What I Live With

The other day, I was heading out to Ladies’ Poker Night, and my husband and youngest were teasing me that they would not let me go unless I brought them back a present. So I offered to bring them both 5 cents – Ladies’ Poker Night is a low stakes affair – and they agreed, although somehow I got talked up to 10 cents.

I didn’t win anything at poker, so I figured the deal was off, but the next morning much fuss was made about the fact that PRESENTS were PROMISED and not GIVEN and SADNESS. I rolled my eyes and continued making the grocery list and then went out to do the shopping.

When I got back, my older two children had left me notes.

From Gal Smiley:

MOM I heard that Dad and LMS were promist presants and DID NOT RECIVE THEM! Also am I getting a presant? or is that going to be “missed” as well?

love your daughter (who was not promist presants and did not get any!)”

And from Captain Jelly Belly:

Hey do I get presents? I heard you promised Daddy and LMS presents. It is not OK to show favouritism so I think I deserve some presents.

Do you not love me?”

Everyone had a dime waiting for them at their place at the table shortly afterwards.

A Holly Jolly Christmas

I’ve heard a lot of people saying they aren’t feeling the Christmas joy this year, and I totally get that. It’s hard not to think that it has something to do with the current political climate, which seems to deliver scary, bad news every day. The fact that it’s been unseasonably warm and rainy in Ontario might have something to do with it, too. I know that even though I am officially Done My Shopping, I still feel like Christmas is a long way off.

I mean, I haven’t even felt much like listening to my Christmas music CDs, even though they are all loaded in the van. What is UP with that, I say?

So I thought I’d reverse the trend by doing a post on things that are making me happy this December. Not necessarily Christmas-y things, but things that bring me joy, and that make me happy for the upcoming break, and maybe will make me want to hum a Christmas tune or two.


I love lettuce so much. It’s becoming a not-so-jokey joke around here that the kids are going to give me a big bowl of lettuce for Christmas. Frankly, I’d be delighted. Green Leaf lettuce from the Farm Boy is the shizzle. I can go through two heads a week – I’d go through more but I’m already embarrassed to buy so much lettuce each week. I’m actually sitting here writing this with a big bowl of lettuce next to me for snacking.

The other day I was out running errands and I was starving and one of the places I had to stop was the Farm Boy, so I bought myself a Green Leaf Lettuce and ate it in the car. That’s how much I love lettuce.

Advent Calendars

I’m really happy I didn’t do the activities calendar with the kids this year. Yes, I think it means I feel a bit less festive this year. But it has made things a lot less hectic around here, and I have to say, the kids are really enjoying their actual get-stuff advent calendars, so bribery success achieved!

The older two have LEGO calendars (City and Star Wars) and they love them, but the youngest has a Tsum-Tsum calendar and it is THE BOMB. Tsum-Tsums are little Disney characters in weird plastic pellet form. The youngest is obsessed with them – for Christmas this year she is getting Tsum-Tsums, Tsum-Tsums, more Tsum-Tsums, and also a Tsum-Tsum display case which is probably already too small for all her Tsum-Tsums. I was worried the advent calendar would have a lot of duplicates in it but so far, due to Christmas theme-ing, it’s just been awesome.


It was sort of stupidly expensive but if you are into these little guys, it’s worth it to try to grab one now (maybe on sale?) and catch up, or save it for next year. I haven’t seen it in stores around here but I ordered one online at Amazon.


Meanwhile, I have my own advent calendar – a David’s Tea advent calendar, that my family gave me for my birthday in November. You get a little tin of a different tea each day to try.


I also thought this calendar was a little expensive but it’s been worth it. I really look forward to a new kind of tea each morning at breakfast, and my middle daughter made me a little chart so I can record the tea of the day and my review/rating of it. Plus, the packaging is so great – the quality of the outer box, the inner boxes, and the little tins is so good that you could keep it and use it again next year, filling the tins with whatever treats you like. In fact, I am going to do this, and fill the tins with a variety of candies for my husband, who is feeling a little left out of the advent calendar festivities.

