Are you smiling to see The Emoji Movie

Have you ever thought about what the faces on your phone do in their spare time? Or what it must be like to be stuck making the same face and feeling the same emotion constantly? These are the thoughts behind Sony Animation’s The Emoji Movie, starring T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, and Patrick Stewart. The film follows Gene, a “meh” emoji who feels like he doesn’t fit in with the other residents of Textopolis because he can feel and express emotions other than his predisposed, bored “meh.” Searching for something more than the monotonous daily grind of Textopolis– and compelled to action by a bounty on his head from the villainous Smiler– Gene teams up with his friend Hi-5 to explore the rest of the phone and try to find the hacker Jailbreak, the only one who can help them defeat Smiler.

Gene’s journey takes him through some very familiar territory to anyone with a smartphone, as the movie shows us an Emoji-eye view of apps like Candy Crush, YouTube, Spotify, Just Dance, and Dropbox. There’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy here, as kids will love seeing their favorite apps come to life in a fresh way, while parents can appreciate the humor about the internet and its users. Cleverly-crafted sight gags and puns abound as well, and should elicit more than a few lighthearted chuckles.

While the movie is a lot of fun, it also has heart– and a great message for kids growing up in the internet age. Through the struggles and successes of Gene, Hi-5, and Jailbreak, kids watching The Emoji Movie learn that there are more important things in life than being popular or being the person that everyone else wants you to be. It’s okay– good, in fact– to be who you are and not try to pretend to be anything else in order to be “cool.” Your true friends are the people who love you for who you really are.

Make sure to check out The Emoji Movie in theaters on July 28th!

WowWee Minion MiP – Turbo Dave zooms into your home!

The minion craze is alive and well in our house as the release of Despicable Me 3 opened a few weeks back.  Of course the kids want every toy they see that features the cute yellow guys… but one really stood out to me.  The WowWee Minion MiP, I’ve long been a fan of the MiP toys and seeing our favorite lovable minion in the drivers seat is awesome.

Turbo Dave will make you laugh with over 140 comedic responses to sound and touch.

Download the Turbo Dave App in order to control your Minion remotely, plan paths for him to self-navigate, interact with other characters or props from the Despicable Me franchise, and even have a fart gun battle with another Minion MiP! Also included is a block-based coding platform for educational programming fun.

Thats right you can customize your Minion’s reactions to different physical inputs with the bonus block-based coding platform… which is great for most kids over 6.  Kids under 6 will love to play with the cool GestureSense technology in the toy.

Minion MiP Turbo Dave features the following:

  • Self Balancing Robot
  • GestureSense Technology – control MiP with hand gestures, claps and touches
  • Sound Detection – allows Turbo Dave to respond to the world around him
  • Touch Sensors – allows Turbo Dave to respond to your touch
  • Gyroscope/Accelerometer – measure g-force and orientation so MiP knows when it is being picked up.
  • Over 140+ original sounds and phrases from the Despicable Me franchise
  • Features a block-based coding platform for educational gameplay
  • Bonus app features 6 additional games: Fart Blaster battles, STEM coding and more–

Suggested retail: $79.99 on sale NOW at all the major retailers. [amazon]

Breakfast Bonding Reminds Me It’s #TheLittleThings That Matter Most

Editor’s Note: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Entenmann’s® Little Bites® for this campaign, but the story and thoughts are my own.

I want to share my typical mornings with you.

I’m the one always dealing with morning rush to get out of the house and get the kids to school… so I have just a few moments to think about getting a breakfast together, but typically my son doesn’t want more than a snack. Therefore, I’m always looking for convenient breakfast snack solutions that’ll work every day. Entenmann’s® Little Bites® muffins pack the perfect portion that will be sure to keep us smiling together, and him awake for class.

