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Back in the early 1980’s, when I was 5 or 6 years old, my parents had finished construction on the ground floor of their very first home. My mom was pregnant with my brother and they were anxious to move in. We would live downstairs as construction continued in order to finish the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom.

For more than a year or two, this family of four shared one bathroom. It was simplistic at its core, not having to run up and down the stairs between bathrooms – all of the things we needed to keep ourselves clean and hygienically maintained (toothbrushes, floss, towels, the staple Ivory soap) were centrally located in one spot.

Taken in 1977 at a rental property before my parents broke ground, this 1-year-old was happy as can be.

In retrospect, I’m sure it wasn’t optimal for my parents, having little kids sneak in and flush the toilet, sending a torrent of cold water through the shower head just as they’d begun to relax – but they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The ‘light’ was the completed upstairs – sending me and my brother out of their hair, at least on a temporary basis.

Having to share one bathroom didn’t seem like the end of the world, however once the second bathroom opened up – we all wondered how we survived without it.

Cut to present day. Times have changed. Family dynamics and expectations have changed. I can’t fathom the idea of not having 3 and a half bathrooms for our family of five (almost six). When we moved into our house, one of the biggest selling points was that it had space for EVERYONE.

NEVER would my wife and I have to endure the same torture of sharing one bathroom, having toothpaste shrapnel sprayed across our vanity mirror, toilets clogged with baby wipes or that dreaded torrent of cold water hit us across the back of the neck, just as we got comfortable in the shower.

But alas, here we are – all sharing one bathroom. Even though we’ve spent countless hours and unquantifiable amounts of energy equipping each individual bathroom with their own color palette of towels and mats, framed mementos and soothing air fresheners – they keep showing up in our space. Our bathroom has a revolving door…

I’m mystified as to what our kids find so alluring about our master bathroom. Is it the simple idea my wife and I are there? Is it because we have a big tub with jets? Or is it that our towels are fluffy and folded on the rack and we have pure, clean Ivory soap and body wash in the shower?

Ivory has been a staple in my bathroom for close to 42 years, but the reality is they’ve been ‘the Original Gentle Family Brand’ for so long. They’ve been keeping families clean for 138 years – the Ivory formula and scent was created in 1879 – many, many generations ago. One of my favorite things about Ivory is the bar soap never sinks to the bottom…

…I love how some things never change.

The Ivory Original Body Wash has a new, gentle formula free of dyes and heavy perfumes offering the gentle clean, trusted for generations. Me and the boys are turning heads with the luxurious Ivory Free & Gentle Body Wash with Pear & Sandalwood. Little side note: The body wash includes the #1 Dermatologist-Recommended moisturizing ingredient.

I wonder if my grandparents and great grandparents suffered the same bathroom struggle? I’m guessing it was more (or less) complicated back then. They probably fought over who was hogging the outhouse and who drew the short straw to boil the next pitcher of water to fill the tub…

If history has shown me anything – Ivory will be there for my kids when they eventually get married, have children of their own and look for their own ‘light’ at the end of the tunnel….all while sharing that ONE simple bathroom…even though they have six.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This has been a sponsored post in conjunction with Ivory, however the nostalgia continues to be mine. For more information on the pure and gentle cleaning power of Ivory, check them out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ivory. The opinions and text are all mine.

The post The Revolving Door of Bathtime. appeared first on Dad or Alive.

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Back in the early 1980’s, when I was around 4 or 5 years old, my parents had finished construction on the ground floor of their very first home just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My mom was pregnant with my brother and they were anxious to move in. We would live downstairs as construction continued in order to finish the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom.

For more than a year or two, this family of four shared one bathroom. It was simplistic at its core, not having to run up and down the stairs between bathrooms – all of the things we needed to keep ourselves clean and hygienically maintained (toothbrushes, floss, towels, the staple Ivory soap) were centrally located in one spot.

Taken in 1977 at a rental property before my parents broke ground, this 1-year-old was happy as can be.

In retrospect, I’m sure it wasn’t optimal for my parents, having little kids sneak in and flush the toilet, sending a torrent of cold water through the shower head just as they’d begun to relax – but they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The ‘light’ was the completed upstairs – sending me and my brother out of their hair, at least on a temporary basis.

Having to share one bathroom didn’t seem like the end of the world, however once the second bathroom opened up – we all wondered how we survived without it.

