Why Yes, Our New Prime Minister IS Sexy, But That’s Not Why We’re Excited About Him.


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trudeauSo, in case you live outside of Canada and don’t have Canadians on your Facebook, we just elected our version of JFK Junior to lead our country.

We’re really happy.

The funny thing is, even people who didn’t vote for him are happy. Like me (of course, no one in Canada directly votes for a certain prime minister, but I have already I ranted about Canada’s broken electoral system and our split-left years ago during our last election).

Why am I so thrilled even though I don’t vote liberal? Let me explain…

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In Which I Unravel The Secret of Meditative Tasks


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So, colouring books for grownups. That’s a thing, now.

It happened so suddenly. One night, my mother in law told me about an article she had just read about how colouring can help depression and anxiety, and how they were making special books designed to soothe one or the other. The next day – the VERY NEXT DAY – I went to our local drug store and BAM, those same books were there.

The next time I went into Chapters I saw even more, with even fancier, more intricate designs.

I was intrigued.

You see all of those pictures and they seem to just beg to be coloured. They are beautiful, and all they are missing is your own artistic touch.

(As a random piece of trivia, I won a colouring contest when I was a kid and it netted me a $100 gift certificate to Toys R Us. Unfortunately, I let my mother talk me into giving HER the gift certificate to use as needed for gifts for friends’ parties. My mother gave me a verbal IOU of $100 which I was hypothetically supposed to be able to cash in on an as-needed basis. Eventually, after much wheedling, I managed to convince her to part with $40 of it for a stuffed porcupine puppet. Then we moved to Curacao where there was no Toys R Us so I called it a loss.)

I tried colouring along with Owl in one of his books one day, too, and it was pretty fun, even if I did feel like I was showing up my five year old.

Then reports started pouring in from friends. One with anxiety says she really enjoys it. She finds it helps give her focus, takes her mind off of her anxieties, and refreshes her a bit. Another friend has actually set up a standing date with one of her other friends to colour together. They love it.

It seems like there’s good science behind the fad, too. Colouring seems to inhabit the perfect space between “too challenging” and “not challenging enough” to create a near-meditation state. You can focus on the task while letting your mind wander. Instead of thinking about your breathing or something, you think about your picture.

Heavens knows I need something to help me get into a meditative state because I’m not doing too great lately.

So I have been seriously thinking about colouring, but there was something that was holding me back, and it has nothing to do with Toys R Us gift cards.

The honest fact is that I’m not very interested in colouring. I mean, it sounds fun, and it looks fun, and I think I would like it if I were on vacation and just wanting something to do. But I’m not on vacation, and I have a long list of recreational activities that I would rather do when Owl is either in school or asleep and Fritter is sleeping.

Writing is pretty high on that list, as is reading and binge-watching The Walking Dead alone or watching QI with Perfect Husband (by the way, if you enjoy intellectual British humor, rare trivia, and Stephen Fry, but you haven’t heard of this show HIE THEE TO YOUTUBE THIS INSTANT).

When I have some semblence of mental energy, I write. When I don’t, I collapse in front of Netflix or I read. Colouring would be ignored in both instances. I certainly wouldn’t want colouring to take up potential writing time. My writing, no matter what it is, feels productive. Colouring wouldn’t. Like Netflix, it would be purely recreational.

So I put it on the backburner.

Then, last week, I was visiting my friend the Farm Fairy at her knitting store, and she was pushing me, yet again, to try knitting.

She is always trying to get me to knit, and I always say no. I’m not good with my hands. My fingers aren’t nimble. Maybe it’s because I spent my childhood galloping around on four legs pretending to be a horse instead of dressing dolls. Maybe it’s my poor spatial skills. Maybe it is because I am left handed and my mother is right handed and when she tried to teach me knitting left handed she got all confused and gave up.

“The thing is,” said the Farm Fairy, as her puppy licked my baby’s face and Fritter chortled and pulled on the puppy’s fur, “I took a break from knitting to prepare for this big trade show, and when I was able to start again I realized how much I missed it. It’s sort of meditative, because it’s repetitive and you need to pay attention a little, but it’s also the sort of thing you can do while watching TV or chatting with your friends. It’s something for your hands to do, and I realized that I worry about things a lot more when I don’t knit.”




