12.19.2008

Scruffy

I am scruffy. My house is scruffy. My kids are often scruffy, and my husband? Definite scruff.

I dream sometimes, of conditioned, flowing locks and gleaming hardwood and shiny children, but that is just a dream. (I wouldn’t unscruff my husband. I like him that way.) Actually, it’s not even a dream, more like a fantasy that I entertain momentarily when I see pictures of other people’s unscruffiness, or when unscruffies come over and have to endure hang out in my scruff.

I mean, it’s not gross – we’re not usually dirty. We’re all just a bit, well, unkempt. Mostly that is because I am supposed to keep myself and my things and my children kempt, and I do a lousy job. I am a lousy kempter. I just don’t always see the things that less unkempt people see, like natty baby dreads forming on my child’s head, or a loose string hanging off of my shirt, and by time I do eventually see those things, I have run out of time to deal with them. And then I forget about them again, because I am easily

Ew! Somebody in the next cubicle just farted!

To be fair though, this is not a result of having children. I’ve always been kind of scruffy, waaaaay preferring second-hand jeans (these days we call it vintage, but really, that’s just a less scruffy way of saying ‘used.’) and dready boys to nice pants and a haircut, and I have never trusted the pristine. I like things with a little bit of history, a little wear and tear – a story to tell.

However –


Finding out that there is a (really) big milk stain placed oh-so-strategically on my left boob shirt?

A little too scruffy, even for me.

***

12.18.2008

Bah Humbug

It’s not usually like this.I’m totally exhausted. Emotionally drained, my limbs feel heavy and my heart feels grey. One more argument with my husband; one more insensitive remark from a coworker; one more sleepless night or one more worrying turn to my mother’s health – I’m ready for it; expecting it.

I’m not even steeling myself for these inevitables, as impact, deflection hurt, leaves ugly marks; I’m softening to the blows; sinking into them, crumpling around them.

I have no time; I have no energy. The daily grind is pulverizing me; things I consider important are getting left by the wayside, getting laid to waste.


My husband and I are still partners – sparring partners. Will a new year bring a renewed connection, or simply new distance?

I need balance. The scales seem to be tipping. Towards what, I’m not sure.


***


p.s. the first person to suggest depression or pms gets a virtual punch in the face.

Gettin My Festive On

We had our family Hanukkah party this weekend, and it was really, really lovely. In previous years, we have gathered at my mum’s apartment and gorged ourselves on latkes and chocolate, and passed around usually homemade gifts. (Hanukkah does not really come with a gift-giving precedent like Christmas, so for us, it was always hand-kinit slippers, some chocolate raisins and a box of our favourite tea.)

However, things have been getting a bit fancier ‘round the holidays, and while latkes, chocolate and fresh-knit goods still take centre stage, we have definitely kicked it up a notch.

(Continue Reading)

12.11.2008

A Love Story, A Recommendation, A Give-Away

Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.

And sometimes, stories ambush the reader.

As was the case with Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle, perhaps the most engaging freshman venture of any writer I’ve read since Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting.

I was hooked by the end of the very first line of Davidson’s tome, and it’s a good thing that my grip was tight, as the frist 100 pages or so of The Gargoyle whip the reader through a thrilling narrative, one describing with eerie precision and spine-tingling detail a scenario I never want to get closer to than through Davidson’s words.

But this is a long book, and I had to wonder where, exactly, one goes from there; how Davidson would be able to keep the momentum up throughout his story, how he would take us out of a hospital burn unit and into a world fascinating enough to hold my interest for another 400 pages.

The short answer is, he just does.

When a catastrophic burn victim is visited by an eccentric artist, his resistance to rebuilding is matched only by her devotion to his recovery – one aided by her stories of a timeless, supernatural love in which they each play an integral part.

Part Gothic love-story, part urban drama, The Gargoyle brilliantly (and often gruesomely) delivers a fascinating blend of storytelling and character study that results in a sometimes sentimental, sometimes seedy epic that truly epitomizes the term, ‘page turner.’

If there are criticisms of Davidson’s debut, I would categorize them as fairly superficial. For one, if I were to judge a book by it’s cover, I would never have picked up The Gargoyle. Like, never ever. Flames and wings and a die-cut heart do not do this story justice, and I believe, alienate the readers that would most enjoy this story, while perhaps misleading those looking for Gothic horror.

I have also heard Davidson accused of over-writing, but I think that, while the language and detail in some instances comes close, when reigned in just a bit (as it is in most cases), act as this book’s greatest assets.

This is a book to be passed on; to be shared with other readers; to be read again. And as soon as I get it back from my mum, who lent it to her friend, who lent it to her sister, I’ll be ready for seconds.

***

I have THREE copies of The Gargoyle to give away, just in time for the holidays! I'm sure there is someone on your list that will really enjoy this book, but seriously? You're going to want to keep it for yourself. Email me - kgirlto at gmail dot com if you'd lilke a copy.

I'm sorry, but I can only send the books to Canadian addresses.

*Our contest is now closed. Congratulations to the winners!*


***

12.10.2008

Because I'm Classy

and don't actually have time for a real post.

Please to enjoy.




Oh wait; I did write a real blog post, just not here. It's here. Now git.

12.08.2008

Because I promised

Me in the dress with my hot mama friend Em...





This picture was taken before everybody got completely sh*tfaced, or else the composition might have been slightly different. Like, my hands on Em's boobs or something equally classy. Happy Holidays!

***

12.01.2008

Christmas Wishes

In our blended family, I have always let Christmas be something that we anticipate at home, but celebrate at Gramma’s. We bring out only token decorations, and these must go up surreptitiously, sneaking past Chris’ cynicism, until they find their home in a subtle locale.

We bake a lot of cookies, swapping dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters for snowman-shaped cutters, and I love to creatively wrap the gifts that I have collected for our loved ones. The Christmas music comes on December first and stays on until December 26, and I map out a schedule of all of the appropriate specials for me and Bee to watch, curled up on the couch together under a blanket, eschewing her normal bedtime so that we can watch beloved claymation moments from my girlhood squeeze their way into hers.

But this year, it just doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe it is that we now have two girls, and I desire for them to embrace, to be embraced by, our special traditions and family customs. Or maybe it’s that I have returned to work and am away from my girls at the exact time of year that we focus most on family and being together, and I just need to cling to whatever lines I can grab hold of right now, hoping to be towed back in.

Whatever it is, I am finding myself seized by big, glowing yearnings that had only just slightly glimmered in the past. I want to put cute pictures of my children on holiday cards and then actually mail them to our loved ones. I want to take my kids to sit on Santa’s lap, and then pay outrageous sums for a blurry picture of them, arms outstretched, pleading for parental rescue. I want to make homemade hot chocolate and put it in my pretty mason jars adorned with ribbon.

I want a Christmas tree, dammit. And I want to put Christmas ornaments and Hanukkah dreidles on it, and I want little feathered birds to peek out from behind its branches, and I want to shoo the cat away from it and keep babies from crawling around it, and I don’t want my house to pass idly by the holiday season just because we wake up Christmas morning somewhere else.

I want cozy nights with fat snowflakes falling quietly on our street, and late mornings with babies in footed pajamas clamouring around while I make French toast and coffee.

With my sister preparing Hanukkah celebrations and Chris’ family where we go for (admittedly, a lovely, lovely) Christmas, I feel like I have outsourced the holidays. As much as everybody’s efforts do nothing but bring joy and smiles, I want to do more this year. I want to wrap my girls in the festive spirit and have them look forward to more than just going to someone else’s house and unwrapping presents.

I want them to remember the delicious smells coming from their own home; to groan (and then smile) when I line them up for a family photo; to know that every year, Bubby does that and Gramma does that, and Mummy does this. I want their favourite part of the holidays to be the time we spend together.

And to know that the time we spend with them is better than anything we could ever find under the tree.

11.28.2008

Let's Just Be Happy

Ok, forget all the depressing, Who’s Sick Now? Crap – I can’t handle it.

Not when I have two freakin’ adorable kids cuddled up together, sleeping peacefully.

Not when I have a husband who has worked until midnight every night for a week to get out of doing the dishes provide for his family.

Not when I have good friends that I can sit and drink wine, and laugh with. And laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Not when my company’s annual Christmas party is a week away, and the whole office is buzzing with anticipation. (seriously, we have really awesome parties.)

Not when, although my body will never look the same, I am, in fact, down to my pre-2nd baby weight (As for getting back to my pre-1st baby weight? Ha!).

And certainly not when, to celebrate, I treated myself to this cute little number for the party:






Let the festive season begin.


***

11.26.2008

Didn't I promise to post more often now that I'm back at work?

