Monday, November 23, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole (Reno Day 29)

Alternate title: Why IKEA Is A Big, Swedish Pain In My Ass

Okay, so we're still without a kitchen, excepting for the pseudo-kitchen we've set up in our downstairs bathroom (shudder), and here's a big reason why...

I ordered the cabinets back on October 15th. When I did, I had to pick a "delivery date". The order guy explained to me that that is when the cabinets would arrive in the store. In any of the five days following that date, IKEA would phone me to arrange for an actual delivery date. Once they arrive, you have 10 days in which they must be delivered or you start paying $250 a week for storage. I phoned my contractor to see when we would need the cabinets and he said that they wouldn't be ready for them before the middle of November. So, I picked November 16th.

After a week of reno, the speed of my contractor's guys made it patently obvious that we would be ready for the cabinets before November 16th. One whole week before. So, I phone IKEA to see if I could move up the delivery date, since all the cabinets were in stock when I ordered them, and any process can be sped up if you want to. I worked in customer service for over 7 years and I know this for a fact.

I called them on October 30th, and the agent that I spoke with on the phone told me that I should completely ignore the "delivery date", that it was a total crock. Orders actually arrive in store 2-3 weeks after you order them, which would make the time that my cabinets were to arrive anytime between October 29th and November 5th. I was so relieved. We would be ready the cabinets November 9th, and this would work out perfectly.

November 5th came and went. No cabinets.

I called on November 9th, and the next agent that I spoke to said that they were on their way and someone would call me in the next few days.

I called on November 11th and the next agent that I spoke to said that they were on their way and someone would call me within the next few days. I insisted on knowing where, exactly, the cabinets were. She said she didn't know. Which made me question how she could possible know that someone would call me within the next few days. I forced her to call someone who DID know where there were. The Warehouse. She called back and left a message saying that they would arrive in store on November 13th, and someone would call me for delivery.

November 13th came and went. No cabinets.

OH, and did I mention that every time I call IKEA, it's a minimum of a 45 minute wait to speak to someone. MINIMUM. Every. Single. Time.

On November 16th (the original "delivery date" - remember that?) came and went with no cabinets and no phone call. I spent over TWO AND HALF HOURS on hold, and was unable to do anything more than confirm that the order was in the store. That was one 5 minutes of my on hold time - the rest was waiting to speak to someone who could set up a delivery date. I never reached anyone. I have two small children who, at some point, needed to be attended to.

I emailed IKEA begging to have someone call me. Several days later, they sent me a formula email apologizing that I was having a bad time and hoping that I would buy from them in the future. The email came from "IKEA" with the subject line of "IKEA.CA". No person actually spent time writing that email. (Although they did plunk in my last name in the greeting.)

I emailed the "Kitchen Expeditor", explaining my dilemma and begging for some assistance. The agent who had confirmed that the order was in the store apparently left a message for her to phone me back. She never did. She did email me back the next day to say that "she didn't arrange for deliveries and to please call the delivery desk."

On November 17th, I spent over three hours on hold and finally - FINALLY- got through to the delivery desk and arranged for a delivery. I was so angry by this time that I shouted at the poor girl. I apologized. They would deliver on Saturday November 21. My window for delivery was anytime between 9am and 4pm.

On November 19th, I came home to a message that my order had arrived and was in store, ready to be picked up. I had to call them back to confirm that I had a delivery date.

On November 21st, the order did indeed arrive. The two guys did not allow me to check the order, or even count the boxes. They insisted that I sign something saying that the order had been delivered. I complied because I felt overwhelmed and bullied, and I frankly didn't know what else to do.

I spent the next 2 hours checking boxes, and 3 pieces were missing. I also had one large box that didn't belong to me at all. I called IKEA, and told them that I was missing part of my order, as well as having an extra box that was not mine. The agent suggested that I come to the store to sort out the missing pieces, and pick them up and carry them home myself. I could have IKEA deal with it, but they would have to open a file and it would be 5 days before anyone called me back.

I googled the address on the extra box, called the owner, and left a message saying that they would be welcome to come and pick up their box at our house, if they didn't want to deal with IKEA customer service. They called back the next day and said that they would rather have IKEA deal with it. Suckers.

I fully realize that I picked that "delivery date" in the first place, but I still insist on asking: if the delivery date could not be moved, then why did they not tell me that on the phone when I asked for it to be sped up? If everything was in stock, why could the delivery date not be moved? Why was it so hard to speak to an actual, live person? Why did I get conflicting messages every time I did actually speak to someone?? And why - for the love of all that is good and holy - does it take at least AN HOUR on hold to speak to someone?? Newsflash: HIRE MORE PEOPLE. And please, if you do, hire people who know something about good customer service. Because your people don't.

The upside is, one of the delivery guys came back with some (I hope all) of the missing pieces. Our contractor's guys were here today, and have put together a maze of cabinet boxes. We are once again moving forward. My nerves are shot. I had to have the phone surgically removed from my left ear. Needless to say, I am not a big fan of IKEA right now.

But we are moving forward.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

TWO!

Apparently, I'm all about the pictures these days. I have lost all grasp of coherent communication due to the kitchen reno.

Two years ago today, I was planning to go for a run after a week off for some muscle spasm that I was having in my back. Instead, I woke up at 4am and got up to go pee, only to have my water break. Three weeks earlier than expected. The result, however, was way better than I could have ever expected.


There are no adequate words to express the joy you have brought into my life, my fun-seeking, daredevil, why-walk-when-you-can-run little man. You are one of a kind, and well worth the daily heart attacks. You challenge the status quo, and I love you for it. Don't change that. You take me outside of myself, and I am a better person for it. I hope this year brings an excess of words. I can tell you have a lot to say, and I'm dying to know what's going on in that quirky head of yours.


Love you, Doodle.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallowe'en Triptych

Pre-trick-or-treating. Little G's shirt is wet because he threw a fit when I tried to put a costume on him. Once he got used to the idea, though, he really got into the spirit of things. He actually went to more houses than Big C.

The Pumpkin. Big C asked me to make a "vampire pumpkin" to match his costume. There was a second pumpkin - a scary ghostie - but the candle broke in the high winds and it almost caught on fire.

Post-trick-or-treating. The boys decided it was much more fun to give out candy than to go get it. (Huh??? Not my children, obviously.) They sat on the porch for more than 45 minutes giving out candy. Big C complimented children on their costumes and Little G tried to give them only candy that he had eaten first.
Good times.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Kitchen Porn (Reno Day 1)

Someone, I can't remember who, described posting pictures of your renovation as "kitchen porn". Well, all I can say is, if this is porn then I am doing it wrong.

There is nothing - NOTHING - even remotely arousing about these pictures:


Ah, yes, I like to pretend that I live in a clutter-free world but that is very, very far from the truth. In my defence, there is very little storage in this kitchen. OK, who I am kidding? I am a cluttery, cluttery person. AND, I hate to clean. Good combo.

Do you like my IKEA cabinets circa 1980? You can't see it, but the sink is NOT centred under the window. Was the designer of this fab kitchen trying to hurt me? (Please future designers, think of us OCD people when you're designing!)


