there. When I come home, I get back to what is familiar. I shed my work clothes and don my Russell Performance Fleece hoodie. It’s like a hug to my new self and a reminder that I have changed but that I’ll always still be myself.  

It’s especially helpful when we are snuggled together on the couch, enjoying a book and some quiet time together. I still do lots of things in my hoodie that I used to do. I still do the girls' hair in the morning.  I still cook our family meals and clean the house in it. I play Barbies in it and romp around in the snow.  

It's what a Russell #Dadlete would do, donning the very thing that makes him confident in himself. I like mine because it's warm, it has a media cord solution for the times I am working around the house and most of all because it comes in Big and Tall sizes. I hate it when I find the right sized hoodie only to have it shrink up on me after one wash. 

I wore it on our final Friday together with the old schedule, making the last symbolic snowman named Fred together in the front yard with snow that wasn't made for snowballs let alone snowmen. I watched her crawl around the front yard willing a fist sized snowball into a respectable base for Fred.

I got a chill watching her though it wasn't because of the hoodie at all. The interior lined fleece kept myself plenty warm while I made snow angels with her. I’d like to think that donning the Russell Performance hooded sweatshirt is a reminder to her that Daddy didn’t go anywhere and that he’s still here for her to keep her safe and warm.