Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I can't. My right nipple hurts.

Attention all readers: sign up as an official follower of my blog for a chance to win a hard cover edition of Postcards Never Written...yes, it's a literary masterpiece book. Yes, I won the Pulitzer Prize Saskatchewan Readers' Choice Award. 

I suck at a lot of things, including any sort of self-promotion. I loathe it. I spent roughly 2 years writing my book, and an additional 4 years contemplating whether or not I had the balls to release it. So what to do after spending almost 6 years making something happen? Spend a grand total of one minute marketing it. (a majority of this one minute involved handing the manuscript over to my parents and then running like hell in the opposite direction...)

So without further ado, allow me to toot my horn, albeit rather awkwardly. Thanks to very kind and generous friends, along with awesome word-of-mouth, I've sold out of books! It's now getting reprinted and I'll be getting more copies in early March. You can pre-order your very own copy on my website at

Here's my disclaimer:
  1. I've been told (by people other than my family) that it's funny. But really, who can you trust these days?
  2. If you don't like it, give it away to someone you hate.
  3. If there's no one you hate that badly, give it to your baby as chew toy.
  4. Once you decide it's not an appropriate chew toy for baby, toss it to your dog.
  5. If dog hates it, line litter box with pages. Cats, I suspect, have a very wicked sense of humour. Don't let their grouchy demeanor fool you. Whilst performing their daily constitution, I have a feeling they'd appreciate my humour. At the very least, they'll claw my pages, not your furniture.
  6. I donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of my book to World Vision - to date, I've donated over $10,000. That my friends, makes the aforementioned 6-year journey to write this book worth every minute.
I'll also be randomly selecting a follower from my blog to win their very own HARD COVER version of Postcards Never Written....that's right, hard cover!!! The hard cover edition will not be available for sale - other than my Mom and a few other peeps, you will be one of the few people on this planet to own one. It'll sort of give you the feeling of what it's like to almost be extinct.

Just click on the blue button on the right hand side of this blog that says "Join this site". All you have to do is type in a valid email address, that's it. You can even use a fake name and keep the grey stalker-like image for your profile pic if you choose. I don't care. The only time I'll have to lure you from your hiding spot is if you win this give-away, and even then, I'll keep your deets private. I'll randomly select a follower and the winner* will be announced the first week of March.

*side-effects of winning may include bouts of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and erectile dysfunction. Please see Doctor if symptoms persist. If you are in any way related to me, chances of winning are not good. Simply because I will randomly re-select someone else if I happen to pick you. But don't think you won't get anything from me. I'm not made of wood. You'll receive an all-inclusive weekend get-away package! Important note: the inclusive package part refers to my kids being shipped to you (C.O.D....have a heart. I'm paying for a new shipment of books over here), and the get-away part is in reference to me. Yeah! We're all winners.

Here's a sneak peek at the revised version of the cover:

For more information about my book, visit my website at

Huge thanks go out to Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas) and Joan McCusker (Olympic Gold Medalist and CBC sports commentator) for providing reviews for my book! I didn't even have to beg (very hard). Also, a heartfelt thank you to Kelle Hampton for writing the foreword for my book. If you haven't done so already, visit her blog at - trust me, she'll make you want to be a better person.

And a very special thank you to the lovely and talented Yvonne Parks! She has helped me out from day one, back to the first design of my book in 2007, to business cards and other graphics in between, to the recent creation and design of my blog. She's absolutely amazing, and I can't say enough great things about her. If you're in need of any design work, whether it be for something in print or a revamp of your blog, I highly recommend you check her out. For more on her work, visit her website at

Incidentally, her 9-year old daughter also has a blog...I have not met Aila in person, although her random thoughts and comments leave me in stitches. My all-time favourite?  When asked to help with the supper dishes, she responded: "I can't. My right nipple hurts." I totally stole her line for the title of this post because clearly, it's relevant to what I have to say. "You want me to deliver a highly-effective sales pitch to help promote my book, and bewitch you with my effusive charm so that you buy multiple copies for you and all your friends? I can't. My right nipple hurts." At any rate, she's a gem. Visit her blog by clicking here.

Now, I'm off to pack for a trip back to my homeland. If you don't hear from me for the next week, one of the following has likely happened:
  1. After surviving 5 hours in a vehicle with three small children, and no husband to help me, I'm suffering from a nervous breakdown. I'm in such a state, that I've decided to start farming with my five brothers. Send for help. Immediately.
  2. We're in the ditch somewhere between Moosomin and Virden. Having picked the KFC bucket clean, my children are now eating me to stay alive.
  3. I was having so much fun in a vehicle by myself with three small children, that I decided to blow right through Manitoba and blast into Ontario.
  4. I have smashed my parents' annoying dial-up modem through the wall, preventing me from further communication until my return.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jack's take on Isla's magic eyes...

