Tag Archives: family

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills, Michigan is open! Perfect for a Road Trip, eh?


Always looking for something new, fun and exciting to do with the kids on weekends and during the summer, I was tipped off about the recent opening of the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium in Auburn Hills, Mich., which happens to be a short drive from the Canadian border here in Ontario.

Having travelled to Rochester, New York to take the kids to their awesome Science Centre, Play Museum and Planetarium, the SEA LIFE Aquarium can be added to the list!

This new facility opened January 2015 and is beginning to ramp up for the spring and summer seasons, providing a great option for Canadian families to go for a road trip or weekend away.

Detroit Aquarium Ocean tank 1 Detroit Aquarium Touchpool2

NEWS RELEASE

Experience an array of exotic sea life at SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

Michigan’s brand new aquarium will transport you into an enchanting underwater world, bringing you nose to nose with sharks and igniting your passion for the sea.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April, 2015 – SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium, the 35,000-square-foot aquatic attraction at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, officially opened its doors to the public this past January, offering up close and personal experiences with sea creatures to visitors from across North America.

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium takes guests on an awe-inspiring, educational journey through an amazing underwater world featuring more than 5,000 incredible creatures such as sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, eels, sea horses, tropical fish, a Giant Pacific Octopus and fish native to the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways. Guests have the unique opportunity to get nose-to-nose with these creatures in interactive, engaging exhibits, including a dazzling 180-degree ocean tunnel, and a hands-on touch pool.

“Just a short drive from the Canadian border, our location at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets makes for the perfect family day trip,” says Debbie Gibb, SEA LIFE Michigan’s Marketing Manager. “Our state-of-the-art aquarium can be enjoyed by everyone – from a family trip, to a fun date night idea – and with our emphasis on fun education, when you visit SEA LIFE not only will you learn something new, but you may also be inspired to support our worldwide conservation efforts.”

Enjoy the beauty of the ocean and its creatures by holding a crab or touching a sea star at the interactive touch pool, watching the fun talks and feeding shows throughout the day, and taking in the experience of watching more than 5,000 sea creatures throughout the attraction.

Located 45 minutes from the Canadian border, the brand new SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium is also open for school and group tours seven days a week and birthday parties on weekends.

Annual passes and regular tickets are available online at www.visitsealife.com/michigan/buy-tickets.   Children under the age of three-years-old are always free.

About SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium is a 35,000-square-foot aquarium in Auburn Hills, Mich. based Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. As the 7th SEA LIFE location in the United States, and the 42nd in the world, SEA LIFE Michigan features engaging, educational and one-of-a-kind experiences that bring guests nose-to-nose with more than 5,000 amazing creatures, including sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, sea horses and much, much more. SEALIFE provides a glimpse of the diversity of marine life while also playing an active role in animal and environmental conservation. Visitors will see strong evidence of SEA LIFE’s Breed, Rescue and Protect activities around the world, including new projects developed locally.

For more information, visit www.visitsealife.com/michigan.

 

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OMG, it’s True! Bruce Jenner Will Sit Down With Diane Sawyer to Discuss His Gender Transition


When my wife told me about Bruce Jenner’s transformation from a man to a woman, what I thought and what I said were completely different.

I said something to the effect of, “yeah, well it’s not true, the sources are from complete rags and I have watched the Kardashian show once or twice and it’s all BS”.

What I was thinking was; “Who really cares.  It’s his life, his body, if he wants to be a she, then good for him/her!”

Then I forgot all about it until I saw this article: https://ca.yahoo.com/celebrity/s/bruce-jenner-sit-down-diane-sawyer-discuss-gender-021500201-us-weekly.html

So if you don’t know, (William) Bruce Jenner is a former U.S. track and field athlete and current motivational speaker and reality TV personality, who won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal.
He’s been getting ready for this transformation by stepping out recently sporting longer hair, fuller lips, painted nails, and diamond earrings.

bruce-jenner-sports-bra-gallery

He apparently has the full support of his 10 children and stepchildren, including stepdaughters Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, daughters Kendall and Kylie, and sons Brody and Brandon.
Amazing!

