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SAHD Guest Post

Best Vacation Ever! {Guest Post}

We have another guest post on the blog today! Please welcome Canadian father, Ingus, who is Toronto-area photographer and new dad, learning the fine art of parenting a new baby girl. You can read about his wacky adventures at Dad Mode On blog!

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“So you’re going to be off for five months, eh? You’ll have plenty of time to catch up on Netflix!”
“Five months? You’re going to be playing so much Call of Duty!”
“That’s a long time, won’t you get bored?”

Before going on my parental leave, that was the typical response I received when I told family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers that I was taking close to half a year off for the birth of our daughter.

I began to think that being a dad for the first time was going to be a sweet vacation. I mean, I won’t have to be with the baby all the time, right?

I can binge watch a little, work on that photography project that I wanted to do for years, or play videogames like I did when I was a teenager.

This is going to be an awesome, awesome vacation!

Then on Christmas night- as cliché as it can be – our 7lbs 14oz bundle of joy arrived.

And in an instant, all of those silly thoughts disappeared.

I’m sure many of you parents can agree, the first month is a write-off. Your mind, body, and soul belongs to your new little blob. You can also agree that, though the first month is difficult for dad, it is 100 times more difficult for the new mom.

For my wife and I, we made use of the fact that I was going to be off for five months by ensuring that I would be as involved as possible.

We made sure that I was earning every single moment of this vacation.

The truth is, though my job and Employment Insurance (Go Canada!) allowed me to take more time than most others, we are still taking a hit financially to make it work. Not all families have this option, and I can understand the raised eyebrows when people learn how much time I’m taking off.

Of course, there are those who go a little further and undermine the decision that I’ve made, as they are perhaps even little jealous of my situation. Through their eyes, they see me as some lucky dude who has the luxury of taking five months off as a vacation.

However.

They don’t understand that when you’re off on parental leave, it’s not a vacation and that you also become more involved and accountable for your growing family unit. They don’t see the side where you are immediately available to take your wife and baby to the Emergency Room; or where you are able to call an ambulance in the middle of the night without having to tell your boss you won’t be in; or where you don’t have to ask a co-worker to cover for you after speaking to a telehealth nurse about your daughter’s fever.

They don’t see those things, and I suppose it may be my fault for only showing the good side. To them they only see the fruits of the work I put in – you know, those silly photos, status updates that I post on social media. The thing is this was not me bragging about my situation, this was just me relishing the hard earned vacation I was having.

SAHD Guest Post 2

I love (and am loving) every minute of it. If we have another kid and if it were financially feasible, I will no doubt choose to take the same or more time off.

You see, there’s also an added benefit to being there from the get-go: I am damn confident in my dad abilities.

She needs a changing after front and back poop… in the dark? Boom. Done.
She’s wearing button-on shirt today, with jeans and socks? Boom. Done.
She won’t burp? Burp. Done.
Mom needs to go out all day to help a friend? Done, and I’ll have dinner ready by six.

There’s no better feeling than to feel confident and competent as a father and husband. I sincerely feel that had I taken only a few weeks off, I don’t think I would feel the way that I feel right now.

Every day I am rewarded with something new from my daughter. Whether it was her first smile, first laugh, or most recently her first babbling conversation: I’m here to witness it.

And there’s no better thing in the world, and it was simply the best decision I ever made.

Now with two months left to go on my parental leave, it truly does feel like a vacation. Instead of binge-watching Netflix, I binge-watch my daughter figuring out the world. Instead of playing video games at night, I play how do we get her to sleep through the night.

I truly do not want it to end, as it really has become an awesome, awesome vacation.

SAHD Guest Post 3

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.

Dance Like No One Is Watching

Do You Dance?

Weird question, I know, but allow me to elaborate. I was outside watching my kids play this weekend when I felt the sudden urge to break out the whip, nae, nae dance I have been hooked on lately. Two of my 10 year old neighbours happened to catch my sweet dance moves and immediately complimented me on my efforts. Of course by “complimented” I meant shrieked in embarrassed horror and told me to stop… Naturally, I continued dancing while following them around the street in hopes of embarrassing them in front of their friends.

