Summer of Awesome – July 2015

Go Karts at Karters Korner - Gal Smiley swore she was tall enough now, and she made it by a hair's breadth.

Go Karts at Karters Korner – Gal Smiley swore she was tall enough now, and she made it by a hair’s breadth.

Jumping at xTreme Indoor Trampoline Park.

Jumping at xTreme Indoor Trampoline Park.

Lazy days at a friend's cottage.

Lazy days at a friend’s cottage.

Cool art installation at Strathcona Park. Bonus - naming the flags at all the embassies nearby!

Cool art installation at Strathcona Park. Bonus – naming the flags at all the embassies nearby!

Graffiti wall at Brewer Park.

Graffiti wall at Brewer Park.

My twins at Brewer Park.

My “twins” at Brewer Park.

Hog's Back Falls.

We ate ice cream at Hog’s Back Falls.

Marriage proposal written on the rocks at Hog's Back Falls.

Marriage proposal written on the rocks at Hog’s Back Falls.

Little Miss Sunshine turned 8 and had a sleepover mermaid party. She decorated the cake herself.

Little Miss Sunshine turned 8 and had a sleepover mermaid party. She decorated the cake herself.

Beach day at Petrie Island - gorgeous weather, clear water, and next to no one else there.

Beach day at Petrie Island – gorgeous weather, clear water, and next to no one else there.

Sandy feet at Petrie Island.

Sandy feet at Petrie Island.

Rainy day bowling at Merivale Bowling.

Rainy day bowling at Merivale Bowling.

Dominion

I feel like I’m way behind on my Family Games posts – so many to cover! so little time! – but I figure I’ll just keep plugging away at it and maybe in two or three years I’ll have covered my bases. Right?

Today’s game is Dominion, a card game that has really stood us well over the past three or four years. We go through phases where we are obsessed with it, then we move on to other things for a while, but we always come back to it. It’s a solid addition to any family set if you’re interested in becoming gamers.

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In fact, I was thinking the other day about the evolution of gaming in a family – everyone has things like Candyland and Snakes and Ladders, then comes Sorry! and simple card games, and then you move up to Monopoly and The Game of Life, then maybe Scrabble, Clue, or Trivial Pursuit. Some stop there, others branch off to fun party games like Apples to Apples or Cranium, others move on to strategy games like Risk and Ticket to Ride. If you’re on the Ticket to Ride path (a great gateway game I’ll talk about…someday), then Dominion is definitely the next logical step up.

Who It’s For

I think the box suggests ages 13 and up, but our two oldest can handle it easily – they are 12 and nearly 11 – and they’ve even been playing it for a couple of years now. Our youngest just turned 8 last week and she still needs a “teammate” to help her if she plays, so I’d say, 10 and up for sure, maybe younger if they are precocious.

It’s for two to four people; we have played with five and it works okay, although the game goes quicker so it can seem that just when you’ve finally got your strategy coming together, the game is over. It’s best with three or four players.

The first time you play it might take you an hour as you read through all the cards on the table and ponder your strategy. But once you’re more familiar with the game you can play a round in 30 minutes.

How to Play

Dominion is a card game in which each player will be building their own deck of cards. You start with a base deck – three “victory cards” that do nothing, but give you points towards winning the game, and seven money cards. That’s your starter deck.

On your turn, you deal yourself a “hand” of five cards from your own personal deck. Then, you use the money you got to buy a card from the table that will be added to your deck. You’ll see that new card again next time you hit the bottom of your deck and have to shuffle your discard pile. The new card as well as your entire hand goes into your discard pile, and then you deal yourself a new hand from your deck for your next turn.

Things get more interesting after the first two rounds because by then, players have had a chance to buy some more interesting cards to add to their decks. Most players will buy action cards – cards that let them do something that helps them get something else. For example, actions might give you the chance to draw bonus cards into your hand; or give you extra money for shopping; or let you force other players to whittle their hands down to three cards. On your turn, you’re allowed to do one action, and then use whatever money you have in your hand to buy one thing, but some actions allow you to do extra actions or buy more than one card, both of which can be very powerful.

