Holy Hell! Please Tell Me Today is NOT Monday!

I woke up this morning at 6am with a feeling of dread that today might actually be Monday…

I turned to my wife who was already awake and I asked her, “Is it Monday?”

“Yup”, she responded with a sigh.

It’s not that we hate our jobs, or that we had something to do today which we were dreading, but today came way too soon.

For those of you with multiple children – especially those of you with children in activities – know that this is one hectic time of year.

Programs are ending, programs and starting, and that means 8am-10pm programming and with 3 children and 2 parents, it means a whole lot of juggling and lots of mileage on the car!

Take Sunday for example.  My oldest boy umpires baseball, and as his baseball season came to an end yesterday, he found umpiring work at the Toronto Girls Baseball League, an upstart league created by Dana Bookman, which has taken the city by storm.  Very well run, extremely well-organized, and extremely well supported it’s been a huge success and is growing by leaps and bounds.  Our daughter has played in the league and would play more if it didn’t conflict with her dance classes.

As the oldest, and considering the park was close enough to home, he was the lucky one who had to make his own way to and from the games.  He gathered his umpire gear, made sure he found his bike lock, and set out his water bottle, snack and sun screen the night before.

His younger brother had Sunday school in the morning, followed by his Select hockey practice, followed right after by his baseball playoff game.  He made muffins in the morning which made him happy, and he loved his select practice and his baseball team won (even though he wanted to pitch and his coach wouldn’t let him pitch – which made him grumpy).

As an aside, he’s an outstanding kid – all about fairness and equality for everyone – he knows that he has pitched the least out of all the kids and out of frustration he declared that he’s not playing baseball next year.  Never ever again.  All of this because he’s had the same coach 2 years in a row and he feels that he’s going to get the same coach next season and that coach will not let him pitch.  It’s NOT fair.

Our daughter, fresh off a Saturday afternoon dancing at half-time of the Toronto Argonauts football game, had her day filled with another dancing gig at the Girl Expo Canada, which coincidentally was created and run by Dana Bookman along with Alison Cepler.

After that event, she headed downtown to synchronized swimming practice where 2 hours in the pool tuckered her out.

Back at home, the oldest had a play date with a former school mate, and by the time we all settled in together, it was 8pm and I left my equally exhausted wife with 3 hungry, tired children while I raced out to a 8:30pm business meeting.

I finally returned just before 11pm to find my wife laying in bed – too tired to sleep – but so tired she needed to sleep.  We planned Monday’s responsibilities and I headed down to the kitchen to clean up from dinner, and take care of the load of laundry she ran.

Midnight came very quickly.

She was still awake.

I was wide awake.

“You know, we’re going to close our eyes and it will feel like seconds before it’s Monday morning.”

With that thought, we closed our eyes…


(For those of you who are thinking about commenting that it’s our fault for having 3 kids, and for programming 3 kids and that we’re just being whiny for complaining… Yup.  Saved you from having to enter that comment.)

Just thinking about myself as a kid – my parents put me in the one program that they thought I should have been in – and that was the way it was done.  I want my kids to experience plenty of things – we’re smart enough to plan the schedules accordingly, but when programs overlap… So not cool.




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…

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!