Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sometimes the Best Gifts are Free

I’ve never been someone to have a long birthday gift request list. I’m not a techie eagerly awaiting the new iGizmo and I’m not a golfer dying for a new putter or driver. Gifts are wonderful to receive, but I’m a big believer that the best gifts aren’t bought at the mall, or even on Amazon, but come from somewhere inside. They don’t have to be wrapped in fancy paper with shiny ribbon and a bouncy bow. They should simply be real.

The same goes for Hanukkah, Father’s Day and even my Wedding Anniversary. For example, Father’s Day was last week and I didn’t even have to tell Mrs. Dude what I wanted to do that day. The only present I wanted was to spend the day with the three people who made it possible for me to be an honoree: my wife and two sons.

I didn’t want a fancy brunch at some overpriced restaurant. In fact, I wanted the opposite, a brown bag lunch, and I wanted it at my favorite place in Los Angeles. It’s possibly even the place I moved to LA for, even though I’d never been there before I actually moved: the beach.

I slept in last Sunday morning until 8:30am (which is better than a gift – it’s practically a miracle) and joined my family for cereal and milk, just like every other day whose name ends in a “y”. We loaded the car and traversed our favorite canyon toward the beach. The weather was due to be perfect, as I knew the company would be.

We arrived before noon and played ‘til after 4:00. Hard to imagine anything better than running down the shoreline, holding hands and having fun with my boys. Actually “fun” doesn’t even do justice to what we shared that day. Perhaps bliss or perfection is more accurate. Whatever it was, it was all I wanted and needed. As the sun began to fade, we packed up our gear and headed back over the canyon to reality.

There was one more thing I wanted that day, to show the Little Dude how to throw a slab of meat on the BBQ. A tri-tip that weighed in at a hair over a kilo was going to be my carnivorous treat for the day. We’d already prepped it, so grilling didn’t take more than a half-hour.

Still, I showed him how to baste, flip and rotate the slab that was making my eyes jealous of my mouth. We’d used a special rub and sauce from Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, which I’d heard raves about forever, but never actually tasted until that day. It was worth the wait. The tri-tip came out perfectly and my day was complete. I had everything I wanted, which was really nothing at all. Just a day with my favorite trio, at my favorite place, followed by an amazing meal. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

Oh, and to cap the perfect day: Mrs. Dude made my favorite dessert: a ginormous homemade cookie cake slathered in buttercream frosting. Boom. Mission Complete.

Special thanks to Lee Jeans, who sent these matching Smoke Camo Compound Cargo shorts (and that awesome BBQ sauce!) for the Little Dude and me to rock together.  I’ve hardly taken them off since. 

Daddy & Toddler Motorcycle & Big Wheel tee shirt set by Daddy & Company.

Disclaimer: We received these clothing items complimentary and were not compensated for this post. 
All opinions expressed within are my own, for better or worse. The beach rules. Seriously, 

Friday, June 13, 2014

You Don't Know Dads, Mila Kunis

In our media-crazy world filled with snarky humor (of which I am sometimes a guilty participant) and relentless cynicism (also sometimes me) it is unfortunate that when we see something in the media that is the exact opposite it comes as a surprise. Something that is pure unadulterated innocence and perfection that drills down to the core of humanity and the meaning of life. This week I saw just that and I also saw the opposite.

Though I’m an engaged part of the Dad Blogger community, I will admit that when I see a commercial, TV show or movie that portrays modern fathers as bumbling idiots it doesn’t ruin my day. I may find it obnoxious and think about it briefly, but my mind is constantly scattered in 300 different directions between my kids, my job, laundry, bills, etc., so I don’t have the bandwidth to dwell. I have pasta to boil for two hungry dudes.

12 hours later we'd become parents
Actress Mila Kunis made a joking proclamation to all expectant fathers earlier this week on Jimmy Kimmel Live to not say “we’re pregnant” in reference to their expectant wife/girlfriend/partner, since men aren’t the ones physically carrying the baby. She rapid-fired several other lame clichés influenced by her own current pregnancy, but the truth is if a man wants to feel engaged and a part of the 40 week process which he is half responsible for creating, she should realize that that’s actually a good thing.

