Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Win 4 Free Tickets to the Marvel Experience Tour!

WIn tickets to the Marvel Experience

The Marvel Experience is coming to The San Francisco Bay Area from February 27-March 22. I can't tell you how excited I am to write that sentence. I'm even more excited that I have 4 free tickets to offer to the tour for one lucky reader of Lunchbox Dad. What? You haven't heard of of the Marvel Experience? It's basically two acres of superhero awesomeness that you can experience as a family. You and your kids will get blown away by the Marvel themed 3D projection dome, not to mention the state-of-the-art motion ride. Top it off with a life-size Avengers Quinnjet, exclusive collectible store, and much more.

My family are huge superhero fans, so when I tell them we are going, our house might explode from the excitement. Here are two of the Marvel superhero lunches I have made for my kids because they are such fanatics:
Captain America and Iron Man bento lunches
Needless to say, I am pretty pumped that I get to take my kids to The Marvel Experience along with the San Francisco Dads Group. This is a local group that organizes fun get togethers for dads and kids, as well as dad's night out events. A little tip, check out SFDadsgroup.com and join up because we are going to be giving away more Marvel Experience tickets there soon! Still not convinced? Check out this video and then scroll down to read more about the experience and enter my giveaway for the FREE tickets!


Be sure and enter now, because this giveaway ends soon!



The Marvel Experience is a first-of-its-kind, hyper-reality attraction that covers over two acres and encompasses seven colossal Domes, a life-size Avengers Quinjet, the world’s only 360-degree, 3-D stereoscopic full-Dome attraction and a state-of-the-art motion ride.

As agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., guests of The Marvel Experience will swing with Spider-Man, smash with Hulk, fly with Iron Man and more, all in preparation for an epic battle along side Marvel’s mightiest Heroes in a fight against Red Skull, M.O.D.O.K., and an army of evil Adaptoids. The Marvel Experience incorporates next-generation interactive technology including augmented reality and multi-person gaming. Everything happens with bleeding-edge technology and advanced computer animation. There’s nothing else like it. Not only does the audience get to join the adventure, in the end they may even become heroes themselves.

“And with this dynamic new way to experience entertainment, you’re actually in the middle of the action from start to finish,” says Hero Ventures CEO, Rick Licht. “While I’m sure kids will eat this up, we’ve learned that about 60% of the Marvel movie fans are over the age of 25 – and we’ve created this event with them in mind. The grown-ups are going to absolutely love The Marvel Experience!”


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received no monetary compensation for this post. I did receive the 4 free tickets to giveaway to Lunchbox Dad readers. Opinions shared are my own.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Boxtrolls Lunch


Last week my family got together and had a movie night when The Boxtrolls came out on Blu-ray. We also did a fun recipe and craft. You can see all the directions for those HERE. Because we had such a fun time, I thought it would be natural to do a Boxtrolls lunch for my daughter this week. 

Even though it was a creative and fun animated movie, the Boxtrolls are a bit hard to recreate so I had to get creative. Of course you have Fish, the main boxtroll. I also put some wheels in the background because I thought it looked like some of the boxtroll machinery parts. I had to use an egg and some cheese as well. If you have seen the movie, you know these play a prominent part. I made this in an Easy Lunch Boxes container. When you are done with my post check out my friend's Boxtroll lunch over at Robot Squirrel and The Monkeys. Remember to follow me on all my social media channels! 


Ingredients
Whole wheat bread
Peanut butter (or PB substitute)
Jam
Tortilla
Goldfish cracker
Blueberries
Dried apricot
Fat free cream cheese
Black food coloring
Wagon Wheel Pasta
Peas
Hard boiled egg
Assorted cheeses

Directions

1. Cut bread into two squares. Spread peanut butter and jam on the squares and make a sandwich. 

2. Cut a square and facial features from a tortilla. Dab a small amount of peanut butter on the square and press onto top of the sandwich. Do the same for the goldfish. Color cream cheese with a very small amount of black food coloring and spread on the dried apricot. Press on the tortilla facial features and pinch the sides for the ears. Use a small amount of food coloring on a toothpick to color his eyes.

3. Put blueberries on a toothpick and slightly bend the pick. insert into side of sandwich. Repeat for other arm. Put a toothpick in the head and insert that into top of sandwich. "Fish" the Boxtroll should be completed now.

4. Arrange pasta and peas into main dish. Place "Fish" on top of pasta. 

5. In side dish place assorted cut up cheese. In second side dish put hard boiled egg. Write "Eggs" on top with a marker. 



