I am a self diagnosed night owl and have a problem going to bed, in the same token when I stay up till all hours of the night (technically morning) I am not exactly excited in the morning when my alarm goes off. I do however have a great appreciation for the early morning hours the rare time I experience them. I like that the floor is cool on my feet and the weather hasn’t quite been decided. I like the smell of fresh brewed coffee and the warmth of a fuzzy robe. I like the sound of the traffic as early morning commuters start their day. However I also like the quiet of the late evening hours with pale shimmering moonlight struggling to peek through the slats in the blinds. I am writing by candlelight with the drone of classic rock radio in the background contemplating how I can manage to enjoy my late evenings and still manage to see early mornings. It seems a challenge, especially for someone like me who also enjoys sleep. It was 3 am this morning when I crawled into bed. I love that feeling of lying on my belly, stretching out my limbs and sinking into the warm comfort of my bed, quickly contemplating my day and taking a moment to smile and be thankful for the good parts.
This week I was extra thankful for a long weekend, it really seemed to last for an eternity. On Friday Morgan turned 14. Where does the time go? Hubby is away working so we decided to take off after the Remembrance day ceremony at school and have a girls fun day! Morgan had the opportunity to design her custom Antiks .
Antik Skate Boots are born of passion, design and quality, brought together by Mo Sanders aka “Quadzilla”, a lifetime skater who put his heart and soul into the process and design of the way roller skate boots were made. Morgan started Roller Derby when she was ten (almost 11) and these are her dream skates. They are pricey but I am told they are worth every penny.
After a day a Roller Skate shopping, clothes shopping and dinner we picked up a friend of hers and one of mine and we went to the local Roller Disco. My friend commented on how it appears that Morgan seems at home on skates and this is true. On skates she feels free and content. Haley as well loves the freedom of skating till your hearts content with disco lights and loud music. I admit it is hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere. I am not fearless like my girls but I strapped on a pair of vintage rentals and happily rolled around to classics such as I love Rock and Roll and Don’t Stop Believin. I really did have fun.
Morgan introduced me to the world of live streaming movies so I watched more movies in one weekend then I usually watch in a year. At one point Morgan and I were curled up in front of a roaring fire watching a romantic comedy while Haley gallivanted around the rec-room in her make-shift dance attire watching Dance Moms on YouTube and making her own dance routines. Then Haley would come hang with me while Morgan watched the WFTDA championships (Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Assoc.).
I got to hug my girls, stay up late, sleep in, make good meals, read stories of war recollections out loud so that they can truly understand the meaning behind Remembrance Day and share some big hugs and laughter too. I got to talk to them candidly about current events, issues that they will one day face and give them my special blend of Mom wisdom that I am sure they cannot get enough of. Alas all good things must come to an end and without a fight to stay up late they snuggled into their beds and fell fast asleep.
I immediately missed my husband. I realized that though we texted in the morning and when he got off work we hadn’t spoken on the phone. By the time I realized how much I missed the sound of his voice it was way too late to call. He will be rising early as he always does, facing a frosty morning and a full workload.
So as my candle flickers, illuminating the darkness I am a little lonesome but very thankful for my husbands work ethic and dedication and how it affords me the time to raise our girls and not allow society to do all their rearing.
I am thankful for so many things, not the least of which being the remarkable sacrifices those who have served our country past and present have made so that we can enjoy our beautiful country and live free.
For my Aunt Sylvia. A woman of great strength and grace, and to all the strong women in the world who are not afraid to shine, stand out and speak up!
A little over five years ago we moved our family across Canada making Edmonton our new home. My husband was already working an advancing job in the Oil Sands and he saw and seized an opportunity that wasn’t available to him in our small town in Nova Scotia. I was overcome with fear. Despite our struggles, financial and otherwise, there was a comfort in raising our girls in our country home just minutes away from the support of our family and friends. The thought of moving to a big city again, as a mom and a wife, not a young and carefree youth, crippled me with certain fear. The inevitable happened, people started telling me how much I would hate it and how I would be back in less than six months. The thought of slinking home after selling my home and moving my family 5000 miles away was even more unnerving then the alternative; trying to make it work.
As a young woman living in the city I saw beauty in the diversity of people and places. University students, rappers, professionals of every age and race, sharing space in a perfectly imperfect way. I loved the city, it offered me a place to be myself and the opportunity to embrace a way of life that was new and exciting for me. I remember living in London, Ontario and walking to the all night diner at 3 am for scrambled eggs. The diner wasn’t fancy and it didn’t have a clever name. The neon sign simply said diner, open 24 hours. There were only a few two seater tables and a large communal bar-like round counter with stools where you could grab a seat, order from a menu on the wall and watch the cranky, elderly gentlemen behind the counter quickly prepare your palettes desire. He was like the ‘soup Nazi’ from the popular Seinfeld episode. If you spoke out of turn or made a snide remark there was ‘no food for you’ and there was no changing his mind. He fascinated me, this old man with the hard shell exterior and a work ethic not matched by his youthful counterparts. The food there was amazing and I was careful to eat quietly and not interact too much with the other late night clientele, lest they didn’t know the rules I didn’t want their ignorance to reflect on me. There was a quiet respect between the old man and myself and I know I had gained his trust. On more than one occasion I caught him observing me with a hint of a smile.
