Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clorox Doesn't Know Dads At All

If you haven't seen the latest post by Clorox talking about the top six things that new dads do wrong, well you are in for quite a ride. The post has since been taken down but before that happened, I managed to take a screenshot from their site. Keep in mind, this is not edited in any way, shape, or fashion whatsoever.

Do big brands like Clorox really believe that new dads are this incompetent when it comes to the raising of their children? Why must the bumbling dad always be the brunt of the child raising joke? Dads are so stupid. Clorox must be thinking "They are too busy watching sports on TV, scratching themselves to even notice." At least that is the image that they portray in their latest attempt to be funny that just wasn't. Chris Routly, of The Daddy Doctrines got a response from them on Twitter.

As a stay at home dad who makes most of the purchasing decisions when it comes to the products that are in our home I am definitely more likely to pass on Clorox products as a result of this post. Not only does it imply that dads lack good decision making but it says that we "lack the fine motor skills to execute well". If this is true then I am surprised that the three kids that I care for day and and day and day out for the last five years as a stay at home parent are even alive.

Gross over exaggeration of the abilities of men as the primary caregiver are never going to fly with the men that take an active role in raising their children. Alienating men who may be using your products for their families is not only poor PR but Clorox just renounced any confidence they had in men who take care of household responsibilities.

They said that it was meant to be funny but it sure wasn't written that way. As for the author, I hope you take your own advice and actually wear your hoody backwards because if I wrote this, I wouldn't want to show my face either. The author paints a picture of what it is like to be a new dad like a scene out of The Hangover. Real life is not like this at all.

Stay at home dads like myself couldn't believe that the post was real. Some of them were so offended they told our community that they would immediately switch brands. While I understand that one Tweet or Blog post can harm a relationship, this post seemed more like a break up. Turns out, Clorox didn't know us at all.

For more on this story, check out posts from 8BitDad and The Rock Father, who both responded to this post.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

....You Might Be An At Home Dad

While stay at home dads are on the rise in America, there can still be lots of distance between us that prevent us from forming tighter knit groups. Some of us even feeling isolated because we can't find others who are doing the same job at home who want to hang. While the internet is not exactly a substitute for a person who can show up at your door at any time for an instant play date to retain your sanity, it has become a source of support for many.

I belong to an awesome group of guys on Facebook. It's a group of Stay At Home Dads who support each other via social media. We talk about great topics in parenting, share jokes, concerns, and triumphs. This great group was started by Eric from Dad On The Run. Recently, after having a rough morning and needing a good laugh from these guys, I posed this question to them:

I need a good laugh. Let's do a post ala Jeff Foxworthy. I'll go first. Fill in the blank

If after playing on the floor you look like a human lint roller,
You might be a Stay At Home Dad.

I opened up the post to other Stay At Home Dads from the group and the hilarity ensued:

Mike Andrews of Geek Dad of Four

If you have every Disney/Nick Jr/PBS kid show's theme song memorized...

If you've ever cleaned one room 5 times in one day...

If you have ever played with your sons Legos after he went to bed...

Eric of Dad On The Run

If you ever get poop on your hands before you pour your morning coffee...

If you have watched every Pixar movie more than a dozen times...

If you have to argue with little people during breakfast about what day of the week it is....

If you laugh at knock, knock jokes with no discernible punchline (or the exact same one you just told... verbatim)..

Bill Peebles of I Hope I Win A Toaster

If your bathroom shines and your floors are spotless and the laundry is done but you haven't showered or shaved in four days ...

If the floor of your truck is dirty enough to sprout sunflower seeds ...

Brandon Klinetobe of The Funny Conversations

If you ever realized your kids know more than you..

What means I heard you, but I'm still not listening...

Chris Bernholdt of DadNCharge

If you have ever done something to yourself that made you look foolish or ridiculous to stop a crying child...

If you still wear cargo shorts and a superhero shirt on the regular...

If you lock yourself in the bathroom to take a crap...

Brad Simkins

If you have names for certain diaper situations like Ass-plosion, or Crap-tastrophe...

Shaun Lindsey

If you spend more time "fishing" various objects out of the toilet than you do ACTUALLY fishing...

