"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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Olympic Torch in Our Town

At 7:30am we hit the local diner for breakfast and then went out into the frigid
(-20C with the windchill) morning air to wait for the Torch.
The van reads -
106 Days
45,000 kms
12,000 Bearers
Check out the website for lots more wintery torch photos that will give you the shivers

The kids ran alongside the unknown (to me anyways) Torch Bearer

It was a thrill to see the flame up close

Onward to Vancouver

Saturday, December 26, 2009

To Keep Away the Post Christmas Blues

If you haven't seen this, I dare you not to smile.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pass this Christmas Wish Along

Otin has once again opened my eyes to someone new who has a request for all us, far and not so far, flung bloggers. Go to Beth's blog and see what you can do on this Christmas Eve to make a child's wish come true. Just try not to mess up your keyboard if you, like me, can't hold back the tears, then go and hug your children really, really tight.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And now a Public Service Announcement

For those of you out there with computer literate, but not necessarily savvy, children and you haven't heard of Common Sense Media go there now. This website of movie, game, book and TV reviews has become my on-line bible for what to let my boys watch, play and even read. And the best part is they think that the age appropriateness guides are somehow enforceable by an invisible police force which will swoop down into our home and unplug all the screens if they are caught with anything rated over age 12. If Common Sense Media says "The Hangover" is for ages 17+ then end of discussion, as opposed to when I say that it is not a kid's movie and all I get is , "But Mum, everyone in my class has seen it." It provides parents points to talk about with their kids before or after you have watched, played or read. It rates language, sexual content and even consumerism which helps to make our children (and ourselves) more informed about why and what advertisers and producers are putting in their "products."

So as we careen headlong into the post-Christmas orgy of DVD-watching, movie theatre-going and handheld-gaming visit their website and check out the thoughtful review of the only movie my kids really want to see over the break,. If nothing else it gives us adults ammunition (not to mention, confidence) to sit down and talk with our kids about what they are being bombarded with 24 hours a day. I'm heading over there right now to make a donation on behalf of my children. Funny how these sorts of sites that are actually making a difference in our media-saturated lives aren't the ones being bought up for billions of dollars by google or Bill Gates.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bah Humbug

My f**king Blackberry won't charge. How much do you want to bet that there is no way to fix it and I will have to buy a new one? There is no prize for the winning answer.

Next up - my scathing condemnation of Volvo's electronic keys which don't start cars and result in hundreds of dollars in repairs and two weeks without said car while waiting for a part from Sweden. It's a Volvo, for god's sake, whatever happened to "They're boxy but they're good"?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Wordless Wednesday

The weather outside is frightful

But in here it's so delightful

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just when you think no one is reading

The only thing better than seeing your followers go up is getting an award from a fellow blogger whom you admire. Jen at Harried Mom of Four has bestowed upon me an award and I am beyond thrilled to be thought of as "honest" The great thing about bloggers is you get a sense pretty quickly if they are for real or not. Although why anyone would take or have the time to create an entirely fictional persona is beyond my realm of understanding. But then it might be fun to be a young, single woman living in Australia writing about magazines. But I digress, Jen is definitely one of the real ones and she and I get the same sense of relief that some where across a border someone else is going through the same s**t as me. When my kids were younger a friend of mine moved to St Louis and at the time we wished for some sort of technology (it's called a webcam now) that would let us peer into one another's houses and see that we were both going through the same thing. Instead we would ring each other up at 4 o'clock her time and 5 o'clock mine and tinkle the ice cubes in our glasses and toast one another.

But back to the the award, ten honest things about me:

  1. If I had to give up all foods but one it would be cheese which I know comes in many different forms which is why I chose it

  2. The first blog I followed was naturally nina who couldn't be less like me which was probably why I loved her

  3. I wish I was a morning person but not enough to get up early

  4. I love all my children equally just not necessarily at the same time (if you have more than one you know what I mean)

  5. The real reason I like living in a small town is that I can be a big fish in a little pond, that and I don't ever have to parallel park the Suburban

  6. I really don't like watching hockey whether my son is playing or not

  7. I used to think I looked like Meg Ryan, now I am glad I don't

  8. I worry I will inherit my father's mother's wrinkles but not her metabolism and my mother's mother's metabolism but not her smooth skin and end up looking like a Shar Pei dog

  9. I love end of the world movies & books so I will be renting 2012 when it comes out on DVD, plus I love John Cusak, so what more could I ask for?

  10. One of my new favourite shows is called Lie to Me, really.

Here are my choices - all very different but all very honest (I think)

Alyson at New England Living

Tanis at Attack of the Redneck Mommy (now she is honest on TV)

Koreen at Wacky Mummy

Sarah at Clover Lane

Jess at Drowning in Kids

Friday, December 11, 2009


Thank god for Fridays and Happy Hours, even if it is only 8 in the morning. Thanks to Otin for the shout out on his Spotlight. Cheers to the Wiz and RxBambi for hosting Happy Hour.
Here are a few things that make me happy:
  • Dristan nasal spray - the only thing that has allowed me to sleep the past few nights
  • it's finally winter as it should be just two weeks before Christmas
  • my boys had a sleep over at their aunt & uncles last night ;)
  • the ski hills are opening tomorrow
  • we are going to a proper grown up dinner party tonight
  • snow means no more muddy paw prints on my duvet, now there are just wet spots
  • all the new shows are already in reruns so at least I can catch up on the episodes I missed (of course there were less than six episodes of some shows, what's up with that?)
  • Jen at Harried Mom gave me an award for being honest, stayed tuned for new revelations
  • finally, I think I am officially over my traditional pre-Christmas slump, thanks to Otin and Santa

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Life List

What have I done so far -

Stayed in a Zermatt pensione with a view of the Matterhorn

Lived in three countries

Gone topless on the French Riviera

Driven a vintage convertible Jaguar

Had a French Canadian boyfriend

Saw the Northern Lights

Wandered through the Louvre on my own

Took the car train through the Alps

Spent two nights alone in the woods

Married my high school sweetheart

Made love on the beach

Still to do -

Make love in a canoe

Take my children to live in the south of France

Write a book

Throw a big party for our 25th anniversary - see how many people who were at our wedding come

Ride in a fox hunt

Operator, how can I help you?

