Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Help the Six Thousand

Imagine Radio City Music Hall filled to its capacity. It seats six thousand people in a sold out show and every seat is taken. Now imagine if every single one of them was a victim of domestic abuse.

Six thousand victims of domestic abuse every day have to choose between being homeless and returning to an abusive home. Six thousand people have to be turned away from shelters where they are safe from domestic violence because of a lack of funding for these safe places. Imagine having to make the choice between being safe and having a roof over your head every day.

In one day, the average human being makes 35,000 decisions from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. You have the chance among those decisions to change the lives of six thousand people whom you don't know. You have a chance to alter their lives for the good and protect them from harm.

Can you imagine what six thousand people displaced because of domestic abuse looks like? Imagine beds as far as your eye can see. Each bed represents one of those lives that you could change forever.

How you can help will seem insignificant to you but it can make the world of difference in someone's life who is a victim of abuse. HopeLine from Verizon provides this help and all you have to do is donate your old phones, equipment, etc. from any provider to help make that change.

How does this work and where does the money go? Phones that are donated are refurbished or recycled. The refurbished phones are sold, and Verizon Wireless uses the proceeds from the sale of any donated phone to fund non-profit agencies and to purchase other wireless phones for victims of domestic violence. Older phones that cannot be salvaged are disposed of in an environmentally sound way through an Environmental Protection Agency certified salvage company.

Verizon donates wireless phones, complete with voice and text capabilities, to local domestic violence shelters and non-profit organizations and agencies for use by victims and survivors. These phones serve as a vital link to support services and provide a safe line of communication to family, loved ones and employersSince 2001, HopeLine has collected 12 million phones and has seven million dollars in cash grants to domestic violence organizations in 2015 alone.

Verizon hopes that by supporting local shelters and charitable organizations, it can aid those in need by supporting victims, raising awareness, and educating communities. There might be an organization in your area that is already involved or you may know of an organization that would like to be a part of HopeLine.

If you have a phone that is just sitting around unused, it could change someone's life.Even if your phone is broken, it can still be donated. The phone will be dismantled for parts or recycled. Your old phone could be a lifeline for those in need or give someone a new opportunity to turn things around in their life.

Want to donate your old phone? Visit any Verizon Wireless store or mail your phone into Verizon to donate. Help support HopeLine by donating your unused phones and equipment today and let's make sure the six thousand are never turned away again. 

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing 1-800-799-SAFE or #HOPE from your Verizon Wireless phone.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Never Let Them See You Sweat

It's the toughest and most rewarding job I have ever had staying at home. Though some of it revolves around playing LEGO and dusting off your old Star Wars action figures from the attic, the reality is that staying at home is a mind-numbing exercise of repetition and schedules.

Working hard and playing hard for a stay at home parent are one in the same. I swear sometimes I feel like a human jungle gym. Dad on the floor is code for jump on my back and let me ride you like a horse. Ever try to tell a five year old that you were just too tired to play and that you were going to "rest your eyes"? You might wake up and find yourself tied to some train tracks if you do. For that reason, I look for things in my life that don't know the meaning of quit.

I used to be able to count on the kids taking naps so that I could get some work done around the house. Instead, it feels like I am raising locusts instead of children as once I get one room straightened up, another becomes completely destroyed. And so, the clean up starts all over again only this time I try to time its actual completion for when my wife comes home. This way I can show her visual proof that the rooms were once actually clean enough to run a vacuum through instead of the angry vacuuming over LEGO pieces and Rainbow Loom bands I do during the second cleaning.

These days the schedule is much more frantic and with all the extra curricular activities in addition to schoolwork I'm constantly logging miles on the minivan, picking up friends and shuttling them around all the while planning and making meals I know most of them will dislike or complain about.

It's a lot of pressure keeping everything moving smoothly and you have to be adaptable. What you don't have time for is stopping. You should know if you're considering staying at home, that you'll want to train like you were for a marathon. From the instant my kids wake up (and it's the same time no matter what savings time it is or time zone for that matter) they are non-stop action.

