Back to School

I am a TGI Fridays Ambassador, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Back to school is really tough. Getting out of the summer routine, going to bed earlier, and the kids going back to their own rooms after spending month long slumber parties in bedrooms together can be pretty tough. Not to mention the impact on parents that are in summer-mode and then they have to adjust also. Meet the teachers, additional school supplies, and the ever dreaded making lunches for the next day.

We still make lunches for our kids and they are filled with fantastic foodage that not only tastes good, but leans heavily on the nutritious side. A heckuva-lot better that the He-Man thermos filled with Beenie-Weenie’s, cookies, and a juice box that I used to carry to school often.

When the kids get home from school, it’s homework time. We gotta make sure that the important school work is done so that they can become great brainiacs in time. Then, they do a few chores around the house and when they are done, they can play outside or any activity that entertains them. I usually get home after or during this time and then the question is asked…”what’s for dinner?”  You mean after all of these adjustments and new schedules, we now have to figure out dinner and prepare it?  Whoa.

What do you do?

dinner at tgifridays

Every once in a while when we simply don’t have the energy needed to prepare dinner, we all load in to the FUV (Family Utility Vehicle) and head on down to TGIFridays!  There, we can take a load off of our minds and concentrate on spending time with each other in a family-friendly environment and enjoy our time together, while someone else does the cooking and cleaning.  From a great starter, to the main dishes, kids meals with great choices (including healthy ones), and a delish dessert, we always leave full and happy.  So the next time you are in a pinch and want to get away and focus on family time, head to TGIFridays, enjoy a great dinner and let someone else deal with the dirty work.

dinner at tgifridays

 

Endless Whhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

I am a TGI Fridays Ambassador, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Appetizer (noun): A small dish of food or a drink taken before a meal or the main course of a meal to stimulate one’s appetite.

endless appetizers at tgi fridays

One of the best and worst things about eating in most restaurants is the appetizers. The best thing to me is that you get to partake in great grub before your actual meal whilst enjoying great conversation, or in my case working a word-find with a crayon and searching for a plug under the table for my children’s iPads. The worst thing, however, is finding one or two appetizers that everyone can agree on. Why is it that when we finally do come to some sort of an agreement and the appetizers arrive, everyone seems to abandon their original choices and decide to partake in eating all of the appetizer that I really wanted. I don’t know how many times I have sat at the table watching as everyone dove into the fried mozzarella that I so desperately wanted and all I got were the crumbs left on the plate that I had to poke with my finger, with a shot of leftover marinara sauce.

endless appetizers at tgi fridays

What’s the answer you may ask? I say to you…Endless Appetizers at TGI Fridays! YES! Right now you can head to your local TGI Fridays restaurant and enjoy a continuous supply of some of their most famous appetizers and receive unlimited refills of that same appetizer during your visit.

endless appetizers at tgi fridays

I thought this was too good to pass up so we headed out to a nearby TGI Fridays as a family. Walked in, asked for a table for ten, and prepared for appetizer-bliss to begin! There was no arguing or whining because everyone had something they liked headed their way. We ordered Boneless Buffalo Wings, Crispy Green Bean Fries, Mozzarella Sticks, and Pan-Seared Pot Stickers and they must have come back with and refilled the plates no less than three times!

endless appetizers at tgi fridays

You, your family and/or friends can take advantage of this event going on at participating TGI Fridays through the month of August. I suggest that you hurry up and stuff your face while the getting is…UNLIMITED!

5 Ways to Spoil Mom on Mother’s Day + HoneyBaked Giveaway

This is a partnered post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mother’s Day. Growing up it was a day that I presented my mom with masterpieces of art that consisted of construction paper with dried beans or pasta glued to it. When I got older it was often a card or coffee mug. I still honor my mom on Mother’s Day, but my attention has also shifted to honor the mother of my three children. Giving her a paper with pasta glued to it just isn’t gonna cut it. So, here are a few ways you can honor the mother of your children this Mother’s Day in ways that will make her feel very appreciated.

