Kids Baseball

He Would Have Loved This

As my kids are growing older and developing into incredible little athletes, I find myself thinking more and more about my dad and how much he would have loved having sporty grandkids. I’m guessing he’d especially love the fact that my son is playing baseball.

I can still remember how our double car garage was set up as a batting cage instead of a place for cars, and while my garage isn’t nearly as large, I still have the batting tee and net set up in much the same way. One of my great sporting regrets is not realizing how good my dad was as a coach and taking our garage lessons more seriously. You’d think watching Canadian national team members come over to hit in our garage, or seeing him coach in the Olympics would have sparked me, but I was simply too lazy to put in the extra effort. That part hasn’t changed much, I guess.

The funny thing is that as much as I told myself that I would blaze my own path with my kids, I seem to be instinctively following in my dad’s footsteps, and that’s not a bad thing. As I helped coach with my son’s baseball team this year, I understood what it was that drew him to coaching. It’s not just that you get to be around your own child to watch them grow into a sport, it’s the rush of helping other kids grow and develop physically, mentally and socially.

The first moment a child thanks you for helping them overcome a hurdle, or a parent tells you that their child raves about how much fun they’re having, you get hooked. I understand now why my dad put in so many hours studying drills and taking coaching courses to better learn the game. The winning was a lot of fun, and we won A LOT, but we had fun as a team even when we lost and we worked harder because we had great coaches.

Baseball Coaches

He may not be around to help me as a father and coach but I know he would have loved this time in his grandkids lives and it gives me motivation to give both my kids and the kids I coach the kind of attention him and his coaching staff gave to us when we were young.

What I am also saying here is that you can expect a slew of sports related posts in the years to come!

NELSON Disney Learning

Summertime Doesn’t Mean Kids Have To Stop Learning

We all know that summer is a time for having fun with friends, summer camp and ignoring bed times, but that doesn’t mean that we must completely abandon the lessons our kids have been learning throughout the school year. We still encourage the kids to do some reading every day, usually before bed, but we recently discovered a new learning tool that has the kids asking to do homework. No, I’m serious!

A new collaboration between NELSON and Disney Learning has the kids excited to be working on reading, writing and math so far this summer. When our 7-year-old daughter saw Disney’s Moana on the cover of her new NELSON workbook, she dove in before even asking what it was. Frankly, I’m not even sure she knows she’s learning while working in it because all she does is talk about how much fun it is.

For our son, being 9 years old, I thought it would be a bit of a tougher sell but as soon as his sister bragged that she had already finished 10 pages, he sat right down and got to work until he passed her mark. Oh, the joys of having 2 kids to push each other! The NELSON workbooks are great because we could get specific books for the grades that each child was going into next year and they aren’t too complicated, which gives the kids confidence going into a new grade.

NELSON Disney Learning Math Cards

The workbooks are great but the kids really enjoyed the Math Activity Cards that came with the set. Math is just one of those things that needs to be constantly worked on in order to feel confident in your abilities and the cards are what sets the NELSON learning set apart from the others we’ve tried. I also love that the kids use a dry erase marker on the cards so we can erase the answers and come back to them later.

It’s important to us that the kids keep their minds sharp in between all the summer fun so that when they get back to school the transition isn’t overwhelming. The fact that they are laughing and having a great time with each other while they work on the NELSON learning set makes mom and dad happy campers!

For more information about the NELSON and Disney Learning collaboration sets you can visit nelson.com/disneylearning and if you use code Read10 you can score yourself a discount on your order! You can also follow the hashtag #NELSONLoveOfLearning on both the NELSON Facebook and Twitter pages.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program but the kids really did love doing homework in the summer, which truly blew my mind.

Join Springfree Trampoline Canada For Their Summer Jumpoff Event!

We’ve had a blast working with Springfree Trampoline Canada this summer and it has definitely helped me keep my figure from expanding with all the summer fun and travel we’ve been doing. Now Springfree wants to invite you to their Summer Jumpoff event to benefit Cystic Fibrosis this Saturday, July 29 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Young Dundas Square in Toronto!