When the kids were small, I actually was able to go to the gym everyday and I could count on a shower with the kids watched for the two hour maximum while contracting whatever disease was lurking on the toys in the child care room. I'm sure the guys at the gym would wonder why the guy in the first stall seemingly worked out for an hour only to shower for just as long. It was because I was cleaning off days of funk, not hours. Nowadays, I can't guarantee that I will get an uninterrupted shower penciled into the schedule so I rely on the good people at Old Spice to make me presentable to the rest of the world.

I don't dress to impress but I let my #smellegendary status speak for itself. Using Old Spice's Hardest Working Collection Dirt Destroyer Body Wash and Odor Blocker antiperspirant means that I can still turn heads for all the right reasons. In fact, at a recent trip to the arboretum, the flowers were so impressed, they wanted to smell me.

If you don't believe me, come to Philadelphia and smell me. Can't make it to Philly? Still skeptical?  Old Spice is willing to back it up with their 1-800-PROVE-IT Challenge. Old Spice is so confident in the Hardest Working Collection that the product comes with a money-back guarantee – as seen in a series of humorous digital infomercials hosted by Product King® Bob Giovanni. You aren't impressed? Call 1-800-PROVE-IT for a full refund and Bob will give you instructions about how to proceed. Convinced you want to be as fresh as me? Nice! Before you rush out and buy The Hardest Working Collection, use this coupon and start smelling up to your potential.

Look for my Old Spice giveaway in June for Father's Day & Learn more about Old Spice and their Hardest Working Collection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Old Spice for this promotion.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hiding In Plain Sight

It's dark where I am and quiet. It's just me breathing shallow, watching my breath become visible in the cool night air. It billows and vanishes like a gust of powdery snow and dissipates as if it were never there. People are looking for me in the night but they will never find me. I am the ghost in the graveyard.

From where I am sitting I can see the neighborhood kids running through back yards armed with flickering torches.  I can see their beams of light swallowed by the infinite blackness like headlights on a deserted rural road. Beyond its limited swath, the light is engulfed by the night. They won't dare to go farther than their light will allow them. The fear of what lies in the unknown blackness keeps everyone at bay, especially me.

Up here, is escape. I've climbed this very tree during the day when the sun lit up its arms; when the hard bark against my hands felt warm to the touch and the largest branches pressed up against my back to let me know it would hold me.

I've swayed along with them like I was dancing with the wind. I have watched them go through changes as we grew together. There's something about a tree that keeps us grounded; the narrowing of branches as you climb higher sets your limits. You can only climb as high as you feel safe and as you ascend the branches get less substantial and more risky.

I've spent lots of time in this tree. Sometimes I would climb until branches broke testing how far I could go and sometimes I've lost my footing and slid down a level or two praying the ground wouldn't rush up to meet me. Sometimes, depending on the conditions, I didn't know if I could go higher. Most of the time I was afraid to leave the lower branches because I knew they were a sure thing. My tree is safe and most of my life I've spent up in its safety afraid to come down.

You see, coming down from this tree means that I wanted people to find me. I would be discovered and my hiding place revealed. Leaving the safety of the branches meant taking on whatever awaited me in the dark and I've been to scared to admit that I've needed to be found.

I'm suffering from depression and this disease has a crippling hold on me. It's taken me years to write that sentence and not be afraid of what it means. No one told me I couldn't cry. No one told me to stop being a baby and act like a man. It's ingrained in any man who grew up thinking sharing our feelings was a bad thing and that our masculinity was tied to being anything as long as it was strong.

Those thoughts of fragility are always with me every time I cry at commercials with kids and their fathers. I get teary eyed at parent-teacher conferences even when they are good because I get overwhelmed. When someone gives me a compliment, I may laugh because I walk the line between being overly confident and self-deprecatingly humble. I feel sad and often worthless despite others trying to lift me up. I tell myself that I don't deserve everything I have and worry that it will all end before I can really enjoy it. My anxiety often holds me back from being the best person I can be and every time I feel this way, I scramble back up in my tree.

I've watched people from afar and I've admired their courage while sharing their story of this disease. For the longest time I wasn't truthful with myself about my feelings. It wasn't pride that held me back from admitting something with me has not been right for a long time, it was ignorance. I thought that if I just pretended long enough that nothing was wrong it would become reality. I believed that eventually because I would never reveal my true self, that it would all just go away.

