Category Archives: Tales

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Fairies

My daughter’s tastes are what many refer to as “tomboy.” She has never taken to playing with dolls of any sort, never cared for the colour pink and couldn’t care less what she’s wearing as long as she’s allowed to play in the mud with it.

My husband and I have always chosen to just go with the flow, and let her play with whatever she likes, however she likes. So it’s never been an issue at home. And socially, it’s never been an issue either since she’s always had a crew of friends who enjoyed the same things (and who happen to be boys).

But I’ve really noticed a difference as of late. She’s now in Grade Two, and the gender divide is already happening. When the boys play with her at recess, some of the girls will tease her and say “Is that your boyfriend?” or alternatively, will taunt the boy with “Are you a girl?”

When it came to birthday parties in younger years, the birthday parties included friends — boys or girls. But now, it seems girls have girls to their parties and boys have boys to their parties. On occasion Stella still gets a birthday invite from a boy, and we’re never really surprised to turn up and find that she’s the only girl there. But more often than not, she just doesn’t get an invite at all these days.

So it was with great excitement that Stella came home about a week ago toting a birthday invitation from a Mary, a girl in her class. I acted casual, but inside I was thrilled that she had been included in a social event.

Today was the big day. As you can imagine, Stella is not a girl who wears dresses. It’s jeans and t-shirts only. But today, it was like she was more aware of being included by the girls. She dug out a t-shirt from the back of the cupboard; it had a dog on it and rhinestone accents. RHINESTONES. This was huge.

We arrived to the party and she immediately joined the girls on the outside play structure. She showed a little bit of nervousness, but within minutes she was happily waving me off while swinging up a storm. I returned her wave and went back home to put Max down for his nap.

When the time for pick-up arrives, I show up and she’s nowhere to be seen. Mary’s mom calls inside the house for her. Stella comes skipping out of the house. She looks happy as a lark. I feel so relieved.

Mary excitedly starts gathering up Stella’s loot bag items, which include a fairy wand, pink wig and butterfly wings. I can see that Stella has already assessed these treats and she’s got a response at the ready: “Oh, no, I’m totally fine. Thanks anyways.”

Naturally, Mary looks confused and thrusts the items towards her anyways. Not wanting to be rude, Stella accepts them with thanks. I glance at Mary’s Mom. I think she knows what’s going on, but I’m not sure.

I turn to Sara’s parents and thank them for having Stella to the party. Her Mom says, “We enjoyed having her. She’s … cute.” That long pause before “cute” was a bit wierd, but whatever, Stella’s happy and that’s what counts.

In the car driving home, I ask how the party was. Stella tells me it was SO GREAT. I am so pleased for her!

I'm gonna get me some fairies!

I'm gonna get me some fairies!

Then she tells me that Mary’s older brothers and sisters served them their food. I think this was a highlight event for these younger girls. Stella continues, “And they said that Indiana Jones can have her cake first!”

“Who’s Indiana Jones,” I ask. 

“Me,” she replies.

I hesitate. “Why were they calling you Indiana Jones?”

“Oh, that’s because when all the girls were playing fairies, she replies nonchalantly, “I decided to be Indiana Jones and chase them with a skipping rope.”

I can’t help but laugh.

“What’s so funny about that?” she asks.

Now I understand that long pause of Mary’s Mom. “Oh, nothing. I just think it’s … cute.”

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Family, Living, Observations, Tales

4 Ingredients — episode 3

Ah, wondering why I’ve tried another recipe so soon after the last one? I know, it’s out of character but hubby’s away. And while hubby’s away, this wife must cook.

Well, okay, not really — he did leave two meals for me in the freezer. And I admit to ordering in pizza last night. But tonight, those chicken breasts sitting in the fridge gave me the guilts. As in, “if you don’t cook me tonight, you’re throwing good money into the garbage!”

So, don’t get too excited now … I’ve got another (wait for it), yes, CHICKEN recipe for you again! One day I may venture out of the chicken section of my 4 Ingredients cookbook. In fact, after tonight, that day may just come sooner than expected.

Here’s the recipe, exactly how it appears in the book …

Cranberry & Orange Chicken
Serves 4.       Y.u.m.m.y!
4 chicken breasts
1 pkt French onion soup
3/4 cup cranberry sauce
3/4 cup orange juice

I didn’t have the onion soup or the cranberry sauce, so I picked them up this afternoon. I almost decided to cancel the whole exercise when I realized that every package of French onion soup in the grocery store listed MSG on its ingredients. I also heard my husband’s voice in my head saying, “never trust a recipe that lists soup as an ingredient!” But I didn’t listen.

