Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bundled Up

Holiday break is finally here!

My family is primed to share in all the Christmas cheer.

We'll spend the holidays with family and friends

Cooped up in the house where the fun never ends.

We'll patiently wait around the Christmas tree

to see what gifts are for them and what gifts are for me.

I hope there's some tech and some gadgets to charge under there.

I hope that I can use the bathroom alone without a care.

And though the gifts might change from year to year,

There's something that's constant and that I'll never fear.

I'm bundled by Verizon FiOS, it keeps me in good favor

I can enjoy my time watching the shows that I savor.

Like a warm winter sweater against the bracing cold

Verizon FiOS is there for me to have and to hold.

My Wi-Fi is strong and my guests are all connected

They all use the guest one so they don't feel rejected.

Our signal is strong through the worst of the snows

and I know that I won't need outside hardware to see all my shows.

If uninterrupted programming is your holiday wish.

With FiOS you won't need to go out and knock snow off the dish.

It's wired better to serve you and their support is second to none

You can contact them by chat, Twitter, or phone

The services they offer are like presents in a sack

I guarantee you can't find an area of good value where they lack.

If you have network dead spots they can get you an extender,

and make sure that your emails never get returned to the sender.

This holiday season they will bundle you with service so tight

like a child going out to play in the snow day and night.

Internet, TV, and phone all together like your family is now

and support to ensure happiness with your features is their vow.

To ensure that your holiday season is one and that it is happy

You should stay connected to the family and friends

Okay, this is sappy.

Gather 'round the TV to watch holiday shows

or watch endless un-boxing videos with the kids, you know how that goes.

If you don't know what to get that hard person on your list

Consider Verizon FiOS to ensured they aren't missed.

And enjoy connectivity to the things that you adore

Happy Holidays from DadNCharge to you and to yours.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

When The Thrill of Christmas is Gone

Visiting days of Christmas past as a parent we can fondly look back on the way it used to be. Getting kids dressed in warm footie pajamas while they let us dress them however they wanted. While crawling on hands and knees, my children used to once be fascinated with the brightly colored wrappings, the twinkle of the low hanging ornaments on the tree, the way the paper crinkled in their tiny hands, or how they could fit themselves into a gift box like a cat looking for an afternoon nap.

Remember those days when keeping them occupied meant putting them in a bouncy chair or if they could stand, an activity center, where they would bop the same button over and over with their pudgy little hands while you listened to it proclaim that a lion says ROAR! a billion times over?

They grew up of course with each year progressing into all those different stages the books said they would. They began to walk and soon were running. They paid more and more attention to detail and started to respond to your words. As they got older, their tastes in gifts progressed. As they increased in age their attention disappeared from the gift wrap to what was inside the boxes instead.

Our kids pile their booty in a select area of the house and when all the unwrapping is done and the family is spent, they turn to their piles and explore and re familiarize themselves with what they just opened. It can all be a blur in the moment especially when you are feverishly ripping past red and green paper to discover what is hidden inside like a maniacal Christmas archaeologist.

Inevitably, their interest will wan and even though you have just spent the last three hours watching the rise and fall of joy and excitement leaving their faces as they moved like locusts under the tree, boredom will once again return. Dad, I'm bored. There's NOTHING to DO.

And that's when this year I am going to hand over the iPad open the Netflix app and let them unwrap the first season of Dreamworks Trollhunters. Debuting December 23rd, Trollhunters created by Guillermo Del Toro, is a story about an ordinary teenager Jim Lake Jr., who stumbles upon a mystical amulet on his way to school one morning. He inadvertently discovers an extraordinary secret civilization of mighty trolls beneath his small town of Arcadia.

Strong-willed and seeking adventure but wholly unprepared for the responsibilities thrust upon him, Jim is forced to take on the exalted mantle of Trollhunter, sworn to protect the good trolls from powerful enemies bent on revenge. The first human ever to hold the honor, Jim abruptly goes from fighting his way through the daily mayhem of high school to joining a war that has raged for centuries, a conflict that now threatens all of mankind and troll-kind alike.

