Wednesday, December 18, 2013

While You Live, Shine

I feel like Rodney Dangerfield. Sometimes, I just don't get any respect. Such is the life of a stay at home dad. We have to learn how to shine.

I have met plenty of moms who think that me staying at home is such a great thing. Because let's face it, it shouldn't matter what my gender is, the job is the same. Maybe the way I approach handling the kids is just different and that is what intimidates other parents.

I am not here to judge you or teach you how to do parenting the right way. Maybe I am just being sensitive but I felt the need to write this post after an encounter this morning with the mom of one of my daughter's friends.

My daughter has been talking about this friend of hers in kindergarten for some time so I contacted her mom through the class email list. After much back and forth about where, when, what time etc., we made the playdate, this particular girl's first ever, and I dropped her off at their house.

Knowing full well after five years of staying at home, that there is a playdate etiquette for guys that should be followed, I talked to the mom before making my exit. We talked about what she did, about her maternity leave, and what her husband did, and how long they have lived in the area.  I got to know her a little before I left my child with her and soon she redirected the questions back at me.

"Soooo, what do you do?" she asked. "I am a stay at home dad." And that's when she started laughing.

Yes. Laughing. I felt a little ashamed though I never have before. People act surprised or shocked but I have never been laughed at. Laughing at someone when they are telling you something serious or important to them laughter is not the ideal response.

I tried to let it roll off my back and kept talking, adding that I was a blogger...more laughter. Then quickly added that "I am a part of the National At Home Dad Network and that we have a convention every year." This also did not go well.

"Are you serious?" she asked.  "Yes, it has been pretty awesome for me. So much so that I started my own Philly Dads Group. Maybe your husband would be interested?" and I handed over my card.

She stood there, a little stunned I believe, and managed to say "That's what my husband wishes he could do. He is stuck with his family business and would rather stay at home. In fact, I wish he would too"

I am not sure if she was trying to save face but she added "Looks like there is a whole other world that I just don't know about" Sure. That's it. Although, you would have to be living under a rock to not hear about how roles of caregivers has changed in the last ten years. Changing people's minds doesn't happen overnight and at the very least hopefully I opened up her eyes to how seriously some dads embrace this role for their families.

I headed to the activity I had planned with my dad's group. Not feeling all that great about what I had just experienced but looked forward to being with my fellow stay at home dads. I was determined not to focus on one sour note.

I met two other stay at home dads there and told the owner that we were Philly Dads Group. "Like the Main Line Mommies?" he said. "What do you guys talk about, parenting and stuff?" I said "Yeah, and we throw in fringe conversations about beer and football if there is time." I find most often that I am just planting the mustard seed hoping something will grow from it.

It is a little sad to think that if I would have said "football club" or "beer club" there probably wouldn't be a question of why this group was in existence. I have to remind myself that I am doing good and that I am not doing it for anyone else. Some people just get it. This is not a joke to me, this is my life.

Song of Seikilos

When I returned from the activity I received an email from my dad telling me about something he learned from a music class called the Epitaph of Seikilos taken from the first century. This song represents our earliest record of a full composition and what was inscribed on a tombstone between 200 BC and 100 AD.  Roughly translated it  means:

"While you live, shine. Let nothing trouble you. Life is only too short, and time takes its toll"

Amazing the way the universe works, that I would be feeling challenged by those who might bring me down only to be lifted back up by my own parent. We cannot be mired by the doubters who seek to bring us down. Instead, it is us that must change skewed perceptions back to reality and make others see the light. I know what I am doing with the time I have, and I aim to make a difference in this world. Maybe with help, they will see me shine.

I wouldn't be human if I didn't want people to think highly of me. As a stay at home parent there are no accolades; no one is taking you out to a fancy dinner to thank you for your work on a project. There is no pin for years of service.

Our acceptance comes from our own family mostly. the disbelief in us staying at home is similar to when people learned I was an art teacher. "You don't LOOK like an art teacher" they would say. I was a phenomenal art teacher and someday may be again. Conducting the kids is my job now.

Stay at home dads are looking to blow the doors off perception that men have to be pigeonholed into traditional roles. I assume that professions where males are not "typically" seen as the majority like in nursing, these professionals have faced similar struggles. Do we call every male nurse we meet Gaylord Focker? No, but people still refer to stay at home dads as Mr. Mom.

My time with my kids has been my composition in progress. I have, with my wife's help, shaped my kids into the people they will be one note at a time. In every job I have held I have sought to make a difference in the lives of children.  Staying at home is my opus and I hope more people will just give it a listen. While I live, I will shine.

