Monday, December 29, 2008

What the world needs now

Because my mother in law remains in the hospital, though much improved, thanks, in no small part I believe, to all your heartfelt good wishes and prayers...

Because I just learned that my dear cousin's 34-year-old sister-in-law unexpectedly died in her sleep at her parents' home on Christmas morning...

Because Christmas, for all the joy it brings (and it DOES bring joy), is hard and tiring work...

Because of all the things that prevent us from enjoying Christmas like we did when we were children, isn't it true that we could ALL use just a little bit more cute in our lives?

Of course it is.

You're welcome.

Now go pour yourself a big ole rum and egg nog as a thank you to YOU for once again making holiday magic happen for the ones you love. I'll be back soon with a real post - promise!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

A holiday request

Rob and his brother left our Christmas dinner celebrations last night and headed directly to the hospital emergency room with their mother.

She has been losing weight off her already tiny frame for a month now, ever since the worm turned and food suddenly went from cherished friend to cruel enemy, bent on extracting painful revenge on her stomach and bowels. Tests and doctor visits have only lead one to another, prolonging an excruciating waiting game,

Perhaps it was the contrast between her emaciated frame and the robustness of the season that made us all say "enough": perhaps it was the way she lay curled up in pain for hours on the couch after attempting to partake of the abundance we all abused.


I awoke this morning after little sleep to find that our Christmas tree had unexpectedly crashed to the floor, leaving a tsunami of shattered glass and wayward needles in its wake.

I barked at Graham to stay back. My robe gaped in a most undignified manner as I grunted and heaved and ultimately failed to upright it. I collapsed in a frustrated heap on the couch, weighing waking my husband from sleep visited him scant hours ago against heading to my parents house and leaving the tree laying there as what? A forlorn symbol of something of which we dare not speak?

"Don't worry mommy. Don't be so homesick mommy. I'm here to help."


My wonderful mother in law has been admitted to the hospital and is receiving nutrients intravenously: she is in excellent hands and we are optimistic doctors will help her return to her energetic and vibrant self. I humbly request that you add her to your prayers this holiday season or simply send love and positive thoughts in her general direction.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From my house to yours...

Merry Christmas and the best of the season to each and every one of you!

(So my hat's not as Christmasy as last year's:

doesn't mean I'm not feeling it.)

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Guess who's coming for lunch?

Yes, the picture is blown out.

But Santa is a very busy guy. And when he just all of a sudden shows up on your doorstep to say a quick hello you don't ask him to wait while you fiddle with the settings on your camera.

You just point and shoot.

And hope that maybe, just maybe, you will have captured for prosterity a tiny fraction of the excitement in the air and the wonder in your child's eyes.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

My oral obsession

I never used to give my teeth a second thought.

Oh sure, I've always been aware that they could be straighter, whiter...bigger even. (Yes, in a bizarre twist of fate, despite being a notorious big mouth, the actual physical size of my mouth is rather small.)

But back to my teeth.

I've been a little obsessed with my teeth ever since my last trip to the dentist. While pointing out the worst areas where tarter collects, she casually stated as fact something that has been haunting me day and night ever since.

I have a receding gum line.

It's true. But never fear DMD has a plan! Click on over to my Shooting For Hip column at Better Than A Playdate to read all about it...

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Bringing a taste of Walt Disney World home

(posted by LeeAnne)

Navigating Walt Disney World is complicated.

Do you hit Toy Story first or Rocking Roller Coaster? Test Track or Soaring? Expedition Everest or the Safari? We recently returned from a family reunion of sorts where 25 people (!) ranging in ages from eight months to 69 years old rendezvoused at Walt Disney World.

Talk about complicated! Thankfully, the one place almost everyone was happy was dinner.

Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge was one of our favourites. Boma is a buffet, but you won’t find any steam tables with languishing, dried-out food here. Everything is cooked fresh in small batches so it’s as if you ordered everything on the menu- the hard part is choosing where to dig in.

With it diverse food offerings and great setting, surrounded by a savanna with roaming giraffes, Boma should not be missed. It is African-themed, but the culinary delights are internationally influenced. Go if you like high quality food in a great atmosphere.

