C’est l’Halloween

This morning I tweeted that Halloween is another day every year when I’m reminded that I’m not the fun parent.

The fact is that I am not very creative when it comes to thinking up costumes…

Except for that one time I dressed the kid as Spartacat

Except for that one time I dressed the kid as Spartacat

 

and I’m not very comfortable making a fool of myself, no matter how many other people are doing it. I worry about being cold, uncomfortable, awkward. I was not one of those brave kids that wore a costume in high school even though not a lot of people were still doing that. I wore a costume in Grade 9 and that was it. (I was Scully).

Two years ago Joe kept asking the kid what he should be for Halloween and she kept saying a milkman, even though I’m pretty sure she had no reason to know what a milkman actually was. Halloween day comes and Joe comes downstairs dressed as Milk Man. I looked, I can’t find a picture.

I wish that I could get past whatever it is that stops me from being totally goofy.

I’m glad that the willingness to just get up and dance is something my kid has inherited from her Daddy.

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I worry that sometimes with me she’s missing out on having the full experience of something. I know that I probably could have had more fun if I could just stop thinking so much about other people. I hope she never starts.

#GameTimeCAN

I was thrilled to get an email from Mattel a couple of weeks ago, telling me about their new campaign: Anytime is Game Time. We are a gaming household. Joe and I have played trivia with a team – though we are missing this year’s World Trivia Night, the first time in years (if you’re interested, it’s a great time and funds go to charity). We have hosted game nights in the past, and attended many as well. We are a kickass Trivial Pursuit team.

We have been trying to get our daughter as much into board games as we are. We started young and we’ve been getting new games as she gets older and more interested. Uno has been a big hit, and, since it was one of my favourites when I was a kid, I’m thrilled.

We got a big box of games on our doorstep and last weekend I took some time out to take those games downstairs and declare it game time.

It came with a big button

It came with a big button

Kid loves the big button

Kid loves the big button

We started with a game I had heard about but never played before – Apples to Apples: Big Picture.

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This game was good for the kid, she had to try and explain why she chose the pictures she chose to go with the word. It was fun and a bit of an exercise.

But the biggest hit to come out of the box was Bounce Off.

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You bounce balls into a game board to try and make patterns. It’s noisy and goofy and I had fun. I know the kid did too because after I went back to working on my essay she played against Daddy and then against her Uncle who came over on Sunday. It’s definitely a hit. Probably because it’s a bit silly.

Getting down on the floor and playing a few games was a great way to get out of my office and spend some time with my kid, laughing. As we enter in to the busiest of seasons it’s something I’ll be doing again and again.

Disclosure: I was sent four games by Mattel to participate in the #GameTimeCAN promotion. 

Sisters are doing it for themselves

So, about this ‘doing it all’ business.

I’m in school, I’m working a bit, I’m a mother, we own a home, we all need to eat and I’m generally in charge of our budget. I am also supposed to be heading to the gym and getting my exercise, because I need to lose weight and be more fit.

Right now, it’s all crap.

All of it. It’s crap.

I have had a cold for several weeks now. I haven’t been to the gym since school started and I’m fairly certain I’ve gained more weight. Last night I was thinking about going to the gym and felt actual terror at the thought of having to start all over again, again.

The house is in a constant state of messy – sometimes we get one or two rooms clean, but there’s this pile of laundry in the kid’s room that should have been sorted two weeks ago. She says she still has clothes, so I’ll worry about it later.

I’ve bounced two payments this month because the money was in the wrong account. Two. The combination of our budget being tighter and me having less time to pay attention is not a good one.

The kid has been having a hell of a time falling asleep. She’s awake until past 9 pm, sometimes past 10 pm, because she can’t seem to just lie down and close her eyes. Part of me wants to stand next to her bed and stroke her forehead until she falls asleep, and part of me just wants her to do what she’s damn well told.

Every weekend is a struggle. I want to spend time with her, with my family, I want to cook and bake and play together, go for walks, have fun. But I also want to just shut myself in my office and get my work done because that’s what I’m always thinking that I should be doing when I’m doing something else.

I want to flash forward two years and have this all have been worth it, but my pessimistic self is stuck in the now where everything is hard and who knows what the actual outcome will be.

So for now I throw up my hands. That’s it. I can’t do it all. I can’t. Maybe someone else can handle with a smile on their face, their hair and makeup done. I’ll stick to the occasional afternoon nap, my yoga pants wardrobe and sporadic crying fits.

As long as she loves me and knows I love her, we’ll be okay.

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The Hill

Parliament Hill has been reopened to the public after Wednesday’s shootings and I couldn’t be happier to hear the news.

People who have never been to Ottawa, and certainly people from outside of Canada don’t understand what this space is.

The Parliament buildings surround pathways and two large lawn spaces. Parliament Hill belongs to us, the people of Canada, and we use it like our town square here in Ottawa. People gather there.

We’re allowed there to celebrate, protest and mourn.

