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I don’t get out much. In fact, I generally take one trip a year to wherever the Dad 2.0 Summit happens to be. I’m not a huge fan of flying but I tolerate it because it sure beats driving 4 days to get from point A to point B. That said, something happened on my latest flight that I feel I need to talk about, even though it is potentially embarrassing. I mean, transparency is the deal I made to you all when I started this blog, right?

Let me set it up by saying that I have been battling illness since Christmas and going into my trip to New Orleans for the conference, I was feeling pretty drained. I got through the first couple days with no issues but the night before I was set to leave, I was up all night, even having to find a pharmacy at 2am to grab some meds to help me sleep.

Some other things you need to know about me. I am incapable of napping. It’s true that while most people, especially parents, can lie down and pass out in seconds, I have never been able to have a nap regardless of how tired I might be. Oh, and this is important, I’ve been told by multiple sources that I snore, even though I have firmly denied this claim as fake news.

I was all set to come home on Sunday afternoon when we hit a bit of a snag. Our already delayed Delta flight out of Detroit had landing gear issues after taking off and had to return to the airport. This was stressful enough and then we found out that we wouldn’t be able to leave again until around 3:00am. For someone who was not feeling the greatest, this was not the news I wanted to hear. As much as I tried to get comfortable in the terminal, it just wasn’t happening.

When we finally boarded the plane again, I must have passed out right away in my seat because I was woken up by the gentleman in the seat next to me. He mentioned that I was snoring VERY loudly and just wanted to make sure I was aware. I looked around, stunned, and saw the smirks on a couple passengers faces. Instead of being mortified, as you might imagine, I laughed it off and made sure to keep my eyes wide open the rest of the flight.

I only wish I was able to channel whatever it was that allowed me to nap on this occasion so I could use that for future nap attempts… I’m sure it had nothing to do with it being 3am and having been awake almost 24 hours.

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Letting go of things is hard for me, but with the help of my kids I’m learning. My son is a fairly athletic kid. He actually reminds me a lot of myself at his age. Good at everything but not quite a superstar at anything, yet. It’s a good spot to be in.

He plays house league hockey and has been having a lot of fun, which is the point, right? I used to sign him up for extra skating sessions and camps but this season he told me he doesn’t want to do any of the extra stuff because he doesn’t enjoy it. He said he still loves hockey, just not the extra things.

Although I fought him on it a little bit, I ultimately respected his wishes and stopped booking extra stuff. I guess I just see that he has so much potential and want him to be able to unleash it as he grows. The thing is, he’s happier without it, and it took me until this season to realize that that’s enough. In fact, that’s everything.

All smiles with his MVP award!

I didn’t get picked as a coach this year, so I get to watch from the stands. I find myself holding my breath with anticipation of my son’s next turn on the ice. He works so hard out there and makes me proud every single shift. I’m serious, between his work on the ice and his sister’s in the gym, I’m ashamed of the amount of time I waste in my daily life.

The point here being, we all want our kids to be the best at the things they choose to love, but it needs to be on their terms. We stopped doing the extra ice times and yet he is still excelling because he loves the sport and works his tail off. Sure, it took me a while to figure it all out but I’ve arrived at the point of acceptance and it has been a fun ride watching him smile out there!

I’m never more proud than when other parents come up to me after a game to let me know that they think my son played great. If only he was this enthusiastic about his homework…

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Throughout the years, I have gone from a competitive athlete to a good rec league player, and now find myself doing very little physical activity paired with a diet that is almost too embarrassing to talk about. Between shift work, kids’ activities and a busy extra-curricular schedule, there are a lot of factors I could blame this drop on, but the truth is that it is almost 100% laziness on my part and that’s something I have resolved to work on in 2018.

It wasn’t until recently that I really started feeling the effects of what I’ve done to my body over the years. Extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, sore muscles even with no activity. It has been a strain on my life and has been affecting my time with my family. Even with the threat of type 2 diabetes creeping in, I have still managed to let things go way too far. I’m guessing those suffering from the disease would give me a good slap, especially considering approximately one in two people with type 2 diabetes will die of heart disease (which includes heart attack, heart failure and stroke). According to new research, almost half of Canadians, myself included, were unaware of this connection and therefore their risk.