And wasn't this weekend Dove's first birthday? And didn't we have a wonderful party, full of family and friends and food, food, food? And didn't all of our generous friends and family heed our request and, in lieu of gifts, bring many wonderful toys and bags and bags of food to donate to children that need it more than mine?

And didn't my mother steal the spotlight by showing up at my house before the party, sick, in pain, looking like a zombie and high on tylenol 3?

And didn't my sister spend the entire day at the hospital with her, not getting any answers, not getting a diagnosis, not attending her neice's first birthday party?

And isn't my mum finally getting discharged 5 days later, still with no answers, more scheduled tests, more procedures, hopefully no more pain?

And aren't my brother and sister reeling with the worry that we are going through this again, that the answers will be the worst answers, that the only news we ever seem to get is the worst news?

And will my head ever stop spinning?


***

11.20.2008

At the Foot of His Grave, I Sat Down and Cried

It was much different than I had imagined.

In my mind, it was Flanders’ Fields, row upon lonely row of grave markers with the Florida sun beating down relentlessly, shadows pirouetting around the stones as the day grew longer.

In my mind, it was a lonely place, as lonely as my grief still has the power to make me feel.

I never went to my dad’s funeral. I couldn’t, for even if I hadn’t been less than two months from the anticipated arrival of my second daughter, it is against Jewish law, and more importantly, very bad luck for a pregnant Jewish woman to attend a funeral. With so many unfortunate things happening to my family in the past few years, I don’t think my mother could have handled me blatantly tempting fate in such a way.

No mind; the point is that my dad died, and was buried, without me, and it is something that has weighed heavily on me since. And so, when the opportunity came to return to Florida, to enjoy a week together as a family; to allow my girls the opportunity to spend good, intimate time with their grandparents; to visit my dad for the first time in over a year – I said yes.

I saved the two-hour drive to Florida National Cemetery until our second-last day, afraid that going any earlier would cast a pall over our entire trip. So instead of being depressed and sad for the duration, I was instead irritable and sad with anticipation. On Thursday, I woke up early, took a deep breath, and we headed out.

Bee stayed with her grandparents, and Dove, whom my dad missed meeting by 9 weeks, came with us.

It was a peaceful drive, and I tried to rally myself for the experience. But as we finally turned off the I-75, sadness overtook me. I thought of my sisters, who, one year earlier, had driven this same stretch of road, devastated and feeling lost. I thought of how circumstances had not only denied me that experience, but also shielded me from the difficulty of it. I thought of my brother who didn’t attend the funeral and hadn’t been back; who couldn’t bear going so far and not seeing his father waiting for him at the airport. I don’t think my brother will ever go back.

I was immediately struck by how beautiful the cemetery was, sprawling grounds protected on all sides by the Withlacoochee State Forest. We drove the little winding roadways shaded by so many towering trees, baffled by the cryptic numbering system of the cemetery’s many sections. We had to double back a few times before we found the section we were looking for, and I had to laugh over that, the irony being that my dad was notoriously bad with directions.

We parked by Section 327 and I got out of the car. The spot was beautiful. If you’ll allow me a very Floridian analogy, it looked like one of Mickey Mouse’s round ears, jutting off of a larger ‘head.’ The section was ensconced in pine, oak and hickory forest, and as I walked the rows, looking for his site, I was filled with a sense of calm.

I found my dad, second from the end of the row farthest from the little road, the shade of the trees dancing over the stone. I was relieved. And then I looked at the stone.

From the back, all of the grave markers looked the same. Not the generic white crosses that are so often the image of a military cemetery, but lovely, large white marble stones. From the back, all the same, but each, of course, marked with a different name, a rank, a date, a word or two. I knew my dad would have a stone like this; my sisters had consulted me on the inscription, but coming face to face with my dad’s name carved into a marble stone – well, it made my heart lurch.

It was surreal, and caught me a bit by surprise, and I offered the grave a startled greeting. Was he here? I couldn’t tell. I put my hand on the stone, and tried to feel something. The rest of the inscription was my dad’s rank, (RM3), his military association (Navy), the name of the war he fought in (Vietnam), his dates of birth and death (Too close together. Much too close together.) and then the two lines of a personal message that we were allowed to add, ‘Beloved Father and Grandfather.’

This was my dad? Was this my dad? I understood that this was, of course, a military cemetery, and so his military affiliation was important here, but that’s not who my dad was – it was just an exciting and interesting story he used to tell about someone we never knew.

I placed four rocks on his grave marker, one for each of his children, and I just started babbling; making jokes and talking to my dad as though we were on his lanai and it was two years earlier, before he got sick, before everything got so complicated and so sad.

I felt disconnected; too warm and too far away from the person I loved. I wanted to sit down, but nobody sits in the grass in Florida; coarse, prickly grass full of fire ants that were already biting my exposed feet.

And then my daughter cried out for me from her perch in her father’s arms.

I took her, and kneeled in front of the stone. I looked at the words, ‘Beloved Father and Grandfather.’

‘Dad,’ I said, ‘This is Cassidy.’

And I started to cry.

After a minute, Chris took the baby back and I told him that I would meet them in the car. I needed some time, just the two of us.

I sat in the grass that nobody ever sits in, and I cried.

I steeled myself and took a deep breath and got ready to go several times, but I didn’t want to leave. I kept sitting, and crying, and as the ants bit my ankles, my legs, my hands, I told my dad how much I missed him.

Eventually I was able to get up. I didn’t say goodbye, I simply stood up, blew my nose and started walking back down the row I had come, towards the car.

The trip was not a cathartic one, but in the weeks since I visited my father’s grave for the first time, I do feel as though there is something slightly more tangible to attach my father’s death to. It didn’t bring me peace, just a better visual than the one I had previously had in my mind.

It took me a year to be able to visit my father’s grave; I don’t know how much time will have to pass before I can open the suitcase full of his things I have in my basement. Those are memories that I feel, for now, are safer in my heart than in my hands.

***

11.18.2008

Out of the Mouth of Bees

At the dinner table the other night, Bee was happily chatting away with me, telling me about her day (so, so SO fun!); about what she would name a dog if we got her one (Scaddle the Boy); about who will be at her sister’s first birthday party on the weekend (Will Buby be there? Will Gramma be there? Is Gramma Daddy’s mudder? You’re MY mudder!); about negotiating to watch a tv show after dinner (Mummy, I’m being so patient!) (Nice try, honey), about all sorts of important things, when her father, sitting on the other side of the table, had the gall to interrupt the chatter to alert me to something particularly cute that Dove was doing with her avocado.

Bee furrowed her brow at the interruption and, with a ‘what gives’ little wave of her hands, and admonished her father:

‘Daddy! I am having a conversation with my mudder. Urrr!’

Indeed, my honey, indeed.


***

Chris was coming home with both of the kids one evening, and put Bee on the front porch while he went to get Dove out of the car. My next door neighbour, a very lovely older Greek lady, came over to Bee, and as she (rightly) does, starting gushing over her. After a minute, she picked her up to give her a hug and remark over what a big girl she was becoming. She held her for a bit, and after Chris brought her inside, he took off her jacket and explained to his oft-shy little girl that, if she didn’t want to be picked up, it was ok to say so. He was concerned that she felt powerless and uncomfortable, and he wanted to reassure her that it was ok to say no thank you. Bee looked at him, raised her hands, palms up, curled her top lip and said, out of the side of her mouth,

‘But Daddy, I like being picked up.’

He was surprised when she didn’t add, ‘Dumbass.’


***

On one of my last playdates before going back to work, a friend and I had our girls at a busy, local coffee shop that all the moms flock to, because there is a play area for the kids at the back. Truly, it’s a godsend, but that’s not the point. The point is, on this particular, crowded day, my friend, to her exasperation I’m sure, ended up having to haul her kid out of the playhouse mid-meltdown, stuff her and her sister in their stroller, and take their leave.

Sister, we’ve all been there, and while I hope no one was judging my friend, I’m sure there were the obvious sighs of relief that our own kids were playing nicely and making us look pretty good. I know, looking at my own two, entertaining themselves while I sipped my java, I felt downright civilized.

And then, a bit of a commotion from inside the playhouse. Bee was not happy that a little boy had stepped inside and was trying to commandeer the ‘cell phone.’

‘Bee,’ I called, ‘These toys don’t belong to us; we all have to share and play together.’

And then, another sound from inside the playhouse – the most dramatic sigh a three-year-old has ever sighed. I smiled despite myself. ‘Ok, love?’ I followed up. And then, loudly, from inside the playhouse, from my three-year-old,

‘Whatever.’

Oh. My. God. I snapped my gaping mouth shut and honestly, tried not to laugh as I quickly scanned the room and registered the looks of horror/smug delight on all the other moms.