Springfree has partnered with two-time Olympic Gold Medal-winning trampolinist Rosie MacLennan to host a Canada 150-themed event that is sure to be an amazing time. Trampolines will be set up with the TGOMA interactive gaming system and guests will be invited to play a custom, Canada-150 themed version of the Quizzle game where the questions will all be Canadian trivia! For each 150 questions correctly answered collectively by event guests, Springfree will donate one trampoline from the event to Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

Tgoma Springfree Trampoline

Cystic Fibrosis Canada was an easy choice to partner with as trampolines are great therapy for those who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis as it is an exciting, low impact alternative to traditional exercise.

Plus, since Cystic Fibrosis primarily affects children and young adults, trampoline jumping is also a creative way to encourage exercise for children in a way that’s fun and still makes them feel like a kid – a feeling that may sometimes get lost amongst the daily treatments and physiotherapy required to maintain their health and lung function.

I hope you’ll be able to make it to the Springfree Trampoline Summer Jumpoff Event this Saturday, July 29 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Young Dundas Square in Toronto as it promises to be an amazing event, and for a great cause!

In the meantime, if you do happen to be in the market for the greatest trampoline known to man, I’m also excited to announce that as a special offer just for you guys, if you order a trampoline from the Springfree Trampoline Canada website, you can use code SpringInto150YYZ4 to get a tgoma game system (RV $399.00) absolutely free! tgoma is an interactive Smart Play attachment for your Springfree trampoline that allows you to use jumping power to play different games which are both educational and fun!

Disclosure: I was provided a Springfree Trampoline in exchange for my participation in this program.

Dad Springfree Trampoline Slam

Who Says Dads Can’t Have Fun On A Trampoline?

Ever since having children I’ve wondered when the age will hit that I don’t feel like behaving like a child anymore. When I see the kids at the splash pad or out on the baseball diamond I instinctively want to join in on the fun, ignoring the fact that I may have lost a few steps.

While we were discussing the addition of a new trampoline from Springfree Trampoline Canada, I was mostly thinking about how much fun the kids and their friends would have but there was also a little piece of me that was excited to have a trampoline of my very own to jump on as well. Now, when I say a little piece of me, what I really mean is that I did all this for myself and the fact that the kids are having fun with it is a cute side note.

The trampoline couldn’t have come at a better time as I have really been lacking in the physical activity department lately and I’m pretty sure I have jumped on it every day since it arrived at our house. There’s just something about feeling like your flying that I can’t get enough of. Luckily for me, I have a beautiful young daughter who has been there to motivate me by reminding me daily to be careful because I am dangerously close to the suggested weight limit for the trampoline and she doesn’t want me to break it… Thanks, honey.

So, to all the dads out there who think the fun has to end just because we are getting older, I say get those shoes off and start jumping! In fact, hit the splash pad, shoot some hoops and play some tag with the kids, too. There’s no law that says we have to grow up at a certain speed. Have fun with your kids while your bones still allow it!

If you do happen to be in the market for the greatest trampoline on the planet, I’m also excited to announce that as a special offer just for you guys, if you order a trampoline from the Springfree Trampoline Canada website, you can use code SpringInto150YYZ4 to get a tgoma game system (RV $399.00) absolutely free! tgoma is an interactive Smart Play attachment for your Springfree trampoline that allows you to use jumping power to play different games, both educational and fun!

Disclosure: I was provided a Springfree Trampoline in exchange for my participation in this program.

Under Armour Trampoline

The Importance Of Sports In Our Lives

It’s funny to look back and remember a time when I was worried that my kids wouldn’t love sports the same way I had as a child. I’ve made a conscious effort not to push them down any path they didn’t want to venture down but it seems as though the sports bug has attached itself to them and I couldn’t be happier.

