Ontario Electronic Stewardship

What’s Hiding Under Your Bed?

Hey, you, what’s hiding under your bed? It’s not something that you get asked every day, is it? I can’t imagine how I would react if someone actually said it to me, although I’m sure I’d laugh it off awkwardly before rushing home to take a peek at what treasures lie underneath my double mattresses.

I decided to lift up the curtain and would have never guessed what I actually found under there. First, there is the lovely, if not completely beat up, Acer laptop picture above. That beauty gave up 5 solid years of internetting and I guess it chose to hide under the bed as its final resting place. Here is a short list of some of the other items I found under the bed.

- 3001 socks
– 1 Smartie
– 4 Pokemon cards (No EX’s)
– 1 used concert ticket (Foo Fighters)
– 6 miscellaneous things I didn’t recognize (See: wife)
– 1 random remote control (Device not found)
– 0 children (Phew!)
– $3.15 in change (WooHoo!)

As you can see, the haul was very random and in some cases very profitable. In the case of the Acer laptop and the random remote control, I knew exactly what to do. A couple weeks ago I talked about all of the old electronics I had found lying around my house, as part of a campaign with the Ontario Electronic Stewardship.

The goal of their #WhereAreYoursHiding campaign is to encourage everyone to go on a scavenger hunt in their houses and to dig up all the old, unused electronic devices they can find. Once you’ve collected everything, you can visit RecycleYourElectronics.ca and find out where your closest drop off point is.

Recycling your old electronics has many benefits. Not only do they contain valuable materials such as gold, copper and other rare metals, but by recycling them you ensure that fewer TV’s, computers, phones and other devices end up in our landfills. Plus, the electronics that are still deemed useful can go to families who can’t afford the newest technology.

If that hasn’t convinced you, I don’t know what will. That said, I have a challenge for you! Rummage through your house or have some fun and create a scavenger hunt list for you and the kids, and find as many old electronics as you can. Then head to RecycleYourElectronics.ca and drop them off at your nearest Drop-Off location. It’s as easy as that! I leave you with the new campaign video from the Ontario Electronic Stewardship.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the #WhereAreYoursHiding campaign. The message is important and you should all get off your butts and into action!

Learn How To Read

How I’m Helping My Children Learn To Read

Just when you think this parenting is getting a little easier, you hit another road block. That was the case for us recently as we embarked on the wonderful journey that is teaching our kids how to read. My first mistake was assuming that reading to the kids every night before bed was enough to make it happen. I was incorrect.

Now that I am all grown up, I tend to take a lot of things for granted. I seem to forget that there was once a time where I didn’t know how to tie my shoe, or play hockey, or read a book, and that those things didn’t just happen miraculously overnight. When my son recently struggled with his reading progression, I blamed myself for not pushing him hard enough. The reality of it, however, was that it wasn’t the level of effort that was holding him back, but it was a combination of a few different things.

First, all children learn differently and at different paces. That is probably the hardest thing to grasp as a parent because there is a secret voice inside all of us that pits us against other parents. Just admit it, it’s okay. Second, the method I was using was not effective. I was getting him to try to read his easy reader bedtime books to me, not realizing that he was exhausted from a long day and had little to no interest in trying to get the words right.

I decided to take to the trusty internet to look for some resources to help us with our reading adventure and came across a site called Reading Eggs. It offered online lessons for reading and math that were full of interactive animations, fun games, great songs and lots of rewards, so we signed up for the free trial and got to work. We usually give our son a little bit of screen time for video games but once he started working on the Reading Eggs activities, he began choosing that over his video game time, which, PS, is totally amazing!

Once our trial was done, we noticed a big improvement in both our children’s abilities and decided to sign them both up for the 6 month subscription package, which we are about half way through. Because the kids love it so much, this was one of the few times I have reached out to a company to see if they wanted to partner together to offer something for my readers and they love they idea!

How about you? What has been your biggest struggle or success with helping teach your children to read?

Extended Free Trial Of Reading Eggs!

