Monday, December 29, 2008


It was a clear, crisp evening. The sun had just set, and the wind had dropped, and the night air was calling for us to go out.

It was a few days before Christmas so we toured the neighbourhood, boots crunching in the snow, and checked out the Christmas lights on people's houses. We held hands, we skipped, we sang "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" at the tops of our lungs and laughed at how loud it sounded. We stopped and chatted with a neighbour shovelling his driveway, and another, heading out on a night-time cross-country ski session. We made odd-shaped dents in snowbanks by sitting on them.

When we turned the last corner before our street, we were looking into the deep indigo of the western sky. Venus and Jupiter were blazing diamonds surrounded by a dusting of stars. We stopped and looked for a moment. It was magical. We talked about stars and planets, and the differences between them.

Leah: Which one is Jupiter and which one is Venus?

Me: The higher, brighter one is Venus. The one lower and to the right is Jupiter. We can't see Jupiter very often from Earth without a telescope.

Leah: How do you know those are planets and not stars?

Me: The planets are bigger and brighter, because they're closer. And they don't twinkle like stars do.

Leah: Venus is so beautiful.

Me: Isn't it.

Rachel: Venus creeps me out.

Me: Why???

Rachel: Because it rhymes with penis.

Me: . . .

I wonder if Emily Dickinson's mum ever had days like that.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Homes Tour 2008 (I'm in it for the kettle corn)

When Jen first suggested that we throw a virtual open house to show off our Christmas decorating, I was a bit dubious, but threats gentle persuasion worked, so, please, come on in and help yourself to some virtual eggnog and virtual Christmas cookies. They're very good.

First, here is the external decor:

I'd like to say I'm responsible for the lovely snowy look, but I have to give credit to my exterior decorators. Perhaps you've heard of them: Mother Nature and Old Man Winter?

Wait, I did do the elf on the door:

Come on in. Now we're in the front hall and looking at the bookcase, which is usually in the living room, but makes its annual pilgrimage to the hall to make way for the tree. These stuffed animal ornaments are usually hung on the tree, but it's a smaller tree this year, so they are sitting up here to greet guests.

(Sorry for the darkness of the photos, I was taking them without the flash, as the flash was making everything look all washed out. Photography is not one of my many talents. Unlike, say, Microsoft Paint.)

Here is where the stockings hang:

Yeah, my colour palette in the living room is more suited to Halloween than Christmas, but what are you gonna do? Here are some close ups of things on the mantle.

The Nativity Scene. As is traditional around here, one of the shepherds needed his feet glued on again.

Here is my Mexican Nativity Scene, a Christmas gift from my friend Evelyn when we were in San Diego together. I love that it has a llama in it.

Here is the Christmas village my mum gave me this summer:

And finally, the tree:

So, thank you all for coming, it was lovely to have you over. Don't forget your gloves, it's cold out there. Bye!




Die, tiny ceramic humans! Feel the sting of my paw! I will bat you all over the edge of the abyss! I will crush the one you call Claus beneath the raw power of my glutes. Bring me tuna or face the annihilation of all you hold precious.

(Merry Christmas from the Evil Ninja Assassin Cat.)


Head on over to Jen's for links to other blogs holding open houses today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This is how I know I don't wear make-up very often

Last night. Me swooping down to give the girls a kiss goodnight before leaving them with a babysitter and going to a Christmas party:

Leah: You look pretty, Mum.

Rachel: Don't kiss me, you're freaking me out! What did you put on your eyes? You look like a vampire.

(But vampires are sexy, right?)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Once more, with feeling

OK, I know we're supposed to nurture our children's talents, and encourage them to explore music and the arts, and provide practice time at home for things learned at school; but swear to God, if I hear Leah play "Jingle Bells" on the recorder just one more time, I will go stark raving mad.

Is it too early for wine?

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Well, the results of the 2008 Canadian Blog Awards for Best Family Blog are in.

And out of five finalists, I placed........fifth. Yay me!

The first, second, and third place finishers got cute little buttons to decorate up their blogs showing a beaver waving a Canadian flag, and either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd emblazoned on them. Not to be deterred by a lack of official fifth-place artwork, I created my own award button:

(My Microsoft Paint skills are legendary, I tell ya, legendary.)

