A Change at The Urban Daddy Blog: Bye Bye Berry. Welcome Boo.


Change is good when it makes sense, and this change makes sense.

When my youngest child and only daughter, Berry was born almost 3 years ago I tried to figure out a nickname for her that would best suit her personality but as all you parents know, it takes time for the personality to come out and it’s ever-changing from there.

Yes, Berry is our third (and last child) and yes, she is the little sister to 7-year-old Linus and 5-year-old Stewie so we all knew she was going to be spoiled rotten but there was no way I was going to call her “Princess” or anything sickly sweet like that because frankly that’s not the way we roll.  The only princess my daughter is going to be – and you can ask her, is; “Princess Leia because she carries a blaster.”

So officially I am changing her character name to “Boo”.

Why Boo, you ask???

Here’s why, and sorry for the long-version…

On Monday night we returned from an extended vacation in Florida.  We spent a week at Walt Disney World in Orlando (we were there for a Bat Mitzvah and used that opportunity to plan this trip).  After a very hot, tiring and fun week we drove 4 hours south to Fort Lauderdale and spent the next week on the massive Oasis of the Seas cruise ship.  After that we found ourselves with an extra day in Fort Lauderdale before our flight home and Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on the state.  Our flight back to Toronto was cancelled and the next flight out was September 1st (5 more days).  So at 3 in the morning we got up, threw the kids and bags in a rental car and drove 7 hours north-west to Tampa to catch a plane home.

We’re home.  Whew.

So what does that have to do with Boo?  Context, really.

During our stay in Disney we hit up an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom called Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.  I was skeptical at first that this kid-focused comedy show would be funny.  It was hosted on a digital stage by “monster” Mike Wazowski and this attractions essentially is a comedy club for visiting humans.  Inspired by the Disney·Pixar movie Monsters, Inc., the audience helps the “Monster of Ceremonies” Mike Wazowski and his wild and crazy pals power the city of Monstropolis—with laughter! (If you have seen the movie, you get it.  If not… Sorry).  Mike’s manager Roz, however, isn’t so sure Mike can pull it off.

The cool part of this attraction is that the digital characters trade jokes with audience members who can tweet in their jokes, or magically appear on the screen to be made fun of.  It was actually quite funny.

At one point in the show, they focus the cameras on a child in the audience to be Boo, a three-year-old human child who has escaped from her room from which one of the characters tried to kidnap her.  For the rest of the film, Mike and a character called Sulley try to get her back to safety.

The bad guys use Boo’s screams for power to run their world through the Scream Extractor until Mike and Sulley save her and in trying to get her back to her room, they realize her laughs generate more power than her screams.  Boo also overcomes her fear of monsters.

Here is Boo;

coincidentally, Berry had pigtails that day, and well at almost three-years-old with brown hair, she was a dead ringer for the Boo character and after seeing herself on the huge screen, she smiled, shrugged her shoulders in a flirty-way and the audience let out a giant “Awwwwwwwww.”

She was SO cute!

When we were walking through the park, I heard someone say; “Look.  That’s Boo from the show.”

Below is a link to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show that I found on YouTube.  Have a look at the clip if you wish to see how they picked people from the audience to interact with, make fun of and engage in order to get as much laughter from the “humans” to power their Metropolis.

This clip does not have a “Boo” in it, but you can see the size of the screens and how close (and clear) the people are that they feature from the audience;  http://youtu.be/bxgS728pCXg.

So please join me in welcoming Boo to The Urban Daddy blog.

Repost from June 13th, 2006. Someone took credit for my work… Now what?


It’s not like I’m new in the workforce or new to the organization… I work for the Canadian Revenue Agency and I’ve been here for 8 years. I am also 2 years into my MBA so I understand how organizations work, especially how to get the most out of people.

This situation happened to me today and it blew me away. I let it go, because I’m a team player and to be honest I don’t need to toot my own horn… My work does that on a daily basis. But today, after spending quite a bit of time discussing a complex matter with a team leader I when I came across them later in the day they were explaining to a group of people how to solve the problem but instead of saying where the solution came from, I heard this TL use “I” a lot… Too much actually.

This TL took pretty much everything I said and used it to take credit for solving this problem. He even went as far as to indicate that the problem was fixed by him too and that he reviewed it, researched it them solved it…

Hmmmm.

