Posted in Daddy, disaster, family, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, travel

Trying to Save my Plant!


I’m trying to save my plant that was given to me when my father passed away in 2002. I left it in “good hands” with my sister, while our family travelled in Asia this past summer (Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan).

I even gave her a tip as to how to take care of this plant – nothing can really kill it – and to watch when the leaves droop, then water it…

She didn’t.

I think for the month we were away, she “missed” it when watering plants. Needless to say it was in really bad shape when we returned.

Now, its a shell of it’s former self. I’ve been taking the pieces out of it and re-planting it trying to keep it alive.

I realized today what she must have been thinking… Like her favourite politician Justin Trudeau who once coined the phrase, “The budget will balance itself”, she clearly felt that, “The plant will water itself.”

In actual fact, sis, and JT, neither of those were going to happen…

Fact.

Posted in Canada, disaster, family, health, Parenting, Recommends, school, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

March Break / COVID-19 / CoronaVirus Self-Isolation To Do List


March Break plans ruined? Travel plans cancelled? Activities for the kids also cancelled? COVID-19 has you in self-isolation? Keeping your “Social Distance”? Tired of hearing the “Corona-Time” song from Tik Tok?

If you, like everyone else, are running out of ideas for things to be because everything is closed until mid-April… What could you possibly do with the kids during an extended March Break?

Here at The Urban Daddy, we have some practical suggestions to not only keep your kids entertained, but keep you engaged, while allowing the kids to get a jump on their return to school without them knowing.

Here are our suggestions:

Reconnect with the great outdoors!

Walks, bike-riding, practicing sports, and helping around the house, digging the garden, planting flowers and raking the lawn. Get to know (Reconnect with) your neighbours. Have BBQ’s, do yoga, pick up some garbage in the community… All with lots of soap, hand sanitizer and without electronics.

Electronics – More than just for games!

While I feel that my kids are already in quarantine – they come home from school, head up to their rooms, hit the electronics and show up only for dinner. While Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat are fun, there is only such much you can do in a day, week, month, so let’s expand the use of computers beyond entertainment, and use it for educational purposes too. Have your kids learn about SEO, how to make websites, teach them to code, while you learn to code too.

The possibilities are endless.

Computers for Education

While the teacher unions here in Ontario might think that online classes are a REALLY bad idea, thankfully they’re not teaching our children, because with schools closing for anywhere from 3-5 weeks, or for the rest of the school year, we are suddenly seeing school boards heading to online classes to salvage the rest of the school year.

It only makes sense, and from what I’ve seen, some schools just needed a couple of days to move to online classes, while other schools were already ramping up.

I’m a huge fan of online classes and courses – I did my MBA online, and in this day and age, all kids should be familiar with online classes and courses not only in case of a global pandemic, but also in case they wanted to advance themselves and take extra or additional courses.

Get a jump on the eLearning train and sign yourself and your kids up for courses. My 13-year-old is currently in grade 8, but is working on his grade 9 math credit at the same time.

I’m working on some courses towards my Google certification and my Quickbooks certification.

Catch up on Family Time – Movies & Board Games

I strongly recommend family movies – stay away from movies called Outbreak, or that deal with the end of the world. Common Sense Media, is a website that rates most TV shows, movies and video games according to age appropriateness to help parents figure out what their kids should be watching.

Some of the games that we’ve played include; Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity (not with the kids!!), Rummicube, Exploding Kittens, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Carcassonne, Sushi Go, Chess, Boggle, Yatzee, just to name some more recently played.

Read Books

Nothing says getting a start on learning like developing a love of reading. Reading uses our imagination, helps us to learn new words, see proper punctuation, and spend hours doing something alone.

More importantly, in the event public libraries get shut down, there are plenty of resources available in digital format too.  eBooks, eAudioBooks, Movies, Comics, Music, Magazines and Videos. All you need is a library card!

A few years ago I introduced my eldest to the series of Dan Brown books – The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Origin, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, Digital Fortress (This one you can skip, Sorry Dan), and Deception Point. I read through those books in records time and so has he. We’re looking forward to reading the newest Dan Brown book Wild Symphony.

In addition to those books, any Star Wars book has also been a wildly popular with my readers – not just the books that the movies are based off of, but all the little series and sub-series.

Spring Cleaning

Nothing says time to re-do the bedroom – change over winter clothes to spring clothes, check sizing, and re-do parts of the house than having the time to do so. If there is a pantry that you wanted to tear apart and re-organize alphabetically, this is your chance! How about cleaning up the kids playroom and donating toys they don’t use anymore? Again, now is the time.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks, so make sure you wash your hands often, keep your hands off of your face and stay away from people if you’re under the weather. Protect yourself and that will protect others.

