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.

 

 

 

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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…”

No Tres-Passing… Once, Twice or even Three Times…


It’s amazing what you get from a 6-year-old who blends the English language with another language and processes it using their special wit and humour.

While stopped at a red light, my daughter must have noticed a sign which read;

She asked me; “What does No Trespassing mean, Daddy?”

“It means you are not allowed on that property / land… Why? Where did you see that?” I asked.

“Oh, over there, in the construction site” she answered.

Then she continued… “But I thought “trespassing” meant you had to pass the place 3 times… Like Uno, Dues, Tres… you know, Daddy… Tres-passing…”

“Ah, I know dear… Very clever!”

I love it.

 

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!

 

 

 

How Much Poison Is Acceptable In Our Technology?


If you’ve been paying attention to the news recently you would have heard about the dangers of putting your cell phone up to your ear, in your pocket or in your bra.

In Canada, the amount of radiation is significant that the Canadian government believes there should be a warning on the packages of cell phone to warn Canadians, well, not to use them as phones…

How Much Poison Is Acceptable in Our Technology?

via Ash Huang: How Much Poison Is Acceptable in Our Technology? — Design.blog