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!

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!

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…

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

Screaming Fans, An Historic Result & What Not To Do In Montreal

We recently took a whirlwind 24 hour trip to Montreal to see the World Gymnastics Championships and I had no idea so much could happen in that short an amount of time. Allow me to explain.

As mentioned, a large portion of the gymnasts at our daughter’s gym decided to make the 2-hour trip to Montreal for the weekend to watch the World Gymnastics Championships. While we were excited to see all the gymnasts perform and to cheer on our Canadian team, the girls were most excited to see Canadian Olympian Ellie Black perform and she did not disappoint!

With the girls decked out in their ‘Team Ellie’ shirts, they watched as Ellie Black became the first Canadian gymnast ever to win a medal in the all-around competition at the World Championships! I’ll save my rant for why this didn’t get more mainstream sports media coverage for another time…

Daddy Daughter Gymnastics

Watching the girls, each decked out with their own waving Canadian flag, cheer for their favourite gymnasts was my favourite part of the event as you could see the love of the sport in their eyes throughout the entire competition. I actually found myself getting a bit jealous as I’m not sure I’ve ever been as passionate for anything, outside of poutine, than these girls are about gymnastics. Side note: having been to see the Montreal Canadiens live in Montreal, I have to say that the crowd noise for Ellie and Brooklyn Moors would have given the Habs a run for their money!

We actually arrived in Montreal extra early on Friday so we could check in to our amazing hotel, the Residence Inn Montreal Downtown, and then head over to the Montreal Biodome! Tickets to the Biodome were kindly provided to us by the incredible people at Montreal Tourism, and while we had visited once before with the kids, they were too young to remember, making this a special visit.

Kids Montreal Biodome

I can’t say enough about how great the Montreal Biodome is and it was so much cooler than I remembered it from our previous visit. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that we were lugging a stroller and a toddler with us at the time… My daughter was fascinated with the penguins and my son, who is close to that age where nothing is cool anymore, actually admitted that it was pretty cool and then spent a ton of my money on minerals in the gift shop. For me, the highlight was definitely getting to see 2 parrots having a very loud disagreement about whose branch belonged to whom.

Now, I did mention in the title of this post something you should NOT do while you are in Montreal and that thing occurred as we left Olympic Stadium after the gymnastics competition. I went to check the time and directions to the nearest metro station when I realized that I no longer had my phone on me. It turns out that I dropped it sometime in the final minutes before we left and it was nowhere to be found. To say I handled this situation well would be grossly incorrect but my entire life is on that device, which is kind of sad, and I was worried about whose hands it could end up in.

Kids Montreal Metro

We rushed back to the hotel, plugged in my wife’s phone to charge it to 1% and then I called my phone to see if it would be answered. “Olympic Stadium Security”, the man answered as my stress disappeared in an instant. The good news, bad news of this situation was that stadium security had my phone, but it was back at the stadium and 11pm at night. Luckily for me, and being from the archaic Ottawa system, I cannot stress this enough, the metro system in Montreal is incredible! A $6 return trip and I was back in the hotel with my phone in less than an hour. I’m serious, it would have been a minimum 40 drive each way with traffic and parking to contend with. The metro system was my one of my favourite things about our trip.

Montreal Canadiens Store

When we woke up the next morning, we hit the “make your own waffles” machine at the Residence Inn restaurant, always a hit with the kids, and then we walked to my favourite place in Montreal, the Bell Centre, to visit the Montreal Canadiens landmarks and store! I promised my son we’d get out to his first Canadiens game this year and I intend on keeping that promise!

Montreal Canadiens Dab

Being Thanksgiving weekend and with a full sports slate, we had to rush out of Montreal before lunch but it was an amazing trip with plenty of ups and one self-inflicted down that we will never forget! Thank you to Montreal Tourism for the hospitality and to the organizing committee of the Gymnastics World Championships for the amazing event!!

Kids 1st Day School

My Kids Are Growing Up Quickly, And I’m Okay With That

“They’re growing up too fast, please slow it down!”

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of uttering a variation of the above phrase at some point in the 10 years I have been a father. I’m also guessing that we’ve all had moments where our children have left us in awe at their budding independence. I used to dread the day when my kids didn’t want to hold my hand anymore while walking to school, but the more they grow, the more I understand their need to blaze their own trail.

As I walked behind them on the way to school the other day, I watched as they excitedly talked about all the friends they were going to see and which classes they hoped they would end up in. If we accomplish nothing else as parents, I will always be happy that my kids genuinely enjoy each other’s company, which may or may not have anything to do with us but I like to think we helped foster that a little bit.

