I am not a spontaneous person. Most things I do are well planned out and deliberate because
I’m a control freak I find I’m more relaxed when I plan things out. Every once in awhile I like to do something slightly spontaneous and seize the day in my control freakish a way my planning personality allows me to be comfortable.
Every four to six months, I get a staycation. Darren takes the Poptart to his parents’ place for a few days and I get to watch adult television, get things done and generally focus on myself for a few days. The most relaxing thing about it is that I am responsible only for myself for a few days.
This season’s staycation coincided with our Nanny going away for 6 weeks. The plan was I’d stay home for 3 weeks to take care of the Poptart (which I did and enjoyed every minute of it), then Darren would take a week to take care of her and take her to Kelowna for a few days. I’d been asked to do some volunteer work in Kamloops the following weekend, so Darren would meet me in Merritt on Friday and I’d take the Poptart to my parents’ place, then head back to Vancouver with mom and the kid on Monday. And mom would take the next couple of weeks.
So because we had this all perfectly mapped out, the Poptart’s dance school threw a monkey wrench in the plans. Dance photos and mini rehearsal on Sunday in full makeup (yes, I have to put eyeliner on an almost 4 year old). So we came up with a different plan: I would head up to Kamloops on Friday as planned, do my work on Saturday, then head back. At the same time, Mom would drive down to Vancouver and meet Darren and the Poptart here. I would stay with my dad.
And then I started thinking that since I’m volunteering my time, they’d probably pay for a hotel room.
Staying in a hotel room sounded pretty good, actually.
I mentioned it to a coworker today and she said, “Go for the hotel room. Just do it. You should take a girlfriend along too.” I kind of shrugged and then the idea percolated. Apparently it percolated in her head too. “Hey what if I went with you?” she said. And since we both seized the day, we’re both going on Friday.
And that is my version of seizing the day. How do you get your carpe diem on?
So anyways, I know you’re not interested in why I haven’t been blogging. Something needed to give and between family, work and this place, it was this place (I’ve been working the equivalent of an extra day every week in my normal 5 day work week for about the last month, except that one day I took off due to some gastro-thing that took up residence in my…well, gastro-area).
And it didn’t help that, back around the beginning of the year, we nearly bounced a mortgage payment by a Large Chunk of Money. After scrambling around to get the cash together and get it to the bank on time (cue: panic attack), we decided it’s time to consolidate. We’ve been hanging on to some fairly nasty credit card debt for a long time. We’ve been making the payments on time, but it sometimes resulted in some difficult cashflow situations. Between debt and mortgage, we were paying in the vicinity of $3000 per month, plus all the other monthly stuff.
So last week we got to the bank. There’s actually a bit of a saga but that’s for another time. We met with a very nice representative who explained our options and started the process of consolidating our mortgage in with our other debt.
Monday I got the call that it’s all approved. We just got back from the bank to sign the papers with the result that our payments are cut in somewhat less than half of that $3000/month. We’re closing out some credit cards and lowering limits on others.
And for the first time in a year, I feel like I can breathe.
You know you’re a parent when you start doing things for your kid that your kidless self would look at you like you had five heads and offer you a stiff drink. Putting a blowup bed in the living room so your kid can use it as a trampoline? Giving her ice cream for breakfast because you think the deep freeze is leaking (but it turns out that it was the wine cooler) (and it was her birthday)? Tracking down promotional items that you received at a conference because your kid is attached to a now damaged one? Realizing there are some really good companies out there that will jump to help you out?
Last year, at a somewhat drunken moment at BlogHer, I ran into a Daisy Brand rep in the elevator. She handed me a stress cow and invited me to their suite. The cow was similar to this, but obviously said “Daisy Brand” on it.
I took it home and the Poptart became very attached to it. She took that cow everywhere: to school, to the doctor, to bed. Of course, it would disappear for days or weeks at a time, but she always found it again.
One day, her “boyfriend” Tyler* was over for a playdate and ripped one of the legs off**. The Poptart was devastated. Three year olds are full of teh dramaz anyways, but this was ridiculous. She was pretty much inconsolable for a couple of days until we told her that if she found the leg, we would glue it back on (like we did with the two ears and another leg). We still have to find the leg, but I have hope that it’s under the couch.
In a fit of desperation, I went to the Daisy Brand website and sent an email explaining the situation. It took me a long time to write that email because I felt I had to explain everything, including how ridiculous I felt sending the email. I finished up by asking if they had another one they could send me.
Within 24 hours I had a response back from Becky at Daisy Brand, who commiserated with me and said she was sorry about the 3 legged cow. Then she offered to send me a couple that needed homes. I immediately said yes and she shipped them to Sumas, in Washington state, where I use a receiver service.
