The Tragically Hip

No Dress Rehearsal, This Is Our Life

I spent last night doing the same thing most of Canada was doing, gluing myself to the television to watch Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip play the biggest show of their lives. As with many of my fellow Canadians, The Hip are a staple of our upbringing in this country. They represent every cottage or camping trip we’ve ever been on, they helped us get through break-ups and for those of us who struggled through our English classes, they introduced us to poetry that we would have otherwise never known. In short, they were ours as Canadians and we loved them.

When the band announced that they would tour one last time, the rush for tickets was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The fact that Gord Downie was going to tour after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer was inspiring but I couldn’t have imagined the overwhelming array of emotions I was about to go through. I was fortunate enough to get tickets to the show in Ottawa and can honestly say that I have never heard a louder crowd in my entire life. You could tell by watching Gord in the moments when he wasn’t singing that he was truly humbled by the response from the fans and we were in turn humbled by his passion for his craft. By the way, if you’d like to donate to Gord Downie’s Fund For Brain Cancer Research, as I have already done, you can do so by visiting the Sunnybrook Foundation Page right here!

During their final show in Kingston last night, I told myself that I would be cool in front of the kids while we watched together. As I answered my son’s question about why the concert and the band were so important to me, I uncharacteristically started to choke up and realized that this was not going to be easy to get through. I can’t really explain the emotions I was feeling but I assumed that most others were having the same reaction. I was definitely sad to be losing a Canadian music legend in Gord Downie, but that wasn’t what was hitting me. I think part of it was seeing him up there doing the thing he was most passionate about and giving it everything he had left, knowing it would likely be the last time. It would have been easy to fold up shop when he got the diagnosis but he instead chose to make sure that every ounce of life went lived.

As I watched the tweets and facebook posts stream by, I was overcome with a strong sense of pride in my Canadian heritage and realized that we were taking part in one of the greatest send-offs of all-time. I was proud that Gord decided to unselfishly use his platform to speak for our indigenous community, who have been overlooked for far too long. I laughed as Gord talked about how hard he worked to finally get women to come to the shows, I cried as he let out all of his pain and anger in a stirring rendition of “Grace, Too”, I went through some deep self reflection and I became more inspired than I’ve been in a long time. All this in a span of 3 hours and all thanks to a band. Who knew?

I’d like to say a special thank you to the CBC for setting aside the Olympics and the commercials and the money you could have otherwise made to air this concert for the people and for a band that brought this country together for a night of love and reflection.

And, of course, Thank You to Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip for the music, the years of hard work, for teaching me about perseverance and the importance of nurturing your passion.

Hellmann's Craft 1

Do Your Kids Know Where Their Food Comes From? Plus, A Fun Family Craft!

Disclosure: This blog post was created with Hellmann’s® and JONES Voice

We had the hardest time getting our kids to eat well when they were little. I’m not sure exactly where we went wrong but it seems unfair to put the blame on the kids since they were so little and impressionable. Even up until just recently it feels like all they would want to eat was pizza and cooked spaghetti with butter. Not ideal, to say the least.

A lot of the problem has stemmed from our fast paced lifestyle. With my work hours and the kids’ multiple weekly activities, there hasn’t been a ton of time for meal preparation and we’ve found ourselves eating out a lot more than we’d like. With that has also come a complacency when it comes to the food we buy. We sometimes make the assumption that the food we purchase contains ingredients that we feel good about feeding to our children, without actually checking the ingredients out for ourselves.

After finally swallowing our pride and admitting that we were not, in fact, perfect parents, my wife and I sat down and had a long discussion about ways we could turn our eating habits around. We decided to start by purchasing small vegetable plants that the kids would be responsible for. They have to water them each day and take care of them as they are their own. So far it has been going really well as the kids love being responsible for their own plants. The hope is that once the vegetables start to grow, the kids will eat them with the pride of knowing that they grew them themselves. Time will tell but we are hopeful!

The other great thing about the vegetable plants is that it is getting the kids outside to interact with nature instead of being locked onto a computer or staring at the TV all the time. It’s tough raising kids in the digital age because it’s all new to us and there always seems to be something distracting us from slowing down and enjoying nature, and each other.

