Friday, June 30, 2017

9 Steps to Anniversary Present Success

I'm not one for stereotypes. I don't  like the ones that paint the dad as a doofus who can't do anything right. I roll my eyes at the ones that are hands off from their children or who don't know their kids at all when it comes to gifts. The same could be said for the men who can't seem to remember the day that they asked one person to spend the rest of their life with them.

Men, it's your anniversary. If there is only one thing you remember that you did with your wife, make sure the anniversary date never passes you by without doing SOMETHING special. The reason your partner is making such a big deal right now is because you can memorize Wade Boggs' batting average in 1987 but out of 365 days every year, this one day escapes your memory.

All it takes is a little creativity and some research. In other words. Effort.

Dinner and a movie has been done before. Most likely in many years of you dating each other you've supped together and caught a flick. As your love is growing and time passes, your game needs to change.

If you are a truly lost cause, follow my nine steps to a successful anniversary experience.

Step 1 - Follow Tradition

My wife is a traditional person but I'm an unconventional gift giver. I like to start with tradition and then put my own spin on it. If you look up "traditional wedding anniversary" as a search, you will find sites that list,  materials that were traditionally given to the bride for each consecutive year. This is also listed in my wife's favorite book to give to new couples, Emily Post's Etiquette Book. It's not because you are an uncouth heathen but we all forget time to time which fork is for salad and which one is for dinner.

Step 2 - Living in a Material World 

The first year of marriage is traditionally marked by the groom gifting something made out of paper. Suggestions for this type of gift can mean note cards that feature both of your names, framing your wedding announcement, or having everyone sign a frame who attended your wedding and getting a picture mounted. While those are nice, I chose to draw a portrait of the both of us from our wedding and had it framed. Not Jack from Titanic? There are plenty of artists on Instagram, Etsy, and Google who would love to draw one for you.

Step 3 - Get Creative

Not every year is as easy as paper. By the time you reach cotton, you'll wonder if giving Q-Tips is an acceptable present. It isn't, but for this year I put a spin on cotton, pun intended. Cotton could mean a lot of things. For us, we knew that by April of the following year, we would be having a son. So, I packed a baby doll in a tiny polo shirt and put a cotton diaper on him. Inside the diaper, I hid a ring that had his birthstone in it. See, there are no rules!

Step 4 - But I Have No Ideas! 

By the third year, I ran into leather and my mind went to some crazy places. This year, I challenged her to come up with a gift for me with the traditional material in mind. I gave her a purse and she gave me a baseball glove. Best Anniversary Ever! There is bound to be a gift somewhere on the internet that is made out of leather. But, be discreet. Google searches for leather gifts may start to make her wonder if you've been reading Fifty Shades of Gray behind her back.

Step 5 - Big Box Stores Are Not A One Stop Shop 

Year seven had me scratching my head. Copper? I already have lots of that in my house which supplies her drinking water. That's good enough right? Here's a little tip: ETSY. Enter the word copper jewelry and you'll discover handmade one of a kind pieces that show you are putting some thought into this. Crafty? Make it yourself from supplies from a craft or art store. This year, I found a necklace with a swallow and three birds eggs which represented our kids. The nest was made entirely out of copper! I'm a genius!

Step 6 - Keep Your Mind Out of the Gutter 
(Unless She Likes That)

Year five had me chuckling. Wood. I have the perfect present for her. Ha ha ha. Erm. Sorry, got sidetracked there. Wood frames, a raised garden bed, that fence she has wanted to keep the neighbor's dog from making your grass it's bathroom. Lots of things are made of wood. This should be easy.

Step 7 - I'm Modern, Not Traditional 

Okay, so you're not interested in giving paper dolls or a cotton spun 300 thread sheets for your new house. Luckily, there are modern spins on traditional gifts. When I got to this year I realized that giving her ivory was not going to happen. Instead, I found a way to support the animals that were hunted for their ivory by donating to an elephant sanctuary instead. As a symbol of the 14 years together and never forgetting, I bought an elephant made by an organization called Ornaments for Orphans and purchased matching his and her Tiles so we'd never forget our keys or wallets.

