The Amazing Woman my Daughters call MOM!

So as we arrive upon Mother’s Day it is a chance for us all to reflect on the person that has given us life, whether your mom is close, far away or perhaps no longer with you, we all have cherished memories of our Mothers and today is the day we celebrate them, so Happy Mother’s Day.

For my three girls they are extremely blessed to have my wife Jennie as their Mom, of course she loves them and is caring, but there is so much more that distinguishes her as a terrific Mother.  My wife has sacrificed a lot to be the best Mom she can be to our girls, she has always made the choice, since we had our first child ten years ago, that the kids would come first, and her career was placed on hold, so to speak.

IMG_3337

So as it came to my wife’s career, she decided almost immediately after having our first daughter that she would leave her corporate job and start a small business, with the sole purpose of being able to spend more time with our baby girl.  This wouldn’t be easy, but it was a challenge she was up for as it meant more time with her family.

Jennie always looked at the rewarding aspects of running a business while taking care of a newborn, even if it meant that she would need to go to a client’s location sleep deprived, with a playpen, and diaper bag in-tow.  But the clients understood and most of them welcomed the company; of course we needed to rely on childcare from time-to-time, but that was taking from the time my wife wanted to spend with our daughter.

As the years went on we had another baby girl and then a third daughter, all presenting new rewards and challenges for my wife as she continued to maintain harmony between our busy home life and her thriving business.  As the last of our girls went off to school, my wife found herself in a very unfamiliar situation; she now had time to spend on her business, no mid-morning diaper changes between phone calls, no tag-along kids to clients locations….just time, to refocus on the business and to start to take back some of the well deserved time that was devoted to our girls over the course of eight years.

So for most people this opportunity to finally get the time that you so desired would be a chance to “ramp-up” land a bunch of big clients a get back into a routine of working 40 to 50 hours per week, but not for my wife….she was still dedicated to being the one who put the girls on the bus to school, and wanted to be at home when they got off the bus and the end of the day; she has made commitments to go on as many class trips as possible and when my youngest daughter started JK, Jennie volunteered one day per week to help out in the class.

IMG_3341

One of the key principles of my wife’s business is based on the fact that she only works twenty six hours per week, and she has made that decision in order to be the mom that spends as much time as possible with her kids, while they are young; but the incredible thing about that is that her business is extremely successful, her services are in high demand and she is highly regarded in her industry as a mentor, an entrepreneur and a promoter of innovation and technology.

So if the industry she represents can place her in such high regard  and she only gives them twenty six hours per week, you can start to see how lucky my girls and I are when we get her for the remaining of  hours.  My wife has made it her passion to bring harmony to our home life and her business, and now we all get to tag along with her when she has business engagements in Toronto, Niagara and even California.

When I asked by daughters what their favourite thing about their mommy was, I probably should have been prepared with a pen and paper, because I was flooded with responses immediately, of all of those responses here is one from each of the girls:

Marissa, the youngest said, “my favourite thing about mom is that she gives me lots of hugs and kisses”.

IMG_3340

Our middled daughter Vanessa noted “my favourite thing about my mommy is that she takes time to go on class trips with me“.

IMG_3342

And our oldest girl Natasha had this to say “my mom makes be laugh, she is very funny and is a fun person too“.

IMG_3338

As for me, I would have to say my favourite thing about my wife as a mother is that she truly cares about our girls, she is always there for them, encourages them and provides them unconditional love.  So what more could I ask for, a successful wife who is focused on her family and brings a smile to the faces of so many people.

So Happy Mother’s Day Jennie, you are an inspirational mother and wife!

Advertisements

….Canadian Imperial Bank of Dad!

So I was fortunate enough to have received a promotion at work recently; upon communicating this with my family, my middle daughter Vanessa doesn’t skip a beat, she says….a promotion means more money right dad?  does that mean we get a raise in our allowance dad?  Leave it to the quiet one to pick up on that, she certainly does not miss much.  This is where I am supposed to say money doesn’t grow on trees….which ironically my wife has latched on to that saying and has branded her bookkeeping business very creatively with a money tree.

The statement from my daughter got me thinking about allowances and teaching the value of money to the girls, money is a fairly open subject in our house; my wife owns a financial business and I manage construction finances as part of my job, but it’s important that we communicate to our children the value of personal finances and how money can be used wisely.

