There’s no simple explanation

In the spring of 1998, I made the trip from my new (filthy, disgusting, ridiculously cheap) student accommodations back home to Moncton. My mother had driven up to help me move my few meager belongings, and my uncle had come along with her. My mom and I spent the day arguing about the state of my new abode (I vividly remember the phrase “I didn’t raise you to live like this!”) so when it came time to turn around and travel the 10 hours back home she took the opportunity to sleep in the back seat and try to forget the horrors of a room for $200/month. My uncle drove into the night and I manned the radio.

My uncle wasn’t a big talker. For sure we had a few deep discussions over the years, but it was pretty rare. But one thing we always connected through was music. When I was quite young he would grill me about songs on the radio, making sure I knew the name, and the artist, and he probably tried to get me to remember what year it came out too. He asked me to put in a cassette, since the only radio channels we were receiving were en francais.

I happened to have a copy of Fully Completely, and I didn’t say anything as I popped it in the tape deck. The guitar riffed and we looked at each other, and that was it. We spent the rest of the trip allowing the cassette to loop around and around, singing both under our breath and at the tops of our lungs.

At my wedding in 2009, my husband and I had our first dance to Long Time Running. My uncle had come to the wedding, and dressed in a gorgeous suit which was very out of character for him, and when I took a moment out of the dancing and shenanigans to tell him how ecstatic I was that he had made the trip, and how it filled my heart, he leaned close and said “I loved the song choice – remember that drive we had?”

Almost two years ago my uncle died of a brain tumor. If you have been a regular reader here then you know it was very sudden, very shocking, and very traumatizing. I was angry I wasn’t there, angry it was so fast, angry that the last time we spoke was by phone while I sat freezing on a stoop downtown.

And a few months later Gord Downie was revealed to have been diagnosed with the same form of cancer. Incurable, but surgery prolonged his life enough that he toured, and lived, and did good for a little while longer. And I felt sad, and nostalgic, and burned by the irony, and jealous of his family. We went to one of the final concerts, in Ottawa, and I cried so much, for Gord but also for my uncle, who loved The Hip so much.

I usually get hit hard when artists I love get sick or pass on because I think about all the beauty the world will be missing. But Gord’s passing on Tuesday is so much more complicated than that for me. I don’t know how to explain it. And while I’m thankful for the extra time we all had, to show our love and appreciation, I would have traded it for some extra time with my uncle Joey instead.





The Most Magical Place on Earth

And that’s not me being sarcastic.

Neither my husband nor myself had ever been to Disney in our whole lives. I think that’s relatively common for kids our age – I can only remember a handful of school friends who went. And then as an adult we were kinda like “would it be lame to go? probably.”

But having kids gave me just the excuse I needed! We agreed on a timeframe for our trip, and I got to planning. I’m the Designated Travel Planner around these parts, and usually I enjoy it. And I did enjoy Disney planning as well, for the most part, but it did come with a major amount of stress. Disney is not cheap. And there are literally millions of options to choose by the time you think about where to stay, how many park days you want, which rides you want to see in each park, how you want to book your FastPasses, which restaurants you want to visit, etc etc etc. So many decisions, too many to consult with E about for every single thing, and I found it very hard relax about it. I had nightmares for weeks before we departed.

But, guys, I fucking love Disney. And my kids love Disney. And I think even my husband loves Disney.


We tried to pack as much as we could into our visit, which meant our days were long and and hectic. It didn’t help that it was 40 degrees C there when it was supposed to be 24. Yay climate change! Anyway, we all did our very best, and we had such an amazing time. It really is Magic. For the kids it was magic because, fuck, we walked through Wendy and the Boys’ room and rang bells in the shadows and saw Tinkerbell alight on the dresser. My kids hugged every character they could get their hands on even though when we surprised them with the trip one of the items on M’s to-do list was “run from mascots”.


The rides, while not super extreme, were super fun. We rode every single thrill ride the kids were tall enough for. We also did the more tame ones. We saw stage shows. We went on a safari. We ate delicious, amazing food (how do they make such a variety of such amazing food for so many goddamned people? I don’t understand!). Were there times I was ready to run back to the hotel and hide? Yep. But I powered through. Because the amount of joy far outweighed my negativity or the heat or the kids’ crankiness. And, oh my god, the stories we have about our crazy kids.