‘She’ll make a lovely teenager.’ I offered.
Raised eyebrows slowly succumbed to gravity, and eventually some other kid did something even more obnoxious, and I allowed that the heat was finally off my mad parenting skills.

But to my friend, you’re welcome. Because little did you know how good I made you look that day.


***

11.12.2008

The Elephant In the Playroom

Well, I havent’ been writing much lately. At least, not here.

I’m back at work.

There. I said it. I guess that makes it real.

But K, you may say, You’ve only been back at work for three days, yet you’ve only written 12 posts in the last three months. What gives? Don’t you love your internets anymore? And I’ll have to reply, Of course I love you sillies, it’s just that my countdown back to work loomed large, and I realized that it was a better gig to be with my kids than to be writing about them.

So, how do I feel about things? Well, ok, I guess. It’s complicated. For one thing, while there are many mothers who genuinely feel like they are better mothers when they are working mothers, I am not one of them. I think I am a better mother when I am still in my pajamas at 10am, making muffins with Bee while Dove is attached to my boob, the house is a mess, the cat is crying to be let out and someone just knocked at the door.

I think I am a better mother when I am home with my kids, but even if we originally had plans to reassess our situation and whether or not I could make a go at freelance and stay home, the reality is that my husband does not have a permanent job right now, and I had a perfectly good (really, quite good) one just waiting for me. Yes, Chris has been super busy with freelance work himself, and is enjoying it, but freelance doesn't give you any guarantees. Or a drug plan.

So here I am. And I’m ok. True, it took until my third day back for me to bear putting up pictures of my girls, but I think I can look at them without crying. Truth be told, there haven’t been any tears, from me or the girls. That certainly helps. It also helps that we have a great nanny, friend of Bee’s original nanny, so well known to our family. It also helps that Chris is frequently home. It also helps that I can talk to Bee about what’s happening, and Dove, not quite a year yet, weathers my coming and going with barely a nod on my way out, and nothing more dramatic than a demand to nurse on my way in.

It’s still hard. It’s hard to stop myself from promising Bee at bedtime that we’ll do something really great together the next day. It’s hard to see another woman pushing my stroller with my kids in it. It’s hard to accept that chances are, I will miss Dove’s first steps, just as I missed Bee’s. It’s hard to feel like I know my kids best when I’m away from them for so many hours of the day.

And it’s hard to look at my computer at 2pm and realize that I haven’t thought about my girls for the last two hours. And to not feel guilty about enjoying a (hot) cup of coffee while I check my email, uninterrupted. Or to feel ok about laughing at lunch, in the company of the really awesome people I’ve worked with for eight years now.

I know that life is about choices and consequences and making the most out of what you have. I know that my girls will not be worse off for having a mother that has to work outside of the home. In fact, there will be many benefits to our new family reality. It will be nice, after months of being stretched ridiculously thin financially, to be able to ease some of the pressure there. It will be nice to watch my girls flourish under the care of a loving, capable caregiver. It will be nice to reconnect with my more, ahem, professional side (stop laughing).

It’ll be nice to have the time to blog again ;)

***

It's Wednesday! I'm still cooking up awesomeness over at Eat Me.

10.22.2008

Worst Nurse

We did it. Or, I should say, Chris did it.

He had a vasectomy on Monday.

It’s true; there will be no more bulging bellies for me… no more first glances at a new baby… no more brand new fingers curling around mine… no more first smiles… no more sleep-deprived, hormonal, dazed first weeks… no more sore, cracked, bleeding nipples! No more tiny feet crammed up my ass in a bed that’s already too small! No more RESPs to open! No more baby equipment to bleed our already stretched funds into! WHOO HOO! NO MORE BIRTH CONTROL!

The procedure went well. We had every confidence in Chris’urologist, but I must admit that I got a bit of a pang as we walked into the hospital that I had given birth to Dove in for the sole purpose of ensuring that I would never be walking in there to give birth again. Of course, this whole process is full of bittersweet ironies and understandings, many of which have years left to play themselves out.

We went to register in the Urology ward, where a corkboard on the wall was plastered with dog and cat pictures. I turned to the receptionist. 'They're all neutered, right?' Waka waka. Without missing a beat she responded, 'Oh definitley, but we sure are glad to have a human to practice on.'
Oh, urology humour. Such an overlooked area of medical comedy in general.

There was little intake to go through, save for putting on the gowns, and Chris was taken in after only a short wait. I went and got a coffee and tried to flip through a magazine but I couldn’t really concentrate, and every time the automatic door slid open my head snapped up, looking for him. I didn’t realize that I was worried until he was away from me, and as the moments slipped by my adrenaline became elevated until, with a flush of relief, Chris appeared in the open doorway and waddled towards me.

He was a bit pale, and there was a stain on his gown, which, thankfully, was only iodine. Of course, my mind had already registered blood, and it was quickly trying to talk itself back to a less gory place.

I waited while Chris slowly got dressed, and then we made our way out of the ward. We literally live less than a block from the hospital, and Chris insisted that he could walk home, no need for me to get the car.

However, by time we made it to the sidewalk, there was some discomfort – mine.

I tried not to let my mind go there, but all of a sudden it was deep in medical procedure territory, and I guess knowing that Chris was ok allowed my ‘fight or flight’ instinct to switch from the the former to the latter. My heart started beating really quickly and my face flushed. Then came the black spots and before I knew it, I was down, splayed on the sidewalk trying to find centre in a world that was spinning.

‘K! Are you alright? Do you need me to go get the car?’

Awesome. My husband just voluntarily had his vas deferens severed, but I’m the one that passes out. If you want to accuse me of being a spotlight hog, now would be a good time.

Somehow we make it home, but once we got to our front porch I abandoned Chris for our couch, where I took refuge for a bit until the second bout of nausea passed. Chris managed to get himself settled, and it occurs to me that I am like the husband that passes out in the delivery room – and I would be pretty peeved at me right now.

I eventually get my shit together and spend the rest of the day doing penance for my initial faux pas (seriously, how tacky is it to pass out at your husband’s vasectomy), slathering Chris with pillows, ice, magazines and attention.

So, now I’m feeling good. Better than Chris, that’s for sure, who has cut his weenie icing recovery a little short to attend to the load of freelance work that has been finding it’s way to him. But he’s doing ok, and I have been trying my best to take care of him and keep him and his gonads comfortable. I do of course totally appreciate his willingness to go under the knife for the sake of our reproductive freedom, something I’m sure he’ll find ample opportunity to remind me of.

Everyone has been calling and wishing Chris well; my BFF wished him a mazel tov on becoming a Jew (heh heh), and many people (well, mostly guys) have had the same question: when can Chris resume his husbandly duties?

Not to worry; he’ll be able to take out the trash as early as next week.


***
…and to answer the first question every Jewish mother asks: yes, yes, yes, but what did you eat? You can find out here.


***

10.17.2008

Trippin'

Yeah, yeah, a picture is worth a thousand words, blah, blah, blah, but it does not answer the million dollar question:

Was there any point to Tuesday’s election?

Was that Madonna I saw at the Chick n’Deli?

How was the drive to Florida?!

It was great. Easy, even. Ok, well, no 24-hour drive is easy per se, but it was aight. The key is to keep the kids strapped in their seats and throw scraps at them every couple of hours or so. And to turn up the volume of the music in conjunction with the volume being upped on the whining.

Honestly, the kids did great. Dove pretty much conked out as soon as the car went above 80 km (that’s kilometers, not miles, which we really had to get used to, because going 80km on a U.S. highway may anger your fellow drivers), and we didn’t even unpack the lifesaver baby crack DVD player until our 12th hour on the road. From then on, Bee was in a Dora-induced state of bliss, and on our first day alone we made it to Dalton, Georgia, 1000 km from home, just a little north of Atlanta. Pretty damn good, I’d say.

We broke up the second part of the drive into two more days, with a stop at my in-laws' trailer for the night. It stays year-round in a park on the Alabama/Georgia border near Eufala, and they spend much of the winter there. The trailer is anything but rustic, pimped out as it is with satellite, a computer, fireplace, wireless internet and a kick-ass porch that my father-in-law built for porch sittin’.

However, the surroundings and the rest of the people there? Um… rustic. The grounds are really nice, and the surrounding area is pretty country with the Chatahoochee running through it (YOU'RE a Chatahoochee!), and the people that live in the park year-round are nice racists. There’s no other way of putting it. Me and Chris talked about it at length, and agreed – they are not nice but racist; they are nice. And they are racist. The N-word comes up in casual conversation. And they welcomed me with warm handshakes and fresh-harvested oysters, but I am white. I have a very hard time divorcing someone’s personality from their hateful politics, so I’m glad we only stayed the one night. And I’m kinda glad that no one knew I was Jewish. Ask me about the Jew Gold billboard in Eufala some time.

