Tag Archives: family

The #PowerofDad is a Lasting Legacy

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Even though I’ve been a dad for six years, I’m not sure Father’s Day will ever truly feel like it’s for me. Because it’s for my dad.

When I talk about the #PowerofDad, I’m talking about the impact dads truly have on kids. Despite grounding me and harping on me at every turn for my entire life, my dad is and will continue to be one of my best friends. My mentor. My guide through uncertainty. He’s the first one I want to call with good news and he’s the one whose advice I seek when things go awry.

In short, the #PowerofDad is the ability to raise a strong, confident, compassionate kid who, in turn, passes his power down to the next generation like I’m doing with my kids. As a tribute this Father’s Day, here are some things my dad taught me that had a powerful impact on my life.

LOYALTY AT ALL COSTS
Sports is VERY important in our house. Boston sports. Namely the Red Sox and Patriots. My dad is a lifelong Sox fan and has had Patriots season tickets for more than 40 years. I grew up with tortured stories about failed Red Sox teams and Game 6 of the ’86 World Series was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. But whether the ball rolls through Buckner’s legs or you freeze your ass off on aluminum benches in a freezing blizzard, my dad taught me the importance of showing up. Rooting on your team. And NEVER leaving before the final whistle.

MAKE IT ABOUT MORE THAN JUST YOU
My dad helps run a local business, but his contributions don’t stop there. He has twice served as a selectman in our small New England town, which means he’s part of a board that sets policy and makes important decisions that impact the town. He has also served on the Finance Committee (appointed at 18 while still in high school), is the current Town Moderator, writes a local politics column in the daily newspaper, and even had a cable access TV show. It meant spending less time at home, but it also meant taking an active role in making sure my hometown remained a nice place to live. Too few people give of themselves, and my dad taught me to think about others in addition to my own.

SPEAK UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT
I think this one might be genetic, as most of you know I don’t have a problem speaking up when I feel passionately about something. The right thing is seldom easy, and my dad never lets the wind of popular opinion blow him off course. When the local police department wanted to limit its search for a new chief only to candidates in town, he told them it makes more sense to search everywhere instead of just in your backyard. Pissing off the police is never fun. And let’s just say standing up for things like gay marriage wasn’t always chic, but my dad did. And each time he publicly expressed an unpopular opinion, we’d have a busted mailbox and sometimes even death threats to show for it. But right is right, and I carry that with me.

ALWAYS BE PASSIONATE
Come over to our house to watch a sporting event. I dare you. My dad is a nervous wreck. He paces, he yells, he runs around the house, and he has an array of lucky objects that he swears bring our teams luck. But whether it’s an epic meltdown or a wild celebration, people come over just to see what will happen next when we watch a game. And when we attend in person, we leave our hearts in the stands. My dad takes that approach to sports and applies it to writing, family, and everything else he does. So while I might get a little heated sometimes, I’d rather be filled with passion than a bump on a log.

NEVER STOP COMMUNICATING
Family dinners are debates. Picnics turn into philosophical discussions. And the wit is as acerbic as it is quick. But we talk — we always talk. MJ and I never go to bed angry because we resolve our issues. Will is excelling at writing because we stress the importance of communication at every turn. And my father has been chosen to deliver more than two dozen eulogies, which seems macabre at first until you realize what a huge honor it is to deliver someone’s final public sendoff. It’s difficult and unpleasant, but hugely important and a great privilege.

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Sam at the grave of my father-in-law George — whose eulogy I delivered last year.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lessons my dad has taught me, but I’m incredibly appreciative to have had such a great example of how to raise my boys. And if you’re looking for another great example of fatherhood done right, check this out:

Yup, that’s right. Oral-B just nailed fatherhood. I know you wouldn’t think a company best known for toothbrushes would be on the leading edge of involved fatherhood, yet here we are. And to top it off, they don’t stop with that kick-ass video.

Although it goes against my aforementioned sports loyalty, I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit Oral-B for enlisting the help of — oh man, this is harder than I thought — New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning. Ugh…I feel dirty just writing that name. But he and Oral-B are teaming up with the March of Dimes at an event devoted to supporting the small yet important photographic moments between fathers and their kids.

And speaking of support, I was lucky enough to receive an Oral-B Black 7000 Electric Toothbrush. It’s actually half robot half toothbrush. Seriously, this thing is the Rolls Royce of toothbrushes. It’s got multiple brushes and six different modes — including tongue cleaning. There is also pressure sensor technology that lets you know if you’re applying too much pressure. I’m not making this up.

