Proud Gaggle of Misfits

I get schooled fairly regularly by my kid. She will quiz me on various Korean pop band members names, challenge me with various lines from The Outsiders, try her best to stump me with various characters from The Walking Dead. And most recently she has fully schooled us on all of the genders and sexualities that have been given names so that those who live them don’t feel nameless.

Her teacher actually explained these all to them and like every other time, we learned something from her.

No, not the names, or even the fact that there are technically more than 2 or 3 genders.

We learned how smart and loving our daughter is. How curious she is to understand other people. How open she is to knowing and loving them anyway. How supportive she can be when she understands and connects with an idea and how strong she can be when she believes everyone has the right to be just who they are and no one else.

I’m just a little bit proud of her.

We went to the pride parade again this year with a couple of her friends. It was a beautiful day full of colour and fun and music and people just being themselves. We wandered along the parade route once the festivities had passed and just enjoyed being a part of it all. No one was worrying about what people might be saying. No one was afraid to hold the hand of the person they loved.

When we were almost home I noticed two men crossing the street. They were holding each others hands lightly until they got to the median. When they had to cross the portion of the street with cars waiting to go, they let go of each others hands. What a sad, sad thing to witness after such a glorious day. How shitty it must be for them to have come from such a wonderful day full of acceptance and freedom to be yourself only to feel the pressure of strangers in cars and pretend like you are with your bro instead of your partner.

I didn’t bring this to McK’s attention. Giggling away in the backseat, oblivious to society’s ugly heaviness happening just feet away, I was not about to change their mood, or ruin their high from such a fun outing, by pointing this out.

No, instead I will just listen to their wild and wacky conversations, I will smile as she schools her pal on japanese rock lyrics, I will allow my heart to fill with pride of another kind, I will marvel at the little woman my little girl is becoming as she grows up and learns how to be so caring and thoughtful and aware.

We left rainbow coloured footprints on the streets of downtown this Sunday.

winnipeg pride parade

The leaders of tomorrow, ready to fight the injustices of the world!

Getting Behind Your Country

To say you are in love with your country is a statement not many would freely utter unless prompted.

But I love Canada. I love Manitoba. I love Winnipeg and all it’s quirky little personalities. Because yes, Winnipeg most definitely has a personality. It throws incredible weathery temper tantrums but when it is having a good day, we ALL get to bask in it. It has bumpy roads to nowhere but when you find one tucked away that not many others have been down you are treated to the spectacular beauty that it hides deep inside. It may not have mountains but if you get in a canoe and just paddle, you will soon find yourself in either the sweltering heat of the Amazon or the freezing cold of the Arctic ocean.

But I digress. Canada, as a whole, is often overlooked and underrated. I think that is why those who choose to live here get rather passionate when it comes to their undying support of the teams that reside within these beautiful (and un-walled) borders.

For me, there are 3 sports or events that have taken us to the international stage that have required my never ending and vocal support because when faced off against the rest of the world, the Big 4 or the mighty Americans, we have always been viewed as the underdogs, the automatic seconds, the chokers.

I’m talking the Olympics, tennis and NBA basketball.

I will be an instant fan of any Olympic sport that has a Canadian athlete participating in it and I will cheer like I have been following their story since they were 6 and their mom got them up in the morning to drive them to practice. I will tear up when they win and feel the heartbreak when they don’t and I will watch the medal counts like a hawk and mutter “ughhhh those Americans” when they sneak past us, which they inevitably do.

If you are a Canadian tennis player who has made it on to the scene, you will have our immediate and relentless support from the other side of our TV screen. Milos, Vasek, Genie, Aleks, Frank, heck even the veteran Daniel who, more often than not lately, is the last one remaining in a tournament left for us to cheer for. We desperately want to see you do good. And when Milos comes up against Djokovich or Murray, we cringe a little inside but do we whoop and hollar at every point he gets? Yes, yes we do.

We have just one NBA team here in Canada. They historically haven’t done too much to be memorable but in the last few years they have started to rise up and join the ranks of the big dogs. This year they made it through two rounds of playoff ball and in the last round, the deciding round, they fell to a giant. But what was so fantastic about that was that NO ONE outside of Canada had any faith that they would get to where they did. No one thought they could beat who they beat, game after game, night after night. They faltered, yes, and some will joke that hey, they’re Canadian, of course they choked. But while they were falling this entire country had their hands out to catch them and raise them back up to where they belonged.