For quite some time now we have been giving the girls an allowance, we decided on $5 every two weeks, which isn’t a lot perhaps but it allows them to learn how saving up for something takes time.  The girls have found that saving up for something can be quite rewarding; or spending it as soon as it’s received can be rewarding too, but the joy of spending it quickly usually only lasts for a short time.  For us though the allowance isn’t automatic, the girls are expected to do chores, like keeping their rooms clean, dusting, dishes and shovelling snow off the roof in the winter time….well maybe not that last one, just yet!

It is interesting to watch them save up the allowances, until they have decided on something; once they have enough saved up we plan a trip to the mall and they get to spend their savings.  Sometimes they come home with exactly what they wanted, other times they decide while at the store that maybe $40 worth of gummy bears isn’t the best way to spend their money and they return the money  back into their wallet until the next exciting thing catches their eye.  As an adult I find myself learning from the children about restraint and splurge purchases, in the era we are in where money is primarily exchanged on plastic, you sometimes loose the sense of letting it go on things that may not necessarily be essential.

The retail business does not make this easy, any store you go to have bins and shelves of non-essential items lined up at the check-out in hopes of attracting that impulse buy.  But if you watch children, of course they are tempted by the splurge purchases, after all who wouldn’t want a OneDirection Pez Dispenser, but when mom and dad’s response is….you will have to use your own money, it’s funny how fast their desire for the purchase goes away.
But managing money is stressful and its stress a child does not need, so for us we are trying to teach our girls the value of a dollar, without letting them worry too much about buying the things they want; they can still learn the value of dollar and that they can’t always get something, just because they want it.  Recently this Christmas my oldest daughter felt the need to buy everyone in the family something so that she had a gift for each of us under the tree, she was stressing about having enough money to get us something we would like and having the time to go and pick it out.  My wife and I talked about this and we didn’t want her to feel obligated to spend her money on her sisters and us, so we decided to have a secret santa between the three girls and my wife and I.

So what we did was put all of our names in a hat and took turns drawing names; everyone picked out a name and kept it to themselves, IMG_2782yes even the youngest;  we then set a $10 budget and decided to take them to
Value Village.  We got there and picked out some items, keeping in mind the modest budget and then all snuck our finds to the front to pay and headed home to wrap them.  Of course we still provided the girls with the usual gifts under the tree but what we found with this experiment was the girls were very proud of their frugalness and not to mention, everyone really liked what their secret santa got them

So it’s not always about how much money is spent, it is more about the thought and with the girls it seems that they are learning to appreciate the value of a dollar.

Guy and Dolls….

Most kids have a favourite toy, usually it’s something that they carry around the house, take to bed with them or play with all the time; but the favourite toy usually doesn’t last too long before there is a new favourite toy.  Well with my girls their favourite toy is their doll, but not just any doll, a Maplelea doll….think American Girl for Canadians.

So needless to say I didn’t know too much about dolls, not having any sisters, and growing up the closest thing I had to a doll was a GI Joe action figure…well I guess that’s not totally true, I did have a cabbage patch kid when I was nine, but it was the Toronto Blue Jays collectors edition and it sat on a shelf more that it actually was played with.  But I have come to realize that when you have three daughters you quickly learn if you want to engage with what is important to them, you have to learn about things you otherwise would have never pictured yourself experiencing.

So these dolls are generally sold from a magazine, you pick out your doll based on different physical features and hobbies and each doll is based on a real child, each one from a different part of Canada.  Once you have picked the girl you would like to purchase, you order it, and in two weeks you have a new friend.

The interesting thing with these dolls is that you can purchase any type of clothing or accessories imaginable, from sports outfits to kayaks to horses.  Now these accessories are not cheap, but they are good quality and the girls have fun picking them out.

At first I thought that the doll would be a fad, but we are now heading in to the girl’s fourth Christmas since getting their first doll and they are still excited about having them, so much so that I recently took the girls to the seasonal doll store in Toronto to see what was new….needless to say it was a hit!

Maplelea

Looking back at this summer we attended Black Creek Pioneer Village, where the doll company Maplelea hosted an event specifically for girls and their dolls, hundreds of little girls with their dolls at the pioneer village, learning about how dolls were made in the pioneer times, how the pioneers dressed, farmed and generally lived.  The girls loved the experience and to be surrounded by so many other little girls and their dolls was quite exciting for them, a little overwhelming for dad, but fun for the girls.


So that’s the kind of things you do when you’re a dad to three girls, even if you don’t know anything about dolls, or their accessories, to connect with your children sometimes you just need to share their interests.

11696564_10152864729356073_4337262545648517216_o

….Go Figure!

