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Canadian Spotlight: My Interview With Kurt Browning

Kurt Browning 2013

When I found out that Investors Group Stars On Ice was coming to Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place (4pm on April 21st), my first thought was about how great it would be to be able to interview one of it’s stars, Kurt Browning, who is also a Canadian Dad and one of the best skaters that has ever come out of Canada. He is definitely the most entertaining figure skater I have ever watched and is actually the reason I ever got into watching figure skating in the first place. Honestly, he oozes Canadian in everything he does and I’m proud that he’s one of ours.

Kurt has always had a knack for entertaining crowds with his amazing routines, crazy footwork and infectious personality. Seriously, this guy seems to be always smiling and it’s something that I try to model my life after as well. Kurt was gracious enough to grant me the said interview and I have included his answers below. They are a mix of skating and fatherhood questions and it was an honour corresponding with him. I’ll be heading over to Scotiabank Place with my daughter today to catch the show and we are both very excited.

1. How do you feel about the state of Canadian Figure Skating at the moment and do you feel there is enough support from fans and government alike?

After the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario it would seem that the fan base is strong for Canadian skaters and that the skaters themselves are doing very very well. With medals in 3 of the disciplines and even our lady skating to a wonderful standard in the short program shows a strong all round team.

2. Are there any charities that are close to your heart, and why?

I have never really supported one charity more than another actually. It seems that as a skater I have been pulled down certain paths by my career or by the people that I have met along the way.

3. How has fatherhood changed you and has it affected your skating, whether it be the types of routines you do or ability to train as much as you’d like?

Fatherhood has made training harder because I get caught up in lego or tag and sometimes don’t even make it to the rink to practice. Lego is really tough on training 🙂 On a more serious note I have made a few programs that were for my sons and will skate with them in a show featuring skaters with children this fall. My boys don’t really take serious lessons, but they can certainly skate and have fun on the ice.

4. What has been your biggest challenge as a father?

My biggest challenge has been my schedule. Because of what I do I have to travel to do shows and being away from them has been the toughest part.

5. Other than skating, what is your favourite activity to do with your kids?

Other than Lego, we enjoy video games and bouncing on a trampoline as well as playing in the snow in winter. My family in Alberta own off road vehicles and any visit out west is very high on their list of ‘cool things to do’.

6. If you could only choose one, would you rather be a friend or a hero to your children, and why?

I would be selfish and choose friend but maybe a bit of both would be great if it was not asking too much.

7. How hard was it to learn how to jump on hockey skates? Were you scared?

Jumping on hockey skates is super tricky but I have been skating on them since I was a kid and actually enjoy the challenge.

8. Often in sports, we talk about home ice advantage. Have you found that the quality of ice in different rinks around the world creates an advantage for the hometown skaters?

Actually, we very rarely train on the exact ice we compete or perform on so we hardly ever have an actual home ice advantage. It is mostly the fans that create our advantage when we compete.

9. Finally, what is next for you after Stars on Ice? Any plans to hang up the blades? Maybe a Major League Baseball career?

After Investors Group Stars On Ice I will switch back to fatherhood and enjoy a couple of weeks off before going to China and Korea for 3 weeks to skate more shows.

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I’d like to say thank you to Kurt for taking the time to answer all of my questions. It’s just one more reason why I love this space so much. The Investors Group Stars On Ice hits Scotiabank Place in Ottawa at 4pm on Sunday, April 21st and tickets are still available by visiting the Scotiabank Place website. Along with Kurt Browning will be other Canadian stars such as Patrick Chan, Joannie Rochette & Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. I hope to see you there!

Walking in the Shadows

Hockey Hallway

It was one of those situations where you don’t really think about what you are about to do until you actually do it. When I signed my son up for skating lessons, I did so under the pressured haze of our city’s crazy registration system. Other than being excited to share another of my favourite things with him, I hadn’t really considered all of the underlying factors.

