Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Filthy Play Is The Best Play

This post brought to you by Maytag. The content and opinions expressed below are that of DadNCharge.


The explorer hunting for treasure comes to the mighty river and has to decide, is it shallow enough to traverse? Should she jump in with both feet or use a stick to measure it's depth? The bank is slippery with mud, the bugs are enormous and swarming, but the water is clear and sparkling in the afternoon sun. The glint from the shiny rocks just below the surface of the cool water catches her eye. There's treasure in there, she just knows it.

Along the bank, the willow tree sways in the breeze and it's roots exposed by erosion, drink up the water rushing by. It's in these tangled roots that the shiniest of rocks lay in the deepest part of the river. The only way to get to them is to get filthy.

Armed with her trusty Crocs and butterfly net, my brave explorer plunges into the depths and emerges with the treasure, the shiny Wissahickon schist made smooth by decades of rushing water.


Coming up from the bank she is wet and dirty covered with rocks and dirt, a fistful of treasure swinging in the pink net as carefree as her attitude about getting dirty while playing outside; the pebbles dotting her skin like a stippled pen and ink drawing. This is childhood, this is play and filthy play is the best kind of play.

The summer is a perfect time for this kind of play whether it be playing in a creek, making sandcastles on the beach or sliding into second base while playing baseball. Getting dirty means that kids are exploring and having fun. We all know that kids love to get filthy.

It's our job as parents to make sure they don't go walking around that way all the time though. Having a good washing machine and dryer can make all the difference in dealing with those moments when life gets messy.

Maytag has been a top trusted American home and commercial appliance brand for decades. That's why Maytag made the New Top Load washer and dryer pair is better built because they are designed, engineered and assembled in America and have the power to clean the filthiest of stains made by our world explorers.

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Do you have a kid who exemplifies what "filthy play" is all about? Starting on August 3 and running for six weeks enter the Filthiest Plays of the Week Contest brought to you by MLB and Maytag laundry. As the official washer and dryer of MLB, Maytag is calling ball players and children of all ages to upload photos or videos of their sliding, diving, or just “filthy plays” using “#MyFilthiestPlay” on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @MLB and using #MyFilthiestPlay. You can win weekly prizes like MLB Gift Cards and a Maytag Top Load Washer and Dryer pair and may be eligible for the opportunity of a lifetime – a grand prize trip to the World Series!

Kids need to get filthy and they need to explore their world. Whether the dirt comes from a slide into home plate or the banks of a river, the end result is the same. Their filthy play means they are outside and active which is good for their well being. You'll enjoy watching them explore knowing that Maytag is right there batting clean up when you need them.



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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Smart Is The New Cool


How do you keep two excited little girls in suspense for three days? You label a box Top Secret, take it on vacation with you, and forbid them to ever open it.

I didn't intentionally do that but we were taking our last vacation before school and I thought at some point we might be able to discover what was inside together while away. Things got busy and we never found the time so we ended up taking the box home in the car with us while their little imaginations ran wild trying to guess what was inside. After the six hour drive they forgot all about it and stopped asking.

When we finally got home and started unpacking everything from the car, the Top Secret box appeared again and it sparked their interest. Can we please, please, please open it now? they chimed in unison. When I agreed, they hightailed it inside. When I went inside I felt like I was in my own personal version of the movie Seven . What's in the box? What's in the box!

I wasn't completely cruel as I had set up why they were opening the box prior to vacation. It was all set up by having them watch Project Mc² on Netflix before we left. Project Mc² is a great show on Netflix about four tween girls who secretly work for a secret spy organization called NOV8 (pronounced "innovate") and use their specialized talents to save the world.

You see, I want more for my girls than just dolls and dress up. I want them to know that anything is possible and part of that is teaching them all about S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).  Kids who learn these skills early in life are taught to be more exploratory and less fearful that their dreams are unreachable because they are women. Each character in the show has a specialized science related ability lead by secret agent McKeyla McAlister played by Mika Abdalla who starts school as the new kid under false pretenses.

She is discovered by Camryn Coyle (Ysa Penarejo) the tech expert, Bryden Bandweth (Genneya Walton) the internet/computer specialist, and Adrienne Atoms (Victoria Vida) the culinary chemist. The four girls combine their strengths and love for all thinks geeky to thwart evil. Lead by The Quail played by Danica McKellar as their boss and coach, the girls discover that things work better when they have faith in each other, their talents, and most of all their friendship.


