Why I Hate March Break!


I have to be honest with you, and with myself when I say that I hate March Break.  I always have, and to be honest, I likely always will.

Growing up, I attended public school and we had March Break, but my family was not big into travelling so we never went anywhere, never had programs to attend to and never did anything interesting which at the time suited me and my anxiety just fine!

Yes, I spent the week playing street hockey from morning until dark and that was awesome, but that was all that I needed.  The break from school was much needed.

Fast forward to having children, all of which attended private secular schools which did not celebrate March Break (we had our break over the holiday of Passover instead), so while we were working and the kids were in school, people were heading south to the warmth and sunshine while we shovelled snow and continued living life as normal.

Now, with one child left in a secular school and the others in public school, I have some of us in school and some of them on break and my wife and I hard at work.

So now, March break consists of driving the kids to, and from programs, work, work and more work, and whenever I check social media, I see friends and family living it up down south in the sun, sand and surf.

It’s very much like previous years’ where March Break is not a time to go down somewhere warm and sandy but couldn’t because the kids had school and we had work.

I’ve asked all the travellers to please bring back the sun and warmth…

They’ll all likely forget because they’re having such a great time, or at least their social media posts depict a great time.

On the positive side, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time this March Break with my middle child at his hockey camp.  He attended Creative Hockey Development’s (creativehockey.ca) March Break camp – which was put on by my friend, Dusan Kralik, and his new business partner Daniel Erlich.

The camp was incredible!

The hockey skills and pace of the camp were fast and the players even faster.  I think Dusan found a match in Danny as someone who possesses an incredible hockey IQ to go along with his world class skills and speed.

The camp was well run, the kids came off the ice tired and they learned more than just hockey this past week.

Now, as for March Break itself…

Going forward, I’m have to make sure that I refrain from checking social media that week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is a Fine Line Between Smart and Smart-ass…


I’ve always said there is a fine line between being smart and being a smart-ass, and as parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our kids stay on the smart side as much as possible because children usually do not have capability to determine if their smart-ass comment was actually funny, or if it is offensive.

Case in point:TUD Header

Grandfather to child who has just returned from 2 weeks away at sleepover camp: “How was camp?”

Child: “Good”.

Grandfather: “Did you have a good time?”

Child: “Yes”.

Grandfather: “Will you go back next year?”

Child: “Yes.”

Grandfather: “How was bus ride home?”

Child: “Long”

Grandfather: “How long?”

Child: “4-hours.”

Grandfather: “Oh, did you make any stops along the way?”

Child: “Yes. At stop signs and all red traffic lights…”

BAM!

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things That Happened While My Kids Were Away at Camp Arowhon


My children are growing up!  My boys actually went away to sleepover camp for just under 2-weeks earlier this summer and that marked the first time my middle son was away from us for longer than one day.  My oldest son had been away for a weekend at camp but never anything this long.  I think we worried more than they did, to be honest.

We got them ready for camp at the end of last summer but talking about it a lot, and spending considerable amounts of time speak with different camps and upon deciding on Camp Arowhon we then spent 304 more months getting them ready and buying the stuff they needed for their stay.

We chose Camp Arowhon because of the owner, Joanna Kates’ views on bullying.  She has a zero-tolerance policy and she also carefully chooses councillors and who attends the camp.  It almost felt like we had to get the go ahead nod before we wrote that cheque and there were times when I was not sure we were going to be allowed to send our kids there.

In the end it was all worth while as the kids loved it there.  They rode horses, sailed, learned to canoe, paddle their own kayak and most importantly they grew up.

Another wonderful feature about Arowhon is the 100% ban on electronics.  If it’s found, it’s taken away for good.  Not just for the campers but also for the councillors too.  Kids are there for fun, sun and learning, not for video games, texting and other electronic things.  The camp also does not have a parents day, there are no pictures on the website and if kids and parents wish to communicate it’s through hand-written letters.  We actually received 7 letters from our kids and sent 3 of them  That was a lot of fun too.

