Monday, November 17, 2014

Why I Bought My Son a BB Gun For Christmas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ItsADaisy #CollectiveBias


Dad! Dad! I got a bullseye! A bullseye! he exclaimed rushing up to me with the target with the biggest smile on his face.  "I can't believe it. This is only like, my third time trying! I'm good at this!"

He had just shot his first BB gun and after the first two waves of failure, had started to put the sighting of the target together with my help.  A wave of emotions came over me as I remember my own grandfather taking me into the woods next to his house and showing me how to shoot pop cans on a log.I can still remember the first time I knocked one off the log. I looked at him a long time just watching him while he shot and witnessed his determination turn into success. It was then that I decided that it was time to pass on the tradition. I was going to get a cool Christmas present for my son, a BB gun.

We were spending a long weekend at a summer boy scout camp, his first time camping overnight in a real camp where the tents were filled with spiders the size of small birds sleeping on a cot on top of a wooden palette bolstered by cement blocks. It was a canvas tent supported by poles but it had vents on all sides meaning it wasn't sealed and the creepy crawlies came a calling at night while you slept.

I'm not the camping type but I was doing it for him, for the experience we were learning together as father and son. Out in the woods "roughing it". Just two guys and their sleeping bags and three giant spiders feasting on the endless supply of bugs flying in through the gaps in our tent flaps. What I found was, I was enjoying this experience with him despite the smell that was emanating from his dirty clothes bag and we bonded over activities that I forgot about from my own childhood, namely shooting the BB gun.

My son isn't particularly blessed when it comes to sports. He unfortunately inherited almost all of my gangly awkwardness. What he does excel in is based on rules and procedures. He might be a scientist one day as he needs a verbal list of operations for the day to function. I knew that he could follow directions and be responsible with my guidance. I knew that he was ready for a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun.

My family is not usually into guns though I had a Daisy BB gun of my own as a kid and I always treated it with the highest respect. Learning gun safety is incredibly important and there have to be ground rules about owning a BB gun. In fact, Daisy educates roughly one million of America's youth a year through their Ten Lesson Shooting Curriculum about BB gun use and safety. Daisy's educational curriculum has been around since 1948.

If you're looking for cool Christmas gifts or gifts for boys or girls this holiday season, consider a Daisy BB gun. I found mine at a Walmart in the Sporting Goods section near me though it took some time to track down the model I wanted.

The Red Ryder, the most basic model of the Daisy air gun line and the one I had as a kid. The Red Ryder is the perfect choice for Ages 10+, with a single lever action cocking style it makes it easy to load the gun without it being too difficult to pump. Other series like the 880, which are multi-pump action are better suited for older kids ages 16 and up because it takes some strength to effectively operate it.

Before we even took at look at the gun, I sat my son down and had a talk about gun safety. I quizzed him on the use of the gun and we came up with these rules:

  1. The safety should be on between each shot. You only release the safety when you are ready to shoot. 
  2. The gun pointed is always pointed downrange and away from people
  3. Be aware of your line of sight and ensure anyone watching you is safely behind you. 


In addition to that, I laid the ground rules down. No use of the gun without me, his friends are not allowed to see it without me present, no friends are to ever handle the gun, and that only targets were acceptable to shoot. As added precaution, I keep the ammo in a locked box away from the gun and purchased a trigger lock that has a key that I keep as an extra measure.

We also had an honest discussion about peer pressure. I gave him scenarios where his friends might get him to take the gun out and show them. I was proud of the way he responded and how mature he was about what were the right and wrong ways to talk with friends about the gun. He was told not to be boastful or talk about it at school. This is something we are keeping within our family and it is only something he can do with me and that bragging about it would only lead to bad things.



After that, we headed to the backyard and set up a range. I bought a target trap to prevent errant BBs and picked an area in our yard away from any houses or where a ricocheting BB could do any damage. Equipped with our safety glasses, we put our rules into effect and shot together for the first time away from camp. It was awesome and I was so proud of him.


If you feel your child is ready for a Daisy BB gun of their own, then enter below for our giveaway.

