Dear Provincial Government Hacks

Oh hi. You don’t know me, but I voted for you. I gave you my vote and my trust that you would do the right thing for our community. That you would act in the best interest of my family and most importantly, my kids. Yeah, you’re not really doing that right now.

There are many aspects of government that are of vital importance – public safety, health care, infrastructure, etc. I get it – you’re busy. But just between us, one of the most important things on your agenda is (or should be) education. And right now, you’re kinda sucking on that big time.

Lets face it, you’re not very good at taking care of kids. We live in an expensive place so its pretty common that both parents need to work. When that happens, someone needs to look after the kids. Public daycares, preschools etc are super important to our society because second to the parents, these caregivers spend as much or sometimes more with our little ones. Helping them to grow, learn and shape their view of society. Right now, we are facing a shortage of excellent and affordable early childcare solutions for our kids. So that in and of itself is kinda bad.

Now, you’ve locked out our teachers, forcing a strike vote that will more than likely end up in a full blown strike ending the school year two weeks early. Yeah, that’s kinda bad too.

You don’t know my kid, but she’s 7. She’s really cute and funny and smart, but for various reasons she struggles with her reading. She is barely able to read at a Grade 1 level and needs extra care to help her so that she won’t be held back a grade.  She WANTS to go to school. She desperately WANTS to learn. So thanks, thanks for encouraging that in her when she needs it most of all. Locking out her teacher so that we can barely find a minute to catch up on her progress and possibly causing the cancelation of summer reading camp which would ensure her progress through the fallow summer months. We appreciate your support of her enthusiasm for education which as we all know with all kids lives on the edge of a sword. When you’re 7, even one bad experience can make a kid hate going to school. So thanks for that too. We really appreciate it.

I’m sorry to have taken your time up when you’re clearly busy fighting for pipelines and spending our tax money on fancy trips to “encourage trade”. But if you could see it within yourself to let our teachers go back to work so our kids can get busy learning, that would be awesome.

Love,
The Rock and Roll Mom

Hot for Teacher

The British Columbia Teacher’s Federation are on strike.  What does this mean?  I’m not totally sure.  The Union has begun rotating strikes  and in retaliation, the provincial government has locked them out.  School is still in session – for the most part – but it means that we have occasional school closure days (at least two so far) and that the teachers cannot be in the classroom outside of regular school hours.

This is a prickly issue – the teachers are looking for a pay raise, reasonable class sizes and other important things.  The cash strapped government continues to run school boards at a deficit each year further cutting back an already lean public school system.  So what next, who pays the price?  This generation of kids does.  The kids getting ready to write exams and graduate (although exams and graduation ceremonies are still on the books for now), the kids struggling with their education that need the extra care helping hand.  This issue has been dragging on forever it seems.  Just two years ago the teachers were forced to take job action for an entire school year.  That issue was resolved and the teachers came back so how could we possibly be back here again just two years later?

A very astute group of students in Surrey, BC have built a Facebook page calling for a province wide walk out of students on Wednesday to protest being caught in the middle.  Good for them for speaking up because the simple fact of the matter is that most kids are not actually applauding the school closures.  They want to be in school every day getting down to the business at hand – learning.

I wonder if the people handling the negotiations on this issue are listening.

We live in a city where childcare is a complete nightmare.  You can get it – if you’re willing to pay a lot.  If you’re not able to cough up the extra $1500 – 2000 (or more) a month to pay for daycare or a nanny, the options are marginal.  Kindergarten comes on as a great relief for many parents as we trust in the public school system to offer excellent education standards and care for our kids.  What is early childcare and education but a foundation for the future for our little ones.  Its clear that the government are not placing importance on this or are they considering the ramifications for the future.

So what do we do as parents?  Go to public hearings and try and be heard over the din of a very heated debate?  Write letters to the editor (or blogs) that no one who is handling this issue will never read?   I’m tired of government rhetoric and choices made with re-election in mind rather than the greater good.  All I know is that I don’t really want to see the Shorties caught in the middle on this one.

