Squeakers vs the Dolphin

My daughter punched a dolphin.  

“Nope,” she said, pulled back, and slugged him.  

And that’s when I learned my lesson, she is not like my other daughter.  She is not like me.  I needed to travel 4, 500 kilometres away from home to figure that out.  

My youngest daughter and I made our first trip together earlier this year, and chose to start out small and hit up Cuba, mostly because it was something much different than my oldest first trip, but partially because I was concerned that a longer flight might make my always fidgety Squeakers lose her shit.  

We had a wonderful time, did lots of fun stuff.  Tried lots of new things.  But as usual with travelling, the lessons I learned were my best souvenir.  

The first thing I learned is that my youngest talks a lot.  I mean, a lot.  Way more than I could keep up with, or even respond to.  Sometimes she was talking to me.  Sometimes it was to strangers nearby.  And a lot of the times, she was just talking for the sake of talking.  A few times I would interrupt her, hearing that she was in the middle of a conversation that I didn’t know she was part of, question if she was indeed talking to me, only to find out that I was not a part of the conversation and I was not even invited.  

Which begs the question, why didn’t I ever notice that before?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  I couldn’t hear her before.  Unless she is in some sort of distress, and then she can reach decibels that can shatter glass, my youngest speaks softly.  She’s just plain drowned out at home.  Besides the music always playing at home, and my oldest who just overpowers her, I just didn’t hear my little one.  I don’t talk unless I have to (and even then, I have no issues with letting an awkward silence bloom in favour over having to fill it with surface banter) and yet my youngest doesn’t stop.  

The second thing I learned is how much better she is at meeting people than I am.  She introduced me to so many people and told me their life stories.  There was a family who she formed such a bond with that not only did she become best friends with the youngest daughter, but somehow managed to learn the names of the entire family, learn their history, where they lived, and even organized a party at their house when we all got back to Canada.  She had interesting conversations with these people, in both English and French, and I’m struggling and failing to make small talk.  

And the last and most important thing I learned was that she is a details person.  I am not.  Neither is my oldest.  Give me the big picture, and I’ll fill in the details as I go along.  My oldest is the same way.  I tell her the plan, maybe a few pointers if it’s something new, and away we go.  
My youngest needs the details.  She needs to know what size of bus we’ll be travelling on.  She needs to know what we’ll eat while we are there.  She needs to know as many details as I can pour into her head.  She needs to know that when we are swimming with dolphins, the dolphins will be close enough to touch her.

Our morning started out great.  I had told her the night before that we were swimming with dolphins.  She was excited the next morning as I re-told her the plan.

Get ready, get on the bus, go swim with dolphins.

She was still excited when she learned that I neglected to inform her that she would be wearing not only a life jacket, but goggles as well.  

And she was still excited when she learned that I neglected to inform her that we would need to walk down a long pier, climb down a ladder, and float around in an ocean pen with dolphins.  

But when said dolphins started to swim towards her, invading that detail-seeking bubble of hers, well, that was her final straw as far as missing details.  My soft spoken little girl lost her shit.

Fearful that I might not know this detail as well, she let me know, in ear piercing shrills, that the dolphins were getting closer.  

And when that failed to somehow get my attention, she then proceeded to try and drown me by attempting to climb up and stand on my head.  

And when that still failed to get me to move into action, to whisk her away from these dolphins who apparently didn’t know the plan either, she socked that misbehaving marine mammal right in the nose… er… beak.  

Don’t worry, there were no animals harmed in the making of this life lesson.  The dolphin simply swam on, unfazed, and even returned later to try again.  Squeakers and the dolphin made up and hugged it out at the end.  

But my lesson was learned.  I made sure she knew every detail of our adventure the next day.  She was an expert on snorkelling the next day, without ever having donned flippers.  

(Except for the star fish.  But that’s another story.)  

I keep the music just a bit lower now and make sure I listen to for her little voice so she doesn’t become drowned out again.  

A New Adventure

Last year I started a new adventure, which ended up rewriting my entire life.  Sixteen months later and my life barely resembles what it used.  The only mainstay are my girls, and my closest friends who stuck with me through the growing pains.

Part of my adventure was to actually do something with my writing.  I opened up a new site that will feature my novels once they are written.  But in the process, I actually wrote a children’s book as well.  It has been sent to the publisher, edited and translated into French.  The goal is to have it done this summer.

Lucky for me, the publisher allowed me to use my good friend to do the drawings, which I know will mean it takes longer as he is a busy guy, but it also means that it is a complete labour of love for my two lovely ladies who inspired the story and keep me going.  Being that it is a labour of love, I’ve decided to release the children’s books under my own name and not my pen name.

Below are a few rough sketches.  I can’t wait to see the finished copies.  He is so talented, yet so humble.

Bloggy Book Review

While doing research in January, I read many books on blogging.  Here is a review of some of those books…

The Digital Mom Handbook – by Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla
This was a very easy read.  I managed to get halfway through in one evening, even with the kids home.  There seemed to be more hype added to the beginning of the book than was needed, and I suspect that this was needed because they just needed to make it seem longer.
This book is for absolute beginners.  Published in 2011, it talks about Facebook and Twitter as though they were rather new things, and even explains how you can set up a Facebook page.
Centered on “Mom blogs”, this book offered little for those wanting something different, other than how to advertise said blog.  It mentions little about the actual content of the blog.  There’s even a section about balancing your family life with your sudden successful blogging life, as thought it might be just that… sudden.
Honestly, I feel like this was just a money grab for the authors, offering up just the bare minimum of advice, way too many ‘see how easy it is’ tidbits from other mom bloggers, while keeping the real trade secrets and struggles to themselves.  I barely read, only skimmed the second half.  Got few ideas, but mostly on marketing myself.
WordPress for DummiesLisa Sabin-Wilson
I had high hopes for this book as I’ve read many ‘Dummy’ books, most of which were very helpful.  (Does that make me a dummy in multiple subjects or an anti – dummy because I read them?)  Touches on hosted and self hosting WordPress as well as the (bare) basics of html coding, but more of as explanation of what the user is seeing on the screen than a ‘how to’ section, and then a large section on themes.  Over all decent beginners technical manual.  (For those interested in HTML, there’s a Dummies book for that too.)

