January 23, 2017

Eating Out While Eating In

We've never been the type of family that was afraid to take our kids out to eat. Since my oldest could hold himself up, he has sat at the table with us. My wife and I figured that the sooner he learned how to act while out at a restaurant, the better we all would be in the long run.

We were perfect parents... then my second son came along.

He was a nightmare wherever we went. You never knew when he was going to have a meltdown, you never knew what kind of food he wanted to eat, and (back before tablets and iPods) you never knew if we had the right color crayons. Eating out with him was an adventure.  In fact, we went to France when he was three and he was so terrible that we vowed to never travel with him again.  Even now at nine, he still has his moments.

We really do like to eat out. I'm not the most adventurous cook and if we want to live on the wild side  at least food wise, we have to let someone else do the cooking.  Of course eating out too much can get expensive and most of the time the kids don't eat what you put in front of them.  Like most parents having a restaurant quality experience at home is something that we would love to do. So we thought that we would bring a steakhouse to OUR house... at least once anyway.

We have all the fancy linens, candles, and fine(er) china; we just never use them outside of MAYBE Christmas and the odd Valentine's Day when I turn into Bobby Flay for a day.  Then I'll spend all day making some romantic meal for my wife and of course the kids end up hating everything.

The hardest part about all of this is that my kids are getting to the age where when they want food, they want it five minutes ago.  They don't want to wait the hour (or two) it might take for the food to cook. Normally I would ply them with goldfish crackers or popcorn to get them through until dinner.  But since we were having a fancy dining experience I thought soup would be in order.

Now normally soup is one of those all day things, but when you have kids, who has all day?  Fortunately Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups makes the whole soup making process VERY easy. All I had to do was pour the contents of the package into water, heat it up, and stir.  Within five minutes we had a nice creamy delicious potato soup. You wouldn't think that something that comes out a bag would taste so good, but the soups are made with 100% real Idaho® potatoes and they deliver the flavorful, slow-cooked taste of restaurant quality potato soup.

All I had to do was dish out the soup and sit down and eat it.

Unfortunately this was the moment that my wife told me that she was going out to dinner with her sister and that my son was having a sleepover with a friend.  So our fancy family night eating in, turned into anything but that.

A photo posted by John Willey (@jdubs44) on

At least I tried and didn't waste all day making soup.

Life of Dad and Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups are looking to crown the #KingOfSoup.  If you think I have what it takes to wear that crown, please follow the hashtag on social media.  Also follow Idahoan® Foods on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to show your support.

**This was a sponsored post for Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods.  I was compensated, but all opinions are my own, unless my wife tells me otherwise.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 12, 2016

My Pick for Best Dad Car of 2016

Let me first start by saying that I am NOT a car guy.

When I am looking for a new car, I look at a couple that I think look cool or practical and then I go to the experts and see what they have to say. A quick Google search usually leads me to a few reviews from various sites and then I'm left determining what it is that I actually want out of a vehicle and how much I am willing to pay.  I could test drive vehicles, but honestly who has that kind of time on their hands to test drive every car ever made.

Turns out the people at Kelley Blue Book do.

I was sitting in a parking lot with Rich Homan, one of their reviewers, who pointed out that he had driven every single car that was in the lot.  I don't know how many cars there were, but there had to be over 300 at the time.  Lucky for me that I am in the market for a new car AND I have one of the top car experts at my disposal. I spent the day with Rich as a guest of Kelley Blue Book and he explained to me how he went about reviewing a vehicle.  Stuff as basic as adjusting your rear view mirrors to how the car handles the on Southern California's roadways, Rich explained what went into each and every car review and how Kelley Blue Book comes up with their lists like The 16 Best Family Cars of 2016.

I was invited to Kelley Blue Book's Irvine, CA headquarters along with other dad bloggers to help whittle that list down to what I thought was the best "Dad Car" of 2016.  Before my trip, I assumed that we would be driving Lambourghinis and Ferraris, but as it turned out we were driving Hondas and Toyotas. The latter two make way more sense from a practical standpoint and as a dad, I am looking for practical when it comes to my car buying decisions.

To help make our decision on the top car a little easier Kelley Blue Book picked what they thought were the five best cars for dads out of their list of 16.  They were:

I started by reviewing the Toyota Sienna. I admittedly went in with the opinion that I would love this car.  I currently drive a minivan and can't see myself driving anything else.  They have everything that I need; space, sliding doors, and all the amenities you could ever ask for.  I don't understand what everyone's hangups are over minivans.  It's a car. I've driven the Sienna before and knew what I was getting myself into.  It was roomy, sporty, and everything that my family of four (and a dog) would need. It might be a little more expensive than the smaller sedans, but it seems that the price of the average family vehicle has creeped up over $30,000 which puts the Sienna right in line with everyone else.

The second car that I reviewed was the Kia Optima. I hated it. I felt too low to the ground, didn't handle as well as the Sienna, and you could feel every bump that we hit. Maybe it's just that I am used to the legroom of the minivan, but the back seat seemed cramped.  I envisioned my kids complaining all the time about how they had no room to stretch their legs out.  I will only remember the Kia as the vehicle that took me and Dad and Buried to In-N-Out Burger (don't tell anyone else that we went there, OK?)

The third car that we reviewed was the Chevy Tahoe.  I know most dads would think that this was the car that they would go for.  It's spacious, it's stylish, and it makes you look like you own the road. You could fit an entire baseball team inside, but who really needs that?  While the Tahoe is a beautiful car and everything that I would need, the problem is that it is TOO big.  It's not a car that I could fit in my garage and when you live in the northeast, that's an issue.  My driving partner Dad and Buried had the same issues living in NYC, street parking would be almost impossible with a vehicle this size.  Throw in the sticker price of $48,000 and I just don't know how the average family can own this car.

The fourth car that we reviewed was the Honda Civic.  Much like the Kia the Civic felt small.  I'm not sure how this car could be considered a family car except for the sticker price which was considerably lower than all the others.  Even if you had smaller kids or a baby for that matter in a rear-facing child seat, the lack of space was hard to get past.  When you are a parent, you have to carry an arsenal of supplies and the Civic just doesn't cut it.  While it handled well, I just don't know how it would handle the northeast winters.  I look at the Civic as a good car BEFORE you have a family, but then you have to graduate to something a little bigger when you have kids.

The fifth car that we reviewed was the Subaru Outback. When were sitting in the parking lot with Rich Holman, he said that if he had to drive only car for the rest of his life it would be this car.  If the Zombie Apocalypse were to happen he could envision himself off roading in this vehicle to escape the devastation.  While that's not likely to happen, I can see his point. If I wasn't such a fan of the minivans, THIS would be the type of car that I would get.  It's small enough to fit in my garage, yet big enough for the family to stretch out.  It has enough storage space in the back, and I can envision piling my bikes on the roof.

When all was said and done, my choice for best Dad Car of 2016 is the Toyota Sienna, a MINIVAN, But don't just take my word for it. Visit Kelley Blue Book. They are THE go to resource for all your buying and selling needs.

**This is sponsored post on behalf of Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book.  I have received compensation, but the opinions are my own.  I mean, I picked a minivan for crying out loud.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?