I wonder if there’s a Facebook group where David’s Tea advent calendar owners can discuss the tea of the day. Maybe I’ll start one.

Christmas Cards

I still plug away at the Christmas Cards every year, even though the number we receive in return is dwindling. I like to think that people enjoy getting our family newsletter and I have to admit, putting it together is more for me than anyone else – I love looking through our past annual newsletters and seeing how the kids have changed, or what the year’s highlights were.

I love getting them, too – both for the news and the beauty. My mom in particular sends us lovely, fancy cards from Papyrus each year, one for each member of the family, and they are proud ornaments on our mantle. The one she sent to me this year is mostly white with a tiny gold tree on it and it seems so peaceful and simple and gentle, it makes me happy.

My New Author Site

I decided to make some big plans this year for my writing. I still consider myself a dabbler, but I want to pull together some of my short stories into a self-published book sometime in 2017 so I figured I better have a website for launching it.

You can check out my new author site over here. If you sign up for the mailing list there, I’ll notify you when the book comes out (or if anything else I write gets published).

I have to say, I’ve visited it a LOT in the past week or so. I really like it.

Happy December, everyone!

‘Tis the Season

It’s November 24, and that means I have fought long enough and hard enough and can finally throw in the towel and embrace all the Christmas. Bring on the Bing Crosby! Change the wreath on the door! Bring out the wrap from the basement!

This is the first year in a long time that I’m not doing my annual Advent Calendar of Activities, started by Andrea all those years ago. It’s been fun, but the kids are older now and although I think they liked it and will miss it, they’re just too busy. School this year runs right up until December 23, and a lot of their weekly activities do too, and trying to squeeze in a daily Christmas event was just too much.

I admit this freely: I purchased my way out of it. Preempted the complaints about tradition by getting them each a store bought Advent Calendar – Lego for the older two, and a Tsum Tsum one for the youngest. They’ve been begging for these for years, but I always considered them too expensive, especially when dumped on top of the expenses of the daily activities. But now, I’m buying my way to freedom! Take my money and my thanks, Lego and Disney!

I think it’ll fly.

Ironically, I made myself a list of a few absolute favourite, must-do activities, just a few simple things that we always do that make it feel festive. I just went and counted and there are 27 things on that list. So…perhaps there will be a bit of an advent thing happening around here after all, but really, I’m going to try to take it easy this season, drink a little too much Bailey’s and eat a few too many cookies and call it a holiday.

It finally snowed here on the weekend, and today is American Thanksgiving which means a lot of Black Friday sales started today in Canada, so it’s time to get festive, get shopping, and get writing those cards.

Leaving One Cult For Another

We’ve had a couple of big changes in our house lately, due to a recent reworking of our budget. First, we – I say we, but really it was all Sir Monkeypants’ doing – finally cut the television cord. We eliminated our satellite service from Bell and now that means we are free from both Rogers and Bell, and let me tell you, that feels sooooooo gooooood.

Side story: The other day a girl came to the door from Rogers, trying to sell some of their services, and she was kind of oddly aggressive. She asked if I was with Bell and I gleefully said NO, and then she asked if I was with Rogers, and I did a little happy dance and said NO, and then she very pushily and angrily demanded to know all the details of our internet service, and I was like, SEE YA WOULDN’T WANT TO BE YA, and shut the door. I probably could have been more polite but man, I was just so incredibly happy. Bye bye! Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

In case you worry that we’ve gone all 19th century around here, fear not, we still watch tons of TV. Our new system includes:

  • Netflix, heavens how I adore Netflix;
  • an antenna in our attic, which allows us to pick up HD signals from Global, CBC, CTV, OMNI, and CITY, and between all of those we get basically every major cable show;
  • a Tablo PVR that provides us with TV listings and recording ability;
  • an Apple TV that makes all this stuff run;
  • the YesTV app loaded on our Apple TV that allows me to watch Jeopardy, but only live, which means I now have a weekday alarm set on my digital watch to warn me that JEOPARDY IS ON, pathetically;
  • YouTube app on our Apple TV for live streaming certain events (this is how we watched the American Presidential Debates) and watching gamers play Minecraft, which is apparently VERY IMPORTANT, MOM.