4 Week Trial - Reading Eggs

From now until Nov 30th, if you Visit This Link, you will be able to sign up for an extended 4 week free trial to Reading Eggs! If you do sign up, make sure to let me know how you like it. You can also follow the folks at Reading Eggs on Facebook and Twitter.

Dad Kids Goofy

Fatherhood

“Daddy, can I have ice cream?”, my 4 year old daughter asked, at ten in the morning while in the checkout line at Costco.
“Hmmmm, I guess so”, I replied. She was home from school because of a fever the previous day, so I figured we could both use the treat.
“HOORAY! You’re the best daddy ever!!”, she shouted as she hugged me in the middle of the store.

While I’m not sure that most people would award me the “Best Daddy Ever” trophy after feeding my child an ice cream cone at ten in the morning, it certainly made me feel special. Plus, no one else knew why she screamed that, so I just pretended that I bought her a pony or something. The point here is that as each day goes by, I get a greater sense of how lucky I am to call myself a father to these two amazing kids.

There are so many times in the day that I catch myself awestruck with their many quirks and qualities. Even the smallest things can strike me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Hearing my daughter sing along to a song when she thinks no one else is around, knowing that if she saw me she would surely stop. Watching my son bond with his new hockey teammates in a setting that would make most adults cringe with fear.

Life can be friggin’ hard, man. You have to worry about money, time, health and everything else that being an adult and parent brings. Being a father is the thing that saves me from my own mind and lets me focus on the fact that there are two little people that need me to be a man for them so they can grow into their full potential. How can you think about financial struggles when your daughter wants to shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off? Who has time to beat themselves up over skipping a workout when you and your son are engaged in an epic Pokemon battle?! Not me.

Any time I lose focus on what’s important in life, my kids are always there to remind me with open arms, and for that I feel extremely lucky.

Canadian Dad Podcast - Chris Routly

Canadian Dad Podcast – Ep. 6 – Children’s Author & Writer, Chris Routly

This week on the show, I spoke to stay at home dad, blogger at DaddyDoctrines.com and the author of the new children’s book,Sometimes You Need a Jellyfish“, Chris Routly!

We discussed his journey from a career in graphic design to life as a stay at home dad, blogger and author. Chris also talks about his work with the National At-Home Dad Network and the new Portland Dads Group that he is co-running. 

Chris is a great dad and great writer, PLUS he knows the exact date that Marty McFly goes into the future and we talk a bit about how the internet is always getting the date wrong!

Finally, I am happy to introduce the first ever sponsor for the podcast! If you would like to take advantage of a one month free trial at Reading Eggs, you can go to ReadingEggs.com/CDAD and sign up! I have been using this service for about a year and my kids love it. 

Sid Science Kid Centrepointe Ottawa

Win 4 Tickets To See Sid The Science Kid LIVE At The Centrepointe Theatre

I’m just going to say it. Watching children’s television can get boring for parents at times. It always feels like the same episode is on repeat for days even if the kids don’t notice. It wasn’t until we starting getting out to some of the TV shows Live performances that I developed an appreciation for what the kids were seeing in them.

It will be no different when Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid LIVE! show comes to Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa on Nov 15th! My kids have been watching Sid for a long time now and I love how it mixes education and music together. Here is a brief overview of the show, followed by a great giveaway from Centrepointe Theatre!

Sid the Science Kid comes to life in this incredible live stage experience! Kids and parents alike will be thrilled as Sid, May, Gabriela and Gerald come to town to discover the excitement and curiosities of the world around them. With wonders to discover, Sid and his friends set off on a day of excitement and adventure, as they explore their five senses through fun games and experiments and by asking curious questions and finding fascinating answers. Teacher Susie is also along to keep the music flowing as the kids explore the world around them with audience interactive activities, cooperative problem solving and plenty of laughs to go around. There is even a surprise sixth sense revealed by Teacher Susie.

Win Tickets To The Show!

If you would like to win 4 tickets to see the Sid the Science Kid LIVE show, leave a comment below and let me know what your child’s favourite TV show is. I’ll pick a winner on October 29th. Good Luck!

