That’s a big twinkie

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

It brings me great joy seeing my kids appreciating some of the things I did as a youth.  Not just sports but certain cartoons, TV sitcoms and of course movies. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary showing of Ghostbusters and, just like with Back to the Future, it was a father and son moment I’m glad we shared.

Teaspoon_Ghostbusters Teaspoon and Little Thor have seen the movie multiple times off Netflix. In fact the first time I showed it to them I was curious how they would see the movie. They didn’t retain any of the swearing or (many) of the key lines but they loved the special effects with Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Watching it on the big screen was a new experience for me and one where I noticed a few things.

1) Smoking is big – Back then no one thought twice about lighting up but today if this movie would come out I’m sure there would be people flipping out. Teaspoon’s thoughts “Daddy, they smoke a lot. That’s stupid!”. Now if he says that at 15 we’re golden.

2) Janine is nebby – I need to watch this a few more times but in the background it seemed like she was always poking her head up or looking around a corner.

3) Dana is loaded – How on earth does someone have that beautiful of an apartment on the top floor by Central Park and makes a living as a musician?

4) What’s their insurance like – Unless they have a way to fine tune the streams to cause less destruction, they will trash your building like the hotel. Shelling out 5k to have a ghost captured and contained  and then you have damage to the walls and replacing a ballroom. I mean you could sign a contract but that Sedgewick Hotel is pretty much screwed.

I can’t wait until his brother is a little older so we can go as a family to enjoy the theater but until then, it’s special time like this with my Teaspoon that I’m cherishing.



Categories: Family, Fatherhood

Redefining Family Movie Night

September 1st, 2014 2 comments

We cut the cord on cable about 2 months ago and have been tethered to Hulu, Netflix and over the air programming (more on that later). Since we were in the middle of a holiday weekend and our plan for camping in our back yard was rained out, we decided to have a family movie night. The way it ended up was not what we had planned.


I started by looking for something family friendly we haven’t watched. When you cut the cord you’d be amazed at how fast you can burn through these movies. After 10-15 minutes I came out of my trance with a few suggestions and noticed something.

The boys were huddled under a blanket on the floor watching Air Bud on their tablet.

My wife was watching Orange is the New Black on her phone.

Well there shoots that plan. I fired up the Hulu Plus and celebrated the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night via Chromecast. I’m not a big Beatles fan but I’ve always loved that movie.

Amazingly enough all of our programming ended around the same time and we finally got to watch the Disney movie. Well, 10 minutes of it at least before every one but me was snoring.

Is this the future of movie night?

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

Surviving the First Day of Kindergarten

August 26th, 2014 No comments

Yesterday I sent my first born off to kindergarten and even though I’ve been joking all summer that I couldn’t wait for this day to get here, when it finally did I had mixed emotions.

 Teaspoon was excited. Strike that, he was a raging ball of pumped up excitement. He was telling me all morning about how cool it was going to be, the friends he would make, and more importantly, he was riding a bus like a big kid.

We sat on the porch for what felt like an eternity. Teaspoon kept looking around the corner in anticipation for his ride when he noticed my wife was in full blown tears. He kept saying “Mommy, don’t cry. I’ll be OK.” She said “It’s not that buddy, we’re just so proud of you!”

He smiled and gave her a huge hug. Then with a smirk said “Mommy, do me a favor. Don’t follow the bus.”

I choked on my water and we all laughed because honestly, we were thinking about it.

The bus arrived and as he got on I couldn’t help but think about everything we’ve been through with him. From his early birth and time in the NICU, time at home hooked up to monitors to the moment he was accepted to the school and tested in the top 10% of kids his age.

He has always been a curious kid and anxious to experience something new as seen when we became parents to a soccer / hockey / basketball / baseball player in leagues where he didn’t know many kids. If he wants to try something, he does it and we do our best to make it happen.

I could see the awe in his eyes. The excitement of the unknown.

Teaspoon on the bus

When he came home he shot out of my wife’s car like a bat out of hell. “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! KWJHJKHDHHVDHBS!!!!!!” and for the next hour I sat back and listened to his stories from the day.

It has been a long and educational journey since I became a stay-at-home dad and this is why it happened, so I could experience these moments with him that wouldn’t have been possible if I was still working. This was the event where it became clear to me and now I’m ready to move on and get back to work.

For this guy, his brother and his mom.

Teaspoon 1st Day

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 18th, 2014 No comments

I’ve been helping out with charities since I was a little kid. In my twenties I spent a lot of time with Cystic Fibrosis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association and when I became a parent it was always March of Dimes. I did all of those because I knew someone directly involved and wanted to help out. Honestly, with so many charities out there you can only spread your money so far especially when on a fixed income.

When I first heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge I thought it was just a bunch of celebs being recruited to feel good that they had money to share. “Hey look at me, I’m donating!” but this kind of thing is in the media so much that I barely pay attention to it.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Then the Pens did it. Uh oh it’s getting local.

