My Likes And Dislikes Of My New York City Trip

2015-04-12_181558

It has been a few days since I returned from an amazing trip to New York City. I was there on a media trip to cover an event put on by Swiffer.

But for the most part, my time in The Big Apple was free time. That meant sight seeing, eating, walking, experiencing and having a blast. I did as much as possible for one guy to do in the time I had. I walked over 50 kms while I was there. I went as high as Central Park, as low as Ground Zero and hit the water on the east and west side.

Being on foot in a city like New York is a must. It allows you to get your bearings. It gives you a real sense of where everything is located. I had little problem figuring out the streets and where I was going. I admit I used my Google Maps a few times, but for the most part, I did a great job of just figuring it out on my own. Plus it is always fun just to explore without a destination.

I saw a lot of cool things. I witnessed New Yorkers doing their thing. I had to deal with some very annoying trends.

Here are five things I liked and disliked about my first time in New York City.

New York Likes

  1. Stoops. It was one of the first things I noticed as I was driven to my hotel. The stoops that are so common in TV shows and movies. Rows and rows of Brownstones, each with a stoop that I could picture myself sitting on in the summer.
  2. The Energy. No matter where you went, it was electric. The pace was fast, people had a purpose and it was fun to join the masses. I am a fast walker, so I fit right in.
  3. Central Park. I have always bragged about how much I love High Park in Toronto. But walking into Central Park was like nothing I have ever seen. Surrounded by the city on all sides, but sitting in a relaxed green space was quite special. I can’t wait to take the boys there one day.
  4. The bridges. Flying in, it was so cool to see all the bridges. I miss Halifax for this reason. The Brooklyn Bridge looks as cool as it does on TV. It was also a bonus to go over one on the car ride back to the airport.
  5. Pizza. It was my mission to have some classic New York pizza. I had two amazing slices on my last day. The crust was perfect, the sauce was clearly homemade and the atmosphere in the pizza shop was everything I dreamed it would be.

New York Dislikes

  1. Selfie Sticks. Can we rid the planet of these things now? I was blown away by how many people were waving these things around. They were sold of street corners. They were close to hitting people at major landmarks, they are destined to fill Value Village for years to come.
  2. Extra Height. I went up the Empire State Building. I paid to hit the 86th floor like everyone else. But I fell for the extra cost of going to the 120th floor. It was not worth it for photographs as you are enclosed with dirty glass. Save the 20 bucks.
  3. My Hotel. It was in a great location, but it was not my thing. The Ace Hotel catered to young and hip kids, mostly dudes. It was a hipster, male dorm with free wi-fi and way too many groomed beards. The bed was short, the shower was tiny and there was zero natural light.
  4. Data shortage. I got killed on my data even though I was using #RoamLikeHome from Rogers. Not your fault New York, but it was a definite dislike.
  5. My Stomach. It was not big enough. I want to go back with the metabolism I had at 18. Too many times I got full and had to tap out. I had some amazing BBQ, burgers, fried chicken, fancy food and pizza. I still feel full.

Photo Gallery

Escape To New York

nyc-subway

Unlike Kurt Russell, I was escaping to New York. A little break from the daily grind of parenting. After three days it was time to escape back. I had to. I had to get back to my family after 72 hours in the greatest city in the world. I can say that now, since I have had a taste.

New York City was everything I thought it would be. The sites, the sounds, the smells and the tastes. I can’t believe I got to go on my own and do what I wanted, when I wanted. I will forever remember it.

There will be more detailed stories and posts to come but I wanted to start the train even though I am very tired, very full and trying to get back into routine.

Seeing the boys this morning despite one covered with marker and the other covered in snot, was the best. They were happy to see me, but not overjoyed. I liked that. I liked that I can go away and they live on. I know they missed me. I missed them. But it makes it so much easier when not being present does not alter moods.

I also got to see my partner in crime. Seeing my wife up late, looking like she had gone 12 rounds, was the perfect end to my three days of travelling. Her support and help after all, made it possible for me to go. She wins this, although I did not actually buy it for her.

oscar

I am looking through photos, sending messages to those I met and reliving it all in my head. New York is so alive. So many different people. It made Toronto seem small. Even walking the boys to school today, everything felt slow. Like the city was dragging. Then I realized nothing had changed. I was just used to the hyper-speed of NYC.

My belly and legs are recovering. According to my phone I walked around 50 kms in NYC.

My feet took me to Ground Zero, up the Empire State Building, down Bleecker Street, up Madison Ave and all over Central Park. By the time I was done, I knew my way around.

I tried the best BBQ, the best pizza and the best hot dogs.

I heard drivers yell at pedestrians and pedestrians shame drivers stuck in intersections. New Yorkers don’t put up with shit. They will walk over you if you are trying to email and stroll at the same time.

I saw more selfie sticks than I needed to and more British people bitching about the number of Starbucks.

It was a trip for the ages. I can’t wait to go back with the family.

So stay tuned for more stories, for details on why I was there in the first place and of course more photos.

