Posted in Daddy, family, Life, Parenting, urbandaddyblog

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.

 

Posted in Community, Daddy, family, Life, Parenting, sleep

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.

 

Posted in family, Life

And then POOF one day they get it!


My daughter had snack before bed, and when taking a sip of water, found that some spilled onto her fleece PJ’s.

She started to cry.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Wahhhh… GSGHJSBERHGAEHTHDFGSADSD” was her reply.

“Huh?  What?” I asked again.

Close to being hysterical, she replied, “Afniwngiwgweprgpwgnie.”

“I’m sorry.  Can you please stop crying and talk slower… What happened??”

She said. “I spilled water on my PJ’s… I need to change them.”

“You can wait” I said, “They’re flannel or fleece, they will dry quickly.”

She sobbed a little, and finished her snack.

Then without warning, she got up, walked over to the counter, placed her bowl on the counter, cup in the sink, turned to me and said; “Daddy.  I’m NOT going to change my PJ’s.  The top has already dried, and you did say they would dry quickly, so that means the bottom will be dry before I knew it.  You were right.  I was wrong.  I love you.  Goodnight.”

And out of the kitchen she walked.

I stood there.

Did anybody hear that?

It may be the only time, but at now 4-years-old.  I think she got it.

 

 

so my pants will too. you were right, I was wrong.

Posted in family, Life

It’s nice to be back from summer vacation


Home sweet home.

I missed you home.  I missed you bed.  I missed you air-conditioning, especially after spending 2 1/2 weeks in a car and on a boat in the heat, with 3 very energetic children.

We had a wonderful time and a tiring time as the same time on our family vacation.  Read on to see how we survived and maybe you will find some ideas for a trip with your families.

Since I do not generally like to announce my impending vacations, I kept this one quiet but now I can spill the beans and talk about this trip and how we became friends with Irene.  Hurricane Irene that is.

At a very high level here was what we did;

Our trip began with a nice relaxing drive from Toronto to Rochester, NY in which we had to pull off the 401 (Canada’s busiest highway) so my 4-year-old son Stewie could pee. Sure I asked them to pee before we left and yes he was the one who didn’t need to, but while we were standing on the shoulder with cars zipping by, he took the longest pee ever recorded on the cement barrier separating the West-bound traffic from the East-bound traffic. It never ended. My wife started laughing, and then I did too.

As well, having all 3 kids in the same row of the car was… Interesting.  When they were not doing the WWE / UFC and trying to kill each other, they were quietly playing on their iPad‘s, watching the Cat in the Hat, or playing Angry Birds or Plants versus Zombies.

So we left beautiful sunny Toronto at 1:23pm and arrived in Rochester just past 8pm. We stayed at the Strathallen Hotel and it was awesome. There were some nice things to do close to the hotel, but we arrived late in the evening (kids bed-time is normally 7:30pm) and it rained SO much that there was immense flooding in the area we decided to grab a pizza and hit the sack. Of course the kids wouldn’t eat the pizza so they ate the fruit we packed and went to bed really late in the night, a pre-cursor of things to come. As well, a huge tree around the corner from the hotel uprooted, blocking off the road. Little did we know the rest of the damage.

Rochester looked like this:
http://youtu.be/TiwmY6Vn304

After it stopped raining, Rochester looked like this:
http://youtu.be/pNMpF1eFqhc

For our Rochester activity, we took in the Children’s Museum and it was fantastic! The kids loved it, there was so much to do there and we raced from display to display. We of course stopped in the middle to eat grapes and watch the pouring rain.

The 14th of August, our museum day, looked like this after the rain left:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPWuP_8FclE&NR=1

I’m pretty sure we caught the tail end of this mishap as we sat in the car and watched the police drain the water into the sewers under this bridge. The car had probably just left.

From Rochester we drove to Howes Caverns, NY and we stayed in the motel and went into the Caverns the next morning. It was very cool… Literally. My wife had to purchase a hoodie from the gift shop prior to the adventure. The 45-minute trip was fun, the tour guides were very knowledgeable and they get extra credit for the boat ride that they had to paddle the 20 of us through. All in all, it was totally worth it and the kids loved it.

Later that day we headed closer to New York and stayed at a horrid Super 8 motel in New Paltz, New York. It was small and gross and the only thing that saved it was the 24 hour coffee and the “breakfast” the next morning. Sure the coffee in the morning was just coloured water, but at night when I needed it, it was hot, wet and strong.

