Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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NaBloPoMo – Day 11 – Surprise!

Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, so I thought it would be fun to show up unannounced for a surprise birthday visit! The conference I was at in Washington, DC ended today and, unbeknownst to my mom, I had to fly through Toronto to go back to Vancouver. So I decided that instead of having a 2 hour stopover in T.O., I would pay a few extra bucks to have a 1 day stopover so that I could spend my mom’s birthday with her! I recruited my sister to this subterfuge and had her invite my mother over tonight so that I could just take show up at my sister’s place – and she was so surprised!

The funny thing is, my sister and I came up with this awhile ago, back when I booked my flight to Washington. And wouldn’t you know it, but last month my mom tells me that she decided to go to Montreal to surprise her sister, my Aunt Maureen, for her birthday! Apparently the apple does not fall too far from the tree!



Hey, remember yesterday when I said of my mother: “Who knows where her world travels will take her next?” The answer was me and my sister. We knew where my mother’s world travels would take her next because we’d already booked a trip to take her to New York City as her birthday present! We wanted to do something extra special for her extra special birthday and we figured that her first trip to NYC would fit the bill1. She’s never been to NYC before and it will be all decorated up for the holidays, so that’s pretty cool. I’ve also never been to NYC before, so it’s also kind of a gift to me too! I also think it’s cool because my sister went to NYC for her 40th and now my mom is going for her 70th and it will also be just weeks before my 40th!

We’ve got tickets to a couple of shows (Wicked and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular) and reservations for a couple of fancy dinners (I can’t remember where. My sister booked them because she’s the good daughter who does all the work of planning and suchlike.). We are very excited to see the big Christmas tree and the big skating rink and Central Park and countless other NYCesque things! If you have any suggestions on must-see/must-do things while we are there (keeping in mind we are only there for 3 days), let me know!


  1. The recent thing that happened south of the border made us a bit less excited at first, but I would like to point out that Obama will still be the president while we are there, so there’s that. []



Today my mom is having a milestone birthday! I’m not going to say which one as the number, according to her “makes me want to throw up”. But as I always reply, “Turning [number redacted] is better than not turning [number redacted]!” Besides, it’s not how old you are, but how old you feel! And my mom is young at heart, enjoying a life of fine wines and world travels!

Here she is in Milan1:


And in London:


And here we are in Ireland:


Who knows where her world travels will take her next?

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

  1. Photo shamelessly stolen from my Aunt Eileen’s Flickr account []


A visit from my mom and my niece

Hey remember that time that my Mom and my niece came to visit me? Of course you don’t, because I didn’t blog1 or tweet/Facebook/etc. any of it while they were here because we were having way too much gallivanting (and perhaps spent all of our tech-related time catching Pokémon instead).

Highlights of their trip included:

  • the New Westminster petting zoo (which I’d never been to before, despite being a New Westie for several years now!)


    My niece holding a bunny at the Queen’s Park Petting Zoo in New West

  • the Vancouver Aquarium, where we petted rays and saw beluga whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, and much more
  • Science World at Telus World of Science2, where we did the spy exhibit. Wasn’t really any science to it, but it was super fun! It was challenging enough to keep us engaged through all the parts of the exhibit – and my niece was the master of figuring out the clues! For the record, we totally figured out who stole the computer chip and why!
  • New West StrEAT food truck festival. It was insanely hot out, but that didn’t keep me, my Mom, my niece, Kalev, Andrew, and I from checking out all of the 88 food trucks. Among us we had an Aussie meat pie, a Japadog, bubble tea, a tacotino, pizza, hurricane potatoes, a Beaver tail, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting!


    My niece was inspired by a photo of a child with ridiculously placed chocolate on his face on the side of the Beaver Tails truck to place some chocolate in a similar ridiculous fashion.

  • BBQ dinners, including pork tenderloin and steaks
  • Granville Island, including Lee’s Donuts3, jewelry shopping4, looking at fancy brooms (and my mom saying “How can I fit this in my luggage?” and then not buying one because she can’t fit it in her luggage – a tradition of hers when she comes to Vancouver), sitting in hammocks (and saying “Where could I hang this?” and realizing we have nowhere to hang hammocks and then not buying them – another tradition when my family comes to town), and lunch at Edible Canada.


    This was a menu item at Edible Canada, but we were pretty sure it is actually a Pokémon.

  • Delicious pizza from Pizza Garden. Crick became obsessed with the pizza box5, even choosing to sleep there at night instead sleeping with me like she usually does. After a few days, I decided that it was time for the pizza box to go (given that it does have bits of food in it, which will get icky) and said “I’m going to take the pizza box to the compost”, and the Crick bolted from across the apartment to the box and stood on it and looked at me as if to say “You aren’t taking this anywhere!”


