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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.

A Father’s Gift

There are a number of reasons why this short film hit me so hard and maybe someday I’ll get into them on here. In the meantime, enjoy this incredible story and the slew of messages it dishes out.

The Measure of a Man

We have a lot of definitions and ideas about manliness and what it means to be a “real” man, but the truth is that there is no one characteristic that defines “manliness”. Some think you need tattoos and a pickup truck to be a true man, while others prefer courage or humour as shining examples. We all look at life through a different lens and none of us are right or wrong in our feelings about it.

This past weekend, at the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans, I had the incredible fortune of meeting over 200 other fathers who are each doing their part to redefine what it means to be a dad and also proving that every man is different but also equal. This conference is a place where egos are checked at the door and real emotion is not only allowed to be shared but very much encouraged.

Up until my father passed away a few years ago, I didn’t deal with my emotions very well. Even after his passing, I had trouble showing my emotions visibly and a lot of that had to do with the perception of weakness and the threat of being labeled as someone who was less of a man for it. Those days have since passed and the Dad 2.0 Summit has been a major influence on my ability to express myself without the fear of judgement. Last year, in Houston, I read one of my stories about the anxiety I went through after my father passed away. I can remember all the emotion that was rushing through my veins as I stood up in front of the 250 attendees and poured my soul out onto the stage for everyone to see. They were incredibly supportive and that single event has helped my confidence level more than I can describe.

This year, I was privileged to be in the audience when spotlight reader and brilliant writer, Lorne Jaffe, took to the stage to read his post, “Do I Really Like What I Like?“. While watching Lorne deliver his emotional story about his struggles with mental illness, I witnessed exactly what it means to be a man. Public speaking is uncomfortable enough and when you add in the topic he was discussing, I have never been more proud or inspired by someone that I had just met hours before. I’ve watched it back a few times now and well up each and every time. Lorne, if you are reading this, every single one of those people who stood for you after your reading were mesmerized by what you did and I hope someday you will be able to take pride in that personal achievement.

I have included the video of Lorne’s presentation below. From now on, any time I feel guilty for having emotions or like I can’t do something, I will look at this video and remember that sometimes the best things in life come from stepping outside of my comfort zone.

The Sting Before The Tears

I can still remember fighting back the tears on the long drive home with my Dad. I had just blown my chance to play softball for Team Ontario, a team he coached, and we both knew it. Just a kid, it felt like my whole world was coming to an end. How was I going to look my buddies in the face and explain how I couldn’t even make a team that my Dad coached?

The real truth, though, is that I didn’t belong there in the first place. I had a surgically repaired knee and a skill set that was slightly below the other players. We sat silently as I stared out the car window, feeling the familiar sting of emotion rising up inside of me. I wasn’t accustomed to crying in front of my father and I wasn’t about to start now. I wondered why he wasn’t saying anything and remember getting upset at the silence, even though I had nothing to say that wouldn’t have ended up in tears.

My Dad was good like that. Many years and many disappointments later and I’m thankful that I was lucky enough to have someone who understood that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. As we got closer to home that day, he reached over, grabbed my shoulder and gave it a consoling shake, as parents often do. It was only an instant but was enough to tip my teetering emotions from controlled to suspect. I started to feel that sting you get in your chest when you try to fight the emotions away, and I lost the fight. He allowed me to continue staring out the window, trying to hide my tears as if he didn’t know what was going on.

This is one of my favourite memories of my father and I think it sticks because it’s a lesson that I hope to pass on to my children through my actions as a father.

Just Call Me Coach

“Coach Chris”. That’s what the kids are calling me these days and I have to say that it feels pretty good. I guess you could say that I was destined to take on this role. You see, I was raised by one of the greatest coaches to ever step on a field. That man was my father and also my hero.

Truth is, I didn’t even sign up to be my son’s coach for his first year of T-Ball. It was only after we received an email from the league telling us they were short that I decided to throw my name in. I don’t have an official reason for why I didn’t sign up in the first place. I rationalized it by telling myself and my wife that it was because I was way too busy to take on coaching two nights a week, but I knew what the real reason was.

It’s been almost 6 years since I lost my father and while a lot of things have become easier, this is the one that I have been dreading most. He had coached me in multiple sports for as long as I can remember. We traveled a lot. We won championships together. He helped me develop my skills, not only as an athlete, but also as a man. Sports were the major reason for our great relationship. It was our bond.

It’s not that I didn’t want to coach and share that bond with my son, I just wasn’t sure I was ready for the emotional overload that was going to come with it. As it turns out, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. As I grew older, I often wondered what had compelled my father to put so much effort into something that seemed to come with nothing but high costs, upset parents and the stresses of dealing with a team full of kids. I found the answer.

It has only been half a season so far and I already love every one of the kids on my team. They all have different skills and quirks and smiles that make each one of them unique and amazing. The innocent joy on their faces when they catch the ball or win the game of freeze tag, is something that changes you. It changes your whole outlook on what is important and I like to think that this was a secret that my Dad would have shared with me had he still been round to see this.

As for my son, I try not to be too hard on him. I know exactly what it feels like to be the coach’s son and it’s something that he is going to have to get used to because I’m not going anywhere.

Michael J. Fox Is Back, Baby!

