Got kids? I’ve got a watch for you.

They got me. They hit my weak spot. They know. They’ve been watching me. They knew I’d cave. They smelled blood. They know I crave watches. And I tried to resist. Really, I did. But who am I kidding? Would I say no to a watch review. Especially, if it is for an iconic brand like Timex? You may say, “but you have so many watches already did you really need to review another one?!” I would argue it is my duty especially because I was skeptical about the one they sent me. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. An all black IP fly back chrono with something they call “Intelligent Quartz”. I already own several Timex watches and you may ask why given some of the others you have seen on my wrist. My answer to you, in the form of a question, is simply this: Got kids?

I do. Two boys and they beat the crap out of everything they can get their hands on. My 4 year old experiments resistance thresholds whereas my 9 month old just bashes and giggles Bamm-Bamm style. I am old enough to remember when Timex had one of the best taglines ever: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. And that is still true. This chrono looks great for both casual and dress wear, but most importantly it can go all day and is quite durable. Although a solidly constructed watch it is surprisingly light for a 42mm. I’ve never had a problem with the inner works yet on a Timex especially in the T-series family so other than the rare battery change I trust it will lead a long and healthy life on your wrist. The best part is that considering what kids are capable of this watch is affordable so you don’t have to liv fear of wearing it at work or play. If you want a workhorse watch that can do it all (except maybe babysit) then grab a Timex Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronographs.

Extreme Urban Parenting with the new Diaper Dude Boba Camo Baby Carrier and Father’s Day Giveaway

“She didn’t get into the right pre-school which means she won’t get into a good private school which means she’ll never get into Ivy League college which means she won’t get a good job. I mean, she’s three years old and her life is finished.” – Woody Allen

In a nutshell that is Manhattan. Living on the UES makes the nutshell even smaller and that much harder to crack (as well as making you nuts and look nuts to outsiders). Extreme Urban Parenting has more to do with egos here than it does with navigating the Urban Jungle with kids so what better venue than to flaunt my top secret LE Diaper Dude Boba Carrier in Camo print. Every tactical advantage on the battlefields of the UES must be embraced and so when Boba called me up and asked if I would field test and review my very own and not yet seen (which in UES speak is “I’m better than you because I can get stuff before the rest of you plebeians) Diaper Dude Boba Carrier with Camo print to match my camo watch, camo diaper wallet and camo Diaper Dude diaper bag, I told them I would have to ask my stylist. My 8 month old giggled which I took to be a yes and the mission was a go.

Not only would I be the only UES dad to have one, but I no longer had to suck in my gut to fit in my wife’s carrier (yup, I’m not allowed to change the setting on it… you know what I’m talking about ladies!) and, to be frank, beige is one of my least favorite colors. So when it arrived I did my happy dance which my 4 year old defined as “silly”.

Out of the box the setup is a cinch and logical if you have ever worn a baby carrier and even if you never have it is easy. Most surprising to me was the feel of the cotton – soft and supple. I was definitely expecting a more “synthetic” and coarse feel. The carrier comes with detachable stirrups which is a feature that I ditched. My 8 month old would basically start yelling “giddy’up!” and dig his heels into my side at the first inkling of stirrups and that would be bad news not only for me, but for everybody around us. The padding is great and the stowaway head cover thingy (ask my wife what the technical name is, but you know what I mean!) adjusts perfectly to keep my son from turning into a bobblehead. He fit perfectly with a few quick adjustments to the straps and it was a very smooth ride for him and I felt that he was snug and my back was well guarded. You have a smart compartment out front for keys and cards. The camo print is just a lot of fun. Most carriers are standard run colors so dad gets to have a little fun while walking around with this one. I also got a lot of compliments from the ladies… about the camo. I would suggest to Boba that they would most definitely find a mom market for the camp print although I am sure they have already thought of it because many moms and dads asked me where I had gotten it. So for that I thank the Diaper Dude and Boba for making me the Alpha-Dad/Parent of the UES for the last month or so. I also plan to put it to the ultimate test by traveling overseas with it so stay tuned for a follow up report!

