Fatherly Stuff: December 2013

Dec 31, 2013

13 New Years Resolutions That I've Learned From my Baby

2013 has been an interesting year for our family. Among the many significant moments, the biggest by far was the birth of my 2nd child in July. Becoming a dad a 2nd time around and subsequntly, a family of 4 has been a period of substantial growth for all of us. So as this year comes to a close, I would like to share a few of the many lessons our baby boy has inspired that we plan on carrying into 2014:

1. A good cry is healthy from time to time

2. Find more reasons to smile

4. Get some more fresh air

5. Try new foods

6. Read More Often

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Live in the moment

 8.Eat more vegetables

9. Make new friends

11.Spend more time with family

12. Have more adventures 

13.When in doubt, take more naps

Happy New Years to you all! Thank you for reading and making 2013 this blog's best readership yet.

Dec 24, 2013

The Ghost of Christmas Past

One of my favorite Christmas Movies is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. A timeless story about an old, selfish man who, with the help of Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future learns the errors of his ways. Although I enjoyed many versions of it as a child (Mickey, and Muppet versions immediately come to mind), it is a story with themes that continue to resonate with me as an adult. The truths of these themes, along with the depth of all the characters bring such realness to it. But, of course we all know that the story is just that: a complete work of fiction…or so we assume. What if there was some truth to Mr. Dickens’s writing and in times of distress, we actually are visited by ghosts; not in the shape of specters in white robes and chains, but in the form of sudden and intense bouts of nostalgia and maybe even a little regret?

The other day, my family and I were having a great time decorating our tree. Christmas music was in the background and the scent of pine needles wafted through our home. Somewhere between helping my 4 year old hook the ornaments on the tree and watching my 5 month old’s brighten from seeing the lights for the time, I quietly began daydreaming about the holidays of my childhood; and I got a little sad. I couldn’t help but think to myself that there was someone who would have loved more than anything to have witnessed this scene. 

I discovered that Santa Claus wasn’t real at a very early age. So for me Santa was never a heavyset, jolly man in a red velvet suit, but rather a sassy elderly woman with a walker that had enough Christmas spirit to turn any scrooge into a tiny Tim.

As the nucleolus of our family, it was an unquestionable fact that my grandma’s house was the central place to celebrate all of milestone events, especially Christmas. As a woman who held the needs of others much higher than her own, she embodied the spirit of Christmas more than anyone I’ve ever known.  She used to start her Christmas shopping in august, just to make sure she had a present for any and every one that walked though her doors. Her home around this time of year was always full of food, warmth and laugher. So much so that if I close my eyes and think about it, it feel as real as if it were happening right now.
 It’s been 8 years since she passed away and I think about her often, but it’s during this time of year when I miss her most.  Now that my grandfather passed last year, all I have left are those wonderful Christmases at their house that plays repeatedly in my mind like a movie projector. 

Things are different now. We’re more scattered since I, along with other family members, have moved and settled in different parts of the country. That makes is more difficult to get together, so the Christmas table is noticeably emptier than it used to be. Lost in the memories of Christmas past; I found myself almost wishing things were different…

 “Come on. Daddy!”
I suddenly snap back into reality to see my 4 year old tugging my hand. 

“We have to put the angel on!”

I smile and hoist him up onto my shoulders so he can add the final touch to our fully decorated tree. As we all take a step back to admire our teamwork, I glance over at my kids and that’s when it hits me:
 The torch has been passed. 

I’m Santa now. It’s my turn to do everything I can to make sure that their childhood Christmases are as magical for them as my grandmother made them for me. As long as I continue to do that, her memory will live one. 

After all, my wife and kids, the ones who were with me right there at that moment, they are my present, and my future.

Dec 23, 2013

Don’t Become Another Statistic: Protect Yourself With Norton Mobile Security

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.
How often to you think about the security of your mobile devices?  If you’re like me, it’s probably not as much as you should. But with the advancement of smartphone and tablet technology continuing to integrate into our everyday lives, comes the increasing threat of cyber-theft . Every other day, there’s a story in the news about an individual, a company and even entire countries that have fallen victim to some sort of cyber-attack in the form of malware, viruses or simply mischievous hacking. With things like that happening more and more, it should be no surprise to any of us that there was one victim of identity theft every three seconds in the US in 2012, causing more than $21 billion dollars in losses.

Another alarming statistic that I recently discovered: Of all the robberies that occurred in San Francisco, 50% of them were cell phone related. The source article goes on to discuss how these thefts are on the rise on a national scale.
As a family that owns 2 smartphones, 2 laptops, a desktop and possibly a nook in the near future, it is an unavoidable fact that technology is apart of a lot of our daily routines. With every app that is downloaded, with every item purchased or online and bill paid through a website, we do so at the risk of exposing ourselves to any and every existing online threat. 