In my quest to ensure that Isla feels at ease wearing her glasses, I decided to have a discussion with Jack about making sure he tells her he loves them, and that he looks after her if someone starts to tease her. I started by telling him that Peanut was a fairy-tale princess so she needs glasses. Here's how that discussion went down:

Me: Isla's a princess so she needs glasses.
Jack: Princesses don't wear glasses.
Me: Yes they do.
Jack: No. They don't. Only Queens wear glasses. And some old Kings, but not princesses.
Me: Well, then, time to write a fucking fairy tale where they do. Mommy wears glasses.
Jack: I guess mostly old people like you have glasses. You have movie glasses, Grandma Mariapolis and Grandma Snow Lake have reading glasses, Daddy has sun glasses. I guess everyone in the whole wide world has sun glasses.
Me: Yup. A lot of people have all kinds of glasses.
Jack: Why does Peanut have to wear them? She looks funny.
Me: Honey, Peanut has to because her eyes are magic. She needs them to help her see better. Her one eye isn't as strong as the other, and these glasses are going to help make it better. Most importantly, she needs you to look after her. Promise me you'll look out for her and help her out if someone's making fun of her? Pinky Square? (when we lock pinky fingers, he calls it a pinky square, instead of a pinky's too cute to correct.)
Jack: OK, Mommy. I promise. Pinky Square. Mommy, are you going to wear glasses until you're old as Grandma?
Me: Yup. And when I'm a Grandma, cuddling your babies, I'll wear my very best glasses so I can see them perfectly.
Jack: When will you be a Grandma?
Me: When you have babies. Then I'll be a Grandma to your babies!
Jack: Wait a'll be a Grandma and a Mom?
Me: Yup.
Jack: Aaaah...that's hard work.

You said it, son. The day after this discussion, Peanut was jumping up and down on a chair. Jack, having taken our discussion quite seriously, turned to her and screeched:

"Peanut! Would you quit banging around? You're going to hurt your loose eye."

And with that admonishment, they both turned back to the task at hand and went about their day. I'm not entirely sure where Jack got this idea from...I suspect the way Peanut's one eye rolls inward got him to thinking that it's actually loose. I'll have to explain to him that there's no danger of it actually falling out. I'll also have to explain that this sort of outburst of caring wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I told him to look out for her. At any rate, I suspect his intentions were good, and that's really all that matters.

As for Peanut? She's doing wonderfully with her new specs. I'll be honest, it was a bit of a tough slog at the beginning. After wearing them for one day, she wheeled up to me on her cart, handed me her glasses and stated:

"Me no want these no more, K?"

As I looked at her, my heart started aching all over again. I started the dangerous slide into a life's not fair mood. I was thinking that no two-year old should have to worry about keeping glasses up on her face. If I don't put the strap on them, they slide down her wee nose, if I put the strap on to hold them up, she gets welts. I'm told the skin will toughen up, but I hate watching her go through it.

So I told myself again:

Life's not fair. But life is good. She'll only think wearing glasses is a big deal if I let it be one. And it's not. I know that. I just want her to be happy. I want her to feel special, not different. I want to hand her the world. I want to protect her from heartache and pain and grief. I don't want her to have to worry about pushing glasses up on her tiny face while she's playing, or have the skin on her nose toughen up so it doesn't hurt. I just want her to be a kid and do kid things and run and laugh and play without worrying about keeping a pair of glasses on her little two-year-old face. I want everything to be perfect for her. But it won't be. That's not the way life works. And that's alright. We don't get to decide what we're handed, but we certainly get to decide how we make it work. That's life. And life is good.

The next day, she showed me how she's making it work. She was stringing beads on her Dora necklace. She can do that now, because she can see. In that moment, I could almost hear her telling me: Wearing glasses is no big deal, Mommy. I got this. That's life. And life is good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Can we have it all?

When it comes to making lists, I’m a complete nut job; I’ve been known to leave a note to remind myself to “make a list”. There’s something slightly sadistic and deranged about that. Mock me. My husband does. But seriously, I'm of the age now where I need to leave myself a sticky note on the washing machine if I've tossed something in there that can't be thrown in the dryer. This is usually a shirt I've thieved from my sister's closet; I have a propensity for ruining things that aren't mine. If I don't leave myself a note, I'll wander in there a mere forty-five minutes later, completely oblivious to the fact that I've put that shirt in the washing machine, and into the dryer the entire load goes. It's like I've dropped down from another planet. Forty five minutes...that's all it takes for certain parts of my brain to be wiped.

