STIHL Neighbour Kids

Tips On How To Be A Good Neighbour!

Having lived in the same house for almost a decade now, I have managed to develop a pretty good relationship with my neighbours. I know that we live in a different world than our parents did, when all neighbours talked and hung out all the time, so I wanted to share some tips on how you can achieve neighbourly success!

In no particular order, here are my Top 5 tips for being a great neighbour:

1. Watch Their Pool For Them While They Are Away

STIHL Pool Swim

Look, being a good neighbour is a tough job and sometimes you have to bite the bullet and agree to take care of your neighbour’s pool for a few days in the summer while they are away. It not a fun job but it is your duty as a good neighbour to get in that pool and make sure it is staying at a reasonable temperature. How would you feel if you came home from vacation to a cold pool???

2. Help With Yard Maintenance

STIHL Neighbour Helper

Living in Canada, there are many factors that go into helping out with property maintenance. For instance, I share a lawn with a neighbour who works multiple jobs to support his family, so I generally take care of the front yard work for the both of us. In the winter, however, I will often find my walkway cleared of snow very early in the morning.

Everyone plays a role or has a “toy” that they use to help others. One of my neighbours bought a snow blower and helps clear the piles of snow at the bottom of the driveway after the plow comes. I have been enjoying being the neighbour that owns the STIHL Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw because it feels good to know you’re contributing something to the area. Just the other day, I noticed a neighbour using a handsaw while trying to dig up some roots from a plant they were moving. It would have taken them hours to get it done, but because my STIHL Chainsaw is both cordless and lightweight, it got the job done in minutes. Needless to say, we spent a good hour admiring our work afterward but that’s because we were so impressed with how quickly the STIHL chainsaw got the job done! Bonus feature that helps in being a good neighbour: the STIHL Lithium-Ion MSA 120 Chainsaw is over 17 decibels quieter than the gas powered MS 170 chainsaw, making it as quiet as an electric drill. This feature significantly reduces neighborhood noise levels and will create much less of a disturbance for your neighbours when pulling out your chainsaw for required yard work.

3. Driveway Rental Service (With Optional Sangria!)

STIHL Driveway Friends

No good neighbourhood would be complete without a musical chairs of driveway parties! It really is the best way to get to know your neighbours, after-all. Everyone brings a couple food items, the kids get some water play in and the grown-ups settle in for some relaxation after a busy work week. Ours happen to include sangria but you make yours work in your own way!

4. Take Turns Watching Each Other’s Kids

STIHL Neighbour Kids

Look, it takes a village to raise kids, right? Well, in this case, sometimes it takes a minivan, 1 hour of trampoline time and a dinner at Lonestar, while you and your significant other spend uninterrupted time doing what you both love to do. That’s right, I’m talking about napping.

5. Provide Pet Sitting Services

STIHL Pet Sitting

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a strict “no pets” rule at the moment. With kids in competitive sports and our work schedules being different, I feel it would be irresponsible of us to subject a dog to that much alone time. That said, I don’t mind borrowing pets from time to time and we have had guests such as hamsters, gerbils, fish and even a dog a couple times. It definitely goes a long way to keeping the “Pro Pet” folks in our house happy, which is basically everyone but me…

These are just a few of the things that have worked for us and hopefully they work for you, too! My suggestion is to go grab some hamburgers and maybe even one of STIHL’s Lithium-Ion Chainsaws, so you can start on your way to winning at neighbouring!

Disclosure: I was provided a STIHL Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw to facilitate this post.

Viamede Resort Family Getaway

Viamede Resort Is The Perfect Family Getaway!

We had the privilege of being invited to spend the past weekend at the wonderful Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake in Woodview, Ontario. While you may have seen some of my posts on social media, I wanted to write out a bit more about the trip so you can understand why we can’t wait to visit again!

The main thing that sets Viamede apart from other resorts we’ve stayed at is that from the moment you check in, you feel as though you are part of a small community. The staff were all very welcoming and especially amazing with the kids. The other guests felt like neighbours by the end of the weekend and we were free to do as many or as few of the activities as we wanted, any time we felt like doing them. Need more proof? One of the unlisted activities was the ability to take the owner’s golden retriever for a walk if you wanted to get some extra exercise. How cool is that?

