Fatherly Stuff: November 2013

Nov 30, 2013

Two Holiday Recipes with Price Chopper

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and its client.

The holidays mean so much to so many different people. It's a time for traditions, both old and new. It's a time for love, family and reflection of all of the positive things in life. It is also a time for food. For most us, it wouldn't be a holiday if we weren't coming together with our loved ones for the preparation and/or consuming of an amazing meal.

In the spirit of this, I have two great Holiday Recipes that I am excited to share with you. To make them, I visited my local Price Chopper and picked up some of the freshest and high quality ingredients.

 The first recipe is a Portuguese kale soup. I discovered this soup for the first time when I ordered it from a local restaurant. My wife and I liked it so much, we decided to try it on our own from scratch and had so much fun figuring it out. What I love about this recipe is it's simplicity as well as it's versatility. Virtually all of the ingredients are interchangeable and can be altered based on your preference. Either way, this recipe is sure to keep you and your family warm during those frightfully cold holiday nights.

Recipe #1: Portuguese Kale Soup
Makes 6-8 servings

Here's what you'll need:

2 tablespoons of  extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound kale (chopped, preferably fresh but frozen works fine)
Salt and pepper
1 (12-15-ounce) can of red kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup of salsa
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 pound diced chorizo or kielbasa
2 Knorr Chicken Flavored Bouillon Cubes
1 quart of water  

To create the broth: Boil water in large pot and add two Knorr Bouillon Cubes

Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add potatoes, onions and garlic, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic, bay leaves, and kale to the pot. Cover pot and wilt greens 2-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add kidney beans, salsa, tomatoes, chorizo (or kielbasa), and  pour ingredients into the  pot of broth and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat back to medium and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

If you prefer a spicier taste, add pepper flakes or hot sauce to the pot and/or individual serving

The second recipe is a family tradition that we like to call Holiday Pancake Skewers. This particular recipe is kid-friendly because it is easy, healthy, as well as really fun to make. My son and I enjoyed the process from start to finish, as we make messes and memories that will not be wiped away so easily.

Recipe #2: Mini Holiday Pancake Skewers
Makes approx 10 skewers

2 Cups of Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix
1 Egg
1 1/4 Cups of milk
3 Bananas (Or pancake friendly fruit of your choice)
1 pkg of Blueberries (Or pancake friendly fruit of your choice)
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
A few sprinkles of cinnamon
Red and Green food coloring 
Approx 20-30 mini skewers (You can cut the pointy ends when working with smaller children) 
1 Can of cooking spray

and most importantly...

1 mischievous assistant!

Using a medium mixing bowl you can easily follow the recipe for pancakes that can be found on the side of the Bisquick box.

First pour in 2 cups of Bisquick mix, then add 1 1/4 cup milk and 1 egg.

Add a few sprinkles, about a teaspoon, of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.

Stir until smooth

Place half of batter into an additional bowl (This step will allow you to make two colors of pancakes)

Place 2-3 drops of red food coloring in one bowl, then stir; do the same with the second bowl, only this time, use the green food coloring

Dice one banana into small pieces

Distribute and gently stir 1/4 cup blueberries and 1/2 of the diced bananas each bowl.

Preheat your pan at about medium heat, then apply cooking spray

Pour tiny, silver dollar sized drops of your green and/or red batter into pan. Flip after about a couple of minutes, or until you see bubbles rise. Repeat this step until all batter is used.

While cooking, take two remaining bananas and slice into small circles placing aside for skewers. 


When placing mini pancakes and fruit on the skewer you could use the following patten: Pancake, banana, blueberry, pancake, banana blueberry on each individual skewer  or allow your little one to create their own fun pattern until all pancakes have been used

Serve with a side of  maple syrup, jam or all by itself!

With all of this great food, whether it's with family or entertaining guests, I have a feeling that this holiday will be one of the most memorable yet!

To learn more about Price Chopper and their products, please visit their Facebook and Twitter pages!