When we arrived for his first lesson, something immediately struck me as odd. I hadn’t been to this rink in a while. It happened to be the same place where I got my start as a young skater and I had spent many very early mornings at this rink with my Dad as I traveled through the hockey ranks. The canteen here was also where I held my very first job and learned the art of slacking off.

The very first thing that hit me though, was the smell. It may sound ridiculous but anyone who has had any kind of positive experience inside a local hockey rink will tell you that it has a very specific smell. After a while you kind of forget it’s even there, but coming back to it after so many years I can only compare it to how people describe new car smell. I missed it and beamed a huge smile as the memories started flowing back.

We were told our dressing room number and made our way to the tunnel. I can remember the exact moment the next flash happened. Just as we passed the referee’s dressing room I got hit with a wave of memories all at once and actually had to stop for a minute to process it all. It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I had a great father who passed away far too soon. And in that hallway I felt like I was remembering everything all at the same time. I remembered him carrying my bag down the hallway for me because it was too heavy or because I was too wimpy, tying my skates a little too tight for my liking and always buying me a slush puppie after the game. These are great memories and even though I miss my Dad every single day, I am blessed to have them.

As for my son’s skating experience, it was truly awesome. To see the determination in his eyes as he struggled to stay on his feet, reminded me of a young me, never giving up and always looking to do it better. I’d lost a little bit of that in the past few years but seeing it in my son reminded me how important having that determination is. I’m so proud to be his father and I’m lucky to have had the great parents I did growing up, because I know my children will benefit from that.

It’s pretty amazing how something so simple as skating lessons can bring on such a swell of emotions. In the end, I’m glad that it did because it reinforces how important it is as parents to create great memories for your kids. And as for the slush puppie, my son isn’t a huge fan yet, but we’ll get there.

I’m Crafty and I Know It; Also, When Glue Guns Attack

There I sat with my son, staring at a pile of faux cotton, googly eyes, a marker and a glue gun; thinking, “What am I supposed to do with all this stuff?” I mean, sure, I’ve done crafty things before but nothing of this magnitude or importance. I had no idea how big this 100th Day of School thing was until I checked Pinterest for ideas. Yeah, that’s right, I said Pinterest, so what?! (PS – I even have my own account and everything…)

Anyway, as it turns out, people take this 100 Day thing very seriously! Some maybe even too seriously, but you didn’t hear that from me. We had picked out the idea for the monster shirt a few weeks prior and armed ourselves with the necessary tools to complete the job. If I’m being completely honest, although I didn’t expect my wife to take the reins on this one, I certainly hadn’t factored in the possibility of Daddy being the project manager. We all have our faults and this is one I am working on.

After being informed of our upcoming contract, my son and I put on our hard hats and got down to business. He diligently counted out 100 (or so) googly eyes, while I carefully drew out the monster’s frame.

Monster Time

Once we had the framework done, we were ready to begin gluing the 100 tiny eyes to the shirt. This is the point that my son decided that Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Wii was much more interesting and left me to fend for myself. Everything was going according to plan and I was even starting to get confident in my abilities. Apparently I was getting a little too confident and that’s when my glue gun decided to knock me down a peg…or four. Check out this battle scar.

Glue Gun Mishap

Don’t worry, folks, I’m alright and soldiered through the rest of the project unharmed. Before I do the big reveal of my first major project, I wanted to provide some tips for other less than crafty Dads. First, don’t be afraid of trying crafty things with/for your kids. It’s not as hard as it looks, you can definitely do it and you will feel pretty good about yourself afterwards. Second, glue guns are hot, so try not to glue a googly eye to your finger because it will hurt and leave a scarlet letter on your finger for all to see.

Now let’s get back to business. Without further ado, I present to you our completed 100th Day project, the 100 Eyed Monster!

100th Day

Seriously, this was a lot of fun to make and the pride I felt once it was finished was enough to make me want to create something else very soon. My kids and I have already decided on cardboard space ships for our next project, so keep an eye out for those very soon! I leave you with a shot of a very happy, monster wearing, customer! Cheers!!