He and a few of his friends know of his secret and try to protect it from enemies who know of his secret. It's the perfect show to keep kids occupied this holiday break. After they watch the show, unleash them out into the world and let them play as their favorite characters and more importantly, give you a a chance at a silent night.

Disclaimer : This post was brought to you by DadNCharge on behalf of the Netflix #StreamTeam. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

What Friends Are For

I'm sitting in the Arden Theater with a tear in my eye watching A Year With Frog and Toad. I have a tear in my eye because Frog and Toad are all about friendship and it has me thinking, I'm lucky to have Jeff Bogle as a friend. Maybe you don't believe in fate or get squeamish when people say that everything happens for a reason but there is something in this universe that brought Jeff and I together.

Friends are usually the people you grew up with or they might be a roommate from college. Friends might have come from a job that you once had together or an experience you both shared. I found Jeff through a series of fortunate events. It began with the National At Home Dad Network and finding their annual convention which lead to me meeting Chris Routly and Matt Peregoy who I knew both had blogs. "You should join the Dad Blogger group on Facebook" they both said when I expressed interest in sharing my blog with the world.

I had just moved away from our house in upstate New York and had to start all over again making friends. My friends from college are scattered all over the place, my high school friends mostly still in Chicago, many of them I just don't talk to anymore because I just don't get to see them.

In the group, I searched the members and discovered that Jeff didn't live that far from me. So, I asked him to meet me at a bar/restaurant one day. Yep, I asked a dude out on a mandate. I quickly learned that he didn't drink and that he liked the Detroit Red Wings. I felt like the universe was trying to pull an Odd Couple scenario on me. How was I going to get along with this guy?

Without spoiling the show, I can say that friends can be so different but the same in many ways. Frog says to Toad at one point during the show "I'm happy when my friend is happy." That is what friends are for.

If like me, you grew up reading the books of Frog and Toad as a child, the underlying theme in all of the books is the basis of friendship. A Year With Frog and Toad is a celebration of what it means to be a true friend.

And just like Frog and Toad, we've been through a lot together. We've seen Montell Jordan together. Visited the White House. We've even survived rooming with Zach Rosenberg. As different as we are, we are still the same in many things. Great fathers, wonderful writers, champions of daughters, adoring husbands, world travelers, and talented photographers just to name a few.

Maybe it's the way that he writes that drew me to him in the first place. His blog posts are like stories from a close friend. If you follow his blog you'll begin to feel like you already know him. When I'm down I call Jeff just to talk.  Sometimes I complain about something and he listens. Sometimes he cracks a joke and can make me laugh. I'd like to think that when I'm happy, so is he.

Go see A Year With Frog and Toad with your best friend and go for lunch after. See it by yourself and call them after to let them know just how much you appreciate them. Take your children so they can learn what it means to be a true friend. Take your whole family to the Arden Theater and see A Year With Frog and Toad before, like a snail, it slowly passes you by. Performances are going on now through January 29th, 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How Assassins Do Movie Night

By the time you see me, it's already too late for you. And no, I don't work in HR though you still might get the axe from me. I work hard after hours and often keep my head down and forge through tough situations. My job is a stressful one, always travelling from place to place, interacting with other people on a daily basis, always dealing with other people's problems.

I work for myself mostly, doing freelance jobs to keep myself busy. Sometimes I get to work on group projects with colleagues of mine who I've met along the way. I enjoy being project manager with them but sometimes work is difficult and working behind the scenes becomes arduous. Sometimes, even if I don't think I'll be able to accomplish something, I will have to take a leap of faith just to make it through.

Yep, life as an assassin can be pretty hard on a person.  I'm the shadow that's not yours, that whisper in the darkness, the secret in your pop.

That's why at the end of a long week of work, I like to kick back with the family and enjoy some bonding time in the dark where I'm not sneaking up on someone. That is of course one of my skillsets especially when it comes to delivering popcorn before the actually movie starts.

There's nothing stealthy about hanging around the stove and popping corn in a pot and adding butter afterwards. Time is of the essence when it is movie time or like, saving the world from it's impending destruction. If you have kids, you know exactly what I'm saying. They want the popcorn yesterday!

I can't remember a time when I've watched a movie without popcorn. It's become one of those things that you can't enjoy without the other like an arrow without a bow. It's like watching a movie without family or learning about the past without the use of the Animus. I mean, who even does that?