Cut to present day. Times have changed. Family dynamics and expectations have changed. I can’t fathom the idea of not having 3 and a half bathrooms for our family of five (almost six). When we moved into our house, one of the biggest selling points was that it had space for EVERYONE.

NEVER would my wife and I have to endure the same torture of sharing one bathroom, having toothpaste shrapnel sprayed across our vanity mirror, toilets clogged with baby wipes or that dreaded torrent of cold water hit us across the back of the neck, just as we got comfortable in the shower.

But alas, here we are – all sharing one bathroom. Even though we’ve spent countless hours and unquantifiable amounts of energy equipping each individual bathroom with their own color palette of towels and mats, framed mementos and soothing air fresheners – they keep showing up in our space. Our bathroom has a revolving door…

I’m mystified as to what our kids find so alluring about our master bathroom. Is it the simple idea my wife and I are there? Is it because we have a big tub with jets? Or is it that our towels are fluffy and folded on the rack and we have pure, clean Ivory soap and body wash in the shower?

Ivory has been a staple in my bathroom for close to 42 years, but the reality is they’ve been ‘the Original Gentle Family Brand’ for so long. They’ve been keeping families clean for 138 years – the Ivory formula and scent was created in 1879 – many, many generations ago. One of my favorite things about Ivory is the bar soap never sinks to the bottom…

…I love how some things never change.

The Ivory Original Body Wash has a new, gentle formula free of dyes and heavy perfumes offering the gentle clean, trusted for generations. Me and the boys are turning heads with the luxurious Ivory Free & Gentle Body Wash with Pear & Sandalwood. Little side note: The body wash includes the #1 Dermatologist-Recommended moisturizing ingredient.

I wonder if my grandparents and great grandparents suffered the same bathroom struggle? I’m guessing it was more (or less) complicated back then. They probably fought over who was hogging the outhouse and who drew the short straw to boil the next pitcher of water to fill the tub…

If history has shown me anything – Ivory will be there for my kids when they eventually get married, have children of their own and look for their own ‘light’ at the end of the tunnel….all while sharing that ONE simple bathroom…even though they have six.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This has been a sponsored post in conjunction with Ivory, however the nostalgia continues to be mine. For more information on the pure and gentle cleaning power of Ivory, check them out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ivory. The opinions and text are all mine.

The post The Revolving Door of Bathtime. appeared first on Dad or Alive.

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Depending on which part of the country you live in, I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone in saying that I feel like my kids have gone to school for a collective 6 days since mid-December. Whether it’s been because of Christmas or Hanukkah break, New Year celebrations, snow days or the inevitable quarantine-inspired day off due to the flu or strep throat – I’m right there with you.

Over the last week, the temperatures have warmed up and the snow has melted – which means that the house is no longer our prison. We’ve gotten our troops back to a healthy status and are making a vigorous attempt at getting everyone back on track and into that ‘rhythm’ we parents love so much.

The rhythm that I’m talking about are those few hours before and after school. In the morning, it’s getting dressed and organized, but at the same time, cleaning up after themselves. Scooping up the yard sale of towels and washcloths left behind after showers and baths, the remains of breakfast and the explosion that occurred around the vanity (in my room of course) while brushing teeth and combing hair. Once they’re home, it’s schoolwork and taking care of the dog, cats, fish and turtle.

This is all stuff that I did as a child – it was a rite of passage… and a super sweet way to earn a few bucks for allowance.

New research by Clorox though, shows that cleaning is more than just a way to earn a buck, cleaning as a kid helps you learn responsibility, empathy and even willingness to help others – the skills kids need to thrive in today’s world.

Acquiring these traits will not only help them make friends or attain a job, but I’m hopeful that my kids will be overwhelmed by how being a good person can have such a positive effect on their lives and the lives of others around them.

I’ve always felt as if there was something inspiring and rewarding about cleaning up after myself – keeping my space tidy and fresh. This is an idea and concept that my wife and I have been trying hard to instill in our three little ones by way of a ‘sticker reward program’ instead of frothing at the mouth and screaming at the top of our lungs for them to clean up their rooms.

Clorox’s research shows how ‘clean’ impacts how we feel, act and engage with others. This nationwide survey and statistical modeling helped uncover connections between cleaning habits and attitudes and five key emotional and mental states. But these findings go beyond just what people said to how they subconsciously reacted by using biometrics – they measured the impact of clean and dirty rooms on physiological responses, and how that translates to our emotions.

