Family Day Trips

A spontaneous way to get away

Family Day Trips

Saturday mornings usually start one of two ways: a gentle kiss on the cheek accompanied by two smiling faces hovering over mine, or violent shaking accompanied by two tiny, impatient, chattering faces hovering over mine. Either way, I'm up! We let mommy sleep as long as we can (usually while we make pancakes) and eagerly await her sunny face peeking around the corner to join us. That's when some of the best Saturdays take shape. When my wife wakes up, she often does so with an inspired idea for a day trip.

Living on the east side of the Center of the Universe (a.k.a. Toronto), these impromptu day trips often land us at the Toronto Zoo.
The Toronto Zoo is one of our favourites. I love the '70s vibe you get from some of the older buildings — it was built in 1974, after all. There's plenty of walking from exhibit to exhibit to wear down the kids for a good night's sleep, but also plenty of small spots to sit and relax. During the summer we always build in a stop at the Kid's Zoo section for a stint on the extensive splash pad and a dig in the huge sand box.
A successful Toronto Zoo trip is made when you take ample supplies for the troops. We like taking a wagon (thank goodness for a vehicle with storage space!) which holds our sandwiches, drinks and snacks at the start of the day, and our worn out peeps by the end of the day.
No matter what, don't forget the camera!
Other times, Mommy's inspiration takes us into nature for a fun adventure. Places like the Seaton Trail!
Seaton Trail Map
The Seaton hiking trail is located in Pickering, where we live. It runs along West Duffins Creek, and can be accessed by car in four different spots (see map above).
I love our trips to the Seaton hiking trail. I'm happily married to a nature lover who has spent enough time outdoors as a Girl Guide and with her equally adventurous parents to know just the right time to find things like fiddleheads, which we pick and eat for dinner the night after we hike. While hiking, we also stumble upon such sights as fly fisherman, waterfalls, and eventually/inevitably ice cream.
There are amazing places like these everywhere, and they’re so worthy of an easy day trip with the family. Why not make a plan this Saturday to find one and let me know what amazing places you've found on Twitter? Be sure to use the tag #1daygetaway.

Father's Day: My Parenting New Year's Eve

Making this greeting card holiday my own

Father's Day: My Parenting New Year's Eve

This is the first time I've ever written on the subject of Father's Day. It's not a day I really look forward to. I mostly think of it as a chance to sell greeting cards. My kids and my wife tend to spoil me, which I like, but despite their efforts, I feel odd about this day. Guilty, even.

That's not to say I don't think that I'm a good dad. I take pride in being a dad, and doing "dad" things. Going to the park. Engaging them in cooking and baking. Teaching my kids about the stuff I know, and learning about the stuff I don't. On the tough behaviour issues, I try my best to hold the line with Alexandria. Sometimes we win, and sometimes we relent, but we always finish with hugs. I am the fixer of broken toys and the assembler of new ones. The IT department. The long-haul trucker. The morning shift. But mostly, for 50+ hours a week, I'm out of the house to work and bring home money.  By far, that's my biggest contribution. As far as being a dad goes, going to work is not skilled labour. It doesn't make you great. It doesn't make you worthy of a whole day.

It feels impossible to be a dad worthy of a whole day while spending so much time away. So I'm left on Father's Day wondering what kind of dad I could be if I only had more time, and I'm reminded that I need to do more with the time I do have.

Mostly, I don't want to have regrets.

So, as I shake off this funk, I think I'll make this Father's Day the New Year's Eve of parenting for me. I'll celebrate the last year's highlights, smile about the amazing children I've been blessed with, and be thankful for the love and support of my partner in parenting. When I wake up tomorrow, I'll look forward to the new year. I'm even going to make resolutions. I've already started my list:

  • Engage each of my kids one-on-one every day
  • Nurture their existing talents and explore new ones
  • Earn their respect through actions and deeds

This is going to be be a great year. I can feel it.


Love At First Sight: Nest Learning Thermostat (with Video)

Free a dad in your life from his constant monitoring of the temperature of his domain

Love At First Sight: Nest Learning Thermostat (with Video)

In addition to the awesome list of great dad gifts YMC's staff has already put together—AppleTV—got it, Nespresso Pixie—need it. I'd like to add a new one: The Nest Learning Thermostat.

Fact: I can instantly detect the smallest change in my home's temperature.

Also a Fact: I am bound by the dad-code to exert absolute control over said temperature.

Now if only someone would give me the Nest Learning Thermostat, I would be free from this biologically-imposed burden to explore new things and/or follow my dreams. This is the best looking, fullest-featured, money-savingest thermostat I have ever laid eyes on.  I can justify its purchase on so many levels. Financial. Ecological. Esthetic.

Make no mistake. It will be mine.

Watch the video below to see it in action for yourself.

AM I RIGHT? Is that not so cool (or hot, depending on the time of day and according to the electric company's peak-rate schedule)? I bet you never thought you could love a thermostat.

For the record, I don't own one, I haven't been sent one, and I don't get a single penny for saying any of the above.  It's just a thing I gotsta have.