The Food of Champions

The FightThe Picky EatersI am going to start this off by saying that I love my children immensely. However, there is a constant fight in our house that I believe we will have for many years to come. We constantly fight about food and eating in general. I know I have touched on this subject a little bit before and I am going to expand on it here because honestly, it is exhausting. I will never tell you how to raise your kids, as I have learned that nobody can know how to raise your growing mutants more than you.

I have two mutants (yes they are mutants because they are constantly evolving every day). And because of their growing mutant abilities they have completely different tastes when it comes to food.

Alien Salads

Alien Salads

The oldest is very picky and really does not eat meat. Every-so-often we can get him to eat a cheeseburger from a fast food restaurant that starts with M and ends with cDonalds. I don’t really consider it meat, but he eats it. Every-so-often I can get him to eat a hotdog. Again, not really meat. I don’t mind the fact that he loves fruits and veggies, and loves pasta (only with butter and garlic of course, for his refined pallet).

Pasta that neither of the mutants will touch

Pasta that neither of the mutants will touch

The youngest will try anything meat. He likes beef, pork (especially the pulled or bacon-y kind), fish, poultry, eggs…the list goes on. Now veggies, he is a little bit picky and it takes a trained negotiator (my wife) to get him to eat some beans or broccoli sometimes. The thing with “N” is that he likes his food different. He likes it cut up, or with multiple dipping sauces (a kid after my own heart). He also likes to negotiate everything. And I will tell you this kid is tough. He knows our tactics and is skilled at getting around them.

Now these are not the only issues that we have at dinner time. “A” has ADHD among other things and honestly has a hard time sitting down for long periods of time. This has made eating out or just eating at home a challenge because it is a challenge to get him to stay in his seat for an entire meal. Now as any young brother would do, he copies his big brother but takes it to new levels running around the table and into the living room with his meal in his hands. This usually ends with the parental units yelling and threatening an early bedtime after numerous laps and calmer requests.

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza

We realize where we can take our children to eat so we don’t go to nice restaurants with them. We go to fast food places, or the family diner, or the Chinese buffet so that they can get up and out of their seats and pick the things they like. At home we deal with the running (to some extent) as long as the food is being eaten. I also make three different meals when I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner because; honestly, it isn’t that much more work. This way I can make sure that everyone eats at least something. For instance, last week I made two different pizzas for dinner. One for my wife, my mother and I was a ranch chicken pizza (which neither of the boys will eat). The other pizza was half sauce with a little bit of cheese for “A” and the other half was oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and a good amount of cheese for “N”. We all had salad (different dressings for everyone). The best part is that everyone ate their meal with very little negotiating and not a lot more work.

It works for our family. It may not work for yours. But I would rather put in the extra work to keep the sanity.

I would love to hear your meal-time stories. I would love to hear how your family deals with the horrors that are picky eaters. Please leave a comment or email me your stories and how you deal with it.

 

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Weekend Review July 28, 2014

Utility Belt

Episode 2

2014-04-12 18.17.07

So this is Part 2 of our 4 Part series on our at-home drive-in theatre. If you want to see Part 1 on the Blu-ray Player Click Here . Today I am going to be concentrating on the sound. Which means the speaker system that we bought to improve the sound quality, because, honestly, the sound coming from the projector is seriously lacking. I wanted something that would be easy to move and be easy to connect since I would be moving it to and from our backyard for our movie nights. That brought me to our next review.

Arion Legacy AR506-BK 2.1 Speaker System with Dual Subwoofers

amazon.com

amazon.com

I went with a gaming PC speaker system because it was compact, easy to move, and quick to set up as all you have to do is plug the speakers into the subwoofer, plug the subwoofer into the back of the projector with the RCA to 3.5mm wire, and plug the subwoofer into a power outlet. Easy set-up, easy take-down. That is the key to an outdoor movie theatre.

Description

amazon.com

amazon.com

The dual subwoofer is small, light and easy to move. The speakers plug directly into the subwoofer via RCA wires. The Subwoofer has a wired remote with volume control and a mute button. While I do not know about speaker systems I know what sounds good. And this sounds decent and gets loud enough for our needs (most of the time). It has good bass, good high ends and it does not distort. According to Amazons website where I bought it from, it has 100 watts of total peak power, the frequency response goes from 20 Hz to 20K Hz. It has dual 5″ subwoofers, 2 midrange speakers and a tweeter on each speaker. While I am sure that the wired remote is convenient for desktop use as you will be sitting right next to the thing, it is not convenient for movie watching, so usually I just turn it up all the way and let it go. At a price of $52 bucks you can’t beat it. Do I wish I got something more powerful? Yes. Do I regret the purchase? No. Definitely a good start for our little theatre, but I will be upgrading eventually.

