End of Summer – 2017

As we go into the last long weekend of the summer, I am saddened to be saying good-bye to such an amazing 2 months! It’s been awhile since I felt this way. Of course, I’ve enjoyed many past summer months but with work always being so crazy, it really just sort of blends into the next season for me.

This summer, though… there was something very different about this past summer, which I will get into at the end of the post. First, a re-cap of some of the memories we’ve made to end our warmer months of the year!

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March boardwalk view from one of the trails.

We did go on our traditional, week-long camping trip. This time, we selected a new Provincial Park – Charleston Lake. Being a park with a lot of great nature trails, moderate to difficult hiking trails and many scenic canoeing routes (through the diverse amounts of islands in the bay), this was a very ideal park for us to go camping.

I was able to hit the trails three times on my own during the early mornings while the rest of the family slept in. I eventually got into vacation mode during the last half of the week and slept in as well but I usually am always the first to wake up. We also, as a family, hit three trails together. All in all, I tried to stay active since it was one week away from my usual workout routine.

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Found a great hidden spot on a tiny isolated island. We stayed here for a quiet picnic.

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Our last day paddling for an hour before we headed back to the city.

We managed to rent the canoe for two days. Day one was to find an isolated and deserted island for a picnic. Day two was the same afternoon we were heading back to the city. After packing everything up, we decided it was worth to rent and paddle for at least an hour before heading back. Both times did not disappoint!

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The slowest ride on earth. Seriously – I was bored after being stuck/stalled for the 3rd time.

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It’s traditional to go on the Ferris Wheel for a great view!

We arrived back for a 3-day weekend, just to give us some time to rest and relax before heading back to work the following week. We decided, since that Friday was going be the opening day of The Ex, to head there for the latter half of the day. The last time we went was 8 years ago. Chaeli doesn’t even remember any of it.

I always realize after spending some time at The Ex why we do not go every year. It’s expensive and really, pretty much the same thing each time. I imagine the next time Chaeli goes, it will be with her friends, leaving Doug and I at home (which will be fine by me).

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Caprese salad – with fresh basil from the garden.

The rest of our days have been drinking wine, making the use of our fresh basil before it’s too late and listening to more k-pop. Which brings me to my final point…

I have had the best summer bonding with my daughter. Sure, k-pop helped as she introduced me to this fun and entertaining world. But the conversations that developed out of this shared fascination has been so wonderful.

I will cherish these summer memories forever. I hope she will too!

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And Now I’m Hooked on K-Pop

It’s just very, very sad. Not only how k-pop has taken over our house but I’m now completely hooked! I can’t stop listening to the music – specifically from EXO and BTS.

EXO Review:

Compared to BTS, they are on average older. They’ve been in the scene for several years and I’m glad I caught them at this more mature stage of their career. When Chaeli first started to forward me videos they were all so very young, I couldn’t tell who was who and their performance, while good, was lacking. Now that they are a more mature-EXO, their individuality is much more evident making them more enjoyable to watch.

Singing and dancing is great – it’s obvious each members strength though, so while some may have a great solo career, others obviously will require to always be a part of the band to succeed.

Do I have a bias? Yes. Which pains me because my two biases are NOT the oldest ones. Even the older ones (late 20’s) are still too young for me but at least I can’t use the line that I’m old enough to by their mother (minus the teen pregnancy scenario that is – yes I’m stretching it). At least the one I like the most looks older, though.

I’m human. I can not turn away from this photo of Kai:

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Kai (EXO)

Their more recent concerts have also shown a more sexier style of dancing. Once again, I AM HUMAN! I watch this and think of how much I would like to be that cane (Kai is the blond one who dances blind-folded in the end). Must watch both songs, “Playboy” and “Artificial Love”:

I’m just glad that Chaeli’s biases are so very different from mine. She likes the younger looking ones. At least I’ve got that! Sort of.

Their latest album “WAR” is fantastic! I can’t stop listening to this album – especially Ko Ko Bop, The Eve and What U Do.

BTS Review:

A much younger band but they’ve climbed their way to the top pretty fast, even winning a Billboard award this year and proving their ability to crack into the main stream scene.

