Mary Poppins and 365 Days of Fun

mary poppinsI have talked about this many times before, and I am going to talk about it again because I can.

This morning I was talking to my dad on the phone. We were conspiring about my mom’s Christmas gift and when we finished the conversation my dad said, “Thank you Sweetheart!” 46 years old and my Daddy calls me sweetheart and baby still.

And I like it.

After we hung up, my memory took me back for a flash of Dad helping me get my winter coat on so we could go see Mary Poppins at the movie house in Yellowknife, NWT (for the uninitiated, that is in Canada’s Arctic).

Things I remember about that day include singing the songs from the movie, walking past the town’s only parking meter, sitting in the damp movie theatre beside my Dad and my brother and visualizing myself as Mary Poppins.

My dad didn’t take me to as many movies as my mom did. But he did come with us to the “last day of school’ movies. We saw Superman, Goonies, Indiana Jones, Silverado, The Right Stuff, and countless other action/adventure movies with my dad and mom. I am not sure, but in my memory Mary Poppins was our first “last day of school” movie. I was in grade 1 and my dad finished his very first year of teaching. He was the local grad 5 teachers, so we had plenty to celebrate. AND we were driving from Yellowknife to Disneyland later that summer. For the record the drive is 4302 km. With me 6, my ADHD brother 4, and my aunt 12, in the back seat.

We saw a lot of cool and interesting things that summer but what stuck with me were two things:

1. Sitting on Main Street Watching the Electrical Parade right in front of the emporium. My mom came out of the shop with what are now ‘vintage’ Mickey Mouse Sweatshirts – but at the time they were ‘new’.

2. Memories of the Mary Poppins movie.

We sang every song a million times on our drive to Disneyland. Singing in the car was always a huge pastime.  I suspect it is why I know the lyrics to every song written before 1990.

Everything about that summer was magic for me. From visiting my Grandma in Sherwood Park before leaving to Disneyland – to driving through a giant redwood tree that was on the way.

This Friday is the “last day of School” celebration for Christmas. Saving Mr. Banks is on the menu for me. I am dragging my family to it because of the significance of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins in my life and because it was so important to me, my kids know everything about it and have become massive Disney fans in their own right.

I love walking around Disneyland tell stories of the place of when I was a kid. Showing them where Skull Rock was located, telling stories of the Short Cut to Space Mountain before it became a backstage area – or maybe it was then but my brother and I went that way anyways to be first in line. Then my children ask me to tell them stories of their first visit, like when The Boy whispered secrets into Pooh Bear’s ear or when Chatterbox wore the Mickey Ears that caused seizers from the constant flashing. We have been enough times to have a million memories of our own.

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Just the way I like it.

But I also value the memories of Dad singing Bert’s part and my singing Mary’s part.

I can’t wait for Friday…and Christmas because I asked for the 50th Anniversary Mary Poppins edition.

My days have been loaded with fun and anticipation. This 365 Days of Awesome has been awesome so far.


Birds will be the death of me

Big Bird - Library of Congress, Living Legend ...
Big Bird – One of many muppet birds who don’t scare me like the real things do – not that Big Bird isn’t real, you know what I mean.

I get asked LOTS of questions here at the Edmonton Tourist. Usually they come from the ‘contact me‘ page, people will message me on my facebook page (hey come like me!) or they message me and chat away with me on twitter @edmontontourist. Sometimes I get asked questions directly in the comment section here on this blog or my Me and Mo Running blog. I get invitations to speak at gatherings, events and even summits (hello Canadian Medical Association!). But sometimes someone who I consider a bloggy friend, who morphed into a facebook friend asks me a question that has me stumped.

This is hard for me to take because I brag CONSTANTLY to my children about how I know EVERYTHING. Although now that they are approaching their adulthood – and quickly – they don’t believe me with the same intensity. If fact – sometimes I am called a LIAR. Shocking…but true. They have called me worse, but that might shock my grandma – so let’s just leave it at ‘liar’.

Mark Petruska, or should I say Author Mark Petruska who hails from Portland Vancouver, Washington asked me this:

Does your fear of birds stem from old Hitchcock movies? Scientific documentaries proclaiming that birds are descended from dinosaurs? Mitt Romney throwing Big Bird under the bus? Or is it something else entirely?


Hmmm. Good question Mark! I need to think about it.

For as long as I could remember, I feared birds in the “HOLY CRAP I AM GOING TO DIE!” way. Never in the “EWWW THEY ARE ICKY” way. Because Birds are not icky. Rodents are. Birds scare me in ways that I fear a stroke or a heart attack.

