Friday, November 20, 2015

Why I Am Teaching My Kids to Hate The Packers

When my son was 20 months and was repeating everything I said, I would regularly take him downstairs to our basement landing where I had hung three banners. The first was of Mike Ditka, Da Coach who led us to victory in 1985. The second was a banner of Walter Payton arguably one of the best running backs I have seen play for the Chicago Bears. The last banner honoring the Superbowl win in 1985.

When my son was born in 2005, my wife got me my own personalized jersey commemorating his entry into this world and every time I wear it to watch games, it brings us good luck. Superstitions and football go hand in hand. As he grew he watched me watching football on Sundays and learned on his own how to say TOUCHDOWN when he would see his dad jumping up and down in front of the television celebrating a score.

When we would walk down those basement stairs I would make it a point to have him touch each banner and say a word or two about each one. At first he would just listen and look at me when I said "Coach Ditka. Walter Payton, Da Bears!" and would always laugh at the last one depending on how loud I would say it. Eventually he started saying it too and if you haven't seen a toddler say Ditka, it's pretty darn cute.

He has grown up only knowing one team though we have lived in Pittsford, NY home of the Buffalo Bills training camp where they would work out prior to the season at St. John Fisher College a mere two miles from our house. Not once in the three years we lived there did I take him. While it would have been a cool experience it would have felt to me like a betrayal.

Growing up as a fan of another team is tough though my kids have handled it well. They regularly complain about all the Packers paraphernalia that stores seem to carry and lament at stores' terrible decisions not to stock them with the Bears stuff instead. My hate for all things Packers related has transferred nicely to them. Once when he was five while at the YMCA my son saw a man wearing a Packers winter hat. He booed him all the way out the door as if he were Aaron Rodgers himself. While I publicly scolded him for this as people were staring at us, I privately high-fived him later and told him I was proud for sticking up for Chicago.

I now live in Philadelphia, behind enemy lines in Eagle country and fly my Bears flag with pride no matter what their record is. My minivan is adorned with Chicago Bears stickers, front end license plates, and a back end license plate holder. Let's just say that people know who I am rooting for though they often ask me what the tiger symbol on the side of the swaggerwagon is. People ask me "Why aren't you an Eagles fan? Why don't you adopt the home team?" It's because I'm a Chicago fan and no move will ever change that.

There's something to be said about the stout sports fan who never backs down from the jeers of opposing team's fans. Having faith in your team through the low times and the highs shows my kids just how much dedication I have to the Chicago Bears. But it's that rivaly between Green Bay and any other NFC North team for that matter that I hammer into them. There is no better way to talk smack about another team than to wear it proudly for everyone to see.

Smack Apparel has been doing just that since 1998. If you're a Bears fan like me, you need to let these Packer fans that they will get their comeuppance one of these days. It doesn't matter if we've had 22 different quarterbacks since 1985, we will still stand behind our team. Packers fans don't like Cutler? Guess what? We LOVE him. In our hearts they will always be the Monsters of the Midway and we will show up every Sunday just to prove it. The point is, we will never give up. We will never quit. We've won three straight games and the Packers just lost TO THE LIONS! That's just pitiful.

I grew up watching my own dad turn off the TV sound and only listen to the broadcast through Chicago sports radio. I cheered alongside him in the basement whooping and hollering at the TV when they scored or when the refs made a terrible call. It's a family thing that gets passed down from generation to generation. Want to pass the love of your team down to your little ones?  Smack Apparel also has its Rookie Wear line to start them off early. Smack Apparel has every team and every sport represented whether it is pro football or college, baseball or soccer.

Looking to get your holiday shopping done early from the comfort of your own home? Smack Apparel's Black Friday/Cyber Monday special is 25% off all orders made from the Smack Apparel website. If you act now before December 31st all shipping is FREE on direct website orders!

Don't give those Packers fans the chance to tell you how great their team is. Shut them up with some Smack Apparel wear this holiday season. Let your fan wear their team pride on their sleeves and to all those Packers fans, BRING IT. Daaaa BEARS!

