December 17, 2014

The Day the Sound Went Out

I was at a complete loss.

I was trying to watch a Syracuse Basketball game online and stream it to my television but for some reason I was not getting any sound.  I guess I could have just sat there with no audio, but that just seems weird to me.  A big part of watching the game is being able to hear it.  Sometimes I would rather watch a game at home than go to it live, because I like to hear the announcers.  But here I was, five minutes until tip off and I wasn't getting any audio whatsoever.

Enter the TuneIn Radio app on my phone.

I've had this app on my phone for a while now, but I have never really gotten to use it.  I occasionally listen to a friend of mine on the radio in Buffalo but I never really needed it to listen to a Syracuse game until this one.

It couldn't have been any easier to find the game that I was looking for.

When I started the app I saw that I could browse a bunch of different categories including sports.  From there I found the page for Syracuse University and much to my surprise there was the local radio feed for my beloved Syracuse Orange.  They are one of 85 college basketball broadcasts that TuneIn will carry this winter.  So unless you are a fan of the Geneseo State Blue Knights, it's a safe bet that you will be able to listen to your team online.

I used to get the Syracuse radio feed at my house in Central New Jersey.  I would have to slowly go through the radio dial and find it between all of the static.  You think you found it, but then it turns out to be Rush Limbaugh or Dr. Drew Pinsky.  It was a pain in the butt.  Now, it's just a few taps on my phone and I can hear the beautiful voice of Matt Park and the sweet sounds of the Carrier Dome.  Technology is utterly amazing. No longer do I have to listen to the annoying Dick Vitale.

*I was compensated by TuneIn and Life of Dad for my thoughts on this.  All opinions are my own, unless my wife tells me otherwise.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


11 Things I've Learned About Christmas in 11 Years

Its' hard to believe that this is going to be the 11th Christmas that my wife and I have spent with kids. We are still in the grasp of Santa Claus, but I fear that this will be the last year the jolly old elf gets all of the credit for the big day.  Tyler is in the fifth grade now and I am shocked that he still believes in Santa or is at least still playing along.  I suspect that he has known for a couple of years now, but just won't come out and tell us.  He's a smart kid, perhaps smarter than us.  Some fourth grader told Carter on the bus that Santa isn't real, so who knows what he thinks.  He's never really been into the whole holiday as much as his older brother.

I've noticed some things in 11 years.

1. No Christmas is as exciting as when your kid is two years old.  Christmas peaked that year.  The first couple of years the kids have no idea what is going on, but at two they expect something will happen and Christmas morning when you are two is an explosion of excitement. Tyler dressed up as Santa to go see Santa that year.  Walking through the mall that year is something I will never forget.

2. The first Christmas really is a waste for the kids.  It's nothing more than a photo opportunity with a new "Baby's First Christmas" outfit.  Kids can't open anything at that age and they really have no clue what is going on.  just give your kid a box.

3. The first Christmas is anything but a waste for parents.  It might be a photo opportunity, but never again will your kid wear the "Baby's First Christmas" outfit.  Christmas changes when you have a kid.

4. Kids react differently to Christmas.  Our oldest loves everything about Christmas, our youngest is pretty indifferent.  He makes a list, he checks it twice; he'd be happy if a big box was delivered on a random Tuesday afternoon with a bunch of toys and games.  He could do without all the Christmas trimmings.  The first couple of years Carter was fine with Santa, the next few he was scared to see him.

5. Christmas turns into a game. Part of me just wants to spill the beans about Christmas.  The kids find random presents that were supposed to be from Santa.  They see our browsing history on the computer.  Presents have to be switched from Santa to Hanukkah.  It's not easy nowadays hiding everything.

6. Every Christmas special on TV talks about not believing in Santa. It puts doubt in their heads.  Why would a young kid have any reason to not believe?  Yet, every show starts with some kid questioning the existence of Santa only to be convinced in the end that he is real.  Maybe it's the parent in me that wants to make it last as long as possible and I'm thinking about it too much, but I can almost see the wheels turning in my kids heads whenever it gets brought up.