These delicious baked muffins are made with real ingredients like blueberries, banana and cocoa, with zero Grams of trans fat and no high fructose corn syrup. Also once in a while they’ll run Seasonal flavors like the new Chocolate Party Cakes, which have been a big hit in my house. I also really LOVE the Strawberry Yogurt ones so much – I was eating them for breakfast on the subway. They were originally part of the Seasonal Favorites line and have been recently introduced to the everyday lineup! There are more than 10 varieties, there’s a flavor to fit every snacking occasion. And for members of the tribe, they’re certified Kosher.

Best part, I can easily grab a pouch or two and toss it into my bag for the kids when we go out for the day. Most varieties are 200 calories or less per pouch, so I can feel good about what we’re eating.

As the school year ends, I think back over the year of 3rd grade that my son just completed. We spent many (and I mean many) mornings talking about what his day had in store for him over those Little Bites muffins. It has become part of our breakfast ritual, I guess. Whether I was eating Little Bites with him, or watching him eat them as I rushed to get dressed, it was these little moments that shape our memories together. From talking about the latest math problems he was learning or some tidbit of New York City history that I either never knew or more than likely forgot. It was those moments getting him out the door and walking to school that I’ll cherish.

Of course when the weekend rolls around my daughter Harper would want to be just like her big brother and eat a pouch or two. I was more than happy to give her some Blueberry Muffins and sit and watch Saturday morning cartoons with her before the rest of the family was up.

Just remember it’s about the little things in life, those little moments we get to create with our kids.

Share your favorite fatherhood moment with a picture in the comments below for a shot at winning a $250 VISA Gift Card from Entenmann’s and Life of Dad.

TO ENTER (must do all):

Like Life of Dad and Little Bites on Facebook.
Share a photo of your favorite fatherhood moment.
Use #TheLittleThings in your post.

The Beat Bugs jam on Netflix

Beat Bugs is an Emmy award winning animated kids series created by Josh Wakely featuring music inspired by The Beatles. Currently a hit on Netflix, the story revolves around the lives of five best friends, charming and funny childlike bugs who explore and learn in their suburban backyard home. Each episode ties in a song made famous by The Beatles in an innocent and child-friendly fashion, sung by one of the characters or guest stars that include mega musicians like P!nk, Sia, Jennifer Hudson, Rod Stewart and more. Beat Bugs introduces a new generation to the music of the most influential band in rock history, The Beatles!

Beat Bugs and My Gym have struck a chord to activate a musically-inspired promotion at 178 My Gym locations in United States, United Kingdom and Australia this summer. In the months of June and July, children who attend classes at My Gym will enjoy Beat Bugs music, games and other fun activities, including coloring sheets and puppet shows.

 

 

 

Updated 7/13/17 check out this great behind the scenes look at the show…

 

Every time a baby is born, a dad is born… #ThanksBaby

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion.

When a baby is born, a dad is born. This Father’s Day, Pampers celebrates that incredible feeling little ones bring to the hearts of dads through unconditional love.

I think I’m a pretty good dad… I try to gut check things but while there are books written on being a dad, its still all gut. Without Suzanne in my corner, I’m really not sure I’d be half the dad I am today without her loving support.  First Suzanne gave me the best gift in the world of be coming a dad… Here are the first shots from the hospital bed of Marc being held by Suzanne after he was born.

I wasnt always a comfortable in those first few weeks… I’m not sure many first time dads are comfortable. I remember the bris, first I was a nervous wreck… dozens of friends and family members in a room celebrating the birth of my son and well the actions that are done during a bris. Suzanne was nervous (maybe the only one more so than me)… but she was a champ… me on the other hand I didnt have a clue… I got to take the first photo of four generations, my son, my father, and my grandfather in a photo.  Since this photo was taken my grandfather has passed on, but thankfully he was able to see me grow into the man I am today… see his 3 great grandchildren and know that Marc got to know him.

Fatherhood is a journey… hopefully you grow and learn things about yourself, about the world around you, maybe when it comes time for homework maybe a new trick or two (if you have any for common core – I’m all ears)….