After all, the colouring books aren’t a unique way of de-stressing. Psychologists have observed the same effect from other repetitive, only-slightly-challenging activities, like playing Tetris. They all lead to “flow”.

In fact, I bet that was why everyone got obsessed with Flappy Bird.

PH likes to clear-cut things in Minecraft. Talk about repetitive tasks. I don’t know why, but he will spend hours in Minecraft simply demolishing huge mountains. But more on that in another post.

Anyway, my point is that knitting is just as good an activity as colouring. It is repetitive, mindless, but also requires a certain level of focus.

“Think about it,” said the Farm Fairy. “What happens to dogs when they don’t have enough to do?”

“They bark, destroy things…” I said.

“Spin in circles, chase their tails, suck their flanks… they develop stereotypies, right? Destructive ones. People aren’t so different. They need something to occupy them, something repetitive to do just to keep their hands busy.”

She makes an excellent point.

Plus then instead of just instagramming my colouring pages, I can actually have THINGS that I could MAKE for people.

And the nice thing about being able to make people gifts is that they have to cherish them no matter how crappy they are because I MADE IT FOR YOU.

Besides, the world is full of nerdy knitting projects that I would love to be able to recreate. If I could do that while watching The Walking Dead I would actually be improving my productivity!


What about the fact that I’m spatially impaired with poor manual dexterity?

Yeah, there is that. Well, you don’t know until you try, right? And the Farm Fairy is a good teacher.

So I had my first lesson last week, and it IS fiddly and difficult for me, but I spent all this week knitting while listening to QI. I feel like I’m able to focus more on the dialogue while I knit. My mind doesn’t wander as much. There’s no room for mind wandering. The knitting and the conversation eat up all the brain power I have.

Plus in the end, I would get a square, blue dishrag. So my evening productivity was already going up.

I finished off my first knitting project, the dishrag, today. Here it is:


I don’t know about you, but I think it’s beautiful.

Thankful Enough. I Think.


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It’s Canadian thanksgiving, so we cooked a turkey and were all thankful and stuff.

I’m thankful for a lot.

In fact, I think thankfulness has replaced other positive emotions, like joy or pleasure, in my life.

I’m thankful that my husband is still alive. I’m thankful for the fact that most days, lately, he has been able to help significantly around the house, cooking dinner and or doing laundry and such. Once or twice lately he has even extended signs of affection to me and I get extra thankful about things like that.

I’m thankful that my baby is alive and healthy and that I have bonded strongly with her. I’m thankful for her chubby little cheeks and her goofy chortle when I snorgle her. I’m thankful that my son is so bright and curious and so loving to his sister.

I’m thankful for my immense support network, for all the friends who helped me when things were in crisis, and that so many of my friends have kids Owl’s age.

I’m thankful that Owl loves school.

I’m thankful for the mountains and the incredible views that I get to enjoy every day taking Owl to school and back.

I’m so thankful for everything that I’m just bleeding out with it.

That’s right. I’m ungrateful about gratitude.

It’s odd. I’m not depressed. But I’m somehow… jaded. I feel like my sense of humor has deteriorated. I always used to be looking for the funny side of things.

Somehow I have lost that. You notice that I’m posting less? It’s because I have fewer funny stories. It can’t be that less funny stuff is happening. I’m just not seeing the humor.

When Owl tries to dick around with his general five year old silliness, I’m more likely to shut him down than join in. When I try to make jokes it feels forced and stupid. I’m like a cranky old lady.

I don’t like it.

But I don’t know where my sense of humor has gone. I want to see the funny side of things again.

I think PH has noticed. He keeps telling me bad jokes. “What does a pirate octogenarian say?” “I’m eighty.”

But in the meantime, there is turkey. I love turkey dinner, it’s my favourite thing, and when I smell the good turkey dinner smells and listen to the sounds of music from our ipod playing in the kitchen, football whistles from the living room, and cuddle my snuggly six month old, and enjoy the peace that comes from Owl being invited out by a friend on a playdate, I feel content and very grateful.