The other day our Number One Son was at the arena, where he spends most of his time these days whether he actually needs to be there or not. At first I worried that we were just dropping him off to watch his friends play hockey without being there ourselves but then I realized that one of the perks of living in a small town is that there is always someone there who we know and who will keep an eye on our son (that and he hasn't demanded his own phone "cause everyone else has one") So we'll know practically before he does when he orders fries at the concession stand or if he is talking to a girl. But the other day when he was heading over I thought I should ask him what he would do if he needed to get a hold of us. My husband jumped in and said that he could call us from the pay phone which is one of two left in our town. (The other is in front of the dodgy-looking motel where the Greyhound bus drops off passengers) This suggestion lead to a very interesting conversation between father and son, Baby Boomer and Generation Cell.

"You can call home collect," my Other Half helpfully suggests. Number One looks honestly perplexed.

"From the pay phone outside," his father continues. Now my son looks genuinely confused, as if his father is speaking another language.

"Huh?" is his reply.

My brave partner soldiers on with his explanation, "You just pick up the phone and dial zero and tell the operator you want to make a collect call to our home number."

Now my son is starting to smile, he's figured it out, his Dad is trying to punk him.

"Yeah, right Dad. Why wouldn't I just ask one of my friends or a parent if I can use their phone?"

He walks away smiling and muttering to himself, "Funny Dad. Collect call? Operator? What's an operator?"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Putting on the schnitzel

Last night we decorated the tree, an exercise fraught with danger and delusion. The danger being three over-excited boys all racing through the boxes of ornaments I carefully put away last year each one individually wrapped in tissue paper to get to their favourites and delusional because every year I think we are going to have a "perfect" tree. But this year Number Three Son had us all falling over one another laughing (luckily the tree remained upright) when he asked, if finally, after all the homemade, Popsicle and glitter covered ornaments had been carefully hidden, I mean placed, could we please, please put on the "schnitzel"? We all stopped, looked at him and then as the meaning dawned I laughingly replied "Yes, but no clumping the schnitzel, drape it individually at the end of the branches."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Due to the economy ...

With Christmas bills already piling up higher than the snow banks around here I am seriously considering sitting my children down and saying, "Due to the economy we are going to have to let one of you go." Then I would continue with, "It's not that any one of you in particular hasn't been pulling your weight, in fact none of you have. So this isn't personal, it is purely a financial decision based on the following data."

Who has the most future earning potential? ie. who will most likely to be able to support me in my old age in the style to which I would like to become accustomed.

Number One, if your dream of being a goalie in the NHL comes true you may be my ticket. Number Two, if you use your charm and good looks wisely you could marry well and I would be very happy with my own "granny wing" in your mansion. Number Three, well as my friend who met you moments after your birth once said, "He'll either end up in jail or in a corner office somewhere." So you are a 50/50 split.

Who is likely to cost us the most in educational fees?

Well, since none of you appear to be a scholar this is a tough one. Number One you are a good student but we are banking on a hockey scholarship to an American university so you're okay. Number Two, haven't really shown much aptitude for academia but given your propensity for staying in your jammies for as long as possible combined with a predilection for eating Kraft Dinner morning, noon and night, maybe you are the most likely to stay in a post graduate programme well into your prime earning years. Number Three, after our Grade 2 Parent/Teacher interview this past week, I'm thinking you are a safe bet for the vocational stream where you can take things apart and hopefully learn how to rebuild them. And having a plumber or electrician in the family is alot more useful than a PhD these days.

Who is likely to cost us the most in hospital and orthodontist's fees?

Now I know I live in the land of universal health care but still, did you know that getting a fiberglass as opposed to an old-fashioned plaster cast is extra? And don't get me started on braces. So, Number One, you have already broken one leg, that's your quota and I think goalies are less likely to get smushed in a game than the other players. Number Two, if you don't stop sucking your thumb immediately and not just for the month that you are at summer camp I don't want to think about the pain, I mean cost of your braces. And Number Three, well let's just say you are never getting a motorcycle until you are out from under my roof.

Who is most likely to win it big?

Well, Number One I know you are not a risk taker, you are the typical eldest child, cautious and careful so I don't see you hitting the slots any time soon. Number Two, you have the most likely to become addicted to anything (see thumb sucking above) so the chances of you hitting it big are good but also the chances of you blowing it all right away on another horse race or poker game is 100%. Number Three, you are a risk taker but far more likely to do so in real estate from the way you play Monopoly and I'm okay with living in a hotel on Park Place.

So let's see, to tally up the points, we have Number One Son with three for and one against. Number Two, you have one for and three against and Number Three you have one for and a couple split down the middle.

Now let's go over the severance package we will be offering.

You will have out-placement services to help you update your CV and look for another family. We will provide references along the lines of , "Having known the candidate since conception ..." And we will offer a pay out of a dollar for every grade achieved with an additional loonie for every year in the family (hmmm, Number One's is looking more expensive to let go than keep on)

Now if one of you were to take early retirement from the family we would be happy to give you the package but you are on your own in finding a new position elsewhere. I realize that some of you have already been looking elsewhere in light of recent cutbacks and downsizing. The fish were the first to go what with electricity costs to keep their tank warm and we have downgraded from large to small crickets for the gecko. So if you have found a comparable position please feel free to clear out your room and sports equipment from the garage. Security will escort you from the building and make sure that you haven't absconded with any of your brothers' DS games or hockey cards.

In these tough times tough choices have to be made but we feel certain that we will be able to make the best possible decision for all the parties involved. Just look at it this way - if one of you opts out, he can change his birth order position from say, middle or youngest to oldest in another family or you can always play it safe and make a lateral move and remain at your current level.

