Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An Up and Down Birthday Party For My Son

birthday party ideas
Every parent desires for their kids to have wonderful birthday parties that create glorious long-lasting memories. You know the type, parties that spark conversation every time a picture of the event is seen. They don't have to be lavish, or expensive, just the kind of parties that remain in the forefront of the family's minds. The news is filled with parents giving outlandish suarez for their children. My wife and I don't believe that the amount of money spent is what matters. Instead, it's the people that attend, the environment, and the small touches that create memorable experiences. 

birthday party ideas
When my wife and I planned my son's fifth birthday party we wanted it to be at a place that was local, but also new to him. We could have chosen the pizza place with the mouse, but instead we decided on the trampoline place in our town of Fremont called Rockin' Jump.

We decided on a birthday package that included room rental, activities for two hours, and food. The process was fairly easy to setup. The only hiccup we had was that we received a call from Rockin' Jump a few days before because they had lost our food order. Not a big deal because we just reordered. I would recommend you calling to confirm details in advance at any place you are holding a birthday party. Accidents happen and it is better to be safe and spend the extra few minutes making a phone call. 

When we arrived, we discovered that we had a party host. Let me just stop right here and say that at a location like this a really good host will make and break your child's party. Our friends had a subpar host at the mouse and pizza place and it tainted the event. We had an amazing host named Tatianna. She literally took our entire party from good to excellent. Tatianna was there to guide us from beginning to end and cared for every little detail. I can't say enough about what a difference she made.

After we were checked in we discovered all that this place had to offer. The best features of Rockin' Jump don't just have to do with the trampoline rooms, but with everything else. This trampoline place features a trampoline basketball court, a dodge ball area, a foam pit, and a rock climbing wall. Between all of those attractions, it kept  our group of kids (and adults) entertained for the entire time. I made a bit of a fool of myself at the foam pit, but during our private dodgeball game I enacted my revenge on those kids that laughed at me.

birthday party ideas

It bears mentioning that one of the fantastic parts of having our party here was that the adults all thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well. Many children's parties are about the kids, and the adults are sometimes just excited when it is over. It was not the case here. Every adult I talked with only had positive things to say about their time at Rockin' Jump. 

birthday party ideas

When it came to the party room itself, everything was clean and comfortably seated our party of about twenty people. Once again our party host gave us all the supplies we needed, helped set up our food and decorations, and assisted in taking everything down. She even helped carry our loot back out to the car for us!

birthday party ideas The only small drawback to our time was that, besides the cake, we were not allowed to bring in our own food. The exception was one child with food allergies who had his own dinner. The food itself was what you would expect from a place like this. The pizza was decent for kids and they provided drinks as well. The one thing that impressed me about our meal was the fruit tray. It contained a substantial amount of food that both kids and adults enjoyed. I would highly recommend ordering it as a healthier option.

An unexpected fun part for my son is when he received a follow up card in the mail a few weeks after his party. It was handwritten and signed by our party host. Kids love getting mail and my son is no exception. He took the card upstairs to his bedroom and placed it on his dresser. It was a great gesture to close out a very memorable birthday.

Overall, our party was a huge success. I would definitely recommend Rockin' Jump as an option for any birthday parties, or other events, you have coming up. We plan to return sometime soon. I have only experienced the location here in Fremont, but check the Rockin' Jump website for other locations, hours, and prices. 

Disclosure: I was provided jump time and a party room in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way. We paid for the food ourselves. All opinions are solely my own.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 Professions Dads Master When They Have Kids

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post partnering with Pampers. I received compensation, but all opinions expressed are solely my own.

I love that video above made by Pampers. If you have yet to watch it, stop everything you are doing (including reading this post) and watch it now. Seriously, press play immediately. It is such a great reminder about how much things change when you become a dad. We never are fully prepared, but somehow we transform into whatever our kids need us to be. We become the “professionals” in any number of areas. A dad’s job description can never be complete because being a parent is never done. That is why every father should watch that video and remember just how important they are in their kids’ lives. 

In honor of dads everywhere, Pampers is letting me giveaway a year's supply of diapers! Yes you heard me, they have given me the keys to the vault and one lucky reader will not have to pay for diapers for an entire year. Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below once you have watched the video and read the rest of this article.
The Pampers video also got me thinking. What other professions do kids help dads master? In honor of Father’s Day I decided to expand on the list above by telling my own kids how they have shown me what else falls under the title of being a dad. Happy Father’s Day dads, enjoy the time with your amazing children. It passes all too quickly. 