Viamede Resort View

As small as the resort felt, there was actually so much to do that a weekend wasn’t enough time to get to it all. On my list for our next visit are a game of Disc Golf with my son, a fancy dinner at Mount Julian with my wife, fishing and an afternoon in the activity field, playing soccer with my daughter. That said, we did get a lot of fun in during our stay, so here are a few highlights!

Turtle Catching!

Viamede Resort Turtles

During dinner on our first night, Viamede owner, Ben Samann came into the restaurant with a baby snapping turtle and brought it around the tables so the kids could hold it. When he mentioned that there could be more baby turtles making the treacherous trip across the parking lot in the coming days, I knew it meant that my animal loving daughter would be out there for the rest of the trip.

Considering they are the size of a small rock, I was skeptical that we would find any more turtles but my daughter is persistent and wouldn’t you know it, she found not one, but TWO more baby turtles the next day! Seeing the excitement in her face as she brought them to the front desk is something I won’t soon forget. They got them some water and kept them at the front desk for everyone to visit throughout the day and my daughter beamed with pride as they pointed her out as the rescuer. This was the highlight of the trip for me and I was even more proud when she turned down the reward of 25 cents per turtle because she was just happy they were going to make it safely to the lake.

The Food!

I mentioned earlier that we didn’t get a chance to visit the Mount Julien restaurant but we did have multiple meals at The Boathouse and they were all equally excellent, especially the french fries! I don’t want to say I am a picky eater but once I find something I like at a restaurant, I generally stick with it. I decided to go with a new meal all three times we visited The Boathouse and I may have to start broadening my horizons at other restaurants as well! The meal plan also comes with a dessert and I want to give a special shout-out to the Apple Fritters & Ice Cream I had with every meal. I’m still dreaming of you and can’t wait until we meet again.

The Water

Viamede Resort Lake Pool Kayak

While the pool is always a highlight of any family vacation, Viamede Resort outdoes all of that by providing 3 different options for water fun! First and foremost, there is the beach on Stoney Lake. What I really loved about Viamede is that they had canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and life jackets just sitting down by the water. No need to sign in and out, you just take what you want to use and enjoy yourself! As you can see from the picture above, I decided to try something new and it may or may not have worked out for me… Oh, they also has a sweet water trampoline out on the lake, which my kids had some epic battles on!

Viamede Resort Pool

On top of the fun at the lake, there are also 2 pools! One outdoor pool for the hot days and an amazing indoor pool that ensures you can still have fun in the water in case a storm rolls through. I will say that we spent quite a bit of time in the indoor pool because it was mostly empty and they had this really cool waterway that went from indoors to outdoors. The kids thought that was hilarious and had a blast in the water!

Endless List of Activities!

Viamede Resort Activities

I mentioned earlier that there was so much to do at Viamede that we couldn’t fit it all in, but we did get quite a bit accomplished during our short stay. To be honest, we probably could have done more but turtle catching fever really took over. That said, Viamede has a cool little farm on site that you can check out at your leisure. There were baby pigs and turkeys, as well as some very loud and awesome roosters. On top of that, we spent many hours playing ping pong, foosball, darts, basketball, yoga, tennis and many more activities that are freely accessible throughout the stay.

Viamede Resort Farm Piglets

All in all we had a blast at Viamede Resort and will absolutely be back again! It was the perfect balance between relaxation and excitement, with some amazing food thrown in! I’m happy to answer any questions you all may have about the resort in case you decide to check it out for yourself.

Viamede Resort Boathouse Pub

Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Viamede Resort as their guests for the weekend. That said, it was amazing and we can’t wait to return next summer!

Medieval Times Toronto Knights

Why Medieval Times Is A Must-Visit Attraction!

I love a good sporting event as much as the next person and with professional sports teams in all 5 major sports, Toronto is definitely not lacking in the “things to do” department. Other than soccer, I have attended events for each of the other 4 sports on multiple occasions, but there’s one Toronto attraction missing from the list that might be my favourite of them all.

A post shared by Chris Read (@canadiandadblog) on

Medieval Times was kind enough to host my family this past weekend for an evening of fun, fighting and amazing food! It was at least my 5th time attending the Toronto Castle and every visit has been more fun than the last. Honestly, which other sporting event can you attend where they actually encourage you to be rowdy and taunt the other opponents?? Sure, you COULD do that at a baseball game but you will definitely end up as the center of attention as people turn away from you, embarrassed.