The Boxtrolls Movie Night With Bonus Recipe and Craft!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Universal Pictures, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #BoxtrollsFamilyNite http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
The Boxtrolls Movie Night Craft and Recipe

My family is constantly on the go. Between school, tutoring, basketball, and a myriad of other events, we seem to be constantly going in different directions. Every once in awhile, it's necessary to gather everyone together for some fun family time. To make this happen we have to actually plan this into our schedule. If you are having difficulty finding time for this, I strongly recommend scheduling it as well. Family time is so important to catch up, have fun, and just relax together. 

When we found out that The Boxtrolls was coming out on Blu-ray and DVD, we had to plan a family movie night to see it. My kids loved it (although it might be a little scary for younger kids). I liked the message that anybody can and should stand up for what is right. Plus, I can always get behind the message that cheese is very tasty.


The Boxtrolls Movie Night Craft and Recipe

I always like to pass on ideas to you that you can use to bring your family closer together. A movie night doesn't have to just be sitting and watching a movie. Hopefully these ideas will help you think "outside of the box." Alright, that was pretty bad, but these two ideas are not. Below is an easy craft and fun recipe for you to use for your own The Boxtrolls movie night! All you have to do to prepare is head to your local Walmart to pick up The Boxtrolls and some Pop Secret popcorn (while supplies last). I love the flavor of the Movie Theatre Butter  and Home-Style but you can choose whatever Pop Secret flavor you like. The most important thing is to set the time aside for your family to have fun together!

Craft: The Boxtrolls Custom Popcorn Box
The Boxtrolls Movie Night Craft and Recipe

This is a craft you can make right alongside your kids. You will need to make sure you have some "Chinese food" style boxes and have printed off The Boxtrolls pictures from the internet. If you don't have these boxes lying around, you can pick them up at your local craft store. If you do an internet search for "The Boxtrolls printable clip art" you should find plenty of pictures to print.

Materials Needed:
Pop Secret popcorn, 10 ct. box
Chinese food style boxes
The Boxtrolls clip art and pictures
Scissors
Tape

Directions:
1. Print The Boxtrolls clip art and pictures off the internet. Cut out the pictures or, if your kids are old enough, have them cut out the pictures themselves. Fold the top flaps of the Chinese food boxes inside the box.
2. Let your kids choose their own Boxtrolls picture cutouts and tape them to their Chinese food boxes. Encourage them to use their imagination to make any design they desire.
3. Pop the Pop Secret popcorn according to directions and fill each box with the tasty snack. Serve to your kids in their own customized The Boxtrolls popcorn box to enjoy during the movie.


The Boxtrolls Movie Night Craft and Recipe



Recipe: Winnie's Tasty Popcorn Boxes
The Boxtrolls Movie Night Craft and Recipe

This tasty dessert is a variation of the old fashioned popcorn ball. We just used a different colored marshmallow and shaped it into a box to go along with the theme of The Boxtrolls!

Ingredients:
2, 3.5 ounce bags Pop Secret popcorn
6 ounces butter
5 cups chocolate marshmallows
Wax paper

Directions:
1. Pop the Pop Secret popcorn according to directions. Melt butter in large pot. Add marshmallows and melt them as well. Stir mixture constantly.
2. Add in popcorn and stir well.
3. Remove from heat. Take spoonfuls of mixture and form into cube shapes with your hands. Place cubes on wax paper to cool.
4. Serve to your family for dessert while watching The Boxtrolls!

The Boxtrolls Movie Night Craft and Recipe


Thursday, January 22, 2015

15 Must-Read Tricks For Tackling Disneyland With Young Kids

15 parenting tricks for Disneyland with young kids

Ah, Disneyland. Almost every family I know wants to go there at least once while their kids are young. There are dreams of Mickey, and princesses, and rides, and Cars Land. It’s the happiest place on earth, right? Well, if you go in unprepared you might as well hand the mouse your money, turn around, and go home.

My family has now been a number of times with our young kids and developed a list of tricks that are “must follow.” Beware, if you don’t go in with a game plan, your trip can turn from one of amazement to one of absolute frustration. This list will save you from that frustration.

1. Use this trick to get a rare discount on park tickets…
If you aren’t buying park tickets in a package deal, it’s hard to find discounts on them. Did you know you can buy tickets using Disney gift cards? Furthermore, at the time of this writing, you can receive a 5% discount on gift cards by buying them with your Target credit card. It might not seem like much of a savings, but if you are buying for a whole family the discount adds up. On our last trip we saved about $70. Disney gift cards can also be used for food and merchandise in the park.

