Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Night

I've shamelessly admitted to many things on this blog. A couple of weeks ago I shared my affinity for Valentine's Day. Everyone who knows me understands that I'm a sucker for Christmas. I've even confessed to a minor case of shopoholism, in that I become absolutely giddy over finding a great deal. But I don't think I've ever come clean with my genuine fascination with Oscar Night.

I'm not sure when it started. I don't think I ever cared at all about it until at least university. I do remember that the ceremony used to be held in April, because I remember watching the show while studying for exams. I'm not even sure exactly what it is that I love about it. Many things, I guess. The dresses are a big part of it. I love to check out what the starlets are wearing and either gush or dish. I love to make my predictions and wait breathlessly while the envelope is opened. I love the speeches, picking out whether or not the winners remember to thank their loved ones at home. I love the big production numbers, the sets, the honouring of industry pros from days gone by. I really love the whole evening. And last night was no exception.

My husband doesn't get excited about the Oscars like I do, but he does indulge my obsession. No, we don't get dressed up in tux and ball gown, but we do find ways to make the night a little bit special. Last night, we got the kids tucked into bed on time, and then Chris went out to pick up Chinese food. He got home about 10 minutes before the big show began, which felt really early here in the Eastern Time Zone. We had both filled out our Oscar ballots and I was ready to keep track of who would get the most correct predictions. We had only seen two of the movies nominated for Best Picture (well, I had seen three, having taken the kids to see Toy Story 3), but it didn't matter. We make our predictions primarily based on media buzz. I started out doing extremely well, and Chris.... well, not so much. By the time 10 awards had been given, I had 8 right and Chris had 3. Competitive nut that I am, I couldn't keep the smile off my face! The second half I wasn't quite so successful, although I did correctly choose Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress and Best Picture. I missed on Best Director, though, underestimating the dominance of The King's Speech. I ended up with 14 right out of 24, and Chris got 8, leaving me the clear winner! Woohoo! And thanks to the Eastern Time Zone, I was in bed by midnight!

As for my review of the show, I was pretty satisfied. The dresses were lovely; there weren't many really ugly ones this year. The hosts were so-so. I thought Ann Hatheway did a great job, if perhaps a little over-the-top in parts. James Franco just didn't seem comfortable in the role, and his resulting performance was a little blah. I missed the highlights of each nominated movie, which were obviously cut this year in the interest of time. I found that it really felt a bit rushed. I noticed in a few parts that it was really meant to be seen on a widescreen TV, but we were content to watch on our nine year old 27" CRT. As for the winners, for the most part I was very happy with the choices. I haven't seen the movies of any of the major winners, although I am dying to see The King's Speech, but I assume the winners were deserving. Although I chose Melissa Leo to win best supporting actress, I really hoped young Hailee Steinfeld would take the prize for her beautiful performance in True Grit. More than any other, I was thrilled that Colin Firth won for Best Actor. I've loved him since he was Mr. Darcy in the Pride and Prejudice BBC mini-series, and I'm really very surprised he hasn't won before. Chris and I saw The Social Network and Inception, and both nominations were well-deserved, but I think when we do see The King's Speech we'll agree that it was the right choice for the Best Picture Oscar.

So there's my confession and my review. I know many of my friends think I'm crazy for being such an Oscar nut, but some of you understand. I look forward to seeing some of the movies I've missed over the next few months as they come out on video. Clearly, I don't get out much, and I don't mind seeing them in the comfort of my cozy living room. And maybe, when the basement is finally finished, on a larger than 27" TV!

Friday, February 25, 2011


Nearly two whole weeks without posting on my blog is unforgivable! But I plead for forgiveness anyway. I have had a couple of busy weeks, but I won't try to list all my mundane comings and goings to explain away my absence. Really, I think the problem is a lack of inspiration. I did better in November when I was writing every day. Now, when I sit down at my computer and try to develop an idea I get discouraged. Have I exhausted all my ideas? I know I have two very inspiring kids to write about, but I also know that no one wants to read stories about my kids every day. So what to write about today?

It really is a problem I've struggled with for years. I love writing. I always have. There is nothing I love more than writing something I'm really proud of. Coming up with an idea, getting in down on paper, tweaking it, crafting it, watching it take on a life of its own. I would love to write for a living. I always thought I would write a novel one day. The problem is, I just don't think I have a story in me. I've looked for it, I've prayed about it, but try as I might, I just can't seem to bring a really good story out of my limited imagination. I remember thinking that once I had kids I would find a million things to write about, and I do love to write about Connor and Janelle, but it hasn't led to the Great Canadian Novel. Not yet, at least.

I do come up with ideas in the middle of the night. When I'm lying awake, struggling to sleep, I have great blog post ideas. I even woke up from a dream one time with a full outline of a novel in my head (I must have been reading Twilight at the time). I really should keep a notebook by my bed, because by morning those great ideas are always gone, drifted away with my dreams.