Furthermore, in my quest to do it all, I’m delusional in believing that writing out a detailed list of what I have to accomplish each week, and ticking the items off, will make me a better person which will magically equate to a more fulfilling life. At the start of each week, I wake with magnificent resolutions which include (but are not limited to) the following: start that blasted 30-day shred to eliminate post-babies paunch (formerly known as waist); morph into saucy minx and rock my husband’s world (my excuse du jour is that he hasn't visited Dr. Quick Snip yet, rendering the entire act far too dangerous...), figure out what I want to be when I grow up, have the guts to follow my dreams, spend more quality time with my children, return phone calls in a timely manner (translation: before a full year expires), find out how to keep a houseplant alive for more than three weeks (not including cacti) get all photos into digital albums, update baby journals, clean out cupboards to avoid massive trauma to the head, finish organizing the basement, paint bathroom, eat more vegetables, take vitamins, and be a better person in general, particularly to that one person who makes me want to coil into a ball and play dead whenever we’re in the same vicinity.

Let’s get right to the burning question, shall we? The one I ask myself while sorting dirty laundry, visualizing my husband’s castration as it’s apparent he’s physically unable to turn his filthy, mangy socks inside out before tossing them towards, not in, the hamper basket. The question is this – can we actually have it all? Or is it considered unforgivable to want more when we’ve already been blessed with plenty? While wiping the snot and spaghetti sauce from my child's beaming, “I-just-pooped-my-diaper-too” face, I often find myself drenched in melancholy while lamenting the loss of dreams yet to be fulfilled. And I wonder - when your dreams turn to dust, when they’ve successfully been snuffed out by years of going to work every day, monotonous chores, mountains of bills...what becomes of them? If I stopped long enough to have an intimate chat with my inner child, to ask her what it was she wanted again, I’m not even certain I would know which questions to ask anymore. And quite frankly, I’m scared of her. That little girl I remember all too well, would lay me out flat, outraged by how far I’ve strayed from what I wanted to be when I grew up.

For the record, let it be said that I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. (And I believed I had a huge head-start growing up with my five brothers.) I ended up being an agricultural economist. Hell, at least they rhyme. That’s a start. I ended up pursuing the latter because I knew it would make my parents proud. I grew up on a farm and my love for agriculture courses through my veins; perhaps not enough to foster a burning desire to farm with five brothers, though. In some cases, the high risk of insanity trumps preference. But I likely ended up being one of the very few Aggie students that used all course electives to pursue my love for psychology. While my friends were learning how to weld and inseminate a sow, two skills for which I have no idea how I’ve gotten this far in life without, I was in the throes of passion over psychology. My transcript reads like a woman on a mission to systematically destroy her brain: linear economic modelling, child psychology, price analysis, microeconomics, genetic analysis, macroeconomics, abnormal psychology, econometrics, financial accounting, social psychology, applied statistics...I need to stop now. My brain hurts. (from trying to remember what's currently in the washing machine...) 

For what it’s worth, I think we can have it all – just maybe not all at once. This is an important point to remember and one that often paralyzes me...I get an idea stuck in my head that I have to do this, followed immediately by I have to do this, right f*cking now, without for a moment considering it may be wise to perhaps drop something off the already generous to-do list. Hell, no. I'm not that smart; I just add it to the pile. Then, just to add to the already momentous amounts of fun, I call myself a big loser if I don't finish everything that week. (Which quite frankly, would often require breaking the time-space continuum but hey, quit whining you loooooooooooser.) Where does that voice come from? I would love to meet the little gremlin and strangle it.

My husband is completely baffled by my ongoing list of things to do. When when find ourselves with some spare time on our hands, the discussion inevitably goes something like this:

Him: Let's watch a movie.
Me: How about we knock a few things off our list, then watch a movie.
Him: What's there to do? The house is relatively clean.
Me: What's there to do? Why don't you start by going through your boxes of shit under the bed?
Him: Why? They're under the bed. No one can see it.
Me: Yeah, but I know they're there. It bugs me.
Him: You're a freak.
Me: Yes. But you said "I do"
Him: So this is the "for worse and in sickness" part?
Me: Hmmmm...yes.
Him: Out of pure curiosity, because that head of yours sometimes frightens me, who exactly is performing the audit on your list of things to do?

Ouch. Must be that gremlin, who I suspect will never be happy. Even if I collapse from exhaustion, there will always be more. I guess that's the beauty of life, right? There's more to do than can ever be done...and I'm slowly starting to accept that. And once in a while I stop and wonder, "What would it feel like to have everything done that I ever wanted to get done?" Friends, I'd be bored out of my mind. Not to mention, I'd have missed precious moments with my children that I'll never get back. Real-life application of economics degree: work is a fixed component. It ain't going nowhere. Time with children? Variable. They're only with us for a short while. For the time being, I need to adjust the equation. I'm learning I may need to put a few dreams on hold while my kids are young, while they need me. Cause one day they won't.

