nodding & smiling

ceci n'est pas un bébé lala


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Moving – Feeling All the Feels

katie grad

Okay so I suspect moving is kind of like childbirth, in that, once you’re past the hellish bits, you forget how awful the bulk of the experience was, and consider doing it again one day.

When I was young, we moved around a lot for my dad’s work. Moving houses (and provinces) halfway through grade seven, and in the summer after grade nine, and again after grade eleven was HARD.

Teenagers aren’t very nice to newcomers, especially those wearing completely different styles, and speaking with a different accent (anglo-Montrealers speak with an accent, you guys). Most kids have had their core group of friends for years, and they don’t need another friend. They don’t make it easy on the new kid, in fact, some go out of their way to make it hard for the new kid. Not because they’re mean, but because it’s a source of amusement. Maybe they’re bored. I don’t know. Anyway, I didn’t like it, and it forced me to develop a thick skin.

I decided when I was very young that when I had kids, I’d do what I could to ensure they grew up with a set of friends they could keep forever, if they wanted.

When we decided we were moving, we talked about it as a family. Alex was fine, since she’s an honorary Haligonian these days, and surprisingly, Katherine was quite happy about it. Having attended the same school from junior-kindergarten until grade five “graduation”, she seemed ready for a change, and looked forward to the prospect of making new friends.

This mom is relieved. At the same age, I’d have been kicking and screaming!


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Playing University Sports

Look at this kid! Rocky Mountains for the win!

Look at this kid! Rocky Mountains for the win!

Alex wasn’t sure she wanted to try out for a school team this year. Although sporty, doing well at school takes hard work, and Alex is mature enough to recognize that. Without knowing exactly what kind of toll being a full-time university student would take on her time, she was reluctant to add another schedule commitment.

That said, Alex loves sports. She knew that if she didn’t have sport as an outlet, a means to relieve stress and have fun, she wasn’t likely going to be very successful. So, Alex packed up her massive ringette bag and moved it across the country with her.

When she tried out for the Dalhousie ringette team, she knew right away that she was “home” and among her “people”. She made the team, one of four rookies, and now hits the ice with a smile several times a week, often at ungodly hours of the morning.

Her season culminated at the University Challenge Cup, which took place in Calgary. The team had fun and tried their best, but didn’t place. The coaches still thought they deserved a treat though, and rented a bus to drive the girls out to see the Rockies, figuring “you can’t go to Alberta and not take the trip to Lake Louise!” – those are some amazing coaches right there (Phil, Allan, I am so happy Alex has you looking out for her this year!). The team will continue to practice and scrimmage until the school year ends.

Anyway, all this to say that school teams, no matter what level you play, offer such benefits to kids. Friends, fitness, discipline, teamwork, etc. etc. – the lessons learned from sports can go on and on.

 


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Feeling Safe at University

Sexism and Rape Culture at Dal?

Sexism and Rape Culture at Dal?

When I sent my daughter across the country to attend university at Dalhousie, I did so confident about the school and faculty I was entrusting her to. My biggest fear was about the male student population, and the mob mentality at this age. I’d read horrifying headlines of college parties involving rape and young women and didn’t want my girl to experience any of it. Having done my research, I was confident that the school’s culture and values reflected my own (to a certain extent), and that the president Richard Florizone encouraged a culture of hard work, responsibility, accountability and fun.

I was as shocked and disappointed as anyone when I first learned of the Dalhousie School of Dentistry scandal, and along with the rest of the country, eagerly awaited the school’s response. Would these so-called “gentlemen” be suspended pending investigation and resolution? Would the school do the right thing and expel them? And most-importantly to me, did I send my daughter to a school that values women’s rights to feel safe at school? Is she safe at school?

Time will tell.


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FOMO

Alex has admitted many-a-time that she has FOMO (“fear of missing out”).

When she was little and went out, she’d ask, “What will you be doing, Mommy?”

I usually replied, “Going to the bank then taking a nap” (those were the two most boring things in the world to her, and I didn’t want her to think I might dare have fun without her).

She knew when she moved away for college or university, she’d have no choice but to miss out on some things. But this one hit her hard:

Two more days till you're home, honey!

Two more days till you’re home, honey!


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Stress and Homesickness

Ramen noodles. Of course!

Ramen noodles. Of course!

Alex finally started missing home this week. I say ‘finally’ only because I thought it would set in sooner, not because I wanted her to become homesick (well… maybe a little bit… KIDDING!).

I’ve put two and two together and realized that she is becoming increasingly homesick relative to the rate at which her stress-level is also increasing (exams).


