Daddy

CBC Canada Writes Feature: The Urban Daddy. Bringing the modern dad to the blogosphere


While away on vacation with the family, this article was posted on the CBC website, under the Canada Writes section. It was written by Jennifer Warren, who is an amazing writer and she took my words, my thoughts and my ramblings and turned them into gold. For that I will always be grateful.

The link to the original article is right here; http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/2014/08/bringing-the-modern-dad-to-the-blogosphere.html

The article on me, The Urban Daddy, and my business, inTAXicating Tax Services and is below;

“Bringing the Modern Dad to the Blogosphere:

By day, Warren Orlans is a mild-mannered tax consultant, shoehorning in time to be a hands-on dad to his three young children and to helm an impressive backyard vegetable garden. But by night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m., to be exact) he morphs into The Urban Daddy, blogging on everything from why a child whose age is less than your shoe size feels the constant need to correct you to the parenting situation that leads you to eat a nibbled, warm banana.

As part of our Canada Blogs series on great Canadian blogs, we chatted with Warren about handling your private blog going public, falling asleep mid-post and why daddy bloggers may be coming out of the woodwork.

Warren Orlans, aka, The Urban Daddy with children

When and why did you start The Urban Daddy?

I started The Urban Daddy in 2004, just before my first son was born. I wanted to keep a diary of my wife’s pregnancy, what it was like being a father for the first time, and other related, or non-related, events that caught my attention at that time. The blog was kept private for four years until a colleague caught wind of it and it became very public.

I also started writing The Urban Daddy to work on my grammar and punctuation, which were not strong points for me in school. I have come a LONG way from my earlier posts, and the few who followed me from post #1 through post #1,000 have commented on the huge difference in my writing.

You’re a very hands-on dad. What kinds of reactions do you get from people about this? Do you find there’s still some bias towards dads being so involved in parenting?

I am as hands on as I can be because I love being a dad, and I want to spend more time with my kids than my father was able to. I know life can be very short—my dad passed away at the age of 62, so he was at our wedding but did not get to see any of my children. I do not want my children to not have had the opportunity to know me, to learn from me and to be taught some of the wonderful traits that were passed on to my from my mother: respect, consequences of actions, and that others are entitled to their own opinions and sometimes it’s best to listen, smile and not say anything.

I also see many other dads hanging around their kids’ classes, at least in my community. I see it more and more. I don’t judge those who can or cannot be there—we all have choices to make—and I do not feel that there are people judging me for being there as often as I am. Or maybe I just convince myself that anyone judging me must be thinking how successful I am that I have the free time to participate in my kids’ lives so much.


There are a lot of “mommy” blogs out there, but not so many “daddy” blogs. Why do you think this is?

I usually do not mention my blogging because I long felt that I was a “fraud” by blogging standards, being a “daddy blogger.” Early on I was at a gathering with a bunch of friends (all new dads as well) and one father said, “I think people who blog are narcissistic and do so only to brag about themselves.” From that point on, I kept it to myself.

Nowadays, especially after being featured in The Globe and Mail and Canadian Living, I don’t hide anything. It’s what I like to do no matter what anyone thinks.

I do have mothers coming up to me and asking me if I blog, and the reaction from them is usually one of surprise and support. I get a lot of positive feedback from mothers and from involved dads, who by choice or necessity are more involved than dads who leave for work before their kids wake up and who return home after the kids are in bed.

You tell a lot of personal stories about your wife and family. Where do you draw the line in what you do and don’t write about?

When my blog was hidden, I had no boundaries, until one day a colleague at the government asked a very personal question that they would have only known to ask through my blog. From that point on, I treat each and every post as if it were very public and I think about how my kids would feel as adults reading it. Would they want me talking about embarrassing things, or just telling stories and highlighting milestones?

How does your family feel about your blog?

My family likes the blogging—some more than others—because I relay stories about my children that I’ve sometimes forgotten to tell them. I also do not air dirty laundry on my blog, so there are very few posts where I am venting about my family.

