Tuesday, May 28, 2013

10 Things I Would Actually Want for Father's Day

My wife and I don't put much effort into Mother's and Father's Days. A nice note and a night out together will usually do the trick for us. With three kids there isn't much wiggle room and really no justification to buy extravagant gifts for these days. But, if you are the type of person that goes all out and you are really stuck on what to get your dad or hubby this Father's Day. Here are some ideas from a stay at home dad that understands what dads like.

1) Droll Yankee's - Yankee Flipper - The TRULY squirrel proof bird feeder

I received this for Christmas one year after I was tired of battling those pesky squirrels. I enjoy birds but hate when these rodents empty all the food for the real wildlife. After battling these things for years and them getting the better of me, there was nothing like cracking open a beer and watching these things get tossed.

The battery holds a charge for an entire season and is rechargeable. It works when squirrels, who are too heavy activate the free spinning perch, which flings them off of the bar. The squirrels in my neighborhood don't even try anymore to eat the seed because it dominated them!

2) ANYTHING and I mean anything with his favorite sports team on it.

I would even love toilet paper with the Bears Packers logo on it. When it comes to being a rabid fan of any team, nothing says "I LOVE THIS TEAM" like owning enough stuff to build a shrine in your man cave.

Who wouldn't want a foam Bear head?

Ditka Vs. God T-Shirt from Chitown Clothing

Fatheads are always a good idea

Not a Bears fan? So sorry. Try Fansedge.com to find your favorite team.

3) Geek Chic

Got a father or husband that loves Star Wars? 17th and Oak have these amazing Lithos created by using typography to create an image

Don't want to invest in something that permanent? Get those kids ready for Star Wars at an early age:

Class up your tuxedo or dress shirt with these beauties from Red Envelope

Looking for something else? Check out ThinkGeek.com

4) Clothes make the man, but these just make us laugh.

If the dad you are buying for is quirky, silly, or just likes to wear T-Shirts that not everyone owns, check out Threadless.com

I am an artist, and when I came across this T-Shirt called "The Accident" I had to have it.

5) Cooking with kids can be fun, as long as you stay away from the Dark Side

This has nothing to do with cooking, but I would take this to a barbeque in a heartbeat.

6) Boomboxes have come a long way and we love to take our music with us

The BOOM Urchin is a water resistant portable Bluetooth speaker that produces great sound quality. I would buy mine from Crutchfield, a company I trust wholeheartedly.

7) The Dad in your life is your SUPERHERO

As a stay at home dad of three little ones, playing superheroes is a constant theme. For each kid, we have purchased a custom cape from Babypop on Etsy. The great thing is, they have these for adults too. What better way to get a dad involved in the kid's play by making him an actually superhero with his own cape and mask?

Here are some pics of my kids wearing their capes. The cape color,character, and background are fully customizable. My son has had his over 4 years with minimal wear and tear. We even gave one to the kids' grandma for Mother's Day one year.

8) Sometimes as a parent, you feel like THE WALKING DEAD

I don't know about your husband, but I love The Walking Dead. The graphic novels are different from the TV series and the drawings of this collection from Dark Horse Comics is a must have for any TWD fan and you can buy The Walking Dead : Compendium One on Amazon.

9) I love reading to my kids before bed but I'd love it more if they actually went to bed after

Adam Mansbach wrote the book, Go The Fuck to Sleep. It's a book we all would want to read to our kids at bedtime but just don't have the balls to. One of our last nights at the National At Home Dad Network's convention, the board members read this aloud to us for a "bedtime" story. I never laughed so hard in my life. They also have a kid friendly version to actually read to kids.

10) Stuff is great, but THIS STUFF is the best

It's a paperweight, handy for checking noises late at night, or decorating your garden. Made by my little kids' hands for this big kid.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Story of DadNCharge

People say all the time "You stay at home? Was that by choice?" While I realize that sometimes the economy being so bad has forced some men to stay at home (those lucky dogs) let me share my story. My wife and I always planned on me staying at home. I am the one with an abundance of patience. I am the one that loved kids enough that I wanted to become a teacher and be around them all the time.

