July 2010

Mmm Ribs!

What’s ooey-gooey, sweet but salty, meaty but tender and comes in all sorts of varieties? Well my friends, the answer is RIBS and you can eat them to your heart’s content this weekend at VP’s Annual Ribfest running from July 29th to August 2nd.  What better way to celebrate the Civic holiday and the summer’s second-last long weekend? 

The Annual London Ribfest is operated by the Boys’ & Girls’ Club of London  and is supported by Childcan.  It is the second largest festival of its kind in North America!  How lucky are we to have this right at our doorstep?

Here’s what you can expect at this year’s festival:

  • Ribs…go figure!
  • 100 live performances
  • Chicken wing competition
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Wagon Rides
  • Crayola Kids Play & Craft Pavilion
  • Karaoke Stage
  • Face Painting
  • 100’s of Vendors
  • Beer!

Londoner’s get to have their say too with the People’s Choice Awards.  Ribfesters can vote on who they think is the best vendor in categories like Best Ribs, Best Beverage and Best Entertainment Act.  You can get ballots at the festival in one of the two beer gardens or the festival office.  You can also watch as the judges select the Best Ribs, Best Wings and Best BBQ Sauce on Sunday at 3pm.  This is a huge deal for rib enthusiasts.

Hope to see you there!  Have a happy and safe weekend :)

Music to My Ears

We all march to the beat of our own drum.  What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.  Chacun à son gout! 

Our likes and dislikes, among other things, is what make us unique.  The differences in our personalities and temperaments are at the heart of our relationships, and these relationships make our lives rich.  Can you picture surrounding yourself with people exactly like yourself?  Wouldn’t they just drive you crazy?  Wouldn’t that become mundane on a day-to-day basis? Sorry, but as much as I ‘like’ myself, you can have too much of a good thing.

When we first made our decision to move to a downtown condo with a young child, I witnessed and sensed many disapproving looks and attitudes.  No one actually came out and said anything explicitly negative, but it was implied.  I found myself making excuses and defending our decision to people we discussed our move with even when it wasn’t warranted.  These reactions provided my initial motivation to start City Mom.

Shortly after our move, we had some visitors to our new place and there I was, rationalizing our choice, when my visitor responded by saying “I think it’s great that you want to live downtown.  Our city needs all types of people; some to live in the suburbs and some to live in the city.”  This really made sense to me.  I had never thought of it in that way before.  What would our great city be without the individuals that live in it?  What if my Blog was so powerful and moving that everyone flocked to the city, disowning their suburban plots?  What would happen to some of the wonderful neighbourhoods that our city has like Old South, Old North and Lambeth and the small businesses and shops that conduct business there?  Or fathom the reverse; the urbanites cash in their city digs for a few more acres?  Neither scenario would be favourable to London or its inhabitants, so thank goodness for individuality and the freedom to make choices!

We have always been drawn to the city life.  Pre-baby we owned a condo in downtown Toronto right in the centre of the action.   My husband and I have always loved the sights and sounds and the hustle and bustle.  When we left T.O. for a small suburban home (to be closer to our families) we noticed how much we missed those constant sounds.  It is hard to believe that the wail of sirens, honking of horns and drone of street cars would instill a sense of calm.  It is said that silence can be deafening…for us, it was. 

Since being back in the city, I feel much more at peace.  I realized this just the other day while playing on the balcony with my daughter.  It had just finished raining and I could hear the sound of car tires on the wet asphalt and the soft hum of the large air-conditioner units from the large buildings surrounding us.  With the sun shining down on us and the symphony of sounds, when I closed my eyes, it felt very similar to sitting on the beach at the lake.  Perfectly harmonious!

I can’t speak for my daughter in regards to the sounds and how they make her feel or if she even notices them.  It is likely something to which she will become accustomed and it will be neither here nor there.  One thing I do know is that our concrete building acts as a very effective sound barrier and the most we ever hear are the dulled sounds of the nearby train and we even find that therapeutic.  Little S has never seemed to be disturbed by any of the city’s sounds.  Like the saying goes:  Sleeping like a baby!  Whether it’s a train, a plane or your neighbour’s dog, a deep sleep is a deep sleep and you’re truly blessed if you have a child who will sleep through it all!  We really weren’t sure what to expect with her and the “noise” in terms of outdoor sounds and the indoor sounds from our neighbours being so close.  After all we now have them beside us, below us and above us.  S does not seem to be affected…the neighbours on the other hand…I don’t know but can only assume that the pitter patter of tiny feet isn’t so cute at 8am on a Sunday morning.  No noise complaints yet…so keep your fingers crossed.

