Thursday, June 23, 2016

Follow-up Interview with UBT Celebrity Dad: Rick Campenelli

At UBT June is all about Dads! We had the opportunity to chat with Rick Campanelli, on his last day of parental leave. He talked to us about his decision to take four months off work to spend with his family and how he will balance it all when dealing with a work schedule, that's now busier than ever.

UBT: So, today is your last day on parental leave. How does it feel?
RC: Yes, it's my last day and it has been such a joy. I have loved every minute of it. This is the first time I have done this. I have three boys now. With Noah and Jack, I took a few weeks off each time. But I realized I am getting older and wanted to be there to help my wife, Angie. And then I just wanted to do it for myself as well, just to be with my kids and with my wife. It was the best decision I have ever made. I would have taken the maximum amount of time, but I am joining a radio morning show in Toronto on the 27th and they wanted me to start, like yesterday.

UBT: Taking time off work is becoming more popular for dads, but it can be a tough decision for many. Tell us about how you decided to take parental leave with a career in the spotlight.
RC: I talked to my wife about it and we decided it was probably the best thing that we can do right now for our family. I am 46. I don’t have as much energy as I did eleven years ago, when Noah was born. It was a no-brainer. It just made sense for us and it was the perfect time to do it. Everyone has been so supportive.

UBT: And how do you feel about going back to work?
RC: It is exciting, to get back to work, but it is also terrifying at the same time, because it will be a totally different routine now and I will very rarely see my family. That saddens me. I get teary-eyed because I will have to leave the house around 4:30 am and I won’t be getting back home until around 6pm. No longer able to do all those things that I have been doing for the past four months with my wife and boys. I really am going to miss it.

UBT: Do you think your experience on parental leave will change your perspective on things, when you do get back to work?
RC: I have always been a family-first, type guy. My family is my priority. Work is important and I am going to get my work done, but my family comes first. I know I will always be thinking about them when I am away, because it has been so amazing to be with them and bond with them. And I want to spend as much time with my family as possible. It’s going to be totally different now so that’s going to be a major change. My attitude toward “family first” is getting stronger, as I have more kids.

UBT: What would you say to men who might be considering parental leave?
RC: If new dads are considering it, I suggest doing it. My advice is to just take some time to be with your wife and your newborn. You really do see the growth. Harrison is four months today, and I have already seen so many changes. I wouldn’t have been able to witness and observe these changes if I was at work. He is smiling and laughing as I interact with him. It is so beautiful. I would have missed out on all that. And then having a two-year-old at home as well has enabled me to bond with him every day, and our relationship is getting stronger. We go out for bike rides every morning - just the two of us. And it’s just so wonderful. So, if guys are considering it, I say: Go for it! You’ll never get these moments - those precious moments - back.

Read our past Celebrity Dad interview with Rick 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vancouver Aquarium's Newest Exhibit the Discover Rays Touch Pool

If you or your kids love the ocean and it's extraordinary marine life, then you must visit the latest exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium this summer. The Discover Rays Touch Pool was an experience was worth waiting for.

For a month Jacob and I were eagerly waiting to go to the aquarium to visit the Discover Rays Touch Pool by marking our calendars and counting down the days.


Finally the day came, full of excitement we went to the aquarium just in time for the first showing. As my sister and my 8 month-old nephew, Javed, parked the stroller, Jacob and I anxiously waited in line to enter the exhibit. Before entering there was an Aquarium staff member greeting us and informing us on how to interact with the rays. (FYI, strollers are not permitted in the viewing area and children are required to walk or be carried).

Inside there was a cleaning station to wash your hands. After washing our hands and rolling up our sleeves, we went to find a spot. The spot we found was worth the wait. Jacob lay, tummy down, flat on a platform while I stood next to him. We held our hands in the water, waiting for the rays as they glided by.

"I want to touch a big one!" Jacob said with excitement.
"How do they feel?"  I asked.
"Soft and slippery!"

The exhibit has a 50,000L pool, which features two species of rays: Cownose and Southern stingrays. The Cownose stingrays seemed to be more curious as they sometime came into investigate or linger around certain area. One came right up to Jacob hand and bumped him with it's cownose. Talk about close encounter! The Vancouver Aquarium did promise an up-close and personal experience and it certainly was.



The exhibit wall's are full of pictures and vast information on both Cownose and Southern stingrays, along with others species. It also highlights that these "Angels of the Ocean" are skyrocketing towards extinction due to over fishing and human activities.

