Friday, October 31, 2008

Things that go cute in the night

What to do?

Last year's laziness was not going to cut it, Rob was to be working all night and I had no intention of ending up with a ton of leftover Halloween candy OR disappointing any visiting princesses or goblins.

So I rigged a self-serve station...

And took to the streets with my little ghost.

Where he charmed old friends...

And met new ones.

And scored so much candy...

That neither of us minded a bit when not a single, leftover piece of candy greeted us upon our return.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let the winning begin...

Oh, there will be winning.

I just put up a review of a really unique series of interactive books for babies and young toddlers over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews. And the best part?

You can win 'em for yourself. Click on over there, read about 'em and enter your name to win now!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Graham did something last night that made me both incredibly proud and heart-wrenchingly sad.

He played with the cat.

Horace was sleeping in front of the fireplace, oblivious to the fact that Graham had placed around him the wooden giraffes and Inuit carvings we display in the room. Graham was chattering animatedly, showing the cat each figurine and making them dance in front of his unblinking eyes when it hit me.

Graham was no longer a toddler. Graham was a creative and imaginative little boy who was capable of creating fantasy worlds and magical playgrounds that he was anxious to share with a playmate.

And Graham was playing with the cat because he doesn't have a sibling to play with.

For a long time now I have wanted a sibling for Graham to play with. But yesterday was the first time my heart hurt with the yearning and the emptiness.

And with the inadequacy.

This is not where I expected to be. Life has given me many, many blessings to count and yet I did not expect this: that my almost-three-year-old would be reduced to sharing his childhood joys with a cat, even if I have always considered that cat my first baby.

Because he isn't. Of course he isn't.

Graham is my first baby. He is my only baby. And he's not a baby anymore: he's a little boy.

And that makes me both incredibly proud and heart-wrenchingly sad.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fashionably drunk?

Have you ever attended a work event and ended up a little over-refreshed?

Yeah, me too.

But have you ever been a little over-refreshed at a really important work event, where you're scheduled to make a speech in front of cut-throat colleagues, important clients and the international press?

Yeah, me neither.

But then I'm not Toronto Design Council President Robin Kay who launched Toronto Fashion Week last week with a drunken speech that became a major scandal in the local media and left me pondering whether drinking on the job is ever in style.

Want to continue reading my musing on boozin'? Click on over to my Shooting for Hip column at Better Than A Playdate...

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Kicking it old school with Moo and Beans

The thing I have against a lot of television shows and videos aimed at young children is that they're just too good.

And by good I mean slick. A part of me feels nervous about carefully crafted dialogue, seamless pacing and flashy production values. I'm not sure if it's because I fear Graham's developing brain doesn't stand a chance against the onslaught or if I'm simply nostalgic for the bumpy charm and hokeyness of some of the productions I remember loving in the 1970s.

Whatever the reason, when I agreed to review the DVD My Baby A to Z - Come Explore Shapes With Me I fell hard for a couple of guys named Moo and Beans and immediately hoped their homespun antics would strike a chord with Graham.

*Does today's generation fall for retro charm? Would you like to win a DVD? Click on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews for all the details.*

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just call me Martha


They're yesterday's news. Having mastered them with such style and, er, grace, we today moved on to cupcakes!

And not just any cupcakes.

Cupcakes with four shades of neon-coloured frosting and an array of gummy toppings.

Which almost made up for the fact that the end result was sickening sweet and, well, kinda disgusting...

But that's just my humble opinion, of course.

*Need cheap cupcakes and lots of them? E-mail me - you won't believe the prices!*

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let freedom ring

Take a moment to consider this photo...

You probably think it's merely a photo of a little boy letting a cat outside, right?


This photo is a powerful symbol of freedom.

Freedom from constantly getting up from my comfortable spot on the couch. Freedom from constant mewling and interruptions.

Freedom from Horace's tyranny.

And you know what makes the freedom even sweeter? Graham loves letting Horace outside. Loves it.

"Horace is my best friend," he says as he runs for the door. "It's for me to do, it's for me to do."

Fine with me. The way I see it, it's a win-win situation. Horace is indulged, Graham is happy.

