2015 Canadian Dad Holiday Gift Guide

Canadian Dad’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide ~ Kids Edition!

Welcome to the 2015 edition of the Canadian Dad Holiday Gift Guide! This guide is all things that my kids have put on their Christmas lists and I’m excited to share them with you! Please take a look at what’s hot in their eyes this year and feel free to leave your child’s wish list in the comments section. Happy Holidays!!

Furreal Friends Daisy Plays With Me Kitty Hasbro



Furreal Friends Daisy Plays-With-Me Kitty

My daughter is obsessed with Hasbro’s Furreal Friends at the moment. She walks her Furreal dog more than most people walk real dogs and I’m guessing the Daisy Plays With Me Kitty will be no different.

You can grab your very own Furreal Friend by visiting Toys R Us!

Hasbro Playmation Marvel Avengers Starter Pack Gamma Gear

Playmation Marvel Avengers Starter Pack

It would be a lie to say that I am not as excited as my son is about Disney’s Playmation. This is the closest we will ever get to becoming actual superheroes and that’s more than good for us! Power Activators bring missions to life with over 20 different enemies so you can fight along side your favourite Avengers!

For more information on the Playmation Marvel Avengers Starter Pack, visit Hasbro’s Website!

LEGO Creator Toy & Grocery Shop LEGO Creator Toy & Grocery Shop

LEGO just feels like a childhood rite of passage, doesn’t it? Both of my kids spend hours creating the most amazing things and take special pride in the creations they come up with in their own heads. That said, it’s always nice to start with a fresh set and my daughter has asked us for this LEGO Creator Toy & Grocery Shop so her LEGO Friends have somewhere to buy food…
LEGO Ninjago Ronin R.E.X.

LEGO Ninjago Ronin R.E.X.

Back to LEGO for a minute, my son and his friends love LEGO Ninjago so much that they’ve even started to play it outside with the actual LEGO. They each pretend to be a character and run around the yard completing missions. My son’s favourite character, Kai, is a part of this very cool LEGO Ninjago Ronin R.E.X. set he has asked for this Christmas.
Maplelea Sparkling Ice Taryn

Maplelea Sparkling Ice Taryn

My daughter’s Maplelea doll, Taryn, may just be her favourite thing on the planet right now. She brings it everywhere she goes and treats it as if it is her own child, which is really fun to watch. This year she has asked us for some new outfits and seeing as how she is just learning to skate, we got her the Sparkling Ice outfit, which comes with the dress, tights, scrunchie, skates, skating bag and more. She is seriously going to flip out when she opens it!

Visit Maplelea’s Website for more information
My Amazing Penpal

My Amazing Penpal

This one is one of the more unique things you will find this year and my kids have loved it so far! Your kids get a new package every month and it leads them on adventures through various countries where they’ll learn about its traditions, foods, animals and much more! My kids also love the online games available with their memberships. 

Visit the My Amazing Penpal Website for details!
Mattel Monster High 17 Inch Tall Freak Du Chic Gooliope Jellington Doll

Monster High 17 Inch Tall Freak Du Chic Gooliope Jellington

Where was Monster High when I was a kid? This is my daughter’s newest love and I can’t say I’m upset about it. Just look at Goolliope Jellington for instance. She is a circus orphan that oozes, literally, chic! The best part is that my daughter lets me be more creative with Monster High than she does with her less undead doll collections…

Check out the entire collection over on Mattel’s Website!
Kidizoom Action Cam

Kidizoom Action Cam

Probably the gift I am most excited to give my kids this year is the Kidizoom Action Cam from Vtech. My kids love making videos and while my old digital camera has been great for them, this action cam is going to open so many possibilities for them and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Just picture seeing what your kid sees while playing hockey or even just playing outside with their friends. It’s going to be a blast!