Let’s do this, more as an exercise to scare myself into shape, but also so that you can understand just how serious type 2 diabetes can be. Here are just a few of the stats I read about on the website My Heart Matters, and only as it pertains to the link between diabetes and heart health.

– People with type 2 diabetes can also experience heart problems such as heart attack and heart failure.
Studies show that people with diabetes may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than people without diabetes, but only 50 per cent of Canadians with type 2 diabetes are aware of this fact.
47% of Canadians with type 2 diabetes believe there are no medications that control blood sugar levels and heart disease, while there are diabetes treatments that can reduce the risk of having a heart-related event or dying from heart disease.
While controlling blood sugar is important in managing diabetes, it may not be enough to protect the heart. The good news is that recent advances have been made in managing the risk of death from heart disease in people with diabetes.
People with diabetes are over three times more likely to be hospitalized for heart health problems than people without diabetes.
While 96 per cent of Canadians with type 2 diabetes see their doctor at least once a year, many are not having conversations about their risk of heart disease.
Only 38 per cent of Canadians with diabetes are aware that heart disease is the number one cause of death for those with diabetes.

Every one of those is a sobering fact and my hope is that it’s enough to get me moving before I have to start really worrying about it. Knowing that type 2 diabetes is something that can be avoided is definitely a motivating factor and while I likely won’t document my entire journey to health, I can guarantee that it will be taking place.

For those already dealing with type 2 diabetes, when they understand the risks that come with diabetes they are better positioned to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of heart disease. Canadians living with diabetes have plans for the future, which include improving their health & lifestyle (73 per cent); travelling & exploring (61 per cent) and spending more time with children or grandchildren (36 per cent), so it’s critical that they speak with their doctor about steps they can take to help manage their risk of heart disease.

You can read more about the links between type 2 diabetes and heart disease by visiting the My Heart Matters website and taking a simple assessment to learn your risk of type 2 diabetes-related heart disease. It may be uncomfortable for you, but it’s far better than the alternative for ignoring it.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by an alliance of two of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies . I was compensated for my time in writing about this important topic.

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I can still vividly remember the high school gym class where I suffered my first, and only, major injury. We were learning to play rugby, a bad idea to begin with, when I took a hit in the back from one of the rougher kids in the school. He fell on my knee and I felt a distinct popping sound, only to find out later that day that I had torn ligaments in my knee.

It was an especially bad time for this particular injury as I had worked my way into the 2nd of 4 tryouts for the Team Ontario fastball team, with a chance to tryout for Team Canada if you made it. I’m under no delusion that I would have made Team Canada but the option was most definitely gone now.

What I remember most about this time was how I started feeling sorry for myself. I stopped rehabbing as hard as I could and spent a lot of time sulking around while my friends and teammates had another championship season. Because they felt bad, I received an invite to the final Team Ontario camp the following year but by that point I had already given up on myself.

I tell this story because last week my daughter broke her arm while training at gymnastics and it felt very similar to my story, with one minor difference. She’s been training 20 hours a week at the gym for the last year and was to have her first competition this coming week, so the timing couldn’t have been worse. We were devastated for her because she works so incredibly hard, as do all the girls, and we weren’t sure how she was going react to not being able to compete. If I’m being completely honest, we were also sad that we wouldn’t get to see all her hard work pay off in competition.

The difference between my story and my daughter’s is the way she has handled everything so far. While there have been a couple moments of frustration at not being able to do something she was used to doing, she has generally been all smiles and remained our happy little warrior. In fact, one week after the break she was back at the gym on her regular schedule, with a modified workload from her coach. We were nervous about letting her go back so soon but she begged and the doctor said it was fine, so we caved.

I have never been more proud of her than when a man approached me at practice on her first day back and asked if that was my daughter out there training with a cast in a sling. When I replied yes, he congratulated me on raising such a tough daughter and it opened my eyes to just how strong she is, both physically and mentally. Her love for this gym and motivation to be great at this sport is something that I carry with me every day.

