Category Archives: Vexations

The Frozen Wasteland of Parenting

Oh Friends…

It has been a trying time of late here in our house.  Darling Daughter – who was 19months on Monday – has taken to screaming.  And when I say ‘screaming’ I mean screaming.  Like: horror flick, virgin girl screaming.  And I’m understanding that it has more to do with her lack of control over really anything in her life.  Honestly though, understanding will only get you so far.

screeching child

After that, it’s up to your good friends and alcohol.

And then, once the friends are gone home and you’ve slept off all the gin you drank (~ahem.  Hypothetically of course.  <cough>) and you wake up to the cherubic sounds of more god damned screaming you start to loose your mind a little bit.  I did what many have done in such circumstances: I asked facebook for help.

And you know what?  Facebook helped.  In a matter of 5 minutes – at 7:00 in the morning, mind – I had responses from several people.  They were all saying, “Chin up, it gets easier, it’s a phase, ignore it, you can do it” and so on.  It didn’t stop the screeching, I’m sad to say, but it did help.

It reminded me that I am not alone in this frozen wasteland of parenting.  And today, that’s all I needed.

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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations


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The End of Summer

Oy vey!

You know you’re a parent when you are celebrating – no wait – begging for the end of summer.

Remember the days when you would count down the days until summer started?  And you knew that once it got here, your days would be filled with miles of this:

Woohoo!  Sprinklers of freezing cold water!  Wheee!

Woohoo! Sprinklers of freezing cold water! Wheee!

And this:

toasted marshmallows... nom nom nom...

roasted marshmallows… nom nom nom…

and this?

All friends, all fun, all the time

All friends, all fun, all the time

Yeah, me too.  Summers were the best, right?

So what happened?  Because I’m a parent now, and really summers are more like this:

OMG who are you people?!

OMG who are you people?!

Actually, I run some businesses from home so it’s actually more like this in my house:

... who am I kidding?  I never wear suits anymore.

… who am I kidding? I never wear suits anymore.

And really?  It’s time for them to go back to school all ready.  Here, take your baby sister with you.  Nono, she’ll be fine I swear.

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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations


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Excitement, Exhaustion and Terror All in One!

This is me these days, people.  Excited because one of my dearest friends in the known Universe is getting married in 4 days (YAY!) in her adopted home of Nyack, New York.  I’m so happy for her, not in the least because I love and adore the person she’s chosen for the honour of sharing her life.  I’m excited too because this is our first “Family Vacation” since becoming a family of 5.

This also exhausts me.

Because: getting ready to leave the country with 5 people for 4 nights is a lot of work!  Thank God we’re travelling with my Mom and sister, because we’ve shared up the work that can be shared between us.  Thanks again, Amanda for sorting our the who-needs-a-passport thingy! (The answer is only people over the age of 18, if you’re entering the U.S. by car, just in case you too need to know.)  MOMD brought up the suitcases this weekend and put them in respective rooms so that the bigger kids could begin packing their belongings (which inevitably means either he or I have to unpack the cases to make sure that everything that’s needed is there, but whatever: they’re excited too).  He’s also made a list of what to pack, and cleaned the van inside and out so that we’re ready to tackle the Open Road like he and his family did.

Did you catch that part?  “…like he and his family did.”  Yeah, that right there, that is critical.

See, MOMD grew up in the heart of “The Big Land” as they like to call it.  I myself call it it the tip of an iceberg surrounded by vast amounts of nothingness.  I’m talking about Labrador City.  And while yes, technically there is another town (Wabush) close by, they are really one city.  And then there’s nothing else for like 750km’s on the Trans Canada Highway.  So while saying he grew up on an iceberg is not technically correct, he did grow up in the heart of nowhere.  What this meant is that he and his family spent a lot of time on the road, driving to places.  They would go back to the Island (what island?  THE Island: Newfoundland!) for vacations, and they’d go to Prince Edward Island, they even came to Toronto once, on a trip that’s best not talked about.  And all of this was done in a car.

