Pley LEGO Set Rentals

A co-worker told me about a service that was like Netflix for LEGOs. You pay a monthly fee and can rent as many sets as you want but you can only have one at a time.  This appealed to me for a couple reasons.

  1. You can play with a lot of sets for potentially less money than buying them.
  2. You don’t clutter your toy box and floors with dozens of sets mixed together that never get built twice.

There are some downsides I can think of too.  My kids who don’t seem to respect their own toys have to take care of these rental sets without losing pieces. That may become stressful and more work for me to make sure they don’t get lost or mixed with our bricks.  The other thing about signing up for a service is that although you can save money, is it really saving if you weren’t spending that money on LEGOs already? We definitely aren’t spending $15/month on buying sets.  One of the reasons we don’t is because we don’t want too many toys.  You can only handle so many. I believe the kids already own too many things.  So if we’re renting we are paying for the experience but not the material that tends to become junk.  We make about 2 trips a year to Goodwill to donate toys that don’t get played with.  If we find one that we really, really like then we have the option to buy it.  Makes sense to me.

If you want to sign up for a free trial use our referral link and we’ll get a $10 credit. http://bit.ly/pleylego

float tank

Sensory Deprivation Tank

One hour of floating in a dark tank full of extremely salty water. Why the heck would I do that? Why not!? I first heard about this practice from my favorite morning talk show Good Mythical Morning.  They tried it on their show and it seemed interesting.  An hour of depriving your senses.  I did some research and found that these tanks are specially designed to minimize sensory stimulation.  The water is salted with epsom salt so that you float on your back effortlessly.  The water is kept at your external body temperature so that you don’t feel warm or cold. The air in the tank is gently circulated to maintain a comfortable environment and it is pitch black so you see absolutely nothing.  The idea is to lay there motionless for an hour and do NOTHING!

A couple weeks after doing my research I found a deal on Living Social or Groupon for half price for a Yoga Studio near my work.  Perfect! Let’s do this!

I arrived late and in a rush because I was cutting into my session. After filling out a waiver I used the restroom to make sure I didn’t have to worry about digestive sensations while depriving my senses.  I then got a brief orientation which described what to do if I got salt in my eyes, how they would alert me when the hour was over which was gentle music in the water for the last 5 minutes.  I was also instructed to take a shower before and after the float.

I had done my research so I didn’t really have any questions so I was left in my private room took a quick shower, climbed into the tank and closed the door. Now what?  Just lay there. Find a comfortable position and let yourself settle in.

For the first few minutes I tried to relax and I tried to focus on breathing and letting my shoulders relax. After about 5 minutes I started to notice my breath. It was abnormally loud. Like really loud.  I wasn’t breathing hard.  I was really calm and relaxed but the only thing happening in the tank was me breathing so it was very noticeable. Very, very noticeable.  So I started to just listen to my breathing which is a popular meditation technique for becoming present.

I lost track of time but I will say that at one point I got bored and broke from my motionless state and tried sitting up.  It was amazing that I could lift my upper body out of the water while still floating. I would estimate that for the last 10 minutes I was pretty much ready to get out but I just waited for the relaxing music to start.  It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying the experience but I was ready to get home.

I think this practice is needed in our society of overstimulation. For example, as I type this post I have 2 browsers open with 3 tabs each.  One browser is playing a netflix video! You are likely in need of some sensory deprivation.  Do you “need” to float in a tank to deprive your senses? Probably not but it definitely works.

Rubbermaid Roughneck

Rough Housing With Roughneck

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Rubbermaid, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #FallFixUp http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

In Arizona, our Summer outdoor activities almost exclusively involve water.  Mostly, we swim!  We still have a month or two left for swim weather but we find that we have a lot of old pool toys crowding our pool storage box.  The other thing I noticed is that the large bucket we had to hold balls and other outdoor toys was overflowing and still there were toys scattered all over the yard.

Messy Back PatioI put the kids to work and made a quick trip to the nearby Home Depot to get some supplies.  I found a super large Rubbermaid Roughneck storage bin.  I also got a garbage can to help clean and for another fun project to be featured next week!  The best way I know how to motivate the kids to work is to make it fun.  The little girls turned the storage bin into bed and the older kids used the garbage can for their own fun.


After we had our fun … err … did some durability testing.


We got the yard cleaned and organized.

IMG_0171outdoor storageI like this bin because it is HUGE and we can put a lid on it to keep the toys contained.  I might have to get another one! One nice feature is that the lid snaps on all 4 sides.  It didn’t pass our durability test with flying colors.  You might be able to notice the crack on the rim. This probably isn’t normal unless you load it with rowdy rambunctious kids.  The garbage can was more durable and withstood advanced water testing.

Both items can be found at The Home Depot and are were much less expensive than I expected.  You probably need the bin and you’ll want the garbage can after you see the next FunAwesome project.


