Monthly Archives: February 2012

Teddy Bears & Sleepy Toys

When I was pregnant in the summer of 2003 with our first child (who came out and was named Connor) MOMD & I took a lovely vacation of the Eastern Provinces of Canada.  A friend of ours was getting married in Moncton, New Brunswick, and we decided that it was the perfect time to go and have a little tour of the Maritimes.  We had lived together for a short while in Halifax (over the fall of 2000 and the winter & spring of 2001), and so were really looking forward to going back to some of our favourite haunts (The Press Gang, The Brewery Market, and Mary’s Bread Basket to name but a few).  We decided too that we would spend a few days in Canada’s smallest (but mighty!) province, making up for the trip we had to cancel in May of 2001 to Prince Edward Island’s Cavendish Shore.

We planned it all out, flew into Halifax, rented a great little car and traveled around the Maritimes.  It was lovely – the weather was perfect every where we went, the wedding was emotional and heartfelt, and all of the food was amazing.  We had a great “farewell to couplehood” tour.  Of course, the change that was coming to our lives was never far from our minds.  Not in the least because I was nearing the end of the 1st trimester and was just chronically exhausted!  We were always on the lookout for a special “something” for the baby.  So when we stumbled upon this great little store in PEI, we had to go in.  What we came out with was this:

Ripley, still adorable, but certainly well loved.

He looks a little different now, as he was attached to Connor I swear almost surgically, for almost 6 years.  When we moved out to Ajax, and he got a “big boy room” with a bunk bed and all, he decided he was too old for sleepy toys.  Suffice to say though, he was a more-than-treasured companion for Connor for a long, long time.  Heaven forbid we not Ripley at bedtime ~ he could not sleep without him.

So when we found out we were carrying our second child, MOMD & I knew we’d have to once again find the perfect bear for baby number 2.  It was a long, long search.  I mean, most of the pregnancy.  I think we finally got Guber about 2-3 weeks before Sam was born.

And here's Guber. Doesn't he remind you a bit of "Bear in the Big Blue House"?

Sadly, this great little store is no longer around.  When we were there, the owner told us that she was in her last few weeks of having a store-front, explaining that she was moving to a solely online shop.  And now we can’t even find their website.  Thankfully we got there though, because Guber is the perfect bear for our Sam.  In fact, MOMD & Connor were scoping out the offerings on the website in advance of our trip, and Connor saw the bear and knew it was the right one for his brother-to-be.  And then, when I walked in the store, I saw it and I too was smitten and there were no other bears for us.  Guber is as much a part of Sam’s life as Ripley was of Connor’s.

And so now, now we’re expecting the last in the our line, and we found out yesterday that it’s a girl this time (happy dance!  Happy dance!!  Yay hurray for some ESTROGEN!!).  Which means (not because it’s a girl, but because it’s a new baby) that we need to find another perfect bear or sleepy toy for this little wonder.  But where to go?  I’m stumped.  Stymied, even.  Do you have any ideas?  I only have until July 5 to find the perfect toy for this perfect child…  help!


**Note: I still to this day regret not buying a shirt for my Dad in PEI that had this printed on it:


Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Family


Exterminating the ANTS!

No no, not in my house.  Well, they are sorta.  Allow me to explain:

I was away over the weekend on a retreat with my business.  One of the best parts of what I do is that it really is a personal development business.  I am challenged to stretch myself, to move beyond my comfort zone, and attain new understandings of myself – on a continual basis.  It’s fantastic.  And this weekend was no different.  One of the trainers (Halla back, Kelly GT!) introduced a really neat concept.  ANTS: Automatic Negative Thoughts.

