November 30, 2012

Animal in the Attic

Somewhere in the far reaches of my attic is an animal.  I have yet to see it, but I can hear it from the inside of my house.  It's scratching on the ceiling above us as if to say, "You can't find me."  I've gone in the attic without any luck and there are no noticeable signs that anything is living up there.  That's a good thing, but it's up there somewhere... and it's driving me crazy.  I vow to find this thing and remove it at any cost.

I really hope that my wife doesn't mind.  I mean we have to get this animal out somehow.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 28, 2012

Wednesday's Window

If you didn't already know, my family is a huge Disney family.  We have been lucky enough to go to Disney World too many times to count (my kids are spoiled I know) and our love doesn't stop on the land.  Disney Cruise line in one of the BEST in the cruise industry and we were fortunate enough to sail on their most recent addition to their fleet, The Fantasy.  I was also fortunate to have my hands on the iPhone 5 (man I am coming across as a snob huh?) which has that cool panorama feature built in to it's camera.  So I figured why not give you a cool glimpse into what the ship looks like.  I hope you enjoy this weeks Wednesday's Window.

The ship made it's first ever voyage to San Juan, Puerto Rico
View from the classic Promenade Deck
Looking out Deck 12 towards the Great Blue Yonder
Adults only section Deck 12 Forward
Deck 12 Forward 
Adult only area. Cove pool down below
Mickey Pool.  Fun for the kids
Midship Donald Duck and Mickey Pools
The Aqualab spray area
Goof's Sports Deck mini golf
Very classic Central Atrium
Movie theatre where we saw Wreck it Ralph
Walt Disney Theater
Enchanted Garden Dining room
Royal Palace Dining room
D-Lounge family fun
Our room. Small but easily fit a family of four
Main pools at night
Cove pool at night
More Mickey and Donald Pools

It was a beautiful ship.  Next week I will share some of the amazing places that the ship took us.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 21, 2012

A Time to Give

I swore that I wasn't going to do a Thanksgiving post this year.  I find them tiring listing off all the things that we are grateful for. I'm happy that I have a family that loves me, food on my table, and a roof over my head.

Which leaves me to the reason for this here post.

Some people are not so lucky to have a roof over their heads this year; Hurricane Sandy took care of that a few weeks ago.  Here in New Jersey, the storm hit us pretty hard.  My home was completely spared of any damage and the worst thing that happened was that after a week of the power being out, I had to replace all of the food in my fridge.  It sucks, but you deal with it.  Turns out I was one of the lucky ones.

When storms like this hit, you feel really bad for the people that lost everything.  Then after a few weeks it seems that you forget about them and the struggles that they are going through.  I think back to when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast; the images that I saw were completely unbelievable, but after time they disappeared from my conscience.  It wasn't something that I had to deal with directly, and unfortunately I went on with my life not thinking about what those people 1500 miles away were going through.  We donated money to the Red Cross, but there really seemed to be little more that I could do.

This is one of the lasting images of this Superstorm Sandy.  It's 10 minutes from my house.  When I heard about all of the damage in New York and New Jersey, I didn't realize that right down the road from me was one of the hardest hit areas in the region, Union Beach.  I had seen the destruction of Seaside Heights and much of the Jersey Shore that my good friend Justin Mannato has documented in his blog Daddy Knows Less, but there was always this image of this half a house standing in Union Beach.  Little did I know how close it was to where I live. This house on Front Street is not something that is going to disappear from head anytime soon. Nor is the damage that I saw that was far worse than this in the rest of the town.

There was a house here

Union Beach is not one of these grand seaside towns with mansions that dot the seascape.  It's a middle class borough with hard working people that shop in the same grocery stores that I shop in.  They get their cars fixed at the same mechanics that we do.  They eat in the same restaurants, including one of our favorites, Drew's in Keyport which was completely flooded by the storm. Much of this town has lost everything.

