Category Archives: Rants and reflections

First day of school and the passage of time

First day of school. There’s nothing quite like the start of the school year to reflect on the passing of time. During my school-age and university-aged years, September always felt more like the natural start of a year than New Year’s Day. It’s the start of a new grade, new subjects, new teachers, new school supplies and clothes…nothing quite gave the feeling of a blank slate of opportunity than the first day of school. It was an exciting, energizing, if slightly anxious, feeling.

When I became an adult and joined the working world, the reset-button feeling of September faded from memory as the months and years blurred together. The feeling that September brought was of some irritation as the traffic on the roads were noticeably and considerably heavier than in the prior summer months, but otherwise life went on. New Years and birthdays passed, but it felt like aging was put on indefinite hold. A pause button instead of the reset button.

Fast forward a few more years, and now I have school-aged kids (aged 8 and 6) of my own. They change so much every 6 months that it really feels like life is being played at 2x speed. Their shrinking clothes and shoes play tricks on me, because they certainly can’t grow that fast that quickly, can they? And yet their weight is heavier while sitting on my lap. Their faces are higher in the view of the car’s rear-view mirror. Their stories and imagination are so vivid and complex. These tell me that no, this is not a trick.

The passage of time for me is now marked by their milestones—their birthdays, their first days of school at the beginning of September. Another new grade: new classroom, new teacher, new configuration of classmates, and subjects to learn. September to my daughters is like a reset button again. For me, however, it’s turned into a stationary marker that whizzes past me and makes me realize how fast the years are passing. And so I give them extra squeezes, cuddles and kisses, trying to will the tactile memory of their feeling in my arms and lips into the woefully inadequate storage vessel that is my brain. There is no other choice though, there’s no app or solution that can store that feeling in your heart, and in your throat. Quickly now, before another September rolls around.

Girls walking to school with backpacks


Jury selection duty in Toronto in 2015

I was summoned to attend jury selection duty in the fall of 2015. I was a dutiful citizen, and put my regular weekday schedule on hold to fulfill my duty. But what could I really expect about this whole jury selection duty in Toronto in 2015? I had visions of sitting around a courtroom for days on end, with nothing available to me other than newspapers and magazines. The information sheet provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General was decent in providing some answers about the process, but wasn’t very helpful in some of the more practical questions or information about the process that was specific to the Toronto district court house.

Based on my experience, this is what you might expect during jury selection duty in the Toronto court district (things may be different in other court districts around the province): Continue reading Jury selection duty in Toronto in 2015

Nostalgia for some books of my childhood

I recently finished rereading Anne of Green Gables. It is E1’s copy of the book we gave her for Christmas, and when I read the first few chapters aloud to her, I got hooked again. In the evenings, as she slept, I borrowed the book to read furtively onward. A smile was likely on my face the whole way through to the end, delighted with the character of Anne and the “scrapes” she got herself into.

It’s also delightful seeing E1 also getting taken up in not only the characters and the story of Anne of Green Gables, but of many of the books she’s reading. I look at her and I see myself at her age. I am nostalgic for the books of my childhood and early teens, and for how they made me feel, the childhood memories they invoke, or the lessons I still keep from them. Here are some of them. (Unfortunately, I am terrible at remembering plot details or character names, so please don’t expect a synopsis of these books!) Continue reading Nostalgia for some books of my childhood

Welcome to 2016! Happy New Year!

Yes, it is now more than a week since the new year started, but we do not need to be technical about that. The sentiment of hope and optimism for this year still holds true. So Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!

And in the spirit of optimism, here are some of my goals for this year to resolutely work towards:

  • less Facebook lurking, more actual face time talking (via coffee dates, Skype, group outings, and what not). Because I want to model the behaviour I want for my girls to follow and expect from their friends.
  • make exercise a standard part of my weekly schedule again. It’s been over 9 months since I started working, so I can’t use the excuse of “waiting until my schedule is stabilized” anymore. I’ve definitely noticed a loss of strength.
  • volunteer more: at my girls’ school and in my community
  • read more offline materials. Reading articles online is fine, but the ease in which I can switch to yet another article of completely different context means i often don’t ponder over what I just read, the ideas don’t simmer and percolate as it should.
  • keep writing: aim for at least a blog post every two weeks
  • preserve the memories: finish our family 2015 photobooks before Victoria Day
  • keep pushing myself to grow my experiences and my team contributions in my job, but still holding onto my reduced hours schedule
  • set up the basement office properly. Poor T has to suffer through boxes of random crap strewn about while he gingerly navigates to his office chair.