I bet by now you are still wondering what was actually in the box. Netflix helped my own girls by sending a Top Secret NOV8 Training Challenge to help them complete their training and join ranks with McKeyla, Adrienne, Camryn, and Bryden. Just like the girls in the show, my daughters were excited to show me what they could do.




There are plenty of tween moments in the show but my girls laughed at the awkwardness of that age and laughed where they should have laughed because the show is full of interesting characters and many plot twists and turns.

If you are looking for a show that is uplifting to young girls then Project Mc² on Netflix is the show for you. Project Mc² is like having that A Ha! moment in science class or solving that equation on the smart board in front of the class. A show that uplifts the importance of girls mastering S.T.E.A.M? This show proves that smart is indeed the new cool!





Monday, August 17, 2015

Everything You Need is a Quarter Away



I have a quarter in my hand and it's about to give me access to a place I can get everything I need. No, I didn't type that wrong. I said a quarter.

You probably can't get much with a quarter these days. Even "penny candy" isn't really penny candy and I doubt that the gumball machine your kid has his face pressed up against would even take a quarter anymore. Even if you did use that quarter for a gumball, you know the flavor will only last for a few seconds, that is disappointing. It's called buyer's remorse; that feeling that you didn't get the value for what you paid.

Wouldn't it be nice if after you used the quarter and got what you needed, that the quarter would come right back to you, no questions asked? There is a place that provides that. It's called ALDI.

I've had ALDI in my life before while in college when money was tight and I knew I could count on it to help me out when I needed it most. They have been ahead of the curve for a while though, having patrons reuse bags for years before it was even cool and ensuring the safe return of their carts by using something you probably have in your pocket right now, that quarter.

Though it has been many years later and we've both changed and we have both also improved over time. Now, I have a family of five to feed and not just my college self.  I thought that was hard back then and now I am responsible for all of them? Feeding a family of five can be tough while trying to maintain a budget but some things never change. ALDI has always done that by keeping prices low everyday while providing quality products the whole family will love.  One thing that has always remained constant is ALDI's #1 Truth "When deciding between eating well and saving money, always choose both."

Now that we've hit August, the kids are still trying to hold on to those carefree days away from school and adults are trying to use up their stockpiled vacation days for one last getaway before the office starts pulling them back to reality. The question is, do we let them just roll on by or do we go out with a bang? One easy way to keep the good times rolling is by throwing a backyard barbecue complete with the perfect beer.

But, ALDI doesn't have beer, I have to go to a whole other store to make that happen! Not anymore. ALDI has started carrying thirteen different varieties of specialty beer including three of my favorite summer beers. Click here to check availability at your local store. Available while quantities last. Items may not be available in all stores. Labels may vary by location. Prices may vary due to state and local laws.



I have tried the Monterrey Cerveza, Imperium Lager, and  Shore View Lemon Shandy (seasonally available) from the ALDI collection of specialty beers. Their offerings range from IPAs, Ales, Lagers, Hard Cider, and Light Beers, the same as any grocery store but with one simple difference, ALDI makes delicious cost less. The Shore View Lemon Shandy is the perfect summer beer with natural lemon and a touch of coriander spice and the Imperium Lager is for those days that you want something a little heavier but still crisp with light floral aromas, mild malt and hops character and a refreshing finish.

Whether it is kicking back on your porch and enjoying the starry night with your significant other or getting together with neighbors to compare summer notes, ALDI has everything you need to create the perfect pairings for entertaining and summer foods. When I think summer foods, I instantly think barbecue.

On a recent trip to ALDI I bought 7. 5 pounds of pork spareribs, Chef's Cupboard Au Gratin Potatoes, Burman's Honey BBQ sauce, Stonemill Essentials seasoning, Specially Selected 4 Grain Rice Blend, and some asparagus for a side. I bought all of that to feed a family of five or more for $23.64. Let that sink in what a meal at a restaurant might cost and you quickly see the value of eating well and saving money.