So yes, I’ll be the one on the couch with damp eyes when our Olympic athletes take the podium in their red and white AND when they have to walk away with nothing. I’ll be the one on the couch with the damp eyes when our tennis players hoist the giant trophy in victory AND when they walk off the court first, proud but in defeat. I’ll be the one on the couch with damp eyes when our NBA team makes it to the semis when no one even gave them a second thought AND when they have to sit in their press conference and each fight over who’s fault it was that they lost because even if these kids weren’t born in Canada, they are Canadian now.

Oh Canada. The big little country that could.

our simple but beautiful flag

Oh Canada!

Where the Words Came From

The first thing I actually remember writing that ever earned any accolades, was a poem. The Charleswood Legion held a contest on Remembrance Day and I entered a poem and I won.

That is not to say I hadn’t written anything noteworthy prior to that, but it is my first piece that I can recall being read by people other than myself, my teachers, or my parents.

My mum showed me a little newspaper that I had made when I was much younger. It’s adorable and likely factually accurate in the way any 6 year old’s newspaper would be.

The next thing I remember is another poem that I wrote in Grade 12 that my teacher took issue with and actually called my mum about. My mum, being the amazing author and wicked wordsmith that she is, marched down to the school and skewered that dude like a shrimp on the barbie.

Beyond that, I wrote in many an unfinished journal, left poems scattered about like leaves, and grew my fascination with books that stemmed from endless childhood summers spent competing in reading contests at the Charleswood Library.

Many moons later, when I was a nanny, I found a local parenting newspaper and decided it was lacking something. I wrote to the editor and pitched my idea. It wasn’t just parent’s that were scouring your publication for things to do with these kids. It was nannies and daycare workers and teachers. So I earned myself a lippy little column that I would now call cringe-worthy. It turned into more of a “don’t do this if you have a nanny because she’ll hate you and leave” column and was my venting place for all things parenting that I didn’t have the guts to say to the parents who had left their child in my care.

Beyond that, a few published pieces here and there and endless blogs to post my prose seemed to sum up my writing life. Random and rambling, unfocused and many times unread, the blogs were a creative outlet that had no clear direction and no clear meaning but at the time, selfishly served their purpose.

Till now. 

I still love words. I still love books. I find enough on the internet to drink in all the information I need. I read about things that I normally wouldn’t. I write about things that I normally wouldn’t. I appreciate well thought out pieces. I acknowledge beautifully written ideas. I share. And I take in.

I love the patience of written words. I love that the written word gifts people with time and the opportunity to take a moment, to think about their reply, to respond with thoughtful and useful information. I love that the written word gives you a moment to colour your thoughts, to say more than you could or ever would out loud.

And so I muddle on, piecing together thoughts, stringing together sentences that try to tell a story or prove a point or embrace an idea. That movie script, that novel, those first drafts? They may never see the light of day.

Write them anyway.

 

William Wordsworth

Or the screen!

Surprises and Getting Back Into Things

Nearly two weeks ago I surprised McK with a trip to Toronto. I had kept this trip a secret for nearly 4 months, telling next to no one about it for fear that they would trip up and let even a tiny morsel slip.

When she woke up that morning, thinking she was going to school, she was oblivious to the butterflies in my belly. I played the morning ritual out like it was any other day. Wake her up at 7 am. Drag her out of bed at 7:10. Listen to her wash her face and brush her teeth and wait for the “Can you come straighten my hair” call. I chatted with her while we fussed around in the bathroom, like it was any other day.

She sat at the island like she always does. “Juice?” “Sure.”

Then, as it by some weird stroke of magic, I just HAPPENED to remember that my friend Leslie sent us a video and hey kiddo, you should watch this.

And then I saw the confusion in her face, the furrowed brow that appears when she is trying to work something out that makes no sense to her initially. She has had it for years. A look of “I should know what’s going on but I don’t”. Suspicion. Confusion. All emotions rolled into one.

