Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Putting a Tally on Stress

Okedokey. It’s been a long, long while since I’ve blogged. A year of blogging has come and gone with narry a peep from me. “Why’s that?” you say. Well, not-surprisingly, as I have mentioned before, blogging about parenting is usually only possible when one is not in the very act of parenting. Now, as we all know parenting, in itself, can be considered quite time consuming (even more so when you have little-to-no support infrastructure in the guise of babysitters etc.) As such, time is usually at a premium even when things are going smoothly.

Well, around about late October I started to wonder why I was going flat out and not making any progress. I was throwing myself headlong at housework, child rearing and the job only to find at the end of the day (often usually well into the “am” of the next) I was barely holding ground. I was getting frustrated and exhausted and couldn’t figure out why. That is, until I sat down and took stock of the event roster.

What is an event roster you may ask? Well, this is something I had to come up with on the fly. Essentially I started doing an audit of my day-to-day life starting in August and working my way through to the present day. In this, I included anything within my life that did not include the regular day to day routine, ie: job, commute, housework, quality time at home with the kids, and general maintenance. Into this list I poured everything that didn’t fall into these categories. These included such things as events within the greater family dynamic, change of location for family members, medical emergencies, job changes, financial emergencies, in short: anything that ate away at the 24hrs a day in which I had to operate.

Now, this time could have been eaten up in various ways. Often it was a direct action on my part to solve or manage a particular event or task. In other cases it was taking over for someone else while they dealt with a specific issue. In all cases, though, it had to amount into hours to be counted with anything over eight hours being counted as a single day’s worth of “event response” Grand total? In a four month (122 day) period I have lost 85.5 days worth of time that under normal circumstances would go into the daily routine outlined above. Don’t believe me? Check it out.

Event Roster in days (in no particular order):

Thyroid operation for Jamie’s mom. 2
Taking care of Jamie’s mom and apartment. 5
Brother’s divorce. 1
Brother’s property sold. 1
Jen’s sister’s pregnancy. 4
Last minute 5-day working trip to Toronto IHC. 6
Finding new daycare for Jamie. 4
Finding new school for Jamie. 4
First day of school and subsequent fallout. 2
First day of daycare and subsequent fallout. 1
Giving up old daycare and school 2
Move Jamie’s mother’s apartment. 3
New job for me 2
New job for Jen 2
Visit #1 from Jack 4
Visit #2 from Jack 4
Jack’s visit for the month of August 10
Halloween 2
Thanksgiving 2
Carp Fair 1
Birthday Party #1 3
Birthday Party #2 3
Parent-teacher interview #1 and #2 .5
HR payroll issues 1
Jen’s grandmother hospitalized once 4
Jen’s grandmother hospitalized twice 4
Jen’s grandmother hospitalized thrice 4
Day trip to Omega Park 1
Dental abcess .5
Root Canal .5
Repair to failed root canal filling .5
Transit Strike 1
Winter storm .5

Total: 85.5

Four month period: 122

Now, in a few cases these events were considered positive (Omega Park for instance) however, they still take a way from the overall routine which is why they’ve been counted. The majority of these items, however, are to be considered either negative or at the very least stress-causing. For instance a new daycare might be (on the whole) a good thing but finding it, arranging interviews, payments, working out transport to and from, and helping your child deal with the stress of the move do cut into the overall routine, let me tell you.

So, there you have it. The reason for my silence revealed. As we come into the holiday period I do hope to get myself back onto a more regular schedule as positive oriented events aren’t quite as stressful or taxing on the overall system. Still, for all you parents out there, if you’re feeling bagged sit down and tally up what’s been happening in your life. You might be surprised at what you find

Friday, September 26, 2008


Eh...what the heck? I'm on a roll.

Ok, rant time, boys and girls. So kick back, grab a drink and relax. I've been working on this one for a week or so and I figure it's something I just gotta get off the chest. This one's going to take a bit.

Seeing how Summer has fled before Autumn’s onslaught I thought I’d wrap things up this season with a look at one area of aggravation that I have wrestled with ever since I became a father. I’m talking, of course, about cyclists.

Now, overall I have no problem with cyclists. I can remember long summers watching the flocks of wild cyclists hurtling past my driveway on their weekly round trips to Kingston and I’ll admit I was impressed by their dedication to their cause and perhaps a little jealous of people who could afford the mindset that there was nothing better for them to do on any given weekend than spend a 48 hr period peddling across Eastern Ontario over and over again.

