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!

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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!

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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!

Cirque Du Soleil Corteo

Win A Family 4-Pack To Opening Night Of Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo!

Disclosure, I was provided with tickets to the show in exchange for this post.

It wasn’t until my daughter started gymnastics a few years ago that I could truly appreciate the beauty and difficulty of a Cirque Du Soleil show. I’m sure that sounds ridiculous because of course it’s difficult to do what they do, but after seeing my daughter break her arm on a relatively common gymnastics move, I can’t imagine the skill and concentration it must take to fly through the air, gripping only a piece of metal or cloth the way the Cirque performers do!

In fact, up until recently, I thought there were open tryouts for Cirque Du Soleil and had even started putting together my audition portfolio. As it turns out, being really good at softball and a decent all around athlete in your youth does not qualify you for Cirque fame… Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be able to use these photos for something else down the road.

Canadian Dad Cirque Du Soleil Audition

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While a career in acrobatics may not be in my future, I will certainly be attending the upcoming Cirque Du Soleil show, Corteo, with my family when it comes to my hometown of Ottawa from June 27 to July 1 at the Canadian Tire Centre this summer. To celebrate it’s arrival, I want you to be able to enjoy the show, too!! If you’d like to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to opening night of the show in Ottawa, simply fill out as many entries as you’d like on the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll choose a winner in a couple weeks!

“Join the parade and get carried away with life!”

CORTEO brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth. You can get a sneak peek of the show by checking out this Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo Trailer!

If this is your first time attending a Cirque Du Soleil show, I am so excited for you and promise you will be counting the minutes until they return again! Hope to see you there!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gymnastics Dad

The Rewards Of Being A Gymnastics Dad

I probably should have written this story sooner but life is busy sometimes, okay, so back off!! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. You guys are great! I’ve told the story before of how my daughter was the first girl born into my dad’s side of the family in over 70 years, so my entire journey of fathering a daughter to date has been new, challenging, rewarding and amazing.

One of the many differences has been with my daughter’s choice of extra-curricular activities. I played hockey and baseball for as long as I can remember and my son followed in those same footsteps, even though I tried to get him to try other sports. My daughter, however, found her love in gymnastics, and man is she ever good at it! Every time I see her do a new move, it feels like the most incredible feat I have ever seen.

Although I know nothing about gymnastics, I still like being a part of the gym and help out whenever I can. My daughter’s coach, knowing that I try to be a team player, had asked me if I would do a little performance with my daughter for the Christmas showcase and naturally, I agreed. The idea was simply that my daughter would do a move and I would then try to replicate that move in front of all the parents and children in attendance. Easy enough, right?

Well, what actually ended up happening was that my daughter and I ended up choreographing an entire routine to surprised everyone in attendance. A couple notes about this. First, I was waaaay more nervous than I expected I would be, which then caused my foot to cramp up minutes before we went on. Second, the video below was posted to Facebook and now has over 2 million views, which is crazy! Finally, no, I don’t know how I nailed that first cartwheel and failed so badly on the other. I’m guessing it was a combination of age and lack of grace…

Luckily for me, there wasn’t too much pain the next day, although I’m guessing the shock of the video going viral probably helped. We never expected so many people to love the routine but I am so grateful that everyone got to see just how talented my little girl is! I wasn’t sure about this gymnastics thing when she started in it but it has ended up being an extremely important and rewarding part of our lives.

So, without further ado, and if you haven’t seen it, please enjoy what was one of the best nights of my life!

CD Podcast 15 - Mike Reynolds

Canadian Dad Podcast: Ep. 15 – Father, Speaker, Cross-Stitcher, Mike Reynolds

Today on the podcast I speak to Mike Reynolds from EverydayGirlDad.com. On the show we cover topics such as:

– Body Image for Men

– Mike’s switch from PuzzlingPosts.com to EverydayGirlDad.com

– Mike’s new found love of Cross-Stitching

– Speaking in New York on the Changing Face of Maculinity

– Mike’s t-shirts for Charity Venture

– The hopeful revival of our Creative Minds Podcast

You can visit Mike’s Everyday Girl Dad Project on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

I hope you enjoy the show and please feel free to leave a very kind review if you see fit! 😀

Canadian Dad Podcast 14 - Casey Palmer

Canadian Dad Podcast: Ep. 14 – Fatherhood Writer, Casey Palmer

Today on the podcast I speak to Fatherhood writer, Casey Palmer, from CaseyPalmer.com. On the show we cover topics such as:

– Finally meeting in person at the Dad 2.0 Summit

– Casey’s Live From the 3.5 Project, which began as a Black History Month feature but grew into a something much bigger

– Our thoughts on the dad blogging space in Canada and if blogs are on the way out

– What we hope our platforms will do to inspire our kids creatively.

