Friday, December 31, 2010

Pushed to the Edge

Just when I thought my stress levels would start evening out a bit after the holidays - guess what? Surprise, surprise - they haven't. If anything I may have hit a new high on the old stress scale. What with our current kitchen reno situation and - gasp! not having a dishwasher for like 3 weeks now - things (my patience, namely) have been quickly falling to the wayside.

We've been holed up in our (yikes! unfinished) basement until the renos are complete, speaking of which, seem to be taking waaay longer than anticipated. But I did anticipate this, actually. These projects always take twice as long as you originally plan. Especially when your husband insists on doing all the work himself.

I'm trying hard to keep my mouth shut until things go really wrong. Should it come down to it -  I have Mike Holmes on speed dial, but for now, I'm zipping it. Hubs has been getting enough hassle from my mother-in-law, who insists on telling him her dreams of beams falling down and killing him instantly. At least I'm not that neurotic.

Also, being off on "vacation" this week with a very bossy, constantly-needing-to-be-entertained 4.5 year old, hasn't helped matters. Its bad enough I feel as if I've been abducted and forced to live in someone's creepy basement (without having "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" playing repeatedly on a dusty old tube television and a kid yelling "Draw a skeleton, mouse, snail, insert random animal or object here picture, Mommy!").

After a few days of this, I've lost whatever reason I may have started out with. Like yesterday for example. In a desperate attempt to flee from the hammering, drilling & welding sparks seen flying from my home, I grabbed Ciaran and dragged him to the nearest mall, which happens to be the size of an entire city block. Not exactly clear thinking on my part. True, it wasn't boxing day, but in these parts "boxing week" gives half the city the idea to mill about aimlessly, looking for so-called bargains.

Normally, I wouldn't have braved that crowd, but my dear, delusional hubby, obviously blinded by his love for me, purchased a beautiful sweater gift for a size 4!! I am definitely not a size 4 - to be honest, I don't think I ever have been.

To make a long story short, we didn't return the sweater. There was a huge lineup and I don't do well with lineups - especially with a kid in tow. But we did end up taking this beauty home:

Ciaran enjoying his latest toy catch!
There was no logical reason for me to buy this for my son. He'd just gotten a sh!tload of toys for Christmas only days before. Strangers walking by the lineup to pay were looking at me like I'd lost my mind. The thing is bigger than he is.

I suppose I had gone a little insane - at least temporarily. I was tired and sweaty and I really needed the whining to stop. Also, I felt guilty because earlier that day he wouldn't get in his car seat and I said something to the effect that if he didn't I'd beat his ass. Oh, I didn't mean it. I never even usually talk like that, but I had that anxious, over-whelmed feeling I get when I'm being pushed to my limit.

A woman getting out of her car next to us gave me a really dirty look after hearing me. But she had the privilege of going shopping with her male friend without any kids tagging along. I'm sure I've given that same look to frazzled mothers back in my know-it-all pre-child days. So I didn't take it all that personally. One day she'll understand. And maybe even end up lugging a giant fish pillow home with her.

Anyway, Ciaran thinks it's pretty cool that I bought him a giant catfish at the mall. And I decided I'm not going to live my life with regrets anymore. Besides, it kind of goes with the psycho / abductor decor we have going on right now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Must be Santa

I just realized that every one of my posts since the beginning of November have been about Christmas in some form or another (yes, all 3 of them - what can I say - it's a nutso time of the year). And... this post will be no different. It seems the whole world revolves around December 25 - even more so when you have kids.

But you know what? I love it. Yes, it's stressful and nerve-wracking and can cause mental anguish (when you can't find that one gift your kid really, really wants) and physical pain (like the blisters on my feet from walking up and down concrete mall floors in search of a gift that will have to suffice).

But like the line from that crappy Bryan Adams song , there is something about Christmas time that makes me wish it was Christmas every day. No offense to the Bryan Adams fans, I've just heard that song one time too many, lately.

Now, I'm not one of those insane over-the-top Christmas people who put up trees two months in advance and decorates every room in their house - no, I don't take it that far. But I do adore the scent of a real pine tree and insist on dragging one home every year while my hubby complains about the sticky sap all over the car and the needles we'll find well into the coming summer months.

I love drinking eggnog lattes, and getting bundled up for evening walks to stroll the neighborhood and see the lights against the crisp, white snow. I force let my son watch all my favorite childhood holiday movies and get just a tad carried away when the Heat and Snow Miser sing their awesome odes to the winter and summer, respectively.

And in my quest to make things all magical for my son at this time of year, we've unintentionally begun another Christmas tradition: The annual Santa photo. And not just any Santa photo. This ain't your typical fake-y cotton-bearded mall Santa, ya'll. If he doesn't look like the real deal, then I don't know who does. The best part is we've been lucky enough to track him down every year since Ciaran was a baby.

My little baby Santa's clearly unimpressed, here at 9mos.

Year 2 (sporting a rather bowl-like haircut, for some reason - shame on me!)

I know, not a Santa photo, but just look at that smile!

Santa, Ciaran and the ubiquitous pig
I skipped a couple of years in between so as not to bore you with pictures of my kid (well, that's not actually true - I just don't have digital versions of them). But isn't it cool that we have a picture of Ciaran with this  I mean the real Santa every year?

