Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Angels have landed and they want you to feel great about yourself this season

I'm just messing with you. The success of Victoria's Secret lies in their ability to make the average woman part with an obscene amount of money for the sole purpose of looking nothing like Adriana Lima in a bra.

This is my favourite time of year, as the predictable signs of the season begin to appear: the Advent candles set up at church, the parking lot of my local Walmart suddenly resembling e an episode of Game of Thrones, and the bombardment of photos of the VS Angels prepping for the annual fashion show on the celebrity sites I frequent.

No one is forcing me to watch, but it's like a train wreck, if train wrecks wore a 36DD, had a 25-inch waist and Gigi Hadid's face. For good measure, the company always ensures  the show includes the participation a model who's given birth in the past four months to make those of us who are a few years postpartum feel especially shamefaced.

**Note to the models who claim the weight just fell off by breastfeeding: The millions of  women who have also given birth are not stupid. I breastfed two babies. Nursing means babies are nourished by milk your body produces. They are not tiny little liposuction machines that suck fat exclusively from your midsection to reveal defined abs underneath, unless a liposuction machine also pukes in your hair.
Without a doubt, my absolute favourite part of the annual broadcast is the cautionary message at the end of each commercial break, claiming that watching Candice Swanepoel parade around in a g-string may be harmful to my child. I propose this year they finally add the following:

Warning: The following broadcast may be detrimental to the emotional and mental well-being of any woman who has had children and/or likes ice cream. Self-loathing may occur. Husband/partner discretion is strongly advised.

The one truth I've gained from years of watching the show is that everyone would look and feel better if they had a wind machine follow them around while waiting in line at Starbucks or picking up their kids from school. Every time I visit Costco, I take a minute and stand at the entrance of the big dairy refrigerator, which produces roughly the same effect except I get some weird looks, and other shoppers rarely cheer me on or ask me about my workout regimen. It's insulting, really.

I have never been able to determine if the target audience of this show is actually women who are filled with regret for the Halloween candy rejects and bottle of wine they inhale while watching, or men who want to pretend their girlfriends or wives could really look like Alessandra Ambrosio in a push-up.

From the preview photos, it seems the show will include a pants-less ski bunny, which is totally how I'm secretly dressed when I'm parked in the school pick-up line. I might finally relate to a Victoria's Secret angel when one walks the runway in an inside-out t-shirt, fighting a much smaller angel for the last sip of flat Coke Zero. If it's my girlfriends and I you want to attract Victoria's Secret and CBS, I suggest a cage match featuring Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid battling for a brownie and a mojito. We would turn out in spades to see that.

But until they decide to listen to the viewers, here's a drinking game to get you through the broadcast (please sip slowly - I don't want hate tweets if you pass out before the first commercial break).

One swig per:
* Scant Santa outfit
* Each behind-the-scenes shot, trying to convince you the Angels eat real food like the rest of us
* Fur-trimmed bra or thong. Bonus sip if think to yourself, "I would totally wear that under my leggings."
* Kiss blown to the audience/camera.

One shot for:
* Any pair of wings that would fit through a standard door frame
* Any costumes interpreting the American Flag. An extra one if you can actually hear George Washington turn in his grave.

One full drink if you make it through the entire show without googling or pinning any type of new core workout or cleanse.

Friday, November 7, 2014

I kind of hope Arachnophobia happens so I'm right

We moved into a new house a few weeks ago which you would already know if I wasn't fulfilling my promise to randomly abandon the blog for weeks or months at a time. But if I didn't do this, you wouldn't be able to trust my word, so really, you're welcome.

Two days after we moved in, I located my dressers containing my bras so I could finally go meet the neighbours with no shame (or at least slightly less shame than if I'd gone over commando). I still haven't located one of my daughter's school projects that was lost in the transition, which I'm sure will be the day she pinpoints in future therapy sessions, as the day she just stopped trying.

As part of what I'm sure is some comeuppance for the missing project. last night as I unpacked pantry items, I found what I'm fairly confident was a maybe-dead spider with eggs in my container of spices. There's a very small chance it was a bizarre looking flake of thyme, if thyme has lots of little legs and is surrounded by white fluff. I'm not one to take chances.

