Thursday, December 18, 2014

Micromanaging Mommy

I'm sitting in the waiting room of my dentist's office with my three year old daughter. A dad is there with his three sons, knocking out their checkups in one fell swoop. The younger son is exploring the basket of toys left out by the dentist. To my left is a boy playing on a phone totally oblivious to everything around him. An angsty teenager enters the room and plops down next to the technology whiz. The dad picks up the younger one and wants to say goodbye. He has to head off to work and hoists him up onto the bench so he can give his dad a proper bear hug.

All is right with the world that is, until the mom walks into the room.

"Get down from there!" she yells at the younger boy. "What is wrong with you?" In the instant she made her way through the door, the temperature in the room has dropped a degree or two. The dad instantly said "It's not his fault, I put him up there to give him a hug"

The mom shrugged it off and moved onto her next target, the slouching teen who had just been put through the paces in the chair, visibly wiped out from the morning's cleaning and exam.

"What's your story?" she said brusquely. While he mumbled something to her, the younger one found the toy bin again and was touching all the buttons on one of those annoying sound byte books.  "Will you CUT THAT OUT Jimmy?" You can't touch the buttons if you aren't going to read the book.

As she turned to cut down young Jimmy for his exploration of the buttons, she knocked the lamp beside her so that it tottered and started to fall. "Mom, the teen said, the lamp, you almost knocked it over." he said with urgency. "I DID NOT knock it over." was her response. "Jeez, I was just trying to help" and again Jimmy turned back to touching those buttons again.

I looked at my daughter, who at three was sitting happily next to me looking at a book, her legs swinging low at the bench, her wisps of curly hair hanging just below her cheek. She looked up at me with her dazzling blue eyes and smiled. I tried to focus on that smile and ignore the fussing and constant micromanaging of this mom.

We all know parents like this who are constantly on their kids for this or that. I understand that everyone has bad days but I wonder if the way we talk to our kids and handle situations are different for moms and dads. I don't know her story or what happened to her that morning. She could have had some bad news or missed her morning coffee but I wondered why everything seemed to change when she took over.

As the primary caregiver, I understand the desire to want to tear your hair out when the kids frustrate you, though in my case I don't have that outlet. But, this mom seemed to be setting herself up for failure. Why the constant need to critique every action? The boys certainly weren't bothering me or my daughter and it wasn't until her constantly judgmental voice repeated itself before I found it grating.

I couldn't wait to get out to there to be honest. The way she picked on her kids reminded me of a bully and I felt sorry for them. Everything from her tone to her icy stare made me re-read the same magazine page five times over. I was afraid to turn the page thinking it might have a butterfly effect on her mood.

I see it all the time at the playground in the way that dads let their kids play. The moms hover over their every move and the most dads react only when someone is in trouble or needs help. At the mall in the play area, the moms are constantly talking to the kids to not do this or that while the dads just sit back and observe. Limitations on our child's behavior is fine but what is the constant nagging going to accomplish?

Kids are going to push our buttons and we might fly off the handle. We aren't perfect, no one is. So why is there a need to constantly micromanage a child's behavior? Stifling exploration is only going to lead them to believe that they can't do anything by themselves. Micromanaging is only planting the seed of doubt in their abilities to be independent thinkers. Give your children the freedom to explore and figure things out themselves or you will hurt them in the long run.

Are you a micromanager when it comes to your kids? Join the discussion on my Facebook page

Friday, December 12, 2014

We Are Groot. #OwnTheGalaxy with a Guardians of the Galaxy DVD Party

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OwnTheGalaxy #CollectiveBias

What do you get when you put together a group of wise cracking superheroes whose job it is to tackle life's big problems one day at a time? The Guardians of the Galaxy? No. Dads. 

That's right dads. An awesome group of dads in the Philadelphia area who are part of The Philly Dads Group. That's why, as the creator of the group, creating a Meetup around the Guardians of the Galaxy DVD release on December 9th made total sense.

I knew after this movie that I had to #OwnTheGalaxy so I rushed out to WalMart, found the Guardians of the Galaxy display and bought myself the BluRay version to watch on a dad friend's 80" projection TV.

As a Walmart Exclusive, The BluRay DVD set includes an exclusive Character O-sleeve that has one of five embossed designs. The Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack ZinePak, also a Walmart Exclusive, comes with an exclusive 64 page magazine with cast and crew interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and trivia PLUS a custom “cassette" laptop decal.

