5:30 am. There is a hint of blue in the sky. I’m standing on the edge of a canyon, waiting for the first rays of sun to rise over the horizon. It’s hazy. The sky begins to lighten, and I wait for the red and gold streaks of light to appear before me. It gets lighter. No colours in the sand.

A new day has arrived, deep in the desert of Southern Israel. While I didn’t see the sunrise I had hoped for, I did experience the quiet serenity of early morning in the desert, in the land I have hoped to visit for months.

The Israel I arrived to this week is not the same one I last visited in the summer of 2022. In recent months I have written about, and  I have shared my thoughts, about the attack on Israel on October 7th, 2023. And since that day, over 6 months ago, instead of fearing this place, I have longed to be here.  

I’m a “words” person, I often tell people. I can take random, often unconnected details, and string them together into something coherent, often beautiful. I tell stories. I even joke that data can’t tell me what I need to know. Data is just numbers. A bunch of numbers are meaningless. It’s what you do with the numbers, how you can connect them, to create your story.

Somehow, many different kinds of numbers came at me today, in the desert, and together they are forming my story.

Hundreds of Millions of Years          

That’s the approximate age of the Ramon Crater, where I watched the sun rise this morning. With its unique rock formations and colourful sands, it is central to the history of this land and its geology. I looked out at this magnificent vista, which holds the stories of thousands of years of civilizations who have lived in this land. It grounded me. It calmed me. It reminded me of where I was and why I worked so hard to get here.

The hint of sunrise over the crater

Three Attempts – on Four Airlines

For this one there are so many numbers that keep swirling through my head. We were booked to fly to Israel on April 13th, on Air Canada, non-stop. Stay with me as our saga has many twists and turns….

The flight was canceled, just after we boarded. With hundreds of drones and missiles being shot at Israel by Iran that evening, all flights were grounded. The flight was rebooked to take off the next day, but of course the rebooked flight was again canceled the following morning. We were determined to still fly (to attend our niece’s wedding), so we were rebooked, on Air Canada and Austrian Air to fly through London and Vienna.

With our second trip to the airport in two days, that flight didn’t happen either. But I didn’t give up. Our tickets were refunded and we rebooked on KLM, to fly on Saturday, April 20th, with a stop in Amsterdam. A couple of days before we were scheduled to fly…. Yep, that flight was canceled too and we were moved to Air France, to fly on Sunday, April 21st.

The third time was a charm, on the fourth airline, and we landed in Israel, on Monday, April 22nd.

Twenty-Six People

We landed in Israel just a few hours before the start of the holiday of Passover. After a week trying to travel here, and two long flights, during which I didn’t sleep, I was very emotional. As the pilot announced that we had entered Israeli airspace and to please fasten our seatbelts, I felt tears falling down my face. I couldn’t keep it in anymore, how I felt to finally get there.

Usually one of my favourite places, I felt sad as I walked this path.

When we got off the plane, I immediately felt that I had arrived in a different Israel. As I walked down the ramp to passport control, looking at the sign telling me, “Welcome to Israel,” to my right and left were the names and faces of the hostages. It was these people who welcomed me, who are being held captive, and that I must remember that every moment I am here.

An empty Seder table set up in front of an ancient winery in Rehovot.

We arrived at my mother-in-law’s house just two hours before the Seder, exhausted. There was no time to relax, as we cleaned ourselves up, and we felt the warmth and joy to participate in our family’s Seder, of 26 people.

We came here because of our love of Israel. And we came here to be with our family. I held back the tears as the Seder began, when it slowly started to sink in of where we were.

One Scorpion

It was 39 degrees today in the desert. I’m not talking 30 degrees plus humidity. I mean solid, wall of heat, with a beating sun and no shade, 39 degrees. All we could muster up was a visit to an alpaca farm and iced coffee and popsicles. But the heat disappeared in the evening, and some of us had the opportunity to go on an evening Scorpion Walk.

You are thinking, what’s that? As we drove up to the designated spot, at 8:30 pm, in total darkness, I wondered too! You see, the Negev desert is a rocky desert. Forget gentle even foot paths. It’s rugged and not for the faint of heart. The guide handed us special ultraviolet flashlights, and the group set off in all directions (on the edge of the crater!), to literally search for scorpions!

Best shot I could get of Nessa shining the ultraviolet. I’m not posting the photo of the scorpion!

I learned more about scorpions in that one hour walk than I had known in my whole life. They capture their prey with their pincers and snap their tail over to kill with the poisoned tip. They camouflage well with the desert landscape, but shine an ultraviolet light at them and they glow in the dark, like a fluorescent yellow light! They also don’t seem to be bothered by a couple of dozen crazy people shining ultraviolet flashlights at them and snapping their picture!

I saw one, yes one, scorpion tonight. Even I admit, that was kind of cool.

80% and 70%

As the day began to cool down, a few of us took a pre-sunset hike, along the edge of the crater. The haze was back, like in the morning, so we couldn’t see the vibrant colours pop out, but still it was a sight to see. Our guides shared their vast knowledge about the desert and the beauty that lies within it. And near the end of the hike, they challenged us with some numbers.