So why do I still feel like there’s something wrong?



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Owl turned five last Tuesday. It was also his first day of school.

 Sounds like a big day, doesn’t it?

Except that his first day of school was barely 30 minutes long, and he had both of his parents in the room the whole time because apparently these days kids are eased into kindergarten at pace that can only be called geological.

His “first day of school” involved going to school, entering a classroom that wouldn’t even be HIS classroom, meeting a teacher that wouldn’t even be HIS teacher,  and listening to a story while Perfect Husband and I found his name on a list and signed up for a time for his “meet and greet” with his teacher the next day – a 15 minute time slot which would constitute his ONLY time at school for the next TWO DAYS.

I spent the rest of the day spoiling Owl heavily. It was basically a “yes” day. Anything he wanted to do, we did.

That included a long walk, a game of SET Junior, a game of pretend-restaurant, and baking cupcakes while babywearing.

It was exhausting. But he had a good day.

His birthday party was Sunday.

Last year’s party had been simple and had worked well, so we planned to duplicate it. I emailed the lady in charge of our complex’s party room bookings and reserved the room. The morning of his party I went to pick up the keys from her mailbox, but they weren’t there. I rang her doorbell and she looked surprised to see me.

“I thought I put them in the mailbox,” she said as her three year old peered out from behind her.

“Nothing in there,” I said. She reached behind the door and produced the keys.

“Sorry about that,” she said, handing them over. I thanked her and headed over to the room so we could start setting up.

But the party room was already set up. Beautifully. There were pink table clothes laid out on the tables, chairs neatly set in front of paper plate table settings, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign on the wall, and quotes from the Mad Hatter’s tea party scattered around, written on paper tea pots.


“Why is that stuff there?” asked Owl.

“I… don’t know…” I said. After a quick consultation with PH, I decided to go back to the key-lady.

“Hi,” I said to her when she opened the door again. “This sounds weird, but do you know why the room is already set up for a little girl’s birthday?”

The lady covered her mouth. “Oh my God…” she pulled out her phone and started scrolling frantically. “Oh my GOD…. I double booked it… I told you it was available Sunday but I meant to say Saturday… Oh MY GOD…”

She picked up her phone and called the other set of people. “What time is your event?”

At the same time as ours, it turned out.

I said we could have the party outside and that their kids were welcome to come out and join us.

By the time all of this was worked out, there wasn’t much time for setting up decorations outside. Our earliest arriving guests ended up hanging balloons for us.

 But with all of that, the kids had fun. They bounced in the bouncy castle, they chased each other on the playground, and after the cake, we went in to the pool and I let them all swarm me in a slightly-frightening, Lord of the Flies kind of way.

So now I present to you – my five year old.

He is rambunctious, but kind.

He loves his baby sister.

He loves to learn new things, and while he likes for me to read Roald Dahl or Mrs Piggle Wiggle to him, or to listen to my made-up stories about Rude Ronnie, Fraidy Freddie and other kids with behaviour problems, I can already see a preference growing for non-fiction books.

He likes to have the facts straight. “But actually,” is a common phrase as he corrects the tiniest of semantic details.

He loves to watch his father and I play video games like Spore, Minecraft and Super Mario Galaxy.

He’s a gamer who loves board games and picks up new games with ease.

He loves connect the dots, mazes, and other sorts of puzzles.

He loves other people, and doesn’t always understand how to react when they don’t embrace his company with the same enthusiasm.

He doesn’t understand “wanting to be alone for a while”.

He loves to swim, and is slowly improving through repeated lessons.

He has trouble sitting still, and treats all objects including other people like pieces of climbing equipment.

He is brimming with confidence. “But actually, Mom, I’m already a pretty good reader. But actually, Mom, I can probably do a rocket-ship under the water for FIVE SECONDS.”

I hope he keeps his confidence, and his kindness. I hope the keeps loving science but doesn’t lose his enjoyment of a good imaginary story.