I think they are amazed at the attention The Urban Daddy has been getting over the past few years more than anything. I have never seen myself as a writer, and I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read and comment on posts because there are so many other things they could be doing, but they are reading my ramblings, and I appreciate it.

You have another blog, inTAXicating. What’s the story of this blog?

InTAXicating came to me while I was working in the government and learning about how the Internet would help the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) collect money and educate taxpayers. As I progressed through collections, I was a Resource Officer for five years and that role was very technical, requiring me to understand and interpret the Income Tax Act and Excise Tax Act. In order to get the level of understanding of legislation, I started re-writing the text into “English” and posting that on my blog.

Warren face 2012

 

So you have a day job, two blogs, and three kids. How exactly do you find time for all of this?

I don’t. Having my own business has made blogging as The Urban Daddy very difficult, and I have almost 200 posts sitting in my draft folder, in need of a good review. Prior to that I would generally blog from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and I would schedule my posts to come out during the course of the week. When my first son was born, I was doing my MBA online and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. was my time to work once everyone went to sleep, so I maintained that time as my time to get posts written.

Now I find I have so much work to do for my business that I spend time working on that instead of the blogging. But it changes, and sometimes I get extra time to bang out a post or two.

I’ve started going back to edit old posts, and I’ve found some where I clearly fell asleep in the middle of typing but posted them anyway. It’s a great reminder of my exhaustion back then.

What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?

Do not get discouraged and do not write for others. Write for yourself first and try not to fret when only one or two readers come by your blog in a day, week or month. It takes time to build up a following. Reply to comments, follow other blogs, read them if you have the time and figure out what you want from your blog.

If you want to win awards, get hundreds of thousands of followers and use it to step up to a more prolific role, then stick to a topic or theme and write about it, and it only.

If you want your blog to be a journal to look at as your kids get older or to record things you might need, then write for the love of writing. If more comes of it, just say thank you and continue doing what you love doing.

All images courtesy of Warren Orlans and The Urban Daddy.”

•Check out The Urban Daddy »

Visit inTAXicating Blog

Head over to the CBC Canada Writes Site to discover more great Canadian blogs »  Please.

Thursday Thirteen Returns! The 13 Items Parents MUST Keep Away From Children


I know what you are thinking already… You have just clicked through and dammit, you want to be educated and impressed by 13 items which MUST be kept away from kids, and you do NOT want to see the same obvious items that other bloggers include, like; fire, axes, switchblades, or acid on this list.

Good. You must read on!

None of those even made this list.

What did make this list, are 13 things which new parents really need to keep away from their children, and trust me when I say that us, experienced or established parents, are nodding along in understanding. You will be amazed with this list, and you will want to follow it! Each and every item on this list!

You’re welcome.

So sight tight, and be prepared to be educated. In The Urban Daddy household we don’t just quiz each other about mathematics for fun, we also drive mummy and daddy crazy by taking these items… often.

Here is THE list of things to keep out of the hands or sight lines of children at all times:

13) Paper – new paper, coloured paper, paper from the recycle bin, paper with bills on it, or from our offices. If it’s paper, then it must be okay to draw / colour / fold / crumple or pour liquids on. Once children understand they can do this, it does not stop at scrap paper. They will colour or write on calendars, important papers for the office, papers for school, items belonging to others and so much more. If they want paper, give it to them in a controlled setting. Don’t let them see where it came from.

12) Band-Aids – “I have a boo boo” means, I want a Band-Aid. The worst part is finding the wrappers and peels all over the house and when you need a Band-Aid finding the box empty, and only Hello Kitty or Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles available. They take them to their rooms, they cover their body with them.