Happy Customer

Canadian Spotlight – My Favourite Commercial of All-Time

Canadian Tire

I realize it’s a couple years old but this Canadian Tire commercial absolutely wrecks me every single time. I wish more brands would consider portraying fatherhood in this way because these guys have earned my business based solely on how powerful this commercial is.

Do you know why it’s so powerful? Because it’s real!! And real isn’t boring! I think of this commercial every time I take my kid to the outdoor rink. I think of my Dad, who spent many winters building a rink in our backyard so that we could have fun anytime we wanted. That is what real fathers do. We don’t play with our kids because they bribe us with chips (looking at you, Doritos). We do it because we love them and want them to be happy.

I want to say thank you to Canadian Tire for getting it right and I hope we will see more of this in the future. It’s easy to go for the cheap laugh but it’s far more beneficial to tell it like it is. I hope you like this one as much as I did.

Are Rules Really Meant To Be Broken?

Dance Class Window

See that picture above? That’s the tiny little window I get to look through while my 2.5 year old daughter is in her very first dance class. When we chose this particular dance class, it was under the assumption that it would be just the kids and the teachers in the room. After all, that’s why they have two options, one for parents and tots together and another for kids who are okay on their own.

I was so excited for my daughter as we drove to her first class. She had her little tutu and she was all smiles as she entered the room and ran right over to the mat to sit with her teacher. She barely said goodbye to us and I was more than alright with that because I loved to see how happy she was. As the other families began to file in, half of them surprisingly late, I noticed a trend forming. Over half of the children immediately freaked out at the thought of being left in the room alone, so their parents went into the class and participated with them.

I get the first class jitters thing and while it bothered me that the class was basically a wash due to all the disruptions, I was sympathetic to the fact that some of the kids needed to get accustomed to it. Besides, I had my own problems in the hallway with one of the other Dads, who was breaking the unspoken “Dad Rule” by hogging all the tiny window time. Oh, did I mention that his wife was IN the class with their daughter!

We approached the second class cautiously optimistic that all the kids would be good to go in on their own this time. You know, because this was the reason we all chose this class, right? So the kids could explore their new found freedom and independence. The results were shocking. Not only did over half the parents still walk right in to attend the class, they didn’t even try to let their kids go in alone. None of the kids were screaming. None of them were clinging or dragging their feet. So why were the parents in there??

Here’s the thing. I don’t care about whether your child is comfortable being alone in the class or not. I only care about getting the experience I paid my hard earned money for my child to get. So when 5 out of the 9 kids have parents in the small dance room, it is distracting for the kids who are interested in actually listening to the teacher and following her instructions. Not to mention the fact that the small window I fight to watch through is now blocked by parents on the INSIDE of the room!

This is not a rant against the kids who aren’t comfortable going to dance class by themselves. I’m talking about the parents who signed up for the “no parents allowed” class knowing full well that their child wasn’t ready for it. This may all seem a little harsh but c’mon, you know your child better than anybody. Plus, there was another class offered that parents were allowed to participate in. Now my daughter has to watch you having fun with your kid in the class while wondering why her Mommy and Daddy aren’t in there and that’s not fair to her.

My point here is that while you may think your presence in the class isn’t distracting, it actually is. I realize they aren’t actually learning professional dance moves, but through that tiny window, I see the crowded room and the intimidation in my daughter’s eyes as she bumps into another Mom’s leg as she dances, care free, around the room. I mentioned it to the teachers of the class, who agreed with me, but said they couldn’t kick the parents out of the room, which was also not what I wanted. I just wish people would be more conscious of how their actions affect other people. Going forward, I’ll have to start focusing my efforts more on fighting for time at the small window and less on who’s in the room.

Thanks for letting me rant. I don’t do it very often but it felt pretty good to get it all out.

Cheers!