Sorry for succumbing to the cliche of publicly announcing my resolutions, but I feel the potential for shame and humiliation from my peers is an extra motivator. It worked for Anne of Green Gables, didn’t it? Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to hold you to the fire for at the end of this year, we can press forward to our goals with the fear of mutual shame. 😉 Happy New Year folks!


A plea for unsure voters during Election 2015

Since the election 2015 campaign was called, I have started, and restarted, this post again and again. It is no secret that many of the policies, and certainly Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party modus operandi infuriates me to no end. And I am truly afraid that the results that will unfold later today will show another Conservative majority government.

I’ve had some conversations over the past couple of weeks that have really disheartened me. Several friends and acquaintances admitted sheepishly that they don’t follow politics, don’t understand what the issues are, and thus don’t know who to vote for. They get there is a lot of antagonism about the Conservative party, and are frankly put off by their negative advertising, politicking and inflammatory issues they are invoking during this time (e.g. the niqab, old-stock Canadians). However, they don’t know what to do about it, and I fear there are way more Canadians out there who fall into this boat. They are therefore afraid to cast a ballot because they think an uninformed vote is somehow less worthy.

Then my greatest fear is that they won’t vote at all, and there will be no change in the governing party, and we will slip further away from the ideals I had assumed would always be a part of Canadian government. Showing up to open and honest debate by all representatives. The ability for journalists to question the Prime Minister and Ministers. Policies to be made based on data where possible, and not merely on rhetoric. These are just a few examples, I could go on all day about the many examples.

Your vote is greatly important, in more ways than I have the energy to get into here. So, if you are one of my friends and acquaintances who don’t want to vote Conservative but still don’t know who to vote for, please refer to this site to support whichever candidate in your riding is most likely to beat the Conservative candidate:

And if you are actually still open to voting Conservative because of you might agree with policy, please don’t. The ends don’t justify the means. Consider how this party has been implementing the policy and (mis)informing its citizens—it’s right out of George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

And then tomorrow, after the election results are in, we can have a more thorough discussion to bring you up to speed on the other issues. I might be ranting though…there’s been a lot that’s made me mad over the years.



Let’s Go Blue Jays!

“Let’s Go Blue Jays! Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!”

A confession: my love affair with the Blue Jays has been brief, to date. I’ll be the first to admit, while I know all the rules of the sport, I haven’t been a baseball fan through the years. I’ve been to a handful of Blue Jays games at the Skydome in years past, when the team was mediocre and the crowds even more so. I found the games long and dull, and wished I could be watching hockey instead.

And yet now I find myself jumping on the bandwagon happily into a love affair with the Jays. A late summer-to-fall fling, as it were. I’m even checking to on the scores while I’m picking up my children from daycare, or waiting for their extra-curricular activity to finish. Two years ago I would be hard-pressed to name more than two players. Now, I recognize the names in entire lineup and if pressed, might even be able to put them in their batting order.


I am happy to give my heart over because of the energy and collective excitement through the whole city is taking over. It’s so exciting and fun to see so many people in the city and other parts of the country rally behind something positive, and so why wouldn’t I want to join in on that? This could be a seminal sports moment in Toronto; I want to participate in and experience it whatever the result, not just read about it in the news.

Even more so, I want and hope for this to be a good news story for those of my friends and family who *are* actually long-time Blue Jays baseball fans. Baseball fans with unrequited playoff dreams.

There are those, like my husband, who were committed fans in their youth. They loved and played the game in the park and imagined recreating the highlight plays from the world championship Jays from the ’92 and ’93. However, twenty-two years of being stood up at the playoff date have made them cynical and bitter, to defend against the pain in their hearts. This is further compounded by the collective playoff futility of all the Toronto’s professional sports teams.

Through August and September as the Blue Jays were having an incredible run, you could see the cynicism and bitterness start to melt away, and they were excited again for the game. Each game.

Then there are my dear friends who are the hard-core fans. They watch the Jays games, listen to the sports talk, and they follow what’s happening with the other teams in the league. They have never wavered in their love of the Blue Jays. They open their hearts at the start of every season with the optimism of making the playoffs by October. And for twenty-two years, they’ve had their heart broken each season. But they brush it off and then look forward to spring training next year. They are those few brave souls amongst us who love deeply and freely and continualy, without reservations, even when they get hurt time and time again.

