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It finally happened, Toronto. We thought we could dodge it and the good times would last forever. People strolled around in the middle of December with their coats wide open, not caring that the calendar marked toboggan season. I saw people still mowing their lawns in late November—a time of the year where everyone’s usually salting their walkways so they don’t slip and break their necks. No—snow’s hit Toronto, and it’s here with a vengeance.

But it could be worse—at least we have some idea of what to do when the world freezes over. Bundle up. Get winter tires on your car. Stock up on groceries just in case the weather gets bad. We do all we can to make it through winter, but is anyone making winter easier for you?

Let’s be real—winter takes its toll. Salt and snow do a number on your car, you need extra nutrition so you don’t catch cold… there are extra costs we need to pay to make it through this season, and it’s not like anyone’s paying us more to help out.

Good thing there are ways for us to pay less.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Esurance, an online insurance provider that can protect your interests and save you money!

Breaking Down How Esurance Insurance Can Save You Money — It’s All About the Numbers! NeONBRAND

Let’s look at a possible scenario.

You have a child ready to start their first year of university. The world’s their oyster! They’ll live on campus, but have a car fitted with winter tires—the one they got the second they got their G licence—so they can visit you a couple of hours away (every weekend you’ll insist). But did you know that with Esurance, they (or you depending on your household) could save 75% or more on their insurance?!

  • 50% for living more than 100 km from home
  • 10% for being on the first year of your G licence
  • 10% for being a student with at least an 80% average
  • and 5% for driving with winter tires!

See, Esurance is in the business of making life easier for their customers. They know you’re already looking online for the best deals and value, but they strive to make it simple through better tools and resources. Sure, a site can provide a quote, but what good is a number if you don’t know what goes into it? Or how you can improve it? With Esurance, you can take out the guesswork and build the homeowners’ and auto insurance policies that are right for you.

And it doesn’t have to give you a headache—whether it’s getting the initial quote or you’re filing a claim, they’re using nearly twenty years’ experience to help Ontarians easily get the best value for their money.

It’s time to expect more of the things that protect you… but are you ready to rise to the challenge?

That, my friends, is the real question.

No Matter Your Shape, Size, Age or Sex, There’s an Esurance Policy for You!

Let’s face it—everyone needs insurance. You could be a new parent, a business owner or a retiree! Heck, maybe you’re even consolidating everything in one place to protect your home, cars and the people you care about. (Discounts start at 36%—17-29% for having multiple policies with Esurance and 19% for insuring multiple vehicles!)

Whoever you are, it’s always worth knowing that you have options. Why accept only what’s offered to you? With insurance—and really with services in general—you should never have to settle. A sign of great customer service is getting what you were looking for and more—it’s time for you to get it.

Esurance auto and homeowners’ insurance—insurance that keeps up with you.

Let’s get it.

Until the next,

–case p.

Disclaimer: Esurance compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions remain my own. Insurance is important, guys—don’t leave home without it! (Heck, don’t even live in a home without it!)

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And then in January 2018, I went and hit a wall.

I looked good on paper. I’d just finished my best year yet as a blogger, already looking to take things a step farther with a retooled Tales from the 2.9. And adulting was alright, too—I had the routine down with the morning drop-offs, the house was kept relatively clean, and there wasn’t anyone clawing at the door for money. Life was good, and as my friends would point out, many would kill to be in my shoes—but don’t get any ideas. However, all that didn’t make for great storytelling, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get my words quite right. The volume was there, but the tank was empty—it was time to look for some new inspiration.

And with that in mind, enter Dad 2.0.

Dad 2.0 — Why I NEEDED to Visit the Big Easy

The decision to go to Dad 2.0 wasn’t one made lightly. Fellow Canadian Dad Bloggers Buzz Bishop and Chris Read had been at me to check it out for years, but the timing never felt quite… right.

In 2014, my first was just a few months old, plus I’d just been to the North American International Auto Show the month before. In 2015, we’d just returned from a trip to Cuba with all of Sarah’s family, and I was sure leaving again so soon wasn’t that favourable an option. January 2016 brought my second son and the promise I’d stay put for a year, no matter what the #BloggerLife gave me. And with everyone else home all day as Sarah took extra time away from the office so we didn’t need to pay $3000 a month for daycare, being away in 2017 was not an option—who’d want to fly solo with two kids when you didn’t have to?