The only downside is that whenever another Santa makes an appearance, like at the JK Christmas concert, Ciaran has taken to shouting out indignantly "That's not Santa, Mom! He's not the real Santa." Which doesn't make him very popular with the JK crowd, let me tell you. Apparently, I've turned my son into a Santa snob. Great, yet another thing to add to my never-ending mommy-guilt.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Losing what's left of the marbles

It's official.

I've finally gone off the deep end.

Why, you ask?

For doing this:

Goodbye, ugly beige kitchen

And this:

So long puke-y parquet floor
As well as this:
Buh bye diving wall

In the midst of this:

Getting into "Reindeer mode" for the JK Christmas concert

And this:

Still in character
And let's not forget this:

Family Gingerbread-house-making night.

Not to mention all the other million-and-one-things that go on at this time of year.

If, for some reason I'm not 100% certifiable right now, I surely will be by the end of the holidays.

Friday, December 10, 2010

An open letter to Tim Burton

Dear Tim Burton,

While I'm sure you get your share of fan mail and I do love every film you've ever made (well, other than Batman - nothing personal, I'm just not into the whole superhero thing), this is not just any old fan letter.

Yes, it's true that Edward Scissorhands is possibly my favorite movie ever. That scene at the end, where Kim is telling the story to her grandchild? Makes me sob like a baby every time.

I get teary-eyed just looking at this

You might also like to know that my husband and I loved The Nightmare Before Christmas so much we considered decorating our son's nursery Jack and Sally style. But friends and family intervened - they didn't think little skeletons decorating the walls would be appropriate for a newborn. However, knowing what I do now, I beg to differ.

I know that you've recently visited Toronto, so you're aware of our dipping temperatures, overplayed holiday music, frantic shoppers and children making their yearly wish lists (not exclusive to Toronto, of course). But it brings me to the point of my letter. I need your help with something - something I'm convinced only YOU can pull off.

It's not as if I haven't tried everything I could think of. For weeks I've been combing the web, to no avail. In desperation, I even appealed to a certain jolly man with a white beard and red suit, but alas, he is not as magical as he would have me believe. There are some requests even he can't deliver on and well...that's where you come in.

You see, my little boy is completely obsessed with a creation of yours from a certain movie called Beetle Juice. Not only the title character, but everyone in it, and in particular, The House, aka Adam & Barbara's House. He knows every nook and cranny of that house, can tell you about every window, door, step and hallway, you name it, he's memorized it.

A typical evening at home

I know it's unusual, and trust me, I don't encourage it. But if I don't let him watch his favorite scenes repeatedly, there's hell to pay. Have you ever dealt with an tantrum-throwing Junior Kindergarten-er, Tim? Let's just say it makes Beetle Juice himself look like a freaking saint.

In my darling son's frenzy to re-create the Beetle Juice house, he's torn apart my home, using furniture, cushions, Tupperware - anything he can get his busy little hands on to build it. Being the artist you are, I'm sure you can appreciate his creativity.

His latest rendition

However, my dilemma is this: The only thing this child wants for Christmas is the Beetle Juice house. Yes, it's my dumb luck that his little heart is set on a toy from a movie going on 23 years ago, which to my knowledge (and I have done my homework) has never existed. Oh, I've found Adam and Barbara Maitland action figures and tons of Beetle Juice dolls, but not one house was ever constructed.

Well, except this one:

My husband's solution to all of this is to order the above. And, although he means well hubby's obviously lost his mind. This $75USD ceramic work of art just will not do. Mostly BECAUSE IT'S CERAMIC. Read: Highly breakable. Not ideal material for a 4.5 year old boy's Christmas gift.

So, what do you say, Timmy - can you help a Mama out? Call in one of your... I don't know, production people or something and have them whip up a toy Beetle Juice house? I mean, it can't be that difficult. If you can make Johnny Deep look ugly, then anything's possible, right?

One last thing - I realize you probably aren't in the habit of perusing "Mom Blogs", but who knows? Maybe on that off chance you're searching for the next #BurtonStory... also, if anyone else has any suggestions - tell me, please!

Yours truly,

Ciaran's mom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Guess I better get used to these...

I'd heard about this phenomenon from other friends out there in the blogosphere, (hi, Mayor of Crazy Town), but so far it has managed to elude me, that is up until today.

An unassuming little girl placed it in my hands as I dropped my son off at school. I thanked her, thinking, "How lovely, an early Christmas card from Ciaran's classmate." I slid it into my purse and off I went without giving it a second thought. How naive of me.

Stopped at a red light while singing along to the 24/7 Christmas music station (yes, I shall tire of it mid-way through December), I grabbed and opened the envelope and - OhDearGod!!

I shuddered and stifled a scream. The driver next to me looked over curiously. With shaking hands I held "it" up for him to see. He shook his head sadly and shrugged his shoulders in a "Happens to the best of us" gesture.

What, you ask was in the envelope? *This:

*Not actual invitation, but you get the idea
But then something else dawned on me as I read the details of the child's party. There were drop off and pick up times noted. That means I don't have to stay, right? So, I'd actually get a couple of hours to myself on a Saturday afternoon? Hmm, maybe these kid birthday parties aren't such a bad deal after all!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I know where Santa hangs out & it's not in the 'burbs...

Despite feeling slightly on the Grinchy side lately, a little Christmas spirit has started seeping it's way into this overwhelmed and on-the-verge-of-exploding-yet-again head of mine. It all started last Sunday when we bundled up and headed into the city for the annual Toronto Santa Claus Parade.

