Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day is coming up on June 21 and unlike other sites that run their gift guides a week before, we wanted to give you ample time to suss out the perfect gifts for the dads in your life. Here are some of our favourites:

From Beth-Anne


This is a luxury item that dads are unlikely to splurge on for themselves but if they are a music lover nothing compares. Whether they are used for intense workouts at the gym, running outdoors or walking to and from the office, these Bluetooth-enabled earphones are unbeatable. Powerbeats™ 2 Wireless earphones are available at Indigo, $219.95.


I saw Dan Buettner featured on a popular news magazine show. He was visiting the Greek island of Ikaria, interviewing inhabitants and experts alike on the secrets to a long, healthy life. While the wisdom may not be surprising, it’s worth giving Dad the blueprints to longevity! The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons For Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest and The Blue Zones Solution: Eating And Living Like The World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner available at Indigo $12.24 and $21.05.


I like giving t-shirts. Among my favourites are the ironic ones from places like Drake General Store or the city-scapes I found at the One of a Kind Show. We featured this shirt for the hockey-lover as part of Giving Guide in December and it was a favourite of our readers too. What do you think about this one from ebollo on Etsy? Not sure it would get much wear, but the message is indisputable!

I love the idea of giving experiences. For Mother’s Day, we went for a fancy-schmancy French dinner (no sweaties allowed!) and the boys truly impressed me with their manners (there may have been some threats uttered before we left the house) and the memory will stay with me much longer than anything material ever could. If the dad in your life is completely stressed out, get him a pass to a Restorative yoga class. The pace is gentle, slow and more relaxing than any massage, plus it’s good for him! The Culture Pearl has her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the city.  Recently she wrote about her experience in a skydiving simulator but if that’s not his thing, a luxury car rental for the day may be!

From Nathalie:

You could have knocked me over with a feather when my brother told me about his date night spent painting a picture.  I had never heard of social painting, but I would have bet money he’d be the last person to do something like that.  He did, and he loved it.  Social painting is a guided lesson in painting in a group setting with cocktails and music and fun.  So, whether the dad in your life is artistic or not, look into a painting party.  Art Tonite has weekly sessions in various locations around Toronto.


My boys paint ties for their dad every year.  It takes a special kind of man to wear these proudly, and my husband is one of them!  He gets lots of compliments.


Real Canadian Superstores has some great gear for dads, like a portable bbq, perfect for camping or tailgate parties.  It folds up for easy transportation and storage.


I love the idea of these solar powered Mason jar lanterns for the Green Dad, available from Home Depot.  They look great in the daylight, too, as they are silvered and glitter in the sunlight.


From  Carol

A unique and sure-winner for the beer-loving man, give him the gift of home brew!  Brew North is Toronto’s newest and best home brewing supply shop, carrying all the equipment, ingredients, and kits needed to make a really good beer whether you’re a novice or experienced brewer.


And for more culinary delights, how about a taking a class on cheese tasting?  Enter night school for cheese fans at the Leslieville Cheese Market.  Fun, delicious, and perfect for a special night out.



Father’s Day Gift Guide

Dads can be tricky people to shop for because they always seem to have everything that they need because they buy it for themselves with little fanfare.  I am forever suggesting with a wink and smile that maybe someone can buy that apple tv/squash racquet/shirt and lo and behold, I find said item in the house a few days later.  Dads can also be the easiest people to shop for.  Food is almost always a home-run and so, come to think of it, are sporting events and experiences.  And every dad, no matter how macho, is a sucker for a painted handprint and a simple “I love you” scrawled across the page.

Here’s a round of up of some gifts that may make dad extra happy on his special day.

From Beth-Anne

I know that the hipster dads are rockin’ the beards but there are still plenty of guys (and their gals) out there who love a close shave.  Son of a Sailor makes these beautiful, stained wood shave kits ($72) that may just make some hipsters rethink their look.



And because every daddy has their admirers, there is Harry’s father and son shave set ($36)

B3361_EF0490I know quite a few dads who can vouch for having seen every episode of Seinfeld, but that doesn’t mean they have to show solidarity and sport a Constanza-esque wallet.  Thin card holders are the way to go and XO Bruno’s ($35) are simple, no-fuss and all that’s needed.



It’s a bummer when your phone or mobile device runs out of juice.  Nomad, a company of spry young smartypants (seriously, I could have babysat these kids!) have come up with a simple, easy-to-use solution.  The CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD are sleek portable smart phone cables ($29) that either fit nicely onto a standard key ring or in a card holder (see above).  It works by plugging one end into a USB port and the other end into your mobile device.