Blogging for Writers – Robin Houghton For those of you who even have the foggiest idea of how to set up a blog on either Blogger or WordPress,  skip to Chapter 5.  This is where the actually writing info starts.  It offers suggestions on the actual post content itself, style, images and resources.  This one centered less on money, and more on just being known as a writer, and offered the most suggestions on how to get your blog out there and seen.

How to Blog a Book – Nina Amir
If you know anything about blogging, skip chapter on one.  I can sum it up in two sentences.   People get book deals based on their blogs.  Anyone can have a blog.
The remainder of the book seemed to be a bit down on the ‘book publishing’ industry.  Chapter 9 had some interesting insights into the biz and how little money there is in the actual publishing  of a book, and how multiple streams of income will be needed in order to work full-time as a writer.  Interesting.
Over all, I found the book repeated itself a lot, going over the same points chapter to chapter.

“Suicide is Painless”

The Chicago Ambassador

A column by Michael Lopez. 

Photo by Megan Boguszko. Photo by Megan Boguszko.

Despite the lyrics to the famous song, what I know now and what I believe now is that nothing about suicide is painless. The act itself may be brief and painless, with death coming like a whisper to take you away into the unknown. However, the profound grief, despair and pain that lead one to such a desperate act of self loathing must be excruciating beyond belief. And yet, sometimes it can be so easily masked by a façade of peace and calm. As one of many who have experienced the loss of a dear friend from suicide, I can tell you I didn’t see or feel it coming. I had no intuition and no sixth sense. And it left a wake of grief, sadness and questions as you can imagine. In short, suicide is devastating and thousands of families have…

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Shona

Rain pounds the tin roof.  I think that was thunder.  Audible even over the V8. And I’m sweating to death. Like a whore in church. That’s how she says it. Sweating to death; that’s funny. 
My shirt clings from sweat. Pinstripe shirt as she prefers.  Leaning back, clenching the wheel.  My gut touches it now.  So many years lost: wasted.  I want a window opened.  Its too late for that.  The windows are sealed shut.  My arms feel so heavy.  They surrender to the leather.  Memories are in these seats.  A connection to better days.  She never understood keeping Shona.  Both of us gone together.  Two birds with one stone.
I’ve tried to be strong. Tried to swallow my pills.  Talk away the lingering suffocation.  Nothing takes away the taste.  Can’t wash out my mouth.  I’ve gone through the motions.  Did what I was told.  Numbed myself to the pain.  Death’s potentent medicine is strong.  More than I really need.  Nothing else has cured me.  Can’t stop living without death.
She’ll find the note there.  On the bedside table frame.  On point to the backyard. I wrote it all down.  Gave clear instructions and directions. A map to new life.  Explained the release in preparations.  The clarity in my decision.  She’ll find me here after.  I hope I am smiling. 
This car seems so small.  Maybe she won’t be mad.  I did this for her.  She’ll see why very soon.  The rumbling engine is soothing.  I feel sleepy: I’m drifting.  It hurts more than expected. 

Vroom

I don’t own a car.  I have no intention of owning a car.   I live a city big enough to have a transit system and no reason to move to a place that doesn’t.  And people think I’m crazy.

I’ve heard strange arguments, about owning a car would mean i wouldn’t need to be as organized as I am.  I”m not sure how, since it seems I would just be trading one set of organization for another.  I’ve heard that I’m missing out on things because I don’t have a car, but considering most of those people haven’t even left the country, never mind travelled as much as I have, I’m pretty sure I’m doing ok.  I’ve also just had people who were completely baffled with my choice, can’t fathom how I function without one.

I can’t afford a car.  And I don’t mean in the sense of not having enough money, I mean in the sense that I can’t afford to give up my current lifestyles just so I can have a luxury of having a car.

Let’s do some math.

The average cost of car insurance in Ontario where I live was $1544 in 2012.  If i were to purchase a 10-year-old ford taurus car, and use the calculator here, it would cost me about $4940 per year to own a car. That’s about $370 a month… I currently spend approx $118 per month so owning a car would only three times as much.  And in the summer, my transportation costs are even less because I walk and bike everywhere.

Owning cars have hidden costs that most people take into consideration.  If a car person runs out of milk, they drive to the grocery store, pick up milk, and probably a bunch of other things as well and goes home.  If I run out of (soy) milk, I wait until the next time I plan to do a grocery run.  I do without.

You know what else car people do?  Shop.  Out of boredom.  That saves me a ton too.

I find car people become too dependant on their car.  If their car is busted, they are trapped in their house.  Car problems, well, they just don’t go to work.  I actually had a friend who cancelled an outing with me, because they had lent their car to someone else.  Meanwhile there was a bus stop in front of their house, and they were meeting me at the bus station.

So, yes, I may be crazy for not owning a car.  And yes, random spontaneous road trips to the beach are out of the question.  But I don’t have the stress of owning a car.  And my car doesn’t make me broke.  A small sacrifice as far as I’m concerned.

What are your thoughts?  Have I overlooked something huge in my protest to own a car?  Thoughts are welcome.