In the meantime, I'm going to attempt to make amendments to how I approach life in general. I need to slow down a little, sniff some cacti. I'll start by merging my own perspective on how I approach work, with my husband's perspective. He gets stuff done in his own time, and is usually much more content in the process. To illustrate our different approaches, here's a summary:

His motto: Eat, drink and be merry, for today may be your last.
My motto: Procrastination is like masturbation. It may feel great at the time, but in the end, you're really only f*cking yourself.
Combined motto: Eat, do a chore, drink, do a chore, be merry while doing anything, and fix that leaking faucet or today will be your last, and enjoy every day as if it were your last.

As for those dreams of mine? I've tucked some away in an imaginary box, to be opened again and examined more closely at a later date. I believe that dreams are often all that remains of our childhood, so they should be treated like precious jewels. Every once and a while, I'm going to pull out that box and have a look. I'm going to hold one of those dreams in my hand, and decide if now is the time to go after it. If yes? I'm going to go out there and do my best to make it happen. I'm going to adjust the equation to make it work. Supply of energy, and demand for it. Ebb and flow. Finding that optimum point. (Upon reflection, perhaps I needed that economics degree after all.)

The worst thing that can happen is someone will tell me they think my dream is silly...that it's just not possible. I'll nod and smile, and I'll be sure to thank them for their profound feedback. But I'm still going to go for it. I need to, so that one day I can look my children in the eye and boldly say that I lived my life with no excuses or apologies.

In my quest to have it all, though, I've learned one tiny secret...the secret to having it all is being fully aware that, in comparison to most of the world, you already do.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Her magic eyes...

We recently paid a visit to our optometrist to get Isla's eyes checked out. Seemingly overnight, she's developed a lazy eye. Or maybe two. Turns out, she's far-sighted. Apparently enough for the optometrist to warn me that her eyes were going to be noticeably magnified. Translation: she needs glasses. Really thick ones.

Remember our family photo shoot I told you about in my last post?
Turns out Terri is a magician, as well as being a brilliant photographer.
You would never know James had a huge bruise on his forehead (thanks to my sister...wait...).
Once again, she captured the money shots and a whole lot more.
This photo she took of Isla?
It's one of my favourites...melts my heart.
My beautiful princess.

As we were driving back home from the optometrist visit, I looked at Isla through my rear-view mirror. Her head was down, eyes closed...quite frankly, she looked like she'd been hit with a tranquilizer gun. (Which incidentally wasn't me because I wasn't carrying that day.) The drops they had put in her eyes to dilate her pupils were wreaking havoc on her vision. As I stared at her through the mirror, my heart started aching. I felt shattered. The best way to explain how I'm feeling is through a letter to her, my little Peanut. Here goes:

Dear Isla,
I found out something today that I think we've known all along.
As it turns out, all parts of you are magic.
Including those big, beautiful eyes of yours.
I wasn't upset about the fact that you have to wear glasses;
that's about as inconsequential as having to pull on a pair of pants everyday.
No, that wasn't it.
Wearing glasses is not a big deal.
Losing a loved one...that's a big deal.
Facing a life-threatening illness...that's a big deal.
This is not.
We won't let it be.
Why my heart starting aching really badly is because I know that one day,
someone's going to say something to you about your glasses,
and it'll hurt your feelings.
Your heart will feel so heavy with sadness,
that it might just feel like it's breaking.
It might even make you cry.
The worst part?
Their words may cut just enough to make you think less of yourself.
Honey, please don't ever let that happen.
The world does a good enough job of trying to knock you down;
promise me you won't ever do it to yourself.
Cause you know what we're going to do when that day comes?
When you come home the day it happens,
your heart breaking,
your big beautiful eyes spilling over with tears,
we're going to sit down on the floor,
and we're going to hug.
And I won't let go of you until you ask.
And you know what else we're going to do?
Right after Mommy thumps the little fucker who hurt you,
We're going to say a prayer for that person.
We're going to ask God to surround that person with love.
Because often, people who don't feel enough love themselves
only feel better when they knock others down.
Don't ask me to explain it, Peanut.
I don't completely understand it myself.
I think everyone's inherently good,
but sometimes,
some people just have a hard time showing it.
People who are bullies are hiding something else;
a pain they've felt,
or they're feeling,
and the only way they can get rid of it,
just for a moment,
is to hurt someone else.
Life's beaten them down,
so if they see someone who looks a little different,
and they think they've found an easy target,
they'll take aim and fire their useless shot.
That's all it is, Peanut.
A useless shot.
It's their only way of feeling bigger...
better...if only for a moment.
And that's alright.
It's their bag of shit to hold,
not yours.
The names they call you aren't important;
what you choose to believe about them is.
So let that ache in your heart morph into compassion for them;
let that break in your heart be an opening to feel more love for others.
But never let that pain make you think less of yourself.
Cause you know what, Peanut?
You get to come home to us every day
and be loved something silly for the rest of your life.
And that's a guarantee.
So promise me you'll surround yourself with friends who deserve you...
friends who love you for who you are.
Friends who know He made you perfect,
just the way you are.
Friends who don't want you to change one thing about yourself.
As for those magnificently huge, beautiful eyes of yours?
They're so full of magic we had to magnify them.
We had no choice.
It was the only way to make them as big as that heart of yours...
big enough so the whole, wide world can see that fire burning deep within.
Hold onto that.
Don't ever let another living soul snuff it out.
I'll tell you this: we're going to wear our matching glasses and paint this town red.
That's a promise, babe.
I love you.
You're beautiful. You're perfect. Every single, precious piece of you.
If you only remember one thing I've said, may it be this.

