Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I Will Watch Netflix Anywhere



Do you Netflix? Do you bro?

Where do you do it?  We'd like to know.

I do, I do! I watch it here, I watch it there.

I watch it pretty much everywhere.

I will watch it while in a Jeep

I often watch it while the wife is asleep




I watch it on inclines that are steep

I watch it with the kids so they won't weep

Cartoons, Drama, Mystery

Is there no end of choices for me?

Blackouts? No. There is no ban

I even watch it while on the can.





I watch it to keep weirdos in public at bay

I sometimes watch it when the kids are at play

I watch it when I need to be alone.

We watch it together when we are home.

Do you Netflix? I do bro.

I can watch it anywhere I go.



.
Will you watch it in a canoe? 

If I have Wi-Fi, sure I do!

Would you watch it while on a cruise?

Yes and that's the great thing about getting to choose!

I'd watch it from a ship's bow

I'd even watch it with a cow. 




Would I watch it with another man? 

I would I would! We could watch it in my van. 

I'd watch it on mobile while I was on the go

I'd watch it in waiting rooms don't 'cha know?




I'd watch it while the kids play at the park

I'd watch it in the morning and after dark

 Do you watch it when you have the flu?

Once I'm recovering, you know I do!

Do you Netflix? I do, Miss.

Being able to watch it anywhere is bliss.




Do you watch it with your wife?

We watch it together, it's part of our life

Series that we save for togetherness

Turn into late nights being adventurous

Do I Netflix? You know it son! 

These places that we can watch have only just begun

I hope by now you are a Netflix fan

Watch it here, there, and anywhere you can!





Disclaimer : This post was brought to you by DadNCharge on behalf of the Netflix #StreamTeam. All opinions are my own. 

Shutterbugs : What Is An Aperture?


Photography quite simply comes from the combination of “photo” meaning light and “graph” meaning writing. Light writing all comes down to having knowledge of two things, your shutter and your aperture. A shutter is a door that opens and closes in your camera, it’s that sound you hear in old manual cameras as well as the “shutter sound” you can set on your point and shoot. It’s the movement of the shutter that creates that iconic “click” well that and the mirror moving out of the way.



The aperture is basically a hole that you can manipulate in size which is commonly called the F stop. The larger the F stop number, the smaller the opening. The F-stops are measured by the hole’s size. This is where it gets tricky; the aperture or F-stop gets smaller the larger you make the number. F22 is a tiny opening while F4 is much larger. In the picture above, you can see how the smallest hole is 45 and the largest hole is a 7.

So what happens if you open up (go to a smaller number) or close down (go to a larger number) your aperture? What does that really do? The smaller the number, the more light you let in but you also limit the focus that the camera has on an object. An F stop/aperture like 22 will create what is called greater depth of field.




Assignment #1 Depth of Field Experiment



Depth of field is the manipulation of aperture to control what is and isn’t in focus. Here’s an assignment to try with your kids but you will have to have a camera that allows you to manipulate the aperture. In most cases, the “A” setting on cameras is the Aperture priority setting. Choose three objects: a small, medium, and large object that you can place in a row. The larger (taller) object should be in the back with the medium object in the middle and the smaller (shorter) object in the front.

Have your kids pick the objects. It’s a good way for you to talk about size relativity. Toys will probably be the best subject matter for them.

Shoot a photo of this setup one time for each aperture your camera allows you to change keeping the setup and angle the same every time. For example, my camera allows me to shoot at F27, 22, 19, 16, 13, 11, 9.5, 8, 6.7, 5.6, 4.8, and 4. Write your camera’s numbers down on a piece of paper and when you take a photo write next to that number what your camera chooses for a shutter speed. Ie – 250, 125, 30 etc.

Focus on the object closest to you before taking the shot. Keep in mind that when choosing aperture priority, that your camera will have to compensate by adjusting the shutter. When you have a small opening, it will have to leave the shutter open for a longer time which means any movement including touching the camera to press the shutter release will cause blur.

