Thursday, January 31, 2008

Diva's guide to 2008 fashion must-haves

I know you're all freezing your cute little butts off out there, but trust me spring is right around the corner. Before long you are going to be wondering what kind of clothes you should be stocking up on in order to preserve and promote your image as the MILFiest mom on the block. (That's right, it's an adjective now - you heard it here first).

And so I present to you, my take on the first five of the Top 10 fashion-must-haves for 2008 according to Elle Canada magazine.

1. Floral Print Dress - Meh. This isn't exactly an earth-shattering trend in my opinion. Haven't stylish floral print dresses always been must-haves for spring and summer? It sounds like we're going to have brighter and bolder patterns to choose from this year and that's great, but I would caution heavier gals not to go with versions that are too flowy: make sure the fit is smart and flattering as the difference between a floral print dress and a mumu could boil down to bad lighting in the dressing room or a sycophant salesperson.

You're gonna have to mosey on over to my Shooting for Hip column at Mommyblogstoronto to read the rest. You best go else you're not gonna have a clue what to wear. Go on now. Git.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A room without windows

A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is wrong to his family. Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge, in a young mind, is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices


The voting in the final round of the Canadian Blog Awards closes at midnight tonight. If you haven't already voted for me would you please consider doing so?

You can vote for Best Personal Blog by clicking here:

You can vote for me Best Family Blog by clicking here:

Thank you all for your support and especially for the heart-warming comments and e-mails I received regarding yesterday's post. Yes, Julie's parents read it and they have been greatly moved by all of your kind words about their daughter.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Julie and me

We had big dreams, Julie and I.

She was going to be an Oscar-winning actress and I was going to be famous the world over for writing that would make people laugh with joy and weep with empathy.

Instead I today mark the 13th anniversary of her death by trying, in this humble space, to use my words to pay some kind of tribute to her and to our friendship.

Julie and I met nearly 20 years ago in my first year of university. I was in full party mode, enjoying a concert by a band I can’t remember, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and there stood a tiny, doll-like girl with a big, tipsy smile.

“I’m ever so short,” she said. (Really). “I can’t see the band. Help me out?”

She gestured to my shoulder and I burst out laughing at her audacity. When I regained my composure I stooped down and up she hopped. We were pretty much inseparable from that moment on.

I don’t know exactly how tall Julie was. Four feet, ten inches maybe? Four feet eleven? Surely not five feet. She never discussed it so I’m not sure how I came to understand that her growth had been stunted by treatments she endured to successfully fight leukemia as a toddler.

No matter. What Julie lacked in stature she made up for in attitude. She was startling beautiful and she knew it. She turned heads wherever she went. She would insult you in the most outrageous fashion and then charm you a second later with a conspiratorial wink and a flip of her hair.

We had a shtick, Julie and I. She was drool and I was goofy. I told corny jokes and she made cutting observations. We were partners in crime, kindred spirits, two peas in a pod. We got each other.

A few years after graduation Julie moved Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. I took a road trip to visit and fell in love with Arizona on my way through. I moved there not long after and we visited between Scottsdale and Los Angeles regularly.

What a heady time! She acted bit parts and I worked as a freelance writer. Drunk with youth and possibility, we attacked the world the only way we knew how – full tilt. We narrowly avoided a dust-up with a member of Faster Pussycat at Whiskey a Go-Go. We danced on the tables at a sushi restaurant in Venice. We traded jokes and insults behind the microphone at a house party we crashed in West Hollywood.

Superbowl weekend rolled around. Julie had vague plans to visit me in Arizona. I didn’t hear from her, but wasn’t overly concerned. Then her mother called in the early evening.

I’m in Los Angeles dear,” she said. “With Julie. She’s dying. She’s asking to see you. You better come right away”

I have often tried, during the last 12 years, to recreate how I felt to hear those words. When the picture I carry of her in my head gets blurry or I can’t quite hear her voice, I force myself back into that dark moment, hoping, I guess, that fresh pain will somehow make her seem less distant.

And so I drove, tears streaming down my face, across the desert in the middle of the night. I remember the moonlight on the palm trees and the warm wind and the feeling that surely I must just be playing a part in some cheesy movie of the week – the kind Julie would eviscerate with one pithy blow.

But it wasn’t a movie of course. Julie had visited the doctor just a few weeks earlier about a nagging cough, which was, it turned out, symptomatic of imminent heart and lung failure. Her respiratory system had been compromised by the very treatments that had saved her life all those years ago.

I got to the hospital and went in to see her right away. I remember thinking how glamorous and beautiful she looked laying there, her hair artfully fanned out around her pillow: a tiny, perfect doll.

“Tell me a joke,” she said. And, because she asked me to, I blinked back my tears and did just that. Then I told her I loved her. She smiled like Cleopatra on the Nile. Of course I did.

One after another, the people who loved her filed in to say goodbye. Her parents went last and came out an hour or so later. She was gone, they said.

