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Father Son

I Still Remember

I rubbed my daughter’s back last night as she cried in her sleep and wondered how many times you did that with me. I can still remember climbing in to your bed when I would get scared and have vowed to never deny my children that luxury.

I think about how proud you must have been when I scored a big goal or made a nice catch. My kids do those things now and my heart swells with pride. Some people say not to over praise your children but I can never seem to stop myself. I wish I’d had the chance to trade these stories with you.

I remember how cool and calm you were when I’d get hurt. I channel that energy now when I see my children in pain, even though I am filled with nothing but panic. I’m guessing this is what all parents feel.

I wish I could ask you silly questions, like whether you smiled the way I do when we coloured nonsensical pictures for you, as my children do for me.

I still see the effects of the work you did to make our community a better place to live and hope I can live up to your level of commitment. There are so many times where I feel like I don’t have the energy and wonder how you accomplished all that you did. Because of you, I work harder so that my kids will see me as a difference maker someday.

You let me be my own person and make my own mistakes, while also giving me the chance to make up for those mistakes without violence or rage. Like the time I “borrowed” that money of your dresser… I’m still learning patience and I wish I had you here to tell me that it gets easier.

I remember a lot great times, which is what I hope for my children when I am gone. Even when I think about the tougher times, I find so many lessons that I can apply to my parenting today.

There are so many things I never got to say to you, so instead I make sure to say them to my children every single day.

Although you may not be here to lean on, I am doing my best with what you left behind so I can be the kind of father my children deserve. The kind of father I had in you.

Fearless Kid

Fearless

“C’mon, dad! Let’s go exploring!”, she yelled as she ran into the small forested area we would soon refer to as “The Jungle”. She didn’t need me to follow along but invited me anyway, which was nice. Though you wouldn’t know from the fearless way that she leaped into the woods, part of me wanted to believe that my presence made her feel safer in there.

We ran through the jungle carrying sticks, just in case we ran into trouble, and popped out at an old wooden bridge that covered a small stream. I tried to explain to her that this was the bridge I used to hide under with my friends when I was her age, but she was way ahead of me in making her way underneath. She’s adventurous, this one. Just like her dad was at that age. We played troll under the bridge for a few minutes, with her insisting on being the troll even though I was perfect for the part, before moving on to the next adventure at a nearby park.

As we walked down the pathway to the park, I felt like I was walking through my past. We passed the creek where I used to catch frogs, the baseball diamond where I found out that I made my first competitive team, the high school where I broke out of my shell, and the park that I spent countless hours pushing my limits. You’d think twenty plus years would have had their way with these places but they all looked exactly the same as I had left them.

Exploring is tough work, so while I didn’t get the chance to stop and take in all the memories that were crashing around in my brain, I did relish the opportunity to create a new memory with her in a place that meant so much to me in my youth.

We left the park, walked through the baseball diamond across from the high school, crawled under the bridge and ran through the jungle back to our original starting point. “Did you have fun exploring with me, daddy?”

More than you will ever know, sweetheart.

Terra20

Father’s Day Gift Ideas, Plus Enter To Win a $100 Gift Card From Terra20!

After the Super Bowl and the release of any super hero movie, Father’s Day is the day that dads everywhere look forward to most each year. Because it’s not customary for dad to get flowers and chocolate, like our motherly counterparts, we usually have to dig deep in order to find something that we really want. Something that says, I did a good job as a dad this year and now I am going to accept this award in exchange for that job well done.

Of course, I am kidding about the award. In my house, I am more than happy to completely disconnect from the digital world and spend the entire day enjoying the company of my wife and children. We usually find a cool local trail and spend the day outdoors, which is all I really need. Inevitably, my wife will ask if there is anything I want, I will say no, then she will tell me that they are getting something anyway, so I’d better pick something.

