Girls Fear Failure. Let’s Fix That.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know that I’m a proud and loud feminist. And no, that’s not only because I’m raising two tiny female humans. It’s because I want to live in a world where everyone has equal access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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The one thing needed for an amazing family vacation

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

OK, so there are a probably a hundred things that contribute to an awesome family vacation, but hear me out on this. A few days ago, my family went on a trip to Mazatlan courtesy of the good folks at Holiday Inn hotels and we had the time of our lives.

First off, I have to talk about our room. I travel a lot and I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels, but I can confidently state that I haven’t stayed in one as nice as the Holiday Inn resort in Mazatlan.

Our room had a separate space for the kids with bunk beds, a TV, and a door! A DOOR! Meaning they can sleep and/or entertain themselves without me having to hear them or see them. I mean, we all need a little break from our children at times, right? The folks at the Holiday Inn brand absolutely understand that.

But of course, that’s not all. The view of the beach from our balcony was spectacular during the day…

…and even more spectacular at night — which gets a big thumbs up from me.

Then there’s the pool. Oh man…that pool was amazing. We spent a lot of time enjoying the crystal blue water.

And this photo pretty much sums up how relaxed we were.

As phenomenal as those things were (and they were pretty phenomenal), the best part of our vacation centered around the amazing customer service we received while we were at the resort.

My youngest daughter’s birthday was on July 9th and all we really expected to do was enjoy some family time at the beach and pool. And we did just that.

But that’s when the resort’s team members decided to throw a surprise party for her and we were all pretty floored by it (especially her).

Beyond the birthday surprise, Juan (the General Manager) and his team always ensured that every need of ours was met. They knew when we needed something before we asked, they were super-friendly, and they totally understood what it’s like to travel with kiddos.

When it really comes down to it, now that I’m a dad, I find that I gravitate towards anything that will make my life easier. And do you know what makes my life easier? Good customer service. Having fancy rooms, beautiful beach views, and amazing Mexican food are all outstanding, but the thing that I think about first and foremost was how well we were taken care of.

I believe it was Maya Angelou who said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Quoted for truth.

I think the best proof of this is a photo of my daughters with Juan right before we left to go home. They aren’t the kind of kids who will smile around strangers or allow themselves to be picked up by them. They truly felt a connection with Juan due to the great service he provided for them and he felt like an extension of our family.

Even on the flight home, my oldest asked when we would see “Senior Juan” again. Hopefully that will happen very soon.

Needless to say, this was a trip that my family will remember for a lifetime and it all comes down to the service we received from the Holiday Inn resort’s staff. Because all of the perks in the world don’t mean much unless you’re treated well.

 

A Staycation Can Be the Best Vacation

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

I live in SoCal so I’m one of the lucky ones who’s able to take a short drive to access Disneyland. As most people know who visit the park, there is a LOT to see and do, and oftentimes it can be overwhelming for kiddos and parents. If the kids need an afternoon nap, what are you going to do? Carry them around? Sit on the sidelines while they sleep in a stroller? It makes what should be a fun visit completely stressful.

But when the good folks at Holiday Inn Resorts reached out to offer our family to stay at their Anaheim resort, I took them up on it in a heartbeat, and I’m so glad that I did.

There are a few things that made it great. First off, it’s close to Disneyland and when my daughters inevitably became exhuasted in the middle of the day, we were able to easily head back to our room for a quick nap, and our room was perfect for that. The kids had a separate section with bunk beds separated by door, so I could get some work done while they rested.

Additionally, if you know anything about Disneyland, you probably know that it’s not cheap to do anything there. Especially eating. When I normally go there, I end up spending an arm and a leg on food, but not this time. The Holiday Inn resort in Anaheim has a restaurant called Burger Theory that had some of the best burgers I’ve eaten in a long time.

And the best part? Kids eat for FREE. And since I’m raising two little girls who eat like grown men, this couldn’t be a better perk. I saved a ton of money just on food alone.

Another cool thing about this particular resort is they had an event with Scholastic where kids could participate in arts and crafts with some of their favorite characters.