And mama is free.

Now if I can just convince Graham that yard work, dirty dishes and laundry are also for him to do.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh the places he'll go!

I said I would never do it.

Before my son was born I even wrote an essay - Waiting for Graham - in which I acknowledged that not doing it would likely be the hardest part of parenting.

And yet the entire time I was in Vancouver and missing him, I did it.

I spent my entire time away imagining and planning Graham's future for him. Every time I saw a young man I started to idly wonder if he were the kind of man Graham might become and before long I was lost in my thoughts and schemes for Graham's future and worse, my hopes and dreams for myself.

We were barely buckled into the seats in the plane when the sound of the captain's voice started me imagining a future Graham, tall and blond in his pilot's uniform. I missed the entire flight introduction because I was too busy envisioning future versions of Rob and I sitting on a plane (upgraded to first class, natch!) under his command.

Graham would lay out the flight plans for the passengers in a strong confident voice and then acknowledge the presence of a very special passenger: his mother, the woman responsible for introducing him to flying when he was just a baby.

The present-day me got all misty-eyed just thinking about it. In fact, I damn near stood up and started bowing to fellow passengers, who I imagined would be clapping and sighing with deep appreciation over what a wonderful mother I was.

And it just got worse from there.

At the Vancouver aquarium I mused to Rob about how fascinating a field I thought marine biology was. Withing seconds I lost myself in a reverie involving he and I and Graham, some 20 years on.

In my mind's eye the three of us were speeding across a choppy sea in a small boat being expertly commandeered by my handsome son. Shaggy and earnest, Graham raised his voice to be heard above the whipping winds, while Rob and I listened intently, hanging off his every word.

"I'm pretty excited about this new project I've been developing out here, Mom and Dad. I think it's a real breakthrough that will save the lives of thousands of whales."

By the time we left the aquarium that day the whole scenario had been played out countless times in my mind and was so real to me that I couldn't resist smiling magnanimously in the direction of the mother Beluga and her calf and and thinking: "You're welcome, my animal sister, you're welcome."

Clearly I needed a drink, but even the slightly dingy atmosphere of the pub we visited that night couldn't dim the limelight in which I was certain Graham would bask.

Two guys with a guitar and some bongos did such a great job on Like A Rolling Stone that Rob and I got to chatting about how Dylan's introduction of the electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival devastated his followers who saw it as a symbolic declaration of the end of 1960s innocence.

Almost immediately my mind's eye saw a wild-haired future Graham onstage, guitar in hand, ushering in a new era of politics and music to thousands of adoring fans, while I, his manager, sat backstage atop a speaker. "Sure there might be some initial boos", I would acknowledge sagely to the gathering press. "But that's only because it takes time for great genius to be revealed".

If the young musicians in the Gastown pub were alarmed by my enthusiastic standing ovation, they didn't let on.

So, yeah, even though I said I wouldn't confuse Graham's future hopes and dreams with my own, I'm learning that's easier said than done.

I can't help but be excited about the opportunities that Graham has laid out before him, just as I know my parents were excited for me. I can't help but be thrilled by the wide range of choices he will be blessed with and proud that I will help provide them.

I can't help but be inspired by the thought of a blank slate, even if it is not mine upon which to write.

It is fruitless to try and stop fantasising about your child's future, I have determined. So I am not going to even try anymore.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go fetch Graham. He's in the next room tormenting Horace, who clearly doesn't appreciate the boy who will one day become the veterinarian responsible for eliminating all pain and suffering of cats and dogs the world over.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunshine and rain

Did I mention it rains a lot in Vancouver?

It does. It rains. A lot.

Luckily for us most of the city's famed aquarium is indoors so, weather be damned, I was able to make the acquaintance of this fine fellow on Friday.

And then, miracle of all miracles, Saturday dawned mercifully clear and we were able squeeze in a forest walk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge...

A bike ride around the seawall at Stanley Park...(hey, that helmet was mandated by law!)...

And some soaking in the sunshine and stunning skyline.

Just got home a few hours ago, in time to put Graham to bed. You'd hardly know that I spent half my time away fantasizing about hugging him and soaking in his sweet sunshine.

