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.

Kids Dad Video Games

Am I Making The Most Of My Time As A Father?

Where does the time go? I’m serious, what just happened here? I blinked and my children were another year older. It leaves me reflecting on whether I’m making the most of this time with them or if I’m letting it slip by too quickly. I had been asked to write something about the new video from Quaker, The Recital, and quickly planned out what I wanted to talk about. That changed instantly after I watched the video, however. There as a line in there that really resonated with me and it’s when the dad in the video says,

“And I hope she doesn’t think I work too much or don’t pay enough attention to her because I really do value the time we spend together”

That’s exactly it, isn’t it? This line just kept ringing in my ears afterward because it is exactly how I feel about my kids. I have a full time job and also freelance on the side so that my wife can stay home to raise the kids. This means that while most parents are chastised for having their phones out around their kids, I occasionally need to have mine out in order to pay the bills. Still, I wonder if the kids remember all the fun events they got to go to or will they only remember that daddy was on his phone (fulfilling social media obligations for that event) during them?

I worry everyday that my children won’t understand this and I do my very best to explain it to them and to keep my work to the times when we are not together, but I’m certainly not perfect. I actually considered leaving blogging earlier this year because I felt like it was taking away too much of my family time. I got to a point where there seemed to be so much going on that I just shut down to avoid it all. As it turns out, I just needed to implement some structure to what I do. Yes, after 4 years of this I am still learning how to manage it. Laugh away.

Daughter Globetrotter

This is the path we have chosen and I am grateful for every opportunity I have received and for every Harlem Globetrotter who has visited my house to play basketball with my kids… I just hope that my children will look back someday and remember that above all else their daddy loved them and did everything in his power to give them the best life possible. Now, grab some tissues and watch this very cool video from Quaker. PS – I’m already planning something special for my daughter and I to do together after watching this!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Quaker to showcase their new father/daughter video and hit me harder that I had expected. Do all the things you want to do with your kids before you blink and they have families of their own.

*Photo Credit: The cover photo was taken by David Redding Photography.

Dodge Grand Caravan

It’s Official, I’m A Minivan Man!

We’ve all heard the jokes about buying a minivan. Having never actually been inside one I was led to believe that they were simply a boring box on wheels and that I should never ever consider owning one for fear of being voted off the cool people island. When we went car shopping recently we didn’t have a minivan on our short list, but now that the dust has settled I can confirm that there is definitely one sitting in my driveway right now.

Shameless plug here but it was my work on the Schick “Drive Free” campaign that got me thinking about how much money we were pumping into our current vehicle because it was older and needed a constant stream of maintenance. We figured we’d at least check out some new vehicles that would have warranty plans we could rely on. After looking at a couple different option the salesman cautiously asked us if we had ever considered a minivan. We both kind of laughed it off but next thing we knew we were sitting in the back seats checking out all the cool features it offered.

After some hard negotiations… Wait, let me try that again. After cowering under the sales table we finally agreed to purchase a brand new, fully loaded, Dodge Grand Caravan and I have to say that this is the happiest I’ve been with a new car purchase. It has given us the freedom to allow each of our children to choose a friend to take places with us and that has really taken summer to a new level! We’ve done museums, beaches, parks and pool parties all with a van full of kids and room to spare. Seriously, minivans are the exact opposite of everything I’ve heard about them. Up next is our minivan’s first camping trip and I can’t wait to see how much stuff we can cram into it!

In closing, you should definitely buy a minivan so you can be cool like me. On top of that if you think gas, maintenance and insurance are all too expensive, you still have a lot of time left to enter the Schick “Drive Free For A Year” contest! All you need to do to enter is click on the previously mentioned link, follow the easy steps and Schick could be paying your gas, insurance and depreciation for a whole year! You can also visit the @FreeYourSkinCA Twitter handle for more specials and details about the contest. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, however I did actually buy a minivan and I really do love it! I also actually feel cool while driving around in it. It’s like punching an achievement on my dad card!

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

Ball Hockey Game

The Agony Of Defeat

The buzzer sounded to signal the end of the game, and our season, as it were. I looked down the bench at their 7 year old exhausted faces, some welling up with tears, and couldn’t help but feel terrible for them. They worked harder than I’ve ever seen them work and came up just a bit short. The first thing we tell kids after the trademark, “Have Fun”, is that if you work your hardest, good things will happen. It’s not easy to find out that sometimes your hardest isn’t quite enough to win.

