Category Archives: Fun

Some Thoughts on the Olympics

  • I am an Olympic junkie. I love watching the Olympics. I prefer the Winter Olympics (smaller and cozier and where Canada usually does better) but I will happily watch the Summer Games too if they’re on. I will freely watch for hours during the Olympics (and become very passionate about) sports which I would never, ever, watch of my own volition at any other point (examples: biathlon, luge, pole jumping). Curling and figure skating I will watch at any time. I loves me some curling and figure skating. (I saw a hilarious comment in a newspaper article that said when it came to curling for Canada at the Olympics there were only three options: 1. gold; 2. gold; 3. witness protection. We take our curling seriously.)
  • The time difference makes it largely impossible for me to watch anything live. Bedtime and getting our lives back in order takes up most of the evening and then it just gets too late. At drop off today one of the other Mums was looking decidedly bleary and then she admitted she’d stayed up until 2 a.m. to watch the shoot out for the women’s hockey final. I would love to see some events live (Q. and I have watched the men’s hockey final live the last two Winter Olympics, once with friends in 2010, and once out for breakfast with E. in 2014), but sleep always wins. The first day I downloaded the CBC app I looked up the schedule for the men’s hockey final, which doesn’t even start until 11 p.m. on Saturday. So I’ll be learning about that result the following morning.
  • This is the first time E.’s been interested in the Olympics. It’s not surprising- he was still two the last time the Winter Olympics were on, and the most recent Summer Olympics were in 2016, when P. was a newborn and I was teaching a course online. I barely remember them happening and I don’t think I watched a single event. It’s been a real source of joy to watch him getting excited. We watch a few highlight videos on my iPad or phone after dinner before he goes to bed. He’s seen snippets of most sports, but his favourite sport, by far, is bobsleigh (with luge a close second- apparently skeleton is too scary because they go down headfirst). He even announced to Q. the other night that if he ever gets to be an Olympic athlete he wants to drive the bobsleigh.
  • I especially love that E. is getting into the Olympics because it reminds me of when I was a kid. The first Winter Olympics I can clearly remember were 1988 in Calgary when I was almost nine, especially figure skating (the battle of the Brians! Katarina Witt! Elizabeth Manley!). I watched a lot of the 1992 and 1994 games and got up at 4 a.m. to watch Elvis Stojko at Nagano in 1998. I thought I didn’t remember much from 2002, to the extent that I just had to look up where they were held, but as soon as I saw it was Salt Lake City, it all came flooding back, especially the two gold medals in hockey and the lucky loonie buried in the ice. I was in my final semester of my undergraduate degree and I watched both games live in bars with my friends. 2006 I was overseas in Australia and had been living overseas for four years, so I felt distant from the games for a number of reasons. But by 2010 – Vancouver – Q. and I were living in Canada, and I was hooked again.
  • Clearly some changes happened while I wasn’t as focused on the Olympics. There are all these sports I’ve never heard of (mostly in the snowboarding/freestyle skiing categories, but also, since when is there a luge relay or team figure skating?). Most evenings we have a conversation where E. wants to watch a particular video, slopestyle, say, or big air, and then asks me what that sport is and I have to admit I have no idea.
  • How has Norway won SO MANY medals??!! I read an article the other day that said that their budget for the wax for their cross-country skis at the Olympics was three million dollars (CDN, I’m assuming), so clearly they have deep pockets and they target particular sports (much like the Netherlands with speed skating). But I can’t get over how much better they’re doing than Sweden (currently 10 medals) or Finland (4 medals). I think of all of those countries as ‘winter’ countries. Maybe the Swedes and the Finns are busy drinking hot chocolate and playing board games while the Norwegians are out skiing 50 km every weekend during the long, dark winter months. Denmark has only ever won a single medal at the Winter Olympics (or so Wikipedia tells me), a silver medal in women’s curling in 1998, perhaps because of their culture of hygge?

How are you enjoying the Olympics?

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Filed under Choose Happiness, E.- the seventh year, Fun

Microblog Mondays: (Not-Quite) Total Eclipse of the Sun

We’re all set for the partial eclipse of the sun this afternoon. There was no possibility we were going to be able to reach the zone of totality, but apparently we’re meant to get close to 75% coverage, so that should be enough to make things interesting.

