The television and I have a bit of a love affair. I truly bask in the brain-numbing glow that emits from the boob tube. I often find my thumb rapidly pulsing on the remote as I desperately seek out enertainment. I know that my mental and physical well-being would be better served if I sought out exercise, activity, hobbies or reading. Yet I'm drawn to the pleasure that courses through my body when I switch on the television and switch off my tendency to control and be ultra responsible mom and housekeeper.

Ironically, I still only have access to peasant vision. My dh and I have consciously chosen to use rabbit ears. I righteously proclaim to telemarketers that we do not subscribe to their competitors cable package nor do we intend to acquire satellite access to x number of channels. One would think that this take on television would translate into a conscious desire to eliminate television from our lives. No siree bob, that is not the case in my world. My evenings, especially during the winter months, are consumed by televsion viewing. I am a sucker for new programs, reality shows, documentaries, etc, etc.

I generally do not have a discriminating tastes when it comes to my program choices though I do have my favourites. Some current favourites are Lost and House . I also enjoy watching Mantracker, Survivorman, Amazing Race, Kenny and Spenny and America's Next Top Model with J. I often tune into Mentalist, Hell's Kitchen, Medium, The Office, Castle, CSI and Law and Order (though the formula used by these last two series is starting to render the programs boring). I'm sure I would enjoy delving into Heroes again but our rabbit years have caused such fuzzy reception at the beginning of this season that I am so lost regarding the characters and plot. To my credit (I hope) I am not a talk show or soap opera lover. Occassionally I have gone through periods of tuning into Coronation Street but honestly that is the extent of my foray into that genre.

Unfortunately, not all of my favourites are available on peasant vision. So how do I hear about these different programs? Either dear friends point me in the direction, lend me their copies or J comes across a review in his never-ending internet surfing. When I discover a series that is intriguing, I become a slave to the series. I patrol Rogers and Blockbuster Video weekly or biweekly in my insane desire to get my hands on the next episodes. A couple of favourites over the years have been Six Feet Deep, Carnivale, Deadwood and Big Love.

My ultimate favourite tv series has to be Battlestar Galactica. After reading a girlfriend of mine's blog, Virtually There, and her entry regarding watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, I again find myself wanting to rush to every nearby video store to get my hands on season 4.5. I finally finished season 4.0 but had to wait an infinitely long time for season 4.5 to become available. So far the blasted store near me hasn't had a copy on the shelf. Until I can get the dvd into my clutches, I will have to continue satisfying my insatiable entertainment needs with our peasant vision selection. As well as take quizzes like the one below:

Which Battlestar Galactica Character Are You?

More on Battlestar Galactica. Created by BuddyTV

March break

The kids and I invaded my sister's house for 4 1/2 days. My sis lives in Red Deer, a small city located more or less right in between Edmonton and Calgary. Besides taking advantage of the March break to spend time with my sister and her family, we also managed to see more of J. My hubby is madly trying to spend his research funds before March 31st. This has meant he has been on a series of research trips and conferences in the last couple of months. He spent 11 days out of the country in February. He was in Winnipeg for 4 days. His final trip was to be spent in Edmonton for a week. Both he and I were feeling the effects of his being away. Therefore we arranged to plunk ourselves in Red Deer so J could research in Edmonton and then travel 90+ minutes to spend the night with us. It worked out well on so many levels.

My kids had a fantastic time with their cousins. They all played well together. We entertained ourselves with crafts, colouring, a trip to the nearby park and a visit to the swimming pool (equipped with a lazy river, wave pool, fountain pool, large water slide, and kids water park/pool).

As my parents grew up on farms just east of the city of Red Deer, there happens to be some family in the city. This trip I made some time to visit my grandma W. My granddad passed away almost 2 years ago and it was good to touch base with her again.

My sis, J and I took all of our kids to visit our favourite aunt and uncle on Friday. My uncle has recently been diagnosed with non-small cell cancer. It was important for me to see him and to let him and my aunt know that we are thinking of them. They have given us so many treasured memories and have always been at the periphery of our lives. It is hard to see them struggling with a life threatening illness but they are fighters and will hopefully see this disease in remission soon.

Finally monkey boy, lil bug and I went on a day adventure to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin ( a mere hour north of Red Deer). The museum was terrific. The little bit I read on the story boards was both informative and interesting. The museum was filled with restored vehicles. There were cars, trucks, and farm equipment. We also caught the tail end of the Model T exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Ford car. We ended our tour with lunch at the museum cafe (which was quite good compared to some museum food I've had). Before we left, we popped over to the Aviation Hall of Fame museum and looked at the airplanes on display there. If I had more time and no kids tagging along, it would have been interesting to read about some of the aviators inducted into the hall.

The kids loved the museum. This was probably due to two factors. One, they both love vehicles, and I mean LOVE vehicles. Monkey boy has been playing with cars since he was a toddler and lil bug's favourite shirt is a hand-me down featuring a dune buggy. Secondly they both had a hoot taking pictures. Lil bug was using monkey boy's v-tech camera. Monkey boy had his hands on my Canon point and click while I was hauling around J's old Canon 20D. It was so much fun watching them take pictures and experience the museum in a more hands on way. I think we may have some photographers in the making, which would please both J and I as well as J's parents (photographers themselves). Photography may be an excellent way for our family to explore our surroundings and feel connected especially as the kids move towards their tween and teen years.

Saturday family outing

Weather, bad moods and quick changes to plans thwarted a potentially good family day.

