Disclosure: This post is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are my own.
When my kids head back to school, it seems like our family mealtime becomes a challenge worthy of advanced strategic planning. Mom, dad, and kids all have different schedules, and bringing us together for a healthy, meaningful dinner suddenly moves to the top of my list of daily goals.
Pasta dishes have always been my go-to recipe for delivering fast, fun, and healthy meals to my family. But I have to be honest here. Over the years, I may have relied too heavily on the standard kid-favorite pastas, namely spaghetti and lasagne, with the occasional elbow and fettuccine thrown in for variety. Those are the pastas my kids have asked for, both to eat and to make on their own.
Recently Barilla gave me the opportunity to switch things up with my usual pasta selection, to try a few different recipes that were as fast and flavorful as those I’ve made in the past. My kids helped me look through the wide variety of Barilla’s pasta shapes, finally deciding to fancy things up with their Barilla® Farfalle (pronounced “Fahr-Fah-Ley”) pasta. Farfalle means “butterfly” in Italian, but my kids think the individual pasta pieces look like bowties.
We paired the pasta with Barilla Traditional Sauce, one of 14 delicious sauce varieties they offer. My kids picked out meat and veggies for additional texture and flavor, all with the requirement that the preparation of the meal take no longer than 30 minutes. This recipe actually takes almost exactly that much time if you have at least two sets of helping hands.
with Traditional Sauce, Ground Beef, Veggies, and Romano Cheese
1 box Barilla® Blue Box Farfalle pasta
1 jar Barilla® Traditional Sauce
1 pound ground beef
1 14.5oz can French-style green beans
1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced thinly
1 cup grated Romano cheese
Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot, then cook pasta for 11 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook the ground beef, breaking apart any large chunks.
Add Barilla® Traditional Sauce, green beans (drained), and red pepper slices to ground beef, then simmer.
Drain cooked pasta, combine with sauce mixture, sprinkle with Romano cheese.
The beauty of this stress-free recipe goes beyond its simplicity and delicious taste. It also gets your kids to eat their veggies. The thin green beans and peppers easily stick to the pasta, almost guaranteeing there will be no little piles of leftover ingredients on your child’s plate.
Barilla Farfalle pasta, as with all of their pasta cuts, cooks to a perfect “al dente” texture every time, making mealtime prep simple and straightforward. For families with busy schedules, ingredients you can always count on are a must.
On the day my first child was born, a dad was also born. That was me. And it was a bit of a surprise. Sure, as the pregnancy moves along and you read the books, attend the classes, and baby-proof the house, you think, “Hey, I’m going to be a dad. That’s cool.”
But then, right in that moment when you see your child for the first time, you can’t help but realize that your life just took a radically different path upon which you are going to see and experience things that you may never have known if not for becoming a dad.
To borrow a bit of philosophy from Doctor Who, a TV show I only started watching because of my kids, the moment you become a dad is a Fixed Point in Time, an event that shapes history to such an extent that everything that follows must change. On that day you first became a father, you didn’t just bring a life into the world, but you also drastically reshaped your own into something unrecognizable from what it would have been.
Since my own birth as a dad, I look back on all the changes that followed and realize how truly blessed and thankful I am to have taken this path, and to have had the experiences, both positive and negative, with my kids along the way. I don’t think much about what my life would’ve been like if I hadn’t become a dad, but I’m confident it would have been lacking much of what makes me happy today.
Here are four reasons I’m thankful for becoming a dad.
1. Child’s Play
Having kids gives you a free pass to jump into a ball pit, watch Disney movies in the middle of the day, climb all over the playground, cannonball into the pool, build Lego cities, and basically do all the fun things you used to do when you were a kid. It’s called “being a dad,” and is completely in line with the duties of fatherhood. I would have a hard time getting away with most those activities if I didn’t have children. Most people frown upon childless men frolicking at the park. But if you’re a dad, you can play all day.
Oh sure, you might point to that verse in Corinthians, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Me? I’d rather quote Geoffrey the Giraffe, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid…”
Seriously, though, it’s one of the biggest perks of becoming a dad, to have fun with your kids on their level. Play is so important to children. I would suggest that it’s also important to adults, and we far too often forget that. I’m thankful I’ve had a good reason to be silly, creative, active, and spontaneous with my kids.
2. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
I’m thankful for the many adventures I’ve had with my kids as we’ve focused on family travel over the years. We’ve been to many places, but there’s one in particular that I would have a hard time explaining if not for the phrase, “We’re taking the kids…” Yes, I love Disneyland. It’s one of my happy places. But I’m not sure I’d feel quite as comfortable there without children in tow, especially when meeting Winnie the Pooh or riding Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. Yes, I like riding through the giant watermelon, what of it?!
Even when we go to more “grown up” places, I’ve enjoyed organizing the itinerary around things for the kids. On a family trip to London, we spent time at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, toured Harry Potter sites, and saw Shrek the Musical in the West End. None of those places would’ve interested me if not for being a dad. Other family trips, to the Washington Coast, Yellowstone, and Hawaii, were all planned around the kids. I’m not even sure what adults do in those places, and I don’t really care.
Many years ago, we took my then 3-year-old son on a road trip to the small Idaho town of Emmett to see and ride Thomas the Tank Engine, He was a big fan at the time. So was I. My childless friends felt sorry for me for having to endure the giant blue train and the strange man in the top hat. All I could think was, “Trains are cool. Thomas is cool. This is fun.” The huge smile on my son’s face was awesome, but the smile on mine was kind of nice, and for experiences like that I am truly thankful.
3. Energy is Contagious
It didn’t take long after becoming a dad for me to learn that kids contain almost endless amounts of energy. And it definitely is contagious. I’ve heard parents say that they feel drained of energy by their kids. Yes, I’ve had those moments, but for the most part it’s been the other way around. Through the years, my kids have kept me young, perked me up, given me new life, and focused my thoughts. Basically, they’ve been like the best cup of coffee you could imagine.
Before becoming a dad, I didn’t lack energy. I just didn’t always have a reason to use it. I could sit down and stay down for hours. No kids to feed, chase, chauffeur, or play with. I’m thankful for every moment where lethargy was interrupted and my pilot light was reignited by one of my kids’ needs. Those moments have always transitioned into renewed spirit and momentum toward personal goals and activities.
4. Think About It
I can’t imagine what interests I would have if I’d never had kids. Much of what I enjoy thinking about and doing these days stems from my 19 years as a dad. My current interest in live theatre has grown from my daughter becoming involved with local community theatre. Over the years, we had attended a musical or play now and again, but I never personally appreciated the performances until I saw how much time and effort went into the shows that my daughter was involved in. She is also responsible for bringing much of my music collection up to modern times, with her love of bands like Twenty One Pilots, Panic At The Disco, and Mountain Goats, not to mention the Hamilton soundtrack, helping introduce me to new sounds. Who knew that any good music came out after 1998?
My son’s interest in Scouting led me to rekindle my own memories and experiences from way back when. I became involved with his troop as a leader, nearly three decades after putting away my Eagle Award. Without my son, I would never have remembered how much fun it can be to camp, build fires, cook in a Dutch oven, and even tie knots. It became a big part of my thoughts for over 5 years as my son worked toward his own Eagle and I helped other boys advance to their goals.
Mostly, though, becoming a dad has completely changed how I think about the plight of children in this world. I’m not sure how much I ever thought about how kids are raised before having one of my own. Now, every news story, discussion, and issue surrounding children gets my immediate attention. I think about small things like after school programs, park improvements, and movie ratings. And, thanks to my daughter’s involvement with a theatrical education group called Girl, Awake, I pay attention to big issues like childhood poverty, neglect, and violence.
That one moment when my first child was born, everything changed for me. Every single thing. Being born as a dad reshaped my life in ways I never could’ve imagined. And I find myself now, looking back, thankful for every one of them. On this Father’s Day, I hope you are thankful for how your life has changed.
I’m also thankful to Pampers for allowing me to reflect on the incredible feeling that fatherhood has brought to my life. For more than 50 years, moms and dads have trusted Pampers to care for their babies’ happy and healthy development. Visit pampers.com to learn more about their products, join the Pampers Rewards program, and find ideas and information to help your baby get the most out of love, sleep, and play.
Watch this cool new #ThanksBaby video from Pampers that captures the amazing relationship that is created between a dad and his baby when a child is born and the beautiful journey of fatherhood begins.
That’s a question I hear a lot. From friends, family, strangers. But mostly from myself.
It’s a rhetorical question, of course, because I know why I’m tired.
It’s called being a parent.
I remember a time when I never thought about sleep. When I could stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, then get up at 6am and head to work with a focused mind and enough energy to get me through my day.