When Jack Layton died and people in Ottawa wanted to pay tribute, we all ended up on the hill. It’s the most obvious place to express ourselves. Today, the Saturday after the shootings, the first day that the Hill has been open since it happened, people went down and milled around, took pictures. We did.

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It’s a beautiful place. It’s a public space. If we were to lose that, that would be a terrible end to this tragedy.

The Art of Procrastination

In my previous student life I was very good at procrastinating when I had schoolwork to do. High school, college and university I would clean, re-arrange furniture and cook to avoid sitting at my desk.

Now I have a whole house and a 4-year-old. If I procrastinated by cleaning I could avoid essays for decades.

Instead I’ve found other things to distract me, because cleaning would be too productive.

1) Computer Games

At my desk I play a lot of Mac Boxikon - it’s kind of like Tetris but not. It’s been my go to when I have a mouse for a lot of years. I used to play it in the Charlatan officer when I was avoiding essays the last time I was in university. Now on my iPad I procrastinate with Frozen Free Fall, which I have developed a kind of addiction too. Damn funny snowman. (My daughter has seen this game on my iPad and wants to play it because it’s Frozen, but I won’t let her because she might mess up my scores. I’m not proud to admit that).

2) Organizing

Why work on my essay when I can update my calendar with all the due dates I have coming up? I need that checklist of when everything is due, all the kid’s activities in my agenda. I now have a lovely file box to keep all my readings and research for my essays in. With labels.

Beautiful

Beautiful

I also reorganized my pinboards. I had been pinning everything I thought could be useful for school on to one board, but now I have separate boards for the essays I’m writing.Much better.

Organizing my research also lead to…

3) More research.

Google is my friend.

5) Twitter.

If people would stop being interesting and stuff would stop happening then this wouldn’t be a problem.

4) Working on my application for grad school.

Yes, I do need to write these essays before I can get in to grad school so I can write essays in the future, but that’s not the point.

5) Napping.

Do you know how good naps are? Naps are so good.

6) Blogging

Hey y’all. Don’t you need to hear what I’m thinking?

 

My Ottawa

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I grew up in Ottawa. I have moved away a handful of times but I have always ended up back here. When I got to work on Parliament Hill it was a privilege every day. I almost had to pinch myself every time I got to walk up the steps into Centre Block.

This city is part of me. I am part of it.

And this morning I happened to have CBC News on while I was doing some work and I looked up and the picture said Breaking News and there was Parliament Hill, Centre Block surrounded by police cars. And suddenly the world spiralled out of control.

The place I used to work, the centre of my city and arguably the country was under attack, nothing was clear. My friends and former colleagues under lock down. I quickly checked in with everyone I could think of, and settled in to watch the news all day, following Twitter and trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make any sense.

But at the same time I had trust that everything would be alright. That the military, RCMP and police we have here would take care of us all. And they did.

I was not scared. I am not scared. I am angry.

This was an act meant to produce fear, but I’m not afraid. I am angry that you think you can come here and do that to us. We may seem meek but we are fierce. We are protective. We don’t take kindly to threats like this.

And we have a lot of friends.

Sometime in the next few days there will be a gathering on Parliament Hill to demonstrate our strength, our solidarity and our lack of fear. I will be there, I will be wearing my poppy. I will be surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of others.

Some people online were saying this is Canada’s 9-11, that Ottawa is comparable now to Newtown, to Fort Dix, Aurora. This doesn’t compare to that. There is no way this incident compares to the devastation that has happened elsewhere.

We lost a soldier, we lost some feeling of safety, but it could have been so much worse. So very much worse. We don’t know that pain.

We have to find a way to deal with what has happened, but for the most part our lives will just carry on.

IMG_1414It will be a very difficult Remembrance Day, as we gather around what is now a crime scene, these two soldiers that have died needlessly this week will be honoured, we will cry together, and we will push forward.

 

Bad guys

When I was a kid I was not good with scary.

We used to go to the movies and I would cover my eyes and put my head down until the trailers were over – we went to an old theatre that would show movies like The Blob and other scary 50s things. At home, once we got our first VCR (so exciting!) my mom would put on Ghostbusters and I would wait upstairs until they told me the opening scene in the library was over so I could come down and watch the rest of the movie. I don’t know why that scene scared me more than the rest – maybe it lacked an appropriate comedy buffer.

Then there was the time my best friend had a Halloween party and they were going to watch a campy horror movie and I was so scared about even the prospect of watching the movie that I called my mom to pick me up early.

Why yes, that did get me teased at school.

Flash forward a few years and my sister and I are raiding the Horror section at Blockbuster. For my 16 birthday we went to a triple screening – Scream 1, 2 and 3. And then there was that time that I spent all Halloween day watching the Friday the 13th marathon on TV and then we went to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the theatre after dark.

All this to say things have changed since I was a terrified kid.

Now take my daughter: More easily scared than I was at any age.