It was also a strange experience for me because it was the first time I could feel my son’s disappointment after losing and I’ve been having trouble shaking it. No, seriously, I am putting on a strong face for my son and saying things like “you have to lose before you can truly appreciate winning” but inside I am heartbroken for these kids who left everything out on the floor. This is one of those times that I really miss my dad, who would have had plenty of these stories to share from my youth. I’ve always wondered what was going through his head as I sobbed quietly on the car ride home after being cut from a competitive team. I’m sure I’ll soon find out as my son enters the competitive age range.

As for my son, pride doesn’t begin to describe the way I feel about his growth this season. For the first half of the season he played passively, not really getting into the play, almost as if he were afraid of making a mistake. It wasn’t until a mid season tournament where we had a talk about determination that I noticed an almost instant change. The next game he came out tenacious, taking the ball and forcing the other team to make mistakes, which also resulted in his first goal of the year. After seeing the look of pride on his face as he returned to the bench, I knew there was no looking back. He even started adding “all new” before his name whenever he talked about his sports. Watching him work his hardest while also carrying a huge smile on his face has been my most rewarding time as his father up to this point.

Speaking of rewarding moments. In the true spirit of a Canadian hockey player, my son lost his tooth mid game last week, rinsed out the blood on the bench and got back out there for his next shift. I’m telling you, this kid is destined for great things 😀

Canadian Hockey Missing Teeth

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 :)

Father Daughter Bubbles

Let Go, Dad

“Let go, Dad!”

We weren’t 5 seconds into her first lesson but I saw the confidence in her eyes as I let my hand slip off the handlebars of her bike.

I still remember spinning her around through a sea of bubbles and giggling together as we tried to pop them all. She was so little. The only thing that mattered in those moments was the laughter. She is 5 now and while there is still lots of laughter, something else has emerged. Now I see a little girl standing in front of me who has real thoughts and feelings and emotions, and I’m not going to lie, it’s a little scary.

It feels like a never ending struggle to find a balance between keeping her safe and letting her explore the world on her own, which I know she loves to do. She constantly pushes her comfort zone to the limit and surprises me at every turn, reminding even me that life itself is about pushing yourself and not being satisfied with the status quo.

The cliché goes, “You can do anything you set your mind to”, and we all laugh at the absurdity of it, but with her I believe it. Tell her she’s too little and she’ll fight to prove you wrong, which is good because we haven’t blessed her with height.

She beamed with pride on this day, as did her parents, as she felt the wind rushing past her face and rang her bell to let the neighbourhood know that the training wheels were gone. Letting go wasn’t easy but the reward was far greater than the fear.

Daughter Bike Ride

Kinder Canada Eggs Minions Movie

Make Your Very Own Kinder Surprise Minion Crafts!

I know I promised you an amazing Minions themed Kinder Surprise giveaway but in honour of the 11 new Minions toys inside specially marked KINDER® SURPRISE® Classic eggs I wanted to show you a very cool and very easy craft you can do with your kids! Follow along with the pictures below to create your very own Kinder Minions!

Step #1 – Gather your supplies. In this case you will need an empty Kinder Surprise Egg, scissors, a sharpie, googly eyes, glue, a piece off some old jeans and glue.

Kinder Egg Minions 1

Step #2 – Use the sharpie to draw a band across the top of your Kinder Surprise Egg.

Kinder Egg Minions 2

Step #3 – Glue a googly eye in the middle of the band and draw a smile and hair on your minion.

Kinder Egg Minions 3

Step #4 – Cut some pieces off the jeans and glue them to the bottom of your minion to make pants! (Parents beware, jeans are tough to cut! You may want to help here.)

Kinder Egg Minions 4

Step #5 – Let your minions dry and they are ready to go looking for a new master!

Kinder Egg Minions 5


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck and also, don’t forget to visit the Kinder Canada Facebook Page on Friday, May 22 for a chance to win four tickets to see the Minions movie in theatres when it comes out this July!

DISCLOSURE: I’m a #KinderMom/Maman/Dad who is part of the KINDER® Canada influencer team; as part of my affiliation with KINDER® Canada, I am provided with special perks and products.

Kids Video Camera

Two Kids, Their Toys And A Video Camera

My wife and I recently bought a new camera and we decided to give our old camera to the kids. We taught them how to take pictures and thought it would be funny to check back in to see what they came up with. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined that they would have figured out how to shoot their own videos, but they did…

After marveling at their work, I plucked my favourite video off the memory card and loaded it up onto the YouTube. Without further ado, I present to you a short film by my children entitled, “Nice To Meet You”. Enjoy and never underestimate your children!