Me, on the other hand…  well, I grew up in Toronto.  Unlike many of my friends, my parents had a trailer in the country; near a little town called Roseneath.  So I too spent my summers driving to destination.  The main difference is that my car trips were generally 90-120 minutes in length, where his were 2-3 day adventures.  Sadly, I am not one who enjoys spending endless time in a car.

Which is really funny given the traffic that I face often enough here in the GTA; but I digress.

When MOMD and I met (almost 15 years ago now!  WOW!) the longest I could really stomach to travel in total was 2.5 hours.  Seriously: that was my limit.  I go a little stir crazy, which coupled with my usual crazy is too much crazy.  One day remind me to tell you about our move to Halifax where we spent 2 solid days on the road.  It was…  gah.  I can’t even go there.

The trip to Nyack is just under 800km’s.  It’s certainly true that in the intervening years I have gotten better at longer stretches of travel, I approach the thought of a long car ride with trepidation.

And then you throw in 3 kids – one of whom is totally the poster child for Active Lifestyles – and I go directly to terror.  Do not stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  TERROR!

We’re looking at about a 10 hour trip.  TEN hours, people!  It’s time for the Wizards of the world to share Apparrating with us Muggles.


Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Family, Raising Kids, Vexations


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What’s in a Name?

I am a very happily married woman.  I’ve been married for more than 12 years now, and I can say with certainty that hitching my wagon to MOMD’s star was the best decision I’ve ever made.  And our wedding?  It was awesome, if I do say so myself.  The ceremony took place in a lovely church which we had been attending regularly for more than a year, in the Beach of Toronto.  Our reception happened at the Westin Harbour Castle, in Toronto on the waterfront.  It was the best party I ever threw, which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel about your wedding.

When MOMD and I tied the knot, I did not take his name.  If you’ve been around this blog for a while, this will come as no surprise.  What we did do though, was each of us took each other’s name.  Yes, you read that right: MOMD took my last name and added it to his.  I took his last name and added it to mine.  On our driver’s licenses, passports, health cards, all official ID we are hyphenated.  The rationale I used when I pitched the idea to MOMD was that if a hockey player leaves one team to join another team, the player gets a new jersey with the new team’s name and logo on it.  You’ll never see a TML jersey on a player on the Senator’s team.  Despite not being a sports fan at all, this analogy made sense to him.  Thus the SB moniker was born.

This weekend just past –  Thanksgiving weekend – I attended the wedding of my longtime friend to the love of his life.  It was a wonderful ceremony, and their reception was the party of the decade.  The bride, I am sure is keeping her last name.  Also getting married this weekend was another woman with whom I am a business associate.  She has taken her husband’s last name.

Neither occurrence is uncommon: every day people get married, and every day people choose either to change their name or not.  I try not to have opinions on the subject; it has no affect on my life, and frankly is none of my business either way.  What did you choose to do when you got married?  Are you happy with your choice?  Because really: to me, that’s all that matters.

So like I was saying: some people I know got married this weekend.  One of them posted on on facebook a few days later something about how it’s weird to have a different name.  This status update garnered some attention, most of it saying, “Yeah, I remember that too!” and one comment saying basically, “I just couldn’t get used to it and so I kept my name.”  That one little comment caused someone to post a very opinionated, non-supportive, response.  And the response had nothing to do at all really with the original post.  The jist of the reply was to the effect: “Part of the deal when you get married is taking his name.  Why get married if you don’t do this?  No matter what, you are ‘Mrs’ now.”

MAN did that comment set me off!  Who was this woman?  Who died and made her the judge of facebook nation?  More to the point: what is her problem?!?!  That one comment sent me back 12 years to when we first got married, and one of MOMD’s aunts said of our name “What’s this? She’s a Brown now!”  She was very put out that 1) I would choose not to take her family name and 2) she could not find us in the phone book, since she never bothered to learn how to spell my last name.

