Review: Sudio Earphones

First off, I don’t like wires. At all. There are a few reasons for that: 1) They tangle easily. 2) I like modern technology. 3) I’m clumsy and I’ll find a way to trip over them seriously injuring myself. Thankfully, I found something to help save the day.

[Read more…]

Cooler in Cotton

I call myself a Daddy Doin’ Work, so there’s no secret that I put in a lot of work during the course of any given day. That fact doesn’t make me special, because doin’ work is a highlighted item on the parenting job description for all of us. Cranky babies, late night feedings, managing toddler tantrums, and shuttling to and from T-ball practice are enough to make the best of us exhausted.

[Read more…]

Cruising Through the Eyes of a Child

One of the best parts of being a parent is witnessing life from the vantage point of our children. Many of things we think are mundane are absolutely amazing to them. For example, during a simple walk on the beach our kids will scream out in excitement over finding a colorful seashell or when the waves crash against the sand.

Speaking of sandy beaches, I recently took my family on an 8-day western Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival, and I noticed how my daughters’ eyes lit up from the moment we set foot on the beautiful Carnival Freedom until the time we went home.

Remember, my daughters are 5 and almost 3 years old, so a lot of what they witnessed was completely new to them. Here are some examples of how all of that went down.

Aggggghhhh! Frogs!

Carnival knows exactly what to do to keep kids happy. For example, they’re famous for their amazing towel animals. And yes, the clever crew put a frog towel in my room and I received a nice chuckle out of it (for those of you who don’t know, I have a frog phobia – but at least Carnival’s towel frog was cute).

1.png

Every night after dinner, my daughters would rush back to our cabin to see what the crew created for them.

But that wasn’t all.

The cool thing is the girls had a chance to see the towel animals come to life during an awesome puppet show.

Yes, the folks at Carnival even had a tutorial on how to create the towel animals, but let’s be real – nobody can do it better than the experts.

Views, baby. Views.

We live in California, and there are some spectacular views in my state, but nothing compares to what my kids saw from our ocean view cabin. Getting them to actually leave our room was a challenge at times because of how amazing the scenery was.

2.png

Green eggs and ham!

But wait, there’s more. Carnival puts on an amazing Seuss at Sea brunch where they serve Green Eggs & Ham and other goodies while the characters from the iconic books come to life. My daughters became really excited when Thing 1 and 2 came by our table. As you can see here, Thing 1 and my daughter had a nice bonding moment once they realized they share the same hairstylist.

3.png

Time to get down!

My kids love music and the performers on the Carnival Freedom were top notch. Every night after dinner, my girls would hit the dance floor and strut their stuff. And let’s be real — few things are more adorable than watching a toddler completely own the dance floor.

4.png

Time off of the ship.

We had a lot of fun visiting Cozumel, Belize, and Mahogany Bay. The girls loved seeing and swimming with the dolphins, and were locked into a constant state of wonderment the entire time.

5.png

People say that kids keep us young, and that was the case during our cruise. With every smile that my kids shared, I provided an even bigger smile in return. Nothing in the world mattered when I saw how happy they were, and Carnival did an amazing job of making that happen.

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

All Work Just Doesn’t Work

By now you know that I have the Daddy Doin’ Work nickname, but I didn’t come up with it by accident. Not to pat myself on the back here, but I’m a ridiculously hard worker. But guess what? I think I have that in common with you, too.

Here’s some not-so-breaking news for you: Americans are overworked.

In a recent survey, over 50% of workers in the U.S. felt burned out. Additionally, many employees don’t take vacation time that’s offered to them by leaving a combined 429 million unused paid vacation days behind a year.

That’s just crazy.

But is it, really?

We live in such a hypercompetitive society that many parents feel as if they need to be connected to the office or risk being left behind.

Greg from Atlanta shared his thoughts with me: “I feel as if I have to respond to emails within a reasonable amount of time or else people will feel like I’m slacking. Even if those emails come in the middle of the night.”

Liz from San Diego shared her thoughts as well: “I want to be super mom and a super employee, but I’m failing miserably at both because I’m always so tired.”

The problem is that always being connected at the office leaves us feeling less connected at home. I know this is true because I lived it. I felt that I was being pulled in so many different directions and I couldn’t say “no” to anyone. It was always, “Sure, I can do that,” when inside I was like, “I have no clue how I’m going to do that.”

I became exhausted and irritable, and my family knew I wasn’t myself. That’s when I pumped the brakes to realize what is truly important – and it meant spending time with the people I love the most. My daughters are growing up so fast and I realized that my stress was taking away from my joy in raising them.

What did I do to fix it?

I went on a vacation – specifically, a Carnival cruise. Yep, I actually used real vacation time. I didn’t check email or obsess about the work that would be waiting for me when I returned. I just focused on having a blast and recharging my batteries.

1.png

Not only did I have a great time with my family, but I felt that I reconnected with myself. Sometimes all it takes is to separate yourself from the craziness of life to learn more about your priorities.

2.png

We’re all going to die someday, and when that time comes do you think you’ll wish you spent more time at the office or more time with the people you love? Exactly.