Actually, keeping a notebook with me isn't a bad idea. Surely I could jot down at least one or two great ideas a day. Chris is always tossing subjects for blog posts into the air. I could steal some of his ideas! I am going to try to do better. I just need to take my inspiration from everything I do. It's my life I'm writing about. I shouldn't judge whether or not my life is worth reading. I need to get back to three posts a week. That's the goal. Starting next week.

And if anyone has any great ideas for the Great Canadian Novel, let me know, okay?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am a self-proclaimed, non-apologetic, loving-every-minute-of-it sap! I'm a sucker for a love story. I love sad movies. Nothing squeezes my heart more than a Hallmark commercial. I'm a sap, and proud of it! And it is for this very reason that I LOVE Valentine's Day. I decorate my windows with hearts. I dress myself (and my children) in pink and red. I help Connor and Janelle get valentines ready for their classmates and I send treats for the classroom party. I have a stack of Valentine's Day children's books that I never get tired of reading. This afternoon I'm planning to bake heart-shaped cupcakes for my family, and I'm trying to decide which family favourite dinner to make to celebrate the day. I love Valentine's Day.

Luckily, my husband understands how much I love this day. I have always told him that my favourite gift from him is not having to plan our Valentine's Day celebration. He knows that I love to be surprised. Last Thursday he called and told me to book a babysitter because we were going to have an early Valentines dinner. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a sitter, but he brought Chinese food home after the kids were in bed instead. Saturday afternoon I went down to the kitchen and found a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a box of Turtles, along with a very sappy card. He knows how much I will treasure that sappy card! I'll probably keep it displayed on my dresser until next February! But what I really love about my husband is that this morning I sat down in my favourite reading chair and found another Valentine card, this one absolutely hilarious! He knew I needed the sappy card, but he couldn't help but buy me the funny one, too. That's one of the reasons I love him.

Chris and I have celebrated 17 Valentine's Days together. But it is the one before we started celebrating together that I always think about when February 14th rolls around. Valentine's Day 1994. We had gone on one date the previous summer, and I had made it pretty clear that I wasn't very interested in another one (I know — I am a very lucky girl to have gotten him back after the way I treated him that year!) He steered clear of me through the fall, but after a chance meeting in an airport at Christmas time he was on my mind again. He started showing up in my neck of the woods more often again, and we rebuilt a bit of a friendship through the winter. He knew I was a little timid, and I'm sure he didn't want to risk rejection again, so he didn't ask me out. But on February 14th he surprised me. My friend and I travelled to and from work together, and when we arrived back at my house that evening, there was a flower delivery person there to greet us. But he didn't just have a rose for me. He had one for my friend, too. From Chris. That melted my heart and hers. Chris knew that sending a rose to both of us would be less scary for me (and buttering up my friend didn't hurt either), and I realized how very sweet of him it was to think of doing that. I called him and thanked him, and I think that was the real beginning of "us". He has been every bit as sweet on every Valentine's Day since, but that is the one I always think of on this day. That is my Valentine's Day love story.

If you have a Valentine's Day love story, I'd love to hear it! The more sickenly romantic the better! Remember, I'm a sap — I'll eat it up!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Posting Today....

Thank you for coming to visit me here at My Window on the Journey. Unfortunately, I'm not here today. You'll have to head over to A View from the Glen to see what I have to say. My friend Denise is participating in the Won't You Be My Neighbour blog party series started by The Never True Tales. The idea is to visit other blogs and get to know some of the talented people out there. Meanwhile, Denise is guest posting at Coffee and Commutes today. You can follow her over there. And if you have a few minutes, check out some of the other wonderful links listed on both of these blogs.

Denise and I have been friends for well over twenty years. We were actually in the same homeroom all through high school, but didn't really meet until university. We travelled to and from school together for four years, and had many of our classes together. We nursed each other through exams, essays, first dates and heartbreaks. Since then we have never lived in the same province (until now), but we have always kept in touch and remained close friends. Our kids are the same ages, so we share similar motherhood joys and struggles, and when we are together we never run out of things to talk about. Denise's blog inspired me to start my own, so it is truly a pleasure to have been invited to contribute a post today. Now follow the links and get started!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superbowl Recovery

We attended our first Superbowl Party as a family last night. It was held at the home a couple from our Community Group. We got the invitation about three weeks ago, and Connor has been talking about it ever since. He was incredibly excited — far more so than I ever would have expected. Football has never been a big fan sport in our household. We're all about basketball — Connor and Chris love to watch an NBA game together, and in March each member of the family enters our March Madness predictions on our own personal set of brackets. Of course, as Canadians, it is our civic duty to be hockey fans, and we do enjoy a good hockey game together now and then. But football — I just don't get it! Chris has to explain it to me every time we watch a game (which is a very rare occurance). Therefore, it amazes me that my son is able to "get it", but he does. Something in the male DNA must allow them to understand incomprehensible sports.