For more info on the Kidizoom Action Cam visit the Vtech Canada Website
New PLAYMOBIL NHL Hockey Theme

New PLAYMOBIL NHL Hockey Theme

We are officially a hockey crazy house so anytime I can get my hands on NHL licensed toys that will actually get played with, I jump at the chance. Playmobil’s new hockey themed arena lets my son imagine that he is in the NHL and winning the Stanley Cup as the Montreal Canadiens! What? It’s going to happen eventually! Anyway, this promises to provide hours and hours of hockey fun!

Check out the Playmobil Website for products, colouring sheets and online games!
Sphero Darkside Ollie

Sphero Darkside Ollie

If you haven’t seen a Sphero toy in action yet you should go check it out right now. These tiny machines are controlled by you on your smartphone or tablet and have a ton of tricks that you can make them do. I like to call toys like these “friend-makers” because all the kids will gather around when your child plays with Ollie. 

For more info and demo videos, check out the Sphero Website
Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack

Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack

We’ve been huge Skylanders fans in this house since before Skylanders was cool! Adding vehicles into the mix has brought the game to a new level for my son and he hasn’t stopped playing it since getting it for his birthday. Now if only someone could explain to me how Kaos keeps getting away…

Check out the Skylanders SuperChargers Website for more info!

That’s it for this year’s edition of the holiday gift guide! Please feel free to share in the comments what your kids are asking for this year. It never hurts to have a few more ideas under your cap!

Disclosure: I received a few of the items in this gift guide but all items included are things my children have actually asked for this year.

Are We There Yet

Are We There Yet??

You know, I used to think it was a myth. Something our parents joked about in the same way that they had walked to school barefoot and uphill, both ways, in the snow! After a summer of road tripping with the kids I can now confirm that, “Are We There Yet?”, is not only a real thing but it seems to be my children’s favourite question.

I’m never really sure how I’m supposed to answer this question in a way that stops it from being asked again so I decided to ask you, the reader, what you say to your kids when they inevitably spit it out. I have compiled your responses and this is what you came up with. For those of you with more thoughts on the subject, please feel free to leave them in the comments section!

I say “Yes, we’re there. We’ve been there for 10 minutes. See Grandma right there? Why are you still in the car?” ~ Gina

We did a lot of driving this summer. At one point I truthfully replied “we will be there in 14 hours”…the honesty didn’t go over super well. ~ Jennifer K

I find myself responding like Papa Smurf “Not far now” “Not to much farther” and then “It’s far, very far” ~ Chantal

When you and your brother were little..we would say 3 hours! Seemed to work for you ~ My Mom…

We like to put on the gps and they can see the arrival time therefore it has quieted the are there yet questions ~ Teresa

“We literally just left the house fourteen seconds ago.” ~Lori Anne

“No.” ~ Jennifer P

I want to thank everyone who took the time to contribute an answer to my conundrum. I will likely slip back into my smart alec ways but it’s good to know that there are other options out there!

In an effort to ease the stress of the never ending “Are We There Yet” chant, I wanted to give you the opportunity to have your vehicle’s gas, maintenance and insurance all paid for a full year by entering the Schick “Drive Free For A Year” contest!! All you need to do to enter is click on the previously mentioned link, follow the easy steps and Schick could be paying your gas, insurance and depreciation for a whole year! You can also visit the @FreeYourSkinCA Twitter handle for more specials and details about the contest. *Drops Mic*

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Drive Free program.

Kids Dad Video Games

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

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

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

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

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

Daughter Globetrotter

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

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

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

Barilla Easy Spaghetti Prep

Easy Barilla Spaghetti For Your Picky Eaters

I’m always surprised by the number of families who make two totally different meals at dinner time. This is usually because the kids won’t eat the food the parents are eating and, not wanting them to starve, a second meal is created. I don’t say this to judge, as I have been in this boat myself. I mention it because instead of creating a completely different meal we simply started finding meals where we could individually tweak the ingredients to make everyone happy.

One of the first meals we tried this with was with our famous Spaghetti Sunday! What? Don’t pretend you don’t name your days after the food you will be eating! Where was I?? Oh yeah, the spaghetti! You see, my wife and I love spaghetti but the kids have never liked spaghetti sauce. This has left us either avoiding making it altogether or with two empty bowls and two full bowls when we do prepare it. Instead of going the two dinner route, my wife came up with a brilliant plan.

