May 17, 2016

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Dudedads 2.0

I've realized for some time now that Dudedads has not done its best to properly define itself.  

When people asked me "what is it?" I even struggled to give them the right perspective...that of a dudedad, not as a business owner.  If I can't even give those who are curious the quick and easy response, how can the rest of the dudedads?

When Dudedads was created it was done so in a broad way, and that was on purpose.  Dudedads was born to put a badge on "proud dads who like to do dude things."  

The good part about not defining it too much was that dads who connected with it had room to make it their own thing as well.  Their dude thing was 100% their thing.  That was, and is, still very important to us.

I like to believe that when someone asks another dudedad "what is it?" today, they give their own answer that is more or less aligned with how we defined it, but with their own feelings included.

At this point, and after many conversations with close friends and fellow dudedads, I'm very certain that what we could do a better job of is brand messaging - beat the drums to reinforce the definition we did create, initially.

Further diluting our ability to bring more clarity to who dudedads are, has been the focus on the stuff we sell.  We still have to sell stuff, but it won't be so prominently presented.

Starting yesterday, we're making some changes.

1. Our website and social media pages will be reworked to better allow us to present who we are as dudedads, not what we sell (Dudedads, Ltd.).  We are taking steps to do this already (no more shopping on Facebook), and you'll see more changes in our website in the near future to foster this new dudedad community.  We've always wished that we had more dudedads engage with each other, and we're going to try harder to make that a reality.

2. We are going to round out and strengthen our message with a supporting tag line:  Work Hard.  Play Hard.  Dad Hard.  Bring on the dick jokes if you must, but you know what this means.  We'll also be adding some further supporting verbiage beyond this to help people get a clear picture for what we're about; proud dads who live and love passionately as parents and as individuals.  That said, we're not self-righteous, we're aware that we're learning as we go and doing our best, just like everyone else.  BUT we think we're onto something good...something that can do some good.

3. We are going to work to create more events to allow a place for dudedads to do what we tend to want to do with our kids when we're in charge:  Adventure.  Fun.  Experience.  Making memories, darnit.  And maybe some life lessons, too.  

We'll have to continue to grow locally in Colorado for now, given the budget constraints, but our goal is to have Dudedads host small events globally, one day...  Hey, we can dream.

Thank you to all who have supported our thing so far!  I am still very much looking forward to seeing what this becomes and I know a lot of that will have to do with you who are readying this.

May 11, 2016

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The Dudedad life isn't just about spending time with your kids

dudedad salvaging beerNot long ago I had a fellow dudedad send me a funny picture, capturing a moment of desperation in the backcountry.  His group's beer stash had exploded and they were salvaging the remains.  He happens to have his dudedad hat on at the time, but noted it probably "wasn't dudedad stuff."

But my first thought was, hell yes it is!

Here's the thing; when you're not with your kids and you happen to have the dudedad logo on, or in your pocket, etc. you're going to be more conscious of your most important job: dad.  It raises your awareness.

This isn't something we intended, but it is a factual-byproduct, and we can state that based on experience.  While the clothes don't make the man, as they say, wearing or carrying dudedad stuff raises your game.  You're always in dad-mode, on some level.

So, even when you're out doing dude things with your friends, you're still a dudedad.  It's a state of mind...and a lifestyle.  The stuff is just something of a reminder.

May 02, 2016

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10 Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Strangely, I don't think I've seen a single thing drop into my social feeds regarding Mother's Day.  Just in case you hadn't been paying attention, it's this Sunday!

Our first daughter was born on April 9th in 2006.  For my wife's first Mother's Day, which came almost a month later, I got her some flowers and some chocolate.  Um, big mistake.  For those of you who are new dads out there, take note:  all that sacrifice you've witnessed (and in some cases continue to witness)...it should be recognized and celebrated!

But, do yourself a favor, and don't ask her what she wants.