The idea is that we all have thoughts.  All the time.  (You wouldn’t argue that, would you?) Sometimes we are aware of what we’re thinking, and sometimes we are not.  It’s really just this constant stream of chatter in our heads, which is why we are often not aware of it.  The first thing we need to do is tune into what we are thinking.  Often, first thing in the morning, my chatter sounds like this: “Oh…  all ready?  I’m not ready to get up… I want a few more minutes.  Of course, those lunches aren’t going to make themselves.  And I don’t hear the kids up here getting dressed, which means that we are all ready behind schedule, so I should get myself going so I can get them going too.  The light coming through the window looks a little grey but oddly bright…  Oh God please tell me it didn’t snow last night!  I’m sick of the winter!!  Where is the spring anyway?  I have some shoots in my garden from the bulbs that Sam & I planted last fall: if the snow kills them I will be crushed” And so on.  It’s not positive thinking, it’s not neutral thinking, it’s negative.  I’m thinking about what I don’t want.  And these are the first thoughts that I have in a day, which set the tone for the rest of my day.  These thoughts are automatic; they are ANTS.

Another example would be when you’re getting ready for your day.  You might be standing in front of your closet, you may be looking in the mirror.  Look at the thoughts that happen automatically: “I have nothing to wear..  GOD I love those pants, I wish I wasn’t so fat so I could actually wear them.” Or maybe “Ugg.  I look awful.  How come coffee can’t do anything for these bags under my eyes?  And why is it that I’m still getting pimples at 35?!?!”

I’m sure you get the picture.

We all have infestations of ANTS.  We need to get in there like an exterminator, and exterminate them!  Because it is true that what you think about, you bring about.  So how do you go about exterminating your ANTS?  You do it by finding positive thoughts to replace the negative ones with.  For some, this will be challenging.  In that case, you have to start by talking to the people who know the whole you (not just the mom/dad, the wife/husband, the coworker, the friend, etc), asking them what it is that they love about you.  What the trainer actually said was, “Ask them what makes you fabulous!”  The idea is that these people will be able to give you an arsenal of great, positive things about you – that you maybe don’t even see in yourself – and these become the tools in your ANT extermination.

I really love this idea.  I know that I can use some positive statements about myself – it’s been a long winter, and I am hard on myself at the best of times.  I’ve made my list of people to ask, and have even asked one of them all ready.  I encourage you to do the same.  Make a list, get in touch with the people you want to ask, explain to them what you are doing (so they don’t think you are looking for an ego-stroke), and ask them to tell you what makes you fabulous.  You will be amazed at the feedback.  I bet you even get an Automatic Smile on your face.

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Randomness, Sickness/Wellness



Product/Service Review (sort of)

During this 3rd pregnancy of mine, I’ve had a lot of headaches.  And I mean a lot.  There was a period in January that lasted for 10 days without reprieve.  I am a regular migraine sufferer, so I can manage a headache just fine.  But to last for 10 days?  That’s just evil!  Thankfully, the veil did lift and the pain subsided.  Since then I’ve had one or two headaches a week.  I can deal with that.

Especially since I have a chiropractor who is very gifted, and a dear friend who is an RMT!  These angels among us have made a huge difference in my life recently, and I am for ever grateful for them (and by “them” I mean you Ron & you Treela.  Love you guys!!).  At my last visit, my chiropractor commented that the headaches I was describing sounded a lot like eye strain.  And I thought, “Well, that make sense.  Since I’ve been without glasses for a year and a half now…”  So I left his office firmly resolved to get some new ones.

My first stop – as with many people, I expect – was to Lenscrafters.  I had a great time picking out frames and trying them on, sending pictures to my sister to get her feedback, as well as my niece’s, making sure that I got a good pair of specs.  We picked a fabulous pair, and there was a 30% off the frames and lenses sale happening, and I was stoked!  I would have glasses in about an hour!  The very friendly and helpful sales associate tallied everything up, and the total cost was $396.


“Wow…” I said.  “The frames were ticketed at $160, less 30% right?” The sales associate nodded her head.  “Then how did we get to $400?”  She showed me the math and somehow, my glasses were about to cost me $400.  The last time I bought glasses, I got regular ones as well as a pair of prescription sunglasses, and the total was $278.  I said to her, “Is it just me?  Or have the prices really jumped?”  She solemnly nodded her head, obviously knowing that I was about to leave and not come back.  She did her part to help me – offered a cheaper lens than their standard one, as well as giving me an application for credit to defer the payments for 6 months, but really?  I did not want to pay $400 for one pair of glasses.  Yes, we have benefits and so I would be reimbursed for the majority of the cost but still!  I love a deal (as I talked about here) and this was no deal my friends.

