Long Weekend Hangover

For those of you not located in Canada, you may not know that we just celebrated Victoria Day. Being the good former colony that we are, Victoria Day is a celebration of our former Monarch’s birthday which has now devolved into an excuse to shoot off fireworks, have a BBQ, drink beer, and generally kick off the summer season – despite the fact that we often have to attend said fireworks still wearing our parkas and mittens.

In our house, it’s also usually Monkey’s birthday weekend. He turned 9 this year and we spent the weekend surrounded by his friends and our family, too much food, and some awesome cake.

It’s the kind of weekend that I both love and dread. Having a house full of 8-9 year old boys for most of Saturday afternoon was loud, to say the least, and it always grates on my poor introverted, quiet-loving nerves. But, Monkey’s friends are just so damned cute. Everybody got along and at one point there was a herd of boys running up and down my street dressed in variations of every former Halloween costume that I keep in our Tickle Trunk (any Canadian over the age of 35 will get that reference). We had an Indiana Jones pirate, a Jedi Captain America and some other creative choices that defy description. They’re at such a great age where they don’t care what anybody thinks and it’s all about having fun and seeing how many chips they can stuff in themselves in a 3 hour period.

Muppet outdid himself once again with an amazing Plants vs. Zombies themed cake and actually got some of the kids to sit still long enough to do a Zen Garden themed craft to take home. For my part, I kept them fed and alive and only suffered a little bit of guilt over the amount of sugar they all ingested before I sent them home to their parents.

Saturday night Monkey had one of his friends sleep over and despite my best efforts, they were still laughing and giggling and farting in his room until almost 11pm. What I didn’t expect was for them to be up at 5:30am raring to go. Being the good parents we are, we sent them to the basement to play video games so that we could get some more sleep before the descent of virtually every family member on our house Sunday afternoon. We figured that we needed to be well rested in order to deal with Monkey’s inevitable meltdown that was going to come at some point that day from lack of sleep and too much excitement.

The family started arriving around 2pm and it was the usual chaotic hubbub. My favourite part is always being able to sit with my mum while she knits and we catch up on life. After her cancer diagnosis last year, and given her limited mobility caused by arthritis, I am realizing that these moments are going to be gone some day, so I’ve learned to just sit quietly in the chaos and spend time with her.

The BBQ burgers were great and there were more cupcakes. Muppet’s parents set a new personal record by being 4 1/2 hours late to the party, which is a whole other topic for another time. The expected meltdown came when poor Monkey got shot in the forehead by a Nerf dart which led to hysterics of epic proportions but thankfully there was the promise of presents to soothe his (and our) frazzled nerves. The sniper was eventually identified as my 12 year old nephew, and I was just grateful that Monkey wasn’t taken down by his own brother. Cousins can be forgiven, brothers… not so much.

Everybody evacuated by about 9pm and I beat a hasty retreat to my friends house for some backyard drinks to celebrate yet another, more grown-up birthday. We tried valiantly to ignore the fact that the temperature was dropping rapidly and finally gave up at 1am when we realized that there was frost forming on the ground.

Monday is always a day to clean up the carnage of the weekend around here. The promise of fireworks in the evening is always my favourite part. Our neighbourhood association puts on an amazing show every year and I always get such a warm, fuzzy feeling when I see everybody gathering, buying bags of popcorn from the concession, catching up with friends, kids running around and dancing with sparklers. It’s such a precious sense of community in such a big city.

Now it’s Tuesday and the kids are off to school. I’m still in my pyjamas, nursing my second cup of coffee and feeling perfectly content. The weekend was chaotic and loud and stressful at times, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way.








How Vi Got Her Groove Back

Well, hello there. What a strange feeling to be staring at a blank page for the first time in a couple of months. Turns out this winter really did a number on me. No, I wasn’t really sick per se. I wasn’t snowed in either. I was just really, really down. And, the thing is, I didn’t even really realize it until we took a much-needed family vacation and suddenly I was feeling so much more like myself. I didn’t even realize I had lost my groove until I started to feel it coming back. That’ll teach me to keep taking my vitamin D all winter long and not put off going to the gym, won’t it?

Here is right about when my groove started coming back…

Mexico 039

When we got back, I couldn’t believe how energized I felt. Once I got over the sheer exhaustion of all the travelling and the quite astounding tummy bug that I picked up, I was suddenly feeling like doing things again. I wanted to spend a day in the kitchen cooking. I wanted to go to the gym. I wanted to get back to my dance class.  Was it the Vitamin D? The adventures? The time away from our normal routine? I’m still not sure but I have to say that I am very happy that something seemed to snap me back to reality.

It’s going to be a fantastic spring.