Here are 10 ideas from us, most of them are still doable before this weekend:

Click on each item title if you see "Click" to get specific options:

1. Ships Bell (click) - Growing up in suburban NJ, my brother and I were often roaming the neighborhood.  But Mom's ships bell could tell us from a couple blocks away it was time to head home.

2. Spa Day - If cost isn't too much of an object, any higher-end hotel in your area that has a spa will likely have a menu full of treatments that you can choose from.  Make sure you leave time during the day for simple relaxation, book reading, lunch, a cocktail (or two).  Maybe you can even convince one of her BF's husbands to send his wife and make it a girl-day.

3. Massage - I would bet that the need for a massage in this case directly corresponds to the number of years of motherhood you have under your belt.  Just about anyone loves a good massage and there are many new franchises that offer initial sessions at steep discounts (less than $50/hr).  Can't find something?  I'm sure you can figure out how to do this, personally.  And you may enjoy it.

4. Homemade Slideshow - If it's the thought that counts, why not put in a little labor and make her a homemade slideshow?  Celebrate her life and transition to motherhood in there.  There are lots of apps that can help you do this without pain!

5. Luxury Bathrobe (click) - For the moms that like luxury, how about a nice soft cozy bathrobe.  There are a variety of quality and price options here.

6. Wine of the Month Club (click) - If your mom likes wine (or beer), this really is the gift that keeps on giving.

7. Soaps and Stuff (click) - Ever had a $10 shake or a $20 hamburger?  Well, you can spend just about the same on a bar of soap.  Guess what, it's worth it if your wife likes to smell good.  You and your nose can reap the benefits.  I know mine does!

8. Free Night - This one is particularly for the mom who never asks for anything...the ever-giving mom.  Don't just tell her she gets a night whenever she wants if you know she won't take it.  Plan it for her.  Book her a room in a hotel.  Anything to get her away, and ideally with friends.

9. Homemade Card - This costs nothing.  Just make the time to sit down and write out your thoughts about her in her role as a mother.

10. Locket - Something she can have to hold pictures of the kids, or anything she wants, for that matter.  Make it high quality...something that will become an heirloom.  Etsy is the place.

Although we're not a fan of "keeping score" if you treat her right on Mother's Day, she may end up getting you something from www.dudedads.com for Father's Day!

November 09, 2015

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Whose Game Is it?

It's been a LONG time since we posted, and this project is one of the reasons, as it's taken some work:  A four-part video series inspired by, and centered on, a local elementary school physical education teacher, and profession coach who gives us his thoughts on today's youth sports environment.  His name is Travis Maron and we believe what he has to say is thought-provoking and transformational.  Don't take our word for it, though.  Give it a look.

For me, the heaviest point comes in his last 2 minutes.  To paraphrase: ...once the child sees how important their sports are to us, the reason for them doing it changes...they're no longer doing it for themselves.  They're doing it for us...so we love them, and give them the approval they seek.

With this, we pop the blog-bubble.  Hope you enjoy.

 

March 01, 2015

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Why I Hated Tuesday - by Brett Bernstein

When I was 5 years old, I hated Tuesday nights.  It wasn't because Tuesday was broccoli night (and if you ask anyone in my family, they will tell you how I was *not* a veggie eater as a kid).  It wasn't because I wanted to stay up past my bedtime to watch a show on TV.  It was because after dinner my dad went to play tennis with his friends.  Come to think of it, I probably hated tennis as well.

I remember watching the car back out of the driveway and wishing that my Dad would stay home.  This way we could play like the other six nights of the week.  5-year old me never quite understood how playing tennis was more fun than playing whatever game I had just made up on the spot as my Dad was packing his gym bag.

Fast-forward to (gulp) 40-year old me ... I get it. 

Now that I'm a Dad myself, I've realized that it wasn't about tennis.  It was about my dad finding some time for himself. 