Soon people I knew were doing it.

I started thinking to myself that if Kevin Bacon did it the whole world would be connected and this thing would blow up, and it has. (Has Kevin done it yet anyways? It seems like he would be the go-to person for anything viral.)

My good friend Phil from My Life as a Foodie nominated myself and 2 others from our beer circles to take the challenge. The deal is you either donate money to ALSA or you have to dump a bucket of ice water over your head. Well we did both.

It seems like this challenge is drawing a lot of anger out of people also. Frankly the complainers are generally the ones griping about most things. Will dumping a bucket of ice over my head cure anything? No but it was REALLY refreshing. Is it raising awareness? I think it is and most people I know have donated money along with doing the challenge. Personally I used this opportunity to teach my kids about charities, get them involved in something fun to do and use their creativity to plan out the video. Not everything has to be entertaining but when you’re 3 and 5 it sure and heck helps get them interested.

Here is the video we came up with.

YouTube Preview Image
(Watch on YouTube)

I have nominated my beloved older brother Bob Derda Jr., former altar boy partner and Tiger Beat cover boy Mario Scutella II and founder of the Pavel Bure bro-mance, Mr. Chris “Stoosh” Jiuliante.

Find out more about ALS, the challenge and to donate, go to

Categories: charity, Family, Fatherhood

The Great Grill Caper

August 6th, 2014 No comments

Earlier this summer I put a call out for help.  My beloved Kenmore gas grill, which has been a staple in my house since 2004, was on its last leg and I needed to find a replacement. I debated trying to salvage it but after many discussions with my wife, OK one talk that ended in “You’re not going to buy a torch and welder’s mask. You’ll burn down Dormont.” it was decided that I would get a new grill as an early Father’s Day present. The big debate would be gas or charcoal.

Kenmore Grill

We were always gas people since it was fast and, well it was fast. We never had bad meals because of the source of the heat and since we spent some time in townhouses charcoal wasn’t an option. I’ve always wanted to smoke and bbq but with gas that could get expensive. In a surprising twist my wife was the one who said to go charcoal because there’s something unique about the taste charcoal gives.  Knowing she was on board with taste over convenience, and figuring out our budget, it came down to 2 models. Brinkmann Charcoal Grill with Off Set Smoker (810-3015-S) vs Weber One Touch Gold 22.5 at my toy store, Home Depot.

I’ve always wanted a Weber. There’s something about the culture and community with owning one and I always thought they were pretty sweet. They look simple but get the job done and of course “the pros use it”. The Brinkmann though had an off-set smoker which I really liked too and could help me as I work on my bbq. In the end my wife went out and bought the one she thought I would like.

Introducing the Brinkmann!

Brinkmann GrillShe pulled in with the grill, a chimney starter, hickory charcoal and a few other grilling toys. Yes, I was loving this and ready to get cooking. It took roughly 2.5 hours to put together and then a few hours to season. According to the manual, if I didn’t do this correctly there would be fumes or some toxic overload would rise and kill us all.

I managed to cook chicken one night on it and it was a disaster. The barrel couldn’t hold heat at all. Smoke poured out of it and the air flow was miserable to manage. Quickly my disappointment set it for both of us and when it came to cleaning, I would rather take care of my kids with the flu. They’re less of a mess.

Brinkmann Grill RustI had a cover put over it and even with that it began to rust within a week. The pics show some of the rust but it was all over. Heartbroken I went online and found out that this is a problem with the model and that there are sites dedicated to hacks for most Brinkmann grills because of countless issues. Emails to the company were never returned either.

Thanks to Home Depot‘s 90 return policy and the incredible assistance by the Ben Avon store superstar Kelly, she made sure I was fitted with the perfect grill.

Winner Winner Weber errr grill!

Set up was simple and only took 20 minutes and when I was finished light shined off the the death star of grilling. The big difference between the One Touch Gold and Silver is that the gold has a very easy to remove ash trap and cleaning system. It is absolutely worth the extra $50 between the models for it.
Weber One Touch Gold Grill

The quality and craftsmanship is impeccable. While gas will probably come back to play some day I’m sold on this brand for my charcoal needs.

The biggest obstacle I’ve had is learning the air flow for controlling temp. It’s not difficult but a matter of getting it to fit my preference. There is a manual which came with the grill that shows you estimated cook times and how to adjust the intake to get temps where you need  it. Also there is an incredible online community for support and plenty of how-to videos on YouTube and their site.

Added bonus is the selection of accessories you can get for your grill and collection of recipes available which I have taken advantage of.

I wanted to get this post online so I could not only give you an update but start posting some of the dinners I’ve made so far. I’ve already done ribs, burgers, steaks, chicken and last weekend was brisket! Ugh I’m making myself hungry again.

Weber has taken something as simple as a grill and turned it into a way of life. I’m reading up on rubs and have joined a few bbq boards so I can get up to speed on not only my tools but grilling and bbq in general.

Categories: BBQ & Grilling, Food