Posted in Canada, Daddy, family, Food, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, travel

Mother’s Day, Travel and Food


This Mother’s Day represents the first Mother’s Day without my mother, who passed away last July after a brief, but fierce battle with liver cancer.

I don’t need one day to remember her – Her memory is with me every day, especially when I see the numerous things that my kids do, that I wish her, and my father, were here to see.

Love you, Mom.

That aside, I’m fortunate to have another amazing mother in my life, and that is the mother of my children. She’s been the best mother on the planet for my kids – besides the fact that they (thankfully) get their good looks from her – and possibly their smarts from here, but I digress. She’s been a rock for them and I’ll be forever thankful to her.

One thing that she’s instilled in our family is a love of travel.

As a family, we’ve travelled to the following locations;

  • Eastern Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI)
  • US (mainly NY, but also Florida and Georgia)
  • Ecuador (and Galapagos. Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil)
  • France (mainly Paris with the kids, but most of the country over 4 or 5 visits)
  • Holland (Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans, Edam)
  • Belgium (Bruges, Brussels, Ghent)
  • Japan (Tokyo & Kyoto)
  • Viet Nam (Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang)
  • Thailand (Bangkok, Chaing Mai)
  • Cambodia (Siem Riep, Phnom Pehn)
  • Iceland
  • Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Girona)
  • Ireland (Dublin)
  • England (London)
  • Italy (Cinque Terra, Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Pisa, Lake Como, San Gimignano)
  • Taiwan (Tai Pai)
  • Indonesia (Bali, Ubud, Jimbaran)
  • Central America (Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Dominican, Bahamas, Puerto Rico)

For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to do something special for her, so I asked my kids to talk about their favourite places they’ve travelled to, and their favourite foods from those locations.

Taking that information, I then created a menu, of sorts, and attempted to create (or buy) foods which could be a reminder of the joy we experienced travelling as a family – knowing also that there will likely be no travel for quite a while, as things presently stand.

I bought some Japanese, Italian, and Thai treats, and I bought plain croissants, chocolate croissants, Camembert, dragon fruit, a sourdough baguette, and a soy milk drink.

I then attempted to make savory mushroom crepes, frites with a garlic aioli, and French macarons with a vanilla buttercream filling.

Well, the macarons caused me a whole heck of a lot of problems, so I ran out of time and steam, and at 3am, gave up on the frites.

The crepes were not that much of a big deal – I’ve made them many times before, beginning in high school when I took a baking class instead of Industrial Arts for a 3rd time. I earned the 2nd highest mark in the class – and I used the skills that I learned in class to bake quite a bit growing up.

I never really cooked that much, even though I enjoyed it. I think along the way I just got complacent and lazy, having a spouse who cooks creatively and very well, I lost my ability to cook. I want to get that back, so this was the start of hopefully many more attempts at cooking delicious food.

Here is how my macaron turned out. I coloured the shell and the filling different shades of purple.

Not bad for a first attempt, eh?

Happy Mother’s Day to the mother of my children, and to all mothers, everywhere.

Posted in Daddy, disaster, family, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, travel

Trying to Save my Plant!


I’m trying to save my plant that was given to me when my father passed away in 2002. I left it in “good hands” with my sister, while our family travelled in Asia this past summer (Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan).

I even gave her a tip as to how to take care of this plant – nothing can really kill it – and to watch when the leaves droop, then water it…

She didn’t.

I think for the month we were away, she “missed” it when watering plants. Needless to say it was in really bad shape when we returned.

Now, its a shell of it’s former self. I’ve been taking the pieces out of it and re-planting it trying to keep it alive.

I realized today what she must have been thinking… Like her favourite politician Justin Trudeau who once coined the phrase, “The budget will balance itself”, she clearly felt that, “The plant will water itself.”

In actual fact, sis, and JT, neither of those were going to happen…

Fact.

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 Canada, Community, Daddy, family, money, Parenting, Recommends, The Urban Daddy, travel

Sunwing’s 5 Fun Family Vacations (with Kids)


I came across an email which was entitled; “Creating Back to School Memories NOW!” and I’m a huge fan of anything which creates fond memories for us, as parents, and especially for the kids.

Since we’re never really sure when an opportunity for vacation might pop up, I thought I would re-post this fun list from Sunwing.ca, just in case it could inspire us in the future or inspire one of you.

If you’re looking to take a family vacation this summer that won’t break the bank, grab the kids and Join the Club!

From slime to surfing, Sunwing has rounded up some amazing experiences that are bound to make your little one’s friends jealous come back to school this September. Plus, Kids Clubs are free and part of your all-inclusive package, and the best part, they’ll ensure the kiddies are occupied all week long, you are voted “the best parent ever,” and that you get in some time to relax under the sun.

Here are five extraordinary experiences in the Caribbean to check out this summer:

Get Slimed at Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana

1

Prepare to get slimed and partake in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle slime-making classes! Kids can get up close and personal with their favourite Nickelodeon characters including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. The resort’s Kids Club also features a mega-ball pit and two-storey slide. When the children are not at the Kids Club, the whole family can join in on the Nickelodeon experience: from breakfast with Dora the Explorer, to meeting the splash mob of characters at Aqua Nick water park, to grabbing a selfie with all your favourite characters at Character Central.

Be a Zookeeper for a Day at Memories Holguin Beach Resort
2

Kids can look forward to Zoo Day Tuesdays at this resort in Holguin, Cuba. Hop on a fun carriage ride to the petting zoo as part of the daily Kids Club program. Other highlights include a Friday talent show for kiddies to express their creativity, water games and meet-and-greets with favourite characters, Toopy and Binoo. While the kids are being entertained, parents can look forward to sipping on tropical cocktails on the beach or trying out some exciting water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling.

 

Splash-tastic Fun at Grand Riviera Princess All Suites Spa and Resort

3

Get ready for some fun in the sun in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico! Boasting its own pool and waterslide, the Mini and Teen Club at the Family Club section has everything needed for endless water fun. The property’s daily program of activities run until the evening so parents can take advantage of the many onsite, à la carte dining restaurants with options that include Italian classics, sumptuous seafood dishes, authentic Mexican dishes and more.

 

Live like a Cowboy at Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort

4


Visit the Red Ruby Ranch in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, where little ones can pretend they’re in the Wild West with activities that range from horse grooming lessons and hay rides to bonfires and laser tag. After dropping off the kids at this Kids Club, parents can work on their swing at the Championship golf course (green fees are complimentary) or enjoy a game of tennis. Afterwards the whole family can cool off in the onsite water park, the largest in Montego Bay.

 

Surf it Up at Royalton Bavaro Resort and Spa + Big Kid Fun

5

Surf’s up in Punta Cana! At this newly opened resort, the entire family can experience the ultimate surf machine ‘FlowRider’ and practice catching waves. When the family has dried off, enjoy meet and greets with favourite characters Max & Ruby™. For the teens, a hangout club includes all the latest video games, flat screen TVs, snooker tables and more. A phone charging station makes sure they won’t miss a beat posting their fabulous vacation pics on social and making their friends jealous. They can even call their friends for free with the Royalton app and access to free Wi-Fi. While taking a break from the kids, parents also enjoy their own downtime, relaxing as they float down the resort’s lazy river or savouring a cocktail at one of the eight bars.