Step 8 - Don't Always Go For Gifts

The older we get the more we realize that gifts are good stuff but experiences together are harder to come by. Plan a weekend alone close to your house, or like my wife organized, do a giant zipline together from the top of a mountain and if you survive, you can go to dinner with each other later. Spending time away from the kids (if you have them) is a gift in itself and the time spent together can help you reconnect with each other. You know, how it was when you were dating each other. That was fun wasn't it?

Step 9 - Staycation

Don't want to spend a bunch of money on a trip away? Have the grandparents take the kids for a weekend and stay home to watch what you want to watch on TV, surf the internet to your heart's delight, and stream movies and order food online. With Verizon FiOS' Gigabit Connection you can use the 300 mbps to use all the devices without any interruption. Now, if only FiOS could help you keep the kids out of the bathroom while you are using it!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Verizon FiOS in Philadelphia. All opinions expressed are my own. #FiOSPhilly

Friday, June 16, 2017

My Daughters Changed Me for the Better

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion.

My wife is someone who can't wait. She reads the end of the book before diving into the front. She will research a movie and it's entire synopsis with spoilers just so she knows what to expect. If a movie is too stressful, she fast forwards past the tense parts and if she is watching with me, will physically leave the room and return to the rest of the movie after my cliff notes version of what actually happened.

It can be no surprise then, that when our first child's due date was rapidly approaching that we tried multiple times to get a sneak peek of what was between those baby's legs in a 3-D ultrasound. In our first attempt, he blocked it from view with a crossing of the legs but the second time he was ready to let his mom know what was about to happen. We were about to have a boy.

I remember the feeling when the technician turned and said "It's a boy"I literally jumped off the ground and probably did a fist pump while my wife shook her head and said something practical like, "We will just be grateful that he is born healthy" I probably nodded my head and tentatively lowered my fist.

It didn't REALLY matter whether we were having a boy or girl, did it?

I felt a certain amount of comfort with my son. I grew up with three brothers and was familiar with the equipment. Our son was a joy. He was so well behaved and did so many cute things that soon, we had the baby bug again. We quickly got to work and in no time were expecting our second child.

This time on the 3-D ultrasound, our daughter revealed herself quite clearly. My wife had tears in her eyes as the tech told us "It's going to be a girl". The utterance of that phrase is the first time I doubted my ability as a father.

Being around all boys made me more wary. I knew how they thought and the dumb things they did. I was one of them! I knew their secrets.

How would I raise my daughter in this world? Would I know how to answer her questions? Would I say the right things? Would she talk to me about important things and trust in my advice?

What my first and second daughter (yes, I'm that lucky!) taught me was that raising daughters is no different from raising my son. I tried to instill the same values, gave the same snuggles, sang the same songs.

The girls slept in the same bassinet and crib. I changed their diapers on the same changing station. They both called me Dada and ran to me for comfort just like my son. The only thing different about them were their emerging personalities.

My girls taught me that confidence and strength are not defined by gender. They taught me that it takes an equally strong father to realize that his daughters, while precious and beautiful don't have to be delicate porcelain dolls that we put upon a shelf.

We can raise them to be strong and intelligent, sensitive and assertive. We can teach them that it is okay to cry and that anger shows that we have passion. We, as dads, can help shape the next generation of women to believe that anything is possible for them as long as we stop thinking that because they are girls, we need to raise them differently.

Does it matter whether you are having a boy or a girl? The answer is, no. What truly matters is that you believe there is no difference.

I'm thankful that they showed me the way. Over the years I have changed their diapers. Over time they have grown up and changed into individuals. But, what has changed more is me and it is because of them, I need to say #ThanksBaby for changing my life for the better. You have both helped me become a better dad for all of you.