There are plenty of men today who are thrilled to play an integral role throughout both pregnancy and their children’s lives, which is a big change from the Ward Cleaver-ish preceding generations. When Mrs. Dude was pregnant the first time I attended every single OB/GYN visit that she did, which was close to an hour in the car each way through LA traffic. I could have skipped some and she wouldn’t have minded, but I wanted to be involved. I was excited to be involved. I was determined to be involved. 

The second time around I attended a few less, but that was primarily because we had a toddler at home who needed his own time and 2 hours in a car plus an hour in a tiny room with his mother in stirrups was not the ideal place for it. Fatherhood is fatherhood and men should be able to say “we’re pregnant!” if they want to. I don’t know that I personally ever used Ms. Kunis' least-favorite phrase while in that situation, but to me any man who is excited to become/be a father should be recognized positively, for fatherhood is just about the best gift possible.
Why we do what we do...
Though she was funny in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I wouldn’t look to Mila Kunis for political, legal or medical advice just as I wouldn’t for parenting and/or pregnancy guidance. To me the irony of the situation is that her fiancée/baby daddy Ashton Kutcher used to refer to his step-daughters (from ex-wife Demi Moore) as “my girls” and “my kids” in interviews while they were together, even though he married the girls’ mother while they were teens and he wasn’t much older. Though Kutcher is most famous for playing dumbbells in That 70s Show and Dude, Where’s My Car?, he’s a savvy businessman and clearly an eager and engaged father. Selling out your guy for a cheap laugh, Mila? Dude, where’s your clue?

Coming full circle, take 60 seconds to check out the aforementioned Father’s Day video put together by Dove Men+Care, a brand that not only gets Dads, but encourages and supports us through thick and thin, in real situations just like the video shows. 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, but I do think it's a rad video nonetheless. 

Hey, I'm all about Instagram these days.

Come hang with me there: @DudeOfTheHouse

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Life is a Beach: The #PowerOfDad

There are an unlimited number of incredible things that you can only do in Southern California, (Disneyland anyone?), though without a doubt my favorite chill-time activity is spending time at the gorgeous beaches. You might be surprised to learn that growing up in the Midwest I didn’t have a lot of high quality beach time. Of course I didn't have poor quality beach time either because there are no beaches there, or at least not the kind you’d want to hang out on.

Over the last 14+ years I’ve been a regular at various beaches throughout the LA area. For me it’s about the serene infinite rolling waves, clear blue skies that seem to extend forever and, my favorite thing, the feel of sand between my toes. Trying to describe the sensation, beyond terms like “perfection”, would be like trying to explain music to a person born without the gift of hearing. Spending time at the beach is pure magic and always brings a big smile to my face.

Naturally, that passion is one that I was eager to instill in my boys. We first took the Little Dude to Malibu when he was about 7 months old and for the last 4 years, we’ve been summertime regulars. Adding his brother to our beach-going clan last summer was a bonus for everyone and this year it’s even better now that he can walk.

Looking for sand crabs, building sand castles and running along the shoreline always makes my boys’ faces light up with pure bliss. It’s hard to tell if their love of the beach is inherent or inherited, but really it doesn’t matter. Their euphoria derived from running down the coast while pulling 10-foot-long strands of seaweed (in a game the Little Dude created, appropriately titled “Seaweed”) would make even Oscar the Grouch smile from cheek to cheek. And I’m man enough to admit that that can be me some of the time. Life is hard. Parenting is harder. But my boys make all of it worthwhile, day in and day out.

The joy we share on our bi-weekly trips to Zuma and other quiet spots on Highway 1, is a pleasure that I look forward to from the moment we get home from our last visit until we arrive for our next. Knowing that I now have the ultimate beach playmates, for whom this sandy retreat is second nature, makes our outings so much more rewarding than I ever could have imagined while growing up in my beach-less childhood. Even typing this warms my heart, brings a smile to my face and makes me look forward to Sunday, our next family beach outing.

With Father’s Day on the horizon, I’m partnering with Oral-B and Life Of Dad as part of their #PowerOfDad campaign. They are celebrating fatherhood’s little moments, as I’ve been doing on Instagram over the last few weeks, and the dads that bring smiles to their families every day. Check out this great video they made and share your favorite fatherhood moments, videos and pics on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram with the #PowerOfDad hashtag.   

In their second year of this Father’s Day program, P&G Oral Care has partnered with March of Dimes, a leading organization for healthy, happy families that celebrates mothers and fathers every day.

