tripping the life unbalanced

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

sound the alarms

Oh sweet sweet television gods. You have brought me to a new low with this new PVR Terminal you made me install. You made me do it. Like your American brother TIVO, you give us Canadians even more control over the television content we overindulge in. Good LORD you mean I can watch The Sopranos while recording America's Next Top Model at the same time??? You mean I can skip past every commercial, never to be bothered by them again? You mean I can pay an evil media conglomerate even MORE money?

Call the the police if you don't hear from me for awhile. I'll be in the one still in my pajamas after 5 days staring at the screen, chips all over my shirt, muttering something about "but there's probably something else I could watch, just wait...."

Please help.

Monday, March 27, 2006

in lieu of a real post

Am. Not. Motivated. Today.

The sun was shining, the weather was finally getting warmer here in the T.Dot, and the last thing I wanted to do is write a long and involved blog entry. I mean, I want to, 'cause I do have a lot to say, but I don't want to actually take the time to write it out coherently.

So instead I will enthrall you with notes on some of my favourite things these days:

1) Big Love, another fine series from south of the border. I thought I would get a break from HBO overload since Six Feet Under is dead and buried (sniff), but alas it is not to be. Oh HBO, why must you torture me so with yet another addictive tv series? Don't you know I have friends I should call and books I should read and walls I should stare at? And a series with polygamy AND Chloe Sevigny? You know how to charm a girl, you really do.

2) I only discovered Jenny Lewis recently, but she's become my new favourite best friend. Her song "You Are What You Love" has me smiling and jumping all over the place. She was recently in town for a show and like the asshole that I am I missed it. Sigh. If you don't yet know who she is, you should find out asap. You won't regret it.

3) This last one has snuck up on me. I didn't know about it until four days ago and now I think about it all. day. long. It's chocolate my daughter's daycare is making me push to unsuspecting family and friends for a fundraiser. I believe the point is to sell it to other people, but in our household that just means "bring home a giant box o' chocolate for mommy." Seriously. I started out with just one mint bar and suddenly I'm about 5 bars in the hole. This is our first experience with fundraising-through-sales and I gotta say it's a bit weird. I understand that it's a business model that works and brings good money for the daycare, but I have never really understood why making kids act as sales people is a good idea. That being said, the chocolate itself is pretty damn good. Or, at least, as the only available sweet thing in the cupboard right now, it's pretty damn good.

Ok, that's all I got. More thoughtful entry another day.

(PS: when I did a spell check on this entry, Blogger couldn't deal with the word "asshole" and suggested "Ashley" instead. So awesome.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

overheard last night

Matt: Good job going pee by yourself, Alice!

Alice: thanks

Matt: You're such a smart girl

Alice: yep

Matt: You're also pretty funny, you know that?

Alice: uh huh

Matt: You're such a silly billy

Alice: oh settle down

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

#37. Prep

Number #37 on the 50 book challenge list was Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. And let me tell those of you who dig the "comfort food" of addictive mainstream chick lit but prefer books with a bit more substance, this book delivers the goods. Unlike Goodnight Nobody (which I admitted in my previous entry was a guilty pleasure), this book goes far beyond the surface stereotypes of girls and women. It centres around Lee - a scholarship student at a prestigious boarding school. Sittenfeld manages to capture that oh-so-slippery emotional stability of teenaged girls - the strange world between feeling like an outsider and a member of the crowd at the same time. As a reader at times you loathe her constant insecurities and posturing, and at other times you want to assure her that the world outside of high school is much bigger and can get better.

I felt submerged in Lee's world the entire time I was reading it, and I was sad to see it end. Always the sign of a favorite book for me - feeling pissed when it's over.

Most definitely recommended.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Queen of Fire

My parents graciously agreed to look after Alice on Saturday night, and Matt and I got the hell out of Dodge. We had been planning a night away for awhile now, and we really needed the break. Those of you who knew us when will know that road trips and unknown destinations are Matt and my specialties. It's also how we first fell for each other (awwwwww) - over a long summer road trip from BC to Ontario, via the US. But that's a story for another day.

We got a cottage for the night in this place and had such a great time we forgot we were parents. Seriously - giggling like teenagers over the strange folks who hosted us and listening to local FM radio as we drove north did wonders for our marriage. We're not really extravagant people, Matt and I, and a crappy old Honda with no antenna nor a working driver's seat window can actually provide hours of entertainment for us.

