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Crash Kids IKEA Soft Toy Designs

Posted on November 12, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

It seems that my kids have plenty of my wife in them. They absolutely adore designing just about anything. So, when IKEA announced a plush toy design contest, my kids were all in. I’m not sure how the contest works completely, but it looks like it’s based on people’s votes. So, here are each of their designs and a link to vote for them if you like their design (or even if you don’t and just want to help them win). You can vote every day if you’re bored like that. Voting ends on 11/22.

Vote for Crash Kid #1’s Animal named The Kingikea-plush-toy-crash-kid-1

Vote for Crash Kid #2’s Animal named Daisy Dodoikea-plush-toy-crash-kid-2

Vote for Crash Kid #3’s Animal named Arnoldikea-plush-toy-crash-kid-3

I imagine it’s just my skewed father eyes, but I’d actually love to see all of these as stuffed animals. They’d all be pretty fun to have.

Memories From the Past Can Come Unexpectedly

Posted on November 4, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

red-hot-chili-peppers-logoIt’s so funny how the most benign things can bring back some of the best memories.

As I was driving home tonight I switched CD’s (yes my car only has a CD player because it is old, and yes I still have CD’s because I am old) and put on one of the discs from the amazing Stadium Arcadium album by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  As I started to listen to the music I was instantly reminded of a great memory from high school.

I had a good friend named Greg that had an old white hatchback Ford with a sound system that was likely worth more than the car itself.  Greg and our other friend Sam, who now has his doctorate in music, always had impeccable taste in music and opened my eyes to some of the great artists of all different times like Prince, David Bowie, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

One of our favorite things to do on weekend nights, in particular during the winter, was to drive around with amazing music screaming through the speakers, windows down, letting in the bitter cold Utah winter air, and the heater cranked up so we wouldn’t all freeze to death.  It was nothing ground breaking, or something that I thought would be particularly memorable at the time, but as I look back now I realize that it is those moments of simple joy that bring me the most happiness and inevitably put a smile on my face.

I know this often took place without me, or with our other friends Jon, Borsos, Naysahn, Mike, Thayne, Jamison, Mark, Jason, or the occasional female like Mary Jane, Liz, Erika, or Tricia, but it honestly didn’t matter who it was.  All that mattered was that a few teenagers were together making a memory that still puts a smile on my face even 15+ years later.

The older I get the more I realize how important memories like this are for one simple reason, they are about people.  I don’t regularly talk with any of the aforementioned people, and some of them I haven’t seen since we graduated high school, but that doesn’t matter either.  What matters is that these people were an integral part of my life during one of the most important times in any person’s life.  They helped me make good choices, and the occasional bad one, but I will forever be indebted to them for helping me become the man that I am today.

I did have the opportunity to see some of these friends a few years ago and it was so fun to see how all of our lives have developed over time and how quickly we just caught right up.  Even our children became immediate friends and had a great time running around my Grandparent’s old yard making their own memories.

So, as The Red Hot Chili Peppers serenaded me on my way home, I couldn’t help but turn up the heat, roll down the windows letting the cold air in, crank up the radio, and think back on some beautifully simple memories from my past.

Shouldn’t Alexa Have Every Song?

Posted on October 11, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Today as the kids were getting ready for school my daughter asked Alexa (It’s an Amazon Echo if you don’t know who Alexa is…and it’s awesome if you don’t have one) to play a Justin Bieber song. Alexa replied that there was no Justin Bieber in our library. After hearing Alexa’s response, my 7 year old son turned to me and said, “Shouldn’t Alexa have every song?”

It’s pretty striking how quickly our perception of reality changes. My friend recently posted on Facebook the picture of a walkman and cassette tapes. What a pain in the butt it was to rewind and fast forward through the tapes to the song you wanted. Not to mention all the mix tapes that people would put together. There was a real art to doing it. I remember when CDs came about it was awesome that you could easily skip from song to song. Then, the iPod which could store so much music in such a small device.

Now my kids don’t even know what it’s like to have to buy music. They just ask Alexa to play a song and so far she’s been nearly foolproof. Who knew it would take Justin Bieber for Alexa to open my kids eyes to the fact that Alexa doesn’t have all the music in the world?

One day when driverless cars and maybe the hyperloop are a reality people will look back at our current time and wonder how we traveled so primitively. We’re pretty close to the point where light switches are unnecessary. What will our grandkids think about those odd switches on the wall?

It’s a crazy world we live in. For someone who loves technology, it’s a fascinating world of opportunities. For my kids, it’s just the status quo. That’s crazy to think about.