We had to do the selfie in front of the crater!

Two numbers stuck out in my mind, and together they brought together everything that I personally have experienced in the last six plus months: 80 and 70.

80% of the Negev desert is used for either Israel Defense Forces (IDF) army bases or training facilities.

70% of the Negev desert is protected as national parks.

How is that possible? 80 plus 70 does not equal 100%. That’s because, our guide explained, that the IDF shares its training spaces with the national parks, and the IDF rotates where they train. Both are responsible for caring for the land.

It took a moment for that to sink in. These numbers tell the story of the State of Israel, and the deep, and historical love and connection the Jewish People – the Jewish Religion – the Jewish Nation – has for this land. It must be protected and preserved. It must be defended and deeply cared for. It is a symbiotic relationship that is unique and so special.



Everywhere I turn here there are numbers, and I could write and write about how each one tells a story. I am taking in every moment of my short time here, and I’m thankful that I’m here. My children are surrounded by their cousins. My husband is surrounded by his siblings. And I am filled with joy.

Cakes by Mommy

Cakes by Mommy

I would consider myself to be a rather creative person. I have bold ideas, and storytelling is central to who I am. I guess the best way to describe me is that I THINK creatively. I bring my out-of-the-box, put a square peg in a round hole kind of thinking to everything I do in life, from my job to raising my kids. I’m the first to admit that I can’t do it all. But what I can do, well, I have some fun.

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. So, let me begin here by saying that in much of my life I’m not a big planner. I do love to plan family trips, and I have a solid grocery list going each week, but when it comes to family social activities I would give myself a failing grade. However, bring on one of my children’s birthdays, and I show up!

With the global pandemic my birthday parties had to go on hiatus, much to my daughter’s disappointment. But this year, the parties were back. And the planning began. Luckily for me, my husband David seems to wake up as well when our kids’ birthdays come along. He booked the bouncy castle for our backyard and I covered the invites, food and activities. Nothing too crazy. For me, it’s all about my child and her friends. And ya, some fun for me too!

At the centre of every one of my children’s birthdays, since my son turned one years ago, is the homemade birthday cake. Or what I like to call the Cakes by Mommy. I think about what is of interest to my child at that particular moment, and then I bake and decorate a cake on the theme. Some important notes on my Cakes by Mommy:

  • They are 100% made from scratch in my kitchen.
  • I decorate them all by myself, and no, my cakes don’t look like a professional ever laid eyes on them.
  • Some people may wonder if the child possibly decorated the cake.
  • My Cakes by Mommy taste great!
  • My Cakes by Mommy look like they were made with love.
Cakes by Mommy
The first one I ever made when my son turned 1
Cakes by Mommy
Percy from Thomas the Tank Engine
Cakes by Mommy
Cakes by Mommy

I’m posting photos of various cakes that I have made throughout this post. Each one is unique, and in each case I had a wonderful time baking and decorating. I will add that I also had a meltdown at some point in the process, because my buttercream icing melted or my layers fell apart or that the cake didn’t look at all like it did in my head hours before.

Cakes by Mommy
Lego Alien Invasion
Cakes by Mommy
Lego blocks
Cakes by Mommy
8 for Eight

What I’m trying to say is that this past weekend, as I cleaned up my backyard, washed many dishes and went to bed exhausted, I realized how much I enjoyed putting together the birthday party, especially planning and making the cake. And for a moment I said to myself, did I miss an opportunity to start my own small business? Should I have changed my career years ago and opened my own business – Cakes by Mommy?

Cakes by Mommy
Cakes by Mommy
Boots from Dora the Explorer
Cakes by Mommy
Frozen snow flake

The thought quickly passed when I realized that what I love is making my OWN children’s parties and cakes, and that really, if I created a website that boasted party themes of “all you can bounce in a giant castle” or “tea party for 7-year-old girls” or “reptiles and furry things” that I would have a meltdown every week. I did have a second take on the cake idea though. Most people like to buy their child’s birthday cake. But imagine buying a cake from me and passing it off as your own? I mean really. My cakes really look homemade. You buy the $60 cake from me and tell all your family and friends that you slogged away in the kitchen all night and produced THIS. No one would ever know.

Cakes by Mommy
Frozen Castle

Joking aside, as I moved on from my Cakes by Mommy reverie, I started to think more deeply about the “what if.” I think we all experience it sometimes. No matter how much we like our job, or our career in general, our employer or the people we work with, everyone asks that question, should I be doing something else? Have I followed down the right career path? Is it too late to pivot now?

I think it’s healthy to think about this and explore opportunities, even if they’re crazy like hosting some stranger’s child’s birthday party as a business model. I don’t actually want to start a business doing parties or baking cakes, but I admit I sometimes ask myself if I should have ever left sports media, or is the corporate world the place for me? Is my job taking over my life, or is it, maybe, a great choice that I made and it’s what I should be doing with my life?