PS – if you like what you read here at The Rock and Roll Mom, please feel free to vote for this blog for the Top Vancouver Mom Blogger Award here: http://vancouvermom.ca/best-of/vancouver-mom-bloggers-voting-2014/

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I Am The Baker. Kookookachoo.

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It’s the annual spring carnival at Shorty #1’s school. We’re new to the school so we (this of course means I) would like to try and make a good impression by helping as much as we (I) can. So we’ve donated items for the silent auction, have volunteered for a shift in a booth and tonight made cupcakes for the bake sale.

It’s probably more accurate to say “attempted to make” as the results are somewhat lacking. I’m not 100% sure where it all went wrong. Was it because I hoped to make the cupcake baking an activity by enlisting the Shorties to help? Was it because we began the whole process at 7pm on a school night when J was out at a late business meeting so I was flying solo in the parenting department? Was it because I let les petites sample the chocolate before we started? Or was it because I tried to get fancy and try something new?

Ah yes, I created the perfect storm.

It all started ok. The batter was mixing nicely. #1 in charge if the cupcake cups going into the tray, #2 at the controls of the stand mixer. Everyone suitably satisfied with their role. But soon enough it was time to spoon the batter into the cups. #1 – the sole beneficiary of said bake sale in the household was taking the responsibility of ladling the batter. I was preoccupied with #1’s progress and completely missed #2 with the beater from the mixer in her mouth. When, I took it away she was clearly pissed. Cries of “No fair” rang out across the kitchen.

Finally the cupcakes made it into the oven. And this my friends is where the real folly took place. Personally I blame Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson and all those other Food Network domestic goddess-types that get all fancy with things like cupcakes and make non-baking, non-culinarily inclined types like me feel pressured to try something fancy. Oh yes! Why not create a hybrid of two recipes – roasted marshmallows instead of icing! A revelation!!! These revolutionary cupcakes would be easy, charming and the hit. Until we actually tried to execute on my brilliant plan for bake sale domination.

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Now we are left with 18 (okay 17 – we HAD to try one) crappy looking hockey pucks of melted goo and drippy butterscotch sauce (the latter a last minute attempt at a save) and nothing remotely presentable for human consumption least of all to sell to strangers! Shorty #2’s reaction was to wipe out her mouth with a paper towel after she tried hers. Me – I’m battling a little nausea.

I think I need to accept my inner undomestic self. Baking is not my thing, least of all with 2 Shorties assisting. Next time I’ll know better and offer to do the selling instead of the baking. Or will I????

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane

The Empty Gate.

The Empty Gate.

What is it with people when they travel.  Its like a switch goes off the minute they hit the security line-up.  They freak out and lose all sense of decorum and civility.  The guy who just rationally stood behind me in the Starbucks line-up is now at security pushing me through.  As I unpack every liquid, gel, electronic, shoe, jacket, sweater, piece of metal on my person – he’s filling the bins before I can finish.  Its no different all the way until we’re out of baggage claim on the other side.  What is it about air travel that causes people to completely lose their manners?

Maybe I’m a little grumpy but as I am just waking up with my first coffee following a completely packed red-eye on a 777, I think I have identified some of the main characters you encounter on when flying these days.  Here’s who to look out for:

1. The Premature Boarder – This is the lady who has camped out at the door to the gate in the hopes of being first on the plane.  Does she think there is a prize for being the first?  Like a nice chocolate waiting at her seat?  A bravo from the flight attendant perhaps?  Complimentary upgrade?  Um, no.  The Premature Boarder is flying economy, has no airline status, is not flying with small children nor is handicapped.  The Premature Boarder seems to be deluded into thinking that where you position yourself at the boarding gate matters.  First off – get out of the way.  Secondly, you are checked in and at the gate – the plane is NOT going to leave without you.  Find some patience and relax.