When Your Son Wants to Change His Name – From the Mouths of Crash Kids

Posted on October 1, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Tonight I took the time to lay down next to Crash Kid #3 (7 years old for those following along at home) and talk with him before he went off to sleep. The kid never ceases to amaze me. He’s so deliberate and thoughtful. It’s impressive.

While we were chatting, the conversation headed off in a surprising direction. It went something like this.

Crash Kid #3: Dad, at school I write my name as Micah Moo Moo. I really like that name.
Dad: Oh, that’s cool. Like on your homework or where?
Crash Kid #3: Yeah. Not on the stuff where I have to write neat or if it’s getting posted on the board. On the other stuff.
Dad: Interesting. Is your teacher ok with that?
Crash Kid #3: I don’t know…but there’s this girl in my class named Addison. On her papers she writes her name as Addie and the teacher calls her Addie instead of Addison. I write my name as Micah Moo Moo and the teacher still just calls me Micah.
Dad: (lol) Did you want the teacher to call you Micah Moo Moo?
Crash Kid #3: Yes.

There you have it. I guess Crash Kid #3 wants a name change. I did ask him if he thought the other kids would make fun of him if his name was Micah Moo Moo. He told me that they wouldn’t. He then told me he was going to write a song for me about Micah Moo Moo. Sadly the camera wasn’t rolling, but in case you were wondering it did say that Micah Moo Moo was a cow.

I told him, “Great, then we won’t have to buy any more milk.” He quickly replied, “I don’t like milk.” I guess it makes sense that Micah Moo Moo the cow wouldn’t like milk. I wonder if he’s a chocolate cow. I’ll have to ask him tomorrow.

Living the Dream in Alaska

Posted on August 23, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

No picture can ever do justice to the wonder that is Alaska.

No picture can ever do justice to the wonder that is Alaska.

Often times when someone asks me how I am doing I give the response that I am living the dream.  Oftentimes that is interpreted as a negative thing, and while sometimes that is exactly what I am trying to say, most of the time it is really just something quick to say in response than an actual indicator of how I am doing.  However, this last few weeks has been quite the opposite.

As I have mentioned in the past, by job often takes me to some pretty cool places.  As much fun as I have had in the Philippines, Thailand, and Guam, there is nothing that could really compare to my most recent adventure.  Alaska is just the perfect mix of so may of the things that I totally love.  I have literally been living the dream.

Watching the ground rush past you with another plane out in front of you is such a rush.

Watching the ground rush past you with another plane out in front of you is such a rush.

On the work side of things, the flying has been amazing.  I could do without the full day mission planning, but that is just part of the deal if you want to operate legally and safely.  It has been incredible to get back down to flying at only 300 feet above the ground at 250 knots raging through the mountains of Alaska.  I have been able to see moose and bears, and some of the most scenic views I have seen in my entire life.

Sometimes it is nice to take it slow and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes it is nice to take it slow and just enjoy the moment.

On the flip side of flying, I had the opportunity to go out and explore more of Alaska in a Cessna 172 at a much slower speed and really just enjoy the wonder that is Alaska.  It was a sort of pleasure cruise in the air with a great aviator who made the experience that much better.  As someone who just loves everything about airplanes, it was amazing to explore this dream destination with my friend Chris, who is even more passionate about aviation.

One of the most spectacular things about flying in Alaska is the massive glaciers that are all over the place.  It is truly something to behold how immense these glaciers are.  They are so dynamic in their shape and color providing the bluest blues I may have ever seen, along with huge ice cliffs, and deep, sharp valleys.  There really are not words good enough to describe how incredible they are.

There are no words for the majesty of Alaska's glaciers.

There are no words for the majesty of Alaska’s glaciers.

To cap off this dream, I had the opportunity to get in some Alaskan fishing which was really the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake.  Then I got to eat the cake, because what good is cake if you can’t eat it?  My first day down at the confluence of the Kenai River and Russian River started out great grabbing a couple of sockeye salmon for the first time, and then a couple of trout.  Unfortunately, one of those trout snapped my brand new rod and my day was pretty much over.

With an opportunity to see the silver lining on a very, very dark cloud, we were delayed from returning to our families (which totally sucked) I was able to make another trip down to the river with a much more amazing experience.  Having already literally snagged a few salmon, I returned to my favorite pastime and went after some trout.

Few things are more serene than a fly fisherman executing his craft.

Few things are more serene than a fly fisherman executing his craft.

It started out a little rough losing the first few through poor execution on my part.  Thanks to a couple of crucial tips from my fishing partners, I was able to start landing some gorgeous rainbow trout and dolly vardens.  I felt like a little kid reeling in the biggest fish that I have ever caught in my life.  There are few things more beautiful than a stunningly colored rainbow trout in the midst of a the majestically forested Alaskan mountains.