Then came children. And worries. Lots of them. And they only multiply over the years (the worries, but sometimes the kids too).
Now that my kids are teens, one of my biggest worries is whether they get enough sleep, as sleep deprivation is a huge danger to the developing brain of a teenager. Each morning I ask them if they slept well, and each night I remind them to go to bed early, turn off phones, and give their brains a chance to recharge.
I’m like the airline passenger who ignores the flight attendant’s instructions to “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.”
I keep forgetting to worry about my own sleep. And yet, that question persists.
“Why am I so tired?”
You can imagine how happy I was when Beautyrest sent me their Sleeptracker monitor to help me collect data about my sleeping habits, so that I can make some positive changes to my daily routine in the hopes of improving my role as a parent.
It’s really difficult to be good at anything when you’re sleep deprived. Even though my teens don’t need as much of my attention as when they were younger, one of them still relies on me for driving her to the myriad of activities she’s involved with seemingly every single day of the week.
Driving while tired is a recipe for disaster, so I was quick to set up the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor on my bed. The installation was simple. You place the sensor between your mattress and box frame and it magically monitors your movements, breathing, and heart rate through the night. The product actually comes with two sensors, one for each side of the bed if you share it with a partner. The sensors connect to a small processor that can sit on the floor, and then each night’s data is streamed to a smartphone app that you can download for free.
That’s not magic. Just amazing science and technology to improve your life.
It’s an extremely well-designed product, much better than the invasive wearable sleep monitors that I’ve seen in the past. The Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor measures things like how long it takes to fall asleep, the various sleep cycles, body movement, and heart rate. It then makes suggestions on simple changes you can make to your routine to feel better rested.
The key, really, is to understand how you are sleeping, so rather than ask, “Why am I so tired?” you can instead ask, “What am I going to do about it?”
After only a week of using the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor, I was already feeling more refreshed because of the personalized coaching that the Sleeptracker app offers each day based around my sleep habits.
Something as simple as letting the product change your wakeup time by 15 minutes through the Smart Alarm feature can make a world of difference in how you feel for the rest of the day. I’m hopeful that continuing to monitor my sleep, and following through on making changes, will give me the energy and focus I need for on my parenting journey. #ISleepTo be a better dad.
Learn more about the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor on their website. Or follow them on Facebook. Don’t wait to get it for yourself, so you can stop asking that question, “Why am I so tired?” Even with everything a parent needs to worry about, there’s no reason you should be losing sleep.
I have partnered with Life of Dad and Beautyrest for this campaign, but my opinions are my own.
Here in Idaho, to quote George Harrison, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. An above average amount of snow and ice has my family feeling the cabin fever. We want to get out of the house, and yet it’s not always so easy, so we tend to want to stay in. It’s a very real winter paradox.
One thing we miss about being snowed in for so many months is a fun family night out at one of our favorite local steakhouses. That cozy comfort food always tastes great on these dark winter days. I’ve always struggled to recreate that atmosphere at home, to serve up a juicy steak, loaded baked potato, grilled vegetables, and fresh tasty soup laid out on a table decorated with fancy cloth napkins, flickering candles, and the good silverware.
I’m not alone in this. A recent survey showed that an overwhelming 92% of parents wish it were easier for them to recreate the steakhouse experience in the comfort of their own home, and at a dramatically reduced cost. So, you can imagine how happy I was to be contacted by my very own state’s premier provider of potato products, Idahoan® Foods, to talk about their brand new line of Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups.
These restaurant-quality soups are made with real Idaho® red potatoes and red potato skins. Believe me, we here in Idaho take our potatoes quite seriously, so I checked. We won’t stand for any of those puny tubers from Washington or Wisconsin. Our Famous Idaho Potatoes are considered royalty, so you can consider any soup made from them as the #KingofSoup.
After a successful steakhouse dinner with these premium soups from Idahoan® Foods, I can rightfully declare that they are, in fact, the #KingofSoup. My kids have even started calling me the #KingofSoup. But only because I told them they had to, or they wouldn’t get more soup.
There are four flavors: Creamy Potato, Loaded Potato, Cheddar Broccoli, and Three Cheese Chipotle. My kids love them all. These soups are so easy to make. You simply add water to the package, heat it up on the stove, and within five minutes you’re serving a delicious, nutritious soup to your grateful family. Add steak, veggies, bread, and those fancy napkins, and you’ve transformed your dining room into an expensive steakhouse.
