Tag: parenting

I’m not saying I’m Wonder Woman…

…I’m just saying that no-one has ever seen me and Wonder Woman in the same room at the same time.

It has (as usual) been a very busy few weeks – nay, months and I haven’t had time to do anything other than The Immediate Project, Dr Coffee’s Cafe. No blog posts, no poetry nights, no beer club (although that is also the fault of pregnancy), no letters to friends, etc etc.  Saying that though, I do feel like I’ve achieved quite a lot.

UAS For a start, I quit the day job. This is MASSIVE. An achievement in that I stood it for so long in the first place (or as my dearest friend Rumble would put it: “I can’t believe they haven’t fired you!”), but also in leaving a job whilst still feeling relatively good about the place. I had more than a few run-ins with our immediate supervisor, I didn’t have a lot of respect for his ‘management style’, shall we say and worse, I’m sure he was well aware of that, but it didn’t stop me making some very good friends there. Whatever else I can say about the place, it was a very stable job with a great team of colleagues, and provided me with a steady income and benefits when I needed it most, in return for very little effort on my part. Dealing with the tedium of the work was harder than the work itself. Leaving at this point (on Friday 13th, no less) was either very brave, or very stupid. Had I stayed, I would have got the very generous Canadian one year maternity leave on full pay. Now of course, I get diddly-squat. Was paid mat leave worth hanging around being bored to tears for another few months and passing up the opportunity to open the cafe? I’d like to think not!

Oh, it was my birthday just before I quit work. I am 32, and I couldn’t even have a beer on my birthday. Worse, a few weeks later I got an invite to a Highworth School reunion – we all finished school FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Somehow that doesn’t feel like something to celebrate!

Not having the office job has meant “plenty of time” (ahem) to work on Dr Coffee’s Cafe. However, it definitely has not been as easy as just me setting the place up. In fact, my newly-retired parents came out here for a whole month, to help me work on it as well. Dad naively thought he would run out of things to do in a month and so even got me to download “historical walking tours of Regina” maps in case they got bored. Those maps really do exist, I kid ye not.

Anyway, the Parents were both wonderful and Dad single-handedly built both the front and back bars in the cafe space, learned the layout of Home Depot, Rona and Lowes blindfolded, got thoroughly frustrated with a malevolent spirit level, and achieved more in 3 weeks than our idiot contractors did in 3 and a half months. Mum and I painted (a long task given I can’t bend or lift things or stand on ladders too often and she can’t kneel at the moment) and organised things and cleaned and we got it soooo close… but not quite finished. It was incredibly disappointing not being able to get it open before they had to leave, but we certainly wouldn’t be anywhere near opening day without them!! They did see the full range of Saskatchewan winter in that month as well, which seemed to amuse them. They arrived when it was still 30 degrees below zero, saw a snow storm or two, appreciated the crisp icy sunshine, Mum even mastered winter-driving, and then they saw The Melt, followed quickly by The Floods. Fun and games! We also managed “day off” trips to Moose Jaw spa, a snow festival in Fort Qu’appelle, a trip around Lumsden to see if it had sufficient hills for them to consider moving there, a night out at the Globe theatre, tobogganing with Miri and a mini-not-quite-launch-party at the cafe. I really hope they enjoyed themselves! Here’s some pics:

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The New-Human Growing process is going fairly well so far as well- I am feeling slightly less sick and disgusting now that I’m over half way, the giant boobs are back, it is booting its giant feet about in there happily and as far as they could tell from the scan (where it was hiding and refusing to cooperate) – she is a she. On that basis, Carl and I have nearly decided on a name already. But I’m not telling what it is. Miranda, and Granny and Grandad all managed to come with me for the scan, and Miri was utterly agog, blown away by seeing inside Mummy’s tummy. She desperately wants a sister, and actually wants me to “put it back” if it’s a boy…  uh oh.

It's a mighty big Timbit now!
It’s a mighty big Timbit now!

