Friday, December 31, 2004

To All my awesome friends and family members:

This pic looks fun but is so NOT what we are doing tonight! It will just be a homey NYE with Jay and I, get the kids to bed, make some yummy appetizers, open a bottle of good wine, maybe play Scene-It, which is our new fave game. Ahh, I am looking forward to it very much.

Hope everyone has a great night tonight, whatever you do, ring in the New Year with gratefulness and love.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004


(A pictorial bit of nonsense starring my three children)

"Okay, we are going to take a NICE picture guys. Sam make sure Lucy doesn't fall off the chair. Monty, stop picking your nose and eating it. REady?"

"Monty don't bite the chair, honey. Sam pull Lucy's fingers out of her mouth just for the picture, okay? Very nice! Here we go!"

"Try to keep her in the chair, Sammy. This won't take long."
"But mommy! She is trying to esCAPE! Ha! Don't let the camera get you, Lucy!"

"Guys, it's not that funny. C'mon. I just want a nice picture for the Christmas card. You guys look so great. Say cheese!"

"What the- Monty! Where are you going? Get back here. I am trying to take your picture. Sam, hold her up higher. Wait, her dress is riding up. Lemme fix it. There. Monty! Come down here!"
(Monty comes crashing down the stairs dragging the rocking horse.)
"Here I am! I got this horsey!"
"Great, honey. Now get in the picture, please."

"Monty, could you close your mouth and do a nice smile? You can sing later. Nice smiles everybody!"

"Where did Lucy go? Lucy, come back, honey! Sam, grab her. Monty stay there. We are almost done. Okay. Smile!"

"I don't WANT any picture! I don't want to smile!"
"Lucy, lady, okay, well, let's just take your picture from over here. Guys look at Lucy! Smile!"

Hmmm. I don't think you guys show up on that one. Let's- Hey, where are you going? Oh the window. Oh okay we can try the window."

"I have to go to the bathroom!"
"Then go, Sam."
"I need help with my new PANTS! The button is so STUPID!"
"Okay, here. Lucy? Where did she go?"
"She's lying under the tree."
"Oh. Well."
"Yes Monty?"
"Can you take my picture now?"
"Sure buddy."
"But I am not smiling anyways."
"Okay bud."

The END.

Friday, December 17, 2004

How I found out about Santa Claus

The year I turned eight we moved into a new house. I started grade three. I met Sandy, who would be my friend for life. I was teacher's pet. I read "Forever" by Judy Blume and had no idea what it was about. I mostly wore a beige Luke Skywalker t-shirt that my parents had gotten for me in Buffalo.

And all I wanted for Christmas that year was My Friend Mandy.

She was the most beautiful doll in the world. She had long blonde hair and pink and white skin. She had a pink dotted swiss dress and she had a straw hat with a pink brim. She had white underwear. She could stand on her own. I pored over her picture in my mom's magazines. Time stopped for me whenever the commercial for her and her other friends came on. I can't remember their names. It didn't matter. All I wanted was her.

So of course I made my case early, like in September. I announced to my world that she was to be mine for Christmas. I had daydreams of Mandy and I going out for walks, of brushing her gorgeous blond hair, (so different from my plain brown pixie cut from the Wave'n Save), of talking together and dancing together, and just being best friends.

My mom had a decorator table in the living room. It was one of those tall tables with a round top that you cover with a tablecloth that reaches to the ground. The tablecloth was a pumpkin orange color with a toile square of fabric over the top.

One day, in very early December, I was in the living room alone, examining things, which was a favorite thing of mine to do. I was a big examiner. I liked to take down all the knick knacks and turn them over in my hands. I liked to stare at the pictures on the wall, or trace my finger along the mantlepiece, touching the old books on the bookshelves that flanked the fireplace one by one, reading their strange titles. I passed the decorator table, examined the lamp on top of it, looked into my dad's coffee cup from the night before that was there, sniffed the coffee.

Then my foot hit something hard under the table.

Being a professional examiner you know when something new comes on the scene. I lifted up the tablecloth and oh!

There was a My Friend Mandy, in all her pink and white finery, standing happily in her cardboard box.

My heart leaped across the room and came back twice as big. I couldn't believe my eyes. "Mandy!" I shout-whispered. I knelt down in front of her and just took her in. She was every inch as wonderful as I knew she would be. As I reached for her I thought of how lucky I was, that I was going to get my wish for Christmas, that Santa-

Santa! What? Why did he leave her here? When did he come down from the North-

A price tag glared up at me.