I mentioned recently that I am a big fan of supporting local businesses, so I decided to check out what terra20 had to offer and have listed my top 3 picks below. Just as a side note, I could have listed the entire House of Marley line but decided to cut it down to three things…

House of Marley Lively Up Harvest Messenger

House of Marley Lively Up Harvest Messenger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As someone who suddenly finds himself doing a lot of travelling, I realized that carrying my computer and notepad in an old softball duffel bag is probably not the best idea. This House of Marley Messenger Bag is at the very top of my list, so if my wife is reading this, you know, me likey!

House of Marley Chant Portable Audio System

House of Marley Chant Portable Audio System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a chance to play around with the House of Marley Chant Player when I visited terra20 last summer and fell in love with it. It stows away anywhere and connects to your mobile device with amazing sound quality. This is the perfect gift for the dad who does a lot of work outside.

Barefoot Books Kid’s Kitchen

Barefoot Books Kid's Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this may seem like an unorthodox choice, learning to cook is something that I have had on my list for a while now. The thought of being able to learn to do so with my kids is something that brings me a lot of joy. I can’t promise that I won’t burn the pancakes but I’m willing and ready to give it a try!

WIN A $100 TERRA20 GIFT CARD!

That’s right, terra20 is building a father’s day gift guide and are offering a $100 gift card for your assistance in putting it together. How do you enter, you ask?

Men, you need to browse the terra20 website for a few of your favourite items that you think would make perfect Father’s Day gifts. Ladies, either ask your man to do this or pick something you think he would love from the terra20 site.

Once you find your favourite item, leave a comment below with a link to that particular item and you will be entered in the draw! It’s that easy!

Giveaway closes Sunday, May 18th at 6pm and is open to residents of the Ottawa area, excluding Quebec. One winner will be drawn at random from eligible comments and will win a $100 terra20 gift card to be picked up at one of the two store locations. *In addition, if terra20 is chooses your gift suggestion to be in the gift guide, you may be contacted by Canadian Dad about your comment being included. By entering you recognize that: there is no guarantee that your suggestion will be in the gift guide, and in the case of more than one person suggesting the same item, no specific attribution will be required on the part of terra20.

Men Get Pregnant Too

Books For Parents: Men Get Pregnant, Too by Kenny Bodanis

It occurred to me while I was reading “Men Get Pregnant, Too”, by Kenny Bodanis, that there aren’t a lot of books out there for dads. I noticed this as I nodded my head along with the stories Kenny tells in the book and found myself wishing that there had been something out there like this prior to my having children. Kenny Bodanis is an award winning, Canadian blogger and radio & television parenting columnist, who lives with his wife and two children in Montreal.

My favourite thing about “Men Get Pregnant, Too”, which shares the same name as Bodanis’ blog, is that he doesn’t hold back in the stories he tells. Another thing I enjoyed was how he added pet peeves and tips for men who are about to enter into fatherhood, such as

“Plug in. Have answers. Be interested. Not for everyone else but as a reminder to your spouse that her husband is excited to be a dad.”

Reading this, I wished I had a time machine so I could go back and do it better.

Kenny also talks at length about the different emotions and stresses that fathers face and tries to help encourage dad to own those emotions. This is also something that I failed miserably at with my first child and didn’t figure out until I started writing about my experiences as a father. It’s important that dad doesn’t completely take a back seat during the pregnancy and Bodanis does a great job of explaining why that is so important.

With Father’s Day right around the corner, I can’t think of a better gift for dad than this book. It really covers almost everything you are going to come up against and does so in a light-hearted and very relatable voice. Men Get Pregnant, Too is available in both paperback and kindle versions on Amazon. You can also check out Kenny Bodanis on his Twitter and Facebook pages.

Pretty Little Girl

She Has No Idea How Loved She Is

The animated and believable way in which she can tell a story about fictional princesses who can fly and who also turn into magical mermaids with super strength.

She has no idea how loved she is.

When she bats her eyes and asks for five more minutes of colouring before bed, after I’ve already given her five more minutes three times.

She has no idea how loved she is.

When she gives me the twentieth drawing she’s done that day and says, “This one’s just for you, daddy”.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Having to scold her when she’s misbehaved, because that’s my job as her father, but having it hurt so much to do so.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Listening to her beautiful voice sing when she thinks no one is listening.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Getting lost in her eyes as she recounts her day.