Posted in Canada, Coffee, Community, Daddy, disaster, events, family, Food, health, Life, money, Parenting, politics, sleep, Toronto, travel

The Sound That a Record Makes When the Needle is Dragged Across it…


If you are of a certain vintage, you know what a record is, and you have hopefully seen a record player and would then know that sound a record makes when the needle is dragged across the record.

Sccccrrreeeeccchhhhhhhh.

Then silence, as the needle is lifted off the record.

That’s the sound that the sporting world make late last night with the word that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has cancelled the rest of their season effective last night after a player from the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19.

At the moment the news broke, I have to admit, I sat up and took notice. It made me realize that this Pandemic was real and that we, as global citizens, need to step up and take notice.

Shortly after that cancellation, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Lacrosse League (NLL) both followed suit and cancelled their seasons, although postponed is more likely the intended outcome.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is putting off games for a month.

By mid-afternoon on March 12th, 2020, the Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that they were postponing the start of the 2020 baseball season for at least a couple of weeks.

I hope that in the upcoming weeks, we can get more details about the virus, keep local people safe and keep travelers from spreading the virus. I’d make a comment about the severity of the virus but if our Prime Minister might have it (sigh) it just goes to show you that you have to be smart with your health and be careful of travelers.

I understand the fear – sort of – especially to those who are vulnerable due to age, health or underlying issues, but I don’t understand the stocking up on toilet paper. Just this afternoon, for example, I went to our local Loblaws location only to find hundreds of people in line buying toilet paper, canned soup, soda pop, and food items which do not quickly spoil such as onion.

I struck up a conversation with a couple in the line-up who had purchased 150 rolls of toilet paper, plus paper towels, cases of canned soup and a case of anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, soaps, and other such medical items.

I found out that they anticipated being quarantined into their home for a few weeks and thus needed to stock up.

I asked about the case of wipes, and sanitizer – thinking that if you’re self-quarantining in your own home and not letting people come and go, what exactly are you sanitizing?!?

With that realization, they removed the case from their cart and within seconds, it was grabbed by another family who already had a cart full of long-term supplies.

I don’t know.

I’m all for keeping my distance from people and not shaking hands, and I hope that others do the same. No more repeats of the guy sitting in the corner of McDonald’s coughing up a storm while everyone looks at him half in terror and half in wonder why he would come to a public place while sick.

He wasn’t sick.

He was choking.

I can’t wait until we can look back at this and move on back to life as we used to know it.

Posted in cars, Community, Daddy, disaster, family, Life, Parenting, school, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

At What Age Will Parents Finally Get It? Re: School drop off


At what age / grade do parents finally have their “a-ha” moment when it comes to dropping off  their kids at school?

I’d like to know, because I’m shocked at the number of parents who just don’t get it.

I see you – every morning – doing the exact same thing, and I’m cursing you. So are all the other cars waiting in line that you have inconvenienced.

What are these parent not getting?

Common Courtesy!

Consideration for others.

Rules of the road.

Traffic laws.

Just to name a few off the top of my head.

You see, most schools have a very limited drop-off window for children and that window is at it’s busiest 15-30 minutes before school starts, and most often, the location for drop off is limited, thus, for drop-off to work effectively and efficiently, it has to be seamless.

The proper drop-off works like this;

  1. Car pulls up to drop off location – not exceeding the speed limit.
  2. Car stops.
  3. Parent says “get out!” or “goodbye”, or “I’ll pick you up”.
  4. Child opens the car door
  5. Child takes backpack.
  6. Child shuts door.
  7. Parent then looks both ways and slowly pulls away from the drop-off area and heads off to do their thing, or if the routine is really organized, then the car pulls forward and away, closely following the car right in front..

This method is so efficient. and so quick, but it never happens…

What really happens:

  1. Giant SUV driven by a very tiny woman zips up to the parking area and stops vehicle where ever she want. In a spot, diagonal facing the curb, on the curb, on the grass… blocking a driveway, or blocking oncoming traffic… Doesn’t matter.
  2. Driver opens the trunk by pressing a button
  3. Driver slowly exits the car in lululemon / workout clothes
  4. Driver then strolls around to the other side of the car and opens the door for the child.
  5. The driver then goes and gets the child’s backpack from the trunk.
  6. Driver helps child out of car
  7. Driver helps child get backpack on
  8. Driver looks child in the face and begins a seemingly long discussion with the child which likely could have occurred in the car.
  9. Driver kisses and hugs the child
  10. Driver points the child in the direction of the door.
  11. Driver waits for the child to enter the school
  12. Driver slowly walks back to the car hoping other lululemon mummy’s will see her outfit.
  13. Driver enters car
  14. Drive pulls away without looking, signalling or waiting, phone in hand, exceeding the speed limit and seemingly unaware that other children are walking on the road trying to get to school.