And when you turn it on, it syncs up to a digital timer that lets you know the optimal time to brush, and even gives you a smiley face afterward. It sounds excessive, but my 6-year-old is freaking pumped on a daily basis to visit with his sentient robot toothbrush pal for brushing, a game of chess, and planning world domination. Or at least brushing.

If you want in on this ridiculously advanced technological toothbrushing movement, you’re in luck. Here’s an exclusive $7 off coupon.

So keep your robot toothbrush close and your dads even closer this Father’s Day, as we look past the Hallmark cheesiness and remember to celebrate the #PowerofDad

***I partnered with Oral-B and Life of Dad, LLC for the #PowerofDad Father’s Day promotion and was compensated for my involvement.

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Why I Always Tell My Son He Can Do Better

pats_game Will stands at home plate, bat in hand, eyeing the pitcher. His back elbow is up, the bat is off his shoulder, and his feet are shoulder-width apart — just like we practice in the backyard. The ball comes toward him, he swings, and he misses.

And that’s when things go south. Because if Will doesn’t do things right the first time, he gets pissy. Just like his old man.

Immediately I watch his body language change to express defeat. His elbow drops, the bat languishes on his shoulder, and his feet are together. The next swing is lackadaisical and another miss. The one after that is even worse. Soon he’s just absently swatting at the ball with a frown on his face, forgetting everything we’ve worked on because he didn’t get instant gratification.

Eventually he makes contact and runs down to first base, where he stands on the bag and looks for me on the sidelines. He raises his eyebrows and tentatively gives me a “thumbs up.” He’s seeking my approval, as he does after every single play. I want to give it to him. I really do.

But I don’t this time. Because it’s not deserved, he didn’t try very hard, and I know he can do better.

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Teach Kids to Eat Flatout Healthy

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It’s never too early to get your kids eating right.

This is a struggle for me because I never learned healthy eating habits. You’ll seldom hear me complain about my upbringing because my parents were rock stars and I never wanted for anything. But when two busy parents who aren’t cooks combine with the schedules of two busy kids, the result for us was lots of take-out. As in 3-5 times a week. That was just my norm and I carried those habits to college and into my early 20s, during which time I stayed alive by eating copious amounts of Chinese food and pizza.

Then I met MJ, the culinary wizard who would eventually show me the light.

When I lost 60 lbs a couple of years ago I did it by eating right with MJ’s help. She took care of breakfast and dinner for me, but my big problem was lunch. Because she’s not my maid, she justifiably refused to do EVERYTHING for me, and told me I was responsible for lunch. Usually I’d just buy lunch, but because I was in a weight loss competition I had to count my calories and eat healthy.

My main hangup is carbs. I love em — especially white bread. I did the math and realized I’d never fit under my calorie cap if I kept scarfing down white bread all the time, but I also didn’t want to sacrifice taste. Thankfully I found my answer in Flatout.

These wraps and Fold-Its meant I could eat healthier without eating healthy stuff that tastes like cardboard. And the result was losing 60 lbs in just 5 months with diet and exercise.

Unfortunately I got away from my healthy eating habits recently and I’ve put 40 of that 60 back on. Will, my oldest, has taken notice of my weight gain and because we’ve talked to him about the health impacts involved with obesity and the importance of eating right, he’s now concerned about my health. And that’s unacceptable.

So now I’m back on Flatout for my lunches and they’re great for deli meat like turkey and cheese with some lettuce and tomato thrown in there. The Sundried Tomato wrap is my favorite for sandwiches. But with Will’s help, I’ve discovered a new favorite.

Thin-crust Flatout pizza!

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It’s so simple but it tastes so frickin’ good. Just grab some Thin Crust Flatbreads Artisan Pizza (I suggest the Spicy Italian), some pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings and go to town. Or, just follow this future gourmet’s lead.

But then I challenged my wife to come up with something new and creative.

I wanted to know if she could come up with a semi-healthy dessert incorporating my favorite Flatouts, because people with a sweet tooth have a damn hard time going cold turkey when trying to eat right. And, like usual, she didn’t disappoint. I’m calling this recipe “The Martha Jean,” and I’m describing it as “a cheesecake like substance mixed with fruit and flatbread.”

