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Movie Night, Old School

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beauty and the beast

Last night, my fourteen year-old daughter returned from two weeks at camp. This camp of hers in Algonquin Park is a pretty classic one: no electronics, no electricity in the tents and cabins, and no flush toilets, so the need to catch up on Instagram and Snapchat (and the proper use of a toilet) is almost immediate.

She spent some time regaling us in all her camp fun including descriptions of cabin mates and their personalities, exceptional stories camp activities and sports and then promptly fell into a twelve-hour, post-camp coma which I believe continues to this hour.

She spent the most time very animatedly telling us about the camp theatre production for July, Beauty and the Beast. This is no let’s-look-through-the-dress-up-box-and-see-what-we-can-find camp skit but a well-executed musical with a very talented cast held in a dedicated outdoor theatre. Not that I have actually seen a production, other than a YouTube-posted version, but they’re impressive. (And I was a postulant in a small town amateur production of The Sound of Music thirty-five years ago so I know what I’m talking about!).

As soon as she got home, she and a neighbour wanted to rent the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (not sure if it was for comparison or to just gloat at Lumiere’s accent) but I told her we already had a copy, and after an impressively short ten minutes of rummaging I returned to the family room and handed them a VHS.

Honestly, from the look on her and her friend’s faces you would think I just handed them the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle.

“What is that?”

“It’s Beauty and the Beast.”

“What do I do with that?”

“You pop it into the machine and watch it.”

“Um, machine?”

“Yes, the VHS machine.”

“We have one of those?”

“Yes, we do. It’s a DVD/VHS combo.”

So we figured out the right input channel fairly quickly and the image soon appears on the screen.

“Ugh!” she cried, “What’s wrong with it?!”

“Nothing,” I replied. “We just have to rewind it”

“I have to what?!”

At this point, her friend then says, “Y’know, this sounds like a lot of work. I’m going home.”

However, soon enough though, we were fully rewinded and perfectly snuggled on the couch and watching a VHS-version of Disney’s 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast. (Which, by the way, you cannot actually get on iTunes, at least not in Canada.)  My nineteen year-old soon joined in on the retro movie night and it was a party.

After the movie was over (and remember, Disney movies are only about an hour long!) I suggested to my son, “I’m sure I can bring out you old favourite from the same VHS box, dear.”

To which he replied, “I better go work on my Me Ol’ Bam-boo dance moves, then.”

All this to say, don’t throw away your old VHS tapes or your machine. You’ll never know when they’ll come in handy for a lesson in retro movie watching.

Next up on the marquee: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Tuck Shop Austerity

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austerity pic (rabble)

(photo courtesy of rabble.ca)

My daughter is away at camp right now for two whole weeks. I received the Tuck Shop Permission Form which stated: The following items are available for your daughter to purchase this summer at the camp tuck shop. If you wish to limit your daughter’s purchases, you must fill out and return this form …”

Limit my daughter’s purchases? Well, I’ve never visited the camp tuck shop but I am just imagining all the dazzling trinkets and delicious treats it must sell. I mean, why else would my daughter’s camp require an additional $450 deposit on her tuck shop account, basically her spending allowance for the next two weeks. $450 for two weeks. Isn’t that roughly equivalent to the GDP of Greece?

As she was packing, I brought to her the camp’s Tuck Shop Permission Form. The conversation went something like this:

“Let’s go over this tuck shop permission form.”

“Sigh. Can we do this later?”

“Later? You’re leaving for camp tomorrow and soon you’ll be spending money at the tuck shop like you won the Loto649 or something.”

“I know, Mom, we went over this last year.”

And she’s right. Every year it’s the same-old-same-old conversation about budgeting because I just don’t think a 14-year old should have to participate in bail-out negotiations. But she and I rarely agree on a spending plan her creditors (ahem) would approve.

People, this is what happens when you limit a girl’s screen time, take her cell phone away and stick her out in nature. She’ll go nuts shopping at the camp tuck shop! Where or where are Angela Merkel and François Hollande when you need them?