From New Paltz, we headed into Brooklyn, New York where we had rented a floor in an old brownstone through http://www.airbandb.com. What an amazing experience. Not far from where Jay-Z grew up, we were on the top floor of this historic building in a pretty interesting area. We parked the car in front of the building and left it there for 3 days until we had to move it for the street cleaning.
An aside: Do you know how hard it was to find cottage cheese or plain yogurt in Brooklyn? I mean why spend $5.99 on yogurt when you can buy a prepared dish full of preservatives and salt for $1.99. That was one horrible realization for us. Might be a reason for rising obesity rates in Americans…

From our headquarters in Brooklyn, we hit the subways and headed into the City. Navigating the subway was easy enough but lifting the stroller up and down the stairs, not so fun. That and the subway staff couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you had directions or not, or if you paid or not. They often chatted with each other instead of tending to the people around or they mumbled their responses back to everyone. The announcements were inaudible. These guys could learn something from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) who had dramatically improved the clarity of their announcements, especially when calling out stations. But all that aside, we were really worried about Berry who hates subways, and the first trip we took she was held by her mummy, head down on her shoulders and very scared. But as we travelled, she really started to enjoy the subway trips, and eventually she came around. Whenever someone looked at her, she would point to herself and say, “Berry”, then wave and say hi. She had quite the audience and considering how friendly New Yorkers are, each trip was a lot of fun. She had plenty of new-found friends to keep her company and give her attention and we had one less frightened child with us.

We hit the City every day and visited a bunch of must see shops, like; M&M store, Lego store, FAO Shwartz (kids played on the giant piano there), Disney store, bead shops and TD Bank which has no ties to the Canadian TD Bank… Very odd there.  We walked to Canal Street and bought Cherries, raw peanuts and strawberries from the vendors, we bought a Hello Kitty backpack for Berry and Angry Birds t-shirts for the boys. We took a cruise of the skyline and saw the Statue of Liberty and the new and old Twin Towers locations. We walked up down and sideways the City, my step count for the Global Corporate Challenge was in the 40,000’s almost every day. We ate Dim Sum in Chinatown and found yogurt in Manhattan. We took in a unique Chinese candy store and had the kids pictures taken with New York’s finest. It was a hot, tiring, but really fun experience. We had very little rain, usually in the evenings and the apartment we rented had air conditioning and Netflicks so the kids were kept cool and they watched Phineas and Fern, Dora and Diego and other kids shows to bide their time from their 6am wake up’s.

By Saturday – a week later – we had said goodbye to Brooklyn and we drove to the pier in Manhattan where we parked for only $21/day so we could hop onto the Norwegian Cruise Ship, the Jewel, for a week long cruise.  The Jewel is identical to the Pearl which we had been on before, however this time with 3 kids we needed 2 staterooms and we had adjoining cabins with the ocean views (we were concerned about having balcony’s). Each room had a bunk bed and a pull out, but we ended up sticking the 3 kids in one room and we hung out in the other.

The cruise was good, the kids camp was okay (although for the life of me I never understand why they won’t: 1) change the kids – not an issue this time around, the boys are 4 and 6, but was a huge problem on the Pearl when Stewie was left standing in the corner soaking wet because they would not ask him if he needed to pee and he forgot, and they didn’t want him sitting and getting the floor wet. 2) Why the kids are inside all the time. 3) Why the kids watch movies in the camp. I don’t pay all that money for my boys to cruise so they can watch TV.  I can turn up the heat at home and we can do that here.

Anyways, we had Berry with us for the trip and that was fine as she was too young for the kiddie camp.  As a family, we all ate together, we swam, we walked the ship endless amounts of time and we walked up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator from the 5th floor, to the buffet on the 12th floor whenever possible and that includes Berry.

Speaking of Berry, she stole the show this cruise with her knowledge of her body parts in Tagalog, with all the Filipino staff calling out for her to perform – which she obliged to do – and the other staff asking for a wave and a smile. Since this ship was also a Nickelodeon ship, and my daughter loves Dora the Explorer, this doubled her fun. “Berry see Dora… Yeh-hey” was her cry. She was one very happy camper. Linus on the other had was miserable. He had bumps on his tongue and refused to eat anything healthy, sticking to the starches – bread, pasta, crackers, cereal and it took him 4 days to get something with vitamins and nutrients in his body before he could have any treats – which turned out to be the night of the chocolate buffet.

So we saw Dora, Diego, Sponge Bob, Patrick Starr and 2 other guys – Chum Chum and Fan Boy if I remember correctly at the character breakfast and at other events for the kids.  It got to the point that the Nickelodeon crew would point out Berry to the characters and she would get hugs and high fives.  She loved them and they loved her.  She had a blast.

Our had 3 scheduled stops; Port Canaveral Florida, their private beach and Nassau in the Bahamas.