This is not a joke, nor meant to be a satire. It’s what happens daily.

Cars get frustrated, children are late, and there is a lot of honking.

 

Why can’t parents drop their kids of quickly and let the kids be responsible for getting out on their own?

These are likely the same parents who carry their kids backpacks and don’t get me started on that!

So please, parents… Teach your kids to be considerate of others around them even though you clearly have no hope.

Hopefully, you’ll get it…

One day…

 

 

Posted in Being Jewish in Toronto, Daddy, disaster, family, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy

July Was a Very Shitty Month!


What an absolutely shitty month, July turned out to be!

July last year was great! It was the first year that my wife and I had the pleasure of enjoying our @kidfreejuly (yes, we have that Twitter nickname) while all of our kids were enjoying PlanetArowhon. We went out for many dinners together, we tore apart the house and cleaned it from the bottom to the top culminating in a huge garage sale, and we even celebrated our wedding anniversary with our friends.

We were looking forward to more of the same this #KidFreeJuly. Very sadly, however, this July just sucked!

Kid free July began with my epic passing out routine, 45 minutes into an hour fitness class, and only got worse – I know, you’re thinking how much worse can it get than being the old dude walking out of a fitness facility accompanied by a stretcher and 2 EMT’s…

Well let me tell you!

A week after fitnessfailgate, my wife and I flew to the Big Apple, New York City, to meet our friends and enjoy a few days sightseeing, and attending a Billy Joel concert at the famed Madison Square Garden (a huge highlight for me).

We stayed in the lovely Carnegie Hotel, enjoyed a plush, comfy king bed, the snacks, and the 5pm wine and cheese. We had some fantastic meals, including one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life at the Candle 79 Restaurant.

We walked on the High Line, then stopped in the Chelsea Market for a bite to eat when my wife’s cell phone rang. She answered, and within seconds, spun in her seat to face me – a look of shock in her face – placed her hand on my arm and said, “Oh my G-d, I’m so sorry Warren”.

My mind began to race… You see, my mother has not been well.  She was diagnosed with liver cancer a couple of months ago, and given a year, to a year and a half to live. Hearing that was extremely difficult for me. My father passed away 17-years ago, after my wife and I had been married for just a year, and my dad never got to meet his grandchildren.  Not a day goes by when I wish he could have met them and visa versa.

A year after my father died, my grandfather died. He was one of a kind. One of the kindest, sweetest men I have ever met. He was such an inspiration for me.

After losing my father and grandfather, my mother’s 2 brothers began to leave me, my wife and eventually our kids out of family functions, instead choosing to invite just my mother and sister instead.

I didn’t know what I may or may not have done, but for the longest time it really bothered me because it was a huge cause of stress for my mother and grandmother.  I tried to figure it out and resolve it. I apologized for what I thought I had done, and for what I may or may not have done, and I even asked for a face to face meeting to put all of this behind us.

They never responded. Like, ever.

They kept leaving us out, and kept expecting my sister to choose them over me and her niece and nephews.  Whatever… Everyone has family issues, right?

Getting back to that phone call, though… unbelievable.

My grandmother had passed away, just 8-days after her 96th birthday.

Born in the Ukraine, my Bubi was a true balabusta (Russian for homemaker), and to be honest, I thought she was never going to die. She lived alone right up to the end, and she was fully functional and fully operational, not like the Death Star from Star Wars. She was awesome, and for a long time, my sister and I had our grandparents to ourselves until it was finally time to share them with the other grand kids.

We used to visit all the time, help them out in their store, take care of their gardening, help around the house, and I was the only grandchild that my Bubi allowed to help with the hand washing of her dishes.

We were tight. I loved her dearly.

Even as the years progressed and as my mother’s brothers convinced her that I was the problem and they were justified in their actions, it took just one visit, or phone call for her to understand it was all crap.

I spoke to her on her birthday. She sounded great.  This loss hurt.

So after receiving the news we quickly moved to make arrangements to leave NY, get to Northern Ontario, pick up the kids from camp and attend the funeral. The only wrench in the plan would be in they planned a quick funeral.  We contacted Camp and learned that our eldest was in the middle of the wilderness on a camping trip, and while they had an emergency phone, it would only work if the trip leader called the base, at which point the could send a helicopter in to retrieve our son.

He was, however, coming back on the Sunday – just 2 days away – which meant any time Sunday in the afternoon, or Monday for the funeral would be best.

