Posts

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.

**********************

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!!

I Love You 200

Love You 200

My wife asked my son how much he loved her the other day, and he answered, I Love You 200! We both looked at each other, and then he followed it up with, “That’s a lot”. I spent the last couple of days wondering what that 200 could possibly represent, and these are my best guesses.

* 200 Skylanders. (This is his favourite game and 200 new characters would certainly translate into plenty of love.)

* 200 episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (His favourite TV show. We are both getting tired of watching the same episodes, so 200 new ones would be amazing!)

* 200 cookies. (Should be pretty self explanatory, no? This is something we can get get behind.)

* 200 play dates. (What can I say, this kid loves playing with his friends.)

* $200. (To a 5 year old, $200 probably seems like a million. That’s a lot of love!)

* 200 straight hours of Game of Thrones! (Okay, that one’s for me, but still, amazing!)

* 200 extra days of vacation from work. (**Drool**)

* 200 Pizzas. (This is both my son’s and my favourite food. Just the thought of this gives me the excited goosebumps)

* 200 X’s and O’s. (This is what I hope it stands for. There is no amount of pizza in the world that I would trade in exchange for this one.)

And, there you have it. I really have no clue what he was talking about, but in the end it doesn’t really matter because if he says “I Love You 200″ is a lot of love, I have to take his word for it. In all honesty, I think he is smarter than I give him credit for, and this whole thing was an elaborate subliminal plan to get kid points, so he can work his way to actually obtaining the 200 Skylanders he covets. Well, guess what? I will totally take that!

How To Make Awesome Crafts With Your Kids: Dad Edition

Dad's Book of Awesome Projects

I am not handy. There, I said it. I don’t know how to build a deck or a planter. I can’t fix a car or figure out how to fix a leaky pipe. Heck, I am not even confident in my ability to paint a room properly. That’s not to say I don’t try these things. I’m just not good at them.

That brings me to today’s topic. I picked up Mike Adamick’s, “Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects”, mostly because I was tired of making the same old crafts with the kids and I thought it might help me with my aversion to crafts and general unhandiness (it’s a word, get over it).

Where most “How To” books fail due to lack of information on the “How To” part, Mike’s step by step instructions make it so that even “accidentally glue gunned my fingers together” old me can complete any project with ease. Case and point, this weekend my children and I took to the dollar store to complete our latest Awesome project: Canvas Art!

Dollar Store Craft Materials

You’ll notice I mentioned the Dollar Store. That’s because this entire project, with all the supplies you see above, cost us a whopping $11! I used to make fun of my wife for keeping the old egg cartons but as it turns out, they are pretty good for holding multiple paint colours. So…sorry, hunny. I simply turned to page 139 in the book and went to work on everything we needed to create our very own Jackson Pollock. As you can see, while my son chose to stick to the book’s task of flinging the paint at the canvas, my daughter had a different idea about what Mike should have written about.

Dad Awesome Paint Project Completed

In the end, the best part is the quality time we got to spend, flinging paint, laughing and creating incredible works of art for my “half man garage, half day care toy pile”. So if you are looking for something to get for your husband this Father’s Day and beyond, I highly recommend Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects. If I can take this book and create something amazing, anybody can! On top of that, it has inspired me to take on a few more projects I have been thinking about. Stick around and I’ll be posting them once they are done.

Coach and Son

Just Call Me Coach

“Coach Chris”. That’s what the kids are calling me these days and I have to say that it feels pretty good. I guess you could say that I was destined to take on this role. You see, I was raised by one of the greatest coaches to ever step on a field. That man was my father and also my hero.

Truth is, I didn’t even sign up to be my son’s coach for his first year of T-Ball. It was only after we received an email from the league telling us they were short that I decided to throw my name in. I don’t have an official reason for why I didn’t sign up in the first place. I rationalized it by telling myself and my wife that it was because I was way too busy to take on coaching two nights a week, but I knew what the real reason was.

It’s been almost 6 years since I lost my father and while a lot of things have become easier, this is the one that I have been dreading most. He had coached me in multiple sports for as long as I can remember. We traveled a lot. We won championships together. He helped me develop my skills, not only as an athlete, but also as a man. Sports were the major reason for our great relationship. It was our bond.

It’s not that I didn’t want to coach and share that bond with my son, I just wasn’t sure I was ready for the emotional overload that was going to come with it. As it turns out, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. As I grew older, I often wondered what had compelled my father to put so much effort into something that seemed to come with nothing but high costs, upset parents and the stresses of dealing with a team full of kids. I found the answer.

It has only been half a season so far and I already love every one of the kids on my team. They all have different skills and quirks and smiles that make each one of them unique and amazing. The innocent joy on their faces when they catch the ball or win the game of freeze tag, is something that changes you. It changes your whole outlook on what is important and I like to think that this was a secret that my Dad would have shared with me had he still been round to see this.

As for my son, I try not to be too hard on him. I know exactly what it feels like to be the coach’s son and it’s something that he is going to have to get used to because I’m not going anywhere.