Barilla Spaghetti

Looks Plain; Tastes Delicious!

Instead of putting the sauce on the kids Barilla spaghetti noodles, she simply added a little bit of butter/margarine and some parmesan cheese. I have never seen children eat a meal faster than my kids did that day. They even asked for seconds! Seconds I tell you! Just so you don’t think, “that’s all?!”, I should also mention that we included a salad and garlic bread to round out the meal. I realize this may not sound like much, especially to you wizards whose children eat everything you put in front of them, but this was a big breakthrough for us because it changed our mindset about dinner time. We had been stuck in a spot where it was either two separate dinners or make the kids starve to make a point, neither of which were good options.

On top of this new development, we have really been encouraging the kids to help out with the meal preparation and they are both really starting to love it. The great thing about the spaghetti meal is that they can pretty much do all the work aside from lifting the heavy pot, so they really feel like they are making their own meals. So, what are you waiting for? Stop slaving over two meals and get your kids involved experimenting with different combinations. At the very least you’ll end up creating some really fun family memories!

Barilla Easy Spaghetti

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Barilla Share The Table campaign. Barilla was kind enough to send us some pasta for our experiments and I couldn’t be happier that they did!

Sprinkler Summer

What To Do Now That Summer Is Finally Here!

We don’t live in one of those fancy cities where it is sunny and hot all year long. No, first we must make it through a mostly fun but always way too long winter season. Well, none of that matters now because summer is officially here and we are already off to a blazing start! I want to know what your favourite summer activities, events and destinations are so that I can steal them and make them my own, so please feel free to share them in the comments section below. That said, I figured I’d get the ball rolling by sharing some of my family’s favourite summertime activities!

Fairs/Community BBQs

After attending our community’s summer kick-off BBQ this past weekend I remembered how much I love the warm weather and the ability to ditch the sweater and grab some shorts and a t-shirt. The warm weather definitely affects my mood in the best possible way, as witness by the fact that I climbed into a bubble suit and let a bunch of 7 years take running shots at me.

Summer Fairs Carnival

Pool Parties

Now that the DadBod is the coolest thing going, I have even more reason to take the family to as many pool parties as I can this year. On top of that, I love watching the pride in my children’s eyes as they learn to swim without their floaties. As with every other aspect of parenting, these are moments that I hope I can hold on to forever.

Summer Canonball

Road Hockey

Let me tell you something about the girl in this picture. Anything you can do, she will try to do it better. Road hockey is a daily event at our place (yes, we’re Canadian) and even though she’s the smallest of the bunch, she is also the most tenacious. You can get by her once but don’t you dare try the same move twice!

Road Hockey Summer

Bike Rides

I am proud to say that we have seen our last set of training wheels as both kids are now rocking the two wheelers. Sure, they still have the Avengers and Elsa plastered all over them but that isn’t going to hold us back from taking long rides to the ice cream shop this summer.

Biking Summer

The Greatest Lemonade Stand Ever!

A Lemonade Stand is a staple in any childhood, and do you know what can take your stand from good to great this summer?? Stocking your stand with the NEW! Tropicana Watermelon and Tropicana Lemonade with Tangerine, that’s what! Throw in the traditional Tropicana Lemonade to the mix and you will have the most diverse Lemonade Stand than anyone on the block. Furthermore, all three delicious varieties are made with real fruit and without any artificial ingredients. I’m not sure what you are still waiting for, the new Tropicana line is available at major grocery retailers across Canada, so get moving!

New Tropicana Flavours Lemonade

That brings me back to my original question. What are your favourite summertime activities?

Disclosure: I received compensation for my participation in Tropicana’s campaign, however my Lemonade stand brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, it’s better than yours.

