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Last night I was lying in bed trying to sleep. This is a situation I’ve faced a lot recently because I’ve got a lot of things on my mind.

School starts tomorrow, I’m working two jobs. I’ve got this kid that I miss desperately when I can’t see her.

But last night something so strange happened. I was lying there and a small part of my brain asked ‘can you actually do this?’ another part shouted it down – Of course you can, you have no choice.

The fact is that I’ve done this before, it’s been hard. I’ve done a lot of hard things. I get them done. Because I have to. I refuse to fail.

Orientation starts in 24 hours.

Shots rang out

August 27th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal - (Comments Off)

I’ve been thinking about the shooting in Virginia a lot today. It’s not the worst one – and I’m really sad to say that, two people having lost their lives live on television. But I will never forget the day of Sandy Hook. Never.

But today Joe sent me a note about this shooting when the news broke, and I went to Twitter to find out what was going on, because I’m a newshound and I like to keep as informed as possible. And that’s when I found out that not only were these two young people, they were two people who were in romantic relationships with colleagues (just like Joe and me) and that the cameraman’s fiancee was in the control room, watching live when the shots rang out and the screaming started.

And I can picture her sitting there, trying to think of everything that could be happening that wasn’t the worst possible thing.

I cannot begin to imagine losing Joe at all. But to imaging losing him in a brutal crime like that, witnessing it happening. I just can’t. It hurts me just to try to put myself in those shoes.

What makes it all worse is the inevitability of it. Something like this was bound to happen. There will probably be copycats. People trying to become infamous. And I won’t be surprised then either.

I will continue to not be surprised by mass killings and politicians who talk a big game but can’t actually face down the gun lobby. I will continue to not be surprised that their are Americans who think a 200 year old document provides them with the right to carry an automatic weapon and that that right is more important that thousands of lives each year. (And by the way – more guns does equal more deaths).

I can’t pretend Canada is above all this. We’ve had our Polytechnique and our Dawson College. My own hometown proved not to be immune last October and it shook me to the core. We have bad cops and racism too. We have our problems to fix and that I will never deny.

But at least I believe that we’ll actually try to fix them.

Gone again

August 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off)

We buried my Dad today. The wooden box chosen as an urn looked very small. Smaller, even, than the last time I saw it. And we left him there with his parents and maternal grandparents. Family in a family town.

It’s hard to believe it was so long ago, and such a short time ago, that we got the news and started reacting.

When I went in to see him at the visitation I talked to him and I told him how angry I was, because I wasn’t done with him. We weren’t done yet. My daughter wasn’t done with her Grandpa yet – and dammit he was a better grandfather than he was a father.

It occurred to me today that part of the reason I wasn’t done is that I have now lost a huge part of myself I still had to figure out.

We were getting there. I was getting over being angry and wanting him to be someone that he just wasn’t. I had figured out that a lot of the barrier between us was my own doing.

So now I’m sitting in regret. Regret for things I will now never be able to fix.

Why did it take me so long to realize that he didn’t have pictures of me up around his house because I had never given him any?

Why didn’t I ask him to please stay for pictures after my wedding?

Why didn’t I get pictures of him with my daughter every time they were together?

Why didn’t I ever get a chance to apologize and ask for an apology?

But there are things I’m glad of and lessons to learn. And because I know how much like him I am, I also know the strength I had. I can find his confidence, his determination.

When he was in his 60s his doctor told him he had to change his entire life – every habit – if he didn’t want to die. And he did. Somewhere in me, there is that. I just have to dig a bit.

Marathon

It’s been four years now and I remember almost every second of that day – from dropping my Blackberry when I saw the news, crying on my husband’s shoulder to heading downtown and being with all of your great people at the candlelight vigil and taking solace in just talking about you.

I didn’t realize it was this day. For some reason I thought it was later in the month, that’s why it hit me so hard, I think, to realize that we’re burying my father this same weekend.

Two men who influenced my life in different ways.

In his files there were a dozen or so letters to his sister in Denmark and there was one I found with a line about me, after you had died – “She cared a great deal about Jack Layton.”

And it’s true. I think most people who knew you and liked you felt the same. You made people feel special. You made us feel part of something special.

Of course, what I’ve discovered over the past year is that I still care a great deal about the things that you talked about. I still have passion to give there, and I will.