So whether you are an hardcore AP or a Brooklyn hipster or a stuffy banker I highly recommend the Diaper Dude Boba carrier if not for excellent fit and portability at least for the symbolism of camo and parenthood as a struggle which on the UES takes on a whole new meaning with Extreme Urban Parenting.

 

How about WINNING a LE Diaper Dude Boba Carrier? If you like the sound of that you know the routine for entering to win:

  1. Leave a comment on this post saying what the next camo Diaper Dude Boba Baby Carrier print should be (i.e. desert, tundra, jungle, forest etc.);
  2. Like Boba on Facebook for one entry;
  3. Follow Boba on Twitter for one entry;
  4. If you like New York Dad’s Blog and follow me on Twitter I will also count that as additional entries;
  5. Post or Share this giveaway for additional entries and post the links in a separate comment below.

Make sure that for multiple entries you use a separate comment for each one.

This is open to U.S. readers only.

I will announce the winner on Father’s Day! Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I received a Diaper Dude Boba Carrier for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

WE HAVE A WINNER!

Thank you to all of those who participated in the giveaway. Eva M. is the winner as selected by random.org

Happy Father’s Day to everyone 🙂

The Brother P-Touch endures play date after play date

Since putting up labels in the nursery/playroom, two things have happened that have tested my nerves and probably the labels’ nerves as well (they might have feelings too, you know!). The first is my older son’s obsession with the Alphabet and spelling has intensified. “That’s great! What are you complaining about!” you might be thinking. Well you try to carry on a conversation or train of thought with a toddler shouting “Look Daddy, t as in table!” “Look Mommy, z as in zebra!” non-stop for hour and hours and hours. Of course the labels are no exception and they can’t even leave the room – they’re just stuck their helpless. “Daddy? Look! T-R-U-C-K… truck!”

The second is the numerous play dates that have suddenly become part of my life. As you may know, I am very OCD about things and order is something that is a pillar – nay – the very foundation upon which I am built as a person. Without order, chaos takes over and that I start to lose control myself. You can say that parenthood certainly has tested me to the core and I am only a few years in.

So back to the poor labels that not only have to take my son’s abuse, but they also have to take it from perfect strangers who (and I am an eye witness) deliberately subject them to torture. They have taken it very well and must say that aside from one particularly fearsome attack with scissors that did not go well for the targeted label and underlying woodwork the labels I stuck in the playroom are still standing and despite ongoing wear and tear have lived up to the Brother P-Touch reputation of durability.

The next project will be beach gear as Spring arrives and Summer follows. It will be interesting to see how the labels hold up against the heat, humidity and sand of the beach!

NB: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. All opinions expressed are my own.

No Mo Mo’ – A salute to Movember and farewell to my “Undercover Brother”

So sad to see it go, but alas I am mulling over bringing back the goatee and so after growing the mo’ for all of November for Movember – no mo mo’ for me.

Throughout Movember, a group of about 50 dads was spurred on by our fearless ring leader Laid Off Dad and did an amazing job of raising around $19,000 for prostate cancer research and men’s health awareness in general. To top it all off when it came time to start thinking about shaving off the whiskers that have become a constant source of irritation to my 3 month old (how can you stop yourself from smothering a newborn with kisses – albeit prickly), LOD gets a nod from Philips Norelco to not only use and keep some of their high-tech 3-D shaving gizmos – a trimmer and an electric shaver (for which you can get a nice $30 rebate over here), but they were willing add to the group’s donations with an additional $15,000. All we had to do was shave our whiskers for a national, nay worldwide, audience (see the all the silliness at the ‘Stache-tacular Shave Off site).

So without further ado here is my whisker striptease. For copyright reasons I cannot put a soundtrack on this video, but if you feel goofy and have time you should play it with “That Dude” by The High Decibels. Trust me it works real nice!

