Thursday, May 29, 2014

I'm Making My Kids Too Careful

I used to go behind the school to the school bus depot where they parked the buses overnight. There, they had a junkyard of sorts; piles of rusty sharp metal car hoods, and spare parts from cars long forgotten. Here is where I used to play with my friends after school, banging on the hoods with spare rocks and scraping wooden sticks against the deteriorated husks of dead vehicles, trying to coax the snakes that lived inside to slither out so we could catch them.

When we got bored we would walk in the woods near the school where the legends of a man who snatched wandering children who lived amongst those trees were passed down from grade to grade.

The story was about a little girl who walked home from school by herself one day. She lived on the other side of those woods and she decided to cut through and was never heard from again.

It was clearly an urban legend but we often dared each other to take two more steps inside than the last guy who tried it. We always feigned bravery pushing each other beyond what we thought was a safe distance to actually set foot in those woods. We didn't really know if there was a man who lived in there but none of us wanted to find out for sure.

Often after school, we would ride our bikes across two busy four lane roads to the construction site where the dirt bike trails were. We had built ramps of dirt, piled construction materials, and spare wood boards laying around. We dared each other to launch off of ramps and do stupid tricks. It was awesome and our parents were none the wiser.

After school was a time to myself and my younger brother when I was my son's age. My mom and dad both worked and I wore a key to the garage around my neck on a metal ball chain. She didn't meet us at the bus and walk us home; it was less than a block to our house. I let myself in and we stayed put until they got home. My brother and I would often find things to do, many of which weren't safe, some that were just plain stupid. We used to host wrestling matches on my parent's queen sized bed, the only thing close enough to the squared circle that we could find. I almost drop-kicked my brother's friend through a wall once and many kids left our house a little more bruised than usual.

I'd never let my kids get near a rusty car hood unless they had a pre-game tetanus shot and heavy duty work gloves.

My kids are not allowed to explore unknown areas without my supervision.

My son is nine and has yet to ride around our neighborhood on his bike by himself.

I freak out when I am not at the bus to pick up my kids and felt guilty once when I was late, and they walked one block to our house by themselves.

Is there such a thing as making my kids too careful ? Am I making them too hesitant to take risks? They have never broken an arm or gone to the ER because of something stupid they did. I feel like I am being a good parent but I see these dads who can stand back and let it happen and wonder if I am failing with my intervention.

I remember the first time I changed my son's diaper. I was so scared that I would do something wrong that my hands shook. I guess that inside, I am still scared, scared that something is going to happen that is beyond my control; scared that all this time protecting them will be taken away from me like a personalized accident sign.

It's not like they haven't been hurt from falling but I suppose it all stems from me trying to force a memory, the my first week as a stay at home dad when my son broke his collarbone, and the time my son fell off of a jungle gym flat on his back and couldn't move his legs for a few minutes.  Was I supposed to move him? Should I have screamed for help? Did he just get the wind knocked out of him or was he paralyzed from the fall? What was I going to tell my wife?  All of these things raced in my head just like any parent, dad or mom.

Eventually he sat up but he was hurting. I carried him in one arm and the baby in the other, all the way through the zoo and back to the parking lot. My legs and arms were burning and screaming in protest but I thought "I will gladly take all that pain away from him right now if it means he is OK" 

Are my kids too soft or am I just protecting them from harm? It's hard to discern the balance between toughening them up and coddling them; letting them fall so they can learn to get back up again. Watching them grow up is hard enough and now I am supposed to let them get hurt? As a dad, I am supposed to be more open to letting them fall but part of me doesn't want to see it happen or let them go. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dads Who Rock

With his baby sunglasses on strapped into his car seat and looking out of the window, my son at two used to sing whatever struck his fancy. We usually stuck with the ABC song as it was familiar and easy. Once, while headed home out of nowhere he started belting out "Elephants, I like elephants....I like when they swing through trees..." My wife and I looked at each other and started laughing.