7. It's not easy to shop anymore. We used to be able to get the kids anything and they would love it.  Throw some Legos or Star Wars stuff under the tree and the kids would be thrilled. Now?  They love their tablets and they don't really play with toys that much anymore.  It's all about video games, but you can't have EVERY present be a video game.  They just don't NEED as much stuff, but they WANT a lot of stuff.

8. Whatever they want they will no longer play with by New Years.  Like a lot of kids last year, Tyler had to have a million rubber bands last year for his Rainbow Loom kit.  Two days later they were forgotten about.

9. Christmas lists can't be made out until Thanksgiving.  Sure kids can wish for things throughout the year, but I learned my lesson with Pokemon two years ago.  It's all Carter wanted in October, so we bought a bunch of them online.  By mid November he wanted nothing to do with them.  We still have those cards and he actually is starting to play with Pokemon again, but that wasn't a fun holiday.

10. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.  Amazingly I'm happy not getting anything for Christmas.  Seeing my kids open all their presents is good enough for me.

11. The moment after all the presents are opened is the saddest time of year.  You have no idea what Christmas is going to look like the following year.  How will the kids change?  Will they care about Santa anymore?  How much Christmas magic will still exist? Every year the kids are less and less excited about the holidays. A lot changes over the course of a year's time.

Who knows what next year will hold, but I suspect I will learn a little more.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


December 12, 2014

My Son's First Phone. It's not a Toy Anymore

**I have been paid by Tracfone and Life of Dad LLC for the following post.  All opinions are my own.

I have been toying with the idea of getting Tyler a phone for a while now.  I didn't have a phone until I was 25, partly because I felt I didn't need one and phones just weren't that big of a deal back in the dark ages when I was growing up.  I suspect that even if phones were in wide circulation when I was a kid, that I probably would not have owned one. I was either in school or I was watching TV in my bedroom.  My parents knew where to find me.

Tyler isn't that much different than I was.  He doesn't spend his hours rotting away in front of the TV like I did, but I kind of know where he is all the time.  He is either at school, or he is sitting right in front of me.  He does head over to his friends house from time to time, but for the most part he hasn't really needed a phone.

But he starts Middle School next year and I suspect a lot of things are going to change.  He will be joining clubs, meeting new friends from all over town as a opposed to our development that we live in, and probably will need to be in contact with us out of the house a little more than he is now.  It's just not the same world that I grew up in, and a phone now kind of seems like a necessity.  I hate to say it, but I wouldn't want him to be the only one of his friends that DIDN'T have a phone.  As much as there is a need for a phone, there is an even bigger need to fit in... especially in Middle School.

I wasn't sure what kind of phone we should get him.  Like a lot of kids he has a tablet that he uses, but he can't make phone calls from it and it doesn't really fit in his pocket if he is heading over to a friends house.  Right now he has to rely on wifi and with a cellular connection it makes communicating with us that much easier.  This is where Tracfone comes in.

With the launch of their new SpongeBob SquarePants bundle I was asked to help promote it by having Tyler test it out.  I don't think we would have gotten him one for Christmas, but their LG Optimus Fuel™ Android™ phone just might be the perfect starter phone to get this holiday season.

It's time to graduate to a better phone
Something like this
It's perfect for his little hands
The main thing that I like about it is their award winning NQ Family Guardian™ parental control app.  Not that Tyler would ever be up to no good, but this gives me the ability to see where he goes online, what apps he is downloading, where he has been, and basically everything that he does on his phone. Safety has always been one of my main concerns with a phone, and this app helps calm any fears that I might have.  The GPS tracker also lets me know that his isn't somewhere that he is supposed to be.

You can zoom in closer 

Another one of the things I like about this Tracfone is that there is no contract to sign up for.  I know that with my plan it's $70 a month and that just seems silly for a 10 year old boy to talk and text with his friends.  With Tracfone you can get a prepaid talk, text, and data plan for as little as $19.99 for 90 days.  For a kid, that makes so much more sense.

The phone is available for a limited time at Kroger, Target, and Walmart stores nationwide for $29.99* (usually $79.99)** and includes a year of the Family Guardian app for free, which is a $39.99 value.

