Thursday, September 3, 2015

A week full of sh#t!

This week Max decided to toilet train in full #maxlocomotive fashion. We also had our entire sewer replaced.  It was a crappy start but by the end of the week, things are looking brighter!

The theme must have resonated with the big guy because tonight he said, and I quote "Mommy, did you know butt holes grow bigger because that's the only way the giant slob of poo can come out?"

Gotta love kids and their free flowing thoughts and commentary. 



Get It In Ya!




















This summer I had had enough.

You know your typical day as a parent. You start it tired. Your initial fatigue is somewhat proportional to midnight munchkin visits. I tend to lose count around four or five.

Then you have to actually get out of the house - battles over breakfast; confrontations over clothing; tortuous tooth brushing. Just getting them to daycare or school is an epic saga whose protagonists sap your strength and weaken your will more than the one ring to rule them all, without that useful invisibility bonus. And if you think Tolkien went a little long, my utterances would fill volumes, although there are only so many ways to say "Put your shoes on!"

The commute comes next. Daily I mourn the career that could have been-  me, an F1 champion. Mirabeau has nothing on the crucible of Toronto traffic, backseat shenanigans, multiple drop offs and the need to get to work sometime before noon. I need a whole pit crew just to clean out the backseat.

After a day at the office, itself no picnic and I think sort of important given the need for food on table and a roof overhead, it's time to take to the streets again. The trip home has the added heartpounding of a James Bond thriller (with none of the witty banter) as the "late pickup" timebomb ticks inexonerably down towards zero. $5 for 1 minute? Sure! No allowances for that four car pileup, you say? Of course!

Then, if you've remembered the dry cleaning or the groceries or the trip to the pharmacy, you arrive home. The ungrateful brats demand to be fed. Why yes, wouldn't we all, but instead they would also like to play in the garden, go to the park, dump out the nicely folded laundry, battle each other like mini-gladiators or some other activity that is ocertainly not going to get that food on the table in a jiffy. Once you have moved heaven and earth to cook, from scratch, a healthy, family meal for all to enjoy (we deserve awards for this), they proceed to turn up their noses, dump their plates on the floor and whip their milk across the room.

Yes. This is where I had had enough. And an epiphany.

Forget family dinners. Sure it's what you are supposed to do as a good parent, but it was making me a basketcase. A bad parent.

Now we cook something quick and easy that they will eat, and often it can still be healthy (I said often, not always). After they are in bed, then we can enjoy our own more civilized meal. We can still do a family meal or two on weekends, but it doesn't always fit in the gauntlet of modern family life. I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back to School

September is here and it's that time of year - back to school! We have one last weeks respite before the big guy heads into Grade 1 after labour day. I'm not sure how it snuck up. We haven't really done any back to school shopping, although mommy managed to sneak in a pretty solid update to his warddrobe. The kid just keeps growing so fast, things barely last three months. Grrrr. How many pairs of ski boots are we going to get through this winter?

As summer fades, it is important to remember some of the great times with the munchkins.

Pony rides! 
Goats of Saltspring Cheese 
Saltspring Sailing Camp 
On the open ocean

Of course mommy and daddy had some fun too!

Salspring Winery


Pan Am Game Beach Volleyball

Blue Jays!

Lobster dinner!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hold on while I slip into something more comfortable (Giveaway)




For the last couple of weeks we've been out and about in some new footwear courtesy of Mark's. Mark's wants to share that they have shoes, sandals and boots #ForAllWalks, not just the steel-toed workboots of yore.

And to wrap up we are giving away a little something special from our friends at Mark's - a $100 GiftCard. Come back daily and enter until midnight on the 22nd of July.

Open to Canadian residents, except Quebec. Sorry!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Walk on the Wild Side


As loyals readers (and anyone who has ever met him) are aware, #MaxLoco is a bundle of energy. He only has one setting - full speed. His Hallowe'en costume is already in the works. Luckily he's tough too. When he crashes, at top speed, there will be tears, but not for long, and more often than not, he's back at it before you can say "band-aid".

It probably shouldn't, but it still surprises me. Tonight we were having a blast as we kicked the soccer ball on the back drive. Then boom! I'm not sure how, but his feet just disappeared from under him and there was his face bouncing off the asphalt.

Delayed tears. Never a good sign.

And then there was the blood. I scooped him up and rushed inside. I wanted to get him to the bathroom to get it cleaned up, but I was also secretly hoping his mom would do the more thourough examination. I'm usually pretty good in a pinch, but my fear was teeth through the lip. Don't think I'd be concsious for long after seeing that. I once thought about med school. Ya, that wasn't happening.