Mr. T refused to react with the urgency the situation required, despite an oral contract that he handles all non-human creatures, alive or dead, found in our home (in exchange, I handle most matters that require a phone call such as booking appointments, quotes, etc). He's usually pretty good at dealing with them, including the time we discovered a massive cane spider the size of his hand lurking on the wall above our bed in Hawaii.

I probably haven't told that story here yet. It's like a horrifying little bonus for you.

When we were on vacation in Kona a couple years ago, we woke up one morning and were quietly talking in bed before the kids woke up, when suddenly Mr. T jumped out of bed like he'd been shot. He pointed at the wall above me head, where there was a spider the size of his hand.

I was obviously not going to google an image of a cane spider, so here's my daughter, doing her best impression of one lurking on a wall

Watching us. Waiting.

We panicked as quietly as possible. He grabbed a broom from the hall closet and told me to get ready with the patio door as he was going to sweep it off the wall and out the door. It was a well-thought out plan. We just hadn't accounted for the spider falling onto the handle of the broom and immediately running up the handle toward Mr. T's hand. He freaked out and threw the broom out the door as hard as he could, except the spider fell off the handle onto the floor. So now we had a spider and no broom. Mr. T grabbed the dustpan and used it to scoop up the spider, throw it and the dustpan onto the patio and slam the door. Neither of us was going out to retrive the broom or the dustpan so we left it out there for the cleaning staff to find.

When we recounted the story to one of the front desk staff later, as I inquired about whether we could hire a permanent staff member to guard and sweep our condo for the rest of our stay (which he seemed to think was a joke), he informed us it was a harmless cane spider and they "just like to chase people a bit." So it's harmless, but a vindictive little son of a bitch. That made me sleep much better.

The point is, I book yearly check-ups, Mr. T eradicates spiders. That's the deal and it's been working just fine for us for almost 10 years now.

Except last night, he did not jump to my rescue and treat it with the urgency the situation required. He simply told me to "just flush it."

Look, I saw Arachnophobia** against my better judgement when I was a teenager. I don't remember the exact plot, but I'm pretty sure it all started with a husband's vague dismissal. I'm also pretty sure that the spiders were like one of those t-shirts that comes in a little cube and grows to a full-size shirt when you put it in water, so flushing it seemed like a really bad idea.

You know what else is probably all gooey inside? Spiders.

I did it anyway, because I had nowhere else to put a maybe-dead maybe-spider. It didn't go down with the first flush and then I'm pretty sure I saw it flailing and moving, which indicates an alarming level of tenacity for a drowning spider I wasn't even initially sure was alive. Then I washed out the container and any lingering eggs containing maybe-babies with dish soap. I also rinsed a container of Kraft Calorie-Wise Ranch right afterward for added reassurance because the internet is always telling me that kind of chemical crap will kill me, so I was hoping the same applies to insects. Or maybe soybean oil is what will cause those eggs to multiply in our drain and come for us in our sleep.

At any rate, this post is insurance if that happens, because if I'm dead or carried off into the night (I also saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), I don't know if the spider colony will have Wi-Fi and I won't be able to say "I told you so." So please, make that's printed on my headstone when Mr. T and I are buried next to each other.

The eternal reminder that sometimes you should really just LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE.

**Don't even google arachnophobia to make sure it's spelled correctly. There's a mistake you'll only make once.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How my daughter taught me the F-word

Please don’t send me hate mail. I’m not talking about the first f-word that popped into your head, though in all fairness, a lot of people find this one just as offensive.

This all started with a sleeper. “Just one little sleeper,” is, I believe, what it was referred to by many on social media.

One little sleeper, proudly declaring “I Only Date Heroes.” One little sleeper, to be worn by thousands of baby girls across North America. One little sleeper I spotted in my weekly Target flyer yesterday afternoon. I had already seen the photos of it online, but there it was, right in front of me, in my home, in my local Target, just five minutes away. The boy version, for the record, declared ”Future Man of Steel.”

In all fairness, it’s probably a piece I would have bought for my baby girl five years ago, without giving it much thought and barely registering the message.

But now my girl is preparing to celebrate her fifth birthday next week. She is wickedly funny, inherently kind, full of far more energy than my morning triple Americano can compensate for and a fast runner who will one day easily coast past me on a race course (dare I dream).

