Why I Hate March Break!


I have to be honest with you, and with myself when I say that I hate March Break.  I always have, and to be honest, I likely always will.

Growing up, I attended public school and we had March Break, but my family was not big into travelling so we never went anywhere, never had programs to attend to and never did anything interesting which at the time suited me and my anxiety just fine!

Yes, I spent the week playing street hockey from morning until dark and that was awesome, but that was all that I needed.  The break from school was much needed.

Fast forward to having children, all of which attended private secular schools which did not celebrate March Break (we had our break over the holiday of Passover instead), so while we were working and the kids were in school, people were heading south to the warmth and sunshine while we shovelled snow and continued living life as normal.

Now, with one child left in a secular school and the others in public school, I have some of us in school and some of them on break and my wife and I hard at work.

So now, March break consists of driving the kids to, and from programs, work, work and more work, and whenever I check social media, I see friends and family living it up down south in the sun, sand and surf.

It’s very much like previous years’ where March Break is not a time to go down somewhere warm and sandy but couldn’t because the kids had school and we had work.

I’ve asked all the travellers to please bring back the sun and warmth…

They’ll all likely forget because they’re having such a great time, or at least their social media posts depict a great time.

On the positive side, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time this March Break with my middle child at his hockey camp.  He attended Creative Hockey Development’s (creativehockey.ca) March Break camp – which was put on by my friend, Dusan Kralik, and his new business partner Daniel Erlich.

The camp was incredible!

The hockey skills and pace of the camp were fast and the players even faster.  I think Dusan found a match in Danny as someone who possesses an incredible hockey IQ to go along with his world class skills and speed.

The camp was well run, the kids came off the ice tired and they learned more than just hockey this past week.

Now, as for March Break itself…

Going forward, I’m have to make sure that I refrain from checking social media that week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Son Was Traded This Morning!


I know hockey and I love hockey.  I’ve never played ice hockey but I have coached ice hockey – 6 years while in my early 20’s because my sports physiotherapist needed someone to open and close the bench doors.  I had always thought it was because he didn’t like the 6am and 7am games!

I learned to skate while teaching the kids how to play the game, and how to be winners on and off the ice.

In those 6 years we won one championship and made it to the finals 5 times because we never had the best players in the league, nor the top select players, but we made these kids buy into the team concept which meant all the players, no matter how good, bad or new to the game, were a key part.

Hockey is, after all, a team sport!

My wife found it unusual that with my love and passion I hold for hockey, I never pushed my kids into the sport.  I tried, trust me, but they didn’t like it.  They hated staking, they didn’t like watching the Leafs and they had no desire to shoot around a ball in the basement.

Then something changed…

The school my kids attended arranged for skating lessons during the day, and my middle child, Stewie’s class was full of top ranked hockey players, kids who could skate, shoot, pass and play the sport better than other kids their age and Stewie always felt awkward skating around his classmates.  He’s a tall kid for his age and watching him stand on skates reminded me of a newborn giraffe trying to stand for the first time.

I was there, on the ice with him at his school’s skate day when his classmates skated over to him and instead of making fun of him, helped him stand, brought him the on-ice support and were giving him tips to be a better skater.  I could see in his eyes that he was very appreciative of their support and he was determined to skate without support.

From that day came lessons after lessons, plus a learn-to-play hockey program and finally this season a debut in house league hockey.  He’s a much better skater than 2 years ago, and his hockey sense is quite high for someone who refuses to watch the sport.  He continues to get better and better each game, practice and lesson and he knows he has a long way to go.

He also knew that on his 0-7 team there was a very good chance that he was going to be traded.  Not only were a lot of the kids on the team together from previous years, but he understood that to get new players, better players, you would have to give up your “lower-skilled” players (his words) and not the “worst” players.

Then came the news!

He was traded.

From a 0-7 team to a 7-0 team.

He’s not all that pleased about it either.  You see, he is worried that his new teammates will not know that he’s just learning the sport, but they will see a very tall kid who tries very hard but is not the fastest, not yet able to deke players out, or who can raise the puck.