A guy that I went to high school, and whom I am friends with on Facebook, is dapper.  There really is no other word for his style.  His look is unique, well-put together and he appreciates the quality of fine craftsmanship.  I love seeing how his little guy is following in his footsteps.  When I saw this book, Vintage Menswear: A collection from the vintage showroom, ($58) I thought of him.  Happy Father’s Day, J.G.!


Along the same lines, whatever happened to money clips?  Are they making a comeback along with the pocket-square and slim-cut pants?  I do love a nice money clip, so if the thin-card holder isn’t your guy’s thing, maybe a money clip ($262) is just what he needs.  Besides a cash diet is a good thing, right?


My boys are baseball obsessed!  Any chance they can get to a game, they are thrilled beyond belief.  It would make their day to see their dad wearing this fan t-shirt ($38).


Or maybe he will rock an old-school look ($38).


It’s not just moms that have a lot to tote around.  Dads have things too.  Like their workout clothes and . . . .um . . . I am not sure what else, but this sailor bag ($79) would be an easy bag to toss workout clothes into.


Cufflinked out?  This simple, leather ID bracelet ($42) is an alternative.


Have a dad that likes sipping on a drink on the back patio?  Check out these glasses made from recycled beer bottles ($19).  The artists have several to choose from – I bet your dad’s favourite brand is available too.

heinekenHere’s something that is on MY list (for me!) so I may just have to get it for him.  Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton is based on his popular blog of the same name.  He has 4 million followers.  Wow!


Did this list not spark your interest?  Why not try Urban Moms?  Sonya has some great ideas for the hard-to-buy-for dad.

From Nathalie

I love the messaging that has been coming from Kerry Clare at the 49th Shelf about their Father’s Day book recommendations: not all dads are only about golf, barbecue and beer.  If you are looking for some great books to gift that go beyond the usual father’s day stuff, this is your list.

A while back, we were sent a label making kit from Epson.  The first person I thought about when I got it was my husband!  The custom label makers for wires is perfect for him!  (Available only in the US.)

kt_c51cb70190-4_396x264For Mother’s Day, my husband gave me a t-shirt that says, “I am silently correcting you’re grammar.”  I wore it out today for the first time and was overwhelmed by how many laughs and comments I got.  The shirt also comes in me’ns.  From Arrant Pedantry.


Experiences.  What does the dad in your life like to do?  What does he like to do with the kids?  Last year, my Father’s Day gift to Ted was a family chess night.  We didn’t actually manage to host it until winter, but no matter.  It was such a hit, we did it twice, the second time I also included my dad!  Three generations learned and laughed together.  It’s one of my favourite gifts ever.

Yakos plays three against one.

Yakos plays three against one.

Finally, another experience-based idea is to be a tourist in your own city.  The rules: plan a family day out and about without going anywhere you have gone before.  New parks, new attractions, new restaurants, food trucks or grocery stores for a picnic.





Family Chess Night: The Gift of Experience

For Father’s Day this year, the kids and I gave Ted a Family Chess Night.

The two oldest had been selected for their school teams for the end-of-year chess tournaments, and with their successes we thought it would be fun to bring the competition home.  It took us until November to get the night booked, but it was well worth the wait.

We asked the kids’ wonderful chess coach from The Chess Institute of Canada to come and do a family night of chess fun for us all.  (And by “us” I mean “them” not “me”; I don’t play chess.  Yet?  This was designed to be a Dad and his boys kind of thing.)  I knew that it would be fun because I saw how my kids engaged with Yakos during chess club and during tournaments.  You could not hope to meet a more enthusiastic and supportive coach, and having presented him with the idea for a family night of chess, I was sure that he could plan activities that would work for the four chess players who live here.  He told us he was excited to have been asked, and he put together 90 minutes of games, puzzles, riddles, and a 3-on-1 match.  I observed, took photos, and reveled in seeing the boys compete with their dad for the family tournament points.

3 against 1

3 against 1

I love gifts that are experiences, and this was one of those experiences that made me grin from ear to ear all night.  Everyone had fun, everyone learned something new about chess, and we spent the evening together in a place that was not a hockey rink.  Good times!



Guilt-Free Downtime

book-759873_640In those first few months of parenthood neither of us knowing what we were doing.  Our ideas and ideals were soon after assaulted by stark realities . . . remember vowing that an Exersaucer would never replace a coffee table? Swearing that you’d never talk about your child’s poo over a romantic dinner? Insisting that your children will never be placated by the television?  Yep.  Those ideals.

