Y Not: the trials of joining a gym as a parent

In an effort to retain some semblance of sanity and shift my winter weight gain (from 2013), I decided that this year, I’d become a gym-goer. Why now? Part of it was setting an example for our kids for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I’d come across a few articles about kids whose parents had kept up with fitness following the same patterns as adults. Uh-oh, I thought, if we wanted the kids to grow up to be active, sporty types, the hubs and I would have to do more than just leisurely strolls around the neighborhood with the dogs […]

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In Our Shoes

Last week I had a few rare baby- and kid-free hours, so I hit my favourite local consignment store. We have a couple of weddings to go to this summer and one of the things I gave up when I became a parent — along with staying up late and sleeping in on weekends — was paying full retail for a dress I’ll wear once (and likely spill something on). Now I know some people think the idea of wearing clothes strangers have already worn is kind of, well, icky. Each to their own, I suppose. I grew up […]

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Ten (and a half) things about traveling with a preschooler

When passing through security, you will realize your 5 year-old’s as-yet undiscovered penchant for sharp, shiny objects hidden in his pockets: “Madam, would you like to store this highly dangerous stiletto-shaped gum wrapper for the duration of your vacation?“ Your assigned gate will always be the furthest possible location from security. It will require 4 escalators, 6 moving pathways, and a trek with a dwarf Himalayan donkey named Oatey. Then, you’ll hear an announcement for a gate change … to the gate right next to security. Boarding announcements will occur as follows: “we would like to invite our guests […]

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My Old School*: reunions and remembrances

After struggling for several years, my old school is finally buckling under financial pressure and amalgamating with another one. The ever-rising cost of living means fewer and fewer families can afford the tuition that’s necessary to keep such a school afloat. One of the last of dying breed — an all-girls day school — it was housed in a former stately home that for centuries has overlooked the town I grew up in. Next year, the verdant grounds with their wrought iron gates and box gardens, will become home not to girls in green dresses, but to construction and new buildings. As a […]

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Swimming Lessons

In an effort to make sure my older kids didn’t feel short-changed in the time and attention department with the arrival of their new baby brother, I booked them in for swimming lessons once a week at a local pool. To this point our swimming together had been a haphazard affair: occasional days out when I had summoned the time to organize the requisite suits and towels, body wash and hair dryers, water shoes and life jackets, hair ties and combination locks. On more than one occasion, our efforts had been short and not-very sweet, ending in tears and […]

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Third Time Around

The baby is six weeks old today, which means the hubs and I have been parents to three children for the same period. As it turns out, being a third-time parent is something of a watershed. It’s the number at which observers assume — largely erroneously, I might add –that you have this parenting gig sorted. When you have one child, people like to make fun of your naïveté. They roll their eyes when you hand them purell before you let anyone hold the baby. They laugh at your obsession with bleaching the toys, the floors, and every single […]

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Now We Are Five

It’s been a little over a month since we brought our third baby home. A handful of weeks of figuring out schedules, rummaging through boxes to find baby gear, and coming to terms with the new and frighteningly high volume of laundry that three small children bring. The hubs and I have been trading each other off for everything from cooking to diaper duty to school runs. It’s amazing what you can accomplish one-handed and sleep-deprived when you have to. Somewhere between the onset of the witching hour and the third cry for a late-night glass of water we […]

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Travelling with Kids

Travel gets a lot of good press. It’s supposed to broaden horizons, engage the mind, enliven the spirit.People rhapsodize about being refreshed and revived by the experience and tend to wax poetic (often ad nauseum) about the new places they visited. Sometimes, these people give themselves fancy monikers: they are wanders, adventurers, enlightenment-seekers, world-citizens. They are rarely, however, parents of small children. That’s because travelling with kids is about as far removed from the transcendental experience claimed by adventurous singletons as my $20 target diaper bag is from a Louis Vuitton tote. Travelling with kids is many things: a […]

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Dear Mum …

Today would have been your 67th birthday. If you were still here, we probably would have taken a trip somewhere. Maybe we would have gone to Victoria, our old stomping ground. We’d always start in Murchies (is it still there?) and a walk on the Dallas, followed by fish and chips on the harbour, and usually a Guinness in The Penny Farthing. We might have visited Buchart Gardens again to drink in all that beauty, and later battle the fragrant humidity that curled our hair into poodle-mops. Or maybe we would have opted for somewhere warm, like Phoenix. We […]

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The Halls of High School

When we moved into our current house, the hubs told me that one of the things he’d really like to do here is build a backyard skating rink for the boys. We have a large flat concrete deck that’s partly surrounded by a retaining wall, so for the past few weekends, he has been busy building a frame, covering it with tarps, and repeatedly flooding the surface. It’s been very cold for the past few weeks — great for setting ice, but less so for skating with young kids. But last weekend, with the weather set to reach into […]