Thanks to everyone who voted for me, and congratulations to the winners and other finalist: The Mabelhood (1st), Don Mills Diva (2nd), Fawnahareo's Place (3rd), and Under the Mad Hat (4th). It was a really great experience, and making the finals along with those other wonderful blogs was a very nice surprise.

Thanks also to Dani, who nominated me, and Saskboy and all the other hardworking people at the Canadian Blog Awards who ran the whole deal. It was much appreciated.

I'd like to hang around a bit, and chat some more about the CBAs and all, but Rae just yelled down the stairs that she spilled her apple cider and I can hear the unmistakeable sounds of Max preparing to projectile launch a fur ball and whatever other stomach contents he happens to have on hand, so I'd better say goodbye for now. Ah, the glamorous life of a made-the-final-round blog goddess.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's funny because it's true

OK, last hockey post for a while, I promise. Soon I'll be back to regaling you with the antics of my spawn. But first this. (It's funny even if you're not a hockey fan, and it's only 30 seconds long, so watch it, dammit.)

You do realize, Josie and Guider, that you drove me to it.

(I love Rick Mercer.)

*update: I've been told that this clip can't be viewed by American and British IP addresses. The clip also resides here, but I don't have an American IP address to see if it works.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Guilty secret

Every closet has its skeleton.

Every past has its dark parts.

Mine is no different.

Imagine if you will, a young impressionable woman moving to Toronto for her first post-university job. Leaving the sheltering arms of her family and moving to the struggling morass of humanity known as Hogtown. New friends, new environs, new ideas -- not all of them good. And, as sometimes happens, she fell in with bad company. She was led astray. Led down a dark and dangerous path into a subculture so dark and twisted, so egregiously wrong, that even now she doesn't like to think about those years she spent in its dark thrall.

But she struggled hard, renounced the darkness and moved away, into the light. It's been 12 years she's been free now, but still she keeps this as a warning, to remind herself of what she used to be:

That's right. A Leafs fan.

Oh, the humanity.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

In defense of fruitcake

Things are getting a little bit panicky around here as Christmas approaches. For example, here was my To Do list for Saturday:

  1. Put out canned goods in special bag on front porch for St. Nicholas Day food drive in the morning

  2. Travel back in time and remember to buy extra canned goods at the grocery store for St. Nicholas day food drive on Saturday morning

  3. Rummage through pantry to find canned goods to put out for St. Nicholas Day food drive in the morning

  4. Add canned goods to shopping list because we are now out of canned goods

  5. Go to grocery store, pick up canned goods

  6. Drop girls with their father for a couple of hours

  7. Go Christmas shopping for girls in blessed, blessed solitude (well, except for the eleventy squillion other shoppers)

  8. Hit LCBO for sherry

  9. And cheap French merlot

  10. Pick up some fruitcake
I like fruitcake.

There. I said it. My name is Alison, and I like fruitcake.

I know I've just put myself into the tiny minority of the population that sees this dessert as something other than a bad joke. Maybe it's my British heritage, but one of the best things to look forward to at Christmas is a slice of rich moist fruitcake with sweet marzipan icing and a glass of sherry.

I've been blessed to know some fantastic fruitcake bakers in my time. When I lived in Toronto, there was Mike, at work, who baked a light and a dark fruitcake and would invite you to his office at Christmastime for a slice of cake and a small glass of sherry and a chat. Also during the Toronto years was David, whose cakes were soaked in enough rum and brandy that you could not legally drive after having a slice. It was the best dessert at the pot luck Christmas lunch every year if you were smart enough to like fruitcake. And a couple of years ago, Paula, the mum of one of Leah's friends, gave me a delicious fruitcake she'd baked in a mini loaf tin, just enough to last me a couple of days. It rocked.

In fact, since I've been on my own, my Christmas Eve ritual has been to put the girls to bed, and after they have fallen asleep and I've put the presents under the tree and stuffed the stockings and hung them from the mantle, I cut myself a slice or two of fruitcake, pour myself a glass of sherry, put another log on the fire, turn off all the lights except the twinkling multicoloured lights of the tree, and savour the delicious combination of flavours while I watch my favourite Christmas movie, Die Hard. (What? Not a Christmas movie, you say? It takes place on Christmas Eve, remember?)

