metro mama

Monday, July 31, 2006


I thought my days of clock-watching were over when I quit my job.

For the last months of my employment, I was bored and impatient to be doing other things. I thought those feelings would end when I spent joyous, fun filled days at home with my daughter.

Not so.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining—I love that I am able to be home with Cakes. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

But, it is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

She is a busy, busy girl. She wakes at 6 or 7 and it’s go, go, go until naptime. After nap, we’re back at it and it’s go, go, go until bedtime.

Some days (rainy/snowy/too hot/too cold), by 4:00 I am looking at my watch and am horrified how long there is ‘til quittin’ time.

When she goes down for the night, it’s “fuck, thank God she’s down. Pour me a cocktail”.

The other problem is, blogging has awakened a dormant beast in me. I feel compelled to write and am frustrated by not having much time to do so.

I am extremely lucky. BP is home more than many fathers and I probably get more free time than most. There are many women who are responsible for most of the childcare. I don’t know how they do it—I admire them greatly.

Gotta go now. The boss is calling and my shift aint over yet.


I’m pleased to report this is my 50th post! Time flies when you’re having fun.

The fabulous Mommy Off the Record just celebrated her 100th post and did something very cool to celebrate. Check it out here.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

All About Me

Lot's o' links here. I talk about myself way too much:

The Milky-Smelling Fog

25 Things


Third Semester Blues

Toronto Bloggers Sure Do Love Redneck Mommy!

The Opposite of Dooced!

Finding My Groove

2008, Bring It On

Too Many Candles on the Cake

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

Crunch Time

Membership Has Its Privileges


Buried in Books

Things You Should Know, Pre-BlogHer

What You Don't Know

Hot and Stymied

Good Enough After All

Never Enough

He Should Be Thanking Me

London Calling

A Dozen Firefighters and a Chocolate Fountain

More Diary Drama: First Kiss

Dreary January

The New Aphrodisiac

2006, You've Been Good To Me

The Centre Holds

Diary of a 10-year-old Drama Queen

Dirty Words

Career Student

Shut Up and Shtup Me

How My Training in the Corporate World Has Served Me Well

13 Things I'm Glad I Did

Nothing Will Come of Nothing

It's Wednesday--Time to Wet the Wick

13 Things I Regret

When Teething and Insomnia Collide

Back to School

Dave Grohl's My Hero

Dream Jobs

A Gal Needs Pals

Like A Long-legged Fly

The Sadist in the White Coat

Schoool's Out. For. Summer.

It's Time to Get the Cheque When Your Wife Starts Hiccouphing

Money Changes Everything

There's No Such Thing as a Virtual Friend

Birth Story

What a Difference a Year Makes

The Breast of Times and the Worst of Times

I Need a Vacation, I Mean a Vocation

Memory Lane

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cheerios Under Siege

Survival Strategies

1. Banding together...

Maybe there's safety in numbers.

2. Hiding...

She'll never find us here. Oh, God....we're being gassed!


Caught! By snot!

Just eat me and get it over with.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Metro Mama Reviews: The Time In Between

There was little time between when I started this book and when I finished it. It was hard to put down.

The Time in Between, written by David Bergen and winner of the Giller Prize, explores the lasting and far-reaching effects of war, the father-daughter relationship, and the complexity of psychological pain. Set in Vietnam, the book is also a travelogue, with vivid descriptions of the landscape and customs of the country.

Charles Boatman, widower and Vietnam vet, has raised his three children in a renovated caboose on a mountain in BC. Haunted by his memories of Vietnam, he sees a psychologist, who isn’t able to help him. When a fellow vet sends him a book about the war, written by a Vietnamese soldier, the connection he feels to the soldier in the story is a catalyst that sends him back to Vietnam to try to exorcise his demons.

When Charles disappears in Vietnam, two of his children, Jon and Ada, journey there to look for him. Ada retraces her father’s steps to try to understand what led him back to Vietnam.

Bergen’s prose is engrossing and succinct. He explores difficult issues with clarity and depth without offering any easy answers.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author—he’s written three other novels and a collection of short stories. His most recent novel, The Case of Lena S., was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. He’s a Canadian and lives in Winnipeg.

I’ll definitely be reading more.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Schooool's Out. For. Summer.

If only it were out forever.

Monday night I wrote my final exam (I think I ACED THE FUCKER!) and now I have six blissful weeks off until it starts all over again.

I'm doing three courses next term (Contemporary Canadian Writers, Advanced Romanticism and a sociology course about the female body). I think it's going to be a demanding year. BP has been warned to try to keep down the extra curriculars.

I've decided to make a few resolutions for my six-week window of freedom:

1. Read books. I'm going to start with a few new books I've been wanting to read (I'll review them for you here), then get a head start on the reading list for the Can lit course (it's not really work, it's actually a great list*). I resolve to get my ass to the garden with my novel every time Cakes' head hits her pillow.

2. Stock the freezer with some homemade goodies for Cakes. We've been relying on far too much avocado and jarred sweet potato lately.