Mother's Day Gifts

5 Ways to Spoil Mom on Mother’s Day

  1. Flowers: The flower thing…I don’t get. But, it’s not about me nor do I need to understand it. Women get it though and from what I know most all moms are women. So, what does this mean? It means moms dig flowers. So pony up some pennies for some petals and get mom some flowers this mother’s day and make her day.
  2. Spa Day: What better place for mom to go than somewhere that revolves around making her feel and look even more beautiful than she already is. Buy mom a big gift card and set her free so that she can get whatever she wants. Manicure and pedicure? Done. Relaxing massage? Done. Weird body scrub? Done. Funky face mask? Done. They will take care of mom. Especially her uni-brow.
  3. Cook: Most of us know that the kitchen is usually mom’s domain, like dad’s is the garage…or that second bathroom. Day in and day out mom is serving up breakfasts, pumping out lunches, and delivering dinners to her family. It takes a bunch of effort to do it and she deserves a day off. With the help of HoneyBaked, take her place for the day. Let HoneyBaked do most of the work, and you can take all of the credit.  Cook it up, serve it up and most importantly, clean it up!
  4. Clean: Now unless you have really deep pockets you probably can’t really get her a new house that is spic and span. What I mean is you need to try to take the house she is already living in and get that thing all gussied up! Now, you can seek out a company that comes in and takes care of everything from washing and changing the sheets to washing the floors but, what if mom came home and knew that YOU did all that work yourself? What if she knew that you used your own elbow grease to clean those baseboards and scrub that toilet? Either way I bet she’d dig it.
  5. Rest: Get all those loud kids out of the house, take them somewhere dad has to wrangle them for a while, and let mom do whatever she wants to do in peace and quiet. If she wants to sit around and eat sushi while watching reruns of Saved by the Bell in mommy pants…then she can. Doesn’t matter what she does or doesn’t do, she can do it without having to hear “mommy!” Silence is golden.

A little bit of spoiling doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Show mom how much she means to you with one of these Mother’s Day gift ideas.

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Easter Traditions + $50 HoneyBaked Ham Gift Card Giveaway

This is a partnered post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Easter is a big holiday in our household.  The entire day is filled with church, family, and food.  The church part is pretty much taken care of on its own and has been for hundreds of years.  The family part is easy because you were born into one and have more than likely brought your own little family into the picture.  But, that leaves one little issue left to cover…the food!

What are we having?

Who’s cooking it?

Are we going out instead?

Will there be enough time to get everything done and still have time to spend with the family? Probably not.

honeybaked ham turkey

Look, with all that goes on Easter Sunday you don’t need the family meal to be stressful. Mom doesn’t need to be spending the day before, the morning of, and all afternoon in the kitchen. It’s not right. But, there is a spiraled light at the end of the tunnel…

There is one place that can help take the weight off your shoulders, a load off your mind, and keep you out of the kitchen more this Easter.  HoneyBaked Ham is that place.

For three generations HoneyBaked Ham has been committed to bringing the authentic, spiral-sliced and glazed ham as well as other phenomenal products they’ve become legendary for. Whether it’s traditional you’re looking for or leaning in the direction of starting new traditions, HoneyBaked Ham has you covered.

HoneyBaked Ham Easter offerings

You can stay traditional with the classic HoneyBaked ham, or any of their mouthwatering turkey selections, or you can think outside of the box with a sandwich bar. A winning combo includes tender HoneyBaked Ham, Swiss cheese and golden yellow mustard.

However, if you really want to be bold and think differently this year…think beef. From prime rib to tenderloin, HoneyBaked is your source for the finest beef dishes. Pot Roast, Sliced Beef Brisket, and even Beef Wellington are some of the choices that you could bring to your table this Easter.

