KOA Family Cabin Camping

You Can Glamp If You Want To

I have a lot of great memories of camping with my family when I was young. We used to go camping at least twice year but often times more. Heck, my parents even drove us all the way to Walt Disney World and we camped instead of staying at one of the resorts. It occurred to me this summer that my young family had yet to embark on our first family camping trip, until now!

We decided to book at the 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea KOA for a number of reasons. First, it’s just over an hour from our house in case things went horribly wrong. Second, they rent cabins with bunk beds for the kids and we thought that sounded fun (and it was). I actually wrestled with the idea of tenting because staying in a cabin felt like we were breaking the rules of camping. That, and the fact that the price difference between tenting and cabin certainly isn’t negligible. In the end I have no regrets as this was one of our best family trips yet!

Due to my superior planning skills and attention to detail, I did little to no research on the Ivy Lea KOA prior to us arriving on site. You can imagine my surprise and excitement as the first thing we saw as we pulled into the park was a gigantic jumping pillow! While I understand that the jumping pillow was put there for the children, I also noticed there was no rules posted against the older campers taking part in the fun…

Dad Jumping Pillow KOA

Here are a few other things I didn’t know about the Ivy Lea KOA. They have heated pools with a water slide. There is an adults only jacuzzi, which I frequented often. There is an arcade. The bathrooms are in immaculate condition, which was important because our cabin didn’t have a bathroom in it. Most importantly, they have a full time activities director whose job it is to keep your children busy and having fun. Every morning we would walk up to the main office and check out all the cool activities planned for that day. As you can see for yourself, there was never a shortage of things for the kids to do.

Ivy Lea KOA Activities

I think my favourite activity was the wet ‘n wild wagon ride in which all the kids grab water gun and load onto a tractor pulled wagon. The tractor then weaves through the campground as an epic water battle takes place between the young riders and the campers who choose to take part. It was so much fun trying to sneak up on the kids and it was great to see how many people took part in the fun.

KOA Ivy Lea Wet Wagon Ride

This was such an amazing family getaway that we actually booked another KOA adventure before the end of summer! I should also note that the staff at the 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea were absolutely incredible and really go out of their way to make sure that everyone has an incredible experience. If you are looking to go camping with your family but don’t feel ready for tent life, I can’t recommend the cabin experience enough as it was a great intro to the outdoors.

Finally I’d love to give a shout out to GMC Canada for allowing us to test the GMC Acadia on our KOA adventure! It was great timing, too, as I’m not sure how we would have done it without all that extra space. We packed that thing to the max and it still drove like it was on the clouds. My kids were actually quite upset when I told them we had to take it back because they loved the 7 seats and the fact that I didn’t have to pack stuff on top of them like the rest of our road trips… I kind of miss it, too.

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of our KOA experience and strongly encourage you to check one out for yourself.

KOA Ivy Lea Water Slide

KOA Tie Dye

GMC Acadia

Barilla Cooking With Kids

Let Me Tell You A Secret About Picky Eaters

My kids hate food. Alright, that seems a little drastic. It seems as though my children dislike more food than they like. Any parent with a picky eater understands the frustration of slaving over a healthy family meal, only to have 50% of the people at the dinner table refuse to eat any of it. Stories such as, “It has green things in it” or “I like it but don’t want to eat it right now”, are mainstays in our house and it seemed as though all was lost, until recently, that is.

I think I may have discovered a loophole in the system and it happened while I was working on my last blog post for Barilla pasta’s Share The Table campaign. I had the kids help me cook the meal that night, which included things that they normally would decline to eat. You know, things like whole grain pasta, tomatoes, all other vegetables… When I mentioned to the kids that food always tastes better when you make it yourself, they couldn’t wait to finish their plates!

Ever since then I have tried to make an effort to get the kids involved in the meal preparation and I have to say that I am running at about a 75% success rate, which is outstanding! No more whining about spaghetti or lasagna having too many vegetables in them because the kids are controlling which and how many veggies are going in. They are also beaming with pride as they help serve the food to the table for family and friends. Win-Win!

Speaking of winning… You still have time to enter Barilla’s Share The Table contest where you can win 1 of 3 trips for four to Italy!! My bags are already packed in case you win and can’t think of anyone else to bring with you. My Italian is quite weak, in fact non-existent, but I smile a lot and don’t sleep walk, so there’s that! Please also check out the Barilla Share The Table website for some great tips and tricks on how to make mealtime a meaningful experience in your house.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Barilla Share The Table campaign.

Schick Drive Free

How Would You Like To Drive Free For A Year?