3. Write a couple of thoughtful, serious posts.

4. Give Big Papa some lovin'. When we moved into the house, we said we'd christen every room. Well...ahem. I won't even go there.

I will keep you updated on my progress. For the first three anyway.


* Here's the list...good stuff, isn't it!

Timothy Findley, Inside Memory (Harper/Collins), Stones (Penguin), The Wars (Penguin), The Piano Man's Daughter (Harper Perennial), Elizabeth Rex (Blizzard); Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (Seal); Selected Poems, 1966-1984 (OUP), Survival (M&S), Wilderness Tips (Seal), Alias Grace (Seal); Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (Vintage), The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems (Vintage), Running in the Family (Vintage), In the Skin of a Lion (Vintage), The English Patient (Vintage); Jane Urquhart, The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan (The Porcupine’s Quill), Storm Glass (The Porcupine's Quill), Changing Heaven (M&S), Away (M&S), The Stone Carvers (M&S).


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Piece of Bub and Pie

The lucky ladies attending BlogHer next weekend have been exchanging interviews to get to know eachother a little in advance of the big event.

Her Bad Mother suggested the TO Mamas put together some interviews so she can introduce us at the conference.

My interview can be found here at the home of the lovely Sunshine Scribe.

A complete list of links can be found here.

Without further ado, I'm pleased to host the interview of one of my favourite bloggers, the eloquent Bub and Pie.....

What is the quality you most admire in a blogger?
I most enjoy bloggers who are unflinchingly honest about really private things (hence my addiction to Her Bad Mother’s Basement). I most admire bloggers whose posts are full of mind-bending leaps of free-association (lildb at i-obsess comes to mind).

What is your most marked blogging characteristic (or, how would you describe your blog)?
Two urges seem to drive most of my blogging: confession and preservation. I confess my lapses of etiquette and shortcomings as a parent, and I preserve the ordinary moments of sweetness that might otherwise go unremembered. (Does this make it sound as if my blog were made out of strawberry jam? It’s really not quite that sweet.)

What is your greatest virtue as a blogger (what do you most like about your blog)?
I like my cultural analysis posts – of Linda Hirshman or Thomas the Tank Engine – though I don’t actually do all that many of these. And I always enjoy writing a good bullet-list, though I try not to abuse this form. I like it on the days when I have two or three little nuggets – of cuteness or complaint – bumping around in my head, ideas that aren’t significant enough in themselves to warrant a whole post. And since I’m a bit of a control freak, the bullets provide a sense of structure within which I feel free to throw out random ideas – like the five things I was afraid of when I was six years old (including quicksand and bottomless pits, among other things).

What do you regard as the principle defect of your blog?
I am only ever funny by accident.

What character of fiction do you most wish had a blog?
Elizabeth Darcy. To refute all those they-didn’t-live-happily-ever-after sequels.

What historical or real life person do you most wish had a blog?
C.S. Lewis. Not from curiosity about his daily life, but simply because I enjoy the workings of his mind: the relentless logic, the elegant illustrations, the abstract analysis of faith and literature.

What is your present state of blog (present state of mind as a blogger)?
Overworked, distracted – and desperately looking forward to the day (hopefully before the end of August) when I have time to really blog properly.

What is your blog motto?
More is more.


What is your idea of earthly happiness? Silence and chocolate.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? I find it easy to forgive the faults that arise from trying too hard – being too intense, talking too much, saying all the wrong things in a misguided effort to impress or entertain. It’s often embarrassing to witness this kind of spectacle, but I have a soft spot in my heart for those who are incapable of coolness.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Mr. Darcy and … sorry, nobody else. Only Mr. Darcy.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, Jane Eyre, Anne Shirley, and Emily Byrd Starr.

Who are your favorite characters in history? Winston Churchill, Martin Luther, and Elizabeth I.

What historical figures do you most despise? I suppose it’s too obvious to say Hitler? Or George W.? How about Henry Tudor, with his cowardly smear campaign against the memory of Richard III?

What is the quality you most admire in a man? Attentiveness to his children, and a visible delight in their personalities.

What is the quality you most admire in a woman? The politically correct thing would be to say “same as above,” but of course that’s not true – I expect a woman to be attentive to her children, and I admire (and envy) her if she seems able to cope, with unruffled calm, with all the challenges they present.

Who or what would you have liked to be? I would have liked to be a Victorian – to still be me, but in the Victorian period with a big, sprawling English house (where one might plausibly imagine a wardrobe that leads to Narnia), an enormous garden, and six children who call their father “Papa” with cute little British accents and an emphasis on the second syllable. (Anglophile, much?)

Where would you like to live? In a century home, on a tree-lined street, a few blocks away from the library, with a good restaurant nearby, and friends I can call to meet me there in five minutes for coffee and dessert (a really, really good cheesecake).

What do you most value in your friends? Virtues are important, especially loyalty, but above all I value an incisive mind, an ability to penetrate to the quick, to understand motives and analyze the roots of emotions and relationships.

