Spring Has Sprung, the Grass Has Riz, I Wonder Where the Birdies Is?!?


Ahh, spring.

Ahhh Spring…

Ah-chooooooooo… Damn.  It’s spring.

 

Spring time is finally appearing here in Southern Ontario and aside from the increasing temperatures, here are the 13 most obvious ways to tell that Spring has Sprung.

  1. Sports cars in need of muffler repair and convertible cars are zooming around, blasting their horrid music and looking for attention

  2. A.L.L.E.R.G.I.E.S

  3. People are wearing colours again!  Yay.  Winter is dreary enough and everyone in black makes it that much more bland and blah.

  4. People begin to stink.  Not from sweat, at least not yet, but now is the time of year when they think a little bit of cologne or perfume might be a good idea but it’s not.  It’s horrid if I can smell it over a super-stuffy nose. (See 12)

9.  TAXES!!!  It’s tax time!!  Don’t forget to file, even if you think you don’t owe.  File, file, file!  If you need help anywhere in Canada, search up and hit up inTAXicating.

8.  Flips flops and PJ’s make their returns to coffee shops.  In the winter it’s just too darn cold to roll out of bed and drive or walk to the local coffee shop, but not in the spring!

7.  Exposed skin everywhere on everyone, male, female, young, old… If it’s in combination with leggings or yoga pants, it’s a bonus!

6.  I see neighbours!  Seriously, I cannot believe how little we get out in the winter – especially with kids programs keeping us out and around – I found out this morning that our neighbour had a baby and we didn’t even know she was pregnant.  So hard to tell covered in a giant Canada Goose jacket.

5.  Bikes everywhere!  And I’ve mellowed over the years, so I want bikes and bike lanes everywhere.  I also want safe and clean public transit and I want better roads and more parking for cars.  I want everyone to commute and be happy and healthy and safe.  Hey, City of Toronto… If you want business owners to thrive and survive, back off the parking tickets for people who park in actual spots.  If they park illegally, or block traffic, tag and tow them, but let businesses earn money!

4.  Joggers abound!  I’ve always said that out-of-shape joggers (like myself) run at night when no one can see them shaking and bouncing around or hear them gasping for air.  The fit joggers run during the day where everyone can see them.  Whatever your motivation, just run!

3.  My lawn kicks ass!  My front lawn is very green and soft.  I put the snow on it in the winter before the City salts the street or sidewalk and in the spring, and it makes a difference.  It’s so nice, and I have a neighbour who doesn’t talk to anyone but I catch him walking across the street and touching my grass in awe.  Love it!

2.  Change!  Changes come in spring.  People clean their houses, change their jobs, their clothes, their demeanor, and even the homeless-looking guy who visits the Starbucks I frequent cut off his ridiculously long white beard.  Wouldn’t have recognized him – looks somewhat respectable now – except for the same army fatigue pants he wears every day and the shmatta (towel?) he covers his head with.

1.Spring means an end to winter programs for my kids, so say goodbye to hockey, but it also means saying hello to baseball (call me “coach”) and to being able to throw a ball around and walk to park and shoot hoops, or go for a bike ride, and work at losing the winter gut and getting back into a shape that doesn’t resemble a pear.

3 cheers to spring!

Hip hip, hooray

Hip hip hooray.

Hip… Hip… Achhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhooooooooooooooooooo

 

Geez, I hate spring!

 

 

 

Early Spring or 6-More Weeks of Winter? Groundhog Day vs. Spring Training:


Staten Island Chuck

Balzac Billy

Wiarton Willy

Shubenacadie Sam

Punxsutawney Phil

 

So many Groundhogs… So many predictions…

In this day and age of social media, weather mapping, satellite weather patterning, so we really believe that a groundhog looks for his shadow to predict whether or not the region will experience six more weeks of winter or the coming of spring.

My kids wanted to go somewhere… Anywhere… to hang with the crowds who will have gathered to see if groundhogs throughout the area see their shadow to signal another six weeks of winter, or if they call for an early spring.

This year, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, predicted 6 more weeks of winter, while Staten Island Chuck, Wiarton Willie called for an early spring.

The tradition of Groundhog Day can be traced to a German myth on Candlemas Day.

It was believed that if any animal came out from hibernation on February 2nd and saw their shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter.

The myth was turned into a reality in the early 1880s, when Pennsylvanian settlers searched for a groundhog to see the shadow and local newspapers reported about the hunt.

Since that day, the celebration spread throughout the country, and other areas have hopped on board with rodents of their own.

While many people in the US focus on Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, Canadians like to focus on Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam, while Western Canadians can turn their focus to Balzac Billy.