She may not have gotten this strength from me but I am learning a lot about toughness from watching her, not just through this, but in general with the way she carries herself. She is absolutely a poster child for the fact that strength comes in all sizes.

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Happy New Year!! After a much needed break from the internet, I am happy to be back for another amazing year of writing, videos and hijinx!! First things first though, I wanted to help you get your new year off on the right foot by bringing you a number of different giveaways on my various social channels!

Thanks to my friends at Rogers, I have a pile of goodies to share with all of you and I can’t wait to give it all away! I’m starting things off right here with the biggest of the prizes by giving away the Huawei P10 smartphone and accessory kit, courtesy of Huawei Mobile Canada!! That’s right, you didn’t get that new phone you were hoping for this Christmas? No worries, Rogers and I have you covered!

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll be bringing home with you as the winner of the giveaway! I’d love to take the credit for this but it is all Rogers and Huawei Mobile Canada’s doing, so be sure to thank them!

All you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the Rafflecopter options as you’d like and I’ll select a winner in a couple weeks! The giveaway is open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec. Good luck and all the best in 2018!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

If you don’t have a plan to keep your health on track this holiday season, you’re not alone! Busy holiday schedules can make it feel almost impossible to maintain even the simplest healthy routines.

Try keeping a simple list of your top health goals for the winter. Make sure to write it down on paper where you and your whole family can see it and track their progress. Start with simple goals- achieving something small can give you the boost you need to stay motivated! Need some goal inspo? Keep reading for my top 5 healthy holiday goals.

My Healthy Holiday Action Plan Goals:

1. Try a winter-friendly workout

• Why not beat the winter exercise slump with a new workout tailored to the colder temperatures? If you’re someone who typically gets active outside, try an indoor activity like aqua aerobics, indoor rock climbing or an indoor group exercise class. Challenge yourself to find one new workout a month, or list your top three and cross them off once you’ve given them a try!
• Don’t be too hard on yourself if a cold temporarily puts a wrench in your workout goals. Just make sure you get back on track once you’re rested and recuperated. If lingering nasal congestion is an obstacle, try a nasal saline-spray to clear your sinuses. hydraSense® Daily Nasal Care products are100% naturally-sourced seawater that is clinically proven to reduce and relieve your nasal cold symptoms. hydraSense® Daily Nasal Care products can be used alongside your other oral cough and cold medications.

2. Focus on fruit

• Ok, this one should be on everyone’s list this winter! Farmers’ markets and apple picking orchards may be closed, but that’s no excuse to cut back on those l vitamin-packed fruits. Eating a variety of fruits is fun, so why not challenge yourself to eat the rainbow?
• Frozen fruits are an easy-option if you struggle to keep fresh in the house, but make sure to check for added sugars. While it’s easy to track your own fruit intake, it can be harder with kids. Not sure if your little ones are finishing their apples and getting their vitamins? Try supplementing with FLINTSTONES® multivitamins. You’ll love that they’re the #1 brand choice of pediatricians. They’ll love that they come in delicious chewables or gummies!

3. Drink more water

• You know water is important, but it can be harder to remember in the winter when you’re not feeling hot and sweaty. There are many great apps out there these days to help you log your water intake. If you’re looking for something with a fun twist, try Plant Nanny. When you drink water, you help an adorable plant friend grow!
• Don’t let this one drop when you’re not feeling well. Getting enough liquids is especially important when you’re sick. Try adding a vitamin-C tablet to your water. Redoxon® Tablets give you ten oranges worth of Vitamin C*, which should motivate anyone to drink up!

* Redoxon® is not meant to replace food.

4. Schedule your sleep

• Bedtimes aren’t just for kids. The best way to get your sleep back on schedule is to pick a consistent time to hit the pillow. Write it down so you can track how often you’re making it to bed on-time. If you’re consistently going to bed too late, think critically about what’s making you miss the mark.
• One of the major bedtime derailers is your cellphone, so limit screen time one hour before sleep.

How will you challenge yourself and your family to take on healthy goals this winter?

This post is sponsored by Bayer. To make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

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Like almost every kid out there, my children love building with LEGO! Over the years, our building habits have evolved from simply putting together the sets from the instructions, to creating whatever pops in to our heads, but the constant is that LEGO keeps us busy and creative for hours at a time.