So how does the beer fit in to this recipe? The Monterrey Cerveza is a delicately balanced, full flavored light amber lager that is traditionally brewed using selected European barley malt and aromatic hops. It's crisp and refreshing taste is sweet like honey. For that reason, it's a perfect complement to my Braised Honey BBQ Ribs.

Braised Honey BBQ Pork Spareribs with Roasted Asparagus



Ingredients:

Ribs:
1 t. Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt and
1 t. Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper
1 T. Stonemill Essentials Steak Seasoning
1 (18 oz.) Burman's Honey BBQ Sauce*
½ C Baker’s Corner Brown Sugar
(1) 12 oz Monterrey Cerveza

Sides:
1 Package (16 oz) Specially Selected 4 Grain Rice Blend
1 bunch of Asparagus
1 box of Chef's Cupboard Au Gratin Potatoes


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 5-6 people

Directions:

1. Apply the steak seasoning and add brown sugar to sweeten the rub all over the meat


2. Prep the grill by heating it on high (for gas) or preparing coals for barbecue
3. Prep the oven by heating to 250 degrees
4. Sear both sides of the ribs for 3-4 minutes on both sides over high heat. Remove from grill and place in a braising pan. Depending on the size, you may have to cut the slab in half to fit your pan.


5. Pour the Monterrey Cerveza into a large measuring cup or bowl and mix with 3/4ths of a bottle of Honey BBQ Sauce until blended.



6. Pour the beer and BBQ Sauce mixture over the entire slab in the braising pan


7. Cover tightly with tinfoil and braise for 3 hours in the oven.
8. With 30 minutes left, wash and place asparagus with a tablespoon of olive oil in the oven
9. With 15 minutes left, prepare the rice and the Au Gratin potatoes according to the package.
10. Remove ribs at the end of the time and carefully remove tinfoil. Try cutting into a rib, it should go through easily. Reapply BBQ sauce to the top of the ribs from the bottom of the pan or pour some of the remaining on top.



Like this recipe or want to learn more about ALDI products?
"LIKE" ALDI on Facebook  and Enter my GIVEAWAY below



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*Available while quantities last. All products may not be available in all stores. Prices subject to change.

FTC Disclaimer: I was given samples and compensated by ALDI and its constituents for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Play Date That I Like



Isn't it ironic? Don't cha' think? A little too ironic? Yeah, I really do think. 

It's like a guy who professes he doesn't like structured play dates, talking about a band called Play Date?

But in my defense this Play Date is awesome. Greg Attonito formerly of The Bouncing Souls and his wife Shanti Wintergate made this album for kids and parents alike. The promise there is the opportunity to listen to a punk legend turn kindie rock into something me and my kids can rock out to when we are together. A punk rock play date if you will. 

There's a great thing about the musicians of our youth making albums for our children. They were fun when we listened to them back in high school or college and their ability to make great tunes never really diminishes, it's just what their singing about that changes.



It's fitting that Greg and Shanti feature a gramophone emitting a rainbow on the cover because their music is like a cornucopia of sound. Songs like Ninja Pajamas start off slow and melodically sweet but are balanced out with a dope rap by underground rapper P.O.S. in the midst of the keyboards and Shanti's voice lulling you to sleep.

Says Shanti Wintergate about their music "It's important to Greg and myself that we convey a sense of sweetness and the care that we feel for each other in every song. Treating one another with love, care and compassion is one of the most important things that children- along with the rest of us - can learn. This feeling of love and caring finds expression in the way we interact in our songs. It may be the words, the sound, or how our voices play together. Hopefully there will be more than just musical harmony felt in our music."

Ramp up the good times with songs like Ruin Your Appetite which harken back to the style of The Offspring in a song that could easily be written about my four year old's eating habits. One of our favorites is Cardboard Box a song about the possibilities of play that a box can hold for a child which may remind you of the guitar licks and fast paced jams of Veruca Salt.

Interspersed in the the album are sporadic "Public Service Announcements" about broccoli, apples, carrots, and bananas. They are quick little jams heralding the benefits of eating these things. Catchy little tunes that will teach your kids why Folic acid and Vitamin C are good for you and how they help you be healthy.

Round out the album with family friendly anthems like L-O-V-E You and Hug Hug Hug and Play Date celebrates what it feels like to be cared for and loved by someone close to you who will do anything for you.