– Casey’s time at the Parenting 101 Conference in Kelowna, BC

You can catch Casey on his blog CaseyPalmer.com, Twitter @CaseP, Facebook MrCaseyPalmer and Instagram CaseyPalmer

I hope you enjoy the show and please feel free to leave a very kind review if you see fit! 😀

DisneySMMC

Do You Believe In Disney Magic?

Last week I had the good fortune to have been invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Orlando, Florida. Like most attendees, I brought my entire family to the conference, which took place for 3 days at Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World and then 3 days at sea aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship.

Now, before I continue, let’s address the topic of the conference title. You may not know this but I am not a mom and neither were the other 7 dads in attendance. Do I wish the conference were called Family or Parent Celebration? Sure, that’d be swell. That said, I recognize a couple things here. First, there are 190 or so moms in attendance and 8 dads, although I know more dads were invited. This is essentially the mom to dad ratio in blogging, so I get it. Second, they did an amazing job at saying both moms and dads while on stage all week, and I was never made to feel out of place, so I’m over it.

Let’s move on.

DisneySMMC Chewbacca Family

Dad’s Favourite Character Meeting Of The Week!

The reason for this story is that I went into the conference stressed about how I was going to balance attending sessions with spending quality time with my family. On top of that, I had seen how excited people were about attending and I was feeling guilty because I didn’t understand why everyone was so hyped up. I mean, we’ve been to Walt Disney World before and it has always been fun, if not hectic, but this was a next level excitement that I hadn’t felt since Joe Carter hit the homerun to win the Blue Jays the World Series in 1993!

DisneySMMC Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Next Level Excitement On The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

It wasn’t until the tail end of the opening conference session that I started to understand it. Disney Parks & Resorts Director of Corporate Citizenship, John Breckow, took to the stage and talked to us about Disney’s charitable efforts, with specific emphasis on the Make-A Wish Foundation. He spoke so sincerely about their efforts that you could tell this wasn’t just a Disney executive trying to sell you on why they are great. He really cared about helping kids and I joked with him afterward that no one had ever made me cry that many times in such a short period of time but the stories were so powerful that you couldn’t help but well up. The larger message of his presentation was that Disney tries to say, “Yes”, as much as humanly possible and this was proven to us multiple times throughout our trip.

Dad Dancing DIsneySMMC

Letting Go And Being Part Of The Show At Animal Kingdom!

After John’s presentation, I felt like I was in a trance for the rest of the week. You might know me as a happy-go-lucky dad on the blog but the truth is that I can be a grump at times and things that might normally have bothered me on this trip were quickly brushed aside as I was able to focus only on the good that was happening around me. Essentially what happened was that I was able to revert back to seeing Disney through a child’s eyes, while also enjoying watching my own children’s excitement as their father, if that makes any sense? I felt just as excited to see characters like Mickey, Minnie, Sully and Chewbacca as my kids were and it felt great to allow myself to feel that type of childish joy.

Dad Mickey Minnie DisneySMMC

Hanging With Mickey & Minnie at #DisneySMMC

I’m not going to get into every minor detail of our trip in this post but wanted to leave with this message. Visiting Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime trip for a lot of families and you will get a lot more enjoyment out of your stay if you allow yourself to see the parks through a child’s eyes. Buy the memory maker package and jump in to the character pictures with your kids. Ride “It’s A Small World” 20 times, sing along each time and make sure to do the actions on the restaurant signs while you are in line for it. Be a parent who is also a child at heart and your experience will be a magical one!

Snoring Dad

Snores On A Plane

I don’t get out much. In fact, I generally take one trip a year to wherever the Dad 2.0 Summit happens to be. I’m not a huge fan of flying but I tolerate it because it sure beats driving 4 days to get from point A to point B. That said, something happened on my latest flight that I feel I need to talk about, even though it is potentially embarrassing. I mean, transparency is the deal I made to you all when I started this blog, right?