Also, never buy your tickets at the gate; get them online. When you buy them online you can use your gift cards and get a free magic morning at Disneyland (only on park passes for 3 days or longer). Magic mornings get you into the gate one hour before opening to the public. They are awesome. If you buy your tickets at the front gate, you might hit a long line and you don’t get that early entry. My family found this out the hard way. 



15 parenting tricks for Disneyland with young kids
2. This is necessary for anyone under five…
Make sure to bring or rent a stroller for kids five and under. We brought one for our baby and rented one for our four-year-old. As the day went on, the rented stroller was a lifesaver for carrying items and navigating crowds. If you are staying offsite and need to go back to your room for a nap, you can drop off the stroller at the rental location by the front gate, and pick it up when you come back.

You should also bring a baby carrier in addition to a stroller. They are lifesavers for holding your kids in line, even if you are waiting for only ten minutes. 

3. Make reservations at restaurants now...
This may seem like a no brainer but every time I’m at a place like Ariel’s Grotto, I see upset parents and melting down kids who are out of luck. During busier times of year it’s almost impossible to find seating. Of course you can always buy a turkey leg or corn dog, however, it is easy to make reservations online or over the phone.


4. Speaking of Ariel’s Grotto…
If you have young kids and have never eaten at a Disney character dining restaurant you should do it, at least once. We like Ariel’s Grotto because princesses come around to each table so you won’t have to wait in long lines in the park. Some also like Goofy’s kitchen. Either way, it is a great way to make memories and take wonderful pictures.


15 parenting tricks for Disneyland with young kids

5. For outside of the park eating…
A few blocks south of Disneyland is a strip mall across from The Candy Cane Inn. It is an easy walk from the park and at last count offered at least five types of food to choose from. We found the food and prices to be a good if you are on a budget or just tired of Disney food.

6. Speaking of saving money on food…
Did you know you can bring food and drink into Disneyland and California Adventure? Even if you are planning on eating in the parks bring water bottles. If you are reading this, you probably have young kids. If you have young kids you should also have a stroller. Put a load of water bottles in the bottom of the stroller each day and you will not only stay hydrated, but you will also save a ton of money on drinks.


15 parenting tricks for Disneyland with young kids
7. To load up on coffee, skip Starbucks and go here…
First of all, try and get your coffee before you go in the park in the morning. You will want to head straight to rides and not wait in line for food or drinks. You will waste valuable time. If you need a caffeinated pick me up during the day, don’t go to Starbucks on Main St. in Disneyland. Instead, hit the Jolly Holiday. It’s the big yellow restaurant right at the end of Main St. They have most specialty coffee drinks and usually a way shorter line.

8. You must bring this…
Bring a blanket that you don’t mind getting dirty. It’s not to keep warm, but to put on the ground for shows. It’s a good idea to get to fireworks, World of Color, parades and other shows at least 30-45 minutes early. It’s nice to have somewhere for the kids to sit. A blanket is perfect for this.

9. And this…
Cell phones are needed but coverage at Disneyland is spotty at best. This means your phone will be constantly searching for a better signal and your battery will die fast. Do not forget to bring a mini external charger to recharge your phone with. Just keep it in the stroller for when needed. You can get them on Amazon for relatively cheap.

10. Try these bathrooms first…
If you have young kids or babies try using the companion bathrooms. They are stroller friendly and there usually isn’t much of a line. Also, every bathroom that I have seen has a dedicated changing table. This means moms AND dads can take the babies to clean up!

11. This little known area can be a parent lifesaver…
Disneyland and California Adventure have a Baby Center. Parents can go there for a nursing room, changing area, kitchen with microwave, and a store with all sorts of baby products. Best of all, it has a big room for crawling kids to move around in to get the wiggles out.

12. This will save you more time on rides that anything else…
If you haven’t heard of the website RideMax.com, you are missing out. It is a site about visiting Disneyland and it maps out your entire day for you to save the most time possible and spend the least time in lines. I have used it for two trips and it is very efficient. It almost seems as if you stay ahead of the crowds all day long. The site also gives you many other tips that you will not want to miss. RideMax costs $15 for a 90-day subscription. However, this will be some of the best money you spend on your whole trip.

13. You might know about Fast Passes but do you know about these other passes…
Many people know that fast passes for Disney rides are free and really necessary to hit everything. However, did you know that if you have a child who is too small to ride, you can get a switch pass? This lets you and two other go on the ride again at any point during the day. 

