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Dance Like No One Is Watching

Do You Dance?

Weird question, I know, but allow me to elaborate. I was outside watching my kids play this weekend when I felt the sudden urge to break out the whip, nae, nae dance I have been hooked on lately. Two of my 10 year old neighbours happened to catch my sweet dance moves and immediately complimented me on my efforts. Of course by “complimented” I meant shrieked in embarrassed horror and told me to stop… Naturally, I continued dancing while following them around the street in hopes of embarrassing them in front of their friends.

It got me thinking about how much joy I get out of dancing even though my skills are sorely lacking. I’m not kidding either, I love to dance! The first thing I think about when we get invited to a wedding, even before the food, is what moves I’m going to display when “Uptown Funk” inevitably comes on. I like to take “dance like no one is watching” to a new level and love that my kids seem to be adopting this motto as well. I have even contemplated joining an adult hip hop dance class so I can hone my skills a bit. Granted, there will be no Magic Mike performances in my future, XXL or other, but you’re never too old to learn something new and fun, right? Plus I’m pretty sure there have been studies that show dancing improves your happiness levels and general overall well being. I say pretty sure because I am a blogger, not some fancy research person…

My 5 year old daughter recently asked me if I would learn a dance routine with her so that we could make a video of it. She thinks it’s hilarious to watch home videos and I think it’s hilarious to watch her watching home videos so I have, of course, accepted her challenge. I am oddly nervous about it though, which caught me a bit by surprise. I don’t know if deep down I’m worried about my performance or if I’m afraid that my daughter will someday use this video to blackmail me but my cold feet have already begun. Either way, this video is happening and the only decision I will need to make is whether to share it with all of you or not. Ellen, here we come??

That brings me back to my original question of, do you dance?? If so, what kind of dancer are you? Are you a shower dancer? A toe tapper? Or, are you full on dancing with me to the elevator music in the grocery store checkout line? If you have pictures of video of you dancing, even better! Feel free to send them along and I’ll gladly share them for you. In the meantime, DANCE ON, my friends!!!

Daughter Window

Oh, The Places She’ll Go

When the doctor informed my wife and I that we were going to be having a daughter, a wave of panic came over me. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I would be a good enough father, it was more the fact that I had spent so much of my life around guys that I wasn’t sure how different life would be with a little girl around. You see, it had been well over 70 years since there had been a girl born on my father’s side of the family. My grandfather had four sons, three of them had two sons each and then two of us had boys as our first children. To say the odds were against us having a daughter would be a giant understatement.

Still, there she was, a beautiful baby girl staring back at me, wrapped in a pink blanket and wearing a pink knitted hat. She has been in my life for just over five years now and I can honestly say that having a little girl has changed the way I think about almost everything. Just when I think I have her figured out she never fails to throw me a curve ball. She fell in love with princesses and ballet so I assumed she was going to be a girlie girl. Next thing I know she’s running Spartan Races, destroying rock walls and bowling kids over at her soccer games.

Kids Spartan Race

Just this past weekend we went camping at the KOA in Cardinal and they have a gigantic inflatable water slide. If I’m being completely honest, I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to rides and heights in general so I was hoping my kids wouldn’t be interested in the water slide. I got off the hook with my son because he was preoccupied with the Kids Bingo event but I could tell by the daredevil look in her eyes that there would be no denying her this adventure. Due to her lack of height she needed a parent to go up the ladder with her and, after my wife vanished in a puff of smoke, I ended up drawing the short straw. Here is an example of what we were going up against, although the picture does it no justice.

KOA Cardinal Water Slide

A funny thing happened on the way up to the top of the slide. My fear of heights vanished and was instead replaced by pride at watching her fearlessly climb her way to the top. As it turns out, her fearlessness helped me conquer one of my fears, which was a lot to process afterward. As we conquered the slide together I was reminded of the new Quaker video, The Recital (shown below), from earlier in the week and have since vowed to do more crazy and goofy things with my kids going forward. Life had gotten a little too serious lately and when that happens it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. Let your freak flag fly, people, and enjoy the smiles that follow!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Quaker.

Father Daughter Bubbles

Let Go, Dad

“Let go, Dad!”

We weren’t 5 seconds into her first lesson but I saw the confidence in her eyes as I let my hand slip off the handlebars of her bike.

I still remember spinning her around through a sea of bubbles and giggling together as we tried to pop them all. She was so little. The only thing that mattered in those moments was the laughter. She is 5 now and while there is still lots of laughter, something else has emerged. Now I see a little girl standing in front of me who has real thoughts and feelings and emotions, and I’m not going to lie, it’s a little scary.

It feels like a never ending struggle to find a balance between keeping her safe and letting her explore the world on her own, which I know she loves to do. She constantly pushes her comfort zone to the limit and surprises me at every turn, reminding even me that life itself is about pushing yourself and not being satisfied with the status quo.

The cliché goes, “You can do anything you set your mind to”, and we all laugh at the absurdity of it, but with her I believe it. Tell her she’s too little and she’ll fight to prove you wrong, which is good because we haven’t blessed her with height.

