Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oh You Stay at Home? You Must Be Gay



Oh you stay at home? You must be gay.

You're a stay at home dad? When are you going to get your balls back?

Man up. Stop being such a pussy.

Looks like this dad likes shopping more than his wife. How gay is he?

These are words supposedly spoken by people with some skewed version of what it means to be a "real man".  Believe it or not, the person who asked if a stay at home dad was gay was a woman. The second comment came from a man that another stay at home dad was interacting with on the playground. Why does the choice to stay home instantly lead to a discussion about manhood? It seems to me that doing what is best for your family is truly about being a real man.

Yet, there are contingencies that believe that if you stay home you are less of a man. Unfortunately, these are the men that still cat call to women walking in the street or who belittle women on dating sites because they don't just let men walk all over them. I don't want that for my sons or daughters so why do some teach these toxic examples for our children?

Men today have to constantly define just how masculine they are. Stay at home dads especially with men and even women questioning why they stay at home. Do you actually clean and cook?  You MUST be gay then. To them only gay people apparently clean their homes and prepare meals. If that is so, then yes, I am gay. I am as gay as any man who cooks for people they care about. Have you ever watched Iron Chef? Top Chef? Those people are amazing, they can cook, and guess what? Some of them are men.

Find me at a party and I might be talking with the moms in the kitchen more than the dads from the office. We share the experience of parenting which is not defined by our gender but the commonalities between our jobs. We are all just parents.

These same men still judge you on what you drive. If you traded your Mustang in for a minivan you are suddenly ball-less.  Why does driving a car that fits with your family make you less masculine? If I told you that I used that same Swagger Wagon to haul enough lumber and drywall to build a closet from my own two hands would that make you feel better?

It's sad that in this society we still look at the definition of masculinity as being able to provide financially for your family. If your wife stays home and is the primary caregiver you're considered a real man. How outdated is this notion? Things have changed.

Let me use an analogy that only "real men" would understand. Football. Since its inception, players played without pads or even helmets.  Can you imagine playing today without a helmet? You would probably think that is crazy given the way football is played now and how it has evolved.

As the game changed, so did the equipment. Leather helmets which provided little protection have evolved into skull cradling airbags to protect player's brains.  Rules changed with the game to protect the players as hits became more vicious and more head injuries became common. As the game became faster and hits became more intense, the league altered its rules so it could evolve. Does this mean that football players today are worse athletes than those of the past? Are they less tough? Would you call them pussies?

The definition of fatherhood is evolving while some clearly some men have stayed rooted in the primordial ooze. Commenting on another man's choice to stay home should never be a put down. Tying that in with your inability to believe that women would ever be attracted to a man who takes care of children is pathetic. Most women I have been around in my six years as a stay at home dad, think that a man caring for his children is sexy. Even more so when I mention to my wife that I cleaned the bathrooms and straightened up the house.

Men who stay home are showing their clear dedication to their families and giving their spouses opportunities to live up to their full potential. Because of these men, they can pursue a career that they aspire to reach if only they weren't tied to the home. Many men have given up traditional roles to be present with their children. Many like me, made that choice willingly. I was a teacher and always good at educating children, so it seemed like an easy choice to make. When it came to deciding whether I should let a stranger raise my children or whether it should be me, it was an easy decision.

I used to get this a lot when I was becoming a teacher. People were surprised to find out I was an artist and also a teacher. "I just thought with the way that you look, you would be a gym teacher or something" While I can look imposing, they found it unbelievable that I was more interested in fine art and not football. As an educator I found it imperative that boys had someone to look up to.  Believe me I've come across enough confused young men in need of positive male role models who certainly benefitted from me being there for to help guide them.

If anything, for my son, I have really taught him tools to be the best man he can be. His future spouse is going to thank me for teaching him manners, how to do his own laundry, and how to cook. You can see it in the ways he treats girls his age and his own sisters. It has shown him that staying home is an option if it fits for his family. Being a stay at home dad has taught my son that being a man doesn't have to mean you are tied to an office or job.  It teaches him that he doesn't have to feel pressured to work in a job he hates if in his heart, he wants to stay at home with his children.

Being at home for my daughters, I have taught them how they should be treated with respect and dignity.  I have shown them that a man can be just as loving and caring as woman when it comes to raising the children. I have shown them that limitations should never be put on us because of our gender and that we can accomplish anything despite society's labels. I am teaching them that they can be a stay at home mom or a CEO of a company and anything in between. Hopefully they have learned that whatever they choose, I will love them the same without judgment.

Even though these "real men" can't see that this choice is based purely out of love, I feel sorry for the Voldemorts of masculinity. They haven't experienced the love I've felt with my kids. Sure, I've lost out on some money but I have gained so much more through the struggles and triumphs, tears and laughter, the disappointments and smiling hugs. Those times when they cry out for Daddy in the middle of the night? I look forward to those, most of the time, because they know I am there for them every step of the way and that is how any real man should be.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Aerial Filming With The Ghost Drone



Imagine soaring over a countryside of rolling hills and being able to snap photos from your bird's eye view. Have you ever been to an event where you wish you could just capture the sheer magnitude of your surroundings only to be limited by your camera? I've always been tall and able to take pictures over most people but have you ever wondered what it would be like to take aerial photographs of your favorite vacation spots, a concert, or your kid's graduation?

