Friday, March 21, 2014

I Get To Do This

A post on Forbes ranked the nine toughest leadership roles that someone can hold. Stay at home parent was number one.

It beat out Corporate CEO, United States Congressperson, Editor for Daily Newspaper (whatever that is), Mayor, Rabbi, Pastor, Mullah, or other Holy Leader, Football Coach, Second In Command of any Organization, and University President. I'm calling bullshit.

I'll be the first guy to celebrate all the things we do as stay at home parents. It is a tough job and it has it's ups and downs no less than any other job.  Being a stay at home parent is tough and it takes sacrifice but, it also takes a willing partnership to really make it work.

It takes trust and confidence in each other's abilities. One supports the other in a partnership of epic proportions.

There is a saying in boy scouts that we don't "have" to do anything, that we "get" do it instead. The same thing holds true for my job as a stay at home dad. Without my wife, I wouldn't be here. If she wasn't successful at providing for our family I would be teaching and most likely, missing out on all these moments with my kids. I get to stay at home because of her.

It is because of my wife, a working mom, that any of this even happens. It is the working parent that has it tough. It is the working parent who gets dumped on too often when unfortunately, money is what makes the world go round and not kisses on boo-boos or making the kid's lunches.

She is the one that has to leave the teary eyed kids in the morning. Our three year old often says "You're going to work AGAIN?" to which she replies "Yes honey, I love going to work"

 She deals with the kids with such grace though let's face it, she LOVES to work. Not because she wants to leave us for the day but because she really excels at what she does. We remind the kids that she does love it. It's not all about money because we don't want our kids to think that is the reason behind work. Love what you do and the fact that you get paid for it will make it even sweeter.

Working parents sacrifice everything for the good of their family. They go in early, they work late and they miss out on things that they wish they didn't have to watch from a previously recorded program. I love seeing my son's play or my daughter's concert in person but honestly I wish my wife could be there with me to see it too.

My wife's work doesn't begin and end at the office. It is a constant struggle to fight through emails and make the meetings and to deliver all these things on time because people need things NOW, NOW. NOW. Dealing with the kids is sort of the same but the difference is they can wait. Or rather, that you can teach them how to wait for their constant need for Goldfish. Businesses don't take timeouts. If you want to get anywhere, you need to deliver and that is what she does for us.

It's stressful to be the the primary breadwinner. So much is riding on your success. The family is depending on you to bring home the bacon. I can only imagine the number of times where she has just wanted to walk out or scream only to look up in her office and see a picture of our family and know that she has to forge ahead. Thank you honey, we literally owe everything to you.

We know that you sacrifice your time and energy into everything you do. The fact that you have anything left in the tank to deal with me and the kids during your "down time" is a testament to your strength.

Thank you for having faith in me to take care of the children. Thank you for supporting me when I'm down and picking me up when I most need it. Thank you for taking care of us and providing for the things we need. Thank you for letting me "get to" do this.

Friday, March 14, 2014

11 Ways St. Patrick's Day is Different With Kids

I have been to enough Irish pubs in my time to know two things about Ireland.  First, there is no such thing as happy hour unless you count the hour when the pub opens. Secondly, the end of the night is always going to end up with you eating some kind of chips to soak up the Guinness fermenting inside.

I went to Ireland twice, thankfully during a time when digital cameras were not prevalent and disposable cameras were the way to go. So many embarrassing pictures were avoided because of my 24 shot limit. Taking pictures of yourself and in a bar just wasn't done unless you were with some girls. 

There weren't selfies or photobombs, just the plastic click and the grating wind of the Walgreens special.  Which, if you were lucky enough, for a few extra bucks could get one with a flash and another third of your pictures might come out. 

The adventures over there started immediately. The Emerald Isle was more mysterious than the one we saw Jack Shepard on though there were no literal smoke monsters. I lost my best friend in Dublin the very first night and somehow staggered to my hostel though I had no recollection of where I was actually staying.  We never made it to the Guinness brewery though our rental car smelled like one for days.

I climbed Croagh Patrick, the third highest mountain in County Mayo despite my feeble American “conditioning” and was passed by a 90 year old man with a shillelagh who told me to “Pick it up or get the fuck off the mountain”.

I stayed in a bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere surrounded by pictures of Jesus and crucifixion crosses over my bed while our travelling companion in the next room woke the entire house because of his night terrors.  Because of that the owner thought we were demons and I slept in a tiny European car, trying to fold my legs like a circus clown.