On this father’s day remember… we all were nervous, we all made mistakes, we all have stuff to deal with… but on this one day of the year hopefully you can block some of that out and just enjoy being a dad. Cause the time really does fly… in a blink of a year its almost been 9 years.

 

Pampers has released a new #ThanksBaby video that captures the amazing relationship that is created between a dad and his baby when a baby is born and the beautiful journey of fatherhood begins.

Pampers honors dads for just being dads and thanks them for all the amazing things, big and small, they do to help little ones have a better, loving, more fulfilling life.

Please join us by tweeting why you are most thankful for baby with the hashtag #ThanksBaby.

For more than 50 years, moms and dads have trusted Pampers to care for their babies’ happy, healthy development. Pampers offers a complete range of diapers, wipes and training pants designed to provide protection and comfort for every stage.

Visit www.pampers.com to learn more about Pampers products, join the Pampers Rewards program, and find ideas and information to help your baby get the most out of love, sleep and play.

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

GameStop Father’s day gift guide 2017

With Father’s day quickly approaching I know there are a bunch of people trying to figure out what to get dad… so here’s a round up of gifts from GameStop that almost any gamer or comic book loving dad would enjoy.

Our Pennsylvania adventure was EPIC and there is sooo much more to do in Pennsylvania

This post was written by me through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of Visit PA. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Right before we left on our great Pennsylvania adventure I made a blog post about our 5 stops.  Once we got on the road we headed to Gettysburg.  It took only 3.5 hours from New York City to pull into the hotel in Gettysburg.  The hotel lobby even had a giant civil war cannon in the lobby, so clearly this place all about the history. After settling into the hotel, we headed to town to check out the local eats.  There are two recommend restaurants/pubs right in the middle of town… the meal was totally enjoyable walking around the rotary circle you could see how pretty much all the buildings were from the 1800’s and some had plates describing their historical importance.

The next morning we headed to the Land of Little Horses, I HIGHLY recommend visiting this place if you have little kids. They run a schedule of events, by the time we arrived we had missed the Tricks (which I hear is the highlight of the day)… but we ended up getting there in time for brush time, which I gotta say was even better for my daughter Harper who loved brushing the horses. In speaking with the nice ladies that ran the admission/gift shop area – you should check groupon as they from time to time offer discounted admission.  They also offer food to feed the animals, which was $5 and worth it.  Seeing the kids faces light up as the horses, goats and sheep loved to eat it.

Here are some more photos from our visit of the Land of Little Horses…

 

 

 

 

 

For our next stop we headed over to the Harley Davidson Factory tour in York PA… It was just over an hour drive to get there (with a fair bit of traffic), There are two types of tours a paid for tour that includes going on the factory floor (but you need to be older then 12 years old) and a free area which shows the step by step process of how a Harley Davidson Motorcycle is made…. Needless to say the kids totally had fun hamming it up on the bikes that were on displayed.

 

After that we drove another 15 minutes to the Haines Shoe House.  Tours of the shoe only cost $5 and tell the story of how the house came to be and while its not an official landmark its become a landmark to all the locals.  The best part is there is now an ice cream shop at the base of the shoe. While there make sure you say Hi to Melanie the new owners of the shoe house.

 

After that we spent night in Intercourse, PA which is like the heart of Amish country, the people who made farm to table a thing in some way shape or form.  For the kids it was really interesting to see how a group of people live unlike anyone they’ve known.  To see cars driving next to horse and buggies as actual modes of transportation, unlike the little rides around central park was fascinating to my son.

 

Then it was time to head to the Strasburg Rail Road, one of the oldest running steam rail roads in the country. We opted to purchase tickets for the dinning car… which is one of the only cars you are allowed food in (also on most days you need to make a reservation in advance for that car but since it was a bit of rainy day we lucked out).  Although the ride was only 9 miles long, it still was an adventure for the kids and they loved it.