If you’re offered time off from work, I urge you to take it. Not only will it make you a better employee and parent, it will make you a happier employee and parent.

Not to mention, time is the only resource we can’t get back once it’s spent. Don’t waste it by trying to be a “hero” at the office by skipping out on vacation time. Instead be a hero with the little ones who love you more than anything.

Because at the end of the day, the only thing our kids want us to spend on them is our time.

3.png

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

Everyone is a friend on a cruise

Carnival recently offered to take my family on an 8-day cruise to the western Caribbean, and it was amazing. As is the case with Carnival, the food was excellent, the service was kind and professional, and the Carnival Freedom is a top-notch ship with lots of great perks.

But there’s one underreported aspect of cruising that needs to be talked about more:

Everyone is really cool and super-duper friendly. Here are a few examples of that.

#1 – Grady.

1.png

He’s retired from the Air Force and he’s cruised on Carnival more times that he can remember. We struck up conversation while we ordered some yummy pizza (which is available 24 hours a day). His advice to me was to soak up every good moment of life – and that’s why he vacations with his family so often.
If anyone deserves to spend time enjoying life, it’s someone who served our great nation. Much respect to you, Grady.

#2 – Nick.

Nick was traveling with his girlfriend Liza and we struck up conversation at the bar. He was wearing a Vail, CO T-shirt and I was rocking a kale T-shirt (you know, because I love eating healthy and all). After talking for about ten minutes, he said, “Hey, let’s trade shirts.”

Wait, what? Trade T-shirts with a dude I just met?

“Sure! Why not?”

And that’s exactly what we did.

Before.

2.png

After.

3.png

I mean, would something like this happen anywhere else in the world but on a cruise ship filled with really happy people? Probably not.

Nick, if you’re reading this – I hope you know that I think I won on that deal. That Vail shirt is extremely comfortable.

From kale to Vail, baby.

#3 – My daughters

The “everyone is a friend” theme wasn’t just for grown folks. My daughters love to dance and whenever music played in the lounge after dinnertime, my girls were there getting down to some awesome live music.

On one particular evening, two random little girls from different families joined my daughters and they danced while holding hands. It was probably the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

4.png

***
There are so many things that are great about cruising, but meeting great people who want to share their happiness with you is probably one of the coolest parts of it. It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, your political affiliations, or any of the other noise – everyone comes together for one singular goal, which is to have a good time.

That’s just another reason why cruising is really the only way I choose to vacation with my family.

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

5 Hidden Gems on a Cruise

When Carnival offered to take my family on an 8-day cruise to the eastern Caribbean, I was super excited. The great food, warm weather, and relaxing atmosphere are just a few of the things that I looked forward to. But then a strange thing happened once I got onboard the beautiful Carnival Sunshine.

There was more that I didn’t even know about.

Like most Carnival ships, the Sunshine is absolutely huge. It’s actually like riding on a floating city. Because of its immense size, it can be easy to miss some good stuff. No worries, my friend – that’s what I’m here for.

Here are 5 of my favorite hidden gems on a Carnival Cruise.

#1 – The Library Bar: Want to relax in a quiet setting? The Library Bar is the place to go. Read a book, enjoy a drink from the state-of-the-art self-serve wine dispensers, or challenge a friend to a game of chess. It’s one of the best places on the ship to visit when you’re looking for a “Zen moment.”

DDW_01.png

#2 – Hasbro the Game Show: Growing up, we all played Hasbro board games, right? Can you imagine how cool it would be if you could play giant versions of Simon, Sorry!, and other classic games? It’s pretty cool, because I did it during my cruise – and I had no idea it existed until the final days of my cruise.

It’s an absolute blast as you can team up with your kids, your friends, or rock it by yourself.

I mean, Connect 4 basketball?! Where do I sign up?

DDW_02.png

#3 – Adults Only Serenity Deck: Yes, we all love our kids. Now that we’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way, there are times when grown folks need to be around other grown folks. The adults-only serenity deck provides that calming feeling every parent dreams about during the daily hustle and bustle back home. Grab a book, swing on a hammock, enjoy a cold beverage, and celebrate life.

DDW_03.png

#4 – Mixology classes: Sure, you may be the type who enjoys a nice fruity beverage while on the ship (I know that I do), but what if you want to learn how to make them professionally?

Carnival offers these cool mixology courses where you can learn to make some fancy drinks on your own. I had a blast, but man – it wasn’t easy. Just check out my experience below.

 

 

 

 

#5 – Karaoke:

You can’t say you’ve truly enjoyed a vacation unless you’ve done some karaoke. I had the pleasure of leading a live band in some songs and it was so much fun. No matter how you feel about karaoke (and I absolutely love it), it’s a great way to bring people together and have a blast in the process. I had no clue that it existed, but I’m glad I took the plunge. See for yourself!

 

 

 

 

***

Cruising is absolutely amazing, but discovering the hidden gems makes it so much fun. How many more hidden gems are out there that I have yet to discover? I can’t wait to find out on my next Carnival cruise!

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