I've paid for two nights at a B&B in Cork but never actually slept in the room where my luggage was. I hit numerous golf balls into the ocean and was even chased by some townies with pitchforks and brooms after a crazy night at a pub on the west coast.

I’ve seen the majesty of the Cliffs of Moher and dangled my legs over the side despite any guardrails whatsoever. I am guessing that anyone stupid enough to go over deserves it and anyone who doesn't truly has the Luck O’ The Irish. 

I have visited Blarney Castle and have tipped a shifty Irishman for spotting me while I hung upside down to kiss the stone.  Luckily for me, he was there to tell me to “mind my nut” which is something I had to do a lot of over there as I was dubbed “The Two Meter Man”. Sometimes I felt like Hagrid.

While there was no pot of gold, there were many containers of liquid gold consumed and even run ins with the Garda while I tossed traffic pylons around Trinity College. Harp and Guinness are good for you but can also have some influence on your behavior.

You truly haven’t seen green until you have been to Ireland. Not even the Chicago River comes close even on the day that they dye it greener than it usually is.

Clearly,a lot has changed since then. A LOT. I had hair back then and lots of it. Every St. Patrick’s Day makes me think about those days in Ireland and my time with my Irish friends in Chicago.

So here's my list of St. Patrick's Day comparisons between BEFORE kids and NOW

  • Before, I thought leprechauns were chasing me. Now I am the one chasing little leprechauns.
  • Before, I was bar hopping in Chicago without a coat. Now, I tell my kids if their heads aren't covered, they are going to get sick.
  • Before I was drinking until the wee hours of the morning. Now I have to get up in the middle of the night to go wee.
  • Before I started the night going out at 11. Now, I am ready to get in bed at 11.
  • Before, I was drunkenly dancing a jig. Now, I am trying to teach my kids how to get jiggy with it.
  • Before I was interested in causing mischief. Now I am trying to maintain the mischief.
  • Before, I used to start drinking at 10 am and go until 4 am the next day. Now, I can hardly get through the day without daddy's quiet time.
  • Before, we were Paddy training. Now, we are Potty training.
  • Before I was spending lots of time with pints. Now I am spending time with pint sized children.
  •  Before I sang a rousing rendition of Whiskey In The Jar. Now, I am singing Let It Go.
  •  Before, my favorite sounds were Slainte! and Black 47. Now, I look forward to “Time for  Bed!” and lullabies. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Superhero

When I became a stay at home dad almost five years ago I had most of the concerns that most of us have starting out. How was I going to run the household successfully and take care of all the kids at the same time without going crazy?

As a former teacher in a K-8 school for three years, and in a high school for seven years, I felt that I had the necessary training for dealing with everything a kid could throw at you. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was looking forward to focusing on teaching only my kids instead of everyone else’s kids.

 I have had many rewarding moments as a teacher. I have had students that have been very successful and who have come back to share their success with me as they grew up into adults. However, there is no feeling greater than your own kids making you proud of the people they are becoming, when you know that you had a part in making that happen.

There is one such moment as my tenure as DadNCharge. Being a stay at home dad means that you are constantly going to be around moms. While we are a growing breed there is still that contingent of stay at home moms that make everything happen and being around them intimidated me. I didn’t understand how they could so easily make friends with chit-chat; they seemed so at ease with each other. Meanwhile, I picked up my kids from pre-school, waved to the teacher and made a bee-line for the minivan.

When it came time for my son to go to elementary school I really felt the added pressure. Parents were volunteering left and right and getting so involved in their kids’ schoolwork. I thought “How am I going to add this to the million things I already do?” 

 Long story short, I found a way. I became a classroom volunteer and talked to other moms. I even became a part of a group that called themselves the Y Mommies whom were the moms of the pre-school kids at our local YMCA. 

After some time it didn’t matter that I was the only dad among these great moms. All of them loved that I was a stay at home dad. Many of their kids had fathers that were not positive role models and they used to tell me that it gave them hope that there were good dads out there.

The ultimate compliment however, came from my 7 year old son when he was in first grade. The teacher asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  Asking a kid what he wants to do when he grows up is constantly in flux. Heck, I wanted to be an archaeologist when I “grew up” but I think that had to do more with getting chased by a giant ball and a certain fedora wearing professor than anyone. 

Kids in his class were seated in a circle and sharing what they wanted to be. Many of the kids said typical things like baseball players, doctors, firefighters, and police officers. I was watching my son with great anticipation. He seemed very excited about what he was going to share.

