Posted in Canada, Coffee, Daddy, family, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

Dads / Moms… Is it just me?

This is a question for the Dads and Moms out there in cyberspace.  Is it just me, or is it necessary to identify yourself as a parent when you approach another father / mother with small kids and offer assistance?

This morning, for example, I’m waiting for a client in my local Starbucks and it’s fairly busy in the store when in walks a mother carrying a baby in the bucket car seat in one hand and holding hands with a toddler in the other hand.

She orders her coffee, buys her daughter a treat and then finds the only open table which has one chair placed beneath it.  She places the bucket on the table, and sits her daughter in the chair.

Seeing this, I know that there is a bit of space at the large rectangle table in the back and I could totally go there to work, so I get up, and offer her my chair.

She politely denies.

Then I start thinking… I’m in my 40’s, and what’s left of my hair is pretty grey, I’m in a grey suit, and I don’t wear my wedding band because it doesn’t fit my finger (hello 1st child 25lb weight gain – 13 years ago) so maybe she politely declines because I’m a creepy guy offering her a seat.

Then I remember that creeps don’t wear suits.

Work with me here…

So I tell her it’s okay, she can have the seat because I’m going to sit in the back.

Then the panic in her eyes leaves, and she says that she appreciates the offer but she’s waiting for her coffee then she’s jetting out of here to a play date.

That told me 2 things;  Firstly, she recognized that I’m a parent too and I totally understand how brave she is with a child in a bucket and a toddler – just leaving the house should be commended.

Secondly, she might not have panicked if I had started with something like this; “Hey, would you like to use my seat? I’ve been there – have 3 of my own – you might be more comfortable, even for a minute, knowing your kids are safe and you can wait comfortably with them.

Or is that worse?

Am I reading too much into this?

Or being approached by a stranger, the default is to reject, not to engage and protect the kiddos.

Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.


Posted in Life, Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things I Need My Children to Remember as they Grow up.

English: Pink colour
English: Pink colour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often, I see lists, like the one I am posting today, about things we want our children to know, learn, remember and respect, and these lists are often quite to the point if not a little on the comedic side.  My Thursday Thirteen, however, is a little different from the norm as I have provided thirteen things that I need my children – Linus, Stewie and Boo – to remember as they grow up.  On the bright side, if they ever forget (and I have not completely embarrassed them by the time I cease blogging), they can always find it here.

As parents it is our job to teach and shape our children so that one day when they begin to develop their own opinions they will be able to use what they learned from us to shape their thoughts on things they didn’t know – so they won’t hurt anyone (especially themselves) along the way.   To do otherwise by your children, would – in my opinion – be considered failure as a parent.

Here are the thirteen things I need my kids to remember as they grow up;

13. To my boys: Pink is a colour, much as red, blue, black and green. Liking pink doesn’t mean anything except that you like the colour. If someone tells you otherwise you have to remember that it’s their problem, not yours. At some point in their life, someone tied to colour pink to a negative stereotype which simply does not exist. It’s okay to buy pink items, pink clothes and paint a room pink.

12. All (My 2 boys and my girl): Your nose is NOT an appropriate place to stick your finger – and this rule always stands, whether you are 3, 7, 8 or 38. If you do visit there, in the solitude of your own room, or home, it is NOT okay to them put that finger in your mouth, on your bed, or on your clothes. If, however, you choose to pick your nose, then you must have either a kleenex or square of toilet paper for when you are finished and wash your hands after. Remember that if your hands are dirty and you place a finger in your nose (or mouth) you are putting germs in your body. You will get sick. In addition, people think it’s yucky. Don’t be that yucky kid that turns into the yucky teen, then the creepy booger-eating adult. Please.

11. All: Respect others’ personal space and belongings. There are written rules which need to obeyed when you are in a home and there are some unwritten rules which you must follow so that you will . You need to respect others and their possessions. I know children will be children, but taking, breaking, hiding or damaging something that does not belong to you is not at all what I have in mind when it comes to creating art or playful fun. Neither is it fun to touch, push, trip or get in the face of someone for any reason. In fact, this is a lesson in doing it all WRONG! If you did this to my belongings or got in my face, I would not be happy.