So when I get together with my family for a movie night, it's right to the microwave for me with some Pop Secret Movie Theater popcorn that I've purchased at Walmart. Those self-checkout lanes are a lifesaver for assassins. I mean who has the time right? Now, if you buy 2 Pop-Secret 10 ct or 10+2 ct bonus packs at Walmart between 12/7/16 - 1/8/17 and get an $8 credit toward a ticket to the Assassin’s Creed movie while supplies last.

If you're like me, you'll be heading to the theater soon to see a real movie about some real working heroes. Though obviously you'll never know that I'm actually there. But if you do spot me, give me a nod just to confirm that you're not a Templar.

Leave a comment about your favorite movie to watch at home and whether you're seeing Assassin's Creed. While you wait for the movie to come out December 21st, spend some time with Pop Secret popcorn and the dark. It's just the way movie night should be.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Pop Secret, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Pop4AssassinsCreed

Monday, December 12, 2016

Reading To Your Child Is the Key to Happiness

I remember it as if it were yesterday, laying on my bed next to my wife, opening the book, and talking in soft tones to my wife's bare stomach while I watched for it to move. I read it my favorite book from childhood, Bears In The Night and wondered if when I raised my voice at the top of Spook Hill if it had any effect on the baby's movement in that moment. Was our baby responding to my voice?

Reading to a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Literacy begins with hearing words before seeing them. It evolves into recognition of letters and patterns, sounds and juxtaposition. It's also about closeness and love. Sitting on your daddy's lap, snuggled up with your back pressed against him sometimes under a blankie. Listening to the sweet tones of your mother's voice while the stars start to emerge from the night.

Reading brings us closer. Remember your grandmother pointing out the words with her finger and hearing your grandpa's laughter at the funny parts? Or feverishly unwrapping a present from your aunt to discover a book she loved as a little girl that she shared with you. Or reading the inscription your uncle scrawled in the front inside cover before you were even born. How about sitting on the couch with older cousins or siblings while they remember when they used to have it read to them? Books are magical things that bring us closer together for so many reasons.

All the pregnancy books told us it was the way to go. Babies hear their moms from the womb, mothers have that advantage in close proximity to the child at all times while dads have to try a little bit harder to be heard. That's why I started to read to them, to get them to know my voice. I just never stopped reading to them because of the way it makes me feel.

It's the same reason I love to volunteer in my kids' classrooms. I love to pick out a book I think they will enjoy and see their reactions to it. I love to see and hear kids discovering new things. It is in part, a reason why I became a public school teacher. I love to help kids learn. I live for the light I see in their faces when they see something I never would have seen.

When our son was born someone gave us a subscription to Babybug. A publication from Cricket Media, Babybug is full of poetry, stories, rhymes, and colorful illustrations that I would read to my children before bedtime and anytime. The rounded edges and thickened cardboard cover made them durable and portable. We kept some in the diaper bag just in case a waiting room didn't have anything or the kids needed a quick story before a nap.

Many of the issues we saved and still sit on their shelves like those old Reader's Digests that our grandparents just couldn't give up because the articles spoke to them.  The ones we still have are battered from overuse, covers ripped unceremoniously from the two staples that hold it together and edges frayed or maybe chewed on by emerging teeth. All of those words are meaningful to us.

Reading to your children makes a difference in their lives. It prepares them for success later in life. The more they read, the more they absorb, their minds becoming like ever-expanding sponges. This is why it is important to make sure that every child is read to.

Cricket Media is partnering with Libraries Without Borders and The Parent-Child Home Program this holiday season to ensure that children who are under-resourced get a chance to build on their literacy. It's called "Double The Giving" and this is how it works: Purchase a subscription for your child or a child you know this December and you will also deliver the gift of reading to a child in an underserved community. Choose any subscription from Cricket Media like Babybug (Ages 6 mo.-3), Ladybug (ages 3-6), Spider (Ages 6-9), or Cricket (Ages 9-11) and they will donate a subscription to a child in need.

