June 23, 2015

My Son's First Car

My son is turning 11 (?!) in a couple of weeks and we have already started to talk about getting him his first car.  I know it sounds strange to think about something that he won't use for another six years, but these kids grow up fast and before you now it he will be a 17 year old kid driving himself to high school.  The thought of those two things makes me want to cry, but life just doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

The reason that we have been discussing his first car is because my wife has been talking about getting a new car herself.  The timing seems to be about right.  She owns the car for the next six years and then we hand it down to our son when he is ready to drive.  You might think we are spoiling our kids, but even I was handed down a car to use when I was young.  He will have to pay for things like insurance and gas, but a six year old car that will hopefully still be in good shape will be his, assuming he wants it.  And what teen ager looking for a little freedom wouldn't?

I can remember my first car. My parents used to drive nothing but K Cars.  I think my dad said it was because they were easy to fix and the parts were cheap.  After we got rid of our green Chevy Nova and our Ford Station Wagons with the rear fold out seats, it was nothing but K Cars for the next 10 years.  

Ain't she a beauty?

So that's what I ended up with when I got older.  It was this beauty of a wagon with the paneling and also a grey sedan.  Shockingly I have no pictures of that vehicle whatsoever... who would?  This wasn't the coolest car, but when you are 18 does it really matter?  It had wheels and when it wasn't in the shop it got me from point A to point B.  A babe magnet it was not, but it was a conversation piece. There's a sense of freedom you get by having a car, even one as ugly as this one.

The only picture of the two together, what a moment.

The first car that I ever bought myself was a Dodge Neon.  They no longer made the K Car at that time, and this seemed like the next best option.  It was cheap and it was red.  It lasted about seven years until the brakes went and the floor started to leak every time that it rained.  It stunk like mildew because it never seemed to dry out.  My wife and I bought a Volkswagen Jetta after we got married.  I was so sick of driving the Neon that I would take the Jetta work every chance that I got. It was fun to drive.

A couple of years ago when my niece was old enough to drive and needed a car we gave her our old Jetta.  At that point we had bought a new car and instead of getting rid of it, we handed it down to her.  It needed a little bit of work, but for a first car it's been great for her. Not surprisingly 13 years after we bought it, it still runs.

This is the day we took Carter home from the hospital

Perhaps my favorite car that we have owned was the first car that we had as a family, a Honda Pilot.  We brought both of our kids home from the hospital after they were born in this car.  At the time neither of us were ready to get a minivan, but our thoughts on that have changed.  We are now a minivan family.

So I don't know what kind of car we are going to get my wife and in turn my son.  My wife kind of wants a two door convertible, but I just don't think that's practical and I can't send my son to school driving a nicer car than I would be.  Part of me just wants to go and find a 25 year old K car and force him to drive around in that, but my son is way cooler than I was at his age and that wouldn't be fair.

Of course with any vehicle we need to think about safety first. When my son is ready to drive we will have to stress to him that auto accidents are the number one killer of teens in America.  They account for over 5000 deaths annually and the summer period between Memorial Day and Labor Day are often referred to as the deadliest 100 days for teen drivers.

Michelin wants us to know that of the 2.2 million accidents that occur with inexperienced drivers annually, 12% are caused by tire related issues. Driving on under inflated tires or tires with low tread depth can lead to safety issues on the roadways.  Fortunately accidents due to improperly maintained tires can be preventable.  By checking your tire pressure monthly and knowing how to judge your tread depth, Michelin knows they can reduce the yearly number of accidents caused by tire related issues.

So what was your #FirstCarMoment?  I assume it was as ugly as mine was?

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Michelin for this promotion. I have received compensation for my participation, but my first car memories are my own.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


June 17, 2015

What I Want For Father's Day... Part Three

**I was compensated by JCPenney for this post.  All thoughts are my own unless my wife tells me otherwise. #JCPStyleByMyKid #Ad**

This week I have been telling you what I want for Father's Day.  It's all about gadgets and clothes.  I kind of would like some really good beer too, but that's not something that you can send your kids to the store and get.  Kids in a liquor store is kind of sad. So we will stick to gadgets and clothing.

