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This Takes the Cake

Life Love and the Pursuit of Play Blogiversary

Exactly 365 days ago, a blogger was born. With many bloggers quitting after just 3 months, hitting 12 is a big deal! I wrote My Very First Blog Post having no clue what I was in for! Since then it has grown into something beyond anything I could have imagined, and I have loved most every minute. It is definitely my 3rd child, just as demanding as the other 2, but I still am so happy I made the decision to jump in.

In celebration of my Blogiversary, I’m looking back on my top 5 posts of the year.

1. Cake Tutorial: Olaf from Disney’s Frozen

2. Cake Tutorial: Princess Cake Castle

3. Cupcake Tutorial: Olaf from Disney’s Frozen

4. The Many Faces of Motherhood

5. Toddlers on a Plane: 7 Tips and Must Haves for Travelling with Toddlers

As you can see, the Pinterest machine has been good to me, making any cake post I throw out there a big hit. Very big. As in those 3 posts account for over 70% of all my traffic! In fairness, the stats are a bit off when I switched from wordpress.com to .org 6 months ago. Regardless, they are my biggest hits. Post number 4 however – The Many Faces of Motherhood – is the most meaningful to me. If you read just one, make it that one. It is the most honest, raw thing I have ever written, and is painfully close to my heart.

As I wrote back in my first foray into the blogosphere, I wasn’t going to classify or pigeonhole myself with a certain category of posts, and my Top 5 definitely reflect my hodgepodge style. Some might call it disorganized, scattered or rambling, I prefer smorgasbord, mosaic or melting pot. Whatever you call it, it is 100% me and I am so excited about what year 2 will bring!

Now, where’s the cake?

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True Blood In Real Life: A Call To Action

My lifelong commitment to blood donation had a less than noble beginning. The small town high school I attended allowed students of eligible age (17 years currently, although I believe it was 16 at the time) to miss class in order to donate blood at the mobile clinic set up in our gym every few months. Between the form filling, the waiting, the donation, the cookies and juice, the ‘dizziness’, the second serving of cookies and juice and so on, we could stretch a single donation over several periods. As anyone from a small town can testify, entertainment is scarce, so we would have races. We would time ourselves and keep track of who ‘bled the fastest’ – as if we had some sort of control over it. I am a slow bleeder. Always came in last.

Heather's Blood Donation on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

The family that bleeds together…. at our traditional Valentine’s Day donation.

While I am still a surprisingly slow bleeder, the importance of blood donation is very close to my heart (pun fully intended). I had regularly donated blood on and off ever since those high school days of yore – with occasional breaks due to ineligibility because of anemia as well as various tattoos and piercings – but without a full understanding or emotional attachment to the cause I was supporting. That all changed in the middle of one of the worst winter storms to hit BC in December 2008. At the end of that cold, cold month, just a few short days after our Christmas celebrations, my husband and I welcomed our firstborn, a beautiful baby girl into the world. Unbeknownst to us, she was sick. Very sick. Our daughter was born with multiple Congenital Heart Defects, and would undergo open heart surgery at BC Children’s Hospital at a mere 17 days of age. I won’t go into details as it is a long and complex story (I wrote about it here), but as part of her surgery, Adri was placed on cardiopulmonary bypass (aka the Heart-Lung machine) which temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the oxygen content of the body. This machine is primed with donated blood before the patient is connected. We were incredibly lucky that Adri had no major complications after surgery, nor in the 5 1/2 years since, and that as an infant, they only need 0.5-1 unit of blood to prime the bypass. Many are not so lucky.