That one comment, made by a virtual stranger to me, set me on edge for months.  Literally.  I could not think of this woman, could not hear her name mentioned, without reliving that comment.  Looking back on it now, through the wisdom (*snicker* *snicker*, she thinks she’s ‘wise’ now *snicker* *snicker*) of my years, what I felt at the time, though I could not express it, was betrayed.  I felt judged by someone who was older than I was, and betrayed by a fellow woman who was not supporting a woman’s right to choose.

I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way; I’m sure choice has nothing to do with it.  In her mind, I joined the greatest family God ever created, and why wouldn’t I want to proudly proclaim that?  She wasn’t thinking about how it had been my name for my whole life, my own attachment to my family, my own pride in our history, about me at all in fact.  She was speaking her knee-jerk reaction.  (Emphasis on jerk.)

My marriage is just as important as anyone else’s.  It’s just as real, just as committed, just as loving, just as everything as someone who chose to take their husband’s name.  Or not to change their name at all. And don’t you dare call me “Mrs”.


Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Vexations


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In the past I have shared about my ongoing issues with weight.  It’s been a struggle of mine for much of my life, and one that I do not want to pass on to my children.  While it’s true that from time to time we go to chain, fast-food restaurants, it is far from the norm.  In fact, my kids get so excited about Subway, those other burger-based joints are routinely skipped over.  There are days though, where we end up in one.  We talk a lot about how it’s not healthy food, and why is it that stuff that is so bad for us (deep fried potatoes are linked to cancer – did you know that?) can taste so good in the moment.  We talk about how if we go to one of the chain restaurants, it’s only because we have all eaten really well that day, and will not be having any junk to eat afterwards.

MOMD’s position is everything in moderation.  And while I really am opposed to fast-food intellectually, why do those damn fries taste so good??

Anyway.  Yesterday was McHappy Day.  On Monday, Connor brought home a little note from school advising parents of that fact (a fact the kids were all ready well aware of, thanks to classroom discussion), and explaining that staff from his school would be working at the restaurant on Bayly from 3:30-5:00.  Further, money raised that day would be directed to a local children’s organization – The Grandview Centre.

When I saw this note, I had a little flicker of unease.  At first, I didn’t know exactly what it was, so I pushed the feeling down and got on with getting homework done, starting dinner and chasing the boys around.  I actually didn’t take the time to address my discomfort until we were sitting in the restaurant yesterday, the boys having just finished eating their dinners.  As it turns out, I have several issues with this.

One: There is a strong sense of community in schools.  Particularly in my son’s school, which is a Tribe school. This is great in many, many ways and I admit that I love his school pride and spirit.  However, it makes it very difficult to say “we aren’t participating” in a school activity, because it’s a value statement.  As his parents, when we say no, we are telling him that what he values is not important to us.  And ever since this, I’m working really hard not to do that.

Two: I don’t want to send the message that supporting charities that focus on children’s welfare is not important.  Especially since we have used the services of the beneficiary in this particular case (Sam’s hearing assessment happened at Grandview).  It’s a great opportunity to have a discussion about what kind of needs kids have, what the charities help them with, and ultimately helps my kids to see how much they have in their lives.

Three: (And this is the biggie) Schools are more and more, becoming places of health.  Connor has gym 4 days out of 5, has outdoor play 3 times a day, and even has a “healthy snack” program.  Kids are taught about food groups, healthy choices, unhealthy choices, and parents are talked to when lunch bags seem to be consistently unhealthy.  There’s a strong focus on educating both the parent and child in an effort to have healthier individuals in society.  Connor has even had marketing education: he came home from school one day talking about the lies in commercials.  I for one, think this is great.

Here’s where the disconnect comes in.

If we are working so hard to raise healthy people, why on earth would a school link arms with a fast-food restaurant?  Many schools – Connor’s included – are free of vending machines now: no pop, no chips, no chocolate bars.  If you want to buy a drink at school, you’re choices are either white or chocolate milk (whether or not that’s “healthy” is another debate altogether, so I’ll skip over it in this post).  If you didn’t bring your snacks, or you forgot your lunch, there are fruits and vegetables and yogurts.  These children are looking to parents and educators for guidance, they trust us.  And telling them “Let’s go to McDonalds to help kids and support out community,” is a departure from their usual message.  It muddies the waters, and makes it more difficult to explain to my kids that french fries are unhealthy and are making us sick, so we have to eat less of them.  When the school aligned themselves for this community day – which again I stress is a great initiative helping many, many people who need our help – they put a stamp of approval on the restaurant, and the food it serves.