Every day I've put on this mask for my children, not wanting them to know that their dad whom they look up to with reverence has a chink in his armor. Why do I feel that way? Don't I want them to realize that no one is infallible? Shouldn't I help them realize that we all make mistakes and how we learn from them is how we grow stronger?

In the most basic of cliches I didn't want to admit that I had a problem. When people would find out I was a stay at home dad I'd smile and tell them that I was "Living the dream" but I didn't always believe that and some days I still don't. Some days it doesn't seem worth it to me and as the laundry piles up and so do my responsibilities; the higher the stack, the harder it is for me to overcome this feeling that I am drowning. When I don't get things done, I feel like a failure. I can't bring myself to see that the tree while keeping me grounded, is distancing me from those people on the ground.

Sometimes, I climb down for my son or daughters. Sometimes I just feel paralyzed like I climbed to the top and I can't get down. When my daughter is begging me to go outside and play I just want to stay in my tree so I'd hand her a device and hide inside social media. When I feel most vulnerable I climb the tree to become the ghost again and disappear.

It hasn't been fair to my family but mostly of all myself, I realize now. Only after I sought counseling did I realize that hiding in my tree was keeping me from living my life. I felt like talking about it would make it real so I was against sharing how I felt. That admission was scarier to me than any height I might reach. Depression sends me clambering for the tree when things get tough because it is easier to hide and even more frightening to be found.

Depression has kept me from being my true self. It has kept me from my art and robbed me of my confidence.  How could I anchor my family when I felt as thin as the topmost branches? I've climbed up so high I was afraid of coming down so I've decided to descend from the tree one branch at a time.

I didn't know if I ever could come down. But I know this now, I'm leaving the comfort of my tree because for me being found isn't scary anymore. I can let go of those branches I'd cling to and head for solid ground. Those flickering torches searching for me in the dark aren't coming to get me, they just want to shine some light on me and it is about time the ghost lets them.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Shows For Your Bros

Mom! He's on my side of the car!

No, I'm not but look how close I can get to the line. "I'm not touching it, I'm not touching it."

Mom! He's annoying me again!

Stop fighting or I swear I'll turn this car around!

If you've ever experienced this exact same conversation, it's a good possibility that you have a sibling. It's true, they are there to annoy us most of the time. Maybe they take our stuff or steal our clothes right out of our closet. If your creepy little brother ever embarrassed you at a slumber party by walking around in his underwear or your sister hogged the bathroom for far too long, you understand the torture.

They aren't all that bad though. My younger brother and I spent lots of time together playing after school, staging our own after school Wrestlemania matches, playing every kind of sport, and doing things that brothers do which in general means getting into everything but our homework.

As you grow up life's little annoyances become different and hopefully, your relationship with your sibling matures. They may still annoy you but as you move away from each other you may begin to realize that your time together is much different.

You may even be able to invite them over for a beer to watch Netflix together just as long as they stay on their side of the couch. So here are some shows that include brothers of all kinds that you can watch together.

Can't decide what to watch? If a game of paper, rock, scissors can't decide, leave it up to the Netflix Fortune Teller to decide for you. Your brother can't argue with fate. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Men, Our Real Strength Is In Each Other

They crowded in the tunnel together, arms around one another, hands raised as one. Kids all around clambered for a spot and waited with an outstretched hand just to get a touch from their heroes. The men bowed their heads together bound by similarity in pose but mostly in heart. They were here for each other win or lose but together all the same. They were there for sport but it is something bigger than that which brings them closer.

Men need each other. We need to talk to each other and help each other through tough times. There are too many men dying because of suicide due to mental illness because they believe they have no one to turn to and that no one with understand them if they do. We can't be afraid to show our emotions because we as humans have a basic need to be loved. Dove Men + Care did some research on men and their evaluations of male friendships. They found that 74% of men believe that pop culture does not give enough credit to the support and care involved in men’s friendship. It's not the softening up of men that people see as a problem, it's the lack of belief that a man with emotions is something real.

