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Music Monday | Darlin, Do Not Fear ~ Brett Dennen

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Early pregnancy is always a rough time for me. I fear being overconfident and then broken-hearted. I can’t seem to find that joy without a small piece of pain to weight it down.

This pregnancy in particular gave me a number of worries near the beginning. I struggled to hold my faith while at the same time Googling every symptom, every word that came out of doctors’ mouths. But where there was no definitive negative news, I had to have faith that whatever happened, I’d survive, I’d grow, I’d adapt.

I took so many of these words to heart, in particular:

Sometimes your path is marked in the sky
Sometimes it falls to fit in between the lines
Sometimes all you can do is say no
But darlin, do not fear what you don’t really know

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Categories: Baby, Me, Music

Music Monday ~ Red Hot Chili Peppers

June 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Sure, this song has been shuffled into play on more than one occasion in the last 12 or so years.  However, yesterday it came on as I was driving down 152nd, windows down, summer breeze coming through the window.

It definitely paralleled my route oh so many summer days and nights in 1999… except that every single other thing was different.  A minivan instead of a two-seater.  Bag packed with snacks and water bottles instead of … er, snacks and water bottles.  Two kids singing along in the back instead of random passenger.

Still one of my favourite driving songs from the first notes to the end.

 

Categories: Me, Music

What’s your sign, baby?

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Growing up, I somewhat believed in astrology. I think most teenaged kids, girls especially, want something to identify with. Since there’s always good traits and bad traits assigned to each astrological sign, it wasn’t too difficult to find something flattering to assign to myself. I liked the idea of being a fiery risk-taker, since it easily excused my temper tantrums and nasty temper.

As an adult, I rarely give thought to horoscopes. Recently the subject came up over dinner. After explaining a situation where my friend SS described her daughter as sensitive, she justified it with “But you know, she’s a Cancer.”  As if that was common knowledge.  I was surprised: S is extremely savvy and not someone I’d expect astrological teachings from, and with such seriousness!

The rest of us began to talk  about our kids’ astrological signs (and for a few of us, we had to try to figure it out…). Again, of course we love to identify our kids with something.

But again, I found it to be extremely accurate! Over the last few months, my husband has repeatedly described our two-year-old as “stubborn as hell” (I describe him as “two”.) I hadn’t even thought ot put it together until I realized: he’s a Taurus. I don’t know too much about astrology but I do know that that’ll be one of the most stubborn. Or does he just get his stubborn streak from me? Or do I have a stubborn streak because I’m an Aries (the Ram)?

Speaking of Aries, as I check it out just to provide a link for my post, I’d have to say hells yeah, anyone that knows me might agree with this assessment.  (Although you will never, ever find me playing sports. I count interneting as “playing hard”.)

My older son is sensitive and emotional yet closed off. Enter the Cancer. It is uncanny how close the description is.  Anyone who knows him will agree, he can “retreat” into his shell.  (My little Crab!)

While I miss the old days when I’d “read the paper” on a daily basis (horoscope & Dear Abby), I won’t be consulting the stars before major (or any) decisions.  I have enough over-thinking to do in life, and I sure could spend a lot of time obsessing over at Astrology.com.  But I do think it’s very interesting how the astrological signs mirror our personalities so accurately and it made me wonder about yours!

Does your astrological sign accurately describe you?  Does your kids?  Do you believe in the astrological love match?  Love to hear it…

 

Categories: Kids, Me

PAC: These are my people.

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, the moment I’ve been waiting for has arrived.  PAC (Parent Advisory Council) night!

If you’re reading this, you know me; and if you know me, you are familiar with my need to be involved in my community.  Confession: I started working my way into the PAC before my son even WENT to the school.  Actually, before he even got INTO the school!  I promoted events, solicited for donations, and delivered 24 bags to last year’s clothing drive.

This year, I planned to play it cool…I’ve heard things about the PAC.  Not my school’s PAC, but PACs in general.  I couldn’t help myself though, and when there was a mention in the school newsletter, I emailed immediately:

My son started in Kindergarten this year; and I’m so excited to be a part of the school community.  I would be pleased to do what I can to support the PAC.  Please let me know how I can join the PAC or help out with events.