Being close to the US, we know that New Yorkers pay attention to Staten Island Chuck – real name Charles G. Hogg – with an 80% accuracy prognostication.

Chuck / Hogg, was the groundhog who bit former Mayor Bloomberg and was dropped by then Mayor de Blasio.

Even in Long Island, they have their own groundhogs, yes, 2 of them, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal.

So with so many groundhogs and so many predictions, we can be sure of this… Spring is coming, eventually.  Spring training for baseball has always been my sign that spring is around the corner and with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than 3 weeks, I cna get ready to break out the shorts and sandals, right?

But for the kids… it’s all about the groundhogs! Consensus rules!

 

The World Series Starts Tonight! Which Jinx Ends?!?


So the World Series begins tonight in Chicago as the Chicago Cubs who last won the World Series in 1908, face the team from Cleveland (team name omitted on purpose) who last won the Fall Classic in 1948.

Contrary to the belief of my children, neither myself nor my pet dinosaur were alive when the Cubs were last named World Champions.

As a diehard Toronto Blue Jays fan, I could vote for Cleveland because they eliminated Toronto, or I could vote for the Cubbies and their poor, suffering fans.  The Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association also eliminated the Toronto Raptors from the NBA playoffs so I have reason to hate Cleveland, but then again the poor City finally got one World Champion so another in the same year would be wonderful for them, right?!?

Of note in this series, is which team will have the jinx removed from their franchise.  The Cubs were jinxed because of some goat, while the Cleveland team was really jinxed by a Native American group who disapproved of their use of team name, logo and mascot.

The Cubs curse is known as “The Curse of the Billy Goat” and was put in the team in 1945 by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern. Apparently he used to bring his goat to the games at Wrigley Field in Chicago and the odor (not Roughned) of his pet goat, Murphy, was bothering other fans so he was asked to leave the park during game 4 of the 1945 World Series.

While leaving, the Tavern owner declared “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more”, and they didn’t, losing the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers and then never making it back until this season – 46 years after the death of the Tavern’s owner.

Now, the Cleveland curse is quite different.

Some may say the curse on the Cleveland came from trading star players after star player, however, the curse on the team stems from the teams name, “Indians”, which originated from a request by then club owner Charles Somers to baseball writers to choose a new name to replace the current team name, the “Cleveland Naps” following the departure of Nap Lajoie after the 1914 season.

“Indians” was chosen because writers used to call the Cleveland Spiders baseball club, the “Indians” in reference to a Native American player named Louis Sockalexis.

The team is also referred to as the “Tribe” and their “mascot” Chief Wahoo (who is actually a Brave because Chief’s have a many feathers).

The team itself, began playing organized ball in 1894 in Michigan, as the Grand Rapids Rustlers. The team moved to Cleveland in 1900, changing their name to the Lake Shores.

It has been said that until Cleveland change their team name and use of Chief Wahoo, the team will be forever jinxed.

Either way, one of these jinx’s will end at the conclusion of the World Series.

My 11-year-old son was wondering what it was like watching baseball back in 1908.  There was no TV, no way to broadcast the games, certainly no way for someone in another country to learn of the game or the results from so far away.

He was thinking about what it would have been like to have been a young boy in Poland, where his now 100-year-old grandfather grew up and eventually had to flee for his life from the Nazis before making his way to North America, then to Canada.

Baseball, eh?

Hard to think about baseball when Nazi’s chase you from your home, kill everyone in your family, then give your home and your belongings to others.

Life goes on.

A curse will end.

Interesting perspective from an 11-year-old.

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings and More


Monday Musings and More

Exercise:

So my wife found a 21-day exercise program for us to do.  My first question to her was, “will there be fat people in the video?”, because I am not doing any exercise program where every person is 20-years-old, has 1% body fat and muscles where I didn’t know muscles could be.  It is those workouts where I feel my age and more afterwards.

After one workout, I have to say that I can still move, and yes, there was a “less-fit” person in the video.

If you have never seen me, I have to explain that I am a fairly big guy, bone-wise, and I hide my weight well considering how much I actually weigh, probably because I’m active – play ball-hockey in a league at least once a week – and I try to get active a couple more times per week.

In fact, I hide my weight so well that I always win in a guess-your-weight contest, the last couple of times the “expert” was off by 70lbs. I even gave him a second and third chance but he just got more and more upset, then was embarrassed once I stepped on the scale… Oops.

