a peek inside the fishbowl

20 Apr, 2019

Weekend reading: April 20 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: Ellen In Pieces, by Caroline Adderson

At the end of my previous post I linked to a very old blog post, an 18-year-old blog post, to be exact. It’s so old it’s not even part of the archives. I actually had to go and find it on my computer and upload it.

I had to laugh at a sentence I had written at the top of the page: “Welcome to andrea’s blog. Here for no reason in particular. May or may not be here tomorrow.”

I guess I really didn’t plan on keeping it going for this long.

When I first started blogging it was primarily to keep my friends and family updated about our family life and how our girls were growing. It wasn’t technically meant to be a scrapbook of milestones, just some random jottings, but I guess that’s what it was in those early days. The eldest is walking! Talking! Reading! The youngest ate solids! It was ultimately around those milestones that a sort of community was formed. And I also learned that I was not alone in this parenting thing. There were other people out there who were walking around like semi-living zombies with crumbs in their bras and dried patches of baby spit down their backs! Amazing.

Today I have almost 20 years of journal entries. It is, in a sense, a scrapbook of our lives.

A few of you who are reading along have been here since the beginning and watched our kids grow up. You have also probably noticed that I wrote a lot about them when they were small, and less so as they got older. I thought they deserved a greater degree of privacy and I’m happy with this decision.

We are hitting a few milestones this year and for those of you who know us best and have been reading the longest, I wanted to share a little bit of where we’re at right now (while keeping some degree of privacy intact).

The eldest is in her second year of university at Queen’s. She’s studying to be a primary school teacher. We just helped her move to a new place with new roomies and there will be four young women living in the same home. When she first moved out on her own (a.k.a. left the relative shelter of university residence life) I was worried she wouldn’t feed herself very well (eg. get enough veggies and remember to pack a lunch) but I am very pleased to report that she’s doing ok! She knows her way around the grocery store – and the kitchen – and even sends us the occasional photo of stir-fries and other tasty concoctions she cooks up. (Thank you Pinterest!) She has been working part-time while completing her studies. Exams are happening right now, and her tales of studying and revising have reminded me why I DON’T want to go back to school, even though sometimes I think I am craving more higher education. When exams are over she’s jetting off to British Columbia to stay with friends for a bit before coming back to Ottawa and looking for summer work.

The youngest is finishing grade 12 this year and will also be at Queen’s in the fall. I repeat: Our two kids will be going to school in THE SAME CITY. I’m pleased for them, of course, but I am doubly pleased for Mark and I. Easy drop-offs, pickups, deliveries, impromptu dates and dinners! I am excited about this.

The youngest recently told me about some of the courses she’s interested in taking within the faculty of Arts & Science and it’s a very long and interesting list. As I mentioned before, she just got her driver’s license so the car is getting a lot more use now. I am glad she’s driving but I tell ya, it also worries me. New drivers tend to drive a little slower and with extra caution and it will take a little more practice to gain confidence. It’s the other drivers I am most worried about. Both Mark and I have been in the car with them when other drivers honk and rage and pass them at furious speeds. It’s scary.

We are super proud of both our daughters and look forward to seeing what the future brings.

Mark and I are starting a whole new chapter soon, which is weird to think about. The “what will you do when the kids are gone” question is one that I’ve been fielding quite a bit, along with “did you have children when you were TWELVE??” (haha). I haven’t come up with a satisfactory answer to the first one. I do know that I enjoyed every stage of parenting and will likely enjoy the next one too. Mark and I have a few ideas. As for what the blog will look like, I can’t say for certain. On one hand, I am asking myself what a parenting blog looks like without kids in the picture. But on the other hand, I know the Fishbowl isn’t really about parenting. It’s about me, essentially, and the topic matter is as varied as the ideas that are swirling around in my brain. Maybe it’s always been that way, too.

We shall see what the next chapter brings, but in the meantime, thank you for reading. xo

14 Apr, 2019

18 and three days

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you already know that the youngest daughter turned 18 this week. Honestly, I don’t know how we got here. She used to be a small baby!

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Happy birthday to my baby girl. She is 18 today!

A post shared by Andrea Tomkins (@quietfish) on

This is the year that Mark and I become the parents of two Young Adults. The eldest will be turning 20 in May. 20!

When the girls were small I went into lots of detail about their birthday parties. This was mostly done as a matter of family record and although those blog posts may only be interesting only to myself, I’m glad I wrote them. So I’m here to jot down what this birthday milestone looked like here at Casa Fishbowl.

There was no birthday party. At least not the kind of birthday party with guests and loot bags. Obv.

After her driver’s test was cancelled due to bad weather she rebooked it for April 11, her birthday. So for a few hours that afternoon both of us were a tangled mess of anxiety. But there’s good news! She got her license! And she’s been disappearing with our car every day since then.

We celebrated her birthday last weekend with my in-laws. She requested a fave dish – shrimp in garlic butter sauce  – and I picked up a key lime pie for dessert from Thyme & Again. There was no cake on her actual birthday, but there were gifts. We bought her a pair of Doc Marten platform boots (as per her request). As a future world traveller, she also received a Lonely Planet guide to the world and iron-on Canada Day patches for her backpack and luggage (thank you World of Maps), and a framed print and laptop sticker from Makerhouse.

Dinner out is always the choice of the birthday boy or girl. More often than not, this dinner tends to be sushi but she wanted to dine in Gatineau so we went to Les Brasseurs du Temps. Sidebar: it’s a good destination with a great beer menu. It’s even better in the summer! We shared some deep-fried cheese curds to start. Mark ordered the fish and chips, I had a veggie sandwich with sweet potato fries (SO.GOOD.), and the youngest had steak frites, which got a thumbs up.

She ordered a Mojito (go figure) and Mark and I enjoyed a variety of craft brews.

For dessert, we bought some macarons from Quelque Chose Patisserie and devoured them at home while settled comfortably on the couch watching the show finale of Community. It was all in all, a very memorable birthday for my baby. And in celebration, I present to you a very early blog post … in which we welcomed Sarah to the world. Almost all of the links in that post are dead (my deep archives are a mess) but you’ll get the picture.

13 Apr, 2019

Weekend reading: April 13 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: The Drowning House, by Elizabeth Black

06 Apr, 2019

Weekend reading: April 6 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


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