Tag Archives: awesome

Forty-Seven — Swimming, Revisited

Indoor Pool Swimming Lessons, Fall and Winter Edition:

— Get your rain boots and coats and hats on, children, we’re going to the pool for lessons! Yes, it is dark outside and it feels like bedtime, but that’s just because it’s 5:00 pm in November. In the pool it will be warm and you will learn to swim.

— It’s important to learn to swim. Even in the winter. Stop crying. It is not that cold outside. It’s just wet! You will be wet in the pool anyway, right?

— The pool is in a building the size of several airplane hangars strapped together. It is hot and clammy in the change rooms and steamy in the pool area. The pool area is dark. Can’t they afford lights? It costs $20 for a family to go for a swim here.

— There are fifteen swimming classes going on in the teaching pool, all the lengths lanes are open, there are old folks in the hot tub, and diving lessons at the other end of the building. It looks like a cave and sounds like a canyon. I think there are things dripping from the ceiling. The ceiling seems very far away.

— Oh, the pool is COLD! Well, the air is warm. Go on now. Learn to swim.

— Here comes my twenty-five minutes to read a book! But there is nowhere to sit that isn’t damp because there have been lessons here for the past three hours straight. Damp damp damp dampness in my butt. I am sweating and damp and clammy.

— Why would your instructor dunk you in the pool and traumatize you for the next six weeks? How terrible.

— It’s 22 minutes past the hour; I must put away my book and grab the towels and meet the children at the edge of the teaching pool; run, run, run to get a change room, there are only ten rooms for sixty kids, what do you MEAN no running on the pool deck, RUN RUN RUN COME ON!

— Yes, those people *are* fighting over who was in line first. Yes, they *are* adults. Well.

— Peeling wet suits off children; trying to dry them while they aim the hand-held shower head at each others’ feet; getting the towels wet; working up a sweat because I am fully clothed in what is basically a sauna; listening to the children in other rooms scream and get screamed at.


— (or, the other half of the time, not getting a change room, deciding *not* to wait 20 minutes in line, so getting dressed in the disabled peoples’ stall in the bathroom. Insert row of ‘don’t touch that, don’t put that there, get off the toilet, etc.’ here.)

— We are going home for dinner as soon as you’re dressed. Yes. I know you’re hungry. So get dressed.

— Holy crap it’s COLD outside. And still raining. We forgot your umbrella. Let’s go back and find it.

— No, I won’t buy you vending machine food. No vending machine food. No vending machine food. Come ON.

— Wash all the things because they were all dropped on the change room/bathroom floor, which was wet and covered in hair and god knows what else.

— Fail Preschool Level 1 and Preschool Level 1, respectively.

Outdoor Pool Swimming lessons, July Edition:

— You’re already wearing your swim trunks because it’s hot. What a lovely day. Let’s get in the car and go to the pool for swimming lessons!

— Arlo: Are we late? I don’t want to be late. I hope we’re not late. Me: We’re not late. Arlo: Oh good.

— Take off your t-shirt and shoes. Put on your goggles. Bye, have a good class.

— What a lovely, shady tree. I will sit under it and read a book.

— This pool is small, so they don’t cram as many kids in. About twenty kids, four teachers.

— The breeze blows back my hair. Some sun flits through the tree branches. All around me is the sound of children playing in the park, children splashing in the pool, instructors instructing. “Let me see your ‘scissors.’ Where do we put our ears?”

— I hear Eli’s voice above the others in his class. “I want to go FIRST and be the FISHIE IN THE MIDDLE.”

— Class is over already! The children are dry before they leave the pool deck. We move a few feet into the sun and put down a blanket, eat a picnic lunch, then the children go play in the playground.

— Do I care if they pass the level? I do not.

— (A little. I care a little. But not nearly as much because I haven’t gone to as much trouble! It’s all about me.)

Outdoor swimming lessons in the summer: Recommended.

The Big Four-Oh

Hi, this is my fortieth post. I want you to know that I just spent two minutes staring at the letters “for” and wanting to type “tiest” at the end. Fortiest. It’s the FORTIEST!

Today I got the day off because Saint Aardvark is having a vacation, and it’s coming from inside the house! How splendid. After a week of summer vacation and two birthday celebrations for Arlo and a heat wave and some other stuff, it sure was nice to have a day off with no small children grappling at my flesh or talking to me.

First, I slept in until 7. Well, first I woke up at 5 but I managed to suffocate myself back to sleep until 7. By suffocate I mean put a pillow on my head just hard enough to shut out the world but not hard enough to actually suffocate. Obvs.