About a week after the trip, I had a realization. While planning, I was kinda like “we’ll go, it’ll be fun, and then it’ll be done. Maybe we’ll go again when the kids are pre-teen so we can see Harry Potter at Universal.” But after being back, and looking through our photos, guys I’m totally game to go again. Excited to, even. I think I know I’ll be so much more relaxed in the planning next time, knowing more what to expect and also what everyone DID love instead of guessing what they might love.

Freaking out – but excited

For the record, I hate the masthead. Expect more changes to the look of the site.

Now, down to business.

For the second year in a row, I developed a serious eye irritation in the month of May. I believe it’s allergy related, optometrist said I scratched my cornea, ophthalmologist  said it was because of overuse of my contacts. No one ever named my diagnosis. I went through a week on one treatment, got sent to specialist who gave something different, then got ANOTHER prescription a few weeks later – all that to say I have spent the entire summer without contact lenses.

Glasses drive me bonkers. They slip, they slide, they get filthy, I hate them. And since this is the second year I’m dealing with this, I feel my prognosis is not great for the future.

So tomorrow I’m getting Lasik. Rather than buy yet another pair of glasses I will hate to try and keep them on my face, plus a pair of sunglasses, and all the aggravation of this if it keeps coming back every year – I’m cutting out the whole load of it.

I’m excited, and also terrified. I don’t do well in this kind of situation. Anyone who has ever heard my wisdom tooth story can attest to that. Dudes, your awake during the procedure. While someone zaps your eyeball. And don’t even get me started on how the whole procedure and healing blows my mind. They make a flap, guys. And then just leave it there. No stitches. No glue, nada. It just heals itself right up, allegedly. I’m so terrified I’m going to rub my eyes I’m duct taping those ugly glasses to my head, and ALSO tying my hands to my sides. Or maybe just oven mitts? what would you suggest?


Quick summer recap

Wow this summer has flown by. We traveled, we hung out, we had company, there was summer camp, trips to the amusement park and the zoo. I pictured languid days in the yard by the pool with M, but there were few of those, partly due to bad weather and partly due to life in general.

We spent the first week of July at our cottage in New Brunswick. This cottage originally belonged to E’s grandparents, and when they decided to sell we jumped on it with two of his brothers. It provides us guaranteed oceanside lodging for a week or two each summer when we visit, plus we’ll rent it out a few weeks a year to try and cover the costs. One week doesn’t really feel like enough when we’re there – with so many people to visit and so many summer activities we want to do we end up feeling overscheduled and stressed a lot of the time.  But I get a lot of joy from watching the kids play with their cousins, and the fact that they see each other so rarely means fighting is minimal!

We also had visit to our home – first my mom, then my sister and her fam. It’s our fifth year in this house, and we love sharing it with visiting company. BUT we are realizing it’s time to do some renovations – it’s time for a full guest suite in our basement, because our guests deserve their own space and privacy! Fall project? Maybe.

I spent a lot of weeks under the weather – I had some scratched corneas and couldn’t wear my contacts at all, which is depressing, I had some medication changes and some TERRIBLE side effects, plus I had bronchitis that lasted over a month. M also had a long summer cold which is still going on…. I think we needed sunshine, and Mother Nature held out on that quite a bit this year. (at one point M exclaimed “is it EVER going to stop RAINING???”)

M did her first short stint at summer camp and it was a huge success. We chose a daycamp near our home that was recommended by our dear friend. She went there as a child and also was a counsellor later on. They have swimming twice a day with waterslides and games, different sports to try, climbing walls, crafts, pottery, theme days, yummy lunches. M adored it, and I was sad we only sent her for two weeks. I think next year both kids will attend, and maybe for longer.

And now we’re getting together our school supplies and trying to get back into morning routines. School is 8 days away! I’ve taken some bloggy time off, and some life time off just to hang with the kids and be lazy, but back to school means back to reality!

When it’s not about vanity

When the girl was born, she came out a hairy little monkey. A full head of hair, and some hair on her shoulders and back as well. Soft, downy, dark.

Our six year old has a unibrow. And a little lip fuzz. DSC_1086.jpgWe have never once mentioned them to her, and she never really noticed. But of course now she’s in school. And kids are assholes. Nothing triggers your social anxiety and self-consciousness quite like when your kid comes home and says “My friend says I have a moustache. And a connected eyebrow.”

I asked her if it bothered her, and she said not really. But every few weeks or so she comes home with a new story about someone teasing her. These are 5/6 year olds. Why do they care?

I’ve mentioned to her that there are ways to remove them, or make them less noticeable, but all I could think of at the time was waxing and plucking. I describe this to her and she was NOT interested. But then someone mentioned Nair or Veet, which I had never really considered. Now that there is an actual option that would be uncomplicated and pretty well painless, it gives me more to think about.

