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Dad Kids Goofy

I’m Feeling Pretty Lucky Today

“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 - Mike Reynolds

Canadian Dad Podcast – Ep. 5 – Children’s Author, Mike Reynolds

This week I spoke to father, children’s book author, podcaster and writer, Mike Reynolds from PuzzlingPosts.com. We discuss Mike’s weekend at Beau’s Oktoberfest and I give plenty of love to the organizers of the Blissdom Canada conference, where I was a panellist during a podcasting session this past weekend.

Mike talks about his children’s books, “Daddy, Fly” and “The One Green Dinosaur”, that he co-wrote with his young daughter. He also talks about other ways to be creative with your kids and how great their little minds truly can be.

Don’t forget to say hi to Mike on Twitter,@PuzzlingPostDad

Enjoy the Show!

1st Day of School

School Life is Much Easier When You Have Great Teachers

My daughter started in school for the first time this year and my wife and I weren’t sure how she was going to do with the transition from home life to full day Kindergarten. The playground is a busy place with a lot of kids and it can be an intimidating sight for a newcomer. We were pleasantly surprised when on her first day, she strode into the playground, head high and confident, and never looked back.

The sigh of relief was short lived, however, as the next day’s drop off didn’t go exactly according to plan. The day after that was no better as I was forced to walk away while my daughter clenched the fence, crying and screaming, “No, Daddy! Don’t go!!!” It took every ounce of strength I had to not turn around and go back to her but I managed to make it out of the schoolyard. Unfortunately, against all conventional wisdom, I decided to hide behind a plant to make sure she was alright before I left. In my tunnel visioned state, I didn’t notice that I had been spotted by one of my daughter’s teachers, who calmly smiled at me and assured me that she was in good hands.

Later that day, we got an email from her main teacher, letting us know that she was doing really well and that she was smiling and playing with all her new friends. These are just two examples of the amazing teachers we have had the pleasure of dealing with since our children have been in school and we feel very lucky to have them. Something as simple as an email or a letter home to relay how things are going goes a long way towards putting us at ease as parents.

On top of having great teachers, my wife and I like to stay up to date on what’s going on in the world of education by hanging out on the Ontario College of Teachers website. I realize that this may not sound like your idea of a rockin’ good time but their newsletter, The Standard, is an amazing resource that talks about everything from special programs to trends in education.

The College’s website itself is a great resource as well that has things such as a Find a Teacher, the College’s Public Register, that allows you to search for your child’s teacher to see their schooling and previous experience, including certification as all teachers must be certified to teach in Ontario’s publicly funded primary and secondary schools. The website also has a Public Awareness Initiative to raise awareness of the free resources the College provides to parents.

At minimum, I would recommend subscribing to College’s ‘The Standard’ newsletter and then taking it from there. I have always believed in “The More You Know” philosophy and there is a ton of very practical information on the Ontario College of Teachers website. You can also catch up with them on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Stay knowledgeable, my friends!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

Boston Pizza Kids Card

Boston Pizza Kids Cards Available Now For a Limited Time!

Being a single income family, we don’t get a chance to go out to eat at restaurants too often. When we do go out as a family, the kids choose Boston Pizza 100% of the time. This has been going on ever since they got the mini pizza boxes as their “keep the kids occupied so mommy and daddy can have a conversation” toy about two years ago. The prices have always been reasonable and it is the only restaurant in the universe where the kids will finish their plates.

But before we get to the point of this post, which is all about the children, I would like to selfishly add that the first time I had the bacon wrapped steak skewers from Boston Pizza, I melted into my seat and then couldn’t think of anything else until the next time I had them, which was only a few days later… I am so weak.

Back to the children! There is nothing I love more than the ability to save some money, so I am excited to announce that from now until November 2nd, you can purchase a $5 Boston Pizza Kids Card in store or by visiting BostonPizza.com. Your $5 donation gets you 5 FREE Kids Meals ($35 Value), with all proceeds going to Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, a program that works in partnership with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, JDRF, Kids Help Phone, Live Different and the Rick Hansen Foundation to mentor kids and help them reach their full potential.

