Apparently I Neglected To Educate My Children About St. Patrick’s Day!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!St Patricks Day

I have never tried McDonald’s Shamrock shake probably because I keep hearing it might taste a little like cough syrup, or something like that.

I realized this morning while listening to ” Stu Jeffries $1000 Dollar Minute” on Boom 97.3FM that today was March 17th and that means St. Patrick’s Day!  All the questions were St. Patrick’s Day related and my kids looked at me quite perplexed as the quiz went on, because I think they knew the “Lucky Charms” question and that was it.

“Today is St. Patrick’s Day!” I proclaimed.

“Yeah?”

“So?”

“What does that mean?”, were the responses.

Oops.  I thought as I realized that we’ve really never spoken about St. Patrick’s Day – at least not recently – and when we reconvened at dinner time I had better have an explanation more significant that my note about the Shamrock shake.

So here, is the “Coles Notes” version of why St. Patrick’s Day matters and why we celebrate it, with some fun facts thrown in for the curious kids:

 

  • St. Patrick’s Day is an annual feast day celebrating the patron saint Patrick for whom the day is named after.
  • Saint Patrick was not born Irish, but became an integral part of the Irish heritage through his service across Ireland of the 5th century.
  • Patrick was either Scottish or English, his real name was though to be Maewyn Succat and Patricius was his Romanicized name until it became Patrick.
  • St. Patrick’s Day is the national holiday of Ireland.
  • On the religious side, St. Patrick, is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people.
  • Many believe St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, but truth be told, Ireland never actually had snakes, and many now believe that “snakes” actually represented the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place.
  • Many, many people – Irish or not – wear the colour green today.
  • An interesting Irish tradition which I chose to mention after your day at school has finished, is to pinch anyone who is not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • St. Patrick’s Day was first observed in Boston by Irish immigrants in 1737.  I believe the Chicago river is turned green today by a dye which lasts 2-4 days.
  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US was held in New York, of course, in 1766.  The Toronto St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on Sunday March 15th.
  • The common symbols of St. Patrick’s Day are the shamrock, pot-of-gold andleprechans.
    • Three is Ireland’s magic number and the three petals that make up the shamrock are supposed to bring good luck.
    • The three leaves also represent the Trinity in the Christian religion.
    • The leprechaun is a small Irish fairy who is dressed like a shoemaker, with pointed shoes and hat and he wears a leather apron.
    • Leprechauns are supposed to be unfriendly little men who lives alone in the forest, spending all of their time making shoes and guarding their treasures.
    • If someone catches a leprechaun, he will be forced to tell where he hides all his pots of gold. However, the leprechaun must be watched at all times. If his captor looks away, the leprechaun will vanish along with his treasure.
  • Envy, while green, is not welcomed on St. Paddy’s Day.
  • Today is the only day that I willingly change my last name, “Orlans” to “O’lans”.
  • Tonight we’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day not by drinking green beer, or by wearing green PJ’s but by eating all of our green veggies!  Yum.

Canadians! With Tax Time Coming, Think About Getting Your Refunds Right Away With H&R Block


For those of you who are not familiar with The Urban Daddy, you should know that I started writing this blog back in 2004, the year my first child was born.  At that time, I was working for the Canadian Government, in the Tax Department, for Revenue Canada (later to be known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, then the Canada Revenue Agency).

I worked for the CRA for almost 11 years before leaving for a role in the private sector, and it has now been 18-years that I have been working with taxes in some form or another.  Currently, I run a company called inTAXicating, and maintain a blog which helps people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – usually collection-related matters.

I know taxes.

I do not, however, prepare taxes.  I let the professionals do that.

There has been a myth in the tax / accounting industry that any firm who promises to guarantee maximum refunds, quickly and easily and that offers it without cost (100% free), MUST be a scam or MUST be providing lower quality work and I can tell you that could not be further from the truth! 

I have found in my 18-year tax career that the majority of issues people have with their tax returns are on returns they have completed themselves, either because they do not know the Income Tax Act, or the Excise Tax Act, or because the thought of doing their own return is so daunting that they put it off and put it off until it causes them huge problems.