Then, I had a blueberry banana smoothie and some coffee and wrote in my morning journal out on the porch.

The kids and SA left for a trip uptown to the library and park. I ate some cereal.

Deciding to pack as much stuff into one day as possible, I decided to go for a run. I nearly expired from the heat. It is not that hot and it was only 9:30 and I don’t run that far — roughly 5 km — but I got really overheated anyway. I stood stock still under the cold spray of the shower when I got home, and it was so good I might have cried. The run was also good. I get a bit squirrely if I don’t get my exercise for a week.

I visited a friend for 11 am. We caught up on our lives and our children’s lives and she made us salads from her garden’s lettuce and topped them with hard boiled eggs and Swiss cheese. Then we went out to a nearby coffee shop to have a writing date. This friend and I get together periodically and the math goes: one hour of talking to fifteen minutes of writing, but the fifteen minutes makes us feel incredibly proficient and good about ourselves, so it counts for twice as long. I declare it.

I had an Earl Grey tea and she had an iced tea that was the colour of Hawaiian Punch.

At 2:30 I drove myself home in the car. It was hot like an oven so I drove fast to cool off. When I walked in the house, Eli shouted, “You’re HOME!” and ran over to hug me. “I am going to have some apple juice!” he announced. I believe these two statements are unrelated but you never know.

The rest of the afternoon was lazy and ended with barbecued chicken and corn on the cob (the children still don’t like corn on the cob, in case you’re keeping track. Apparently it’s “too sweet with a weird taste” [that’s Arlo; Eli won’t try it {sigh}]) and leftover birthday party cupcakes for dessert.

Now I hear bagpipes through my living room window — they practise in the Justice Institute across the street — and SA has gone to a mountain with his telescope to look at the night sky. I’m having wine, the cat is next to me on the couch, and now you know: the rest of the story.


Thirty-two is how many years old I was when I had Arlo, who turns seven on Monday.

Maybe it’s just that I’m a moody sort of person, but the moodiness of age 7 really suits me. It is self-conscious and insecure, sometimes, with a lot of introspection and ‘being alone in [my] room’ (much to Eli’s chagrin)(I mean fury). There’s a sweetness, still, and generally* not as much nastiness.

*except where his brother is concerned, where there’s always room for nastiness! Who’s got room for MORE NASTY? That’s what I thought, all you siblings.

Several times in the past few weeks, something Arlo has done has made me cry and realize that all the talking and talking and modelling appropriate behavior and talking and explaining and patience (and sometimes not patience) does pay off. SEVEN IS THE GOLDEN AGE, THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.

One day this past week, after school, he was disappointed that a friend of his wanted to play with a different friend, not Arlo. He cried and cried and I went over and gave him a hug. After we got home, he went up to his bedroom and shut the door. A few minutes later, he brought me a card he had made. The card said, “You tried to cheer me up when I was sad. Thank you.”

Another day this week, he asked if I could make cupcakes for him to bring to school and celebrate his ‘summer birthday’ with his classmates. I agreed to do so and then we had a brief discussion about how many he would need, determining 23 including the teachers. “Oh, and we should maybe bring some fruit or something for [kid] because he can’t have cupcakes.” At first I was annoyed because who wants an extra thing to do? Then I realized that every day for a week, someone would have brought cupcakes to class to celebrate a summer birthday, and every day [kid] didn’t get to have one. And my kid noticed. The reaction of the teachers when we provided two Canada Day balloons to [kid] in lieu of a cupcake said it all. #heartburstexplosion

He’s not perfect. But he’s a damned fine human.


Maybe you thought I was joking yesterday when I said I would take pictures of my water bottle. Well, friends, I spent the whole day with the kids and their moodsand I need to go drink some medicinal wine on the couch. Yes, you really do get to see pictures of my water bottle! Lucky.

Last year I was at the dollar store with Eli, looking for something, probably a notebook or paper bags or a plastic shovel. From the corner of my eye, I saw metal water bottles for $2. “Joint venture between Threadless and Thermos,” the sticker said. I was intrigued. I picked one up and I was instantly in love. On one side it read:

"I'm a huge metal fan!"

“I’m a huge metal fan!”

and on the other:

"Me too!"

“Me too!”

And only two bucks! I would have paid at least five.

Twenty-One Gun Salute

For those about to rock: we salute you.
For those about to sleep: we salute you, too.