It wasn’t like this at the camp my boys went to. Their camp tuck shop deposit was $60 a month – just enough to cover a few chocolate bars and a wooden spear. As my boys tell it, there was quite an efficient underground tuck currency system at their camp. Heavy-handed negotiations took place as part of some pretty sophisticated trades. As he tells it, my son was awarded extra five extra candy “tuck” by a canoe trip mate for his mosquito jacket during one particularly brutally buggy canoe trip (three is the weekly maximum for a camper so it was quite the windfall for my son). So maybe the tuck shop permission form is more harmless than this alternative and entirely covert barter system!

Her first year at camp she brought home various stuffed animals and assorted other souvenir purchases, most of which quickly cast aside and forgotten, until the following camp season when they were all summarily replaced. After ten years as a camper, I think we now possess everything listed on that tuck shop list. Yet our austerity battle continues well into the night.

Anyone need a waterproof notebook and pen with camp crest? Pewter camp necklace? No? Maybe there is an equally sophisticated underground camp tuck shop surplus distribution network. Somehow I doubt it.

She comes home Sunday. I can’t wait to see her – and her tuck shop acquisitions.

In the shape of an L on my forehead…

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It’s Friday night and I’m at the hockey arena. It’s no big deal. Since becoming a hockey mom fourteen years ago, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a hockey arena on a Friday night! What can I say? I have an impressive social life.

Only this time, I’m not here with one of my three kids; I’m here with one of my friend’s kids. Again, because of my impressive social life, I need to be at a hockey arena on a Friday evening.

This boy’s parents, our friends and neighbours, are off to a family wedding at an adults-only resort in the Dominican Republic and being fourteen, he’s too young to join them. I think he could have passed for an eighteen year old, but whatever. I don’t even think there was a wedding, but whatever.

Thursday evening, my friend drops off her son for his 10-day retreat Chez Astra with $50 and a list of his weekly activities. I tell her “Hey, not to be rude or anything, but I don’t think this is going to cover my weekly LCBO purchases” and she doesn’t think this is funny.*

At first it looks like I might get out of the Friday night hockey carpool gig because I have company coming to visit . Then my guests decline and I mention this at dinner Thursday evening.

“Oh! So you can take me to hockey then?”

Quick. Think of something.

Only nothing comes to mind, and I concede: looks like I’m spending Friday night at the hockey arena.

After a 30-minute drive during which any question I asked was responded by him pulling his ear plug out and asking, “Excuse me?” I should know better; I drop all efforts to converse. I leave him at the front door of the arena and tell him, “I have a few errands to run (like running to the LCBO) but I’ll be here to watch the last twenty minutes” and off he goes.

This hockey arena has four ice pads and I forgot to ask him which surface he was playing on. I quickly size up the place: Pad 1 has girls on it  – moving on. Pad 2 has little tykes on I,t so I move on again. Pads 3 and 4 both look like they’re hosting groups of 14 year olds. I spend a few minutes checking out the teams on Pad 3 but I don’t see our underage, unemployed free loader. I move over to Pad 4 and see him chasing the puck down the ice.

I flash my best fake yeah-thumbs-up in his general direction, mostly because I sure as hell don’t want to have spent a Friday night at the hockey arena without him noticing my efforts! The game appears to end in a 2-2 tie, and I retreat to the foyer to await his return from the dressing room. I then run into another hockey mom I know from my daughter’s hockey team last season. After some chit-chat, she asks what team Emily is playing on tonight – because it would be normal for me to be here with my own child. I tell her that I’m here with a friend’s son and am just waiting for him to change, gesturing in the direction of Pad 4.

All of a sudden, my friend’s son comes up behind me and says, “Hey, I’m ready to go!” I wheel around and ask, “Where did you come from?” “My game. Over there” gesturing to Pad 3.

“You weren’t playing on Pad 4?”

