I am Proud to Say That I am Living My Parents American Dream #MassMutual #AmericanFamilyStudy

1 Mar

“I participated in an Influencer Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for MassMutual. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

My wife likes saying that our kids have the perfect speech if they ever plan to run for office “My Grandfather was a waiter for 20 years and my Grandmother was a seamstress who made mens suits for 60 cents a piece – they came to the U.S. from Asia to follow the American dream and they achieved it – 3 children with college degrees, their own business and a fully paid-off home.”  You can’t get more apple pie than that.  This is over-simplified, and it was not all happiness and easy times – but all that my family has achieved is the result of what they believed and how hard they worked for it.

What attracted me to MassMutual’s State of the American Family Study is that it studies what I think is at the heart of what most families worry about – finances. We may want to separate the two, but they are invariably intertwined.  I was curious as to the results of the study.  Here are some statistics or results that stood out for me:

  • A lot of things have not changed across all ethnicities – family is still number one, and parents don’t want to be a burden to their children.
  • What really surprised me though is the importance around educating kids about finance – I wonder if that would be in the top five 20 years ago.  That is a priority within my family – teaching the girls the value of things, saving, and how hard work pays off.
  • Interesting factoid about women vs. men when it comes to planning and enforcing savings.  I have to admit in my experience as a Certified Financial Planner by profession this also tends to be true.  I didn’t realize how predominantly true it was.
  • Women are less likely than men to have estimated how much savings they will need (55% vs. 67%) in retirement, but when a plan is developed, they tend to stick with it more than their male counterparts.
  • I work with a number of LGBT families in my job and because they don’t have marriage equality in all states, they have to be more aware and sensitive to their planning needs when it comes to estate planning, financial management, medical directives, etc.  
  • LGBT families are more attuned to issues of elder care, ranking not burdening children with elder care higher than traditional families and are more likely to own long-term care insurance.

At the end of the day what makes a “dream” something worthwhile is how achievable and fulfilling it is.  My parents were able to achieve their American dream and my wishes for my kids are not any less aspirational.  Maybe not so grounded in the basics but more centered around how they are as human beings – being a good member of society means being a good honest person, a hard-working person, and with that comes financial responsibility.  The new “dream” to me is to nurture children into adults who can fulfill their own dreams that will someday knock my socks off! 

  • To learn how MassMutual can help families achieve their American Dream today, please review the MassMutual Family Finances study here: http://bit.ly/M9xloU

The Product Review For a Product (ROGAINE) You Almost Never Hope You’d Need #gotitfree

27 Jan
“I participated in an Influencer Program on behalf of Dad Central for ROGAINE®. I received a product sample and promotional item to thank me for participating.”
 
I have the admit when I first heard about this product review I thought “Pass” — who wants to talk about thinning hair? And most importantly – I don’t have the time or the interest in slathering something on my head twice a day and talk about it.  I will have to admit I was intrigued about talking to Bill Rancic (we come from the same home town – Chicago) and he seemed like a “real” enough person and a new dad at that.  I will also admit that when I told my wife “I don’t know where I’ll even test the product!! I’m fine!!” — there was a VERY pregnant pause and a “um…on the top back of your head… you might be thinning…. a little….” — well there you go… I planned on giving it a try.

The ROGAINE Brand, the #1 recommended dermatologist brand for hair regrowth, has teamed up with Bill Rancic to serve as their Growth Coach for their Grow Your Game initiative.  The GROW YOUR GAME program seeks to give men the tools and resources they need for long-term success and confidence in all aspects of their lives.

Most of us know Bill Rancic as the first winner of Donald Trump’s hit show, ‘The Apprentice’, but since then, Bill has continued his success and entrepreneurship as a motivational speaker, real estate developer, restaurateur, author of a New York Times best-selling book on business, etc.  He is also the husband to E! News Anchor, Giuliana Rancic and their life together is documented on their hit reality show “Giuliana & Bill’.  In addition to the above, he also co-hosts the nationally syndicated TV show “America Now’ and is ROGAINE’s first-ever “Growth Coach.”

Bill is sharing his secrets to overcoming life’s challenges with straight-forward solutions to getting ahead.  In his role as Growth Coach, Bill shares his personal experiences while talking to guys about conquering real issues, including advice on how men take control of their appearance and grow the confidence needed to transform their lives.

