ms. fresh fish

New Year, Old Me
January 7, 2017, 8:59 pm
Filed under: events, general, The big picture | Tags:

The annual reflex to set a personal improvement goal to mark the new year passed right by me this year. 

The meme that went around about how people could expect the same old, sarcastic-yet-charming jackass that they’ve grown to love (or not) deeply resonated with me. Maybe it’s something in the air. Clearly, I’m not the only one who is incapable of feigning the desire to set out a grand goal that I know will be a future failure. I feel like I’m quite fine just as I am – partly because the quest of self-improvement is a running theme in my life. Always. 

If anything, I’m actually hoping to bring to the forefront some of old me rather than reinvent myself. There are parts of younger me that I quite miss and are due for a comeback. 

More sass, less sacharine. 

More movies, less phone. 

More music, less silence. 

More fire and feeling, less calm.

More writing. (Uh-oh, that sounds like a resolution. Don’t hold me to it.)

“Balanced” doesn’t look the same in any two people. I’ve been trying to emulate a version of it that I admire in other people, but that isn’t necessarily mine. My balance is a little further along the “energetic” and “sassy” end of the spectrum. It means that I can rub people the wrong way, but that’s something that at #thisis38 has less weight than it did five years ago. Even two years ago, to be honest. (As my dear friend Kelly said just today: “I can’t wait to see how little I care at 50!!”)

And so, if I were to have a new year’s resolution, it would be to find more of my old self, and to let go of turning myself into a new, ideal version that I can’t actually live in.

Old me. As in, I’m old. ūüėā


Stepping Back In Time: #MessyBun4Eva
March 15, 2016, 6:40 pm
Filed under: babies, general, ottawa, Parenting, shopping, The big picture
The kids are away for the week (I can hardly breathe, but let’s not go there), so obviously today I distracted my heartsick self by going back into my beloved former Centretown life – a yoga class followed by a quick trip to Hartman’s (apparently it’s now called Massine’s?) to grab sushi for dinner.
I had never, ever before noticed the night and day-level difference of the clientele at my old grocery store versus my new one. It was like seeing myself 10 years ago. It was like being able to see the future of my fellow customers in a way that they would never believe me if I tried to tell them as they casually perused which of the fancy cheeses to buy.
Instead of diaper bags, they carry yoga mats or designer purses.
Instead of a best-intentioned-but-barely-pulled-off messy bun, women wear make-up, their hair… BLOW DRIED. Seriously y’all, they look¬†amazing.
Instead of seeing bags under eyes that are the result of many nights (weeks, months, years) of no sleep, eyes look fresh, rested, people’s steps almost bouncing. Like, they don’t even know what to do with their energy.
Instead of dressy fake-lululemons that were bought at the very grocery store where we now shop and are used rarely, if ever, for actual exercise, people are wearing non-stretchy clothing, fitted and formed to their energetic bodies. So glamorous! Are they all models?!
Instead of, despite the clear exhaustion, the look of relief of having the peacefulness of Alone Time to cruise the grocery store aisles uninterrupted in silence, couples stare and giggle lovingly at each other as they experience their first grocery shopping together relationship milestone. I blatantly stared at those ones.
Instead of toddlers being fed a different thing directly off the shelf in every aisle, spilling things here and there, teetering on the cusp of tantrums, adults have civilized conversations about different ways to get curry into their diet with the taste test providers. Not a child to be seen anywhere.
Despite knowing how much our world has changed, and goddess knows, how much we were desperate for it to change and are so thankful that we have what we do now, what a startlingly visual reminder of where and what I used to be. And a reminder to appreciate and accept¬†the extent to which we’re all so tired instead of wondering why and giving ourselves¬†grief for not trying harder to be like our¬†25 year old selves.
Mind you, I’m almost inspired to try to dig out my blow dryer. Almost. #messybun4eva

A Very Canadian Day
July 1, 2015, 10:45 pm
Filed under: babies, family, The big picture | Tags: , , , , ,

My Mother-in-Law, Mama P/Nonna, came to visit for almost a week, and headed back home to Toronto on the train today. She doesn’t love travelling, so she was a bit nervous of the train – it was only her second train ride. Ever.

But oh so fitting that it was to be taken on Canada Day, given when her first train ride had taken place.

