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Dad Blogs Exposed! ~ Ask Your Dad

Welcome back to another exciting episode of Dad Blogs Exposed! This week I am talking to blogger extraordinaire and funny man, John Kinnear, from the blog Ask Your Dad. Here’s what John had to say about blogging and fatherhood.

CD: Why did you start blogging?

JK: I started blogging at the urging of my wife. I have been writing since before I can remember, but most of it was filed in various shoe boxes and stored in the garage. After I got married and had a kid, my wife urged me to share some of the writing I had done with our friends and family through a blog. It grew from there.

CD: What can people expect from your blog? Do you have a specific goal or do you write whatever you feel?

JK: I hope that people can always expect a laugh. I try and stay funny whenever possible. My kids make that pretty easy. I don’t really have an agenda per se. I do have a rule that I try and follow. I try not to give advice. I just talk about what has and hasn’t worked for me, and if people can laugh at it while finding pieces here and there that help them through their own parenting journey, then I think that is awesome.

CD: What has been your biggest challenge as a father?

JK: Two things. Putting my phone away. Letting go of fear.

CD: What one piece of advice can you give to a new Dad?

JK: Decide what kind of dad you want to be before your kid arrives, and then work every day to fail less. I fall short of being the dad I want to be every single day, but my kids don’t see that. They don’t see the ideal dad that I see in my head. They see me. They see me trying. And that matters more than what I see.

CD: Do you have any long term goals for your site?

JK: Not really. I have long term goals for my writing, but not necessarily my site. I’d like to write a book or five. Not necessarily short form or memoir like I am doing now, but something with a bigger story to it. I haven’t found that story yet, but I am toying with one that revolves around teenage Frankensteins that fall in love and then get to go to a magical wizard school where they are selected to fight other classic movie monsters in an arena death match. You know, something simple that will relate to a larger audience.

CD: What is your social media weapon of choice and why?

JK: I enjoy Facebook Pages a lot. I’m on Twitter and I dabble on Google+, but most of the conversation outside of my blog takes place on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page.

CD: How has blogging affected your life?

JK: Ha. Someone actually recognized me the other day. This really pretty lady and ran up, gave me a hug, and thanked me for a post I wrote. That will probably never happen again, but I felt pretty good about it as soon as I was able to get my wife to stop punching her in the face. Kidding… Stevie, my wife, thought it was just as cool as I did. Speaking of my wife, I think that is the other strange, and a little unfortunate way that blogging has affected my life. I get way to much credit and she doesn’t get enough. (My opinion, not hers.) The truth is, out of the two of us, Stevie is the parenting rock star. I’m an active and engaged dad, but she is a freaking jedi-ninja-parent. If I am a practitioner of good parenting, then she is the alter at which I worship. But even with her level 99 mom skills, at the end of the day, we both just try and fail less.

I would like to thank John for his time and hope you will take some time to check out the Ask Your Dad Blog. You can also find John on Twitter and Facebook. Later!

john-and-stevie

Dad Blogs Exposed! ~ Always Home And Uncool

This week on Dad Blogs Exposed, I had the chance to talk with Kevin McKeever from the blog, Always Home and Uncool. Kevin’s stylings can also be found over at Dadcentric. I had the opportunity to meet and share a stage with Kevin at this year’s Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston, Texas and was once again blown away by the kindness of a stranger. Kevin is effortlessly funny, or at least it seems effortless, and I’m glad to now call him a friend. Unless he takes the effortless thing the wrong way, in which case he was a fine “former” friend.

CD: Why did you start blogging?

KM: After being laid off from my job, I had to do something to prove to my wife that I didn’t spend all day at home surfing the Internet for revealing photos of Kari Byron from “Mythbusters.”

That and, after not writing regularly for six months for the first time in 20-odd years when I was a reporter or corporate communicator, I just felt the need to start putting something into words again for my own sanity’s sake.

CD: What can people expect from your blog? Do you have a specific goal or do you write whatever you feel?

KM: I mostly tell tales about my goofy self — as a dad, as a guy, as a man befuddled by the world around him. Sometimes I have a fleeting celebrity encounter, sometimes I shed a tear or two, but mostly it’s about me trying to make sense of my wife, kids and dog.

CD: What has been your biggest challenge as a father?

KM: Avoiding the ol’ “well, back in my day …” routine with my kids. Civilization advances and changes, and you can’t live in your past no matter how comfortable it may be. I try to adapt and grow with my kids not because I want to be the cool, hip dad but because I want to stay involved in their world. Nevertheless, I never bothered figuring out all that Pokemon stuff when my boy was young. What the heck was that about?

CD: What one piece of advice can you give to a new Dad?