Melody sung in a Koine Greek approximate pronunciation, sung in modern popular vocal style.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Power of Etiquette

My wife's family is pretty formal. They dress up for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner at home. In fact, if you are in an outfit for most of Christmas and dinnertime rolls around, you better have a second outfit lined up for later. My family was always more casual. We woke up on Christmas and rushed downstairs and spent most of the day in pajamas.

My in-laws tradition is getting up, getting dressed, and taking care of breakfast before presents even happen.  Of course, it is hard to contain the children's excitement so we allow the early morning opening of the stockings to tide them over but shifting to the way things are done in another family can take time.

This was an adjustment for me and despite my kicking and screaming, as they have been trying to break me of my uncouthness, I have given in.  While my family's way was considered how we did something, my wife's family's traditions are more about how they conduct business.

There is a schedule on the fridge for holidays spent together. Heck, there was even a spreadsheet breaking down where we needed to be during our wedding weekend. Let me get this straight though, I am not complaining. In fact, this sort of structure has kept things from miserably failing.

One of the greatest gifts we have received from them as a wedding present is Emily Post's Guide to Etiquette and Manners. It is pretty amazing to read about the proper way to do things and if there is one book that we abide by that sits on a shelf of classic books, it is this one.

Teaching our kids how to properly address a letter to someone is an art form that is being dropped with the use of email and these informal avenues of communication. You know what I can't stand? I hate when people close a letter with Best,

Best what? Best wishes? Best Buy? I don't understand best. Whatever happened to Sincerely? Now that seems truly sincere! Cheers and Ciao? No. I hate them. Cheers just makes me want to drink and Ciao makes me want to make a sandwich.

Teaching our kids manners has naturally been part of how we have raised them. We started early with Please and Thank you and when time outs occur, we speak to our kids about it being unacceptable behavior. How do I know that is is working? I heard my two year old tell my six year old that something was "Un-sept-able" while they were playing.

Properly setting the table is another skill we have tried to pass on. One of our six year old daughter's responsibilities for earning rewards is setting the table for dinner. And while she sometimes gets the positions of the forks and knives reversed, she is learning early how to do it the right way.

I wish I had paid more attention to that when I was younger. I grew up with three brothers and while I am sure there was silverware, I don't remember it so much because I was guarding my plate with my arms. My point is, it is never too early to show them how it is done because it will serve them better in the future.

I still have trouble calling my parent's friends anything other than Mr. or Mrs. Last Name and I know that for some people having kids call them Mr. Chris is perfectly fine but I don't like it. Some of our friends say that it makes them feel old but I think it is necessary. If anything, they are learning what their last names are as I did with all of our neighbors when I was a kid. Ask my kid who their neighbors are and they will tell you Mr. White, not Mr. Walter.

We have seen the payoff with teacher's conferences saying "Your son is just so polite" or "He really seeks out the best in everyone" I can see it in the way my younger daughters love to hold the door open for others. Just the simple "Thank You" from a child can make all the difference, especially when you hear it from them directly and not because their parents are telling them to do so.

In the age of everything digital, even e-vites, isn't it just nice to get a handwritten note from someone expressing how appreciative they are that you thought of them? My grandmother used to love to get stationary every year and even until she was in her 90's she still would hand write letters to family members about everything on her mind.

You can be sure that after Christmas, our children's thank you notes will be flowing. My wife often has hers done before Christmas dinner is even on the table, a race my relatives admire to see once they race home, whose thank you notes will arrive first.

Most parents teach their kids manners but is etiquette that important any more? It all starts with modelling the behavior we want to pass along to our children.  What are you passing on to your children and how has that affected how they are growing up?

Why are we so lax with the formalities when we are teaching them how to be the best person they can be in this world? We should be trying to elevate our children into the future by teaching them the best of the past. Maybe I should start addressing my thank you note envelopes now.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Philly Dads Group to Attend Winter Festival

If there is one thing that I would love to impart to my children about the holidays it is that we need to think about those that are less fortunate than us when it comes to all we have.That is why we like to give back, why we take part in the Angel Tree at our church, and impart to our kids that volunteering and charity work can be very rewarding especially when you get involved in your own community.

That's why my family and the Philly Dads Group will be attending The Winter Festival at the Kimberton Fairgrounds in Phoenixville this weekend.

This coming Saturday, December 14th from 10am to 4pm, the Philly Dads Group will have an opportunity to take part in a unique event called the Winter Festival benefitting Toys For Tots. Admission is FREE with the donation of a new/unwrapped toy to donate.

