metro mama

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Married the Boy Next-Door

Big Papa and I are celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary on Wednesday; we’ve been together for 6 years. Leading up to the milestone, this blog will be all about romance, starting with the story of how we met…

I was twenty-seven. I’d just decided I needed to make some big changes: I sold my house and moved into an apartment; I decided to go back to university. I was spending lots of time with friends, and having a pretty good time, but I was getting tired of sleeping with my two cats.

About a week after I moved into the apartment, I was sitting in my tiny backyard with a girlfriend, enjoying a cold beer. We heard someone at the door of the apartment next to mine, on the other side of the fence. We surreptitiously peered over and discovered, to our delight, my next-door neighbour was a hottie. He looked like he was returning from the gym—all sweaty and sexy. We ogled and giggled, then returned to our pints. I told my friend I would get busy and meet my new neighbour post haste.

The next night, I paid attention and noticed he pulled in to our common parking area at around six-ish. The night after that, I left my groceries in my car, planning to go out and retrieve them when he arrived. He was late; my ice cream was melting; I wanted to change into my track-pants and veg on the couch, so I gave up—that night.

The next night, I donned my shortest shorts, filled a bucket with hot soapy water, and started scrubbing my car (a first). Bingo! A few minutes later, he pulls in. He parks, and shyly approaches me and introduces himself.

“We should have a drink sometime,” I simper.

“I’d really like that,” he replies, sincerely, in his beautiful, quiet manner.

Holy shit! A hottie who doesn’t know he’s a hottie. He’s actually, gasp, shy!

Luckily, I am not so shy. Although I had never asked out a man before, the very next night I was, again, enjoying a cocktail outside with a friend. I told her about the exchange the evening before.

“Invite him over; I want to meet him,” she orders.

I think for about two seconds. “OK!” (She’s a lesbian; therefore, not competition.)

I knock on the door and he answers right away. He’s glad to see me! He says he’d love to join us, selects a nice bottle of red from his counter, and follows me to my place. The three of us enjoy the wine; then we take him to my favourite watering hole, The Red Dog tavern. We dance all night to a rock ‘n’ roll cover band and get home at 3 am. Outside my door, we kiss for about an hour--a little sloppy and wet, but wonderful.

The very next night, we did Chinese take-out and movies. We were pretty much inseparable after that. It was kind of awkward at first, dating the boy next-door—you’re never sure how often you should stop by, or if you should phone first. A couple of friends said I shouldn’t “shit in my own backyard”.

I’m glad I didn’t listen.

Coming next: how Big Papa proposed.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wee Garden Update

Sadly, the summer is drawing to a close. The first summer in our new home has been amazing and the wee garden deserves a lot of the credit. Big Papa has 'cued up some mighty fine meals for our friends and neighbours. Already, there has been many bottle of wine drunk by candlelight on the patio. I've revelled in getting my hands dirty, and our botanical friends have rewarded me--they've put down roots and are flourishing, just like we are.

The mini blue spruce that Big Papa purchased (recklessly ignoring my instructions to buy a juniper) loves its tiny new habitat...

The impatiens and coralbells are jostling for standing room...

Hibiscus gone wild! What are we going to do with this thing in the winter?

Papa has plenty of fresh herbs to choose from for his culinary delights...

This is the first time I've ever successfully grown a clematis...

This mandevilla (a house-warming gift) is getting rather chummy with the lilies...

We've come a long way from the waste-land, baby!


Papa returned to us tonight after a 5-day out-of-town training exercise; I thought Cakes would be ecstatic but she acknowledged his return with a nonchalant wave. Are babies like dogs, with no concept of time? I was so busy with blogging and partying with blogger chicks, I didn’t realize how much I missed him until he returned. I welcomed him home by cooking him dinner (a rare occasion); I grilled up some mahi-mahi. I must say, it was perfectly done, despite the fact that I, uncharacteristically, ignored the President’s instructions and followed my grilling instincts (such as they are). We uncorked a bottle of yellow tail, threw on the new Foos album I purchased when I was jeans shopping, and had ourselves a grand time.

Now, I’m not going to give you smut--let’s just say I will never look at my living-room furniture the same way again.

Absence makes more than the heart grow fonder.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

All Things Austen (and a Little WonderBaby Thrown In)

My talented friend Christine (who designed my banner) is a huge Jane Austen fan, like I am. She sent me this email today and these fantastic pictures:

I just got back from a little trip to Derbyshire. I visited Chatsworth House, which is believed to have been Jane Austen’s inspiration for Pemberley in “Pride and Prejudice” (the Pemberley scenes in the last P&P movie were also filmed there). The description of Pemberley’s location, house and grounds in the book matches Chatsworth perfectly; not only that, but its master at the time, the Duke of Devonshire, had a wife named Georgiana. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, it’s an absolutely staggering place; more impressive than most of the palaces I’ve been to. I would have married any man who owned this house - even Mr. Collins!

Aren't these photos magnificent! I might have been able to put up with Collins for a pad like this. There would be lots of gardeners around to get it on with.