To my precious little ones, when you were born you helped me become:

A Truck
I not only learned how to successfully traverse the living room while giving you the bumpiest ride ever, but I found I could do it while carrying your toys or drinking coffee. You’ve shown me that I can accomplish almost anything while hauling you across the hardwood floors.

Toy Mechanic
I never knew how much I needed to know about toys until you came along. In fact, my “Toy Mechanic” job responsibilities also require experience as a battery replacement engineer, plastic adhesive scientist, and researcher of micro screw installation. Of course being a Toy Mechanic is worth it for the joy that lights up your eyes when I present you with your newly repaired favorite plaything.

Professor of Accomplishing One Armed Tasks
I may not have an official diploma for this, but you helped me realize that pretty much any task can be conquered while holding your precious child with one hand, and doing laundry, washing dishes, or texting your mom with the other hand. An honorary degree is awarded to every dad.

Expert Chef
There are those who know how to prepare a delectable meal fit for kings and queens. However, you taught me that it is just as important to know the perfect microwave time for chicken nuggets and that buttered noodles with a side of grapes is the gourmet meal of choice for my prince and princess.

This might not seem like a big deal to you, but I know that many people can simply “have a kid.” However, from the moment you entered this world, and locked eyes with me, you showed me that you wanted more. You needed me to be your “dad.” So when you skin your knee, get your heartbroken by your first love, and even when you leave our home to embark on your own adventures, you will always have me to run back to, throw my arms around you, and tell you that I am here for you. Because I’m your dad and you are my beloved child.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

5 Fantastic Commercials That Show What Modern Dads Are Really Like

fathers day

Maybe you've seen the years of commercials that highlight the "dad" who can't seem to get anything right. It seems virtually impossible for a man to actually get his baby's diaper on correctly or even to succeed in dressing his child to go to that big event. This totally makes sense because a dad can certainly build a house but a diaper is way beyond his comprehension. There is no way a dad can dress his child because it's not like dads have been dressing themselves for their entire lives. Every dad I know has grown up on Downton Abbey with personal assistants to dress them.

Thankfully, the perception in the media has started to catch up with what actually happens in many households. I have tried to debunk the myth here on my own blog through fun recipes for their kids, humor, and parenting tips. Modern dads are more involved than ever and place a priority on being a part of what goes on in every area of their children's lives. In honor of Father's Day, here are 5 fantastic commercials from brands who get what it's like to be a real dad today.

1. Dove Men+Care
First Fatherhood Moments
These real dads aren't afraid show their true emotions when they find out they will be fathers. 

2. Pampers
Thanks Baby
Kids show dads that they are the masters of many unexpected professions. They are today's Renaissance men.

3. Swiffer
Swiffer Dad
Modern dads clean, cook, and are involved in every area. They don't consider not being there an option. Full disclosure, my kids and I are in this commercial but even if we weren't this would still be an amazing portrayal of today's dads.

4. Whirlpool
Dad and Andy
Break out the tissues because this single dad tells his child that he loves him in many ways on a daily basis.

5. Toyota
My Bold Dad
This dad is there for his daughter no matter what. Whether it's asking her to dance or dropping her off for military deployment. Today's dad is present for his kids no matter what the stage of life they are in.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

3 T.V. Shows I've Passed Down to My Kids

There are certain things about my dad that I will always hold dear. Even though he passed away a few years ago, I remember the times we experiencing certain T.V. shows together. I will never be able to watch an episode of the original black and white The Twilight Zone without fondly thinking of my dad. The same goes for anything related to Sherlock Holmes. I even was able to introduce him to my generation's version: Sherlock. He loved it. 

Because of how much I enjoyed sharing these moments together with my dad, I couldn't wait to pass on certain shows to my own kids. Here are three that we've already started building memories with. You can stream them all on Netflix right now. In fact, Netflix actually created a whole section on their website for shows to pass down to your kids called their Family Heirloom area. Check it out HERE.

I'm just going to be honest here. Forget Spider-Man, I always wanted to be Iceman. He was very much underappreciated among this trio of crime fighters. Sure he skated around in nothing but his underpants, but who wouldn't want to shoot ice compared to webs? This show started in 1981 and both of my older kids quickly blew through the episodes. The animation is old school, the jokes are cheesy, but watching this with my kids instantly took me back to my childhood.