After watching the Hellmann’s #RealFoodMovement Facebook live stream, I was happy to learn that I could at least rely on what goes into the mayonnaise we have been serving the kids. Check out this great video from the #RealFoodMovement campaign that features three families visiting a canola farm in Saskatchewan. They not only got to watch what goes into making a perfect jar of mayonnaise, but they also go to eat a super delicious meal.

As part of the program, Hellmann’s challenged me to try a simple craft with the kids. What I loved about the activity is that it taught them about patience and the joys of slowing down and enjoying family time. We created our very own microwavable heating pad out of material and rice. Not being a crafting wizard myself, I was happy that the whole family got involved and I think we did a pretty fantastic job! When I say we, I of course mean that my wife and children really knocked it out of the park with very little help from their butterfingered father…

Hellmann's Craft 3

The best part about our home made pad is that it can be used as a heating pad and also put in the freezer as an ice pack! Anyone who either has children or has aching bones knows how often the heating/freezing pads come in handy and now we don’t have to waste more money on the electric versions! It was easier than I expected it to be to create them and you can make your own microwavable bags in just 3 easy steps:

Step 1 – No pattern necessary, simply cut two pieces of fabric in a square/rectangle of your desired size.
Step 2 – Sew three of the 4 sides together to make a pouch.
Step 3 – Fill pouch with the seed/grain of your choice: canola seed, rice, wheat, barley, oatmeal, beans, flax.
Step 4 – Sew up the open side and enjoy!

Hellmann's Craft 4

Piece of cake!! Best of luck with your activity and don’t forget to check out Hellmann’s on Facebook and @HellmannsCanada on Twitter! You can also check out more about Hellmann’s and “Where does your food come from” by visiting Hellmann’s on Facebook.

Her Last Dance

The Last Dance

Emotions are a funny thing, aren’t they? I have always been pretty stone-faced when it comes to showing any sort of emotion, which has been to my detriment at times. Ever since having kids, however, I have been finding that my emotions are on a constant roller coaster that I have no way of stopping. To demonstrate this fact, I give you my 6 year old daughter’s recent dance recital.

Going into the recital we had already decided that this would be her last year of dance as other hobbies had become more important to our daughter and, of course, there’s the overwhelming cost of youth activities to consider. As strange as it sounds, at 6 years old, my daughter was one of the oldest and most experienced dancers in her class so we had a great opportunity to talk to her about leadership and making sure that she helped the younger girls along. I can still remember how nervous she was the first time she took to the big stage in front of a packed theatre and how great the older kids were with her.

Sitting in the crowd on the big day I felt completely fine. I was definitely excited and nervous for my daughter but otherwise my emotions were status quo. That lasted about as long as it took for my daughter to get in position for the start of her dance. The music began and I sat in stunned silence as I watched her glide across the stage with that focused look we’ve become accustomed to. My eyes twitched with the familiar sting of trying to hold back tears, as a slideshow of her short dance career flashed through my head. We made the right decision in cutting dance from her activities list but knowing that this could be her last big dance made it both more special and harder to watch.

If we’re being technical, the routine itself was a hilarious disaster, as can be expected from a group of 4-6 year olds. That said, I couldn’t have been more proud of my daughter as she led her young group onto the stage and gave it everything she had one last time. We underestimate the bravery it takes to get up there in front of a packed houseMaybe someday she will dance again but until that day comes I will always smile when I remember her last dance.

Subway Sandwish Kids

SUBWAY® Canada Is Making Your Sandwishes Come True! {Giveaway}

Listen, here’s the thing. I am bad at making lunches for myself. I have been this way ever since I was old enough to work and I’m not expecting that to change any time soon. As bad as it sounds, this news doesn’t mean that I am not eating and it also doesn’t mean that I am filling up my body with junk five days a week.

As a matter of fact, with a SUBWAY® restaurant just down the street from me I am not only staying fed but also doing so in a health conscious manner and at an affordable price. My SUBWAY Sandwish of choice is a 6 inch SUBWAY Club on Italian Herb & Cheese bread, topped with lettuce, cucumber, salt, pepper, hot peppers and mayo. Oh baby, just writing that down has me pumped for my next visit, which will actually be in 49 minutes from now!