  • Winner will receive a $100 gift card to Walmart for purchase of a Daisy BB Gun of your own. 
  • Open to USA residents ONLY. 
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter and provide a valid email address upon winning. 
  • Note: GIFT CARDS WILL NOT ARRIVE IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS 
  • Winner of the giveaway will be notified by email. In the event that you are chosen, you will be given 24 hours to respond to claim your prize. If not, another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Thursday, November 13, 2014

Over The Hill And Loving It


In party stores across the country there is a section of the store that is relegated to black and white tones. The party favors are canes and old timer glasses and the decorations say Happy 40th, you're Over The Hill.

Today is my 40th birthday and I'm not sad. I am not lamenting my life so far because my life statistically is half over for most American males. I'm not thinking it's all downhill from here, I am hoping it is instead. Sometimes the hardest part is getting up that hill.

As a kid, I used to head over to my elementary school where there was a sledding hill. It was really just a drainage ditch, built to handle the runoff for the neighborhood rainwater and it seemed as gigantic as Mount Everest. Kids would fight in the bottom of the bowl like an inverted Thunderdome with a long way to run to get out.

It seemed like it would take forever to climb to the top especially in deep Chicago snow.  At times my legs would get heavy and I felt I couldn't go on. Sometimes I stumbled or lost my footing. Despite the slow, methodical march up the hill what awaited me at the top was the promise of a thrill.

The great thing about getting over the hill is the run down the other side. The cool breeze running past your face, the speed, the elation ; the promise that if you held on long enough you could glide forever farther than anyone else. I'm all about enjoying those moments on the other side.

Yes, I am looking forward to the other side of the hill, to being over it and seeing just what is waiting for me on the other side. Like a water slide with a long climb, the journey there can be tedious but if you don't take the time to enjoy the slide, it will be over before you hit the bottom.

 It's already been a journey up the hill . In my forty years on Earth, I graduated college, became a well respected teacher, have been lucky enough to be married to my best friend for 11 years, have three beautiful kids who I get to stay home with.

I started a blog which lead to four TV appearances and a viral post, became a freelance writer for a website, and founded a dads group in Philadelphia. This year I was elected to a board position at The National At Home Dad Network and even visited The White House!

The best part of all of it is being surrounded by people that love me and that I love back. Life is what you make of it and no number stands in the way of that. So when someone you know finds out it's your 40th Birthday and they try to tell you "You're Over The Hill" just tell them Yes I am. I'm standing at the top of that hill and looking down and I'm ready for the thrill of my life.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Get Noticed, Be Memorable With Minted



There is nothing like a first impression. It can be the way you make eye contact, a response with quick wit, or something you said that made them laugh. No matter how that first contact goes, what you say is  often dependent on how you say it.

I've found that to be true in the world of blogging. People get to know you through your words and your online presence. Often, when attending a blogging conference you wonder just how that person will come across in real life. Is their personality as big as they are online? Are they more shy or introverted? How do I come off to people in person? I want people too take notice of my writing but I also want to make just as good an impression when meeting face to face. I want to be memorable.

It has been a few years since I last printed out business cards for my blog. So when it came to re-designing my blog's business cards I knew I wanted a product that was eye catching but professional with options for me to customize to fit my needs. That's when I found Minted.com I immediately loved their designs and was drawn to create my own stationary for the people in my life as well as new business cards that were a reflection of myself.

The site is very easy to use with customizable designs that are reviewed by a graphic designer before final printing.  Their stationary for men section in particular was impressive with so many different designs with a wide range of styles. Uploading images from my computer was easy and once I created an account, those same images were autoplugged into featured cards on their site to give me a preview of what to expect.


Minted not only does business cards and stationary but also specializes in holiday cards, invitations, baby announcements and cards for every holiday and celebration. In addition to their paperie, they sell gifts and party decor as well which makes Minted your one stop shop for all of your celebrations' needs.

Some holiday cards even are foil pressed which can enhance the beauty of the cards and adds a little holiday sparkle. Almost all of their designs give you options to play with to truly customize your experience.


The DadNCharge family holiday card?