She also loves superheroes. Not the glammed up girl version either, but rather their original bright, primary colours. It started before she turned three. My husband would occasionally watch the classic 1967 version of Spiderman, and she would sit with him, mesmerized. Her love for Spiderman has known no bounds since. He was always her favourite, until she caught sight of a photo of the Avengers a few months ago and asked who “the green guy” was.

When I interviewed her on her first day of kindergarten for the scrapbook that I’ll never actually put together, one of the questions I asked was what she wanted to be when she grows up.

“The Hulk,” was her swift, immediate reply.

My daughter always wants to crush the bad guys. As she grows, I hope she finds more productive ways to do it than going on anger-fuelled rampages and destroying millions of dollars in property. But the point is, at just five years old, she thinks she can be a hero. I’ve never told her any differently, and why would I?

Just one little sleeper sends the opposite message. You aren’t the hero, but maybe you can grow up to be his arm candy.**

”It’s harmless and cute,” were some of the other comments I received when I posted a photo from the flyer on my personal Facebook page yesterday.

A few years ago, I would have agreed and defended my right to buy something like that. However, in the past few years, I’ve watched how my daughter transforms herself into her favourite superheroes (The Hulk is my favourite – a weapon of mass destruction with anger management issues. There’s a stretch for a preschooler).

I would never, ever have considered calling myself a feminist until recently. Emma Watson nailed it when she asserted in her now-famous U.N. speech that “feminism has become an unpopular word.” I always assumed that to be one, I had to be extreme in my views. And I’ll be perfectly honest, and tell you that I’m a newbie to this. I haven’t done a lot of reading or research and I can’t speak eloquently on the topic. I have a lot to learn and consider.

Here's what I do know. Right now, my daughter wants to save the world, and with her drive, determination and fire, I absolutely believe she can. But this message that she will
always be on the sidelines of heroism is one that obviously starts as soon as she’s born – retailers like Target have made sure of that. And it's just not not okay.

The obstacles to her becoming the hero she dreams of will follow her through her teen years into adulthood, where others will attempt to thwart her efforts by paying her less money for the work she does, possibly passing her over for promotions, because, gasp, what if she decides she wants a baby one day? Not because she lacks tenacity or dedication, but because she happened to be born with two X-chromosomes.

I’m aware that some will dismiss this as an overblown reaction to something so insignificant. Let me tell you what this is not: a rant about girly things existing like princesses and fairies and sparkly nail polish, nor is it offense at the hero logo on a pink background on these onesies. I love pink and will probably be buried in the colour. Had the wording been any different - ”Born to save the world” or even blank- this would be a non-issue.

But let me make this clear: It is not just one little sleeper. It is tons of these harmless little declarations – countless occurrences appearing on t-shirts, cups, purses and other random propaganda- coming together to form one big, persistent message. This message will help shape my daughters view of being a woman as she gets older and it tells all girls exactly what society expects of them before they can even walk, or you know, hold up their own head.

It’s not simply a matter of just buying the boy version of the clothes for a girl either. I don’t want to always have to cross over to the boys’ section of a store to find something that tells my daughter she can be a hero too. But that's not really the point. I'm not simply upset because I want a hero logo on a pretty pink shirt (if that's all I was after, there are many places I could go to find it). It's that this message shouldn't be accepted and defended - let alone, printed on an infant's clothing.

I want my daughter to grow up with the message that she can be anything or do anything that makes her happy, no matter what body parts she happened to be born with. We can, and should, expect more of our girls and we can let them know from a young age that if they want to don big green gloves and go on a rampage for justice - even in a pink tutu - they absolutely can have that dream, instead of automatically assuming they should watch the action unfold from a safe distance rather than being in the thick of it themselves.

**Note: If it happens organically and my daughter falls in love with Batman and he treats her well and as his equal, I’m okay with that. In fact, I think he’d make a great son in law and maybe occasionally, he'd let me use the Batcave to finally get the peace and quiet I’ve been seeking for years. I just hope being his significant other won’t be her most notable identifier.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Put on your happy (yet sometimes also really depressed) face

In the coming days, there will be a web-wide discussion about mental health, about how to help or get help, about the need for more resources for those who struggle. 

So let’s talk about it. Let’s discuss depression, anxiety and the never-ending list of mental disorders. Let’s keep talking about it long after Robin Williams’ lovely tribute at the Academy Awards next year and let’s keep the discussion going in hopes that it doesn’t just get reignited the next time a life tragically ends too soon. 