Thankfully, it was just a split lip, but reinforced the painful reminder that as a parent I always need to be ready. This can be challenge, particularly at the cottage. Slick rocks, hidden tree roots, uneven surfaces, short sight lines. Max loves it. My role in keeping him safe, not so much. Last year, much Max Patrol was performed in flip flops. I am well aquainted with large splinters, torn toenails and cut feet (the ones on the bottom are the worst!).

This year, thanks to the good folks at Mark's, I had some shiny new Columbia Firecamp Mesh Trail shoes to try out. I cound that I can slip these bad boys on in a heartbeat as Max makes a break for it. They're also actually pretty darn comfortable, just a comfy on the trail, in the boat, or on the dock. While not the most stylish kicks (they're no Jordans), they get the job done. It just reminds me that living in Canada with the climate and the stuff we like to get into, you need more than a couple pairs of shoes. You only get one set of feet.

Come back on Thursday as we'll be giving away $100 gift card to get into your own set of kicks at Mark's.

#ForAllWalks

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Irie

Another Father's Day has come and gone. I'm another year older and so are the boys. This Dad thing gets cooler all the time, even if I can't sleep in any more - not just from lack of opportunity, I physically just can't seem to do it.

When the lovely wife suggested we head down the Beach for the BBQ and Brews Festival to celebrate, I was a bit grumpy. I didn't think I could muster the energy. I also didn't have the energy to argue (and I was taking a pretty stupid position). But it was a beautiful day and I did have a new pair of sandals that I wanted to take for a stroll as a part of Mark's #AllWalks campaign. So we all hopped in the car and headed down.

I am glad we did. 

Big Sugar

As we rolled through the gates, who was on stage but none other than Big Sugar. I was thrown back to my youth. My university years (let's just call them the late 90's and leave it at that) involved many a trip to a local establishment to blow out my eardrums courtesy of Gordie's guitar and Mr. Chill's keyboard/harmonica/blow-organ.

Look at the sandals (not the foot!)
But this was something new. This was the usually dapper gents clad all in white, unplugged serenading us with acoustic "Yard Style". The always strong Reggae influence had grown. And I was right at home.

I'm pretty sure I had never worn sandals to a Big Sugar show before, but in my WindRiver Surfer Flip Flops everything was irie. The colour scheme was a nice touch. It's not often that Dad gets to be hip (saying that proves I'm not). I have to admit, I don't often venture out in sandals, particularly not when the little guy is in tow. But I'll give it to these flippy-floppies, they even stayed on my feet when  #MaxLoco made his inevitable bolt for freedom. And yes, they came from Mark's. Turns out they sell more than steel-toed boots. Who knew? Stay tuned as we'll be giving away $100 gift card to Mark's in the next few weeks. Dear Mr. Fantasy, indeed.
Some ribs, pulled pork, beans, and tasty Beau's beverages rounded out an awesome afternoon.
To top it off, the boys came back as the "melt your face" (to quote a merch vendor) rock band of days gone by, belting out classics. 

So let me ask you, would you let it ride?
#allwalks




Sunday, July 5, 2015

Need for Speed



At the end of the day there was Max. Up on stage, bright lights shining, reporters with their regular post-race patter. Taking it all in. And dishing it right back.

A day at the track and he was closing it with a full press conference. No answer ungiven. No questions out of bounds. You just had to let him choose the mic.

Let's back up.

MaxLoco and I were invited by IndyCar to attend the Honda Indy Toronto for a behind the scenes look at Toronto's fastest motorsports event. Max, as a typical just-turned three year old, loves Disney/Pixar's Cars. Race cars are as cool as it gets. I'm not sure he truly understood he was about to see real ones.

The day started off on the rigth foot with a ride on a bus, subway and streetcar. Exhibition Place is not the easiest venue to get to. Having experienced the joys of each of the TTC's transport modes, he was in good spirits. I was only worried on two fronts: would I be able to get him to wear his ear-muffs and would I be able to keep track of him in the crowds and speeding vehicles?

From the get go, the whole thing blew his mind. He was into every aspect of it. And we hadn't even seen the cars take to the track. He loved sitting in the race car (it took some coaxing to get him to come out of it); he adored the motorcycles (and tried one in every colour); he scarfed the treats (snowcones and popcorn).

There were a ton of activities for kids and grown ups alike. And then there was the racing. I'd never been to a real race before. Redundant statement of the day - those cars are fast. It was truly amazing to see them fly by. Max would be chattering away, but as soon as a race car came into view it was the sole focus of his attention "race car!"