For those whose children are dotted with red marker –but don’t worry, guys, it’s washable, (except I can smell that it’s smelly felts and smelly felts aren’t washable)– we salute you.
For those whose heads are foggy with lack of sleep and clouds of despair: we salute you.
For those who’ve had to work every day but weekends and the occasional holiday since their children were born, meaning they only get the evening and weekend and holiday behavior, meaning they get the grumpy/tired/hungry/sick children end of the stick: we salute you.
For those who still plan holidays, who still come home on evenings and weekends, who do the job, regardless: we salute you.

For those with hobbies: we salute you.
For those who pay down mortgages: we salute you.
For those who take a deep breath, apologize, and crack a joke: we salute you.
For those who hope for the best: we salute you.

For those who stick around, even when they don’t want to, ESPECIALLY when they don’t want to: we salute you.
For those who write it down: we salute you.
For those who try to teach instead of judge: we salute you.
For those who know how to do the heimlich maneuver: we salute you.
For those who know how to dance like a hip hop video: we salute you.
For those who can cook for other people: we salute you.
For those who know that laundry needs doing, always: we salute you.

For those who sing out loud and squint their eyes and play air guitar: we salute you.
For those who belch the alphabet: we salute you.
For those who smile at strangers: we salute you.
For those who know how to end blog posts: we salute you.


Today I bought a VHS tape for ten cents. A VHS tape that most likely cost $19.99 when it was new. The movie? Top Gun. I first saw it in 1986, then several hundred more times in consequent years. Once, I saw it at the IMAX theatre. Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis’s sloppy kiss spit stretched metres long and we all shrank back against our seats in horror.

Yesterday I was thinking about Top Gun because @bigpointguy, my father-in-law, who is staying with us, found Beverly Hills Cop 3 on Netflix and put it on. I wasn’t watching, but the tinny synthesizer music reminded me of Top Gun and I had a moment where I remembered that I didn’t own my favourite teenage movie, and another moment where I felt sad about it.

Today, I was at a garage sale in our neighbourhood and I saw the VHS tape of Top Gun and I said, “Oh, I NEED THAT,” and Arlo said, “Well, you don’t really NEED it, do you? You just WANT it a lot?” I conceded his point and laughed politely with the woman whose house it was, who was chuckling at me being schooled by a nearly seven year old, but privately I was responding, “No, this is a case of need and if you argue with me about it I will write you out of the will.”

Which I don’t have, but I should, otherwise how will they know who to leave all my important VHS tapes to when I die?

Seventeen — A Special Relationship

Tonight, SA and I went out and had some beers at a pub, the River’s Reach pub here in New Westminster. We drank pints of King Heffy, an imperial Hefeweizen and while I don’t enjoy Hefeweizen as a rule, this particular iteration is extremely tasty. We sorted out a bunch of life-type stuff, saw the end of the hockey game, and then walked home in the clear, late-spring air, with stars above us and nobody else anywhere to be seen. We ended up at our house –yay!– where there was still one person awake and watching his laptop play news and videos and stuff, and then I typed this up and, I predict, will soon go to sleep.

One of these days I’ll do a good thousand-word post about the commercialization of childhood or how live prawns are so blinky, or somesuch, but not tonight.

Sixteen — That was Yesterday

Yesterday I had plans. All the plans. We had guests staying with us (hi mother and father and brother-in-law! hi!) so I made plans. Not because I don’t like my guests — I do! I like them! — but because their presence means SA has taken a week off work so the math is FIVE adults to ONE child (the other child being in school) and I decided the ONE child could make do with only FOUR adults to look after him for the day.

And apparently I was wrong because that child ate a triple chocolate muffin for lunch, washed down by chocolate milk THANKS, BEST UNCLE EVER.

So I took transit, went to Granville Island, had lunch, bought things, came home, ate dinner, and then went to book club because book club was meeting at the house two doors down from me and I couldn’t really say no, and then came home at ten and went to bed.

This morning I remembered I forgot to blog yesterday, which is hardly surprising given that I rarely do that much in a *week*. Transit AND lunch AND book club? Crazy madness.

Fifteen — Pants, the Conclusion

When we left our hero, ie: me, she had one pair of plaid clown pants she needed to return to the store, one pair of perfect pants that were stained with an oil or grease-like substance, and was enduring very hot weather that necessitated her wearing something other than jeans.