The other day I went shopping with my son at JCPenney to have him pick up and outfit for me for Father's Day.  The shopping experience could not have gone any easier; he was totally into it and so was I.  There were some limitations that I put in place.  I couldn't get anything that would make me look fat, and I couldn't get anything that would make me look stupid.  He struck out on the first two attempts, but he hit one out of the park on the third one.

Maybe we didn't go crazy shopping like we could have, but my son knows that I will only wear certain things, moose antlers being one of them.  If you want to get in on the #JCPStyleByMyKid fun just enter the contest below for your chance to win $50 from JCPenney.  Then go online and get you shopping done or head on down to the mall where you and your kid can pick out an outfit for you (or dad.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to JCPenney for sponsoring this whole collection of posts.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


Daddy's 7 Summer Road Trip Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelTheLove #CollectiveBias

I am NOT a car guy.

Sadly this is one area that I will not be able to pass along my expertise down to my kids.  When they get older I will teach them how to change a tire, but for the most part I will tell them to have roadside assistance on speed dial.

My dad isn't really a car guy either, but he always changed his own oil.  I remember him being under the hood of the car, draining out the old oil, replacing the filter, and filling the car back up.  It looked messy.  There was always a piece of cardboard with a huge oil stain and a bucket with old dirty oil.  I have no idea what he did with that bucket; he could have dumped it in the woods for all I know.

Changing my own oil was something that never interested me.

A lot of it comes down to time and convenience.  I want to instill in my kids that their time has a value.  If you change your own oil, the oil costs around $20, the filter around $5, and then you have to find a place to dump the old oil.  So before you even begin the process you are $25 in.  Throw in how long it is going to take you and it's well over $30.  There are places like the Automotive Care Center at Walmart that change your oil for you cheaper than that.

I've never seen my son so happy to get an oil change

Don't tell the dealership that we leased our car through, but I have been putting off getting my oil changed for a while.  I treat cars like I do my teeth.  Unless something is noticeably wrong with it, I won't take it to the shop/dentist to get it fixed.  Who has that kind of time to wait around?  But with summer here and knowing that we had a few road trips coming up, it was time to take the car down to Walmart because I knew I could drop the car off and pick up a few essentials along the way.

My garage doesn't have all of this

I've taken my cars to other quick service places, but the difference here is that I could drop the car off and go get some shopping done.  Everywhere else I have to sit in the waiting room and read a year old People Magazine.  My son happened to be off school that day, so I let him help me figure out everything that we might need.

As we said good bye to our car we decided to hit the store to pick up a few things that we just HAD to have; or at least HE had to have.

First and foremost you have to have candy.  Nothing helps a kid sit still in a six hour car ride more than a box of candy.  Fortunately there was a big bin of candy right outside of the automotive center.

Second, you have to have games.  You can never have enough games.  I've made the mistake in the past of not bringing along any games.  Just when you think your kid only wants to play on his iPod, they yell out that they are bored and want to play a game.  Have you ever been on Interstate 81 north of Scranton and all of a sudden your kid wants to play a game that you don't have?  Good luck finding a place to get one.

Third, you NEED toys.  I'm not sure how many toys we need, but it seems that we never have enough.  Grandma has plenty of toys at her house, but why would the kids play with them, when they can play with all new ones?

Fourth, SNACKS.  I'm not sure I need to explain this one, but they always need snacks.  The need for snacks is compounded the moment that you pull out of your driveway. You need every variety of snacks that they make.  DON'T SKIMP ON SNACKS.

Fifth, you need highlighters.  No idea why this is the case but apparently my youngest, along with everyone else in his class at school, is obsessed with highlighters.

Sixth, you need movies.  My kids haven't watched a movie in our car since we bought it, but I know that the moment that we forget to bring a movie along they will want to watch one.  Six hours in a car goes much faster when the kids are quiet with their headphones on.

Seventh and probably most importantly, is playing cards.  I have no idea how to play this game, but I know that we have spent too much money on these things. We've all had our obsessions in life and right now my son's obsession is this game. 

Once we were satisfied with our road trip essentials we headed back to the Automotive Care Center where our car was waiting for us. It couldn't have been easier.  Probably the most essential thing you need for a road trip is an engine that is running right.  Had I changed my own oil, I probably wouldn't have tightened all the nuts and bolts and my car would have leaked all over New Jersey.  Thanks to the folks at Walmart and their Pennzoil products I know that won't be the case.  Their conventional motor oil will make my car run smoother and with less friction than other motor oils.  Let's face kids in a car is more than enough friction for any parent.