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Nov 24, 2013

16 Ways you Know You're a Dad

Fatherhood is such a unique experience. Never before have I been so challenged, humbled, afraid and happy, sometimes all at one. From the moment my wife called me with the news that her pregnancy test was positive, I knew my life was never going to be the same.  But the other day, I was thinking; How does one know that they've actually "arrived" as a dad? Is it marked by one defining moment, or by a series of little instances that culminate over time? I thought it would be fun to explore that answer via a trendy, countdown list based on my own experiences:

1. When you login to Netflix, your recommended viewing looks something like this:

2.You can hold a genuine, mature conversation about breasts

3. You never found the color and texture of poop more interesting in your life

4. It's a totally normal occurrence to have someone else’s drool on your clothes, face and sometimes in your mouth

5. When you’re being held up in line because of someone's kid is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, you aren’t annoyed, but rather relieved that it isn’t your child this time

6. Your Pandora “Quick Mix” ranges from Tupac Shakur, to Raffi’s “Apples and bananas”

7. Child-friendly words like “night-night” and “yummy” will incorporate themselves into adult conversations 

8. The definition of “game time” has evolved from getting ready to watch your favorite sport, to successfully cleaning and changing a wiggly infant after a level 10 diaper blowout.

9. You find yourself daydreaming about catching up on sleep

10. Other people know you’re a dad without you having to tell them, mainly because of your “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mug, your “#1 Dad” t-shirt, or the “interesting” artwork proudly displayed in your office

11. If you have any tattoos, the majority of them are temporary

12. You're more familiar with the songs on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and "Fresh Beat Band" than any current hit on the radio 

13. You babywear, like a freaking BOSS

14.You still love Family Guy and The Simpsons, but you find yourself secretly resenting the main characters for being such crappy fathers

15. Regarding fashion, you tend to value comfort over style.
16. It never ceases to amaze you how someone so small can make you feel 1000 feet tall 

(Bonus Round)

17. When you reach into your pocket to grab your wallet, you aren't in the least surprised that you pulled out stickers

 18. When you were younger, you used to stay up all night, mix drinks and help your friends who threw up. Now, you're  STILL up all night, except now you're mixing bottles and cleaning baby throw up.

As fun as this list was to make, I can't say for sure whether or not I am any closer to answering my question than when I started. All I know is that I am fully immersed in my role as a dad and I wouldn't trade this job for anything in the world!

Question: Did I leave anything out? Do you agree/disagree with my list? Comment below!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share by clicking on one of the social media icons below. You can also follow me on Twitter Instagram, or "Like" me on Facebook. 

Nov 11, 2013

MicroTouch ONE Razor: Review

Disclosure: I was provided the MicroTouch ONE razor in exchange for this review, however all opinions expressed are completely my own.

I used to love spending time with my grandfather. I would sit and listen as he raved about the different things that he used to enjoy in his youth and yes he always used the classic line, "they don’t make them like they used to." While there is certainly room for debate on this subject, (i.e. I will take a smartphone over a rotary phone any day), there is one item that has clearly lost its quality over the years; the razor. The double edged, metal, safety razors have been replaced by the plastic, multi-blade contraptions that we are all accustomed to using. Personally,  I tend to use razors as infrequently as possible because I always seem to get irritation and ingrown hairs due to my hair texture and sensitive skin. Also, they tend to be pretty expensive and because of this, it just seems more effective to take a trip to the barber once a week. 

 Recently however, as consumers have become more knowledgeable, there has been somewhat of a shaving renaissance emerging in the US. The shaving products and techniques that have been used historically seem to be making a comeback and The MicroTouch ONE safety razor is one is one of these products.

Here’s the pitch that you’ll find on the company’s website.

“MicroTouch ONE is the modern version of the timeless classic safety razor. After years of price increases from multi-blade razor manufacturers, MicroTouch, a consistent top-three grooming brand in the country (Nielsen Report, Razor Trimmer Appliances, 52 weeks ending 2012), brings you the most affordable and effective razor option that professional Barbers still prefer today – the single blade shave.
A substantial and precision-crafted tool, MicroTouch ONE is made of solid brass and chrome plated to a beautiful, polished shine. The ONE feels fabulous in your hand and, most important, glides smoothly across your skin for the best shave of your life. The ONE’s “butterfly” opening allows you to easily and safely clean the blade, rinsing it free of shaving cream and whiskers after each shave. Your blades last longer, and that saves you money.”