When the calendar turns January 1st, people start to stress about taxes!  The April 30th filing deadline for everyone except self-employed Canadians and their families comes very quickly, and those who are self-employed (and their spouse / common-law partner) find their June 15th filing deadline comes even faster.  Especially if their owed money to the CRA which should have been paid by April 30th.

Why add more stress?  Especially if you want to complete the return yourself…

H&R Block offers such a simple process it’s crazy that people would not file their returns on time, but for those do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, H&R Block has just the solution for you.  On March 3rd, 2015 Canada’s trusted leader in tax preparation announced FREE online tax filing software is now available for all of Canada’s 26 million tax filers.

H&R Block Online Tax Software is completely free (absolutely no hidden costs) and is an online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tax filing solution.  H&R Block Online Tax Software’s intuitive process walks users through their tax return with a highly personalized step-by-step interview process which ensures absolutely nothing is missed, and any errors are detected automatically – offering piece-of-mind for the filer – and not leaving you at the mercy of your accountant and their knowledge or schedule.

How many of you get all of your paperwork together, make that appointment to see your accountant who you see only at tax time, and then you drop off your paperwork, and pay the bill once you have been advised that you have been filed.

Without a face-to-face opportunity to discuss your situation you might be missing deductions or tax credits.  No body knows your tax situation better than you do.  If you follow the easy to navigate online tax solution that H&R Block offers, you can see what you can claim, and how it impacts your refund or balance, putting you in the drivers seat.

H&R Block’s tax solution is optimized for any digital device so filers can switch seamlessly from their computer to their phone or their tablet and back, anytime and anywhere. Filers are assured the maximum possible refund with H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee and 100% Accuracy Guarantee. The Refund-O-Meter™ enables users to see their refunds calculated as they complete the process in real-time.

An added bonus is that free support is offered throughout the filing process with access to H&R Block tax experts via phone, chat or email, and to simplify the process, new filers will be able to import data directly from competitors’ tax software.

Of course, the offering is available in both National languages, and DIY tax filers can seamlessly switch between French and English, or from one family member to another.

The H&R Block Online Tax Software is available at www.hrblock.ca.

Just make sure to file on time!  Even one-day late results in penalties!

 

This post is a sponsored post, I am being compensated for writing this post, and I would not be writing about H&R Block if I did not believe in the product, the services and the quality of ,not only the work done by H&R Block, but also the quality of information H&R Block provides to Canadians at tax time and all year round.  There is a reason why they have been around for 50-years!

The Moral Decline of Society


There is a reason we do not let our children have access to electronics during the week, and limit no only the amount of time they spend on it on the weekends but also what they have access to.

The Internet is nasty.

TV is nasty.

Even some music is nasty.

Yes, we cannot shield our children from these forever, but I feel that a responsible parent doesn’t just let their kid(s) have access to the remote or a web browser and let them loose.

Deep down inside, I can’t help but worry for future generations when there is way too many shows like “Dating Naked”, “Sex Sent Me To The ER”, and “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”, and not enough shows like “Growing Pains”, “Brady Bunch” and “Full House”.

Honestly, is there anything worse than “TMZ”?  Yes.  “TMZ Live”.

I think a good balance of TV shows for kids include the original reality TV, sports, cooking shows, pretty much anything on TVO or to do with animals, history or the planet.

Cartoons are okay too, but like sweets, should be taken in moderation and never before bed time.

Now excuse me while I click through Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo’s and Millionaire Matchmaker looking for something to watch.

Should you pay your kids to do chores?


Such a great topic, and one in which I have spent a lot of time discussing with my wife over the years.  Last week, I was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on this very topic and the article can be found here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/should-you-pay-your-kids-to-do-chores/article23076370/

Here is the article for you to read and comment.  I’m curious as to your thoughts as a parent who has tried this and found that it works, or failed, or if there a compromise which worked.