(This should in no way reflect on the character of my in-laws. They are not there for the company; they are there for the golf and the weather and the proximity to far less racist places to take their trailer on road trips, and have the capacity to always see good in people and so can tolerate certain things that I cannot.)

So yeah, we leave buttfuck nowhere the next morning and head to Florida, which, don’t kid yourself, is the DEEP South. That means awesome food, weather and lots of Snowbirds such as ourselves, but it also means traveling through some of the tightest Bible Belt to get there. I’m just not used to it. In Canada, we don’t wear our religion and our politics on our sleeves (or our bumper stickers). I’m not used to all of the God talk; all the anti-choice propaganda; all the stupid little fish on the backs of cars. Some of it was entertaining, some of it baffling, and some of it downright offensive. Like the billboard (Billboard!) on the highway that showed a depiction of the twin towers burning, with this written beside the image:

Wake Up America! Profiling would have prevented this terrorist act from taking place!

Seriously.

And Covenant Trucking? Sorry, but a major WTF to that one. Especially to the slogan printed on the back of each and every truck:

It’s not a choice, It’s a child.

Actually, it’s a fucking fetus, and my fucking body, and I’ll thank you to keep your legislation off of it. Oh, and did I mention Fuck Off?

(No, I’m not pregnant; just making a point)

I did love this bumper sticker:

Criminals prefer unarmed victims.

Nice! Let’s all shoot each other.

Then there were the ones that just made me shake my head:

McCain/Palin 08

And

Women for Palin

But you know, I expected a few of those. And hey, we just reelected our own useless, Conservative Prime Minister and I thought we were an intelligent nation, so I have no reason to believe that the U.S. won’t enjoy another 4 years of neglect and abuse by the Republicans.

Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, I’m going on a bit, as usual, and I’ve probably managed to alienate my last 12 readers, so I better put an end to my rant. But let me end with this, my favourite U.S. bumper sticker of all time:

God, Guts and Guns Made America.

‘Nuff said.

Next up: Sun, sand and my own trail of tears.


***

10.15.2008

...and a good time was had by all


this is where we stayed




this is dove moments before she shoved a handful of sand in her mouth



this is my future surf punk



this is my very cool m-i-l



this is our tornado




this is after our tornado





and this is us!

9.29.2008

Holy Crap!

We're going to Florida tomorrow!

I am filled with excitement and dread (regarding the car ride), peace and sadness (regarding visiting my dad's grave for the first time), mania and depression (at the thought of all that I still have to do tonight), and shock and awe (that I've gotten all that I have, done, with Chris awol working at the Polaris Music Prize tonight).

Anyway, we're going regardless of what I forget to bring. Shit! Sandals! Pack the kids' sandals! It's still summer where we're heading.

Ok; off I go. I'll keep in touch; there's wifi at the condo. In the meantime, don't forget to check out my Eat Me column on Wednesday, and for all my righteous peeps out there, Shana Tova.

Peace out.

9.26.2008

I'm Cheap and Easy, But Not THAT Cheap and Easy

It's not the marketing; I understand the need to find new and technologically savvy ways to peddle crap.

It's not the emails from the marketers; I make my address available, and therefore, my inbox gets what it deserves. We have 'Delete' buttons for a reason, right?

It's not the marketers themselves; they have a job to do and part of it is trying to convince me to 'work' for them. Hell, sometimes they are even successful - I love being part of the Random House on-line review program: I love reading and think supporting authors and publishers is important enough to spread the word on my blog.

There have even been a few times where I have emailed a solicitor back to hear a little bit more about their program and to see whether or not it would be a good fit for us. (So far, not so much.)

So what is it then?

I guess it's a simple matter of checking your work:

Hey,

Ms. Blue,

Hi, my name is Adrienne. I recenly came across your blog and think it is great. I am very interested to hear how the drive to Florida goes! I remember driving with my fam when I was a kid to Quebec every summer for our vacation. 8 hours in a car with a younger brother who liked to scream, for no reason, at the top of his lungs. Golden.

Also, I love the tattoos! Its always a great feeling to commit to something like that when it really has a lot of meaning and value. And let's be honest, old-school tattoos are just awesome!


The reason I am writing you is because I am doing PR for a skincare company called xxx.
We specialize in great products for every inch of skin from the neck down. These products were made by mothers, for mothers.
I am looking to make contact with a few great bloggers in the Toronto area and send them samples of our new/current products to try out. There are no obligations or requirements, all I ask is that if you enjoy the products, you give them mention in your blog.

If this is something you'd be interested in, please let me know. All I would need from you in moving forward would be contact information and a mailing address.

Feel free to write back or give me a call at 416 xxx-xxxx if you have any questions or would like to chat further.

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

Adrienne



And my response:


Hi Adrienne, I appreciate the contact, but I find the personal touch goes a bit farther if you get my name right.

Good luck with your campaign; no need to keep in touch regarding future initiatives.


Karen "kgirl," proprietress, The Kids Are Alright


***

9.19.2008

The Good, The Bad and The Yummy?

The Good:
You guys remember my guestposter for the bitchfest, right? The guestposter that kicked my sorry feelin-sorry-for-myself ass into humility with her words and wisdom? Well, I told her she should go get herself her own blog, because the blogosphere deserved her.

And guess what? She listened to me! I am so not used to people (like, three-year-olds, I mean) listening to me, that I had to read her email twice, but folks, The CoopKeeper is in da blogosphere. Go check her out, if you ain't chicken. (waka waka)

The Bad:
I'm sick. I seriously hate it when people blog that they are sick (like I am), or update their Facebook status with, ... is sick (like I did), but bejeeezus, I got sick. First time in three years, not including morning sickness. So I am entitiled. Chris took yesterday off from his glamorous freelance job to let me rest, but today I am on my own. At least, until 4 o'clock when my mother will be here, with juice and hopefully something chocolaty. Anyway, the point is, I have the sniffles. Boo.

The Yummy?
You guys know I like cooking. But did you also know that I like cross-stitching and playing cards? I swear I could be a 50's housewife, if it weren't all Stepford-y, and I was allowed to have tattoos. Anyway, I'm a couple of days late, but I'm putting together a very 50's dinner party over at Eat Me, and you're all invited.

Oh, and P.S. - I'm going to Florida in a couple of weeks. We're driving. With the kids. From Toronto. Chris thinks we are insane. I think we are adventurers. More on that later.


***

9.09.2008

You Know You're a Mother When...

* Your makeup case is an old Robeez bag.

* Your lunch consisted of the scraps your daughter left on her plate plus a spoonful of peanut butter.

* You can’t find your keys, the diaper cream or a clean shirt to save your life, but you always know where your coffee is.

* If you are going anywhere beyond your local grocery store, you put on your ‘good’ yoga pants.

* You own 6 pairs of yoga pants but haven’t done yoga in 4 years.

* You know how to get breast milk out of just about anything, including a wool couch.

* You wear your daughter’s purple plastic hairclips, and it’s not to be ironic.

* Your childrens’ rooms are gorgeously decorated, detailed and attended to, but the only accessories in your own room are two huge piles of laundry and a box of breast pads.

* You leave half-filled glasses of water everywhere. This is not intentional, but it does come in handy.

* You urge your child to go pee every 1/2 an hour, then realize that you’ve had to go for 6 hours.

* Going grocery shopping without the kids feels like ‘me time.’

* You spend $40 on shoes for your toddler, lest her tiny feet develop abnormally, but you prance around in $5 flip-flops all summer.

* You think tiny farts are adorable.

* You applaud burps and belches in the kids, but call your husband a gross pig when he lets one go.

* ‘Poopers,’ ‘MumMum,’ Jammie-Jams’ and ‘Ah-Boo!’ are a regular part of your daily speech.

* You can name a Wiggles song in 3 notes but have to feign recognition when your (childless) friend starts talking about a new, hot band.

* You momentarily get excited when channel surfing at 11:30 pm and you see that Diego is on Treehouse.

* Crock Pots, Dyson vaccuums and embroidery turn you on.



So, when did YOU know?


***

9.07.2008

May The Four Winds Blow You Safely Home

This year, on September 28, Jews around the world (even a non-religious, strictly cultural one like me) will mark Rosh Hashana and the beginning of 5769 (we’s an old people) with family and food, honey and hope.

I am marking New Year a little early this year.

September 12 is my new New Year: the anniversary of my father’s death.

One year. This fucking year. This fucking horrible, crazy, shitty, sad, ridiculous, amazing, joyous, wonderful year. My dad is gone, my second daughter is here, and I still have no idea what to make of it all.