So, quite a bit going on. I’m exhausted, I feel like I’ve not spoken to my friends in ages, I’ve completely forgotten about some social engagements, and I’ve not been anywhere except the cafe for weeks. BUT, I feel like I am coping remarkably well given the  circumstances. Getting a brand new business off the ground is stressful anyway, especially in a new country where you don’t understand all the regulations, let alone whilst pregnant and with a very loud nearly-five year old in tow, and when both the husband and business partner are working full time at other, completely unrelated jobs. We may not be open just yet, but even Wonder Woman needs a nap sometimes, I’m sure.

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Little House on the Prairie

I have never seen that show. Ever. Is that a bad thing?

In other news:

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This is VERY exciting, especially after the miserable summer. I’m 14 weeks now, feeling very sick and lethargic (still), we’ve had a scan and all seems to be well in there. I’m due at the end of July, which of course is going to complicate cafe matters no end, but something will work out, it always does!
What’s this got to do with Little House on the Prairie? I hear you ask. There is a tentative connection, I promise. I have a friend who is also pregnant now, and we’ve been discussing all sorts of things baby-related, including nausea, the cost of giant bras,  exhaustion, how sympathetic are husbands are(n’t), the lost art of sewing, hospitals and midwives, and restricted diets.  She misses wine. I miss wine too, and watching Carl drink beer over Christmas was not particularly fun at all.. grr… but actually I am usually too sick to contemplate the idea of alcohol anyway.
But why can’t I have wine? She wails. “In medieval times, they drunk beer and wine all the time because the water was too dirty, and they all had babies quite happily….” A good point, though I am doubtful about the “happily” part. I also pointed out that not only was the beer much, much weaker, they also used alcohol as one of the few forms of painkiller, despite high infant mortality rates they had no way of diagnosing foetal-alcohol syndrome anyway, and a great many women died in childbirth too. Apparently, this means I am no fun.
I have been having random attacks of creativity recently, and I am wondering whether this is part of the “nesting” instinct – I certainly haven’t been filled with the desire to clean my house or anything. But I did attempt to sew a baby sleeping bag and ‘upcycle’ an old t-shirt into a swaddling blanket for summer. Neither attempt was particularly successful. This is how we got on to talk of Little House on the Prairie. I’m not sure exactly when it is set, but Pregnant Friend was saying how the family had to cope with the horrific prairie winters with little food and no coal, and how overjoyed they always were in the spring when the train finally arrived again and brought fabric so they could make new clothes.
It is a fairly safe assumption that neither of us would cope at all in those conditions – if the enormous trains running behind my house actually stopped and brought fabric supplies in the spring, we still wouldn’t know what to do with it. Though I think I might have the edge over my friend, especially when she says things like “I’d just curl up and DIE if I had to walk to work in the snow while pregnant” – erm, welcome to my world, dear… First world problems, indeed.
I have had similar discussions with other Mummy friends, some of whom are considerably more “naturally-minded” than I am. Some of them sew. Most Upcycle – (a word I believe has no place outside Pinterest) One had a water birth. There were doulas involved. Some even go as far as using all-natural, home made, environmentally friendly cleaning products. Crusty parenting, basically, though in Canada it is adorably called “crunchy”. Of course I respect their choices, and to them I must seem like a heartless cynic, but my real issue here is just the loose and liberal use of the word “Natural”.
I have a midwife now and I have every intention of breastfeeding, and I like using slings. (Babywearing to me, sounds like you have skinned your offspring and are using it as a scarf or something) This is about as crusty/crunchy as I get. However, I WILL have a natural birth, but I am not living on the set of Little House on the Prairie. Natural is not the same thing as “traditional”, and just because we always used to do it one way, doesn’t mean we should continue. It is 2015. Natural, for a white, Westernised woman living in one of the richest countries in the world, means hospital birth with medical experts on hand and as many free drugs as possible!!