Enter Dad 2.018.

But 2018. 2018 brought the Dad 2.0 Summit 2.018, and it felt like I was finally ready. The kids were in all-day programs, the conference’s costs within my means. I could work remotely and go somewhere I’d never been before—it felt like the pieces had finally come together to make this trip my own.

And so I went. The flight times weren’t ideal, the hotel costlier than expected, but I needed to see what it was all about—this conference my contemporaries talked about so often.

Ladies and gentlemen—especially my fellow Dads—let me tell you all about the Dad 2.0 Summit.

Dad 2.0 — What Exactly IS It?

Dad 2.0 is a great conference—in fact, it’s one of the greatest conferences I’ve ever seen. It put me in the mind of the Bloggers in Sin City unconference I hit up back in 2013—programming focused on the emotion behind our content and not just the mechanics of producing the content itself. It focused far more on the “Dad” in Dad Blogger, and while talks on SEO, Instagram and personal branding are useful, how much more can men gain discussing the very things that make them Dads?

Dad 2.0 brought about different things for different Dads (and the beautiful people who support them.) Some found joy reconnecting with fellow Dads from across America—an annual reunion where they can catch up and exchange notes. Others found anything from inspiration immersed in the sights and sounds of a new environment to anxiety as they shook hands with sporting greats or digital titans they’d usually only access through YouTube.

Dad 2.0 Will Bring You Friends Aplenty, But Also Make You Miss Your Fam.

Canadians Assemble! #Dad2Summit pic.twitter.com/6sp4mL7gFX

— Chris Read (@CanadianDadBlog) February 3, 2018

But for me, it was a mix. I made the most of every crowd I was in, loving finally meeting Chris Read in person and talking about our journeys so far, and making great new friends like Aaron McGee and Manny Gonzalez who became fast friends as we talked. But when the nights wrapped up and left me to my own devices, the loneliness hit hard, and I’d remember how much I missed my family. How much I’d discarded since becoming a Dad, with the relationships, habits and activities that defined so much of my life now becoming things of the past. I’d lay there wide-eyed in the stillness, for no pint-sized cries were interrupting my evening so I could soothe them back to sleep.

I found myself face-to-face with my very identity as a Dad, and the thought of it was terrifying.

But if there were anywhere for me to figure it out, it’d be the seventh annual Dad 2.0 Summit, offering both relationships and opportunities at a scale you just can’t get in Toronto.

And I’m here to tell you what I learned.

Everything I Needed to Know in Life I Learned from Dad 2.0

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer — The Road to Dad 2.0 and BEYOND. — Casey at the Clorox Booth

Now I couldn’t do everything—with plenty of time spent chatting with others and jotting notes down, there’s no way I could perfectly adhere to a schedule, but there’s was plenty available for any sort of Dad in the hundreds there.

I didn’t drive the Kia Stinger. I didn’t get pampered in the Dove Men+Care lounge. There was no way I’d make the fitness events in the mornings, I didn’t get to meet Von Miller, and I only got to some of the Roundtable Workshops. What you quickly learn from a conference this size is that picking and choosing events isn’t only how you figure your schedule out—it’s a method of survival with so much going on!

But I feel like I got what I came for, even if I still don’t quite know exactly what that was. I made connections with people like Mike and Christine Tremoulet not necessarily as just peers in the blogosphere, but as friends who helped make sure I eased into things soundly on the first night. My world shifted just a bit after Dad 2.018—for the better—and what I experienced is exactly why this conference keeps on growing. It’s important. It’s visceral. And it’s exactly why I think I’ll see even more Dads there at Dad 2.019 when it happens next February in San Antonio, Texas!

You heard it here first.

Dad 2.0 – I Felt All the Feels and I’ll See You Next Year!

It’s all about figuring out what kind of Dad you are, and the Dad 2.0 Summit gives plenty of opportunities to do it. Whether it’s while flying a drone and exploring abandoned power plants or through breakdancing while trying to clean a bathroom (no lie), it’s about busting through boundaries to figure out who you are.

And anything I didn’t figure out in Dad 2.018, well…

…that’s why there’s a 2.019, right?