What I found most odd, was that he didn’t know I was there and when I corrected him on a misrepresentation of the facts – you would think he would stop now, but no, he just kept on embellishing the story to make it sound even more impressive.

I wanted to speak up, but I had to leave.

If you have to depend on someone else’s thoughts, words or writings to make your own life interesting that’s fine, just give credit where credit is due or you sound like a giant asshole.

What would you have done? Remember this is a unionized environment…

Things You Need to Know When Hiring a Live-Out Caregiver in Canada


So you do not want to have a live-in caregiver through the Canadian live-in caregiver program, and decide instead to go the live-out route.  Well below are some things you will need to know when hiring a live-out caregiver in Canada.

1. If you are thinking about circumventing the rules and paying your nanny cash, remember this is a lose-lose situation.  First of all, if the government catches you not only will they assess you and make you pay the amounts which should have been paid to the CRA, such as paying tax, contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and buying workplace insurance, but they will make you pay the employee portion as well.  In addition, you lose the $7,000 deduction on your taxes, and your nanny loses her right to collect Employment Insurance if she gets laid off.

What usually happens in that case is the nanny gets laid off, tries to collect EI, is informed by HRSDC that she is not entitled because she has not been paying into the plan at which point she provides records of payments and then the government is looking for you.  Yes, it is more difficult to do but it also rarely ends well.

2.  Make sure you have a HRSDC approved labour contract clearly spelling out the details of the job, much as you would sign with your employer.  It’s all the same.  They’re generally categorized as domestic workers and they have rights to feedback, clearly defined breaks, details around pay, vacation, overtime, expectations, roles and responsibilities.  Long gone thankfully are the days where potential employers feel that Canada is better than Hong Kong so it’s okay to stretch working hours, responsibilities or ignore breaks.  Getting an agreed upon contract creates good relations between you and outlines exactly everything which can keep you from getting in trouble down the road.

3.  What do I need to know about paying my nanny?  Well, as the employer, nannies are not self-employed, you have to treat them in a manner in which you would want to be treated and that means with respect.  You negotiate the contract and if there are issues with performance, you have to address them in a respectful manner, much in the same way your employee has venues to complain about your treatment, including suing you for wrongful dismissal.

This step-by-step guide to payroll deductions should help getting you on the way and around the fear of the CRA;

Step 1 - Call 1.866.959.5525, the Canada Revenue Agency business help line, follow the prompts for payroll / source deductions accounts and ask the customer services representative for a business (or BN) number.

Step 2 – You have the BN set up in your name, so now you need the information on your one employee, your nanny.  Gather from her on the contract her full name, SIN and live-out address.  You’ll need this later…

Step 3 – Next you will need to figure out how much you will need to remit to the CRA each month.  You can do this by entering the amount you have paid your nanny into the CRA payroll calculator; http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/pyrll/tbls-eng.html.  The calculator breaks down how much you will need to remit for taxes, EI and CPP.  This link also provides other information on being an employer, rights and responsibilities.  Read this if you have time or need something to help you get to sleep.

Step 4 – Monthly remittance of the held back funds (deductions of source pay).  By the 15th of month you will be filling out the remittance voucher sent to you from the CRA – unless you sign up to remit online (check My Account).  You remit on the 15th for the previous month, so on June 15th you are remitting for May 1st to 31st.  On the form you need the gross pay, net pay, EI, CPP, month remitting for, number of employees and tax withheld.  For me, the quickest is to take that to the bank on the 15th (16th if the 15th is a Sunday, 17th if the 15th is a Saturday, and 18th if the Monday is a holiday and the 15th is the Saturday.  The bank stamps the form, takes the funds from my account and takes the remittance voucher.  Done.

Step 5 - Keep the copy of the remittance voucher with the bank stamp in a file as you’ll need it when filing your personal income taxes (T1) each year and providing your nanny a T4 by February 28th of the following year.

4. Most often asked questions surround legal obligations, such as; when ending a contract with your nanny, if she gets sick, falls pregnant or gives notice.  First off, be sure that the contract with your nanny establishes the length of notice needed if one of you wants to end your working relationship. Any penalties for not meeting that notice period should be spelled out in your contract too.  As for the other things, just put your self in her shoes and change the employer from you to a large firm.  Would your employer allow you to take short-term disability time off or long-term disability time off?  Absolutely!  By law they are required to and the same goes for your caregiver.  If she falls pregnant you cannot fire her for the same reasons.  If you need help, seek an employment lawyer.