11) Money – It is very important to teach children about money. I have a lot of posts throughout my blog relating to this very topic. But be careful because once they realize that money is a scarce resource and that you have to EARN it, they always find other ways to get money, like taking it from their siblings, from you, family members and searching the earth for money. Just last week my kids were peeking under the vending machines at the RINX sports complex in Toronto and yes, they came up for $4.55. Still… My 1923 penny has disappeared as has the toonies in my “hidden” drawer…

10) Elastics – I made this a completely separate item, not included in officer supplies, because elastics, like paper clips often disappear and are found tied together, in one long massive strand, usually when I really need one. The kids play with these and ultimately use them as weapons. Best to keep away.

9) String – My oldest has always liked tying things together. From as young as I could remember, but when he was 3 1/2, I came out of the family room to see his toys being lifted from the basement all the way up to the top floor via a make-shift pulley system he had created. It’s never ended. Pulleys, zip-lines, clothes lines, he has created it all. He has also set up booby-traps for his brother and sister and tied every piece of string from the lacing toy together time and time again. If there is string in the house, at one time it was tied tightly to his next adventure.

8) Zip Baggies – Not for the reason you might think – choking hazards – but rather because once my kids found out how useful Ziploc baggies were, we could not keep track of them. Toys were zipped together, rocks, dirt, bugs, garbage, and especially paper, all stuck in baggies. Even when I hid the baggies, they found them and used them all up.

7) Kleenex – First it’s 5 Kleenex to wipe their nose, then they get older and it’s a box of Kleenex because it’s fun to pull them out. Now I cannot find a box of tissues anywhere in my house when I need one! I could, however, open up a drawer and find 1000 loose ones sitting there…

6) Dental floss – Flossing is VERY important, and pulling floss out of the container is a LOT of fun. Putting it back…. Not so much. I’ll never forget the site of my wife’s late cat, Lucie, walking down the hall with a piece of her poo trailing her by about 3 feet stuck on a piece of dental floss she had eaten. I had to pull out the other foot… UGH.

5) The hiding spot for anything – If it’s hidden they find it, and they go back regularly to look for more.

4) How to erase from a PVR – My mistake because I came downstairs one night after everyone had gone to sleep to find all of my wrestling that I had recorded gone and the PVR full of kids TV shows…

3) Tape – First they tape paper, then more paper then they ask to borrow the tape and we say, “fine just go get it” and then it’s over! They tape toys, the floor, the walls, each other and viola… No tape. And it’s not just scotch brand tape either… Watch as they use duct tape in the same manner (mine have not, yet).

2) Staples – See tape above. The only difference here is they do not use it on each other but there is nothing worse than walking on the carpet and getting a staple rammed into the bottom of your foot. It’s happened so many times I’d rather not say anything except that the staples and the staples are in different places, and they must use it in front of us on the wood floor.

1) Passwords / passcodes, anything confidential that you don’t want them to know or repeat to strangers, it’s best to leave alone. They don’t understand the importance of being quiet here and they announce information to everyone and anyone.

Honourable mention to shampoo and soap because a new bottle one week is empty the next but no dirt has been removed from their hands… Funny how that works.

What is dangerous in the hands of your kids?

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things That Happened While My Kids Were Away at Camp Arowhon


My children are growing up!  My boys actually went away to sleepover camp for just under 2-weeks earlier this summer and that marked the first time my middle son was away from us for longer than one day.  My oldest son had been away for a weekend at camp but never anything this long.  I think we worried more than they did, to be honest.

We got them ready for camp at the end of last summer but talking about it a lot, and spending considerable amounts of time speak with different camps and upon deciding on Camp Arowhon we then spent 304 more months getting them ready and buying the stuff they needed for their stay.

We chose Camp Arowhon because of the owner, Joanna Kates’ views on bullying.  She has a zero-tolerance policy and she also carefully chooses councillors and who attends the camp.  It almost felt like we had to get the go ahead nod before we wrote that cheque and there were times when I was not sure we were going to be allowed to send our kids there.

In the end it was all worth while as the kids loved it there.  They rode horses, sailed, learned to canoe, paddle their own kayak and most importantly they grew up.