So, let the snow pile up while we sit safely inside sipping our potato soup. I can be the #KingofSoup until spring at least. After that, I’ll still serve my kids Idahoan® Foods Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups, but they’ll probably be back to calling me “Dad” by then.
Check out all of the premium product offerings from Idahoan® Foods’ premium products at Idahoan.com and follow @IdahoanFoods on social media.
Idaho Dad has been compensated for this review/post, and all opinions are entirely mine. It’s really good soup, so go get some!
Being a dad is tough work. There are down days and bland days. Every now and then, however, you get to have superhero days.
A superhero day starts off like any other, but then a situation or opportunity arises where you have to call upon every dad skill you know, and some you didn’t even know you possess.
You’ve been there. Maybe you crawled up a play place slide to rescue your stuck toddler, or you drove to seven different stores to get materials for a school project due the next day, or you made pancakes for dinner.
Superhero days are actually kind of mundane to most folks. To your kids, however, there’s nothing more amazing than a father who is willing to step up to do the things that need doing.
And what a great reminder of dads as superheroes than the new Marvel Collection from Cross Pens.
These top quality pens feature the most prominent icons in the Marvel Universe: Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. They’re perfect for those days when your to-do list is extra long. Seeing this cool pen in my hand as I cross chores off my list is a great reminder that I have it within me to be a superhero to my kids. Check them out here.
It doesn’t take much to be a superhero dad. Be present, be patient, and do what needs to be done. Your kids will look at you like you’re Captain America.
Thanks to Cross Pens for partnering with me for this post.
A huge, awesome, epic snow fort. Big enough to fend off an army of snow goons and abominable snowmen.
Some people view winter as a time to avoid outdoor activities. If they aren’t skiers, then they prefer to curl up next to a warm fire on a comfy couch, hibernating through the cold and snow until spring brings them out into the sun again.
That’s too bad, because winter can be filled with awesome family fun. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, and it can even be right in your own backyard. Getting outside in the snow is a great time to make memories with your kids.
Especially the planning and construction of your very own snow fort.
Call it an igloo, or an ice palace, or a snow fort. Whatever it is, go beyond stacking up some snow, sticking a carrot in it, and calling it Frosty. Hey, building a snowman is fun, too, but an actual structure takes a lot more imagination. And, at the end, it becomes functional.
My kids and I built this snow fort using a smooth plastic storage box to create blocks of tightly packed snow. We then stacked them up to about 4 feet, making parapets, windows, and secret doors along the way. They improvised as they built, and learned a few lessons about structural integrity. The nice thing about snow, you can change things up any time you want.
After a few hours, the kids had the idea to sleep in the fort that night, which they did, under a pile of quilts and blankets. I stayed out there with them, enjoying the warmth and comfort of our hand-built shelter.
But as nice as it was, and as tough as I like to think I am, I would not have made it through the night without some help from Fisherman’s Friend, the strongest, most effective throat lozenge on the market. Originally formulated in 1865 for the deep-sea fishermen of Fleetwood, England, these extra strong, extra soothing lozenges are perfect for cough and cold relief. It’s exactly what you need to tough it out during the long winter months, when the cold wind seems to blow right down your throat every time you open your mouth.
I’ll never buy another brand of lozenge when I have a cough or cold. Fisherman’s Friend is the perfect all-natural menthol relief, available in cherry flavor and sugar free formula. They’re perfect for anyone over the age of 2 in need of instant relief of sore throats, coughs and congestion.
Whatever you do during the winter months, make sure you get outside. Build a snow fort! Okay, build a snowman too. Ski, snowshoe, dig tunnels, play disc golf, have a snowball fight. Just get outside and enjoy the snow. Carry a packet of Fisherman’s Friend lozenges and you’ll be tough enough to do anything.
One of the greatest challenges of my years of parenting has been keeping up with my kids’ everchanging interests and moods. Their likes and dislikes seem to vary from week to week.
Especially when it comes to snacks.
Once upon a time, when my son was a toddler, a simple bag of baby carrots would keep him happy in between meals. As he grew older, his tastes became more complicated. And then simple. And then complicated. Continue reading →
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Maytag. All opinions are 100% mine.
Kids are filthy.
There’s just no getting around that fact. From toddlers to teens, your kids are going to find all sorts of different ways to dirty themselves up. Parents should be patient and remember that a little bit of dirt, or maybe a lot of it, isn’t going to hurt. In fact, getting dirty can be quite fun. Continue reading →