The article:

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The phrase “the value of a dollar” is misleading. The truth is, there are so many values contained in a buck it’s hard to count them all. It’s these values we are trying to impart when we give kids an allowance – that money has to be earned, that not every desire can be instantly gratified, that it’s important to give to those in need. Perhaps the biggest point of contention is whether to pay kids to do chores. Dan Lieber argues against it in his new book, The Opposite of Spoiled. Parents don’t get paid for housework, so neither should children, according to Lieber. But a strong case can be made for the other side of the debate as well. We asked parents on each end of the debate to explain their allowance philosophy.

NOT TIED TO CHORES

Kids should do chores to help the household and learn to take care of themselves, not to pocket cash. “Let’s fast-forward to when your child goes to college. Is he going to want to be paid to take out the trash and keep his room neat?” says Kristan Leatherman, co-author of Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats.

Lori McGrath, Vancouver-based blogger of The Write Mama

Kid’s age 6

Allowance $3 per week: $2 goes into his wallet, $1 goes into a piggy bank.

The lesson “I want him to learn how to be independent with money. I want him to feel empowered about it, and to learn how to make good decisions about money.”

Why it’s not tied to chores “He does have chores, but [the allowance] is just to teach him financial responsibility. We don’t want it to be an emotional thing – ‘You’re being a good boy, here’s money.’ We want it to teach him about making his own decisions and saving for things.”

Warren Orlans, Toronto-based tax consultant @ inTAXicating and blogger @UrbanDaddyBlog

Kids’ ages 10, 8, 5

Allowance $5, $4, $2 per week, respectively.

The lesson “The value of money. Money is not something you throw away, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. You can do without money. You don’t have to buy everything you see. But if you see something you want, you can save up and purchase it.”

Why it’s not tied to chores “The kids have to do chores as part of being members of the household. … I’m a big sports fan, and there’s nothing worse than having a player on your team who’s only in it for the contract.” But if Orlans has to clean up after the kids after two warnings, he makes them buy back the items, whether socks or comic books, from their allowance.

Denise Schipani Huntington, NewYork-based author

Kids’ ages 12 and 10

Allowance $12 and $10 per month, respectively.

The lesson “That money has worth. And it has consequences.”

Why it’s not tied to chores “The very idea of that turns me off completely. None of us [in the family] pay each other for doing what needs doing. But they get an allowance so that they can decide what they want to do with money. We presented it more as a way to help them understand how money works.”

TIED TO CHORES

Paying kids to do chores teaches them about working for what they want. “Having the feeling that the money comes from your effort appears to be related to the notion that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that you’re not entitled to any money,” says Lewis Mandell, an economist and financial literacy educator.

Tibetha Kemble, Edmonton-based consultant in First Nations relations

Kid’s age 6

Allowance $10 after a full slate of chores is completed, usually every two weeks.

The lesson “That there is a direct connection between doing work and getting something for it … and that things are expensive and if you save up your allowance you can afford to buy it – that it’s not just about immediate gratification.”

Why it’s tied to chores “It was really the only way that we could tie money to something without it seeming arbitrary or punitive or behaviour-related.”

Jen Kern, Toronto-based events and business development director

Kids’ ages 6, 3

Allowance No allowance for the three-year-old. Older son has a chore chart with various amounts (25 cents for making his bed, for example) with a weekly maximum of $7. His parents match whatever he saves.

The lesson “That money isn’t free … linking savings to that was really important. Neither my husband nor I were ever taught that, and as result we were really crappy with money for a lot of our late-teens, early 20s. We’re trying to explain to him that if he puts his money away, it will be there when he needs it. He’s saved $85 already.”

Why it’s tied to chores “There was going to be no free ride.”

 

Danielle Riddel, Calgary-based real estate assistant

Kid’s age 14

Allowance $70 per month ($10 has to go into savings)

The lesson “Nowadays I feel like kids get money all the time for everything. I want her to learn that you can’t have everything as soon as you want it. You have to work for it. You have to save for it.”

Why it’s tied to chores “She doesn’t get allowance for cleaning her room or taking care of the dog. She gets it for doing all the floors in the house and cleaning three bathrooms. I wanted her to have money because I want her to learn to spend and how to save money, but I didn’t want to just give it to her.”

Thoughts?

Comments?