Bored? Board

We are a board game family. Before the kid was born Joe and I were on a trivia team, we hosted and attended game nights. No one can beat team Boughner at Trivial Pursuit. Because of this I was very excited when I realized that the kid was finally aging into board games. She likes Candyland, loves Guess Who? and Yahtzee. For a little while Uno was a nightly activity. While Grandma and Grandpa were here there were a couple of rousing games of Monopoly Junior.

Since she seems to like games, and it’s something we can enjoy doing together, I started looking for games that would help her in her quest to read. I picked one out of the Scholastic flyer that we’ve played a few times, but the real winner is one I happened upon at a local store.

I will mention here that this is NOT a sponsored post, I just have become a big fan of ThinkFun’s Zingo Word Builder game.

You get a card with pieces of three letter words, and then you get tiles and you have to use your tiles to try to fill in the spaces on your card. One side of the card has three letter words missing just one letter, the other side has words with just one letter to make it a bit harder. You have to get two letters at once.

Sounding it out

Sounding it out

While the kid has not so far had a lot of patience to sit with me and really sound out words, she does has the patience to do that with me in the context of the game. It’s awesome.

Dear Kid

I know you have been having bad days lately. These past two weeks have been very hard for me too. I miss you. It’s been a very quick change between lots of time together and a lot less.

You’re my baby girl and sometimes I get a feeling in my heart, knowing that things are changing so quickly, you’re changing. You used to never leave my side and now it seems you’re almost never there any more.

My favourite thing when you were a baby was sitting down with you at the dining room table, me on my laptop and you in your high chair, and I could watch you and talk to you and drink my coffee. It was our morning routine.

This morning you got very upset with me because you didn’t have enough time to do anything. You wanted to play, but we had to catch the bus. I want you to understand that I know it’s not fair, it’s not easy and I don’t like it either, but you and I are doing what we have to do.

My baby girl, my poor little girl. You’re such a sensitive kid and you get hurt when other kids might not mean to hurt you. As you grow up hopefully you will better understand what other people mean and how they are feeling. You’re so smart and sensitive, I know you will always struggle with controlling your emotions, just like me. It can be an asset, but it can make things hard.

I like to believe that when you come home and tell me you had a bad day it’s because of one bad thing that sticks in your mind. That’s how my brain works. I know that when I talk to you about your days you do have good things to say. You’re learning, you’re singing songs and playing and speaking French.

I’m learning too, and it’s exciting and I like to think that even though it’s taking me away from you right now, sometimes, we will both benefit in the end.

I still love you more than I can even believe, and I hope you still know that.

We go together

We go together

Passion is

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If there is one question I have most definitely answered in my return to a university campus it is that yes, I picked the right degree.

You see, when I left high school I had a plan. I spent my Grade 13 year working two coops that were supposed to help my on my route to becoming an athletic therapist. I wanted to work for professional sports teams. I was going to get my degree, and then go to college for three years, and then take professional testing, and have a career. I applied to three universities for kinesiology and got into one. That should have been a clue. But I made my plans and off I went… And back I came.

Before classes had even started.

You know when it strikes you, all of a sudden, that you’re making a mistake?

And the fact was everyone around me knew I was making a mistake. I called my dad to tell him I was not, in fact, a student at York University, and all he said was “well that was fast.”

So I found a job and I took a year off – something I’m going to encourage my daughter to do – and I changed my mind. I applied to three colleges, I chose my program and off I went to print journalism. And it was awesome. I loved all my classes, my professors, the friends I made. We worked hard, I excelled. After I graduated I applied for job after job after job and I finally landed one. The first job was not right for me. I found another job in journalism.

Four months in I quit and applied to university.

This time I looked through the course calendar and I picked out the degree program that had the most courses that seemed interesting to me. Hello Political Science.

The marriage I have made of journalism and political science is where I was supposed to end up. There is no doubt in my mind. And now I even get the chance to specialize. All of my professors are encouraging us to focus ourselves and I’m jumping at the chance.

I’m ready now.

In two years I will have my B.A. (Hons) and my Masters in Political Management and I will have spent those years focussed on political advocacy, and particularly on women’s issues and Aboriginal issues. And nothing can stop me now.

Survival of the fittest

I think the key to surviving this year of university is to remind myself that I am now 33, unfit and a mother.

The last time I did this I was 23. I didn’t have anyone but me to worry about, not in first year anyway. I had an on-campus job, for which I missed a lot of classes. Now I have a whole house full of people to talk care of, I have a little seedling of a business. And I have my health to worry about.

In order to get through this push through school I need to switch things up. I can’t live the way I did when I was a student in my 20s, and I can’t live the way I did when I was a work at home mom, taking contracts where could find them. I have multiple top priorities now – school, work and parenting – and I need to make sure I have what it takes to stay on top of at least those three things. I’d also like to stay on top of housework, exercise and my marriage, but I think three top priorities is what I can start with.

So I need to remember:

1) Sleep

I’m used to late nights. I have always been better at working at night, my brain seems to switch on later in the day. But I now have a little girl who likes to be up and going early, as well as two 8:30 am seminars. Thinking all day is exhausting.