We wanted to make you all aware of our current thinking and will be getting back to you soon so that we know where our Christmas dollars should be focused. And of course, we will let Santa know of your change of address ASAP.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


On Monday afternoon we tried to get down to the water in time to get some decent shots for our business Christmas card, but better late than never didn't work. The sun dropped down behind the trees just as we got the boat on the beach.

River wasn't too interested in being a model for the shoot, he'd rather roll in dead fish.

Oh well, I guess next year we'll have to do it like the magazines and shoot in August.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I've Been Making a List

I've been making a list and checking it twice but it hasn't helped me with my Christmas shopping so far. But then I came across this comment from Emily of Remodeling This Life on The Nesting Place's post Do Less, Be More and I think it is going to be my motto this year.

"I am buying the kids four things this Christmas - something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read."

It is right on the money, if you'll excuse the pun.

It is so hard to get Christmas right. We all say it isn't about the gifts but turn on the TV or open the paper with all the "Must Have" lists. How is a kid supposed to think that it's not about the getting?

So starting with something they want - that's tough, is it something they really want or something they just think they want? Number Three Son thinks he wants a cell phone, he's seven years old!? What he really wants is a Christmas party with just his friends, I have already agreed to it. So I will be sending the older boys out while he and five buddies decorate ginderbread houses and make "stained glass" candles with tissue paper and play road hockey in the driveway.

Number Two thinks he wants a new gaming system but he really wants is riding lessons so I will wrap up a helmet and give him the little toy horse they gave me last year when I got Jazz for Christmas. (I think that will be the fifth type of helmet he will have, none are multi purpose)

Number Three is a hard one, he says he doesn't want anything and he really doesn't so I will have to think a little harder for him.

Something they need ... hmmmm ... Number One needs a new ski jacket and the one he did say he wanted is expensive so maybe I can kill two birds with one stone with that one. Of course, it is also something to wear but I don't think I can roll them all into one.

Number Two needs a room of his own but that isn't going to happen this year but maybe I can make curtains to go around his bunk so that he has some privacy and he can keep his light on and read a little later than Number Three. And the youngest needs more one on one time with either of his parents so I have to find something that he and I can do together without the other boys.

Now as for something to wear - that's easy, they all go through ski socks, mitts and long underwear as if they were made of paper so I will stock up on all of the above and throw in some cool hoodies and hats to make it fun.

Finally my favourite - something to read. Number One is a bookworm but reads so fast and we are lucky enought to have a wonderful public library that he visits on the way home from school as often as he needs so finding a book that he hasn't read is a little harder. He loves series, devoured Pokemon when he was younger, then the wonderful Screech Owls hockey books by Roy McGregor and now is into the Darren Shan Cirque de Freak which the movie The Vampire's Assistant is based on.

Number Two hasn't taken to reading the way I thought he might but if I get that curtain made he might be more inclined if it means he can stay up later. There must be a horsey series with a boy for a main character out there.

And for Number Three, he is struggling so hard with his reading I want to encourage him with something that he won't find too young and will capture his interest without discouraging him if it's too hard to read. If you have any suggestions for any of the above, please let me know.

So that's the four things for the kids, as for My Other Half who always spoils and surprises me I am always at a loss. Maybe I'll go with the four things for him as well, not that that will make it any easier. Sigh ... let's hope we can stay up late enough on Christmas Eve so we don't get caught stuffing stockings again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thank god it is Wordless Wednesday and I can just put up some photos and do not have to write a proper post. Enjoy!

Number Two Son off to bring Jazz up from the pasture for a ride
( I never get tired of that view)

Number Two and the Jazz King looking very regal in his purple rain sheet

Number Two has taken to riding my gentle giant like he was born on a horse.
To quote him, "Mum, I'm a natural just like you."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meet Me

Hey, check out wenchwire's interview with yours truly. Then go and see who else is talking during the Great Interview Experiment by Citizen of the Month.

(Whew, that was an easy post)

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Interview with WackyMummy

A while back on one of my many, "I'll just click on another blog that so and so reads and see where it takes me" episodes I found myself on Citizen of the Month. It is a very clever blog by Neil Kramer and he started The Great Interview Experiment two years ago. I won't say too much about it as you should go check them out for yourself but I ended up meeting two very interesting bloggers - WackyMummy whom I interviewed and the Wench who interviewed me. Of course I haven't finished answering all of the Wench's though-provoking questions just yet so you will have to stay tuned to find out why I call myself Sybil and what one word describes each member of my family (I promise they won't all be four letter)

But on to Wacky Mummy and her witty answers to my Diane Sawyer-esque questions.

I started with any easy one - What is the difference between a Mummy and a Mommy?

A "u" instead of an "o" (Duh)

Next, a more personal question - When did you get your first camera and what did you take pictures of with it?

Answer? I don't actually remember, but the first one I remember was one that took 110 film. I got my first 35mm when I was 16. I have yet to get a "real camera", one that isn't "point and shoot". Yes, I'm a complete poser. (You'll find this hard to believe when you check out her photos)

Now for the question we all ask ourselves. When and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging about a year and half ago, trying to find a grasp on my life. I was going through a rough patch with feeling so isolates (living in the country, not having nearby friends, not being near anyone I know and loved) and not having a clue with how to be a mom ... I thought it was a shot in the dark to reach out and, through the medium of the internet and bitching about my life, I could connect with others and feel a real sense of kinship and community. And guess what? It worked! I don't subscribe only to so-called "Mommy blogs", but anything that includes humor/sarcasm/irony/photography/kids. I'm very eclectic. I'll ready anything that gets my attention. My favourite things to read right now, other than cereal boxes, are dinosaur encyclopedias (to my son).

And now we get even more personal - Who was your first blog crush?

You'll have to track me down sometime in the future and ask me again. I have yet to have it. I will say that my most memorable crush was David Hasselhoff back when Knight Rider was fresh and new (yes, I am that old ... and that weird), and my most recent (and current) crush is Enrique Iglesias. You can stop puking anytime now.