Pros (+)

+ Easy set-up
+ Good price at $52.00
+ Decent sound quality.

Cons (-)

– Wired Remote not convenient for outdoor theatre.
– Could be louder.

Verdict

A good start for your utility belt but it isn’t the tool you want to keep. Eventually you would want to upgrade. A good tool for starting out but if you have a noisy area you may want something that can get a little louder. It is probably perfect for a computer set-up though.

amazon.com

amazon.com

The Destructicon

transformers-legends.wikia.com

transformers-legends.wikia.com

I have my very own Destructicon on my hands. It is amazing the destructive power of someone so small. His ability is unmatched by any machine. He can destroy things that one would think should not be possible. His destructive power became evident very early on when he would touch something that “A” had for years and within minutes it would be in pieces. He does not discriminate either. Matchbox cars…wheels missing. The sprinkler for the lawn…broken. Older brothers plant on the 5 minute drive home from school…bent and broken. The t.v…Wii remote flung against the screen (luckily only a chip in the bottom). And it goes on, and on, and on. There is nothing he cannot destroy.

tfw2005.com

tfw2005.com

 

Right now it really is annoying and I hate it because “N” just breaks things without even trying (or is he trying). I believe that he is trying. I think that he (although he can’t articulate it) really is curious about the world around him and wants to figure out what makes something work. I cannot not wait for him to get to the stage where he knows that is what he is doing and wants to systematically take something apart to see how it works and then see if he can put it back together. I will gladly foster that ride. I will gladly let him take apart the old dvd player to take a look inside and see if he can put it back together. I will gladly let him help me try to figure out why the lawnmower won’t start. I will gladly follow him on his journey.

The destructive force

The destructive force

Until then, I will have to be Optimus Prime trying to keep Grimlock and the rest of the Dinobots from destroying the world they do not understand around them.

Weekend Review July 21, 2014

Utility Belt

Episode 1

2014-04-12 18.17.07

It has been a while since I have done a review so it is good to get back on the saddle again and add some products to our Super-Dad Utility Belt.

This is going to be part 1 of a 4 part series. We noticed that our kids remember the activities, adventures, and the things we do more then the things we buy for them. So we figured we would start trying to do things more for special occasions instead of buying them more stuff that will soon be forgotten. Since the boys birthdays are 14 days apart and we celebrate their birthdays together (for now), we thought what can we do to make it memorable. We decided that since our family loves movies so much but hates going to the theatre because it costs a fortune and our kids cannot sit through a movie to save their lives we would create our own drive in theatre in our backyard. This review is going to be about the first part of the setup, The Blu-ray player. Part 2 will be about the sound, Part 3 will focus on the projector and Part 4 will be all about the most important part, the screen. So without further ado, on with the show.

Sony – Smart 3D Wi-Fi Built-In Blu-ray Player

bestbuy.com

bestbuy.com

I really like our first Sony Blu-ray player so I decided to upgrade for our new one and get the 3D version with built-in Wi-Fi. Now, we don’t own any 3D movies or glasses yet, but I thought that I would go the 3D route incase we did want some.

Description

Now if you have used Sony products before, not much has changed as the set up and information screens are very similar to what we have on our Blu-ray player which is about 6 years old, so using it, and the remote was simple. Set-up is a snap and the only issue I had was getting it to connect to the Wi-Fi. It works almost perfectly now. Although, it does freeze up on occasion and I have to unplug it from the power strip and plug it back in to get it to respond. This is something our older Sony Blu-ray player has never done.

As for the Smart aspect, it does have all the normally players. Netflix, Hulu+, Pandora, YouTube among numerous others are included. Since we do not have cable (post coming up on cord-cutting in the future) having all of these services is important to us.

It also has 3D playback if you have a compatible television or projector. It is a good feature to have as price isn’t too much more then blu-ray players without it. It also has 3D conversion which means you can watch 2D disks in 3D if you want. Pretty cool feature although I have yet to test it out.