(I’ve learned since May 2 that I cared a great deal about my father too).

In just about two weeks I’ll be starting my Masters program. When I first told my Dad about it he said “Oh, you should do that.” And I think you would be happy to see young progressives joining in the movement to do politics better.

You left us your legacy Jack, and I’m keeping up with the team you had around you, people I like and admire, and I’d have to say we’ve got this.

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It has been a struggle in this house for the past couple of weeks. The summer has really messed with the kid and she’s been having a lot of trouble going to sleep at night since we got home from the family reunion. As a result she’s been overtired almost all the time.

The past two nights though, have been something special. All this time I’ve been telling people how much I’ve enjoyed five. Five has been good to us. She’s been good to us. But these past two nights have turned into rage and yelling. Screaming and slamming doors. She goes 0-150 in 2.5 seconds.

And it really, really sucks.

You see, I haven’t been feeling like a very good parent for the past few weeks. She can be exhausted, and I’m already tired most of the time. She never stops moving and she wants attention and it’s hard to get down and play with her when I know there are other things I could/should/want to be doing.

But tonight, after she had calmed down a bit from her rage, after we had talked it out a bit and shared some hugs, after we got her back into her bed without tears. Tonight she quietly opened her door and said: “Mommy…”

“Mommy, I feel like you don’t really care about me.”

She didn’t say it to be hurtful, she wasn’t trying to get back at me, she wasn’t angry. She was matter of fact. And I didn’t know what to say. Just telling her that of course I care about her didn’t seem like enough.

But how do you explain? How can you every explain?

So years from now, if she finds this, if she’s doubting me again, if she feels that way I can say this:

I love you so much I would die for you, but I’m afraid to die because I would miss you so much.

I love you more than I even thought I was capable of loving anything or anyone.

When you were born I fell in love with you and it was so overwhelming I would burst into tears just watching you. And I thought that was as much as I could love you, but as it turns out I love you even more every year.

I spend all my time thinking about you and worrying about you and wondering about you and watching you and being amazed at you.

I love you so much, I care so much for you, that it seems as though no one could ever really understand how deeply I feel it.

I love you so much that I have to fight every urge to give you everything you ask for and make everything easy because I know that you will be a better human being in the end if I do that for you.

Everything I do, I do with you in mind. I try to make our lives better. I try to be better for you. I do care.

And someday I know you’ll believe me.

Together we're awesome

Together we’re awesome

Tourism in my hometown

August 15th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal | Sponsored - (Comments Off)

When I first got the email from Ford about the Focus on my City campaign I was excited to drive around Ottawa and explore. Doing it all in an electric car was just a bonus.

Now I have a problem. Because I know that the Ford Focus electric would be a perfect second car for us when one of us has to commute. And it’s also really fun to drive.

REALLY fun to drive.

I decided to spend my Focus on my City day with my mom. We picked up the car and headed to Art Is In Bakery and had wonderfully buttery croissants and coffee. (Well, I had coffee. My mother, inexplicably, doesn’t drink coffee.)

We also bought some of their wonderful bread to take home.

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Then we headed over the bridge to the Gatineau side (seriously, have you really taken in that view of Parliament from the bridges? Postcard perfect).

We headed out to Le Nordik spa to spend some time in the baths. Le Nordik is a beautiful space, and getting there was a beautiful drive. But when we did get there it appeared that everyone else had thought about spending their day in the baths at Le Nordik. The parking lots were full and the line was to the door.

We debated whether we would actually be able to relax with this many people sharing the experience with us and decided to move on to stop number three.

To get there we had to drive through a bit of Gatineau Park, and I felt a lot less guilty passing all the cyclists knowing I was in an electric car…

IMG_7483If you’ve never been up to Kingsmere, it’s a beautiful place that also happens to be full of history. We had made a reservation for high tea but there was no problem with our being early.

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The traditional tea comes with a three-tiered platter of treats. The scones were so delicious (and still warm from the oven) that we bought half a dozen to take home, along with some of their jam.

There’s lots of space to explore at the Mackenzie King Estate. The fake ruins are of particular interest because that’s a really weird thing for a Prime Minister to build. Of course, walking up to the tea room there was also a picture of King with his two dogs, who he reportedly tried to communicate with through his medium, so what is weird, really?

