Joel Willis or something you find in dirty diaper. We aren't sure.

Joel Willis

Joel is Executive Editor for The Dad. He is a proud and very tired father of two. He enjoys memes, spending time with his family, and making memes about spending time with his family. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. He is co-editor of The Dad Book and co-author of D is for Dad.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 Coming To PlayStation, Xbox, and PC on September 4

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 2
(PlayStation)

What were you up to 20 years ago? My memory is a little hazy but if I had to guess I was slamming Bagel Bites, listening to Eminem, and playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater… all while putting off studying for my AP Calc exam. On September 4 I may just take a trip down memory lane (sans the AP Calc), since Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 are being remastered and re-released for PlayStation 4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and PC via the Epic Games Store.

The Birdman (who also happens to be a fan of The Dad) himself dropped the news on his Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Happy birthday to me! #THPS 🎮🛹

A post shared by Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) on

Returning for this hotly anticipated remaster is everything you loved about the original games. The S-K-A-T-E challenges:

(Activision)

All your favorite signature tricks, from Kareem Campbell’s Casper Slide to Bucky Lasek’s Fingerflip Airwalk to Tony Hawk’s elusive 900:

Despite a few licensing issues, a “vast majority” of history’s greatest video game soundtracks will be back for your kickflipping pleasure. As long as “Cyco Vision” by Suicidal Tendencies and Primus’ “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” made the cut, we’re good. Also, “Superman” by Goldfinger. Chances are you remember every word to that and don’t even realize it.


And for the first time ever, THPS 1 & 2 will feature online capabilities, including various multiplayer modes and the option to share and download custom skate parks. It’s a dream come true for anyone who knew the sense of gratification that came with unlocking Roswell.

(Activision)

And if that wasn’t enough, today is Tony Hawk’s birthday! A very happy 52nd to the world’s oldest kid. To celebrate, enjoy this video of him driving around and commanding teen skaters to perform kickflips.

Did you know The Dad has a gaming community with leagues, events, and tournaments in 9 different games? It’s true. Pick up the sticks, squad up, and join the gaming club.

How to Stain Concrete Floors to Get an Awesome Finished Basement on the Cheap

AFTER: how to stain concrete floors - DIY home project for less

Finishing a basement is the ultimate (and often most expensive) dad home upgrade. It often involves 3 of my least favorite things: carpet, drop ceilings, and drywall. Literally truckloads of drywall. How can you call it a man cave if the “cave” walls are drywall?! It was time for a basement DIY. This one involving staining the concrete floors.

  1. Clean concrete with a degreaser. Mop with clean water. Dry.
  2. Apply Valspar tintable semi-transparent concrete stain (color: Onyx) using a sponge. 1-3 coats depending on how dark you want it.
  3. Apply Valspar Wet Look Sealer (high gloss finish).
  4. Enjoy!

Don’t you hate it when recipe posts don’t get right to the recipe? Me too. There, that’s the TL;DR concrete staining recipe. If you want the nitty-gritty, read on! (Seriously, read on, we know DIY dads need more detail than that!)

how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

DIY Project— Stain Concrete Floors:

“That’s not really the kind of thing that I do,” was the response I got after asking 3 different professional painters if they could stain my concrete basement floors.

I normally hate paying people to do things at my house if I can avoid it. It’s not that I’m cheap; I just don’t like giving up control. I’m very dad-like in that way.

But when it came to staining my concrete basements floors? I had no idea how to do it. And I didn’t want to mess it up. So I consulted the experts. Maybe it was the people I asked, but the collective response was “Good luck buddy.”

This surprised me. Because every modern office building, or heck, even the floors of Lowes and Home Depot, are stained and textured concrete floors. It strikes me as a very practical, minimalist, and sleek-looking flooring solution.

But first, why stain your basement floors?

Over the years, I’ve had several small leaks in my unfinished basement. Small cracks around the window well, caulking issues around my front door, even a foundation issue that I paid decent money to fix. In all cases, if my basement had been traditionally “finished,” I’d have been screwed. Hidden moisture, mold, undetected foundation issues. No thank you. I’d rather have full visibility to these things.

how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

Also, I just like the look of concrete.

So I laid out my minimalist basement renovation plan. I’d leave the walls and floor bare concrete. I’d put up a single dividing drywall between the main space and the storage/furnace/water heater area. I’d put in basic recessed can lighting. And I’d paint the ceiling rafters black.

To make it pop, the floors needed some depth, texture, and finish. So it was STAINING TIME.