Luckily, the weather soon changed and jeans were perfectly serviceable once again. On mentioning her dilemma to first a friend and then her own mother-in-law, she was instructed to remove the grease stain with eucalyptus oil or Pine Sol, respectively. Loyal blog readers suggested other things: Ricki’s Miracle Pants (an ’80s cover band name if I ever heard one) and Old Navy’s jersey knit fold-over skirt, as well as maxi dresses and a store called Mark’s.

She tried the Pine Sol. It sort of worked, but would need repeat application to really be effective.

She thought about Ricki’s and Mark’s. She thought about Ricki and Mark eloping, a la Brenda and Eddie. She got distracted by nostalgia and piano solos in her head.

On Monday morning the weather turned warm again so she took her plaid clown pants and went to Metrotown, the Mall with the Most, to return the pants and look for the jersey skirt at Old Navy. Having looked at the jersey skirt at Old Navy’s website and having only found one size left for sale, she knew it might be difficult. She felt rested and up to the challenge.

First, returning the clown pants. The blonde lady in the store frowned and asked if she needed a different size. Our hero refrained from explaining that the sizing in the store was so messed up, so CHRONICALLY BUGGERED, that there was no way she would ever even try pants in that establishment again, let alone that day.

Second, a trip to the Gap to laugh at the horizontally striped maxi dresses that cost $60.

Third, Old Navy, where our hero scoured the store for forty-five minutes, a full thirty-five longer than she usually spent at Old Navy. She found small jersey dresses, large floral dresses, a pair of linen pants, t-shirts priced at $8 apiece. She tried them all. They all sucked. She dug through the clearance racks and started to go mildly insane listening to the vaguely dance-like pop music, but she did not find the jersey skirt. Resigned to failure, she was making small talk with the fitting room attendant when she spied it, in the attendant’s hand. A black, a-line, jersey skirt.

“That..skirt,” our hero blustered, pointing like a fool at the piece of fabric on the hanger.
“Oh?” said the attendant, who was short of stature but wise of nature. “This? It’s a maternity skirt.”
“That’s exactly what I want,” said our hero, nodding, flushing with excitement. “That’s THE SKIRT I want.”
“Well come with me and I will show you where I got it,” said the attendant. “It comes in two colours. It’s very comfortable..”

Lo. Behold. In the maternity section, the only section where our hero hadn’t looked, was a rack of perfect skirts, in sizes small to XXL, in grey and black. She bought two, in size medium because she is not pregnant, merely a fan of comfortable, fold-over waistbands and the quiet swish of a skirt in warm weather.

Have the mighty fallen, or have we won? I think you know the answer.

Fourteen — Run Club

Back in May I did my first ever race, a 5K fun run. It was fun! It was also on a Saturday morning at 8:30, so the kids and SA dropped me off at the start and then played for a while in the park and then met me at the finish line. Arlo made me a sign that said “YOU CAN DO THIS!” on one side and “RUN! RUN! RUN! GO! GO! GO!” on the other. When I finished the race (ten minutes faster than I predicted! toot toot! [that’s my horn]) Arlo saw some other kids who had just run the race with their parents.

“Hey, so kids can run?” he said.
“Yup,” I said.
“Next year I’M running this race,” he said firmly.

I forgot about it until yesterday when he asked if I was going for a run this weekend.
“Tomorrow,” I said, “maybe..”
“Can I come with you?” he asked.

My first thought was no, because running is my solitary activity and with him I won’t be able to get in a good workout, and many other excuses. My second, less selfish thought was hell yes. I have been wanting to spend more one-on-one time with him since, let’s see, Eli was born five years ago? Promises to go for a coffee date always get put off, and if we do go, then he wants me to buy him things because Eli always gets muffins while Arlo is at school, and then I end up resenting the time instead of enjoying it. And one-on-one time with your resentful mother who won’t buy you another muffin because you hated your first muffin is not what they call Quality.

What a better idea: one morning a week we can go outside where there are no muffins and walk/run/trudge/train.

This morning after breakfast we put on our shorts and t-shirts and running shoes. We jogged along slowly until he couldn’t any more, which was two minutes, so we ran two minutes and walked three and did that six times. Along the way we talked about running and muscles and other stuff and nothing at all. It was a most peaceful forty-five minutes. I felt just as good as I do after a solo run.

I like liking my kid. It feels good, and he is more relaxed and happy too when we spend time together. It’s like when I used to put my naked baby on my bare chest and our heartbeats would synchronize.

I knew there was a reason I wanted that one-on-one time.

Which reminds me to recommend: this post at the Rumpus. Funny and touching and true and relevant. What more could you want?