Oh, who am I kidding. In theory that's my ritual. That's what I plan to do every year. But the cold hard truth of the matter is that once the girls are asleep, I can usually be found dragging all the presents up from the basement and I end up wrapping until 3 a.m. when I toss down a rum and eggnog and stagger off to bed for a couple of hours of sleep before the girls get up.

But on Christmas day, once the presents are open, and the girls are playing with their new toys, I'm eating fruitcake. And loving it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Of Christmas presents and politics

My kids love Lego.

I love Lego too. Except when walking through the living room in the dark and 'finding' a piece with the bottom of my foot. That, I don't love so much. So a couple of years ago, I decided to get a Lego table for the girls for Christmas. That way they could play to their hearts' content and not have to put everything away at the end of the day, and yet the tender soles of my feet would remain unscathed.

Then I started pricing Lego tables. They were ridiculously expensive. Like $120 or more. I figured I could do better for less. And I did.

Take 1 Lack side table from IKEA ($14.99):

Add 4 Lego base plates ($7.99 each):

Align base plates carefully* and stick down on table surface with plastic-friendly adhesive ($2.99). Allow to dry.

Add 2 buckets of Lego pieces ($10.00 each on sale):

And you have a great Lego table and almost 1000 pieces of Lego, for around $70.

Not puncturing the bottom of your foot and saying words the kids don't need to hear: priceless.

(*There is a trick that you need to know. First, the plates don't butt up against each other, or the spacing will be off. You need to attach the base plates to each other with Lego (a 4-bump brick at the centre, and a couple of bricks down each line gap in order to get the spacing right) before sticking the base plates down, so that blocks will be able to be attached over the joins.)

It's a great gift, and one my kids are still playing with three Christmasses later:

When I asked what was going on in the above scenario, I was told, "The penguin is being too bossy and the reindeer don't want to do what he says anymore. They want to do stuff their own way for Christmas and they don't want the penguin being the boss of everyone, so they are talking to each other."

Does that sound familiar to anyone? Anyone? Stephen Harper?

(And yes, I do discuss politics with my kids. I guess they take in more than they let on.)


Just a reminder, this is the last week to vote for Party of Three in the best family blog category of the Canadian Blog Awards. Voting can be done here.

Also making the finals are my good friend XUP who's up for best new blog (go and check her out, her posts are funny, incisive and interesting), and fellow Ottawa bloggers Zoom (best local blog, best activities blog, best personal blog), Watawa Life (best photo/art blog), and Salted Lithium (best health blog).

Monday, December 01, 2008

It was kind of like Macbeth, only we were all still alive at the end. Barely.

The Night of No Sleeping

A Tragedy in Three Acts

Dramatis Personae:

  • The mother - a tired, overworked, forty-something blonde with a penchant for red wine and strange fondness for actually sleeping at night
  • Child One - about eight years old, a girl, prone to nightmares, unable to lie still for more than 1.6 nanoseconds at a time
  • Child Two - just turned six, a girl, could hear "scary noises" in the silent vacuum of deep space, very sharp elbows

Act One, Scene One

Setting: The mother's bedroom, night. A queen-size bed is against the back wall with night tables each side. The bedside clock shows time is 11:oo.

The mother, dressed in PJs enters from stage left and climbs into bed. She turns off the bedside lamp (stage is lit in soft blue glow imitating night light) sighs and lies down. Silence reigns for 30 seconds.

Child Two (from offstage): Mum, I’m thirsty.

The mother: I gave you a glass of water when you went to bed at 8:00. Drink that.

Child Two: The cat knocked it over and my bed’s all wet. And I’m thirsty.

The mother turns on light, gets out of bed, exits stage left.

The mother returns, gets into bed, turns of bedside lamp, lies down.

Act One, Scene Two

Same setting. The numbers on the clock change and read 12:07.

Child Two (from offstage): Mum? I heard a scary noise.

The mother: It’s just the furnace turning on.

Child Two: It sounds like monsters.

The mother: It’s not monsters, go to sleep.

Child Two enters stage left and stands beside the bed.

Child Two: I’m really scared. Can I sleep with you?

The mother (yawning): OK. Where are you going?

