Friday, April 13, 2018

Blue Skies!

When my big girls were little, one of their favourite (and mine, honestly) bands was Bobs and Lolo. We had all their CDs, knew the words to every song, and were thrilled to go to their concert when they played near us. If you've got little guys, really, look them up, they're great.

As the kids got bigger, and moved on to music aimed at an older audience, I still listened to Musical Adventures and Action Packed around the house. Eventually they got put away, and it was kind of sad.

So imagine how excited I was when Bean showed up and I could get them back out again. Not only the old ones, but they released a new CD this year that was nominated for a Juno award!

One of the things I've always liked about Bobs and Lolo is that their music isn't all the same. They play a wide variety of styles that make their CDs easy to listen to over and over without getting bored or needing to hide it for a break. And Blue Skies delivers the same kind of musicality while being kid and parent friendly alike. Even though my big guys are super mature pre-teens now (as far as they're concerned, anyway), they sing and dance along every time.

If you're looking for something new for your kids - and honestly, all my kids enjoy them at 2, 9, and almost 13 - definitely give Bobs and Lolo a listen.  Bean is just learning to talk, and she asks for them by name. Granted it's "Bobalodo dance" that she asks for, but I know what she means.

*I was provided with a copy of Blue Skies for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are absolutely my own. I really do love them just this much!*

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Month So Far...

Hey Guys!

In case anyone was wondering where I've been, here's a little update:

This month is NaNoWriMo, which I am attempting again after not participating for the past couple of years due to babyosity (not a word, but if it were, it would mean the overwhelmedness of adjusting to another whole person bursting into your life. [overwhelmedness may not be a word either.]). I'm doing fairly well, although I am as of this moment about 8,000 words behind.  However! As all NaNoWriMos know, no matter how many words you end up with, it's more than you had before.

I am proud to say that despite that disheartening number, I am going to persevere and get as close as I can, even though the rest of November is chock a block full of other stuff that I have to do. Stuff including, but not limited to:

 - parent teacher interviews for both kids at different schools.
- preparing for a Christmas craft show where I will be selling crocheted critters, several varieties of handmade Christmas ornaments, and several other nick nacky things.
- having a day with my friends, who I haven't seen in ages, one of whom is about to enter the world of babyosity herself. 
- cleaning my shameful pigsty of a house and decorating for Christmas. Yes, I know it's only mid November. Why yes, I have been watching Christmas movies and humming carols since I got back from trick or treating with the girls. Yes, I am one of "those people".
- making time for a doctor's appointment to hopefully figure out why I've felt sick since August.
- planning a birthday party for Beege, who is going to be Twelve in a few weeks. TWELVE.

ANYHOO. It's busy over here guys.

I need to go take advantage of the fact that it appears that Bean may be *knock wood and whistle* settling down for a nap, and go get that word count up.

Talk to you soon,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

That's THIS Weekend?

Apparently, it's Halloween this weekend. Or next week? Whatever. The point is, it is very soon, and I have not given more than half a second's thought to costumes, candy, or decorations.

I used to *love* Halloween. Parties, candy, movies, costumes? Awesome. And once kids came along, making their costumes was one of my favourite things. For the past few years though... not so much. Very Pregnant me just wanted to go to bed early. New baby in my arms me just wanted *everyone* to go to bed. Last year, I sat on the front stoop to head off the trick-or-treaters before they got to the door and rang the bell, so as not to wake the not-quite-as-new baby who took forever to settle.

This year? I plan to leave some candy at the end of the driveway, turn off all the lights and binge watch something while Husband takes the kids out. Because I am a horrible Halloween grinch.

But. As many of you know, I am also a neurotic person who probably shouldn't be watching scary movies alone in the dark when there is the distinct possibility of strangers, possibly dressed in scary costumes, knocking on my door to tell me my candy bowl is empty.

So, I have come up with a list of Halloweeny, yet not terrifying things to watch.

First up: The Babysitter. A movie that, while classified as horror, is so ridiculous that I will not be having nightmares.

Next up: Little Evil, because who hasn't wondered every once in a while if their kid was the Antichrist?

Then, if I haven't fallen asleep on the couch under a pile of fun sized chocolate bar wrappers, I can round out the night with some Scream Queens and/or The Santa Clarita Diet. Both of which somehow manage to be extremely sweet and charming, despite all the murdering and the copious amounts of blood.

Hopefully, by next year when Bean is ready to head out and bug strangers for candy, I'll be ready to get back into the whole thing. For now, I'll be perfectly happy ignoring everyone and watching grisly, yet somehow comedic, murders on my couch.

What are you all doing?

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.