I don't know what kind of phone my son will end up getting as his first "official" phone, but it's nice to know that there are phones like this one that can put my mind at ease.

Also, thanks to the guys at Life of Dad you can track Santa on social media.  Just follow the #TracSanta hashtag... Have fun!

*Plans and phones are sold separately... check coverage and availability at
** Limited from 11/29/14 to 12/31/14

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


December 8, 2014

The Tale of Two Tailgates

I don't get to tailgate much.

My favorite teams are a five hour trip away from my house so loading up the car with food and beverage and schlepping to a stadium is something that I am not going to do that often.  I did get the chance earlier this year to see my Syracuse Orange take on Notre Dame at Metlife stadium, but that really is a once every few years sort of thing.

I really wish I had the chance to do it more often.  It sucks when your alma mater is so far away and they don't visit your area more than they do.  I really wish I liked a team like Rutgers which is only about 20 minutes away.  Then I could take the kids all the time and tailgating would be something that we do every weekend.  But I hate Rutgers, I hate everything about them, and I really can't stand their bandwagon fans.  These red "Rs" I see on everyone's cars when I live really gets my blood boiling.

So it was surprising that the first tailgate party that I would take Carter to was a Rutgers game in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  I swore I would never visit the place unless Syracuse was playing them, but when your son loves football and his Mighty Mites team is going as a whole, then you have to make exceptions.

You will notice though that Carter is the only one not wearing some form of red.  Taking him to the game was one thing, actually cheering for the home team was another.  I will say though, that while I dislike Rutgers, that Carter had a great time playing with his friends and the food and beverage made the whole day a lot easier to swallow.  This day was not my typical tailgate.

My usual form of "tailgating" now involves me sitting on my couch with a six pack of beer and easy access to my refrigerator.  Since my Syracuse Orange Men's Basketball team is on TV quite often, this type of tailgate is commonplace.  Just last weekend they had a game against Holy Cross.  Since it wasn't THAT big of a game, it was relegated to ESPN 3 which of course you can only watch on your phone or by streaming it to your television.  It's not the easiest way to watch a game, but it's better than not using it at all.

I had an issue though.  While the picture was OK, I wasn't getting any sound.  Rather than fiddling with the TV I decided to fire up my TuneIn Radio App that I downloaded onto my iPhone.  Browsing through different categories I was able to find the Syracuse University radio call of the game.  I was able to sync up the sound with the video on my TV and instead of sitting in silence for two hours, thanks to the TuneIn Radio App I had audio to match my video.  Not living in the Syracuse area, without this App I would not have been able to listen to the game, and it couldn't have been any easier.

So while the rest of the family and friends were busy with their board games, I was busy with my six pack and my beloved Syracuse Orange, who won by the way.  It would have been nice to watch them in person... but this was the next best way.  You too can #TurnTheGameUp this winter with your favorite team and TuneIn Radio.

Disclosure: I have partnered and was compensated by Life of Dad, LLC and TuneIn for this promotion.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 21, 2014


One of the saddest things about the boys growing up is that they look at the world differently than when they were little.  Back then they didn't look at people think about what race they were or how old someone was; people were judged on whether you played with them or not. There was no talk of whether someone was Asian, black, or white.  You were a person and that was it.

Somewhere along the way that changed.  I can hear my kids talk about "black" kids or whether someone is gay or not.  It's pretty upsetting actually, especially since that is not the way that I talk around them.  I stress to them all the time that it doesn't matter how someone looks or whether they are gay or straight.  What matters is what type of person someone is.  Are they someone that they would like to be friends with?

Everyone is different, and that is what makes everyone and everything AWESOME.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


November 13, 2014

The Polar Vortex and Your Car


What we used to call winter weather is finally on its way.  Nowadays we have to use fancy terms like "Polar Vortex" and "Bombo Genesis" to describe what we used to call cold and snow.  Cold and snow is boring and unsexy.  Polar Vortex?  Now you have me listening.

Everything has to have some sort catchy title, so I will call cleaning my car out to prepare for winter, "The Cleanse."  I really should do this more often, but when you have kids cleaning anything is like dumping a bucket of water on a forest fire.  You might be able to slow the spread of the mess, but it's really just a temporary band aid that won't really do that much.

