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Catch The Harlem Globetrotters at Scotiabank Place on April 11th

Globetrotters

It’s funny to think that I have never been to a Harlem Globetrotters game. I mean, they’ve been around almost three times longer than I have and are beloved by almost everyone who has seen them. Well, all that is about to change at 7pm on April 11th, when I will be bringing my family to a game for the first time. That’s right, the Globetrotters are bringing their 2013 “You Write The Rules” World Tour to Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place and I will be front and center for all the action. Or maybe middle and left, I guess. Who really knows where seats are anymore.

The “You Write The Rules” Tour will be the first time that the fans will have a say in how the game will be officiated. Fans can vote for which rule(s) they want the Harlem Globetrotters to implement during their game by visiting www.harlemglobetrotters.com/rule and voting on rules, such as the use of two basketballs, double points, a 4-point shot (Buckets Blakes’ specialty), the dreaded penalty box and playing 6-on-5.

It sounds like a great time for the whole family and I can’t wait to get there! Tickets to see the world’s most famous basketball team start at $15 and can be purchased by visiting www.CapitalTickets.ca, by phone at 613-599-FANS (3267) or 1-877-788-FANS (3267); in person at The Sens Store at Carlingwood Mall and Place d’Orléans, any Ottawa Sports Experts location; Les Galeries de Hull and at the Scotiabank Place box office.

Also, thanks to my friends at Scotiabank Place, I will have the opportunity to interview Globetrotter Buckets Blakes in the coming days and will share that experience with you once it’s done. Hope to see you at the show! For more info on the Globetrotters, you can follow them on Twitter or on their Facebook Page.

We Day Is Coming To Ottawa!

National We Day

When I was asked to attend the launch for National We Day, I really had no idea what to expect. If I’m being honest, I hadn’t really heard of We Day or the Free The Children organization but I was interested in finding out more, so I visited their official website and started to watch some of their videos. It only took about three videos before I began to swell up with emotion and inspiration and realized that this was an event that was going to change my life.

At the launch, I was lucky enough to meet Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger. In hearing his passion for what they are trying to accomplish, it was clear why this event has grown into the huge success that it is. Listening to the children speak about how this experience has changed them was especially moving and their passion to make the world a better place may or may not have caused a joyful tear or two.

One of the best parts of We Day is that you can’t buy a ticket. You have to earn your ticket through action. 1 Global and 1 Local action, to be exact. You can visit their Take Action page for more info on registering and volunteering.

So, I’m all in. How about you? I can’t think of anything better to do with my time than to teach our children how to be good to each other as we raise a new generation of young adults. I’ve included the list of speakers/performers for National We Day on April 29th, followed by the video that got me all choked up and inspired me to be a part of this movement. I hope you will take a few minutes to check out the website to see how you can take part and make a difference.

Martin Sheen – Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning actor and activist
Chief Shawn Atleo – National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
Kardinal Offishall – Canadian rapper and record producer
Karl Wolf – International recording artist, Socan& MTV Europe Music Award winner
Shawn Desman – Platinum-selling, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artist
Cast members from the hit TV show DEGRASSI
My Name is Kay – Canadian singer and songwriter
A performance by ONE DROP, a Cirque du Soleil Founder’s initiative
Frank O’Dea – Second Cup founder, Canadian entrepreneur, humanitarian and author
Neverest – Canadian pop-rock band
Jillian Vanstone – principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada
Rob Stewart – Award winning filmmaker of Sharkwater and Revolution
Tyler Shaw – 2012 Coca Cola COVERS MuchMusic Video Award winner
Molly Burke – Visually impaired Me to We motivational speaker
Spencer West – Me to We motivational speaker and Free The Children ambassador

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to find the answers for you. I really think this is going to affect a lot of people in a great way and I’m so happy that it is coming to the Ottawa area.

Could I look more awkward?? Still, awesome!

Could I look more awkward?? Still, awesome!

A Vacation In Our Own Backyard

Parliament Hill

Something people may not know about me is that before I became a blogger, I went through a pretty hard core phase as a contester. I’m not talking about entering a couple contests here and there either. I mean full blown, spreadsheet creating, madness! I have probably entered about five contests in my first year as a blogger and this past weekend I was lucky enough to win a weekend stay at a hotel right in my own town, the Ottawa Marriott.