The resort was pretty much closed as it was off-season, so we had the place to ourselves. It looks kind of ominous here, but it was entirely remote and just what we needed:

The cottage itself was small but perfect. And contained enough ugly but beautiful trimmings. What is it about tacky furniture that makes the whole cottage experience so much better? Seriously, are those lamp/night table combo thingys strictly produced for lazy summers at the lake?

We spent a good part of our evening having a fire contest, seeing who could build the best fire. Matt was convinced that he was naturally the better fire builder, as he is the carpenter in the family and the all-around handyman. But he forgets that given a challenge, the Type A in me will rise to the occasion. I am actually quite good at building a fire, and am one of those annoying people who continually fiddle with the fire until they are convinced it gives the best flame.

So I won the contest. Behold my fire!

Even though Matt hated to concede, in the end he had to admit that my fire won the contest. And that, my friends, is true love, 'cause the dude is all about his skills and abilities when it comes to fires, renovation, and basic household repairs. And usually he is the one who naturally excels at that kind of stuff, while I happily stand in the background.

We spent the time there reading, resting, catching up, and eating copious amounts of local cheese. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

#17 Goodnight Nobody

Hmmmm...Does anybody else think it's odd that I am posting about reigning mainstream chick lit author Jennifer Weiner's Goodnight Nobody just after my hate-on for Envy?? Well yes of course I did it on purpose. Because frankly, the character from this book is the female version of Will in Envy. One dimensional. Stereotypical. Bored suburban mom plays detective! Oh my what will she learn about herself in the process??

But you know what? This book, I can read all the way through. This book I can apparently stay up until 2AM to finish. This book I can jump on as soon as I get it out of the library, ahead of more literary picks. This book was like a comfort food amidst the stack of boring reads I just couldn't finish after the first 20 pages.

This book outs me as not-so-much-a-book-snob as I would like to believe.

#9 Envy

Envy by Kathryn Harrison reminded me of how I felt when I watched the film American Beauty. Bored. And angry that I had to listen to yet another middle-aged suburban man bemoan his existence and lackluster life. Everyone else I knew loved that movie - even raved about it. But me? I sat in the theatre with my fists clenched and my foot tapping. It just seems that the world of literature and film is cluttered with badly drawn portraits of the middle aged man and his depressed state. This book features yet another one - and I have to admit that I couldn't have cared less about his failures, insecurities, or hollowness.

I'm not saying that this theme isn't important or can't be examined at all. I just think it can done better (thinking of Philip Roth's American Pastoral here), and with a character that doesn't make me want to scratch my eyes out.

Envy just made me bored and long for it to be over. Quickly and painlessly - which was apparently impossible according to its author.

50 Ways To Lose Your Momentum

Yes I know.

I am sorely behind in updating on my 50 book challenge for this year. I've been reading, just not updating. I have also run up against a familiar problem for me: jump into a project head first, go overboard at the beginning, and lose momentum somewhere along the way. It's not that I am losing interest in reading itself - it's that I am losing interest in some of the books I have chosen to read. I'll read about 20 pages of a book, and if I'm not head over heels about it by that point, I'll find any excuse not to finish it. And then I'll feel resentful about having to finish that particular book. Ummm Kate? You do know this is your project, right? This is your list, with your own choices on it right? No one is making me read these books but me.

But I do feel a certain obligation to complete these books, if only to try and overcome my regular procrastination pattern. The bar was set pretty high with Can't Stop Won't Stop, and that's a bit unfair to the other books who maybe need a little time to come out in their awesomeness a little more.

So what have I been doing with the books that don't strike my fancy right away? Returning them to the library, promising myself that I will tackle them later in the year. Great. I can just see where this is heading: August with a ton of books on vacation that I detest. I think I might have to rethink the list a bit. 'Cause I'm the boss of this project, right internet?

Without further ado, let the updates begin. I will follow this post with the updates of the books I have read so far. 'Cause I know you are waiting on the edge of your seats. 'Cause I know how much my reading matters to people. (ummmmm....yah..feel free to skip the next few posts if you're not really into this)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

adios innocence

Alice had her 3rd year doctor's appointment last week, and boy oh boy was it fun! Needles and crying! Betrayal by doctor! Screaming all the way home! Are you feeling excited yet?

