Here's a fun fact that gets less fun the more you think about it. Last night, I attended the very first concert at Budweiser Stage. That's pretty cool until you realize it's the same ol' amphitheatre you've been to dozens of time with fresh paint and a new name.
I was there with my oldest daughter to see Chance the Rapper. The last time I took her to a show, it was Selena Gomez, and the crowd was so young there were plenty of parental units in the crowd. This time, it was 99% high school and university students and I was the unicorn. For fun, we tried to find another person on the lawns who looked like they were over the age of 30. We struck out.
My oldest two kids have been playing Chance the Rapper around the house for years, but it wasn't until last night that I realized how many of his songs I knew. It was fantastic with the most positive vibe I've ever experienced at a concert. When the skies really opened up around 10:45pm and the lightning became more frequent we were played out with Blessings 2 and Michelle and I bolted for the bikes.
As we biked west on an empty Martin Goodman Trail, soaking wet and full of song, it was the absolute best feeling. What an amazing night.
My daughter is a typical teenager, only she doesn't turn thirteen for another three months. She had been urging me to watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix because she wanted to talk about it. I had my marching orders, so I dove in.
Initially, I treated the task as if it were homework. There are thirteen episodes, each about an hour, so this was going to take some time. I only really have two or three hours a night for television, depending on the night, and I wasn't going to miss a Maple Leaf or Raptors playoff game. So my wife and I started watching an episode or two a night, a significant time investment.
13 Reasons Why was not written and produced for guys in their forties, so it was tough sledding at first. It employs this trick I hate where something happens and then it's revealed the character was just imagining it. I didn't like it when I saw it on The Sopranos and I don't like it when they do it on 13 Reasons Why. I never disliked the show, but I'm not certain I liked it. But it was homework, so I soldiered on.
Then, almost by surprise, I found myself invested in the characters. It got heavier and heavier and by episode nine I was completely hooked. There was no longer any doubt. I was enjoying this show and looking forward to each episode.
------> Spoilers below <------
Last week, I had CBC's Here and Now on while I worked. Someone from the school board was on talking about concerns they had about how this series treated suicide. Remember, the only reason I invested 13 hours in this program is because my 12.75 year old daughter watched the series and asked me to do the same so we could talk about it. I have four children, which actually gives me four reasons to watch. Here are my thoughts on this recent controversy...
Suicide is not glorified in any way. In fact, you not only see a promising young life cut short but you see the many people who suffer in the wake. Initially I thought the counsellor at the school was being blamed unfairly, but upon further reflection, I think it's a great catalyst for conversation.
And that's precisely what I love about this series. It's thirteen tremendous catalysts for conversations between parents and our children. My oldest daughter and I have been conversing about Hannah's suicide and her cassette tapes all week, and there's more discussions to be had.
It's this conversation that's so important. It's not whether Hannah was being vindictive or putting unfair blame on the school counsellor, it's about communication and knowing when to ask for help and how to spot someone in trouble. It gets heavy, as does life. Being a teenager can be awfully shitty and sometimes we forget that.
My homework assignment morphed into a thought provoking bonding experience between me and my daughter. That's as rewarding as television gets.
You don't normally consider your local billiard hall when thinking about brunch, but I was intrigued by the Sunday morning bluegrass brunch I saw promoted at NTB Lakeshore. NTB Lakeshore is on Lake Shore between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
A live band played cool bluegrass music while we enjoyed all-you-can-eat bacon, eggs, sausage, french toast, hashbrowns and fruit salad. I couldn't afford to do this every week with a family of six (even though the baby didn't partake), but it was very cool.
NTB calls itself Toronto's best kept secret, and it might just be. We were one of three groups there this morning. I recommend checking this out while you can.
The bluegrass brunch is every Sunday at 10am, and despite the monkey giving you the finger, it's definitely kid-friendly.
A typical "road trip" for me is a long drive to a campsite or cottage where we'd stay for a few days before returning home. This summer, we decided to do something different.
GM Canada kindly lent me a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse so I could go on an east coast adventure with the entire family. That includes a baby, a toddler, a pre-teen and a teenager. All accomodations were booked in advance via Airbnb. When I left home a couple of Sunday mornings ago, I had no clue how it would all unfold.
It couldn't have gone better. The Traverse was perfect, providing enough space for all six of us and the necessary gear when you travel with youngins. We needed a stroller, play pen and cot, for example.
I did all the driving on this trip, which totalled 5837.5 km. The Traverse was comfortable and smooth, and the Sirius XM was fully utilized. I don't think I've driven 5837.5 km the past four years combined.
Here are the locations we spent the night in Airbnb rentals that could accomodate the six of us. I'm listing them in order. We stayed in each location one night, except Cavendish and Halifax, where we spent two nights each. The final spot was my wife's cousin's house, so it didn't cost me a cent.
- Montreal, Quebec
- Mont-Joli, Quebec
- Moncton, New Brunswick
- Cavendish, PEI
- Port Hood, Nova Scotia
- Ingonish, Nova Scotia
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Fredericton, New Brunswick
- Quebec City, Quebec
- Gatineau, Quebec
Along the way there were trips to Chaudière Falls, the Cape George Point Lighthouse, Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, Charlottetown, Cavendish Campground in Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada, the Skyline Trail at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg and the prettiest drive I've ever enjoyed, along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.
In a span of two weeks, we visited five provincial capitals, enjoyed Cow's Ice Cream, plenty of seafood, and Schwartz's Deli, and all four kids were amazing. That was the most pleasant surprise of all. I watched my oldest bond with his little brother and everyone get along in the tightest of quarters for 5837.5 km. I'm so glad we took this trip.
Best of all, I have a new appreciation for our eastern provinces (with apologies to Newfoundland and Labrador which I simply didn't have time to experience). Previously, I had never been east of Quebec City. I've now seen first hand the natural beauty down east, the beautiful architecture and the nicest people on the planet and return home with tremendous memories that will last a lifetime.
I'm a very lucky guy. I have four amazing children. My youngest, who is now four months old, is also going to be my last.
The next time I'm caring for a child this size, I'll be a grandfather, so I'm really trying to soak this in. Every day I'm blown away by just how adorable everything is at this stage. Sometimes, the cuteness is almost too much to bear.
When she's not sleeping or eating, she's smiling and cooing. That's her day: sleep, eat, smile and coo.
This is my fourth time enjoying this phase, but memories are a funny thing. I really only think of my kids as the age they are now. Currently, that means I'm an expert in raising a teenager, pre-teen, toddler and baby.
Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Like I said, I'm lucky.
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