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.

Baseball Diamond

Baseball Season Is Upon Us

I’m struggling to express the joy I felt when our son let us know that he wanted to give baseball a shot this year. Having played ball for my entire youth and well into adulthood, I was excited to have the opportunity to help him on his way to baseball mediocrity as my father had done for me.

We are two weeks into the season and things seem to be going according to plan. The kids love kicking their feet around in the dirt, creating mini dust tornadoes and making it impossible for anyone to see what they are doing, as we did in our youth. Wrangling twelve 7 & 8-year-old boys and getting them all to pay attention at the same time is always a fun challenge but you learn to appreciate all of their individual quirks and mannerisms. That said, one of the many perks of volunteering to be on the coaching staff is that you can always keep your own child inline and paying attention!

True to the chaos that is parenting, right before the season started we realized that our son had no proper baseball equipment. Flashing back to my youth I can remember the excitement of my dad bringing me to Canadian Tire because I always new I was about to get some new gear. The only downside to shopping when I was a kid was that we were at the mercy of the stock on the store shelves. We live in a slightly different time now so I was excited to present my son with the new Canadian Tire WOW Guide so he could pick out the items he wanted and then I had them ordered right to our store.

Canadian Tire Baseball

Tell me this kid doesn’t look like a seasoned baseball player now! Through the Canadian Tire WOW Guide, we were able to score him a new Troy Tulowitzki glove, a Raptor baseball bat, a new Rawlings baseball, new cleats and an amazing Easton bag to carry it all in. I loved watching his face as he flipped through the WOW Guide and excitedly circled all the things he wanted. I obviously had to shave the list down as he circled about 6 pages worth of sports gear but it reminded me about the fun of going through catalogues when I was a kid.

I highly recommend that you grab the WOW Guide from your local Canadian Tire store or check it out at Canadian Tire’s website. The guide covers everything from lawn and garden and home décor to power tools and tires, plus you can use the Canadian Tire app to hover over the products you love in the WOW Guide to unlock dynamic digital extras like videos, how-to’s and DIYs. Well, what are you waiting for?!

Canadian Tire WOW Guide

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, however I used that money to buy more baseball gear from Canadian Tire because I have no self control.

20160502_233019

A Star In The Making

“It goes by so fast”. Ask any parent something they wish they’d known before having kids and that quote will be in there every single time. It sounds cliché but it’s so very true. One minute you’re teaching them to skate and the next they are skating circles around you. My daughter is no exception to this rule. To put it bluntly, she’s amazing. Every new task she takes on she does it to the fullest of her ability. Can’t do a cartwheel at gymnastics? She’ll do 500 cartwheels in one week until she masters it. In the last two weeks her coaches in gymnastics, dance and figure skating have all come to us to say that our daughter should be in their competitive programs.

While my first reaction to this news was an indescribable sense of pride, the next was one of worry because even forgetting the costs of these programs, there is not enough time in the week for her to possibly compete in multiple competitive sports. I also struggle with the fact that at 6 years old, how much do we really want to put on her plate? When asked what she wanted to do our daughter didn’t hesitate as she made figure skating her top choice. Coming from a life of team sports, this is a whole new adventure for me. Private coaches, booking ice time and not being able to volunteer are all things I will have to get used to but I can’t wait to watch my little girl grow into a beautiful skater and I can guarantee tears the first time I see her doing a routine.

We had the chance to take our daughter to see the Investors Group Stars On Ice show this weekend so she could see what the payoff could be for all the hard work she’s about to put in. While we couldn’t get too many pictures due to the dark lighting during the show, I can assure you that she was dazzled by the skaters and especially the jumps! She may not know who Elvis Stojko, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir or Joannie Rochette are but they definitely captured her attention and made her want to skate even more.

For my wife, who was also a figure skater as a child, having the opportunity to see Kurt Browning skate live for the first time was a dream come true. She posted a short video of Kurt’s performance on Facebook mentioning how exciting it was to watch him skate, and then got a message from a friend who was currently sitting next to Kurt on a plane heading out of Ottawa. The friend said that Kurt had just watched her whole video because it was a new routine and he’d never seen himself doing it yet. Then he shared this picture…

Kurt Browning

Kurt Browning giving my wife a thumbs up!