Another wonderful feature about Arowhon is the 100% ban on electronics.  If it’s found, it’s taken away for good.  Not just for the campers but also for the councillors too.  Kids are there for fun, sun and learning, not for video games, texting and other electronic things.  The camp also does not have a parents day, there are no pictures on the website and if kids and parents wish to communicate it’s through hand-written letters.  We actually received 7 letters from our kids and sent 3 of them  That was a lot of fun too.

And the food… The food was great according to my kids.  My middle son even went as far as to say that the soup was better as good as the soup Mummy makes.  Joanne, if you were not aware, is the food critic for The Globe and Mail newspaper – has been for 25-years – so if anyone knows anything about good food, it’s Joanne.

So with our boys away for 12 days, we were left with our daughter – her first time as an only child – we were experiencing new and different things, so here are 13 things that happened / we did / while our sons were having the time of their lives at camp.

So sit back, grab the bug spray, leave the iPod at home, slap on the sun-screen and get read for the list!

 

  1. For the first time in her little life, our daughter had us all to her self, and she did not leave us alone for a second.  It was amazing getting to spend so much time with her, not having to share that attention with her brothers and not having to compete with them for our time.  Plus she’s still at that age where by 7pm she’s exhausted and ready for bed! .

  2. We hopped in the car and made a run for the border – crossing at Niagara Falls (no line up whatsoever) and even after being questions over and over again as to why we were heading across on a Friday morning) we went, shopped, slept, shopped some more and slide back into Canada (only one car in front of us) without a hitch..

  3. We took apart the kids bedrooms and put them back together again… Cleaner, with much less junk, and in a manner which we expect them to keep it in for at least one day when they get back.

  4. The garden grew!  Raspberries (red ones, purple ones and golden ones), green beans, yellow beans, currents… They all made an appearance and we eaten.  Yum.

9. We slept in.  All of us.  By sleeping in, I mean past 6am.  7am is about the latest I’ve slept in the last 8-years.  But 7:30am was an absolute dream!

  1. My wife and I went out… together.. on a date.  I figures since we actually had to speak to each other for 12 days, it might be nice to take advantage of the relative calm and go out.  You know what happened, folks… By 9pm we were exhausted.  But we trooped, stayed out until 11pm, then went home to sleep.

  2. We got caught up on laundry.  We washed everything!  Comforters, duvets, everything because we knew once camp was over and the house was back to 5 people, we would never catch up.

  3. I got to bed early… Twice.  Early for me used to be 11pm, but I’ve been finding that since I started my own business I never stopped having enough to do around the house, so early quickly became 2am.  I actually got in to bed at 9pm one night and by 10:30 another night.  Amazing.

5. I was outnumbered… In more than one way.  Aside from being one male to two females, many long-time readers will recall that my wife kept her last name when we got hitched, and before we had kids we agreed that any boys we had would take my last name, and any girls would take her last name.   I was in the minority.

  1. My oldest son returned with the new-found ability to play the guitar.  As a matter of fact, the day after he arrived home, he asked me this; “Daddy, is that Sweet Home Alabama playing on the radio?”  Then he said; “I can play that on the guitar!”  Sweet!

3. My middle child learned to horseback ride and he loved it!!  Who knew?!?

2. My boys grew up.  They just seemed so different.  My oldest son did not want to come home – he wanted to stay for a couple more weeks (even wrote a letter to us which arrived the day after he came home saying “send more envelopes!  I’m staying for 2 more weeks, and tell my sister I love her and I miss her.”  My younger son, clearly no longer worried about spending time away from home seemed older, more relaxed, and cooler.  Camp did him well.

As someone who never went to camp – I started working full-time in the summers when I was 14-years-old so I could buy plastic goalie pads for our street hockey games, I kept it up and paid for University.  Camp would have been nice, but University was better.  Now that I see how the kids have changed after just 12 days away, I wonder what it will be like next summer after a month away, and if this is the beginning of the kids independence.