10. Accept others for who they really are.  In an age where bullying has taken centre stage among our youth, I hope I have taught you to see the value in differences. Race, religion, colour, accents, or dress, interests, hair style or colour, ability or disability… It doesn’t matter.  See past it all and realize that we are all humans on this planet.

9. It is okay to cry. Crying is a natural emotional response to feelings. We all do it. Men cry. Women cry. Children cry. If you begin to cry and someone calls you a baby just remember that they learned this at home and they are being taught to hold in their emotions. Feel sorry for them but don’t allow them to change how you act or how you feel.

8. Always be proud of who YOU are. You may not be the tallest kid, or the fastest, or have the best hair, but really now, who cares? As long as you stay true to who you are, everything else will fall into place.

7. Find your passion. Keep looking and searching. Never ever stop.

6. Love this planet we live on called “Earth”. Recycle, reduce, reuse.  Go as “green” as you can by being aware of how you live, shop, and of what you consume (and where that comes from).  Now go join your mother and I hug a tree.

5. Be a brother / sister. Be a friend. Be a protector. Always be good to your family, even when there is conflict. Always remember that you are all that you have. Spouses and friends are great but at the end of the day you should know and have the support of your brother/sister when you need it.  Just don’t take advantage.

4. Smart is cool. Never be ashamed of being smart or nerdy, having freckles or glasses, or loving science and math (or tax). Smart never goes out of style, it stays with you as you grow, and it will lead you down the most successful paths you can imagine.

3. All: Your body is just that, it’s your body. You can keep your hair any way or colour that you want and you can dress any way that you want, but you must remember that others will judge you and it will impact how others treat you. So long as you understand that, you may continue. Don’t let pop culture define you. I don’t know why, but today we let pop culture manipulate our youth and it’s killing them emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. From the early on fascination with princesses, to the ‘need’ for a boyfriend and big boobs, popularity, teen moms, and all the other garbage being thrown in their face – be confident going against the grain or you’ll risk selling yourself out.

2. Maintain your health. It’s life’s greatest asset.  Without good health you have nothing.  A positive approach to health encompasses physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Healthy lifestyle choices we taught you in your youth have already helped to lay a strong foundation for continued wellness throughout your adult life.  In addition, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, stress management, self-motivation, and remaining positive will have a huge impact on your quality of life, health, and happiness.  Honourable mention: Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. Laughter is humbling. It inspires and motivates.  It keeps you real.

1. Wherever you are in life, you can come home. I will be here – always. ♥ Daddy. Remember children that you will all be my favourite children forever (and equally for your own strengths and inspirations). If you don’t believe me, ask Mummy. She will tell you the same thing.

Posted in family, Life

Just under 46 Reasons why my kids have freaked out, at 3-years-old.

My wife posted a link to an article on Facebook the other day called “46 Reasons Why My 3-Year-Old Might Be Freaking Out“, and this was just after our 3-year-old daughter Boo had an epic 20-minute meltdown.  Once she was done we confirmed the cause of the meltdown was a result of the fact that she wanted the zipper on her fleece sweater zipped up… Who knew?!?

Sidebar:  Forget the terrible two’s, new parents.  It’s the Terrible three’s which will kill you!!!  Am I right?

I loved the article so much I wanted to re-post it, but I also wanted to yank out a few of the 46 reasons which applied to any of our 3 children.

So please, visit the original article, but only after you read this on either Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr or here on The Urban Daddy’s blog,   Then your next mission is to see which meltdown’s we have I/ had in common.  Then let me know in the comment section so we can all laugh together.

I’ve broken it down by boys (ages 8 & 6 right now) and girl (just turned 3).

Coles Notes Version
Coles Notes Version

Meltdown’s in Common:

His sock is on wrong.