Julie was gone.

Afterwards I went to a Denny’s on Sunset Blvd and ate pancakes and drank Irish coffee and cried. It seemed fitting somehow and I lingered, knowing Julie would revel in the curious glances I drew with my smeared eyeliner, disheveled hair and tragic demeanor.

Some days I can’t believe that how much the world has changed since Julie was in it. How can it be that Pulp Fiction was the last movie that she saw? That she never got to make fun of Paris Hilton or weigh in on reality television. That September 11th was remarkable to her only because it’s my birthday?

I carried Julie’s lace handkerchief down the aisle with me on my wedding day. And on her birthday every year her parents treat me to dinner at her favorite restaurant. But I feel her loss most keenly at times when her memory sneaks up on me. Like on my 30th birthday when I couldn’t stop crying because it didn’t seem fair that I got to turn 30 and she didn’t.

There are so many, many things that Julie didn’t get to do and even as my life moves happily forward, I am haunted by each and every one of them.

Because we had big dreams, Julie and I.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Into the wild

There’s a big wild, world just outside our backyard.

There are trees and woodland animals and hollow logs inside which captivating creatures surely lurk. There are bird’s nests and raccoon dens and a tiny creek where ethereal minnows flash and dart to escape the grasp of chubby fingers.

There is magic out there.

Even if I didn’t always see it.

I was not born a city girl. I was born in a small town and I had to fight to win the cloak of urban style that for years I wrapped around myself.

I was living in downtown Toronto when I fell in love with a sweet and serious man who suggested we buy a house in Don Mills where he grew up. I balked. Don Mills was only 15 minutes from the epicenter of a metropolis of several million people, but it seemed worlds away from the hip, downtown world into which I finally, finally, fit.

Moving out of downtown, I feared, would be a regression.

And I guess in a way it has been, but in the best possible sense.

I had a charmed childhood. I grew up, steeped in rural traditions and familial love, on the outskirts of a tiny village surrounded by lakes and endless woods.

Across the fields I sailed on my trusty bike, legs pumping furiously, my heart swollen with conviction that just an ounce more effort would surely launch girl and bike into the sky and towards the heavens.

Through murky creeks I sloshed, chasing frogs and swampy creatures I imagined had just emerged from primordial ooze and held the secrets of the universe within their dirt and slime.

And while a woman may need a room of own, a girl does not. A girl needs only a tall tree that she can scramble up and sit and contemplate the world below in perfect contentment.

But contentment has a way of turning into yearning and as I grew I did begin to yearn. A walking cliché, I yearned for the bright lights of the big city, imaging that I would conquer it and bring it to heel with my vigor and enthusiasm.

And I did, in my way

I landed a good job with glamorous overtones and collected witty, urbane friends. I enjoyed exotic travel and buzzing parties and strange and unusual things my childhood self had not even the capacity to dream about

And it was all very good but once again contentment turned to yearning and I finally did leave my sexy little place downtown to move here to a house with a door in the backyard which seemed to lead right back to where I came from

I have walked for miles outside this back door. I consulted the trees as I planned my marriage and prayed to the birds and the squirrels for a child. When I finally carried one in my stomach, every night I marched purposely alongside our creek, sending up each step as a tiny, separate prayer for his safe arrival.

And as I walked I began to see that this place, these woods, filled a need in me that I had long denied existed. I began to see that this place, Don Mills was the place where my childhood memories and my adult reality could co-exist.

It’s a place where a boy may climb a tree and survey his private kingdom, where scientific wonders may be captured in muddy bottles and a forest path might possibly lead straight to heaven’s gate.

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Friday, January 25, 2008


I had you feeling a little misty, admit it.

You couldn’t help but be a little verklemp when I wrote about how we cleared out the accruements our rock star youth to make room for Graham’s future.

But then I didn’t mention this guy.

I’ve tried not to think about this guy for the past six years. He came with the house and, at Rob’s insistence, stayed, hanging behind the drum set.

Once, during a jam session he actually fell off the wall and hit the drummer and his tooth left a nasty gash on the drummer’s cheek, but I digress.

This guy is gone now. He just didn’t fit in with the playroom’s décor.

I don’t feel the least bit nostalgic about his absence, but if you’re in the market for a wild boar’s head with a freakish smile drop me an e-mail.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

How did you know I had nothing?

The universe works in strange ways.

To wit, just when I think there is absolutely no way I can come up with something to write about I am tagged for not one, but two really fun memes!

The first one – sent my way via Amy over at Memories and Musings - is particularly great because it allows me to relive past glory by recycling five of favorite blog posts.

Kinda like how I relive my high-school glory days by squeezing myself into my old bikini, chugging red wine and crying – kinda.

Link 1 must be about family.
Link 2 must be about friends.
Link 3 must be about yourself.
Link 4 must be about something you love.
Link 5 can be anything you choose.