But the question remains WHY?

I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds when I was a teen, but I was already REALLY SUPER SCARED of birds by then. I would never pet chicks, never feed chickens, never feed ducks at the pond, and never EVER help grandpa fill his 9 billion bird feeders or paint any of his bird houses because I had no interest in those birds being anywhere near me – EVER.

Then a memory came to me. Then I realized I had REPRESSED this memory. Thinking about it TERRIFIES ME STILL.

I was 6 years old and living in Canada’s Arctic in a town called Yellowknife, North West Territories. Ravens were as bad as mosquitos. I kid you not. They were huge from my point of view and memory – so I looked them up. They are like flying chickens. My mom threatened to cook one for Thanksgiving one year. The problem with Ravens is they are smart. And not your usual “oh look a bird feeder” they are “hey fella’s, look over there, I see a grocery store. Let’s devise a plan to open the door and have a feast!”

I know you don’t believe me.

I remember walk home from school and my friend was eating a snack. The ravens swooped in, pulled my jacket so I was not in reaching distance of her. Another one flapped his wings in her face, while a third took the food out of her hands. It was scary.

Another time I was sitting in the window of our home and I watched two raven hover over a garbage can while a third one took the lid off. Then the other two went in and lifted the garbage bag out – first guy drops the lid and the 3 of them fly off with the garbage bag.

They would tease dogs for fun. I read about a raven working an automatic light and turning it on then wrapping its wings around the light to keep warm. These critters are smart. This was my first close encounter with birds. No wonder I am scared.

I saw a video of a Yellowknifer playing with a Raven. He would stick his finger out, say don’t peck me and of course the Raven would and the Raven would LAUGH! Are you kidding me? THAT BIRD LAUGHED! Fast forward after  you watch the beginning – PROOF!

These birds are far to smart for my liking, they will gesture to their pals, point with their feet, wings and beaks to hatch a hunting plan.

Now, I know they can talk but it isn’t the same as if Big Bird was speaking to me or if Clara and her hen party were singing at my birthday. These birds are normal in my eyes. Ravens have scarred me forever.

So now I need a little Muppet Happiness so I can sleep tonight.


My Traditions of Christmas

An ornament depicting a snowman, adorning a Ch...
Image via Wikipedia

I woke up to the smell of burnt toast. Either I am having a stroke or someone left the bread in to long. I roll over to check the time… 8:30 AM. According to my standards, that is not sleeping in but that is all I can muster until the stresses leave my head. Two more days, maybe three. The stress of life, work, school, friends and family weigh heavy on me. It is like I am the mom of everything. I have to admit, it is easier this year. I have simplified, used honesty in a way that leaves nothing for assumptions to be misconstrued. I don’t have all my ducks in a row yet, but that is coming. Things are better than I had hoped for but not quite as fabulous as I wished for.

I finish reading Room by Emma Donoghue. It was compelling. All from the perspective of a 5 year old. As an educator of preschoolers, it made me think about them from an interesting perspective. But now it’s done and I need more books. I have a huge list for download, but I need to wait until after Christmas.

I roll out of bed because my tummy is rumbling. I ignore it to hop into the shower and indulge in the fancy soaps. It is Christmas Eve and the family festivities begin tonight.

As a kid I remember driving down from Yellowknife with dad trying to keep the Blizzard on our tail. We planned to sleep in Peace River, but Mom was worried we would be stuck there for Christmas Morning. So we kept moving. My brother (4) and I (6) were dressed in our jammies for the very long drive to Edmonton. We were armed with pillows, blankets and teddies. I remember the dark, but that is nothing new I lived in the Arctic. It was always dark, not really knowing the time by the light of the sun unless it was noon. Looking out the window as we drove, I saw swirling snow and dark. These were the days before electronics in the car. Mom couldn’t read to us because a flashlight would bother dad.  So we slept.

When we woke up it was still dark. But I remembered Granny’s house! It was just like I remembered from a 100 years ago or summertime, both were a long way away. Mom tried the side door, Grandpa left it open for us. We snuck in quietly, but not quietly enough I guess. In the living room we turned on the Christmas lights, placed gifts under the tree and waited. Granny came into the living room and there we were under the tree for her Christmas present. Her face was happy and so was mom’s. Somehow we went back to sleep to wait for Christmas Eve to come.