Walmart has great deals on Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise now and you can earn a $5 Gift Card automatically at checkout when you purchase a Groot, Drax or Rocket Raccoon figure for Disney Infinity 2.0. This offer is available From 12/7 - 12/13, so act soon.

Not only that, but for our Guardians of the Galaxy Meetup, I scored some Guardians of the Galaxy gear from WalMart including some toys to raffle off to our attending members including the Big Blastin' Rocket Raccoon and the Star Lord Battle Gear.

The movie features the wise cracking Star Lord, the muscled, somewhat unhinged Drax, the gentle but powerful Groot, the weapon crazy Rocket Raccoon, and beautiful assassin Gamora. Sounds to me like a bunch of misfit dudes and that one cool girl that likes to hang out with the guys.

Guardians is the ultimate movie about a group of people with such different personalities that you think they can't come together and conquer the bad guys. I thought it would be the perfect hangout movie for a night in with the guys. So we planned a dad's night in, a We Are Groot party, to share our love for geeky superhero movies.

Each member will be bringing their special talents to the table, literally as we all plan on bringing an app to share. Whether it is my guacamole, Jeff's cupcakes or Robert's hummus, we all have something that makes us unique.  I can admit, that sometimes it is hard to organize a bunch of dads to get coordinated but not it is not has hard as organizing a party with Groot.

A video posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on

What you will find in the movie and our movie viewing night, is the coming together of a group of people that are very different in every way except that in our group, we are dads not superheroes. That is our common bond and I am honored to be a part of that group each and every day I get to spend with these fathers in activities with and without our children. We will come together for friendship. We will come together for fun. We'll do anything to support each other as dads. We are Groot.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gameband Makes Portable Minecraft A Reality

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameOnTheGo #CollectiveBias

My son doesn't have a portable video game system. While he has played games through apps, even those get tiresome after some time. So, I decided it was time for him and I to try the world of Minecraft together. So, as an early Christmas present  I bought him a Minecraft Gameband™ at my local GameStop in the mobile gaming section. What is a Gameband? It is basically Portable Minecraft that goes wherever you go.

He had been talking to me earlier in the school year saying that he didn't know what the kids were talking about at lunch when they talked Minecraft. So, I figured that we, as father and son, could figure it out together.

The 8-Bit world of Minecraft is a tricky one. Not knowing that I had set up the game in Survival mode, it quickly became dark and I was attacked by a pack of wolves and killed.

"Let me help you dad" he said as he took over. No sooner did he take over the mouse did he create a house out of things he gathered by cutting everything with a sword and gathering it. I realized quickly that I was out of my league and started just watching and learning instead.

Gameband Minecraft™ is the first-ever Minecraft wearable. It is a band that displays graphics from the game that you can customize using the preloaded with PixelFurnace, an app that lets you customize Gameband with messages, images and animations that you create and share on the PixelFurnace site. Not only that, but it has a watch function with a date feature making it a multi-functional gift.

The Gameband automatically saves all your progress in the game, your Worlds, and any data that you collect and backs them up onto their secure, cloud-based servers. Even if you lose it, you can contact Now Computing and order a replacement with all your data intact! Gameband belongs to Now Computing and is affiliated with Minecraft. Any feedback about Gameband, should be directed to Now Computing.

How does it work? Pull the Gameband apart and the connection points house a USB!  Gameband comes in two sizes 6.7 and 7.2 inches so make sure you know your child's wrist size before you purchase one.

We customized the graphics that display and set up the date and time. Soon, my son was wearing it like a watch all the time. If he heads to a friend's house after school, he can use the Minecraft Gameband to play right on his buddy's laptop.

Why is this so great? You can take Gameband anywhere there is a computer, play on it, and it saves everything right on the wearable! Are you going to Grandma's house for the holidays? Does it get boring? Take off your Minecraft Gameband and play it on Grandma's computer without lugging around your system with you.

Did you finish your homework early at the library and need to kill some time? Pop off the Gameband for some Portable Minecraft and use it on the library computer. It is that easy! The fact that we can take this game anywhere with us and have it available as an option to play was just amazing.

