Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ugh. Birthdays.

Being the mum (in my house anyway) means that responsibility for things like birthdays generally falls to me. Which is fine, because although it's exhausting, I actually do like doing all the set up and organising for the kids' parties. (Actually *attending* kids' parties is a whole other thing, but we'll talk about that some other time.)

And let's face it...  kid birthdays can be easy. All they really want is cake, a few presents, and people who love them. Add some balloons, maybe a movie, and a happy birthday from the characters of their favourite show (Beege is going to be super stoked to hear from Pikachu), and it is an awesome birthday.

The only birthday that I really have a problem with is mine*.

I spend all my time planning, remembering, and doing things for everyone else. It would be really great if I didn't have to do it for *one day*. And since I'm the one who does all the planning... for my birthday, nothing happens. Because I don't remind them. Which... kind of sucks. Anyway. my birthday is coming up, and I've lowered my standards. What I'd like for this year is to not have to do a single thing for anyone else.

And a piƱata.

Oh, and if Netflix is taking suggestions for some more birthday greetings - Sherlock would be nice.

*Although Husband's birthday is getting a bit harder since he just buys what he wants for himself, and/or never actually tells me what he wants. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

You Want to Watch What??

As is common with most people with small children, Husband and I sometimes have a hard time getting around to going out anywhere. So our fallback "date night" is ... you guessed it... Netflix and takeout. What's supposed to happen is that one of us will order the food while the other deals with bedtime, then we congregate on the couch, fire up the TV and start watching.

Sometimes, this goes exactly according to plan, and we've eaten and are snuggling on the couch in front of our latest binge by nine. 

Other times, what happens is that we forget to order the food because the kids outnumber us. So we have leftovers. That's okay. We're together, so still good. (Although, I really would've enjoyed that souvlaki dinner.) Then he sits down to pick a movie, because we've run out of seasons on our current favourite, while I tidy up *ahemplaySimscough* and empty lunch bags (a chore which my 9 & 11 year old children are going to start doing soon if they want to eat lunch at all). Half an hour... maybe an hour later, and he is still sitting there, scrolling through the selection screen.

I swear he'd be perfectly happy just sitting there watching trailers. I've also learned, after a hundred years of marriage*, that sometimes the selection screen is better than the stinkers that he actually settles on. Land of the Lost? Almost, but not quite bad enough to be good. Left Behind? Wow, dude...

That's what marriage is sometimes; compromise glued together with bad movies**.

For those nights when you don't want to take the chance that you're still scrolling while eating cold macaroni out of the kids' plastic bowls at bedtime (or trying to prevent all out war on family movie nights), Netflix has a few suggestions for persuading your people to just watch what *you* want to watch.

Now, for me, this first one is almost completely unnecessary. I could be in the living room by myself and mutter "Star..." under my breath and he would pop up and say "Wars?" The kids, however have taken convincing at times. (For example, we ended up watching Hop instead of Rogue One for our last family movie night. Whaaat?)

And for those times when you just can't take one more repeat of an episode of Friendship is Magic?

Maybe not? Want to expand some horizons with an interesting cooking show?

Now I just need one for Downton Abbey, and Christmas movies.

*Okay, not a hundred, more like 15.
**To be clear, watching bad movies with Husband is one of my very favourite things to do.

Monday, July 10, 2017


What's that sound? It's... nothing. It's the air conditioner running, and the fridge chugging along. It's quiet... and it's... beautiful. Bean has finally settled in her crib for a second (attempt at a) nap, and Beege and Kee have managed to agree on something long enough to take their butts outside for their mandated 20 minutes of outdoor time.

The kids have been home for a week now (oh god, has it only been a week?!), and since the bell rang on the last day of school, I have not had a moment of peace. From the second they get up, til the moment I manage to get them to finally close their doors and stay in their beds, there is noise. There is bickering, giggling, clicking, tapping, humming, singing, yelling, whining... it's not even all bad, it's just a *constant* stream of sound washing over me. Sadly, I am a person who really, really needs some quiet. This summer, I thought I'd try to impose a little structure so that I would get some.

I printed out a "Summer Rules" list that I found at Thirty Handmade Days. I made them each one and laminated them so that they could check off their lists everyday to keep track of finished activities.

It has actually been going surprisingly well.  The main problem is that they're pros at finding loopholes.

For example, If you go build something outside with your sister, who is scared to go out alone because a cat might attack her (yes, really. I'll get to that later), surely that counts as Playing Outside, Making/Building Something Creative *and* Helping Someone in the Family... right? No. Although, I suppose *technically* it does? No, no it doesn't. They're also counting things like shutting a cupboard the other one has left open as "helping someone". Again, technically? I suppose so, but it's not really in the spirit of the thing.