"Elephants don't swing through trees buddy" I said, to which he replied "So, what am I thinking of?"

I raised my eyebrow and said "Those are monkeys" and he replied "Right, right, right...mon-keeeeys. I like mon-keeeeys...I like when they swim in the ocean"

"Monkeys don't swim in the ocean" I said and he said "No? What am I thinking of?"

We had no idea what he was talking about but thought that we had a genius on our hands. How did he come up with such an elaborate way to talk about animals? Enter the genius of Eric Herman and what we would learn was called The Elephant Song. Soon, we were listening to such great songs as Dance Like an Animal and Crazy Over Vegetables.

Eric Herman's new album, Party Animal, is no exception. With Eric's music you are always guaranteed to get hooked by his catchy beats and silly songs. My kids were cracking up to Can We Buy A New Car (So I Can Have A Balloon?) and The Strange and Mysterious Fate of Mister Teddy Bear. He uses a variety of music styles in his songs and each one is as unique as the next with our favorite tracks being November First and Alive, two songs that got my kids up and dancing with our first listen. Guest artists who appear are DidiPop, members of Recess Monkey and Chris Ballew (The Presidents of the USA/Caspar Babypants).

If one dad who rocks wasn't enough, Brady Rymer who is a Grammy Nominated kid musician and The Little Band that Could will release his new album Just Say Hi.  Brady has an awesome voice and the range of his sound is incredible from the variety of instruments he uses in in rollicking rock n' roll style that is sure to get your kids moving. Guest vocalists include Elizabeth Mitchell, Laurie Berkner and members of Recess Monkey. Our favorite tracks are Get This Party Started and Ice Cream Girl. Look for Brady performing at Lollapalooza on the kid's stage this summer.

We rock his tunes out in our minivan and can't help tapping our feet or singing out loud to the car next to us. Take that deep bass vibrating car!

Eric's new album, Party Animal will be released on June 3rd. If you would like to hear samples of his music or buy his great music, please visit his website 

Brady's new album, Just Say Hi will be available June 17th.  Pre-order now on his website or visit iTunes to listen to his songs.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Adam's Ribs

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Farmland/Smithfield, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #ReadySetRibs

It is hard to get kids to try new things especially when it comes to food. My kids have been more on the conservative side when it comes to new cuisine but when it comes to ribs, my nine year old son eats them like a voracious T-Rex.  Ask most kids what is their favorite food and you will hear pizza or hamburgers. Not my Adam. He will say "a full rack of ribs" before you add the period to that sentence.

This is not one of those things where a kid goes through a phase either. He actively seeks out new rib recipes and his signature move at a restaurant, if they have ribs, is to give them the Adam test. He rates the ribs on flavor, the quality of the meat, and the all important sauce.

Recently, while at a restaurant he ordered for himself. "Full rack of ribs, please" he said and when the waitress balked at him and said "You mean off the children's menu?" He said "No, adult sized". The waitress looked at me skeptically but I said "When it comes to ribs, he doesn't mess around, you better do what he says"

This is a lot of pressure for a stay at home parent to live up to. He wants fall off the bone quality and he wants his taste buds to go on a journey.  So, occasionally, I throw him a bone and give him a rib extravaganza.

I was fortunate enough to try Smithfields' Baby Back Ribs from WalMart to put them to the ultimate test, my rib eating aficionado. So, I prepped my best recipe yet and spent most of the day preparing him some sweet ribs getting ready for the Boy Vs. Food showdown.

You can have your own special Ribstravaganza and save some money too by clipping this coupon for $1.00 off Farmland/Smithfield Baby Back Ribs and St. Louis Style Ribs while supplies last. Ready to see how I prepped my #ReadySetRibs? See my recipe below or head to for more ideas from the BBQ Pitmasters of Smithfield/Farmland.

Here's our recipe if you would like to follow suit.