Late at night I often manage to forget how horrible it feels to be trying to get through the day without enough sleep. I suck at putting myself to bed. I’m almost as bad at getting myself to sleep as my daughter is… maybe worse.

2)  Fuel

I’m terrible at eating too. I’m the kind of person who is bad at eating breakfast, and I am also the kind of person who will forget to eat lunch. It’s especially hard when eating involves packing food and carrying it with me. I stumbled. often. When I do remember to eat, it’s not always the best fuel. I need fruit and vegetables, I need protein for my brain. And I definitely need less bread and less sugar. The sugar crash is the known enemy of the 12-hour day.

3) Fun

I have 15 hours of lecture a week. I have travel time to and from campus. There will be studying and assignments to do. I have at least two and a half hours of work every day. I have this child that demands attention.

It’s easiest to cut out reading a novel or going to a movie, especially when I feel guilty already for the time I’m spending outside the house, but if I don’t do some things just for me I’m going to go crazy, and that won’t be good for my studies or my family.

4) Exercise

I have time. There are parts of the week when I don’t have to be in class, when the kid is in school. I have time to get to the gym or go downstairs to my treadmill. I know how much better I feel when I do. It relieves stress, it helps me think, and it makes me feel better about myself. My first week, last week, I spent this down time napping, which I needed, because holy build up of stress, but there I time when I sat at my computer playing a game and trying to think of what I could write my essays about. You know what? Inspiration will probably come quicker on the Spinning bike.

That’s not too complicated, right? I mean, if I’m going to be a B.A. Hons, I can probably handle those four things.

Higher education

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Before going back to university this year I graduated college with a 2-year diploma and a 3-year degree. In 2007 I owed almost $40,000 for my education. My tuition for my last year of university was about $4,600. My tuition for this year of university is almost $7,000. That increase happened in 7 years. 

Back in the classroom

Back in the classroom

When our daughter was born Joe and I knew that we wanted to start saving for her education. Neither of us wants to force her into university, but we want her options to be open. When she finishes high school she can take some time off, she can go to college or she can choose university. The money will be there for her because we opened an RESP and we’ve been putting money into that account every month. The contributions fit into our budget now, and they’ll add up nicely since we started so early. And, of course, we can increase contributions as our income allows.

The RESP is also a great place for monetary gifts from family to go.

The great news is that if she gets scholarships or chooses a different path, that money can go right into our RRSP for our retirement. Even better? The government will help out too – The Canada Education Savings Grant will match up to 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually. It’s a win-win. You can learn more about all aspect of RESPs from RBC. RBC understands that your child’s future is one of the most important things to you and is offering resources to help you make the best decisions.

RBC is hosting a Twitter party on October 1 and you can join in with the hashtag #RESPwithRBC and have the chance to win one of 6 $100 gift cards. RBC is also having a contest, Grow Your RESP with RBC, and you could win $500 towards your child’s future. You can enter here.

One of the most important things for me is that my daughter has all her options open when she’s done high school, without debt factoring in to her decisions.

Off she goes, wherever she wants

Off she goes, wherever she wants

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

One week down

It’s 8 am and I am early for a class for which I have no completed the readings. It’s been a very busy week and I’ve been doing okay until last night I remembered that this class already started last week and probably was actually starting, you know, the work part of things.

I missed the first class because it was the kid’s first day of school and I had to put her on the bus and then spend some time freaking out about how quiet the house is.

And then on Monday I snuck into her room to kiss her goodbye before I left for my full day of classes. I don’t think she knew that she wasn’t going to see me at all that day. After two years of being a team, Daddy was going to put her on her bus, get her off the bus, get her dinner and then to bed, and I wouldn’t see her or play with her or really interact with her for a full day.

And when I put her on the bus on Tuesday morning there were lots of tears and some begging. She was desperate to not get on the bus. She missed me, she said. “Mommy” she cried. And I had to get her on the bus and walk away.

Last night the thoughts creeped into my mind – this is stupid, what am I doing, I should just quit. I need to be there for her, my brain said. I’m being selfish, and I’m wearing myself down and she’s going to hate me forever.

But you know what? She’s learning French. She’s making friends. She’s a big fan of her teacher. My classes are interesting and I have goals in mind. I’ve got assignments that are going to be awesome and at the end of the year my kid will come to watch me walk across the stage.

Because do you know what she told the other parents at the bus stop on Monday morning when Daddy was the one dropping her off?

“It’s my mommy’s first day of school.”

Collegiate

School starts tomorrow. I’m going to be back on campus, heading to classes, doing my readings and working on assignments.

My backpack is packed, my lunch is waiting in the fridge, my first class is at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

This time at university is different for a lot of reasons. When I went back in 2004 I was older than the other students, but now I’m much older. I found my first grey hair a week or so ago.

Could I pass for 20?

Could I pass for 20?

I have a kid and a husband and a mortgage. I’m taking these classes for a specific reasons – I need to finish my honours year, with the grades and the references from my professors to get into my Masters program.

I picked my classes based on how they fit into a schedule so that I could be home to meet the bus as often as possible and fill all the degree requirements. I have already starting thinking about my assignments – and I’m really excited. I’m incorporating the work that I do into the assignments to that when I finish my degree I will have that much more of a knowledge base.