After breaking the good news to my wife, we decided to spend one night in the hotel with the kids and one night with just the two of us. A huge thanks to my Mom for watching the kids on the second night to allow us to have our first night away in almost two years! We got there and immediately headed down to the kids play room. I had heard about this from a few friends and couldn’t wait to check it out for myself. As expected, the kids had a blast and negotiated their way to an extra 15 minutes of play time. They probably could have scored an extra 30 minutes, but don’t tell them that.

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The kids love staying in hotels and we decided to get a king sized bed so we could all sleep together. I knew that meant we would get a little less sleep and I even took a few shots to the face from the boy, but it was totally worth it to see their smiling faces. And just in case anyone from the Marriott reads this, I promised that the kids would jump on the bed and I always keep my promises. I even threw in a little extra…

Daddy jumps on beds too!

Daddy jumps on beds too!

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As much fun as night one had been, I was definitely looking forward to some husband and wife time. It had been so long since we could just go out to enjoy a dinner without worrying about how late it was. We enjoyed a nice dinner at the Hard Rock and headed back to the hotel to watch a movie. Unfortunately the movie channel was broken, so we were left without many options on TV on a Saturday night.

Fortunately, if I taught my wife anything about social media, it is that excellent brands always come through in the clutch! She had just started to discover the world of twitter and expressed her disappointment over not being able to watch a movie together. Two minutes later, the phone rang and it was the manager of the hotel, who mentioned they saw her tweet and wanted to make it right. They offered to bring up a DVD player and some movies for us, which I appreciated but declined. That would have been enough for me but they decided to go the extra mile and offered us breakfast in bed for two the next morning. JOY!

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I took so much away from this weekend and have felt extremely energized ever since. It’s so important to take the time to unwind, both as a family and as a couple. To be able to do it right in our own backyard was icing on the cake. This is not a sponsored post in any way but I want to say a huge thank you to the Ottawa Marriott for your hospitality and amazing service. Also, thank you for having a Starbucks in the lobby!

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My Day With The Cast Of Disney On Ice

Disney on Ice2

When I pitched the idea of me skating with the cast of Disney on Ice, I was only half joking. In my mind, there was no way they were going to take time out of their busy touring schedule to let me do this. As it turns out, the joke was on me when they gladly accepted my offer.

So, after a rigorous hunt for a videographer, I set out to Scotiabank Place at 6am on a Friday morning and had my opportunity in the Disney on Ice spotlight. After attending the amazing show with my family the night before, I was more nervous than I had been in a long time. Even as I left the arena that day, I still hadn’t processed how awesome the experience was. That was, until I saw the video that Algonquin College student and life saver, Troy Baker, had put together for me.

This was my first experience with live interviewing someone and also with creating my own video and I’m proud as heck at how everything turned out. I want to say a huge, huge thank you to everyone at Scotiabank Place and Feld Entertainment for helping facilitate my request. I also want to thank Whitney Thomas and the rest of the cast from Disney on Ice for being so friendly and welcoming, even though I made them wake up very early to watch me humiliate myself. Finally, thanks to Troy Baker for stepping in and shooting and editing all the footage, you saved the day, man! I realize that life changing sounds like an exaggeration but that’s exactly what it was in a lot of ways and I am very grateful to have had the experience.

Without further ado, here is a quick recap video of my day with the cast of Disney on Ice. The show was amazing as well and I highly recommend checking it out! Enjoy!

Who’s The Best? The Company That Made These Coffee Lids, That’s Who!

I got to spend some Daddy time with the kids this week and we decided to go to our favourite local coffee shop, the Sippy Cup Cafe, to hang out. This particular shop is cool because one half is a fancier coffee shop and the other is a children’s play area. The kids love it and the staff and owner are great, so it’s a win-win for us.

This week, there was something different about the coffee cup lids. The employees had handwritten different positive messages on every single coffee lid and while it took me a few minutes to fully appreciate it, I really liked the small touch and good vibe it added to my day. As you can see above, my cup was obviously a “meant to be” situation.

It’s tough for small shops like this to differentiate themselves, but these guys impressed me on this day by offering something that the others don’t; a personal touch. It just goes to show that you don’t always have to break the bank to impress people. Sometimes, just adding a laugh to someone’s day is enough.

Keep Up The Great Work, Sippy Cup Cafe!

Cheers!