So I did something I’ve thought about before, but never actually gone ahead and done.  I went to and I bought my glasses online.  They have very helpful tools to make sure you get the right sizing information, the right placement of the centre of your lenses, all the FAQ’s you can imagine, plus: 365-day, no-questions-asked, money-back-guarantee.  How could I go wrong?  What did I have to lose?  With the help of MOMD we got my measurements sorted out, I entered the details from my prescription (I saw the optometrist in October of 2011, so it’s a new prescription), et…  voila!  I had ordered a pair of glasses as well as 3 boxes of contact lenses.  The shipping was complimentary, and my package scheduled to arrive at my door on Friday, February 24.  My total?  $157.28.

That? That my friends, is a wicked deal.

And so, I was happy.  Everso happy in fact!  I was telling everyone about my online find, and promising to let them know what happens when the package arrives.

Today, my doorbell rang.  “Who could that be,” I wondered.  It was Purolator, arriving with my package from Clearly Contacts.  Wow!  It’s 3 days early!  My positive experience was even more so now!  I excitedly sat at the table, opened my box, and found my contact lenses, my glasses PLUS a free pair of sunglasses!  Which look awesome on me, just incase you’re wondering.

I tried the glasses on right away and…  well, I’m bummed.  I’m not going to keep them because the lenses are too shallow.  Does that make sense to you?  They’re small, like readers.  You know the glasses that librarians stereotypically have perched on their noses?  Yeah – they’re like that.  And I like a bigger lens.  But the contacts are great – I’ve been wearing them for about 2 hours now and I’m not having any reaction.  Which is a blessed relief, let me tell you!  So, since I knew what I was going to keep and what I need to return, I started looking on their site for how to do this.

In the end, I decided not to wade through the morass of information on my own.  I simply clicked on the “chat live with a customer service rep now” button (they have a phone number which I could have easily called, but every time I end up on the phone, my 3-year-old turns into a screaming banshee.  So chat is a great feature for me) and a friendly avatar named Aaron appeared to help me.

Turns out?  Returning is totally easy!  Aaron emailed me a waybill right away and confirmed that YES, Clearly Contacts pays for the return shipment as well.  Once they receive the package, the return is processed, and my credit card on file for that order will be credited the amount of the glasses.  Easy-squeezey like a cheesey.  And now I know a little more about what to look for with lens size information, so I will get back to shopping today.

My verdict?  Clearly Contacts rocks.  I don’t think I will ever again pay retail for my eye-wear needs.   If you decide to take a look at their site, and then find something you just have to have, email me at mmichellesATgmailDOTcom so that I can refer you.  You’ll get a discount on your purchase, I think it’s like 30%, so it’s totally worth the moment it takes to email me.

Happy shopping!

Information shared here is totally biased, based solely on my personal experience.  I was not paid for this review, but if you want to pay me I accept cash and/or cheques.


Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Opinion



Pancakes & Pork Products for Everyone!

Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday; or, more commonly knows as Pancake Day, or Fat Tuesday.  It marks the last day before Christians enter a period of fasting known as Lent, the idea being that you fill up on all the fatty, delicious foods that you’re going to be abstaining from to honour Christ’s 40 days in the desert.  For more on Lent, click here.

So every Pancake Day MOMD & I host a big ol’ feast.  Now, when we moved out to Ajax though, it wasn’t really realistic to expect the usual gang to come out here for dinner.  Not in rush-hour traffic, with young kids, who all have school the next day.  So we moved it to happen on the weekend immediately preceding the day.  What a happy coincidence that this year Family Day was just before pancake day!  We had 25 relations (of the blood or of the heart – we aren’t picky) come for the annual feast today and man.  What a feast it was.

6 batches of our renowned pancakes, 3lbs of sausages, 5lbs of bacon and 5lbs of peameal bacon, 4 dozen eggs and 36 cups of coffee to wash it all down (oh — and juice boxes for the kids too).  A bunch of plates (dish ware and disposable), cutlery, coffee cups, napkins and we had ourselves a feast.