I did not even go into how “hipster” my hotel was. Roncesvalles, you have a long way to go.

See You In Hell Snow Pants

snowpants

Yes that’s right, I am ready to banish snow pants to the back of the closet. Everyone is tired of them. Our oldest asks first thing if he even has to take them to school still. It is officially spring and since there is no snow left on the ground (sorry Halifax), I am a firm believer that it means it is time for just pants.

It’s good timing. Harry’s snow pants look like an extra from the Walking Dead. Dirty, ripped and smelly. They have seen some good times, but for now, to the back of the closet until next winter when we realize they were not worth keeping in the first place.

Charlie’s snow pants? Well they are in much better shape. He hates them as well. His face always says, get me out of these ridiculous pants.

It’s funny how snow pants are a symbol of what winter is to kids. When the snow starts to fall in November, it is an exciting time. They can’t wait to bundle up and play outdoors. But by March, like the snow, they never want to see their snow pants, mitts, hats, scarfs and giant coats ever again. Such is life in Canada I guess.

The bad news in all of this? It now switches to rain gear. Coats, boots, umbrellas and splash pants. Firing up the dryer each night to make sure the kids can wear it all again tomorrow.

When it all comes down to it, I do prefer snow to rain and mud. But rain and mud mean warmer and sunnier days ahead. I guess that makes it easy to put up with muddy footprints everywhere.

So, see you in hell snow pants. We will meet again soon I am sure.

Other stuff

  • Started watching Archer since my friend Kevin won’t stop going on about it. Pretty funny.
  • Discovered Harry likes meatballs, but only if they are small.
  • Charlie can now fully undress himself. It’s not fast, but he does it.
  • Charlie’s school is very impressed with his knowledge of colours at such a young age.
  • The Big Green Egg will meet up with a ham this weekend.
  • Not truly into this season of Survivor yet.
  • Everyone sat and had dinner together last night. It was nice. Maybe pancakes forever?
  • The sun will come out tomorrow?
  • Thinking of making a list, ranking my favourite TV shows of all time. Sounds like a project.
  • The Toronto Raptors have moved back to frustrating the hell out of me.

 

20 Phases That Boys Go Through

phases-the-boys-powerangers

Being a dad to two boys is still a work in progress, but after almost six years of parenting, there are definitely some similarities to our boys.

For the most part, they follow the same path in terms of what they love and what they hate. Each phase can come at a different age and time of the year, but the topic is the same.

Based on talking to other parents who have young boys, they also confirm that the phases their boys go through have been very similar.

Hell, many of these phases, I went through myself over 30 years ago. Some things never change I guess.

Here are 20 phases that boys go through that never seem to change.

1. The Sesame Street phase – Our youngest is deep in this phase as we speak. He loves Sesame or “cookie” as he calls it. Sesame Street is timeless. It is an educational show that we have no problem letting our boys binge watch. I was pretty happy to find 30 minute versions on Netflix. They are easy to fit in before school or before dinner when everyone just needs some time to do what they need to do.

2. I hate food phase – This phase can be a little longer than some and also come back just when you thought it was gone. Both our boys starting out as little machines that ate anything that was put in front of them. But eventually, they got with the program of their peers and turned into “I only eat battered food” soldiers. Partly why I am filing this under a phase is I am being optimistic that it ends.

3. Being an animal phase – We encourage imagination as much as possible, but you don’t have to do much for your kids wanting to be animals. Our oldest went through a stage of being a cat. He was a cat for Halloween and likes to lay on the couch like a cat sometimes. Other animals we have experienced include a monkey, a hawk and a frog.

View this post on Instagram

Seems like it was a hip hop halloween.

A post shared by Like A Dad (@likeadad) on

4. I only like to wear one type of clothes phase – Our oldest in is this phase. He only likes to wear “cool pants”, which basically consist of track pants. My parents will remember that for me, this phase lasted years and I was much older. Every day I tell Harry his clothes are out for him and every day he asks if I gave him cool pants. Sadly some days you just have to wear slacks.

5. The Thomas phase – Genius creation for a life long source of income. Kids have been loving all things Thomas for so long, I am amazed it’s still going strong. Our oldest certainly was into busting his buffers more than our youngest, but that probably as a lot to do with wanting to be into what big brother is into. It also helps that we have the toys already from our first trip down the train tracks. Netflix is keeping this phase alive much longer than it is needed in my opinion. That Gordon is an ass hat.

6. The Superhero Phase – Love the superhero phase. It is like reliving my youth. Plus the stuff these day is way cooler and way easier to access. You name your flavour and it’s everywhere. When I was little you were forced to really love Superman, Batman or Spiderman. Now kids can branch out to the most obscure hero there is. The Justice League is great for giving attention to the fringe heroes. Our boys though are still mostly into Batman and Superman.

7. The Lego phase – Again, I was thrilled when our boys hit the Lego loving stage. I got my stash as a kid and gave it to them to go crazy with. They spend so much time building the craziest pieces of art. Lego is phase that has never died for me and I hope it is the same for the boys. Again, I never had access to all these modern day kids. Building so many cool trucks, cars, ships and more is a great bonus to having kids.