While we don’t allow our kids to use actual cleaners just yet, we still view what we’re doing as a team effort. If I can get them to set me up by loading the bases with dirty clothes in the hamper, toothbrushes and dishes in the sink – I can step up to the plate, point to the right field fence and call my shot… knocking in a handful of runs by taking out the trash, scrubbing cutting boards and countertops, while choking back stomach bile while wiping down those toilet seats that look like a carnival port-a-potty.

A clean space also impacts a kids’ behavior. 59% of parents say their kids study better and 49% say their kids behave better in a clean room. I believe this – As an adult (or at least someone who masquerades as one part-time) I know that I actually function better when my home office is clean.

For me, the most significant part of the Clorox research is that the likelihood that an individual will exhibit higher empathy increases by 64% when they did chores involving cleaning as a child.  Coming from someone who began taking care of his dog and mowing the lawn at age 7 and 8 and working as a farmhand by age 11 – I feel as if this research holds its weight in water.

I know that adding that extra layer of responsibility to our kids’ daily routine and making sure that they meet our collective goals is definitely putting a larger value on their free time. They’re genuinely excited to begin the day or come home from school to relieve themselves of these tasks and take advantage of being a kid!

How do you encourage your kids to clean up after themselves?

Check out www.clorox.com/cloroxisthebeginning for a fresh start AND if you happen to be attending the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans February 1-3, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton, stop by the Clorox booth to say hello….chances are that I’ll be there, too!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Clorox, who wants you to keep it clean! Check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The post Does Cleaning Make Your Kid a Better Person? appeared first on Dad or Alive.

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Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!

The time between Thanksgiving always seems like it’s going a million miles per hour. On the home front, if you decorate anything like we do, your tasked with going throughout the rooms and breaking down various displays.

Arrays of gourds, Indian corn and collections of different size pumpkins gather on the buffet and side tables. The porch needs to be cleaned of corn stalks and loose hay that’s blown out of the scarecrows arms. But if there’s a silver lining in all this work – I personally supervise finishing off the rest of the ginger snap cookies that line the bottom of the vintage turkey cookie jar and return it to its place high on the shelf in the garage.

As I fill 30-gallon bins of decorations and put them back in the attic, I’m reminded by my wife that while I’m up there, I need to come back down with another 8 bins of Christmas items.

Between operating as a full-time decorator’s assistant and official ‘ladder climber’ (wife is 4 months pregnant) to place the star on top of the tree and hang outside lights, we’re also juggling an outrageous holiday schedule.

With all of this going on, who has time to get involved with complex homemade meals? Not this guy. I go to my back-up, always there, always reliable – Ellio’s Pizza.

Ellio’s has expanded and now boasts six different original crust flavors like Cheese, Extra Cheese, Supreme, Five-Cheese, and Italian Sausage and Pepperoni. PLUS, they’ve introduced a thicker, Sicilian-style crust in Five Cheese and Pepperoni for those times when you want extra cheese and a thicker crust. All of their pizzas use the freshest ingredients with 100% real cheese and no artificial flavors.

With the kids holiday programs, book exchanges, classroom parties and Christmas-themed outdoor markets and gatherings PLUS having to buy and wrap a ton of gifts before we travel for the holiday – Ellio’s is a quick and easy way to keep our energy up and continue to push through!

Don’t kill yourself this holiday season by trying to do SO much – take something OFF your plate and ADD a few slices of Ellio’s.

It will give you back a handful of precious time that you can spend with family, decorating the tree, setting up advent calendars and watching guys like me and Clark Griswold battle to untangle hundreds of strings of lights and check every bulb. NOTE: Just kidding, I stopped doing that years ago – now I just throw them out!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Dad or Alive family!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions and holiday musings are my own.

To learn more about a brand that started simple in the 60’s, on the rectangle cafeteria trays of America, check them out HERE, on Facebook, Twitter and most recently, Instagram!

Check their store locator at the top of the Ellio’s homepage to learn where you can purchase Ellio’s Pizza near you.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!