I choose to clean my car out four times a year. Not surprisingly that coincides with the start of each season.  In the spring I can vacuum out any remaining salt, in the summer any mud gets cleaned up, in the fall all the beach sand goes away, and in the winter I prepare our car for the cold and snow.

To read more about this please click on over to Trusted Choice.  It's vital we all survive this winter unscathed.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


October 23, 2014

Celebrate 5000

Let's face, we all want a reason to party and not something stupid like announcing the gender of your child.  That is NOT a thing.  What I am proposing IS MOST DEFINITELY a thing, but most of us don't even know when that thing happens.

When our kids were little we always talked about how old they were in terms of months.  Someone would ask you how old your kids were and you always responded with some number between one and 23. Then their second birthday happened and months became fractions like 1/4 or 1/2.  Some time around their fourth birthday you dropped the fractions and their age became a whole number for the rest of their lives.

Why should we only celebrate every successful loop around the sun?

There is one unit of measure that seems to be forgotten about.  A day.  I would argue that a day is every bit as important as a year but we just don't seem to give the day the respect that it deserves.  The fact that the earth completes a rotation every 24 hours is just as amazing as going around the sun every year.  But since there are so many days and not as many years we choose to celebrate that latter.

No more.

I think we should celebrate a collection of days and not just 365 of them.  Sure we can continue to celebrate yearly, but why not throw another number into the mix... 5000.  You can pick your own number of days, but any multiple of 5000 seems like something we should be popping champagne over.  Why not?  This is only a day that you need to celebrate every 13.7 years or 13 years 255 days.

I'm not one to walk around telling people that I am X amount of days old.  I would never want to change the way that we celebrate birthdays... I just want to add to it a little bit.  I just had my 41st birthday last month and while 40 was a big deal, 41 isn't something that I can get excited over.  A number like 5000?  That sounds like WAY more of a big deal if you ask me.

Who's with me on this?  Let me know when your next big milestone is or how many days old you are on Twitter using the hashtag #Celebrate5000.  It's time to make this the next big thing.

Oh, by the way.


John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


October 20, 2014

Like Riding a Bike? HA!

Learning how to ride a bike shouldn't be so freaking hard.

There is a phrase "It's like riding a bike" for a reason.  Once you get on, you start to pedal, and you go.  It's pretty simple; in theory anyway.  I like to think that I am a pretty good teacher when it comes to certain things like riding a bike, but it turns out I am horrible at it.  It took me over two years to finally get my oldest son to ride a bike and my youngest... well he has the basics, but I just don't have the patience to teach him.

I get more frustrated trying to teach them, than they get by trying to learn.  I think there are seven phases that parents go through when they try to teach their kids how to ride a bike.  From excitement to annoyance, our emotions run the gamut.

Find out more in my latest installment for the Trusted Choice Blog.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


October 15, 2014

How I Made My Toilet the Coolest Toilet in Town

The other day my son locked me in the bathroom.  It was a rare moment of peace on an otherwise crazy morning.  Sometimes I go in there to escape.  I might not even have to go to the bathroom, but unlike a lot of other parents my kids actually leave me alone in the bathroom.  I will let you draw your own conclusions as to why.

I don't know what it is about the bathroom that turns all of us into readers.  I never read anywhere else in my home, but as soon as my butt hits the toilet seat, I will read ANYTHING. It's not even my phone or a magazine, sometimes you just pick up anything with words on it and give it a glance.  Have you ever actually read the side of a tube of toothpaste?  I have.  Those little inserts in magazines?  Sometimes you get desperate.

Whenever I go to the bathroom I have this irrational fear that a snake is going to slither up the pipe and somehow find its way into the bowl that I am sitting on top of.  I know that the likelihood of that happening is extremely rare, but I have seen pictures... and it literally scares the crap out of me.  I know that others have the same fear of spiders lurking down there, but we learned a song in first grade called "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" that easily puts those fears to rest, at least for me.

Most people probably don't give their toilet a second thought.  The only thing that they care about is whether it matches the decor of the rest of the bathroom.  I was the same way, because I thought all toilets were the same.  You put the seat down, you do your business, you push the little handle down and everything gets taken away to the sewage treatment plant.

