The Field Trip

FieldtripMy youngest, who is in Pre-K had his first fieldtrip a few weeks back. I am lucky enough because I get to go on these field trips with him. One of the perks of being a Stay-at-home dad. One of his classmates parents owns a farm so the kids got to visit the farm and see cows, pigs, chickens, go on a hay ride, and all the kids got to pick out a pumpkin.

Fieldtrip 2The thing that stuck out to me most was the amount of dads who chaperoned the fieldtrip. I would say almost half the adults there were of the dad or grand-dad persuasion. I am so happy to see so many dads, especially working dads involved in their children’s lives.

It got me thinking because I drop off and pick up my kids everyday at school. I am at the building three times every day. I have been looking around, and I am not the anomaly there. There are lots of dads picking up and dropping their kids off. Lots of hugs, and kisses. Lots of comforting. Lots of dads not being the typical macho guy who doesn’t do anything besides earn for the family.

But, yesterday, I heard two moms talking and laughing at their husbands expense. I had to do everything to hold my tongue as they bashed their husbands about everything they do around the house and how they can’t seem to figure out how to do things the way that they (the women) like it done. Just because it isn’t your way doesn’t mean it is wrong. My wife and I do things much different around the house. But yet, here I am the primary caregiver of my children and not one kid has been scarred for life under my watch and I am sure not one of their children or households has been seriously injured under their husbands either.

I remember when I was in school, not many dads were involved in anything besides attending their son’s athletics. It is great to see how some things change, but it is obvious that there are still so many things that need to change, even just in that perception of what it means to be a dad.

Weekend Review September 8, 2014

Weapons Training

Listen up maggots, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and start shooting some guns! How else are you going to survive the zombie apocalypse when it happens? So, put on your vest, grab your gun and start shooting.

Laserquest.com

Laserquest.com

Laser Quest

We recently went to play Laser Tag at Laser Quest on a hot but rainy Labor Day. Can I just say…It was a blast!

Description

If you don’t know what laser tag is watch the video.

You done watching the video? Good. Pretty self explanatory, huh? Well, that does a better job of explaining and showing what Laser Quest is then me. But, to add to it, they have video games, foosball, air hockey and other games in the area you wait before being let into the briefing room where you learn about the rules of the game. They also have a few big party rooms for birthdays or other events.

Basically, they brief you, you get your vest and gun, activate it, go in and try to kill everyone. And by kill I mean try to get the best score out of all the people playing by shooting their sensors and not letting them shoot yours. The games are 15 minutes long which actually seems pretty long once you are running around this big maze which is lit only by black lights.

 Verdict

You definitely have to try it if there is one near you. So Click Here to find out if there is one in your neck of the woods. Every one enjoyed it. The only thing I can say is I wish they had some smaller vests, because while younger kids can play, the vest doesn’t fit on a smaller child like my 4 year old “N”. His mother and I had to take turns wearing the vest while he had the gun (which is attached to the vest by the way). So we had to follow this little terror around as he ran stalked after girls totally annihilating them. It is pretty difficult to do, but also a lot of fun. Also, leave your pride at the door to the briefing room because once you get in there you will quickly realize that you are going to be beat again and again by a 4 foot tall laser shooting maniac.

 

Weekend Review August 11, 2014

Utility Belt

Episode 4

2014-04-12 18.17.07

So here we are with the final installment of our Outdoor Theatre. This is probably the most important part of the setup because without the screen you would have to project your movie onto your house or a sheet or your Uncle Ned’s backside.

If you would like to know about the other parts of the setup please check out Episode One for my review on the Sony 3D Blu-ray Player, Episode Two for my review of the Arion Legacy speaker System and Episode Three for the ViewSonic Projector.

When we were looking for a screen there were a ton of options to choose from. We thought about going with a blow-up screen for easy set-up but we ultimately decided against it because we didn’t want our sound system to compete with the blower for us to hear it for the whole movie. Like all the other components of our set-up the driving factor is portability and ease of setting it up and taking it down as we would not be leaving it up after a movie. This brings us to the one that we ended up buying.

