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I went to get my hair cut yesterday. My hairstylist is awesome. I’ve never had such easy conversations with someone cutting my hair – I’m not very good with small talk. But with Ali the conversation just flows – she’s funny and interesting, and very good at what she does. She also does my mother’s hair and I’ve told my sister to go to her.

While we talked last night about all the goings on in our lives I mentioned that my father had died, which I guess she hadn’t realized. And at one point in the conversation – hairstylist as therapist – I mentioned that I was always so much like my Dad that I didn’t think I’d ever be a good mother. She knew what I meant and she told me that’s ridiculous. My Mom tells her a lot about the kid and what a good kid she is and I found myself doing something that I think needs a bit more thought on my part.

Instead of agreeing that yes, I am a pretty damn good mom, I deflected – she’s just a good kid. We’re lucky.

But Ali told me something that I already know, when I reflect on it: The kid is such a good kid, and growing up to be a pretty great person, because of the time we’ve spent together and the things I have helped teach her. We’ve done so many things, her and I. I’ve done things I never would have done pre-child. Pushed myself out of my comfort zone to make her happy, to decrease her chances of being as socially awkward as me.

And in the course of it, she’s taught me a hell of a lot. And I’ve become less socially awkward, more confident and more comfortable outside of my comfort zone.

We’re a team. We have been since the start. And we make each other better.

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My kid loves science. She loves experiments. She loves learning in general. (Though she also seems to think she already knows everything sometimes). All of this means that I am very excited to take her to Maker Faire to see what she thinks.

On November 7 and 8 a whole bunch of uber creative and imaginative people are getting together to show off and I full expect my daughter to wander around yelling “COOL” the entire time we visit.

It’s science, technology, 3D printing, art – a room full of creators who are keen to share what they know and what they love. And maybe, just maybe, their interest will spur something in my kid.

I suspect she’ll come home with a few ideas for new projects she wants to try out.

http://makerfaireottawa.com/about-maker-faire/

About the Event:

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement.  It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers.  They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.

The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2015 celebrated its tenth annual show with some 1100 makers and 145,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in four years to 600+ makers and 80,000 attendees.  Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Silver Spring, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Hannover, Oslo, Trondheim, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Newcastle (UK), Shenzhen and now Ottawa are the home of larger-scale, “featured” Maker Faires and over 120 community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world.

You can find more information on the event here

So YOUNG and So BOSSY

October 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on So YOUNG and So BOSSY)

I woke up this morning to a beautiful sort of Twitter essay from one Michelle Rempel, newly re-elected MP for Calgary – Nose Hill. If you watch any of the political panel shows then you know Rempel. She was one of the only spokespeople the Conservative Party sent out to respond to issues on those shows.

She is generally respectful, well-spoken and knowledgeable. I found it almost impossible that she was so prepared to talk about so much during the campaign day by day.

Last night Rempel took to Twitter to express herself a bit on the messages she’s been getting as a woman in politics. While some people are encouraging her to run to be the new leader of her party, some are sending her an entirely different message. A message she wouldn’t be getting if she were a man:

I cannot express how much I loved to see this strong, powerful woman speaking out like this. It means so much. Perhaps more knowing that Michelle Rempel is one of Megan Leslie’s very good friends, despite the differing party stances. Knowing that makes me respect both of them more, because those are the kind of politics we need. Women lifting other women up.

I hope we hear more soon. We need women like this standing up. And if you think we don’t, you’re wrong.

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It’s all over, the next part starts now. We have a new Prime Minister. So far he’s held a press conference, talked to the public in a public space and walked in the front door of Parliament, so change does appear to be coming.

I have to be optimistic that he’ll stand by the promises he made, just because I have to. And I have to be optimistic that right here is where politics starts to change because it feels like we hit bottom.

I dream of a time when the parties allow candidates to voice their own opinions and disagree with party policies but overall believe that the party they chose to represent is the best choice, because that’s more real to Canadians than sticking to the script all the time. I dream of a time when politicians can change their opinions based on new information and not be accused of flip flopping.

Right now I see opportunity. We have four years to change politics.

I hope to be a small part of it.

GOTV

October 18th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in #MommyScholar | Canadiana | Issues - (Comments Off on GOTV)

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Alrighty folks. It’s just about that time. In about 12 hours polls will be open across the country and people will be heading to vote. I have been working long hours and long weeks since late August and I’m exhausted – just think of the people who started right when the writ dropped!

You know what makes it all worthwhile? People getting out to vote. People engaging in democracy makes it so much better.

And I can honestly say I have no idea what will happen when the polls close. I can congratulate BC, you’re going to matter this time. I think, and I know others who also believe, that we won’t have a clear idea of what’s happening until BC polls close.

My class on Tuesday morning should be interesting.