Whether it was reading with Geronimo the mouse…

…or having a coloring contest with Clifford the big red dog.

The kids had an amazing time.

But as wonderful as the Holiday Inn resort in Anaheim is, the best part is the customer service we received. The folks there truly understand what it’s like for families travelling with young kids and they absolutely took care of us. For example, we spent a good amount of time at Disneyland, but on our last day, my daughters really wanted to swim in the pool. I was worried they wouldn’t get the chance because our check-out time was approaching. When I spoke to the good folks at the front desk, they happily extended our checkout time to 2:00pm which allowed my girls to enjoy some pool time.

Stuff like that goes a LONG way with me and certainly does not go unnoticed.

In closing, it’s crazy to say this — but we actually had more fun at our resort than we did at Disneyland. True story. Between the food, the Scholastic event, the pool time, the comfort of our room, and the amazing customer service we received — what was there not to like?

If you happen to take the family to Disneyland, I highly recommend the Holiday Inn resort in Anaheim. They truly get what it’s like for parents on vacation, and their customer service is second to none. We’ll definitely be back the next time we visit the Magic Kingdom.

My Little Pony, Transformers, and Fun? Oh My!

I’ve partnered with the good folks at Carnival Cruise Line for over two years now, and I’ve seen firsthand how great they are at entertaining families. Whether it’s the Seuss at Sea breakfast, Lip Sync Battle competitions, or bringing Hasbro games to life — there is no shortage of fun to be had onboard any Carnival ship.

But what my family experienced this weekend could top it all.

My daughters were able to meet live action My Little Pony and Transformers characters during a sneak peek of their new Carnival Playtime programming on the beautiful Carnival Imagination, sailing from Long Beach, CA. Let’s just be real — you’ll be hard-pressed to find brands more sought after than those two, and my daughters couldn’t get enough of them.

First, they met Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle from the My Little Pony family and my daughters were over the moon. And as you can tell, I was pretty star struck as well.

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My Little Pony friends were big, colorful, soft, and completely adorable. The girls really wanted to take both of them home with us, but that would’ve disappointed a ton of kids who came onboard to see them, and we couldn’t have that.

But wait, there’s more.

The girls had a chance to win prizes by playing fun parlor games.

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And they also had the opportunity to get “Ponified” with cute headbands and temporary tattoos.

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I know what you may be thinking — “What if my kid isn’t a fan of My Little Pony?” Well instead of asking you how in the world that could be possible, I’ll just say that Transformers were in the house too.

My oldest is a huge fan of Transformers and got to meet Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. As a guy who grew up watching the cartoons, I felt an enormous sense of pride knowing that my kiddo thought those larger than life robots are just as cool as I think they are.

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All in all, Carnival hit a home run with Carnival Playtime. Kids of all ages (even big kids, like me) will be extremely giddy as they hang out with some of the most popular characters in America. I cannot stress enough how much fun my girls had, and I left with a huge smile on my face knowing that thousands of girls and boys will get to experience the same level of excitement on an upcoming Carnival cruise.

As I’ve said many times before, no cruise line does it better than Carnival when it comes to the variety of entertainment options for kids, adults, and families. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to proudly share my selfie with Pinkie Pie, because as you all know, Pinkie Pie is life.

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MY LITTLE PONY, TRANSFORMERS and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2017 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. Licensed by Hasbro.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

The New Robots In Town

As most of you know, I LOVE technology. And if you followed me on Upworthy, you know that I love Wonder Workshop’s Dash & Dot. But now they released new versions of their ultra-popular robots and they are absolutely amazing.

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Myth Busting In An Organic-Obsessed World

DISCLAIMER: I’ve partnered with Johnson’s® for this post but all opinions are my own.

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Los Angeles — which is way different from the east coast where I was born and raised. Other than being a city filled with sunshine, beaches, and crazy traffic — it’s also a city that’s obsessed with organic products.

It doesn’t matter if it’s organic fruits, organic vegetables, organic toothpaste, organic diapers — if you can ingest it, apply it, or wear it, there’s a good chance that an organic version is available somewhere in LA. As an LA dad who hangs out with other LA parents, I started believing the whispers at social gatherings:

“Oh, I only pack organic snacks in my son’s lunch.”