It got me thinking about how much joy I get out of dancing even though my skills are sorely lacking. I’m not kidding either, I love to dance! The first thing I think about when we get invited to a wedding, even before the food, is what moves I’m going to display when “Uptown Funk” inevitably comes on. I like to take “dance like no one is watching” to a new level and love that my kids seem to be adopting this motto as well. I have even contemplated joining an adult hip hop dance class so I can hone my skills a bit. Granted, there will be no Magic Mike performances in my future, XXL or other, but you’re never too old to learn something new and fun, right? Plus I’m pretty sure there have been studies that show dancing improves your happiness levels and general overall well being. I say pretty sure because I am a blogger, not some fancy research person…

My 5 year old daughter recently asked me if I would learn a dance routine with her so that we could make a video of it. She thinks it’s hilarious to watch home videos and I think it’s hilarious to watch her watching home videos so I have, of course, accepted her challenge. I am oddly nervous about it though, which caught me a bit by surprise. I don’t know if deep down I’m worried about my performance or if I’m afraid that my daughter will someday use this video to blackmail me but my cold feet have already begun. Either way, this video is happening and the only decision I will need to make is whether to share it with all of you or not. Ellen, here we come??

That brings me back to my original question of, do you dance?? If so, what kind of dancer are you? Are you a shower dancer? A toe tapper? Or, are you full on dancing with me to the elevator music in the grocery store checkout line? If you have pictures of video of you dancing, even better! Feel free to send them along and I’ll gladly share them for you. In the meantime, DANCE ON, my friends!!!

Cool Gifts Dad Fathers Day

9 Gifts Dad Would Love To Receive This Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is right around the corner and that means it’s that time of year where my family ignores my request of not getting me anything and present me with some very cool personalized gifts. I actually love that they don’t go the traditional route of just getting me a new tie and actually put some thought into the gifts they give. Anyone who has ever seen their child’s face light up with excitement as they watch you open their personalized gift knows what I’m talking about.

It got me thinking about all the cool little shops out there that help people like myself come up with great personalized gifts and then I stumbled onto Etsy and got lost for hours in a sea of very cool custom gifts. It was so cool that I decided to make a list of the Top 9 things I would love to receive as gifts for Father’s Day. I hope you enjoy the list and please feel free to let me know what you do for your husband/father for Father’s Day!

9. Custom Softball Art

Etsy Custom Softball Art

This one is kind of sentimental for me as my father and I had a very strong bond in large part due to playing softball.

8. Superhero Art

Superhero Art

This one is kind of selfish but I love anything superhero related and it’s nice to pretend sometimes!

7. Custom Watercolor Art

Custom Watercolor Art

This one was just so cool and different that I had to include it on the list. I would love to hang this in my office.

6. Hero Dad Desk Block

Dad Hero Block

Are we back to the hero theme? Yes. Do I feel bad? Nope!

5. Master & Apprentice Shirts

Master Apprentice Shirt

This one is kind of self explanatory, no?

4. Custom Wallet Insert/Keychain

Custom Wallet Insert Keychain

I keep my wallet pretty lean and this is one of the coolest original gifts I’ve seen. See what I did there?

3. Custom Beer Carrier/Opener

Custom Beer Carrier Opener

If you’ve ever carried three beers over to your neighbour’s house, you’d understand why this is so cool.

2. Personalized Scotch Glass & Case

Custom Scotch Glass Dad

I was sold on this one based on the case alone, so to get an amazing custom glass with it is outstanding!

1. Kids Art on Mug

Custom Kids Art Mug

I’m actually so excited to walk around my office with my kids at on a mug that I may buy this before Father’s Day!

I hope you enjoyed my list and possibly grabbed an idea or two for your own husband or father. Please note before you buy anything that these are Etsy affiliate links but I hand picked all of these things because I love them and any purchases you make help support these great home made businesses. Happy Early Father’s Day!

C

GoodLife Begin DadFit

Project #DadFit – New Beginnings

Here we are again at this old familiar territory. Things were looking up for a while. I ran my first official 5K, was working out and running 5-6 days a week and even started eating healthier. I had never felt better in my life, mentally and physically, but I have let it all slip through my fingers. Now I sit here on the couch watching Real Housewives of (insert city here) because I’m too lazy to bother looking for the remote control, and I am not proud of myself at all.