 

 

The trimmer worked great although the vacuum thingy that is supposed to keep all the whiskers unsurprisingly had a hard time keeping them all in. The shaver was pretty impressive (aka a close shave) considering I am a safety razor guy. I did use a wet shave and brush with cream because you do not under any circumstance want to pull metal across your face without lubrication, but as they say: “De gustibus non disputandum est.”

I hope you enjoyed and I hope you keep Movember in mind. My mo’ will see you all again next year for more silliness.

The Brother P-Touch, my tendency to be OCD and my son’s ABCs.

I am following up on my OCD tendencies and the Brother P-Touch that I received to help fuel those tendencies. The challenge (and parents will appreciate the difficulty level on this one) was to organize and label the kids’ playroom, which in NYC also means the nursery/bedroom since 99% of us live in sardine cans. The challenge coincided with my eldest’s recent obsession with the alphabet, which is a post in and of itself.

The Brother P-Touch is very intuitive and does what it is meant to do: print labels. Simple and functional which is a parent’s best friend. I thought I would show the progress on the toy cubby. I confess that I chose this particular area of the playroom because it is the one place that never ever remains neat for more than a few seconds. I saw it as an opportunity to document what it could look like when arranged properly.

Of course, my wife thought it best to send in my three and a half year old to “assist me” also known as “keep him busy.” The writing on the wall (not the one my son has made with his crayons, but the figurative one) said “Good Luck!”. The project started with my son successfully ejected half of the tape from the P-touch. I was somehow able to roll most of it back into the cartridge while he busied himself with changing the menu settings on my point and shoot. I managed to print out the labels I wanted to attach to the cubbyholes by offering duplicates as sacrifices for my son’s entertainment.

This actually brings me to my eyewitness account and visual proof that these labels are pretty damn near indestructible. You will notice in the photo that my son has taken one of the labels and used it as a sling for his Lego bus. As always kids find fun in the darnedest things and he ran around the room swinging the bus tethered to the label (disclaimer: kids do not try this at home!). Undaunted and with total disregard for my own safety I seized upon his moment of distraction and taking my eyes off of the rotating Lego bus, I started labeling and tidying up the cubbyholes.

And then I felt stare upon me. He was close. So close I could smell the organic free range PB&J sandwich he had eaten earlier. A sense of dread and foreboding overcame me.

 

“Daaaaaaaaady! A, B, C, Dsssss!” he yelled as he went after a few of the labels I still had not attached.

“Don’t…” I started to say.

“Noooooooo! I neeed A, B, C, Dsssss!” and just like that he was off running down the hallway.

“Crap!” I whispered and pulled out the Brother P-Touch and powered it up as I kicked the door shut and locked it.

 

I ignored the thudding at the door and quickly printed out the stolen labels and frantically stuck them to the cubbyholes. I stepped back to admire my work. The point and shoot immortalized the almost perfect tidiness of toys all in their assigned place. I took one last glance to admire my masterpiece, sighed, turned and unlocked the door.

NB: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Brother P-Touch and that scuttling noise behind me.

As some of you know from earlier posts (Divide and conquer or fall asleep trying…), I am a bit of a neat freak. Of course as those of you who are parents know all too well tidiness is not part of the job description. The moment I put something away and turn my attention to the next object I hear an odd scuttling, much like the one you hear in horror movies before something jumps out at the protagonist , and the object I just put away is back on the floor. Although my second son is just a few weeks old it is just a matter of time before the scuttling grows louder and the objects on the floor multiple. Divide and conquer may have been a good tactic with one child, but with two it will take maximum concentration.