I doubt Robin planned to become the poster child for severe depression overnight. I can only assume that his final days and moments were more painful and inwardly-focused than anyone could imagine. 

Funny people aren’t supposed to take their own lives. But then again, neither are fathers or mothers or first responders or any of the other host of people we outwardly see as having too much to live for. However the way things appear to others is never the whole picture. Those who struggle with depression are not so easily defined by only the characteristics everyone else sees. These aspects co-exist with the illness. These individuals are equally as much mom, dad, teacher, doctor, comedian, friend as they are someone fighting a battle every single day of their life. 

My name is Tamara. I have two kids and a husband, a wonderful extended family and amazing friends. I love good coffee and wine and I sometimes have embarrassingly bad taste in television. I laugh a lot because it’s my favourite thing in the world to do. 

I’m also a depressed, anxious person more often than I want to be. It got really bad after the birth of my first child and since then, it’s been a wild, unpredictable ride. Not every day is bad, but there are always extended periods of self-doubt and worry. It’s actually pretty easy to let those feelings consume me. I’ve also only recently begun to accept that I may be walking this up-and-down path for the rest of my life. 

My journey with depression and anxiety is not a secret one. I try to be upfront and honest about it. However, as someone who takes great pleasure out of making people laugh, I know it’s easy to go for the joke than always be honest about how I’m feeling. All of this is actually difficult for me to write because it’s well outside of my comfort zone. Humour isn’t a mask per se, but it provides some damn convenient smoke and mirrors and in general, makes people more comfortable. 

These distractions look a little different for everyone. They show up in the forms of being really good at your job, or a fantastic parent or a talented artist. It’s just natural that we gravitate toward the identity that’s easier for people to accept, because really, who wants to be the one who brings the room down when you can be the life of the party?

Unfortunately this also cultivates a world of isolation due to the worry that people will grow tired of the consistent angst and pain and doubt. However as someone who’s also walked the journey with other friends, I can safely say I’d take talking about it as often as necessary over grieving one of my people and wondering what more I could have done. 

The more we talk about it, the less I hope the stigma associated with mental illness will exist. The stigma that there’s any shame in a disease you can’t control, that tells people a depressed person is easily identifiable by certain markers such the inability to get out of bed in the morning or an unshowered, disheveled appearance. 

Let’s toss out every preconceived idea we might have about what depression looks like. Instead, let’s focus on the next ten people we meet: the co-workers you pass in the hall, the other moms out at the playground, the Starbucks barista who makes our morning latte. Once we get to 10, let’s stop and realize that according to the statistics at depressionhurts.ca, one of those 10 people is likely depressed. 

The struggling person looks just like anyone else. 

Now to you: the one who is hurting deeply and may want to stay in bed all day but puts on a brave face again and carries on as though life is okay and things really aren’t that bad. Please realize you are seen. Maybe not obviously by everyone you encounter, but your brothers and sisters who fight the same war every day and understand how hard it is sometimes just to function and sometimes, even just keep breathing. 

These feelings that you are alone, that you are a burden and that no one understands or cares are a lie. Your people may not see it because you’re just really good at distracting them. But they want to see it. They want you around and that desire will outlast any horrible time you go through (and every other horrible time thereafter). 

So please, find that community of love and grace and support. Find your community of other people who also struggle and who have made it to the other side of their latest tough time, who can reassure you without a shadow of a doubt that it can get better. Recruit them to fight with you and intercede on your behalf if necessary. 

And please, just hang on. Dear God, please don’t stop hanging on

This will never be an easy war to win. But I wish with every wine-soaked fiber of my being, that talking about it becomes the norm. So normal that we can pass an acquaintance in the office or grocery store and be all, “Hey, life is a bit better right now than it was a little while ago. Hi-five!” 

For my part, I’ll be more upfront about it. I mean, I’m still going to make inappropriate jokes about selling my kids for wine money, but I won’t let those jokes be my only known identity because a) I don’t want a visit from Child Protective Services and b) (this is the important one): I want people to know it’s okay to be both sides of the coin publicly. 

Even now, I realize other people have written about this topic far more eloquently than I have. But right now it's not about that. The only way we're going to make a difference is by adding to the voices that come forward and say "Yes, me too." You know, the whole "strength in numbers" cliche.