Before I became dadncharge I was working at a high school, I was tenured and I had seven years of service in a high school district with ten total years of teaching. I coached freshman girls basketball and loved every minute of it. I got to teach my passion in life, drawing and photography and things couldn't have been better. We lived in a suburb of Chicago in a brand new home that we customized to our liking. It was our first house together. We were living the dream.

My wife is a career woman and someone who was convinced that she would never have kids. I changed all that. She was/is a rising star in the corporate world and I knew I would do whatever it took to help her make that happen. We had our first child, a son and the first grandson in our family, Adam, in 2005. My wife and I continued to work and on the weekends we would say to our awesome day care provider "We'll try to stick to the schedule and not screw it up too much"

Soon my wife had the baby bug again and in 2007 we had our beautiful daughter, Sarah Jane. My wife and I continued to work and we would witness something we had seen for the first time with our kids only to be told on Monday by the day care person "Oh, she's been doing that for awhile now". After that we asked her to just pretend she wasn't doing anything special or out of the ordinary so we could witness it for the "first time". Each time we picked the kids up at the end of the day and asked how they were doing our day care provider would say "Oh, they did good."

In June of 2008, my wife accepted a new job in her hometown, close to her parents, and we decided it would be best for me to stay at home with the two kids. My wife is awesome. She is the best organizer and the perfect project manager but, she also has her particular way of doing things as I also have my way of doing things. Knowing this I asked her "If I stay at home who is going to be in charge?" She said "You are. You will be the Dad in Charge." "So you are saying I am a D.I.C ?" I said. "Yes, you will be a D.I.C." I started writing things down that the kids said or did that was funny. Soon, I discovered this blogging thing quite by accident. My wife bought me the vanity plate and in NY State they gave just enough letters to fully express what my new job was. This is how DadNCharge came to be.

In December of 2010, we had our final child, Heidi. We have been blessed with great kids. One of the perks of being at home is being able to see the kids grow and watch their personalities emerge. Now I also don't have to worry about missing anything because I am right there day in and day out raising the kids. So I tell the people that ask if it was by choice "Yes, and it was the greatest decision I have ever made about a career." Our kids aren't going to be little forever. I am just glad that I have this chance to be with them while they are.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How Not to Mess Up Breastfeeding

My wife never was one who thought she was going to have kids. She was a career woman until I, a teacher of art, came into her life. My life was all about kids and well, somehow I wore her down and convinced her to have some. Once this happens, and if your wife has a relatively easy pregnancy, she will usually let it happen again. When it came to the conception of our second and third kids, my wife planned it all out. My wife is organized and I'll be damned if there wasn't a spreadsheet that I had to initial on the back of the bedroom door when we were trying.

Our son was born in 2005 and other than that time she nearly passed out while driving because of the baby's position on some major arteries, her pregnancy was uneventful. After that event, my wife was put on bedrest, which for her was the worst sentence. When the doctor told her she couldn't drive or fly anywhere she looked at her like she had a second head. She's always on the go and had planned to work up until the very moment our boy arrived. Instead, she worked from home, thus interfering with our plan to deliver at a hospital that was 15 minutes from her work... now 45 minutes from our home. Kids have a way of changing your plans.

Okay, onto the subject at hand... Breastfeeding... As mentioned, Adam was born in 2005, and we discovered pretty quickly that he was not successful at latching on to nurse and after many frustrating days and nights we called in a lactation consultant. For weeks we did what was called finger feeding. This involved using what was basically a beer bong for breast milk that you taped to your finger. You sit there letting the baby suck on your finger hoping they will get the sucking idea down without clamping down. The whole process took lots of time and was frustrating. I would sit there cheering him on like a college frat party "Come on, chug, chug, chug!" In the end, we saved ourselves the ongoing agony and turned to the bottle. He seems to have turned out okay, by the way.