Adam's Ribs

2 slabs of Farmland Baby Back Ribs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup McCormick Grill Mates Pork Rub
2 cups Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce

Baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Cooling Rack
Basting Brush

1. Prep the ribs right from the package. Give them a good rinse and pat dry
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set the cooling rack on top.  This allows the circulation of the warm air around the ribs while they are baking
3. Brush the Dijon mustard on both sides and then sprinkle generously with the dry rub making sure it adheres to the meat. Place the slabs on top of the cooling rack.
4. Heat the broiler on high and set the oven rack for a few inches away from the meat. Broil for 5 minutes to give it a nice char.
5. Set your oven to 300 degrees and move the rack back to the middle of the oven. Roast ribs for a total of 2 hours. The first hour cook them uncovered. Then, for 30 minutes, cover the ribs with aluminum foil to retain moisture and continue to bake.
6. While they are cooking, prep your grill and set it for medium to low heat.
7. At the end of the first covered cooking time decide how you want them finished. Prepare your grill by setting it at medium/low. If you don't have a grill, sauce your ribs, recover with foil, and finish cooking for 30 more minutes.
8. If you have a grill, remove them from the cooling rack and sauce underneath, then place on the grill. Proceed to use the rest of the sauce on the top of the ribs and allow them to cook with sauce on for about 20-30 minutes more.
9. After cooking, you can return them to the cooling rack or just baking sheet and let them rest a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Monday, May 19, 2014

You Can Do Anything, My Daughters

It's a barrage of attacks on my eyesight, when the white light from above, unseen to my naked eye is striking each thing and reacting. White light is bouncing all around this room and is either being absorbed or reflected by every object in here.

That my eye perceives something that is that color is only through the science behind it that determines in the spectrum that a tint of red somewhere in the middle of red and orange is travelling through my pupil. And the red, green, and blue receptors in my eye are determining the levels at which I am receiving them to make sense of it all in my brain. This is how we see the color pink.

Now, imagine walking down a toy aisle where everything is pink. I just blew your mind didn't I? The overuse of pink in girls' toys is rampant and something that will never completely go away. My girls love to dress up and they love princesses but they also love superheroes and cars.

I didn't spend time with them growing up, glossing over the pages with the trucks or avoiding the pages with the tools. They need to know EVERYTHING. I decided early on as a parent that to make them well rounded they needed to experience things that some might say are for one sex and not the other.

My three year old daughter is at the age where she is identifying what things are for girls and what things are for boys. If she sees something pink or purple, she automatically assumes "girl" while anything blue or green has become "for boys". So when Educational Insights asked me if I was interested in reviewing their new Dino Construction Company toys, I wanted to show the world what girls would do with these toys. They graciously let me have one for each kid. T-Top for Sarah whom we lovingly refer to as Tri-Sarah-tops and Boom for Heidi because well, she's three.

We were impressed with the sturdiness and well made construction of these toys and they loved how they left tracks in the sand. Sarah loved that T-Tops was a bulldozer and could make the road while Boom could scoop out large holes of dirt. Both girls showed just what they could do, by using their vehicles to construct a road and plant "trees" as they inserted sticks they found in the park in holes that Heidi dug along the way.

Moms at the playground were asking where they could get their own versions and were impressed not only by how versatile the toys were but that they held my kids' attention the entire time we were in the sand area. 

"Daddy, look I'm a structor!" she would say and even paused in the middle of her play to hug her Boom to show just how much she loved playing with it.  Later that night, she wanted her to sleep in her bed but we made her a bed in our sandbox instead. 

Kids are only limited by the limits you put on them. Open them up to possibilities with play that doesn't limit their potential. Tell your kids that if they can dream it, they can do it. If you do, you just might end up with a "structor" in your family too!

Like what you read about Educational Insights toys? Now win your own!

There are four dinosaurs in the Dino Construction Company line. If you want a "structor" in your family too, you can enter to win one by following the Rafflecopter instructions below. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. At the end of the giveaway, one random winner will be chosen and contacted by email. If no response is received in 24 hours, a new winner will be picked.