But more on that later...

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh Hai!

Did I mention I'm in Vancouver?

It's true. I flew out here Wednesday on business and spent that afternoon and yesterday meeting with some very smart people who helped my brain grow a little bigger.

Rob's on hiatus from the television series he's working on so he tagged along and we're spending today and tomorrow checking out the sights in this gorgeous city and doing things I have determined Vancouverites do on a regular basis.

Like, you know, pray for it to stop raining.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I like best of all autumn

"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content."

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Monday, October 13, 2008

The masochism of beauty

No I am not a masochist.

At least I don't think I am, though a logical person might dispute that assertion. I mean, logically, why would I willingly submit to, and spend my hard-earned money on, a painful ritual involving hot wax and tender bits?

You've probably done it too, haven't you? And there's no logic to it. It's the masochism of beauty and it's made a victim of even smart and enlightened women for thousands of years.

Are woman all over the world suffering for beauty and a bigger piece of the economic pie? Muse with me over at Better Than A Playdate...

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Little pitchers

Last night, out of the blue, Graham taught me how powerful just a few carefully-chosen words can be.

"Mommy, you are my very best friend."

And I felt my eyes well and my heart swell and I gently kissed his forehead.

"What a nice thing to say sweetie, thank you."

And Graham smiled sweetly in return.

"You're welcome mommy. You are my very best friend because you are really pretty and also, you almost never say damnit."

Oh yes he did.

Last night Graham taught me that Mommy needs to choose her words just a little more carefully.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Creamy, dairy-free salmon chowder

Fall is here and you know what that means...

It's soup time! And even if you're allergic to gluten or lactose intolerant, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a creamy, fall chowder.

Click on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews and check out LeeAnne's yummy recipe for gluten and dairy-free salmon chowder.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What I know

I was speaking on the phone yesterday with a friend who is pregnant with her first child and talk turned to another woman who is getting well into her forties.

"I gather she's not interested in having kids," I said.

"Actually she's thinking about adopting," my friend replied. "She really wants to be a mom, but she's not so big on the baby stage because they can't talk, so she's thinking of adopting a toddler."

"Oh...well...I don't know if that, uh, makes it easier," I stammered.

And I didn't mean to sound disapproving, but perhaps I did because my friend rushed to respond.

"Well, I mean, she just thinks she could handle it better if the child could at least kinda articulate what they want," she said. "And good on her for knowing what she can handle, you know?"

And I made agreeable noises and changed the subject because I didn't know what to say. Or, perhaps more accurately, I didn't know how to say what I felt without sounding completely condescending.

What I wanted to say was that once my friend's baby was born she would likely realize how silly the notion that anyone truly invested in becoming a mother would blithely consider skipping a stage in their child's development because she's "not so big on it."

I wanted to say that if our mutual friend was ever fortunate enough to become the mother of an older child through adoption, it is likely she would mourn every single day she wasn't in that child's life, whether they could talk or not. I wanted to say it is almost certain she would ache with the longing to have known and loved that child even one day earlier.

I do not think I have discovered the secret to life because I have borne a child. I am well aware there are a lot of morons raising children and every day I see people who appear not to have had their consciousness raised to any great degree as a result of parenting.

But there are some things that even marginally thoughtful parents cannot escape learning and I don't know if those things can be fully appreciated by people who have never known what it is like to divert your entire life - every thought, every movement, every last ounce of your energy - to the benefit of another human being.

You don't get, for example, really get, the complexity of a human being's physical, intellectual and emotional development until you see it close up, unfolding before you on a daily basis.

You don't get that parenting is easy and difficult and fun and yet a massive drag, all at the same time. You don't really understand that mothering a toddler is both the same and different and easier and harder and more fun and less fun than mothering a baby, or a even teenager for that matter.

You don't understand how it can be all the same. And yet so very different.

I am not the smartest person in the world, but I do know that the care and devotion a child will require at any stage of its development cannot be predicted, compared or quantified: it cannot even be imagined.

Maybe I am condescending, but I know these things and neither of my friends do yet.