On Friday, the Poptart and I walked across the border (40 minute wait for a single package and maybe a tank of gas and the Poptart having some gastro-thing? I think not when it’s a matter of about 6 blocks from where I parked). We picked up a square box and the Poptart insisted I open it right away. She was very excited to see her three new cows sleeping in the box.
Explaining it to the border guard was another matter.
Border Guard: So where are you coming from?
Me: Oh, I just had to pick up a package from Ship Happens. (Meanwhile, thinking that I had obviously walked across the border so I hadn’t gone far)
Border Guard: What’s in the package?
Me: (pushes package towards him)
Border Guard: (opens package, looks in it) Cows?
Me: Stress Cows! Border Guard: Stress Cows?
Poptart: Those are MY COWS! GIVE THEM BACK!
Me: (babbling) Yes! Promotional items! You know! Like the stress balls that you squeeze! I have no idea how much they’re worth!
Border Guard: (pushes the package back to me) Thank you ma’am.
*Name changed to protect the not-so innocent
**note: he is not her boyfriend anymore, apparently.
Disclaimer: this post was not sponsored in any way, shape or form. Daisy Brand sent me the cows after I asked for them. I thought it was an excellent gesture and showed excellent customer service so I posted about it. There was no expectation of a post from Daisy Brand’s end.
Any parent knows that preschoolers are messy, destructive things. The Poptart is no exception. My carpet is shameful. Really. Mainly because I haven’t found time to vacuum it (twice) and then run the Bissel carpet cleaner.
There are piles of toys and shreds of paper everywhere. There are stuffed animals on the part of the couch where I usually sit, so I am sitting on the loveseat, writing this entry (picking my battles, folks).
There is a blowup bed in the living room, not because we use it to sleep (although I did yesterday in the afternoon), but because the Poptart uses it as a trampoline. In fact, she practices parkour off the back of the loveseat, onto the blowup bed and then bounces off the other side of the bed. She thinks it’s hilarious. I leave and pour a glass of wine when she does that.
And then there’s the crayon on the wall. I think every room has some sort of mark on the wall, with the exceptions of the downstairs bathroom and the laundry room. It comes off easily enough with a magic eraser, although I’ve stopped cleaning every single one because when she’s outgrown this phase, we’ll repaint (and replace the carpet).
That is, until crayon ended up on the circa 2009 LCD television. That was annoying.
When I googled how to clean it, the following suggestions came up:
- elbow grease
- hot water
- Magic Erasers (no! no! no! abrasive! will scratch the screen)
Weasel pissWD40 (no! no! no! will damage the protective layer)
- Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (maybe)
- Baby wipes and elbow grease
We decided to start with the baby wipes. I had a bunch because we’d bought them at Shoppers for the extra Optimum points and they were on sale ($3 each and a bonus 2500 points – that’s practically free, says the coupon shopper). I’d grabbed what they had – 4 containers, the kind that have a moisturizer in them.
And so Darren took the baby wipes to the TV.
And here’s your cleaning tip: Huggies Baby wipes with shea butter take crayon right off LCD screens, with minimal effort. Follow up with a microfibre cloth with water (or a bit of vinegar if you want) to clean the swipe marks off.
This is not a sponsored post. I’m not that lucky to be sponsored by Huggies.
Amanda Todd was not a lucky person. One error in judgment made when she was only 12 led to almost four years of cyberbullying and bullying at school. This week, it became too much and she took her own life. I take this to mean she felt she had nowhere to turn, and no one to help her.
On the other hand, I am a lucky person. I was bullied off and on over the years. Only a few really stand out for me.
I grew up on a small island at the mouth of Howe Sound. It was big enough for an elementary school, but when high school started, we had to go to West Vancouver for school. It was a typical small town with an added twist: the ferry ride to the mainland and back.
My earliest memory of being bullied was when I was at the bus stop for school. I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8. A boy who caught the bus at the same stop told me that if he saw me at the bus stop too early again, he’d build a bomb and blow up my house and kill my parents. When I told my parents, my mom phoned the boy’s mother and it stopped right there. Then they explained to me what a bully was.
This boy, I really think deep down is a good egg. He never bothered me again and even stopped his little brother from bothering me. I am “friends” with him on Facebook now and he is married to someone else I knew from there. She wasn’t a friend, but she was always nice to me.
The second bully was a boy who I went to judo with. He would torment me when adults weren’t around. I could handle it because it was only once a week. It stopped pretty quickly when my mom came up on him trying to whip me with his judo belt and hauled him off by his ear to his mom.
When I started going to high school on the mainland, the problem was that damn ferry ride. The morning ride wasn’t too bad, but the afternoons were pure hell. There was a group of older boys who would mock me, tease me, make comments about my body. I was no more than 13.
And then one day, those boys decided it would be a good idea to throw things at me - sheets of newspaper soaked in water and compressed into balls. That shit hurts, man. Don’t do it to anyone.