FTC Disclaimer : I was given two construction vehicles for a chance to expand the minds of my daughters from Educational Insights. All the opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and are the property of DadNCharge.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Hate You Too, Single Traveller

As summer rolls around families are travelling more and airports are about to get more crowded. Here is my message to those annoyed single travellers that hate us so much. Guess what? We don't like you either.

We get that you don't like screaming babies on a plane. We know you are uncomfortable when our kids are kicking the back of your chair. We probably would rather be waterboarded then navigate through airport security with three unpredictable kids. Have you ever tried to juggle chainsaws? I have.  That's what it is like when travelling with small kids.

We know you are fast with your shoes off and your laptop out. You probably didn't wear a belt either or have it in your laptop case so you can put on when you get to the other side. I'm just trying to not give security a reason to pat me down while I am trying to remember those rules about liquids and if the breastmilk I left in the bottle from yesterday is going to be determined as a banned substance. I try to engage those oh so cheerful TSA employees with a smile because we truly don't know if we will make it to the other side. "Papers! Papers please." Move along. No plane for you!

If we just looked like we stumbled out of the jungle on an episode of Lost it is because we are slowly playing how this will go in our head which is much different than it will actually go. Up until now, we have kept this mayhem contained to a minivan for our last few family trips but our parental sanity was at it's tipping point, so we decided to share the joy with you.

You're fast. Good for you. But, you're only responsible for one person, and if you can't handle that you probably shouldn't be flying on an airplane. I have three other people to worry about. Three people that seem to you, could be terrorists the way they are behaving before going through security.

You're a seasoned traveller. Yay! My kids have been on a plane three times in their entire life, one of which they rode on their way to see a giant mouse who is good at spending your money. Anything compared to that, is going to be a letdown unless of course they are going to Grandma's house which you will probably hear all about in the next few hours.There will be a quiz after the flight, so pay attention. My kids also probably just told you our address, phone number, and the color boxers I am wearing today so I look forward to your next pen pal letter.

Just remember, you can watch a three hour full feature film and they have the attention span of gnats. The only way I can get them to sit still is to put Frozen on repeat which is what I am saving for the plane. You'll thank me later though you may be singing Let It Go in your sleep tonight. I know you are probably rolling your eyes at this point. I can hear them turning behind me while I check my pockets for the fiftieth time though I know there are no keys in them because I have 23 plastic tubs full of our crap on this conveyor belt.

I know that you don't get it. You probably only have dogs and are mumbling something about dogs listening more but if your dog has ever crapped on the rug or ripped up your favorite pillow you should know exactly how I am feeling. Sometimes herding kids is like herding cats, it just can't be done. Kids, like cats, just don't give a crap what you are saying unless there is food involved. The power of Goldfish is immeasurable.

You will probably take the exit row even though you are five foot nothing and the emergency door weighs more than you. I will watch this unfold as I am lugging the backpack carrying a full Recaro car seat onto the plane like an insane sherpa with a death wish for my back.  Make sure you duck while I am passing by, I really can't control where that diaper bag is headed, let alone see it.

If you can speed it up in the aisle, that would be helpful. You're built for speed and I am a lumbering 6'7" bull in a china shop ; if only that china shop were made of low ceilings and zero leg room. I am so looking forward to cramming my legs in behind your seat so you can full recline into my kneecaps the moment the plane takes off.

Don't worry, I'm not sitting next to you. I wouldn't want to bother you trying to knock out the presentation before you get to your hotel and God forbid I interrupt your viewing The Wolf of Wall Street which is constantly flashing tits to my nine year old son while you drink that $12 can of beer. I'm scanning the plane for a mom or grandma whose kids have grown up who will look forward to talking about all their stats. She might be craning her neck to see what kids just got on the plane. There! That one pulling pictures out of her pocketbook, she is all mine.

