Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hockey, what's hockey?

Growing up in Montreal, I was an avid hockey fan. It wasn’t really a far-fetched idea – my dad had been a hockey fan since he was a kid, and even though he had three girls, he ensured that watching hockey was part of our life.

I have a vivid memory of when I was 8 or 9 years old, asking my dad if I could stay up late after a long day of skiing just so I could watch the game. I don’t know if I actually managed to stay awake for the game, but I remember wanting to watch it.

And of course we were all Habs fans – my dad, my mom, my sisters, and my aunt, uncle and cousins too. There was no other team we’d rather cheer for and it was a big deal, let me tell you, when my youngest cousin suddenly decided that he was a Boston Bruins fan instead.

Then, in the early 1990s, we moved to Ontario, and suddenly, my two sisters became Maple Leaf fans. Our house was turned into a constant hockey battleground – albeit all in good fun – as we argued over which was the better team. But regardless of the team we cheered for, we still liked to watch hockey.

When I met Ryan, he was a Maple Leafs fan – much to my sisters’ joy – and I was, or course, still a Habs fan. For 10 years, it has been a joke between us and our families that we are fans of rival teams.

But the reality is it has become just that – a joke. Neither Ryan, nor I, watch hockey anymore. I don’t know really when that happened, but in the last few years I’ve probably only watched a handful of games. And since the lockout ended, I can probably count the number of games we’ve watched on one hand. I have no idea if the Habs are doing well this year, or if the Leafs are doing poorly this year. (Actually, I think I heard on the sportscast on 680News that both teams suck this year.) The point is I don’t care about hockey anymore. This is kind of sad, because I have such fond memories of watching, and going to, hockey games as a kid and teenager.

Our families still think we’re big hockey fans and Austin even received two pairs of shoes for his birthday this past weekend – one had the Leafs logo on them and the other had the Habs logo on them.

They’re cute, and all the other kids will think he’s cool with his Leafs shoes, but this mom thinks it would’ve been way cooler if he had shoes with the Raptors logo on them.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It figures!

All week, Austin woke up at either 7 a.m.-ish when I needed him to so we can get ready to go. Except for twice, when I had to wake him up just after 7:20 a.m.

This morning, Saturday, he decided it was time to get up at 5:50 a.m. So much for sleeping in on a Saturday.

It was kind of hard to get mad at him though...it was, afterall, his birthday today.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The end of a long first week

As the end of week one ticks to a close, all I can say is it hasn’t been too bad, but I’m sure glad it’s the weekend. Honestly, I’ve forgotten how long a week actually is.

Monday was surreal – as I said, I felt like a deer caught in headlights. The day went by painfully slow as I had nothing to do, which made me wonder what exactly I was doing here. And everyone treated me like I had just come out of a coma or something – like I needed special care and couldn’t handle more than one thought at a time.

The rest of the week got better, as I now have some projects on the go and many more meetings lined up to bring me up to speed on other things. As I’m the lead writer for most provincial publications, and my replacement quit (actually my replacement’s replacement, but we don’t need to get into that) six months ago, people are pretty happy to see me and know that I’m back. (This makes me feel pretty good, actually!)

Driving in instead of TTCing like I used to is actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I loved taking the TTC to work – the 45 minutes to myself when I could sit and read at the end of the day was exactly what I needed – but now, with the new morning routine, it makes more sense for me to drive. I could’ve done without the freak rush-hour-only snowstorm yesterday though. My 14 kilometre drive took one hour and 20 mintues!

It’s taking awhile to adjust to the new routine at home, but I’ll get the hang of it. In the mornings, Ryan heads to work super-early and then I get myself up and dressed before Austin wakes up. Once he’s up, I get him dressed and fed and, if all goes well, the two of us are out the door by 8 a.m. So far it’s gone well, so well in fact that on two of the last five days, I’ve had to wake Austin up just before 7:30 a.m.

The hardest part is now, when I pull up at Austin’s daycare house, he’s on to me. The first two mornings he was fine with the whole thing – easily going into his babysitter’s arms. On the third and fourth day, he went into her arms but squirmed around to reach back at me and started whining. This morning, he actually gripped me tighter as I walked up her steps and started to whine before I even opened the door.

I know he’s fine as soon as I drive off – in fact I know he’s fine before I even get back to the car because she opened the door this morning to show me that he had calmed down within 10 seconds – but it still makes me feel like crap and is a really crummy way to start off your day. Now I know why some mom’s here at work say they always do the drop off with their husband or their husband does it alone. It’s really hard to walk away from Austin when he’s upset, because all I want to do is pick him up and hug him.

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to the weekend as much as I’m looking forward to it today. I get to spend all day with Austin – well, I have to share him with the 22 other people showing up at my house on Saturday for his first birthday party.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Like a deer caught in headlights

After 55 weeks at home, I am now officially attempting to be a productive member of society again. But it’s going to be slow-going getting into this work thing for the first little while, and quite frankly, I feel a little like a deer caught in headlights. It’s not the culture-shock of being away from Austin and having to ‘work’ again, but it’s the not-knowing what to do with my eight hours here that’s making me feel that way.