That was before I knew Kohler made something better.

Kohler Touchless Toilet
My toilet doesn't have a handle.  I kind of wish that my kids were younger and still believed in the type of magic that opens those automatic doors at the grocery store.  Because this would be the coolest way make sure that they flush the toilet.  As it stands now, they flush it most of the time and the idea of a Touchless Toilet is one that they just don't seem to care about.  My kids only use the bathroom to actually go to the bathroom and all of that other stuff is lost on them.  They don't read, they aren't looking for a moment of peace (they have never created a moment of peace) and the bathroom is the last place they want to be.

But I think it is the coolest thing EVER.  And in five minutes time I could install it in my existing toilet!

The idea that I can just wave my hand over the top of my toilet and everything goes on its merry way makes me feel like David Copperfield every time that I go to the bathroom.  I know it's not that much effort to push the little lever down, but when you can get your hands on something that makes an otherwise boring technology a little more "exciting"... it's just something that you have to have.

But wait... there's more!

As you get older you have a tendency to get up in the middle of the night and use the bathroom more and more.  The problem with that is that either you turn on all the lights to go about your business which causes you to wake up more than you want and you can't fall back asleep, or that you leave the lights off and hope that your aim is really good in the dark.  More often than not I try for the latter, but for some reason, even though I am standing directly over the bowl I don't hear the stream hitting the water in the toilet.  Either it gets all over the toilet or a big puddle forms on the floor.  I put a nightlight in the bathroom to try and alleviate this issue but there just isn't enough light cast in the bowl to give me a good target... until now.

Kohler makes this really cool nightlight toilet seat that can be retrofitted on your existing toilet. It took all of about two minutes to remove my old one and put this new one on.  The "task" light stays on for five hours at a time, so all that you have to do is set the time you want it on for and there will be no more yellow stains surrounding your toilet in the morning.  I have woken up more well rested since the day we installed this in our bathroom. I'm almost to the point where I want to wake up in the middle of the night just to see the cool blue glow of my toilet bowl. A toilet with its own lighting system, how cool is that?

Who knows what they will think of next?  Perhaps a wifi enabled toilet that we can flush using our phone?  Or one that acts as its own sewage treatment facility giving you clean drinking water as you flush?  Whatever it is, I'm getting it... because I want the coolest toilet in town and you should too.

*Kohler supplied me with both of these products for review.  All opinions are my own, unless my wife tells me otherwise.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


September 16, 2014

How Did We Survive?

When I was a kid this is how I was punished
Remember the days when there weren't any school buses and it snowed all the time? And instead of living right next to the school your grandparents decided to live at the bottom of a hill about 10 miles away?  Why would they do that to my parents?

They must have had it so rough.

When I was a kid they invented school buses and everyone decided to live on flat ground. While it did snow a little bit, thanks to global climate change more often than not we didn't have to worry about slogging through the snow to get to school.  But we didn't have computers and all the various video games.  I had no phone that I could put in my pocket and text my friends.  If I wanted to get in touch with them I had to call the operator and have them patch me through.  Or I had to send a smoke signal to let them know that I wanted them to come over and play.

We had it rough.

Kids today have everything at their fingertips and don't even have to get off the couch to watch a movie.  They can just dial it up on their iPods and stream it to our giant TV that hangs on the wall.  When I was a kid our TV acted as a piece of furniture.  It was built into a wooden box.  If we wanted a movie we all hopped into the back of our station wagon and went to the video store.  That took at least 10 minutes. 10 FREAKING MINUTES... can you even imagine?  And if we didn't rewind that movie they charged us something like two dollars. Two whole dollars.  Thats like two songs on iTunes.

How did we survive?

I can only imagine what my kids will talk about with their kids.  Fast forward 30 years and my kids will think that THEY had it rough because it took them two hours to fly to Florida (when my grandparents were kids it took about a month in their covered wagon to go that far).  Kids in 30 years will be able to get there in the amount of time it takes to walk down the block nowadays. They will also complain that they would sometimes lose their wifi connection... the horror!  