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There is nothing better than a low-key Sunday morning capped off by an overcast sky, a shark movie, and some Sausage Biscuit Balls.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb of your favorite Sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 1 1/4 c Bisquick
  • 1 1/2 c Cheddar, shredded
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, room temp
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 t Ground Mustard
  • Sprinkling of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt (or any salt)
  • Pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Place by tablespoons fills in a greased mini-muffin pan. Bake 400º degrees for 20 minutes, basting with butter several times within the last five minutes. These are so great as a compliment to breakfast or to leave on the counter and snack on throughout the morning!

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In 1980, I turned four years old and it was right around that time that I had my first memory of understanding that I grew up in Philadelphia Eagle country. Sundays (and the occasional Monday night), were planned around what time the Birds would come on. Weekend chores like mowing the lawn, weed whacking, chopping wood, working on the garden or taking down or putting up holiday decorations were done on SATURDAY, well ahead of any scheduled kick-off.

Family birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving and the Christmas gift exchange were coordinated around the Eagles schedule (printed on a stock mailer from my parent’s insurance company) that hung in the same place on our refrigerator every year. We were taught at an early age that the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys were NO GOOD and when asked who our favorite team was – we were to reply “I bleed GREEN, baby!”

This way of life, these traditions, have shaped me to be the fan I am today. I have fond memories of spending Sundays on the sofa with my dad, or lying on the floor in our Eagles sleeping bags, watching Ron Jaworski lead us to victory under the direction of Coach Dick Vermeil. My old man would grab a box of Ellio’s Pizza from the freezer and toss it into the oven.

We never really had a ‘good set’ of knives while growing up, we had ‘old faithful’, a 10-inch blade with a wooden handle so rustic it looked as if it had been hand-forged and passed down from the early settlers. (NOTE: Old Faithful was replaced several years ago by a set of block knives, but remains in the drawer.) He would lay that Ellio’s rectangle down on the cutting board as my brothers and I looked on and say, “Strips or triangles?” and cut us each several pieces, accompanied by a handful of potato chips. We were always jealous that he got to have an ice cold soda with his…

Eating Ellio’s Pizza while watching football on Sunday afternoons was a tradition where I grew up, just outside of Philadelphia. And even though I’ve since moved a few thousand (Los Angeles) and most recently, hundred (Coastal Virginia) miles away, my dad still continues the tradition with my mom by his side. I’m excited for this childhood tradition to come full-circle and have the ability to share it with my OWN kids.

Even if I get a little bit fancier than the standard ‘Strips or Triangles’ these days with cut-outs for the Liberty Bell, The United States and little oinkers that represent tossing around the pigskins.

My Eagles have had their share of ups and downs over the last few decades. And while I’ll always be a fan, my way of showing support may have wavered from time to time… as illustrated below, a few years ago down in Tampa Bay.

If you’re a true fan, you need to stick by your team through those tough times and never leave their side. The return on loyalty is so much greater.

I’m sure that over the last 60 years, Ellio’s has had its peaks and valleys, but that’s never phased me. They’ve always been consistent in my eyes AND evolved (much like my team) over the years. Ellio’s has expanded from the ‘old faithful’ pies to now boasting six different original crust flavors like Cheese, Extra Cheese, Supreme, Five-Cheese and Italian Sausage and Pepperoni. PLUS, they’ve introduced a thicker, Sicilian-style crust in Five Cheese and Pepperoni for those times when you want extra cheese and a thicker crust. All of their pizzas use the freshest ingredients with 100% real cheese and no artificial flavors.

And while Ellio’s has beefed up its own line-up, my other hometown favorite has done the same. Carson Wentz has proved to be anything and everything that Philly fans have wanted and needed. He’s led us to a 10-2 record, tied for best in the league.

With Ellio’s in the oven as my good luck charm and my superstitious trinkets in place before kick-off, I have faith in Wentz that he’s going to lead our boys to the Promised Land and give us our FIRST Lombardi trophy.  And as my kids are wearing jerseys with names like Jaworski, Cunningham and McNabb, I’ll be serving up Ellio’s in MY new jersey…and I’ll cut them any way they want them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Ellio’s Pizza, however the nostalgia and rolling traditions are all mine.

To learn more about a brand that started simple in the 60’s, on the rectangle cafeteria trays of America, check them out HERE, on Facebook, Twitter and most recently, Instagram!

Check their store locator at the top of the Ellio’s homepage here to learn where you can purchase Ellio’s Pizza near you.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!