The things that go unspoken.

One month of Blog Silence has passed, but so much has happened I don’t know where to begin writing it all up. And I don’t really know how, either.
I have been writing recently, but in purple biro in one of my many expensive notebooks. And what I wrote does not really bear re-reading, let alone publishing. I was thinking of turning it in to some sort of slam poetry piece, but unlike many others, I Don’t Do Emotion at those events. My default mode is Flippancy and that is where I am most comfortable. However, to misquote someone academic: “The cutting edge is never found in the comfort zone, but it isn’t necessarily in la-la-land either.” La-la Land does sound quite appealing right now though.

The fact remains that something happened to me, to us, that rarely gets talked about. So much so that nothing could have prepared us for the experience, even if we had been fully aware of the possibility. I had no point of reference to frame an understanding of it all. But I know I am not alone in experiencing this, and so for that reason I shall endeavour to explain, perhaps more for my own sanity but hopefully for other people’s as well.

In brief terms, I was pregnant, and now I’m not. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks in.

We actually found out when we were in Edmonton, I took the test the day after Miranda’s birthday. I suspected anyway, but Carl was a bit shell shocked that it had happened so quickly as we hadn’t been trying very long at all, and of course Granny and Grandad were over the moon about it. We kept it quiet, only told our nearest and dearest and I didn’t mention it on the blog, just in case the worst happened. Oh the irony!! I had my first ultrasound at 11 weeks in because I had a few symptoms of Something Being Not Quite Right – but baby was there on the screen, with a tiny heartbeat and about the size of a Timbit. So at that point, we got incredibly excited and told *everyone* – my work, all our friends, and I even sent cryptic little postcards to everyone back in the UK about ‘spilling the beans’.

Those postcards took a week or so to arrive, and by the time they did, I was back in hospital being told to horrible news that Timbit hadn’t grown at all and no longer had a heartbeat, and all the while getting congratulatory messages from my friends as they read their snail mail.

The doctors tried to comfort us in the hospital by pointing out quite how common miscarriage is. 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage before 9 weeks in, and 1 in 5 at 12 weeks. We had got through the first hurdle, but were in amongst the unlucky 20% at the second milestone. Of course I was aware of the possibility, (which is why you’re always advised to wait to tell people until you’re in the second trimester), but One in Five is A LOT. I had no idea at all it was that many. But, as I made tearful announcements, so many of my friends suddenly came out and told me about their miscarriages, or about the someone they knew who’d had one and so on. It was astounding.

I am apparently at the age now where most of my friends also have kids, usually more than one now as well. My friends also usually fall into the category of loud, unreserved and open sort of people, unafraid to share even the most gruesome details. We talk about Poo as a normal topic of conversation, or leaky nipples, or discuss ways to actually have a sex life without traumatising the kids who won’t sleep through the night,  graphic, gory birth stories around the campfire, that sort of thing. But nobody ever mentions miscarriage. Never. It can be gruesome, but it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s not shameful, just heartbreaking. And it seems to happen to an awful lot of us. So why the silence?

Knowing that it does happen so frequently is little comfort – my brain still wants to know “why couldn’t we have been in the lucky 80%? Why us? Why now?” or worse, “what did I do wrong/what’s wrong with me?” and there are no answers to any of those. Timbit just didn’t want to be, and it has taken me a long time to accept that and process the experience. I think maybe people don’t talk about it because not having the answers is still as scary as the physical experience itself. Knowing that you have no control over your own body makes you very, very vulnerable, and no one ever wants to admit vulnerability. But knowing that I’m not alone, that other people, friends have been through the same thing – that does help, a little. So talk about it I shall, to anyone who needs to hear it.

I am a sad turtle.
I am a sad turtle.