Follow Smack Apparel on Twitter , Facebook, and Instagram 

Disclaimer : I was compensated by Smack Apparel for this post. All opinions expressed are those of DadNCharge alone. Now go buy some Smack Apparel and tell your rivals what you really feel about them. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

5 Ways You Can Help The Man on the Playground

This post was sponsored by Socialstars and Minute Maid. All opinions expressed are DadNCharge's alone. #minutemaid #doingood 

I'm sitting here on the bench of the playground surrounded by laughter. The kids are laughing and having fun swinging like monkeys from rung to rung; sliding down twisty slides with reckless abandon. The moms on the playground are swapping stories about their children chuckling about diaper changing woes and bedtime routine meltdowns. I've been there too I'd have so much to share if they would only let me in.

Women have this ease about them when it comes to chatting someone up on a playground. I always marvel at how easy their conversation begins and the long duration of their discussion can become. Soon, they are exchanging numbers and making future play dates just like that.

Staying at home can be isolating. Now take that feeling of loneliness and compound it with the knowledge that I am the only dad here with my kids. Can you not talk to me because I am a man? Is being friendly going to be misconstrued as flirting? Will your husband be comfortable when you tell him later that you met a stay at home dad and his daughter played so well with your daughter?

For many of us stay at home dads not knowing if we are "allowed" at Mommy and Me classes or part of the playgroup can be intimidating. We've been in classrooms where volunteers are always referred to as "Class Moms" and overheard you referring to your husband as an overgrown child as we are putting on a puppet show for the kids at story time.  If seems like we are standoffish it's because we don't know how you feel about us being there.

In my experience, conversations between myself and a mom are more forced like we've been thrown together on a date with nothing in common. The reality is, we do. We are both parents. We are both staying at home. We have both seen and heard it all so let's just share the joys and struggles we both have experienced. Parents should support one another without judgment because every family is different. Here are a few ways we can all be more welcoming and supportive to one another as fellow parents; remember we are all #doingood.

1) Put your phone away 

I make a concerted effort to leave my phone in my pocket while at the park. A parent on his/her phone at the park says "I'm busy. I'm not available to talk. Move along, nothing to see here." Putting the phone away allows us to actually have eye contact before we have a conversation and not having distractions means we are invested in actually talking to each other.

2) All we want to do is talk 

We aren't there to hit on you, we are with our children! We love our wives. We've spent most of the morning scraping Cheerios off the floor and watching the same episode of Peppa Pig on an endless loop. We just need to have a conversation with someone who doesn't say potty when they are referring to the bathroom. Forget what When Harry Met Sally has taught you, men and women can be friends.

3) Don't be intimidated

As a 6'7" bald guy I get it. I'm ginormous. Your kids probably think I am straight from the Jack and Beanstalk story or maybe my green sweatshirt is giving them a Jolly Giant flashback to their favorite frozen peas. Many of us have beer bellies and beards but that doesn't mean we don't have feelings. We are staying at home because we are caring and nurturing just like you. Please don't judge us for our outward appearances and give us a chance and take that leap.

4) Start the conversation

We love talking about our kids as much as you do. An easy ice breaker is asking how old our children are. Find out what we have in common and we'll probably talk your ear off. Many of us are introverts or have anxiety about friendships with other parents that we don't know. In many cases, we may be new to the area or don't know any other stay at home dads. Be willing to open up that door with us.

5) Be encouraging

How good is it to hear a compliment from a total stranger about how you are doing something right with your children? Many dads like to play along with the kids while at the park and aren't passive. Does he hang back and let his kids explore? Is he helicoptering around his toddler? Either way, he's doing things his way. Compliments reinforce that we are doing something right with our children, We've all questioned whether what we were doing was right for them so hearing that someone else is supportive of our choices is a great feeling.

When I moved to a city where I didn't know anyone and I was the only dad at preschool pickup, a group of moms who I regularly saw once asked me "Hey, would you like to come out with the other moms sometimes? I did and it was great. It started friendships based on one commonality, that we were all engaged parents. It didn't matter that I was a dad and they were moms. Our kids were growing up together and they accepted me into their community.