I am sure you are all familiar with the Hockey Dad, you know the guy that spends his winters in a small town arena, living off coffee and that dream….some day my kid is going to play in the NHL.  Well there are many of those dads out there across Canada, but there are also another bunch of gents know as Figure Skating Dads.  Much like their counterparts, they spend plenty of evenings and weekends in the small town arena.

The Figure Skating dad however, may not have his sights set on the NHL, or even the olympics, but in arenas across Canada there thousands of boys and girls that are privelidged enough to have made the sacrifices it takes to support these sporting activities.

11055393_10152667079816073_8733659980015009521_n

As for being a Figure Skating dad, I have to admit I was a bit out of my league at the start; my wife has always been an avid Figure Skater and to this day still skates mainly for leisure and exercise but at a competitive level too; my three daughters have also taken to the sport and love it.  But as a guy, what do I know about figure skating?  Well when you have a wife and three daughters that have all embraced the sport you quickly learn what it’s all about.  Yes there a lots of frilly outfits, make-up and hair glitter….(well that last one might not be new to me), there is an entire language to the sport that I was totally unfamiliar with.

Over the years I have learnt about edges, toe picks, spirals, spins and some technique named after the elusive and mysterious flying camel, there are flips, toes and the lutz that seem to come in a variety of denominations, from single to double and even the occasional triple or quad.  But the technique that I haven’t figure out yet is definitely the Salchow jump, pronounced SowCow, confused with a notorious swine-bovine creature, but is obviously named after Ulrich Salchow the Swedish born Olympian.

12310616_10153113583796073_5571866010189788134_n

So looking past my lack of knowledge on the sport, I find myself blessed that my wife and three daughters all share a common passion, they all skate in the same arena in the same town, and for the most part on the same night of the week.  Yes we partake in the odd competition or invitational, which for the girls isn’t just about skating, it’s a weekend away….perfect I say, as long as they are having fun, meeting new friends and staying active, this sport has plenty to offer.

So when I see one of my daughters complete a routine they have been working hard on, or they earn a badge or ribbon it makes me proud to know that they are participating in a past-time that they enjoy while gaining important life skills.

As for me, I will continue to brush up on my knowledge of the sport and maybe someday I will be able to tell the difference between an Axel a Flip and a Loop, even though it all sounds like an Evel Knievel routine.

 

 

Kindness Takes Flight….

As I reflect on a recent family vacation I am reminded of the humanity that surrounds us on a daily basis and the fact that sometimes we don’t give society enough credit for the good people that walk amongst us.

The girls and I were fortunate enough to tag along on one of my wife’s business trips, this time to California; the catch was that her flight was already fully booked, therefore I would have to take a separate flight with the three girls without my wife’s help. No problem! I said, after all it’s California, how exciting would that be?  Besides how hard could it be to navigate an airport and plane ride with three kids?

So off we went for Toronto for an early morning flight to San Francisco, all was well as my wife helped us find our terminal and sent us on our way….see you down there, she said nervously; I got the feeling that she was a bit concerned that this might be too much and daddy might snap somewhere over the mid-west.  Bye mommy! the girls all said, and that was that we were on our journey, dad and his girls, navigating security, finding our gate and boarding the plane.

We all got settled into our seats, girls with their headphones on, movies cued up and snacks on their trays.  The flight went quite well, and I have to say my youngest did amazing considering this was her first flight.  As we exited the plane the girls were commended on their excellent behaviour by  at least half a dozen people…..nothing better than well mannered kids to make a father proud.

IMG_2455

 

So off we went to tour San Francisco and headed to our final destination of San Jose, the girls had a very eventful and fun-filled week, children’s museums, make your own milkshakes and swimming in the hotel pool….even if we were the only ones crazy enough to swim outside in November; y’all must be from Canada! were the comments we got!.  But like all vacations, they come to an end and its time to head home.  So came the time to prepare for the trip back.

This time we were faced with an early flight; 7:30am, and with our hotel being an hour away from the airport 3:00am came all too soon.  But the girls handled it in stride, we arrived at the airport, dropped off the rental car, checked our luggage and headed for our gate.  Much like the flight down I was doing this solo, as my wife was on a different flight.  This time however the girls and I did not have the luxury of sitting together on the plane, even with advanced pre-selection of our seats, the best we were able to acquire were four middle seats disbursed over two rows…..not going to lie, at this point I was getting very nervous, it’s one thing to navigate an airport with three kids without the aid of your spouse, but not being able to sit alongside your young children is a very helpless feeling for a parent.

