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.
With great interest I read this CBC article about the fact many Canadians diagnosed with asthma don't in fact have it. This was my experience with my firstborn.
Weeks before his second birthday, my oldest ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. I spent five nights sleeping on that cot while we watched old VHS tapes of Sponge Bob Squarepants. During this stay, an asthma specialist at St. Joseph's Health Center diagnosed my son with asthma and prescribed two inhalers. One of these inhalers was to be taken by my son every morning, so we started him getting used to this new ritual.
Coincidentally, and sadly, his pediatrician at this time died suddenly from an aggressive form of cancer. We switched him to a new pediatrician and I'll never forget the convo I had with him, only a few months after James's asthma diagnosis.
Doc: He only had pneumonia the once?
Doc: And there's no other difficulty breathing?
Doc: And the doctor diagnosed him with asthma and prescribed this puffer to be taken daily?
Doc: He doesn't have asthma (proceeds to throw inhaler in garbage). He doesn't need this treatment.
This was about 12 years ago, and there hasn't been a symptom of asthma since. The doc who made the original diagnosis was well regarded in his field but time has proven him wrong. I'm not at all surprised to read about studies like this Dutch one. More than 600 children diagnosed as having asthma were examined and it was found nearly 54 per cent likely did not have it.
I am not a doctor, but if your child has been diagnosed with asthma, you may want to get a second opinion. And then, if it's all tied up, a third opinion. Inhalers have negative side-effects. You don't want your kid taking one every day if they don't have to.
On Tuesday night, my oldest won his house league's hockey championship. I enjoyed every second of it from the lonely end of the rink.
This morning, a package arrive for my youngest and it included this little doll. I thought I'd snap a pic.
My oldest son went into daycare when he turned one. His mother's parental leave ended, and she went back to work. James started daycare, and I still remember the day I was told how much it costs to put a 12 month old in daycare in this city.
It cost so much, when my oldest daughter was born, it didn't make financial sense to put her in daycare at one. That would mean two kids in daycare, and we'd be poorer than if their mother quit her job and stayed home. That's exactly what we did.
I'm experiencing the exact same scenario a decade later. My youngest son has been in daycare since he turned one and his mother went back to work. My wife is now on parental leave with our newborn, but in exactly eleven months, that will end.
The Star has an article today on the proposed provincial changes to age groupings, staff-child ratios and group sizes. The end result will be fewer spaces and higher fees.
If you put your kid in daycare at 12 months, it's about $1800 a month until they turn 18 months. Then, the price plummets to a mere $1200. So with the current fee structure, it will cost us $3000 a month when my wife's parental leave expires.
The costs are already crippling, yet we're looking at increases of 20-40%. There has to be a better system.
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