Can you even imagine how rough my kids will think their childhood was? The worst thing about their lives is that they won't have any good stories about how hard life was when they were young.

What will be the equivalent of walking through snow to school in 30, 60, or 90 years?

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 22, 2014

Hall of Fame Advice for a Seven Year Old

Our trip to Canton was filled with so many once in a lifetime opportunities, but there was one that topped them all.  We all had the ability to meet the 2014 Hall of Fame Class in person at an autograph signing.  Everyone who was there had various balls, helmets, or other memorabilia for the inductees to sign, but nobody there brought a video camera.  We were supposed to only take pictures of the inductees as they signed the items put in front of them, but that didn't stop my wife from getting exclusive advice for our aspiring young football star Carter.

It's not everyday that this kind of access so we made the most of it:

The odds are highly against Carter making the Hall of Fame, but at least he has a leg up on his competition.

This was made possible by our recent trip to Canton as part of #DaddysFordJourney sponsored by the Tri-State Ford Dealers.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 15, 2014

The Ford Explorer... As Seen By a Kid

I have always wanted my older son to start making videos.  The technology now makes it so easy for anyone to create content and get it out there for the world to see.  A few weeks ago he made a movie about how boring a car trip can be and how "exciting" it was to be looking at trees from the back seat of the car.

When we went on our road trip to Canton as part of our #DaddysFordJourney thanks to the fine folks at The Tri-State Ford Dealers I thought it would be a great idea for him to showcase the Ford Explorer that we were driving.  Who knows?  Maybe this can be part of their next big advertising campaign?

It's interesting to see how a kid sees the world around him.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 6, 2014

Daddy's Ford Journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

My wife is not a football fan.  Sure she likes to watch our seven year old Carter play, but she has no idea who any of the players are (aside from the obvious ones like Tom Brady) and certainly has no clue about who is in the Hall of Fame. Lynn Swann could be Gale Sayers for all she knew.  Or Dan Marino could be Joe Montana.  The point is, football is not her thing... at least it wasn't anyway.

I was approached by the Tri-State Ford Dealers to drive out to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio with my family.  Since the Giants are one of our local teams and Michael Strahan was getting enshrined this year they wanted me of all people to cover it for them.  Now I am an admitted Bills fan (I used to be a Steelers fan and a Dolphins fan before I realized that I should be rooting for the local team from where I grew up) but I would never let that get in the way of my fairly covering a player for the Giants.  Strahan is one of the best defensive linemen in the history of the game and deserving of this honor.  So it was off the Canton we went.

I had no idea what to expect when the car came and was excited to see my very own hashtag on the rear bumper.  Of course with a hashtag on the rear bumper comes great responsibility.  There would be no speeding and reckless driving of any kind (not that there would be of course) on this trip.

We got a late start due to the fact that my wife had to work late.  It explains why she is so dressed up and I look like a slob.  This worked out OK though as we wanted to get at least a little bit of driving done so we didn't have to tackle the entire eight hour day in one shot.  Of course when you start out TOO late, everyone falls asleep in about an hour and it's up to you to find a hotel at 2:00 in the morning.  Thankfully I had the Fords navigation system to keep me company and it found me a hotel outside of Hazelton, PA for us to spend the night.

Day two was all about getting to Canton.  There would be no stops along the way... at least planned stops anyway.  It's my opinion that, for the most part, any road trip is about the destination and not so much the journey.  When you have been on as many trips as I have, you understand where I am coming from.  Of course you do have to stop sometimes... the kids have to eat after all.

We stopped at a truck stop that if I had too rate it, I would give it a negative two.  There was a funk to it, but the bathrooms were somewhat clean.  The sandwiches were moldy and the candy was hard as a rock. Needless to say, this must not be a very busy truck stop.  We filled up with gas and I noticed a very cool feature with the Ford Explorer that I hadn't seen before.

Of course we forget to get Carter a package of Skittles so ANOTHER emergency stop was in order.  The boy loves his candy more than life itself.

I know that you are thinking we could have held off and just not let him have the Skittles, but seriously who wants to put up with that kid of screaming when we didn't know how much longer it was going to take.

