Recent Posts

Stop steaming your potatoes and bake them

Stop steaming your potatoes and bake them

I’d been doing it wrong for my entire life. Wrapping a potato in tin foil and sticking it in the oven or on a BBQ is more like steaming your potatoes than baking them. If you want the best baked potato ever, try this: 1. […]

Five easy ways to teach kids about money

Five easy ways to teach kids about money

We all want our kids to be financially literate and to appreciate that money doesn’t grow on trees. Problem is, we often act in ways that do not reinforce that value set. I came across this helpful little audio interview with Jonathan Clements, director of […]

Why ear cuffs are better than earrings for my boy

Why ear cuffs are better than earrings for my boy

A few months back, I wrote about the great earring debate in our home. My son wanted to get his ears pierced and we were trying to figure out how to handle this request from a not quite 10 year old.

Enter the ear cuff.

It’s stylish and has many advantages over the earring, chiefly that there is no piercing involved. Simply slide the cuff over your ear and into place and you are hip.

My son loves his new ear cuff. He can put it on and take it off whenever he wants, just like the ring he wears on his finger.

Not coincidentally, these are the same reasons that I loved my ear cuff when I had one in my twenties. Except mine had a little amethyst crystal dangling from it. (Sorry, no pictures can be found.)

Piercing didn’t work for me. I tried it, but the piercing got infected and so I abandoned it. Whenever I wanted to look a bit more bohemian, I’d slip on the cuff and let my flowing locks hang down.

Those were the days – the heady, late 80s.

Who knew there’d be a parenting trick hidden in there.

My boy wants an earring and I don’t want to say no

My boy wants an earring and I don’t want to say no

We had the boys and earrings conversation today and I’m a bit unsure of how to proceed. My boy is 9 and a half and has developed a personality that likes to “stand out from the crowd”, as he puts it. As part of this […]

Cord blood storage answers a question you never want to be asked as a parent

Cord blood storage answers a question you never want to be asked as a parent

It wasn’t easy for us to get pregnant. We’d succeeded once, then lost it. We continued trying, but it just wasn’t happening. So we sought help and, through a progressive series of interventions, we succeeded. Sitting in the darkened examination room, the ultrasound technician moved […]

Reinventing the birds and the bees

Reinventing the birds and the bees

I never did understand the term “birds and the bees“.

I mean, I know what it idiomatically refers to. I’ve just never understood what birds and bees had to do with explaining sexuality to kids. As if kids already understand the reproductive biology of other species in nature and this is going to help them understand human reproduction?

As I’ve mentioned in another post, our family has developed a love for the show Modern Family. And this show has prompted some interesting question from our nine year olds.

In a recent episode, Phil finds a couple of boxes of condoms in his daughter’s bags as she’s heading off to college. My nine year old son jumped on it.

“Dad, what’s a condom?”

“I’ll tell you after the show,” I said.

“That’s exactly what mom said when I asked her.” They had watched the same episode with my wife the previous night.

Fast forward a few days and some other mention of condoms triggers the same question. I pause, gathering my thoughts and plotting a strategy, before answering.

“Let’s start at the beginning,” I say. “Do you know how babies are made?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“The man has a seed and the woman has an egg.” Impressive, I think to myself.

“Do you know where the seed is?” I ask.

He points embarrassingly to the general area of his genitals and giggles appropriately.

“So, how does the seed get to the egg?” I probe. Here comes the punchline.

“Surgery?”

Clearly, we had some basics to review.

I began to explain where a penis needs to be placed in order to deliver the seeds, but could barely finish amid howls of embarrassment and feigned disgust.

“And so a condom goes over a penis to stop the seeds from coming out,” I concluded. “And to prevent disease…” I hastened to add, quickly trying to decide whether I wanted to head into the worm hole of sexual health or stick to the basics of biology first.

But that was the end of the conversation.

He’d gotten his answer and clearly wasn’t going to be having any more of this conversation. For now, anyway.

But there’s lots more to cover.

Road trip: Tips for making lifetime memories

Road trip: Tips for making lifetime memories

People looked at me like I was nuts when I told them what we were doing for our summer vacation. “Driving from Toronto back to Edmonton. Just me and my twin 9 year olds in the back seat.” As crazy as it may sound, it […]

3 ways my mom taught me how to be a dad

3 ways my mom taught me how to be a dad

Today is June 14. It’s a date that will always be special to me because it was my mom’s birthday. She would have been 72 today. Though she left us in body only 3 years ago, she was abandoned by her mind several years before […]

Never stop doing what you love

Never stop doing what you love

I write, but I am not a writer.

That’s what I’ve always told myself anyway.

The difference to me is this: a writer writes as an end in itself, striving to craft the best prose he can.

But, that’s not what I do. I write to communicate a thought or an emotion or some information. I strive to create clear prose that is an accurate representation of what I think. Or, at least, what I suppose I think. Sometimes, I write in order to figure out what I think. There’s nothing like choosing words to make you to choose sides.

I write for the same reasons that I (used to) play guitar. It’s a therapeutic process for me. Singing a favourite song to the best of my ability just makes me feel good. Do I sound as good as it makes me feel? Does my prose read well? Who knows and who cares. I’m not writing to impress you as much as I am writing to impress myself.

My dad has recently started playing music again. He’s 70ish. As a young man, he played trumpet in school bands and love it. Somewhere along the way, he stopped. Life changed and got busier and he left playing music behind. Now, he seriously wonders: why did I stop? Why did I give up a passion from which I took so much joy?

Perhaps I’ll ask the same about playing guitar one day, or writing? Why did I stop? Just saying you don’t have the time isn’t much of a reason, now is it?

When I was a young kid, I loved riding my bike. I used to ride for hours and explore my neighbourhood and the ones around me. Then, for reasons that are not clear, I abandoned riding my bike in high-school student. One day in my 20s, my brother invited me to ride with him. He wanted to go some distance, maybe 80 or 100 km outside the city. I hadn’t ridden at that point for maybe a decade or more, but I agreed. That very bike trip turned on the cyclist in me for the next 20 years.

I love riding my bike today.

Never stop doing what you love.

Primary parenting dads take a lot of crap (and I’m not talking about diapers)

Increasingly, dads are choosing to play a primary parenting role in the lives of their kids and families. And they’re doing it for a variety of reasons: emotional, cultural and economic. But don’t for a minute think that society’s attitude to what has traditionally been […]