Friday, October 26, 2012

What Disturbs me Most about the Amanda Todd Case

I tried to desist from writing about this. Really I did. There has been so much media about it. So many people shocked and appalled by this tragedy that I didn't think it was necessary to voice my opinion.

But then, when did that ever stop me?

Here are my reasons for talking about it now:

1. I have two daughters around Amanda Todd's age.
2. I work at a school with girls around Amanda Todd's age and thus have the privilege of seeing this issue from many different perspectives.
3. Not only do I work at a school comprised of high school girls, I am also one of the main people responsible for talking to them about social media.
4. Around the time Todd committed suicide, I was giving a social media presentation to the Grade seven class.
5. Because I am shocked and appalled.

For those of you living under a rock or who have taken a little media break in the last month, Amanda Todd was a 15-year old girl who committed suicide after years of cyber-bullying, bullying and downright sexual harassment.You can watch her video:



Satellite issues in this case, and perhaps why there has been such a media frenzy are
1: the internet witch hunt for the person responsible for sexually harassing and blackmailing Todd as well as the guy who made such terrible comments on her facebook being identified and fired.
2: the callous reactions online (and offline) by her peers to her suicide.

So really, you can cherry-pick your issue here. Let's count them:

1. Internet Safety
2. Online child predators
3. Cyber-bullying that quickly turns into
4. Physical bullying and shunning
5. A spiral of depression, substance abuse, attempted suicide
6. Used by boys when she is most vulnerable
7. Receives no help, no sympathy.
9. Kills herself.
10. Media witch hunt to uncover name of harasser and ethical debate
11. The complete lack of empathy of her peers.

I am not going to talk about internet safety and the common mistakes Ms. Todd made. Yes, she engaged in some unsafe behaviour on the internet. Yes, she gave away too much of her personal information. Yes, it is a harsh world out there with true villains and yes, the internet makes them even more powerful (the same could be said about everything and the internet though, eben the good things like activism and collaboration).

Yes, it is important to talk to our children about these issues. To talk to them about where their information goes and who can use it and about the concept of privacy. But this is the easiest issue to confront in this situation. The problem is that usually the conversation ends there. Throw out a few horror stories meant to scare them into never going online (which isn't going to happen, BTW) and voilà! We think we are done educating our children about online behaviour.

Not so. If anything, the Amanda Todd case shows us that there are underlying societal trends that existed long before the internet became ubiquitious; social media has simply exacerbated them.

Here are the three aspects of this case that disturb me the most, that make me afraid for my daughters.

Internalized Mysogyny
This is a term Fazeela Jiwa used in her excellent opinion piece, "Bullying" is too Vague when we are dealing with Sexism and Mysogyny.  She is talking specifically about how Todd's friends began to shun her the moment the fake facebook appeared:
Internalized misogyny is an important aspect of the structural violence associated with patriarchy: the young women in Todd’s life turned against her rather than supporting her through harassment, despite surely facing similar pressures to capitulate to male definitions of, and demands on, female sexuality. Thanks in part to the media frenzy surrounding the controversial SlutWalk, the conversation about woman-blaming is active; women around the world have rallied with the message that we are not to be held responsible for sexist violence against us.
 A couple of clichéd expressions (with unfortunate religious tones) come to mind:

There but for the grace of god, go I. 

And this lovely, old testament nugget:

Let the on without sin cast the first stone.

Amanda Todd's worth was completely wrapped up in her physical appearance from as early as Grade seven, when she began to go online and chat with strangers. She was told she was gorgeous, and beautiful and they would love her to flash. It is easy to see how she could interpret that as meaning if I want people to like me I must flash my boobs. She was 12/13 at the time, after all.

Her friends were there with her in these chat rooms. They had the same pressure. They might have done the same thing and not come across the truly psycho creep that ended up getting a hold of Amanda's photo.

And yet they think it's okay to judge her for it? nWould things have culminated in her suicide if her friends had stuck by her? If they had taken a untied front?

I don't think so.

Just Plain old Mysogyny

The notion that this generation of males, with the easy access to porn and the aggressive objectification of women in the media, are subject to some unrealistic expectations and beliefs when it comes to women and women's sexuality came to my attention with the movie Miss Representation.
Listening to the roles teen boys played in Amanda's life was especially galling. If she wasn't being stalked by mysogynistic, child-predator psychopaths, she was being led down the garden path by a boy her age who led her on for sex and then abandoned her. hearing the excuse she made for him was especially appalling.