Much has been written about work-life balance.  I think its all bullshit.  You simply can't find a balance point between parts of your life that usually will add up to over 100%.  What I do think is possible is to find your rhythm.  There are days where your wife needs you and everything else needs to revolve around that.  There are days where your kid needs 100% of your attention because of something that happened at school.  There are days where you need to tackle a challenge from work.  As we get older, we acquire different hats to wear.  Boyfriend. Husband. Dad. Friend.  The rhythm between the various hats you wear will change over time.  The key in my mind is to figure out how to roll with the rhythm. 

As a Dad, at some point, you need to make time for yourself.  That is what my Dad playing tennis was about.  It was his 'me' time.  The friends that he played with all had the same need for some 'me' time and all happened to enjoy playing tennis.  So they shared their 'me' time (and probably a few beers afterwards).

After my daughter was born I made her and my wife the priority. Everything else took a back seat.  It was four months later during a leadership development program at work that I realized how stressed I was.  New-Dad me was missing something pre-Dad me took for granted.  It was simple ... when pre-Dad me was stressed, he went for a run.  So I laced up the running shoes and hit the pavement.  Six months later new-Dad me ran two marathons in less than a month.

Running is my 'me' time and it helps me maintain a rhythm.  It means getting up early on weekends and being out the door while the kids are asleep.  Sometimes when my one of my kids gets up earlier than expected, it means pushing a jog-stroller.  Sometimes it means hitting a treadmill.  One of my friends is both a Dad and a runner.  We share our 'me' time as we log miles up and down the lakefront training for whatever race one of us has on the calendar. 

There is a part of me that feels a little guilty when I walk out the door for a run early on a Saturday morning.  I'm sure my Dad felt a twinge of guilt as well as he pulled out of the driveway on Tuesday nights.  However, I love that I’m teaching my kids the benefits of exercise.  I also know that I'm a better husband, dad, friend, and person because of I get some 'me' time and that helps me maintain a rhythm between the different roles in my life.

So what do you do to maintain your rhythm?

 Brett is a married father of two and makes his home in Chicago.  He has completed six marathons and two 50km ultramarathons.  Running continues to be his way of maintaining a rhythm.

January 08, 2015

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Kiddo Bedtime, My Favorite Daily Ritual

At some point early in our parenting career my wife decided that it was my job to put the kids to bed.  Originally this was a shared responsibility but it was suggested by her that it would be a good time for me to spend with the girls, since I didn't get see them most of the day.  Her statement was accurate even though I work from home, and truth-be-told, I was already enjoying my "turns" at bed time.

Transitioning from babydom to the realm of little kids in this regard, though, was a 180 degree rotation.  Trying to get a toddler to sleep who would rather not can challenge the sanity of the strongest mind.  But once they get to the age where they sort of understand the routine and embrace it, it becomes something wonderful.

Yes, there still are elements of discipline when needed, but those moments are easily combated with a calm statement suggesting removal of whatever the next step in the routine is;  "Get into the bed now or no book."  "Stop messing with your sister or I'll close the book right now."  "Get under the covers or no song."

 

Our routine is:

1) Brush teeth.

2) Read a book (sometimes Holly-8 will do the reading) - some of our favorites are Big Sister Little Sister, Oh the Places You'll Go, and Room on the Broom, but right now we're getting old school with the Boxcar Children series.

3) Each girl gets tucked in with an individual song - sometimes I'll lie on the bed with them while I do this (at their request), but this is now very rare with Holly...Hannah (6yrs) is still adamant.

4) Shouted professions of night time love (see video below).

5) The occasional kid-out-of-bed problem solving event.

There are so many reason why I love it so much.  For one, the kids are in their PJs and in hyper-snuggle-mode.  I love to hug or snug in a chair or on the couch with my kids any time, but somehow they're extra squeezable in PJs.  

