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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some examples of what makes me the urban daddy


I have so much stuff going through my head, that I had to get it all out in writing.  I have also come to realize that this is what makes me the urban daddy… My thoughts on being the father of 3 children, my ability to read people and understand thought processes and the general garbage that comes through my mind and onto this blog.

Here comes the dump… Hope you have a stable umbrella.

  • I like reggae music only when I’m in the islands.  I feel that it suits the heat and the way of life I can only find on vacation where it is really hot.  On my radio in Toronto just makes me want to go back down south and chill on a beach / cruise ship.
  • It’s time for a new toaster – the one we have does not toast any more, the button is broken, and to make toast I have to turn on the over part and wait for the toaster to start to creak and ping to know when the toast is done.  Even the kids recognize the sounds.  However, the toaster now starts creaking and pinging after the toast is very brown.  That tells me it’s time for it to go!
  • Boom 97.3 you’re losing me.  For starters, I hate bands like the Pet Shop Boys, New Order and the like but I listen because my wife loves that music and it’s a trip down memory lane, but how many times can I hear Loverboy, Supertramp or Depeche Mode before I start to go a little loony.  I think that time has come, or it’s coming really soon.  Anyone have any alternative thoughts and no, talk radio or 97.7HTZ FM, sadly.
  • The chefs on Top Chef Dessert were REALLY bitchy, eh?  Not like the other non-pastry chefs from the regular Top Chef show.  These one’s had real attitude.  Cant wait for the next season.  LOL.
  •  We went swimming to the Ledbury pool this past weekend for a birthday party (a GREAT idea!) and while swimming the lifeguard came up to me and asked me to remove my kids from the ramp.  I looked at the ramp which was chained shut and I looked at everyone else in the pool wondering how it was that we were blocking the closed ramp.  I said to her, “okay, when someone needs to use the ramp, I will make sure we are moved away”, to which she responded, “No you must move now – it’s the rules”.  So as a rule-abiding kind of guy / dad, we moved.  Then later in the afternoon as I was holding my daughter, Berry – who hates water, BTW, but was loving the pool, this same life guard came over to me and asked me to move her out of the deep end unless I wanted the lifeguard to give her a deep sea diving test right now.  Obviously my 22 month old cannot swim so I was going to ask if it made a difference that I was holding her, but the lifeguard cut me off and said, “even though you are holding her she must be able to swim on her own to be in the deep end.  Pool rules”.  So I popped my head under the line separating the deep end from the shallow end and continued swimming.  Another lifeguard came up behind this one and said to her, “I don’t enforce that rule anymore, especially during private parties”, to which she spun, looked at him and said, “that’s why you are a terrible lifeguard” as she stormed away. 
  • If you pay for your drink at Starbucks using a Starbucks card you are entitled to – among other things – a free flavour pump with your drink.  So someone like me who drinks Americano’s likes to have a pump of mocha with it so as it cools it still tastes delicious (Thank you Mr. Real Estate, Marshall Cohen).  Yet time and time again I get charged for that pump.  I even went into the last S’Bux with a tweet exchange between me and @StarbucksCanada where they confirmed the pump is free.  No luck.  I need to keep these receipts and send them in to HQ…
  • My 4-year-old, Stewie is a mini-male replica of my wife.  I don’t understand him, nor her.  Our daughter Berry is a cross between the two boys, but looks like a mini-version of my wife.  So I was no surprised to hear Stewie have this exchange with my wife this afternoon;

Stewie: “Mummy, I love the colour of your shirt today.  It’s my favourite colours”

Mummy: “Thank you Stewie”

Stewie: “Mummy, I love the colour of your hair, black is my favourite colour for hair”.

Mummy: “Thank you Stewie”

Stewie: “Mummy, and I love the colours on your glasses, they are my favourite colours”.

Mummy: “Giggle, thank you Stewie”.

Me: Hey Linus, you need to learn from your brother!”

Stewie to Linus now: “I hate short hair like yours”.

Linus: “But your hair is short too”

Stewie: “I just hate short black hair like yours”

Me: “Enough already… Out…”

Nice, eh?  Little charmer.