Ah yes, the oven and cooktop in the MIDDLE of the kitchen. With no ventilation. And a door that opens like a cabinet. VERY safe with small children about. They can just open it up and sit right in it. But it does have the name Eaton on it, and I like to support Canadian businesses.

My pantry wall. We've had many good years together. Stuffing groceries into one tall, thin cabinet. But don't you think it's artistically decorated? Buddha overlooks the garbage and recycling, keeping it safe and calm. The clock was a recent addition, courtesy of my mother. And true to my artsy nature, there is no food in my kitchen, only one script on a bright, plastic tray.

When we bought the house, we both agreed that the kitchen was livable, but needed to be redone asap. That was seven years ago. Before fixing:
  • knob and tube wiring
  • tree roots growing in our drains
  • the roof
  • hardwood floors so old that nails popped out of it
  • a porch that was rotting
I can't believe - still don't believe - that this is actually happening. But I have a very empty kitchen to my left that has been torn down to the subfloor. I also have large holes in my walls where, apparently, the people before didn't feel it was necessary to insulate or finish the drywall.

Oh, and somewhere out there, we have a mouse. He left us some gifties. Nice.

Wish me luck.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Totally Bad Ad. Really.

I don't know if it's the popularity of Mad Men, or just the fact that I watch far too much tv, but I am fascinated with ads.

People spend thousands of dollars, more even, to get a campaign just right. And Donald Draper makes it looks so easy. Flicking off one-liners like they're ashes from his elegantly smoking cigarette. I don't know how he does it. His underlings come to him with what I believe is a super idea, and he picks it apart effortlessly, pointing out mistakes that I would never have seen.

But I see enough ads to know what speaks to me. I also fancy myself savvy enough to know when an ad is just plain awful.

Case in point, the new campaign for Dufferin Mall: "Dufferin Mall. Really."

Now, for those not familiar with this mall, I would describe it as, well, at best, "sketchy". It has some nice stores like Toys R Us, Winners, and H&M. Most of the stores, however, are the kind where plaid shirts and acid wash jeans have ruled supreme for the past 20 years, and are not just a nod to 80's fashion revival. They are trying to be family friendly, with a huge family washroom, and a small Early Years Centre. I visit there frequently on my way to Dufferin Grove Park, which is possibly the best park in the whole of the west end.

I see what they're trying to do. I see that they are trying to make themselves seem more upscale, more like a destination mall rather than a mall on the way to a destination. They are trying to be more hip. But this poster could not represent them less.

On a good day, I am the youngest, most attractive person there. (That should end the conversation right there....). Me, with my saggy jeans, un-made-up face and two screaming kids. I seriously doubt you could find an outfit like that in the mall - possibly at H&M - and you certainly can't find anyone who looks like that who would be caught dead there. Yes, they are trying to seem posh. But sometimes, though, you should bank on your strengths: a family friendly mall that offers some cost-effective alternatives.

All that aside, though, did no one - NO ONE - look at this ad and read it out loud the way I read it the first time I saw it:

"Dufferin Mall. REALLY??" (Insert tone of derision and contempt on last word.)

That's a bad ad. Really.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Six of One, Half a Dozen of Another


For the love of all that is holy, I can't make a decision to save my life. We're renovating our kitchen. I've narrowed down the floor to two choices:

A) Wild Cherry - left
B) Chesnut - right

The Wild Cherry works with the mid-tones of the current American Cherry hardwood. The Chesnut pulls out the deeper red tones. The Cherry looks nicer next to the white cabinets. The Chesnut looks nicer next to the hardwood.The Cherry is the safer choice. The Chesnut is the more dynamic one.

We're renovating with an eye to resale, but still have to live with the kitchen in the meantime.

Help, please.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blah-gg, Blah-gger, Blah-gging

Tap, Tap. Anyone still out there? Anyone??

As someone who prides themselves on being a multi-tasker, I am shocked to discover that I can't seem to do more than one thing at a time.

First, it was getting Big C off to school and all that entails. Holy crap, there's a lot of paperwork. And rules for what we can and can't bring for snack. And more paperwork. And parent meetings where they make you feel bad for not volunteering for the Parent Council. I've decided that there are certain people - neither good nor bad - who run for Parent Councils. They are probably the same people who ran for Student Council when they were younger. I was the geek in the drama club. I am not the governing type.

Then, I spent two whole weeks preparing for an audition which I didn't get. Suffice to say that I am somewhat humiliated that I couldn't get a role in community theatre, for which I extensively prepared, and for which the director personally invited me to audition. Apparently, I am not queen material. To which I say a very royal "Eff Off!" (Hm. Mayhap that was not very dignified..) FAIL.

Now, I spend every waking and while-I'm-supposed-to-be-sleeping moment planning and fretting about our upcoming kitchen renovation. Frankly, I thought it would be a lot more fun. However, I lose interest after choosing the colour scheme. Not to mention, the IKEA Home Planner is a lot like doing a puzzle with math. I like neither puzzles, nor math. And why is it so hard to get hold of contractors?

I'm excited and terrified to be finally renovating a kitchen that has needed an overhaul for the past 7 years. I want it to be done yesterday. Everything is moving at a snail's pace, and this frustrates me. And I'll be devasted if, once done, it doesn't look fabulous. OF COURSE it will look better than it does now. ANYTHING would look better than our ragamuffin kitchen, but if I'm going to do something, I want it to be perfect. Better than perfect, if possible. I also don't know how it's possible to live through a kitchen renovation with two small children, one of which is a very light sleeper, and both of which will lose their cookies if they are not fed at regular intervals with the food they are used to.

The stress has wreaked havoc on my skin, and I retreat - in my non-existent spare time - to vapid TV dramas like The Vampire Diaries. The show is not good, and I can't get enough of it. In times of upheaval and disappointment, it's good to watch very pretty people, people who seem to have everything under control, get eaten.

Please don't take off while I get my act together.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Run, NoMo, Run.

The hardest part about running is getting out the door.

I've been running for about 11 years now and this is as true now as the first day I put on my sneakers and headed outside. The hardest part is making yourself do it. In fact, it's even harder now that I have two kids. There's always an excuse. I'm too tired. I had a bad day. I could use a nap. I want to sleep in. I don't have the time. I haven't had a glass of water since - wait, did I even get a chance to drink today?

I started running because Mr Earth-to-be decided he was going to start running to get in shape, and I didn't want to be left out. I also didn't want to watch my ass get larger while he got leaner and healthier.

I found that I liked it. I started out running for about a half hour, and everytime I felt like I could go a bit further, I added another five minutes onto the run. It took about a year until I could run for an hour easily, but I never got past that point. (Except that one time when I unwittingly ran past my turnaround point, but that's a story for another day..)

When we moved to our house, I met up with an old schoolmate who ran with an informal group. She invited me to join, and I agreed - never intending to actually go. Then I got to thinking: why the hell not? So I did. The group was led by a 60-year-old man who had done countless marathons and who could run circles around me. Thanks to him, I ran my first 5K race and mustered up the courage to take on a half marathon.

I got into running more and more, and joined an official training group. With them, I managed to complete a 30K race, and was training for a marathon. The marathon happened to be scheduled ont the same day as a 10-hour rehearsal I had for my current play. I didn't feel that I could do both in one day, and the rehearsal won out. I ran a 40K training run the day before, though, because I hated to waste all that training time. The next weekend I took a pregnancy test and it was positive, and I gave up the idea of marathoning for a while.