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There are 10 action cards in the game, and they’re all laid out on the table for your shopping pleasure. There’s also Big Money cards – putting these into your deck mean you will have more money for buying the good cards next time around. There’s also the green cards – victory cards – and you need these to actually win the game. At the end of the game, you’ll go through your own deck and pick out all the green cards, total up their points, and the one with the most points wins. But because these cards don’t help you during the game – they don’t help you buy more actions or money – you don’t want them clogging up your deck at the beginning. There’s usually several rounds of “deck building” where people are buying more actions and money, and then the game suddenly shifts to people snapping up the victory cards (the game ends when the highest value victory card pile is all sold).

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Reading this over, it sounds pretty complicated but once you play it out once, you easily see how it’s going to go. On your turn you do any actions you have, shop for new cards to add to your deck, discard everything, then deal a new hand. Next player!

Why We Love It

There’s two really great things about Dominion.

The first is that everyone builds their own deck – and the players rarely make exactly the same decisions along the way – so everyone ends up playing with a different set of cards. It means that several different strategies can be at work in one game, and it’s fascinating to see what works and what doesn’t. You can do what you think is best and someone else can do things a totally different way, which is cool.

The other great thing is that there are many, many, many action cards from which to choose the set of 10 that make up this particular game. The original game comes with 25 different action cards, and you choose 10 at random (or, because they are your favourites, or because you’re curious, or whatever). That makes the game literally different every time. Not only is every player working their own strategy, but you have to adapt your strategy to the actions on the table – you have to work with what’s in front of you. So you absolutely can’t do the same thing every time – it’s always something new. There are like, 10 expansion sets for Dominion as well, so if you go crazy you could find yourself with a pool of almost 300 different action cards to choose from. We have three expansion sets ourselves and with just those, I think it’s safe to say we could play Dominion for a long, long time before ever seeing exactly the same game twice.

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Other benefits – it’s actually not too bad to learn, and if you can manage to play for the first time with someone else who has played before, you won’t even need to look at the rulebook, just jump in and you’ll pick it up quickly. Also, it’s a set of cards so although the box itself is big (about Trivial Pursuit sized), you could extract the cards and put them into something much smaller for travel purposes.

Some Bad Stuff

Here I must admit that I sometimes get childishly cranky while playing Dominion, for two reasons.

One, most combinations of actions allow for a variety of approaches, and you can try different things and see what sticks. But you do occasionally hit a set where there is exactly one approach that will blow everyone out of the water (i.e. just buy up ALL of one particular action, and you’re golden!). Not to sound bitter, but when sets like this come around it is ALWAYS Sir Monkeypants who finds the Big Winner and while he racks up the victory cards, some of us sit there fuming. If you are more mature than me perhaps this will not happen to you. Some suggestions to avoid this scenario: start with the “recommended” action combinations that come with the set; when you hit upon a combination that really works well (meaning, many different strategies led to a close finish), then write that one down for future use.

Two, some of the action cards are attack cards, and that can make one feel bitter. Just when you get a good hand with lots of money, someone will force you to discard it. Or someone will give you a curse card, which is -1 victory point. Or someone will steal away the totally awesome Gold card you just bought. GAH. Usually these attacks are not personal – when someone plays an attack, they usually apply to all other players – but sometimes SOME PEOPLE get miffed about it. Again, if you are more mature than me this may not happen to you, but if you fear it, you can just choose not to use any attack cards, or else make the rule that the “protect me from attacks” card – the Moat – must be in every set with attack cards in it.

Recommended For

As I said above, if you are into strategy games – well, you probably already own Dominion, but if not, run out and get one (you can buy one locally at all the comic book shops, Toys On Fire, or even Mrs. Tiggy Winkles has it in some locations). There are many other games out there that are card/deck building type games and Dominion is the best. It’s a game you’ll play over and over, and when you get tired, get yourself an expansion set (makes a GREAT Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift!) and keep on playing. Recommended: Prosperity and Seaside, the two most popular expansion packs – we own them both and they’re fantastic.

Dance Show Quickie

Dance! Show! is back, and soon I will have much, much more to say on that subject. (Dance! Show! is So You Think You Can Dance, which I used to think required no explanation because all other dance shows are inferior, but now that I am apparently converted to also watching Dancing with the Stars, guess I’ll have to be clearer around here.)

For now, however, just a few quick thoughts.