Real, or not real?

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Citizenship and Immigration Canada announce Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program, formerly known solely as the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), and the Canadian government hopes that these improvements will:

  • Result in faster processing at all stages of the program
  • Provide faster reunification of families in Canada
  • Create better career opportunities upon completion of the program, and
  • Establish better protection against potential workplace vulnerability and abuses

These reforms were put in place to address some key concerns of the old Live-In Caregiver program through the removal of the live-in requirement and increasing the processing time for permanent residence.   In the old program there actually were employers who felt that since the caregiver was living in their homes that they were available to work 24/7, and even questioned their caregivers who wanted to go out in the evening, or stay away on the weekends.

Another major problem with the old program was the lack of long-term opportunities for caregivers who, through talking to their peers, waited for their program requirements to end so that they no longer needed to live-in, and could demand a higher wage.  Often this was not a discussion between the employee and the employer and thus a job change was the often outcome.

The resulting job change often meant a higher salary, but in the same field, or with less hours, or with less “perks” like meals and living accommodations earned as the caregiver and the families bond over the years.  It’s usually a major step backwards when the caregivers should be leveraging their employers for their next step once their employment is no longer required.

In addition, CIC plans to reduce the backlog by admitting 30,000 permanent resident caregivers and their family members in 2015, an all-time high, and also a major change in direction from a government which has always publically stated that the Live-In Caregiver Program was not meant to be used for reunification.

CIC also announced that they will be dropping the live-in requirement for caregivers.  If employers and caregivers wish to agree to live-in arrangements, they can continue to do so.  In addition, caregivers currently in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) may choose to live out and later apply for permanent residence by applying for a regular work permit to replace their LCP-specific work permit.

On November 30th, 2014, the Canadian Government launched two new pathways for caregivers which will:

  • accept up to 5,500 applicants for permanent residence per year plus family members,
  • process these permanent residence applications with a 6-month service standard, and
  • accept applications from those already in the LCP queue who prefer one of the improved pathways

The 2 New Pathways:

1.  Caring for Children Pathway:  A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided child care in a home, either living in the home or not.

Eligibility is based on:

  • Work experience – A minimum of 2 years of Canadian work experience as a home childcare provider, with a work permit.
  • Human capital criteria – A 1-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and language level of at least initial intermediate

2.  Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway:  A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided care for the elderly or those with disabilities or chronic disease at higher skill levels in health facilities or in a home

Eligibility is based on:

  • Work experience – A minimum of 2 years of Canadian work experience as a registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse aide, orderly, patient service associate, home support worker or other similar occupation, with a work permit.
  • Human capital criteria – A 1-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and an appropriate level of language proficiency to practice their occupation, ranging from initial intermediate to adequate intermediate

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What sort of work permit should I apply for if this is my first time as a caregiver in Canada and my employer applies for a Labour Market Impact Assessment after November 30, 2014?

A1: You will need to apply for a regular work permit, not a specific caregiver work permit.

You can live in your own home. If you and your employer have agreed that you will live in their home, this should be:

  • in your employment contract, and
  • noted in the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) request by your employer to Employment and Social Development Canada. Your employer will have to confirm that the accommodation they are providing meets acceptable standards before they get the LMIA.

Q2: I am working as a live-in caregiver but would like to move into my own home. Can I?

A2: To work as a caregiver on a live-out basis, your employer will need a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and you will need to apply for a new work permit based on that LMIA. In addition, you would have to apply for permanent residence through the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathway, and not through the Live-in Caregiver Program.

Q3: I have submitted an application for permanent residence through the Live-in Caregiver Program. Can I submit an application to either the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathway as well?

A3: If you meet the requirements of either the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathways, you may submit another application for permanent residence, including providing the required information and processing fee.