I’ve always thought that I (although I hate the term) tend to be a pretty metro-sexual guy — in short — I’m not the usual testosterone heavy caveman/sports junkie type — I do care about what I wear and have a certain opinion about men’s style and interest.  I was impressed with ROGAINE and their “Grow Your Game” campaign — in many ways I always thought of any hair regrowth product as a clinical thing — kinda like treating a wart or a rash — but what I didn’t realize is that it could be part of your day-to-day routine, much like shaving is about changing your looks to look more “clean” or spritzing cologne changes how you smell, applying some ROGAINE changes your scalp/hairline.  Although in this case it does take twice a day daily application for 16 weeks before you might see results — it is a commitment — don’t get me wrong — but its a commitment which isn’t as hard as I thought.  The price isn’t bad — almost $50 for a three-month supply is not bad at all – I always thought it would be more expensive than that.  It certainly is better than having an operation, and it isn’t sticky or doesn’t leave a residue like I was worried about. 
 
New ROGAINE deal!  I found this online — 4 months for $59.99 plus free shipping — you do have to join their auto-refill membership – but at least you get a 4 month supply and have it delivered right to you for free.  Some interesting things I found out: 

  • Can be applied to dry-or towel dried hair
  • With the foam the application was much easier than a liquid or a cream
  • Although hair-loss is thought of as an ‘aging’ issue men in their 20’s (like Bill Rancic in the past) could already  see the beginning of hair loss

So fellow gentlemen and dads – just like the ladies, the better you look and feel the better attitude and approach we tend to have on life’s challenges – career, work life balance, family/parenting matters, etc.  Don’t be afraid to try ROGAINE if you need to fix/enhance your hairline!  I’m looking forward to seeing some positive results in a few months!

Grow Your Game! My interview with Bill Rancic, ROGAINE’s Growth Coach

13 Jan

I participated in an Influencer Program on behalf of Dad Central for ROGAINE.  I received a product sample and promotional item to thank me for participating.

The ROGAINE Brand, the #1 recommended dermatologist brand for hair regrowth, has teamed up with Bill Rancic to serve as their Growth Coach for their Grow Your Game initiative.  The GROW YOUR GAME program seeks to give men the tools and resources they need for long-term success and confidence in all aspects of their lives.

Most of us know Bill Rancic as the first winner of Donald Trump’s hit show, ‘The Apprentice’, but since then, Bill has continued his success and entrepreneur spirit as a motivational speaker, real estate developer, restaurateur, author of a New York Times best-selling book on business, etc.  He is also the husband to E! News Anchor, Giuliana Rancic and their life together is documented on their hit reality show “Giuliana & Bill’.  In addition to the above, he also co-hosts the nationally syndicated TV show “America Now’ and is ROGAINE’s first-ever “Growth Coach.”

Bill is sharing his secrets to overcoming life’s challenges with straight-forward solutions to getting ahead.  In his role as Growth Coach, Bill shares his personal experiences while talking to guys about conquering real issues, including advice on how men take control of their appearance and grow the confidence needed to transform their lives.

I never knew and was very surprised to find out that Bill had thinning hair after college and back then he used ROGAINE Foam to take charge of his appearance and prevent his hair from thinning.  Surprisingly, hereditary hair loss affects 40% of men…I do believe it’s one of our gender’s common fears!

Given Bill’s honest and direct approach, his openness, success in many facets of his life, I believe he makes a great Growth Coach!  He has a history of success, personal and professional growth, and history of establishing and reaching his goals.  His experience can be so helpful to others and this all makes him an ideal Growth Coach in the areas of life, relationship and career.

In participating in this Influencer Program, I was able to interview Bill Rancic on the phone.  I found this fellow Chicagoland native to be down to earth, open and honest in our conversation.  I asked him “What does it mean to you to be the ROGAINE Growth Coach and why did he take this opportunity to admit to being a hair thinning survivor?”  Bill is proud to be a ROGAINE user, having taken charge of an issue that started while he was in college, he didn’t want to sit back and become bald so he took charge to prevent that and used ROGAINE Foam.  He is not embarrassed to admit to the public that he had thinning hair as he did something about it and with hereditary hair loss affecting 40% or more of men, he’s glad to be a spokesperson for ROGAINE and encourage men to take charge, increase their confidence and become more successful in life.

