Posted in money, Parenting

Holidays, Money and a few last minute ideas…


I hate to break it to you but the holidays are here, and for many of us this means spending far too much money on gifts our kids and families really don’t need. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-gifting, I just don’t like having to buy gifts as a result of socially constructed consumer norms (to be addressed in a future post). That said, I’m a mom of 5-year-old twins and explaining what a social construct is will result in the consumption of far, far too many bottles of wine so I’m opting for conforming – at least to a certain extent.

Everyone knows the holidays are about family, friends, spending time together and sharing the love and,  if you’ve done your job well, your kids know this well. Ya know what else kids know? Holidays = presents! So, since I’m buying into the holiday crap, I’m at least going to do it in a way that doesn’t put my family into peril. Peril? yes, peril.

The holidays are expensive. If you’re not careful, the parental guilt that inevitably comes with the knowledge you can’t get your kids everything they want could put your family into a negative financial situation that’s difficult to recoup from.

“No, you can’t have the Nintendo, doll house, race car and Barbie… many kids don’t even receive gifts during the holidays…we’ve very fortunate to have everything that we do… when I was your age I got a matchstick for Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanza…” Sound familiar? As parents, we want to give our kids the world and everything in it. We also don’t want to raise assholes. And this principle is what often alleviates that guilt I was talking about earlier. Now, we’re not just trying to save money, we’re teaching our kids a valuable lesson, right?

I dunno about you, but I still feel like total shit when I can’t get my kids what they want or, more to the point, what I want to get them. That said, DON’T GO INTO DEBT FOR THE HOLIDAYS. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Yes, like a crack addict, you’ll get that initial high of being the ‘best parent ever’, but come January you’re going to crash and it’s gonna be ugly. (Please trust me on this, I watch people do it every day, let alone every year, it’s the line of work I’m in.) So, how do you avoid this scenario? Here are my 5 top tips I use to financially survive the holidays:

Tip 1 – Everyone loves photo gifts. Sign up for all of the online photo-gift sites and throughout the year they send great freebies, ranging from mugs to calendars to bags and prints.  You pay the shipping (which isn’t cheap but it’s far cheaper than paying for a gift and shipping) and that’s it!

Tip 2 – Shops the sales before the ‘sales’.  If you’re like my husband and don’t plan all that far in advance for gift giving then wait until September to take advantage of the back to school sales for toys, home stuff, clothing, make up etc. they often end up being cheaper than all of the sales that are currently out right now.

Tip 3 – THE DOLLAR STORE IS YOUR FRIEND. There is absolutely no good reason to spend five times the amount of money on a brand name toy or game when you can get the exact same one at the dollar store? They’re all made in China so why spend $20 instead of $4 for a logo? For the record, half of my son’s gifts are from Dollarama (no, they didn’t pay me to endorse them, I’m just a big fan)

Tip 4 – New does not mean better. I just bought half of my daughter’s gifts from kijiji, craigs list and Facebook market (again, no endorsement). If the toys are in good condition then who gives a crap about the plastic package? This way, you’re saving yourself some $ and giving Mother Nature a hand!

Tip 5 – It doesn’t have to be fancy. My kids are getting books, markers and fun earmuffs as gifts. They’ll love it because it’s all about the delivery. I’m in my 30’s and I still love getting this stuff as gifts, but maybe that’s just me.

I hope these tips help ease your guilt and keep enough money in the bank to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Now for some examples of the aforementioned tips. (Disclaimer, I received all of these products as free samples, but you can bet your ass you’ll know if I didn’t like something about them.)

Books:

But I don’t Eat Ants is a super cute story for picky eaters and their parents. Not to spoil it, the lesson for parents goes back to tip #5: it’s all about the delivery! The final line of the book confused my kids a bit but  it was a fun story for all and every time I make tortellini they laugh hysterically yelling “TORTELLINITOTALLINI!”

Finding Gobi is one of the best feel good books for young kids that I’ve come across in a long while. The first time I heard the story Gobiwas on CBC and the publisher blindly reached out a couple of weeks later. I wanted to see if the story I heard on the news was accurately depicted in the book and how they were going to adapt it for young kids.  Much to my surprise it was really well written, succinct and colourful, which is key for young kids. They also sent over the novel version which I didn’t have a chance to read but my friend’s son, who’s 8, said it was a great book – why would he lie, right?