For more information on Pampers and to follow them on social, visit below:

Pampers Twitter:

Check in on Twitter at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 17, for a one-hour #ThanksBaby chat with Pampers and Life of Dad, with a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Do I Stack Up as a Dad?

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Life of Dad and Cheerios. I received compensation for this post; however, all opinions stated are my own.

It started a long time ago when you were first born

and I held you for the first time that early spring morn.

I came to realize that day that your arrival finally made me a new dad.

I looked at your tiny fingers and I held them close not comprehending fully what it was I had.

I had a chance to show you everything in the world that was good

and I vowed with your mom by my side that I'd teach you all I could.

I watched you grow each and every day and recorded every milestone

and I knew what we were building as a family was more than just a home.

The way you smiled or looked at me would make my heart just race.

I even enjoyed the way you grabbed Cheerios and threw them in my face.

The books we read, the songs we sang, the times you slept upon my chest

were times we will always cherish though we did it without much rest.

Have Cheerios, will travel was a core belief

so I'd pack up some O's to give your hunger some relief.

Everything that I did, I thought of you first

even though sometimes your diapers were the worst.

But all the while I wondered, was I stacking up as a dad?

Was I doing everything I could to ensure that you weren't sad?

As you grew, I did too, and your sisters came along

Our trio turned from a few notes to catchy, full blown song.

Every step along the way was one that made us proud.

You learned how to crawl, walk, and run, your accomplishments abound.

At a certain point along the way you started to become aware,

that those hands you used to jam in your mouth were handy in that highchair.

You jammed in those Cheerios like they'd go out of style

and you'd gnaw on them gleefully with that semi-toothless smile.

You'd stack your blocks and knock them down to repetitive delight,

and you grew you chose to focus on the things that defined you as upright.

But one thing you should never worry about is how you stack up to another

because each child I have is unique and different from any other.

I try as a dad to be the example you need so you can shine so bright

and beam proudly when your rays reach others who need that guiding light.

While my stacks may be built up over time, I know this now is true

that even if you stack up the highest, it's okay to fall down too.

Looking back on memories with my kids as been awesome while taking part in the #CheeriosChallenge. You can get in on the fun too! Create a stack on top of your baby's head or when the teenager is napping. Snap a photo of a stack of Cheerios you put on that guy that fell asleep on you on the train. Stack them on vacation in cool places or just around your house. It will be a fun activity that your kids can get involved in and it works on their fine motor skills too!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Dad Really Wants for Father's Day 2017

I've received all sorts of gifts for Father's Day from Daddy O scrubbing pads to a rock painted by my children that say "Dad, You Rock". I have a drawer full of things my kids have made for me from oddly shaped paper ties to portraits that if they were yellow, I might resemble a Minion. 

I struggled as a boy, trying to figure out what my dad would want for Father's Day. And every year, probably to his horror or amusement, I bought him a 5 ounce bottle of English Leather. It wasn't until I was older and I shared his bathroom with him that I discovered, under the sink bottles twelve deep of the manly scent tucked under the sink like a doomsday prepper waiting for the scentpocalypse. He must have thought every time he opened one "What the hell am I going to do with this one?" 

Dads come in all varieties from the working dad to the stay at home dad but there is one common thread we all have, we want cool stuff. Heck, I'd take Green Bay Packer toilet paper as a sign that my kids really understood me. So if you're stuck, here is a list of things dads would actually want for Father's Day.

Nintendo Switch - $299

Believe it or not, you aren't the only ones that like to have screen time and video games are the perfect way to blow off some steam and have some fun all at the same time. And with a game like Breath of the Wild Zelda bringing back our iconic partnership with Link that began when we were just kids.

Nintendo now has ARMS from the team behind the hit game Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Choose a unique fighting champion, equip your own combination of extendable arms and then battle it out with friends and family! Using a mix of button presses and quick hand motions, ARMS allows you to throw tactical punches or avoid incoming attacks. Unleash your inner fighter in this unbelievable sporting event!

