Thursday, January 28, 2010


As my kids get older, they’re starting to make some pretty interesting observations – and they’ve got me thinking. (Don’t misunderstand me; most of what gets said around here is sheer and utter nonsense. No, seriously – silly is HUGE at the moment, with nonsensical responses to my questions being occasion for screams of laughter from both of them.)

But in the odd moments of sanity, they’ve made a few very astute comments lately. Here’s a conversation that went down the other day between Charlie (six and half) and me.

Me: did you return your (school) library book?

Charlie: Yes, I dropped it in the box in the classroom.

Me: If you drop it in a box in the classroom how do they know that you’ve returned it?

Charlie: Ms. A (the librarian) has it in her computer.

Me: I see.

Charlie: In fact, Ms. J (classroom teacher) keeps telling me that I have a book called Mind Your
Manners, which I don’t.

Me: Oh. So what do you tell her?

Charlie: I say I don’t have it.

Me: And what does she say?

Charlie: She says I’m in the computer for it so I should look for it at home. You know, I think that’s brainwashing. Trying to convince someone of something they know not to be true.

I laughed hard at this. Why? Because he’s absolutely right. If you’d met my son, you could be pretty sure that he would never voluntarily check out a book about manners from the library (!) – and in fact he doesn’t have it. But what got me thinking is that most of us grown ups would have had the exact same response as Ms. J. It’s the same line of reasoning as telling a kid, ‘You can’t possibly be hungry, you just ate your lunch!’ I, for one, am definitely guilty of this.

So is all child-rearing a form of benevolent brainwashing? As humans we don’t innately want to share, say ‘excuse me’, keep our thoughts and hands to ourselves, etc. These are learned behaviours. How many times have we said to our kids, ‘and what do you say?’ (looking for the elusive please or thank you)? Brainwashing! Wash your hands after using the washroom – brainwashing! I’m starting to think that parenting is inherently unethical.

On the other hand, maybe it’s retribution. After all, they do torture us with the sleep deprivation and mental anguish….

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Praise of the (Admiral) Road Trip

The road trip is not part of my family culture. So, any length of time in the car over an hour counts as a very big deal. As a kid, a serious road trip meant driving from Toronto to Ottawa to visit my relatives. I remember the trips clearly. Ahead of time we would carefully plan which cassettes we wanted to listen to in the car (Leonard Cohen for my parents, the soundtrack from Fame for me) and we packed a travel fridge filled with drinks and sandwiches – for the four hour trip to Ottawa, you understand.

Needless to say, the first time that Danielle (a huge fan of the road trip) proposed a road trip in the name of Admiral Road I was horrified. Why would anyone drive to New York City when it is a mere one-hour flight away? Well, as it happens there were a number of very good reasons. So I acquiesced, but felt a little queasy about the whole idea.

It turns out that road tripping is not so bad – Admiral Road tripping, that is. It’s actually kind of fun, (apart from the 5 a.m. departure Danielle insists on) and can be productive in lots of ways. For one thing, road tripping with my business partner means dedicated time for talking about the business. We joke that road trips are our “off-site” meetings. It’s not so different, really. Time in the car is time away from our usual routines to devote to talking about the biz – and if we squeeze in a little unrelated chit chat, well, that’s okay too.

Then there are the pit stops! The bittersweet last Tim Horton’s coffee (the ones in New York City which call themselves something like ‘Tim Hortons coffee and pastry shop’ hardly count), and there’s the experience of an all-American Denny’s (Friendly’s, Perkins) lunch. There are navigational triumphs and disasters (more of the latter on this last trip, regrettably), and memories made. We’ve laughed every time we’ve recalled the pea soup-like fog we encountered in Pennsylvania - it was like something out of a Stephen King novel – much funnier now than it was at the time, but forever burned in our memories.

The road trip also offers the gift of time. Time suspended between home and work. I’m freed from the distractions of managing my two full-time jobs (mom and business owner). On the road trip, I don’t have to make dinner or take anyone to the bathroom. I also don’t pay bills or manage suppliers. It’s a magical in-between space.

And they say that it’s about the journey and not the destination. Well, it’s certainly true that the journey is great, there’s also something great to be said for five days in Manhattan. I do love New York City. And I’ll admit, it’s fun to put on my (fancier) jeans and hang out with other grown-ups while we’re away. I’m not sure when the next Admiral Road trip will be, but I’m looking forward to another chance to recharge the batteries and come back ready for both of my full-time jobs.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Warmth, Delivered

If you're a dedicated Roadie, you may have noticed our 'warmth, delivered' tagline. It is our hope that with every blanket we put in the mail we're sending a little love and comfort and a whole bunch of good wishes on behalf of the gift giver.

This week we're thinking about the hundreds of thousands of victims of the earthquake in Haiti who could use a little warmth delivered just about now. While we can't wrap each one of them in a blanket, we'd like to help where we can. We'll be donating proceeds from orders placed between now and Sunday to Humanitarian Coalition, a group of Canadian NGOs (Oxfam, Care, Save the Children) providing relief in Haiti. So, if you could use a blanket, now is a great time to get your order in.

If you don't need a blanket just now but want to help, visit to donate. (And FYI, the Canadian government is matching all private donations to the relief effort.)

Go on, deliver a little warmth of your own.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

“Think you have self-control to keep resolutions? Then you won’t.”

That’s the chipper headline that stared up at me today while drinking my morning coffee. Not buried in the “Life” section (that I love), but on the actual cover of our national newspaper. It’s not enough that I’m peeling kids out of bed in the dark and rushing them to school after a blissful two week respite? Apparently not, because now I seemingly over-estimate my own self-control too. Well, Happy New Year to me.

I tend to be a glass-is-half-full kind of girl. So this article reminds me that,

1. This is why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They’re set arbitrarily on the calendar with a false sense of urgency. Other than the fact that I’ve eaten my face off for the past month, January 1st doesn’t herald in anything worth changing my life for.

2. I am a creature of habit. I make myself the same breakfast every day. I like to work out on the same days at the same time each week. My kids have a set bedtime. Routine breeds comfort. I don’t need to go shaking it up just because the calendar has changed.

3. No one I know makes New Year’s resolutions. We were at a dinner party on the weekend and our host asked if any of us were making resolutions. Other than the host himself (abstention from alcohol for the month of January – fair enough), no one had anything to contribute. I took it as a sign that everyone was pretty happy with where their lives were at – not a bad thing at all.

But IF I did want to make a resolution, I feel confident that I’d be able to keep it. And if YOU make New Year’s resolutions, I’m sure you’ll do great with them too. Why not? It’s a new year and a new you. We all have the power to make changes (that are within our power, of course).

So, national newspaper, please don’t suggest that I over-estimate my self-control. In fact, I’m exercising it right now by not sharing fully what I think about your article this morning.

Here is to a very Happy New Year. And Happy New Year to you too, national newspaper.