I recently stayed with a friend who has two teenage boys. She was driving them and their friends home one night when she heard one say, "That so and so girl. I heard she's easy." My friend stopped the car, made all the boys get out and sit in the ditch by the road, and grilled them about what they actually knew about the girl. She would not let them get back into the car until they all acknowledged how hurtful a rumour like that could be and how they should be ashamed to perpetrate it.

Good on her, I say, but what can we do to prevent the need for that conversation?

Which brings me to the thing that bothers me the most, the umbrella issue in the Amanda Todd case:


Lack of Empathy

Where the hell is the empathy? Where is it hiding? Did it leak through the thin layers of our ozone layer? Did it get lost in cyberspace?

Like most people, I was appalled by some of the comments people made on her facebook before her death and after. You can watch the video or read the articles about it, but I am not going to dignify them with space on this blog.

Now that may be just the comments of a few bad seeds, but then I hear a radio documentary on the show A Story from Here the other day on CBC where a journalist interviewed teenagers from different parts of the country. They had absolutely no sympathy for Amanda Todd. One said that he didn't know why such a fuss was being made for a white, middle class teen girl whose life wasn't that hard anyway. The other mentioned how is father had just committed suicide and still he didn't feel anything for Amanda Todd. Another said how he just got out of the hospital for suicidal thoughts and still couldn't find it in his heart to feel bad for what happened to Amanda. They were unified in thinking that having a strategy against bullying was stupid and pointless and that there was nothing anybody could do about bullying. That it was something you just had to live through and that it makes you stronger.

There was no putting themselves in her shoes even if their experience was so similar to hers. There was not an inkling of sympathy for her story.

This worries me. This worries me a great deal.

I wrote a post about a year ago about how our role as parents is still to guide our children on their journey to being compassionate, considerate citizens of the world, whether they be online or offline. This means talking to them about the more nuanced and insidious trends some of which I outlined above.

Though they might not get it right away, it is important to keep the conversation going.

Last night my husband and I showed the Amanda Todd's video to our girls.  I hesitated to do so, as her story is really the worst-case scenario of what can happen to our child online, up there with abduction and rape. Most of the time, their online interactions will be positive, as demonstrated by Amanda Lenhart from the PEW Research Center. She gave a great interview on Spark a few months ago that is worth listening to. But as I began thinking about it, I really wanted to address the above issues with my girls. Especially since my oldest is going on 14 and is starting to go to dances. She will be dealing with boys soon and I want her to have a framework of behaviour already in place, one that is not dictated by the libido of teenage boys. I want my daughters to know they don't have to play by the  rules of a gender game played on very lopsided playing field that Amanda Todd stumbled into unwittingly and obviously lost. They only apply if you let them.

Of course, that is what I want. I am not naive. They are young and have to figure out their own sexuality as well as navigate the warped, contradictory messages they receive.

Yes, they will make mistakes.

My fervent hope, and one that I continue to repeat to them, is that when they do, they will know that we will be there to catch them. Without judgment and without question.

Okay. Maybe a little questioning....







Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What I Miss Most

I recently read Jo Walton's Hugo award winning book, Among Others.

Pause. Yes, it was that heady for me, that I need to put a lot of white space between that sentence in the next.

Now I have talked about how there are some books that evoke a visceral reaction from me. They happen randomly, with no rhyme or reason. One book will kill me with its lyrical prose. Or a character will get so far under my skin I can't shake them for days. Sometimes the whole humanity of the situation is enough to leave me in the dimension between my daily 'real' life and the world in the book. Finishing these books is a paradox of greedy can't-put-downess and bereavement at being done so quickly.

Among Others was this kind of book.

Here is a curt description of it from amazon.ca:
Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
 Of course, this doesn't do it justice. It is written after the major confrontation, and takes place in the deflated, empty space of grief and tension. Nothing happens in this book and yet everything happens. It is a slow-paced, lyrical ride written in epistolary form by a teenaged girl narrator. Basically it is a paen to how living a life in books can be healing, therapeutic, and ultimately empowering and self-affirming.

But the aspect that killed me took me a long time to identify. Yes, Mor, the fifteen-year old broken girl who narrates the story made me want to hug her then talk about books with her. Yes, the world Mor builds around her, her insight into the nature of magic, her naive yet wise observations, her brokenness moved me. But what was giving me this sense of loss? This sense of longing?