I ran through both pregnancies: to 37 weeks with Big C, and 36 weeks with Little G. Both were born a week after I stopped running. Do you think they were enjoying the ride, or wondering when is this chick going to stop running long enough for me to get the hell outta Dodge? Since having kids, I haven't been able to run much longer than 10K. There just isn't the time to train that I used to have. And I'm tired. And I like napping. And I keep forgetting to drink water.

But, I'll tell you this: in the 10 or so years since I've decided that my health matters and I really need to give this exercise thing a go, I've tried TaeBo, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, spinning, gravity, aerobics, and weight training. Running is the only thing that I keep coming back to, time and again.

It's the perfect exercise. (Well, maybe not 'perfect' - it has yet to get rid of the muffin top..) You can do it alone, or in a group. You can run for fun, or compete. You can wear some ratty shorts and old shoes, or you can have the latest gadgets and gizmos. You can be short, tall, skinny, fat, fast, slow and it doesn't matter. You don't need any particular skill or coordination, just determination. And that, I have in spades. I always smile when I hear someone say: "Oh, I'm not running today, I'm on vacation." For me, vacation means having more time to run. Not squeezing it in before the kids wake up, between meals, or during nap time.

I started out running to lose weight, but that's not why I continue to do it (although it's a nice bonus). I need to run. When I'm running, I feel like everything else just fades into the background: stress, anger, frustration, and yes, even exhaustion. It keeps me sane. After I run, I yell less. I'm annoyed less. I'm more patient. I'm more enthusiastic. I have more energy. It gives me confidence, because I feel like even if my day falls to pieces around me at least, at least, I've accomplished that one thing.

That one thing is huge, too, because so many people think that they can't do it, but I know the truth. I can. Anyone can. All you have to do is take the first step: Get out the door.

It's hard. But it's so worth it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who ya gonna call?


Captions I thought of for this picture:
  1. Are they giving them away? Some clarification please.
  2. I've haven't enjoyed my neighbourhood walk so much in a long time.
  3. Somebody sure has a high opinion of himself.
  4. I wish I'd seen this sign before I agreed to get married.
  5. Mr Earth was slightly intimidated by this sign.
  6. If I'd known this was just down the street, we'd have bought a different house.
  7. Where the heck is my *$%@ phone?!
  8. If it truly is that big, do you really need a sign?
  9. I stood around waiting for something to happen, but after 30 seconds I just left in disappointment.
  10. This sign must have been made by a man. In reality it was only 2 inches long.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Close Encounters

What a long strange day this has been.

It started about 3am, when Big C woke up and decided he couldn't be consoled unless he slept in the "big bed" with me. I don't usually do this, but the boys and I were having a sleepover at my parents house, and what the hell. As long as I got to sleep, I didn't really care. Of course, I didn't. I was awake for an hour afterwards, and then awake every hour after that. Then I was so tired that I slept through my 6am wake-up time.

I managed to get out of the house at 6:35am for a run along the escarpment trail. Hot as soup, it was. It felt like I was sweating oil along with, well, sweat. Attractive, I KNOW. I got to the part of the trail where it either veered off into houses on the edge of the escarpment (or "mountain" as we delightfully smart born-and-bred Ti-Cats refer to it), or you could continue on into the the less maintained part of the trail. I was unsure of my way in the mountain streets, so I decided to continue on the trail on the trail for 5 more minutes until I reached my half-hour turnaround point. It felt like I was venturing into No Man's Land (or was that Nomo's Land..??), but what is life without a little risk..?

Not too far in, I deftly veered out of the way of some prominent animal leavings, and saw a brown rabbit sitting calmly in the brush to the side of the road. Further down the rabbit hole I went. Before I had run the requisite 5 minutes, something large burst out of the trees to the left and crossed the path a few feet from where I was running. It was a deer. I stopped and watched it join it's mate in the forest to the right. They were eating and cautiously watching me to see what I would do. I stopped in my tracks and watched to see what they would do. I took this as a sign that I should turn around and go back. Leave nature to unfold..naturally.

I picked up the pace and came across several deer on my right, standing at the edge of the road. I started counting and there were nine in total, one, a baby spotted fawn. I slowed down again, and walked as calmly and unthreateningly past them as I could. They watched me warily to see what I would do. I watched them warily to see what they would do. It was like an old-fashioned showdown without the gunslinging.

The rest of the run passed uneventfully, although a bug did fly up my nose. And one stinger rode on my hat for a while. That was fun. Buggers.

On the drive back to Toronto, Big C said that he had had trouble sleeping last night because there were flashing lights in his room. Puzzled, I asked flashing lights from where? From the window?? My mind immediately going to aliens. I watch far too much weird TV. He said they were coming from inside the room. From 'reflections'. I let the conversation drop. There are some things I don't want to know, and aliens top that list.

At 7pm, the skies opened up and we had the most frightening weather I have ever been witness to in my life. Rain bucketing. Wind whipping. Tornado watching. Rooves ripped off. Houses destroyed. Somebody killed. I watched the TV and the window, frightened that it would strike our house. Strangely, I had no fear for myself, only the need to get the kids to safety. Out of harm's way. Nature is powerful.

It passed as quickly as it came on, and in the end, a beautiful rainbow. Now I remember why I loved them as a child. They mean that all is safe.

They say that animals (and perhaps small children?) sense danger, and act strangely when something big is going to happen. Who knows. But I won't look at a deer in quite the same way again.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wherein Nomo Discusses a Book Without Reviewing It.


So, I finished reading Loving Frank for my book club meeting this week. I'm not going to review it save this: it was a good book, well-written, and I liked it.

Wow, I'm smart.

What I do want to talk about is the subject of the book. If you haven't read it, the basic premise is as follows: Mamah Cheney is a married woman with two small children. She and her husband, Edwin, hire Frank Lloyd Wright to design their home. She falls in love with Frank, and realizes that she not only loves someone else, she actually never loved her husband. She leaves him and joins Frank on a trip to Berlin. She asks her husband for a divorce, which he eventually grants. Cause: desertion. I won't say much more as not to ruin the (very shocking and unexpected) ending.

I actually finished the book last week, but I've been mulling it around in my head. Mr Earth is tired of talking about a book he hasn't read, so you, my lovely readers are the recipients of my thoughts.

I absolutely believe that if Mamah doesn't love her husband, and, in fact, never loved him, then she should have left him. I've never been a fan of the whole idea of "staying together for the sake of the children". While I respect the thought and love behind to the decision to stay together for the children, I think it does them a disservice in that they spend their childhood witnessing an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. As parents, Mamah and Edwin, should have made every effort to make the relationship work. But if they tried, and it still didn't work, everyone is happier separate, no matter how hard the initial shock of separation is for the children. So in that respect, she was absolutely in the right.