If you would like to see the Gameband unboxed, check out the video below

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Holiday Toys for Girls And Boys

Are you ready for those eight crazy nights? Maybe you are ready for Santa to come down the chimney and leave some surprise things for the little ones. Whatever you celebrate, if you have kids, you are going to need some gifts for them.  There is nothing I hate more than toys that are pigeonholed into a category. This is for boys and this is for girls doesn't appeal to me. While I get that there can be preferences between genders for certain items, and some kids completely stick to them, I would like to give you a list of my favorite holiday toys that all kids will love.

Star Wars Command from Hasbro

You can #CommandTheForce with these cool action playsets. Think of those little green army men, only with Star Wars characters. You can set up your own battles and use Rebel forces to attack the Empire. Our favorite set was the Millenium Falcon Set (Ages 4 & Up/Approx. retail value $29.99)
With a motorized Millenium Falcon that slowly advances that then kicks off into hyperdrive!  Smaller sets like STAR WARS COMMAND Battle Packs are only $4.99 and come with exclusive collectible characters that are unique to that pack. 

Olaf Snow Cone Maker from Jakks Pacific 

Ready for a Frozen treat? Time to reward the Frozen fan in your household with this item. Just like the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine we had as kids, this snow cone maker turns ice cubes into a delicious frozen treat.  It comes with two flavor packs in Strawberry and Blue Raspberry which are sugar free, a flavor bottle, and cup to catch the snow you make together. My kids had a blast with one of their favorite characters from the movie and they said it was delicious! Be prepared to help the kids out with this one as the crank was not easy for the kids to turn and you could only put one ice cube in at a time or it would get jammed. (Ages 4+, Approx. retail value $24.99)

Dino Construction Company from Educational Insights

If your kids like digging in the sand as much as mine do, and they like dinosaurs, this is the perfect toy for them. The combination of dino bodies and construction vehicles makes for a duality to their play. (Ages 3+ Approx. retail value $39.99) 

 MARVEL Super Hero Mashers by Hasbro

Combine the love of superheroes and the ability to mix and match their abilities and body parts to create your own unique superhero, you can see why this was a popular hit with my kids. Have fun giving your character huge Hulk hands and Spiderman's head so he can have that Spidey sense with a Wolverine body (Ages 4 + , Approx. retail value $10.99) 

Transformers : Age of Extinction Flip & Change Grimlock by Hasbro

Transformers as a kid were awesome but recently they have become so hard to change for younger kids. With the Flip & Change Transformers, this isn't an issue as they transform with one easy step. This toy was so cool, I took it from my kids and won't let them play with it.  My three year old daughter could transform him easily without hesitation and there was no frustration going from dinosaur to robot mode. (Ages 5 & up , Approx. retail value $19.99) 

DISNEY's Olaf's In Trouble Game

Pop the bubble like the original Trouble game but only in a Frozen version featuring Olaf.  You can play as your favorite character, Sven, Anna, Elsa, or Kristoff and travel around Arendelle to save him.  Cool new features to the game like the avalanche will have you playing this with your family for hours. Once my kids learned how to play, they were able to manage by themselves which is the perfect gift for them and you! (Ages 5 & up, Approx. Retail value $14.99) 

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Milano Starship by Hasbro

If you were a fan of the M.A.S.K series as a kid, you will love the new 2.5 inch scale GOTG line of toys. The Milano has electronic lights and battle sounds, it fires missiles, and comes with a STAR LORD action figure. (Ages 4 & up Approx. retail value $24.99) The starship is also compatible with all the 2.5 inch scale figures in the BATTLE Gear 2 Pack line (sold separately) and can fit three figures inside the cockpit. Time to put some sweet tunes on and explore the galaxy. 

Doodle Bear "Doodle Monster" by Just Play

Have an artist in the family that loves stuffed animals? Combine the two with the Doodle Monster or Doodle Bear. Your little artists can draw all over these plush buddies and when they are through, throw them in the wash and start all over. You can also take them into the dark, using the special pen and the writing glows! (Ages 3 & up, Approx. retail value $24.99) 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Eight Holiday Traditions I Won't Subject My Kids To

1. Giving Santa All The Credit

My wife and I bust our collective asses providing for the children and making sure they have everything they need. When December 25th roles around, I don't have the fat guy in red stealing our thunder. We still talk about Santa and I play the game every time they say something like "How does Santa deliver all those toys around the world in ONE NIGHT?' or "How does Santa, who is so large, fit down our tiny chimney?"

Santa gives our kids toothbrushes and underwear, not the big ass Lego set that he "magically" made in his workshop in the North Pole. Kids, this gift was made possible by a Danish factory and mommy's hard work. Remember all those times she wasn't here for dinner? These are blood LEGOS. Enjoy!

