Tag: things to do

The Kids Are Alright

Even though that they lost, they were all still winners, in the end.

Now, that probably sounds like the ending to some cheesy, cliche sports story. It’s not, though! It’s the beginning to this non-cheesy,  non-cliche sports story. Trust me, it’ll make sense later.

stories about tolerance


I don’t know about you, but I worry about what kind of people my children will be, when they’re older. B, in particular can be a handful, to put it mildly.  We try to instil as much as we can, but at the end of the day, it’s on B to accept it or reject it. As such, putting him in the right environments is always a big factor for K and I.  Sports, for example, are perfect, as they expose him to all kinds of life lessons in a structured, fun way.

Luckily, B loves basketball, and he played on a rep team in Hamilton this year. Even more luckily,  the team was comprised of a good group of boys. Sure, skill and talent-wise, they were OK, but everyone got along, and their attitudes were fine.  Off the court, whereas B’s the type who takes goofing around to new levels, I was surprised to see that, when with his team,  he wasn’t any more rambunctious as anyone else (usually).

After an up and down season, the team competed in the provincial championships recently.  The tournament covered a whole weekend, which meant staying out of town in a hotel.  After the first game Friday evening, the team went out to a restaurant for dinner.

While there, some of the boys ended up at the bar area, to watch the Toronto Raptors game on TV, including B. Don’t worry, they weren’t drinking  (they’re 9 years old. C’mon now). Eventually, though, B came running over to K and I, excited. He had worn his warm-up shirt to the restaurant, but now, he just had his jersey on. He told us that he gave away his shirt, to a kid at the bar. Since we had paid for the shirt, as part of his uniform, and B has a track record for silliness, like I mentioned earlier, our immediate reaction was to cut him off, and tell him to go get the shirt back.  He ran back to the bar, and came back to show us that he got it.

I’ll admit to screwing up here, folks. Sometimes, like the Fresh Prince said, parents just don’t understand. After the shirt incident, J went over to snoop on her big bro, and reported back that the boy who the team was hanging with at the bar had a disability (not her words, but I’ll error on the side of vagueness here). Then, we started hearing from B’s teammates that the boy was really excited to be talking to, and chilling with, the team. Then, we heard that B and one of his buddies had given him their shirts, as a token of friendship, and that the boy was super excited about receiving them.  B had come over to explain this, but K and I kiboshed it.

Sigh. Don’t do this.

When B walked by, after we found out about his gesture, we told him that, of course, he could give his shirt to his new friend, if he wanted to.  So he did. He then returned to say that the boy’s mom wanted to know where our games were the next day, as they wanted to come watch. K jotted down the address on a paper, which B delivered. Afterwards, when it was time to go, the mom approached the parents on the team, to say thank you, and compliment the boys.

The next morning, B kept nervously wondering if his new pal would actually show up, with his mom. importance of tolerance in schools As game time neared, I looked around the gym, and didn’t see them, which was disappointing, but understandable. Right before tip-off, though, they walked in! The dude was even rocking B’s warm-up shirt. B broke into a goofy grin, which made me goofily grin, too.  After the game, the team went over to say hi, and give the boy props and stuff, which he was clearly thrilled about.

Needless to say, I was proud that B, unsolicited and unprompted, made a new buddy, not because he was ‘different’, not because it was ‘the right thing to do’, but just…….because.  Maybe that guy will be alright, after all. We could all stand to be more tolerant, accepting and not quick to judge, right?

The only part that sucked was that the team kind of got killed in that game. However…..

Even though that they lost, they were all still winners, in the end.


Told ya that it would make sense. Til the next one, later!



Tips For Attending Toronto’s Festival Of Beer

It’s party time, people. Toronto’s Festival of Beer presented by the Beer Store is this weekend! For those that don’t know, the Toronto Beer Fest takes place July 26-29 at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place, featuring over 400 (!!!) beers from about 100 brewers. I went for the first time last year, and it was such a boozy, kid-free blast, that I’m going again this year (this time, though, as invited media). It’s almost sold out now, too. With that said, if you are planning on attending, lemme give you some quick pointers, so you don’t make the same rookie mistakes that I did.


The festival also features some stellar musical acts, too, performing on the OLG Bandshell Stage! Last year, my buddy and I copped tickets super early (like January early) to save a few bucks. We picked them for Saturday, without realizing that each day would have different headlining performers. It turned out that Canadian rock legends Sloan were the main act that Saturday. While cool, the headliners on the Friday, Method Man and Redman, were more up my alley, musically, and I was kicking myself for selecting Saturday tickets. Oh well. Live and learn. Here’s this year’s lineup (I’ll be there Friday):

Thursday, July 26:

  • Broken Social Scene
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage
  • The Darcys

Friday, July 27

  • Ludacris

Saturday, July 28

  • Dwayne Gretzky

Sunday, July 29

  • Finger Eleven
  • I Mother Earth



It’s all about tokens at the festival, as that’s the currency. You buy them at booths (credit cards are accepted there), or from people are walking around selling them.  There were ATMs on site, but these usually had lineups at them. So, to maximize your drinking time (and save on the ATM fees), be sure to bring money, because it’s easier.