Psst, if you register your Kids Card with your MyBP account, you’ll get a 6th free kids meal ;)

About the Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects

Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects
Boston Pizza believes that strong role models inspire kids to be great. That’s why in 2014 Boston Pizza Foundation created Future Prospects to focus our efforts and help support youth in our communities and across the country in partnership with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kids Help Phone, JDRF, Live Different and other programs that mentor kids to reach their full potential.

Every child has the ability to make a difference in the world, and at Boston Pizza we value how important positive role models and mentors are in a young person’s ability to reach their dreams. Through Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects and our partnering organizations, we will work together to ensure ALL kids have the opportunity to have a positive mentor or role model to help support, guide and empower them to become all that they can be.

BPF Future Prospects is proud to support four charities on a national level: JDRF, Kids Help Phone, Live Different and Big Brothers Big Sisters. We also support a host of other deserving charities throughout Canada and abroad.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in spreading the word about these awesome kids cards. I used th money to purchase kids cards…and bacon wrapped steak skewers!

View From Run

206. The Story Of My Potentially Broken Scale

206. I looked down in disbelief at what I was seeing. 206. It sounds more like someone’s apartment number than what my weight should be. 206! This scale must be broken… After all, I have already written a number of times about how I was finally committing to creating a better, healthier life for myself, and saying it makes it so, right? Apparently it takes more than words to make something so, which means I am back to the drawing board.

I make these commitments often enough that you’d think I’d have figured out how to work around my own mind at this point, but I haven’t. It took me 5 years to finally quit smoking, and if I’m being honest I still haven’t gotten the little voice out of my head. Exercise and healthy eating is proving to be an ever bigger obstacle for me, mostly because two of my favourite things are eating and sitting/lying down. I’ve also learned that trying to change too many things all at once is definitely detrimental to my end goal, so I am taking things slow.

That said, I have started alternating running and weight training 5-6 days a week and have lasted a month and a half so far, which is good for me. I even signed up for the 5K race in the Canada Army Run to keep myself motivated and I’m finding that I am actually excited about the upcoming adventure. I think the difference this time around is that I am truly unhappy with the way I look and feel most of the time. I’m achy, tired, my clothes don’t fit and there aren’t a lot of clothing places that cater to short dudes with round bellies. If I don’t do something now, I’m scared that I never will.

Most importantly, however, I have been having trouble keeping up with my growing children and that makes me sadder than all of the above reasons combined. I don’t want to be the dad that can’t play road hockey with his son because he needs to take a break every 2 minutes, or the guy who can’t practice a dance routine with his daughter because I am carrying too much weight to keep up. I refuse to allow my children to see me as this shell of my former self and am hoping that this time around, I can stick to it. If all that wasn’t motivation enough, my 6 year old son came running with me the other day and said “Dad, I love to come running with you because I like having daddy son time”. How do I quit after hearing that?

I don’t write this story so that you will shower me with congratulations or encouragement. I do it for a couple of reasons. First, writing and talking about it is a strong motivator for me. Also, I think there are a lot of people like me out there. People who start something with a strong passion for it, only to watch it fade away without a second glance. I want to show those people that failing once or twice or five times doesn’t mean it’s over. As long as you are breathing, you have the chance to make a difference in your own lifestyle and you should seize that opportunity. You know, YOLO, and all that stuff!

I have no idea what is going to happen with my latest attempt at creating a better situation for myself but I know that I am more motivated than ever and at least that is a step in the right direction.

Cottage Life

Serenity Now

The waves crashed into the rocks on the shore. In the distance a low flying plane rumbled by. The squirrels and seagulls congregate on the beach to discuss the day’s happenings while I sat quietly on the deck, enjoying my coffee and the serenity of being the only one awake. I’m not usually this chipper to be the first one out of bed but then again, this isn’t my usual morning view. I watched the animals run around and wondered if they actually communicate with each other, but only because there was no one else for me to talk to.