We were learning from each other.  Our mid-day phone calls were no longer about the new hot spot where we needed to make dinner reservations, but about discussing projectile vomit and the number of hours a small baby could possibly scream at the top of their lungs before I would need to be committed.  As the years pass we’re still learning from each other and while the themes of these calls have changed the message remains the same:  we are a team that depends on each other to be good parents to our three boys.

In a moment of calm last week, I was catching up on my reading while trying to think up the perfect Father’s Day for my husband (it was a BBQ cover in case you’re curious) when I came across Alyson Schafer’s short list of what dads really want for Father’s Day.

A shocker to no one, I am sure, sex topped the list (I really thought it would be the BBQ cover!) but as I continued it was the last thing on the list that really struck me:

Downtime – Dads know how to do self-care.  It is not them being lazy. Dads have no guilt hitting the golf course, or watching the game on Sunday afternoon.  Moms should watch and learn from their good role modeling instead of berating them about it. Pull up a chair and join dad while he relaxes, or ask dad to reciprocate in kindness by watching the kids while their partner gets a pedicure or something else they enjoy.

Bingo!  I had been wavering about what to write for this week’s post.  I had chosen the theme and yet here I was, stuck.

I could have easily written about how he’s the fun parent, how he can spend hours playing Sorry! without stressing about everything that’s not getting done, or how he makes up nonsensical bedtime stories that the boys beg to hear over and over.

Every minute of my husband’s time is accounted for: work, kids, us and him.  He has no qualms about booking in a squash game even though there’s the laundry!  The groceries!  The over-due library books!

How can he sit on the couch, and actually drift off to sleep, on a Sunday afternoon?  Doesn’t he know that we have to re-organize the linen closet?  Sort the Playmobil from the Lego?  De-clutter the craft cupboard?

He can and he does.  And taking time for myself is something that I have learned from him over the years.  He is always encouraging me to take that course!  Learn that sport!  Go away with friends!  Read that book!

While we were both navigating the new waters of parenthood, we learned how to pin down a child and clip their nails together but somewhere along the way I became skilled at organizing our life into bins and he mastered guilt-free downtime.

Knowing where the hats are will always be important to me, but engaging in self-care is proving to be more beneficial to the wellbeing of our family, my marriage and me.

From the Mouths of Our Babes on Father’s Day

Okay, hubby, it’s our turn up to bat.  These are the answers to the first interviews I have ever conducted with our boys.  Why on earth has it taken me so long?  By the way, the baby’s answers are “aaaaahhhhh!”
Happy Father’s Day to you.  Even if you have a shirt that says, “Who are these kids and why are they calling me Dad?”
What is daddy made of?
3 year old:  I don’t know
6 year old:  Blood, bones, skin.
What kind of little boy was daddy?
3 year old:  A baby.  Pulling hair and holding onto hair.
6 year old:  He was excluded a lot.
What did daddy need to know about mommy before he married her?
3 year old:  I don’t know.
6 year old:  He had to make sure that he would be nice to you.
Why did daddy marry your mommy?
3 year old:  I don’t know.  Why did he marry you?
Me:  I think he loves me.
3 year old:  No, I don’t think he does.
6 year old:  Because he likes you.
Who’s the boss at our house?
3 year old:  I think Daddy is, because he plants tomatoes.
6 year old:  You.  Daddy.
Me:  Which one?
6 year old:  Both.
What’s the difference between moms and dads?
3 yaer old:  They’re made out of turtles.  I wish we were turtles, so someone could pet us.
6year old:  They don’t have the same privates.  And they don’t have the same body parts.  And they don’t like the same clothes.
What does daddy do in his spare time?
3 year old:  He doesn’t have work.  He drinks coffee.  And when he doesn’t drink coffee, he drinks tea.
6 year old:  He plays.  He plays the Lego game, he plays with Nat, then he teaches me how to have fun with a yo-yo.  He also lets us sometimes go to his work.  That’s mostly it.  I like what he does with me.  He goes fishing and stuff like that.
What would it take to make daddy perfect?
3 year old:  Not going to work.
6 year old:  Be off [work] a little bit more.

If you could change one thing about daddy, what would it be?

3 year old:  I don’t know.

6 year old:  It would be, he would speak a different language.

If daddy was a superhero/movie character/book character, which one would he be?
3 year old:  A good guy.
6 year old:  Maybe Spiderman.
Me:  How come Spiderman?
6 year old:  Because he wears red lots of the time.
What is dad’s job?
3 year old:  He plays squash.
6 year old:  Working.  Teaching squash.
What should we celebrate about dad on Father’s day?
3 year old:  Because we never did Father’s Day.
6 year old:  Make him a nice craft while he’s at work.

What’s your favourite thing about dad?

3 year old:  Because he plants tomatoes and potato plants.  I want to see if there are any potato bugs.