Kids Video Camera

Two Kids, Their Toys And A Video Camera

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

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

Kinder Surprise Easter

Hop, Hop, Hop Little Bunnies

It’s that time of year again where I get to go digging through the basement for the box labelled “Easter”. Then I get all dressed up in my bunny costume so I can play the game where my kids believe a fictional rabbit hides chocolate all over the place. It’s not for everyone but we have a good time with it and the kids excitement that morning make it totally worth it. Also, for obvious reasons any photos of said bunny outfit have been destroyed or confiscated from my wife’s collection of embarrassing photos of me.

I think it’s important to mention that while I am the one who gets to wear the bunny costume, my wife is the one who makes the day a magical one for our family. From a house filled with decorations, to crafts, games and the egg hunt, I feel like we are the luckiest family in the world to have her in the driver’s seat. I will say that I make a pretty mean breakfast though!

Instead of the usual dollar store chocolates this year, we decided that we were going to splurge on some Kinder Surprise eggs for the kids and hide those around the house. Pro-Tip: For you first time egg hunt planners out there, make sure that you have an equal number of eggs for the kids and try to find a way to separate them by colour. Anyway, I was excited to see how many Easter themed Kinder packs there were available and we may have spent too much money…

Kinder Surprise Easter Packs

Did I end up buying myself the package with the monkey in it? Yes. Yes I did. You got a problem with that?! Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, it’s shaping up to be a great egg hunt this year and I can’t wait to see the kids faces as they search high and low while missing the eggs right in front of their faces.

Before I go I wanted to let you know about a cool contest that Kinder Canada is hosting on their Facebook page where you can Unwrap the KINDER® SURPRISE® to Win a bunch of great prizes! You’ve still got a couple of days left to enter, so head on over now! Also, don’t forget to share all of your Easter egg hunt pictures with the Kinder Canada Instagram page.

Happy Easter!!

DISCLOSURE: I’m a #KinderDad who is part of the KINDER® Canada influencer team. I also sneak bites of my kids chocolate while they are not looking. I am not proud of this so I thought it was fitting in this portion of the post that people usually don’t read. Don’t tell my kids…

Dad Kids Video Games

The World I Know

I wake up, fall out of bed and drag a comb across my head. Before I get sued by the Beatles I should point out that this is a stunningly accurate portrayal of my daily routine. Every morning I groggily stumble out the front door on my way to work before the kids are even awake. I make sure to check in on them as I pass by their rooms, mostly just to enjoy their tiny faces in their most peaceful of moments.

I somehow manage to make it in to work on time each day, drink way too much coffee and potentially talk a little too much. At the end of the day, I Yabba Dabba Doo my way out to my car where I listen to the same radio show, talking about the same thing they do every other day with a traffic report on the 1’s. I glide peacefully home where I have about thirty minutes of quiet before picking up the kids from school.

The thirty minutes often feels like three but I’m always excited to see the kids. My daughter comes out first and lazily gives me a hug, which I’ve dubbed the leaning tower, as she throws her backpack at my feet and joins the procession of people walking to the next pick up spot. Her brother exits next and they hug a hug that shows how much they love each other. I have to be honest, this is my favourite part of pickup.

Once we get home, it’s road hockey, scooters and laughter until suppertime, which is usually later because it’s hard to be the reason the laughter has to come to an end. Dinner, baths, homework, story time, songs, laughter and sleep round out the day, every day.

When you read through this story it may seem kind of familiar and maybe even a little boring. The truth is that it can be boring at times and that’s fine because every so often you get a moment of difference. It could be an unprompted hug, a random compliment or even just a look from your child that conveys how much they love you. You know the look I’m talking about. In those moments, time stands still and I can’t wait to do it all over again the next day.

Photo credit to David Redding from Redding Photographics

Sens Experience Hockey

He Shoots, He Scores!

I watched in awe as a child skated, untouched, through an entire team of 5 and 6 year olds. With one kid to beat the puck slid off his stick and into the corner. He chased after it along with every other child on the ice, as 6 year old hockey players do. Every child, that is, but one. There, standing in front of the net with his stick dutifully on the ice, was my son.