Love Mommy

Monday, February 6, 2012

The curse of the family photos...

Let me start with a few apologies. Over the past week, I've been alerted to two things:
  1. People who have sent me a message through my website have not received a response. Let me assure you Oprah and Ellen, for I have a feeling it was you cause you hound me every week, it's not because I don't love you and deeply admire what you do. It's just that it wasn't working properly. Up and restored. Send away.
  2. After watching videos on my blog, particularly How to kill a mocking turd... and What not to do 2 weeks after giving birth..., users have been subjected to related YouTube videos popping up, particularly some good old-fashioned porn. Apparently including the words “R-rated” and “giving birth” and "this has nothing to do with having sex" in my blog post gave YouTube (solid) justification to pop a related video on my blog of a woman named Beyoncé giving birth in a bathtub (not the Beyoncé, but still...), followed by a shall I say this....being delivered...doggy a man over a desk. Fair enough. Who am I to judge? At any rate, to those who were offended, my deepest apologies. To those who enjoyed, you're welcome. I successfully wasted 30 minutes of my life coding HTML to fix this problem so you'll now have to go elsewhere to get your thang on.
With that out of the way, on to the topic at hand. Family Photos....insert shudder. I'll confess, I'd rather pull out my eyelashes, one at a time, than take a family photo. Without fail, we all end up getting pissed off at each other, and look ridiculously irritated in the final snap. Getting one photo with everyone looking at the camera at the same time, both eyes open, with something resembling a smile is about as elusive as obtaining photographic evidence, or scat samples, of Sasquatch.  At some point, I'll show you the highlights of our ill-fated attempts to capture love and peace over the years, because dudes, do I have some shockers. Until then, let's talk about the appointment I had scheduled for James's 6-month photos a few weeks ago. I had initially booked it for Friday, January 13th. If I wasn't suspicious of Friday the 13ths before, I'm having second thoughts about it now. Because it hindsight, the whole venture may have been cursed right from the beginning.

So remember I told you the flu virus hit our home with the wrath of Genghis Khan? Well, so happens that was the day family photos were supposed to happen. That, and James had developed a nasty ear infection; seeing as he was the man of the hour, I cancelled and rescheduled for two weeks later to give him a chance to get better.

So, fast forward to the last week in January. Over the course of the two weeks leading up to the rescheduled appointment, a few things happened. James, as if sensing I was making fun of him for not sitting up yet, decided to do just that a day before he turned seven months old. But he didn't stop there. Immediately after accomplishing that, he decided to start crawling, grew a couple of front teeth to match his bottom two, and decided to start tackling the stairs. Within those two measly weeks between initial photo shoot and the rescheduled one, he went from cute little baby (hence the desire to capture the 6-month phase) to beat up looking I-do-stairs-now-and-other-badass-things. I may as well have rolled a pack of smokes up his sleeve and gotten his (inevitably horrible) Grade 10 photo out of the way.

Needless to say, he was almost bruise-free the day before the photo shoot. I was watching him like a hawk, keeping him as far away as possible from any potential danger; it was like he was in the witness protection program. The day before the shoot, I had made an appointment to get my naturally 27 years ago blonde hair enhanced. Translation: I looked like roadkill. A skunk, to be exact. My sister graciously agreed to watch James while I slipped out for my repairs. When I dropped him off at her house, I said something over-the-top grateful, like:

"Please don't let your kids claw at him like a pack of bush wolves."

I returned a while later to find him in good health, completely unscathed. Apparently my sister held him for the entire two hours to make sure he didn't get a scratch. I'm menacing like that. So I proceeded to bundle him up in his carseat, chatting away with my sister, blah, blah, blah, go to set him off in the corner by the door to start packing up the diaper bag, when we hear a gigantic thump. I looked over to see that the car seat had tipped, but he was still in there, trapped by the car seat cover I had snapped around the top. "What the hell happened there?" I thought.  We raced over to find that I had in fact not strapped him in. Rather, clearly I was too preoccupied chatting with my sister; when I was putting his sweater and jacket on, I must have had the sensation that I was strapping him in. Please don't ask how my brain works. (Quick answer: sometimes, it doesn't) At any rate, he had flipped around in his seat, was face down and had smoked, I repeat, SMOKED his head off the top of the carseat.

