Category Archives: Observations

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.”

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Filed under Family, Living, Observations, Tales

I’m still here, are you?

I started this blog in June. Within 2 weeks, I was an addict. My head is always spinning about, thinking about potential blog posts and ruminating about other people’s posts. I just love how the blogosphere keeps my mind a-buzzin’.

Most of all, I love the fact that people actually come here, read my words and take the time to comment. Oh, I love, love, love that! Not sure why, but if you want, you can pay a therapist to figure out why I need this type of affirmation. As for me, I’ll just keep carrying on.

And on this theme, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve got in the works. It’s a new blog design!

I am really excited about it, but trying to squeeze it all in between my paying gigs has resulted in a slower process (thanks for being so patient Brendan!). It’s almost ready for show now. The design idea was developed by my friends over at AN Design Communications. They know me well, and managed to visually create something that looks like it came right out of my head.

So, all this to say, it’s been 4 months. I’m still here. I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey.

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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.

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Would your husband notice?

In More magazine’s September issue, a writer gets her face pumped up with injectable filler and bets that her husband won’t notice. Or at least she hopes, since he’s philosophically against these kind of “youthenizer” treatments.

Her article “Is my epidermis showing?” reads a bit like a sad commentary on modern family life. When her husband arrives home after work, she’s on pins and needles wondering if he is going to notice. Instead:

He comes in the door, calls hello and asks if there is any dinner left. I approach, smile and say I made a lovely dinner and there’s plenty left for him.

“Great. Thanks.” He brushes past me and sits with his dinner and the newspaper. Good. I guess.

 Huh? That’s the extent of their interaction? It’s no wonder then that he doesn’t notice her face. He probably wouldn’t notice if she got an entire face-lift done!

But as much as I would like to distance myself from this writer (who is going by the pyseudonym “Ivana Filler” – LOL), I have to wonder … would my husband actually notice if I got a filler? What do you think — would yours?

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Letter from South Korea: Part 1

How does a recent graduate stay hopeful?

The unemployment rate for youth climbed to 14.9 per cent in May, says Stats Can. One in five young adults have moved in with a friend or relative, says Maclean’s. Most are suffering from recession anxiety, says the Calgary Herald.

If you’re graduating soon, recently graduated or a parent of one of the former, I hope you’ll take heart with this “Letter from South Korea” post.

Below, you’ll find Part 1 of my interview with a 24-year-old recent graduate from a Canadian university who has chosen to teach English as a second language in South Korea.

Meaghan Harrison @ National Museum of Korea

Meaghan Harrison @ National Museum of Korea

Her name is Meaghan Harrison, and she’s a fiesty young woman who I’ve known since birth. I’ve always admired her beautiful outlook on life. Hand her lemons and she honestly wouldn’t think to do anything else but throw a lemonade party.

What made you decide to leave Canada?

Ever since I was a little girl and saw my big sister (you might know her, she happens to write an interesting blog in Ottawa) travel after university, I knew I wanted to do the same. I thought I might do some back-packing around Europe, but that didn’t really fit well with my economic situation. Teaching overseas is the perfect way to meet both of my goals: travel and pay-off student debt.

Job opportunities are pretty limited in Canada right now. You can take a low-wage entry position (which I did for a while), but this makes it extremely difficult to make rent and pay-off student debt. I actually made more money waitressing, but I wanted to get into something different.

 How did you pick South Korea?

Gyeonbokgung Palace

Gyeonbokgung Palace

As soon as I decided I wanted to do teaching abroad, I started researching on the internet and contacting friends that had done the same thing. I just kept hearing great things about South Korea and I got in touch with a recruiter who really helped me decide that South Korea was the place to do. Some of the other Asian countries are more expensive to live in, and South Korea has a reputation for better contract and employment conditions.

Have you always been interested in teaching?

In some ways, I always have been … but I never thought I would want to be a teacher as a full-time job. I enjoy working with children and I also did some hockey coaching for youth when I was in university. And I can remember, when I was very little, that I used to hold classrooms in my bedroom for my stuffed animals! I even gave out assignments and graded how each one did; I think my stuffed lion animal was my best student!

With students

With students

Now that I am actually teaching full-time, I can definitely see myself doing this when I return to Canada. I really love my job. I teach kindergarten level now and if I end up teaching back in Canada, I would like to teach older children. But this is an excellent way to start – if you can teach six-year-olds to read, write and speak English, then anything is possible!

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

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Filed under Adventure, Family, Guest Posts, Headlines, Learning, Living, Media, Observations, Tales, Travel

Thursday’s Thought

“I realized the power writing has, and it has also helped me deal with my rage … It gave me a lifelong commitment not to be afraid to speak out about injustice.” — Dominick Dunne

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Character flaws

I’m a sucker for anything with “character.” You know, one of those people that real estate agents market “charming” properties too. Also, the type that buys a new lipstick simply because its packaging is just so darn beautiful. And last but not least, the buyer of highly impractical, but terribly cute shoes.

I can see how this could be considered superficial. It’s that whole form over function thing. But so far, this has not led me wrong.

Back in 1998 when we wanted to rid ourselves of our landlady, we chanced upon a century-home which had a view, beyond enormous mature trees, of a river. And it was in our price range. Too good to be true? Oh ya, you know it.

What we didn’t notice before buying was that it had not a single closet, nor even doors for the bedrooms. It did, however, have lovely green shag carpet in the bathroom.

Indeed, the place needed serious help, but we saw only its “character.” Since then we have welcomed a dog, a daughter and a son to this home and now it really feels like a part of our family too. Albeit a member of the family that is often a pain in the ass, and demands ridiculous amounts of attention.

Sure, my friends’ homes are far more functional, roomier and offer greater creature comforts, but we still like it here. And so goes the story of my life.

When we decided we wanted to get a puppy, I happened to see an ad in our community paper. I called and went over to see the litter. Oh, I was smitten from the very moment I saw them. I especially loved a male one that had floppy ears and long, soft hair. Yes, long hair. Contrary to everything my husband and I had decided upon in a dog — a medium-sized, non-shedding, clever breed — I brought home our Riley, who was very large and very hairy. And as for clever, let’s just say that he was the only student who didn’t pass his basic obedience course. But you know what? He turned out to be the sweetest dog ever.

See what I mean … character over function. It works for me.

That is, until now.

I’ve been working from a home office since 2005. And in all this time, I still haven’t set up a “professional” working space. Instead, I choose to work on a desk that is solid oak, and made by my grandfather’s hands when he was a student in grade 7.

It’s a beautiful desk. Created before computers, it doesn’t, however, have a proper keyboard area or shelf for a hard drive. Nor does it have enough desk space for a wireless modem, camera, calculator, files and the rest of my tools of the trade. I also can’t really fit my legs under it properly so most of the time I sit cross-legged in my chair.

Ah, who can worry about such details when you’ve got deadlines to meet, right? Well, apparently I better start taking notice now. I’ve developed a really sore arm — from my hand all the way up to my elbow on my right-hand side. I’m not sure what you want to call it … repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel. Whatever it’s called though, it hurts. Alot.

So tomorrow I will be dragging myself and my sore arm into some big box store for a desk with far less character. Paying good money for something that is functional. Who would’a thunk it.

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