Pies and Prejudice

(Titled borrowed from  Stuart Maconie’s very funny book about Northern Britain)

Canadians don’t tend to write dates backwards like Americans do. (ie: 03/04 would be the third of April, not the 4th of March). However, they do celebrate PI-Day, the 14th March (“3.14”). So, we had a potluck lunch at work on 14th, and my contribution was Pi-pie.

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Pi-pie. Next time I will make it in a casserole dish and call it Pie R Squared.

At least this time, people got it! What they didn’t understand though was my love of savoury pies. That one was Caribbean style with beef and loads of peppers and I confused them all before when I made a giant Cornish pasty. Here, pies are sweet, and bakeries only serve doughnuts. I miss Greggs!!

***

This is Hilary and I. Yes I am dressed as a drunken mountie. Hils was being a pirate.
This is Hilary and I. Yes I am dressed as a drunken mountie. Hils was being a pirate. A normal Saturday evening.

Best news ever: My MAD geeky friends are coming out to visit!! Hilary and D, those sarcastic folk from London famous for Lego, working at the BBC and naked sauna parties, and who made comments about us being insane for moving somewhere so cold – they are voluntarily coming here. Not until October unfortunately, but YAAAAAAAAY anyway.

As soon as I heard this news, I wrote them a postcard, to prepare them for their arrival in this alien culture. It said something along the lines of:

“We will get cold watching the hockey, eh? But we can eat maple doughnuts and roll up the rims on our Timmies double-doubles, while somewhere nearby (about 5 hours away) a moose will nod appreciatively. Don’t forget your toques!”

Believe it or not, that was not (just) an exercise in ‘how many Canadian stereotypes can I fit on one postcard?” – I genuinely believe they will have NO IDEA what “Timmies,” “toques” or “double-doubles” are. They don’t measure distance in hours, and I’m fairly confident that D will think “rolling up the rim” is a sex act. He still hasn’t got over the concept of the Regina Farmers’ market, poor boy.

***

Last week I was sitting nervously wearing a 10 year old suit jacket and feeling like a complete berk, having a very high pressure discussion about my future job prospects. I faced the usual questions relatively well, or so I thought – research skills, can I do quantitative?  Why Coffee? Why Regina? yadayadayada. Then came the question that threw me off-guard. “So, you’re an anthropologist; what cultural differences have you noticed here?”

GULP.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many cultural differences between here and the UK, and probably even quite a few between Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada, but explaining them eloquently under pressure without offending anyone was beyond me. I made some awfully vague comments about everyone being friendlier, and fortunately managed to sidetrack the conversation away by pointing out how everything is designed around the car here. Which is true, and something I am acutely aware of and can’t seem to get used to, but it is certainly not the most striking cultural difference. The devil is in the details as they say. Things like not eating savoury pies, the innate apology-reflex and the adorable national obsession with a gimmicky competition designed to flog cheap coffee.

Some of the stereotypes do ring true. Canadians are very polite, but it’s not always a good thing. You can be deterred and unnerved by politeness, or lulled into a false sense of security. I didn’t get that job, but the woman who interviewed me sure as hell wasn’t going to tell me that. She was too polite. In some ways, that is even more infuriating.

On the surface, everyone is very friendly here, courteous and considerate – and they know they are, hence the “I’m sorry we’re so awesome” memes after the Winter Olympics! It is also much more classless in comparison with the UK. Back there, no one was too fond of claiming what ‘class’ they fitted in to, but it was constantly in the collective consciousness. There were the usual references to ‘middle class Guardian readers’ or some posh toff politician claiming to come from a “normal working class background”. Yes, I’m sure you did grow up on an estate, Cameron… your family just happened to own it…. Here, however, there is none of that. I’m well aware that I live in a nice comfortable middle class and lefty-liberal bubble, but very few call it ‘a middle class area’.