Ninja Bread and Gangham Overload (Or How I Spent My Christmas Vacation)

How on earth did we get this far into January already? Seriously. Happy New Year to all of you. Did you all get through the holidays with your sanity intact? I came out of it all relatively unscathed and with only a minor nervous twitch, so I consider that a success!

This was the first Christmas holiday in about 15 years that I have actually had to work not only on Christmas eve, but also on the days in between AND New Years eve day to boot, which was interesting to day the least. Even I was pretty proud of my powers of organization and concentration, although Muppet did have his moments of doubt (which he will now probably deny). I secretly think that he’s been spoiled by me having the time to plan ahead and shop during the day all these years, so he was in a bit of a panic that our shopping wasn’t all done by Dec. 1!!

Highlights of tNinja Bread!he season included some awesome cookie cutters that were a surprise gift from a dear friend. Ninja Bread!! These went to Mini Me’s Grade 5 Holiday Party and they were a big hit. I also sent some gingerbread cut out with the Star Wars cutters that Muppet got a while back and which we had never used until now. Let’s see how many of you pick up on what one particular cookie resembles (and how dirty your minds are!)046

I had suggested that perhaps some icing may improve the situation but Muppet, who is the icing master says that it would probably just have made matters worse. Anyhoo…         The real bummer this year was the lack of winter concert at the kids’ school. With the Ontario teachers job action, that meant no extra curriculars and so our two choirs were part of the fall-out. We have a junior and primary choir and they are both just fantastic. The primary one is compulsory for kids in grade 2 and 3, although the kids don’t have to perform, but the junior choir of grades 4-6 is voluntary. The kids all love their music teacher so much that most of them, including my non-joining little wallflower Mini Me still participate straight through to grade 6. It was sad not to see them all dressed in their little matching red sweater vests this year, singing their hearts out. What they did instead was hold a holiday assembly which has somehow made my little Monkey a school celebrity. Don’t ask me how or why because I still don’t know, but my kiddo was picked with 2 other boys to dance Gangham Style in front of the whole school. He had kind of mentioned this ahead of time, but since I couldn’t get a straight answer out of him and he didn’t seem to know any of the details himself, I just shrugged it off, thinking he was confusing the assembly for his class party. That’s what I get for questioning him after school while he’s watching SpongeBob. The morning of the assembly, Monkey informed us that he had to wear a Gangham Style outfit and we needed to help him find one – pronto! Here is what we came up with on 5 minutes notice…I thought we did a pretty good job: His dad’s vest, and some 3d sunglasses from the movie theatre seemed to meet his approval. Phew.022

Unfortunately, now that we realized something seemed to be going on for real, we both had to work so Mini Me agreed to take his Ipod and film the performance for us!  And yes, there was my kid, in front of about 400 of his peers and teachers, with not an ounce of nervousness, dancing Gangham Style for all to see. The 3 boys were doing the real choreography, working that song for all they were worth, and the crowd was loving it. When they came off-stage, they were mobbed by fans, giving them high fives and pats on the back. It was pretty amazing if I do say so myself.
And as for Monkey, he no longer has aspirations to be a rock star policeman. He is just going to be a rock star because being a police officer is hard work and being a rock star is easy. The scary thing is that for this kid of mine – it may just be true!!!
Oh, and because I am a great mom, I got him an upgrade to the Gangham Style outfit that actually fits him. We have been treated to many performances since that school assembly. I think Psy should be giving my kid a cut!
Gangham 2.0

Gangham 2.0

Why I Love My Inner Bitch

It was quite the week last week. The tree is up and gingerbread are baked but I’m finding my Christmas spirit to be a bit elusive. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the horrible tragedy last week in Connecticut, which I won’t even speak about because it makes me tear up every time. Another huge part of it has to do with my 14-year-old niece being stuck in the hospital with stabbing abdominal pains that they can’t seem to diagnose after 7 days. It is frustrating and worrying and she is handling it all like a trooper but her poor mum, my only sister, is slowly being worn down to the point of exhaustion. And there’s nothing I can do.

I know this all sounds terribly depressing and I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer but I am finding that having my nerves frayed and this constant low-level of worry eating at me has been quite the eye-opening learning experience. I think I am finally falling in love with my inner bitch.

Don’t get me wrong. She has always been there. She makes an appearance every once in a while, but usually when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine with my girlfriends and we get started on our men, or our kids, or life as a woman in general. She is pretty much bound to show up once a month and my poor Muppet is well acquainted with her.