It was Mor's description of going to the library.

I know, right? I work in a friggin' library. I am a librarian for the love of pete.  I spend my days in the center of ten thousand books. Have I gone completely mental? Do I need an intervention?

Well probably, but that is another issue.

What I miss are the weekly/twice weekly trips to my local library, a bag full of books to return and the promise of filling up my bag with more. Like Mor, I spent a lot of my youth with my nose buried in a book. The library was my haven, my sanctuary. A place where I knew I wasn't expected to talk or where the glass armour of my terrible shyness would not be repeatedly assaulted by people who wanted to "draw me out". Though I never read in the library, or spent anymore time in the space than required to pick my pile of books for the week, it was my place, where I was the most filled with a sense of belonging.

I don't go to public libraries anymore, mainly because my needs are met by my own library. It doesn't  help that the public libraries in Quebec are still way behind the public libraries in the rest of the country. But I miss it. I miss the trek to the physical space. The browsing the shelves. The excitement at a book's potential.

I think I also miss being able to read so voraciously. Being an adult means a serious lack of reading time. Whereas I had ample opportunity to pull out my book when I was a teenager- at the breakfast table, on the bus. Walking (I had a lot of bruises from walking into fire hydrants). Waiting for my sisters. After homework. Well, you get the picture. Now it is usually a few minutes before bed and maybe fifteen minutes on the bus in the morning and at lunch (if nobody interrupts me).

What was also great about Miss Walton's book was all the sci-fi and fantasy titles Mor reads. It made me realise how woefully ignorant I am of that genre and am determined to read more.  Luckily some fabulous person on Goodreads made a list of the books mentioned in Among others. I went through it and I have only read a few of the titles:


Lord of the rings trilogy
Emma
A Canticle for Lievbowitz
The Communist Manifesto
The Republic
The Aeneid
 I, Claudius
The Dark is rising
The Symposium
Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot (which I am re-reading and holy SHITE and ONIONS it is so so good).
Crow by Ted Hughes
A Wizard of Earthsea

That is out of 119 books, so I guess I have some reading to do.
Next post: what I did read when I was a teenager. If I can remember.... Where the heck was goodreads and librarything?





Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our Week of Geek

Last week was a big week. So big, it took me a whole week to digest it.

 THURSDAY
Thursday night, after a day of work, an appointment at the dentist and a half-assed attempt at attending my favourite thing in the world, a parents-teacher meeting at my youngest daughter's school (yes, you did detect some sarcasm there), the Friday night debauch team (my family and our friends V and L, went to see the Star Wars exhibition at the Montreal Science Center, entitled Star Wars Identities.

Why so late you ask?

Han Solo frozen in carbonite! Actually used in the movie!!!
Good question. Because although the show has been on since April, it ended this weekend and we still hadn't gone. Which, as J would say and did, was unacceptable. Luckily V told us we should buy our tickets online because when I went to the website I found out the weekend was sold out and the only time we could all go and that was available was the 8:45 pm slot on a Thursday night. Ideal it was not...
Yoda: Rule these geeks do...Actual puppet that Mr. Oz actually touched. I know. The mind reels.

The show was a geek's paradise, marrying our love of the sci-fi space cowboy classic with the science of, wait for it...you got it...identity!

When we entered the exhibit we were given an audio guide and the coolest rubber high-tech bracelet you ever did saw.  Intermingled with all the cool paraphanelia from the movie (see below. And above. See everywhere!)


Like this battle scarred Millenium Falcon model...CGI can suck it
...were information videos about the different aspects that make up our identity. Our environment. Our parents. Genetics. Personality.  What goes in to making us who we are?
C as Mace Windu
Accompanying the little informaitonal videos were quiz-like questions activated by our super cool rubber bracelet, which stored all our information on it. At the end, we scanned the bracelet and got to see our Star Wars character!
L's character. Her mentor is Leia. She is a musician. Her friends, Ewok C and human S are in the background.

The actual costumes worn on Hoth. Oh yeah.

Chewie!!! Both V and J chose to be wookies. What does that say about them?

Puppet Jabba! Still so gross.
Here is my character:
Yep. I'm a kaminoan raised on Tatouine with two of my wookie friends. I have no mentor, yo.What does that say about me?

