metro mama

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


*Clarification below.

Some of the neighbours came over for games last night. We ended up playing dominoes, which I had never played before. Dudes, the games is so much fun. Despite our best intentions of keeping it an early night, we stayed up ‘til 1 am. The game is addictive. Also, I’d be remiss if I did not tell you that I won – actually, I KICKED ASS!

Cakes punished me for my foolishness by waking up at 5:30. After much pleading, she went back down for another hour but then she was up and ready to give ‘er. Now it’s nap-time for both of us; we’re both exhausted and cranky.

All the socializing of late has been a good distraction from some sadness going on in my family. My maternal grandparents have been in a nursing home for some time now, and have not been well for a long time. A few weeks ago my Grandfather came down with pneumonia. He’s become steadily worse and has been in the hospital for the past 10 days. He has a living will and my mother discussed everything with him again a few weeks ago, at which time he reaffirmed he wouldn’t want any extraordinary measures taken. Now, he will never be able to eat or drink on his own again. The doctors asked him if he wanted a feeding tube and he said yes. The problem is, he is still considered able to make these decisions – even though he doesn’t fully understand the ramifications. He thinks the feeding tube will make him better.

So, it’s been a pretty hard situation. I hate how my grandfather is spending his last days. Worse is the effect it’s having on my mother and grandmother. Now it could go on for months. I feel pretty helpless – we go to visit, but they’re two hours away and it’s not easy to go often. Cakes doesn’t do well in the car, let alone the hospital. She is pretty good at the nursing home – they let her run the halls and she loves entertaining the lonely folks in the lobby. But we can only visit for about half and hour at a time, so it’s tough.

I wish there were more we could do.

* We did go visit last week and will again soon. I could go more often by myself, but it cheers them all up so much when I bring Cakes.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

He Should Be Thanking Me

BP and I are exceedingly polite people. We are full of pleases and thank-yous and this courtesy extends to each other as well as people with whom we’re less familiar. We think it is very important in a marriage to treat each other with the utmost consideration and we (usually) do. However, I think I went a little overboard last night. We had just finished having sex, and as BP rolled off me I said, absent-mindedly, cheerfully, “thanks dear”.

Crazymumma, Marla and Penelope and their gals came over for a playdate yesterday afternoon. Crazymumma’s sweet girls did a wonderful job entertaining the little ones. They took great pleasure in dressing up Cakes, who submitted to their ministrations with delight:

Later, Bee enjoyed the same treatment:

We had a really good time and must do it again soon. I think the Toronto gals are due for another cocktail evening as well. Who’s up for it?

Saturday night we ordered Thai and watched a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. This is becoming one of my favourite ways to spend an evening (God I’m getting old).


This morning our friends across the street joined us for a mommy and daddy playdate. Cakes and G are both very strong-willed girls. They used to clash a little bit but they’ve been enjoying frequent dates and they’ve reached some sort of agreement. Cakes actually hugged and kissed G (I was so jealous):

Alas, the love didn’t last. Cakes took advantage of G’s surprise to bring on some wrestling manoeuvres:

Oh well. At least they’re evenly matched.

There was a piece in Saturday’s Globe about a cool mom-run business. Boomi's Beads makes fun, fashionable medic-alert bracelets for kids. Toronto mom Sid Kroach came up with the idea after battling with four-year-old son Griffin, diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, to wear the standard-issue bracelet. They offer up to 70 different styles of bracelets, shoe tags and zipper pulls.

You can order here. A portion of revenues is donated to charity.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

London Calling

I've been having fun messing around with our itinerary for the trip in April. For me, half of the thrill of travelling is the anticipation. Anyway, here's what I got-please chime in with your suggestions, picks and pans. I'm interested in literary sites and gardens; BP is into military and marine stuff. We can only take so many museums. We like to walk a lot (I know there is a lot of walking on Day 1 but that is our way of coping with jet lag-along with drinking).

Day 1 Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Sq, Picadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Drinking in Soho

Day 2 Metro Mama - Keats House, Bloomsbury, Dickens House, Camden
Big Papa - Portsmouth
National Gallery?