It’s going to take a lot of work to get to this point, but I know we can do it. We can play Candy Crush in the most remote parts of the planet. Obviously we are capable of achieving great things as a society. Maybe these great things can save lives. 

Keep talking friends. Please don’t stop talking. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An open letter to Alicia Silverstone (and her designer imposter opinions)

Dear Alicia,
I meant to write this sooner, but I was so busy doing irreparable damage to my children’s lives in the past week, this is the first time I’ve had to sit down and actually address some of the snippets I’ve seen from your book, The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth and a Sweet Mother of Zeus, did anyone from your publishing company contemplate that a sub-headline should not be longer than your prologue?
Unlike your parenting strategy, I am a mean mom. My kids both wore disposable diapers (one still does and my goal is to have him using the toilet by the time he leaves for college) and I've been taking medication for anxiety since halfway through my second pregnancy for the sole purpose of being able to consume obscene amounts of red meat and cheese (or as you fondly refer to it, “toxic sludge”). But don’t worry, I like to pretend I’m just eating your share of the animals, and in return, you’re eating my share of kale.
Bananas are probably my kids’ favourite food on earth, and while I’ll agree with you that they are very naughty, I’m guessing we both think so for very different reasons. And silly me, I followed a routine vaccination schedule because polio and the measles sound like such a drag and should my children contract either, it would greatly interfere with my ability to drink an entire bottle of wine in one night. Because this “baby house” is vacant and really needs the company once the kids are in bed and I need to forget about the day’s endless fights and screams over whose turn it is to sit in the box I brought home from Costco.
Of course, the biggest indicator that I’m doing it all wrong is the depression and anxiety I faced after having both children and still battle today. According to you, mental illness is less prevalent along “kind mamas.” If only my doctor had told me I’d feel perfectly fine if I just ate a lot more spinach. But what does she know? She was in medical school in the 90s while you were busy being fitted for plaid skirts and thigh-highs.
Among claims that diapers are pseudoscience, your book apparently also reveals how to ”prevent or even cure your PMS, insomnia, allergies, breakouts, weight struggles, thyroid condition, lupus, multiple sclerosis—while significantly lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.” Have you actually told anyone you have the cure for cancer? Because I’m pretty sure some Clueless (ha, you see what I did there?) fools are still researching and investing billions of dollars into that.
But I think where I really missed the boat was in my failure to potty train my infant. I was so consumed in my own selfish desires of trying to stay afloat among the endless piles of laundry and pumping milk and grocery shopping and play dates just to stay sane with a non-verbal six-month old (I assume yours had a full vocabulary and could read War and Peace at half that age), that I didn’t just sit and study her expression every waking moment so that I could learn to predict when she was ready to do her business. I’m sure all babies really are “more content leaving their business in the grass than having to sleep and eat accompanied by their own pee and poo.” Especially the ones here in Canada, where we see grass for roughly 12 days out of the year, so I’d have actually been letting my daughter go free-range in a snow bank in February. What a missed opportunity on my part to demonstrate this transcendent level of intuitive parenting.
I guess I really just wanted to thank you for correcting my belief (on some days anyway) that I was doing a decent job with these creatures I brought into the world. And I wanted to apologize for myself and on behalf of all the other moms I know who have taken a pill so they can get out of bed in the morning to take care of their children, who have had severely ill children because they surely didn’t nurse their baby and provide the “otherworldly” power of breast milk, and also for the would-be moms who have experienced years of painful infertility all because you hadn’t yet told them the answer to their problem was to chill out a bit and just have “yummy, soulful sex.” After all, you have one pregnancy and three whole years of parenting under your belt, and you kissed Paul Rudd onscreen, so you are undoubtedly in the position to advise us on all things parent-related and write what I can only assume will become the bible (If you’ve cured cancer and MS, you are most obviously Jesus) of parents worldwide. From now on, we can breathe a little easier knowing we are in your capable, all-knowing hands.
I wish I had time to write more, but these kids of mine aren’t going to neglect themselves.
xoxo Cruel Mama

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pinterest and I are on a break

I've tried to make it work with Pinterest, but the truth is, I've found it difficult to emotionally invest myself. It's full of beauty and creativity, however at the end of 15 minutes two hours (how the hell did that happen?), it just ends up making me feel inadequate. And if there's one lesson I've learned from Buzz Feed,  it's that if it's not empowering you and making you a better person, it's ultimately harmful to your well-being. And that I'm Rachel from Friends. I haven't yet decided which of these truths is more valuable.

