Category Archives: family

A Better Way To Teach Children The Alphabet: The Gamers Alphabet. Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!…


A better way to teach your children the alphabet!

The name of this book is “Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet”, yet I preferred to reverse part of it in the title so that it read “A Gamer’s Alphabet: Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!…”  I felt the parent who knows a thing or two about video games would catch on much quicker that this book is a great new way to teach your child(ren) the alphabet while also teaching them a thing or two about the $75 billion dollar industry that is video games (Worldwide figure – only $24 billion in North America).

As well, how many times can we tell our kids that A is for Apple and B is for Banana and C is for Capitulate (meaning to surrender under agreed conditions, AND a SAT word, no less), etc.  We’ve got to expand our children’s knowledge beyond the traditional ABC’s, and here is how!

The author, Chris Barton and artist Joey Spiotto put together a vividly illustrated guide-book packed with lucid definitions that even the most video game challenged reader can understand. Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet is the ultimate guide for players, non-players, and aficionados.  It is colourful, informative and an “entertaining visual history and a glossary of gaming”.

The book provides a solid understanding of terms that have made their way into everyday language, from “RPG” (Role Playing Game) to “mod” (Where a modification is made to the hardware or software of a game that the developer of the game had not intended).  Kids learn, and parents learn.

With lessons in modern vernacular and allusions to games every parent remembers, this book intermingles education with nostalgia for a compelling read at any age.

I have a copy and I think you should get one as well.  Pretty pictures.  Great information, and my kids love it (actually I think one of them has it right now…)
 AttackBoss2
Here is some information on the author and on the illustrator;

Chris Barton is the author of the New York Times bestseller Shark Vs. Train and the Sibert Honor-winning book, The Day-Glo Brothers. In addition to those picture books, he is the author of Can I see Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities, a young adult nonfiction thriller. His upcoming books for young readers include The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, Pioneers & Pirouettes: The Story of the First American Nutcracker, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Stream of Ideas. Chris lives in Austin, Texas. For more information, check out: www.chrisbarton.info.

Joey “Joe-bot” Spiotto has worked as a concept artist on video games such as “Dead Space” and “The Sims.” He frequently creates for Warner Brothers, Electronic Arts, Telltale Games, Gazillion, and many more. His tee shirts sell on Teefury.com, and his work is shown in the high-profile Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. “Joe-bot” has been featured in The A.V. Club, Paste, Kotaku, and many other prestigious magazines. He lives in Southern California. To read more about Joey, visit: http://jo3bot.com.

So THAT’s What Happened To The “Other” Kid…


I don’t even know where to start this gem, from my daughter…

I had cut a watermelon into chunks and was in the process of putting them into Pyrex so I could put them in the fridge when my daughter sauntered over to warm me about the perils of eating watermelon seeds;

Boo: “Daddy, be careful when you eat that watermelon not to eat the purple or the pink seeds”.

Me: “Errr, okay.  I won’t eat the purple or the pink seeds”.

Who knew...

Who knew…

Boo: “Remember my other brother, the third one (she only has 2 brother’s)?  He ate the pink and purple seeds… The pink ones!  And he turned into a watermelon and we all ate him.  Do you remember that?  I do”.

Me: Laughing.

Boo: “Yeah, I remember him.  I miss him, but he tasted good.  His name was, ummm, Josh.  Yeah.  Josh”.

Me: Still laughing.

Boo: “So, yeah, Daddy… Please don’t eat the pink or purple  seeds.  Think of poor Josh”.

Away she walked.

#Only4

 

Looking For Structure While Adding Responsibilities To The Children? See How Our School-Year Started!


Structure.

Consistency.

Responsibilities.

Independence.

All things we want our children to have, when they’re older, so they are able to lead fulfilling lives and, to be honest, so we don’t have to do everything for them.  But when is it the right time?

How about now!

A week before school started for my children – ages ranging from 9 to 4 – I started modeling the morning routine, while my wife and I continued to follow the exact same evening and bedtime routine she set in place when we had one child and he was still drooling and in diapers.  That consistency has clearly displayed our expectations of the children and it makes the time we have with them after school more organized and enjoyable.

(Nothing screams routine than the summer when for one week the kids had no programs, no camp, and were going crazy looking for things to do.  “I’m bored” was a common expression of frustration from the kids many times during each and every day.)

With all that being said, here is the schedule I presented to the children on Labour Day, and we worked through today, their first day of school.  I’m sure there will be some tweaking done, but I can say that this morning’s routine was the smoothest it has been in a long time – for them and for me!