FRIDAY:

Friday after work we had to HAD TO go to the Montreal Comicon (this does not need any explanation. Of course we had to.) Although we didn't say long, we did what we came there to do.

Comicon always forces me to realize how very limited my geekiness is (and I say this not as a good thing. I lack the, I don't know, obsessive personality of many of the wonderful people roaming the comic book laden corridors.  We were there to see Nicolas Brendon, otherwise known as Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Really that was all we wanted...

Sylvie making friends with a Dalek. Ok. Sylvie and I also share a burgeoning love for Doctor Who.
Still, there were other things to see. Perhaps my geekiness is not narrow after all...

The kids forced to get their picture taken with the Ghost Busters. They wanted to. really.
While this was going on, my friend M met a hero of hers, Will Wheaton ( I know him from Star wars Trek (oops)the next generation, but apparently he's done other stuff since then. Who knew? Ok. Fine. I did.) UPDATE: FORGOT HE WAS THE KID IN STANDBY ME! I LOVE STANDBY ME! I SHOULD HAVE TOLD MY KIDS THEN THEY WOULD HAVE KNOWN HIM TOO! Okay. All caps off now.  He was so taken by her bat’leH (I totally stole that word so that I looked smart but  I have no idea what that means- klingon? I suspect klingon) earrings he took a picture and put them on his blog. She can now die happy.

I am now going to steal his photo from his blog and feel totally justified because she is my friend and that's her comic book and earring:

Meanwhile....

The actual scoobie van!
Was our quest a success? Why yes, yes it was, thanks for asking. We beelined toward the autograph signing place where, as luck would have it, Nicolas Brendon himself was in attendance! The line was short, and before we knew it we were getting an autograph signed for Ms. C.
We all got hugs from the Xander man as well as this gem of a photo!
After that momentous occasion, we went to line up for his celebrity panel. He was joined by the Groossalugg (Groo from Angel), who happened to originate from Dollard-des-Ormeaux. They had a nice banter going on- very irreverent and funny. The best part was when asked what he misses the most about being on Buffy, Mr. Brendon responded, "speaking Joss's words."

I hear you sir.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Day in the Life: September Edition

It is that time again, Saturday morning when everybody is still asleep (or in J's case, gone to work, poor man) and I can think about posting to this blog. I have taken my computer to the little mudroom/summer breakfast nook off our kitchen and am looking out at a grey sky and the canopy of grape leaves that shelter our picnic table. Th iron that Jeremy hung from the lamp is swinging in the breeze. If you look closely, you can see the dragonfly lights lost inside the lush foliage.
View from my window
I am thinking of the month of September and trying to remember how every year I am faced with the same problem- I am too busy to do anything but work and keep children alive (which admitteldy is getting easier as they can do a lot by themselves). September is a month of meetings, of registering children for activities, for getting the machine that is our family back to full steam. My writing time is always the first to be sacrificed on the altar of daily obligations. Reading is next. I know this level of busy-ness is self-inflicted, that it will end, but I can't help feeling a certain sense of panic.

What if this is all there is? What if this is all I am?

I spend my days cataloguing books. Barcoding them. Running around making lists for teachers. Haranguing students about the importance of taking care of their books. By the end of the day what I have accomplished is large if you look at the task, but minimal in terms of its impact on humanity. I can see it now- when my children are old and I am long dead, they will sit around the kitchen table and regale their own children with my exploits. They will say things like, "Oh your grandmother could paste a mean barcode on a book. She brought textbook management into the 20th century at her work  (even though she was working in the 21st)! She was an expert list maker and could check things off her to do list like it was nobody's business. And oh my, how she could nag!"

No, you do not have permission to write this on my tombstone.

And then this morning, as I was meandering through my weekly social media path, I came across this awesome song by one of my most favouritest bands in the whole wide world, Nomeansno:



And it pretty much summed up how I feel in September.

So, in honour of the September grind, I am going to do another day in the life post- something I have not indulged in for a while now.

5:00 am

Radio blares on. It is CBC running a BBC science show as regular programming hasn't actually begun. Lay there half asleep while they are talking about neurons.

5:15 am
Actually get out of bed. Go to the bathroom. Try not to look at myself in the mirror. Mirrors are evil. Pour myself some coffee I programmed to start percolating at 5:00. Drink some hot water and lemon.