What I was really hoping was that it would take them most of the day to finish their lists so that we could all curl up on the couch with a movie on Netflix as soon as the baby went down. The reality is that they've both used up their screen time by lunch. And while I have caved when they suggest something like the new Netflix Interactive Storytelling (Their favourite is Puss in Boots), because while it is *technically* screen time, at least they're *technically* doing something creative..? Yeah.

So, everybody hit me with your free (or close to) ideas to entertain the kids for the summer. (Keeping in mind that I have neither pool, nor trampoline.)

Friday, June 9, 2017

13 Reasons Why

TW: Sexual assault, suicide. 

This post contains spoilers.

When 13 Reasons Why started streaming on Netflix, debates began about whether or not people should let their children watch it. I think that if your kids are teenagers, you should let them watch it - but, more importantly, that you should watch it with them.

I'm guessing that high school today is probably much the same as it was when I was there. Cliques, burgeoning sexual identity, shifting friendships, introductions to drugs and alcohol - all things that are being navigated while a kid is spending less time with family and trying to figure out who they are, and who they want to be, on their own. It is hard, and it can be scary.

I, at least, felt safe at home. Today, with kids as young as 7 having their own smart phones and constant access to social media, bullying has been made a possibility 24 hours a day, and nowhere is safe. And social media isn't the only thing they are accessing - many kids are learning about sex from the internet before anyone else gets a chance to discuss it with them, and I would imagine they aren't watching videos of people having loving, respectful relations. I recently heard about a 13 year old girl who had had boys in her class demand that she send them naked pics, going so far as to say they'd kill themselves if she didn't. What is a thirteen year old child supposed to do with that? As a parent, I honestly never even considered that would be something I'd have to talk to my daughters about at such a young age.

The show is intense, absolutely, but each terrible choice these kids make is an opportunity for discussion. It is horrible to watch Jessica struggling to come to terms with what happened to her, and what continued to happen to her as her assault was covered up by people who were supposed to be her friends. Here is an opportunity to discuss what someone might do, were they one of those friends. It is horrible to watch the light drain out of Hannah's eyes as the camera stays on her face when she is assaulted. Here is an opportunity to discuss the fact that anything but explicit consent means no. It is sickening to watch Bryce brag about his success with women. Here is an opportunity to discuss rape culture, and how to counteract it. We should be uncomfortable with rape. A lot of the media available to kids today makes violence and callousness seem normal; I'm all for anything that serves as a reminder that it shouldn't be.

Watching the show could trigger some negative feeling in a kid who has been through any of what these characters have gone through - feeling alone, curiosity about drugs and alcohol, confusion about their sexual identity, assault, suicidal thoughts - but that's an even more important reason to watch it with them. Talk about it with them. Listen to what they have to say. You may not even know that your child, or a friend, is experiencing these things; here is an opportunity to open the discussion. Give them a chance to ask for help.

If ours are lucky, and not the kids that are suffering, it is an opportunity to open their eyes to the fact that others might be. To remind them to take a moment out of their day to ask someone who looks sad if they are okay, maybe offer to talk. Just being acknowledged can make a kid who is on the edge step back. At the very least, we can remind them to stop for a moment and consider how their actions might be affecting others.

Not only does it give us a chance to talk to our kids about what they can do when something goes wrong, it gives a chance to talk about the choices that they will be faced with and how best to navigate them. Just because they don't necessarily tell us that there is alcohol at parties they go to, or that people they know (if not they themselves) are having sex, it doesn't mean it's not happening. Even if they're rolling their eyes and muttering under their breath, some of what we say sinks in. So let's talk to them about healthy sexual relationships, and how to gauge their feelings and trust their guts.

I also think that it's important for kids to see the aftermath of Hannah's decision to end her life. To see the confusion and heartbreak her parents felt. To realise that although her teacher was no help, that there were other avenues she could have pursued. To know that although she felt helpless, it could have gotten better. They need to see past the end of her life to what could have been and realise that there is likely more for them than they know as well.

Definitely watch it for yourself first. Prepare yourself for the topics that will come up so that you know what you're in for. Decide for yourself whether your children are mature enough for it. I think that part of the problem comes when we don't realise our kids are already growing up. We want to shelter our kids, and let them stay innocent of the garbage that happens out in the world, but we can't. Every time they walk through that door without you, they fall under the influence of people and media that you can't control. They are aware of so much more than we think they are. I really think that when a show like this comes along, giving us an opportunity to open the lines of communication about these difficult topics that will get even more difficult to broach as they get older, we should take it. 


If you'd like more of an idea of what you're in for before you watch, check out this review on Common Sense media.

If you're in Ontario and looking for information about support for assault victims, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centers is a good place to start.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Computer Was Worried About Me.

Hi there! How have you been? Busy busy? Yeah. Me too.

Well... not really.

Not... busy per se.

More ... overwhelmed, maybe? Not getting anything done because there is so much to do. You know. That.