It's where we come in.  Neighbors helping neighbors in anyway that we can.  To make donations to this tiny town you can do so by mailing a check to the following:
Union Beach Disaster Relief Fund
650 Poole Ave.
Union Beach, NJ 07735.
You can also visit the towns website at to find out other ways to help, they sure could use a ton of it.  Of course if you are reluctant to write a check you can always go online and donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief.

A lot of us have so much to give this holiday season, and that is something we should all be thankful for.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 20, 2012

Walmart... Starring Legos

For some reason I find myself shopping at Walmart way too frequently.  I always seem to feel a little bit dirtier when I pull into the parking lot.  I normally stop at Target, but there is a Walmart closer to my house. When you need a ceiling fan, a lego set, and some mouthwash it makes for easy one stop shopping.  As soon as you walk through the doors of the store, it's as if you are transported to another world.  The shopping carts all seem to have an issue with them and the people do too.

I really need to limit my time there.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 16, 2012

Animator's Palate

I do believe that I have found the most awesome restaurant on the planet.

It's not one that everyone is going to be able to go to, but it is one that needs to be shared nonetheless.  We were fortunate enough to recently sail on the new Disney Cruise ship The Fantasy and to say that their restaurant Animator's Palate is cool would be an understatement.  Like their sister ship, The Dream, The Fantasy takes dining to a whole new level.  Yes the food is outstanding, but it's what happens while you eat that is unbelievable part.

If you have ever seen the movie Finding Nemo you know the character Crush.  Well one night on our cruise Crush paid us a visit at our dinner table.  Much like the attraction at Epcot, Crush talks to you.

Now we had seen that before and it really is quite amazing how they pull it off.  I still don't fully understand how they do it but compared to our next night of dining there, that was nothing.

Our second night at Animator's Palate left us all scratching our heads a little.  Each of us was asked to animate a character on a sheet of paper and while were eating the magic happened.

How THIS is possible is something I will never comprehend.  Now obviously it's done through computer magic, but the fact that they can take a little picture that I drew at my table and make it dance on the big screen is simply AWESOME.  Each of us were now Disney animators.

Unfortunately for my wife and I now, dining out will never be the same.  We have kind of set a standard as far as the whole dining experience is concerned.  When we go to a restaurant and they give out crayons for the kids to use, I'm afraid that just won't cut it anymore.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 1, 2012

Feeling Guilty

I feel guilty.

My family and I survived Hurricane Sandy completely unscathed. Minus the power being out at our house we had no water or structural damage at all. For that I feel lucky. But I also feel a sense of guilt, like maybe we should have been hit harder so we would completely know what it's like back home.

All I have to go on is pictures I see on the Internet. Pictures of absolute chaos all over the tristate area. I've seen a lot of bad things over the years from working in TV news, including New York City after 9/11. But seeing these images of the widespread destruction so close to where I live hits home much harder.

I didn't know anyone that died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, so for me while the day was tragic I was never left with any of this guilt that I have now. Maybe my home should have taken on sea water like my Best Man at my wedding's house. Maybe our whole neighborhood should be wiped out much like my wife's old stomping grounds on Staten Island were. Maybe we should have stayed in New Jersey and rode out this whole mess like everyone else is?

We decided to leave.

Vacation was planned for later in the week, so we decided to leave early. Leave an area that we know is devastated, for the comfort and safety of Walt Disney World. Maybe that is part of the reason that I feel guilty, I'm here and others are back home picking up the pieces of their torn apart lives, or in the case of my best man - protecting his house from ass hole looters that are going to to door stealing from those who have already lost so much. My kids will never know what it's like back home. All of their friends are struggling to stay warm in powerless houses and here they are getting to go to Legoland and Disney World.

Should we have stayed home and dealt with this there? Part of me actually thinks that we should have, but I do think we made the right decision heading south. We are fortunate that we were able to do so. So many families could not. That's why my wife and I have decided to donate all of our old clothes and toys to families that have lost everything. See my whole "not wanting to get rid of anything" finally paid off.

I just want everyone to know that even though we might be a thousand miles away, our hearts are very much back home with all our friends who riding this out back there.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?