As we wound our way back into the city I checked on our battery status – really liked the console in this car, especially since I was using the GPS and my directions were right in front of me.

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I calculated that we had enough power left to head home and give Joe, who is a fan of cars in general, and the kid a short ride.

Whenever we’ve driven other cars, Joe always misses the pick up that our VW has. When you’re getting on the highway or you have to pass someone you know you’ve got the power. I wanted to demonstrate that this little Ford Focus, even though it’s electric, has no trouble getting up to speed quickly.

And I also I wanted to drive it a bit more.

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I was sad to return this one after just one day of adventure. It was a fun little car to drive, with all the tools and extras. I didn’t have to recharge it during our trick, but the car itself can help you find the nearest charging station. Given the size and storage space it could never be our primary car, but as a second car for community and running errands I’d highly recommend it.

Disclosure: Ford allowed me to borrow a Ford Focus Electric for the day as well as providing me with some spending money for our adventure. All opinions are my own. Check out #FordFocus on Twitter to see what kinds of adventures people are having near you. 

Too tired too much

August 12th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off)

I’m sitting here listening to my daughter cry. She’s in her room, in bed, throwing a wild tantrum because apparently she’s not tired. And also she’s still hungry. And also she wants someone to talk to and she can talk to her teddy, but she wants someone who will respond.

Her words by the way.

When she was a toddler and bedtime was the worst part of my day I assumed that it would get better as she got older. When it was still a struggle more often than not when she was a preschooler I thought that maybe when she learned to read it would finally be easier.

Now that she can read it’s still hard and I don’t know what the next solution will be.

It’s a constant battle. We’ve got a routine, we’ve tried different routines. We try to tire her out, we try to settle her down. I went to a pediatrician to talk about it. I have taken any and all advice.

When she was a baby there was more than one occasion that she woke up about two hours after we put her to bed and then just stayed awake until mid afternoon the next day. Before she was a year old she stopped napping regularly. My doctor told me that wasn’t possible. I told her it was with my kid.

This kid is just hard to put to bed. She hates it. She thinks too much and she plays too hard and she gets too worked up about the whole idea.

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Once she does eventually give in and falls asleep she sleeps deeply. But that doesn’t stop her from waking up first thing in the morning. Usually around 6:30. No matter what time she goes to bed. (Which is why we’ve always defaulted to putting her to bed early).

I assume she’ll figure it out eventually. I’m tired of reminding her how important sleep is for her growing body and her brain. I’m tired of reminding her when she gets very upset or frustrated that she’s probably over tired. She’s a smart kid, so really she knows.

She just hates to sleep. And she gets it from me.

Proficient in sports

August 9th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off)

The kid had her last soccer practice of the summer today. I first signed her up knowing that she 1) lives being outside 2) loves being active and especially 3) loves running.

After I had registered her and paid the fee she then told me that when she was sitting in the room with me and I was registering her and I told her what I was doing and asked her if she still wanted to play soccer and she said yes what she really meant was that she wanted to discuss it more and maybe she didn’t really want to.

But at the first session she had a blast and she continued to enjoy it every week (except for one unfortunate week).

And then this week she won the medal for being the fastest runner on the team.

Now, I know this is an ‘everybody gets a medal’ situation, which is not a trend I like very much. But our coach made a point of coming up with a different reason for every medal – best eyes on the field, best passer – and my kid had a huge smile on her face when she learned that she had been chosen specially as her team’s fastest runner.

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But what this summer of weekly soccer really showed me was that my kid is an athlete.

It’s something I would never, ever call myself. But there she is, out on a field, running with the other kids, making passes and blocking. And when she isn’t running around after the ball she’s standing in the corner of the field doing jumping jacks.

It’s a glorious thing, what she’s become. Tireless energy, strength, sense of adventure. It’s a great thing she can be for the rest of her life.

That’s better than the medal as far as I’m concerned.

On the road again

August 4th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off)

We are on our way home from the family reunion. As we live in the eastern and central part of the province and the family reunion is in the western and northern part of the province (but not the REALLY REALLY northern part) it takes us two and a half days to get back. We could do it in less, but that wouldn’t be good for the mental health of any of our dear travellers.

I love this country, I do, but it’s really big. So big. And Ontario. Man. Come on Ontario.

The good news is that it is beautiful. There is always something to look at as you roll along. For three days. And we didn’t even start at the bottom.