Scott Foster

If you have ever had poop on your hands and just wipe it on your jeans...

If there are cartoon characters you would beat the ever living shit out of..... I am looking at you Calliou

Ciarán Melia

When you wake up to a beautiful breezy day and think "I get at least three loads of laundry dry today".

Daniel Szalma

When you get more excited about the new cordless vacuum than you did about the cordless drill you installed it with...

Friday, June 21, 2013

At Last....

I met my wife in a bar and no matter how bad that sounded to the people of our pre-marriage class, I am glad I went that night. I was supposed to be wingman to my friend and colleague, Roger, who liked another teacher at the K-8 school we both taught for. I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and was sick of the games.

Going to a club in the city with my friend and two girls whom I barely knew was not high on my priority list. Oh, did I mention that this breakup also happened close to the Christmas holidays? Yeah.

But, in the true Christmas spirit, I sucked it up and accompanied Roger and the two girls to this Club in Chicago called 720. Sadly, it is no longer there so you can't experience the five levels of different music, from salsa to merengue and club music in the basement.

I soon found out that my wingman blind date couldn't dance and while at 6'7" I am not the most graceful of dancers, most will tell you that I can bust a move with the best of them. My blind date danced like Elaine and at one point I almost lost my eye from a stray Stayin' Alive finger point to the sky, which ended up in my eye socket.

The great thing about five levels was that it was easy to get lost even if you are a head and shoulders above everyone else. I quickly made my escape and hid in the catacombs of the basement from Elaine. I let Roger work his magic on his own. Goose was ejecting.

If Elaine hadn't been so bad I might have never found my wife. Scoping the downstairs I saw a stunning brunette's head gliding above the masses. She had to be easily 6' a rarity for me to find such an Amazon among hundreds of people that night. I tried to follow her for a bit but kept losing her. The bad thing about five levels is that you can easily lose someone.

I eventually found her, on the dance floor among the dreaded inner circle, the old Oregon Trail. You know that thing, where girls create a group around their friends like circling the pioneer wagons creating a protective barrier? It basically signals "Back off! We're girls having fun and we don't want any jerks to ruin our time" Roger rejoined me, shot down by his advances and helped me assess the situation. "Are you going in? That's suicide" he said. "You're damn right I am. Kamaikazee style!" I attempted to wow her with my dance moves.

I established contact and she kept waving me away. Her friends, on the other hand, including the only guy in the group kept waving me over. I got the green light from her friends, now I just needed to break down the wall.

We danced for a bit and she started to walk away. I wasn't letting this girl off that easy. "Do you want to go somewhere and talk?" She was reluctant but came anyway. She told me she wasn't from here. That's OK I thought, no one who parties in Chicago is actually FROM here. "I am from the suburbs too." I said. She said "No, I am visiting from California".

This line slipped out before my beer addled brain could allow me to stop it "How come the most beautiful girl in the bar has to be from California?" She rolled her eyes. Welcome to Cheesy town. Despite this, I managed to keep her around me. She tried to give me the Business Card Brush Off. You know, that thing where corporate people say "Next time I am in town, we should get together"

I don't know what came over me but my brain launched into Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. I launched into a hour long tirade, telling her everything about my life. I don't remember if she even talked during this time. By the time I was done, Elaine had found me again. That's the problem with five levels. She wanted to go and I was her ride. I told Susie I would call her or email her next week.

Why did you ditch me? What is so great about that girl? she said. "What are you going to DO? MARRY her?" That's exactly what I am going to do. That's the kind of girl I would marry. I said with extreme confidence. I couldn't wait to email her.

Problem was, I didn't have a computer. I managed a senior housing development in addition to teaching. The office had a computer with dial up that was sketchy at best. The computer rarely could get online. No smartphone. I had to wait an entire weekend until Monday to send her an email from the school where I taught.

I sent the longest email known to man. Again channeling my inner Jimmy Stewart. I still have it. I ask every question in the book. Soon after trading emails, we started talking on the phone every night. You know you have something great with someone when you never run out of things to say. That is to say, it wasn't like she never fell asleep on the phone. She lived in LA and I was in Chicago, so managing time zones was an issue.