This here, is the "baby corner". I have definite plans to add some shelving with cute bins for all those little bits that she likes to just throw all over the entire room - often immediately after I've finished tidying them up (as much as you can call this tidying) for the fourth time. There is a spot that has been designated for this. There will even be some cushions for a little reading area. It'll be swell.

Unfortunately, that area is currently taken up with what I fondly refer to as the "garbage couch". Others seem to think it is some sort of laundry storage unit. This is where the laundry baskets get placed while I wait for a time that I can fold it. Theoretically, people will take this folded laundry to their rooms, and put it in it's proper place. ie. Drawers, or the closet. Because clean laundry doesn't actually belong under your pillow for "easy access morning dressing", Beege!


This has proven to be somewhat of a problem, as things get piled on top of the baskets. For some reason, instead of putting things where they go, they just get put out of Bean's reach. It's a thing. Oh, how we laugh.

I've been trapped under this never ending avalanche of (seemingly pointless) tidying for a while now.  I am exhausted. I actually thought I was having a heart attack last month (turned out to be a gall bladder attack - they feel remarkably similar, except for the actually almost dying bit). That my body had just finally given up and didn't want to bother anymore, so it was going to go ahead and kill me. Do you know what I was thinking, while sitting in a small quiet room waiting for ultrasounds? (After the pain had stopped, and we were relatively sure that I was not, in fact, dying)

"Isn't this nice?"

It was quiet, and there was nothing I had to do except sit there. It was practically a vacation.

I haven't been writing, either. Which, as I've mentioned before is one of the things that helps me feel a little more human. Today though, the computer monitor sprang to life as I walked by with my tea. I would usually turn it off, mumbling about rotten people who don't bother turning the power off so that it scares me when it turns on for no reason. Today though, I took it as a sign. So I sat. I wrote. And I honestly do feel a bit better.

I may even clean something.

(But most likely, I'll clear of a corner of the garbage couch and settle in to binge watch some Orange is the New Black. You're not judgey. I like that about you.)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Cheaters Never Win.

Well. Sure they do. I mean... otherwise why would anyone ever cheat? When you win by cheating though, I don't think it actually counts as a proper win. Maybe that's what the saying means? I don't know, I can't cheat. It's not that I haven't wanted to, on occasion, speed up a board game with the kids, or cross on a red light when I can see there are absolutely zero cars on the road. I can't do it though.

The moment the thought enters my head, my face turns red and I get sweaty. It's just not in me. And even if I could manage it... the guilt. I still feel guilty about taking too many candies from one of those candy bin thingies they used to have at the grocery store. Do you know the ones I mean? You put in a quarter and take a couple of hard candies? Well I put in my quarter and took ten or fifteen. And I still feel horribly guilty for it. I was.. maybe seven. That's thirty years of guilt over hard candies. It's just not worth it.

I don't even fudge my answers on quizzes that no one else will ever see. I can't even watch ahead when I'm watching a show on Netflix with Husband. It's sad really.

On that last note though, not being able to watch ahead on Walking Dead or Life in Pieces means that I've had to find some things to watch when he's not around that he doesn't have dibs on, which means that I've found some really good stuff that I might not've otherwise! Lately, it's been a whole bunch of Australian shows (Offspring, Please Like Me, and A Moody Christmas) and Scottish Murder Mysteries (Shetland, Broadchurch), all of which I've enjoyed immensely.

The cast of Offspring

What about you? Cheater? Or would you never?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Avoiding Reality with Binge Watching.

I don't know if it's because kids are just growing up so much faster than they used to, or the fact that we have an actual baby in the house, but my kids are suddenly not little kids anymore. But they aren't exactly big kids either. They're at this weird in-between stage where they can sit down and have quite grown up conversations, but they'll still play dolls for a few hours every once in a while.

They're far too old for Puffin Rock, but way (way) too young for The Walking Dead. So when something comes along that we can all agree on to watch, I get really happy about it. Especially if it's based on books that we already know and love. Even *more* if it happens to star one of my favourite actors.


We love Lemony Snicket, and are extremely fond of the movie, so were super excited, but a bit wary, when we heard it was being made into a series for Netflix. It's always a worry when someone does a remake of something you love that the new version won't sit well. We haven't started watching it yet since Beege wanted to get through all of the books again first, but I have snuck a little peek on my own and I am expecting to be very happy.

Another one I'm thinking of watching with them is One Day at a Time.

I'm not familiar with the original, so I didn't have any expectations either way when I started watching it. The reboot, which centers around a Cuban-American single mother and her family,  tackles some serious issues -- like sexism, immigration, sexuality, and PTSD -- in a mostly light-hearted way, that would make it easy to springboard into a more serious conversation with my girls. The way things are going right now, with the real life series of rather unfortunate events in the U.S, I think we all need to start talking about these kinds of things sooner rather than later.

As for my own personal viewing, if you're looking for something oddly fun to take your mind off things, give Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency a go. Super weird. Stick with it though, because it's kind of awesome.