Posts Tagged ‘men’

I Went to Dad 2.0 and All You Got Was This Lousy Recap

It was four hours past the the day I turned 41, and I stumbled into a dark hotel room covered in the smells of whiskey, Texas, and things best forgotten. The night had grown stale and suddenly quiet. I threw my clothes on the floor and I fell asleep immediately.

The morning found me relatively fresh and thankful for it. I was at the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin, Texas, and I had a reputation to live up to — the drinking was only part of it.

The other part was crying in public, which is something of a running joke among those that have seen me speak on the topic of parenting. Turns out I’m a freaking sap. (Also a sap, Robert Candelino of Dove Men+Care, a sponsor and speaker that lost it on stage. I’m only bringing it up because a) it was quite touching, and b) hello? When Doves Cry). Luckily, I managed to forgo my own tears this round (barely), much to the chagrin of those that enjoy such things. Rest assured, I didn’t let them down on the drinking.

But it wasn’t all beer and bourbon.

The Dad 2.0 Summit was an amazing meeting of parent bloggers and brands — a public place for parent relations, which sounds weird now that I typed it, but I’m leaving it in. Somewhere in the distance that’s what she said.

Blogging conferences seem to appear at just the right moment. I have been in this space for a long time by most standards, and I find that my passion for it tends to wax and wane like so many moons and other things that cows jump over. It is safe to say that recent events and the lack thereof had me on the wane. There was thought of turning away.

I am as unemployed as I have ever been, leaving me embarrassed, stressed, and flirting with depression. I thought about skipping the conference. It was only due to a series of phone calls with an impassioned Doug French, one of the founders of Dad 2.0 (also, John Pacini), that I somewhat reluctantly decided to make the trip despite the funds involved and the lack of them coming in. I’m glad I did.

I was greeted by familiar faces (lots of the DadCentric team!) too numerous to mention here (plus I know I would forget someone and subsequently feel like a jerk), and many new faces that became fast friends. What can I say, I’m a people person.

There were engaging conversations about parenting, dads, writing, media, brands, and peanut brittle. Who decided it was a holiday thing? Peanut brittle is awesome all year.

There were things to do, things to learn, and things that I will never forget. There were also plenty of things that didn’t apply to me at all, which is fantastic, because they were presented in an open and honest manner, allowing for curiosity and contemplation when needed, or judgmental silence where warranted.  And sometimes I was just looking toward the distance and thinking about my family.

I managed to find room in my bag for a big box of Legos and pinned my newfound focus next to the heart on my sleeve. I had gone to Austin in hopes of finding what I wanted, a job, which didn’t happen, but I came home with something equally important (though less help financially) — I came home with what I needed, and that feels pretty damn good.

No, it wasn’t peanut brittle.


This is the only picture I took. It is the only picture I needed.

(My roommates Muskrat & Chad performing Unchained Melody Remix: Ghost in the Machine)

And a couple of photos that Charlie took so that he could enjoy me at his leisure:

Here I am blowing (save it) out the candle on my birthday cake thing which I then shared with the 10 other bloggers at the table. Yes, I’m eating soup and salad. I believe I have already established that I am sensitive like that. Special thanks to Bruce and Charlie for buying my birthday lunch!

And this is what Andy (Betadad), Charlie (How to be a Dad), and I do when we sit outside a gas station for two hours waiting on a cab. Yes, we were posing for album covers. So what? The band is called DadShart. We’ll be touring this spring. Mostly smooth jazz.




For the purpose of total transparency, let me say that I stole the following thank you list of sponsors from John Cave Osborne. Literally, I broke into his blog when he was out grilling eggs or whatever the hell they do in Tennessee and just took it. He had it coming.

Much thanks to  the sponsors of Dad 2.0Johnson & JohnsonKinect for Xbox 360HondaLGZatarain’sCLRDoveLegoPhilips NorelcoScottsMiracle GrowShot@life.orgSpareOne, and Tide.

I didn’t steal this part (but I would have): I would also like to thank my fellow panel members: Andy, Jason, and Mike.

