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?


June 16, 2016

To the Man Behind the Door

I know that you are scared.

You have no idea what is going to happen on the other side of that door. The world as you know it is about to change. You think life is moving pretty fast now, but as soon as those doors open up, it's going to get exponentially faster.

I know why you are crying.

You aren't sure if you are ready for this.  Trust me, nobody really is. The door that sits in front of you is like a portal to the unknown.  It's a whole different universe; filled with sleepless nights and hours upon hours of worry. You will worry if you are good enough. You will worry if you are doing enough.  You will worry that you worry too much.

I know what you can expect because I sat in that same seat.

I was you.  I was the guy that really wasn't into your wife's pregnancy that much.  I was the type that needed it to be over and have the baby arrive before I showed any sort of emotion.  Nothing was real until I heard a tiny baby cry and the doctors yell out, "It's a boy!" That's when it hit me; it was no longer just about me.

I know what you are feeling.

What if I'm not a good dad? What if I yell a lot? What if the baby cries? What if they hate sports? What if they hate me? All of that will happen and more.  There will be so many emotions that hit you as a parent that you didn't even know you had. You will cry when your baby takes his first steps, you will cry when your baby scores their first soccer goal, you will cry when you drop off your baby for the last day of preschool. The point is, you will cry all the time.

And that's OK.

I will leave you with one bit of advice before I leave.  None of us really have any idea what we are doing.  None of us are experts. We're all in the same boat. Just go through those doors and be there.  Be there for your kid.  When they need you... BE THERE.

Go through those doors and thank your baby for the man you are about to become.

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DISCLOSURE: I partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers on this promotion.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


June 9, 2016

Somewhere a Garden Grows

I've come to realize something as I've gotten older; I can build things with the best of them, but I can't grow things to save my life.  If I had to rely on my gardening skills to feed my family, we'd all be dead in about a week's time. I'm a big fan of the grocery store though where I can walk in, pick up some produce, then go home and cook it.  I've never had the patience to wait for MONTHS while food grew in my back yard.

My parents are gardeners.

Since I was little they have always had a garden.  Some years the garden grew great, others not so well.  When you are growing your own food you really have to rely on Mother Nature for everything.  Too much rain and your crops won't grow, too little rain and your crops won't grow either, throw in some pests like squirrels and rabbits and you wonder how any of us have any food to eat.

My kids love the idea of having a garden.  We used to go to my parents house every Memorial Day weekend to help them get their garden growing, then come back at the end of the summer and be amazed at how much everything grew.  The garden even got them to start eating vegetables... well some anyway.

I've tried my hand at gardening on my back deck.  I ran into a few problems with that though. I had so little space that the only thing I could grow was cherry tomatoes and peppers... neither of which we really eat. Also I would always forget to water everything leaving everything a dead rotting mess. If I am going to actually try my hand at gardening, I need to go bigger.  The problem is that my yard really wasn't big enough to do so.

Fortunately (but not fortunately) my kid's playset rotted to the ground last year and that opened up some space for us to finally put a garden in.

I figured something like this would cost around $500 after all was said and done, but just think... my vegetables would be worth way more than that.  I can't tell you how many trips to Lowe's I made.  I seriously lost count because as I was building my raised garden I would think about something else that I wanted to add to it. 


After I built the boxes, of course I had to fill them with dirt.  After I filled them with dirt, I had to build a fence to keep out the animals.  After I built a fence, I had to construct a gate.  After I constructed a gate, I had to add irrigation.  Needless to say I spent more time at Lowe's looking for supplies than I did at home actually building this thing. But why not spend time there?  It's like a toy department for grown ups, and with Father's Day coming up, perhaps I can come up with some gift ideas.

I actually built the gate out of our kids' old play-set and it's probably the thing I like most about our garden.  I'm thinking about creating an accent wall in our house with wood now, it looks very cool.

I'd like to say that my kids jumped in and helped me build this thing, but they didn't.  I'm not quite ready for them to be using the power tools that were necessary to build this, but I'm sure that time will come.   They did however help me plant the garden, which was the point of this whole thing anyway. For me, the process of building this wasn't about spending time with my kids... it was about building something that we could share together later on.