Visual Apex ProjectoScreen120HD Projector Accessory

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

Description

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

I went with the Visual Apex because the reviews were good and it looked like it would be easy to set it up and take it down. It was big without being huge at 120″ diagonally. The screen and all the components come in a nice heavy duty carrying case which everything folds up nicely to fit back in the case. It comes with the frame, legs, screen, rope, stakes, and eye hooks. Everything can be set up by one person, but I recommend two people do it to make it go quicker and a little bit easier for some portions.

The frame for the screen unfolds easily and locks into place with minimal effort. I attached the eye hooks to the top and left them there to take one step out of set up each time. They do not get in the way when packing it back in the carry case. The eye hooks have two uses. You can use them for hanging the screen if you want to go that route or for running the rope through for stability when you use the legs.

 Now they recommend that you put the screen on while it is laying flat on the ground but I do it differently as the screen can be hard to attach on the ground. So now I attach the legs fold them open and stand up the frame. It is light so you can do this by yourself. The frame now stands at over 9 feet so you will need a step stool to attach the screen to the top portion of the frame.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

The screen is a heavy duty .32mm PVC elastic bright white material surrounded by a boarder of black with a black backing which they say helps prevent light loss. The screen is washable so if you get it dirty you can clean it with mild soap and water. On the frame there are snaps and on the screen there are the other side of the snaps so it is supposed to go on easily. This, however, is why I stand up the screen and have a second person (my wife) help with set-up. I do not think they recommend my main method for attaching the screen but have found it useful. If you have time leave the screen in its protective case and lay it in the sun for a while so that it can heat up and expand. The screen is supposed to stretch so that it is a tight fit so there will be no lines and wrinkles from when it is folded for storage. However, if you just try to attach it to the frame it is really hard to stretch to fit by yourself. This is why you leave it out in the sun so that it can warm up and be easier to stretch so that you can snap the buttons into place. We usually don’t do that though as one we never have enough light in our yard and we usually set it up just before movie time. So we have come up with another way. I will start at one of the top corners and attach the screen. My wife will go along the back with a hair dryer and heat up the material slightly so that it stretches easier. We are careful not to stay in one place too long so that it doesn’t melt as this is plastic after all. It really makes attaching the screen a lot easier and we have mastered this pretty quickly. After the screen is attached we attach the guide ropes and the stakes so it doesn’t fall over, because a small gust of wind will catch it and send it over very easily. Overall, when we first set it up it would take us about 25 minutes. Now we do it in about 10-15 minutes.

Take down, is even easier. Just pull the screen off, take the stakes out and fold everything up and put it in the bag. It takes about 10 minutes to take down. Now do be careful though. As you are folding up the screen, make sure you are not in range of the frame as your wife is pulling the stakes out, because the screen will topple over and it will hit you in the head and you will bleed and curse.

Pros (+)

+ Easy set-up in about 15 minutes
+ Easy take down in about 10 minutes
+ Light weight
+ Good price at $220.00
+ Can stand it up on legs or hang it for multiple set ups and applications.

Cons (-)

– It does take some ingenuity to get the screen attached to the frame.
– It really does hurt to get hit in the head with it.

Verdict

Add it to your utility belt. Set-up is quick and easy. Take-down is even easier. The screen is bright white and this makes for a great picture from your projector. We love this screen and its ease of use. Would love to have the 144″ screen when we upgrade our system.

Our Living-Room Set-up

Our Living-Room Set-up

The View From My Office

The Batcave

My Office

My Office

This is the best thing about being a SAHD (Stay-at-home dad). This was my office yesterday. I got to spend time with my kids and have fun at the park. I am not stuck in some tiny cubicle breathing recirculated air. I am out in the fresh air playing with my kids. Sure, I don’t get paid for it. But the perks are amazing. I bet you don’t get this with your job.

These are the days that remind me why I am a SAHD. These are the days that recharge my batteries and keep me going. These are the days that I am not worried about the cleaning, and the housework. These are the days I am not thinking about the money I don’t earn. These are the days that I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

These are the days that remind me that I have the best job in the world. Now excuse me, I have a board meeting to attend to (ie. go play with my kids).

Go Play Already

Go Play Already

Video Games

The TrainingWhen someone talks about video games and kids, it seems like everyone has opinions. I am not going to talk about the merits or perils of Grand Theft Auto or First Person Shooters. I grew up playing video games, at home (when it was first becoming popular with the Atari 2600), and in arcades (these were buildings people went to for the sole purpose of putting a quarter into a slot on the front of a giant machine to play a game). I am horrible at video games but I love video games. I love the escape from reality for a short period of time.