Day 3 Hyde Park, Brick Lane, Globe Theatre, Tate Modern

Day 4 Rent car at Heathrow - Stratford-upon-Avon

Day 5 Cotswalds

Day 6 Bath

Day 7 Tower of London, Thames cruise, Greenwich, Spamelot

Day 8 Madame Tussauds, Kew Gardens, Eye

Day 9 Eurostar to Paris – Ile de la Cite, Notre Dame, Pont Neuf

Day 10 Jardin Du Luxembourg, Montparnasse, Place de la Concorde, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower

Day 11 Musee d’Orsay, Seine cruise, Montmartre, Madame Arthur drag show

Day 12 Louvre, Seine Stroll



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Poem for Cakes

You bring delight and cheer and love-
joy that will not abate.
But, my heart nearly bursts apart,
when you sleep ‘til eight.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Toddler Delights

Cakes' idiosyncrasies continue to amuse us.

Her new game is to spin in a circle, giggling, until she gets dizzy and falls to the floor. She gets herself so punch-drunk she can’t even stand up.

Her other favourite game is to walk around with something over her head, pretending she’s blind. She chortles maniacally when she bumps into the furniture.

She now has to have Simon and Emma in sight at all times. When she sleeps, Simon doubles as her pillow.

She likes to strip. Yesterday she ripped off her dress and socks in a restaurant.

Her favourite word these days is “cheers” and she makes you toast her non-stop.

She likes to wear her hat and scarf in the house but refused to wear it outside.

She’s a daredevil. She climbs on top of her car and stands, assuming a surfer position, while it wobbles unsteadily (I thought only briefly about pausing to take a picture before I rescued her).

She loves to wear her sunglasses in the house. She insisted on wearing them during an entire playdate recently.

What delightful activities are your little ones up to these days?


Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Dozen Firefighters and a Chocolate Fountain

That is not just my sexual fantasy (you’re welcome to use it by the way), it was the scene at my place last night. We had BP’s crew and their better halves over for cocktails and my neighbour lent us her chocolate fountain for the occasion. They’re a great group of people. Funny though, they are not your stereotypical firefighters. At one point I observed several of the men sipping pomegranate martinis and admiring Cakes' photo calendar, while we women were drinking beers and talking about tattoos. A fine evening.


It’s been an unusually busy week.

Tuesday night I went out with the mums across the street. We had free tickets to the world premiere of the film Partition. It was the first time I’ve attended a premiere. It was an interesting experience. I was hungry though – I didn’t realize ahead of time, it was held at an auditorium not a theatre, so there was no popcorn or soda. All of the movie goers were most serious – no one got up during the film to go to the bathroom. I really had to go, but I held it because I didn’t want to be the only one going to the bathroom during the film. No one talked either, it was dead silent (that was nice).

“Whiskey before beer, have no fear; beer before whiskey, rather risky."

Christine came through town for one more night on her way back to London and we went carousing on College with a few of her friends. We went for dinner, then to Eat My Martini, where they have $5 dollar martinis on Wednesdays (including tax!). That is just too good a deal to pass up. The wise thing to do would have been to go home after the martinis, but no, we had to go for a pitcher. Needless to say, hump day was a bit of a bust this week. I was game when I got home, but as soon as I hit the sack, I became dizzy and started to drool a little and BP knew better than to even bother.

I had my class Thursday night. The Romantics aren’t my favourite, but I love this class anyway. The prof is wonderful and it is a spirited group of people. We were talking about Keats, but kept getting off-topic and also covered Barack Obama, sex, our own poetry, Oprah, more sex, theology. I will be sorry to see the end of this one.

So, tonight I rest. I plan to watch Desperate Housewives and eat leftover hors d' oeuvres. Maybe I’ll try to make up for Wednesday (there is leftover chocolate fountain...hmmm).


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Metro Reco: Mary Lawson

The Other Side of the Bridge is Mary Lawson’s second novel (her first is the enormously successful Crow Lake). I hadn’t read Crow Lake when I picked this book up, so I had no idea what a treat I was in for (I remedied that very quickly once I finished this read).