Well, this year, I sure am crossing my fingers that their love will finally be reciprocated and the Blue Jays win the World Series.

But first they have to win Game 5 tomorrow against Texas. Let’s Go Blue Jays! #‎ComeTogether‬

The Many Things I Am Thankful For

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone!

It’s been a gorgeous holiday weekend this Thanksgiving 2015 in Toronto, at least in terms of the weather. There are many things to be thankful for, and I really enjoy having a specific holiday to ask us to stop our busy lives for a while and reflect on this.

I am thankful for having family and friends that we can gather together for a large meal and actually enjoy each others’ company. I am thankful that we do have access to food and drink in abundance, and are not worrying about how to put the next meal on the table.

I am thankful for my general good physical and mental health, and that of my family and close friends.

I am thankful for my husband and my daughters E1 and E2, and the abundance of little joys they bring me each day. (and so I overlook the little annoyances, haha!)

I am thankful that I live in a country that has strong institutions and underlying belief in democracy. For all my disagreements with the policies and functioning of the current political party governing our country, I have no fear that they would ignore the election results and try to maintain power, leading us towards either a dictatorship or civil war. Could this be because we are actually a constitutional monarchy? Perhaps…you may discuss this amongst yourselves.

I am thankful that after my leave from work last year, I was able to find my way to land in a great place for this next phase of my working career.

I am thankful for those monthly pizza lunches at school where I can take a one-day break from having to make and pack their school lunch! And I am thankful for a good working dishwasher to wash all these snack and lunch containers in addition to our home dishes. (I shudder to think what would happen to my marriage if we had to resort to the old days of using rock-paper-scissors to determine who would hand-wash that day’s dishes)

Then there are these long-form articles that I’ve encountered in recent months that have really stayed with me…and made me very thankful that I am not facing these same impossible choices:

  • Whether they are refugees or economic migrants, the basic choice is basically the same: whether leaving home to voluntarily face the dangers of human smuggling is a better choice than staying at home.  “Menaced by gangs, El Salvador’s children are running for their lives“, Stephanie Nolen in The Globe and Mail, Aug 29, 2015, is one such example. The hundreds of thousands others trying to migrate to Europe is another, and there are headlines nearly daily on the situation.
  • Before reading this piece, I had no real understanding of why there was a section in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for Mobility Rights, which includes the right to move anywhere within our country. This story is jaw-dropping—what educated and middle-class income earners would choose to have their families live in subterranean, makeshift, mouldy housing?  I understand I have a truly privileged life, considering what these people will endure for the hope of building a better future for their children. “The ‘Ant Tribe’ of China” by Doug Saunders in The Globe and Mail, Aug 21, 2015.
  • In “Syria’s Climate Conflict“, by Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche, the cartoon succinctly explains how climate change helped spark a bloody civil war. I am thankful that I live in an area where the effects of climate change not yet caused dramatic changes to our society, but I do want our government to take action to address this now.
  • And along those lines, I’m thankful I live in an area with access to fresh water. The ongoing California drought is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

And lastly – I’m thankful for the opportunity to keep speaking my mind. Cheers!

Parenting is hard: when to allow our kids to have mobile phones

As I write this, E1 is 7 years old and E2 is 5 years old. Yes, definitely too young to be having mobile phones, but these rascals grow so quickly! It seems like yesterday they were still doll-sized, so I just know they’ll be pre-teens in a blink of an eye. And wanting their own mobile phones. So to avoid having to respond in a wild-eyed, unprepared and panicked manner, I think we gotta plan now for when to allow our kids to have mobile phones. (*ugh*)

I definitely think anytime before they are in Grade 7 is too early. But after they are going to middle school and extra-curricular activities by themselves? I don’t think that age alone should be the determining factor. Hence this haphazard plan below.

I don’t profess to have a grand manifesto that I’ve been planning for ages. These are just some of the random ideas and “risk mitigation strategies” that have been floating around my head lately. Maybe I’ll add to this list or take things away as the years pass. Definitely this post will be updated as things change. Looking at this list below, the daughters are going to have to do a lot of work to convince me! That might be enough to discourage it for a few years. But who knows, i’m writing this now in 2015 without knowing what the social and technological environment will be like when they are 13 years old. I’ll try not to be too hard on myself if this current best-laid plan doesn’t work out. Continue reading Parenting is hard: when to allow our kids to have mobile phones

My PanAmazing Volunteer Experience

It’s been over a month since my volunteer experience at the 2015 Pan Am and Para PanAm games in Toronto finished. I signed up to volunteer to be a part of something bigger in my community that would likely be one in a lifetime. And yes, while there were definitely many moments of tedium, uncertainty, and inconvenience to my family and work, it was an experience that I value wholeheartedly—my PanAmazing volunteer experience.

