Parenting News: Head North (Ontario) This Holiday Season


Now is the perfect time to book your holiday getaway up north.

Make this Christmas and New Year’s Eve the most memorable one yet – surrounded by a picturesque country setting with great shows, fine dining, soothing spa treatments, outdoor adventures and spectacular accommodations.

There are many events and family activities to choose from:

  • Enjoy the play Twas The Night Before Christmas presented by the Huntsville Theatre Company until December 19th;

  • Take the kids for a magical ride to visit Santa on an antique stream train;

  • Experience the pride and joy of Muskoka Heritage Place as this historic treasure chugs merrily along through winter wonderland;

  • Travel to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Muskoka, during SantaFest Dec. 19-22, with sleigh rides, petting zoo, marshmallow roasts and more;

  • Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area presents its annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade from 5pm on December 24th; and

  • Visit Arrowhead Provincial Park’s famed Ice Skating Trail, opening towards the end of December.

Take some time to visit the region’s craft breweries and wineries including Muskoka Lakes Winery, Lake of Bays Brewing, and Highlander Brew, among others; all offering tours and tastings, even during the holidays. Work off the holiday calories with some epic outdoor adventures such as dog sledding, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, and more, or perhaps just stay warm and enjoy the wellness and pampering at one of the relaxing spas in the region.

Dine, dance and delight at all there is to enjoy this New Year’s Eve, including:

  • The hundreds of outstanding dining establishments open year-round, including Inn at the Falls in Bracebridge and Sherwood Inn near Port Carling;

  • Hidden Valley Resort in Huntsville, Muskoka is offering a great package that includes a one-night stay, fabulous buffet plus a DJ party with balloon drop and champagne at the stroke of 2016;

  • For a rocking New Year’s Eve in the style of Creedence Clearwater Revival, get your tickets for Peter’s Players in Gravenhurst, Muskoka for the incredible tribute band; and

  • Attend the Cottage Country Comedy Festival at the Gravenhurst Opera House. Headliners include Jim Nasiopoulos, Mike Rita & Adrian Cronk. After-party with live music by WinnieBrave.

For more information, please visit Explorer’s Edge.

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Proud Recipient of a 2015 Ontario Volunteer Service Award


On June 16th, The 2015 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards were handed out in Toronto, which recognizes individual volunteers for continuous years of commitment and dedicated service to an organization. 

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This year both my wife and I received an award for 15-years of volunteering with an organization call Jewish Family and Child Services (JF&CS).

Jewish Family & Child supports the healthy development of individuals, children, families, and communities through prevention, protection, counselling, education and advocacy services, within the context of Jewish values.

Their priority areas are;

1. Increasing Safety and Security

2. Reducing the Effects of Poverty

3. Improving Mental Health and Wellness

My wife and I became volunteers in the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program to assist the JF&CS staff with the planning and coordinating over events for the programs’ participants and volunteers.  Over the past 15 years we have met a lot of incredible volunteers and incredible children who have grown up to be amazing young adults.

None of this would have been possible without the hard work and support of Andrea Pines, the Volunteer Coordinator for Big Brothers / Big Sisters.

We also try to model what it means to be a good person to our children and I recall a picture being published of our oldest boy – at probably 3 months old – strapped to my wife in a child carrier and the 3 of us set off to an event.  We try to include all of our kids in the event planning as well as at the event so they will understand that giving their time might seem like such a small gesture, but to some people it means a lot.

Obviously we do this for the organization, and not for the recognition, and I’m hesitant to publish this except I hope down the road, my kids will be able to read this and realize that volunteering is important and that it’s been a part of their lives since they were born (and their Dad expects them to continue doing it!!)

The awards ceremony is a lovely ceremony where volunteers are presented with stylized trillium pins and personalized certificates.

Funny Things Kids Say…


My kids are nowhere near as sporty as I was growing up, and I don’t blame them.  My favourite toy was a tennis ball because I could use it with my baseball glove or my hockey stick.  When we bought new tennis balls that I could actually use for tennis… Look out!

My kids, on the other hand live in a Toronto where ball hockey playing is prohibited or frowned upon in the streets and with advent of iPhones and iPads, they can read, play, learn, etc instead of waste time outside…

So hearing my kids talk about sports makes me laugh and makes me wonder if they get teased at school by the sporty kids for their lack of knowledge of terminology.

For example;

Saturday night, Toronto’s best sports team, the Toronto Rock lacrosse team, played the 2nd game of a best of 3 semi-final at the Air Canada Centre and me and my boys went to the game!  I’ve had season’s tickets since their first season and I cannot explain enough how nice it is to have one Toronto-based team that competes night-in and night-out and that wins having won 6 National Lacrosse League Championships.

The game is fast, exciting, hard-hitting and not for the faint of heart.  If I knew about this game growing up, I would have been a great defenseman – being able to whack the daylights out of guys!  Oh the fun.

