Oct 31, 2011

Wonderful Weekend Reflections

3 comments:
It's Monday and I'm still basking in the glow of a wonderful weekend! In no particular order, here are the highlights!

  • Date night with my husband Friday night (great Indian food and fantastic conversation).
  • Some Christmas shopping was done! Yes... we started already and we're almost done!
  • Playing board games with my eldest daughter.
  • Converting my daughter's blue school house into a hospital.


  • Completing some much needed cleaning and organizing.
  • Coffee!
  • Delicious pasteries Saturday morning (I love it when my husband surprises me)!
  • Finishing a variety of projects that have been weighing me down.
  • Church Saturday night! The best praise and worship followed by a three part monologue about the prodigal son. Awesome!
  • Matching pajamas.


  • Shopping for snowsuits for the kids.
  • Coffee!
  • Baby cuddles and 3-year-old giggles.
  • Pumpkin carving.


  • The look on my baby's face when she first saw the carved pumpkins.


  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Knitting! It's not spectacular but practice makes perfect right?
  • Watching shows with the hubby.
  • AND... dipping into the Halloween candy (just a little).

I just love weekends like these. Lots of memorable moments and family time. What did you do this weekend?

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Oct 29, 2011

Making The Most Of Date Night

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Last night my hubby and I enlisted our sitters and went on a date. This was our first date since we had child #2. Needless to say, I was excited, elated and a little anxious.

Leading up to our date, I decided that I wanted our evening to be extra special. We made reservations at our favourite restaurant, I showered (which usually only happens every second day), styled my hair, did my makeup and selected a hot dress to wear! I was ready... but then I started to panic.

Our dates tend to turn into meetings about our children or work. I wanted this evening to be special. I didn't want to discuss things like when we plan on introducing solid foods to our baby or the activities we should enroll our eldest child in. I wanted the night to be about us, the people that we are, not our roles as Mommy and Daddy. With a little preparation, I concocted a plan....

I spent half an hour Friday afternoon gathering dinner conversation questions. I printed and cut them out and brought them to dinner with us. I made the rule that we could only talk about kids or work IF it related to the question being asked. We took turns reading the questions to one another and we both answered each question. Some of the questions included:

  • What do you want to accomplish in the next year... the next five years? How can I help you reach those goals?
  • If you could drop everything right now and do anything at all... what would you do?
  • What quality do you like the most about me?
  • What is your best memory from our honeymoon?
  • What can I do to show you how much I love you?
  • Other than family and friends, what gives you the most joy? Why?

I was amazed at how such a simple idea added such an amazing dynamic to our date! We laughed. We shared. We reminisced. I cried (but that's not unusual because I always find a way to cry). Most importantly, we connected.

Even the best relationships need work. Whether you've been together for six months or sixty years, it's important to take the time to reacquaint yourself with that person you fell in love with.

What do you do to stay connected with your partner? How do you make the most of date night?


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Oct 28, 2011

{this moment: ukulele}

7 comments:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Wishing you a wonderful weekend!




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Oct 25, 2011

High Fashion: A Different Perspective

4 comments:
Children have such freedom when it comes to dressing themselves. I once shared that I just love how children can feel perfectly confident and content dressing themselves in a cowboy hat, a tutu and rubber boots!

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of fashion on the runways and wonder... WHAT!? However, the other day I have an epiphany that maybe these world famous designers are riding on the coat-tails of three-year-olds. I would like to take a moment to give you a glimpse of what fashions to expect on the runways in 2012.


This year, hats are in!
Wear them with anything and everything!

Fashion repeats itself.
Trekkie is back in style!

Boots are big!
A great pair of boots can even make pajamas look fabulous.

Prima Ballerina is also back in style!
Don't forget to accessorize with socks!

Colour, colour, colour!!!
Bright colours are big. This year there are no "rules". Get creative with your colour combinations... anything goes!

Don't forget to accessorize! This year, glasses are THE hot item!

Lastly, fashion is all about confidence. So no matter what, don't forget to use the "Blue Steel" look. Yes my friends, I'll admit it... I love Zoolander.

Have you heard of any other upcoming fashion trends for 2012??? If so, feel free to share!



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Oct 24, 2011

A Year And A Miracle Later

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Today I had the realization that a little over a year ago I poured out my heart about how my husband and I had been struggling to get pregnant. Just a few short weeks after publishing that posting, we found out we were pregnant with our second child.

She is now here in my life and every time I look at my beautiful baby I think...

I am blessed. God is great.

I am so fortunate to have this amazing, living and growing miracle in my life.




