A Butt

The other day, Gal Smiley was looking at a placemat we have of all the Prime Ministers because she has to pick one for a school project.

(What, your house doesn’t have placemats with all the Prime Ministers on them?)

The Captain’s favourite Prime Minister is the lesser-known Sir John Abbott, because they share the same birthday.

(What, your kids don’t have a favourite Prime Minister?)

Lately the Captain has taken to referring to Abbott lovingly as “A Butt” because he’s 11 and that’s hilarious.

So they had this conversation:

Gal Smiley: I have to pick a Prime Minister for my project.

Me: That placemat is older and the current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, isn’t on there.

The Captain: Are you going to do A Butt? [snickers]

Gal Smiley: No, I’m thinking of doing the current Prime Minister.

The Captain: How do you know I wasn’t referring to the current Prime Minister?

Me: Ha ha ha ha ha! AWESOME.

(What, your kids don’t make jokes about current Canadian politics?)

I am commercialism.

While I was being all Single Working Parent last week I decided consciously not to panic about Christmas. I usually do my shopping in November, so I can relax into the holiday season and focus on baking instead, but then I was thinking to myself such comforting things as there will be plenty of time in December and sometimes they change their minds and you have to return stuff anyway and there’s not that much shopping to do this year after all.

And then I went to the big box store shopping area near me last Saturday morning, and HOLY JESUS, THAT is why I do my shopping in November. What has come over the world? I was not aware that many people lived in CANADA, let alone within range of the Canadian Tire in western Ottawa.

I would like here to say that I am Above It All, and condemn the shoppers and the shopping, but the truth is I care, and care deeply, about getting my kids just the perfect thing for Christmas. I am commercialism. I own it. No one is getting any gift certificates for hugs or handmade sweaters over here. I MUST BUY THEM THINGS.

So this week I decided I better swing into high gear, and I got my lists together, and cleared it all with Sir Monkeypants, which means the gate has dropped and I’m off to the races. Yesterday I started at the Target, which had a particular LEGO set that the Captain wanted, on sale.

Here, an aside: we have a lot of LEGO. We have, quite possibly, ALL THE LEGO. So it was kind of painful to think about getting yet another LEGO set to add to the dozen bins of it we already own. But then I was thinking: we are very, very close to being out of toy range for the older two. Already when the Toys R Us flyer arrives, it’s full of dolls and action figures and tiny sports play sets that they have outgrown. This could be our very last year to get him an actual toy, and have him want it, and have him feel the thrill of opening something Christmas morning that isn’t just a gift card and being excited about that, so I decided to go for it.

And, an aside to the aside: when did you, if ever, move from thing/toy gifts to gift cards and cash? For our older nieces and nephews, we moved to gift cards around age 13, and then straight up cash around age 15. For our one niece I found I could still shop for some “thing” – makeup, purses, jewelry, or clothes – but for the boys in particular once they were out of the sports jersey stage I found them impossible to shop for, so it was video game gift cards for a few years before we went cash. You?

So! I went to Target to get this LEGO set, and they were ALL OUT. So then I went to the Toys R Us, and they were ALL OUT. Then I started to panic, and I ran to the WalMart and got the VERY LAST ONE (which they nicely price matched to the Target sale price). And again, I hate to admit it, but if I had been completely unable to get said LEGO set I would NOT have been all, “Oh, there are tons of other sets, I’ll just get one of those instead,” but rather, “CHRISTMAS IS RUINED.”

I had a very similar experience just today with a Barbie thing that the Little Miss wants, which they did not have at any of the first three stores I went to, and then I found ONE at the fourth store I went to, which I happily paid full price for and felt immense relief at scoring the exact thing my kid wants for Christmas morning. Because I AM COMMERCIALISM.

All this is to say that I have found new reason to shop early, and this is like a little note to my crass self that shopping in November is worth it for many reasons. Ready, set, go!

Typical, These Days

Monday. 5:52 p.m.

A loving family sits down to a dinner of fajitas. The kids, who have been outside frolicking in the season’s first snowfall, are changed out of their wet clothes and into their PJs. People are filling their plates and chatting.

The Mother: OH. CRAP.