So you can see, we still have lots of content available to us, and we’re keeping up with current TV as well as deep diving into old TV (currently on season 4 of Friends!). The up front investment for all this technology will pay for itself after about a year of not having Bell Satellite. Isn’t that crazy? Not to mention the fabulous bonus of being able to tell both Bell and Rogers to stuff it. STUFF IT.

(I should also mention that our internet comes via TekSavvy, who also provides our phone service, and our cell phones are through Telus.)

Our second major change is that I finally, after years and years of dithering about it, joined Costco. I have problems shopping at a place where I have to be a member, and also, it’s not super conveniently located to my house, so I knew I’d never go there on a weekly basis. But I finally decided to join after a test run shopping trip there last spring with my friend RheostaticsFan, when I learned that Vanilla Extract sells for like, 1/4 the price of the Superstore. I needed more vanilla last week and the price at the Superstore made my head spin, and I was all like, WE ARE JOINING COSTCO.

We decided on the basic membership (MUCH to the disappointment of the girl who signed us up) and we are looking at this as a one year experiment. This may seem really anal to you but I went to the Costco the day after we joined and wrote down prices of stuff that I actually thought I might buy there – stuff that we use already, that would keep if I bought it in massive bulk format.

Then I went to the Superstore, which actually has really good prices in my opinion, and also has the benefit of being three minutes from my house. Plus, we save 4% on everything at the Superstore thanks to our cash-back credit card, which gives us a bonus on grocery stores. So with that in mind, I went through the same list and wrote down the prices of the same stuff. Then I came home and put it all in a spreadsheet to see what was of benefit to buy at the Costco, and what wasn’t.

I learned from this exercise that in general, it’s better to buy in bulk – but that Costco’s prices aren’t necessarily better. For example, I usually buy a 5 kg bag of flour every few weeks. Costco sells a 10 kg bag and per kg, it’s a better price. But the Superstore also sells a 10 kg bag, for the same price as Costco. So, I could save money just by buying the 10 kg bag instead, at either location – but the problem is, my kitchen has no space for a 10 kg bag of flour, so I don’t know how I can make that work.

Same with dish soap – I could save money by buying the 5 L bottle at Costco, or the same 5 L bottle at the Superstore, which is actually 10 cents cheaper. But again, what am I going to do with a 5 L bottle of dish soap? How will I pour from it? What will I pour it into? Where will I store it? It’s a whole new mess of problems – and joining the Costco didn’t actually save me any money, because if I were willing to buy these massive sizes, I could actually do it at the Superstore for free.

Another thing I learned is that things that are on sale at the Superstore are usually a better price than Costco, per unit. Three of the things I tested out – Coke, Lays Chips, and Dove soap – happened to be on sale this week at the Superstore, and per unit, were actually LESS than at the Costco. So if you watch for sales in the flyer, and/or price match, and then buy up a bunch of that stuff while it’s on sale, you can probably do just as well, if not better, than at the Costco.

So, is anything worth it? A few things. The savings at Costco on vanilla extract and baking powder alone are enough to pay for our annual membership (I do a lot of baking). Also worth it:

Advil and Tylenol
Benedryl (we go through a LOT of Benedryl here)
Parchment Paper
Kitchen Compost bags
iTunes gift cards (we use these to pay for Netflix, and you can save $10 on $100 of gift cards, giving us a small discount there)
Dishwasher pods
Apple Juice

And that’s basically it for us. You can probably save tons more if your family goes through stuff quickly – for example, I could by ketchup there, in a two-pack of two enormous bottles, but that’s enough to last us at least a whole year, for a net savings over the Superstore of 90 cents. So is it worth it for me to find a place to store an enormous backup bottle for a 90 cent savings? Maybe, but maybe not.