Home:

I was never a coffee drinker and figured it was dumb to get one of the single cup machines for tea since they always tasted so diluted, so I never bought any of the ones on the market. I have seen the light thanks to the Keurig that was sent to us. It has a new ‘strong’ brew option which actually allows tea to taste likcoffeee tea!  I also like that it doesn’t take up all that much counter space. The machine is also pretty tough, which I realized as I used pliers to pry the wrong K-Cup that I jammed in, out of the machine (don’t judge, I was running on 2hrs sleep!)

Random fun things:

Cozyphones are a super cute alternative to headphones, with the bonus of keeping your munchkins’ ears toasty. I’m hoping they come outcozyphones with a version that can be worn in summer since these are fleece. Regardless, the kids look freaking adorable in them and love wearing them around the apartment.

Sigma Beauty reached out and sent over a bunch of items from their new Creme De Couture line. I was pretty hesitant to include makeup in a gift guide since I reallymakeup don’t wear much unless I’m out for an event and because isn’t all makeup basically the same? Evidently not! According to my makeup-wearing friends quality varies drastically. So I figured I’d try a bit myself and share some with my mom (avid makeup wearer). I have to say I was shocked at how much I liked it! The colours are super vibrant and the Liquid Lipstick stays on the whole night (hubby can attest to that!). My next thought was that it must be super expensive since it’s pretty good quality but again I was pleasantly surprised! All in all, I really liked the products and I wear a bit more makeup these days. I hope these help in your last-minute shopping frenzy and I wish you good luck!!!

The Urban Daddy and Urban Twin Mommy would like to wish you all a very happy holiday season, filled with love and light. May the year ahead be filled with happiness, health and success (in whatever form that means to you!).

XOXO

 

 

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Posted in Life

How Time Flies: Happy 3rd Birthday Boo.


Wow. Time really does fly.

It seems like only yesterday when I was trying to figure out how to gear up for a tax-reporting season with our daughter on the way and unlike our previous two children, I was in no position to take any time off to spend with my family.

Then she arrived.

Now, today, she turned three years old!

Happy birthday Boo!

… and yes, girls are easier… at this age.  🙂

So, Boo had her birthday party last Thursday because our nanny, Gamay, headed off today for a 7-week vacation back home in the Philippines and we wanted to make sure she was here for Boo’s birthday. Gamay has been with us since Stewie was almost 3-years-old, or around 3 1/2 years and her and Boo are quite the team.  Boo tickles her and Gamay has taught Boo how to speak, count and sing in Tagalog.  The two of them run upstairs in the mornings only to return 20 minutes later and Boo’s hair is braided and clipped up in a wonderfully different way each time, the teachers and Boo’s school can’t wait to see what style Boo will be sporting each day.  LOL.

When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Boo replied, “Hello Kitty cupcakes, cake and green beans”.  So easy to buy for.  I baked somewhere near 120 medium cupcakes for her party which my wife decorated the day before the event,  Teamwork!

The funny thing about having a birthday party for a three-year-old before her birthday, then taking her out for her birthday dinner on her actual birthday is that she thought she had 2 birthdays this year, the party being her birthday and tonight’s dinner out being her “other” birthday.

The only hiccup today was Linus trying to explain to her that she was still 2, until after 11pm because she was born that late at night. She kept checking with us, “Am I still 2?” and the more we tried to explain, the more upset she got. So we gave up and said, “yes, today is your birthday and you are three”.

Having a three-year-old means we finally get to push through some parenting improvements her way, like getting her away from asking us to feed her when she’s lazy, or asking us to take off her shoes every now and then.  She’s 3 now.  She has been sleeping commando for a couple of month now, but we agreed when she turned 3, she could get out of her bed in the middle of the night if she needed to pee instead of calling for me and waking up the house.

That might result in sleep…

Naw.

So aside from that, it’s amazing to see what an awesome little girl she has turned in to.  Still a much smaller version of my wife, Boo loves to sing, loves the colour pink, her Hello Kitty’s, elephants, unicorns and her brothers.  She looks more and more like she’s going to be left-handed like me and I think she’s going to be my only hockey player.

She’s sweet, she’s fun, she’s awesome and she’s 3.

Posted in Life

Randomness – Yet Quite a Lot about Behinds, Bums, and… Ass


Image of "baby-cut" carrots
Image of “baby-cut” carrots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve got stuff on my mind – too much to post at once – but some things I need to let go of, so I dropped them here into a post entitled “randomness” and I waited until there were enough to post.  For those of you following my blog for any period of time you have already realized that I am unable to tell a story by getting right to the point.  There is always a story associated with it, some background, some clarification… It’s a terrible habit.