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Monday. 6:01 p.m.

The father rushes out the door, still chewing a bite of dinner, with the middle daughter, thrown into a uniform pulled from the laundry bin and a button-up shirt with misaligned buttons. They’ll barely make Girl Guides carpool.

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I’ll leave the blank space as an exercise for the reader.

Perspectives

The other day I was driving in the neighbourhood, and it was cold outside – around 2 degrees, and I had on a hat and gloves, and my winter coat (not my Post-Nuclear Winter coat, but my ski jacket that is one level up). Then I passed a mom walking on the street with her toddler in a carrier on her back, and the toddler’s blond hair was billowing about in the breeze, and I thought to myself, dear Lord, why doesn’t that baby have a hat on? And then I shuddered, remembering all the times I have been on the opposite side of that equation, and sighed to think about how quickly one forgets, and chided myself because the kid seemed happy as a clam and surely the mom knows her own kid better than I do, and thanked the stars that I wasn’t standing next to her where surely I would have said something embarrassing.

Sometimes I think I need to write down all the silly, eye rolling, annoying things that have happened to me so that I can actively try not to become that which I have mocked, and then I remember I have a blog, so there’s that. Sometimes a new perspective isn’t always a better perspective.

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This past week I was working in an actual office, which meant actually getting dressed in the morning and leaving the house. On top of that, Sir Monkeypants was away the entire week for work, so I was suddenly thrust into the role of Single Working Parent. Let me tell you, it was quite a shock. I can now say I truly understand the glory that is coffee.

I managed to get the lunches made and the kids to and from school and the laundry done, more or less, but man, it required me to be on my tip-top game for organization all week long. The really hard part was the cooking. Because of my kids’ allergies, I have to make so much of their food from scratch (all our bread, for example), and squeezing that into the week was tough – thank goodness I had a bunch of stuff stocked up in the freezer to get us through. Not sure what I would have done if things had gone into a second week – as it is, I’m home today and I’m frantically making about six different bread products at once to replenish.

I’m grateful for the luxury of being able to work from home, to set my own hours, and to spend as much time making bagels as is required to feed my kids. I survived my trip to the other side but it’s hard, really hard over there. Sometimes a little change in perspective can help you see that things are pretty darn good just the way they are.

Swamped

It’s already November 10, and I haven’t even begun to think about Christmas yet, and that is very, very unusual for me. I’ve been swamped with work, which is good because people paying me, yay! But also bad because suddenly I have been thrust into full time working mother mode, and no one is doing any laundry or cleaning or homework supervision or remember to send wrapping paper to Scouts this week, let alone making Big Christmas Plans and Doing The Shopping. EEP.

So while I am struggling to get my head above water, you’ll just have to enjoy my November column for Capital Parent, which is now up on their website. Go now!

Newsletter Housekeeping

If you like my Facebook page, where I post family-oriented Ottawa events on a weekly basis, please note that due to Facebook’s poor ability to actually share stuff with people who want to see it, I’m going to move the events listing to a newsletter.

The newsletter will come out weekly and be delivered to your inbox, and of course, your email will never be sold or shared.

If you’d like to sign up for the newsletter, go here.

If you want to see this week’s events, you can see this week’s newsletter here (and then if you like it, you can subscribe by clicking the button in the upper left). You can also put the newsletter into your RSS reader, I think, by viewing it and then clicking on the RSS button in the upper right.

Please feel free to send me any and all feedback on the change – I’m just experimenting and learning this format so I’m open to any and all ideas.

A Grave Tale of Woe and Spledado

At the dinner table.

Me: So, how was everyone’s day?

Little Miss Sunshine, age 7, Grade 2: TERRIBLE.

Me: Oh no! What happened?

LMS: Sally* yelled, “SPLEDADO” in my face.

Sir Monkeypants: Spledado?

LMS: YES. It was terrible!

Me: Well, if someone is doing something you don’t like, it is a good idea to ask them nicely to stop it, or they won’t know you don’t like it.

LMS (with many emphatic hand gestures): I couldn’t, because it was RECESS, and then she ran AWAY.

Me: Well, maybe you could find her later on the schoolyard and tell her.