J and I planned to take the kids to Banff to ride the gondola up Sulfur mountain. We woke up to a day of sunshine and blue skies but we could see clouds shrouding the mountains from our balcony. J jumped onto the internet to see the current view from on top of Sulfur mountain via the web cam and indeed it was a cloudy grey day in Banff. However, the weather forecast indicated it would be clearing later. We decided to plunge ahead with our plan since we wanted to get out of the city. I madly ran around the house packing winter gear, rain gear, lunch plus the necessary entertainment for the car ride, DVD player, movies, leapster and Nev's camera.

When we told the kids our plans, the idea was met with trepidation. Lil bug's response was "I don't like the mountains." Monkey boy balked at the idea with some hums and haws. We ignored lil bug's commentary as she dislikes everything these days and always wants the status quo of play or activity to remain unchanged. We convinced monkey boy that it would be fun and he managed to muster some enthusiasm.

The ride was nice, despite the occassional complaint from the backseat. The view was lovely though the clouds seem to be settling into the mountains rather than dispersing. Ten minutes outside of the Banff National Park gates, J inquired what we should do since spending money to travel up a gondola to see clouds was not desirable. He asked if I brought swimsuits. Monkey boy perked up hearing this comment and thought it would be a great idea to go swimming in the hot springs again. Well, my disappointment over the weather forcing plans to change and the guilt over not remembering to pack the swimsuits, just in case, resulted in a lovely rant and my silly resolve that we should just go home.

We turned around at the gates but stopped in Canmore for lunch as our tummies were a rumblin'. The tourist information centre only had outside picnic tables. An option that was not all that appealing since it was breezy, chilly and starting to snow. The staff fortunately were able to recommend a place to eat a packed lunch and pointed us towards some casual activities to do with kids in Canmore. We made our way to the Canmore Nordic Centre, ate lunch and enjoyed watching the cross country skiers out the windows. We all perked up after filling our stomachs. Our family day looked like it might be salvaged.

J and I decided to take the kids for a short walk to see the hidden falls. Once again our idea was greeted with dismay. We forged ahead and endured a brief walk along a snow and ice packed path. Neither child liked the short trip up to the benches and viewpoint. We listened to a litany of it is too cold, too icy, I'm falling, carry me, etc, etc. We reached our destination in 15 minutes. Although the shade of a hill made it difficult to see, the falls were nice and covered with lots of ice. The kids finally snapped out of their moods and enjoyed themselves, climbing on the benches, throwing snow and looking at the view of the falls and the town of Canmore.

Upon returning to our vehicle, we headed towards a coffee shop for some sustenance and a caffeine induction for the adults. It was a little dicey again at the shop as lil bug was not satisfied with sharing the large apple juice with her brother. We finished our snack and piled into the car to return home. By this time, the sun was bathing Canmore in a wonderful warm light and the clouds were steadily disappearing. The weather improved but a little too late for us.

Lil bug fell asleep in the car and monkey boy relaxed in his seat occasionally taking pictures of the view out our window or playing his leapster. It was not an ideal outing but we muddled through and accomplished the goal of spending time together as a family. Next time, I will take the swimsuits (can never pack too much) or we will read the signs (bad weather and lack of enthusiasm from kids) a little more closely and alter plans before we leave the city. Why does knowledge often come with experience and hindsight? Where is that crystal ball I ordered?

Mother Bear

Can 4 and 5 year old children be bullies? My answer is a resounding yes.

Monkey boy has been taking gymnastics since January. Despite his physical awkwardness and lack of strength, he tries everything. He listens to his coach (who unfortunately seems to lack the natural ability to guide or instruct, an apparent flaw that is seen by other parents). He has fun and his abilities are improving. In his attempts to execute a move, he usually succeeds or fumbles through but occasionally a mishap arises. To date he has hurt himself on the apparatus four times. As a sensitive, pleasing and slightly overwhelmed kid, he has reacted with tears and loud cries. In all cases, we have dealt with the hurt and re-joined the class. I've been proud of him and glad for the opportunity to teach him not to give up.

Today, my parenting philosophy towards monkey boy was challenged by two four year old boys. As we entered the gymnasium, one boy loudly called out "there is the baby boy" and another boy takes up the taunt and teasing attitude by also saying "he's the baby boy." My son was walking ahead of me and stopped. I was unable see his reaction or determine if he realized these words were being directed towards him. Yet I knew exactly what these little boys were saying. I was livid. Their parents did not speak out or correct these boys but rather just looked in our direction. The mother bear in me was incensed. I quickly and loudly blurted out to my son that those boys were being rude. This stopped the two boys and I think caught the attention of one parent, a dad. I directed my kid towards the boot removal area and clearly said to him not to listen to those boys but to go have fun and sit with some of the girls.

My son did not seem to question me or to display any hurt feelings. I decided not to pursue the issue. This was our second last class and I did not have the energy or resources to confront the parents and question their parenting style. I'm guessing they tell their boys not to be cry babies as where else would these young children develop a negative attitude towards tears resulting from pain. If this situation presents itself again, I will delve further into the issue especially if my son has to co-exist with mean children for any length of time. It is not acceptable to name call. Parents and children need to know this fact and check the tendency if we want to reduce bullying. I want to teach my children to not bully. I also want them to learn that it is just as harmful to join in the action by either copying the bullies or letting the bullies get away with their hurtful actions.

I know this is just the start of our many years in dealing with difficult situations. I hope that J and I have the ability to recognize problems quickly. I hope we find ways to teach our children to cope with the harshness of a tough, competitive and materialistic society and still be compassionate and caring individuals.