Scared face

Scared face

Books, movies, whatever it is, at the very hint of a bad guy she wants me to stop. She tells me she wants to watch princess movies, but not one that has a witch. Think on that for a minute. I want to show her all the movies I loved as a kid and classics I’ve grown to love since, but I always have to backpedal – what about this scene or that person.

To this day I have only seen the first half of Brave and less than 15 minutes of The Princess and the Frog.

I saw that Annie is on Netflix now and I know she would love the singing and dancing, but then there’s that scene at the railroad tracks and Rooster is chasing her…

The Princess Bride is wonderful, but the ROUSs…

On the one hand I get that she’s sensitive and I don’t want to be the mom that brings on bad dreams. I remember feeling that way when I was a kid, not being able to separate. I used to have terrible dreams. On the other hand I feel as though she’s missing these opportunities to watch really great storytelling – and the bad guys don’t get to win.

Thank you Jamie Lee

I’m a big fan of the movie Halloween and Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance in it. Because of this relationship it never occurred to me that I would be reading my daughter books written by the actress. It turns out, they’re pretty awesome.

It started with My Brave Year of Firsts (affiliate link). I found it in the store while we were on vacation, and I thought it might be good to read given that the kid was going to be starting kindergarten very shortly after we got back. Now we’ve purchased Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day and When I Was Little and she’s loved both of those too.

I love finding books that speak to her. The ones she wants us to read over and over again.

And so I was not surprised with the book she chose at the school library this week: I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off A Little Self Esteem.

There is something about the characters of these little kids that reminds me of mine. The writing and the rhymes get her right into the story. And the best part is that it’s a message I really want delivered. It’s okay to fall down, to stumble, to try and fail, you still have to like who you are at the very base of yourself.

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And any book that makes her want to read more books? I’m buying.

 

Chronicles of a night owl

I written about the troubles my daughter has with falling asleep. She’s afraid to miss out on everything that happens when she’s supposed to be asleep and we’re still awake. She has been this way most of her life. There were times when she was not quite two years old that she would stay up all night and into the next afternoon.

She gets this from me.

I am a lifelong night owl. I don’t go to sleep well. I used to stay up late reading by my night light – resulting in scorch marks on several blankets. My brain works faster at night, everything seems to run more smoothly. This means that when I have assignments to work on, I get them done at night.

This was a much easier task when I was an undergrad the first time around. Joe could go to bed and I would be up late writing away, trying to make one thought connect to another.

Nowadays I have a kid who likes to be awake at 6:30 am and I have to be up, dress and at the bus stop with her by a little after 8 am.

Coffee is my friend

Coffee is my friend

I don’t necessarily like being a night owl. In high school I used to work my way entirely around the clock over the summer. I missed the sunshine, and getting ready to go back to school usually involved me staying up one full day and night so I could get back into a normal schedule. And then there was that time I took a job that started at 7 am, and even sometimes, during election campaigns, required me to take the first possible bus downtown.

When the kid is happily off on the bus then I get to nap, and feel bad about the amount of daylight I’m wasting.

I try to sit down and work in the mornings. I try to get things done during the day. But here I am, 12:34 am, trying to figure out why Canada needs to be concerned with Third World development in 1983.

What is fat?

I knew it was a conversation we’d have to have eventually, but I didn’t plan for it so soon, and I didn’t expect the trigger to be Socks the cat.

We’ve been reading a lot of Beverly Cleary – the entire Ramona series, Ribsy and Henry and Beezus – and I thought Socks would be great because it’s about a cat. We can’t have one, but the kid still loves the idea of them. I’ve learned that with Beverly Cleary’s older books (published in the 1950s) there are things we might want to read around – holy gender stereotyping! – but generally we’ve done okay.

And then someone came to visit Socks’ owners new baby and said the cat was fat, and Mrs. Bricker decides that she and Socks both need to lose some weight.

“Why do people need to lose weight? You get bigger and grow and be healthy,” kid says matter-of-factly. And she’s right, that’s what we’ve always told her. She knows that some food is healthier, that eating the right foods is important for strength and energy. She knows that she’s growing and getting bigger. She knows we focus on her growth.

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So why would being big be a bad thing?

It was bedtime, the end of a long day, not the right time to get into the fat talk with my daughter. Should I use myself as an example? That sometimes people are not healthy and changing the way they eat can make them healthier? I will try to stick to healthy vs not healthy. Fat does not mean healthy any more than thin does.

The fact is that my kid is healthy and she also happens to be skinny. She eats well – loves fruits and vegetables. She’s tall and keeps getting taller. Sometimes I wonder if people think she’s not mine there’s such a difference between us. She loves being active and she’s very strong. She has set herself a great path in life. One I don’t think I was ever on. I am one of those unhealthy people who needs to lose weight. I have been most of my life. I’m not as good at being active or eating the right things the way my kid seems to naturally be.

I’m not ready to colour the way she sees the world like that, and I’m trying to figure out a way to explain it that won’t, but I’ve got a whole culture to fight against.

 

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