She has no idea how loved she is.

The way she instinctively plays with my hair while I read her bedtime story.

She has no idea how loved she is.

The passionate way in which she loves her friends and family, and at such a young age.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Watching her play “family” with her dollies and all I can think about is that someday those dolls will be real people.

She has no idea how loved she is.

The pride in her eyes when she does something she’s never done before.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Her career choice, when asked: Superstar

She has no idea how loved she is.

The way she understands and practices compassion for others.

She has no idea how loved she is.

It’s my little girl’s birthday today and yet I feel like I’m the one who got the greatest gift. Happy Birthday, Baby!

Days Inn Dad Ad

Days Inn Canada Falls Short With New Dad Ad

I have been a part of the online dad community for a little over two years now. In that time, I have learned to value my contributions to my family and have become a far better and more attentive father because of it. I have also become more aware of the way fathers tend to be portrayed in the media and have even been fortunate enough to be a part of a community that is striving to, and has succeeded in, changing the dumb dad stereotype. In fact, according to a recent extensive study by 8 Bit Dad’s, Zach Rosenberg, fathers are being portrayed in a more engaged and positive light, more and more every year.

Unlike my American counterparts, however, it is extremely rare for me to see a commercial where the dad is being portrayed in a negative light. That changed this week after I saw the new commercial from Days Inn Canada. The commercial shows a sad child sitting alone in his room, wishing his father was there with him to read his bedtime story. It then cuts to the father, who is excitedly lounging alone in his hotel room, and sings the line, “And on the brighter side, dad’s watching mixed martial arts”. It gets worse from there but this is about the point in the commercial where I checked out and thought of a million different scenarios they could have gone with that would have made this commercial a viral sensation. First and foremost, why not have the dad reading to the kid over the internet and showing the love that I know most dads feel for their children. That would have been something I would have been proud to get behind and shared immediately. It would have even been enough to get my future business, at least once. And look, I’m all for Me-Time, as we all need it, but mixing it in with the sad child just made it look like the dad was happier outside the house than in it.

Not that fatherhood has ever been the way that the Al Bundy’s of the world would have you believe, but things are different now than they used to be. For a father to be a more engaged member of the overall household and child raising duties is not the exception anymore, it’s the norm. I’m sure Days Inn Canada thought this was harmless fun and others may see this as me being a whiny dad, but I think it’s important for them to know that it’s okay to go against the stereotype and to create a new mold.

What are thoughts on the commercial? I know we all see things differently, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

All this said, I would love to invite Days Inn Canada to have a conversation with us dads, so we can talk about what our version of fatherhood looks like for future commercials. In the meantime, I invite you to take a look at how the face of fatherhood has changed in just the last 1000 days. Video is courtesy of the folks at the Dad 2.0 Summit.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out these posts from Buzz Bishop from DadCamp and Justin Connors from Life in 140.

Dad Summit Lorne

The Measure of a Man

We have a lot of definitions and ideas about manliness and what it means to be a “real” man, but the truth is that there is no one characteristic that defines “manliness”. Some think you need tattoos and a pickup truck to be a true man, while others prefer courage or humour as shining examples. We all look at life through a different lens and none of us are right or wrong in our feelings about it.

This past weekend, at the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans, I had the incredible fortune of meeting over 200 other fathers who are each doing their part to redefine what it means to be a dad and also proving that every man is different but also equal. This conference is a place where egos are checked at the door and real emotion is not only allowed to be shared but very much encouraged.

Up until my father passed away a few years ago, I didn’t deal with my emotions very well. Even after his passing, I had trouble showing my emotions visibly and a lot of that had to do with the perception of weakness and the threat of being labeled as someone who was less of a man for it. Those days have since passed and the Dad 2.0 Summit has been a major influence on my ability to express myself without the fear of judgement. Last year, in Houston, I read one of my stories about the anxiety I went through after my father passed away. I can remember all the emotion that was rushing through my veins as I stood up in front of the 250 attendees and poured my soul out onto the stage for everyone to see. They were incredibly supportive and that single event has helped my confidence level more than I can describe.