I also asked Bill how being a dad has changed his life, how does he balance parenthood, marriage and career and what are his new goals for 2014 and beyond.  I was delighted to hear him say that he loves being a dad and there are no defined roles between him and Giuliana – they are equal parents, both change diapers, cook, do dishes, etc.  It’s a delicate balance, as we all know, but Bill says ‘Family First’!  As for goals in 2014 and beyond – Bill is busy as ever with the 8th season of ‘Giuliana & Bill’, more restaurant openings, his role as ROGAINE’s Growth Coach, co-hosting ‘America Now’ , and being a great dad and supportive husband.

I have to admit that I really enjoyed my conversation with Bill.  A true fellow Mid-westerner, just easy-going and easy to chat with!

A quick visit and a cure? CVS MinuteClinic to the rescue!

13 Dec
“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for CVS MinuteClinic. I received promotional items as a thank you for participating”

I have to admit when I saw this campaign I thought this has to be the best timed one and relevant to me yet!  Flu and cold season is among us as we sniffle into our gloves and sneeze or hack our way through the day- sometimes you might stop and wonder… “why am I suffering through this?”  Or worse parenting moment — hoping against hope your child snaps out of whatever he/she has so that we don’t have to take them to the doctor.  Ironically enough we were forced into a situation a couple of months back where we had to visit a MinuteClinic.  I have to admit I never really thought to go to a MinuteClinic (#MC) in the past, we have a family doctor and a pediatrician we usually go to.  But here we were in another city and my daughter had a fever.  My sister had brought her daughter there once in the past and had a good experience so she told me to give it a try. 

It was as wonderful an experience as a clinic visit could have been!  Zero wait and even if there was it looks like the computerized queing system is pretty organized.  The nurse practitioner was wonderful – she looked at my daughter thoroughly and was able to test her for strep right then and there (positive!) prescribed the antibiotic, which got send electronically to the pharmacist, AND I think best of all a copy of the diagnosis and prescription was electronically sent to my daughter’s pediatrician.

There is more..

SO I looked particularly exhausted, which I thought was mostly due to the trip and caring for my daughter, and the nurse then suggested I take the strep test and it turned out I had strep too!

That experience was just so quick, easy and efficient!  I have to admit that for minor things I currently prefer going to the MinuteClinic first rather than going through all the rig-a-marole with my doctors.  I still go to my doctor mind you, but its really more for things that are a little more serious or long term, but for quick fixes I think MInuteClinic works great.

  • MinuteClinic and CVS are a great one-stop shop for cough-cold and flu needs. You can visit MinuteClinic to vaccinate, diagnosis, treat and prescribe for cough-cold-flu and equip your house with wintertime cough-cold essentials at CVS. 
  • A great article to help tell the difference between a cold and the flu: http://bit.ly/18ca8La

 

Gold Bond – No Mess Powder Spray – Product Review

21 Aug

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Gold Bond. I received product samples and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

I am the guy that gets sweaty regardless of season!  Sometimes I can’t take off my suit coat at work  during a hot day because of my sweat ‘spots’ (I don’t like the feel of anti-perspirant) and it sometimes look like I have some sort of internal spigot that just opens and closes leaving me drenched.  Yup I know this just yells “Sexy” – LOL!  Unfortunately it looks like my youngest child seems to have the same thing :-( 

Hmmm, here is part of my “how you know you sweat a lot” checklist:

- No backpacks for me – unless I want a sweat stain the size and shape of my backpack on the shirt I’m wearing.

- Handkerchiefs are useful but I really use/need a small face/hand towel to sop up all my manly perspiration when I get going.

- I can’t shovel snow in a down jacket!  I did that once and I was swimming inside the jacket before I could even say “Howdeedoo.”  Wet down is NOT fun!

I think you get the idea.  So…I’ve been using Gold Bond powder for my feet and in my shoes, I haven’t really been using anything to stench the flow anywhere else – honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted a sweat meets powder “doughing” thing happening on my back; so when this product review opportunity came up I figured “heck why not?”

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Just so you have an idea of how big the ‘spray area’ is- this is one press – the powder stays within wherever you sprayed.