The Other Side of the Bridge
is a compelling story I greedily consumed in 100 page sittings. It takes place in Struan, a fictional farming community in Northern Ontario. The central characters are two brothers: Arthur is honest, hardworking and shy, his younger brother Jake cunning and impetuous, yet charming.[read on]


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Your proud, elated face as you conquer a new challenge.

The tender taste of your toes as I nibble them gently; the cool feel of your smooth soles against my cheek as I play peek-a-boo with your feet.

Your silken smooth locks, shiny between my fingers as I straighten them and let them curl up again, like stretching a spring.

Delighted peals of laughter as I exuberantly kiss your soft, warm belly.

You catching sight of me after an absence: the glee in your eyes, the happily impatient gestures of your arms, the melodic sound of excited babbling.

The comfortable weight of your body, moulded next to mine, as I carry you on my hip.

The way you fit perfectly in the crook of my arm as I read you a story, occasionally burying my nose in your damp, freshly washed hair, inhaling your fragrance.

Your little shoes on the doormat next to mine; your hand trustingly in mine as we cross the street; the way you look at your father, enchanted, while he reads your favourite books.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Kitchen Tips

Now that Cakes is playing independently a little more, I am trying to play a little larger role in our kitchen. I’ve been making soup. If you’re looking for a good soup recipe book, my in-laws gave us this excellent one for Christmas. I made BP the bouillabaisse and it was very good, if I do say so. Another great find: you can buy fish stock at St. Lawrence Market.

Speaking of food, I recently learned you shouldn’t put tomatoes in the fridge. It changes their flavour. Does everyone know this?

Our coffee maker died on Christmas day and we replaced it with one that has a carafe instead of the type that sits on a burner. What a great improvement! You can nurse a pot of coffee for hours and it stays hot and doesn’t get bitter.

A good BBQ tip we learned recently is to oil the items going on the grill, not the grill itself. Another tip: shut the lid, sip on your wine and leave the food the fuck alone. If you’re looking for a good grilling cookbook, Weber’s Real Grilling is excellent (another smart gift from the in-laws).

Now, do you have any culinary tips for me?


There are days when I miss having a job to go to. Today-while Cakes and BP are at a drop-in and I’m sitting here in my pyjamas, sipping coffee, listening to freezing rain bouncing off the windows, reading an Ondaatje novel-is definitely not one of them.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Diary Drama: First Kiss

My so-called well of blogging inspiration is a little dry right now, so I turned, again, to my amusing prepubescent diary entries.

Without further ado, here is the chronicle of my very first kiss (age 11):

March 25, 1984

Yesterday was my first kiss. It was at J.O.s party. The date was Sat. 24 March 1984. We were playing spin the bottle. I was the first one to get it. My partner was J. He took me in the house and we watched cartoons. After about five more turns, nobody had really done it yet so, on my next turn (when I got J again) we decided to really kiss and then everybody would. So we got David* (as a witness) and I shut my eyes real tight. I counted to five and Jamie kissed me on the cheek. He did it really quick but it had a sort of tingling feeling to it. But I was relieved to have it over.

*Yes, this is the same David I was in love with the previous year.

Though I didn’t record it, I vividly recall my first French kiss, a couple of years later. I was rather naïve when it happened and was horrified when the boy (actually he was a couple of years older than I) suddenly, surprisingly, disgustingly, stuck his tongue in my mouth. I never thought it would be something I come to enjoy (how things change).

Do you recall your first kiss?


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Metro Reco: Dream Angus

Dream Angus is Alexander McCall Smith’s contribution to the myth series (read Karen’s review of another book from the series, Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad here).

The book is a retelling of the myth of Angus, a “giver of dreams, an Eros, a figure of youth”. The book is written in McCall Smith’s characteristic style: simple, clear and playful. It’s amusing and whimsical and does not preach: as McCall Smith writes in the book’s introduction, “Angus does no particular moral or didactic work: he is really about dreams and about love-two things that have always had their mysteries for people.”

McCall Smith is a storyteller and he lends his own interpretation to the myth of Angus. He combines traditional lore with connected stories set in modern Scotland; he says, “myth is a cloud based upon a shadow based upon the movement of the breeze”. It’s a fast and fun read.