I hope I can enjoy him for who he is without pushing him too hard to be someone he is not.

I hope I can help him be the best Owl he can be.

I hope that I’m doing an okay job.

I hope that it’s going to get even better.

Because my baby is gone. He has transformed into a school age kid, and I can’t believe it.

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Farewell to Four, or, F*** You, FOUR.


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I need to tell you something, and it’s hard to admit.

As a disclaimer, I want you to know that I love being a parent IN GENERAL. I loved Owl’s babyhood, I enjoyed his toddlerhood, and until recently I never once regretted his growth and change into a bigger and ever-more-complex-and-complete person.

Note the “until recently” part.

I have not enjoyed age Four.

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The Wilds of Babywearing – An Introduction To The Amusing Intricacies of Babywearing Culture


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Now that I have a baby again, I am have re-immersed myself in the babywearing world, from which I have been absent for approximately 3-4 years.


Or, I should say, the culture around it has grown and become more intricate, complex, and occasionally bizarre. I’m fascinated, delighted, and amused by it.

I would like to take you into the wilds of babywearing because it is a whole microculture that is entirely ignored by the rest of the world, including Wikipedia (to my surprise). So, for those of you who have never heard of babywearing, or are curious but have not yet ventured into it, here is…

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I’m an only child, and my parents rarely fought.

That means that I am completely alien to any kind of family discord. A sharp word is devastating. A disagreement is the end of the world. I have never had to fight for what I wanted with an equal. The only people at home were my parents and they outranked me so if I asked for something and the answer was no, well, that was the end of the matter.

It may have led to a peaceful childhood, but I’m not sure it did me any favours.

So I always knew that I wanted two kids, and Owl’s personality confirmed that before he turned two.

But I am dreading sibling rivalry.

PH is the youngest of 5 kids, so he probably won’t be horrified when the kids fight and hit each other and claim to hate each other, but I will. Such things simply NEVER HAPPENED IN MY HOUSE when I was growing up. They are not normal to me.

We did a lot to prepare Owl for the baby. We explained how babies were made when he asked, although we refused to give him a live demonstration despite his repeated and eager petitions to witness one. Instead we got him a book.

We explained carefully what babies are like. The baby won’t be able to play with you. It will cry and dirty its diaper and that’s about it. Murmel Murmel, by the way, is a great book for explaining what babies do and what they are for.


We explained the importance of being a big brother. One of my friends didn’t want to make her son into a second parent and placed a lot of weight on him NOT having to help, but we decided to go another way and tell him how important it was for him to help us and help her. He likes to help.

He was very pleased with the idea of having a baby sister and showed no signs of anxiety before she came, but I was still worried about how he would deal with the change. I braced myself for acting out, jealousy, all sorts of stuff.


Guys, he LOVES her.

In fact, his behavior has actually IMPROVED since she was born. He loves to hug her (unfortunately he grabs her head and squeezes so she doesn’t really appreciate his hugs) and coo over her and he will drop whatever he is doing rather than miss a chance to come upstairs with me and hand me a clean diaper when I change her.

He even tries to play with her. One of his favourite games is to  pretend that one of her flailing fists has hit him. He then throws himself down on the bed as if she has just sent him flying.

It’s adorable.

Better yet, in the last month or so she has started noticing him and she loves him right back. When he is in the room she watches him and smiles, and sometimes she’ll just stare at him and chortle, and then he chortles back, and it is SO CUTE.

I know that she’s going to get bigger and start knocking over his block towers and messing up his stuff and she’s going to start pestering him and their dynamic will change.

But for now, they love each other and I am SO, SO, SO RELIEVED.


On Our Own

So, our inlaws flew home at the end of July, and we’ve been hacking it on our own for the first time since January.

That’s right. We haven’t had to be proper, full fledged adults in EIGHT MONTHS.

I’ve forgotten how I did it all – how did I get dishes washed and Owl’s face wiped and keep him entertained ALL ON MY OWN?