I also think there’s significant savings to be had on meat, bread, and cheese, if you have room to buy that stuff and break it up into smaller pieces and freeze it. We don’t eat a lot of that stuff around here due to allergies so I didn’t look too closely.

I’m keeping a running tally of everything bought at Costco, and the savings on that item over the Superstore, so we can determine if we want to go back at the end of the year. I’m sure the membership will pay for itself but the question is – how much savings would I have to see to make it worth it to me to a) have to run to yet another grocery store on a regular basis (I already go to three different ones every Sunday morning), b) have to face the horror that is the Costco parking lot (seriously, why is it so busy on a Monday afternoon?), c) have to find a place in this already overstuffed house to store all the massive quantities of stuff we buy there.

I guess we’ll see at the end of the year.

What do you buy at Costco? What would you recommend?

A Little Ray Of Hope

I got invited to WE Day this year, which was yesterday in Ottawa. I have written in the past about how I find it a little too slanted towards marketing and sponsors for my liking, although my kids love it, so I was thinking of not going. But then Tuesday evening rolled around it became increasingly clear that Trump was going to win the American election, and I got a last minute email saying that the Prime Minister was going to be at WE Day, and I thought to myself, maybe what I could really use right now is a little rah-rah enthusiasm and the sight of a world leader who is actually a decent human being.

So I went.

And overall, it was great – a lovely way to heal from the fear and horror of what happened in the U.S. (oh, how my heart breaks for Hillary).

Seeing Justin Trudeau was everything I wanted. He was hopeful, and positive. It was kind of like having your big brother pat you on the head and tell you that everything is going to be okay. He said, “Step up and be involved, and together, we will change this world.” I hope so, Justin, I hope so.


You can see his full speech here.

The Governor General, David Johnston, was there too, and I love him – he always has a twinkle in his eye like your favourite uncle. Rick Hansen was there and he was as inspiring as always. The American Ambassador made an appearance, and although of course he said nothing about the election, his whole speech was about how Canada is an amazing place because of the way we have embraced immigrants, and then he introduced a young man who is a Syrian immigrant and a blind photographer, who has been living in Saskatchewan now for just over a year and has recently won a full scholarship to study engineering, and if that isn’t a quiet flip off to Donald Trump, I don’t know what is.

(His name is Hani Al Moulia, and he’s also a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council.)

I cried twice. First, when they showed this video about how kids could name quite a few male inventors, but no female ones.

Jeez, I just cried again, watching that. I am going to learn about some female inventors, STAT.

The second time was when Gord Downie’s older brother got up to speak about residential schools. If you haven’t heard about it, Gord has created a lovely movie about one student’s sad journey, Chanie Wenjack, set to music he has composed. It’s so hard to watch, but we must do it, because it’s so important.

Gord’s brother got up to talk about Chanie, and then Chanie’s two sisters, Daisy and Pearl, got up to give an indiginous prayer, and then Gord Downie himself came out on stage looking fragile but determined, and I totally lost it. They ended by mentioning their new charity, the Downie Wenjack Fund for reconciliation, and I was like, PLEASE TAKE ALL MY MONEY.


And right after that, singer/actor/poet Tom Jackson got up and spoke a poem about how when they tell you what’s done is done, don’t believe it, because there is power in one, and man, it was a good thing I already had the tissues out. I wish I could find his speech online but my ability to Google is limited with tears in my eyes.

So that’s the good stuff, and although it was a long day, and a tiring day, I left feeling better, with new resolve to move forward with hope, and to stop listening to the CBC for a couple of days because it’s just so depressing as everyone struggles to process what happened with the election. Sigh.

As for the marketing stuff surrounding WE Day – it was better. Maybe I needed to focus on the positive, maybe I needed to just be a Pollyanna for once, but it seemed much better integrated into the day, and much less about BUY THIS STUFF and more about, hey, we know changing the world is hard, but here is just one small thing you can do, you can buy a bracelet for $10 and half of that will go to our charity. And that seemed like an okay thing to ask. And on top of that, I love the fact that they are so open about their spending – if you do buy a bracelet, you can go online and enter a code on your package that will tell you exactly what they used your $5 for. And if you really want, you can even take a trip to the villages they are working with, and help out first hand, and see what your dollars are doing. Which is cool.