Unlike my husband, I love the city - especially during the Christmas season. I love the white lights, shiny bows and ribbons decorating the shops. Add a light dusting of snow and some mini Christmas trees and I'm in heaven. My dream is to spend one Christmas in New York City. I imagine it's every bit as lovely and charming as Montreal, one of my other favorite winter cities, only way bigger, and without all the French people.

Isn't Montreal pretty this time of year? Le sigh.

In reality, I'll use almost any excuse to head to Toronto (or any city, really), but Tony's been on this We are no longer city dwellers; we live in the suburbs and this is where we will rot kick. He's tired of fighting through traffic to hang out downtown, when there are not nearly as good perfectly good resources in our neighborhood. (I obviously disagree, but am too exhausted from my dreadful daily commute to argue).

However, since we missed our local Santa Claus parade this year, I was able to convince hubby dearest to make our way into civilization and hit up one of the biggest Santa Claus parades in North America.

And it actually wasn't all that hard to persuade him. Why? Because Tony is somehow convinced that this will be the last year Ciaran believes in Santa Claus. I refuse to accept this. I believed until I was like, 12. Yes, I was a very gullible child, and highly sheltered, but come on - 5 year-olds just don't stop believing in Santa, do they? It's not like he has older brothers or sisters to dispel the elaborate lie Christmas magic.

Now, Tony is on a mission to make this the most amazing, magical Christmas ever, seeing how our son is doomed to become some jaded 5 1/2 year-old come next year. So, we dragged the kid to the city to stand in the freezing cold with a million other Torontonians eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the man with the white beard.

But he took way too long. Ciaran wanted to go home. It was too cold and he was tired of waiting. So back to the suburbs we trekked. Some of our neighbors had put up their Christmas lights and it was snowing light, soft flakes. And it was kind of nice. Not in a city-nice way, but I guess I can live with it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

41 Going on 14?

Last Saturday evening my husband of 12 years looked me straight in the eye and said: "I think you need to sit down and have a drink because you're hysterical."

Let me backtrack and explain. I suddenly felt like I'd been sucked into a time warp. Either that, or I had finally lost my mind. And since I'd like to grasp onto whatever thread of sanity I have left, I prefer to believe the former.

Earlier in the day, I'd been radio channel surfing and settled on a station I don't usually listen to playing an old R&B song I hadn't heard in a while. This is cool, I thought and sang along as I continued with my domestic duties, surprised by my ability to remember every single word of the song despite not having heard it in 20 plus years.

But when the song ended things started getting freaky. A gentle voice from a long-time-ago place said "Coming in at number 38, that was Rufus and Chaka Khan, with the song, Ain't Nobody." Huh? That's strange, I thought. Could it be a new re-release of the original song?

"The hit's from coast to co-oast," rang out, conjuring up more ancient, forgotten memories. Oh My God - Casey Kasem! He's back? I couldn't even remember the last time I heard his radio show - we're talking years and years ago. But surely, they would have updated the jingle by now?

As I listened on, enjoying great old songs from my early teens, like Michael Jackson's PYT, Stevie Nicks and others, it was clear that I'd somehow been transported back to 1983. Just like Hot Tub Time Machine, only without the hot tub... or the time machine.

I grooved to the sounds of "35-year old David Bowie" (ha!) singing Modern Love, and belted out "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I grabbed Ciaran and spun him around to Prince's "Delerious" - which apparently I was. I even re-lived my head-banging days with a little Quiet Riot. Whoever said 80's music sucks was dead wrong - well besides Quiet Riot, that is. But, in one little Top 40 countdown there was something for everyone; a little funk, some pop, new wave, dance, metal and even country!

And in between all this multi-genre music awesomeness, was another forgotten feature of the program: The long-distance dedications. One in particular had me rolling on the floor in laughter - not the soldier based in Lebanon with a "lovely German wife at home in the U.S.A." but the song he dedicated to his pregnant wife. Are you ready for it? "Having my Baby." Yep. Pretty cheesy, but in defense of the 80's, I'll have you know that song came out in 1974.

Yes,  I'm all about reliving my childhood lately. Maybe it's a sign of senility, or simply getting older, but I had a blast hearing those old songs, and so did Ciaran. Especially as we boogied on down to the #1 song in the nation for the week ending November 12, 1983: Lionel Richie's "All Night Long".

Afterwards, I checked the radio station's schedule online (obviously it wasn't really 1983, or I wouldn't have been able to do that), and guess what? Casey Kasem's American Top 40 is a regular feature every Saturday afternoon! So you know where I'll be come Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Hanging out in front of the radio with my mop & bucket and thinking about those glory days...hmm, I wonder if Bruce Springsteen will make the countdown this week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Say it Ain't Joe!

A few weeks ago, I described how Ciaran and I literally laughed one of our neighbors out of the house, which wasn't one of my proudest moments, but somehow oddly appropriate at the time.

Well, it seems we're Ciaran is hellbent on alienating more neighbor folk - this time making no secret of his utter dislike for Joe, who lives across the street.

Now, if Joe was a cantankerous old man who yelled or called the cops on kids playing outside his house, I could understand my son's anxiety, but Joe is, in reality, one of the most friendly, jovial people in the neighborhood.

That being said, he does have quite a loud, boisterous voice. And Ciaran is obviously threatened by it. Also, the boy seemingly has an aversion to the name "Joe".