Luckily, PH’s mood is more stable these days. He’s still struggling, but he’s further from the edge. He has a bit of energy – enough to get Owl his breakfast in the morning and help him into bed at night, and sometimes help out during the day either with laundry/tidying/dishes or simply taking our extrovert out of the house. Of course, he still thinks that he isn’t doing enough but compared to what he was able to do eight months ago, I consider this level of help freaking miraculous.

Besides, we’ve organized a bit of help for ourselves.

Last week we put Owl in a preparing for kindergarten camp which took him from 9 am until 3 pm every day, which was fantastic.

This week we could only find a gymnastics camp from 1-3 pm, so that’s where he is.

It’s wearing us out, but we’re managing.

PH deals with Owl in the morning and lets me sleep until Fritter wakes up between 8 and 9 am. Then I get up, shower, dress, have a diet pepsi, put Fritter in a carrier and her and Owl out on a looooong dog walk with Beloved Dog. Sometimes Fritter falls asleep on the long walk and so when we get home I can do some dishes and clean a bit while she snoozes.

The biggest problem is not the baby, although she complicates things and fills my arms for the majority of the day. It’s TALKING TO OWL. He wants to talk all the time. He wants to move all the time. If I take him out of the house it’s not so bad, but in the house he wants to be bouncing or swinging or climbing within my personal space while saying “Mom? Volcanoes esplode lava, right mom? Lava is hot rocks. Mom? The rocks are hot. Right Mom? Hot rocks make lava. The lava is so hot. Mom? What if lava esploded IN YOUR HEAD?”
It’s exhausting to introverts like PH and me.

So we take him out places. 

On really good days, I can arrange to meet a friend for a playdate, and then I can stand around and cuddle my baby and watch Owl playing with his friend and it’s adorable and I feel happy.

On days like that, I have time to reflect on how lucky I am. I’m lucky that so many of my friends have boys about Owl’s age. I’m lucky that I live in such a beautiful place. I’m lucky that Vancouver hardly ever has rain in the summer and so I can take Owl outside because otherwise I don’t know what I would do.

I was lucky to have so much help for so long.

And I’m lucky to still have a husband who can take Owl for a couple of hours in the morning, and help him brush his teeth at night, and sometimes even clean the house while I’m out on a playdate.

We have each other.

So really, we’re not on our own at all.

In Which I Feel Both Geeky And Fabulous

It all started with this Mugglenet article. 

It was full of photos of amazing Harry Potter related babywearing wraps and I fell in love.

As you may remember, I wore a colicky Owl as a babby frequently. He hated the car and screamed, so he rarely slept in his car seat. He was much happier in a carrier, so I wore him in a hand-me-down Sleepy Wrap until he got too heavy for it, and then transferred him to an Ergo.

I loved wearing Owl and joked that my carrier was “baby bluetooth – hands free”. I even wondered why people bothered with strollers for tiny babies, because I found them bulky and annoying compared to the lightweight, hands free freedom of a carrier.

But I never felt PRETTY.

Whether I was wrapped in yards of grey cloth, or wearing Owl in what is basically a front backpack, my carriers were utilitarian.

I occasionally mooned over a stock photo of a woman in a classy ring sling, but I couldn’t justify spending extra money.

My mother made me a faux rebozo, which was not as useful as the Ergo but much prettier, so I used that occasionally.

But now my eyes were opened to a whole world of nerdy babywearing and I WANTED TO BE THAT COOL.

Unfortunately, so do a lot of people, and these quality woven wraps are pretty niche and hard to come by. Used ones actually cost MORE than retail because the wraps are broken in and often limited edition. We’re talking HUNDREDS of dollars.

I shared a photo of some beautiful woven fabric, a Natibaby “Indivisibility Cloak” (get it, because you wear your baby and you two become INDIVISABLE) and bemoaned the fact that they are so expensive.

Then I got a facebook message from my cousin.

I love my cousins. As an only child, they became my surrogate brothers, and I miss them a lot. I keep trying to cajole them out here. The older one is single with a good job as a computer programmer. He was offering to buy me the wrap.


I asked him for a ring sling, since I don’t have one, and they look so pretty. A wrap would be more versatile, but ring slings are easier for in-and-out sorts of trips, and I already had an Ergo for long treks.