No puking here, historical crushes are far more interesting. I'll admit to a fascination with the brothers Cassidy. But on to the next question - When your son grows up you want him to be ...?

A major league baseball player.


Because of all the sports franchises they make the most money and have the least chance of dying from impact wounds. What will he actually be? Probably a paleontologist. That's a word he knows.

How would most of your friends describe you?

Friends? I have friends? Where are they? They would call me funny. And high-strung but easy-going. And easy to talk to. And quite neurotic.

How would someone who just met you describe you?

Weird. But easy to talk to. And sweet.

Are you a Maritimer (meaning from or living in the Martime provinces on Canada's east coast) by birth or by choice?

Neither. Is that an answer? Actually technically it's by choice, but in my defense I didn't know what I was getting into, and if I had known today I wouldn't have moved here. I would have stayed in sunny Southern California. But then I wouldn't have had by beautiful soon-to-be paleontologist or attempted blogging. And I've learned so much over the past almost-five years that I should probably be appreciative of that. But I'm not some days. Acceptance is a work in progress.

Thanks to WackyMummy for particpating in the Great Interview Experiment. It was fun meeting and getting to know another blogger working on acceptance and confessing to being neurotic. So go check out Citizen of the Month and read some more of the interviews. It makes the blogosphere a little bit smaller and a whole lot friendlier.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday at the Beach

Sometimes you might want to be alone ....

Or you might want to go swimming ....

Be sure to have a lifeguard (or two)

You never know who else you might find there.
(captions don't count as words, right?)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh, what a night

It's finally over, the fundraiser I had been organizing with a friend for the past three months is done and it was fantastic. All my sleepless nights, almost cancelling when we though no one was going to come - all for nought. People came, over 150 of them and they ate, drank, bid at the auction and danced. Oh, did we dance. It has been far too long since my Other Half and I really let loose. The best part was that I didn't drink much as I was in charge of the auction that didn't start until 10 o'clock so I was sober and when I finally could have a drink or two, it really was only one or two, maybe three and I felt fine in the morning.

It was so much fun to get dressed up and I was even able to put together an outfit from the depths of my closet. A LBD that I bought at Target a couple of years ago fit perfectly and had a great swingy skirt, I threw on a sparkly black cardigan to start the evening in and quickly shed it as we heated up the dance floor. All I had to spring for was a new black bra and a pair of stockings. I was even daring enough to wear stay ups as I hate pantyhose, just had to be sure I didn't twirl the skirt too high. Of course I didn't get a photo of how great everyone looked but we joked that we could have done one of those "How to find the LBD that's right for you" articles. There were six women all different heights and shapes, all in great LBD's and everyone looked fabulous.

It was one of those nights when everything came together, even if it was at the last minute. Something I am, truth be told, known for. We had a great committee but you know the feeling when in the end it all comes down to the ones who said they'd throw the party. My co-host is the most laid back person and nothing phased her. When I thought we should postpone it as ticket sales a week ago were dismal she said, "Even if it's only 75 people, we're having a party." Others got involved, a band was booked and wine ordered and suddenly it happened. We raised about $20,000 for the Medical Clinic being built in our town and showed some community spirit. Even the older crowd who found the band a little loud got out on the dance floor and bid on the ski vacation and golf membership.

At one point I went outside to cool off and looked out at the half moon rising over the Bay and thought, this is why I live here - it is a place where I can be a part of things, help to make a difference and have fun doing it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Christmas Conundrum

I know Halloween has hardly been laid to rest and you south of the border have Thanksgiving to stress over but bare with me while I reminisce about the days when Christmas was about the boxes the gifts came in and the wrapping paper. It was about the shiny lights on the tree and going to the small town Santa Claus parade where the best float was the a flatbed truck with a couple of hay bales thrown on for Mary & Joseph to sit. Back when we had to stay up far too late Christmas Eve assembling the all wooden, Waldorf School-approved barn. When Christmas morning last hours because of all the dollar store animals I hid in the tree and the boys had to find. Now, my boys have never been ones for sleeping in but there was a time, not so long ago that we had to wake them up to open their stockings. (Actually it was their grandfather who had slepAdd Imaget over and had been awake since 4am waiting for them to come and get him.)

Back in the good old days the gifts were plentiful but inexpensive, some blocks, a toy car or two and a Thomas the Tank Engine video (Yes, a video. For a VCR. I told you this was a while back). Then we moved up the gift scale to dinosaur books and figures, stuffed animals and stockings were filled with more dollar store items like plastic tools and Christmas socks and although the Thomas Brio trains weren't cheap, they were made of wood and I have kept every piece.

Then we entered the LEGO era which while more costly at least kept them busy for hours, days and even years later they still play with it making even better ships than the 10 pages of instructions resulted in. Star Wars became the default gift for Christmas and birthdays replacing everything Bat and Spider Men. Videos were replaced by DVD's and the first Game Boy weaseled it's way into our house thanks to a seven year old's broken leg in January.

It's been all down hill since then. And the Inversion Equation of Gifts has begun to apply. The formula applied to all items means that they are getting smaller while costing more and the next generation of Nano or DS or Xbox is out before they even figure out how to work the damn thing. What is wrong with this picture? I got my first clock radio when I was sixteen and I "borrowed" the old cassette player from my Dad's workshop to take to university.

And to add insult to injury last Christmas Eve our eldest, at age 10 (turning 11 a week later) caught us in the act. Yes, The Act. Wrapping presents and signing you-know-who's name on the tags. We thought everyone was asleep, I even went up stairs to listen for irregular breathing. It was the proverbial (literarial?) "not a creature was stirring" hour. So we set to it, got out the separate wrapping paper for the presents from you-know-who and got busy. Not long after I had poured my third glass of Bailey's on the rocks (our traditional Christmas Eve beverage) I heard stirring, then whimpering, then full on wailing and it wasn't carollers outside. It was Number One Son in full melt down.

