Published: A whole bunch of stuff

Oh hey there, stranger. Where have I been? Around, thanks for asking. Really busy, actually – writing everywhere but here. Remember when I made a New Year’s resolution to update my own website consistently, and not just write for other publications? Yeah, I meant well.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately, should you be interested:

On The Mabelhood:

Six Things That Are More Relaxing Than a Vacation with Kids

Sweet Six(teen): A Love Letter to my Daughter

I’m That Hot Mess Mom in the School Yard

To Dads With Sons: Please Don’t Stop Hugging

On Urban Moms:

Hey Working Moms, You Don’t Owe Anyone An Explanation

Motherhood, and All The Ways I Plan on Failing

Our Homes Magazine:

Home Feature: Halton Hills Chateau

In other news…I’m working on a LOT more. Stay tuned, and I’ll try to post again sometime before Christmas. And in the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram, where I’m actually consistent!

Published: Come visit me in The Mabelhood

mabelhood

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I started writing for The Mabelhood this month. This is exciting for me for a few reasons:

  1. I love Mabel’s Labels. I have them on everything. Seriously, if they wanted to pay me in labels, they could. (My husband is pleased that they pay in money, but I could probably be swayed.)
  2. It’s a good blog. I read it and I like it. You’ll like it, too.
  3. It’s something new and allows me to switch things up, which is always fun.

So, I’ll keep ranting and raving on here and have an article coming up for Our Homes Magazine, but in the meantime, check out my first post for the ‘hood, here. Thanks for reading!

Mondays.

7:30 am: I’m awake but I’m not, really. Good lord, my children are loud. Off I go to feed them breakfast and engage in another argument about pants.

8:40 am: Kids are dropped off at school, wearing pants. Success! Now, I must acquire coffee.

8:50 am: Hello, Starbucks, my old friend. I’m hungry and we’re low on groceries. Let’s get a breakfast sandwich, too.

9:15 am: Back home, at my desk, ready to take on the work day. Mmm, coffee. Let’s do this.

9:15 – 11:30 am: I take a conference call, review my to-do list for the week, handle some daily tasks and get organized for my next call. Mondays are busy. I have like 12 tabs open and I need all of them. Am I forgetting anything? No? I should probably make another list, just to be sure. Lists are good.

11:45 am: I’m hungry. But why? Didn’t I just eat a breakfast sandwich?

11:46 am: Wait, did I?

11: 47am: Oh hey, there’s a breakfast sandwich in my purse.

11:55 am: Not hungry anymore. I guess that was lunch.

12:00 pm: Conference call #2. Squeeze in emails.

1:00 pm: Conference call #1. More emails.

1:30 pm: Check calendar three times to ensure I haven’t forgotten a call. Aaaand we’re good.

1:30 – 3:00 pm: Work, work, work, work, work. Write, edit, post, plan, think, consume more caffeine, congratulate self on productivity. Good job, me.

3:05 pm: Drive to school, pick up kids. They are dirty and tired and hungry. I have promised to bake cookies, so we have to do that or I’m the worst. Let’s grab another coffee on the way home. I’ll need it.

4:00 pm: One child is screaming and the other is crying. Why? Because Monday.

4:30 pm: Making cookies has never been less fun. I shove the second and final batch into the oven and then turn on cartoons SO FAST. Thank god for Wild Kratts. They’ve seen this episode at least three times and they don’t a fuck.

5:00 pm: Dinner is in the oven. The kids are shockingly quiet, since I’ve tucked them in with the nice new throw blankets that I got for Christmas. I hope they don’t wreck those…they probably will. Why can’t I have nice things?!

5:15 pm: My husband gets home and I rejoice because SOLIDARITY, right? The kids do their home reading exercises at the kitchen table and I fist pump because they actually WANT to read and are getting really, really good at it. PARENTING WIN!

5:30 pm: My daughter eats her salad and breaded fish like a champ. My son complains loudly, dramatically peels the breading off the fish before eating it, and has snap peas instead of salad because “ew”. Whatever, you ate protein and vegetables. I still win.

6:00 pm: Homemade cookies. Damn, we’re good at baking. Let’s snuggle up and watch that Mystery Files show on TVO, because everyone is tired and grumpy and baths are overrated.

7:00 pm: BEDTIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:00 pm: The kids are asleep. My mom (who lives downstairs in an in-law suite) is home for the evening. The dishes are done and the floors are swept. We should probably drop those old toys at Goodwill and get groceries and maybe swing by the bookstore because we have a shared addiction to books and books are good.