What kid didn't envy Gadget's amazing smorgasbords of technological wizardry. Ok, it was really his helicopter hat. I always dreamed of taking that sweet ride to 2nd grade. My kids were beyond excited to watch the new version on Netflix. While I miss the original, I am glad that I can use the latest edition to introduce Gadget, Claw, Penny, and Brain to my children.

As a kid I thought the original Honey, I Shrunk the Kids deserved an Oscar. Maybe it wasn't that great, but for a three month period of time I desired a pet ant more than anything else in the entire world. When I discovered that we could stream this sequel, I had to show it to my kids immediately. At that moment a whole new generation of children started imagining what life would be like if they got trapped in a bowl of food and almost eaten by a family member.

If you were to pick one show that I can't wait to introduce my kids to it would be Saved By the Bell. I mean, I know I will have to explain to them why Zach Morris is always speaking into a white colored brick, but this show is one of those gems that teach life truths in ways that only the kids from Bayside could accomplish. One day they will be old enough to understand the wisdom of Mr. Belding.

Disclosure: I am sharing about Netflix because I am part of the Netflix Stream Team. I was not compensated but I am provided Netflix service and equipment to watch their streaming service. All opinions are solely my own.
#streamteam #fatherhood

Thursday, June 11, 2015

5 Fantastic Ideas to Create A French Family Day and Win a Year's Supply of Bread!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post partnering with Brioche Pasquier. I received compensation, but all opinions expressed are solely my own.brioche pasquier
Have I ever told you how obsessed my daughter is with everything French? It turns out that she's not the only one. From amusement parks, to dolls, to TV shows, French culture is everywhere. I love that my daughter wants to learn how to speak French and even dreams about living in Paris one day. She is fearless and always seeks to drink in the adventure surrounding her. Don't believe me? Here is a report she wrote...just because she loves France.
brioche pasquier
Since it is pretty apparent that she's is not alone in her desire to experience everything that is French, I thought I would give other families some tips on how to immerse themselves in some French culture of their own. My family decided to make a day of it and we had an amazing time together. The great thing is that you can use just one idea, or all five. It's up to you, however, just don't skip the food. The French are all about food and I have to agree with them. Just don't be afraid to get a little goofy and have fun introducing a little French into your family!

1. Build Your Own Eiffel Towers
eiffel towers

There isn't much more that screams "France" than the iconic Eiffel Tower. However, you don't have to visit the country to experience the monument in your own home. Just spend a few minutes of fun building your own version. All you need are some toothpicks, marshmallows, and ten minutes. Set the timer and at the end you can hand out awards for most creative, most like the original tower, etc.

2. Cook a Fabulous French Lunch
brioche pasquier

French culture is obviously famous for their delicious meals. Topping the list might be the bread and cheese. It stands to reason that you couldn't have a French day without food, right? Try a grilled cheese sandwich using French ingredients. 

I recommend Brioche Pasquier bread. It is thick sliced and raises this grilled cheese to the next level. Brioche Pasquier is a family-owned French bakery — since 1936 — and France’s no. 1 brioche bakery. Their products are also trans-fat free, preservative-free and made with non-GMO ingredients. 

If you or your family doesn't like Brie cheese, try Gruyere or simply another cheese that you are sure your kids will eat. Just don't sacrifice the brioche bread, it is perfect for this recipe.

Brioche Pasquier Brioche Tressier bread (this variety is great for sandwiches and French Toast)
Brie cheese (or another French cheese your family will enjoy)
Sliced green Granny Smith apple
Sliced ham

1. For each sandwich, butter one side of two pieces of bread. Place butter side down on one slice. Layer slices of cheese, apples, and ham on that slice. Place second slice on top with butter side up.

2. Place sandwich in pan and cover with lid. Cook over low heat until bottom slice is toasty brown. Flip sandwich.

3. Remove from pan when cheese is melted and serve immediately.

Brioche Pasquier is also giving away ONE YEAR OF FREE BREAD! Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below after reading the rest of my tips.

3. Throw a Fancy French Fashion Show
french fashion show

Let your kids have five minutes to pick out clothes that they think look the most French. It isn't about being into serious French fashion, this is all about having fun. Whatever outfits they pick for themselves and you, get modeled. This is your chance to have some laughs and take some pictures that will be memories for a long time!