I make a point of not focusing on the physical in our house. We don’t use the word “fat” no matter how fat I feel. I run “to make my heart healthy”, not to lose weight (a half truth!). I try to focus my compliments on other qualities (you’re so funny/smart/silly/strong). But I recognize that outside of our walls appearance and conformity have a lot more emphasis.

She wears boys clothes and this makes her stand out. She prefers Harry Potter and Star Wars to My Little Pony and Barbie and this makes her stand out. These are things she is confident about and I’m sure kids make comments. But she never mentions them. She is sure of what she prefers, what she chooses to enjoy, and is confident in these choices.

I hate that she is self-conscious of her appearance. I hate that she is only six and kids are already teasing her for this. But I’m not sure how I feel about helping her remove these burdens. While I would do anything, anything, to make her comfortable in her own skin and confident around her peers, I also feel it’s like telling her they are right.



Adventures in running

Since being done work I have had a time to get back to running. It feels good to get out there again, although I am not signed up for any races so I’m having trouble pushing myself further or faster. I just jog around aimlessly, listening to filthy rap music or Marc Maron’s podcast for about half an hour.

A few weeks ago, I got chased by a puppy. I thought I could hear barking but just kept on my way since dogs often bark at me. Then a six(ish) month old German Shepherd flew by me all gangly and silly. I pulled out my earbuds and knelt down, and he came to me tentatively. Meanwhile his owner was booting it up the street after him, causing him to dash off and back a few times (such a fun game! Pro-tip – chasing your dog will just make him run further and faster!). Apparently they were in the middle of practicing some training commands. I wanted to make a suggestion of a long training lead, but bit my tongue and smiled, and went on my way.

Often as I’m cruising along I encounter super fun roadkill. Squirrels. Birds. Rabbits. Skunks. In the city I had to watch for dog poo; in the country I keep an eye out for horse poo.

Last week I got chased by a Doberman. Again, super friendly and wanting to play, but his owner didn’t even notice him running into the street after me. I led him back to his yard, where his sibling dog (a big lazy Bernese) welcomed him, and his owner continued gardening obliviously.

But yesterday was my most exciting adventure so far! As I came over a hill I noticed what looked like a dead raccoon in the middle of the road. But as I approached it moved slightly, then I realized it was a turtle! A giant snapping turtle. A few years ago we found one in our pool filter and I thought it was big, but this Turtle! This Turtle was gigantic!


I grabbed a stick to try and bait it – and Turtle ferociously snapped at it. However it didn’t grab hold like I hoped it would so I could pull it off the road. I then tried to use the stick to push it off the road, but that strategy resulted in Turtle jumping at me and trying to bite the stick. Things were not going well, then a nice pair of landscapers stopped their truck – one of them used to have a pet turtle and felt comfortable to grab its shell while I distracted it. Turtle flailed wildly and the dude dropped him on the first try, but we reset and finally got him into the woods which is the photo you see above. I wish I had taken a photo of Turtle beside my shoe or something, for scale.

To S, who is 4.

I can’t believe you are four years old. It’s so cliche, but it really does feel like yesterday that I was laboring in the tub, letting your dad sleep while trying to tell if you were being for real, or just fooling me.

For three years and probably 9 months you were the joy of our lives. While your sister can be mercurial, you were our easy going boy with a wry smile and a sunny disposition. The last three months you have been…. more difficult. You are starting to have opinions about everything and you need to test your boundaries. We’ll get through it, but I wish you’d get over it sooner rather than later. I want to go back to the moments when we’re driving in the car and you yell “Mama?” and I think you want to point something out to me but when I say “what?” you just say “I love you.”


I could talk about your relationship with your sister for days. You worship her, there is no doubt. But, when you are together, it’s often like two cats in a bag. There will be tears. There may be bloodshed. You rely on each other, though, and I hope you continue to do so forever.


I think a lot about the kind of man I want you to be. You have plenty of great role models between your dad, your uncles, and your grandfather, so that is a big bonus. But the way our world is right now… ugh, it makes me worry. I want you to be joyful, compassionate, intelligent, brave… so many things that seem to currently be of very little value. And you are so, so little, and the problems in this world are so, so big.


But, instead of worrying about all that today, I’m going to make you laugh, make you sing, dance with you and give you a cupcake. You are my silly goose. You are my clever fox. You are my sweetest, sweetest boy.

Love, Mama.