Open Heart Surgery at BC Children's Hospital

The aftermath of paediatric Open Heart Surgery

Sharing the story was prompted by the news that fellow blogger Marilyn from A Lot of Loves was in a medically induced coma due to post surgical complications. Thankfully she is awake and healing now, but needed over 100 units of blood to get to this point. Her significant need compelled a group of local bloggers, myself included, to go and donate, where we could as well as put together a blog carnival in Marilyn’s honour to inspire more people to donate blood. Did you know that over 2000 units of blood are needed daily across Canada but a paltry 3.5% of eligible donors actually donate? I urge the remaining 96.5% to get out and donate today! You can find a clinic near you here, and even book an appointment online! Don’t wait until a family or friend is in need, use your ‘get out of class free’ pass, go for the cookies and juice, whatever the motivation – just do it! For those that aren’t eligible, volunteers are always needed and appreciated! Below are the posts from bloggers participating in the Blood Donation Blog Carnival. Share your story about donating or receiving blood and help us spread the word using hashtags #bloggersforblood and #alotoflovesformarilyn. Blood Donation Blog Carnival

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Pacific Rim College’s Doula Training comes to Vancouver

The highly acclaimed Holistic Doula Certificate Program from Victoria’s Pacific Rim College is coming to Vancouver this Fall, and we couldn’t be more excited to tell you all about it. We had the opportunity to interview Brea Segger, Pacific Rim’s Director, to learn more about this much anticipated program.

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Tell us about where the idea came from for your Doula Program?

Childbirth is truly the most incredible, unpredictable, and rewarding experiences I have ever had – but I wasn’t always one of those people who wanted to have children, or who was particularly drawn to babies. This, of course, all changed when I gave birth to my first child in 2010. When I went into labour with my first child Ela, I had a plan for a homebirth, an accomplished midwife, and a very supportive partner. From the onset, however, my contractions were excruciating (due to what we soon learned was caused by back labour, likely from a spinal injury I had when I was 14) and over the next 48 hours, labour progressed slowly. Although the midwife checked in periodically, for the most part my partner and I were alone, increasingly exhausted and scared. The birth ended up being complicated and traumatic but the end result was a very special baby girl. I thought, there just has to be a better way to do this! After the birth, and perhaps because I’m the Director of an Integrative Medicine College, it seemed like everyone wanted to talk to me about birth, and particularly, support (or lack thereof) during labour, birth and postpartum. Many people I knew through Pacific Rim College had either received doula training but weren’t practicing as Doulas because they weren’t confident in their skills and knowledge or didn’t know how to start a business. Other people were researching Doula training programs but weren’t excited about the programs that were currently available. The same question kept coming up – How can I be a Doula after taking a couple of workshops and reading a handful of books? This just wasn’t sitting right with many of the folks who were expressing their concerns with me. So here you have it – a program that provides Prenatal, Birth, and Postpartum training in a unique, comprehensive, and practical way! Continue reading

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August Adventures with Netflix #StreamTeam!

While the beginning of this summer seemed to be one adventure after another, ever since I dislocated my kneecap our adventures have been on hold. Thankfully the awesome team at Netflix is helping us continue the fun with a great line up of adventurous titles for little and big kids alike!

Wanna get adventurous with us? Here are 14 titles to share with your kids on Netflix:

Big Kids

August Adventures for Big Kids on Netflix

1. The Adventures of Tintin
2. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
3. Tad: The Lost Explorer
4. The Adventures of Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure
5. National Treasure
6. Labou and the Quest for the Lost Treasure

 

Little Ones

August Adventures for Little Kids

Dora The Explorer
Wild Animal Baby Explorers
Tree Fu Tom
Rubbadubbers: Tubb’s Pirate Treasure
A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures
The Hive

 

While it didn’t make the official adventure list, I have to include the one show on Netflix that has kept both my girls moving while I am off my feet. My 5-year-old discovered Bo on the Go, and while as an adult I find the repetitiveness annoying, she and my 17 month old LOVE it and their ‘animoves’ actually keep them on their feet and “on the go” for the entire episode. And the next one. And the next one. They even clean up when Bo tells them to! Definitely worth checking out with your adventurous little ones.

Bo on the Go #StreamTeam Adventures on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

Tell me how your August Adventures are shaping up (in other words, let me live vicariously through you)!

 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program, and receive special perks for sharing all my family’s favourites with you, dear reader. I was not financially compensated for this post. 