Our Elf On The Shelf Is Back! Say Hello To Zerby

We started our family’s Elf on the Shelf tradition last year and the kids really got into it, so we’re welcoming the Elf back to our shelves again this Christmas season! I’d like to introduce you to, Zerby!

Sure, he sounds like something out of a 1970’s science fiction movie, but I can assure you that he is the coolest Elf you will ever meet. Plus, Zerby is easy to remember and is way better than having to repeat Princess Fluffy Muffins or Pinky Sparkles McStrawberry the Third!

Zerb’s and I spent most of last night catching up with each other after a long 11 month break and he had me in stitches all night long. Of course, that could also have been the Rye… Either way, it was good to have him back and I know the kids will be excited to see him in the house.

We started with just the Elf last year and although the kids enjoyed having him change places every night, it didn’t really hit full stride until we saw the Elf on the Shelf movie on TV. Since that day, there has been even more excitement over his arrival, as it gives him a back story that the kids can draw from.

In the interest of getting the full effect of the Elf’s presence, I suggest that you go out and get the DVD. It has been so much fun watching the kids’ excitement over it. For those of you in Ottawa, I picked mine up for $10 at Tag Along Toys in Kanata, or you could try to catch it when it airs on TV, but I find it’s always nicer to have the hard copy.

Well, that’s it for me and Zerby! I hope you’ll keep checking in on our crazy Dad and Elf adventures this year, as we have a lot in store for you!

Cheers!

Stanley’s Christmas Village in Ottawa

There’s a new Christmas attraction in Ottawa this year and my family were lucky enough to be invited to the inaugural run. It’s called the Stanley’s Christmas Village and is held at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm.

The Stanley Family has decided to open up a Christmas Village this year, in hopes of bringing a little more Christmas Joy to families across the city. There’s a twist to this village that makes it different from a few of the others out there. Owner, Earl Stanley, told me that it was his vision to focus more on the behind the scenes work of the Elves.

That’s why Stanley’s Christmas Village takes you, by magical horse drawn ride through the forest to an enchanted Elf Outpost. The whole tour is run by Elves, who sang songs, played games & were happy to pose for pictures with the kids (and the grown ups too)!

The night was very fun for our kids, as the Elf Village was decked out with Christmas lights and Elf Houses. They had The Wrapping Warehouse, Herme’s Dental Office, Candy Cane Daycare, The Reindeer Stables, Curby the Post Truck and my kids’ favourite, The C.E.O Station, which is in charge of gathering all of the local mail for Santa and transporting it, using the latest RIM (Reindeer In Motion) Technology to the North Pole Head Office.

Our family had a great time and the kids especially had fun. The best part is that the Stanley’s are collecting used toys to donate to the Salvation Army, so when you stop by, be sure to bring some along. It’s the first year for the Christmas Village, so there are some kinks to be expected, but overall I would recommend taking the trip out to Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm so your kids can enjoy the Elf Outpost.

Visits are by reservation only, so be sure to Visit The Stanley’s Website to book your time! Just watch out for that pesky Grinch!

Cheers!

Canadian Spotlight: The Ottawa Children’s Gala

This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting Spencer Warren, and we got to talking about a huge event he puts on every year. The event is called The Ottawa Children’s Gala and it is being held in support of CHEO’s “Plan-It Safe” program.

The Ottawa Children’s Gala is a formal gala, which is filled with entertainment for adults and children. The event, held in the Grand Ballroom at the Hampton Inn Ottawa, will have a red carpet, complete with a professional photographer, a classy meal, exciting entertainment and a dance.

The doors will open at 4pm on February 16th, 2013, where you can enjoy a cocktail with ambient music from Kimberley Dunn. Walk down the red carpet to have your photo taken with your family, get your face painted and enjoy the evening with performances by ‘Orpheus’, Kimberley Dunn, Brothers Dube, Pulse N’Limited and many more acts. The Gala will be hosted by the CTV Morning Show’s Lianne Laing.

The longer we talked about the Gala, the more excited I was for it to actually get here. Spencer assured me that the tickets will sell out, so if you are interested in attending, I suggest you head over to the Ottawa Children’s Gala Website soon, to stay on top of the info. You can also skip right to the ordering tickets part by Clicking Here!