We stayed on the boat and swam on the Florida day, taking an hour in the afternoon to taxi into Cocoa Beach to buy bottled water and to play on the beach. Our $24.00 case of water was cheaper than the ships $4.50 a liter water. It was a good buy even if we had to shlep the leftover bottles with us back off the ship. I’ll never forget my wife’s comment to me as we were packing them up; “Start drinking!”

Also in Florida, we walked around Ron Jon’s – which was identified to us as being a tourist destination – it was very cool in there and super hot and humid in Florida so that worked for us. Taking Berry into the ocean for her first time was a lot of fun. We walked to the beach and dipped in our toes, but because it was so hot and the water was sooo nice the 5 of us ended up soaking wet, the boys essentially jumped into the water fully dressed. That was a ton of fun until walking back when they started complaining about being wet, tired and full of sand.

It was also in Florida where we got more information on Hurricane Irene. It was really coming.

From that point I started with my Hurricane Helms sayings… “Stand back, there’s a hurricane coming!” I had the kids doing it too. It fit.

The following day on the Great Stirrup Cay expedition we met a couple couples, both from the NY/NJ area, and we hit it off with a couple from NJ who had kids around the same ages as our boys. We hung out with them the rest of the trip. It made it more fun for us because of the adult conversation and it gave us an opportunity to keep our kids up late and hang out as families.

A side note from the NCL private beach was that Linus got stung in the inner thigh by a jellyfish. He was complaining of an itchy rash on his leg and it looked really ugly, but when I saw an older teen complaining about the same thing, I asked the lifeguard and he said, “oh yeah! There are jelly fish and they sting!”. Thanks buddy. So we went to the dive hut and they sprayed it with vinegar which stung a LOT.  Linus crumpled to the floor crying and the woman there said in a very monotone delivery; “I won’t kid you, the vinegar stings worse than the bite, but it will get better”.  No shit.  Really.

10 minutes later he had completely forgotten about it.

Another highlight of this beach was the outdoor buffet and our 4-year-old eating machine, Stewie, who ate 2 giant hamburgers at 11am topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions.  These were big hamburgers, not the small thin ones. 

We never did make it to Nassau as a result of Hurricane Irene scheduled to be there the same day as us, so the ship turned and booted it for Washington where we stayed for 2 days in the middle of the ocean.

We came into Manhattan and everyone got booted off the ship earlier so the Jewel could take the next group into the ocean before the storm hit.  We got into our car and headed out to visit my wife’s uncle and then to New Jersey to hang out with her cousin. 

While in Jersey we were west enough that the hurricane hit at night when we were sleeping and the following day there was a lot of wind, but we were not in any danger.  The kids LOVED staying inside and playing on their iPads with their cousins and playing with toys and eating treats they would not get at home.  I was watching the clouds fly by in the sky, I took a walk in the storm (and got soaked), my wife went to Target to shop for school supplies, and the kids had the blast.

We hung out for an additional day and left the next morning at 8am, arriving in Toronto at 10:30pm after stopping at every rest station and to shop.

A fun, yet tiring vacation. 

Would we do it again?  Sure.  If there was a way to seperate the kids, it would be better.  Or maybe a shield like they have in cabs.  Watching Berry using the back of his fist to backhand smack Linus every now and then was funny – it’s what she saw them doing, but the mouth fart noise that Stewie taught her… So NOT cool.

I love NY!

Posted in Community, Daddy, disaster, family, health, Life, Linus, Parenting, sleep, Stewie, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Since I Can’t Get a Camera Crew To Follow Us Around, I’ll Blog…


There are so many times that I have wished that I could have a camera crew following around my children – due to their uniqueness, wit and humour – but since that is never going to happen, blogging about them seems to be the perfect fit.

If you have tried blogging about kids, you know what the big problems are, right?  First, having to remember what they said, or did, then there is all the privacy concerns – you don’t want to put them in harm in order to get hits, and finally because as they get older then don’t want stuff about them on the net!

Kids are hilarious.  Admit it.

Take this evening, for example, as my middle child, Stewie was showing a childhood friend of his grampa a new toy that he has called Bey Blades.  In explaining what they are, the question was asked of him, “are they like dreidels?” to which Stewie replied, “they are like dreidels but they are not.  These are made with very sharp steel and if you spin them on your tummy they will slice you in half.”

Oh yes… Very serious boy.

Then there was the day after fathers’ day when Stewie made his 5th consecutive appearance into our bedroom in the middle of the night.  Sometimes he arrives because he’s scared of lightning, other times because he had a bad dream.  This night it was because he was “bored”.

So I walked him back to his room – without talking to him – and tucked him back in the bed.