As a parent moving her children to the city I didn’t feel the same kind of enthusiasm. We enjoyed lazy days at the beach and Sunday family suppers at home in Nova Scotia. I liked that there wasn’t a lot of traffic on our quiet country road and the sounds of the night were reserved for crickets and coyotes. I think what I feared the most was the unknown. Take away my home, my friends, and my extended family….who would I be? Would I belong? Haley was young enough to just want to go wherever we were going, she could appreciate the excitement of the journey. Morgan however was old enough to mourn all she was leaving behind and too young to realize that if you keep a relationship alive in your heart that distance doesn’t matter.
Quite quickly I realized that my attitude about the move would prove essential in a smooth transition for the girls. I ignored the people who told me how much I would hate it and grasped unto the enthusiastic well wishes from people I was close to. I would always have a hometown, a place where I was born and raised, and a place that would always have my heart. Embracing a diverse and dynamic city like Edmonton, immersing my family in its vibrant culture would not diminish my ties to my home.
That first summer we visited the grand Rocky Mountains. Their soaring snowcapped peaks reaching for the sunshine as their feet refreshed into iridescent glacier water. The mountain air that filled our lungs breathed a new life into our souls and motivated us for the journey ahead. The remainder of summer was full of sporting events, backyard barbeques and concerts. The kids loved the city, they loved city transit. They loved being a part of a grand scheme.
Summer faded into fall, Morgan started her new school while I stayed home with Haley. Morgan struggled with a place to belong in school and though she made new friendships quickly she suffered their ups and downs. She always enjoyed and excelled at sports but fought with the idea of being her best. She found that shining at sports didn’t always sit well with her female friends and I strained trying to explain to her the beauty in being the very best you can be. Somebody who is not afraid to shine will always be the brightest light in the room.
At ten Morgan was maturing into a sweet girl but her body and her emotions were at war with one another and I wrestled with trying to parent her through it. We had always been the best of friends and she felt she needed a friend, not a parent. I began to foresee a future of reasoning right and wrong with a pre-teen who knows everything.
One lazy Sunday we three girls were curled up watching Whip It. Whip It is a fun, inspirational sports film with a female dominated cast. It is full of charm, and good natured wit. The allure of the movie, based on Bliss, a former beauty pageant contestant turned Roller Derby player is that it isn’t sappy but it portrays women as strong, sassy, funny and real. The film explores the game of modern roller derby, albeit in an over the top way and studies female relationships in an entertaining way. In a tough as nails, action packed roller derby scene my ten year old daughter said “I wanna do that!”
“Really?” I replied, “Roller Derby?”
“Yes, definitely”, she replied.
She was a girl in love.
The next day I was driving the girls to school and we got a sign, in the form of an actual sign. There was a sign on the side of the road that said “Junior Roller Derby, ages 12-17, wanna try?”
Morgan excitably pointed out the sign and begged me to call. The age said 12 and she was only ten but I guess I could make a phone call.
Turns out it was a very important phone call. The lady said that they had been considering taking younger girls and to bring her to practice Sunday. I decided to take her Roller Skating at the old Sportsworld that Friday to see if she liked it. She was off like a shot with a smile on her face. I tried too, I hadn’t been on quad skates since I was a kid and my legs were super shaky. It was also hard to keep my balance with Haley hanging off me. Haley was six at the time and hated roller-skating. She ripped the skates off her feet so fast you would have thought they were on fire. Morgan however had found her new love.
From that first Sunday till now has been quite a voyage. A little league that was once the appendage of an adult league became its own society run by parents and volunteers with the common goal of empowering youth, allowing them to embrace their individualism in a fun, safe and respectful environment while learning the sport of flat track roller derby. As a founding member and board member I have been humbled and moved by the determination of these young skaters and the strong women who give their time to teach them a sport that they are passionate about.
As a parent I have always strived to teach my girls to be strong and independent and never be afraid to be the very best they can be. Traditionally females are taught to be feminine, quiet and sweet. Roller Derby is a non-traditional sport and it teaches girls lessons that are very valuable in today’s society. It teaches them to be strong and competent and competitive. A competitive sport such as roller derby teaches girls to embrace the skills they learn to be stronger individuals with healthy self-esteem and body images.