Here goes:

1. Mothers-in-law – A love story – About how I learned to appreciate my MIL even more since I become mom to a boy - also about how Graham’s future wife is gonna think I’m a nutbar.

2. Another one bites the dust – Aww, only my third post ever! About my friend Jon’s 40th birthday and how my friends and I are so much cooler than our parents were at 40. Or are we? Also, Jon’s an actor – maybe you’ll recognize him.

3. Joining the ranks of motherhood – This was a hard choice because, boy howdy, do I love to write about myself! It’s about me realizing that I’m actually not too cool to join a mom’s group. Who knew?

4. Learning to fly – I love to fly float planes. I love my dad. I love how much I learned about life when he taught me how to fly float planes. Probably my favorite post ever.

5. Just for starters – It’s pictures mostly. Pictures of all the people and things for which I am grateful. This post always makes me smile.

The rule is that I’m supposed to tag five other people, two of whom are newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better. Also I'm supposed to remind readers not to forget to read archive posts and leave comments!

Consider yourself tagged: Damselfly, Tracey, Painted Maypole, Valarie, GoMommy

The second meme comes by way of OHmommy over at Classy Chaos. I like this meme because I get to talk about myself: as I pointed out above, I love that!

It consists of the following questions:

How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging at the end of August, so about five months.

What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?
I am a writer. Always have been. I’ve written screenplays, poems, stories, articles, essays and even a novel (unpublished) with varying degrees of success. Finally decided to cut out the middlemen (editors) and take it to the streets. Before I started Don Mills Diva the only blogs I really read were Girl’s Gone Child and Her Bad Mother and I just adored both of them – still do.

Are you trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?
Both. I’m already having fun – so much fun I could kick myself over all the fun I missed by not starting my blog sooner. But I am hoping to make money off this blog eventually because who the heck couldn’t use more money?

What 3 things do you love about being online?
The intimacy and immediacy of the feedback
The challenge of keeping my writing fresh and engaging
The sense of community and the friendships – true blessings I did not anticipate

What 3 things do you struggle with online?
Finding the time!
Keeping my writing fresh and engaging
The technical aspect – I have learned so much but it hasn’t come easily

For this meme I hereby tag Blonde Mom and Jen at Get in the car.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm not worthy

What a week for Don Mills Diva.

There are so many worthy writers, wonderful writers, out there in the blogosphere that I feel just a little guilty about all the wonderful attention, support and bloggy love that this humble site has recently received.

But not quite guilty enough not to gobble it all up - I am a diva y'all!

Seriously though, I am honoured to report that Don Mills Diva has been shortlisted for Canadian Blog Awards in both the categories in which it was nominated - Best Personal Blog and Best Family Blog.

The final round of voting has just opened and if you could take two seconds and once again cast your vote for me I would be forever in your debt.

Just go here:

And scroll down to the Interest category. You can then click on Best Personal Blog and Best Family Blog and there you'll see DMD listed as one of the five finalists. Thanks tons!

Okay, next I want to thank the gorgeous Dawn over at Renaissance Mama for bestowing this very impressive-looking award. If you haven't checked her out yet, you really should: she's a self-described homeschooling tree-hugger who aspires towards simplicity and I always find her point of view an inspiration.

And then Kat my German blogger friend over at My Two Cents handed me this lovely bling. Kat and I recently discovered each other and I think we have a similar sense of humour and a similarly realistic grasp on our athletic abilities. Did I mention we're training for the Olympics together?

And rounding out awards week here at DMD is this next award I received from one of my favourite new (to me) bloggers Amy over at Memories and Musings.

This one is particularly thrilling because I have seen it awarded to other people and I have never, for the life of me, been able to figure out what it meant. Lucky for me, Amy knows that it's hard for a girl to look this good and be smart, so she explained it. See, if you rotate it counter-clockwise it becomes a heart.

Get it? She hearts me! Aww, I heart her too.

I heart all of you. Seriously.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Paging Mrs. Robinson

I fear I’m in real danger of becoming a dirty, old woman.

It’s somehow not quite as creepy as being a dirty old man, but still.

I don’t like it one little bit.

And I blame John Mayer.

John Mayer is my guilty pleasure. I’ve loved him for a while now, even though he is eight years younger than me. He seems so mature and I look good for my age, so I convinced myself I could fit in with his rock star friends. I convinced myself the age gap was nothing - we were all practically contemporaries!

But the other day while perusing a celebrity gossip web site (not the one I swore off, honest!) I came to the startling conclusion that John is practically an elder statesman when it comes to contemporary musicians. In fact, pretty much the entire crop of young hotties these days is entirely out of my league when it comes to age. (I know, I know, not just age, but let’s just stick with age for now, m’kay?)

Pete Wentz? Ten years younger than me. Justin Timberlake? Twelve years younger than me. Chris Brown? Gulp – 18 years younger than me! Yes, that’s right. I am old enough to be Chris Brown’s mother.

When did this happen? I may have had to modify my dreams of Olympic glory but my vision of myself as a young ingénue, and potential rock star girlfriend, is one I hold even more dear.