2. Elf on The Shelf

I don't know what possesses people to put a creepy little doll around their house that effs everything up. I thought these things were supposed to keep your kids from being naughty?  If you need a doll to get your kids to behave for one month leading up to Christmas, you have bigger problems on your hands. It's not that these Elf on the Shelf packs are a special item either. You can go into any store and buy them. How do you explain to your kids that your elf is really a magical one and not an end cap store special for a parent at the end of their holiday rope?

Moving a creepy doll around my house everyday just to see the look on my kid's faces as to why he moves? I can't even remember to slip that dollar under the pillow like some nighttime ninja when the tooth fairy visits. My kids would have the laziest elf who never wanted to move around the house because he must like only that one spot. That's an aggravation I don't need.

3. Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree

My dad always meant well, trying to make this a holiday tradition us kids would really remember. He succeeded in that it was hard to forget. It always seemed that the best trees were miles from the Christmas tree farm's main wrapping area and usually the snow was deep. I mostly remember being cold and being the third kid in line, I didn't have much of a say as to which one we ended up strapping to the station wagon and lugging back home.

I know now why my dad went to a plastic tree and why to make it more authentic, he would hang pine tree air fresheners. "Can't tell the difference can you son?" he would say. No watering the tree, no sap, and certainly no squirrels in your living room.

4. Shopping at the Mall

No way in hell I would every willingly go to the mall to Christmas shop. From the parking to the massive amounts of people, it's everything I hate about the holiday season. The kids would go loopy telling me they want every toy in the building, other parents' screaming kids, and frantic parents trying to sneak toys into a bag when the urchins aren't looking? No thank you.

I don't usually like mass amounts of people scrambling for the same item and going toe to toe with me would prevent them from getting that holiday scarf because I can box out with the best of them. Fighting people over an item that I have have delivered right to my door through Amazon by a guy in a delivery truck who is in my neighborhood daily while I eat cookies in my pajamas sounds more fun.

5. Formal Christmas Photo

I won't drag my family to a studio to snap a picture of us all in our matching sweaters. Besides, this is how it is going to go : The only people looking will be me and my wife. Our three kids will all be looking in a different direction with my oldest son being closest to actually looking at the camera. My middle daughter will give us that creepy smile that isn't a real smile, and the three year old will look anywhere BUT the camera.

With digital photography being what it is today, I know I am going to have to photoshop a head from another photo for each kid. I may even switch out the head from the school pictures just to ensure everyone is smiling.

6. Having My Kids Help Me With Christmas Lights

Maybe someday they will be up for it and I can make them climb on the roof like my dad let me do and drink coffee  supervise from the ground. Someday I might even assign them the death defying task of attaching the wooden Santa to the chimney.

For now, I like being out there myself applying all my dad taught me about outdoor illumination. Just a man and his 10,000 individual bulbs to check. Given the way they decorated the Christmas tree, I will have a giant mass of lights in one bush with the rest sparsely lit. I mean, they can't even get a knot out of their sneakers so why would I trust them with the lights? No, this dad enjoys figuring out which of our fifty extensions cords actually will handle the wattage for all our lights this year.

7. Caroling 

This is better left to professionals who can actually carry a tune. I'm not freezing my kiester off going from door to door to spread holiday cheer. I am that guy in church trying to blend in with the guys belting out Hallelujah behind me. It's not pretty.

If I show up at your doorstep trying to sing Jingle Bells off key I give you permission to slam the door and send me home for some hot chocolate. Also, if you come to my house, don't be offended that I am not opening the door. I can hear you perfectly fine without letting all that icy winter air starting up my furnace like I let the Snow Miser in.

8. Getting A Picture With Santa

We all know how this goes. We build this up to be such a great thing and then we willingly have our kids sit on a strange man's lap dressed in bright red with a full white beard. Then we are surprised that they find this a scary situation.

I checked on Santa's rates at the mall and he is charging $20-30 for you not to take pictures with your own camera. Sorry but at $20 a head and three kids who want to tell this stranger what they want to Christmas when I already know, I'd rather blow that cash on ingredients to make Coquito and get myself liquored up on Christmas Eve instead. Bah Humbug!

What holiday traditions do you hate? Visit me on myDadNCharge Facebook Page to share! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Share Happiness Your Way with Burger King

This post brought to you by The Coca-Cola Company. The content and opinions expressed below are that of DadNCharge.