So why settle for cards that everyone is using from other photo stationary sites? Go to Minted and make something unique that no one else will have. Make your mark and make it memorable. Make it a card that people won't forget and even more likely to be resting on their mantel this holiday season.




**FTC Disclaimer : I received compensation through Minted.com in exchange for the review of this website. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mo' Money, Less Problems - Movember Year 2


It comes in scraggly and multicolored. If I were a Christmas tree, I would be the sparsest of the bunch, a veritable Charlie Brown Christmas tree of mustaches. I can go for days without anything showing up of interest. You might even look at me and say "There's some dirt on your upper lip"

My wife is not a fan of facial hair. Women live in one camp or the other but never both. For the guys that have always had beards and mustaches they can't imagine themselves without one and for those of us who stay clean shaven, we wonder how they get past all the itching. Must be the beard oil. Yes. You heard me right. Guys are putting oil in their beards and mustaches to keep them tamer.

In last year's campaign, a combination of dad forces came together with the ultimate goal of raising money and awareness far and wide. This year with The National At Home Dad Network, City Dads Group, Dad 2.0 Summit, and Dad Bloggers everywhere, we aim even higher.  Head here if you would like to join our team or DONATE TO MY PAGE

Last year I made it my personal goal to raise as much money as was possible for Movember. I rapped with other dad bloggers (see video below) and raised $900 in my efforts to dedicate my donations to my father. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor so there is a chance that I could also one day have it. Remembering what he went through has motivated me to educate and support the Movember Movement.

My dad pins me before the Us Too Walk, Run, Roll in Chicago

Movember is also about testicular cancer and men's mental health. More than four times as many men as women commit suicide in the United States. That is a staggering reality check. Sometimes we think as men that we have to shoulder all the responsibility and we rarely turn for help when we need it most. If you do suffer from anxiety, depression. or suicidal thoughts please seek help. I hope that my Movember efforts individually and as a large group of dads, we can raise lots of money to help as many people as we can.

Please donate to my page or consider joining the dad/blogger team to join in. Follow my progress on my DadNCharge Facebook page , Instagram and Twitter by following #30DaysofMovember where I will create a song akin to the 12 Days of Christmas chronicling my wife's reaction to the mustache as it grows.

Behind every Mo is a reason to participate. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor. Through screening and early detection, they found it in its early stages and took it out. I am dedicating my MO to my dad this year. So men, put down your razors and join me this month and grow your own Dirt Squirrel. You can donate to me on MY MO SPACE HERE. It's November and I am ready to MO!





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Take A Trip To Beauty Land



Want to find music that transcends a genre? If you're a little bit country, a tad bit rockabilly, love folk music mixed with a Top 40 flavor then Dani and her new album Beauty Land is a fit for you.  Every song is a story that you can almost see right before you and with lyrics that are based in fantasy and magic, your children will love what she has to say and will be singing along in no time.

The story of Beauty Land is written and narrated by Dani. It centers around two lead characters named Jimmy and Lulu. They are brother and sister and live in an enchanted forest. They get captured one day by the evil Witch and dream about escaping to Beauty Land. Will they make it out? And if so will they be able to conquer all the obstacles that lie ahead? This album will tell you the story of their journey from start to finish.

Our favorite track that got us moving was Skipping Through The Woods, a fast paced romp through the forest that reminded me of a Mumford & Sons. This song and many like it in the album are interactive and harken to the high energy and enthusiasm that had me comparing her to Genevieve Goings of Choo Choo Soul. In tracks like Jimmy & The Giant the kids will be listening intently while rocking out in participation songs and learning a new line dance in Beauty Land.

Dani switches gears many times in the album, mixing a great number of songs that will get you moving but following them up with sweet, melodic songs like Run and Fly and Ocean, Dani shows off her Sarah McLachlan-esque voice that will wow you. She could easily be cast as a Disney princess as you can hear that quality in her voice.

