"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tips for MOB's

I have decided that we Mothers of Boys, must stick together, so I, therefore, am starting the definitive list for MOB survival. Please feel free to add to it if you have anything, other than a good Cabernet, to suggest.

1. Buy a Air Popcorn Popper - air popped corn is healthier, cheaper and you can make vast quantities when each of your boys bring home another boy or two after school.

2. Buy mitts, gloves & hats in bulk. They always get lost.

3. When someone offers to take one of your boys off your hands, always say "Yes!"

4. Every once in a while buy your middle or youngest something brand new. It doesn't have to be expensive, just something that is only for him.

5. When in doubt, go with the flow. If they all want to take off their clothes and run through the sprinkler, let them. Anything goes - within reason.

6. Keep anti-bacterial wipes near every toilet. Enough said.

7. If your boys want a pet, consider a gecko. We have one and she (they swear it is a girl, for my sake) is great, no smell, no noise, a very Zen pet. Note of caution though, they do eat live crickets.

8. Encourage each boy to try his own sport or activity, so that they are not always competing with one another. Our eldest is a jock, the middle into music and drama and the youngest, well, we're not sure yet.

This post will be on-going, but I would really love to hear other MOB's input. So please feel free to add your ideas.

Remember - Strength in Numbers!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rebecca Eckler is Back!

Oh, how I have missed cringing at the musings of dear old Rebecca. I am quite sure that the National Post's imminent demise is as a result of her focusing on novel writing and being a "yummy" albeit single, mummy rather than on her column. But she did pop back into my Saturday morning reading with her piece on crashing the Giller Prize Bash. The Giller Prize is Canada's richest literary award and the party is the "must have" invite of the year for the literati. Poor Rebecca's "Toddlers Gone Wild" was somehow left off of the short list and her invitation lost in the mail. But she decided that as a member of the press corp she should attend.

Of course no one stopped her from walking into the reception and she was even so brazen as to find an empty spot at one of the tables for the dinner. After which she cruised the room until she spotted Margaret Atwood, Canada's literary lioness. Eckler quickly honed in on her and reported that Peggy (as Eckler refers to Ms Atwood) told her to stand up and commented on how "skinny" Eckler is. Code in Rebecca's rich fantasy life for great writer.

There you have it in a nutshell, Eckler once again points out to her nationwide audience that:

a) she is still a size zero and
b) Margaret Atwood loves her writing?!

Oh, how I have missed Eckler's self absorbed prose.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rock Canadian Voters

I know we don't have as a deep political divide here in Canada as has developed in the U.S. and maybe that is why we have become so complacent, why it seemed no one even bothered to vote in the last election. But, of course, we will have another one sooner rather than later since that is the way minority governments inevitably come to an end. So what can we do in Canada to get voters out and "Rock the Vote?" We have movie stars and musicians who are cool and who young people listen to. I probably couldn't name current ones at my rapidly advancing middle age but but I know they are out there. Why can't we make it cool to vote, cool to care about politics? I know we won't have a inspiring "Yes We Can" candidate like Obama. But hopefully the Liberals will be able to choose someone from their rat pack who can speak both official clanguages and who will be able to challenge Harper.

It seems like the NDP always seems to have a leader whom people agree would make a good Prime Minister if only he was the leader of the Conservatives or the Liberals. Remember Ed Broadbent? I think he had the highest approval rating and got the most seats ever in the house for the NDP, but of course he was head of the NDP which, in our left-leaning society, is pretty far left. And while they have managed to govern successfully in a number of provinces, let's just not discuss the Ontario NDP governement. But how can we not when Bob Rae, the NDP Premier of Ontario, namesake of the hated "Rae Days" is running for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party. That is Canadian politics for you. Party lines do become blurred quite often which, Belinda Stronach aside, isn't always a bad thing.

So finally we have one of those good guy NDP leaders in the running for the chance to be in the running for PM. His main rival? A former Harvard prof. Not a bad match for Stephen "Reach for the Top Contestant" Harper.

See, we Canadians, have always (well, almost always) had smart people running for office, they just aren't always the most inspiring. Trudeau aside, and I don't think that Justin or "Trudeau Lite" is quite up to the challenge and I definitely think that Ben Mulroney should keep his day job. But if our leaders can't get us excited about voting then maybe Jim Carrey could, or Mike Meyers, or the guys from the Tragically Hip or the Bare Naked Ladies or a few hockey players. I hope that when the next election rolls around someone out there in the marketing world figures out that if we are going to keep this democracy thing going that we are going to have to get the Gen Xers or Yers or whatever the 18 to 30 year olds are called, excited about the polical process in our country. Let all those smart university students who are away from home, often in another province, know how they can still vote. Make it easy for them. Make it exciting. I know we don't have computerized touch screens or levers to pull like at a casino, but the old "put an X next to the person you want to be in government" isn't such a bad system. At least our elections, of late anyways, haven't ended up being decided by the Supreme Court.

We have seen, leading up to and during the past eight years, what can happen when people stop caring who is running their country. The Americans got what they deserved in George W.
Twice. But this last time they woke up and people got out to vote because they believed it mattered. The change may not come about right away, as Obama has said, but they have taken the first step and hopefully, for all our sakes, it will come.

In Canada we can sit by and complain that we don't have a leader like Obama but someone once said that voters get the leader they deserve and until we start acting like we care we will be stuck with just that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

This makes me want to cry

When asked about the new Amazon Kindle product, Steve Jobs CEO of Apple computer had this to say: "It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

This is the saddest statistic I have ever read! My friends ask me how I have time to read so many books? I have never tried to count the number I read in a year, 100 maybe? I say, how can I not find the time to read them? I get antsy when I don't have a book on the go. I read very fast and yes, I do skim through the bits that don't interest me, but if a book is well written I read every word. I do reread some books, but mostly because I haven't got a new one to start. I love everything from literary novels to essays to non fiction to British chick lit. See some of my all time favourites on my bookshelf, I'll add more as I read them.

