Thursday, 30 July 2009

Mean comments not welcome!

Apparently I wrote my first controversial post this past week. Someone read this and found it completely offensive to the point where yesterday I had to keep monitoring the comments section and deleting her's.

I won't go into what she said but the gist of it was that I was the only person that attended the Thomas event who found it irritating and not worth the 50 bucks. At first I wondered if she was related to Thomas somehow but then remembered oh yeah he's an imaginary train, a cash cow, a toy.

It was a children's event not a political debate or a human rights rally. I am allowed to say I didn't like the way it was run and as the consumer I am certainly justified in feeling that it wasn't worth the hard earned money we spent!

After she noticed that I was deleting her comments she fired off a few more to me. This time she really let me have it claiming that my blog was not democratic and had I ever heard of freedom of speech (I'm paraphrasing now - the last thing I need is for her to accuse me of misquoting her!), that I only published comments that supported my viewpoints. I then had to put on the comment moderation so that I could do just that. In the last comment she left she gave her email address and full name. I hit delete with great joy.

I have a few things to say about mean comments. First of all, this is my blog and I can choose not to be democratic if I want. I'm sharing some personal stories about my life here. If it offends you, please move along, I don't want to waste your time. If you feel that you need to tell me off, please don't. I'll be getting plenty of that in the next 18 years by my child.

In the almost two years of blogging (six months of which has been more than just pictures posted for family and close friends) I have never once experienced so much as a negative thought about it. People have been kind and supportive and just plain lovely. That's what I want. I'll just be honest. I'm not interested in nasty. I will delete your comment if it hurts my feelings. It's my blog and I can do that if I want to.

PS here is a picture of Deaglan at the family wedding we were in last week. I brought a bunch of goodies to distract him and told the kind person who offered to help to take out the bag of chips as the absolute emergency measure. It was like magic. He stopped crying (the couple were saying their vows) and settled down to eat.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A Day Out With Thomas and Friends

We went to see Thomas the tank engine on Sunday. We've sort of been plugging Thomas and his buddies shamelessly - the Rev W. Awdry would be proud of us. I'm not sure exactly why we want Deaglan to love Thomas but we've been collecting the pieces to build a train set, we watch the show on Treehouse all the time and I even found six DVD's of different episodes at Costco for $24.99.

So when we found out that Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt were coming to a town near us, we bought tickets and counted down the days. Everytime the ad for this event came on, Deaglan would squeal, point and say "Taw-Ass!" Parents really need to harness this power they have over their kids and use it wisely. (I don't know if Shaune and I are the sharpest knives in the drawer encouraging him to covet such an expensive toy - but that's fodder for another post).

Anyway the day arrived and reality couldn't have been further from our expectations. For one thing we were met with monsoon-like weather as soon as we left the shelter of our car without umbrellas or proper foot gear. By the end of the day I could have easily rocked out on stage with Alice Cooper and fit right in. However, the weather was the least of our annoyances.

Apparently I had misunderstood the ticket buying process. So when I went to pick up the $50. tickets ($21.99 for each Shaune and I -Deaglan was free because he is under two), the lady told me that my train reservation was that morning at 8:45 and it was now 12:30 pm so we had missed our train. And before I could swallow the lump of anger that had risen in my throat, she said in the most condescending way: We'll try to fit you on the train but you'll have to wait until all of the passengers who booked their tickets properly get on - you and your family may not get to sit beside each other.

And do you know what that $50 got us???? A freaking 25 minute train ride in a stuffy old, out of commission train car whose windows were sealed shut, jammed full of other irritated parents with hyped up toddlers screetching to see Thomas.

There were all sorts of booths and kiosks too but these were selling Thomas paraphernalia at inflated crazy prices. The only 'free' offerings were a tired out old balloon-animal lady whose heart must have sank every time she looked up to see a line of about 60 families all waiting to ask for a giraffe or weiner dog and three big buckets full of dish soap and enormous plastic tennis racket-like contraptions meant to be used to blow bubbles.