For me, the possibility of waking up one day to money missing from my account, or receiving a call that a stranger is using my personal information to make unauthorized purchases is downright scary. Since is doesn’t look like the pace of technology is slowing down any time soon, it is more important for that ever for me, my wife and my children continue to educate ourselves on these issues, particularly on ways that we can best protect our information while still enjoying our devices. 

Besides the obvious preventative methods such as using passwords for your account other than “password” or “1234”, what else can we do to ensure our accounts are as safe as possible? One option might be to seriously looking into protective software such as Norton Security AntiVirus

Norton Mobile Security with antivirus is a program that you can download to your phones,tablets and laptop in order to protect them from theft, loss, malware and viruses. Norton offers a host of products and services that help us feel a whole lot safer:

  • Remote location allows you to pinpoint your lost or stolen device
  • Activate a "scream" alarm to locate your device
  • Set automatic schedules to scan file and new apps to detect privacy risks, malware and greyware
  • The ability to control setting for all devices through one site
  • Block specific calls and texts 
  • Activate a webcam (on your device) to take a photo of anyone who tries to use it after you list it as stolen
  • Sync/backup contacts and share across devices
  • Hotspot privacy for enhanced wifi security
  • Can lock the phone if the SIM card is taken out, making the phone useless to a potential thief

 And much more!

 I purchased the one month subscription for $19.99 and so far, I've been happy with the service. I'm notified each time I download and app that it safe to use and I can continue to conduct financial transactions over my phone with the comfort of knowing I have a little bit of muscle behind me.

Phone, laptop, desktop or tablet: You can access your Norton Security account anywhere!
 Instead of becoming another statistic, take back your power and gain control of your online security. With great products such as Norton Antivirus with Mobile Security, you can rest easy knowing you have one of the industry leaders on your corner!

To learn more about Norton and how their services can beef up your security, please visit their website, or stay connected via Facebook or Twitter

Dec 19, 2013

Date Night for Parents (A Step by Step Guide) #ad

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.  

It’s no secret that having kids is rough sometimes. And when I say “sometimes”, I mean most of the time. Between diaper changes, karate practices and spontaneous finger-painting projects, it feels as though my wife and I can barely squeeze in an adult conversation with each other before we’re both ready to pass out and start our day all over again. It’s an interesting life indeed, but the danger of getting too caught up in a routine like that is the risk of inadvertently finding yourself drifting from your partner. As important as our jobs as parents are, I think that it’s equally (if not, more) crucial to find creative ways to keep the intimacy level our relationship strong. One of our favorite ways to do this is by periodically having date night. A night out on the town with my lady is always fun, but the hassle of finding a quality babysitter, coupled with the cost, can be discouraging enough for most of us to throw in the towel.

But what if I told you that not only could you enjoy a wonderful date night with your special someone, which would include a gourmet-style meal and a good movie, but you can do so in a way that is affordable and in the comfort of your home? You’d probably look at me and ask if I wouldn’t mind sharing those crazy pills I must be taking to make such ridiculous claims. 

The good people over at KY have teamed up with Plated.com and Vudu to give you the ultimate at home date night experience. I tried this promotion out myself and had an amazing time with my wife. Here's how you can also take advantage of the deal:

Step 1: Purchase a Limited Edition box of KY Yours+Mine 

These can be found at your local WalMart. KY is always coming up with interesting ways to engage their customers. With this current promotion, when you purchase this limited edition box of Yours + Mine Couples Lubricants, you are given special code that to get a free meal at Plated.com as well as free movie with Vudu.

Step 2: Order + Prepare Your FREE Meal from Plated.com

Once you get your code, head on over to Plated.com to see their wide array of mouth-watering meals. For each dish, you are provided virtually all of the ingredients that you would need to make it, already packaged and pre-measured. The most difficult part of the process was figuring out which one to choose! We eventually settled on the Nissan's Soy-Ginger Salmon Burgers with Parsley-Garlic Chips.
I truly do appreciate the uniqueness of Plated's product for sure, but I have to admit that the prospect of having uncooked fish shipped to me was a bit concerning. However, my apprehensions were soon put to rest when our package arrived.  All of the food was fresh, well organized in neatly packaged containers on ice. 
Quick Delivery/Fresh Ingredients/ Easy-to-Follow Recipes

We unpacked all of our ingredients and got to work. I could have chosen to prepare the meal myself as there is nothing more attractive to my wife than seeing her man in the kitchen. However, we ultimately decided to use teamwork and prepare our salmon burgers together. Neither of us are exactly gourmet level cooks, but the step by step instructions we were provided were easy to follow and we were able to spend most of the time just talking and having fun. Our finished product came out great! We enjoyed it with a bottle of wine and more good conversation 

Step 3: Order Your Free Movie from Vudu 

 With VUDU, you are able to stream movies directly to your game console, HDTV, Blu-ray™ player, Android™ Devices, Roku, iPad or Computer. Movies are streamed the same day as their DVD release, so there's minimal waiting. We have a Blu-ray that already had VUDU programmed, so all we had to do was sign up, and that was a pretty quick process. Now here is the part where we usually fight have a healthy debate on which movie we are going to watch: she is the romantic comedy type and I'm more into action. And I'm not ashamed to say that when it comes to our cinematic tug of war, she is usually the winner. However, I dont if it was because she was in a good mood, or just more relaxed from the wine, but she didn't put up a fight and we ended up watching the newest Superman movie, "Man of Steel".  We both were throughly entertained by the action and neither of us regretted our choice.