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*GIVEAWAY* Rub a Dub Dub – Taslie Skin Care Review

Taslie Skin care Cover Photo

Both of my girls come by their love of baths honestly. There isn’t any ailment (physical or emotional) that can’t be cured with a deep and steamy bath, and while I love trying out as many different bath lotions and potions as I can get my hands on, I am VERY particular about what I lather on my munchkins. Given my product pickiness, I was really excited to have the opportunity to take Taslie Skin Care‘s products for a test drive!

My girls love to splash in the bath each night as part of their bedtime routine but we definitely don’t feel the need for suds every time. Since my youngest is also prone to dry skin, we save the soap for the messiest of messes, and opt for a water only spray off otherwise. Lotion, in the other hand is something that we use often to keep her skin silky smooth.

Even though I had my 16 month old in mind when testing Taslie’s products, my 5 year old grabbed the soap right off the bat when she got in the bath and popped open the top. “Mommy it smells deeeeelicous!!” and she proceeded to smell herself every 5 seconds until she fell asleep. Two big thumbs (and nostrils) up from her!

My youngest munchkin doesn’t have as many words to express what she likes, but her skin speaks volumes. She loves lathering herself with the soap in the bath and it washes off nicely, no tears. Since we’ve started using the soap and lotion 4 weeks ago we have had no rough or dry patches and that is such big deal!

Taslie Skin Care checks off everything on your checklist with:
- Organic, natural and chemical free ingredients
- Free of Sodium Laureth Sulphates, Lanolin, Parabens, or Synthetic Colours
- Made in Canada
- A beautiful smell with no artificial perfumes/scents
- Not tested on animals
- Uses sustainable packaging free of phthalates and hand painted with lead free paint
- Great price point
- Easy online ordering

Taslie Skin Care featured as a top summer pick in July 11th's issue of Life & Style Magazine.

Taslie Skin Care featured as a top summer pick in July 11th’s issue of Life & Style Magazine.

 

Because I love Taslie’s products so much, and y’all know I love my readers, I’m SO happy to run this awesome giveaway! One lucky winner will get to browse their fantastic product line up and choose 2 for themselves!

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All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers.

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Toddlers On A Plane: 7 Tips & Must Haves for Traveling with Toddlers

 

7 Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Samuel L Jackson and his snakes have nothing on toddlers when it comes to striking fear into the heart of any traveller. There are few things that parents dread more than boarding a plane with a child between the ages of birth to 4 years old, but the crawling through bribable ages seem to be particularly difficult. Having logged many miles with my 2 girls (now 5.5 and 1.5 years old), I’ve discovered a few tricks that work well for keeping even the most tyrannical traveling toddler tied up for hours.

 

Food: Choose snacks that are treats for your child - ones that are out of the ordinary from their dietary routine. No mess is also definitely a must so we pick things like dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots), cereal sized nibbles (Cheerios, fruit and veggie bites or puffs), and mini babybels. Everything can be a game, and food is no exception. I packed just a few pieces into several small containers and kept the sources hidden. I chose containers with different styled lids – pry lids, snap lids, twist lids etc. The small amounts kept mess at bay and kept her entertained opening each new container!

These containers make for a great 'Tops & Bottoms' game with fun food treats

These containers make for a great ‘Tops & Bottoms’ game with fun food treats

 

Fine Motor Play: Toddlers go through a significant fine motor sensitive period so you can use this to your advantage when choosing those few brand new toys that everyone recommends for travelling with children. I found a second-hand Mr Potato Head and an inexpensive shape sorter at Wal-Mart that were both big hits with my daughter. That they both self contain their pieces was a traveling bonus!

Fine Motor Fun!

Fine Motor Fun!

 

Books: Books are always a big hit in our house and are relatively compact for traveling purposes. I lucked out finding an awesome Curious George book full of mirrors, as well as a lift the flap book that fit right into the fine motor theme. Toddler Jackpot!

We love life the flap books!

We love lift the flap books!