“Nope”

“Oh. I see. So. You were not the one I gave a thumbs up to?”

Thank God I didn’t bang on the glass.

 “Did you even watch my game?”

 “No. I was watching the game on pad 4.”

“Who was playing on Pad 4” he asks, and it’s not a bad question.

“I thought you were.”

So, not only did I take a child not my own to a hockey game, I watch almost an entire game of complete strangers. Loserdom has my name on it.

“Let’s keep this between the two of us, okay?” I implore to him.

“Sure” he says. “Just like you’re going to keep the two chocolate bars before dinner between the two of us too, right?”

It’s a deal.

~~~

*Truth be told, she also dropped off all his lunches, and two or three meals for our entire family (which had just grown to six people) but whatever – it’s my story.

And just that like – it was over between us.

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Yesterday. 

All my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in Yesterday.

Yesterday was not a good day for me. Yesterday was the day she broke up with me. Yesterday was the day she uttered a simple, “I think we’re done here …” and just like that, it was all over. I couldn’t believe it! What had I done wrong? Nothing; I had done nothing wrong. The truth was – and she even admitted it –I had done everything right.

My Achilles tendonosis is healed, and my physiotherapist discharged me from further treatments.

Obviously, our furtive lunch time meetings over the past three months meant much more to me than they did to her. I thought we had something. Apparently all we had was a case of tendonosis and now that was gone. I saw her as a saviour of my soul (and sole) but she saw me as just another Achilles – and not a very special Achilles at that.

Time with her passed so quickly and I shared so much more with her than with anyone else in my life. She’s the only one who seen my legs since last summer (well, my left leg for sure).

She was twenty years my junior, married to an elite Triathlete and they had a six-month old baby girl together. Despite these obstacles, it’s not surprising that I fell do hard for her – she made me feel young again. I worshipped her special brand of “love” (acupuncture, dry needling, deep tissue massage, joint adjustments) because they were just what I’d been aching for.

I should have known it would come to this. The signs were there. The most obvious sign being that my insurance only covers $500 of physiotherapy and I’ll already given her $460. Still, my Monday and Wednesday lunch hours are going to be just a little darker now, without me being able to see her and her bright yellow safe needle disposal box. She fixed the broken parts of me. She fixed the broken parts of me that I didn’t even know were broken.  But apparently now the broken parts are fixed and I now have to venture out in the world, and run!

All I have left of my time with her is a memory – and post-treatment exercises. She said, “Run!” (she actually said, “you should try some running now” but whatever, it cut me to the core – which is another body part altogether).

And “run” I will. Baby steps at first but I will get over this – and her. She said I would and I will. But the ‘what if’ still lingers. She left me with one ‘what if’ – a glimmer of hope that perhaps not all was over between us. She said, “I’ll leave your file open for three months – call me if your Achilles flairs up again”

So a rebound (or recurrence) was still possible!

Oh, I believe in Yesterday.

My kids are 19, 17 and 14 and I just uns

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My kids are 19, 17 and 14 and I just unsubscribed from Crayola. #PeterPanSyndrome or what? #motherhood

March Breakaway from Hockey

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Take a look at my recent post on HockeyNow about taking a break from hockey!

http://hockeynow.ca/blog/mom-mondays-march-breakaway-from-hockey

What’s for dinner?

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I hate being asked “what’s for dinner?” almost as much as I hate being asked,”where do babies come from?” I have a solution for the first question (sorry, there’s no solution for the second question).
Check out my latest Hockey Mom Mondays post at HockeyNow.  http://hockeynow.ca/blog/mom-mondays-compliments-to-the-chef-chef-hockey-mom-that-is-

Check out my recent post at HockeyNow.ca

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Check out my recent post at HockeyNow.ca on the life and times of the Den Mom! http://hockeynow.ca/minor-hockey/mom-mondays-it-s-a-tough-job-but-someone-s-got-to-do-it-my-life-as-a-den-mom #hockeymom

Precious, precious parking