So it's not quite my parents garden, but it IS our garden. We might not grow enough vegetables to last us the winter like they do, or even grow anything at all.  But maybe one day my kids will bring THEIR kids to my house to help me plant it. 

Whether anything survives after that point we will have to wait and find out.

What are you growing your garden?

To find out more about Lowes and their #DadTime campaign, visit Lowe's on the web

DISCLOSURE: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Lowe's on this promotion.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 17, 2016

I am the King of Rest, But That's Not a Good Thing

A solid sleep schedule is something that I gave up a long time ago.

As soon as we gave birth to our first son, I pretty much gave up on my health and well being to focus on his.  For years I had been working at a job where I didn't have a set shift.  The only constant were my days off, but my schedule would change from day to day.  There were times that I would work at 3:00 in the morning and others where I would work at 3:00 in the afternoon.  With a newborn and a wife that works we decided that we needed consistency.  We couldn't go week to week with an unknown schedule and try to juggle childcare around it.

I approached my bosses about me working the early morning shift.

I began working steadily at 2:00 in the morning shortly thereafter. The idea being that I would be home around 11:00 to take our son from our nanny who would be there in the morning while my wife went to work.  The timing worked great and our son wouldn't be stuck being raised by other people.  The only problem was I was tired ALL THE TIME.  My first son was not a very good sleeper so getting him to take naps when I got home didn't always happen.  That left me exhausted and miserable.

I thought at first that the early morning shifts would allow me to spend time with my family in the evenings, and they did... until 9:00 when I had to force myself to go to bed.  Once in bed, I would usually toss and turn and fall asleep seemingly right before my alarm went off at 1:00.  I'd drag myself out of bed and spend the next eight hours at work in a semi-conscious state.  I'm not going to lie, there were a lot of times that I fell asleep at work and in some pretty bad places.

I remember one time I was sent to the river to capture beauty shots for our live television show.  I can honestly say that I set the camera up and fell asleep for the next two hours.  I would have my equipment all rigged up so that nobody could steal it without waking me up.  All of us who worked the morning shift had our little hacks that got us through the day.

Two years after our son was born, we had another kid and sleep was basically something that I would do when I died.  I was able to manage OK with my first, but with two I was falling asleep everywhere.  Afternoons with two kids at home meant me falling asleep on the floor with them playing around me.  I was really of no use them.  I would take them to the park and the same thing would happen.  Something had to give.

Falling asleep at the park was probably not the safest thing

That's when I became a stay at home dad.

It's been a lot better since that decision, but if you have kids you seem to get tired all the time regardless of how much sleep you got the night before.  I swear nowadays I could sleep for 24 hours, but be physically and emotionally exhausted after spending even an hour with my kids.  I don't know what they do to our bodies, but they seem to drain the life out of us.  Now I get catnaps wherever I can.

It could be before my son's football game

Or between innings
The one thing I have learned in the past 11 years of being a parent is that if you have the chance to get some zzz's DO IT. My in-laws are great at this sort of thing and learned this years ago. They have an amazing ability to be having a conversation and two minutes later be sound asleep. I'm afraid to ride in a car with them as I never know if they are going to doze off at a red light. Movies, shows, roller coasters... you name it, they have slept there. I am well on my to doing this as well.

The worst thing about all of this is that the kids have started to pick up some bad habits too. We have never really been that strict about bedtimes especially as they get older. What used to be 9:00 has turned into whenever, as long as they are in bed at some point. They do need to know that healthy sleep is a lifestyle choice. Much like a healthy diet and exercise are important, so too are good sleeping habits. Everything in their lives are powered by sleep. Those meltdowns they have... go away with a good nights sleep. Illnesses... a little rest is sometimes the best cure. Feeling stressed... take a nap (ha!)