It arrived the week before a friend of mine got married and I worked frantically to break in the fabric in time.

It’s purple. I also happen to have a purple dress. The purples totally match. I went to that wedding feeling SO coordinated and geeky and over all fabulous. I can’t remember when I have worn an outfit that made me feel so together.

This must be what it feels like to be one of those fancy, with-it people who wear coordinated outfits all the time. It is amazing. I highly recommend it.



Neighbourhood Friends


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I met up with an old friend the other day.  She lives in Ontario, but her father and step mother live on Vancouver Island, so she and I got together for lunch while she was passing through Vancouver on her way to the ferry.

“I’m trying to remember when we met,” she said.

I couldn’t remember either. I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t in my life.

We lived down the road from each other, on different streets but only a two minute walk away, when I was a young girl in Ontario. I’m pretty sure I was playing in her bedroom and she was swimming in my pool when we were three and four years old.

I remember the names of her Siamese cats and I remember the crisp, British voice of her live-in grandmother. I remember playing in her back yard and sharing popsicles on my back deck.

We haven’t lived in the same city, or even the same province, since we were nine years old.

We aren’t particularly close nowadays. We don’t call each other for a chat and we don’t know the intimate details of each other’s personal lives. But we send Christmas cards, and get together whenever we find ourselves in the same city. She visted me in Nova Scotia when we were teenagers, and again when we were in University. She came to my wedding.

She’s my friend, one of only two people from that time in my life with whom I am still in touch.

I had other neighbourhood friends. The boy next door, Joey, into whose house I often burst without knocking. Colleen, who was my bike riding buddy. I have lost touch with them, but they fill my childhood memories of hot summer days, trick or treating at Halloween, and building snowmen in winter.

It’s funny how you make your own community when you live in a big city. A small city block becomes its own small town. These neighbourhood friends were not my only friends, but they were special because they were also my community.

Now Owl is getting old enough to be able to run and play outside without my direct supervision. Our housing complex is made of clusters of townhouses, doors facing each other, with green quads in between. They make perfect meeting places where children can play and neighbours can talk.

We are lucky to have several fantastic neighbours, and even luckier that the family directly across the quad from us has two small boys right around Owl’s age. One of them is 5 months older, and the other is less than a year younger.

Not only can we swap babysitting, but our boys are starting to realize that they have ready-made playmates living just steps away.

“Owl! You’re my friend, Owl!” is a constant refrain whenever Owl is outside and the neighbour boys spot him through the window, and if Owl hears their voices outside he drops what he is doing, tugs on his shoes and runs outside to greet them.

Sometimes they play tag outside. Sometimes they crash into our house and sometimes they barge into the other house. They fight and make up, run and shout. Screen doors bang and small childish voices fill the air, and I am just so, so, grateful.

I’m grateful that these boys provide distraction for Owl, whose constant need to interact sucks me and even my doting mother in law dry by the end of the day. Heck, by the middle of the day. Okay, by mid morning.

I’m grateful that they are good kids from a loving family, and they don’t fill Owl’s head with corporate characters or guns or gender stereotypes.  If anything, they run around in Ramones tee shirts and have little familiarity with many of the things Owl brings home from the kids in his daycare.

I’m grateful because there is something inexplicably peaceful about sitting on one’s stoop at eight in the morning, sipping a Diet Pepsi (normal people can replace that with the word “coffee”), nursing my baby and listening to the joyful shouts of small children.


But most of all, I’m grateful that Owl has neighbourhood friends. Maybe they’ll still be in touch 30 years from now. Maybe they won’t be close. Maybe they won’t even live in the same provinces.

But I like to hope that if one of them is in town, Owl will meet them for a lunch and a drink, and they can sit back, and talk about old times.

Maybe Owl will say, “hey, remember my bouncy castle?”

Maybe they’ll say, “hey, remember going out on our Dad’s boat?”

owl on boat

Maybe they’ll ask each other “when did we meet?” and then realize that they have known each other since birth, that their parents witnessed each other’s pregnancies, and that they are part of each other’s life stories.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the peace.


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