The time came for my son to take his turn and to be honest I was super intrigued about what he would say. For the longest time he wanted to be a superhero and that changed to a toy-maker. He shocked everyone including myself when he said “I want to be a stay at home dad.” 

That moment solidified my faith in what I was doing at home was making a difference. My son had become a loving, thoughtful, and polite young man to his younger sisters and I know it is because he sees the way that I love them and emulates it.

When I get discouraged about not doing enough or feeling like I don’t make a difference in the world I remember this day the most.

I have since then treated every day as an opportunity to be the best dad I can be for my kids. Hey, if I beat out the superhero job for future consideration I must have some super powers of my own.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tocomail : The Email App For Kids

Tocomail is the new app for iOS. It has created an app for kids with multiple platforms for kids ages 5 to 8 and another for kids 8+. Parents will like the safety features like control over the contact list, while kids love all the fun features, like an extensive drawing board.

You use the app by setting up the account under your own name which informs you of your child's activity with the app via email. Any time the child tries to add a contact, you are sent a notification of the change. Also, children can't access the app without first accessing the parent page which helps you control them using it without you being present. For this reason, this app is ideal because it relies on your supervision to make it work. 

However, you must think about what you want your children to be exposed to. Does a five year old really need email? If you want your children to send something to Grandma or Grandpa, aren't your going to send it for them anyway? With my son being eight, I decided that with my supervision, this would be a good introduction to what email is about. He knows that we send and receive emails but the concept is still foreign to him. However, he does know what a text is. Then I tried to explain that emails were electronic letters that you send via the internet and he had his confused face look. 

Tocomail's new mobile app is now available for download in the iTunes App Store and will be available soon in the Google Play Store. Tocomail is also available on the web at You can see how Tocomail works first hand by checking out the demo video on YouTube. 

If you do decide that this is a good fit for your family you can add multiple children to the account as well and as you can see below, you can shift from one user to the other without much of a hassle. You can use this app to teach your children about how to use email, kids can draw pictures and send them directly to Nana or Grandpa right from your phone.

Tocomail is free on the web and in the App Store, with a $2.99/month or $29.99 annual premium service option. But if you enter below in the giveaway, you have a chance to win a code for the $29.99 premium service for one year.  I will be giving away 10 codes until March 24th.

FTC Disclaimer: I was given a free code for Tocomail Premium service for one year ($29.99 value) in exchange for this review and provided 10 codes for the giveaway of this service. All opinions expressed are solely the thoughts of DadNCharge.

Why I Don't Like Squirrels

Photo credit- Flickr : Doug Wheller

Back in high school when I still lived with my parents in their basement, my younger brother and I fought an epic battle against the deadliest of foes.

We came home after school one day and headed down to my room which was in the basement next to my father's office. Walking by his office I noticed something was wrong. It was trashed beyond belief. Tiles in the drop ceiling were down, papers strewn about everywhere, and shredded paper covered the floor.

We thought that someone had broken in but noticed that nothing was gone anywhere else in the house. Once before, we had trouble with animals gaining entry to our house when a mother raccoon decided to have her babies inside our chimney. When my parents came home,  we told them what we saw and they called our local animal trapper. Trapper Dan.

Trapper Dan surmised that a raccoon had somehow gained access to the attic and somehow was getting into the house. My room and my dad's office were located towards the back of the basement near the laundry room and could be isolated by closing a door between that space and the rest of the house. We kept that door closed and Trapper Dan put animal traps with cat food bait in the laundry room and attic to catch the critter.

Of course, I still slept in my own room but kept the door closed although I didn't sleep that much because at night I would hear the scratching in the walls. It seemed like it was everywhere!

The next morning, I got up to use the bathroom and was sitting on the throne when I heard the scratching right behind me. It was in the walls! I finished up and cautiously entered the laundry room. The cage was there but the cat food was gone, the culprit made a clean getaway!

We couldn't figure out why the trap hadn't caught them. These raccoons were really smart, so we re-baited the traps.

We went about our business as usual. My brother and I went to school and we returned later in the day, I was frankly sick of having to open the isolated door everyday and make sure nothing got past me into the rest of the house. I needed to do laundry and had to be in that room to get it done.

