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Kids Baseball

He Would Have Loved This

As my kids are growing older and developing into incredible little athletes, I find myself thinking more and more about my dad and how much he would have loved having sporty grandkids. I’m guessing he’d especially love the fact that my son is playing baseball.

I can still remember how our double car garage was set up as a batting cage instead of a place for cars, and while my garage isn’t nearly as large, I still have the batting tee and net set up in much the same way. One of my great sporting regrets is not realizing how good my dad was as a coach and taking our garage lessons more seriously. You’d think watching Canadian national team members come over to hit in our garage, or seeing him coach in the Olympics would have sparked me, but I was simply too lazy to put in the extra effort. That part hasn’t changed much, I guess.

The funny thing is that as much as I told myself that I would blaze my own path with my kids, I seem to be instinctively following in my dad’s footsteps, and that’s not a bad thing. As I helped coach with my son’s baseball team this year, I understood what it was that drew him to coaching. It’s not just that you get to be around your own child to watch them grow into a sport, it’s the rush of helping other kids grow and develop physically, mentally and socially.

The first moment a child thanks you for helping them overcome a hurdle, or a parent tells you that their child raves about how much fun they’re having, you get hooked. I understand now why my dad put in so many hours studying drills and taking coaching courses to better learn the game. The winning was a lot of fun, and we won A LOT, but we had fun as a team even when we lost and we worked harder because we had great coaches.

Baseball Coaches

He may not be around to help me as a father and coach but I know he would have loved this time in his grandkids lives and it gives me motivation to give both my kids and the kids I coach the kind of attention him and his coaching staff gave to us when we were young.

What I am also saying here is that you can expect a slew of sports related posts in the years to come!

Star Wars Prize Pack Fathers Day

My Top 7 “I Am Your Father” Moments {Plus Giveaway!}

Star Wars has provided me with so much joy over the years, with no line being repeated more than the classic Darth Vader shocker, “Luke, I am your father”. To celebrate the upcoming Father’s Day celebrations, I thought I would share my Top 7 “I am your father” moments! Here we go:

7. That time I told the kids to clear their plates after lunch but they forgot and then went to play outside with their friends and then found the same old half-eaten food on their plates for dinner.

6. When the kids were supposed to shower but defiantly avoided it, so I pretended the shower was broken for a week so they could be the smelly kids at school. Lessons learned.

5. When my son threatened to run away because I wouldn’t let him play on his iPad for an extra half hour and then called his bluff by letting him put his shoes on and walking all the way down the street, only to have him realize it was a bad idea and quickly run back home.

4. The day I became the “Worst Dad Ever” for not buying the toy my kid wanted, 5 minutes before their best friend invited them over for a playdate that they needed a ride to.

3. When I told the kids to bring their toys in from outside in case it rained because I wouldn’t replace them, only to have it rain on their not brought in toys, ruining them for good.

2. When my kids found out they loved sports, so my wife and I took on extra jobs to help pay for the costs of competitive sports fees because we want the kids to have the opportunity to explore their full potentials.

1. The day I realized that I get to wake up and experience something new and amazing with these kids every single day and loving every second of it regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

As you can see, for better or worse, there are plenty of “I am your father” moments throughout the days and I absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way. Speaking of that, check out this amazing Happy ‘I Am Your Father’s Day’ video made especially for the Star Wars fans out there!

How cool was that?! Now I want to hear some of your “I am your father” moments, whether they’re happy, funny or other, and I have a great Star Wars prize pack to give away to help make your Father’s Day that much more special! All you have to do to enter is using the Rafflecopter form below and I’ll pick a winner in a few days.

Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, but I really am a father…

Comparenting Quaker

It’s Time To Stop COMPAREnting Ourselves To Each Other!

As someone who works heavily with social media it is often second nature to make sure that I am sharing the best possible photos and moments that I possibly can, even if those moments are a teeny, tiny bit staged… Even knowing that this is a common practice I often find myself getting jealous over other people’s perfect photos and experiences.