He really had no idea. This was his 11th Christmas and he still believed. I don't know who was more upset him or me? At first I though, "Aw, come on, you had no idea? No one had said anything at school? No hints or whispers in the playground?" If there were he didn't hear them. We were officially The Worst Parents Ever. It took him an hour to calm down and we gave him the spiel about being Santa's helpers and the spirit of Christmas being the giving not Santa and that he could stay up next year and help (but no Baileys for him) and most importantly that if he ever wanted to get another gift ever again he was, under no uncertain circumstances, to tell his little brothers. Ten months later and so far so good. Which leads me back to my conundrum. And sorry if this post is starting to look like a page from the Future Shop catalogue, I like to illustrate my rants.

What the hell do I get them for Christmas? Number One says he doesn't know what he wants. He lost his iPod which he had bought with his own money (he never loses anything) so do we replace it? And if it was a Nano do we get him the same one? Which, of course isn't the same because in the span of six months Apple has spawned two or three new generations of the damn things (kind of like the Star Trek Tribbles) which now cost almost the same as a iPod Touch.

Of course getting one of those would cause problem for Number Two who has my old iPod Classic and would flip if his brother got a Touch. And then Number Three would lose it because he is the only one who doesn't have one but he is seven for god's sake and doesn't even listen to music.

Now Number Two wants a PSP even though he already has a DS (I apologize for all the acronyms but I'll be damned if I am going to spell out all the brand names, so bear with me) and Number Three wants an xBox so he can play Halo?! Halo is one of those sniper shooting war games that I swore would never enter my house even if we are "the only ones who don't have it!"

We do have a Wii which I love because it doesn't have war games unless you count archery in Mario & Sonic go to the Olympics or the shooting in the Biathlon in the Winter Olympics. We also, I am ashamed to admit, have a Play Station 2 which is as old as the hills but came with Sing Star which is a karaoke game and we all love it. So needless to say our electronics quota is full and other than getting the new Winter Olympics game for the Wii there isn't much else I am willing to buy. Any thoughts other than unplugging everything and everyone and getting Monopoly 2.0? But you don't want to get me started on the so-called upgrading of classic board games.

Maybe I'll bust out the Thomas train tracks and set them up around the Christmas tree and see how that goes over?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Being a Biker Babe

Well, at least for Halloween. I hate Halloween. No, not really but the anxiety building up to it is just one more thing I don't need on my plate. I've got a fundraiser for our local Medical Clinic the Saturday after and of course, I have to fumigate the house now that the sickies are all back at school. Back when we lived in the city the pressure was all about decorating the house and whether we'd have enough candy to make it through the night. We lived on a Halloween street. The kind that the local TV news would cover with one house going all out every year and everyone else trying to keep up or at least worrying whether a thousand pieces of candy would get you through the night. Back then the kids wore cute, fuzzy costumes from Costco that kept them warm if it snowed and they loved to wear them throughout the year for special occasions like grocery shopping or going to the dentist. Then we moved along to the superhero phase and Spiderman and Batman were the costume du jour. At least thoses guys didn't carry weapons dripping fake blood.

Things have changed a little since we moved out of the big city. We don't get any trick or treaters as we live on a dead end street with only eight houses. Most are inhabited by older people who, when they asked us why the kids didn't come trick or treating to their houses, I had to gently explain that turning on the porch light, if not putting out a pumpkin was the traditional way to let kids know you are open for visitors. So we go across town to the "new development" where the houses are all jammed together and you can get a heck of alot more candy in a much shorter period of time. On the way there we do stop in at the senior's apartment building where the ladies sit in the foyer and the kids parade through and have their picture taken and are given gorgeous little loot bags. It makes everyone's night. This year I am taking a few boxes of candy over to some of the families who live in the "new development" (it's not that new, probably built in the 70's but in this town that's considered new) since I feel guilty that we all descend upon them every year.

The kids' costumes are well, not exactly cute and cuddly or even brave superheroish. Boys want scary and bloody and ugly and preferably store bought. I hate this. Why when I was a kid we had to make our own costumes (my mother did not sew) so we dug through the dress up box and raided our parents closets and inevitably I was a witch, albeit a pretty one or a gypsy. We didn't have masks or swords or pretty princess dresses from WalMart. Now I sound like an old lady, "why when I was a girl we walked to school up hill, both ways ..."

Of course the other big difference was that we lived in the country and weren't smart enough to figure out on a candy collected per mile travelled that town was the place to go. We would all pile into my Dad's truck, front and back (this was the 70's, pre seat belts) and go up and down all the long farm laneways. My Dad and our neighbour would go into each house and usually end up having a beer while we ran around in the dark waiting to go on to the next house. Halloween was a night long affair and I am quite sure in retrospect that my Dad was throughly sloshed by the end of it. Ahhhh, the good old days.

Now, we modern parents would never think of drinking and driving but we have been know to walk and tipple. I have this great old opera cloak from my grandmother (the opera-going gene died with her) with huge pockets. Big enough to hold a bottle of red and a couple of goblets in one and a few beers in the other. This way we can keep up with the kids as they race across lawns and streets all the while enjoying a lovely merlot or lager. Very civilized and another thing we would have never done in the city.

This year since Halloween falls on a Saturday I have my Mum coming up to stay over so that after we get home and the kids are well into their candy count, sort and trade we can be on our way. The count sort/sort/trade component of the evening hasn't changed since I was a kid. First take out anything with nuts as my Other Half is allergic (okay, that is new), then they take out anything that is even vaguely healthy like all natural fruit gummies and then they sort by ingredients - chocolate, gum, licorice, completely unidentifiable, etc. And then the trading begins. By this time we will be in our costumes and out the door.

