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Six years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, noting that little bits had changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd. This was followed by updates in 2016 & 2017, and today I am posting once again, as it's the seven-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: As I've warned before, with each passing year, the targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...

March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.

Zicam Cold ConnectionsTHE ROCK FATHER™ has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; #ZicamCrowd

As we reach the end of one year and turn the calendar to another, we make our way through the crowded holiday season and into the open waters of what lies ahead. It's a time to show appreciation for those who do for us, but also a great reminder that it's worth showing appreciation throughout the year - not just during the festive season. The Zicam Card Creator at Card Isle is an easy way to send a digital greeting card to provide a message of thanks, some get well wishes or to simply let someone know that you're thinking of them. Here's one that I made for Santa. Yes, the Mighty Santa Claus!

Wednesday, November 08 2017 09:06

Taking Care of Others? Take Care of Yourself First...

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THE ROCK FATHER™ has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; #ZicamCrowd

Over the past few years, I've written at length about attempting to stay well, especially when juggling multiple plates. My wife and I are always on-the-go, and we, like millions of other parents, are constantly trying to balance our work commitments with our family schedules. My wife works in an office that's 40 miles from home. That means time on the road each day, and that in itself can add to getting run-down, especially as colder months arrive. I work from home, but travel a few times a month means early mornings, late nights (which can become early mornings) and interacting with a ton of people that we can call "variables" (who knows what germs they harbor!). Put everything together with getting our girls to-and-from school, along with Girl Scouts (Daisies and Brownies), karate, sometimes gymnastics, ballet/tap plus all of their off-shoot playdates, and there's a lot of people we're crossing paths with. Being sick puts a damper on all of that, and making connections with others can be a tricky thing when a cold comes on. It's uncomfortable on so many levels, but a reminder that as we spend most of our lives looking out for the care of others, you can't do that when you're not taking care of yourself. It's no secret that I reach for the Zicam® at the first sign of a cold, but now there's a new tool in my arsenal: Zicam® Cold Remedy Medicated Fruit Drops.

Sunday, May 07 2017 21:49

Why Do You Sleep? I Sleep to Rock and Play

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Presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and Beautyrest with Life of Dad…

Sleep is a mysterious thing. Sometimes just can’t get enough of it, while other times you can feel like you’ve done too much. There have been times in my life where I managed to function on very little of it. In fact, I can even remember my first day on a new job, walking in to start a 5am shift when the guy training me said something to the effect of “Did you sleep well last night?” My response surprised him: “Actually, I haven’t slept yet. I will when I get off work.” It was a lifetime ago, but the reason for my lack of rest was that I’d played a gig with my band just hours before. As a parent, the whole “rock and roll lifestyle” just doesn’t cut it anymore, and I’ve become aware of my sleep habits, and have been trying to make the most of having proper rest. Lately, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor has been a part of that.

Thursday, April 13 2017 13:33

Gearing-up for Spring Allergy Season...

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THE ROCK FATHER™ has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

Now that we've pretty much finished fighting that pesky groundhog, sending him to retreat back to his hidden underground bunker (more on that here), spring is legitimately here, and that brings with it some new issues. Spending time outside when the seasons change is a favorite thing for me, especially since Spring means getting back into working on my yard and getting the gardening started. It can also mean more travel for me (I was just out in California again a few weeks ago), and on top of always attempting to keep the common cold at bay, now we have allergies in the mix. Spring allergies. In fact, I think of all the allergies, spring ones just might be the worst.

THE ROCK FATHER™ has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

Ah yes, the wonders of Spring. The clocks have been set ahead... the grass is starting to green... the tulips and daffodils have begun to poke their fingers through the soil as the birds have returned and started to sing. But there's a bit of an issue here this year. As I mentioned last month, that dirty groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his evil lair with news that he was planning to punish us this year. "A long winter," he declared, sentencing us to an additional six weeks of cold. Given that our winter was relatively mild this year, the Chicago-area famously snow-less in January/February (we hit 70°!) - something that hadn't happened in over a century, it was easy to write Phil off as giving a "typical cartoon villain speech." And then the snow came in March. As the rodent put forth a jubilant "victory laugh" from within his underground bunker, the humans above were faced with mountains of fresh powder. It was an act of revenge by a vermin, one who's been mocked for his weather predictions allegedly being right less than 50% of the time. No one knew that he'd built a Weather Machine in his basement. His vile actions would now result in travel disruptions, and new battles against an old foe: The Common Cold.

Thursday, February 16 2017 11:40

Keeping up Defenses for Mid-Winter Adventures...