Alexander McCall Smith is author of the wonderful No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books (if you’re looking for a light, entertaining read, I highly recommend these). He is a prolific writer, having written over fifty books. He was born in Zimbabwe and currently lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth, their two daughters Lucy and Emily, and their cat Gordon.


Thanks for your suggestions for things to do in the winter. We took Karen’s advice and tried Ikea yesterday. Cakes loved it there. I had the $1 breakfast (actually not bad for a buck). Cakes loved the box full of balls, though it was hard to convince her not to throw them as hard as she could at the other kids. I managed to escape the maze having spent only $10 on things we actually needed (a step-stool for Cakes and some napkins). It was not a bad way to spend the morning.


It's National De-Lurking Week in the blogosphere. I must admit, I'm curious who you are. Say hello, where you're from. Tell me what you've read or seen lately and what you thought of it. If you've hated something I've loved, tell me that too. If you're not a blogger yourself, don't let that stop you from commenting. Don't be shy! I've shown you mine...


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When Do They Get Table Manners?

I am very happy to report that Cakes has finally stopped tossing her food on the floor. Now, when she’s finished, she tidily pushes it to the side of her tray and screeches. However, she has a new bad habit – wiping the food off her fingers in her hair:

That’s tofu in the picture. It’s actually not that bad. Dried avocado is real fun.


I enjoyed an adult evening last night. A friend is in town for a couple of days. We went to Queen West last night – we happened upon Evanescence playing at Much Music, so we stopped for a couple of songs (of course, I never have my camera with me). We were the oldest people there, except for the man with his two giddy teenaged daughters. We showed our age with our non-recognition of the baby-faced blond veejay the girls were all gaga over, as well as our eagerness to leave once we became a little cold and hungry and our feet hurt. We went to East for dinner. Décor: very nice. Service: good. Food: so-so. Our appetizers and dessert were excellent but our pad thai was suspiciously ketchupy. What are your favourite places for pad thai? I like the Queen Mother.

Christine is helping us with our London itinerary. We are constructing the perfect Literary London itinerary – ambitious yet still allowing room for pub crawling and the subsequent hangovers. We’ve recognized we’re going to have to split up for a couple of days to accommodate our needs. BP does not particularly care to see Dickens house, while I do not want to spend a whole day in a naval museum in Portsmouth. When we finally sort it out, I’ll post it and get your thoughts.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dreary January

I’ve always found this to be the worst time of the year. There is not enough sun and the lack of light makes me feel as forlorn as Jennifer Aniston, my faculties as sharp as Britney Spears’, my life as vibrant as Stephen Harper’s personality. Even though life is great right now, I still have those blah days. Cakes and I really miss our parks-we still go because it’s been so mild, but there is usually no one there and it’s muddy and cold and there’s nothing to do. I bought Cakes a sled in the fall, with great excitement, envisioning the two of us frolicking through the flakes, building snowmen and making snow angels. It looks like that is not to be.

The thing that allows us to keep our sanity is our drop-ins. I don’t know what we’d do without them. We’re so lucky here-we actually have two great drop-ins that are just a short walk away. One of them we’ve been attending for over a year. We know the other parents quite well now, as well as the staff. The staff are so warm and knowledgeable. I take all of my child-related (and some non-child-related) questions to them, saving me from reading those dreary parenting books. This centre has a rare focus on the mom – there is always a pot of coffee on, and a pair of arms to hold your baby while you pee. Once a week they hold a morning seminar and will provide childcare while mom (or dad) attends. They are a godsend.

We found the second drop-in just two weeks ago. It is run in Cakes’ future school (we lucked into having a good school near our house. When we were house hunting, we were more concerned about the restaurants in the area). This centre is more child-focused and structured. We have song-time and story-time and then the kids head for the gym where we drag out all kinds of balls, cars, and trucks and they run around like maniacs. Great fun. I also like the fact that Cakes is getting accustomed to her future school already.

The other way we’re coping is by having frequent play-dates with our neighbours. There are two great ladies who live right across the street. We all like to read, so we’re going to start exchanging the books we’ve read and holding informal book club while the kids play (it will be even better once the kids are old enough to actually play together and amuse each other and not require constant refereeing).

Despite these blessings, it is still a hard time of the year. I crave warmth, life in my garden, the feeling of sun on my face.