9:00 pm: I have a new book. I am happy. Let’s buy some fruit and call it a night.

10:00 pm: We’re home, with groceries and new things to read. It’s couch time, y’all! Let’s get lazy.

10:30 pm: Husband decides he is old and goes to bed.

10:45 pm: I may as well blog while I watch HGTV.

11:00 pm: I should make school lunches now. I should make them before midnight. I really should do that. That would be the smart thing to do.

11:01 pm: Hey, what’s on Food Network? This blanket really IS comfortable. I’ll make lunches later. I haven’t looked at Instagram in a few hours. Oh look, my new book is right here. Maybe I should just get my computer out for a minute…this couch is so soft. I want to paint this room. Maybe just a darker grey? Or cloud white, with lots of art, like a gallery. Let’s look at some design blogs. Wait, it’s WHAT time? It was just eleven…I should make school lunches…

Forcing myself to do what I love

It’s a new year and oh God, there is so much blank space on this screen. When did I get so bad at blogging for my own site? I write every damn day and love this tiny little corner of the Internet, where I rant and rave and pour out my feelings. And yet, for the past few months, I’ve stuck to Instagram and Twitter and, uh, work. Yeah. Now I remember why I can’t find the time to  blog. Between motherhood and full-time employment, plus side gigs, I’ve lost a lot of my personal time (and energy, if we’re really honest). But guess what? If there are resolutions to be made, I’m going to blog more, write parts of that book I’ve been trying to write for ages, force the women in my book club to READ THE DAMN BOOK and conversate about it, and all the other stuff on my list…you know, learn needlepoint and start/finish family photo album-making and take on those home organization and decor projects. Easy. Get ready for all of the winning I’m about to do!

Here’s another secret/excuse: I’ve been forcing myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour (midnight). No more 2am blogging because I’m up for no reason! As a mature adult with two kids and many jobs, I decided over six months ago to prioritize sleep, and it’s mostly worked. As in, I sleep about 5-6 hours a night – sometimes even 7 – but usually between midnight and 6 or 7am. I’m so mature and functional, it’s scary!

I still live on coffee and feel like a zombie until the caffeine hits my bloodstream, but whatever.

So here I am at 2am, blogging. What happened? Christmas holidays, dammit. My dreamy/loving husband has been getting up with the kids and letting me sleep in, which results in me feeling less exhausted and staying up to do “one more thing” or watch “just one episode of that late night talk show/The Curse of Oak Island/Dateline” (murder TV is the best TV).

And you know what? IT FEELS LIKE HOME. Sort of like a traumatic childhood that you know was bad for you, but feels comfortable because it’s all you’ve ever known? That sort of home. But cozy nonetheless.

Anyway, 2017 is here and I’m going to attempt to demonstrate adult sleep habits AND write things and be a good mom and a good professional and maybe even do all that other stuff on my very doomed to do list. Wish me luck! I’ll need it, but if you can stick with me, there’s a 70% chance it will be worth the ride.

 

The thing about bloggers who are moms.

As a copywriter, I spend my days helping clients express themselves in a way that feels natural, authentic and engaging. I write and discuss and revise until everything is just right – the perfect package, tied up in a neat little bow, ready to go off into the world. I work hard to make my clients happy because it genuinely matters to me, and I love what I do. And then I collect my paycheque, cash it out in small bills, and roll around on a bed of money because my life is basically an ’80s movie.

(Part of that was untrue.)

I also write for magazines, and love it. No matter how far we move away from print media, I still feel a rush at the sight of a hard copy article with my name on it. There’s something about a magazine or newspaper byline that feels more special than a digital one – more permanent? – and I’ll happily work on editorial projects whenever I can, no matter how busy I am with work, family, and life in general.

And then, there’s blogging, my personal outlet. I love writing, though it feels strange to say it that way. Of course I love writing – it’s what I do professionally, how I record the happiest and most impactful moments in my life, and how I comfort myself in hard times. It’s therapy and freedom. I write letters to my children, my friends, the world. I capture snapshots of my life and emotions in scribbled messages in notebooks, or captions under a photograph. I read articles and books and feel my heart swell with the desire to write my own narratives. Any writer will tell you that this is not a job or a hobby; it’s a compulsion. I never stop writing, because I cannot stop writing, and would never want to.

So why do I suck so much at updating my blog? I don’t have a lack of inspiration or stories to share, or any sort of anxiety about what people may think about me. There’s nothing ominous lurking in the background, giving me anxiety or even thoughtful pause. But oh my god, kids. I have kids. And that’ll do it.