Music is very energetic. THEY are very energetic. I have been working out to mostly their tunes and it’s benefiting my own energy level. I’ve also been obsessed with their dancing. These boys have fast and precise footwork. And their music videos are high quality production pieces.

Check out Fire – This is probably one of my favourite videos from them. It’s fun and energetic:

As for any biases, I will just let my daughter focus on her top 3 (V, Jungkook and Suga). They are young and they look young. And they act young. I’ll just focus on their talents and leave it at that!

K-Pop Has Taken Over Our House

It’s part of parenting a teen. And no matter how you think you’re being on top of things all pop-culture, as most of my fellow parents are in my generation, it never fails – your teen will get into something which you didn’t see coming.

Lets face it – most of us have seen it all. We’ve been through the different types of fashion fads as they have recycled through time (with modifications of course). We’ve listened to all genre’s of music as well as movies and TV shows.

And until there’s a new form of STD, we’ve learned all about those, too! (And if we haven’t, we should – and we should also get up to speed of the latest drugs on the streets because it is just good practice to be prepared for these types of discussions with our kids).

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K-Pop Band – EXO

The thing is, my 13 year old daughter and her friends, are now just CRAZY over k-pop. And I mean crazy-CRAZY! I have no problem with this. I didn’t expect it, to be honest. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am over-the-top thrilled they have discovered something outside the mainstream of North American pop-culture. I just didn’t know a thing about this subculture which actually, has a huge fan-base – and not just in South Korea but internationally.

I’ve been trying to keep up with her. She comes home and introduces me to new singles. I download them for her iPod. And I watch the YouTube music videos she sends me (well, not all, she sends me a lot!) While I have no idea who’s who in whatever band she is into at any given time, I’ve at least figured out a couple of the boys she crushes after.

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BTS – Winners of the 2017 Bill Board Awards

As I bond with her, while she teaches me everything she knows about the K-Pop culture, I have to sit back and smile.

I remember what it was like being her age – I remember becoming “boy-crazy” and crushing after popular band members and teen beat heart throbs. The feeling was new and exciting. And innocent. It was, after all, uncomplicated crushes to be shared with girlfriends who had similar crushes.

This is a stage that is both amusing and adorable at the same time. And I have to admit, some of the songs are quite impressive. I’ve been listening to the ones I’ve downloaded for her while at work. And strange as it sounds, her friends are envious that her mom is into the same music and buying the songs/albums from iTunes for her.

Who would have thought this would bump up my popularity among her friends?

Why “13 Reasons Why Not” isn’t THAT Bad

I was skeptical at first. Really skeptical. And not because of all the controversial talk about how the series glamorizes teen suicide. I wasn’t worried about that – mainly because after doing my own reading on the internet, most articles who claimed professional psychiatrist stated this show could spur real life copy-cats, no where did they even give any reference of credibility of such professionals or case studies. Once again, alternate facts looms over us again.

And of the few supposed copy-cats that surfaced on the news after the series aired, there was no direct cause-and-effect relationship tied to show and real suicide victim. And the fact is – leaving a suicide note is not a new thing. Of course, with modern-day technology, letters are, I suppose, old school. Video and/or audio recording is probably more realistic these days.

The show, 13 Reasons Why, was not a great show and had mediocre acting (though I will say the main actor, Dylan Minnette, who’s character, Clay – who we watch as he unravels the mysteries from each tape – was my favorite). It captivated my attention enough to get me to watch all 13 episodes. Yet, 1/3rd into the show, I really was just wanting to get to the end so I could find out what lead to her suicide (the tapes gradually explained how they were all connected – but there appeared to be this looming doom which broke her soul at the very end).

Why I continued to watch the show was basically because of this:

While the suicide was a main focal point of the show, the issues that surrounded it was what people should be talking about: drugs, alcohol abuse, bullying and rape.

Especially the last two – bullying and rape (or assault of any kind).

So while the masses are upset with the show, fearing teens will be easily swayed to end their lives in a dramatic, revenge-like “trend”, I ask this… Would our teens feel a need to even consider suicide if they did not have to go to an institution day in and day out, facing such risks? When they go home, with social media being such a huge part of their lives, can they even escape it when they are not at school?

