Thursday, February 25, 2016

From Full to Fuller House

I used to wish I could ride with Michael in K.I.T.T. and help him solve mysteries and right wrongs.

I pretended I was Ricky Stratton's long lost brother as his dad rode the train into the living room.

When Arnold said "What are you talkin' about Willis" I'd laugh like I didn't know it was coming even though I did.

When Jan always got the short end of the stick to Marsha I felt bad for her like she was my own sister.

The shows we watch become a part of our lives. They are a microcosm of the things that make us go through so many emotions as we vicariously watch their lives on the other side of the screen. We root for them to triumph and feel for them when they fail. We yell out to the screen "Don't do that!" even though we know it won't make a difference. Soon, these people start to feel like our own family.

This is especially true when it is a show we grow up watching. All I have to utter is "Everywhere You Look..." and you'll be singing the theme song. You sang along to it as a kid and despite everything that has happened in your life you can still sing it by heart. I am of course talking about Full House.

Streaming to you in this Netflix Original, you can relive the days you spent with the Tanners on Fuller House. This time it's DJ Tanner-Fuller trying to raise three boys with the help of her sister and the ever present Kimmy Gibbler who is also a single parent. It's funny and heartwarming with just the right amount of 1990s references to the old show.  You'll be rooting for them again in no time and saying "You got it dude" just like old times.

Episodes will appear on February 26th on Netflix but to get a sneak peek at the show, watch the video below and check out the Netflix themed lists for more shows you and your family will love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fuel For Life

I created this post as part of a sponsored series with Socialstars and Shell; all opinions are my own. #ShellCrowd

I hate the grocery store. I hate everything about it. Even though I have a list of things I have to get there's a certain aspect of gathering that I just despise. I guess that I'd rather be the hunter without the actual killing part, that just seems wrong.

It's my fault the kids have come to rely on what I choose from the grocery store as their truth. And while five boxes of different kinds of cereals probably seems excessive to most people, my daughters will constantly remind me if we get below nine which is the benchmark they say, is appropriate since they never, ever want to run out of cereal. 

Then there is the milk situation. My family drinks one gallon of milk per day. Yes, that is not a typo. Per day. I find myself rationing out milk at dinner time and carefully watching the breakfast pour. If they aren't tipping that cereal bowl to lap up that milk like an overexcited kitten at the end, dad takes over pouring the milk the next day. 

I cringe at the thought that my five year old at some point will insist on being able to "pour it herself" trying to impose her will over my ban on milk overuse. If there's any reason I still have any kind of definition in my arms it is because I'm lugging three gallons of milk from the store, to my car and into my house every three days. 

Recently, during the threat of a winter storm warning, I headed to the grocery store because, surprise! We were almost out of milk. I did our regular shopping and loaded up the conveyor belt with the overflowing cart. The checkout kid looked at me and looked at the belt and laughed.

He said to me "Stocking up for the the big storm?" 

"Nope, I'm just buying my usual amount of groceries"

"Are you serious?" he asked

"Yes, and my wife wanted a fourth kid!"

We went from a two family frozen pizza to a three family frozen pizza and now I have to stagger the cook times just to make sure they all get their time in the oven. Feeding a family of five is expensive and I'm always on the lookout for ways to save us some money. Good thing there is Shell's #FuelRewards card.  

Here's how it works sign up for a FREE Shell #FuelRewards card, link an existing credit card to it, and start saving money at the pump. You can link existing credit cards with the Fuel Rewards card and start earning points through dining, on-line shopping, and travel plus Shell will provided exclusive offers for Fuel Rewards members. Why not get rewarded for practically taking a loan out at the grocery store or purchasing shoes for your kids who are claiming they have holes in their shoes. Saving can be easy and everyday savings add up for the other things you'll need. New members who sign up can receive a $.25 per gallon sign up bonus. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Discovering Friendship with Yo-kai Watch

We were returning from an after school activity when the giant box was left on our front porch. The large logo and picture of a watch with the Yo-kai Watch symbol caught our attention and the kids were scrambling out of the minivan like they were deploying out of a helicopter. It was yet another cold and frosty day outside. My indoor/outdoor thermometer read seven degrees with a windchill of negative two. It was a perfect opportunity to discover together just what was inside this box.

I'll be honest. I had no clue what Yo-kai Watch was and neither did my kids. That doesn't happen that often in this house as I pride myself in being that dad that knows all the coolest toys. I told my kids that the Yo-kai Watch movie was even more popular in Japan than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
To get some perspective, we snuggled up on the couch and popped in the first four episodes of Yo-kai Watch to get familiar with the characters. The box would have to wait.