So, if our sippy cup rolls under your seat or a meltdown ensues because our blue crayon is missing, just keep in mind that your constant sighing really makes us want to punch you in the throat instead of politely apologizing. We really can't help it when our 9 month old is screaming because you can't explain cabin pressure to her tiny brain. Remember that hangover you had in Vegas where it felt like your head was going to explode? My baby is feeling like that and she just may have crapped herself so be glad my wife can change a poopy diaper in her lap, otherwise that aroma might be flying with us for the next two hours.

Do us all a favor and put your headphones on and try to ignore us. I'm not apologizing for being crammed in a giant metal tube at 30,000 feet with nowhere to go. This two hours in this bird is blissful compared to the every hour potty breaks and the barrage of "Are we there yets?" If you insist on staring me down prepare for the greatest battle of look away, as I have made my kids cry with just a look.

I look forward to you beelining it for the exit while I play scavenger hunt with our belongings. If you want to redeem yourself, turn and tell the closest parents that they did a great job, that you don't know how we do it. You just might upgrade yourself from first class a-hole to a regular guy.

If not, it's been real. This is goodbye. I won't see you at the baggage carousel because by the time I get there you will be at the hotel bar.  And tonight, while you are tucking in to the mini bar, I will be tucking in three beautiful kids who are excited about vacation. So enjoy your trip and if you didn't tell me nice job, I hope we got the room right next to you. Your wake up call is scheduled for 6 AM.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mom : My Biggest Fan

I can still hear her voice echoing from the stands.

"C'mon Chris! You can do it!"

Her words echoed across the field, the ping from the aluminum stands from eager feet shuffling as she moved to the edge of her seat. The sounds of the early game behind her wafting over to our diamond; the cheers, the sound of the ump, and the crack of a bat. Someone else's kid just got a hit and now it was my turn. I wasn't sure I could do it, but there in the stands, was always mom.

She always has been my biggest fan; it's a rite of passage as a parent to root your children on. You kept them safe and before your very eyes, they have learned to roll, sit up, stand up, and then walk. Before you knew it they were running and you couldn't keep up. It seems just like yesterday that you held them in your arms and marveled at their tiny fingers wrapping around yours. You can close your eyes and see them sleeping next to you or on you, almost feeling their body heat right over your heart.
My mom still cheers for me in everything I do and the greatest lesson she has taught me is to be generous with encouraging words. When I was full of doubt, she was there with confidence. When I lacked faith, she helped me believe. When I was down, she knew how to lift me up.  When I was scared, she made me courageous. That's the power of my mom.

Those words just somehow steeled my nerves and when the pitcher squared with a full count, eager to strike me out and head to the Snack Shack for an after game Mr. Pibb, I knew I could hit this ball. I believed in myself.

"Nice and easy swing. Just make contact." mom said. I dug in and waited for the pitch.

When I saw Young deliver the ball, it looked like a watermelon. I saw it floating to me like the ball was on a lazy river on Summer break.

I crushed it.

The ball sailed out of the park and onto the tennis courts behind the field. I had hit my first home run.

My mom went wild! I ran the bases and pumped my fist like Kirk Gibson. It was my first and only home run of my life. The game was over and they gave me the game ball. I never received one again.

My mom said "I knew all along that you could do it, I'm so proud of you”. No reward is ever greater. Not even a home run game ball.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mommy's Little Flowers : A Mother's Day Craft

Mother's Day is a special time to show your wife just what you are made of on her special day. The obligatory breakfast in bed is fast approaching, and while this is a good first move, you will want to demonstrate that this wasn't a last minute move to wow her with heart shaped pancakes.

Show her how much you love her with flowers that will last forever. If you have multiple kids, then this is one bouquet that will never wither and fade away.

All you need are a few simple supplies to make something special for the mom in your life.


(1) Large white paper plate - Flower

(1) yellow party plate(s)

photo of your child for center

Glue gun

Packing tape or other stronger tape

Green foam or construction paper - leaves
Enough for the size of both hands

Long thick cardboard or flat wooden stick
(You can substitute paper towel rolls or any sturdy cardboard as a replacement) - Stem

(tempera dries fast and is easy to clean)
Your choice of color for the flower and green for the stem

Optional adjustments:
If your kids are too young or crazy for the paint mess, you can use markers or if you have older kids and have spray paint, you can make some cool effects on the plate which dries quickly.