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Oct 21, 2011

{this moment: big boots}

7 comments:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Wishing you a wonderful weekend!



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Oct 20, 2011

The Monster In My Bathroom

8 comments:
Well kiddies... with Halloween around the corner, I thought I would tell you a frightening and true tale. So pull up a chair, sip a hot chocolate, dim the lights and brace yourself for a horror story of epic proportions.

This happened just a few short hours ago. The most frightening thing ever, I'm a wreck just thinking about it....

I had just taken a relaxing bath. I stepped out of the tub and was just about to reach for a towel when I saw IT. I'm not talking about the toilet that only flushes 50% of the time, or the toothpaste crusted on the bottom of the sink. No. I saw IT... the biggest, most disgusting, most terrifying spider I have ever seen in my life! Don't laugh. It was big! Correction... it was gigantic and it was in the worst place ever! It was right near the ceiling, on the wall, just a couple feet above the towels.


My skin began to crawl. Here I was, wet, naked, alone at home with two young children and no husband to save me from this beast. My mind began to reel. What was I going to do? How do I get rid of it?
I made up my mind to get a fresh towel from the hall closet.

I left the bathroom and decided to ignore it. My husband could deal with it in a few hours when he returns from work. I can get ready in the other bathroom... no problem.

But then I had an image play before my eyes, almost as if it were a movie. What if I went back to the bathroom and the spider is gone? What if it burrows into one of the towels and the next time I take a bath there it is! Or what if it crawls into my makeup bag and when I reach in for something, I accidentally grab it! Or worse yet, what if I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and it runs up my leg while I'm sitting on the toilet?

Goosebumps formed on my arms.

I knew I would have to deal with this issue and quickly before the beast gets away.

Wrapped in a towel, armed with a spray bottle, I returned to the bathroom.

It was still there.

I climbed up on a stool (strategically placed a few feet outside of the spider-falling-down-to-the-ground-zone) and sprayed the bottle.

I kid you not, this spider jumped off the wall towards me!!!

I screamed, fell off of the stool, and the towel that was wrapped around me crumpled to the ground.

Daughter (who was having her rest time) yells from the living room: "Mommy what's happening?"

Me: "Nothing. I just scared myself."

I looked up and the spider was back in the original spot.

So here I was, once again naked and freaking out that I will never be able to get rid of this spider! Then I thought, my husband won't believe me that this spider actually jumped. So, I got my camera, returned to the bathroom, took a few pictures of it and then sprayed it again (while videotaping). I know!!! I'm crazy, right?

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See! It jumped! Sorry about the shaky camera. I was terrified.

Unfortunately, this thing jumps right back to the same spot! It seemed like it would never come off of the wall, so I sprayed it one last time. It fell to the floor with an audible "thwap"... and that's when I swooped in and crushed it with a handful of toilet paper.

Victory.

If you're an arachnid bleeding heart activist, don't leave me any hateful messages. I swear if my hubby were home the "cute little eight-legged guy" would be safely delivered into the yard. I'm not that brave and... I'm scared of spiders.

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Oct 19, 2011

Stop Food Waste By Meal Planning

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"Roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to 1.3 billion tons per year" (FA0, 2011, p. v). This waste takes place on various levels from production to processing. However, much of the waste comes from us... the consumers.

Have you ever "cleaned" your fridge before a grocery trip? I know I used to. However, over the past year my family has embraced the process of meal planning. As a result, we have cut back significantly on food waste and we have saved thousands of dollars! Our family budget for food used to be almost $900 a month. We now spend $600 a month simply by meal planning. We eat healthier than ever and haven't compromised on any of our edible "luxuries".

Here are a few meal planning tips that helped us make this positive change.

Make a budget.
The first thing you should do is determine how much you spend on food and try to come up with a figure less than that. Challenge yourself... you might be surprised at how much you can save!

Take stock of everything in your pantry and refrigerator.
A few minutes before meal planning, take a quick inventory of the food you currently have. Make note of anything that is close to its expiry date and include those items in the first few days of your meal plan. See how many meals you can make with your current food "inventory" before having to do any grocery shopping.

Make your grocery list while you are planning your meals.
If there's something you're missing from a meal, immediately add the item to your grocery list (i.e. you have tomatoes, cucumber and peppers to put in a salad but you don't have lettuce; add lettuce to your grocery list).

Enlist the help of your family members.What does everyone want to eat? Suggestions from children can help spark a refreshing meal idea! Plus, making what people want to eat helps prevent food waste!