I spent most of that ferry ride in the bathroom. One of my friend’s dad’s offered the advice to throw it back at them. What I couldn’t figure out was why he didn’t do anything about it. Because in my mind, parents are supposed to intervene.
BC Ferries staff walked through the area while this was happening, and did nothing. There were teachers who worked on the mainland and were coming home who saw this, and did nothing. My dad’s realtor was there – he did nothing.
My mom picked me up at the ferry. I was obviously upset but passed it off as tired. When we drove past one of my so-called friends who had joined in with those older boys, she stuck her tongue out at me and flipped me the bird. I burst into tears in the car and told mom what had happened.
We got home, she called the local police officer. He said he couldn’t do anything because it was a case of “he said, she said.” My dad was apprised of the situation. Not being a man to take things lying down, particularly when it involves his family, took a drive to where the ringleader (who, oddly enough was a friend in earlier years) hung out and told him what would happen to him if he continued to bully me.
When his mom phoned my dad to give him hell for saying such things to her son, he told her it wasn’t a threat – it was a promise.
Throughout it all, my parents had my back. I was one of the lucky ones with caring parents who would do anything to keep me safe.
I shouldn’t be considered lucky. But I am because someone intervened before it got to a point where I thought about killing myself. My bullying experience was dealt with early and fast.
* * * * *
Today, it seems a lot of parents have problems dealing with the reality faced by their kids. I don’t blame Amanda’s parents for her death; I think they absolutely did their best. I cannot imagine their grief and horror about what was happening to her and the end result.
I think by and large, the world is too big and people are too busy to provide the care I knew growing up. From Amanda Todd’s death and others, parents are looking to schools and community for help. Here, Premier Christy Clark started Pink Shirt Day as a symbol against bullying. She claims that regulations won’t help bullying – that bullying has to be dealt with through teaching.
The Premier found time in her schedule to put up a video on YouTube about Amanada Todd’s death, ending up with saying that we’re Canadian and it’s our job to be nice to each other. You’re calling for a national conversation on bullying.
And to that I say, Madam Premier: less talk, more do. There is a place for law and policy in dealing with this. At a minimum you can change the educational curriculum to include mandatory anti-bullying/citizenship as educational requirements for all kids K to grade 12. Because most bullying stops within 10 seconds of someone intervening.
Add social media courses as a mandatory part of curriculum from grade 5 onwards.
You can require middle and high schools to develop social contracts regarding behaviour in school and on social media and have both students and parents sign on to them. If they refuse to sign, they can’t participate in school teams or anything beyond the bare curriculum requirements.
Provide proper, mandatory training for teachers to recognize bullying and provide appropriate interventions.
You can provide school administrators and teachers with the ability and protections they need to intervene when they see bullying and to provide resolution through restorative justice techniques. You can provide courses and clinics for parents to identify bullying in their own kids and other, along with intervention techniques. You can provide ready to go resources for parents when they don’t know where to turn for help.
And you can provide protection for the victims of bullying by creating safe spaces in schools where they can go for support and immediate intervention.
All of these suggestions are within provincial mandate and do not require a national conversation. What they require is leadership and working with others towards a common goal. These are small steps, well within your power to mandate, that can make every kid one of the lucky ones.
Of course, to do that, you’d have to be in Victoria doing your job as a legislator. Which you aren’t and won’t be until February 2013.
Less talk, more do – and you’ll get the job done, kids.
It’s basically a polite way of saying, “Talk is cheap; shut up and dance.”
And that’s what I tell the adolescents I teach to be swim instructors. For one reason or another, these kids are willing to put the work in to stay the course and get the course done. The reason is quite simple: if they don’t do the work, they won’t be successful in the course (and they, or their parents, will be out around $400).
Also, the faster they get the work done, the earlier they get to leave. But they have to get the work done.
British Columbia MLAs, on the other hand, have until the new year to do a lot of talking to the electorate. That’s right, folks, the legislature is not going to sit in the fall. They had a 28 day session scheduled, but they scrapped it, apparently because they “have to get out of the precincts of the legislature and really listen to people if we want to make sure that government runs better.”
So in that case, I can tell my Water Safety Candidates to go out and talk to other instructors, and really listen to them, if they want to make sure their classes run better. And that’s all you need to do. So they don’t need to do planning, or any actual improving of their teaching skills. They don’t have to make sure they’re teaching the right things at the right times.
And I think this is where our Premier has it wrong on a couple of levels. Talk, as I said above, is cheap. So shut up and dance. Get back to the legislature and actually work with other parties to find a middle ground. Instead of campaigning around the provice and talking to “real people” get your butt in your seat and govern.
Talk, Madame Premier, is good for generating ideas. But your job is to Get Things Done. And Getting Things Done requires governing, and being in the place where ideas are deliberated and decided on.