You may have noticed that I’ve been saying Sandwish instead of sandwich and that’s because SUBWAY has made it their mission to grant Canadians’ Sandwishes by offering a quick and customizable meal from top to bottom for everyone’s individual lifestyle and dietary needs. In case you needed more reasons to stop in to your local SUBWAY today, here are a few more things to consider:

– Adding all the veggie options to your 6-inch sandwich provides two daily servings of vegetables.
– Since 2008, SUBWAY® restaurants has reduced sodium by 30% across lunch & dinner subs.
– Their 9 grain wheat & honey oat bread contain 24 grams of whole grains and five grams of fibre.
– SUBWAY is working to remove all artificial flavours, colours & preservatives from its menu by 2017.
– SUBWAY is proud to offer proteins sourced from Canada as much as possible, including Ham, Turkey & Cold Cut Combo in their restaurants.
– SUBWAY also works with local farmers across Canada to supply seasonal produce during harvest season.

Western Canada can enjoy BC-grown cucumbers from April to October and Ontario will be able to enjoy locally-grown cucumbers, onions, peppers and tomatoes in early fall! Just the fact that they are trying to incorporate home grown ingredients would be enough for me but knowing that my lunch is freshly prepared really puts SUBWAY over the top!

SUBWAY Selfie

Getting our #SUBWAYSandwish on!

$100 Subway Gift Card Giveaway!

Throughout the coming months I will be working with SUBWAY to help make your Sandwishes come true and this is the first such opportunity! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below letting us know what your #SUBWAYSandwish is and we will be making those wishes come true! Oh, don’t forget to check out this hilarious video SUBWAY created when they placed a Zoltar machine out in the street to grant Sandwishes for passers-by! Giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Energizer Camping

Camping In The Comfort Of Your Own Home? {Plus A $500 Gift Card Giveaway!}

As we excitedly planned our camping trip for this upcoming weekend, I decided to set up our tent in the living room to make sure all the pieces were there. I walked away for maybe 2 minutes and when I returned I was shocked to see that the kids had already filled the tent with their blankets, pillows, books and stuffed animals, and had settled in for the night.

Not one to stifle their creativity, we decided it would be fun, and very inexpensive, to host a camp-in! The timing was great as well because we had been planning a backyard camp-out to celebrate Energizer Canada’s #EnergizeYourSummer campaign but the weather has been less than favourable here the last couple weeks, so we had been putting it off.

We read stories, made shadow animals, sang songs and laughed until the kids looked ready to pass out. In true sibling fashion not everything was sunshine and roses, but once my daughter got her vision back after having a spotlight pointed in her eyes, the kids were all love and snuggles once again! Seriously, though, check out how deliberate the boy was about pointing it directly in her eyes… Yikes!

Energizer Camping 2

You may be noticing that I was not in the tent with the kids. The simple, hard truth is that the kids decided that adults were not allowed in their fortress of solitude, so I was forced to sleep in my comfortable queen size bed instead. Bummer. We listened to the kids giggle and play together for about half an hour before they finally fell asleep but I could have listened to them having fun together for a lifetime before making them sleep.

On the kids request we decided to leave the tent up for a few more days so they could have more camp-ins together. I mentioned Energizer® before and that’s because I couldn’t believe how much we relied on batteries to power our camping adventure and to keep us safe while out in the dark. They also make a wide range of great lighting products for the outdoors, such as flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns that we will be using on our upcoming trip!

Giveaway!

Here is your chance to win a $500 Walmart gift card so you can stock up on your favourite Energizer® products before your next camping trip! To get you started, I thought I’d share some of our favourite camping products from Energizer®!

Energizer® Vision HD Headlight

Energizer Vision HD Headlight

 
 

This has three headlamp light modes: White spot light, white flood light & spot and flood together, along with dimmable to control brightness and run-time (only with all LEDs on).