I still cry every pretty much every time I think of my dad (so, a lot). Grief still takes it’s painful blows at me. I still want him here so badly I can barely stand upright sometimes. I still want to scream at people, ‘No! You don’t understand. A year has not been a long time. You don’t understand how cool my dad was, that the world is truly worse for losing him so soon; that a year has only begun to dull the shock of his absence.’

But, taking another cue from my Jewish heritage, I will mark the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death and stop wearing black. You're wearing grey, you’re remarking. I know. The black is in that ring around my heart, the one that’s been choking me for the last 12 months. I’m going to try to release it as best I can, or at least dress it in blue. No, burnt umber, which is the colour of the tattered shorts my dad used to wear. The one’s we always made fun of.

My sister and my niece just went back home to BC after being here for a two-week visit. It was fairly spontaneous, their visit, and I think we just needed to be together, the four of us siblings. As this anniversary approaches we needed to just be around the only people who understand what it means to lose our father.

Did I ever tell you that my dad was a sailor? He was in the Navy for four years, during Viet Nam, and his stories from that time are amazing. Funny, revealing, poignant – my dad had an arsenal of tales from that time, and the experience made him very uniquely who he was.
My younger sister has a nautical tattoo planned to honour him: a sepia-toned image of an antique navigational map. It will be a map of the area in the Pacific that he sailed. It will have a compass on it, and perhaps a word or two.

I think it will be a beautiful tattoo, and I can’t wait for her to get it.

I think it is a good idea to trade the grief I’ve been wearing for something a little less confining. Something that helps replace sadness with love and honour; something that reminds me of my dad but will make me smile instead of cry.

For sailors, swallows represented the approaching land and the end of a journey. Traditionally, sailors would tattoo one swallow for every 5,000 miles that they sailed. I don’t know exactly how many miles my dad actually sailed, but in four years it was probably quite a few.

I’m starting with two swallows, and I feel lighter already.



Happy New Year.



***

8.30.2008

This Space For Rant



When HBM put out the call for a bitchfest round-robin, I happily signed on. We all need to let it out, and sometimes our very own spaces are not the safest place to do so. (hi, remember my first blog, pulled down when I no longer felt I could write honestly there without being judged by someone close to me?) So, I offered my space for rant, to whomever felt she needed it.

Turns out, my tennant is a gem. Not only did she keep the kitchen clean and put the furniture back where it was before she left, but she kicked my sorry ass with her honesty, sensitivity and sagacity. Here I am, thinking I'll be posting a vent about somebody's m-i-l or boss, or why John McCain is an even bigger idiot than we first thought, and instead, I got a big ol' helping of perspective. And it tasted way less bitter than I expected it to.

Enjoy.



So the kids put a hole in the new LCD TV. Not a big one—a pin poke in a black cloth. Star in a dark sky. Very small. Nothing compared to the volcano that will erupt when my husband gets home to find that his one true love, the one over which he fawned for months, is whole no more. He will freak. And I will feel guilty. Not over the damaged television…over buying a television that costs more than the GNP of a small country.
We, I, want what’s best for our children--the things that will make and keep them happy--the things that we may not have had as children. These things I want for my family, plus happiness, love and freedom. But the things, the emotional things I want for them, are often shielded over by the fact that I want. Despite all my best efforts, I am a Capitalist at heart. I try to make myself believe I can live without the trappings of modern life. I yearn for the freedom I perceive would be achieved by living in the wilds of Alaska (not a deserted island…too much risk of spiders and other large bugs that thrive in humidity and heat). I raise chickens and for the moment feel like Mother Earth because of the poultry roaming my suburban backyard. But therein lies the rub: I live in suburbia. Complete with minivan, two kids, a black lab and a two-story Colonial. Suburbia has firmly ensconced itself in my being. And I am consumed with guilt.

So my rant is not focused on another person, but on me. On my failing to tear my spirit from the want of objects. And when those objects begin to fail, my husband and I feel like failures. The children damage the LCD TV and we’re heartbroken that we will forever see the minute flaw. My husband does a slow roll into another car and we’re devastated that our car is no longer perfect. The dog’s too long nails leave long grooves in the hardwood floors and we cringe every time we have to walk over them. These things control our lives and our emotions.
I am all the more consumed by the guilt of consumerism because the daughter of a good friend is dying of a tumor on her brainstem. The child is five, barely two months older than my son. They have played together, worshipped in Sunday school together, and she will most likely not live to the end of next year. I’m convinced her parents do not care one iota about the condition of their things. They are completely hyper-focused on the now, on the truly important things in life—those things that are not things.


I later found my husband, post damaged television announcement, in our bedroom holding his head in his hands repeating the mantra: “My kids are healthy, my kids are healthy,” putting the event in perspective. This is the man who puts his hands over his ears and hums whenever a bad story about a child comes on the news. He gets it. The television has not been mentioned since—the hole barely visible. The insurance company is handling the car accident and told us not to worry about—that’s why you have insurance. The grooves in the floor add character—the dog adores the children, putting up with ear tugs and tail yanks no other dog ever would. And I realize how to rid myself of the guilt…perspective. I would give all I own to ensure the health and safety of my family. I would live in a hovel, surrounded by the bugs and spiders I fear. So, tomorrow I will go out in the garden and hold a chicken. How can anything be wrong in the world when you can walk out your own back door and hold a chicken? And I will try harder at being a better person.

***

8.17.2008

Our Olympic Trials

So, it’s Sunday, and while I know it ain’t over ‘til the perfect Chinese child lip-synchs over top of the not-so-perfect Chinese child’s voice, I just want to interrupt the olympic games to say how proud I am of my country’s efforts.

Way to go, Canada. Seven medals now. Good on ya.

Seven is a nice number. Sure, it’s one medal shy of the total number of gold’s that one freakin’ American kid has managed to rack up on his own, but still, it’s respectable.

We’re doing better than Roumania, the country that my grandmother fled almost a century ago because of the horrific, oppressive, poverty-stricken circumstances that my people were living under. Roumania only has --- oh, shit, never mind. Two more just went up on the leader board. Ok, well, we’re still ahead of… um… Georgia. Ha! Looks like Georgia isn’t faring very well, at home or on Olympic soil.

Ok, at least we can remain ahead of the countries that are currently in the throes of a nasty siege.

Oh, and Kazak… no, wait... somewhere Borat is jumping up and down in his Speedo; looks like the Kazakhs have eclipsed us too.

Jesus Christ. Seriously. I know that the number of medals we stuff in our gym bags next week is not the point of the games – One World One Dream* and all that garbage – but C’MON!

(Oh, and btw – the missing comma in the Olympic motto – very distracting.)

Canada is a fully-developed nation (some in-fighting over which province is richer and who should pony up more oil for the US aside) of 30 million people.

We have managed to figure out how to get our people nationalized health care, a democratic voting system, a decent reputation on the global stand and some pretty good beer.

Why is success at the summer games eclipsing us?

I don’t expect our basketball team (do we even have one?) to beat the US dream team. I don’t expect our divers to beat the Chinese divers, and I didn’t expect any swimmer going up against Michael Phelps to make it to the top of the podium either.

But you know? We did have some hope coming into the games, didn’t we?

Of course we did, or we wouldn’t have sent 332 people halfway around the world to give it a shot.

I really don’t want to minimize the efforts of our athletes. We have had some really heartening stories, some really heartbreaking stories and ok, a few disheartening stories (cough*Perdita*cough). Apparently, we’re even breaking our own records all over the place.

So, like, as long as our records keep getting broken, but no other country’s do, we should be ok in 2012, right?

Come on, Canada. $140 million budgeted for the Olympics, and only $27 million is for training programs.

If you want to know my honest, Socialist opinion, I think the money might be better spent at home, than in sending under-performing amateur athletes to a country that had WAY better things to spend their own Olympic budget on.

Anyway, the games will be over soon, and I’m sure many (men) out there will be jonesing for their nightly dose of (ridiculous) beach volleyball bunnies, shorts traveling up their butts and all.

Me? I’ll be wondering where the hell the coverage of the good stuff was, why China spent months training middle-aged women to cheer correctly as they were paid to fill the seats of the women’s soccer games, and offer thanks once again that these games didn't fall into the lap of my hometown (Phew. Thanks for fucking that one up, Mel, truly.)

I’ll be waiting for the winter Olympics, where at least we have hockey women’s hockey to assure us a gold.


*Fucking hell, China, tell that to the Tibetans.

***

8.13.2008

Two Reasons I Haven't Been Posting Much This Summer




I just can't tear myself away from them.

However, if you miss me (even just a little), I'm talking about pancakes and what a fucking brat I used to be over at Eat Me.

***

8.10.2008

I Didn't See That In The Flyer

(please click on image to see the workings of a man whose wife kinda hopes he gets another job soon so he'll leave her the hell alone.)