She also sent me links to a couple of great websites: this Jane Austen blog is fabulous. I could spend days here. Are you back yet? It’s a rabbit hole, I know. Here's a link to the Jane Austen Festival website, which lucky Christine will be attending in September. It looks like so much fun. They kick off the festivities with a costumed promenade. Chris will take lots of pics and I’ll post them here.

Finally, who can resist a quiz? Try this one, and report back which Jane Austen character you are. Here’s mine:

You scored as Marianne Dashwood. You're Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! More dramatic and emotional than your sister Elinor, you have no trouble saying what you think and showing people how you feel about them. However, you usually know when to keep your mouth shut. Which Jane Austen heroine are you?
created with

Alpha Babies - Round Two

We need to bring more biscuits when WonderBaby and Cakes get together...

WonderBaby--Cakes challenges you to a re-match. Tuesday. Withrow. Be there!


Monday, August 28, 2006

Muffin Top Covers - The Best Invention EVER!

I haven’t bought new clothing in a long time. I went on the scale last night and, to my delight, discovered I now weigh what I did when I met Big Papa six years ago. Who needs a gym when you have a 26-pound baby and a three-story house? Plus, all of Papa’s fish and veggies have helped too. Before I met him, I ate pasta five nights a week.

Having hardly any pants that fit properly, this morning I decided to head to the mall for new jeans. Catherine looked so hot in her skinny jeans Saturday night, I was inspired to give them a try. I went to Jean Machine, grabbed three pairs and headed for the change-room. It was the worst kind of jean-shopping scenario--mirrors on the outside of the stall and a male salesperson. It’s bad enough to have to scrutinize your own ass from every angle in front of the whole store without having some guy watching you do it.

I was composing this post in my head on the streetcar on my way to the mall. This is the part where I thought I’d laugh at myself about how shitty the jeans looked, and describe how I fled the store in horror, empty-handed. But, I can’t! The jeans actually looked pretty good. I’d better mark this occasion on the calendar.

The third pair I tried was a winner. After close examination, I was happy with the way my ass looked, but frowning at my bulging midriff.

“Do you have anything higher cut?” I asked the dude.

“No, that’s the style.” he replied, patiently.

He looked at my dimpled flesh thoughtfully, disappeared for a moment, and returned with a stretchy black tube of fabric.

“Do you know what this is?” he asked.

“No.” WTF?

“You wear it over you jeans instead of a belt, then put your t-shirt over it, so you get the layered tee look. And, um, it hides your tummy.”

“A muffin top cover!” I exclaim. “Let me try it!”

I snatch the thing, go back in my stall and try it on. Holy fuck! This is the best invention ever. It holds in the blubber, and now I will be able to sit on a bar stool without everyone behind me getting an eyeful of white, dimply back fat. I look like I’m wearing layered tees, and I can’t actually wear layered tees because I’m so damned hot all the time ever since I had a baby.

“Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!” I exclaim to the dude, hugging and kissing him. (OK, this is an exaggeration—but only slightly).

“You’re welcome,” he replies, looking embarrassed but pleased.

I am one happy mama. Now, if only I knew what shoes one wears with skinny jeans.


I didn’t watch the Emmys last night, even though it was on the one channel we can get with our antenna. I limit myself to one award show per year and this year I spent 6 hours watching the Oscars like I always do. The Oscars are so boring. You have to find ways to liven things up--my friend Christine and I swilled a bottle of champagne, ate a whole gourmet pizza, and made fun of everyone’s gowns. Anyway, back to Emmys—-I’m pissed that Dennis Leary did not win. That’s fucked up. And I’m not just saying that because of my firefighter fetish either. Don't you think?


Sunday, August 27, 2006

What Happens When Toronto Bloggers Get Together





It was another fab night out for Toronto mama bloggers. Like last time, the conversation flowed as easily as the gin. I met the ladies at 6 pm and didn't roll in the door until 3 am (it's been a long time since I've done that).

One of the conversations we had was how most bloggers are, in person, exactly as you imagine them to be. That sure is true of our TO Mamas: Jana is so cool (and has gorgeous hair by the way); Nadine is hilarious and outspoken; all of the women are intelligent, articulate, and fun (sorry for not linking everyone up, but I'm tired and a little hungover and I need to finish this in time to squeeze in a nap before Cakes wakes up).

Another conversation we had was about why we all started blogging. My motivation was to practice writing, with faint hope I might meet a like-minded woman or two. I never dreamt I'd meet twelve.

Many thanks to Tania and Catherine for organizing the event. Thanks to the super-cool 10 Spot:

For those who missed this one--we're doing it again soon. NO EXCUSES! Hope to meet you soon.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Favourite Posts

Here are some of my personal faves:


Hot and Stymied

Real Moms

2006 You've Been Good To Me

Gainful Employment

Baby and Marriage

I Married the Boy Next-Door

Not a Baby Anymore

Cheerios Under Siege

Metro Mama Reviews: The Girls

Lori Lansens’ second novel, The Girls, is fresh and original. The novel is written from the perspective of conjoined twins, Ruby and Rose. Rose is writing her memoirs and Ruby persuades her their life story cannot be told without including her perspective. Ruby contributes her chapters to be incorporated when the book is finished--the result is an arresting narrative of interweaving voices.