 

Seats & Aisles: If your toddler is anything like mine, making time and space for gross motor movement is essential – even on a plane! Since our youngest is still under 2, and we’re cheap, we don’t pay a seat for her so we play the lottery. We check in online right at the beginning of the 24 hour window and leave an empty seat in our row, hoping no one else books it. We have been lucky so far, and that gives our climber space to go up, down and around without disturbing others. We also take opportunities between food/drink service to take little walks up and down the aisles to stretch her legs and give a change of scenery. Often we’ll find other munchkins the same age which gives us another way to pass some time!

 

Comfort Items: Our oldest was a boob girl so her comfort items were always packed (ha ha), but our youngest is a bottle and soother kiddo so I make sure we have an empty bottle packed and 1 or 2 packages (2-4 soothers total) on hand as they do get dropped and I refuse to put anything in my child’s mouth that has touched an airplane floor. Blech. Most airlines will give you free milk for a bottle and even warm it up for you. My youngest really prefers to sleep in her bed so if we’re travelling over a nap or bedtime, I also bring her blanket to help her understand bedtime signals even when in a chaotic environment. Sometimes it works, sometimes she only falls asleep 10 minutes before deplaning.

Creature Comforts

Electronics: I save the iPad and phone as last resorts partly because they don’t always need them to make it through a trip, but mostly because I know once they come out, they won’t be given up without a fight. My toddler is in a big animal phase right now, so I found some great, free apps that have real animal photos, say the name and make the sound. She was in love. My kids have also been in heaven exploring Netflix since I recently joined the #StreamTeam.They are easily entertained on the go, and I love how much Canadian content they have that doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out. Many of their favourites like Team Umizoom and Super Why! not only have great educational content, but were also filmed or produced in Canada or feature Canadian talent. Win-Win! While WiFi is slowly coming to airlines worldwide, we also love catching up on shows during those long airport layovers!

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Extra Clothes: Despite the most meticulous planning, things happen. And usually they will happen all over you. I never travel without a change of clothes for the girls and for hubby and I. There is nothing worse than being trapped on a long flight with a miserable baby while you are covered in milk, puke, pee or fill-in-the-blank. Even just a spare shirt can mean the difference between hardship and utter misery.

 

These are my tips accumulated over many many trials and errors. Tell me what helps you to survive traveling with toddlers?

 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program, and receive special perks for sharing all my family’s favourites with you, dear reader. I was not financially compensated for this post.

 

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#MyGlampingStyle: Rondalyn Resort Review

Both my hubby and I grew up camping, and I mean bare bones tent camping. The term glamping hadn’t even be invented yet and if it had, we wouldn’t have known what it was. We wanted our girls to have this experience too, but the one attempt we made, when our oldest was just 8 months old ended in disaster just a few hours after it started. Given that history, I jumped at the chance to try again when we were invited to check out Rondalyn Resort - one of the extensive network of Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities that stretch across Canada.

Nestled in the woods between Nanaimo and Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, Rondalyn Resort is a full service Campground and RV Park that also has a fully furnished cabin and brand new camping cabin options! It has a surprising number of awesome features and amenities that I have never seen in a campground before including a huge, well maintained playground, a beautiful golf course, a heated salt water pool (no word of a lie, the cleanest pool I have even encountered), a stocked fishing pond, video arcade and more.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect before we arrived because campground standards can range wildly and there really is no way of knowing (unless you stumble upon an awesome and helpful blog post like this)! I was pleasantly surprised to discover a beautiful, clean and well maintained site. Everywhere! The cabin was cozy, comfortable, clean and fully equipped with heat and air conditioning plus a kitchenette and bathroom with a shower. There was no garbage littering the campground, and despite the awesome number of dogs (not to mention wild bunnies), everyone cleaned up after themselves. The pool was immaculate as was the playground. This was such a big deal to this mama of 2 young’ins. I never felt uncomfortable or had to restrict my kids play in any way. They were safe and free to roam, which they did from sun up to sun down. We were never bored and yet there was still lots of time for the adults to relax too. Everyone was so friendly and welcomed the girls as they wandered around looking to meet new people and pets.