Also, I got shot. Thanks to Stacy for reminding me of what was, obviously, a very dark time for me.

Don’t worry, I’m okay. Relatively.

Photo by Caleb, who was, as always, exceptional.


Apples & Honeas

I don’t usually do Wordless Wednesdays on this site, but I’m tired of looking at that Admiral Hills story in the post below. That said, here’s the family at an apple orchard over the weekend. Nana was in town. It was fun. Yes, there are words on here. Do I strike you as the kind of guy that gives a shit? Besides, it’s Tuesday.

But seriously, we had a great weekend.


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Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine, Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.


I knew a man in the military. He was an Admiral. His name was Hills. He loved a good tune. You might say that Admiral Hills was alive with the sound of music. He loved art and he worked mostly in oils and Garfunkle. His presence was a thousand glasses toasted and his absence whispered in the sounds of silence. He rose above the world like a bridge over troubled water. Some people loved him like a rock.

I haven’t seen the man in over 40 years. I thought about sending him a message in a bottle — an SOS, but my bottles are full of ships and beer and sink heavy when empty. I’ve thought about taking a trip to wherever he lives — an ultimate vacation of old friends and their families. But where would I go? What would I do? What family members would I bring along?

I don’t know.

I could climb every mountain, search high and low. Would I find him in Belize, floating in a warm sea and sipping drinks made with exotic fruit and sweat-laced liquor? Would I search for him in Switzerland, skiing the Alps and being more or less neutral about all of it? They are so many silver white winters and so much melting into spring.

I could follow every highway, every path I know.

Any of these places would be perfect for a man and his wife, two boys and their dogs. Admiral Hills was a man of good cheer, and he always said that a family vacation is in the dreams and the plans, and the journey of maybe getting there. We should all pack accordingly.

We’ll get there someday.


Don’t forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


The Wednesday Review! Contents Include Tidbits & News!

Hello, and welcome to a new feature which I’ll most likely only do once, the Wednesday Review! The Wednesday Review is where I review some products that were sent to me for said reviewing. I have a whole policy on this, which you can find here, but mark me, I don’t review something unless I like it. If I don’t like it then I wrap the item in newspaper and pass it off as a gift to one of my backup friends on their respective birthday and/or religious holiday. Unless it really sucks, then I’ll tell you all about it, because that’s my obligation to you, the reader.

If you read the fine print on the side of the box you will also undoubtedly be aware that this first, and possibly only, edition of the Wednesday Review! also includes tidbits and news! Contents may have shifted, but probably not.

First the tidbits and the news. I’m not really sure how to tell them apart, so tidbits and news will be lumped together for your reading enjoyment:

  • I got a new job! Actually, I got more than one, but only one is live and it’s a big deal (especially to my previously starving children). I’m now on staff over at BabyCenter as part of their FameBaby site. As a matter of fact, I just welcomed myself. In public.
  • You may recall me talking about my friend Troy Olsen and his new single.  Well, he’s doing great. Since my post, but not because of my post, he has been featured on iTunes twice. He’s also been all over some country charts and his Summer Thing video is popular on CMT.
  • The lovely Dan Hughes and his band of merry men and women are currently underway on their epic walk for a cause. The Hadrian’s Walk is an amazing undertaking and I’m truly sorry that my finances prevented me from being a part of it.  Yes, I know, we’re taking the family to Walt Disney World this summer, but a) the total cost of airfare, park tickets and accommodations for the four of us going to WDW is less than the airfare alone would have been for the two of us to fly to England, and b) holy crap, this vacation is biting me in the ass.
  • Adventure Time With Finn and Jake is freaking killing me. It’s probably not good for kids, as they talk about death, kidnapping, farts and being sexy, but I let mine watch it anyway. They can’t hear anything over my laughter.
  • I sell wine! Well, not me personally (although I used to sell wine personally at Cost Plus World Market many moons ago), but rather the Clever Girls Collective, of which I am a member — this despite my being neither clever or a girl, but I am collective and WINE!  There are deals and grapes and fancy descriptions and if you buy 3 bottles the shipping is FREE! Yes, free.