Well, I will compare myself no more! To celebrate the real side of parenting, Quaker is encouraging all Canadian families to join the #stopCOMPAREnting movement. COMPAREnting occurs when you compare your parenting style to other parents after getting only a small glimpse into their world. Social media is a great place to share and get caught up with friends and family but can often leave us feeling insecure about our own parenting methods and habits.

Instead of worrying about how perfect everyone looks on social media, Quaker’s #stopCOMPAREnting movement aims to remind Canadian parents to look beyond the image and celebrate the authentic, real everyday moments. That said Quaker and I encourage you to join us in sharing your unfiltered everyday moments on social media using the #stopCOMPAREnting hashtag. I’ll even go first!

Comparenting Quaker

What you are looking at is my messy old house. Here’s a little blogging secret that I know for a fact happens a lot. When we need that perfect shot of the kids playing nicely together or trying out a new item for the blog, we simply shift the mess from one side of the room to the other. With over 12 hours of kids activities, homework and free play to get to each week, who has time for cleaning?!

See, that wasn’t so hard, now was it? Now it’s your turn! Grab that picture you took that you swore you’d never share of your messy house or unruly kids and pop it onto your favourite social media channels using the #stopCOMPAREnting hashtag. I will guarantee you that other parents will breathe a sigh of relief that they are not the only ones and maybe even decide to share some photos of their own.

Let’s stop worrying about perfection and start supporting each other more through the ups and downs of parenting! Feel free to tag myself or Quaker Canada on social media along with your #stopCOMPAREnting posts and we’ll be there to cheer you on! Quaker, a brand that has been supporting families since 1902, believes that for families to be at their best, we must be confident in the choices we make, so let’s be confident in our decision to stop COMPAREnting!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program.

OCR Academy

Why Do Kids Have To Climb Everything??

I’ve written previously about how I have to work extra hard to bury my inner helicopter parent and as my kids are getting older I am finding that fight gets harder every single day. One of my biggest triggers is with the kids’ constant need to climb everything they see, so in an effort to fight back against my brain I decided to take them to a controlled climbing environment by visiting the OCR Academy here in Ottawa.

I foolishly thought that by letting them climb things that were meant to be climbed, my mind would be at ease. I was wrong. I spent the first 20 minutes following closely behind the kids, not wanting them to do anything without me being right there as a safety blanket. As I watched them fly through the obstacles I started to realize that they could handle themselves just fine, and even the times they fell it wasn’t so bad. A funny thing happened when I started letting them do their own thing, I got to actually relax a little bit and really enjoyed watching them push their boundaries. Who knew? I even managed to get comfortable enough to shoot some video and have shared our experience below.

How about you? Do you still have helicopter blades hidden underneath your hat or are you perfectly okay letting your kids explore on their own? Let me know in the comments here or on our video!

Hellmann's Craft 1

Do Your Kids Know Where Their Food Comes From? Plus, A Fun Family Craft!

Disclosure: This blog post was created with Hellmann’s® and JONES Voice

We had the hardest time getting our kids to eat well when they were little. I’m not sure exactly where we went wrong but it seems unfair to put the blame on the kids since they were so little and impressionable. Even up until just recently it feels like all they would want to eat was pizza and cooked spaghetti with butter. Not ideal, to say the least.

A lot of the problem has stemmed from our fast paced lifestyle. With my work hours and the kids’ multiple weekly activities, there hasn’t been a ton of time for meal preparation and we’ve found ourselves eating out a lot more than we’d like. With that has also come a complacency when it comes to the food we buy. We sometimes make the assumption that the food we purchase contains ingredients that we feel good about feeding to our children, without actually checking the ingredients out for ourselves.