I really don’t think there is a better way to summarize this post then the way Petula Clark did in her song, “Downtown” and the moral of this story is that variety is the spice of life…so add some salt and pepper and enjoy!

“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go – downtown
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know – downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – no finer place, for sure
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows – downtown
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close – downtown
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with him too before the night is over
Happy again

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown – waiting for you tonight
Downtown – you’re gonna be all right now

And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along

So maybe I’ll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – don’t wait a minute for
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

Downtown, downtown, downtown, downtown.”

Crazy and the City

One of the benefits of downtown living is the ability to walk most anywhere.  Our movie store, supermarket,  coffee shop, parks, splash pads, work and school are all within a short stroll for us.  Another benefit of city living is the anonymity that comes with it.  Anonymity is something I appreciate very much.  I love being a nobody among other nobody’s.  I love the freedom that comes with not caring what others think and not knowing what they think  You’re really just another person out and about with other strangers. 

 As much as I love this new-found freedom; I have also found a few humorous downfalls…

 I try not to be a two-season complainer, however walking to work in the Summer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I arrive at work with tiny beads of perspiration on my forehead and sweat dripping down my back. (London has had a really hot and humid summer so far.)  I think this could come across as attractive in some settings.  For example, if you’re out for a jog throughout the city and you run past a cute guy while sporting rosy cheeks and a cute tank-top/short-shorts ensemble.  That can be respectable and sexy on some level.  It is not appealing at 8am in the elevator at work dressed in business attire.  That’s downfall number one.

Downfall number two, perhaps the more comical one, is that I suspect that I may be viewed as that crazy downtown lady.  Our family schedule is set up so that my husband drops our daughter off at school in the morning and I pick her up in the afternoon.  I rush home from work, run upstairs (again, more sweat) change out of my work clothes, grab the stroller and head back out just in time to pick her up.  Of course my trip to gets some looks.  I walk with a vacant stroller and could appear to be one of those ‘phantom child’ women.  One who doesn’t have a child but really wishes for one…so much that they now believe they have one. 

I’ve noticed people take a second glance at my childless stroller and I’ve had a little giggle to myself, but that was just at the beginning.  Now, if it happens at all, I don’t even notice.  That is why on this day in particular I was a little surprised to find some construction guys checking me out.  It was a work from home day for me, so admittedly, I didn’t look my best.  Why wash your hair when you’re sitting in your home office all day?  I wasn’t wearing one of those cute outfits mentioned above and I didn’t feel that anything about me stood out as particularly cute, but they kept looking at me and taking second glances.  I started to feel pretty good about myself.  After all, I had just started a Booty Camp class and was already on my second week.  Maybe it wasn’t just me noticing the differences.  Maybe my boot camp training was finally speaking for me.  Naturally my stride picked up a little and maybe I added a confident little wiggle in my hips.  Yes, I am married, but what girl (married or not) does not take it as a compliment when getting checked out? 

 After picking up my daughter and making my way back home (still with the wiggle) the road crew didn’t seem as interested in my presence as they did before.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  I had already received the attention I really didn’t think I deserved that day and was feeling pretty good.  It wasn’t until later that evening (while admiring myself in the mirror) that it dawned on me…the phantom child phenomenon.  They weren’t checking me out!  They were checking out my phantom baby.  As you  may have guessed, the next day the wiggle was gone and the hop in my step was only there because I was excited to see little S at the end of a long day!

 So, there are two morals to this story…take an extra change of clothes and some deodorant with you on a hot day and refrain from questioning why someone is checking you out…just assume it’s because you look good!