With my son taking part in the Coding Club at his school, something I am constantly jealous of, I was excited to hear about LEGO’s newest product, LEGO Boost! Boost is a 5-in-1 model that introduces building and coding in one super-charged LEGO set, letting children add sound, movement and personality to their LEGO creations, bringing to life anything they can imagine! The LEGO BOOST Toolkit recently arrived on our doorstep and the kids were very excited to start their #BUILDwithBOOST adventure!

You can choose to build any of the 5 models, including Frankie the Cat, Guitar4000 and the M.T.R.4. We choose to start with Vernie the Robot as he seemed like a ton of fun! The kids and I had different ideas about how to start our new project, with them wanting to dump all 11 bags out at once, while I wanted a more level-headed and dadly approach. Needless to say, dad won that round!

After that, we downloaded the free LEGO Boost app and got started on building Vernie! Before we continue, please note that a tablet running iOS 10.3 and newer/Android 5.0 or above is required to build and play with LEGO® Boost™, so make sure your device is compatible by visiting LEGO.com/DeviceCheck before purchasing.

The app was amazing and very easy for the kids to follow along with. Full disclosure here, with 832 pieces, dad helped a little with the building as the kids were so excited to start giving commands to their creation. Plus, I am a giant child, so the opportunity to build with LEGO is still an exciting prospect for me…

Once Vernie the Robot was complete, the real full began! First things first, the kids absolutely fought over who would get to test him out first, which was ultimately decided by a rousing game of rock, paper, scissors. I was amazed watching as my kids used the LEGO Boost app to learn how to code on the spot and they had Vernie doing all sorts of tricks within a matter of minutes.

For the last week now, the first thing the kids want to do when they wake up and then get home from school is to play with their new robot friend. I’m usually careful about how much screen time they are getting but I can’t complain about it when they are teaching themselves how to code while also having a blast with their LEGO. Next up for us will be checking out the incredible BOOST BOTS series on YouTube, where we’ll be able to see what is possible with LEGO BOOST for those of us who like to put away the instruction manuals!

I honestly can’t say enough good things about LEGO Boost and if your kids are into LEGO, or coding, this would make the perfect gift for them! And because I believe in this product so much, I want to put a LEGO Boost in your home this holiday season! Feel free to fill out as many Rafflecopter entries below as you’d like and I’ll be giving away a LEGO Boost kit to one lucky reader!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: We received a LEGO Boost kit to facilitate this post, however it really is one of the best toys we’ve ever played with!

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Finally, my favourite time of year has arrived! Fall! That’s right, I said it! As much as I love the Summertime, sometimes it can get a little too hot for my liking, whereas Fall is exactly where I want to be. I like to think of myself as Goldilocks and Fall as the perfect bowl of porridge.

Sure, the end of summer means that baseball season is over and the swimming pool has to close, but there are plenty of indoor facilities available in case we need to get our fix of baseball and swimming. What I love most about fall is the ability to get outside and active with my kids, without feeling like I’m going to pass out from the heat.

With that said, my friends at Kamik sent us some new boots to test while we take part in a few of our favourite fall activities, which I have chronicled below. Please feel free to share some of your favourite outdoor activities in the comments section!

Sports – The one constant in our lives, outside of taxes, is sports. In fact, I’m not sure a day has gone by in the last 2-3 years where we didn’t take part in at least one sporting activity, whether it be organized or otherwise. There’s something inherently Canadian about dragging the hockey nets down to the road on a chilly Fall day, and hearing the shouts of, “CAR!”, as we lose track of time in a big game of road hockey.

We may throw our coats on top of the net because we get so hot from all the running around but there’s no replacement for a solid pair of warm boots to keep us moving comfortably. On top of that, if you’ve ever taken a slap shot in the foot with one of those frozen orange balls, you’d know why I loved playing a little roads in my new Kamik’s.

Nature Walks – As mentioned in the previous list item, I’m not a huge fan of the heat that comes with summer. The minute the weather starts to turn is when I break out my warm clothes and start wanting to go for more family walks. We are lucky enough to live in an area with some great trails and even in the tougher terrain, the Kamik’s lived up to the hype.