As nap time closed in, we got ready to head home. That's when we discovered the press conference room. I was gathering up our things when Max took off down the hallway, as he does. By the time I caught up, he had slipped into the press conference room. Without a moment's hesitation he strode confidently on to the stage and sidled up the nearest mic. Applying his usual charm while causing ruckus, he quickly had the staff playing along.

He spoke about his racing influences (grandma), the grip of the track (good), and his history in the sport (three years).



Everyone present agreed he has the key ingredients to becoming a racecar driver:
  • confidence
  • love of speed
  • fearlessness
  • determination

I only hope that he grows too tall to fit in those little rocket boxes.

I am looking forward to next year and returning to the Indy. It's a little more accessible than F1 (plus it's in Toronto instead of Montreal). It was much more of a family experience than I had expected.

And who knows, maybe some day we'll even make it Indianapolis.


Full Disclosure: we were guests of IndyCar for the day. Opinions remain my own.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day from all of us! Lucky to spend the day enjoying this great country with family and friends! And some lobsters.




Friday, June 19, 2015

Big Boy Bed


Mornings for the past few weeks have been earlier and more sudden than in recent memory.

Rather than a distant, if persistent, cry, wail or general agitation, it's there. Right there. Jumping into the bed with us, bouncing on us, pulling, tugging, yelling, licking and generally getting his way. "We're up! We're up!"

I had thought that he was making big strides. I thought that he could handle it. And he can. It's just me that can't.

By the third weekend, I was starting to feel we had this one figured out. A bit rough sure, but figured out. We were just going to have to get up when he did. I made peace with that.

So he changed it.

Sunday morning. Early. I heard the patter of the little feet, but instead of down the hallway to our room, I heard the stairs creak. I unclenched by body, conditioned by the mornings of Wrestlemania Volume 648. But no.

He'd gone downstairs. Quiet.

Was his brother up?

Yes.

Could he handle the little guy?

For sure. They'll just watch some tv.

Wait. What?!

Could we sleep in? We went for it. Visions of sleep, pillows and actual rest dancing across my eyelids.

Still quiet. That was it. We were starting to drift off again.

"Mommy!"

Please let it be just one plaintive cry.

"Mommy!"

Ok, two was still fine. Maybe I could get that dream back.

"Mommy! MOMMY!"

If it's really important he'll come and get us, or his brother will. Right?

"I need Ketchup!"

What?

"Ketchuuuuuuuup!"

This was getting more insistent by the moment.

"Ketchup! Ketchup! KETCHUP!"

Am I dreaming? Why the blazes does he need ketchup? Surely I'm hearing this wrong.

"KETCHUP . . . FOR MY MAC N CHEESE!"

But he's not yelling for Mommy to get the Mac N Cheese, which means, which means he already has it. Dreams of a morning sleep-in, or dare I say it, even a snuggle, were replaced with Mac n Cheese ground into the hardwood, with the pasta smeared on the walls, with all that dairy goodness adorning our living room couch. Did I mention we have a white couch? Or at least it used to be.

So yes. We were up. And every morning since.

Best not to think about it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Big Mac Attack!



Keep being everything that makes you who you are!

Love, your fam!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Losing Them in the Woods


The boys are getting to an age where we are starting to engage in more independent activities. We still have family outings, but the little guys are starting to develop their own activities and interests. Apart from playing chauffeur more often, this often means that I'm ferrying one around while supermom is dealing with the other.

As they grow, we're are also noticing that it's getting a bit more crowded in our "cozy" house. On top of each other with energy to burn, lounging around the house on a Saturday just doesn't work anymore. So we get them out and doing stuff. Whether we are up to it or not. This is easier in the summer where only a water bottle and sunscreen replace the boots, snowpants, touques, mitts, jackets, long undies, neck warmers . . . but it's still not easy.

Often I offer the most resistance, wishing by some miracle that I might find myself dozing between the sheets or have time to slowly sip my coffee while perusing a thick, weekend edition newspaper. Supermom often has the brain wave, and, once finally out and about, I begrudingly have to admit she was right. Again.

Sometimes, if I'm really brave or really owe her one, I'll take both boys on one these excursions solo. This has definitely gotten more frequent as #MaxLoco has grown from toddler to pre-schooler. At least now he'll listen to about half of what I say before he ignores it.

The watershed moment was last fall. One of my wife's best friends in the whole world (friends since childhood, roomates after university, you know the kind) was getting married. The ceremony was at a beautiful fishing resort, over 4,000kms away, on Vancouver Island. Her sister was going too. So my brother-in-law and I had a plan. We'd spend the weekend with the bulk of the boys up at the cottage.

