Category Archives: Parenting

Three for me, three for the kid

I’m 52% through my 2014 book challenge, and apparently two books ahead of schedule with 27 out of 52 books read. Not bad, but there are no room for dry duds to pop up and slow me down.planb

I’ve read three books since my last post: one good, one meh and one great.

The good was Plan B by Jonathan Tropper. I’ve read a few of his more recent books, and this debut was as solid as the rest. A just-turned-30 year old, freshly divorced, conspires with three other old college cronies to kidnap and rehabilitate another college friend who’s become a coke head. He also happens to be a movie star. Things, obviously, don’t play out as anyone imagines, but the characters are interesting, the plot is fun and the book is full of late 90s pop culture gems.  It’s an easy read and a good intro to Tropper’s work. This Is Where I Leave You (the first book of his I read) is going to be a movie soon with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, so there’s that.astonish-me

The meh was Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I really wanted this to be good. It takes place in the ballet world of the 1970s and the 1990s, focusing on a corps ballet dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star escape in the 1970s. Years later, she’s raising a son to be a dancer with her devoted husband and hiding a whole lot of secrets. Let’s just say it didn’t astonish me, though I will say it ended better than it began. It really started to hit its stride around 80% through – not nearly soon enough.

the-confabulistThe great was The Confabulist by Steven Galloway. It weaves the story of Harry Houdini’s rise to fame and the behind the scenes intrigue of his life with that of Martin Strauss, a man who can’t seem to determine which of his memories are real and which are made up. It dives into how Houdini performed some of his most famous tricks, and focuses on his determination to debunk spiritualists who prey on people’s grief for money. This book is fantastic. So well written and so intriguing. I loved it.

I’ve also read a few books with the kid. We’re a big reading family, and both Chad and I want to have a hand in her literary discovery, so every night I read a few chapters of a book with her, Chad reads a few chapters of a different book with her and then she reads on her own in bed. She’s got to have crazy dreams.

Aside from my own book challenge, I’ve read a number of “chapter books” with her lately. Here are a few.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I loved this book as a kid and was excited to find the 50th Anniversary edition at Chapters, so picked it harrietup and read it with Scarlett. It’s about an only child growing up in New York, who dreams of being a spy – and tries her spying skills out on everyone in the neighbourhood, including her friends. One day she loses her notebook, which records all of her truthful and sometimes hurtful spying activity and finds herself shunned by the friends she’s been spying on. A great, honest novel about friendship and growing up. It was one of the first books I read – probably right before I dove into Judy Blume – that didn’t sugar coat childhood. This is a great one to read with your kid as there’s lots to discuss. A gem.

We also recently read The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. Scarlett and I watched the The-School-For-Good-And-Eviltrailer for this book a long time ago and decided this was a “must read”. It’s a pretty complex story about two friends – one beautiful, charming and princess-like, the other ugly, morose and witch-like – who are stolen away from their home in the woods to attend the School for Good and Evil, a place where all fairy tale characters get their start. The twist is that the beauty is thrown into the school for evil, while the witch-like girl is put into the school for good. Why were they switched? How can they get back to their proper spots? Will their friendship last? Unlike a lot of fairytales, this one really dives into the meaning of beauty and ugliness, good and evil, and how nothing is truly definitive. My one gripe with this – there’s a sequel. Clocking in at around 500 pages, this isn’t a quick nighttime novel, and jumping into the next one right away feels like a bit much. I think we’ll end up reading it, but we (I) need a bit of a break.

The last book we read together was Doll Bones by Holly Black, the co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles. This is not for the easily-scared child or one who is prone to nightmares. The book is about Zach, Poppy and Alice, three friends in dollbonesthe 10 to 12 age range who have been playing this amazing and imaginative game with old dolls and action figures, creating their own world of adventure, ruled by the bone china doll in Poppy’s mom’s china cabinet. When Zach’s dad throws his figures out because he thinks he should focus on  more age appropriate activities, their world is thrown upside down until Poppy starts having vivid dreams about the china doll and claims she’s visited by the ghost of a girl who won’t rest until the doll is buried in her empty grave. The three set off to put this spirit to rest, but nothing goes to plan. Well written, kind of disturbing, and super creepy. We both liked it.

Next up: Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.

Next up for me and the kid: Who Could That Be at This Hour? (All the Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket.

kp

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Born This Way

Earlier this week, Chad asked my opinion on how to respond to someone via email.

Without getting into details, he was struggling with a response, while I told him to ignore it and delete it. At this point, Scarlett piped up.