Michael J Fox Show

I was so excited to hear that one of my favourite Canadians, Michael J Fox, is returning to television! The Michael J. Fox Show starts this fall on NBC and combines humour, family and his life with Parkinson’s. I have been a huge MJF fan for as long as I can remember and it’ll be nice to see him back on my television screen.

Since his diagnosis in 1991, Michael J. Fox has been a strong advocate of Parkinson’s disease research. His foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, was created to help advance every promising research path to curing Parkinson’s disease. He has published three books, with my favourite being, “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist“. He is a proud father, proud Canadian and I am proud to share a nationality with him.

Seriously, this guy is an inspiration and I can’t wait for his new show to air. I’ve included a clip of the trailer below for you. Have a great day!

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.

What Do Dads Really Want For Father’s Day?

So in a complete brain fart move, I forgot to mention that I was asked to become a part of the Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) Blogaholics team. An invitation which I proudly accepted. You can find my musings here!

The PTPA is gearing up for Father’s Day and as a father myself, they’ve enlisted me to poll other Dads in order to let them know what we think.

I’m not asking you to do a lot of work, I know how busy you all are with your blogging and kids and golf! All I need is for you to answer these two questions.

1 – What do you really want to receive for Father’s Day?

2 – How do you want to spend the day?

That’s it! Two simple questions and you’re done. Leave a comment, send me an email, FB, Twitter, you know the drill!

In the meantime, I’ll give my answers in hopes of sparking some further dialogue.

What I really want for Father’s Day is a MacBook. What? It’s what I really want! Okay, okay, what I really want is something cool from my kids. My wife comes up with the best crafty ideas for the kids to make for me and I honestly love it. Cheap but extremely effective! From paintings to photo coffee mugs, they are all incredible!

As for what I want to do that day, we have a great event happening in Ottawa, called the Alterna Ultimate Run for Men’s Cancers. It is a cancer fundraiser but also has a great kids zone with a lot of fun family things to do. I am not a runner but I’d love to spend the day there having fun with my family, while also supporting a great cause.

See, that was easy and painless. Just leave me a note in the comments section and tell me what you really want. Your wife thinks she knows….but she doesn’t know. Help her out man!

Cheers!!

Wanna Tell You About The Girl I Love – To My Wife On Mothers Day

Yes I know, if you know the lyrics I’ve quoted in the title, they are not really about “True Love”. Let’s try and get past that because that specific lyric, on it’s own, happens to fit quite nicely.

I would also like to state for the record, that I love my Mother and wish her a very Happy Mothers’ Day! This post happens to be about someone else on this particular day though.

For as long as I’ve been a father, there’s been one constant that has kept me in my children’s good graces.

One thing that has kept me from imploding due to the sheer magnitude of being in charge of another life form.

Well I guess it’s not really a thing at all, is it? Here she is!

This is my rock! My Knight in Shining Armor! The Keeper of the Gates of my Childrens’ Love and Well Being!

Too far?? Not in my mind.

For all the great comments I get on my site about how great I am as a father, there is someone else who is even more deserving of that praise and who doesn’t get enough of it.

My wife gave up her career because she wanted to stay home to raise our kids, which was a huge sacrifice. Please don’t take this as me judging people that don’t because I understand and respect all people’s situations and decisions.

Point is, she decided to quit her comfortable job and enter the world of home child care. It’s probably one of the hardest jobs I could ever imagine doing. As a shift worker, I am home a lot with the daycare and trust me when I tell you that it is not all bonbons and circle time.

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson planning, meal plans, activities, outdoor time, walking some to school, picking them up, consoling upset children and trying to spend enough time with your own to make them feel special for having to share all their stuff. I’m sure I’m missing some things but you get the idea.

She is an amazing woman!

Remember this post about my son’s 4th Birthday Party? I looked great as the cool Dad dressed up like Super Mario, right? What you didn’t see in there was the planning, invites, decorating, loot bags & food that my wife took care of while I was in the bathroom rehearsing my Super Mario lines.

When the kids are ill, the world stops for her until they are feeling better. When my daughter can’t sleep, my wife will happily lie in bed with her and comfort her until she dozes off. And absolutely No holiday goes without decorations and a celebration!

My wife is the perfect portrait of someone who loves her family over and above everything else in her life. She would literally do anything for us and for that we are eternally grateful! She gives us the best of everything she’s got and asks for nothing in return.

Even when I told her that, for Mothers’ Day, we were sending her to a nice hotel to relax and get some much needed rest, she needed to be convinced that it was a good idea. I’m still not sure she agrees with it but I know she’ll love it!

I know there’s so much more I could say about her but she’s away relaxing and Daddy’s got kids to entertain, LOL!

Let me just close by saying to my wife, from myself and the kids, that we appreciate everything you do for us.

We hope that you don’t think we take you for granted, because we don’t.

Life would be a dark, lonely place without you in it and we want to say a great big, bear hug wrapped, chocolate covered Thank You for everything you bring to our family!

On a personal note, I am thankful to have found you. You make me want to be a better father every single day and you have no idea how you positively impact our lives.

We Love You!

Happy Mothers Day!!!

PS – Enjoy your time of rest and relaxation, the daycare opens back up at 7am sharp on Monday morning ;P

PPS – Where’s the Ketchup?