Someday That’ll Be Me

I love being a Dad. Snuggling with my little ones is probably my favourite pastime these days, especially with the advance knowledge that they won’t want to do that forever. I can’t believe how fast they are growing up and how quickly their minds and abilities are evolving, but, I have to admit, contrary to how I thought I would feel about their rate of growth, I’m kind of excited about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t want them to turn into teenagers tomorrow. I love all the amazing moments and “firsts” that come with raising toddlers, but every now and then I see a Dad on his way to his son’s hockey practice or daughter’s dance recital and proudly think, “Someday that’ll be me”.

With each new step my children take towards independence, I can’t help but think of everything the world has in store for them and for us as a family. When I took my son skating for the first time, I kept glancing over at the father and son having a game of one on one and got an extra proud bounce in my stride in thinking about the day that I will be playing in that game.

I watch how carefully and lovingly my daughter takes care of her little dolls, making sure to give them all regular checkups, and I can’t help but flash forward to the day that she is taking care of real people at her own practice. These thoughts bring on an unexplainable sense of pride in knowing that my kids still have time to do whatever they want to do with their lives.

I have no intention of rushing my children’s development but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited for the journey that lies ahead. Even the smallest of scenarios are things that I can’t stop thinking about. I saw an older man having lunch with his adult son and grandson the other day and I couldn’t help but get lost in thinking, “Someday that’ll be me”.

And This Is Why We Don’t Do Spins Near The Christmas Tree!

Kids Dancing

My kids love to spin. It doesn’t matter where we are or even if there is music playing, they just spin. I try to be a good parent and warn them of the dangers of spinning next to free standing objects but I can’t be expected to watch them every single second, right??

The following is an outtake from the “Dads sing Mariah Carey” video for the Life of Dad website. You’ll want to ignore the singing and pay attention to my son at the end of the video…

Also, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

How About Another Dose Of #AwesomeDads

After a great response to last week’s Awesome Dads post, I’ve decided to keep it going as long as I keep getting photos submitted. I’m also working on a design for the main photo, so it doesn’t look like I’m implying how awesome I am from week to week, haha.

My goal is to feature Awesome Dads doing awesome things with their kids. Whether it’s hitting the slopes, helping with homework or snuggling them back to health, I want to showcase the changing face of Dad. That said, here are this week’s Awesome Dads!

 

 

Here’s Oren Miller from the blog, Blogger Father. This isn’t the first time he’s appeared on my site and the write up I did on him for Dad Blogs Exposed will tell you more than I could write now. To follow Oren’s journey, you can check him out on his Facebook Page! Thanks, Oren!

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Mike Reynolds from the blog, Puzzling Posts. I don’t really know how else to describe Mike, except to say that he is one of the really great ones. I’m not talking just Dadding here either. He just seems to be a genuinely kind person and I’m happy to have met him and his family. Of note, Mike just single-handedly raised over $1800 for our recent Movember campaign. Not an easy feat. You can catch him on Twitter at @PuzzlingPostDad.

 

 

 

 

This is Kevin, who I only know as @KevinSky on Twitter. The best thing about pictures is that you don’t need to know somebody to appreciate them and I love that Dad and Grandpa are present in this amazingly patriotic shot.

 

 

 

 

Here is a photo of Chris, helping his daughter learn how to swim. This one strikes a chord for me because it’s one of my favourite things to do with my kids. It’s great when you can capture pride in a picture!

 

 

 

 

 

Last but certainly not least, meet Ryan Sanders from The National Fatherhood Initiative. This photo has me missing our Expos and even more so because he’s cheering for the team that they left for. Ryan has also been kind enough to offer me a guest post on his blog and I’m grateful for the opportunity. You can also follow him on their Facebook Page.

That’s it for this week! Thanks to all the Dads and wives who submitted pictures. They were all great! If you’d like to submit your great Dad pics, please send them to chris@canadiandad.com, along with their name and a link, if any, to your site. Til we meet again!

Cheers!

Forget Dad Fail; Here Is Some Dad Awesomeness! #AwesomeDads

I got slightly annoyed this week, after seeing two separate posts featuring photo slideshows with the tagline of DadFail. I won’t link to them but I assure you, they are out there and the pictures were a complete misrepresentation of what I’m guessing in 98% of the Dad population.