My the end of the month she asked if I would come out to LA for New Years Eve. I did and we knew that night that we had something special. Nine months later, I proposed to her and we married on June 21st, 2003. Today is our 10 year anniversary, and it still feels like yesterday. Happy Anniversary to my lovely wife. My inspiration. My soul mate. My love.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's Time To Musk Up For Father's Day

Ah, Father's Day. The ritual ties, golf balls, and stores littered with stuff claiming that Dad Wants This! I compiled a list of cool dad stuff too. For us Stay At Home Dads, this can be a very special day. For some, it can mean one of the only days that he is getting a break from his kids for a change. It can mean you are getting that special something from your spouse or partner. Or it can be a meaningful day spent with the kids and family together. However you decide to celebrate it, let's hear it for the Dads!

I always looked up to my dad. Still do. He wore ties. He taught me how to shave. It made me think about the time I taught my own son how to "shave"

He had an office in our basement at home that was full of fascinating stuff and I am not talking about the 1970s Playboy we found in one of his filing cabinets either. He had an adding machine that my younger brother and I used to play with constantly. I loved to emulate him. His company ran a campaign called V.I.C. (Very Important Customer) which I took upon myself as my personal tag on walls, the underside of the coffee table, and behind the deep freeze in the basement. My mom was reluctant to paint over that last example when we cleaned out the laundry room.

My dad was the hardest working salesman I had ever seen. We marvelled at his ability to get us to eat another spoonful of whatever was for dinner. He worked out of his car and could talk to anyone about anything at anytime. My dad is retired now, but he can still sell another helping of brussel sprouts even if you don't think you really want them.

As a young boy, finding the right present for Father's Day was a challenge. I knew he used ties and while he didn't golf all that much, I knew he probably needed golf balls. Buying a gift for your dad on Father's Day was a big deal. I was always extra careful about what I wanted to give him. Since he taught me to shave, and I used to watch him do it and then slap on some aftershave, I always thought that was a safe bet.

So what can a young boy afford to buy his Dad? The Walgreens special. English Leather and Old Spice. These are the kinds of fragrances that define a man the likes of Ron Burgundy. These are the heavy duty bottles. The English Leather with the big red plastic top, plastic bottle, adorned by a riding saddle. The Old Spice ceramic hand grenade with the stopper on top. I really had no idea that buying him 36 ounces of this manly concoction would ever go to waste. He seemed super excited when he opened it. I never looked at my mom's face when he did. I probably would have seen her laughing. It was my go to move.

He graciously accepted every ounce and would give me a big hug. He seemed excited and it made me feel good to get my hero something that made him smile. Best present ever! he would say.

Like I said before, my younger brother and I used to explore every nook and cranny of the house. Once while searching the bathroom, probably for things we could mix together to create new combinations of groundbreaking products, I came across his English Leather/Old Spice stash.

They were tucked in the back of a drawer, all 12 bottles in a row like soldiers standing in attention. The poor guy had to relocate his socks just to accommodate them. Even if you were a 12 year old boy addicted to Axe, it wouldn't be humanly possible to use all of this up. I still have bottles of 3 oz colognes that I have had for years. But there they stayed, eating up space in his drawer. I am sure he was determined to try and use some of it, maybe when I was watching him get ready for work in the morning just for effect.

I didn't give him any more aftershave after finding the stash and I am sure he was relieved when I started finding other things he could use instead. What I learned was that even though I gave him so many, he was still as excited as when he opened his very first bottle from me. It's not about the gift really. It was about his reaction and every time he delivered.

I try to carry this over with my own kids to this day. Making a big deal out of something that they made or an accomplishment of theirs. It is a big deal because you are showing them how much you care about them. This is not the only lesson as you can imagine, my dad taught me. So here are some gems that I posted last year of things I learned from my dad.

Happy Father's Day Dad! Pals Forever.