Children’s Schedule for the 2014 / 2015 School Year.

Good Morning!

Before you come downstairs in the morning, please:
• Make Your Bed
• Get Dressed
• Clean Room / Tidy the floor

Kitchen Routine:
• Say good morning to your father and to each other
• Drink a glass / cup of water
• Have a piece of fruit
• Help with, or make your own, breakfast
• Eat it

When You Have Finished Breakfast:
• Rinse off your dishes
• Place them in the dishwasher, or
• Wash them, dry them and put them away
• Make sure your place is clean (no food on your chair or the floor)

Help with Lunches:
• Make sure your lunch box is out, and put in it;
• Nori
• Vegetables
• Apples sauce with a spoon
• Fill your water bottle

Go Upstairs To Your Bathroom:
• Wash your face
• Brush your hair
• Wait for Daddy to help you brush your teeth

*Hug and Kiss Mummy

Front door:
• Sunscreen on / Snowpants on
• Make sure your glasses are in your bag
• Place your lunch and water bottle in your bag

8am – LEAVING the house to walk to school.

Home from school:
• Wash your hands
• Bring your lunch box to the kitchen and empty it
• Put dishes in dishwasher
• Put lunchbox on the counter
• Empty your water bottle
• Put water bottle on the counter

Free Time:
• Play / read / relax / enjoy.
• NO electronics during the week
• NO TV during the week

Dinner Prep:
• Come to the kitchen to see what you can do to help with dinner
• Set the kitchen table – plates, cutlery, glasses, napkins, water, and the mats in the middle of the table

Homework Time:
• Practice piano
• Spirit of Math
• Regular homework

Dinner Time:
• When You Are Finished, Ask to be Excused
• Thank Mummy for making you another amazing dinner
• After dinner take your plate, cutlery and glass to the counter. Put your napkin in the recycling under the sink
• Rinse plate and cutlery and place in the dishwasher
• Place glass in the dishwasher

Before Bed:
• Put everything in your bag for tomorrow and place it at the front door.
• If you are having a snack, make sure you clean up properly afterwards
• Put your dirty clothes into your hamper
• Brush your teeth
• Floss
• Hugs and Kisses
• NO coming out of bed! Get a good night’s sleep for another amazing day tomorrow.

Good night and sleep tight!

We love you!

 

The kids love the schedule, although my boys prefer a much simpler routine based on the current WWE Champion Brock Lesner;

EatEatSleepConquerRepeat

Sleep

Conquer

Repeat.

 

Parents, How Often Has THIS Happened To You?


Parents, how often has THIS happened to you?

I came into my oldest son’s bedroom this morning and on his night table was not one, but 2 tubes of toothpaste.

He was still sleeping.

I had to ask, so I tapped him on the shoulder.

“Good morning Linus!” I said.

“Hi Daddy”, was his cheery reply.

“Why are there 2 tubes of toothpaste on your night table?” I asked, without judgement.

“For the commercial!” he replied.

“Oh” I said as I thought better of asking more questions. “You can sleep more if you would like”.

“Thanks Daddy”.

What’s Up With The Random Posts? A Family Vacation, Of Course!


I’ll tell you what’s up with the random posts that came infrequently to The Urban Daddy during the month of August.

VACATION!

I had a bunch of posts in my draft folder, and I scheduled them to come out while we were away on vacation.  Unfortunately, I still have about 77 more of them to get through…

As for the vacation, all 5 of us filled our backpacks up and headed out for a 19-day adventure which saw us leave Toronto and arrive in Iceland, then on to The Netherlands, Belgium and Paris, France before heading back to Toronto via Iceland. The trip was fantastic, the kids were amazing and my wife is the world’s best travel planner. Seriously.  She did not miss a single detail and I learned how to plan a vacation right down to places to eat, foods to buy, where to buy them and what souvenirs to seek out.  She’s amazing at this.

Without getting into too much detail about the trip, I can say that we loved Iceland a lot!  We rented a car, drove the Golden Circle and embraced the culture as much as we could. Icelandic people are beautiful and friendly and food is expensive, unique and tasty!

We saw waterfalls – especially the incredible Gulfoss waterfall – geysirs, hot springs and every now and then the sun would set so the kids could fall asleep.  Instead of going to the Blue Lagoon, we went to a small hot spring at the base of a mountain, just past a church and peeled off our clothes, changed into bathing suits and hopped in with a couple from Denmark.  It was very hot and very bubbly, like nothing we had ever seen before, and getting out of the water into the very cool air, we barely noticed the cold as we changed back into our clothes and walked back to the car.