Stay tuned for a special project we did with the garbage can after we were done using it to clean out pool toys.IMG_0176

Rib Off

Family Rib Off

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Farmland/Smithfield, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #ReadySetRibs http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

Think about the best ribs you’ve ever had.  The meat is so tender and juicy.  It falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth.  The BBQ sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. MMMMmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!  Just mention BBQ to a group and you’re guaranteed to hear stories of the best ribs.  Where to get them, who has the best recipe, which sauce is the best.  Arizona is better known for Mexican food but there are a few good BBQ restaurants and everyone has a favorite.  Eating out is always fun but being able to create your own masterpiece and having friendly competition with family is FunAwesome!

Farmland Pork RibsHere’s the story. We found Farmland Pork Ribs for about $10/rack at Walmart with an additional $1 off coupon (also known as Smithfield in some regions). We decided to text Sarah’s siblings to see who was up for a rib off if we provided the meat.  We picked up 4 racks of ribs and dropped them off with 3 of her siblings and gave everyone 24 hours to find a recipe, cook the ribs and bring them to my in-law’s house for judging.

I’ll admit my grilling experience is mostly hamburgers, hotdogs and an occasional chicken breast.  I could be wrong, but I think this was my first time grilling ribs.  Sarah has done boneless ribs in the oven and crockpot but we all know true BBQ needs to be done on the grill or in a smoker.  Time to man up and learn a new skill.

Finding the Perfect Recipe

Coca Cola BBQ SauceWe have had experience marinating ribs in Coca-cola and have found that it tenderizes pork really well while also adding a nice sweet flavor.  We did some research and looked at a few recipes that involved Coca-cola.  Ultimately in our research, we found some good advice on grilling techniques from BBQ Pitmasters.  Did you know there are real serious BBQ competitions?  Show me where to sign up as a judge.  What I decided to do (and this may be an unfair advantage) is to try two different sauces.  One from our favorite local BBQ restaurant and one was a homemade sauce that involves coca-cola and ketchup.  Then we could test which one we liked best and submit that.  We also marinated the entire rack in Coke and Sprite overnight.Homemade BBQ Sauce

Cook It Slow

We learned the key to ribs is cooking it slow.  The recipe we followed suggested 2 1/2 hours at 225 degrees.  I think this worked well but I also enjoyed the ribs my sister-in-law made where she put the ribs in a crock pot for 8 hours. The crock pot ribs fell right off the bone and had good flavor as well.  You still had to work a little to get the meat off the bone with our recipe but it was very juicy and tasty meat.  We didn’t taste any bad ribs at the rib off.  IMG_9798After 2 1/2 hours in the oven our ribs were tender and fully cooked we just needed to get the BBQ flavor sealed in on the grill.  We reapplied BBQ sauce to each half rack and cooked them on the grill on medium high for about 15 minutes.  We grilled a few pineapple slices with them as well because who doesn’t love grilled pineapple?!IMG_9815The end result was a huge success!  Everyone loved the idea of the rib off! My father-in-law was the judge and we all got our fill tasting each others recipes.  I’ll share each recipe with a brief review.

Our recipe was adapted from FramedCooks.com I followed their procedure but slightly modified the recipe.  I added sprite along with the Coke to the marinade.  I also reduced the amount of ketchup to about 1 1/4 cups and used teaspoons rather than tablespoons on all the spices.  The result was delicious!

Contestant 2 used a Spicy Texas Ribs recipe from Paula Dean.  These ribs had a very unique flavor.  I usually like BBQ to have some sweetness. These were more spicy than sweet but I enjoyed them.

Contestant 3 used a simple but tasty recipe from sixsistersstuff.com It was a crock pot recipe with pineapple juice and brown sugar. I would highly recommend this recipe especially since it sounds so simple and they tasted awesome!

Contestant 4 found a Cranberry Cola Ribs recipe which was also done mostly in the crock pot. The texture was much like contestant 3 with a unique cranberry cola flavor which are two flavors I love.

Every rib was devoured from every contestant!  Who won? Doesn’t matter because RIBS!

rib off success

Have a FunAwesome 4th of July!

Grab some Farmland/Smithfield ribs with the $1 Off coupon and try one of the recipes above.  I’d love to hear how it turns out.  Take advantage of the  $1 off coupon while supplies last.  I’m excited to make some adjustments and do this again soon.




5 FunAwesome Summer Activites

5 FunAwesome Summer Activites

What do you do with kids while they are on break from school? Let them watch TV and play video games all day? Heck no!!!!!!

1. Watch Some Baseball

Baseball isn’t for everyone but it is important to rout rout rout for the home team. I grew up in Northern California and my parents took me to several Giants baseball games.  I played little league and had dreams of playing professional baseball. It isn’t always the most exciting sport to watch but it can be fun to follow your team and catch a few games during the summer. Attending a professional baseball game isn’t just about watching baseball.  It is an experience that every kid NEEDS to have.  The sites, smells, sounds are one of a kind!