What is your principle defect? Inflexibility – difficulty accepting disorder or change.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? The accidental death of one of my children, where there was something (major or minor, foreseeable or unforeseeable) that I could have done to prevent it. Any kind of death would be unbearable, of course, but I cannot imagine coping with the torture of replaying all the tiny decisions that might have led to a different outcome. If misfortune must come, I’d rather believe that it was inevitable.

Who are your favorite prose writers? Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, L.M. Montgomery, and D.E. Stevenson.

Who are your favorite poets? Robert Browning and Christina Rossetti.

What are your favorite names? Hugh. Bronwyn. Wesley. I love those good Scottish/Irish/Welsh names. It would almost be worth it to have a few more children, just so I could get to use them.

What is it you most dislike? Mess. Procrastination. Feeling out of control.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? I would love to be able to figure skate (though that might require more than one gift: I could supply the artistry, but I would need the balance and physical courage).

What is your motto? When I was a teenager I liked mottoes that started with “Life is,” as in, “Life is a never-ending tragedy” or “Life is a party but I wasn’t invited.” Nowadays, if by motto we mean a phrase I say a lot, it would have to be, “I would like my fair share, please.”


Monday, July 24, 2006

The Homestead

Chat about my 'hood, my home, and my beloved garden:

Room Without a View

There's a Facking Moat in My Backyard

Sorry Dear, Mommy's Hungover

One Year Later

Wee Garden Update

Wee Garden Makeover

Love Thy Neighbour

The Grass is No Longer Greener on the Other Side

Ho Ho Hoe

The Waste-land

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Too Old To Be a Mama?

There was an interesting column in the Focus section of yesterday’s Globe and Mail that really got me thinking. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it (it’s only available online to subscribers). Last week, a 63-year-old woman, Patricia Rashbrook, gave birth to a baby after receiving fertility treatments. Columnist Margaret Wente and writer and father David Eddie debated the morality of her choice. Here are a few excerpts:

Wente argues, “women are no longer enslaved by their reproductive organs—and a good thing too. If technology can give women wider reproductive options—as men have always had—that’s fine with me. And because we’re living so much longer and healthier, 63 is no longer old.”

Eddie counters, “but doesn’t this case seem symptomatic of a culture that has lost track of the fact that certain doors do close at some stage…..the truth is that as women approach 40, there is an exponential increase in the chance of birth defects and a correspondingly vertiginous drop-off in egg viability (Dr. Rashbrook used a donor egg). At some point, people just have to realize they have to grab a chair before the music stops.”

Wente counters, “if women were still required to abide by the biological imperatives that ruled the lives of their great-great-grandmothers, they’d have 10 or 14 pregnancies by the age of 42. Hey, that’s only natural!”

Eddie responds, “I’m afraid I do feel like all this postmenopausal hormone therapy and egg implantation is going against God’s design.” He also argues (and this is what gave me pause) “given current life-expectancy statistics, there’s a good chance neither she nor her husband will live to see J.J. into adulthood and that seems irresponsible.”

I have to take Wente’s position, although personally, I barely have the physical strength to raise a child now. I can’t imagine doing it at 63.

What isn’t under debate is the fact that there is no controversy over men who become fathers after retirement. On the contrary, they’re admired for their potency.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dirty Simon

My mom gave Cakes this cute little white bear when she was just born:

The bear, dubbed Simon, soon became her favourite friend. She can’t sleep without clutching Simon in her chubby fists. He’s in her arms when she wakes each morning.

Cakes and Simon are inseparable.

Unfortunately, one year later, Simon is looking rather worse for wear:

It's hard to tell from the picture, but instead of pristine white, he's now the colour of old dishwater. He's covered in suspicious stains.

Cakes has spit up on him, wiped cereal off her mouth with him, wiped her nose—she’s even wiped her arse with poor Simon.

I’ve washed him several times, and each time I do, I live in fear he won’t survive the spin cycle.

We’ve looked everywhere for a new Simon, but there is none to be found.

I’d like to steer her towards a new friendship. Simon smells bad. He’s embarrassing when we take him out in public. However, whenever I try to introduce her to someone new, she clutches Simon for dear life.

What's a mama to do?


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Toronto the Good, Part 3: Green Acres

Another reason Toronto rocks is all the green space.

Yep, contrary to popular belief, there is lots of it.

I love cruising down the DVP at night, winding through the huge expanse of green against the backdrop of city lights.

Last year we lived near High Park, a vast woodland covering almost 400 acres. It's especially stunning in the fall:

Just a short ferry ride away are the Toronto Islands a perfect place to enjoy a picnic and some play:

We recently visited Cherry Beach, five minutes away and our new favourite destination. A perfect place to watch the sailboats and soak up some rays:

There are no fewer than five parks in our new 'hood. We usually visit one or another about twice a day. We go early in the morning for some swinging and climbing and Cakes talks to her Chinese lady friends. We like to hit the splashpad in the late afternoon:

I make fun of my "wee" yard, but in truth, I like it that way. Instead of hangin' at home, we get out every day. There are many stay-at-home parents (yep, daddies too) around here and it's never hard to find playmates--for Cakes as well as me.