Mommyblogger is a phrase that I hear often and mostly hate. I’m a writer, and I have a blog, so I’m a blogger, I guess…and a mom. That always comes first. I blog about my kids, in a deliberately vague sense, and more often, I blog about being a mom…among other things. Can I not just be a writer? Like, a human writer with a family and a life and an interest in many things? I don’t need to cutesy label anymore than Beyonce needs to be a Mommy-Singer or Sheryl Sandberg is a (Bad-ass) Mommy-CEO. And yes, I’m clearly on that level.

Anyway, back to why I suck, and blaming my kids.

My days are long and busy and punctuated by a to-do list that never ends. I work full-time, manage my household, co-chair school council, volunteer when I can, and attempt to have a social life, among other things. I barely sleep and can’t remember the last time I ate a meal uninterrupted, got my nails done or sat quietly and read a book (unless you count on the train to work). Which is to say that I’m a normal mother of young children, and live a totally average, typical mom-life.

So hats off to the writers who make it happen, publishing not only for work but for themselves on a regular basis. You clearly have your shit together better than I do, and I bow down. I may be able to Instagram the hell out of my days, but when it comes to writing more than a caption, HOW IS THERE TIME? I find it sometimes, at midnight or 1am, when the space around me is finally silent and undemanding. But more often, I feel these moments just beyond my grasp, and the words stay locked away until they fade into the recesses of my mind. I like to think I have a brilliant project tucked in the back of my memory, waiting to be pieced together after about five years of catch-up sleep.

So writers, bloggers, moms and dads, everyday people who have their shit together and make it all seem so organic and seamless – keep on kicking my ass. Maybe one day I’ll join you, but for now, expect more of my trademark binge-posting-then-silence pattern while I scribble in notebooks and write novels in my head as I fall asleep. These locked away missives will be out in the world one day, I know…probably after the kids graduate college, or if I go to jail. Is jail an option? I’m thinking I’d get more sleep there, too.

 

Aaaaand scene.

This is real life with my 5 year old daughter (the bean). Context: I recently got a terrible sunburn across my back and shoulders – the first I’ve had in a decade, probably – and she had just fallen on a wet rock in our front garden, skinning her knee.

Bean: Ugh, I wish I could make scabs happen.

Me: What?

Bean: It stings so bad! But it will feel fine when it scabs, and I wish it was a scab now.

Me: Ahh, got it. Yeah, well, wait a day or so and you’ll get your scab. We have bandaids in the meantime.

Bean: You know what would be great? If I could use the pieces of skin that are peeling off your sunburn and stick it on my knee and make a scab right now.

Me: …with my skin?

Bean: Yes.

Me: …that’s among the grossest things you’ve ever said.

Bean: It would work! I’d just stick your peely skin on my knee and it would be like a scab but right away. Can we do that?

Me: No. I’m gagging.

Bean: It’s a good idea, Mom.

Me: Actually, here’s a medical thing called skin grafting that is sort of similar to that, I guess. Like, you take a thin layer of skin off your butt or leg or wherever and cover the damaged part of your body with it. Like if you were in a fire and had a serious burn.

Bean: What!?! THAT is gross. Does it hurt? THEY USE SKIN FROM YOUR BUTT?

Me: Sometimes, but a doctor does it and I think the person is asleep. Frozen, at least. We are not doing that, by the way.

Bean: Wow.

Me: Do you want a bandaid?

Bean: Yeah. I do.

Oh, What a World

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a post I wrote several weeks ago and left incomplete. I wanted to add a sense of hope and a call to action, honestly, but got stuck. It’s been sitting in my drafts for a while, and I think it’s time to let it go and publish it. I still have no answers, but at least I’m talking. Bear with me!

. . .

Oh hey there you, it’s been a while. Summertime, and the living is easy, right? Except not at all, because the kids are off school and work is really busy and I am a woman, not a machine. Please, send coffee (and a housekeeper).

Is it just me, or has the world gone crazy lately? Yeah, I’m jumping right into that. THERE IS NO TIME FOR SMALL TALK, FRIENDS. And no, it’s not just me, though it’s easy to feel alone when any time you hear or read the news, you end up yelling inside until your guts ache. Fun fact: when you yell out loud on a regular basis, you’re “crazy”, and nobody listens. If you yell on the inside, you’ll stress yourself sick. And if you simply push your head into the sand and ignore everything that’s going on, you’re blissfully unaware – but your apathy will kill others like me, slowly but surely, because quite frankly: if you aren’t helping to solve a problem in society, you’re contributing to it.