LMS: But by then she was crying.

Me: What? Why?

LMS: Because Beth* kept chasing her and chasing her.

Me: Why?

LMS: Because I was crying…

Me: Because SPLEDADO?

LMS: Yes, and Beth was running after Sally to tell her that I didn’t like it, only then Sally cried, because she wanted to be alone.

Me: Oooooookay. So, it’s very nice you have a friend who will stick up for you. But in this case I think everyone was a little bit on the overreactive side. I don’t think Sally meant to hurt your feelings, she was just excited about recess, and next time, you should speak for yourself.

LMS: I COULDN’T! I was CRYING! It was TERRIBLE!

Me: Yes, yes, dear. I’m so sorry. And now, let us have repeat viewings of the videos to “Let It Go” from Frozen, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” NO REASON.

Sir Monkeypants: SPLEDADO.

* Names changed to protect those who were got hit with the shrapnel from my perhaps overly sensitive daughter. Is there a lotion available that thickens the skin? SHEESH.

So, How Was It?

I wasn’t planning on blogging about the Dance! Show! Live! Show!, because really, how much dance show can one poor little blog take?

But it was good. Really, really good, and I loved it, so now I must take a (hopefully very small) moment to gush.

LOVED. IT.

The live show was sort of like the finale that should have been, but never was. It was all dancing, like continuous dancing, for two hours. One pair would finish, and as their number was winding down, the next couple was already on stage getting started. I would guess that about three quarters of the numbers were from the show, but it had been enough time and the interesting ordering/blurring together of performances made them interesting again; while another quarter or so were brand new and all of those were just plain old good. Choreographer Mandy Moore was the force behind the live show, and I adore her, and so it was really just one fantastic thing after another. I can’t say enough good things about it and would go again in a heartbeat if it ever comes back to Ottawa.

One of my favourite things was that the top 10 got to perform a solo. It made me realize how much I miss the 1/2 hour “results” show, which used to allow those in jeopardy to oh-so-dramatically “dance for their lives.” The plus there was that getting to know the dancers individually like that went such a HUGE way towards loyalty and investment in the show. The solos at the live show showed me more about the dancers as individuals than I ever got from the show. Add more solos, please, dance show!

Also: Ricky’s solo was SO AMAZING. Like, a) he blew everyone else out of the water, and b) he can practically fly, and c) so, so deserved to win. No doubt. He was literally mind blowing.

Know who else was amazing? Teddy, who, it turned out, was the mysterious *crackle* guy from the phone call interview. He never really impressed me much on the show but on stage, he OWNED it. He literally stood out from the pack in all the group numbers he was in, and he had a couple of duets that were amazing. Where was that guy during the show? And also rocking it: Tanisha. She was EVERYWHERE, and she was FEROCIOUS. She took over the “snake” part in the King Tut hip-hop number with Emilio, AND did the Amy part from After The Rain with Zac, AND she did almost every number from the show with Rudy, AND had featured rolls in almost all of the new numbers, and just WOW.

For those who wonder if they’d be bored seeing the same numbers in real life that they’d already seen on the show, I’d say that one of the best things was being able to watch the group numbers from my own viewpoint – that is, not controlled by the camera angle. You really get the full effect of the group choreography and it’s dazzling. They did pretty much all of my favourite group numbers in real life – the top 7 girls (GORGEOUS, this was the one with the pretty pink and purple flowing dresses), top 7 guys (so cool – this was the one with the waves), the “chess” based hip hop, the “love runs out” group number by Travis (which was super complex and nifty to see in person). But my favourite was this one:

A Sonya routine! Who would have guessed? You can watch the YouTube clip, but although the cameras can get nice and close up to see the expressions on everyone’s face, this particular number was SO much better in person – the group dynamics were amazing and the way they seemed to move as one unit was so impressive. I think I may have gasped out loud.

