Something good

Something nice happened in our neighbourhood today. I was sitting in my office, working away on an essay when I saw the lady who has been staying there – I don’t know if it’s his mother or hers – standing at the front window, watching outside.

I saw the car pull in to the driveway. I saw him get out of the front seat, and, just as I expected, she got out of the back.

They were finally bringing home their new baby.

These neighbours have been living across the street for a sort time, but we’ve gotten to know them a little bit. The kid has become a fan of theirs. We see them out on walks, her bump getting bigger and bigger. The kid took them one of her baby toys – a Peter Rabbit that plays a lullaby. She’s a big fan of babies.

When I went to check the mail I met him out on the sidewalk. He looks elated. He told me they had a little girl, he told me her name, he needed no prompting.

It occurred to me later that when I see him again I will tell him she’s welcome here, anytime she just needs to get out of the house or having an adult conversation we will have a cup of coffee for her.

I want to tell him that she needs to listen to all the people telling her to take it easy these first few days, because I didn’t and I paid the price.

I want to impart all the knowledge that I’ve gleaned in the almost five years that I’ve managed to parent through – like the fact that on those days when you just need to be away from them, when you feel like you’re terrible and they’re terrible and you just can’t do it anymore? On those days they will eventually fall asleep and when they do you will miss them so much you can’t help but go in and kiss them on the forehead.

But at the same time I know that there’s just so much that they will figure out for themselves and that’s part of the magic.

This isn't their baby, it's mine. She's big now.

This isn’t their baby, it’s mine. She’s big now.

Broadway Baby

The movie Frozen has granted me a great opportunity with my daughter. It has opened the door to musicals.

I have been a long-time fan of musical theatre. When I was 9 or 10 my mother took my sister and me to Toronto and we saw Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages. We next saw Cats and then Les Miserables, which my sister and I would then play in the backyard. I took to listening to any Andrew Lloyd Webber I could find.

Since I saw Phantom I have had the privilege of seeing many other shows – Tommy, Hairspray, Miss Saigon, Spamalot, Mamma Mia, Book of Mormon…

And Wicked. Three times.

I love Wicked. I was first introduced to it watching the Tony Awards – Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth performed Defying Gravity and I knew I needed to see that show. So when I was back in Ottawa and it started playing in Toronto I took myself. I took the bus to Toronto by myself, got off the bus and went to the theatre, then got back on the bus after the show and came home.

I lose myself in Broadway shows. Every year I watch the Tonys and dream of going to New York for two or three weeks and seeing as many shows as I can.

I was showing my daughter the video of Kristin Bell singing Do You Want to Build a Snowman? live (which if you haven’t seen is pretty great). Next to the video there were related links, one of which was to Idina Menzel singing Defying Gravity.

I love that song. It speaks to me. It’s bravery and strength but not without fear. It’s saying that if something is important enough you might have to leave people behind if they don’t understand.

Someday I’m going to take my daughter to see Wicked, partly because I love it so damn much and partly because it says so much to me about female relationships and feminism.

So while I had her in my lap and we were already watching videos I clicked on that link and I played Defying Gravity for my kid. Someday she’ll really hear it.

I think her started musical will probably be Mathilda though. She loves those songs and what a great message there too.

That’s live musical, of course, there will be so many movie musicals too – Annie, Hello Dolly, Rent, Hairspray… How do I decide when she’s old enough?

Stream into 2015

Disclosure: Staples Canada provided me with a Chromecast for the purposes of this post. 

I am a movie lover. For a long time settling in with a great movie has been my way to unwind, to stop thinking for a little while and escape into a different world.

There are movies for everything – if you feel like crying, being scared, laughing, being stupid. Everything.

When my daughter was newborn I would take the opportunity to get out of the house every Thursday to go to Stars and Strollers at the local theatre. I saw some movies that I didn’t really want to see, but that was what was playing.

I hoped that this would lead to my daughter loving movies as much as me. In fact, she does like going to the theatre, but mostly because she gets popcorn. She often tells me after the fact that she didn’t like the actual films.

She’s told me… more than once… that she doesn’t like the Muppets.

GASP

I mean, why is she trying to hurt me?

The Muppet Family Christmas is the movie that we watch while we decorate our tree. This is a tradition in our family that started before the kid was born and it certainly isn’t going to stop now no matter what she says.