KM: I’ll give you two.

a) Don’t panic. If you panic, all is lost. Keep your wits about you and you’ll survive it.
b) Don’t listen to me.

CD: Do you have any long term goals for your site?

KM: Dude, I don’t even have plans for lunch. Speaking of which – Hooters?

CD: What is your social media weapon of choice and why?

KM: I’m on Facebook because that where I seem to best be able to keep up with the people I care about. I have Google+ account which I’m starting to use some, and Instagram is nice, but I tend to post all that stuff on FB now that it’s integrated. Pinterest? No interest, but that’s me. Your mileage may vary.

CD: How has blogging affected your life?

KM: I’ve meet some truly great and generous people, online and IRL, through blogging. The support my family has received from complete strangers and Internet-only acquaintances whenever we have sought help to raise awareness or money to support research into Juvenile Myositis, a rare autoimmune disease my daughter has had since age 2, has been heartwarming and, frankly, unbelievable.

Huge thanks to Kevin for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer the questions. I hope you’ll take some time to check out his site and say hi for me. See you next week!

On Finding The Missing Piece

Missing Piece

You can never be truly prepared for fatherhood. Even after having one child, I had no idea how a second was going to affect my life. As it turns out, my children have opened my eyes to a world that I had been sorely missing. The following is not a commentary on whether people with children are happier than those without, but more of a look at how my children have changed the way I see the world.

Here’s the thing, before my wife and I became parents, I was very happy. I had a good job, played in a rock band, often stayed up late and we had lots of quality time together. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was missing and it wasn’t until becoming a father that I found the missing piece. Passion. I’m not talking about the passion for loving my wife or my family, which has always been and will always be there. I’m talking about being so passionate about something that you can’t imagine doing anything else but leaping towards it and hoping you don’t plummet to the earth.

My passion, as it were, is in trying to make a difference in the world. I’m not talking about creating world peace, as nice as it sounds, but instead I’m talking about a passion in trying to make a difference in people’s lives, one person and one day at a time. Not just giving money, food or clothing either, but in just giving people a reason to smile day in and day out. I have my children to thank for this and the reason is simple; every time I look at one of them, I think to myself, “what kind of man do I want my children to learn from and remember?” My father left me with amazing memories and I hope to do the same for my children.

When I started writing about my adventures in parenting, I thought it would be a fun place to share funny stories and pictures. I had no idea that it was going to alter the way I think and feel about almost everything in my life in the way it has. I feel like a completely different person than I was just five short years ago. I am not afraid to share stories about my issues with anxiety, my fatherhood insecurities or my hopes and dreams, because I don’t want my children to bottle up their emotions in the way I used to. That’s not a shot at my parents either because they were always there for me, it’s just the way I was.

They have pushed me at every turn to want to be a better man, father and human being, and I intend on using that drive to become the best role model I can possibly be for them. This is where my new found passion comes in. Life can be hard, and not only is there fulfillment in taking the time to make someone else’s day, but in my experience at least, I’ve never been happier in knowing that I have the power to make others happy. My hope is that I can inspire my children to want to inspire others and I will keep fighting for that as long as I am here.

The Greatest Love of All

Love Those Kids

I don’t tend to do the Wordless Wednesday posts and I guess these words kind of negate this being one of them, but every now and then you take a picture that rocks you and this one did that for me. It reminds me of the lengths I would go to make sure they are protected and get the life they deserve. I love these little munchkins and wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

Dove Men+ Care Launches New Fatherhood Centered Campaign

Dwyane Wade Dove

I was excited (and skeptical) when I found out that Dwyane Wade and Jay Bilas had teamed up to star in Dove Men+ Care’s new line of fatherhood focused commercials. The campaign, that will air during the NCAA Basketball Tournament, shares real moments off-the-court that highlight how men care for what matters.

I was especially thrilled to find, after watching the commercials, that Dwyane and Jay weren’t portrayed as imbeciles in any way, shape or form. The commercials showed them interacting with their kids in a very real way and I found them very powerful. Kudos to Dove Men+ Care for their continued commitment to promoting fatherhood. I have attached the 4 commercials below for you to watch. Your thoughts are always welcome in the comments section.

I love everything about these commercials and hope that this is the start of a new generation of Dad commercials showing that you can still be funny without making us look ridiculous.

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.

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.

Coming Home

Family Photo

It didn’t take long to miss the little things after leaving on my recent journey to the land known as America. There was no hug goodbye, no “we’ll miss you Daddy”, really, there was nothing but silence as I slipped out the door at 5am on a cold Thursday morning.