Chris Blissdom Canada Ward Al

Almost Famous

Almost Famous. This is what I think of when I look back at my Blissdom Canada experience, and really, my blogging journey as a whole. And it’s not that I am chasing fame in any way or think that I am, in fact, famous, but more that I feel like William Miller, the main character in the movie of the same title. In the movie, Miller spends his time chasing his dream of being a music reporter but always seems to be two steps behind.

When I started blogging, I really had no writing skills to speak of. I had never written anything, anywhere, but thought the prospect of it was interesting. I had no hobbies, unless being depressed about my father’s death and playing video games until three o’clock in the morning counts as a hobby. Blogging has been my escape from all of the anxiety I had built up inside my brain.

In the two and a half years that I have been doing this, I have had my share of ups and downs. I have done things I am proud of and some other things that I am not so proud of, but have continued to grow as a writer, father and human every day. Lately, however, I have been feeling like I am chasing my own tail. It feels like great things are happening but I’m struggling to figure out what they all mean and why it hasn’t translated into something bigger. I share this with you because after talking to a bunch of the attendees at Blissdom Canada, I know that I am not alone in this struggle.

The question is, what do we do about this? When you have that feeling that your big break is just around the corner, even if you don’t know what it is, what do you do to reach for it? For me, the answer became a little clearer after Blissdom Canada. In speaking to people like Ward and Al, Drew Dudley, Derreck Kayongo and Neil Hedley, I realized that in order to achieve the type of success I want, I need to put my head down and continue to explore and create the things that I find most interesting. Who knew that the answer would be that passion and hard work pay off?

Things don’t just happen because you’ve written a few blog posts or recorded a podcast or two. They happen when you make the decision to take chances, dedicate yourself to your craft and put in the hours in order to make it a success. If you had asked me a couple weeks ago, I would have told you that I was slightly disappointed with the direction I was headed, but now I realize that I need to spend more time celebrating and building on all the small victories. Get out there and create, people, and good things will happen!

Canadian Dad Podcast - Mike Reynolds

Canadian Dad Podcast – Ep. 5 – Children’s Author, Mike Reynolds

This week I spoke to father, children’s book author, podcaster and writer, Mike Reynolds from PuzzlingPosts.com. We discuss Mike’s weekend at Beau’s Oktoberfest and I give plenty of love to the organizers of the Blissdom Canada conference, where I was a panellist during a podcasting session this past weekend.

Mike talks about his children’s books, “Daddy, Fly” and “The One Green Dinosaur”, that he co-wrote with his young daughter. He also talks about other ways to be creative with your kids and how great their little minds truly can be.

Don’t forget to say hi to Mike on Twitter,@PuzzlingPostDad

Enjoy the Show!

1st Day of School

School Life is Much Easier When You Have Great Teachers

My daughter started in school for the first time this year and my wife and I weren’t sure how she was going to do with the transition from home life to full day Kindergarten. The playground is a busy place with a lot of kids and it can be an intimidating sight for a newcomer. We were pleasantly surprised when on her first day, she strode into the playground, head high and confident, and never looked back.

The sigh of relief was short lived, however, as the next day’s drop off didn’t go exactly according to plan. The day after that was no better as I was forced to walk away while my daughter clenched the fence, crying and screaming, “No, Daddy! Don’t go!!!” It took every ounce of strength I had to not turn around and go back to her but I managed to make it out of the schoolyard. Unfortunately, against all conventional wisdom, I decided to hide behind a plant to make sure she was alright before I left. In my tunnel visioned state, I didn’t notice that I had been spotted by one of my daughter’s teachers, who calmly smiled at me and assured me that she was in good hands.

Later that day, we got an email from her main teacher, letting us know that she was doing really well and that she was smiling and playing with all her new friends. These are just two examples of the amazing teachers we have had the pleasure of dealing with since our children have been in school and we feel very lucky to have them. Something as simple as an email or a letter home to relay how things are going goes a long way towards putting us at ease as parents.

On top of having great teachers, my wife and I like to stay up to date on what’s going on in the world of education by hanging out on the Ontario College of Teachers website. I realize that this may not sound like your idea of a rockin’ good time but their newsletter, The Standard, is an amazing resource that talks about everything from special programs to trends in education.