She beamed with pride on this day, as did her parents, as she felt the wind rushing past her face and rang her bell to let the neighbourhood know that the training wheels were gone. Letting go wasn’t easy but the reward was far greater than the fear.

Daughter Bike Ride

Fearless Kid

Fearless

“C’mon, dad! Let’s go exploring!”, she yelled as she ran into the small forested area we would soon refer to as “The Jungle”. She didn’t need me to follow along but invited me anyway, which was nice. Though you wouldn’t know from the fearless way that she leaped into the woods, part of me wanted to believe that my presence made her feel safer in there.

We ran through the jungle carrying sticks, just in case we ran into trouble, and popped out at an old wooden bridge that covered a small stream. I tried to explain to her that this was the bridge I used to hide under with my friends when I was her age, but she was way ahead of me in making her way underneath. She’s adventurous, this one. Just like her dad was at that age. We played troll under the bridge for a few minutes, with her insisting on being the troll even though I was perfect for the part, before moving on to the next adventure at a nearby park.

As we walked down the pathway to the park, I felt like I was walking through my past. We passed the creek where I used to catch frogs, the baseball diamond where I found out that I made my first competitive team, the high school where I broke out of my shell, and the park that I spent countless hours pushing my limits. You’d think twenty plus years would have had their way with these places but they all looked exactly the same as I had left them.

Exploring is tough work, so while I didn’t get the chance to stop and take in all the memories that were crashing around in my brain, I did relish the opportunity to create a new memory with her in a place that meant so much to me in my youth.

We left the park, walked through the baseball diamond across from the high school, crawled under the bridge and ran through the jungle back to our original starting point. “Did you have fun exploring with me, daddy?”

More than you will ever know, sweetheart.

She Has No Idea How Loved She Is

The animated and believable way in which she can tell a story about fictional princesses who can fly and who also turn into magical mermaids with super strength.

She has no idea how loved she is.

When she bats her eyes and asks for five more minutes of colouring before bed, after I’ve already given her five more minutes three times.

She has no idea how loved she is.

When she gives me the twentieth drawing she’s done that day and says, “This one’s just for you, daddy”.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Having to scold her when she’s misbehaved, because that’s my job as her father, but having it hurt so much to do so.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Listening to her beautiful voice sing when she thinks no one is listening.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Getting lost in her eyes as she recounts her day.

She has no idea how loved she is.

The way she instinctively plays with my hair while I read her bedtime story.

She has no idea how loved she is.

The passionate way in which she loves her friends and family, and at such a young age.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Watching her play “family” with her dollies and all I can think about is that someday those dolls will be real people.

She has no idea how loved she is.

The pride in her eyes when she does something she’s never done before.

She has no idea how loved she is.

Her career choice, when asked: Superstar

She has no idea how loved she is.

The way she understands and practices compassion for others.

She has no idea how loved she is.

It’s my little girl’s birthday today and yet I feel like I’m the one who got the greatest gift. Happy Birthday, Baby!

The Small Victories

It seems like only a few weeks ago that we were working on which shoe went on which foot. Yesterday, you zipped up your own coat for the first time and seeing the pride in your eyes, further fueled the pride in my fatherly heart.

It’s these small but very significant victories that make being your parent the incredible journey that it is. Every single day you do something to amaze me and I have a feeling that this is going to continue for the rest of our time together.

I hope you never lose your sense of adventure and your willingness to want to learn new things. It’s in watching you strive to achieve our goals that I find the strength to go after mine, in an effort to prove to you that your efforts are never in vain. Your presence has made me a better man and I am thankful every day for you.

Three Year Old Pride

In case you have never met me or followed me on any social media channel, I attended a conference last weekend called, Blissdom Canada. At this conference, I was given the opportunity to do my very first presentation, with slide show and everything. Yeah, I know, bad ass! It was an amazing and exhilarating experience and one that I won’t soon forget.

After the presentation, I received so many supportive and encouraging tweets, messages and face to face compliments, that I was on cloud nine until…well, I’m still kind of there but that’s not the point. Something else happened that trumped all of that, which probably sounds hard to believe.

I was lucky enough to have my amazing wife there, who spent the whole weekend making sure our kids were having a great time on their mini vacation. They told me all about their swimming pool adventures and it was great to see how excited they were to have met the “Real” Chuck E. Cheese! I was sad to miss out on all the fun but realized that without the conference we wouldn’t have been there anyway. Plus, they got a chance to come down and watch my first ever presentation, which was really special for me.

I caught them on their way back from dinner on the last night and as I was talking to them, my three year old daughter started playing with my conference badge, which hung from a lanyard around my neck.

“What’s this, Daddy?” she asked
“That’s my ticket for Daddy’s conference, honey” I replied, figuring I could have said anything and she wouldn’t have really understood.

Then she hit me with the bomb…

“Did you get that for being so good on the stage today?”

She stared, very matter of factly, into my eyes as she said it and I couldn’t help thinking that she knew exactly what she was doing and how much it meant to me. I was thankful for all the nice words from everyone throughout the day, but for your three year old to express pride in something you did is beyond words. I mean, having your children be proud of you is part of the goal, right?