Despite the whole breastfeeding experience for my wife, she graciously decided to have another one with me in 2007. A girl this time, whom I totally interfered with in the breastfeeding process. I wanted to be a part of everything, and I mean everything. I'm such an idiot. This is something that I want to caution all new eager dads about. I was on my leave from teaching high school I was so anxious about quieting the baby and I missed the bottle feeding time I had with Adam. So lets just say I was not so patient waiting for my wife to come home from the store, or work, to feed Sarah. With her only 20 minutes away, I would give in to my temptation and snuggle up to her with the bottle. That's right, I stole her thunder. I sabotaged the breastfeeding. This my dad friends is how to successfully mess up breastfeeding. My wife would be taking a quick break running to the store, and she'd come home ready to burst with no hungry baby waiting - instead just a machine ready to milk her like a cow. Don't be a jerk. Hold off unless your wife gives you permission - we have cell phones and texting now after all - I mean, it isn't like it was in 2007! If your wife is working and pumping at work she can't wait to release those puppies for the real deal baby when she gets home. New dads, let me give you some advice. Let them have their time. Don't even suggest a bottle, ask instead how you can help. If you are struggling in the early days, hire a lactation consultant (frequently insurance will help with this expense) because other than motorboating, you have no experience with breasts like these people do.

While attempt number one failed even with a consultant, and I sabotaged number two, by the third time around, in 2010, I finally figured it out with Heidi. I stopped meddling in the baby/mommy time. Instead I focused on taking care of my wife while she took care of the baby. I watched the other two kids while she had special bonding time with Heidi. She gave me strict instructions to back off. She even stayed in the guest room with the baby, away from distractions (me) and managed the feeding schedule on her own. She got coaching from friends who had nursed. I too finally got it right and let my wife have her glorious nursing experience with at least one of our kids. This was her time - I've got my own time. Sorry honey, but like most things you have to say it at least three times before I really get it.

If our lives were an episode of Scooby Doo, my wife would have been the one saying "I tried to get these kids to nurse.... If it weren't for that meddling husband, I would have gotten away with it." The best advice I can give to new dads and dads who are building additions to their house is, don't meddle. Be supportive. Keep your wife hydrated. Call in the experts. Fluff her pillows. No, not those pillows! Bring them some Lansinoh. Wash her laundry - including her breast shields. Someday those fabulous fun-bags will again be yours so don't mess this up. Do whatever it takes to support her breasts!

Just know this, those things, as tremendous as they are, are NOT for you. If you experience anything beyond looking at them and marvelling at them you are one lucky bastard. Breastfeeding boobs are like porn star boobs. If only for a period of time, at least you can have those mental snapshots. Camera 1, Camera 2.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hoop Dreams

As a Chicago Bulls fan, I am enjoying their recent defeat of the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and their first playoff win against the Big Three, which is really just the Lebron Show, in my estimation. And, while it might turn into that in this series, my Bulls are a gritty team that relies on defense and the Bench Mob to take on so called Superstar teams.

I love watching old clips of the Bulls Dynasty. I was in high school when they won their first three championships and coined the phrase Three-Peat and in their second championship run, I was in college. It was an exciting time to be a Bulls fan. That excitement carries over into the current series against the Heat whom we have a storied rivalry in last year's playoffs where we were poised again to go all the way until Derrick Rose got injured. The Bulls are very much alive and I look forward to many more wins against the Heat.

For some fans, they are not so lucky. Seeing such dynasty teams as Boston and L.A. go out of the first round without much of a presence must have Laker and Celtics fans pining for the days when their teams dominated. Well, thanks to Shout! Factory, these fans can look back on classic games and relive all the exciting moments with their new app called Basketball Time Machine. When Click Communications asked me to try this new app for free from Shout! Factory, I was excited to see what they had to offer.

This new app for iOS has content as far back as 1932 and includes video from pivotal games and many off the court moments as well. The app catalogues more than 2,000 videos highlighting the best and most exciting moments in pro and college hoops history plus the most memorable TV commercials and off the court moments. All videos can be seamlessly shared across users' social media channels.