Motorola Moto Z Force with Moto Mods - $720

This is by far the coolest phone I have owned and it makes me feel like James Bond (moment of silence for Sir Roger Moore please) with all the attachments that come with it your dad will feel like a spy too. Available at Verizon, the Motorola MotoZForce has Moto Mods that expand its capability beyond just a smartphone. The JBL speaker Moto Mod, turns your phone into a portable sound system, the Hasselblad Moto Mod turns it into a high functioning camera, and the Moto InstaShare Projector lets you share all your content without needing to connect to another device.

Canary - Home Monitoring System - $169

There isn't anything more gratifying as a dad knowing that you're doing everything you can to keep your family safe. With the Canary, it connects to your home Wi-Fi system and provides a real-time look at what is happening at home when you can't be there. The Canary will send notifications when you are away of any activity it senses 180 degrees in front of the camera. Watch live video from your smartphone when you receive a notification and you can sound an alarm if you don't recognize the intruder. The app will also allow you to immediately call 911 in case the intrusion is unwarranted. Keep track of the person feeding your pets as Canary records activity in video which can be archived.

JORD - Wood Watch - $295

We may like to wear cargo shorts most of the time or socks with sandals on the regular. But, for those times when we need to look respectable, we want to get noticed for all the right reasons. JORD Wood Watches are the accent pieces to a night out with your mother or a fancy soiree where we are wearing pants that don't have a drawstring. Made with a variety of wood grains and materials, there is a JORD watch for every style.

Navdy - Navigation System - $499

Yep, we are too proud to sometimes ask for directions and looking at our phone is going to be a dead giveaway that this country road with a dead end wasn't part of the "scenic tour" . With Navdy, we can keep our eyes on the road and play our questionably embarrassing music right from our phone in front of your friends. Better yet, we can control directions, respond to texts, and make phone calls with a simple gesture. What better way to set a good example for the tweens and teens learning how to drive than to show them that knowing what is up ahead and paying attention to the road are the most important aspects of driving safely.

Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor - $199

We don't know it yet, but this little gadget just may save our lives. Too many people have some sort of sleep disorder and it all stems from bad sleeping habits. We all know that without proper sleep, we aren't bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning. What was it that our own dads used to say? The early bird gets the worm?  The Sleeptracker Monitor from Beautyrest keeps track of our sleep habits and coaches us towards a goal for better rest.

Nest Learning Thermostat - $249 

We know that you're pretty adept at the latest gadgets and gizmos of the time but when it comes to technology in the house don't you ever, EVER touch the thermostat! End the battle of hot and cold by getting dad a thermostat that learns what the family's patterns are all about. Nest looks out for you by sending safety alerts, filter reminders, and a heads up when the furnace is acting up before it becomes a problem. Use Nest for a week and it will actually program itself. When your system is running efficiently, Nest will award you with a leaf to let you know that you're saving energy and money. There's literally nothing dads love more than saving money.

Retroviewer - $29.99

The tough thing about taking great photographs is to do with all of those old pictures of you and your dad that turn out so well? Retroviewer is the answer. He probably had one of these when he was a kid and it probably cost a nickel. Now, you can bring back a little nostalgia and when he's done viewing old pics of you two together, he can complain about getting something in his eye. Build your own reel that he can view over and over again. Then he can regale you with stories about seeing his first "moving pictures" when he snuck into a theater with the other newsboys.

Tile - $70 - Mate and Slim Combo Pack

Always losing your keys and wallet? I am. But since I've had a Tile Slim and Tile Mate, I don't have to worry about that anymore. I attach the Mate to my keys and the Slim stays in my wallet. If I can't find either, I use an app on my phone that locates it via GPS tracking and I retrace my steps until I find it. Can't see very well? All Tiles emit a very loud sound to help you discover its location even if it is inside a pants pocket or inside a zipped bag. The cool thing is if you have the reverse problem and you lose your phone, you can depress the "E" on the Tile and it will ring your phone even when it is on silent! With Tile, I can't lose anything. Now if only they made one for my mind!