2. The Overpacker – Ok.  This Overpacker is not to be confused with my overpacking tendency.  This is not the person checking several large pieces.  This is the person with the oversized rollerboard, the massive duffelbag and some crazy souvenir piece of shit wrapped in bubble wrap.  The other variation on the Overpacker is the business traveller with the massive rollerboard and garment bag who refuses to pay checked bag fees and stows their luggage in the first overhead bins even though they are sitting in row 38.  Both of these people suck.  A lot.

3. The Seat-Grabber – This is the guy sitting in the row behind you that seems to forget that the seat back he insists on violently grabbing contains an actual human being that is nearly whiplashed every time he needs to check the overhead or take a pee.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

4. The Recliner – The Recliner is just a dick.  You know what I’m talking about.  They’re the ones that push the seat all the way back the minute the landing gear comes up.  Thanks pal.  I love that your seat back is now in my face and that I need to contort my 5’5″ frame just to get to my bag under your seat.  Don’t even get me started about when the meal service starts.  Put it up you idiot.

5. The Under-Seat Stower – Dude.  Don’t try and shove stuff under your own seat. It goes under the seat in front of you.  Enough said.

6. The Anxious De-Planer – This is the guy from Row 38, on his feet and in the aisle as soon as you hear that little bing when the seat belt sign goes off.  He doesn’t have a tight connection but what ever he’s up to upon arrival is way more important than whatever you’re doing.

7. The Jetway Sloth – The Jetway Sloth is usually traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  As they enter the Jetway, the apparent compulsion to GET OFF THAT PLANE ceases and they are now in no hurry at all.  Along with their friends they walk abreast and the minute you try to make a break for it and go around them they veer straight into your path oblivious to everyone else around them.  This happens several times in the span of 10 metres.

The Beloved Baggage Belt

The Beloved Baggage Belt

8. Baggage Claim Blocker – The BCB as I like to call them are often also traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  Using trolleys and carry-ons, they take up valuable real estate at the baggage belt, usually located right at the junction where the bags come out.  They pick up every bag, inspecting carefully to see if its theirs.  They don’t discriminate, even though their bag is green they check the black and navy and floral printed ones too JUST IN CASE they packed a bag they forgot.  When their bag does finally come out, it has several colourful pieces of ribbon and yarn tied to the handle to help distinguish it in situations just as this.

Beware of these traveling characters and the havoc they wreak on your already taxing travel day.  When you do encounter them, know you are not alone in the pain of managing their abhorrent behaviour.  Keep your fingers crossed for an upgrade!

 

 

Block Rockin’ Beats

I’m blocked.  I wish I wasn’t, but clearly I am.  I love to write and when I’m inspired I can write a blog post in 10 minutes flat.  But sometimes, its like pulling teeth.  I’d rather not write crap, but lately I’ve been in a writing rut and its been really hard to sit down and type like the wind.

What do I do?  Its everyday life that inspires me for topics.  But I guess lately I’ve just been too busy and stressed to see the comedy that everyday life provides.  So now what?  How do I reignite the passion?

Maybe I’m thinking about you too much.  It was easier to write when I didn’t think anyone would read what I had written.  But now those stats loom and the number of very nice people like you that actually read this thing is going up.  It was one thing when I thought I was simply entertaining my Mom (Hi Mom!).  But now that strangers are reading this, I feel a little exposed and self-conscious.  Well, then why did I start posting a blog anyways?  Right?  Geez.  I’m like Kim Kardashian complaining about paparazzi.  C’mon lady, get over yourself.

Maybe that is the answer.  Stop Kardashian-ing.  Stop thinking about anyone else.  Keep looking for the funny in the monotony of daily life and remember why I like to write rather than trying to write what people want to read?  Well, then I’m off to go find a good fart joke to inspire me…

 

Get A Move On

Who needs toys when you have BOXES!

Who needs toys when you have BOXES!