Let me set it up by saying that I have been battling illness since Christmas and going into my trip to New Orleans for the conference, I was feeling pretty drained. I got through the first couple days with no issues but the night before I was set to leave, I was up all night, even having to find a pharmacy at 2am to grab some meds to help me sleep.

Some other things you need to know about me. I am incapable of napping. It’s true that while most people, especially parents, can lie down and pass out in seconds, I have never been able to have a nap regardless of how tired I might be. Oh, and this is important, I’ve been told by multiple sources that I snore, even though I have firmly denied this claim as fake news.

I was all set to come home on Sunday afternoon when we hit a bit of a snag. Our already delayed Delta flight out of Detroit had landing gear issues after taking off and had to return to the airport. This was stressful enough and then we found out that we wouldn’t be able to leave again until around 3:00am. For someone who was not feeling the greatest, this was not the news I wanted to hear. As much as I tried to get comfortable in the terminal, it just wasn’t happening.

When we finally boarded the plane again, I must have passed out right away in my seat because I was woken up by the gentleman in the seat next to me. He mentioned that I was snoring VERY loudly and just wanted to make sure I was aware. I looked around, stunned, and saw the smirks on a couple passengers faces. Instead of being mortified, as you might imagine, I laughed it off and made sure to keep my eyes wide open the rest of the flight.

I only wish I was able to channel whatever it was that allowed me to nap on this occasion so I could use that for future nap attempts… I’m sure it had nothing to do with it being 3am and having been awake almost 24 hours.

Hockey Kid

It’s Not About Me. It’s Not About Me. It’s Not…

Letting go of things is hard for me, but with the help of my kids I’m learning. My son is a fairly athletic kid. He actually reminds me a lot of myself at his age. Good at everything but not quite a superstar at anything, yet. It’s a good spot to be in.

He plays house league hockey and has been having a lot of fun, which is the point, right? I used to sign him up for extra skating sessions and camps but this season he told me he doesn’t want to do any of the extra stuff because he doesn’t enjoy it. He said he still loves hockey, just not the extra things.

Although I fought him on it a little bit, I ultimately respected his wishes and stopped booking extra stuff. I guess I just see that he has so much potential and want him to be able to unleash it as he grows. The thing is, he’s happier without it, and it took me until this season to realize that that’s enough. In fact, that’s everything.

MVP Hockey

All smiles with his MVP award!

I didn’t get picked as a coach this year, so I get to watch from the stands. I find myself holding my breath with anticipation of my son’s next turn on the ice. He works so hard out there and makes me proud every single shift. I’m serious, between his work on the ice and his sister’s in the gym, I’m ashamed of the amount of time I waste in my daily life.

The point here being, we all want our kids to be the best at the things they choose to love, but it needs to be on their terms. We stopped doing the extra ice times and yet he is still excelling because he loves the sport and works his tail off. Sure, it took me a while to figure it all out but I’ve arrived at the point of acceptance and it has been a fun ride watching him smile out there!

I’m never more proud than when other parents come up to me after a game to let me know that they think my son played great. If only he was this enthusiastic about his homework…

Diabetes Heart Disease

My Heart Matters: The Connection Between Diabetes And Heart Disease

Throughout the years, I have gone from a competitive athlete to a good rec league player, and now find myself doing very little physical activity paired with a diet that is almost too embarrassing to talk about. Between shift work, kids’ activities and a busy extra-curricular schedule, there are a lot of factors I could blame this drop on, but the truth is that it is almost 100% laziness on my part and that’s something I have resolved to work on in 2018.

It wasn’t until recently that I really started feeling the effects of what I’ve done to my body over the years. Extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, sore muscles even with no activity. It has been a strain on my life and has been affecting my time with my family. Even with the threat of type 2 diabetes creeping in, I have still managed to let things go way too far. I’m guessing those suffering from the disease would give me a good slap, especially considering approximately one in two people with type 2 diabetes will die of heart disease (which includes heart attack, heart failure and stroke). According to new research, almost half of Canadians, myself included, were unaware of this connection and therefore their risk.