Play Date's album We All Shine debuts today July 24th and if you live in or near Philadelphia, you can see them perform tonight at the Smith Memorial Playground's Annual Kidchella Music Festival

Like Play Date on Facebook and follow them on Twitter today!

If you like this review and want to learn about more kindie music, go to DadNCharge on FB too! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A True Art Attack



I'm bored. There's nothing to do.

It's too hot! I'm tired of playing outside, what can I do inside?

It's raining out, there's NOTHING to do!

These are common phrases parents hear when the fun runs out and they turn to their cruise director for guidance. In instances where you don't have a camp or play date lined up, you'll need something to keep them busy AND happy.

In the past, I've turned to ideas from Pinterest and I've taken out old art lesson plans to engage them in a project that will keep them busy. I've even turned to duct tape and cardboard to build superhero and Star Wars creations of my own. Turns out, I am not the only dad.

Crafteeo kits were created by a San Diego dad who resorted to crafting to disengage his son from electronics. Though a lot of parents have the same approach, there are very few craft projects out there that are thoroughly engaging and challenging to both the parent and the child!

Wanting to engage his son in more creative play, How-Lun Chen started up-cycling left over cardboard boxes and created incredible designs of armor pieces which include Sword, Helmets, Shields, and body armor.

He eventually turned these designs into craft project kits so that other parents could share the building experience with their children. How-Lun created Crafteeo a year ago and his kits have amazed people at the craft trade shows that he has participated in and everything is made here in the U.S. in San Diego.



My son and I spent a day building the short sword that they sent in a mailer to my house. The kit comes pre-punched with all the necessary pieces to build the creations in the envelope. All kits except for the short sword come with the paint necessary to finish them but the assembly products being paper means you can decorate them as you see fit.



 Instructions in the form of a video on how to build them are located online and are easy to follow. We worked together as a team to build their short sword craft and were amazed at the results! All it takes from you is the dedication and commitment to do it together.



Here's the cool thing, Crafteeo has started their own Kickstarter campaign where you can pledge a certain amount to back the project and receive your own kits based on your level! Check out the cool new Pulsar Helmet and Battle Armor project:





Don't have the funds to back the campaign? No problem!

You can enter to win your own 3 Pack Build Kit below. Crafteeo is offering a Helmet (fits heads up to 22 inch circumference, about 7 year old), a shield and a short sword, Use the Rafflecopter entry below to enter. You can earn more entries by Tweeting about their Kickstarter once a day.Be sure to follow Crafteeo, by joining their email list so you can be aware of new projects that come up and happy crafting!


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FTC Disclaimer : I received compensation in the form of building kits from Crafteeo in exchange for the review of their product. All opinions expressed are my own. You should really enter because these kits are cool!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Five Endless Summer Adventures on Netflix


Summertime is an adventure that awaits us at the end of every school year. Children trade in their books and homework for the fancy free feeling of time away from all of that when their imaginations can run wild. The kids may be swinging from a rope into a lake, braving the hiking trails armed only with trail mix, or going away from you at a sleep away camp for the first time. Whatever journey they are embarking on this summer, it is probably one chock full of good times and laughter.

But when those first catalogs arrive in the mail claiming "Back to School SALE!" it's a harsh reminder that the summer adventures are fleeting and we need to hold on to those excited feelings. Luckily, Netflix has us covered with shows that deliver plenty of action and adventure especially on those hot days of summer when just stepping out your door has you clambering back for the air conditioning. If outside is stifling and you're wondering what you should pull up on Netflix, here are some suggestions.


1. Dragons: Race to The Edge TV-Y7-FV


Join Hiccup and Toothless, from the critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon films embarking on unparalleled adventures in the all-new Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge. Hiccup decides that there must be more dragons beyond the ones they have already discovered. He manages to find some of the most exciting dragons yet, each with its own amazing abilities -- shock waves, cannon balls and fire blasts, just to name a few. With the magical Dragon Eye, an artifact Hiccup finds aboard an abandoned ship, Hiccup finds more than he bargained for and embarks on many adventures with his new dragon friends.



