Friday, September 28, 2007

Out of Character

Last night, I attended the first of five sessions of a class that deals with the teachings of The Secret. I joined this class for a few reasons. First of all, the class is being held within a two minute walk from my house and I like the idea of taking advantage of something local. Another reason is that I have recently read The Secret, and quite liked the message. I can't say that I bought into every aspect of it, but even if thinking positively about a million dollars does not actually cause a million dollars to land in my lap, I still believe in the power of positive thinking, and know that life would be more enjoyable if I never sat around wallowing in misery. Not that I actually wallow around in misery, but sometimes I do hover on the brink of mild depression, although not very often. I also enrolled in the class as a means of having something in common with my dad. He and I have an ok relationship, but the greatest part of his identity encompasses these teachings, and I have always told him not to bother me with this stuff. He has been practicing such methods for over 30 years, and it has always seemed quite "out there" for me. I know that my participation will please him.

Having an interest in something like this is not very typical of me. I am a practical person, and do not believe that I am "searching" for something, or that I need more fulfillment in my life. I have a very even temperament, and do not show a lot of emotion in most situations. I do laugh a lot, and I do cry sometimes, but mostly I am calm and collected. I am not a cold person, but I don't get overly excited, or react particularly passionately to all the ongoings around me. In keeping with my usual self, I went into the class with the same attitude that would take to a biology class. I don't need this information, but it couldn't hurt to know it. My first impression of the instructor and classmates was that they were flaky. I perceived them as people who are looking for life changes, and looking for new age solutions. I did not identify myself with them at all. I have to admit, although I consider myself to be a kind and tolerant person, I am prone to "lovingly" making fun of people, and that is where I was going in my head as I sat in the room, watching everyone be moved by the instructor. Don't get me wrong, I do buy into most of the message, but I'm not going to be all "Praise the Universe" about it.

In part of the discussion, the instructor talked about disease, and asserted that at the root of all illness, you will find unforgive-ness. By this she meant that holding on to negative feelings about someone will make you physically ill. I challenged this by bringing up the fact that my friend's friend's daughter just died from a brain tumour. She was only three years old. I asked how it could be at all possible that such a young child could harbour enough negative energy to make herself so ill. As with any religion that I have encountered, the reply was that it is not possible to know what her contract with the universe was. This is the same as saying, "we cannot know or understand God's methods". It is kind of a non-answer, if you ask me, but I wasn't going to push it further. The instructor, however, wanted to keep talking about it as part of her lesson on how to think about the little girl's death in a way that does not bring only sadness, but to help to celebrate her life and acknowledge the love that her family will always carry around for her. I will mention again that the little girl is my friend's friend's daughter. I barely know the friend's friend, and didn't know her daughter at all. I couldn't even tell the class what her name was, as I don't think I ever knew it. I have done my best not to think about this subject too much because as the mother of a two year old girl, I find it too horrific to fathom. I cannot think of anything worse than losing my daughter, and I don't want to make myself crazy by imagining and worrying about the possibility. I hide my head in the sand a lot when it comes to upsetting news that I am helpless to do anything about. I used to think that this made me socially irresponsible, but now I believe it is just what I need to do to function every day. The problem for me was that while the instructor continued to discuss this little girl, and ask me questions about her, I became upset. I became upset enough that I started to cry. I cried in front of absolute strangers. One girl started rubbing my back while I cried. A stranger who I perceived to be the "flakiest" of the bunch was rubbing my back, consoling me while I grieved for a family that I barely even know. The instructor tried to help me through this by suggesting how to handle death. Focusing on me made me cry even harder. I went from being the practical, I'm-not-like-the-rest-of-you, skeptic of the group to being the biggest emotional wreck. Worse than the girl who was there to get over her recently, broken heart. Worse than the two people who were there to get over deaths in their own families. The instructor tried to cheer me up by telling me that there is often crying in her classes because of the personal nature of the subject matter, and that I was just starting the group off. That is sooooo not me.

I know it is ok to cry. It just isn't something I like doing, especially publicly. I never cry around my own friends and family, and really hate the idea of doing it. I would say that my friends have only seen me cry once, relating to what seemed like a major crisis about seven years ago, which was probably the last time I cried in front of my mom too. I have always liked the shit-together reputation that I have among the people who know me, but I am starting to think that I have boxed myself into it, and it is starting to get uncomfortable.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Apple Picking

I had one of those great "mommy days" this past Friday. I took my daughter to Chudleigh's Farm for the morning in an effort to enjoy this amazing weather that we have been having. I didn't know if she would let me pick any apples, but I was hoping that the whole farm experience would be appreciated by her on some level. I knew that even if she hated it, I would still score me some of the best pumpkin pie ever, thus justifying the drive to "almost Acton". It turned out to be such a fun day that I think a repeat visit is in order. The first stop was to see the animals, which is always a hit, and helped to stop the tantrum that was forming over some other kid's stuffed toy. Pigs are cooler than stuffed toys.