If you’ve never been to Medieval Times before, the premise is that there are 6 knights who battle it out in a last man standing competition. Each spectator is assigned a knight to cheer for and are also told which knight is their arch nemesis so you can boo them mercilessly! We drew the yellow knight this time around and while there are no pictures of me during the show, I can assure you that our arch nemesis, the blue knight and his fans, knew who I was by the end of the show!

A post shared by Chris Read (@canadiandadblog) on

Besides the amazing show, there are many other reasons to love the Medieval Times experience. One such reason is that every time your knight succeeds in an event, he gets a flower to hand out to one lucky fan in his section. For the 2nd year in a row, guess who got the first flower?? Now, you might think to yourself, “who cares, it’s just the top of a carnation?”, but I can assure you that the excitement on her face was enough to melt this dad’s heart.

A post shared by Chris Read (@canadiandadblog) on

Finally, it would be ridiculous to talk about how great Medieval Times is without discussing the meal. I will admit as a parent to picky eaters, my kids didn’t eat too much of the meal but that simply meant more chicken and potatoes for dad! Seriously, though, the food at Medieval Times is absolutely amazing! I’m always fascinated when a meal that is being made for over a hundred people still tastes like I would expect from a restaurant.

Medieval Times Toronto Meal

And yes, we couldn’t resist the spoils from the gift shop… If you haven’t visited the Medieval Times Toronto Castle, or any other castle, that is, I highly recommend giving it a shot the next time your family is nearby. My only advice to you is that you go into it ready to be loud and to have fun!

Medieval Times Toronto

Disclosure: Medieval Times hosted my family for our most recent visit to the Toronto Castle, however I have loved the show since the first time I went.

Disney Dream Cruise Ship

My Completely Biased, Non-Objective Review Of Our Disney Cruise

Yep, you read the title correctly. As I sat here and framed out this blog post, I realized that I didn’t have a single bad thing to say about our recent trip aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship. We were there as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration conference but my opinion of the cruise has nothing to do with that either. It was just a really, really fun experience and is something we are absolutely going to do again!

Let me walk through it from start to finish as best I can remember it all. I’ll try to throw in some tips along the way but seeing as how it was my first Disney cruise, what the heck do I know about tips and tricks? That said, tip #1 is to try to get an early boarding time if possible. Boarding was quick and easy, with the added touch of having your family announced on the loud speakers as you walk onto the ship as the staff are all lined up clapping for you. It felt like we were walking the red carpet! I say to try to board early because we walked by the main lobby a couple hours later and people were still being announced! All I could think of was how sore the staff members’ hands would be from all the clapping.

Disney Dream Sail Away Party

Tip #2, which probably should have been tip #1, is to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. You will get an itinerary left in your room each day but the app was a far better resource in finding out what was happening on the ship at any given time. It’s also handy for its chat feature in case you get split up on the ship. We mostly used it to find out when the character meetings would be so we could get there early to avoid lines.

Disney Dream Cinderella

Speaking of Disney characters, they were everywhere! There was definitely no shortage of character meetings and we never saw a line that was excessively long. On the last night of the cruise, you are treated to a long list of characters and it was amazing to see both children and adults alike, myself included, smiling for pictures with Mickey, Minnie and the gang. You can’t help but relive a bit of your childhood while surrounded by so much joy.

Disney Dream Mickey and Dad

Oh, Tip #3, which should actually be tip #1, then bumping the last tip that should have been #1 to #2… Anyway, you should definitely pre-plan your vacation in advance by reading reviews of the ship and even joining a Disney cruise group or two on Facebook. They are incredibly helpful and will have you feeling like a cruise veteran from the minute you get on the ship. Knowing about things like door magnets, fish extenders, pirate night and where the best seats are for the shows can really enhance your experience.