Needless to say, my wife hasn’t been this excited since the time Jann Arden called her on her birthday. It was a perfect way to cap off an amazing Stars On Ice show! After seeing the smiles on my two favourite ladies faces after the show it is impossible for me to not recommend that you check it out with your family. It is especially great if you have young figure skaters in your house. For more information on upcoming shows and tickets you can check out the Stars On Ice website. Oh, and Kurt, if you ever want to talk fatherhood, I’d be happy to conduct that interview (insert winky face here). I promise not to let my wife hijack the call…

About Investors Group Stars On Ice

Founded in 1986 by skating icon and Olympic Gold Medallist Scott Hamilton, the Stars on Ice Tour originated in the United States. In 1991, Stars on Ice began to tour Canada and has now played nearly 300 shows in the past 25 years. Past tour performers include Kurt Browning, Jamie Salé & David Pelletier, Kristi Yamaguchi and Elvis Stojko. Investors Group Stars on Ice presented by Lindt is produced by IMG, the global leader in sports, fashion and media. For more information about the tour, visit www.starsonice.ca. Keep in touch with Investors Group Stars on Ice presented by Lindt on Facebook: www.facebook.com/starsonice Instagram: www.instagram.com/starsonice, and on Twitter: twitter.com/starsonice.

Disclosure: My family was provided tickets to this event.

Father Son Hockey

You’re Already A Good Dad

Life can get pretty repetitive, can’t it? Work, school, ballet, hockey, sleep, repeat. Entire weeks can go by without anything significant happening and I’ve made my peace with that as we can’t be all spontaneity all the time. Every now and then, however, something sneaks up on you and kicks you right upside the head. Such was the case this Monday as I drove my 7 year old son to power skating, as we have done every Monday for the past 3 months.

If you had told me that I was going to get misty eyed while driving to power skating on this day I would have probably laughed, given you an “okay, then” and rushed out the door with my son, you know, because we are literally always late somehow. My son has been more and more interested in hearing about my father lately and never seems to run out of questions about him. I have written about my father before for those who are new here but he passed away a few years ago on the same day that we found out we were pregnant with my son.

While he usually wants to know about my father as a coach and other sports related stories, on this day he shifted his focus to me and was curious about how I dealt with his passing. I know, heavy for a 7 year old, right? That was my initial thought as well but I always jump at the chance to both talk about my dad and bond with my son, so I happily answered his questions.

He asked if I was sad when my father died and how it all happened, which were easy answers. Then he asked me if I missed him and I froze a bit, not sure how much to get into it. I told him that I missed my dad everyday and explained that I was sad that he never got to meet my son and his sister, but mostly I missed him because I didn’t get to have him around to teach me how to do technical things like change a tire, or help me with coaching or help me learn to be a good dad. This conversation alone could have been enough to cause my emotions to go haywire but I held it together, until my son hit me with…

“But, you’re already a good dad.”

I’m guessing he didn’t realize how powerful it was to hear those words after the conversation we had just finished. I thanked him as I discreetly wiped a happy tear from eye and saw him light up knowing that he had made his dad smile. We sat in comfortable silence the rest of the way to hockey, both proud of our achievements for the day.

Tampa Bay Rays Kids

I Wonder If They Know

I see a lot of great clips in the media that show professional athletes or celebrities interacting with children and putting a huge smile on the children’s faces in the process. I often wonder if the athlete or celebrity truly understands the lasting effect it can have on a child when they take the time to make them feel good about themselves.

This past weekend while I was away at the Dad 2.0 Summit in Washington, DC, my family visited with my in-laws in Florida. While they were there my father-in-law took my son down to watch the Tampa Bay Rays pitchers and catchers as they took to the field for the first time this year. Any time you get to see professional athletes up close it is a treat but my son’s experience went beyond simply watching them from afar.

Before I get into the story, here’s a little background. I played pretty high level fastball growing up and loved everything about baseball. There was nothing I wanted more than for my son to love the sport I grew up with but I also wanted him to make his own decisions about what he liked and disliked, so I tried not to force baseball on him. Early on it seemed like he wouldn’t be interested and I had since made my peace with that. This year he asked to sign up for winter baseball skills lessons but after seven or eight classes still hadn’t decided if baseball was for him. Fast forward to this past weekend, however, and he came home from Florida begging for me to sign him up.