 

After that we headed to Philadelphia to see the Spruce Street Harbor Park, which was awesome…. there was giant games for the kids to play, hammocks to swing in and a floating dock bar for the adults to play around and party in at night.  Theres a major schedule of events and concerts… so I know next time we’ll need to plan some lounging time there. Then we walked just two blocks over to see different parts of “old town” which has buildings dating back to the 1700’s… as we walked thru old town we ended up having Pizza at Pizzera Stella (which was amazing)… I wanted Philly Cheese Steaks but got out voted.

 

We awake mother’s day with the ability to do 1 last thing… I left it up to my wife and she wanted to do the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia museum of the arts. So we climbed the steps (and trust me we werent alone in that mission)… got to the top and started to ask where they moved the statue of rocky (PS. its now the right of the steps, when you’re looking up at the steps.) We then walked down Benjamin Franklin Highway to capture an amazing shot of my wife and kids and see the Rodin Museum for a bit before it was time to call it a trip and head back to New York.

I’m sooo glad we had a list of Things to do in Pennsylvania cause some of these things we would never had done if we planned the trip ourselves.  Sure we’ve done Great Wolf Lodge and Sesame Place but never would have had some of these activities on my list.  Also when you look at the Pennsylvania map, its massive almost like really thats a big state but there are soooo many different stories throughout the state – it makes for a great trip.  Who knows maybe next time we’ll try camping in PA, but more than likely we’ll do Hershey’s Chocolate World and Crayola factory on our next visits.

 

The Home Depot ProSpective

The Home Depot ProSpective event April 25-27, Atlanta Georgia

When you think of Home Depot you may think of aisles of lumber, or you may visualize the endless varieties of flowers and plants, or perhaps you think about the options they supply to upgrade that kitchen or bathroom.  No matter what you initially think of, the one thing everyone knows is that Home Depot is the place to buy any tool you could need for your project.  Last month I had the honor of being invited to the inaugural ProSpective event hosted by Home Depot in their hometown of Atlanta Georgia.  This was a three-day event where a group of bloggers, podcasters, TV hosts, and industry professionals were given a tour of the Customer Support Center (they don’t call it Headquarters), given a one-on-one experience with various tool manufacturers, and lastly, provided the opportunity to help Team Depot in giving back to the community.  It was a busy three days full of information and hospitality.  I came away with a better understanding of how Home Depot operates, how they treat their employees, and how deeply they care about their customers and the community.

Day One – The Tour

After arriving at the hotel and settling in, we boarded tour buses and headed to the Support Center.  This is a huge 4 building complex, 3 of which are attached by a lower level aisle known as “Main Street”.  Entering the main entrance, there is no question of where you are.  The famous orange and white logo is prominently displayed as you walk in.  All along the walls you find images not focused on the company and its accomplishments, but instead everything seems focused on the people who work for the company (The Associates) or the customers, or the various ways they give back.  Once we were cleared through security and began the tour we started to understand really how large the place is.  Capable of holding 6000 associates if completely staffed, they have their own Starbucks –  the busiest in the area, a CVS with an on site nurse, company store, multiple eating establishments, company museum, and a full service gym as large and well equipped as any I’ve ever seen.  One item that I noted was just how clean everything is.  With all the people who traverse the halls you would understand and even expect a certain level of soiling just from the foot traffic, but this place is nearly spotless.  Of course they have all the departments you’d expect to find: HR, Accounting, Legal, etc., but what you won’t find everywhere is a quality and engineering laboratory.  There are over 12000 different items on the shelves and at some point they all get tested for strength, durability, quality, and materials.  Not only is the hardware examined, but even the packaging is tested for durability and the ability to keep the contents safe under extreme conditions.  It’s good to know that the tools are tested to 2x and 3x the rated strength to make sure that when used they won’t fail on you when under stress.