Child Two exits stage left and returns, carrying a blankie, a stuffed Bambi, a stuffed dog, a stuffed horse, a stuffed bunny wearing a dress, and a stuffed Gisele doll from the movie Enchanted. She throws all the toys onto the bed, and climbs in, climbing over The mother, who makes some ‘ooof’ noises.

The mother: Settled? Good. Cause Mum is *really* tired and I need to get some sleep.

All is silent.

Act Two

Same setting. The numbers on the clock change and read 2:19.

Child One (from offstage) can be heard sobbing.

The mother gets out of bed muttering expletives under her breath and exits stage left.

The mother (from offstage): What’s wrong? Are you OK?

Child One (crying): I had a bad dream. I dreamed that me and Alice and Flynn were at school and there were scary people there and they had gorillas that were trained to attack us and I was running and I fell down and cut my knee and no one would help me and there was a spider that had….

The mother (cutting her off): That sounds terrible. But it’s just a dream, why don’t you go back to sleep.

Child One: I’m still scared

The mother: I’ll lie down with you for a bit, OK?

Child One: OK.

Several minutes pass. The sound of The mother stealthily sneaking out of Child One’s bed can be heard. The sound of The mother stubbing her toe is heard.

The mother (still offstage): Shit!

Child One (sleepily): Mum? Where are you going?

The mother: Why don’t you come into my bed, sweetie, there are no bad dreams in Mummy’s bed, and maybe Mummy can get some sleep. I have an early meeting at work tomorrow and I *really* need to get to sleep.

The mother and Child One enter stage left and climb into bed. The mother throws 3 stuffed animals out onto the floor.

The mother: Goodnight, sweetie.

Child One: Mum? She’s hogging all the room in the bed. And her toenails are scratchy.

Child Two (waking up): I am not hogging all the room.

Child One: Yes you are.

The mother (through gritted teeth): You both need to go to sleep now. Seriously.

Act Three

Same setting. The numbers on the clock change and read 4:51.

There is a scuffling noise and ENAC enters stage left. He jumps on the foot of the bed and pounces on the toes of The mother, apparently with claws extended. The mother sits up in bed.

The mother: Auuugh! What the….! Christ, cat, would you leave me the hell alone?

ENAC: Meow.

The mother lies down again. The ENAC repeats the toe pouncing. The mother sits up, muttering expletives under her breath and turns on light. The ENAC looks angelically innocent.

ENAC: Meow?

The mother gets out of bed and the cat leaps from the bed and hides underneath. Unable to coax the cat out from under the bed, the mother exits stage left and turns on the bathroom tap, the sound of which causes the cat to scoot out from under the bed and exit stage left in order to check out the intriguing noise, and perhaps have a drink from the faucet. Sound of rapid footsteps and bedroom door slamming as The mother enters at a run and slams bedroom door behind her, locking cat out of bedroom. The mother gets into bed, ejects another stuffed animal, turns off light, lies down, and sighs.

The numbers on the clock change to read 5:00. The clock's alarm goes off.

The mother (resignedly): Shit.



Just a reminder, this is the last week to vote for Party of Three in the Best Family Blog category of the Canadian Blog Awards. Voting can be done here. It would make me very happy, and would almost be as good as a nap.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things I learned today

We deviate from the previously scheduled post to bring you this list of Things I Learned Today.

1. Snow tires and rims cost a really huge amount of money. OK, technically I learned that yesterday, but still, a really huge amount of money. Which explains why I'm typing this on an elderly desktop Dell down in the chilly semi-finished basement redolent with olfactory reminders that the cat litter needs cleaning instead of typing this on a shiny new laptop as I sit cross-legged on the living room couch sipping a chai tea latte.

2. If you are going to bake Christmas cookies with the kids, and you choose Citrus Sugar Cookies as your first recipe, and you bring out your Lee Valley Tools rasp and zester holder to zest the lemons and limes, DO THE ZESTING YOURSELF. I cannot stress this enough. Sure, it *seems* obvious, doesn't it. But Mother of the Year I'm not. I let Rachel do it. Very soon we were on hiatus as Rae and I trooped into the bathroom to wash and band-aid her grated thumb. While we were gone, Leah decided to take up the slack. She promptly grated her knuckle. In retrospect, I'm really glad I bought extra lemons, because we had to discard the zest on account of Citrus Sugar Skin Cookies don't sound so appetizing.