What the Experts Said:

The experts said it would be easiest to paint the floors. The risk would be chipping of paint over time. NIGHTMARE. They also suggested using an epoxy-based paint. It wouldn’t wear as much, but would be shiny and would turn the basement floor into a skating rink, especially with the slightest amount of moisture. When I asked about a stain, they seemed nervous. In hindsight, I think because it is a bit of an art, and it’s more of a skill-based practice. Not quite as easy as painting.

So with the experts decidedly NOT on my side, and my propensity to take on projects myself, my mission was clear. Stain my concrete basement floors or die tryin’.

Choosing Color and Technique:

  1. Trial run(s) to find your color. This is super important. Ideally, you have an inconspicuous place to test. Luckily I had a workshop with concrete floors that I could use for experiments. I bought some expensive Sherwin Williams stains. They did not have samples, and they only had a limited number of colors. My first passes looked very amateurish. I found that Lowe’s sold Valspar semi-transparent concrete stain. Not only was it significantly cheaper, but it was also tintable in many colors. I went with essentially black. I did a coat and was thrilled. I found the look I was after!
  2. Trial run(s) to perfect your technique. The thing about stain is that if you mess up, you can’t just go back over it as you can with paint. Each time you go back over it, it gets DARKER. So if you have a dark spot, and you want to “even it out,” you have to very carefully go over the spots AROUND it without going over the dark spot again. And dark spots are bound to happen, due to portions of the concrete absorbing the stain differently. So experiment with application techniques. My favorite was using a sponge. Get some stain on the sponge, and apply the stain by spreading it across the concrete. Then, to make it more consistent, use the sponge to dab over all of the spots where you applied. This avoids streaks and makes it look more natural. You could also use a cloth to apply, or a paint roller attached to a long stick. This helps preserve your creaky dadbod joints since sponging requires being on your hands and knees.

(Did not like these colors.)

how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

Valspar color options:

how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

Oh snap, I found the look I was after (Valspar ONYX)!

how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

Successful experiment (before and after):

how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap
how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

It’s Go Time— Here are the Steps for How to Stain Concrete Floors:

  1. Prep the concrete. Get yourself a good degreaser. Apply with a mop. Do this at least 2 times. Then get a clean bucket of water and mop the floor 2-3 times to remove any excess degreaser. I actually used a wet shop vac to suck up excess moisture between mop rounds.
  2. Apply concrete stain. This is your trial work’s time to shine. Again, with stain, there are no do-overs. Each time you apply, it gets darker. So best to apply as light of coats as possible. I did my first coat with a paint roller. I rolled it on, and then literally smeared it around with the roller, making it an extremely thin coat. I did my 2nd coat with a sponge as described above. Then, I went back over with a sponge for a touch up third coat to even out any inconsistencies.
  3. Finish ‘er up. Stay with step 2 until you’re completely satisfied with the look. Like it? Love it? Ready to lock it in? Apply a concrete finish. I used Valspar Protective Sealer. Made it a little glossy, but not excessively so. This helps protect the floor and gives it a finish look. Will also make the concrete significantly less porous (less accepting of stain) so don’t do it until you’re happy.

Before:

Before: how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

After 1st Coat:

After 1st Coat: how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

After 2nd Coat:

After second coat: how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

Finished Product:

After Finished Result: how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

Once Complete:

After : how to stain concrete floors - diy basement upgrade for cheap

So the main thing is using the right semi-transparent concrete stain and experimenting to find the right application method that gets the look you want. I have a basement workshop so I was able to use that for practice to get the look right. Really important because you can’t go back once you start staining! It’ll just get darker.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have got some kids to crush in Mario Kart.

(If you’d rather watch someone else show you how to do the work, this Creto Seal video hits all of the basics.)

Best Products For How To DIY Stain Concrete

best products for staining concrete floors: H&C ConcreteReady Cleaner/Degreaser

H&C ConcreteReady Cleaner/Degreaser

Yes, we agree, cleaning is not fun under any circumstances. But don’t skip this important step for a staining concrete project, or your results will not be as good as they could be, and your wife will get to say, “I told you so.” Ugh.

Buy for $26 on Amazon

Best products for DIY staining concrete floors: Valspar Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain

Valspar Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain

Now for the fun part: Picking out the stain to use. This Valspar stain will work either indoors or outdoors, so after you finish staining the basement concrete, you can move on to outdoor projects, like your garage, patio, sidewalk, and driveway. (Hell, go nuts and stain the neighbor’s patio too. We’re guessing you’ll become so good at this, you won’t be able to stop.)