The video ended with Carter and Leslie talking about meeting us in Toronto for a concert by one of her current favourite bands, The GazettE. I asked if she’d like to do that, like to go to Toronto. She looked a little giddy and said YES. Then, because I don’t think she realized the immediacy of it all, I told her it was that day, that we were leaving in a half hour to go to the airport and no, she would not be going to school for the next three days.

More furrowed brow.

“But…I’m not ready!”

Oh yes you are. I had it all taken care of. And off we went.

It was awesome. 

It reminded me how much I loved planning things for people I care about. How much I loved going to new places. How much I loved coming home.

It was very, VERY hard getting back into the swing of things once we got back. Its been a week now and I am starting to feel like we are back into our routine. Odd how 3 days away during the week can throw you off like that. Doesn’t typically happen when you venture out over a weekend because those were days that are meant for exploring.

But disappearing for half a week when you should be at work and school? That is scrumptious. And hard to recover from.

Alas, lunches don’t make themselves, groceries don’t appear in the fridge by magic, laundry doesn’t suddenly become clean all on its own. We are back and we are gearing up again.

And yes, I am planning more stuff.

Of course I am.

The Almighty Girl

I talk pretty regularly to McK about the things she enjoys, what she loves, what she is currently obsessed with and what she might want to be when she is older. Last week it was an author. This week it is a producer. Next week? Who knows.

I have never told her that she may make less, or have to work that much harder, simply because she is a girl. I have never told her because, knowing her, she would find that to be a ludicrous statement.

I certainly haven’t told her that if she enters a male-dominated field, like technology, not only will she get paid less, but she is more likely to be harassed and pushed out than many other fields. The GamerGate situation is one that leaves you feeling pretty hopeless for women in tech yet it is a topic I will likely have to broach with my 12 year old.

I’m not sure how to tell her about that.

How do you tell a 12 year old girl that simply because she loves video games and is amazing at them and might entertain working in that field, that she will be subject to potential ridicule, abuse, threats and constant intrusions into her life and the lives of her friends and family, just because she is a girl who can do what boys can, and do it better.

I know there are champions, both male and female, fighting the good fight for equality in those situations. And I can only hope that the boys she is in school with now, who grow up playing these games alongside her, will understand and promote that the tech sector is for everyone. I can only hope that if she chooses a field like tech, that by then the allies outweigh the bullies.

But more visible than that, and more talked about, is the equality in pay in virtually every professional field. I read an article today that detailed the fight that the US women’s national soccer team has taken on. I can only imagine the Canadian women’s team has it even worse.

“The World Cup pay skews so dramatically, the men earned $9 million for losing in their round of 16 in 2014, while the women earned $2 million for winning the entire tournament.”

Billie Jean King fought for equal pay at the US Open and in 1973, she got it. Venus Williams fought for equal pay at Wimbledon and in 2007, she got it.

The recent stories prompted by the Erin Andrews lawsuit. The Ghomeshi verdict. The comments on articles and tweets. They don’t give a gal much hope.

But I will continue to tell my girl, as I often do, that she can be and do anything she wants to. I will continue to foster and support her endeavors and her dreams. And I will continue to hope that the more Billie’s and Venus’ we have out there, the more USWNT voices that aren’t afraid to shout out loud, the less explaining I’ll have to do to my daughter.

Meal Planning for Dummies

I am not a chef.

I believe I referenced this in my last post where I highlighted my ability to melt chocolate chips (honest moment: it took awhile to learn how to do that successfully without burning them or making them into solid, gritty piles of nothing).

So when I think of what to make for a weeks worth of dinners, I flounder a little. Add to that my child exists on pasta and my husband has the stomach of a most delicate flower, my options shrink.

I have a roster of “hits” that I can make knowing they will be eaten and appreciated. But even the most steadfast repeat-eater (def: one who can eat the same thing regularly and not get sick of it) will eventually tire of the same 5 meals rotating through their belly.

Every now and then I try to get a little fancy. I attempt to broaden my horizons, expand my reach if you will. Once, I even made mahi-mahi. That’s right. (It’s a fish, I had to look it up back then too). Upon completing the mahi-mahi masterpiece, I was asked if it should be given to the dog or just thrown out. (For real, this happened, and yes, we’re still married.)