Often in society men are rewarded for strength, competence and aggressive behavior while for women it is frowned upon. Strong women are frequently viewed as a threat in today’s society and instead of learning to be fearless and independent they are learning that being feminine is measured in their ability to attract members of the opposite sex, not rocking the boat, allowing the men to do the heavy lifting, in sitting pretty so to speak. As a parent I prefer that my girls make their own definition of the word feminine. One that exceeds physical beauty and embraces independence, personality, uniqueness, strength and capability.
The sport of Roller Derby is played by strong and enduring women all over the world. Those that coach the sport are resilient and passionate. They are their own heroes, and heroes to the girls that they instill the same robust qualities.
Haley is a Derby girl now and she is navigating her way, finding a place in a sport that envelopes everyone.
I am proud of Morgan Mayhem and Haleylujah. They are flawlessly imperfect and definitely not textbook young ladies but I believe that they are amongst a movement of young women that will shove through the walls that society has built up, unravel and redefine the roles of men and women. They will know when to be strong, when to speak up and when to stand their ground. They will never be afraid to be “as good” as their male counterparts and in fact will struggle to be better.
They will never be intimidated by the term ‘male dominated’, they will believe that means ‘female friendly’
The definition of ‘feminine’ is in need of a serious revamp. Females in sport are changing what it looks like every day. From where I stand it looks like, determination, skill, endurance, passion and strength.
Edmonton is a beautiful city in the summer. Festival City comes alive with food, music, culture and fun for the whole family. There is no better way to connect with your family and your city then to immerse yourself into middle of it all. So that is what we did.
Haley and I took in one of our favorite Edmonton Summer Events, Taste of Edmonton featuring live folk and jazz music on Sir Winston Churchill Square, along with favorite culinary delights from local restaurants. Our tastes vary slightly as Haley has a major sweet tooth and I tend to gravitate towards the main dishes. Haley enjoyed the sweet sensations of deep fried mars bars, chocolate lava cake with raspberry sorbet, chocolate covered strawberries and ice cream, just to name a few. I savored the flavors of bacon wrapped scallops, green onion cakes, Alberta beef with Yorkshire pudding and my fave jerk chicken. It was a beautiful YEG evening with the sun tickling the noses of those anxiously waiting in lines to try their favorite treats. The Art Gallery gleamed proudly in the background, as a big brother would, proudly overlooking the Square and the diversity of people gathered to celebrate and enjoy the tastes of their fair city. This years slogan “Putting Picnics to shame for 29 years” speaks of the longtime community involvement, the loyal downtown food enthusiasts and the vibrant framework and heart of our city.
For the second year in a row we kicked off KDAYS with the parade. Our group Greater Edmonton Junior Roller Derby, along with local adult leagues E-Ville Roller Derby and Oil City Derby Girls won a trophy for best crowd engagement. My youngest skater Haley was participating for her first year on wheels but unfortunately missed out due to a fever brought on by illness that led us on a golf cart adventure in the heart of downtown. Never a dull moment! If you know a youth between the ages of 7-17 who may want to join the fastest growing sport on 8 wheels visit http://www.juniorderby.ca
Kirk and I also took the girls to KDays for food and fun. Neither of us like the rides anymore but we both appreciate the smiles it brings to them. I love the food, the lights, the smells, the laughter. The exhibition was a summer staple in my childhood and I am happy to share that with our girls. I never cease to be amazed by how many things can be deep fried or put on a stick.
Taste of Edmonton followed by the food of KDAYS. Wow. So much food, so litttle time.
We also took in a concert at KDAYS. Colin James who I saw 18 years ago in Ontario is every bit as captivating as he was in his youth. An amazing guitarist and vocalist, even the kids were blown away. Colin James we ♥ you.
Friday we caught up with some friends which turned into an all night affair while Haley led the adults in dances and charades and Morgan tried her best to make us all think we were uncool when we all are very aware of just how cool we are.
Saturday we traveled to Holden, the home of Hwy 14 Roller Derby where Morgan Mayhem was participating in a scrimmage. It is always great to see how the Roller Derby Community pulls together to put on such events. The Junior scrimmage was followed by Coed scrimmage but sadly we had plans back in the big bad city. Below is Morgan Mayhem (jammer in middle) trying to make her way through the pack while being blocked by Minnie Meanie and hit by P.OD Pippy. Notice her feet are not touching the ground. Thanks to Anthony Canada for the fantastic shot.