I hugged her so quickly and tightly that I’m hoping she didn’t get a chance to see the tears. Not because I felt the need to hide them, but they would have been hard to explain at that point. This was just one of the memories at made at Blissdom Canada but it’s one of the ones that will stay with me forever.

A Side I Never Knew I Had

Stars On Ice

I’ve experienced a lot of emotional changes since becoming a father, but crying at a Stars on Ice figure skating show was probably the most baffling one yet. I attended the show with my soon to be three year old daughter and had no expectations about how she would react to it. As it would turn out, we both loved the show but this is far from a theatrical review.

I always consider myself to be a lucky father, in that I have a regular day job and weekends free to spend time with my family. The blogging has provided my family with further opportunities but even without that, I feel blessed to get as much time with them as I do. And as much fun as it is to do group activities, it is the one on one time with my kids that I cherish most of all. This is the time that they get to shine and it’s especially great for me because they show me sides of them I rarely get to give my undivided attention to.

In my daughter’s case, she is very excitable and also has a tremendously big heart. She is so excitable in fact, that we once had to walk out of Madagascar 3, but not for the reasons you would suspect. We had to leave because every time a new character came onto the screen she would yell, “Lion, Lion, Lion!!!” or “Zebra, Zebra, Zebra! We saw a zebra at the Zoo!!!” Hilarious and frustrating at the exact same time because she didn’t understand why we had to leave.

Watching her excitement at Stars on Ice opened up a whole new realm of emotions that I never knew I had in me. I melted at the way she would yell out when she recognized a song, clapped vigorously at the end of performances and especially when the pairs skaters hugged at the end of their routine and she remarked, “Aww, that’s so nice”. The kicker came during Kurt Browning‘s “Singing in the Rain” performance. My daughter was getting a little tired but I have always wanted to see him skate that one live, so we stuck around. She sat quietly on my lap, hand in mine, with her head resting on my shoulder and we enjoyed the final skate.

I’m not sure how to describe what happened next. I’m guessing it was a mix of the perfection of the moment, the grace of the performance and Brene Brown’s vulnerability speech stuck in my head but I was suddenly forced to fight back some tears. I still have no idea what happened but I’m pretty sure it had everything to do with that little girl and the pride I have in being her father. It’s a side of me I hadn’t seen before but is definitely something I am willing to embrace.

For those of you who don’t know Brene Brown, here is one of her Ted Talks. She spoke at Dad 2.0 Summit and I carried her message back home with me.

I Love You In The Whole Universe

Universe

“I Love You In The Whole Universe, Daddy”

I don’t even really know where she got it from, but my little princess repeats it to me every night before bed. I have to admit that the fact that it is grammatically incorrect actually makes it more endearing to me. She is excellent at making me feel like the more important person in the world and I hope I do the same for her and my son.

Deeder Dodder Date: Princess Edition

Daddy Daughter Date

“Daddy, is tomorrow Deeder Dodder Day?” she asked.

“You bet, honey!” I answered.

“Yay!!!” she squealed excitedly.

If I could have frozen that moment forever, I would have. You see, “Deeder Dodder Day” is actually my 2 year old daughter’s way of saying “Daddy Daughter Date“, and to see how excited she was to be hanging out with me was enough to swell my heart with pride.

When I asked my daughter out on the date a few days before this exchange, I had just secured tickets to the Official Princess Parties “Royal Ball” and I knew she would love it. My only concern was whether she would say yes or not! Luckily for me, she said yes and I was able to keep the event a surprise until the big day came. I had been eyeing this event ever since our chance run in with an awesome Snow White earlier in the year. The fact that we had met Rapunzel and Minnie Mouse at later events were icing on the cake. Knowing that the proceeds were going to the Children’s Wish Foundation and that these particular characters were going to be there were just added bonuses.

Snow WhiteSnow White Belle

 

 

 

 

 

The magical day arrived and we were off to meet our favourite Disney characters. It’s hard to pinpoint my favourite part of the afternoon because there were so many. From seeing my daughter’s face light up as we were greeted in the parking lot by Mickey Mouse, to the moment the princesses were introduced, the entire event was amazing and well put together. They had a candy bar, nail painting and lots of interactive things for the little kids to do with the princesses (and two princes). Oh yeah, did I mention the chocolate fountain?? That one was for Daddy.

I loved watching the emotions that ran through my little girl’s brain that day. She was excited at times and shy at others. She participated in all the activities, even though she was the smallest one there by quite a bit. We danced, sang, ate candy and laughed the whole time. We had pure unfiltered fun and it was a perfect afternoon.

I want to say a great big Thank You to all the wonderful employees and characters at Official Princess Parties. You made a wonderful impression on my daughter and gave us a Deeder Dodder Date that we will remember forever.

PS – Funny story. While we were talking to Rapunzel, I brought up that my daughter had asked to have a princess birthday party. She had asked for a Rapunzel party at home but when Rapunzel herself asked, my daughter said she wanted an Ariel party…awkward. If Rapunzel is reading this, as soon as we got in the car, she again asked for a Rapunzel party. Followed by a Snow White Party. Followed by a Belle party…No hard feelings??

Cheers!

Princesses