 

Second, they look forward to what I'm giving them.  Most of the time everything I'm trying to get them to do around the house is something they don't want;  brush your hair, flush the toilet, eat your dinner, do your homework.  But bed time is different.  They want me to read them a book.  They want me to sing them a song.  They want me to tuck them in.  I am wanted and I am loved the most out of all other portions of the regular day in these moments and it happens everyday like clockwork!  ...lucky me.

This is also a time where I get to spend focused one on one time with each of my kids.  Right before or after song and tuck-in time, they will often want to chat a little.  I get to hear about stuff, get asked questions, and often walk away with something so hilarious that I have to repeat it to my wife.  Since they're in a very reflective and contemplative mode as the head hits the pillow, somehow they're so much more thoughtful and it just spills forth.

"LOVE YA--AH!"  I SO much enjoy the outward professions of affection we give each other to end the event.  Out of all other rituals our family enjoys...hoola hoop hugs, high-fives for love, fist bump on a job well done - the exchange I have with my daughters at the end of the bed time routine is my all-time favorite.

Lastly, I know this is fleeting.  I know that soon Holly will not want me near her.  The book reading will stop.  The songs will be retired.  Dad will officially be "gross" and not someone they want to marry...sigh.  They will put themselves to bed because they will be young adults.

Even though sometimes I do have to skip book because they're not listening, or skip the song because they're goofing around, I always, always, always end bed time in the same way.  Love, love, love.  "Love you more then you love me-ee!"  Funny how easily any frustration or stress I have can dissolve after hearing those words.

 

December 07, 2014

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12 Great Gifts for Dads (Aside from a Tailgate Hoodie from dudedads.com)

The old adage is true for a reason, but forget about Father's Day.  What do you buy your husband, friend, or family member to celebrate his fatherhood on any holiday?  The answer before Dudedads hasn't been easy, without being cheesy.

Yes, we're a bit biased when it comes to this topic, but the content to help find a dad-gift is lacking so we're going to help.  Not all gifts can be meaningful, in fact most aren't.  But, it should be pretty easy to make a functional gift have meaning with a nice note tying your item back to why you picked it for them.

Here are twelve reasonably affordable things that we, at Dudedads, have received and love, or would very much appreciate.  Click on each item title to get details:

1. Bacon Press (click) - Yes, I didn't even realize there was such a thing either until a buddy of mine showed it to me.  And yes, your dudedad needs one.

2. The Piggy Back Rider (click) - GENIUS!  I can't tell you how many times I've battled to convince my 4yr old to go for a hike with me only to have her say "daddy uppies, I'm tired" about 100 yards in.  Another 100 yards into the piggy-back my shoulders are killing me and her legs are asleep.

3. Leatherman Multitool (click) - I bought these for all of my groomsmen at my wedding and they still all have them and carry them.  A good multitool is a must for any dudedad.

4. Best Snow Shovel Ever (click) - I picked up one of these a few years ago and have been in love ever since.  This thing can either plow or sling it, in very large amounts...huge time-saver!

5. Saddle Baby (click) - GENIUS AGAIN!  At some point the kids outgrow the Bjorn but you'll still need the hands free for holding the dog leash or beer during the shoulder ride.

6. Beer of the Month Club (click) - One of my all-time favorite gifts.  I got to the point where I was gitty for the next delivery.  Substitute wine or craft booze if beer isn't his thing.

7. Pizza Stone (click) - Who doesn't love pizza and making pizza at home with the kids is a great family bonding activity...they can't mess it up.  Make sure you get one that fits in your oven and pick up a paddle too.


8. Head Lamp (click) - I use mine a LOT.  Early morning hikes, camping, or when I need some extra lumens while working in the garage.  Make sure you've got lots of lumens!  Lumens are good.

9. Outdoor Portable Fireplace (click) - Men love fire.  The next-best thing to a stone-hearth...or some may argue it's superior because you can move it.

10. Air Compressor (click) - Inflating my bicycle or vehicle tires, blowing out the irrigation system, blowing debris off the driveway, sealing the swingset...the uses seem endless.  I love my compressor.  Don't go too big or he won't be able to move it around.