We swam at night in the public pool near our rented house with the locals and warmed up in the hot pools where temperatures ranged from 37 degrees to 44 degrees.  On the food side, we all tried the famous Icelandic hot dog (only I liked them) and Boo and myself were the only brave ones to try eating whale (which I thought was delicious and a bit gamey) but she did not like at all (insert face here).  Stewie and I walked down to the bottom of the Kerið volcanic crater lake to touch the very cold blue-green water and to see there was a park bench in the water for people to sit on.  I guess volcanos, lava and waterfalls are common for the locals.  :)

From Iceland we flew to The Netherlands and spent 5 days in and around Amsterdam taking in the sites and sounds of this beautiful country packed with tourists.  We toured the Jordaan district, the Jewish district (my wife and eldest son visited Anne Frank’s house) while me and the other 2 explored our neighbourhood.  We took a day trip to beautiful Zaanse Schans to see and tour the windmills and we visited the medieval town of Bruges.

From our apartment backing onto the Vondelpark, we were close enough to pretty much everything we wanted to see, and in those 5 days, we mastered pretty much every possible method of transportation there except cycling – and we managed to not get run over or step in front of a bike on the dedicated bike paths. We took an all you can eat (Dutch) pancake boat ride plus a canal cruise, and we lucked into being there for the Pride parade on the water, which was packed and a lot of fun.

From the Netherlands, we took the train to Brussels for 5 fun days spent eating Belgium waffles, frites, chocolates and drinking the wonderful fruity beers (less than 3% alcohol).

Our apartment was close to the incredible Grand Place and we walked by the Manneqin Pis a couple of times to see what he little guy was wearing.   We visited the comic book museum, saw the Smurfs, Tin Tin and Asterix and Oblix and had a nice meal out with the kids where I had, mussels, of course (I kept thinking about the Muscles from Brussels – Jean Clause Van Dam’s line from some movie where he said “How does it feel to be hunted!!”

I was disappointed with Brussels, but once I got past the site and smells of urine, vomit and litter, an insane non-functional transit system and a ton of graffiti on buildings and statues from the 1600’s, I realized how much Brussels had to offer if it could get it’s act in gear.

We took days trips to Bruges, the medieval town of Ghent and we found these areas to be beautiful and awesome for the kids.

From Brussels we took the high-speed train to Paris where we stayed in the Marais quarter for just under a week.  Having spent 5-weeks in France for our honeymoon, we had high hopes for our time in Paris, hoping to show the kids the must-see sites.  We saw, but did not go up the Eiffel Tower, we did walk up the Arc De Triomphe, walked the Champs-Elysées in the rain, visited the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and stood in the middle of Paris.  We ate crepes, the kids played with boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg a we took a boat tour on the Seine.

We searched high and low for Berthillon ice cream (luxury ice cream and sorbet) only to find it closed in the month of August?!?  Actually a lot of things were closed in August, and on August 15th the Assumption long weekend, there was very little open outside of the major tourist areas.

The weather in Paris was average and fluctuated between cold and rainy and hot and sunny which meant my backpack carried sweaters and umbrellas every day, plus snacks and water to keep the kids moving.  We made the most of the weather, jumping into the Pompidou Centre and the Orsay Gallery when it rained, and walking around the streets when it was nice outside.

My wife managed to get a babysitter for one night in Paris so her and I went out for a lovely dinner and a stroll towards the Eiffel Tower until it started to rain and we realized that after 11pm we were getting tired, so we headed back on the Metro to our rented apartment.  Getting away from the children was a much-needed break – if even for 4 hours – and the adult conversation was much appreciated.

On our last day we took the Metro to the airport, flew back to Reykjavik, then after a 2 hour layover, headed back home to TO.

The trip was awesome, the kids were fantastic, and neither my wife nor myself thought there was a chance that our 4-year-old daughter was going to be able to walk as much as we walked over 19 days, up and down stairs, in and out of museums, and without needing to be carried, but she surprised us all.  She was awesome!  She even learned words in Icelandic, Dutch and French.

We all came out of this vacation closer as a family, with a greater appreciation of what we have and thinner from all the exercise.

With school around the corner, I hope my kids will be able to recall some of what they saw and share with their teachers and their classmates.  I can say that one week after our trip, my oldest son is watching the volcanic activity in Iceland, while my middle child has been working on a Powerpoint presentation with his pictures in it.

The break from work and school was great but it’s back to the grind come September.

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