Q4: I am already working as a live-in caregiver. Will I be able to apply for permanent residence when I complete the work requirement?

A4: Yes. You may continue working as a live-in caregiver and apply for permanent residence when you meet the work requirement. You do not need to switch to one of the new pathways.

If you choose to remain in the Live-in Caregiver Program pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will still be based on the requirements of that program. This includes the requirement to live in the home of your employer.

If you choose to apply to the Caring for Children Pathway or the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will be based on the requirements of those pathways.

Q5: I just applied for a work permit as a live-in caregiver. Will I be able to apply for permanent residence when I complete the work requirement?

A5: Yes. You may come to Canada to work as a live-in caregiver and apply for permanent residence based on the requirements of the Live-in Caregiver Program. This includes the requirement to live in the home of your employer.

If you choose to apply to the Caring for Children Pathway or the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will be based on the requirements of those pathways.

Summary: What are the improvements to the Caregiver Program?

As of November 30th, 2014, the Caregiver Program includes two new pathways for permanent residence for foreign workers with experience as caregivers in Canada.

The two new pathways are:

  • Caring for Children
  • Caring for People with High Medical Needs

For both the Caring for Children Pathway and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway:

  • You do not need to live in the home of your employer to qualify for permanent residence.
  • You do need to work in Canada with a work permit in an eligible occupation for two years.
  • You do need to meet requirements for language ability and education.

In addition, the Live-in Caregiver Program pathway to permanent residence is still open for all live-in caregivers who:

  • have started working in Canada as a live-in caregiver, or
  • have applied for a work permit as a live-in caregiver, or
  • apply for their initial work permit based on an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment that had been submitted by the employer to Employment and Social Development Canada by November 30, 2014, and
  • complete the work requirement of the Live-in Caregiver Program.

All your questions, plus more, can be answered here; (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/index-featured-int.asp), on the government’s website.

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What’s Up With The Random Posts? A Family Vacation, Of Course!


I’ll tell you what’s up with the random posts that came infrequently to The Urban Daddy during the month of August.

VACATION!

I had a bunch of posts in my draft folder, and I scheduled them to come out while we were away on vacation.  Unfortunately, I still have about 77 more of them to get through…

As for the vacation, all 5 of us filled our backpacks up and headed out for a 19-day adventure which saw us leave Toronto and arrive in Iceland, then on to The Netherlands, Belgium and Paris, France before heading back to Toronto via Iceland. The trip was fantastic, the kids were amazing and my wife is the world’s best travel planner. Seriously.  She did not miss a single detail and I learned how to plan a vacation right down to places to eat, foods to buy, where to buy them and what souvenirs to seek out.  She’s amazing at this.

Without getting into too much detail about the trip, I can say that we loved Iceland a lot!  We rented a car, drove the Golden Circle and embraced the culture as much as we could. Icelandic people are beautiful and friendly and food is expensive, unique and tasty!

We saw waterfalls – especially the incredible Gulfoss waterfall – geysirs, hot springs and every now and then the sun would set so the kids could fall asleep.  Instead of going to the Blue Lagoon, we went to a small hot spring at the base of a mountain, just past a church and peeled off our clothes, changed into bathing suits and hopped in with a couple from Denmark.  It was very hot and very bubbly, like nothing we had ever seen before, and getting out of the water into the very cool air, we barely noticed the cold as we changed back into our clothes and walked back to the car.

We swam at night in the public pool near our rented house with the locals and warmed up in the hot pools where temperatures ranged from 37 degrees to 44 degrees.  On the food side, we all tried the famous Icelandic hot dog (only I liked them) and Boo and myself were the only brave ones to try eating whale (which I thought was delicious and a bit gamey) but she did not like at all (insert face here).  Stewie and I walked down to the bottom of the Kerið volcanic crater lake to touch the very cold blue-green water and to see there was a park bench in the water for people to sit on.  I guess volcanos, lava and waterfalls are common for the locals.  :)

From Iceland we flew to The Netherlands and spent 5 days in and around Amsterdam taking in the sites and sounds of this beautiful country packed with tourists.  We toured the Jordaan district, the Jewish district (my wife and eldest son visited Anne Frank’s house) while me and the other 2 explored our neighbourhood.  We took a day trip to beautiful Zaanse Schans to see and tour the windmills and we visited the medieval town of Bruges.

