Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh my God! Has it seriously been almost two months since I updated this blog? Wow. It must be because I have been sooo busy living this absolutely fabulous life that is just brimming with things to do and see a la important hipster moms like Gwynneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney .


Actually, it's been because my priorities just haven't been straight. And I got swept up in that time-and-energy-suck known as "the holidays". And really, how many surveys can I possibly do? But the last couple of days, so much has happened that I feel I could blog about, though everyone else is so why add more to the cacaphony of critique out there on Tiger Mom (I get the no sleep-over, high expectations part; not so down with the name-calling but I haven't read the book, just an article. And we all know the media never conveniently leaves anything out in the name of a good story.) or The Most Amazing Press Release Ever Written which I'm so mad I didn't think of first. Though frankly, even if I had thought of it, I probably wouldn't get around to it in time to actually exploit it before someone else did anyway.

Which brings me to Resolutions 2011. So, I'm a big goal person - not that you can tell from this blog, I know. But here's a secret about me: when I was in university, I wrote down everything I wanted to accomplish before I was 30 - everything from degrees I wanted to jobs I wanted to how much money I was going to make to how many kids I was going to have to where I was going to travel. And I accomplished every single thing on my list. Every single one. And then I petered out. I had my two kids and decided to stay home for awhile and lost all motivation once I found myself pregnant with number three. And I wouldn't trade them for anything, but if my twenties were all about achievement! success! me!, then my thirties so far have been all about diapers! sleep training! them! I've got a few years until I'm forty but girlfriend needs to PREPARE for that by getting up to speed here. So I've decided to make some goals again because well, why not? Some are too personal to put out there into the blogosphere (because I am not all about that overshare that has been facillitated by things like blogs and facebook and twitter. Really, boundaries are important - crucial even - to a healthy self-esteem, I'd argue), but here's a couple I'm working on...

1. Actually lose that f'n ten pounds. I am fatter than I was nine months into breastfeeding my third baby. That is just unacceptable. I want to be energetic and healthy and keep up with my kids! Oh bull. I want to be hot. I want to be a hot mom, a cougar even, in a few years. So what? Vanity can be a great motivator for a lot of things and I never claimed to be all that deep. I will inform you that I worked out three times last week and FOUR already this week and week's not over yet. I want to be my goal weight before my annual checkup in April and surprise my doctor, who's fantastic and always tells me how great I look so I don't know why I have made this deadline. I think I just want the magic number on my chart. And goals have to be measurable and have a deadline so there you go.

2. Organize my basement. I've actually already finished this but I get motivated when I see results so I'm putting it in. It's an ongoing thing as with five people we tend to accumulate a lot of crap but for now, I can get into all my storage areas and see the floor. This is what I have spent the last couple of weeks on and I am going to go ahead and cross it off my list and bathe in the afterglow of a goal accomplished so quickly. Ahhhh....

3. Use the library more. I buy too many books. I have a library card - the greatest invention ever. I should read more library books. Today I maxed
out the number of books I'm allowed to order, which kind of pissed me off but at least I'm making headway!

4. Get some paid work. I'm getting over volunteering for bullshit nonprofits that don't even build houses in Haiti or cure cholera in Haiti or boost Haiti's economic rating. I have an impressive resume and a solid education. It's time I went back to profiting from it.

5. Less food porn, more real life food. If I cooked and baked as much as I read about cooking and baking, I would have been the one to start Smitten Kitchen or Dinner with Julie (only it would be called Dinner with Irene or some such thing) and then I'd be accompishing two goals at once.

6. Update my blog more often. So what if I only have two real followers whom I speak to on the phone at least four times a week. It's good practice. It can't hurt. I think I've almost beat my last record so that's a start.

So, that's it friends, the stuff I'm willing to share publicly anyway. How about you? What are your resolutions for 2011? Do you make them? Do you believe writing shit down and putting it out to the universe a la The Secret or this potentially mythical Harvard University study actually makes a difference?

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Survey time again!

Well, I know I have not been posting regularly and I already feel guilty enough about that, but the thing is, it's cold. I've been in self-imposed exile for the last week going out only when absolutely necssary (which mostly means school runs). Of course, I should have updated by now seeing as I've been home for, like, literally 168 hours now. But my lighting fixtures needed dusting. And there were so many magazines to clear out. And it's hard to feel inpired sometimes. So, time for another survey! I guess they're like my version of witing prompts. This one comes to us from the December issue of Chatelaine , a Canadian general interest mag for women. Jessalyn Gilsig was the original interviwee - she plays crazy Terry on Glee, but has also had stints on other beloved, cancelled-too-soon shows like Boston Public and Heroes. Let's begin!

