Friday, October 2, 2015

I'm a Dad and I Parent Too

I was looking for an activity to do with my youngest child on a hot summer day a few years ago. She was only two and toddling around the house was becoming a bore. I decided that I would start taking her regularly to the library for story time. At story time they would read books and sing songs while dancing around. I loved watching her interact with the other kids and when the story would begin, she would scoot forward so close she would practically be touching the librarian's shoes trying to get a closer look at the pictures.

I've been reading to my kids ever since they were in the womb knowing that it was good for them to hear my voice even before they were born.  We've been reading to them every day since before bed as part of our bedtime routine. Literacy starts with just hearing the words you are saying to them. I can still recite Goodnight Moon and I Know a Rhino by heart because I've read them thousands of times.

On a typical day at the library I would most often be the only dad there, surrounded by moms and their children and nannies caring for someone else's children. On this particular day they were stressing the importance of literacy and how to help your child become a better reader. So, when it came time for the librarian to pass out the pamphlets I was interested to see what tips they suggested.

The librarian walked around passing out the pamphlets to each mom, grandma, and nanny in turn. She came around the oddly shaped semicircle and stopped in front of me and said "Uh, Do you want one?"

Um, "Yes, I would like one please" I responded. She didn't ask anyone else if they wanted one and I considered for a moment that maybe the response she was looking for was more along the lines of "Me read good. Make fire. Go hunt later." I didn't get why I was singled out but tried not to let it bother me though it did. I was singled out just because I am a dad. Unfortunately sometimes the way men are perceived when it comes to raising the kids we seem more like an afterthought.

I've heard lots of snide comments about being a stay at home dad some of which assume that I do nothing all day but play video games and scratch my nether regions while the kids may be out in the garage tinkering with the chainsaw. Well I have news for those people, it's not all donuts with dad and daytime television. It's filled with breakfast, getting the kids dressed, school lunches and homework. It's wondering if what I'm doing at home is preparing them for life. It's talking with them to find out how their day was. There is nothing that happens in my day that revolves around my gender. I'm a parent too.

This disregard for dads didn't stop when the kids grew older. Fast forward a few years to my youngest first starting school and emails that were supposed to be for all parents went to only the moms instead.  It's also been a battle with schools to get them to call me first and my wife second. She's at work and I am the one at home managing the household. There's a good reason I put a number one next to my name and a two next to hers. She is quick to point out to people who don't seem to get it to call me first instead of her. "Oh, my son is sick in the nurses office? You better call my husband, he's in charge." Don't bother calling my wife while she is working to support our family. I'm your huckleberry.

I've always maintained this attitude about gender roles and parenting "We are all parents" so let's start treating moms and dads the same. As Liz Henry of The Good Mother Myth stated in her post What if moms were treated like dads this school year?  we need to include dads whether they are working or not, that they aren't special unicorns when they appear at their child's school. Don't celebrate the fact that I am there because it isn't about me. I'm there for my child. There are so many more like me. We aren't the dads of old assuming our spouses will handle it all while the dog fetches our slippers. To quote Scott Behson from this past National At Home Dad Network Convention, "Almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands on, involved dad." Dads who are present and actively engaged dads have in interest in knowing what goes on in their children's lives, nothing more.

What it will take are dads stepping up into roles where they usually weren't before. Getting involved in your child's school PTA or skipping the lunchtime golf and volunteering in the classroom instead can go a long way. I've been to enough corporate lunches to know that there is some wiggle room in there to operate and make it work. If you can find the time to chaperon a field trip or just be a mystery reader it goes a long way in a child's life to see a parent in their school for something other than open house night.

Dads unfortunately can be seen as second class parents because of the roles we used to fill. In the past we'd often defer to our spouses claiming we weren't in charge of raising the kids and say we only helped in making them. The 1950's dad would rather hide behind a newspaper instead of play on the floor with their little tykes. It just isn't that way anymore. I see more dads at the playground and at story time than I ever have before. Now when I attend school functions, it's not just the moms running the show anymore. It's not because we feel we can lift your burden but instead lift up our children by showing them that we care.