“Mom, dad’s acting with integrity right now and you’re not.”

For real.

My own kid took me down several notches. She was right, too.

Yesterday, at Scarlett’s school assembly she was presented with an award by her teacher for showing integrity, after her class performed Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. She introduced the performance with another little guy from her class. She said that integrity means being yourself and not doing what other friends try and tell you. Make your own decisions.

Kudos to her amazing teacher for ingraining this message into these kids at such a young age. I hope that Scarlett continues to embrace her own integrity, and respects and loves people for who they are.

I’d like to think that Chad and I taught her to have integrity, but seriously, I think she was born this way.

Here’s her performance (apologies for the crappy Flip camera quality. Scarlett’s the redhead with the blue dress and the white sweater):

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Dusk-Til-Dawn, Family Style

Last night we packed up the car with a ton of blankets, snacks and pjs (for the kid) and went to a drive in. It was a triple feature — not quite a “dusk-til-dawn”, but pretty close.

In the true tradition of multi-feature drive in experiences, the owners pieced together a disjointed, and terrible collection of movies. In this case, it was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Prom, and I Am Number Four. Obviously, the draw was Pirates, but in our case the clincher for us parking in front of screen number one was that they were all rated PG. With a kid in tow, we actually exhibited some parental guidance and avoided the other screens with movies we both wanted to see.

But going to a drive in isn’t really about movies at all. It’s about the experience. The making of a nest of blankets in the back seat, the giant drinks in the car cup holders, and the visit to the circa-1965 playground directly in front of the screen, which features a pure metal slide at a solid 60-degree angle and a side rail that stands about two inches off the side (yes, we saw a 4 year old crash off the side about 5 feet from the ground).

This was our second drive in in about 11 years. We tried to go when Scarlett was two, thinking she’d fall asleep immediately, but after trying to watch The Bourne Ultimatum with her climbing on my head and honking the horn with her feet, we let it go.

This time, she was thrilled. Could she tell you anything about the plot of Pirates? Probably not, but neither could I. But all day today she talked about how it was such a special and fun night.

It made me think a lot about going to the Sundown Drive In in Saskatoon. Here are a few of the drive-in movies that I sat through back in the late 80s/early 90s:

That’s all I can think of right now. Remember anything else from the days of my Lada at the drive-in (I’m looking at you, AT, EG  and JC)? Please comment.

kp

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My Girl

 

Six years ago tonight, I hadn’t yet met my daughter.

At this point, I had been ready to go for about 40 hours, had two (yes, two) epidurals, my water broken, an internal monitor attached to my baby’s head and about 10 different nurses, who literally would look after me for a shift, go home to sleep and come back the next day to find me in the same place. I’m sure it wasn’t the world’s longest labour, but it sure felt like it.

After a total of 49 hours, my beautiful baby was born.

I will never forget the moment I first looked into her eyes. I had this clear, powerful thought: “I know you.”

I did.

Throughout my pregnancy, Scarlett and I would chat. She’d give me a good kick in my side, and I’d poke her back. Every morning before I got out of bed we poked each other back and forth, and it was one of my favourite parts of my pregnancy.

So when I looked at my precious little girl for the very first time, it felt like a reunion and a revelation all at once. And the most powerful surge of pure love I’ve ever felt.

Yep. She was mine.

Every day since I’ve been humbled and amazed that this is my kid.

She has the best parts of Chad and the best parts of me and a whole bunch of parts that are way better than both of us. She’s smart, beautiful, funny as hell, caring, loving, insightful, and someone I’d want to hang around with even if I wasn’t her mom.

Tomorrow my baby turns six. Six is scary to me. It means Grade One and recess with the big kids. But it also means even better conversations and a clearer glimpse in to the personality that is so wonderfully developing.

Tonight, as she was getting ready for bed she expressed some concern with turning six. How could she be sure that it was going to be as great as being five? And how sad is it that she will never, ever be five again? I’m pretty sure I didn’t have such clear thoughts as a five year old. Or as a thirty year old.

So happy birthday, my beautiful, wonderful girl. John Lennon said it best when he wrote: “Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better.”

 

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Thanks for being born

To my wonderful husband, Chad.

It’s your birthday today, and once again I suck. I bought you a whole lot of nothing as a present because a) you said you didn’t want anything and b) you’re the world’s hardest person to shop for. So your totally un-commercial gift that you can’t return is a blog post where I tell the world why I’m happy you were born.