Image courtesy of Winter Festival
Each donation not only earns you admission but qualifies you for a raffle ticket for the drawing of an iPad Mini.  In addition,  each $20 you spend at one of the vendors at the event also qualifies you for another ticket! Check out the great list of local businesses who not only have contributed to the cause but will be selling their wares at this event.

Part of the cool thing about having a blog this past year has been the opportunities to connect with different brands and review their products. It has been my plan this year to put aside some of the extra toys I have received and to give them to Toys for Tots at this event.  There is nothing better than bringing joy to children during the holidays and we hope our contribution does just that.

Things to do at this event include a Star Wars character Meet and Greet provided by The Garrison Carida: 501st Legion, Star Wars In Character Podcast,  and Rebel Legion Echo Base. You can even participate in Blast-A-Trooper and shoot darts at Stormtrooper! Maybe even Darth Vader will show up, if he has the guts to face your Rebel fighter, that is.

Photo by Weld Photography

You can get a complimentary chair massage, get a balloon creation for the kids, have some brick oven pizza provided by Pizza Wagon, or do some Christmas shopping. You can visit the Event Info site to learn more.

What is even better is that the organizers of the Winter Festival have let Philly Dads Group be a sponsor of this event and have even given us a table to spread the word about our group! Please come and look for us at our table and take a flyer or business card to pass on to a great dad you know in the Philadelphia area who would like to participate in our group.

Head to our Meetup page for the event and RSVP to hang with us. Bring a new/unwrapped toy to donate and become a part of something special for the holidays with your family and ours.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dads, Kids, and Bugs...Oh MY!

If there is something that kids love, it is creepy crawly BUGS! My wife doesn't agree as I am the house designated squisher of all things with more than four legs.

Recently, along with another Dad Blogger, Jeff Bogle of Out With the Kids, we launched The Philly Dads Group. It is a social group for dads in the Philly Metro area who want to get together with other dads and families and engage in social activities together.

We had an event hosted by Monkey Fish Toys, a cool indie toy store in Exton, PA.  We had pizza, kids drinks, snacks, and of course bugs! When there are kids and food there are usually bugs.  These bugs weren't the usual kind though, they were the amazing HexBugs Nano V2 series and #theycanclimb!

The sets for these HexBugs come with a variety of configurations that allow kids to construct intricate "habitats" that the bugs can explore.  Think of gerbil habitats with tunnels connecting to one another and that is basically the gist. Only these bugs are not limited by just horizontally running around like little robotic cockroaches. These bugs can climb!

This is a toy that is limited only by one's imagination. In the kids that I observed, they spent most of the time building and putting these bugs to the test. Many times their structures were built and modified thus giving our little engineers some lessons in structural integrity.

I was amazed when I witnessed two bugs on a collision course inside the tunnel thinking "Now that are going to run into one another and get stuck and we will have to take this thing apart" Didn't happen. The two bugs divided one going left and the other right and passed one another like two ships in the night. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Like the other dads and I found out, these toys are cool and you can find HexBugs Nano V2 information on Facebook or see some more images and follow them on Instagram. See other kids playing with HexBugs and have your own building party at your house today.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hasbro's Transformers Construct-Bots Review and Giveaway

When it comes to my kids, there is more than meets the eye. Toys have to be smart nowadays to keep their interest. So why not combine what kids like to do the most into one great toy?

Hasbro has done exactly that with their new line of Transformers Construct-Bots by supplying the parts needed to create Autobots and Decepticons and letting young minds create with the pieces.

Each Construct-Bots set comes with the pieces necessary to build a certain figure. Once you have built the robot there are instructions on how to convert the robot into a vehicle.  Some of the transforming was hard for my son though the toy is aimed at Ages 6 and up and I ultimately had to do the conversions for him.

Hasbro is offering a variety of levels of action figures including the Scout Class and Elite Class. We received a Scout Class Ironhide (Approximate retail value $9.99) and an Elite Class Wheeljack (Approximate retail value $14.99)  to play with. The latter comes with a storage tray for all the parts which is helpful. There is nothing worse than losing a bunch of parts to your new toy.

My son and I built the Wheeljack with no problem starting out together and me later becoming the parts supplier and him the builder.  After building the robot, we did the vehicle conversion.

After he had the hang of it, I let him loose with the Scout Class Ironhide which he assembled in minutes after having the experience earlier. My only criticism was that the parts were a little challenging to manipulate and at times certain pieces definitely needed adult supervision and assistance.  Smaller kids may get easily frustrated with these sets and the transforming part was almost too hard for me!

The nice thing about the toy is that the robots are structurally the same with different parts. Thus, when you have multiple sets, you can interchange the parts to create your own robot creations.  Adam and I took apart both sets and mixed and matched the parts to create: Papa Wheelie and Punch Punch!