To order a subscription and to gift the gift of reading to a child you know and to help others you don't ORDER HERE . You can also enter below for your chance at a FREE One Year Subscription to one Cricket Media publication of your choice either Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, or Cricket.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information on Cricket Media, Libraries Without Borders, or The Parent-Child Home Program, see the information below:

About Cricket Media
Cricket Media is an education media company that provides award-winning content on a safe and secure learning network for children, families and teachers across the world.  Cricket Media's 11 popular media brands for toddlers to teens include Babybug®, Ladybug®, Cricket™ and Cobblestone™.  The Company's innovative web-based K12 tools for school and home include the ePals community and virtual classroom for global collaboration as well as In2Books®, an e-Mentoring program that builds reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Cricket Media serves millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories through its platform and NeuPals, its joint venture with China's leading IT services company Neusoft. Cricket Media also licenses its content and platform to top publishing and educational companies worldwide.  For more information, please visit

About Libraries Without Borders
Libraries Without Borders (LWB) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization devoted to facilitating the growth of libraries in the developing world. Currently active in 20 different countries, LWB recognizes that access to knowledge is a key factor in social and economic development. By facilitating the growth of libraries across the globe, LWB aims to provide the knowledge that is the engine of human development. Libraries Without Borders and Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF) form an international network of organizations working together to promote knowledge-based development in under-served regions of the world.

About Parent-Child Home Program
The Parent-Child Home Program supports under-resourced families in preparing their young children for school success, by combining intensive home visits with weekly gifts of books and educational materials.  Early-literacy specialists model good practices to educate parents about the importance of parent-child interaction, give them the tools needed to inculcate early literacy skills in their children, and encourage them to see themselves as active participants in their children's educations.  In this program, community-based early learning specialists visit participating families twice a week for two years.  When families complete the program, the staff helps parents enroll their children in quality preschools or kindergartens.  The program has been replicated in 400 high-need communities in 14 states and in Chile, Canada, Ireland and Bermuda. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In My Heart, My Team Is Ranked Much Higher

This post brought to you by DICK'S Sporting Goods . The content and opinions expressed below are that of DadNCharge.

Every season starts the same. I always have high hopes. The new year is a chance to start over fresh with potential adds and free agent signings. Excitement mounts around training camp and every Bears fan starts to believe that this is the year we will finally turn it around. There's one thing you have to realize about Chicago sports as indicated by Cubs' fans, we are loyal to the end.

We've been through 24 different starting quarterbacks since the Punky QB was traded in 1989 and none of them have worked out.  Except for the 2006 season that our quarterback backed by the league's best defense and the best punt returner in the game led us to a showdown with the Indianapolis Colts led by a quarterback in his prime. On the opening kickoff, our kickoff returner raced up the field breaking tackles, carrying the ball 92 yards for a touchdown and I started to believe that it was finally going to happen. Of course in sports, dreams are often crushed unceremoniously and hopes dashed in the blink of an eye.

The Bears scored once more in that game and led 14-6 in the first quarter. The rest of the game devolved into a clinic of what not to do in the biggest game of your life. Five turnovers turned into points that the offense couldn't recover from and they only managed a field goal the rest of the game while Indy's defense took over. It's a familiar feeling these days as the Bears sit at the bottom of the NFC North and they're looking at another lost season. Call me a die-hard fan though, I will still be a Bears fan through it all and no matter where my players fall in the rankings, I'll still support them.

Sadly, on the DICK'S Sporting Goods Jersey Report, my team is second to last on the rankings and my favorite players are buried in the rankings. Even Pat McAfee, the punter for the Indianapolis Colts ranks higher than our two best players, Alshon Jeffrey and Jay Cutler!

Performance gains position in the DICK'S Jersey Report rankings so I have to live vicariously through other teams like the Dallas Cowboys who have found a legit starter in their rookie backup to Tony Romo with Dak Prescott and pine for the days when a Bear's quarterback is topping the list like Carson Wentz is for Philadelphia. I can only hope at this point in the season that my team will one day be trending in the top ten someday.

I long for the day when I can buy the jersey of a Bear's quarterback who isn't traded the next season and consistently performs like Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton who all appear in the top ten jockeying for position in the current rankings.