It started off fine. Pretty run-of-mill stuff: how is she eating? how is she sleeping? Oh my god she's so tall. She'll tower over all her boyfriends hah hah hah. Normal side-splitting notes from my GP. We also talked about our basic parenting strategies (uh stratewhat? You mean things like making sure she is alive?) and the doctor was asking us how we deal with things like discipline. We assured her we had the all under control (read: learning as we went) and went on to tell her that one of the things we try to do with Alice is be honest with her. And this is true - we do try to tell her what's coming up next in her immediate day - even if it's icky stuff like getting a needle at the doctor's (pay attention people - this part's going to matter in a second). I was one of those kids who totally internalized a fear of doctors and dentists and needles to the point that I still carry the phobias with me. I wanted to do my best to at least prepare Alice - hey, ya know, you're going to have to get a needle. And you know what? It's probably going to hurt. But then it will be over.

So I thought the doctor heard me as I said all those things. But I guess she didn't, because before I could speak with Alice about the needle she had shoved it in her arm. And you will think I exaggerate, but I don't. It all happened so quickly. One moment we were sitting there with Alice on Matt's lap and the doctor was nodding along to our pontifications about parenting styles, and the next minute she's doing something I said we would LIKE TO TELL ALICE about first.

You can guess what happened. Alice's face fell, her eyes welled with tears, and she shot a big stink eye at the doctor. She couldn't believe she had been so intentionally hurt by all of us in the room - with no warning. I was so shocked. We both were. And then it wasn't until later in the car that I was like "did she not hear what I was saying?" (note to self: getting mad at the doctor and making rude gestures in the car after the fact does no good to anyone, especially an irratated spouse and a screaming 3 year old).

I don't profess to subscribe to one particular parenting strategy, but I do think it's a shame when adults feel we must pull the wool over kids' eyes in order to help them deal with unpleasant but necessary things. I think it does them a greater disservice by pretending that things like needles and dentists don't exist.

Off my soapbox for now.

Bandwagon, Kate. Kate, bandwagon.

Seeing as everyone else is doing it these days (ok, maybe just two of you), I've decided to try a new look around here. I've been meaning to for awhile (I swear I'm not that much of a copycat!), and spent too much time last night online looking for a new template. After ending up in the netherworld of fanatical blog skinners (and believe me, there are some pure crazies out there who love their cute little kitty images a little too much), I ended up with a boring 'ole Blogger one. But it's a change nonetheless, which is a good thing.

I've got tons to talk about, so get ready for a shitstorm of updates.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

what being three looks like


My daughter. Unabashedly dancing at her birthday party this past weekend. Shaking her booty with not a care in the world, nor a thought towards who might be watching. We should all be so lucky. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

competing for mommy points

This past Saturday I got a mention in Rebecca Eckler's new column in the Globe and Mail. She gave me a very nice shout-out for a recent post of mine. My first reaction was a stunned "oh wow!" which quickly led to "oh crap what the hell does it say about me and who will be reading it?" to to finally "ummm...really? A whole column about competitive parenting???"

Don't get me wrong - I can appreciate a shout-out with the best of them. I'm not as nonchalant about these things as I would like to believe. I was flattered to know my blog was being read by more people than just friends and family (I mean really, you do know this is a public website, right Kate?)

But a whole column dedicated to "competitive parenting?" Please no. I take issue with the term itself and with the act of reducing blogging parents to another playground war. As Scarbie Doll recently pointed out, we are already inundated with enough competition to make for a lifetime of therapist hours. Can we not please move beyond this? So much of parenting is already up for judgement and analysis: breast vs bottle, cosleeping vs crib, working outside the home vs staying at home. Can we maybe get a break around here? I'm already a bit overflowing with anxiety issues, thanks very much. I don't know if I will be up for the challenge of blogging for mommy points.

To be fair, Eckler does point out the fact that "reading mommy blogs is free therapy" (agree). And she has started her own blog. I am a little disturbed by the amount of hate comments she has already received. Whatever people - it's her blog. She's allowed to express what she wants. Disagreement - I'm all for that. But dissing her because she makes a spelling mistake? Is this what "competitive parenting" reduces us to?

All in all, I think a whole column dedicated to making parents feel more inadequate is problematic on so many levels. Aren't there other things we could be talking or reading about?

That's my two cents and I am sticking to it. Ho hum.

Monday, March 06, 2006

stalling, stalling

To Do:

I need to write a post about the mention I got in this column.

I need to write a post about the fact that Alice turned THREE this past Sunday.

I need to do take care of a myriad of household chores and basic life organizational crap.

But these things take time and effort - luxuries my friends, I am sadly lacking tonight.

Instead, I will leave you with this which is currently my source of all things giggly today. Real updates to come soon, I promise. Until then, pour yourself a cup of crazy, and get cozy with Natalie Portman.