Before leaving we asked Jacob what was your favourite part of the Discover Rays Touch Pool. He replied, "touching the rays and seeing the teeth because they were flat and used for munching."

The Discover Rays Touch Pool admission is included into the price of entrance and will be it's home for next two years. So if can't make it out for the summer, you still have a lot of time. For more information on the Discover Rays Touch Pool visit, www.vanaqua.org/experience/exhibits-and-galleries/discover-rays

Saturday, June 18, 2016

UBT Guest Interview: Tony Morrow of The Average Father

Urbanbaby and Toddler recently had a chance to talk with Tony Morrow about his website The Average Father and life as a busy dad of two.

1. What is the best part about being a Dad?
To see little versions of you grow up day by day.  To be part of my children’s development, and helping to shape who they are is an amazing experience. The curveball and surprises they throw me daily are awesome. It keeps me on my toes, which is an exciting way to live.

2. Why do you think it’s important for Dads to have a resource like TheAverageFather.com?
There is a lack of good content and material out there to coach Dads on the art of Fatherhood.  There are so many ways to be a good Father, but most of us only know the example set by our own Dads. TheAverageFather.com allows men to educate themselves on the different tools, techniques, tricks and tips on how they can be the best father they can be.

3. What is your background?  Why did you decide to be the voice for “Dads in BC”?
I’m a child of a divorced family.  Both of my parents have remarried and I’ve lived the experience, both negative and positive, on how divorce in a family affects children. When compared to peers of mine who grew up in stable homes, the majority of stable households provided better outcomes for their children. This is particularly pronounced when these children start their own families later in life.  When I got married, I was dedicated to the fact that I was going to provide a stable and supportive environment for my kids.  An environment where I would be a dedicated and diligent Dad who invested in my kids and my family. There is a cultural shift occurring in the western world where fathers are participating more and more in their children’s lives. Not simply a Canadian or BC issue, Fatherhood is an issue for men worldwide, and one that I am invested to be leading.

4. If a Dad is struggling with embracing Fatherhood, what are some tips and advice you would give him?
Men are naturally at a disadvantage when it comes to connecting with our kids when compared with Mom. We don’t have 9 months to bond as the baby grows inside us. Birth is in many ways biologically and culturally a foreign experience for men. We are often awkward in our attempts to participate in the nuts and bolts of parenting in the first few months. Add to this the lack of paid leave for men as a standard in the western world, and the cultural expectation of many corporate cultures that in order to succeed you need to put the needs of your employer first. Instead of trying, and routinely failing at the daily routine of infant care, it is understandable that men might revert back to what they know and can succeed at in their professional lives. After all, this does provide key support for the family (Financial), and is historically and culturally reinforced.

The mistake in this is in assuming Mom is more an expert at childcare than Dad. Despite the advantages of pregnancy and birth when comes to fostering the bond with your child, Men are just as capable of connecting with their kids. The key to success in this is knowing and accepting the fact that you are going to make some spectacular mistakes, become comfortable with this idea and then get over it. Treat being a Father as the most important career in your life, because it is.  It is one where you will be continually learning and improving. You’ll likely be drinking from the firehose in the first few months, but it will continue to get easier every day. Fatherhood is WORK, and you need to work at it. So pull up your sleeves, get those “big boy” pants on and buckle down at being the best Dad you can be.

5) In Canada, couples are lucky to be able to split Maternity leave once their baby is born.  What resources/information is available to new Dads who are considering taking time off from work once baby is born?
First – Don’t feel guilty.  Often men will feel a sense of guilt or anxiety about not being at work.  They continue to think about work even after starting their leave.
Second – PLAN!  Before taking your leave have a plan on when you will start, and when you will go back to work.  Make sure you have an outline of when you will need childcare or help when you return to work.  Make sure you have all the diapers, wipes + gear you think you will need for the first few months. Then make sure you have some flexibility to pick up other things as you find out you need them.
Lastly, ensure you have a support network. For men, it is best to have a group of other men who are experiencing the same thing you are. New Fathers who can share horror stories, share tips and resources they come across. This can also be family if you have some nearby. Check out www.citydadsgroup.com for more info on a dads group in your city.

6. Children love to spend time with their Dad.  What is your favorite activity to do with your children?
Routine is key to success in raising kids. Setting up a series of predictable events that your kids can depend on, anticipate and succeed at is a foundation in successful parenting. I build a part of the day into our routine where Dad spends an hours or more every day just with the girls. We go to the grocery store and maybe pick up a cookie, the park and play on the swings, or the pet store and look at all the animals.  What the activity is matters less than the time you regularly set aside for it. Make sure that you build in Daddy time into your week, where it is only Dad and the kids who spend time together.  This becomes something your kids can depend on and look forward to as you cement it into your weekly routine.