Sure the holidays can be about Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the deals you got at your local store. It could be about how you managed to score that special toy, the last of its kind before another person got to the shelf before you. It may even be about all the money you saved during holiday shopping by watching all the deals and sleeping outside the store in a sleeping bag.

If we look inside ourselves and really search we know that those things are just material. I can hardly remember what I got for the holidays last year or even where those things are. Presents can come in many different shapes and sizes. For me,the best thing about the holidays is seeing people spread cheer and good will towards their fellow men and women.

It should be about the change you share with the Santa ringing the bell, the time you donated at the local soup kitchen, the smile you put on a child's face for donating a winter coat when they had none. This holiday season it should be about sharing happiness with everyone you meet.

BURGER KING and Coca-Cola have teamed up to Share Happiness Your Way by offering a way to share and to give back. For a limited time Burger King is offering a special edition 40oz. cups at all local BURGER KING locations. Cups will have #ShareHappinessYourWay printed on them and will be available December 1st - December 31st.

All you need to do is go to BURGER KING and post a photo on Twitter or Instagram with your cup and use the hashtag #ShareHappinessYourWay. For every qualifying post published this December to Twitter or Instagram with #ShareHappinessYourWay, BURGER KING and Coca-Cola will donate $1 to Feeding America. Check out for more information including donation progress and limits!

I know you love to take Instagram photos of your food, so why not help people in the process? The more you share happiness the more you give back and for each $1 given, you provide 10 meals!

While you don't need the cup to participate, all posts must use #ShareHappinessYourWay to qualify. The more you share this hashtag, the more people you can help!

When I was thinking about how I could #ShareHappinessYourWay, I planned on surprising my kids with lunch from BURGER KING on a day that they were off of school.  We had a great lunch together after they ran errands with dad. They even rewarded me with a 40 oz. of my favorite beverage, Sweet Tea in the collectible cup. As much as I love that Sweet Tea, it is their sweetness that gets me every time.

So head to BURGER KING and get your limited edition Coca-Cola collectible cup between now and December 31st for a limited time. During the holidays is the perfect time to focus on the needs of others and when you #ShowHappinessYourWay, you will do just that.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oh You Stay at Home? You Must Be Gay

Oh you stay at home? You must be gay.

You're a stay at home dad? When are you going to get your balls back?

Man up. Stop being such a pussy.

Looks like this dad likes shopping more than his wife. How gay is he?

These are words supposedly spoken by people with some skewed version of what it means to be a "real man".  Believe it or not, the person who asked if a stay at home dad was gay was a woman. The second comment came from a man that another stay at home dad was interacting with on the playground. Why does the choice to stay home instantly lead to a discussion about manhood? It seems to me that doing what is best for your family is truly about being a real man.

Yet, there are contingencies that believe that if you stay home you are less of a man. Unfortunately, these are the men that still cat call to women walking in the street or who belittle women on dating sites because they don't just let men walk all over them. I don't want that for my sons or daughters so why do some teach these toxic examples for our children?

Let's look at the damage that statements like this make in the way they are inherently misogynistic as well as being homophobic. Being gay doesn't define someone automatically as being nurturing just as much as being tall automatically means I play basketball. Being gay or not doesn’t define one as a nurturing parent. What defines one as a parent is how we raise our children as the primary caregivers.
Men today have to constantly define just how masculine they are. Stay at home dads especially with men and even women questioning why they stay at home. Do you actually clean and cook?  You MUST be gay then. To them only gay people apparently clean their homes and prepare meals. If that is so, then yes, I am gay. I am as gay as any man who cooks for people they care about. Have you ever watched Iron Chef? Top Chef? Those people are amazing, they can cook, and guess what? Some of them are men.

As a primary caregiver, I am redefining what a “real man” means because it is important to me to be there for my children. "Real men" can mean straight guys, gay guys, working men, stay at home dads...all men who take an active role in their children’s lives and do so with pride. I can be the football coach and still know how to put my daughter’s hair into pigtails. I can coordinate an outfit for my son and show him how to properly shoot a basketball. I can demonstrate to my daughter what a pirouette is while teaching my son to tie a necktie. Masculinity is not tied to any of those activities as we all can do them whether we are gay, straight, male, or female.

Find me at a party and I might be talking with the moms in the kitchen more than the dads from the office. We share the experience of parenting which is not defined by our gender but the commonalities between our jobs. We are all just parents.