’til the next, I remain,

–case p.

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“So,” you’re probably asking, “Whatever happened to your Black History Month series?”

Anyone who pays attention to what goes down on this blog will know that this year’s Black History Month series—Live from the 3.5—took a bit of a hiatus just as quick as it started, leaving many scratching their heads as February rolled on. And I wish I could attribute it to one thing—contributors needing more time. Spending February’s first thirteen days either away, catching up, or taking care of my sick children. When I dreamt what was possible with this series after two years getting it out, I didn’t think I’d be here—halfway through the month with but a single post to show for it.

But a quitter I am not. Now that I’m in Toronto for the foreseeable future, it’s time to sort my house out, including playing catch-up on a series that’s needed.

Live from the 3.5 — Because Our Black Canadian Stories Need Telling

“So how’s it goin’ down,” you ask, channelling your inner DMX. And I have an answer—I want to put two pieces up a day. Some might say that’s impossible. Too ambitious. Those who know me well might even call it “bloody irresponsible”. But no matter how you slice it, there’s not much out there telling Black Canadian stories in the digital world, so it’s more than just a personal need to get these pieces out—it’s a responsibility.

But that’s enough of an interlude to this year’s tales—let’s get them out to give y’all something to talk about!

‘Til the next,

–case p.

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Trying something new by using my new Tascam DR-10L lavalier mic to capture my thoughts, street noise and all!

http://caseypalmer.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Quick-Clips-with-Case-P-1-—-Old-Dog-New-Tricks.mp3

In episode one of Quick Clips with Case P, it’s all about:

If this works well, I’ll probably keep up with it regularly!

‘Til the next, y’all,

–case p.

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Let’s be real—every parent dreams of the day they aren’t dealing with diapers anymore. I mean, you get all sorts of kids in those early years—the ones totally okay wearing a soiled diaper even though it’s clearly not a good idea. The ones who freak out over a wet diaper, even when it’s spilling what they’re drinking that caused it. The kids who prefer going “au naturel” and can’t wait to get it off so they can streak through the house. The truly bold who’ll throw a diaper at your head in the midst of a tantrum. You could have any of a number of children in those early years, but at least you know one thing—no matter what kind of kid you’ve got in diapers, Pampers has you covered!

For more than fifty years, parents have trusted Pampers, which undergo extensive testing with paediatricians, dermatologists and parents to meet the needs of their most important customers —the babies they’d give anything for. And that trust’s there for a good reason, too—as part of the Procter & Gamble company, Pampers stands as the #1 selling diaper worldwide, with more than 25 million babies across 100 countries wearing them every day.

As you probably know—they don’t just do diapers; with wipes and training pants as well, they have a number of products that’ll offer the comfort and protection your baby needs for every stage of their development. And right at the core of that development—no matter who your child is—is one solitary thing: sleep.

Your Sleep Doesn’t Have to be As Bad As It Is — a Look at the Pampers Baby Dry Diaper!

As the oldest of three boys, I often joke I wound up shortest because I traded sleep for productivity, but that’s not a mistake I want my sons to repeat, making sure they get as much sleep as possible each night. I’m sure the parents of all the newborns out there wish the same—but there’s something that might work against them: their babies’ skin.

Research shows that babies’ skin is sensitive. So sensitive, in fact, that it can sense wetness and react like an alarm clock, potentially waking your baby early from a peaceful sleep when they wet themselves overnight, and they will wet themselves. But Pampers Baby Dry diapers make sure that while other things might wake them up—shout out to the pots and pans you drop when you’re trying to do the dishes—their diapers won’t be one of them!

But How Does the Pampers Baby Dry Work?

Pampers Baby Dry diapers now contain the same Extra Absorb Channels you find in Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers, making them thinner and drier for superior overnight protection and comfort. (It also makes Pampers the only brand to offer this innovation across their entire diaper line!) They leverage Pampers‘ thick-to-thin technology to redistribute wetness evenly across those channels and lock it away to keep your baby even drier than before. They even have extra absorbent layers which keep your baby up to three times drier and give you both the rest you need for a new day ahead.

Well-researched and well-designed, they’re the perfect complement to the little people in our lives… why have them wear something that’ll distract them from all that discovery?