Watch this preview of the new series:





2. Bo on the Go TV- Y7


Bo on the Go is a great show for those kids who just tire of staying put while watching. Bo lives in a castle with her friend Dezzy the dragon and together they go on adventures with the help of Wizard who gives them their quest for the day. Bo can only react if the children watching the show get up and move. Their movements give her energy to act in this show that will get children active. The theme song will be sung all over your house and if you have energetic toddlers, this is a great show to get them up and moving while watching the show. 


3. Super 4 TV-Y7


Ruby, Twinkle, Alex, and Gene, heroes united! By far my kids' favorite show on Netflix to date follows the adventures of the Super 4. Each character hails from a different part of the world in which each of them has an adversary that causes problems. Gene, is from Technopolis where technology and logic prevail, Alex is from King's Realm where his father rules and the Black Baron is always trying to overthrow the throne. Ruby is from Gunpowder Island where pirates rule and the fearsome Sharkbeard is always after her treasure. Twinkle is an exiled fairy who can do magic but sometimes not that well. She was kicked out of Enchanted Island for turning the Queen of the fairies into a frog by accident. Together, with their sidekick Alien, they combine their special abilities in adventures across the land. The animated series featuring Playmobil figures is full of silly situations and funny moments. Be sure to watch the episode called The Song of the Stork.



4. H2O : Mermaid Adventures : TV-Y7 



What happens when three girls Cleo, Emma. and Rikki go exploring on an island and fall into a grotto where they can't escape? They transform into mermaids under a full moon and soon discover other superpowers like manipulating water and talking to animals. They return to Mako Island where they received their powers to figure out what happened to them. This show combines the enchantment of mermaids and the combination of superpowers in three very smart female characters who are interested in the science of the ocean.



5. Young Justice TV-PG


Follow the adventures of Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash and other teenage superheroes as they battle the forces of evil alongside their older counterparts. As they become more than sidekicks with the Justice League, they begin to show off their real strengths as superheroes and not just accessories to crime fighting.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Teach the Family that #KindMilesMatter

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and KIND for this promotion.


In a world that revolves around social media instead of the world around them, it is even harder for parents to get their kids out and moving instead of zoned out in front of a screen. That's why it is even more important to get outside and explore together what is out there and in turn keep you healthier on the inside. We've found as a family the best times together mean leaving the cell phones and tablets behind and just walking as a family or jumping on our bikes for a ride around the neighborhood.

So when KIND Snacks sent me this KIND kit filled with Made to Matter products from Target I was pretty excited. #MadetoMatter is a program in which Target has selected brands that supported three distinct pillars (unique collaborative partnerships, innovation, and social responsibility) in an effort to offer their consumers better-for-you and better-for-the-world products.

It was filled with wipes from Seventh Generation, hand sanitizer from Babyganics, lip balm from Yes To Carrots, and snacks from KIND including their new Peanut Butter Berry flavor. It was the perfect kit to inspire and motivate me to track our family exercise over a period of two weeks to see just how far we had gone together with all the products that would support us. Since its founding in 2004, KIND has been on a mission to make the world a little kinder one snack and act at a time. But, here's the cool thing about being a brand ambassador for KIND. For each mile the family and I have traveled together, KIND is going to donate one box of snacks to a charity of my choice!


Our very first day tracking our miles was Father's Day and also our 12th year wedding anniversary. My wife surprised me with a weekend away from the kids and we decided to do a high ropes course together for the first time. We logged 6.54 miles that day traversing across cables and climbing obstacles. The end of the day was a highlight for me as we took a zip line down a mountain 4000 feet from the top to the ground.


The remaining first week, I taught VBS at our church which my children all attended, teaching art to 158 kids from 9 am to noon for five days. During those five days I managed to walk 23.35 miles attending to all the children, preparing the room, and walking around the classroom. No wonder I was so tired at the end of the week! 

Summer camps resumed that with my daily average of miles settling down. On June 30th, I took my daughters to Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park to log some miles jumping with them. We managed 6.43 miles that day. 


Afterwards, I was pretty worn out. We fueled back up with some KIND Snacks Peanut Butter Berry Bars are made with a unique blend of five super grains, coated in peanut butter and combined with sweet raspberries and cranberries. Each bar is a good source of fiber, making this new and improved PB&J rendition a nutritious and tasty snack on the go. Gluten Free and Non-GMO, KIND offers six different snacks lines filled with wholesome foods your family will love.