It’s kind of crazy that making a Barbie doll ballroom dress birthday cake made me think about the idea of Cakes by Mommy again. The idea for this business was gone as fast as it came into my head, but for sure it left a lasting impression with me. It opened my eyes to what I’m capable of. Even if I’m not the best at something, even if it’s a bit far-fetched to imagine starting my own small business, I do know I can probably do anything. No matter what I do, and what I will continue to do every day at work, is be creative.

Oh, and if anyone does want a homemade Cakes by Mommy, let me know. I promise, it will stay just between us!

Three Kids. Three Provinces.

three kids

I have spent almost every moment of almost every day of the past 16 months with my husband and three kids. And our dog. The global pandemic has shown me, more than ever, the value of family. I feel fortunate that I have a great job where I am surrounded by smart, thoughtful people, and that I have close, wonderful friends who have my back, but really, the centre of my world is my family. That’s why July 2021 is so unique. For the first time in over a year, my family has spread out across Canada. I have three kids, and they are in three provinces.

My life, like that of so many people, changed on March 11th, 2020, when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Within 72 hours my office closed, the children’s school made plans to switch to online learning and everything around us shut their doors, from the ski hill to the local library to small shops in our neighbourhood. We hid inside our homes, into the safety of our four walls and warm embrace of our families.

The fact that I had a comfortable home, surrounded by my husband and three kids, was not lost on me. Even a year into the pandemic, when online learning continued and there was still no end in sight to Ontario’s lockdown, my three kids kept me sane. Okay, sometimes insane too, when they refused to go to bed or clean up toys or give me just a few minutes of quiet. I got used to this new reality, of life with my family 24/7.

By the middle of May I was fortunate to receive my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Case counts slowly started to drop and summer plans were on my mind. Would summer camp happen? Could we spend some time at our family country homes in Ontario and Quebec? Would the children ever leave the house again?

Our hopes were dashed when Camp Kadimah had to close for another season. But things quickly looked up when my sister and her husband invited Matthew, our eldest, to spend some of the summer with them in New Brunswick. I mean really, how could I say no when someone is offering to take my kid for weeks?

Three kids
Matthew’s view this summer

Child #1: Check. Going to New Brunswick.

Julia, my older daughter, HAD to go to camp. Any camp. She joined forces with the first friend she made at Kadimah, and we signed the girls up for overnight camp in Ontario.

three kids

Child #2: Check. Going to overnight camp in Ontario.

Overnight camps don’t take 5-year-olds, nor does my sister. And as I personally had coined the phrase when I was younger… Little persons have to be with their parents, I knew that no matter where I went, Nessa would be with me. If our offices were still closed and the summer was coming, then off to Quebec we would go, to my husband David’s ancestral country home, deep in the mountains by the lake.

three kids

Child #3: Check. Going to the country house in Quebec.

And that is how our summer story came to be: three kids. In three provinces. Matthew is living it up in New Brunswick, by the sea. He is eating new and exciting foods, he is attempting to be flexible, living with many boys, and he’s learning how to sail on the ocean. Julia is experiencing life at a different camp, closer to home, and it’s definitely an adjustment. And for our youngest, well, so far it’s the Summer of Nessa. She’s it, and she knows it. She’s lucky that she’s so cute.

three kids Three kids

We are just about one week into our full summer plans, and I feel really blessed. It all began on my birthday last week, when I woke to a mini celebration of a homemade breakfast, with cheesecake (yum!), and birthday presents. Then our road trip began, as we dropped Julia at her camp then drove east to Ottawa.

three kids

I can’t remember the last time I had stayed at a hotel. It was a bit of a surreal experience, as we walked into an eerily empty lobby and checked in. There was but one valet and one concierge on site. I could count the guests on one hand. It was so quiet that the cheesy phrase, you could hear a pin drop, was true.

three kids
Here’s Nessa’s first political ad.

three kidsWe enjoyed a quiet evening and leisurely morning in Ottawa (including breakfast at a great patio, with our dog), then we were back in the car and over the border into Quebec. There is a wonderful feeling that I get as our car climbs into the mountains and we make our way to our hidden gem of a country house. It’s like our car knows all the curves in the road as we travel through the countryside. The anticipation of the arrival is as wonderful as the actual arrival. As our car turns into the driveway and we see the decades-old, kind of rickety house, and the spectacular lake in front of us, we are filled with a sense of great joy.

three kids

three kids

And so here I am, on a warm summer afternoon, sitting by the lake and thinking about how not long ago I was surrounded by my three kids, locked down in Toronto. Could I have imagined that in July they would be spread across Canada, from Ontario to Quebec to New Brunswick, each experiencing their own unique summer? I am thankful to everyone who helped me make this happen. Three kids. In three provinces. I wonder where we will be next summer.

three kids
My view as I write

Ready for a Happy New Year

happy new year apple

It is the start of a new year.2020 has a few months to go, but 5781 has arrived. People like to make resolutions at the start of a new year, so why not at the start of the Jewish new year? The second half of 5780 was hard, for everyone around the world, and just plain terrible for many. While I would love to wish everyone a healthy, sweet and wonderful new year, I fear this is a wish that won’t come true.