"I'm pretty sure that counts as being on your watch, not mine." my sister said. There was really nothing to do at that point but laugh, because I'm such a loser. (We only laughed AFTER we made sure he was alright. I'm not entirely heartless; he's a wee baby after all, not a toddler.)

So I called our photographer that night...told her what happened. Left out the details of how it actually happened, as I'm not sure she actively books lunatics for sessions.

I sent her a few photos...tried to make the damages appear small.

After reviewing these photos, here's what she said: "I'm a photographer. Not a magician." No, she didn't actually say this. She's far too nice for that. This is something I would have said to someone like me. Hence, why I don't take people's photos for a living. She, being the wonderful trooper that she is, told me to bring the family on down, she would see what she could do. Bless her cotton socks.

But that's not all. I then had to tell her that over the course of the past two weeks, my daughter has developed a lazy eye. I told her that I didn't want to talk about it in front of Peanut, make her feel bad about it, so not to worry about getting any shots where they're all looking straight at the camera. Doesn't appear that will be happening anytime soon. I'm not sure how this happened so quickly, but friends, her beautiful big eye is stuck. More on that optometrist visit in a post later this week. Here's what I'm talking about:

All this to say, my husband now refers to these maladies as The Curse of the Family Photos...

We soldiered on and got the photos taken. Terri Schous is a magnificent photographer here in Regina; we've gone to her for professional photos for all three of our kids so I can vouch for her. If you want the money shots of your wee babies, then she's your gal. As for the rest of our clan, I was one big hot, stinky mess during the entire photo shoot. Roddy had to dash off after a few minutes (fake meeting, I assume...) leaving me alone with three kids. I don't know whether it was the hot, bright lights, my cramps or just the pressure, but I don't think it was my finest hour. You see, I'm not good with professional photographers, period. This is by no means an indication of Terri's personality; hell, she's one of the nicest people on this planet. No, it's not that. It's more to do with their apparatus. I'm very frightened of their powerful I-can-see-that-nose-hair lens and that holy-shit-it-appears-as-though-you-have-not-slept-in-47-hours mug shot. That, and the smile on my face in most of these photos has an element of: "I sure as hell hope you're not capturing my face from that angle because let me tell you, I look completely bat-shit from that angle." I swear, you can sometimes see the actual fear in my eyes. Leave it to a professional photographer to capture that, too. (I prefer to call this realism, not vanity. Work with me, here.)

In the end, my husband took a few photos of me with the kids that weekend. Mainly because I had showered and got my hair done, which in and of itself is a brief, miraculous moment-in-time worth capturing. That, and I'm much more relaxed when we're not under the bright lights in a studio. I'm at my best when the pressure is off.

Here are some highlights:

Jack's new thing is to make this ridiculous face for all photos.
Wonder who he gets that from...
Needless to say, we can't seem to take a photo without looking like a pair of fools.
Which pretty much captures the both of us perfectly.
His joyful spirit leaves me breathless, and in tears of laughter. 

My little Peanut...oh, how she warms my heart. Her shy smile, her infectious giggle.
I think she knows she holds our hearts in her hands.
This little guy? He's the highlight of everyone's day.
There's usually a fight to see who can hold him and make him laugh first.
The good news? He's got a big enough heart to make us all feel special.
This picture makes me laugh. Hard.
I've heard that blowing on your child's face
will get them to look at you for photos.
That is, unless your breath makes them want to hurl.
Then they'll just close their eyes, attempt to click their heels three times
 and dream of being transported to Kansas.
Jack and my own little Jimmy Dean......

I'll leave you with this video of James's first official crawl. I had just put out this green playmat for him so he could get a better grip and learn how to crawl...turns out he didn't need it. Did a few yoga moves and then crawled right off the darn thing in less than a minute. Show-off. I love how textbook his crawl is as sliding around on the tummy to get used to the idea for this little guy. He decided to get right down to business. He's like a wind-up baby. Thump, thump, thump, thump. (It's also rather embarrassing to admit that his downward dog puts all my yoga attempts to shame. I may enlist him to do the 30-day shred with me...that'll give me someone else to yell at.)

p.s. if a porn-related yoga video pops up after this video as a result of the content in this post, well then, as the saying goes: "Namasté, motha f*ckas."

I may have recoded the HTML to "fix" this problem but with "me" and "HTML" in the same sentence, hell, in the same universe, there's a much better chance this blog will self-destruct. It's been nice knowing you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A word of advice on ice cream cakes...