According to research from Dove Men + Care over two-thirds of men say they bond with their friends over sports or fitness. It makes sense as we see it as an opportunity to share something we love with one another. I think of all the times I spent with my dad at sporting events; freezing our tails off at Bears games, watching the Bulls win championships, and travelling cross country with him and my brother to Cooperstown hitting every ballpark along the way. I cherish the bonds I have with both of them. Men together, win together whether in sports or life.

This March, Dove Men + Care gave me a real opportunity to share how much a relationship with my father means to me by providing tickets to a Sweet Sixteen game in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. My dad never shied away from showing emotion. I've seen him tear up enough times to know that crying isn't something to be ashamed of. When I called him up to tell him we were going to a March Madness game together I could hear it in his voice on the other end of the phone. "I'd love to go with you, that will be special." he said. We both couldn't wait.

In all our time together, neither he nor I had ever attended a March Madness game. I even made a sign that read "This is our first March Madness Game together, I'm here with my dad" and tried to get on the Jumbotron while we bonded over sports. Unfortunately we saw our Wisconsin Badgers fall to Notre Dame but the experience was unlike any other I've had with him. I was watching the game but began to see all around me the bonds of real strength between men.

What I did witness at the game was the ultimate collection of male relationships. I saw fathers with sons, coaches and players, brothers and brothers. As a team, you have to love and respect one another. You have to communicate and trust in each other to play at a high level.

On the court the crowd may have just seen men passing to one another but I saw that when they'd return during drills, they'd take the time to acknowledge their support with a slap of a hand. The culture of caring is something a coach teaches his/her players. You cannot trust someone completely if you don't love and respect them. You have to know that when you fall, they will still be there for you when you do. It's little things like this that let your brothers know that you are there for them.

I saw this brotherly love in the arms around each other's shoulders, a slap on the back when someone wasn't doing well as they headed to the bench, linked arms on the bench as they cheered their teammates on. After a loss there are hugs and crying because finding bonds of real strength in each other just makes sense. Here are examples of guys in sports, showing emotion, a thing that people say real men don't do.

Sports, in itself has emotion built in. Winning is a great feeling but what happens when things don't go our way? The reality is, we are there for each other. Someone must lose, it is part of the game. The agony of defeat among basketball players in the NCAA is consoled by hugs between men whether they be players or coaches who care for one another. After North Carolina's final loss in the championship to Villanova Roy Williams just said "I love my kids in that locker room". We play together, we lose together, we win together; but the important thing is, that we are together.

Visit to learn more about the ‘Bonds of Real Strength’ throughout 2016 NCAA March Madness and watch stories from other basketball coaches including this video of Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Force Awakens in a New Generation of Fans

We will finish...what you started. The room was raucous and full of pent up energy. It was a Friday after school and we opened up our home to eight tweens on April 1st. However, this was no April Fool's Day joke. We had just received Star Wars: The Force Awakens DVD and a Hasbro party pack four days prior to it's release on Blu-ray April 5th and thanks to Hasbro my son had a very special eleventh birthday party. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to kick off another year of growth with him than to watch the one movie from my childhood I had made sure would be passed down to him.

The boys sit raptly watching the movie and when someone would talk I felt a sense of pride in them when they policed themselves and shushed the offending talker. The experience of owning a movie that you have been waiting for so long and one that you probably saw with your parents is a special feeling. It's like owning a part of your history.

After the feature presentation, this group of 11 year olds spent the next hour at a sleepover birthday party not battling with the Hasbro Bladebuilders lightsabers but instead watched the special features which included Secrets of The Force Awakens, Building BB-8, Crafting Creatures, and Deleted Scenes. Do yourself a favor and if you're a real Star Wars fan, make sure you get the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray so you'll know what everyone is talking about.

Through all my years of geeking out as a kid myself, playing Star Wars in my friend's backyards pretending to be our heroes, shooting bad guys, and mastering The Force like it was our religion, Star Wars has been a part of me since before I can remember. Over time I've amassed comic books, collector's cards, and a multitude of toys I've let him play with since he was old enough to appreciate why dad's complete Yoda is a special thing and just why no one is allowed to play with dad's complete Slave I spaceship.