2. Go Camping

Again, camping isn’t something a lot of people admit to enjoying but, like baseball, it is something that you need to experience and every child should learn to appreciate the outdoors.  Camping can be simple or very complex with all the gear and knowing the best spots to go.  If you’re new to camping keep it simple. I’d probably recommend borrowing gear.

3. Go On a “Neature Walk”

Whether you’re camping or not you need to get out and appreciate your surroundings.  The best way I know how is to follow the wise advice of Lenny Pepperbottom.

4. Swim!


5. Summer Concerts

We took our kids to a Lindsey Stirling concert. Although the music and performance was good I would recommend something different for kids. Look for assigned seating or just take them to a free outdoor concert. Our town does a summer concerts in the park series with mostly local musicians.


Rubbermaid FastTrack

fasttrack in use
“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Rubbermaid, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #FastTrack

Last Sunday I went for a walk around my neighborhood and it seemed like every other house had their bulk trash out and people were busy cleaning out their garages.  I took a look at our garage and noticed it was due for some Spring Cleaning. Plus Mommy Stubz has been talking about getting our house more organized.

With all the FunAwesome activities we’ve been doing and the long list of ideas for future activities we find ourselves needing to be more organized and getting clutter out of the way.  One of my few domains in the house is the garage. We have a 2-car garage but half of it is used to store bikes, strollers, scraps of wood and whatever else gets taken out of the car and forgotten.

Over the years we’ve added more kids and thus more junk to our garage and it is starting to get a little crowded.  Some of the junk can go but we decided to take some action and free up even more space by going vertical!  I found the best way to do this is with the Rubbermaid FastTrack system.  targetballing1

I brought the girls with me to Target to get started with organizing the garage.  You simply install the strips to wall studs and hang any combination of hooks they have available. I went with the 5 piece kit which includes one hanging strip and 4 hooks.  FastTrack has a variety of hooks that will fit any need.  My favorite is the long double hook which is perfect for hanging bikes!Rubbermaid FastTrack System

FastTrack InstallationThe installation was very straight forward.  All you need is a stud finder, measuring tape and/or level and drill/screwdriver combo.  Follow the simple instructions and in 15 minutes you have a versatile wall organizing system that can adapt to your ever changing needs.  In Arizona we do things backward from most.  In the Summer we put the bikes away because it’s too dang HOT!  Then in the winter we store some yard and gardening equipment.  Anyway you decide to use it, the FastTrack is going to free up some serious floor space. Check out my garage before and after.

FastTrack Before and After3-IMG_9679

The Rubbermaid FastTrack 5 piece Kit is on sale for $28.89 (reg. $33.99) from May 18 – May 24


While you’re at Target picking up your FastTrack this week don’t forget to snap a #TargetBalling photo! If you don’t know what Target Balling is go check out my buddy Cullen on Instagramjpeg@culligan targetballing wrecking ball@culligan targetballing

DIY Lava Lamp

Homemade Lava Lamp


Our friend Lane from LaneVids taught us how to make a lava lamp and it was, surprisingly, super easy. All you need is a jar, oil, water, food coloring and alka-seltzer. For quickest results mix water and food coloring first then fill most of the jar with oil. It can be a little more fun to add the food coloring after the oil and watch it pass through the oil and mix with the water.DIY Lava Lamp

We also built a lamp box using some scrap wood and a lamp from IKEA but for this project it probably wasn’t worth it so I don’t really recommend it. The effect is very visible without the light and definitely easier to see in video.

One thing that is fun for the kids is to play with the amount of alka-seltzer tablets to drop in. For them, more is better! I find that about 2 at a time is plenty. Plop plop, fizz fizz! Oh what a relief it is!

Homemade Lava LampThis project was a collaboration with LaneVids’ channel and on his channel they tried the Chalk Rockets. See his video below.


Family Hula Hoop Contest

Last night we were sitting around as the kids played with hoola hoops and I challenged Mommy Stubz to see if she could do it longer than our son.  I had no idea he could hoola hoop so well.  Is there a professional hoola hooping league he can start training for? I kid!

We learned two things:

  1. Dad can’t hoola hoop (I already knew that).
  2. Keep your distance from Stubz Jr while he hoola hoops or you might get hurt.

This is the perfect example of turning a simple activity into something FunAwesome.  We could have easily just watched the kids play and they would have had fun but we got involved and let our inner child come out and then everyone had MORE fun!

The Bean Boozled Challenge

The Bean Boozled Challenge

Jelly Belly makes something called Bean Boozled.  It is a box of jelly beans where each color is one of two flavors.  One flavor is “good” and the other is NAAASTYY!  You don’t know what you’re getting until you taste it. This makes for a fun challenge that has been popular on YouTube for a while.  It is one of those experiences you don’t want but you want to be a part of so you can rant about how disgusting it was.  Why would I want to deprive my kids of the satisfaction of being able to say they’ve tried barf flavored jelly beans?

Have you tried the Bean Boozled challenge? Which was the worst flavor for you?