And Deaglan? I swear that the terrible two's officially began right there in the rain amidst the soapy puddles of water while my mascara was running in streams down my face. I could not wrangle that kid to save my life. He was a mouthy, unruly little wild man shouting "nnnoooo!!" at every single thing we said. And every time I tried to pick him up to get to the next place he acted as if I beat him on a regular basis, writhing and wriggling out of my grasp. If someone had bothered to get it on film it would have made an effective birth control ad!

At the beginning of the day we had excitedly planned to take advantage of some of the other features of the town in which the event was held. But by the end of that $50 train ride Shaune and I wanted to get as far away from Thomas and his friends as we could. We walked the half mile to the parking spot - I'm still surprised that we weren't charged for parking - and drove home in silence.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Love it when a hotshot puts his reputation on the line

Thursday, 23 July 2009

No thanks to Simon Cowell

I don't know if we're doing this next generation any favours with shows like American Idol and America's got talent or even Hannah Montanna for that matter. These programs that foster the idea that success is found by winning a contest or that the only kind of success that counts is that found in showbusiness really challenges our roles as parents who want to raise kids with sound goals and values.

I was watching one of these shows the other night and a twenty-year-old kid said that if he won the million dollars he would want his mom to quit working. The camera then found his mother (who looked to be about 40 if that) at stage left beaming trying to look teary-eyed as a stray tear fell down her cheek.

I felt none of the things I'm sure I was supposed to feel. No sympathy for this kid who hadn't yet made it, no feelings of I hope you get to stop working lady after all these long years - what's it been 10 years in the workforce - of doing what - working at some midlevel office job?

It's a shame that so many young people think hard work the old fashioned way is for chumps. It's frightening hearing so many teenaged girls wishing they could be super models, or the next Britney or Paris. TV makes this looks so possible, like if they were just given the opportunity, they could rise to instant fame.

I read a news article where they were interviewing junior high students, and when asked what these kids wanted to do when they were grew up a majority of them said things like: I want to be an actress or I want to be a movie producer or I want to design clothes or I want to live in New York and write screenplays. One girl even said that she wanted to be a socialite like Paris! I'm not kidding. And very few said things like: I want to be a teacher or a policeman or a doctor or help people.

Celebrity culture's destructive presence is seeping into our homes on all levels it seems. It's hard to know what to do about it since isolating your children can't be healthy either. I mean let's face it, we do let Deaglan watch some TV but even the children's shows that we grew up with use pop culture's influence to increase their viewership. On Sesame Street a while ago, the puppets (muppets?) were spoofing a popular music video to teach the word of the day and the letter of the day.

Parenting is hard enough on it's own but having to compete with instant fame and rich socialites is another ball game alltogether. We really have our work cut out for us!

Monday, 20 July 2009


Yesterday marked the two year anniversary since our sweet Judge passed away. We stayed in a hotel in our hometown on Saturday night and yesterday morning I was lucky enough to get to sleep in a bit while Shaune and Deaglan went out for a Tim Horton's run. When they came back I asked Shaune if he remembered what day it was and told him when he looked at me blankly. However, strangely enough, before getting the coffee, he had taken Deaglan to the boat docks where we used to go several times a day during the hot summers to let Judge cool off in the St. Clair River.

When he died I couldn't imagine ever feeling okay again. I was five months pregnant with Deaglan and we were on the verge of moving to the house we live in now. I felt paralyzed with grief. He had been the centre of my life for over 11 years and knowing what I know now, I thought about him in sort of the same way one does their child. I felt that I was betraying him by leaving the place we had last been together by moving. We had his remains cremated and the ashes are in a small sealed cedar box on our bedroom dresser surrounded by wonderful pictures of us together over his lifetime.

We were definitely "dog people". We tried to take him everywhere we went and if that wasn't possible we either had one of our friends or family stay at our house or took him to a doggie daycare.