Buy for $29 on Ace Hardware

Best products for DYI staining concrete floors: Valspar Clear Acrylic Concrete Sealer

Valspar Clear Acrylic Concrete Sealer

Picking the right sealer gives your concrete staining project the perfect finishing touch, while also making it stronger and resistant to whatever your kids will spill on it. (Come to think of it, you may want two coats. The kids are experts at destroying things.)

Buy for $33 on Ace Hardware

best products for DIY staining concrete floors: Tidy Tools Industrial Grade Mop

Tidy Tools Industrial Grade Mop

Sure, you could use a cheap-ass mop to do this work. But it won’t give you the same results as an industrial grade mop.

And we all know that having a high quality mop on hand is something every dad should have. Not only is it tough enough to clean up after the kids and the dog, but it’ll last several years … which will provide plenty of time for the kids to become old enough that they can use the same mop to do the chores that you are sick of doing. (Almost brings a tear to your eye.)

Buy for $29 on Amazon

best products to DYI staining concrete floors: QEP X-Large Sponges

QEP X-Large Sponges

Sponges work well for doing the finishing touches on your concrete basement staining project, allowing for precise application of the stain.

Because this is a six-pack, you can throw away the staining sponge after you use it. Do not under any circumstances place that used sponge in the your wife’s favorite white porcelain sink, figuring you can use it for other things later … at least not unless you want to spend the night sleeping on your newly stained concrete floor rather than in your bed.

Buy for $10 on Amazon

bets products for DYI staining concrete floors: Bates Choice Paint Roller

Bates Choice Paint Roller

Paint rollers work well for applying the stain quickly and efficiently. This set ships with two rollers, so you’ll have a backup for applying a second color or if you royally screw up the first one.

We might also recommend adding a long wooden handle with a threaded metal tip that you can screw onto the paint roller. You won’t have to crawl on the floor or stoop over to apply the stain when you add the handle.

And honestly, after this job is finished, who couldn’t find a million uses for a long wooden handle? For example, no birthday party is complete without a wooden stick, a hanging pinata, dad’s private parts within striking distance, and someone who’s filming it all.

Buy for $15 on Amazon

best products for DIY staining concrete floors: Vannect Power Paint Sprayer

Vannect Power Paint Sprayer

It’s hard to believe we’ve gone this far without listing a power tool in our products required for staining concrete in a basement. Our bad.

Some people prefer to apply the stain with a paint sprayer. These things can get pretty messy, especially with stain instead of the thicker consistency of paint, so you may want to put plastic on the walls and other areas that need protection. But if you hate the idea of applying the stain by hand — or if you just have to use a power tool on any DIY project you tackle — this sprayer will do the trick.

Buy for $55 on Amazon

Although we only recommend picks we really love, we may earn a commission on purchases made through links from our site.

12 of Our Best Dad Jokes (Memes) From October

(The Dad)

Nothing is more dad than laughing at your own jokes. Here are our 12 personal favorites from October. (Actually as voted by you, based on Facebook engagement.)

1. It’s all about confidence

(The Dad)

2. A family tradition

(The Dad)

RELATEDInternet Memes For Children – Scary Mommy

3. The vibe is slightly different

(The Dad)

4. This game is impossible

(The Dad)

5. Sweet dreams, buddy

(The Dad)

6. Say what now

(The Dad)

7. Get yourself together, dude

(The Dad)

8. 🤔🤔🤔🤔

(The Dad)

9. Beats doing the dishes 🤷‍♂️

(The Dad)

10. Off the charts pain

(The Dad)

11. A framer

(The Dad)

12. 😏

(The Dad)

Parenting, Rad Dads, And The Bagel Bites Jingle: A Conversation With Tony Hawk

What were you up to 17 years ago? I was spending inordinate amounts of time eating Bagel Bites and playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 on Nintendo 64. I’d jump from rail to rail, park bench to car to building, constantly on the grind… not literally of course. I was a lazy college student.

The real Tony Hawk was out there grinding for real. And crashing through coffee tables. (This iconic commercial just celebrated its 17th birthday!)

In addition to being the most influential skateboarder ever, Tony is a prolific media and entrepreneurial powerhouse: video game producer, actor (60 IMDB credits, including Sharknado 5!), skateboard emoji adviser, and philanthropist, making a big difference in low-income communities with The Tony Hawk Foundation.