Once again I have been privileged to be a part of history. This campaign was different, this government will be different. I am thrilled to have worked on the campaign and I am thrilled to be able to sit back and study the results of it.

So please, everyone who reads this, please go and vote. Remind other people to vote. Take your kids with you to vote and teach them that it’s an important thing they need to do for their future. Both of my parents worked in politics, other family members demonstrated to me how important the government is in our lives and even more family members are hard working public servants who believe in the good work they can do there.

People who don’t vote because they think the government doesn’t matter to them or doesn’t focus on their issues – I hate to tell you this, but the federal government has a hand in virtually every aspect of our lives. What the federal government doesn’t control the provinces do, and they get a lot of money from the feds to do it.

And if they don’t matter in your life right now they will when you need EI or a pension or a passport or any number of other things.

I don’t know the guaranteed argument to get people out to the polls: f you don’t vote you can’t complain; if you don’t vote then the other guy’s vote counts twice as much; if you don’t vote you’re telling politicians to ignore your issues; if you don’t vote you’re turning your back on all the people around the world and across the ages who have fought and died for the right.

However you vote and for whatever reason, just do it.

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I had a cold, and that cold turned into bad cough and eventually on Thanksgiving weekend that cough turned into a pretty constant struggle for breath, a trip to the emergency room and a whole bunch of prescriptions.

It also resulted in the doctor at the ER telling me that I was not allowed to go to work or school for three days.

At the tail end of the closest campaign in Canadian history.

And it was probably the best thing that could have happened.

Room to breathe. Time to work on assignments. Time with my kid after two months of very little, right when she might have needed it most. And now I can tell her just a few more days.

On Tuesday I’m cut loose. I got back to being a mom and a student with some work on the side. I get to go to class and then go home.

The house will be tidy again, the laundry will be done. No more ordering pizza for a while. And I had three days with my kid and her routine to demonstrate that.

It was like a time out. To remind us all that things are about to get easier. Almost normal, even.

And I’m smiling more. I’m still sick, still taking prescriptions, still working and trying to keep up with everything getting thrown at me. But I survived. I had fun even. I was engaged in something important and I can detach next week – let the parachute fly – with no regrets.

Anything could happen and I get to just sit back and watch.

Infuriating child

October 15th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in #MommyScholar | Parenting - (Comments Off on Infuriating child)

I did some good parenting yesterday. It was really hard and I almost gave up and gave in. It was made harder by the fact that I’ve been feeling like a really shitty mom lately. I’ve been gone a lot and when I’m here I’m exhausted and short tempered.

I’ve wondered if maybe I was only a good parent to a little kid, and now that she’s older I’m just done.

But yesterday, I was a good mom. Even though there were tears and yelling, even though I literally had to drag her kicking and screaming to the car. Even though I forced her to do something she did not want to do.

Except eventually she did. I coaxed her into the room, and I coaxed her to watch and pay attention. I sat with her calmly and talked to her about the things her friends were doing and the songs being sung. And when craft time came along she was ready to join in.

And as hard as it all was and as angry as I got and as frustrating as she can be, right in that moment I could not have loved her more. Because she made me believe again, that we’re doing okay. That she and I, we’re a good team.

That I am a mom.

And that I still can’t believe the love she brings out in me, almost six years later.

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Dear Dad / Dear Jack

October 15th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on Dear Dad / Dear Jack)

I started my Master’s with the goal of changing the world. In reality I’m learning how hard it will actually be to change anything. But I still have this weird optimism. I have this unrealistic optimism for politics even though I’m a pessimist in real life.

Even when I’m hit hard on all sides.

You see, I had big plans for last summer. After I finished my exams I had a long to-do list of things I was going to do and see and learn to get ready for my starting my Master’s. I was going to read a pile of books and work on my writing and my blog. I was going to do some online learning and get into an exercise routine.

And then you went and died, Dad. And suddenly the summer changed drastically. It was physically and emotionally tough for weeks on end.

I was unprepared to go into this journey without having you to talk to. I mean, it was all your damn idea. So there I was, on vacation, no cell service and the writ was dropping.

I had gotten the call that I had been expecting, to come in to work the campaign and carry on your work, Jack. It was something I couldn’t say no to, something I didn’t have to thanks to my family here at home.

I wasn’t sure, Dad, what you would have advised had I come to you asking if it was stupid to work the campaign at the same time as I was starting this journey to my Master’s degree. I’m so curious. I think you would have said that I’m right, that I couldn’t say no. I think.

But then this week hit.

I had a cold that became a cough and a cough that led to a lot of trouble breathing. Finally this weekend, Thanksgiving Monday, E-7, I ended up in the emergency room because I was having so much trouble catching my breath I was getting scared.