Wow, that got dark fast.

I do this thing where I stay up really late, by myself, reading or watching late night television until my eyes burn or the clock hits an outrageous number that forces me to bed. It’s the impossible goal of postponing the next day, ripe with responsibility and the unknown. And lately, the unknown has felt a little awful. Sure, I wake up in a lovely house with a beautiful family. We have food in the fridge and cars in the driveway, friends we can call, and plenty to be thankful for. But looking outside the safety of my bubble, it’s madness.

There has always been political unrest around the globe, but most times, it’s seemed far away. Close enough to make us care, but not so close that we think much about the effect on our own communities. We feel genuine empathy and donate money or volunteer, and then we go back to our safe, warm beds and turn on Netflix. But as weeks and months go on, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pretend that nothing is happening.

Recent tragedies abroad have broken my heart. France is but one of many countries affected by a horrific act of terrorism, taking innocent lives and leaving a permanent mark on so many lives. And do you want to get me started about refugees? Probably not, unless you’re ready for a long, sad diatribe about how nobody cares and humanity is falling apart. Not exactly light summer conversation, I know. But the truth hurts, and so does my heart.

Taking in all of the happiness in my world, I worry so often that it is fleeting. Furthermore, I feel a constant, low buzz of guilt knowing how much (white, middle class, Canadian) privilege I truly have, and that I’ll never truly understand the suffering that others face on a daily basis.

So I enjoy the little things – sunny days, swimming in the lake, ice cream with my kids, a long walk with my husband, stupid articles on the internet, my job, a great book, my comfortable bed and safe home – and I try to breathe.

I’ll stop, and take it all in, and appreciate it. But I won’t stop thinking about the rest of them. I can’t – and I hope I’m not alone. Because France and Syria and Libya may seem distant and surreal, but America is only only a stone’s throw away, and that shit is going down whether we like it or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resume of a Three Year Old Boy

Profile: Charming, handsome and precocious male child with over three years of experience in human existence. Sweet, outgoing, very smart, and prone to occasional bursts of rage. The Boy is extremely capable in all aspects of art, music, physical activity, humour, and snack food negotiation.

Highlight of Skills:

  • Able to recite ABCs, count to 20 using mostly correct numbers, write name, and perform a vaguely-inappropriate, music video inspired dance to ‘Uptown Funk’
  • Proven ability to sleep in on school days (but not weekends)
  • Exceptional selective hearing; independent leader and free-thinker (possible anarchist)
  • Excellent capabilities in grandparent manipulation, particularly in the areas of extended bedtimes, television exposure and sugar consumption
  • Highly capable in Timbit acquisition from a variety of sources (see: excellence in unapproved sugar consumption)
  • Innovative (see: using t-shirt as napkin, using napkin as hat, etc)
  • Confident (see: thinking he can swim/fly/drive a car, etc)
  • Encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs, reptiles, sharks and some mammals (“the good ones”)
  • Outstanding conversation skills; demonstrated ability to project voice across rooms, public spaces and/or entire provinces, regardless of appropriateness
  • Experience in one-on-one sibling combat; skilled in provocation and takedown (conflict resolution skills emerging – beginner level)
  • Exceeds expectations for cuteness, hilarity, affection, and amount of physical injuries to self/parents (see: two sets of stitches by age two; mild facial injuries to mother)

Education:

  • Attended preschool; not expelled (yay!)
  • Completed several extracurricular programs; only kicked out of one sports class for fighting (moderate success?)
  • Watches lots of Little Einsteins (must count for something)

Work Experience:

  • Has done nothing to earn his keep, ever, really
  • Will perform menial tasks in exchange for snack foods

References:

  • Depending on the day, parents may oblige
  • Same goes for friends
  • Grandparents are probably your best bet (see: manipulation)

Hello, 32

it is your birthday

It’s the eve of my 32nd birthday – but no, wait! It’s after midnight now, so really, it IS my birthday. And here I sit, alone on the couch, wrapping up an assignment at nearly 3:00 am. There is an empty can of coke on the side table to my left, and my hair is ‘styled’ into the same top-bun that is always is when I’m staring into my laptop. Honestly. Has much changed since I turned 22 a decade ago?

Well, yes and no. I still love writing, live music, art, travel, adventures, and coffee. I still sleep terribly, cry easily, drink too much caffeine. I still leave my clean clothes heaped in a pile near my closet, but not in my closet. I’m with the same person (married now, and with two children) and I like him just as much as I did, most days. I’m getting paid more and writing less for free, but I’m not exactly living the high life yet. I assume that will happen sometime in the next six months, because that’s when EVERYTHING happens in my imagination. Oh, the future me, so attractive and successful – you’re always right around the corner! It’s good to have goals.