And yet it is seems even that dream is starting to crumble.

Mostly I blame Pamela Anderson. (See how I let John off the hook there – I can’t stay mad at him!)

Pam is a fellow Canadian and pretty much a professional rock star girlfriend/ wife. While she has never personified feminine beauty for me, for years a lot of people considered her to be the hottest of the hot. And that made me feel awfully good about myself, considering she is two years and two months older than me. Knowing that definitely helped convince me that John and I had a shot.

But lately Pamela Anderson is blowing it for both of us. She’s not aging well. She’s morphing from sexpot to caricature and all of a sudden she’s starting to look like someone who is trying way too hard to hang onto her youth. She’s starting to look like someone who is just a tad too old for the skimpy outfits she’s always wearing.

She’s starting to look like someone who is probably too old to date John Mayer. And if she’s too old to date John Mayer, then I probably am too.

But you know what? I still would. In fact, if I weren’t married I would also be happy to accept a date with Pete Wentz. And Justin Timberlake. And if he asked nicely, maybe even Chris Brown.

And that’s why I fear I’m in real danger of turning into a dirty, old woman.

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Monday, January 21, 2008


One my baby for nearly 11 years, rescued from neglect at five weeks of age and ever since unnaturally attached to, and dependent upon, me.

One my baby for 26 months, plus nine more as part of my body and all of my heart.

One growing old now and becoming ever-more sedentary and cloying.

One growing up and becoming ever-more active and independent.

One ever patient and passive. One always testing and aggressive.

One hungering for excitement and new experiences. One wishing nothing had ever changed.

And yet each, knowing how much the other is loved, illustrating the art of conciliation and understanding.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Picture this

It seems that in my excitement to rush away and have at the slopes, the oysters and the dance floor I forgot my camera.

Oh yes I did!

So in lieu of pictures I'll set a few scenes:

1. Me on Saturday having fun (and looking good, natch) but struggling down icy slopes in temperatures about -12 degrees C.
2. Me on Saturday evening eating my weight in oysters.
3. Me and Rob taking to the dance floor shortly afterwards and TEARING IT UP!
4. Me in the bathroom shortly after that throwing up what I can only assume was a bad oyster (not looking good, natch)
5. A slightly pale me sitting on the sidelines and watching the band.
6. Me and Rob returning to the dance floor and tearing it up to a slightly lesser degree.
7. Me on Sunday having a great time on the slopes, despite -15 degree C temps and bouts of heavy snow.
8. Me not having a good time as we drive home through horrendous weather on back roads after the major highways are closed due to massive pileups.

A great time and many thanks to Rob's brother and sister-in-law Peter and LeeAnne for being such generous and gracious hosts.

What I wouldn't have been able to convey in pictures, even if I had remembered my camera, is how much I missed Graham.

I missed my boy, I really did.

I didn't really miss him when I went away for four days last month, but during the day and a half I spent away this weekend I found my thoughts constantly drifting to him.

I nearly fell while disembarking from the chair lift because I was daydreaming about what Graham might be doing. I almost spun out on a mogul because I was consumed with a sudden yearning to hug Graham I felt myself getting misty eyed every time I spotted a child who remotely resembled Graham on the slopes.

Yup, I'm in love. And I got it bad.

It's good to be home.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Still more freedom

I admit it: I'm a little spoiled.

We're sneaking away again. Skiing. Without Graham.

Not quite Freedom 2007 but a day and a half of adult fun nonetheless. Oma's coming over mid-morning on Saturday and we're heading up to Collingwood (about two hours north of Toronto). We'll be back early Sunday evening in time to tuck Graham into bed.

Rob's brother and his wife belong to a really fun ski club up there and apparently there is a apre-ski soiree Saturday night involving oysters and dancing.

So obviously I'm in!

I'll be sure to post some pics as soon as I'm back Sunday. Have a fantastic weekend!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The road to glory is paved with delusions

The Winter Olympics are headed to Whistler, British Columbia in 2010 and their imminent arrival in my home country has got me thinking a lot about Olympic glory.

My own Olympic glory.

For me.

I’m serious.

When I was a kid I used to watch the Olympics, winter and summer, with fervent excitement. Though not a serious athlete at any other time, during the few weeks they were televised I imagined that one day, one day, I might find myself up there on the podium. You probably did the same thing.

It never occurred to me that it wasn’t within the realm of possibility – Of course I can compete at the Olympic level, I just don’t feel like it right now.

As I got a little older, you might think my Olympic dream would die a sensible death – along with yours probably. But it didn’t. Instead I just methodically started to eliminate the categories in which winning a gold medal was least likely.

Gymnastics was the first to go. I mean how much do those girls weigh? Like, 20 pounds?

Figure Skating? Umm, I don't do sequins. High Jump? I’m only five feet seven inches tall. Downhill skiing? I still have some trouble with black diamond runs. Swimming? I don’t think I want to develop my shoulders that much.