Want to know where your team stands? Check out DICK'S Jersey Report and see which players are trending. Want to bump your favorite player or team to the top? Check out all the merchandise at DICK'S Sporting Goods and purchase a jersey to move them up in the rankings. Follow DICK'S Sporting Goods on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the standings and follow your favorite players to the top.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Family Ties

Let's be honest, there's no one like mom. In the case of many shows I would watch as a kid there have been families ruled by the mom that have left indelible marks on me. I grew up with TV moms like Mrs. Partridge, Mrs. Brady, and Morticia Addams. I also spent lots of time wishing Ginger and MaryAnn were looking out for me as long as Mrs. Howell kept her distance. And moms like Mrs. Cunningham and Elyse Keaton kept me honest. With the most recent passing of Florence Henderson and Netflix's release of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life it made me wonder just how important it is to bond with our real moms? Forget Netflix and Chill. I think it's time we focused on Netflix and Moms.

Do you watch TV with your mom? If so, what shows do we bond with our moms over and why is it important? 62% of mothers and daughters say sharing TV shows helps build a stronger relationship. In a survey done by Netflix they found that out of 10,143 women ages 16-65 that more than half of mother-daughter duos surveyed (59%) report that post-show discussions are the best part of sharing a show together.

In fact, watching together is so important that despite the distance, almost half of moms and daughters (41%) think watching together brings them closer. Even though one third of moms and daughters surveyed live thirty or more minutes apart, over half have gone out of their way to physically watch together on many occasions. It seems to me, that mothers and daughters bonding over shows goes back as far as I can remember.

My grandmother loved her soaps. Every year she would come for Christmas and my dad would have us haul out the TV to set up across from her favorite recliner so she could watch her shows. I could never understand as a boy why this was so important to her but now as an adult, I get how one can get sucked into the lives of characters you spent so much time with.

Here's a shocker for you, I've never seen one episode of Gilmore Girls. I know. How am I able to live with myself? I spent most of 2005-2007 caring for our first son and watching Dora the Explorer was higher on our priorities. But, if you're a fan of the original series then Netflix's Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will return you to Stars Hollow where you will pick up ten years after the show's end to catch up with Lorelai and Rory and see them through four seasons of fall, winter, spring, and summer. In the meantime, if you need any advice, check out the Gilmore Guides for when your mom can't be there.

A show that I have watched with my wife that is the ultimate mother's relationship to her family is the series called The Crown, chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth from the 1940s to modern times. If your mom was a big fan of the royal family, and who isn't, this is the show for you. Getting a glimpse of the her family and the intricacies of relationships between royals is a must watch show for the queen in your life.

If your mom is anything like mine, you know she will do anything for you. That includes buying massive amounts of colored Christmas lights and hanging them up around the house so that you can just communicate with her from another dimension. Yes, Will Byer's mom is pretty bad-ass and she never gives up even when a freaky monster erupts from her wall. If you've been living under a rock, run, don't walk to see Stranger Things. Winona Ryder will not disappoint you.

Not everyone's mom is so supportive. Sometimes our relationships are complicated. Maybe she only wanted what is best for you but for you that meant striking out on your own to find your true self. IF that sounds like you, check out When Calls the Heart. Set in the Canadian West, Elizabeth Thatcher gets assigned to her first teaching job in the small rustic town of Coal Valley. Her mother disapproves of her high society daughter roughing it in such a wild place but soon she finds a love interest in the town's assigned Constable, Jack Thornton.

Give these shows a try. Call your mom over for a date night or watch it together over the phone and comment while you watch. You're mom is waiting for your call, you know that she is.

Disclaimer : This post was brought to you by DadNCharge on behalf of the Netflix #StreamTeam. All opinions are my own. 

The Fortress of Holiday Solitude

Where does Superman go to think when he's overwhelmed? The Fortress of Solitude of course! You know, that place up north in the bitter cold where no one dares to tread and Supes watches old videos left by his dad to reminisce?

I have a place like that in my house and I'm sure you do too. For me, it's my bedroom. It has a bathroom, a bed, and most of all, a big screen TV that sits eye level with me while I'm horizontal. I can pull up the covers up to my eyeballs, close the door and not be bothered by anyone.

