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, Community, Daddy, events, family, Food, Parenting, Recommends, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Celebrate Canada’s Most Iconic Tradition at the 2020 Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival


What’s more Canadian than maple syrup?

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation have partnered to celebrate spring in true Canadian fashion with the annual Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival.

The festival gives visitors from the Greater Toronto Area and beyond the opportunity to savour the season as they get out into nature and indulge in Canada’s most famous food.

Running March 14 – April 12, 2020, the festival takes place at four locations: Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan, Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville, Terra Cotta Conservation Area in Halton Hills and Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville.

The Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival kicks off on the first weekend of March Break and offers visitors the chance to explore the history, customs and production of maple syrup at their local conservation area. With a variety of activities to choose from including horse-drawn wagon rides, maple syrup demonstrations and even special “Maple Syrup by Lamplight” events for adults, the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival has something for visitors of all ages.

Delicious pancakes with fresh maple syrup can also be purchased at all festival locations.

I have such fond memories as a child and teen attending events like this – possibly even this event.

Tickets to the festival are available at the participating conservation areas and online at maplesyrupfest.com, and, tickets purchased online give unlimited general admission to all festival locations.

Hours and dates of operation vary by location and are listed below.
Kortright Centre for Conservation
Open each day from March 14 – April 12
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area
Open on weekends (March 14 – April 12), including March Break (March 16 – 20) and Good Friday (April 10)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Terra Cotta Conservation Area
Open on weekends (March 14 – April 5) and March Break (March 16 – 20)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Island Lake Conservation Area
March 20, 21 & 28
Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit maplesyrupfest.com.

Posted in Life

Thursday 13: 13 Things that I do because, I’m a Dad. A Father. Therefore I do “Dad” things.


As a Dad and a father, things change, and there are now certain expectations or responsibilities which make me who I am. 

Here are just 13 things that changed when I became Dad.

  1. Changing expectations when eating vegetables.  My broccoli no longer includes the flourettes, instead my portion is the stems – the part that no one likes to eat.
  2. .. Yum.  But that would be plain cheese pizza because that’s what the family eats. Or, if I’m lucky. Otherwise, I get a whole lot of crusts, and I hope and pray that those crusts have some sauce or cheese on them.
  3. Leftovers? What are those? As Dad, leftovers are my meals.  After “Daddy, daddy, daddy, I want oatmeal for breakfast” and then after refusing to eat it, I pack it up, toss it in the fridge, and then I either eat that oatmeal for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the next few days.
  4. Sniffing or tasting food which someone suspects may not be suitable to eat. If it looks funny, smells funny, is close to the posted expiry date, or has been in the fridge just a bit too long to feed to the kids, it goes into my tummy. Yum.
  5. Cleaning up Poo.  All Poo, anywhere.  Kids, poo, toilet poo, poo in clothing, poo on floors, animals poo, things that might be poo…
  6. Cleaning up vomit… (see above). Nuff said.
  7. When there is a night walker in the house, I intercept.  If there is a line up to sleep with mommy, I move.  If there is a child falling out of bed, or anything nightly disturbance, Daddy is on the scene! That usually means that within a week, I’ve pretty much slept everywhere in the house, but that’s okay so long as everyone else has a good night’s sleep because I’m so exhausted all the time I can sleep anywhere, anytime.
  8. Carpool / Taxi service, call it what you want, but it’s daddy’s territory.
  9. Back-up school help in areas where I am so not qualified, often at the end of a long day:

“Do quotation marks go before or after the period or question mark?”

“Huh?”

“I think I missed that day in public school”. (Child not accepting that answer).  “There is an American way and a Canadian way.”

Still not buying it.

Stalling long enough to Google that question and come up with this answer:

“There is a difference between US and British/Canadian punctuation styles.  In the US, trailing periods and commas always appear inside the quotation marks, for example, “Let’s go to the zoo.” Or, another example, like the spelling of the word is “ampersand.” Or, final example, He said, “Go now,” and turned away.
But in Canada and in the UK, they follow the logical extension of the quote. The period or comma goes outside the quotation mark, except where the period is part of a quote. For example, He said “The day is long.” Or, the movie was called “Benji”.

How about question marks? Well, If you’re quoting a question then the “?” goes within the quotation marks, as in this example, Sally asked, “Where are you going?”

Not to be confusing, but if you’re asking a question about a quote, then the “?” goes after the quotation marks, as in this example. Did Sally say, “We are going to the zoo”?