I’ve spent the last two days with Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart and U2’s Staring at the Sun going round and round in my head.

E. has a pair of viewing glasses from Sky News magazine that his Grannie gave him last week. Q. is working from home today, so we’ll be able to take turns watching the eclipse and watching P. (who, at fourteen months, won’t have any idea what is going on and certainly will not understand the importance of not looking directly at the sun). After lunch he and E. are going to build a solar viewer (one of those pinhole projector types), so we’ll have two ways to watch.

And then I guess we’ll just be hanging out, waiting for the sun to partly disappear.

It’s rare for something to get all three of us equally excited. I wouldn’t have predicted that “partial solar eclipse” would be a major family bonding moment, but there you go. Astronomy for the win!

Are you watching the skies today?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under E.- the seventh year, Fun, Microblog Mondays

Embrace the Force

Microblog_MondaysI am going ‘home’ for the holidays on Wednesday (in that I am going to what used to be my home but is now where my mother and stepfather live because where I now live has really, truly become home for me).

I really, really, really should get one more lecture written before I go.

I have a meeting this afternoon with the course director for the class I’m unexpectedly taking over in January.

Afterwards, I really, really, really should come home and write more of that lecture.

I’m going to go see Star Wars instead.

Life’s too short.

Remind me I said that when I’m writing that lecture in a frantic rush in about three weeks.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Choose Happiness, Fun, Microblog Mondays

Photography Goals for 2016

One of the blogs on my feedly is a lifestyle photography blog mostly directed at mothers who want to take better pictures of their kids. I’ve been reading it for a couple of years now and have definitely picked up some useful tips (although I am nowhere near as good as she is).

I noticed this fall that I largely stopped taking photos once E. started JK. I would still get the camera out for major events (like our cottage weekend over Thanksgiving), but when it came to our day-to-day existence, the camera was just sitting on the shelf. I recently (finally) uploaded the photos for the rest of the year to our online album that I share with friends and family and the photos stopped on the 21st of November. I didn’t take any pictures of E. in December before he left. I did take a couple of pictures of his (hilarious) letter to Santa, but I need help from my brother-in-law to blank out the address before I post them anywhere.

Q. is hopeless at taking pictures, partly because his family does not have a strong tradition of taking pictures, and partly because he just trusts I’m going to take far too many. I sent him down under with our point-and-shoot camera, and did try to stress the point that E. will not see these relatives again for AT LEAST eighteen months and maybe it would therefore be a good idea to get some photos of the family because E. and his two cousins will all look completely different by the time they’re next together, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, thinking about our photos (or lack thereof) inspired me to set a couple of photography goals for myself for 2016. I didn’t have any formal goals for this year, but I did take the big step of switching my camera into fully manual mode. I’d been shooting in Av mode for about two years, where I set the aperture and monitored the white balance, but the camera set shutter speed and ISO, and I knew it was time to step out of my comfort zone. I’m still finding it a challenge, especially figuring out how much light I need. I don’t edit my photos or shoot in RAW, so I need to get it right in camera. But in general switching to manual has improved my photos.

This year I felt like I needed something a bit more specific as a goal in order to keep focused. Now that I’m not spending as much time with E., I’m going to have to make more of an effort to keep my shutter count rising. But that’s the only way I’ll continue to improve.

1. Use my new camera

In July (JULY!) I bought a new DSLR body. It is still sitting in a box on my desk. I am completely intimidated by it and I’ve been refusing to get it out because I know there’s going to be a steep learning curve and there’s always an occasion coming up where I don’t want to run the risk of not getting any decent photos because I haven’t quite figured out the camera yet. But here we are, six months later, and I still haven’t taken even a baby step towards using it. Enough. Q. bought me my old camera in 2007. The technology and the capabilities of the new body are incomparable. I need to just start using it and suffer the indignity of possibly having my photos look worse for a time before they look much more amazing.