This is a very exciting time.

But at the same time, the other kids in the class are going to know right off the bat that I’m different. They’ll know I’m older, they’ll know I wasn’t in their classes last year – and I’m probably going to be pretty talkative.

It’s a whole new world.

Stupid, dangerous and illegal

The other day my daughter and I were sitting on our front step talking. It was a school day for most kids, but she’s going through this weird kindergarten staggered thing, so we just watched the buses go by. A lot of the school buses for our neighbourhood stop just in front of the park that’s a few doors down. As we sat there I watched a man in a red truck drive in the direction of the park. He was clearly texting. I called him out on our neighbourhood Facebook group, hoping he would see the note.

Yesterday I was driving behind a man holding his phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Last week at Ikea I saw a man driving while texting with a woman in his backseat holding a baby on her lap – I still wish I had gotten a license plate.

Tonight I was at Costco. As I was loading up my car I noticed a woman pulling out of her spot with her phone to her ear. I made the gesture of a phone, shaking my head and as she drove by she gave me the finger.

The thing is, this is my neighbourhood. My daughter now rides a school bus around here, the children of my neighbourhood are riding their bikes, walking with their friends and playing.

Why should I stand by while you do something stupid, dangerous, illegal and unnecessary?

Seeing red

This post was brought to you by Act On Red, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit www.actonred.ca.

As long as I remember I have gotten bright red every time I exercise. As a kid it was always horribly embarrassing. I would sit in math class, which I had right after gym in Grade 9, and feel the heat in my face and I knew I looked like a tomato.

It’s something I’ve gotten used to, something I’m even proud of, but a few month ago my face was red all over even when I wasn’t physically exerting myself. At first I thought it was a reaction to a product, but when I stopped using the one new thing I had been nothing changed. My skin was red and itchy and I started feeling terrible about myself. The red blotches were all I could see when I looked in the mirror, and I was aware of my red face all the time.

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I finally got to the doctor and got a solution. She took one look at me and told me: “Yep, rosacea.”

She gave me a prescription, but not much other information. It wasn’t until I posted about the diagnosis on social media that friends who had also experienced rosacea told me more about what causes it. Mine probably had something to do with stress.

In fact the flushing that I’ve always experienced due to exercise was probably rosacea – flushing is one of the three most common symptoms along with persistent redness and visible blood vessels. According to a recent study, heat causes 39 per cent of rosacea outbreaks.

The prescription I got worked quickly and the redness was gone within a week or two, but now I know the persistent redness, which 70 per cent of rosacea sufferers experience, can come back because of those same triggers.

I had a great resource in a friend and a family member who had both experienced rosacea, but not everyone is so lucky. That’s why I was glad to hear about the new website Act on Red [http://www.actonred.ca/rosacea], which offers tips about what causes rosacea and what you can do about it.

I suffered longer than I needed to, looking for solutions by myself rather than just going to see my doctor. Really it was a quick diagnosis and a fairly easy solution. Now I can point others who may be feeling embarrassed to this site and maybe they’ll help themselves.

This post was brought to you by Act On Red, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit www.actonred.ca.

Eager Beaver

“I was completely the eager beaver in school, I was the girl in the front of the class who was the first person to put her hand up, and it’s often not cool to be the person that puts themself out there, and I’ve often gotten teased mercilessly, but I found that ultimately if you truly pour your heart into what you believe in — even if it makes you vulnerable — amazing things can and will happen.” – Emma Watson

I was always a kid who loved school. I’m a reader, I like to learn. I was always glad for the first day of school. New teacher, new projects. I always liked to be seen as smart, but I wasn’t always very loud in class. Until I reached college I didn’t speak out much, I didn’t raise my hand a lot. I was the type of kid who would sit in my seat hoping to be chosen by the teacher to go to the board or read out loud but never actually volunteering in case people realized that I was a keener.

I don’t know what changed for me in college. I guess I was allowed to break out of the box I had been in having been with the same kids from kindergarten through high school. Suddenly I was in a new place, with new people and no pre-determined view of me. I wasn’t afraid to raise my hand. I was proud to be the smart kid. I was outspoken. I knew what I wanted.

It changes when you get to choose exactly what you’re doing, you know what you’re there to learn and what your end goal is. But when I went back to university the first time I had no idea what my end goal was. I wanted a degree. That simple. I knew that I needed a degree to get the kind of job I was looking at, so I picked a degree that had a lot of classes I thought would be interesting and I went for it.

Now I’m going back to get my Masters in something that I’m really excited about. I know I will be interested in my classes, but I picked them because they fit into my schedule, because I need days off to work and I need time to be home for my kid.

But I’m still going to excel.

I do sit in the front of the classroom, and I join in discussions and I raise my hand. I have an opinion, I have lots of life experience and I really don’t give a damn what the other students think, because I’m in school to get the most out of it for me.

I hope that I can demonstrate to my daughter that being smart and being interested is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s something I want her to learn long before I did.

You will find your people, you will find your passions. The ones who mind don’t matter and the ones who matter don’t mind.

My people

My people

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