Judge wasn't technically a good dog per se. He loved to eat and this got him into all sorts of predicaments. We learned early on that he could break into the fridge and pilfer whatever was inside. And by whatever friends, I mean anything and everything. So Shaune was forced to "lock" the fridge with bungee cords. This solved the problem as long as we were absolutely meticulous about locking up after every use.

We adored him. We used to get defensive when people would hint that maybe he could have used some training (After a while I didn't bother to explain that we did take him to obedience classes but he just wasn't really interested). We argued that he was "unbroken" and just being himself. He slept in our bed with us, sat on the furniture with us (often Shaune would move to the floor if he felt that Judge needed to sprawl out on the entire couch), and went on all of our vacations with us. If a hotel didn't allow dogs than we didn't stay there.

In the last year of his life he became very sick with insulin dependent diabetes. Shaune and I didn't flinch when we found out that we would need to inject two very high doses into the loose skin on his back twice a day. We also had to alternate coming home for lunch from work because he would need to eat his lunch take a bathroom break. It didn't bother us a bit. Oddly, the diabetes isn't what took him from us. Cancer formed suddenly on one of his organs and spread like wildfire. He woke up coughing one morning and something inside of me urged me to take him in immediately. By the end of that day he was gone.

We tried to give him a terrific life. He certainly couldn't have been loved anymore. Sometimes I do wish that Deaglan had gotten the chance to meet him. But then I wonder how Judge would have handled the shift in focus from him to the baby. In some ways I'm glad he never had to find out.

Rest in peace my sweet furry boy and thank you for all the joy you brought to my life!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Practical magic

Did I ever tell you about my threader? Her name is Suk (pronounced Sook) and she runs a “for women only” spa. My dentist Pam told me about her one day last year as she was checking over the work the hygienist had just finished in my mouth. I’ve told myself that she was just making casual conversation and not giving me much needed advice. But it turns out, it was one of the most useful conversations I’ve ever been a part of.

Anyway, I love Suk. She’s around my age, from India, has two of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen, is recently divorced and is the best eyebrow shaper I have ever had.

Her tiny little shop doesn’t have air conditioning or a comfortable waiting area. Often when I enter the shop, there are several people standing around awkwardly because the four black anomalous chairs are taken. She has posters of some of India’s most famous beauties – Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee - on her wall, offers beauty products I had never known existed – did you know that turmeric is really good for your skin? and you can get things like a henna tattoo or an ayurvedic facial.

Her clientele are a wonderful exotic mixture of East Indian, Middle Eastern and Canadian women ranging from the ages of 12 (hey us dark skinned women didn’t luck out in the facial hair department and the onset of puberty only made this more obvious – you should see my prom picture if you want to get clear on what a unibrow looks like) to 70. Just today an ancient tiny Indian woman shuffled in with her granddaughter leading her by the elbow to have her chin threaded.

And threading is Suk’s specialty. This is a really healthy, green and inexpensive alternative to waxing. The speed and accuracy with which she removes the hair has me worshipping Suk as if she was the second coming reincarnate. I told her a while ago that if she ever thought about moving out of this city, I would easily pack up my family and home and follow where she was going. And I know that I’m not the only one that feels this way. Last month she went to visit some of her family in India and you have never seen so many uncomfortable looking brown women walking around town being mistaken for Magnum P.I. We simply will not go to anyone else now that we’ve found her.

One of the difficulties Suk faces as the result of being in such high demand is that all of her clientele will only accept her services. She has hired a second person in the past but people will absolutely not trust their eyebrows, upper lips or chins to anyone else.

We have a wedding to go to tomorrow – actually all three of us are a part of the wedding party. (I’ll post some pictures of Deaglan as the ring bearer next week.) And so I called several weeks ago and couldn’t get an appointment till this morning. There were 15 people ahead of me all waiting patiently to have Suk work her magic.