This year, I was privileged to be in the audience when spotlight reader and brilliant writer, Lorne Jaffe, took to the stage to read his post, “Do I Really Like What I Like?“. While watching Lorne deliver his emotional story about his struggles with mental illness, I witnessed exactly what it means to be a man. Public speaking is uncomfortable enough and when you add in the topic he was discussing, I have never been more proud or inspired by someone that I had just met hours before. I’ve watched it back a few times now and well up each and every time. Lorne, if you are reading this, every single one of those people who stood for you after your reading were mesmerized by what you did and I hope someday you will be able to take pride in that personal achievement.

I have included the video of Lorne’s presentation below. From now on, any time I feel guilty for having emotions or like I can’t do something, I will look at this video and remember that sometimes the best things in life come from stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Lego Dad

Lego Captures Fatherhood Beautifully

For those new to the site, from time to time I like to feature commercials that portray fatherhood in a positive light. This tradition has actually resulted in one of my most inspirational moments as a blogger. This past week, I was introduced to a new commercial from LEGO® that captures everything I love about being a father, and I wanted to share it with you all.

The commercial is a simple yet very effective look at everything being a father means to me. LEGO® are the latest in a line of companies who have shifted the way they are marketing to families, specifically fathers. From Tide and Downy to Clorox and Dove Men+ Care, it seems like the days of the bumbling, useless dad are fading quickly and I’m excited to watch the new trend unfold.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this commercial and the new trend of the modern father being represented in a more caring and competent light.

Cake Boss Buddy

An Evening With The Cake Boss!

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited by Canadian Tire to hang out with the one and only Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, as he launched his new line of bakeware, which will be exclusively available at Canadian Tire. The new line is designed to give people at home the chance to bake like boss and create their own masterpieces! The night was amazing and I even had the chance to sit down one on one with Buddy to ask him a few questions.

At the event, Buddy teamed up with Ottawa Senators head coach, Paul MacLean and Paul’s daughter, Erin, to show off some basic techniques that can be done by the every day non-baker. It was a light event with a lot of laughs, especially when Buddy offered to hire Paul MacLean if the Sens ever decided to let him go.

cake boss paul maclean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview With The Cake Boss

I was also excited to have the opportunity to sit down with Buddy before the show started, to ask him a few questions. Here is what he had to say.

Q: What advice do you have for kids who dream of someday opening their own bakery?

Buddy: Definitely go work in a bakery first, just to make sure that you love it and get as much experience as you can. If you decide that this is the life for you, go to culinary school and aim for your dreams. The business part of this is covered by working at a bakery. They don’t teach you about the business side in culinary school, what it’s like to live and work in a bakery and really see the ins and outs of the real environment.

Q: Any advice for dads who want to be more hands on in the kitchen, to show their kids that it’s cool to try new things?

Buddy: Part of the reason I decided to do this product line with Canadian Tire is to make it easy for anybody to get in to the kitchen and get baking. It’s actually not that hard to do and I’m hoping to give you things that are achievable. We want people to go cake decorating and feel excited about it. For you, I’ll say that fondant is a lot easier than butter cream, especially when you are starting out, and that’s why we did videos with it.

Q: I saw your hockey cake you made for the draft and wondered what is your favourite/hardest project that you’ve worked on?

Buddy: Yeah, the hockey cake was a cool one and, you know, Canada! But definitely the coolest one I have done is the transformer cake. From a challenge standpoint, out of everything I’ve done, the transformer sets the bar on how far you can take a cake.

Q: You are a part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but you also founded the Momma Mary Foundation and I was wondering if you would talk a bit about what that’s all about?

