You want to WHAT?


Dear Mommy DaVinchy, Mommy Einstein, and MommyMythBusters,

I feel your pain.

English: An afterburner glows on an F-15 Eagle...
English: An afterburner glows on an F-15 Eagle engine following a repair during an engine test run November 10, 2010, at the Florida Air National Guard base in Jacksonville International Airport, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just spent 30 minutes in discussion the 16 year old talking about strapping jet engines to his back and creating a series of controlled explosions to have him move 20km/hr with wheels strapped to his feet. He has created the plan, done the physics and discussed the “fun factor”. Before he sourced his materials he wanted approval for his project.

After listening to his argument for Pro Jet Packs – I said no. Listing the reasons as to how it would effect me.

  1.   Being a minor, I am responsible for his well being. I did mention once he turns 21, has a job and an engineering degree – I’m cool with it.
  2.  I do not currently have the time to to be engaged in regular meetings with a social worker from Family Support services due to my lack of judgement of letting my son play with rocket fuel.
  3. I have better things to do than sit in emergency waiting for details of fractures, comas, burns and lobotomies.
  4. Financial implications. Alberta Health does offer support for stupid acts of awesome, however they do not offer a pharmaceuticals plan. I would need Extra coverage from Blue Cross and I am currently not in the position to gain coverage for above and beyond the reasonable amount required by the average citizen.
  5. I have no desire to be on Dr. Phil explaining the reasoning behind not being a parent.

You see, I have a big opinion about parenting. I shall share this public service announcement with you:

If you choose to have children and KEEP them, then you must accept ownership. Part of this ownership is to be a PARENT not a friend, pal or buddy to your child. That is not to say it is not okay to enjoy them in a friend capacity, however – get your own PEER group for extensive sharing, exuberant activities and so forth. Being the parent requires the ADULT (you) to make JUDGEMENT CALLS on the activities the minor in your care wishes to make. This includes things that are life altering (wear a helmet when you ride your bike) and remember SAFETY FIRST. It is advisable and acceptable to say NO on occasion and you do not need to give an explanation. You are the PARENT. Do not worry if your offspring is going to hate you, THEY ALWAYS DO! They hate you because you are too strict, or they hate you because you are too lenient. You can’t win – so take my advice and do the right thing. JUST SAY NO! I do however, find it helpful to explain your reasoning as to how you came to this conclusion. It is important for emerging critical thinkers to understand all the steps involved in planning.

For example:

OffSpring – it would be cool to put on a cape and jump off a 3 story building.

Mom – No it wouldn’t and here is why…

Do not be afraid of NO. Practice it in front of the mirror. Say it out loud. Get use to hearing yourself say it. Then practice it on others, not just your child. It is OKAY to say no.

If you cannot think of a good explanation as to WHY they should not do something, then one of two things is happening.

  1. Their request is reasonable
  2. You do not have the know-how to understand consequences. If this is the case, then by all means allow your offspring to attempt this outrageous request. Darwin called it survival of the fittest. Natural selection by elimination has been done by nature for years. This is how humans keep the gene pool strong and healthy.

My 16 year old ended the conversation with “Well, now I know where the line is”

Damn straight Offspring, but don’t get too comfortable, it is my prerogative to have that line be flexible and move as I as fit. After all, I AM THE PARENT!



I Live on the Island of Misfit Toys

Do you remember watching Rudolf as a kid and being enchanted with the Island of Misfit Toys?  I do and have been thinking about that time a lot lately.

When I was little, my mom would go through the TV Guide and highlight all the Christmas specials during the month of December. Every night after dinner my brother and I would have a bath, hop into our flannel jammies, snuggle under a blanket on the floor and watch every possible Christmas special available. Mom often made hot chocolate with marshmellows and the Christmas baking was started so cookies were also a treat for bed time snack. Sometimes dad would light a fire and we always watched the show in the dark with only the tree lights on. It was magical for me. Fridays, mom would let us sleep under the tree. Imagine how magical it was for a little kid sleeping under the Christmas tree with the lights on! I would wake up in the middle of the night with the lights off and be disappointed. But was too lazy to turn the lights on, and too fearful of burning the tree burning down. Granny always had a good scare story about how some poor family left their lights on and their house burn to the ground. That was not an option for me. I liked my house, especially my room.