It’s funny how such a small thing like your eyebrows being a bit unruly can make you feel so unattractive and incomplete. I usually walk out of that salon with my head held high and my back just a little straighter.

Oh and the best part? It costs me just $12.60 to have my eyebrows and upper lip done!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Deaglan v Parents 2009

Tonite after Deaglan ate pizza again for the ninth night in a row (I've tried to change it up but he chants PEEEE-ZUP! PEEEE-ZUP! while banging on the oven to remind me every night that I can pretty much forget putting anything else in front of him), I caught Shaune smiling to himself watching the kid streak through the living room in just a diaper chasing after the poor cat.

"Deaglan can I please have a kiss?" he asks.

"NNNNOOOO!" is the reply as the streaker runs the other way.

It suddenly dawned on me, the necessity of having more than one child. This voracious need to constantly shower your child with expressions of love and affection - could this be better appreciated by said child if it were delivered in timely increments? And as the parent, the only way I could even imagine practicing such restraint would be if there was another equally beautiful, breathtaking little wonder who could as easily melt my heart.

Please don't get excited - no big announcements here. But I have considered that if we don't want Deaglan to file for emancipation due to over-smothering as soon as he learns to read and write (and just think, Shaune and I are the everyday smotherers, there also grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends that show absolutely no restraint when visiting) we had better consider a second child sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Monday, 13 July 2009

No day at the beach

Because our city is one of the rare few in Southwestern Ontario which isn't adjacent to one of the Great Lakes, families with young children can either drive an hour outside of town to find a beach or do what we did this weekend - go to one of the numerous splashpads sprinkled throughout London.

It takes all the same prep as a day at the beach - sunscreen, cooler full of drinks and snacks, towels, beach hats and chairs minus the sand and the large natural body of water.

Deaglan started to love it yesterday. The first few times we've gone he didn't really know what to think as he stood on the sidelines watching the bigger kids squeal and splash through the jumping shoots of water. But yesterday we encouraged him a little (read Shaune and I carried him into the midst of the streams and let him see that it was fun not scary) and after about twenty minutes of scurrying in and out of the smaller misty sprays on his own, he got braver and braver and eventually when it was time to leave we had to carry a screaming crying toddler to the car because there was no way he was leaving on his own volition.

Today my friend Erin spent the day with Deaglan and me and we went back to the same splashpad we were at yesterday. It was packed with parents and small kids. It must seem odd to someone without children yet (Erin and Wes have two cats and a puppy on the way) to be in this scene. To the left of us a little girl a few months older than Deaglan threw a full on crying fit because her mother would not allow her to take her diaper off and run through the water naked. This was no soft whimpering either - we're talking crying with tears at a steady high-pitched screetch. While this was nothing alarming to me, I could see the concern on Erin's face. I remember before I had kids how when I would see parents just "allowing" their kids to cry and throw tantrums, I would wonder what was wrong with them and why they didn't just make their kids stop. I know better now and I just looked at the mother of the screaming girl with sympathy and understanding.

The picture posted here is at the splashpad yesterday. Shaune's discovered the world of Photoshop.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Some things get better with age

By some standards I'm considered an older mom. I didn't have Deaglan till I was in my 'late' thirties meaning over 35. A lot of the people I went to highschool with and who I only recently caught up with again through Facebook had kids when they were in their 20's - some of them in their early 20's. More than a few of them have teenagers.

Sometimes I wish I had started earlier so that I didn't feel this sense of urgency to finish all the childbearing before it is too late. Sort of like dumping the entire allowable chunk of money into your RSP's the day before income taxes are due instead of contributing at a steady rate throughout the year.

But some people are ready earlier and others need to get some things sorted out. I can't say that I was busy travelling the world or building a lucrative career, or whatever else is an acceptable excuse as to why people wait to marry and settle down. I just needed that extra time.