All is not lost, however. I have faltered and regained footing before and I know that I can do it again. In fact, my new beginning starts today! My family were excited to welcome a video crew from GoodLife Fitness to our house this month so that I could share my story and struggles with staying fit. It’s not always easy to talk about our shortcomings but I do so with the hope that it will inspire me to work harder and possibly strike a chord in others who are dealing with the same struggles.

The GoodLife Fitness video is about Beginnings and I am really happy with how it turned out. Today is Monday, April 27th and on top of being my daughter’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Baby) this is the day that I begin my journey to a better me.

Halloween Candy Not Healthy

Project #DadFit – The Long and Winding Road

To say that I have been struggling lately would be a gross understatement. What started as an ambitious attempt to sculpt myself into a model of fitness, has now become a weekly struggle to even pack my gym bag. I’d love to blame Halloween for this but it started well before that.

The funny thing is that I was doing so well. I was 6 weeks in to my workouts, completed my first 5k run and had started eating better on a daily basis. Then we got some bad news, which had me working longer hours, followed by some even worse news and then I let the whole thing slip away. As it stands, I have not worked out in over two weeks and my nutrition level is at a zero, unless coffee and pizza have some sort of nutritional value.

Now, this is NOT a ‘woe is me’ post and in fact, it is quite the opposite. As I sat on my couch last night, drinking a beer, eating leftover Halloween candy and generally feeling disgusting, I remembered what it felt like when I crossed the finish line at the Army Run and how great it felt after completing my first week of the P90X3 program, and I immediately got up, packed my gym bag and left it at the front door.

Life dishes out all kinds of different scenarios and it is up to us to choose how we are going to handle them. In this instance, I have decided to choose my health over feeling sorry for myself. There is no failing, there is only road blocks to navigate until you get to the next check point and I intend to get there running.

Dad Kids Goofy

Fatherhood

“Daddy, can I have ice cream?”, my 4 year old daughter asked, at ten in the morning while in the checkout line at Costco.
“Hmmmm, I guess so”, I replied. She was home from school because of a fever the previous day, so I figured we could both use the treat.
“HOORAY! You’re the best daddy ever!!”, she shouted as she hugged me in the middle of the store.

While I’m not sure that most people would award me the “Best Daddy Ever” trophy after feeding my child an ice cream cone at ten in the morning, it certainly made me feel special. Plus, no one else knew why she screamed that, so I just pretended that I bought her a pony or something. The point here is that as each day goes by, I get a greater sense of how lucky I am to call myself a father to these two amazing kids.

There are so many times in the day that I catch myself awestruck with their many quirks and qualities. Even the smallest things can strike me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Hearing my daughter sing along to a song when she thinks no one else is around, knowing that if she saw me she would surely stop. Watching my son bond with his new hockey teammates in a setting that would make most adults cringe with fear.

Life can be friggin’ hard, man. You have to worry about money, time, health and everything else that being an adult and parent brings. Being a father is the thing that saves me from my own mind and lets me focus on the fact that there are two little people that need me to be a man for them so they can grow into their full potential. How can you think about financial struggles when your daughter wants to shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off? Who has time to beat themselves up over skipping a workout when you and your son are engaged in an epic Pokemon battle?! Not me.

Any time I lose focus on what’s important in life, my kids are always there to remind me with open arms, and for that I feel extremely lucky.

Canadian Dad Podcast - Jeff Bogle

Canadian Dad Podcast – Ep. 4 – Writer & Kindie Music Expert, Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle from OWTK.com joins me on th podcast to talk about the importance of giving our children a taste of a variety of different art forms, especially when it comes to the type of music we listen to. 

There is a while kindie music scene outside of the Frozen soundtrack and the Wheel on the Bus and Jeff takes us through some of the best in the business. He also offers his services in helping you find a kindie band that blends your genre of music with topics that kids can really understand. 

I also strongly enoucrage you to check out Jeff’s podcast on iTunes, The OWTK Kid’s Music Monthly Podcast.

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.