How do you keep your sanity during these dreary winter months?


Monday, January 08, 2007

Pretend Play

It’s been fascinating to watch Cakes’ interests change over the months. At 12 months, she loved her books best – she would sit for great lengths of time, pointing and babbling. Once she started to walk, language took a backseat as she concentrated on her large motor skills – she conquered most of the equipment at the playground, including obstacles children twice her age couldn’t master. Now, her chief interest is pretend play. This is by far the most fun activity for me. She received a baby and stroller for Christmas and it makes me melt to see her feed and burp her baby. She’ll load Emma (yes, I named her) and Simon in the stroller and cover them tenderly before embarking on a stroll:

I can’t convince her Emma is not yet ready for Cheerios:

Her grandparents put her to work in the office when we visit:

My mother gave her a 70-piece set of dishes for Christmas. At first I was a little peeved (70 more things to pick up!) but I’m over it. Cakes and I have tea together. She hands me my dessert bowl and scoops ice-cream into it. She pours me a tea and adds milk. She just beams when I tell her how good it is. And then I beam inside.


I finally saw Little Miss Sunshine, which many bloggers have recommended. I agree - it was delightful.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Metro Reco: Children of Men

I just returned from seeing Children of Men and had to rush to my computer to tell you about it. It’s an extraordinary film. Set in London in 2027, the movie opens with the death of Diego, the world’s youngest human being, at the age of eighteen. No babies have been born in eighteen years and the world is in a state of chaos. Government worker Theo (Clive Owen) is suffering from depression and alcoholism. He is enlisted by former love, rebellion leader Julian (Julianne Moore) to help the miraculously pregnant Kee escape the country and potentially save the world.

The film is gripping and terrifying, the tension being occasionally relieved with quirky humour. Clive Owen is perfection, as is the supporting cast, particularly Michael Caine as the feisty, rebellious Jasper. The cinematography is fantastic. One long combat scene is shot in one take, the lens temporarily obscured by dust and blood.

The film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also directed Y Tu Mama Tambien (also a wonderful film) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Don’t let the bleak premise of the movie prevent you from seeing it. Though deeply disturbing at times, the film ultimately celebrates courage and faith and finds humanity in the unlikeliest of places.

This is a rich film, one I would like to see again.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The New Aphrodisiac

This is what used to make me horny:

This is what makes me horny these days:

Yeah, baby!


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Everything Ends

We finally finished the last season of Six Feet Under (I know, we are horribly behind the times). I’m speechless. Well, almost. It was an excellent series (with a few bumps along the way), but the last season was amazing. The finale was the best thing I’ve ever seen on television – seriously (yes, I’m including the final episode of MASH). The image of Nate falling behind in Claire’s rear-view mirror was stunning and the montage that followed blew me away – what a brilliant way to end the series. I was too choked up to speak for several minutes when it ended (and the same thing happened the next night when we watched that scene again).

I love how the show confronted death bravely and realistically and reminded us how important it is to live in the moment. The acting, writing and directing were incredible. If we ever have a son, we’re naming him Nate (and a daughter? Maya, of course).

Farewell, Six Feet Under. I will miss you. You’ll live on in my memories (and in the box set I’m asking for Christmas next year).

Any other Six Feet Under fans out there? What did you think of the finale?


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Metro Reco: Black Swan Green

I’ve had David Mitchells’s Booker Prize finalist, Black Swan Green, sitting by my bed for months. It kept getting put off in favour of the big guns, like Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood’s latest. Dudes, this book was surprise treat. I loved it.

Set in 1982, Black Swan Green is a year in the life of Jason Taylor, pre-teen poet trying to fit in with his peers in a tough little town in Worcestershire. His life isn’t made any easier by a speech impediment, a growing interest in girls, and his parents’ struggling marriage.

Black Swan Green is sweet, subtle, and poignant; Jason Taylor is the most endearing character I’ve met in a long time. The 80’s references bring you back to the days of slow-dancing in the gymnasium.

David Mitchell lives in Ireland. His second novel, number9dream (2001), was short-listed for the 2002 Booker Prize. His third novel, Cloud Atlas, was shortlisted in 2004.


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