2. Try a Project 365

I thought about doing this last year and then chickened out. I think because E. was so sick over the holidays I didn’t take any pictures until we were home again and by then I’d missed a few days and I therefore decided that there was NO POINT in even trying a 365 because I’d already missed a few days (there are times when I really hate my perfectionism). I need to learn to use my new camera, and I need to be better at taking pictures of things other than E., and I need to use my camera more consistently outside of the summer months, and this project is perfect for all three issues.

3. Get in the frame at least once a month

This is actually a goal of the blogger I follow, but it’s a good goal for me too. My sister pointed out when I did my huge update of photos that I was maybe in two of them. I know it’s a problem- I have a billion pictures of E., lots of pictures of him with Q., the occasional picture of all three of us, and almost no pictures of just E. and his Mummy. Again, not helped by the fact that Q. really doesn’t enjoy taking pictures. Also not helped by the fact I’ve put the camera on manual, as Q. doesn’t feel very comfortable using it, even if I set up the entire shot for him and tell him where to stand. And if I give the camera to someone else, more often than not the photo ends up blurry. I don’t have a smartphone, so I can’t just whip that out and take selfies with E.  I have been meaning for years to form a relationship with a photographer and pay for an annual session to get some gorgeous family shots, but that will only put me in the frame for one month out of twelve! This goal needs some thought, but it’s an important one.

4. Finish a photobook (ANY photobook)

Finishing a photobook was one of my goals for the summer with my Happiness Reset project. I failed miserably at this goal (although I did finish the summer much much happier than I’d started it, so overall the project was a success). It is the same problem I’m having with the new camera. I am paralyzed by the thought that if I make a photobook it might not be perfect and therefore I will regret having made it. What matters though is just getting the thousands of photos I’ve taken off my computer and into a format where we can enjoy them. I have seriously thought about just printing them out as 4x6s and putting them in an album the old-school way, but I love the layout options for photobooks (when I’m not finding the choice overwhelming). I really want to finish an album for E’s first two years before this baby comes so that E. can easily look at all the pictures from when he was a baby (my plan is to print two copies- one for us and one for E., so I don’t freak out if E. rips the occasional page or spills something on it). Sometimes (often) I need a firm deadline in order to get anything done, and you don’t get a much firmer deadline than a baby’s arrival, so hopefully I can find make the time to make this happen.

Those are my goals for 2016. Long term, I would like to be good enough by the time I turn 40 to submit an application to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (nilmdts), an organization that pairs volunteer photographers with parents who are experiencing the loss of an infant so that the grieving family has some beautiful photos with which to remember their lost child. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve known for a long time now that I wanted to find some way to give back to the infertility and loss community which has sheltered and supported me for so many years. I know I will never be a doula or a midwife or a counsellor. But this is something which I could do, and demand for nilmdts’s photographers regularly outstrips their availability (which is why they can only offer their services to parents losing a child at birth).

You have to be basically at a professional standard to be one of their photographers. Most of the photographers in my region run businesses specializing in maternity, newborn, family shots, with the odd wedding photographer thrown in. You have to be confident shooting in very low light conditions, using auxiliary lighting like a Speedlight. This is exactly the type of situation where I am least confident with my camera. You have to be able to edit your images, and I have resolutely avoided editing my images thus far. So I have a lot of learning to do. But I’m giving myself four years (almost) to practice and learn and practice and read and practice some more. It’s a big goal, but I think I’m up for the challenge.

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Filed under Choose Happiness, Fun

Responsibility

So I’m sure everyone’s heard about the woman who gave birth to EIGHT babies a couple of days ago. I don’t want to be too judgmental, as my only access to information comes from newspaper reports, but I am damn curious about a couple of things.

The article I read today implied that she had undergone IVF. IF this is true, what f/s in his/her right mind puts back EIGHT embryos?! IF this is true, it just seems highly unprofessional.

If it wasn’t IVF but rather ovarian stimulation with or without IUIs, well, that’s got some question marks on it too. Was she monitored to see how many follicles were growing? If she was, and the number was pretty high (like, um, eight or more!) did the f/s suggest converting to IVF or cancelling the cycle?

I recognize that the patient has a right to make decisions about her care. But I would also think that the f/s has a right to place limits on the actions that he or she is willing to do.