But over the years as I became more urbanized I found my patience beginning to wane with the two-wheeled set. For instance, although I had no problem with young cyclists riding on the sidewalk too often I would watch as full grown adults would ignore the rules of the road, blowing through red lights, going the wrong way on one-way streets and, my favourite, leaping their bikes up onto the sidewalk to dodge through pedestrian traffic. A few times I have even witnessed the unfortunate collision between these cyclists and pedestrians including children, strollers and the elderly. Still, I remembered the inter-city cyclists of yesteryear and I thought, at least, they might have had the right idea and did my best to chalk up the inner city cyclists as simply less evolved when it came to the breed.

However, this last shred of innocence was taken from me a couple of weeks back when I witnessed a pair of the highway variety of cyclists peddling merrily through the rolling hills towing one of the ever so trendily popular child trailers. As I approached I looked on as several motorists did their best to slam on their brakes and either slow down to well below the posted speed limit (thus becoming a road hazard themselves) or manoeuvring their vehicle into the oncoming lane to get around them.

Now, I understand the economic, environmental and sheer for-the-joy-of-it aspects of cycling. However, I do have to question the mindset of an individual who would strap their child into a thin nylon covered aluminium frame to tow them along a highway well below the speed limit and even below bumper level for most vehicles.

As an occasional motorist when I place my child on the highway I strap them into a vehicle that meets highway safety requirements including seatbelts, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, signals and airbags. I place him into his booster seat installed to meet all safety and insurance standards and I make sure that he and my vehicle are equipped for all contingencies: weather, breakdown, temperature change, first aid, etc.

Thus I wonder at the mentality of someone who would willingly place their child in a situation where not only are they not protected from other vehicles but that they would then proceed to expose that child under conditions where those vehicles are moving at high speed, with only a limited chance of even seeing the trailer before literally and perhaps tragically being right on top of it. A cycling helmet may stop a spill. It will do nothing to reduce the impact of the front bumper of an SUV moving at 80 km/hour.

Even if a cyclist is obeying the rules of the road (a coin toss these days) the laws of physics tend to pick up where the laws of the road leave off. A multi-ton tractor trailer not only requires more distance to slow down than your average vehicle it also creates a great deal of drag on those it passes. Every year children on bicycles are accidentally “sucked” beneath these behemoths to predictable and tragic results. If it can happen to kids on bicycles, is it so far fetched that a child in a trailer is equally vulnerable?

Sadly, for me, the magic of cyclists as a charming phenomena of our environment has well and truly fled. Where once I believed them to be at least somewhat progressive in their choice of locomotion I am starting to find them to simply be yet one more branch of this beloved species of ours that seems incapable of either thinking through their actions or taking responsibility for them when tragedy does strike. For the sake of the next generation, if you’re going to endanger yourself that’s a risk you can take but by all that’s holy, think before exposing your kids to potential tragedy.

The Parenting Blog Paradox

Greetings Folks,

No, I'm not dead, just suffering from the whole parenting blog paradox; ie. How do I find the time to blog about parenting when I'm too busy parenting. Well, given the late date of this particular blog so far my answer's a simple one and rather self evident. I don't, at least, not as often as I'd like. Seriously, since my last blog it's been a busy time. Having had both my kids for a solid month, the transfer of my youngest son to a school that is far more geographically desirable, the switch to a new job for me, a new daycare for him, saying goodbye (temporarily) to my eldest boy and the gearing up of my youngest boy from part time kindergarten to full time Grade one has taken its toll on dear old dad (who, BTW, is now, officially a year older)


Yeah, my sentiment exactly.

Anyhoo, without further ado, a couple of housekeeping issues…

First: A huge thank you to the girls at Florence Childcare Centre of Ottawa. Folks, let me tell you, these ladies looked after Jamie for the last three years or so and I've got to say a better daycare you will not find. I credit them with helping Jamie to become the well socialized little boy he's become as well as his love of all things dance related. Literally, he blossomed under their care. Seriously, ladies, to Kelly, Val, Karen, Amy, Tracy, Sophie, Sarah, Liz, and all the rest, if you're reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. What you have done has helped put my son on the path to being a better person. And a gift like that will never be forgotten. To the rest of you folks out there: if you're looking for the perfect balance of childcare and development for your child in the downtown Ottawa core check out Florence. These people are golden. Seriously.

Second: To anyone who's looking to slap together a birthday party in the Ottawa area for kids aged three to eight, check out the Canadian Museum of Science and Tech. Speaking from the novel and first time experience of slapping together a birthday for Jamie's friends, these guys rocked. The party was thorough, fun, educational (God forbid), came in a variety of flavours, and they covered everything from food to loot bags. There was even a simulator ride to Mars. Seriously, how cool is that? A big shout-out to Michelle who led the festivities. Hope you found your hat.