But the most beautiful part of the province we found on this drive was at the very end of it – Uncle Dave’s lake.

It’s a secluded little place, except for the many, many families members who travel there for the family reunion. Joe comes from a large family, which was supposed to be intimidating until I realized how much like my mother’s family they were. Moreover they are all decent, friendly people who just want to make you feel welcome. Especially when they know that their Joey cares about you. And especially when you bring them a very special kid that’s part of the next generation.

(And when that kid adorably plays with the cousin that was born on the exact same day).

Most important for me is that my kid gets to meet and have great memories with her great-grandparents. She has three living great-grandparents and that is special. (And I like to consider Joe’s grandparents mine). There’s just something about watching people love your child so much, it could make your heart burst.

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I was scared of this trip. I’m scared every time. The three of us, packed into a car. Making sure you have everything so you can get dressed properly for different weather, you can snack on the drive, the kid has enough to do. The long drive. The hoards of people when we get there. Late nights, outdoor toilets, bug bites, sun burns.

This particular trip was harder for me because we found out just before we left that yeah, probably the writ was going to drop while we were away. And then when we got here cell service went down. So instead of having a spotty internet connection up at the lake I had no internet connection at all except borrowing my mother-in-law’s cell data.

And the writ was dropping. That’s my thing. I’m supposed to be on top of the news.

But…

In actual fact, we watched the news and saw the first press conferences. And then we went to breakfast (and I had bannock French bread and it was amazing and seriously if you’re ever in Dryden go here). And then we went up to the lake and we talked and ate and swam and watched the kids play and I didn’t even think about it for most of the day.

In fact, what I kept thinking about was that we can’t wait another two years for the next one.

Relaxed

Relaxed

Happy Birthday Mr. Goddard

July 26th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off)

Today is my grandfather’s 95th birthday. I’ve written here before about how important he’s been in my life, but a 95th birthday is worth sharing some more.

My parents separated when I was three and after that my mother’s parents stepped in to help her whenever they could. That was my family – sister, mother, Tutu and Gramps. They took care of us at our house, we slept over at their house, we all went on trips together.

I still love the smell of pipe smoke because it takes me right back to sitting on my grandfather’s lap while he read us the comics from the newspaper before he and Tutu put us to bed when we slept over. I still love the smell of coffee because it takes me right back to the mornings after those sleepovers and the huge piles of pancakes.

But me and my Gramps? We had a special relationship. I looked up to him, I always wanted to impress him and make him proud. I loved doing what he was doing.

Me and my Gramps in Peggy's Cove, 1990

Me and my Gramps in Peggy’s Cove, 1990, Sketching

He was the one who taught me so many things. He was the one who helped me through so many situations. He is the person who’s advice I seek when I’m having a really hard time.

And he is the one who’s pride I never, ever doubted.

Because of how much I looked up to my grandfather I also immediately looked up to whoever I saw him admire. And when I was a kid I saw how much my grandfather admired Ed Broadbent.

When I was a kid my uncle worked on the hill in Mr. Broadbent’s office. At one point Mr. Broadbent was looking to have a desk built, and my uncle suggested Gramps. Gramps, descended from a cabinet maker, had been building us beautiful things all my life. He designed built-in bookshelves in my parents house, he made my sister and I both monogrammed toy boxes when we were born. It made sense.

So one day, when I was young, I got to go and meet Ed and Lucille Broadbent at their home, one day they came to our home, he and my grandfather exchanged letters and in turn my grandfather spoke of Mr. Broadbent with great respect.

If this man who meant so much to me was a New Democrat, and if he believed in Ed Broadbent, then I was going to be a New Democrat who believed in Ed Broadbent.

I can’t give all the credit for my political involvement to Gramps, of course. Both of my parents were politically involved and my family is full of smart people who talk about issues and news and politics openly and passionately.

One of the best things about my Gramps turning 95 is that he has had five long years to know my daughter. They first met when we went out to Regina to visit him for his 90th birthday and I wasn’t sure if he would ever see her again. Five years later not only has he gotten to spend much more time with her since moving back to Ottawa, she is now at an age where she will remember him. That is the best gift I could have received. Besides the love that I see in his eyes every time I catch him watching her in awe. And then I can tell that she’s the best gift I could have shared with him. Her, my family and our happiness.

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