Speaking of the shows, every single one of them was amazing! I’m not just talking about the shows in the beautiful Walt Disney Theatre either. The sail away party, fireworks display and pirate party were all really fun for the kids as well. Tip #4, we grabbed the same spot on the upper deck, right next to the stage for each show and it was a great view for the kids. There isn’t tiered viewing from the main deck so it made it seem like if you weren’t in the front row, you wouldn’t get the best view of the fun. Also, we spent the extra money on pirate makeovers at the Pirates League in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the kids ended up looking amazing and loving their new pirate looks. I have to admit I was skeptical about spending the money, as it wasn’t cheap, but it was totally worth it.

Disney Dream Pirate Night

I forgot to mention the big production shows! Not being a big theatre guy, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the shows on board the Disney Dream but they absolutely blew my mind! The first night we were treated to the Golden Mickeys, which was an award show with some amazing performances. Tip #5, maybe, if your kids like to be a part of the shows, you’ll want to sit in the front row for this one as Snow White needs a few extra dwarves and that’s where we saw them pick the kids from. The next night we were treated to a Beauty and the Beast show that easily could have been on Broadway, not that I’ve ever been to Broadway, but in my mind it was Broadway-worthy! Finally, the show I was least interested in attending prior to attending was called Disney’s Believe. As it turns out, it ended up being my favourite of the trip and not just because it was the story of a workaholic father and a daughter who wants him to find his imagination again. So what if I cried during the show, it’s totally acceptable in today’s society!

A post shared by Chris Read (@canadiandadblog) on

Where was I? Ah yes, the shows were great and the popcorn was even better, which brings us to Tip #6. Not everything is covered on the trip. Popcorn is one of those things but you can cut the cost considerably by purchasing the refillable container on your first day aboard the Disney Dream. Refills are only about $1 after that so you and your kids can enjoy as much as you want without breaking the bank!

Since I mentioned food, we might as well talk about it. This might be the single greatest reason why I would choose a Disney Cruise over almost any other vacation from now on. Every meal I ate became the greatest meal I have ever had and while that sounds like an exaggeration, I promise you I was melting into my seat with each bite. I’m a terrible food photographer but I am excellent at eating food, so I mostly stuck to that skill.

Disney Dream Family Dinner

We had a couple meals at the Enchanted Palace, including (tip #7) lunch immediately after boarding the ship, which I highly recommend doing as it is not very busy at this time. We also ate dinner at the Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate, both of which were excellent. Animator’s Palate was neat because there were video screens on the walls and characters were pop up from time to time and talk to them. I’d also love to give a shout-out to our dinner crew, Ravindra and I Made, who made our dining experience a magical one. From making Mickey Mouse out of ketchup blobs to performing magic tricks for the kids throughout our stay, they were the best duo we could have asked for. Side note and tip #8, there are 2 dinner service times, so make sure you sign up for the one you want way before your trip. Our kids are better suited for the 8pm time slot, so it worked out that I screwed up and didn’t pick one in time. You have no excuse now!

Hands down, the coolest feature on the Disney Dream cruise ship has to be the Kids Club. What is Kids Club, you ask? Well, Kids Club is a magical section of the ship where you simply drop your kids off and then go up to your room for a nap, errr, I mean, you go off and explore all the fun places on the ship that kids aren’t allowed to go, such as the adults only swimming area, packed with a pool, hot tub, lounge chairs and bar service.

Disney Dream Games Room Kids Club

Back to Kids Club, it is a place for kids to hang out any time throughout the day or night to not only give parents some time alone but also for the kids to have a blast and meet other kids. We were allowed to tour the club during the open house on the first day but it was no parents allowed from that point on. Kids Club has a video game room, a movie room, a craft room and a ton of activities planned throughout the cruise such as baking and slime making. There is also an amazing mock-up of the Millennium Falcon that you can sit in and control. Yes, I was jealous. The security is extremely tight when picking the kids up and you get to create a secret password that you have to tell the counsellor before taking your kids out of the club. Tip #9, don’t pick a stupid password like I did because you will be forced to continue saying it throughout the weekend and it never starts to sound less dumb.