(I’m not going to engage at all with her mother’s apparent comment that she never expected anything like this when she took fertility drugs…)

My f/s is very clear. If we go to IVF, we can transfer two embryos, no more. (If I were 39 and the embryos were a bad grade and they wouldn’t make it to freeze that might be different…but I am not.) With IUIs he has repeatedly said if I overstim we will convert or cancel. He would never perform an IUI if I had eight follicles ready to pop.

I don’t know the whole situation, so I really shouldn’t judge. But what worries me is stories like these, which are picked up by the media and garner huge amounts of attention, affect how the average person thinks of fertility treatments. To say nothing of how these stories might affect my provincial government as it debates whether or not to fund any sort of ART.

I wish that everyone who wanted to be parents could have that chance. I just wish that some f/s took more care in how they ran their practice. These extreme examples do the rest of us wallowing in the trenches no favours at all.

That’s my soapbox for the day…

In non-ttc news entirely, I am a big fan of the comic strip For Better or For Worse. I’ve been a fan for over two decades now- I literally can’t remember a time when I didn’t read the strip, and she had the great good sense to put it online right about the time that I went away and no longer had daily access to newspapers that carried it.

I’ve always felt an affinity with the strip. My age places me squarely between Michael and Elizabeth. I went to university at the same time they did. I’ve been a teacher (like Elizabeth) and I call myself a writer (like Michael, although I certainly haven’t published books like he has). In a lot of ways I feel like I’ve grown up with it.

Last year Lynn Johnston decided to stop the strip. Oh how I mourned when she made the announcement. It felt like I was losing a friend.

And then she changed her mind. Rather than stopping altogether, she was going to go back to the beginning. She would rerun the earliest strips, pausing along the way to add new segments and explore old plot lines. She’s been doing that for a while now.

And the sad truth? I don’t like it.

I can remember a lot of the older strips (we used to have the books at home), and it jars me every time a new one suddenly appears. They don’t quite match- she can’t entirely mimic her old style of drawing.

It’s more than that, though. In some way it feels like my childhood, my memories are being altered. The strips don’t line up. They don’t flow the same way with the new additions (or interruptions).

It’s a fascinating experiment, and one that I’m sure lots of people will write about. But I don’t think I’m a fan. And that saddens me, because I have loved this strip for as long as I can remember, and its reinvention makes it seem tarnished in my eyes.

Ok, and one thing ttc-related. I’ve now made a page summarizing our ttc timeline. It’s starting to get pretty complicated. Hard to believe we’ve been at it for this long, and this is only cycle #4.

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Gone to soak up the sun…

And thus it is raining. Of course.

But it is summer here, and we are on holidays, and there will be a beach in our not-so-distant future. And I didn’t bring any of my meds (except my thyroid meds) because we aren’t really ttcing when we’re not at the fs, what with my total lack of ovulation and what not. So it feels like a real holiday.

Internet access is scattered. So I am not doing so well with reading, and even less well with commenting. I’ll be back in the new year, ready to face all the challenges that 2009 can throw at me.

And surely, surely I will finish that year as I meant to finish this one. A mother at last, or pregnant at least.

In the meantime, there’s some red wine that needs drinking…

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I’m still here

We still haven’t managed to get internet up and running in our new house (even though we moved in a week ago), so it’s very hard for me to stay up to date. I haven’t read any blogs, but I did read the comments on my last post and I so very much appreciate them. I just got a really hopeless email from my best friend (who knows all about my IF)- her way of trying to make me feel better (at least I think that’s what she was doing) was to point out that it can take several tries before a woman gets pregnant.

Gah.

Anyway, you all know the right things to say, and I so very much appreciated hearing them.

AF is on her way- I can feel it, and I’m taking your advice- Q. and I have agreed that all baby, ttc and IF talk is verboten during September. I think it hit him pretty hard too- he had spent the whole two weeks asking how the twins were doing.

So instead I’m going to concentrate on the other things in my life- the new house (which is amazing- we love it), the new degree (Q. bought me a book on my thesis topic and surprised me with it on the first day of my PhD- I am so lucky), and just generally all the things that I love.

I’ll keep you updated on how I’m travelling.

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Filed under Emotions, Fun, ttc