A photo posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on



For the July 4th weekend we ramped it up as a family, taking a bike ride together on Friday and venturing out to Morris Arboretum where we hiked the trails and discovered the gardens. Trying to keep up with the four and seven year olds as they discovered the grounds we soon discovered their hangry mood. You know that threshold you cross when they just aren't consolable and only sustenance is going to fix them? Good thing we packed our lunchbox with plenty of KIND snacks. You saved us!



So I tallied up my miles for the two weeks leading up to my post and we logged 41.14 miles together during that time. Beyond logging the miles and knowing we were helping people with our efforts, it just felt good to be outside together doing something. We use that time to talk to our children and listen to what they have to say. Have conversations with them about what is going on and what they are seeing. My seven year old has started reading and was paying more attention to the signage which was cool to see her not only read them but share some knowledge she learned about plants at school.

The only time I took out my phone was to start the tracker app. I made it a point not to look at it while with them so my focus was on them, not the Internet. Moments like this quickly fade away. I struggle with the capturing and sharing of every moment. Sometimes moments just need to be experienced by you and no one else.

We ended the weekend with family time during the 4th of July weekend. My son had just returned to us after travelling with his grandparents across the country without us for the first time. Instead of driving, we walked to the grocery store the 3.3 miles there and back as a family and got caught in a light rain shower.

The kids took turns pushing each other in the stroller estimating distances they could push one another based on their weights. Later, we took our kids to see fireworks and our four year old attended her first show. I loved watching their faces light up as the sky did. When asked which fireworks she loved the most she said emphatically. ALL OF THEM!

Those are the summer moments I'll remember. So get out and experience them together. Make some new family memories of your own and log the miles with your family. As long as you are together, that's all that matters.

Join me, Life of Dad and KIND Snacks on July 14th at 8pm for a Twitter party celebrating your own #KindMilesMatter journey 

Monday, July 6, 2015

LEGO Star Wars : Droid Tales Helps Star Wars Parents



It's a rite of passage for any child, the passing down of lore and legend from your childhood. If you've stared at the covers of Episodes I, II, and III wondering if you should just do it and deal with the consequences later you might be a Star Wars parent.  If you've ever contemplated the order to show the movies, you might be a Star Wars Parent. 

You may have played them over in your head trying to think if there is anything that might keep them up at night.  You might be a Star Wars parent if you may have wondered if the fighting in them might mean you will at some point you'll take a toy lightsaber to your kneecaps while you're wearing a black shirt.  If you think your children are too young to start watching Star Wars, LEGO has fixed that problem for you. 

LEGO® Star Wars™: Droid Tales  is premiering the series starting Monday, July 6th so your entire family can see it for themselves.  Premiering at  6:30 pm (check local listings) on Disney XD, Droid Tales gives your family the chance to start catching up on the entire Star Wars saga before the new film hits the big screen in December with bite-sized, hilarious episodes. 




The series retells the stories of the Star Wars universe in chronological order from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace™ up through Star Wars: Return of the Jedi™, through the eyes of C-3PO and R2-D2. Rooted in the humor and excitement that can only be conveyed through the LEGO brick, the five-part, 22 min episode series is a great resource for families as they gear up for the next movie!

For over 15 years, the LEGO Group has been introducing children to the universe, and bringing an element of playful nostalgia to parents and adults who grew up with the franchise, so we're very excited to make the story even more accessible for families. Whether it is through construction sets, or the new Droid Tales series, fans - old and new - can now explore the universe in whatever experience they prefer, making LEGO Star Wars™ the ultimate catching up tool. 




I've seen a behind the scenes preview at Lucasfilm in February and I can tell you from personal experience that you will be laughing to all the insider Star Wars parents jokes they sneak in there about the series. Also, your kids will enjoy the LEGO way of storytelling that you  are used to in other LEGO films. The re-telling of this classic saga from the viewpoints of C-3PO and R2-D2 is a must see for any parent passing on their love of anything Star Wars to their littlest fans. 