Top Twelve Things I Have Learned from My Dad
1. Love your family with all your heart and soul because they are the only ones you get in life and life is fleeting so enjoy every moment.
2. Life is better when you carry around a balled up paper towel in your hand because you never know when you are going to need one.
3. Toothpicks should be carried with you at all times.
4. “The trip is not over until you have unpacked.”
5. There is no such thing as “too much” outdoor illumination when it comes to Christmas lights. Thanks Clark for all your guidance!
6. Loading the dishwasher is an art and should be treated as such.
7. Breaking down boxes is the key to maximizing recycling efforts and it cuts down on space to bag ratio when it comes to Christmas garbage. Garbage night is a special day in your life, relish it.
8. You can’t really enjoy your dining experience unless someone reads the menu to you.
9. White Lithium Grease is the best lubricant on Earth. If you need something unstuck just use WLG. Also can be used to deter squirrels for your bird feeder. Is there anything that WLG CAN’T DO?
10. No job is ever complete in the eyes of a Bernholdt until you have injured yourself in some way. A few choice words after said injury will make the injury heal much faster. Rubbing some dirt on it and walking it off is always better than Band Aids.
11. The TV announcers are terrible and whenever possible, turn the TV sound off and position the radio as close to your head as possible while watching. This will enhance your viewing pleasure and you will know two seconds beforehand what really happens.
12. Yelling at the TV when your sports teams are playing is always going to help you win.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Take A "Steakcation" This Father's Day

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central Consulting for LongHorn Steakhouse. I received a gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.”

There are words that you can be scared of. Those three little words do it for me everytime.

What's for dinner?

As a stay at home parent of three picky eaters who are eight year old and under, planning dinnertime fare can be daunting. One likes meat, the other likes cheese, and the third only likes hot dogs and chicken nuggets, but even that gets old. The one thing I do love to do when it comes to making our family meals is grilling. In fact, I am not the only one. While I would like to say I am master of my domain, my wife can grill with the best of them.

While taking a family of five out to a restaurant can be like managing a three ring circus, I look forward to eating out with the family when we get the courage to try it and have forgotten what happened the last time we were all out. So when Longhorn Steakhouse asked if I was interested in participating in their "Steakcation" I was more than willing to give them a try. They wanted to give dad a break from the grilling and make me the perfect steak, celebrating dads who are a "Cut Above" the rest for Father's Day. So we packed up the troops and headed out to the restaurant.

LongHorn took care of us and sent me a genuine set of LongHorn Steak Knives and a gift card to cover our meal. My family and I had never been to LongHorn Steakhouse before. Lots of times you aren't sure with three little ones how a meal there will go. So, we planned an afternoon lunch this past weekend at the Exton location.

The restaurant was nicely decorated inside with lots for the kids to look at. We were seated in a large booth that accommodated all of us. We were impressed by how many pages the kid's menu had to keep them busy which is nice because it can be difficult to keep them busy while they waited for their food. The kids ordered their usual stuff, macaroni and cheese with broccoli on the side, a hot dog with fries, and a hamburger with a side of broccoli. My kids LOVE broccoli and it was great to see this as an option on the menu. I was disappointed that the mac n'cheese was straight out of the box Kraft and not some homemade version, especially when you are paying to eat out.

The kids' food and our appetizer came out quickly and our two year old enjoyed eating the breading off the Tonion appetizer even if she didn't care for the actual onion inside. My wife and I had just seen a Longhorn Steakhouse commercial the night before advertising new signature steaks, one being a double bacon wrapped piece of meat smothered with cheese and another that was full of delicious jalapeno flavor. Since we didn't see them on the lunch menu, we asked if this was a figment of our imagination or something real. The server told us that those were the new dinner specials.

Despite my initial downtrodden expression, the server told us that they could offer any of those items for lunch and that they could also sub the cut of meat as well. Faced with a tough decision, I had to go double bacon with cheese filet, it only seemed logical. I opted for the Ceasar salad and fries for my sides. I am a medium-well guy and told our server. She asked if a little pink was OK. I said yes, but that I didn't want it too pink. I was determined for them to deliver on their promise of fresh, never frozen, hand-seasoned and expertly grilled steaks. Longhorn Steakhouse prides themselves in crafting expertly grilled steaks so much that they even have a Grilling Tips Fact Sheet.

The picture on the left portrays the menu item, The Smoky Double Bacon Sirloin. The actual steak,is represented on the right. The steak itself was tender, not tough, and the very same steak knives that they are offering for a Father's Day gift cut through them like butter. The steak itself wasn't cooked medium-well. It was undercooked, in my opinion. My steak was advertised with this wonderful four cheese sauce but I got a measly dollop and not the overflowing cheesy goodness I expected. If it weren't for the bacon I might have given up on this steak.