Let’s do this, more as an exercise to scare myself into shape, but also so that you can understand just how serious type 2 diabetes can be. Here are just a few of the stats I read about on the website My Heart Matters, and only as it pertains to the link between diabetes and heart health.

– People with type 2 diabetes can also experience heart problems such as heart attack and heart failure.
Studies show that people with diabetes may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than people without diabetes, but only 50 per cent of Canadians with type 2 diabetes are aware of this fact.
47% of Canadians with type 2 diabetes believe there are no medications that control blood sugar levels and heart disease, while there are diabetes treatments that can reduce the risk of having a heart-related event or dying from heart disease.
While controlling blood sugar is important in managing diabetes, it may not be enough to protect the heart. The good news is that recent advances have been made in managing the risk of death from heart disease in people with diabetes.
People with diabetes are over three times more likely to be hospitalized for heart health problems than people without diabetes.
While 96 per cent of Canadians with type 2 diabetes see their doctor at least once a year, many are not having conversations about their risk of heart disease.
Only 38 per cent of Canadians with diabetes are aware that heart disease is the number one cause of death for those with diabetes.

Every one of those is a sobering fact and my hope is that it’s enough to get me moving before I have to start really worrying about it. Knowing that type 2 diabetes is something that can be avoided is definitely a motivating factor and while I likely won’t document my entire journey to health, I can guarantee that it will be taking place.

For those already dealing with type 2 diabetes, when they understand the risks that come with diabetes they are better positioned to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of heart disease. Canadians living with diabetes have plans for the future, which include improving their health & lifestyle (73 per cent); travelling & exploring (61 per cent) and spending more time with children or grandchildren (36 per cent), so it’s critical that they speak with their doctor about steps they can take to help manage their risk of heart disease.

You can read more about the links between type 2 diabetes and heart disease by visiting the My Heart Matters website and taking a simple assessment to learn your risk of type 2 diabetes-related heart disease. It may be uncomfortable for you, but it’s far better than the alternative for ignoring it.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by an alliance of two of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies . I was compensated for my time in writing about this important topic.

Tough Kid

Toughness Comes In All Sizes

I can still vividly remember the high school gym class where I suffered my first, and only, major injury. We were learning to play rugby, a bad idea to begin with, when I took a hit in the back from one of the rougher kids in the school. He fell on my knee and I felt a distinct popping sound, only to find out later that day that I had torn ligaments in my knee.

It was an especially bad time for this particular injury as I had worked my way into the 2nd of 4 tryouts for the Team Ontario fastball team, with a chance to tryout for Team Canada if you made it. I’m under no delusion that I would have made Team Canada but the option was most definitely gone now.

What I remember most about this time was how I started feeling sorry for myself. I stopped rehabbing as hard as I could and spent a lot of time sulking around while my friends and teammates had another championship season. Because they felt bad, I received an invite to the final Team Ontario camp the following year but by that point I had already given up on myself.

I tell this story because last week my daughter broke her arm while training at gymnastics and it felt very similar to my story, with one minor difference. She’s been training 20 hours a week at the gym for the last year and was to have her first competition this coming week, so the timing couldn’t have been worse. We were devastated for her because she works so incredibly hard, as do all the girls, and we weren’t sure how she was going react to not being able to compete. If I’m being completely honest, we were also sad that we wouldn’t get to see all her hard work pay off in competition.

Broken Arm Gymnast

The difference between my story and my daughter’s is the way she has handled everything so far. While there have been a couple moments of frustration at not being able to do something she was used to doing, she has generally been all smiles and remained our happy little warrior. In fact, one week after the break she was back at the gym on her regular schedule, with a modified workload from her coach. We were nervous about letting her go back so soon but she begged and the doctor said it was fine, so we caved.

I have never been more proud of her than when a man approached me at practice on her first day back and asked if that was my daughter out there training with a cast in a sling. When I replied yes, he congratulated me on raising such a tough daughter and it opened my eyes to just how strong she is, both physically and mentally. Her love for this gym and motivation to be great at this sport is something that I carry with me every day.

She may not have gotten this strength from me but I am learning a lot about toughness from watching her, not just through this, but in general with the way she carries herself. She is absolutely a poster child for the fact that strength comes in all sizes.

Beautiful Gymnast