I am sure you have been losing sleep, wondering what happened with our house.  You can tell I’ve been kinda busy with this whole moving thing that I haven’t even had a chance to post an update.  Well, the good news is that we sold our house on the first showings.  The fact that we didn’t have to clean the house for multiple showings was a Godsend and I could kiss those buyers for simply saving me from the complete nightmare it would have been to forensically clean the house one more time.  I mean, come on.

So we’re sold, we’re messy and we’re now waiting for the next horror show – the actual move.  Luckily, the purging and storing plan we were on helped a ton so we only have to pack up the remaining half of our belongings.  J has quite aptly pointed out that the Storage Pod we used could now effectively be tossed into the ocean as we have clearly not missed one thing in there.  (Well, I have missed my red jeans.  Those are in there and I wanted to wear them the other day.)  Don’t worry, we won’t actually throw it in the ocean, we’ll just pile it all into the new basement and look at it the next time we move.

All this aside, the nightmare of packing is still upon us.  It absolutely amazes me how many boxes it takes to pack it all up.  Linens and pantry items, clothing and dishes.  Its a lot of stuff that we need to live everyday (ok almost everyday) and when you start pulling it out of the closets and cupboards and putting into boxes its a crap-load.

The actual move begins a week from today.  Will we be ready?  Will everything make it to the new house relatively unscathed?  Will I make it through the process relatively unscathed?  Will our kids make it through the process and not want to kill us at the end?  Ugh.  What were we thinking.  The old house was great, wasn’t it?  Damn you society for making us want to go bigger and better!

Wish us luck.  We’ll probably need it…

 

A Free (Wo)Man in Paris

Me and J beneath Charlamagne by Shorty #1

Me and J beneath Charlamagne by Shorty #1

We went to Paris last week.  Me, J and the Shorties.  I was excited by the prospect of showing them the City of Light and for a chance to be in Paris with plenty of free time to explore. It was an adventure.

We had been warned that perhaps a European sojourn was not exactly THE holiday for a young family, but an opportunity arose and the airmiles were cashed in and we decided to take a chance, win a prize (in the words of my poetic husband).   You know what, we totally won.  It wasn’t awful, it wasn’t boring and we were not in the least bit disappointed.  But we did learn a few things along the way…

1. International Air Travel in the days of personal screens, iPads etc can actually be pretty manageable.  Just don’t expect Les Petites to like the airplane food, even if it is the children’s meal.

2. Jetlag is a nightmare.  No way around that.  So just accept that for the first few days you may be sleeping the day away, so embrace the night.

3. Sort out your local transportation.  Paris is best explored on foot, except when you’re rolling with a 2 and 7 year old.  Various transport devices for the Shorties was the only way to go.  Stroller, carrier and scooter gave us options for them to move around and still be able to walk for miles.

4. Bribery is awesome.  Nothing like a macaron at the end of a long trip to convince La Petite to carry on.

Shorty #2 enjoys a proper chocolate eclair and wonders if she's found poo inside... Tres charmant!

Shorty #2 enjoys a proper chocolate eclair and wonders if she’s found poo inside… Tres charmant!

5. Don’t expect them to be fascinated by all the incredible art and history around you.  Rather let them be fascinated by the things that they find amazing.  Case in point, we took a trip to Versailles.  Shorty #2 was fast asleep on my back (NOTE: they do NOT allow strollers in the Palace – that was an AWESOME discovery as we reached the front of the line) and #1 was walking along the tour with us.  I gave her the task of counting all the suns she could see (good on Louis XIV for picking an emblem that’s easy to spot and placing it everywhere in the palace, thanks for that dude) but by the time we reached the Hall of Mirrors she was done.  “I’m bored” followed quickly by “I’m tired”  and then followed by “Can we GOOOOOO”.  It was the moment we had been waiting for on the tour and she decided now was the time to fall to pieces.  Luckily the Hall is filled with statues in various states of undress.  The Sun count very quickly became the Weiner count.  She laughed through the whole thing counting penises on the statues and every little naked cherub in the room.  I was pretty grateful for that revelation!