His lip tastes salty.

His shirt has a tag on it.

They are hungry, but can’t remember the word “hungry.”

His brother looked at him.

His brother didn’t look at him.

We don’t understand what he/she said.

He/she doesn’t want to get out of the car.

He/she wants to get out of the car by himself.

The iPad has a password.

He jumped off the sofa and we weren’t  watching.

He’s not allowed to touch fire.

Everything is wrong with his coat.

There’s a dog (or raccoon or monster or dragon) within a 70km radius.

I asked him/her a question.

His brother/sister/mother/father is talking.

The cat is in his/her way.

The inside of his cheek feels rough.

Things take too long to cook.

He has too much food in his mouth.

He sneezed.

He doesn’t know how to type.

His/her mom is taking a shower.

Someone knocked over his tower.

The food won’t stay on his spoon.

… and so much more…

How does this relate to your kids?

Posted in Community, Life

TD Canada Trust Panel Discussion: Parental Leave and Finances… Which came first?

Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

On Wednesday October 17th, I will be joining a select roundtable of fellow bloggers along with financial experts John Tracy and Krystina Fraser from TD Canada Trust to discuss the financial realities of having children. 

As a parent, you already know first hand that having children can be quite expensive, so the purpose of this discussion is to help TD Canada Trust help us, their customers, get a better understanding of the challenges parents face when preparing their personal finances for the arrival of their child(ren) and for parental leaves.

I was fortunate enough to take a paid parental leave to be home with my wife for the birth of our first two children.  I took 9 months off with Linus and then 4 months off when Stewie was born.  Since we planned on both being home we had to ensure our finances remained in order well in advance of their births in order to  maintain our household expenses and current living style in addition to making sure I could continue to take courses when I was off (I completed my MBA). 

Just like the discussion (when) to have children usually happens well in advance of the first child being born, so too should begin the discussion about how to best get your personal finances in order for when the child(ren) arrive and for any parental leave(s).  All it takes to begin the discussion is a budget covering your current financial situation, followed by several mock budgets covering off life and expenses while pregnant, then in preparation for birth when the furniture needs to be purchased or borrowed, the car seat (possibly a new car as we had to do), a stroller, and clothes, etc., and then another budget for after baby comes which covers off the costs of items like diapers, baby toys, bigger clothes, nanny vs day care, programs, then schools…  The budgets must be revisited whenever your financial situation changes in order to make sure everything remains on track.

It absolutely never ends which is why getting your finances in order ahead of time makes the most sense and if you plan really well you might even have some left over pocket change to begin a RESP. 

Prior to the event, I would like to collect questions from you guys which I can table during the discussion and I will share the details after in a post.  Hopefully you will want to also share some insight on how you prepared financially for the arrival of your child(ren), or if you didn’t, how you have handled your finances since the arrival of your child(ren). 

You can also follow along the discussion on Twitter through #TDParentalLeave.

In addition, the great folks at TD Canada Trust have given me a $100.00 Indigo gift card which I will raffle off among those of you who “like” or comment on the post on my blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Google + or Twitter.  This contest closes Wednesday at noon, Toronto-time so get moving on it right away.

Posted in family, Food

Anyone “Shocked” to find out that Nutella is not Healthy? Didn’t think so…

Deutsch: Ein Glas Nutella-Nussnougatcreme

Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, which happens to be the only chocolate spread that has its own world celebration day – World Nutella Day is celebrated February 5th – has lost a $3.5 million class action lawsuit filed by a California mother who was “shocked” to discover that a chocolate spread was not healthy.

Did you know that all the Nutella sold in the US comes from a plant in Brantford, Ontario with Californians being the per capita biggest consumers of Nutella in the US.

In her lawsuit filed last year a San Diego mother said she was “shocked” to learn that the hazelnut chocolate spread she was feeding her husband and 4-year-old daughter was full of sugar and fat.  She said she felt “betrayed” when she learned the healthiest part of a Nutella breakfast was the bread and milk that children ate with it – probably white bread and whole milk too, eh?