If this happens, set your camera on timer mode (if applicable) and place the camera on a sturdy table to take the shot. However you shoot it, it must be from the same position every time so you can see how the aperture selection affects the shot.

After taking the shots, print them out or look at them on the computer together. Ask them what do they see that is different and what is the same? If you print out two different shots and give them a pen, they can circle what parts are different.

What you should see is a progression of shots where the objects will change in focus depending on the settings. You’ll see in my example at F32 that all of the objects are in focus but that was shot at a shutter speed of 1.5 seconds which would be blurry if it weren’t on a table. At F8 you can see The Hulk and Vader start to go out of focus with the Snow Speeder still in focus. By 4.8 Vader and Hulk are both fuzzy and only the Speeder is in focus because it is the closest object to the camera. You may also notice that the background becomes less sharp just by changing the aperture!



Next week’s Shutterbug assignment : The Shutter Island

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Five Ways You Can Keep Your Kids Engaged This Summer



School's out for summer. School's out forever! No more pencils. No more books. No more teachers, dirty looks. Every year my kids jump off the bus for the last time and Alice Cooper's song pops into my head and I watch them in slow motion as their overstuffed backpacks threaten to make them topple over or at least have back problems in their twenties. Then it sets in that summer is really happening and I start to worry. How can I sustain the progress we have made this year and not undo all the learning they have accomplished so far?

The summertime gap is a real thing. After teaching in public schools for ten years I can honestly attest that a child's summertime brain.  In art, kids would forget the basics like what two colors make green. If you were a child in the nineties the Glad-Lock zipper bag told you that yellow and blue made green and it is so ingrained in my head that I shudder every time someone forgets this most basic knowledge.

Summertime can be a dangerous time for kids as their brains become addled with marshmallow cereal and too many hours fixated on mindless entertainment like Minecraft. I don't know about you but I'm starting to see everything made out of pixels. Summer is a perfect time to help them flex those minds. Our children's brains are like muscles, they need to keep using them if they want to stay in shape.

1) Use Educational Apps to Practice Basic Skills

Screen time is okay as long as they aren't going overboard with the amount of time they spend on it and what they are playing on it can make a difference. Apps like AppTutor focus on one of the most basic skills both of my elementary kids struggled with, multiplication tables. There's no getting around it, practice with these tables is the only way to ensure that your kids just know their math facts which will help them in the long term and get them ahead of the game when school starts. Making educational apps a requirement before any recreational shows can be watched will give kids the incentive to practice.





2) Limit Their Time on Inappropriate Electronic Media

Under My Verizon, parents can limit content, certain sites, and set parameters around how media is used in your household. The main way that you can control this is through Parental Controls for your FiOS TV.  With Parental Controls you can use ratings to block what content can be viewed, use age preferences to block content for a particular age group, control the display of adult programming and information, block specific channels, and block access to widgets that have potential harmful/private content (such as social networking Widgets for Facebook and Twitter) Of course, the best way to avoid needing all these safeguards is by talking with your children about what is appropriate and what isn't around their use. Communication about their use should be an ongoing thing.




3) Get Them Excited About a Future Project

Have you ever been somewhere and wished that there was an app for making your life easier in some way?  So many apps that exist now have come from this very idea that if there is a real need for something and it can be designed and implemented, it could change people's lives. My kids are constantly coming up with creative ideas about how the world could be a better place if only.... Verizon takes that one step further with the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Kids everywhere are creating apps that are changing lives like the teens of Tri-Tech Skills Center who designed an app that helps teens suffering with anxiety and depression.




4) Make Playing Fun

Open ended apps allow for a multitude of opportunities for children to explore and discover on their own what will happen if they try something new. For this reason, our family always downloads Toca Boca apps using Verizon's FiOS internet service. Toca Boca Life - Vacation edition is a great app for all the things you do with the kids over the summer. The kids can interact with millions of characters, locations, props and objects within the game and explore the mini world. Do yourself a favor and play with them. Have them show you what they created or discovered and talk about the process. They may not know it, but your interaction with them is building their confidence and verbal skills along with their eye-hand coordination.