7. With so many books available on a variety of parenting topics, do you have any book recommendations for Dads?  
At TheAverageFather.com we have a “Dadabase” with books and other resources for all our fellow fathers. Each Dad will have their own specific need, and we have content to meet all those needs.

8. What is one product or service you can’t live without? Bubble Bath.

9. We all know Fatherhood can be busy.  How do you relax and find some “Daddy Time?”
Walking the dog. Since before my kids were born walking the dog has been a great time for reflection and down time. Running, walking or taking him for a swim at the beach, spending time with my 4 legged buddy helps we chill out and put things into perspective.

Tony Morrow, host and founder of TheAverageFather.com began an even bolder adventure: Fatherhood. With many hard lessons learned, this veteran Dad is interviewing experts about Fatherhood, and sharing his knowledge with you! Tony Morrow is a happy husband and father of two.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Having a Ball this Year with Timbits Soccer Program

To celebrate the love of the game, Tim Hortons launches new TIMBITS® Talks YouTube series featuring Toronto FC player, Jonathan Osorio.  The 2016 season is in full swing and this year, more than 200,000 kids will lace up their cleats and strap on their shin pads to participate in Timbits Soccer, a community-oriented program designed for kids aged four to nine to play house league soccer.

To celebrate the season and welcome this year’s Timbits Soccer players, Tim Hortons launched today a new YouTube video series called TIMBITS® Talks, featuring conversations between Timbits Minor Sports Program participants and professional athletes. The first video debuts today on Tim Hortons’ YouTube Channel, YouTube.com/timhortons, and features Toronto-born, Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio with Timbits Soccer player Ben, sharing their passion for soccer.

“I started playing soccer when I was three years old in my home town of Toronto,” says Jonathan Osorio, Midfielder, Toronto FC. “My favourite thing about playing minor soccer was having orange slices at halftime, and the most important lesson I learned on the field was to always have fun. There’s no doubt that playing soccer at a young age helped fuel my passion and helped lead me to become a professional. My advice to kids who are playing today is to practice hard every day, and enjoy every minute of playing the game we love.”

Tim Hortons is a proud supporter of youth soccer in Canada. Since 2007, more than 1.9 million children have participated in the Timbits Soccer program, and in 2016 alone, Timbits Soccer will provide more than 2.8 million hours of extracurricular activity. Programs like Timbits Soccer help to ensure soccer is alive and kicking in communities across the country, so that kids can continue to benefit from the physical skills the game develops and the positive social interactions it encourages.

Every Timbits Soccer player receives a jersey, socks, and soccer ball and participant medal. For more information about the Timbits Minor Sports Programs, visit www.timhortons.com or contact your local Soccer Club.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Books for Littles Ones to Read with Dad

Reading together is something we make time for whenever we see each other. This Father's Day, set aside some time to read books about dad with your little one.

Gator Dad by Brian Lies 
Published in May this year Brian Lies's new picture book shows readers the wonderful—and often different—ways that children connect with their fathers.
From seemingly mundane tasks such as grocery shopping to more active pursuits like a romp at the park and fort-building, a loving and playful father alligator shows his gator kids that the simplest pleasures done together can make for an incredibly fun day. This heartwarming story demonstrates a series of very special ways children can connect with their fathers and should appeal to parents and little readers everywhere.




DaDa by Jimmy Fallon Written by Emmy Award and Grammy Award winner Jimmy Fallon.  He did everything in his power to ensure that his daughter's first word would be "Dada!" He was determined that his daughter would say "Dada!" before any other word. Children enjoy the silly story and the cute, simple pictures. They also love answering with what the animal says Dada? Moo! Dada? Quack!

Daddies Are Awesome by Meredith Costain
Did you know daddies are awesome! They're warm and delicious. They tickle and hug you and shower you with kisses. Loving and thoughtful, playful and daring, cuddly and caring--daddies are awesome. This gentle rhyming text celebrates the special bond between father and child. Adorable doggy daddy and pup illustrations make this perfect for sharing!

A Perfect Father's Day by Eve Bunting
Four-year-old Susie gives her dad her idea of the perfect Father's Day: A fast food restaurant for lunch, feeding birds at the park, a ride on the carousel, the swings . . . they even top their day off with balloons! This sweet treat of a book, in a new paper-over-board gift edition with foil cover accents, is the perfect story for dads and kids to share on a perfect Father's Day.