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DISCLOSURE: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Restonic for this promotion.  All opinions are my own unless my wife tells me otherwise.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 3, 2016

Mother's Day Shopping Made Easy

Mother's Day is always one of those days that seem to jump up on you.  It's the same time every year, but you always seem to forget about it until the last second.  I think it has to do with the fact that you think it can't be May already because Christmas seemed like just yesterday.

I've been pretty good in the past with getting my wife something that she would enjoy.  I usually make her a photo album of the previous year and write a poem around it, trying the best I can to match the photos with the words. It's not always easy, and the pressure starts to mount as Mother's Day fast approaches.  Some years I wait until the last possible day to finish it and I end up paying a ridiculous fee to have the whole thing expedited.

This year I got it done early... or so I think.  The book has yet to arrive and as Mother's Day gets nearer I will start to sweat it out.  I wish there was a way that I could order it online and then pick it up on my own later that day.  But alas, creativity takes a while.

I am a big fan of online shopping, but I also don't like waiting for things to arrive.  Sometimes I will keep refreshing a web page to see if my items have shipped.  And then when they are shipped, I refresh the page again to see the item's progress.  It's so annoying.  Two whole days for something that I really wanted that instant?  It might as well be a lifetime.  I wonder where my kids get their impatience from.

I know that I am not alone in waiting until that last minute.  According to my own personal polls, 93% of all men wait until the morning of Mother's Day to get their wives and mothers a gift.  Have you ever seen the card aisle at the drug store on the morning of Mother's Day?  It's a bunch of sad looking men trying to figure out how to make "Get Well Soon" cards sound like they were meant for Mother's Day.

But I found out that there IS another option! Enter Sears and their "Buy Online, Pick Up in Store" option.

My wife is a hard working woman who travels often.  She has a carry-on suitcase that she uses, but it's just big enough that sometimes it's NOT a carry-on, so she needs a slightly smaller suitcase so she doesn't have to check anything at the airport.  When you are constantly flying to a different city for a meeting, the last thing you want to be doing is waiting at baggage claim for you luggage to arrive, or worse have the airline lose your bag and you have to go to a meeting in your yoga pants.

I logged on to to see if they had what I was looking for and fortunately they did.  I had a few different stores that I could choose from.  Being from New Jersey, every town has it's own mall.  You can't go more than 10 miles without finding a Sears around here.  I picked the store that had the suitcase in stock and when I checked out I chose the In Store Pickup option. I went out to run some errands and waited for Sears to text me to let me know that the item was ready.  When it was, I headed to the store and logged into their mobile app.

I pulled into my own VIP parking spot and let Sears know through the app that I was outside waiting and the clock was ticking.  Within two minutes a man walked outside with my wife's new suitcase and I was on my way.  It's a perfect service when you have the kids in tow and the last thing you want to do is interrupt their 53rd viewing of some stupid YouTube video to walk inside a store.  This couldn't be easier.  And bonus for you, if you use the service between May 3rd and May 7th, you are automatically entered to win a $5000 Sears gift card.  That is a lot of luggage.

Find a great gift for your wife or mom this year at  They have gifts for all types of moms:
  • The Fashionable Mom: Apparel, footwear, accessories, beauty and fragrances
  • The Outdoor Mom: Patio decor & furniture, lawn & garden equipment, bikes, swimwear, sandals, luggage, digital cameras and camping gear
  • The Fitness-Focused Mom: Activewear, fitness equipment, headphones, juicer/small kitchen appliances.
  • Master Chef Mom: Kemore appliances, cookware, plateware, cutlery and more
  • The Techie Mom: Smart technology, tablets, cameras, TV’s and more.
It's nice to be done shopping now and not have to wait for something to arrive in the mail.  The pressure is off now... I just hope my wife likes her gift.

DISCLOSURE:  I have partnered with Life of Dad and Sears for this promotion.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


April 4, 2016

The Road Always Leads to Somewhere

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Kia for this promotion.

"Is this a road?" My wife asked?

"I'm not sure," I replied. "The GPS says it is so I'm going with it."