A Huge Father’s Day Giveaway, Courtesy Of Terra20

Terra20

I’m so excited to be partnering up with North America’s largest eco store, terra20, to bring you an amazing Father’s Day giveaway! They just recently launched their new Tech Zone, which features some amazing products from House of Marley. I have your opportunity to come home a hero this Father’s Day by offering you a chance to win a prize pack valued at $350, which includes the following:

House of Marley Chant Portable Audio System
House of Marley Chant System

 

Take your music with you wherever you go with the Chant portable audio system with Bluetooth. The built-in rechargeable battery and convenient 3.5mm input and included cable make it simple and easy to connect hundreds of devices and fire up your tunes whenever and wherever you need them. Designed and built with natural bamboo wood and durable canvas, recycled plastic, earth friendly metal plating and printing inks.

 

House of Marley Stir It Up Harvest On-Ear Headphones
House of Marley Headphones

 

The Stir It Up Noise-Isolating Headphones offer a real uninterrupted experience. You can hear the bass, the drumbeat and every colourful melody the way they should be heard. They have an on-ear design for exceptional comfort, with a frequency response of 15Hz – 22kHz and a 40-millimeter dynamic moving coil speaker drive for sound reinforcement. Designed and built with recyclable aluminum, FSC certified Beech wood, responsibly tanned leather and canvas. Fabric cord.

 

House of Marley Smile Jamaica Fire In-Ear Headphones with Microphone
House of Marley Ear Buds
 

With the Smile Jamaica noise-isolating earbuds, what you see is what you get. They have stripped the in-ear headphones down to their essence and built them back up using natural materials and recycled plastics. They have an in-ear design for deep bass, with a frequency response of 18Hz – 20kHz for authentic sound and a 8-millimeter driver, 16 ohms impedance and a dynamic micro speaker with neodymium magnet for sound reinforcement. Designed and built with FSC certified sapele and beech wood and recyclable aluminum. Fabric cord.

 

I know, I’m making uncharacteristic grunting noises right now. Ladies, as a husband, father and owner of these three items, all I can say is “Please win this for the husband or father in your life!” And, fellas, I won’t blame you for entering this one yourselves.

HOW TO ENTER

Here’s how it works. All you have to do is pop on over to terra20′s amazing online shop, find one thing you would love for yourself and leave a comment with the item and the link from the shop page. That’s it. I will draw a winner at 3pm on Friday, June 14th.

RULES & REGULATIONS

This contest is open to residents of Ottawa and surrounding area (If you can pick up the prize in store, you can enter). The winner must be able to pick up the prize pack at the terra20 store at 2685 Iris St. Ottawa, Ontario K2C 3S4. One entry per household. Good Luck!

You can also visit terra20 on Facebook and Twitter for more great deals and information on their product line.

My Summertime Reading List and Subliminal Father’s Day Wish List

#cbias

As a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community, I was asked to pick out a few of my favourite Summer reads from Chapters and share them with you as part of a #cbias campaign. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client, Chapters.

Only in the past few years have I become more interested in the joys of reading. I realize that sounds weird coming from a grown man but I was so into sports and video games that I never really had time for it. Now with kids, age and gravity all changing the way I looked at the world, I decided to try it out and couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on.

I still remember the exact book that dragged me back from my Hardy Boys days and into and new era of appreciation for books. It was Mo Hayder’s “Birdman” and it is a gruesomely amazing detective thriller. The kind that you never want to put down and that wakes you with nightmares so realistic that you’d swear you were living it. I have read all of her books since and was excited to snag one of her newer ones, “Hanging Hill”, on my latest trip to Chapters.

#cbias

Since that first Mo Hayder book, I have been sampling every genre I can think of in order to find a few that fit. As it turns out, I haven’t been able to narrow down the field too much because there are so many incredible titles throughout all genres. If pressured, I could probably cut it down to murder mysteries and biographies but it would be painful to leave the others behind. The biographies have really been growing on me lately, especially after reading “Always Looking Up” by Michael J. Fox and “Home Game” by Michael Lewis.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I was excited to see that Chapters had dedicated three separate displays to books for Dad. On one of the displays I found what I believe to be a jewel in the rough, so to speak, in Mike Adamick’s “Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects”. I consider myself to be a novice crafter but this book looks to challenge me to step outside of my home made light sabers and to step up my game to the next level of Fatherhood!

#cbias

Not to be outdone, the kids love a good trip to Chapters as well because on top of the incredible play areas they have set up, they know that a book store is the one place where Daddy can’t say no to a new purchase. I’m not saying I bribe them but the promise of new reading material is an excellent way to get them to behave while Daddy shops for his literary needs.

#cbias

I have to admit that I may have gone a little overboard on my latest shopping trip but it’s a long summer and once I’m in the beach chair it’s really hard to convince me to get back out of it. Yeah, I’m kind of lazy, wanna fight about it? Sorry about that. Anyway, here is what my shopping bag full of summer reading looks like. Do you recognize any of these titles?

#cbias

Finally, I imagine that we all have a favourite place to read, whether it be in bed, on a park bench or on the beach, and I am no exception to that rule. There is nothing I love more than heading up to the cottage, grabbing a copy of Barbie’s Princess and the Popstar and curling up on a deck chair with my best gal.

#cbias

We had a great time on our shopping trip to Chapters and you can see everything I checked out, which includes my subliminal Father’s Day Wish List, over on my Google+ page! Also, I’d like to know, do you have a favourite genre, author or book? Give me your suggestions in the comments so I can expand my summer library. Happy Reading, My Friends!