Look through cookbooks or your favourite Internet websites for recipe ideas and inspiration.
Make note of any of the recipes you decide to use. The Internet is a fantastic meal planning resource! Check out websites like Super Cook. This fantastic site allows you to enter ingredients (the ones you already have), and then it generates a list of recipes which include those ingredients!

Plan for multiple meals.
Avoid scheduling the same food for too many days in a row. "Overscheduling" the same meals often leads to boredom, which can lead to more food waste. We usually plan for a big supper that will yield leftovers for the following day's lunch. This makes packing lunches that much easier! The following evening we make a new meal. By scheduling our meals this way, we never eat the same meal on the same day.

Plan your meals all the way up to and including the day of your next scheduled grocery trip.
Avoid random trips to the grocery store by planning your meals for the entire week.

Gather your flyers.
We round up our flyers and select the grocery store that has the best prices for what we have on our list. I involve my oldest daughter during this process and give her some of her own flyers and a calculator. She has a lot of fun "calculating" our groceries and it's a great opportunity to expose her to some basic mathematical concepts.


Take inventory of your coupons.
We also take an inventory of the coupons we could potentially use on our grocery trip. Reviewing coupons and assessing the prices in flyers could save lots of money!

Don't forget the list!
You've done all this work... don't forget your list at home. Make sure you always enter the grocery store with a list.

Post your menu plan somewhere visible.
Whether you write your menu on your household calendar or you have a menu board; make sure your menu plan is somewhere visible so that you can stick to your plan! After a year of scribbling out my menu on the family calendar I recently embarked on the project of making my own wipe-off menu board. The instructions to make one of your own can be found HERE. I love that I can dramatically change the look of this menu board simply by changing the background paper!

The simple task of planning meals can make a huge difference in your household food waste and in the amount of money you spend on groceries. Do you meal plan? Do you have any additional tips or suggestions that make your meal planning a success?


References
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2011). Global food losses and food waste. Retrieved October 19, 2001 from http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ags/publications/GFL_web.pdf.
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Oct 17, 2011

Chicken Soup With Rice

1 comment:
My oldest daughter absolutely adores the Maurice Sendak book, Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months We had been reading it quite regularly when my daughter asked if we could have chicken soup with rice. I obliged and threw together a recipe of my own. For the past couple of months it has been a staple in our house, so I figured it was time to share the recipe with you!


The Ingredients
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
9 cups water
4 vegetable bouillon cubes (we like the McCormick brand because it doesn't have MSG in it)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped (leaves and all)
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 drops Tabasco sauce
Pepper, to taste
3/4 cups long grain brown rice, rinsed well

The Process
Break up and dissolve the bouillon cubes in 1/2 cup warm water.
Place all the ingredients except the rice in a large pot and bring the ingredients to a rolling boil.
Add rinsed rice and cook until rice is tender (about 50 minutes).
Serve with crackers or a batch of our vegan biscuits!
Of course, once the soup has settled in our bellies, we gather in the livingroom and dance to Carole King's song; Chicken Soup With Rice.
Enjoy!



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Oct 15, 2011

Imperfection... As Evidenced In Pictures

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Becoming a family of four has been both exciting and challenging. My biggest adjustment has been letting go of perfection. In the blogging world it's hard not to get caught up in the photos of perfect homes, with perfect children, with perfect crafts and perfect recipes and cleanliness that makes the colour white look dingy. It's pretty easy to feel, well, less than perfect.

I have been driving myself crazy with tasks to stay on top of the "mess". Meanwhile, I've been feeling overwhelmed. I am quickly finding out that cleaning and caring for two children do not coexist in the same realm of reality. So, I've been letting go... bit by bit.

The perfection found on blogs is deceiving because it is the person behind the camera to chooses which photo to display. They choose which words to write and which story to share. They control what the reader sees. I've been guilty of it. I admit I've taken a picture of my daughter and realized there was a mess in the background. I would remove the mess and then retake the picture. I can't be perfect, you can't be perfect. Only God Himself is perfect. However, what better therapy than to take a moment and share my household "imperfections" with you....

I give you Exhibit A... bike hanging off of the deck.


The bike as you can see has a large rock in the basket. Oldest child drives said bike off the deck and the bike gets stuck. Bystanders reported that the bike stayed this way for almost two weeks. One day the bike finally tipped over onto the sidewalk and had to be moved. Who knows how long the bike would have stayed there if it wouldn't have fallen onto the sidewalk?

Exhibit B... the junk drawer that overflows onto the counter above it.


Notice the basket behind the Kleenex box (the one overflowing with stuff)? This could be deemed as a feeble attempt at organization.