 Day Two – The Experience

The next morning we boarded buses which took us to the Ambient Plus Studio.  There we were to have the opportunity to speak directly with many of the tool manufacturers and suppliers.  The studio was configured so that each vendor, Husky, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Dremel, Makita, Rigid, Bosch, and more, had dedicated space to talk about and demonstrate their various product offerings.  Some were focused on the professionals, others more on the DIY home user. No matter who we spoke to though, it was clear that there is an excitement and passion for what they make.  What became apparent as we visited each location was that even the most common of tools can continue to be engineered and improved upon.  In the case of Milwaukee, they wondered why use metal in a tape measure that can bend? Instead they use a combination of materials that provide strength and flexibility.  If a spool takes a long time to be recovered, instead of direct drive use a gear to double or triple the return rate with the same effort.  Some of the biggest improvements seem to be in the portable and battery operated segment.  All of the vendors are now offering products that hold a charge for a longer time, yet take less time to recharge. Ryobi in particular seems to have dedicated much of their attention to this focus.  They now offer a complete line of small, but powerful, tools that all use the One+ battery system. Drills, lights, sanders, saws, blowers, routers, speakers, even a garage door opener and more. All powered by the same platform.  The other theme many of the vendors are embracing is app connectivity.  More and more options are being made available to control or monitor tool operations and locations via your mobile device.  Of all the locations, my personal favorite was the Husky Tools exhibit.  They specialize in hand tools of all types.  What really impressed me about their products was the amount of testing the tools are put through before being approved.  It’s what allows them to offer a full lifetime warranty on all tools.  I watched them freeze flashlights in a bucket of water for days, smash them against a brick wall, bend wrenches under extreme pressure, but nothing broke.  I left the session with a deeper understanding of what goes into the design and development of both hand and power tools.

The second half of the day we were treated by our hosts to a private rooftop party at Skyline Park in Park City Market.  The best description that I can come up with of this venue is that of a miniature Coney Island.  There’s a boardwalk with the standard games, 18 hole miniputt golf, slides and rides.  The food and drinks were all fantastic.  To top it off there was a beautiful view of the Atlanta skyline.  This is what southern hospitality is all about!

Day three – The Community

One of the ongoing themes which was continually addressed during our visit was that of how Home Depot attempts to give back to the community.  Our final day was scheduled to give us the chance to see this in person and even actively take part in the process.  Team Depot is the volunteer group within Home Depot that exists specifically to assist veterans and their families in need around the country.  The original plan was for us to work outside, using some of the tools we had seen the day before to help frame and build housing for some local veterans.  Unfortunately mother nature had other ideas and there were storms in the area.  Instead, we were given the opportunity to work indoors at the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta.  This organization collects lightly used furniture, freshens it up, and then makes it available to those in need.  This may be a family on hard times, or someone coming out of homelessness and needing to furnish their new residence.  They also receive donations of new pre-fab furniture to be assembled and distributed as needed.  Our assigned task for the morning was to build kitchen tables, dressers, and coffee tables.  As mentioned earlier, we had people of various technical and tool experience levels.  Some were comfortable grabbing a nail gun to assemble legs, others felt better with a screwdriver, but we formed up small teams and went to work.  The warehouse itself is a fairly large area, and while we were on one side assembling the furniture, there were clients being escorted around the other side picking items that they liked and making the delivery arrangements.  We were only there for a few hours, but all told we built over 60 pieces in total.  As our guide explained to us, the need is great and most likely all the items would be distributed by the end of the weekend.  It was already Thursday.  As we grabbed our box lunches and headed to the buses for the ride to the hotel for the last time this trip, everyone commented on how much thought and care the staff put into servicing their clients.  There was a noted respect for their privacy and an honest sense that they really cared for the people they helped.  We were happy to have been able to do what we could, even for such a short time.

 

The time spent as a guest of The Home Depot was more than just a tour.  They provided a deeper understanding of how the company works, and what their core values really are.  They are more than just a tool and home improvement supplier, they are a company committed to their communities across the country.  The next day I needed to visit my local store, and as I walked through the doors and was greeted by an associate, I think I may have given her a little more of a smile in return.  Off to the paint aisle!

 

Who's the bigger baby?!