One Day We Won’t Need Diapers Anymore — ‘Til Then We Have Pampers!

This too shall pass—my boys won’t need Pampers‘ protection forever. They’ll find their own way to school. Learn to drive. Start careers and maybe start families of their own. I’ll need different tools at different points in their lives to support them as a father, but I’m glad that for now, I can gladly put Pampers on that list.

Good luck with the babies in your lives, and remember—the things that make parenting easier for you are often ones you should keep close at hand.

Pampers Baby Dry will do just that.

Until the next,

–case p.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post with the support of Pampers, who supplied product and compensation for these words. That said, all thoughts, opinions and experiences remain 100% my own—I hope you enjoyed it!

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CB4 - I'm Black Y'all - YouTube

It took a whole heap of work to make it, but we’re finally here—February 1, 2018, the start of another Black History Month, and with it another Tales from the 2.9!

Now it’s a slightly different world since we last met—there’s an undercurrent of unrest from our kin to the south as they deal with a leader who tends to tweet before he thinks. And on the other hand, we see Black Excellence manifest at levels we’ve never seen before with the blockbuster film Black Panther on the horizon, and Jordan Peele’s 2017 hit Get Out sitting pretty with four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director! In short, it’s starting to feel like it’s possible for Black people to have a voice in a time where it may be more important than ever to do so.

And up here in Canada, we might be a bit closer to making that happen!

Embed from Getty Images

Back when I named Tales from the 2.9 in 2016, it felt like it was meant to be. Being a leap year, February had 29 days, the most recent census put Black Canadians at 2.9% of the total population, and the name felt like something catchy enough to cut through all the noise bombarding social media these days.

But that was 2016.

That same year, we had our first census since 2011, and when Stats Canada released our ethnocultural diversity data on October 25, 2017, with it came some news—the 945,000 of us who made 2.9% of our 32.8 million population had swelled to 1.2 million of our now-34.5 million strong—a jump from 2.9% to 3.5%! Despite an era where we’re having smaller families and starting them later, we’re still a long way from dying out, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it!

That said, it also meant “Tales from the 2.9” didn’t ring as accurate as it did before. Which is why ’til the next census drops in 2021, I’d like to introduce you to Live from the 3.5—The Tales of the Black Canadian Experience.

Embed from Getty Images

And we’re kicking it up a notch this year! Two years of individual interviews was a good start, but our community’s so much more than the stories from any one of us. This year, we’re focusing on the themes that define our community instead of any individual tale. It’s more work. It’s highly ambitious. But if it means building the platform we need to share our stories without fear of diminishment or censorship, then I think it’s exactly what we need.

All that in mind, I’m going to work hard to make sure it’s not my voice alone you hear this month. With 1.2 million of us up here in the Frozen North, I’m continually searching for the voices that’ll bring truth for this year’s topics. I don’t expect it to be easy, but one of the most important things I probably ever learned from my Dad is this—if something’s worth it, you’d better be willing to fight for it.

And for the 3.5% of us trying to navigate our way through Canada… I’d say it’s worth it at the very least!

But that’s enough from me—let’s start 2018’s series with a piece from Kamshuka, who wants her fellow Black people to find their inner warriors and live fulfilled lives. Make sure to check her links out in the footer below!

Kamshuka, Author “Becoming Warrior”

Through many shades of melanin, my beautiful black people, we have come from so far. Although the struggle brought us much pain, much strength, our joy & laughter has made us rich in has who we are. The pain of the past was meant to cripple & break our souls & spirits, but we are soaked in resilience & created to rise again every time. Allow this pain to turn into fuel which will turn into the fire that burns your soul to live for a better day.

As a Warrior Queen myself I believe that we are living to make the days we are present in our best, turn the future into lily pads of elevated heights for our children to dwell on. It is true we don’t die, our passions, our memories of pain & our stories live on in the lives we choose to impact every day. They live on through the lives of children; they can be seen in the children of our communities & in the eyes of the children of the future. When we as a people begin to understand this about our resilience we can be better & do better for ourselves & our communities.