What changed, you ask?

As luck would have it, the Tampa Bay Rays are really good with their fans and especially the kids. They probably thought nothing of tossing a ball to a young fan but to my son it was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to him. For Chris Archer and Blake Snell to come and sign the ball and his newly purchased Rays hat made the experience even better for my future slugger. If this is all that had happened my son would have walked out of there an excited young baseball fan, but there was one more interaction that pushed him over the top and has since convinced him to want to be a baseball player.

One player took a little extra time chatting with my son and it was his excited recollection of the conversation that convinced me to write this story. So to pitcher Mark Sappington, thank you for making my son feel extra special. Thank you for signing his ball and thank you for not only asking him to show off his arm for you but also for praising him after his throw and telling him you think he has what it takes. What was most likely a common fan interaction for you meant the world to him and gave him more confidence than I could ever give him with the same compliment. He finalized his decision to play baseball this year because of you. How cool is it to have that kind of influence over a young person?

Thank you to the Tampa Bay Rays for treating my son so well and for giving him the confidence to believe in himself. I also promise not to steal the signed ball or hat that he has yet to leave out of his sight…!

Rays Baseball Gear

Outdoor Hockey Rink

Sticks In The Middle

Hockey players come in all shapes, sizes and skill levels. Some are naturally talented while others have to scratch and claw for every inch. We sort them by age and skill level, throw them on teams and shuttle them off to their 6am practices while we sip coffee or lace up with them and breathe the unmistakable arena air. In most cases, the children will stay in their comfort zones and play at the same skill level for the majority of their hockey lives and become friends with other similarly skilled players. While we may want to believe that there isn’t separation among friends based on your athletic abilities, for those of us who grew up in sports, we know that it definitely exists.

There exists, however, an alternate hockey universe; a glitch in the matrix, if you will, and it takes place in the dead of winter at the outdoor rink. As far back as I can remember the outdoor rink was a neutral playground for anyone who has ever laced up their skates and picked up a stick. As the outdoor rink there are no levels, no jersey numbers and definitely no egos. It’s always been a place where people from all walks of life meet up to simply have some fun.

Just the other day my 7 year old son, his friend and I went to the rink and within minutes of arriving had been thrust into an ongoing game. In that game there were two dads, three 7/8 year olds, a handful of teenage boys, two teenage girls and a couple guys who I’d guess we’re in their mid-20’s. Some of the players were obviously in competitive programs, others were less so and the young guys are still trying to find their place. None of us knew each other when we arrived at the rink but we threw our sticks in the middle, blindly selected teams and formed immediate bonds with the players in the game.

You’d think with all the different ages and skill levels that the game would be controlled by only a few skaters but something funny happens once you step onto the outdoor ice. Maybe it’s the lack of pressure to succeed or simply kindness taking over but a silent agreement is made between all players that everyone gets the chance to shine. This is my favourite part. There is a renewed faith in humanity in watching a 13 year old kid with all the talent in the world stop himself from scoring a goal in order to feed passes to a 6 year old kid who is still learning to shoot without falling down. Although the 13 year old isn’t my child I still feel a sense of pride as a parent, knowing how much awareness and maturity it took to share the glory with someone else.

Being involved in organized hockey can be tough, as a player and a parent, but the minute you step onto that outdoor ice you remember why you love this game so much. So don’t be afraid to jump into the game and throw your stick in the middle when asked. The game never really ends, it’s just waiting for the next player to get there.

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

Each year before the kids go off to their first day of school, we take the same picture of them out front of the house, as parents do. We ask them what they think they want to be when they grow up and we write it on the sign and snap the picture. The first couple years we got the standard responses of policewoman, doctor or firefighter, which are excellent choices by the way, but we noticed this past year that the kids are really starting to give the question some thought.

Instead of doctor, our daughter has narrowed down her field of choice to veterinarian, which, judging by the way she takes care of her stuffed animals, is an excellent choice. My son, on the other hand, has bounced between policeman and firefighter the last couple years but this year he too narrowed his choice down to working in forensics, just like daddy, as he put it.