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One of my biggest pet peeves is paying for parking mostly because I rarely carry cash with me anymore. Yet I know there are some places where paid parking just a given: sporting events, the airport, train stations, and most downtown hotels or public parking garages.

As I pull into this parking lot however, in front of the medical office I am about to enter, I am struck by a great injustice that is “parking”. I see the parking signs “Pay for Parking Here”. Right in front of a medical office. Everywhere else on this busy, primarily retail road in Ottawa the parking is free. And given that this is a medical imaging centre and a physiotherapy office, the irony is crueler than the inconvenience of digging for coins in the depths of my purse.

Across the street is ample free parking in front of Home Outfitters, Future Shop and ToysRUs and all the usual big box outlets. I think to myself, “I could just park over there, and cross this busy four lane road, and just show them, that I am NOT going to pay for parking.” But I’m in a hurry, barely on time to my medical appointment, and have to get back to the office as quickly as I can. So, I do what everyone else seems to do when visiting this office:  I pay for the parking.

I half expect to be asked to pay for the elegant blue booties I’m asked to don so that no one in the office is inconvenienced by my winter slush trail. Maybe that receptionist who shows me to the physician’s office is expecting a tip? I can assure you that ultrasound technician isn’t getting one from me after she had the gall to serve up that jelly to me (on me) stone cold! And what? No customer feedback card? Clearly, no one here is too concerned about repeat business.

What strikes me unreasonable about being forced to pay for parking here is thinking of all those who are coming to this clinic, though, because they are not so able-bodied. They’re here to improve their not-so-able body. It’s offensive that they’re being taken advantage of and being forced to pay for parking in sea of free parking lots that they really cannot access without a great deal of effort.

I think back to the days I dragged my 2 and 3-year old boys to my medical appointments when pregnant with their sister. I came across the same situation: want to eat or shop here? Your parking is free. Have a medical issue? That will be $5 an hour, please.

Clearly, our socialized healthcare does not spill over into the parking lot. Ah well. Guess I should be grateful. I can still walk; therefore, I can still dance … and still pay for parking.

Rant over.

parking

You know you’re Canadian when …

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A video I saw recently on Facebook called, “Sh%t Southern Woman Say”, filled with bless-her-heart after bless-her-heart, had me thinking of all the Canadian colloquialisms I use (bless my heart). I thought of making a really excellent video called “Sh%t Canadian Women Say” that I’m sure would go viral, but let’s just say I prefer the modest medium of writing medium to – you know – filming myself!

Without even mentioning any proclivity to anything hockey, you know you’re a Canadian when –

  • There’s more to a case of beer than the beer! I swear to God a good part of my husband’s wardrobe came with a case of beer – or rather a 2-4. His nieces refer to him as that uncle. And speaking of beer, when someone tells me the beer store is kitty-corner from the liquor store, I know exactly where that liquor store is. (Though I honestly cannot remember the last time I had to ask anyone where the liquor store was!)
  • KDCanadianisms in gastronomy are pretty universal now thanks to the internet. But I do think finding a proper poutine, tourtière, beavertails, Lay’s ketchup chips, Coffee Crisp chocolate bars, and Kraft Dinner (or KD) outside our borders is not an easy achievement.
  • Tim Horton’s coffee shops have their own lexicon entirely. You simply don’t live in this country if you don’t know what a double-double is. And of course this time of year with their Rrrrroll up the Rrrrrim to win campaign, dumpster-diving takes on entirely new meaning – for that’s what you do when you realize you’ve thrown out your Timmie’s without Rrrrolling up the Rrrrim to check out your prize (which is usually a message of pure hope: Please Play Again)!
  • It’s funny enough that the Canadian one dollar coin is called a loonie (because most in circulation have the common loon on them) but what gives with calling the two dollar coin a toonie (that’s right – it’s spelled toonie not twonie)? Most toonies have a picture of a polar bear on them (because while there might be real loons around Canada, the toon is rather rare and endangered, I guess). Are we that lazy? Could we not have called it the polar coin? “Got any polar bears on ya?”