6 year old:  He does lots of good fun stuff.

Happy Father’s Day, Peter!

Photo credit: Marcelle Cerny, 2012

Happy father’s day, Peter! I think you know this already, but you have two boys who absolutely adore you.

I should tell you, though: one of them wants you to shave more often.

Here’s  what D (age 9) and S (age 7) had to say. Thanks again to Defining Motherhood for the idea. 

What is daddy made of?

D: Daddy is made of kindness, caring, and responsibility.

S: Hmm. Love, and water.

What kind of little boy was daddy?

D: A fun, cheerful boy. 

S: A nice little boy.

What did Daddy need to know about mommy before he married her?

D: That you’re really kind.

S: How beautiful you were.

[Ed note: Whose idea was it to include this question? It’s brilliant!]

Why did daddy marry mommy?

 D: He loved you a lot, and he knew that you were a big part of his life.

S: Because you looked beautiful.

Who’s the boss at our house?

D: I think being the boss is equally shared between mommy and daddy.

S: Both of you.

What’s the difference between moms and dads?

D: Well, they’re opposite genders….and one gave birth to me, while the other helped.

S: Moms can give birth to babies, and Dads can’t.

What does daddy do in his spare time?

 D: He reads. A lot!

S: He plays with me! And he loves me.

What would it take to make daddy perfect?

D: Nothing. Daddy’s already perfect.

S: A hug and a kiss from me!

If you could change one thing about daddy, what would it be?

D: Maybe I could make it so that Daddy could bend time, so that we could spend more time together.

S: His beard!

M (confused): Why? Daddy doesn’t have a beard.

S: Yes he does. And it’s hairy!

If daddy was a superhero/movie character/book character, which one would he be?

D: Mr. Fantastic. He’s already stretching every day.

S: Captain America! ‘Cause he’s got the same beard as him.

Me (confused again): But, Captain America doesn’t have a beard either.

S: Oh yes he does. It’s EXACTLY the same as Daddy’s.

What should we celebrate about your Dad on father’s day?

D: His kindness and his love for his family.

S: How good he is of a Dad. How well he gives hugs and kisses!

What’s your favourite thing about your Dad?
D: Everything!

S: That he plays football and baseball with me!

Who’s Your Daddy?

With Father’s Day fast approaching, we’re going to pass the reins over to our kids this week. Inspired by this post over at Defining Motherhood, we’re asking our boys for their perspective on their fathers.

Who are they? What do they like? What exactly do the 4Dads do all day?  Join us this week as we interview our boys about their dads: we’re just as curious as you are about what we’ll discover!

The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

This past Christmas I gave my husband, a great gift!

Nope.  It’s not what you’re thinking.

I wanted to give him something personal but also something that would be useful.  I had contemplated some sentimental ideas and while they definitely would tug at his heartstrings and be a memorable gift, nothing seemed to be the right fit.

While searching online, I discovered Canadian company, Riverstone Designs and their LoveLinx Collection.  The collection of pendants, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks and key chains are beautifully crafted sterling silver jewelry personalized by your child’s thumbprint and/or photo.

I selected the cufflinks for my husband’s Christmas present.  The design of the cufflinks is modern and sophisticated and the craftsmanship is impeccable.

Because I have three boys, I did three cufflinks each personalized with their thumbprint and name (on the back).  While some may see the odd pairing of links as a need to have a fourth child (by some, I mean my mother!), others see it as a need for the artists of Riverstone Design to increase their men’s line.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and a meaningful gift from Riverstone Design, LoveLinx Collection would make a special gift.  The Circle of Love pendant for $60, tops my list (hint, hint) but any of the various bracelets (starting at $80) and necklaces (from $42) that have been personalized with my boys’ prints would make me smile.

Act fast . . . orders for Mother’s Day must be placed by the end of March.

Disclaimer:  The author of this post did not receive any product or money from Riverstone Design, LoveLinx Collection.  I just love the cufflinks they created for me and I wanted to spread the word!

photocredit: www.ohbabymagazine.com


Reliving My Childhood

To My Three Boys:

I have been surprised by myself in many ways throughout my life but never so much since all of you have come along.

I remember the extreme ebbs and flows of my emotions at your age toward just about anything whether it was an opportunity to pee off the boathouse at our cottage, the anticipation of a family vacation somewhere or begging for a new bike.   Elated and hung up over such things, I didn’t sleep, had butterflies in my stomach and well, I too, latched onto Papou and Baba like a leech from a weedy pond.  I recall my childhood and those emotions so vividly and since becoming a father find myself reliving these memories.