And it doesn’t stop with the entree’s. With side dishes like Broccoli Rice Casserole, Yukon Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Soufflé, and Cornbread Dressing, no one will the leave table hungry this Easter.

To help you with your Easter lunch or dinner, I have a $50 HoneyBaked Ham gift card for one lucky reader.

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The Gift of Sleep

There’s just something about brand new parents. I love seeing and hearing about them starting down the long, never-ending road of parenting. From the pregnancy adventures to stories of the patience-testing toddler years, so many smiles are had during these times.

But there is one time in particular that I really dig.

The excitement as new parents experience things for the first time that they have only read about and heard second hand from other parents.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. All that is great but what I REALLY love hearing about is all of the horrible, messy, stinky, aggravating, and overall sucky things that happen to parents. The sheer terror in never knowing if your going to get just a burp or a full fledged Exorcist re-enactment. The dread of diaper changing as you hear the flatulent explosion that happens inside that bundle of previously unblemished diaper. The bewilderment of how all of a sudden your little blessing’s poop went from mustard consistency to looking like a cross between a melted Milky Way bar and beef stroganoff. And worst of all, the agonizing thought of if you will ever be able to catch up on sleep again.

Sleep during this time is rough for a parents. As parents, we need our sleep to be able to function to the fullest for our families. I had the opportunity to help out a new family with the gift of sleep because of my partnership with Pampers.

pampers gift of sleep

Hopefully, after all of this “Pamper-ing“, these new parents can get some sleep and rest up, because they are gonna need it with all of the diapers they are going to change.

I Have the Need for Speed | Behind-the-Scenes Featurette with Aaron Paul

I like fast cars. That’s why I drive a 2013 Mustang GT. There is just something about hopping in my car, rolling the windows down and hearing the loud bass-y rumble from the tailpipes.

{Don’t judge!}

On March 14, 2014 Dreamworks’ Need for Speed will be speeding into theaters nationwide. My wife doesn’t know it, but I already have a date with my two boys to go see this film.

How can you not enjoy this short featurette of Aaron Paul learning how to stunt drive? How cool would it be to know just how far you can push it without hurting yourself or anyone else, but getting the high from going fast and making wicked crazy turns.  I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

need for speed poster

Like Need for Speed on Facebook, follow on Twitter, follow on Tumblr and follow on Instagram.

Marvel’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD Clip

Surely you are as excited as I am, right? The boys and I will be first in line on release day!

Like THOR on Facebook, follow THOR on Twitter or visit the website!

THOR: THE DARK WORLD releases in theaters on November 8, 2013!

14 Things You Must Do When Visiting Universal Orlando

OrlandoEntrance

As some of you may know we took a little excursion down to the land of sporadic rain showers and an immense amount of lizards…the state of Florida. I was asked by Universal Studios to come and play for the weekend and cover some very exclusive events revolving around Despicable Me 2. I’ll fill you in on the Despicable Me 2 stuffage in another post, but here in this post I wanted to tell you about everything else that we experienced. I wanted to make this list to fill you in on things that I think that are not to be missed and I just like to tell all of you what to do.

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  1. Stay at a Universal Studios Hotel: During our time in Orlando we stayed at the Portifino Bay Resort just minutes from the parks. Not only are you just a shuttle, short walk, or river taxi ride away from the parks, but the hotels offer express passes given to every guest that enables them to skip the regular lines and get into the attractions a little bit faster. It was very beneficial to be so close to the hotel when we were in the park and torrential rain came down on us faster than you can say “E.T. phone home”. We were able to walk out of the park and within five minutes we were shivering in the comfort of our own room. Not to mention the pools, fantabulous dining options, and stupendous staff at the Portifino that made our stay easy and memorable.
  2. A Private Tour: Ever wonder what is behind certain areas of parks that say “Employees Only” or “No Entrance to People Without a Costume Head?” Well, with a private tour at Universal Studios you can be lead behind all of those and even more. We had a guide that showed us the inner workings of the Spiderman ride, informed us on endless amounts of facts and trivia, and then proceeded to lead us to the front of every ride that we wanted to experience. We even rode a few a couple of times in a row…because we could! There are different times, prices, and options to check out if this is something that sounds like a winner to you. Head of the line? Yes please!
  3. The Cat in the Hat Ride: If you are a fan of Dr. Suess or just read the book The Cat in the Hat when you were younger, then you will really appreciate this ride. The ride is filled with just as many surprises as you round a corner as it does when you turn a page in the book. Perfect for feeding kids imaginations and great at scratching the nostalgic itch of adults.