The day will soon be filled with sand castles, beaches, games and laughter, but for now it is as peaceful as you could ever imagine. Almost an hour goes by before the first sounds arrive. The very familiar “Hi-Ya!” sound of Michelangelo, to be exact. The ninja turtle, not the artist. I often wonder if my son was destined to someday become a ninja turtle with the amount of time he spends acting out scenes.

“Hi Daddy”
“Hey buddy, did you have a good sleep?” I’m not the least bit upset by his presence. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve had my quiet time and it was more than enough serenity to recharge my mind.
“Yes. Do you want to play soccer with me?” He hasn’t been awake 10 minutes and he has already begun planning out our day together. We played barefoot soccer in our PJ’s before retiring for breakfast with the rest of the family.

As expected, the day was action packed and full of laughs. We left paradise that day and returned home to our own beds and busy lives, but held on to the new memories that were created. Now, whenever life hands me that overwhelming feeling it sometimes does, I simply shut down all my devices, close my eyes and picture the waves and the coffee and playing soccer barefoot in my PJ’s.

TMNT Craft

The Ninja Turtle Heard Round The World

Well, now you’ve all gone and done it, internet. My poor, innocent young boy, who knew nothing of the internet is now a raging attention seeker looking for his next fix. Every night before bed time, my kids get between 30 minutes to an hour of creative time in their rooms. This can include doing crafts, colouring, dancing, singing or whatever, as long it is something creative. The other night, my son decided to practice his scissor skills and made this very cool Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Leonardo craft.

He told me it was for my desk at work, an offer which he has since rescinded, and I was so impressed that I shared it on all my social networks. In passing, I mentioned to him that you guys liked it too and told him it had garnered 30 “Likes” in under a half an hour, plus read him a few of the comments. Had I known what his reaction to this was going to be, I probably would have just left it alone. In the next thirty minutes, he asked me how many people liked it over 3,000 times (numbers may be exaggerated) and like a rookie I checked every time.

Canadian Dad TMNT

When the picture reached 70 likes I jokingly told him he was internet famous, to which he replied, “I know, it’s because I make great stuff”… Monster. Created. Not one to make his living off one work of art, my son then proceeded to create the rest of the ninja turtle team, and then quickly asked me to take a picture of it so he could see how many people would like it on the computer. I took the picture but told him we needed to wait a couple days to avoid turtle burnout.

That brings us to today. His newest work is shown in the header of this post and seeing as how you are the ones who created this monster by liking his original work, I figured that you should probably leave a comment here telling him what you think of his complete collection of ninja turtles. I mean, do you really want to break his little heart?

Brookstreet Hotel Family Buzz

A Weekend To Remember At The Brookstreet Hotel. See Also: How To Tire Out Your Kids!

Last weekend my family and I stayed at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata, Ontario. Being from the area, I had always attributed the Brookstreet to being on the fancier side and as such, it had never occurred to me to take the kids there for one of our local mini vacations. Well, this weekend definitely changed my mind about that, over and over again. PS – Before I get started, you can check out all our photos from the weekend by heading over to this Google+ Album.

Before the kids arrived to stay with us, however, my wife and I had the luxury of spending the first night at the hotel on our own. We started off our stay with a couples massage in the serene Au Naturel Spa that set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Relaxed and sans children, we took a long stroll around the hotel and the attached Marshes golf course, before heading to the Options Jazz Lounge for dinner and entertainment. The dinner was incredible and the Pram Trio Jazz Band was even better as we enjoyed grown up drinks next to the amazing red piano that acts as the centerpiece of the lounge.

Brookstreet Options Jazz Piano

Seriously, with the number of amazing packages that the Brookstreet Hotel offers, from couples and golfers to families and rejuvenation, there is literally something for everybody. Refreshed and relaxed, my wife and I picked up the kids for day two of our adventure and the rest, as they say, is history!

When we arrived back at the hotel the kids were greeted with loot bags that were filled with colouring books, crayons, games room token and a new water bottle that could be refilled for free at the Options Jazz Lounge with water, milk, juices or soft drinks throughout our entire stay. Needless to say, this alone would have been enough for our kids but the fun was just beginning! When we read through this list of weekend activities for the kids to do, we knew they were in for an amazing time.