My friend Sarah said the other day that people like us (her and I and others who waited until later) just skipped our first marriages. We went straight to the second one. We spent the first marriage alone, partying and drinking too much, waitressing and bartending longer than we should have, procrastinating about everything, paying off education debts we incurred that never paid off and pipe dreaming about careers that were a fantasy drilled into us by our predecessors.

So here I am, at 38 not even married for a full year, with my first baby feeling a bit undone that I didn't start sooner. Mentally I do the math all the time, making myself a little nutty and try not to get depressed.
When he's 25, I'll be 63 and if he's like me he still won't be married and what if I'm not around to see him get married and what if he doesn't have kids till after I'm gone but people live longer nowadays but then look at all the new cancers that pop up all the time - did you know that deodorant and underwire bras can cause breast cancer???!!


Would I have been as an effective mother at 25 as I am now? I know - no. Could I have made him the centre of my universe like he is now? Maybe. I don't know. We all get to where we want to go at our own pace. It's tough though sometimes living in this world where we constantly measure ourselves and each other by standards that we've established that don't mean anything.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

My wisdom so far

I used to think that to “forgive and forget” was the only way to truly move past something terrible that happened to me.

I now realize that often those two concepts don’t make sense in a lot of situations. To forgive means to give up all claim on account of. But there are things that happen to us, hurtful things people say, painful wounds people inflict that we cannot give up all claim of. To forgive and forget for some of these assaults seems like fantasy-making to me. The trying of it has left me conflicted and anxious.

Reconciliation however is a concept I can live with. I won’t forget what happened but will reconcile to use the experience to consciously build a better relationship. I will learn to understand that because of what happened I have the opportunity to make healthier and wiser decisions in the future.

I used to think I needed to provide proof or evidence of why I felt something. In my mind I would think that feeling something others might perceive as weak or womanly or negative was unacceptable so I would build a case in my defense so that I could justify this “insubstantial” stream of feelings or thoughts. As if just little ole me feeling it or thinking it wasn’t reason enough that it should be heard.

But now I know that the fact that I feel it, desire it, fear it, love it or just plain old dreamt it up is legitimacy enough.

I used to think that a nice person doesn’t speak up when her needs aren’t being met, a nice person doesn’t disagree with family members, a good person goes along to get along. But now I realize that all of that is a bunch of BS and really a form of self torture.

I know now that I am responsible for my own happiness and that means speaking up the truth when something doesn’t feel right or good to me. It means doing what’s best for my soul and my true self even if it causes discomfort. It means speaking the truth, my truth when I feel compelled.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Today both Shaune and I had our thinking caps on overdrive because lately Deaglan's eating habits have increased our blood pressures. Everyone says it's okay and it's normal and he'll eat when he's hungry but I can't help but wonder if something was off in the unification of my egg and Shaune's sperm and maybe by accident their was some sort of mix up and we actually created a lion cub and some lioness in Africa actually has our kid.

Because I will tell you, this kid is definitely a carnivore and a cheese-a-tarion. But vegetation of any sort he will not even entertain.

But tonight we finally pulled the wool over this feral child's eyes. We made a pizza using high fibre low fat pita as the crust, tomato sauce, vegetarian pepperoni and cheese. And he ate it!!

And maybe you'll think this is pathetic but I was so overjoyed I could have cried or at least danced a jig - sober.

So while I'm on this natural high that only parenthood can bring, please indulge me while I brag a little about some of the other milestones we've reached recently.

We are officially weaned! After I wrote this post (and I have to tell you all my blog friends, your support and personal stories helped me so much) I kept going with it because I knew that it was what was best for Deaglan and me. But then a while ago I read this post from my friend Jenn over at T - Rex Mom and Dad Tales, who's gorgeous little guy is just a month or so older than Deaglan, I knew that it was probably time I thought about it too. Jenn also inspired me with her what really should be a published-how-to-article on potty training to start toilet training my little monkey. We're entering the third week when I will start the really difficult part (as I imagine it) where I have to teach him to let me know when he has to steps I guess.