Then we visited the playground area, complete with a giant slide, swings, and sandbox, where we both spent a lot of energy.

Next, we took a hay-ride to the Macintosh aisle, where we picked some of the tastiest, crunchiest apples I have ever eaten. Pumpkin even sunk her teeth into one, which is pretty much the extent of her fresh-fruit consumption in her life thus far.

Once we finished picking our apples, we carried our loot to the cash, picked up THREE mouthwatering, almost-as-good-as-sex pumpkin pies, and headed off to McDonalds for a "nutritious" meal. As you can tell, I'm not counting calories this week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Better Than Music Class

I've always been an advocate of letting children entertain themselves, and vowed years ago that when I had kids, I would not be filling each and every minute of their time with lessons and activities. That being said, I don't want Pumpkin to miss out on any cool experiences, so we tend to go to a lot of programs. Pumpkin is always singing, so how can I not put her in a music class? She loves jumping on trampolines, so how can I not buy a membership to the nearby, indoor playground where she can jump to her heart's content? She likes/needs to be able to socialize and follow routine, so how can I not put her in a pre-pre-school program where she learns these things? There are also those programs that we join because my friends ask me to. Yup, I spend a fair bit of time and money on all this stuff, and have scheduled my daughter's life in a way that I never really wanted to. Today's program was cancelled, so rather than packing her up in the car and driving to somewhere else in search of entertainment, I thought it would just be nice to take a long walk from our house down into the nearby valley, and enjoy the remains of summer. A free walk. A walk that didn't require driving anywhere. A walk with no retail component. A walk that was more entertaining to Pumpkin than all her activities combined. First there was the giggly run down the path to the valley where her legs almost got away from her. Then there was the time spent standing on the bridge, watching the water, and looking for ducks. There were several encounters with dogs, to her delight. There was what seemed like half an hour of Pumpkin picking up gravel from the path, dropping it, then dusting her hands off, while shouting, "All clean!". There were sticks to pick up, weeds to trod through, and tall weeds that I was required to tie around her waist such that she could break out of their embrace, only to have me tie them around her again. After two hours in the valley, I finally had to pick her up of the ground where she was examining rocks, stuff her in her wagon, and bribe her with juice and cookies, just so we could get home. I don't know why I join all these stupid programs when I could just be playing outside my door? The outdoors is probably so much better for her too. See if I still feel this way when the cold weather hits.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy New Year.

I really don't enjoy this time of year. For those who don't know, we are currently celebrating the Jewish New Year. Although I am Jewish, I was not raised with much of a Jewish influence, so it is all quite foreign to me. My husband's family is not religious, but they believe in maintaining the culture, which is why we endure two days in the synagogue, two meals where we eat until we feel ill, then a 24 hour fast complete with another day in the synagogue, then a breaking of the fast that usually takes place at my house at 9 pm, where we eat until we feel ill once again. If that was all there was to it, I probably wouldn't complain, but there are always the added stresses that come along with this whole ritual. The problem for me with going to our particular synagogue is that it is meaningless to me. For one thing, the service is in Hebrew, so I am essentially taking up space during most of the service. There is an English sermon, but I have missed it so many times because J won't let us leave the house early enough to actually get there in time for it. In fact, I would say that 80% of the fights we have had have been a result of him making us late for these services. He doesn't want to go, but he goes to make his parents happy. We don't ever see his parents there because the place is packed, so we could easily make his parents as happy by just telling them that we went. I'm sure this idea is sacrilege, but it's true, nonetheless. So we get there quite late, miss the only understandable part of the service, have to park at least a 15 minute walk away, only discover that we can't get a seat, despite having spent over $1000 just to get these tickets for attending the services on these specific days. Non-Jewish people usually gasp when they hear that part. I would feel so much more spiritually complete if I could give that money to ANY charity. Once we discover that we can't get seats, we wander around to all the other services in the building, trying to find a place where we can sit for an hour so we can (???) So we spend a pile of money for tickets to an event that neither of us wants to attend, and that neither of us understands, just so we can please two people who don't actually witness our attendance. I have a difficult time with this. The English sermon is probably only important to me because it is the only possible opportunity for me to justify this entire process. I might be moved.