This part of it was our favorite part and I could see how fun having three sets would make building and playing providing hours of entertainment.  It seems like the perfect Christmas or holiday present if you ask me! 

ATTENTION: Want to win A Transformers Construct-Bots Triple Changer Figure Assortment?
Use the Rafflecopter entries below. Winner can only be a U.S. Resident and must be 18 years or older. Winner will be chosen at random on December 2nd. Winner will receive an email confirming mailing address to claim the prize. In the event that the first winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Triple Changer Figure Assortment  (Approximate retail price: $24.99; Ages 6 and up)
Build YOUR Bot - then convert between three different modes! Kids can customize BUMBLEBEE like never before - with CONSTRUCT-BOTS Triple Changer that can quickly convert from robot to race car to jet!  Includes robot frame and lots of armor, weapons, and accessory parts so you can construct, customize, and convert BUMBLEBEE or BLITZWING - plus mix and match with parts from other figures (each sold separately) so there is almost no limit to what you can create! Also includes dual firing weapon launchers! You can also store your figure in the included re-sealable case! Each sold separately.

FTC DISCLAIMER - The toys in this review were provided to me by Hasbro to review. The opinions expressed are solely those of DadNCharge and his little elf. Hasbro is providing the prize for the giveaway. The winner will need to provide a mailing address within 24 hours of being notified by email. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dad Bloggers Rap For Donations to Movember
As you may know from my constant facial hair updates on Facebook and Twitter and my blog about why prostate cancer hits home for me, Dads and Bloggers everywhere have teamed up to raise money for Movember. I wrote about why I am doing it for my dad.  We have endured the strange looks, the disdain from our spouses, and the laughter of our co-workers all for the sake of men's health including mental health, testicular cancer,  and prostate cancer.

Last week we had a Twitter Party hosted by Life of Dad, NYC Dads Group, Dad 2.0 Summit, and The National At Home Dad Network who have all teamed up with Dove Men + Care which generously matched our donation bringing us to over $13,000.  #MovemberDads was trending in the U.S. thanks to all great dads and bloggers involved.

With only a week left, we needed something to propel us to the next level of mustached mischief.
Making our final push to our goal of $30,000, 12 Dad Bloggers including myself have teamed up and done a remake of the Macklemore "Thrift Shop" song, Movember Style.

Please share this link: everywhere you can to help us out and go to the Dads/Bloggers Movember page to donate. 

Today, I have reached my goal of $500 or over with five days left to make our mark. Please help spread the word and DONATE TO ME or my MO Mates.

It feels like fire ants but I am doing it for #Movember

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Scream

Why is it that my daughter's response to any hardship is a piercing squeal? My son does not do this. I have only witnessed it in both my girls. It doesn't stop when they are older either as my time as a freshman girls basketball coach can attest.

From another room this sound could mean that

A) She is running around and having fun with my older son
B) My older son just did something to tick her off
C) She just cut off a limb.

See the dilemma? You can’t rush into the room every five minutes looking panicked only to find that she is actually having fun and that the squeal was one of delight.

If you do this most likely she has spotted you and now you will have to play with her when she was perfectly fine using her own imagination only moments ago. You can’t go back. Trying to convince your kids to “Resume play, nothing to see here” is really hard.

 I have literally pulled up, tried to hide behind the cat's scratching post, and tried to Scooby Doo walk (a slow backwards walk as to not attract attention) out of the room before she spied me.

It has to be genetic. Maybe it is based on female hormones but I supposed it is one that carries on later in life.   Go to a concert and guys are screaming “yeah” and probably some expletives. Women however, are screaming at the top of their lungs…that long piercing “Woooooooo” that seems to go on forever.

Clearly it is to get attention, but I thought women are better with words than guys are? Scientists have tried to explain why women, who speak 20,000 words per day to a man's 7,000 by blaming it on the proteins in our brain. But isn't this just another stereotype that we use to explain why women are just more effective at communicating than men?

I Googled “Why do girls scream so much?” and I found that women said that they scream as a release for some anxiety they have faced. Screaming is a safety valve when they are frustrated and can't use their words to express themselves. Then why all the screaming when they are playing and having fun?

They scream when they are proposed to, they scream when a huge spider is in the bathroom, they scream when they are reunited with long lost girl friends or if their sister borrowed their favorite jeans and ruined them.

Basically, anything is scream-worthy. Don't get me wrong though, screams can be great especially later in life.  I just hate not knowing if it is a good or bad scream now.