He’s worried that they will think he sucks and that the best players left the team because of him.

UGH.

So I have reached out to the convenors, trying to get the new coaches contact information so I can let them know that they are getting a kid who wants to learn the game and who will do whatever he can to be better and make the team better.  It’s been 2 days and no one has reached out, oh, except his old coaches who have asked for his jersey and socks back.

So what would I do in this situation?!?

I would do what is right for the children!  I would have a really long look at the coaches who have volunteered to coach these teams to make sure they are looking after the kids best interests and not their own.  I see teams playing poorly in hopes that their team won’t be broken up by trades and wonder aloud who does this help?!?  Does that coach get an award for stocking his team while other teams struggle, or worse, what message does that send to the kids when they see a coach trying to lose in order to protect the core of the team…

I would rather the league NOT make the trades, but instead work with the coaches to teach the children to play as a team.

Sure, little Johnny can only score 3 goals, then any goals he scores after that do not count, but does it benefit the kids on either side if Johnny still dekes the entire team, then stands by the side of the net waiting for a teammate to skate to the net so that Johnny can pass to him or shoot the puck in off of him?

Does it benefit the kids that the league will not post the score when it exceeds a 5-goal differential?  Nope, the kids know the real score so they might as well post it, but would it hurt the other coach to take his better offensive players and teach them defense, or passing instead.  By doing that, his team learns proper positioning and the defensive team can also learn proper positioning.  That would be a win-win situation!

Instead, we let the coaches run wild, we make the better kids feel special and we make the lower kids feel useless all in the name of hockey instead of using this special position of leadership to teach the kids to be good teammates, and to help their team win without rubbing it into the faces of their opponents.

I’ve applied to be a part of the convenor team because of how strongly I feel about the opportunity to teach kids to be better kids and win, lose or draw.

I guess I know who will be coaching next season…

No trades please!  We’ll be fine.

Is it still bribery?


Is it still bribery if it works?

For months I have been complaining here and on Facebook about my kids lack of love for skating and karate.

Skating we do Saturday morning and Karate on Sunday morning.

Watching the older boy do karate is very painful. He knows the moves but gets distracted, is tired or generally would rather talk to the girl sensei’s. He has white belt with an orange stripe and a couple notches for about a year and I thought he would never progress towards his yellow belt.

In skating, he fared a little better as he became on of the fits kids his group to jump, but he still sends way too much time sitting on the ice complaining. Considering he had never skated before I am extremely pleased with his progress and willingness to try new things.

Stewie on the other hand is excelling in karate, just behind his brother in rank although himself just starting about 6 months ago. He listens, tries and looks like he really enjoys it. That makes me happy.

But in karate… Look out! He’s a disaster. He spends a lot of time on the ice wailing. Doesn’t want to fall, or get up once he falls, or skate or sit still.

I gave up and decided to bribe them, if that is the correct word.

I offer them a Tim Horton’s cookie after class (a couple times before class if they have already started melting down). The sugar / treat keeps them interested and they follow better and perform better.

Now they are both taking party in the skating contest at the end of the program and Linus is up for testing to get his yellow belt.

Some may cal it “bribery” but I call it incentive.

Am I wrong?

What do you do to get your kids to perform better?

My weekend thus far


This has been an interesting weekend for me so far, half-way through Sunday.

On Friday night we had Shabbat dinner here at the house with my mother and sister.  When they arrived there happened to be a stranger in the living room taking pictures of my kids – mainly the baby.  This place takes a bunch of pictures for free then tries to sell them to you.  I like the concept since it’s such a pain in the ass to book photo shoots for the kids and usually are very far away.  I hope they turn out.

After dinner my sister helped me prepare the T4 and T4 summary for our previous nanny.  Actually she did it while I slept on the couch.  We watched the 1st period of the Men’s Olympic semi-final game between the Slovaks and Canada.  I nodded off at 3-0 Canada.  They won 3-2.  Whew.