After finally swallowing our pride and admitting that we were not, in fact, perfect parents, my wife and I sat down and had a long discussion about ways we could turn our eating habits around. We decided to start by purchasing small vegetable plants that the kids would be responsible for. They have to water them each day and take care of them as they are their own. So far it has been going really well as the kids love being responsible for their own plants. The hope is that once the vegetables start to grow, the kids will eat them with the pride of knowing that they grew them themselves. Time will tell but we are hopeful!

The other great thing about the vegetable plants is that it is getting the kids outside to interact with nature instead of being locked onto a computer or staring at the TV all the time. It’s tough raising kids in the digital age because it’s all new to us and there always seems to be something distracting us from slowing down and enjoying nature, and each other.

After watching the Hellmann’s #RealFoodMovement Facebook live stream, I was happy to learn that I could at least rely on what goes into the mayonnaise we have been serving the kids. Check out this great video from the #RealFoodMovement campaign that features three families visiting a canola farm in Saskatchewan. They not only got to watch what goes into making a perfect jar of mayonnaise, but they also go to eat a super delicious meal.

As part of the program, Hellmann’s challenged me to try a simple craft with the kids. What I loved about the activity is that it taught them about patience and the joys of slowing down and enjoying family time. We created our very own microwavable heating pad out of material and rice. Not being a crafting wizard myself, I was happy that the whole family got involved and I think we did a pretty fantastic job! When I say we, I of course mean that my wife and children really knocked it out of the park with very little help from their butterfingered father…

Hellmann's Craft 3

The best part about our home made pad is that it can be used as a heating pad and also put in the freezer as an ice pack! Anyone who either has children or has aching bones knows how often the heating/freezing pads come in handy and now we don’t have to waste more money on the electric versions! It was easier than I expected it to be to create them and you can make your own microwavable bags in just 3 easy steps:

Step 1 – No pattern necessary, simply cut two pieces of fabric in a square/rectangle of your desired size.
Step 2 – Sew three of the 4 sides together to make a pouch.
Step 3 – Fill pouch with the seed/grain of your choice: canola seed, rice, wheat, barley, oatmeal, beans, flax.
Step 4 – Sew up the open side and enjoy!

Hellmann's Craft 4

Piece of cake!! Best of luck with your activity and don’t forget to check out Hellmann’s on Facebook and @HellmannsCanada on Twitter! You can also check out more about Hellmann’s and “Where does your food come from” by visiting Hellmann’s on Facebook.

SAHD Guest Post

Best Vacation Ever! {Guest Post}

We have another guest post on the blog today! Please welcome Canadian father, Ingus, who is Toronto-area photographer and new dad, learning the fine art of parenting a new baby girl. You can read about his wacky adventures at Dad Mode On blog!

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“So you’re going to be off for five months, eh? You’ll have plenty of time to catch up on Netflix!”
“Five months? You’re going to be playing so much Call of Duty!”
“That’s a long time, won’t you get bored?”

Before going on my parental leave, that was the typical response I received when I told family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers that I was taking close to half a year off for the birth of our daughter.

I began to think that being a dad for the first time was going to be a sweet vacation. I mean, I won’t have to be with the baby all the time, right?

I can binge watch a little, work on that photography project that I wanted to do for years, or play videogames like I did when I was a teenager.

This is going to be an awesome, awesome vacation!

Then on Christmas night- as cliché as it can be – our 7lbs 14oz bundle of joy arrived.

And in an instant, all of those silly thoughts disappeared.

I’m sure many of you parents can agree, the first month is a write-off. Your mind, body, and soul belongs to your new little blob. You can also agree that, though the first month is difficult for dad, it is 100 times more difficult for the new mom.

For my wife and I, we made use of the fact that I was going to be off for five months by ensuring that I would be as involved as possible.

We made sure that I was earning every single moment of this vacation.

The truth is, though my job and Employment Insurance (Go Canada!) allowed me to take more time than most others, we are still taking a hit financially to make it work. Not all families have this option, and I can understand the raised eyebrows when people learn how much time I’m taking off.

Of course, there are those who go a little further and undermine the decision that I’ve made, as they are perhaps even little jealous of my situation. Through their eyes, they see me as some lucky dude who has the luxury of taking five months off as a vacation.