But with all that being said, if the separation is mutually agreed upon, remember you will need to provide your nanny with a Record of Employment (ROE) within 8 days of her last day of work.  Don’t wait!  This is a controlled form to prevent EI fraud, so reach out to Service Canada right away and they will send you a kit with the details on how to do this.

5.  Where can I get a contract?  I recommend Googling “HRSDC approved nanny contract.”  It will lead you to complete the key sections of  the contract which cause the most headaches down the road, specifically; Overtime, training, duties she cannot legally perform for me, tracking of expenses – petty cash, and holiday pay.

 

I hope this provides some insight and helps clear up some lingering issues around what to do with live-out caregivers in Canada.  All in all, just remember to treat your employee with the same respect you would want to be treated as an employee.  Karma’s a bitch!

5 Ways Nannies Can Help Divorced Parents – Reprinted with permission


I came across this interesting article from Hireananny.com and while not divorced, I thought there were some interesting points made in this post and wanted to re-post it here.  Permission was granted.

The link to the original article is here.

http://www.hireananny.com/blog/5-ways-nannies-can-help-divorced-parents/

Essentially, this post outlines how nannies help divorced couples ensure their child(ren) don’t get lost during this difficult time of their lives in 5 key ways.

1. Nannies can provide consistency of care.

We all know that with children of all ages it’s the routine that is key.  Bedtime routine, homework routine, daily and weekly chores, etc.  All of this is crucial to teaching children about consistency so it makes absolute sense how a nanny can help here.  By being there during separation and divorce and providing a schedule or routine for the child(ren) this allows the kid(s) to have that consistency while everything around them has changed.

2. Nannies can provide a sense of stability.

I can see where this is also an important unheralded role of a nanny when, as described above, everything in a child’s life is changing and the nanny remains the same.  It not only gives the child(ren) a non-partisan sounding board but it helps smooth out the chaos and disruption that ensues until both parental units and settled and have agreed upon the parenting roles going forward.

3. Nannies can advocate for the children.

 This point is probably the most important because the role of the nanny is to look after the best interest of the child(ren) regardless of the situation and especially in situations where the parents are not getting along the nanny can step forward and discuss with each party the issues relating to the kid(s) and can also alert the parents of any changes in the child(s) behaviour.  The nanny sees the child the most consistently so they would see behaviour issues, social issues, changes in the child’s physical being or any other concerns, milestones or warning signs.

4. Nannies can reassure children that it’s not their fault.

I think this point goes without saying that a nanny can help explain to a child that during the breakup of their parent’s marriage it is NOT the fault of the child.  Emotions on the parental unit’s sides may be too high and there may be a lot of finger-pointing and this is exactly the point when children need support and reinforcement telling them it’s not their fault.

5. Nannies can facilitate communication.

 

I think at this point it goes without saying that if you are separated, or a soon to be divorced parent considering hiring a nanny, it’s important that you select a nanny who is a solid communicator.   In addition, a detailed employee contract and agreeable custody schedule shared with the nanny will go a long way towards protecting the child(ren) as much as possible during the unrest.

Hireananny.com also feels that if a parent turns to the nanny as a confidant, while tempting, is not a good idea as it blurs professional lines and may prevent the nanny from doing her job well and jeopardize her ability to always put the child’s best interests first.

Repost from February 11th, 2007. My 100th post!


Garlic bread, dinner plate and my kitchen tabl...
Garlic bread. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a repost of a February 11th, 2007 blog post, and was my 100th post at that time.  Now at around 870 I think I continued, eh?  LOL.
For nostalgia purposes, here is that very small post.

————————————————————————————-

 

WOW.

100 posts.

For those who said I would lose interest, you were W.R.O.N.G. Mind you, now that I have reached this milestone (I’d like to thank my wife and children)… Oh, and this will be the last post ever. LOL. Just kidding!!

Tonight we had our neighbour and her son over for dinner and some play time along with a girl from Linus’ school and her parents. It was really nice! I can get into these kind of playdate / meal options because it allows the kids to play and helps us as parents meet new people.

Plus… With UrbanMummy cooking, I knew it was going to be something special. The pasta she made was yummy, the salad and garlic bread most complimentary. A nice evening was had by all.

Now, I’m just cleaning some dishes, updating my iPod and re-writing my graduate school assignment so I can submit it.

Rest up everyone. I can’t… Yet.

:)