I bet you thought I was joking with a title like that, didn’t you? In case you hadn’t realized it before, owning a vehicle can get pretty expensive. Between rising gas prices, insurance and depreciation, I often think I’m going to need a second job just to afford staying on the road. The folks over at Schick® understand this reality as well and decided to launch the Schick® Drive Free For A Year giveaway so that one lucky driver could stop worrying about car bills for a whole year! Seeing as how that person cannot be me, I wanted to share this news with all of you in hopes that one of you are named the winner. Imagine how great it would be to drive me all over the place as a thank you for sharing this amazing contest with you? I know I can’t wait!!

I can feel how excited you are getting right now so I’m just going to cut right to the chase. Here are the steps you need to complete in order to win:

Step 1 – Look for participating products in your favourite stores. Then, check for a yellow “Drive Free for a Year” sticker. Also, you can win without making a purchase by writing a 50 word essay on “Why Schick® is my Preferred Brand” and mail it to: The Schick Drive Free for a Year Grand Prize Draw and Instant Win Promotion (Request for No Purchase unique PIN number), Dept 3112, Box 9500 Lakeshore West PO, Oakville ON, L6K 0G4. Let’s be honest though, it’s much easier to stock up on razors, am I right??

Step 2 – Visit the Schick® We Set You Free website, click on the Drive Free tab and register for the contest. It’s quick and easy – takes only 5 minutes. Or, if you’re already registered, just sign in.

Step 3 – Now it’s time to enter your PIN. Be sure to check that it’s a yellow “Drive Free for a Year” sticker. You could win great prizes instantly (over 2400 of them) – plus every PIN is an entry into the Grand Prize draw to Drive Free for a Year!

To sum that all up, buy the product, enter the code, win stuff! You can visit the Schick® We Set You Free website for more details and don’t forget to follow the @FreeYourSkinCA Twitter handle for more info and giveaways during the Drive Free campaign!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, however I seriously considered turning it down after realizing that this blocked me from entering. I also seriously expect one of you to drive me around if you win…

TropicanaBottledSummer Prize Pack

Win A Tropicana Summer Prize Pack! #TropicanaBottledSummer

The summer of winning continues here at Canadian Dad HQ and next on the list is the sweet prize pack above from Tropicana! On top of the fun summer toys in the prize pack, Tropicana have even thrown in a $50 PC gift card to get your next BBQ off on the right foot! Also, while I have you here I would like to admit that I singlehandedly drank all the Tangerine Lemonade that Tropicana sent me to share with my family. No, I am not proud of myself. Yes, it was so good that I would probably do it again. Go buy some for yourself and you’ll see what I’m talking about. While your out, you should definitely also try Tropicana’s new Watermelon Fruit Drink because it is the perfect compliment to any summer outing.

Back to the business at hand, all you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the entry methods as you feel like in the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll draw a winner on July 17th. Giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec (I’m so sorry, Quebec, I am a huge Montreal Canadiens fan and this stings every time). Go get it, folks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received compensation for my participation in Tropicana’s campaign. That said, I actually hid in the garage at one point and drank the Tangerine Lemonade straight out of the bottle so my wife and kids wouldn’t see me…

Merrell Socks Sandals

The Hypocrisy Of The Foot Pic

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am not a huge fan of the pictures of other people’s feet that seem to invade my internet feed on a daily basis. I could never figure out what it was about a picture of a foot that made anyone think, “I need to share this amazing foot picture for all the world to see!”. For the longest time I was beating on the #NoFeetPics drum…until now.

You see, I recently agreed to work with one of my favourite stores in Mark’s on their #ForAllWalks campaign, which required me to try out some shoes from their new line. Being someone who has never owned a really nice pair of sandals I was excited that Mark’s had their Merrell Kahuna III Sandal on the availability list. Once the sandals arrived my wife correctly pointed out that in order to properly discuss them, I was going to have to take a picture of me wearing them… A FOOT PIC, NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

I quickly started running through alternative options in my head. I got away with it in my first post by pretending to use them to swat at wasps, which I did actually do. Then I thought, socks and sandals, but I think we can all agree from the cover photo that this is a way worse option. I came to the conclusion that the only way I can come out of this with my head held high is to do the thing that I have been railing against for years.

The bright side to this conclusion is that I really love the Merrell Kahuna III Sandal so if I have to post a picture of my feet, I’m happy to do it while wearing them. Side note before we get to the finished product, these are truly the most comfortable and versatile sandals I have ever owned and have become my go to footwear whenever we are running out of the house to go play outside. Alright, without further ado, I present to you a picture of my feet!

Merrell Sandals Feet Pics

I’d like to thank Mark’s for including me in their #ForAllWalks campaign. All of the shoes I had the chance to try out have been amazing and have really opened my eyes to the importance of investing in good shoes. I highly encourage you all to head on over to the Mark’s website and check out what they have to offer. You can also interact with the Mark’s social channels by visiting them at their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but I truly dislike all of the feet pics that have infiltrated the internet. I mean, they’re feet, people! Feet!!!!