That is not to say that ‘classism’ or other forms of prejudice don’t exist though. I recently had an eye-opening discussion with a friend about our local schools.  As of yesterday, Connaught school where Miranda went to pre-kindergarten, is officially no more. http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Saskatchewan/ID/2339282560/

It will be closed in June, and then knocked down. (This topic deserves a blog post all to itself but it makes me so angry that it’s taken ages to start writing, and each time I do, something else happens to make me need to rewrite!). Anyway, there has been outrage in the local community, and the school board couldn’t have handled it worse if they’d tried. In what passed for “public consultation”, the parents were given different options of what should happen next – where the kids could go in the interim between the school being knocked down, and them (hopefully) building another one. To my mind, none of the options were remotely plausible – and as it turns out, futile too, since the eventual outcome completely disregarded the views of the parents anyway. One option, which the school board finally decided on this week, was to bus all the kids over to Wascana school, which is currently standing empty. The Wascana school kids are now in the brand new Seven Stones school. At the public consultation meeting back in February, this idea was suggested, and shouted down with boos from the parents. I confess ignorance here: I didn’t know where Wascana school is, and I didn’t know why it was empty. As the name suggests, I thought it was some school near Wascana lake, and I thought it was empty because it was falling down or something – and that was why it was an unpopular choice.

As it turns out, Wascana School is nowhere the lake. In fact, it is above the train tracks from here, in the North Central neighbourhood, otherwise known as “the hood”. I’ve mentioned it before on here. Before we moved, I was warned by several people not to move to that area. Now we’re here, I have had other parents aghast that I took Miri to Scott Collegiate for the Early Years Family Centre there, because it involved walking through the hood. I never had any problems whatsoever up there, and I always felt far, far safer there and more comfortable than I did just walking between my house and my own business back in Darlington. But no, apparently, these polite, courteous, laid back, liberal and classless Canadians won’t send their little darlings to a school the wrong side of the tracks. And their reasoning, conscious or otherwise, is worthy of another blog post all to itself because it is even more disturbing!

Not Unemployed!

As of Friday, I am officially, erm, non-unemployed, to put it much grammarously.

After what feels like YONKS of job hunting, I finally found something when I wasn’t really looking, in a place I honestly didn’t expect to. Marianne and I went to a jobs fair last week; it was mainly full of potash and construction jobs, and lots of shiny posters of people wearing hard hats and grinning inanely. Frankly, I didn’t hold out much hope of anyone wanting to hire someone with a Phd in coffee, so Miri and I were really just there for the freebies. In that respect, we did very well indeed. Miranda scored herself two rubber ducks from SIAST, a frisbee from CIBC bank, and dozens of pens and a few bribery-flavoured lollipops. It was on a quest for another lolly that we came across the SGI stall (for non-Reginans, that is Saskatchewan Government Insurance. Yep, insurance is nationalised, well, provincially-owned here, sooooooooo much easier than comparing and negotiating with hundreds of extortionate companies in the UK!!). A very friendly guy called Jim asked if I was looking for work, I said yes, but also that I’d applied to SGI back in June and never heard a squeak back. He explained that they usually just recruit at entry level, and then promote people internally. He took a look at my resume anyway, and said he felt “under qualified” in comparison! I can’t help feeling my qualifications are pretty useless though – he has a job, I don’t!

(An aside, and RANT KLAXON! we watched BBC Question Time the other night, with the Tories’ new and inventive ways of torturing the poor: apparently if you haven’t got a job and you’re under 25, you should go back and live with your parents so you can’t claim housing benefit, do community service in order to get your already-reduced unemployment benefit – thus putting people who get paid properly to do community service jobs out of work – and if you are STILL out of work, go back to school and learn new skills. Which is only ever going to result in a lot of drastically over-skilled, over-educated unemployed people chasing low-skilled, part time, minimum wage jobs, and up to their eyeballs in debt from university or college fees. Cos that is the perfect solution, right? Idiots.)