My wife, who likes hers medium-rare says that hers was borderline raw. In fact, when the waitress asked her if she liked a little pink on the inside I was worried because that is exactly what she had said to me. It appeared as if they only cooked them one way regardless of your preference. She ordered the Rancher's Sirloin. In both cases, we were underwhelmed by the seasoning, it just didn't have the flavor it advertised. My wife's was supposed to come with a sunny side up egg. She looked forward to the runny yolk mixing with the applewood smoked bacon but alas, her egg was overcooked.

The salad was fresh and delicious with shaved parmesan but we were disappointed that the main course's plate did not include a garnish of any kind. While each steak came with two sides, it was all meat and potatoes and nothing else. It could have used something to accompany it to brighten up the plate.

Overall, the kids enjoyed eating out. They LOVED the bread. They loved checking out the bathrooms which we did multiple times and giggled thoroughly at how the bathrooms were marked. While we were waiting to finish our meal, my wife played a game with the kids where they had to find something she described. If you ever are out at a place with lots of personality like LongHorn Steakhouse, I highly suggest this game to keep them busy as they were actively searching the restaurant and not climbing under the table for five minutes to retrieve lost crayons.

While I was disappointed in my steak, I still want to thank LongHorn for giving my family and I the opportunity to be together out at a restaurant and for giving this dad a meal off. I would also like to thank them for the awesome set of steak knives that they sent. If you have a steak lover in your family I suggest you give these knives a whirl. They are available at any LongHorn Steakhouse location for only $29.99. All knives are made of high carbon steel with serrated blade edges for outstanding strength and cutting ability. They would make a great gift for Father's Day.

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central Consulting for LongHorn Steakhouse. I received a gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.”
The opinions shared on this page are solely those of DadNCharge and was not influenced by the bacon at all.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Defines A Coach

This is my son's first year playing baseball, and he has the worst coach imaginable. To set up the scenario, on the first day of practice he is late. He is scatterbrained and unorganized. He has no plan of action for the practice and it shows. I realize this is little league baseball but you could pick up a book called Coaching Youth Baseball and read directly from it and be more effective. I probably should cut this guy a break. He volunteered to be his son's coach after all. He's doing this for his son, right?

I think back to all my years as a coach on the high school basketball and think back to my first year. I was nervous and unsure that what I was saying would carry any weight. I read up on coaching techniques, I asked lots of questions about how to run a good practice from the varsity coach, and I knew I had to be prepared or the kids would suffer. Without a plan, I would lose these kids in the first few practices. I pushed their limits and tried to teach them to have fun. Without the fun, it wasn't worth doing. A good coach makes it challenging AND fun.

My son has slowly picked up the fundamentals of the game despite this lack of coaching. I was worried that I had failed him, not teaching him baseball. We've been practicing after school and he's starting to hit it more and occasionally catching it. I can remember the look on his face when I whooped and cheered him from the stands when he played first base for the first time ever and calmly fielded a ground ball and stepped on the bag for his first unassisted out. He knows what he likes to play. Catcher. Watching him walk like he just got off a horse makes me laugh but proud that he is pursuing something he knows he likes. A good coach lets every kid play every position regardless of ability.

We only had two practices before the games began. Since then we have had none. Even though this is the case, he still yells at the kids things like "Don't you watch baseball? You need to know where to throw it!" While we play twice a week, once on a weekday and the other on a Saturday, this coach never actually coaches. He's there, sometimes late. He didn't even show up to the boys' picture day for the team picture. This was probably largely due to him and another parent who is assisting, getting into an argument.

It's a coach pitch league. The dads pitch to their team, trying to facilitate hits, runs, and feeling good about their play. Pitcher Dad, was telling the batter how to position himself at the plate but every time he would say something, Coach would have to have the last word and say something contrary. This went on for a few batters with Pitcher Dad making helpful suggestions and Coach walking all the way from 3rd to home each time he would say something. Pitcher Dad said "Can you just back off, I am trying to coach these kids!" A good coach gives constructive feedback.