Did- Who- My Mom. Shopping. Santa. My mom. Mandy.

Price Tag.

The deep part of my consciousness that had already grown up and knew there was no Santa Claus rang its bell. (The other thing about being an examiner means that you are usually a pretty good eavesdropper too.) The rest of me caught up with the grown up part as I held the box in my arms.

It was a bittersweet moment. There was no Santa, but looky here I had my doll.

Someone was coming. I popped the doll back under the table and pulled the tablecloth down with a swoosh!

Every day after that I visited Mandy. Of course, she was tethered to her box by the waist with a strong plastic tie, but I was up to the challenge of hugging her anyways. (Ah! Maybe here is where I learned to love my kids when they are being difficult!) I waited until the living room was empty (not a common occurence with three other siblings plus two parents) and went to the table. She was always thrilled to see me. We talked and hung out and I smoothed her hair and kissed her face and promised her that soon she would be free and could come live with me in my room.

Finally, Christmas Eve came. No sugarplums dancing in my head, but visions of Mandy in her straw hat waving at me and saying, "Soon our love will no longer be a secret!"

On Christmas morning I was casual. My trained eagle eyes found the box and I did not grab it but opened all the other presents first. You know, all the other presents that are not your big present. The book. The socks. The little trinkets. You smile and say, "Oh Thank You!" like the best most grateful kid in the world, because you are confident in the knowledge that you will be getting the big present.

I think it was Siobbhan who picked up the box and handed it to me. "This ones yours, Aim!"

"Oh!" I said, "For me?"

I carefully opened the paper. My mom was watching. The poor woman, in her orange and yellow flowered housecoat, who had probably worked afternoons the night before and then came home and wrapped presents all night with my dad, holding her cup of coffee out like a beacon, smiling at me.

"It's My Friend Mandy!!!" I shouted, happy at last to be performing the role I had understudied for weeks. "Oh she's beautiful!"

But she wasn't. I turned her box so my mom could see and my mom's face fell. She squinted behind her glasses at the doll. "What- let me see her, Amy."

I turned the doll to face me again.


She was filthy. All the loving gestures I had bestowed upon her had left their mark. Her face had smudges, her hair was a little greasy looking. Her dress had marks on it and a spot, I think, of peanut butter.


I stood and guiltily brought her to my mom. She looked at her, then at me. She looked tired. And a little bit mad. And, strangely, a little bit not mad at all. "I guess," she said, "I guess you knew what you were getting for Christmas, eh?"

I nodded.

"Well. You should clean her up."

"I will." I said. "I love her, mom. Thank you."

"Alright. Go get the big scissors and we will get her out of this box. And Amy-"


"Next time don't be so nosy."

"I won't." (But of course I was. How can you not be what you are?)

And that's how I found out about Santa Claus.


There she is, on the left. Tell me she isn't the best. She is wearing a different dress in this picture, but I would recognize her anywhere. This ad I scanned from a 1974 Woman's Day magazine.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Final exam in 1 hour, 50 mins.

Note to Self: Book babysitter for at least three hours before leaving house before exam. The NOISE and kids going splat and not eating dinner and arguing over stupid McDonalds toy mini sega games and Lucy sticking the ornaments down the vent and me tearing through the house trying to find my student card = not really being able to recall anything I studied for this exam.

So maybe I will just freestyle the exam. Forget the questions, and just write about what I did today. Hey, my kids are countercultural- they question EVERYTHING I SAY. Why do we have to have leftover shepards pie? Why can't I bring the cordless phone in the bath with me and talk to Grandpa? Why does Lucy get to stay up and I gotta go to bed? Why can't you take us to McDonalds? Why do I havta go to my room? Why? Why?

Why are you crying, Mommy? Oh my love I am not crying. These are tears of sheer joy and happiness that yet another one of my good dishes has been taken out of the buffet and smashed on the floor by Looch. I never liked them anyway. That my student card, which I know I saw two days ago, has disappeared and if I don't find it I will have to go to some stupid room in the exam area and get a temporary one for thirty dollars and probably miss half of the exam. That I didnt really study that much, just enough to confuse myself utterly and now I have a huge headache. It is pure delight being squeezed out of my eye sockets, at the treasures that befall me when I open the food cupboard and see that someone has opened a box of Kraft Dinner and ripped open the cheese sauce mix and sprinkled it all over the canned goods. Oh, excuse me while I kill this fruitfly that has come to visit in December, because I probably have some hidden garbage somewhere that he and all his family live in in the basement. I am just SO PROUD of myself for how utterly disorganized this house is, it is a great thing to almost kill myself in the night when someone wakes up yet again and I step on a Lego and it permanently brands the bottom of my foot with its little lego bumps.