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It’s been eight years since I’ve become a father. Some might argue that my potty training experience began on day 1. I’ll refer to it as my state of ‘dormancy’. I spent the first year and a half (+) in the dugout, ‘riding the pines’ as they say… watching and waiting for my name to be announced over the public broadcast system. Finally, it was ‘batter up’.

As Ava (my first) approached the 2-year mark, the echo of many online articles began to ring through my head. “Potty train your child before the age of 2 or forever be doomed!” was one of the headlines that I remember seeing and haunted me at night. Since we were first-time parents, we felt as if we needed to get the jump on anything and everything related to child development.

During the daytime, I began by encouraging her to use the potty every hour. I know that not everyone has this luxury, but being that I worked from home – I kept a musical potty in the kitchen at all times. It didn’t necessarily play well with the surrounding decor, but I’d soon realize that none of those little things mattered – every child will learn to use the potty on their own time and when they are ready!

I also made a point to tell Ava that Pull-Ups Training Pants are for Big Kids and that we should try not to have any accidents while wearing them (another item that didn’t really matter!) Perhaps it was beginners luck, maybe she’s just a really fast learner OR there could be an element of truth to the myth that girls are easier to train than boys… but it took all of 1 to 2 weeks before she had the routine down pat.

I will admit that during those weeks, I was apprehensive about leaving the house – the running joke was that ‘no one has seen Adrian in a while because he’s on potty training lockdown’. This manifested fear was mainly due to me getting caught in a pickle – ONE time – in the deli line at the grocery store. I was faced with an epic decision of having to choose between confirming the thickness (I need everything paper thin) of my lunch meat sample VS. running Ava to the nearest restroom (consistently hidden in most grocery stores, it’s almost as if they DON’T want you to use them). We ended up getting super THIN Pennsylvania Dutch Lebanon bologna, but the floor wasn’t so lucky.

A little over a year later, our son Charlie came along.

Kid #2 WAS and REMAINS a tough case. I assumed that I’d follow the same routine that we did with Ava, still due to the overwhelming sampling of online articles, but also a small amount of mounting pressure from our peers. I figured that potty training a boy would be so much easier. I didn’t need to put emphasis on specific wiping techniques AND having the ability to stand up and pee made this SO much easier. Plus, the fact that I’ve been doing this specific routine for over forty years… win/win!

I can’t tell you how wrong I was.

Perhaps it’s because he’s a middle child. There’s a lot written about the struggles faced by children in this position. On one hand, they’ve got an older sibling to look up to, however, on the other hand, once the next sibling comes along, a majority of attention naturally gets averted elsewhere. And maybe, it just has to do with the fact that HE WASN’T READY. I tried everything from letting him pee on floating cereal to a reward-based incentive practice – none of it worked.

I wish I hadn’t rushed him before he was ready, because it ended up taking longer for us. It was the better part of two years before he didn’t have any accidents during the day. And even up to now, I still don’t know if it had anything to do with being a boy OR that he would simply get too consumed with playtime and become lazy. Pull-Ups were there to help us through a very frustrating time and Pull-Ups.com is a great resource to for parents (like me) to find tips, tools and advice on how to make potty training fun and exciting for kids – which we definitely needed! They’ve also helped train 50 million Big Kids and counting, so they know a thing or two about potty training!

A couple years beyond Charlie, Mason made his debut. He is my sole reason to argue that the success or failure of potty training has nothing to do with gender. I learned the hard way, but all kids will be ready when they’re ready.

One night, when Mason was around the age of 2, my wife and I forgot to put Pull-Ups on him before bed, but the next morning, he was bone dry. Jen and I thought that it was some sort of fluke and that maybe one of us had woken up and changed him in the middle of the night without the other knowing. So we tried it again the following night, and the next and the next and here we are today – Mason will be 4 in January and he’s never had an accident, neither at night, nor during the day.

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind as you make the decision to potty train your little one is – to take every ‘myth’ with a grain of salt. Don’t force your child potty train before they might be ready, just because you read an intimidating article online. Test the waters from time to time, the more excited they are about achieving their own independence, the easier the process will be for you and your partner!