And so I am on the hunt for great movies that we will both love, which is why I’m thrilled to be a part of the Staples Canada Stream Into 2015 campaign. Staples sent me a Google Chromecast and some movie snacks to share. Now I can stream my Netflix to the TV and show my daughter all the movies I think she should love.

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This month we will be settling in, watching movies and trying to bring this kid around to my way of thinking. Netflix has some great ones on offer. I can introduce her to Elf, The Grinch and the classic Frosty the Snowman. I’ve never seen Arthur Christmas, but Hugh Laurie’s voice is in it.

The kid announced when we got out first snow last week that this meant it’s almost Christmas and almost her birthday. And that means I need to grow my list of must watch movies for my 4-year-old.

Popcorn at the ready

Popcorn at the ready

We’re all set here, so please leave me comments and tell me about your family classics. In my family White Christmas and Holiday Inn are annual musts, and I love Scrooged, but that might be a little mature for the kid…

If it were just me? The Family Stone is a recent addition to my ‘holiday feelings’ movies, along with Love, Actually and Die Hard. Obviously.

You can see what other people are watching with the #StreamInto2015 hashtag.

What holiday movie were you excited to show your child for the first time?

We’re not alike

One of the biggest struggles I’m having being 32 and back in school is the people around me. I try not to judge, I try to remember who I was the first time around – even then I was older than most of my classmates.

I have always liked school. I have always strived to be on top of things. I want people to think I’m smart. I want to get good grades.

I am not afraid to talk in class, to ask questions that other people might think are stupid. I’ve talked about that before.

The real struggles are the people with priorities so vastly different from my own. Maybe it’s because I’m given up so much to be here – time with my daughter, time for my business, a balanced budget at home. My house is messy, our meal plan usually falls apart by the end of the week, every weekend my kid is upset because I have to spend some time locked in the office trying to get work done.

But I’m pretty sure that even the last time I would have been angry with people who get their friends to sign them in on the attendance so they can skip class and not lose the 10 per cent participation mark. Confounded by people who sign up for a presentation and then opt not to show up.

There are kids who, even in third and fourth year classes, don’t understand the value of the education they are getting.

I am not here just to pass. I am here to understand and discuss and get better. I have taken the opportunity to be here, and every day I am reminded of what I am missing out on, and that means that while I’m trying hard to not judge the conversations I hear around me, I can’t help but wonder what these kids will think of their university experience 10 years from now.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Learnin'

Learnin’

When I did my three year degree there was one class that I specifically didn’t take, though I knew it was a requirement for the four year degree. In the three year program I had the choice between taking this class, Research Methods, or Political Philosophy. I took Political Philosophy, which is very heavy stuff, but basically literature, which I know I can do.

Research Methods.

Years ago I considered myself good at math. Algebra. I loved algebra. Then they introduced trigonometry and geometry and there were all these formulas and everything was confused. I cannot graph things.

Research Methods is statistics, broadly. It’s how to do research and studies used to do research and come to conclusions and a lot of that is about data.

So these two semesters, as I finish my honours year, the one class that I absolutely had to take to fulfill my requirements was Research Methods. It’s a second year class, so it shouldn’t be intimidating, given that I have taken and passed third and fourth year classes in the past, but this one is different.

Numbers. Damn am I intimidated.

At this point I have no idea if I’m struggling because I have been thinking about the fact that I didn’t take this class for so many years, if I’m over-thinking everything, or if the material is just too damn hard for my brain, so used to the soft sciences.

I am hovering above the topic. I know that when I get it, I will get it. But right now I don’t get it. I do, however, have a professor who wants me to get it, and I’m planning on taking advantage of that fact before the exam.

Sitting in this huge lecture hall before class starts, I called home to talk to my kid who I won’t get to see tonight – I’m on campus until 9 pm. She asked me what I think her favourite part of the day at school is, and while I was trying to think of what her class does on Mondays she went ahead and told me:

“It’s when I get answers wrong.”

“When you get answers wrong?”

“Yeah. Because then I’m learning.”

Damn kid is smarter than me.

Tradition

When I was a kid we used to go to this apple orchard every fall. It so happens that this orchard is quite close to where we now live, and I now have the chance to take my kid there every fall to get local McIntosh apples, cider and a pumpkin.

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Apples 3 2

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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.

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