In adolescence and beyond, that elation and excitement was not as easily drawn – except of course for the boathouse experience.  If I may speculate, you will educate yourself, impatience will be your leading virtue through your teenage years and I expect that at some point you realize that you are not the only one in this world. If there are stages of life this one, childhood, is exploratory.

Since you have come into my world, it has been bliss.  And patience has become my virtue.

I am selfishly reliving my childhood with you.  How about that race car track I bought you at Christmas that you could barely operate?  And the remote control helicopter that you fly like a kamikaze that almost took out the eye of your play-date last week?

It’s not the gifts. It’s the excitement on your faces that have left an imprint on my memory that will stay with me for as long as I am here.

It’s the hugs, kisses, bedtime stories, your attempts to report the events of the day and all of the questions and little things you do to and for me that I will remember forever.

Emotions ebb and flow once again. You have connected the cycle of life for me and now it seems simple.

Mom and I love you, love to be with you and look forward to spending the rest of our lives with you.



Written by Paul Jones who is the dad to three boys, ages 4, 3 and 9 months and husband to a beautiful domestic goddess, without whom he would be utterly lost.  (Author bio written by said goddess)

Thank You

To my boys:

Thank you.

This is going to sound a bit strange for you to hear, but I cannot begin to thank you enough. You have done far more for me, already at your still young ages of 10 and 6 and 3, than I think I could ever do for you.

But it is true.

Let me explain.

You boys have made me stronger and healthier. One day a little while ago I caught myself lamenting what a great physical effort it would be to have to go all the way to the park to throw the ball around. Fortunately, I realized how nuts that was. Two years later, I’ve lost that 35 lbs, can run for half an hour without dying, can put on pants that I haven’t worn since before I was married. Now I still can’t quite keep up with Gavin when he runs away (but then again, who can?), but I can play ball or hockey or tag all day with you. And I want to.

You boys have made me a better and more enthusiastic Habs fan. Laugh if you want, but I have re-gained that ten year old’s excitement and passion for the game of hockey and my, no (sniff!) our beloved Montreal Canadiens. I always followed Les Habitants, of course, but I didn’t start seeking out player news, planning my week to watch a game on the weekend, going to Montreal to see their centennial game until you guys started getting into the game. I’ve gotten more into hockey, too, even got my first pair of new hockey skates since high school, bought a hockey helmet and am playing Canada’s game every week. Nothing I love more than to sit with you to watch a game of hockey on a Saturday night… except lacing up and hitting the ice with you, all four of us in our bleu, blanc et rouge.

You boys have made me a better Canadian. I love my country and always have. Passionately so. But I have found a deeper understanding and passion for this “handful of earth” as Al Purdy called it in the last 10 years. By going on different adventures with you to see different parts of the country, or reading about our history (especially those polar explorers), or explaining about our politics and that meanie who’s the guy in charge right now (not that I would try to influence your independent political choices, of course), I’ve gotten more excited about learning more about my own home and native land than I ever have.

You’ve made me a better son. No one appreciates their own parents like a child who has children. I’ve come to understand my mom, your Nana, in ways I could not on my own. I’ve also come to miss my dad, Grampie Gordon who neither you nor Mum ever met, in an even deeper way. I understand lifelong lessons that were learned without being taught. Bred in the bone. I hope I can be half the parent they both were. I love them both more today thanks to you. Because of you.

You boys have made me a better and more loving husband. We had a wonderfully self-centred and self-encircling life, the two of us, before you came. We were so very happy together, quietly oblivious to the greater life we now have. The moments thinking about babies, planning for babies, saving and buying for babies and bringing you into the world brought us closer together, deepened my love for your mum. And the thinking and planning and saving and buying for our growing babies, our boys, brings us closer still. I’ve seen the love and patience and caring and tenderness and patience and discipline and firmness and patience of your Mum, and wonder at it in awe. I hope I give back to her the smallest sliver that she gives to you.

You boys have made me a better man. I’ve learned more about being a man by learning to be a boy again with you. I was a pretty serious kid growing up, not the goofy, joke-bombing, cross-eyed old guy who works hard at constantly making you roll your eyes. I take pride in that. I’ve learned what it is to be a kid again and I can’t tell you how amazing that is. What fun it is. Now I just have to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

I said that you have done far more for me than I think I could ever do for you. Rather than tightening and crowding my life, like a balloon filling with air, my life is ever expanding with you.

I said that I cannot begin to thank you enough.

Consider this the beginning of my attempt to do so.

I love you.


Ted Betts is a lawyer in Toronto who occasionally blogs about arctic exploration at Franklin’s Ghost, and is happily inspired every day by his three boys and his wife Nathalie Foy.