My husband has a cousin also named Joe and he could be "neighbor Joe's" twin. They both wear baseball caps on a regular basis, sport mustaches and bellow speak in a very outgoing manner.

One day a few weeks back, as Ciaran played in the front yard with Tony, he caught sight of neighbor Joe outside his house and ran to hide behind the car, all the while yelling at the top of his lungs, "Oh no, it's Joe! I don't like Joe!"

Tony tried to tell him to keep it down or Joe's feelings would be hurt, but Ciaran shouted even louder, "Joe's not a good name! Joe's not a good name!!"

On Halloween night, while we made our rounds around the hood, Ciaran squeezed my hand hard when we approached Joe's awesomely-decorated house. "Not Joe's house, Mom," he stage-whispered. Well, at least he didn't scream it at the top of his lungs. We moved on to the next house.

But Joe was not to be avoided. As we went about our trick-or-treating business, we bumped into him and his little boy at every turn. Which did not make Ciaran a happy camper. And it certainly didn't help matters when Joe took to howling like a werewolf each time he saw us.

When we returned home, Ciaran helped Tony give out candy, and who was the first trick-or-treater to show up at the door? Joe with his son, of course.

On the plus side, The Man now has a name! I no longer have to use the empty threat of having the call The Man, or even Santa Claus when Ciaran acts up. Nope. All I have to do is utter the "J-word" to make him listen, get his PJ's on, or clean up his toys.

So much for thinking I'd never use fear to get my kid to do stuff. Sometimes it just gets to that point. And it works, for now, anyway.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Updates, including the rapid deterioration of furniture

After our Halloween crisis this year, this is what Ciaran finally decided on. Some kind of winged hellcat; one that apparently likes to tear apart the living room furniture.

And this is why we're not buying new sofas for a looong time, or at least until he outgrows his latest obsessive compulsion:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homework woes

 Lately I've been feeling like a bad mom. Ok, that's nothing new - I admit I often feel like a bad mom. There's this thing called guilt - you may be familiar with it? I know I sure am.

It isn't that I don't give Ciaran tons of love and encouragement - I definitely do. I don't have a lot of time to play with him during the week - by the time I get home, get dinner made yada, yada, yada, it's almost bedtime. I do read to him every single night and then we cuddle and talk about his day at school or make up silly songs. Up until recently our little routine was working just fine and dandy.

But then, something started nagging at me, making me doubt my capacity as a mother and keeping me awake at night (well, not really, it's just one of the many things that prevent me from sleeping at night). I began to worry about Ciaran falling behind his peers and not being able to read or write whenever it is that kids are supposed to know how to do such things.

Normally, I wouldn't have thought twice about it - I always believed he'd learn when he's ready, not to mention - um, aren't they supposed to learn that stuff in school? But there's been a fairly large amount of assignments sent home for us to work on since Ciaran started Junior Kindergarten this past September.

I was not prepared for this. Worksheets are piling up like crazy and I can't keep up with them. Homework! In Junior Kindergarten. Is this normal? There are printing his name worksheets, counting and numbers worksheets and worksheets for each letter of the alphabet.

At first, I kind of ignored them, I just figured they were guidelines, not really to be taken all that seriously. Like, if we had a few spare minutes on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we could practice writing a few letters. But then the JK teacher started sending semi-snarky notes home about how all the kids need to learn to print their names by the end of the month.

I don't know about all the other JK kids, but mine can barely hold a pencil properly. He'd much rather build towers and houses made out of sofa cushions. And he has zero interest in writing anything, other than scribbles and the odd circle. Which brings me to the question: Am I a bad mother for not forcing my kid to do homework that he's clearly not ready for? But then, when is a good age?

If only we could win the lottery, then I'd stay home & home-school. 'Cause then it would be just fine if he didn't learn to write until he's like, 18. No one else would have to know. Also? We'd have the most kick-ass pillow house evah!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Surviving Halloween #5

Halloween takes on a whole new meaning when you have small kids. You get to subject them to your own costume ideas and preferences, for the first couple of years, anyway. And, if you love Halloween as much as my husband and I do, there's nothing more exciting than that. I mean, this is coming from parents who actually considered decorating our son's nursery to the theme of "The Nightmare Before Christmas". We eventually came to our senses; admittedly skeletons and corpses (cute and cartoon-ish as they are) might not have been the wisest choice in newborn decor.

But, for Ciaran's very first Halloween, we wanted a mixture of cute and scary, hence the "Baby Frankenstein" number we rigged up for his 7th month on the planet. I have to give Tony full credit for making the whole outfit, from the head piece, the black jacket he actually sewed, and the platform shoes on his wee infant feet. Don't worry, the green tint on his face is totally photoshopped.

The next year, I turned all soft and picked out this little Dalmatian costume. Tony was a bit disappointed that it wasn't more spooky, but the Libra in me just had to balance things out. Plus, Ciaran got a lot of use out of the puppy dog ears, wearing them well into spring of the next year. It was adorable, I tell you!

Year three was when Mom and Dad had to relent and give in to Ciaran's costume wishes. We made the unfortunate choice of bringing him to the costume store, where he took one look at the Viking hat and sword and decided he was going to be a little warrior. But, by the time Halloween night rolled around, he wouldn't have anything to do with this costume and one of the pumpkins ended up wearing the helmet.

And last year was the year of the ladybug, when he became ridiculously obsessed with the red and black insect, so it was only appropriate that he donned this costume.