  • I don’t think that Wade Belak’s death was solely the result of the fact that he took repeated punches to the head while fighting in hockey.  I think he had suffered from depression before this and possibly his role in hockey contributed to the condition.  All that being said, there must be some good to come out of this.  Any child who loses their parent at such a young age suffers the most and his wife is also put in the position of being the sole parent.  I have strong opinions about suicide – not sure this happened in Wade’s case – but imagine the pain he must have been in to have done this, or overdosed on painkillers and alcohol… Tragic, but the National Hockey League needs to take Wade’s situation, Boogaards’, and that of Rick Rypien and come to the realization that we need premeditated fighting out of the game.  I hate this stuff to begin with and even Don Cherry declared about 10 years ago that with this fighters getting bigger and stronger, that Boogaard was going to kill someone one day.   It’s time has come.  I don’t like fighting in hockey, and I think instead of wasting the 4th line of a hockey team on “agitators” and “goons” the NHL should mandate that the 4th line contain rookies or new players, maybe specialty players for power plays or penalty killing and if the teams do not comply, them reduce the roster size by 3 players.  NHL teams carry 6 or 7 defensemen to cover 3 lines, so why then 4 lines of forwards?  Unnecessary and this change would be seen as a giant step forward by the NHL.
  • So what is open on Labour Day?  Nothing, right.  Well Stewie had a birthday party in Woodbridge of all places and I thought it would be a good idea to drop him off at the Trampoline place on Marycroft Road, then scoot up to Vaughan Mills so my wife can buy some more back to work wear.  Apparently, Vaughan Mills was one of the few places open and it was PACKED!  It took us almost 20 minutes just to get off the highway and another 10 minutes to park.  Inside was worse.  It was so packed that my wife called me when I went back to pick up Stewie asking me to hurry back so we could all leave.  It took me 20 minutes to get back up to get her and 20 minutes for her to get through the mall with the stroller out to the pick up point.  She said it was worse than Boxing Day shopping.  Zowie!
  • Did I mention that I’m in training for the 5k run at the CIBC run for the cure on October 2nd?  Well tonight I put in a 7km run in just under an hour.  I feel great too, and I really needed the steps for the push to the end of the 2011 Global Corporate Challenge.  That run along with the steps I ammassed today gave me a new person best of just over 55,000 steps and got me to 3-million steps.  YAY.

Kids finding interest in sports they like… finally!


For those of you playing along at home, you might recall a post of two lamenting the fact that my boys hate sports and how that makes me very sad. Well that can be changed now to say it made me sad.

A lot has changed in the past couple months and now I believe both my boys have finally found their niches.

My boys love swimming!

I cannot explain in words just how much they love swimming. For just over a year now, I take them to swim classes. Their growth and confidence in the water is off the charts. I thought in mid-August, when my then 5-year-old was jumping into the deep end of the pool at camp without a life jacket or life preservation aid he was doing well, it’s only getting better from there. His current instructor said he loves to dive in, and then merrily swim across the width of the pool. All he has to do is make it across without stopping and he’s moving up to another level. Very exciting!

His little (not so little) brother, Stewie, on the other hand, was afraid to dunk his head in the water – in the pool and in the bath – because 2 years ago he slipped and fell backwards in the bath and took in a lot of water in the 1.2 seconds before I calmly plucked him out. He never forgot that and has hated water since then. Then all of a sudden, over the past couple weeks, I was able to watch their swim class to see that he has completely dunked his entire body, and head under the water and even last night in the bath he went all the way under. He has turned a corner. The best part of that he has the proudest look on his face.

It seems like every day that Stewie asks me, with a glimmer in his eyes, if tonight is his swimming night, and on his swimming night, when he enters the change-room, cold and wet after his class, he has the biggest smile on his face as if he’d just finished the greatest thing ever.

My boys love swimming!

I am very okay with that. Plus… Lifeguards are cool. They have to be in great shape, so those two factors will totally help them later in life – being in shape, being cool and let’s not forget the fact that being a great swimmer lessens the chance of drowning.

But in case being the cool swimming kids results in them being picked on – Linus mainly, Stewie is huge for his age and really tough – at least both boys know karate!

So let’s talk about karate now.

My boy now loves karate too.

I know. Last check-in, one loved it and the other hated it, well that is no longer the case.

Linus, who never liked karate was particularly bored one class, lots of yawns and not doing the moves as if he was going to kill someone but instead as it was trying to tickle (or annoy) them. Well obviously, that pisses me off and quite frankly folks, I’m tired of yelling to (at) him during the class, “Linus! Wake up! Linus, quit playing with your pant strings. Linus, focus!!!!” and to be honest, I’m sure the Sensei’s are ready to turf me out or start using me as their demonstration dummy.

Frustrated, I asked the owner’s sister if she could have a sensei take him aside and teach him the importance of doing his best, not being goofy and paying attention. Well I got way more than I had expected. The sensei took Linus into the back room and explained to him what karate is all about.

Sure, I told him when he first started that karate was to be used for self defense but never actually explained how that works because I’ve never taken it before. And while I thought their “kata” looks more like a dance routine, I never understood that it represented the telling of a story.

This sensei explained to him why you need to do these moves as hard and accurate as possible and to be prepared for the next move in case there are more than one bad guy trying to harm you. Armed with this knowledge, my son grew 2 feet taller on the spot. His moves the rest of the class were crisp, accurate and on target. His footwork was excellent and he used his moves to harm, not annoy. This was reflected in his next karate class where he was one of the top kids and his sensei’s commented on that.

The following week, another one-on-one session saw him get a stripe for being on top of his game. He announced to me after the class that he now likes karate and wants to get more belts. YAY.

So how happy does this make me? Very. Sure it was hard not having him want to play hockey this past winter, or skate, and neither boy wants to play soccer this summer, but I think tennis and golf may be in their futures as they both like playing them.

Hockey has the Sedin’s, Staal’s and Sutters, baseball had the Giambi’s, and tennis or golf or swimming or karate is going to have the urban daddy boys!