“Do you use that new organic sunscreen? It’s amazing.”

“If it’s not organic, my family won’t buy it.”

You get the idea. Organic products are viewed as safe, good, and healthy, while anything else is deemed as “dangerous” for ourselves and our children. Other parents may try to make us feel guilty if we’re NOT using those kinds of products. Finally, I took a step back to realize something: my family used JOHNSON’S® products on me and my two brothers when we were babies, toddlers, and children — and we all turned out just fine as adults (one is a Harvard graduate excelling as a corporate executive, another is a best-selling author, and then there’s me — your friendly, neighborhood, Daddy Doin’ Work).

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And yes, I still use JOHNSON’S® products on myself today, especially the shampoo (yeah, I said it — I still use shampoo. Gotta keep my dome clean. JOHNSON’S® doesn’t tout itself as being an organic brand, but that doesn’t mean their products aren’t safe – they are the pioneers and leaders in the industry. Over 90% of baby skincare research comes from JOHNSON’S®. I’ve been to their headquarters myself, met with the people in their labs and research centers, and feel confident saying that they hold themselves to stringent standards when it comes to safety.

That’s why it’s important to dig a little deeper when it comes to the organic vs. non-organic debate. Did you know that yummy blueberries naturally contain Parabens? Or that apples, bananas, and carrots (to name a few) naturally contain formaldehyde? But I bet that news wouldn’t stop you from having your kiddos munch on those fruits and veggies, right? Of course not. I’ll go out on a limb and state that you probably ate them as a kid and still do today (I know I do). Another fact is out of the thousands of cosmetic ingredients used around the world, less than 2% meet JOHNSON’S® rigorous standards for baby products — and yes, many of those ingredients are actually natural. JOHNSON’S® uses both natural and non-natural ingredients, but the most important thing is they want to put safe products on the market.

I know all of this is true because I spent time in JOHNSON’S® headquarters recently and asked a ton of questions to the scientists who work there. They were honest, smart, and (most importantly) they’re parents. Just by being around them I could tell how passionate they are about their work. Nobody in the building knows more about what their ingredients do than these ladies, and they are 100% committed to making safe products for their babies and ours.

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I even had an opportunity to make some lotion on my own to see an abbreviated portion of their process. It was extremely eye-opening, informative, and fun.

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It’s too easy to feel pressured by the buzzwords of organic and all-natural products without truly understanding if they can help your family. That’s another reason why I believe strongly in Johnson’s® because they make it easy for parents due to their transparency on their Behind the Label page. No need for an advanced chemistry degree, because every ingredient they use is listed in alphabetical order with its purpose in plain English.

As mentioned before, I trust JOHNSON’S® because it was the brand used on me and it’s the brand I use on my kids.

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If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know that nothing in the world is more important to me than my two young daughters. Do you think I’d do anything to jeopardize their safety in any way? Of course not.

Do your research, be informed, and decide what products are right for your family — because at the end of the day, it’s important to realize that not all natural ingredients are good and not all non-natural ingredients are bad.

More Men Need To Stand With Planned Parenthood

Lately you may have noticed that I’ve been a lot more political lately. And whenever someone talks about politics on the Internet, some people absolutely love it, others absolutely hate it.

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I Didn’t Want To Raise Girls…Until I Did

Recently one of my readers asked me if I wish I had boys instead of girls. Of course the answer is an emphatic, “NO” – but did I always feel that way? I’d be lying if I said yes.

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Doin’ Work with Marvel Universe Live!

Let me start by saying that I’m a huge superhero nerd. I’ve been reading comic books since…well, since I could actually read. Marvel characters have always been my favorite, and as a dad of two daughters, words cannot describe how happy I am that my girls are superhero fans just like their old man.

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The Day I Realized I Didn’t Want To Be A Dad

It was a typical evening in my household. I was reading one of my books to my two young daughters, which I wrote about the joys of fatherhood. But there was no joy or excitement on this night. I was a page-turning zombie, waiting for the book to end.

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