4. Paint an Impression of the Impressionists
french impressionists

Do an internet search for famous French impressionist paintings and you will see some masterpieces. Encourage your kids to make some masterpieces of their own by creating their own impression of the classic works of art. All you will need is a canvas (or pieces of poster board), brushes, and a paint set. You will be astounded at how creative your kids can be. You might even have some new paintings to frame and display in your house. 

5. Search For the Most Fantastic French Facts
french facts

Anyone can get on a laptop to find helpful information, but take an hour and go on an adventure instead. Pile your family in the car and head to your local library. Let your children comb through books about France to find the most fun facts about the country. Make sure and look in the kids' section first. You never know what they will find, including a love for books. There might just be a chance that you learn something as well!

I hope you try out some of these ideas with your family soon. We had a fantastic time on our French day. In fact, my wife and I are still talking about it days later. That says something because you know if two exhausted parents can still remember, and even coherently discuss, an event that happened over 24 hours before it must have been good. 

Let me know your favorite idea in the comments below or on social media. Make sure and tag Lunchbox Dad and Brioche Pasquier in your posts and enter to win a year's supply of bread for free using the Rafflecopter widget below!


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Monday, June 8, 2015

Graduation 2015 Lunch

This is what I like to call the "it's the end of the school year let's see what we have in the refrigerator after a weekend of work and graduation parties lunch." It's also the last week of school for my kids so they both got their own graduation lunches. Since it's the last week of school, and my ingredients were pretty limited, I'll make the directions simple.

The hat is a sandwich made out of whole wheat bread and turkey. The tassel is an all natural fruit roll. I made the background out of cherries. My daughter goes back and forth whether she likes them or not. Apparently today she does because she said she would eat them. 

The "2015" is cut from tortilla with a background of celery sticks and non nut spread to dip them in. The second side dish is a string cheese stick cut into thirds. I then wrapped little pieces of the fruit toll around as ribbon for the diplomas. They sit on a mound of blueberries.

I hope you are able to survive and even enjoy the end of the school year with your kids. Try not to get too stressed out and have some fun before the rush of summer hits.

I made the lunch in an Easy Lunch Boxes container. Please remember to follow me on all my social media channels for more great ideas, recipes, and giveaways!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lunchbox Dad's Father's Day Gift Guide 2015

Father's Day 2015
Are you stuck on what to get your dad, or husband, this Father's Day? Look no further than my 2015 Father's Day Gift Guide. Why would you want to give your dad a boring old tie when you have this guide brimming with wisdom and experience? Consider this your map to a successful Father's Day. These are real ideas from a real dad. I have not been paid to make this guide, or promote any of these products, and I have personally tested every one of these gifts. From the foodie, to the tech lover, to the active dad, I have you covered. So study this list and cement your place as the best Father's Day gift giver in the universe...or at least in your family.

Razor Adult and Kid Electric Scooters
Razor e300 e200 e100
What's better than watching your kids smile while they rock an electric scooter? Yep, that's right, dad being right there beside them on his own. Get dad and kids both a scooter to spend some quality time with each other. These awesome rides were so much fun for my daughter and I. Some of the best Father's Day gifts are the ones that the whole family can experience and bond together over. Also, an adult size electric Razor scooter will make your father the envy of every dad on the block.
Price: E100: $116.99 E200: $157.99 E300 $216.99

Wahl Custom Shave, Beard and Body Groomer, and Elite Pro Clippers
Wahl Custom Shave
Let's be honest, it's pretty easy for dad to work hard and let his beard and other body hair grow out of control. However, no one wants to see that. Ever. Seriously that nasty ear hair has got to go. The shaver was perfect for travel and home while the beard and body groomer was really easy to use to keep my beard in line. These Wahl trimmers are surprisingly inexpensive as well. They are the gift that keeps on giving. Your dad gets a great shave and you don't have to look at what's hiding in that unkempt beard anymore.
Price: Elite Pro Clippers $44.96 Custom Shave $56.64 Beard and Body Groomer Price Varies

Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive for iPhone and iPad
Sandisk iXpand

Raise your hand if you have a dad who's phone or tablet is filled with pictures or video. Does he ever have to delete pictures just to take more pictures? The iXpand makes it so easy to take those photos off your phone and put them directly on your computer. You plug it into the lightning port, it tells you what photos have not been moved yet, and it copies them them to the flash drive. Then, you use the USB port to plug it into your computer and complete the process. Even the most technologically challenged dad can figure this out. The iXpand comes in 64gb and 128gb models.
Price $99.99-$149.99