The College’s website itself is a great resource as well that has things such as a Find a Teacher, the College’s Public Register, that allows you to search for your child’s teacher to see their schooling and previous experience, including certification as all teachers must be certified to teach in Ontario’s publicly funded primary and secondary schools. The website also has a Public Awareness Initiative to raise awareness of the free resources the College provides to parents.

At minimum, I would recommend subscribing to College’s ‘The Standard’ newsletter and then taking it from there. I have always believed in “The More You Know” philosophy and there is a ton of very practical information on the Ontario College of Teachers website. You can also catch up with them on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Stay knowledgeable, my friends!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

Quaker Chewy for Charity

I Cannot Be Trusted Around Children’s Snacks

“Did you seriously eat all of the granola bars?”, my wife asked the question even though she already knew the answer.
“Pffwhuuht?”, I replied, mouth full of granola.

This is a regular conversation in our house and while I know that I am not supposed to eat the kid’s school snacks, I just can’t help myself. One turns into three and the next thing I know the whole package is gone. I mean, sure, my new #DadFit routine has helped me curb my appetite a bit but I still get that itch from time to time and when it happens, you can kiss the snacks goodbye!

Just when I thought I was starting to shake this habit, I found out about the Quaker “Chewy for Charity” initiative and got sucked right back in! Quaker is asking families across Canada to get creative for charity. Parents and children can get involved by creating a Canadian-inspired artwork, take a picture and turn it into a unique and personal lunch bag design at ChewyForCharity.ca.

For every lunch bag design submitted and approved, Quaker Canada will donate the equivalent of 10 pounds of food to Food Banks Canada. Food Banks Canada reports that 36 per cent of the estimated 1.7 million Canadians who turned to food banks in 2013 were children and youth.

Quaker Chewy for Charity Art Party Kit Giveaway!

While my kids and I create our submissions for charity, here is a fun giveaway for some great art supplies from Quaker Chewy! The winner will receive: Chewy Product – 2x Chocolate Chip, 2x Yogurt, Markers, Paints and brushes, Pipe Cleaners, Pencil crayons, Glue, 5 Canvases, Popsicle Sticks, Basket for storage. There is also a picture of the kit below. Good Luck and don’t forget to send in a drawing to help Food Banks Canada!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Quaker Chewy for Charity Art Kit

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this campaign.

Ontario Electronic Stewardship

No, YOU Are Hoarding Electronics!

We live in an interesting time right now. I can remember growing up in a house that a TV in the living room and that was it. Our phone hung from the wall with a long spindly cord attached to it and that was about the extent of the electronics in our possession.

Currently in my home I have 4 laptops, 5 TV’s, 3 iPhones, 2 VCR’s, 3 printers and a slew of other misfit electronics. Most of these items have been replaced but we’ve kept them lying around as if we are hosting a museum or hoping they will turn into a Transformer… I noticed the electronic heap while I was in my storage room, digging out the Christmas Halloween decorations, and decided to finally rid myself of the mess.

In the past I would have just thrown them all in the garbage but if blogging has taught me anything, it’s that someone has always come up with a creative way to deal with things. Sure enough, I found the Ontario Electronic Stewardship, who have developed a way for you to recycle your old electronics so that materials such as gold, copper and other rare metals can be reused and kept out of a landfill.

The cool part is that you can punch in your postal code on their Recycle Your Electronics page and it’ll give you a list of the registered drop off locations. Places like Best Buy, Staples and Future Shop are on board and have bins right inside their front doors to make the drop offs very easy.

I’m also going to use this as an opportunity to teach my kids more about recycling by having them search the house for more electronics and bringing them to the drop off with me to explain what it is that will happen to all our old devices. I think they’ll appreciate knowing that some of this stuff will be going to help families and kids who otherwise wouldn’t afford it. I’ll just have to explain why daddy is keeping the old looking original NES system.

Because I am curious, I’ll leave you with this question. How many unused electronics do you have hanging around in your house right now?

Here is a fun video from the Ontario Electronic Stewardship!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the #WhatsInYours campaign. The message is important and it actually got me off my butt and into action!