  1. We missed them!  Not at first and not always but in those moments when the chaos slows down and we get to breathe, live, relax and look around we realize what a huge part of our lives those children have become and we miss having them around to share with, listen to and teach.

Now they’re back and we get to talk about camp next year!  2 weeks or 1 month…

 

Thursday Thirteen: You’re turn! 

Did you go to camp as a kid?  What did you like the most and what did you hate?  If you did not, what did you do instead?

Is This What Brothers Do?


Parenting questions to follow:

Last year was all about Skylanders!  My children HAD to have as many game pieces as possible (and that I totally understand from my hockey card collecting days).  If their friends had 25 characters, my kids needed the same 25.  Keeping up with the Joneses, I believe.  But then came the search for the elusive Ninjini character they HAD to have.  Only one other kid had one, and he got it from the United States.  Ninjini was selling on eBay for $80.00 and my kids would have ordered them all if given the opportunity.

I finally found one by fluke, when I walked into an EB Games location in downtown Toronto, but by the time I let the kids open her (only a week as I contemplated selling her on eBay) their interest in Skylanders was waning because the new phase of Skylanders were coming – Swap Force – and no one wanted to play with the older once anymore.

Geez.

In fact, Linus would play the game and Stewie would watch… for hours. Sometimes. Boo would use the character names or expressions and we would laugh because it was funny coming from someone who never played the game.

In our house, that fad has fizzled.

Now it’s all about Pokémon.

First Linus, the oldest, became interested, then midway through the school year, Stewie expressed his interest in collecting the cards and learning to play the game with his classmates.

What I don’t understand – and it might just be because they are brothers – and I don’t have a brother, is that they trade cards, they give away cards and they steal each others cards.

What’s up with that?

Do they not understand that if one kid has a gold card in their room at 9am, and by noon that card is missing that it is painfully obvious that the other took it?

But they deny it.

They yell.

They scream.

They accuse.

They write notes to each other.

They send each other bills for the missing cards based on a value clearly decided upon while reading a Richie Rich comic ($1,000,000).

Then the card(s) turn up with an elaborate story involving wind currents, forgetfulness, and finger-pointing at anyone and everyone but themselves.

We know what’s going on.

They know what’s going on.

Why do they do it?

Is this what brothers do?

When a Parents Says: “You Can Go Play With Your Neighbour AFTER Lunch”, Here is What a Child Hears…


On the weekend our children get up nice and early.  6am, usually, but 5am is not out of the question.

I believe we have convinced them not to come wake us (or each other) at that time, but I could be very wrong about that since they may not come and wake us up, but they certainly wake us through playing, talking and laughing.

Aside: Parents – How many of you also have become light sleepers as a result of your kids walking, talking, crying, calling, etc., in the middle of the night?

So after a 5:30am wake-up and plenty of playing around the house, my daughter Boo decided that she HAD to go visit our neighbour 2-doors down for a playdate.  These girls have become best friends, they go to the same school, were in the same class and we would walk to school together in the mornings.

But at 8am, it’s not nice to knock on someone’s door and invite yourself in.

“After lunch.” We told her.

“You can have a playdate with the neighbour, but after lunch.”

What she and her brother Stewie heard is a completely different story…

10 minutes later, the front door opened and by the time I got to the door, I saw Stewie entering the neighbours house, with no sign of Boo.

“Stewie!” I called out.  “Where is Boo?”

“Inside” he yelled back.

“Absolutely not!” I replied.  “It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and I said you had to wait until after lunch!  Get Boo and come back home!”


Both kids came back home and were greeted at the door by myself and my wife.

“What are you doing?” I asked.  “We said you could not go until after lunch.  It is only 8 o’clock in the morning!”

“We just finished lunch” was Boo’s reply.  “We ate breakfast at 6am, and were hungry again, so we just ate lunch.  You said we could go after lunch.”

Yes.

Yes, we did.