8. The Star Wars phase – It’s like boys were born with a chip in their head that helped them learn about Star Wars before they knew it was a real thing. Before ever seeing the movie, our oldest knew all the characters and who was good or evil. Lego has a lot to do with that for sure, but it’s like he just knew it, like he knew how to one day walk. Again, it is such a treat to get to live the Star Wars thing all over again with the boys. I also find cool that the movie still holds water after close to 40 years. Must be the force.

9. The Dinosaur phase – This might have been my favourite phase as a kid. Dinosaurs are pretty much the coolest thing and T-Rex was their Don Draper. We have dinosaurs all over the house. Big ones, little ones, stuffed ones, ones that transform and ones that roar. You ask either one of our sons if they are a dinosaur and they will roar on cue no matter the situation. Wait until I can turn them on to being a Toronto Raptors fan.

10. The Pirate phase – Arrrh maties, yes you know this phase. Every boy has had a pirate birthday party. Eye patches, gold coins and parrots that sit on your shoulder. These are not the pirates from Captain Phillips or the ones that help us download free movies. These are the cartoony pirates like from Goonies. Nothing like listening to the boys walk around the house talking about walking the plank or looking for their bounty.

11. The Power Ranger Phase – Go go Power Rangers. Again, Netflix really brought this back into my life. Harry went through a phase of watching each version of the horrible live action show. Then the trading cards came into play. Then the costumes, dolls and back to the show. Harry always seemed to love the Red Ranger, but it changed depending on his mood. This phase is by far the one I figured would have ended long ago. It’s so bad. Why are parents letting this continue?

12. The Pokemon phase – Or as I call it, their first taste of learning about supply and demand. The cartoon was just a vehicle to what the boys really got hooked on, the trading cards. Wow. If you have not been through it yet, get ready. It takes on a life of its own. Our son’s teacher refers to those cards as contraband. Every boy (and girl) seems to go to school with a few cards and come home with more, less or different ones each day. For us, the phase seems to have ended, but when I see 10-year-old kids on the streetcar still talking about it, I am sure it will return.

13. I figured out how to play parents phase – Again, call be stupid, but I am hoping this is a phase. Our oldest has moved towards this period of life where he bounces back between parents until he gets the answer he wants. For the most part he fails as he does not do it quietly. Dude we can hear you. But he has pulled off a few capers and scored more game time, snack time or TV time.

14. I want to be a baby again phase – We have seen this with both our boys. This is especially true if there is a new-born in the mix. I mean who wouldn’t want to be treated like a baby again. You don’t have to do anything. You get carried, fed, cuddled and have all your demands met without question. We are starting to think our youngest does not want to leave the phase because we can’t get him out of his crib. I guess one day he will discover how much more comfortable an actual bed can be.

15. The hockey card phase – We have not experienced this one yet but like higher interest rates, we know it is coming. I have all of my cards still from when I was a kid, so I am sure all it would take is seeing those and Harry would be hooked. This can include baseball cards as well. Sadly, the gum is no longer. Loved that shitty powdery stick gum.

 16. The digging giant hole phase – It could be the beach, park or backyard, every boy loves to dig holes. The deeper the better. They still believe that they can dig so deep they will come out the other side. Once the snow melts and the ground thaws, our two will be outside digging a hole somewhere. All we can do as parents is provide them with the best buckets and shovels possible.

View this post on Instagram

Amazing day of sun today. #toronto #nomoreford

A post shared by Like A Dad (@likeadad) on

17. The taking random things in their pockets everywhere phase – We can’t leave the house without either of our boys trying to stuff something in their pockets. I think they feel it’s a test at how well we are paying attention. Nothing like getting a note from a teacher about your kid bringing weird stuff to school and disrupting class. Harry once smuggled a fancy bracelet to school. It’s mostly random Lego pieces these days.

18. The Cars phase – Another franchise that has run through two kids. Lightning McQueen is a legend. There is nothing left to say.

19. The favourite stuffy/blanket phase – For our oldest it was this grungy hamster stuffy that he called baby. Baby stuck around for years. He could not sleep without baby. Let’s not lose baby. Where the hell is baby? Thankfully that phase ended. Baby is in a toy bin somewhere, never to be seen again. With Charlie, his thing is his blue blanket. He is very much a Linus, walking around the house with it. He is also the only one who can handle how it smells. $20 bucks to whoever can inhale that and keep their lunch.

20. The kicking/hitting/scratching/biting phase – Towards each other, I bet this phase never ends. That is the life of a brother. But the phase both boys went through was directed at mom. They both liked to hit, punch, head butt, bit and generally be rough with her. Katie took some beatings. It’s hard work being a mom to two boys. Thankfully other than the occasional tantrum this phase has ended. I wonder at what age it will be dad’s turn to be a punching bag?

Others?

Did I miss some? Can you relate to some? What are your thoughts on the 20 phases that boys go through? What phases are still to come? Be gentle.