As the years have passed I have had to admit there are fewer and fewer events in which I could potentially win an Olympic gold medal. It’s become a bit of an obsession with me. Just last week I mentioned to Rob that I thought ping pong was still a possibility. You know, if I started now.

He was adamant that the ping pong window had long closed and after a long and surprisingly heated discussion on the relative athleticism of Olympic-level ping pong players, I had to concede he was probably right.

No matter how improbable your dreams, it’s not easy to see windows of opportunity close as you age. Diminishing possibilities are a fact of life, but difficult to accept nonetheless and I am the first to admit that I harbor pretty grand illusions (delusions?) about what is still achievable.

Traveling around the world? Darn tootin’. My grandmother did it in her 70s, 80s and 90s. Charity work in the Third World? You better believe it. That’s a large part of how I plan to spend my retirement.

World-renowned super model? Umm, okay probably not. Prime Minister of Canada? If I wanted to: I just don’t think I want to.

World famous writer and cult hero? But of course! In fact, this blog is my first step on the road to complete global cultural domination

You’re laughing, but I really believe that.


My point, and I do have one, is that most days I still believe that the world is my oyster. I still believe that anything can happen, that I can have greatness thrust upon me or, more likely, if I work hard enough I can still make my fondest desires a reality.

Am I overly optimistic about how the world works or worse, my abilities?

Maybe. Probably. But I’ve never been a shrinking violet and I’ll take self-delusion over self-defeat any day.

As far as Olympic glory goes, my 15-year-old nephew is currently ranked in his age group as the number three slalom skier in Canada (number 31 in the world), so I may well make it to the Olympics yet, if only as a spectator.

That is, if I’m not too busy practicing my archery. I think I still have a shot at a gold medal in archery.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A rambling fancy

One cannot fix one's eyes on the commonest natural
production without finding food for a rambling fancy.


Calling all fashion fiends! Check out my latest scoop here.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Silencing my inner bitch

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite right now.

I feel like I don’t deserve all the nice things you said about me in your comments on this post.

The stuff about me having such a big heart and being so caring: it sounds lovely and oh-so-seductive to my ears, but I’m not sure it’s true.

A few weeks back I wrote about resolutions and how I think they are just part of our genetic makeup: what I didn’t reveal was the resolution I made for myself.

Yes, I am serious about doing this. But quietly, and with no small sense of shame, I also made another resolution.

I resolved to silence my inner bitch.

I hate her. I don’t know where she comes from or why she has taken up residence in my brain. I don’t know why I, someone who cries at the drop of a hat, loses sleep over mistreated animals and always roots for the underdog, continue to tolerate the mean-spirited little voice that makes snarky, snap judgments of far too many innocent strangers who cross my path.

I’m not talking about snarking on celebrities or public figures. Though I have stuck to my resolution to cut out the worst of it, I have no real problem dishing up stupid celebrity antics: in fact I did that here and even pissed off a few readers.

I’m talking about my internal dialogue that too often slices and dices people I encounter when I’m out and about and generally feeling harried and busy and impatient.

Nice makeup job honey, I think, when the overly made-up eccentric at the produce market grabs the avocado I was eyeing. You’re a complete and total idiot, I mentally brand the guy ahead of me in the checkout line who can’t find his wallet.

I can’t believe out of ten million sperm you were the fastest, I seethe when the cashier takes more than a few seconds to make my change.

What is wrong with me? Why do I do this?! Isn’t this kind of bitchiness more suited to high school mean girls than a 30-something adult? I don’t want to be young again. I’m less cocky and more grateful now. I have shed much of youth’s conceit and come to realize that my good fortune in life is mostly attributable to blind, good luck

My circle of friends has expanded over the years to include people of all shapes and circumstances. Especially since becoming a mother I’ve learned a lot about tolerance and hard work. I’ve reflected long and hard on the difficulty of some people’s choices or lack thereof.

So why is my very first instinct so often cruelty rather than compassion?

One of the things I love not just about writing, but writing about everyday stuff, is that I truly believe beauty and poignancy is most often found in the mundane. As cliché as it sounds, I really believe that each and every one of us has a story that would break your heart.

And I need to remember that.

I need to remember it no matter how much of a hurry I am in when I go about my daily business.

I need to be kinder on the inside, not just on the outside, where good behavior earns me accolades and lovely comments.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Indulge me?

Can I ask you guys a favour?

It seems I’ve been nominated in two categories for Canadian Blog Awards and even though you might expect me to be all diva-like and say something like “But of course,” the truth is I’ve only been blogging for about five months and I’m really humbled and absolutely thrilled to bits.

So if you could spare just a few seconds – and it only takes a few seconds I PROMISE – and vote for me I would really appreciate it.

Just click on this link …

…and click on links to Best Personal Blog and Best Family Blog. You’ll see Don Mills Diva listed in each category and you can click beside the name and then click the vote button at the bottom.