In the back of my mind I thought this was some kind of joke and that this "road" was leading us to somewhere that would certainly lead to our death. I've seen these roads before. They are usually named after the one legged hillbilly with the moonshine still and the collection of shotguns that lives at the end of it.  Only this time we were in rural Cornwall in Southwest England.

The roads in England had been tight up to that point; mainly wide enough for two cars to slowly pass each other, but this road wasn't even wide enough for our ONE car. The thicket of shrubbery was scratching at the side our vehicle and with every passing mile I could only think that I should have purchased insurance on our rental car. I had been on some harrowing roads in Italy and France, but these were unlike anything that I have ever seen.

“Be careful going around that corner,” my wife warned.

“Which one?” I wondered.  “The whole road is one big corner.”

Not having seen a car in what seemed like an hour, I really began to wonder where the hell we were going and why nobody else was following us.  Looking at the map, you could see that there was a town somewhere ahead and the Celtic Sea was no more than a stones throw from our car window.  The only problem though was that we couldn’t see it.

When we are in a new place, we are not ones to take the highway.  We didn’t travel to Cornwall to see a road like we could at home.  The idea is to explore; to see the sights that you would never get to see otherwise.  Here were were on a road that seemed like it would do just that, but the road was so small and the shrubs were so high that our lasting memory was of the road ahead of us and the bushes above us swallowing our little vehicle.

We didn’t regret taking the road to nowhere because in the end every road leads to somewhere.  Sometimes in order to see things that you wouldn’t normally see, you have to go places that people don’t normally go.  In our case, the payoff was huge.

Not every road is going to lead you some place amazing, so you might as well make the ride there as comfortable as possible.  The Kia Sportage is the type of vehicle that is small enough to fit on the tiniest of roads, but also large enough to make the ride to your destination one that you will enjoy.  Wherever the road leads you, ride there in style.

I was fortunate to ride around Washington DC in a Kia during the Dad 2.0 Summit.  I love what they are doing to celebrate dads as everyday heroes.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


March 8, 2016

If Only I had a Smarter Car

Not sure how this car was supposed to make it to Long Island
I'm not sure where we were, but I do know that we were far from home.  I could sense something was wrong with my car, but not being a mechanic, I wasn't sure exactly. The check engine light had been on for the past 100 miles and the engine temperature gauge was entering the dangerous zone.  I'm not quite sure what would happen to my car, but not being anywhere familiar, my buddy Sal and I had no choice but to press on.

My friend Joe was turning 21 that night in Long Island and there was no way that we were going to miss it.  Here we were though somewhere in New Jersey with a car that was seriously overheating with no idea how much longer it would last.  It was one of those things where we would just take it mile by mile and hope for the best.

I have two fears when driving; that my car will break down in the middle of nowhere or it will break down in the middle of a city.  We weren't in the middle of Kansas and with New York City on the horizon, my second fear was likely to come true.  We approached the toll plaza to the George Washington Bridge when everything that could happen, did. Smoke began billowing out of the air vents and from underneath the hood.  My car was going to explode and leave me and my buddy dead in the middle of the George Washington Bridge... in rush hour traffic no less.

I was about to be THAT car that shut down a lane of traffic causing a backup on the busiest thoroughfare in the Tri-State Area.  Fortunately though my car didn't explode and we managed to make our way to the Bronx.  This was not the 2015 South Bronx, but rather the 1996 version where two flannel wearing Upstate New Yorkers were completely out of their element in more ways than one.  We managed to find a garage, or so it looked like a garage, it was most likely a chop shop where they took stolen cars, chopped them up, and sold off the parts.  It wasn't the ideal place to stop, but we had no choice.

A big burly black man approached our car with an equally big bucket of water.  He lifted the hood of the car and emptied the contents of the bucket on the overheated engine.  After a few minutes when all the steam dissipated and the engine cooled, he filled up our radiator with water and we were on our way.  I don't know if we tipped the guy or not, but I didn't want to spend any more time in this part of town so we got back on the highway as fast as we could.