I am in no way trying to cast disrespect upon the culture/religion. I am sure there are many who love this time of year and who eagerly adhere to the ritual of praying, feasting, praying, fasting, praying, and feasting again. I am just a little resentful of the way I am forced to participate. I am not willing to start any sort of fight within J's family over this. This is what they do, so it is what I will do. I'm still gonna complain though.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blah Blah Blah

It's a typical night in our house. Pumpkin is asleep, J is working out, and I am desperately rummaging through the pantry in hopes of finding a morsel of chocolate or something that will satisfy me enough to stop eating. I just discovered that pistachio nuts go stale, while candy sprinkles do not seem to. Definitely culinary rock-bottom over here. I didn't even make dinner. Dinner prep time was forfeited in favour of physiotherapy, which made it a good night for Chinese take-out. We managed to get out for another round of mountain biking this past week-end, and now I am suffering for it, hence the physio appointment. We used to cycle every week-end as long as there was no snow, and now one day of fairly tame riding sends my neck into spasms. The upside is that I do so enjoy when the physiotherapist attaches electrodes to my neck and turns me into a human bobble head. Don't knock it until you try it! Anyhow, no more biking or biking opportunities for a while, so I'm still glad I got out, despite my inability to lift my arm over my head right now. Yup. Worth it. I'll just keep repeating that until it becomes true.

Friday, September 07, 2007


When I saw the weather forecast for this morning, I thought that it would be a good day to hit the water park at Canada's Wonderland. At no point did it occur to me that the park would be closed due to all the staff starting grade 10 this week. Sometimes I forget that the world does not revolve around me. Sadly, I had Pumpkin all excited about going on a water slide. We went on one earlier in the season, and she just loved it. So we got to the entrance of the park, only to be denied access.

I had to somehow redirect her excitement to the splash pad near our house, 'cause that was the best I could do on short notice. Two-year-olds are great that way. I don't know if she understood when I told her that the slide was broken, but she was just as excited when we got out of the car at the familiar park, and saw the same splash pad that she has frequented all summer long. I was the only sad one - I really wanted to go on the water slide!

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Facebook seems to have arrived at new heights. Yesterday, I received a friend request through dogbook, which I guess is a application of facebook. I am now friends with a pug. Is it me, or is that just messed up? Take your dog to the park!!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Enjoying the Long Week-End

It was a pretty social, long week end for us over here in the land of homebodies. None of our friends with kids were able to get away, (friends without kids were all drunk in a provincial park somewhere), so we managed to catch up with several of them who we usually have a hard time planning things with. We even managed to have a few drinks on my BRAND SPANKIN' NEW PATIO (!!!) that was just installed last week. You'll have to excuse my excitement on the patio issue. Nothing EVER gets done around here so I'm still in a state of shock from actually having it done. Keep in mind that my husband is in construction/property management, so you'd think we'd be able to get a contractor over here a little more easily than we actually can.

In addition to all the socializing that we did, we managed to get out for a day of mountain biking! Before we were parents, we were avid mountain bikers. When J and I first started dating, we went riding a few times, but then broke up a few months into the relationship. Then we both separately befriended another man, R, who was also into biking. I was kind of interested in this other guy, but every time he invited me to go biking, he would later invite J to come along with us. Yeah, I get it - R wasn't that into me. Nonetheless, J and I found ourselves hanging out a lot every week because we both wanted to go biking with R. Biking led to apres-bike activities, which eventually led to J and I tangled up together on my living room sofa once again. I have always felt that without mountain biking, there would be no "us". I suppose we can give R some credit too. Yesterday we biked for the first time this year. We probably could have gone out sooner in the summer, but we were kept off the trails due to a combination of J's mom having major surgery, lack of motivation, and bikes needing tune-ups. We also don't have day-time babysitting on week-ends, which doesn't help. Anyhow, mom was around yesterday, so she kicked us out into the woods. It took us a little while to get our shit together (2 hours just to get our equipment organized due to some malfunction J was trying to repair), but we finally made it to the Durham Forest. We probably only rode for 1-1/2 hours total, but it felt great. Mountain biking is an activity that brings J and I closer, despite all the b/o and pudgy bits that now show through our spandex. It's almost a spiritual event, (the biking, not the spandex). As always, we finished the day-trip at McDonalds, enjoying milkshakes and wishing that we had more willpower. A good week-end overall.