But moving swiftly on… the next day, Jim called me to invite me to an interview, and through a roundabout series of events including doing obscure HR tests for admin work, I got offered a job at SGI! This is brilliant news!! It’s only entry-level, but it’s a foot in the door at least, and could lead on to more exciting things. It being insurance, I’ve had to sign confidentiality agreements and things, so I can’t go in to too much detail on here obviously – fairly easy to agree to since I really don’t feel like I know what I’m doing yet anyway. I start on the 16th, so hopefully all will be revealed then!

Which does mean though, that I have ten days to try and find child care for Miranda again. This could prove tricky. Ugh.

I’ve been doing more poetry! It was Culture Days last weekend, and there was another poetry slam at the Mercury. We actually got to write in advance this time, so I was a little more prepared and wrote an empassioned rant about all the jobs we have to do under the umbrella term, ‘Mum’  This one was *just* before I got offered the job though. Maybe I should have polemicised far earlier!

Miranda’s new pre-school

Last week my Big Grown Up baby went off to pre-school – or at least, pre-Kindergarten, for the first time.

DSCF7447She’s at Connaught Community School, and she does four mornings a week in the pre-K in a class of 16. We have had to get used to getting up a lot earlier to drop her off! Connaught is a 101 yr old community school, which also does French Immersion teaching (but not for Miri’s age group sadly, she needs to be a bit bigger yet!). It’s also under threat of demolition, which is why we were there dressed up for the Olde Tyme Picnic a few weeks ago. 101 years old is *very* old for Regina (heck , this whole country hasn’t been  a nation state for 150 years yet) but sadly the building hasn’t been well-maintained, and some overpaid geniuses somewhere in a planning office have decreed that it would be simpler and cheaper to tear it down and build a new one instead of repairing and maintaining a Heritage building. And of course that decision was made months ago on the quiet with no obvious public consultation and in the face of immense community opposition when it eventually did come to light.  My friend wrote an open letter to Saskatchewan’s Premier, Brad Wall, about Connaught, and she put it far more eloquently than I can! Read it here at The Regina Mom .

Anyway, assuming the building will be here long enough for Miranda to enjoy her first experience of school, off we toddled down the road at a ghastly time of day. The first morning, she was fairly shy even though we’d visited before and met the teachers before, but it all seemed a little different with loads of other kids running around in there. I stayed for the first half an hour or so to make sure she was OK, helped her get her coat and (handmade by Me) Peso backpack on the peg with her name on it, and tried to persuade her to sit down with the others. They played the Canadian National Anthem over the tanoy system! Is this normal in Canada? Better than having to sing hymns in assembly I suppose, but most of the children just fidgeted and looked confused, and the parents looked all uncomfortable about not knowing the words.

“Oh Canada,ba dum bum bum be dum…”

William Shatner’s version

On the second morning, Miranda just kissed me goodbye and dived straight into playing with the dolls house, until the teacher tried to round them all up for their registration. By the third day, she went straight in, sat down at the desk with her new friend Anyam, just said “Bye then Mummy” and didn’t even notice when I left!! So, safe to say she’s enjoying it! It has made a difference already; there have been far fewer tantrums, and she’s even having naps again in the afternoon (if only when I push her into town in the pushchair, admittedly!) Famous firsts also include now being able to draw an M for her name, and the ability to draw convincing faces complete with googly eyes. Ambidextrously. Mummy is PROUD.

So now, I have nearly twelve glorious child-free hours per week, AND nap time! What on earth do I do with myself??? This last week I’ve been Writing Things gratuitously for this month’s Word Up Wednesday, but it has felt very very odd in such a quiet house.  I felt all lost and lonesome the first day I dropped her off! But so proud of my baby… Maybe this free time will allow me to actually write something decent soon, or finally get around to finishing the coffee papers for uni, or even tidy up….Nah, I won’t kid myself about that last one…

I did find the time to turn myself into a zombie and participate in the 6th Annual Regina Zombie Walk, in aid of the Food Bank today though.