11. Bose Headphones (click) - Maybe not so affordable but a must for the frequent traveler.  Pretty please?

12. Gift Certificate from Cloud9Living (click) - Fighter Pilot for A Day?  AYFKM?

 

Finally, make sure you pick him up something from www.dudedads.com!

November 13, 2014

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The Best Dudedad is Vacation-Dudedad

I don't know about you but when I was a kid I LOVED spending time with my dad.  He was sort of like this mythical legend that was gone all day, then would show up and be your best time.  He was like a celebrity to me.  Yes, we love mom, too, but Mom's not the subject here.

I remember how in the Fall my dad would rake leaves into a jumping-pile that my brother and I thought was about 10 feet high.  I remember how he would work with me on my slow-to-mature athletic skills in the backyard.  And weekend days at the pool you could usually coax him into a cannon ball off the high dive.  A couple times he even drove a dump truck home from work.  For what I don't know, but I didn't care...I was spellbound.  The man was larger than life.

But the most fun memories were on vacation.  Shocker.

Dad-on-vacation is TIRELESS.  Dad-on-vacation wants to ROMP and laugh and have fun just like you wish you could with him all the time.  Dad-on-vacation is extra cool and is game for whatever you suggest.  Yep, he's a pure dudedad.

What does that?  I'm sure it has a little to do with being able to check out to the extent we can and spend time with those we love most.  From experience I can also say that there is an inspiration to show my kids about the fun that can be had wherever we are, especially on vacation.

Trips to the Jersey Shore were my favorite and earliest vacation memories.  I remember learning to swim in the big waves and marveling at how my dad seemed fearless of the surf and whatever lurked below.  I, on the other hand, was always waiting for Jaws.  Digging giant holes was a must.    Sand crabs provided endless entertainment, and there were an endless supply of balls to kick, throw, or knock around.  (Dudes love their balls, I must say.)

This Thanksgiving we'll be fortunate enough to spend a week in the Caribbean as a family and I CAN'T WAIT!  The biggest reason is to foster and feed off of the fun my kids will be having.  We'll be at amazing beaches and I am so looking forward to swimming in the ocean and playing in the sand with my own two girls...and lucky me, my dad will be there, too.

My hope is that my kids take away an amazing memory, while I get to relax, recharge, and and get my dudedad on.  And just maybe...maybe bring a little bit of that dad-on-vacation energy back home to pull me off the couch on Sunday.

To all who are not going somewhere exotic over the holiday, so what.  Harness your dad-on-vacation...your dudedad, whenever you can!  Your fans won't stand for anything less.

October 27, 2014

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Life Balance ~=(Job1 + Job2) / (Life^4 + Us1 + Us2 + Them + Misc)

Doing nightly math homework with my third grader has me in somewhat of a calculative mood...

Along with fatherhood and silver streaks has come a more honed ability to be introspective and self-aware.  I remember a much more raw me just 10 years ago who was much more self-centered and focused on the moment at hand.  FUN was the point of life and, I must say, very easily achieved especially when you just don't give a shit.  FUN at work.  After work, FUN.  Weekend, FUN.  Life balance is easy!

Then we had our first daughter.  While I began to get my act together well in advance of purposefully trying to create a human, you just can't know what it's going to be like to be a parent until you are one.  

All of a sudden I had quite a bit more at the forefront of my worry; providing for my family over the long-term, college, a home in a good school district, continuous home improvement, making sure my wife had time for herself, making time for us all together, making time for my wife and I has a couple, making time for myself, work, etc., etc., etc.

Life balance was now complicated, and in a big way.

I found myself in a position where I had to almost keep score in my head as to where I was spending my time to ensure I wasn't inadvertently upsetting any of the weights on the scale. My hobbies tend to take days or many hours at a time, which often puts me and my family way out of whack.  