That’s cool, but has he ever turned a Nosebluntslide grind into a McTwist grab while eating a Bagel Bite? Probably. But whatever.

My friends and I idolized Tony growing up. Still do. And he’s been a follower of The Dad for quite some time. As a dad of 6 himself, he’s very much “part of the club.” So it was super cool to catch up with him by phone for a quick chat.


JOEL WILLIS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF THE DAD: What are you like as a dad? What is your parenting style? Has it changed or evolved over the years?

TONY HAWK: It’s definitely changed. I think I’ve learned to be more effective as I’ve gotten older and through experience. But I think that [all of my kids] are all different obviously. They all have different needs and different kind of attention that they want or require. It’s been fun to see them all develop their own interests. They all are very unique, and my approach is to be supportive of whatever it is they’re getting into.

If they really find their passion, I want them to explore and to have the resources to take it further. I think that’s probably how I’m most effective not just financially but in terms of really giving them the tools and giving them the confidence to go forward in something that maybe is untested. Because that’s exactly what I did as a kid. I started skating and it was the furthest thing from cool you could do. I just kept at it because I loved it. I didn’t know I was going to have any sort of career out of it, and I feel very fortunate that that’s what happened. But at the same time, I want them to have that same desire and passion in their life.

Totally. That’s great. I think anybody in any career or any pursuit can relate to that. I know I do. I used to work in IT, and I was there in what many would call a soul-crushing corporate job. I just like making people laugh and making memes and stuff, and now I get to do cool stuff like talk to you on the phone.

That’s exactly it. You never know where it’s going to take you, and if you embrace the challenges of it, you’ll go further than you ever imagined.

And I think that that lesson is so important for kids, the lesson of doing what you love, but also learning every aspect of it and being up for the challenge if things don’t go the way you expect, because those are probably the moments that are more defining and probably more important.

Exactly. Like that video with your daughter where you were helping her overcome her fear and go down the ramp on the board. So cool.

Oh, thank you. Yeah, I just set my phone in a cup that was nearby. Mostly because I knew that she would want to see it. I knew that if she did it, she was going to be excited about it and maybe not do it again, so I just wanted her to have documentation for herself. And then I thought it was such an interesting experience to see her have that doubt, but then have the confidence to really try it, and I was encouraging but I wasn’t trying to be overbearing or intrusive on her thought process.

So I felt like that was a fun thing to watch unfold, and that’s why I shared it with people.

I think the reason I loved it so much and related to it was your excitement. You were fired up. Amped up for her. Did she feel the same way?

She was very excited. She actually ran back up to do it again, because she didn’t want to lose that confidence that she had. I think that she thought she didn’t do it as well as she could have. So she ran back up and did it again. That particular ramp is actually at my office, so whenever she ends up at my office, her first go-to is to go up there to make sure that she can still do it.

With the Rad Dad Squad, I feel like a “rad dad” to me is when you’re able to get down on your kids’ level and play with them and do the things that they like to do, and love it just as much as they do because they do…

It gives them the self-confidence to keep doing it, and as long as you’re doing it and not being intrusive at the same time, that’s obviously a fine line. But the idea of this whole campaign with the rad dad squad is that we want to recognize those moments and those fathers that are really putting out that effort, and getting into what their kids are doing. Being silly, but also being engaged. I’m sure they do it to very little appreciation. So we want to recognize that.

I relate to that. That’s part of our goals at The Dad to recognize modern, involved dads who are going above and beyond and give them that recognition they may not get otherwise.

Right.

A little controversial here, but I want you to rate the Bagel Bites jingle in terms of musical artistry on a scale of 1 to 10.

You mean, “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime?”

You got it.

I’m going to give it an 8, just in terms of memorization. And concise, or you know, impact. Effective impact. Because it’s not like you have to sing it all the way through to get there. It’s very to the point. I like that. It’s a concise message.

I consider it a commercial masterpiece. I ask this because in your commercial in 2002, the jingle was different. It was sort of like a hard rock remix. So I want to ask you if you were involved in that decision.

I was not directly involved in that decision, no. But I’m honored that my inclusion changed the vibe enough that I got my own signature version. Signature cover, let’s put it that way.

Yeah. The Tony Hawk remix of the Bagel Bites theme.

Yeah, the punk cover of the Bagel Bites jingle, absolutely. I brought that to the world.


Thanks for the chat, Tony.

If you’re a rad dad, you can chat with him too. 3 winners will be inducted into the Rad Dad Squad later in June and will get to hang with Tony on his skate ramp. Just post a video of your own rad dad moments using #RadDadSquad and #sweepstakes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get back to the grind.