It's the place I recovered from my vasectomy where a bag of frozen peas and and endless library on Netflix kept me company. It's the place I go to when I have a Mancold or recuperating from some injury. Or, on those rare occaisons that the kids leave me alone, I can sometimes manage an afternoon weekend nap. It's my solitary confinement when everything happening downstairs is just too much to take. But up until a week ago, it wasn't perfect.

In a 2,000 square foot house, my bedroom was a dead zone for my Wi-Fi. My router's signal just couldn't make it through the load bearing walls into the opposite corner of the house and it needed help. I would go up there like I was at a roulette wheel in Vegas hoping that my number would come up only to be repeatedly resigned to walk back downstairs and watch TV in the common area. My fortress of solitude was no more.

That is until I saw that Verizon FiOS offered a FiOS Network Extender for as little as $6 per month to rent or I could buy it outright for $99. I was on the FiOS website so fast, you might think I WAS Superman.

My FiOS Network Extender arrived a few days later. The brochure in the mail claimed that installation would take minutes to set up. They were right. All it took was connecting a coaxial cable to the wall and unit and a plug in at an outlet to fire it up. The FiOS Network Extender syncs automatically with your existing router so there's no messing with passwords. In minutes, I had full signal strength in my bedroom and the TV immediately connected to Netflix to prove it.

Now I can return to my mini-Mancave and enjoy surfing the internet, watching TV, or working on a laptop without giving up the comfort of my bed.

You've probably had a taste of what the holidays will be like with your relatives at Thanksgiving. If spotty Wi-Fi is preventing you from retreating to your fortress why suffer? Why not give the person you love or yourself one room that is totally just for you? Don't let load bearing walls and obstacles come between you and a connection to some alone time to yourself.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Verizon FiOS in Philadelphia. All opinions expressed are my own. #FiOSPhilly

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Daddy, What Is Hate?

My five year old daughter and I  had just buckled into the car headed home after a morning playground adventure in Philadelphia when the questions started flowing.

You see, after we go somewhere I like to talk to my five year old about what we just did and ask her about her favorite parts and her least favorite parts. Call it an exit interview of sorts in that the conversations I have with my daughter help me learn more about who she is becoming and help me be a better parent for her.

I began with the highlight of the day and worked my way towards what she didn't enjoy which she gleefully screamed "NOTHING!" and pumped her arms into the air. Then there was a pause and some silence followed by a much heavier question directed back at me.

"Daddy, What is hate?"

My stomach dropped. I gripped the wheel tighter. My gut reaction since we had been at a playground was an unseen interaction maybe behind the rock wall or while she waited for a slide out of my line of sight.

We all know how little kids can be; they wear their hearts on their sleeves and they have no trouble letting everyone know exactly how they feel. Did another child say this to her?

I asked her "Why did you want to know? Did someone say it to you?" She was quiet so I assumed the worst.

I was relieved to find that it didn't come from another kid but in a show she as watching on the iPad where the character expressed her disgust while doing household chores. The offending phrase was actually "I hate doing the dishes!" but never hearing that publicly from her parents, I could see the reason why she wouldn't understand the ire behind doing a required task.

How quick was I to think the worst and to become angry and defensive. How quick it was that I had turned to hate.To hate something like doing the dishes should be replaced by "I dislike doing the dishes" Hate is a word that my daughter should not know to describe anything. Hate is too strong a word even for dishes.

This word hate had me thinking that in this increasingly violent world that children need to learn more about love than hate. In this world today, hate is a thing we a quick to act on. We assume the worst in people instead of the best.

Love takes time. Hate is too easy. We take much longer to decide that we love and if we can be loved yet turn hate on like the flick of a switch or all too often, the trigger of a gun.

Hate is fueled by misconceptions and a lack of acceptance for people who look, act, or seem different to us. Racism, bigotry, and hate run deep in our own country's government. A government that is supposed to be setting the example for freedom and equality for the people and by the people.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. It's a lie. Equality is a farce. Women don't get paid the same as men. People are profiled because of the color of their skin or where they were born. We automatically assume the worst without ever knowing what is in their heart.