See, this stuff could make for a great essay. I am off, to take two XXXtra strength Tylenol. And go get this exam over with.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Unenchanted Evening.

Tonight was Sam's violin concert, the very first of (I hope) many. He played real nice with his beginner orchestra. That part I loved.

The rest of the evening was-a not so fun.

I was a chaperone for the beginners. Which meant I had to get there at six pm, and usher them all in the Dickinson room of Ryerson Church. And wait with them for AN HOUR AND A HALF until it was time for them to play. Then usher them on then off the stage, then help them get the violins away, then bring them back out to sit in the audience quietly for the rest of the concert.

Several things were hard about this.

1. In the Dickinson room, they had to be quiet because it is right beside the stage.
2. AND They really didnt have anything to do after they had gotten their violins tuned.

So. 35 kids age 7-10 in a room with violins trying to be quiet.
Well, with me and another lady trying to make them be quiet. My mouth is in a permanent crunch from all the shh-shhing I did tonight. My eyes are tired from all the harsh glances I tried to give. I said so many "Hey!'s" and "Put that down"'s I can't even remember.
The boys were into rubber bands and flinging them all over the place. When I tried to say "you will hurt someone" they said, "It's okay, I am shooting it at the ceiling!"
The girls were having little races the length of the room in their black skirts and white blouses. I said, "No running". So they did walking races, which were just as loud.
We had them holding their violins but told them not to pluck or play. They couldn't do it. So then we had them put the violins back in the cases. We had them line up in two lines and sit on the floor. One girl asked to go to the bathroom and that was it. They all miraculously had to go to the bathroom right then and there. So we sent them in giggling groups of three to the bathroom. I think a few of them may be still in there.

Have you ever been in a situation where it seems like fifteen minutes takes two days and nights? I have.

Have you ever had to crane your neck and yank hymn books out of seven pairs of hands because the camera guy from Cable 14 poked you in the shoulder and told you that the page turnings were too loud for his videorecording? I have.

I didnt even get to see most of the concert. I heard it was really nice though. I did get to see a bunch of notes that the three rambunctious (being nice here) older boys were passing around to each other, that said things like "Hey Fat Bum" and "Turd" and "Looser".

All in all, I would definitely say that next year I will be more careful where I volunteer my man hours. I think the nice quiet table where you pick up your tickets would suit me dandy.

On a better note (NPI), can I say that kids today, when they are dressed in black pants or skirts and white tops, and are waiting in the wings to play the violin, are EXACTLY the same as kids were when I was a kid. Shy girls chewing their pony tails, busy boys with brush cuts, kids trying to impress each other with double jointed fingers. Bored kids. Excited kids. The world is so different, but they haven't changed a bit.

And I like this. So something good out of the shushing and craning and missing of the violining. And Ryerson United Church is one gorgeous old place dressed up for Christmas. So two things. Wait, three. Sam. In his white dress shirt and black corduroys. My handsome boy who stayed mostly by my side and even hugged me (once, real quick) with all those kids around. I ain't no fool. I know this won't last forever. So I am grateful times ten for it.

Gotta go sleep now. Chaperone Forderer Over and OUT.


Friday, December 10, 2004

I'm dreaming of a burnt Christmas.....

Lesson Learned:
Do not bake things when you are leaving the house within the half hour. You may forget about them and turn them into many charcoal discs, and your house will have this wicked throat burning coating in the air.

Wondering if Pampered Chef has a contest for the darkest baking stone. I think I win.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Several people have asked me to email them this recipe. So I thought I would put it up here.

Homemade Irish Cream (like Bailey's)

1 can eagle brand condensed milk (low fat is best)
1 half pint (250 ml) whipping cream
1 cup good irish whiskey (Bushmills or Jamesons)
2 tbsp Nestles quik powder (or a reasonable facsimile)
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp instant coffee

Mix all above ingredients with a spoon in a big bowl till all the flavours get married. Pour into bottles (makes about 1 litre) and store in fridge for up to two weeks.
A variation would be to mix one egg and condensed milk in a blender, then pour into bowl and add rest of ingredients and gently stir together. But I am not into the raw egg thing, even though I have had it and it's not bad.