First up: Street versus Stage. I’m still not too sure about this. It seems like a cheap way to get more stage dancers into the top 20, especially now that they have gone to mixed styles, meaning everyone is dancing all styles now, so why not audition the dancers with a proper cross section of styles? But I’ll give it a chance because the group numbers have been simply outstanding, and there are just SO MANY street dancers who I ADORE. Speaking of which…

Early favourites: Jaja! JJ! Megz! Virgil! Neptune! LOVE YOU. In fact, I’d almost be willing to skip the whole season of actual dancing if they’d just crown Jaja the winner right now and have two hours of just her every week. On the stage side, it’s the usual mix of pretty young things and I always find it hard to pick individuals out. But so far Alexa is my fave – she’s the little one with the long blonde hair – followed closely by Jim the ballet guy.

Mixing it up: It’s interesting how they are going with a crazy blend of trios/quartets/duets this season, instead of the traditional couples-only, and looks like they will be mixing up the groups every week. AWESOME for the dancing. Poor, perhaps, for getting to know the dancers and seeing who really has the sparkle, and it’s so much harder to build chemistry among the dancers this way. I’m trying this season to keep an open mind about things in general because a) after 12 seasons, it’s probably a good thing that they are shaking things up, trying new things, keeping it fresh, and b) the internet has lost its collective mind over the changes (DON’T MESS WITH DANCE SHOW), so I’m aiming for higher ground (which admittedly, is totally unlike me). And speaking of which…

New judges: Man, there is a lot of hate out there for Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo. But I love them! They are both maybe a little too soft, too kind, but they both know tons about dance, they both LOVE dance, they both have the chops to be judges. I find them insightful, I almost always agree with them 100%, and a little kindness in the judging is welcome. Plus it’s SO much better having three regular judges than the revolving door of celebrities they’ve had in the past. It’s absolutely my favourite change for this season. Which brings me to…

Old favourites: I was so happy to see Spencer Liff and Dee Caspery back this week – love them both. Nappy Tabs are back, as are the Scotts – Christopher and Dave, no relation – and so far, not a single Sonya number (not that I dislike her, I just feel like they have greatly overused her in the past few seasons). Plus: freakin’ Phillip Chbeeb (SQUEE)! I love the variety here – hope it continues throughout the season.

Also, last thought – Cat Deely deserves an Emmy. Come on Emmy voters – MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Eleven

Eleven is a hard year.

One time, MyFriendJen told me that the hardest years are 11 and 16 (she has an older daughter for reference). And I was like, “11? Really?”

Really.

Gal Smiley is poised to turn 11 in a couple of months. Here’s what 11 means:

  • No one ever lets you do anything you want;
  • When you do get to do something you want, it never lasts long enough;
  • Everyone in your family is suddenly just so annoying all the time;
  • Conveying your annoyance through sulking and pouting does not seem to work, for no explainable reason;
  • Your friends are never home when you call them, and when they are, you aren’t allowed to have them over for long enough, and when it’s time for them to go home and you throw a fit, you get in trouble, which is annoying and wrong;
  • Everyone else gets stuff all the time, and you are getting nothing;
  • There is some mysterious limit on both screen time and the eating of treats that should be a LOT higher, and then when you fronce off to your room and slam the door in a perfectly reasonable expression of how political change is required in this household, you get a “talking to,” which is stupid and boring;
  • Come to think of it, everything is stupid and boring.

We lived through 11 last year with the Captain. At the time we wondered what had come over him, and if this was his personality from now on. Then he turned 12 and was magically restored to a considerate, friendly boy who wanted to do family stuff with us again. So there is hope, but it certainly is going to be a long year.

REALLY looking forward to 16, I’m sure.

Summer of Pretty Good

So far we’ve had a pretty quiet summer, not so much awesome as pretty good. I was sick for a bit in there, and there was some bad weather, and then our fridge died and I have spent several days now at home waiting for repairmen in an ongoing saga that continues to this day. Also, I bailed on a few things that turned out to be farther than I thought I could handle, namely Parc Omega, which it turns out is an hour and a half away, and it was just so much easier to go down the street to the park instead, you know?

So as a result we haven’t really been keeping pace with my Summer of Awesome list, and there’s been a little more screen time than there should be, but I can say this – we are having a pretty good time. Relaxing, the kind of summer days you dream of when you’re in school, days when you don’t have to get up at any particular time and don’t have to get dressed until lunch and, other than a crappy math worksheet your mom makes you do, don’t really have to think about anything. Good times.