Black men are gunned down daily because the automatic assumption is that they are a threat. A sudden movement can mean your life and they have to live theirs living in fear of the very people that we assume should be protecting them. I can't imagine what it must feel like, to see a patrol car behind you and wonder "Is this the day I am going to die?"

We have a presidential candidate that hates other races, women, and Muslims. He wants to keep us separated  into neat piles like a picky child's plate separated by walls of intolerance and fear.

He thinks that we shouldn't be mingling together and thinks that mixing us all together means the dilution of who we are. He's wrong. When we come together in love and respect, we create a whole new flavor and if your first instinct is to assume the worst in people, our country will never be unified.

All you need is love. Love is all you need.

When I think back to a time when I felt like there was an outpouring of love it always seems to come with a price. The attack on September 11th was meant to divide the country but made it stronger. Not because of hate or a lashing out in anger when we retaliated but because of love. People have a tendency to show their humanity when they realize that it is fragile.

There wasn't a divide in race, age, or sex. We helped everyone and anyone no matter what they looked like because they were just people. People trying to come together as a nation and survive an attack, one of the most horrific attacks on our home soil.

Yet despite our ability to come together and persevere together beyond age or race or any other characteristic that defines our outside selves, our walls eventually were put back up.Walls are not the answer. Only when walls come down will love grow in our hearts.

I don't want my children to grow up ignorant. I don't want them to hate first and ask questions later. I want them to see the good in people and accept that hate is never the answer. I don't want their first instinct to be distrust as we've come too far as a country to regress to that. Hate is too easy. Love takes time and it's time well spent.

I decidedly put my daddy bear claws away and told my daughter that using the word hate should never be uttered when it came to people. I asked her how she would feel if someone said she was a nasty girl.

"If someone said they hated me, I would be sad."

I'll be less likely to think the worst of other people and more focused on what it means to love my neighbor as I love myself instead. There is truth in the old Jedi mantra that hate is the path to the dark side. I've walked that path before and it leads nowhere.

There will be many things she will dislike in her life. There will be people that will wrong her and she will feel hurt and as much as we will want to hate them, hate serves no purpose in this life.  Love more hate less. Be compassionate. Be helpful. Lift others up when they are too far down to get back up. This is how we love and when that four letter word hate rears its ugly head, replace it with love instead.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Year With Frog and Toad Giveaway

Remember that roommate that was just the exact opposite of you and you wondered why you ever got along but you did? Somehow, opposites did attract and now, he's your best friend. If you read Frog and Toad as a child, you know what that relationship is like.

Now, you can see them in action as The Arden Theater Company is proud to present their upcoming show called A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD. The story follows the unlikely friendship between cheerful Frog and the rather grumpy Toad through four fun-filled seasons. Their friendship blossoms and grows as they learn many life lessons along the way. Filled with musical numbers that will make you laugh and cry, A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD is a show to delight every age.

Barrymore Award-winners Jeff Coon and Ben Dibble return to their roles for the third time as the amphibious best friends. Actor Ben Dibble says, “I am thrilled to return to the swamp with my dear friend, Jeffrey. The last time we did this show our kids were all ages 3 and under. Now my kids know the stories from years of bedtime reading and listening to the songs. I think my years as a father will inform my Toad in new and wonderful ways.”

Want to go? Enter this giveaway below and you will be entered for a family four pack of tickets for one of the following preview shows in Philadelphia before it opens up to the public. If you win the giveaway, you will be notified by email and must choose the date you want to attend by November 13th. Some 10 am shows are available during the week for families who need them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 10:00 AM

Friday, November 25, 2016 12:00 PM

Saturday, November 26, 2016 12:00 PM

Saturday, November 26, 2016 7:00 PM

Sunday, November 27, 2016 12:00 PM

Sunday, November 27, 2016 4:00 PM

Saturday, December 3, 2016 12:00 PM

Sunday, December 4, 2016 12:00 PM

Sunday, December 4, 2016 4:00 PM

Must be 18 years or older to enter giveaway. Winner must provide an email address and mailing address to claim their prize. Once notified, winner will have 24 hours to claim prize before another winner is chosen. Giveaway is valid only in the United States. Sorry Canada.