 

Sports:

Does NYY DH A-Rod deserve to be an all-star? No, but I have to say that I was sure I would NEVER be able to forgive this cheater for being such an arrogant asshole while cheater the entire time, but with all the crap the Yankees heaped on him, I actually feel that if he is clean, he has worked very hard to earn his playing time and I’m actually kind of rooting for him.

TNA / Impact Wrestling:
Because of the dumbass decision to have their program on The Fight Network, one of few stations we do not get in our massive cable package, I have to resort to watching it on YouTube.  The YouTube broadcasts are worse than awful, the program is still very confusing and with rumours of wrestlers leaving en mass, I’m watching less and less.

Even worse is Josh Matthews pretending to be at the event when we all know the show is taped and the commentary is being recorded after, but why does it look like he’s in a bee hive and does it sound like he has his hand over his mouth when he is speaking.

Again, I’m thrilled that Mike Tenay is not on these shows, but the quality of these broadcasts make Impact look more like Ring of Honor.

Why can’t TNA just finally drop the TNA, merge with a legit brand or bring back a real name and get back to basics. Fewer wrestlers, more stories, and get fans excited about the brand again rather than having us rush to be watch the death of the show.

Before it’s too late…

 

Coffee:
The Second Cup’s Butter Pecan coffee might just be one of the best coffee’s available. It’s fantastic, and requires less sugar than other coffees.

It was nice to see my new favourite coffee company, Javaworks, is the official coffee supplier for one of our favourite breakfast joints, Steve’s on Bathurst Street, just north of Wilson Avenue, in Toronto. The coffee there is always delicious, and now I know why!

 

The Urban Daddy:
If you’re looking to be more involved in The Urban Daddy, now might just be your chance! I’m looking to get back blogging on a more frequent timetable and to have some time to address the pitches and requests which come my way daily.

I cannot get to them all, and as of right now, I’m giving preference to the local (Toronto and surrounding area) ones.
If you are interested in writing a post her and there, or attending an event on behalf of The Urban Daddy, and then writing up a post, with some pictures, please let me know by email to: realurbandaddy@gmail.com

I’m not just looking for one person, to be honest, the more the merrier.

 

Children:
With 2 of my 3 kids away at sleepover camp, I have found that the 3rd and youngest really seems to be growing up fast!

I also cannot believe how much she talks! It seems like it’s been non-stop and while I felt this way last year, I find this year is even more tiring.

Anyone else have similar experiences?

 

Tax:
As many long-time readers will be aware, I’ve been operating a tax consulting business for a few years now, and I thought it might be interesting to point out in a parenting / family blog, that the most common question asked of me this past week had to do with divorce.

More specifically, what happens when a husband and wife are in the process of divorcing and the husband either has not filed, nor disclosed his accurate income to the courts. Is there any recourse on the wife’s side, or should the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) be made aware of this?

Furthermore, if the husband has a debt owing to the CRA, can the CRA take actions against the soon-to-be ex-wife and / or seize and sell the house.

The answer is… Maybe.

It depends on the details and I’m more than happy to listen to a situation and provide my thoughts.

My email is info@intaxicating.ca

Resiliance! A Great Trait For a Child To Have, and Also a Concern…


My oldest child has become VERY resilient!  This is a good trait to develop, but also has a pretty huge downside.  Can I explain how we’ve come to figure this out…

  • Kids can be mean.
  • Kids can also interpret the words and actions of others in a completely different way then it is intended.
  • Kids also don’t always fit in to their surroundings, we all know that, especially at school because who can predict what the best school is for a child before having an opportunity to learn about how your child learns and what they need.
  • How kids handle themselves – the only thing they can (presumably) control – can make the difference between them having a great time at school, or them being miserable every day.

After that, you either wind up with a resilient child who can take it and move forward, or it breaks your child and they either fade away or strike back.

Take, for example, this scenario:  My oldest son really wanted a pair or wrist bands.  Badly.  So when we found a pair at Dick’s Sporting Goods in NY, he was over the moon and he wore them to school every day… Every day until someone commented on the fact he wears them every day – and that comment might have been just a comment, or a judgement – but my son has not worn them every single day since.  In fact, he went a while without wearing them, but has slowly started to wear them where appropriate again.

He knows he has to be his individual and generally he does what he wants, but he felt they were poking fun at him, and he dealt with it by not wearing them at school.

Resilient?  Nope.

But it made him very aware of what others felt about him and he has always been quite very aware of his own self, so he adjusted his actions and his behaviour to fall in line with his peers as best as he could in order to stay under the radar.

Quite un-sporty, he even started playing sports with the sporty kids so that he could fit in better and while below the experience and skill of his classmates, they mostly tolerated his presence but he played anyways because he knew the only way he could improve was to play and get better.