Speaking of screens, we spent yesterday at CHEO (nothing to worry about, just some tests for the Captain for obscure things he is 99% unlikely to have, but our doctor is being very thorough). On the way there I noticed that unlike every other car ride we have taken so far this summer, which has resulted in so much bickering from the back seat that I am considering driving with earplugs in, that there was silence. There I was, actually focusing on the road for a change, humming along to the radio with no one begging me to either CHANGE IT or TURN IT UP, no one trying to explain to someone else at top volume that they are TOTALLY WRONG ABOUT THAT ONE SMALL THING AND A COMPLETE STUPIDHEAD. What up?

The secret, it turned out, was that everyone had brought along some sort of video/gaming device for use in the hospital waiting room, and I assumed they’d pack them away until we got there, but instead they had all whipped them out and were each playing some sort of Simpsons game individually and happily and most of all, SILENTLY. We are having a screen time struggle around here lately but my heavens, there is definitely something to be said for those new cars with built in WiFi. A genius idea – it’s like it’s almost a requirement for road safety.

And speaking of devices, we have two new ones in the house – the Captain replaced his ancient iPod with a tablet he bought himself, and then Gal Smiley ran right out and got herself one to match. She’s nearly 11, the same age the Captain was when he got his first iPod. I find that navigating the world of screens and technology and the internet to be one of my greatest fears as a parent, mostly because I have NO idea how to handle it and I’m just wading in and hoping for the best. So I like reading about when other parents got devices for their kids, and what the rules are.

So for the record, we seem to be doing a thing where our kids are allowed their own device just before turning 11; devices are only allowed in the common area, not in their rooms, and must be left downstairs to charge at nighttime; internet games are allowed (the Captain plays Clash of Clans and Boom Beach) with our direct involvement (Sir Monkeypants plays with him), but so far they don’t have any social media accounts. Previously when the Captain had an iPod he was tied into our common family Apple account, and he didn’t have the password, so he couldn’t buy or install anything without our approval. To give him more privacy – he likes to instant message his cousin in Toronto about Clash of Clans, and their conversations were also showing up on the family iPad – we just now gave him his own email and Apple account, with no money in it. We’ll see how that goes – we’re playing it by ear – but so far, so good. Advice welcome!

And now back to waiting for the fridge repair guy…getting the kids to take a screen break…and summoning up the courage to drive to Gatineau Park, which as it turns out, is over an hour away. Happy summer!

Ottawa Statues Walking Tour

I took the kids on a walking tour of downtown Ottawa this week to look at statues and other outdoor art, with my friend Tudor and her two boys. Here in Ottawa you can’t really turn around without falling over another statue or memorial or monument, and there are some that are really interesting, and I really, really wanted to check them all out. In fact, I wish I could have gone to ALL of them, like literally every single one in the city, but in the end I had to try to restrict myself to a reasonable downtown area. And even then, it wasn’t all that reasonable as we were walking around for FOUR hours and enthusiasm, I’m sure you can imagine, waned a bit at the end there.

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But overall I had a good time and although I’m not sure this will be THE event of the summer, I think the kids liked it okay, and learned quite a bit about Ottawa and history and what they would and would not consider art, so that’s definitely a summertime win. Plus, they now have a few favourites so next time we are downtown, we can be sure to revisit the best ones and spend more time there and hopefully make a lasting happy memory.

I wanted it to be a little interactive for the kids so I set up our walking tour like an Amazing Race – I had a pile of clues and I gave the kids them one at a time to lead them to the next statue. Each kid also had a map of downtown that they could mark things on, or use to trace their route. I’d say this approach had mixed success. Since we had a variety of ages, I made the clues really simple (along the lines of, “Go north a block, and look for some giant stones”) and the older boys (aged 13, 12, and 11) found that got pretty boring after a while, although the level of clues was perfect for my almost-8-year-old, so not sure I could have found clues that would work for the whole group anyway.

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I’d say, if I were to do it again, I’d revamp it and do one of the following instead:

For an older tween or teen crowd, I’d reduce the number of statues, and make the clues way harder – number puzzles or word scrambles or history clues that require lookup on a smartphone.

Or, also for an older crowd, keep the simple clues but rather than handing them out one by one, give them the whole list of clues, divide them into teams, and make it into a race.

For younger kids, instead of clues, maybe lead them on the walking tour and give them a scavenger hunt list – say they need to watch out for a “bronze feather” or a “statue made of wood” or “someone wearing a three-pointed hat” or things like that. In fact, I think this is my favourite idea.