Dad of the Month, April 2019: Mike McGowan

(Mike McGowan)

We are happy to announce The Dad of the Month for April 2019: Mike McGowan. Throughout his fatherhood journey, Mike has continuously stepped up in a big way to be a positive inspiration in his kids’ lives. Read about Mike in the nomination from his stepson:

“This is my stepdad. His name is Mike. He is the greatest man on the planet. He has been there for me since I was 12 years old.

My biological father was a drug addict and criminal, but my mom refused for me to be exposed to that. I grew up with my mom, grandma, and grandpa and they took good care of me, but I never had a dad to talk to. I was bullied and picked on constantly at school. I never stood up for myself and was often depressed.

The first time I met Mike, even though I was little, I told him to never hurt my mom’s feelings, and he obliged. He’s been in the picture ever since. I put that man through hell and he never gave up on me. I could have easily succumbed to addiction, but Mike treated me like his own son and kept me on the right path.

Before Mike met my mom he was married to a woman named Sue with 3 children from a previous relationship. Without hesitation he became a father to them. Sue and Mike also had a child together, my half-brother, Stephen. Mike and my brothers lost Sue to a grueling battle of cancer. All along, Mike was an unwavering pillar of love and support for everyone.

In 2013 our family tragically lost Stephen, Mike’s only biological son. Stephen was a soldier in the army. Even then, Mike remained our rock and everyone’s shoulder to lean on. That Christmas, my wife and I decided to legally change my name to McGowan to honor Mike, who is truly my father. We also changed my son’s name to McGowan, because Mike deserves to have his name carried on by the next generation. He is my superhero and I believe more than anything that he deserves this.”

To celebrate Mike’s tireless contributions to his family, we’re giving him $500 and special edition dad gear. Enjoy. Thank you for being a role model for your kids and for dads everywhere. We salute you.

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

Dad of the Month, March 2019: Juan Bustamante

(Juan Bustamante)

We are happy to announce The Dad of the Month for March 2019: Juan Bustamante. A true pillar of fatherhood in both his family and in the community, we salute you, Juan. Read about Juan in the nomination from his family:

“Juan is a veteran of the United States Navy, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He then joined the Los Angeles Police Department where he has been for over 10 years.

Juan is the perfect person for this type of recognition because he is not only an amazing role model in the community but he is also a father of 4 with another on the way! He has 16, 14, and 6-year-old daughters and a 4-year-old son with another baby boy on the way, due in May. Juan loves his children and goes above and beyond for them on a daily basis. He works nights and weekends to be able to be home early morning to help take the kids to school. Then he sleeps, picks them up, spends time with the family, and does it all over again.

When Juan isn’t patrolling the streets of South LA or with his family, he mentors children from the Watts area with a non-profit organization called Operation Progress. Juan loves giving back to the community because of his belief that all children deserve a father figure present to guide, protect, and teach them about things they typically wouldn’t be able to, given the geographic area they come from. Operation Progress opens many doors for these kids and Juan is there as a chaperone at every event.

The major obstacle Juan faces is battling his PTSD. Like many veterans, it’s an everyday struggle not just for him but for those of us closest to him. There are good days and bad days, but regardless he always takes care of his duties as a father and husband.

I am proud to be a part of his family and be personally impacted by all the good that he does.”

To celebrate Juan’s tireless contributions to his family and the community, we’re giving him $500 and special edition dad gear. Enjoy. And try to squeeze in a nap if you can. You deserve it, man!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

Baby Cheese Challenge Hot Take: Throw Cheese At Dads, Not Babies

(Joel Willis)

You may have noticed the latest absurd internet craze: throwing cheese at babies. Yes. For real.

Here at The Dad we’ve been asked to participate. But… c’mon.

Here’s the challenge we’d rather see: kids throwing cheese at dads.

Make it happen, internet.

Winter Is Here, And So Is The Official Game of Thrones Season 8 Trailer

(YouTube/HBO)

Spoiler warning of course.

Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) was recently quoted in Entertainment Weekly, describing the grueling 54-day shoot for a battle scene, “Nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It’s night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn’t stop. You can’t get sick, and you have to look out for yourself because there’s so much to do that nobody else can do… There are moments you’re just broken as a human and just want to cry.”

Coincidentally enough, that’s exactly what it’s like being a parent.

Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres April 14 on HBO.