My Boys Will NOT be Soccer Stars… or T-Ball, Hockey, Karate…


This topic is a sore point for me.

Not as sore as I thought it would be, but it still bugs me…

My kids have zero interest in sports… in anything that requires competition, not counting who can annoy the other quicker. That, they are great at!

Take soccer, for example… For the past two years both Linus and Stewie have done SportBall soccer. Linus spent the better part of both seasons chewing on his soccer jersey and holding the hand of the female coach. If he wasn’t doing that, he could be found sitting on the grass picking weeds, while the other boys and girls chased the ball.

Stewie, on the other hand, loved being outside and running – he was the fastest and biggest of the 2 year olds last year – but when it came to playing… Well, he would watch a lot but never actually go to get the ball. Then you could see the expression on his face get more and more upset until he would start sobbing that he didn’t get to touch the ball. This approach has not changed… More on this later.

I have tried teaching them about the sport, practicing with them and telling them to go get the ball (it’s not going to come to you), but they have no interest whatsoever, other than getting into their uniforms and catching some rays.

I have actually become that dad that I hated when I was coaching ice hockey in my younger days, who yelled at their kid(s) to do something… anything. Now I yell at them to run, kick the ball, come back and play defense, stop playing with the weeds, grass, bugs, sand, plyon, shoes… Need I go on?

Linus ended his Sportball soccer career with his friend / neighbour passing the ball to him, then him passing it back and that boy scoring. It was the first pass he had ever made. Three years of SportBall, one pass, one assist. He’s done.

So after the soccer fiasco, we took the boys aside and asked them what sports they want to play. Hockey?!? Nope. Basketball?!? Nope. T-Ball… Yes!

So this spring, Linus “played” t-ball. In a league when at 5 1/2 he was one of the youngest and smallest, he managed to find a sport that he can tolerate… For about an hour.

He loves hitting – basically since the bat is heavy and him not that strong, he just slices it into the infield and runs, in a very goofy manner until he gets to the base. Once there all bets are off. He plays with the rocks on the baseball diamond, he picks grass and looks around at the world. Kind of what he does when playing defense. Only twice did he manage to stop the ball and throw out runners. Most of the time he’s too tired or wants to hold my hand. (I coached his t-ball team).

Besides these sports, both my boys do karate (our choice, not theirs), for discipline. This has not gone smoothly either… Essentially, for the last year and a half, Linus has been a lost cause. He’s in karate to learn to defend himself (not to KO his brother as he may think – which is why Stewie needed to be there too… To defend himself). The sensei came up to me the other week and said that she sees a ton of improvement in Linus and that “teaching him was so challenging that it helped me become a better sensei. It’s not that he is a problem-child, but he likes to talk to us and he makes us laugh. He’s very social, and doesn’t like to focus on the moves”. Really? I think that’s why he’s there!

Now he has a new sensei and we asked her to be very tough on him. He’s excelling but still gets very tired / bored during the class and looks completely disinterested.

So let’s fast-forward to the present. After getting the go-ahead from the boys, both kids are playing soccer in a local Toronto Soccer league. I am coaching both teams. Neither boy likes going to the games. They hate their cleats and detest the shin pads. They mope around the field in their cute uniforms, too tired to kick the ball, too disinterested to actually try, but plenty happy to rip out the grass and race 200 years to the water fountain.

Frankly, it’s killing me.

Not that I was a sports star as a kid, however. I was 250 pounds by the time I turned 13, but I carried my baseball glove and tennis ball everywhere I went. I used my hockey stick and net in the street in front of my house numerous time a week. I adored tennis balls, growing up.

I used to toss around a football, I LOVED tennis (still do, but don’t play that much) and rode my bike everywhere.
I never learned to skate, nor play ice hockey, but as an adult joined a ball hockey league and have played on and off for the better part of 19 years (the “off” part comes when we have children).

My kids…

… Not so much.

The boys and I took skating lessons and they were a disaster. Neither boy liked it and after 5 or 6 lessons with them laying on the ice wailing, I got them to participate and try the sport after promising them cookies from Tim Horton’s after they had tried in the class. That worked, but they have no passion to learn to skate on their own. Linus has two friends who LOVE to skate and both now play hockey.

Sure, my little one loved being on the trampoline and asked me just yesterday if he would take gymnastics again. Said he loved the somersaults…

And my older boy… loves swimming and is getting much better at it, but it’s not a “sport”, right…

So it is with that, that I reach out to you, my readers for some insight or success stories to help me cheer up.

I really do want my kids to like sports and I want them to focus and play hard. While I do not want them to have a career in sports, I want them to have fun, learn to compete and want to play catch, or ride their bikes, work up a sweat…

Update:
At Linus’ soccer last night the league arranged for a roving instructor to come spend some time with the team and he said that Linus likes to play but has zero confidence and I need to teach him to be competative… I envision a plate of candy and him doing drills until he gets all the treats. Not that I would ever do that, but I’m running out of suggestions… HELP!

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.