Years of failure in this constant ebb and flow have shown me some things that can help avoid the inevitable catastrophe to follow an extended period of lopsidedness:

  1. Engage in communication with your family, employer, and any other critical relationship.  When you think you're falling out of balance, it's probably because you are.  Ask your spouse and children how they feel and tell them how you feel.  These conversations alone can ease the situation and help everyone who is impacted by a sway in the balance (including you) understand what you're doing, why, and how things will change.
  2. If momma ain't happy, nobody's happy.  It's an adage for a reason.  Most dudedads I know would never purposefully make their spouse resentful of the time you're spending on your hobby, work, with friends, etc., however, it happens.  The key to avoiding this is ensuring that they are thinking about and acting on what they need, even if that's simply more time with or from you.  If everyone is thinking now and again about what they need and getting it, then everyone in theory, should feel OK.
  3. Routine. The more routine you have in life the more easy it is to modify and tweak as you seek balance.  If every day is different then your just juggling the chaos.  In my experience, if you can't somehow maintain some resemblance of a routine you will find yourself way off kilter.
  4. Do it together!  I'm not talking about Bring Your Kid to Work Day, although I'm sure that's valuable.  I'm talking about working toward activities and hobbies that you can all do together, with the kids, or as a couple.  If you and your spouse don't share any passions, try some give and take, or agree to find something new that you can both enjoy and then pull the kids into it.  My wife recently bent significantly on her willingness to go skiing with me and the kids, however, I'm still working to get all 4 of us on the couch Sundays to watch football (someday?).
  5. Find your inner gyroscope.  I mentioned keeping score in my head earlier...and this is essentially what I'm talking about.  It's trying to be self-aware and reflective of what's been going on within your inner circle.  Have I been spending an unusual amount of hours at the office?  Has my family recovered from the 3 weeks that I was on business travel 2 months ago?  Has my wife been able to get any time to herself?  When is the last time we bonded as a family for a day or more?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not pretending that I've got this figured out.  For this dudedad, life balance is actually not something that I feel could ever be achieved at this point, which is one of life's great garlands;  for those of us trying hard to get ahead and make more for our families we end up having to put more time into things that will often take us away from the best and most fleeting moments with our children.

There will always be a give and take, and ensuring we're avoiding extremes is something that I know I need to be aware of at the very least.  At best, well, maybe we can all be happy and have some FUN!!!

September 23, 2014

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Mountain Biking = Skiing = Flying

Last week I was allowed the pleasure playing hooky on a Friday.  My motivation was to accompany 4 awesome dudes up to a pass outside of Denver to ride a well known section of the Colorado Trail during peak aspen-season, when the colors of the aspen trees turn a variety of shades from yellow to red.  Although I am slightly color blind (red/green), the contrast is STRIKING.  While I am still working myself back into mountain biking after a 5 year hiatus, I jumped at the opportunity for this epic day and adventure.

Mountain biking, I've recently decided, gets me as close as I can get to the feeling of skiing powder, without skiing powder...it's like floating, like flying.  Riding a bike is something I remember vividly as a kid.  I remember the feelings I had when my father got me going on two wheels up at Oak Street School and I did a bunch of laps on my yellow Ross Snapper.  The bike is a universal love and I am always asking the kids if they want to go for a ride.  If only they were as excited about face shots!  ...my patience will pay off. 

On this day I brought my new GoPro along to see if I could possibly show Holly and Hannah (my kiddos) what it is like to mountain bike in the mountains.  The ride (and capturing the footage) were both a bit of an exploratory process filled with excitement (I can't believe where I am, what I'm doing, and who I'm with on a FRIDAY!), frustration (damn, this is a big hill), admiration (damn, that guy is fast), and accomplishment (I just did that).  Upon showing the kids the final video they said "Dad, that looks awesome, but I could never do that!"  To which I replied, someday guys...very soon.

http://youtu.be/m7RikvPXCHA - please accept my apologies for the shaky camera-work.  Still working out the kinks with the GoPro!