Because Rondalyn is so well situated, there is lots to explore within a short drive of the cabin. We took a trip into Ladysmith for their annual Kids Pirate Day which delighted the girls with face painting, bouncy castles and a petting zoo. The convenient location also means that the ferry to the mainland is only a short 20 minute drive away, making it an easy trip for all Lower Mainlanders including our 2 car hating kids.

So if glamping is on your summer bucket list, check it off at Rondalyn Resort. You can find the super reasonable rates for the camping and furnished cabins here, and the tent and RV sites here. Parkbridge really does have something for everyone from young families to retiree’s, boaters to landlubbers and you can find the full listing of community styles and locations here. Search #glamping and #myglampingstyle on Twitter and Instagram to see more of our amazing stay as well as other reviews across Canada too! I would highly recommend Rondalyn Resort of a relaxing family getaway at an unbeatable price.

All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers.

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*GIVEAWAY* Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp from M Acadamy

M Acadamy's Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp

For the last month, we have been hit over the head repeatedly with message after message about enrolling our kids in day camp. There are a million and one day camps out there now, literally anything you can imagine is a day camp for kids. Music. Cooking. Circus. Parkour. Swordfighting (I kid you not). Marketing. Hey now…….that sounds like something I can get behind! Its about time there was a day camp for grown ups! From the brilliant minds that brought you MWorkLab comes M Acadamy and their awesome line up of workshops and day camps. We are especially excited about the upcoming Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp!

Covering everything from social media to alternate revenue streams to fresh and exciting marketing ideas, you will walk in with your laptop and a business idea, and walk out with a 6 month marketing plan, a handful of new connections, a head full of inspiration and a belly full of yummy lunch and refreshments (yes that’s all included)! If that wasn’t enough, M Acadamy students have access to community partners, discounts and other great perks.

Guy Kawasaki (Apple Co-Founder) said “If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing {and M Acadamy’s Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp}”. Ok, I may have taken some creative license with that last bit, but the sentiment is true. So let’s roll up our sleeves, set some goals, make some money and learn how to give our businesses the marketing jump start they need! M Acadamy’s Kick Ass Marketing Day Camp is competitively priced at $97 for the entire 6 hour program, lunch and refreshments, wifi and parking – the works! And because we know you love giveaways, one lucky reader will join me for free, so we can kick ass together.

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*Giveaway* Hyak White Water Rafting Review

YVR Bloggers Hyak Rafting Group Photo (bus) on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Did you know that there is no official term for a fear of boats? There is the fear of the ocean (thalassophobia), fear of water (hydrophobia), and fear of dying (thanatophobia) but nothing coined for a fear of boats. Whatever they end up naming it, I have it. For as long as I can remember, I have hated boats. Big or small, I loathe them all. So when Ricky Shetty put out the invitation to join a YVR Bloggers white water rafting trip with Hyak Rafting, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! Wait. What?

Thumbs up selfie at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

You heard me right, I said yes. And immediately regretted it. I’m sure you’re wondering why I volunteered, and it boils down to one word (well one acronym). FOMO. Even more than I fear boats, I have an unrelenting fear of missing out. I want to be involved in as much as possible, get out there and join in! Additionally, I’ve been working hard over the last year or so not to let fear make decisions for me (FOMO aside, it doesn’t count), so instead of reneging on my sign up, I packed my gear and drove myself out to Chilliwack on a breezy, cool morning and prayed for the best!

Instructions at Hyak Rafting on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

How Not To Kill Yourself

Once everyone arrived, and the requisite group photos and selfies were taken, we were given an agenda overview and safety chat from one of the Hyak guides. I firmly believe that they chose the cute Aussie with the gorgeous accent to give the terrifying instructions so it doesn’t sink in exactly what you are getting yourself into. Which turned out to be a super unflattering wet suit! Following a 20 minute bus ride out to the river, further training on how not to die, it was time to get in the water.