If you're kids like fantasy and playing pretend and if you love songs that tell a story then you should buy Dani's Beauty Land now available on Amazon and iTunes for your kids today. Check out Dani's video below and her website 





Monday, November 3, 2014

The 30 Minute Dinner with Smithfield Marinated Pork Tenderloin


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


I'm a parent who doesn't have time for fancy recipes. Everyday the kids utter three painful words "What's for dinner?" Between me helping them with their homework, keeping the 3 year old occupied, and straightening the house, somewhere in there I have to make a meal they will all eat.

On most days, my wife will call from the office and give me the "I'm on my way back from work" which means a timer just went off in my head and I basically have 30 minutes to make magic happen in the kitchen. With one kid who hates cheese, one who hates meat, and another who only likes salami and cheese sandwiches I try to keep things simple.  Whipping up sauces and reductions just isn't going to happen. Ain't nobody got time for that.

If you've read my blog before you know that I abhor the grocery store and grocery shopping. In fact, the less amount of time I have to spend in there the better. Time for me could be better spent playing with the kids or actually going to the bathroom by myself for a change. So when I saw that Walmart had Smithfield pre-marinated pork tenderloin all prepped and ready to be cooked I said Let's do this. Let's #PutPorkontheMenu.



What I like about the Smithfield Golden Rotisserie Flavor Pork Tenderloin is that it is already marinated. That saves me some steps because the flavor is already there and the mess is contained in a sealed package. There are many  different flavors of Smithfield Marinated Pork to choose from with choices like Garlic & Herb, Mesquite , Golden Rotisserie, Portobello Mushroom, and Peppercorn & Garlic you are sure to find one that fits your family.  Be sure to USE THIS COUPON to receive a $ .75 discount  of Smithfield Marinated Pork at your nearest Walmart while supplies last.


I went with the Golden Rotisserie Flavor Pork Tenderloin and paired it with potatoes, tomatoes, and asparagus to create the 30 Minute Dinner.  Visit the Smithfield Website for more recipes and visit Smithfield on Facebook for more information on their fine products.


Ingredients:


  • Olive Oil
  • Fingerling potatoes, 1 lb
  • Asparagus, 1 bunch
  • Cherry Tomatoes, sliced (About 1 cup) 
  • Slivered Almonds (1/8 cup) 
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Smithfield Marinated Pork 

Directions:


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the middle of the stove
  2. Boil water in a medium saucepan for the potatoes
  3. Prepare your grill on medium/high heat and lightly grease the rack so the meat doesn't stick
  4. Wash asparagus and pat dry. Place it in a shallow baking dish in a single layer 
  5. Use 1 tsp of olive oil to coat asparagus and sprinkle on salt to season
  6. Put the pork on the hot grill, rotating every 5-7 minutes to get a nice char on the outside to seal in the juices. Continue to cook the pork 20 minutes for every pound or until the interior temperature reaches 145 degrees F in the thickest part of the tenderloin
  7. Cook the asparagus for 20 minutes, moving them around halfway through at the 10 min mark
  8. At the first ten minute mark, add the potatoes to the pot and cook for 10 minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the potato. Drain and cover to keep warm
  9. Add the cherry tomatoes and almonds to the asparagus dish and return to the oven for 10 min.
  10. Take the pork off the grill once it has reached temperature and let it rest for 2 minutes
  11. Slice potatoes and season with salt and pepper
  12. Cut slices of the tenderloin and plate with the veggies 





Friday, October 31, 2014

For The Love of Jellyfish : A DIY Halloween Costume


It was her first time in the city of Chicago. "The skyscrapers are touching the sky!" she exclaimed when she first saw them. She looked out onto Lake Michigan and said "It looks like it goes on forever!" These are the observations of a five year old girl.

She was armed with a journal and a box of crayons to chronicle her findings. She stretched out on the concrete steps and began to feverishly draw a lake and buildings that ran off the paper. Below it, she drew a small blob with strings hanging, two eyes, and the widest smile. She was ready for the jellies.

It all started with a trip to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. They had opened a jellyfish exhibit and I wanted the kids to see what it was all about. It changed Sarah forever.  She walked into the exhibit hall not knowing what to expect but the colored lights illuminated the room like a cave of sparkly gems.