Deaglan is also now sleeping through the night (on most nights) in the crib with only three sides. We are still on the lookout for a toddler bed set but aren't really in a hurry to go there. It's not like there is someone lined up to take over the crib - yet:)

And finally and I believe most importantly he has begun to say "Mummy". And it is pretty darn glorious. It's like music to my ears. Like all that pregnancy stuff was worth it. Like the fact that I can't even dream of ever wearing a bikini or forgetting to wear a bra without some major surgery, okay.

Like totally amazing how this tiny carnivore could change my life and melt my heart with his every subtle change and expansion.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Shut up already!!

Me and my little family minus the cat were at Chapter's a few weeks ago. For you, my international friends, Chapter's is Canada's big bookstore. Shaune was checking out cookbooks and Deaglan and I were over in the children's section playing with Thomas and his other train friends. Just before we were ready to leave I saw my friend and colleague who had moved jobs while I was on maternity leave. Although we periodically checked in with each other over Facebook, I hadn't seen her since before I had Deaglan. This is how the conversation went:
Me: Oh my God you're pregnant!!! (As I rub her tummy) Congratulations - it's about time!
Her (not smiling at all): No I'm actually not.
Me (feeling light-headed and nauseaus): Oh my God, I'm so sorry. It's just that you're usually so thin. (Okay honestly please God help me to stop talking)
Her: (Most likely wondering why she hasn't punched me in the face or just walked away) Yeah, I gained some weight.
Me: (almost crying now while still trying to keep an eye on Deaglan who is trying to pull books off the shelves - where the hell is Shaune when I need him?) Please, please I don't know what I'm saying, I can't believe I just said that. (hugging her)
Her: (weakly) No honest it's okay. I get that all the time.
Me: (trying to change the subject) So how are you?
This conversation went on for at least another agonizing fifteen minutes where everything I said just made me sound even more crazy and insensitive. I have never wished more for a fire alarm or a hostage situation or an alien invasion.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


There is a scar in my right armpit that I am pretty self conscious about. While we were still in Bangladesh I was walking with my sister and a friend and fell into an open sewer.

If you've seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire think back to the scene where the main character as a boy is in the outhouse and learns of the famous actor visiting their town. He comes out and is covered in human feces that has had time to soften into a mud-like consistency and then emulsify. Then take it one step further and imagine being stuck in it, trying to stay afloat because I had fallen through a two foot wide opening in the ground and landed six feet below in a virtual river of shit.

Not a memory I treasure but something I've thought about often in recent years. You see it took me a long time to really think about the differences between that life and this one. The disparity between living in a third world country and living in one of the wealthiest most peaceful countries in the world.

Until relatively recently I took my story for granted. I mean I always knew it was pretty amazing but it wasn't until I really consciously weighed the variations did it hit me how different my life could be if I still lived in Bangladesh.

I read a book this past year called Shame by Taslima Nasrin a Bangladeshi author only nine years older than me who has been forced to live in exile because of the views she expressed against her own religion in her writing. Because of these views she faced serious death threats from Islamic fundamentalists and was forced to leave her homeland. Sadly her father died and she couldn't even return to the country to attend his funeral. Can you even imagine???

I don't mention my adoptive parents very often. There was some difficulty over the years which for me has been amended. But I have realized the miracle they enabled when they chose to adopt my sister and me.

They already had two boys of their own, were pregnant with a third and had adopted a little girl from Bangladesh in 1977 when they saw a picture of Tara and me during an adoption support meeting. They told us that immediately they felt we were meant to be their girls. By June of 1978 we had become their girls. Free to grow up and have opinions. Free to dream about a future that was wide open. Free to speak our minds. Free to marry who we wanted. Free to raise our children to be free. Free.

I don't want to wax patriotic. I don't often embrace Canadianna. But today on Canada Day at home with my son and husband where we are peacefully free to do whatever we want, say and believe whatever we want and be whoever we want, I have to admit that it is good to be Canadian!