When we arrived at the school, both kids ran in opposite directions to greet the many friends they hadn’t seen all summer, with neither one of them batting an eye in my direction. This may have upset me a few years ago but now I actually enjoy watching their excitement as they pick up right where they left off with their friends. I’m also thankful that they are fortunate enough to have a strong core of friends to come back to.

I stood by myself for awhile, taking in all the sights and sounds, watching the other parents, each with their own 1st day styles and personalities, and hoping my kids would have a great back to school experience. I forced them both to give me a hug before I left because I’m still a dad who needs a little love and validation, but I walked away knowing that my kids would be able to handle anything that comes their way and that they had each others backs, no matter what.

When I picked them up after school that day and asked how their 1st day went, they answered in unison, “Good!”, before running ahead to walk with their friends. Good is better than bad, right? The way I see it, I can spend time stressing out about the kids growing too quickly and potentially hold them back or I can let them grow and explore at their own pace and be there for them when they need me most.

And, hey, every now and then they’ll throw us a bone, like how they’re still cool with our customary 1st day of school pictures!

Kids 1st Day School 4

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!

Star Wars Prize Pack Fathers Day

My Top 7 “I Am Your Father” Moments {Plus Giveaway!}

Star Wars has provided me with so much joy over the years, with no line being repeated more than the classic Darth Vader shocker, “Luke, I am your father”. To celebrate the upcoming Father’s Day celebrations, I thought I would share my Top 7 “I am your father” moments! Here we go:

7. That time I told the kids to clear their plates after lunch but they forgot and then went to play outside with their friends and then found the same old half-eaten food on their plates for dinner.

6. When the kids were supposed to shower but defiantly avoided it, so I pretended the shower was broken for a week so they could be the smelly kids at school. Lessons learned.

5. When my son threatened to run away because I wouldn’t let him play on his iPad for an extra half hour and then called his bluff by letting him put his shoes on and walking all the way down the street, only to have him realize it was a bad idea and quickly run back home.

4. The day I became the “Worst Dad Ever” for not buying the toy my kid wanted, 5 minutes before their best friend invited them over for a playdate that they needed a ride to.

3. When I told the kids to bring their toys in from outside in case it rained because I wouldn’t replace them, only to have it rain on their not brought in toys, ruining them for good.

2. When my kids found out they loved sports, so my wife and I took on extra jobs to help pay for the costs of competitive sports fees because we want the kids to have the opportunity to explore their full potentials.

1. The day I realized that I get to wake up and experience something new and amazing with these kids every single day and loving every second of it regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

As you can see, for better or worse, there are plenty of “I am your father” moments throughout the days and I absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way. Speaking of that, check out this amazing Happy ‘I Am Your Father’s Day’ video made especially for the Star Wars fans out there!

How cool was that?! Now I want to hear some of your “I am your father” moments, whether they’re happy, funny or other, and I have a great Star Wars prize pack to give away to help make your Father’s Day that much more special! All you have to do to enter is using the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll pick a winner in a few days.

Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, but I really am a father…

Dad Baby Hugs

My Top 6 Favourite Types of Hugs From The Kids

One of the benefits to running a dad blog is that I often get approached by companies who give me great ideas for posts that I wouldn’t have normally thought of on my own. This week I was contacted by Huggies who asked me to talk about the benefits of skin-to-skin hugs and how expecting parents can plan for their first skin-to-skin moments using the Hug Plan!

As you will see in a moment, I am definitely a big fan of hugs but not just for my own benefit. Research has shown that there are many benefits of skin-to-skin hugs provided specifically by dads for their babies. Some of those benefits include:

– Temperature control
– Better infant behavioural responses
– Improved bio-psychological markers
– Better interaction behaviour of fathers with their infants
– Reduced stress and anxiety experienced by fathers

As someone who might be classified as “a hugger” I was excited to read some of the research Huggies provided me with, especially because it was specific to the benefits of hugs between fathers and their children. I know what you’re thinking, “but Chris, you don’t have babies anymore!”, and while that may be true, I don’t want to live in a world where there are no hugs. That said, take a look at a few of my favourite types of kid hugs, in no particular order.

1. The After Work Hug – This hug is also commonly known as the “just got in from a business trip” hug and is one of my very favourites. It begins with my kids moving as far away from me as possible before running towards me at top speed and leaping into my arms as we spin around in circles. This is the kind of hug that lets you know just how loved you are and I look forward to it every time!

2. The Sneak Attack Hug – I usually pull this one off during one of our many wrestling matches, usually when the kids think they are about to finally beat me for once. They think I am putting them in an unbreakable hold but really I am just trying to sneak in some extra hug time.