I haven’t published a post since May 2018, when my daughter Julia celebrated her 9th birthday. I honestly don’t know why I stopped writing here. It’s something I love to do. Was I busy? Did I forget? Did I always have something else to do? Maybe. I’m not going to make excuses. I made a commitment, when I published my first post in May 2017, that this blog was important to me and that I was excited to start this new journey.

Then I got side tracked. Even during the early lockdown of this pandemic in March and April, I didn’t write. When I was lucky enough to spend much of my summer outside the city, I didn’t write. My kids went back to school, and I didn’t write. So, it’s a new year, and I’m ready to write. Here I am, I’m back.

I have so many ideas for new blog posts. Every day I come across something that makes me think, read about a piece of news that makes me want to know more or have an interesting conversation that makes me want to write, I remind myself that the Kinetic Motions blog is where I need to share my thoughts.

We are living in such a unique and challenging time in our lives. Over 30 million people have been infected and almost 1 million people have died from a dangerous virus. This virus is terrorizing us, hurting us and killing us. It has not only changed every aspect of our daily lives, but so many people have lost the ones they love.

I am not going to use this space to tell people to be smart and berate those who are ignorant or who choose to ignore the invisible enemy. We are all in this together. The world is just a small global village, and everyone, in every community, is responsible for the good and welfare of everyone else.

In the past 16 months since I published my last post, Nessa turned 3, then she turned 4; we celebrated Matthew’s Bar Mitzvah from our dining room and blasted the signal via Zoom around the world; Julia hit double digits in May; my beloved Poppy died in April, at the age of 99; oh and we got a dog…. An adorable Maltese-Bichon mix, who just turned 3. And of course so much more in between, in the midst of a global pandemic.

The world, and life, are never boring. Every day brings something new, and sometimes shocking. A shooting, hurricane, wildfires, murders of people because of their skin colour or ethnicity. I don’t want to be dulled by any of these events, but maybe, we could do with a bit of just plain boring in 5781.

So, the blog is back. Kinetic Motions is, well, back in motion. Whether you celebrate or not, I wish you a happy, healthy, sweet, and maybe a little boring, new year.

*Just a little note… the apple featured here was just picked from my backyard garden. We have a single apple tree in our backyard, that typically produces one apple each year. This year it bloomed with beautiful flowers and produced a few apples for us to enjoy. If the tree can bloom, so can we.

Mother’s Day is Julia’s Day


I became a new mother for the second time on May 12th, 2010. It was an ordinary Wednesday, early in the morning, when Julia jumped into the world. And I mean jumped. One moment I went into labour and the next moment I had a baby girl. Whoever said labour was long and slow hadn’t met Miss Julia Maxine.

Julia was a special gift to us the day she was born but also to her first cousin, who turned five that very same day. The “May 12 Girls” as we call them are kindred spirits and share a special bond that most cousins only dream about. I remember my sister-in-law said to me, when Julia was just a few days old… “You are going to have to balance birthday fun and Mother’s Day from now on. Good Luck.”

The May 12 girls as Julia turned one.

The May 12 girls celebrate in 2014.

The May 12 girls celebrate together on May 12, 2019.

I shrugged it off as Mother’s Day has never been a big deal to me. Even as a child I saw through this rather commercialized day. I told my mother many years ago that no one had to assign a special day for me to tell my mother I loved her or to do something nice for her. I should do that every day, and if I want to buy my mother a gift then I just buy one. I stuck to that promise throughout my childhood and when I became a mother, now to three children, I stand by that.

I am a mother, and I work hard at it. My one request to my husband and children: be nice to me every day! So it’s no big deal that Julia’s birthday falls near Mother’s Day every year, or once in  while on Mother’s Day, as it does this year.

In 2019, Mother’s Day is Julia’s Day. And she has made the most of it. Maybe it’s because her brother had a sleepover birthday party when he turned 9. Or maybe it’s because she figured out her birthday would be on a Sunday in 2019. Julia knew exactly what she wanted this year: you guessed it… a sleepover party of her own.

People said to me, “But Sunday, May 12this Mother’s Day. How can you do a sleepover party?” Ah, I answered, not only am I giving a gift of a sleepover party to Julia, I’m giving a gift to her friends’ mothers as well – I’m taking their kids! And sure enough the mothers have thanked me.

They thanked me, and they also gave me a mix of bravoand are you crazyfor hosting 10 eight and nine-year-old girls for an overnight at my house. Birthday or Mother’s Day, this is no easy task. Girls at this age are high energy, demanding and a bit anxious. But they are still kind of cute and smiley and relatively easy to please.

I haven’t slept much in the last 24 hours. I was a mix of a short-order cook, professional baker, cleaning lady, hostess extraordinaire and mother to ten. My list includes cooking and serving two meals, baking a birthday cake from scratch, making up ten beds (setting up sleeping bags across my living room floor), wiping food off every surface in my house and sweeping up anything from popcorn and cake crumbs to Dollar Store play dough and dirt.