So the moral of this story – be brave, go with the flow and enjoy the moment.  By embracing the simple things on our trip we were able to experience Paris and actually have a great time as a family.

The Shorties at Place des Voges

The Shorties at Place des Voges

Heartbreak Hotel

I stay in hotels a lot.  All kinds of hotels running the spectrum of number of stars.  In my opinion that makes me kind of an expert on what makes a hotel awesome (or more likely, not so awesome).  The real question is – when is anyone going to ask me my opinion?  Probably never.  But, guess what?  That’s why God invented Blogs, so people like me can blab away with their opinion, especially on the bad things hotels offer to cause the travel heartbreak.  Right?

#2 - Hotel Guest

#2 – Hotel Guest

So here goes, my top ten tips to hoteliers on what they need to do to make their hotel awesome….

1. Hooks – I hate hanging my clothes in a hotel closet.  Especially when I’m only there for like 12 hours total.  A hook or two by the door would be awesome!

2. WiFi – hotel wifi has come a long way from the days of the dreaded firewall that blocked email and other such shenanigans.  But man, why does it still cost $35 a day.  The sound of the words Free WiFi is like a choir of angels singing…

3. Counter Space in the Bathroom – What’s with this?  People travelling – especially girls – are carrying toiletries and cosmetics.  Why is counter space always an issue in a hotel?  Big sinks, fancy tissue holders, soap dishes.  I need space for my stuff so if you’re not going to give me drawers in the bathroom, then how about a little counter space.  Same applies for shelf space in the shower.

… and speaking of showers….

4. Rain Showers – I HATE these shower heads.  They are a pain in the ass especially when you’re having a non-hairwashing day.  HATE.  Its true.

5. Mini Bars – Ok, I kinda like mini-bars sometimes but lately I keep encountering an empty fridge in lieu of the stocked mini-bar.  I rarely dip in and sometimes like to self cater a little, so finding middle ground here would be awesome.  A little bottled water (still and sparkling if you don’t mind), coconut water and maybe some booze, but leave a little space for some of my own snacks.  How about that?

6. Slippers.  Barefeet in a hotel room = EUW.  Slippers = Yes please!

7. Amenities – I’m all for the boutique brands for the bathroom amenities.  Love them.  But FORGET it if they contain anything rose scented.  Seriously, the perfumey products are a bad idea.  PLUS, I haven’t met a dude yet that wants to use gardenia scented shampoo.  Keep it simple.  Clean, mild scents are a much better way to go.

8. The Hotel Car – Who gets to use it?  What’s the point?  Yes, I see your Bentley parked out front, but if the chances of me using it are nil, then get it out of my face.

9. Breakfast – Make it available.  Make it good.  Make it quick.  Doesn’t have to be free but highway robbery would be frowned upon.

10. Music – Don’t forget, I work in the music business so I appreciate the ambiance that comes with music.  However, I am not down with an elevator that could double as a disco (I’m looking at you W Hotel in Hong Kong) or walking into the room to a full frontal assault of horrible smooth jazz courtesy of the turn down service.  Neither are probably necessary, like at all.

So there it is.  I won’t charge for my consulting services on such matters.  Just upgrade me next time I’m through.

XO

Um… Euw…

vectorstock_102612I was at the check out at Whole Foods last night unpacking the cart.  I could feel eyes on me from all sides.  Most notably from the new mom ahead of  me in the line.  She was peeking over the downy head of her little one, nestled in his carrier.  She wore the look of terror when and quickly moved her had to the top of her son’s head.  I was unpacking piles of Lice Off.  Oh yes!  This is the equivalent of the Mom Walk of Shame.

Poor #1.  She started skating lessons through school, which she loves.  We sent her in with a bike helmet to wear on the ice but unbeknownst to us – this was not okay and they made her wear one of the arena issued hockey helmets which was clearly home to some… critters.