However.

They don’t understand that when you’re off on parental leave, it’s not a vacation and that you also become more involved and accountable for your growing family unit. They don’t see the side where you are immediately available to take your wife and baby to the Emergency Room; or where you are able to call an ambulance in the middle of the night without having to tell your boss you won’t be in; or where you don’t have to ask a co-worker to cover for you after speaking to a telehealth nurse about your daughter’s fever.

They don’t see those things, and I suppose it may be my fault for only showing the good side. To them they only see the fruits of the work I put in – you know, those silly photos, status updates that I post on social media. The thing is this was not me bragging about my situation, this was just me relishing the hard earned vacation I was having.

SAHD Guest Post 2

I love (and am loving) every minute of it. If we have another kid and if it were financially feasible, I will no doubt choose to take the same or more time off.

You see, there’s also an added benefit to being there from the get-go: I am damn confident in my dad abilities.

She needs a changing after front and back poop… in the dark? Boom. Done.
She’s wearing button-on shirt today, with jeans and socks? Boom. Done.
She won’t burp? Burp. Done.
Mom needs to go out all day to help a friend? Done, and I’ll have dinner ready by six.

There’s no better feeling than to feel confident and competent as a father and husband. I sincerely feel that had I taken only a few weeks off, I don’t think I would feel the way that I feel right now.

Every day I am rewarded with something new from my daughter. Whether it was her first smile, first laugh, or most recently her first babbling conversation: I’m here to witness it.

And there’s no better thing in the world, and it was simply the best decision I ever made.

Now with two months left to go on my parental leave, it truly does feel like a vacation. Instead of binge-watching Netflix, I binge-watch my daughter figuring out the world. Instead of playing video games at night, I play how do we get her to sleep through the night.

I truly do not want it to end, as it really has become an awesome, awesome vacation.

SAHD Guest Post 3

Jason McNaught Guest Post Canadian Dad

From Zombie to Post-Op {Guest Post}

We have another guest post on the blog today! Please welcome Canadian father, Jason McNaught, who is a father to a three-year-old ninja-in-training, and loves every minute of it. In May, he will publish the first issue of The New Hip, an Ottawa-based lifestyle magazine for older adults. TheNewHip.com

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My wife and I knew something was wrong from the beginning. Tate hardly ever slept. He would wake up screaming almost every hour. I’d be at wit’s end, bouncing him on a ball, singing whatever came into my head (lots of times it was Amazing Grace for some reason). Nothing ever seemed to work, except for lying on his Mom’s chest when she was propped up by a couple of pillows.

We took some heat from those close to us about him always sleeping in our bed. After a few months, we got rid of the crib because we never used it.

It was a fluke, after a year of living life in a zombie-like haze, we discovered there actually was something wrong with Tate. My wife went to feed him in front of the doctor, and as soon as he got a mouthful of nipple he started to grunt like a suckling piglet. Turns out, he was struggling to breathe, not being cute.

When the doctor heard the noise, her eyebrow raised and she asked to look inside his mouth. “That’s not normal,” she said flatly.

Her diagnosis was quick, primarily because when she tried to look down Tate’s throat, her light didn’t travel very far. His tonsils were the size of a grown man’s … even when he wasn’t trying to feed, he was struggling to breathe.

An MRI, scheduled shortly after, confirmed what the doctor had suspected: Tate had sleep apnea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just his tonsils that were causing problems. His adenoids were also abnormally large, and his nasal passages were narrower than normal.

The MRI was something else. Seeing your baby shoved into a clear plastic tube to keep him from moving, screaming bloody murder, struggling with all his might to free himself, not even remotely understanding why he was trapped there, why his parents weren’t responding to his cries for help … and then … being gently shoved into a larger tube, away from his parents, to the sound of strange, intermittent whirring.