  • When I was a teenager I never snuck a fifth of rum into a hockey game. Never! Now a mickey of rum? That’s a different story! (I just don’t remember it.)
  • And when we got married, our friends planned my husband’s ‘stag’ and my ‘doe’ – not our bachelor and bachelorette parties. CBC should consider getting in on this Bachelor TV viewing crowd with a new show. Seriously! Who wouldn’t tune into a show called The Stag! Americans would be buying satellite TV by the millions!
  • And I know I said I wouldn’t mention hockey but my kids all knew the local rink rat by his first name. In fact, they knew a few rink rats by their first names!
  • And because it’s February, and it’s minus stupid cold outside, and people are making plans for March Break (not ‘spring’ break), here’s one more final iconic Canadian activity: you don’t need to bring your tuque on your trip to Cuba!

Bless your Oh Canada, bless your heart!

heart shaped Cdn flag

Chug big or chug home…

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An unsanctioned event organized by students at one of our local high schools has raised the ire of its principal. So much so that emails have been sent home warning parents of this event and its imminent danger.  Parents have been urged to ask their children NOT to participate in this wasteful and harmful event and have been cautioned that local police have been asked to provide additional officers to enforce safety, should the event take place.

What is this undesirable event that parents should be so anxious about?

Is it an illegal swim party at a local quarry? Is it an unchaperoned bush party at one of the many local farm fields? Is it the private post-prom party across the border at a local ski resort (where most of the students will be of legal drinking age)?

No. In fact, these events (which have taken place or are about to take place on my son’s social calendar) have not been deemed sufficiently objectionable by anyone such that parents should be alerted to potential unsafe and/or illegal activity. The low-down on the street is how we get savvy to these events.

The appalling event that I am being warned about is the annual senior student-organized milk chugging contest.

This will be one of the most uncomfortably awkward and sensitive discussions I will have with my teenagers yet.  There’s no way all those conversations about safe sex, drugs, alcohol, academic challenges, work and money chats will serve me for this one.

I’m not sure how to handle this one. Should I go the sour milk is bad for you-route? Or, that unpasteurized milk may make you sick-schtick? How about, milk that comes from cows who’ve been injected hormones have been fed is unacceptable-deal (oh, but that’s illegal in Canada, so will probably not be too effective).  Or the time-tested, waste-not-want-not talk? No, I think I better stick to the fear tactic that always works best:  “Do you have any idea how easy it is to get addicted to milk?”

This isn’t the first time we’ll be talking about milk-chugging contests, and I can assure you, it won’t be the last.

(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I hope I don’t get my son suspended).

milk

 

Thawstruck

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You can tell an awful lot about a woman by the contents of her freezer.

I have a friend who, despite having three kids, has a truly immaculate home, unlike my own home with three kids which seems to be rife with kid clutter and dog dirt. Whenever I come home from her place, I am inspired to tidy up just a little.  If nothing else, to at least wipe the dogs’ drool off the patio door. Well, this time I went for broke:  I cleaned out my bottom-drawer kitchen freezer!

There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about my kitchen freezer. In fact, a freezerful of je ne sais quoi. As I was cleaning it out, I was not at all surprised by the number of containers with unidentifiable contents, or the amount of food with freezer burn beyond rehabilitation.  I was, however, a little grossed out with the amount of dog hair I cleaned out of my freezer – which seems to be immune from freezer burn. Pretty sure this explains the string of declines for any dinner invites I extend.

Delighted with my Saturday morning’s accomplishment, I gathered the family (except the dogs) around the kitchen frig and presented them with my handiwork. “Ta da!” I announced, to a primarily indifferent audience.

“What’s that?” asked my husband, pointing to a little square Tupperware container amongst the ice cube trays and frozen treats.  “It’s Fishy” I whispered. “It’s fishy?” he asked. “Why does fish get its own corner of your freezer?” which would be a very good question in a normal household. “Shhh! Not fish,” I corrected, “Fishy.