Want to learn more insider information about all things Pop Culture? Go to the DadNCharge FB page!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rainbows Bright



In the attic of my house are tubs of my old toys from when I was a a kid. He-Man, GI Joe, and Star Wars. Superpowers and Secret Wars. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and M.A.S.K. When I became a parent, I couldn't wait to pass them down to my own kids and I looked forward to letting them experience what it was like to love them as much as I did.

As they got older I worried more about the kids losing their parts and keeping them intact, so I organized them into bins and labelled them and kept them apart in the attic for as long as I could manage.

The first time I let them play with my Star Wars figures, I almost had a panic attack. I didn't want them mixing up the G.I. Joes with the Star Wars figures in my Darth Vader case. No matter what I did they found a way to bring them together. I could never understand why they would want Scarlet driving the Barbie car with She Ra.

Maybe I became so attached to my old ways that my insecurities got the better of me. I wanted them to enjoy playing with them as much as I did so what is so wrong with He-Man playing with Iron Man? Why should I care if GI Joe's Flint and Luke Skywalker just moved into the Fisher Price Dollhouse together?  In one scenario set up by my daughters, Michelangelo and Dusty Hayes are driving the Turtle Van to Barbie's Dreamhouse. Then they are going to pickup Grizzlor and meet up with Grimlock for dinner. In the ultimate crossover experience, my children have taught me that bringing all of these toys together in a Toy Story sort of way, is the best way to play. The toys shouldn't be apart if it makes them happy.

When it comes to mixing up different toys, kids just don't see size differences or types. They see toys and they love them all just the same. Love is love, there is no difference.

In a momentous civil rights win for America, SCOTUS announced recently that same sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Instantly, my Facebook page list of friends looked like Rainbow Brite and Rainbow Sparkle met up with Cheer Bear and had a rave. Ever spot a rainbow after a dark and stormy time? It's a glorious thing to witness a rainbow spreading across the land.


As a Christian myself I support this decision and I hope the way we are raising our children to deny prejudices and embrace acceptance of all people. We have encouraged our children to love one another as they want to be loved. Isn't that a lesson worth living in your own life?

Have you ever witnessed two children meeting on the playground for the first time? It doesn't take long before they become friends. It may all start because of a toy they both like and BOOM! they become pals.

It's because they are taught to be open and accept others almost instantaneously. It's too bad that fades as we get older and not necessarily wiser.  We want our children to learn about accepting everyone and not excluding anyone yet in our own government, we have been doing that very thing by denying this basic right. Thanks to the Supreme Court all of that has changed.

Here's where my children really will learn that love is love and that including everyone is the best way to be. They will not only live in a time where there has been a black president (I wish you could have seen it Tupac) but my kids also get to live in a time where people regardless of whether they are gay or straight can marry legally without jumping through hoops to do so.

My kids will look back on this day in history and wonder "Why did it take so long to get there?" Why shouldn't all people be considered equal? I personally think it comes down to fear. Fear that gay marriage will somehow ruin straight marriages. Fear that if we allow this, what will happen next? Dogs and cats living together? Mass hysteria?

Nope. I'm still married to my wife and so are all my other straight friends. My gay friends who have been together for years waiting for their state to pass a law just became like everyone else who wants to get married to their partner. Just two people in love who want to be together forever. Double rainbows all the way!

Of course, not everyone agrees that it is so great. We have Christians who are using the Bible to explain it all away. They think gay marriage is an abomination. This is shameful and goes against everything you learn as a believer, that love is everything. As a Christian myself I get upset when those railing against the change use the Bible to explain why something should not be in existence.

It's not just gay marriage though. Religious fanatics have tried to demonstrate to me that I am a sinner because I am a stay at home dad. According to parts of The Bible it says that the only way to provide for your family is to make money with a job and that raising the children is woman's work.

The Bible had slavery people! Let's take the lessons God is trying to teach us and use some common sense.  I assume these prejudiced people must have no hands because according to Mark 9:43 it is better to cut off your hand than sin. Are we still doing that? Is that not a thing?

Of course it isn't a thing because it is a different time and how would I be able to write this blog post with no hands? Use the teachings in the Bible as a guide to live your life not for the intent to ruin other's lives.