We ended up making it to Long Island where we found out one of the engine hoses had a leak and needed to be replaced.  I'm still amazed that we made it to our destination and didn't end up dying somewhere along the way. Looking back I have no idea how we made it without cell phones or some other communication device.

I can't help but think how this situation would have been different had I had a device like the Hum by Verizon.  It's a small speaker that sits on your visor that connects you to an operator at the touch of a button.  You can get things like roadside assistance, emergency assistance, and they can locate your car if it's stolen.  Fortunately I haven't had to use any of those yet, but for a low monthly cost, it's good to know that it's there.  It also comes with an on-board diagnostic reader so you will always know what is going with your car. It will send maintenance reminders to your connected phone, so you never have wonder when it's time to bring your car to the garage. The Hum makes every car smarter and safer.

It's also perfect for your kids car if they decide to take a road trip to Long Island.

Hum by Verizon has been kind enough to offer one of their units in a giveaway. Please enter below.

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I was supplied a Hum by Verizon, all opinions are my own.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


February 25, 2016

The Day the Lights Went Out

I'm not exactly sure how long the Christmas lights have been hanging around my son's door. Since he got his own room after his brother was born in March of 2007, I have to assume that they have been hanging there since sometime around Christmas of that year. Aside from a couple of times when we moved burned out light bulbs around, the lights haven't been turned off or unplugged for over eight years.

Every day I would walk by his room and get a little smile on my face as it brought me back to that sweet little boy that moved into his "Mickey Mouse" room. He was so into music that I painted piano keys on the wall. He was into Buzz Lightyear, Star Wars, Cars, and all the typical things a three year old boy would love.

His likes have changed through the years. He's not so much into Disney things anymore (though he loves GOING TO Disney), music isn't his passion, Star Wars is still cool, but not in the "I want to be Anakin Skywalker" type of way. All of that has been replaced by baseball. Some of the old stuff still remains, but only because we are too lazy to go about remodeling his bedroom. He could probably use a new bed. The one he is in now is made with crappy particle board and one of the drawers underneath his bed fell apart a couple of years ago. There is a chair in there that has never been used and books pile up with no place to go.

While he has changed and some of the room has changed, the lights on the outside remained constant.

Eight years they have brought me back to the past. A time that as I get older, I long for more and more. I was just thinking this morning that my younger son no longer runs into my bedroom in the middle of the night. He used to wake up and go to the bathroom and then jump right beside me. It sucked at the time, but it sucks now that it doesn't happen anymore.

Half of the lights around my son's door shut off the other day.

Normally I would have gone in and tried to fix them. Just like replacing batteries in toys that they no longer use, I realized that perhaps it's time to move on. As much as I would like my kids to stay young forever, it's not going to happen.  I can't fix that. Who knows, maybe we will hang a new set of lights around his door, but the glow will never be the same.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


February 23, 2016

He was a...

"I never lived the dreams of the prom kings and the drama queens, I'd like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeve." - John Mayer
Have you ever thought about your own legacy? What is it that you will be remembered by? How DO you want to be remembered? I've never really given it much thought myself. I'm just a simple guy with two kids, a wife, and a dog.

A lot of how you will be remembered depends on when your story ends. If you wrote my obituary when I was 10, it would have to have said that I was a pretty good bowler, that I loved sports, and that I spent too much time watching TV. I hadn't really made an impact on anyone as of yet, except maybe my parents who I'm sure thought I was the cutest kid alive.

By the time that I graduated college I had made a little mark on society, but still nothing stood out. There were no research papers where I cured cancer, I didn't found a non-profit organization to help the less fortunate, and I certainly didn't start any sort of business that created much needed jobs for my home area of Upstate New York. I DID score the game winning basket in a high school basketball game against Mount Morris and I DID help my dorm win the Intramural title in my junior year of college, but is that something that I really want to be known for?

I couldn't really answer that question until I had a family.

It's nice to be known as a pretty decent bowler and a solid high school basketball player, but those are nothing compared to being known as a good husband and a good father. If my life is a multi-chapter book, chapter one ends when I was 25. Sure I had some really good moments, but in the movie version of my life, they would get about two minutes of screen time. The story of my life really takes off after I met my wife and our two kids came into the world.