Father Figures: This is Fatherhood

(Joel Willis)

“The most unflattering photo of me ever? Easily top 3. But posting anyway because THIS IS FATHERHOOD. Pulled up my camera roll this morning to get a The Dad meme and saw that my wife snuck my phone at 6am to snap this. I literally laughed out loud when I saw it. My son has an ear infection and snuck in our bed in the night. I know it’s cliche and I don’t always think this way but lately I’ve been feeling like time is getting away from me, and the kids are growing up too fast. So any moment I can get like this, I’ll take it. #NoFilter #ILiterallyWokeUpLikeThis #RealChinsHaveCurves

– Joel Willis, Executive Editor of The Dad

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

A Dumb Guide To Making A Smart Home

HomeAutoFeature2

Look, some dads are tech masters who are always on top of the latest thing, but I just hadn’t thought about home automation before. I had Alexa, and loved it, but I figured smart lights and everything would mean rewiring the whole house. But then I was part a “favorite things” gift exchange and someone gave me a pack of four smart outlets, and it was a huge “Oh, duh” moment.

To have a smart home, you don’t have to reprogram your whole house’s electricity…you just take remote control of an outlet. I downloaded the Smart Life app, plugged in one of the outlets and held down the button until it blinked.

smartoutlet

With my phone connected to the wifi, they synced up and were good to go. I grew up with frustratingly slow tech, and had to deal with computer virus hell in the 90s, so it’s still crazy to me how intuitive and quick most things can work now! I could plug in anything to this outlet: a lamp, the Christmas tree, a surge protector connected to all devices in the room, and control it all from my phone.

Anakin
(GIphy/)

Now, the next phase of any conquest is delegation. I enabled the Smart Life skill in the Alexa app so I could use it to control the smart outlets. Fun Pro tip: You can reprogram Alexa’s response word to be “Computer.” So for a while I could say “Computer, lights” and the lights would go on or off! It was basically like being a starfleet captain all the time. Word of caution though: you say the word “computer” way more often than you think you do. It’ll hear you, man. It’ll hear you.

Of course once I got started, I became hooked. I wanted to connect full rooms and the outdoor lighting. I wanted to control the thermostat and the garage door. I wanted unlimited power! So, my next step was buying several smart switches.

smartswitch

These work the same way the outlets do, but for the internal stuff, and even the nicer ones only run for about $20. They allow voice, remote and timed control of anything that isn’t plugged in – ceiling lighting and fans and so on. I installed them myself, but it’s a little more complicated so no shame in hiring a professional for this part. It was still way easier than the complete rewiring I’d always imagined, and setup with Smart Life was just as easy as the outlets.

Now I have 6 smart outlets and 4 smart switches on the grid. With Alexa, it’s super easy to create groups for different rooms, like: Family Room, Kitchen, Outside, or larger groups like: Whole House.

Alexa Groups

From here, I was basically set to go. Smart Home: Activate! But I tend to dive…deeper.

There’s a section in the app called “Routines,” and it’s key. With it, I schedule all of my groups to turn on and off depending on day and time. For example, the box fans in all our bedrooms (#whitenoise4lyfe) are programmed to turn off, while the lights all turn on just before alarm time every morning. This is usually enough to wake up my kids without an alarm!

 

Alexa Routines

All of the downstairs lights are on when my wife gets up at an ungodly hour for her workout. My outdoor lights turn on and off at the appropriate times. The customization possibilities are awesome. Routines can also be voice-controlled, and you can make your voice commands whatever you want by typing it in the app.

So when I say “Alexa it’s TV time!” she says, “Heck yeah let’s get this party started” and turns on the Family Room.

AlexaCommand

You can also use these routines to mess with your kids. When I ask “Alexa, who is the best?” she responds with “Joel is the best” and that is an airtight argument from an omnipresent computer controlling our entire lives. 

Now I have a Nest thermostat, a Roomba, and a Chamberlain garage door opener, all controllable through Alexa or by a schedule.


I was really impressed by how simple and easy it was to get all this up and running. The big takeaway for me was realizing that having a smart home wasn’t something that’s just for super rich people living in future homes. I know there’s more that could be done, and as prices on the tech come down, I’ll probably automate more stuff. Eventually, I will achieve the ultimate goal of an automated breakfast machine, like from Back to the Future III.

 

 

The Dad loves cool stuff, and we want to share it with you. We are a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program, so we may earn a fee if you buy stuff from links featured here. But this was a true story, and it happened mostly before that whole arrangement, so no bullshit.