So for now, I guess I just have to screen the screams. Maybe one day I will know if it is a good or bad scream. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a hankering for some ice cream.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leaving It Behind

Dear leaf,

You are truly one in a million. There are no other leaves like you and no leaf that looks exactly like you. Everything about you is special and is what makes you special.

You were created for a purpose; to give us life and through your life, give us new hope for the future.

It is amazing what you have done already in your short time with me.  It has been fun watching you go through changes. You started out so tiny and insignificant that it is hard to fathom how much you have changed.

You budded, grew,  and here we are still holding on to each other. I have held on to you so tight through storms and sunshine. I have watched you glimmer with each rising sun and have enjoyed the way you glow when the brightest of you shines through.

You have braved every cold night when you thought that sun might never return. I have tried to tuck you between my limbs to hold you close and keep you safe and sheltered from the world.

As the seasons changed, so did you. You have thrived and grown into a one in a million leaf.  No matter how small you may feel, you are a giant part of me.

You have changed in so many ways but your color is what is striking. Your true colors shine through the murk and mire of this world and help me search for all that is good instead.

Your colors have become so vivid and vibrant. It's a sign to me that every year I must let you go a little more.

Sometimes when I let you go, you hurtle to the ground with reckless abandon and sometimes you flitter to and fro and let the breeze just take you. Sometimes the wind will twirl you in circles and it will feel like you are getting nowhere.

There will also be times when something will hold you back. You may feel stuck or trapped. Rise above it and let the obstacle fall by the wayside so you can be on your way. Do not dwell on trivial things. You have somewhere to be, a great purpose.

Just know, that I am still here, rooted to his spot but always watching. Watching you make your way amongst the masses, fighting for your place among them.

Remember who you are leaf. Remember that you are special and you are not alone. You are going to stand out and make people take notice you among all those others.

Embrace the wind when you can and let it take you where it may. Despite others wanting you to dull you down, be yourself and let your colors shine! I'll be right here where you left me.

Love always,

The tree

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mo Money, Less Problems

My wife hates facial hair, so I am growing a full mustache. It's not because I am trying to spite her. It is because I joined a group of dads and bloggers who have combined forces to raise money and awareness of men's health issues for Movember.  

The Dad 2.0 Summit, The National At Home Dad Network, Life of Dad, and #CityDads from L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and the NYC Dads Group are creating a powerhouse collection of Upper Lip Plumage for the sake of men's health. Check out our Dads/Bloggers Team HERE.

The last time I grew out facial hair was in 2005, the first time we had a child. My son and wife were terrified by it.  I have already seen some guys getting The Heisman from their wives who are against the Flavor Savers.  

But, I told my wife, despite her hating it and the fact that I can't grow a substantial mustache that I was dedicated to doing it. She thinks I am going to look like Morgan Spurlock. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing since she first referred to him like this: "You are going to look like, you know, that guy who ate all the McDonalds".

The Dad 2.0 Summit just added extra incentive to create my best Face Furniture by teaming with Microsoft as a sponsor. They have agreed to give the top fund-raiser a Surface 2 tablet. The top fundraiser and the two runners-up will also receive free tickets to the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans, January 30th to February 1st, 2014. 

Even if I am not the top fundraiser, I will still get a chance to win a Surface 2 if I have the "Most Stylish Mustache" among my other Mo Bros. The top Cookie Duster and the runner up will also win a free ticket to Dad 2.0. What's not to like?

If your wife is putting a stop to your Mouth Merkin or you just can't muster a mustache, you can still help by DONATING TO OUR PAGE. If you are a woman then you can also help by becoming a Mo Sista and grow with us!  Movember is raising funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. 

As I learned at the convention this year, men struggle with these issues but mainly struggle with getting help. We don't like to ask for it or directions though we should. If you need help Dr. Rich Mahogany can help at It may help to get information and do his breathing exercises if you are feeling stressed. 

Behind every Mo is a reason to participate. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor. Through screening and early detection, they found it in its early stages and took it out. I am dedicating my MO to my dad this year.  So men, put down your razors and join me this month and grow your own Dirt Squirrel. You can donate to me on MY MO SPACE HERE. It's November 1st and I am ready to MO!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fourth Grade Bully Handled

My son is a good kid. He sticks up for other people and tries to always do what is best. I try to instill in him that he needs to take care of other people the way he would want to be treated. He knows what is appropriate behavior and he knows when kids are going too far.