“Fishy’s alive?!” screamed my daughter jumping up and down. Sigh.

“No honey, Fishy is not alive.  He is still very much dead.  He just happens to be still very dead in our freezer.” A now thoroughly confused husband then said, “I’m going to regret asking this, but what is a dead Fishy doing in our freezy?”

“Well, when he died, we were on our way out the door and didn’t have time to give him a proper funeral.”

“Sooo, when exactly did Fishy die?” asked my husband, glancing over at the fish bowl on the kitchen counter that contained a very much alive Beta fish.

“Three years ago.” I answered “Give or take …”

Needless to say, after having her dead fish replaced with a new alive one, the urgency surrounding a proper pet burial had diminished, and we all sort of forgot about the whole thing – until today.

Despite the wasted food and a long-overdue funeral, I truly feel like I accomplished something that morning.

The patio door, however, is still covered with dog drool.

This essay was written for the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.  It didn’t win but was great fun to write.  I put on my best “Erma”.  As many of you know, I learned so much from the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop held every other year in Dayton, Ohio, its faculty and most importantly its attendees.  You can read the winning entries here.

Canadian Hockey Offers some Happiness ( or C2H5OH)

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Hockey parents have this reputation for excessive drinking which I believe is unwarranted.  The truth is, hockey parents do like to drink a lot but, come on, it’s not because we’re hockey parents, it’s because we’re parents. Period. I can assure you that I was drinking long before my kids strapped on their first pair of skates!  For some reason, that does not seem to surprise anyone.

So you know who I think started this nasty rumour about hockey parents and their drinking? I think it was that it was those crazy little hockey kids who drove us to drinking in the first place – they’re the work of the devil.

My daughter asks me stuff like, “Oh, do you really need alcohol to have fun?” I pondered that this weekend as I looked around what passed for a hotel room smaller than my university dorm room and I answered, “Yes.  Yes I do. It is way more fun to be stuck in a little run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere with a glass of chardonnay than being stuck in a little run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere without a glass of chardonnay. In fact, I think you’re having way more fun yourself when I’m here with my little glass of chardonnay, because you’re out there doing God knows what and I don’t even know where you are until I need another little glass of chardonnay and I find you in some random hallway with all your friends eating popcorn” and thankfully not my chardonnay (not yet anyway; I’ll give that a few more years).”  She should know that hockey weekend would be way less fun for the both of us if I was without chardonnay.

How about this one: “I don’t know how you drink that stuff … it tastes terrible!” I don’t believe  it has ever been – nor will it ever be – about the taste. Wait until you have kids – especially hockey kids – and I assure you that little glass of chardonnay will NOT taste terrible, it will be medicinal magic –so will the second glass. And so on …

And when she tells me that I don’t need my wine to have fun, I tell her she doesn’t need the $12 buffet to have fun either.  What’s so fun about paying $12 to witness a couple hundred screaming little girls waiting half an hour for the one single waffle iron that every single one of them seems to “need” at 9:00AM on a Sunday morning?

I’d say we’re even.

white wine

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post, meaning , I was not offered any free booze to write this post. I had to buy it myself. And for you hockey parents, please rink dresponsibly.

 

 

Are you raising a hockey brat?

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Once in a while there is a kid in the dressing room that really deserves a good slap. I only kind of kidding, but you know what I mean, right? Sometimes that kid is even my kid.

Is your kid being benched and you don’t know why?

Maybe your kid teases kids for not playing a good game, for missing the pass, for letting the goal in,

Maybe your kid is the one who’s an attention hog in the dressing room.

Maybe your kid thinks it’s really funny to squirt Gatorade and water all over the floor, walls, equipment and people.

Read more about my take on why coaches might be short-shifting your kid in hockey in my latest HockeyNow.ca post by clicking here.

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