They’re made from ice cream. They’re not really cakes. So when your lovely friends pay you a visit and hand-deliver a beautifully decorated red ice cream cake, you have to put it in the freezer. If you put it in the fridge, your poor unsuspecting husband will pad down the hallway the next morning, at the crack of dawn, to find a trail of red dye flowing across the floor. At first, his heart will stop, as he suspects his beloved has been stabbed. He’ll then follow the trail of “blood” that has leaked right up to your office door, to the pool of it deposited near the bottom of the fridge door. He’ll cautiously open the fridge, suspecting he’ll find the remains of your chopped up body, only to discover a mound of what used to be a cake. An ice cream cake.

You will then receive an email from him later that morning, stating: “Jesus. (Quit calling me Jesus...) Ice cream cakes are made out of frozen ice cream. Operative word here being frozen. They must go in the FREEZER. I damn near had a heart attack this morning. I was on my hands and knees for 25 minutes in an attempt to wipe up a 15-foot train of red ice cream juice. I thought someone had been stabbed and bled out on the kitchen floor.”

You will then pee your pants from laughing too hard, because your bladder can no longer handle this level of excitement. You will then thank Jesus that your husband woke up before you, thus saving you from mopping it up. You will also come to the sad realization that if somewhere along the way, you've incorporated the term "bled out" to your nomenclature for baseline communication, then you've likely watched far too many episodes of Breaking Bad and The Wire. The end.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Russian River....

What's new, pussycats? At this end, I've spent the past week making edits and revisions to my book...I'm fresh out of copies and need to get more printed. For those of you who aren't aware, I published a book back in 2007 titled Postcards Never Written. It's loosely based on a round-the-world trip I made with my husband back in 2001. It's about what really happens when you're travelling, along with the sanitized postcards sent home to the parents...sane people do not share everything with their parents. After all, why worry them? 

Side note: this is all fine until the day you decide to write a book about it and come to the following realization: "F*ck. My parents are going to read this whole thing." Gulp. "Better make it fiction." Followed by comments like, "Of course that's not what happened, Mom! God. Who do you think I am?"...eyes darting nervously from side to side..."It's fiction, for heaven's sake. Jeez. NO! I did not shit my pants on a chairlift. Do I look like a monster?" I could write an entire novella about that discussion. In the end though, they both gave me their blessing, which to me, is as good as getting it from the Pontiff himself.

I was over the moon when it was announced that my book was the winner of the Saskatchewan Readers' Choice Award and also listed by CBC as one of the top funny books in 2009. I continue to donate a portion of all proceeds to World Vision, and thanks to your amazing support and positive word-of-mouth, I've since donated over $10,000! That right there makes it all worth while. Thank you, from the bottom of my grateful, little heart. (You can learn more about my book by clicking on the photo of the book on the top, right hand side of this screen. You can also visit my website at

So, in the process of gearing up for my next printing, I scoured my book for typos and sentences that didn't make sense. (When you, and you alone, are the writer, editor, agent, marketer and publisher, things tend to get a little hazy...there's shit I wrote in there that I have no recollection of...did I mention I used to drink? A lot.)

Yesterday, I sent the final list of changes to my printer. I told him in advance that the list looked long and grotesque...well, because it was. Furthermore, I told him that I had come this far so I wanted it to be the best it could be. He refrained from telling me if that was the case, I should rewrite the whole effing thing. Small mercies he's polite that way. I'll tell you this: after reading my book again for the first time in years, I was slightly appalled by all the drinking stories. Several times, I had to put the book down to wipe tears from my eyes, stare off into space for a few minutes and wonder, was I really this off-the-hinge, and if so, for how many years?  I'm all for shaking a leg and enjoying your youth but hell, I need therapy just reminiscing about my past adventures, never mind what I must have needed back then. I believe the fancy new term for it now is intervention. At any rate, the point of writing the book in the first place was to make people laugh, and hopefully, it does just that.

I'm really excited to show you the updated cover, but it's not ready yet. Once everything's in place, I'll randomly choose a follower from this blog to win their very own updated copy of Postcards Never Written. Until then, I'll share this story from my book. 

For those of you who have commented that my son will kill me when he's older for sharing this video, How to kill a mocking turd...let me assure you, he'll die of embarrassment first, after reading the following story. Should we both survive the shame of full disclosure (oh, the horror of being honest...), he'll always have the upper hand; at least he was sitting on a toilet.

I share this story for one (or all) of the following reasons:
  1. It makes me out to be classy and sophisticated. (duh)
  2. In case you're having a crappy day (pun obviously intended) , my hopes are that this will make you laugh.
  3. In the off chance that you've soiled yourself today, and you're unbearably humiliated, may this give you hope that there is life beyond this disastrous moment, and you'll pull through to the other side. I promise.
Pick your poison; they all work for me.