Don’t get me wrong, had they decided to love computer programming, science or cooking, we would have figured out a way to support them and learn it together, but I’m extremely happy that they have chosen sports as their hobbies of choice. Balancing sports, meal planning and life schedules isn’t always easy but we have found a way to make it work for everyone so far.

Julia UA Gymnastics

The lessons they have learned through sport are invaluable as we see them growing more confident in all aspects of their lives each and every day. For our son, who is playing hockey, track & field and competitive baseball, he is learning to become a leader by demonstrating a determination that I am constantly surprised by. As a competitive gymnast and soccer player, our daughter has a focus and drive that she definitely did not get from either one of us and we know she is destined for something very special someday.

As parents we get the incredible opportunity to watch the kids beam with pride as all of their hard work pays off in different ways and it is the greatest feeling in the world. Some people see chaos in all of this but all the shuttling, travel, hotels, weather and bills are worth the friendships, laughter, fun, competition and personal growth that come with being a sports family and I wouldn’t trade a single thing.

Lucas Under Armour Baseball

The kids were really excited when I told them that Under Armour and Sport Chek were looking for their 2018 Team UA NEXT Canadian Youth Ambassadors and we started planning out our audition video right way. All 7 to 12 year-old hard-working athletes are eligible to compete to become the face of Under Armour in a brand campaign at Sport Chek stores across Canada and can submit a nomination by visiting TeamUAnext.ca!

The winning boy and girl will join the elite roster of Under Armour athletes and serve as a youth ambassador for the brand. In addition to being featured in the brand campaign, winners will receive exclusive access to Under Armour gear. Parents, guardians, mentors and coaches have until August 31, 2017 to nominate a young athlete online at TeamUAnext.ca.

For more information on TEAM UA NEXT Canada powered by Sport Chek, or to submit a nomination, visit TeamUAnext.ca. You can follow along and share at the @UnderArmourNext Instagram page as well. Also check out Sport Chek on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as Under Armour on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #TAKEYOURSPOT and #UANEXTCANADA.

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

Blue Jays Family Shot

A Weekend We’ll Never Forget

What started as just another travel baseball tournament weekend quickly morphed into one of the better trips we’ve had as a family in a while. A week before we were scheduled to leave for London, Ontario for my son’s baseball tournament, I was already whining in my head about the 6+ hour drive ahead. You see, I love the actual tournament experience, I just don’t like the driving part. It’s not even because of the kids because they are excellent passengers, it’s just the physical act of driving that I don’t enjoy at any time whatsoever.

To break up the trip a bit, we decided to take in a Toronto Blue Jays game the day before the tournament began. Through an exclusive opportunity from both Rogers and the Toronto Blue Jays organization, I managed to get passes to watch the Jays batting practice before the game, which I figured would be a cool way to make my son’s experience that much more special.

The batting practice sounded like it was going to be fun as we would get access to the stadium before the gates opened and I assumed we’d sit in the seats behind home plate, watch them hit and then leave. Imagine my surprise as they walked us out onto the field, right behind home plate, and plopped us mere feet away from the whole Blue Jays team, who were warming up right in front of us.

Had that been the whole experience we would have been more than happy, but then the players started coming over with game balls, signing them for the kids and taking pictures with them. My son stood, wide-eyed, as his favourite players passed by, high fiving the kids, and then it happened. While wearing his Aaron Sanchez jersey, my son looked up to see none other than Sanchez himself. I was so excited for him that I forgot to ask Aaron for a nice photo but I guarantee it’s something my boy will never forget.

Altuve Sanchez Baseball

All in all we got to meet players like Ezekiel Carrera, Ryan Goins, Danny Barnes, Roberto Osuna and manager, John Gibbons. Oh, and the fact that after the Jays finished batting practice, the potential MVP of the league from the Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, came over and posed for a picture with my son and signed his ball. I can’t say enough good things about these players and the Blue Jays organization for putting these kinds of things together.