I loaded up my basket and snuck into the back room. As a turned the corner I came face to face with the culprit. THE SQUIRREL. It froze. I froze. I stared at it and it's little beady eyes stared back and me.
The Beast

Having watched Christmas Vacation a billion times in my life I knew that catching this squirrel was not going to be easy. Catching it in a coat and smacking it with a hammer was not ideal. Clark Griswold taught me that.

I had to keep him from going back up through the wall and escaping and I needed to end this now.
I slowly backed out of the room quietly, letting him proceed with the cat food, hoping that he would be there when I got back.

I rushed upstairs to find my brother "Brett! I found the animal, it's a SQUIRREL!" Brett looked at me, narrowed his eyes and said "The only good varmint, is a dead varmint."

We went into the garage looking for anything to suit up with. Imagine the scene where Rambo prepares for battle. We certainly didn't want this thing to attach itself to our face. We didn't know what it was capable of and my mind kept going back to the Monty Python rabbit scene.

My brother decided on a catcher's mask and and umbrella. I grabbed my BB gun, a hockey glove for the exposed hand, and my helmet. I really wanted that catcher's mask as I envisioned it's little paws gouging out my eyeballs out but I had the gun, not to mention I was 6'7"! How difficult could it be?

We crept slowly downstairs and acting like a movie SEAL team trying to communicate with hand signals. I pumped the BB gun an insane amount of times. "WHAT?" my brother said too loudly. "Shhhh! We don't want to scare it. It's go time." I said and we went in.

The squirrel was there, still eating. It stopped when it saw us and reared up on his hind legs. I thought it was going to jump at us. It looked toward the wall at the escape route. I took aim and shot it before it had a chance to disappear.

Photo by
It went down immediately and we celebrated. But both my brother and I were hesitant to make sure it was really dead.  We had seen enough horror movies to know that this moment was exactly when Chucky popped up and claimed his victim. Cautiously, I walked up to it and poked it with the BB rifle.

That's when it popped up and made a run at us. I tried to kick it and Brett took a mighty swing like Frank Thomas trying to put The Big Hurt on the retreating squirrel. He connected and in the process hit the side of the washing machine, the umbrella shattering into pieces as he lost his only weapon. "I'm out!" he exclaimed and peeled away from the tiny invader.

The squirrel, stunned but still not out, popped up again and started to go towards the space in the wall from whence he came. My brother is not a person of blazing speed but in that moment, he rose to the occasion. I felt like I was watching it in slo mo.  In one deft movement, he grabbed my basket, dumped the laundry, and tried to pin the squirrel to the ground with his new implement.

Unfortunately, there was the pipe from the A/C unit running to the drain in the floor impeding the contact with the ground, giving the squirrel an inch of space to work with. It flipped and writhed towards that space knowing that if it got out it was free to eat more cat food. "Not today squirrel!" he yelled imposing all the force physics would allow.

The epic battle between my brother and the squirrel raged on. I reloaded in slow motion and pumped the BB gun until my arms ached. It was time to end it. I finally stood over the squirrel and said "Hasta la vista squirrel" and bagged the little rodent.

Since that day, squirrels have acted differently around me and the squirrels in other states have taken notice like there is a secret society that has me marked. I have no love for squirrels. I own a Yankee Flipper bird feeder for this reason. My dad has battled with squirrels. He even had to extract one that crawled inside the cage of the squirrel proof feeder and got stuck.

I don't even like the cartoon squirrel from Ice Age. And while some other bloggers like Dadscribe enjoy squirrels, I do not. There are Facebook pages like Squirrels are Evil and Are Taking Over the World and there are groups like N.A.D.S dedicated to an anti-squirrel movement. All I know is that ever since that day, the deal with me and squirrels was off. I wouldn't want it any other way. Game on squirrels, game on.

UPDATE : Last summer,two squirrels decided it was a good idea to chase each other up my downspout and got stuck. So I heard a scratch, scratch, scratching noise that I couldn't figure out for days. The bottom squirrel died and the top one was alive and I had to extract him myself. If that doesn't give you the heebie jeebies, I don't know what will.

Only one squirrel was harmed in the making of this post and if you think they are cute and innocent, check out the below video.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Run A Fast Break on Cooking

When it comes to cooking I am looking for the fast break option. I don't have time to run a play or set a screen on the screaming toddler. I need to score quickly and I need it to be delicious and nutritious. I need it to be something fun that my kids will love eating and I need to get it on the table before the clock winds down.