Saturday saw skating first thing in the am, well, skating for the oldest boy, the youngest spent most of the time laying on the ice having a meltdown.  I think he needs new skates with more ankle support. 

Both boys got their skating progress report cards.  Neither had been on the ice prior to the start of this program about 2 months ago so I not surprised to see Linus did well but Stewie… Not so well at all.  Oh well. 

After skating I dropped Stewie off at my mothers and Linus off at my in-laws and my wife and I took the baby and headed downtown to walk around.  It was a lot of fun!  She went into the bead stores and the baby and I walked around the streets looking at stores and a lot of weirdos.  LOL. 

I did, however, make a HUGE mistake and walked into the Second Cup… UGH.  I was hungry so I bought a morning glory muffin (ugh) and a really gross double Americano.  Had I walked another block west I would have found the Tim Horton’s.  At least the second cup had a change table in the woman’s bathroom where I could change the baby explosion (poo).  It was everywhere!

We strolled over to Chinatown for some dim sum (in the rain of course) and headed home to gather the other kids in time for bed.

Needless to say all of us passed out early, but I woke up to hang the laundry and could not get back to sleep.  Too much on my mind.  I finally dozed off at 3:30am.  I was up at 5:30am to help burp the baby and 7am with the boys, but managed to get them to hang out in the bed with my until 7:30am. 

We skipped karate and instead went to a Purim Party at the Temple where my son goes to nursery school.  Knew a ton of people there and had a blast.   The highlight for me was tossing a football through a hole 3 times while others tried dozens of times without success.  Each person who failed grumbled that the hole was too small.  Giggle.

So now the kids are bathing and soon we’re off to watch the Olympic Gold medal hockey game between Canada and the USA.  For some strange reason Linus is voting for Team USA.  Hope he’s doing that just to bug me.  Sure, team USA was put together by Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and coached my TML head coach Ron Wilson, but come on, Linus!  Go Canada Go! 

 Did you know that the most ever gold medal won by a country in one winter olympics is 13.  Guess how many Canada has right now?  Yup.  13.  So if we win the hockey game we set a record.  No pressure, eh?  I may not be able to watch the game.  I don’t want to be disappointed.

Weekend Update


OY.

What a weekend!  I’m going to need a few days to recover, indeed.

Friday ended for me in the afternoon with a contentious call with the government and the phone being hung up on me in a conference call over some tax related issues.  I left the office to pick up my oldest boy and the other kids in his carpool and just made it in time.  (Heck, it was -16 degrees out there and the kids were outside waiting).  I dropped everyone off, went to get diapers for the baby and ended up dropping my son at Starbucks to hang with his grandparents while I ran into the grocery store.  I came back to pick him up with diapers and bananas only to find him and his grandmother using those wooden stir sticks to teach him about roman numerals.

Once at home I logged back into my office computer to catch up on some work – set the table for dinner, bathed the kids, ate, cleaned and went back to work until about 3am when I decided it was time for bed. 

6:30am wake up.  Got the kids ready for skating (Pancakes for the big boy, oatmeal and raisins for the younger son), and just made it to the arena in time to lace up and jump on the ice.  By just made it I mean my skates were still undone…  One the ice, my little – not so little – boy decided he was not skating and spent most of the time on his ass or his back whining and crying.  I asked him in front of his skating coach if he was having a meltdown and he said, “no”.  OK.  So off the ice we went so he could calm down / pee.  Once in the dressing room we call his mummy and he explained that his feet hurt from the skates.  Too tight.  Hmmmm. 

So back on the ice we went for the last 10 minutes of class.  I signed the boys up for the end of program ice show (LOL) and in my amazement turned to see my 5 year old standing by himself on his skates and jumping up and down on the ice.  “WOW”, I blurted out.  He said he taught himself that, not the instructor.  He’s getting it.  Yay.