What I don't understand is how Mamah could leave her children behind FOR 2 YEARS while she gallivanted off to Europe to hang out with her lover and find her calling. Both are very important things, things that she had to do to regain her sense of self. But to do them at the expense of her relationship with her children...well, it made me think less of her. Yes, she had to be with Frank, who was overseas. Yet she could have stayed with him there and come back periodically. Yes, she had to find herself, and do her important work in the world - work that would have been hard to do with small children around - but she could have done it from a location closer to her children. It would make it harder, yes, as Europe was the epicentre of the new thinking, but as a parent - wasn't she obliged to stay? Wasn't she??

It's such a hard question, one I ask myself constantly. All people, mothers being no exception, need personal fulfillment. They can't just narrow their lives up to a point where they are "mom" and nobody else. It's a recipe for future disaster. As one of the characters in the book, Else, said "I was married to a doctor...I had fine china. Lovely rugs on the floor... One day, I woke up and thought, What have you done with your gifts? You've traded them for furniture." (pg 191) That quote really chilled me, because you can hear how easy it is to lose yourself in motherhood and forget selfhood.

But I still think that if you make the choice to have children - and nobody put a gun to Mamah's head, although in the early 1900's, I'm sure it wasn't really a choice - then you must necessarily be there for the children YOU CHOSE to have. They have a right to a mother, and you have an obligation to be there. She chose to further herself at the expense of her children. It's funny too, because she criticized her idol, feminist Ellen Key, for contradicting her own ideas and saying just that.

I'm just torn apart trying to figure out just exactly what I think of Mamah. I like her. I want to support her breaking the mold, going after her dreams, and seeking her happiness. I simply can't forgive her leaving her children to do so. Desertion is a cold word. An unforgivable word, where children are concerned. After a week of thinking about it, I still don't know whether or not I agree with the path she chose. (I know I don't have to. It's just a book. But I say a book is not worth reading if you're not invested in it. I like to put myself in the heroine's position and figure out a problem from her perspective.)

What do you think? Are you even following my muddled thought process...?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Post It Forward

Not too long ago, Mac and Cheese posted about how boring the blogosphere has become lately. Many people aren't posting very often lately, even less are reading, and even less than that are leaving comments. I've noticed a widespread blogging malaise over the past few summers. It gets worse during the BlogHer week, when everyone is off having fun and we sad few remaining can only sniff and bemoan our outcast state.

I'm part of the problem. Thanks to a driveway gate, some large trucks that really should be outdoors anyways and a lovely new patio set, I've discovered that my backyard can be turned into a gigantic, fresh air playpen. I'm outside a lot, as it should be. If I had some sangria and children who would let me read for five whole minutes in a row without interrupting, I would be out there all the time. Seriously. All the time.

Anyways, on to a solution. I've decided to institute a new bloggy game (or 'meme' if you'd rather - I avoid words I can't reliably pronounce..) called Post It Forward. Here's the deal: write a post sharing why and how you started your blog. You may have posted about this before, but don't cheat and link to it. Write it again. I probably missed it the first time, anyways. At the bottom of the post, choose another person to share their story, and let them know you did. If you send me the links, I'll post them on my sidebar, so everyone else can find them easier. And don't wait for someone to tag you, if you don't want to. Be a rebel! Start a new strain! Just let me know, so I can read 'em too. I need inspiration. I'll start...

Big C was 18 months, and I had been back at work for 6 months. I was feeling guilty, and cut off from the whole baby world I left when I went back to work. I was terribly bored at work (it was summer and really slow), and reading parenting websites for any advice I could get. One of them linked to MUBAR. I had no idea what a "blog" was, and was curious. Her blog linked to a lot of other ones, and I started reading them too. I had no idea all these voices were out there in the ether.

After a while, I started feeling like a stalker - reading, sharing in these lives, but never commenting. I decided to create a "mock" blog because I wondered what mine would look like if I actually had one. I chose the name No Mother Earth in a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Evil Mom's Group that I belonged to. They were SuperMoms, and I was anything but. I chose a recent picture of Big C at the cottage that looked suitably 'earthy' and was very dear to my heart because my parents were selling the cottage.

After I created the blog, I found it didn't look right, because it had no posts. I wrote two posts, just to see what they would look like. Somehow, the lovely and talented Bub and Pie found my blog, and commented on those posts. I was thrilled. And somewhat taken aback. How had she found me? I thought I was so completely under the radar that no one would ever find the blog. But I was so intrigued by the ability to post something and get a response, that I felt I had to continue.

It wasn't until six months later, though, that the idea of blogging really cemented for me. Someone put the call out to Toronto bloggers to meet up at a bar in Greektown. Completely out of character for me, shy and uncool, I decided to go. I found some incredibly lovely people that helped me put faces to the blogs, and they soon became friends. And for all the many reasons I have to continue blogging, that one is right up there at the top.

Post It Forward: I choose Kgirl. She mentioned that she might be having trouble posting things longer than 140 characters (Damn you, sweet Twitter..!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beginnings and Endings

Today was Big C's last day of daycare. He's only been going two mornings a week since I officially became a SAHM. He had lots of friends there, and we thought some continuity and some time to focus on Little G exclusively was a good idea. But, it being summer, most of his friends are either on vacation or leaving to go to another daycare pending the start of their school year. I thought it would be nice to have a month where we didn't have to be anywhere at any particular time unless we wanted to be. Starting September 8th, we have to be at school at 8:55am precisely, every single weekday. (Couldn't they have made it 9am? Really?? 8:55am?? It's like I'm watching BBC TV, or something.)

It was surprisingly emotional. Getting him to daycare has become more trouble than it's worth, and I thought I would be glad to see this day come. Big C has been there 3 years, though. We know all the teachers. They taught him things like sitting at a table, drinking from a real cup, sleeping on a bed (not a crib), using the potty and even, sometimes, eating vegetables. If it were up to me, he would probably still be in diapers, sitting in a high chair and drinking pop in a baby bottle. I kid. I don't give my kid pop. Oh. Unless you count the "Gingerale Medicine" I give him when he has a tummy ache. (Ha! Thanks to my french immersion education, I totally don't know how to spell medicine! Is that right? I spelt it "medecine" first off, without thinking.)

Everyone had big hugs for him, and the daycare administrator even got him a present. They have been very good to us. I was mortified that I could only afford to give them homemade cards and a teenie tiny box of chocolates each. I wish I could have gotten them something more substantial to show my thanks, but I had eight teachers to buy for. It adds up. And when you're agonizing over whether or not you should return a $12 t-shirt because it was an unecessary expense, you can't just go and spend $200 bucks on presents. Still, I hope they know that the size of the gift doesn't reflect my gratitude.

And next up, Big C will be on to bigger and better things: SCHOOL! Can it really be that time already?

And speaking of new beginnings...my very good friend, Metro Mama, just had her baby. A little brother for Cakes. I'm so happy for her! She's already enjoying the wonder that is little girls, and now she gets to find out that boys can be da bomb, too. Happy Birth Day, little man!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Good Book

I am extremely, ridiculously lucky in that the good people at Random House send me review copies of some of their books. I don't write a post about every single one of them. Sometimes, I simply don't have time (loved The Lady Elizabeth, but life went crazy..and now the moment has passed). Some don't inspire me (sorry Vassanji, I'm usually a fan, but you lost me on this one). Sometimes, the book is amazing, but other bloggers posted way better reviews and I feel like I have nothing to add. (Have you read Six Months in Sudan? You should. It's the exact opposite of 'my type of book', and I loved it. Loved. Go read Kgirl's summary.)