Buddy: The Momma Mary Foundation is something I started in lieu of my mom having ALS. What we do is we take donations and do fundraisers, to give money for research and to people that can’t afford treatments. We’ve worked with Mass General in Boston, ALS Worldwide and different things. We take the money and give it to organizations that we feel are really trying to make strives in it. It’s especially important to pass that down to my kids and the charity is close to my heart because of my mom having it.

Q: How often does a cake need repairs upon delivery?

Buddy: Oh man, I can remember last year, we got a call that a cake that was sent out to Louisiana had tipped over. We had to spring in to action and get down there to fix it. But, for the most part we only have a few incidents a year and have been pretty lucky in that regard.

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Buddy couldn’t have been any nicer and he even recorded a video greeting for my mom, who is a huge fan of him and his family. His speech about how cake decorating gave him the confidence to go after his dreams really resonated with me as I am currently chasing a dream of my own. He also hopes to open up his own shop in Canada sometime in the next year or so, which is exciting. I had a great time meeting Buddy and want to thank Canadian Tire for the invite and for the very cool samples of some of Buddy’s new products. If you guys don’t a cake post from me in the next 3 months, feel free to call me out as a failure!

Buddy Cake Boss SensCake Boss Canadian Tire

Summer Fun Dad

Fun Summertime Ideas For Dad!

My latest appearance on the CTV Ottawa Morning Show was all about things for Dad to do with the kids this summer. While most things can be combined as a family activity, these are just a few of the things I do with the kids while Mommy does her thing.

* Build Forts, Spaceships, Lightsabers, etc… – Everything you need is available online, and it doesn’t matter if it ends up perfect, as long as you do it together. For some awesome craft ideas, you should also check out Mike Adamick’s book, ‘Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects‘.

* Go on Adventures Together – We go to the dollar store, buy some $1 foam swords and other hunting gear, then hit the forest and hunt for bears and dragons. (Note: If you see a real bear, RUN!)

* Set Up A PlasmaCar Race Track! – Back to the Dollar Store, you can get some really cool racing banners, along with some small orange cones and you can set up your very own PlasmaCar (or other riding toy) race track. It’s all fun and games until Daddy breaks the car…

* Splash Pads, Water Gun Battles or Water Parks – This is pretty self explanatory; Water = Awesome! We like to visit the splash pad down the street and bring our buckets to chase each other with. We’ve also been known to have some pretty epic street-wide water gun fights. This is one of my favourites!

I also polled a few other Dad Bloggers about their favourite summertime activities and here is what they had to say:

Chris Nichols from Rated4AndUp ~ “I took my 4 yr old son camping for the first time over the 4th of July holiday. Just me and him. It was a great time. We also go mini golfing and go cart riding just the two of us.”

Carter Gaddis from DadScribe ~ “Yard work with the 7-year-old for the first time. He picks up shrub trimmings and puts them into a trash bag. He discovered a beautiful, full spider web in our front yard one morning while we worked.”

Jeff Bogle from Out With The Kids ~ “My girls are I just had a baking morning on Thurs. played great kindie rock and made cinnamon swirl muffins with icing from scratch. Then ate some, of course!”

James Hudyma from Dads Round Table ~ “We live at Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park for the summer. I take the kids fishing and hiking as much as possible.”

Michael Moebes from The Muskrat ~ “We like to geocache. Today, we found ourselves in a graveyard looking for hidden treasures.”

Creed Anthony from The Captain’s Log ~ “We visited different parks, water parks, the zoo, jumped matchbox cars, colored, watched movies, made pancakes, got donuts, made our own sprinkler system (2 xs because the first one sucked), free events around the city, chased the ice cream truck, Disney, zoo, museum, chuck e cheese, movie theater and we still have 5 weeks left. And I went to my first dad meet up. This is the part of teaching I like the most.”

Lee Bodenmiller from Souvenirs of Fatherhood ~ “Skipping rocks. Camping in the backyard. Build a shelter in the woods. Wash the car. Water balloons. Build a birdhouse.”

A big thanks to all the guys for contributing their ideas. For those of you who are interested, here is the clip from my CTV Morning Show appearance, which also happens to be my son’s TV debut! Have a Great Summer!!