15 parenting tricks for Disneyland with young kids

14. When watching parades, do this…
Why does everyone sit in the middle of a parade? Sit at the beginning or end and there are usually many more spots available. Another plus is that after the parade you can easily leave and beat the crowds to your next stop.

15. Here is how to beat the crowds on Cars Land Radiator Springs Racers in the morning…
This is easily the most popular ride in Disneyland and California Adventure. Standby lines can get to 2 hours long; so hit this ride first thing. Enter the front gate and head straight ahead to where the crowd will be gathering to be led into Cars Land. If you are heading right to the ride, get to the very right of the crowd. Stay to the right all the way to the line because the cast members will eventually make everyone merge to the right. You will be one step ahead.

If you are trying for Radiator Springs Racers Fast Passes, move to the very left of the crowd. Make sure you give one person everyone’s passes to streamline this process. When they open up the Fast Pass line, walk as fast as you can, staying to the left. This will get you to the machines quickly and let you enjoy the rest of your day.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

8 Reasons Why Your Toddler is Probably a Secret Government Spy

8 Reasons Why Your Toddler is Probably a Secret Government Spy

Have you ever wondered why your toddler has an amazing set of skills that they just seem to intuitively pick up out of thin air? These talents might not be from natural ability, there could be a much more sinister force at work here. My friend Carter from the blog DadScribe.com recently showed me an article where a well-known racecar driver claimed his ex-girlfriend was a secret government assassin.

It got me thinking, “Could toddlers actually have acquired their skills from an underground government agency? Is it possible my kids are actually secret government spies?” You look at the evidence; it might not be as far fetched as it sounds!

1. Their aim is deadly.
Dads, have you ever had a toddler run at and hit you full speed? They are just the right height to put you out of commission with this one move. I won’t even mention their aim with wiffle ball bats, we’ve all seen those videos. If that’s not the talent of a government super spy, I don’t know what it is.

2. They have the ability to stay up all night.
Everyone knows a secret government agent needs little to no sleep. Your toddler can prop those eyelids open longer than what seems to be humanly possible. They have literally trained their entire lives to be able to stay up longer than you. This training has to be a sign of their elite spy status.


3. They can interrogate like no other.
Every parent has been reduced to tears by their toddler’s interrogation tactics. You think they ask “why” 4,000 times per hour by accident? Do you really believe they have no idea they’ve pooped out of the last clean onesie in the house? They knew hiding the car keys would send your world spinning. You were beaten before you even had your first cup of coffee this morning.

4. They have James Bond level escapability.
You can try to put them in their crib, lock them in their play yard, or even confine them to their high chair. One moment they’re happily playing with their Toy Story dolls and the next they’ve vanished into thin air. They have one mission, to flee from you. In the time it took you to read this sentence, they’ve already developed their next escape plan.

5. Their palates are finely tuned machines.
You think they spit out that pureed turkey and winter vegetable medley because they were just being difficult? Toddlers know to hold out for the good stuff. Secret agents can order in foreign languages while deciphering the best bottle on the wine list. They know if they throw the food to the dog (or on your shirt) it’s just a matter of time before the treats come out. Toddlers can brave starvation for however long it takes to get the gourmet food you reserve for special occasions and emergency snacks. Government spies don’t settle for ground beef when there’s lobster to be had.

6. They can spot their target from across the room.
Secret agents can see their mark and swiftly seize it before anyone is the wiser. Toddlers are no different. With their cat-like reflexes they run, crawl, and dive to get that ball of gunk on the floor and stick it in their mouths faster than anyone else could ever hope to move. With their target in sight, no parent matches a toddler super spy’s speed and agility.

7. Their determination is legendary.
A secret government agent never stops until the mission is successfully completed. Whether it’s having a fifteen-minute meltdown over the wrong colored shirt, or somehow grabbing that antique picture frame using their elastic like reach, the toddler resolve is unshakeable. Just like a secret agent, they will do everything in their power to accomplish their goal, no matter how much damage it causes.

8. They can adapt to any situation.
Toddlers are just as comfortable running down the street naked as they are showing off the latest fashion at the playground. They can also turn their emotions on and off like a faucet. I know you thought they were seriously upset when they were screaming about their pacifier, but you were just sucked into their game. Just like 007, they can adapt appearance and emotions to whatever the mission’s surroundings require.