And truly, the bottom line is there is no universal ‘right’ age – the right age is when it’s right for you and your child. There are no ‘Fast Trainer’ awards given out on this journey we call Parenthood – except for how fast you can clean up the urine-soaked floor of a grocery store.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was a sponsored post by Pull-Ups, however the experience of potty training my three kids was all mine. To learn more about Pull-Ups, check them out HERE, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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The sun is still asleep at 5:45am, as his insanely annoying iPhone alarm screams from the nightstand. The man snaps up from what seems like complete hibernation into full attention, his arm firing across the side of the bed like a stinger missile, attempting to deactivate the noise before waking everyone in the house. He puts on the running shorts and shirt that he laid out the night before and ties a signature bandana across his forehead. He pops in his AirPods and hits the street for a few quick miles. This is Daddy Tasker, king of (trying) to get it all done.

As the sun crests the horizon, he returns home, ready to crush the day or fail miserably and fake it ’til he makes it. His wife and kids are now awake and the daily wardrobe fights ensue – even though every outfit for the week had been picked out and agreed upon Sunday night. He takes the dog out front for a walk, turns on the lights in the fish and tortoise aquariums, along with releasing the kittens downstairs –  reminding his wildlings to feed the veritable circus of pets that at some point, he was convinced to purchase as a reward for good behavior. Dad makes his way to the kitchen, takes an ingredient inventory in the pantry and then the refrigerator. He glosses over the breakfast sausages this morning, because he knows that there’s a pack of Hebrew National hot dogs that are getting divvied up to lead the food crusade throughout the day.

The eggs, toast and bacon are presented on the table with precision. The lunches (mom made the night before) are pulled from the second fridge in the garage (this is what happens when your family picture looks more like a team sports photo), Camelbacks are replenished and he high-fives mom, escaping the iron cage match as mom slides in. There’s really never a minute to spare, as he stands in the shower, dictating an email through his waterproof phone case, as coconut scented shampoo burns his eyes.

Tasker puts on his standard t-shirt and jeans combo as everyone files into the bathroom for the daily teeth-brushing ritual, followed by dad applying hair fiber mohawks, one after the next, until his daughter makes him talk to the hand.

The kids are split up between two different vehicles – mom loads Ava and Charlie into her pristine commuter and whisks them off to elementary school. And dad? Dad puts Mason into this truck, the one that’s got yogurt and chocolate fingerprints dragged down the inside of every window and reeks of a forgotten wet bathing suit….somewhere. Once he’s off to preschool, Dad opens every window and listens to any and all rock stations at full volume the entire ride home. Three hours of quiet writers’ bliss quickly evaporates, as the half-pint hulk comes blasting back through the front door…. and he’s hungry.

There’s nothing better than being able to calm the beast with a few skillet-fried Hebrew National hot dogs, nestled into a bun that’s fresh from the toaster – with the simple fixin’s he loves. Three dogs down, five to go. Made from 100% kosher beef, these bad boys have a flavor that can’t be beat.

Tasker spends the next several hours dancing between his keyboard, paying utility bills and using his acquired detective skills to figure out who stuffed a pair of Johnny Test underwear into the hopper. He brings the recycling barrels in from the street and manages to catch the UPS guy before he does the unfathomable – attempts to ring the doorbell….sending both dog and toddler into a frenzy.

And with that sun now taunting the opposite side of the house, it’s about that time. Time for the other two to come barreling down the street, swinging their backpacks at one another – kicking down the door looking for any loose dollar bills that dad might still have in his possession. You see…the driver of the ice cream van hasn’t given up yet – even though school is back in session – he’s determined to get my kids to take me for every last dime.

And this is where the deal is made.

They agree that if they’re allowed to eat ice cream before dinner, they’ll put up zero fight when the plates are served. They’ll eat every vegetable without attempting to stuff them into their socks or drop them down the HVAC floor vent when I’m not looking.

Little do they realize, Tasker is gonna make it easy on them. He fires up the grill and lets those five remaining Hebrew National hot dogs do the dance…

And even though he’s torn through all of his buns, it doesn’t interfere with the task at hand. He calls an audible, cutting the crusts from sandwich bread and wrapping them up for delivery.

As the kids finish eating, the tub is filled and the grit and grime from a hard day is washed down the drain.

Dad has been busy making dinner for himself and his wife – prepped and ready to eat – as soon as he speed reads three to four adventures of The Berenstain Bears and watches them all nod off…

Most nights we try and eat together, but between school and activities, play dates and just plain life in general, we don’t always get the opportunity – and that’s okay. For tomorrow, we’ll give it another shot…

EDITOR’S NOTE: This has been a sponsored post on behalf of Hebrew National and their #WeRemainStrict campaign. To learn more about them, click HERE or check them out on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM or TWITTER!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hebrew National. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hebrew National. The opinions and text are all mine.

