Tag Archives: family

Teach Kids to Eat Flatout Healthy


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!


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.”


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.


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.

Share Button

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.

Continue reading Working Parents Have It Tough

Share Button

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)

Share Button

Keeping It Simple in 2014

simplethingsMost bloggers list their New Year’s resolutions — you know — at the start of the new year. But since most people are done with theirs by the end of January, I figured I’d start now and increase my odds of success.

Simply put, I want to simplify my life in 2014. I know, holy vagueness Batman, right? But something has been eating at me for awhile now. Something that just felt…off. I couldn’t put my finger on it for the longest time, but as usual my clarity came to me in the form of my children (isn’t that always the case?). Specifically Sam.

Sam had a touch of colic for the first few months. Colic is not fun — for anyone. One of the most frustrating parts about it is your baby, by all accounts, should be fine. Sam was fed, swaddled, and sporting a clean diaper but he just wouldn’t stop crying. It’s maddening because you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, yet you feel like nothing is working and your efforts to fix the situation represent a string of failures.

You feel inadequate, guilty, sad, and confused. And all the while the crying is ever present, loudly reminding you that you’re doing it wrong. While everyone else is reveling in parental bliss (of course this isn’t the case but it’s what was in my head), you’re the jackass who can’t do anything right.

But while the cause of colic can’t be pinned down, my woes certainly can. I worry too much and I focus on all the things I don’t have.

I left journalism and switched careers in the middle of a recession and skyrocketing unemployment, and managed to gain new skills and a much-needed higher salary.  But all I can see are the raises I was too chickenshit to ask for and the zeros that aren’t in my paycheck. We were able to muddle through near financial ruin and got back on our feet and into a really nice duplex in a great part of town. But all I can see is the word “bankruptcy” and I’m haunted by the fact that I don’t have a house of my own for our two boys to grow up in. I got to drive a Ferrari in Las Vegas, go to Fenway Park for a Red Sox playoff game with my family, and interview Drew Brees all thanks to brands who are interested in working with me this year. But all I can focus on are the other dad bloggers who are better and more successful than I am.

I could go on but you get the picture. And that picture consists of me being a whiny little crybaby.

So my 2014 vow to myself is to quit bitching so much, remove a healthy portion of the negativity from my life, and focus on keeping it simple. The important stuff. To live in the moment — because when I open my eyes and really take stock, the moment is pretty freaking great.

Sam will be crawling, walking, and talking soon. In addition to watching him progress, I get to witness the evolution of brotherhood between him and Will. And Will is reading now, picking out words, reading some short books, and even using context clues to figure out the tough words. As a dad and a writer, that warms my heart in a way I can’t even describe. And then there’s my rock star wife, who has transitioned to the role of stay-at-home mom with deft skill and a passion I only wish I could muster.

And lastly, my family is healthy. Others haven’t been so lucky, and in the end I should just be grateful there are no hospitals, heartbreaking diagnoses, and searing loss with which to deal.

More time with the family, less time sweating the small stuff. The simple fixes really are best.


lr_gripeJust like there’s a cure to my seemingly perpetual pessimism and negativity, parents dealing with a colicky baby also have a cure.

Little Remedies Gripe Water is an absolute life-saver for treating colic. A few drops of the herbal supplement made with ginger and fennel is a safe, gentle, gluten and alcohol-free formula that relieve the abdominal pain caused by colic, and even help kids sleep better. While Little Remedies did compensate me for this post, this is a product I’ve used personally and would recommend to any parent in similar circumstances.

Share Button

It’s Not Easy Being a Big Brother

willsam_straightarm“Dad, you spend too much time with Sam and not enough with me.”

He’s right. It’s true. There’s no sugarcoating it or dodging those damning words that escaped the pouty lips of my 5-year-old. We do spend more time with Sam — mainly because newborns are soul-sucking bags of flesh who spend the first few months of their lives torturing the hell out of parents and using up all of our sleep, intelligence, and basic ability to function as human beings. Which is to say there’s not much time or energy left over after we’re done dealing with Sam, and Will has been getting shafted.

I looked into Will’s sad, soulful blue eyes and felt pity. Mainly because, well — it’s not going to get much easier for him as a big brother.

Continue reading It’s Not Easy Being a Big Brother

Share Button