Lovely in coffee or over ice cream.
Thanks to Aunt Brenda for the recipe.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

There's somethin' about a baby in the bath....

Lucy takes her bath very seriously. She doesnt go in for all that silly splashy stuff, but rather takes a puritan approach to picking up toys and shaking them free of water, only to dunk them carefully in again and find another toy under the suds.

Can I just say the kid has some kick-ass coloring? I mean, I know I am her mother and all, but the pink and white skin with the rosebud mouth just about kills me. I can't believe she came from me. What an honour.

Alright alright I know this blog is sugar coated with mommyness, but can we all take a minute to admire her- sorry! I'll stop, I was just going to quietly mention the eyelash- never mind, I know you have all had enough.

Wells, I am off to put the finishing touches on dinner, aka, make it. And it is my last class tonight. So I better go.

Christmas shopping has been seriously attacked. I am working away at it. And quite enjoying my little nightly excursions to Zellers and Winners, etc. Did y'all know that all the Winners are open till ten pm? Mon-Fri?


Monday, December 06, 2004

Taking care of the Mommy.

Today I had the nicest two hours betwixt 1 and 3 pm. Boys were at school. Kind of dark and wintery outside. I put Lucy down for her nap. Then I made myself a can of Vegetable soup mixed with milk instead of water. Yum One. Then I made two pieces of toast slathered in Blue Bonnet marge. Yum Two. I put the soup plate and the toast on a big plate, like I was making lunch to carry upstairs for a kid home sick from school. But it was for ME.
Then I drew the curtains in the living room so it was nice and cosy dark (my dad would call it Inner Sanctum), I situated myself on the couch with a pillow and fleece blanket around my knees geriatric-wheelchair style, then pulled the coffee table up with my food on it. I turned on the tv and some movie was on called The Haunting of Seacliffe Inn.


I finished my snack, pushed the table out. Cleaned up nothing. Lay on the couch and watched my movie till 3pm, with a few cat naps in between.

Really, it was like an early Christmas prezzie to myself.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Christmas tree up. Baking Lemon Squares. Have crocheted two items for little prezzies. Listening to Neil Diamond's Christmas CD.

Ain't it a Wonderful Life.

My tree looks real good. I used all white mini lights that are multi-function so they twinkle (or so it looks like) in time to the Christmas tunes. It wasn't pretty getting things up and gorgeous. Jay was at night class so it was me and the three in the living room. Sam was a HUGE help, he got all the branches of the tree out and organized and opened for me. What a difference 8 to 9 makes in terms of reason and ability.

The other kids I had to rename Hindrance 1 and Hindrance 2. Monty basically ran from room to room decorating with all the things I needed right then and there. He stepped on lights and put most of the good ornaments carefully on his dresser and refused to let me near them. He was a little hopped up on hot chocolate. So for him the night was one to remember, a great time. Lady L herself kept busy putting things in her mouth and pulling stuff out of boxes. She looked like a little red haired Al Jolson by the end of the night, as most of the orns were wrapped in newspaper and she was very into handling said newspaper so the ink rubbed off on her face and hands. Mammy.

So after they were finalement dans their beds I was able to sit with Neil D. and enjoy the twinkling with a hot Choc and Baileys and it was a lovely half hour.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

It's a good time, driving home after night class, when you have done a presentation that has been hanging over your head like a lead balloon all these many years.

So good. I did my group pres tonight and we did just fine. And I got my second essay back. B+! Not bad eh.

Now I just have the final exam, which I am not worried about, there is something about going to every class that gives the brain the information it needs at the final. I will study, of course, but he did give us the exam so I can hone in on what I need to know and ignore the rest.

I feel like I can finally get into the Christmas spirit! WE are so getting the Rubbermaid bins out of the cubby tomorrow. So putting up the tree and the lights and the window clings and the garlandosios. Joanne has the garland down the bannister with the white mini lights and it is divine. I am copying.

And then I need to make a trip to Costco to get oodles of baking good ingredients. Fudge puddles here I come.

And I want to see Bridget Jones 2.

And I need to do the other half of my Christmas shopping.

And, as always, get this cesspool of a house cleaned up. I am seriously thinking of calling in the Magic Wisk ladies to come and go to town. I am so tired of half cleaning everything.

And, well, I am so tired. This pres has had me up late and I don't think I ate dinner! No wonder I have a headache. Gotta go, I think there's a coupla cabbage rolls in the fridge with Amy on em.

Bon Nuit.