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Disclaimer : I am partnering with The Arden Theater Company this season as a lover of the arts and theater. I was compensated for promotion of this show. All opinions expressed are solely my own. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Last Minute Halloween Costume Recipes

Not that your kids haven't bugged you enough this month about what they are going to be for Halloween this year, things fall by the wayside when it comes to planning for costumes. My five year old daughter would change her mind daily and by the time Halloween rolled around, I was left scrambling for something that resembled a costume, making sure she wasn't going around in a bed sheet with some eye holes cut out.

The best costumes are the ones you make out of what you have. My kids used to dress up in costumes so often that we now have an entire large plastic bin full of enough props to make things up. Of all the costumes that I have had as a kid, the best ones were those that we made up out of thin air.  And, with some help with Amazon from time to time to supplement those things that complete a look, there are ways to create something meaningful out of nothing.

The trick is to go for the abstract. Think of characters that are popular in our culture right now. Trump is easy enough with a crazy wig and their Sunday best though you may want to look for Clinton signs before you trick or treat or you may end up with a rock. Any of your kids could be a cast member from show like Stranger Things, Care Bears, current movies like Minions, or movies from your childhood like Goonies.

With help from a fast internet speed, like Verizon's 100 mbps, opening multiple browser windows and conducting searches is going to be a snap. Get into the spirit by streaming your favorite show for inspiration or listen to some music. Whatever you do to get motivated, Verizon's Quantum Gateway router is going to handle it all while you Google search, visit your favorite online store, and make that two day shipping happen.

Stuck for a costume idea for your kids? Going to an adult party with no idea what to do? Here are some last minute ideas for you that are fast and simple.


Care Bears : Hoodie, sweatpants, face paint

Searches : Kids colored hoodie, sweatpants, care bears face painting, felt

Ideas : cut out belly badge out of felt and safety pin it to the front of the hoodie

Elliot and E.T. 

Searches: crate, red hoodie, E.T. Plush

Ideas: Attach a strap to the crate so that it can be fitted around your child's neck to make carrying easier

Back to the Future - Marty McFly

Searches : Puffy red vest, Jean jacket, foam headphones, aviator sunglasses kids

Ideas: Have a friend dress up like Doc Brown to go together


Eleven - Stranger Things 

Searches: Stranger Things Eleven dress, blue members only jacket, blonde wig, fake blood

Ideas: Add a little fake blood from your nostril to add to the effect. Carry around waffles

Pablo Escobar - Narcos 

Searches : Nautical sweater, fake mustaches, fake money

Bob Ross 

Searches : brown afro wig, fake goatee/beard, painter's palette

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Verizon FiOS in Philadelphia. All opinions expressed are my own. #FiOSPhilly

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Get In the Halloween Spirit With Netflix

Monsters under the bed. Sounds at night. The wind howling outside. The unknown can be very scary for our children. We tell them that there is nothing to fear. That monsters aren't real and that they are safe. Yet, we are all fascinated by this notion that they are and embrace the possibility once a year on Halloween where we become anything our hearts desire.

I loved Halloween as a kid and still do as an adult. I'm that guy that decorates his front lawn, loads up on candy, and heads out with the kids in full costume with them going door to door. I suppose this fascination started as a kid. My older brothers are eight and ten years older than me so when they wanted to see a movie, I was often along for the ride. 

The first time I really remember being scared was at a drive in movie with my family. I saw part of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in that drive in.  I don't think that I saw the entire movie as my parents must have removed me from the station wagon at some point because I remember playing on the drive in playground the rest of the time and eating popcorn. But to this day, that organ music just stayed with me. 

It's hard as a parent to find movies that walk that line between scary but appropriate. We don't want our kids unable to sleep at night because their closet door is open a crack and they think something is coming to get them. Try these family friendly titles to get in the Halloween spirit instead, with the right amount of scary and a few titles that are just good old fashioned fun. 

For Kids 3-5

Spooky Buddies

Curious George : A Halloween Boo Fest

Casper's Scare School

For Kids 6-9

Pac's Scary Halloween

Dreamworks Spooky Stories

Scooby Doo 1 & 2

For Kids Ages 10-13

R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour

Monster Squad


Find these and other great titles on Netflix and follow this family guide to Stream & Scream for more