In a few days, I’ll have some projects delegated to me, things that have been awaiting my attention or things that will be in-progress and will now be my responsibility. But for now, I don’t have anything to do. I spent the morning refreshing myself with my job by browsing through and cleaning up my materials library. And then I was given a few things to read over, with the excuse that I would have ‘fresh eyes’ on it. But really, several people have come by and said “once you get settled, we’ll chat about (FILL IN BLANK HERE).”

Problem is, until I have all these chats about what’s going on and what needs my attention…I really have nothing to do but look at the clock and count the minutes until I get to go home.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bras and Boobs Part II

It's been about a month since I went bra shopping at the expensive boutique and in that time I have been to several different stores in search of more bras. Because let's face it, I can't afford to shop at the expensive lingerie store all the time -- but a girl can't live on two bras.

So, my search started at the Bay, where I expected to find my size. That's when I discovered that my size isn't among the standard stocked in all stores -- and when I can find it, it's not always the nicest bras.

At the Bay, none of the pretty fashion bras would fit, so I was left with a slim selection of boxed bras. Not that there's anything wrong with boxed Wonderbra or whatever...but all the large boxed bras look like old lady bras. And they ALL, and I mean ALL, proudly advertise the fact that they are 'minimizer' bras that can 'gently reduce the size of your breasts by up to 1.5 inches.' Now, I know that I may have larger than average boobs, but I don't feel the need to 'minimize' them. But yet, that's the only option I have if I wanted to shop at the Bay. Admittedly, I may have had better luck at a larger Bay (I was only at Fairview Mall) but still, I was pretty frustrated. I did buy one, mainly because it was on sale, and there's nothing wrong with having that kind of bra for bumming around the house in on a Sunday afternoon. It's kind of like laundry day panties...everyone has them.

So I moved on to La Vie en Rose, because La Senza has never really worked out for me. They do carry my size in fashion and basic bras, and they actually weren't too bad. So I bought two. But I have to admit, now, a few weeks later, they're not the most comfortable bras I've ever owned. And if there's one thing I've learned, an uncomfortable bra just means you're going to be pulling at it all day long.

Where did I have the best luck? It sure wasn't at Fairview Mall. It was at Victoria's Secret in Las Vegas. All their bras seem to come in everything from 32AA to 40DD -- which works for me. I picked up a nice looking, comfortable bra for a reasonable price. The problem is, it's not that easy to buy from Victoria's Secret when you live in Toronto.

So I now own six bras...two that cost too much, two that are not very comfortable, one granny bra for lazy Sunday and one that is rather difficult to acquire more of.

But the truth is, of the bras I now own, the most comfortable one is the most expensive, one of the ones from the speciality store -- at least it was money well-spent.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just a few more days

Time is a funny thing. Our summer vacation at a cottage near North Bay feels like forever ago, but the last weeks of my pregnancy and the first few months with Austin feel like yesterday. Every time I look at Austin now, I find myself thinking "you can't be old enough to be crawling this fast (or eating this food, or learning this new thing) because you just learned how to roll over (or smile, or how to use your hands)."

But enough time has passed for him to learn and do all these things, and on Monday, I head back to work. Six days later, Austin turns one.

I'm sort of in denial about heading back to work. I'm looking forward to it, because I like my job, but I'm going to miss this. It's been a really fun year -- but that's not to say that it hasn't been frustrating at times.

Indulge me if you will, I'd like to take a trip down memory lane of my favourite times of the last year as a stay-at-home mom:

  • Starting in mid-March, I started taking Austin out for long walks. I love walking, just to pass the time, and many a days I would push him for five or six kilometres in the afternoon. In the Spring, Summer and Fall, whenever I didn't have other plans, that's how we would spend the afternoon.
  • In the fall, I signed us up for parent/child swim lessons and together we had a great time. Austin seems to love being in the pool and it was a really fun thing to do on Wednesday mornings.
  • Spending time with friends. I made a point of trying to get together with friends with kids during the day -- or making dates with friends for lunch during their workday -- mainly to keep my sanity by having a foot in the adult world.
  • The Early Years' Centre. In September, I started taking Austin to the Early Years' Centre near our house every Tuesday morning for baby play time. It gave him a chance to play with other kids and play with new toys, and me a chance to meet other moms. I met some really nice people and enjoyed my time there. Since we've been going for almost six months, it's been really interesting watching Austin develop -- toys etc. that he wasn't interested in at first are now a huge hit with him. And he loves song time, so much so, that when we were there yesterday, he crawled off my lap and into the centre of the circle where he started dancing!

Gee, with only four memories, it sounds like I didn't do much this past year -- and honestly, some days I felt like I did nothing at all. Some days, our biggest outing was to Dominion across the street.