I really do appreciate all the encouragement and support you have given me since I put this site up. I wish I could put my arms around the internets and give each and every one of you a giant hug.

And thanks to two of the coolest chicks on the block, Secret Agent Mama and Mama Tulip, for nominating me – you are both too, too kind.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Opportunity wasted

I burst into tears at the grocery store this morning.

I was wheeling down an aisle chattering happily to Graham who was munching a free cookie from the bakery when I heard a strange sound.

It was a hooting sound, like an owl makes. Except it wasn’t an owl, it was a little boy.

He was about seven, eight maybe and, I assume, autistic. He was handsome, He was hooting wildly and flapping his arms while his mother tried to hold him and rubbed his back, speaking to him in soothing terms.

And people were looking at them, or rather, trying not to look at them. And Graham lost all interest in his cookie and his eyes grew wide, out of curiosity, but not fear. And as we got closer I saw her face.

Oh, her face.

She looked tired. She looked resigned. But even more heartbreaking to me, she looked embarrassed.

And I wanted to stop and put my arms around her and say “Don’t be embarrassed, people understand. Do not be embarrassed.”

I wish I had said to her, “You’re doing a great job, you really are.”

Or even, “Is there anything at all I can do to help you?”

But I didn’t. I smiled as long (not long enough) and as warmly (not warmly enough) as I felt I comfortably could.

And then I wheeled around the corner and into the next aisle and my sweet Graham resumed chewing his cookie and I thought There, but by the grace of God, go I.

And I burst into tears.

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Friday, January 11, 2008


We could barely afford this house but we bought it anyway, not least because we imagined all the wonderful parties we could host here.

It was at a party, after all, where we met and the music blared and all the promise and mystery of life seemed hidden in the songs, brash and uncompromising, to which we sang along.

Brash and uncompromising; that was us. Drawn together by a love of fun, a reverence for music and just a touch of wildness.

This room would be perfect, we decided. Room for guitars and drums and keyboards to play. And microphones and even a recording system, Rob joked, to capture jams for posterity: what if Collective Soul dropped by one day?

Or White Stripes, I concurred. And we laughed because we both knew it would be our family and friends who would gather here to laugh and make music and that would be enough.

And it was enough. And magic happened here: when a keyboardist for a country music group and an amateur rapper – friends of friends –– collaborated and when Rob’s long defunct punk band reunited to rehearse the songs they would perform at our wedding.

And then Graham was born and our life expanded. And we sang to him and danced with him and perched him on our knee at the keyboards and behind the drums.

But it happened that his toys got bigger and bigger and our toys sat unused for days and weeks and months even. And it hardly seemed fair that our past should be allowed to crowd out his present.

And so for the past week, mostly as Graham and I slept, Rob has worked down here, not disposing of the past, but prioritizing it, rearranging it, moving it to the sidelines and making way for our son’s future.

It is written that a boy becomes a man when he puts away childish things and yet it seems to me in this modern world, where age is just a number and adulthood a playground and men stay boys for far too long, quite the opposite is true.

It seems to me that a boy truly becomes a man, and a girl a woman, when they finally focus their full attention on childish things and in doing so, give the next generation its own space to play and laugh and explore their passion.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Of purple cows and husbands

I am going to try to start thinking differently about my husband.

And by that I mean I am going to try and stop being annoyed by the mere fact that he is around.

I am going to remind myself that he is just as entitled to the computer, the newspaper and the remote as I am. I am going to take a deep breath and reassure myself that just because he is breathing the same air as I am, it does not mean that he is hogging my oxygen.

It is not going to be easy.

My husband is a freelancer in a crazy industry. And by crazy industry, I mean an industry that routinely involves work days lasting a minimum of 14 hours. When he works I am essentially a single parent as he returns home only to sleep (usually after midnight) for five or six hours. Last year he worked pretty much full out from mid-June until the first week of December. Although we talked on the phone several times a day, Graham and I only saw him each week for half a day on Saturday (after he got out of bed) and all day Sundays.

Not every marriage can survive this type of schedule, but it works for us. It works because I have always been fiercely independent and I enjoy being alone. When he’s working I follow my own schedule, I make my own meals and after Graham goes to bed, I settle in for my beloved, cozy, solitary evenings.

The problem comes when he is off work. Every time he finishes a show, there is a period of adjustment. All of a sudden there is someone here. Every night. At my house. I have to make conversation at dinner. I have to make dinner!

I am sure people with spouses in the military go through this. It’s hard. As much as you love them, when this person reappears in your day-to-day life, it feels like they are usurping your authority and disrupting your routine.

So when Karen over at A Day in The Life tagged me for the Think Differently Challenge I knew exactly what I was going to write about.

Because I do need to think differently about this. I need to be more understanding of how hard it must be for Rob to fall into a daily routine after enduring the chaos of filmmaking for months on end. I need to realize that his job, as disruptive as it can be, helps provide me and Graham with a very comfortable lifestyle.