3. And the BEST thing I learned today is that your votes put me in the finals for a Canadian Blog Award in the Best Family Blog category! You guys rock! Voting for this second and final round (1 vote per IP address) runs for one week, and I'd be ever so grateful if you'd take the time on my account to vote again.

I'm totally convinced that this picture helped, so imagine me looking like this, and please go vote:

Friday, November 28, 2008

News flashes

The first snowman/snowfort combo of winter 2008/2009 was built in the front yard the night before last:

(Yes, Mum, that is the hat and scarf you gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. Don't worry, I'm going to chip it off the frozen snowman head unwrap it gently and bring it in soon.)

Also, this just in -- proof that Max is still all male even though he's had certain organs removed. (Right after I took the photo, he said,"Get me a beer, wouldja?" and changed the TV channel to hockey. It's in the chromosomes, people.)

And despite the fact that I've never been a Meat Loaf fan, I saw this yesterday, and I laughed so hard, I think I broke my diaphragm. (Ummm, I mean the internal organ thingie, not the birth control device.)

Stay tuned for more riveting drama, as in my next post I recount the reasons I got no sleep the other night.


Oh, and if you have just fallen off the turnip truck and are unaware that this blog, Party of 3, has been nominated for a Canadian Blog Award in the Best Family Blog category, and can be bribed persuaded to go and vote for me, please go here. First-round voting ends tomorrow, and only the 5 blogs with the most votes will move on.

If it would motivate you to vote, feel free to imagine me doing this:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Talk

Leah is almost nine now, and sad though I am at the thought of my baby growing up, it's time to conquer the fear (mine, not hers) and talk to her about sex. Why now, you ask? Well, driving home from my friend Shell's place one recent weekend, where Leah had met and been somewhat smitten by the boyfriend of Shell's university-aged daughter who was visiting for the weekend, Leah leaned as far forward as her seatbelt would allow and asked me in a loud stage whisper, "Do boyfriends and girlfriends have S-E-X?"

It's time.

Now both girls know that boys have penises and girls have vaginas, and where babies grow and how they come out, but they've never asked about the mechanics of how the babies got in there in the first place. I've been waiting for them to ask, but so far, no questions. Well, not til the question in the car. I responded carefully, because Rachel was in the car too, with, "Well sometimes, if they are old enough, and if they've been going out together for a long time and love each other, then yes they do." That seemed to satisfy her for the moment. And she hasn't brought it up since, or asked for any further details.

Leah is pretty innocent, but she has a good friend called Alice who has an older sister, and I know that Alice is wise in the ways of the world, well for an eight-year-old, that is. Probably due to her having that older sister.

Case in point: the movie Labyrinth. Leah loves this movie. Leah loves this movie with all her innocent eight-year-old heart: "Jareth the Goblin King is soooo cute! Sarah is soooo beautiful! I wish I had a furry giant like Ludo! Baby Toby is the cutest baby ever! I wish Jareth would give me a magic glass ball."

She couldn't wait to share the movie with her friend Alice. Alice came over to visit, and Leah put the movie on. It came to the part where Jareth is dancing around with his goblins (see clip below) to the song "Dance Magic" in, well, an admittedly tight pair of trousers. Leah was oblivious to that, all caught up in the excitement of the scene. Alice? Not so much. "Oh My God, you can totally see his penis", she pointed out helpfully, as they crammed popcorn into their mouths.


So Leah's going to hear about this stuff from her friends, and I know she needs to hear about it from me as well. But what's the best way to do it? I know not to lie. And I know that I should explain in age-appropriate fashion -- but that's just it. What exactly is age-appropriate for an eight-year-old?

Help me please... Any and all advice on explaining sex to my daughter is welcome. Because it's either you guys help out, or I slip Alice a twenty and get her to do it for me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bloggers, awards, and not enough sex

It was a pretty stellar weekend, all in all.

Friday night I did something I don't do often enough. I got a babysitter and went out to the movies with my friend Shell. Quantum of Solace was pretty good, except Daniel Craig wasn't naked nearly enough for my liking. Hell, he didn't even have sex with the main Bond girl, and all the movie stills I can find show him disappointingly well clothed.