Make a wish and blow our your candles, Julia!

Who said adolescent boys have a ton of energy? Spend the night with a group of 10 adolescent girls and you may think differently. They are like the Energizer Bunny. They just keep going and going. They run around the background. The girls zoom up and down the stairs. Giggling. Laughing. Shrieking. Jumping. Dancing. Do they slow down? No.

My living room Saturday night

I don’t quite know how I convinced them to go bed. I’m not going to say “go to sleep” as some refused to do that. It was a late night. They were excited. It wasn’t just a sleepover party – it was the evening before Julia’s birthday. The fact that Mother’s Day was upon them seemed irrelevant to this group of young ladies.

But not to their mothers and fathers. The girls’ smiling parents heartily greeted me this morning when they arrived at our house to pick up their sweet little girls. They looked at my tired face and kindly wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. And I graciously said thank you. Today was Julia’s Day, for sure, but I am giving myself a gold star too, for Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful women in the world who are the heart of the home, the family, and in my mind, the world.

Next Year in Jerusalem


On December 31st, 1988, I celebrated my first New Year’s Eve outside of Canada. I will admit that I don’t remember my exact location, but I know it was somewhere in Israel. Maybe Jerusalem? Or Tel Aviv? Somewhere in the north? My family came to Israel to celebrate my Bat Mitzvah. It would be my first of many trips to this wonderful place.  

On December 31st, 2018, exactly 30 years later, I was here again, in Israel, celebrating with more family. During our two-week visit we are attending not just a Bat Mitzvah, but also a Bar Mitzvah and a wedding party. Israel has seen tremendous change over the past 30 years, but my joy to be here has not changed.

B’shana ha ba’a b’yerushalayim. – next year in Jerusalem – is something Jewish people say not only at the end of the Passover seder, but throughout the year. There is a deep historical and personal connection we have with this ancient city. Memories of my first visit there, back in December 1988, will stay with me forever.

As I joked on New Year’s Eve a few nights ago, as we counted down the clock to midnight, I. planned to check that off my list first thing in the new year with a visit to Jerusalem on January 1st! Hey, we all make New Year’s resolutions, and I’m taking mine seriously. Check!

And sure enough, on January 1st, I went to Jerusalem, to celebrate a brand new year and to also, gulp, start planning my son, Matthew’s Bar Mitzvah. My son will turn 13 in 2020. That’s next year. And he, like so many children before him, for thousands of years, will read from the Torah in this most sacred of cities.

I have had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem twice during this trip, and I have to say, I both love and hate this city. I love Jerusalem because it is steeped in history. At every turn you come across a spot that plays a significant role for one of the world’s major religions. The city sits across seven hills, and on a clear day there are breathtaking views in every direction.

Within a few hundred meters of each other you can visit Christianity’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Islam’s Al Aqsa Mosque and the outer walls of Judaism’s Temple Mount. I won’t get into the politics and religious differences in terms of the logistics of actually visiting all three sites, but let’s say, in theory, because of sheer proximity, one can do this.

Celebrating his cousin Ariel’s Bar Mitzvah, Matthew with his grandmother and cousin, Elia, at the Temple’s Southern Wall.

Selfie with a slightly sleepy Nessa.

Selfie with a slightly more awake Matthew.

One of my favourite bakeries in the whole world, Marzipan, sits in the centre of Jerusalem. No one can load chocolate into a small pastry like they can. And behind this bakery sits a world famous market, where you can find a mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, baked goods and nick knacks, and vendors hollering at shoppers and each other!

Doing some shopping at the Marzipan bakery

My kids enjoying their visit to Mahane Yehuda Market

So you ask, what’s not to love about this glorious city? A lot, I say. Try driving through Jerusalem. It’s awful. Try parking. Even worse. It’s crowded, loud and kind of dirty. No road or path goes straight and we always get lost. Construction. Masses of people always descending upon the city.

And yet, there is no other place where I would want to plan my child’s Bar Mitzvah, just like I insisted for my own 30 years ago. Jerusalem is hectic, crowded and loud. But it’s also mystical and magical. This year in Jerusalem. Check. Next year in Jerusalem – see you there in April 2020.

I am not made for a Tournament


I would consider myself to be a decent mother. I indulge my children when they need indulging, push them when they need pushing and discipline them when they clearly need disciplining. My kids are intelligent and feisty, and all three of them have unique traits that make them loveable in their own way. When any one of them is eager to try something new I am happy to encourage them. This was the case when my middle child, Julia, decided she wanted to participate in a karate tournament.

I am proud of Julia’s drive to pursue karate. Like her brother, we enrolled Julia in karate lessons at age 4 as we felt that learning some self defense skills and confidence in herself would be invaluable. She took to the sport well and has excelled. At age 8 and many inches under four feet tall, Julia has achieved an advanced purple belt.

As a black belt, Matthew had the honour last week of giving Julia her advanced purple belt

If you look at her face when she is practicing a kata or puts her fists up ready to spar, you wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley! My daughter knows what she’s doing!