That's why today, when he came home off the bus I was a little riled up. He told me that some kid on the bus was hitting other kids with his coat and that he knew it was wrong. So, he stood up to him and told him to stop. The fourth grader, "Matt" said "Shutup you bitch!" He told me in the car "Dad, he told me to shut up and called me the B word"

Now, I am normally a calm person and I know that kids are going to say things that they pick up from other people, but I honestly just wanted to storm the bus and ask everyone in there who "Matt" was and make an example of him. I wanted to stand over "Matt" and ask him "Who's the bitch now?" Of course I didn't do that, but the papa bear in me wanted to, badly. The safety of our children is a thing that you don't trifle with. 

You mess with my kid and you mess with me. It's that instinct that isn't just motherly but for all parents who protect their young. In the animal world, lions of a den and herds of elephants circle their young and keep them close when there is a threat. I wanted to maul this kid for calling my son a bitch. I can't imagine what my very sensitive son felt when this kid opened his mouth to call him a name.

Bullies. It's something that isn't tolerated in my son's school and schools these days don't take it lightly because we have seen that kids being bullied can lead to terrible stress and anxiety about school when it should be a safe place. 

I couldn't be more proud that my son, a third grader, stood up to a bigger kid and tried to protect the younger kids on the bus and himself. He's not an aggressive boy. He doesn't run the fastest, isn't coordinated enough to hit a baseball every time and doesn't jump off of things like most do. 

He is careful and maybe too careful at times, but the one time that he could have been cautious and look the other way, he did what most of us would do when we see the weak being attacked by the strong. Up until this summer he didn't even know what the "B word" was and thanks to some kid at the Norristown Zoo Camp, he was taught some choice swear words by kids that were incredulous that he didn't know them by now.

I am proud of him for being strong.I would like to think that me staying at home has influenced this side. That he has seen what it means to be a man and caring for others every day. 

I have seen the nurturing side in him much more often. He takes care of his younger sisters and they love him for it. I catch them together somewhere with their arms around each other, my six year old so enamored with her older brother that she is often draped over him giving him hugs and the special bond he has with our youngest, her often following him endlessly asking to play. His patience is something I think I have passed on to him.

How would I have felt if my son got into a fight when I have never been in one myself? While I am 6'7" and can look intimidating, I have never been in a fight. The times I have been close, my would-be opponent sized me up only to walk away. I have no idea what I would be capable of but am glad that I have never had the need to find out.

It is an underlying parenting clause that you want him to stick up for himself but you don't want things to get out of hand either. We want our kids to be strong but not overly aggressive. We want them to stick up for themselves and not be pushovers. The way he handled it calmly is a reflection of how I take care of things at home. Be levelheaded. Be firm. Assert yourself.

I followed up with an email to his teacher who talked to the principal. He addressed the entire bus yesterday before the kids were released. He spoke of inappropriate language and his disappointment in some of their actions. Needless to say, "Matt" quickly exited the bus that day. The principal praised the people that stood up for others and said he was proud of them for the way they handled the situation.

As much as I wanted to treat this boy like he treated mine, my son handled it the way we all should react to confrontation. I didn't need to be the angry bear dad coming to his rescue. He fought his own fight and I couldn't be more proud.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crayola Create 2 Destroy : Review and Giveaway

As an artist and having little artists in my home emulating me, I was excited when Crayola asked me and some other dad bloggers to try their new line called Create 2 Destroy. We were given a chance to compete with other bloggers by creating a 15 second Instagram video about how we got carried away with Create 2 Destroy's Dino Destruction: Metropolitan Mayhem Set. I want to DESTROY these other bloggers and you can help me win by voting for me.

My kids absolutely love modelling material and were chomping at the bit to get their hands on this new material and test it out. The Create 2 Destroy sets include a new material called Morphix that combines modelling material and sand. Fair warning when you are playing with this material, that because of the grit element, you will want to protect any surface that may get scratched as a result.

The Dino Destruction set comes with a cardboard play mat city scene and 19 molds to make cars, buildings, and everything you would want dinosaurs to crush and destroy as they rampage the city. The set also comes with three different color tubs of Morphix which in our case were gray, orange, and blue.

I loved the texture of Morphix and my kids enjoyed squishing it between their hands. As a former art teacher who has worked with kids in art therapy, it would make a great material to use for tactile manipulation and for little fingers that get easily frustrated by material that doesn't stay to its form.

Morphix does stick well but maybe too well because we found out that we couldn't easily extract any of it from the molds, rendering them useless. As with any kids, they found a way to make it work and moved on to creating with the material anyway. Their favorite parts were using the volcanoes to launch balls and using the dinos to smash objects they laid out in the street.

Here is the video of us creating and destroying: If you aren't able to see the video because you are using Chrome, use a different browser to view it.