Of course there were sponsors. Some of them were more successful than others – Telus did an anti-bullying thing that featured a fantastic young woman who talked about how to rise above it all, and that worked for me. They were going to donate to charity if the kids there used their Snapchat filter which didn’t seem like too much promotion – it was subtle. RBC has some sort of program on where you can tweet to win a $150 package to use on a social project in your community, but their presentation was a little pushier, and less about “let’s get everyone involved” and more about “let’s all promote RBC, and we’ll reward a few of you.” So, less successful there.

And taken as a whole, WE Day can get overwhelming – when you add up all the speakers, they want you to take local action, and global action, and to buy certain products, and use certain hashtags and filters, and to fight bullying, and to recycle batteries, and to think about inclusivity, and to fly WestJet, and to spread the word about the Invictus Games, and to get Canada a 150th birthday present, and to organize test drives at Ford, and to eat more kale (says Margaret Trudeau) and to believe in your dreams (says Paula Abdul) and to fight sexism and to make sure every girl gets an education and man, it can be a little much, turning into a big swimming mass of things to think about do.

I think the best thing is to pick just ONE thing, and hang on to that, and try to do that. That’s what I suggest the Kielberger brothers focus their message on next year – here are a lot of things people are doing, and hopefully just one thing will resonate with you.

But overall, WE Day is a positive thing. I was looking around, early in the day, at the enthusiastic, screaming kids around me and I thought, they’re so naive, they think these small little things can make a difference. But then I thought, maybe it’s me who is naive.

Because one thing the American election has shown is that people’s beliefs run really, really deep, and can’t often be changed through rhetoric and explanations. And if we are working hard to make our kids believe that they have the power to change the world for good, and that good means equality, and reconciliation, and inclusivity, and kindness, then maybe that’s how we prevent something like this from ever happening again.


Time Changes

I remember when this time change, the Fall Back one, was The Bad One.

Most adults think of it as the good one, the one where you get an extra hour of sleep. But if you have little kids, you know this one is the harder one, because to them, an extra hour in the day is a whole extra hour for SUPER AWAKE FUN. Instead of taking advantage of the bonus time for sleeping, little kids have no concept of time, or clocks, or what it means to wake up your parents at an ungodly hour because you have a major craving for a cup of juice and some chocolate chip freezer waffles.

No, what this time change used to mean was a struggle to keep the kids awake while they were falling asleep in their dinner, then finally caving and putting them to bed a compromised half hour early, then seeing their cheery, wide-awake faces at 4:30 a.m. because it was morning! And time to get up!

And thus I became a coffee drinker.

Now, however, we are so close to making the transition into this being The Good One. The older two are capable of sleeping in, a little bit at least, but even then, this time change helped them get up in the morning – not early, but rather, at the time they SHOULD be getting up. Instead of having to drag them out of bed with threats and cajoling and, eventually, yelling, they popped up awake at 6:30 – wondering why the heck they were up – and were ready to go to school a full half hour early. A miracle.

The youngest is only 9 and she still woke up at 5:30, raring to go. But now she’s old enough to respect the fact that the rest of the house might not be quite so ready to party. We slept while she read quietly in her room. A miracle.

So everyone went happily off to school, and we actually did get an extra hour of sleep, and things are looking up. Now I only need to convince my body that it is not, in fact, snack time – the time change always means I am suddenly hungry at all hours – and that if, indeed, it is time for a snack, that the giant bowl of Halloween candy in the next room is definitely less tasty than the Big Salad I have waiting in the fridge.

Think I can do that? It’d take a miracle!