While Matthew, with a black belt in karate and tremendous strength and poise, shies away from competition, Julia loves it. Matthew would prefer to focus on learning and teaching younger kids. Julia can feel the adrenaline of stepping outside her comfort zone and trying something new, like a tournament.

I am much more like Matthew and typically shy away from anything competitive. It’s not that I am scared to lose, I just don’t like the feeling in the air at competitive events. I will admit that they make me uncomfortable. As the saying goes, “those who can’t…. write.” I never played sports well, so that’s why I became a sports journalist!

But I digress. A couple of months ago Julia announced that she wanted to try a karate tournament. The school where she takes lessons hosts and participates in various tournaments throughout the year, and her sensei encouraged her to train and try one. Sure, I thought, why not.

Wow, I really knew nothing. Julia has been training and getting extra support after her regular karate class, to boost her confidence in her katas and sparring. She decided that she would only participate in one session – sparring – for her first tournament as she wanted to ease into this new world.

I signed her up for her first tournament which we knew would take place in the west-end of Toronto on December 1st. And that’s all I knew. You see, while I am not organized in every aspect of my life, I am a bit of a planner. When I travel, I organize the car rental, hotels and schedule. If I plan a family outing, I take care of the logistics. When I rely on someone else to plan, I get heart palpatations and anxiety.  Walking into anything unknown really bothers me.

That was the case at the karate tournament. I had a date, an address and a time. That’s it. I kept thinking to myself, I’m sure this event would be organized and well-run. It’s karate after all, a sport based on discipline. Boy was I wrong.

We arrived to a place that could best be described as slightly organized chaos. The line-up to register was long and messy. The check-in person kept repeating to me to check the email that was sent to me about Julia’s division. No email was sent to me. She was in division 13, the person told me. That means what, I said? Where does she compete? When does compete? How many other children will be in her competition? No answers.

We finally tracked down one of the tournament organizers from our karate school who kindly walked us over to a room on a lower level where children of all ages were getting ready. More chaos. Most of them were warming up like soldiers before a battle but they were four-feet tall and had no shoes or socks on. One kid was running around with what looked like a plastic sword screaming some version of Japanese gibberish, I think.

While Julia’s assigned zone was clearly a competitive area for children, I felt no warmth from the other parents. For the most part, it was kids aged 6-12 participating, and wow, those parents took it seriously. Some were hollering at their children to warm up, others were drilling their kids on the right moves. Others sat there on their phones and held seats for people who never showed up. Not a friendly face around me. I had clearly stepped out of my usual comfortable space and into another realm.

The one smiling face came from the mother of Julia’s friend, who has been taking her 7-year-old daughter to tournaments for the last year. She saw the stress on my face and tears in my daughter’s eyes as we both stood there overwhelmed and terrified. And her sweet, chatty daughter (like mine) put the cheer back into Julia’s face. Thank goodness for that.

We waited and kept hoping Julia’s turn would come soon. Patience is not one of my daughter’s virtues, especially when she was feeling anxious about her first tournament. Competition like this is new to her, she had limited training and she is tiny! I looked around and noticed that, as usual, the children in her age and category were a bit older, had more training and were much bigger. Julia has worked hard and is a very confident little girl, but this was a bit much, even for her (and me!).

She got her fighting face on and focused.

Julia sparred against a girl who was definitely older, had a brown belt and was over a head taller. She didn’t have a chance. But, like the shining light that she always is, Julia rose to the occasion and tried her best. She got a few kicks in and threw a fair number of punches. Julia lost her match but she won the day. She walked away with a shiny bronze medal (yes there were only 3 kids in her group but so what) and her head held high. She even said she wants to compete again, and this time with a kata. And her father will take her to the next one.

Julia listened carefully to the rules before she sparred with the other girl.

Competition and tournaments are not for the faint of heart. They are chaotic, rough and people can be downright mean. I think the most aggressive people in the room were the parents of the 7-year-olds. How can anyone push a child that way? That is not for me. Or for my daughter. If you want to win, great, go for it. But can’t an 8-year-old have fun too? I still have in my mind the crushed look on the faces of some of those kids who scored too low to get a medal. And the look on the parents’ faces weren’t any better. My message: get over it. Relax. Have fun. The junior division of a karate tournament is not worth getting so stressed out.

So I survived and so did Julia. And yes, she even get her own souvenir medal.. Maybe she will try it again. Maybe she won’t. But no matter what she chooses, I will always be proud, as I am a decent mother.

Ahhhh the Wedding


I don’t attend too many weddings. Maybe I don’t know enough people. Or maybe I’m at an age when most of my friends and I guess family too, are either married or not old enough yet to tie the knot. No matter how good, or bad, the wedding is, it is nice to attend them.

So many people lead very busy lives, with little free or unprogrammed time in the schedule. Children go to school, activities, camp or play with friends. As adults, we spend much of our time working, cooking, cleaning, shopping or if we have kids, chauffeuring them too. Sometimes it seems that one day just flows into the next, with a hectic schedule from dawn to dusk.