So you can save money for your road trip essentials, Walmart is rolling back prices all summer long.  From now until September 9th, you can save four dollars off both Pennzoil High Mileage ($35.88) and Platinum Full Synthetic ($45.88) oil changes. That's quite a savings considering their already low prices.

With that savings I will be able to buy ANOTHER pack of playing cards and that deserves a thumbs up!

So where are you going this summer and what will you be taking along?

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


June 16, 2015

What I Want For Father's Day... Part Two

Yesterday I talked about wanting gadgets for Father's Day.  Any shiny, metallic, battery operated device will suit me just fine. I honestly don't care what it does, but I will find some use for it.  What I also want for Father's Day are clothes.  Not a tie, or one of those shirts with the kids hand prints on them, but real clothes that I could wear everyday.

I'm pretty typical when it comes to fashion.  I wear cargo shorts in the summer and jeans in the winter.  I probably should own some fancier clothes for date night, but I will let my wife buy me those.  Wouldn't it be interesting to see what the kids actually think we should wear this Father's Day  I partnered with JCPenney on their #JCPStyleByMyKid campaign to put that to the test.

While we dropped my youngest son off at Jurassic World with his buddy (let's face it, things like this are much easier with only one child around) my oldest son and I went shopping.  I had no idea what to expect or where we were going with this, but the experience could not have been any better.

I'll have to save what we bought for another post, but lets just say it's something that I can wear any day of the week... including Father's Day.

JCPenney has made it real easy to shop for dads like me this Father's Day.  You can head to the store like I did, or shop online in the comfort of your own living room, but what's the fun in that?

*I partnered with JCPenney for this #JCPStyleByMyKid campaign.  I was compensated for my time, but all opinions are my own. #ad

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


June 15, 2015

What I Want For Father's Day... Part One

I will take one of these
Like any dad, what I want for Father's Day is a gadget.  I don't care what the gadget does, but if it's something that you plug in or has a battery, chances are I will use it.  I could use anything for the grill, a new weed whacker, something related to golf, or video equipment.  If my gift has to access some satellite or a wifi signal to operate more efficiently then that's a huge bonus.

In my past life (sometimes now life) I was a television news photographer.  I love to tell stories using video.  Part of the reason that I started this blog was to continue telling stories after I became a stay at home dad.  Much like TV news was my creative outlet in the past, this blog became the place for me to express myself artistically.

While I no longer work in video for a living, that hasn't changed my passion for it.

I have never considered myself to be much of a writer.  I always thought that I was someone who captured moments and brought them to life.  Whether it's through the written word, still photos, or using video this blog has always been more than just me sharing article after article after article. I'm not a newspaper or a magazine.  To me certain stories can be told with only words, but this is a visual world and video is a necessity.

Surprisingly I don't own a fancy production style video camera.  I find them to be bulky and unnecessary most of the time. My iPhone can capture most things that I need and my GoPro is there for everything else.

You might think that the GoPro is only used to record surfing videos or skiing videos but it's not.  When my brother in law got married last year I noticed that he didn't hire a videographer to record the day, so I stepped in with my GoPro and gave him this video as a surprise gift.

Bradley and Ivan's Wedding from John Willey on Vimeo.

Needless to say, everyone cried... which is kind of the point to these types of videos isn't it?

At the time that I shot this video, I was kind of shooting it blind.  My older model GoPro isn't equipped with an LCD monitor like the current version is.  I was able to link it to my phone using wifi and Bluetooth and the GoPro App, but still I had to look down all the time to make sure I was recording what I wanted to.  Of course you know with the GoPro, the video is going to look awesome with it's 1080p60 video and 8mp photos.

So this Father's Day, one thing that I want is a new GoPro Hero+ LCD so I can shoot video a little easier.  I want my wife and kids to head down to Best Buy and pick up a GoPro Hero+ LCD.  Not surprisingly, the cameras are in store just in time for Father's Day.  To make things better you get a free 32GB Extreme Plus memory card valid from 6/14- 6/20.  Also you can get a $50 Best Buy gift card with the purchase of a GoPro Hero4 Silver or Hero4 Black from now until 6/20/2015.

How about it?

I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.  All opinions are my own

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?