What are we as parents, the community and the school doing to prevent this warped, criminal behavior from happening? I say this because before this show even existed, this sad reality has happened before. The one I can’t get out my mind was the teen girl who was gang-raped by four of her classmates. The rapists took photos during the act and the photos went viral. Shortly after, she was bullied. Like 13 Reasons Why, she was called a slut and her reputation from good, sweet girl, flipped 180. Just like that. This poor teen suicide victim not only endured a horrible and criminal act, but then went through significantly, cruel bullying.

So for all the parents out there, outraged by this show, I ask this – what are WE doing to try and prevent this from happening in real life? If the issues on the show were not a real concern in our society, would there even BE such a show? Did we shape our culture/society to basically, give birth to the plot line of 13 Reasons Why?

I’m a bit dumbfounded why everyone seems to be pointing fingers at the show, stating it is too dangerous for teens to watch and lacks any accountability of the message. Yet what about the discussions this show has cultivated? Are we going to continue and point fingers at a fictional show (or novel which it was based off of) and ignore the fact that we have the power to make a change in society? What about the good that has come from all this controversy? What about the teens who created a project called “13 Reasons Why Not?”

People are also upset about this fictional teen leaving tapes – as if she was being selfish.

She was in pain. People who commit suicide are not thinking logically. They are not behaving normally. To blame the victim (for victimizing others in the aftermath) is a moot point. However, let me ask this – what if those tapes stop these people from making the same mistake to others? What if it is enough to bring charges down on the rapist(s)? What if it saves another life?

Honestly, before I watched the show I did not have a strong opinion of all the controversy surrounding the topic of 13 Reasons Why because it sounded like a pretty bad show. I don’t mean bad in that the subject was a horrible subject. I mean… it just sounded like a really bad show!

And, while it was not as bad as I imagined it to be, yeah, it was still bad.

I am not too swayed with this fear of teens glamorizing suicide. If they were in a suicidal state to begin with, the problem was there way before even watching this TV series.

The topics, however, were important to me. As a parent of a teen who has started discussing this show with friends (even though she has not seen it yet – she told me she is not interested at this point), I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to know what exactly happens so when she has questions or want to talk about it, I am hopefully, more ready than not.

Perhaps this show sort of sucked – but the topics are very real. We must stop the ignorance and get to the root of this problem. Increasing teen suicide rates are NOT due to this show. And we need to do something about it.

“Well… the truth is… actually… I’m in love.”

You know that scene from Love Actually? The one where the stepfather is trying to now be THE parent after the son’s mother dies?

And then the next scene we see these together, they have the following dialogue:

DANIEL: We can definitely crack this. Remember, I was a kid once, too. So, come on, it’s someone at school. Right?

SAM: Yup.

DANIEL: And what does she/he, feel about you?

SAM: SHE doesn’t even know my name. And even if she did, she’d despise me. She’s the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she’s heaven.

DANIEL: Good. Good. Well, basically…you’re fucked, aren’t you?

I loved how the father did not make any assumption of his step-son’s sexual orientation. Why would he assume Sam is straight when they have never had this talk before?

Let me tell you something, though. Talking to your kid about crushes and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships is not easy. Not easy at all. And it’s not that, I, as a parent, have problems talking to my 13-year old girl about it. It’s the getting her to open up to me part that’s not easy.

She’s at this age where everything is embarrassing. EVERYTHING! And she’s developed this physical tick in response to most of what I say. Some people call it the ‘eye-rolling syndrome.’ I just call it annoying.

The thing is last night, at the pub where we watched the Toronto Raptors kick ass in the NBA playoffs (see? I told you I like basketball more than hockey), I got to talking about what’s going on in her love life.

And I sort of pulled a Liam Neeson-Love Actually thing. I said, “So last year you liked so and so. What about this year? Do you have a crush on a boy… err… or girl?”

“Mom,” and of course she says this while rolling her eyes.

“What?”

“I’m not… you know.”

“What? Gay?”

“Right.” More eye-rolling.

“Okay – well, I didn’t want to assume! There’s nothing wrong if you are you know?”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore…”

I probably screwed up that conversation. In fact, she is probably mortified – and hence will be in debt in the future from all the expensive therapy sessions I will have caused her.