5) Start an Electronic Journal

The summer is full of adventures and sometimes it can be overwhelming remembering everything you did. If you are spending time with the kids somewhere, have them journal about their time there. Have them draw pictures of the things you did that day so that they take the time to reflect on it. Take photos with a camera or tablet that you take with you. When you come back, compile it together in a family travel blog or share your adventures via social media with your loved ones. A project like this that gets everyone involved teaches kids about collaboration and working with a group even if one their the members is their yucky brother. With fast download and upload speeds using the FiOS Quantum Gateway, sharing all those great pictures your kids took will be a snap.


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Verizon FiOS in Philadelphia. All opinions expressed are my own. #FiOSPhilly

Friday, June 17, 2016

Building More Than Just A Garden



The glass bottles are lined up like soldiers waiting for their orders. The early morning sunlight streams in to illuminate the company standing at attention, awaiting instructions. Our kitchen temperature has raised ten degrees as the giant pot starts to swelter from the slow boil. The counters are set up like stations for a culinary art project. Bright greens vie for attention while the strong aroma of fresh cut garlic cloves wafts throughout the house. It's pickling time at our house and that means it is time to come together and make something special.

The recipe is a family tradition, passed down from generation to generation with my wife carrying on what her grandmother did before her. The pickles are made in limited batches and because of this, they are treasured. They are given as gifts at Christmas and used sparingly for family get-togethers. Depending on the company, you may be rewarded and deemed pickle worthy. If you get pickles as a gift, you may well consider yourself part of our family.

In the past, when pickle making has happened each summer, my wife has scoured farmer's markets, asked farmers who participate in CSAs, and hunted high and low for pickling cucumbers and the seeded heads of dill plants at grocery stores. Turns out, finding the supplies hasn't been easy. One year we went without making the pickles and that was a dark and dismal year without them. We could only pine about them and talk about the years where various peppers like habaneros changed the game. Dill has traveled from as far as The Adirondacks to make it into our pickles when as chance would have it, my mother in law discovered a bucket of dill at a local grocery store in Old Forge, New York and wiped out the store. As you can see, we take our pickle making very seriously.

With our pickle inventory dwindling and supplies even more scarce, I decided to take matters into our own hands. That's when I came up with a plan to build a raised bed and grow our own cucumbers in our backyard. Luckily for me, Lowes was right there to make sure I had everything I needed. Even if you waited until the last minute or are not sure what you're looking for, visit Lowe's online and make sure the dad in your life gets everything he needs this Father's Day.

I bought everything online and picked it up in the store. We all know what it is like to shop in those home improvement stores with kids so buying online was the easier option. Helpful customer service representative, Jason at the Oaks, Pennsylvania Lowes ensured that I had everything I needed and loaded into my car on one of the hottest days of the year. I kept my daughter occupied while they brought everything to me. Talk about convenience!



When I was a kid, my grandfather had a woodworking shop in his basement where he taught my brothers and I how to cut on a band-saw and jigsaw once we were old enough. What he taught me was that you shouldn't be afraid of what you don't understand but to learn by trying. He believed that by practicing you could build more than just something great out of wood. By trusting in us, he built up our confidence as kids. Buying a DEWALT mitre saw from Lowes was my attempt at taking his lesson and turning it into a chance to build my own children's confidence.  A miter saw is a great investment for home repairs and makes a great gift for Father's Day.




The way I did that was through was quality #DadTime teaching them how to measure and cut wood. When it comes to experiences like this, I make sure that my kids, whether boy or girl are all getting the same experience. I need to be the example for them to see that there is no difference in what is expected of them. Building confidence in all kids takes time, patience, and a whole lot of trust.

But, it's not only confidence that we are building, it is also a great memory of how the family all came together and created something useful for all of us. The secret ingredient to these pickles is going to be the extra love and care that went into making them as a family.