Keeping that SUPER successful experiment in mind I occasionally have to reign myself back in and abandon the crazier looking results from my Pinterest searches. These searches now typically involve the keywords gluten free, easy, quick, three ingredient, slow cooker, picky, did I mention easy?

When I meal plan there are two rules:

Keep it simple.

Know your audience.

We typically will have something with beef, something with chicken, something super fast, something that doesn’t require cooking, and something that is typically a little bit piece meal.

This week, for example, we will have:

Chicken, gravy, potatoes and veg (yes, I buy the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, SO EASY!)

Beef tacos with all the fillings on GF tortillas.

Homemade pizza on GF crust.

Italian sandwhiches on GF sub buns with salad.

End of week usually nets you a grilled cheese and some potato chips. Its Friday. Live a little. Or we’ll pick up some Thai. Either way, low effort, bits and pieces, easy for me.

By adding these meal ideas to my Meal Planner Worksheet I can begin to see what I already have in the house versus what I need to add to my grocery list for the week. Knowing this, I can then determine where I will go to get my groceries. While just about every grocery chain has a plethora of gluten free foods available, there is just one nearby that has the GF tortilla brand that doesn’t crack into a million pieces when you try to actually roll something up in it!

So with my meal plan prepared I can now add the “needs” to my grocery list and I am good to go. Grocery shopping becomes quick and easy and I don’t end up with an abundance of things we won’t use before they go bad or multiples of things we already had tons of in the pantry.

Keeping things on the simple side, knowing the likes and dislikes of who you cook for, being aware of the inventory of your fridge and pantry, these things give you back time in your week and contribute to a smooth transition into dinner time.

No matter who in your house does the cooking, spending a few moments getting prepared each week is something worth investing in. Some people plan a week at a time, some plan a month at a time, some use spreadsheets, some use meal planners like the one I made.

However you choose to equip yourself for the meals ahead, know you are adding efficiency into your life. By doing this one step prior to the start of your week, you have taken an often frazzled and stressful task  and turned it into a simple undertaking.

Simple is good.

Especially when they want to eat every night!

meal planning for dummies

Meal Planning for Dummies makes dinner easier!

 

What do you do to make your mealtimes a success? Any pre-cooking tips? Found any great recipes? Share in the comments!

And download your own copy of my Meal Planner Worksheet! Save yourself some time each week!

Embracing Less Than

I’ve learned a little something that seems to get me through a run with a touch more of a spring in my step. A bit of a jedi mind trick, if you will.

I used to trudge along, doing my best to not fixate on the clock but the second I did I was simultaneously shocked at how little time had passed and dismayed that OH MY GOD I HAVE 7 MORE MINUTES OF THIS?!?!?

Now I am well aware that the fascination with checking the time/distance is an instinct that is likely to remain to the end of time with anyone who sets their running shoe clad feet on a treadmill. However, I have figured out what to tell myself when I find my eyes wandering from the muted hosts of Sports Centre down to the little digital readout that screams at me in glowing green.

I no longer look at the time and think awwww man 7 more minutes of this pure and absolute torture. Nope. I now look at the screen and tell myself “Less than 7 minutes to go!”

Somehow looking at it as though there is less than X left to go makes completing said minutes so much easier than fixating on how many (or how few) minutes have passed and how many are still to be dealt with.

Calling it “less than” in some way makes the number seem smaller, makes the minutes you have already logged seem greater, makes the remaining effort seem more palatable.

It also pumps your tires a little to think you have already done 23 minutes and oh looky here, less than 7 to go! When you view it as still 7 minutes to go, or even saying only 7 minutes to go, it diminishes what you have already accomplished, as though yeah yeah, you ran 23 already but dude, you’re going nowhere for the next 7. Now move it!

I know, I know, its all in the mind. But sometimes, the mind knows just what to do to power you through that last leg without making you want to give up.

You’ll finish stronger when you change your mind to a positive view of the end result.

More vs less than?

Always choose less than.

afe6506f071aa389fc3f84a6391a155f

Positive mindset brings success!

 

How do you get yourself motivated to finish strong? Do you use the “x more to go” method or have you tried something different? Do you think the less-than-x style of thinking can help? Do tell!