Or, also for younger kids, go totally laid back and just take them to a specific area – city hall, or Major’s Hill Park, or Parliament Hill – and have them wander freely and find what they are going to find; possibly gently guide them to a few hidden statues of particular interest.

I’ll leave those ideas as an exercise to the reader.

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We ended the tour with ice cream in the market and let me say that the promise of ice cream, as well as snacks and pop and candy along the way, went a LONG way to making this event a success. Things to pack, in addition to sugar (or pocket money to purchase sugar along the way): sunscreen, hats, camera, lots of water, clipboards (OMG, there was SO MUCH love for the dollar store clipboards I brought); possibly a compass for the directionally challenged.

Below you’ll find links to the stuff I used, including the list of statues we went to, maps used, and clue sheets, if they can be of use to you. There are 37 statues on the main list, with a few bonus ones you can go see if you’re up for some side trips, but as I mentioned above it took us almost 4 hours to do this walk, which is almost 7 km long, including breaks for rests/snacks/drinks and the end walk back to the car. For smaller kids I would definitely recommend shortening this up. Either you can have a look at the full list and make your own hit list, or I would recommend just focusing on some or all of these that were favourites of my own kids:

  • #3 – The Living Room, City Hall
  • #7 – Ottawa Firefighters Memorial, City Hall
  • #11 – Kwakiutl Totem, Confederation Park
  • #12 – Animals In War/Boer War Memorial, Confederation Park
  • #13 – Oscar Peterson outside the NAC
  • #19 – Grizzly Bear (“Territorial Prerogative”) on Sparks Street
  • #22 – Famous Five on Parliament Hill
  • #23 – Lafontaine and Baldwin Statue – Whispering Wall, Parliament Hill
  • #27 – Ruins of Colonel By’s home, Major’s Hill Park
  • #28 – Anishinabe Scout, Major’s Hill Park
  • #31 – Maman, National Gallery
  • #32 – Majestic (Lampposts from Hurricane Katrina), National Gallery
  • #33 – One Hundred Foot Line, National Gallery
  • #37 – Dancing Bear, Jeanne D’Arc Court in the Market

Here’s a link to my full document.

Here’s a link to just the “clues” if you want to print them out for the kids to use.

Here’s a link to my Google Map that lays out the whole route, and marks the exact location of each statue.

Just let me know if you have any questions – I’d be happy to chat about it!

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1989

Oh my GOD, you GUYS. IT WORKED. I went to see Taylor Swift last night, in some sort of crazy stars-aligning miracle situation. I apologize in advance for the amount of all-caps in this post but I still just CANNOT get over it – my half-cocked plan of action actually WORKED. Crazy!

I spent all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday on Kijiji, compulsively reloading the Taylor Swift search, looking for people posting tickets. By Monday new postings were going up at least every five minutes, either people with tickets to sell, or people looking for tickets. The going asking rate was still around $200 a ticket, and the going “willing to pay” price for people looking was around $100 a ticket, and actually things started to get kind of bitter on there as a few “looking” people started to bitch about how the “selling” people should get off their high horses and should be grateful to get something rather than nothing, while the sellers started to post snidely that NO LOWBALLERS were welcome, and eep. I emailed about 100 people letting them know I’d take a ticket (or two, my friend LuckySevens was willing to join me) off their hands for (admittedly) lowball prices but almost no one even bothered to write back.

So…Monday night rolls around. Here I also have to mention that I’d been really sick all weekend, like so sick I actually spent Sunday lying on the couch resting, which is nearly impossible for me as I have an overwhelming need to be busy at all times. But my head was pounding and I couldn’t eat anything because my throat was so sore I couldn’t swallow. It would have been so easy to just bail but Sir Monkeypants was AWESOME, he was all, “It’s an opportunity!” and “She might not be back for a while!” and “Do something crazy while you still can!”

So, having not eaten anything but yogurt for three days, I took all the Tylenol allowed by law and made myself a little sign in Word that said “SINGLE TICKET WANTED.” Then I drove down to the Canadian Tire Centre and (GULP) paid $15 for parking and figured I was committed now. I headed over with my little sign and hoped for the best.

There was a fairly big crowd milling around outside because there were stands set up where you could have your picture taken with Taylor Swift cutouts and souvenir stands and stuff, so I held my little sign and started walking around. I felt like an IDIOT, everyone staring at me, GAH. I figured I’d last maybe five minutes tops. A guy pulled me aside and pointed me in the direction of a scalper in a red hat – said scalper had a few single tickets but he wanted at least $250 for them, so I passed. I made one more circuit with my sign, ready to pack it in.