These same men still judge you on what you drive. If you traded your Mustang in for a minivan you are suddenly ball-less.  Why does driving a car that fits with your family make you less masculine? If I told you that I used that same Swagger Wagon to haul enough lumber and drywall to build a closet from my own two hands would that make you feel better?

It's sad that in this society we still look at the definition of masculinity as being able to provide financially for your family. If your wife stays home and is the primary caregiver you're considered a real man. How outdated is this notion? Things have changed.

Let me use an analogy that only "real men" would understand. Football. Since its inception, players played without pads or even helmets.  Can you imagine playing today without a helmet? You would probably think that is crazy given the way football is played now and how it has evolved.

As the game changed, so did the equipment. Leather helmets which provided little protection have evolved into skull cradling airbags to protect player's brains.  Rules changed with the game to protect the players as hits became more vicious and more head injuries became common. As the game became faster and hits became more intense, the league altered its rules so it could evolve. Does this mean that football players today are worse athletes than those of the past? Are they less tough? Would you call them pussies?

The definition of fatherhood is evolving while some clearly some men have stayed rooted in the primordial ooze. Commenting on another man's choice to stay home should never be a put down. Tying that in with your inability to believe that women would ever be attracted to a man who takes care of children is pathetic. Most women I have been around in my six years as a stay at home dad, think that a man caring for his children is sexy. Even more so when I mention to my wife that I cleaned the bathrooms and straightened up the house.

Men who stay home are showing their clear dedication to their families and giving their spouses opportunities to live up to their full potential. Because of these men, they can pursue a career that they aspire to reach if only they weren't tied to the home. Many men have given up traditional roles to be present with their children. Many like me, made that choice willingly. I was a teacher and always good at educating children, so it seemed like an easy choice to make. When it came to deciding whether I should let a stranger raise my children or whether it should be me, it was an easy decision.

I used to get this a lot when I was becoming a teacher. People were surprised to find out I was an artist and also a teacher. "I just thought with the way that you look, you would be a gym teacher or something" While I can look imposing, they found it unbelievable that I was more interested in fine art and not football. As an educator I found it imperative that boys had someone to look up to.  Believe me I've come across enough confused young men in need of positive male role models who certainly benefitted from me being there for to help guide them.

If anything, for my son, I have really taught him tools to be the best man he can be. His future spouse is going to thank me for teaching him manners, how to do his own laundry, and how to cook. You can see it in the ways he treats girls his age and his own sisters. It has shown him that staying home is an option if it fits for his family. Being a stay at home dad has taught my son that being a man doesn't have to mean you are tied to an office or job.  It teaches him that he doesn't have to feel pressured to work in a job he hates if in his heart, he wants to stay at home with his children.

Being at home for my daughters, I have taught them how they should be treated with respect and dignity.  I have shown them that a man can be just as loving and caring as woman when it comes to raising the children. I have shown them that limitations should never be put on us because of our gender and that we can accomplish anything despite society's labels. I am teaching them that they can be a stay at home mom or a CEO of a company and anything in between. Hopefully they have learned that whatever they choose, I will love them the same without judgment.

Even though these "real men" can't see that this choice is based purely out of love, I feel sorry for the Voldemorts of masculinity. They haven't experienced the love I've felt with my kids. Sure, I've lost out on some money but I have gained so much more through the struggles and triumphs, tears and laughter, the disappointments and smiling hugs. Those times when they cry out for Daddy in the middle of the night? I look forward to those, most of the time, because they know I am there for them every step of the way and that is how any real man should be.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Aerial Filming With The Ghost Drone

Imagine soaring over a countryside of rolling hills and being able to snap photos from your bird's eye view. Have you ever been to an event where you wish you could just capture the sheer magnitude of your surroundings only to be limited by your camera? I've always been tall and able to take pictures over most people but have you ever wondered what it would be like to take aerial photographs of your favorite vacation spots, a concert, or your kid's graduation?

Now you can, with the Ghost Drone. Drones are traditionally hard to pilot, easy to crash, and expensive. The Ghost Drone was created to address these challenges so you can discover a new way to capture magic around the earth.

The Ghost Drone is a drone controlled by an app on your smartphone. Attach a GoPro and you become an instant filmmaker to makes films that you can star in! The commands are easy for the beginner with one-click commands and the Auto-Follow mode will keep the camera trained on you. Take off, hover, return and land are all pre-programmed for you and the app will alert you when the battery is low. What can't Ghost do?