I received both the Classic (menthol) and Fresh (aloe) Gold Bond Powder Spray.  The fresh has a more subdued scent which works well for me since I wear cologne for work and wouldn’t want to have a dual scent thing going on.  The product sprays on easily upside down, sideways or right-side up and leaves a very cooling feeling.  What I liked best is that I don’t have that problem of ‘white powder everywhere’ — like when I shake powder into my Keens/shoes its hard not to get some on the floor — the spray really eliminates that problem and is pretty precise where it ‘hits’.   The photo to the right is a close spray.  When you spray 4-5″ away you get a nice’mist’ of powder!  I also tried it on my sweaty child’s back before she left on a play date and she found it refreshing too :0)  My only qualm is the suggested retail price – $7.99 seems a bit steep for a spray on powder – not that I ever bought one (aside from foot sprays) before – I might wait for a coupon and/or sale before stocking up again.  I probably won’t be adding this to my everyday routine – but I can see where its good to have one on hand for those days where I know I’ll be sweating a lot, won’t be able to have a change of clothes with me, and/or when I’ll be in contact with a lot of people (outdoor barbecue, sports event, concert etc).  I honestly see using it on my kids as well – the ingredients (talc, starch, zinc oxide etc) are not harsh and will spray on easy enough.  I can see using it where the kids might chaff in hot weather – mostly around the waist of their shorts/pants/skirts.

So my bottom line – good product, easy to use, effective and neat!  I’m just waiting for a sale and/or coupons :o)

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Our Sprays!

About Gold Bond:  

Powerful, hard working and trusted since 1908. Now in its second century of healing, Gold Bond offers a broad line of products, including some of the fastest growing hand and body lotions, as well as the top selling medicated body powder, foot powder, foot cream, and foot pain cream in America. For more information, visit Gold Bond on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Dishwashing Dad Tests the New Cascade Platinum #sponsored

15 Jun
Before I begin – let me start with the disclosure and link to www.momcentralconsulting.com

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

We’re probably not atypical – in our family my wife cooks and I clean.  I have a certain way of cleaning and loading the dishwasher – yes, I am THAT person that gets all bent out of shape when a dishwasher is not loaded correctly.  I do pre-rinse/wash the dishes, call it a habit, call it a mental “isn’t that just common sense?” as I tell my wife often (much to her irritation ;-) ) “The dishwasher can’t scrub sweetie, it just sprays water!” (emphasis on a sarcastic ‘sweetie’).  So I was interested in checking out this new product from Cascade.  “No scrubbing?” you say?  HA!  I was going to prove them wrong!  Nothing is no scrub, the dishwasher does not have little arms that come out and scrub the grime and dried sauce/food away!  But in fairness we also needed to use our old standby dishwashing detergent and do a ‘no scrub’ load as well.

Here is what Cascade Platinum promises:

  • Scrubs away tough 24 hour stuck-on food
  • Eliminates the need to pre-wash dishes
  • Provides exceptional dishware shine
  • Contains the grease fighting power of Dawn

So we tried it out.

It was hard.

It was VERY hard to control myself.

It almost felt a little gross.

I only threw the big pieces of food away, did an arbitrary rinse with water – which honestly made little difference when it came to the sticky stuff.  And that was it.

In the interest of full disclosure – since we aren’t consumer reports – we used Cascade PLatinum for one night (where we had mac and cheese pot and bowls) and another night we had barbecue ribs (baking tray and plates)  – so no it wasn’t an exact dish and plates comparison, but I have to say the experience has surprised me.

I really don’t have to scrub!!! :-)

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BEFORE

photo 2

AFTER – See what I mean by gleaming?

The truth is I didn’t need to scrub for either of the dishwashing detergents.  BUT Cascade Platinum produced results that did have more shine… my wife calls it the “Ting!” of shine, while the other detergent left the dishes clean but (I am NOT kidding) lackluster.  Another thing I did notice was our daughter’s lunch thermos was gleaming clean (after mac and cheese which was left in it all day after lunch and only cleaned later at night) with Cascade Platinum, but the next day did have some remnants or smears (pesto pasta this time) left when we used our old detergent.

By the way we have an OLDER dishwasher (5-6 years old or so) and even in its hey day it wasn’t top-of-the-line.  Okay part of me was creeped out with why my dishes, pots, and containers were so gleaming clean after a load with Cascade Platinum – but this is what they say about how they make it ALL happen –

  • Increased enzyme power delivers better tough food cleaning than regular Cascade complete pacs.
  • Unique liquid-top dual surfactant system delivers exceptional shine for the dishes while helping to keep your dishwasher sparkling.
  • Specially designed chelant and polymer system helps prevent hard-water film build-up on your dishes, glasses and interior walls of your dishwasher.
  • That same chelant is designed to fight Calcium that comes in with hard water and food to deliver film-free dishes.

My wife is currently scouring BJs and Costco Warehouses to see if they carry the Cascade Platinum Pacs – truth is, I’m not sure how much cleaner it makes the dishes compared to our current detergent but it certainly makes the dishes and pots look gleamingly clean.  And my regular detergent didn’t clean the pesto pasta filled lunch thermos completely!

