Luggable Luggage Makes Travel More Fun

With summer upon us, road (or plane or boat) trips, with all the associated packing and schlepping, aren’t far behind. Here are a two pieces of luggage that can help make those family vacays and adventures go as smoothly as possible.

wicked cool vrum ride onVRÜM Ride-On Storage (Wicked Cool Toys)
Kids often have trouble deciding which toys and games to take with them. With VRUM luggage, they can take everything—and best of all, you won’t have to carry it. VRUM is a sturdy, hard-sided, rolling suitcase that’s easy for a child to pull. And if your child gets tired on the long walk to gate 264, he or she can sit on it and scoot along. (You can pull it with your child riding on it, but that’s a bit challenging). Straps inside can keep toys and clothes separated (or toys from falling over and hurting themselves), and it locks securely so there’ll be no emergency pickups on the jetway. VRUM comes in a number of licensed characters, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob, and Dora the Explorer. $39.99.

wildkin rolling packRolling backpacks (Wildkin)
One of the worst parts about trips with kids is that mom and dad often end up hauling around the kids’ luggage in addition to their own. Frankly, we think it’s high time for the kids to help out—especially if they’re old enough to have outgrown the VRUM Ride-On. If you agree, you won’t have to look any further than Wildkin, which has a wide variety of wheeled options. Their rolling backbacks have plenty of room, lots of zippered compartments, mesh dividers, and water bottle pockets. They also have adjustable shoulder straps, just in case you’re going over terrain that’s unfriendly to wheels. Wildkin also has duffels, tote bags, larger rolling luggage for bigger kids, and more. Each option is available in a variety of designs that make them easy to spot on a luggage carousel. There are cute animals, mermaids, and construction equipment for little kids and more sophisticated prints for teens. They’re all built to last. $49.99 and up.

#MilitaryFamilyFriday: Saving Money + Being an Absentee Landlord

At one time or another, most of us run into some tight financial times. Being on a military salary—which, as we all know, isn’t the greatest in the world—doesn’t help. But, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to save money, whether you’re trying to build your retirement fund or just socking away a few extra bucks for a rainy day. Here are nine tips that will help you save money, even on a military salary. Read the rest of this article on my minisite.

If you’ve been living off base in a property you own, it also means that you have to figure out what to do with your current home. The most obvious choice is to simply sell the house. But what if the housing market is down or you’re underwater? Should you keep the house and become an absentee landlord? Read the rest of this artilce on my minisite.

I’m always looking for great organizations, programs, and other resources to help the men and women who serve our country. If you’ve got a suggestion or referral, please drop an email to armin [at] mrdad [dot] com.

Low T

By: Richard D. Levin, MD, FACS

Low T: Do I have it? What can I do about it? Does it matter?

Every day, many men walk into my office asking me if (or telling me) they have “LOW T.”

Most don’t really know what it means, but admit they are really seeing me for fatigue and/or erectile dysfunction. Certainly both can be mediated by low serum testosterone, however there are many contributing factors for each.

First and foremost, I try to obtain a life style history. Sleep disorders (APNEA), prior “supplement use,” or hormone usage, if previously diagnosed, and sexuality/fertility concerns, in addition to overall health related questions, are addressed. Indeed some come in with a lab test waving in my face “look at my low T.” I inspect the data, what labs, were thyroid and binding proteins tested? How about pituitary hormones? What time of day were they drawn? Did he get a good nights sleep?

I address each concern individually and then collectively as part of a bigger health picture.

There is a normal range of serum testosterone, as well as serum binding proteins that adjust free circulating (unbound) testosterone. Low for one man may be just fine for another. Also, there are daily (diurnal) variations as well as exogenous factors that make a single test suboptimal. When there are signs and symptoms of reproducible low testosterone, we then a bigger picture into account. Are there scrotal varicose veins (varicocoels)? A history of prostate carcinoma? A recent viral illness (think mumps)? Usually I wait a few weeks and repeat to get a trend (I have been surprised at the variability and recovery spontaneously). Typically, once a year, I even find a small pituitary tumor as the cause of Low T. [Read more…]

The Perfect Summer Road Trip

summer road trip

summer road tripThe open road is a great way to see the country. Once school’s out, it’s a perfect time to hit the road and enjoy some good old fashioned family quality time. From planned adventures such as hikes and river rafting, to getting off the beaten path and experiencing some local flavor, road trips can offer a unique travel experience. Be prepared with all the basics such as snacks, road entertainment, convenient technology, and basic safety supplies. And before you hit the road, check your tires’ tread condition and air pressure to help secure a smooth ride along the way.

Here are a few things you won’t want to leave behind:

1. Snacks

While driving long hours in the car, a variety of snacks can help pass the time. But don’t reach for the traditional road trip foods like beef jerky, chips, and sodas that can leave everyone in a slump. Instead, pack some energizing, nutritious snacks. Load up on natural granola bars, sliced fruit, nuts, and sliced veggies such as baby carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers and grape tomatoes.

2. Road Trip Apps

Avoid the typical road trip complications such as getting lost or wandering around in search of the cheapest gas prices. There are road trip apps galore available to make your trip go as smooth as possible. Download apps like Glympse, which automatically relays your GPS location to family and friends back at home. Your information will be sent only to pre-determined contacts in your phone book, for select windows of time—making it easy to keep your eyes on the road. Apps are also available for GPS, finding the best gas prices nearby, identifying landmarks, and beyond!

[Read more…]

Scion FRS – Wow, That’s Fast

mrdad - Scion FRS dual spedometers

mrdad - Scion FRSYears ago, wife and I had a Volvo. It was pretty new and very snazzy looking, but it spent a lot of time in the shop. I found that really annoying, but my wife didn’t seem to mind. “It’s a European car,” she’d say. “You just have to get used to it.” Well, I never did. So when we divorced, I was thrilled to trade my interest in the Volvo for a few other items with better repair records.

I’m bringing this up because, as I was putting the Scion FRS (which the brand provided, with the understanding that all opinions in this review would be mine alone) through its paces, the phrase “you just have to get used to it” kept popping into my mind. But in a much more positive way.

First, the FRS is a Toyota brand so I wouldn’t expect it to come anywhere near a mechanic unless it was for scheduled maintenance. I could definitely get used to that. Second, the FRS is a sports car, a real-life, fast-as-hell, head-turning, takes-turns-like-it’s-on-a-rail sports car. So, yeah, I could get used to that.

mrdad - Scion FRS dual spedometersThird, it’s not a luxury car, which means it doesn’t have a lot of the features you’d find on a Lexus, for example. There’s no multi-zone climate control, no collision warning sensors, and no rear backup camera. That last part gets us back to the sports car: This is a vehicle that you’ll be driving forwards, probably faster than you should be. So why spend the money on a feature you’ll never use? It does, however, have two speedometers: one digital, one analog, just in case you need confirmation that you’re really going as fast as you think you are.

The FRS is incredibly fun to drive. So much so that it created an interesting problem: During the week I had it, I put a lot more miles on it than I usually do. And it took me a little longer to get places than it usually does. The reason? I found myself taking the most circuitous routes between points A and B that I could find. The more turns the better. Yep, I think I could get used to that too.

MSRP for the base model FRS is $24.900. Fog lights, a rear spoiler, and a few other upgrades brought the price to just a shade under $28,000. The official MPG numbers are 22 city, 30 highway, but that may be when the car is driven at legal speeds. Chances are you’ll go over the limit. Hey, it’s a sports car, so get used to it.