Milestones at Halloween

We were working on an annual budget recently and I had to adjust the line for Birthday Parties – meaning parties we throw for our own children – because we may, fingers crossed, be past that now for our older two kids. We’re at the age now where they are okay with a little less fanfare, maybe one friend coming over for dinner, or just the family going to the movies, cake and a gift card to Google Play, and done. Sweet.

But on the other hand, we now have to take a net loss on Halloween candy. We get a lot of kids at our door – 329 last night, by my count – and that means I’m buying like, ten boxes of candy each October. But it used to kind of pay off, in that our kids brought home just about the same amount, and it lasted for a good six months or so, resulting in a kind of sugar balance around here.

This year our oldest two didn’t go out – they were kind of on the fence about it, but were leaning towards one last hurrah, but then, they both got sick, and so just stayed home instead. Now I notice we have a net candy deficit that is not helped at all by the fact that I am home today and binging my way through all the peanut-related and cheesie-related candy in the youngest’s bag. I’ve never had to do this before, but I might have to make a run to the Superstore later to see if I can get any day-after discount candy. Budget fail!

Speaking of Halloween, I was quite behind schedule this year – everything seemed to just creep up on me and I’ve been having trouble staying ahead of things. I was out with the Captain last week and he was all sniffy about Christmas stuff being out already, but I know from experience that one day it seems way too early, and then like, 24 hours later it’s a week to Christmas and I’ve done nothing. So I do appreciate the long lead time and many, many reminders about the upcoming date.

Since I was so lax about Halloween this year, we kind of didn’t get around to carving the pumpkins (in fact, I only just bought them a couple of days ago), which is why I found myself at 4 p.m. on Halloween itself frantically carving with my youngest (who had given me the Big Eyes And Trembling Lip – “Aren’t we going to carve the pumpkins, Momma?”). We ended up getting lots of compliments on our pumpkins and so if you find yourself in the same situation next year, may I recommend:


Left to right: Ninja pumpkin – carve out eyes, then wrap with black ribbon, held in place with straight pins pushed straight through; Mummy pumpkin – cut holes, fill with eyeball ping pong balls from the dollar store, wrap with self-sticking bandage strip; Silly vampire pumpkin – cut hole for vampire teeth acquired at recent birthday party, cut paper for eyes, stick on with thumbtacks.


Hope you had a happy Halloween!

Bread Pants

Gal Smiley has a hobby: dropping food on her pants.

(I can only assume that it’s an active pursuit, as there’s no other way to explain the volume of food that ends up in her lap at every meal.)

A few months ago, Sir Monkeypants started teasing her that she needed to invent, and start wearing, Bread Pants. Pants, made out of bread. Then, when she dropped ketchup/salad dressing/milk in her lap, she could just rip off a piece of her pants and eat it, like a fancy hors d’oeuvre.

I mentioned this idea to my mom, and I suggested that if she was ever out and saw fabric with bread on it, she should pick some up and either she or I would make some PJ pants for Gal Smiley out of the bread fabric. I have to admit, I did not think that there would be much availability of bread fabric in the world.

But my mom found some.


This is bread fabric. Not only did my mom find it in the fabric store where my niece works, but they didn’t have enough to make a pair of pants left on the bolt.

So my lovely, dedicated mother made a special trip to the other branch of the store, one city over, to get enough bread fabric, and they had just barely enough.

So now Gal Smiley has Actual Bread Pants, and they are the most hilarious thing ever, and she adores them and wears them pretty much at all times when she does not have to leave the house. I’m sure she would wear them to school if we allowed it.

But I am left with lingering questions, like, who thought making bread fabric was a good idea? And why is there so much apparent demand for the bread fabric? And what projects are people doing with the bread fabric, if they are not making Bread Pants?

It’s a crafting mystery.


You Go

Sometimes in our neighbourhood I see people out running. Most seem pretty serious about it. They’ve got the wicking shirts and brand name running shoes and running-specific water bottles and headphones. They’re cruising along at a good clip, working their rhythm, feet falling naturally onto familiar paths.