7.30.2008

We Are Four

A couple of weeks ago, I had a very vivid, very realistic dream that I had a baby boy, and his name was Griffin.
(Or maybe Gryphon. Or Griffen.)

A few days later, I had the exact same dream. I told Chris about it. He didn’t say much, except that he didn’t really love the name. (I do.)

Two days after the second dream, we were at the park. Chris was splashing around in the wading pool with Bee, when he overheard a conversation between a couple of the parents standing around. He walked over to where I was sitting in the shade with Dove, and said, ‘You’ll never guess what I just heard.’

‘What was it?’ I asked.

‘That man was talking to that woman, and they just discovered that their kids have the same name. Griffin.’

My mouth fell open. I don’t feel like life sends me all that many signs, but I was sure the universe had just dropped one in my lap. A big one. Maybe two.

We took heed.

Chris went for a consultation for a vasectomy this week.

Do we want more children? I do. I know I do. I would have another one now. I would. I love being pregnant, I adore my midwife, I desperately love newborns, and I even really love giving birth. I would do it again in a second, even risking the chance of another c-section – the experience of which I now cherish as much as my homebirth experience.

But that’s not really the point. I will always be fighting biology and emotion over this one, but in the end I will make sure that practicality and reality win. But they will duke it out if I let them. Both Chris and I are one of four siblings, so we also have history and experience to rally against. But we’re going to.

I want to give my girls everything that they need, be it emotional, fiscal, imagined or otherwise. I do not want to struggle to give them my time, my patience, a comfortable home or an education. These were struggles that my parents had, and they weighed heavily on me all my life.

Plus, I grew up in the days before mini-vans, so I always got squished in the front-middle seat of the family sedan.

I do not want my children to have to feel as though they are being squished in to fit where really, there wasn’t much room in the first place.

Oh, and did I mention that both mine and Chris’ mother is a twin? Double Griffins indeed. No effing way.

And so, we decided, before we even had our first, that our second would be our last, if the situation were one we could control. And it seems it is.

I know the material things are the least important, but they must be considered. I don’t want to grow out of our little 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom house. (Ok, I would like another bathroom. The little ones will be teenaged girls one day after all.) Vacations are way easier to take as a family of four. I don’t ever want to drive a minivan. (Fine. I kinda do. Don’t tell.)

We have been so lucky – SO very lucky. Our girls are healthy and beautiful. (knock wood, spit into the wind, evoke whatever talisman needed to not tempt fate) My pregnancies took little permanent toll on me, and as I said, even the c-section was no big deal. Should I roll the dice again?

I think we can provide for them; know that we have done all that we can to help ensure their future successes, whatever they choose them to be.

I am afraid that another child would compromise the promises I’ve made to my girls, in my head and in my heart, that they will always be cared for, always be our priority, always be protected.

Trust me, I’ll think about the third child that I am not going to have, and I’ll think of him often. But I won’t be sad, and I know that down the line we won’t change our minds about our decision. In the end, we are four. And four feels good.

***

And Over at Eat Me...

I'm waxing nostalgic about my pre-baby pretentious childless hipster days, hangover cures, yummy food, and offering a picture of my cute pink melamine plates HERE.

Now git.

7.26.2008

How She Move

Right now, it’s kind of a forward-seated propellation, unless she flips onto her tummy, in which case it's a backwards worm crawl ‘til she bumps into something.

Either way, I am woefully unprepared for 8-month old Dove’s impending mobility.

I was also woefully unprepared for Dove’s foray into food that did not come from my boobage, as well as her foray into clothes that her sister did not fit until she was 18 months, and her foray into the joys of eating carpet fluff and anything else she can get her pudgy little hands on.

However, all of those things are easily remedied – a quick batch of sweet potato puree; a dig into the bins of clothes that it seems I just took out of Bee’s drawers; a deft swish of a finger to clear Dove’s mouth of delicious lint. Dealing with each of those rites of babyhood passage come back swiftly from the annals of motherhood memory when I needed them too, and carry a pretty short (re)learning curve anyway.

But crawling? What the hell am I supposed to do about that one again?

Not only am I feeling daunted by the reality of no longer turning around and seeing my child sitting where I just put her, but this means I have to babyproof the house again, doesn’t it? And (worse), keep it pretty dang clean. Cleaner than I’d like to put in the time for. I mean, at 3, Bee is definitely more likely to make a mess on the floor than to eat one, so I don’t worry much about her, but you know, nothing says good parenting like finding your 8-month old sitting in the corner eating cat hair.

And babyproofing? With Bee, we put in little more babyproofing effort than a gate at the stairs and outlet covers. When the ratio was always at least one parent:one baby, there was little chance of Bee making a move without being under a watchful eye and ready hand, and besides, she was never very interested in opening contraband-concealing cupboards or climbing up bookcases.

Dove, however, is a different story. Not only am I absolutely sure that she will be more of a monkey than her older sister was (only partially because her M.O. is clearly to keep up with her older sister), but the ratio of parent:child is now slightly more skewed in favour of the children (recent husband lay-offs notwithstanding), and I can barely keep track of where my coffee is, let alone what the kids are doing.

So, this weekend we had better put up the gates, take down the tchochkes, and sweep the floor – there’s no stopping her now, and as we make accommodations for a baby on the go, I guess I had also ready my heart for the pace at which Dove is leaving infancy behind.

***

7.23.2008

Have You Seen My Cherry?

So, while every other woman blogger in the free freakin blogosphere was attending one blogger 0rgy or another this past weekend, I was licking my wounds at my in-laws and preparing myself for another year of in-jokes I won’t get.

I can have fun! I thought, so I joined a Rock Band with my sister-in-law and mastered my rock n’ roll domain.

I can relax! I thought, so I hightailed it to the pool, where I floated on floaties, got whacked in the head with noodles, let Dove experience her first pool pee and refused to wear a proper bathing suit because, y’know, flab.

*Sorry, the photo had to go. didn't realize it was SOOOOOOO bad! I should not just browse thumbnails when choosing shots.*


I can learn technical stuff! I thought, so I took it upon myself to wade through roughly 27 remote controls in the little remote control caddy and figured out how to turn the g-d tv from aerial to satellite.

I can try new things! I thought, so we headed to the nearby Cherry Festival (hooray for farm country!), and I entered this:


Uh huh. That’s right. This is me, the Southern Ontario Cherry Pit Spittin’ Queen of the Cherry Festival:



And here’s my pit spit:



Dudes, I spit that pit 9 meters! 9 meters! For my American friends, that’s almost 30 feet! 30 feet!



That’s the length of a friggen stegosaurus! That’s as tall as a billboard! That’s as wide as… something 30 feet wide! Friends, that is far.

Ok, so, fine – I didn’t actually spit the pit far enough to make it to the championship round, but I was only 1/2 a meter off the leader. (Let’s not split hairs.)

The point is, I can be proud of my accomplishments this weekend, even if I didn’t get oogled at, farted on, boob knocked, or even recognized.

Sigh.

I’ll just keep telling myself that ‘til next year.

***

I also ate lots of fine food last weekend. Read about all the work I didn’t do here, while Bee chillaxes on the patio.

7.16.2008

Well, There Go The Plans for That 24k Gold Room We Were Hoping For

Once upon a time, there was a Fairly Hip Toronto TV Broadcaster that gave Kick-ass Editor a job.

One day, seven years later, Fairly Hip Toronto TV Broadcaster's daddy died, and his kids put the company up for sale.

Large, Pretty Conservative National TV Broadcaster saw that there was an opportunity to become The Only Game In Town, or at least, The Biggest Game In Town, and bought Fairly Hip Toronto TV Broadcaster.

The Biggest Game In Town sold off a good portion of the original Fairly Hip Toronto TV Broadcaster's stations, because it didn't need them any more, and lots of people lost their job.

Kick-ass Editor had to say goodbye to many friends, but was able to sigh a sigh of relief, because his wife was about to have a baby and go on mat leave, and he had not been given a golden handshake.

Seven months later, he got his hand shook.

Anybody looking to hire a Kick-ass Editor?

***

It's Wednesday!



Five years ago, if anyone had asked me what my five favourite things were in my hip little Queen West kitchen, I’m pretty sure the list would have looked like this:

1. The drawer full of take-out menus
2. My Bodum
3. The Mr. Peanut commemorative blue glass jar
4. The two retro baker’s racks
5. The half-q of weed in the freezer

Fast-forward to today, when the take-out menus get a lot less milage, the Bodum has given way to full-size coffee maker that must be buzzing by 8 am, the Mr. Peanut jar shattered in an unfortunate moving accident (grrr), the baker’s racks are stacked with kids’ toys in the basement and the greenest thing in my freezer is a bag of broccoli. Which doesn’t roll very well.

(eat more)


***

7.13.2008

Squidnuts

It’s not fair, she said.