You, my black, beautiful soul, were created with great thought, dipped in gold, and soaked in the magic of excellence. And you may not see it right now or feel your sparkle, but please hear this warrior—out in this moment that regardless of the struggle and the journey your black beauty of every shade has made your presence relevant to this time in history. You, my black beauty, a vessel of honour that will live on, multiple in the hearts of our people & rise every time. Live full; Die Empty.

-Kamshuka

“To learn from yesterday, live for today & hope for tomorrow”

– Albert Einstein

Live from the 3.5 — It’s Black History Month; Let’s Do This!

So I hope you’re ready for one solid month ahead—we’re not about to tread lightly, and nor should we! These are our stories—let’s tell them!

Until tomorrow, I remain,

–case p.

Kamshuka is an author, International Keynote Speaker and Certified Life Coach. Recipient of the 2010 Aroni award for commitment to youth and entrepreneurship, winner of The 2014 Black Canadian Best Photographer Award. She uses her influence to inspire heart to heart conversations and create roundtable forums to communicate the importance of knowing who you are, to reach your true potential. She’s appeared on several local and global media outlets, and been recognized by her people in Uganda on the national network NTV as an Empowered Woman of Power. Kamshuka is passionate about bringing change and impact with her story as a War Child Survivor. Her passion’s driven by her story: An unconventional artist expressing her thoughts and interpreting life through her art and heart.

Check her out at her website, or on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!

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Many want to slow things down as they ease into the new year, but with Black History Month mere weeks away, we’re into full swing planning for the third annual Tales from the 2.9—Black Canadians Sharing Their Stories in a Digital Age.

After two years focusing on Black Canadian people, I’ve realised there’s a far bigger picture that needs exploring for the Black Canadian Experience, looking at the stories and ideas that shape our community in what promises to be the most thought-provoking series yet. If you’re interested in joining and giving your two cents, please check my ask out in the original pitch below! Any questions, feel free to hit me up at palmer.casey@gmail.com!

Hopefully, I’ll hear from you soon!

–case p.

Tales from the 2.9, Year Three — The Ask

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 wrapped up on a positive note, and that you’re well into the work to build the 2018 you’re looking for. If you don’t know me, I’m Casey Palmer—a Dad Blogger who runs Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad, working hard to illustrate my journey as a Black father of two to a world that doesn’t always get it. With January upon us, February’s hot on our heels, and for me that means I’m sourcing for my third annual Tales from the 2.9 project—something I do for Black History Month, featuring stories from Black Canadians, and featured in Metro, on CBC and in talks across the city. I’m hoping to make its third year better than ever—but I need your help.

What I need are stories. In the past couple of years, I’d always start with a questionnaire and focus on the individual—Benny the Banker, Serena the Sculptor—the same questions across the board to show how diverse we can be as people.

But our story’s bigger than that—there are broader themes to explore that do us more justice. A generation breaking ground in fields entirely different from the opportunities available to the generation before. Growing up Black in a world that’s definitely not. My goal is to put out a month of content that let us speak our truths, and I hope you’ll be game to join me in building something we can all be proud of!

I’m looking for submissions. Interviews. Vlogs, speeches and ideas—whatever helps get the ideas across.

If interested, feel free to either drop me a message here or send a high-resolution photo and your idea/submission to palmer.casey@gmail.com, and we’ll put something together.

I look forward to working with you!

Sincerely,

–Casey Palmer

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January 1st.

The time where many rest and recuperate from the holiday season, but for me, it’s the time of the year where I’m putting in work. Between my ambitious year-end wrap-ups (2700 words and counting…); the lists I prepare for the year ahead, and the work I put together for my Tales from the 2.9 Black History Month series, it’s not where you see me at my most relaxed, even with Christmas out of the way. Add a trip to Dad 2.018 and a couple of parenting keynotes in a month’s time, and I think there’ll be plenty to keep me occupied in the “slow season”.

Amador Loureiro

In some ways, I did it to myself. Whenever I explain how busy my life is to others, they’re often quick to point out it’s a problem of my creation, putting so much of myself and my time into a blog whose reins I’ve held ever firmly for the past seven years.

But that doesn’t mean I ever intended to do it alone. Even from day one, I sought collaborators out among my family and friends, thinking that things would be simpler if we pooled our resources instead of everyone trying to be top dog and stepping on each other’s toes as our brands grew. I kept trying to make partnerships happen for years, but it never came together.