Clear as mud, eh? I think I taught them to stop asking me questions.

  1. Act responsibly behind the wheel.  I can only slightly exceed the speed limit if everyone in my car is sleeping and if I do so without putting anyone in harm’s way (like weaving in and out of traffic).  Duh.  Learning to not swear at / talk to other cars was WAY more difficult.
  2. Going to the toilet will / has never been the same. If it’s not trying to figure out how the seat got wet when the boys are supposed to pick up the seat to pee, and how the floor got soaked when nobody in my family admits to having used that bathroom, like ever. Or when there is pee on the wall, or all the toilet paper is in the toilet, or someone forgot to flush, or the icing on the cake, whenever I’m in the bathroom and manage to lock the door only to have it unlocked and before I know it I’m face to face with a child.
  3. Promote the playing of sports for fun, while competing, but always within the rules.  I don’t want to be that Dad who forces my son to play a sport because I never had the chance or was good at it.  That’s the best way to build up resentment and that’s not what our generation does…
  4. Keep lines of communication open at all times, and make sure that children are able to read situations and most importantly that they are able to learn what it is that their mother wants / needs and to be sure that she gets it.  She did, after all, birth those kids which I think trumps (not the Donald) everything else that I can and do as a father / dad.

 

What’s changed for you?

Posted in Canada, Community, events, government, politics

Federal Liberal Government LOVES Provincial Politics, and Visa Versa


Remember in 2015, when the Huffington Post wrote about then Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne sticking her nose into the Federal Election trying to sway votes from the Conservatives towards Justin Trudeau?

Let me first disclose that my political views are closer to the right than they are to the centre, fiscally, and my social views tend to be closer to the middle, but on the left side of the middle.

I do not consider a political decision that I do not agree with to be a scandal.

I respect that parties have platforms which coincide with their political leanings and once elected, that is what will be coming down the pipeline, but I do not agree with the waste of taxpayers money and the continual lies which follow.

When Brian Mulroney needed additional revenue for the country he said he would bring in a Value Added Tax (VAT) and he removed the (what, 26%) manufacturers sales tax and brought in a Goods and Services Tax (GST).

He said it and he did it.

I may not like it but I respect it.

Jean Chretien, however, said something to the extent of; “If I am elected the first thing I will do is remove the GST.”

He did not.

The next time he was re-elected, he held up his red book and declared, re-election = no more GST…

It’s still here.

I do not respect the lying and I find the Liberal Party in Ontario and Federally to be smug and arrogant, like they think they are pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes and that nobody knows this…

They think we’re very forgiving or very stupid.

Either way, under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, Ontario went from being a “have” province into a “have-not” province which might have more debt than “Greece”.

Instead of trying to find ways to not raise taxes, Kathleen Wynne is getting involved into the Federal election – taking shots at Prime Minister Stephen Harper and promoting Justin Trudeau.  My question is why?!?

As residents in Ontario, do we not want her focus on the province and the massive debt, or is it better for us if she is pre-occupied with the Federal Election and with making more TV commercials showing us that she can run.  A Premier that runs, is a fast Premier.

In case Premier Wynne reads this post, here is a reminder of the mess her government has created, and while not inclusive, these items alone should have been a reason for the Ontario electorate to no longer vote this government into office.

In no particular order.
1. The McGuinty Ontario Health Premium – The highest tax increase in Ontario’s history, implemented months after Dalton McGuinty was elected in 2003 on a promise to not increase taxes (even after signing a contract with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to not increase taxes). McGuinty justified his healthcare tax increase on Ontario’s Working Families by saying that he inherited an unknown deficit from the previous Government, yet here we stand today in Ontario with the highest deficit that Ontario has ever had, literally multiplied by the McGuinty Government and Ontario’s Unions. This was the first tax of many new taxes and user fees that Dalton McGuinty has imposed on Ontario’s Working Families in order to support his Union Boss buddies and allow the scandalous corruption to continue. (See: Globe and Mail: The health care premium).

  1. The McGuinty Delisting of OHIP Covered Necessary Health Services – Where after Dalton McGuinty promised not to decrease any health services covered by OHIP, and also not to raise taxes, he did both on the same day by implementing the Ontario Health Premium and delisting coverage of Optometry (Eye), Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Services for Ontarians. (See: Canadian Cancer Care Society: Mixed reaction to McGuinty government’s budget and Toronto Star: Hampton pledges to pay for delisted health services.)