No sooner had I returned to my bed when he started to wail, and with that, I heard the stomping of his feet as he made his way back to our room.

Then there was silence.

I think I fell right back asleep.

I opened my eyes at what was likely 5-minutes, but felt like 5-hours and there, standing beside my side of the bed, glaring at me with hate in his eyes, was Stewie.

I got out of bed, and walked him back to his room without engaging him, because engaging him is what he wants and if I don’t talk to him, the hope is he’ll stay in bed next time.

But he was starting to complain so I asked him to tip toe back to his room, as I put my finger over my mouth and whispered Ssshhhhh.  That clearly was not what he was hoping for, and instead of tip toeing he began to stomp as loud as he could.

So I got mad and told him if he was going to make any more noise, that I would shut his bedroom door.

NOT A GOOD IDEA!!!

He started to wail very loudly.

Apparently one thing my son hates more than noises in the night is noises in the night in his room with the door closed.

I took a deep breath (probably a very deep breath as it was past 2 in the morning and I made sure I was clear  in the way parenting expert Alyson Schafer taught us and I said to him, “This is your choice.  Do you choose to be quiet and go to sleep, or do you choose to make noise, wake up your brother, sister and mother, and sleep with the door shut”.

He chose to be quiet.

So I left.

Laid my head down on the pillow… closed my eyes… then heard wailing.

So I walked into his room and calmly said to him, “I believe you have chosen to sleep with the door shut” and with that I quietly shut his door and walked away.

He wailed louder than before.

I went into our bedroom and my wife was now clearly awake.  We huddled in for a strategy session.  She suggested I bring him into our bed to sleep before he wakes up the rest of the house.  Not wanting to be a sardine in my own bed, I went to sleep in his bed.

The kid is a master manipulator!  Seriously.  Got what he wanted, which was his mother and got me completely out of the picture… Genius!

He must have still been upset in the morning because while I was brushing my teeth, he confronted me in my bathroom (he’s 4-year-old).  “Are you going to be nice to me today, Daddy?” he asked.

“Are you going to sleep in your bed tonight?” I countered with.

“If you are not going to be nice to me, I am not going to give you back your fathers’ day presents”.

“You took back my fathers’ day presents???”

At which point I heard giggling from our bed.  My wife had heard this exchange and apparently knew he took back my presents.

I got down to his level, gave him a huge hug and kiss, told him I love him and with that, he disappeared into his room, only to return with a bag full of the presents he had given me a week prior.  He unloaded the presents as I stood there wondering how we gave birth to the repo man…

He’s going to be interesting as he grows up…

 

Another interesting parenting moment came one morning last week as we were all struggling though this stomach virus, and our oldest, Linus was sitting on the toilet in his bathroom, Stewie was on the toilet on the main floor of the house and our bathroom was occupied.  Only 30 minutes later did we find that Linus’ toilet was never flushed.  We called him in but he denied it was him.  He said it was Stewie.

“Stewie was on the main floor,” I responded.  “It was totally you!”

“Not it wasn’t” defended Linus.

Believe it or not, this conversation went on for 5 minutes, with myself and my wife defending our position and there was Linus with his one line of defense, “It wasn’t me, it was Stewie”.

He kept this up until we dropped it.

Some battles are just not worth fighting, eh?

I’m going to make a note of this pattern and see if it’s something that progresses, continues or drops off as he gets older.  Defending shit is not worthwhile!

 

Finally, one last Stewie story as tonight, he made his way into our bedroom at only 10pm.  He was watching my wife work on her laptop, and he was very happy to see that she was exploring the online ordering of stuffed Angry Birds toys.

I thought I could capitalize on this moment and be a great parent when I suggested that my wife not order them until Stewie was able to sleep in his bed for 5 nights in a row.   She agreed and together we explained to him why we thought this was a good idea.

Well let me tell you, for those of you who have not met Stewie before, that this bright idea of mine did not go over well at all!  He broke into a fit and through part exhaustion, part stress, he said to my wife that she was the “meanest mummy in the universe”.

That was just the beginning!  I’m starting to see that when he feels jaded, picked on, or feels that he is being treated unfairly, he immediately strikes out against my wife / his mother.  Then he turns his attention to me.

All we heard about for the next 45 minutes through tears, anger and an unwillingness to forget, was that he wanted / needed / was going to get an Angry Bird or he was going to “break down our house”.

Oh my.

He was so over-tired we tried to listen without giggling, but the odd giggle slipped out and I think it made it worse.

Needless to say, we did not order the Angry Birds.  We gave him the conditions, and within 2-3 weeks he had the toy.

Another character trait to watch as he gets older!