She was eight years old when she arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia after what sounds like a gruelling three week boat trip from Italy with her Mom and two older brothers. When she arrived in Halifax, they boarded the train – for her first, and until today, last ride – to Toronto to reunite with her Dad and two of her three older brothers that she had not seen in years.

Since that time, she has built an incredible life with her husband and community in Canada, raising three amazing kids – one who works for the federal government, another a teacher and one who (officially!) owns a business, adoring her four grandchildren, supporting (and feeding) legions of family, friends and strangers including working with children with special needs for the last 25 years.

We’re all ever so thankful that her family took those voyages, so that Canada could call her its own.


Sending Nonna off

(Oh, and by the way, she got home safely and sounds like this train ride was much more enjoyable than her last one…)

Unexpected Similarities
November 12, 2014, 7:45 am
Filed under: babies, family, ottawa, Parenting, Restaurants, The big picture | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tb and I spent the day with (Great, to her) Nanny yesterday. Tb is now three, (Great) Nanny is now ninety. Woah on both fronts.

It’s always a far more pleasant experience to visit the Lord Lansdowne with only one twin, particularly the one who feels she’s an adult rather than a monkey seemingly on speed. (Guess which one is more fun at the park or out for a hike?) So, we were able to spend awhile together today, just the three of us.

I teared up watching them chat at their Kettleman’s table while I ordered our bagel delights. I love that I can leave them alone together while I run off to get something (read: go to the bathroom). We all excitedly watched the jets fly over the building after they passed over the Cenotaph and my grandmother talked about the war years.

As the morning, and then the afternoon, wore on, certain similarities between my companions could no longer escape my awareness.

  • Speed of getting from point A to B (spoiler alert: the speed is that which requires me to re-assess my own natural pace and allows me to take some (a lot of) time to re-assess whether I really need to always move as fast as I do – I decline to note the answer to that reflection)
  • Interest in abiding by the unwritten (probably written, let’s be honest) rules around Moments of SILENCE (As in, no interest. At all.)
  • Neither require my help, for anything. Apparently.
  • Neither are particularly interested in small talk, which works well for me as then I get to small talk for three!
  • Speed of eating one bagel, or 4/5 of a bagel (pic below is approximately 45 minutes since we’d arrived)Kettleman's
  • Both get very excited about new walkers, as discovered after the original broke while at lunch and required being replaced in a hurry. This is J “surprising” Nanny with her new walker, which she only gave up upon securing the old (broken) one, now in our trunk)

Nanny's New Walker

 What a lovely (and ridiculous) day.

What took me so long?
January 19, 2014, 7:55 pm
Filed under: a & e, ottawa, The big picture

I can be stubborn. Not all the time, but I’m definitely guilty of hanging on to opinions, stories and perspectives for way longer than I genuinely believed them, or needed to.

Take, for instance, my opinion of Ottawa. I moved here at 19 and proceeded to spend over a decade hating it. Being from Montreal-ish (ahem), how could one come to love such a city, devoid of life, energy and creativity?

Things eventually started to change and I’ve come to really adore this big village. I love its size, the absence of traffic, the absence of pretension. And I love its stoic character and its friendly, humble traits – ones like no other. Others are more qualified to talk about the art and restaurant scene, so I’ll leave them to it. Ultimately, we love our life and friends here. It is so easy to have a good life here (even with the weather!), and we so appreciate that.

Driving to yoga this cold Sunday morning, I took the scenic route along the Canal. It wasn’t yet 9 a.m. The best word I can think of to describe the scene is “bustling.” As always, there were the runners along the lovely paths, balancing the need to protect from the cold while managing their sweat, determined to keep their training (for May?) on track. The Canal itself, meanwhile, was hosting hundreds of skaters. People flying down solo, couples holding hands (including an elderly couple that melted my heart), groups of friends, people all bundled up and clearly teaching themselves to skate, others doing twirls and spins.

Again, it wasn’t even 9 a.m.

That’s when I thought to myself: Wow, LB… what took you so long to realize that this city was entirely worthy of your love?

A Parent’s Super Power
January 18, 2014, 7:02 am
Filed under: babies, family, Parenting, The big picture

So, listen. Here’s the thing: I’ve done my fair share of scaring all of you not-sure-about-whether-to-have-kids peeps, I think. So I’m here with some good news.