Sprinkler Summer

What To Do Now That Summer Is Finally Here!

We don’t live in one of those fancy cities where it is sunny and hot all year long. No, first we must make it through a mostly fun but always way too long winter season. Well, none of that matters now because summer is officially here and we are already off to a blazing start! I want to know what your favourite summer activities, events and destinations are so that I can steal them and make them my own, so please feel free to share them in the comments section below. That said, I figured I’d get the ball rolling by sharing some of my family’s favourite summertime activities!

Fairs/Community BBQs

After attending our community’s summer kick-off BBQ this past weekend I remembered how much I love the warm weather and the ability to ditch the sweater and grab some shorts and a t-shirt. The warm weather definitely affects my mood in the best possible way, as witness by the fact that I climbed into a bubble suit and let a bunch of 7 years take running shots at me.

Summer Fairs Carnival

Pool Parties

Now that the DadBod is the coolest thing going, I have even more reason to take the family to as many pool parties as I can this year. On top of that, I love watching the pride in my children’s eyes as they learn to swim without their floaties. As with every other aspect of parenting, these are moments that I hope I can hold on to forever.

Summer Canonball

Road Hockey

Let me tell you something about the girl in this picture. Anything you can do, she will try to do it better. Road hockey is a daily event at our place (yes, we’re Canadian) and even though she’s the smallest of the bunch, she is also the most tenacious. You can get by her once but don’t you dare try the same move twice!

Road Hockey Summer

Bike Rides

I am proud to say that we have seen our last set of training wheels as both kids are now rocking the two wheelers. Sure, they still have the Avengers and Elsa plastered all over them but that isn’t going to hold us back from taking long rides to the ice cream shop this summer.

Biking Summer

The Greatest Lemonade Stand Ever!

A Lemonade Stand is a staple in any childhood, and do you know what can take your stand from good to great this summer?? Stocking your stand with the NEW! Tropicana Watermelon and Tropicana Lemonade with Tangerine, that’s what! Throw in the traditional Tropicana Lemonade to the mix and you will have the most diverse Lemonade Stand than anyone on the block. Furthermore, all three delicious varieties are made with real fruit and without any artificial ingredients. I’m not sure what you are still waiting for, the new Tropicana line is available at major grocery retailers across Canada, so get moving!

New Tropicana Flavours Lemonade

That brings me back to my original question. What are your favourite summertime activities?

Disclosure: I received compensation for my participation in Tropicana’s campaign, however my Lemonade stand brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, it’s better than yours.

GoodLife Fitness Membership

Project #DadFit – Win a 1 Month Membership To GoodLife Fitness!

So, this exercise thing is pretty fun once you get into a rhythm, isn’t it? I have been making my weekly trips to GoodLife Fitness and have even convinced my wife to start coming with me. Having the on-site daycare service has been a life saver, literally I guess. Next week I am going to start weight training, which is scary and exciting at the same time, so we’ll see how that goes!

Also, in order to celebrate the opening of a new GoodLife Fitness at 900 Exhibition Way, Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, I am giving away a 1 month Membership to a GoodLife Fitness near you! All you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the options as you’d like on the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll select a winner on July 6th. Good Luck and don’t forget to get your sweat on!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Marks Giveaway

Win A $100 Mark’s Gift Card

Last week I talked about the reasons you need to invest in a good pair of shoes and now I want to help you with that investment by giving you the chance to win a $100 gift card to Mark’s! Don’t want to use it on shoes? That’s fine, too, because it’s your money and who am I to tell you what to do with it?!

I’ve made it easy to enter the giveaway. Simply fill out as many of the below options as you’d like and I’ll draw a winner on July 2nd. Sorry, Quebec, our giveaway relationship will be staying dicey on this one as you are not eligible to win. If you want to get a head start on what you are going to buy with your gift card, you can visit the Mark’s website to browse all of their great products! Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mark's Work Warehouse Far West

Four Reasons Why You Need A Good Pair Of Shoes

Something occurred to me the other day as I browsed the clearance bin for new shoes. While I may not spend a lot on my shoes, I feel like I am constantly buying new ones because of the wear and tear of a busy life. When I really think about it, I am spending the same amount on multiple pairs of low end shoes that I could be investing in one or two high quality pairs.

This spring, Mark’s has graciously offered to allow me to test out what real footwear feels like as part of their #ForAllWalks campaign. To kick things off I have created a list of “Four Reasons Why You Need A Good Pair Of Shoes” and here it is!