Still, my pretend fiancé looked pretty good, and there were chases and fights galore. Shell and I ended up at my place drinking wine and eating pizza afterwards. A very fun evening.
I had been looking forward to Saturday for quite a while. XUP and Zoom had organized an Ottawa-area bloggers brunch, and once again I found myself walking into a place where I knew no-one except for through their blogs. It was great! XUP was exactly how I had imagined her, though a little shorter (hee), and it was so cool to put a face to the words that I've been reading and admiring for some time now. Meeting Nat and Meanie was a real treat after reading them both for so long, too. It's weird in a way, but a good weird, to not have met people face-to-face before, yet still be able to ask how they enjoyed the trip to Chicago and commiserate with them on the puking Doritos incident, and say how cute their son's Halloween costume was. I also got to meet the dynamic duo of Jobthingy and Maven, who were funny and interesting, and made it all the more sad that I had to leave to pick up my kids long before I wanted to. I have been very lucky meeting fellow bloggers before, and this was no exception. Thanks to XUP and Zoom, and I hope we do it again soon, when I can stay longer and talk to more people.
Then, today, I found out I've been nominated for a Canadian Blog Award!! How cool is that? Party of 3 has been nominated for Best Family Blog. Wow. (I'd like to thank the Academy.....) I'm not expecting to make it past the first round, seeing as I'm up against biggies like the Redneck Mommy, Postcards from the Mothership, and Cheaper than Therapy, but I'm still all excited about this. (And if you'd like to vote for me, you can go here and do it. Please vote for me, please, for the love of God But no pressure.)

And now for those of you who skimmed down this far trying to find out about the 'not enough sex' part of the title -- I was talking about the movie. Sheesh. Minds in the gutter, all of you. But stay tuned. On that subject, the next post will be about having The Talk with Leah.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Revenge of the evil ninja assassin cat

I see you, Large One, bent over that machine on the desk, tapping away with fingers that move like a wounded mouse. But you do not see me. I am the evil ninja assassin cat. I move like the wind, like the darkness, and you are as helpless as a My Little Pony before me.

Your skin kittens are sleeping in their nests and will be unable to save you. You will pay for your crimes. Never again will you remove me from my rightful place on the kitchen counter or deny me the milk left in the skin kittens' mugs on the dining room table. Never again will you spray me with the unspeakable water bottle when I deign to favour your couch with the razor touch of my claws.

I will no longer eat a bowl of dry crunchies on the kitchen floor while you open that fishy deliciousness that comes in cans and mix it with foul mayonnaise on slices of bread for yourself. Your time has come. I will chew your entrails.

See how carefully I have followed you to the basement and chosen my vantage point to pounce?

Make peace with your God.

Lest we forget

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae 1915

Please take some time this Remembrance Day to reflect on the sacrifices made by our Canadian Armed Forces and Peacekeepers, and to pay tribute to all those who died in war.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time the Armistice of World War I was signed in 1918, we observe two minutes of silence to remember. We remember those lost in both World Wars, Korea, and the brave men and women serving today in Afghanistan.

They deserve no less.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Raindrops on roses

Danigirl, over at Postcards from the Mothership, tagged me with a meme. I haven't done a meme in ages, so here goes. (Meme courtesy of Dani, "u"s added to the word "favorite" courtesy of me.

THE FAVOURITE MEME. Fill in your favourite for each of the following:

1. Political show Rick Mercer Report and This Hour has 22 Minutes. It's a tie.

2. Picnic food Cold fried chicken.

3. Mixed drink Rum and Coke, or vodka tonic, or rye and seven. NO, wait, it's a Pole Dancer. Yeah, final answer: Pole Dancer. (does this make me look just a little bit too fond of the booze?)

4. U.S. President I'd be hard-pressed to even name a favourite Prime Minister (OK, I wouldn't. It's totally Pierre Trudeau), but I really haven't thought much about American presidents, at least not enough to have a favourite one.

5. Kind of student to teach I'm going to have to train a new editor soon. So my favourite kind of student to teach is one who listens and doesn't think they know it all already.

6. Hobby you do or wish you still did Read, baby, read. I always get that little thrill when I'm heading home from the library with a book I've been dying to read. I put the girls to bed and then curl up in my green chair with a cup of tea or glass of wine and indulge.

I also snarl large quantities of yarn in an amateur fashion knit.