But sometimes, I am truly enamoured by a book and I feel that I have to say something - even if it sucks as a 'review' - about it. This is the case with The Good Mayor. I was trawling Chapters looking for something to read, and finding nothing when I came across this book by an author that I'd never heard of. And no wonder, it's Andrew Nicoll's first book. The quaint, sepia cover caught my eye (I totally judge a book by it's cover. Totally. And the way it feels in my hands when I pick it up. I'm very tactile. And weird.), as did the quote:

'Simply makes you want to go out and fall in love with someone.'

I won't bore you with a summary of the story - especially as when you talk about 'what happens', it's really just a) the Mayor is in love with his secretary b) his secretary is married c) her husband sucks d) she starts to fall in love with the mayor. Not much to it, right?

Wrong.

I don't know how to describe it, except to say it's...magical. Nicoll has a way with words that is quite remarkable. Rich, plummy, unexpectedly descriptive words give this novel an offbeat charm that is simply entrancing. I had a hard time putting it down. I kept finding little chunks of time to read whatever I could, as often as I could. I was recommending it to people before I even finished it.

I was entirely captivated. The (surprise) twist near the end (which I won't reveal) was a little off-putting. But it was the only time that I was not completely under this book's spell. This is one that I think I will keep and read again. And again. A perfect, lovely, summer treasure. I look forward to more from this author.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ironic.

Six months ago today, I had to quit my job because we lost daycare for Little G and couldn't find a suitable replacement.

Today, six months later, while playing in the park with G, I got an email from a nearby daycare. They have spots for both boys, and what would I like to do? They are close to my house. They walk the older kids to C's school. It comes recommended by a friend whose child attends. It is the most affordable daycare in the area (they're privately owned, and can do what they want.)

I don't have a job anymore.

Is this supposed to be some sort of cosmic joke at my expense? Is this a turning point in my life where I am supposed to make the "right" decision, but just can't see it yet? I feel like I'm in a movie and everybody in the audience is saying "Why can't she see what she's supposed to do? It's so obvious?" It's not obvious to me. And my life is not a movie.

If I take the spots, I'll no doubt find a less than inspiring job and wish every moment that I was still at home with them. If I turn them down, I will no doubt be offered my dream job within the month. This is the irony of my life.

Why can't the different paths in life be marked with signposts?? Things would sure be a lot clearer.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Family STAY-cation '09

I. Am. Exhausted.

I need a vacation.

Oh, wait. I just had one.

Mr Earth took some time off from work coinciding with Canada Day, so that we could do things as a family. We didn't have the money or the energy to go somewhere exotic and new, so we decided to check out all that the Big Smoke has to offer. Well, not all. Not half, really. But a couple of things.

Big C was so excited to take Mr Earth to the Science Centre. The boys and I have been there a couple of times, but never with Daddy so it was very! exciting!. Big C took him around in a mad panic trying to show him everything there was to see. Little G and I hung out. It was overwhelming for him and he was racing around screaming at everything, but he really, really liked the ball drop area. They had a lizard and snake exhibition. I saw the biggest snake I ever want to see when I'm only separated by a thin layer of glass. Shudder. I personally will not go back to the Science Centre until school is back in session. It was a madhouse. Mad. House.

You gotta love a boy with balls.

Next we went to the Big Zoo. We brought the stroller, but Little G walked almost the entire 3 hours. He was falling-down tired by the end. I'm not sure what he made of the live! animals! He looked bemused half the time. We checked out the Kids Zoo area for the first time, and it was pretty neat, actually. Big C was disappointed that there were no animals he could pet.

Now doesn't the sight of brothers holding hands just warm the heart?

This photo is for Kgirl. It's the closest we get to matching outfits here at Casa Earth.


Big C and the baby Alpaca. I just love this picture.

Finally, after much deliberation, we decided on the CN Tower for our last excursion. Did I mention that Mr Earth is deathly afraid of heights? Fun times. Little G and I loved the aerial views. Big C was a little more hesitant. (Mr Earth would say SMART.) I'm impressed that Mr Earth and Big C did make a special trip to see the glass floor (from a distance), and even go outside.


Little G and I danced on the glass floor. (See my toes? I really was there! Even if I'm not in any photos.)



What a view.


A great time was had by all. And now I am so tired, I can't speak. I wish Mr Earth could stay home every day. But then we really would have NO MONEY. I like money. So off to work he goes. We will miss him during the day, though.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Two's Company

Big C spent the weekend at his Nana and Papa's house, so Little G had us all to himself. Sometime in the middle of Saturday, Mr Earth turned to me and said, "Why did we ever think that having one baby is so hard? This is so easy! It's like a vacation!!" I just laughed, because it's true.

But here's the thing -- it's not nearly as fun.

It's kind of like having a dinner party... (Now c'mon, you know I can't write a post without a bad analogy right? Do they have rehabs for analogy over-users? Hm.) ...Anyways, it's like having a dinner party. If you like intimate dinners for two people, and that's all you want, that's fine. You have civilized conversations, you give that person your undivided attention, you buy the more expensive cut of meat perhaps. It's all good. But if you like hosting a raucous dinner party for your ten closest friends, having one guest can seem intimate (and is a lovely break now and then), but it's more likely to just seem a little bit lonely. And yes, you can't spend as much time with each guest. Yes, you have to plan the meal based on what you can afford, and what stretches well to feed everyone. Yes, it's more work. But still. The possibilities for fun are multiplied as well.

(Don't ask me how two kids equals ten dinner guests in this analogy. I'm artsy. I don't do math.)

I guess I kind of fall somewhere in between: I like the intimacy of a small party, but it's a lot of pressure. It's all me, all the time. I like to be able to take a back seat now and then, and just listen. To watch the powerful play unfold. And having a second child forced me to relax a bit, to not micro-manage every moment. To realize that as perfect as I may want things to be, sometimes I just have to let it go. And I'm a better parent for it. It's easier, because I'm not unknowingly making things harder.

The best thing of all is that they have a friend who will always be there, who will always be connected to them no matter where they end up in this life. Big C taught Little G how to use a spoon, not me. He's the person that made Little G smile, laugh, crawl and walk sooner than he probably would have. He just wanted to keep up with his big brother. And Little G is teaching Big C more about sharing and being kind to people who need help and patience better than I ever could alone.

It's heart-breakingly lovely to watch. And so very, very worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bugaboos Aren't Always the Best

(Epic) Stroller Buying Advice from a Parent in the Trenches

I love talking to people who are about to have their first baby. They know their lives are going to be changed forever, but they don't KNOW. You know? It's like watching videos of people who are about to bungee jump, or rappel down a mountain - you want to warn them to take all the precautions, but in the end all you can do is stand back and watch them go.

I have a morbid curiosity, though, in what people buy to prepare for their first child. I want to know what they've stocked up on, what they still need to get and where they are planning to shop. Part of me wants to know what's considered (baby on the)hip or (old s)cool these days, but more specifically, I want to know if they are unprepared as I was. And I want to help. I want to guide. I really do! But I have to bite my tongue, because, as I've found, people don't really want advice. They may think they do, but they most often don't.