Overall we were able to enjoy each other's company, enjoy two amazing restaurant-caliber meals and watch a great movie, all for the cost of hiring a babysitter for about an hour. I just goes to show you that you don't need to spend a lot of money or travel in order to keep your relationship healthy and strong. 

Once again, KY has come through and helped make what would have otherwise been an ordinary night into an extraordinarily memorable one. In more ways than one.

Dec 10, 2013

Bringing the Magic of Christmas to Life with Portable North Pole

Disclosure: I received complementary Portable North Pole products in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Aka, we keeps it real 

This probably won’t come as a shock to you, but my 4 year old kinda has a thing for Christmas. Around, this time of year the first thing he does when he wakes up in the morning is search  of Elfernutter, his personal Elf on the Shelf and moves the little removable tree on his felt “Countdown to Christmas” calendar ever closer to December 25th. This is also the time of year when he asks about “Santa” and whether or not he will be getting that special toy he wanted. Yep, that good ol’ Christmas spirit is really flowing through our household in full force this year. It’s flowing so much, in fact that I would be hard pressed to make this holiday season even more special than it already has been. But the good people at Portable North Pole have accepted that challenge and kicked up the magic a few more notches
What is Portable North Pole?
PNP is a magical console allows Santa Claus himself to creates personalized messages  via phone call, letter or video.  You can choose from multiple scenarios where Santa and his elves will address your child by name, as he gives them a personal tour of his facilities at the North Pole. The climax of the video occurs when Santa determines whether he/she is on the nice/naughty list (parents decide this). He does do by pulling their personal book, inserting it into a machine that projects pictures that are entered by the parent. While navigating the site, not only was I surprised at the ease of use, I was also impressed by the lengths they take to ensure the experience is as intimate and unique as possible for your child. For example, based on the descriptions I provided for the pictures that I uploaded, Santa was able to confidently tell my son he knew his age, that he played sports and that he recently had a new addition to the family. My wife and I couldn't help but look at each other and smile as we watched his eyes light up while watching his video.
My son was relieved to find out he was on the nice list
The prices for the various service range from as little as FREE to $7.99, depending on what you want to do. No matter what you decide  spend, I can practically guarantee that the experience will be priceless for your little one as it was for mine!

Here are some additional cool points:

  •   PNP is mostly for young children who still believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas but even adults can join in on the Christmas magic with customizable videos for those 18+
  •   PNP donates 5% of all online sales to a Children’s Hospital close to the buyer’s location. PNP currently collaborates with over 40 regional Children’s Hospitals in the U.S.  
  •       The most popular PNP product is by far the personalized video message…but Santa and his elves offer a whole host of other personalized products, too, like the newly update iOS and Droid apps.

Here is a price list of some of PNP's most popular offers:

  •   Portable North Pole’s standard Santa’s Video, Retail: Free-A FREE personalized video message from Santa Claus filled with magic and exciting discoveries for your loved ones.
  • Premium Video, Retail: $3.99- Premium videos includes almost 6 minutes of personalized video message from Santa Claus, features 3 additional photos and more personal details, a clip of Santa's riding on his sleigh and even a personalized Christmas carol!
  • Portable North Pole’s Mobile App, Retail: $3.99 for iOS and Android; $4.99 HD app for iPad and iPad mini- Portable North Pole offers iOS and Android users anapplication to create Christmas magic on their mobile devices. The newly updated PNP app includes: credit to create and access premium videos, call from Santa himself, an Advent Calendar game, Christmas Radar, Countdown game and access to a PNP account to synchronize with your online content.
  • Santa Sprint: PNP Adventure, $2.99- This unique Christmas adventure game, for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod), provides hours of fun for the whole family. Guided by the voice of Santa, kids can help him get ready for Christmas and unlock exclusive video stories as they complete the different levels.(In App purchase $1.99 for coin doubler; $0.99 for 10 “second chance” bundle)
  • Portable North Pole’s Santa’s Phone Call, Retail $3.99 for one call or $6.99 for three calls- Santa has a very important message for your loved one! He will pick up the phone and call directly to deliver his personalized message. Santa’s call will last approximately two minutes and you can choose between 14 message options.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out their website at www.portablenorthpole.com to see how Santa can add a little Christmas magic in your home.

Connect with PNP:
·        Facebook: www.facebook.com/PNPSANTA

·       Twitter: @PNPSanta and @PNPElf

·        Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pnpsanta/

·         You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PNPSanta