While I realize there is a very good chance that my children will not work in these fields, I’m excited that they are already thinking about what it is they would like to do in the future. I spent a lot of time focusing on sports as a kid and then flaked out in high school, despite my parents encouragement to strive for more. So as I sit here still wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life, I’m hopeful that my kids will continue to dream big and not let anything get in their way. At their young ages there is truly nothing they can’t accomplish and I can’t wait to see what they do with their lives.

I mean, who knows, my daughter might still change her mind back to skateboarding princess, which would be absolutely rad! Plus, if she ever stumbles for career ideas, she can look no further than the Barbie collection she plays with almost every single day. Fun fact: Barbie has had over 155 different careers in her lifetime and although that makes her sound like a terrible employee, I can assure you it’s just because she never ever ages…

Giveaway

To celebrate the new Barbie “You Can Be Anything” campaign, I am giving away a very cool Barbie Prize Pack to one luck reader. Just enter as many options as you would like on the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll select a winner on the weekend! Giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, and includes the Barbie™ Careers Eye Doctor Playset and two Barbie™ Fashionista dolls. Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however I do think skateboard princess is the coolest job you could ever hope for!

Chris Life Lessons

37 Things I’ve Learned In 37 Years

1. Talking about religion and politics on the internet is almost the same as screaming at a brick wall.

2. Being nice to people simply for the sake of being nice will pay far more dividends than being nice with alterior motives.

3. “I’ll do it later” actually means “I will forget to do this”. This is especially a problem when you suddenly need the one suit you own and find it crumpled in the laundry hamper.

4. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. You know what to do.

5. Kindness can defuse a bad situation more often than anger. This I learned from the late Rev. Rick Marples who coached some of the roughest hockey teams I’ve ever been a part of and did so with a smile.

6. Karaoke is cool no matter what anyone else says.

7. Music isn’t just background noise. Music has carried me through some very dark times and made great times even greater.

8. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No, I didn’t invent this saying and it is a worn out cliché but even the best of us get burned occasionally.

9. In business, saying no can often lead to an even bigger yes.

10. Exercising is hard when you try to catch up for years of inactivity. Don’t believe me? Here’s my story that I shared with GoodLife Fitness and I’m still struggling along.

11. You are never too old to wear a Halloween costume.

12. There is always room for personal growth. Mistakes happen. Learn and move on.

13. I can’t be bothered to tie a pair of shoes. Thank goodness for slip-ons!

14. The ability to say “I’m sorry” when you are wrong is not a weakness.

15. Take time to stop and appreciate moments as they happen, even if that moment is as simple as taking in a breath of fresh morning air.

16. I wish I had learned how to do things like change a tire, build a deck and do basic handyman tasks. You can only ask for so many favours before you start feeling bad about yourself.

17. Always ask for customer retention when trying to renegotiate your cable, internet and phone plans. I have saved hours of waiting on hold with this one.

18. Don’t bottle up your emotions, especially when it comes to grief. Acting tough only works for so long before your mind catches on.

19. Don’t be the angry parent at a children’s sporting event. You look ridiculous and your child will end up being the one who pays for your actions. No, seriously, don’t be this person. It’s bad enough that all parents have to take an hour long course on respect in sport because of you.

20. Having children is a great way to justify buying the toys you never got to play with as a child.

21. Do things you are afraid of doing. It will make you less afraid of everything else.

22. At a sporting event or concert, use the valet parking every now and then. It’s a little bit more expensive but it makes you feel like a VIP at the event.

23. Smile. A lot.

24. There isn’t a much better feeling than watching your child excel at something and seeing the pride in their faces as they do.

25. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a silly concept. Being tired stinks. Get some sleep, man!

26. The “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Dat” video is one of the funniest things on YouTube.

27. It is possible to love and hate snow at the exact same time.

28. Debt can crush your soul. If you really don’t need that shiny new thing, leave it on the shelf. Also, start saving some money right now!

29. Cabbage and lettuce are not the same thing. Only one of them tastes good in a Caesar salad. Yes, this is something I learned the hard way. No, my family hasn’t let me forget it.