There you have it, undeniable evidence that your toddler is probably a secret government spy. When you add it all up, there really is no other logical conclusion. The only question is, “Are you in their crosshairs next?”

Let me know below how else your kids have shown themselves to be secret government spies.

#Fatherhood

Monday, January 12, 2015

Disneyland It's a Small World Lunch

Disneyland It's a Small World Bento Lunch #Disneyside

If you haven't been following me on social media (first of all why not?), you would have seen that my family took a trip last week to Disneyland. We live in northern California so we drove down spur of the moment. We were planning a trip later on in the year, but we decided to go last week instead. I plan on writing a post about all the tips we have for taking young kids to the park, and I will tell you then why we dropped everything and changed our trip. Until I write that, I thought it would be fun to show you my daughter's Disney themed lunch today. This is from one of our favorite rides, It's a Small World!

I'll, be honest, this lunch took a long time to make, but since we just made a ton of memories I thought I would take some extra time to make the Small World ride exterior as detailed as I could. Well, as detailed as I could do with food. This lunch wasn't difficult, just time consuming. It is actually pretty straightforward so I will list the ingredients below but, the directions will be short because you can just see the picture to make it. I did pack the lunch in a Planetbox container.

Disneyland It's a Small World Bento Lunch #Disneyside
Ingredients
Flour tortilla
Peanut butter (or nut free Wowbutter)
Blue, black, and red food coloring
Strawberries
Snap peas
Dried apricot
Dried blueberries
Sprinkles
Babybel cheese
Sliced meat

Directions
1. I made a peanut butter sandwich (requested by my daughter) with a tortilla. You can use any filling you want. I just cut the tortilla to fit the container and then cut another piece to the shape of the ride. I then used a toothpick to apply the blue details you see in the picture.

2. Use any fruits and vegetables you want for the background. I used tortilla scraps to make the letters you see in the lunch. The Mickey ears are made from dried apricot.

3. For the little girl, I used a toothpick for the facial features and one little slice of meat on the back for hair. I also cut a separate piece of meat for the bangs. I topped it off with a piece of red wax that I took off the Babybel cheese. I decorated that area with dried blueberries and a few sprinkles.

Disneyland It's a Small World Bento Lunch #Disneyside



Monday, January 5, 2015

King Julien Bento Lunch

King Julien bento lunch Madagascar All Hail King Julien

My kids first saw King Julien and the rest of the lemurs on every Madagascar movie. Recently Netflix released a new series called All Hail King Julien. My kids are officially addicted. On New Year's Eve, Netflix also did something awesome for parents. They had a streaming countdown, featuring King Julien, that you could play for your kids whenever you want. My kids loved having a dance party while watching it and I loved showing the countdown at 8:30 pm instead of midnight. Anyway, I have to admit Julien is pretty hilarious. Maurice might steal the show though. Now if I could only get that theme song out of my head.

I made this lunch in an Easy Lunch Boxes container and Julien is actually a sandwich. I tried to make the lunch as festive as Julien's life seems to be. Check out the show and check out my social media channels for even more fun stuff. Social Media buttons are on the right. Here's the recipe.

King Julien bento lunch Madagascar All Hail King Julien
Ingredients
Fat-free cream cheese
Whole wheat bread
Jam or other sandwich filling
Black food coloring
Dried blueberries or raisins
Snap peas
Dried Apricot
Orange (I used a blood orange)
Orange peel
Colorful fruits or vegetables, shredded
Kind fruit and nut clusters
Plain yogurt
Strawberries
Sprinkles

Directions
1. Cut Julien's head shape out of bread. Repeat with second piece. Don't worry, it's a lemur, the shape is hard to mess up.

2. Mix cream cheese with a very small amount of black food coloring. The resulting color should be light gray. Outline the head with gray then fill in the middle with white. Shape blueberries or raisins into the shape of the facial features and stick them on. Put jam on the other piece of bread and stick both pieces together to make a sandwich.

3. Peel the orange and cut two circles out of the peel. I used regular marker to draw the eyes since my kids won't eat the peels. Maybe yours will. That would be kind of weird, though. Place them on Julien's face.

4. Cut the dried apricots and snap peas as shown to make the hat. You can attach them together using toothpicks if desired. Put on top of Julien's head. Place head in main dish and surround with dried blueberries and shredded fruit or vegetables. 

5. In side dish place fruit and nut clusters and arrange orange pieces on top. In second side dish put strawberries and cover them with yogurt. Drop sprinkles on top of yogurt. 

King Julien bento lunch Madagascar All Hail King Julien