Posts By: Guest Blogger

Heart, Flowers and Twinkies.

By Lisa Van Meeteren

A one word definition of Valentine’s Day would probably be love. But I can honestly say my one word definition of the day hasn’t always included that word. Read on to see if you relate!

Valentine’s definition: popularity. Valentine’s Day in my childhood taught me that people showed they liked you by giving you cards and candies. I also learned that it felt good to be popular and score loads of cards and it felt crappy to score less cards then the Julianne Hough look-a-like sitting next to you. I learned to pretend I didn’t mind scoring less with the help of a fake smile and a Twinkie.

The Teen Years
Valentine’s definition: humiliation. I learned that my mother didn’t mean to humiliate me by being the only one to give me a card. That it didn’t matter that my crush didn’t know I existed. It was all okay, because I could watch a movie with my best friend and ooh and ahh at the hot actor on screen and escape into a marshmallow world.

Dating: Early twenties
Valentine’s definition: evaluation. I often used Valentine’s Day to take stock of my relationships using the day as a measurement of how much someone loved and respected me. At the time I thought it was a good test. Here’s an example.

I had a boyfriend who never took the initiative when it came to making plans. I mean NEVER. At first I thought it was because he was being considerate when he said, whatever and shrugged if I asked him what he wanted to do. He let me plan all of our dates, how nice! Wait a minute. Fast forward two months later and I was getting fed up. Didn’t he care enough to make an effort?

When I asked him what he wanted to do for Valentine’s and he was unresponsive, I figured our relationship needed CPR, stat! I told him he was going to plan our date, which I knew would be challenging given the nature of the day, but assured him that it was the thought that mattered. As the day grew closer I kept asking him if he had planned anything and he said he had it covered.

I began to get excited as the night drew near. Would he cook me dinner? Were we going to go dancing which I loved?

The first surprise came when he told me we were leaving at 4:30 in the afternoon. What did he have planned that started so early? My curiousity was definitely piqued. He led me down King Street in Toronto’s theatre district and we entered a restaurant popular with the theatre crowd because of their quick service. I got excited. I loved the theatre. Maybe we were having a quick bite before going to see a show across the street. That would explain why we were dining at the same time as most Floridians.
We sat down and he smiled at me taking my hand across the table. “So,” I said. “I’ve never been here is the food good?”

He shrugged. “It’s a good deal. That’s one of the reasons I picked this place. Half price apps between 5 and 6.”

If I’d been eating I would have choked. “Pardon?”

“Well they have some Valentine’s Day dinner going on but the tickets are like a major rip-off. The first seating starts at 6:30 and they said we couldn’t have dinner but that we could enjoy half price appetizers until 6. Good, right?”

I tried to keep an open mind. It was ridiculous the way they crammed people in like cattle and then overcharged them for food by adding a few heart shaped decorations, champagne and flowers. Plus this was only the beginning of the evening, maybe the romantic part of his plan was to follow. After our appetizers, as he forked over his twenty and I thanked him, he smiled. “You’re welcome. So. Now what do you want to do?”

I began to have that sinking feeling that I get when I know a relationship is about to end.

“Excuse me?”

He looked at his watch. “It’s before six, so it’s still early. What do you want to do now?”

“Uh, you were supposed to plan the evening remember?”

His eyes widened. “I did.”

“The whole evening.” He just shrugged.

We ended up going to a store (pre- Smart phones) to get a paper (my idea) to look up the entertainment listings and I angrily chose a Mel Gibson movie because I loved him… (pre-crazy, and totally hot Mel) which at least made me feel like I got something out of the evening. That was our last Valentine’s together.

Now: Married with Children
Valentine’s definition: enjoyable. I am happy to have any time alone with my husband-it doesn’t have to be at a fancy restaurant. I enjoy making heart shaped pizzas with the kids and decorating for them. And while I wouldn’t be offended if my husband gave me a piece of jewellery or flowers to show how he feels about me, I think that it would mean more on another day when he isn’t pressured to do so.
I’m happy now that I have someone special in my life but I wish that I had recognized that I really had it all along; through my mother and my best friend.

Valentine’s Day is about love, an opportunity to show those you care about, that you care, romantic or otherwise. So to all of you singles, hey, I’ve been there. And while I can assure you it is lovely to have a romantic dinner with a significant other, it is sometimes just as lovely to watch Bridget Jones with a large bowl of M&M’s with a BFF and a glass of wine. And yes, I’ve done that too.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

How do you feel about the romantic holiday? Do you embrace it, loathe it or love it and why?


Why your kids should curl

Guest Post by: Simon Barrick

“You curl? That’s neat, my grandpa used to curl.”

I cannot begin to tell you how many times people have responded with this line when they discovered that I curl. But let’s face it; the curling stereotype involves images of elderly men in knitted sweaters, donning funny headgear (tams), with a cigarette in one hand and a pint of beer in the other. Oh, and they may also be sliding a granite stone down the ice while sweeping with those peculiar brooms. Not to mention yelling. Lots and lots of yelling.

No wonder people think this sport isn’t for kids.