30. If you think you smell gas in your house, call someone in immediately because you probably have a gas leak. Do not procrastinate for hours until you drive yourself mad and call the gas company at 2am.

31. I could watch Netflix for 4 hours a day and still never run out of things to watch on Netflix.

32. If your child asks you to hold onto a rock because it is special to them, you hold that rock until the day they ask for it back. That day could be twenty years later but they WILL ask for it back!

33. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure, it simply gives you the knowledge to get it right the next time.

34. Making even a small difference in the world is still making a difference in the world. Volunteer your time, donate food or money, pay for someone’s coffee, anything that does something good for someone else and you will be making the world a better place.

35. Dance like no one is watching, even if they are definitely watching.

36. Say “I Love You” to the people you love. It sounds simple but we often take it for granted.

37. Everyone has an opinion on how you should dress, behave, raise your kids and feel but in the end yours is the only opinion that matters when it comes to you.

Blue Jays Clinch

Who Cries About Professional Sports?

There I sat on my couch with my 7 year old son, watching the Toronto Blue Jays clinch the AL East title for the first time in 22 years. It was nice to be able to share something I enjoy with my son and I assumed that we would watch it and then go on with bedtime as we do every night. That isn’t exactly what happened though.

As we watched the Blue Jays celebrate, my son snuggled up next to me, I started to feel the sting that usually precedes a good cry. Trust me, I had the same thought you just did, “Who cries about professional sports?”. It only took me a minute to figure out what was going on and once I did I took an extra couple minutes with my son to sit and enjoy the moment we were experiencing.

It was 22 years ago that I sat in my basement with my dad, watching as Joe Carter hit a home run to win the World Series. I remember jumping up and down, numerous high fives and the feeling of pure joy in that moment. Every time I see that clip and hear the famous, “Touch ’em all, Joe”, I am transported back to that moment and I can’t help but smile at remembering that special time with my father.

I often worry that my memories of my father are going to disappear but this was an excellent reminder that they are just being stored away for when I really need them. My son is younger than I was on that day 22 years ago but that doesn’t mean his mind won’t come back to this moment one day when he is experience something similar with his own kids.

So I guess the answer to the question, “Who cries about pro sports?” is, I do, and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Daughter Window

Oh, The Places She’ll Go

When the doctor informed my wife and I that we were going to be having a daughter, a wave of panic came over me. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I would be a good enough father, it was more the fact that I had spent so much of my life around guys that I wasn’t sure how different life would be with a little girl around. You see, it had been well over 70 years since there had been a girl born on my father’s side of the family. My grandfather had four sons, three of them had two sons each and then two of us had boys as our first children. To say the odds were against us having a daughter would be a giant understatement.

Still, there she was, a beautiful baby girl staring back at me, wrapped in a pink blanket and wearing a pink knitted hat. She has been in my life for just over five years now and I can honestly say that having a little girl has changed the way I think about almost everything. Just when I think I have her figured out she never fails to throw me a curve ball. She fell in love with princesses and ballet so I assumed she was going to be a girlie girl. Next thing I know she’s running Spartan Races, destroying rock walls and bowling kids over at her soccer games.

Kids Spartan Race

Just this past weekend we went camping at the KOA in Cardinal and they have a gigantic inflatable water slide. If I’m being completely honest, I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to rides and heights in general so I was hoping my kids wouldn’t be interested in the water slide. I got off the hook with my son because he was preoccupied with the Kids Bingo event but I could tell by the daredevil look in her eyes that there would be no denying her this adventure. Due to her lack of height she needed a parent to go up the ladder with her and, after my wife vanished in a puff of smoke, I ended up drawing the short straw. Here is an example of what we were going up against, although the picture does it no justice.

KOA Cardinal Water Slide

A funny thing happened on the way up to the top of the slide. My fear of heights vanished and was instead replaced by pride at watching her fearlessly climb her way to the top. As it turns out, her fearlessness helped me conquer one of my fears, which was a lot to process afterward. As we conquered the slide together I was reminded of the new Quaker video, The Recital (shown below), from earlier in the week and have since vowed to do more crazy and goofy things with my kids going forward. Life had gotten a little too serious lately and when that happens it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. Let your freak flag fly, people, and enjoy the smiles that follow!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Quaker.