The perfect way to make this happen is with frozen foods. Frozen foods provide delicious produce, perfectly-portioned meals, and a variety of ethnic cuisines and dishes to meet strict dietary needs. Not only that but fruits and vegetables are captured at the peak of their ripeness and frozen to lock in all their natural vitamins and it has been done naturally for centuries.

You might think that looking at some of these frozen foods that there is no room to create.  Just like on the basketball court, there is always room to create. With the help of, you can find recipes that are quick and easy to make for your family while catering to your personal needs and likes, most of which can be met right there in the frozen food aisle.  Talk about a SLAM DUNK!

As a stay at home dad who does most of the shopping, I regularly purchase from the freezer aisle because they are a better value and with perfect portion sizes, there is no waste and no danger of overeating.  But most of all, because of the speed and easy preparation making it more convenient. The freezer aisle includes options that cover snack-time, lunch, dinner, entertaining, and specialty food occasions like The madness of March basketball. These foods help me break some ankles in the kitchen.

Life of Dad and The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association has teamed up and have asked me to participate in the #FrozenChefMadness promotion.  

Fifteen other dad bloggers and I will be competing for the title of Frozen Chef during the #FrozenChefMadness promotion.

I am going to take three frozen food items and turn them into the greatest recipe you have ever seen. Or in other words, just another day as a stay at home parent. 

I call my recipe the Pick and Roll which is featured to the right.  Can you believe that three of the ingredients featured came from frozen food?

Now, I am going to put you in the game. Because I want YOU to win also. 



  • Grand prize: $800
  • Second place: $250
  • Third place: $150
  • Fourth place: $100

Easy Home Meals judging criteria:

  • Creativity of recipe (30%)
  • How hungry the photo makes us/enticing factor (30%) and
  • Utilization of frozen food products (40%)

Visit the Life of Dad page for official rules and more details. 

Be sure to join us for the #FrozenChefMadness Twitter party on March 19th at 9pm (EST) to learn all about the great recipes and to win some cool prizes.

Let's make this Bracket Challenge a Cinderella story and bring a win home!

FTC DisclaimerI have partnered with Life of Dad, LLC for the#FrozenChefMadness promotion.  Sponsored by NFRA (, the #FrozenChefMadness promotion gives anybody the chance to win a $800 Visa gift card.

The Pick and Roll Recipe

Life of Dad and have asked me to be a brand ambassador with 15 other Dad Bloggers for the #FrozenChefMadness promotion. The bracket is set and here is my full court press.

I took at least three frozen food items from the Easy Home Meals Product List and created my own dish which I call the Pick and Roll. It is Taquitos with a Mango and Sweet Corn Chutney and Guacamole. All it took were three frozen ingredients and a few enhancements to make it special.


1 box frozen Jose Ole' Taquitos
1 bag (16 oz) frozen Mango Chunks
1 bag (11 oz) frozen Green Giant Honey Roasted Sweet Corn - Seasoned Steamers
1 avocado
1 large tomato
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 red onion
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees as indicated on box of taquitos
  • While it is heating up, dice the tomato, cilantro, and onion and set aside
  • Take 3/4 cup of the frozen mango and run it under cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and dice, set aside
  • Put the Green Giant Honey Roasted sweet corn in the microwave for 4 minutes. Let stand for 1 min.
  • We want the corn to be cooked but not piping hot as it will go in the chutney
  • When done, mix mango, 1/4 of the bag of corn, half of the tomato, onion, and cilantro and mix
  • Chill this mixture in the fridge.
  • Half the avocado and scoop out the insides into a bowl and mash
  • Add the other half of the cilantro and tomato and mix well
  • Add the salt and lime juice to create the guacamole, then chill it in fridge
  • Once the oven is ready, put the taquitos on a baking sheet on the middle rack for 14 minutes
  • Take them out of the oven. You can crisp up the tops by lightly basting with oil and broiling for 3 min.
  • Let them stand for 1 minute before serving.
  • Present the chutney in a bowl with the guacamole on the side for a special game treat.
  • Portable and good for you, this side is sure to score some points with your team.

Easy Home Meals will choose the winners on the basis of:

  • How creative you get with your appetizer/prepared snack food recipe
  • How hungry the photo makes us
  • How you use frozen food products in your recipe

Wish me luck and you can enter too!

I have partnered with Life of Dad, LLC for the#FrozenChefMadness promotion. Sponsored by NFRA (, the #FrozenChefMadness promotion gives anybody the chance to win a $800 Visa gift card.