I need to count our time together as a blessing and enjoy him more because, God willing, we are destined to spend our golden years together and I do not want to be one of those crotchety retired couples who are sick to death of each other.

But having said that, I do want the damn writers’ strike to end so he can go back to work.

And I want to hear how MBA Mommy, Erin and Jen would like to think differently.

Here are the rules for this meme:

Write a new blog post about thinking differently

State that the post is a part of the Think Different Challenge and include a link and/ or trackback to this post so that readers know the rules of the challenge. Feel free to use the above banner (inspired, of course, by Seth Godin).

Include a link and/ or trackback to the blogger who tagged you.

At the end of your post, go ahead and tag some fellow bloggers. Don’t forget to let them know they have been tagged.

Sit back and enjoy reading peoples’ responses to the challenge.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The teacher

Every child grows; everything depends on the teacher.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oh for crying out loud

Thank God I’m not running for President of the United States.

Besides the fact that running a campaign would seriously cut into my free time, I can’t imagine being scrutinized for every word, every nuance of every word, that comes out of my mouth.

And I especially can’t imagine not being allowed to tear up when I feel emotional.

You’ve probably heard by now of the big controversy over the fact that Hillary Clinton let a bit (just a smidgeon, really) of emotion creep into her voice during a recent news conference.

Now, I have no intention of debating the merits of Clinton vs Obama vs Edwards or whether Hillary letting her human side show was a calculated thing or whether it will help her or hurt her or even whether the whole controversy is sexist.

I just want to say that I if I were in her shoes, my response to every press query would be punctuated with copious, heaving sobs.
I tear up when I hear the national anthem. For any country. I cry when people win money, appliances even, on game shows. I am prone to weeping during long-distance phone commercials while, at the same time, loudly snarking about how manipulative and cheesy commercials are these days.

And that’s when I’m well rested.

If I get less than seven hours sleep more than a few night in a row (yes, I’m spoiled – Graham slept through the night at six weeks), I get all melancholy and teary and prone to humming spirituals…Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows my sorrows.

And if someone were to inadvertently say something that might possibly be interpreted as slightly critical when I’m in that stressed and/ or sleep-deprived state?

Let’s just say that the ensuing hysterics would be waaay more entertaining than the clip of Hillary making the rounds in which she purportedly loses it. (That’s a breakdown? Sheesh – talk about amateur hour!)

It’s genetic, this propensity to shed tears at the drop of the hat. My mother is exactly the same. If we happen to be watching television together and something the least bit heart-wrenching comes on, we first get all self-conscious and avoid looking at each other.

Finally one of us will cast a surreptitious glance at the other, our teary eyes will meet and we will exchange a guilty, silly little laugh. This laugh acknowledges our mutual weirdness and serves as a green light for no-holds-barred sobs which are usually punctuated by bursts of laughter at the absurdity of it all.

So yeah, I’m thinking it’s probably a good thing I’m not running for President of the United States. Even if I were better at holding my emotions in check, I’m not sure middle America is ready for that photo of me in a princess hat and a feather boa.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Humble pie - I'll have seconds

You know what's humbling?

Well, there is this.

But there's also this picture of Graham watching television.

That's right. Graham. Watching television.

It's humbling because it was only about four months ago that I had a letter published in the on-line edition of this newspaper decrying the launch of a new network for babies (which I still think is crap by the way) and proudly stating that I had never once turned on the television for my son.

And I hadn't. Then.

But in the last few months I have. A few times. A very few times. Mostly at times when I am struggling to get something posted. (It's your fault dear readers - you, I blame you!) Sometimes when I was just feeling lazy. (Bad mom, bad, bad mom!)

Right after that picture was taken?

I shut off the television.

I'm no longer quite as judgemental about television as I was four months ago, but damned if I can stand to see my 26-month-old son that engrossed in something that isn't (a) educational or (b) his mama's lovely face.

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

A mother's love - for her work

After three weeks off work, I am heading back to the office tomorrow.

And I can hardly wait.

It’s not that I don’t love being with my family. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed all our time together over the last three weeks: it’s just that I’ve had enough.

I’ve had enough sleeping in. I’ve had enough sitting around and reading the paper. I’ve had enough puttering about the house, making small talk with my husband (who is also home) and marking out my day by meals and naptime.

Castigate me if you will, but I’ve even had enough of being with my darling Graham pretty much day and night.

I need to be busy. I like to have a million things to do.

God help me, I love to work.

Mind you I have a great job. A really great job. My office is just down the street. I can walk (for real!). I work nine to five. I get more than four weeks holidays. My wonderful mother-in-law comes here every Monday to watch Graham and I even come home to eat lunch with him. Tuesday to Friday, Graham goes to a home daycare located just a few streets away and run by a dear family friend. I drop him off at 8:45 a.m. I pick him up at 5:15 p.m.