Packing up was easy and we each hit the road from our respective ends of the city. Leaving the skyline behind, I noticed a dark line cutting across the horizon. Ominously dark. Unfortunately the boys are too young to grasp my Mordor references. Then we were into it. Blackness cut by sheet lighting while furious thunderclaps shook the car. The rain was punding on the roof so violently it almost drowned out the little one's shrieks of terror. I had troubles of my own, whiteknuckling the car through quickly deepening lake that used to be a highway.

Eventually the storm subsided and we pressed on, finally arriving at a dark cottage road. The high beams quickly picked up the branches, splinters and detritus littering the narrow track. Broken trees lined the lane, snapped like matchsticks. As we crested the hill I could see an entire tree dangling over the road, held up only by the power line. So much for electricity. My brother in law arrived about five minutes later and we made the trek down to the lakefront together. It was evident the power was out. In the darkness we could make out that a another tree had come down, a massive oak, but thankfully six inches to the west of the cottage.

We made sure there were no immediate hazards (trees about to crush the cottage, rabid black bears, a sufficient supply of cold beers), and, with a roof over our heads, decided to revisit things in the morning. It was pretty obvious that we'd be turning around and heading back to the city. We got the boys settled and hunkered down.

The next morning was beautiful. The lake was silent. Otherworldly silent. Still no power. Our thinking then quickly proceeded along these lines:
  • decide to go home
  • decide the weather is actually pretty nice
  • decide to buy a chainsaw
  • decide that we can in fact stick it out
So we did. The power came back, for a bit. Just enough to flush the loo a couple of times. Perfect. As darkness fell, we knew we had made the right decision. So we pushed it one further:
  • decide, with the boys tucked tightly into bed, to rewards selves with beer at the firepit. Did I mention the firepit is up a steep path on top of a hill, some distance away from the cottage?
Upon reflection, it made have been prudent to lash the little ones to their beds, or at least lock the cottage door. Up at the firepit, a few beers and quite a few logs later, I thought I heard a whimpering, so I trekked back down to the cottage. In my haste I tripped over a shoe. How did that get there? The youngest was bawling.

Oops.

It didn't take long to settle him down, but campfire time was over. I could see the others still in their beds. Relief. All were safe and sound. My brother-in-law came back down too to see what was up. It was only then that the eldest came bounding through the screen door. Turns out he had gone looking for us. For some time. In the dark. With only one shoe. We didn't put that detail together until the next morning.

All in all it was a great weekend. The boys had a blast, despite storms (turns out there had been a tornado on the lake) and nightime shennanigans.

On the way back to the city, we thought it best to gloss over some of the details of the second night when telling our wives about the weekend. That didn't last long. Those little rats chatterboxes will get you every time.



Sunday, May 31, 2015

The 2nd Annual Way to Win Father's Day (a gift guide)

Last year around this time I put together a little Father's Day gift guide to help find that perfect something for that great Dad (or Dads) in your life. And we're doing it again this year! Stick with us, kids. You're going to be just fine.

Man Crates

It's always appreciated if you can help your dad survive a zombie apocalypse (might be something in it for you too). He'll love it if you can satisfy his nostalgia for retro gaming (although you may not get the TV back). Of course there is the simple pleasure of jerky, lots of jerky (hands off!). Enter Man Crates. These curated crates strike just the right balance of whimsy and practicality. Oh, and he gets to open them with a crowbar. Well done Man Crates, well done.

And they just happen to running a contest to send 2 lucky dudes on a VIP tour of Germany’s famous Oktoberfest!  Enter you email address for a chance to win!

A New Ride
This year for wheels I'm focusing on something with practicality in mind. Something that can get you around the city while nimble enought to squeeze into the tightest parking spots. Of course it has to be quick too. How else can you make it to daycare before the cutoff, to t-ball before the first pitch is placed, or to the LCBO befor they close up shop? This year why not get that special guy in your life the Fiat Abarth. As one (former) automotive journalist summed it up, "160 horsepower in the car the size of a shoe. Fantastic".




If you build it, they will come
LEGO. This one made last year's list too. (For those taking notes, I still haven't received a set of my very own). Something cool like the new Star Wars, Jurassic Park or Superhero sets would hit the spot. Or you can always select something more "mature" like the Architecture series.


The Axe
What guy doesn't want that manliest of tools, the axe. And if you are going to get him one, might as well get him a good one. One that he can pass on to his kids and they theirs. Yes, we're talking about the kind of lumber and steel lovingly handmade by Basecamp X. Go with their versatile Pioneer, the rugged Titanis or all out with a custom order. Respect the tool.