As for this Halloween, well, let's just say we're still (2 hours before trick or treating commences, nonetheless), trying to iron out the costume details. You see, Ciaran really wanted to be a house. Yes, a house. So, we finally got it figured out just how we'd make said house costume, and then a week ago he changed his mind. He wanted to be some kind of winged cat creature. So back to the costume store we went. Again, very important advice to parents: Do not bring your child to the costume store once they decide on a costume. There are waaay too many options. Go there yourself, grab the costume and Bob's your uncle. But, no, we didn't do that. Back to square one. *Sigh*. I'll keep you posted.

On another note, I here's one of my fave family Halloween pictures circa 1984 - my cousin Jackie the vampire and my brother Jeff as a tiny Mr. T!

Happy Halloween to all!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

(Kind of) Wordless Wednesday: Just missing Casey & Finnegan

I came across this structure while my friend and I roamed the CBC building last week and was instantly turned into a giddy five-year-old. Do any of my Canadian peeps recognize this famous tree-house?

Here's a hint:

Although I grew up watching Mr. Dressup from the time I was a baby, the biggest memory I have of him is getting in crap for poking fun at my brother for watching him. I was 10 and probably trying to show off around one of my friends. I called poor Mr. Dressup a bad word, which I honestly didn't know the meaning of at the time. I've always felt incredibly guilty about it; you just don't bad-mouth Mr. Dressup. It's sacrilegious for a Canadian. Casey - maybe. He had the most annoying high-pitched voice. Finnegan - well, he couldn't talk to defend himself so I guess it wouldn't really be fair. Alligator Al, I barely remember, but Aunt Bird - now she was just plain creepy. See for yourselves - she's the old lady bird wearing glasses:

Do you have any memories, fond or otherwise of Mr. Dressup?  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Booty Calls & Naughty Teddy Bear Talk at the Steven and Chris Show!

Can I just tell you how freaking excited I was to attend a taping of the Steven and Chris show this past Tuesday? I mean, I'm talking Uber-Excited! Because, not only are they Canadian TV icons, but my friends and I used to actually plan dinner parties around their shows.

We followed them from the time they were on HGTV's The Designer Guys, spending many a Saturday evening curled up on my sofa, with our glasses of Shiraz and Steven and Chris as our after-dinner entertainment. They were cute, talented and oh-so-witty, and it was nice to watch a Canadian TV program without being morbidly embarrassed for once. In fact, they were pretty cutting-edge for the time, pre-dating many other popular home decorating shows.

A few years back, I was at a design show in Toronto with my husband where Steven and Chris were signing autographs, but I was way too star-struck to go and talk to them.

So when I was invited to a special "bloggers only" taping of their current CBC show, I jumped at the chance. I called my friend Shirl and we made our way downtown through crazy rush-hour traffic. Not that I'm complaining. Nope, the boys did not disappoint.

From the time we gaggle of bloggers were ushered into the studio, we were given the royal treatment. I was amazed to look around and see plenty of familiar faces (well, familiar from Twitter, at least). Lovely bloggers of every age and blog genres came out. Some I was too shy to approach, but I did get to chat briefly with @MamaAsh, otherwise known as Erica from Everything Mom and Baby. Shirl and I also met a friendly lady who brought her mom - how sweet is that!

Jenny McCarthy was the celebrity guest that day and - whoa -that girl held nothing back! She was plugging her latest book and lets just say there was talk of booty calls, and some um, interesting adventures with her childhood teddy bear, among other things. I just kept thinking thank God I didn't bring my mother, 'cause that would have just been awkward!

After the taping, we were treated to a yummy lunch of pulled pork sandwiches and had a Q&A session, followed by some photo ops. And, although I was still kind of nervous, I dragged my friend up to meet them. I tried hard to keep my cool, I really did but, then I had to get all gushy, telling them how much I love them. Which is OK, because it's true and all, but it probably ruined any chance of me ever hanging out and going shopping with them. Which is kind of like a life-long dream of mine. But that's another story.

Steven, Shirl, Me & Chris!

Anyway, we had a great time and would totally recommend attending a show taping if you're ever in the GTA. If you haven't lately, check out the Steven and Chris Show on Friday October 22 at 2 p.m. EST on CBC!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Try to imagine that you've recently moved to a new country and you've discovered that you're pregnant. You can barely speak English, have no friends or family here, very little money and absolutely no extravagances. But, the excitement stemming from the new life inside you gives you hope for the future.

Your husband takes on more work shifts and you scrimp and save what money you can, getting by on much less than most people could ever imagine. You scope out discarded baby furniture and toys left on the side of the curb for garbage pickup and bring them home to clean up as well as you can. 

You continue working your butt off for minimum wage at the local fast food place, exhausted from standing on your feet all day. You live in fear of being fired by the no-nonsense manager who narrows his eyes each time you run to the washroom, nauseous.

Thankfully, you manage to stay under the radar and once your belly begins to show, the boss actually starts treating you nicer. But there's always that look of frustrated annoyance when you're trying to explain something and the words get stuck - never quite rolling off your tongue properly. And you feel like you'll never truly belong here. Thoughts of your baby console you. You'll hang in, maybe take an English language course once you're on maternity leave.

You and your husband soon come to the realization that there's just not enough money for you to take the full one-year mat leave. You decide to stay home for three months after the baby is born and then return to work. But then there's the cost of daycare and it just doesn't make sense to work and have to give up most of your salary.