I reached out to my mothers younger brother to explain the situation, that we would need a bit of time, and it her could plan the funeral for the afternoon at the least, it would work out..

He basically said, tough shit, the funeral is planned.

I explained our intentions – my son being the oldest great grandchild, and knowing that he would really want to be there and speak at her funeral.

Again, I was told that there was no chance it was being moved.

Frantic, I offered to pay for the funeral, contact the funeral home, and let everyone know that the funeral has been moved from Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon.

He replied that it was the last he was going to talk about it, and that it was the last he was ever going to speak to me “as long as he lived”…

… okay…

He went on to say that I didn’t attend the mourning period for my grandfather (called a Shiva) and that I hadn’t visited my grandmother in the hospital.

I needed a second to comprehend what he had told me because that Shiva was 16-years-ago and also because I was at that Shiva each and every day.

Yes, I had not visited my grandmother when she was in the hospital because no one told me that she was there, but I did speak with her several times.

Frustrated like never before, I unleashed my thoughts to him in text, and in typical fashion, faced with the truth, he chose not to reply.

So my wife and I changed our flights and just made it home in time for the funeral.

My kids remained at camp, completely unaware that their great grandmother, their last great grand parent, had died.

They were going to be CRUSHED when they came home from camp and learned the news… My heart breaks for them.

During the funeral, I was a mess. I was super close with my grandmother having done so much for her before there were any other grandchildren, and recently watched as my mother and sister picked up the slack and helped her out.

My mother was unable to attend her mother’s funeral and she had been rushed to the hospital and was not doing well in her own right.  I know my mother wanted to be there, but the only bright side was that it saved her from hearing stories about how much her brothers did for my grandmother considering they had to pick up the slack only recently as my mothers health took a turn for the worse. They made themselves seems like such wonderful children…

Then, just 2 weeks after my grandmother died, my children arrived home from camp and after hearing what an amazing time they all had, I had the break the news that their great grandmother had passed away.  You could have heard a pin drop, and that silence which seemed to go on for hours was quickly shattered with the sound of crying.

My oldest was really upset. Why didn’t we come to get him? He was not happy at all knowing that my mothers brother – who cut his own 3 children and 7 grandchildren out of his life – had refused to wait half a day longer for them.

It was their great grandmother!

My kids were crushed. Devastated.

Then I had to break the news about my mother, whom the kids were REALLY close to. They loved her so much. When they saw her, or spoke to her you could see and hear the unconditional love in their emotions. The feeling was very much mutual.

We went right from the camp pickup point to the hospital to visit my mother who’s health had deteriorated to being in the 3-month to 6-month range, and we had no idea what we were about to face…

My mother was not doing well this day. She was in pain, and although I had come and spent time with her, supported my sister, over the previous 2 weeks that she was in the hospital, my mother just wanted to know when she could see the kids.

When my eldest arrived, my mother smiled for the first time in a very long time and told him how much she loved him.

Over the next hour, while being whisked from room to room and from doctor to doctor, to learn that my mother had days to live, she managed to tell all my kids that she loved them.

Later that night, she passed away.

She held on long enough for her grandchildren to return from camp, before she succumbed to her ailments and 2 weeks after the passing of her mother, she left us.

What came next makes me shake my head as I write this…

My mother would have wanted the family to mourn together for the week-long Shiva period, but that was not to be the case as her brothers decided they were going to observe their mourning period about 10 minutes away in the condo that belonged to my grandmother.

At the funeral, the youngest of my mothers brothers ignored me, my wife and my kids, instead embracing my sister while saying “I’m so sorry for your loss”.

Against the advice of the Rabbi my mother’s eldest brother announced to the attendees that he had some “issues” with my mother and that they “made peace” and that out of respect for my mother, they were sitting separately.

Absolutely disrespectful. If making peace means apologizing for 17-years of family stress by treating one of her children poorly (and his family), then one does not then continue the pattern and do exactly what my mother would not have wanted.

Then, not 5 minutes after we had buried my mother, he texted my sister and asked her to come mourn with them. Completely disregarding the fact that it’s our mother who died and that we actually had a relationship with her and didn’t cause her stress over the last 15 years with made up stories.

They never reached out to me to see how I was.

They emptied my grandmother’s condo without even asking me if there was something that I would like.

None of them – 4 adults and 6 children – contacted me in any way to offer condolence.

My eyes were open, but they have been opened even wider now.

I don’t know why they continue to put my sister in the middle of their childish stupidity.

I’ve come to realize that the opposite of love is not hate – I don’t hate anyone – but indifference.

I’m indifferent to them.

But Karma… She’s a bitch…