My room had two closets. One for clothes and one permanently set up as a doll house. I was living the dream…except for one thing. I never quite felt like I fit in. I could have easily lived on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Don’t misunderstand, I had lots of friends but I never felt part of the group. I’m sure lots of people feel that way. The older I get the more I realize it is true. People who think and over think and analyze things to death, often feel disconnect from the group. I still do in many ways. I have a ton of friends for a gal who hates people…not true, I like people just not every waking minute. I love solitude but I also love socializing. If I had to choose between the two…solitude would win. Strange to some, but normal to others.

I have lived through a lot of teenage drama this week. From boyfriends and dates, to misfit solitude. The balance is hard. The worst of it is, mommy can’t fix the pain. She can talk, sympathize, advise, support, but the decision must be made by the teens themselves. It’s nights like this one where I wish for the simplicity of being 8 and sleeping under the Christmas Tree. I wish I could make it that easy for my Offspring. As a mom, it may in fact be more painful for me than it is for them. I’ve walked in their shoes, now I have heels and walk bedside them. Being a mom is harder than being a teenager. Wish someone had told me. I remember just wanting a baby, I didn’t think about them growing up.

I want to go to the magical attic, the place where everything is stored. (It is the equivalent to your dog moving to the country. I think it is called the Sally Ann, or the Dump.) And dig out my 1975 turquoise aluminium tree. Cover it in blue lights and white decorations and leave the lights on while I sleep. A little bit of Christmas fairy dust would be good about now. Maybe Santa will leave a giant bandaid in the stocking to fix the sore hearts in our house OR maybe we just need to settle down for a long winters nap.

It’s so Cold My Nostrils Froze Shut

I ventured outside yesterday against my better judgment. I went to a gathering because my daughter had a commitment I wanted her to see through. We stepped into the attached garage, I took a deep breath, and my nostrils froze shut. Now for those of you who live here on the Prairies, or even have experienced  north of the 45th parallel cold you now what I mean. Frozen shut nostrils means it is COLD.

We hopped into my car after unplugging it. It took about 10 blocks before we could feel heat coming through the vents. We didn’t find it cold enough that our feet froze in an effort to keep the windows clear, so I was quite surprised to find out a tidbit of information at this gathering.

Yesterday Edmonton was the 3rd coldest place on the planet. Antarctica was the first, than Calgary. When the wind blew it felt like -39C. Yes that is cold, the kind of cold that makes your skin burn. I love it!

I know you think I am crazy, but I don’t mind the cold so much. I find it convenient. I put a box on my deck to freeze my baking ( the box keeps the birds away). I have hoped we would have the coldest winter on record. Why you ask? Because the Evil Genius lands in Vancouver today, he comes to Edmonton on Saturday. He lives in Australia the land of sun, heat and Dingos. He is leaving his summer behind to experience a winter in the Great White North.  He deserves a bitterly cold winter.

Its been a while, but here is The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Best things about a Bitterly Cold Winter!

  1. The Sound of Snow! I know this may seem odd, but as it gets colder, there is a dense sound Sound seems to be absorbed by the snow. When you walk on it there is a crisp squeak beneath your boots. I love this sound!
  2. A Prairie Blue Sky! As the temperature drops, the sky just seems to get bluer, if that is even possible.
  3. The Sun Always Shines! When a High Pressure settles in for a long time, the sky stays clear, there is no extra snow and the sun shines all day!
  4. It’s a dry snow. Here on the prairies snow doesn’t tend to be wet and heavy until spring. In the winter snow is light, fluffy and dry. It gets on your clothes and you don’t get wet. You can stay outside longer because keeping dry means staying warm. Shoveling is easier – not that I know what it’s like to shovel snow, I have a Honey and Offspring for that.
  5. Everything takes longer. I like that. It is longer to get to work, it is takes longer to move around when you are bundled up, it is a lazier time, much more relaxing.
  6. Ice Fog. Ice fog produces beautiful sunrises and sunsets, keeps the trees and shrubs beautiful with the absence of leaves.
  7. Wool Socks. I love to be bare foot, but when it is cold there is nothing I like more than colourful cozy thick wool socks.
  8. Quilts. I use to quilt daily. That dwindled to occasionally, then eventually to never. However, I am so very happy I was prolific in my creations. I have enough cozy quilts for everyone to have on their bed, and an extra one each to wrap themselves in while sitting by the fire.
  9. Northern Lights. It seems to me, the colder it gets the clearer the skies and the brighter the Norther Lights get.
  10. Yorkshire Pudding. Has nothing to do with it being cold, but tastes better when it is cold outside.
  11. Frozen Breath. As a kid it was fun making designs with it or just puffing it out. I still like to do it.