Both humorous and poignant, Lansens convincingly imparts the unique joys and challenges the connected twins experience. She adroitly tackles the most intimate of subject matter, including sexuality, love, and death.

The Girls
is powerful and emotive.

Lori Lansens is a screenwriter living in Toronto with her husband and two children. She wrote her first novel, Rush Home Road, when she was pregnant with her first child. She was breastfeeding her two children when she wrote The Girls and drew on the sense of attachment she experienced to describe the conjoined twins’ connectedness. Lansens was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario.


Friday, August 25, 2006

The Babe in Black

I love you because.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dave Grohl's My Hero

The Foos were sooo awesome last night. I had such a good time. Dave Grohl can still rock out like nobody’s business, even sitting down with an acoustic guitar. He was spellbinding. It was a two-hour show and it felt like it was over in twenty minutes.

I’m totally running out to get all their albums now.

I never knew Dave Grohl was such a funny guy. He chatted a lot between songs and he has a great sense of humour. He really shares the stage with his fellow musicians too.

My only complaint about the concert was that I found it hard to stay sitting. The people around us were a little too mellow.

Speaking of mellow, last night I couldn’t help but think about how much more mellow I am these days. While I’ll never be as sedate as the stiffs sitting next to us last night, I no longer do the kinds of things at concerts that I did ten years ago. Some examples: flashing my boobs at Gord Downie at the Tragically Hip show in Cayuga; being as fucked up as Keith Richards at the Stones Voodoo Lounge show; injecting citrus fruit with vodka to smuggle into Molson Park to see Van Halen et al.

Who am I kidding. I would probably still do those things. Well, except maybe flashing the girls, but only because they’re not looking so pert these days.

I had a really good time Tuesday night too. Sunshine and I saw Comedy of Errors in High Park. Shakespeare under the stars, good company, and tetra paks—what more does a girl want?

I leave you with this. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Motherhood Doesn't Have To Be Boring

A couple of you have already written about Rebecca Eckler’s article, Motherhood is Boring, and I’ll add my ten cents.

In case you haven’t read it, the article talks about the “new wave of straight-talking feminists” who aren’t afraid to admit that motherhood is boring. They would rather hit happy hour than take their child to the park. Motherhood is "mind-numbing".

Now, as you know, I have nothing against happy hour, and though I have my own issues about being a stay-at-home mom, boredom is not one of them. Like many things, it’s all about what you make of it. Sure, if we sat around the house all day we’d both be bored. Instead, we go to our drop-in every morning, and the park almost every afternoon. There are usually plenty of people to talk to. It’s not boring. Reading the same book over and over? It’s the only time I get to cuddle my baby anymore—also not boring.

Of course, there are aspects of motherhood that become tedious. The same can be said of any work: meetings, commuting, email. That doesn’t make the work itself boring.

The thing is, I don’t need to be mentally stimulated every waking hour. There are many hours of the day that Cakes sleeps—plenty of time for me to read, write, and work on my studies. That’s enough for me. In fact, now that I’m spending so much time chilling out with my babe, when I do tackle something intellectual, I have more energy for it.

I spend most of my day doing things with my baby. That is what I signed up for. I didn’t have a baby to entertain myself. It’s my job to nurture, teach, and amuse her. She deserves nothing less.


Monday, August 21, 2006

You May Kiss My Hand, Loyal Subject

I’m raising a princess.

My next-door neighbour has a little game he plays with Cakes. He adopts the cutest “baby voice”, puts on a big smile, and takes Cakes’ hand, giving her loud, exuberant kisses.

At first she was a little scared by this, but she’s gradually grown used to it. Now she grins with delight when he does it.

The other day, I was standing on the porch with Cakes in my arms, when Alan stepped outside. I said hello, then looked down at my girl as he laughed at her.

She had her little hand held out, and a coy smile.



After my whining about my lack of social life, I find my calendar nice and full this week. Today I went for lunch with Penelope and Knitrovert at the Black Bull, our favourite patio. It was a perfect day to soak up the rays and knock back a couple of pints. After lunch we went to Kensington Market to walk off the midday beer buzz. I bought a whole bunch of sweet buttons at Courage My Love for my mom's upcoming crochet projects: monkeys, ladybugs, abcs, rainbows--all for ridiculously cheap. I bought Cakes a Johnny Cash tee (every babe should have a Johnny Cash tee).

Tomorrow night is Shakespeare with Sunshine; Wednesday night I'm going to the Foo Fighters acoustic show at the Hummingbird Centre; Saturday is the big TO Mamas spa-tastic get-together. Papa and Cakes are going to have lots of good quality time this week.


Sunday, August 20, 2006



Imagine All The People

More Italia

Venice, Baby!

Sipping and Cybering



I Heart Da Chi


Lovin' London

I Just Can't Stop Blogging

Ode to Hamstead

My Cup Runneth Over

Feeling Like a Million Pounds

To Blog Or Not To Blog

Eager Delight


It's Better in Acapulco

Moveable Feast

Paree: Part 2


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Metro Mama Reviews: Dropped Threads 3

The latest conquest in my reading frenzy is Dropped Threads 3, the third collection of essays from Canadian women about the lives of women. I loved the first two Dropped Threads collections (co-edited by Carol Shields), though they are, at times, a tough read—the theme of the first is “things you haven’t been told” and the subject matter is not light.