I also co-manage a local neighbourhood website for Sullivan/Panorama, NotQuiteSouthSurrey.com, on which I would be happy to post any of the fundraisers, etc.

Have a wonderful school year and let me know how I can help out!  I will see you on Monday night, let me know if you need any help with set up, clean up, childcare, or anything else.  I have a background in marketing, writing and administration so am pleased to help out in any way.

Totally breezy, RIGHT?!  Don’t worry, I’m embarassed just reading it.  But I didn’t have to be.  I came in late (7:01) and everyone was seated neatly around the table.  My name preceded me, as when I gave my name as “Jennifer”, I was asked….”Jennifer Robbins?” To which I almost replied with my usual: “You may know me from Facebook.”  (I won’t add: I get that alot.)

In any case, I just loved the community vibe encouraged by the principal, and the super welcoming tone of the President.  In our past, brief dealings, I’d wondered if she was really that nice or was it one of those sugar on top but wait-til-the-claws-come-out.  With most people I can tell within 5 seconds if they are good or evil (AKA, we’ll be BFFs or not-so-much), but some people are tricky.  After a good hour of listening and watching for any tics or runaway eyerolls, my verdict is: genuinely adorable / adorably genuine.

And my fears that I’d be seen as an overeager, naive new parent, were assuaged quickly.  A big reason was that at least half the parents there were from the Kindergarten class, and they all had the same twinkle in their eye.  I mean how much keener can you get than the mom that shows up with the 4-week-old!  THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!

A part of my commitment to the PAC stems from the working mom guilt, that I can’t do it all.  I “straddle the worlds between a career and hanging’ with the moms” (As F described it).  So as they circulated the yearbook (so freakin’ adorable I got a tear in my eye) and talked about parent forums and community values, I tripled the amount of the requested PAC donation as I wrote out the cheque.  Because I wish I could be there every Wednesday, handing out Twizzlers and popcorn (wait – is that a nutrionally sound fundraiser??) and getting to know all 179 kids, I can’t.  I’m lucky enough that I may be able to do it every FOURTH Wednesday.  I do appreciate that.  But I wish I could be there physically, at every request with my neighbours: building a safe place, a warm community for my boys.

So I’ll do what I can, overcommit yet still follow through, and my dear tribe: be on notice that you’ll be picking me up off the ground when I have my bi-annual meltdown…  Because I couldn’t be a dual citizen of these two worlds without you, you save my sanity.  And yeah: you’ll be buying some raffle tickets.

Categories: Kids, Me, Parenting

Why we live in the “suburbs”

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

This weekend’s Province carries the headline City Vs. Burbs. Inside is a story that compares costs of living in a downtown condo vs. a house in the suburbs (Coquitlam) on a $640,000 purchase.

I was recently in southern Ontario, in a town where you can still buy a fantastic family home (with a backyard!) for $160,000, and what we paid for our house would get you 4500 square feet of executive home on 10 acres of landscaped property.

I was in sticker shock and talking about house prices in BC when I was asked, not maliciously, “is it really that much … better?”

photo by Bliss Designs (D. Ferreira Stoddard)

Both of these events had me really thinking about how fortunate I feel to live here, in the ‘suburbs’. The Province story really concentrated on the financial dollars of ownership, where clearly it will cost more to heat, insure, and maintain a house than a condo. It also made specific assumptions that you would be a couple who both worked downtown and would require two cars.

The woman who lived in the city maintained that she “didn’t want to live in [her] car”. This is a typical assumption of living in the suburbs. During my visit to Ontario, my sister and her husband were researching new vehicles. They were looking at SUVs, and it took me a while to understand that they actually REQUIRE a four-wheel drive vehicle. To get to work. Which is an HOUR away. In the snow, for a few months out of the year.

We pulled up to the car lot and she walked up to a shiny black Denali and a shiny black Escalade to check the prices. “Wouldn’t you be worried about…getting shot at?” I asked, to be met with confused looks. All righty, point Team Ontario.

In our circle, I know maybe one or two who work in downtown Vancouver. Most work locally or in another suburb and face commutes of 30-40 minutes. While we technically live in a suburb, there’s not much that would take me into the city. We have one vehicle, that we clock, on a busy week, maybe 40 kms.