And the best part? No grass to mow.


America voted, and, tonight.......

warning! spoiler alert!

Dmitri and Martha are not safe.

I think America was right.

Dmitri lost me last night when he tore his shirt off. I did feel bad for him tonight though, when they screwed up and started the closing music when he was about to dance his little heart out.

Natalie should not have been in the bottom two.

Here is my current ranking:

1. Allison
2. Natalie
3. Donyelle
4. Heidi

1. Benji
2. Traviss
3. Ivan
4. Ryan

Loved, loved, loved the ghoulish opening number.

Who is this Jean Marc fool! I want Dan back!


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's Time To Get The Cheque When Your Wife Starts Hiccouphing

Last night Big Papa and I had one of those rare, magical, date nights.

We're making up for lost time after our dating drought.

My MIL is in town for a few days to help with Cakes while I goof off on blogs study for my final exam and Big Papa completes all of the chores around the house resulting from the Home Depot run. It's been bloody hot in hogtown this past week, so we purchased this sweet ceiling fan, which awesome BP dutifully installed:

I don't know why we didn't buy this bad boy sooner. Our air-conditioner has trouble keeping the third-floor bedroom cool and this baby does the trick. Plus, it has a remote (how cool is that) and a dimmer on the light (mood lighting! the saggy boobies look better in the dim).

Yesterday afternoon, my fantastic MIL (I need to do a whole post about her) took Cakes to the park for a swim and told BP and I to take off for the evening.

Now, much as I love Cakes, I spend an awful lot of time with her. I almost feel guilty about how happy I am to have a few hours away from her.

I said almost.

We started the evening with a couple of pints at Joy. We lounged on the patio and watched a (rather unsuccessful) juggler in Jimmie Simpson park.

After the pints we made our way to Verveine, where I had, what I determined to be in my top five best meals ever.

We started with a chilled white. BP usually orders the wine, but suggested I do it this time as I'm the one to extol the virtues of a cool white on a hot summer day. I selected an Australian Riesling, and when the waiter poured me a sip, I affixed the appropriate serious expression, and did the sniff, swirl and sip. I nodded my approval and our cute waiter poured us a tumbler.

We both started with a cool potato and leek soup. BP had halibut and I had duck breast with warm salad, pear and a sauce to die for. It was fucking heavenly.

For dessert, we shared a ridiculous chocolate concoction.

If you're looking for nice place for a special occasion, this place's for you.

After dinner, we stumbled ambled back to Barrio for a nightcap. I had a delicious Espresso martini. We sat at the bar and as we questioned the interesting looking labels of open bottles of wine, the bartender poured us tastes.

There was a band coming on at 10, and we would have loved to stay but I was already hiccoughing (that's what you get for going out at 4:30).

I wish I had some wink-wink-nudge-nudge, but by the time we made it to bed we were too tuckered (and I was too tipsy), mood lighting and all.

We'll just have to make up for it.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

One of our local restaurants has posted this sign on their door:

There's nowhere to leave a stroller outside, so they're basically saying they don't want kids. Plus, in the pre-sign days, Penelope and I were there once with the girls and the reception was decidedly frosty (in their defense, Penelope said she went back once after that and they were fine).

My first reaction to this sign is, "fuck you, you're not getting any more of my business" (and that's the reaction of at least one other mom in the 'hood).

This isn't the first sign like this I've seen. There's a furniture store we (used to) like at Queen and Bathurst with a sign that discourages "SUV sized strollers".

My second reaction is to consider that, well, maybe they have the right to have signs like this. But I wonder why they have them? Are children and strollers really that inconvenient? I can't rememeber the last time I was in a restaurant and was annoyed by a child. Aren't most parents pretty considerate of other diners and restaurant staff?

Personally, we only take Cakes with us for brunch or lunch. If we want to go out to dinner, we go alone. If we are out, and Cakes gets noisy, one of us takes her outside. We bring lots of toys, tip well, and pick up all the Cheerios off the floor when we leave.

The offending restaurant is not a fine-dining establishment--they're not even open for dinner.

What pisses me off is that I think they have signs like this because they think kids (and parents) aren't cool.

These too cool for school Queen Street joints don't want the babes spoiling their image.

I think this is stupid of them, as they'll lose out on a lot of business (especially in my neighbourhood where there are lots of parents, and lots of great places to eat*) but that's their choice.

Now if only they would put up a sign like this:


* If you're looking for a kid-friendly restaurant (and excellent food) in Leslieville/South Riverdale, try: Verveine, Joy Bistro, Kubo Radio, and Bonjour Brioche.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Money Changes Everything

I’m going to talk about a taboo subject today.

No, not that…get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about money.

One of the biggest adjustments for me as a SAHM is no longer bringing home my own paycheque.