So after class we went home – Stewie cried the entire way.  We ate lunch then packed up our stuff and went to the mall for the afternoon.  After finally finding a place to park, I woke up Stewie and Berry (2 month old baby) and in we went.  Part way through the mall trip the boys saw the Godiva store and they were making chocolate dipped strawberries.  Guess what the boys cried and whined for the rest of the afternoon?!?

I also walked into Harry Rosen – again – with the boys and again could not get a sales agent to come up to me.  Even after falling in love with a gorgeous $85.00 dress shirt but wanting to ask a question about it, no one wanted to give me the time of day.  You would think any customer is a good customer, eh?  They don’t know what I can afford and if I am going to buy one shirts to 10 of them… Their loss.  I’m going to contact the store’s PR department!

So from the mall – and another Stewie meltdown (“I can’t walk”) we took the kids to dinner at the Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill.  The kids “ate” while I held a cranky baby so my wife could eat.  I was glad we were all out together and the prospect of eating cold food didn’t matter to me that much considering my wife is with the baby all day and all night and she deserves to eat and have a few minutes to relax.  So we hung there for a couple hours and off to home and bed – 10:30 for both my wife and I.

Sunday began with a rush as we all headed out to the kids karate class.  Stewie and his friend were the only kids in the Little Dragon’s class with 4 sensei’s. They had lots of attention and both did very well.  In Linus’ class, he performed much better than last week, but he was distracted from 2 seriously goofy kids in his class.  One was jumping up and down like a frog and the other was a complete goofball – taking flying leaps at the karate dummy’s and looking out at the parents instead of paying attention.  Must get him away from these boys…

After karate we split the boys up and went to birthday parties – I took Stewie to a party where I knew no one and he was not being adventurous.  He fell in love with a giant gumball machine (he’s never eaten gum) and required me to hold his hand for most of the 2 hours we were there.   We left a touch early and met my wife and baby at a new outdoor mall to check out a new store called Anthropologie… Beautiful clothes there and Linus really liked the fancy door knobs.  We left there to go grocery shopping and from there she took the kids and I drove to the other end of the city to pick up Linus and his friend from their birthday party – set to end at 6pm. 

Once in the Car, I turn on the radio, listen to a little satellite radio, then bored, switch over to real radio only to find out that there were 2 blockbuster NHL traded made by my Toronto Maple Leafs.  The managed to get another team to take 6 average commodities in exchange for 5 new bodies who appear to have more upside and come with a name.  I get Brian Burke now… He’s building the team with young talent… He has my confidence now.  After an awful 5-3 loss Saturday night (after having a 3-0 lead) the team has totally transformed.  WOW.

So I picked the kids up from the party, chatted with some dads about the trades and off to drop my son’s friend, then pick up our nanny to bring her back home.  I learned a very valuable lesson with my son and I in the car… Don’t hold your pee too long or your kidney’s hurt and you pee in your pants… Hopefully we both learned this lesson!  When you gotta go, you gotta go!

Home, snack, bed for the boys, while my wife cared after the baby, I cleaned up the house, showered, and hopped back on my office computer to clean up some files and do some tax research.  Saw the Royal Rumble was last night – Toronto-born wrestler Edge returned from a ruptured Achilles and won the rumble.  Yay.

I started working,  blinked and decided it would be best for my sanity if I went to bed earlier than Friday night, so Sunday night’s bedtime came at 2am… UGH. 

Monday brought a tough, slow morning for me…  The baby is sneezing and her eye looks a little puffy and red, but I have some serious meetings today and an appointment at the gym with my personal trainer…  Also have to get my ass in gear so that I can be home for the kids swimming tonight at 6pm since it’s parent’s night and the one night of the year the parents get to watch the kids swim. Exciting.  My wife is coming to see – she’s never seen them swim.  The boys will be SO happy!

After that it will be some more work, then off to bed so it can all start again tomorrow…

Update: Linus was smiling and waving in the pool and having a fantastic time so we asked him in the car if is always this happy in the pool.  He said “no”.  Puzzled we asked him why he was so happy, and he said, “I don’t know”.  Odd, but he was REALLY REALLY happy.