But I wasn’t going to let this ruin our vacation, that had been incredible up to this point, so I remained positive and said to the kids…..it will all work out and we are going to have a great flight!  So we made our way through security, found our gate and boarded the plane.  I helped my oldest and middle daughters into their seats and got them set up for the flight, one row back was my youngest daughter and I.  So I got my youngest set up in her seat, headphones, snacks and such, when the person in the seat next to her introduced himself……he said Hi I’m Mike, I see that you are separated from your girls, don’t worry, I can help to get your little one settled in and once were in the air we’ll figure something out so you can sit near her!

Wow!, an instant relief, this kind gentlemen observed my situation and instead of ignoring us and looking out his window he decided to show compassion and lend a hand.  Thanks Mike! I said, and proceeded to sit down in my seat.  As the plane started to fill up there were only a few more people to board and the seats on either side of me were still vacant.  Down the aisle came a young mother with a child (maybe around 3 years old) she approached and said to me, our seats are on either side of you, would you mind trading so that I could sit next to my daughter?  No problem!, was my reply as I was now on the aisle seat and closer to my own daughter.  Well the gentlemen on the opposing aisle next to my youngest overheard this exchange and turned to me and said, I have three kids of my own, I understand what it’s like to want to sit with them on a plane, you can have my seat if you like!  Thank you sir!  And just like that, I went from stressing out about not being able to be there for my daughter to sitting right beside her holding her hand, all because three complete strangers showed kindness and compassion towards us.

As for my other two daughters in the row ahead of us, it worked out that they were on either side of a elderly couple, who took quite a shining to them….perhaps reminding them of their grandchildren, not sure, but as she knitted away, she would stop from time-to-time and report back to me on how the girls were doing, letting me know that they were just fine.

12187819_10153074442361073_4956562641118090829_n

So there we were, my girls were all content, I had a nice chat with Mike, our new family friend, and I was no longer looking for the beer cart at 8 o’clock in the morning.  So just when you think people around you are too caught up in their own busy lives, you have wonderful experiences like mine; we all get bogged down, we all have our own stresses, but lending a helping hand to a complete stranger could just be what a family needs….I know our experience was a memorable one, thanks to other peoples kindness.

 

Go Ask Your Mother

Welcome to my blog, I have decided to write these entries to share everyday stories of being a working dad, a husband to a very successful wife and just how rewarding a busy family life can be…..enjoy the journey.

When my wife and I met some seventeen years ago, we talked casually about having kids, and how nice it would be to someday take the leap into parenthood; well after five years of courtship we were married and then had our first daughter Natasha three years after that……a leap into parenthood was certainly an understatement, more like a plunge off a cliff or free fall from a airplane, we had no idea what we were getting into.

But like most parents, we all go in blind with no formal training and somehow we seem to struggle our way through the early years, with many sleepless nights, lots of indigestion from rushing through meals and that frequent conversation between spouses, you know the one that goes something like this……”what did we get ourselves into? and how are we going to survive? and hi I’m your husband….haven’t seen you in a while“.  But we do survive and at some point the thought enters at least one of the parent’s minds “hey this isn’t so bad, maybe we should have another child  I said Pardon?

And that is just what happened, two and half years after our first daughter came along, we had another girl; Vanessa, however unlike our first daughter the second one seemed to always have a grievance with the sleep union, it wasn’t until after her third birthday did she sleep through the night.  But like her older sister she was happy and healthy so we counted our blessings.

As time passed and our daughters grew, my wife posed the question again….how about having another kid?  said with a straight face no less!  My response was, sure, why not?  we are veterans at this point, how much could a third child possibly change things?

Well it did change things…..we had our third daughter Marissa two and half years after the second one, once again happy and healthy, but unlike her sisters, not only did she not care for sleep too much, she wasn’t that big on food either, but her sisters adored her.

So back to the comment about the third child not changing things too much, what we quickly realized was the concept of divide and conquer between my wife and I no longer applied….we were now out numbered and the kids knew it!  Going out shopping or to dinner now took the logistical coordination skills of a FedEx executive, just when we thought we had learned the ropes of this parenting gig, we quickly realized we were still rookies.

As all parents find though, you make sacrifices, you roll with the punches and you do your best to be a role model to your children and just as important you ensure that you are there for your spouse, after all they’re the ones riding shotgun beside you in the family minivan….even though they are likely sleeping.

So now as we are blessed with three beautiful daughters the fun begins…..