I loved the watermelon rind salad and the Mulligatawny soup. The soup was so wonderful that I asked the chef for the recipe.

And guess what? He gave it to me! If you can’t jet off to Disney, have a little taste of Boma at home.

(Can you believe that LeeAnne? She went all the way to Walk Disney World just so she could bring home a recipe for you! Check it out over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews. )

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

His Gingerbread Man period

Graham and I were sitting alone at the craft table at the play group the Saturday before last.

All the other kids were enjoying circle time together, but having given up trying to get my little non-conformist to join in, I had turned my attention to the paper gingerbread man he was working on.

The table was littered with examples other children had created. Two eyes positioned roughly where one would expect to find them, circles for noses, moon-shaped cut-outs for smiley faces and woolly hair glued - yup! - right on top of the head.

But, despite my enthusiastic exhortations, Graham had his own ideas about how his man (woman?) should look.


At first I felt just a little down, resigned if you will, to the increasingly obvious fact that Graham is destined to spend his life swimming against the tide.

But then, the more I looked at his creation, the more it reminded me of something.

There was a certain style, a certain flair that was oddly familiar.

Hmmm, let's see, where had I seen something like it before?

Oh wait - I know!

Yeah...I think my boy's gonna be just fine.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

How I learned to stop worrying and start loving McDonald's

Last winter Ronald and I had a huge falling out - HUGE.

As a result I wrote a nasty letter that I still consider one of my finest literary endeavors. And then he said sorry. And we made up. And it was all for the greater good.

But I was still wary, you know? He just wasn't someone I wanted to get to know intimately or hang out with on a regular basis.

Until now.

Until I discovered that a new fast food restaurant located just blocks from my home has a two storey, state-of-the-art playground and climbing gym. And that Graham will happily play there (with other kids!) for hours leaving me to watch him whilst contentedly settled into a cushy seat with my newspaper.

How did I not realize this before?

It was only last week when, despairing of another cold and snowy evening trying to pry Graham away from the television, I ventured there for the first time. When he first stepped into the play area he was nervous, but within minutes was screeching like a banshee and running around like mad trying to keep up with the other kids. Graham barely noticed when I retreated to my newspaper and later he chattered all the way home about his "little buddies."

And so when this past Saturday dawned cold and wet and Rob was sleeping off a night shoot, it only took a few choruses of "But mommy please, all the children are waiting for me!" (for real!) before I relented and made a return trip.

This time he dashed in the door and very nearly into the arms of a girl just a little older than him who hugged him and exclaimed "Oh look! A new friend for me!"

And once again I settled with my paper onto a stool, this time beside a stocky, friendly-faced man with a thick Hungarian accent who I soon learned was the father of Graham's new girlfriend.

"Thank God for McDonald's, eh? We have no other child at home. Where else can she meet kids and run around and play like this on a Saturday in the winter?"

I couldn't think of anywhere else.

So I sipped my coffee and nodded in agreement. And before long we got to chatting he and I, about raising kids, about our own childhoods, about parenting here as opposed to in Europe and about our similar fears for our only children and how important we felt it was for them to socialize with others.

And we sat like this for over two hours talking and watching our children and laughing when they alternately popped out for quick bites to eat and hugs and breathless recaps of the games they were playing.

Sure I felt like a hypocrite, or worse, a cliche, relinquishing my cool, to say nothing of my cherished objections to mass marketed cheeseburgers and play areas, for a chance to read my paper and drink my coffee in peace. Apparently I am just like all the moms who came before me, to whom I used to secretly or perhaps not-so-secretly assume myself vastly superior.

But I don't care.

I'll probably take Graham back again this weekend: he loves it there and, God help me, I kinda do too.

I can't explain exactly why, but I feel inexplicably that last Saturday was exactly what this overextended, harried, career woman needed: to sit for hours in a fast food restaurant, sip coffee and chat with an amicable stranger with whom I have nothing and yet everything in common.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Look at my beaver!

Well lookie here!

Yup - I am proud to announce that Don Mills Diva was awarded the silver for Best Family Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards.

A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you who voted for me: a lot of the time I can scarcely believe anyone actually reads this site, so an award like this is truly an honour.

A special thanks to my friend Peter over at Peasant Arts who wrote this hilarious post urging people to vote for me: it cracked me up! Not only is he a talented sculptor (look for him at Canada Blooms in March 2009) he is a comic genius.

And also, as long as we're handing out thank yous, here's one from my dear friend Sheona McDonald. She's the producer and director of Capturing A Short Life, the wonderful film on infant loss, that I wrote about last week. Sheona writes:

"Thank you Kelly, for posting about this for me and for everyone's thoughts and comments. The show had a really high viewership (which was really surprising and encouraging) and really positive feedback.I would love to get it shown in the States beyond festivals and conferences, but haven't yet been able to get any broadcasters to bite. When I have time I will start to hit up the local PBS networks.It's not available on the net because it goes against the broadcast license.

Also, as a result of the numbers and feedback it will likely broadcast again sooner than later, Feb or Mar...if you want to encourage this re-broadcast, you can email CBC directly (they are reading and responding) or post on the CBC discussion board at "

Cheers! And thanks again everyone!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

My Vanity Fair cover?

Over the past year or so you have read many of my ruminations on what the future holds for my darling boy.

At different times he has displayed traits that had me imagining his future as a structural engineer, a celebrated artist and even, in my lower moments, a bathroom attendant.


Yeah, well, forget all that. Because this unretouched photograph?

Graham took it.

That's right. My son, the barely-three-year-old-but-nonetheless-soon-to be-world-famous photographer, took it.

For serious.

Move over Annie Leibovitz: there's a new shooter in town.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

And the Gargoyles go to...

The winners of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle are up over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews...

Check it out!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Angel Time

It is a lovely song, far more affecting and restrained than you would expect to find on a children's Christmas compilation from Walt Disney records.

The CD liner is long gone, so I know only that the song is called Angel Time and it's a rather stirring ballad sung by a woman with a strong, lilting voice.

And for whatever reason this song has found its way into my son's tender heart and moved him more than he can understand or fully express.

The first time Graham heard it, I noticed him perk up and listen intently.

"Is that you singing mommy?"

God bless his indiscriminate little soul: he's not yet aware of my vocal, ahem, limitations.

"No sweetie, it's not mommy, it's another lady singing."

He nodded, satisfied. "It must be the other mommy then."

The next time the song came on Graham immediately rushed to me. "I want a huggy while I listen to the other mommy," he said, while climbing into my arms.

But it's what Graham did next that floored me.

He started to sob.

Graham wept throughout the entire song. Tears ran down his face as he clung to me, raising his face just a few times to kiss my cheek, before he buried it again in my shoulder.

And after the song ended, he sniffled and composed himself.

"I want to listen to the other mommy again, please mommy."

And I hesitated because I felt confused about whether I should be complicit in something that made my son cry. It seemed strange and upsetting the notion that a mother should orchestrate a scenario that would drive a child into her arms seeking comfort.

But he begged to hear the other mommy sing Angel Time again. And I finally relented and played it, twice more, at his strong insistence.

And each time, as soon as the first notes sounded, he settled into my arms, started to sway to the melody and sobbed as if his little heart would break.

After the third time, I declined to play the song again, so drained was I by his reaction.

"Does that song make you feel sad Graham?" I asked gently.

He just shrugged.

"Does it kind of make you feel sad and happy at the same time?"

He nodded.

And then I got it.

I suddenly understood because I too have been moved by music on countless occasions throughout my life: I cannot get through the Dixie Chicks' version of Landslide without crying and Jack Johnson singing Better Together lifts my heart in a way that gladdens my entire soul.

Despite my lack of singing talent, we are a musical family. There is an abundance of talent on both sides. Sing-a-long evenings involving uncles and aunts and cousins are a regular occurrence. Rob was a local punk-rock hero in his day and my nephew is a budding rock star. My father and brother play guitar, my mother plays piano and I play both.

Music has been responsible for some of the best moments in my life because it is music that has precipitated the moments in which I dare to believe that all the beauty and longing and pain and poignancy of life can somehow be universally expressed and understood.

And I think more than anything else that Graham has learned, it is this - this dawning realization of the power of music - that makes me the most proud of the person he is becoming.

*Edited to add: I Googled the song but came up with nothing. It is the 6th track on the Christmas at Home CD from Walt Disney Records. If you can determine who actually sings it, let me know!"

*Re-edited to say still not sure of artist but it's a woman, not Chris Martin AND the wonderful Parent Club provided a link to Graham's version here -,,3022293-6385338,00.html - Thanks!*

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Capturing A Short Life

What are you doing tonight at 10 p.m.?

I'd like to suggest that you settle into your couch and watch a moving and life-affirming documentary which was produced and directed by one of my dearest friends Sheona McDonald.

Capturing a Short Life is a film about families dealing with infant loss and it reinforces how important it is to remember and celebrate the lives of children who are on this earth for just a short time. Sheona, herself a mom of two, has broached this subject with astounding grace and sensitivity.

Just a few weeks ago Sheona and her children were at our home helping celebrate Graham's birthday and the subject of the film came up. "It must have been so difficult to make," my mother observed.

But Sheona's answer was not what you would expect.

"It was actually easy in some ways," she said. "Because people are desperate to tell their stories. They want to be acknowledged as parents. As a society we don't know how to talk about the death of a child, so these parents never get a chance to talk about their child's life."

And that's just the kind of sensitivity and perspective that Sheona brings to the film.

"We have, on the whole, desensitized ourselves to violence. Images of war, stories of rape, destruction, murder, child-abuse, etc seem to fill the landscape of our news and media and we have become used to those images," she added in an e-mail to me today.

"We accept them and seem, somehow, to process them. There are no violent, graphic, bloody images in CASL and yet so many are afraid to watch because of the fear of what? The emotion? The fact that this can happen here, to us, our friends, family, neighbors?"

Capturing A Short Life makes its television premiere at 10 p.m. Tuesday, December 9th on CBC Newsworld's Series The Lens. You can also learn more about the film by visiting its web site.

I will be watching (for the second time - I was at a screening last winter) and I hope you will be too.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Real housewife of Don Mills meets Real Housewife of NYC

I had it all planned.

It was going to be a snark-down of epic proportions: the Don Mills Diva vs. A Real Housewife of New York City.

I mean, have you seen the show? Taking down Alex McCord was going to be my pleasure. When I heard that she was writing a parenting book and her publicist was seeking an interview I could barely contain my glee. She was vacuous! Status-obsessed! And, despite the fact that she is a mom to two young sons - Johan and Francois - completely clueless!

Oh, it was going to be sweet alright. I would write a landmark piece, eloquent and scathing. She would be exposed as foolish and presumptuous and I would be hailed for my rapier wit.

Too bad Alex McCord had to ruin my plans by being kinda cool.

Come on, you're dying to know what happens when the gal from Don Mills meets the gal from NYC! Click on over to my Shooting for Hip column at Better Than A Playdate to find out!

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Believing in the extraordinary

A truly extraordinary book makes you believe things your logical mind knows are impossible.

A truly extraordinary book is a rare find. I used plow my way through dozens and dozens of books in search of one so magical that I would happily spend days lost in its thrall.

But since Graham's birth and the resultant time crunch, I have discovered few.

And I have missed it.

I have missed the way in which an extraordinary book makes the world seem more exotic and full of possibility. I have missed being awestruck by the evocative power of a masterful wordsmith and the unfettered imagination of a gifted storyteller.

I have missed books like The Gargoyle.

Head on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews to read more about Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle and enter for your chance to win a copy of the hottest literary debut in years.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

If I win I'll make you Secretary of State...

I have my limits.

I'm not quite shameless enough to post another heart-wrenching photo of Graham in the hopes that it will compel you to cast your vote for Don Mills Diva in the final round of the Canadian Blog Awards.

So I've skipped the photo in favor of a simple plea.

It seems this site is among the top five in contention for Best Family Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards and I'd very much appreciate your support in the final round. You can vote by clicking here:

Click on the circle beside Don Mills Diva and hit the vote button at the bottom.

Thanks a lot!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

And the night shall be filled with music

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.

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