4. Protection From Toy Pain

Mark's Work Warehouse Merrell Chameleon

Every parent in the world understands toy pain. It’s the incredible pain that shoots up your leg and straight to your brain after stepping on one of your children’s toys. This is most commonly associated with LEGO but as I have recently discovered, Beyblades are just as painful to step on if you are not wearing the appropriate footwear. To defend against the psychological long term damaged often caused by toy pain, may I recommend the Merrell Chameleon Prime Stretch Shoes. These shoes are designed for life out in the wild, which let’s face it, is exactly what parenting is.

3. Your Are Not A Child Anymore And Old Bones Need Support

Mark's Work Warehouse Old Bones

I’m not going to lie, this realization is a painful one to deal with. Gone are the days where I could quickly grab a pair of sandals from the dollar store and be on my way. After about one hour in those things today, I would need to lie down with my legs iced for the rest of the day. Since I have been wandering around in the Merrell Kahuna III Sandals that Mark’s sent me, I haven’t felt an ounce of pain! Well, not counting the bruises on my shins from my son’s hockey stick… The point is, as we get older and at all ages, really, we need to outfit our feet with footwear that provides proper support.

2. Running From Wasps

Mark's Work Warehouse Merrell Kahuna

I am a man. I am also a man who does not like wasps and my house always seems to be infested with them. Do you know how hard it is to outrun a wasp? Now picture trying to outrun a wasp while wearing cheap shoes and you’ll see my point. Better yet, with the Merrell hiking shoes I mentioned earlier I might not even need to run. I could simply take off the shoe and swing it as if it were Thor’s hammer and the wasps would be running from me!

1. Versatility of Dad Life

Mark's Work Warehouse Merrell Kahuna Dad

I saved the most important reason for last. Being a parent is a lot of work and we have to wear may different hats, or shoes as it were. Up until recently I owned only two pairs of shoes, one for work and one for everything else. I’ve since realized that a cheap skate shoe provides little to no support when hiking in the woods, hanging out on the beach and many other scenarios we are faced as parents. Shoes might seem like something that you can flake on but once your feet get a taste of a good quality shoe, they will never let you forget it.

I have a challenge for you. Think about how often we use our feet and then look at your shoe collection and decide whether you are taking care of one of your most valuable resources. If you decide that you could use a tune up, head on over to the Mark’s website and check out what they have to offer. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you should snap a photo of your Mark’s kicks and share it on Mark’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page with the #ForAllWalks tag.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, however my bones are indeed feeling old and I am afraid of wasps. Stop giggling.

Barilla Share The Table

How Often Do You Eat Dinner Together As A Family?

Let me tell you about my week. I had to work overnight on Monday, then my daughter had dance rehearsal on Tuesday, followed by my son’s ball hockey on Wednesday, two more dance rehearsals on Thursday and Friday, and finally, a hockey tournament and dance recitals on the weekend. Please understand that this is not a regular week for us but it is at least half representative of our busy lives.

When I think about not only what but how we are going to fit dinner into that schedule I kind of want to curl up into a ball and sob. It is especially important to me that we eat at the dinner table as a family as much as possible. Obviously this week was going to be tough but we still managed to squeeze in two family dinners, which made me happy. As far back as I can remember, my family ate dinner together at our kitchen table and our family was closer because of it. It wasn’t a huge table but it fit us and the food, which is all you really need, right?

The reason I enjoy having dinner together so much is because when you really think about all the activities and distractions life has to offer, this is the one time in the day where everyone can just sit down, relax and talk. For us, we have a framed list of 20 questions that hangs on the wall next to the dinner table and the kids get to pick 3 numbers to answer each night. This exercise is quick and painless and also opens the door to some great dinnertime conversation.

20 Dinner Table Questions

One other thing to note is that we do not allow electronics of any kind at the table. That means no tweeting for daddy, no clash of clans for my son and no Facebook for mommy. A recent study by pasta company, Barilla® Canada, revealed that while 74% of families have dinner together 1-4 times a week, 43% of those families do so with either the TV on or an electronic device at the table.

This all leads me to my question, how often do you eat together as a family and do you do so without electronics?

#ShareTheTable And Win A Trip To Italy With Barilla®!

Barilla® created the Share The Table® initiative to help inspire, empower and support all families to enjoy more meaningful meals. They believe that while mealtime may not be a panacea for building strong children and families, it is still one of the most important things we can do to instill a sense of courage, confidence, and character in our children today, so that they, in turn, can make the world a better place.

That said, Barilla® wants to know what dinner time looks like with your family. Share your family experience by uploading a picture or a written description, and you’ll be entered to win 1 of 3 trips to Italy. You can ENTER HERE!

Barilla Family Dinner Share The Table

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Share The Table campaign but we really do eat dinner together :)