Another birthday, another cake

January 24, 2011

I haven’t blogged much lately. I mean to — I keep thinking of things I’d like to blog about. Like how my Gen Y employees don’t know the movie Broadcast News, even the one who studied journalism. Or like how men seem to get bored of driving the car they used to love, even though it’s still a perfectly wonderful car, but they’re bored so want a new one. Or how my Boomer client has come to realize that the retirement home in a quiet community isn’t for her, because she’d be bored, and what does that say about retirement. And if boomers aren’t retiring, what does that mean for Gen X? Or about how I’ve come to realize that there are probably no jobs for me that someone thinks is full time that I couldn’t do part time like I’m doing now. Or like how I can’t seem to find time for blogging but I can find time for twitter.

But I haven’t found time to blog in ages, so those entries will have to wait (although now that I’ve written them down, maybe I’ll get to them sooner).

So instead I’m blogging about my kid’s birthday. Mostly so I can brag about his cake, which I made. I make the cakes for my kids’ birthdays every year, and I let the kids choose what their cakes will be. Some years they make it really tough, but this year my younger son made it easy. He was having an art party and they’d be making clay penguins, and since he’s obsessed with Club Penguin (a kids social networking site — another blog post there sometime!), he wanted a penguin cake. So I delivered. What do you think? Did I nail it?


My twentieth Terry Fox Run

September 20, 2010

I ran the Terry Fox Run this morning with my family, and it was the 20th run that I have done. I’m proud that we raised money for cancer research, I’m proud that we ran (the kids completed the 3K route with parents lagging behind), but mostly I’m proud that I am able to pass on this tradition to my children.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run. I can’t believe I missed the first ten, but I have made a point of doing this run every year since 1991. I’ve run it in Ottawa, in Kelowna, in Winnipeg, and in Vancouver. Wherever I was, wherever my family was travelling that weekend, we always got to a run site.

Why do I do this? Well yes, it’s a good cause. A wonderful cause. Nearly all the money raised goes directly to funding innovative cancer research. But mostly I do it because Terry Fox was a real hero to me. I was a teenager when he ran across Canada. I was living in Winnipeg then and was really excited about him coming through my city. I wanted to run alongside him when he came through. But of course he never made it to Winnipeg. His run ended in Thunder Bay, about 700 kilometres from my home.

So I run the Terry Fox Run every year to honour my hero. And I drag my family along every year to teach them about Terry and why he is such a wonderful person to look up to. I think I’m even getting through to my kids.

I ran away from my life and came back calmer

August 20, 2010

I didn’t realize it had been the entire summer since I blogged. Shame on me. Ah well, we do the best we can, right? I’ll try to turn over a new leaf and blog more now that back to school is in sight.

I had a stressful summer. My half-time job has really ramped up, and the stress levels with it. I’m only supposed to put in two days in their offices, but it’s been at least three nearly every day this summer, and there is so much going on, I spend hours every weekend dealing with stuff.

And then there are the boys. My kids are adorable and loveable and I really enjoy them — some of the time. But there have been a lot of points this summer when I thought I would lose my mind, when I wanted to crawl into a hole, and I’m not ashamed to admit, when they drove me to tears. The worst was a two-week period when hubby went away. One or other of my kids was sick the whole time, which of course means extra whiny and hard to deal with. And both were cranky and ill-behaved. I thought our two weeks without dad would be extra fun, but instead when he fianlly came back I was burned out. Work didn’t help, of course (see above).

Anyhow, we had set aside a week for a family driving holiday, but hubby was jetlagged and behind at work and frankly, I wasn’t up to it. So we went away as a family for a weekend, and then on one week’s notice, I booked myself a getaway.

I knew I wanted something calming, and while I wanted to go alone, I didn’t want to be by myself. So I decided a tour group would be ideal, and something mildly athletic seemed the ticket. I found a wonderful kayaking trip with a cancellation in the week I wanted, and just like that, booked it. There were not-terribly-expensive flights to the island town that the tour went out of, and the tour company takes care of nearly everything. So I spent six days on Northern Vancouver Island and four days kayaking on Johnstone Strait.

I loved it. The people were nice but I had lots of time to myself. The campsite was lovely and we even had a hot tub overlooking the ocean. We saw whales (Orcas and humpback), a bear, seals, dolphins, porpoises, sea stars, anemones, and lots more I’m forgetting. The paddling was pretty easy, and I seemed to be one of the stronger paddlers anyhow. The whole experience was lovely and I felt so calm and under-stimulated (in a good way) while I was there.

While I thought the best part would be escaping my family, it turned out that the very best part was escaping work. There is no cell service where I was, so for six days, I was cut off and maintained radio silence. And you know what — nothing happened. The world went on without me, nothing bad happened, no clients quit or got mad. Sure, my kids didn’t see a vegetable the whole time that wasn’t covered with ketchup, and even they said they were tired of watching tv while in daddy’s care, they were all in one piece when I got back.

For five days after I returned I didn’t even yell at my kids. Of course, on the sixth day I did, and work is starting to stress me out again. But I try to recapture the calm I felt as often as I can.

Running away was the best thing I ever did for myself. I don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner. Where shall I run to next year?

Mommy, what’s a bastard? Mommy, what’s wrong with being one?