I thought it would be a fun idea to counter that post with some pictures of the Dads I associate with, doing the things that real Dads do with their children. I’m sure it won’t get even 1% of the hits those other posts got but it’s a start. We’re certainly not perfect but we are definitely not failures. I put a call out for photos and received so many that this could become a weekly feature.

 

 

This is another Canadian Dad blogger, James from EduDad and also from the Dads Round Table. You can catch him on Twitter at @SaskaDad. He’s a good dude and a great Dad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Trent Hamilton, who blogs over at Green Eggs & Hamiltons and also at Life of Dad. Don’t be afraid to hit him up on twitter at @mrThamilton. He is a perfect example of the changing face of fatherhood today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Spencer Warren and his daughter at last year’s Ottawa Children’s Gala, which he also organizes. It’s an excellent event, for kids too, which raises money for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario’s ‘Plan It Safe’ Program. He is a really good person and has committed a lot of his time to helping kids in my community. You can follow him at @CharityForCHEO on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

This is Daddy Nickell from the website Daddy Scrubs. It’s actually a very cool website and I encourage you to check it out. You can also catch up with him on the Daddy Scrubs Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about a Dad who doesn’t blog? They are the majority after all! Here is a cool shot of Darryl hanging with his kids out in the wilderness. I’m willing to excuse the Penguins hat here because of the amazing setting and the giant smiles!

 

 

 

 

 

Last but certainly not least, we have Mark Buell from my hometown of Ottawa. Hard to believe we are back to tobogganing season already! You can find Mark writing things at, A Semitone Higher and on Twitter @MeBuell.

 

 

That’s all for this week’s Untitled Dad Awesomeness Feature! I hope enjoyed it as much as I did putting it all together. I’m hoping to keep it going but I’ll need your help. You can do so by sending me your cool, Dad pictures, of you and your kids spending quality time together. You can send them to me on Twitter at @CanadianDadBlog, via my Facebook Page, or email them to me at chris@canadiandad.com. Have a great week!

Cheers!

Join The Canadian Dad’s Movember Team To Support Men’s Health!

November has quickly become one of my favourite months of the year! Not just because of my birthday *ahem, November 14th* but also because of a yearly tradition called, “Movember”. What began as a small fundraiser out of Australia, has quickly turned into a global phenomenon and I’m all in!

Movember is an initiative started to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health. Men around the world grow their moustaches while raising money for the cause. I’m not going to post my passport photo but let’s just say that it was taken during Movember and there was no way I was shaving that thing off before it’s time.

I don’t want to talk your ear off about it because there’s lots of time for that. What I want from you today is your upper lip. I’m looking to recruit as many MoBrotha’s and MoSista’s as I can, so we can put our faces and skills to work in raising money for this excellent initiative!

What I’m asking is that you visit our team page, Canadian Dad 2.012, and either signup as a MoBrotha or MoSista, or donate whatever you can to our team goal of $2000. Every little bit counts and on top of that, we get to have a lot of fun laughing at each other’s moustaches. And trust me, mine is ridiculous!

I always see so many teams of 3 or 4 guys, which is great, but I want to create a super team to rival all others! If we are going to put our faces on the line to be ridiculed in the name of raising money, we might as well be as big as possible and go for one of the many prizes up for grabs! C’mon, who’s with me!? We just signed Ottawa native, Mike Reynolds, who has a very cool MoTie shop on Etsy, that raises money for the cause. You can check it out at MoTies For Gals and Guys.

I just want to make it clear that our team is open to ladies as well, so please sign up and spread the good word of Movember! I am also planning a party here in Ottawa for later in November to celebrate our achievements and I can’t wait to see all the crazy Stache action!

Thank You for your time and I hope you’ll consider joining our team! Let’s have some fun with it as we help to raise awareness for men’s health! Please do not hesitate to ask any questions, I’m always here to help! Let’s Do It!

Cheers!