Exhibit C... the night table.


Notice the Kleenex box precariously balanced on the alarm clock? And how about that stack of books and magazines? Too much time or too little time to read? What do you think?

Exhibit D... the disorderly play kitchen.


One of my most popular blog postings was on how my husband and I made this kitchen. This is what it looks like 97% of the time.

Exhibit D... dirty kid.


Yes, one of the many "cute" moments when child #1 colours self while mom is busy making supper, caring for child #2, or in this case, talking on the phone with Grandma.

Exhibit E... the coffee mug in the bathroom.


Now this is multi-tasking and not in the way you think! A cup of coffee and the application of makeup helps a busy mom feel human. Unfortunately the hubby is grossed out by this (especially when the cup of coffee is half finished and left on the counter for the rest of the day... and the evening... and the following morning...).

And finally, Exhibit F... the overflowing laundry hamper.


At least the laundry is in the hamper! Don't you just love the way the lid is propped on top? Like it's going to "hide" the fact that laundry hasn't been done for a while?

So that's it... my imperfect home. It's times like this I'm glad my grandmother doesn't have Internet access. I think she would faint after realizing I aired my dirty laundry in public *BARUMP-CHA!* (Yes, that was my feeble attempt at humour).

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Oct 14, 2011

{this moment: little hands}

4 comments:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Wishing you a wonderful weekend!



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Oct 13, 2011

The Topic I Never Thought I Would Write About

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When I first began blogging, I swore there were a few topics I thought I would never write about. These topics included; sex, politics and God. However, how can I be honest with myself and honest with my readers if I'm hiding a huge part of me and what's going on in my life? So, today I am breaking that oath because I need to share a little bit about the recent wrestling match I've had with God and with my own spirituality. My spirituality is a personal journey but for today I feel the need to express my innermost emotions.

I grew up with constant exposure to God and Christianity. Throughout my life and on several occasions I have renewed and rekindled my walk with God and accepted Jesus Christ into my life. But there were questions and issues which I struggled with. That inner voice that screams;

How can there be a hell? If I choose not to believe in hell, then I've just dismissed God, Christ and Christianity.

What about people who don't know about Christ? Will they go to hell?

Why does bad things happen to good people... more specifically, people who are devoted to God?

I know these are common questions that many people ask but being a logical person I felt I needed answers to these questions before budging on my faith. So I would pull away from God and search, once again, for answers to my inquiries.

Then something happened.

It wasn't earth shattering... it was a whisper, then a hint, then a revelation.

I am afraid.

I am afraid of dying. I am afraid of something happening to my children and my husband. I am afraid that my friends would challenge or dismiss me because my views may contradict theirs. Most importantly, I am afraid of God. I am afraid to live because I am afraid to die. I have been hiding under the blankets, hoping God wouldn't see me. Hoping He wouldn't call on me to step up and seek Him out. I've been fearful that if I did commit to Him that I would be tested like Job and that everything near and dear to me would be taken away from me.

So began my journey of opening my Bible and praying and trusting in Him. I don't have the answers to my questions but that's okay... this is, in part, what having faith is about. Right now I feel God's presence but He feels out of reach. So, like Jacob (Genesis 32: 24-29) I will wrestle with Him and hang onto Him until He blesses me.

And you know what? For the first time ever I can say, I'm not afraid.

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Oct 12, 2011

The Secrets of Play

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As an Early Childhood Educator, I am continuously surprised by the language of play. Play is like art... no two children paint the same play picture. The way their play evolves is unique and dynamic. Sometimes by watching our children play, a secret may be revealed to us. Here's a recent revelation I had while observing my daughter play....

My daughter has a set of craft drawers in her play room. The drawers contain assorted papers for her to choose from. She also has a selection of containers which hold her markers, pencils and crayons. I frequently set up her play room for the following day's activities and every day I discover the same thing... the drawers crammed full of all the drawing supplies.

I figured my daughter was cleaning up the fastest way possible until one day I watched her closely.

"I'm here!" she exclaimed.

"Wait for me!" she said as she put the green pencil crayon in the hole.

"We want to come too!"

"There's... not... enough... room... for... us."

So now I know. The crayons, markers, and pencils were going to a party at their friend's house. Of course they had to go through the door... the circular door.

Do you watch your children play? What secrets have you discovered?

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Oct 10, 2011

Thankful

2 comments:

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

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Oct 8, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

1 comment:
With Thanksgiving weekend here, I thought I would share a recipe other than the traditional pumpkin pie recipe... Vegan Pumpkin Bread.