5:20 am
Sit myself at my computer. Check the weather.  Because I am so busy at work these days, spend my writing time writing a letter to my father-in-law. I got into the habit of writing him an email everyday last year when he was in the hospital. I enjoy writing them and I think he enjoys receiving them, so the practice continues.

6:00 am
Spent too much time writing the letter so have to make due with only a half hour run. This has been happening too often lately and I am feeling the effects. A little more aggressive when I get home. More impatient with the kids. Make mental note to go to bed earlier. Devil in my head reminds me that I have been saying that for years now and still haven't managed it. Petulant child in my head sticks its tongue out at devil and retorts that it is never too late.

6:35 am
Get back from run. Quickly throw blueberries and yogurt in a container. Pack the lunch I made the night before.  Shower, dress, braid stupidly long hair that I have to find the time to cut. Brush teeth.

7:00 am
Run out of house to catch the metro. Wave to the newspaper guy handing out the free metro news flyer. He has stopped trying to hand me a copy as I never take one (I have a book!). Instead he smiles in recognition and waves. It is nice. Get to the platform seconds before the train pulls up. Make sure my book is out before train comes. Find a seat or a suitable place to stand and read until my stop. Position myself at the door so I can run out as soon as the train arrives. I have already strategically placed myself at the exact door that opens right onto the stairs. As soon as the door opens I quickly make it up before the throng.

I hate being in a throng. I also hate walking behind people who walk slower than me.

7:16 am
At bus stop. Bus pulls up and the bus driver with the frog baritone says hello. I say hello back. He sings out the names of each stop as we climb the hill. I read.

7:30 am
Get to work. Don't stop until 1:30 pm.

1:30- 1:45 pm
Eat lunch quickly.

1:45-5:00 pm
Work.

5:00 pm
Walk home. I walk across the mountain. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook. Sometimes I need to not listen to anything.

6:00 pm
Get home at about the same time as J. Start thinking about dinner. Go to store and get ingredients. Start cooking.

7:00- 8:00 pm
Eat dinner. Talk about our days. What was the best part of the day? the worst? Learn anything new?

8:00 pm
Clean up. Kids have showers/do homework. Parents sign things. Plug in new activities in calendar. Practice piano for a few minutes. Make lunches. Program coffee.

8:30 pm
Make sure the kids are in bed. They read for a while. Used to read to C but haven't gotten back in the habit yet.

9:00 pm
Sit down on couch with a glass of whiskey. Watch a show. J falls asleep. I want more whiskey.

10:00-11:00 pm
Got to bed. Try to read. Mostly fall asleep at first page.

And repeat.

The night routine is frequently interrupted by obligations at work which keep me at school until 8:30, or meetings at C's school. If I am lucky, I go out for a drink with a friend after work, but not often. This week it was interrupted by voting.

The morning routine is always the same.

Is this all there is? Is this all I am?

These questions haunt me.

 





Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why I think All Girls Should Read This Book

One of my favourite young adult writers is Libba Bray, and not only because she has the same initials as me, or because as my husband pointed out, if you squint your eyes her name resembles "library".  She is not afraid to experiment with different genres- indeed her first trilogy was a wonderful 19th century Victorian boarding school magical mystery tour. Her next endeavour, Going Bovine, an insane romp through the dying mind of a hapless teenage boy afflicted with mad cow disease, won her the Michael Printz award. I reviewed it in this post.

And now Beauty Queens (Actually I am a little late on the uptake. I think she has an actual new one out very soon, and once again on a totally different subject). So here is a quote from the acknowledgement section of the book, just to give you an idea of what it is about:

A huge thanks to my editor and uber-mensch [there is a funny footnote here which I am not going to quote here. You will just have to buy the book and read it yourself], David Levithan, who years ago, said, " A plane full of beauty queens crashes on a deserted island. And...Go!"
Yep. That is essentially the plot of this wonderful tome I think all girls should read.

Why?

Because of shite like this:

Female Olympians fight back against shamers and haters

And like this:

The 12 Sexiest Olympic Women

WTF?I have to say, when I read that first article, it felt personal. No, not because I equate myself in anyway with the pinnacle of physical fitness these women have attained, but because it has taken me a very long time to realise that I don't want to be thin so much as strong and healthy.

I know. Duh.