What is the last great book you read?
Great? That's intimidating. I haven't read anything by Nabokov or Dickens lately, but the last pretty decent book I read was Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O-Neill, a Montrealer. I had mixed feelings about it. I loved the references to Montreal, having spent 6 weeks there on a university exchange program (where I barely learned any French but had a really, really good time). Many of the streets her 12-year-old heroine roams I, too, roamed, only I was 20 and not aware that they were skizzy, only that they had good bars and cheap food. It took me forever to get into the book, but I did think about it a lot after I was finished. She captures the voice of a jaded tween who deserves better pretty well. Mostly, it made me sad and impatient with my children's whining - like seriously, kids! Dad and I don't do heroine and you don't have to prostitute yourselves for a new pair of socks. Ungrateful, much?!

What's on your bedside table?
Alarm clock, lamp, basket with handcream, ear plugs and a sleep mask (I am a light sleeper, ok?), and about 10 books that constitute my "To Read" pile. They're all fiction or memoir. I have to read for awhile before I go to bed, but it has to be fiction or memoir. Non-fiction, science or psych books stimulate me too much.

What part of theworld is next on your list?
I really want to go to Spain. Beautiful people, architecture, food and sea. Having hauled my kids through most of Canada, Arizona, and Greece, I'd kind of like to take them on a strictly kiddie adventure to Disneyland, too. Even though I vowed I wouldn't be that mom, now I just think they'd have fun. One of my other resolutions is to try not to politicise every single thing they enjoy.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Um, probably self-imposed exile when the temperatures go below -25. It's the one benefit of not having a job.

What is your favourite comfort food?
Any pasta. Carbs are a necessity in this cold, barren land. And chocolate. I think I may actually try to find a recipe for chocolate pasta - can you imagine?!

Who has been the most influential figure for you?
Isn't everyone's mother the most influential person on them? I mean, good, bad, present, absent, aren't we all shaped most by our mothers' unconditional love and acceptance or lack thereof? You'd think I'd take my job of raising young children more seriously!

Who do you consider a misunderstood historical figure?
With Christmas around the corner, I'm going to say the big JC himself. I'd be really curious to hear his thoughts on how his philosophizing has shaped the Western world, and through colonization, the entire world. My second choice would be his mom Mary. I'd be curious to know how she dealt with the knowledge that her son was going to have to die this horrific death and whether she's comfortable with her image as the ideal, docile mother-figure. It would be interesting to hear her own voice and see if maybe there's an edge there after all.

Which words do you most overuse?
My two followers can likely answer this, but it's "Whatever" followed by an eye roll and sigh. It's the penultimate coversation-stoppr because it has no retort. I'm trying to expand my vocab since the middle child is now using it far too much. With me.

Who or what makes you laugh the hardest?
Husband's sarcasm, BOF's clownishness, my girlfriends, people falling down (as long as they aren't really hurt), sneezes, farts and Modern Family.

Which gadget could you never give up?
I am now firmly addicted to my blackberry. I know iphones are cooler with apps and stuff but all my BFFS are on blackberries and that's more important to me. We can PIN eachother during volunteer meetings where people get stupid, during The Vampire Diaries and whenever we have an inane thought or question we'd like to share. It's like having coffee with my peeps 24/7.

What's the most exciting part of your job? What's the most tedious?
I feel like I have 14 jobs, none of which are lucrative. The most exciting part is when there's uber gossip through one of my volunteer gigs that I can spread. That's fun! The most tedious is the lunch-making. It exhausts me.

What is the worst piece of advice you've been given?
Wear stir-up pants - from a magazine - in 1985. I realize they're back in style but they really shouldn't be. Not. Flattering. On. Anyone. Also, my own advice to myself post-partum the first two times that all I really needed to look better was a new haircut. Stupid. I just looked fat with bad hair instead of fat with good hair I could volumize to balance out the curves.

What song do you sing in the shower?
"Cold November Rain" or "Sweet Child of Mine" by GnR. I can really channel Axl's pathos in the shower.

Who or what do you live for?
Pretty much everyone else, but working on it!

I'm wondering specifically which historical character you think is misunderstood. Let me know. Please. So I can feel like someone out there is reading this...

Friday, October 29, 2010


So, with 3 kids around here, Halloween has become kind of a big deal. But I have to ask, when did this one night of gluttonous semi-organized childhood beseeching for candy become a money-sucking week-long festival of greed celebrating all the bad things about capitalism? The intricate costumes, the 14 parties, the hoochie teen girls (and women well beyond the hoochie stage but letting it all hang out - literally - anyway)the over-the-top decorations. It's a little much for what used to be Christmas' plainer stepsister. It's like she's trying too hard to fit into the glass slipper and we're all paying for it.