I know.

It’s been almost a year, she said.

I know.

People think it should be better by now. It’s not. It’s not better. It’s not easier, she said.

I know.

The only thing that’s changed is that the shock has worn off, and now I have to face the realization that this is the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life, she said.

I know.

I miss him, she said.

I know.

I miss him so much, she said.

I know.

There are so, so many people that hate their fathers, that say that they can’t stand their fathers and don’t want anything really to do with them, she said.

I know.

We had such a good father, she said.

I know. I know.

I’m only 22, she said.

I know, love. I know.

I want him back, she said.

I know.

Some days I’m not sure I can get up, she said.

I know.

Some days I just want to lay in bed and cry all day, she said.

I know.

Some days I just don’t know what to do, she said.

Call me, I said.

Ok. I’ll call you next time. I’ll call you and we can just have a codeword so you know that it’s that kind of a day and I just need to talk about it. So what should our codeword be, she said.

Squidnuts, I said.

She laughed, and my heart broke into a million pieces.

***

7.10.2008

Throw Down at the Drop-In

Some people break for it. This is how I heard two mommies battle it out today:

See you later, alligator!

In a while, crocodile!

See you soon, baboon!

At your house, little mouse!

In the shade, lemonade!

At the zoo, kangaroo!

Guttentag-y, little doggie!

My kid’s cuter, stupid cow!


(Ok, I added that last part. But I could see she was thinking it.)


***

7.09.2008

Ketchup Stew and Other Tastes of Childhood

When you think of your childhood, what are you eating?

For me, the food of childhood is the food of a frugal, frustrated mother trying to keep her husband and four picky children happy on a tight budget. Things like spaghetti and meat sauce; sausage and peppers; chicken soup with matzo balls; various cheap cuts of meat sprinkled with garlic salt and paprika and stuck under the broiler – that is the stuff that stuffed me as a kid. There were also plenty of signature dishes of differing levels of appeal making their way out of our mother’s kitchen; dishes that my sister and I gave names like ‘Ketchup Stew’ and ‘Monsterloaf.’

(read more)

7.07.2008

Tell Me Something Good

This little corner of the blogosphere is one that I cherish. It has lifted, inspired, guided, championed, supported and tickled this mama more times than I can count. I don’t have to go on extolling the virtues of the mamablogging community, because you’re here too; you already know.

But…

(And you knew this was coming)

But…

There are days when I honestly think that I am the only person out here that actually likes having kids.

I know, I know. It’s not true.

We all write so much about our pride in, and our love for our families. As I’ve said before, and I believe it, our blogs are love letters to our children. And we are a talented bunch, crafting our letters so beautifully; words truly to be cherished.

We also write to unload, to vent, to bitch and to reach out for sympathy when we need to. Of course we do. This part is more about survival than creativity, but it’s still important.

I guess tho, there are days when the scales seem to be tipped, or maybe the moon is full or the tide is out, or maybe the days are too hot or too long, or maybe all sorts of coffee makers went on the fritz simultaneously this morning, or maybe forest fairies forgot to place their magic pebbles on their toadstools and so everything has gone to shit. Dunno. All I know is that there are days when my bloglines give me nothing but misery and fear and complaining, and it just. Gets. Me. Down.

Like I said, we all have our moments, and though I really do try to focus on the good here, I know I’m not to be completely excluded. But we do like to go on, don’t we? We do like to flog those dead horses, Tired, Scared and Suffocated, don’t we? Is that really how we want to define our experiences as mothers?

Anyway, look, now I’m complaining.

So, I’m going to leave you with a cute anecdote, and a plea: Tell me something good. I know it’s there.


***

Bee, at three, is much too clever. As I struggle to find a creative, inspiring, empowering way to guide and discipline her, she has found an airtight defense to any of her ahem, less desirable actions. An example:

Bee takes a toy out of her sister’s hand, and throws it just out of Dove’s reach. Dove cries. I ask her not to do that again. Bee does it again. When I go to her to try to remedy the issue, explaining why she shouldn’t do it, she looks at me squarely in the eye and smiles an angelic smile.

“I was just joking, Mom.”

Yeah, I’m fucked.

***

7.02.2008

Surely These Were Born In The Depths Of Hell And Released Only To Torture Me For Unseen Wrongoings

Pretty dramatic title for a post on our little mini-break up North, huh?

Well, it fits. Like a glove. But before I get to the little fuckers that tried to do me in these last 5 days (no, not my kids), let me begin by saying that we really had a great time. There was a tiny bit too much rain, and not enough beer, but the company was good, the water was warm, and I slept in until 9:30 EVERY morning! Yay!

Chris’ grandparents are truly adorable, and I love being in their home. They live full-time in the cottage that has been in the family since 1933, and though it has gone through many changes, it has all of the most charming qualities of an old cottage (that musty smell; mis-matched cutlery; a crazy layout thanks to countless add-ons), as well as all of the most charming qualities of an old people’s house (that musty smell; doilies; salad dressing in the fridge that expired in ’00).

Bee absolutely loves it there; partly because her great-grandparents cater to her every whim, and partly because she spends her time like this:



And this:


And this:


And when the kids were finally spending their time like this:


We would spend our time doing cottage-y evening things like reading, or doing this:




Lovely. Sigh.

But – and you knew this was coming – But..
We also happened to be there during four of the ten days that Satan unleashes his most disgusting of beasts onto the area of Northern Ontario that we were in. True, they do not bite, sting, pinch or nip. Don’t matter, because I freak out when they come near, and man, they are hard to avoid. So, yeah, I was a bit of a spazz.

Behold! Satan's evil henchmen!



Fucking shadflies! Oh, you don’t think that’s too bad, do you? Hrm? What about now?


WHAT ABOUT NOW?



Gah! It was a wonder I went outside at all. But I did. I even frolicked a little:



Seriously, there were lamposts that looked like they were covered in fur. Bleh. I get the heebiejeebies just thinking about it.

Anyway, eventually we had to go, and though we were sad to do it, we know we will be back up there soon. Who knows what to expect next time - locusts?

On the way home we even took the time to add to a wonderful Canadian tradition, and mark our trip with an Inukshuk left on a ledge of the Canadian shield:



Hope your long weekend was as nice as ours was, but with less of Satan's beasts. Happy Canada Day!

Oh, and hey, if you want to find out how we survive a total of 10 hours in the car with two tiny people, check out the story here.


***

6.27.2008

Take Off, Eh?

...See you in a few days; we're heading to the great white North where there are lots of bears, but no DSL.

Have a happy, safe, inclusive Pride, and my peeps - Happy Canada Day, eh?

I'll be thinking about you as I dip my feet into frigid water and take a big swig of some good Canadian micro-brew.


***

6.23.2008

You Want I Should Recommend a Good Book?

When good friend and book maven, Metro Mama, asked me to review an advance copy of Petite Anglaise, blogger Catherine Sanderson’s debut manuscript, I was thrilled. She must have known that I would never finish the reading ‘on time,’ but you know what? I read this book faster than any I’ve started, discarded or finished since getting pregnant with Dove. And that is saying something.

I must confess, I was not a follower of the blog Petite Anglaise, though I had heard of it before the book landed in my mailbox. That seemed to make very little difference to my enjoyment of the book, and in fact, may have even been a good thing, as I was not able to (fairly or unfairly) compare the book to the blog; the author to the blogger.

Dubbed, A True Story, Petite Anglaise does not read like the other blog-to-books I’ve read. It did not have the ‘behind the scenes’ bent of Julie & Julia, where I felt like I was getting a glimpse of the grittier, goofier, got-left-on-the-cutting-room-floor outtake blog posts, nor was it practically omitted to enhance the documentary-style feel of The 100-Mile Diet, where the book complimented and expanded upon the very specific purpose of the blog of same.

The blog in Petite Anglaise (the book) takes a kind of secondary role; it’s there, but it serves as a catalyst for action, as well as a quirk or idiosyncrasy that gives the protagonist more dimension. The blog within the story is kind of like a Magic 8 Ball – she puts something out there, shakes it around and gets some direction in return. The story is about Catherine/Petite following those directions, and the journey that they lead her on.

Petite Anglaise, honestly, felt more like fiction – almost like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, or even like Bridget Jones’ Diary. It felt, in fact, like chick-lit – good chick-lit; great chick-lit – but not really like a memoir. Based on a blog. And I dug that.

I actually think that my BFF got more out of the book than I did; she turned the last page with a better understanding of why we would want to blog in the first place; why we would want to share private thoughts with the (cyber)universe, and how we make lasting friendships through something as impersonal and vague as the internet.