Kids learn best by doing. Teaching them a skill and then seeing them apply it is one of the greatest things about being a parent. When they take what they have learned from you and you see them execute it, there is no greater feeling.

Our backyard soon became a classroom of sorts. The kids pitched in once my wife I laid out the first timbers by digging a channel into the ground. Each level was stacked using an alternate size like a log cabin.  My wife pre-drilled the holes with a 3/8ths bit to make it easier to drive them in and prevent splitting of the wood.  The 4 X 8 cedar timbers were joined together with six inch galvanized steel nails, many of them began by the kids and finished off by me.




Then, it was time to add the topsoil. We built one timber layer high using five bags of topsoil. Then, we laid down weed block sheeting, securing it with plastic spikes and spread the rest of the topsoil with a rake until it was three-quarters full. Once the bed was filled, the plants were put in. Behind the bed, we added Garden Treasures cedar trellises so that the cucumbers would be encouraged to climb once they started to spread.









With our leftover timber, we were able to build a small flower bed box for the kids to plant and take care of over the summer. They applied what they learned while building the first structure to create a bed of their own and chose plants based on what they liked.


Supplies:

10 Cedar 4 X 4 X 8 Landscaping timber
1 DeWalt 12 inch 15 amp Single Bevel Mitre Saw
36 Grip Rite 5 Gauge 6 inch Galvanized Nails
2 Garden Treasures 30 X 72 inch trellises
10 Grip Rite 10" Spikes (for base level)
20 bags .75 cu ft Scotts Topsoil
Dewalt measuring tape
Level
Kobalt Drill (to pre-drill holes for nails)
Mini Sledge Hammer for driving in nails
Weedblock plastic and anchors




For more information about Lowes and their fine products, visit them on social media:


Lowes Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lowes
Lowes Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loweshomeimprovement/


For more inspiration, check out their Pinterest page as well as the Lowe’s Creative Ideas site.



Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Lowe’s for this promotion.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What Is Your LEGO Dad Truth?


For as long as I can remember, LEGO has been a part of my life and my children's' lives. We have an entire room dedicated to housing the many sets we have accumulated and it takes about half a day to even get them up off the floor so I can vacuum that room.

When we visit my in-laws house, they have Tupperware bins full of vintage Legos that stay at their house so when the kids get to play with them, they play with the same sets that their uncle did when he was a kid. LEGO has and always will be a family tradition in our family.

There is literally no other toy that has kept my kids interested more than LEGO. The open ended play is unparalleled and I am constantly amazed by their creations. Inspired by the show Just Add Magic on Amazon, my kids created their own set after watching the series.



LEGO has always been a reflection of culture and even more now, family.  At Dad 2.0 Summit in Washington DC in February 2016, they further demonstrated this by creating the first ever stay at home dad minifigure.


We also had our own opportunity to share a Dad Truth with LEGO who took our ideas and turned them into LEGO Dad creations as shown in the top image. LEGO has always supported dads and the creation of their new site LEGO Dad is no exception.



Now, you can show your love of LEGO and win a chance at $40 worth of merchandise. To enter, leave a blog post comment telling me what your LEGO #DadTruth would be. For more chances, tag me on IG  @dadncharge with a picture of you and your kids telling me what makes you the ultimate LEGO Dad. Use #LEGODadTruth to be considered.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Contest Rules: Winner will be chosen based on creativity of answer and level of participation in the giveaway. Winner must supply an email address and mailing address to be able to claim the prize. The winner will be notified via email. If winner does not respond within 24 hours a new winner will be chosen. You must be at least 18 years old to participate.  and live in the U.S. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

They Changed Me More

Teaching my son about the clouds

I pulled up in the driveway and my wife gingerly was rushing to the car. She got inside and I asked her how she was doing "DRIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVVVEE!" she screamed.

My wife didn't tell me the morning that I went off to work that she was experiencing labor pains. We'd had a few false alarms due to those pesky Braxton-Hicks contractions and had rushed off to the hospital twice before thinking the day had come only to return home to wait it out. The bad thing was, that I worked an hour away from home, so any real labor and I would be rushing like a maniac to get back to her. She'd been put on bed rest and wasn't allowed to drive so she worked from home while we waited.