Silly me. Cause it was Y.u.c.k.y! And I think it was all because of the darn onion soup. I ended up scraping off all the topping before serving it up. We did eat it, but only because it didn’t have a speck of the actual recipe left on it.

I may just need to venture farther out than 4 Ingredients to become a half decent cook (and I do have some great suggested learning sources now thanks to the commenters on episode 2!). The promise of cooking with only four ingredients is so compelling though that I think I’ll give at least a meat recipe a shot.

There’s no scoring for this one because we didn’t even eat it. (And Lynn, I’m purposely not listing the instructions this time. I don’t want you to bother!)

6 Comments

Filed under Books, Family, Learning, Living, Media, Shopping, Tales

This was our ‘dirty’

Looking back, I can see why my parents continued to fork over what was a considerable sum of money so that I could keep up with my dance classes. I still have no idea how they managed to afford it since I find two children’s activities costly, and they had four. But they did. Somehow.

Sure, they knew I loved it. And I begged to take as many classes as could humanly be squeezed into a highschooler’s schedule. Only now, as a parent myself, do I start to realize there could have been another reason.

Dirty-Dancing-movie-08[1]You see, while other highschoolers were indulging in house parties on the weekend, my circle of dance friends would get together and watch Dirty Dancing. We just never tired of it. I have no idea how many times we repeatedly watched this film (and White Nights — of course!) during those late 80s years.

I hadn’t seen Dirty Dancing since then, though. In honour of Patrick Swayze’s death, I just watched this iconic scene “Nobody puts Baby in a Corner.” The fact that Swayze is just as fabulous as what I remember didn’t surprise me. What did was that we actually considered this “dirty.” Compared to today’s pump-n-grind antics on the dance floors, this dirty dancing seems downright virginal.

Get it now? My parents must have thought that every penny spent on dance classes was worth it if it meant that my weekends were occupied with such relatively innocent behaviour — chocolate consumption and Dirty Dancing.

I’m sure glad they did. Cause I had the time of my life.

R.I.P.

10 Comments

Filed under Family, Headlines, Living, Media, Movies, Observations, Tales

4 Ingredients — episode 2

It’s okay, you’re forgiven for thinking that I’d given up (again!) on the idea of teaching myself how to not suck at cooking.

My first post on this topic sparked comments from readers that reassured me that I am not the only female lacking in such talent. Instead of mocking me, these lovely folks were sympathetic and encouraging.

This propped me back up because despite it being an age of so-called gender equality, people do tend to go on and on about just how lucky I am that my husband cooks for the family. I wonder if my husband’s male friends go on and on about how lucky he is to have a woman that does the dishes every night? 

While my husband has been working his way through the complicated recipes in the latest Food & Drink magazine (and people wonder why I can’t keep weight off), I have worked my way through the 4 Ingredients cookbook.

Okay, so not really. But I did do one more recipe. Sure, it was another chicken recipe, but it was a recipe. And no, it didn’t work out like it was supposed to, but it was edible.

Here’s the recipe I picked:

Chicken with Lemon & Honey
1.  1 chicken, cut into pieces
2.  2 lemons, quartered
3.  2 tbs. honey
4.  2 springs of rosemary

And here’s how it went:

First of all, I didn’t have a whole chicken. This is just too much for a squeamish, former vegetarian. Instead, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts that magically grow in plastic packages at the supermarket. (I was nervous about this switch but checked with hubby and he assured me the recipe would still work.)

Then the next hiccup was a lack of rosemary springs. So I just pretended that they were not a part of the recipe and went about my business.

The result was a fresh tasting chicken that the whole family deemed enjoyable. My husband did remark on the lack of rosemary, saying he’d been thinking about the delicious combination of it with lemon. I explained I didn’t that we didn’t have any. He explained we had some growing on our deck. Who knew.

The ratings: Hubby gave it an 9/10, Stella gave it an 8/10, and I gave it an 8/10. It’s easy and the mild taste goes down well with the younger set.

The cookbook I’m using for these posts was written by two Australian women. It’s readily available in Australian and in the U.K. since it’s been a huge hit. And here’s why: (1) All recipes have 4 or fewer ingredients, (2) All can be measured in terms of cup, tablespoon and teaspoon, (3) The methodology is explained on average using 4 sentences, and (4) All recipes use ingredients mostly found in your pantry or fridge already. If you’re one of my Canadian or American readers, fear not, you too can get a copy! Here is a link it on Amazon.ca and here is one for Amazon.com

11 Comments

Filed under Books, Family, Fitness & Food, Learning, Living, Media, Shopping, Tales

According to plan

I had a great day planned out for yesterday.