Samsung NX300 DSLR Mirrorless Camera - $400

Everywhere I go, people ask me about this camera. Probably because they have never seen a white camera before so it is unique, but the Samsung NX300 is a camera I was sold on from the very first picture I took. The speed is amazing and it shoots under low light better than any other camera I have owned.  It's so small and lightweight, I can put it in my cargo pants pocket and when I am on vacation, I don't need a huge outfit to get excellent quality pictures. The 20.3 megapixel camera gives you amazing detail and it captures with ease. Built in functionality with your smartphone can sync images directly using its own Wi-Fi to transfer. It makes it much easier to share on social media and back photos up with Google Photos without worrying about losing images. With Samsung phasing out their digital photography division, you can probably find this at a better deal. My only suggestion would be to not take it to the beach, where sand gummed up my shutter release button. Below are some images I took with the camera.

Disclaimer: I use and enjoy all of these products. Only the Nest was supplied to me for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Must Read Books for Dads

When I became a dad for the first time there wasn't much out there that shared the parenting narrative from the point of view of a dad. Most of the books I read talked about supporting your wife, following her lead, and trying not to get in the way.

Dads are changing the perception in media. We aren't the bumbling Homer Simpson of the world that doesn't know all the kids' names and we aren't indifferent about our daughters like Peter Griffin. We are redefining how brands think of us in advertising and fighting for equal mention when it comes to parenting.  We want paternity leave and to be active fathers for our children while providing for them at work or at home. We want to be counted in the conversations about our children and not seen as special when we show up at their schools to help out. We are all parents doing what is best for them.

You're never really ready to have children. There's no LEGO manual that tells you how to respond to their constant needs. What we end up with instead is a lot of trial and error and figuring things out as we go. The importance is that we try and that we aren't intimidated because we have no idea what we are doing. Basically, we just deal with children, the same way we deal with a clogged sink or a leaky pipe. Pretend we know what we are doing and figure it out.

With the help of modern fathers like the ones listed below, we're reading up on how to be better for ourselves and our families and finding ways to make it work according to what is best for our family instead of sticking to antiquated gender roles. You too can be a dad in charge with the help from these authors.

Dads Behaving Dadly 2 - Hogan Hilling & Al Watts
Straight from the fatherhood front, Dads Behaving Dadly captures tales directly from modern dads is a great collection of the greatest and worst parts of becoming a father. Some stories will make you cringe and others will make you cry. If you're a dad you'll be shaking your head a lot reading about the experiences of these dads and everything they have learned along the way. You'll find yourself laughing to the funny things their children did or how they reacted to a new parent situation. This book is like a conversation with a room full of dads sharing their most intimate stories with you. 

All In - Josh Levs 
In All In, Josh Levs breaks down the common misconceptions in today's media and research that paints a grim picture when it comes to dads and their involvement in their children's lives.  Josh interviewed dads from all walks of life whether they we working or stay at home dads about their relationships with their own fathers. He reports back on how our relationships with their fathers helped shape the ever changing roles in family dynamics in the modern world today and how society sometimes tries to keep the traditions of old instead of evolving to fit the fluidity of today's family structures. Josh Levs shares his own personal experience while battling for equal time paternity leave from a former employer as an example of how antiquated thinking in businesses haven't also changed with the times.  More from Josh at

The Parents Phrase Book by Whit Honea
When you run into a situation where you just don't know what to say to your children, The Parents' Phrase Book is the perfect reference guide to parenting. Whit Honea gives parents who are searching for that manual about how to effectively communicate with their children some hope. The key to any good relationship with your kids is communication and Honea gives practical tips for those of us who are at a loss for words because adulting is hard. Whit also is one half of with Carter Gaddis, seeking to change the world by uniting with other dads who seek to do good in this world. You can also find more wisdom by Whit at The Honea Express 

Calm the F*** Down by David Vienna 
We all worry if we are doing the right thing for our children. We do this so much that sometimes we make ourselves sick with worry instead of just rolling with the punches. In Calm the F*** Down, David Vienna gives us the tongue-in-cheek version of parenting which reminds us that none of us are perfect and we are going to mess a lot of things up along the way. If you feel like a failed parent, get over it. Tales from Vienna will make you laugh until you forget why you were worrying about an issue in the first place. You can find more written by David at The Daddy Complex.