It is also up to 4X brighter than standard LED technology, pivots to direct light where you need it and includes 3 AAA Energizer MAX® batteries. If you’ve ever had to use the washroom in the dark, you’ll be glad you had the Energizer Vision HD Headlight!

 
 
 
 

Energizer® Ultimate Lithium Batteries

Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries

 
 
 

Energizer® innovation strikes again! New enhancements make Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries THE best and longest-lasting disposable AA batteries.

The provide superior performance in extreme temperatures from -40F to 140F degrees which is great for use in all seasons. They also hold power in storage for up to 20 years, are lighter weight than alkaline batteries and are leak proof!

 
 
 
 

There are so many more great Energizer products that are perfect for camping, including Energizer MAX® Batteries, and you can check them all out by visiting Energizer.ca!

Alright, on to the giveaway! I am giving away a $500 Walmart gift card and all you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the Rafflecopter entry options below and I’ll contact the winner when I have the name in hand. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec. Happy camping!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the #EnergizeYourSummer campaign.

Dance With Dad

The Changing Face of Masculinity

For the longest time I associated masculinity solely to World’s Strongest Man competitors like Mariusz Pudzianowski and Magnus Ver Magnusson, and I don’t think I was alone in that belief. Times have changed quite a bit in the last few years, for the better, in my opinion and I think it’s great that my children will have a new example of what masculinity means as they grow up.

I’m always cautious with statements like the one above because I don’t want to take away from the excellent male influence a lot of us, especially myself, had growing up. My point is that society as a whole is more accepting of a version of masculinity that doesn’t solely revolve around fixing cars and chopping down trees and I love it. A 2014 study commissioned by Dove Men+Care showed that 9 out of 10 men globally believe masculinity has evolved since their father’s generation, and that showing care is a sign of a man’s real strength.

That’s a hard stat to argue with no matter how you look at it. I can’t imagine a world where I would have to feel self-conscious about consoling my son with a hug after a loss in the big game or dancing down the street with my daughter. Those are actually the moments where I feel the most like a man, as opposed to when I’m cutting the lawn or paying bills.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the new superhero movies as much as the next guy but I think there is room for all kinds of heroes in the world, not just the ones with super physical strength. My main goal is to achieve hero status in my children’s eyes by showing them that you can be both tough and caring at the same time without worrying about what others think of you. Only time will tell but if the results to this point are any indication, I’m hoping to earn my cape by the time they are out of high school.

Just in time for Father’s Day and with 94% of men saying it is important to be a caring father, Dove Men+Care is paying tribute to the moments in real Dads lives that demonstrate how their care, rather than traditional physical traits, truly defines them as a hero. Dove Men+Care has created this amazing ‘My Dad, My Hero’ video that features real dads’ lives and shows what real strength is all about when it comes to being a father. Please enjoy the video and then keep reading below for an exciting giveaway!

Giveaway!

How great was that video? I thought it would be fun with Father’s Day on the horizon to giveaway a special package from Dove Men+Care. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and let me know what your favourite moments with your kids are. Good Luck!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the ‘My Dad, My Hero’ campaign but I am truly thrilled at the way the public’s views on masculinity have changed.

Schick Hydro 5

Schick Yourself & Feel Great About It!

The truth is that I’ve been tired lately. Working multiple jobs while trying to coach and be there for the kids as they take part in multiple activities. It’s our own fault for letting them try all the sports they wanted to all at once instead of making them choose one or two. My fault or not, it’s still tiring and with that comes sacrifices, some in the form of personal hygiene.

Before you avoid me like the plague, I still bathe, wash my clothes and brush my teeth, most of the time… My beard game, however, has been bordering on Jabba the Slob for the last couple months and I finally decided to take charge! I kept telling myself that I was a trendsetter and that disheveled dad was the new baby face. I wore the uneven patches of gray throughout my facial hair like a badge of honour after winning another battle over whose turn it is to shower next. The hair in my armpits bec…nah, I’m kidding, who cares about that!?