And then, A MIRACLE. A lady came over to me and said, “Oh, you need a ticket? We have an extra,” and then she GAVE IT TO ME. HERE YOU GO, WEIRD LADY. COME SIT NEXT TO ME. FOR FREE.

OH. MY. GOD. Pretty much my ideal plan, RIGHT THERE.

I mean, what are the chances of that actually happening? Like, nil, right? It was a crazy, stupid plan, right? And then IT TOTALLY WORKED.

This reminds me of a side anecdote about my Uncle Mark, who, at age 8, was caught smoking with his buddy Rob by his mother, my Nana. The hilarious part of this story is that Mark and Rob’s plan for trying smoking did not involve stealing cigarettes, but rather, sitting at the side of the road and waiting for a passing driver who was nearly done his cigarette to throw it out the window onto the road, and then they’d pick it up and smoke the last bit. And of course you would think, great plan boys, that is NEVER going to happen, and then that is EXACTLY what did happen not five minutes after they sat on the curb. The world is funny sometimes.

So, I rushed inside and the ticket was good, and I peed and ran to my seat where my new best friend was already sitting (Nicole T. of Manor Park, you are THE BOMB). She was there with her 15-year-old daughter and daughter’s friend, and there was a third friend who was unable to make it last minute, and they couldn’t find anyone else to take the ticket, so it was just available. I like to think it was fate.

And, GUYS, the ticket was also AWESOME. 300 level but really central AND I got to sit on an aisle which meant I had a great unobstructed view at all times.

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Audience for Taylor Swift: 13 000 girls and women, about 500 men. But the girls were so cute! Many had dressed up or wore handmade concert t-shirts or had signs. Nicole’s daughter and friend had matching outfits of white tutus and sparkles and feather boas that they had made themselves, and they were so adorable. Some had even made magical glowing signs, like this one:

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The opening act was Vance Joy and he was just adorable and I like his song Riptide. Still couldn’t believe I was actually there.

And THEN, OMG TAYLOR SWIFT.

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She did not disappoint. Over two hours of solid music and she was onstage all the time unless she was quickly changing costumes. And she chatted up the crowd too, a combination of a) Ottawa is awesome! and b) you are all my personal friends and c) don’t let other people’s opinions weigh you down, because you are awesome!. I’m sure she says all the same things at every concert but it felt very sincere and heartfelt and honest and OMG I LOVE TAYLOR SWIFT.

(She totally loves me too. She said so.)

After the show I thanked Nicole again profusely because she is seriously, the greatest human on the planet next to TAYLOR FREAKING SWIFT, and then I dashed out – as a single you can make it out to the parking lot pretty quickly and I think I was the first one out of there, back home 15 minutes after the concert ended to nurse my ringing ears and take some more Tylenol. Today: aiming for solid food for the first time in days and sharing my pics with the girls. AWESOME.

Stalking Tay-Tay

I am a singer. I sing in the car, in the shower, when I’m making dinner. I am really not a good singer, not at all. But at least three quarters of my mental capacity is taken up with song lyrics – I can’t stop it, they just get in there like a virus – and so I figure I better put the lyric library to good use. Plus, it makes me happy.

Today we were out at the War Museum and on the way there, Little Miss Sunshine was belting out Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” at top volume and it was lucky she was in the back seat and couldn’t see my face, because then I’d have to explain the huge grin. It’s not that I thought she was funny, it was just SO adorable. The passion involved in the belting – oh honey, I have been there. I had a moment when I thought of all the times I had sung in the car growing up, and I often wondered if I bugged my mother (my sisters made it clear that YES, IT BUGS). Maybe it will come around to bothering me someday but for now, I just had a swell of the sweetness of parenthood, the good stuff when your kid is just like you in the best possible way. Well, I think it’s the best possible way, at least. Next up: tap dancing in grocery store lines!

Speaking of Tay-Tay, she is coming to town on Monday, playing at the Canadian Tire Centre which is like, five minutes from my house. I really, really regret not getting tickets. I was considering taking the girls and then backed out because it would be too late of a night for them, but now that the date is looming I must admit that I, personally, really want to go. Sir Monkeypants bought me her album for Mother’s Day and I am properly embarrassed at my extreme soccer mom-ness, but I do love it, and I bet it’s an awesome show, and I wish I were going.