She also fell in love with Paris, which played my favourite character. Sanderson describes Paris with the love/hate relationship of any ex-pat with their adopted home, and we both relished every sentence of it. From the lush brushstrokes of a walk through the park in the rain, to the charm stippling of a corner fruit stand, Sanderson did a lovely, honest job of painting Paris as a vibrant, enchanting city, even if I could have done without the dog poop and second-hand smoke.

All in all, Petite Anglaise is well-written, in an engaging, original style that will no doubt soon be saddled with a clever moniker made up by some pundit in the publishing industry. Blogography? Blogoir? Regardless, Catherine Sanderson’s debut will surely be seen as a pioneer in whatever category it turns into, and the readers will be all the better for it.


***

6.20.2008

Make Mine a Double

…Root canal, that is. Yup, good times. One minute my (not really) pearly whites are doing what they’re supposed to, chewing and flashing charming grins and such, and the next, well, one of them is shooting a spear of pain up it’s nerve ending and into my eye socket, where it explodes into a million little nodules of hurt.

Twelve hours later I am in the dentist’s chair, chock full of lydacane but minus two roots from the fourth molar from the back. I guess it wasn’t so bad.

What hurt plenty more was the realization that I am falling apart, and the twin realization that this is because I am getting old.

I don’t really mind the getting old part too much. Much more clever people have said much more clever things than I ever could about ageing, and anyway, the only thing that I ever remember (the memory is the first to go) is the thing that I think is most important: Getting old: It’s better than the alternative.

What I’m not crazy about though, is the falling apart part. Now, I’m 33 – certainly not quite old enough to be bitching about being old, but old enough to know that it ain’t gonna get any easier. Or prettier. Take the root canal. A standard procedure; many people have it done much younger, and more times over than me. But I didn’t even have my first cavity until I was 25, and now, four cavities, the necessary removal of all of my wisdom teeth, a really pretty yellowish hue and two root canals later, it’s like my teeth have simply given up on me.

My knees, hips and back must have been jealous of the work stoppage, because they too have seriously slowed down on me, and are as likely to twitch, twinge, stab and outright strike as they are to keep me upright and moving.

There is much irony to growing older. For instance, my hands, arms and legs fall asleep easily, but I can lay awake for hours trying to catch some zzz’s. It takes a lot more work (and money) to keep my hair lustrous, shiny and flowing, yet hairs on my chin, toes and moles pop up so nicely with no help whatsoever. Gross, I know, but that’s how it goes. You’re lying if you say you’ve never plucked a stray from somewhere that hair just should not grow.

But hairs are not the only things sprouting on my body; skin tags under my eyes arrived during both of my pregnancies, and moles and spots pop up all the time. I am constantly on the lookout for bumps and lumps of disconcerting origin, because, as my mother so bluntly attributes to the women of my family, ‘We grow things.’ Goody! Should I just put a dermatologist on retainer now?

Speaking of growing, I seem to be able to grow and birth beautiful, healthy babies, and for that I am entirely, truly grateful, but I’d also be grateful if I could lose the extra flab that pregnancies so generously left behind. I can’t help but think that if I were, say, ten years younger (or a celebrity), I’d already be back to the weight I was before even my first pregnancy.

It also doesn’t help that I am married to a younger man. Now, don’t laugh, but 10 months seems to make all the difference between coming apart at the seams, and holding up just fine, thank you. Besides a teeny, tiny bit of thinning up top and expansion down below, my boy toy is in great shape. Well, almost great shape. The other night, after I turned to look at something and a white-hot dagger shot through my neck and shoulder because, you know, turning to look at something is such treacherous work, Chris sighed and shook his head.

‘Oh, honey,’ he said, somewhat pitifully. ‘What?’ I asked, ‘Don’t you ever have any pain?’ He looked at me sympathetically and nodded slowly. ‘Oh, definitely,’ he commiserated, ‘I do. A big one. It’s a pain in my ass.’

I wanted to throttle him, but I dared not attempt it, as my pre-arthritic fingers had been giving me some trouble. I’d sigh, but deep breaths can be tough work. Did I mention I’m asthmatic?



***

6.18.2008

A Comment On Comments

No, this is not one of those, ‘We all love and really need comments to keep us going because, you know, this blog is really for you, so share the love and say hi’ kinds of post. I swear, it’s not. ( Although, I wouldn’t mind if you said hi.)
No. This post is about my comments. To you. Or lack thereof.

See, one of the biggest obstacles of navigating the care and feeding of two small children is finding time to blog. The sacrifices we make. Anyway, the point is, I rarely write, read or even think about blogs by myself. The hours I have to blog are fleeting, so I must find a moment here and there while I can. Like, while SuperWhy is on and Bee will not move from the TV, no matter what the distraction, or while the laundry is, erm, breathing, before it’s folded. You didn’t know laundry had to breathe, did you? Think of all the precious blogging hours you’ve been wasting.

Anyhoo, as I was saying, I rarely do anything with both of my hands these days, because one of them is pretty much always holding a child or something that a child needs. Blogging is obviously not exempt from my single-handedness, though it is still a great deal easier to blog holding a child than it is to, say, pee, or make a sandwich. Though I can all three. Not at once; ew. Funny then, I can barely do any of those things without having a cup of coffee first.

I digress. (I can do that one-handed, too.)The point is, I just want you to know that I’m there; that I care, and that I am leaving whatever length/strength/cohesiveness of comment that I possibly can at the moment. I promise. But just in case you are wondering what I am babbling about when I leave my cyber-version of chicken-scratch over at your place, here’s a guide:

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case, but of decent length and pertains to the actual post:

Baby is in my arms, but she is contentedly playing with a toy. Probably the digital camera or something equally inappropriate, as I am blogging, not paying attention.

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case, but of decent length, though may seem non-sequitarious in nature:

Baby is in my arms and has dropped item she was formerly playing with, so I’ve picked it up, losing my train of thought. Baby drops item again, and scenario repeats itself. Repeatedly.

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case and has nothing really to do with the post:

In all honesty, I never finished reading the post. I probably read the first and last sentence of every paragraph, but the baby is fussy. However, I feel I have made enough of an investment in the post to let you know I was here, and I care.

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case and consists of about two words, probably a noun and an adjective or verb – maybe, you rock! Or she’s adorable!:

I never finished reading the post, the baby is fussing even more and I relied on the other comments to tell the story and/or guide me in leaving a comment of my own, because I still care.

Kgirl’s comment has symbols where letters should be, letters where punctuation should be and then drifts off into something like, 90wer[jf; o9u3:

The baby has become so fussy from dropping her contraband that I have stood up and am jiggling her, making room for the cat to jump up on the chair, than the desk, and walk all over the keyboard.

Kgirl has not left a comment:

I am now nursing the baby standing up and jiggling her, while trying to get the cat off the desk with my foot and calling down to Bee to please answer the phone because I know it is her father calling, and since I have just blogged through my dinner prep time and the baby is fussy, I need him to bring home sushi for dinner.

So there you go. Be sure that, in return, your comments – or lack thereof – are always appreciated and read with love and an understanding that you probably have a comment ‘code’ of your very own. Anyway, better go; this post has become of decent length, though may seem non-sequitarious in nature, and you know what that means.

***

6.16.2008

Father

Honestly, I’m clearing my bloglines. I can’t click through the myriad of bolded posts calling to me, fearing that any or all of them will be the expected Father’s Day posts.

I didn’t write one this year, even though, like most of the posts that you likely wrote, I could easily fill a page with wonderful words about my husband. I could easily find the words to pay tribute to a wonderful man that became a wonderful husband and a wonderful father. I could tell you that even when we’re fighting, I still think he’s hot; that even when I’m at my worst, he finds a way to be his best. But I couldn’t.

Because for me, yesterday was not about my children’s father. It was about mine.

About this first, painful father’s day without him, a mere two days after the first time in my life that I did not mark June 13 by celebrating my father’s birthday. My dad did not turn 66 on Friday. I did not see the announcement of his birthday on my calendar, marked in red and given the ultimate kgirl tribute of an exclamation mark. I could not bear to mark the day this year; to look at it on it’s proper square all month but know that it would never arrive. I did not call him and sing to him, and then hear him make the requisite joke that if I really cared about him having a good day, I wouldn’t have sang.

And yesterday, Father’s Day, I once again did not call him. I did not buy him the latest Bruce Springsteen or Dixie Chicks album, or the Alison Krause/Robert Plant CD that I know he would have loved. I did not send him the most recent, adorable pictures of his growing, adorable granddaughters. Bee did not get on the phone and squeak her love to her ‘Big Guy.’

I’m sorry, Chris, that the shadow of my father cast a cloud on a day that I could have spent celebrating you. But goddamn, that shadow still knows how to wrap itself around my chest and squeeze until the breath is almost out of me. And this weekend, well, I was having trouble breathing.

***