I've discovered that it's best for me if I peruse Pinterest as I do a museum: with detached interest in looking at lovely works of art and ideas without feeling the inherent need to try to recreate them. Can you imagine if the app had existed in Leonardo da Vinci's age and someone tried to recreate the Mona Lisa with bacon? People were hung for that sort of blasphemy.

It's taken awhile to reach this moment of clarity, but if I could give you a snippet of my Pinterest journey, it would be this:

Sock bun curls. Which are supposed to be the most perfect, salon-worthy waves you've ever had in your life, but end up looking like this:

Before you  send me emails suggesting that I did it wrong, let me assure you that this was not a first attempt. I first tried it when my hair was this long:
These waves were not the result of a sock bun. They can easily be recreated with a curling iron and 25 minutes of ignoring your children's pleas for breakfast.

The first photo above was actually the result of a glorious revelation: the sock bun is a passable style for the mornings my kids wake up at half-past-hell-no. That just happens to be what it  looked like when I took it down at the end of one of those days. Fortunately at this point, I had no illusion that I could roll my hair up in Mr. Strong's former gym sock before to heading to bed and wake up looking like Gisele Bundchen. If that were really possible, wouldn't Fruit of the Loom be like the number one Forbes-rated company for the past four quarters and make Apple and Microsoft look like, well, Blackerry? Just putting it out there.

I also tried oil pulling recently because I get headaches and it promised to reduce them, and also because it sounded like less work than making an owl out of a suit jacket.

And while I did it:

My son did this:

And this.

Because it TAKES 20 MINUTES TO WHITEN YOUR TEETH AND LOSE YOUR DIGNITY. Somebody should really tell Justin Bieber. It'd save him a crapload of money on hookers.

Twenty minutes of not being able to utter "Don't touch/eat/sit on/throw/rub that against yourself." When the tutorial suggests you start with five minutes and work your way up, I assumed it was because the consistency of coconut oil in your mouth would take some getting used to, and not because your child would have mastered the art of using a cordless drill in that short window.

One of the realizations of being a woman in this day and age and blah blah blah empowering something blah blah some more, is that there is beauty in acknowledging your own limitations, and also in Etsy, where you can pay someone more able than you to worry about creating the perfect Chevron stripe. A stripe that does not at any point, involve trying really hard not to swallow the toxins you've been swishing around your mouth in the time it takes for your youngest child to trap the dog in your silcone strainer.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not in a box, not with a fox

Once upon a time, I thought Playskool and Fisher Price had the market cornered on young children. They convinced me to part with Mr. T's hard-earned money because surely my children would be stimulated by brightly coloured playthings and spend hours amused and entertained.

And in some cases, they were right. But only when the toys in question played the most mind-numbingly annoying sounds that the kids loved to repeat over and over and over again, until I was convinced that even Nickelback would be preferable background noise. I was sure that as they got older, simple things like tissue paper would no longer entertain them as easily as it did when they were still under a year old.

That shows you just how much I really know about kids (which, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you know is very limited). The best toys I've gotten for my kids recently have come from Costco and the liquor store (there's a proud parenting moment for the baby books). No, it's not a seven-foot tall dollhouse, an economy pack of 4,600 stickers or a nice sauvignon blanc, but rather the boxes I carry our goodies home in.  Shooter and Little Dude will spend hours, hauling favourite toys in and out, pretending it's a car or a restaurant, or even just settling in to read a book.**

This must be somewhat of a relief  to Mr. T, because if the economy tanks and he ever finds himself out of a job resulting in the loss of our house, our kids will likely be satisfied living in the very best Hewlett-Packard has to offer.

At the very least, maybe this new discovery means we can finally part with the cat keyboard that plays La Cucaracha. 

 I am aware this is actually a cooler and not a box. Apparently Coleman also knows my kid better than Crayola.

**Disclaimer: This type of imaginative play is not the work of my stellar parenting. I can only assume they saw it on Sesame Street or Bubble Guppies.

This post is part of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), hosted by Greta from Gfunkified and Robin from Farewell Stranger. It's a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). They want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Somebody get me a muzzle

I"m generally a peacemaker. I hate conflict and confrontation and typically reserve it for really important issues like discrimination and people who pay money to see Justin Bieber in concert.