The theme of this collection is “this I know”. The book reminds me of the blogosphere; the editor, Marjorie Anderson, describes the stories as “one means of getting a trusted inside view—This is how wisdom, love, joy, betrayal, fear, regret have been for us. No assertions of absolute truth, no earth-shaking revelations or attempts to manipulate another’s belief, just individual voices making individual claims on the discovery of meaning”. Well put.

The stories cover a wide range of topics, from family, to nature, to sexuality. There are several stories about motherhood. Some stories that stood out for me:

· The Road to Kihande Village, Melanie D. Janzen’s story about her study of how women in a small village in Uganda work together to support their families and community.

· I am a Mother. Tracey Ann Coveart, stay-at-home mom, writes about her difficulty in answering simply, “I am a mother” to the dreaded cocktail party query, “what do you do?”.

· In Uncharted Waters, Silken Laumann candidly discusses the doubts and restlessness she feels sometimes with parenting.

· Work and Its Dubious Delights. Aritha van Herk talks about the joys and challenges of academia.

· The Inoculation. Heather Mallick’s warning tale about “fuckfaces”, those bad boyfriends who can waste years of your life. Mallick was my favourite Globe and Mail columnist – does anyone know what happened to her column?

· Fu: The Turning Point. Janice Williamson describes her experience of adopting a child from China.

· In the Presence of Grace. This story, by Cathy Stonehouse, brought me to tears. Her unborn child diagnosed with trisomy-18, a woman opts to deliver her baby (instead of having her surgically removed), bury her, and mourn her as she deserves.

I highly recommend all three Dropped Threads collections. I’m a big fan of short stories in general—two of my favourite writers are Hemingway and Alice Munro. They’re perfect for squeezing in during baby’s naptime. Far better time spent than doing housework, I say.


Movie Reco: Match Point

Last night we saw the best film we’ve seen in a long time, Match Point, Woody Allen’s latest. It's set in London. Chris (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), a social-climbing Irish tennis instructor, meets pupil Tom, son of a wealthy British businessman. The two become fast friends and Tom introduces Chris to his sister, Chloe, who quickly sets her sights on marriage. Tom is engaged to Nola (Scarlett Johansson), an American aspiring actress; the attraction between between Chris and Nola is immediate and intense.

The film draws on Dostoevsky and explores the British class system, ambition, and the place of luck in the lives of men. Rhys Meyers and Johansson are riveting.

Match Point is sexy, dark, and suspenseful. Perfectly paced, it keeps you hooked from the beginning, to the killer surprise ending.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Not a Baby Anymore

Her Bad Mother put out the call for words to express our physical love for our babies.

While I honestly don’t think I have words to do the topic justice (everything I try to write sounds trite to me), I thought I’d reflect on how our physical relationship has changed as Cakes moves from baby to toddler.

When she was very little we would nap together, her on my chest, skin on skin, my heart swelling with a visceral need to be close to hers.

We would lie together for hours—she sleeping peacefully, warmed by my body, me trying desperately not to wake her, savouring the moment.

Now that she’s, gulp, becoming a toddler, we don’t have those moments anymore. She has not liked to be cuddled for a long time. I miss it so much.

We find other ways to be physical together though: her little hand reaches for mine when she gets to the deep end of the pool; we play roughhousing, rolling together gleefully on the floor; I kiss her all over her chubby little body, labelling her parts as I go; I stroke her hair, smell her, squeeze her, love her.

She is a part of me; I need to be close to her. I can't get enough of her.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dream Jobs

I often walk by this used-book store and it makes me cringe:

People say it’s a great shop but I can’t get past the disorganization. If I’m looking for Atwood, I want to go straight to Atwood, and not have to sift through Brown or Roberts.

I’ve always thought owning a used-book shop would be a great way to earn a living. My dream version of this life is a tidy little shop, just down the street from my house, stocked with all of my favourite titles. I sit in a comfy chair behind the counter, reading and sipping coffee all day, chatting to my well-read, affable customers. The likely reality is me, chained to my shop 10 hours a day, 6 days a week (because I can’t afford to hire anyone), chasing away the Queen Street crazies and helping customers find the Stephen King, after which they try to haggle me down to 10 dollars for three books (if they bother to buy anything at all).

Here are a few more of my dream jobs, which in reality, are probably not very dreamy:

Occupation: Chief Wine Taster for the LCBO
The Dream: Jetting off to the South of France to swirl and sip all day long and be bribed with crates of free vintages.
The Reality: AA meetings. Lots of them.

Occupation: Owner of Beachside Bar in Mexico
The Dream: Flipping martini shakers a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail, sporting an awesome tan.
The Reality: Horny drunken frats boys pinching my ass (um…maybe that should be under Dream).

Occupation: Writer
The Dream: Accepting my Giller prize, dining with Atwood in Toronto, then jetting off to my island retreat to work on the next great novel in peace.
The Reality: Hmm…maybe one day I’ll give it a shot and find out for myself.