As I hit the road that morning, I had a nervous excitement about where I was headed and the experiences I would have. Still, there were constant reminders of what I was leaving behind. A miniature hockey bag on the floor made me think about how great my son’s first year of skating was going and of how proud I was of him. He wasn’t floating on air like Gretzky but maybe Wayne himself got off to a slow start.

There were warning signs to turn around as well. The first was the eerie squeal of the tires as they tore across the metal of the International Bridge. This was followed by 65 mile per hour winds that did everything but knock me right off the road. The two blizzards that followed served as a reminder of the fact that I was not in charge. No, SHE was in charge and it wouldn’t be the last time on this trip that I would be reminded of this.

I was not even three hours in and I was already wondering if my family missed me as much as I missed them. As I sat in the terminal, staring at the giant hunk of aluminum that would soon propel me 38,000 feet above land, I thought only of them. Airplanes. My arch nemesis. My kryptonite.

The flights were surprisingly easy; aside from the constant thoughts of us colliding with another aircraft, that is. I quietly read about Neil Young’s life story and his inspiration was enough to keep my nervous twitch subdued just long enough for the wheels to hit the tarmac. I love Neil. He has helped me through many tough times even though we have never met, and most likely never will.

Airports, Hotel, Conference, Karaoke, Cabbies with Guns; All of it wonderful and exciting and new in its own way, but something was still missing. I got a preview of that something at the midway point of my adventure courtesy of my wife. Here it is:

Yeah… I don’t think I need to explain what happened next, do I? By the end of the video, my room resembled the falls in Niagara as I instinctively clicked play, again, and again, and again. Each time noticing something familiar and wishing I was back there, in that moment, with my family. I knew I couldn’t leave just yet. I came here with a purpose, after all, and wouldn’t leave until I had proved to myself that I could face my fear and conquer it, which I am proud to say I did.

The long trip home was filled with road blocks. Airport confusion, flight delays, freezing rain, darkness, sleet, snow, aliens, gremlins, Super Bowl black outs & even the Stay Puff marshmallow man! You name it, I saw it, but nothing was going to stop me from getting home to those three smiling faces from the video. The kids were dreaming of princesses and Skylanders by the time I got home but I enjoyed the quiet catch up with my wife, whom I missed dearly.

Then, as if she could read my mind, my daughter popped her head around the stairwell and smiled. It was one of those smiles that make you realize how important someone is in your life. It was love. And I was wearing the exact same smile.

On Comfort Zones, Inspiration and Being Vulnerable {#Dad2Summit}

Floating on Air

It’s a constant struggle for me to turn my thoughts and my passions into typed words. Case and point, I am trying to do justice to the experience that was the Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston, Texas, yet I know that the finished product of this summation will be nowhere close to what I actually want to say.

Much like my trip to Blissdom Canada last October, I came into this conference with a fear wrenched stomach. The difference this time around was that these were my direct peers in that we are all occupying the space in the fatherhood advocacy industry. We write about fatherhood with the knowledge that there is still a limited market for what we do, which means that in order to get your message viewed you have to stand out from the crowd; or write like Black Hockey Jesus

The Dad 2.0 conference, for me, was about stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the exact opposite of what my brain was telling me to do. It was forgetting about idolizing people and realizing that we’re all just people. It was tackling my fear of flying. It was about not holding back the personality I tend to subdue and letting people see the real me. And yes, that crazy dancing, high fiving and ear to ear smiling maniac that a few of you saw at back to back karaoke nights was very much the real me. Special shout out to Amy Spreitzer Windsor of the Bitchin’ Wives Club for organizing those nights out. You can check out her amazing Karaoke montage right here!

I took so much out of this conference that I’m still processing and remembering things days after they happened. I had real conversations with people and I’m not talking about the average “being a Dad is kind of neat talks” either. I had meaningful conversations about people’s passions, kids, cancer, death, writing and relationships. Every single person’s story was unique and amazing and interesting. There were no ego’s, no competing and people were more than willing to engage in conversation, regardless of how many followers they had on their websites and social media accounts. It was awesome.

I had the special opportunity to stand before my peers and read to them something so personal to me, that I wasn’t sure I would be able to get all the way through it. Well, I got up there and I got through it; and then I went immediately to my room and I cried for what felt like hours, even though it was only a minute or two. I wasn’t ready to be completely vulnerable in front of everybody. I think I am now.

I think I accomplished almost everything I set out to do by attending this conference. The only regret that I can think of is that I didn’t take more time to sit down with Jim Higley, who I didn’t know much about going into the conference. I’ve come to realize that he is one of those rare people who inspires us to be better people to each other. He further exemplified this by telling that group that his $3,000 1st place prize from the Ready, Set, Eat competition, would be going to help a young boy with testicular cancer. I didn’t get a chance to tell him that he inspired me in person, so I’ll do it here.