Some other Dad Bloggers and I have joined up to help increase your chances of getting a box of your own. Joining me are Tom from Twins And Then,  John from Daddy’s In Charge?, Colby from Days of the Domestic Dad,  Chris from Daddy Doctrines, and James from Stay At Home Dad PDX. Check out their pages and use the cool entry form below to enter for your chance at one of 6 prizes with 13 chances to enter!

Now, you can help me by helping me win this whole thing. Head to the Crayola Facebook page HERE to vote for me. Click on the image that says "Vote for Videos" and find my entry, Dad In Charge, and click the red button that says "Vote For This Video". Make sure you don't click on "Daddy's In Charge" because that is not me. My video has my two year old saying "We want to destroy!" You can win your own FREE set by entering our Dad Blogger giveaway below.


You can get in on the action as well. Follow Crayola on Instagram, create your own 15 second Instagram video using the hashtag #Create2Destroy and submit your video. You could not only win a $1,000 gift card but the winning storyline will be featured on Crayola's 2014 product box! Imagine your kids telling their friends that they are on the box of a toy! Go to Crayola's Facebook page for fan entries here. Contest open to U.S. Residents only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crayola supplied me with a Create 2 Destroy set and a gift card in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine, Chris Bernholdt and are solely mine but I am the DadNCharge, so I am right.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Angry Birds Star Wars II Telepods Review

Hasbro is at it again with their innovation of the Angry Birds Star Wars toy line. Last time I reviewed the Angry Birds Star Wars line, the figures had limited use other than in the games. This time, it is Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods that are making a splash on iPads and tablets everywhere.

The Angry Birds Star Wars app is great in its gameplay but there are limitations to your success when you haven't earned enough points to buy special characters within the game. Telepods changes that dynamic instantly with your ability to use characters that you have purchased in a figure pack directly into the game!

If you want to sub out Jar Jar, and believe me we all do, all you have to do is place the character you want on the Telepods stand and position your character over the tablet's camera.

Your character will immediately be transported into the game replacing the figure in the slingshot. Beware though, you can only use the substitution once in that level and you can only use good guys on the "Bird Side" and bad guys on the "Pig Side" of the game.

I thought this was an awesome way to further use the figures and made my eight year old son much more careful about leaving Angry Bird heads rolling around on the floor. I like that using them is limited because it causes whoever is playing to strategize about how they use each figure.

See my Instagram video on how to use the figures. Check out for TELEPODS smart device compatibility.

If you buy one of the vehicle packs, you will receive two figures, one of which is an exclusive figure. You can choose from ENDOR CHASE, and DEATH STAR TRENCH RUN.

Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods Vehicle Packs (Approximate Retail Price: $19.99; Ages 5 & Up)

The figure packs are great ways to start building your collection. It includes two figures that can be used in the game.

Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods Figure Pack (Approximate Retail Price: $5.99; Ages 5 & Up.)

FTC Disclaimer: Hasbro has supported my imagination through play for many years and continues to do so. The material posted here are solely Chris Bernholdt's opinions and I was provided one of each set mentioned in this post in exchange for the review.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm Too Young For A Blood Clot

In the summer of 2012, I was going to be heading to Welaka, FL to be with my younger brother and his friends for his bachelor party. I had heard the legends of this man weekend: eating nothing but meat and beer for fluids. I only needed a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and flip flops. Nothing else was necessary and I mean nothing.

Prior to heading there though, I had experienced a sharp pain in my left leg every time I walked on it. As a stay at home parent I knew I had to power through whatever was bothering me that day and shrugged it off as soreness from the gym. Later that night I could barely put any weight on it and called my doctor for an appointment.

The next morning, I had a huge bruise on my left calf and I could see the veins all around it like a giant spider on my leg. The doctor ordered an ultrasound and I headed to the hospital. They confirmed it was a blood clot.

I was worried. In twenty four hours, was supposed to be boarding a plane to fly to FL to party with my brother and I was worried that my leg would explode or the clot would travel. My doctor said I would be fine as long as I didn't sit for long periods on the plane but I was still freaking out. Why did I have a blood clot at thirty-eight?

It can be hereditary, a freak thing, or be because of lack of activity. Prior to this happening, I had thrown out my back and had stopped going to the gym until it was better.

The blood clot was the thing that got me moving and changing my mind about exercise. It could have travelled to my lungs or heart and that would have been it. When the Dad Bloggers asked me if I wanted to be a part of Chuck The Chunk: On The Road to Dad 2.0, that was the extra push to get me there.

Since then, I have been going to the gym everyday. I have increased my water intake and have been eating healthier. I didn't give up everything cold turkey as I have found that doesn't work for me. I started playing tennis for an hour and a half once a week and found out I am pretty good at it. Being active has made me feel a lot better about myself and has kept me moving through the day.