Watching that is torture. At least, for my wife it was. I wasn’t there. It caught her off-guard. My wife and I both had MRIs before, and we knew it was painless. But then again, we’d never considered that, for Tate, it might be our equivalent of being abducted by aliens.

For those who aren’t sure what sleep apnea is, I really didn’t know a lot about it either. In fact, the extent of my knowledge was that it affected people who were obese and they commonly wore very uncomfortable masks to sleep. Formally, the Mayo Clinic defines Sleep Apnea as “a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.”

I had no idea babies could have sleep apnea, and that was part of the reason it took us sooo long to get help. Just think about what happens when you tell another parent that your baby isn’t getting a lot of sleep at night. “Oh, yeah. I’ve been there,” is what you’ll get in response to that. You’ll never hear: “Your child isn’t sleeping at night? You need to take them to the hospital and get them checked out.”

It’s uncomfortable to think that, every time we put Tate onto his back after falling asleep in our arms, we were unknowingly allowing him to be choked by his own body. But that’s exactly what was happening. As soon as he’d relax, his tonsils and adenoids (a mass of soft tissue behind the nasal cavity) would close up his windpipe and he’d stop breathing. That was why he kept waking up screaming.

Fixing Tate’s sleep apnea was relatively straightforward, but not as fast as we had hoped. Even before seeing an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, we could have guessed that Tate would need surgery to remove his adenoids and tonsils, but the bad news was that, because he was so young, they couldn’t remove them both at once. The risk of swelling and other complications was too high.

Between the first surgery to remove his adenoids removed, and the second surgery to remove his tonsils, we waited approximately a year. During that time, Tate’s breathing — although it showed initial improvement with the removal of his tonsils — became progressively worse.

A few months before the removal of his tonsils, we were back at the doctor again. A quick examination revealed that were blocking 70% of his airway. Although we had moved him into his own bed at that point (at least, he started the night there), we would lie awake and listen to him subconsciously fight to get air. It was noisy … and frightening.

After Tate’s second surgery, his life improved dramatically. Without sleep, parts of his development had been slow. His hair was thin, he hadn’t been able to gain weight, and his eyes had permanent dark circles, almost like a raccoon’s. Tate had been known secretly among our family as “Rage Baby”. My wife was often the only person that could console him. He spent parts of the day absolutely hysterical — crying and screaming for no apparent reason.

Three weeks after the removal of his tonsils, his hair began to grow thicker, he put on a little weight, and finally … he started to sleep through most of the night, and those dark circles faded away. His rage also subsided, although not completely. Perhaps our son was born a bit of a curmudgeon. We’re still figuring that one out.

The best lesson I can teach about this experience is to trust your instincts as a parent. Our doctor told us that, had we been absolutely steadfast in our resolve to have him sleep in his crib, on his back, there was a chance that he might have stopped breathing … and not woken up.

Fortunately, my wife resisted the gentle prodding from friends and family to let him “cry it out” in that crib, and instead stuck to the only thing she found to work: propping herself up on a few pillows and putting Tate on her chest. That decision, said our doctor, was the one thing that might have saved his life. The sound of her slow, steady breath triggered his brain to breathe too, and that semi-upright position kept his airway open.

Finally, if you get the feeling that something with your child just isn’t right, even if it is as common as not sleeping, make an appointment with your doctor and talk to them. Put aside the feelings about wasting their time, because you are not a healthcare expert. If you think something is wrong with your child, let a doctor make the final call. Better you think you’re crazy than to find out you weren’t after the fact.

Dad Kids Video Games

The World I Know

I wake up, fall out of bed and drag a comb across my head. Before I get sued by the Beatles I should point out that this is a stunningly accurate portrayal of my daily routine. Every morning I groggily stumble out the front door on my way to work before the kids are even awake. I make sure to check in on them as I pass by their rooms, mostly just to enjoy their tiny faces in their most peaceful of moments.