It does have an Ethernet port so you can use this to stream your content instead of using the Wi-Fi if you need to, which we had to do for a while when the Wi-Fi wasn’t working properly.

bestbuy.com

bestbuy.com

A couple of cool features that my older model doesn’t have is Miracast which is a fancy way of saying that you can mirror the content you have on your smartphone onto your big screen. Good for sharing the funny videos you found online so everyone doesn’t have to crowd around your 4 inch screen. Sorry Apple fanboys, it only works with Android operating systems. The other cool feature is the TV Sideview app which you can download onto your android device and control the blu-ray player with your smartphone. I have done that before when I couldn’t find the remote after moving the blu-ray player from outside to inside the house. It also has voice recognition so you can easily search for content along with a viewing guide so you can see what shows are on now in your area. I don’t use that, because we don’t have any regular television.

Pros (+)

+ Easy set-up
+ Similar remote and configuration of other Sony products
+ Good price for a 3D blu-ray player

Cons (-)

– Freezes occasionally and cannot do anything to fix, something my older model has never done in 6+ years.
-Wi-Fi does not have great range and could not get it to connect at first.

Verdict

A definite add to your utility belt. It starts up quick, easy to use, great content through multiple apps, and good price for a 3D blu-ray player. Even if you don’t know if you are going to use it for 3D movies or not, I suggest this one over the model without because it isn’t a huge price increase and prices for the glasses keep dropping as well.

Nervous Dad

apple picking 3Today is the day. Today, “N” goes on his first field trip…on a school bus even. For Summer Recreation they are going to a local place that has mini-golf, batting cages, video games, bounce houses, go-karts and lots of fun kids stuff. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be nervous. “A” will be with him. “A” has been on lots of field trips with school. But “A” is not 4. “A” was in kindergarten when he went on his first field trip. “N” hasn’t even officially started school yet.

So, yes, I am a nervous dad. I don’t show it on the outside but I will be thinking of them the entire time they are gone. So, while they are out, no doubt having a very good time, I will work on the numerous projects that the CEO (AKA the wife) has left for me to do (which I will probably be sharing with you all when they are done).

The Joys of Home Ownership

Downed TreeLast Tuesday we had a storm come through with some pretty high winds. We have several very large trees that stand very close to our house and very close to our neighbors fence. The storm came through pretty quickly, but in that time it managed to take down a large portion of one of our trees. It was sitting on the power line (luckily it didn’t break it because of the way that it fell). It also straddled our neighbors fence. More importantly for you and me is it ripped the phone line off our house so we had no internet for computers or tv for a couple days.

treesSince then, I have been cleaning up the mess, getting quotes for taking down more of the trees and did I mention cleaning up the mess? I will continue to do this until all the branches, limbs, sticks, and brush are gone from our property.

So, wish me luck, I am going back to enjoy all that goes with owning your own home and replace my chainsaw chain, cut up some sticks, mow some lawn that has been neglected for a couple weeks, and remind myself that I love owning my own home.

Got Wood?

Got Wood?

No Weekend Review July 7, 2014

Utility Belt

nbcnews.com

nbcnews.com

I was too busy having a good time celebrating the 4th of July this weekend I decided to take it off from writing a review. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and would love to hear about how you spent it. So please, leave a comment, tweet me or put a comment on my Facebook page. Next week I will start the beginning of my 3 part series on our outdoor movie set up and let you know my thoughts on it.

A Child’s Imagination

Story Telling

disneyfoodblog.com

disneyfoodblog.com

I have noticed that “N” loves to tell stories. He always has some story to tell. The great part is, like every good story they have some basis in reality. He likes to start off his stories by saying “remember that time?”

I love his stories. It is great that at 4 years old he has such a great big imagination. It is amazing how much detail he puts into every story. All the details he puts in is truly spectacular to hear. You can ask him questions as he is going along and he can put in even greater details. He tells stories, about ninjas, coyotes that he heard at grandma’s house, spaceships, dragons, bears, or anything else he might of seen or heard of. One day, I will have to turn one of his stories into a book.

That is the great thing about children in general. Their imaginations are limitless. It is our responsibility as parents and adults to nourish it and help it grow. We should never squash that spark that burns deep inside their growing brains. We need to give it life and make sure that it grows into a raging forest fire that will never burn out. So, read to your children, talk to your children about stories, watch shows, play games that encourage imagination and help your child grow. It will help them to think critically when they are in the workforce and have original ideas so that they can be productive, loving, thoughtful adults. So be that spark that helps your child grow. Help them tell their Never Ending Story.

The Never Ending Story

theatlantic.com