I love that I live in a place that has four very different seasons. Winter isn’t my favorite of the four, but I would miss it if I didn’t have it any more.

The Edmonton Tourist Goes to Belgium!

The last time we spoke of my trip to Europe, we went to Vimy Ridge.  We all slept soundly laid awake for hours in Calais that night. Several farm fields over from the camp ground was a party that sounded like a rockin’ good time! It lasted all night and finally broke up around 6:00 AM, just in time for our Muppet filled caravan to greet the new day and head to Bruges, Belgium. Over breakfast my parents commented on the noise that night – and by noise they didn’t mean Chatterbox puking on the carpet, the meant the Farmville party next door. Apparently it was quieter sleeping at the Barcelona airport where they had picked up my sister weeks before…but I digress…

On the agenda today was Dunkirk and Ypres on the way to Bruges. I had heard of Dunkirk, the great battle that slaughtered Allies by the thousands. Churchill sent a plea out to every one who had row boats, fishing boats or other water craft to sail across the English Chanel and rescue who they could. The kind of story where you expect John Wayne to show up in. Except, Hollywood didn’t have a hand in this tale.

We arrived at Dunkirk early morning. The sun was shining in the cool morning air. We walked along the road to the War Memorial and Cemetery. What got my attention was the large square stones lining the sidewalks. They represented the thousands of soldiers known only to God. It was difficult for the Offspring to walk around and look at the names and ages of the young boys buried beneath the head stones. It was clear, they were ready to see parts of Europe that did not involve any wars of the 20th Century. A difficult task considering the neighborhood we were in, as well as the rest of the Muppet Show Cast was very interested in seeing more war memorabilia. It was their Grandfather who saw the fear in Chatterboxes eyes, and said, “Sweetheart, I’m sick of war stuff too, this will be our last day looking at war things.” Thanks Dad for understanding.

We all piled into the Caravan and headed towards Ypres on a Sunday. Unlike here, most places in Europe close on a Sunday….swell. The Offspring would be so pleased…

As soon as we crossed the border into Belgium, we saw an old wooden windmill. You think anyone would stop so we could take a picture? No, sorry…maybe the next time we see one. For the record, that was THE ONLY old wooden windmill we would ever see.

The arrival into Ypres was fairly amazing. We were looking for yet another War Memorial. Only this time, we drove through it! And NO, I don’t mean my Dad crashed into it, that didn’t happen while we were in the caravan – PHEW! It was a tunnel like structure.

I remember hearing my Honey’s excited voice, “WE ARE DRIVING THROUGH IT!” Cool! So we had arrived to the Menin Gate. It was impressive! It records the soldiers of the British Empire without graves. We walked through it, looked at names and saw my son’s name. Although I knew that wasn’t really my son, it still weakened my knees. At that moment I knew I never wanted to actually see my son’s name on a wall. I was ill.

We moved our way up to the grassy park that was high above Yrpes. I needed air, I didn’t share my feelings with my family. My honey wanted to keep exploring but I needed to change my view. Like my Offspring, the time had come for me to end the War Memorial visits. It was starting to affect me.

As we climbed into the sunshine I saw the most beautiful view. It was enough to change my focus. I suggested to The Muppet Show Cast that we head down towards the street level and explore the town for a while. Besides, I needed chocolate. I was in the country where the best chocolate in the WORLD is made! (If my Boss happens to read this post, FYI it is not Guatemala!)