spiderman attraction at universal studios orlando

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman Ride: How many times does an attraction have to be deemed “The Best” before you finally break down and try it? I only had to be asked once and I was ready to swing into action on this ride. Yeah, sure there are newer rides and I’m sure some hardcore comic fans would nitpick characters and plot points of the ride, but none of that really matters once you get into the action. If I had to give some words to describe the ride I would have to say that it is spectacular, ultimate, superior,and just plain amazing.

transformers the ride universal studios orlando

  1. Transformers The Ride-3D: Never has the anticipation of anything brought me closer to the point of peeing my pants than this ride. It may sound silly, I know. A grown man getting all hyped up about a ride that centers around robots from a distant planet that can change forms in an instant, that wage war upon two differing factions within their own race, threaten all humanity when their war comes to our planet, has been a very successful toy line for over 30 years, and introduced the new Camaro? Yes. This property does do that. I know women that pee by jumping just once on a trampoline and guys that tinkle when they sneeze. So there. My excitement is justified. It is not to be missed. The newest of the new and the best of the best. ROLL OUT!

transformers gift shop universal studios orlando

  1. The Transformers Gift Shop: Yeah, sure there are tons of Transformers in just about every store you go to. Shelves filled with the same old items that every other store has. But then empty again just as soon as a brand new figure comes out. What if I told you that there was a store that had every Transformers toy or memorabilia that your heart desired. Well then…the gift shop at Transformers the ride should be your destination. One of the best things is that you can find exclusive items that you can’t find anywhere else except Universal Studios. From the series from the 80′s known as Generation 1 to the current incarnations of the live action movie and Transformers Prime, make sure you stop in here to spend some time before you ROLL OUT of the park.

picture with trex at universal studios orlando

  1. Pose for a Picture with the T-Rex: How often do you get a chance to pose with a T-Rex that won’t actually bite you in half right after you snap a photo. Yes, I know there is a Spinosaurus lurking around another path in the Jurassic Park area, but I don’t like the Spinosaurus. Everyone knows that the T-Rex should have won against the Spinosaurus in Jurassic Park 3, So, let’s make sure that ‘ol Rexy gets the attention he deserves.
  2. E.T. Adventure: Our tour guide informed us that Steven Spielberg said he would never ever make a sequel to the beloved movie E.T. Like most kids who saw this movie when they were young, I often wondered what E.T.’s home planet looked like. Spielberg did however, say that if there was to ever be anything that followed up the original movie, the ride at Universal Orlando would be the exact story and visuals that he would desire. Whether you’re an adult or a child, this ride would satisfy the question that we would all love to ask the little Reese’s Pieces lover himself….E.T., where’s home…and what’s it like?

despicable me minion mayhem

  1. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem:  One of the most entertaining 3D rides out there today.  You and your group are transformed into Minions and set out on an adventure throughout the lair of one of the notorious villains ever, Gru!  I knew all along that I wouldn’t cut it as a Minion, but I guess you will have to find out how you got that way, how you get back to normal, and how you save the day in the process.  It is really cool to see how Gru and his family work so great together in this ride…almost like a team!
  2. The Simpsons Ride: A truly entertaining ride from the waiting line to the exit of the building. My kids aren’t really old enough to appreciate or be allowed to watch The Simpsons, but from what they see and hear from the ride they really get a kick out of the family. My daughter hates real roller coasters, my middle boy loves them, and my youngest son is, well, too young. This ride is kinda like experiencing a 3D roller coaster with the added benefit of air conditioning.
  3. The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: If you are a Harry Potter fan then this is not to be missed. To be able to fly around in the World of Harry Potter through a magical 3D experience is totally rad. Elements from different films all rolled into one concise adventure is what you’ll find here. From dragons and spiders to Quidditch and the Womping Willow you will be blown away at how deep they dive into the franchise. Just remember: Help will always be given to those who need it at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