And that does not mean I am smarter than they are, but it does mean that I am a mother.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

It was right there all along

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs
and returns home to find it.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Let him be

When I was a kid, I was a handful.

I craved constant stimulation. I got bored easily. My gaze was often fixed on future excitement, to the detriment of my ability to appreciate the present.

One of my earliest memories is of my mom sighing in exasperation and asking, "Can't you just be? Why do you always have to be entertained?!"

It's good to be curious, but a habit of gobbling up new experiences like they are chocolates can also lead to a regrettable restlessness that is difficult to reconcile with adult responsibilities. This I know: the most difficult part of becoming a grown up - if I can claim to be a grown up - was relinquishing my ability to spend every waking moment indulging myself in new, fun experiences.

So then there's Graham.

And he's a handful.

"And where are we going today?" is his daily refrain within five minuets of waking.

Graham rarely sits. He bounces from one activity to another. He asks to go to the playground just as we get settled at the water park. He cries to go on the swing just as he swooshes down the slide.

"I want to see Grandma and Grandpa!" he announces when we pull out of Oma and Opa's driveway.

"Can we go for an airplane ride?" he asks when he visits his float plane pilot Grandfather. And so we do. And as we soar together above the clouds I hear him pipe up from the back seat.

"Can we go for a motorboat ride now?"

I know this curiosity, this insatiable desire to continually be doing something else, something new, is part of being a child, but I still fear that he has inherited from both his father and me a tendency to gobble up new experiences like they are chocolates. I worry that his gaze is fixed on future excitement to the detriment of his ability to appreciate the present.

And while I have waxed romantic about the restless wanderings of my youth, my road to maturity was an especially difficult emotional journey: one I am not especially anxious to see my son embark upon.

It has taken me so many, many years to learn how to be content. I hope and pray that Graham will be a quicker study.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

So what if he can't sing?

Neither can I.

The important thing about Rick Astley is that he's super loyal.


You have to click on this video of Patrick Dempsey!

The hottest thing ever.

There. Consider yourself Rickrolled.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Extra! Extra! Scandal-ridden DMD drops out of political race

I think the whole world is well aware that the United States is in the middle of a rather bombastic to campaign to elect its next president, but some of you may be unaware that Canada is also in the middle of a federal election campaign.

While Canadian politics lack some of the drama found in the U.S., I have observed one particular phenomenon with great interest, sadness and regret: former bloggers are dropping out of the race like flies.

Apparently it really IS true that what you post on your blog today can prevent you from becoming Prime Minister tomorrow.

This is bad news folks, very bad news.

This means that in the event that my quest for complete cultural domination necessitates a run for political office, I could be royally screwed. Once the press and my political opponents start perusing my archives, the true picture of DMD is going to emerge and it's not going to be pretty.

I mean, right off the hop, the media will trumpet the fact that I have already declared myself unsuitable for political office.

And then it's gonna go downhill from there.

First the pundits will look into my take on social issues.

The right wing will dismiss me as a sniveling Liberal, admitting as I have to, plotting a revolution against the establishment and questioning authority at every turn.

The left wing is going to peg me as a raging fascist who would force kids to cut their damn hair and legislate against parents trying too hard to be hip. Also? I have no compassion for America's sweetheart mom and therefore no heart.

Once they start digging up the dirt in my personal life, I'm going to be all but finished. Where do I start?

I have proudly admitted that I am a big, fat liar who lusts after men - boys, really - young enough to be my son. Also, I am addicted to tabloid sleaze and continually enjoy an inner dialogue about how everyone I encounter is stupid and ugly.

I'll be lucky someone doesn't spirit Graham away after news of my parenting skills - or lack thereof - are made public. Let's see: I hit my child and exploit him for money. I park him in front of the television, expose him to my grotesque nakedness and harbour deep-seated fears that I might harm him. I didn't even bother to take him out for Halloween last year for Gawd's sake!

The idea that I may have inadvertently torpedoed my political career is really upsetting. I mean, for you, more than for me. Now, in all likelihood, the free world will never know rule under Don Mills Diva.

And that's a shame, it really is.

And you know what?

I blame it all on Graham.

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