What are your dream jobs?


Dance Commentary Warning! Spoiler Alert!

Hooray for Benji!


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Meme in Honour of Gene Simmons' New Show

Gene Simmons has a new show, called Family Jewels, a behind-the-scenes look at his family, a la The Osbournes.

Now, I must confess, I watched (and enjoyed) the first season of The Osbournes. I chortled when they catapulted poutltry over the fence at their annoying neighbours. I giggled every time Ozzie stepped in dog pee.

I seems all my favourite 80's rockers are getting their own shows. First, The Osbournes. Then Tommy Goes to College. Now this. What's next? Axl Goes to Prison? Or, how about, Rock Stars Behind Bars, a cross between Rock Star Supernova and Oz. The inmates could audition for Axl's next band. There would be performance episodes, then the behind-the-scenes episodes that reveal how the competitors get along when they're forced to live together. Only in this show, instead of getting drunk they'd be offing the competition.

Anyway...I'm getting off track. Here is the meme:

Step 1) Pick a band or singer
Step 2) Answer the questions using only song titles
Step 3) Post

Artist: Kiss

Are you male or female?: Beth
Describe yourself: Unholy
How do some people feel about you?: I Was Made for Lovin’ You
How do you feel about yourself?: Do You Love Me?
Describe what you want to be: Shout It Out Loud
Describe your current mood: Rock and Roll All Nite
Describe your friends: Not for the Innocent
Share a few words of wisdom: Lick It Up


We just returned from a few more days in Kingston. We had a lovely time, as always. We spent most of our time eating, reading, and watching Cakes run around nude in the backyard. We visited our dear friends in Ottawa who have a 4-month-old baby girl. She is a beauty. It sure felt good to hold a little one again--I must confess, I felt a little pang.

It's dangerous to visit sweet little 4-month-old babes.

God we love our new home though. It's so nice to come back to after a few days away. Tonight we grilled a couple of burgers for dinner then invited the neighbours over for a bottle of wine. Ah, bliss.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

My Favourite Subject

Holy. You guys always think I’m going to write about sex.

Nope, I was tagged by Bub and Pie for a really fun book meme:

1. One book that changed your life:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler . Being in my thirties when we decided to make a baby, I was worried it would take a long time to conceive. I read this book and followed it to the letter. I took my temp every morning, charted the consistency of my cervical mucous (god, what kind of google hits is that going to get me) and lo and behold! Conceived in the first month. Papa wants to try a more relaxed method next time, however. Being ordered to perform every day for a week because my temp had risen did not make his temperature rise.

2. One book that you've read more than once:

I read a lot of books more than once, but the one I’ve read the most is probably Pride and Prejudice. It is still my favourite book. I’m also with Bub and Pie on Anne of Green Gables. I can’t wait to read it again—to Cakes.

3. One book you would want on a desert island:

So hard to decide. Do I want something I haven’t read? If so, I’d have to say War and Peace because it’s long and would keep me busy for a while. On the other hand, if it’s my last book ever, I might want a much-loved title that I would read over and over and that would be P&P.

4. One book that made you laugh:

I don’t read many funny books. I tend to gravitate towards darker stuff. One book I can think of is ‘Tis, by Frank McCourt. Much more light-hearted than Angela’s Ashes.

5. One book that made you cry:

Many books have made me cry. One that comes to mind right away is Shake Hands With The Devil, by Romeo Dallaire. Heartbreaking. It is also one of the rare books that I did not finish.

6. One book that you wish had been written:

Segue, Carol Shields unfinished novel. I loved Unless (her last completed novel) so much.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

Does a short story count? I recently read Hairball by Margaret Atwood (from Wilderness Tips) and it was disturbing. I was trying to eat lunch at the time and it made me nauseous.

8. The book that you are currently reading:

I just finished Dropped Threads 3 (will review for you soon!). The next book I’m going to read is Before I Wake, by Robert J. Wiersema's for Scarbie's book club.

9. One book that you have been meaning to read:

Vanity Fair, by Thackeray. Somehow, it keeps slipping under the radar.

Now, I tag and Penelope and Kittenpie.


Friday, August 11, 2006


Why I want to bring up baby downtown:

Toronto the Good, Part 5 – Socio-economic Diversity

Toronto the Good, Part 4: Diversity

Toronto the Good, Part 3: Green Acres

Toronto the Good, Part 2: Pride and Respect

Toronto the Good, Part 1: The Arts

Other Toronto Stuff:

Renewing My Vows

Bloor West Village

Metro Mama Reviews: The Undomestic Goddess

After two weeks of seriously dedicated reading, I needed something light, (both literally and figuratively) to read by the lake. It needed to be light enough to hold in one hand, freeing my other hand for my frosty beer, as well as light in the figurative sense, so my beer-addled brain could digest it without strain. I found what I was looking for in
The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella’s latest book.

I’m a big fan of the Shopaholic series, and Kinsella’s newest heroine, Samantha, is equally charming.

Samantha is a young, workaholic, hotshot lawyer for a big London firm, who is up for partnership. When she makes a terrible mistake at work, she flees the building, and takes a train to the country. She stops for directions at an estate, where she is mistaken for an interviewee for a housekeeping position. Desperate for a place to sleep for the night, she plays along, and lands the position.