I have a million Thank You’s to hand out but I’ll save a lot of them for emails because I’m sure you’ve either stopped reading this already or are getting close to it. That said, there are a couple people I would like to mention.

* To my roommate, Andy Herald of How To Be A Dad. If I bothered you with my incessant questions, messy side of the room or general hovering, you didn’t show it even one time. Thank you for being open with your thoughts and ideas. I got a lot out of our conversations and appreciate you taking that time with me.

* To my Blogger Spotlight co-readers: Whit Honea, Carter Gaddis, Jon Hockey Jesus & Kevin McKeever. It was an honour to share the stage with you and listen to your stories. Through this exercise I learned that I don’t have to write like other people in order to be successful. Just because someone’s writing is great, doesn’t mean that mine can’t also be great in its own way.

* To the brand sponsors, who are proving that they believe in the voice we are developing as fathers and as men. And to title sponsor, Dove Men+ Care for everything they provided to make this conference the huge success it was. Thank you for everything!

* A very big Thank You to Sharon, Zeev and the rest of the staff at Parent Tested, Parent Approved for sponsoring me on this amazing journey. Without your help, I would have never had the chance to experience it and I am eternally grateful for it. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as partners and hope I did your brand proud.

* Last but not least, to Doug French, John Pacini and every other person that put their sweat and tears into this project, Thank You. I had the time of my life and that is not just lip service.

I got on the plane to come home and as I started writing this, I began to cry and had to stop. Every time I started trying to write again, I started to cry again. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m just tired. It certainly can’t be that I got emotionally charged and inspired by a bunch of dudes, right? I really miss my family and the only thing I want at this very moment is to be home with them. PS – After typing that last line, I put the computer away so my seat mates didn’t think I was unstable.

In the end, I laughed, cried, sang, spoke and even danced on a pole (for the first time, I swear). I left everything on the table, had few regrets, made many new friends and leave as a different man, who is more energized and inspired than ever. Thank you to everyone who took the time to get to know me and who made this the incredible event it was. I hope I represented myself and my country in a positive light and I’m already planning to do it all over again next year!

I’ll leave you with my interview with Brad from DadLabs, which was a lot of fun to do. Cheers!.


Video streaming by Ustream

Texas Here I Come! #Dad2Summit

DAD-Dove-logo-options2

You may notice the blog is going to be a little quiet over the next few days. That’s because I am leaving this cold, snowy home I call Canada, for the warm, sunny land known as Houston, Texas! I’m headed to Houston to attend the Dad 2.0 Summit, which is an annual conference where marketers, social media leaders, and blogging parents connect to discuss the changing voice and perception of modern fatherhood.

I thought I had shaken off the conference jitters when I attended Blissdom Canada last year but I am finding that I am way more nervous this time around. The funny thing is that the nerves have nothing to do with meeting the other Dads. It has to do with the fact that I don’t travel. Like, ever. The thought of having to figure out checking in at an airport and transferring planes makes me sick to my stomach. Then there’s the actual flying part of the trip… I am not the cling to the seat kind of flyer but that’s how I’ll feel inside for the entire trip.

All I can do to not think about the traveling is to think about what it’s going to be like when I get there. I have a seemingly cool roommate in Andy Herald from How To Be A Dad. Of course, he’s traveling with Honda on a 31 hour road trip, so he may not be the best smelling roommate upon arrival but I’m sure we’ll work it out. I’ve also heard that there may be some karaoke at some point and anyone who knows me, knows that I may have a slight case of weekend rockstar!

The other cool thing about this conference is that it will be my first opportunity to be featured as a speaker. No, seriously, it’s true. I’ve been asked to take part in the Dad 2.0 Blogger Spotlight feature, along with Whit Honea, Kevin McKeever, Black Hockey Jesus & Carter Gaddis. I know it sounds cliche but I am truly honoured to be included in a group with these guys and just to be speaking in general.

I also want to say a big Thank You to my friends at Parent Tested, Parent Approved for helping to sponsor my way to this conference. I wouldn’t have been able to go without their help and I will be forever grateful. This isn’t the last you’ll hear of them on this blog and I look forward to whatever the future has in store for us.

I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m anxious to meet the great people I interact with every day. I can’t wait to get there and I know it’s going to be a blast! So, although I may be quiet for the next few days, I am hoping to bring home a wealth of knowledge and connections that will keep me going for years to come! Here’s a cool Dad 2.0 video that was put together by Clay Nichols from the site, Dad Labs. If you are interested in following along on Twitter, I will be tweeting with the hashtag #Dad2Summit throughout the weekend. Cheers!