Excuse me Mr.Attorney General in Texas that publicly announces that he supports any clerk's decision to deny same sex couples a marriage license because of "religious freedom". You must be reminded that we must not judge others. Maybe you should read up on James 4:11-12 : Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

The highest court in the land has determined that this right should be available to all people. It's hypocritical to say it is okay to judge based on "religious freedom" If you're judging homosexuals based on who they love then you are by definition sinning because there is only one who can judge.
God doesn't support your argument, your judgement is based in bigotry, not love for your neighbor.

More importantly this decision for future generations was a day that has changed history. In much the same way the civil rights movement gave voting rights to women and the fight against segregation freed people from opression, these changes better our nation. It's the acceptance of everyone getting along together without judgement for who they love.

It's a win for love whether we are Donatello and Duke, Barbie and Ken, or Princess Leia and April O'Neill.  For me, I'm going to bask in the glory of those rainbows not for gay marriage but for the simple fact that I am teaching my children that I accept them no matter who they love and that's the way it should be for everyone.








Monday, June 29, 2015

Are We Safe To Enjoy Summer?



Will they be okay when we are away? Will they need our attention once we are gone? Will anything happen when we are out of sight? What happens if we go on vacation and something happens?

Are these questions that keep you up at night when thinking about the safety of your home?

We all worry about these things especially in summer when the routine of school has started to fade and summer plans are racing through our heads. If you've asked yourself these questions you might be a homeowner or have a beloved family pet who is home alone all day.

Part raising the children includes keeping them safe whether it be in the parking lot, crossing the street, or while they gleefully jump off the nearest playground equipment stopping your heart for a few moments. But what about those moments we take for granted, when we are away or sleeping? 

Or maybe you aren't ready for kids and have fur babies instead. Either way, when you are away from your home, you want piece of mind that all is okay on the home-front. 

It's the little details that make all the difference in keeping your family safe in your home. Most fatal fires happen at night. Did you know a home fire happens every 85 seconds? It's the reason why we test smoke alarms, change the batteries every time the clocks change, and install carbon monoxide detectors in our homes. It's preventative maintenance to keep our homes safe and protected places much in the same way we make sure our cars are running smoothly.

So how can I be aware of how my house is doing when I am away? Maybe my neighbor could take time out of his daily life and check it every few hours or I could spend crazy amounts of money on video monitoring and alarm system. Sounds crazy right? That's why Kidde came up with the RemoteLync System, a simple and affordable way to monitor your home and keep your family and pets safe.


The RemoteLync Monitor from Kidde notifies homeowners of a home emergency when you're away- offering piece of mind at a great value. Ideal for a primary residence, vacation home or rental property , the device plugs into a single outlet, listens for smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, and uses your existing WiFi to remotely alert you via your cell phone or tablet. 

There are no monthly fees and the app for your phone or tablet are free. When triggered, the monitor sends an alert to the homeowner and anyone who has been designated to receive automatic messages. Once you receive the alert, there is an option to call 911 directly, temporarily hush the warning, or call a contact in the network you set up.


Here are the Highlights of the RemoteLync Monitor:

  • Connectivity: Listens for existing UL approved smoke and carbon monoxide alarms 24/7 and notifies the homeowers via a mobile app, using the home's existing wireless Internet connection
  • Full Home Coverage : One device is designed to cover the average sized U.S. home (approximately 2,000 sq. ft.) can cover any size home with hardwired, interconnected alarms so when one alarm sounds, they all sound
  • Plug and Play : Plugs into a single wall outlet; voice prompts and a user friendly app interface make set up easy
  • No Extra Costs or Subscriptions : No need to purchase additional products and no monthly fees; the app is free


It's easy to set up right out of the box and includes voice prompts for easy set up. All you have to do is plug it into a single wall outlet and follow the directions given by the unit. Using the app, you can start a test from your phone or tablet, then test your furthest smoke detector to see if the unit can hear it. Once it confirms, you can test your CO alarm as well. Once programmed, the RemoteLync Monitor will listen for these alarms for you and send text messages and email to your phone letting you know it has detected an alarm.



The RemoteLync Monitor costs $99 and is available at HomeDepot.com and nationwide and Home Depot stores. 




FTC Disclaimer : I was compensated for the review of the product. All opinions are my own but if you ask me, this is one cool gadget you should have for your home.