Now you can, with the Ghost Drone. Drones are traditionally hard to pilot, easy to crash, and expensive. The Ghost Drone was created to address these challenges so you can discover a new way to capture magic around the earth.

The Ghost Drone is a drone controlled by an app on your smartphone. Attach a GoPro and you become an instant filmmaker to makes films that you can star in! The commands are easy for the beginner with one-click commands and the Auto-Follow mode will keep the camera trained on you. Take off, hover, return and land are all pre-programmed for you and the app will alert you when the battery is low. What can't Ghost do?

If you don't think Ghost is amazing yet, Ghost is compatible with GoPro, including Hero4. A smartphone-app controlled 2D gimbal stabilizes your shot. Ghost is also wind resistant, water-proof, with automatic return if the connection is lost. Night mode has LED lights to track drone in the sky. This makes capturing images in these conditions possible.


So you should be asking "Where can I get one?  Go visit the Ghost Drone IndieGoGo Page to get in on the action. But, time is running out! This campaign ends December 10th! Act fast before you miss your chance. Order one now and you can have it as soon as January 2015.

Introducing the Ghost Drone by Ehang from The Ghost Drone by Ehang USA on Vimeo.



FTC Disclaimer : I received a Ghost Drone, app, and developer kit in exchange for a post about the IndieGoGo campaign for the Ghost Drone. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Have Fun and Get Brilliant!


This guest post was brought to you by Larry Bernstein of Me, Myself, and Kids Blog 


What do you want for your children when you send them off to school each morning? Let me guess. You want them to learn. You want them to enjoy their learning.  You want them to have friends.  You want those friends to be children they can count on and feel comfortable confiding in.  Well, what I want for my children is for them to have fun and get brilliant.

I’ve been offering up these instructions ever since my now 10-year old (BR) started kindergarten. After I kissed him – he doesn’t let me do that anymore in front of other children – he’d walk toward the bus, and I would call out, “have fun and get brilliant.”

Prior to this school year, I rarely saw my children off to school (my younger son, SJ, is in 2ndgrade). Like DadNCharge himself, I am an educator. I taught English for the last 11 years in an in inner city high school in Brooklyn. To get to my school, which was more than hour away via public transportation, I had to be out of my house by 6 a.m.  The children were not even up or at least they pretended to be sleeping and stayed in their beds. 

I resigned from my teaching position over the summer to pursue freelance writing and tutoring. As you can imagine, this professional change has led to many other adjustments. One of my favorite changes is that I’m now able to be home a lot more (My least favorite is the unsteady paycheck, but I’ll save that for another post.)  Because I’m home more and have a more flexible schedule, I’ve taken over as the parent in charge in the mornings while my wife heads off to work.  

The boys and I don’t talk much in the morning. I’ve spent years leaving the house before the sun rises and getting on a dark bus where I know no one. Besides, my fellow commuters were not exactly chipper in the morning. Anyway, the boys are content to spend their mornings playing Minecraft and watching You Tube on their Kindles. I’m happy to skim through my email, read the sports page, and check out Facebook.  We talk briefly about what’s going on at school that day as they race to dress, wash up, and make their beds.

It’s while we are walking towards the school building, that I say to them, “Have fun and get brilliant.” I’d like to think of these words as my instructions.  They’re like a "how-to" for the school day. After all, don’t we all need guidance? Let’s see, what shall I do today? I've got it. I’ll have fun and get brilliant. 

These words are also my wishes. I want my children to have fun at school. I sincerely believe that having fun enhances the learning environment.  If children are having fun at school, they’ll want to be there.  Side note: My older son asks to go to school early to get extra math work. Even this ex-English teacher feels happy about that.

School should be a place where they can find a smiling face, a supportive staff member, and a good friend. I want it to be a place where they can run around (during recess that is) and use some of their massive amounts of energy, where they can laugh about their favorite You Tube video, or where they can discuss Minecraft strategy.  

Yet, school is not only about laughs and recess. School has a greater purpose and that is to help students learn. And I want my children to learn everything the teachers have to offer.  Reading, math, science, history, gym, art, etc. - let them take it all in. I want their brains to be like sponges and for them to soak up as much knowledge as they possibly can. I want my children to learn more than what is on the common core curriculum or any other curriculum. I want them to learn what it means to try their best. I want them to learn how to deal with frustration. I want them to learn how to respect their peers. I want them to learn that they don’t have to follow the crowd. I want them to learn that learning is cool.

When the school day ends, I pick up the boys and we head back to the car. And I have a question, but now I don’t even have to ask it. BR and SJ are eager to share with me.  The ride home is filled with stories about drawing pictures, doing math trees, learning technology, eating cupcakes, spelling contests, and playing Lego. In other words, they are having fun and getting brilliant.

My wishes and instructions are being followed to a "T" and I’m thrilled.




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