Archives for category: Things I love

Last night, I made a dinner that I was really proud to serve. I don’t consider myself a cook of any great skill, but every so often I impress myself. So, with a bit of help from Jamie Oliver, a tip from the staff at Culina Muttart and a random recipe I found on the internet, I produced this:

Seared scallops with a maple chili glaze served over blanched asparagus and a spinach/mushroom/wine sausage risotto.

Pretty good, right?

Advertisements

I try to be a good mum. I think I’m possibly above average in the mothering department, but I’m not an extraordinary mum. I try to make sure they eat well, get enough sleep and stay active. I listen to their stories, try to answer all their questions, read to them, kiss them and tell them I love them.

But by far, the very best thing I have ever done for my kids is choose a great man to be their dad.

From the first moment we suspected I was pregnant, he has risen to the challenge and embraced the role with gleeful delight – nothing brings him quite as much joy, makes him laugh quite as hard as those two boys of ours.

But it’s not just that he loves being a dad, it’s that he’s exceptionally good at it.  He doesn’t just play the role of secondary parent or only do the “fun” parenting – he is wholly involved in their lives. He considers their well being in every decision. He knows how each kid prefers their eggs prepared, he knows which t-shirt is the favourite and which flavour of toothpaste is verboten. He knows the names of our older son’s classmates and how to get our younger son to eat broccoli. He volunteers for fieldtrips, leaves work early for school performances and holds wrestling matches in the family room. He’s the one they call for when a nightmare wakes them up at night.

There was a time when I wished I had a daughter, but the more I thought about it, the happier I am that we have two boys. I think the world needs more amazing fathers and I’m hopeful that my boys will learn from the best. I hope my boys grow up to be the kind of man, the kind of father that my husband is. I hope my kids are equally amazing to their kids one day.

Happy Father’s Day.

Everyone is busy.

I’m no different that millions of other working mums who are trying to balance a number of different roles and trying to be good at all of them.

What makes me incredibly lucky is the support that I have. When people ask me how I balance everything, I say, “I married well.” By that I mean that I married someone who is a true partner – a husband who actually does his share (if not more) of the house and child duties. It’s an arrangement that I’ve found to be incredibly rare (which is another post for another time).

But this post isn’t about my great husband, it’s about my parents who have been really great about helping my family in small, but incredibly helpful and meaningful ways.

A sample of their recent efforts:

  • Taking both kids to their swimming lessons on the weekend
  • Taking my elder son to skiing lessons once a week
  • Shopping for and delivering pre-made meals, ready for the freezer
  • Pre-chopping fresh veggies and cubed, raw meat for easy meal prep
  • For our upcoming family vacation, they did the research and made ALL the arrangements, including taking my kids for passport photos and standing in line at Canada Place to submit the applications

We reimburse them for their purchases, so the only thing these efforts cost them is time and a bit of gas.

None of these are earth-shattering efforts, especially for two healthy, active, semi-retired people. But what they are is insightful. My parents, without me asking, have identified what would be most helpful and they do it.

It has made a world of difference for us. No more hastily thrown together junky meals served with a glass of V8 juice and a hope that it’s close to nutritious. It means my kids can participate in activities they enjoy without my time-crunch stress. It means on Saturdays we have 90 minutes of kid-free time to organize paperwork, fold laundry, tidy up, or just sit in blissful silence.

And as a bonus, my kids are building great memories with their grandparents who bring them to fun activities and feed them Doritos afterwards.

I think a lot of modern career women with families feel this pressure to do it all and be exceptional at it all. But it’s impossible – no person can live up to that kind of pressure for a sustained period of time. You need help. And when that help comes in a pitch-perfect package, accept it with the realization that getting help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you (and yours) so much stronger.

Mum and Dad, thank you.

I’ve always been flexible.

It’s not challenging for me to touch my toes. Which is perhaps why my first years practicing hatha or pre- and post-natal yoga were nice, but nothing I particularly connected with.

A few years ago, I tried my first Ashtanga class. I was surprised – it wasn’t like those gentle classes I’d been doing – it was a real workout. I got sweaty and was sore afterwards. It was hard and I loved it and I started taking more classes.

About a year ago, I showed up for a class to find I was the only student there, so I snagged myself an impromptu private lesson. I had some specific questions about things that I knew I was doing wrong, and for the next 60 minutes we went over those moves again and again until I got them.

That hour with Angie completely changed my practice.

While I’m flexible, my balance is average and my strength is laughable. All of a sudden, moves that I thought were easy thanks to my flexibility, were much harder, requiring more strength, because I was no longer cheating them. Suddenly, the whole sequence seemed to make more sense, become more challenging and at the same time more rewarding. Since then, I’ve made it a priority to fit Ashtanga (especially with Angie) into my schedule.

I’ve discovered that I love the structure of Ashtanga. It’s the same series of moves in the same order every time. It’s comforting knowing what’s coming next, and doing the same sequence every time makes it easy to see improvements – I can see that I’m getting stronger, that my balance is improving and that I’m getting more flexible.

I even love the chanting at the beginning and end of every class. Me – the skeptical non-believer, who shuns anything metaphysical or mystical! But hey, you want me to recite a Sanskrit chant about a sage with a thousand radiant white heads holding a conch shell? I’m totally in.

But most of all, I love the feeling I have after class. I get a real sense of accomplishment when my practice advances or I can do something new – going in to full backbend, or getting into headstand without using the wall. These are things that make me proud of myself and proud of how strong my body is. That post-practice sense of calm mixed with pride and power is intoxicating.

I spend my days collaborating, negotiating and compromising with clients, suppliers, coworkers, my kids, my husband, traffic and so on. With my yoga practice, it’s just my mat and me. The feeling of accomplishment from a good practice is all mine – there’s no one else to share the credit with, I did it. Me. All by myself.

With help and guidance from Angie, of course.

I love traffic circles.

I love the constant movement of traffic. I love choosing lanes based on circumferential fractions. I love the ordered chaos and the rules of the circle. I love the mid-curve signal change. I love the game-show feel (“she’s chosen three-quarters, let’s see where she’ll end up… why it’s the zoo!”)  They just seem like a civilized way to handle an intersection. So much more… organic.

For some reason, traffic circles have fallen out of favour in current roadway design, and it’s a pity. Just outside of my new neighbourhood, there’s a massive, multi-lane, four-way stop intersection. It’s confusing, it’s huge and it’s dangerous. It’s also not quite busy enough to justify proper traffic lights outside of morning and evening rush hour. However, it would be the perfect spot for a traffic circle.

If there were a traffic circle, it wouldn’t matter who got to the line first, or whether a left turning vehicle has the right of way in the face of on-coming but slightly late-arriving traffic. Just throw them all in the circle and they can go on their merry way.  No stop and go, just go around. Much better.

I might be the only person who wishes traffic circles would make a comeback, but that might be because I’m the only one who gets excited approaching a traffic circle. It’s like an amusement park ride in the midst of my travels. And I’m all in favour of injecting just a little bit more fun into the mundane.

The fabric on my new throw cushions.