If you don't think Ghost is amazing yet, Ghost is compatible with GoPro, including Hero4. A smartphone-app controlled 2D gimbal stabilizes your shot. Ghost is also wind resistant, water-proof, with automatic return if the connection is lost. Night mode has LED lights to track drone in the sky. This makes capturing images in these conditions possible.

So you should be asking "Where can I get one?  Go visit the Ghost Drone IndieGoGo Page to get in on the action. But, time is running out! This campaign ends December 10th! Act fast before you miss your chance. Order one now and you can have it as soon as January 2015.

Introducing the Ghost Drone by Ehang from The Ghost Drone by Ehang USA on Vimeo.

FTC Disclaimer : I received a Ghost Drone, app, and developer kit in exchange for a post about the IndieGoGo campaign for the Ghost Drone. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Have Fun and Get Brilliant!

This guest post was brought to you by Larry Bernstein of Me, Myself, and Kids Blog 

What do you want for your children when you send them off to school each morning? Let me guess. You want them to learn. You want them to enjoy their learning.  You want them to have friends.  You want those friends to be children they can count on and feel comfortable confiding in.  Well, what I want for my children is for them to have fun and get brilliant.

I’ve been offering up these instructions ever since my now 10-year old (BR) started kindergarten. After I kissed him – he doesn’t let me do that anymore in front of other children – he’d walk toward the bus, and I would call out, “have fun and get brilliant.”

Prior to this school year, I rarely saw my children off to school (my younger son, SJ, is in 2ndgrade). Like DadNCharge himself, I am an educator. I taught English for the last 11 years in an in inner city high school in Brooklyn. To get to my school, which was more than hour away via public transportation, I had to be out of my house by 6 a.m.  The children were not even up or at least they pretended to be sleeping and stayed in their beds. 

I resigned from my teaching position over the summer to pursue freelance writing and tutoring. As you can imagine, this professional change has led to many other adjustments. One of my favorite changes is that I’m now able to be home a lot more (My least favorite is the unsteady paycheck, but I’ll save that for another post.)  Because I’m home more and have a more flexible schedule, I’ve taken over as the parent in charge in the mornings while my wife heads off to work.  

The boys and I don’t talk much in the morning. I’ve spent years leaving the house before the sun rises and getting on a dark bus where I know no one. Besides, my fellow commuters were not exactly chipper in the morning. Anyway, the boys are content to spend their mornings playing Minecraft and watching You Tube on their Kindles. I’m happy to skim through my email, read the sports page, and check out Facebook.  We talk briefly about what’s going on at school that day as they race to dress, wash up, and make their beds.

It’s while we are walking towards the school building, that I say to them, “Have fun and get brilliant.” I’d like to think of these words as my instructions.  They’re like a "how-to" for the school day. After all, don’t we all need guidance? Let’s see, what shall I do today? I've got it. I’ll have fun and get brilliant. 

These words are also my wishes. I want my children to have fun at school. I sincerely believe that having fun enhances the learning environment.  If children are having fun at school, they’ll want to be there.  Side note: My older son asks to go to school early to get extra math work. Even this ex-English teacher feels happy about that.

School should be a place where they can find a smiling face, a supportive staff member, and a good friend. I want it to be a place where they can run around (during recess that is) and use some of their massive amounts of energy, where they can laugh about their favorite You Tube video, or where they can discuss Minecraft strategy.  

Yet, school is not only about laughs and recess. School has a greater purpose and that is to help students learn. And I want my children to learn everything the teachers have to offer.  Reading, math, science, history, gym, art, etc. - let them take it all in. I want their brains to be like sponges and for them to soak up as much knowledge as they possibly can. I want my children to learn more than what is on the common core curriculum or any other curriculum. I want them to learn what it means to try their best. I want them to learn how to deal with frustration. I want them to learn how to respect their peers. I want them to learn that they don’t have to follow the crowd. I want them to learn that learning is cool.

When the school day ends, I pick up the boys and we head back to the car. And I have a question, but now I don’t even have to ask it. BR and SJ are eager to share with me.  The ride home is filled with stories about drawing pictures, doing math trees, learning technology, eating cupcakes, spelling contests, and playing Lego. In other words, they are having fun and getting brilliant.