You are completely torn. If only you had family nearby to help out, but there's no one. You desperately wish your parents would consider moving to Canada to stay with you, but they're older and perfectly content living in their little village, thousands of miles across the ocean. 

After many late-night discussions, most of which end in tears, you and your husband come to this conclusion: You will spend the first four months at home, after which you will journey across the ocean with your precious baby, back to your native land, where he will spend the first 4-5 years of his life. Without you. Raised by his grandparents until he can start school.  Where you, the mother who will never see him take first steps, or speak first words will become forgotten, all but erased from his tiny newborn memory. 

This is a real story of a man my husband works with. When he told me, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, tired or just plain sorry for myself, I try to imagine myself in these parents' shoes. But, I can only imagine up to the part where they decide to leave the baby with his grandparents, and then I can't even begin to comprehend. Would you even consider giving up your 4-month-old child even for the chance of giving them a better life? Such a sad story, my heart aches for the mother, especially.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Yes, It's Thanksgiving here in Canada, and since turkey with all the trimmings is like my favorite meal EVAH I am in my glory! So, while I'm in my own little food-stuffed heaven today, I thought I'd treat you with a somewhat inappropriate cartoon featuring that oh-so-lovable Sesame Street gang.

But first, I wanted to share a story about Ciaran's Junior Kindergarten Thanksgiving celebration. The kids made these adorable little turkey hand-print thingies to bring home, with a Thanksgiving poem printed around it that the teachers wrote. So, after I oohed & aahed over his artwork, he turned and asked me in the sweetest little voice, "Mommy, what are you thankful for?"

I told him I was thankful for him, Daddy, our house, coffee, red wine, sleeping pills and then asked him what he was thankful for. He grabbed his latest favorite toy, a tiny little brown stuffed moose he calls "Moose" appropriately enough, and pointed to its head.

"Oh," I said. "And did your teacher also ask you what you were thankful for?"


"What did you say?"

He looked at me incredulously and said "Mom, I told her I was thankful for Moose!"

I know they have a difficult job, but man, sometimes I envy those JK teachers. Some of the answers they must get from the kids. I can just imagine his teacher sitting down to dinner with her husband, laughing over the funny little kid in her class being thankful for moose!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends!!

I gotta give credit to The Mayor of Crazy Town for inspiring me on this one. Go check out her Wordless Wednesday Thanksgiving Edition post for more Thanksgiving Day humor!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alienating the neighbors one at a time...

The other day, I did something I never thought I'd do - I let a complete stranger into my home. She caught me off guard, ringing the doorbell on yet another chaotic evening for me and the boy.

On the night in question, I was making a pizza, entertaining Ciaran by letting him "help" grate cheese, and cleaning up all the bits that didn't make it to the pizza. As usual, cheese ended up squished between tile grout, on chairs and in pretty much every little nook & cranny in the kitchen.

So, swearing under my breath at this unwanted interruption, I'm frazzled and not in the most welcoming state of mind as I answer the door. Especially since the woman standing there is wearing what appears to be one of those phony-ass-looking gas company badges whose logo doesn't resemble the company I deal with. I've heard stories about these door-to-door "sales associates" scamming people and I'm instantly suspicious.

She senses my wariness, asking if she's "caught me at a bad time." What I want to say is, "Bitch, I'm covered in cheese and pizza sauce, my kid's running around on some kind of sugar high and there's a burning pizza in my oven, so no, now's not the ideal time to drop by unannounced." But, instead I mumble something about "having a late dinner" and follow it up by the world's most insincere "can I help you?"

She introduces herself and explains that she's a neighbor from just down the street so I let down my guard. Somewhat. After the wackjob neighborhood I recently moved out of, I'm still paranoid of people showing up at my door, even if they seem harmless enough. Anyway she apparently works part-time for a water heater company and wants to tell her neighbors all about some amazing 4-day only promotion being offered.


As I'm trying to think up some excuse to get out of this conversation, she's suddenly inviting herself inside to have a look at our water heater. And, because I'm a total pushover and can't think of anything to say to avoid the current situation without sounding rude, (and god knows I don't want to offend a neighbor), I let her in. But not before I ask her which house she lives in. Not that that would help me if she did happen to be some crazed serial killer posing as a hot water heater salesperson. Cause that's what is actually going through my head at this moment.

We head down to my war-zone-resembling basement to examine this heater that I've never given a second glance, Ciaran clinging timidly to my side. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my some of my husband's tools sticking out of one of the many boxes strewn about and decide that if it comes down to it, I'll grab a hammer for protection.

But, of course there's no need for it. She's deeply engrossed in the inspection of the heater and begins this whole spiel on how there's lead in our pipes (turns out there isn't) and that the heater is too old and we really need to take advantage of this wonderful offer she's only telling her neighbors about.

Then, something horrifying happens. Ciaran, my dear, sweet little son starts giggling uncontrollably and while I'm asking him to please not be so silly, the lady is trying to talk to Mommy, I suddenly burst into laughter. I try to cover it up, pretending I'm just laughing at him laughing, but I really can't stop. The poor woman is still pitching her product to me, but I'm in hysterics. The more I try to be serious, the more absurd the whole thing seems and I just can't pull it together. It's like I'm 11 again, and my younger brother has made me laugh during church and I know it's inappropriate, but that just makes it all the harder to stop.