It’s been 7 months since I’ve returned to Canada from Australia and in all that time, I still haven’t had a playdate with just me, my 14-month-old son, my sister-in-law and her 17-month-old son. While we were in separate countries, we both gave birth to boys — cousins! — just a few months apart.

This kind of playdate is exactly what I pined for during moments of homesickness in Australia. Somehow though life just ran along at break-neck speed, and we had yet to get together. Until yesterday.

On Thursday morning, we would meet after the boys’ morning naps and let them visit with the baby animals at Valley View Farm.  

So, here is how I envisioned this day to go …

8:50 am:  Wave Stella off on the school bus.
9:00 am:  Put Max down for a morning nap.
9:10 am:  Enjoy peaceful, long hot shower.
9:30 am:  Blowdry, dress, make-up.
10:00 am: Check e-mail.
10:15 am: Replenish diaper bag, pack lunch.
10:30 am: Wake Max from nap.
10:45 am: Drive to Valley View Farm.
11:00 am:  Meet SIL and nephew for playdate! 
11:15 am:  Enjoy the farm and its animals.
11:45 am:  Picnic lunch.
12:15 pm: Chase the kids about the play yard.
12:30 pm: Take great scrapbook photos of the cousins.
12:45 pm: Say good-byes.

And this is how the day actually went …

8:50 am:  No one is at the bus stop. Apparently, the bus came early.
8:55 am:  Pack both kids into car and drive Stella to school.
9:00 am:  Unpack both kids from car and walk Stella to the school yard.
9:05 am:  Re-pack Max into his car seat.
9:10 am:  Arrive home and put Max down for nap.
9:15 am:  Max doesn’t want to settle. Make and give him a warm bottle.
9:30 am: Max settles into a nap.
9:35 am: Answer phone that has been ringing off the hook.
9:40 am: Check emails and feel panicked by rush request from client.
9:45 am:  Max is woken up from his nap by construction noise outside.
9:50 am: Find some toys and bring to bathroom to occupy Max so I can have a shower. Shower while trying to convince Max not to climb on toilet.
10:00 am: Get out of shower and dig through laundry basket for clean clothes.
10:10 am: Take another phone call. While on phone, ensure diaper bag has diapers and wipes. 
10:30: Realize Max has wet through two layers of fresh clothes. Change onesie and pants.
10:40 am: Put shoes on and leave the house with wet hair, no makeup.
10:45 am: Realize I forgot to bring drinks and lunch. Decide not to turn car around and instead hope there is food available to buy at Valley View.
10:50 am: Get distracted and take a wrong turn.
11:05 am: Arrive late to meet SIL and nephew. Greeted with happy smiles.
11:10 am: Enjoy seeing Max’s expression at first sight of animals.
11:15 am: Kick myself when I realize I didn’t bring my camera.
11:30 am: Feed Max scraps from nephew’s lunch. Feel like bad mother.
11:45 am: Let kids run around in the sand and play yard. 
12:00 pm: Realize it’s super sunny and I have not put sunscreen on Max. Plus, no water. Feel like bad mother again.
12:15 pm: Enjoy nice chat with SIL in between chasing after the boys.
12:30 pm: Max is visibly exhausted due to no morning nap.
12:45 pm: Say our goodbyes. Promise to do this again soon.

All in all, the morning had such great moments. But according to plan? Ya, not quite.

4 Comments

Filed under Family, Living, Ottawa Fun, Tales

Food for Thought

the-peachMy husband never fails to be disappointed with the produce from our local grocery store. Well, to be fair, it’s not just our local store — it’s any grocery store.

After dinner, he’ll look longingly at some peaches he picked up that day at the store. He’ll pick one up, roll it around in his hand, maybe even give it a sniff. Then he’ll sink his teeth into it.

“Ugh,” he’ll pronounce, then put it down and push it aside in disgust. “It looked so good,” he’ll say, “but it’s just pulpy inside. No flavour, terrible texture.” The thing with him is that he’s a perpetual optimist and he’ll be just as hopeful for a juicy peach next time he buys one from the store. And so it goes.