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My nieces and nephews have already started back to school and heck, now that I think about it, that was at the beginning of August! My wife and I stood back and laughed at her siblings – wow, that must really stink that they have to return to school so early…

Cut to – our household at the end of August.

The day starts by me noticing, separating and journaling the fresh squadron of gray hairs that have erupted from both sides of my head. My wife and I take turns stepping on the scale, silently acknowledging that we’ve eaten far too many take-out meals over the last eight weeks – and they’ve finally caught up.

We’ve shifted from bikini’s (don’t judge my Speedo action) to full 1930’s bathing suits, complete with massive umbrellas and beach canopies to hide our accumulated shame…

With both of us now working full-time (I still work from home with a machete at my side, don’t think about robbing us), these last few days of lunch breaks (thank you Hebrew National!) and weekends are filled with the inevitable – shopping for school supplies, new clothes, backpacks, etc.

We’re attending orientations, scheduling arrival and departure times and updating the infamous chore chart. We’re spending an hour or two a day working on our Brain Quest books, hoping to impress our teachers during the first week and going over our safety drills – in the event there’s an emergency.

Golf, tennis and day camp have subsided and it’s now a relentless onslaught of asking for my Netflix or Apple ID password as we hit the bottom of the barrel, with them literally clawing at my shorts to buy apps with a one-star rating and a single review.

We’ve been in and out of town, visited with family in Pennsylvania and had house guests of our own, here in Virginia.

Those backyard crops are pushing out their final yield – with a little help from their friends…

With the revolving door of summer winding down, we’re extremely aware that it’s only the calm before the storm.

Time is stretched forever thin and while I do love making homemade meals three times a day – our schedules simply won’t allow it right now.

But I can’t get lazy – I need my kids to stay excited AND well-nourished.

Thankfully, my friends from Hebrew National have provided me something that can be prepared quickly and easily, but still allowing me the creative freedom to present it in a fun manner – it’s a mealtime WITHOUT the battle. For this mission, I chose the Hebrew National BUN LENGTH variety…a little longer than your normal hot dog…

I took the bottom half of these dogs and made tentacles, wrapping them in crescent roll dough. I tossed them into the oven at 350º for about 10-15 minutes and POW – I had hot dog sea creatures. Nothing beats the simple, quick preparation and also gives me a product made with 100% kosher beef. I tried to limit the carbs on this one, only offering my hot dog octopii sweaters, instead of a full outfit.

Paired up with some fresh fruit, this took me less than fifteen minutes and the kids were excited to dig in. How else do you transform such a simple thing into something that your kids will enjoy? What are your favorite Hebrew National go-to recipes?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Hebrew National and their #WeRemainStrict campaign. Follow them HERE, on Facebook or Twitter to learn more!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hebrew National. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Maybe it’s just me, but the end of August has me hearing the siren song of the back-to-school angels. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when school finally lets out and through those months of June and all through July, we’ve had the best of times – excited and ambitious to get through our ‘summer bucket list.’ At least one or two of us loved getting to sleep in late (630am?), not having to worry about packing lunches, threatening each other with kitchen utensils at the breakfast table or sitting on the stairs with head in hands (silently counting to ten) when unable to find a match to any of 90 pairs of socks. Thank you flip-flops.

Now that we’re settled (we moved into a new house in the spring), we’ve been able to breath deeper and feel focused. We’ve had some great times visiting the local museums..

Lounging around…

Hit the pool and beach…

…and made some new additions to the family… ladies and gentlemen – Katy & Purry (featured in reverse order). Two amazing rescues “owned” by one very determined little girl. (BTW thanks to Clorox for helping me to clean up this zoo at the end of every day…)

But as we close out the month of August – the call always comes in.

It’s time to put the fedora up in the closet, throw out the fancy pastries and go back to work. For Mason, it’s only preschool, however, combining his schedule with that of a 2nd-grader (Ava) and a Kindergartener (Charlie), we’ve got a handful of ducks to get in a row before the Labor Day Holiday comes to a close.

THIS is the list that Jen and I use to get prepared for that first day…

  • Well-Check and Vaccination update – Most, if not all, schools require this paperwork before admittance. We’ve chosen to modify our vaccination schedule, however, still coordinate closely with the school nurse to make sure that it doesn’t put other children at risk. Filling out the form is the easy part – getting them to sit still when the nurse and/or doctor comes in is the real adventure.