I will admit that I don’t put aside nearly enough time for myself, to relax or do stuff that I love. And I mean stuff for me and only me. My recent trip to Scotland was definitely for me (ya I guess David too), and it gave me the chance to recharge my battery. But I will say that I definitely make time for family and for family celebrations, like a wedding.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we often turn down invitations to celebrations or events because it’s too expensive to attend, too hard to travel or we just don’t have time.  We say, “Oh I can’t come this time but I will try to make it next time.” And we continue on with our busy day. We see the photos and hear the stories and we think wistfully of the next event, when we will attend.

David and I try to attend as many family celebrations as we can. I will admit that we can’t make it to everything, but we try our best. With family and friends who live all over the world, and with our love of travel, we have participated in a fair number of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, milestone birthdays and weddings. It can be a financial strain sometimes and the timing can be a challenge, but really, it’s worth it.

On Monday we celebrated the wedding of our nephew, Joseph, to his wonderful new wife, Hadas. I will not do a rundown of all the details of the day, from the elegant but simple flowers to the dinner’s main course (oh my gosh they served roast beef and it was cooked perfectly!). If anyone wants a full detailed analysis, you know how to find me.

It was a small, intimate wedding, with family and a number of their close friends. David’s sister, Linda, lives in London, Ontario, and we traveled the easy two hours down the highway on Sunday afternoon to join the festivities. A wedding is not just the short ceremony and party. It also includes the days leading up to the big event, day before, day-of activities and even breakfast the next day. It’s a bit of a package deal, if you want to get the full benefit. Sometimes the best part of a wedding can be a BBQ in the backyard the night before or running around the following morning to the liquor store to secure the right kosher liqueurs!


Having fun the night before

Last minute liquor purchase, phew.

Nessa enjoyed some entertainment from her cousins before the wedding, at Walmart, of course.

The faces of the bride and groom as they walk down the aisle or how they look at each other during the ceremony are special moments. And will he break the glass on his first try? Family photos – who won’t smile and who will blink when the camera flashes? Which child will throw a tantrum? What was the best appetizer passed around during cocktails? Which dessert was the tastiest?

The moment they walked down the aisle

They kept eye contact for much of the ceremony.

He got it the first try.

She didn’t sit still and had a wonderful time.

It’s not a wedding without a big family photo

You have to be there to experience it. I know it’s not always so easy and I’m so glad every time we make the effort. A wedding is fun and it creates such wonderful memories for not only the bride and groom but for all the guests. We have another family wedding, for a cousin, in a few weeks, so who’s next?

To be Blessed with Good Health


I don’t take anything for granted.Every day I am grateful for everything I have. Some things have come easily for me and to me while at times I have also struggled. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a number of people close to me – family and friends – accomplish, overcome, succeed, struggle and even sometimes fail. I have felt a mix of emotions as I have experienced great joy and great sorrow, all on the same day. At the end of a very busy and eventful weekend, I feel blessed for good health.

I received a call early Friday afternoon from my daughter’s school that she had a low-grade fever and seemed lethargic. She had to go home. Kids get sick. It happens. No problem. I brought her home, she flopped onto the couch with her iPad and I quickly threw together a batch of chicken soup in my trusty Instant Pot (makes THE best chicken soup, full of flavour in 30 minutes. I’m serious.).

The soup perked her up a bit, but my husband noticed a strange white pimple-like item on her right knee in the early evening. I will admit I didn’t notice it earlier but decided to check it out. Indeed, there was a rather large white circular item in the centre of her knee, surrounded by a red circle. The knee was swollen and warm to the touch. I quickly put two and two together and realized my daughter had an infection of some kind.

What do I do? It’s Friday night. She has a fever. Something is going on in that knee. I chose the paediatric after-hours clinic. It had a 60-minute wait, but I decided it was my best bet. We waited. And waited. Finally, my daughter was seen by the paediatrician.

He looked carefully. He asked her to bend the knee in different ways and he touched it to feel how sensitive it was. I watched and noticed the slight fear on his face. He was worried. Something was wrong. He looked at me and said that it was probably only a surface infection, and it probably had to be drained. But he also wanted to make sure it wasn’t in the knee joint or a sign of something else. He wanted us to go straight to the emergency room.

By this point it was 10:30 pm. My daughter was exhausted, didn’t feel well and was in pain. The swelling was getting worse. I decided to go to the community hospital and not downtown to the Hospital for Sick Children (the paediatrician suggested this), and we were on our way. Two levels of triage and registration then a waiting room. At 1:00 am my daughter was seen by an excellent emergency room physician who determined that it was just a surface infection. The knee was drained and she was put on antibiotics.

We arrived home at 2:30 am, and I crawled into bed. It was a long night, but my daughter was fine. All evening I had horrible thoughts swirling through my head. Did she have some flesh-eating bacteria? Was this white pimple just the tip of the iceberg of something terrible like leukemia? A hospital waiting room is a bad place to have time to think.