I reflect on traditions of my past and tried to incorporate the ones I loved into my Christmas present. Christmas Eve dinner use to be Chinese food out, but now it is at my brother’s house. I like that better. Opening one gift on Christmas Eve use to mean lunch with my dad’s parents and my beloved Gram, but that changed too. Now my kids get to open their gift from their brother who lives in Australia. They like that better. Opening stockings first, while dad had breakfast. We still open stockings first, while mom (me) makes her coffee. I like that better. Then opening gifts, one at a time to stretch out Christmas and share in what each other received. I liked that best and so does my son. The same tradition continues. Dinner no longer is at my Granny’s, it moved to my mom’s and now my sister and I take turns. I like it better at her house and she likes it better at mine.

The feeling is the same. Warm and comfortable, wishing others could join us but knowing they are far away and can’t. Memories of them will have to do.

As I look out my kitchen window to the small snow piles and warm air outside, I am thankful the weather is nicer than last year. I think about Christmas at Walt Disney World and loved swimming outside on New Years Eve. I love the dark at Christmas. It makes the lights shine and the ice sparkle. For the first time in years I found the Christmas Spirit. I realize I am not the old me, but the new and improved me. The Edmonton Tourist Tradition continues…

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family who celebrate, and best wishes for all of you who don’t.

Love The Edmonton Tourist aka Robyn


Looking across Yellowknife Old Town towards N'...
Image via Wikipedia

I had extreme deja vu the last couple days. Not the kind where I felt “I have done this before”, but the kind where you hear your grandpa’s voice echo in your memories or you speak and it’s your mom’s words. Maybe that isn’t deja vu, maybe it is old age where you actually turn into your parents or grandparents (much to your 16 year old self’s horror).

I am not that horrified. That surprises me.

It all started when I read a blog from a fellow in Yellowknife. I lived there when I was 6. Yellowknife, North West Territories, Canada. It is in the Arctic. (Yes it is cold, yes it is hot, yes there are a lot of mosquitos, yes I saw a ptarmigan, yes I ate caribou, yes I ate arctic char, yes it was too cold to start the car in the winter so we walked. When Grandma came to visit she brought a suitcase full of food. In the early 70’s it felt like another planet. TV Football games came up on the truck in a can a week after the fact. Everything was a week after the fact. It was kind of like living in the past.) I googled street viewed Yellowknife last night. I found the fire station – it was red when I was a kid, now it’s blue. My school is gone and a new one is in it’s place. It is just as rocky as I remember, it is on the Canadian Sheild. There is more grass than there was when I lived there but everything else looks the same. Except my house. I found it. It was a blue duplex. It now has crazy shack-like additions all over the other side of the duplex – not my side. I remembered the road where the ravens worked together to open a trash can. One would lift the lid, and two would carry out the trash bag. It was a sight to behold! Those birds were smart and the size of turkeys, at least to a 6 year old they were.

I was so excited to see my house, I called out to my kids “HEY! Want to see the house I lived in when I was in Yellowknife?” They both came running and looked for 1.2 seconds then they saw a cloud that looked like Pooh and Piglet. I almost yelled “Get back here I am showing you my history and teaching you something!” But I didn’t. I never let those words leave my lips. I remember my Grandpa saying those to me when he was showing me endless booooooooooooooring stuff about Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Suddenly, I realized how Grandpa felt about reliving those memories and wanting to share them with me. Did I care? Eventually I did. Not at the time. As an adult I sat and listened to the Humbolt stories. Sometimes my kids ask me about when I was little. Rarely I talk about the Arctic. I lived there for 2 years. Maybe they will ask more one day. It is fun to sit around at family picnics and talk about the funny stuff when my siblings and I were little. Our kids love hearing those stories.

Tonight at the family picnic, we were talking about how my parents dressed when we were young. Dad in his Family Tartan Suit jacket with matching tie. Mom with her hair teased a million miles high. It’s funny to remember the perms and leisure suits, dickies and white paten leather shoes with matching belts. Fashion of years past is hilarious.

Somehow the topic was changed to pickles and brine. Then mom turns to dad and has the following conversation:

Mom: Remember that town we were in where all those people bought that Buffalo mozzarella to take home on the plane?

Dad: What town? We have been in 500 000 towns.

Mom: You know, THAT town where the cheese was.

Dad: Well THAT helps.

Mom: YOU KNOW THAT TOWN, it had that place, the place with the THING!!!

Dad: Well, THAT narrows it DOWN!

Mom: It started with C something, You know THAT TOWN!!! WITH THE CHEESE!!!

As if emphasizing THAT TOWN helped dad remember. My sister and I laughed, but I had a scary realization, some day that is going to me. There would be me yelling to my kids, you know, THAT THING! That THING I NEED!! Then call my daughter every girl name I know but hers. I can see it coming.