I have always attributed this disappointment of his to the difference between eating a fruit right off of a tree to eating one that’s had to travel goodness knows how many kilometres in a truck. You see, he grew up on a fruit farm in Australia.

The September/October issue of Mother Jones magazine gave me some further food for thought on this issue. Science and environmental journalist Heather Smith explains that today’s hybrid crops “are often bred for size and color, not nutrients.” Her article “Looks Great, Less Filling,” then goes on to compare the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables from the 1950s to today’s counterparts. It’s pretty alarming, really. Or at least interesting.

For instance, according to Mother Jones and USDA data, today’s broccoli offers 52% less vitamin A, 60% less calcium, and 27% less iron. And a honey dew mellow provides 68% less calcium and an astounding 84% less iron. 84% less. Wow, that’s some serious change.

With this kind of radical change in nutrients, can one deduce that there would also be a change in taste? Perhaps that’s why today’s peach doesn’t taste as peachy as it did when my husband was a boy.

5 Comments

Filed under Family, Fitness & Food, Living, Magazines, Media, Shopping, Tales

Letter from South Korea: Part 2

In my first “Letter from South Korea,” we covered off the basics of who, what, when and why Meaghan Harrison chose to leave Canada and teach English overseas. Now, in Part 2, we can learn a bit more about this experience on a personal level.

 

 

 

A Street-view

A Street-view

You’ve been in South Korea for six months now … what’s been the most challenging aspect so far?

 

The most challenging is just the day-to-day life. The majority of Koreans don’t know English, so basic things like going out to eat can be made difficult. You have to plan your actions much more carefully. If you walk into a Korean restaurant and do not know how to order something in Korean (in most restaurants there are no menus anyway), then you probably aren’t going to get any food. Although living here can be challenging at times, it really is a learning experience and has made me respect and admire immigrants in Canada much more.

The most rewarding?

The kids! I was going to put them in the most challenging aspect of Korea, but really they have given me the most rewards. When I started school in the beginning of March, the kids knew some broken English and I had to constantly tell them to stop speaking Korean. Now most of the kids do not speak any Korean at school, they can write and they can read sentences. They truly amaze me. Although some days can be so challenging, they can always make me laugh at least once a day! In Korea, it is totally acceptable to be very playful and loving with your kids as a teacher, in fact it is expected. It is so nice to be able to pick them up, hug them and kiss them. I will miss that if I ever teach in Canada.

The most fun?

To be able to work at a job I love and respect. I have never had a job that I truly enjoyed like this. It makes every day fun. 

The most bizarre?

I think just being a ‘foreigner’ is the most bizarre. People stare at you no matter where you go. One time I was on the subway and I saw a man taking a picture of me with his cellphone, trying to pretend he was texting. It is a very strange feeling to stand out, and it doesn’t necessarily feel good. I don’t think it is really rude to stare in Korea, so people will literally just sit with their eyes on you non-stop. The younger Korean people are very nice, in my experience; but some of the older Korean people don’t understand why we are here and can make that very clear (sometimes using negative words for white people). Basically being a foriegner anywhere must feel bizarre, this is just my fist experience with it. 

 

Meaghan and her husband Adam Smith

Meaghan and her husband Adam Smith

You are there with you husband. Do you think you would have made this choice if you were travelling alone?

 

I know I would have made the same decision if I was alone. I always wanted to travel, this is just one way to do it. Having said that, my husband has made this experience ten times more fun and easy. We always have each other no matter what, which makes living in a new country much easier than it is for most people. Many people come to Asian countries to live and end up feeling very alone and isolated, because I have my husband I can avoid that kind of homesickness. We have been able to share the ups and downs together and I feel so lucky to have him here by my side. 

 

A typical Korean restaurant

A typical Korean restaurant

How do you spend your free time?

What we like to do most is have good food and be with good people. When you eat Korean food, it is a very social activity. All the food on the table is to be shared, and it can take many hours to finish. It is definitely my favourite thing to do here. 

When you complete this experience, what do you hope you can walk away with?

So many things … I will have a better opportunity to get into good schools for teaching, as many of them see experience as a requirement for acceptance. I will have a better understanding for different cultures, specifically how difficult it is to live in an unknown country. I have also seen a side of my husband I didn’t know existed. How giving and gentle he is with the children, has made me love him even more. A deeper appreciation for Canada and all the space and beauty we have. And finally, I hope to walk away with money in my bank account and to be debt-free!

1 Comment

Filed under Adventure, Family, Guest Posts, Learning, Living, Tales, Travel