But here are some random thoughts which have been kicking around for a while – please feel free to chime in!

How do they get those cute little baby-cut carrots? I say they’re grown that way but Urban Mummy said the go through a little mini carrot lathe like machine which whittles them down to size.

Do you know?

If you do, do you still feed them to your kids?

I found out today, May 1st that they are specially modified carrots with more sweetness and artificial colour which are peeled and cut in 2 – the baby-cut carrots that is, the baby carrot are just that – baby carrots.  To keep the carrots from drying out because they are now peeled they are soaked in a water-chlorine mixture which is rinsed off before they are bagged.

Hmmmmm.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I’m going to have to run this by my wife who is just about completed her holistic nutrition certification…  Update at 11.

Why are there no Meat Loaf vending machines?

Chicken, veal, beef, pork, spicy, no salt, with gravy, or ketchup… The options are endless…

Should the band Green Day not write a song for St. Patrick‘s Day.  Would this be “their” day?!?

Saw an old draft I had from Chinese New Year – There was a place near my office offering up a “Traditional Chinese New Year lunch” which was advertised as a pulled pork on a bun and a chicken wrap. Huh?!?

I saw something the other day I had never seen before and hope to never see again.  There was a boy – less than 10 years old who was standing on his hands with his feet up against the wall right under the hand dryer at the kids swimming pool.  He was drying his ass…  Oh yes.  It’s not like the change room was empty either… It was packed full of other kids and parents who didn’t seem to notice – or couldn’t care to comment on the fact this was happening.

Both my boys walked by this – strange – child without blinking an eye.  We got into the hall, I was shaking my head the whole way when Stewie broke the silence with this gem;

“Did you see that boy blow drying his ass???  That was crazy!”

“Yes, yes it was, Stewie” I replied as the 3 of us walked out of the school shaking our heads.

“Ass”.  I didn’t even know he knew that word…

Just today on my way into the office there was a woman who had just gotten off the bus and was crossing Eglinton Avenue at the light.  I noticed her because she was wearing these huge boots that came over her knees and she had a tight black miniskirt which went about mid-thigh, and she had very long braided hair.  She was listening to music and was clearly oblivious to her surroundings because as soon as she got halfway into the intersection she must have realized that her panties were falling down because she took both hands, grabbed just below her hips and pulled those suckers right back too.

Too bad for her that in doing so she lifted her skirt up to her waist and the entire street got to see her bum cheeks hanging out of her black underwear as she fixed her stuff and adjusted her skirt back to mid-thigh level.

Without missing a beat.

Oblivious.

What a way to start a morning!

Posted in Daddy

That didn’t hurt now did it??? I finally got off my ass and ran!


New Year, new beginnings. (Jewish new year, that is, since it’s September).

This morning, instead of getting up at my normal 6:30am, I got up 1/2 hour earlier, spent 20 minutes trying to stretch out my aching periformus (look it up) and then went for a run.

Yup. A run.

Granted, it was nothing impressive, it was only 10 minutes of actual jogging but it was 10 minutes more than I had been doing before and I wanted to see how my back and left leg felt afterwords.  Maybe all this pain I have been experiencing is being caused by a lack of exercise.

Today I did something that I have been talking about doing for oh, about 5 years now.  No longer can I complain about not losing any of my baby weight.  I actually felt great the rest of today – and even more perky than normal – and I am usually quite perky I must say.

I’m afraid of scaring some co-workers with this new found feeling of pride for starting to take care of myself.

Now if I could only add some free-weights, push-ups and sit-ups to my daily routine…

I know.  One step at a time!

Posted in family

Happy 5th Anniversary


Whew.

This July 1st represents 5 years of being married to the most awesome woman I have ever met in my life, and I’m not just saying that because she will probably read this. I am very much blessed. We have a wonderful child together and another one on the way. I owe her credit for everything good that has happened in my life. She’s truly one of a kind, and if you ever get a chance to meet her, you’ll understand what I mean.

With that, I want to wish a very happy 5th anniversary to my wife, and state for the record, that this year will be focussed on getting you what you want and need as a mother, a wife, a friend, and in life.

I love you,

Urban Daddy

Now for the gift portion of this post…

5 years of marriage are represented by wood and silverware. The gemstone is turquoise and the flower… Daisies. I’ve got them all covered. Also covered and a few other essentials, to make things work this July 1st.  Chocolate (works every time) and the memories of our wedding day, so long ago it seems, at the incredible Art Gallery of Ontario.