1) Take white plate and cut around the edges to form the petals. You are basically cutting up and then down in a wave pattern all the way around the ridge.

2) Cut the plate edges off of the yellow plate.

3) Place yellow plate, yellow side down on the back side of the white plate (also face down) Using a pencil, trace around a soup can for the picture opening. Cut the yellow plate circle out, then trace the circle onto the back side of the white plate.  Cut out all circles.

4) Let your kids paint the white plate with ridges facing up.

5) While this dries, have them color the cardboard stem green. Marker is faster but you may let them paint this as well. 

6) While that dries, take the green foam, and trace both of their hands. Cut out for the younger ones and let the older ones do it themselves.

7) Print out a picture of your child(ren). I used card stock instead of regular printer paper, or if you still have them, a real photograph is best . The opening of the soup can will be your guide. You will want it slightly bigger than the opening.  Cut out the picture and tape it to the back of the plate with packing tape or painter's tape. These work better than Scotch tape but you can use whatever you have.

8) Glue the yellow plate on top of the white painted plate. I use a glue gun for staying power.

9) Glue the hands (as leaves) to the stem with the glue gun. If the stem become too wobbly, you can tape popsicle sticks to the back to support it better.

10) I like to write on the back of the hands, the name of the kid(s) and the age along with the date if it is a keepsake that lasts, it will be worth it to remember.

Mommy's Little Flower by Heidi (Age 3)

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Celebrate Mom by Empowering Women Through WalMart

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart and Walmart Foundation. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a stay at home dad who had a great mom as an inspiration for just how difficult it is to raise the children and a wife that supports our family so that I can stay home, I have found Mother's Day to be an extra special celebration for my family.  My wife works extremely hard to provide for our family so we spend extra time finding ways we can show our appreciation.

With Mother's Day coming up, it is a great time to prepare your kids for expressing that love. Our kids especially love to make that extra effort on those mornings preparing breakfast for her in bed. But, when it comes to finding the right gift for her, that can be especially hard as taking all three of them to a store and asking them "What can we buy mom for Mother's Day?" can result in anything from jellybeans to a socket wrench.

 photo EmpoweringWomen_logo_FINAL_zps2551532a.jpg

Now, WalMart makes it easy for us by offering a selection of great gifts for the special women in your family through Walmart’s Empowering Women Together program. To help shopper’s give a gift with meaning this Mother’s Day, Walmart’s Empowering Women Together program is offering products made by small women-owned businesses that range from scarves and aprons, to chocolate sets and cards.

 photo ChevronScarf_zps6e521401.jpg                             

Walmart is reinforcing its commitment to empower women by expanding the availability of products made by small women-owned businesses from online in to more than 2,600 Walmart stores just in time for this year’s Mother’s Day shopping.

One of the great draws for me staying at home is that the products will be available both online and in stores. As always with WalMart, the option to ship to store is a timesaver if you have waited too long and are stuck.

By purchasing one of these products, you lift and empower the women behind the scenes to create new jobs and improve both their own lives and the lives of their families and communities.

 photo Walmart_MothersDayInfographic_FINAL_zps5b983749.jpg

My kids were excited to be a part of the gift shopping process. With so many great items to choose from, it was easy for them to pick something that was meaningful to them for their mom that wasn't completely guided by me. I told them they could browse through the page and click on the images to take a closer look. My daughter was quick to point out the best styles and my son was insistent on a fair price. It turns out that they have really good taste. That must be all of dad's influence! 

To buy these great products for the mother in your life head to Walmart’s Empowering Women Together and shop online or in stores today.

 photo a68571de-b158-437e-a156-eb64d5d3df21_zps6ab20068.jpg

Visit Sponsor's Site