    Crick is in her happy place

  • Pokemon Go! With all the walking around we did, we had ample opportunity to hunt for wild pocket monsters. We caught an Electrobuzz at the New West petting zoo, and 3 Tauros in one day! We also collected so many Pokémon that we had a whole bunch that we could evolve, so we planned it out so that we could drop a Lucky Egg (which gives you double XP6 for half an hour) and then evolved about 40 Pokémon, which resulted in me finally levelling up from Level 20 to 21 (and getting a good chunk of the way through Level 21 to boot.)) We evolved a few Pokémon that I didn’t have before – a Persian (from a Meowth), a Wortotle (from a Squirtle), a Venomoth (from a Venonat), and a Poliwhirl (from a Poliwag) – and a bunch of ones that I already have just to get the extra XP7.


    My mom, helping us catch a wild Hypno.

  • A very exciting semi-finals hockey game in which my summer hockey team went to an eleven round shootout to decide who went on to the finals!

Lowlights included:

  • Losing the aforementioned hockey semi-final in an eleven round shootout.
  • My mom’s triple injury – she burned her finger on the first day here, she cut two fingers quite deeply on her second day here (trying to open a package with an overly sharp knife)8, and then a few days later is poked herself in the finger with a bamboo skewer while making dinner.
  1. Other than to mention briefly that it was upcoming. []
  2. That is really its name and the ridiculousness of that name makes me laugh every time! []
  3. Hands down the best donuts in the city. []
  4. My mom bought be a gorgeous necklace as a Christmas present. []
  5. As she usually does when I have a pizza box in the house. []
  6. Experience points. []
  7. I’m looking at you, 21 Pidgey evolutions! []
  8. Needless to say, there were some “Not to be trusted with knives” jokes made. []


Happy Birthday Mom!

Day 32

Happy birthday to the best mother around! I hope your day is filled with much joy and many Irish coffees! I love you!



You Should Be Jealous of Me

It seems like only yesterday that this trip to Europe was just a twinkle in my eye and now it’s the day before I leave! In fact, by this time tomorrow, I will be transferring from the Vancouver to Toronto leg of my journey onto the plane that will take me to London!

Despite the fact that I have a stopover in Toronto and my traveling companions – a.k.a., my mom and two of my aunts – are coming from Toronto, we aren’t actually on the same flight and are, in fact, going to different airports in London. I’ll arrive at Heathrow about an hour after they arrive at Gatwick. Our plan is to meet up at our hotel in Earl’s Court and then set about to our galavanting. We have 4 days for adventuring in London and then we fly out to Dublin for an 11-day tour.

These are all the places we shall go in the Emerald Isle.

In Ireland, from what I hear, we will see some extraordinarily beautiful sights, experience some outstanding hospitality, and probably gain 20 lbs from the hearty Irish breakfasts. I plan to kiss the Blarney Stone1 – though one of my epidemiologist colleagues suggested that I should bring some sanitizer to put on the stone first to kill the germs: “People are kissing that thing ALL DAY!!” I will also get to sleep in a castle2 and hit up the Jameson distillery AND the Guinness brewery3. And a whole bunch of other stuff, which I will report back to you on in greater detail than I’m sure you even care to hear4.

From Ireland I head to Nice, via Switzerland, where I intend to do a whole lot of nothing. Where “nothing” consists mainly of sitting on the beach, drinking wine, wandering around town, and doing whatever I feel like.  I have booked a short excursion to Monaco on of the days that I’m there,  and I’ve only just recently clued in that a couple that I know is currently living in France, a few hours from Nice, so I might take a trip out to see them if I can figure out how to get there despite my complete inability to speak French and dreadful sense of direction.

Most importantly, I will spend the next three weeks completely forgetting about work and school and any other such responsibilities. The only evaluations I’ll be conducting will be evaluations of beaches in the south of France. The only research I will be doing will be a comparative analysis of French wines and an ethnographic study in Irish pubs. I figure that it will be easy enough to pretend that I am just independently wealthy and travel around for a living. I mean, money will be going into my back account despite the fact that I won’t be doing any work, right?

The other day I was searching for a particular blog posting of mine when I came upon this one, a promise I was making to my passport to take it on exciting trips. It took me more than two years to finally make good on the promise, but I can finally say that I’ll be getting my passport stamped!

I may do some blogging while I’m away, depending on wifi access and whether I have any time or if I end up adventuring during all my waking hours. If I don’t do it while I’m gone, I’ll be sure to keep good notes and take lots of pictures so that I can blog stuff when I get back. I’ll probably be more likely to tweet, so if you are interested in that, you can follow my tweets: @Beth77.