     

  2. The McGuinty eHealth Scandal  – That cost Ontario’s Working Families a Billion dollars in wasted tax dollars (and unprecedented delays in the computerization of Ontario’s health records), and is a true definition of “gravy”, a term that also defines McGuinty’s wasteful mismanagement of the Ontario Government. Here we stand years after this initiative started and Billions of dollars in the hole, and still it is not completed. The eHealth failure was famous not only for its complete lack of progress, but also for its constant usage of sole-sourcing and untendered contracts to Liberal friends, along with scandalous expenses logged by useless consultants, eHealth Executives and Upper Management.  “eHeatlh” has now become a term that is synonymous with scandal, waste and boondoggle.  (See: Toronto Star: EHealth operation bled $1B and Toronto Star – Coverage of eHealth Ontario.)

  3. The McGuinty Slush Fund Scandal – Where Dalton McGuinty’s Government gave $32 Million to Liberal friendly groups (in the form of Government Grants) over a 2 years span with no formal application process and no accountability for how the money would be spent. Just, “here you go, vote Liberal!”  (See: Toronto Star: Insults and accusations fly in Ontario ‘slush fund’ affair and Toronto Star: New charges fuel ‘slush fund’ scandal.)

  4. The McGuinty Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Scandal – Where on the McGuinty Government’s watch, there were multiple accounts of catastrophic corruption related to Lottery Winnings being stolen from Ontario families by Lottery Retailers, countless OLG insider wins, Ontario family tax dollars being corruptly given out via sole-sourced untendered contracts to Liberal friendly firms, and massive Ontario family tax dollar waste via the horrifying expenses by OLG staff again allowed by the McGuinty Government (in exactly the same way it was allowed in eHealth). (See: CTV: Ont. gov’t scrambles to control OLG scandal damage and CTV: OLG: Billions in profits, but lots of headaches.)

  5. The McGuinty CancerCare Ontario Scandal – Yet another eHealth-style scandal costing Ontario Working Families millions of dollars. (See: CBC: Cancer Care Ontario broke rules: audit and Toronto Sun: A ‘scandal behind another scandal’.)

  6. The McGuinty Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) Scandal – Where on the McGuinty Government’s watch, Ontario Families had their homes either significantly undervalued or significantly overvalued by the MPAC, resulting in either a huge loss of their home’s value, or them being significantly overcharged for property taxes. When provided the auditor’s report, the MPAC rejected investigating into the issue. In addition to their failures in providing the basic service for which they are employed, they also were caught in yet another eHealth-type expense scandal. (See: The Ottawa Citizen: Ontario auditor-general says MPAC shortchanges homeowners, hospital wait times not improving and National Post: Ontario’s Audit.)

  7. The McGuinty Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Scandal – Where on the McGuinty Government’s watch, Ontario working family tax dollars that were supposed to go towards vulnerable children in Ontario, were instead squandered on Luxury Vehicles, All-Inclusive Luxury Resort Vacations to the Caribbean and other vacation destinations, Gym Memberships and Executive Allowances for CAS Management. (See: CBC: Ontario children’s aid societies misspent money, auditors allege, National Post / The Ottawa Citizen: Children’s Aid funds misused, auditor says and Toronto Star: Opposition slams Ont. Liberals over CAS.)

  8. The McGuinty / Wynne Gas Plant Scandal – In order to earn a majority government in the upcoming election, McGuinty cancelled 2 gas plants costing Ontarians billions of dollars in cancelled contract fees.  Then came the lies: Having stated that as a senior cabinet minister she had “No idea” about this, Wynne then had all the emails deleted.

9.  Debt, Debt and More Debt.  As of September 2014, Ontario’s debt is $304.4 billion, an amount that has more than doubled in the 12 years the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals have been in office. That’ll be $22,382 from each Ontarian, please. We pay $10.56 billion every year just to carry that debt, which remains the third-largest budget item, behind only health care and education. And the Liberals plan to add another $26.7 billion to the debt with another three years of deficit spending.

10.  Jobs and the Economy – Ontario’s economy continues to struggle. We’ve seen job losses some months and modest job gains others. But despite huge tax increases and a struggling economy, we are still apparently affluent enough to pay for a newly-announced Liberal carbon tax, because, uh, Quebec is doing it too. Don’t worry about the details — Wynne will move very quickly to make you poorer before you even know it. And if you don’t recall the Liberals ever campaigning last year on implementing a carbon tax, you’re right.