Anyway, that's it for the moment. More coming so stay tuned. Radio D.O.A.D. is back on the air.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stuck up to my Chi and Sinking into a Blog. My Quest for the Do-able Workout.

So, there I was, good to go, (health-wise), but with limited resources and no reliable transportation. I had my weights, sure, and that would help (somewhat) in the rebuilding of my health but, as mentioned before, I’m one of these souls who needs to accomplish something on a level other than just physical when I exercise. After 35 years, I can say that for myself, boredom is the quickest way to failure. I think, ultimately, I got this from my dad. For him, keeping healthy was easy, as 95% of his daily exercise was keeping the farm from slipping back into arboreal chaos while making sure that the family had a good supply of heat for the winter. There weren’t too many days when we wouldn’t be able to find him knee-deep in the underbrush trying to drag out yet another fallen tree from the thousands he had planted to be dumped beside the driveway in preparation for the chopping block.

Sadly, however, this isn’t an option for me as, given my current residence, if I tried something like that the condo board would be sure to unleash its equivalent of its squadrons of flying monkeys at me (albeit if only to deliver a stern letter to stop chopping up condo property). So, what to do? Playing with the kids and housework weren’t enough. Routine exercise was boring without a raison d’etre. In desperation I tried to join Jen on one of her many yoga sessions. Yeah, yeah, I know. It hurt. And I looked pretty silly doing it (and even sillier trying to undo it). But it did manage to create more of a feeling of accomplishment than I was used to with just the weights. (I guess the humility was just a perk.) So, was there something else I could do that didn’t require me looking like an overweight precooked (read: doughy) pretzel? Why, yes. And like Yoga, it came in handy DVD form as well. Kewl. My solution? Tai Chi.
This was it. This was where I wanted to go. A workout based on balance and meditation with all the perks of strength-building and flexibility. And I didn’t have to listen to my joints popping while I did it.

At first, I'll admit, I felt kind of conspicuous. At 6’8’’ I’m not the world’s most graceful individual and I suspect when Tai Chi was being developed by the original masters they didn’t have towering 30-somethings envisaged as potential beneficiaries. Moreover, as my only time to workout was either last thing at night or first thing in the morning, it was always a tough call to decide which I preferred more: to yawn my way through the PM set when my body was pleading for sleep or risk an unsuspecting crane doing his best to spread his wings (It’s a Tai Chi move. Look it up.) to being pounced on by my giggling and pajama-clad six year old. My solution? I rotate my timings to make sure I get an equal yet liberal amount of fatigue and indignity.

Still, it seems to be paying off, not only am I now becoming halfway competent at the routines, I’ve also discovered that my overall physique is slowly improving (though I will admit, I still engage in weight-work to assist in the acceleration of what I one day might dare to call a “physique”. I figure next step will be to find a Tai Chi instructor I can get to on a regular basis. Mind you, the chances of finding one who teaches at 11pm and 6 am… Oh well. Sink the Chi, everyone.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Still Here (And Panting Hard)

Wow…been a while since I’ve posted. I must say the last thirty days has been absolutely nuts. What with heading down to Guelph for Jack’s birthday, my first cruise aboard a tall ship, a serious-step-up of my duties at work (read: tired), end of school for the boys and Jamie singing at Bluesfest. I find myself frustrated both by the fact that I am gathering a plethora of blogging material yet seem to be experiencing an utter lack of time and energy to “put the fingers to the ‘board”. Oh well, kids do eventually grow up, or so I’m told. I figure at some point I can either count on their pseudo-autonomy or at the very least that they’ll sleep in past 6:30 am. As for the household? Oh well, one windmill at a time, right Sancho? Now, where'd I put those pics....

The Schooner Kajama

The Impromptu crew of the Kajama raising the foresail. Avast! Actually, we did have to stop several times to let the three full grown volunteers on the starboard side catch up.

Under Full Sail....

No Words....