It was pretty exciting to experience it together for the first time. We were in this together for possibly the first time!  All too often the kids come home with feedback from the "experts" on the bus who know it all about everything and anything. I was glad to have them untainted by outside influence. My kids were hooked instantly and the good thing is that you can see Yo-kai Watch on Disney XD on Mondays at 5 pm ET or see past episodes on their YouTube channel. Parents, you'll want to get out in front of this one as your kids will soon be asking you all about it.

Yo-kai Watch is an original concept created by renowned Japanese game company Level-5, Inc.  It follows the story of a boy named Nate who stumbles upon a Yo-kai named Whisper while hunting for bugs in a forest. Whisper gives him a watch that allows him to see Yo-kai which are spirits that cause trouble in the human world. Whisper acts as Nate's guide while he deals with bad Yo-kai who cause trouble and seeks out good Yo-kai to help him solve the issues they are causing.

After watching the show, my kids were ready to explore the toys from Hasbro and tore into the packages to divide up the Yo-kai swag. Each kid had a Yo-kai Watch which recognizes medals of different characters, a Yo-kai Medallium Collection Book to organize and keep their medals, one Yo-kai Watch Medal Moments figure and one Yo-kai Watch Mystery Bag.

The series is wacky to say the least. There is lots of potty related humor and an elusive character called Cheeksqueak whose description on the Yo-kai Land app that describes his powers as being able to force anyone to fart by spraying an orange mist from his "mouth".  There is even one episode where Nate gets outed by a girl friend of his for dropping a deuce at school. This became my kids' focus when they were pretending later that day and it made us all laugh when it happened.

Beyond the show is an immersive toy collection from Hasbro. The Medallium Collection Book is absolutely essential for the organization of the medals and understanding which category each Yo-kai falls into. My kids instantly organized all their medals in their books and went about trading and comparing their favorite characters.

Combine this collection ability with the interactive nature of the medal with the Yo-kai Watch and my kids instantly became Yo-kai Watch experts. It didn't take long before we were singing and dancing to the catchy songs from the series and pretending the the Yo-kai actually did exist in our own lives.

What I loved most about the series was that there was less emphasis on fighting and more emphasis on friendship. Making a powerful ally in a Yo-kai with impressive talents will help the wearer of the watch when it comes to difficult situations with bad Yo-kai.  When Nate summons someone for help he says "Come out my friend". The same thing happened to my own children, I watched them do the thing that brings kids together, which is play.

The same way we turn to our friends in real life when times get tough, Yo-kai Watch stresses the importance of friendship over fighting. While my children were already friends, I saw them come together while playing in a next level of friendship and sharing which isn't always the case for kids. Now my kids are running around the house knocking on each other's doors to play and saying "Come out my friend" and that's an attitude they can carry with them forever even when they aren't wearing the watch. There's one thing that holds true for once you have Yo-kai in your house, your life will never ever be the same.

FTC Disclaimer: I was compensated both financially and in product by Hasbro for the #YokaiWatch campaign. All opinions remain my own. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I thought about taking my family to the movies next weekend for Valentine's Day thinking it would be nice to spend an afternoon at the theater with some popcorn. Just thinking about the dark room, the hushed quiet, and a comfy seat had me excited. I was looking forward to it just being us and our three minions enjoying the laughter of the shared moments.

So, I looked up the movie and chose the matinee option hoping that our little adventure wouldn't break the bank. Boy, I was wrong. A child's matinee price these days is eleven dollars and our adult tickets would have been thirteen a piece. For the five of us just to sit in the theater it will cost us sixty bucks! Throw in a giant tub of popcorn big enough to satiate three growing kids and the money in my wallet would be flying out faster than a luge of movie theater butter.

How can anyone afford to go to the movies anymore when a perfectly good couch, my favorite fleece blanket and that giant flat-screen is calling me home? Is your husband's idea of movie with real heart revolve around zombies? Does your wife come home, lose the bra and put on a comfy sweatshirt? Have you seen your kids at all this week besides bedtime? These are all signs that a night in is what you really need.

Valentine's Day is about spending time with the people you love so forget the price gouging movie theater and spend it this year with your significant others. Show your loved ones that you're in it for the long haul by subscribing to Netflix and you'll still have money left over for a bouquet of roses. Just make sure they aren't in front of the TV. To help you along the way, here are sure fire shows for all of the sweethearts in your life.


Premieres February 26th 


Disclaimer : This is a sponsored post for the Netflix #StreamTeam. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Don't Underestimate the Power of Small

This post is sponsored by Socialstars and Tide, however all opinions are my own. #SmallButPowerful

I used to look at my youngest daughter and instantly think of her as this fragile tiny thing. When she initially was delivered my wife and I wondered where the rest of her was. The other kids had been much bigger than her, born around the same length and birth weight as my wife and I as babies. Of our three kids, she was easily the smallest by two pounds but made it clear quickly that her size was not to be underestimated.