BRAAAAAINNZZZZZ!!!
BRAAAAAINNZZZZZ!!!

How to amuse a child all summer

It was Canada Day last week, and we celebrated my 2nd and Carl’s first 1st July Festivities. I am stupidly excited about Summer (it’s felt summery since the snow melted, admittedly), because this year Carl is here to enjoy it all with me. The stupidly hot temperatures have now hit though and I have to admit that the following is written on the proviso that you have enough energy and suncream for these activities to be possible. And bug spray. TONNES of bug spray.

When we are not lethargic with the heat or too busy scratching our bites, Miranda and I have been adventuring again. I love that I am still discovering new things, even after being here for over a year now. To make our outings more challenging, we have a few perimeters: everything we do must be in walking or at least, tricycling distance, and they have to be free. This is not self-inflicted, skinflint health-freakishness, but has anyone in Regina even found a bus recently?? With all the roadworks downtown, ALL the bus stops have been moved, and Regina Transit Live is, woefully, not Live enough to be able to tell me where the new bus stops are, let alone what time the routes are running now.  And I’d prefer to spend my tight budget on icecream than bus fare and entrance fees. With those ground rules in place, here’s the Miranda-approved weekly guide to the Regina Summer.

MONDAY: Edumacate Yerself.

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Outside the Science Centre

Go to a Museum! Admittedly, not all of them are free, but the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (otherwise known as The Dinosaur Museum) is entrance by donation so we donate whatever we can afford. Now they have the Paleo Pit open full time again, Miri and I have been spending a lot of time there.

We also LOVE the Science Centre. Again, not free, but my parents kindly bought us a family membership for the year, so we can now go whenever we want. The family memberships are great value, as if we go more than three times, then we’ve got the money back already. It also gets us into other Science centres all over the world, including, amusingly, the Life Centre in Newcastle, UK!

TUESDAY: Hang out at the Library.

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The RPL Red Piano

Libraries are cool, obviously. One of the first things I found to like about Regina was the way that people queued up, patiently in the rain on Sunday afternoons, waiting for the Central library to open. It’s just brilliant.  We frequent Connaught and the Central library, and occasionally the George Bothwell when there is something on down there – and there’s ALWAYS something going on. I used to take Miri to Toddler Time at the Connaught branch every Tuesday, and she loved it, but now that has finished for the summer, there’s still loads happening, puppet shows, films, craft workshops, the drop-in storytimes, etc etc, and there’s even just toys and things to amuse kiddies when the programs finish. And of course, there is currently, inexplicably, a bright red piano outside the Central Library. You know you’re not in Britain when a piano appears in a public space, and hasn’t been vandalised/stolen/used as a toilet/set on fire.

WEDNESDAY: Try out the Early Years Family Centres

There’s two, but our nearest is at the Scott Collegiate, which is supposedly, ‘the wrong side of the tracks’. Such is the location that a few Mums in my acquaintance initially refused to go up there. Their loss! It’s a half-hour walk (with kids!) or a pleasant 5 minute cycle from the apparent ‘safety’ of Cathedral. I’m sure Bad Things do happen up there, but as yet, they have never happened to me and I don’t see why I should let the vague paranoia of others detract from a good day out. North Central has nothing on Darlington, I reckon.

Music with Shaya at Scott Collegiate
Music with Shaya at Scott Collegiate

Anyway… Scott Collegiate has a wonderful early years facility, where kids can just play around all day. The collection of toys is fantastic – no TV spin-off merchandise, no pink princessy plastic crap, few things make irritating noises, it’s just simple toys. And painting. And chalking. And drums. And bugs and magnifying glasses. And a lightbox. And a tent. And books. And a mini treehouse. And a play kitchen. And coffee and big comfy sofas for us parents too. All free, all day, every day. They’ve just started doing a Music session on Wedneday mornings, and there’s a children’s cooking group starting soon too. Go. It’s wonderful.