This promises to be a great time for the whole family and it also supports a great cause in CHEO’s Plan-It Safe program. For updates on the Ottawa Children’s Gala, you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, check out this great video from last year’s Gala, so you can see what it’s all about. Hope to see you there!

More About CHEO’s “Plan-It Safe” Program

Corrine Langill and her team are dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries in our city. Their mission is to increase local capacity, strengthen public policy, ensure effective programming and advocate for the creation of safe environments to reduce the toll injuries take on children and youth in our communities. The Centre works in collaboration with many of the community partners who deliver injury prevention programming. Its core competencies are injury surveillance, research and program evaluation, consultation on program planning, implementation and evaluation, advocacy and professional and public education.

Win Tickets To See Max & Ruby Live In Ottawa!

As my kids are getting older (of course they are), they are starting to enjoy the finer things in life a little more. Things such as live shows featuring their favourite characters are at the top of their lists and I couldn’t be happier about it.

When I found out that Max & Ruby would be bringing their Nutcracker Suite show to our town, I was immediately excited! My daughter loves Max & Ruby, and although my son pretends he is too big for it, once he saw the commercial, he was hooked. Here’s a little info on the show:

About Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite

Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite is the newest live show produced by Koba Entertainment. The company’s roster of celebrated theatrical productions also includes Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon and The Backyardigans: Quest for the Extra Ordinary Aliens.

Set to the timeless music of Tchaikovsky as well as delightful original songs, this 90-minute event boasts captivating original choreography by Patti Caplette – who has professionally danced in over 100 ballet performances of The Nutcracker with Canada’s leading dance companies: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet – beautiful costumes by designer, Anne Armit, and breathtaking sets by Gemini Award-winner, Brian Purchaluk.

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The “Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite” show will begin it’s Canadian Tour starting November 9th in Surrey, BC and closes out in Pembroke, ON on Dec 19th. For all the Tour Dates, please visit the Official Tour Page.

I’m also happy to announce that the fine folks at Koba Entertainment, have given me a Family 4 Pack to giveaway for the Dec 18th, 3:30pm show in Ottawa, ON! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to be entered to win. Contest is open to residents of Canada (Ottawa is obviously preferred) and the tickets will be left at the Centrepointe Theater will call for you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! I can’t guarantee that Max & Ruby’s parents will be there but it should be a great time all around! Good Luck!

Our First Family Photo Shoot! With The Talented Erin Petruska

After 4 years of raising kids and snapping 1000’s of iPhone pictures, my wife and I decided to finally get some profession family pictures done. We were lucky enough to meet our photographer, Erin Petruska, while at a local charity event and she impressed us right away! We got to talking and very quickly set up our appointment.

Unfortunately for Erin, we had to reschedule about 13 times because of various kid illnesses and weather, but we finally got together for our big day and it certainly did not disappoint. I was a little worried about how Erin would view us after having to cancel so many times but she couldn’t have been more awesome, especially with the kids. When she started off the session by spending some time getting the kids to be comfortable with her and her camera, I knew we had chosen the right person for the job.

One of the reasons I hadn’t wanted to get family photos done, is that I had a preconceived notion that we would have to do all the work in scouting and planning poses for them. It’s not that I’m lazy; I’m just terrible at that part of it. Okay, and a little lazy… To my pleasant surprise, we told Erin where we wanted to have the shots done and when we arrived, she had a complete plan in place for the whole area, along with all the different poses she was looking for.

That’s not to say she wasn’t open to input because she asked us at each location if we wanted other shots and I appreciated that greatly! It’s tough to balance being friendly and professional at the same time but she did it seamlessly and we were completely comfortable the entire shoot.

I’m not even sure what else to say. She was exactly what we were looking for in a photographer. Kind, Professional, Great with kids and she emailed some photos immediately to us and delivered our CD very quickly after the shoot. If you are looking for all of those things (of course you are) than I very, very highly recommend Erin Petruska for your next family shoot.

For more information about Erin Petruska Photography, you can visit Erin’s Website Here! Also, if you feel like connecting with her online, you can reach her on Twitter and also on Facebook. Honestly, this was an amazing experience for our family and we are very grateful to have met Erin in our travels. Thank You, Erin, for all your great work!

Now on to some of my favourite shots!

**Photo shoot was provided in exchange for a review of services. All opinions are my own. I truly enjoyed this experience and hope you will give Erin a shot. Just look at those photos!**