7. Sports commentator I have a crush on Ron MacLean. Totally.

8. Sport to watch on TV Hockey. Preferably Ottawa Senators hockey, but pretty well any NHL or OHL game will do. It's the only sport worth watching.

9. Animal to have as a pet Cats.

10. Halloween costume you have worn One year my mum made my sister and I robot costumes out of cardboard boxes that had been covered with coloured paper. They were great.

11. Kind of dessert Home-made apple crisp.

12. Comic strip The Far Side.

13. Style or make of footwear Comfy running shoes.

14. Ice cream flavor Rolo.

15. College or university president Seriously, who has a favourite college or university president?

16. Internet news source or

17. Vacation spot Harris Lake, Ontario

18. Wine Yvon Mau merlot

19. Way to waste time instead of working The Internet!!! Blogs/Facebook/Wikipedia.

20. Student excuse for late work I usually handed stuff in on time, even if I had to stay up til 4 in the morning finishing it up. This happened more than was good for me.

21. Reality show I don't like reality shows. Give me something with a plot and some actors.

22. Jewelry on a man A wedding ring, I guess.

23. Pizza topping You *have* to try this: bacon, green olives, onions and pineapple. It's really freaking delicious, a great blend of salty and sweet. Yum.

24. Children’s movie Beauty and the Beast

25. Celebrity you wish would retire Tom Cruise.

And now, the tagging. Hmmm, I tag Jen, Jen, Stacy and Holly, 'cause I'd like to know a few of your favourite things. Anyone else can play along too, if you want, just leave me a comment so I can hop on over and check it out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dear Universe

Are you there Universe, it's me, Margaret. Just kidding... kidding. Seriously though, there are a couple of things I'd like to get off my chest.

First of all, thanks for the great weather the last few days, it was a lovely birthday present. I cannot remember another birthday that had me wearing a sweater to work rather than a jacket. Kudos. I figured it was karma from all the nice, good things I do occasionally on a regular basis. So I might be pushing my luck here, but perhaps there are a few other things you could take care of for me? My to-do list is pretty full, do you think you might be able to help me out?

  • Could you perhaps slow time, or maybe slip an extra month into the year this year? November is here and I haven't done any Christmas shopping or giftmaking. And wouldn't you know it, every single book I had on request at the library came in at once, which is seriously putting a dent in my knitting time seeing as I'm reading instead.
  • Leaves. I'm so freaking tired of raking leaves. Could you perhaps arrange the prevailing wind to reverse itself til, say, December, so the leaves in my yard blow into my neighbour's yard instead of me bagging endless piles of maple leaves when I don't even have a maple tree in my yard? Thanks.
  • Dish fairies would be a nice idea. Ditto laundry fairies and picking-up-crap-around-the-house fairies. Barring that, maybe you could curb the slob tendencies in my children. Because that's something I'm apparently unable to do.
  • Oh, and if you could make them eat some new things, I'd appreciate it. True story, Universe: Rachel tried home fries the other night. I wheedled and cajoled and threatened, and she gingerly took a bite and chewed and said, "It tastes good. But I don't like them."
  • Maybe you could intermittently change the physical properties of wood, so when I bang my head on the table in despair at things like that, I don't get those annoying forehead bruises.

I'll check in later and see if you've managed to get any of that done. I have a couple of work projects to finish, some interviews to schedule, the vacuuming, and of course some raking to do before starting to make the pizza dough for dinner. Maybe we can sit down later and have a beer together and check some things off our lists, K?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween costumes, or, What's another word for slutty?

Around our house, Halloween costumes have become a big deal. The girls start thinking about what they want to be somewhere around July September, and we start looking around for ways to make them the costumes they want. This year, Rae wanted to be a pirate, and Leah wanted to be Princess Leia, due to her obsession with Star Wars, which shortly predated her obsession with Labyrinth.

Rae's costume was easy enough. We bought the hat/scarf and a set containing eye patch, earring, hook and sword at Walmart, added black pants from home, and a wonderful puffy shirt/waistcoat combo that was loaned to us by my friend Janice, et voila, a scurvy buccaneer. Leah's was not so easy. After a few painful attempts to coil her hair into Leia's hair bagels, I gave up and did something I've never done before. I ordered her costume online. (I feel like such a sell-out.)