Tonight when Mr. T got home from work, he took our pre-kid "kid" and one of our real kids out for a walk. At the bottom of our hill, he saw a woman walking her own dog. Hers was not on a leash. Calgary has bylaws dictating dogs must be on a leash when in public space, except for off-leash parks, which this one was not. He politely - because he didn't want our dog to hear him speak rudely - informed the woman that our area is not an off-leash one and advised there's an off-leash park roughly a five minute drive from where we live. She argued that she always has her dog off leash and never has an issue. To which he replied that is irrelevant - her dog should be on a leash.

A bit of back story - last summer, Mr. T was nearly taken out by an off-leash dog in an on-leash area, when it ran between his legs during a training run. He was less than polite with the owner in that instance.

Today, the woman left in a huff. A couple minutes later, when Mr. T and my four-year old made their way back up the hill, they were met with an angry man (whom shall be known henceforth as Angry Man). Angry Man greeted him warmly: "You have a problem with my dog? Why don't you put your f---ing kid on a leash." IN FRONT OF MY CHILD. It went swimmingly from there.

To Mr. T's credit, he kept his cool in front of Shooter. I'm glad it wasn't me, because while we often joke that I'm the nice one in our relationship, I would place my bets on Angry Mom over Angry Man.

Like any person born and raised on evangelical sermons, I can narrow my argument down to three points:

* No dog can ever be assumed completely safe. Even if they aren't an obvious danger, chasing other dogs or people/runners, prevents other potential hazards. And as a wise friend pointed out, a child at eye level with a larger dog may be perceived as a threat if the dog doesn't like the eye contact. Which an owner might not know if their dog hasn't spent time around smaller children.

* There are days I would consider putting my child on a leash or, at the very least, in a dog cage, but child services has some pretty strict rules about that. Or so I'm told. Also, I've been informed that children and dogs are different. So there, Angry Man.

* Keep your cool in front of my child. No one gets to call her my "f---ing kid' except for me, in my head. Hours and hours of drug-free labour, tantrums and Elmo sing-a-longs  at least give me that right.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Friday would never do this to me

Here we are, 13 days into 2014. and I'd love to say I'm doing something inspiring and resolution-worthy tonight. Like running 12 km or organizing our pantry (the idea of which has really just become a bad joke around here). But Mr. T and I are parked on the couch watching Brew Dogs.

More accurately, he is watching Brew Dogs and I am tuning in randomly, wondering why the hosts are visiting an old folks home and trying to convert the elderly into craft beer drinkers. Isn't that called coercion, and essentially one step away from getting them to sign over their life savings? 

He says potato, I say unlawful. 

Tonight, I'm couch-bound because I'm grumpy. And I'm grumpy because it's Monday.

I always thought Monday unfairly had a bad reputation, but lately, she's been fighting for her Most Hated title.

In the past 15 hours since I reluctantly untangled myself from our duvet and set two feet on the floor, the following has happened:

* Little Dude teethed on a pack of Via instant vanilla latte in Starbucks before I could stop him. 

* A freak blizzard prevented me from making the drive to Costco, as planned.

* The wind and snow caused Shooter to slip and fall while walking to the car at preschool pick-up and sparked a meltdown that would terrify Gordon Ramsay.

* Little Dude removed his boots and socks on the drive home, and while I was stuffing his feet back into them, he swung one newly booted foot up and caught me in the mouth.

* Shooter was still really pissed about her wet pant legs and thought the people nine houses down should hear her discontent.

* My Yak Trax are broken and I haven't replaced them yet, so safely running on unshoveled sidewalks wasn't an option for stress relief.

* Did I allude to all the snow?**

**I have lived in Calgary for 32 years and I have not acclimatized to our weather. I'm actually a Hawaiian woman named Ailani trapped in a cranky Canadian's body. I also really enjoy Mei Tais. All the signs add up.

On a somewhat related note, a mouse committed suicide by climbing into the barbecue on the right a few weeks ago. I think we can safely assume the winter got to him too.

And suddenly I can no longer remember the reason I'm so angry. Because it's winter in Canada or because it's Monday?

Whatever. I'm positive that if this were Thursday, it would have been sunny all day, the sidewalks would be clear, and I would not have a fat lip right now.

Come on Tuesday. You have All Day Happy Hour written all over you.