I started earning my own money, babysitting, when I was twelve. I had my first real job at 15 (in a library) and have supported myself ever since. I put myself through college and university. I managed my own finances. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I got by.

Ironically, it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve finally been debt-free and earning a pretty decent salary—just in time to give it up.


That’s not the issue though. We’re happy with our decision to have a smaller family income. We’ve made adjustments—we have one car, no cable, and we eat out less often. We’re concerned about having enough money to do the travelling we want to do, but that can wait a couple of years if it has to.

What concerns me about not having my own income is lack of autonomy (or a perceived lack of it). I need to have money that is mine and mine alone. Luckily, I have a little nest egg--last year, the company I worked for went public and the owners gave their employees stock in the company. Also, my skills are in demand right now and I think I could get back into the workforce easily if I needed to (this may not be case in a couple of years). If it weren’t for these two things, it would have been much harder to stop working.

My marriage is rock solid, but I still need to have my own resources. I just do.

Sorting out the logistics is another issue. BP and I have always had a pretty relaxed system. We have our own bank accounts and we just take turns paying for stuff. Now that there is nothing coming in, I have to stop paying for stuff out of my account.

We’re making BP’s account a joint one, but I don’t like giving up my privacy. I don’t want him to know how much his birthday present cost. He doesn’t always need to know how much Cakes’ new shoes were.

BP suggested that we top up my account every few months so I can just keep continue using it. My first reaction was, hooray, I’ll be getting paid for my work. Then I thought, wait a minute, does that insinuate BP’s my boss? (ha, fat chance) And then I thought, but wait….I’ll be getting paid from the family’s money, so no, he’s not my boss.

Am I over-thinking this? Does anyone have a clever system they want to share?

. . . he that wants money, means, and content, is without three good friends.--Shakespeare


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Farewell, Musa

Well, the Think You Can Dance results tonight were no surprise.

I knew Ashlee was going--I think that decision is sound.

For the boys, I figured it would be Musa or Dmitri.

I'm really going to miss Musa, and his chemistry with Natalie. He's so cool and his moves are so slick. He's just not very versatile though.

On the other hand, I would have missed Dmitri's abs. However, he doesn't completely turn my crank--he's just a little too aware of his hotness.

I've finally chosen my favourite to win, and she is......


I really like Natalie too...I hope we get some good rivalry going on, like Ashlee and Melody last season.

I'm stoked about the new format next week. My friend down the street has a big plasma. I'm going to try to watch at her house. I'm tired of squinting at Dmitri's abs on my 10-year-old piece of shit TV.

Who's your favourite?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Long Overdue Date Night

We’re making the most of having my mom in town this week. Yesterday was a full day.

In the morning, we all went to Joy Bistro (great patio and 8 different kinds of eggs benny!) for brunch. Cakes was excellent. She quietly ate her cheerios and cheese while we had breakfast--until I made the mistake of giving her some of my smoked salmon. Then she wouldn’t leave us alone until all of the salmon was gone.

BP and I left Cakes and Grandma at home and did another massive Home Depot run. I am so sick of that hellhole. We bought another two-hundred dollars worth of crap.

Last night we had our first date night in a long time. We started early, stealing out of the house at 5 pm. We went for a beer and an appie on a patio on Spadina. There was a guy wearing those fucking ugly garden clogs. What’s up with those things? I’m seeing them everywhere lately. They’re for the garden, people!

A cute little old man strode by in army fatigues and a feather in his cap (a different guy from the army guy in BWV). I love people watching.

Then we checked out a Fringe play called Flamenco Con Fusion, an odd blend of flamenco and breakdancing. It was pretty cool. I want to try to get to at least one more fringe show while mom’s here. Someone is doing a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch that I’d like to see.

After the show we walked to College for a stroll and had a glass of wine and a big bowl of pasta outside. We planned to go for a nightcap, but could barely keep our eyes open by 11:00 so we came home and had a port of the roof deck.

Okay, you're not getting any more details.

I don't kiss and tell. Much.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Imelda in the Making

I’m battling an addiction to Site Meter.

We live in a tall, skinny house—I deliberately leave the computer on the third floor so it will be harder to obsessively refresh my meter.

A couple of times a day, I give in to my curiosity and let Cakes scramble up the stairs to our bedroom. She likes to play in our closet with my shoes while I check my meter and quickly get off a couple of comments.

Yesterday, I went into the closet to collect her and I found a new addition to my shoe collection:

Being the loving parents we are, we nurture her new passion.

She has some catching up to do.

It’s been a lovely weekend. Yesterday, BP let me sleep in and took Cakes out for the entire morning. I had a nice long shower, breakfast in the garden, and finished a draft of my essay. I have an exam on the 24th, then six blissful weeks off before the next term starts. I plan to read Caitlin Flanagan’s book, then get a head start on next term’s reading list.

We took Cakes to Cherry Beach for the first time. She loved it. She has no fear of the water—she immediately made a beeline for the lake and protested when I wouldn’t let her in past her knees. We also spent a lot of time at the splash pad at our local park.

