It’s All My Fault!


canadian iglooIt’s all my fault.

Not the fault of the many who removed their snow tires, or put away their shovels, but my fault that it’s snowing in Toronto on April 4th.

And for that, I’m sorry.

You see we have family just south of the border in The United States of Donald Trump, and for what seems like the past couple of weeks, that area has been pounded by snow.

Snow.

I know, crazy, eh?

Since it is my long-lasting belief that most Americans believe that north of the boarder Canada is always covered in snow, I mockingly sent a Facebook message to said relatives telling them that they needed to move to Toronto, not the Southern US because it was plus 8 here and we hadn’t seen snow in quite a while.

I mean really…

Spring weather in Toronto.

Snow in the US…

In April.

 

Clearly Trump saw my message and commended Mother Nature to sick light snow flakes on the City along with 90 km/h winds.

 

Heck… I’ll take the little bit of snow and I’m okay that Americans generally think we live in igloos in exchange for not having to arm our school teachers with guns, and not electing incompetent leaders…

Wait.

Disregard the leader comment, and let’s stick with no guns!

Brrrrrr.

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Federal Budget: Paternity Leave, The Urban Daddy on CTV!


Yesterday was the 3rd Federal Liberal budget and if you paid any attention to the news leading up to the budget, you would have heard that this was going to be a “gender” budget, as our Prime Minister and Finance Minister hope to save Canadian “Peoplekind”,

What made it a “gender” budget was the inclusion of policies aimed to equalize pay between men and women and adopting a paternity leave benefit program which was implemented in Quebec just over 10-years-ago.

As a father of 3 children, I was lucky to have the opportunity to take parental leave with 2 of my three kids.  I was working for the Canada Revenue Agency, and the CRA topped up my salary from the 66% which I would have received while on EI, to 93% of my salary.

Who wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to support his spouse, bond with his children and help out with everything that comes with children, which is why I took 9-months with our first child, 4-months with our second child, and by the time our third child rolled around, I was in the private sector and took just one day.

So who better to speak on the government’s policy than me, right?

I was on the CTV News Network, live, in the morning with Marcia McMillan, and then in the evening, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks interviewed my wife and I for a well done piece on what worked and what didn’t with regard to paternity benefits.

Watch the clip here; CTV Parental Leave The Urban Daddy

It was my first foray into TV – I have been on the radio quite a lot to discuss tax-issues – and I really liked it (except for the way I looked in the evening interview – exhausted!)

Here is how I feel about the Liberals intention vs plan of action; They talk a great game but always seem to fall short, with an ultimate cost to the taxpayers, for their plans.

They said that providing fathers to take 5-weeks off would lure more women into the workforce.

???

There were no new day care spots made available, nor any changes to the Live-In Caregiver program, so it left my wife and I puzzled as to how this was going to lure women into the work force.

Is it possible that behind this message was a belief that men don’t do anything around the household and that if, in 5-weeks – with them being home, changing diapers, cooking meals and keeping the house clean – men will realize they can help out at home, thus lessening the burden on women?

I think that’s a stretch, to say the least, but for $1.2 billion dollars – and starting in June 2019 – men will be able to take 5-weeks off with their partners to help, support and bond.  It’s certainly better than nothing.

It doesn’t change the stereotype that men don’t do paternity leave.

It doesn’t change the hesitation of some firms to hire woman who are in their child-bearing years.

It does make the Liberals look hip, and cool.

I just hope the last point wasn’t the motivation behind this initiative…

 

Words of Wisdom for Parents


Out of the mouths of babes;

“Running shoes are very important, as are smoke detectors in houses.”

Yes.

Yes they are…

 

The Urban Daddy: Back from family vacation. Europe V4.0.


So we have returned from our annual family vacation – I’m back at work, the kids have one week left before school starts, and my wife has the absolute pleasure of coordinating the back to school festivities.  Dentist appointments, vaccinations, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and most importantly, scheduling!

Forget the programming of extra-curricular activities and sports programs, because that is just going to have to wait… So many commitments, and such little precious time.

You get it!

But normally, I do not like to speak publicly about personal matters, however this summer’s vacation is worth sharing not because of what we did, but because of how we did it.

This was our 4th summer in Europe.  As a family.  We plan the trips in October / November and in the summer we pack as little as possible into backpacks, and we go and explore the world.

Since we are a family of 5, staying in a hotel is not a viable option, so we resort to using Air BnB’s so we have choice of location, a kitchen and sometimes other exciting amenities, such as a pool.

With the kitchen we avoid the costly dinners out and instead hit up local grocery stores and eat breakfast and dinner we’ve made ourselves and if we decide not to pack lunch, we can eat out before heading back for a siesta.