Only some schools require dental visits, but regardless this time of year always reminds us how important it is to get the kids in for a dental check-up – inspiring healthy daily dental hygiene is of paramount importance! Below, you’ll see a demonstration of my cross-bite.

  • Readjust Bedtimes – We’ve been having a great time introducing our kids to some of our favorite movies from the 80’s, however, the 11pm bedtime is beginning to take its toll on them AND us. We are slowly moving the clock earlier and earlier so they can be ready to rock the 8pm nighty-night in a few weeks. (Score for mom and dad getting to watch Netflix uninterrupted!)
  • Chore Chart – As proud graduates of Pre-K and 1st grade, we promised Ava ONE kitten (which ballooned into two) and Charlie a tortoise (didn’t realize it would live for 50 years). Part of their daily chores – aside from cleaning their rooms, making their beds and handling dirty laundry – is to take care of their animals. It always helps to have these things listed out of them to see.

  • Name Tags/Labels – Each year, we update our stickers, attaching them to water bottles, rainboots, headphones, tablets and anything of importance that is either fought over or could be potentially misplaced or lost. These are waterproof and work on hard surfaces and on clothing/shoes.

  • New Backpack/Special Pencil Box – We LOVE to use this company called MAD PAX and when their new backpacks arrive, it’s like a mini-Christmas. The pencil case is also important – getting them something they’re excited about only inspires a positive attitude when they sit down at their desk on the the first day. Don’t you all remember the amount of time that went into choosing the perfect Trapper Keeper??
  • Safety Plan – We talk about who will be able to pick them up from school if they’re not taking the bus. We talk about what happens when a stranger approaches and make sure they’re aware of everyone that we know in the neighborhood – so they see this as a safe place in the event of danger. This past year we bought our children GPS tracking watches where they can message and call parents and caregivers–it’s been an added layer of comfort being able to see where they are at any moment of the day.
  • Meet the Teacher – It’s important to make a special effort to meet your child’s teacher. Anyone that’s going to guide their education for the next several months is worth sitting down with for a few minutes and getting to know. We always take a small token start gift… there are some great websites out there where teachers can buy classroom supplies and printables and they always appreciate these gift cards–they get enough junk covered in apples to last a lifetime.
  • Talk to Principal – Creating a personal relationship with the principal of your child’s school is one of the best things you can do – you never know when this will come in handy. We choose not to do homework in our home in elementary school and an open dialog with the principal is paramount. Another example is, we’d love our children to learn cursive, so making sure that we’re vocal about our child’s academic development (and placement) is crucial. Plus, you can offer a hand–parents have a responsibility to be involved–we want our teachers and principal to be able to call us any time for help. Except when football season starts.
  • Buy Special Treats for Lunchbox – Jen and I always stock up on a handful of ‘blind boxes’ or tiny treats that are able to fit inside of their lunchboxes for special days. A special day might be a Friday OR maybe it’s just a day when they seem down or not wanting to go – opening up a treat from mom and dad with a little note can make all the difference.
  • Extra Supplies – If we can manage to meet the teacher with enough time to shop before the first day, we always ask what he or she might need to help benefit the classroom. If we can find something that’s on sale, we’ll make the investment and donate it to the classroom. This season keep an extra special eye out for Clorox® and Glad® products – as with every $5 worth of qualifying products purchased, you save $1 and the Clorox Company will donate $1 to classrooms in need through DonorsChoose.org – go to www.CloroxForSchools.com to get started!
  • Choose Clothes – A year or two ago, my wife created these incredible metal bins, each with their own weekday label. Every Sunday night, we set out the kids outfits for the upcoming week. This saves us undeniable time and innumerable fights in between breakfast and getting out the door each morning.
  • DONATE – This is an important one… as back-to-school shopping commences so does the act of cleaning out the winter clothes from last year. There are likely HUNDREDS of needy families nearby who would love to take your hand-me-down coats, mittens and other cold weather items. Your local school will be able to point you in the right direction.

We hope this list helps you to get ready for the upcoming school year and when shopping, keep www.CloroxForSchools in mind and give back!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was a sponsored post on behalf of Clorox® and their back to school campaign. For more information, follow them HERE, on Facebook and Twitter!

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