Man Vs. Child by Doug Moe
Doug Moe's hilarious guide to fatherhood covers everything from the dangers and advantages of a pregnancy, how to deal with your annoying toddler, to the mysteries behind folding a stroller properly. There sure is a lot of crap we have to learn along the way and take it from Doug, he's not going to sugarcoat it for you. In Man vs. Child, Moe tells it like it is in such a way that you will by default learn something you didn't intend to learn at all. You'll find yourself chuckling along and wanting to scribble notes in the margin if your kids are older or you'll be sending his wisdom via memes on social networks. You can find his book available on or at Man Vs. Child.


Daddy Needs a Drink by Robert Wilder 
This book was the very first book I read after becoming a dad. What to Expect When You're Expecting was written in such a way that dads seem secondary and not really a part of the equation though we know we were 50% responsible. In Daddy Needs a Drink, Robert Wilder recounts his experiences as a new dad and the things he learned along the way like the advantages of an over-sensitive baby monitor. 

Dad's Book of Awesome Projects by Mike Adamick 
When you are Mike Adamick, you try as a dad to show your kids as many cool things as you can possibly teach them. The concept around all of Adamick's books including Dad's Book of Awesome Recipes or Dad's Book of Awesome Science Experiments are how to guides to spending quality time with your child. Learn how to cook, build, and learn things together with this amazing collection of projects that bring dads and their kids closer together. You can teach your kids physics, chemistry, carpentry and more! 

From Dude to Dad by Chris Pegula 
You used to be in charge of the keg but now you're in charge of another human being. The road can be confusing for beginners and let's face it, the self-help books for dads aren't all that helpful. From Dude to Dad: The Diaper Dude Guide to Pregnancy is a road-map for this little adventure you are now on. It teaches you what to expect from every stage of your child's life from conception to birth and beyond. It's a practical guide for the new dad on rocking your role as a parental unit. Check out Chris' store at The Diaper Dude for diaper bags created just for men.

Lone Pair of Blue Jeans in a Sea of Yoga Pants by Brian Craig
It's a lonely world as a stay at home dad when the nearest guy to you who also has your job lives an hour away and you're not sure if the Mommy and Me class is okay for you to attend. From strange looks at the park to your judgmental friends who ask you repeatedly when you're going to get a real job, navigating that sea of yoga pants can be tough. In Lone Pair of Blue Jeans in a Sea of Yoga Pants, Brian Craig talks about his experiences as a stay at home dad after his wife discovers that staying at home isn't for her. Brian makes the leap from middle school teacher to caring for three young kids at home and dealing and what it means to be a man who isn't babysitting but raising his children while his wife earns the family's income.

What Daddy Didn't Know by Lance Brazelton 
Making sure he didn't become a statistic of just another young child left to figure out what it means to be an adult male in this world, Lance Brazelton writes letters to a dad he never knew when he was abandoned by him at a young age.  The letters are a touching tribute to his son who will learn as he grows up what it means when someone says that anyone can be a dad but it takes a real man to be a father. For those dads who didn't have a great father figure in their lives, What Daddy Didn't Know is an inspirational read that proves you can break the cycle and become the father your children need.

Fowl Language : Welcome to Parenting by Brian Gordon
After the first page, you'll wonder how Brian Gordon got inside your head and captured everything we are feeling as dads with strange children. Inspired in his own work by comics like The Far Side, Brian Gordon's dad joke humor in Fowl Language will have you laughing out loud in coffee shops and pinning these up on your refrigerator or cubicle wall.  Gordon reminds us that the pitfalls of parenting are deep but keeping our sense of humor around our triumphs as well as our failings are the only way we can dig out.