You can probably guess the rest. Of course, there is a handsome gardener who works with Samantha (hmmm…now I’m distracted...thinking about the gardener from Desperate Housewives...). He helps teach her how to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

The Undomestic Goddess
is the perfect accompaniment for a hot summer day: like an ice-cream cone—empty calories, but satisfying and sweet.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Gal Needs Pals

When you have a baby, priorities change and certain aspects of your life suffer for it.

No, this post isn’t about sex. I’m talking about friendship.

I’ve always been reasonably good at keeping up with friends—they’re important to me. But, since Cakes came into my life, I’ve been letting things slide.

There are old friends who I never call or email, as much as I intend to. Plus, none of them live in the city. Cakes has two doting sets of grandparents and 4 great-parents, so we spend a lot of time visiting out-of-town. After meeting family obligations, there doesn’t seem to be much time or energy left for friends. I need to make more effort.

We have a hard time doing “couple” outings anymore. As you know, I am a routine nazi—we don’t keep Cakes out past seven. Plus, some of these friends also have babies now, so it’s doubly hard to coordinate schedules. We don’t have anyone in town who watches Cakes (that needs to change). When we do have someone here to watch her, we feel we should spend some alone time together.

I’m not the only one at fault. Some friends don’t call me anymore, now that I’m a mama. I don’t know if they assume I won’t be able to come out, but I will happily leave Papa and Cakes to some “quality time”.

Or, maybe they don’t think I’m busy at all…am I boring now I’m a mama?

I really miss my former colleagues. It's hard to go from seeing friends every day to not at all. They said they’d remember to call me when they were going for pints after work, but they haven’t all summer (if any of you are reading, this is a not-so-subtle hint).

I feel more affinity with other mothers now, and they tend to be the new people I meet. I’m not shy about meeting new people-- I will easily give someone my phone number at the park (I’m actually going to make up cards with my contact info because I’m tired of scrawling my number on old napkins…reminds me too much of my bar-hopping days). But while I’m good at making the first move, I suck at following up (some things never change). Also, these women have the same scheduling issues I do, so it’s hard to get one-on-one time with them. Plus, there is a tendency for too much baby talk sometimes when mamas get together. I’d like to have more non-mama friends too.

I think my babe is the most interesting person in the world—I still don’t want to talk about her all the time.

I think the blogosphere holds hope for me. The TO Mamas are going for pedis and martinis later this month. I’m sure there will be much to talk about beyond Ferber and Flanagan. We’ve all proven we have a lot to say.

And, I need my own little Scooby gang to help me chase the demons.

It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;-- it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others. –Jane Austen


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Routine Nazi

*Edited! Dance Commentary Below


I try to be, and I think I am, for the most part, a relaxed mama.

I let Cakes lead the way during the day, deciding what she wants to do. I try to strike a balance between outdoor activity, music, fine motor play, and reading. I try to represent each food group at every meal. But I don’t get too hung up on this stuff.

The one area where I am inflexible is Cakes’ routine. She goes for her nap at around 11 and to bed by 7. I will miss out on things I’d like to do rather than fuck with the routine.

You see, we have been blessed with a good sleeper and I don’t want to mess it up (dear sleep gods, please don’t punish me for daring to voice this aloud). Like I’ve said before, there are many days when I feel a great sense of relief when she goes to bed. Papa and I like to have a quiet, relaxed dinner and a glass of wine. When we want to be social, we invite someone over or go next-door. We waited a long time for our wee backyard so we’re happy to stay here and enjoy it.

Yet, reading Scarbie’s post the other day got me thinking, maybe I should lighten up. Maybe it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she goes to bed an hour or two later once in awhile. Maybe she’d actually sleep in! It would be nice to have the freedom to actually go out as a family after 7 pm.

Do I dare tickle the dragon? I don’t know if I’m brave enough.

Routine, poutine. Let's party.


Zoolander, The Musical

Dance was so good tonight.

The performance of the night, for me, was Tranji. Loved, loved, loved it.

I'm not going to pick a winner. Whenever I do, it's the kiss of death for the poor sucker. They're all fantastic.

Go, Benji, go!

Shit. Couldn't help it.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Metro Mama Reviews: The Birth House

I’ve just finished The Birth House by Amy McKay. What a terrific read. I completely neglected all the other things I should have been doing and read it in two days.

The novel takes place in Nova Scotia in the early 20th century. It tells the story of Dora, a young girl who befriends, then becomes the apprentice of the local midwife, Miss Babineau. Miss B. teaches Dora the many skills she has accumulated, from delivering breech babies to brewing medicines to induce labour or prevent an unwanted pregnancy. In addition to medical assistance, the women provide comfort, support, and encouragement and want nothing in return.

When a self-assured young doctor comes to town, he tries to convince the village women to put their bodies and babies in his hands in his “modern” medical facility. Dora struggles to help the village women keep control of their bodies in the advent of “modern medicine” in the face of growing distrust of traditional methods.