Eventually we ending up moving away and it was hard leaving new friends behind. What it taught me was that a supportive community means everything to parents. The parents your kids are playing T-ball now will be at baseball games later. That dad volunteering to read in class may be your son's scout leader in the future. Your daughter's soccer coach might be her teacher by middle school. Just like in the video below, that mom raising her daughter by herself may need a little encouragement from you. We are all connected. Let's help one another now and into the future. Take a moment to thank someone for being the great parent who is #doingood for other parents in your community.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Trumping the Bedtime Stallers With 5 Minute Favorites

It's been a long day and you're looking forward to some Netflix and chill parental style. If you're not familiar with the concept it means sitting on the couch with your significant other trying to finish an entire episode before you fall asleep together. That's what you have to look forward to twenty somethings, so enjoy your version while you can.

Nothing can delay our time together like the bedtime stall tactics of our children trying to eke out another five or ten minutes awake just so they can still wake up at 6:30 am everyday. Keep them up late and they will get up early. Send them to bed early and they will wake up even earlier. There is just no rhyme or reason why their internal clocks are always set at wake.

We've heard it all. The never ending request for water like they've been spending all day in the Mojave, the requests for stuffed animals they suddenly are interested in after years of neglect. Just when you think you have tucked them into bed for the last time, you can hear their trying to be quiet padding feet coming down the steps.

We've threatened to take blankies and lovies away and I once told my young son that the floor turned into hot lava when I turned off the lights trying to get him to stay put. I've fulfilled many a request just so I could get back to the couch. There's this internal timer that I have where depending on the request it may mean that my wife may or may not already be asleep and we've missed our window.

Thanks to Netflix and Dinotrux, we may have found a solution. 5 minute favorites.

When the master negotiators come out and plead you for JUST 5 MORE MINUTES, say yes. Pull up Netflix and put up one of these episodes which I promise you, will only last 5 minutes and then it's bedtime. I REALLY mean it this time.

Haven't seen Dinotrux yet?  Take construction vehicles and combine them with dinosaurs and mix it in with DreamWorks animation. It's a recipe for success. After a five minute fix of this show, they will do anything you want with the promise that tomorrow night will also have Dinotrux before bedtime. You may want to start dropping hints to them about the riding mower you have always wanted.

We have a "Let's review the day staller" A chronic "I'm not tired" yawning staller and a "I can't fall asleep unless you tuck me in 5 times" staller. What kind of stallers are in your family and how do you get them to sleep?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Star Wars : The Next Generation

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation

His backyard was like the moon of Endor, trees everywhere and full of unknown danger. We knew we had to be quiet because Imperial forces were around. My friend and I were helping the rebels though we were smugglers by trade. We piloted the Millennium Falcon, the fastest ship in the galaxy.  

My friend, Willie and I used to run around in the backyard shooting Stormtroopers with sticks. Pretending to have blasters was the only way we could get into character fully. That is, until Willie received his very own DL-44 Blaster for his birthday.  That one toy became our focal point for all our play as kids. 

We couldn't wait to finish school for the day head home and spend some time with our favorite Star Wars toys. Being the tallest kid in the class I naturally became Chewbacca and identified with the tough but sensitive sidekick of Han Solo from then on. 

It's easy to see how Star Wars has shaped a culture of fans who rabidly consume everything within its universe. From the characters, to spaceships, and space age weaponry, the Star Wars trilogy had everything our young science fiction hungry minds were craving and our kids know it. I've been indoctrinating them into the culture for years by passing on my own toys I played with as a child and through dress up and role play with various costumes I've collected over the years. I've been imparting knowledge to them about every factoid I know trying to pump them full of Star Wars knowledge so that they are adequately prepared.

It's all we seem to talk about lately with Star Wars: The Force Awakens only 30 days away. They've seen the trailers and asked questions about theories since it's release was announced. Shortly after, our tickets were purchased online and I will head to the movie with my oldest son ready to experience Star Wars in a new way together.