At first I thought that a pumpkin bread would be dry but this bread is full of flavour and really moist! The original recipe comes from allrecipes.com but of course I modified it to make it vegan.

The Ingredients
3 1/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp pumpkin spice
2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cups water
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
Egg replacer (enough for 4 eggs)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla


The Process
Heat oven to 350 F.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl.

Stir to blend.

Add pumpkin, water, oil, egg replacer, oil and vanilla; beat until well combined.

Pour into prepared pans.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Test with a toothpick to ensure the loaves are cooked all the way through.

Let cool on wire racks before slicing.

This bread tasted amazing. In fact, it tastes the best on the second day... but who can wait that long to eat this yummy treat?!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Oct 7, 2011

{this moment: reading}

1 comment:
Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Wishing you a wonderful weekend!



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Oct 5, 2011

My Heart, My Tears, My Love...

5 comments:
My beautiful baby is almost three months old. She is growing and changing so fast that it breaks my heart. Our family of four will remain a family of four. Even though this is what my husband and I want, it saddens me because every first is a last. This posting is dedicated to my baby....

I loved you when you were a thought in my mind.
I loved you the minute I knew you were to be.
I loved you the moment I felt you inside me.

Your first cries will always be in my mind.
Your beautiful, thick, hair;
Your furrowed brow;
The rolls of skin around your neck, your wrists, your knees;
I love all of you.

I love the way you look at me as I feed you.
I love the way you grab onto my finger and hold on tight.
I love the way you crane your neck to look at me when you hear my voice.
I love your gurgles and your coos.
I love your laugh... it fills me with complete joy.

You are my darling baby.
My love for you hurts so much.
I don't want to forget.
I want every moment to last.
I loved you. I love you. I will always love you.

Here are a few images and a song to capture the love that I have for you and the memories I never want to forget:

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Oct 3, 2011

The First Happy Face

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My eldest daughter turns four in January. She loves to colour, paint, and draw. As an Early Childhood Educator, I've been waiting for her artwork to evolve from the scribbling stage to the preschematic stage (conscious creation of form / initial creation of representational drawings).

I've been waiting.
I've been watching.
I've been wondering....

How will her artwork evolve if she doesn't have peer influence and exposure? She doesn't go to preschool or attend daycare and when she is with friends, she's either dancing or playing. Can or will her artwork evolve without peer influence? It has to evolve... it just may take more time.

Then it happened. We were playing a game with the family and she drew a happy face on a whiteboard. We were shocked and wondered if this was her intent or if it was accidental.

The next day my daughter ran into my bedroom, a smile spread across her face. She handed me a piece of paper and declared, "It's a happy face Mommy! It's for you!"

My eyes welled up and my head swirled with pride. It indeed was a happy face... the most beautiful one I have ever seen.


I know this blog posting isn't influential, revealing or life-changing. It's a blog posting about a mom and one of those simple, special moments that makes motherhood the amazing journey that it is.


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Oct 1, 2011

I Hate Musicals

18 comments:
New York - Mary Poppins

Yes. It's true. I hate musicals.

I'm sure there are other people like me in the world but I haven't encountered many people who don't like musicals.

I think my dislike of this form of entertainment started when I was young. I recall not especially enjoying The Wizard of Oz. I also recall getting restless during musical numbers in animated features. This ploy used to keep children engaged in the feature film did not work for me... in fact it was quite the opposite. When the musical number started that was the time for me to go pee, to get more snacks, or to watch other people in the theatre.

I find it really challenging to watch something where people break out into song, mid-sentence! It's not realistic. It's not enjoyable. It's annoying!

My strong aversion to musicals has created some issues for me.

1- My husband absolutely loves The Fiddler on the Roof. I refuse to see it.

2- The fact that I haven't seen Hairspray, Grease, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music has made me feel like a social pariah.

3- My husband and I were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD; when we got to the musical episode I could not bear it. I turned it off just a couple minutes into the opening sequence. When it came time to watch the next episode we were lost! The musical episode of Buffy apparently had a lot of important plot points. Was this enough for me to go back and watch the episode? No.

4- I would love to see Mamma Mia. I grew up listening to ABBA and I have fond memories of dancing to their records in my grandma's living room. I doubt I will ever watch Mamma Mia... because it's a musical. Sad, I know, but I'm sure I couldn't get through the whole show.

Well, that's my confession for the day. If you love musicals, please don't hate me... I just don't enjoy it! But if you also hate musicals, please comment here... we could bond over the fact that we dislike the same thing!


Photo Credit
Photo by PeterJBellis found in the Creative Commons on Flickr

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