The game itself was everything we could have asked for as well. A few other boys from the baseball team were there and the kids had a blast. We saw a Russ Martin homerun, Kevin Pillar made some Superman-like plays, we got the full Roberto Osuna experience and the Jays beat the best team in baseball! Oh, and our hotel, the Radisson Admiral, was a 3 minute walk from Rogers Centre, which, if you know downtown Toronto at all, is so incredibly convenient.

Speaking of the Radisson Admiral, I can’t imagine I will ever swim in another pool with a view like this one!

Radisson Admiral CN Tower Toronto

I woke up before the rest of my family the next morning, grabbed a Starbucks from the Radisson’s lobby (yeah, the Starbucks is IN the lobby!) and set out on a walk of Toronto’s Entertainment District. I can see why people love it there as it’s the best of both worlds, being so peaceful in the morning and so much fun at night. This is a trip I look forward to every year and it was magical as always.

Thank you so much to the Toronto Blue Jays organization, Rogers and the Radisson Admiral hotel for helping to make this a weekend we won’t soon forget!

Springfree Trampoline Basketball

With These Kids, Everything Is A Competition

Having never owned a trampoline, and knowing how competitive my kids are, I was curious to see how they would possibly find a way to compete against each other with our new trampoline from Springfree Trampoline Canada. In the first 5 minutes of jumping on the trampoline, they had already invented 3 new games and haven’t looked back since.

Making their lives a little easier was the fact that we ordered a few add-on accessories for our Springfree Trampoline, including an attachable basketball net and the tgoma interactive game system. The basketball net is pretty self explanatory and I have to admit that it has me bouncing on the trampoline more than I expected to. The tgoma, however, is a really neat device that has the kids laughing and jumping for hours so far.

The tgoma system is cool because it is controlled by four sensors on the Springfree mat which connect wirelessly via Bluetooth to a tablet. Using the body as the controller, the sensors track movement creating an outdoor interactive Smart Play experience. The games built into tgoma range from fun and educational for the kids to fitness programs for the adults.

Tgoma Springfree Trampoline

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing I was before we actually tested out the tgoma system, which is that we spend so much time trying to get the kids to put the technology away, so why would we encourage them to go outside and use it. My only response to this is that you have to try it to fully understand how great it is. Watching my kids jump on the trampoline while also solving math problems is amazing. It works multiple parts of their brain while also keeping them active and having fun all at the same time.

We’ve had the Springfree Trampoline for a couple of weeks now and not only is it the safest trampoline I’ve ever jumped on as a bigger guy, but my family has never been so active during the lazy days of summer. So, yes, the Springfree costs a little bit more than the average trampoline but the safety, longevity and quality you get out of them really makes it worth the investment.

All this said, I’m excited to announce that as a special offer just for you guys, if you order a trampoline from the Springfree Trampoline Canada website, you can use code SpringInto150YYZ4 to get a tgoma game system (RV $399.00) absolutely free!

Now if you’ll excuse me, my daughter challenged my to see who could do the most jumps in 5 minutes, which is something tgoma can track! Happy Jumping!!

Disclosure: I was provided a Springfree Trampoline in exchange for my participation in this program.

Dare’s Limited Edition Maple Crème

Things I Will Be Putting Maple Syrup On This Canada Day Weekend

The 150th celebration of Canada’s birthday is finally here and, naturally, I am writing about something that is on the minds and hearts of all Canadians. Maple Syrup! All Canadians love maple syrup, right? Well, to celebrate Canada’s 150th year I have secured a bottle of the finest maple syrup in the country and I wanted to share all of the uses I have planned for it this weekend!

Before we get to the list, I want to give this beautiful bottle of maple syrup its due attention. The sap for this bottle was carefully collected from a 125 year old tree by Dare, a 125 year old Canadian company, on a family owned sugar bush in Saint-Sophie-d’Halifax, Quebec. The syrup was used to make Dare’s Limited Edition Maple Crème cookies, which are shaped like maple leafs and available in stores now, and only a small amount of these maple syrup bottles were made from what was left.