I, therefore, jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Brother P-Touch ambassador program and put their labels to the test. Not, mind you, because I am under the illusion that the scuttling will stop, but for my own mental sanity. I need the labels on boxes and toys to lull me into a false sense of security that if I blink my eyes three times everything will be in order. Although, I will still have to do my own cleaning up, I will at least be able to dig out my son’s toys from the sandbox time after time and rapidly check to make sure it is his Thomas The Tank Engine and not one of the other five bazillion lying around the sand box.
          
The first challenge Brother gave us was to use a test kit with a scrubber, Clorox and nail polish remover to find out how durable are the labels. I actually decided to go beyond that and think like a scuttling toddler. So I dunked the label overnight in water (because I know I am not the only one who has “rescued” toys from the toilet). I smeared oranges, blueberries, strawberries and yogurt on the label and let them dry out and then scrubbed the label under hot water. I also froze the label and then washed it in the dishwasher a couple of times. I figure this is the type of abuse that the labels would get if they were on my son’s toys, sippy cups, and any other object he might get his hands on.
         

The good news is that the labels held up incredibly well, the bad news is that many of the objects that I would attach them to will probably not. I will continue to try the label out and I will also try to organize my sons’ room in the coming months. Stay tuned for photos and updates on whether or not the scuttling has diminished.

NB: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Clarisonic Classic: A spa minute (literally) for this tired dad’s face.

I was recently approached with what I felt at the time was an unusual request: to test out a facial cleansing product. The request by Clarisonic, though, was use it as a pre-shave treatment to reduce razor burn and ingrown hairs. I was skeptical since I really did not see the point since I use a badger brush to do the same thing, but I was intrigued and accepted.

After just a few days I got a package with my kit that was mine to test and to keep. The kit included (and it’s what you get in the regular kit when you purchase it):

 

– Cordless Clarisonic Classic (Graphite)

– Charging Cradle (120v)

– Normal Brush Head (you can also get a sensitive skin head separately)

– 1 oz. trial sizes of Refreshing Gel Cleanser, Gentle Hydro Cleanser and Nourishing Care Cleanser

– I did not get the travel bag which I was rather bummed about until I saw that it was floral patterned.

I followed the instructions on charging the unit with the cradle and the next morning decided to start the regimen. I confess that as any guy would I really did not read the instructions in detail. Basically it says to apply some of the gel to the Clarisonic brush head and then lather around your face and neck thanks to the gagillion movements and vibrations per second that the brush does on your skin  (or something like that). I grabbed it, put some gel on it and into the shower it went with me (it’s waterproof). I had read it should only take a minute and also not to push the brush hard, just glide it across your face, so that is what I did. I pushed the start button on the handle and the Clarisonic came to life. It looks like a giant Sonicare toothbrush and, in fact, it was invented by the same people (I am not going to bore you with all the technical mumbo jumbo, but if you’re into that here is a good link: Clarisonic Research).

The vibration was pleasant and before you all get naughty thoughts in your head please remember that my kids may read this some day. I pretty much winged it (since, again, I’m a guy and don’t really read instructions) and let the brush do its thing for a minute or two. It gave me a pleasant face massaging sensation so I was not counting the seconds. I pushed the button again and the vibration stopped. After rinsing off the lathered gel and getting out of the shower I definitely felt tighter (cleaner) skin and I proceeded to shave using my trusted badger brush and safety razor.

I must confess that although I have oily skin, I really to do not have problems with ingrown facial hair or with breakouts, but I do use facial soap regularly so to make sure I was giving the Clarisonic a good run I decided to use it exclusively for a few weeks. This is also the amount of time that Clarisonic told me to wait before I starting seeing results since your face adjusts to this new method of cleaning. The Clarisonic certainly gets the job done. It cleaned me up just as well if not better than some of the soaps I use regularly. As far as making it an indispensable part of my own shaving routine I will say that it is not necessary, but again I do not have problems with my facial hair that this product could certainly resolve. I can certainly see the benefits of it opening up the obstructions that usually trap facial hair for those who suffer from in grown hair and I can certainly see how acne sufferers would get a good scrub with this. I do, though, enjoy using the Clarisonic for my facial scrubs and will continue to use it in the shower to keep my face clean and quite frankly massage my face since with two kids it is the only spa treatment I will be getting anytime soon – even if it lasts only a minute.