And the food… The food was great according to my kids.  My middle son even went as far as to say that the soup was better as good as the soup Mummy makes.  Joanne, if you were not aware, is the food critic for The Globe and Mail newspaper – has been for 25-years – so if anyone knows anything about good food, it’s Joanne.

So with our boys away for 12 days, we were left with our daughter – her first time as an only child – we were experiencing new and different things, so here are 13 things that happened / we did / while our sons were having the time of their lives at camp.

So sit back, grab the bug spray, leave the iPod at home, slap on the sun-screen and get read for the list!

 

  1. For the first time in her little life, our daughter had us all to her self, and she did not leave us alone for a second.  It was amazing getting to spend so much time with her, not having to share that attention with her brothers and not having to compete with them for our time.  Plus she’s still at that age where by 7pm she’s exhausted and ready for bed! .

  2. We hopped in the car and made a run for the border – crossing at Niagara Falls (no line up whatsoever) and even after being questions over and over again as to why we were heading across on a Friday morning) we went, shopped, slept, shopped some more and slide back into Canada (only one car in front of us) without a hitch..

  3. We took apart the kids bedrooms and put them back together again… Cleaner, with much less junk, and in a manner which we expect them to keep it in for at least one day when they get back.

  4. The garden grew!  Raspberries (red ones, purple ones and golden ones), green beans, yellow beans, currents… They all made an appearance and we eaten.  Yum.

9. We slept in.  All of us.  By sleeping in, I mean past 6am.  7am is about the latest I’ve slept in the last 8-years.  But 7:30am was an absolute dream!

  1. My wife and I went out… together.. on a date.  I figures since we actually had to speak to each other for 12 days, it might be nice to take advantage of the relative calm and go out.  You know what happened, folks… By 9pm we were exhausted.  But we trooped, stayed out until 11pm, then went home to sleep.

  2. We got caught up on laundry.  We washed everything!  Comforters, duvets, everything because we knew once camp was over and the house was back to 5 people, we would never catch up.

  3. I got to bed early… Twice.  Early for me used to be 11pm, but I’ve been finding that since I started my own business I never stopped having enough to do around the house, so early quickly became 2am.  I actually got in to bed at 9pm one night and by 10:30 another night.  Amazing.

5. I was outnumbered… In more than one way.  Aside from being one male to two females, many long-time readers will recall that my wife kept her last name when we got hitched, and before we had kids we agreed that any boys we had would take my last name, and any girls would take her last name.   I was in the minority.

  1. My oldest son returned with the new-found ability to play the guitar.  As a matter of fact, the day after he arrived home, he asked me this; “Daddy, is that Sweet Home Alabama playing on the radio?”  Then he said; “I can play that on the guitar!”  Sweet!

3. My middle child learned to horseback ride and he loved it!!  Who knew?!?

2. My boys grew up.  They just seemed so different.  My oldest son did not want to come home – he wanted to stay for a couple more weeks (even wrote a letter to us which arrived the day after he came home saying “send more envelopes!  I’m staying for 2 more weeks, and tell my sister I love her and I miss her.”  My younger son, clearly no longer worried about spending time away from home seemed older, more relaxed, and cooler.  Camp did him well.

As someone who never went to camp – I started working full-time in the summers when I was 14-years-old so I could buy plastic goalie pads for our street hockey games, I kept it up and paid for University.  Camp would have been nice, but University was better.  Now that I see how the kids have changed after just 12 days away, I wonder what it will be like next summer after a month away, and if this is the beginning of the kids independence.

  1. We missed them!  Not at first and not always but in those moments when the chaos slows down and we get to breathe, live, relax and look around we realize what a huge part of our lives those children have become and we miss having them around to share with, listen to and teach.

Now they’re back and we get to talk about camp next year!  2 weeks or 1 month…

 

Thursday Thirteen: You’re turn! 

Did you go to camp as a kid?  What did you like the most and what did you hate?  If you did not, what did you do instead?

It Can Be Very Stressful To Be a 4-Year-Old Girl!


My boys will be experiencing sleep away camp this summer. When I was young I remember my mother asking me, and me providing an anxiety-ridden reply that had 2-letters, a “N” and a “O”.