But this stereotype is no longer reality. With curling being a Winter Olympic sport since the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, curling has undergone quite the transformation. For proof of this change, you only have to turn on your television over the next few months to see young and fit men and women playing the sport and playing it well. So much for that grandpa stereotype.

And as a 20-something male curler, I’m further proof that this sport is as much for young people as hockey, soccer, or swimming. At the ripe old age of eight, I watched my first game of curling on television and thought, “that would be cool to try!” So I convinced my dad to take my sister and me to the local curling club to throw our first rocks at houses. And the rest, they say, is history.

If you’re interested, but not quite sure yet – let me convince you even further. Here are the top nine reasons why you should sign your children up for this great sport:

9. Curling builds important life skills including sportsmanship, fair play, teamwork, and social interactions – things all young people need.

8. It’s an affordable sport. Let’s be honest – most sports can cost you a ton of money. Fortunately, curling offers families an affordable alternative. Between fees and curling equipment (which are provided by your local curling club for beginners), a full season of curling (October to April) only costs between $50 and $150 per youth!

7. Curling clubs are welcoming spaces. Ask any young person who curls and they will tell you that the curling club feels like their second home.

6. Curling is also an accessible and inclusive sport. People with physical, mental, visual, and auditory disabilities all curl (and curl well!) There are also provincial events, such as Special Olympics curling. So, no matter your kids’ ability level and needs, curling can accommodate.

5. Curling is a very strategic and cerebral sport (described by many as chess-on-ice.) If you’re looking for a different kind of sport, then curling is your answer.

4. Curling is an extremely social sport. Coaches and instructors teach young curlers to compliment their opponents when they make a nice shot and to stay after the game and socialize. Many of my closest and dearest friends are curlers whom I’ve met over the years.

3. If your kids are competitive, they have plenty of opportunities to enter competitions (bonspiels) to represent their club, province, and even country! An Olympic gold medal has a nice ring to it, right?

2. If competition isn’t for your kids, then don’t sweat it. Curling clubs consist of weekly social leagues where your kids can play with and against great people, have a blast, and foster some outstanding friendships.

1. You can curl for your entire life, no problem! There aren’t many sports where you can register your child at five years of age and they’re still curling when they hit the ripe old age of 100. Curling is truly a life-long sport.

Hopefully I’ve been able to convince you (even a little) to register your children in curling. If so, please take my final advice: just do it! Head down to your local curling club now. Curlers love to introduce new people to the sport. I guarantee that once you enter the door, some eager volunteers will slap some tape on the bottom of your kids’ running shoes and have them out on the ice before you know it.

Looking forward to seeing you and your kids in the curling club soon.

What’s the big deal about New Year’s?

New Year’s is a lot of pressure. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the holiday it’s just that the expectations that come with it are crazy.

Take New Year’s Eve- I don’t know about you but in the past I’ve ran around like a maniac searching for the perfect dress, (the one that will camouflage the extra Christmas poundage, make me feel sexy, and cost less than $100) googled the best venues in town and paid an exorbitant amount for a ticket that includes a tiny glass of champagne, a cover band that is happy this is the one night of the year they’re guaranteed work, and a plastic horn that makes one of the most annoying sounds known to man. Then I was always disappointed when at the end of the night nothing magical happened, and I almost lost a toe due to frostbite while waiting for a cab in shoes that aren’t meant for dancing or freezing cold weather.

Fortunately my expectations lessened after having children and now when we can get a babysitter on New Year’s and go out I will gladly dance to that cheesy band and smile through the pain of tortured feet for time alone with my husband. It’s a little thing I like to call perspective.

Then there’s New Year’s Day which comes most often with a hangover, a bucket of regret and a pile of argh resolutions.  But that’s the ugly…now for the good.

  1. 1.       It’s a fresh start

New Year’s is like clean powdery virgin white snow untouched by salt, pollution, and dog pee.

  1. 2.       Renewed hope-that this year will be the year.

Hope that this is the year we accomplish our goals whether it be weight loss and getting back into those skinny jeans or publishing that novel (Ahem! Please 2015!)

  1. 3.       It’s a kick in the pants

What I mean by that is like it or not the New Year does tend to spur us into action and that is a good thing.

Okay but here’s the other side. The bad.

Beating ourselves up when falling off the proverbial wagon

It’s a new YEAR’s resolution people not a month! That means a whole year to accomplish whatever resolution or goals you set up. So why is by January 15th when we haven’t met whatever almost impossible challenge we have set up for ourselves that we give up, falling into a shame spiral that ends with chocolate cake and a promise for next year? (I am talking about myself here but the “we” makes me feel better.)

And finally: putting it all into perspective                                         

It didn’t take a month to get a closet filled with clothes you can’t wear. Your basement didn’t get crammed to the rafter’s with everyone’s junk (again talking about me) in a month, it took time and it will take time to undo these things. This New Year’s, let’s give ourselves a break. I know I’m going to try- or at least I’m going to add it to my list of resolutions.

Happy 2015 everyone!

How do you feel about New Year’s? What are some of your New Year’s resolution successes and fails? Come on share!

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

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