That day, I went about teaching as normal and I was having a great day. It wasn't until the school called me over the intercom that I knew something was up. I went to the classroom phone. It was my wife "Why aren't you answering your phone? I AM GOING INTO LABOR!" I dropped everything and told my class "I'm leaving! My wife is going to have the baby!" and they cheered me on outside the windows of the classroom while I bolted to the parking lot.

I don't really remember how I got back home. I prepared my speech for any State Police I would have run into and envisioned an escort to the hospital if pulled over. Miraculously, I made it without hitting traffic which in Chicago, is unheard of. I pulled up in the driveway and my wife gingerly was rushing to the car.  She got inside and I asked her how she was doing.

"DRIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVVVEE!" she screamed. I had never seen her in such pain. The 45 minute trip to the hospital was a blur of her in agony and me weaving in and out of traffic with sweaty palms. We made it to the hospital and up to the maternity ward while she squeezed the hell out of my hand. As the nurses attended to her and we waited, I began to get nervous. I was about to become a dad. It's  normal to feel that way right? Everything was about to change.

After lots of waiting for proper dilation, the baby was ready and he made his way out. My wife was amazing and there's no stronger admiration for someone than a husband has for his wife as she gives birth to his children. Before I heard my son's cries, I was just another guy, expectantly waiting to become a dad.

There is that moment when your children are born where you instantaneously change. Though I have never personally had one, I can only describe it as what I think an out of body experience would be like, where you see yourself from another perspective. You think: Is this really happening? Am I going to be a good dad? What if I mess this up?

And that's when you hear them cry. Their very first sound in the world is them letting you know that they are there and they need you. So you respond by attending to their needs. Parenting for the rest of their lives is figuring out what your kids need and helping them get that thing, find out what makes them happy, and encouraging them achieve their goals all the while loving them no matter what.

Me, my son, and his baby sister 


The first time I every changed a diaper was on my son in the hospital. It was one of those tiny Pampers Swaddler diapers that I can now fit in my pocket. I was so nervous that I was shaking. I was afraid that what I was doing was wrong and was afraid of making mistakes. Parenting is full of mistakes. Give yourself a break and realize that there isn't just one way to do this. Everyone learns how to be a parent while on the job.

As my son got older we began to miss the feeling that only a baby can provide. So we later were blessed with our daughters. Much like their fingerprints, each child has been so different not only in personality but with the unique challenges they face as an individual. When you become a parent each time a life is brought into this world, they change you too.

As kids get older their needs change but change is good. Just like when they were little, you'll spend most of your time trying to figure out what they need and do anything to help them reach it. Sometimes it is a warm embrace, a kiss on a boo-boo, or a snuggle on the couch. Soon it turns into help with homework, making friends, or dealing with a bully. The next thing you know, they will be driving your car and eventually graduating and trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.  As they grow their needs will change and you will too, but always for the better.

Me and my second daughter


Becoming a dad, I've learned how to be less selfish and to be more humble. I've learned to laugh in the face of adversity and to never give up on your dreams. I've learned to be creative and resourceful when things don't go my way. Being a father means being an example that they can follow and look up to; they are the inspiration behind being the best parent I can be. As they grow and become their own person, I've marveled at how different each of them is. I've changed many diapers with my three children but they have changed me more as a dad.

In the same way that dads are there for their children, Pampers has always been there for our family. For over 50 years, moms and dads have trusted Pampers to care for their babies’ happy, healthy development. Pampers has diapers and wipes for every stage of their development as they grow and they made this great video for Father's Day in celebration of dads everywhere.




Please visit www.pampers.com to learn more about Pampers products, join the Pampers Rewards program, and find ideas and information to help your baby get the most out of love, sleep and play.

Visit Pampers on Social Media


Monday, June 13, 2016

Home Alone No More



There are a million things that run through your head when it comes to summer vacation. What should you pack? When should you leave? How are you getting there? Where are you going to eat? Who is going to take care of the pets while you are away?

