10 Great Gag Gift Boxes in Honor of April Fool's Day

1. For the candle lover (or otolaryngologist) in your life.

Photo Credit: Amazon
2. For the person who could use a little more sleep, but is never home.
Photo Credit: Amazon
3. For the coffee lover who likes to save time.

Photo Credit: Amazon

 4. For the ice cream lover who can now (literally) take it to go.
Photo Credit: Amazon
5. For people who have lazy pets that don't pay rent.
Photo Credit: Amazon

 6. For anyone too lazy to pet their own pet.
Photo Credit: Amazon
 7. For people who've always wanted breakfast in bed.
Photo Credit: Amazon
8. For people who don't know how to keep their eyes on the road.
Photo Credit: Amazon
9. For people who don't live in California.

Photo Credit: Amazon

10. For the bacon lovers in your life.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Happy April Fool's Day! Be safe and don't do anything too stupid :)

You Are More Than You Think You Are

Photo Credit: Aaron Arogones / CC0 1.0

Dear Friends and Family (and anyone else reading this),

I just want to take a moment and tell you that you are awesome. That's basically it. Simply. Plainly. You are awesome.

One of my favorite Matchbox Twenty albums is More Than You Think You Are, and the title is inspired by the idea that we are more than we think of ourselves.

You are smarter than you think you are, especially if you didn't do that well in school. You always have the capacity to learn and grow.

You are stronger than you seem. You are both physically and mentally stronger than you have originally thought. The 40% Rule says that when your body thinks that you can't go any further, you're only 40% there; you can still keep going.

You are emotionally tougher than other people may incorrectly think. Never underestimate the power of the human spirit. It's what has started social movements and innovations that change the world.

You are capable of much more than you currently think. You are capable of achieving success and reaching your dreams.

Just like every person on this planet, you are important. You are unique and special. Don't ever forget that.



Roderick Conwi writes at NourishmentNotes.com about lifestyle development. To get powerful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.    

Photo Credit: Amazon

Life Lessons from Marvel's Civil War Graphic Novel

Who says that comics are just for kids? There's a difference between the comic strips that you see in the Sunday newspaper (in which, Dilbert is my new favorite) and more complex graphic novels. Comic strips are simple, funny, and usually intended for younger audiences. Graphic novels are pretty much novels with complex plots, deep character development, and mature themes.

In anticipation for Captain America: Civil War, I decided to read the Marvel Civil War graphic novel. You know the old saying, the book is always better than the movie. Well, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe has used different characters and slightly different story-lines than the graphic novels and that the movie isn't out yet, I can say that it looks like the movie will be different than the comic, which can be a really good thing. That way, when I watch the movie, I'll probably still see some unexpected surprised and have an awesome time.

If you still think that comics are just for kids, then check out these life lessons I found in the Marvel Civil War graphic novel: 

(minor spoiler alert!)

1. There is a Big Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

In the beginning of the novel, an amateur "C-list" group of superheroes known as the New Warriors recklessly invade a house full of criminals resulting in an explosion that kills hundreds of innocent people, many of whom are children. Even though every professional was once an amateur, a professional has a lot more experience and skills.

2. Anything Can Change Anytime

At first, Steve Rogers aka Captain America and Tony Stark aka Iron Man were close friends. They disagreed on the Superhero Registration Act, which was a law requiring superheroes to not hide their identities and become employees of S.H.I.E.L.D (with proper training and accountability). It was designed to regulate superhero activity to prevent incidents like what happened with the New Warriors and instill public trust in the superhero community. Captain America saw it as a dangerous move that would split the superhero community (he was right) and place the ones working on the streets, like Daredevil, in even more danger. Iron Man saw it as a necessary move to keep the public safe and have them trust superheroes again, especially after what happened with the New Warriors.

This disagreement changed everything, not just for both men, but for the whole Marvel universe.

3. Secrets and Relationships Don't Mix

Even the Fantastic Four split here. Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic created a jail to hold superheroes who refused to comply with the Superhero Registration Act. The project was top secret, so it's arguable that Reed was right to keep it from his wife, Sue Richards aka the Invisible Woman. But when she found out what he created, she was so furious that she left Reed and joined Captain America's rebellion.

4. It's Totally Fine To Change Your Mind

Spider-Man plays a significant role in the Civil War for many reasons, and one of them is that he switches sides. At first, he is pro-registration with Iron Man, and even does something really drastic to show the public his good faith.

Later on, Spider-Man decides to switch to Cap's side. From deciding to be pro-registration and then anti-registration, both times he made his decision based on his conscience and values.

5. Intention Don't Justify the Methods

In the comic (and probably the movie), Thor isn't present. Needing a heavy-hitter on Iron Man's side, they create a clone. Creating a being with Thor's powers, but not actually Thor, chaos happens. Let's just say it's not good.

The Superhero Registration Act made it the law that every superhero had to register under S.H.I.E.L.D., which made any unregistered superheroes (pretty much everyone on Cap's side) criminals. To hunt them down, S.H.I.E.L.D. ironically recruits supervillains to legally capture unregistered superheroes (because, you know, fighting superheroes is their specialty). They end up brutally beating one superhero in particular legally. This is ironic for so many reasons.