Geocaching – This one is a newer fad for us. After hearing about it for a year or so, I decided to look up exactly what geocaching was and man, do I wish I had discovered it sooner. For those of you who have never done it, geocaching is like a giant treasure hunt in your own city! We downloaded the app and it leads you to different areas to look for a hidden treasure. Along the way, it gives you different clues to help you find it and it is so much fun to do as a family.

Now, some of the caches were harder than others and we weren’t always successful, but the thrill of the hunt and the excitement on the kids’ faces was totally worth the time investment. Also, don’t go into it expecting to strike it rich or anything, as most of the treasures were small things such as stickers or pencils, but it was still a blast!

There are so many more activities we take part in throughout the fall and winter, and I will be working with Kamik over the course of the next few months to see if their boots are up to the test that our long, cold winter season brings. So far, they have easily passed every test we have thrown their way and I can’t wait to start seeing that snow on the ground! I know, I’m a monster.

Disclosure: My family members were provided Kamik boots for participating in this campaign.

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Let me tell you a little story. Two summers ago, while picking my kids up during the last week of school, we decided to stay at the school park for a bit. When I returned to my vehicle I noticed a huge dent in my van door and scratches all the way down the side of it. In the school parking lot! There was no note left on the windshield and no witnesses, so I spent the last few days of the school year acting like Sherlock Holmes at each day’s pick-up, to no avail.

I then spent months dealing with multiple people from my insurance company over the phone and through email to try and get everything resolved, which was frustrating and archaic. Only recently did I find out that steps were missed in the process, causing more headaches for my family in the form of a collections notice for something that should have already been dealt with. Needless to say, we are moving on from that group because everything always seemed so complicated.

After doing our research, we landed on Esurance as the best option for us moving forward and were excited to see that they now offer home and auto insurance in Ontario! I was impressed with the way Esurance leverages technology to create a more streamlined and simple experience. I’m also a huge fan of the fact that you can manage your policy and claims right on their website, which is something I couldn’t do, you know, before.

It’s not even that I don’t like talking on the phone, it’s just nice to have the option to take care of the little things to do with my policy on my own time. For instance, Esurance offers a DIY Home Inspection app that enables me to self-inspect my home for further discounts. We’re all just looking for the best value for our money and the way Esurance uses technology seems to be the way of the future when it comes to creating savings.

We’re definitely going to try it out for a bit and I’ll report back with my experience. That said, an insurance review is tricky because my hope is that I won’t have to report anything to you, other than the extra dollars in my bank account! You can head over to Esurance.ca for more information and also to get some great tips and tricks on the Esurance blog!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this program, however I am looking forward to seeing what Esurance can do for my family.

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Our daughter has never really been interested in toys. Of course, we still bought her all the toys and then watched as they mostly went ignored and un-played with. It makes sense considering she spends 20 hours a week in competitive gymnastics, which leaves little time for toys. The one exception to this rule, however, is when it comes to her Maplelea Girls dolls.

She takes her Maplelea dolls, Taryn and Alexi, everywhere she goes and I often wonder whether she is a better parent to them than we are to her and her brother… I kid, of course, but she really, really loves playing with her dolls and I absolutely love hearing the imaginative things she comes up with for them. We even held a big birthday party for Taryn last year, with restaurant singing and all! Check it out!

You Want Me To Sing Happy Birthday To A Doll?? - YouTube

Honestly, how great was Lonestar for playing along and making our daughter’s night there? Just awesome! As you can see, the love for her Maplelea Girls is very real and we couldn’t be happier that she has something in her life that fosters this kind of creativity. I do have to admit being a little bit jealous though, as Taryn and Alexi have way more clothes than I do…but that’s a story for another time!

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to give the gift of a Maplegirls Girls doll to one of you, to help make your child’s day a little brighter! All you have to do to enter is fill out as many of the Rafflecopter entries you feel like and I’ll choose a winner in a couple weeks. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Maplelea sent my daughter a new doll (Alexi) in exchange for our participation in this giveaway, which scored me a huge amount of dad cred!

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