Soon, she was zooming around and seemed to skip crawling altogether. She was motivated to keep up with her older brother and sister and proceeded to learn how to walk at a very young nine months. Coincidentally, this was the same part of her life that she first visited the emergency room for a gash on her forehead as she was trying to navigate our slate steps in our kitchen. She hasn't slowed down since then constantly amazing her mother and I at her agility and coordination.

When it came time to find an activity that was suited to her interests, we tried many things like gymnastics, running, and swimming. There is nothing she hasn't been able to do. We entered her into a kids running series and she blew away the competition. In swimming, she has jumped a level every month surpassing her older sister by a least one level.  But by far the thing she has excelled at has been karate.

There is nothing like watching your baby girl spar in karate. Sometimes I just sit and watch in amazement as I think about how she used to hold the baby spoon with those same fingers that are wielding the nunchuks. There's a sense of pride that wallows up in me as I watch her tiny fists of fury defending her position. To think those little toes I used to marvel at while she slept, are not countering against her would be attacker. My daughter is #SmallButPowerful.

I don't think of sports in terms of girl's sports or boys. As a former high school girls basketball coach I can tell you that the biggest obstacle for girls today is someone telling them they can't do something. I used to tell my players that the game of basketball is the same whether you are a boy or girl. The fundamentals are the same. The courts are the same. You change the game, it shouldn't change you.

People see me at 6'6" and instantly think "Do you play basketball?" I usually respond with "Do you play miniature golf?" just to elicit a chuckle. There's an expectation there that size has everything to do with talent. That's not the case with Tide Pods when it comes to laundry as the #SmallButPowerful pods are incredibly efficient at cleaning. That's not the case with people either. Size isn't what defines you, it's your will to win that does.

There have been many athletes who have played the game regardless of stature. Take for example, Becky Hammon who at 5'6" is a full foot shorter than me. Becky Hammon is #SmallButPowerful.  In 1999, she was an undrafted rookie point guard from Colorado State simply trying to earn a roster spot with the New York Liberty. Through hard work and determination she became a six time WNBA All Star and lead her team to three WNBA finals appearances.

According to an interview on ESPN Hammon was quoted saying "The fans have always embraced me, even when I was the last person on the bench," she said. "I had to fight and scrap for every little bit of playing time that I got and I would not do it any other way. I like being able to say that I worked for my career and worked for my success. Nobody handed me anything."

It's this drive to be the best is what I try and instill in my own daughters. Labels shouldn't define you. Hammon's career was a huge success in the WNBA but after suffering from an injury in 2013 she didn't give up on basketball. In fact, she became involved with the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich noticed. He didn't see a female basketball player. He only saw her as a prospective coach and hired her as the first female assistant coach in the NBA.

She didn't let labels and height hold her back from being successful. Hammon's journey as an athlete and now coach defines her as someone that is small but powerful. She has had in impact on sports that will hopefully change viewpoints and pave the way for gender biases to be broken down.

It's not enough to be the first. It's about earning respect every single day. Steve Nash knows what it takes. #SmallButPowerful Tide #ad
Posted by Official Becky Hammon on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hammon told ESPN "Just because something's never been done doesn't mean it can't be done. And there's a big difference there. So I don't see why not -- if it's not me or someone else. The point is, 'Do you know basketball? Do you know what it takes to lead people?' And leadership really has no gender. What works with men works with women."

I'm hoping that my daughters follow in Becky Hammon's footsteps. Size is not what defines you. It's what you do with that size that really matters. I never underestimate someone based on their size for things that are small are often the most powerful things of all.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Through It All, We're Covered

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

My daughter has been begging me for snow since October repeatedly asking when winter technically started so that white stuff could make its appearance. She even wrote to Santa repeatedly asking for snow and endured day after day of  letdown as her under pillow note, wishing to wake up to a winter wonderland, failed over and over again. As is our Christmas tradition, we went to upstate New York which is infamously known for their snowfalls. I felt confident it would eventually happen.

Christmas Eve this year was a record breaking sixty degrees that day and not one single snowflake in sight. It's been a gloriously snow free winter save for a few light dustings. I haven't had to dig out my car or run the defroster for half an hour trying to shake the ice off of my windshield. This winter was a piece of proverbial cake, not frosted of course. That is, until Winter Storm Jonas arrived in Philadelphia.

In the course of 24 hours, the heavens opened up and delivered all of Santa's snow in drifts that went all the way up to my knees. The wind howled and I watched my backyard evergreens shiver like the heavy layers of snow were winter coats they were trying to shrug off.