This year, I volunteered to be on the parent board for my daughter's preschool. It's just me and a dozen moms but my contribution has changed the question from "Do we have any volunteers to be the room mom?" to "Do we have any volunteers to be the room parent?" It's small but significant change in the way we perceive dads and their roles as parents and not just as an accomplice to mom. It's that change in perception that will have a butterfly effect when it comes to dads being regarded as an equal partner in the raising of the children. Isn't it about time we recognize involved dads as the new normal?

Like this post? Continue it on Facebook at the DadNCharge page and tell me how your child(ren)'s dad is involved in their lives.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The After Bedtime Routine

The kids are finally tucked in. The books have been read to their satisfaction, the last drink of water has been doled out,  and the potty has been visited. Nightlights have been lit to ward off the scary darkness and the hall light is lit just in case those closet monsters get any ideas. Hugs and kisses have been placed upon each child respectively and we've crossed off every item on our mental checklist.

My wife and I gingerly walk downstairs as to not disturb the sandman's work hoping that we will finally be alone.It's almost time to get down to business. It won't be long until they've drifted off to slumberland and we can finally get down to "us time". We sit downstairs and wait for padded footsteps on the stairs. We give them about thirty minutes for the REM cycle to start and when all is quiet we both look at each other and say "Ready to do it?"

We're finally alone and we can get down to business, so we turn on the TV and settle into our butt grooves and dust off our shelfies. What's a shelfie? They are all those shows that you put in your list to watch but never seem to get around to. They are the shows that if your kids weren't around you would binge watch not even stopping to take a shower and the ones you'd be scrambling for the remote so they wouldn't see what you're watching.

1. The League

My ultimate dream of a show, a show about a group of friends who play fantasy football in Chicago. I first introduced this to my wife thinking there would be no way she'd love it and now she is hooked. This fantasy football is just for guys? Enter Kevin's wife Jenny who knows more about football than he does. In this season she finally gets her chance to prove to everyone she is as cutthroat as they come. I laugh so loud during this show that the kids sometimes walk downstairs and ask what's so funny, It's a grownup thing we tell them, go back to sleep. Somewhere during our time as parents we missed a few seasons attending to the children so it's on the top of our list when the kids are sacked out.

2. Louie

Louis C.K. has a great way of looking at things and he's spot on about being a parent. Sometimes when your kids are all you have you forget about all the crazy stuff they make us do. Divorced from his estranged wife, Louie tells us what his life is like as an older guy trying to date, dealing with being a father, and interacting with terrible, terrible human beings. At the end of a long day you might need a laugh and laughing at Louie is the best medicine.

3. Orange Is The New Black

I can't get enough of these crazy convicted women. If you've been a fan of past seasons, the new season does not disappoint. It's all about the drama in this show. Interactions between staff at the prison and the dynamics of the convicts and the inner struggle to survive prison life is the type of show that will turn you into the personal popcorn eating meme just watching the show from afar.

4. Gotham

Gotham came around the time that my wife and I had just given up cable and went solely to Netflix. While adjusting to no longer having a DVR, I lost track of when Gotham was on and missed most of the first season. The backstory to Batman and the city he lives in is a compelling reason to pay attention to this show as Gotham is as ruthless as you can ever imagine.

5. Heroes

Save the cheerleader, save the world. I loved this show way before Hayden Panettiere became a big star and with Heroes: Reborn coming this fall, you may want to dust up on your knowledge about this ordinary people who have extraordinary talents. This show gave us the hope that superpowers really existed in the world and that they can be just as dangerous as the people who wield them.

6. The Walking Dead

If there was ever a show that captured my attention and never let go it's The Walking Dead. Like a bite from a walker, this show will infect you and have checking under your bed before going to bed at night. The plot is fraught with twists and turns that will make you wonder who has the skills necessary to survive the apocalypse? You can watch seasons 1-4 on Netflix and catch up with the rest of civilization.

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.



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


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

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


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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!