You truly are the best person I’ve ever met. You don’t have a mean bone in your body and almost never even get mad, even when you probably should. You tirelessly tidy up after the tornado that is me and understand why the blankets have to be a certain way before I can even think about falling asleep. You let your daughter put face paint on your tummy, turning your scar into a rainbow with a unicorn frolicking on your navel because it made her happy. You wait until I’m in bed before playing video games you need to review so you can spend time with me. You let the kids in Scarlett’s class call you “Coconut Head” and chase you around because they think it’s the funniest thing ever. You wore the TV Hat at Disney World even though it was ridiculous. You always take out the recycling because you know I hate stickiness. You tell me you love me at the end of every phone call. You have never, ever picked a fight with me and have shut me down the times when I have. You are always an arm’s length or a phone call away, and I know with my whole heart that you would do anything for me. I’d do the same for you, baby.

You make me happy, Chad Sapieha.

You’re the best husband, the best dad and the best friend. Ever.

I love you! Happy birthday!

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To the moms who matter

It’s Mother’s Day, and a day I tend reflect on the moms in my life, including my own beautiful, stellar mom.

Today, I send love and respect to all of the moms I know.

To the moms who work far too much and spend their days feeling guilty and their nights cobbling together school projects, squeezing in haircuts and organizing everyone’s lives.

To the moms who stay home with their kids and worry about coddling them and feel guilty for wanting adult conversation.

To the moms with kids who challenge them in ways they never imagined.

To the moms with perfect kids who are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

To the moms whose babies were conceived during one night stands or on wedding nights or after a bottle of Shiraz or following months of injections or in a petrie dish.

To moms who battle the baby blues.

To moms who breast feed and to those who don’t, and especially to those who don’t judge the moms that do the opposite of what works for them.

To moms who literally cross the earth for their children — to China or Haiti or South Africa or Ethiopia.

To moms who aren’t afraid to admit that sometimes it’s really freaking hard.

To moms who fall in love all over again every time they see their child.

To moms who have amazing partners and to those who don’t.

To women who dread Mother’s Day because it’s another reminder of how they aren’t moms.

And finally, to my own mom, who lost her own mom on Mother’s Day, and who has given me immeasurable love and the world’s best example of how to do this amazing, incredible and terrifying job. I love you.

And now, some sage words from a great mom, Tina Fey from her book Bossypants — a prayer for her daughter. If you haven’t read this, go get it!

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

 May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Bea……uty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

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10 Things

Yeah, I’m back. I admit it: I’m a fairweather blogger. Actually, I’m more of a crapweather blogger, but what of it?

When life gets stressful, I make lists. As such, here are 10 things that I’m really looking forward to (in no particular order):

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Even though it’s in 3D (which I hate, thank you very much), I can’t wait for the final installment of the film franchise. Harry, Hermione, Ron, the final battle, Bellatrix getting taken down by Mrs. Weasley–it’s got to be amazing.

2. The Mother’s Day Tea at the kiddo’s school. Here’s her performance from last year:

3. The Royal Wedding. When Charles and Diana got married, I woke up in the middle of the night and sat glued to the TV in my dad’s La-Z-Boy chair. I obsessively collected Royal Wedding paraphenalia including Charles & Di paper dolls and every hardcover book on the couple to ever hit the bargain table at Coles. I am so watching this wedding.

4. The movie version of The Help. I really loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie. Emma Stone is a gem and I think she’ll make a great Skeeter.

5. Mommy/Daughter Week. Every summer, Scarlett and Chad spend a week hitting every theme park in the province. This year, I’m countering Daddy/Daughter Week with Mommy/Daughter Week. It won’t involve roller coasters, but it may involve manicures and fancy picnics. I can’t wait.

6. A visit from my mom. It’s been over six months since she was diagnosed with MAC, but she’s still not able to fly. We were hoping she’d be able to come for Easter, but we’re now keeping our fingers crossed for a May visit.

7. Berry season. I can’t wait for all of my favourite berries to be in season. I’m tired of paying premium for the only fruit that doesn’t make me projectile vomit or erupt into hives.

8. Tom’s weather. I bought two pair of Tom’s shoes last summer, and wore the hell out of them. Once I can feel convinced that it won’t snow again, I’m picking up two more.

9. Mad Men Season 4. We watch TV on Blu-ray or DVD, so we’re always way behind. I don’t have to wait long for this one, though–we’re starting it tomorrow.

10. The weekly meeting I attend every Friday at 2:00. It’s hands down the best workday hour of the week.

I feel better already. What are you looking forward to?

kp

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