I admit it, I’m a board game fanatic. Luckily I have a great group of friends who also love playing board games and we get together 1-2 nights a month to play. I own a lot of games myself, and though there is some duplication in collections (Many of us own Settlers of Catan for ourselves, along with Dominion and Carcassonne) I’d say that between all of us we have at least 500 unique games / add ons to games / variants of games. That’s a LOT of choices – though some get played very rarely (I’m looking at you Risk and Axis and Allies). Board games are my favourite choice for a night out with friends since it’s social without being in a loud restaurant or at a movie and I don’t have to have pre-read a book like at book club. [Read more…]
Science really does Rock!
As a kid, one of my favourite places to go in Toronto was the Ontario Science Centre. Between the bouncy bridge, the electrostatic ball that made my hair stand up (mine went straight up and out to both sides), making paper, and the machine that said “coffee” in different pitches, it was a great place to spend a day. I went with school, with my parents, and with Girl Guides – usually at least a couple of times every year. Then when I was a teenager, I didn’t go as often – and when I did go I was helping out with younger cousins or my Brownie unit. As an adult, my experience with the Science Centre has been as a leader with Girl Guides (which includes 2 “Sleepovers” with my Brownie unit which mainly consisted of me chasing down 7 year olds who didn’t want to sleep at 3 am and trying / failing to convince them to go back to their sleeping bags) and taking my friends’ kids around the exhibits. While I won’t do another sleepover soon (my Pathfinders prefer to camp and are too old for the official “Sleepover at the Science Centre” program), I have quite enjoyed taking my friends’ kids to the Science Centre. The one problem I’ve had is that the while the Ontario Science Centre has a lot of exhibits that are of interest to adults, it can be hard to see them and almost impossible to interact with them when there are kids around. I mean I’m not going to push a little kid out of the way so that I can play with a fun exhibit – that’s a jerk move if ever there was one. Besides, it’s hard to enjoy the exhibit when you’re also watching to make sure that little Janey doesn’t disappear again or that little Johnny isn’t punching the kid behind him in line. [Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to out in public]
All of this is why, whenI heard about ScienceRocks! at the Ontario Science Centre I knew I had to go check it out. ScienceRocks! is a chance for adults (19 + as there is alcohol available for sale) to explore the amazing Science of Rock and Roll exhibit without any children present. I got a couple of girlfriends together and we met up at the Science Centre not sure what to expect but hoping for a fun girls night out at the very least. We were clearly not the only ones with this idea, and a number of couples seemed to have chosen the event as a great place for date night. If you have only been to the Science Centre with kids in tow, you need to come and see it after dark. There is something about walking through the Science Centre sipping on a gin and tonic that makes you feel like a rebel.
There were so many things to do that I stayed for the whole event (which runs from 7pm-midnight). I didn’t get a chance to see the IMAX movie about the Rolling Stones (but am aiming for it this time). I did, get a rock and roll makeover courtesy of The Beauty Team. It was amazing. I sat in the audience and listened to League of Rock do a few numbers (though if you’re more ambitious than I am, you can actually play with them). I watched and participated in a presentation on neuroscience and music where we had to clap out different rhythms at different tempos. I ate some of the Fleetwood Mac n’ Cheese (topped with pulled pork – it was amazing). Then, after taking in all of the various attractions, I headed into the main exhibit. The Science of Rock and Roll exhibit has something for everyone! I loved the history exhibits with artifacts from different decades in rock history. The reactables were a lot of fun to play with and distort all the music and see what effect changing the balance or the instrumentation has on a piece of music. The hands on demo with the different instruments that make up a typical rock band was a ton of fun – I especially enjoyed the left handed bass guitar. All the adults lined up nicely to take turns and nobody felt bad about trying things out because we weren’t taking time away from a kid who wanted a turn.
All in all it was one of the most fun nights out I’ve had in a long time. Sorry you missed it? Don’t be – there is still one more ScienceRocks! Adults Only night left – Thursday September 18th! The event on the 18th features all of the fun of the earlier dates plus a ukulele choir (I have to admit, this intrigues me). There is a hands on session where you can make your own cigar box guitar to take home which looks pretty awesome. The headliners for the evening are Steve Cropper and Jonny Rosch. I’m looking forward to finding out what Johann Sebastian Joust is all about. It sounds fun.
Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door for non members and $12 in advance or $14.40 at the door for members. Parking is free.
For more information and to purchase tickets, head to the Ontario Science Centre website.
My Comfort Zone and Why I’m Jumping out of it for BlissDom Canada
On October 27th 2013, my world was turned upside down. My mum, who was my rock, passed away quite unexpectedly. I had just started teacher’s college and was looking forward to sharing the joys and sorrows of my new career with the woman who had always pushed me to try new things and follow my heart. The last year has been hard. Harder than I ever thought it would be. I am immensely thankful for the support of friends both new and old, online and offline. Were it not for them, I don’t know how I would have managed. My best friend dropped everything and drove up when my dad called her and broke the news so that I wouldn’t have to hear it on my own. A close friend from public school and high school who I’d lost touch with came to the funeral. My classmates were phenomenal – the first week back was awkward because nobody knew what to say but they understood when I rushed out of a class in tears. My online community closed ranks around me and were there when I needed to vent and checked in on me if I’d been silent too long. I found a new online community as well – those who have lost someone close to them unexpectedly. We support each other through our ups and downs and celebrate the good times and try to make the bad times as short as possible. I can’t thank these people enough.
Grief changes everything. It is as if you are looking through the word through a mist. Some days you feel the fog is lifting but other days it obscures everything. I know mum wouldn’t have wanted me to stop my life, but some days it’s just so hard to find motivation to do anything. Routines bring comfort, I was back at school a week after mum died (mostly because my program demanded it), but some things brought back too many memories. It took a couple of months before I could return to my Pathfinder unit. Guiding was something special mum and I shared and while continuing in Guiding was what I wanted to do, the first time I put on my uniform I laid on my bed and cried for 2 hours.
I spent the last year trying to get back in the rhythm of every day life. I moved home after mum died, partly to help take care of dad who had lost his partner and best fried, but partly because I needed him to support me too. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have learned to lean on each other and take life one day at a time. I think we are getting closer to a ‘new normal’. I have battled the twin demons of depression and anxiety and while I’m not cured (nor will I ever be), I am having more good days than bad. I still miss mum every day, I still catch myself thinking “I should call her” when I get news, but I’m adjusting to life without her physical presence in my life.
Given all of that, I was surprised when I found myself entertaining the idea of going to BlissDom Canada. I’m not a social butterfly. I don’t like crowds of people when I know many of them. Interestingly, put me in front of a room full of strangers and I’m golden. I had no problem appearing on radio talk shows to talk about military history, hosting a podcast about Canadian Football, or lecturing to 400 students in an undergraduate class. Once I know more than 10% of the people though, I start getting really nervous and imagining all the things that could go wrong or all the stupid things I could say. It gets bad enough that I have broken out in hives at social gatherings. So why would I want to attend a social media and blogging conference where I would know many of the people either from real life or from social media? The answer is pretty clear – because mum would want me to. Mum always encouraged me to test my boundaries, to push myself out of my comfort zone and live life as fully as possible. She would see this conference as an amazing way to meet people, learn new skills, and have some fun. So I registered.
In the week since I registered, I’ve vacillated between excitement and dread. Financially, it was a stretch to afford the conference fee, but with the discount code from the Yummy Mummy Club and the Early Bird pricing, it was doable. I’m not sure about the hotel – I think it would be really good for me to stay over at the conference so that I don’t have the temptation to jump in the car and drive home, but it’s another expense and the thought of finding roommates brings up even more anxieties – what if nobody wants to be my roommate, what if nobody likes me, what if i make a fool of myself? – so I’m still debating that. I’m reading the posts in the Facebook groups, following the tweets, and reading the newsletters and website obsessively. I’m beginning to swing more towards excitement than dread but I’m still more nervous about this than anything I’ve done in recent memory.
The people I know who are going to BlissDom Canada are awesome. They are telling me how much fun I will have and how nobody will care if i need to escape out of the room for a few minutes to calm myself down. They tell me not to worry about what I wear but, of course, I do. I was never one of the cool kids. I was never what you would call fashionable. Clothes are something to be worn so that you don’t go around naked. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn heels. So I worry that I won’t fit in. I worry that I won’t know what to wear for the parties. I worry that I will be over dressed or under dressed or dressed in the wrong clothes. I worry that people won’t like me. I worry that people will decide I’m nowhere near as interesting as I appear to be online (which is pretty sad since I’m not all that interesting online!) and not want to talk to me. I worry that since I took the last year off from blogging (mostly because the thought of one more thing to do overwhelmed me – there are at least 15 posts that I started and never finished), I’m too out of the loop to be at a blogging conference. I worry I won’t have anything in common with the people I thought I knew.