Oh, before I get much further in the story, here is a picture of my incredibly cute offspring, taken this morning before school -- because God knows what kind of shape the costumes will be in when they get off the school bus this afternoon.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, ordering online. I ordered from an outfit that is associated with a local party supplies store, so instead of paying shipping to my house, I picked the costume up at the party store.

When I got there on Wednesday to pick it up, I was floored by all the Halloween stuff they had -- costumes, decorations, make-up, props -- it was truly amazing. But what caught my eye the most was a poster advertising costumes for a company called Secret Dreams. They were women's costumes, and were all kind All the costume names were prefaced with the word 'sexy', you know, like 'Sexy Angel', and 'Sexy I Dream of Jeannie', and (God help us all) 'Sexy Tinkerbelle'.

Umm, yeah. My eyes started rolling. But you can see -- sort of -- how those female archetypes could be seen as sexy. What blew my mind was what other not-very-sexy costumes they managed to sex up. I present to you, now, the real thing, and the Secret Dreams versions. And I'm not making this up, you know.

The real Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family (note that she is a seven-year-old girl):

And the slutty 'Sexy Wednesday Addams':

A real NASCAR driver:

And the sleazy 'Sexy NASCAR Driver':

But the one that really boggled my mind as being something that was not the least bit sexy was this, the real Ghostbusters:

And (I shit you not), the skanky 'Sexy Ghostbuster':

I am left almost speechless. And needing a thesaurus to come up with more synonyms for 'slutty'.

I did notice, however, that this sluttiness sleaziness skankiness 'sexiness' doesn't seem to be present in the mens' costumes. Oh no siree, Bob. Not at all.

Holy Halloween Inequity, Batman:

Here's Neo, from The Matrix. Not a lotta skin showing here, is there?

What we need is the 'Sexy Casino Royale James Bond' costume -- you know, to even things up for us women:

Wait. On second thought, thinking of what most men actually look like, maybe Neo isn't such a bad costume idea after all.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

(Photos courtesy of Google, except for the picture of my adorable spawn, courtesy of me.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Things frozen yogurt tastes better than

It rained on Saturday. Torrential, unrelenting, 'let's build an ark -- damn, the cat's neutered' rain. So, of course, we ran errands.

Here, for your amusement, is the actual conversation we had sitting on a bench just inside the exit doors of IKEA while eating frozen yogurt cones before splashing our way back out to the car. It was the first time the girls had tried this particular treat.

Rae was snuggled up against my side, rotating her cone against her tongue. Leah, on the other side of Rae, was eating her cone from the top down.

Me: "So. What do you think of frozen yogurt?"

Leah: "This is *really* good. It tastes better than ice cream. Seriously." [She's *so* my daughter.] "In fact, I think we should get frozen yogurt at home instead of ice cream from now on."

Rachel: "I don't eat boogers anymore."

Me: . . . .

Rachel: "I mean, I still pick my nose, but I don't eat the boogers anymore."

Me (struggling to understand what this has to do with the conversation): "That's. . . good."

Rachel: "But I remember what they taste like. And this [gesturing with her cone]. . . this tastes better."

So there you have it, folks. THIS JUST IN: FROZEN YOGURT TASTES BETTER THAN BOOGERS. You heard it here first.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy working song

Jen, over at Jen on the Edge, is asking for decluttering ideas. Feel free to pop on over and help out.

Here's my ideal way to declutter the house.

Of course, my dress isn't quite as poofy, and at my place it's squirrels, raccoons, and skunks who come when I sing. (I had to stop the skunks from helping, though. They break too many dishes.)

(If you can't see the movie clip of Gisele cleaning up Robert's apartment in Enchanted, click here for the Youtube link.)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Hey look! I knitted a scarf. And it only took me 10 months and 19 days.

I'm not what one would call a quick (swift, rapid, fast) knitter. I'm sure if I tackled anything as complicated as a sweater, entire empires would rise and fall before I finished. But here it is. I'm basking in my sense of accomplishment:

The yarn was all nubby and had bits hanging off it, which was both good and bad. The good thing was that it hid any mistakes, the bad was that I had to pay attention when knitting instead of being able to watch TV speak French to the girls while they folded laundry and put it away. (I can dream, can't I?)

Next project: slippers. They oughta be ready by oh...2012.