My wife and I just started T25 this week that was created by Shaun T. A 25 minute exercise program 6 days a week. It is a perfect amount of time and we keep each other motivated. We wake up before the kids do and knock it out before they wake up.

Since my last post in August, where I started at 245lbs. I am now down to 232, 12 pounds away from my pre-kid weight and goal. Knowing I am halfway there has me motivated and it has helped that my wife has noticed changes and my kids have cheered me on.

As Shaun T. says "Stay focused, you got this" and I do. Here's to the next 13 pounds lost.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dads Are Redefining What It Means To Be a Man

Stay at Home Dads like myself are sick of being called babysitters. We are tired of the stink eyes at the park. We are frustrated with this belief that a man can't be affectionate towards his kids. We are fed up with people who think dads who stay at home are babysitters and not primary caregivers like women. And just FYI, being called a babysitter AND Mr. Mom just might make us lose it.

Let me tell you if you are one of those who say "man up" that this is exactly what we are doing. Fathers everywhere are turning the 1950's perception of what it means to be a dad on its head. It started with great dads like Charlie Capen's dad who gave up his career in radio to stay at home with his son and has progressed to a new breed of men who are staying home with the kids.

I get teary eyed when I see that Orbit commercial and for the love of God, NEVER play Steven Curtis Chapman's Cinderella with me around unless you want me to turn into a blubbering idiot. I am not good with power tools and I don't know much about cars. It doesn't mean I am less of a man. As a teacher, my skill set has always been taking care of kids. That's what I am good at and many guys are just like me, doing anything for their kids including staying at home with them.

Remember those class reports where you had to present a riveting topic that you knew nothing about but decided that taking an excerpt from The World Book Encyclopedia word for word would be a good idea? This was not ideal especially when you had to read it to the class using the monotonous Ferris Bueller voice and you would realize that you had no idea what your were reporting on because you never actually looked into it.

Often stay at home dads are discounted and miscounted as we have seen articles like Jordan Weissman The Atlantic not buying into "The Overhyped Rise of The Stay At Home Dad" but the truth of the matter is that at home dads are not accurately counted therefore the numbers can never be accurate. Chris Routly of The Daddy Doctrines lays the specifics out on why the U.S. Census just doesn't give men who stay at home the recognition we deserve.

Believe it or not, men seek out other men to have the very same socialization that women have. Sure, there are more opportunities for women as traditionally this has been their role and it is also true that we aren't exactly talking about all the same things. But, with roles changing and more men staying at home, despite what the numbers say, at home dads are taking more active roles in creating communities of like minded dads whose primary concern in life is to provide for their children in the best way they can, by loving them in every way they can.

One example of men building a strong community is the National At Home Dad Network and their annual convention. This year the convention is meeting in Denver, Colorado where participants from around the country will meet face to face to learn how they can be better fathers and build lasting friendships with other dads. The convention features speakers and breakout sessions where participants can choose what they want to learn more about and receive support from other dads who are dealing with similar issues. There is a wealth of knowledge among this group that surpasses any book you can read. My first convention was a year ago and was a revitalizing experience that I will continue to participate in. In a little over a week I get to go again and cannot wait.

Stay at home dads, work from home dads, and working dads have sought each other out online and have created Facebook groups so that they can share their experiences, vent, or ask questions. Dad Bloggers from all over the world regularly converse about everything under the sun and make connections with brands, other parents and write about topics we all have to deal with through fatherhood. While seeing other dads in person is more ideal, it is great to know that if I have an issue or just need to "talk" to someone that there is support if you search for it.

Another example of fathers building relationships with other dads is the rise of the community dads groups. Lance Somerfeld and Matt Schneider have built the flagship group in the NYC Dads Group. Following suit here in Philly, me and Jeff Bogle of Out With the Kids, have launched the Philly Dads Group. We aim to give our members an opportunity to socialize, learn, and support each other as we navigate parenthood and spend quality time with our children. Other dads and bloggers across the country have launched similar groups in L.A., Chicago, and Boston and we are forever growing. You can find these groups on Meetup.

Despite what you might read about the rise of stay at home dads or not or buy into dads becoming for involved, dads everywhere are coming together and redefining the roles that men once held. We are changing what it means to be involved fathers in our children's lives and if given the chance to be with them during the time that they most need it, we are taking it and not looking back. We know that time is fleeting and that one day the clock will strike midnight and they will be gone and I for one don't want to miss even one moment. I want my kids to look back on our time together and know without a doubt that I will be there for them through anything. How is that for being a man?