From that came the courage to try out for the soccer team.  We were thrilled.  He didn’t make the team, but he tried and we were very supportive and encouraging, as were his friends.  Then they added him as a call-up and eventhough he played less that the other kids and the kids bugged him about that (“you really didn’t make the team”) – he went out, tried, and had fun.  By the last game of the season, ignoring all the comments from the other kids, he improved a lot and was on the top line with his best friend and the team’s best player.  They played a lot, and he got to show his skills.

I helped to coach by coming to the games and encouraging the kids, supporting the team and cheering them on.  I heard the comments and I felt bad for him, but he didn’t care.  It was less important than his opportunity to play in a team environment, learn the game and be one of the boys.

My oldest boy also swims… Well.   He has been in a pre-competitive program where he became the dark horse according to the program’s director.  He spent the first 4-6 weeks cruising along the side wall where he could, but by the end of the program, he was the top swimmer, and his breast stroke and back stroke were referred to as “a thing of beauty” and that he was “graceful” and “surprisingly strong”.

His first crack at competitive swimming saw him win his first 2 races by a substantial margin, and a second place finish in his third race because he stopped to see where the end of the pool was.  He cheers on his teammates, and in competitions, he cheers on everyone in the water.  He’s that kind of kid.

Just the other day was his year-end swim competition and again came 2 first place finishes, and then with a race right after his previous race, and double the distance, he swallowed some water and came in 3rd.

Incredible.

He’ll be joining a swim team next year!  He wants to go to the Olympics.  He gives partial credit to @HarveysCanada (more in a future post).

He had an opportunity to swim for his school and he was really excited about it, until a kids in his class told him that “swimming was stupid, you get a better workout playing hockey”.  It crushed him… For a day or two, but instead of arguing and debating the issue, he recognized it was factually incorrect and he chose to leave it alone and move on.

He went to the school swim meet as one of only 2 boys there and he swam against kids much bigger and stronger than him, and he came in 3rd in the races he competed in.  He was thrilled, he were proud of him and the swim teacher saw this bright, sporty kid, step up and support his school.  Even the older girls at the meet cheered him on and supported him because he was an unknown to them and here he was at one point moving from last in a race to 2nd.  #Guts.

Now, he has found a love for baseball.

I love baseball.  LOVE it!  I never played but I should have!  I’m a pitcher to the core and I wanted to play but according to my parents, I never asked to play, so I did not.  Obviously, those days are behind me but I can live through my son, right?  🙂

My son tried out for the school softball team and didn’t make the starting squad – there were kids from both grades who has played in leagues in previous years which he did not, but he was added as a call-up.  He cannot go to any of those games because they conflict with his hardball baseball season which he just stated and his swimming program.

I was concerned that being left off the school team might hurt his confidence more than it would fire him up, but I was wrong.  He has started this season – his first – on fire and he is tearing things up.  His first game he went 2 for 3 and stole a base.  His second game 2 for 4 with 2 stolen bases and his third game he got to pitch and in the 2 innings he pitched, he struck out 4 and got the save as his team won the game.  He followed that up by going 1 for 3 and by throwing out a running at home from right field.

His baseball coach loves him!  With a little more practice, his coach figures he might be the team’s best pitcher.  He already throws hard and is very accurate.  In his eagerness to put the ball in play, he struck out twice last game watching the ball sail out of the strike zone but called a strike by the umpire.  By not watching baseball, he doesn’t know things like that can happen.  He’ll learn.

He doesn’t tell the kids on his school team, nor does he mention it to his gym teacher, but he humbly accepts that he’s good at baseball and he loves being part of the team.  He’s been a great teammate, and he’s been a cheerleader on the bench in between innings.  He has showed his empathetic-side when one of his teammates got hit by the ball and was hurt, by going over to check on him right away.

He has turned negative situation after negative situation into positive ones and I tip my hat to him.

But with the good comes the bad, and the biggest concern with a resilient kids, is the internalizing.

The appearance that he’s okay with all of the negatives, and the accepting of being treated this way can have serious long-term ramifications as he learns to ignore poor treatment and convince himself that that it’s okay.  It absolutely bothers him, and he absolutely keeps it all in at that moment.

One day he’ll need to speak to a professional or I worry that he will snap.

I’m glad that most of this revolves around physical activity and I hope he will be able to channel this frustration into energy to perform better at whatever sport he is playing, but until that happens I worry that these disappointments will impact his ability to enjoy sports and he’ll be too worried worrying about what others will say if he does not succeed to play well and enjoy the game.