We saw Capote – it was excellent. I would definitely recommend it. Philip Seymour Hoffman is amazing.

We did a lot of grilling on the new BBQ.

My mom arrived tonight (she’s staying for the week). We had a nice dinner, then went for drinks next door. The neighbours worked all day on their new garden. It looks beautiful. I am feeling inspired with ideas to steal.


Friday, July 07, 2006

There's No Such Thing as a Virtual Friend

Many thanks to my talented friend Christine, who designed this new image for my blog. The background is a picture she took from our roof deck when she last visited. Yep, that’s Cakes and I superimposed, with some cool PhotoShop tricks. She also deserves credit for the amazing photo of Cakes I use for my profile.

I met Christine a few years ago when I first moved to Toronto, through a website called Two For the Show. The site, as its title implies, is geared towards people who are new to cities, tired of going to shows alone, and looking for new buddies. My profile caught her eye because of our shared love of Austen, John Irving, and the theatre. We agreed to meet for Shakespeare in High Park. We hit it off instantly. After the show, we went to the local pub. We knew we’d be pals when we both ordered beers, grilled cheese, and fries. She’s since moved to London but has an excellent overseas phone plan, so we’ve kept up rather nicely. She’s visited twice and has put up with our guest room next to the room of a baby who likes to start her day at 5 am when we have company.

So, when the blogging mamas decided to get together, I must admit I wasn’t really nervous. Okay, maybe I was just a little nervous about Cakes having a meltdown and assaulting another baby (which she did). But, I knew the women would hit it off.

A friendship formed online is no less real than any other friendship. I think friendships form in this community particularly rapidly—there is a an openness here that is conductive to getting to know the real person, while stripping away the formalities and pretensions sometimes present in other interactions. We have so much in common before we even begin—most of us are mothers and a lot of us love writing and literature. These commonalities are a great start. Add to that, support, understanding and encouragement, and you have friendship.

I think it was wonderful some of us were able to meet. I hope we will do it again—I think we will. However, I think there are people here I will never meet, but who nevertheless will become very good friends. There is no such thing as a “virtual” friend--these friendships are real.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cakes and Big Papa

All about my loves:


Fancy Pants

Happy Halloween!

Daddy's Girl

A Lot to Come Home To

Late Long Weekend Recap

Surrounded By Idiots

Turn Down the Volume

Twice Bitten

Snapshots and Tidbits

Hooray for Snow Days

Little Miss Personality

No Faith

Speaking Slooowly

Music to My Ears

The Art of Negotiation

Preschool Blues

The Absentminded (but sweet!) Husband

Shopping Maniac

Heart, Melted

Sugar and Spice and Finally Nice

Buddy Juice

Parenting Styles, Part Deux

Be Careful What You Wish For

Those Things You Do

Use Your Words

How to Buy a Little Blogging Time

Birthday Principessa

Turning Two

Getting to Know McHotty

Parenting Syles

She Loves Me, She Really Loves Me

Alpha Babe

Love is Having to Say You're Sorry

Take Off to the Great White North

Bear Hug

A Poem for McHotty


A Poem for Cakes

Toddler Delights


Pretend Play

The Holidays in Pictures!

BP Guest Blog: I Love My Job

That's My Girl!

BP Guest Blog: The Single Mother

If Looks Could Kill

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

A Babe's Work Never Ends

Cakes Guest Blog: 13 Things I Hate

My Baby's Cuter Than Your Baby

Stealing My Kisses

I Married the Boy Next Door

BP Guest Blog: He Said, She Said

Untimely Proposal

BP Guest Blog: Buying the Ring

Wedding Story

The Babe in Black

You May Kiss My Hand, Loyal Subject

Imelda in the Making

My Husband, the Metrosexual

A Tribute to Big Papa

Monkey Business

Wee Garden Makeover

We finally have out backyard put together. Here is the before…

And the after!

I think it will be lovely next summer when the plants fill in. I planted a climbing hydrangea that will hopefully obliterate the sight of the garage. There’s a clematis and lilies along the fence. I planted a mini blue spruce and a tree peony in the bed in the foreground.

Maybe we mama bloggers could have a perennial swap next spring.

Our family room is finally finished after the flooded basement incident. We are so happy to have our stereo hooked up again--we cranked the Johnny Cash this morning(luckily, Cakes is also a fan of the man in black).

Monday night we had Penelope and family over for the inaugural BBQ. Big Papa prepared a wonderful meal of grilled sweet and spicy chicken (with a fantastic sauce), new potatoes and asparagus. I was a little worried about dinner at first. Big Papa, enjoying the cuddly Bumblebee (Cakes is never cuddly anymore) became distracted from the grill. The next thing we knew, the potatoes were on fire. Then I noticed the chicken seemed to be stuck to the grill. I asked if I should call Kubo, to which BP responded with a baleful look.