We have dodged the lice bullet a bunch of times.  Any time we received the notice home that lice was in the classroom we mobilized the troops into a diligent routine of hair combing, spraying, braiding and googling for anything new that might repel the little buggers.  But not this time, no – we were completely caught off guard.  So when we discovered poor Shorty itching away and the little stowaways that had set up camp in her long locks, we packed off to Whole Foods to buy as many remedies as we could get our hands on.

We’ll file this under the “Never A Dull Moment” of parenting.  We discovered Shorty’s infestation at 7pm on Sunday night.  I was just home from a 10 day trip overseas and was crazy jet-lagged.  J and I moved into hyperdrive – changing sheets, bagging stuffed toys, running pillows through the dryer, combing everyone to see who else might be subjected to this brand of horror.  Fun times.  By 10:30pm, we fell into bed scratching psychosomatically.  The good news is that so far (touch wood), poor #1 is the only victim of the dreaded louse!

Back to the Walk of Shame.  I remember being that Mom, watching another Mom unloading the goods.  Judging, worrying that I (or worse my kids) would be infested simply by proximity.  Now, I know better and will be sure to share some sympathy for my harried counterpart who is heading into the trenches of lice eradication.  Be vigilant my friends, because you too can fall prey to these tiny vermin!

For more information about Head Lice Treatment and Prevention visit Health Link BC.

 

Life on the Road

I’m writing to you today from Kowloon, overlooking Victoria Harbour with the Hong Kong skyline as the perfect backdrop.  I’ve been on the road for over a week now on an around the world tour it seems.  Started in Vancouver, stopped in London for 4 days and am now in Hong Kong before I head home in just two more sleeps!

Life on the road is a very interesting parallel universe.  You can get used to the cushy treatment and rockstar amenities.  But its certainly a little weird.  Sure, its definitely glamorous jetting into a world class city and being whisked into fantastic hotels with local hosts striving to keep you happy.  The truth is that running around this alternate reality has its downside – especially as the traveling Mom.  I hear all your eyes rolling all the way over here in Asia.  “wahhhh poor you, R&R Mom.”  I recognize that this is a very ass-y thing to say.  I GET it!!!  Believe me, I am exceedingly grateful for all these incredible chances to see this amazing world and work withs some fantastic people along the way.  But being away from the Shorties and J is gut wrenching.

Thank Steve Jobs for FaceTime.  It makes it so much easier to be able to lay eyes on my loves.  Its no substitute for cuddles but being able to see each other is a godsend no matter how long the trip.  But time zones are a killer.  Inevitably, the moment I’m free for a chat its bath/ bed/ meal time at home so my call only adds to the chaos.  Not to mention the great fun of FaceTiming with little shorties who are far more interested in how they look in the picture.  They are like miniature Paris Hilton’s only rather than preening at their own image are zooming in on their eyeballs, sharing the half-chewed pizza in their mouths or shaking their butts at the camera (well, I guess this last one Paris Hilton would do too).

And forget about actually catching up with your partner on the call.  These little narcissists hold a tight grip on the technology, monopolizing the conversation with silly noises, singing and quite often burps.  Mom & Dad are NOT getting a word in edgewise.  You’re lucky to have a quiet second to get through the necessary day to day business of the household (did you remember that today is garbage day?) let alone actually sharing an intimate moment or at the VERY least “how are you doing”.

Miss this guy!

Miss this guy!

These are hard moments.  When hearts ache to connect with the loves and it just can’t happen.  So back we go into the isolation of the dark, too cold (or too hot) hotel room to bury yourself in emails and work mode.  Whether its a 2 day trip or 2 week trip this happens and it just is what it is.

The good news is that I can start counting the hours when I’ll see those bright little faces (and a bright bigger face) at the arrivals area in the airport and can go back to the real world.  Changing diapers, wiping noses and cozy snuggles.  I would take that over a 5 star hotel any day!

... and these two too.

… and these two too.