STOK Quattro Grill
STOK Quattro grill
Are you tired of me talking about the STOK Quattro yet? I have mentioned it in a few other posts because it is the most convenient grill I have ever owned. The Quattro has four burners and countless inserts to help lift your dad to grilling greatness. You can insert a pizza stone, kabob/rib rack, smoker, vegetable basket, dutch oven, and more! I'm not saying this BBQ will automatically give your dad a "Rib Festival Championship," but I am saying it will be much more difficult for him to win without one. You don't want to be responsible for costing him Rib Festival glory do you?
Price: $299.99

Virtue 9000 Portable Battery for Phones and Tablets
Virtue 9000 battery
Has your dad ever run out of battery on his phone or tablet while watching the big game, taking photos of grandkids, or watching cat videos? I thought so. There are a million portable batteries out there but none are designed with the look of a vintage calculator or those old handheld football games. Not to mention it is half the cost of many of those other portable batteries and has a great touchscreen power level indicator. It will also completely charge your father's phone in 1-2 hours (9000 mAh) so your dad can get back to watching his cat videos...I mean taking photos of the grandkids.
Price: $24.99

Gourmet Gift Baskets

Bacon. Do I have your attention now? I thought so. I personally read any sentence that begins and ends with bacon. You know that guy that you never know what to get for Father's Day? Yeah that one. Guess what, gift baskets aren't just for the ladies. I had the privilege of trying out two of the gift baskets from I immediately thought of guys I know who would love them. They have microbrew baskets, meat baskets, cigar and beer baskets, chocolate baskets, and more. So where does bacon come in? I'm glad you asked. They even have popcorn tins with flavors like bacon, wings, buffalo, and loaded baked potato. Did I mention bacon? Go ahead and order now.
Price: $19.99-$399.99

Logitech Bemo Social Video Camera
Logitech Bemo
Why not just capture video with your phone? Well, anyone with kids knows the reason why you can't have nice things. You give your kids a camera to hold and they drop it in dirt, cover it with an impenetrable layer of something sticky, or spill your coffee all over it. This video camera is rugged enough to withstand everyday accidents, from kids and parents, plus is simple enough for anyone in the family to use. It connects to an app on your iPhone through bluetooth. The great thing is how is it is to shoot a video, trim it down, add a filter, music, a title, and share it on social media. I did it all in about 2 minutes my first time using the Bemo. It is also portable enough to carry in your pocket when your husband wants to start filming in a matter of seconds before the kids move on to something else.
Price: $129.99

Urban Accents Spice Blends
Urban Accents Spice Blends
If your dad loves to cook but doesn't love trying to pick out the right seasoning or rub, get him a gift pack from Urban Accents. You will immediately move into first position for child of the year. I have been using these spice blends consistently for about a year and I find that all my other spices suffer from loneliness because of lack of use. The great thing is the suggestions on each bottle for when and how to use them. It's like a spice blend guide for dummies. You know how some dads think they are pros at seasoning food, but they are the only people in the family who have that opinion? These are a great start in helping your dad become the cook he already thinks he is in his own head.
Price: $25.95-$150.00

Reliable Pronto Steam Cleaner
Pronto Reliable Steam Cleaner
How fun would it be to get a steam cleaner as a gift, right? I thought the same thing at first. Check this out though. You know how your dad can never get all the gunk off his grill? Is your dad a neat freak about his car? This can clean the BBQ and the gunk off the wheel wells. I have come to the conclusion that the way this works is that they mix black magic, and the tears of a unicorn, in with the water you fill it with. It's the only explanation that makes sense. I steamed the wrinkles out of my shirt. While it was hanging up. I love this thing now. It's the Father's Day gift that your dad never knew he needed.
Price: $99.99

Omaha Steaks
Omaha Steaks
Meat and Father's Day. Just say it a few times. It rolls off the tongue perfectly. It's almost as if you can't have Father's Day without a good piece of meat. Unless you are vegetarian. Then, well, I guess you can eat for the mashed potatoes and let the rest of us gorge ourselves on delicious meat candy. I was skeptical when my wife first ordered from Omaha Steaks. However, you can get some excellent deals and meat that works for any occasion. Mention these two things to your dad and he might just cry because he is so proud of you. Or he may grill you a steak instead. Either way is a win.
Price: Varies based on package you order

Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing about any of the products in this post. I was sent some samples for the purpose of review and other products I paid for myself. All opinions expressed are solely my own. Have a great Father's Day!