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...)

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