Sigh. Now then as I recall, during one of my earlier posts I mentioned talking about this newfound thing I’ve discovered called “necessity of health” (ie. working out). This revelation came about through a combination of stumbling out of a work environment (prior to my shift to the PS) that was very focused on one staying at one’s desk, coupled with long hours and very poor health habits both in eating and staying mobile. Add the care and feeding of the average suburban household and five year old coupled with a winter where the city would leave six feet of snow unplowed for weeks at a time and well, I gradually began to realize that if I didn’t try to actively get my body up-to-speed I would eventually go from being a primary carrier for my family to being one of the larger-yet-less-fashionable pieces of baggage. And as the man said, “That’ll be the day…”

So, what to do? I figured the first place to start was in the vitamin count and getting my eating habits under control. This, I’ll have you know, was the easy part as it did not really require that much in terms of time allotment. Thankfully, I'm not one of those people who gets cravings (well, not for food anyway). So scaling back and shifting eating habits was fairly straightforeward. The hardest part was actually remembering to eat all three of my meals a day as I had a habit of skipping those I deemed less convenient. Next came the hard part: finding the workout that was right for me. For this particular blog (Part I of II by-the-by) I’ll focus on this. So without further ado...What I didn't do and why:

Gym membership: What are you nuts? When I'm exerting myself, I don't really care for an audience and I sure as hell don't want to pay the privilege of self-ridicule (especially when 95% of what I earn goes to household and childhood upkeep). The other fundamental truth is I'm working at something I want to be working at something. ie. If I'm not accomplishing a task or learning something I find it hard to see the value. Abs alone don't cut it for me. Don't get me wrong. I'll hit the weights, but only if it's on the road to self improvement beyond just the physical. Otherwise, I get bored.

Running: 6 ft 7 inches with a shoe size of 15 EEE there are two truths: One: footwear is hard to find. Two: When footwear is obtained (usually at exhorborant price) footwear will degrade rapidly with increased use. Thus, running, given my budget, and how fast I go through shoes isn't the answer.

Yoga: Ow....ow.....ow....(hold the pose).....(deep cleansing breath)......ow..... and..."Namaste"..... f*cking ow. (seriously though, I still do dabble from time to time)....but sadly not enough cardio to act as a mainstay. My search continued.

Swimming: Similar to the whole gym problem but with a twist, mainly, I don't own a car, and pool resources in which I could do laps are in short supply.

So what's a guy to do? Limited resources, geographically undesirable, a few weights and a desire to learn. Here's a hint... "Sink the Chi." Be back soon....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Father's Day. Tally Ho!

Ok, so the weather on Saturday was absolutely ugly: humid, thunderstorms, just plain nasty. So that left Father's Day for adventuring which was kind of a downer. With Jacqueline’s Birthday (niece) taking up the afternoon and the Tall Ships in Brockville as a potential outing for my youngest I was feeling spread kind of thin. I didn’t know the half of it when I saw in Friday’s paper a tiny two line blurb about…a Medieval Festival. What the Hey? Here? It seems so. For the first time, Eastern Ontario had raised it's cultureless head out of the trough long enough to actually hold (get this) a Medieval Festival. And, much to my surprise, it didn't suck. Better than that, with almost zero advertising, it was just the right balance of populated without being crowded, authentic without being pedantic and downright fun.
Unlike the jousting found in "Medieval Times" of GTA fame the lists at this fair were populated by competitive jousters. (To be honest I was surprised it was still a sport, but apparently it is. Boy, did I miss my calling.) And even though there weren't too many knights on the field the jousts and tests of skill were very impressive and judging from the splintering lances flying every which way, very real. Overall we had a wonderful time. James loved the falconry display. The archery lists demonstrated numerous forms of ranged combat capability and the working trebuchet added a nice touch for the more mechanically minded. In addition there were a number of amazing artisans there. With the added bonus of the re-enactment troupes (particularly the Viking camp, which provided the pre-joust melee, and the gypsy dancers) the day rounded out to about four hours of stuff to see with zero boredom. All in all, folks, it was well worth the price of admission. I'll be watching for this one next year when it returns. Note: Re: Pic # 2 Yup that's James in about 20 lbs of chainmail and accessories.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Leaving Soon (from a theatre near you)

What is it with movie theatres these days? (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Galaxy.) I honestly didn’t expect to have a rant like this until I was well into my “old and crotchety” years but on this I feel I must speak out while I (and everyone else who’s even an occasional moviegoer) can still hear myself speak. This May long weekend, as a treat, I thought I’d take my eldest off to see the new “Iron Man” flick. Between the reviews, the trailers and both of us being like a “before and after” picture of geekdom it seemed like the perfect afternoon break for the pair of us, that is until the trailers started.