Disney Dream Milennium Falcon Kids Club

Also, of note, you know how you go out for dinner and your kids finish their meals before you’ve even taken your first bite of food and then they pepper you with questions and hang off your arms talking about how bored they are for the rest of the meal? Yeah, not on the Disney Dream! One hour after you have been seated, counsellors from the Kids Club come into the restaurant and take your kids to the club with them so you and your significant other can enjoy the rest of your meal, and possibly a fancy drink, and possibly dessert, and maybe a 2nd dessert…

I talked about the adult’s only pool area but there were also a bunch of bars/clubs on the ship for the after-hours crowd. While I’m not much of an after-hours person these days, I did spend a couple nights in the very fancy, Pink, bar. While it is technically a champagne bar, our server, Pen, was more than happy to grab us our favourite IPAs from the bar next door. Tip #10, the next time you cruise on the Disney Dream, please go in and say hi to Pen for me. She was a great host and loves entertaining people!

Disney Dream Kids Ship

Look, even I’m tired of writing at this point but this stuff is important, so stay with me here another couple minutes, okay? I only have a couple more things and then I’ll finish with a flurry of extra short form notes.

The Disney Dream 3-night cruise docks at Nassau, Bahamas and again at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, which is pronounced Castaway “Key” for some reason I never bothered to ask about. When I found out that there was a Castaway 5K run, that also came with a fancy medal, I decided to register myself and the kids. It was a lot tougher than I expected and the kids embarrassed me by lapping me and laughing while they did it… Still, I finished, got the medal and then ate some delicious BBQ on the beach!

A post shared by Chris Read (@canadiandadblog) on

Castaway Cay was definitely one of the bigger highlights of the trip for us. Even with her cast on, my daughter had an amazing time in the water, which, by the way, was ice cold, as I pulled her around in an inner tube. We shared fancy, age appropriate drinks, ate amazing BBQ food and lounged like we never have before. There are plenty of excursions you can book for your day on the island but we choose to make it as relaxing a day as possible, which was absolutely the right call for us.

Disney Dream Castaway Cay

Okay, I promised to end with a flurry, so here are a few other notes from our time on the Disney Dream!

1. I was very impressed with the emphasis put on cleanliness aboard the Disney Dream. Not that I expected it to be gross but the ship was immaculate. Every restaurant, event and especially the Kids Club required you to either wash your hands or use a sanitizing wipe before entering and it was great to see how seriously they treated those pesky germs!

2. Our cruise director, Mike, was amazing. We met him on day 1 and he told my daughter he’d have to sign her cast later in the trip. Well, true to his word, we found him on our last night and he not only signed her cast but spent some time asking her about herself. What a great guy!

3. We found out that you can order milk & cookies before bed through room service. Consider this Tip #11.

4. Finally, a huge shout out to Shilpa in Guest Services, who definitely had the biggest positive impact on the trip for us. I can’t really get into it because I’m not sure if she was supposed to do what she did for the kids, but rest assured, they will never forget her kindness, and neither will we. Disney has a great one in her and if you happen to be aboard the Disney Dream, you should definitely go down and give her a high five for us!

Disney Dream Family

I’m sure there are a million things I forgot to talk about but this should cover all your basic needs when it comes to climbing aboard a Disney cruise for the first time! It quite literally was a dream come true to sail aboard the Disney Dream and we will absolutely return for a future cruise! That said, if you do have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or shoot me an email chris@canadiandad.com! Cheers!

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.

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.

Oral-B Genius Blog Post

My Toothbrush Is Smarter Than I Am…

You know how I know I’m getting old? My new toothbrush has its own app, that’s how! That’s right, Oral-B was kind enough to send me their new Genius 8000 rechargeable toothbrush with position detection technology and I was actually afraid that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use it. Luckily for me, and you, there was nothing to worry about and everything to be excited about with this toothbrush.

Oral B App

Examples of how the Oral-B App can help!

A little backstory on my relationship to my teeth. As my dentist will gladly let you know, I have not always been a model student when it comes to checkups. Four root canals, multiple fillings and an extraction later and you’d think I would have learned my lesson, but no. I still stare into the bathroom mirror every morning, mindlessly brushing the same spot for 30 seconds before giving up and moving on with my day.

All that has changed since I started using the Oral-B Genius 8000, which I should add is my first electric toothbrush, because it has made brushing my teeth fun again. Every morning I pull it out of its hardcover case, wave it around like a 6 year old with a lightsaber, and flip open the Oral-B app. The app is outstanding, too. Here is just a small list of the things the app and brush do while I am brushing:

* Oral-B Genius 8000 has revolutionary Position Detection Technology. Using Bluetooth technology, the app uses my Smartphone’s selfie cam and detects my face to help guide better brushing in my mouth.