Taking care of a baby really is a full-time job. First when he was younger, he needed almost constant attention; now that he's older, he needs almost constant supervision so that he isn't getting into something he's not supposed to (and let me tell you, he's good at that now!) At this age, his full-time job is to play, and for the next few days, my full-time job is to watch him play. For the next four days, I intend to enjoy doing just that.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Vegas Vacation

We're back, after what felt like a whirlwind tour of Las Vegas. It wasn't a long trip -- just 4 days, -- but long enough to relax and to feel like an adult again...and to miss Austin.

We arrived at 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon, Vegas time, and immediately checked into our hotel. I must say, it's a little overwhelming as a first-time visitor to Vegas to walk into a casino rather than a hotel lobby. Some hotels have separate lobbies, but ours, being one of the cheaper establishments on the strip, simply had a desk off to one side of the casino.

We immediately set off to find some food and explore the area. And really, all we did for the next few hours was wander around. I soon realized that in two hours, we only managed to walk through three hotel/casinos. And that was without stopping to gamble or drink. We did however, watch a man lose $5,000 in one hand of blackjack without skipping a beat in the conversation he was having with the guy next to him. In that casino, I was definitely out of my league.

After that, we sat and had a drink, found some dinner, and sat down to play some blackjack -- at much cheaper than $5,000 a hand. The night didn't go too bad, and we called it quits early. With the time zone change, and the fact that Austin had us up early that morning, we were exhausted.

The problem with going to bed early is on Tuesday morning, we were both awake early. Let me tell you, Vegas at 7 a.m. is a pretty weird place. It's so quiet, it's almost eerie. So, after breakfast, we decided it was way too early to play tourist, but not too early to play blackjack and drink cocktails.

Once the rest of the world woke up, we spent the day visiting as many hotel/casinos as we could. That was really what we wanted to do in Vegas this trip -- see as much as we could. We like to gamble a bit, but we wanted to see Vegas. And let's face it, we didn't want to blow our gambling budget right off the bat.

Many of the hotels we saw were just plain silly in terms of how big and over-the-top they were. We went up the tower at the Stratosphere, but opted not to go on the rides that hang you over the edge of the tower. (Thanks, but I don't really care to sit in a roller coaster car and face 100-stories straight down.) We then wandered around Circus Circus for a long time because it was just that big. You'd never know it was a hotel/casino, you're too busy wandering through the amusement park, the midway and food court and the circus performers ring. We then made a quick pass through Frontier, which, as you can see by the picture, has a bit of a different 'feel' to it than the other two places we had just been through.

We then hit the shopping zone (yay!) and a few other casinos before parking ourselves at an outdoor bar at Harrah's to drink a few pints and listen to a pseudo-Irish band. (Which, among their repetoire included an Irish version of TLC's Waterfalls)Later it was a cheap, but awesome, prime rib dinner and some more time at the tables.

The next day, we rented a car and drove out to the Hoover Dam. It's only about 40 miles from Vegas and is worth the drive. It's a really interesting place and Ryan, of course, took tons of pictures.

That night, we had dinner reservations at Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palace. It's one of celebrity chef Bobby Flay's restaurants, and it was definitely one of the best meals we have had -- ever. Afterwards, we wandered along the strip again -- this time to see some of the places all lit up.

On Thursday morning, we took the monorail to the other end of the strip and made our way through the the hotel/casinos we had yet to see. In all, over three days, I think we were in and out of almost every place on the strip. It's interesting to see the differences between them. Places like the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace and MGM Grand are really classy establishments -- and are a world of their own. There's really no need to ever leave the hotel. Places like Circus Circus, Excalibur are designed for families. Places like Paris, New York New York and the Venetian are really kind of over-the-top in terms of running with a theme. The casino floors are designed to look like you're walking through the streets of that city. And, well, places like Frontier remind you that Vegas wasn't always classy.

I guess that's about it. We didn't come home richer than we left, but we didn't lose our shirts either so I guess I can't complain. Actually, the gambling didn't go too badly, except for the time we sat down at a blackjack table with $100 and 10 minutes later, we were leaving -- out of money. That actually happened twice in one day, and after the second time we decided it wasn't our day and found a bar instead -- in my opinion, a much better way to spend money. (Especially since it was a duelling pianos bar, which was awesome!)

We flew the red-eye home, landing in Toronto at 7 a.m. Friday morning. Sounded like a good plan when we booked it, but in reality, it's really hard to look after an 11-month-old all day when you've only had a few hours of not-so-good airplane sleep.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

And away we go!

First thing tomorrow morning, it's off to Vegas!! Four days of touring, gambling (hopefully on the winning end, not the losing end) and fun! We're heading up to Brampton this afternoon to get Austin settled in at my parents house, then we're going to spend the night there as well. So everything has to get done around here today.

Enjoy the cold weather, in Vegas they're calling for highs of 22C all week.

Pictures etc. to follow next weekend.