Within walking distance we have a YMCA community centre, grocery store, restaurants and pubs, drug store, medical clinic, midwife, physiotherapy, naturopath, 3 playgrounds and a water park, 2 elementary schools, 1 high school, optometrists, daycares, dentists, liquor store, dollar store, sports shop, bike shop, hair salons, butcher, bottle depot and several other services that I haven’t required yet…but imagine I will at some point. There are several office buildings and workplaces that I see neighbours walking to every day (including my husband and occasionally myself).

We all have our own “wish lists” for desired services in the immediate neighbourhood (farm market, pet supply store, and toy store are the ones I hear most often). I’d LOVE a library! But in general, there’s not much that takes me out of the neighbourhood, aside from weekend trips to the beach (just 10 minutes away).

With a population of over 460,000 I don’t really consider Surrey to be a suburb. We have our own hospital, a number of big and small shopping centres, libraries, office buildings, museums, ethnic centres, endless parks, movie theatres and yes, THREE Wal-Marts.

So I happily suffer my 1700 year mortgage, complain about lack of AC during the 3-day “heat waves”, whine about the 10 minutes it takes to cut the lawn and stay home and play on the day that it snows. I’ve learned to laugh at all your Surrey jokes while enjoying my cheap and legit Indian food and blueberries grown down the street…with the pseudo-family of my neighbours and friends.

Photo by H. Kopcok

My favourite thing about my neighbourhood remains the people. It’s almost a small town within the city feeling, with many of the local shop owners and employers and several teachers also being residents. We are an active, social community. As the tired old adage goes, it takes a village, and indeed we use our network of locals to help us through. Though we come from so many kids in the same age range, we easily share childcare and booster seats – which often leads to sharing stories, laughs and lives.

So in the City Vs. Burbs, I don’t see it that way. I know that our family is fortunate to work so close to home, but that’s becoming more andmore possible. When it comes to BC Vs. small-town Ontario, I just prefer the mild, unreliable climate of BC. A guaranteed white Christmas just doesn’t outweigh the pressure of the shovel, and I’d rather have a warm breeze than the chill of a sealed up air conditioned house (even if that warm breeze brings the faint aroma of manure from the local farms).

With communities like ours popping up all over Surrey, Port Moody, and Coquitlam, I can see the trend continuing, and multi-use communities expanding all over Metro Vancouver. (Of course, ours is still the best!)

We have so many fascinating people in our neighbourhood and in an effort to connect us all, a friend and I recently started a community website, called Not Quite South Surrey. The name stemmed from a struggle to define our South Newton community, which many claim as South Surrey (but…it’s just Not Quite). It’s allowed us to connect with even more of our neighbours and we look forward to new opportunities to engage with the residents.

Categories: Me Tags: , , ,

PEI is the new Vegas.

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Who in their right mind would pass up a low-cost, child-free girls weekend trip to beautiful PEI? When H invited me to a weekend away in PEI, I was like YES, but no. Maybe? No. No. TOTALLY!!! but…maybe not.

In my life, I place so much of my own value on my kids, it seemed unimaginable to separate myself from my “mom” identity. My kids have allowed me to find firm beliefs and passion in my world. My insecurities never allowed me to really push a point or believe hard in something, just for little old me. But having kids allows me to ask the right questions and really get into the issues, after all, it’s for my kids. I’m not an asshole, I’m a MO-THER.

So going away without kids seemed that it might strip me of the relatively new strong woman aspect of personality and send me straight back into awkward, left-out-edness. And yo, when I’m awkward, everyone’s feeling awkward. I really didn’t want to bring the awkward. Plus, I wasn’t too sure that I need a “break” from my family. I spend the majority of my life in a grey box away from my family. Sacrificing three entire days with them felt like straight-up BAD MOTHER territory.

But, while I initially struggled, worried that I would somehow be struck down by social anxiety, in reality, I felt more myself than I had in a while. How we spent the time was dictated by what we actually wanted to do, when we wanted to. It was not based on a timetable of scheduled meltdowns, diaper changes, or naps.

I swore like a trucker, didn’t remind anyone to say “excuse me” when they burped, sat in the same spot for over ten minutes. When the siblings began to fight, it really wasn’t my responsibility if they killed each other or not. I went into stores that had easily breakable items. I went into stores with brightly coloured items. And my blood pressure stayed stable.