So we went to a Superbowl Party. We took two cars, because I knew Janelle would not survive the whole evening. We had a great time! Lots of food, lots of good conversation. Oh, and there was that game on TV that most of the guys seemed pretty interested in, too. They all seemed pretty happy, because apparently the right team was winning. We stayed for the first half, watched the American commercials on YouTube at halftime, and the last part of the halftime show, and then Janelle and I prepared to head out. I checked with Connor to see if he wanted to come with us, and he looked wiped out. His eyelids were droopy and his cheeks were red, his telltale signs of exhaustion. But he was wearing a big smile, and there was no way he was leaving that game until it was over. So I left him and brought my girl home to tuck her safely into bed, and then head to bed myself. I did watch some of the game, but mostly so I wouldn't miss the beginning of Glee, which was coming on following the game. When Connor arrived home, he was all smiles. Apparently, the right team won, which invariably alters Connor's mood one way or the other. It was 10:45 p.m., and he didn't put up much fuss about going to bed. All was right with the world.

And then it was morning. I discovered last night that Connor had not finished all his homework this weekend, so I woke him at 7:30 to complete a math worksheet before heading to school for 9:00. He was a mess. He was just not emotionally equipped to deal with homework, breakfast, washing up or getting dressed. So I did what any good mother would do — I sent him back to bed. What is the point in sending a physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted child to school? Would he actually learn anthing? Would he be an asset to the class in that state of mind? I don't think so. I took Janelle and our neighbour kids to school and came home to have my breakfast. Connor came downstairs just before 9:00. I suggested he give his homework another try. Tears! Drama! Inability to cope! Back to bed! I told him I would wake him in an hour so I could take him to school in time to pick Janelle up to take her to her dentist appointment. I don't think he ever did sleep, but he certainly spent some significant time curled up in his comfy bed in a dark room. That had to help. When he emerged again just before 10:00 I asked him to try getting cleaned up and dressed before he tackled the homework sheet. This time we were much more successful. I'm never awake in the morning until the water hits my face either!

So my son missed two hours of school, all because he stayed up to watch his first Superbowl. Worth it? I guess that depends on your perspective. Connor certainly thinks it was, despite how wretched he felt this morning. And I would tend to agree with him. I mean, he will remember last night far longer than he would remember anything he may have missed this morning between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. And don't we all have to experience the crappy "next morning" feeling to understand how valuable a good night's sleep really is?

I may change my mind this afternoon when I experience the late afternoon version of sleep-deprived Connor. But I know we'll all survive. He'll go to bed early, and a babysitter is coming tonight, so I won't be subjected to a long, drawn out bedtime battle. He's always perfect for the sitter! All in all, Superbowl Recovery isn't that traumatic — as long as it only happens once a year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eleven Years Ago...

Eleven years ago today I was suffering through the end stages of thirty-one hours of indescribable pain. Okay, so maybe the whole thirty-one hours wasn't indescribably painful, but it wasn't fun! I could not believe how long it took that boy to come out of me! It must have been a foreshadowing of how long it takes him to get ready for school in the morning.

Eleven years ago I thought I was having a little girl. I had no idea what to do with a little boy, and I certainly didn't understand how awesome little boys can be.

Eleven years ago I had no idea how my life was going to change. Sure I had taken care of many, many other babies, and I felt very ready to care for one of my own. But I had never been charged with the care of such a tiny defenseless creature who had no one in the world to see to his needs but his father and me. We were it. We were all he had. Wow.

Eleven years ago I had never felt the kind of love that makes your heart jump into your throat at the thought of another person being hurt or in pain, or even uncomforable in any way. I didn't know how it would feel to need to check multiple times every night just to make sure my baby was still breathing. I didn't know how it would feel to want to throttle the other kid on the basketball court who knocked my kid down. I had never been a Mama Bear.

Eleven years ago I had never felt the joy of seeing my own precious baby's brown eyes light up with a smile so beautiful it still makes my heart skip a beat. I didn't know how much delight I could share in that sweet baby laugh that still echoes in my heart today.

Eleven years ago I had never experienced the pain that discipline can bring a parent. I didn't know how much it would hurt to teach him right from wrong. I didn't know that his tears would be magically connected to my own.

Eleven years ago I knew nothing of the wonder and amazement of basketball, Lego, video games, or Spiderman. I had no idea how many Hot Wheels cars would fill every corner of my house. I didn't know that sharing a chapter of Harry Potter would become my favourite hour of the day.

Eleven years ago today I had never met the most amazing, kind, gentle and loving boy I've ever known. But eleven years ago tonight he became my whole world.
Happy birthday, Connor Michael Haines! Thanks for making the last eleven years the very best years of my life.