The thing I'm most curious about, though, is what stroller people are planning to get. So far, I've found that people either have no idea what to get (to which I think you really should do some reasearch. Really.). Or, they invariable say "Oh, I'm getting a Bugaboo. Everyone says that they are the best." (to which I think Hmm, yes and no.) If they ask my advice, they regret it, because I have a lot to say about strollers. A LOT. I have to watch them and make sure I stop talking when their eyes start to glaze over and they look like they're going to go out and buy a stroller right that minute just so I will SHUT UP.

So, if you are a parent and are actually looking for advice on buying a stroller, if you feel as lost as I did when trying to choose the right stroller, and if you want to avoid having Stroller Graveyard in your back shed like I do, you may wish to read this. And please, if you are a parent who has bought and loved (or hated) a particular stroller, please add your two cents to the comment section. I'd love to hear any advice you have. Cause I feel the need to purge the information from my brain so that I can stop putting people to sleep at baby showers. And perhaps move on with my life.

Really think about how you are going to use your stroller. This is the hardest part, in my opinion, especially if you are going to buy the stroller before the baby arrives (as most do). I bought my first stroller - a Peg Perego Atlantico - because my sister-in-law had that stroller and loved it, and I didn't know any better. My SIL and I do not have the same life and we are not the same person. She liked walking around in malls with the baby. I liked walking in High Park on the trails. While that stroller was fine on flat surfaces, it did not like any kind of rough terrain, or snow deeper than a few centimetres. I trashed that stroller with my extreme strolling, and even lost a wheel at one point. Still don't know where it is.

Size matters. Wheels, storage, and overall size. In this one respect, you get what you pay for. Generally cheaper strollers are larger and bulkier. They also often have small, hard wheels. If you plan to only use your stroller in the mall or on large suburban streets, then it doesn't matter if you have a great big, stroller. If you are using it in the GTA, for example, you're screwed. There will be shops you can't go into (unless you offload the kid every single time), and you will even find it hard to navigate the city sidewalks with all the signs and flower pots. There are MANY people who don't want "SUV-type strollers" in their stores and go out of their way to make them inaccessible (Stupid, that, because who is spending the money during the weekday but parents at home with children? Others are probably working, not shopping.) Don't even get me started on taking a large stroller on the subway... Also, storage is essential - unless you like pushing a stroller while juggling groceries, diaper bags, jackets, snacks and sand toys. (Have fun with that.) And something I didn't know? The larger the wheel (the inflatable, bicycle-type wheel), the better it goes through the snow. VERY IMPORTANT in Canada.

Strollers to consider:

Bugaboo. Yes, I want one. Yes, I have stroller-envy. But yes, I realize now that this would never have been the best option for me. They are cute, light, easy to manoeuvre and totally what all the cool parents are buying. (Yup, still jealous. Just checking.) But they are not right for everyone. Plus they cost $1300! I consider them like Porsches. No one can deny that they are great (and expensive!) cars, but are they right for every lifestyle? No. Would you go off-roading in a Porsche? No. Would you go camping with a Porsche? No. A friend of mine has one, and she doesn't think that the tires don't go through snow very well at all. You can buy snow tires (at an additional cost, of course), but then the tires lock and the whole "easy to manoeuvre" aspect is gone. My main problem is the cost. Not only is it insanely expensive, but what happens if you have a second child? Yes, you can attach a "boogie board", but you better hope your kid is old enough and responsible enough to hang on. And, I doubt this feature is terribly useful in snow. (Note. Peg Perego's Skate is a cheap knock-off of this stroller, minus the storage. Who doesn't want storage?)

Phil and Ted's. I'm biased, because this is the stroller we bought with Little G on the way. In my opinion this is the best option currently available for families planning to have two children close in age. You buy it as a single, and then you can add the second seat later when you have another child. You can lie the baby flat when newborn and put the additional seat in front for the older child. You can buy a Coccoon which slides right into the stroller so you can take the baby out with waking. It's the smallest double option available, lightweight, and most importantly - when your older child is walking consistently, you're not left with a double stroller that you can't use. Oh! And it's great in the snow. BUT. Because I do have this stroller, I know it's not perfect. I've had tire issues. I'm sure it's just me because I haven't heard of anyone else with this problem, but I've had to replace the inner tubes far too often. When you do this, you have to go to a stroller repair shop (not just "any bicycle shop", as the salespeople assured me), because they are the only ones that carry inner tubes with angled valves. If you don't have an angled valve, you can't pump up the tires when they deflate. Also, your kids either have to be very close in age or very delicate. My boys are 38 and 28 pounds respectively. The max weight is 88 lbs total, which we haven't reached yet, but I assure you that you will not be able to push a 26 lb stroller with 88 lbs of kid inside it. The total weight with my kids and stroller is over 90 lbs and I have now officially refused to push both of them. I am a fairly fit mother of two who works out 4 times a week, and I think I might have a heart attack if I have to push them both one more time.


Maclaren Umbrella Stroller. I love this stroller. It's light, packs easily and can manoeuvre shops and coffee joints like a dream. It's expensive for an umbrella stroller (you can get a usable umbrella stroller at any Zeller's type store for $20 or less and this one costs over $100 dollars), but it's worth it for the extra: it reclines, it has a sun hood and a rain shield. Also, their doubles version is probably the only realistic side-by-side stroller option for city life. But, because their wheels are small and hard, it's a lost cause using this in the snow. We have one, and I call it my "summer stroller" because I wouldn't even consider trying to go through snow with it.


Running Strollers. I am a runner. A devoted, long-distance, not going to give it up anytime soon kinda runner. For that reason, I have always wanted a running stroller. The reality is, I don't actually like to run with the stroller all that much. I always preferred to use that time as a break from the kids. It's my form of meditation, and I don't like it being interrupted by demands for snacks and constant whining. And now, with two kids, I can't imagine trying to push both of them. (Wow, that would be some kinda workout.) I think that a lot of people feel the same way, because I always see ads on Craigslist for running strollers that have barely been used. Either that, or people find that it's hard to run with a stroller. However, if we had extra cash and storage, I would buy either a BOB Ironman stroller or a Chariot Cougar or CX. The BOB is lightweight and supposed to be the best for handling the wear and tear of true running (ie. you could do a marathon with it. Not that you would.) and I think it would be double well as a regular city stroller. The Chariot is way too big for regular use, but if you are a devoted exerciser, it's great, because the pod-like shape means you don't have to fuss with rain shields while you're running, and toys won't fall out. Also, there's a great storage feature for all your exercise needs.

If I was going to buy a stroller for my first baby all over again, I'd probably buy the Phil and Ted's because of it's versatility. But, if you're only going to have one child, then it probably woudn't be my first choice. If I wasn't worried about using the stroller for a second child (if we were only going to have one, or if I had the cash and the storage space to buy as many strollers as I wanted to) I'd probably buy the BOB Ironman, the Quinny Buzz. I've also seen some UppaBabys and Zooper Zydecos that I thought looked worth trying. I haven't used any of these strollers personally, but I've watched them go by many times and thought "Damn, I wish I had that stroller."