Despite all of this, I’m still going. I have watched the tweets and posts from previous years with a twinge of envy. This year I won’t be reading the tweets and posts from home but from the conference itself. I’m not sure what to expect, I’m not sure I can get through it without a panic attack, but I am sure of one thing: Mum would have wanted me to go. So if you see me at BlissDom Canada with a look of terror in my eyes, come say hi. It’s not you, it’s me.
I love heading to the cottage. Not the drive but just the act of actively getting away from it all. It’s not that I don’t love life in Kitchener but I feel more relaxed at the lake. I’m generally doing as many (if not more) things up there than I am in the city but I can drop any of them and go for a swim if i feel like it. Now that’s freedom. I generally get chewed by the mosquitoes (and if I’m really unlucky, the deer flies), but other than that I enjoy hanging out with the local wildlife – the chipmunks, minnows, and even Snappy – the 60+ year old snapping turtle who teaches people not to leave fish on the dock by eating them.
My grandfather built the cottage 50 years ago this year. A lot has happened there. I have spent time almost every year of my life at my beloved cottage. Yet, times change. Mum’s growing mobility issues will soon force us to sell the cottage and find a more level lot. I will be sad to say goodbye to the cottage but also happy to have one that the whole family can enjoy.
Some recent news articles have made me think about my status as an only child. My mum, asked me a few months ago whether I felt left out because I was an only child. I didn’t then and I don’t now. I loved being an only child. I’m sure I would have loved siblings too but being an only gave me advantages I wouldn’t have otherwise had. That’s not to say that I was spoiled. My parents took great care to avoid that. For starters I had a bunch of cousins within a 10 minute drive from my house who were over a lot and tortured me like siblings. They took my stuff and roughhoused and generally had a good time.
I was also involved in Guiding, hockey, and swimming lessons plus occasionally other things like a little chefs course. I was well socialized and I’m not sure that I could have done all those things if there was a sibling in the mix.
I wasn’t lonely. I was the type of kid who was happiest reading a book, and in books I found all sorts of wonderful people and stories. I also had a lot of friends who I could go and call on and play with after school or on weekends. Yes… go out and play – around the corner or, when i got a little older, down the block and through the walkway. I played with my friends, got annoyed by their siblings and returned to my cozy home.
I am both my father’s daughter and my mother’s daughter. Mum and I would sit and do crafts and she would patiently teach me how to knit day after day when I forgot. Would we have had all that 1 on 1 time if I had siblings? Dad treated me like one of the boys – I got to watch sports with him. Hockey, Auto racing, and football. Dad loves football and as he put it, they were pretty sure they were only going to have 1 kid, there was 1 tv, mum tolerated football but didn’t love it and he wanted to make sure the vote would be 2 vs 1 FOR football. Hence my beginnings as a football junkie. I wonder if I had had a brother, if my dad would have spent as much time explaining all the nuances of football to me? I’d like to think so but I’m not sure.
I know i missed out on things by not having a sibling. Mum’s big worry is that I won’t have family to support me when they die. I told her that I have friends and that just because people are related by blood doesn’t necessarily mean that they can stand each other. I feel loved and supported by the friends I have made and that is enough for me.
I wouldn’t have minded to have had someone else to blame things on either, come to think of it. When there was trouble in the house or something got broken, it was almost always my fault and I took the blame. If I’d had a younger sibling, I could have blamed them. There’s only so much you can blame on a dog.
Overall I feel like I had a well-rounded, happy childhood. I don’t think that I missed anything huge by not having biological siblings, I have a few friends who are as close to me as they are to their biological siblings if not closer.
I know quite a few only children, and none of us feel like we were deprived in any way of part of our childhood. I’ve had friends worry that they don’t have a sibling for their child yet. Relax, I tell them, even if you don’t ever end up with another kid, your firstborn won’t be horribly scarred. I may not get the mushy “sister” cards, but that’s ok with me.