So I had a peek at Kijiji a couple of days ago (because it’s sold out) and there are like, 100 people on there selling off their tickets, which is hopeful, but they all want like $300 a ticket, which is not quite as hopeful. So I am thinking, if there are so many people with extra tickets, how about on Monday I just go over there at like, 8 p.m., with a sign around my neck that says “SINGLE TICKET WANTED” and see what happens? I mean, I’m not going to pay scalper prices, but I figure if I wait until the show actually starts, I could probably snap up a ticket at a reasonable price and get inside in time to catch Shake It Off.

Maybe I’ll even get really lucky and someone will be there with a group and someone from their group didn’t show and they’ll let me have the extra ticket for $20. Maybe I won’t get anything and all it will cost me is an evening of lurking about and $10 in parking money.

All in all it seems kind of badass and it seems to me that at my age, I could use a little more badass in my life. Hang in there, Taylor, I’m coming!

For the Record

I do not understand how it is that all three of my children are incapable of sleeping with a sheet.

And by that, I don’t mean that they kick off their blankets and sleep in the open air, which might make sense – too hot maybe, or tossing and turning.

No, I mean that every night I tuck them in, heads on the pillow, a sheet and a comforter pulled up to their chin. And then, by morning, there is a balled up sheet at the bottom of the bed, while the comforter remains pulled up.

So somehow, they are kicking the sheet alone down to the bottom of the bed, while keeping the blanket. I cannot imagine the kind of sleep gymnastics that must be required to make this happen. The contortion required. And if one kid did it, I’d think, okay, they sleep weird, but all three do it, like it’s some kind of genetic quirk that Sir Monkeypants and I have cursed upon all our descendents.

I used to think they’d figure it out eventually, but the Captain is now twelve and still the sheet bunching is going on, so lately I’ve started a solid campaign to teach the three of them what a sheet is for, and why I would like them to use one, and how to use one. Repeat: I am teaching my children HOW TO USE A SHEET.

When the kids were little, my friend Izabela once commented on how the most surprising thing about parenthood is the way you have to teach them every little thing, and even stuff that you’d think would be blatantly obvious, or easily picked up by imitation, or just native to the human race, turns out to be taught. She was so right. “Hey kids – here’s how your bed works. Next week we’ll talk about how to sit in chairs without squirming around or tilting them so far you fall over, and how to work a washcloth.”

SIGH.

Pushing Daisies

I’ve been watching Pushing Daisies with the older two kids. I admit it: I forced them into it. Pushing Daisies is, like, my nirvana of TV shows, considering it features everything I love about life, the universe, and everything, including:

  • Pie
  • Musical numbers
  • Clever puns and witty banter
  • 50s fashions (gloves! hats! pumps dyed to match the dress!)
  • Magical realism
  • Bright colours
  • Murder mysteries
  • Omniscient narration
  • Gentle, quiet romance involving a lot of longing looks and flirty comments

All this, plus synchronized swimming, a vast variety of cheeses, eye patches, AND Ellen Greene. SWOON.

pushingdaisies

I’m happy to report the kids are properly sucked in. The Captain (age: 12 and a bit) thinks it’s silly but just loves it. Gal Smiley (age: nearly 11) was a little freaked out by the dead bodies at first, and still does sometimes find it scary, but won’t hear of us watching it without her. Isn’t it just the best part of parenting, when you can take something you love love love, and show it to your kids, and they’re young enough to love it too, instead of sneering about how everything you touch is LAME and GOD MOM, LEAVE ME ALONE?

These are the golden years, for sure.

Pushing Daisies, I admit, has been a bit of a stalling tactic because I told Gal Smiley she can watch Glee with me when she turns 11, and she is literally counting down the days to her birthday, when she plans on kicking off Episode 1 on Netflix and watching non-stop until her eyes bleed. I’m not sure she and I are ready for the teen years quite yet, but there’s massive peer pressure (“EVERYONE at school has seen it, MOM!”) and she’s already spent hours and hours watching the videos of the musical numbers online so I think the slippery slope has been slipped. It’s happening, starting September 21, so a delivery of hard liquor on that day would be appreciated.

So until the Glee thing starts up, I was looking for some other show to watch with them, and the others on my hit list – Buffy, Veronica Mars, and Serenity – are definitely for an older audience. What beloved series would you show to your kids, or have shown to your kids, given the chance?