ollivanders wand shop universal orlando

  1. Ollivander’s Wand Shop: A full on performance is what you’ll get at Ollivander’s. As you walk into a small room stacked to the ceiling with thousands of boxes of wands you will be greeted by employee’s of the wand shop and then hopefully be the one who is chosen to see what wand chooses you.

sirius black wand

  1. Buy a Wand at the Gift Shop: Because you can only get by with pretending that a simple chopstick from the local Chinese buffet is a phoenix feather core with a holly exterior. Buy one…just buy one.

butterbeer from three broomsticks

  1. Have a Butterbeer: I really shouldn’t have to say anything else. It’s Butterbeer. But, if you’re still on the fence and want to know more I can give you guys a few details. Butterbeer is kinda like a cream soda on crack. Great butterscotch flavor topped off with a caramel tasting frothy foam. It is sold in a cup or collectible cup and is served chilled or frozen. Again, I say to all of you…when you go, you better get a Butterbeer.

If you can only plan one vacation or getaway for the entire year and you have to satisfy people from young to not-so-young, Universal Orlando has to be it.  My seven year old thought it was “epic-ly awesome” as he told us.  I thought it was more entertaining than ANY other theme park or family destination that I have been to anywhere in the country.  It’s going to take quite a bit to top Universal Orlando as my favorite pick to take my family for our next trip.

The Lost Episodes Part 2: Episode 47 of Daddy Digest the Podcast

Foursquare Rehab

foursquare

I think I need a step program. Maybe I need to attend meeting for people with addictions. Maybe I am in need of an intervention. I might even need a watchdog to look over every move I make. You see…. I am addict. I am an addicted to Foursquare.

Not the game played on asphalt that uses little squares and a big red playground ball. No. I’m talking about the app that you have on your mobile device. Foursquare is an app that allows you to “check in” to any type of venue, business, event, restaurant, attraction, museum, grassy meadow, pothole, or house on the planet. You get awarded points for checking in and then are pit against your social friends in a battle to see who is the busiest body in your circle. You can unlock badges, then different levels in the badges (example: I am a Level 5 Mexican food master) and then finally when you visit a place the most you become the mayor. I never thought about running for an office but obviously Foursquare thinks that I need to bring some sort of authority over to the Toy’s R Us near me.

It started out as something innocent…doesn’t it always? I checked in to a few places and kinda got a cool sense of that I was out on the town and contributing to the social atmosphere with my awesome check in’s. My wife then got the app and we started checking in together. We got extra points for checking in at the same time, going into the same places, returning together at places. Then I noticed that other people had visited some of the same places I had. Then…I noticed that they…stole…my…mayorship from me. I would not stand for this. They thought this was a game and I was not playing around.

I checked in everywhere I could. Night and day. I was getting obsessed. The more I checked in, the bigger the target got on my back. I was sick to my stomach at the thought of logging in and seeing how many red-numbered notifications I had of someone stealing a place from me, becoming mayor, or worse….a friend request of someone who undoubtedly would one day aspire to steal what I had won. Nothing is worse that to log in and see that your wife has stolen five mayorships in one trip to the mall.

I am doing better now. I don’t have to check in to places in my house like the couch, the bed, or even the attic just so I can hold on to mayorships much anymore. When I see someone checking in to one of my places I just put my phone away and daydream about smashing their phone with a sledgehammer.

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