Some of it was me and the ever-increasing demands in my life keeping me from developing yet another project. Or those who didn’t share my vision or stood convinced they were better off alone when the market was rife with opportunities. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that I have a mountain of work before me today, and as far as I can see right now, I’m the only one who can get it all done.

But I’m far from hopeless. Far from believing I’m the best suited to manage everything on my plate right now, but right now I’m all I’ve got. I’ve got blogs to write, contracts to sign, reports to compile and a brand to develop—what was once just a hobby is now enough to keep a team busy… and you know, maybe it should.

rawpixel.com

I’ve been working on a post—”My Quest to Become the Pirate King”, where I take a look at the group I need behind me to grow this brand to its potential. Styled after One Piece—the most popular manga in the history of the Japanese medium—it’s helping me define the roles and tasks I need to make this all work. There’ve been friends who’ve wanted to help, but I’ve never been able to articulate what I need help with.

But 2018’s going to start with a few good, hard looks at myself, and maybe it’ll help me help the answers I need.

Happy New Year, Everyone — Let’s Make 2018 One Heckuva Year!

I’ve spent year after year noting that the past year was the busiest I’d ever had. 2017 was the first year I’d even started with a plan. 2018’s the busiest I’ve ever started a year, but also one I’m excited to face head-on. It won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel everything I get up to in the year ahead will yield real results if I do them right, so I’m going to do my best to keep myself in good performance condition so I can do just that.

In short, a very happy new year to everyone. After much waffling, I’ve decided I’ll indeed give my 2017 the send-off it deserves and continue my tradition with a 2018 100—it might just take some time to get there. With seven pages double-sided yet to type with only about a quarter of 2017’s stories told… yeah. We’ll get there.

Nicolas Tissot

Happy New Year, one and all, and may 2018 give you everything you’re looking for! If you need me, I’ll be right here trying to make the most of mine.

One day down, 364 to go.

Until the next,

–case p.

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Okay, everyone, it’s not too late. I know you’re stressed out—there’s not enough time to buy all the gifts, bake all the treats, see all the people and wrap all the things… but we’re a species that’s all too good at overcomplicating stuff for ourselves.

Ladies and gents, I’m here to show you a better way.

TELUS Holiday Gift Guide — TELUS Connected Experience Store v2

It wasn’t so long ago that people just knew TELUS for its phones. They’ve always had more services out West, but it’s not like you’d think to give the gifts of a mobile plan when Christmas came along.

But things have changed. Now you have the TELUS Connected Experience Stores and plenty of offerings online from their many brand partners. It’s a brave new world my fellow last-minute shoppers, and TELUS might just be the ones to help save your Christmas!*

(*Perhaps your Christmas doesn’t need saving at all and you just like cool stuff. If that’s you, don’t worry—this post’s for you, too!)

The TELUS Holiday Gift Guide is Back to Help You Out!

This year brings back TELUS’ Holiday Gift Guide, showing you some of the coolest toys that you can see under the tree this Christmas! It’s built to help you find the gift that best fits your need, splitting them up by price, age and audience—let me show you a little of what it offers a Canadian Dad in the digital age!

Toys for My Three Kids — The Two I’m Raising and the Other One Inside!

So my boys are young. At 4 and 2, they’re not ready for tech that’s too complex, but I still expose them to toys and devices that make them think and explore different possibilities. Two toys that’re great for them are the Crayola Colour Alive 2.0 Colouring Book (MSRP $6.99 CAD) and the WowWee MiP AutoBalancing Robot (MSRP $109.99 CAD).

Toys for Tots The Crayola Colour Alive 2.0 Colouring Book

You know you’re old when even colouring books have apps.

When I was my kids’ age, colouring books were what your parents got at the dollar store to keep you quiet when you went out. I remember the brittle yellowed paper and crayons that’d snap with the faintest pressure—nothing worth turning into an animation with a smartphone.

But that’s what Crayola’s Colour Alive 2.0 colouring books do—you colour a page in, and with a scan in the app, you get a cut scene to enjoy, encouraging you to keep on colouring to see even more. I’ve seen far too many toys that my kids use only once before moving on to the next thing, so it’s good to see one with so much potential for re-use!