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A fitting conclusion

My graduation ceremony was last month. Although initially I’d been eager to walk across a stage in cap and gown one final time, the closer the date drew, the less excitement I felt. It would be the fourth such ceremony of my way-too-many years as a student. But it would be the first where my mum would not be in the audience. Looking at the ticket that I knew would go unused, I started to question the point of sitting in that hot auditorium, listening to the congratulatory speeches of strangers; the words of celebration I truly wanted to […]

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The Twelve Days of Christmakkah

This year, Christmas Eve and the first night of Chanukah fell on the same day.  How great is that? I thought naively when I saw the convergence on the calendar. How much time I’ll save only decorating once! How much easier it will be to plan gifts for the kids!  Oh, how wrong I was. For the last few years (it seems in my admitted foggy recollection) Chanukah has been fairly early in December, an arrangement that means that at first I only have to dig out the one box containing the menorahs and dreidels from storage. Sometimes, depending […]

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Death by hummus

Last week, I was rummaging around in the fridge trying to find suitable elements for the kids’ lunches; it’s no easy task when they turn their noses up at anything more exotic than bread and butter, cheese and bananas. I saw the small pots of hummus that the boys claim to detest only intermittently and decided to pop a few of those into their lunch boxes (a.k.a. the place where parenting dreams go to die). Except in my haste at finding something that they might (maybe, possibly?) consume without too much whinging and wailing, I scraped the back of […]

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What’s Left Behind

Well, the commitment to writing everyday fell by the wayside pretty fast. I had such good intentions, too. But then, you know, life happened. First, my in-laws decided that while my sister- and brother-in-law were in town it was Time (with an intentional capital T) to move to the seniors’ centre they had been pondering about for the better part of a year. Boxes were filled, furniture measured, movers called, arrangements made. I contributed nothing of note to this military-scale operation because my hands were full with a toddler who had somehow acquired thrush. My usually happy little guy […]

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10 Parenting Hacks

How many times have you heard the adage that kids don’t come with an operating manual? Doesn’t it seem like no matter how many baby books we parents read, or how many developmental authorities we follow — or, let’s be honest, how many insta-moms we emulate — at the end of the day we are all really just kinda winging it? (Please tell me it’s not just me?!) Luckily, most of the skills needed for being an effective parent can be learned. Over time, we somehow acquire the ability to catch falling glasses of milk mid-air and to creep […]

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The Truth About Puppies

How’s the new puppy? a friend asked the other day. Oh he’s great! Such fun! Bet the boys adore him!? They are best friends already! At this point I had to turn around and check that my pants weren’t actually, physically on fire. Yes, he’s adorable and very sweet-natured. Yes, the kids refer to him as “Marlowe, my friend”. But the truth is, puppies are hard work. Not colic-y newborn hard work, or newly-mobile toddler hard work. But trying to temper all that boundless energy, coupled with his constant pursuit of all things toxic, ill-advised, and downright dangerous means […]

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When was the last time you were brave? #NaBloPoMo

Just over a month ago, I defended my PhD thesis. For those who aren’t professional book geeks (!), this meant I was required to present the culmination of my work — eight years of research and writing, revising and re-imagining —  before a panel of academics, each well established in their fields. I had to answer questions that were designed, at least in part, to reveal the limitations of my work, to zero-in on its errors and expose its oversights. I was required to think on my feet, to avoid going blank, getting tongue-tied or stammering. I also had […]

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Halloween: Pre- and Post-Kids

Back in the days before kids — before late-night feedings and early-morning wake ups made us all think twice before agreeing to go partying on a Saturday night — halloween costume shopping was an annual rite of passage. I remember spending hours trying on different disguises, fiddling with make-up, and generally planning a night I’d only be able to partially recall the morning after.  For the costumes themselves, there were a few, basic criteria: – Is the costume cute enough to compare with all the other semi- and scantily clad people?  – Can you see NSFW cleavage or serious […]

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Wedding Memories

Today is our eighth wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe nearly a decade has gone by. In my head, I’m still twenty-something … though my aching back and crow’s feet sometimes give me a sharp reality check. If you’ve read any of my earlier posts, you might recall that in these last eight years we’ve moved no less than four times and done major renovations on three of those houses. At the same time, we’ve had two kids, both of whom were lulled to sleep by the sounds of belt sanders and nail guns. Together, we’ve experienced the sadness […]

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Yoga with Dogs

The hubs was out for the evening yesterday, so once the boys were (finally) in bed, I attempted to do a “relaxing” yoga video. I spend a lot of time reading — scholarly articles, book chapters, people magazine exclusives — so I probably should have aimed for a more rigorous workout. But with less than two weeks before my oral defense, that exam that determines whether the last eight or so years of my life have been worthwhile or not, my stress levels might just be a tad elevated. All was looking good as the puppy snoozed on the […]

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