Part of the reason I found this book so interesting is because I have such mixed feelings about the medicalization of childbirth. Birthing babies was, and continues to be, risky business. The novel doesn’t gloss over this fact. Modern medicine has saved the lives of many a mother and child. However, I often wonder how my birth story would have been different had my labour not been induced. Also, I didn’t get the emotional support I needed. There was little interaction with the doctor who delivered Cakes. I loved my OB, but he wasn’t around when it was time to deliver my child. I felt like a product on an assembly line, each worker eager to finish his job in order to meet his quota.

Of course midwifery and modern medicine can coexist--we can take the best from both worlds. I think it’s desirous to have a minimal amount of medical intervention in childbirth if that’s what a woman chooses. If she chooses more intervention, that too is her prerogative. I’m pretty sure I’ll break down and beg for an epidural after five minutes of contractions again.

I’m strongly considering a midwife instead of a doctor if (big IF!) I have another go at this birthing business. I’ll still give birth at a hospital--after what happened last time there’s not a chance I’ll risk being at home. I hope things go better next time, and if they don’t, I want the person calling the shots to have a little more empathy. Scratch that--I want to be the person calling the shots.


Monday, August 07, 2006

On Motherhood

Musings, trials, tribulations, and rejoices:

Moving On

A New Balance

Ebb and Flow

Push and Pull

Summer With a Toddler

More, More, More

A Good Mother Day

A Poem for Cakes


Gainful Employment

Woman's Work

Baby and Marriage

Motherhood Doesn't Have To Be Boring

Not a Baby Anymore

Clock Watcher

To Old To Be a Mama?

Dirty Simon


Number Two

Things I Like About Working in the Home

Things I Miss About Working Outside the Home

Literature and Film

Book Recommendations



Let the Great World Spin

Six Months in Sudan


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

An Imperfect Offering

More Best Books of 2008

2008 - Books for Him

Metro's Holiday Gift Guide

Mister Pip

Elizabeth Hay Blog Tour: Conclusion

The Outcast

So Many Books, So Little Time

The Road

Late Nights on Air

Blood Meridian


Life on the Refrigerator Door

The Gravedigger's Daughter

On Chesil Beach

The Fahrenheit Twins

Bang Crunch

The Double Bind


Lullabies for Little Criminals

Mean Boy

100 Books (Only About Half Worth Reading)

Shopaholic and Baby


Mothers and Sons


Dream Angus

Black Swan Green

The Emperor's Children

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

Moral Disorder

The View From Castle Rock

A Spot of Bother

Cease to Blush

The Girls

Dropped Threads 3

The Undomestic Goddess

The Birth House

Daniel Isn't Talking

The Time in Between

For Kids

Pocoyo Discovers Shapes

Poetry for Kids

More Book Stuff

BookCampTO '09

A Night of Havoc

A CanLit Live Blog

Jane Austen Festival 2006

All Things Austen

Book Meme

Film and TV Reviews

Capsule Reviews

Six Feet Under: Everything Ends

The Descent

Children of Men

Casino Royale


Pride and Prejudice

Theatre Reviews

The Sound of Music


Black Watch

Evil Dead the Musical


Building With Invisible Bricks: Alice Munro's Treatment of the Mother-Daughter Relationship

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Like a Long-legged Fly

I have never felt so peaceful and free as I did when I was sailing.

Our first summer in Toronto, Papa and I joined a sailing club. He had sailed years ago; I was a novice, but thought it would be a fun skill to learn and a great way to meet people. I was right on both counts, but it was much more than that.

Now, we’re not talking about a fancy yacht club—our club was a co-op, called St. James Town. Everyone took turns doing the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance of the modest clubhouse. We learned to sail on small, 12-foot boats called albacores. These boats left little room for error—one wrong move and you would soon be in the drink.

The first time I went out, as the crew for an experienced sailor, it was windy (at least 20 knots) and the waves were high. He deftly guided us away from the dock and I followed his instructions. Soon we were sailing back and forth across the outer harbour on a beam reach, the boat heeling way up on its side, me leaning back as far as I could to counterbalance the weight of the wind, abdominal muscles aching. I was exhilarated. Exultant. Thrilled. I was hooked.

The first time I skipped was with great trepidation. It was, again, a very windy night. The butterflies beat their wings in my stomach and my pulse raced. I navigated from the dock to the open water without hitting anything. Success! Time for my first tack: “prepare to tack,” I ordered my frightened crew. “Tacking!” I proclaimed, with more confidence than I felt. The boat turned, I scooted to the other side, broke my arse on something hard, but recovered quickly, grabbing sheets and rudder in time to stay on course. Jubilation!

Learning to sail was one of the most challenging things I’ve done. I learned in June—and quickly discovered how cold Lake Ontario is in June. If you’ve dumped your boat (which I did often), it is no small feat to flip it over, get back inside and get back on course without dumping again. That summer, my body was black and blue with bruises. I slept like a baby at night after my exhausting efforts on the water.

I gradually became more skilled at sailing, eventually earning my White Sail III. While I never stopped getting butterflies on the dock, once I was out on the water, I felt blissfully free. That summer, Big Papa and I sailed often, getting to the club early in the afternoon when there was hardly anyone else around. We’d find our wind, cleat the sails and lean back, the boat silently skimming the water, the breeze caressing our bodies, the busy sight of the skyline a stark contrast against the sparkling green water. We drank in the sun and the solitude.