Of course, all of this is ridiculous and really comes down to simply being too lazy to shave. I considered it excellent timing from the folks at Schick that made me realize just how lazy I had become. They asked me to take the new Schick Hydro® 5 razor for a test drive and even invited 50 of you to try it out as well. More on that later, though! The new Schick Hydro® 5 system has an upgraded Hydrating Gel Reservoir which hydrates throughout each shave, a larger Guard Bar for increased skin stretch, and reduced Blade Span to minimize skin bulge which all help to get a smooth shave – all the while with the signature Flip Trimmer for hard-to-reach places. How could I say no??

So, I shaved, and suddenly being clean shaven after months of slobbery felt pretty darn good. Everyone in the house was excited for the change, especially my children who said they were tired of my beard scratching their faces. Who knew that taking some time to clean yourself up could feel so good? Well, I guess a lot of people who do it regularly knew that, but still! Of note, the Schick Hydro® 5 razor did an amazing job! Even with the thick weeds I had growing on my face it never jammed up once, which has been a problem with different razors for me in the past.

How To Get Your Hands On The New Schick Hydro® 5 Disposable Razor

As I mentioned earlier, I am not only giving away the new Schick Hydro® 5 razors for 50 people to review on Amazon.ca, but also an opportunity for one of those 50 people to win a $100 prepaid gift card! Here’s what I need from you to make that happen.

1. This is open to anyone living in Canada, excluding Quebec.
2. To leave a product review, you must have an Amazon.ca account and have purchased an item in the last 6 months.
3. Send an email to me at winwithschick@canadiandad.com with your Name, Email, Home Address and Phone Number. I will send the 1st fifty people the new Schick Hydro® 5 disposable razor along with instructions on the how to enter the $100 draw.

That’s it! Make sure to get your name in by June 23rd so you don’t miss out!!

*Disclaimer: This program is only open to age of majority residents of Canada (excluding Quebec). To participate, you must have purchased an item on Amazon.ca within the last six months; otherwise, you will be unable to leave a review. All participants will receive a Schick Hydro® 5 disposable razor as featured in this post.” Full Rules Here.

Gordie Howe

My Moment With Gordie

They called him Mr. Hockey and for good reason. The only professional hockey player to play the sport in six different decades and one of the greatest ambassadors you could ever ask for, Gordie Howe was and still is hockey. As news of his passing spread across the hockey world today, I was reminded of a particularly fortunate experience I was able to share with him.

In the early 90’s my father signed me up for the Stars Hockey Camp in Guelph. It was 2 weeks away from home where I would stay in a dormitory with complete strangers and while I was completely terrified about it, I also really wanted to go. Luckily for me, my father signed up for the adult hockey camp and was around for the entire 2nd week, which was a very welcome sight.

One of the main draws of this particular Stars Hockey Camp was that we had the chance to learn the game from some current and past NHLers. My group had players like John Tonelli, Chris Chelios and of course, Gordie Howe. This wasn’t just them coming out for 5 minutes, signing autographs and leaving, either. They were very serious about this and stuck around the whole time to teach us as much as they could.

After one of our sessions I was able to stick around to watch my dad’s group take to the ice with Gordie Howe. While Mr. Howe was trying to talk to the guys at center ice, one of the goalies had skated a few strides out of his crease and began to heckle Gordie, going on about how he’d never put a puck pass him. Calmly, Gordie took a step back from the group and nonchalantly flipped a puck from center ice over the goalie’s head and into the net. The group on the ice cheered wildly as the goalie hung his head in shame and returned to his coach. Gordie added a “You happy now?” before returning to his group and it something I will never forget.

Had that been the end of my camp experience I would have gone home a very happy kid, but there was still one more surprise waiting for me. While eating lunch in the cafeteria with my dad the next day, a man approached our table and asked if he could join us. I can really begin describe the looks on our faces as we looked up to see Gordie Howe standing there but I’m guessing he had a small chuckle inside to see it. Just imagine one of your idols asking if they can sit and eat with YOU instead on the other way around and then capture that face.

My dad and I were the envy of the entire camp that day as we sat and ate lunch with Mr. Hockey. The thing that struck me as most amazing about Gordie Howe was that he could have stayed in the back and had lunch with the other stars but he chose to come out and have lunch with the campers. At lunch that day he answered all of our questions, told us stories, asked about our lives and signed autographs for anyone who approached him at our table, and he never once made us feel like he didn’t want to be there.