For more information about these and other children's books published by Raincoast Books visit www.raincoast.com. Enter to win these Father's Day books featured at www.urbanbaby.ca in the contest section. Good Luck!



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Kegels and Cocktails: Shinging a Light on Women's Pelvic Health

Leaking when you laugh is not normal even though most women think it is. If you have had kids, if you exercise intensively, if you sit a lot, or if you are a woman in your thirties or older, you may be a little when you laugh, sneeze, cough, run, jump or in general. While it is common, it is not normal and there is help!

Statistics tell us that 1 in 5 women live with incontinence but that number is actually much higher as these stats are reported cases. Many women suffer in silence and do not report their problem. If they seek help from a doctor, the most common recommendation to treat incontinence is to use pads, an expensive solution that only masks the problem, or surgery.

Pelvic floor experts Kim Vopni and Janet Kimmel are on a mission to change all that with the annual Kegels and Cocktails event designed to empower and educate women about the rarely discussed topic of pelvic health.

Kegels and Cocktails will provide women with the knowledge that will help them gain control of their pelvic health and give them options and introductions to the community of professionals in the Vancouver area who can help.

Kegels & Cocktails Event Details
:
Date: June 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Location: The Waterfall Building, 1540 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Description: Join us for the ultimate girl's night out in honour of World Continence Week! Join hosts Kim Vopni and Janet Kimmel for a cocktail and a Kegel while learning all about pelvic health for women!
Guest speakers include Dr. Jennie Mickelson (Urologist), Dr. Carley Akehurst (Naturopathic Doctor) and Anniken Chadwick (Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist). A portion of the proceeds will support The Canadian Continence Foundation.
Tickets: $42 early bird by June 8; $52 after June 8;
For more info and tickets visit kegelsandcocktails.com/vancouver

Kim Vopni – The Fitness Doula – is the owner of Pelvienne Wellness Inc and co-founder of Bellies Inc offering innovative care and health products and services to pregnant women and new moms. Kim is a mom of 2 boys and a Certified Pre/Post Natal Fitness Consultant who also trained as a doula. Kim combines the support aspect of a doula with specific fitness principles to help women prepare for and recover from pregnancy and birth. She has completed training in the Hypopressive Method, and Pfilates (Pelvic Floor Pilates) which provide her with a very unique background that allows her to deliver truly specialized services to women that help prevent and recover from pelvic floor challenges such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Kim is a contributing writer for the Globe and Mail’s online Health Advisor section and author of the book Prepare to Push.




Sunday, June 5, 2016

Product Review: Svan Ice Cream Shop

The arrival of a new toy is always an exciting moment in our home. This case was no exception — and the Svan Ice Cream Shop couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

You see, my daughter’s preschool class just got a new similar toy — an ice cream cart — that facilitates hours of creative play for her and her classmates. Having the Svan Ice Cream Cart at home is like a smaller scale version of her school toy. Being able to play with it at home has been just delightful for them! And let’s not forget the most important piece — our local bakery, within walking distance of our home, has just added and ice cream bar, with 24 flavors of gelato! Summer is truly on its way, with the thoughts and visions of ice cream everywhere!




My daughters are just overjoyed with this toy. When we first opened it, they immediately dove right in. They pretended to have their own ice cream store — called Strawberry Ice Cream Shop — and they promptly took our orders for ice cream. They scoop, lick and imagine, swapping out the magnetic tops for the various ice cream cones and then replacing them back in the slots.

You can feel great about your child playing with the Svan Ice Cream Shop, as it is made of 100% wood and is extremely durable. It is great for imaginative and dramatic play, and can provide your child with learning experiences for sharing, interacting with others and just plain fun! We love this toy — t is a perfect addition to my daughter’s kitchen set.

Whether or not your child is just moving the magnetic tops of the ice cream onto the various cones, or is truly engaged in the imaginative play of the Ice Cream Stand, the Svan Ice Cream Shop is a wonderfully interactive toy that I would highly recommend. It is durable, portable and will provide hours of play-and the price point is great too — only $39.99 on Amazon. I’d highly recommend this toy for your child.

For more information about Svan Ice Cream Shop products and accessories visit: www.svan.com. Enter to win your very own Svan Ice Cream Shop at www.urbanbaby.ca in the contest section. Good Luck!

Melissa Collins is a coffee-loving, lip gloss collecting mother of two little ladies. When she’s not cleaning up cheerios and blogging about the humour in parenting, you can find her curled up in her hammock with a good book. Check her out at www.mellysmommymanual.com