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THE ROCK FATHER has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

Passing the midway mark in February is always a weird thing when it comes to my overall mood. It's that mid-winter time when you can tell that spring is lurking in the distance (regardless what that jerk, Punxsutawney Phil says), and soon things will brighten up. What bothers me most is the gloom that tends to hang high above the bridge between February and March, and as someone that prides himself on a well-manicured lawn and landscape, seeing the grass matted down, brown, dry, and looking like debris-infested straw is just depressing. Everything needs to be cleaned-up, but I just know that there's another blast of snow (or two) still yet to come, as the temperature continues to swing between sub-zero and the fifties as erratic as an off-balance washing machine. One thing that breaks the gloom is an adventure, and whether it be more travel, or simply some big events close to home, one thing that can really put a damper on things is a cold. Yes, a cold... that looming enemy that's always chasing me, and forever seeking a fight. My arsenal must be ready. 

Monday, January 23 2017 15:00

Just a Cough? No, It's Never 'Just a Cough'

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The Rock Father™ is spinning a tale about Robitussin® as part of a sponsored series for Socialstars™

My wife often makes reference to me as a youngster. After all, we've known each other for 20 years at this point, and you'd think that over the course of those decades, some "growing up" would've taken place. Overall, it has (quite a bit), but certain habits have yet to change, and proper rest is a part of that. Yes, I make mention of this stuff pretty frequently - I'm always busy, usually working (mostly from home), and I don't take care of myself the way that I should. Problem is, I'm responsible for a lot of things (and people), and as a 40-year-old man, I still function much like a 20-year-old in that my days and nights often run together and my scheduled and internal clock is sorta "off." That can get tricky at times when I lose track of things or pull some late-night hours, hammering away at some official Rock Father business in my office, all while the family sleeps upstairs. Throw something like a cough into the mix, and there's an issue. First off, it's never just a cough - but when it happens, I need relief for myself... and others. Fact: My hacking cough has disturbed the family on a time or two.

THE ROCK FATHER has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

Growing up in the 1980s made for an interesting time. Outside of school, much of my time was spent playing, and in the midst of that play - there were many "wars" to be fought, and the popular toys of the era made it easy to take sides and establish alliances for the glory of battle. At the same time, while I engaged in much strategy and adventure among the stars, in worlds of fantasy, and in pitting giant robots against one another all while fighting the forces of fictional terrorist organizations branded with catchy acronyms. It was all a reflection of the real world around us - I just didn't know it. The Cold War had already been raging for decades - a situation where two forces had each other in a position of standoff that occasionally led to escalated tensions. Now, as a parent in 2017, it's more than apparent that The Cold War is back... but it's a different type of "cold" war, and the participants in this battle are members of the same family.

THE ROCK FATHER has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

'Tis the season to be jolly, and if your family is like ours, that means you'll be spreading that jolliness across multiple scheduled gatherings that fill up the December calendar quicker than Santa (or his elves) can fill a stocking. We've already attended one big gathering - the annual "extended family" Christmas at my Mom's house - and that means there's three more to go, not counting the one that matters most, Christmas morning here at home. As I've mentioned before, I don't have a great track record when it comes to keeping germs at bay, and between all the people I come in contact with during the holiday season on the family front, plus all the germ factories kids I meet while attending parties at our daughters' schools, I'm rockin' the Zicam® to take at the first sign of a cold. It sorta reminds makes me wonder about another rotund bringer of holiday cheer... who's looking out for Santa Claus?

Wednesday, November 23 2016 11:23

Well, HELLO there... Gobble Gobble!

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THE ROCK FATHER Magazine has partnered with Hello Products to bring you this friendly feature.

It's Thanksgiving week, or as I like to think of it, that big speed bump on the highway between Halloween and the December Holidays. It's a time when things slow down, and part of that is simply because of all the eating - a lot of eating. Actually, Halloween is probably the true kick-off to the Holiday season, because October-December are all linked by an unseen evil that lurks with every meal, sweet and treat - the potential for cavities. For Halloween I tried to balance things out by staying "cavity-neutral," giving kids both candy and toothpaste... the naturally-friendly kind from Hello Products.  If there's a sugar rush, kids should also feel a need to rush to brush to protect those pearly whites - even if they're not "grownup teeth" just yet. Knock on wood, neither of The Rock Daughters™ have yet to have a cavity! But now, Thanksgiving... Gobble, Gobble!

THE ROCK FATHER has created this post as part of a #sponsored series with Socialstars and Zicam®; all opinions are that of James Zahn. #ZicamCrowd

Back when I started this website, I had no idea it would end up leading to more travel than I'd ever done before. After all, the whole idea was that I'd be a work-at-home dad and be spending the majority of my time with our daughter. Fast-foward a bit and that's still mostly true, but it's now daughters (plural) and the scope of things has totally changed. I'm traveling a lot, which means not only time spent in the confines of those flying metal tubes, but also a lot of time in airports... and the worst part: those dirty buses and trains that shuttle around the airports. A lot of people equals a lot of germs, and since I tend to get run-down, that means I get a lot of colds. When the folks at Zicam® asked if I'd throw down a few words about my ongoing war against colds, it was easy to say "yes" since I've been using their product for ages anyway.

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