Obviously, a lot has changed. I’m a mother and a (semi)functioning adult member of society with a house, a minivan and a responsibility to be out of bed before noon. I love the first part so much, and will forever hate the last part.

(My daughter has inherited my love of sleeping in, but my son has yet to discover the joy. COME ON, KID. Catch up to the rest of us so we can be lazy AS A FAMILY.)

I have many of the same friendships, though some of my closest loved ones are far away at the moment.

I have many of the same goals, personally and professionally, though I’ve achieved far more than I give myself credit for, when I make myself think about it.

I’m still anxious, emotional, and obsessed with all of my minor and major regrets.

But I’m still hopeful, ambitious, loyal, and filled with love.

I’m definitely going to be tired in the morning, and my son is showing signs of (another) (goddamn) ear infection. It may not be the same birthday as it would have been ten years ago – in fact, it definitely won’t be – but it will be a good one. I’m going to get up early because I have to, work even though I’d rather be napping, and probably get yelled at by my beloved children for ridiculous offences such as offering them the wrong pants. THE WRONG PANTS, again, how dare I hand them weather appropriate clothing? I’m clearly a monster.

In conclusion: happy birthday to me. I’m going to try to squeeze in a mani-pedi, but if not, whatever. I already have everything I need.

 

 

Sometimes you take a break; other times you break a little

There is a lot I could write about right now, at 2:00 in the morning on a school night, when I’ve finally cracked open this page and typed words into the screen. A lot has happened since my last post – when was that, anyway? not recently – but honestly, it all seems too big to tackle right now. An adult-parent divorcing their spouse, critical life and career choices, the sudden death of a much-loved friend. It’s all hovering in the back of my mind at all times, waiting to be talked out and written about. And yet, right now, I’m tired, or not there yet, or both. Maybe I’m tired because I’m not there yet, and the idea of putting my feelings into words is still overwhelming. I don’t know. (It could also be because I never sleep, and my brain is in a constant state of fatigue that can only be fought with the venti-est of caffeinated beverages. Does Starbucks sell IV-drips, yet? Well, JUST GIVE THEM TIME.)

But on writing – a part of me has probably been procrastinating to protect my own mental health, knowing that some hills are too high to climb until you’re ready. Anything I would have written over the past few weeks would have felt inauthentic, knowing that my heart and mind were elsewhere. Sure, I could have banged out a few half-assed paragraphs about the crazy shit my kids are doing – they are never NOT doing crazy shit – but it didn’t matter. Not to me, not at that moment. Of course, the kids always matter – but I wasn’t up for taking a funny spin on poop-disaster stories and the other indignities of mom life.

So what brought me back here? Well, two things.

1: I took a four day vacation to visit my brother in northern Ontario, along with my sister. We hiked until our limbs nearly fell off in protest, we drank bad caesars (and later, delicious ones), we talked and laughed, and then slept in for hours. I feel recharged, and somewhat recovered, even if I was deluged with calls and emails the second my plane hit the tarmac back in Toronto. Thanks, reality. And also…

2. I saw a headline I was interested in reading, and clicked the link, and it led to a podcast. I hate podcasts, so naturally, the raging writer in me burst forth. DAMN YOU, PODCASTS. I just wanted to read words on a screen, not listen to a full-length radio show! Do you know how much effing commitment a podcast is? Seriously. And now you know what my next post is going to be about, maybe. (Actually, it’s what THIS post was going to be about, before I tried to explain my absence and delved into the emotional rabbit hole that ALWAYS opens up under me. DAMN YOU, FEELINGS.)

So it’s a new day in many ways, and back to the grind in others. Let’s see how long I can last before I break again, in the way life tends to break me, if only a little bit. And soon: podcasts, aka, UNREADABLE SPOKEN WORD THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T READ ON YOUR PHONE OR SKIM BEFORE BED OR REALLY DO ANYTHING WITH UNLESS YOU HAVE 45 SOLID MINUTES TO DEVOTE TO THAT SHIT, seriously, it’s like radio mixed with internet but disguised as typed-word articles, always, just to fuck with me. Why are they so popular? Am I this old and lame? Am I even allowed on this internet thing? Someone bring me a thick paper storybook that smells of dust and pine, and I’ll be happy forevermore.

sea lion