11.  Sex education scandal. What is being implemented now is basically the same curriculum that was introduced in 2010. In that year, massive public outcry from thousands of Ontarians caused the Liberals to relent. But now the curriculum has been re-introduced and appears ready to be implemented with pleasure by the Liberals; they have a majority, and you must be homophobic or Conservative if you disagree with their sex agenda.  Ignore, for a moment, the actual curriculum, which is publicly available for anyone to review. The fact that it is being implemented without any consultation with parents is appalling. And then there is that small inconvenient matter of the former Deputy Education Minister Ben Levin (who served under then-Education Minister Kathleen Wynne) recently pled guilty to child abuse crimes, including making and possessing child pornography and counselling a person to commit a sexual assault. The agreed-upon statement of facts demonstrates Levin’s sick fascination with sexually abusing children.

Parents are owed every opportunity to give input into how their children are taught at school. That is especially important when the man formerly in charge of the education department has since been convicted of pedophilia. Rather than pledging to review whether a convicted child sex offender had his fingerprints on the Liberals’ sex education agenda, Kathleen Wynne has outrageously dismissed all her critics as “homophobic” or Conservatives. (The Toronto Star reported that “the Liberal government adamantly insists not, specifically in no way involved with the new sex education syllabus rolled out last week.”

The Liberals have rampantly abused the parliamentary process. Kathleen Wynne sued two Conservatives for questioning her role in the gas plants scandal.

Wynne is also happy to bribe an election candidate with government positions to step aside so her preferred candidate could run and ultimately win in Sudbury (another current OPP investigation).

When NDP Leader Andrea Horwath asked why the Premier wasn’t showing up to Question Period, she was thrown out of the House by the Liberal Speaker. Yes, really; you can do all of these things in McGuinty-Wynne Ontario when you have a majority government and not a care for what anyone else thinks or says.

12.  Teacher, Teacher, Why Won’t You Teach Me?!?

The Ontario Liberal government and labour issues ran rampant throughout the Liberals term in office, with the icing on the cake being a settlement and then the Liberals paying the union $1,000,000 – described by the government as money for pizza”.

 

So fast forward to the Federal election, and here is Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau referencing Conservative leaders Doug Ford and Jason Kenney, as if to say that these leaders are bad for their provinces and thus Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer would be bad for Canada.

Ummmmmm…

Has JT forgotten about how horrible and how corrupt the Ontario Liberals are, actually, were, as they no longer have official party status in Ontario. 

But Trudeau expects Canadians to buy into his rhetoric and believe that Scheer is dangerous, much like Ford – who accepted a near-bankrupt province and has been fighting to turn around the fortune without raising taxes as the Liberals do.

I think JT needs to campaign on his own record – damn – he cant do that because aside from his ill thought out cases of blackface and brown face, his only other claim to fame, legalizing marijuana, means his re-election hopes will go up in smoke.

 

Posted in Canada, Coffee, Daddy, Life, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

September in Canada


September in Canada is unlike any other month. School starts, people return from vacations, the Canadian National Exhibition comes to an end, and the weather… Oy, the weather.

Two days ago, the temperature was 20 degrees Celsius and people went nuts. You would have thought it was -20 degrees.

“Summer is over”.

“It’s going to be a very long and very cold winter”.

Those were just some of the comments being fired around social media and in the news.

Then yesterday… Yikes. It was 29 degrees with a humidex making it feel like it was 38 degrees.

Sweat.

As I walked along the TIFF route, all I saw was tank tops, shorts and lots of hot, sweaty people.

And then there is today… 15 degrees in the morning with an expected high of 20 degrees to be reached later this afternoon.

It’s down right confusing. Not the weather. It’s always been like that in September. What’s confusing is what to wear!

I happen to be typing this while sitting in a Starbucks location awaiting a client. I’m clearly not the only person confused by the weather.

Waiting for their orders are 5 people;

  1. A girl in short shorts and a t-shirt
  2. A guy in khakis, wearing a dress shirt with a sweater-vest over it
  3. A woman with a long-sleeve shirt, pants and a toque
  4. (and 5) 2 men, both in shorts, but one is wearing a jacket and the other is not.

That’s quite the range!

Worth noting, however, is that every single one of those orders was for a hot drink.

That’s September in Canada, eh?