I shouldn't have doubted him--dinner was great (as usual), despite the crispy potatoes. Penelope brought a delicious homemade shortcake with fresh blueberries and strawberries. The company was outstanding as well--it sure is nice to have friends who are going through the same thing we are (Bumblebee is only a week older than Cakes). Cooking outside + great conversion + cold beer = good times.


We have one more project. We need a brilliant idea to hide the noise and ugliness of this air conditioner. Whatever we do needs to allow access to the hose and electrical outlet located below it. Any ideas, smart readers? Also, how can I get Cakes to stop eating mulch?


Monday, July 03, 2006

Birth Story

Warning: The following is frank, graphic, and extremely long. You may want to stop reading now. Light-hearted martini and pedicure blogging will return soon.

It’s been just over 13 months since I gave birth to Cakes. Her birth, and the months immediately after, were the hardest days of my life. I haven’t discussed her birth much with friends or family. I never really told the whole story to anyone because I didn’t want to be a whiner, gross anyone out, or remind myself of what happened. However, since her one-year birthday, it’s been on my mind. I need to get it off my chest.

Timothy Findley says, “memory is the means by which most of us retain our sanity. The act of remembrance is good for people”.

I hope that writing this will be cathartic and the act of remembering will be good for me.

Throughout my pregnancy, I never really worried about giving birth. I thought it would be incredibly painful, but I would quickly request an epidural and enjoy a pain-free, uneventful delivery after which I would put the baby to my breast and we would bond instantly.

It was nothing like that.

I finished work on a Friday in May and planned to have three blissful weeks of reading novels before my baby was due. I had appointments for a pedicure and a haircut. I planned to stock the freezer with meals. Three days later, on May 17, I went for a routine check-up where my doctor found my blood pressure was high. He sent me straight to the hospital where they decided to induce me because of the possibility of hypertension.

I was apprehensive, but also elated. I was going to see my baby in a few hours. I wouldn’t be spending the next three weeks in nervous anticipation. (I was very naïve—I purposely didn’t read a lot about birth complications because I didn’t want to scare myself. I knew nothing about induction).

I excitedly called several people to tell them I would soon have good news to report. They put a gel inside me to start dilating my cervix. Hours later, nothing had happened so they put me on oxytocin to start contractions. This had the effect of giving me what felt like the most horrible menstrual cramps ever. 12 sleepless hours later, there was still nothing, so they increased the oxytocin. By Wednesday afternoon (still sleepless), nothing had happened so my doctor decided to break my water.

He broke my water at 4 pm. It was unbelievably painful. Nothing happened at first, then pain that I cannot describe. I am usually a stoic person. I was screaming, and begging and pleading for drugs. Because of my high blood pressure, the anaesthesiologist refused to give me an epidural until he received some test results.

This went on for two excruciating hours. Finally, at 6:00 I received the epidural. Ah, bliss. I calmed down and prepared myself for my storybook birth.

Six hours later, I finally delivered Cakes. I had an episiotomy, but that was OK since I was still under the effects of the epidural. Big Papa cut the cord. I was exhausted and elated and didn’t notice BP’s anxiety (I found out later Cakes was breathing weakly when she was born. BP, having a lot of medical training, noticed Cakes was white as a ghost and that there was an extra doctor called to the room). She ended up being fine. They put her on my breast and she didn’t feed, but they told me we could try again soon). We were soon transferred to the mother and baby unit.

I finally slept, for the first time since Monday, for a couple of hours. I woke up, at around 4 in the morning, bleary and confused, to a soaked bed. The bed was covered in blood. I had haemorrhaged. They put me on pitocin. The next couple of days are a blur. The effects of the pitocin were extremely painful, plus it left me with no control over my bodily functions. I spend the next two days having my triple-layered maxi-pads and diapers changed. I was on a catheter. I received three units of blood.

Needless to say, breastfeeding did not go well.

They brought me an electric breast pump which I dutifully used. They told us not to introduce a bottle, so Big Papa (who also hadn’t slept in days) spent hours finger-feeding Cakes.

We were finally sent home, five days later.

The next six weeks were extremely difficult. I won’t go into it all here (it’s another post) but we struggled with breast-feeding and finger feeding and finally resigned ourselves to feeding her a combination of formula and pumped breast milk. I was really weak at first, but steadily improved. Big Papa was a superstar.

Six weeks after Cakes birth, I was going to the bathroom one day when blood started gushing out of me. I had been bleeding the whole time (we’ve all been through that), but this was like a faucet. The toilet was filled with blood. We called an ambulance and they took us to the hospital closest to our home (not the same one where I gave birth). It was Friday of Canada Day weekend. They put me on Pitocin again (even more agonizing this time). Big Papa and Cakes spent hours in emerg with me. No one knew what was wrong. Later that night, a crack-head who had been hit by a car was admitted and put in the bed next to us. He wouldn’t stop screaming and cursing, and he carried on for hours with just a curtain separating us.