She won, and in the US, Ferrero will give every consumer who also feel betrayed $4.00 for their jar of Nutella provided they also declare that the cannot read the nutritional label on the back of the jar.  LOL.  Then they take there $4.00 and buy another jar I would think…

What did it in for Nutella?  The claim that Nutella could be part of a “healthy breakfast.”  Apparently there are some ads in the US which claim Nutella is healthy, or something like that.  Full of energy (which would lead me to assume full of calories), I’m not 100% sure.

Sure, anyone capable of reading a label – as my kids do in the grocery stores at the ages of 7 and 5 (and they understand what they are reading) would see that Nutella has a lot of sugar and a lot of fat in it.

As part of the settlement, the front label of Nutella jars will now include info on the fat, sugar and calories of the product.

Oddly enough, Nutella Canada, which is a sponsor of the Canadian Soccer Association, advocates eating a balanced breakfast on its website but without directly saying the spread should be part of it.

From their FAQ section:

Q: What is NUTELLA®?

A: NUTELLA® (pronounced “new-tell-uh”) is a deliciously unique spread made from hazelnuts, cocoa, and skim milk. NUTELLA® is a great choice for kids as part of a nutritious breakfast. It contains no preservatives, no artificial colours and is a source of Vitamin E.

All true and very clear…

Those litigious Americans.  I’m not sure if this was a good thing or a frivolous lawsuit.  Yes it’s good to bring attention for those who may not be able to read labels or have common sense, but then again, Nutella is yummy and most people I spoke to who eat are were perfectly aware that one tablespoon full was plenty and that 2 tablespoons contained the same amount of sugar, etc, as a chocolate bar.

A two-tablespoon serving of Nutella contains 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated and 21 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, a typical chocolate and nut candy bar has 250 to 300 calories and 12 to 16 grams of fat.

Might I recommend the Marshmallow spread instead to that mom instead?

(Please don’t sue me).

So how does Nutella compare to Peanut Butter – you might be surprised…

Nutella per Tablespoon (19g):

100 Calories

6g Fat (2g saturated Fat)

1mg Cholesterol

5mg sodium

11g Carbs (1g fibre/10g sugar)

1g protein

0% Vitamin A

0% Vitamin C

2% Calcium

2% Iron

10% Vitamin E

Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter per Tablespoon (15g)

90 Calories

8g Fat (2g Saturated Fat)

0mg Cholesterol

70mg sodium

4g Carbs (1g fibre/3g sugar)

3g protein

0% Vitamin A

0% Vitamin C

0% Calcium

2% Iron

0% Vitamin E

Eating Nutella over Kraft peanut butter (not my peanut butter of choice – I prefer a more natural kinds, like President Choice blue menu Just Peanuts) however with Nutella you eat 10 more calories, save 2g of fat, eat 65mg less sodium, eat 7g more carbs – admittedly more sugar –  consume 2% more calcium and take in 10% more vitamin E.

Comments on this item made me laugh because Nutella in the US does have nutritional information on it, however the commercials were misleading stating it was healthy, or part of a healthy breakfast.  Whatever it said, it’s chocolate and nuts and that should have set off bells for any parent.

For this post I turned to my trusty editor, 7-year-old Linus, and he read the post then asked me; “If Nutella is made with hazelnuts and chocolate, there is no way it is healthy, Daddy, but can we please buy some!”  🙂

Some comments I read while researching included;

“What?  Chocolate for breakfast is unhealthy?”

“I’m suing McDonald’s because I had a Happy Meal and it didn’t make me happy”.

“I’m suing Axe because I used their deodorant spray and was not immediately surrounded by hot women”.

What are your thoughts, parents?  Stupid lawsuit or poor advertising choices for this product?

Mmmmmm… Nutella crepes… For me, not the kids!

Deutsch: Ein Crêpe mit Nutella.
Deutsch: Ein Crêpe mit Nutella. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)