I really need to start getting more sleep.  Buy hey, on the plus side? I haven't gotten any more salespeople dropping by.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting a little Fonzie in my old age...

I realize that the sheer fact I even remember a 1970's sitcom totally dates me, even if most of it is a very distant memory. Another sign of old age, I suppose. But, what I can clearly remember about Happy Days is The Fonz's inability to apologize, getting stuck on the words I'm s-s-s-sorry or I was w-w-w-wrong. Kind of like my reluctance to admit my age.

I thought it was going to be traumatic last year when I turned f-f-f-forty. See? It's hard for me to even write it out. So, I chose to ignore it, brush it off, pretend it wasn't happening. But today I'm officially in my forties and can no longer avoid this sneaky, creeping up on me, aging thing. 

And, I'm not gonna lie, it's still hard. I don't feel 41. At least, most of the time I don't. Just yesterday, one of my lovely, sweet co-workers lied-through-his-teeth said he thought I was 29. 29! And, flattered though I was for about 4 seconds, I quickly realized that that's exactly the kind of thing people say to "older" women to make them feel better about themselves.

Come to think of it, I don't know what's worse, the false compliments or the people who don't even blink an eye when you tell them your age. Like, could you at least humor me and  pretend to be shocked? Call me vain, but I think the automatic acceptance of my age, especially from a younger person, makes me feel worse. Especially since I remember thinking how ancient 40 seemed back in my twenties. 

Then again, it can also suck when someone makes a remark like, "Wow, you're 41? I had no idea you were that old - I would never have guessed." Like being 41 suddenly makes you a senior citizen or something. Sigh. It's a no-win situation for me. No matter how I look at it, no one can say the right thing. But, that's just typical, Libra me.  I over-analyze, think the worse and then in the end? I finally realize that it's all in this borderline-schizo head of mine.

So, I'm gonna  take Fonzie's advice, shut the f**k up, put on my birthday hat and stop apologizing for being 41. That's my age and there's nothing I or anyone else can do about it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a nice bottle of Shiraz on the counter with my name on it. Yes, I know it's not quite noon yet, but I thought I'd pour myself a glass and catch up on some re-runs of the Golden Girls, um, I mean Glee, yes that's it, Glee. Isn't that what all the kids are into these days? Cheers!! (no, not the t.v. show, I was toasting everyone. Yes, on my birthday. Ok, I'll stop it now...)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

School Daze

Oops, sorry, I've been MIA again. With Tony's crazy, minimum 16 hour day work schedule, I can barely look after myself, let alone Ciaran lately. But, I'll skip the pity party and (finally) get to the post I've been working on for the last week and a half!

Due to the fact that I'm always way behind in my posts, I thought about skipping Ciaran's first day of school and moving on to something more timely, but it was a pretty major milestone, so I had to fit it in. Better late than never, as they say. Sigh. Why is that becoming the motto of my life?

Anyway, I've been mentally preparing him for the big day for about a year now. I didn't want it to be a total shock like when he first started going to daycare. But it was difficult explaining things to him then. He understands much better now. Truth be told, his vocabulary rivals mine, with words like quite and fabulous, using them in sentences like "Mommy, these new shoes you bought me are quite fabulous." And "I quite like this CD, Mommy. I'd certainly like to find a comparable one." On second thought, I'd have to say his vocabulary is way more sophisticated than mine, although it does border on the grandmotherly side. 

So, to get him in the whole school mind-set,  I bought him a book about an annoying little bastard Franklin the turtle, and his wussy whining fear of getting on the school bus for the first time. We talked about what would happen when Ciaran started school, but he'd brush me off and say he wasn't going to school until he got bigger and I'd tell him that day was coming soon and then he'd either try to change the subject, or get all quiet and sad, making me feel more of that never-ending guilt.

But on his last day of daycare, I had to put it out there again. Explain that the time had finally come for him to start school. All the while keeping a happy (more like anxious-sounding) tone of voice. Telling him how exciting and fun it would be at his new school. About how many new friends and nice teachers he'd meet. He wasn't jumping for joy, but he seemed to accept the fact that he couldn't avoid going.

I, on the other hand, did not sleep a wink the night before. I was more nervous about his first day of school than I was on my own first day, so many years ago. I tossed and turned, trying to remember if I'd put a juice pack in his lunch bag. Should I pack an extra set of clothes? Were his indoor shoes in his backpack?

When my alarm went off the next morning, I dragged my butt out of bed and tried to pull myself together. As I got him ready, I tried to keep that happy-go-lucky tone in my voice although I felt like total crap. This was supposed to be an emotional, exciting day for me, but all I wanted to do was throw up and crawl back into bed.

At the school, it was complete chaos as we were herded to one classroom, told to go somewhere else and then back to the original class. The whole time, the principal and the JK teacher explained procedures to us as I looked back at them blankly, my head spinning. I must have looked like some cracked-out mom. Not a good first impression for my son's first day of school.

But, although I didn't take nearly enough pictures and was too tired to shed more than a couple of tears, in the end, it all worked out. He's a happy camper and actually enjoys getting up and going to school. And his vocabulary? Well, let's just say in the zombified state I've been in lately, it sure as hell kicks my ass!

Cuddling with Ducky before heading off to school

No ducks in the classroom!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Farewell to Summer

Ok, I know it's still technically summer, but the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition, for you non-Ontarians) always marks the end of the season for me.