Her curly hair bounced with each step, the spirals of twisted locks hanging limply seemed to dance with every step. The slow motion way she approached the first tank of dancing ballerinas flitting up and then down made me feel like I was underwater. I caught the moment when she fell in love with jellyfish when she put her hand up to the tank, turned to me and said "I just love them!"


In the gift shop, she only wanted a jellyfish shirt and for Christmas asked for a jellyfish plush and a jellyfish tank.
It was amazing how many things we found that were jellyfish related. 

But this Halloween, I wasn't sure what to do when I asked her what she wanted to be and she said "A JELLYFISH!" So, this is what I came up with:

DIY JELLYFISH COSTUME

Materials:

  • 1 Bubble umbrella (I found these on Amazon)
  • 2 Packages of Twirly Whirlys ( I found these on Amazon)
  • 1 Glow necklace, (2) Glow bracelets 
  • 1 Tutu or skirt (we already had this in our dress up bin) 
  • Top and bottom to coordinate with the color of your Jelly
  • Sharpie Marker

Directions:

  1. Open up bubble umbrella
  2. Tie (8)  Twirly Whirlys to each spine on the inside of the umbrella
  3. Draw a face on the Jelly, if desired and let dry
  4. Attach remaining (4) Twirly Whirlys to the glow necklace by tying them in place. This will add some extra interest at night during trick or treating and will help people see them. 
  5. Child only has to dress in clothes appropriate for the weather and can wear the tutu over that. 
  6. Child holds umbrella while walking and because it is clear, can see through it. Umbrella comes in handy if the weather is damp or wet!

If you like this idea and want to see more,
Happy Halloween!




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish


If you found a book that delighted not only you but your kids, you know that book is a keeper. It's the kind of book that they want you to read over and over again until they head to bed, forsaking all other books.  It's that book that you grab before bedtime to spend quality bonding over a favorite story; that one that makes you laugh every time that never gets old.

A book like this should be simple and sweet with likeable characters and artwork that only enhances the story. This is the book that I would read to my children and it is called Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish by Christopher Routly. It is a true testament to his job as a stay at home dad, that Routly understands his audience and garnered inspiration from his own sons who appear in the book as tigers.

The story is about two brothers packing and getting ready to visit their grandparents. Both boys are trying to decide what to bring when the older brother reveals what he has packed, a jellyfish! The prose in the book flows as it should, not clunking itself into the night as you travel through the book.

The rhymes are delightful and surprising as Chris challenges your kids to learn words that will only increase their vocabulary. He doesn't dumb it down like many books do, and that drew me in because I don't oversimplify things for for my children. Your kid is sure to impress the other kids on the playground when they are dropping big vocab words.

Here's my favorite part as an artist. The illustrations. I'll be honest with you. When I go to the library and start picking out books for the kids, if your illustrations don't wow me, it's going right back on the shelf. Maybe that is unfair to those books that have a great story but when it comes to a picture book, that is the quality I am looking for in a successful book. Routly will not disappoint when it comes to his bright and fun illustrations. As an artist and illustrator, Chris knows what the kids like and it shows.


His characters are the type that you would see in a children's cartoon and you can imagine the world in which they live in pretty easily. He has been making loveable characters since his Now I Eat My ABCs and The Animalphabet but debuts his Jellyfish character after a sketch session with his son who requested he draw a jellyfish because "Dada, sometimes you need a jellyfish!" Watch the video below to hear from Chris how it all started.

I've become a backer in Routly's Kickstarter campaign for Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish because I not only believe in the book but don't want to miss out in the ensuing Jellyfish craze that is sure to follow. This year my daughter (6) asked me to come up with a jellyfish costume for Halloween because well, jellyfish are cool especially when they are the cartoon variety and can't sting you.



So, it is time to get on the Christopher Routly bandwagon if you know what is good for you. If you want to read more about his books you can visit his blog The Daddy Doctrines. Head over to his Kickstarter and support his latest book.  The next time you are packing for a big trip, you just might want to pack a jellyfish. You never know how it will come in handy!