But is that what I am going to be known for? Being a good dad and a good husband? If I died today, I would be happy if that's how my story ended. But I'm 42 years old and my story is still being written.  I could come up with a cure for cancer, I could create that non-profit, or I could build a company and create those jobs. Who knows? The one thing that I do know is that I don't want to be handed my life story and be left thinking, "That's it?" I don't want to wake up in 30 years and wonder where my life went, I need to wake up tomorrow and figure out where it's going.

He was a...  who knows?  The next chapter starts right now.


This post was inspired by a keynote speech from Brad Meltzer at the Dad2Summit that I recently attended in Washington, DC.  I went into the conference thinking about what's next and while I didn't come out with any definitive answers, there are lightbulbs going off on top of my head.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


February 4, 2016

I've Got Friends in Snowy Places

By all accounts this was going to be the storm of the century, well this season's storm of the century anyway. Bread was bought, milk was procured, and the eggs were purchased; all we had to do was sit and wait for the storm to hit.

This winter hasn't been a very harsh one here in the northeast.  We've set record highs left and right and it was 72 degrees ON CHRISTMAS EVE.  While my wife loves that kind of weather, the kids and I were longing for some snow to fall.  Up until last weekend, we had none... but that was about to change.

My oldest son Tyler swears that his favorite season is winter.  I'm not so sure that I believe him because he's always asking when baseball season starts. My other son Carter seems to be indifferent about the cold weather; he will play any sport in any type of weather.  However it always seems like we play basketball outside when the temperature is the coldest. As for myself, having grown up in Western New York, I've always had an affinity towards the cold.  Like a lot of men my age and older I can vividly remember walking uphill five miles in the snow to get to school and I liked it.

We don't get as much snow as I used to get when I was a kid.  Back then in Western New York a lot depended on which way the wind blew.  You could get four feet, while your neighbor a mile away might not even realize that it snowed.  When I was younger, the snow would fall before Halloween and last until Mother's Day. Now it snows, then it melts, then it snows, and melts again.  I'm under the feeling that if it's going to be cold outside, it might as well be snowing.

And last weekend it snowed... did it ever snow.

Twelve inches may seem like a lot, but at this point we were only half way through the storm.  It would go on snowing for another 12 hours and the storm would dump 21 inches of snow all together.  I'm not one to let the snow finish falling before I get out and clear my driveway.  I would much rather clear our seven inches three times than the entire 21 inches as once.  I'm tough, but not "clear 21 inches at once" tough.

I was sent a pack of lozenges by the folks at Fisherman's Friend and asked to take an EPIC picture.  I didn't want to fake a winter scene like Patrick Quinn did, pretend to know what snow is, like James Zahn, or never leave the house like The Thirsty Daddy. Much like Chris Burnholdt, this Winter Storm Jonas (can we stop naming these storms please) was the perfect opportunity to get out and show how tough I was.

A photo posted by @jdubs44 on

I like to call this one "The First of Many."  This was about 10:00 am and the plows had barely been through our neighborhood (which is another story).  The snow was really falling at this point; probably two inches an hour at least.  I think one of my kids was still asleep and the other was at a sleepover party in the neighborhood.  I didn't need to get out of my driveway, but I'm a guy with a snowblower... I HAD to get out of my driveway.  By the way, I took this photo myself (#SELFIE!)

The only problem with getting so much snow at once was that it made it almost impossible to sled in. We had to really wait until the next next day before we could get out and play in it.

A photo posted by @jdubs44 on

Sadly, it's only a week and a half later and all the snow has melted... but there might be more on the horizon!  Better go get bread, milk, and eggs... and Fisherman's Friend Lozenges.

Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges are the toughest on the market, originally formulated in 1865 for deep-sea fishermen from Fleetwood, England. And they are now perfect for a dad who shovels snow in New Jersey. It's good to have friends in snowy places.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?