At one point, while pork products were frying and pancakes were cooking, one of my Aunts (who I named Mistress of Pork today) said, “Michelle, I don’t know what we’d do if you guys stopped hosting this event.”  I laughed it off saying, “Someone else would carry on the tradition I’m sure.”

But here’s the truth: I don’t think MOMD & I would host this every year if the guests were not the people they are.  Here’s why.  Because they are happy to bring whatever we ask them to, they cheerfully pitch in in the kitchen with cooking, preparing, presenting whatever is needed, they’re there.  The best part though?  They always clean up too.  Seriously!  When the last of them had left, there was pretty much nothing for us left to do expect put away a few dishes.  So you hear that we had 25 people for brunch, and that we ate on real-live plates, with real-live cutlery, and you think, “Are they insane?!?!” And you know, the answer may be yes.  I’m not going to argue with that hypothesis.  I will say that it’s not quite so daunting a task when you factor in the help of all of the able-bodied adults who attend.  It really is a group effort, full of chatting, laughter and love.

So Aunty, not to worry.  As long as you all keep doing everything with us, we are happy to have you. And may there always be pork products for all.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Family, Food


Little Luxuries

It’s become somewhat of a habit for MOMD to take the kids and be gone for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  And I am always left wondering what to do with myself…  Sure, I could sort the mess of clothes on the floor in my room, or find a place to put away the clean clothes on the pile at the foot of my bed.  I could take the dog out for a walk, I could make a cuppa tea and read, I could make some phone calls that I’ve always got to make…

And some days, I decide to just luxuriate.  Like I did today.  I drew a steaming hot bath in my double-sized tub, filled a huge cup with ice and cold water, grabbed some delicious dark chocolate and my current book, and I soaked.  When I got out of the tub I did a face mask.  I scrubbed my feet, and then lotioned them up and slid them into socks so they stayed warm and clean and soft.

Every time I do this, I feel so much better.  No matter what my mood was before the bath, it’s always improved by a little pampering.  The chocolate and the foot-scrubbing are not always part of the routine – most times, I just soak with a book and the water (have to keep my temperature down, don’t you know).  I’ve heard it said before that surrounding our bodies in water is one of the most therapeutic things we can do.  The people who tell me this are adamant that bathing is not the same as showering, and while you may feel good after a shower, you will feel immensely better after a bath.

I can say conclusively that this is true for me.  And apparently, Hippocrates from ancient Greece agrees with me.  I’m not sure there’s a lot of science behind why I appreciate a bath; I say this because I feel even more luxuriant when I take that bath in the middle of the day.  I think because it’s so far outside my routine…  and really, there is no one to focus on when I’m in the tub except for me.  All of the niggly little thoughts that have been vying for attention in my head get it when I am alone.  As I take care of other people’s needs all day long, when I take a moment to care for my needs – in the middle of a day even – I feel indulgent.

Even more so if it involves a glass of wine and/or some delicious dark chocolate!

So: take it from me.  It’s totally worth it to take advantage of the little luxuries when the moment to do so presents itself.  Work will always be there when you get out of the tub, and you’ll be so much more effective – happy to do it even – after a good soak.

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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Randomness



So I was thinking today about how it’s been a couple of days since I’ve blogged, and that I should probably do something about that.  But…  what to write??  And then I thought, “Maybe I’ll just read my book.”  And then it hit me: I could write a list of books that I’ve read and re-read, and love.  And maybe, if you feel so inclined, you could add to the comments your list of favourite books.  That way I can add to my pile of books to read.  Because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s running out of good reading material.

And, without further aidue, here’s my list of books:

Not Wanted on the Voyage, Timothy Findlay

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

The World According to Garp, John Irving

The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill

The Twilight Series, Stephanie Meyers (hey!  Don’t you judge me…)

The Outlander Series, Diana Gabaldon

Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling

Battle Royale, Koushun Takami

Game of Thrones Series, George R. r. Martin

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Wayne Johnston

The Divine Ryans, Wayne Johnston

I am confident that there are so many more to list…  but I’ve sat on this post for 3 days now, and I just want to get something on my blog!  It’s been too long.  And so, I post this list as a starting point.  As new titles occur to me, I will add them.