And now, I’m off to pack!

Update: I forgot to mention that there are four viscous attack frogs who will be in my apartment while I’m gone, so don’t get any bright ideas, thieves. Also, there’s a frog sitter to contend with. Just sayin’.

  1. Because you know that I really need the gift of the gab! []
  2. Just like my frogs! []
  3. The fact that I am not that big on neither whiskey nor Guinness does nothing to dampen my excitement over these two things. []
  4. Because you are jealous. []


Happy Birthday to My Mommy!


My mom & my sister, when they were visiting me for my convocation/my mom’s 60th birthday.

Today is my Mom’s 66th birthday. As you know, my Mom is an amazing lady! She’s taught me so many things, always been there to support me through all my crazy adventures, and raised me to be curious, driven, positive, hard working – basically, all the attributes that have helped me to be successful. I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today with out my mom there, supporting me.

Living so far away as I do, I don’t get to see my mom nearly as much as I would like to. But it means that I have extra incentive to cherish the times that I do get to visit or when she comes to visit me. We always have so much fun together – whether it’s baking up a storm in the kitchen, shopping1, dancing around the living room with my nephew2, listening to my niece read us a book, or just enjoying a cup of tea or a fine glass of wine while catching up. It doesn’t matter what we do, we always end up with lots of laughter and smiles and happy memories.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you!

  1. My Mom loves to shop! []
  2. My nephew does the cutest dance with his Grandma – to the Backstreet Boys, of all bands! []


Things My Mom Taught Me

Day 180Today is my 65th mom’s birthday and, in the nearly 35 years that she’s been my mom, I’ve learned a thing or two from her.

Save Your Money!

My mom was a banker for her entire career. And thus, my sister and I had bank accounts from an early age and we saved our money so that we could afford to get a postsecondary education someday. In order to have money to save, of course, you have to have a job, which I did from the time I got my first paper route, around age 8. All of this taught us a valuable lesson about working hard, valuing money, and delayed gratification. The latter of which, I’ve learned recently, is one of the key predictor of success in life.

Education Is Never A Waste

My mom knew that getting an education was a way that my sister and I could get to do the things we wanted to do in our lives. I’m not sure exactly how she did it, but I don’t remember a time when I didn’t just assume that I’d go on to a postsecondary education after high school. It was just a given, just like how you assumed that after grade 6 you’d go onto grade 7. And we all know that I took that lesson about education to heart!

How To Cook

Of the many things I’m arrogant about, my ability to create culinary masterpieces is at the top of the list. And I owe my love of, and ability to, cook and bake to my mother. From the time we were tiny kids, my mom taught my sister and I the skills we needed to whip up masterpieces and make it look easy. She taught us the importance of using good quality ingredients – there was no artificial vanilla extract or margarine going into her cookies, I can tell you that! She taught us when to improvise and when we needed to follow a recipe precisely. She taught us to keep an eye out for new ideas that we could recreate in our own kitchens. And she demonstrated the fun that can be had by cooking together!

Appreciation for Shoes

While we like very different kinds of shoes, I have gained my appreciation for footwear from my mom, who my dad likes to refer to as Imelda Marcos.

People Are Stupid

Whenever we complained about something someone else had done, my mother would say, “What do we say girls?” And my sister and I would say the standard reply, “People are stupid.” It seems, on the face of it, an odd thing to teach your daughters, but it meant much the same as my sister’s saying of “Good for you. You get a gold star.” The point of it is, while other people may have done something that annoyed you, you don’t have any control over their actions and it really won’t help to complain about it.

Life is Fun

Whenever my family gets together, there is always a lot of laughter. And whenever you see a photo of my mom, she always has a big smile on her face. I think I get my positivity from my mom and that’s probably the best characteristic I have!

I love you, Mommy. I’m glad I got to spend your 65th birthday with you in La Belle Province!


Happy 40th Anniversary to My Parents

number 40

Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad! Here’s to 40 more years!

Image Credit: Posted by jon jordan on Flickr.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom’s birthday is easy to remember – it’s the day after Remembrance Day. It’s also easy for me to remember how old she is, because she was 30 when she had me and since I’ll be 34 in January1, that means she turns 64 today.

Though I talk to my parents on the phone all the time, it’s actually been quite a while since I got to see my mom. Almost two years, in fact, as the last time I visited Ontario was two years ago this month for my niece’s 4th birthday:


My mom’s the one in the purple shirt2.

I’m going to Ontario for Christmas, so I’ll get to see my parents then. Until then, this blog posting will have to do.

Happy birthday, Mom!

  1. omg. That sounds very old. Has anyone seen my cane?? []
  2. Note to self: get better photos of my mom on my trip to Ontario at Christmas []