From our apartment backing onto the Vondelpark, we were close enough to pretty much everything we wanted to see, and in those 5 days, we mastered pretty much every possible method of transportation there except cycling – and we managed to not get run over or step in front of a bike on the dedicated bike paths. We took an all you can eat (Dutch) pancake boat ride plus a canal cruise, and we lucked into being there for the Pride parade on the water, which was packed and a lot of fun.

From the Netherlands, we took the train to Brussels for 5 fun days spent eating Belgium waffles, frites, chocolates and drinking the wonderful fruity beers (less than 3% alcohol).

Our apartment was close to the incredible Grand Place and we walked by the Manneqin Pis a couple of times to see what he little guy was wearing.   We visited the comic book museum, saw the Smurfs, Tin Tin and Asterix and Oblix and had a nice meal out with the kids where I had, mussels, of course (I kept thinking about the Muscles from Brussels – Jean Clause Van Dam’s line from some movie where he said “How does it feel to be hunted!!”

I was disappointed with Brussels, but once I got past the site and smells of urine, vomit and litter, an insane non-functional transit system and a ton of graffiti on buildings and statues from the 1600’s, I realized how much Brussels had to offer if it could get it’s act in gear.

We took days trips to Bruges, the medieval town of Ghent and we found these areas to be beautiful and awesome for the kids.

From Brussels we took the high-speed train to Paris where we stayed in the Marais quarter for just under a week.  Having spent 5-weeks in France for our honeymoon, we had high hopes for our time in Paris, hoping to show the kids the must-see sites.  We saw, but did not go up the Eiffel Tower, we did walk up the Arc De Triomphe, walked the Champs-Elysées in the rain, visited the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and stood in the middle of Paris.  We ate crepes, the kids played with boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg a we took a boat tour on the Seine.

We searched high and low for Berthillon ice cream (luxury ice cream and sorbet) only to find it closed in the month of August?!?  Actually a lot of things were closed in August, and on August 15th the Assumption long weekend, there was very little open outside of the major tourist areas.

The weather in Paris was average and fluctuated between cold and rainy and hot and sunny which meant my backpack carried sweaters and umbrellas every day, plus snacks and water to keep the kids moving.  We made the most of the weather, jumping into the Pompidou Centre and the Orsay Gallery when it rained, and walking around the streets when it was nice outside.

My wife managed to get a babysitter for one night in Paris so her and I went out for a lovely dinner and a stroll towards the Eiffel Tower until it started to rain and we realized that after 11pm we were getting tired, so we headed back on the Metro to our rented apartment.  Getting away from the children was a much-needed break – if even for 4 hours – and the adult conversation was much appreciated.

On our last day we took the Metro to the airport, flew back to Reykjavik, then after a 2 hour layover, headed back home to TO.

The trip was awesome, the kids were fantastic, and neither my wife nor myself thought there was a chance that our 4-year-old daughter was going to be able to walk as much as we walked over 19 days, up and down stairs, in and out of museums, and without needing to be carried, but she surprised us all.  She was awesome!  She even learned words in Icelandic, Dutch and French.

We all came out of this vacation closer as a family, with a greater appreciation of what we have and thinner from all the exercise.

With school around the corner, I hope my kids will be able to recall some of what they saw and share with their teachers and their classmates.  I can say that one week after our trip, my oldest son is watching the volcanic activity in Iceland, while my middle child has been working on a Powerpoint presentation with his pictures in it.

The break from work and school was great but it’s back to the grind come September.

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