Generally I find that I can’t go wrong with a book penned by either Guy Gavriel Kay or Timothy Findlay.  Or Wayne Johnston.

Please — take a moment and comment on this post, sharing your favourite all time books.

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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Randomness


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A Movie Review (sort of)

On the weekend I did something I’ve never done before: I went to see a movie with just one child.  Connor – my oldest – and I went.  You may be wondering why, if he is my oldest, this is the first time I’ve been to see a movie with just him.  Well, that’s a fair question.  When we had just him, we often went to see movies together, as a family.  Then, when Sam came on the scene, movies were seen by Connor and his Dad.  They have always been very close, Connor and MOMD.  It’s lovely, it really is.  But I’ll admit, there were times when it made me sad.  I wanted to be important to him too…  If you have any experience with any 18-month old child, you will know that they can be stubborn!  No amount of cajoling would convince him that I was just as good as his Dad.  And, over time, this took it’s toll on me, I suppose.  I allowed the distance to remain between us, and maybe even encouraged the gap.  This was all done without intention mind you, and now that I’ve become aware of what I’m doing (repeating the pattern my Dad initiated with me) I am taking steps to rectify it.

Interestingly enough, I’m not sure that Connor even realizes I don’t feel close to him.  And so we go back to what I talked about here, where perception is truth in the eye of the beholder…

Wow!  this was supposed to be a light and fluffy movie review.  Sorry guys!!  I’ll get to that right now.

We saw “Big Miracle”.

“Big Miracle” Universal Studios, Anonymous Content, Working Title Films

If you’re not familiar with this movie, it is the story of 3 whales who wind up trapped in ice in Alaska, very likely to die.  The people who live in Barrow, and eventually the world, band together and mount a rescue attempt.

When I saw the commercial for it, I said to MOMD, “Connor would really enjoy that, I think.”  He readily agreed with me.  You see, both of my kids love nature stories.  They have watched National Geographic Kids shows about animals, they love shows like Wild Kratts and Zoboomafoom.  They love to read about animals and the world around us.  So I was sure this was right up Connor’s alley (Sam doesn’t have the attention to sit through a movie yet.  And he cries when the lights go down. So, no movies for him).  On Saturday afternoon, Connor & I took the gift card he got from his Nana & Grampa for Christmas (thanks again, Nan & Grampa!) and headed up to the theatre.

I had told him what the show was about and he was excited.  What I didn’t consider when we went to see this show, was that it’s a Hollywood film and as such would have story lines that do not interest him at all.  Some of these included:

  1. The struggle of a female reporter in LA goes through to be taken seriously by her news station.
  2. Watching 2 people who have a failed relationship in their past come to work together on rescue efforts, and all the drama that comes with that.
  3. The news reporting segments which are used to move the narrative forward (and are actual newsreels, I might add, from the time that this story actually took place).

Connor enjoyed the movie in large part.  The story of the whales was obviously what he cared most about.  He did find it tough to follow the subtitles when the Russians were talking (they move on the screen so quickly that it’s hard for him to read it in time) so I read those out loud for him.  When his Dad asked if he liked it he said, “Yeah, it was pretty good.”

I would say that it was a little too much for him.  There were some parts that really upset him, some parts (see list above) that bored him out of his mind, and some parts that he really was riveted by.  For me, I loved having the chance to be alone with him… he’s almost 8 now and soon these moments will be fewer and farther between.  I enjoyed the story, and I love John Krasinski & Kristin Bell.

I don’t really get into number gradings.  Mostly because numbers can be subjective: is a 6/10 good or bad?  So what I think I’d like my rating scale to look like is this: Don’t see it (that means we hated it).  Good, but rent it (it was worth watching, but not worth $30 in the theatre). Go see it NOW.  Don’t walk, RUN.

Now that you understand my scale, I’m going to give this movie a solid “Good, but Rent it.”  Now goodluck finding a video store…

Movie poster used without permission.  Information shared here came in large part from my experience with the movie, and little details from IMDB.  I was not paid for this review, but if you want to pay me I accept cash and/or cheques.

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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Opinion