It’s his first year in hockey and the learning curve has been steep. Because of his age, most of the kids he is playing with have already played for a season or two, so he has some catching up to do. I volunteered to be an on-ice helper so that I could encourage him to keep at it, and also because coaching seems to be in my blood.

On this particular day, his team was playing in their first game of the year. This wasn’t any regular game, though. They were playing on the same ice as the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, taking part in a special program the team runs for minor hockey players. The stands were filled with excited parents, grandparents and friends. We had a referee, scorekeeper and announcer to give the game a very real feel to it. They even played the national anthem before we started, which was one of my favourite parts of the experience.

It’s tough to teach a 6 year old how to play hockey, especially when he has never played before. There is only so much information they can take in at one time so you have to pick a couple things and focus on them. The one thing I tried to explain to my son before the game was that if he saw a flock of kids all chasing after the puck, that he should get into the open and put his stick on the ice. Much to my surprise, he actually listened to me.

There he stood, in front of the net, puck on his stick, and a flock of puck hungry 6 year olds skating right at him. He lifted his head and fired the puck as the crowd crashed into each other in front of the net. The next few seconds were a blur. I wasn’t sure what had happened until I heard the announcer call out my son’s name as the goal scorer and it literally took everything in my fatherly heart to react like a normal human being, as opposed to jumping on to the ice like my brain was suggesting.

I am not telling this story to brag about how my son scored a goal. Okay, maybe a little. I think I was surprised at how proud I was in that moment. I’m always proud of my kids but in this case he was rewarded because he listened to my advice and that felt good. His first words upon returning to the bench were, “Dad, did you see my goal? I did what you said and just shot it!”. It was one of the first times I truly felt like I had earned credibility as a father in his eyes.

I have no delusions of my son being a superstar hockey player. Frankly, I fear I have blessed him with my lack of height, which is usually a deal breaker for a lot of sports. I am just really proud of how hard he tries when he is out on the ice. I haven’t seen him invest in something like this before and it gives me a lot of joy to see him smiling even while he learns.

Learn How To Read

How I’m Helping My Children Learn To Read

Just when you think this parenting is getting a little easier, you hit another road block. That was the case for us recently as we embarked on the wonderful journey that is teaching our kids how to read. My first mistake was assuming that reading to the kids every night before bed was enough to make it happen. I was incorrect.

Now that I am all grown up, I tend to take a lot of things for granted. I seem to forget that there was once a time where I didn’t know how to tie my shoe, or play hockey, or read a book, and that those things didn’t just happen miraculously overnight. When my son recently struggled with his reading progression, I blamed myself for not pushing him hard enough. The reality of it, however, was that it wasn’t the level of effort that was holding him back, but it was a combination of a few different things.

First, all children learn differently and at different paces. That is probably the hardest thing to grasp as a parent because there is a secret voice inside all of us that pits us against other parents. Just admit it, it’s okay. Second, the method I was using was not effective. I was getting him to try to read his easy reader bedtime books to me, not realizing that he was exhausted from a long day and had little to no interest in trying to get the words right.

I decided to take to the trusty internet to look for some resources to help us with our reading adventure and came across a site called Reading Eggs. It offered online lessons for reading and math that were full of interactive animations, fun games, great songs and lots of rewards, so we signed up for the free trial and got to work. We usually give our son a little bit of screen time for video games but once he started working on the Reading Eggs activities, he began choosing that over his video game time, which, PS, is totally amazing!

Once our trial was done, we noticed a big improvement in both our children’s abilities and decided to sign them both up for the 6 month subscription package, which we are about half way through. Because the kids love it so much, this was one of the few times I have reached out to a company to see if they wanted to partner together to offer something for my readers and they love they idea!

How about you? What has been your biggest struggle or success with helping teach your children to read?

Extended Free Trial Of Reading Eggs!

4 Week Trial - Reading Eggs

From now until Nov 30th, if you Visit This Link, you will be able to sign up for an extended 4 week free trial to Reading Eggs! If you do sign up, make sure to let me know how you like it. You can also follow the folks at Reading Eggs on Facebook and Twitter.