WowWee MiP AutoBalancing Robot

Speaking of re-use, the WowWee MiP AutoBalancing Robot is a clever little device, combining balance, automation and remote navigation into a toy that’ll keep things interesting as you control it from your smartphone! It responds to hand gestures. It can carry its own weight. Seems like the only thing a MiP can’t do is cook you breakfast, but hey—maybe WowWee will make it happen in a future update!

Check it out in action at a TELUS Connected Experience Store!

Older Kids

They say “bigger kids, bigger problems,” and that’s true here, too—as your kids grow older, they simply won’t be entertained by the same stuff that worked when they were little. But kids today are lucky—our present’s finally catching up to our future! Let me tell you about the Merge VR 360 Goggles (MSRP $79.99 CAD), Merge Cube (MSRP $29.99 CAD), and the Happy Plugs In-Ear Headphones (MSRP $29.99 CAD)—a tech trio that’ll change the way you interact with the digital world!

Step Into a World

This stuff’s basically straight outta Star Trek, y’all.

I grew up in a time where you played your video games at home. If you wanted to learn something, you cracked an encyclopedia open in the library’s reference section and read. There was a clear division between we consumers of information and the place we consumed it from, but fast forward a few decades and Merge VR tells a very different story.

We’ve seen a number of headsets come out with the rise of virtual reality, but they’re not always that comfy. Maybe they don’t line up with your eyes, maybe they chafe your face. VR’s always sounded interesting, but you’re not going to use a headset regularly if it sucks to wear!

I think Merge VR’s looking to solve a lot of that.

The Merge VR 360 Goggles

The Merge VR 360 Goggles are designed to wear and share. They’re comfy, they’re easy to clean, and have hundreds of apps by big-name studios and talented indie developers alike so you can meet whatever tastes you have for content.

But while you can take just about any phone and pop it into a pair of Merge VR 360 Goggles for a fun experience, the Merge Cube helps take it to an entirely new level.

The Merge Cube

The Merge Cube can be used with a phone, but when paired with a set of Merge VR 360 Goggles, it makes for a mixed and augmented reality experience that’s one of a kind!

Imagine playing world-building games in the palm of your hand. Or exploring the Earth. There are games, puzzles and educational tools brought into a three-dimensional space so you can really interact with your media without relying on your TV or computer. It’s for kids aged 10+, so I don’t see my kids getting on it anytime soon, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get into virtual reality, Merge VR is what’s up.

Happy Plugs In-Ear Headphones

But can you truly immerse yourself in a virtual space with a world of distractions around you? I think not—preteens and teens alike are in constant search of their own space, and combining Merge VR tech with Happy Plugs In-Ear Headphones is one possible way to give it to them! Happy Plugs are a dope way to deliver big sound to young hungry ears. Features include:

  • drivers designed to deliver premium sound
  • a built-in mic and remote so you can take that call from your parents when you need to (because we all know you don’t call friends—you message!)
  • extra silicone ear tips to fit all sizes or ears
  • fashionable designs to match whatever your style and mood might be
  • and of course, it’s compatible with any device with a 3.5″ headphone jack so you can keep jamming wherever the tunes take you

Step into a world unlike any you’ve probably experienced before and augment your reality!

My Inner Child

And that leaves me. There are toys my boys can play with—like a Google Home Mini—but they’re too young to really take advantage of their full functionality. But that’s why they’ve got me—a Dad who likes keeping on top of the latest tech and figuring out how it weaves into his family life. This is mind, the gang at TELUS sent over a Google Home Mini (MSRP $79.99 CAD) and a Canon Selphy Compact Photo Printer (MSRP $149.99) to take for a whirl!

Google Home Mini

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Grown-ups need love, too!

As we close in on Christmas, it becomes blindingly obvious there’re two classes of shoppers during the holiday season—the ones who know exactly what they’re getting for every person on their list… and the ones who keep it all ’til the last minute, ‘cuz they’ve no idea what they’re getting!

You might think it too late in the season to be looking at gift guides, but I know we’ve all been the victim of a poorly planned gift at least once. The kind of gift where it’s clear the giver didn’t really think about you—merely crossing another name off their list so they can pat themselves on the back.