THE RECIPE

Low fat cream cheese (8 oz)
Ricotta cheese (1 cup)
Sugar (3 tbsp)
Vanilla extract (1 tsp)
Mini chocolate chips (1/4 cup)
Strawberries (or whatever fruit you love)
Whole wheat flatout bread
Melted butter
Sugar and cinnamon

First you want to whip the cream cheese, then add ricotta
Blend together until smooth
Add 1 tbsp of sugar in at a time while stirring
Add in vanilla extract
Add in chocolate chips
Put the oven on broil and cook the flatbread
Melt the butter and brush it on flatbread
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar

Here’s the end result:IMG_0961

And here’s the best news. You can win a whole bunch of Flatout products for your own family meals. All you have to do is follow @daddyfiles and @FlatoutbreadBOS on Twitter, and then tweet us letting us know what you’d do with a Flatout prize pack. If you don’t have Twitter, leave a comment here. I’ll pick a winner in a week.

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Disclaimer: I was compensated by Flatout for this post, but as always my opinions are my own and I only endorse products I’ve used personally and would recommend to everyone.

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Working Parents Have It Tough

wheresdadWill, who will be six years old in April, was asked by his kindergarten teacher to draw a picture of his family. The picture to the left is the result.

When I saw it, I mistakenly thought he forgot about Sam, our newest addition. “Hey buddy, there I am with mom and we’re holding your hand, but I think you forgot about Sam, silly,” I said with a grin. His face immediately turned pale and his eyes darted furiously from me to his mother to the picture. His face contorted into a panicked look, leaving little doubt tears would be following closely behind.

“Sorry dad, I forgot to draw you in our family…because you’re always working.”

He would go on to tell me that while he loves me, he just loves his mom more. Ouch. Cue Cat’s in the Cradle with a side of massive working parent guilt.

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Of Miter Saws and Roses

georgemj_wed2George is my father-in-law. I love George. Very much. I haven’t written about him since June, mainly because that’s when he died. June 21 — the summer equinox. The irony of the guy with the brightest and warmest personality having his light snuffed out on the day the sun shines the longest, wasn’t lost on any of us.

George was a man’s man.

Seriously, he was a dude. The man was a military veteran and worked as a master plumber for many years. One look at his rough, calloused hands told you he was a man who built things. Fixed things. We lived five minutes from him for five years, which means he fixed just about everything in our house. And when he was done he’d have a drink. Or 14. Because even well into his 70s he could still drink me and half my friends under the table. Then, the next morning, he’d somehow tiptoe around the oncoming hangover so he could get to the gym at 5 a.m.

George was a ladies man.

That’s not to say he stepped out on my mother-in-law. Hell no. She was his one and only. But in the middle of those 14 drinks, George would start telling stories. Stories of lost virginity on golf courses (can you say hole in one??) and bawdy tales of lively girls who populated ports of call. One time, before a concert, a total stranger walked up to George, ran her fingers through his notoriously luscious hair, and gave him $20 for being handsome. Know what he said after that? “Happens all the time.”

George was a tough guy.

Shortly before I married MJ, he took me aside one day to talk. He got me a drink, put his arm around me, and told me he loved me and welcomed me to the family. Then he told me if I ever hurt his little girl he’d cut my penis off. To convince me he wasn’t joking, he showed me a variety of tools from his basement he’d use to make it happen.

Those tools in that basement are among the things we’re cleaning out of his house, some eight months after cancer finally overcame the man I believed to be invincible. Thanks to George we’ve now inherited a bunch of useful equipment like circular saws and a miter saw and dozens of other manly things about which I have nary a clue.

George’s basement was a den of masculinity, and everything you’d expect from a hard-drinking veteran tradesman.

Except for the roses.

Black and dried with age, they were part of a bouquet. A wedding bouquet. MJ’s wedding bouquet, to be exact, which can be seen in the picture at the top of this post. The manliest man I’ve ever known had a bouquet of dried roses meticulously tucked away for eight years amidst a sea of tools and heavy equipment.

You see, George was the only boy among six sisters. He loved clothes, and his shoe collection rivaled that of most runway models. He danced around the house, he found beauty in everything, he wasn’t afraid to cry, and — most notably — he cooked. Sweet mother of crap could he cook. The man was a culinary wizard and I don’t remember a single time going to my in-laws house when George wasn’t wearing an apron and bent over the stove.

George was a skirt-chasing, tool-wielding, repair-making, tough guy. Of that there is no doubt. But he was also a man who loved deeply and without hesitation. He could cook, he could sew, he sang to us all, danced when everyone was watching, and wasn’t afraid to cry. And it comes as no surprise he kept a sentimental bouquet of roses in his basement.

When I say my father-in-law was a man’s man, that’s the stuff I’m talking about. That’s the guy I’m trying to emulate. And that’s the man I miss dearly.

The miter saw is wonderful, but the roses made me cry.

(You can click here for George’s obituary. I’m not proud of a lot of my writing, but I’m damn proud of this)

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