YVR Bloggers in wetsuits at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Everyone looks good in wetsuits! (and a photo bomb from Jess)

This is where the rubber hit the road, or perhaps the paddle hits the water. This is where I lie in the bottom of the boat praying for land. This is where I hang over the side of the raft losing what little breakfast I managed to swallow. This is where…… I have the time of my life? IT WAS AWESOME!!!!! And not just because of the super cute guides with amazing accents. I honestly wasn’t scared once from the start to the finish. It was at times relaxing, thrilling, hilarious, challenging and so much more. They eased us into it with a 30 minute paddle before we stopped off for a beautiful hike up to a waterfall and hot spring. We followed that with another 45 minutes of rafting before stopping for a much-needed buffet lunch with a riverside backdrop.

YVR Bloggers Rafting Collage at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Our Trip Begins!

Riverside Lunch at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Lunch tastes so much better after risking life and limb

The last 90 minutes of rafting gave us the biggest rapids, all grade 4+, and in all honesty, when it was over, I just wanted to go back and do it all over again! I was so proud of myself, and so grateful for the guide who put me at ease, made me feel safe, and my fellow rafters who had me in stitches and made the trip so much fun!

Rapids Up Close at Hyak Rafting on Life Love and the Pursuit of Play

Rapids Up Close (Photo Credit hellovancity.com)

So whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a scaredy cat like me, you will love Hyak rafting. And lucky for you, you have an opportunity to win your very own river rafting trip with Hyak Rafting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

These are the awesome bloggers who joined me on the trip; show them some love and read what they thought of their Hyak experience! (missing links coming shortly):

1) Artiden – Grace Miles

2) Butterfly Networking – Carla McNeil

3) Explore – Ryan McKenzie

4) Girl in the World – Kristin Warkentin

5) Global Optimist – Robin Wong

6) Hello Vancity – James Chung

7) In Your Pocket Media – Jessica Hugh

8) Labyrinth Lady – Diana Ng

9) Daddy Blogger – Ricky Shetty

10) Miss Leslie Santos – Leslie Santos

11) More Than Your Average Mom – Sarah Kertcher

12) Seasonal Leaf Design – Reena Venkatesh

13) She’s a Valley Mom – Kristyl Clark

14) The Motherpreneur – Christina Waschko

 

You can also check out this awesome video from fellow blogger/rafter Ryan McKenzie of Explore Mag

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All on the table disclaimer: While I did receive free or discounted products/services, all opinions are completely honest and totally my own and you know I would never share anything less than superbly stellar with all my fave readers. 

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Top 20 Father’s Day Songs

In celebration of Father’s Day, I put together a playlist of some of my favourite songs about Daddies. Some are happy, many are sad (what is it about Dads that brings out the tears??), so grab your kleenex and enjoy! The entire playlist can be found here on my brand spankin’ new YouTube channel.

Father’s Day Playlist

  1. Brian McFadden – Sorry, Love Daddy
  2. Luther Vandross – Dance With My Father Again
  3. Peter Cetera – Apple Of Your Daddy’s Eye
  4. Steven Curtis Chapman – Cinderella
  5. John Mayer – Daughters
  6. Crystal Shawanda – You Can Let Go
  7. Eric Clapton – My Father’s Eyes
  8. Darius Rucker – It Won’t Be Like This For Long
  9. Billy Joel – Lullabye
  10. Jon Barker – Thank-you For Being My Dad
  11. Queen – Father to Son
  12. Lonestar – Let Them Be Little
  13. Paul Simon – Father and Daughter
  14. Harry Chapin – Cats In The Cradle
  15. Keith Urban – Song For Dad
  16. Colin Hay – Dear Father
  17. Steve Earle – Remember Me
  18. Peter Gabriel – Father, Son
  19. Martin Sexton – Friends Again
  20. Sanctus Real – Lead Me

What is your favourite song on the list? What would you add?

Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome Dads out there!