I laughed ridiculously hard at ridiculous (and at times, completely inappropriate) things, smoked a cigarette (or two) during daylight hours, assigned a soundtrack to nearly all events, learned things I never wanted to know about my friends, and watched a full 2 hours of The Bachelorette – no fast-forwarding (now that’s what I call awkward).

On our last day, I woke up to overhear discussions of possibly not making our flight (standby’s a fickle mistress). Ah, there it is. Anxiety. Hello, old friend! I started wildly mentally calculating if I had enough credit on any of my cards to straight-up buy a ticket home. But by the time we’d committed ourselves to the Charlottetown-Toronto leg, I was accepting, and perhaps almost hoping for, the possibility of being stranded in Toronto overnight.

A weekend “off” will now be an annual requirement in my mom contract…but so long as I’m supplemented with regular nights out/in/off, I can wait another year to do it again.  And only if I can do it with the Walker girls.

Categories: Me Tags: , , ,

Vancouver Sun Run (1:12)

May 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This year, I really fell off the running wagon. Working full-time really does take up a lot of time, I guess. Add in a travelling husband and not-so-suddenly, running falls to the bottom of the to-do list. I also got in my own way, as I have a habit of doing.

Because that is a LOT of people to be smushing up against

On the first Sun Run clinic day, I “ran” with the Learn to Run Faster group. We didn’t do much warm-up and just started running right away, which didn’t agree with my early-Sunday-morning body. It quickly became apparent that I should have gone with the Learn to Run group – and possibly the slowest…most beginner…is there a seniors’ group?! I tried to veer off and just go home and start fresh for next week but apparently that’s Not Allowed. Let’s just say it was a very awkward start to the clinic.

Over the next few weeks I think I finally settled into a groove somewhere near the medium LTR group. But, miss a week or two, and suddenly the confidence that comes with running FOUR minutes at a time (shut up!) with one minute intervals of walking, disappears when faced with the prospect of having to run eight minutes at a time. I’m full of excuses too. Sunday mornings in our house are just so cozy…coffee and the paper and usually still-cheerful boys.

Initially I didn’t think I was going to do the actual run at all. Mothers’ Day, too hot, too many people, more excuses. Near the end after I’d all but officially “dropped out”, I somewhere along the line joined the group of participants. In fact, I think I was just told “you’re doing it”, and somehow unlike the weekly clinics I simply obeyed orders.

Over the few weeks preceding the run I ditched the excuses (and my run buddy: sorry, Bradley Cooper), and simply hit the treadmill 3-4 times a week. With a 30 minute limit I wasn’t even hitting 5K, so I still wasn’t so sure about trying the clinic…

The night before the Sun Run I did almost back out, but I didn’t want to make a big deal. That was my goal for this year: Don’t make a big deal. I was kind of mad that last year’s protestors and crowds got in my head at all. Don’t make a big deal. So I didn’t.

This year’s run was completely different. Whether it was because of timing or because we came into the downtown core a different way, I’m not sure, but the crowds were tolerable. The vibe was completely different. Instead of protestors, at the start and all through the race, there was only happy little cheerleaders and husbands holding up “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” signs.

While the weather made it a little squinty and sweatier than average, it contributed to the happy-happy-joy-joy vibe of the day. Now I’m not saying that I floated like an eagle and didn’t ever raise the “oh-god-why” question, and that having people whip by me on my walk intervals didn’t nearly trigger a panic attack, but it was overall a good, fantastic, awesome day.

This is definitely, 100% awesome.

I did suffer a little bit of a sinus headache attack near the end (I think I was running behind someone with perfume on), but much thanks to my prepared girls, a few Advil seemed to ease the pain. And not having to enter into the crowded dungeon that was BC Place eased the pain TREMENDOUSLY. Being Mother’s Day, we tried to make it home relatively early. We walked a bit, got frappucinos at Starbucks (yes, my first frappe), and got home in time to celebrate with families.

Still not sure I’ll be back to do it again (of course I will), but I’m really glad I gave it another try.  I’m glad that I got out of my own way, at least for 1:12.

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