Just for fun you can always get "The Furies" instead. Yup, throwing knives. Or maybe just a coffee mug. They have those too.



A New Deck
The kids are still into it and dad was back in the day, so why not make him feel young again with a new skateboard deck? He'll be familiar with Tony Hawk and Powell Peralta, but rather than have him try too hard to find his (lost) glory days, our friends up at Beau's have one of their very own.  If he has trouble finding his "old school" skills, he can always just mount it on the wall. And a share of the proceeds go to a charity to expand an Ottawa-area skate park.

If a skateboard is too much, the fine folks of Beau's offer a ton of other cool swag.


A little something for the Cottage

If he's lucky enough to spend all his time and money maintaining, fixing, cleaning, pruning, clearing own a cottage, there are always some nice touches for if when he gets to put his feet up on the dock. The traditional Hudson's Bay point blanket will let him linger a little longer after sunset (and provide another layer of protection from the mosquitos). Muskoka Brewery is offering a nice little service this summer: Dockside Draught. A keg fridge, barware, dockside beer delivery, and maintenance all in one handy package from a tasty brewery.



Take him out to the Ball Game
Warm summer evernings, fresh buttery popcorn, mustard-smothered hot dogs, ice cold beer, and the crack of the bat. Some say that Jays might even make the playoffs, the season so far notwithstanding. Let's hope it goes a bit better for them than their colleagues on the hardwood.

If you're in Toronto and need a little extra help getting to the ballpark, check out the various events put together by Left Field Brewery. You can ride with them to the big leagues, or hop on bus, make a run for the border and check out some Triple A ball.


Meat
Last year we wished for a Big Green Egg. This year, it's about knowing what to do with it. Enter Olliffe, a fancy Toronto butcher, or as they put it "Purveyors of the Finest Meats". They want to help you "know your meat" and are putting their money where their mouths are with their Butchery Classes. Topics vary: Making a Terrine, Knife Skills, Roasting, but not only will dad benefit, you might get a taste of the results. A night of meat, knives and wine? What could go wrong?





Date Night
It maight sound sappy, but Dad would love some time with the partner in his life. Some simple, uninterrupted time. If it's a picnic at the beach, a dinner at cool restaurant, or even a walk in park, some time with the special someone is always treasured. I'm thinking about a night with the boys in bed, some nice wine at hand, a few warm blankets enjoying a cheesy movie. If we can't make it to the movies (do they let you take wine in their anyway?), why not make your own theatre by projecting the film on the wall. I have my eye on something like this to make it happen. And if you have to get him the projector as gift, so be it.

As always, if Dad has let slip something vital, then go with that, but we think every item on this list is a winner, and beyond Father's Day. So you can thank us at Christmas time too.

Please shout out in the comments below any ideas you feel worthy to thank dad for the awesome job he does all year. Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bubbles!


This kids loves the bubbles. 
Good thing as he needs bathing so often. 

#pigpen #MaxLoco

Saturday, April 11, 2015

'Round the ROM

Look over there!

Living in Toronto we are spoiled with the great variety of activities for kids. For Christmas this year we received a Family Membership to the Royal Ontario Museum - the ROM.

It's great fun. 

There is a ton to look at: 
  • animals and insects;
  • dinosaurs and fossils;
  • ancient cultural treasures and clothing;
  • gemstones and natural wonders;
  • and don't forget the knights (did I mention we are in to those right now?).

We've been a few times, but have yet to see the whole place.



Beautiful Bugs 
As for many of these types of attractions, I highly recommend the family membership. It only takes a few visits to pay it off, it acts as a motivational destination when you just can't think of something to do, and it provides the freedom to leave. 

We've all been there. 

That says Don't Touch!
You know that place where we've shelled out the exorbitant entry fee, but the kids just aren't having it. Instead of taking in the beauty and the wonder (why aren't you learning?!?), they are in full-on meltdown mode. One is screaming, the other is tearing the place up. If yfou have a third they are already lost somewhere. There are the disapproving looks from the other patrons, the ones you just want to stick your tongue out at, or some other less more appropriate gesture.

As a parent, you're either exhausterd or frustrated or have just plain had it. Most likely all three. That's the beauty of the membership. You can call it. Pack 'em up and head her home. No harm, no foul. Try again another day. There is no sunk cost, no sticking it out, no need to "get your money's worth". Did I mention I was a fan of this approach? 

Ya. I think I did.
Boy in the Bubble



A great boys day out!