In the summer it become increasingly more difficult to find someone who can take care of our two cats while we, as parents, try to make this summer unforgettable for ourselves and our children. As difficult as it is to find someone who can care for your pet while you are away, there is nothing more difficult than handing over those keys and trusting that the furry parts of your family are being attended to. It takes a lot of trust to let others into your house while you are gone. Wouldn't it be great if from time to time while away, you could check up on things at home?

If there were a way to monitor your house without investing an outrageous amount of money, would you do it?  Piece of mind is great but spending thousands of dollars on a home monitoring system isn't where I want to spend my money. Luckily, for us, there is Canary from Verizon.




The Canary is smart home security for everyone and it's easy to use. Just download the app to your phone and plug it in to a power supply and you will be instantly monitoring your home for a fraction of the cost. With the Canary, you can stream real-time video of your home with the 1080p HD camera that gives you a 180 degree view and it monitors your home whether you are there or away 24 hours a day.

Get instant alerts sent to your phone when activity is detected and view recorded video of the activity right from your smartphone. Want to watch multiple spots in your house? Buy more than one Canary unit and you can make sure your pet fish is getting fed or that the back door that sticks has been locked properly.




The Canary has multiple settings including privacy where the camera and microphone are turned off, armed, where motion activated recording happens with mobile alerts, or disarmed where motion activated recording happens without mobile alerts. Notifications sent to your phone give you the option to either sound a 90+ decibel siren remotely to scare off any intruders or call an emergency service as you witness what is happening in real time.


Infrared mode far left, home screen, and updates right to your phone on far right

With a Canary unit well placed in your home, if you are upstairs in your house while alone and you hear a sound downstairs, never fear, switch to Watch Live via your phone and listen to the high quality audio and video it records. Most monitors don't have night vision but the Canary has automatic infrared LEDs that respond to lights going on and off in your house.

Canary records activity in the Cloud throughout the day so at the end of your day you can review your timeline of activity. A yellow band indicates how long movement was detected. After viewing the footage, you can either tag, bookmark, watch live, or share the video footage via email or messaging with a caretaker or family member so that they are aware of what is happening too. If you're on vacation and you want to catch up on what happened at home, you can view audio and video for up to 30 days.

The Canary also monitors interior temperature in case your power goes out while you are away and you find out the air conditioning you are relying on is not on for your pets you can alert someone. It also monitors humidity and air quality inside your home as well.


On a recent trip to Canada, Canary kept me apprise of our pet's status at home. Luckily, I mostly received notifications of my cat who kept setting it off because he likes to sleep in front of the unit.   But, I also had notifications of the teenager I hired coming in and out of my house along with a time stamp about when it was happening so it gave me great piece of mind that they were being fed in a timely manner.

Each unit goes for $199 but if you shop now, you can save $20 at Verizon right now. If Canary seems like a good fit for you and your family, head to a Verizon Wireless store or purchase one online and get a great deal on a Canary home security unit so you make sure you don't leave the things most precious to you home alone.




Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Verizon Wireless. As a Verizon Influencer, I received the Canary home security device from Verizon in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions expressed are my own. #VZWBuzz 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Why My Dad Stinks Giveaway


There's nothing like mansmell. It's that funky odor created by the hard work we do as dads. Sometimes we may smell like we are swimming in gasoline, spent out entire day eating only onions, or we may just have a worst case of pit sweats ever imaginable. Whatever our issue, we all need help to make sure that when it is time to be presentable that our aroma is pleasing to others and not scaring them away.

Old Spice's Hardest Working Collection the dad in your life can #Smellegendary once again. These aren't run of the mill body washes and antiperspirants.  Think of this collection as the Hemi to a four cylinder engine. Ordinary body washes are like rowboats to Old Spice's luxury fishing yacht. Why use an ordinary hammer when you can use a gas powered nail gun? Old Spice has ramped up their performance providing longer lasting scents and protection against sweat and odor. With additions to their already stellar line of men's care products, the addition of Dirt Destroyer body wash, Odor Blocker and Sweat Defense anti-perspirant and deodorant can handle even the stinkiest dad.