When I was a kid, oh so long ago, Halloween was still a big deal for us kids, but the intercultural conflicts with my parents dulled the day. There was no pumpkin carving, no apple-bobbing, except maybe at school, and even trick-or-treating the first few years was a bit of a political stand-off between me and the rents. Having left an impoverished country with nothing but their honour, they could not get their heads around their middle-class child begging strangers for candy - and neighbours no less! Where they came from, begging was your last resort when you were too hungry to care about your pride. To their credit, they eventually got on board and allowed my brother and me to go around our block with our older cousins, who had fought and won that battle with their own parents a few years before us.

Oh, how I coveted the princess costumes, the Marie Osmond filmy satin dresses, those adorable home-made pumpkin costumes. My mother caved and bought me a plastic Wonder Woman Costume in kindergarten, which I was forced to wear for three years in a row, even though it was literally plastic - like flammable - with a hard plastic mask I could barely see out of, let alone breathe out of properly. But I knew better than to complain. The beautiful costumes were for the beautiful girls and I made do with my plastic Woolco costume until I was 8 and it split down the middle when I tried to wear it for our afternoon Halloween Parade at school. My butt's always been my problem area.

Devestated, I cried - oh, how I cried. I refused to go to school without a costume because I knew I would be made to sit in the library with the Jehovah's Witness kids who didn't celebrate anything. This was, after all, the early 80s when we still said the Lord's Prayer in class and when Muslim boys were Wisemen in the Christmas plays. We weren't quite so enlightened then, having orange-and-black parties instead of Halloween parties. Anyway, my father, home for lunch, improvised for me afer seeing my devestation. He found an old polyester maternity dress of my mother's and wrapped one of his belts around the middle. He took a couple of my mother's curlers and put them askew in my hair. He then proceeded to rub his fingers in some of the leftover ash in the ashtray that sat perpetually on the kitchen table in front of his chair, and then smudged it onto my nose and under my eyes.

"There!" he said, obviously proud of his ingenuity, a trait he no doubt refined ducking into fox traps on his way to school during Greece's civil war. "You can go to school as a battered housewife!"

This was 1981, a good three years before Farrah Fawcett's starring turn in "The Burning Bed" brought the horrors of domestic abuse to light for millions of North Americans. This was a good 10 years before the raising of my own feminist consciousness. This seemed like a great idea - a home-made costume! A chance to go to the party!

I proudly paraded through my elementary school and noticed only a few raised eyebrows when I would enthusiastically explain my costume to the teachers who asked what I was. Thank God we were out of film for the Polaroid and there is no photographic evidence.

It was a simpler time, a time when we were truly grateful for the dredges of our immigrant parents' attention to our desires.

Flashforward to now. My kids have also never had a hand-made costume, unless it was one passed down to them from a craftier friend. The baby is going as Woody from "Toy Story" and though I suspect his costume is still quite flamable, at least it's fabric and fits him. The first born had several good years as the princess of her dreams - a different princess every year, no less. This year she is going as a "cute" ladybug, which means ladybug costume with lipstick and painted nails, signs of the hoochie just waiting to come out in a few years' time. Middle child is trick-or-treating as a peacekeeper - we prefer that to "army killer guy." He chose to go to school as a punk rock vampire because the peacekeeper costume with no weapons just wouldn't do. So, at lunch today, I lined his eyes with black eyeliner, gave him black lips, gelled his hair blue and stuck a paper clip to his earlobe. He looked like a way prettier version of Robert Smith from The Cure. We improvised because it was last minute and had to use stuff like ripped jeans and a plain black T-shirt since I'm not the kind of mom who will drop her plans for morning coffee with friends to go buy a second Halloween costume just to make her kid happy. But he was pleased and proud and got loads of compliments on his goth look.

So, maybe there's more of my dad in me than I thought.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Oh, I am so tired today. It was snowing after being 23 degrees yesterday and therefore my body is kind of messed up. I seem to be partial to mood swings during freaky weather changes (or so I say, but I'm kind of always bitchy). But one of my followers is also a good friend and has been ever-so-gently inquiring (read - nagging) as to whether I have updated my blog yet. It's kind of funny that she's pushing so hard since everything I'm going to write she has already probably heard, but that is a good friend for you.