This summer took us to Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, and London with many stops along the way via the train, or the car we rented for a week.

We don’t have a home base for the entire trip, instead we stay in places for anywhere from 2-5 days before moving on.  Each new country, city, town bring a new experience and the excitement of a new place which might be better (or worse) than the previous one.

We’ve yet to be disappointed.

I’d say after 5-years of family travels, the one disappointing place we stayed at was in Rome 2-years ago which was in a fabulous location, but the Air Conditioning didn’t work and it was during a hot spell, where the average temperature was 45 degrees Celsius.

This year also represented the first year that our bags were lost during a transfer at airports, and our bags were lost twice, the final time, only 3 of our 5 bags made it home.  The final bag arrived 3 days after us.

Kudos to my wife for planting the seed of travel into our kids.  Imagine taking a 4-year-old back-packing as we did 3-years ago, through Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Belgium.  She was an absolute trooper.  No strollers, just walking, looking at art, and enjoying ourselves.

Now at the ripe age of 7, she’s a pro.

I encourage parents to explore travel with their children to introduce them to how the rest of the world lives.  Sure, we had gone on a family cruise before, and we took the kids to Disney, but before we headed overseas, we explored the East coast of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI – to see if we would do driving trips overseas and after that success, we took the plunge.

I love that my oldest can easily navigate the Paris Metro, or the London Underground.  Even the Seville Metro and Brussels subway pose no issues with him.  Our middle child has found an appreciation for art, museums, and the food and drink that other places have to offer.  He’s in his element wherever he is, and that warms my heart.

Our youngest, my daughter… Such a trooper, and with a strength in languages, she enjoys what we all enjoy… the sites, the food, the language… the experience.

As someone who had to find ways to cope with some significant undiagnosed anxiety in my life, the travel bug has bitten me and I look forward to the flights, train rides, and bus, tram and subway rides because of what they bring.  New experiences, new adventures and quality family time!

For those who knew of our travels, we appreciated the texts and messages as we were in Barcelona one week before that horrible murderous act by a group of criminals.  We were on the exact stop where the van came to rest.  We also were at Buckingham Palace in London a day before some mentally unstable resident showed up with a 4-foot sword there.

But it’s great to be back home, back in Canada, back to the greatest country in the world.

 

 

 

Can I Tell You About: Fenestration


Can I tell you about frustration, err, Fenestration…  You tell me if you’ve had an experience like this before.

First off, this is Fenestration:

Fenestration.JPG

Fenestration stands 68 inches tall and 88 inches wide.

I hate her!

I mean, she’s nice and all, but I hate her because of the bad memories that come with her as a result of a bad decision on my part, and my inability to be mean / stand up for myself.

When my wife and I purchased our previous house, Fenestration was hanging in the family room over the couch.  They room had a built-in wall unit on one wall, a built-in fireplace on the other wall, and a window on the third wall.  With 12 foot ceilings, Fenestration made the room.

But it wasn’t ours… It was art which belonged to the previous owner.

On moving day, the previous owner asked me if we had any interest in Fenestration, because it was too big for his new condo, and it really made the room.

I agreed, and figured that after buying the house, it was a nice throw in which I could always sell if we found something nicer.

“Great!” he said… “Just give me $200 bucks for it.”

<screecchhhh>

“What? $200 bucks???  I don’t want it, thanks anyways”, was my reply.

“No, you should keep it”, he declared.

“Okay, but I’m not paying $200 bucks for it”, was my response.

Apparently, I wasn’t clear, because I had no intention on paying him for this painting and he expected $200 from me, that he showed up at the house 6 times over the next 2 weeks asking for the $200.

I finally told him to come get the painting, but he somehow talked me out of that.

So I caved…

Gave him $200.

Told my wife he backed off his price.

She didn’t buy that story for a second.

So Fenestration hung on the wall for almost 5-years at that house, reminding me that I should have told him to take the damn thing or better, to just throw it in since we had bought his damn house.

Then we moved again… 5 years ago…

One of the last things I moved was Fenestration!

Rode down the main street at 2 in the morning with Fenestration flapping up and down due to the wind.  She refused to break… Damn her!

And now in our new house, Fenestration lives in the basement playroom beside the treadmill and under the hanging TV.  I use that treadmill twice a week, and each time I curse Fenestration!

I tried to sell Fenestration recently, asking $200.01 for the painting and had some quick responses.  One asked me to take $50, the other $150.  Neither deals went through.

I even go an offer from Nigeria to sell Fenestration for $10,000, but I balked at giving them my bank details, social insurance number and PIN number.

This summer, I will sell Fenestration!  I have to.  But I will always have this post to remind me about her, and of course, my wife and he story which might start like this; “… remember that time you stupidly…”