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.