Since I'm kind of spent from a family soccer game in the basement during which I incured 4 injuries and Middle Child about ten (amazingly Spouse and Daughter came out scott-free, but that's because they just don't play with the same heart. BOF prematurely fell asleep, in case you're wondering, which means I have a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call to look forward to!), I'm just going to do another survey I found in our local city magazine that features all the hipsters about town. I have a love-hate relationship with this mag. I enjoy catching up on the trends and arts scene I left behind so long ago. I hate that I'm running out of time to make their annual 40 under 40 list, and I hate that I hate that. But anyway, since I'll never actually be asked for an interview on my innate coolness, I'm going to pretend this post is really an email from an editor there and fulfill my posting duties for the weekend (will that get you off my back, Snarky Sister? xoxo).

Vodka. It's a mommy's best friend! Because the kids aren't supposed to be able to smell it on your breath! But experience tells me otherwise! Followed quite closely by red wine. The cheaper the better so I don't feel guilty using it as a crutch.

This blog isn't so long yet that you can't catch up. Obviously from last post I don't get out much, though I really did enjoy a little Italian place we went to on our biannual date night (and the bar after? totally lame. I so don't miss being an insecure 20 year old. I just wanted to hug them all and tell them, "Sweethearts, you are so not fat right now. Stop being so hung up on your body and whether everyone is looking at you and finding you sexy and just go have a freaking good time before you breed." Seriously, aging has its privileges and not giving a shit what most people are thinking is one of them!). Most of the time when we go out, it's a toss up between our regular Greek place or our regular Italian place. That's when we're not going somewhere that gives us free crayons and a placemat we can decorate, of course.

Is there such a thing as alternative anymore? Does that even exist now? Because it did in the nineties, but most of the groups that fell under that category are now flippin' millionires. And dance. And retro. And rock. But given that Daughter has taken over the music selection these days, we listen to a lot of tween stuff and radio edits, though I am very proud to say that my girl "hates" Justin Bieber. She is so cool! (Way cooler than me because I totally went to the NKOB concert last year.)

You already know I'm lame so I'm just going to admit that it's "Careless Whisper" by George Michael while he was still technically with Wham! It just brings out the junior high neurotic in me.

I'm a girl so I like chocolate.

I'm not superficial so I don't much care about that kind of thing.


Oh, way too many to name but some that come to mind quickly are Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, and Vikram Seth's A Beautiful Boy. Yes, these are all Indian books. No, I don't do yoga nor do I have much desire to go to India (too sad, too sad), but I love a good epic story about people who really never win and will just suffer until they die, and the cathartic tears that follow.

I can only wear one fragrance that does not give me a headache and that is "Pleasures" by Estee Lauder. I hate the name (it's kind of icky) but when I'm dead, a whiff of this will remind my husband and sons of me. I will make sure to spray it in every drawer in the house if I am ever terminally ill to ensure they properly honour my memory with enough tears and remorse and my bitchy daughters-in-law don't get too smug over my demise.

Online. I can browse to my heart's content.

My sister-in-law's. She's a craftster and a photographer and she ups my cool quotient a tonne because I can't really name any modern artists and I don't want to say something lame again like Monet or Degas (even though I had a tonne of prints of their stuff that I used to buy in this store called Athena way back in the day).

Oh, well I love Gucci and LAMB's cool and Valentino's a classic, obviously, and I think Marc Jacobs is just the bomb. But mostly I slum it at the Gap.

My engagement and wedding rings. Because dammit, I EARNED those.

I guess the benefit of not actually being asked by the hipster mag to fill out the survey is that I'm obviously not limited to a word count. I have also come to the conclusion that aside from having children, this blog is the most self-centered and egotistical project I've ever undertaken.

Happy Friday to those of you who can distinguish workdays from weekends!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Hey, two followers!

So it's almost 5 p.m. My wonderful sister-in-law will be here shortly to watch my children so that my husband and I can get around to celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary, which happened at the end of August. Weekly Date Night? Try Biannual Feel-Guilty-That-We've-Been-Ignoring-One-Another/Some-Major-Milestone-Passed-Unnoticed Night. Good thing we're secure in our undying love for one another.

I'm just so darn excited about a grown-up meal in a childfree restaurant that has an actual wine list. We may even meet up with our cooler (younger) friends at a trendy bar for drinks afterwards. This hasn't happened since two kids ago, right around 2003! Together I mean. We go out with our own friends all the time but with the ongoing childcare issues, babysitting is usually reserved for weddings or mandatory events. The last time I went to a bar, the appropriate attire was black dress pants and a dressy shirt. I don't think they're even called dress pants and dressy shirts anymore. And when I say I go out with my friends all the time, I mean the neigbourhood pub if we're feeling adventurous, but usually mid-day coffee, kids in tow.