 One way we can further reinforce their love and admiration of this franchise is by participating in Family Game Nights featuring Hasbro's Star Wars gaming line. My kids immediately were drawn to the Bop It! Star Wars R2-D2 Edition Who doesn't love him?

To play all you have to do is either Bop It! by hitting his head, Twist It! by turning his head, or Pull It! by pulling his legs. With C-3PO manning the directions he will call out the command and let you know when you malfunction. You can either play in single mode challenging yourself to beat dad's high score of 72 or give R2 a bop on the head and pull his legs to play the Pass It version with friends or family. 

A video posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on

I wanted to see if all of my preparation as a dad and fan of Star Wars was paying off and the Electronic Catch Phrase : STAR WARS Edition is the litmus test for anyone passing that knowledge down to the next generation. Often at scout camp my son will try and stump his peers with the most obscure of Star Wars knowledge to challenge the self-proclaimed fans and know-it-alls. 

This edition separates the apprentices from the masters in no time. Given phrases that any self respecting fan would know, one person gives the clue without saying the word. If the team guesses correctly it is passed on to a member of the other team to confirm the answer. Then the other team takes a turn in the same manner. When the timer ends and Chewbacca growls, the team not holding the unit scores 1 point. For an extra point if the opposite team knows the answer and can guess it, they get a BONUS point. Beware of Imperial forces though, they will do anything to win. If you hear them use a word that rhymes, give the first letter of the word, or say a part of the word they are immediately disqualified and awarded a point. The first team to score 7 points, wins.

If these all seem too complicated and you're looking for a game for a younger child, try the Star Wars Loopin' Chewie game. With an armature that swings in a circle, your station will look to deflect Chewie to another player's station knocking down their Stormtroopers. The player with the most Stormtroopers at the end wins. 

Of course, my four year old's strategy was to constantly hit her deflector like a crazed game game of Hungry Hippos. Our family had the most fun playing this one together. Just know that playing with a four year old is somewhat like playing with a Wookie in that letting them win is a good idea, After an hour of playing with it, they became pros and I loved watching all three kids play together and having fun. 

Do these games sound like a fun night for you and your family? Are you ready to prepare the next generation of Star Wars fans? Enter the giveaway below and you could win your own prize pack featuring these three games for your own #FamilyGameNight from Hasbro.  Visit Hasbro Toy Shop for more information about these toys and to browse all the great toys from Hasbro for your holiday shopping. Leave a comment below and tell me which game would you want to play first?

Hasbro Star Wars Giveaway

*I-C will randomly select 5 winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.


BOP IT! STAR WARS R2-D2 Edition Game
(Ages 8 years & up/ Players: 1 or more/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99/Available: Fall 15)
Everyone's favorite character R2-D2 responds to your touch in the BOP IT!STAR WARS R2-D2 Edition Game. Just like the classic BOP IT! game, players must twist, bop, and pull the R2-D2 figure in response to his commands from C-3PO. You'll have to be quick and kids may get frustrated at first. If the high score seems too high, there is a reset button to start all over. Requires 3 “AA” batteries, not included. Available exclusively at Wal-Mart.

(Ages 4 years & up/Players: 2-4/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: September 2015) 

My favorite character Chewbacca is highlighted in this fun game for younger kids. Players must help CHEWIE co-pilot the MILLENNIUM FALCON and try to send him swinging straight into the STORMTROOPERS on the other player’s rack. Available at most major retailers nationwide and 

Electronic Catch Phrase: STAR WARS Edition Game:
(Ages 13 years & up/Players: 2 teams/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: September 2015)

Any self-respecting Star Wars fan should know the phrases in Electronic Catch Phrase: Star Wars Edition. Shaped like the Millenium Falcon, phrases will pop up that you have to give clues to your team so that they can guess.  Shout, gesture, and say anything else but the words in the answer to help your team guess correctly before Chewbacca growls. The ELECTRONIC CATCH PHRASE: STAR WARS Edition game requires 3 AAA batteries, not included. Available at most major retailers nationwide and

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Give Kids a Healthy Dose of Competition with Skylanders Superchargers

I'm at the starting line with the engine revving. The pure horsepower of this vehicle is making the metal rattle and the gentle thrumming of the engine entrancing. I look over at my opponent. He thinks he's going to win by that look on his face but I have news for him, I'm not backing down.