But if you’re not putting any effort into it, why give a gift at all? Christmas isn’t about presents, right? It’s about family. Quality time. Going to church one of the few times many of y’all make it there. (I see you!)

I think you get the picture.

All that said, there’ll always be some grown-ups in your life to shower with gifts. Parents. Spouses. Maybe some teachers or a chiropractor. (They might be really good at what they do!) No matter who’s on your list, here are a few gifts I hand-picked for the occasion!

(And with it being so close to Christmas, here are the direct links so you can get what you need with the quickness!)

Google Home & Google Home Mini
The Google Pixel 2/Google Pixel 2 XL
Google Chromecast
The Brewscovery Box
Philips Sonicare 9300 DiamondClean Smart
Altec Lansing Mini H2O 3
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom
GoPro Hero 6
Küssi Stampede Classic 6-Piece Knife Set
Ice Evo Tweezers — Elegance
Ice Glass Foot File — Foot Care Pedicure — Lavender
Nespresso Vertuo Single-Serve Coffee Maker

Google

It’s gotta blow your mind that twenty years ago, Google was just a search engine that helped you find stuff. No YouTube, no email—just a page that linked to other pages… and that’s it.

Had you told me back then that it’d grow to spend a dozen years soaring up the Fortune 500, not only would I think you mad… I’d also take the entirety of my pay from working for my Dad and let it ride on Alphabet stock!

But I digress.

Many aren’t aware that Google has a store now, where you can buy just about any Google product that you’re still probably buying somewhere else!

And there’s plenty they have to offer—let’s take a little look at what Google… has in store.

1) Google Home & 2) Google Home Mini

Let me start this with a disclaimer—with Google Home, your child’s first word just might be “Google.”

I may have unintentionally created monsters.

It all started well enough—after introducing Google Home to our lives earlier this year, I immediately set it up to make some things easier:

  • Connecting it to Spotify so I could listen to my songs and playlists
  • Hooking up our Philips Hue Bulbs in the front and our TP-Link Smart Bulb in the back
  • Connecting it to our Chromecast so we could watch YouTube on the big screen (a whole whopping 32″, but hey, who’s counting?)
  • And finally, getting our Belkin WeMo Insight up and running so I could turn all the tech at my desk on and off with ease!

And even though Sarah and I found it useful—it can also play the radio, call your friends and do all sorts of nifty things—our son figured it out pretty quickly, too. Playing The Wiggles when he wanted a chance to party. Changing our lights’ colours to match each holiday. He learned how to get Google Home to do what he wanted… and so did his little brother.

See, he heard his brother say “Hey Google” so many times, he eventually caught on that to see the horse videos on YouTube that he’s obsessed with, all he had to do was lead me by the hand, point to the Google Home and say—”Googuh. Hoasie.”

Google HomeAnd the new Google Home Mini. Changing the way we entertain.

3) Google Pixel 2/Google Pixel 2 XL

I’m not about to repeat everything I said in my Google Pixel 2 XL review all over again, but I don’t think you fully understand how dope this phone is.

In the weeks I’ve used it, the Pixel 2 XL’s proven essential to elevating how I do things. Sharper pictures. Faster speed. I really underestimated how much of a difference a flagship phone could make in my life, and I’m sure it could do the same in yours!

You can check it out today at TELUS!

4) Google Chromecast

Most Toronto homes don’t exactly come overflowing with storage space. We’ve got 950 square feet to work with in our east end bungalow, and every cubic foot counts! So when we bought our first-generation Google Chromecast, many of our old DVDs and CDs were the first things to go. And the second-generation Google Chromecast does its job even better with improved design, faster Wi-Fi, and antennas that adapt to your home’s wireless situation!

With Google’s constant improvements to the Chromecast (with even more movies, apps and games expected in the future), you can expect streaming and casting devices like these to be centrepieces of many homes sooner than later! You can pick one up at STAPLES!

The Brew Box Co. 5) The Brewscovery Club

It’s been a few months since I reviewed my first Brewscovery Club box full of delicious summer beers, but they’re back again with their winter selection to show what they can offer the budding cerevisaphile in your life!

To refresh your memory, the Brew Box Co. offers a selection of local craft beers each month, shipping them directly to your home. You never know what you’re gonna get, but

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