The girls had a sleepover and we rushed to meet friends at Pampas downtown. Pampas is an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse that offers a unique dining concept called “Rodizio” offering continuous table side service with every tempting cut of meat available. Yes please to bacon wrapped chicken, orange marinated chicken, rib eye steak, top sirloin steak, beef tenderloin kabob, spiced lamb, lemon pepper pork. Yes more wine please!! Food service and company was fantastic. If you want to know more about Pampas click Here
We left Pampas and headed to Edmontons Whyte Ave to take in some live music at Blues on Whyte. I always have a great time at Blues on Whyte. I meet the craziest characters, see the best live bands and always leave talking about coming back. I think it is the diversity of the people that keeping me coming back. One minute you are chatting with a biker, the next you are sharing a table with a lawyer and his wife or doing a shot with some college kids that are celebrating the fact that it is Saturday. Blues is one of those places where there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet. To me Blues on Whyte is the best of nitty gritty Edmonton. Check it out for yourself Here
A couple of days were needed to regroup and Kirk headed back up North to work. I handled some teenage drama and decided my girls needed some one on one time with their Mom.
Devonian Botanical Gardens
The University of Alberta Devonian Botanic Garden is a magnificent 190-acre property located in Parkland county about 15 minutes southwest of Edmonton, with cultivated gardens and plant collections, indoor showhouses, and an intricate nature trail system.
Must sees include the beautiful Kurimoto Japanese Garden; a Tropical Showhouse with exotic butterflies; Temperate and Arid Showhouses; alpine, herb, rose, peony, lilac and lily collections; a Heritage Garden; Native Peoples Garden; trial beds and more. The kids were gracious to let me take a thousand rose pictures with the promise of homemade lemonade to follow.
The Garden is a University of Alberta research site and visitor attraction offering children’s programs, certificate programs, Thursday date nights and more. Love nature? Check it out Here
The girls and I zipped back to the city for dinner at Red Robin.The girls like the friendly upbeat atmosphere and service and the meals are yummy. You can see Here
After dinner we ran over to Movies 12. I love the cheap theatre. Three movies for under $10 means you can go more often. We saw The Internship with Vince Vaugh and Owen Wilson. I laughed lots and even clapped at the end. My girls told me that was inappropriate but when I clapped others followed. There was clapping in the movie, and in the theatre, it was a feel good moment.
Silly comedy, quick whit and innuendo mixed with real life lessons. The story, by funny guy Vince Vaughn used the storyline of the 80s movie Flashdance to teach life lessons in perseverance, being yourself and trying your best. The characters were as diverse as they were lovable and I needed the laughs so if you are needing some too I recommend. Check it out Here
Today my garden is calling for some attention and the girls want to go swimming. This weekend a fave multicultural event Heritage Fest begins as well as Movies on the Square. As I said, never a dull moment! I hope summer is heating up in your city. Cheers
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.Photographers, artists, poets: show us SPORTS.
I am a sports fan. I like most sports but especially sports that draw crowds whether it be Super Bowl in your rec room with your closest friends or a stadium packed full of cheering fans, overpriced beer and the unmistakable smell of hot dogs!
There is an unmatched camaraderie at sporting events. Respect, passion, hope and unabashed pride.
My husband takes sports VERY seriously. He yells at the TV and he is certain our attitudes affect gameplay. He has on occasion tried to make me leave the room during an L.A. Kings game because he thought my negative vibes were causing them problems.
I am a little bit more laid back. Nobody likes to go to a one sided game/match but as long it is a hard fought battle I feel satisfied. That being said I cried when Brock Lesnar knocked Randy Couture out (Only UFC fans will get this) Big, fat, heartbreaking tears rolled down my face. If I like a sport I get invested. I pick my faves or rather they pick me, I follow them, I know their strengths and struggles. Being a fan makes you a part of something larger.
After being reunited with my son Jeffrey after 19 years I got to take him to his very first NHL game. Playing hockey his whole life it was a milestone for him and definitely one for us. The love of sports brings people together, creating a common ground to seed and grow from.
On our first wedding anniversary Kirk and I went to a Nascar race in Louden New Hampshire. Smack in the middle of a scorching New England day with thousands of fans; walking billboards for their favourite racers, we were enthusiastically caught up in the excitement. The roar of the engines, the squeal of the tires, the fighter jet flyover, an unexagerated version of the star spangled banner preceding the checkered flag. A day we will never forget.
Haley and Morgan both play Roller Derby so of course we are their biggest fans. There is nothing like cheering for your child in a full contact, edge of your seat sport. I have been known to whoop, clang a cowbell, scream, close my eyes, shout loudly, hold my breath and yes I have probably held back a tear or two.
There is something very raw about an athlete focused on a goal. They are like machines ready to unleash their power and fury.To witness that type of passion is an amazing experience!
Are you missing out?
Morgan Mayhem playing Roller Derby
Me with Dan Henderson (Hendo) at UFC 100 In Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay