Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I apologize for the silence, but I don't know what to say other than thank you, thank you, thank you for all your heartfelt comments and e-mails expressing your concern for my family.

My father-in-law remains in hospital with a bleeding ulcer and perhaps more. He is undergoing a battery of tests and right now we have more questions than answers.

We did stay in Quebec for a few days and attempted to enjoy our time with Graham. Despite the fact that he decided he didn't like poutine (!) he had the time of his life.

And that?

That was enough. That is enough right now.

How could it not be?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Rob's dad is in the hospital.

We aren't certain exactly what is wrong, but he isn't doing so well. Rob's brother and sister-in-law are with him. He is undergoing a series of tests and we are vacillating between whether to stay in Quebec and try to maintain some sense of normalcy for Graham or to make the almost eight-hour drive home the day after our arrival.

Needless to say Rob and I are finding it difficult to eat or sleep, let alone relax.

Universe, God, Karma, whoever or whatever you are?


Just uncle.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zut alors! Mah nez est sore


Oh my Lord, the sick.

I know it's just a summer cold, but good God I am miserable.

I am poking out from behind my pile of used kleenex to say that we three - Rob, Graham and the congested diva - are headed to Mont Tremblant, Quebec tomorrow to celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day and to enjoy some much needed family time.

Graham is ecstatic at the prospect of trying his first poutine: I am practising saying "Sorry I'm such a snotty mess" en Francais.

Will try to post pics.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Despite my recent assertions to the contrary, had you been in the parking lot of my local supermarket last night you would most certainly have wondered if I were a bad mother.

You would most certainly have been shocked at the sight of me, right down in my child's face, screaming at him at the top of my lungs. You would most certainly have wondered why I continued to rant and rave long after the wee thing ducked his head away from me and long after tears started to flow down his ruddy cheeks.

You might not have realized that I was more frightened than I have ever been in my life.

Graham and I had stopped off at the supermarket on the way home to pick up the steaks for the barbecue and, as usual, I was pretty lax about letting him gleefully race up and down the aisles. This store is not the one where I saw my life flash before my eyes, it's a small, local store where I've been going for years and where everyone knows both of us by name.

Once into the busy parking lot however, as is my habit, I clutched Graham's hand tightly, pointed out all of the moving cars and sternly admonished him to stick close to my side.

Except he didn't.

Just a few steps out of the door he shrugged off my hand and ran ahead of me with a mischievous giggle.

"Graham!" I shouted. "Get back here right now, Graham!"

But he ignored me and continued running.

And then I saw the car.

The car was backing out of a parking spot at a rapid pace, the kind of jerky, jaunty pace a driver sets when they are absolutely certain there is absolutely nothing in their path.

Except there was.

I dropped my groceries and started to run, only vaguely aware that my screaming had a throaty, desperate quality that sounded unlike anything that had ever come out of my mouth before.

But Graham didn't stop.

There was a sickening screech of brakes just as the car's back bumper kissed Graham's back. As I ran towards him, the woman driver turned and caught my eye: the terror on her face was a perfect reflection of what I was feeling.

Oblivious, Graham turned to me, casually patted the car and giggled.

That's when I lost it.

I have never yelled at Graham like I yelled at him then. I yelled at him for a good five minutes in the parking lot and I yelled at him all the way home.

I gave my anger and my fear full license because I wanted Graham to remember it. I wanted to traumatize him, to cement in his head that bad things, very, very bad things happen when little boys run into the paths of speeding cars.

It wasn't until we pulled into our driveway that I lost steam. Graham was sobbing quietly and I was teary-eyed. I parked, released him from his car seat, brushed his tears away and hugged him to me tightly.

"Mommy was so scared Graham. You ran right into a car back there, right into a car."

He sniffed and buried his head further into my shoulder.

"You could have been killed Graham, do you understand that?"

More sniffles.

I brushed away my own tears.

"I love you more than anything in the world Graham. If something had happened to you back there Mommy's heart would be broken forever. Do you understand that?

Mommy's heart would be broken forever".

And we hugged then for a good long time before he raised his tear-stained face.

"I understand Mommy, I understand."

He doesn't, of course, but such is the nature of children and of childhood.

I can only pray my son, and my heart, survives it intact.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I have a confession to make.

Over the last several weeks I have felt deeply ambivalent about my plans to attend the BlogHer conference in Chicago this year.

When I bought a ticket three months ago I had no idea that the dates would fall right in the middle of the time we are embarking on a major move into a new home. And that they would fall during a week when my husband expects to be back working 14-hour days. And that they would fall just before the week Graham's babysitter has booked holidays.

We have so much going on during that time period, that the last few weeks I started to think that the logistics of actually skipping out to Chicago in the middle of it all was just an impossible indulgence.

And so this past weekend, despite the fact that I had already made plans to car pool with a great bunch of Toronto bloggers and room with this lovely lady, I started to seriously think about just selling the ticket and taking care of the mountain of business I face here at home.

Then I got an e-mail yesterday...

I'm Speaking at BlogHer '09

So...umm...yeah...I guess I'm going.

And...umm...I guess I'm going to read a commentary post in front of about...gulp...1,000 people at the Community Keynote.

Hold me?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's all good

So busy have I been first defending myself and then pointedly ignoring the firestorm that this post helped ignite throughout the Interwebs, I have been lax in sharing some pretty special and decidedly less controversial happenings in my world.

Remember last year when I reflected on my nephew's coolness and, ahem, where he possibly could have gotten it?

Well, he did it again.

He and his band mates organized the second annual Toucapolooza June 6th, a concert event which this year raised $1,500 for Foster Parents Plan Canada. It was also announced at the show that his high school is designating an annual scholarship named after the event and awarded to a student who shows the same kind of community spirit my nephew has demonstrated.

Can you feel the pride?

He's almost 19 years old, off to college in the fall and ready to tackle all that life has to offer. I'm so excited for him I can barely stand it and I can't help but harken back to my salad days when I first fled the coop and started plotting world domination.

Back then this was hanging on my wall.

I was so proud of it.

After buying the poster at a retro video store, I hauled the frame out of a trash pile, painted it pink and proudly hung it on the wall of my first apartment, convinced I was never more avant garde and stylish.

Ack...not so much.

At any rate, we are starting to clear things out for our move and it was with just a tiny twinge of melancholy and regret, that last week I placed the above on our front lawn, free for the taking.

And it was with just a tiny twinge of pride that I noted that someone snapped it up in less than an hour.

But I didn't really have a lot of time to reflect on the past this past weekend, as Rob was away helping his brother open the cottage and I designated all day Saturday and Sunday as special mommy and Graham time, which basically meant we were on the go, doing all my boy's favorite things from morning to night both days.

There was a play-date with his new favorite girlfriend, a haircut (yes, he likes haircuts now, despite this), a trip to his favorite restaurant (which mommy has learned to love), a visit to a water park and to a farm.

There were several games of hide and seek, a trip to the playground beside the new house, a bath in mommy and daddy's jacuzzi tub, a kids meal on a hopping patio and at least two ice cream cones.

It was, in short, a perfect weekend for both of us and the perfect reminder for me that no matter who beats me up on line, my mothering and my life is all goooooood.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Christmas gift in June

Have you ever been preparing a full Christmas dinner at the beginning of June when you suddenly stumble across a product that fills you with holiday cheer?

Me neither.

But LeeAnne has and she's talking about it over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews. Check it out and while you're at it, follow her on Twitter so you can check out all her antics and activities as the food editor for Canadian Family magazine - http://twitter.com/LeeAnnecooks.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 8, 2009

He ain't heavy

My big brother is the quintessential nice guy.

He's the kinda guy who takes time out from his work day and brings his dump truck around in hopes that his beloved nephew might want a ride.

He's the kinda guy who tells you quite sincerely that he'd be more than happy to clear a day from his schedule, drive two hours to your house and help you move.

He's such a nice guy that he really, truly, thinks that Graham could have a bright future as a cake decorator.

Happy birthday Russell - we love you.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, June 5, 2009

Why the bad mother trend is not good

At the risk of appearing terribly outdated and completely out of step with what the media has apparently identified as the latest trend sweeping the mom crowd, I'd like to step up and declare something publicly.

I am a good mom.

Shocking isn't it?

I don't think so either, but having been inundated these last several months by the idea that the "in" thing is to declare yourself as a bad parent, the rebel in me just wanted to be clear about how I feel.

And, for the record, I feel really very irritated.

I'm irritated that once again the latest in "how moms feel" has been identified as a brand-new trend, ripe for the picking by a seemingly endless parade of "parenting issues" reporters who fill ever-expanding lifestyle sections of media outlets with breathless prattle about new maternal archetypes.


There's the news that a compilation of the popular Bad Parent columns over at Babble will be made into a book, there's Ayelet Waldman's much-publicized new book, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace and today there was this story in my local paper in which the director of the Association for Research on Mothering at York University (really!) cheerily quips " "If you're not a bad mom now, then you're a bad mom."

Double blech.

To be clear, I'm not taking issue with Her Bad Mother, the existence of which predates this latest frenzy to identify and make a buck off how moms are feeling . Catherine Connors is a real life friend and an astonishingly talented writer and I will consider any publicity she and her brilliant blog gets from this bandwagon to be the silver lining in a dark and sorry media cloud.

What I'm taking issue with is the endless push by the media to track, monitor and commodify trends among all segments in society and most especially the lucrative mommy crowd. It's big business. Trends create controversy, trends sell stories and books and trends provide jobs for pundits. Identifying trends also allow us to peg whole segments of society, take their measure, sum them up, add a big, red bow and walk away thinking we know how people tick.

But the thing is, we don't. All we've done is helped a very few people figure out how to sell something to other people who pride themselves on chasing trends. And when we participate in this we participate in the attempt to turn every damn thing into a "trend" and to marginalize the voices of people with experiences that differ from what's being reported.

Maybe I shouldn't care what the latest lifestyle headlines read, but damnit this is my history too that's being written and this bad mom trend is just another in a long line of trends that future generations will look back on and use to try and understand my experience and the experiences of my generation.

And it's not my experience. I don't think I'm alone in declaring that I'm not a bad mom and I have no desire to identify myself as a bad mom. In fact, I'm a very good mom and I'm proud of it. I have my struggles, like everyone, and while I might occasionally write about them in a humorous fashion, I'm not interested in endlessly tapping the vein of faux self deprecation for shock value or cheap laughs or sympathy.

Or to be trendy.

I understand that the "bad mom" trend is meant to be a backlash against the old "perfect mom" trend or what the above-linked Toronto Star article calls "impossible standards" for parents but guess what?

I think the so-called "widespread pressure" to be a perfect mom and the old trend of "impossible parenting standards" are nothing but made-up media constructs too. I've never felt societal pressure to be a perfect mom and no one has ever asked or, to my knowledge ever expected, me to conform to impossible standards. And also? I've asked around and none of my friends have either. Instead we all just vaguely recall the media prattling on about some kind of supermom phenomenon.

Whatever. I've written about this media beast before with regards to the much-ballyhooed and, in my opinion largely made-up, "mommy wars".

I think we owe it to the next generation of women to refuse to conform to the labels the media would stick on us, whether they say bad mom, supermom, helicopter mom, free-range mom or whatever damn mom sells papers and books next week.

When I was coming of age as a woman I read the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. Those books helped me find my way and establish my identity by providing thought-provoking, reasoned, philosophical discourse about the lives and struggles of women who had gone before me.

It bothers me that the next generation of women may well take my measure by studying media trends and reading a compilation of Bad Parent columns.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I am so mad at her right now.

I feel I have been abandoned in the country of lost male souls.

A country where every day my son asks plaintively where his Oma has gone. A country where my husband uses forced cheer and industry to try and cope as weeks of unemployment slip into months. A country where my father in law, who often dines with us, slips into red-eyed reverie while I try and make small talk and force him to take seconds.

I don't know how to be anything but angry. For weeks now each day on my commute home from work I have spoken aloud: asking her, begging her, to please help me look after the boys she has left behind. I have implored her for some kind of sign that she is looking out for us, for some kind of peace that will allow us to accept and move forward.

But she hasn't responded.

And so I have taken to wondering (and bitterly so, to my shame) if she couldn't have just fought a little harder to stay here on earth with us. I have taken to wondering why she doesn't visit us in our dreams and infuse us with a mythical sense of serenity or when she will orchestrate for us a stroke of luck so joyful and unexpected that we can't deny her hand in our fate.

But she hasn't responded.

I know my anger is illogical. Several weeks after her death Rob and his brother met with her doctor who revealed that her cancer was far rarer, swifter and more cruel than anyone first imagined: we know now that she never stood a chance.

But I still feel angry; if only because the anger is easier to bear than the fear that, without her, neither do we.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Paging Art Linkletter

My kid may still refuse to poop on the potty.

My kid may still expect a parade in his honour four times daily when he deigns to pee on the potty.

But my kid?

Has manners, folks, manners in spades.

Just a few nights ago, after helping him on the potty and (as per usual) thanking him profusely for being such a big boy and letting mommy know when he had to go he responded thusly...

"No, no, no, NO SIRREEE! I say thank YOU mommy...for making sure that my penis was behind the pee guard."


And they say parenting is thankless.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 1, 2009

Light my fire

Honestly, I think I'm still blushing.

It's true that I did agree to test drive a Romantic Kit for adults from Eden Fantasys, but actually writing about the kit, and the use thereof, ended up being much harder than I thought it would be.

And no - that was NOT meant to be a pun!

Oh lordy, let's just say if you're interested in that...ahem...sort of thing, you can read all about it over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews.

Stumble Upon Toolbar