Toronto To Replace Registration System For Recreation Programs

Have you ever tried to register your child into one of the thousands of programs run by Toronto Parks and Recreation? I have not. Why? Too many horror stories.

I am sure the tall tales are overblown but I have overheard mostly moms go on about getting up at 5 am, planning out what you want, planning out your back up wants, having several phones going, 30 web browsers and even a pigeon at the ready in case they accept old school air mail. Let’s just say it sounds like crazy shit. Way too much work for me.

But good news. 2016 called and told Toronto Parks and Rec to join the present.

Today the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory finally did what parents have been praying for. He has announced an overhaul of the whole system.

The Mayor says the current system is held together with “chewing gum and chicken wire.”

Current reaction to current system

Parent’s faces after today’s news

The current system processes 600,000 registrations each year for 80,000 programs and classes at the city’s 135 community centres, 40 indoor arenas and 122 pools.

I realize it will take some time for this to happen and it still probably will have flaws, but it seems like progress to me. Finally.

Alley Life – Business In The Front, Party In The Back

For those that know us well, you have probably heard about or experienced our “interesting” neighbours wherever we have lived. From loud dance parties, drunk people passed out, those who don’t understand cleanliness and finally, large families just being WAY TOO LOUD. Yes we have experienced quite the range.

We were starting to wonder when we would finally have neighbours who were friendly, respectful and crazy enough, people who we would consider friends.

In Halifax, we never got to know our neighbours beyond front yard pleasantries. I was not sure if it was being in the suburbs, different family backgrounds or maybe they were just afraid of us? I like to think of us as social people, but hey, maybe not.

So, when we moved back to Toronto it was refreshing when we stayed at my in-laws place for a few months, because the neighbours already knew us.

Then it came time to move out on our own again. Time to roll the dice with new neighbours. You never know what you are going to get, especially when you go into a rental unit. All we were hoping for was a few kids on the street for the boys to possibly get to know. Well, we scored.

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Kumon, Kumon. It’s Time To Accelerate Your Kid’s Education


Do you remember when you started to read? Or when you started to do basic math? I don’t. But as our family enters the wonderful world of public school, we are quickly learning, you are never too young to start learning about reading, writing and math. As soon as they hit JK, they are doing letters and numbers. I think it’s great.

Our oldest, Harry is in Grade 1 and he is so eager to be able to read, he gets angry that it can’t happen faster. What a great problem to have. That’s better than no interest at all.

We have been reading to him since day 1 and I am sure that is a big part of why he loves books. Even when he was in daycare, the staff always would comment at how he just loved books and would sit and look at them every chance he got.

That being said, once this guy knows how to read, look out. I look forward to his story telling, his imagination and his overall interest in the world, just exploding. As I remember, I was not that into reading until much later in life. I could never separate reading for school because you had to and reading for pleasure because you wanted to. Now, I love to read when I have time and I love to write and be creative if you could not tell.

So as parents, can we help speed up this process of Harry learning to read? Or do we just leave it to the schools and wait for it to happen?

Fortunately, in 2015, there are so many options at our disposal to supercharge our child’s learning. There is the standard home tutoring, there are computer courses and web apps and there of course is parental help.

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Ignoring The Blog Like A Dad

Well I almost let it go a whole month. NOT ON MY WATCH BLOG.

So before 30 days of no blogging goes by, I had to put finger to plastic and give you something to read.

The last month has been busy. There is so much to do in a day, one of the last things I feel like doing at night is writing. I miss the blog. I miss the interaction with my fan. I mean fans.

Workin’ For A Livin’

The biggest reason for the drop off in blogging, is work. I have fallen into a great job that keeps me very busy and challenged. Instead of figuring out how to drive readers to this blog with no money and the power of cute kids, I am trying to drive buyers to a business website with the power of big dollars and cool products. Same shit, different environment. Hmmm maybe I should use my kids to sell my company product?

I have been at it for two months and feel like I have accomplished a lot, but there is so much more to do. I am going to be a busy guy for quite some time.

I still for the most part take the boys to school and do some of the pick ups. The morning walks are much more enjoyable for everyone I would have to say.

Things that have fallen off the cliff since I went back to work:

– Keeping a tidy house.
– Reading books.
– Thinking about exercise. Yep before at least I thought about it.
– Less time for TV.
– Less time for BBQ.
– Less time for blogging. That again.

Those Boys

Oh those boys. My pride and joy. My Batman and Robin.

Harry and Charlie are thriving as always. Not even humidex warnings slow those two down. Charlie is going through a phase of getting hurt, but hey, he is two. That is what happens right. His face looks like he is in UFC right now. He is running, talking, peeing standing up, cracking jokes, counting to 20 and overall, bring smiles to our faces every day. He is such a different kid that Harry. It keeps us on our toes.

Harry completed SK and is currently in summer camp. I would tell you more about his school year, but thanks to the teachers and province, all we know is that he ” participated” and is moving on to Grade 1.

His passion right now is bugs. Exploring and learning about bugs. his iPad skills are exceptional and his diet is still pretty boring. Summer soccer is going well, although he finds it a little boring. Apparently he needs a kid version of the EPL.

Harry had Panamania and I think want to become a track star as soon as he can. It was awesome to see how into the games he got. I think that porcupine had a lot to do with it.

I could write all day about those two, but I do like to keep a lot of the stories off the blog and just for us. I certainly don’t mind sharing how Charlie waits until he goes to bed to have the largest, smelliest poops ever.

What we have been up to

Here is a laundry list of things we have done this summer.

– Drove to Sarnia to see my family.
– Went to Ottawa to see friends.
– My friend Kevin visited from Boston for a day.
– I cooked a kick ass brisket on the Big Green Egg.