Oh well, it makes for a fun picnic.


Edmonton Tourist? Present!

I spent my long weekend being present, in the moment and it was wonderful. That may sound odd to you, but of late, it has become difficult for me to live in the present.

My weekly yoga practice has my yogi telling me, be present. There is nowhere else you need to be, this is a gift to yourself. Be in the moment.

My entire life I have been a daydreamer. I have always been comfortable alone and still with my thoughts because I have an amazing ability to slip into another life, another world or another moment in time. Long travel trips have never bothered me because I have a rich imagination that can carry me away.

When I was 6, my family packed up and moved the Yellowknife, North West Territories in Canada’s Arctic. In fact, I changed schools 4 times before I entered grade 3. I relied on my active imagination to keep me from feeling lonely. Making new friends was hard for me. It is a skill I am very good at now, yet I would still rather be alone with my thoughts than be with more than a handful of people in my life. My grade one teacher often pulled me out into the hallway to tell me I need to stop DAYDREAMING. She would say, “Edmonton Tourist, I know you miss your family in Edmonton, but you need to pay attention at school!” For the record Mrs. Long Grade One Teacher, I had my family with me. When you are 6, your family is your parents and your brother. Sure everyone else was awesome, but at 6, my whole world was in Yellowknife. The reason I was a DAYDREAMER, was school bit. It was BORING. It moved too slow for me, so I would enter the world of imagination in my head and off I would go until the bell rang.

As a child I would act out these fairy tales that lived in my head. As I became older, I would keep these stories in my head and relive them in the car, in the bathtub, laying on my bed or just before I needed to sleep. I was Apollo and Athena’s sister in Battlestar Galatica (secretly dating Starbuck!) or I was on the run in Logan’s Run, or just simply, I was Sleeping Beauty dancing the day away with Prince Phillip. It was all good.

Even now as an adult, I can easily recreate a life I want filled with a cast of characters I have never met. It helps pass the time on long plane rides or car trips. It is part of the reason I enjoy solitude. I know this is normal for some people and completely bonkers for others. Over the past 5 years I find myself drifting more and more into my imagination. I have just recently learned the reason for this. Clearly I have not been satisfied with my life and the way it has been going. I have obviously needed change. The Edmonton Tourist Journey has begun that process for me. It is forcing me to be present and accounted for. I am not letting my life drift by unnoticed anymore. I am reaching for what I want, telling the Universe I need it and in some cases, the Universe gives it to me. It has truly become an amazing journey. Every week something exciting and unexpected happens to me. I received a couple of incredible emails today. Both of the from different people and both COMPLETELY unexpected! I had I not been present, I would have missed out on both of these. That makes me think, WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING?!?

Being present is important to my journey. I want to experience everything along the way. I can’t get caught up in boredom, because I can easily slip into my imagination to help me get past it. That is not to say I shouldn’t look towards the future, on the contrary. I need to set goals and plan for it so I can work on them in the PRESENT. Being present is the MOST CHALLENGING GOAL TO DATE!That’s not to say I am giving up my imagination. No WAY!! It is in my imagination and thoughts that my dreams are turned into reality. It gives my goals purpose, something for me to aim for.

So Edmonton Tourist, Live your best life and BE present for it!

Who is the Coldest Canadian?

Oh Facebook, you are such a tease! Look at you suggesting I enter a contest proclaiming I am the Coldest Canadian so I can win a trip to New Zealand! I would love to win a trip! Not just to New Zealand but I would be happy to win a trip to Calgary! I just like to win. I am competitive that way.

I checked out this contest and it seems simple enough. I just need to video my self proving I am the Coldest Canadian, submit the video and get 500 000 of my closest friends to vote for me! Easy Peasy.

  1. I could sit on the patio at Starbucks drinking a Frap! That’s pretty cold.
  2. I could go for a Polar Bear swim at Lake Wabamum. There is open water near the Coal Plant cooling ponds, that is pretty cold!
  3. I could lay out on my lounge in the back yard in a bikini Athletic Tank Suit reading about polar bears in National Geographic with the thermometer behind me reading -32C
  4. I could shovel the walks in flip flops!

I watched some of the videos that were submitted by fellow Crazy Canucks, I voted for Lauren in Yellowknife. It was -34C with a windchill of -45C. She stripped down to her bikini and froze her patootie off amongst the ice sculptures. I lived in Yellowknife and I don’t care what anyone says, that place if freaking cold! Besides, she lives in YELLOWKNIFE, she deserves a vacation!

I am going to give this some thought. I want to go to New Zealand. What do you suggest?