In closing (of this part), I have super, big and awesome things in the works that I can’t expand on at the moment because super, big awesome things didn’t fit in the title of this post, however, trust me, they are all that and more and I’ll be spilling as soon as possible, or as the kids say, ASAP.

This is turning out to be a really long post.

Okay, reviews! Reviews of stuff that I received for the sole purpose of reviewing! But only the things I like! Yes! You’ll see the crap I didn’t like on your birthday. Wrapped in newspaper.

Games from Hasbro: True story, until a few months ago we had a version of Chutes and Ladders that featured Dora the Explorer. The kids loved it and then subsequently broke it through a series of high kicks. We never had a version of Operation, but the neighbors did and the kids called it Surgery and it was good.

Enter the good people at Hasbro. They sent me two (2) games to review, a Toy Story 3 (and here’s my thought-provoking review of the film, free of charge) version of Chutes and Ladders and an Operation game that features Shrek. Needless to say, they’re a big hit.

The ladders go up, the chutes go down and everyone has a friend in me.  Also, Shrek has eaten things that would make the dog blush.

Please note, while I did not receive it there is also a Toy Story 3 edition of Connect 4, which can only mean one thing: sequel!

Okay, this is the part where you’re going to think I’m just angling for Hasbro to send me their entire Star Wars line (which would be awesome), but it’s the truth. Can you handle the truth? My kids freaking love these games, and here’s the weird part, we play them together as a family and we all have fun and there is NO TELEVISION REQUIRED, but sometimes we keep it on to watch the Daily Show.

Take that, video games and sexting!

And now for something completely different.

Man-bathing from Dove: No, they didn’t send me an actual man bathing, rather they inspired me to be one. Dove sent me a collection of their new (and first!) product line made exclusively for men: MEN+CARE.  To be clear, this is for men only, and if my wife is reading this she should consider herself warned. MEN+CARE has been known to grow hair on test animals. Of course those test animals were hairy men, but still, it could happen.

Perhaps you’re familiar with their “Wakey, Wakey” ad. Please note, there is no implication whatsoever that “wakey, wakey” should be followed by “hands off snaky.” You see, Dove is trying to market to men, not break them.

The items sent to me include the Active Clean shower tool, which is dual sided in case you’re entertaining, or even if you’re kind of boring. This isn’t your wife’s shower tool.  Insert crude joke here.

They also sent me Body and Face Wash as well as the Body and Face Bar. If you’re so dense as to have to ask the difference between the two, the wash has MICRO MOISTURE, duh. How the hell did you read this far? I swear.

The point is, the MEN+CARE line is made for men and it cleans deep and smells good. For the first time in years I can walk out of the shower not smelling like caramel butter and coconut mango. The guys in the locker room are ecstatic.

In fact, I just used it. Lean in and take a whiff. That’s man clean, baby.

And so, four hours into this post and I still have items left to discuss.  I think that I’ve guaranteed the return of the Wednesday Review! Or maybe not.  I like to keep you on your toes (and reaching for the stars).

Thanks for playing.


For Tomorrow May Rain

Waking in the cold dawn it all turned to ash instantly
. – Cormac McCarthy

When we left the sunrise was at our back. We drove through dark and ice and the sound of boys falling in and out of sleep. The tundra was frozen and redundant. The sky was lost and forgotten.

The airport was alive with the non-dead. Sleepy travelers boarded dreams. Weary passengers stumbled through gates like so many sheep. I stood there and tried not to count them.

My wife kissed my cheek and peeled the children from me. It took a little skin. I watched them walk away until they turned from sight and then I walked to the car and into the darkness. It was exactly like I had left it but slightly more so.

When I returned the sunrise was my horizon. I drove through twilight and ice and the sound of emptiness traveling just over the posted speed limit. The mountains glowed gold and bright. The sky stretched and yawned and rubbed sleep from its eye. I started to say something but there was no one there to hear me.

All that was left was time and an eastbound highway. I thought of a plane somewhere behind me, turned on the radio and like a moth to the flame I followed the sun until it engulfed everything but the shadows.


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