In recent months I have come to realize how much more important pursuing my dreams and having experiences is when compared with having things or other status.  That is why this trip to Alaska will always be one of my fondest memories.  I don’t know that I have ever been more honest than right now when I say I was living the dream.

Getting Fat…Must Run

Posted on July 20, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

What can I say? Everyone always told me my metabolism would catch up to me and it has. Gone are the days of gorging myself and not worrying about my weight. This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a slow creep and I’ve seen it coming.

As a kid I always justified that I was the active kid that took the stairs, played sports, and could eat anything. Although, that’s not totally true. I always liked to say that I was someone who ate to live instead of living to eat. That’s still true to some extent, but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned my food vices. Sometimes I wish I was poor and couldn’t afford the foods I liked. I’m sure this is screwed up thinking, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be gaining weight if I only had Ramen in the pantry. On second thought, nah…I love my chocolate ice cream.

Seriously though, I’ve become addicted to food. I just feel like I need to keep stuffing my face. I’d never felt that before, but I feel it now. It sure makes for a new battle for me. Somewhere in life I decided that it was never ok for me to feel hunger. How screwed up is that? I don’t think we should starve ourselves, but how pampered am I that I feel like I need to eat so much that I never feel hungry.

I think in the past I’ve largely made up for it by playing sports. I’d still play sports every day of the week if possible. The problem is that life’s gotten too busy and the body is breaking down more and so I’m not playing sport as much. Combine the loss of exercise and increase in food consumption and I’m losing the battle of the bulge.

That’s more than you wanted to know about me, but I felt like I had to share my battle. I’m sure some will say that I have nothing to worry about and that’s exactly why I’m worried. I’m not enormous, but I don’t want to be enormous. I can still do pretty much everything, but I could stand to lose 25 lbs and my body would be much happier. Better to start now before it’s too overwhelming.

Tonight I started the battle. I went out for a run to workout for the first time ever in my life. For the last 6 months I knew this day was coming. I couldn’t just play ultimate frisbee and call it a day. I had to do something more.

I’d certainly run playing many sports. I’ve even randomly run various 5k and 10k events throughout my life, but I’d never really trained or run “for fun” or “for fitness.” I’m still processing the experience. More on that in a future post.

At least today I’ve won. That feels good. I’ll keep you updated on my progress and feel free to hold me accountable. Why else would I have shared all this on my blog? Now I have to follow through or else…

Things That Make a Daddy Cry

Posted on June 19, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

It is Father’s Day here in Japan, and by the time most of you read this it will be Father’s Day in the US as well. So first let me say thank you to all of the Fathers in my life.

I can’t begin to list the amazing men that have influenced me since I was very little. Each of them helped form me into the father I am today through their teachings and example. I have been blessed to know some of the truly great men of this world, and I hope I am living up to their expectations in some small way.

Rather than focus on my Dad today though, I would like to focus on the gems that made me a dad.

I have always been a pretty emotional guy thanks to coming from a pretty emotional family. I am not ashamed to admit that I got a little teary-eyed at the end of Toy Story 3 when all the toys almost died. Generally though, it is the amazing things that my kids do that get me the most emotional. I am just always blown away by how talented they are. I realized I am biased, but everything they do makes me proud.

Before one of my first trips here in Japan I told my son that he needed to look after his mom and sisters while I was I away. I explained that he was the man of the house so he needed to make sure they were taken care of. Now every time I go on a trip he makes sure to tell me that he is the man of the house before I leave. I am super proud of him for trying to be a big boy and take care of the girls, even if it means he tries to tell his mom what to do, because after all, he is the man of the house.

A few weeks ago my two little princesses had a dance recital which is pretty much guaranteed to make me tear up. You watch these videos and try not to have some tears of joy.

It is so rewarding to see your kids do something they love, and do so well at it. The youngest was just disappointed that she didn’t get a sticker after the dance recital like she does after class.

As much as I like to come off as a tough guy (I am sure Crash Dad, Mom, and Aunt just laughed a little, or a lot) I come to appreciate these tender moments more and more the older I get. Being a Dad is just about the greatest thing I have ever done, and I am proud to get a little emotional about it every once in awhile.

Kicking Off Las Vegas Summer Pool Side

Posted on May 31, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

One of the great things about being a Las Vegas blogger is that there are so many incredible activities for you and your family to do and write about. Yes, there’s the other side of vegas, but most people are surprised by how many family friendly things are available in Las Vegas.