Our Darth Vader case doesn't sit in the attic anymore waiting to be used. It sits in our playroom so they can have full access to the toys. My daughters play with Rancors and are partial to the Princess Leias. Every time they take them out, it brings me right back to my childhood. I look forward to the days when they call me into the room asking if I'd like to play Star Wars with them instead of the other way around.

Hasbro is keeping this tradition alive with toys especially with toys that focus on Rey including the Takodana Encounter 3.75 inch Multipack featuring Rey, Finn, Maz Kanata and BB-8 and the 12" Rey (Jakku) figure they sent in the pack. If you were wondering where Rey has been, she is featured in the Takodanda Encounter pack with her blue lightsaber by her side.

The viewing party must has inspired them because for the next two hours I policed the Nerf First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster and Kylo Ren Bladebuilder lightsaber battles. It was the perfect ending to a proud night for me. My son told me the next day that it was the perfect birthday party and you can't ask for anything more than that from your child.

Even our cat, Butters decided to get in on the action. With the blaster vacating it's box, he decided to set up shop. Thanks to Hasbro who made my son's eleventh birthday party a special one that none of us will forget. Remember to buy Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray DVD tomorrow, April 5th in stores or online. Make your own viewing party one that is special with Hasbro so that you too can pass down the legacy that is Star Wars to your children.

A photo posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on

FTC Disclaimer: My friends at Hasbro sent me these Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys and DVD to throw a viewing party for my son's birthday and write about my experience. All views expressed are my own. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Secret to Being Smooth

This post brought to you by Gillette at Sam’s Club. The content and opinions expressed below are that of DadNCharge.

I can be honest with myself. I haven’t always been smooth. When you think about someone who has it all working for them you consider them a smooth operator. That’s someone who has everything working for them and can run everything without a hitch.

We spent time taking wrinkles in our existence and smoothing them out. Clearing a path or ironing them out, our way becomes much easier when it seems to be smooth as glass.

I’ll be the first to admit, I was less than smooth in college. I really had a tough time figuring out just what it was that women actually wanted. I’d see some guys who seemed to be smooth turn out to only be acting that way. In the end, they would ruffle more feathers and end up trying to smooth them out.

In life, we want things to be smooth. We want our paths to be unhindered and worry free. No one wants to drive down the bumpy path or set sail on choppy waters. We want smooth sailing all the way.

When things go badly, you hope that they can smooth things out. That’s when life gets complicated and difficult to deal with you may be hoping that everything is as smooth as silk. Smooth implies that there are no imperfections and that your path is clear. Being smooth implies a certain sense of calm and that everything is right with the world.

My kids have come to expect that sort of order while I have been an at home dad. Running the household is rarely ever smooth sailing. But, having a schedule and keeping things in order can help with those issues. When I run things smoothly, everyone is happier.

It makes sense that my wife has never been a fan of disorder whether it be in our life or on my face. She’s not a fan of beards or any sort of facial hair. In fact, Movember is a rough time in my household for me and my family. My wife won’t come near me when I have facial hair so things can get hairy so that’s why I am more inclined to stay a clean shaven man.

Maybe it is because I am one of those guys who can’t grow a decent beard even if I wanted to. I see all these hipsters with beards and I’m not envious. Everyone in my family loves it when my face is sans facial hair. My kids also hate it when I’m “scratchy” and they shy away from kisses at night because they get poked by my mustache. So to keep things running smoothly in my household I keep my face smooth as a baby’s bottom to make everyone happy.

It's a good thing that Gillette Fusion ProShield can help me smooth things over with the family. Shaving effectively means you need to have lubrication. These razors have lubrication before and after the blade shields to ensure a smooth shave.  If you purchase a pack from Sam's Club, one pack will last you up to 9 months to ensure things continue to run smoothly for almost a whole year!

As you can see, I take being smooth very seriously. As a bald man who shaves his head, I don't just trust any blade for my noggin. The last thing as a bald man you want are irritating blades that will maim you so much that it looks like you got in a fight before heading to work. Lubrication before and after the blade just makes sense. When you are hitting rough patches the lubrication strips on the Gillette Fusion ProShield razors will help you glide right on through.

What's your secret for staying smooth? Leave a comment below and share this post and you could win a Sam's Club gift card. 

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