Posts

Audible Canada

If You Love Books, You’ll Love This News!

Here’s something about me that you may not have known. While I love a good book, I’ve never really been a fan of sitting there and holding the physical book in my hands. Call me lazy if you want but I know who I am and that’s just not something I’m interested in doing.

I’m an audio book kind of guy because it allows me the freedom to work and listen to my favourite books at the same time. And yes, the term “work” occasionally means lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling but I don’t see why we have to get into all of that… Access to audio books has been a challenge but they still have books on CD at the library even though I feel like a dinosaur when I check them out.

So I was very excited this week when I found out that Audible, an Amazon company, was launching a unique and dedicated digital storefront for Canadian consumers as of September 13th! As a fan of listening to audio versions of books, I am pumped to know that I can now visit Audible.ca or download their new Audible.ca app for iOS or Android and be listening to my favourite books anywhere I go!

I also think it’s very cool that Canadian customers will be able to check out curated Audible playlists from leading Canadian voices like Margaret Atwood, George Stroumboulopoulos, Julie Le Breton, and more, as well as offering the best spoken word content from Canada and around the world. Hey, I figure if a book is good enough for Strombo, it’s perfect for me!

I had the opportunity to test out the Audible.ca service and wanted to share my original Playlist with you! Without further ado!

1. Game of Thrones, baby! ~ by George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones Audible

That’s right, number 1 on my list had to be Game of Thrones! I am not ashamed to admit that I have seen every episode of this show more than once (maybe 3-4 times) but the thought of picking up those huge books was daunting.

Now I have access to the entire collection, which I am fortunate enough to be able to listen to while I am at work. Sure, I may know what’s going to happen but I’ve been wanting to hear the deeper details since I first watched the show!

 

 

2. Ready Player One ~ by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One Audible
 

This is probably my favourite book of all-time. I have read it approximately 5 times already and it is one of the few hard copy books I bring with me everywhere I go.

With Spielberg’s movie adaptation coming out soon, my love for this one can only go up!

 

 

 

 

3. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth ~ by Chris Hadfield (Canadian!)

Chris Hadfield Astronaut Audible

 

I don’t know of a single Canadian who wasn’t completely captured by Chris Hadfield’s adventures in space. He has a charisma that is infectious in the best possible way.

The second I found out he had a book I purchased it and the rest is history. To hear this book read in his own voice is definitely going to be a treat and I highly recommend that you download a copy today!

 

 

 

4. Waging Heavy Peace ~ by Neil Young (Canadian!)

Waging Heavy Peace Audible

 

What can I say about Neil Young that hasn’t already been said? I grew up as a musician and Young’s music was the standard I used when thinking of the kind of artist I wanted to be.

It didn’t quite work out for me in that field but I still lean on Neil Young’s music in good times and bad and he remains one of the greatest to ever hit the stage.

 

 

 

5. In This Moment ~ by Karma Brown (Canadian!)

In This Moment Karma Brown Audible

 

Another Canadian author rounds out my list of must-reads and I am a huge fan of Karma’s work! She is an incredibly smart writer whose books will draw you in and make you not want to put them down, or turn them off, as it were.

With 3 books currently available on Audible.ca, you will thank me for passing Karma’s name along to you!

 

 

 

That is just a fraction of the books I have already downloaded and with membership starting at only $14.95 CAD per month, including 1 credit/month, I will be reading a ton more before the end of the year! What are you waiting for? Go download the Audible.ca app right now and get started!! You can also visit the Audible Canada Facebook page and the @Audible_CA Twitter account for more news and details!

Oh! Also, make sure to leave a comment letting me know what your top 3 book choices are going to be!

Happy Reading!!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program. That said, I am absolutely addicted to audio books and love that I can listen to them on the Audible app now!

Sears Canada Back To School

Win A $300 Sears Canada Gift Card In Time For Back To School!

There may still be a couple weeks of summer left but it’s Back To School shopping season for parents! Whether you’re sad to see summer come to an end or excited to get back to a structured schedule, you can’t escape the fact that clothing and accessories need to be acquired and I’m going to send you on a Sears Canada shopping spree to help you get it all done!

Sears Canada holds a place close to my heart as my grandmother worked there for years and would take me there on the bus at least once a week for many, many years of my youth. I don’t remember much from those years but I do remember hanging in the shoe department and the fact that she used to have a bag full of used tissues that she’d pull out to clean my face. I know that has nothing to do with Sears, I just wanted to throw it in there…

Where was I?? Oh yeah, I took the kids to Sears Canada this week to do our back to school shopping and while I’ll be writing about the full experience later in the week, I can say that I was amazed at how much stuff we were able to get for the budget we had set. I was also impressed with the Sears private label clothing line, as were my kids, which you can see in the above photo.

So, how do you win this amazing shopping experience?? Simply fill out as many of the Rafflecopter entries you feel comfortable with and I’ll draw the winning name in a weeks time! Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!

Under Armour Trampoline

The Importance Of Sports In Our Lives

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

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

Julia UA Gymnastics

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

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

Lucas Under Armour Baseball

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

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

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

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

Team UA Next Ambassadors

Under Armour & Sport Chek Are Looking For The 2018 Team UA NEXT Canadian Youth Ambassadors!

