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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Nov. 4: Knowing when …

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt is about which fall tv shows should be cancelled. But as I honestly haven’t had a chance to watch a single episode of anything since the arrival of the puppy (or Doctor Destruction as I like to call him) I haven’t got much to comment about. Knowing when to call time on something is a difficult trick: too brief and you’re left wondering what might have been, but too long and the end, when it comes, is stale.  I have been thinking about the delicate art of “knowing when” a lot lately.  Our oldest dog is […]

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Day 3: Honesty

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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Day 2: 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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NaBloPoMo: Writing about Writing

In an effort to write more regularly, I decided to join in with a month-long writing prompt series: NaBloPoMo  (National Blog Posting Month … I think?). It means I could write on a new topic every day. Notice I said “could”. Even a casual perusal of this blog reveals that consistency has long been a challenge for me. I tend to write like ketchup: nothing for a long time despite much pushing and prodding, then a whole lot at once. In my academic writing, I have become resigned to working in cycle of extended procrastination followed by mad, usually […]

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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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Kindness and Taking the High Road

Before the hubs and I met, he had bought a little condo. The building doesn’t have a big showy lobby or a swimming pool, and the unit overlooks an uninspiring back alley. But it’s conveniently located close to the downtown and the university, and it’s just a few steps from the river valley. It’s never been worth enough to sell for what he paid for it — oh, those bachelors and their “investments”– so we’ve just kept renting it out, hoping to cover our costs (and usually missing the mark). Over the years, our renters have been a motley […]

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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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10 ways you know you’re nailing this marriage thing?

1) Your spouse calls you by the wrong name on the phone. Rather than freaking out and hurling around accusations of infidelity, you both just laugh and adopt the new name as a nickname: Hi, call me Misty.  2) Your dog sees more of your naked body than your spouse. 3) Your arguments consist of reminding the other person of the last time you had that argument. 4) When you finally get a date-night, you try to go as long as possible without talking about the kids. Your record is 22 minutes. 5) Casual conversations have been replaced with planning […]

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Get a puppy, they said; it’ll be great, they said. 5 reasons they might be right. 

We’d been thinking about getting a puppy for a while. Actually, it wasn’t so much a thought per se as a constant nagging refrain uttered in the key of toddler: the kids have been asking for a puppy non-stop for roughly the last 17 weeks (or since they could talk). Anyone who’s ever had a determined kid will know that after a while, we began to think that it might be easier to just give in rather than constantly making up excuses. But all joking aside, we’d been tossing around the idea of a new dog for a few […]

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Vegan “Pantry” Pancakes – 3 ways

I love pancakes. The kids love them. The hubs loves them. They make fun, easy breakfasts — and sometimes even dinners too. They can be slathered in fruit, syrup, cream, icing sugar and chocolate sprinkles … or nothing but lemon and sugar. They can be frozen in bulk and re-heated in minutes. But usually pancakes contain eggs, which I can’t eat. So I’ve been experimenting with egg-free recipes. Some have been truly inedible from too much baking powder; others have required all kinds of weird and wonderful ingredients that I just don’t keep on hand. Eventually though, I found a […]

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