My only real complaint is that there was, I thought, not enough ballroom. They tried to diversify a bit – my absolute favourite part was when they ran together the Sing tap dance number with the Happy Jive number and the Rudy and Tanisha Sing Sing Sing number with the canes, which I had actually forgotten about so I’m linking to it here:

And then, those three couples did a group number with a Broadway/50s feel that was SO AWESOME. They did a small Spencer Liff segment (oh, that reminds me – most of the show was “sorted” by choreographer, which I LOVED, it was so cool to see pieces by the same choreographer next to each other like that), and they did force poor Bridget and Valerie and Ricky to revisit Bollywod (with poor Rudy taking on the disco Bollywood with Bridget, and although it was a nice change of pace it was really just as dreadful in real life as it was on the screen). But other than those smaller parts, it was mainly contemporary with a sprinkling of hip-hop, and although everything was super, super good, I found myself wondering when they were going to get around to some ballroom, and they never did. Tanisha and Marquet were on hand, yet no salsas or sambas or anything; no Leonardo and Miriam tangos, or Jean-Marc’s paso doble for Zack and Jacque (which would have given Jacque something more to do, as she was underrepresented, I thought). The jive and Tanisha’s solo were, I think, the only ballroom I saw.

Well, that’s about five times as much as I wanted to write, and I’m sure six times as much as you were interested in reading, so I’ll let it go now. But really: SO AWESOME. I’ll see you there next time!

Hating On The Green Bin

I’m a stickler for voting in every election, because I think it’s important, even though these days it can feel more like choosing the least of evils, or negative voting, where you vote for one party not because you actively like them but because you’re so terrified of somebody else. We have a municipal election coming up on Monday here in Ottawa, and even though my riding is borderline acclaimed (incumbent Alan Hubley running against two other guys who a) don’t even live in my ward, and b) have no political experience whatsoever, and c) both registered on the very last possible day purely because they didn’t want there to be an acclaimed situation, which is honourable, but does not necessarily make you a valid alternative); and in the mayoral race, who is going to vote against The Beloved Jim Watson, anyway.

But! While doing my basic due diligence, which involves reading the interviews with each candidate in the paper and visiting their websites, I learned something surprising: there is an alliance of candidates in this election whose specific platform is to abolish the green bin composting system.

It’s not a small group, either. Something like 13 candidates across the city are running on this platform, which would also bring back weekly garbage pickup. Here’s a good article outlining their platform and naming all the members – none of whom are incumbents.

I’m personally strongly in favour of a green bin program. Yes, it gets messy and gross sometimes. Yes, I often find myself on summer evenings at the end of the driveway with a bottle of bleach, trying to kill maggots. Yes, we keep a smelly bin thing in our garage to keep it away from raccoons and squirrels, and that means we can’t always actually park in our garage.

But when I think about all that waste going to landfill…ugh. Remember a few years ago when the city decided it was no longer in their financial interest to pick up some plastics? And how putting margarine and yogurt containers into the garbage just felt wrong? So wrong, that there was a massive backlash and they had to start picking it up again?

For me, getting rid of the green bin now would feel the same way. I couldn’t imagine putting a banana peel or apple core into the garbage, now. I like that our garbage output is less than a bag a week. I like it that the city is looking for non-landfill options for organic waste, and other stuff too. The idea that we take all our waste and just throw it in a big hole and cover it up is getting stranger and stranger to me all the time.

The folks running on this platform are trying to make it an economic issue, and there seems to be no doubt that the city loses money every year on the program – both because they have to pay a base fee to have the waste collected, and because low participation in the program means they pay a penalty for not hitting their waste goals. But cancelling the program would also be expensive, and I’m really not sure what the landfill strategy would be after that. With all the compost waste now going back into the landfill stream, what would the plan be? The Carp landfill has already had its close date extended several times, and there just isn’t another location right now that can take our garbage. I can’t imagine the expense of opening a new landfill somewhere, or even paying fees to truck our waste to an existing landfill somewhere else, or the environmental issues involved in extending the life of the Carp dump yet again (not to mention the quality of life issues for those who live near it, who have been promised that “it’s closing soon!” time and time again).

What do you think? Are you a green bin fan or would you love to see it abolished? Will you be voting for any of the candidates running on this platform – or will you be negative voting against them? I’m really curious to hear what the general public thinks about this (or at least, the very small sampling of us who read this blog) – even if you’re not from Ottawa, let me know what you think about compost programs in general.