When we first moved here about 10 years ago, it was shocking to think that Las Vegas had no waterpark. Something about the heat of Las Vegas and no waterpark didn’t sound right. However, over the past couple years, Las Vegas now has 2 waterparks. To kick off the Memorial Day weekend and summer, I was given some tickets for my family to attend Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas. Not one to pass up an opportunity to skip work and go to a waterpark, I jumped at the chance.
Wet N Wild Las Vegas
The Crash Wife and I were interested to compare Wet ‘N’ Wild to Cowabunga Bay in Henderson. I’ll admit that we haven’t been to Cowabunga Bay this year and so we haven’t checked out the new slides, but we both came away loving Wet ‘N’ Wild much more. The kids area was better. The flow between slides was better. The pizza was better.

In a pretty genius move, Wet ‘n’ Wild even offers a free sunscreen station thanks to Comprehensive Cancer Center of Nevada. Smart advertising for them even if they’re trying to prevent new customers. Consider all the white boys we have in our family, this was essential.
Wet N Wild Free Sunscreen Station

This next picture is what I call the Wet ‘n’ Wild Hammam. Crash Kid #3 loved the warm cement. The funny part was that I asked the Crash Wife if it was too cold to go to the waterpark since it was only going to be 90. #DesertRats
Wet N Wild Hammam Las Vegas

I think that my kids favorite part of Wet ‘n’ Wild was the cabana boy (Josh was his name). It was so funny to see them talk about Josh in the first person as if he was their friend or something. Josh had a hard job with so many people getting hungry at the same time. He was even nice enough to pose for this picture with the Crash Kids:
Wet N Wild Las Vegas Cabana Boy

Crash Kid #1 suggested that if I really wanted to show Wet ‘n’ Wild on my blog, then I needed to get a go pro and hold it while I went down a slide. I told him we’d have to see if we could do that next time. I’m not sure the lifeguards would have been too happy with me doing that, but I’d have certainly been game.

All in all, a fun time for the Crash Kids and me. Thanks Wet ‘n’ Wild for the tickets. I’m sure we’ll be back. In fact, I think the Crash Wife has purchased more tickets already.

Child Like Determination

Posted on May 17, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Child-like Determination

Yesterday was Crash Kid #2’s first piano recital. Luckily there were only 3 people playing at the recital so it was fast and painless. It was exactly the way you’d want a piano recital. Friendly faces in the audience. A chance for your child to perform in front of people and the pressure that goes along with that, but the parents aren’t itching to leave as they heard the 10th child hunting and pecking their way through Yankee Doodle.

I’ll admit that I was a little worried for my daughter. She hadn’t practiced nearly enough and the “Be Our Guest” piece was pretty advanced for 4.5 months of piano lessons. The reality was that she only wanted to practice the songs she knew well. So, she never practiced “Be Our Guest” very much because she was still learning it. I think most of us can relate. We like to take on the things we know we can do and often set aside the hard things for later.

I have to say that in my mind’s eye, I’d already pictured what my daughter would look like if she failed at the song. I could see the despair in her eyes as she looked at me and wondered what she should do if she got off track performing the song. It was heart breaking for me to even think about it.

Much to my surprise and delight, she showed a beautiful determination as she slogged through “Be Our Guest.” From a piano performing perspective it was pretty awful. Her timing was off. She slowly and methodically pecked out the song with only a few parts playing on the right time so you could recognize the song. From a father perspective, it was brilliant.

I was so proud of Crash Kid #2’s determination to pluck her way through the song and do her best. I couldn’t have been more proud. Many kids would have shrunk at the idea of performing that song. She taught me an amazing lesson in determination yesterday. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Fighting the Battle Between Responsibility and Passions

Posted on May 13, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I am not really sure where I am going to go with this, but I am hoping that putting my thoughts on (digital) paper will bring some clarity.

It is likely not a surprise to anyone that military life can be somewhat chaotic and uncertain.  That is sort of the nature of the beast, and something that I understood well before joining.  Even with all of the uncertainty there are still certain times when I get to be a part of the decision making process, like it or not.

The short version of this story is that I am a navigator on the C-130H that is being replaced by the C-130J which has no navigator.  In case you can’t do the math, that means I have to find a new job.  The real problem, as I see it, is that I have a few options and none of them stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I will spare you the specifics of my different options as it is not entirely relevant to my troubled line of thinking.  What is relevant is that my choices can largely be grouped into two categories: responsible rational choices, and choices that get me excited about the future.  The best answer would obviously be something that was a good mix of both, but if it was that simple I wouldn’t be grinding my mind over this.

So how does somebody find that good balance between responsibility and passion?

I was hoping that somehow an answer would appear after typing that, but no such luck.  I did stumble across this video today though which clearly leans towards one side of the debate:

I have seen multiple videos and stories like this recently and maybe that is my answer, but I simply can’t ignore the responsibility side of my life.  Then again, maybe that is just the doubt that the video talked about.

Feel free to share some insights with me.