June 30, 2010

Recently I took my 9-year-old to see the original version of the Bad News Bears — you know, the Walter Matthau version. I think it was an edited version, because I was waiting for the scene where he writes the word “assume” on a board then divides it up into “ass” and “u” and”me”. Anyhow, that scene wasn’t in it. But there were lots of instances where the boys on the team called each other bad names.

And which bad name jumped out at my 9-year-old? Bastard. So he asked me:

9-year-old: Mommy, what is a bastard?

Embarrased mom: It’s a bad word, an insult. I don’t ever want you to say it.

Overly inquisitive 9-year-old: OK, mommy, but what does it mean really?

Mom: It’s when someone is the child or parents who weren’t married. A long time ago that was shameful.

9-year-old: What’s wrong with your parents not being married?

And there you have it — what is wrong with it anymore? Nothing to my son’s generation. Half their friends are products of unmarried partners, accidents, single parents, and more. So who is a bastard anymore anyhow?

I’d love raising kids more if I never had to put them to bed

June 12, 2010

When my kids were babies, bedtime was fun. We had a routine, we read stories, we cuddled, they had milk, they went to bed, they fell asleep. I miss those days.

Nowadays, getting my boys to bed seems like a fight all the time. They have a million excuses to stall getting to bed. They have to finish something. They have to go the bathroom. They have to find something. And then when I finally get their teeth brushed and get them into bed, it seems like ages until they fall asleep.

I think it’s even worse with my guys, because they share a room. So when one of them wants to goof around after lights out, they can play around for ages together. Hubby and I can get so frustrated trying to get them to calm down and try to sleep. As the summer comes on at last and it gets light later and later, it gets harder and harder to get the boys to sleep.

I’d love to let them go to bed as late as they want, but they never ever sleep in. No matter when they go to bed, they are up at the crack of 7. And when they don’t get enough sleep, I’m stuck dealing with a tired, cranky kid and I have to bear the brunt of their lack of sleep.

I know, in a few years they’ll be teenagers and I won’t be able to wake them up in the morning, but these years seem tough, and I wish someone else could get my kids to sleep every night.

Can you explain your job so a seven year old can understand?

May 6, 2010

My kids don’t really understand what I do for a living. They know I write, they have some vague understanding that I work with the news people. But they don’t really get what public relations is.

So it was really tough this week when my seven year old’s grade one class called on parents to come talk about their jobs. I kept trying to think of how I would explain it. Could I find a way to describe PR so kids could understand?

Do you understand what PR is? I find many adults have a vague understanding but don’t really know themselves. I teach a course on media relations and even then I feel like it can be hard to define without a lot of examples.

So what did I tell the seven year olds? I asked if any of them have seen a reporter on the news, then asked if they’ve ever seen a reporter interview someone about what’s going on in their organization. Almost all nodded yes, so I told them I was that person being interviewed. They seemed to get that, so I told them I write a lot, and talk a lot. I asked if they like to write. Lots of kids raised their hands. I told them they could be in PR. I asked if any of them liked to talk (my son was first to raise his hand at that!), and then told those that raised their hands that they could be in PR.

When I was a kid, my dad was an engineer, and that’s the only part I understood. My mom “helped people with problems,” which is all I understood about her role as a social worker. I don’t think I really explained the essence of my job to the grade ones, but at least I came up with an explanation they could understand. Could you do any better?

A 1980s movie classic — The Karate Kid — inspires the next generation

April 27, 2010

My 7-year-old has recently started taking Taekwondo lessons. He’s very excited about them. So are we. We are really hoping that what the other parents have told us, that martial arts forces kids with a tendency to goof around and not listen to instruction, to be better learners. We also hope that the class’ lessons about respect for your teachers and your parents might have some spill-over into our home life. It’s been a few weeks so far, and while he’s still excited about Taekwondo, I’m still waiting for that spill-over.

Anyhow, when martial arts entered our home, I made a joke about “wax on, wax off.” I know you know what I mean by that. But the boys didn’t. So I decided my kids needed to see the original Karate Kid, the film that really launched skinny minny Ralph Macchio into our hearts, the 1984 original Karate Kid. So I rented it.

On the way to the video store, I told my son that every adult past a certain age would know what I meant by “wax on, wax off.” He didn’t believe me, so I stopped three random strangers — one in his 30s, one in her 40s, and one in her 60s, and all knew what it meant. At the video store, my son asked the 20-something clerk if he knew what it meant. He didn’t (but the other clerk, same age-ish, who overheard, did know).

The kids and I watched the film last weekend, and I gotta say it didn’t quite live up to my memories of it. The plot seemed a bit thin, and the end went too fast, from (spoiler alert, if you’re 20-something and have never seen the movie, I am about to give away the ending!) overcoming his injury to win the final round at the karate tournament, then the mean boy handing him the trophy and saying that he’s all right after all. But I still loved seeing it. (And thanks to Youtube, I found these clips to include in my blog post. Cool, huh?)

And my kids loved the film too. They immediately ran around doing karate moves everywhere (until a few minutes later when one got kicked in the eye by accident. Occupational hazard in a home with two boys). And now they’re walking around doing the “wax on, wax off” thing themselves all the time.

Show this film to your kids before the remake comes out. In fact, I recommend this strategy for most of the films we loved that are being remade. When was the last time you saw Escape to Witch Mountain?