I somehow manage to make it in to work on time each day, drink way too much coffee and potentially talk a little too much. At the end of the day, I Yabba Dabba Doo my way out to my car where I listen to the same radio show, talking about the same thing they do every other day with a traffic report on the 1’s. I glide peacefully home where I have about thirty minutes of quiet before picking up the kids from school.

The thirty minutes often feels like three but I’m always excited to see the kids. My daughter comes out first and lazily gives me a hug, which I’ve dubbed the leaning tower, as she throws her backpack at my feet and joins the procession of people walking to the next pick up spot. Her brother exits next and they hug a hug that shows how much they love each other. I have to be honest, this is my favourite part of pickup.

Once we get home, it’s road hockey, scooters and laughter until suppertime, which is usually later because it’s hard to be the reason the laughter has to come to an end. Dinner, baths, homework, story time, songs, laughter and sleep round out the day, every day.

When you read through this story it may seem kind of familiar and maybe even a little boring. The truth is that it can be boring at times and that’s fine because every so often you get a moment of difference. It could be an unprompted hug, a random compliment or even just a look from your child that conveys how much they love you. You know the look I’m talking about. In those moments, time stands still and I can’t wait to do it all over again the next day.

Photo credit to David Redding from Redding Photographics

Learn How To Read

How I’m Helping My Children Learn To Read

Just when you think this parenting is getting a little easier, you hit another road block. That was the case for us recently as we embarked on the wonderful journey that is teaching our kids how to read. My first mistake was assuming that reading to the kids every night before bed was enough to make it happen. I was incorrect.

Now that I am all grown up, I tend to take a lot of things for granted. I seem to forget that there was once a time where I didn’t know how to tie my shoe, or play hockey, or read a book, and that those things didn’t just happen miraculously overnight. When my son recently struggled with his reading progression, I blamed myself for not pushing him hard enough. The reality of it, however, was that it wasn’t the level of effort that was holding him back, but it was a combination of a few different things.

First, all children learn differently and at different paces. That is probably the hardest thing to grasp as a parent because there is a secret voice inside all of us that pits us against other parents. Just admit it, it’s okay. Second, the method I was using was not effective. I was getting him to try to read his easy reader bedtime books to me, not realizing that he was exhausted from a long day and had little to no interest in trying to get the words right.

I decided to take to the trusty internet to look for some resources to help us with our reading adventure and came across a site called Reading Eggs. It offered online lessons for reading and math that were full of interactive animations, fun games, great songs and lots of rewards, so we signed up for the free trial and got to work. We usually give our son a little bit of screen time for video games but once he started working on the Reading Eggs activities, he began choosing that over his video game time, which, PS, is totally amazing!

Once our trial was done, we noticed a big improvement in both our children’s abilities and decided to sign them both up for the 6 month subscription package, which we are about half way through. Because the kids love it so much, this was one of the few times I have reached out to a company to see if they wanted to partner together to offer something for my readers and they love they idea!

How about you? What has been your biggest struggle or success with helping teach your children to read?

Extended Free Trial Of Reading Eggs!

4 Week Trial - Reading Eggs

From now until Nov 30th, if you Visit This Link, you will be able to sign up for an extended 4 week free trial to Reading Eggs! If you do sign up, make sure to let me know how you like it. You can also follow the folks at Reading Eggs on Facebook and Twitter.

Canadian Dad Podcast - Dai Manuel

Canadian Dad Podcast – Ep. 3 – Fitness Coach, Dai Manuel

This week on the podcast, I spoke to fitness coach, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and father, Dai Manuel, from the website The Moose is Loose. Dai shares tips for parents who want to start making some changes in their lives. 

We discuss Dai’s battle with childhood obesity that led him to start taking care of his body at a young age, and I share my struggles with weight and general laziness. We also spend some time talking about the importance of setting a good example for our kids and ways to get them involved in the fun of exercising.  

Overall, Dai shares some amazing tips on how to get started and if you sign up for his mailing list, you get a very cool ebook that has 99 workouts that you can do with no extra equipment required. 

Enjoy the show!