It is that which I take issue with.  But am I crazy?  What do you think?  Am I overreacting?  Have your say in the comments.


Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Family, Food, Opinion, Raising Kids, Soap Box, Vexations


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Dental Work

Oh, I won’t regale you with all my pregnancy-related aches and pains…  because believe me: there are many.  This morning it was evident that I needed to clear my schedule and make time for an emergency massage.  What requires an emergency massage?  Well…

In a nutshell: a woman’s pelvis separates a little bit when she’s in her 3rd trimester, to make delivering the baby easier.  My pelvis began to do this a few weeks ago (it resulted in a trip to the hospital because of the pains it caused – third pregnancy is totally different from the first and second) and just this weekend, it has caused immense strain on my thigh muscles.  Pain was running from my thigh to my knee on my right leg, all weekend. This morning I woke up crying from the pains.  So – an emergency massage was in order.

I got an appointment booked for 9:30, got Sam to the sitter for 9 and between the two I stopped at the Early Years Centre and registered him for his May programs.  It was a busy but productive couple of minutes.  And the massage?  Oh…  oh it was heavenly.  I got off the table feeling completely relaxed, needing to get home to have a bath and continue to derive the benefits from the treatment.  After the bath I was hungry, so I got a banana, took a bite, and…  What is that crunchy bit?

(You forgot this piece was called “Dental Work”, didn’t you?)

I rooted around in my mouth to find…  a piece of my tooth.

Holy God…  my tooth just broke on a piece of banana… WTH?!?!

In the interest of full disclosure, this isn’t truly shocking.  I’ve known for probably 3 years now – maybe more – that this particular tooth needs a crown.  I have put it off because of the cost.  While we do have a fairly decent dental plan, it will only cover half of the costs for the procedure.  And really: aren’t things you would rather do with $400?  Never mind the fact that I have 2 kids who need clothes, shoes, winter snow suits, boots…  the list (and the associated costs!) is truly endless.  So yeah, I’ve been neglecting my mouth for a while.

Last summer I was eating something and this particular tooth chipped.  I knew the day was coming when I could no longer put off the work.  And now…  the day has come.  I have called my dentist and I have an appointment to see him tomorrow at 8:45 and assess the damage, as well as build a plan.  Because just to add to the pleasure of the moment, you may recall that I am also pregnant.  What can they do for a pregnant woman?  Am I allowed – at the 7 month mark – to lay on my back for the duration of an examination and subsequent treatment?  Do they need to take x-rays?  What do they do for pain management?  Can I have freezing?

So many questions… and just a little more stress… Can’t this just wait a few more months?  Please?

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Randomness, Sickness/Wellness, Vexations


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Does this mean I need to learn about Pokemon?

It seems I start out a lot of my posts responding to something I’ve seen on facebook.  Huh.  Well, you don’t judge me for my social outlets, and I won’t judge you for yours.  Deal?  Good.

Moving on…

A friend of mine posted this on facebook yesterday.  And wow – it smacked me like only something that is unavoidably the truth can:


If you have ever spent time with a child who is obsessed with Pokemon, you will understand why this hit me like a smack in the face.  Even other children who are not into Pokemon, are with me on this.  I know this, because I had a conversation with my 7.5 year old cousin a few weeks back, about how if he had to hear his sister and my son say another word about Pokemon, he was going to hit something.  My response to this comment was basically, “TESTIFY!”

So then, if I want my Pokemon-obsessed child to talk to me later about love and sex and drugs and whatnot, I need to be listening to him talk about Pokemon all day?  Is that I need to do?  Because…  because man.  I can work on that but it’s going to be so. tough.


Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Randomness, Vexations


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