Whoosh. If you made it this far, you are either:

a) About to become a parent and are doing research. (Good for you.)
b) A stroller freak like me. (It's a problem, isn't it?)
c) A good bloggy friend who stuck it out to the end eventhough I bored you to tears. (Thank you! I love you!!)
d) My husband. (Although he probably stopped reading ages ago. He's heard this before.)

Please, if you have stroller suggestions or banishments, leave them in the comments. My obsession continues.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Accidental Gardener

No good can be found under a bush that hasn't been trimmed for seven years.

Heh, heh. Who knew gardening could be so dirty..?

I don't understand gardeners. On your knees, in the dirt, slaving under a hot sun. Digging and pruning and weeding. At the end, the reward is a nice-looking garden that eventually dies. (Well, at least it does at my house. Just call me The Black Thumb). This does not sound like fun to me. Know what it does sound like? Work. Hard work. No fun work. There's supposedly some sort of zen euphoria that comes from working in the garden. I could think think of many things that would create such a euphoria, and most of them don't even involve illegal substances.

Here's how I garden: someone comes over to my house unexpectedly and I see the backyard through their eyes. Flower beds that haven't been weeded since, oh, last year sometime. Bushes taking over the garden. Sticks all over the lawn. God knows where they come from. I am embarrassed beyond belief thinking that said person has gone home wondering "How can they live like that? How can they just not care??" And I become obsessed with fixing the problems.

So basically, I garden only when I think I am being judged. Or will be judged

By the way, if you come over to my house and I have gardened before your arrival, please don't be offended. I don't think that you, specifically, are a person who will judge me. It probably has nothing to do with you at all. More about my need for perfectionism, and my desire to have people think that I care about the upkeep of my house. I don't. Well, maybe I do, but not enough to actually do something about it.

I realized this as I was doing some work in the garden the other day. (Which, by the way, I decided to do because I had a dinner party on Saturday and was horrified by the encroaching weeds). And, by "work", I mean the bare minimum I need to do to get by.

Here are the rules every Accidental Gardener must follow:

  1. If it looks like a weed, rip it out.
  2. If it looks like a plant, but you didn't plant it, it's probably a weed. If you don't like it, rip it out.
  3. If it looks attractive, let it stay. Even if it's actually a weed.
  4. If it looks attractive, but threatens to take over lawn, rip it out. No mercy.
  5. If you get bored of weeding, use the rake. Pretend it's fancy mulch.
  6. If a bush is getting too big for it's britches, cut it back. No mercy. Even if your husband has a sentimental attachment to bush. (Did she just say that? Whut!?)
  7. Only buy plants that can't be killed.
  8. If you must buy plants that look fragile, ask them if they have a death wish.
  9. Once planted, everyone is on their own. Don't expect succor from Black Thumb.
  10. Whatever you do, don't water. That takes time and effort.
  11. Gloves are for sissies.
  12. If the weeds are bigger than you, run.
Join the Accidental Gardening movement! We are one, but we are proud.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Just another Manic Monday.

Wish it were Sunday.

Strike that.

Wish it were Saturday. Had impromptu dinner party. Parents came over to watch kids for afternoon and stayed for dinner. Cousin and new husband popped over and stayed for dinner. Made full use of fabulous new patio set from Canadian Tire. Much wine was drunk. Am probably still drunk. Felt like real family settling into house instead of wannabes.

Saw new Star Trek movie while parents watched napping kids. Finally understand why people attracted to Kirk thanks to Chris Pine. Yowza. Hiya Hotstuff! Other actors better, though. More on that later this week over at Playdate.

Embarrassed to admit was scared by first episode of Supernatural. Lame, much?

Am terribly nauseous. Barely keeping down food. Too much wine last night? Since when is half a bottle too much? (Am obviously heavyweight drinker but am no drunkard. Yet.) Maybe should drink more. Hair of the dog.

Perhaps nausea stems from Bill Saundercook's daycare freeze? Am considering writing strongly-worded letter but don't know where to start..

Big C being total asshat today. Can say this about own children? Perhaps unwise. But not untrue. Have been screamed at more times than care to count. Timeout count rising exponentially. Restraining urge to throw things.

Evil Cat Willow also being jerk. Should have adopted hamster. Chew jacket? Jump on table. No sir.

Little G font of snot and site of unpredictable tantrum storms. Still.

Am wondering if people can really have 900 Facebook friends. 900? Really?? Perhaps "friend" should be redefined.

Have given up on use of pronouns and other words deemed unnecessary. Too much energy.

Bedtime yet?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Someone should get that kid under control.

Oh wait. That would be me.

This morning, Little G had not one, but THREE screaming tantrums. One of them in Dufferin Mall. We had been having a good time. We walked around Toys R Us and bought a soccer ball for the park. We were just sitting down to coffee and a snack at Second Cup, and it started. Arms flailing. Legs kicking. Face squashed on the floor, mixing snot and tears with the dirt on the floor. Wailing at the top of his lungs.

He wanted to sit on the grown up chair. I think. I don't know because he can't talk. Anyways, he's too small and too unpredictable to sit on a grown up chair yet. I tried sitting with him on my lap. I tried strapping him into the stroller. I tried putting him down so he could walk around. I tried holding him and shushing him gently in the ear. He screamed no matter what I did. In the end, I tried sitting him in the coveted adult chair by himself, and he vaulted out face first. Still screaming.

People stared. I know what they were thinking. Can't you get your kid under control? Should you be out in public when your child obviously hasn't learnt civility?? Do you know that you are a Bad Mother??? On their faces: utter horror.

Here's the thing, though, I don't know when he's going to blow. He's quite a happy, giggly, charming little man. Except when he's not. I can't stay at home, indoors, all day long because he might have a meltdown at some point. And if I left a store every time he screamed, well, let's just say that very very few errands would be completed. If any.

And he's loud. LOUD. When he's unhappy, he makes sure you know it. There is no minor complaint. Every wail is at the top of his lungs. Loblaws was christened the other day. I'm pretty sure everyone in the produce section knew that he didn't want to sit in the cart. One lady came over and spoke to me in soothing tones after the display was over.

I'm not embarrassed, really. I was with Big C when he had tantrums in public, and he wasn't nearly as loud. Nor did he get his freak on as many times as Little G. I'm just tired. Tired of walking on eggshells, waiting for the explosion. And stressed, because it's hard to listen to the screaming and not be able to help. He doesn't want my help. And sad that many more people than I would like don't get to see sweet little man that I know he is. That I've seen him be, countless times.

He really is a very good little boy. He's just a little loud, that's all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A R-ruff and a Royal Growl

My house looks like a bomb went off and shot piles of useless crap everywhere, and yet I still have time to watch American Idol. Apparently, watching pseudo-reality tv shows is more important than cleaning. Who knew?

Do you watch it too? You may scoff, but there are a lot of Really Important People who follow the show religiously. It must be an actor thing, because American Idol is pretty much just a fancier version of an audition. But I can't stop watching. And judging. And nit-picking. It's awesome.

And last night? The Big Upset. I had a funny feeling that Kris would win. Adam is clearly the better singer and performer (like, miles better) and yet he didn't win. And if I had the judges sitting in front of me, I would tell them that, no, Idol actually isn't a singing competition. Because if it was, Adam would have won, hands down. Idol is actually a pop(ular) competition. It's about finding someone that appeals to the masses, and that is not something that you can say about Adam. He challenges the audience, and downright frightens most of middle America. Kris is "cute", and Adam looks like he just came from an audition for The Cure.