I count myself lucky to have had this experience and am not sure I truly appreciated it until years later when I learned more about how truly great Gordie Howe was, not only as a hockey player but also as a human being. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten.

Bees Matter Honey Bee

Why Bees Matter More Than You Think

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that up until a few weeks ago, my knowledge of the honey bee was limited to two things. The first was that I was secretly afraid of them and the second was the Honey Nut Cheerios mascot… What? I said I was embarrassed by it!

The funny thing is that I can’t even figure out where my fear of bees came from. I don’t remember having a particular traumatic experience with them as a child, yet every time I see a bee, I walk the other way. Sadly, it seems my son has caught on to this trend and is now terrified of anything bee related.

I saw a recent opportunity to partner with the folks at Bees Matter as a great chance to educate myself and my children on why we should learn to embrace bees as opposed to be being afraid of them. I only got as far as the first line on the Bees Matter website that reads, “One out of every three bites of food that we eat is made possible by pollinators like honey bees”, before I realized how wrong I had been about the importance of honey bees.

In reading more about the life of the honey bee I noticed that one of the biggest challenges they face is finding enough pollen to feed their communities. The Bees Matter ‘Buzzing Gardens’ program allows you to order a free seed kit to start a Buzzing Garden of your own. My 6 year old daughter, who has one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known, pronounced “Daddy, don’t be afraid of bees. We have to make a garden so we can save all the bees!! Pleeeeeeaaase!!!!”. While I didn’t have the heart to tell her the honey bees would be just fine, I also couldn’t say no to her pouty face and our seed kit is now on the way!

Bees Matter Fairy Garden

I’ll be sharing our Buzzing Gardens journey with you all as we plant the seeds and wait for the bees to arrive but in the meantime, I highly encourage you to head over to the Bees Matter website and order your own free seed kit. If my children’s excitement is any indication, you could have a really fun summer project on your hands!

Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by Bees Matter and compensation was received. I am entirely responsible for the contents of and the views and opinions expressed in my blogs and posts and not the sponsor mentioned above.

Altitude Sports Puddle

These Boots Are Made For… Everything, Apparently!

Kids are funny creatures. They are completely opposite from us grown-ups in that they don’t seem to care about things such as fashion, common sense or practicality. Okay, they are unlike ‘most’ of us grown-ups…

My son recently received new Bogs rubber boots from Altitude Sports and I was very excited about it. There’s something special about watching a child splash through puddles in rubber boots. It helps remind us of the freedom we once enjoyed as children to do whatever we pleased. The smiles on their faces as they thrash their way through the rain are enough to tell a thousands stories.

As it turns out, what I saw as a simple and practical pair of puddle jumpers meant something completely different to my son. Sure, he still loves splashing in puddles with them but much like a new pair of running shoes, his new boots came everywhere with us! Without further ado, here is my list, in no particular order, of the strangest things my son used his new rubber boots for.

Baseball Practice

Altitude Sports Baseball

*Jose Bautista also plays in rubber boots! (*Not true)

Street Hockey

Altitude Sports Hockey

Everyone knows rubber boots are best for running…

Jumping on the Bed

Altitude Sports Bed Jump

Are my kids living the dream, or what?

Soccer

Altitude Sports Soccer

Actually the rubber boots are good for unleashing crazy kicks in this case.

As you can see, my children are just as weird as yours and I couldn’t be happier about it. Having structure is cool but sometimes you just need to throw on a pair of rubber boots and jump on a bed, am I right? Please tell me your kids do this kind of stuff too…

I should also mention that Altitude Sports is a 100% Canadian company and my transactions with them have all been amazing. Their discount website, The Last Hunt, has some incredible deals from brands like Salomon and The North Face and you should definitely check it out if you don’t mind wearing the previous season’s gear.

Don’t forget to visit Altitude Sports at their Facebook and Twitter pages to say hello and to let them know that you support a solid Canadian company!