My car became buried and the snow was so intense that I knew we weren't going anywhere. The kids of course were prepared to go out at any cost as they had been asking since Halloween when they would get their chance. The wind was so brutal that my children, of fair complexion would come in after thirty minutes of arctic conditions with faces like shiny red apples. After warming them up with some magical hot chocolate, we watched as the outside world became one giant snow globe.

It's times like these when you are cooped up that the cabin fever starts to set in. There's no escape from each other so where can we turn? We cuddle up with movies on the couch, do work on the computer, and sometimes just to get a respite, we go to our rooms with our separate tablets like boxers after the round's bell.

And through it all, with the streaming, internet use, and three kids on their respective devices, not once did I have to worry about my internet being down or fear that buffering the latest Super Why episode might induce an epic tantrum.

The simple fact is, that Verizon FiOS was there for me through it all and I've come to rely on that sense of comfort with our internet provider. There's just something that gets me all warm and fuzzy inside about having access to the internet and being able to stream all this data while the outside world seems to fall apart. With my old provider a strong storm would inevitably mean a loss of service but I've never had that happen with FiOS.

Isn't piece of mind that when you need a service the most, it will be there for you? In fact, if you check on this deal right now, you can get the Verizon Double Play, that's 50/50 mbps and Fios TV Local for only $50 per month. That includes HBO for a one free year! Sign up for Verizon FiOS today and be assured that they will be there for you too through it all.

Monday, February 1, 2016

All Aboard the Dad Bus

I created this post as part of a sponsored series with Socialstars and Shell; all opinions are those of DadNCharge's alone. #ShellCrowd

My phone has this cool function on it that updates the traffic situations based on how much time I spend in a particular place. For most of the time, when I worked out regularly it would tell me that I would have a fifteen minute commute to my local YMCA, assuming I worked there as I religiously exercised almost every day. My phone therefore would refer to the place I spent most of my time as "work" and give me approximate travel times to get there periodically about the day.

Recently, I injured my back and while I have been taking a two month hiatus from the gym, I have been able to go about my normal routines of housework, grocery shopping, and running errands with and without the kids. Sometimes it means I am taking them to school or driving them to an after school activity but all the while keeping the minivan going most of the day from place to place. 

But work took on a whole new meaning the other day when my phone notified me that it would only take me five minutes to get to "work". I didn't recognize the location so I looked it up on Google maps. It was my local gas station. 

Apparently, I spend more time at the pump than I realize. It's understandable though as I am usually in one day driving one kid to preschool, driving to run errands, driving to pick up kids and drop them off all day long. On weekends, family time is spent going on adventures together. In the winter it is especially hard because you want to escape being trapped inside so you drive, somewhere, anywhere to not be stuck at home doing laundry. Anything but the laundry. 

I remember when I was younger, I worked at a pharmacy where one of my jobs was to make in house deliveries of patient's prescriptions. It wasn't a normal service you'd see today and I used my own car to make the deliveries. That meant making sure I always had gas but as a high school student, that wasn't always easy to come by. Sometimes if I got lucky, a person would take pity on me and tip me for coming to them and I'd use that money to fill up my tank. Most of the time that crumpled up wad of ones would sit in my front jeans pocket until the needle was close to E. 

Of course back then, a gallon of gasoline was less than ninety-nine cents but I never worried about the price of gas, as it seemed pretty affordable. Fast forward to today and factor in a family of five and out everyday needs. All of that driving around really adds up.

I don't know how many times I've looked at my fuel gauge and have done a double take thinking "Didn't I just fill this up the other day?"  So the real question is how can we help our families be more conscience about our spending? How can we get rewarded for the things we already buy so it helps us out with fuel costs?  Enter the Shell  Fuel Rewards® program

Whenever you shop, dine or make other day-to-day purchases at any merchant or restaurant participating in the Fuel Rewards program, you earn cents-per-gallon discounts on fuel known as Fuel Rewards savings. The savings you earn between fill-ups are then combined to drive down the price you pay at the pump. Shell's new Fuel Rewards® program helps its members save at least 3 cents per gallon and the sign up is completely free. 

Join the #ShellCrowd by signing up for the Fuel Rewards card and start saving your family money at the pump. You can link existing credit cards with the Fuel Rewards card and start earning points through dining, on-line shopping, and travel plus Shell will provided exclusive offers for Fuel Rewards members.

Saving can be easy with Fuel Rewards and everyday savings will add up instantly. You won't be scrounging those pockets for money just to fuel up because your card will automatically give you discounts right at the pump. Sign up as new member today and start saving $.25 cents per gallon bonus! Pretty soon you'll find that you're approaching the prices we used to remember so you can spend it on more important stuff like coffee.