While I should be upstairs getting ready, I'm like downtown deprived these days and kind of paralyzed by the appropriate dress code. Do I wear the leopard-print dress or the zebra one (and before any cougar jokes start, let's just say there's a reason spots aren't one of the animal trends this year)? Or is it jeans and a nice (not dressy) top? Red lipstick or my usual gloss-and-go? New haircut - will it curl well or should I wear it straight? Decisions, decisions.

I'm sure my husband will be delighted to see me in something other than sweats and a stained tank top, but when you only "date" twice a year, there's just as much pressure as if it was the third date with a new guy you are really into: "Remember why you love me? Remember when I was fun and pretty and you thought I was witty and determined rather than a bitchy nag? Those were good times!"

I read in some book about happiness once that some study found that the couples who tended to make it to their 50th anniversaries weren't necessarily any more in love with one another than those who divorced. They just realized that no one's perfect, and though their spouse pissed them off sometimes, they knew that someone else would probably piss them off too - and maybe over heavier stuff. So essentially, the secret to a good marriage is resignation. That's fantastic because we're both really good at being resigned to things.

So, now I have to go try to get all dolled up while Middle Child is whigning and shoving a new beach ball from a goody bag he got today in my face to blow up, and BOF is tearing the heads of his sister's polly pockets, and Daughter is trying to convince me to let her try trimming her own bangs. But would I trade these crazy kids and their chaos for anything else? Um, I'll let you know in about 20 years. That's when I'll know if my investment of time and money in them has paid off.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving people!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hit Me Baby, One More Time

So, as my one follower can attest to, I have started and failed to follow through on blogs before. My last effort was valiant - go through my junior high journals, post my entries in all their inanity, and then comment on them as an adult. It was all going so well until I lost track of the pseudonyms I had created and was too lazy to create a character key. That and I now have a kid (let's call her Daughter) who is soon going to be in junior high herself and frankly, living it through her is likely going to be enough. I don't need to dwell on my own personal teenage hell when a fresh one awaits.

So, how to begin this new one? Well, currently I'm helping a friend with a political campaign, and the latest survey we got from one of the local papers is just too much fun to resist answering. I've always wanted to be important enough to be asked to fill out a survey about myself or be interviewed and this will just have to do. So here we go!

1. It's Sunday Morning - what are you having for breakfast?
When I'm a good mom, chocolate chip pancakes I've made for the troops. When I'm a lazy and/or hungover mom, cereal. Maybe a toasted waffle to get them off my back.

2. If you didn't do what you do for a living, what would you do?
Hmm...well, I was formerly a senior communications manager for a large public broadcaster and now I`m a SAHM of 3 who basically subsidizes the government, public schools and several non-profits through their exploitation of my unpaid labour. So, if I wasn`t already semi-retired and volunteering more hours than I used to get paid for, I`d probably actually go back to my old job.

3. Who`s your hero?
My late father-in-law because he was literally the kindest, sweetest, most self-sacrificing guy ever and an example of how far I have to go in my personal development.

4. What`s one DVD you had to buy?
One? Err...I`m not great at self-restraint. Off the top of my head, I`d say I ``had`` to buy Scarface, Sound of Music, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, and E.T. And that`s not including the ones produced in the last 20 years that I ``had`` to buy to stop someone`s whining at the grocery store.

5. Dogs or Cats?

6. What`s playing on your Ipod right now?
Podcasts from our local university station`s candidate interviews. `Cause I`m deep like that.

7. If you could see one concert, what would it be?
Wham! reunited. As if that wouldn`t be wicked.

8. What`s your favourite meal?
Anything someone else took the time and energy to make for me.

9. What`s your culinary specialty?
I`m Greek. I make good lamb.

10. How do you take your Tim Horton`s?
Double-double. I`m a glutton.

11.Who`s the funniest person you know?
My youngest (heretofore referred to as the baby of the family or BOF for short) who will be the guy with the lampshade on his head at the party in a few years. He also kind of looks like Beaker from the muppets which in itself makes him funny.

12.What`s your dream car?
A pumpkin that turns into a carriage.

13. What`s the one thing you haven`t done that you`d love to do?
Maintain a blog for more than 6 posts.

14. If we`re buying, you`re having...
Coffee. I`ll buy my own lobster and have no obligation to you, thank you very much.

15. What are your words to live by?
Life`s not fair - sometimes you get the shaft and sometimes you get way more than you deserve. It usually all balances out.

I`ll leave you on that deep note.