Now, I’m pretty sure most ad wizards out there get nervous when tasked with advertising an M. Night Shyamalan movie these days. Despite the man’s genius and genuine earnestness to tell a story he hasn’t had a decent hit since “the Sixth Sense”. But, for heaven’s sake, enough with the deafening base already. We get it. It’s scary. Boo. Now turn down the sound, you idle crow. Here’s tip #1 of today’s rant. Do you know why “The Sixth Sense” was a hit? It…was….quiet. Take it from a dad, nothing more nerve wracking to an adult movie audience than a pale little kid who only speaks in whispers. Screeching soundtracks, thundering base and quiet parts interrupted with high pitched screams are formulaic as advertising goes and done…to…death. Shyamalan, if you’re reading this, fire your advertising team. They’re not worth what you’re paying them.

As for the theatres themselves, really folks, use some common sense. If it’s an afternoon flick, chances are it’s going to be filled with those who’d prefer to keep their hearing intact. And don’t give me any argument about “But you feel like you’re really there!” Here’s tip #2, movie-boy, if I wanted to experience the A-stan, real or fictional, I’d be there. You’re not doing me any favours. In my past I’ve had an arty-round drop a little too close for comfort, thanks. I don’t care how much you crank the sound. It won’t compare and just ticks me off. Though the texture of the popcorn at the theatre and the dust I got to chew when the 105 shell dropped short do taste remarkably similar in texture and fake-buttery goodness. But I digress. In short, muffle it gentlemen. I’d like to keep my kid’s hearing intact for a few more years anyway.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Easter Memories: Confessions of a Veteran Bunny

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Personally, I link it to the trauma of the whole “going bunny” experience, well that and the new job and the half-crazed effort to get myself back into shape (ooohhh look, another blog topic). Either way, with most of my down time spoken for of late, I find myself increasingly taking from my own sleep period to accomplish the basics. Working out, maybe laundry, or if I’m really lucky, a page on the book. As such, blogging is limited to those brief periods only when I’m conscious enough to focus on the keys. Still, with a second Easter mission badge on my cap I’m starting to feel like a holiday veteran so without further ado I give you…

Easter: Confessions of a Veteran Bunny

I don’t know how it happened. I really don’t. How did I find myself leopard-crawling across the frozen surface of the snow with a bag of shiny eggs clutched in my teeth praying that the thin, sun-glazed crust on which I was suspended didn’t shatter to send me plummeting six feet deep into the snow beneath. Maybe it was when I volunteered to do the egg hunt for the second year in a row. Maybe it was when I realized that with Easter almost a full month early and a snow pack that outdid anything seen in the last third century I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to back out and disappoint the nieces, nephews and children of direct decent who counted on my efforts as being part of their quiver of “happy childhood memories” on which they will draw someday in the far future when their happy memories and pleasant childhood will be all that stands between them and that fifth gin and tonic. Who knows? What I did know was that there I was, uncle to four and father of two, working his way gingerly across the frozen wastes that during summer months masquerades as my brother’s front lawn to carefully place a single egg in the boughs of the old willow tree. Undignified you say? Hah! No more so that making your way on foot only to find yourself suddenly staring at your own boot at eye level while its mate along with the rest of your body plunges five feet into the drift beneath, a position that would look (and feel) undignified to even the stretchiest of die-hard, cirque-de-soleil performers.

So…crawling it is, then, gentlemen. On the one hand I was glad that there was no one of the two legged variety to witness my indignation on the other hand there was always the fear that I would end up like some sort of Easter-esque Oetzi, found frozen to death in a melting glacier mysteriously clutching a bag of eggs containing curious bits of folded paper on which cryptic geographically induced rhymes were neatly typed. The irony was not lost on me that 2000-or-so years earlier in Jerusalem, Christ, got a “get out grave free!” card. The rest of us poor sods have to dig ourselves out the old fashioned way. Hmmmpph. Daddy’s boy.

Ah well, at least all ended well. Within two hours I had successfully managed to place the eggs around the farm, the clues within all cleverly leading to the baskets and their carefully chosen and purchased contents specified to each child participating. A resounding success of effort that the kids blew through in about thirty minutes. Hah, Martha Stewart ain’t got nothing on me…except for not having to walk with a limp for a few days. It helps to have staff I guess. Still, in hindsight, a few pointers for the ones who get to wear the long ears in the household:

  1. Meet the new dog before coming onto family property. With all due respect to my brother’s bouvier-wolfhound cross “Fluffy” the last time you want to play the role of a rabbit (Easter or otherwise) is when you are letting yourself onto family property with nary a human for miles and the new dog checking you out as a potential chew toy. And here you are carrying bags upon bags of chocolate. Merde.

  2. It’s easy to let spending get out of control in the quest to get the “balance of the baskets” just right. Keep it simple and if you’re taking donations get the money up front. “But the kids had such a great time last year,” is nice and all but that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.