Last year we went as pirates, the year before as the castways from Gilligan's Island (sans Gilligan for some reason) and this year we're gonna be bad ... bikers. Already have the tattoo sleeves to pull on, tight jeans, boots and even black leather chaps for the ol' man (actually, they belong to my Dad, he wears them horseback riding) His ol' lady will be sporting heavy make up and I might even spring for a pack of smokes to roll up in my sleeve so when we hit the dance floor we'll be smokin' ....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I know it's not called Swine Flu anymore but I still have a few questions

Running an infirmary here with two home from school. Non-stop laundry and running up and down the stirs with juice, soup and the thermometer. Number One has been home sick since going on a three day trip with his class. Twelve boys all sleeping together in a dorm, up all night and out in the rain all day. Even my never-gets-sick kid got sick. Called the school to say he wasn’t coming, gave them the symptoms and asked how many others were out and with what? Secretary who is not my favourite person at the best of times was “too busy to check the voicemail for that stuff.” Right, then why do you bother asking? Wouldn't it help those who are trying to get a handle on this thing to know and isn't that why they asked you to ask us? Heard through the grapevine that eight are home.

Then turned on the news and heard about a 13 year old boy who died yesterday in Toronto from H1N1, couldn’t change the channel fast enough for Number One not to see it. He had to play hockey last night as he is the only goalie on his team (don't ask). Everyone knew he was sick and now I am getting emails from other parents asking if it is H1N1? Called the doctor’s office - busy signal. Who the hell has a busy signal these days?!? Our doctor had recommended the boys getting the H1N1 shot once it was available - in November. Right, a little late now, it seems. Oh yeah and my brother-in-law was down in Boston last weekend playing hockey with a bunch of guys, three of whom have been diagnosed with H1N1 (at least they were actually tested). He wasn't tested and has no symptoms other than a sore throat but was put on Tamaflu and is supposed to wash his hands before holding his nine week old son.

An older lady I was talking to was also put on Tamaflu after her doctor told her (without testing) that she probably had it. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of this. I thought we had learned from the SARS outbreak in 2003? I thought the government had a plan for the next pandemic?

Sorry if this is all a little scattered but WTF am I supposed to think? They don’t seem to want to test anyone to see if they have it until after they are in the hospital or dead and I am sure as hell not taking my kids into emerg to find out if they have it. Where have all these statistics that the media keeps dropping come from if they really don't know who has it, who has recovered and who never had it in the first place?

And who is high risk? 13 year old hockey players, 42 year old woman, babies whose father's play hockey? I watched the news last night and saw the line ups in the U.S. for the shot and reports that there isn't enough for everyone who wants it. In Canada, our self-satisfied government is patting itself on the back and saying there is enough for everyone. Right, we have a population of 12 million in Ontario alone and they have 722,000 doses right now and another million coming next week. Even with my pathetic math skills that doesn't add up.

I am not an alarmist. We have never had the flu shot and my boys rarely get sick and when they do it only last hours (usually the wee small ones) and then I tell them to suck it up and go to school but this is utter chaos. You know, the kind in the movies, "Cats and dogs living togther, mass hysteria." And I know the doctors and researchers don't have all the answers but I wish they had one that I could tell my sons about why a 13 year old hockey player died 48 hours after getting the flu and why it won't happen to them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nothing new but this

Number Two Son took this one of Number Three Son. Guess the photography gene skips a generation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When the boys were little ...

When the boys were little they wore socks that matched their onesie turtlenecks and when it rained they wore cute little rubberboots with frogs and ducks on them and had umbrellas they carried to and from school.

Now they barely wear socks except when they run around with no shoes on so I have to buy them in bulk at Costco. And raincoats are so uncool.

When they were little they watched Thomas the Tank Engine narrated by Alec Baldwin or Ringo Starr and I knew the names of every engine, not to mention every dinosaur from the Jurassic era.

Now they watch Family Guy when they think I am not paying attention and are learning the names of adult movie stars.

When the boys were little they wanted to go to the zoo or the museum and every time we had to load up with sippy cups and snacks and diapers and wipes and changes of clothes for any meteorological event.

Now they want to go paint-balling (or is it paintball gunning?) and I can barely get them to leave the house in shoes or a sweatshirt and the car is overflowing with LEGO Star Wars people and fruit-filled TimBits that no one will eat. Not even the dog.

When the boys were little all we had to say when they whined for something was, "You'll have to be good and ask Santa for that."

Now they have Excell spreadsheets and bookmarked websites for their Christmas lists and the Santa threat is losing it's potency.

When the boys were little I could get them to sit still together for a family photo with matching outfits. Of course those photos were taken with film and therefore are not readily available to post as I have yet to figure out how to scan all of the hundreds of photos carefully (but not scrapbookily) pasted in albums.

Now they hide when the camera comes out, make faces and refuse to put on clean shirts no matter how much I bribe them. So I resort to stealth photography with a super long lens and post the photos here

When the boys were little we thought we'd never sleep through the night. They tag teamed us waking up, getting sick and having night terrors.

Now they want to go to sleep later than we can stay up which means we never get to watch anything other than Animal Planet and Home Improvement reruns in the evenings. Unless, of course I am downstairs on the computer. Then they are watching Family Guy.

When the boys were little I thought I would never carry anything other than a diaper bag or backpack and would never be able to get dressed up and make it out of the house without spit up on my shoulder or sticky hand prints on my pants.

Now I carry a purse (well, sometimes) and have been known to leave the house with nobody noticing.

When the boys were little I thought they'd never grow up.

Now that they are bigger I know that children really do grow up in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


An old friend dropped by today out of the blue. We sat on the couch in front of a cozy fire and drank tea and got caught up. She has chosen, although she might say it wasn't a choice, to live a very different life from mine. She is single, both her parents are dead and have been for quite a while and the only family she has is a half brother who is much older and had left home before she was born. She grew up and stayed in the same small town for most of her life, went away to school in the city but always came back. She has worked as a teacher, social worker and finally she worked at the town hall organizing events. She has never married or had a long term relationship, at least not one that I have ever heard about and about 6 years ago she made a huge change.