In hindsight, I should have gone, or they should have forced me. Instead, by 14-years-old I was working in the summers and the rest shall we say is history.

So I want my kids to try sleep-over camp, meet new and interesting people (boring ones too, to be honest) and determine on their own if they want to go next year or not.

My 9-year-old has already asked if he can stay for the month if he wants.

I think what helps with the transition is the fact that we’ve been getting them ready for this for the better part of 5-months, from talking about it, to getting them new clothes and items for camp.

So how does all of this relate to the 4-year-old?

This was the morning conversation about camp;

Boo: “My brothers are going to camp?”

Me: “Yes!”

Boo: “They will be sleeping there?”

Me: “Yes!”

Boo: “I will be going to the same camp?”

Me: “No. They will be away at camp, then when they come back they will go to the same camp as you.”

Boo: “I will be coming home from camp every day… On the bus?”

Me: “Yes”.

Boo: “So my brothers will be at camp. They will sleep there, and then they will come back and we will all go to camp together? I will not sleep at camp, but I will come home and sleep at home?”

Me: “Yes! That is exactly what will happen.”

Boo: “GREAT! Whew. I need a break…”

Did your child do THIS at camp this summer?


All three of my children were at day camp for the month of July.  I did not attend camp as a child – apparently I was not interested, however, I worked as a camp councillor at the age of 14.

Surprisingly, this year is the 6th year of camp for my oldest child, 8-year-old Linus.  It is the 4th year for my middle child Stewie, and 1st year for my youngest child Boo.  This year also represented her first time on a bus, but she’s with the her brothers so that made us feel much better.

So each day when they came home from camp, the three of them would trot off the bus – happy to be home and happy to talk about their day.  At dinner we go around the table asking everyone to tell us all about something good that happened today and something bad that happened today.  My wife read that it’s important to get children talking about bad things that happened to them during the day so they get into the habit talking about these things as they get older.  I think it’s brilliant, especially when my daughter would say that something bad about her day was that no one went to jail.

I digress.

One evening over dinner we asked the kids about the good and bad from their day and here was what Stewie came out with;

“Something bad about my day is that there is a boy in my cabin named “Billy” and “Billy” never wins any of the games we have played.  Actually he has never won a game.  Even the games he is winning right up to the end, he loses.”

So my wife asked him this question; “Does that bother you?”

“Yes” he replied.

“Then say something to your councillor, or help him win at something!”

“I’m going to do that” replied Stewie.  “I’m not going to win another game until “Billy” wins a game!

The other bad thing about his day was that his friend and neighbour was having a hard time getting his swimming bracelet, so Stewie had this to say about it to us; I’m not getting my swim bracelet until my friend gets his, because I don’t want him being the only kid in our cabin without it.”

Awww…

So when his councillor called later that evening, I brought up these two issues, and yes the councillor was able to confirm that “Billy” has not won a game this summer and yes, his friend did not have his swim bracelet.  I was surprised to hear from Stewie’s councillor said that Stewie had in fact completed the requirements for his bracelet, but refused to go pick it up – something he found odd – until I explained the reason why.  I just thought he was not taking the swim test or was failing it.

The councillor promised to watch “Billy” and help him along, and also to take Stewie and his friend into the water and personally make sure they get their swim bracelets – something he did the following day – and only Stewie’s friend came away with the bracelet.  Apparently Stewie did not know that his friend passed.  Oops.  Stewie, coincidentally got his 2 days later.

Apparently having his friend as the only kid without a swim bracelet was unacceptable, but being the only kid without his bracelet was totally fine.

He looks out for others…  Love that!

He even had to intervene when a 3-year-old boy pushed my 3-year-old girl.  I had asked Linus to walk over the next day at camp to make sure Boo was okay but Linus said he would not be able to do so – it was too far, they wouldn’t let him… Blah, blah, blah.  Stewie, on the other hand, had no hesitation checking in on her 6-times the next day to make sure she was okay, as well as speaking to her councillor, and finding the boy who pushed her, to tell him to keep his mitts off his little sister.

Such a good boy!Super big Brother