  3. Modify your hunt based on the children involved. The first year I did this the kids moved as a group. As a result the younger ones tended to get left behind as the older ones scrambled for the loot. This year I drafted two different hunts based on participant capabilities each with their own sets of clues. The key was they’d have to come back together to join their clues and solve the mystery of where the loot was stashed. Think of it as cross-country hangman. Just make sure you don’t lose them in the snowdrifts. Brightly coloured toques, folks, they’re not just fashion statements, more like hand-knitted flare guns.

    Well there you have it folks, a little bit of wisdom from a veteran bunny. Remember, if you’re destined to take up the ears, plan ahead. Until they find the body, or everyone converts to paganism, chances are this is going to be an annual event. Sigh.

Image - Easter Sunday, 2008

Welcome to the Tundra, We got ice and snow...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stand up...Hook up...Shuffle to the door...

Aaaaannnnnd jump! Well here I am two weeks into the new job and the sense of blind panic is only now slowly starting to ebb. As I mentioned in my previous post I've finally taken the leap from my previous employer of six and a half years and have officially moved from Crown Corporation to the Public Service (proper). And what a leap it was. But first a little perspective. My last job was literally a lifeboat. As jobs go it could often be as dry and chewy as last year's Styrofoam, but what made it livable was the benefits. Compressed work hours, pension, sick leave, a decent health and dental plan, when you've got a kid who's asthmatic you cling to these things and I swore I wouldn't leave unless I found something with a comparable package (hence the 6.5 years, folks). Anyway, so I finally find what I'm looking for and it's great. The people are excellent and the growth opportunities are light years ahead of where I was.
So why the fear and angst? Well, first is the running of the HR obstacle course, making sure that your benefits are set up and being told that many of them don't kick in for months. Whereas normally this wouldn't be a problem, with my son's asthma season fast closing coupled with every major HR database being down for end of year tally, it's a race to see what will kick in first, benefits or asthma attack. Coupled to this is the changeover in hours and saying goodbye to the compressed work week thus removing me from the volunteer pool at my son's school. Nothing says downer like telling your five year old that daddy won't be in class this week (or any other) to read stories. Personally, I think I'm having more separation anxiety than he is. Oh well, I suppose it's one of the things we have to get used to, letting go. Working moms do it all the time. I suppose I should be able to suck it up as well. I just have to warn myself that spending less time with my kids isn't going to become either a habit or a trend.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Heck, who needs sleep.

12:45 and all is welllll..... Lawdy, I must be out of my mind. Still, I've been promising myself I'd be posting any day now for too many "any days now". So, I'm back. Well, March reached the epitome of silly this year. Not only did I have a very wonderful and active March break with both the boys (as well as a wide assortment of parental units, etc -a big shout out to Jen, Cheryl and Alain and Shauna for that) but I also organized this year's Easter Egg hunt (you can bet there's going to be a post on that one) and switched my long standing job at the SCC (6.5 years) to a brand new (and shiny) Federal government posting. And yes, there will be a posting on that too. Add to that the record snowfall and the glacially slow recovery from the worst cold I've had in a decade and it's been an interesting month. But, here we are in April, so hopefully as things settle down with the new job I'll be able to post a little more regularly. In the meantime a few choice pics from last month:

Welcome to f*cking Narnia...

Yep, they're taller than me. Not only do I double as a landmark, I also make a handy height reference.

"I want to sit on the iceberg," "No, i want to sit on the iceberg."

"Boys...boys..we're surrounded by bloody great icebergs. Just pick one. Sigh...brothers."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

To Sleep. Perchance to Dream?

As a parent? Well, maybe. Personally I found that I became a much lighter sleeper once my son was in the room with me. Recently, a colleague of mine who is soon to be a father, asked about my feelings about co-sleeping with your baby. Actually, I'm a big fan of it. Mind you I think it depends on the parents. If the parents are heavy sleepers, drink a fair amount, take sleeping pills or are on heavy cold medication etc it's probably a bad idea. The basic rule is if the parents judgement or ability to react is impaired in any way the child should probably go into their own crib. Other than that co-sleeping allows you to react to your child's needs a lot faster, get them settled quicker, they sleep more securely and thus you sleep better.