Which brings me back to why I feel blessed for good health. My daughter is fine. She is healthy. It looks like she had a mosquito bite that she scratched and became infected. A seven-day dose of antibiotics will fix everything. But I don’t take her health for granted.

I only had a few hours of sleep Friday night and woke up relatively early Saturday morning to participate in our neighbourhood’s annual yard sale. My family decided to do a bake and lemonade sale and donate all our proceeds to a local charity (luckily, I did my baking Friday afternoon). Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a wonderful family in a beautiful neighbourhood, blessed with good health.

It seemed poignant to me that my daughter was the most enthusiastic about our bake and lemonade sale. She limped outside and sat proudly at our table. She was a natural at selling and upselling, and we sold out. My son squeezed the lemons for our fresh lemonade and the baby, well she just acted as our cute mascot. We raised $128 for a wonderful organization called ISAND – Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Today I feel blessed. Good health for sure. A great community. And smart, insightful doctors at my local clinic and hospital. It was a busy, eventful weekend. And we are all fine. And healthy.

The Life of the Party


Over the past year, when people hear that I have a blog or if they quickly peruse my posts, they often ask me, “Are you a Mommy blogger?” While I have nothing against these talented ladies, my quick answer is always, “No, I am not a Mommy blogger.” Kinetic Motions is about my musings. I write about what I see, experience, hear and feel every day. Sometimes the topics are serious or heartfelt and sometimes they are absurd and light. I admit that I do write about my children often, but come on, they provide such quality material. Case in point is my topic for today’s post: the children’s birthday party.

We have all been to many a birthday party throughout our lives. We were all children once, so don’t shake your head and tell me you haven’t been to your fair share. If you are a parent, you’ve made many and probably attended more than you care to count.

I hosted my daughter, Julia’s, birthday party this weekend. I believe that some people think I am crazy while others are in awe that almost every birthday party I have ever hosted for my children, over the past 11 years, has been in my home. In fact, all except one of Julia’s birthday parties have been at home.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

So, what’s in a birthday party? How complicated does it have to be? Is it enough to throw a bunch of children in your backyard, feed them a store-bought cake and hand them a loot bag on their way out the door? Yes, it is. The kids don’t know any better and would probably have a blast with bread and water and a cardboard box.

But it’s not enough for me or the birthday parties I host. Again, some call me crazy and others are in awe of the time and energy I put into each birthday party for each of my children. My husband and I often reminisce about some of our best – and worst – birthday parties. I can’t say I have learned any lessons from successes or failures. Some make me smile while others make me cringe.

The key to a great birthday party is to give the children a great time, but also take them off their parents’ hands for a few hours. That doesn’t work as well when kids are little and their parents have to come too. So, for the little guys, I always say, entertain – and feed – the parents too.

While I know they serve their purpose, I highly dislike children’s play places. They are almost like birthday party farms, where the children are herded through like animals. They follow a basic formula, with an activity first, followed by a snack like pizza or hot dogs, finished off with birthday cake. It is most definitely a prescribed formula, and it works for many parents. Kids always love these, but again, I still believe many kids would be happy climbing inside a cardboard box with their friends. They are great for some, but not me.

A level up for a birthday party is a more organized activity, which requires a parent to spend much more time putting together. It can be a karate or dance class, laser tag, an art studio, or for the older kids an escape room. These activities can be costly and the kids definitely love them. But again, they are just not for me.

The best parties I have ever hosted for my kids have most definitely been in my home. Don’t think that doing this is simpler or easier. It is not. It is definitely cheaper, but it’s a ton of work. And well worth it. We invited Matthew’s music teacher to run a class in our basement for his second birthday. Number nine for him was pizza, cake, sports and wildness in the backyard, followed by the original Star Wars movie (watched on a VCR!) and sleepover with all the boys from his class from school.

Matthew’s 4th birthday party was not at home, but there’s no way any reptile was stepping into my house.

My pride and joy was Julia’s 7th birthday party last year, which was a formal high tea. The girls decorated tea cups and hats, decorated cupcakes, had their nails done then sat down to real high tea. I served them scones with clotted cream, party sandwiches, strawberries and cream and even English tea in antique tea cups. The kids came dressed up for the occasion and participated fully. David even dressed up as a butler. I will admit I may have had more fun than my own daughter.

our semi-formal family at Julia’s tea party

The table at the tea party

It’s always fun to be silly at a children’s tea party

And this past weekend was the latest birthday party in our home. It was a simpler affair, with apron painting, followed by pizza making and cupcake decorating. Then the kids munched on chips and their cupcakes as they watched the movie, The Greatest Showman. Dinner, the pizza they made, was served in the backyard, as they ran around like wild animals, and of course the event was topped off with yet another one of my original homemade cakes.

Celebrating with cake at Julia’s party this weekend. It’s not a party without her “twin” cousin Emma.

My house was a mess. I was exhausted and could barely lift my head on Sunday evening. But I’ll do it again. And again. Like in two weeks, when Nessa turns two.