P&G Oral Care is also joining forces with members of “Football’s First Family,” New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, his father Archie and his daughter Ava – to celebrate fatherhood’s little moments.

And because things like gingivitis and plaque don’t make for good Father’s Day gifts, check out the brand new Oral-B 7000 BLACK power toothbrush. It oscillates, rotates and pulsates, which are 3 of the most important “-ates” in dental care today.

You’re probably wondering by now how many oscillations and pulsations per minute the Oral-B 7000 Black provides. If you guessed 8,800 & 40,000 respectively, you are correct. And since you are supposed to brush for 2 minutes per session, that’s 17,600 oscillations and EIGHTY THOUSAND pulsations per brush sesh. Your teeth could be shining like Danny Torrance after you use this for a while.

Plus, they had me at “Tongue Cleaner Mode”.

And if you click here, the kind folk at Oral-B want you save some dough on your new brush with a coupon that will bring the price down. Your father would be proud of this act of financial responsibility.

Disclosure: I partnered with Oral-B and Life of Dad, LLC for the #PowerofDad Father's Day promotion and was compensated for my involvement, though the truth is that I really do love the beach and tongue cleanliness. 

Hey, I'm all about Instagram these days.

Come hang with me there: @DudeOfTheHouse

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Life as a Dad

Because I write about parenting, I often get asked questions by parents unsure how to handle various situations with their own kids. While I would never claim to be a parenting expert, mainly because I’ve only actually been a parent for 4 ½ years, I’m flattered when asked for advice. That being said, advice is a slippery slope so I tend to give answers based on my experiences and let the questioners figure things out based on their unique family situations.

I’m happy to tell you which car seats, pacifiers and diaper bags I like best, if you ask, but those are my opinions. My parenting experience is different from yours, your neighbors and a random Eskimo in the Yukon’s.  Just as no two snowflakes are alike, just ask that Eskimo, no two kids or family situations are either. What I do love to share is stories about my experiences with my kids. The wins and losses, highs and lows, trophies and boo-boos – the meat of parenting. 

Because of this, I was excited to learn recently about a new parenting show called “My Life as a Dad” (MLAAD). On it, Robert “Daddy” Nickell, the man behind Daddy Scrubs, interviews well-known men, who also happen to be fathers, who discuss their takes on parenting. Did I mention that Daddy Nickell has 6 kids of his own? The man knows his way around a nursery.  

MLAAD is fascinating because while the public knows how great of a basketball player LA Clippers star Chris Paul is, he is much less known for how he regrets missing his own son’s basketball games while traveling during the NBA season. There’s a common misconception that celebrities lives are easier than “regular” people’s because they might have more money or cars or bigger houses.  MLAAD pulls back the celebrity curtain to reveal the human side of athletes, actors and other famous dudes.

So why am I telling you all this? Beyond the fact that it’s a really enjoyable series that debuts new episodes on their YouTube channel every week, I was asked to be a guest on the show.


The Dude of the House.

Can you believe it?

Mid-interview, me and Robert Nickell
I’m (at least slightly) less famous than former NFL star Eddie George, despite the fact that he and I took an Economics class together at The Ohio State University shortly after he won the Heisman Trophy.  But as you’ll see on the show, we are both dedicated fathers who are passionate about being good parents and role models for our kids.

My episodes of MLAAD were just released and I want to share them with you first. I’ll call it The Dude’s 
broadcast debut. In the 4 video clips, you’ll hear about my experiences with potty training, the challenges caused by letting my boys watch TV and movies and more.

It’s not advice unless you want to take it that way. I consider it to be reflections on how I’ve chosen to parent my family. Sometimes the decisions work out great and often they are disastrous, but I have to keep trying. With 4 ½ years down and hopefully dozens more to go, that’s My Life as a Dad.

The Dude On Work & Family

The Dude on Kids and TV

The Dude on Potty Training

The Dude on Teaching Moments

Note: I was not compensated for my appearance on MLAAD, though I was given this rad Camo Daddy Diaper Pack filled with sweet Daddy & Co. gear for me and my boys. 

Subscribe here to the My Life as a Dad YouTube channel to keep up with their latest videos.

Hey, I'm all about Instagram these days.
Come hang with me there: @DudeOfTheHouse