So we get at least 8 months of no governing and no decisions on new policy directions, followed by a lame duck session in the spring right before the election. Maybe.
Of course you do have two new cabinet ministers in important posts who ostensibly need some time to get familiar with their portfolios. But I’m sure those ministers have Deputy Ministers who can brief them on what’s going on during a time when they’re not sitting in the Legislature.
I expect more representation from my elected officials, whether I voted for your party or not. I expect you to be in Victoria and do your job, and not be in Victoria, travelling the province for the next year, as Brian Hutchinson’s comment in the National Post indicates.
If, as you indicate, there is a “sick culture in Victoria” it is your job, as our fearless leader to fix that. Show me that you can get things done by recalling MLAs and working with all of them. Don’t just spend my tax dollars travelling the province and talking to people. I’m pretty sure you have a good idea of what needs to be done to heal the “sickness in Victoria”. There’s been enough talk. Let’s see some more do.
P.S. – One more point, after the fact, Madame Premier, I am one of those people who think you should have a fall sitting and get things done. I don’t think this because I “like to spend a lot of time in the legislature, talking to each other, and talking to politicians and talking to pundits“. I’m complaining about the lack of a fall sitting because I’m a voting citizen who thinks her elected officials should talk less, and do more.
The scene: I am on the Canada Line with a work friend, headed home, and carrying a case of canning jars.
Friend: You are so domestic.
Me (somewhat indignantly): I am not!
Friend: You have a kid. You can things. You are so domestic.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m domestic on a regular basis. I’d say that I have fits of domesticity. About every 6 months, I start making and cooking things. These fits usually coincide with when I have some Free Time (she said, laughing at the irony of it). So when I’m on vacation, like I have been for the last two weeks.
Normally I’d be spending a good deal of time sitting on my arse, but for the first week, the Poptart and I went to visit Oma and Opa (my parents). While we were there, I bought peaches. By the time I got back, I had to do something with them so I canned them:
(My apologies, that photo turned out exquisitely crappy. I really should learn some photoshop)
The week before, I had some blueberries which were going so I turned them into jam (also above).
Then I cleaned out my freezer and found enough chicken bones for three crockpots of chicken broth and enough beef bones for one crockpot of beef broth. Then I canned the chicken broth in my pressure canner. I can safely say if we ever suffer the zombie apocalypse in the form of the common cold, we are covered.
Not all of this was made at this time, but I did make up about 12 500 ml jars and that tall one in the back (650 ml? 750 ml? it’s actually an old Classico spaghetti sauce jar which is a mason jar and therefore safe for canning).
I also have about 2 cups that didn’t fit in the canner which is in the fridge.
I ended up using most of the beef broth for another purpose. There’s a 650 ml jar of it in my fridge.
Yesterday, I took the Poptart to the farmer’s market and bought a bunch of basil. And I made this. You should too. It’s the food of the gods. You can find the recipe at Northwest Edible Life. And you need to make a lot of it because, uh, you’ll probably end up with less to freeze than you thought you would. Taste-testing is important you know.
(And yet another exquisitely crappy picture. I do not seem able to take a picture in focus today).
I also cooked up chickpeas, white beans, a large batch of quinoa and a large batch of couscous.
This fit of domesticity does not extend to tidying the living room, however. I am now taking applications for living-room tidying and can pay you in blueberry jam, canned peaches or chicken broth (the pesto is mine and you may not have it. In fact there probably won’t be any left by the time you get here).
How about you? Are you fitfully domestic or generally domestic?
It’s that moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time to sign up for the 2012 CIBC Run for the Cure. They’ve updated the website and you can register by clicking here.
We had a lot of fun last year – a lot and this year, I’d like to expand the fun to a bunch of sites. I’ve registered Bloggers for Boobies as a multisite team – so far, we’ve got Vancouver, Abbotsford and virtual. If you’re from another location and want to join us, please email me with your location before registering and I’ll be happy to add it.
Click here for the list of locations. Most major cities have runs. If you’re unable to get to a run, you can do the virtual run.
How to join us
Go to www.cbcf.org and click on the “CIBC Run for the Cure” button at the bottom.
Click on Registration and Locations and pick your location. NOTE: for the Bloggers for Boobies team, you can only register for pre-programmed locations. Email me if you’re going to do the run in another place; please email me with your location before registering. I’ll let you know when it’s added.
When you select your location, you’ll be taken to the registration page. Select “Join or Restart a Team”. On the next page, search for “Bloggers for Boobies” and hit “Search for a Team”.
Note: the team will only appear for pre-programmed locations. If you don’t see the team name, email me with your location and I’ll add it.
If you ran in previous years, select “Returning Participant”. If you didn’t run in previous years, select “New Participant” and follow the instructions.
How to Support Us
Click here to get to our team page and make a donation. When you donate, you’ll be helping to find a cure for breast cancer.
For more information