So Toronto won the game over the Rochester Night Hawks 11-8 and as a result, they tied their series and a 10-minute game was to be played right after with the winner going to the Champions Cup Finals against the Edmonton Rush.  The outcome was never in question as Toronto scored a goal a minute for the first 7 minutes, hanging on for an 8-2 victory.

Just before the game ended, my son tried to impress the girl in the row in front and wanted to tell her that the game was “sudden death”.  I guess he thought if they lost they’re done, which they would have been but sudden death in sporting terms means the next goal scored sends one team on, and the other home.

Instead, he said this;

“Wow, I hope Toronto can win this game in instant death!”

“Instant death?”

“Umm, me too” was my reply.

The girl in front of us – who turns 18 in 4 months – smiled at my son, and said, “No, I hope it doesn’t get that far because we (Toronto) are destroying them right now.”

She winked at me.

This Saturday, we are heading back down to the ACC to support the Toronto Rock in game 1  of the NLL finals.  Hopefully they will exceed their previous crowd of 10,200.  I remember the ACC being packed full for many years.  I think we owe that to the team and to owner Jamie Darwick for fielding a winning team year-over-year.

Instant death.

lol.

Toronto Blue Jays Fail to Impress. Still More Promising Than Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC. Nowhere Near the Toronto Rock!


It’s been one of those years… Again.  The Jays look destined to fail in a weak American League East with great bats but terrible pitching.  As the team leads the major leagues in walks given it makes one wonder aloud how long the Jays pitching coach Pete “Walker” has left.

Or manager John Gibbons…

Or the GM.

Or if there are any moves that can be made to salvage the season at the 40 game-mark.

It makes me wonder if any of the pitchers from Triple-A Buffalo will come in and steal a spot for themselves through the throwing of strikes, the consistency outing after outing, or the putting out of middle-inning fires, or if the GM is going to be looking for guys like BJ Ryan or Gustavo Chacin to come in and settle things down.

Hey, what is Dave Steib doing?  Or Jimmy Key?  What about Jim Clancy or Juan Guzman?

Are there no pitchers in the minors that the Jays can resurrect and use for a couple of starts or through this season who can keep their ERA under 6?

I have no idea, but I love the Jays, and hope for a winning streak to push the team back to the top of the sports news and remove the Leafs from our discussion as they have hit rock bottom with no way out…

Or… Toronto can turn their attention to the best Toronto sports team – The Toronto Rock lacrosse club which was outdrawing the Jays not too long ago and who finished 1st in the National Lacrosse League and are in the Eastern Division Finals at the Air Canada Centre this Saturday, May 23rd at 7pm.

The Toronto Rock win in a league with tough competition, and in a very tough, demanding sport, and draw between 10,000-13,000 fans per game…

The most exciting game in Toronto played by the most exciting team, and hey, they win!  They went 14-4 on the season, and their leading scorer, Brett Hickey scored 50 goals.  Josh Sanderson accumulated 83 assists.  These are numbers we, as Toronto sports fans are not used to.  There are no nights off or shifts off for these guys.  The run, hit, defend and score.

Come support the Rock.  Toronto should be thankful for Rock owner Jamie Darwick!

And loosen up your arm because you might just be the next call-up for the Jays!

May The Fourth Be With You! May the 4th be with you! Star Wars Day 2015.


It doesn’t matter how you like to spell it, or whether you only say it to family and friends or write it on a cheque as I did this afternoon, but today is May the 4th, and I wish all my readers the same greeting today, “May the 4th be with you!”

In light of the upcoming Star Wars movies which appear to be a bit darker, slicker and with less animation and more actual robots, I have already found a lot more activity today on the Internet, in my Facebook feed and in the secret groups that I visit but am never allowed to talk about.

It’s been such a great day thus far – and yes, the force IS with me today – that I took my Jedi mind tricks with me to my kids school where I was the “celebrity” reader today.  (It’s called that, not just for an appearance by The Urban Daddy).

I read the kids a bit from a wonderful book called “Vader’s Little Princess” by Jeffrey Brown, and from “Kids are Weird”, also by Jeffrey Brown.  They were given to me for Father’s Day last year by the amazing folks at Indigo Books @chaptersindigo.

I picked the age appropriate pieces mainly from “Vader’s Little Princess” and with some cool voices and a lot of improvising, I entertained a class of SK’s for 20-25 minutes.

I ended by reminding the kids that Darth Vader is evil, because he hates and that they need to be nice to everyone, especially their teachers, parents and classmates, and that they need to be good to the planet, eat healthy food, exercise and say please and thank you.

I ended by saying; “The Force strong in you is it. Good you shall be. Nice you are.  Force be with you today it is, hmmph.”

The kids said I nailed my Yoda impression, but I felt it sounded like Cookie Monster.

Happy Star Wars Day Everyone!

May the 4th (Force) be with you!