Oh, but Adam is so ridiculously talented! If I had one ounce of his singing ability...I'd...well, I don't know what I'd be doing right now, but it would be a lot more exciting than, say, painting my box:

Whut?! Did Nomo just go all porno? Nah. Not me. But my son did say to me, more than once I might add, "I like yer box, mummy!" Wanna know why? Wanna see some pictures of my box?? Come on over to Playdate, my friends, and have a look-see. I'll show you as many pictures of my box that you want.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It Wasn't Me

I am completely against vandalism in any way, shape or form. But, if I had partaken in some illegal fun with city property, it would look something like this:


"If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you."

Seven Year Itch, my a$$. I never take my eyes off you. Happy Anniversary, love.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Switched at Birth?

While at a dance party in support of a wicked cool new moms blog, Mr Earth snapped the following photo:




Now, when he's a teenager and he does something that exasperates me, I can't use the time-honoured maternal guilt trip: "The hospital must have sent me home with the wrong baby, because you are not behaving like any son of mine...!"

Oh well. Apple --> meet tree.

I guess the real question here is: does he look like an aging mom, or do I look like a cute little boy?

Happy Mother's Day! Rock on, peeps.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mother's Day Gift List Dissected

When I married Mr Earth, I married into a family that does not like surprise gifts. There is no searching for the Perfect Present. There is telephoning the person the week before the event and saying, "Whaddya want?", and then you go out and get it. The upshot is, of course, you never get anything you don't want. The downside is, there's little point in wrapping the gift because you already know what it is.

Assuming that my sons will grow up in this glorious tradition, I thought I would make life easier for them by running through the common Mother's Day gifts so that when they're frantically shopping the day before (men!), they would have a handy reference guide.

So, my sons, much like Jor-El did for Kal-El, I impart my parental wisdom in these words:

Card I'm really not a card person at all. Unless you made it with your own two hands (in which case I will treasure it forever), then don't give the card companies your money. It's all a scam to make you feel bad for not buying a card.

Chocolate The people at Godiva will have you believing that no only should you get chocolate, but you should get the best chocolate (i.e. them). With all due respect Godiva, your chocolate is good but also very, very expensive. I prefer Laura Secord french mint or buttercreams.

Flowers I love flowers! Except daisies, chrysanthemums, carnations or any other "filler" flower. Which means you have to pay a lot of money to get the kind of flowers I really like. These days, I think it would be better to spend your money on annuals that can be planted in the garden. The flower that keeps on giving. Still, you can't go much wrong with flowers.

Bath stuff I've always thought that this was a present you get for people you don't know very well. Plus, I don't take baths. And, I like plain old Ivory soap.

Perfume I have a soft spot for perfume, but it's very expensive and I hardly ever wear it. Plus the Body Shop and Crabtree and Evelyn both got rid of their freesia perfume line, so I don't know what I'd choose.

Spa stuff Well, this I love. But, it's really a present that only Daddies can afford, and technically, they're not supposed to be buying presents for me. I'm not their Mommy. (That would be sick.)

Breakfast in bed My gluten intolerance makes this venture kind of pointless, unless you're a Super Cook like Beck. Plus, I like to go for a run first thing in the morning on weekends.

Brunch I always feel obliged to eat too much to "get my money's worth" at brunch. And I dislike crowds. So I end up cranky, with a belly ache.

Handmade craft This is something I would treasure. A+

Prepaid Coffee Card Now, who doesn't like coffee??? A++

Probably the thing I would like best on Mother's Day is to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and read my book. And the chance to not be the one "in charge" for the day. That, my darling boys, is priceless.


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If the stars align, we are going to take ourselves to the pre-Mother's Day Bunch Family Dance Party tomorrow afternoon. I could use a glam rockin' party and some of those grown-up drinks. And a chance to help celebrate the launch of Canada Moms Blog featuring some of my favourite writers...and good friends.

Truly, the best kind of Mother's Day flowers are these, right here.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Race Day Report

Another first for me today. I haven't run a race since Big C was conceived. I think. (Oh my god, my mind is going. If I have run a race, it obviously made very little impression on me.)

Weather: 10 degrees Celsius, Clear and Sunny
Clothing: Long-sleeved technical Tee and bicyle shorts (to stop the jiggling)
Pre-race dinner: Tilapia, risotto and spinach salad
Pre-race food: Vanilla Crisp PowerBar (man that was gross, but they were sold out of Peanut Butter) and water
Distance: 10K

I should have worn a tee-shirt. But it's really hard to leave the house when it's frosty and you have to stand around the start line for an hour with nothing to do but freeze. No wait, I did have something to do - wait in a bathroom line-up for 40 minutes. Luckily, it was inside. And when I finally got there, it was surprisingly clean. Runners can be very civilized when they want to be. Thank you Yonge Street Second Cup for putting up with runners who want to pee, hate port-a-lets and can't risk buying coffee, or they will have to pee during the race. (Again.) I love you! But do you really need a mirror on the way to the washroom? No one needs to see what they look like with a full bladder and no make-up.

There were 12,000 people racing. That's a lot of people. The race started and we didn't move. I think I crossed the start line about 12 minutes after the race started. Still it was exciting. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement. I totally understand mob mentality now.

After spending 40 minutes in line for the loo, I was way back in the crowd crossing the start line. Were I to do it again, I would want to be much further up. I spent a large portion of the race going in and out of pockets of people, trying to inch my way up. I may have actually run an 11K race instead of a 10K. And it was hot. I forgot how the race makes you feel so much hotter than you would in a regular run. Hence why I should have worn a tee.

The course itself was great - either flat or downhill - but so many people that I can't believe that runners are able to get their PB (personal best), unless they manage to elbow their way to the front of the crowd. I was running with a buddy, but lost her shortly after the 4k watering station because we got separated in the throng. It was very much like Titanic, but without all the drama or the Celine Dion music. So kind of not like it at all.

Overall, I was very pleased with my pace. I think I managed to keep it steady the whole way through. I always take walk breaks in my runs to drink some water (or because I'm lazy, take your pick) and I didn't in the race. It may have been because I was afraid to be run over. You know the Running of the Bulls? Picture that, but with Canadian runners sporting MP3 Players. And no bulls. Same, but different. I was thirsty by the end, though. I usually wear my fuel belt, but I thought I would somehow be faster if I got rid of any unnecessary weight. Ha, ha.

I ran out of juice by the last kilometre. Usually, that's when I put on the speed, choose my target runners, and start picking them off one by one. I was happy just to finish by that point. Proof that training for a race is a good idea. Results? VoilĂ :

Time: 51 minutes, 29.8 seconds
Pace: 5:09 per KM
Category Place (F 35 - 39...sigh I'm old): 133/904
Gender Place: 858/5886

Not terrible for someone who hasn't trained, and is uncertain that she has actually run 10K all at one time in the past 4.5 years. And it's got me jazzed to do more races, this time with actual preparation.

Hands down the best thing about this race? The fact that all my boys were there to cheer me on at the finish line. It doesn't get better than that. Good times.