I can see why Cascade Platinum has partnered with Gail Simmons (of Top Chef and Food and Wine fame) to discuss why presentation is just as important as preparation.  They have tips on prepping and plating, as well as helpful videos here.  We’re not absolute foodies by any means but we do enjoy food that looks good and part of food looking good is the cleanliness of the plate it’s sitting on.

Additional Links -

Happy Fathers Day to Me! (Thanks to Longhorn Steakhouse for my SteakCation!)

13 Jun

LH Logo

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central Consulting for LongHorn Steakhouse. I received a gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.”

Since my 7 year-old daughter’s birthday is the same week as Father’s Day and now that we’ve moved to Virginia just shy of a year ago, this Father’s Day is now squished in somewhere between DD’s birthday party preparation and the last week of school chaos.  With all the recitals and school events coming to a head, I have to admit that our last week or so has been pretty much a piecing together of whatever we can scrape from the fridge for dinners.

Being first generation Chinese American with parents who were not familiar with Western ‘Holidays’ (i.e. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, etc), as a kid I didn’t really celebrate Father’s Day with my dad growing up (aside from the school craft/art project each year in Elementary school).  That being said, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the day now that I’m a dad of two girls.  It is not hullabaloo-ed as much as Mother’s Day in our little family, BUT a reason to eat well is never ignored!  And we ate well this week as I was fortunate to have been chosen by dad central  to review LongHorn Steakhouse  :-)

I am absolutely honest in my review.  We have never dined at LongHorn, although we are familiar with their brand – we thought they would be more like a “Olive Garden” for steaks – but was pleasantly surprised.  We went to the LongHorn in Chantilly VA, the restaurant was pretty new and nicely decorated – it didn’t feel drab or too stereotypical country/western either (no “Hi Ho Silver Away! feeling).  We did not need reservations (it was a Tuesday at 6:30pm when we arrived), the waitstaff was efficient and it was VERY kid friendly.  From the hostess to the busboys and waiter, they interacted with our kids and were very patient and accommodating (a pile of napkins, extra EXTRA butter for my girls who LOVES butter, etc).

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RIB-eye happiness! Perfect ‘medium’ steak, well seasoned, browned outside & juicy inside. Loaded baked potato – I actually appreciate that it wasnt a GIANT potato. Little S had a grilled cheese sandwich.

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The winner with the girls – lobster and shrimp cheese dip! Yes, that is cheese dripping from her chin…

   Little S had the grilled cheese sandwich – all kids meals come with fruit which is nice.  My wife ordered a T-Bone steak  – part of it was a little dry but it was seasoned really well and her asparagus was cooked perfectly.

Overall, the experience was real good, the food was what you would expect in a good steakhouse, it wasn’t too fancy, but was nice enough for a special occasion.  The prices are fair – not expensive and not all ala cart!  Your entrée comes with a side salad and a choice of side dish!  I honestly enjoyed my dining experience there more that I had at Outback steakhouse.  I would go again when I have a hankering for steak or when I don’t feel like firing up our grill.  

 

THE shrimp and lobster dip that the kids loved!  I think it may also be the fact that the chips were the thin kind which also won them over :o)

THE shrimp and lobster dip that the kids loved! I think it may also be the fact that the chips were the thin kind which also won them over :o)

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Yup! This is a kid’s entree salad with grilled chicken.  The chicken was flavorful and not dry!

Some things that really stood out – THE BREAD came out piping hot and with soft spreadable butter!  When we asked for more the waiter said that we had to wait a few minutes since the bread was still baking – there is just something about freshly baked bread…mmmm!

As part of our review package, we received this nifty set of LongHorn steak knives – made of carbon steel with serrated edges.  We havent opened ours yet, BUT used the knives when we were at the restaurant.  I like my steak knives with some heft in them and this felt like a real knife – I was surprised to see that a set of four was only $30!  They felt sturdy and good quality, so I thought it would cost more.

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The beautiful bread :) Picture does not do it justice

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Rib eye heaven! Juicy, well seasoned, marbleized goodness!

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Dessert Trio – the cheesecake was ‘meh’, but the chocolate dessert and the apple crumble with vanilla bean ice cream were delicious!

More Links:

- LongHorn Steakhouse Grilling Fact Sheet  

-  LongHorn website- find one near you!

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