She sold the house she grew up in and was all that she had left from her parents, left the town that had always been her home and the people she called family and went back to school. First she had to go back and get the courses she needed for a Bachelor of Science as she had originally studied Arts. Then she applied to Nursing School and took the two year programme to become a RN. She was at school with girls straight out of high school doing their diplomas and at 40 she was considered the granny of the class, offering advice on men and studying while working in a notorious psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. She would come back for the holidays and regale (and horrify) us with stories of Christmas Eve on the psych ward. She has now found her place as a nurse on the front lines of an Emergency ward. Some of her stories aren't much tamer but at least every once in a while they are about a young child being saved. She is perfectly suited to the job with her sarcastic wit and ability to tell it like it is while being the comforting and caring nurse that you hope to meet in emerg.

She is happier than I have seen her in decades. She still isn't seeing anyone (that I know of) and knows that the long shifts that rotate from day to night reek havoc with her sleep and would try even the most understanding of boyfriends. But she loves what she does and she has found a sense of purpose.

Has anyone else made a radical change in their lives? Do you think it is possible to do with a family and all that sort of baggage? A friend's mother went back to law school in her late forties after all her children had grown up and was even contemplating moving to Australia when she was diagnosed with cancer. Not that I am thinking of doing anything crazy, but my dream has always been to pack up the kids and go live in France or New Zealand for a year. Guess that's why I am so jealous of Amy of Bitchin' Wives Club. Even the stress and pain of packing up a family of five to cross the pond to England seems like an adventure seen through her words and camera lens.

I know that people are often forced as a result of divorce or death to make radical changes and you wonder how they were ever able to do so under the circumstances but I remember a teacher once saying to our class of 15 year old girls that we could expect to change jobs five or six times in our lives. We all scoffed, our parents (mostly fathers) had worked at the same jobs for the same companies for their entire lives. It was inconceivable to think that you could be forced or choose to change jobs let alone professions back in the 80's. The world is a different place today as we enter into the second decade of the second millennium. And I, for one think it is better. More chaotic? Yes, but also much more interesting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Now it's your turn

Being Brazen has a great little thing she does called It's for you. She answers a few questions about herself and then turns it over to her readers to answer the same ones in their comments. Great way to get to know one another, isn't it? It's sort of a meme/youyou.

So here are my answers and then it's your turn so I can read the witty responses.

  • Today I feel relieved, a big weight has been lifted financially (I hope)

  • Last night I watched my son's first game of the season. He got a shut out (that's hockey and he is a goalie)

  • Song of the week - hate to admit it but the Oprah video got me hooked on Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feelin'"

  • Currently I want the sun to shine for Thanksgiving (it's this weekend in Canada) and a new pair of black boots

  • Favourite ice cream flavour - anything mocha like Ben & Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz

  • Do I believe there are aliens out there? There had better be 'cause otherwise we're all stuck with each another

So now go for it. I wanna know what you think. I'll try to be original next time and come up with my own questions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

You can go back ... sort of

On Friday I packed my bags and left my family ... for the weekend. It was my 25th high school reunion. The photo above was taken at the Annual Father Daughter Dance in about 1982. I am the girl in the middle, my Dad is the moustache to my right.

I stayed with my oldest - make that longest-standing - friend who you met here. The plan was to get a group of us together Friday night for a little pre-reunion party. I had sent out an email to everyone on my contact list and asked them to forward it on to everyone they had and so on and so on .... All very inclusive and so not cliquey all girl's schoolish. Or so I thought. Responses came back regretfully, almost everyone had other plans. Some family related but some plans with others who were in from out of town for the reunion. Plans that did not include everyone but I was fine with that.

I went ahead and headed down to the big city where I can't believe I had not been in months. I even tried to organize a little blogger get together but flu season has already hit some of our numbers hard and if you have a chance head over to Beth at Books Etc. and see if she's feeling better. (Just checked, she is and she's been hanging out with a real hunk.) So the weekend didn't get off to a roaring start but I met a couple of friends for dinner and we quickly got caught up and consumed two bottles of Pinot Grigio. Then I had a great idea, I'd be damned if I was going home at 9:30 on my big weekend away so why not crash the party the cool kids were having?

It wasn't too bad, we arrived as they were sitting down to dessert and all (most?) seemed genuinely happy to see us. The hostess even commented on my cunning plan to bring the guest of honour and my dinner date together after all these years. Right, that was the plan. Wait a minute, the plan was to crash a party we weren't invited to. Why was I so clever? It seems that in my high school Diet Coke-addled brain I had forgotten that the two afore-mentioned women had had a huge falling out 25 years ago and hadn't spoken since. Hence the lack of invitation for one of them to the party. Me, I just wasn't invited.

So, it seems I had done my good deed for the weekend without even knowing it. There were hugs and congratulations all around, more wine was drunk and I made my way back to my hostess' house quite satisfied with myself.

The morning I wasn't so much. But it was up and at 'em in time to get to the school for the traditional Old Girls vs. students basketball and field hockey games. I took photos, none of which were very good. Chatted with a few teachers, horrified the students with stories of life before cellphones and Wikipedia and then hightailed it out to go shopping, had enough time for a nap before heading back for the cocktail party. There every reunion year from 60 to 5 was represented by chattering, squealing and laughing women who all shared a common experience of wearing a tunic, tie and some, even bloomers (that would include yours truly, they switched to boxers soon after I graduated but we did wear the damn things under our kilts and tunics for modesty's sake, if you can believe it) We posed for class photos and then headed off to our dinner at a classmate's house.

There were over 40 of us out of about 70 including some who had left before graduation. We came from as far away as the UK, San Francisco, Oregon, Connecticut, Quebec, B.C. and Ohio. We are now doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, Pilates and Yoga instructors, mothers, divorcees and widows. And we all look even better 25 years later. We have all come into our own in everyway. We turned 40 a few years back and we all seem to be embracing it. Our hair is blonder, longer, shorter, darker and greyer but our eyes are bright and surrounded by laugh lines.