Does the dad in your life stink for all the right reasons? Share what qualifies him as one of the hardest working dads out there on Instagram and you could score him an Old Spice Hardest Working Dad Kit like the one pictured below.

Me installing our backyard screenhouse. By the time I'm done, I'm a sweaty mess.

HOW TO ENTER: Just tag me @dadncharge and Old Spice, @oldspice on Instagram  and with #Smellegendary #entry along with a picture and description of why the dad in your life stinks and how he could use the Hardest Working Collection to regain his #Smellegendary status. I will choose one winner and announce it on Twitter on Father's Day.
Contest entries will close at noon on June 18th. Winner will be chosen at random based on creativity of photo

Can't stand the smell of your stinky dad? Old Spice's Hardest Working Collection is available a retailers near you. Use this link from Coupons.com to get a deal for your dad this Father's Day. http://bit.ly/OSHWCDeal


What is included in the Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Kit:


  • FREE entry into a 2016 Tough Mudder event to challenge the performance of the Hardest Working Collection
  • An Old Spice t-shirt fitting for Legendary Dads
  • A gift from Tough Mudder partner Merrell to keep more than your armpits dry
  • An autographed photo from the product king himself, Bob Giovanni (as seen on Old Spice’s popular digital infomercials)
  • Recognition of your Legendary Dad status with a customizable trophy, as commemorated by Old Spice






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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Shutterbugs: Teach Your Kids Photography



The four walled room is completely dark save for one small hole on the opposite wall, the light filtering in harshly like a laser beam forced through the tiny opening. Beyond that hole the world seems golden and bright. The brilliance is too much for your eyes to take in almost as if you were looking directly into the sun after coming out of deep, dark cave.

On the wall opposite the hole the light has entered the room. The further it moves from the hole, the less harsh the light becomes and fans out to fill the back wall of the box. Clues of what is outside that black box are projected on this wall. Shapes and lines transform into trees and buildings. Highlights and shadows scatter to create depth. You’re looking at the first form of photography ever.

The camera obscura, or “darkened room” became a tool that artists would use to create accurate drawings of the world around them. I bet the inventors of this never would have dreamed we would all have pocket sized ones we could carry with us at all times.

Cameras evolved over time from the large bellowed wooden cameras that took hours just to capture a grainy image to pocket sized point and shoots with incredible zoom. Even our phones have sophisticated cameras in them capturing our favorite moments seconds at a time.

But ask any kid today what F-stops and shutter speeds are and how they affect the capturing of a photograph or how the rule of thirds creates a better composition, they are likely to give you a blank stare. They know selfies and Instagram and the instantaneous impact of a filter’s effect on a photograph without laboring in a darkroom to make it so.

Our kids have never known what it means to take your film to get it processed only to discover their thumb was in front of the lens for every shot. They’ve never perused a drug store’s film display trying to decide if 200 speed is better than 400 for capturing the afternoon soccer game. They don’t understand why the flash washed out the image completely in a sunny room or why the images on their KidTough camera are all blurry. Every. Freaking. One.

To our kids, photography is instantaneous. Moments after taking a photograph with my three kids they are all shouting “Let me see!” and deciding if they want to keep or delete it and take the photo all over again. Kids today see the result but don’t understand how it got there in the first place.

This is where I come in. As a former photography teacher who grew up in a darkroom with my grandfather, I knew that passing my photography knowledge to my kids would come in handy in their own pictures. Knowledge is power and can make all the difference in being successful in photography. Have you ever looked a photographer or artist’s work and say “I could never do that”. You’re wrong.