When I put in my application in the summer of 2014 to volunteer at the 2015 Pan Am Games, I didn’t really know what was in store for me. When the organizing committee sent me my assignment in February 2015, I must admit that my first reaction to joining the Fleet Transportation team as a driver was one of disappointment. Knowing up front that I would not be driving athletes, it didn’t seem like a particularly fulfilling experience. Thanks to some insightful comments from other volunteers made on our FaceBook volunteer group, I realized that if I wasn’t volunteering with the spirit of
Continue reading My PanAmazing Volunteer Experience

I bet the haters of the Pan Am Games don’t throw good parties themselves

The 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto are now over, and for all intents and purposes, it’s been a success. The completion events and venues ran smoothly. The Canadian athletes performed tremendously. My fellow volunteers (for the most part) have been enthusiastic and cheerful, regardless of their tasks. In all my interactions with our visitors I’ve driven, they have been effusive with praise about their entire experience in the city.

And yet there are those who still continue to moan and complain about the Pan Am Games.

Yes, it costs money to organize, build and run a world class event. Yes, we do have many issues in our city and region that are lacking funds to address, including social programs, affordable housing, and infrastructure. Yes, improvements and infrastructure (e.g. wireless class pool, train link from the airport to Union) would have ideally been done as part of regular responsible governance and administration without the will of the Pan Am Games to force it. But it’s often hard to get the political will behind stuff like that without the external attention.

I liken it to throwing a party at your house. A house that you still owe a significant mortgage on, where the roof is aging, the backyard deck needs replacing, the bathroom is outdated but serviceable, and maybe the landscaping is overgrown. You have three generations of family members in your home, all with different needs and wants, which cost money. You don’t know how much post-secondary education will be for your teenaged kids. You don’t know what medical costs will be to care for your aging mother. You know you need to save for retirement. There are lots and lots of things fighting for your attention and money.

Sometimes when you’re feeling all this stress and drudgery… You just want to throw a party. To bring together some people to have fun, celebrate life, and instill some joy and good memories. Disrupt the tedium that living responsibly often requires, and have some fun.

And so you prepare for the party. You borrow some money to fix up the deck and renovate the bathroom and do the landscaping. You choose to forgo the roof for now, even though that is more prudent in the overall maintenance of the house. You go and buy lots of food and drink to entertain. To even buy some more decorations, and flowers, and music, even if it can’t be all reused afterwards. You inconvenience your family by the renovations and moving furniture around and making your teenager park down the street to free up some parking spots for guests.

All this time, you get to hear from your mother nag at you for spending money when you still have a mortgage and some credit card debt. You hear from your kids complaining that the guest list isn’t cool enough, the work needed to prepare is annoying and inconvenient, and the entertainment chosen is boring. They are just down right sulking at the fact this event is taking place, without offering help to improve the event. They would rather not have this party at all. You acknowledge these statements from the negative Nellies, because they are family and you love them, but proceed on anyway, knowing that this is going to be one kick-a$$ party.

Sure, it doesn’t make financial sense to have a party, as you will not “break even” on your spending for it. But with the right attitude your guests will have a great time and think fondly of you and your event for years to come. Likely your negative Nelly family members will come on board once the event is in full swing and they find themselves having a good time. You will have the satisfaction of a good party, connect with lots of people, and also enjoy yourself immensely since you planned the party so well. You now have a nicely renovated bathroom, fixed deck and lovely landscaping to enjoy for years to come.

You will also feed your soul with the joyful good memories of a great party that will help sustain you in the upcoming days and months where you face the drudgery of being financially responsible.

So thank you Pan Am Games, for throwing a great party and for all the wonderful cohosts (staff and volunteers), guests (athletes, officials, coaches, delegates, media) and entertainment ( the artists performing at Panamania and the opening and closing ceremonies). The sports were thrilling to watch, and no doubt inspiring many of our youth to take up new sports and compete. It was so nice to have the news filled with positive stories about people persevering and achieving their goals, compared to the usual things that get covered in the news.