For my youngest my solution was more of a hybrid one as I take up a lot of bed space. The crib was pushed up against the bed with the side only raised slightly for easy access for midnight, 2:00 am and 5:00 am feedings and there was a change station set up nearby so that if James was wet I ...(Yes, I, thank you. Chivalry isn't dead, it's just really, really tired.) Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I could change him relatively quickly. These days manufacturers seem to have caught on to this whole "Family together? Good!" idea that was making the rounds at the end of the last ice age. As such they've come up with things like the co-sleeper bassinet that keeps your kids within easy reach while alleviating the fear of accidently asphyxiating your child every time you go out for Mexican. Also, I can't stress this enough, making sure you have everything within easy reach for after light's out is of paramount importance. You don't want to be navigating a toy block slalom run in the dark at 2:00 am because you forgot to restock the diaper pile. Trust me on that one.

So, essentially if you want to have the best chance at enough sleep, cosleeping is definitely the way to go or at least some variation thereof. Every mammal does it. We seem to be the only one that has elements that still recommend against it. As for which side for sleeping, that's up to you but once the child is rolling, (or if you have a smaller bed) and you're not going with the crib or bassinet, squarely in the middle of the bed is probably better so the child doesn't find itself in freefall at 3:00 am.

Silence the Dragons....

I know this is a parenting blog and we'll get back to that in a moment, folks but I wanted to ask for a moment of silence for the fallen. Gary Gygax, the father of Dungeons and Dragons and the modern Role Playing Game passed away today. Details can be found on the link here:

Pax Eternus, Gary. And thank you for sparking the imagination of millions.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Holidays and Kids: Parental 'Mine' Clearance

Ok, the day after Valentine’s Day and I’m still on my feet. This is, in itself, remarkable not because Valentine’s Day was anything to write home about but because I am suffering from the quintessential worst cold of the season. Still, while stumbling out of Valentine’s day and seeing Easter looming ahead (early this year, folks, BTW) I figured now is probably a good time to go over some basic survival tips I’ve learned in my short time as a dad. So, without further ado let’s start laying down some bullets for range and accuracy shall we?

  • Keep your radar up: What this means is always be on the lookout for things that might go towards certain events, be they gifts, tableware, clothing, etc. especially when they’re on sale. If you see something in June that would look great on the table for next Easter or your daughter’s next birthday (and you have the cash) snag it. I guarantee you it won’t be there when you go looking for it later on.

  • Spare ammo: I always try and keep something in the closet (yeah, next to the skeletons and my old Mark IV Combat boots) for the kids. These things don’t have to be expensive (often between $5-10) in value but they do come in handy for any number of things (stocking stuffers, Easter baskets, sudden birthday parties, etc) I usually keep my eyes peeled for sales. At the end of the year anything I haven’t used goes to Toy Mountain (local kids Charity).

  • Avoid dissention in the ranks: For all those of you who had the strange urge to reproduce more than once (yes, I was afflicted with it too-at least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it) it can be easier to shop for one kid and not the other. Sometimes their likes match yours better, maybe it’s due to age, or gender, regardless, practice egalitarianism. You don’t want it to be Christmas day and have the piles beneath the tree significantly unequal.

  • No inspection ready unit ever passed combat: If you’re crazy enough to try the “formal event route” and by that I mean Church, formal dinners etc. plan accordingly. Make sure the clothing your kids wear doesn’t itch. Test it first. If you find it scratchy, chances are it will drive them mad and you’ll be stuck next to a smaller version of yourself break dancing in the seat next to you all night.

  • No combat ready unit ever passed inspection: Again with the “formal”. Pack accordingly. Snacks, toys, mp3 players loaded with their favourite music, pajamas if it’s going to be a late night. It ain’t rocket science folks.

  • The Aftermath (Who’s in Charge Here?!): Once the debris and the wrapping has cleared now is the time to get in there with your kids. Why? ‘Cause the unwrapping/egg hunt/party games etc. are over and for a kid it’s just become like the Mad Max movies. There’s a scarcity of resources and everyone wants to see what the other guy’s got. They’re going to need a peacekeeper and they’re going to need help with all the “some assembly required” gifts. Look at it this way. The sooner you get those GD things built the more there are to go around to distract them until dinner time.

  • Eject: This one’s on an 'as needed' basis where I come from. Why? 'Cause I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario where the local weather/insects will happily try and kill you ¾’s of the year. Still, if necessary, don’t underestimate the allure of tobogganing to the vertically challenged. I also try and keep a bevy of water pistols handy for the summer months. At the very least it’s a great way to vent your frustrations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vaccines? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Vaccines.