I don’t know if I would be quite so enthusiastic about working outside the home if I had to commute an hour or more, if I had to put Graham in daycare five days a week or if Canada’s generous maternity leave program didn’t allow me to spend the first year of Graham’s life at home.

But I do know that I don’t feel guilty about my choice to work. Not one little bit. I hear people say they worry about missing their child’s milestones, but I don’t. I don’t worry.

I don’t worry that I’m not spending enough quality time with Graham. I am confident that he is happy and secure. I don’t worry that someone else is raising him. I know that he knows who his mommy is and loves her most of all.

I am fully supportive of women who stay at home full-time. I’m fully supportive of pretty much anything other moms do, because if there’s one thing I‘ve learned since having Graham it’s that all of us, working or not, are doing exactly what we think works best for our family.

I admit that on some level, I may even be a little jealous of stay-at-home parents: I sometimes think I need to work outside the home, because deep down I need to be validated and it is a strong woman or man, indeed, who does not need anyone else to reassure them that they have worth.

But no matter - it is back to work for me tomorrow and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I feel good about myself when I am working. I have my more energy and creativity when I am working. I am more joyful when I am working.

I am a better mother because I am working.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

One gift

If you can give your son or daughter only one gift,
let it be enthusiasm.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Scientifically speaking, he's a miracle

Both my husband and I are somewhat technical types.

We are big on gadgets. He’s a sound recordist and mixer. I fly airplanes. We are both fascinated by how things work.

And we both agree that, from a technical standpoint, watching our son develop is one of the most remarkable things we have ever witnessed.

We all love our children truly, madly and deeply. Each milestone they reach – the first smile, step, word – makes our heart swell with wonder and gratitude. But imagine, just for a moment, that you could put aside your emotional investment in your child and, for purely scientific purposes, observe it learn and develop.

Would you not be blown away by the sheer width, depth and breadth of knowledge and skills that this creature, this fledgling human adult, must acquire on the path to maturity?

The thing about parenting – the thing that makes it such an all-consuming, indescribably wonderful endeavor - is that it provides you with knowledge you never even knew you lacked.

I didn’t know so many things before Graham was born.

I didn’t think about the complex physicality of the human body and how our arms and legs, fingers and toes must be trained to work in synchronicity to master balance and movement.

I never really considered that our every mode of communication - from looks and smiles and winks to cries and grunts and words are part of an elaborate system of socialization that must learned, step by painstaking step.

I knew – I had been told – that having a child would inspire musings on life and love and miracles. But I had always seen human beings as the sum of their parts.

I never knew that the parts themselves could hold me in their thrall. That the dear, wee arms and legs and eyes and ears and lips, as they grew and strengthened and found their purpose, would each reveal itself as a separate and technically perfect miracle.

There are so many reasons to have children. Many of them are articulated by writers and poets every day and many of them go without saying.

But for someone like me, someone who hungers for technical knowledge, who finds beauty and comfort in order and science and nature and how things work, watching my son grow and observing the glorious complexity and functionality of the body he inhabits, has been an unexpected revelation.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Come on, make a resolution: you know you want to!

It must be resolution time; I can hear you groaning from here.

It sounds something like this: you hate resolutions. Resolutions are stupid, passé, cliché. You never keep them and it’s pointless to even bother making them.

Yeah right – you don’t fool me.

Why even bother trying to fight January’s annual orgy of self-improvement? It’s hardwired in most of us. Chances are, if you go back a few generations, your ancestors came to Canada or the United States after resolving to make a better life for their families. I know mine did.

And our ancestor’s legacy is our own constant urge towards self-improvement – an urge that is both the pride and the bane of the North American middle class.

Sometimes I hear people say the secret to life is to want less, to do less, to simplify, to stop trying to improve. And sometimes when I feel stressed, when the free-lance work in our crazy business is slow, I lament that I have acquired some many things, a lifestyle and expectations, to which I must tend.

And at those times the idea of a little hut somewhere in the islands, where the sun is bright and life is slow, seems almost unbearably lovely.

But deep down I don’t know if that lifestyle would suit me. Deep down I think it may be the striving on which I thrive.

It’s not that I’m not already happy – I am – so very, very happy. It’s not that I don’t count my existing blessings – in fact I listed them in a rather colorful fashion just a few months back.

It’s just that life is short and the world is big and there are so many things to do and places to go and people to meet and I feel compelled to jam in as much as possible – to gobble up enough experiences to sustain happy memories and crazy stories for those days when I’m confined to my rocker.

And after all, even if it’s wearying sometimes, isn’t the constant striving, the resolving to be stronger, faster, happier, richer, thinner what makes North America such a wonderful place to live? Yes, it’s tiring, but isn’t it infectious, this ever-present idea that things can always, will always, get better, if only we resolve to make them so?

So don’t fight it. Promise yourself that you’ll jump on the treadmill, go for a run, start playing piano, hug your kids every day or cook from scratch and then give it your best shot.

And have a busy, prosperous and happy new year!

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