A tale from Postcards Never Written...fact or fiction? I'll let you be the judge.
The chairlift incident…it still gives me the shivers when I think about it. I don’t even feel safe writing this in my journal, but chances are good that no one will ever read this. Here’s hoping. It happened during my third year at university, when about ten of us decided to head down to Whitefish, Montana for spring break. I don’t ski all that often (or well) but the thought of a vacation at a mountain resort sounded appealing.

Once there, we promptly agreed that it was far too cold to actually ski, not to mention the effort required, so we buckled down in our rental chalet and started to play a drinking game. The game itself was easy. Or so I thought. There was a deck of cards and you had to guess whether the card being flipped would be a black suit or a red suit. Not exactly a mind bender. (Hey, we were Aggies, not bio-chemical engineers. Translation: we were cool...other-side-of-the-pillow cool) But if you were wrong, you had to drink your beverage. Active listening not being one of my core strengths, I was downing my entire beverage each time, rather than taking just one sip. I don’t recall anyone mentioning the “one-sip” point during the initial reading of the rules. In a disastrously short period of time, I ingested copious amounts of alcohol and retired from the game rather early, finding comfort and solace face down in an empty pizza box.

The next day, wiped but determined, we got up and hit the slopes, ready to exercise and sweat out the alcohol and vanilla-cherry cigar impurities. Truthfully, I felt like death warmed up, however I put on a brave face for the crew. I even attempted to hit a few jumps on the way down to see if I looked anywhere near as cool as the Olympians on television. (Scattered reports gathered much later indicated that a three-legged mule strapped to skis would have appeared more graceful.)

Does it bear mentioning that this landing didn't go well?
This photo was taken on a different ski trip although my technique across all slopes remains uniformly consistent...
there's another word for it...horrific.
I can assure you, had I stuck that landing, there would've been shin splints.
As it turned out, my shins were the least of my concerns.

 I’m guessing that all the bumping about on the jumps led to the serious loosening of my guts. As I was lining up for the chairlift afterwards to head back up, my stomach started making some very strange sounds. It felt like something was kicking me from the inside – something large. With a violent temper.

My friend (who shall remain anonymous) was with me when I heaved myself back onto the chairlift. I was desperately trying to pay attention to her endless chattering, while all my focus was on not crapping in my ski-pants. I was in full state alarm. Have you ever tried to cross your legs in an awkward attempt to squeeze your ass cheeks together really hard, while wearing skis that are six feet long, whilst desperately clinging to a chairlift? No? Then, I dare you. Double-dog it.

The panic that overtook me can’t be described. Here I was, hundreds of feet in the air stuck on a chairlift, in minus God-knows-what temperature, about to ruin my brand new ski-pants. Really, can it get any worse than that? Noticing my discomfort, my friend asked me what was wrong and I told her that I didn’t know exactly, but I didn’t feel too good. I told her I had to go to the bathroom really badly, and that I didn’t know if I would be able to make it. I vaguely remember her asking what I meant exactly by not being able to make it. My answer came loud and clear; the sound that sliced through the crisp morning air, and ricocheted down through the valley, confirmed our worst fears. It was meant to be a tiny harmless fart to let some of the pressure escape, but it ended up being just a little bit more. This cat shat.

As Sigmund Freud so cleverly discovered when treating patients who experienced puzzling losses of normal functioning, the shame was merciless. I believe our friend Sigmund used the term hysteria to describe the aftermath of such an event, and suggested an associated unconscious conflict. I can’t comment on the unconscious conflict, but the conscious conflict I was having at that exact moment was not to faint with embarrassment, for fear of plunging to my death. My friend was laughing so hard she almost knocked the both of us off the chairlift with her incessantly shaking. As my good luck continued to run its course, she managed to catch her breath long enough to scream to our friends on the lift behind us, eloquently informing them of what had just happened. A voice like hers really travels through a mountain range; I’m certain only four hundred fellow skiers, give or take, heard about my accident. At least it was contained to that. When you're ready to die, four hundred people isn't that many. Did I mention I was suffering from hysteria? I made my friend ski right behind me all the way back to the chalet, just in case it was visible through my ski pants. Children don’t need to see these sorts of things.

In the end, it sounded worse than it was, with minor skid marks being the extent of the damage. I’ve clocked it as a small miracle. Although I did lose a few barrels of dignity that day, my ski-pants were salvageable. And really, that's all that matters; those things are expensive.

I’ve since heard of this vodka phenomenon being referred to as The Russian River. It was rushin', alright. Furthermore, let's be clear that the vodka company that produces Silent Sam should seriously rethink the name of their beverage. There’s nothing even remotely quiet about it.
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