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?

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Almost finished my holiday shopping — can you believe it?!

November 20, 2010

The minute Halloween ended, Christmas season began. Or so says the retail world. November 1 I heard my first carol and saw my first splash of red and green. Are there people who like having two months of Christmas? Because I am not one of them.

Before you jump all over me and call me Scrooge, may I point out that I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas at all. In fact, ever since I was a kid, not celebrating Christmas was a big part of defining ourselves as Jews. Our Christmas tradition is to go out for Chinese food and go see a movie. Of course, these days all the goyim go see movies too, so it’s a lot more crowded than when I was a kid. So while I like the lights and the days off and the parties and food, I don’t like having Christmas thrown at me in an overwhelming way for such a long time.

Not that any of that has anything to do with what I’m about to brag about — I have nearly finished my holiday shopping. Despite being Jewish, I still have to keep up with the Jones and buy my kids presents, only for Chanukah (a very minor Jewish holiday that falls sometime around Christmas that has turned into a gift-giving occasion, not that it was that when I was a kid). And this year I hit the early November sales, made lists, and have bought all but a few of my gifts already. I know, you hate me.

If it makes you feel any better, Chanukah is early this year — December 1-8 — so I had to get shopping earlier. And I still have to figure out the food and clothes part (I have nothing nice to wear for the party I’m throwing!).

But come on, you hate me, don’t you. Ha ha.


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?


Is it really a vacation if you take your laptop?

May 31, 2010

As I draft this, I’m on holiday. We are taking our annual trip to the island to enjoy an extended weekend at the seaside. And as usual, the weather sucks. We come here every year (my mother-in-law owns a cabin we get to pull out of the rental pool once a year before high season), and while we love it here, we almost always get so-so or bad weather. It’s not that the weather is bad here, it’s usually absolutely gorgeous. Just rarely the weekends we come. This year it’s raining and cool. Whoopee.

But we’re away, and that in itself is nice. It took us a ferry ride to get here (and thanks to bad planning, a two-hour wait for the next ferry when we missed our reserved ferry by 15 minutes), but the kids were in okay moods and I managed to feel a bit relaxed en route. Yet now I’m on my laptop, following up with work stuff, checking in with the baseball team I coach, and drafting blog entries to post next week. So is it a vacation if I fail to unplug?

I often with I had one of those careers or jobs where I could walk away for a week or two and not have it all fall apart without me. But I’m a consultant, and if I’m not in touch, I could easily have no work, or at least, no income. Plus, I think I’m just one of those type-a people who needs to stay on top of things, even if I’m not doing much work. I want to know that I’m not missing anything.

I have unplugged before. I turned off my email and didn’t even check it for five days when we went to Mexico. And our lakeside cabin last summer had no internet or cell service, so I didn’t have any emails for five days that holiday. And of course I survived, and so did my business. But I don’t know if it made me any more relaxed.

Taking a long weekend right now necessitates having my laptop to follow up on some work. It’s the only way I could get away. And I’m lucky that my work is this portable. Besides, having my laptop means the kids can play games, we can watch movies and listen to music, and I can get some writing in. Those are all things that help relax me.

Yeah, I’m justified staying plugged in, and it’s not all about work. Let’s go with that.

Tomorrow I’ll try to avoid the laptop and spend more time walking on the gorgeous beach. If the rain stops.


My mother never had it this bad: The demands of a working mommie’s busy week

April 17, 2010

We have just made it through a working family’s version of a week of h-e-double toothpicks. And I am sure every generation says this about their parents’ years, but I am pretty sure my mother never had a week like this.

With both my husband and I working for ourselves, we usually have some time to run errands and the like during the week. But lately we’ve both been taking on new contracts and are both working full out. For him, it’s meant a race to get home by 4:30 to race the boys to their swimming lessons. Or rushing the boys out the door in the morning to before-care (a daycare feature of their after-school program we almost never used before) so he can get to work early. For me, this week has meant four days of working downtown, instead of only two, meaning no time working from home. It meant working nights to catch up. But I also had two breakfast meetings that had me leave home before the kids even woke up. And I had three evening sessions that meant I got home after the boys were in bed. Plus we had our first baseball game (my son’s team, but as coach it’s my team too), two baseball practices, and I had book club. I’m exhausted just writing it down.

It was so bad that:

  • We didn’t sit down for a family meal together until Friday.
  • I didn’t see my kids for two 24-hour stretches.
  • It took me 2 1/2 days to do three loads of laundry.
  • The guys had to wait around one morning for pants to come out of the dryer because they had nothing clean they were willing to wear.
  • We ran out of milk and vegetables.
  • My older son was practicing for his spelling test on the walk to school Friday because it was the only time I had to help him.

On the bright side, I did bike downtown four days in a row, so at least I got some exercise despite the schedule. And on an even brighter note, it’s really made us appreciate how easy we usually have it, and how great it is to have a weekend to relax. Of course, the weekend would be better if it would stop raining for this afternoon’s baseball game.


The kids at my office — the internet is a great thing

December 30, 2009

We’ve been playing juggling games with child care for the last couple weeks while the boys are on winter holidays. We didn’t want to put them into a child care program, so have been very creative. A friend who was home with her one boy took my two for a whole day. She survived, but I think it reaffirmed her decision to stop at just one child. I’ve given up trying to get a lot of work done at the home office and have just been at home, and sometimes ready to tear my hair out. And we traded with another mom whose kids are usually in afterschool care with my two. One day she took my two so I could come to the office, and another day I took her two so she could go to work. That worked pretty well, since having a friend over is much more entertaining than just having a brother around.

But today, we did without mostly. Hubby took most of the day off to hang with the kids (tear his hair out? I hope not — not much left there to tear!), then mid-afternoon he drove them to my office, where they stayed for a couple hours. Yet I continued to work. I managed this with the magic of the internet. There aren’t a lot of people in at work this week, so it’s quiet to begin with. I warned my co-workers, but I almost needn’t have bothered. They were on the computer, surfing at Webkins or Club Penguin, and quiet as mice in the office next door to mine. There’s lot of food around the office for snacks, and at the end of the day, they bus home with me. All that gives hubby a few hours to catch up on work.

I won’t be doing this often, but it worked well this week.