They finally told us they would be keeping me in emerg overnight so I sent BP and Cakes home. The night was terrifying. They kept me on the Pitocin. They put a bedpan underneath me to catch the blood that continued to flow. They wouldn’t answer questions to my satisfaction.

I know this sounds melodramatic (and there was probably no real possibility) but I honestly feared I was going to die. What I remember most is a profound feeling of loss and regret that Cakes may not have a mother. What would happen to BP? I was completely and absolutely terrified.

The next day they did a D&C and they inserted a balloon inside my uterus to staunch the bleeding. It worked. If it hadn’t, the next step they were going to take was a hysterectomy.

I received another two units of blood and was discharged on Monday (one year ago today).

I found out (much) later that I had a condition called placenta accreta, where part of the placenta becomes embedded in the uterine wall. It’s a rare condition (1 in 2500) and is very unlikely to happen again.

We are doing great now, but this whole experience has had a lasting impact. Firstly, I feel cheated for not having the type of birth I envisioned. I am so envious of those whose first memories of their baby are pleasant ones. I can hardly read those happy birth stories. I know many other women have also had difficult births but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m bitter.

Secondly, I am terrified at the thought of giving birth again. This fear is affecting my decision whether or not to have another child. Big Papa says it’s a huge factor for him as well. I feel so badly for him for all he went through.


Writing this wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve wanted to write it for a long time, but was afraid it would be too painful. It wasn’t that bad. I even had trouble remembering some of the details.

Findley also says, “memory is a form of hope. If the memory is a bad one, say of pain or of a death—then it’s clouded. The sharpness is blunted. We remember that we were in pain. But the pain itself cannot be recalled exactly. Not as it was. Because, if we could recall it, then we’d have to be in pain again—and that, except where there’s psychological disorder, is a physical and mental impossibility. If you’ve ever had a bad accident, then you’ll remember that you can’t remember what happened. But you can recall joy. You can make yourself laugh again and feel again something joyous that happened before. Of course, you can make yourself cry again, too. But the tears aren’t as valid as the laughter, because the tears you conjure have as much to do with the passage of time as with the sadness you remember. Still, a sad memory is better than none. It reminds you of survival”.

A wise man.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

What a Difference a Year Makes

The long weekend has been rather delightful thus far. I can’t describe how nice it is to actually enjoy this summer, compared to the previous summer when it seemed like we were just barely getting by. A year ago, Cakes was colicky and we spent at least an hour a night singing “Burning Ring of Fire” to calm her. One year ago, it was stinking hot and we were stuck in our one-bedroom apartment waiting for a house we thought would never be built. A year ago, sleep was just a fond memory, I had only one pair of shorts that fit, and I spent hours per day hooked up to an electric breast pump, like a cow.

Exactly one year ago today, I was in the hospital receiving a blood transfusion after a six-week post-partum hemorrhage. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. But that’s a post for another day.

Yesterday, I joined the Toronto mamas for an afternoon play date. Of course, on a day when I desperately want Cakes to have a good nap so she will be her most charming self, she sleeps for only 20 minutes.

The ladies were all as lovely and articulate in person as they appear in the blogsphere. I was having a good time, but unfortunately, Cakes was bouncing off the walls. After she stole all of WonderBaby’s biscuits and then pushed her over I, mortified, thought it was best to say adieu.

When we returned home, we went for a BBQ with two couples across the street. One couple has an 11-month-old boy they achieved via in-vitro, and the other just brought home a little girl from China (the same age as Cakes). Makes me very thankful we were able to make Cakes the old-fashioned way. We brought some tabouleh Big Papa had whipped up and they grilled Tandoori chicken and asparagus. They brought out exersaucers and jumpers and we let the little ones go nuts on the grass. Cakes lasted well through dinner but soon after, we could tell a meltdown was imminent so we dashed before dessert.

Cakes passed out five minutes after we got in the door, so I didn’t feel bad deserting Big Papa to hook up with the blogging gals again for drinks. It was much more relaxing without the babe. Conversation flowed easily and we discovered a shared penchant for gin and tonics (hooray!).

I actually went to high school with Sunshine Scribe! I’m a little embarrassed as I was a loser in high school. But, as we all know, people change, and I don’t think she held it against me.

I look forward to seeing these ladies again.

Big Papa’s working today. Cakes and I spent most of the day at the park. They have the wading pools open now and we tried it for the first time. She loved it! Lots of her friends were around too, and we had a very pleasant day.

Tonight I went next door for wine and dessert. It appears so far, the big fence isn’t a barrier to our newfound friendship.

Wow, it is nice to be among the living again.


Today the Toronto Star selected the "best of Canadian culture". Find the full article here. Let me know your thoughts on these, particularly the books.

I'm glad to see Atwood and Munro on this list. Lives of Girls and Women isn't my favorite Munro--I would have rather seen For the Love of a Good Woman (what do they have against short stories?) By the same token, where is Carol Shields?

I'm very happy to see Green Grass, Running Water on the list. If you haven't read this, you simply must.

Anyone particularly happy with a pick? Any glaring ommissions?


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