So, I am here to teach you and your kids how to take better photographs. Let’s take this journey together and turn our children into expert Shutterbugs. Every post I will give you and your kids assignments or things you can try out together with their cameras. Then, we will release them out into the world so that they can show us their perspective, their point of view, their passions. Prepare to be amazed.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Nostalgia of Pizza and Turtles



When I was a kid and I wanted to escape, I rode my bike. My bike was as retro as they come and I felt like it could transport me anywhere. The body was black satin, the seat a "bread loaf" banana seat, and around the tires, molded blue plastic fenders that made it look like a motorcycle. On the front was a racing placard that read Thunder Road 42, and when I was on it, I felt like I could go anywhere or be anything I wanted to be. Many afternoons, I would ride my bike to the White Hen, our local convenience store where the owner Mr. Polich would ask me how my family was and would tell me not to loiter outside the storefront. Once, he hired me to stuff Sunday papers in the back room and gave me odd jobs when he couldn't come out from behind the counter. He always paid me in silver dollars, which I felt looked more like treasure than any bill he could give me.

Sometimes, I'd use his payment to buy a pack of Pixie sticks or those wax Cola bottles and sit in the back corner near the magazine rack and read comic books until the fresh ink would turn my fingers black and he would yell "Hey Bernholdt, this isn't a library!" Sometimes I wouldn't hear him because I'd be so lost in the world of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's creation, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It almost sounded too ridiculous to be true and that's what I loved about it. On rare occasions, when I had enough money, I'd buy that comic book and race home to read it over and over again.

Back when "Totally radical" and "Cowabunga" were common phrases, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who didn't know who Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo, and Michelangelo were. While at Target the other day, a woman at the checkout peered over at my items: Vintage TMNT shirts for the kids and me. "Oh are the Turtles back?" she asked me. "In my house, they never left" I responded.



When I started mowing neighbor's lawns for pocket money back in the day, I also started buying up all the TMNT toys. Once older, I put them away for that day when my own children and I could go back to those days together. It's the reason we squirrel our childhood things up into the attic for that "someday" in the future. Part of bringing back the things from our childhood also includes—not surprisingly—food.

You can't watch a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show without getting a craving for pizza. The two things are synonymous. To this day, I can't scarf down any pizza without thinking of the pizzeria fueled ninjas yelling “Turtle Power!” Every day after school, my brother and I would come home ravenous, but we weren’t allowed to use the oven. This is where Ellio’s Pizza came in; from frozen to toaster oven, it was an easy snack to prepare without violating mom’s “no oven” rule.

So, it’s only natural that nowadays when my kids and I watch episode after episode of the turtles eating pizza, we all start hankering for pizza ourselves. For me, this triggers memories of watching cartoons and eating pizza after school all those days. That's why creating a #Pizzastalgia night together with Ellio's Pizza is the perfect fit for our family – it’s the common denominator that brings us all together. What’s more, Ellio’s frozen pizza is easy to make, and all my kids love it. Those are qualities that are hard to come by in our household. 

An Ellio's #Pizzastalgia TMNT night usually begins by playing with the old toys I bought as a youngster with money I made when I mowed lawns for the people in our neighborhood. Playing with the kids gives me ample time to warm up my toaster oven and cook the Ellio's Pizza. In just fifteen minutes, we’re all ready to chow down on some 'za and as a parent, I feel good that what I’m serving them is made with 100% real cheese with no artificial flavors. Then, I just pop in the retro cartoon series and hang with my dudes and dudettes. When it's time for bed and story time, it means taking out old issues of TMNT and reading a few of Eastman and Laird's storytelling before bed. My little ninjas are usually ready to crash in no time.


Do you have an idea for a #Pizzastalgia night with your kids? What would you bring back to share with them? What retro things from your childhood would you introduce to them? Share your photos of a #Pizzastalgia night with Ellio's Pizza and your family via social media. You can find  Ellio’s on Facebook InstagramTwitter and Tumblr and for more information on their awesome pizza (including where you can find Ellio’s near you) check out the Ellio's website.




Don't forget to join us TONIGHT—Thursday, May 19th—at 8pm ET for the #Pizzastalgia Twitter party with Life of Dad and Ellio's Pizza. Cowabunga!