Informercial-ish spiel aside, this is a pretty cool razor. From the moment I pulled it out of its travel case, I could tell that I was going to have a shaving experience outside of the norm. Whether or not that was a good or bad thing, I wasn’t sure of…yet. Ascetically, the MircoTouch’s chrome plated handle gives it a polished look that gives a manly feel to it, as if it were a true instrument or tool. The weight of the metal in your hand is noticeably heavier than the plastic razors that I’m used to. The double-edged razors are made by Dorco and are so thin that when I picked up one of the folded papers that they are contained in, I actually thought it was empty because it was so flexible. Furthermore, this probably goes without saying, but I'm going to mention it anyway: These razors are extremely sharp and can be dangerous. For their safety (and yours), please keep them away from small children.
When testing out the MicroTouch ONE for the first time, I quickly realized that I had to completely change the way that I typically shave. While virtually little to no effort is needed with the current, multi- blade models, there’s actually some technique required in order to garner the desired shave with a safety razor. You have to tilt the razor at an approximate 45 degree angle and take short, deliberate strokes over the area you’re shaving.  Also, be sure to use minimal pressure, as the weight of the razor itself is enough to cut through your hair. It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it and I felt confident enough to shape around my beard and mustache. When I wiped the excess lather off of my face and looked in the mirror, I was quite impressed to see how clean my face looked. Like I said before, I tend to stray away from razors in general because I always end up with ingrown hairs due to my hair texture and sensitive skin. However, since the publish date of this post, I’ve used this razor 3 times and I have yet to get any razor bumps due to ingrown hair.

Overall, I really like the MicroTouch ONE razor. For $19.99 (plus $7.99 shipping and handling), you are getting comparatively more for your money than you would with a cartridge shaver. This is my first safety razor and I feel as though my shaving experience has been kicked up a few notches. I recommend it to anyone who is considering making the switch.

For more information, feel free to check out their site on: https://www.onerazor.com/

Nov 7, 2013

Getting a Vasectomy: To Snip or Not to Snip

I remember knowing as far back as a little kid that I was going to be a dad. Not only that, but I was going to have at least 5-8 kids because why not? The more the merrier, right?
While fleeting fantasies like that were well and good in my youth, the reality of these childhood "dreams" set in within about 1 month from the birth of our first child. There were great moments, amazing really. But there were also those movements of exhaustion, stress and near bankruptcy that eventually led us to the decision that we were done after one.

Done with one.... Hmmmmm, Yeah right.
Three years later, something in us changed. Perhaps it was the fact that we were seemingly so far removed from our first  son’s infant stage that we actually started to miss the smell, sound and touch of a new baby. Perhaps we should have just considered getting  a “new baby smell” Car Freshener instead.  

Coming to a car wash near you!

My wife and I often joke that there must be some sort of innate trigger in the human brain that shifts your focus primarily on the good memories, like the first time his little baby hand gripped our fingers and melted our hearts, while somehow filtering out any negative experiences, like diaper changing and unwanted 3am wake up calls. As a matter of fact, don't let those sweet baby smiles fool you, the idea of "baby fever" is an actual biological reaction that occurs in our bodies. You can read all about it here.
And so, after some thoughtful discussion we proceeded to plan for our 2nd  bundle of joy. With that said, after a long and trying 9 months for both my wife and myself those memories of how hard it is to actually care for a baby began to somehow creep to the surface again. Once we were able to clearly envision our near future of long nights and smelly diapers, even before my second son's long awaited arrival, we had decided that once and for all after this baby, we were done.
Not “whoops, we’re having a third” No, "maybe we should try for girl?" No excuses...  done; DONE done.

But now the question we were left with, was how can we guarantee that there will be no “whoopsie baby” moments. We’ve discussed many hormonal birth control methods (the pill, Mirena, etc) that my wife could take. However, in the past, the hormones in those have pretty adverse effects on my wife; both physically and emotionally (and in turn, on me). So we have found that for now, the safest resource to prevent baby number 3 is the use of condoms, but not even that is 100% reliable and let’s be honest: The sensation comparatively is like eating at a diner: The food is pretty good and you don't regret going, but in the back of your mind, you know you've enjoyed better.
Therefore, until they come up with a birth control pill for men (What are you waiting for, science?) that leaves only two reasonable options: Either she gets her tubes tied, or I get a vasectomy.
So which partner is going to do what?  This is obviously a personal decision that a couple would want to carefully consider. At the very least, it probably isn’t something that you would want to decide on over a game of rock paper scissors.  At least, not a sane couple anyways.
When you compare the two procedures in terms of being invasive, potential risk factors and recovery time, it makes the most sense for me to have a vasectomy. With that more or less “decided”, I should be okay with heading down to the doctors, right? Well, not exactly….
Despite being medically “efficient” and “low risk”, I’m still feeling hesitant about actually going through with the procedure. Call me crazy, but there’s something about having a doctor tear into your junk with a scalpel a little imitating. Besides that, there are a few reasons why;