But I don't want that just for myself. I want my daughters to feel the joy of having their bodies function well. Have the feeling of strength as you run, or muscles as you lift things. I want them to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing yourself physically, of doing something you couldn't do before. I want them to eat right so they can have the energy to get through their day without being exhausted, to use exercise and diet (as in what you eat daily not as in some weird eat-only-grapefruit-until-your-pee-turns-to-acid insanity) as a catapult to launch them into the socratic "examined life."

Basically, I want them to feel like Wonder Woman, without having to wear the stupid costume.

But really, if we live in a society that can still objectify the body of our world's top athletes and judge them as wanting, I want out. Really. I give back my ticket. I am saying a hail and hearty fuck you to all thoughts of trying to fit in body-wise.

That is mostly what I want my daughters to do too.

As Twisted Sister said, "We're not going to take it anymore."

Okay. I guess a lot of people have said that, but none with such panache.

And that is why Libba Bray's book is so wonderful. It does exactly that. Part Miss Congeniality, part James Bond thriller, part Mel Brooks satire, and yes, part Lord of the Flies, Bray takes an outlandish plot and manages to plunk down some very fleshed out (no pun intended) characters.

Now don't think this book is simply a polemic against the beauty industry and the insane standards women must try to live up to (though there is that, but done in such a hilarious way you won't mind). There a nuances as well. The individual contestants all have different issues to deal with besides trying to figure out who you are when the world insists on seeing you only one way.

Questions like why is our sexuality something to hide instead of embrace (slut vs. stud anyone?) come up.  Transgendered issues. Gay issues. And the age old question of how do you survive your parents expectations of you, as well as navigate the rocky shoals of your hormones while retaining your good sense. All of that plus more awaits you. So pick it up now.

That's all I have to say.






Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three New Things I Did on my Vacation


 1. I stood on my head. Okay, this is something I excelled at as a child. I even have this weird mercenary memory of making $5 on a bet at my own father's funeral for standing on my head for more than a minute. But I haven't stood on my head for over 25 years, so I think it counts as a new thing.

Did I like it? Not so much. The reason I was standing on my head (no, it wasn't another $5 bet) was because I tagged along on my sister's workout with her trainer (that sounds fancier than it is - they barter services). Twice a week they drive to a beach and do a bunch of crazy (in my opinion, but then anything but running seems a little crazy) exercises.  Phrases like lymphatic drainage are bandied about. Weird breathing, the kind you equate with boxers, was tried- in my case, not successfully.

We happened to be on Dallas road for this particular workout, on a ledge half way down the stairs to the beach. We used the wall to lever ourselves up (honestly, just sticking my posterior so blatantly in the air in a public space was frightening enough for me. Were my pantylines showing? What if I was ruining the view for some early morning dog walker?). I also used it to rest my feet as I was too scared to let go.

The trainer told me the reason for the head standing is that it helps to balance your stress. The way it does that is by shocking your system. Now, I like the analogy of standing on your head- a new perspective to shock the system. But in reality it FREAKED the hell out of me. Once on my head I could not see the ledge anymore. It was just ocean and sky and they were IN THE WRONG PLACE!
I toughed it out for the time I was supposed to stand on my head because I'm no quitter (and I don't want to look like a scaredy cat) but I am not sure if it helped de-stress me- in fact quite the opposite. I needed to run home after that in order to stop the flow of adrenaline to my brain.

2. I got a pedicure!
The lady is scraping my foot. I don't envy her.
I chose a deep red nail polish, and for weeks after would be mesmerised by my toes. The only thing that was a tad disconcerting was the feeling of being a rich white lady being served literally hand and foot by Asian ladies. It felt a little too decadent, so I have determined to make this an annual tradition with my sister. One a year is not decadent is it? 

Don't answer that.

3. Tree Adventure!
On the last day of our trip to Victoria, we took the kids to Wild Play, a series of obstacles high in the trees. Once we learned how to use the harness and hooks safely and successfully accomplished the practice course, we started the course. Sometimes we ziplined between trees, hitting the cushion on the narrow platform with a thud. Sometimes we had to make our way across on ever shifting swings, or ropes.

It most definitely took me out of my comfort zone. My nephew, who isn't so sure about roller coasters, totally rocked the course. I think he might be part mountain goat. My daughters got scared, but pushed through it, which made me very proud.
It was also really fun.
Kids on the practice run
Thus concludes our trip to Victoria.

Up next: I have no idea.You will just have to wait and see.