After the game Coach said, in front of a kid, "Some kids just get it. Others, you can clearly see, never will". This made one of the players cry. The dad told me that later in the car,in tears, he told his dad "Coach thinks I am not a good player" I heard him say it. That is not the only gem of things Coach says. He likes to repeat "Outfield is important" which I am considering putting on a shirt for him at the end of the year. Most kids don't like to play out there but my son does. Last game my son told another kid that he liked the outfield and that kid called him a butthead for liking it. I said "Look at Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen. Those guys aren't buttheads, are they?" I say. A good coach shows that he genuinely cares.

He yells from third base "SLIDE, SLIDE!" YOU HAVE TO SLIDE! when kids advance from one base to the next. I haven't taught my son sliding because I am not sure how to do it without hurting myself in the process. His reasoning is that not sliding slows you down, when just being a smart base runner will get you more bases than sliding at every base even when there is not play at that base. There are times to slide, no doubt, but telling the kids to slide constantly is dumb. These kids are eight. Getting dirty is fine but have you ever seen a kid slide headfirst into first because they thought they needed to slide at "every" base? It's dangerous. A good coach is one that knows what is best for the players.
One day I pitched to the kids. Not easy to do when you are 6'7". I probably looked like Randy Johnson to them. We usually have a dad that catches which is behind the catcher. We were short on dads that day, and I asked Coach to do it. He was reluctant for whatever reason. Turns out he can't really throw. He barely made it back to me on the mound and I am only ten feet away. I had to laugh to myself and remember not to get so pissed at him for yelling at my son next time. It reminds me of that Volkswagen commercial where the dad is passing on his throwing style when he really shouldn't. A good coach imparts knowledge that makes players better.

Despite all these annoying things, I give him some credit for taking on this responsibility. It's a big deal to be a child's coach. Look at all the examples of good ones and you will see how challenging but caring they were about their players. Coach does a lot of things but what he is best at is videotaping every moment with his camera phone. I thought at first that he might be taping his own son and not every kid on the team, the other kids on other teams, and kids from all over the league, but this is not the case. A good coach inspires his players to always keep improving, to try your hardest, and never give up.

I saw him misplace his phone at a game once. He ran around asking all the kids where his phone was. When he couldn't find it, I thought he might just go ballistic. He seriously looked like he had lost a child in a crowd. I get it. I've lost my phone before, it is not a good feeling. What he was worried about wasn't the video of his son trying his best while his dad cheered him on. He was worried about all the footage.

While picking up my son from a friend's house after school last evening, my son's friend's mom casually tells me that my son, Adam, is on YouTube playing baseball. This is news to me. While searching for information on Summer Ball she came across the videos using key words from our league. I went to YouTube immediately and was amazed at all the footage this guy had of kids who are 8 and 9 years old posted publicly. A good coach protects his players.

Don't get my wrong, I have videotaped recorded my son playing baseball and have posted it on YouTube. I have shared it on my page even. But the difference here is that I only recorded MY son. What bothers me most about this issue is that he just never asked. He never came to any parents and said "I hope you don't mind me recording, but I would like to put them up at some point for the boys to see" It would have been easy to say that but he didn't. A good coach knows how to communicate effectively.

Most games he is behind the camera, yelling instructions. There are almost 20 videos on YouTube capturing his style of "coaching". Three games left in this season and he still calls my son Alex. When the kids are not batting, they are climbing the fence, wrestling, or playing catch,and certainly not paying attention to the game. If it were my team they would be on the bench cheering on their teammates and actually watching the game. If they are on the bench that inning it means they are learning by paying attention and not making a run to the snack bar. My son stays on the bench and starts the "Let's go...chant for each player" A good coach manages the team and maintains order.

He is disengaged because while he is recording the game, he isn't actually watching the game or coaching for that matter. That disconnect immediately prevents him from making connections with his players. He never high fives anyone because that would mean putting down his camera. I told my son early into the season to listen to the other dads and myself. That while technically he is his "coach" that he isn't actually a COACH. It takes more to be a coach than just actually being there. Hopefully one day he will get out from behind the camera because he is missing his son's baseball games.