ADDITIONAL BONUS ACTIVITY: Get Stuck Behind a Train on the Way Back Down Elphinstone Street and Have To Wait Half An Hour Breathing In Smelly SUV Fumes While On A Bike In The Heat, with Child Bouncing Excitedly Yelling “LOOK MUMMY! TRAIN! ‘NOTHER TRAIN! BIIG TRAIN!” Incessantly As It Passes.

THURSDAY: Get wet!

Spray parks or Water parks or splash parks or whatever you want to call them are now officially our New Best Things Ever. We got as far as the spray park down by the South end leisure centre. It looked far closer on the map!! I was half dead by the time I got there, cycling in that heat! But it was awesome.  There’s nothing better than dancing under a dragon that spits cold water at you on a hot day… oh and the kids enjoyed it too!

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Kiwanis Waterfall Park

We’ve also made it to the Wascana Pool – I love swimming outdoors! Only free if your kids are under 2 though. If all else fails, you can also go stick your feet, or your entire daughter, in the waterfall at Kiwanis Park.

 

 

FRIDAY: Find a Parents Group

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Playing “how many people can I fit in my living room?”

There are a lot of them in Regina, but it’s only recently that I’ve been getting involved with them. When we first came over, I was working full time and wouldn’t have had the chance to go, even if I’d thought of it. There’s Y’s Mums (as in, part of the YMCA), Regina Moms, even something called MOPS (Moms Of Pre-Schoolers). I go to a Thing on Mondays which is just Cathedral parents getting together for playdates, and then the Globally Minded Mums and Dad’s group on Fridays, which involves watching documentaries then discussing them once a week while the kids run around someone’s yard. We have the unwritten rule that Tidying Is Unnecessary too. The groups really help the house-bound craziness, and it’s nice to occasionally discuss something that isn’t potty training, teething or breastfeeding! We seem to have got a lot in common other than kids as well. I’ve even met “Regina Celebrities” through the Friday group, such as CBC’s Nichole Huck, and Dr Marc Spooner. [Stop name dropping! – Ed]

 

SATURDAY: Go to a Festival

The Plywood Cup at the Canada Day celebrations
The Plywood Cup at the Canada Day celebrations

There is ALWAYS a festival on in Regina. I swear there is one every weekend – I guess because everyo ne is forced to hibernate over the winter. Two weeks ago, we discovered it was “multicultural day” and there were dancers at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Last week was obviously Canada Day, and we duly got sunburnt, watched people in the Plywood Cup fall in the lake and saw a bit of the Strongest Man competition, which was fun! This weekend is apparently I Love Regina day, so we shall go and celebrate proudly, possibly with my beloved Poetry Slam at the Creative City Centre. After that, theres the Fringe Festival (Yay!), Queen City Ex, Folk festival, the Summer Invasion, and the Dragon Boat Festival to name but a few!

SUNDAY: Find a Giant Animal, then celebrate it’s existence by having a barbecue in it’s honour.

Rusty the Elephant
Rusty the Elephant

There are a lot of Giant Animals in Saskatchewan, and not just animals either (see aforementioned Giant Coffeepot of Davidson). In Regina, we have a large grasshopper on Albert Street and College, Rusty the Elephant at the library and the buffalo thing downtown, the oversized geese outside the Connexus Credit building, a large beaver in the Les Sherman park, a huge frog in the college grounds, the weird anteater/Clanger things outside the Neil Balkwill centre and apparently there’s a big chicken somewhere too. All delightfully eccentric and need celebrating.

If you can’t find one, go and draw one at the Studio Sundays session at the MacKenzie. Then be sure to go barbecue as many bits of dead animal as you can stand to eat. Om nom nom!

 

There you go, the whole week occupied on the tiniest of tiny budgets, kids amused and somewhat educated without resorting to the TV-shaped-babysitter, no petrol burnt, and as much time spent out in the summer sun as possible!

I’m exhausted.