The course was full of obstacles. Anything and everything comes your way in a heartbeat and you have to decide, which way will I go?  We raced until we were neck and neck at the finish line and I hear him utter the worst three words imaginable: "I'm the best!"

Downstairs was our sanctuary, our getaway. A half a dozen or so steps into the much cooler basement felt like a way to get away from everything upstairs that we were required to do. This is where we'd feel like winners and it was us who held our destiny in our hands.

We'd fire up the system and pop in a game making sure to blow in the cartridge just to make sure we weren't interrupted by a glitch. My brother and I would while away the hours in the basement playing video games together not only bonding through game play but creating a healthy competition between us. Who could get the highest score? Who would eliminate the most enemies? Who could gather the most gold?

We often beat levels together in games like Contra but when it came to games that required us to go head to head, the kid gloves came off and I was determined to destroy him. No mercy was shown. There was no medal for runner up. There was only the checkered flag.

In 1996, Mario Kart 64 came out and the competition cranked up a notch. I had just finished college and he was completing his senior year in high school. Granted, he had more practice than I did but the races we would play became super competitive. My brother became his favorite player Toad, and when he's beat me he'd yell out his catch phrase "I'm the best!" and laugh in my face.

Now that I'm older and I have much more real driving experience, I've taken my talents to Wii's Skylanders Superchargers Racing and I've taken on another foe, my ten year old son. This time, we're playing Activision's Skylanders Superchargers Racing for the Wii. Skylanders Supercharger games are brilliant toy to life games with characters that you not only collect but when put onto a portal are transported into the game. Characters can be customized and are upgraded throughout the game to enhance their abilities. My son, so invested in the Skylanders world outside of video game aspect, even invented a way to play with the toys away from the screen.

In a world where participation trophies are passed out almost absentmindedly, Skylanders Superchargers Racing is a game that eliminates the notion that just showing up is good enough. It's healthy to instill a sense of competition in your children and anyone that competes against them. They shouldn't be compliant robots that let others walk all over them. My son is a nice kid but he could use a little cockiness every once in awhile and if he gets too cocky? My inner Han Solo comes out.

There's a great feeling that comes along with winning but it also means that you have to hone your skill, practice and become better everyday. Skylanders Superchargers Racing provides that healthy competition by inspiring you to want to be the best. In split screen fashion, much like Mario Kart, your chosen Skylander and chosen Skylander vehicle team up for head to head racing.

Your racing ability earns you performance points which boosts your level. This allows your character to upgrade armor, speed, weapons and other features that will help you proclaim that you are the best. Not only do you race on land but also air and sea. My favorite part of the game play are the obstacles you have to face along the way. You may have to dive underwater to avoid oil slicks or jump over obstacles which might slow you down. Along the way are upgrades for your weapons to knock the person boasting about being in third place to your eighth place down a peg. In addition to that, you also have a health meter which can be raised by collecting food along the way. Lose your health and your vehicle stalls allowing others to pass you by.

If you have a Wii like our family has, you're in luck. The Skylanders Superchargers Racing is available for this system and as an added bonus, Bowser who doubles as an Amiibo character is included in the starter pack along with his Clown Cruiser which can be fully upgraded to the vehicle below.

If you play on any other platform, you can play Skylanders Superchargers in a whole different way. You will follow the story line as Kaos once again tries to take over Skylands only this time the adventure not only has battling elements but you get to explore the environments in the various vehicles too! Also just recently announced, you can play Skylanders Superchargers on iOS devices! That's right, now you can play it on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple TV. Not only that but game play can be saved with your iCloud account to keep your game moving forward across all devices. So dust off your shelves to make room for your trophies and play the game that promotes a good sense of competition in your children with Skylanders Superchargers

Disclaimer : I was compensated for this post by Activision all opinions expressed in this post are those of DadNCharge alone. You should totally play it with me but I'd beat you because "I'm the best!"