And we added to them that night. We shared photos of our families and homes. We swapped email addresses and phone numbers and business cards. We ate and drank and toasted two of our classmates who are no longer with us and promised to remember them as they would have wanted us to to. We were the class of 1984, George Orwell predicted Big Brother and doom. We remember Boy George, Flash Dance and leggings. Fortunately only the leggings have survived.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gas, bloating, the recession and other reasons not to read this post

Okay, so I have been feeling like shit lately. Too tired in the morning, too tired in the afternoon and ready to crawl back into bed around 7pm. I doesn't help that it is getting darker so much earlier now. Why does that seem to happen so suddenly right after Labour Day? In the spring it takes forever for the sun to stay up until after 9pm but something happens once school starts that makes me want to crawl into bed right after dinner.

But back to my aches and pains. Lately no matter how healthy I try to eat which isn't that healthy compared to people who take their flax seed and cleanses seriously but better than my usual habit of eating the kids leftover Kraft Dinner and nibbling on the ends of Oreo Sippers. But I still have been feeling like crap - like the title says - bloated, gassy, nothing fits around my waist, tired and cranky. And this isn't just pre or post menstrual, this is all f**king month long. Yes, I know the recession that is supposedly over isn't helping the mood around our house. We run a seasonal business and right now we are headed into the off part of it and it looks like it is going to be a long one. My Other Half isn't sleeping much and working too much and the kids, well, they are kids. We can't expect them to understand why we aren't booking tickets to spend Thanksgiving with their cousins or even contemplating heading south for Spring Break.

But, again, back to my bloating. So I was flipping through a mag, one that I always thought was for older women but lately seems to be aimed right at me. Yes, that makes me their target - middle aged with school age kids, no money for designer shoes and needs recipes that involve using up leftovers ***** sigh*****

Anyways I came across an ad that described my "symptoms" to a T.

  • My stomach is going to explode

  • My friend thought I was pregnant (Well, maybe she did. She just had enough sense not to say it out loud)

  • Always craving sweets

  • Vaginal itching (not in a good way)

It seems I am suffering from a yeast overgrowth - YUCK - called Candida Albicans. The irony is that I had just told my sister that I thought her baby might have thrush and we were running around trying to find Acidophilus for her to take while breastfeeding. So it seems both PJ and I have an over abundance of yeast in our systems.

So now the fun begins. Really no one should ever go on line looking for answers to medical questions. Everything you find points to one of two things. Either you are going to die and you have to spend a fortune trying to prevent that outcome or you aren't going to die but you still have to spend a fortune trying to fix what ails you.

So if anyone knows anything about the other kind of yeast infection (I can't believe I am posting this for all to see but tough times require tough posts) and have any suggestions, recommendations and/or words of wisdom which don't require giving up coffee or wine, I'm all ears. For now I am off to the health food store to check out the selection of probiotics. (I can't believe that just came out of my keyboard)

Monday, September 21, 2009

To Hell with "It" Bags

Although I have never been a designer bag kind of gal, although there was that Kate Spade obsession back at the early turn of the century, I love The Wren's bags on Etsy and Being Brazen is having a give-away so check them both out. No wait, don't go to Being Brazen 'cause then you'll enter the contest and I will have less of a chance of winning this. Or maybe I just want to look like this when I wear jeans and a white T shirt.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is a Blogger's Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

I might be making a huge generalization but in my almost year long blogging experience I have noticed that bloggers for the most part are a very positive bunch. Now I know that there are some who leave nasty anonymous comments and there has been some back-stabbing and name-calling (that just adds to the excitement for the rest of us) but all in all we seems to be a pretty optimistic lot even in the face of tough times. Maybe it is because we have our blogs from which to vent our frustrations regarding children, bosses, spouses, politicians and the crazy world in general and everyone knows that the old 60's scream therapy had some merit.

Of course, the question could be asked, "If a blogger screams on line, does anybody hear her?" Maybe not our families but definitely our blogging friends who are some of the most supportive people I have ever had the good fortune to met and someday perhaps I will get to face to face. Despite cross border and cultural differences we all face the same day-to-day dramas as well as some that are much bigger and scarier. When I sit down at my computer to read the latest posts I am struck by the common theme of making the best of the gifts you have in tough economic times , coping with a special needs child, moving across the ocean with three young children , sharing difficult stories that we all should hear , dealing with a sick child , writing some page-scrolling fiction, helping others or coping with the aftermath of a horrific accident.

Every post, however mundane sends a message to someone out there that we are all in this together - trying to raise our children to be happy and well-adjusted, keeping the magic in our marriages, dealing gracefully with a messy divorce or an aging parent. I can't think of any situation that I have found myself in lately that I haven't almost serendipitously found someone writing a post about. And when I am feeling lost and alone (even when surrounded by my family and friends in RL) reading every one's words about their trials and tribulations helps in a way that I hadn't found before.

I try to be a "glass half full" kind of person but it can be a struggle raising three very active and physical boys, married to and working with an entrepreneur struggling to keep a business afloat during a recession all while navigating the treacherous waters of (gasp) middle age. Sometimes the glass is half empty, fortunately I keep the bottle or coffee pot close at hand so that so I can always top it up as I fire up my computer and read my old favourites as well as lots of new (to me, anyways) friends.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thousand Word Thursday

On Sunday my best friend was over for dinner and while we were trying to create a meal inspired by the movie Julie & Julia (which we had seen the night before and because best friends don't let best friends cook with copious amounts of butter and wine alone) she reminded me that we had been wanting to get a more recent photo of the two of us together as we hadn't taken one in a while. We have known each other since Grade 8 and have suffered through various horrific hairdos and colours (Clairol #99 ring a bell?) She is godmother to my eldest, the fun grown up as my children say. And although our lives have turned out quite differently from one another's - she, a successful, single career woman. Me, a SAHM, celebrating my 20th anniversary this October, she has held my hand through some tough times and we have kept in touch while living on different continents, countries and coasts.
So in honour of Thousand Word Thursday here is a short retrospective of a friendship that has survived over 30 (gulp) years. And yes, the cute guy in some of the photos is the man I married.

About Grade 9

High School Graduation

The Three Amigos

Circa 2002

Like fine wine we have aged well

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