– Katie and I have been going out more thanks to some very nice babysitter volunteers.
– We had no fridge for 4 days.
– We had racoons living in our backyard.
– We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.

What else?

That’s it. I am tired. I am probably going to neglect the blog for another 29 days. I don’t want to but August looks busy as well.

What have you been doing?

Oh yeah, I blew up a kiddie pool and almost killed myself.

Dear Present Day Self, It’s Me, Past Self

This is a complicated blog post as I attempt to write to my past self without a time machine or app to make it easy. If you get lost in the Matrix, at least you get to hang out with Keanu. So to summarize, 2015 Michael is writing to 2014 Michael. Got it? Good.

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The best. #brothers #toronto #beaches #summer #hugs

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Dear Michael of 2014, how’s it hanging?

Are you loving the 2014 NBA Playoffs? Sorry about the Raps. Losing like that in Game 7 sucks. Call me an asshole for spoiling 2015, but you won’t any happier come next season. Want to make some coin? Bet on the Warriors.

I wanted to write this post and send it back in time from the future. Not too far, only a year (2015), but I have the best news.

You made the right choice. You and your family love Toronto. So if there is any doubt in your head about what to expect, stop. It’s pretty wicked. Every battle has been won and life is pretty great.

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All ready for the day. #TGIF

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Sure, I have to say, you will miss several things about your Halifax life, such as the ocean, the bridges, your house, Cheese Curds, the friends you made and surprisingly you are going to miss driving. Driving? Well, yes because you simply won’t be doing as much once you move. You will quickly get used to TTC life again. Sadly it’s the same as you remember from 2004, just add waaaaaaay more people.

To help remove some stress, I want to give you the head’s up that somehow you will end up back in your old neighbourhood of High Park. This time, closer to the now-trendy Roncesvalles. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will also point out that you should chop down any money trees you have and bring them with you. The housing market her is crazy-stupid. Sorry Harry, I meant silly.

Since I don’t want to spoil too much of the “where” you will end up, maybe I will just focus on “how” everyone is doing.

Toronto has been an adjustment and it’s certainly not a complete story yet. I will tell you that the boys have blossomed here. They are so happy with the city, it will touch your parental soul at how well it has worked out. Harry is a boy. He could not have turned out better. You know that shy kid that is probably watching a Cars movie as you drive across Canada? Well Toronto has opened up his world. He is very much the extrovert now. He is such a caring and compassionate guy, I could not be more proud. His first crack at school has been a fun ride as well. He is so close to reading and writing. Just keep providing support, help and fun ways to learn and he will pick it up. Harry and school are like PB and J. The kid is a sponge. His hardcore interests are nature and birds. If you can, invest in a pair of binoculars. I could go on for 5,000 words on how amazing Harry is doing in Toronto, but that’s not fair to you. I want you to live it. He is well. He is happy. He is Harry.

Charlie. Oh boy. This kid. He is going to be trouble. He left Halifax as a baby and currently he is going on three. The talking, the potty training, the attitude and all the personality traits that are very different from his older brother. Charlie is a lucky guy. He will always be able to say he was born in Halifax, but he will live a huge part of his early life in the biggest city in Canada. Charlie is a challenge. He will push your parenting patience to the max. He will own your heart with his soft-spoken ways. He is also very happy. He is ready to explode. He is a joy to be around even when he is screaming.

Now for Katie. Yes, the girl you followed out to Halifax in the first place. Katie is enjoying and excelling at her job. That’s good since it was kind of the whole reason you moved back right? She is carrying the heavy load for the family. For you, reestablishing yourself career wise will be tough. So please remember to thank Katie a lot for keeping the family afloat. I know it’s a team, I know you will even the deal one day, but you sure got lucky when you met her.

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Ready to head out on the town.

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You are probably reading this long post on your phone while driving from Montreal to Toronto. You are probably part excited and part nervous driving into the unknown. Yes, Ontario is home, but there is so much still unanswered a year later.

Your sister will have a tough year. She is holding on and keeping her tiny family together. Friends will move back to the city and leave again. Cost of living will make you shake your head and wonder why you moved in the first place. The sheer amount of people will be a constant stress whenever you go somewhere.

But…..nothing has yet to counter all the good that has come out of making the move back to Toronto. There are no more boring Sunday mornings. The amount of quality places to eat is limitless. Having family near makes it that much more possible to go out without the kids and have classic Sunday dinners.

Like I have been saying since my first go around in Toronto, just walking out the door is an adventure and that has not changed.

Oh, this has nothing to do with the move, but TV has gotten so much better. The amount of quality shows is mind-blowing. Yes, we are paying for cable again.

The past 365 days have been exciting, stressful, tiring, frustrating and generally less rainy. I am happy. The family seems happy. We are doing it. We are living life in a city that I think we were born to be in.

The job will come. The house will come. All the stuff you want in life will come. But I just wanted to write to you and let you know that you don’t have to worry about moving. You are happy in 2015. You are excited about what the future holds. You are so busy watching your boys grow up in front of you, there is no time to dwell about what life would have been like without moving.

Like I said, I miss driving over a bridge. I miss smelling the ocean and I miss how sunny our house was on a crisp winter day. But I will always have those memories to go with all of the new ones Toronto has brought.

To close. It’s too late to tell you but your Big Green Egg will be broken when you go to help the movers unload. Shit happens. But you have a new one and you cooked your first brisket on it and it was AMAZING.

The rest I am going to leave to you to live and experience in real-time. You are a lucky guy. Don’t screw it up.

Oh one last thing. I won’t tell you how, but at some point you are going to get to go to New York City for free. Yeah, let that one stew in your brain.

Keep it real,

Your friendly self


P.S. Please don’t wait to play Cards Against Humanity. All I can say is Dick Fingers.