With your ticket comes a little commemorative mug, which you use to get your drank on. In general, one token costs a buck, which should get you about half a mug’s worth of beer. Some places will charge more for a pour, though, so keep an eye out for each place’s rates.


I pity the fool (word to Mr. T) that tries to booze it up on an empty stomach. While you can’t bring outside food, the festival is promoting its “culinary experience” this year. Some of Toronto’s most popular restaurants will be there, to happily take your money, so you can get your grub on, including La Palma, Campagnolo, Fidel Gastro’s, Tiny Tom Donuts, Queen Margherita Pizza, Smoke’s Poutinerie, South St. Burger, Jerk Brothers, Ted’s World Famous BBQ, Ted’s Beer Dogs, Heirloom Toronto, ONO Poké Bar, Melt Grilled Cheese, Ontario Corn Roasters, Oyster Boy, Hot Bunzz Street Cuizine, and Brando’s Fried Chicken.


You can’t bring your own water, but luckily, a lot places had cold bottled water available. Be sure to take advantage.  Even better, you don’t have to sing like Justin Bieber on a Major Lazer track to get it for free!


I totally screwed up that cliche, but you get the idea. Like I said, the festival is sold out, so there’s going to be a lot of people. Last year, we went pretty early on the Saturday, and, while the line to get in moved decently enough…..it was still a really long line. I can only imagine what is was like later in the day. So chill, Bill.  Toronto Beer Fest is a crowded event. Expect lines for everything, but try to make the best of it. We’re all in the same boat.


I know, I know. The natural inclination, as soon as you enter the festival, is to blow all your tokens at the first few booths you see. And to that I say, slow down, son.  Pace yourself.  You paid good money for your ticket, so there’s no need to get escorted out by the cops for being a drunken idiot an hour after you get there. The festival covers a lot of area. Take your time and explore. You never know what might find, that will tickle your fancy.

Have fun and be merry this weekend the Toronto Beer Fest. Cheers!


Bird Kingdom!

One of my family’s favourite places to visit is Niagara Falls. It’s only an hour from us, so we hit it up a few times a year. There’s just so much to do , that it is always a great way to get out and entertain the kids.

Recently, we visited an attraction which we had never been to before – Bird Kingdom!  They generously hooked me up with some complimentary passes (thanks again, BK!), so we checked it out. Here is my review of our trip there.


Now, I wasn’t that familiar with this place, prior to going.  I’m not exactly an ornitholgist.  I assumed that the Trashmen would be around somewhere in the building, singing “Surfin’ Bird”. When B and J asked what Bird Kingdom was, I told them that it was a place with lots of birds in it.

Turns out, it is actually a lot more than that!

What it is, you see,  is the world’s largest indoor free flying aviary. It covers several different floors, and is broken up into different experiences.

Unfortunately, our visit started off on a bad note. Despite wearing shorts, J really had her cranky pants on. Once we arrived, she refused to get out her stroller, and was being extra whiny. Luckily for us, the whole facility was very stroller-friendly, and easy to navigate.


Our first experience was The Old Museum. Full of old artifacts and pictures, it showcased the history of the building, and also of Niagara Falls.   I didn’t soak it in as much as I would have liked, however. J was still grumpy, while B was in a rush to find the birds. They didn’t really want to learn about Annie Taylor, as fascinating as she was.

Sorry, Annie

Sorry, Annie

We did slow B down enough, to snap a picture of him in a barrel, going over the Falls.


Not literally going over the Falls, of course

Next up was The Explorer’s Base Camp. This area had lots of birds and creatures out n the open, for us to get real close to. In some cases, we could even touch them!


At this point, J’s mood brightened (the idea of looking at a turtle was too alluring). So she got out of the stroller, to explore. She spent the rest of the visit running around excitedly, like her big bro.


Turtle Power!

Up next was The Small Bird Aviary, which was exactly as it sounds. It was pretty surreal, watching these little tiny birds zipping around. I could feel the breeze sometimes, on my face, as they flew by.  One thing I forgot to note is that a ticket attendant gave us a list, on the way in to the kingdom. It was a scavenger hunt, for finding various things throughout the facility. Several of them were in The Small Bird Aviary, and B had a blast trying to track them down.


We then moved on to The Night Jungle.  This had numerous strange and nocturnal animals in it, many of which appeared to be asleep (go figure).  Flash photography wasn’t allowed, so I couldn’t take any pictures, but take my word for it: The Night Jungle was pretty cool…..and creepy. Also, while we didn’t stop to partake in it (Wait. Scratch that. We couldn’t stop because B and J whizzed by it in a hyperactive rush, to see what was next), there was a Kid’s Archaeological Dig in this area, too, where children could go and dig up treasures.

The last experience, was the best one, in my humble opinion, Discover The Kingdom. It is this huge, multi-level indoor rainforest! The pathway starts at the top, and works its way down. Along the way, you encounter numerous birds and other creatures hanging out freely.



I particularly was impressed with the big waterfall, which you could walk under, and the Javenese house, a hand-carved wood structure built in 1875.




All in all, my family really enjoyed Bird Kingdom. We spent about an hour there, and that was with two fast-moving small kids who couldn’t wait to see what was next on the adventure. Tickets are reasonably priced, as well.  If you’re visiting the Falls, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Bird Kingdom

5651 River Road

Niagara Falls, Ontario  L2E 7M7