My biggest challenge right now is getting my boys hooked on reading. My Number 1 son who is 10 is finally reading on his own every night but he is only interested in books about hockey. Fortunately there are a couple of series, the first is the Screech Owls by Roy MacGregor and we just found a new one called the Mitchell Brothers that he seems to like. He even picked up the biography of Walter Gretsky, Wayne's father and has been slogging through that for the past six months.

Our middle son (age 8), who is a better reader but still only wants to be read to, has a flair for the dramatic and I know that once we find something to hook him with he will be like I was as a kid and read non stop. He just found the set of the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and I am hoping that since he has seen the two movies he will get right into the book. I also have the most amazing collection from my aunt of the original Frank L. Baum "Wizard of Oz" books which go far beyond Dorothy and the Scarecrow that I know Number 2 will love. The real challenge is Number 3 (age 6) who is struggling in Grade 1 with learning to read and I think that it is causing him to act out in class. I know he can do it but his teacher is using a Whole Language program and, as a former Montessori teacher, I know that the only way to give kids confidence in reading is to learn phonetically. I guess I will have to dust off my old teaching aids and get going with him.

If stranded on a deserted island I would gladly give up almost anything to have a supply of books. I almost went crazy when I was on an Outward Bound 18 day canoe trip and since we had to carry everything ourselves I couldn't bring too many books with me. But I did manage to bring a few and was able to trade with other readers in my group. I also smuggled one in my sleeping bag when we were each dropped off at separate campsites for our 48 hour "Solo." I wasn't worried about bears, although the thought did cross my mind as I sat in the middle of a blueberry patch, but I was scared of 48 hours alone with my thoughts and no one to talk to. I wrote in my journal and we were all encourage to write a letter to ourselves that they sent to us a year later. This was 20 years ago right after I graduated from university, I should dig around and see if I can find that letter. I did read on that trip and I haven't stop reading since. I don't understand people who go to a place like the doctor's office or on the subway where they have to sit and wait and don't bring anything to read (I will even read those 10 year old Reader's Digests.) For me a book is like some people and their cell phones today, I can't go anywhere with out one.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Coffee and Christmas

Okay, okay, so it seemed like a good idea, the giving up coffee but then I asked myself, why? I only drink about a cup and a half (okay it’s a large mug and a half) a day and I really like it. I think the reason why was because when we were travelling I didn’t enjoy the coffee at the different places we stayed at, or we were too rushed getting out the door so I couldn’t sit and read the paper (which I do try to do in the mornings, I just tune out the uproar in the kitchen and my darling husband makes the lunches some days now!) But I love having my coffee made in the mornings and for someone who doesn’t drink it, he does an amazing job.

So there, I think that is my blog post for today, it’s another spectacular day here, over 20 C and sunny. Last one though, I think, rain and then snow on the weekend. Oh well, at least I won’t be as pissed off that it is dark a half an hour after the kids get home so they hardly have a chance to enjoy it. Whose bright idea (no pun intended) was it to switch the time to make it darker during the shortest days of the year? I can handle getting up in the dark but I hate looking at the clock and thinking it must be dinnertime when it is only 4:30pm. It just makes me want to curl up in a ball and eat and drink more. But I am back into cooking soups and I think I might have to get the crock pot out soon.

On the bright side it is only 48 days til Christmas and I have said yes to having our house on the local Christmas House Tour on December 6th. Hopefully there is snow becasue this house looks perfect (on the outside) covered in snow. This will be the incentive I need to get out my paintbrush and touch up all the damage on the trim that the boys have inflicted over the past year since we moved in and had every board of knotty pine covered with Benjamin Moore "Cloud White."

And it is about time I did something new on the Christmas decor front, I have been very good at reusing and recycling old bows and ribbon but have basically had the same decorations up for the last eight years. This might be fun and then we will definately have to have a party.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Giving Up Coffee

I just realized that I need to update my "5 Simple Pleasures." I have, as of two days ago, given up my morning cup of coffee. For no other reason than I wanted to see if it made any difference in how I feel. So far the only thing I have felt is a splitting headache but I don't know if that is from caffeine withdrawl or the radical change in the weather. It is over 20 Celcius today. Too hot for November, no one knows what to wear. Of course my kids never gave up their shorts so now they are insufferable, "Gee Mum, you said we had to wear mitts and hats to school."

But back to my coffee detox. While we were away last week I was having all kinds of stomach pains which usually accompany me on long trips in the car and lots of rich food and drink but when we got to our friends' house in Maine I noticed that Chris was drinking straight out of a bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider, taking a swig before we went out to dinner. I asked why and he said it was all a part of his getting healthy routine. Last spring at age 45, Chris suffered a stroke. It was a real wake up call for a guy who has always been a big man and lived life large in every way. But since then he has recovered and has made a real effort to change his lifestyle. He still enjoys eating out and fine wine but he is taking care of himself so that, as he said, "I am around to watch my children grow up."

So I thought maybe I'd try the apple cider shot and amazingly it seems to be working, I took a swig three times a day for the rest of our trip and my stomach was fine. Now that we are home again I thought that maybe I'd try to make some other changes and cutting out coffee is one of them. Maybe not forever but just to see if after two weeks I notice any difference. I am not one to go whole hog about anything, diet or exercise but I did miss my Pilates classes and tried to do some stretching each day, especially after four or five hours in the car. And now that the time has changed and it is dark at 4:30pm it is harder to get motivated to do anything other than climb into bed and watch TV. So if I can give up coffee will I have more energy? I'll have to survive the headaches first.
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