As you can tell I take my maple syrup seriously and have already begun planning how I will use this special bottle this weekend. Here are just a few of the ideas I had…

1. Maple Shampoo –

Dare Maple Shampoo

Don’t you get tired of your hair smelling like lavender or spices? Think of how patriotic it would be to have hair that smelled like your country this Canada Day weekend! It’s either this or finding a beaver to carry around with you. This seems like the easier plan to me.

2. Maple Laundry Detergent –

Dare Maple Detergent

Maybe great smelling hair isn’t enough for you? Besides, why just have great smelling hair when you could soak your entire wardrobe in Canadiana? Just add a capful of this 125 year old bottle of joy to your washing machine and let the magic begin!

3. Maple Sunscreen –

Dare Maple Sunscreen

Let’s be honest, summer can get hot here in the nation’s capital and sunscreen is a must. Why have boring old sunscreen when you could have a sunscreen that not only blocks the sun but also tastes great?! (*Note – There is no scientific evidence that maple sunscreen would protect you from the sun)

4. Maple Spaghetti –

Dare Maple Spaghetti

You can’t honestly sit there and tell me you didn’t think it was a great idea when Buddy poured maple syrup all over his spaghetti in the movie Elf. Spaghetti Saturday is about to get a lot more fun this weekend!

5. Eating Dare’s Limited Edition Maple Crème cookies, of course!

Dare Maple Cookies Syrup

You can’t enjoy this syrup without tasting the very product it was created for, plus they are SHAPED LIKE MAPLE LEAVES!!! Pro-Tip: If you have some maple syrup left over after all your experimenting, why not use it as a cookie dip?? Just don’t tell the kids!

I hope you all have an amazing Canada Day weekend filled with family, fun and laughter! As a special Canada Day surprise I am also going to give away a Dare Limited Edition Maple Crème prize pack, which includes a special bottle of maple syrup for you to try! Just leave a comment below and let me know what food you would use the special maple syrup on. It can be serious, funny or downright weird and you’ll get no judgement from this guy!

Happy Canada Day!!!

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

Springfree Trampoline Kids Jumping 2

Safely Jumping Our Way Into Summer With Springfree Trampoline Canada!

For years our children have begged us to get them a trampoline and their wish has finally come true. Thanks to the fine folks at Springfree Trampoline Canada, we are now the proud owners of their Large Oval trampoline and it has been battle-tested multiple times a day for the last two weeks!

What I love most about Springfree Trampoline is that they have gone out of their way to build the safest trampoline on the market. Take a look at these safety features:

No Springs – Springfree uses flexible composite rods instead of metal springs, eliminating pinch points that could trap feet and toes.
Flexible Safety Enclosure – cushions falls and places the jumpers back on the jumping surface.
SoftEdge™ Mat – Springfree has created a shock absorbent SoftEdge™ mat that eliminates any hard edges at the jumping surface and will absorb 30 times more impact than traditional padding.
Hidden Frame – Springfree Trampoline has a fame located well beneath the jumping surface where jumpers can’t hit it.
tgoma Game System – encourages one-at-a-time play that eliminates injuries associated with multiple jumpers. I’ll be talking more about this as the summer rolls on!

Outside of the obvious safety measures, the most refreshing part of having the trampoline is that the kids never want to sit around the house being lazy anymore. We had gotten into a rhythm lately of waking up in the mornings and spacing out in front of the television for an hour or so before going to school. Now the kids are up and jumping in their pyjamas before I can even remind them to brush their teeth!

Springfree Trampoline Kids Jumping 1

It’s truly been amazing to see how active this 13×8 contraption has made them and as a parent who’s children don’t like going to bed, the Springfree trampoline has been a lifesaver at getting them tired in the evenings. Daddy has even tried it out a few times but is getting dangerously close to the weight limit, if you know what I mean… Hopefully the trampoline will help shed a few of those extra pounds!