But sometimes I’ll see someone who does not fit that mold. Someone who is wearing faded yoga pants or a ratty old university sweatshirt, perhaps carrying their water bottle in their hand because they don’t have one of those fancy belts. Someone who is a little overweight, plodding along, maybe alternating between walking and running, especially on the hills.

These are the people that I find really inspiring. These are the people who are putting themselves out there, who are just trying their best. Who know that they have to do something active and they have to start somewhere and so they made that first step to make it happen.

When I drive past someone like this, I’m always thinking, You go. You do it. You are awesome.

Over the past couple of years I have done more and more sitting, and less and less moving. My yoga studio closed down and they moved the time of my tap class so I can’t make it any more. Our elliptical machine started bothering my knee, and my bike has had some technical problems. I’m working more and some days I push the end-of-workday so late I have to drive to pick up the kids, even though the school is less than a kilometer away. I’ve had to move up a couple of pant sizes, but more importantly, I huff and puff when I go up the stairs, and I can’t carry as many groceries as I used to. When I go for a walk with the kids, they have to slow down so I can keep up.

I know I need to do more before old age makes that impossible, but I find it so hard to get motivated. I really, really hate exercise. Running is absolutely out of the question. So I thought to myself, what kind of activity do I actually enjoy, what do I want to do enough to actually leave the house on occasion and just do it?

So far I’ve only come up with one small answer, and that’s ice skating. I love it, even though I’m terrible. And by terrible, I mean I can mostly stay upright and glide forward, but I can’t stop, or turn properly, or skate backwards. I’m a bit of a menace on skates, to tell the truth, but there is something about the crisp cool air of an arena that I like.

So once a week now I have been going to public skate at the local rink, and hit the ice for just 45 minutes or so. I teeter around the ice as others pass me – ladies doing two laps to my every one as they casually chit chat about an upcoming wedding; aging hockey players who crossover effortlessly as they cut between the other skaters; even the odd three-year-old, still learning but already able to zip like lightning around me, unafraid of falling. I plod around and try to avoid the ruts and pray I’ll stay on my feet – two weeks ago I fell so badly I ended up with a four by two inch black bruise on my hip, so deep and dark it’s there still. But I went back for more because it’s the right thing to do, the necessary thing to do.

When I’m on the ice I like to think that the other skaters don’t see me as an awkward obstacle to get around. Instead I like to imagine that to them, I’m like those beginner runners I notice and cheer. I hope they are thinking, You go. You do it. You are awesome.

Because if I can imagine them thinking it, then maybe I’ll start to think it too.

Not Quite There Yet

Our kids are now 13, 12, and 9, and Sir Monkeypants and I have been talking about how to make them more independent. There’s the teaching of skills, like cooking and cleaning and doing laundry, but there’s also an awareness issue – the ability to think ahead to what they need to do, and make time to do it. The ability to know they have a job to do – without being told – and to be able to gather all they need to do it, and make it so.

This weekend we spent just one night at my youngest sister’s house in Toronto for Thanksgiving. Since it was only one night, I didn’t do a lot of my usual packing Super Hardcore Anal Ninja work, where I create lists upon lists and pre-cook all our food and double check everything. On the day before we left I casually told the kids to go upstairs and pack their stuff. On their own.

HA HA HA HA. Laugh at my folly!

Each kid was to pack one change of clothes, one pair of jammies, one toiletries bag, one sleeping bag, and one single sleeping pad or mattress.

We got:

One kid with two PJ tops, and no bottom.

One kid with no top part to her change of clothes, and because she’d been wearing a fancy dress the day before, ended up coming home in her PJ top.

One kid with no toiletries bag – likely left behind at scouts camp, DON’T GET ME STARTED – and so cobbled together a makeshift bag missing half the usual stuff.

One camp mattress with no fan thingy to blow it up.

One camp mattress that was a double, which doesn’t fit in any of my sister’s guest rooms.

No camp pad at all for the third kid.


We survived and everything, but still. It seems we are not quite at the independence stage quite yet.