This leads me to an observation... Pennsylvania is the widest state that I have ever driven across.  It absolutely took forever.  It was beautiful with it's rolling hills and rivers that you would cross every few miles it seemed, but I have never looked forward to a sign like this one as I did on that drive.

Of course arriving in Ohio still meant that we had another two hours to go until we arrived in Canton.  I like driving, but this was getting ridiculous and the boys were getting antsy. Any future plans that I had to take the boys on a long road trip are now out the window.  I am NOT looking forward to our drive to Chicago at the end of the summer.

With all that being said, the weekend more than made up for how long the drive took.  We were at our hotel for about 10 minutes and we ran into this guy in the elevator.

Steelers great Lynn Swann

It's crazy to think that we were sharing our hotel with one of the greatest receivers to ever play football.  When I was a kid Carter's age, he was my guy.  Whenever I was playing catch I WAS Lynn Swann and now I am sharing an elevator with him.  Certainly this was a sign of things to come.

I had never been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's always been a place that I wanted to go.  I am a fan of the past and of the players that time has forgotten about.  In order to appreciate today's game, I think it's important to know a little history of the game and the players that paved the way.  I love that my boys share that same passion.

Of course you couldn't pick a better weekend to visit that Hall than Enshrinement Weekend.  History is on display all over the grounds of the Hall of Fame, inside and out.

There is something about seeing the old jerseys.  They don't look as generic as today's do.  You can almost sense that there was some old lady who cut out the numbers herself and hand stitched every single one of them.

While this was a GREAT weekend to visit the Hall, it was also the busiest weekend to visit.  The crowds were huge, which is understandable, seeing as how Michael Strahan and Andre Reed were two of the inductees.

One of the highlights for me was a fan tailgate party prior to the induction ceremony.  While we didn't meet the inductees themselves, we did meet a lot of their family members.  It's very interesting talking to Andre Reed's older brother about what it was like growing up with a future hall of famer and more interesting still dancing with Derrick Brooks entire extended family.  It's nice to see where these guys are from and how important family is to all of them.

It's also nice to have a wife that isn't a huge football fan so she has no issue with going up to people and asking them if the played the game at all.  Turns out, the best way to introduce yourself to an athlete is by telling them that you have no idea who they are.  Without that, my son would not have had a personal conversation with former NFL quarterback Marc Brunell.  Two lefty football players discussing the nuances of the game.

Of course the main reason that we were there was to watch the players get inducted into the Hall of Fame.  It's easily the highlight of the weekend for most people.  I wasn't sure that my kids would be able to sit through all of the speeches, but they did.  They also quoted their speeches to the players when we met them the next day.

The thing that struck me about each of these guys speeches was that there wasn't much mention of their fathers.  Each and every single one of them had two things to thank; God and their mother.  While dad wasn't completely nonexistent, it was always the talk of their hard working mothers that made the tears flow.  So if you want your kid to be a Hall of Fame athlete, make sure that mom is involved every step of the way.

The game the next day was somewhat inconsequential in comparison to the rest of the weekend.  The only thing that I will remember from it is that it was my kids first pro football game.  I don't even know who won, nor do I care really.  What I care about the most is that my kids soaked up every single moment.

The only problem with the weekend was that when it was over, we had to drive back to New Jersey.  I wasn't looking forward to that drive through Pennsylvania again.  I don't know how in the heck people drive from one end of Texas to the other.  While the scenery is beautiful, sometimes you just need to know that you are in another state.  Carter got so bored with Pennsylvania he fell asleep before we even got home.

Those seat belts have an air bag in them by the way and yes I know that this wasn't the safest way for him to ride, but you can't help when your kid decides that he just wants to sleep... I'm certainly not going to stop him.  Even the Ford Explorer can't help when your kid is having a meltdown somewhere in the Poconos.

I must thank the fine people from the Tri-State Ford dealers for making this trip possible.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime and one that I won't soon forget.  It was also a trip that made my wife a football fan... at least for one weekend anyway.

I was provided a 2014 Ford Explorer by the Tri-State Ford Dealers and was compensated for most of our expenses.  All opinions expressed are my own.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?