6. Stay Focused on Your Goals

Both Captain America and Iron Man are superheroes who fight for the greater good. In the Civil War, they take actions that they believe are the greater good, but they got so sidetracked fighting each other, they forgot that. Instead of fighting for the people, they were fighting each other, which isn't very superhero-like at all.

Want to check out the graphic novel? Grab it here.
via Amazon

“Be Yourself” and Other Life Lessons from The Story of Ferdinand

As much as I love reading to my kids, they love being read to much more. I read to them almost every night. They can't get enough of it. (I've read Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? countless times.)

There are a lot of benefits in doing this. One, you get to spend time with your kid and create memories. Two, you get to promote literacy and a love of literature.

Quite honestly, one of the best parts about this is reading books that teach life lessons to them. Hands down, one of my favorite books for this is The Story of Ferdinand.

This story that teaches kids (and even adults too) that being yourself is deeply valuable in a way that I've never seen before. My wife and I absolutely love this book. It even inspired the title of Fall Out Boy's album From Under the Cork Tree.

Here are some lessons I continually teach my kids when we read The Story of Ferdinand:

Be Yourself

Ferdinand is no ordinary bull. His favorite thing to do is sit under his favorite cork tree and smell flowers. That's what he does. When you feel pressure from society, be like Ferdinand.

This book teaches my kids to learn the value of being themselves. My four year old son carries around his toy baby because he wants to be like his parents. What he sees me do with his little brother he replicates with his toy baby. It's a total compliment. Just because he's a boy doesn't mean that he can't play with dolls. He just wants to be like mom and dad.

You Don't Always Have To Fit In

Ferdinand is the biggest and strongest bull in Spain. The banderilleros (type of bullfighters) want him to fight like all the other bulls, but he has no interest in that. Even though he has the physical makeup to be the best bull in bullfighting, he would rather just sit under the cork tree and smell flowers.

Along with being themselves, I want my kids to understand that they don't have to be like everyone else. My kids are of mixed race and that's one factor that will make them stand out, and that's perfectly okay. They will also have their unique personalities, interests, and skills, which is awesome. 

Don't Always Try to Change Others

As much as the banderilleros try to change peaceful Ferdinand into a fierce and fearsome fighting bull, they fail to.

My kids need to learn to accept other people for who they are. They may be able to be a positive influence on others, but they can't necessarily change them. Other people have their own minds and make their own decisions. Ultimately, they are in charge of their own lives whether they realize it or not.

Find Happiness in the Simple Things

Ferdinand doesn't need to be rich with a mansion or fancy cars to be happy (he's a bull after all). Simple smelling flowers under the cork tree makes him the happiest.

I'm a big believer that the happiest people in the world find happiness in the simple things. For me, it's as simple as spending time with my family, going for a walk, reading a good book, or savoring a hot cup of coffee in the morning. As a parent, I want my kids to grow up to be happy (along with healthy and successful). I want them to be able to find happiness in simple things, not luxurious material possessions, even if they just want to relax under a cork tree and smell some flowers. 

Grab your copy here!

10 Clever Coffee Mugs To Help You Get Through The Work Week

Sometimes both coffee and humor is just the thing to make the work week a little (or a whole lot) better.

1. Because coffee makes everything better in the morning.
Get it here.

2. Because you're not yourself until you add coffee.
Get it here.

3. Because coffee is prescribed just for you. You can make it as sweet and/or creamy as you need it.
Get it here.
 4. Because sometimes we wished we worked at Hogwarts.

Get it here.

5. Because coffee keeps you charged.
Get it here.

6. Because being consistently awesome is tough without coffee.

Get it here.

7. Because being a unicorn might not fit into your daily agenda.
Get it here.

8. Because sometimes being Batman isn't the best career goal.
Get it here.

9. Because you obviously can't fit enough coffee in this cup (or any cup at all).
Get it here.

10. Because some days you just have to find joy in the simplest things.
Get it here.

A Curious Case for Caring for the Future

Photo Credit: Jordan McQueenCC0 1.0
Like many people (maybe even you), I have kids. I have two young kids that I totally adore. I want them to grow up healthy, happy, and successful. I want this world to be one that in proud that they're living in. Every parent wants to have the peace of mind that their kids will have a better life than they themselves did. 

They shouldn't have to live in a world of fear, despair, and hopelessness. They shouldn't have to worry about the world ending in their lifetime, whether it be a natural disaster, economic meltdown, zombie apocalypse, or inexperienced/fear-mongering/fact-handicapped government leaders. 

They deserve to live in a world where opportunities and possibilities spill out everywhere. They deserve to live in a more just world where they can have a quality of life higher than mine.  The future should be something I look forward to, not fear, especially as a father. 

As a parent, I'm devoted to making this world, not just a better place, but a wonderful place for my kids and your kids to grow up in. It all starts with my daily actions. Every little thing I do affects the future. It's not just in me, it's in all of us. 

Even if you don't have kids, you (and everyone else) should care enough to want to make this world a better place for ourselves, our friends and family, and future generations.