When you become a parent, you get access to a previously locked super power. You know in a video game (fact: the last video game I played was Super Mario Brothers, so apologies if this analogy doesn’t make sense in this century) when you get to a new level, or get enough coins, or whatever else you used to have to do to get stuff and you get a new life or super-power (bigger!, jump super high!, run super fast!, etc.!)? Well, that happens in real life, too! Upon welcoming a new baby (or two, or more goddess help you AH!) into your life, a super power is revealed. It’s been in you the whole time, as it turns out. But, you weren’t allowed to access it until it was really necessary.

This super power is different. It’s less about what you get and more about what you no longer need for survival, which is great because you can’t have it anyway: Sleep.

Pre-kids, when you hear about parents’ sleepless lives, you think one of two things: (1) They’re over-exaggerating because no one could possibly function on that little sleep. Liars. Or (2) I could never do that so I better not do the kid thing. Misery is unappealing to me. (You’re the sane one in this equation, by the way.)

In fact, while some people are over-dramatic (gawd), (1) is very likely the situation. I offer my life as illustration: I move beds anywhere from two to seven times a night. Sometimes those bed switches are interspersed with runs to the kitchen for medicine/milk/puke bucket or a need to change bed sheets or a cardio workout with a 25 lb weight to soothe your unhappy child. Anyway, even on the easy nights, given this “traffic,” you can imagine how much continuous sleep I’m afforded. And this is with kids that are almost two and a half. In the last three years (because believe it or not being pregnant with twins is not at all conducive to good sleeping after week 20), I have slept through the night (STTN), uninterrupted approximately five times. ¬†That’s a STTN average of .005%, in case you’re into numbers (that math is probably wrong).

BUT, here’s the good news: I’M FINE. Sure, I look tired, my eyes are kind of burning all of the time, and I’m pretty sure I could stop, drop and nap pretty much anywhere, but I’m fine. I’m happy and healthy. I have energy to laugh, love and care, to go to work, to do some volunteering, to run and yoga (OK, that’s rare, but it happens), to love and play with my kids and le husband, to host gatherings (wherein I don’t cook – not new, just stopped pretending) for friends and family, to do some courses and to watch some carefully-chosen TV shows (currently Downton Abbey, but also Girls, House of Cards and OITNB).

I’m fine…¬†thanks to my super power. And you will be too*.

*Update: An awesome, brave friend called me out on the fact that this post completely minimizes/offends those battling post-partum depression (PPD). Having (gratefully) not gone through PPD, it’s an experience that’s not mine. Having been through depression though, I know how exhausting and incapacitating depression can be. Sans kids, I talked myself into going to work and then came home, laid on the couch and slept a lot. I did nothing else. That is why, to me, parents/moms going through PPD are even more heroic – the ones I’ve known are still parenting and loving their children despite the massively heavy load of depression to bear. They are having faith that this too shall pass (albeit with some help, because help helps) and that the fun and joy will come again. What an incredibly profound lesson in strength and patience for their children. So, no… sorry. You don’t get out of the ‘super power’ club. In fact, you’re in a class way above. xo

Feminist Parenting: Fresh Fish Style
January 2, 2014, 1:41 pm
Filed under: babies, family, Feminism, Housewife Chronicles, Humanism, Parenting, The big picture

As I noted in my post about my reaction to a small bit of the GoldieBlox ad, I was inspired to write more about how I’ve found my parenting groove (at least so far) in terms of reconciling my feminism with my fairly stereotypical fire truck-loving son and doll-loving daughter. My reaction to these developments has been such an interesting experience for me to observe. Of importance is the fact that I’m the only person in my immediate and extended family that self-identifies as a feminist… or as anything really. They’re all anti-labels. I respect that and give them the liberty to parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle in a way that is true to them. I am quite certain that my kids’ exposure to people of different thoughts and approaches is really good for them and they will see that, at our bases, our values are very similar. But, I am a feminist and a humanist (not mutually exclusive, of course). I believe that men and women are equal but that we live in a culture that does not value women as much as men. So, how does a feminist deal with her daughter’s insistence on playing with dolls, to the exclusion of almost everything else? How does this feminist-humanist work on raising two future feminist-humanists (if not in labels, then in values)? Well, here’s how I do it in a way that is intuitive (read: easy) for me: Continue reading