The street we explored was call Victor Hugo – cool name for a street. Being Sunday, everything on Victor Hugo was closed except the Church, the 16 Pubs, and the Chocolate Shop! Sweet joyous chocolate, open on a Sunday? I must have died and gone to heaven! I spotted the shop from down the street. I lost track of the Muppets around me. It was like my destiny flashed before my eyes and showed me my future. I was destined to walk into that shop.

The Owner walked in from the behind the magic curtain – likely wasn’t really magic but to me it was. She greeted us and I spoke English to her hoping she was fluent. SUCCESS! She explained to me the wondrous delights that were displayed under the glass. We talked about how she hand makes them herself in the back, no factory bulk chocolate here! IT really was heaven and I was there to experience it! I asked advice on purchasing a variety. I needed some for my team, some for honey’s office, some for my boss and an EXTRA LARGE FABULOUS BOX for me! Honey bought a small sample bag to eat instead of lunch. The total for 5 boxes of handmade, the most delicious chocolates ever, was 15 euros. 15!!!! As I sit writing this I wish I bought myself 6 more boxes. Oh well Hind sight is 20/20.

As we strolled back to the caravan with chocolate smeared all over our faces, I thought about how thankful I was that I had my family to share this experience with and how it felt not to have my son on the wall.

Next stop, Bruges.


That is a Great Costume! What are you?

Children dressed up in Halloween costumes.
Who dresses like this for Halloween?

I use to spend hours flipping through catalogs and patterns looking for adorable Halloween costumes for the Offspring to wear. Some costumes were incredibly cute! I was particularly fond of a ladybug outfit that I had wanted one of my kids to wear, but the sad reality was, Ladybug costumes just aren’t warm enough.

As I write today the current temperature is -2C or 28F. Winter has arrived here in Edmonton and brought a dusting of snow along with it. Typical Halloween Costume criteria for Canadian kids is 1> does it fit OVER a snow suit? 2> is it made of FUR? 3> Are the mittens able to hold on to the bag of candy?

It sounds so complicated here. Last August I was at Walt Disney World, Florida with my family. It was hotter than walking on the sun. The bottom of my flip-flops stuck to the sidewalk because they were melting to the pavement. That isn’t normally a problem here in the Great White North! All the shops were filled with tiny costumes the required bare legs or arms. Sizing meant the ACTUAL size of the child, not snowsuit size. Nothing was made of fur! Buying costumes in the United States was never really an option for us. Simply not warm enough.

When I was a kid, costumes were never that fancy.You either dressed like an Eskimo Inuit or you went digging in your Dad’s closet to dress as a Hobo, and when I say hobo – I mean my dad was not really a Hobo. Sure Mom thought he dressed like one, but his clothes were large enough to fit OVER all my winter gear. It was very warm and it needed to be. We would head out in the DARK, because sunset was 4:00pm. Thanks to Daylight Savings later now, the sunsets after dinner. One thing was always constant, there was snow and lots of it. A colleague and I were talking about the year there was a blizzard for Halloween. It was so cold most kids stayed home. Snow drifts were thigh high and the temperature had to be -25C. We would trudge ( because you can’t just walk in a snow drift) up to the house, people would be so impressed that you braved the cold, they would dump candy by the handfuls into your pillowcase. 10 houses and you had enough candy to last until Christmas!

In the past 10 years, Halloween has been warmer. My Offspring really doesn’t know what it is like to be out in a blizzard for Halloween, but they still wore snowsuits under their Minnie Mouse, or Darth Vader costumes. It looks like this year will be a bit colder in years past. Only one Offspring is braving the cold this year. Obviously I have failed as a Mom raising a true “Canadian” trick or treater. Braving cold is no longer a badge of honor. Kids rather eat food in the pantry then go door to door and beg for it.

I don’t have anyone to take door to door this year. I faked being really happy about it. But the truth of the matter is I am kind of sad. No dressing warm, no walking around in the dark, no laughing with other moms and the outrageous costume ideas. But mostly I will miss visiting one special house down the street from me. They gave candy to the kids but “special” treats for the adults  – and when I say “special” I mean Kahlua. That is what made walking around the neighborhood really fun.

I wonder if I can “borrow” the neighbor’s kids this year?