Actually, we do. This particular debate was driven home rather forcefully of late when James (my youngest) came home with a series of scabby spots all over him. Uh oh. Looks like the Chicken Pox, says…well…everyone. However, three years ago his mother and I shelled out for the Chicken Pox Vaccine. So…WTF? Granted, it was a mild case, 23 spots in all, but it still caused us to quiz the doctor who shrugged and told us that 20% of recipients are immune to the vaccine and poor James just happened to be one of them. Of course, upon hearing the news everyone within earshot of the situations pulled pin and lobbed their opinions at us; a full spectrum of, “Vaccines are necessary,” to “See, vaccines don’t do anything,” right down to “They’re evil, I tell ya!. Eeeeviiillll!”

So, what’s a dad to do? Simple, trust in logic. Try and block out those helpful individuals who always seem to “know a guy who knows a guy who had a kid who…” That’s hardly scientific evidence. Also try and avoid the new age group who sneers at medical procedures that have been practiced for centuries and have raised life expectancy to unprecedented highs. Most vaccines these days aren’t given as accessories. These things are deemed necessary for a reason. You want your kid to go to school? Vaccinate. Daycare? Vaccinate. Community programs? Same goes. Sure these things might not work for some individuals. My son was certainly one of them and, whereas I was irked, I still understand why these things were created in the first place. Most vaccines given under the age of three were designed not just to help the individual but also to help the population at large. In event of an outbreak it helps to have vast segments of your population who might be immune, not just for their own benefit but also for those who might not be immune who live in proximity. The logic goes something like this. If people in town (a) are infected and not vaccinated and people in town (b) are vaccinated then there ‘s a good chance that might block the spread of said virus to town (c) who might also not be vaccinated. In short, more of your population has a better chance of living longer. Ah well, that’s my rant for today. I should probably cut things short with it being Valentines Day and all.

Oh, on a side note, “Enough with the snow already!” Some of these drifts are getting taller than I am. Another Valentines day in the trenches…..sigh.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Post-Christmas Mortem

Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.


Well that was an experience. What did we learn once the last of the turkey was eaten and the last"ho" finally fell silent? Well, let's recap shall we?

  • It's possible to overplan. I'd been doing my shopping since July. Why? I didn't want to be one of those parents who shops for their kids at the last minute when the shelves are bare. Did the boys get what they wanted? Hell, yeah. The problem? Somehow I forgot to turn off the "shop" function on my brain's desktop. My wallet's still screaming;

  • I hate wrapping;

  • Even if you think you have things together take the week before Christmas off. Why? Things will invariably NOT be that together. Also, (and this is an important one), if you're the last guy at the office for the season it means that everyone (and I mean everyone) above you on the food chain will leave their work on your desk to be done before you go. Trust me. On the first day of Christmas...flee. "First in, last out," works for the Paras. It doesn't do jack for the office environment;

  • Ottawa weather comes in a wide variety of "suck". Rain. Snow. Cold. Rain and snow with cold. Forget the canary in the coal mine. You know something's up when your Christmas tree is flash frozen;

  • R2D2 prefers women. Well heck, who doesn't? However, what I am referring to is the Hasbro interactive droid variety. Tons of fun for the family. (Seriously). However, apparently he doesn't do deep and booming voices. I dunno, maybe too many flashbacks regarding sithlords. Jen can make him dance (literally) and the boys had a great time playing hide-and-seek with him in the dark (he's got IR capabilities. He just can't do stairs). But you think he'll fetch me a drink? Hah. Speaking of which;

  • Mulled Wine helps. A huge shout out to Chris and kin in Geneva for making this one a possibility. One of the highpoints of the season was making a batch or two of "Vin Chaud" with Little Penguin Shiraz. Yum;

  • Clenched jaws invariably lead to grinding teeth which invariably lead to emergency dentist visits and long bouts of oral agony.

Still, I shouldn’t kvetch too loudly now that my teeth are nearly healed. Christmas itself was a success. The family had a great time. They boys had a blast and for a time at least there was peace at least on this small speck of the Earth and good will to man, woman, child and droid alike. Ah well. Whatever doesn't kill you, right? Anyway, I hear Easter's coming early this year.

Break out the body armour.


Gah! Where did the month go?!

So here I am at the end of January wondering where the month went. Wow. And here I thought Christmas had been a handful. Yikes. Still, just wanted to let folks know that I was still alive and kicking. However, between being buried under a ton of work, sick kids, sick me and court marshalling the Christmas tree things have been rather packed of late. But don't worry. We're all still here and you can look forward to many new posts in the near future including:
  • Post Christmas post mortem;
  • Vaccines? We don't need no stinkin' vaccines;
  • Holidays and Kids: Parental 'Mine' Clearance.