* When I have effectively brushed a section of my mouth, the app and brush let me know by lighting up on the screen and vibrating in my hand. Inside the brush, there is a Wii-like sensor the communicates to the app where you are brushing.

* The app encourages you to brush for the dentist recommended two minutes. The average manual brush user brushes for less than a minute and Oral-B App users on average brush 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

* The brush will stop over-aggressive brushers (ie. me!) by switching to sensitive mode and lighting up red when they are pushing too hard in their mouth.

* Has new settings including a whitening setting + whitening brush head as well as new pro-clean mode. Teeth will appear whiter in just one use of the Genius.

* My favourite feature is the brushing challenge, which gives me a score based on how well I brushed all areas of my mouth, providing incentive to better that score the next time around.

Oral-B Genius 8000

Yeah, I know! This toothbrush has completely changed the way I look at brushing my teeth and has shown me how terrible I have been at it for such a long, long time. Oh, did I also mention that it comes with stylish travel case that charges both the brush and a smartphone or small device? I can’t wait to test this thing out while on the road!

Ladies, if you are looking to surprise the father in your life with something unexpected this Father’s Day, may I recommend the Oral-B Genius 8000. He may be offended that you are insulting his oral hygiene but he will fall in love with this magical piece of technology! Now if only I could get it to start tweeting for me…

Disclosure: I received this toothbrush as part of this campaign and have never felt more like Luke Skywalker in my life.

Stars on Ice Happy Kid

Where’s The Backflip? – A Stars on Ice Story

Last week we were fortunate enough to bring our daughter and a friend to the latest Investors Group Stars on Ice show here in Ottawa and, as expected, it did not disappoint!

For me as a father, this was a bittersweet event. You see, when we had originally booked these tickets our daughter was right in the middle of her figure skating season and seemed to be loving it. Her coach had just recommended that we move her into a more advanced level of skating, because of course with this kid, and we were weighing our options to try to keep up with all the kids’ activities.

Three sessions later and we were now sending an email to her skating coach to let her know that our future Elizabeth Manley would be stepping away from figure skating to focus on gymnastics. The sudden shift away from her love for skating took us by surprise but was obvious from watching her in those final sessions. We’re not sure whether she simply had too much on her plate or if she really wasn’t enjoying it anymore but I was sad because I really loved watching her skate.

All that said, I was worried that she wouldn’t enjoy the Stars on Ice show as much now that she wasn’t skating anymore, but I’m happy to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m pretty sure that my daughter was more excited to see Kurt Browning, or Brownie as she still calls him, more than my wife was and my wife REALLY likes Kurt Browning… More than that, my daughter was excited to see Kurt do his famous backflip.

As the show went on and the skaters dazzled us with their best moves and amazing routines, she kept asking, “When is he going to do the backflip?”, to which we had no response except for her to keep watching. As Kurt’s final performance ended, she was close to tears as she pointed out that the backflip hadn’t happened. Just then, the skaters came back out on to the ice to wave goodbye, Kurt started his wind up and, BAM, nailed the backflip!

My daughter leapt from her seat in the same way I had when Joe Carter hit the World Series winning homerun. As my wife, who’s excitement matched that of my daughter’s, cheered the backflip, I noticed a little water in her eyes. When I asked her about it later she mentioned that seeing our daughter so happy got her feeling a little emotional. You can’t really go wrong with a mom like that, and you also can’t go wrong by taking your littles to see this amazing show.

For more information on upcoming shows and tickets you can check out the Stars on Ice website. Oh, and Kurt, if you ever want to talk fatherhood, I’d be happy to conduct that interview (insert winky face here). I promise not to let my wife hijack the call…

About Investors Group Stars On Ice

Founded in 1986 by skating icon and Olympic Gold Medallist Scott Hamilton, the Stars on Ice Tour originated in the United States. In 1991, Stars on Ice began to tour Canada and has now played nearly 300 shows in the past 25 years. Past tour performers include Kurt Browning, Jamie Salé & David Pelletier, Kristi Yamaguchi and Elvis Stojko. Investors Group Stars on Ice presented by Lindt is produced by IMG, the global leader in sports, fashion and media. For more information about the tour, visit www.starsonice.ca. Keep in touch with Investors Group Stars on Ice presented by Lindt on Facebook: www.facebook.com/starsonice Instagram: www.instagram.com/starsonice, and on Twitter: twitter.com/starsonice.