Playing Video GamesNow I have two little gamers that I can play games with. While there are games I will not let them play at this point in time, I do love playing with them, and they appear to enjoy playing with me. To me it isn’t about the game any more, it is more about the bonding and doing something we truly enjoy together. I know, I know. We should be outside playing and running. After all, it is summer. But this is something we can all do together and laugh and talk about. This is something we all share in common. Don’t get me wrong, we do play outside too. We do enjoy going to the pool at the school. However, if I can do something I grew up enjoying with my kids, I will.

I know that games are more realistic then when I was a kid. I know they are more violent then when I was a kid. As a parent it is my job to police what they have access to. They do not play the violent games so I am not worried about that. Besides, I do not believe violent video games make violent kids. I believe violent kids, and violent environments make violent kids. I am not concerned about them becoming obese children. I played videogames for hours on end as a kid but I also ran around my neighborhood plenty with my friends. I never got obese as a kid. My kids play plenty outside. My kids burn tons of energy during the day. I am not concerned.

I am just glad that I have something that my boys and I can enjoy and bond over together. Especially since they are both so different in there likes and dislikes. It is great to have one thing we all can do and enjoy together. So go out, find what you and your children like doing together and tell me about it. I would love to hear what you all love doing together.

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.

Summer Vacation

Super Adventures

Best Friends

Best Friends

When I was a kid I lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids on our street and a public golf course as our back yards. I loved summer vacation as a kid. We would stay all get together and play with GI Joes, Transformers, and Matchbox cars. We would build blanket forts. Best of all we would play outside. We would play hide-and-seek, tag, monkey-on-the-middle, ride bikes, and run through the sprinklers on the golf course (between dodging golfers). We would stay outside all day until dinner time, then meet back up afterwards for more fun, until it got too dark to see. We didn’t have a worry in the world. Neither did our parents. (but that is for another time).

As I watch my kids playing video games on my phone while sitting on the porch, I hope for them to have that too. I want them to have friends that will come over and jump on our trampoline, play on our play set, play tag, other games that we invented, play make believe…just play…outside. A child’s imagination is truly amazing to watch in action and I don’t want them to be crippled by the technology that we use so prevalently as parents and society. I want them to be able to have fun with what is around them. I want them to be able to figure out something to do when the power goes out. I want them to just be kids for as long as possible.

So lets get out there, have some fun and show our kids how to be kids. After all, children learn by example.

 

Foto Friday 6/20/14

Wild Beasts

Well, nobody sent in any pictures this week so  I am crying a little bit inside. I was looking forward to seeing a lot of funny faces to make me laugh, but I will just be left with my tears. But I digress, so onto the good stuff.

This weeks challenge is: Wild Beasts

Remember, I sent  a tweet out on Twitter (@4daddyhood) and posted on Facebook (facebook.com/adventuresindaddyhood) the weekly photo chanllenge. So make sure you follow me, or else!

Tag me on Facebook and Twitter (make sure to use #fotofriday) or email me your photos with that weeks family related theme. Make them entertaining, because my family will pick some of our favorites to put up on next weeks Foto Friday.

 

Foto Friday

Funny Face

Funny Face

This blog isn’t just about me and my family. I hope that it becomes more and more about yours as well. So to get you all more involved I decided to start something new.

Welcome to our first Foto Friday. Each Friday, I will send a tweet out on Twitter (@4daddyhood) and post on Facebook (facebook.com/adventuresindaddyhood) the weekly photo chanllenge. So make sure you follow me, or else!

You can then tag me on Facebook and Twitter (make sure to use #fotofriday) or email me your photos with that weeks family related theme. Make them entertaining, because my family will pick some of our favorites to put up on next weeks Foto Friday.

So without further ado, this weeks challenge is: Funny Faces.

Go Out and Enjoy Life

I was going to take time in my first post to write about what it means to be a stay-at-home dad.  However, I saw this on YouTube recently and instead of writing about me, I am going to tell you simply…put down your phone, tablet, whatever you are reading this on and go out and enjoy life for awhile. Look Up. I know I am.