Kids Activities Brookstreet

We started with the Brookstreet’s “B Crafty” session, where we coloured and then made butterflies and Despicable Me minions out of toilet paper rolls. There were staff running the activities and helping all the kids with their crafts, which was perfect. The kids had a blast and are still playing with their toilet paper toys a week later! After about an hour of fun with the activities, we decided to check out both the indoor and outdoor pools. Both pools have a dedicated kids section, which is a nice touch for everyone who wants to enjoy the facilities. I try not to take too many pictures in public pools because, you know, “weird guy with a camera”, but believe me when I say that I had to drag the kids out of those pools…

Brookstreet Kids Crafts Activity

After swimming we attended the “Kids Kulinary Mini Pizzas” session, where the kids got to design, decorate and then eat their own mini pizzas. Lucky for me, my daughter wasn’t hungry so I got to eat her pizza. Win! Right after the pizza fun was finished, we were joined by the Brookstreet’s new mascot, Buzz (pictured above), who brought freezies for the kids and then posed for some pictures. This was followed by an hour or so in the massive games room, where I showed my wife what it looks like when you win at mini basketball ;) The kids loved the games room, which had a little movie theater, video games and other games for all ages.

By now, you can probably see where this story is going. There seemed to be a never ending supply of things for the family to do together and we weren’t even close to being done yet. We had a wonderful dinner on the patio at Perspectives Restaurant, which has a full kids menu, and then made our way to the fire pit, where the hotel had set up a s’mores station for the kids. We roasted marshmallows, smashed them together with chocolate inside a graham cracker and stuffed our faces! Again, in the lucky department, my son only wanted to roast marshmallows, so I got to enjoy his delicious s’mores.

Brookstreet Pizza Smores

Then something happened that has never happened before. My kids were so tired from all the fun they’d had that day, that they asked to go to bed. Seriously, they’ve never done this before. Miracle! Unfortunately (no, really, very fortunately) the Brookstreet had one more surprise for the kids when they got back to the room…

MILK & COOKIES!!!!!

Brookstreet Milk Cookies

I can’t think of a better way to cap off a great weekend than with milk & cookies for all kids that stay at the hotel! Oh wait, we actually capped it off with the giant brunch in the Perspectives Restaurant before we left on Sunday. I went into our stay thinking that the kids would be bored, and came out of it with our new “Go-To” local destination. The staff were all amazing to the kids as well and made them feel like part of the family. I highly encourage you to check out the Brookstreet’s Family Package, along with all the other great and affordable packages they have to offer. This was definitely a weekend to remember and we will be back for sure!

Disclosure: We stayed as guests of the Brookstreet Hotel in order to see how much they have changed to accommodate children and we were thoroughly impressed at every turn. None of the staff knew who we were and we were treated with nothing but respect and gratitude by every employee we encountered. Also, I ate some of the kids’ cookies when they weren’t looking. So what?

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.

Kindergarten Playground

A Moment In Time

Amidst the chaos in the fenced off kindergarten playground, I watched him quietly shovel sand into his bucket. If there has even been a time where I could ignore my surroundings and focus on a singular event like he was, I certainly can’t remember it. I realized today that I am lucky to have had the opportunity to hang around to watch him play and interact with potential new friends. Next year he will be thrust into the real world that is grade 1, where his school life will truly begin.

One of the most important things that being a parent has taught me is how to stop and enjoy a moment in time. This was going to be one of the last times that I would be able to watch him interact in the school yard and I was going to soak up every last second of it. At one point he glances over and flashes a smile my way. I played it totally cool, while my emotions raced with a thousand memories of his youth. It’s a lot harder to let go than I imagined it would be. He’s sheltered right now, with kids his own age, oblivious to what awaits beyond the steel gates of the kindergarten sanctuary. Soon he will learn about bullies, girls, structure and peer pressure, and I worry about whether I given him all the tools he needs to make the right decisions. Time will tell, I guess.

What I do know, is that I still have four months left with my kindergartner and I have no intention of rushing through that time. We’ll worry about bigger kids and heartbreak when we get to it, but for now, we’ve got some memories to create.