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Visiting Her Town – Part 2

Would love to walk through the Halifax Public Gardens. But first, let's take a selfie!

But first let’s take a selfie!

So. Much. Eating! When you’re in a new town, it’s important to taste the local cuisine, right? Not to mention, these girls are pretty much over university meal-plan food already. We have enjoyed lots of lobster and sampled many local restaurants.

It was a great weekend all around. Loved spending the time with my girl, shopping, walking, eating, movie-watching, bus-riding, and being tourists in Alex’s new town.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Alex’s friend Megan invited her own ringette-loving mama (Nancy) for the weekend. Nancy is super-cool and had the same philosophy as me: to let the girls direct, and follow their lead. It was such a good call, because we got to see the town through their eyes, run for a bus we thought we’d miss (only to burst onto the bus in a fit of gasping laughter and probably scaring the other riders), source cute guys (for the record, anyone Nancy and I pointed out was a No), and just enjoy each others’ company in a totally relaxed, unplanned way.

I highly recommend it.

 


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Visiting Her Town – Part 1

My favourite things

My favourite things

A few weeks back, Alex texted to invite me to visit her during Dal’s November long weekend. She would have two days off school, and would be playing two ringette games. Right away, I found awesome deals on both room and flight, and replied, “Absolutely, I’d love to!” that same night.

Because Alex’s burgeoning independence has manifested in her staking her ground when I attempt to swoop in and solve, plan, or take things over, I was cautious to not try to schedule my time in “her” new town. Making this easy was the fact that I’d be arriving on my birthday – she would plan the weekend.

When I arrived, Alex presented me with a birthday gift (Mason jar filled with my favourite things in it). Then she took me to her favourite restaurant, and pulled out her debit card and treated.

The next day, I got to watch the Dalhousie Tigers play two ringette games and Alex, her friend Megan, Megan’s mom and I took a late-night walking trip around the waterfront area, finishing the night with 1am pizza and drinks. Loving this trip!


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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Alex on the Metro X express bus from downtown Halifax to the airport - I love this service.

Alex on the Metro X express bus from downtown Halifax to the airport – I love this service.

When you miss someone, being there is so much more important than getting there. That said, the “how” does factor in cost and time, important when you’ve got a child away at university.

I drove Alex up to Dalhousie when she was first starting school because she had a lot of things to bring to Halifax. The 18-hour drive was beautiful and fun, and I was happy to see so much of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We did the drive over two days, which in hindsight was a tad ambitious. Next time, we’re going to space the driving out over three days each way.

We brought Alex back for Thanksgiving on a flight because she didn’t have a lot of time off, which we’ll do again at Christmas, because we don’t want her road-tripping in slippery conditions.

If you’re certain of your child’s days off (don’t assume – I learned the hard way), check the airlines in advance for good fares. I got excited to hear about Via’s ‘Crazy Tuesday’ sales, only to be left deflated when I learned it didn’t include all their destinations. Hopefully they’ll consider the money parents spend on travel with kids away for post-secondary, but until then, the train’s a no-go for us.

Alex invited me up to see a few of her ringette games next weekend, which also happens to coincide with my birthday and an airline seat sale. WIN! Can’t wait to hang out with her in beautiful Hali and watch her and her team play the game they love.

 

 

 


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Her First Visit Home

Little sister's idea: make Big sister's homecoming a really big deal. Big sister thanks little sister by a Starbucks coffee date, just the two of them.

Little sister’s idea: make big sister’s homecoming a really big deal. Big sister thanks little sister by a Starbucks coffee date, just the two of them.

Six weeks after drop-off and I’ve made it – Alex’s first visit home.

After she enjoyed an uneventful flight with lots of learnings: online check-in, bus to airport, security, finding your gate, landing, figuring out where to meet your mom who’s driving around the Arrivals area (hint: don’t wait for her at Departures – lesson learned!), my university student got into my car and I could breathe again. Both my babies were with me.

Although we texted often while she was gone, we never Skyped nor phoned. As such, her sister and I thought Alex’s voice sounded different: more mature, more worldly-adultish.

But, once we got home, I recognized her immediately: happy, preoccupied, already making plans, and hungry. I fed her leftover cheese tortellini in rosé sauce at 9pm and she ran off to meet friends, returning around midnight. She crawled into my bed to catch up, just like she always had.

We’re still in the throes of a super-busy Thanksgiving weekend… my sister is moving, my pregnant cousin and family are travelling in from Ottawa and Montreal for her baby shower, and Alex is finding time to spend with all the people she loves: Mom, stepdad and sister, Dad & family, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Alex has showered us with gifts and love and time and soon it will all be over.

Until Christmas 🙂