No more sand (maybe).

Everyone has his or her favorite beach towel. Whether it has your Alma Mater’s crest or your kid’s favorite cartoon character on it, what you do not like about that towel is the mounds of sand that it picks up and brings back home with it. As so many things in life, the military found a solution from years spent wandering the dessert and dealing with tons and tons of the stuff. Of course, who other than Hammacher Schlemmer could discover the secret and make it available to us civilians?

 

I think the sandless beach mat is ingenious. As described on their site, the specially woven polyurethane acts as a one-way filter to prevent sand from reemerging through the bottom of the mat. The rip-stop polyurethane construction resists abrasions from outdoor furniture or pets, the bound edges remain flat, and the mat won’t absorb moisture, preventing mold and mildew. It comes in two sizes 6’x6’ or 8’x8’, with the smaller version available in blue or orange (the larger size only in blue). So your towels can stay nice and clean. Now if the military could only find a way to keep the sand encrusted kids off of the towels…

Reliving the holidays of yore with my inner child…

This holiday season is going to be as fun as it will be stressful. We have decided to stay in New York do avoid the craziness of running around for a few days in Rome trying to visit as many relatives as possible. Actually, it is more about chauffeuring our son around to be coddled and spoiled while we sit in the corner and wait to bring him to the next relative’s home, but that is just a detail. So we are going to set up shop at home and it will be the first time he can appreciate it. In our house that means an advent calendar, a tree (the debate rages about fake or real) and thanks to my son’s current obsession Frosty the Snowman and the Gingerbread Man in some shape or form. This also means that there will be an overly excited little boy running around the house each time one of these objects appears and there will be a great deal or ripping, tipping, spilling and all the other standard fare just multiplied and magnified by the novelty of it all.

Nonetheless, who can help themselves when their kid’s eyes go wide with surprise and twinkle with delight to see new and curious objects? So I was actually excited when I spoke to BJ’s Wholesale Club recently as they put together their holiday gift guide, because one holiday classic was in there and I could already see my son sitting at the table with me and my wife building it together. I actually ran downstairs when their package was dropped of at my building and I peaked inside on the way up in the elevator to make sure that it was indeed what I expected. Imagine the corniest of holiday movies where the sun glints off the top of a desired object and the protagonist gets a goofy smile and the credits roll with chirping in the background. So all of that minus the sun and the credits rolling since I was in an elevator. My Gingerbread House had arrived. You’re right, how egocentric of me: My son’s Gingerbread House had arrived.

I don’t think I have had one since I was a kid. I carefully laid every piece out on the table with my son excitedly pointing at each piece and naming them or inventing names for them depending on whether or not he had seen or eaten it before. I started to explain to my son how the pieces when put together would look like the box they came in. I did not tell him the part where I really was just hoping it would not fall apart or look like, well, a toddler made it. He looked rather skeptical and I can’t blame him, but after a few seconds he just pointed at the gumdrops and asked: “Candy?”

Indeed that is candy I answered and there went those great big wide eyes.

“Candy! Daddy more candy please?!” (it’s always more even when he hasn’t had any yet).

Because I felt this project near and dear to me I tried to reason with my 2.5 year old son, which is really quite silly of me. I told him how daddy had built them when he was a little boy and how it would be all neat looking with icing and candy canes and he could show his friends and…

“No Daddy! I want candy!!! Candy Daddy… pleeeeeassse!”

Right, so as I was saying these pieces have to be stuck together so we can build this house.

“No Daddy! Candy! Mommy, mommy… candy pleassse?!”

As the situation degenerated my son started to horde the gumdrops and candy canes. I was able to save Mrs. Gingerbread from a deadly tug of war unscathed and with her fixed smile still intact.