This app is awesome. It has a scroll feature that lets you choose the categories which include Best Games, Superstars, Top Plays, Champs, College, Ads, and Fun. In the second scroll feature, you can choose a year which dates from 1932-2013. The left and right arrow lets you advance through each video available for that category and year. I enjoyed watching videos from the Bulls Three Peat Seasons, past classic slam dunk contests, and videos of Ron Artest getting into various fights. Is that why his name is now Metta World Peace? Another added feature is the Random button which selects a video for you from all the categories.

Obvious issues include the use of old video and the fact that some video is shortened for time restriction purposes. The videos also weren't complete and missed some key games especially during the 1991 Bulls Championship season. I would like to see these videos updated and put in order according to year and round and organized by team in the future. Sometimes the images were scrambled and hard to see. Of course, that is mostly because HD was not invented until much later but other than that, but the app is outstanding for the avid basketball fan and at $.99 cents it has more steal potential than Russell Westbrook.

To download Basketball Time Machine please go to:

Basketball Time Machine

Basketball Time Machine is a universal iOS app that runs on the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone mobile devices and is airplay enabled.

Opinions posted here are the thoughts of Chris Bernholdt as DadNCharge who is a rabid NBA fan. Click Communications provided me with a free preview of the app to review it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

They Can't Stay Puppies Forever

In 2008, I started staying at home with the kids. At 6'7', I have played lots of basketball and considered myself a pretty good defender. I could defend one on two no problem. With the wingspan of a condor, I felt that I was going to be OK.

I don't know about other wives but once you have had kids and they aren't totally batshit crazy, your wife will probably want another and another until she gets her fill. However, I knew that with me staying at home, adding more and more kids meant I was quickly going to be outnumbered and that most of my days would consist of defending the fast break as the only guy back on D.

After our first two, which are totally sweet kids, we thought why not have another? What could go wrong? Heidi was a sweet baby. So much unlike Adam and Sarah in just about every category. First of all, she had hair! Which for a Bernholdt baby is unheard of. My other two kids were as bald as Caillou until they were at least two. Clearly they got my family's follically challenged genes. She was tiny when she was born, the other two were monsters. We kept looking at her saying "Where is the rest of her?"

Heidi has more than made up for her differences. She is also the craziest kid we have ever had or ever will have. It's a good thing I took care of that after her because once Heidi passed the baby stage, my wife got that look in her eyes again. I said "You can still call her your baby, even though she is not." She replied "They will ALWAYS be my babies!"

What is up with them growing so fast? My son just turned eight! EIGHT! People always say it goes by so fast and they are right. I know that they can't stay puppies forever.

The other day, I was dropping him off at choir at church. I said "We are going to drop you off, so I need to park the car and go in." He says "I can go in by myself, Dad."

I wasn't ready for it. He didn't even call me Daddy. Sometimes he does but it is less frequent now.

It was the statement of independence. After all this time looking after him and making sure he isn't run over by a car in a parking lot, holding his hand everywhere we went, walking him to activities until I released him to another adult, he was asking to do it himself.

I know that they have to grow up but this is my mini-me and I can honestly say that driving away from the church that day I was a little panicked. I have a pretty overactive imagination and in today's world with all the lurkers and strangers that mean harm, I prayed that he made it safely there.

Realistically, I watched him walk into church, which is a safe place, he is greeted by an adult volunteer and he headed up to the choir room but I still had trouble letting him go. I wanted to turn the car around and get out with all the kids and confirm for myself that he had made it safe and sound.

But, what if I did that after he told me he could do it by himself? Would he feel bad? Would he be embarassed that I didn't trust him to make it on his own? It felt weird to me. I didn't turn the car around but I did call my wife. I told her that I was feeling anxious about the whole thing. I had never just "dropped him off" anywhere before.

Turns out he made it. I knew that he would. It's just that connection you feel after staying at home with him for so long; to see him changing from a baby to a toddler, then becoming a big kid is crazy. Even crazier is knowing eventually he will be a tween, then a teen, and finally an adult! Baby birds have to leave the nest to fly and I am trying to do that even though it is hard.

I am letting him experience life. I am not swooping in when he gets hurt. I know that some things he needs to figure out himself but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to allow it to happen. I miss him being a baby sometimes but looking forward to who he will become excites me more, even if he only just calls me Dad.