This month marks the launch of the 2nd annual Team UA NEXT Canada Powered by Sport Chek campaign, as it sets out to find the NEXT generation of Under Armour athletes! All 7 to 12 year-old hard-working athletes are eligible to compete to become the face of Under Armour in a brand campaign at Sport Chek stores across Canada.

When I showed this to my kids they both immediately begged me to start shooting video so they could enter the contest. After about an hour of filming for just one of my children I would like to suggest to Under Armour and Sport Chek that they also look for the Team UA NEXT Dad Ambassadors for next year, haha. I’m kidding, I love how passionate they were about having their entry videos look just right!

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

You simply have to submit videos throughout the summer showing your kids’ passion and athleticism to make a compelling case for why they should the next Under Armour athlete. “Last year hundreds of talented young athletes from coast to coast showed us how they hustle, persevere, and compete and we are excited to see who will tryout this year,” said Shana Ferguson, Marketing Director, Under Armour Canada.

The current Team UA NEXT Canada Powered by Sport Chek campaign features twelve-year-olds Brenden McLeod of Newmarket and Maya Rajhans of Etobicoke. Brenden is a hockey and lacrosse player and Maya is a basketball and soccer player. They were chosen because they had the right mix of determination, passion, teamwork, and WILL. Here is a promo video showing Brenden and Maya as Team UA NEXT ambassadors.

I know my kids are pumped to start making videos and I hope you’ll join in as well! For more information on TEAM UA NEXT Canada powered by Sport Chek, or to submit a nomination, visit TeamUAnext.ca. You can follow along and share at the @UnderArmourNext Instagram page as well. Also check out Sport Chek on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as Under Armour on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #TAKEYOURSPOT and #UANEXTCANADA.

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

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.

Subway Panini Header

Subway® Canada Has Paninis Now & My Mouth Is Freaking Out About It!

Before I get into the latest addition to the Subway lineup, I wanted to tell a little story about our local Subway restaurant. My daughter is a competitive gymnast. Yes, it’s a humblebrag, deal with it, and with the number of hours she trains, finding time to prepare meals can often be a chore.

We started going to Subway for dinner every Wednesday before training, a day we cleverly dubbed ‘Subway Wednesday’, because it was a good way for her to get protein, veggies and a milk in before her 4-hour training session. After about 6 or 7 Wednesdays of ordering the same meals, because my kids are petrified of trying new things, we walked in one day and before uttering a word, the employee rhymed off our entire order.

I was equal parts impressed and sad that we were so predictable. Considering how many people are served in a Subway restaurant on a daily basis, I landed on extremely impressed, and my kids were so excited that they literally cannot wait to go back in every Wednesday to see if they remember their order again. They felt like celebrities and who could blame them?

Okay, back to the task at hand. Obviously, when Subway reached out to see if I want to partner with them the answer was an emphatic yes! They are celebrating the launch of paninis in their restaurants and asked me to test them out for you, a task I didn’t take lightly! While I may not be a wizard on the camera, as you can see below, I am a champion eater and tried each and every one of the new Subway paninis for you!

Subway Panini Collage Photo

The Verdict

There are 4 amazing paninis to choose from, which include Chipotle Steak & Cheese, Triple Cheese, Chicken Cordon Bleu and the Italian B.M.T. Melt. After trying them all, and being a meat guy, I tend to gravitate to the Italian B.M.T. Melt but all the paninis were excellent in their own way.

While my kids enjoyed the Italian B.M.T. Melt their dad let them try, they were split on their favourite panini, as my son loved the Chipotle Steak & Cheese, while my daughter was all about that Triple Cheese life! Side note, I’ve been blogging a long time now and it is still a hilarious adventure anytime I try to get pictures of the kids for a blog post. In the end, we always get the shot though!

Kids Subway Panini

You can also keep your eyes peeled for the Subway Panini Express which will be visiting a city near you to hand out free paninis to passersby! You can track the Panini Express on social media by searching the hashtag #PaniniExpress and following their progress!

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to your local Subway restaurant today, try the all-new paninis and then come back and let me know your thoughts! You never know when I might get the itch to give away a few Subway gift cards to my loyal readers!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the Subway panini program.

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.

Canadian Dad Podcast 12

Canadian Dad Podcast: Ep. 12 – Canadian Olympic Gold Medallists Adam Van Koeverden & Jennifer Botterill

I had the privilege of speaking with Canadian Olympic Gold Medallists Adam Van Koeverden & Jennifer Botterill as they promote the new cancer screening tool, My CancerIQ, which takes just 5 minutes and gives you an in depth assessment about your risk of developing certain cancers. In the interview we discuss the My CancerIQ assessment and talk about why it’s so important to stay on top of your health, especially when you have family history.

Adam and Jennifer were also kind enough to answer all of my Olympic questions and had some amazing answers with tips for parents and also for young athletes about what things are important when trying to reach your Olympic goals.

A huge thanks to Adam & Jennifer for making the time to talk!