Disclosure: My family was provided tickets to this event.

Stars on Ice Kurt Browning Backflip

Whirlpool Washer Dryer

The King of Laundry Mountain!

Mostly due to the fact that I am overly passionate about the way I feel the laundry should be done, I have inherited the title of “clothes cleaner” in our house. It’s not a glamourous job but it’s one that I have learned to enjoy doing, also because I believe that chores are an act of love. I am a huge laundry nerd, which we will cover in a future blog post, so deal with it!

Plus there’s really no task that music can’t make more fun and exciting, right? I’ll give you a minute to imagine me folding bed sheets while dancing to Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs”. A couple months ago while working on my t-shirt folding salsa dance, I heard a strange noise coming from our washing machine and knew it was time to say goodbye.

Our previous Whirlpool set served us well for 12 years, so when it was time to purchase new appliances, Whirlpool products were the natural choice. I couldn’t believe the innovative new features that were now available since I was last in the market for a washer and dryer. I guess that sounds ridiculous to say considering how everything seems to change so quickly these days, but it still caught me off guard.

Before I get to the cool features of our new washing machine I have to give a huge shout out to my mom for letting me use their washer/dryer for the couple months that we were without. You have no idea how much laundry you actually go through until you spend 2 weeks watching it pile up into a giant mountain on the floor. I was wearing clothes that hadn’t seen daylight in years, possibly ever, but we got through it and I believe we are a stronger family because of it!

The machine we chose was the Whirlpool 4.8 cu. ft. I.E.C. Front Load Washer with Closet-Depth Fit and two weeks in I am loving it. I think my favourite feature about this model is that it has a 12-Hour FanFresh® option which keeps clothes fresh for up to 12 hours after the wash cycle has ended. A built-in fan activates after the wash cycle is over, tumbling clothes for up to 12 hours so you can finish laundry when you’re ready.

Another awesome feature with the washer is the Load & Go™ system, which lets you skip adding detergent to every load. The Load & Go™ cartridge holds enough detergent to wash up to 12 loads of laundry and with their precision dispense technology you can simply fill it and forget it. You can see all the other features, such as Adaptive Wash Technology and EcoBoost by checking the unit out on the Whirlpool website! These innovations have all been inspired by the way families care for each other so that they can get the job done better and faster.

I’m going to be talking a lot about laundry in the coming months because I feel like it gets a bad rap. Now if you’ll excuse me I just heard the beautiful sound of another load of laundry that needs folding!

Disclosure: I was provided with a new washer/dryer set from Whirlpool, however I reached out to them in the first place because we were so happy with our last Whirlpool set.

Disney Moana

Disney’s Moana Review

I took my daughter to go see Disney’s new feature film, Moana, and we both absolutely loved it! While it may not have the same powerful soundtrack that a movie like Frozen had, Moana was fun and exciting from start to finish while also having an amazing message that even my 6 year old could grasp.

Besides Moana, who is a strong, ambitious and bright young girl, my favourite character was Maui, who is played by The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. His arrogance made for some hilarious scenes but his kindness keeps you rooting for his character throughout the movie. As you will see in the video from our experience, my daughter’s favourite character was Moana’s grandmother who is another bright spot throughout the movie.

The one thing that always strikes me about Disney’s movies is that there always seems to be an underlying message for viewers to think about. Whether it’s a strong political message in a movie like Zootopia, which I was lukewarm about, or the emotional roller coaster that was Inside Out, Disney seems to to want to make more than fluff piece movies that you will forget about in a week or two. Moana was no different as it delivers a strong message about the environment and the effects of taking from the land without giving anything back.

I really hope you get a chance to check out Moana because outside of Big Hero 6, this was my favourite Disney offering in a long time. Yes, I enjoyed Frozen, I am not a monster, but this one had so many great scenes that we will definitely be buying the DVD when it comes out so we can watch it over and over again! Feel free to check out the video I put together of our experience at the screening and I’d love to hear what you thought of Moana once you get a chance to see it!