And here’s the thing; I love women who let their inner bitch out once in a while. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about the kind of woman who looks you up and down, gives you a withering look, and walks away or who insults perfect strangers based on superficialities. That is juvenile and unnecessarily hurtful. What I love is when a woman can finally let loose and actually voice those things that she is unhappy with in her life; the things that drive her crazy, or make her dissatisfied. I love it when my otherwise cheerful girlfriends will let loose with a few choice expletives while pondering why their dear spouse can’t seem to get his dirty undies into the hamper.

Let’s face it; we women are taught to be nice. I know that I have a huge problem saying ‘no’ or rocking the boat. I was always the shy one who was well-behaved and easy-going as a child. And I was complimented on those traits A LOT. Sound familiar? We were encouraged to be nurturing, to play quietly, to keep our dresses clean and our hair tidy. I don’t think I even realized until the last few years how much of that I had carried on into my adult life.

I realize now that all this time I had this other side of me that was aching for more than just a brief walk-on role in my life. As I grow older I realize that my bitch – that part of me that stands up for herself, and doesn’t suffer fools, and gets fed up and frustrated – is a real and important part of my personality and I am growing less and less afraid to let her out.

I look back at some of the times that she was trying to make herself known and I repressed her: The time that I was forced to work until almost 10pm one night because my boss didn’t get his own work done on time and I made a comment to that effect (in a joking tone) which got me a stern look and a warning. The time that I was told I was ‘too blunt’ when I gave my opinion in a meeting. I was right in both cases, but I forgot to be nice and unassuming, to remember my place and not rock the boat.

Maybe loving my inner bitch comes with being in my forties now. I have obligations and responsibilities and I don’t have the time to mess around with poor customer service or whiny people or incompetent bosses. I want my life to be happy, and to run as smoothly as it can, and I am not going to put up with anything that stands in my way.

I actually think my bitch was always there to make sure I did what was best for myself, but the rest of me just wasn’t ready yet to put myself first. She shows up when things are at their toughest and says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. She is the one who gets me to say ‘no’ when I really am stretched to thin. She is the one who gets me to cancel plans that I am actually too exhausted or sick to enjoy. She is the one who lets me speak my mind at my current job because I have important things to say and should be heard.

I am almost grateful that the last couple of weeks have been so stressful. Unleashing my inner bitch has actually allowed me to prioritize and to see what is really important. She has given me permission to say ‘no’ to everything except those things that matter most; my kids, my guy, getting ready to make this a great holiday, and helping out my sister and niece in any way they will let me. In many ways, its like I have found a new best friend!




Happy Halloween from the Geekiest House on the Block

I feel like I should have some guilt over my complete lack of involvement in Halloween prep this year but you know what? I don’t. I have decided that Halloween is going to be one of those things that is Muppet’s territory, kind of like decorating birthday cakes and cleaning up cat barf. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Halloween. I buy the treats to hand out and help put up the decorations (although this year they did it without me while I was at Blissdom. Yay!). I make sure that there is a hot, filling dinner ready for them before they head out that night. Those are all things I am happy to do. They are in my wheelhouse, if you will. Cooking, shopping, organizing. Yup. Done.

But my dear, devoted partner has gotten himself into quite a pickle this year because the kids now see him as ‘The Dad Who Can Do Anything.’ It started years ago with the birthday cakes. I would bake and make mounds of icing, then go to bed and Muppet would take over. Here are some examples of what I would wake up to in the morning.

See what I mean? He’s been delivering cakes like this since they were old enough to make demands for characters on their cakes, which in Mini Me’s case is 9 years now. But you see, the cakes then set him up to deliver pumpkins in a similar vein. Behold…

So it can hardly be a surprise that now they are assuming daddy can make any kind of costume they set their minds to as well. Problem is, poor Muppet can’t really sew. It was all fine and dandy when he was trawling the dollar stores and using super glue to make a proton pack for Monkey’s Ghostbuster costume, or when he was looking for a bow and arrow for Mini Me’s Ranger (from the Ranger’s Apprentice books he is obsessed with – basically it looks like Robin Hood) but this weekend he had to sit down for some serious time at the sewing machine and the atmostphere in the house was a bit tense, to say the least.

But, the costumes are done and they look awesome. Which takes us back to why I am bowing out of this Halloween business. I just can’t take the pressure, man. I don’t sew (although I would like to learn), I’m not crafty (and have no desire to learn) and I don’t need the stress of pinning and glueing at 1am to get the freakin’ thing done. I don’t function when sleep deprived.

In the end, I think it’s fair that I should have a holiday where I do very little to prepare, and then get to sit around and drink wine with my friends on the porch. Considering I feel like I’m still trying to wash the turkey smell out of my hair from cooking for 16 people at Thanksgiving, I think I deserve a mellow holiday where the only thing I have to think about is which piece of candy I am going to steal from the kids next. Don’t you agree?