I’m also excited to announce that as a special offer just for you guys, if you order a trampoline from the Springfree Trampoline Canada website, you can use code SpringInto150YYZ4 to get a tgoma game system (RV $399.00) absolutely free! My next blog post will cover the tgoma game system and I know you are going to love having it with your trampoline!

I leave you with this video describing why the Springfree Trampoline costs more than traditional trampolines and you’ll see why it’s the safest choice out there today.

Disclosure: I was provided a Springfree Trampoline in exchange for my participation in this program.

City Ottawa Marketing Kids

Marketing To Children And What You Need To Know About It

It’s no secret that companies have been marketing to children for a long time. Television commercials, billboards and magazine print ads have long promoted unhealthy food and beverage choices for our children, making it hard to keep a lifestyle on track.

In fact, did you know that children view four to five food and beverage ads per hour. When you consider children watch on average two hours of television a day – the number of food and beverage ads viewed by our children adds up.

How are children and youth vulnerable to marketing?

Did You Know Ottawa Marketing Kids

Children believe what they see, especially at the younger ages. I’m going to warn you in advance that the following stats are a bit staggering.

• Before the age of five, most children can’t tell the difference between and ad and a television show. Marketers are getting smarter and making the commercials look more like tv shows.
• Before the age of eight, children are unlikely to know the reasons behind marketing.
• By the age of ten to twelve, children know that ads sell products, but they are often unable to judge an ad. Of all forms of marketing, youth in particular are vulnerable to digital marketing. It is viewed as entertainment, grabbing their focus and attention.
• Healthy habits start in childhood. Children learn about nutrition through the marketing of food and beverages. Unhealthy eating over the course of time is linked to multiple diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and stroke.
Marketing influences foods that children eat and that they ask their parents to buy. Marketing can influence kids to eat unhealthy foods. It also makes unhealthy foods seem “normal.”

Healthy Eating

When you add in the fact that a lot of our kids are watching YouTube on their iPads and computers nowadays, there is more reason than ever to be worried about the type of marketing they are being fed. Understanding that the state of marketing to our children is clearly a problem that needs to be looked at, here is what is being done in Canada and around the globe to help.

In Canada…
• The Canadian Federal government has committed to “introducing new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages”.* Work has begun on improving food labels, reducing salt and eliminating trans-fats.
• Senator Nancy Greene Raine presented an Act to prohibit direct food and beverage marketing to children 13 and under. Specific instruction on labelling, packaging and advertising directed at children would also apply.
• Quebec is the only province to have banned commercial advertisement directed at children under 13. Results show that Quebec is the highest consumer of fruits and vegetables and has the lowest obesity rates for six to eleven year olds since making this change. Experts note that Quebec “has reduced fast food consumption by $88 million a year.”

Around the world…
• In 1991, Sweden banned ads to children 12 and under and banned mail ads for children younger than 16.
• In 1992, Norway banned television ads for children under 16 and banned all ads that could be seen to exploit the vulnerabilities of children.
• In the UK in 2006, ads for products high in fat, sugar and salt found in television shows for children ages four to 15 were banned.
• In 2011, the Spanish Parliament approved a law on Nutrition and Food Safety, which stated that kindergartens and schools should be free from advertising.
• In 2014, Brazil determined all ads directed at children under 12 to be “abusive”.
• In 2014, Mexico restricted television marketing to children and in movie theaters during the afternoon and weekends.

In short, the world is starting to take notice and has been taking steps to help protect our children from the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages. Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts on the subject.

What Can You Do To Help? Have Your Say!

Ottawa Public Health wants your opinion about marketing of food and beverages to children and youth. Complete this brief online survey to tell them what you think.

To be eligible, you need to be 16 years of age or older and live in the City of Ottawa. By completing the survey, you will help them better understand what people in the City of Ottawa think about marketing to children and youth. They are also accepting written briefs or submissions by email or mail. Please send your written response to: m2cy@ottawa.ca or contact name 100 Constellation drive, ON K2G 6K8.

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