We don’t sail anymore—the kind of sailing we did is not exactly safe for a baby. And we don’t want to take turns because we like to sail together—if I’m crewing, I need a skip I trust. If I’m skipping, I need a forgiving crew (hey, I didn’t say I was a good sailor).

I miss it very much.

Now I cherish small windows of solitude when I find them. The other day, while Papa watched our babe, I waded into Lake Ontario and swam out far. I rolled onto my back and floated, the cool water lapping above my ears, drowning out the noise. I was weightless, tranquil, and, for a few moments, once more, truly free.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Perfect In-laws

We just got home from four days with BP’s parents in Kingston. I have to tell you how fantastic my in-laws are. When we visit, they have everything we need for Cakes—baby equipment, toys, books, diapers, wipes, food. They live in a beautiful spot on the water. They are smart, interesting, and fantastic cooks. They spoil us rotten, and it’s a vacation for us each time we visit.

My in-laws spent lots of time with Cakes, freeing Papa and I for lots of swimming, reading, and napping. We stole away for lunch at our favourite pub, the Tir nan Og, where we enjoyed beer-battered pickerel with sweet potato fries and Hoegaarden in glasses so big I almost needed two hands to lift mine to my eager lips.

My in-laws are geniuses in the kitchen. They made us our favourite foods (salmon for Papa, lamb for me) and we learned Cakes loves risotto. But will she love my risotto? How does one make risotto anyway?

I love visiting my in-laws, but I have just three complaints:

1. Lack of lounge chairs. When I’m next to the water, I need to lounge. I like a cushy chair with a footrest and an adjustable back that I can put up when I want to read, and down when I wish to snooze. I also require a place to put my beer. My in-laws know how to relax, but they are not loungers. The only seating to be found was the adirondack chairs. NOT my idea of lounging. Oh, there’s a hammock but there are spiders in it.

2. I have an excuse for the lack of visiting this week: dial-up. How did we survive the pre-broadband days? Also, my family doesn’t know I blog, so I can hardly “check my email” more than a couple of times a day.

3. No TV. They have a TV, but they never, ever watch. They don’t watch any TV shows. The last movie they saw was The Perfect Storm. They read. BP and I watch little TV, but I arrange my schedule for So You Think You Can Dance. If BP needs to have dinner on the table by 7, he knows about it well in advance. On Wednesday, we were just sitting down to dinner at Dance’s scheduled time. As soon as I’m done this post, I’m off to download (I still don’t know who went home, so DON’T SAY ANYTHING!)

Those are my only complaints about my in-laws. Aren’t I a lucky woman?


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Metro Mama Reviews: Daniel Isn't Talking

Well, I’m making good on summer holiday resolution number 1. I just finished Daniel Isn't Talking by Marti Leimbach, author of Dying Young. The novel’s heroine, Melanie, is an American living in Britain, with a British husband, Stephen, a four-year-old daughter, Emily, and Daniel, her 3-year-old. The book chronicles Melanie’s journey from her suspicion Daniel is not developing ‘normally’, to his autism diagnosis and her ensuing struggle to help him learn to lead as normal a life as possible. Melanie refuses to accept the pessimistic outlook of family, friends, and medical professionals and gives everything she has to improving her son’s lot.

The book is thought-provoking. I learned more about autism, as I did from reading another good book on the subject, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The novel also explores the impact of the autism diagnosis on Melanie and Stephen’s marriage as well as the loneliness of a woman who finds herself surrounded by fair-weather friends. I was interested in Melanie’s dealings with medical specialists (most are portrayed as rigid and obstinate). Leimbach must have experience in this department as Daniel is modelled after her autistic son, Nicholas.

The novel is predictable at times, but inspiring and avoids being sentimental (something I loathe).

A very interesting read.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Sadist in the White Coat

I have a gross confession to make.

No, not what you’re thinking. Perverts.

I haven’t been to the dentist in 8 years.

I’m telling you this so I’ll be shamed into finally going.

The reason I haven’t gone in so long is because I’m afraid of the dentist. Ten years ago, I needed to have two wisdom teeth removed. I was told the other two would have to come out eventually as well. I was working for the government at the time, with a good dental plan, but I knew I was going to be laid off in the next 6 months. So, I told them to yank all four teeth at once.

After the initial meds wore off, the pain was excruciating. I thought my head was going to explode. I went through my initial scrip of Codeine in two days. I, stupidly, smoked cigarettes and got dry sockets. When I went back to the dentist, he put a needle in my gum to administer a local anaesthetic—and hit a nerve. I jumped out of the chair, hollered, and just about decked him.

Since then, I’ve dragged my arse to the dentist only once, in 1998.

Big Papa is horrified by this.

We’re now trying to teach Cakes good hygiene habits. She loves brushing her teeth:

I’m going to have to start going again soon, if only to set a good example for Cakes and to placate Papa.

It’s time to get back in the chair. Shit.


The TO Mamas are due for another shindig. Check out the deets here.


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