Will I Feel Like Less of a Man?
As a man, it’s not unnatural to have indicators for yourself-imagined or otherwise- that is used as somewhat of a masculinity gauge.  It could be something as significant and fulfilling as being an involved father. But it also is trivial, like being able to carry all of the grocery bags in the house in one trip. I’m willing to bet that for most guys, the capability to...ahem, fire a fully loaded pistol is up there on that list somewhere. After all, from a biological perspective, when you strip away our modern society, the sole purpose of our existence is to do our part to help create life. So, when you strip away that component of his physiology, where does that leave his psyche? Probably in the same place Luke Skywalker would be without the “light” on his light saber. Or, somewhere next to Dirty Harry if his magnum had a chamber full of blank bullets. Either way, I’m not sure if that is a place where I want to be, yet.
"Do ya feel potent, punk? Well, do ya?!" (Source)

Are We Really Done with Having Kids?
As I mentioned before, my wife and I did a complete 180 from our original decision and decided to try for a 2nd kid after all. Had I gotten the procedure done before that point, I’d probably be writing a different post right now. A buddy of mine and his wife decided that after two kids, enough was enough. They read the brochures, did their online research and scheduled an appointment with a urologist for a consultation. The doctor sat with my friend privately, looked him straight in the eye and said in a stern voice, "Before I sign off on this, you have to be really, really sure that you don't want to have children again."Needless to say, he hasn't been back to that office since. There's just something about the finality of it that makes me uneasy.

 Sure, they say that vasectomies are possibly reversible, but really, going through the experience a first time would be difficult enough, I can’t imagine going for round two. There's also the ace in the hole option of freezing samples of your sperm, in the event you change your mind. That possibility is all well and good too, but even that poses its own risks. What if the facility that his holding your sperm sample loses power and it  thaws or gets damaged somehow? Maybe I'm splitting hairs by coming up with worst case scenarios, but you're really limiting  yourself. You only get one shot at procreation until your only genetic imprint that you will ever produce is all used up.

Painful Side Effects?

Before I get into it, I'd like to mention that from the time I was a boy, it was hard-wired into my brain that pain and your scrotum are two things that should never, ever mix together. Here's a bit of advice for you: If you're on the fence about getting a vasectomy and you don’t want to be scarred for life, do not Google the words vasectomy and side effects in succession.

With any invasive procedure, there’s always the risk of complications occurring.  Some of them are unlikely and are minor, but there are others that will make you cross your legs as you read through the laundry list of possibilities. It kind of reminds me of one of those pharma drug commercials that shows scenes with smiling people doing activities that have nothing to do with the drug itself. Imagine if getting a vasectomy was sold like that? Here's my pitch for one of those commercials:

 Tired of using condoms?
*Group of guys playing basketball*

Are you worried that your wife will forget her birth control?
*Guy climbing a mountain*
Worried you might unintentionally increase your family number?
 *Family watching TV*

 Then you have to try Snip-a-sac!

Symptoms may include:
Bleeding, swelling, infection, random sperm dribbling,  sperm granuloma (leakage into tissue)
and painful ejaculation! (Sourced from WebMd and MayoClinic

Ask you doctor if Snip-a-sac is right for you! Try it (or not) today!

This may sound like an anti-vasectomy post, but that’s not my intention. These are simply my reflections on the situation and ultimately, a clear indicator that I’m not yet ready to take the leap. For every horror story, I'm sure there are plenty of happy, satisfied dads who are enjoying the best worry free sex of their life. But until I can work through my issues and make a decision, I guess I’ll just stick with the old fashioned methods of birth control.

Question: Have you or your partner gotten a vasectomy? If so, are you happy with your decision? If not, what made you decide against it?