3. The Morning Snuggle Hug – In the #1 spot on my list of all-time favourite hugs is the morning snuggle. This occurs when the kids roll out of bed and slowly make their way to wherever you are located, then crawl into your arms without saying a word. The only downside to this hug is that you know it has to end at some point.

4. The “Everything Will Be Alright” Hug – There is something very powerful in knowing that your hug can somehow help your child feel better when they are hurt or having a bad day. No parent wants their child to go through hard times but there is a comfort in knowing that you’ll always be there.

5. The “I’m Getting Too Old To Hug My Parents” Hug – I like to call this one the lean and turn. This is mostly used by my kids at school drop off or when they are anywhere near anyone who might see them. It involves their arms at their sides as they press their head against my shoulder while simultaneously turning away from me. I could get frustrated by this but I figure they are still technically hugging me so it’s better than nothing!

6. The “Thank You For Buying Me That Thing I Really Want” Hug – Finally, the biggest hug of them all! That hug when you get your kids that thing they have always wanted. Whether it be a toy, concert tickets or in our case lately, a new fidget spinner, these are the hugs where they squeeze the tightest. Even though they forget about the cool thing they got 5 minutes later and it is kind of like buying a hug, I’ll still take it to see that joy on their faces!

So for all you new dads out there, don’t assume that mom is the only one who can provide benefits for baby early on. Get in there and get your hugs right away! Huggies has developed this very cool Hug Plan to get you started on your way to unleashing the many benefits of skin-to-skin contact and it truly is an amazing resource!

You can follow along with Huggies new campaign by searching the #NoBabyUnhugged hashtag and by visiting them at @HuggiesCanada on Twitter and Facebook, and @Huggies on Instagram.

Happy Father’s Day!!!

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

TownePlace Suites Business Centre

When A Hotel Turns Into A Gymnasium

Disclosure: TownePlace Suites hooked my family up with a stay while we were in Buffalo and certainly exceeded all expectations we had with such a large group.

We traveled to Buffalo last weekend to take part in our daughter’s 1st ever gymnastics competition. I haven’t written much about gymnastics on here yet but if the trend continues, you are going to be sick of hearing about it by the end of the year. We brought the whole Kanata Gymnosphere competitive team and crashed into the TownePlace Suites Buffalo Airport location like a hurricane!

I had tweeted a warning to TownePlace Suites ahead of our trip to make sure they understood what was about to happen and they assured me that they were ready for it. I saw round-offs, back handsprings, cartwheels, handstands and more as the weekend went on and could have sworn we were back at the gym as opposed to being at a hotel. True to their word, though, TownePlace was ready at every turn.

TownePlace Suites Tweet

I have to admit that at one point during our stay I realized I had become the annoying guest who always had a question or request for the front desk, but each time they handled my requests swiftly and with a smile. Even when the kids got a little loud and rambunctious in the lobby area, which may or may not have happened on a couple occasions, the staff were polite in asking them keep it down a bit.

There were so many memories made throughout the weekend that it’s hard for me to talk about all of them but here are a few of the highlights.

The Pool – Something I learned this weekend is that gymnasts are not allowed to go in the pool until after they have finished their competition. That meant for 2 full days the girls could only stare at the hotel pool and dream of how much fun it could be. I’m not sure what I was expecting but those kids hit the water as if they hadn’t swam in years. It was really fun to see their excitement.
The Business Center – Who knew that the TownePlace Suites business center was going to be the place the kids spent the most time in? The girls spent hours on the computers watching, what else, gymnastics videos! I mean, it’s technically the business they were there for, right??
Pizza Night! – I was tasked with ordering pizza for the group on our final night, which is well outside of my area of expertise. That said, I ordered WAAAAY too much pizza but ended up being able to pay the staff back for all my questions by sharing some pizza with them. I’m just going to pretent that was my plan all along…
Breakfast!!! – The breakfast area was my favourite spot in the hotel, for obvious reasons. Every morning, the breakfast nook opened and was filled with goodies such as cereal, fruit, yogurts and my personal favourite, waffles! In fact, I had tweeted to TPS a month before our arrival asking if they had waffles and upon our arrival at the hotel they handed me this note.

TownePlace Suites Waffles

It’s a small gesture but knowing that they cared enough to make our stay a little bit more special is something that will always keep me coming back. We had an amazing trip and can’t wait to see what next gymnastics season has in store for us. I also want to say a huge thank you to TownePlace Suites Buffalo Airport for making our stay a memorable one!

Oh, by the way, we also did some gymnastics while we were in Buffalo! Proud Dad Alert!!

Stumpfs Gymnastics