This year we took my parents who were in town for their very first "Let's Go to the Ex" experience. They joined us in stuffing our faces with junk food, the most tiny, delicious doughnuts and watched Ciaran enjoy his first taste of cotton candy. I skipped the deep-fried butter, though. Cause, you know, that's just wrong! Cheryl from Mommypants would be proud of me for that, of this I'm certain.

Ciaran's First Tiny Tom donut
Trying their luck with the carnies
Look what I won!


Homeward bound
Cotton candy heaven!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm (Trying to be) Mrs. Bright Side

I recently blogged about being abandoned - albeit unintentionally - by my husband while he was away on business. Yes, it was tough, stressful and very tiring. But, in my typical Libra fashion, I must see both sides of every situation and I've come up with a list of things that were not all that bad about holding the fort on my own.

To keep what's left of my sanity and to avoid that horrible feeling that everything is falling apart at the seams, I've been really striving to think more positively about things. Otherwise, I'll drive myself crazy just thinking about everything that's beyond my control. I'm trying to "go with the flow" as the saying goes. To live in the moment and enjoy the little things without obsessing over the dishes in the sink. It's hard as hell, let me tell you but totally necessary if I don't want to wind up in the mental ward.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things I embraced about being a single mom for a two and a half weeks:

  • No dirty socks under the sofa.  No matter how much I bitch and complain, my husband has deemed it his manly right to roll up his dirty old socks and shove them under the sofa. It's not uncommon for me to find 4-5 pairs as I'm dusting beneath the furniture on a Saturday morning. So, it was nice not having to worry about clogging up the vacuum with smelly socks. 
  • Whole wheat carbs!  I'm a bit of a health nut. Ok, not always, but I was raised by parents who brainwashed me into thinking white bread was "poisonous", so I'm all about the whole grains. Hubby, on the other hand, loves his squishy white bread & pizza dough and while we buy separate loaves of bread for our individual tastes, the dough and pasta is always a battle. I've made him whole wheat versions on numerous occasions, but whenever he does the grocery shopping, that damn bleached crap is the what winds up in our cupboards. 
  • No snoring. Ahh, the  pleasure of sleeping in my cozy bed without hearing those freight train-like sounds was pure bliss. I'm not sure if it was due to sheer exhaustion or having peace and quiet in my bedroom, but I slept like a champ. 
  • No opening & closing drawers at ungodly hours. There is nothing more irritating than to be awaken by the sound of dresser drawers repeatedly being opened and closed. I don't mean just once, twice or even 3 times to get socks, underwear and whatever else he frantically searches for at 6:00 a.m. It's not like there's even all that many drawers. He just keeps opening and closing the same ones. Over. and. Over. I definitely did not miss this, nor his "closing" the front door much harder than what surely is necessary.
    •  After Dinner Dancing. This was my favorite part of the 2.5 weeks. No, I did not sneak in a boyfriend after my son went to bed (how could I, the kid doesn't go to bed until 10:00, sheesh)! Lately, whenever Ciaran hears a good song, he jumps up and "shakes his feather tail" as he so adorably puts it. So while Tony was away, dancing before, after and sometimes even during dinner became our ritual. We'd hop up from the table, grab each others' hands and get our grooves on. After a few minutes he'd insist that I pick him up and dance with him in my arms, which is not an easy thing, with a 40+ lb child. But, with my new "enjoying the moment" mentality I told myself it was a good workout for my arms. Sure, I lost all feeling in them after like 10 minutes, but hey, no pain no gain, right?

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Updates, Chaos & House Guests

    I know I haven't posted in a while - as many of my other bloggy friends have also expressed - this summer has been an extremely busy one (not to mention a little on the stressful side) for yours truly.

    First there was the move (still haven't unpacked everything - shamefully our entire basement is filled w/ boxes). Stuff is everywhere, but not where it's supposed to be.

    Then, Tony went away on business for what was supposed to be one week, but has now turned into 2.5 weeks. Fortunately, Ciaran has been pretty well-behaved, but it's still hard doing it all on my own, plus working, taking care of the house, yada, yada, yada. By the weekend, I just want to crawl into my bed and never come out, but with an energetic little boy jumping all over my barely-conscious self at 8:00 a.m., relaxing on the weekend is not an option.

    Also? How the hell that child doesn't collapse by the days end is beyond me. I know the saying "youth is wasted on the young", but seriously - he does not stop. He doesn't even slow down. Not one iota. It's go, go, go, run, run, run, talk, talk, talk, all day long. I love his exuberance, but it's also completely draining me.

    The worst part is, he's decided he just doesn't want to go to bed at night. It's like a 2-hour process getting him ready & tucked in. And right when I think, ok, yes! I've got him in the bed, he's lying down, he's rubbing his eyes - bam! He'll jump up for just one more hug, kiss, drink of juice, question, remark, anything his little mind can think of to keep me in there for as long as he can. And I'm too tired to fight him. He's got me beaten down. He knows this all too well.

    But help is on the way. Tomorrow my parents arrive from the East Coast for a week-long visit. So, although I've been running around getting things ready for them, once they're here, Ciaran will have 2 more adults at his torment entertainment disposal.

    Which is a really good thing, because I'm starting to look & feel like this (minus the teenage girl):

    Who knows? Maybe while they're here and when Tony gets home I can even sneak in a blog post or two. That would be totally awesome. *Fingers crossed*.
    Related Posts with Thumbnails