I finally gave him a gumdrop to appease the beast and he contentedly sucked on it and pointed at his mouth curled up in a victorious grin.

“Candy Daddy! I have candy!”

I knew I did not have much time so I pumped the icing furiously to build the sides and the roof. Icing flew everywhere as I worked like a mad sculptor in the throws of a creative epiphany. I worked the gumdrops into the roof and the little colored sugar beads onto the window frames and the door. I filled out the Gingerbreads and stuck on the candy canes. My son started to get excited too and pointed at the house and all the gleaming candy until he realized that it was no longer within his reach. By then it was too late. The masterpiece was finished and I dropped back into my seat exhausted and spent after having unleashed my inner child and novice architect. I did not hear my son’s pleading for more candy, all I saw was my glorious creation. I was a child again and even my wife who walked in on the scene said so as she shook her finger at me and picked up my son who was in full tantrum mode because of the gumdrop sugar rush and consequent negation of another dose by his father. A true holiday moment thanks to yours truly.

Branding pioneers and the way to a dad’s heart (and wallet).

Much has been said recently about dads and there place in the hearts and minds of brands. There is plenty already out there to read on the subject (and very different opinions) so I am not going to rehash the debate, but I wanted to give you guys a peek into a relationship I have had with a brand that is very supportive of the idea that dads are half of the parenting equation. Those who have followed my posts will know that I have talked fondly about Bugaboo on several occasions. One of my very firsts posts in fact was about my beloved Cameleon (aka The Thing-a-ma-jigger) so it was easy for them to start a conversation with me knowing that I was already a fan. Setting aside the pros and cons of their products (I am sure we all have our preferences) I wanted to tell you about something that they shared with me that does not really fall into the product review basket for which they usually contact me. What they wanted to talk about was advertising. Their new campaign – the “all-in-one-and-only” – was about ready to roll out and they asked me what I thought. Now as you may know from my info or from having met me, I am a Brand Strategist by trade, so this kind of opinion is what I get paid to give each day. I was too tempted and intrigued, though, by the possibility of giving my input on a brand that I admire to say no to a simple barter deal. What really got my attention was that Bugaboo presented me with two campaigns and said they felt that one campaign would resonate with men and dads. The other they felt was too “emotional” and had a greater affinity to women. I looked at the two campaigns and shook my head. They didn’t get it.

I was surprised because they had done so well in reaching out to a small, but vocal and growing group of men who they felt could help get their message out there, but the campaign they felt would attract us most to me just fell flat on its face. It is by a famous photographer and it is aesthetically very pleasing, but it is art and a Bugaboo stroller is first and foremost about family life, kids, going places together and doing things together. It is also a well made, form and function piece of design. At least that is my take on the brand.

I then looked at the “emotional” campaign that they felt was more appropriate for women. The first photo was a family with the father holding the kid standing next to the stroller.

The second photo was a family, again with dad in the picture (albeit they look like they live in Park Slope, Brooklyn).

Not until the third image was there a “mommy only” scene. Why in the world would I not connect with seeing a dad included in a picture with the product? Isn’t that the whole point of getting me to want to buy the product? If all I see is an “artistic” portrayal of the product how does that get me to project myself into that scene and find any sort of emotional connection (and subsequent loyalty if the products also performs to expectation).

You are right. This post is not about my son or parenting. It is about marketing. About how we interact with brands (as a blogger and as consumers).

The fact is that Bugaboo shot a campaign that included “dad” in the pictures and if it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words it is true that Bugaboo spoke more to me as a dad with that inclusion than many other brands that say they want to cater to men and dads; and yet, they continue to show only mom with baby and use mom-centric language in their descriptions. There are the pioneers who are willing to take on challenges and beat new paths and there are those who are content where they are safe and sound. One is not better than the other and in the world of marketing it is nonetheless a never-ending debate, but I’ve always admired the pioneers.