My wishes and instructions are being followed to a "T" and I’m thrilled.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why I Bought My Son a BB Gun For Christmas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ItsADaisy #CollectiveBias

Dad! Dad! I got a bullseye! A bullseye! he exclaimed rushing up to me with the target with the biggest smile on his face.  "I can't believe it. This is only like, my third time trying! I'm good at this!"

He had just shot his first BB gun and after the first two waves of failure, had started to put the sighting of the target together with my help.  A wave of emotions came over me as I remember my own grandfather taking me into the woods next to his house and showing me how to shoot pop cans on a log.I can still remember the first time I knocked one off the log. I looked at him a long time just watching him while he shot and witnessed his determination turn into success. It was then that I decided that it was time to pass on the tradition. I was going to get a cool Christmas present for my son, a BB gun.

We were spending a long weekend at a summer boy scout camp, his first time camping overnight in a real camp where the tents were filled with spiders the size of small birds sleeping on a cot on top of a wooden palette bolstered by cement blocks. It was a canvas tent supported by poles but it had vents on all sides meaning it wasn't sealed and the creepy crawlies came a calling at night while you slept.

I'm not the camping type but I was doing it for him, for the experience we were learning together as father and son. Out in the woods "roughing it". Just two guys and their sleeping bags and three giant spiders feasting on the endless supply of bugs flying in through the gaps in our tent flaps. What I found was, I was enjoying this experience with him despite the smell that was emanating from his dirty clothes bag and we bonded over activities that I forgot about from my own childhood, namely shooting the BB gun.

My son isn't particularly blessed when it comes to sports. He unfortunately inherited almost all of my gangly awkwardness. What he does excel in is based on rules and procedures. He might be a scientist one day as he needs a verbal list of operations for the day to function. I knew that he could follow directions and be responsible with my guidance. I knew that he was ready for a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun.

My family is not usually into guns though I had a Daisy BB gun of my own as a kid and I always treated it with the highest respect. Learning gun safety is incredibly important and there have to be ground rules about owning a BB gun. In fact, Daisy educates roughly one million of America's youth a year through their Ten Lesson Shooting Curriculum about BB gun use and safety. Daisy's educational curriculum has been around since 1948.

If you're looking for cool Christmas gifts or gifts for boys or girls this holiday season, consider a Daisy BB gun. I found mine at a Walmart in the Sporting Goods section near me though it took some time to track down the model I wanted.

The Red Ryder, the most basic model of the Daisy air gun line and the one I had as a kid. The Red Ryder is the perfect choice for Ages 10+, with a single lever action cocking style it makes it easy to load the gun without it being too difficult to pump. Other series like the 880, which are multi-pump action are better suited for older kids ages 16 and up because it takes some strength to effectively operate it.

Before we even took at look at the gun, I sat my son down and had a talk about gun safety. I quizzed him on the use of the gun and we came up with these rules:

  1. The safety should be on between each shot. You only release the safety when you are ready to shoot. 
  2. The gun pointed is always pointed downrange and away from people
  3. Be aware of your line of sight and ensure anyone watching you is safely behind you. 

In addition to that, I laid the ground rules down. No use of the gun without me, his friends are not allowed to see it without me present, no friends are to ever handle the gun, and that only targets were acceptable to shoot. As added precaution, I keep the ammo in a locked box away from the gun and purchased a trigger lock that has a key that I keep as an extra measure.

We also had an honest discussion about peer pressure. I gave him scenarios where his friends might get him to take the gun out and show them. I was proud of the way he responded and how mature he was about what were the right and wrong ways to talk with friends about the gun. He was told not to be boastful or talk about it at school. This is something we are keeping within our family and it is only something he can do with me and that bragging about it would only lead to bad things.

After that, we headed to the backyard and set up a range. I bought a target trap to prevent errant BBs and picked an area in our yard away from any houses or where a ricocheting BB could do any damage. Equipped with our safety glasses, we put our rules into effect and shot together for the first time away from camp. It was awesome and I was so proud of him.

If you feel your child is ready for a Daisy BB gun of their own, then enter below for our giveaway.

  • Winner will receive a $100 gift card to Walmart for purchase of a Daisy BB Gun of your own. 
  • Open to USA residents ONLY. 
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter and provide a valid email address upon winning. 
  • Winner of the giveaway will be notified by email. In the event that you are chosen, you will be given 24 hours to respond to claim your prize. If not, another winner will be chosen.

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