Turns out that when you’re doing 12 hours of classes, plus all the homework, and 8 to 10 hours a day, five or six days a week on campaign and you’re not taking care of yourself you could wind up with a bad case of bronchitis that really puts stress on your asthma.

And when that happens you’ll be forced to stay home for days, trying to maintain some sense of calm while school and work goes on without you.

And so I think of you Dad, and you Jack. I think that maybe if either of you had taken a step back in your work things might have been different. Jack might still be alive, and you, Dad, I don’t know what life would have been like.

I heard that maybe you regretted missing out on us. I wish I had known that when you were still alive. I wish you had said that to me.

And that’s why I have to wonder what my kid thinks about this campaign. It’s been a struggle, and she knows that it’s something I’ve chosen – working long into the night instead of being at home for dinner and bedtime. I’ve told her I’m doing it for her, for her future. I’m doing something I believe in. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it was important.

I can only hope she gains a real understanding of how much I miss her, and that she knows how much I love her. I wish I had known how much I would miss you, Dad.

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Distressed

October 7th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana | Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on Distressed)

I would have to be stupid, or incredible naive, to think that racism doesn’t exist in this country. I mean, the last residential school closed in 1996. I was 15 by that time and I had never been told about this brutal part of our history. We have First Nations reserves that haven’t had running water for more than two decades. Two decades of broken promises and many, many Canadians who somehow feel that “those people” brought it on themselves.

Yeah, how dare they live in a country that we wanted to colonize.

I have been sitting uncomfortably in that colonialism for a few years, trying to figure out the best way to help and learn without interfering.

I had assumed that Canada was, in general, better at dealing with our immigrants than our First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

There is something about having racism thrust at you as a wedge issue during an election campaign. Something about discovering that, quite literally, your neighbours hold such hatred in their hearts and minds. It just pushes you right out of your comfort zone and you can’t quite get back in.

In fact I will probably never feel quite as comfortable around my fellow Canadians as I once did. Foolish as that might have been.

And I have to sit with this discomfort being fully aware of the privilege I have. I was born here, a full citizen – no dual citizenship either. I was born white in a good neighbourhood in a city. I went to good schools and I have a university degree. I spent unaccented English. (Well, a little Ottawa Valley twang gets in there sometimes).

The Harper government would have to search pretty hard to find a way to discriminate against me, except for the whole ‘woman’ thing. But even there, because I am straight, married and a mother I am put in a better place that single women, gay or trans folks and non-parents. I get all the tax breaks and non of the condemnation. The dirtiest word they can come up with for me is ‘socialist.’

The media and the pollsters are telling us that these issues – these racist issues – are moving votes in this election campaign. That, in fact, all of Quebec is moving to the hated Conservatives because they care so much about banning women from wearing niqabs. And if that is the case I am going to feel very uncomfortable living in this country with these voters under this government.

So uncomfortable that I can’t even begin to imagine what Muslim Canadian women are feeling.

When October Goes

October 5th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in #MommyScholar | Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on When October Goes)

It’s October now. That means the election just two more weeks away, and after that I’ll have fall reading week, which will be a great time to revive myself from the campaign and re-focus on my studies. It also means that it will be Halloween soon.

I am very happy to say that I found the kid a great costume before the campaign started, and it’s in her closet all ready for her when the day comes. It should even be warm enough.

But every time I think of this Halloween I think of last Halloween.

Joe was away for work, there was a football game that I wanted to take my Dad to, but it just didn’t seem to be working with the kid wanting to trick-or-treat. And then I asked Dad if I could bring the kid to his place and take her around my old neighbourhood.

As it turned out my sister (world’s greatest auntie) and I took the kid door to door while my mom and my dad’s long time partner sat inside and had tea together and Dad answered the door for all his trick-or-treaters – one of his favourite things to do.

Last Halloween is probably going to be one of my favourite memories of my dad, and my family, for the rest of my life. It marks a time when my parents were interacting again, I think because they were both big fans of my daughter.

It’s a memory of trick-or-treating at Grampa Joe’s house for my daughter, which is something that my sister and I always did. Sometimes we tried to trick him and see if he recognized us. One Halloween he found us at the door and he told us to wait right there for one second and he came back to take our picture. It sat on his bookshelf until this year when we cleaned out the house.

Two little girls, knocking on his door, asking for candy. (It should be noted that in that picture I was wearing a store-bought costume – the only year our mom did that – but I have done my own makeup, which consisted of taking face-paint crayons in a bunch and rubbing them all over my face. I was supposed to be a Cabbage Patch Doll).

The pictures that I have from last Halloween aren’t perfect. They’re blurry and the kid and Grampa both have red eye in one, but they do show a little bit of the joy I think they both felt that night.

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He wasn’t always the greatest Dad, but he made a pretty good Grampa.

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