This Weekend in the Heart…

Well, another exciting summer weekend is ramping up with Rock the Park in Harris Park running from July 22 – 24.  There is an exciting list of performers including Collective Soul, Alice Cooper and 3 Doors Down.  I’m not sure of our participation level at  this event since its not the most kid friendly event and we don’t have a sitter lined up.  It is a fundraising event though for Bethany’s Hope Foundation which makes for a worthwhile visit to the event.  I am expecting to benefit from our close proximity to Harris Park and catch some sound waves from the concerts!  If you are attending Rock the Park this year…have a great time and for everyone else, have a great and safe weekend!

I wanted to take a quick opportunity before the weekend begins to share with you some information on the Pride London Festival taking place this weekend.  The Pride parade is going straight down Dundas St. and begins at 1pm on Sunday, July 25th.  Come out to support this great event!

Home County Folk Festival – This Weekend!

Have I mentioned how much fun we have been having at all these wonderful festivals VP hosts?  I am so, so impressed with the time and planning that must go into organizing these events.  I have never been more proud to be a Londoner as the heart of our city is truly pumping! 

Little S absolutely loves being out and about among the many people.  She has become a fanatic about face-painting (which is usually offered at these events) and loves investigating all the different vendors and their offerings.  This past weekend she scored a butterfly on her cheek and a colourful shell necklace at Sunfest, and I have to comment once again, that these activities are enhanced by our ability to walk to and from and to avoid the parking game (or war).

So, another exciting weekend is about to begin at VP with the 37th Annual Home County Folk Festival http://www.homecounty.ca/ .

This event runs from July 16th – 18th with many free concerts and some paid admission after-hours performances.  There is a long list of performers which can be found at http://www.homecounty.ca/festival10/artists/index.php .  I am excited about one performer in particular:  Kristin Sweetland http://www.kristinsweetland.com/ who performs on Saturday from 12:00 – 1:30 and at 6:15pm on the main stage.

This festival is sure to follow suit with the other festivals and will be offering a wide variety of food and craft vendors with lots to do for everyone.  Be sure to check out the  Children’s Small Folk Area. http://www.homecounty.ca/festival10/children/index.php where there will be many fun activities for the kids.

If you haven’t been out to one of this summer’s festivals yet, or you’re like us and just love them, you have many reasons to try this one out this weekend.


Does Size Really Matter?

Does Size Really Matter?

The short answer based on my recent findings, is no, size does not matter!  But don’t get too excited guys…we may not be talking about the same thing…

I am referring to the size of the outdoor space a residence has.  We all watch those real estate shows where child-rearing couples are concerned with the amount of backyard space the property has, or we have been in the same situation; and for good reason.  For those of us who have children and have never tried the high-rise living option, a large backyard seems like a must-have! 

It wasn’t until recently while I was sitting on the balcony in our new condo, watching my husband and daughter play a game of Leap Frog  (They had scattered a half-dozen rubber squares (each about 24 sq inches) on the balcony. They had to jump from square to square pretending they were Lilly pads and the concrete, water.  They had to avoid falling in the water.) that I realized size really doesn’t matter.  I looked at their faces and observed how much fun they were having and noted to myself,  that children don’t care how big the space is that they are playing in, they care about what they are playing and who they are playing with.  Is it fun and entertaining?  Then that’s all they are concerned about.

I have since viewed  our 20’ x 7’ concrete slab in a whole new light.  Originally I viewed it as an adult zone.  I had extravagant ideas for the space with a modern conversation set and outdoor kitchen…an extension of our indoor living space, really.  Now I see it as a shared living/recreation space for my husband and me and our daughter.  We can use the space as a ‘backyard’ as you might say. 

The latest addition to our backyard is a fresh water, chlorine free, heated pool.  You’ve read correctly – a pool on the balcony. I bought it, filled it with air (from my own lungs) and lugged pail after pail of warm water from the bathroom, over the hardwood floors, through the living room and to the balcony, to create a relaxing and fun oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle.  My husband worried that we would have no way of dispelling the water but I assured him I had a plan.  We wait for a hearty rain and release the plug at the bottom of the pool and no one will know any different.  Sure enough that is what happened and now we can start fresh next weekend.  (I really hope that my neighbours below are not fans of City Mom!)

So the moral of this story is that contrary to popular belief, size does not matter.  That is good news for everyone!

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