Jun 20, 2010

A Conversation With My Dad

My first Father's Day without my Dad is almost over.
Even though I have been dreading it, it was even harder than I expected it would be.

I could not let it end without writing this.

I miss my Dad. If he were still here, or if he is in some way listening from somewhere, here is what I would say to him:

Dad, I miss you.
Cooper is getting so big. Everyone says he looks just like me. Do you think so?
What is your favourite flavour of ice cream? I can't remember and it makes me so sad.
I have a hard time talking about you to anyone. Even/especially mom.
I want to know that you are okay. I wish there was some way that you could tell me that you are.
We are going home in a week and I am happy and scared at the same time. All of my summer Nova Scotia memories include you.
Mom feels your presence at the house. I hope I will too.
Jacob remembers you and knows you from the pictures we have of you and him together. I don't want him to forget.
He is growing up so fast. You guys would have had so much fun together this summer. So much fun.
Are you proud of me?
When I go for walks or am by the water, I always think of you.
I miss the sound of your laugh, your corny jokes and your made-up words.
Cooper is just about walking and can say yes, more and loves to give Jacob hugs and kisses.
I pretend all the time that you are not really gone.
When we think about starting a new project around the house, the first person I think of calling is you.
Randy wants to repair a hole in the drywall while I am away. Should I hide his tools?
I wish had taken more pictures of you and with you.
I don't believe in heaven or God really, but I hope so much that you somehow are watching over Mom.
Can you see my boys and how perfect they are? How sweet and funny and perfect?
I'll never forget our walks, the way you treated me like a little girl even in my 30s and the way you 'sang' your sentences.
You were a GREAT dad and wonderful grandfather.
I miss you Dad. I miss you every single day and I hate that you are gone.

happy father's day

Apr 21, 2010

Majesta Mom

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the Majesta Moms group at Mom Central. I had never been asked to do a product review before so I was not sure what to expect. It turned out to be a great experience. It opened up my eyes to new, easy ways I can help the environment.

We learned about and tested Majesta's new Treesposible products. Majesta plants 3 trees for every 1 tree they use to produce their paper products. They are great for the environment, they work well and they are a Canadian company.

One week we were asked how we are being environmentally responsible at home. My immediate reaction was: Oh crap...I am going to sound like the biggest envirnomental slacker ever. Then I sat down and made a list of everything we do in our home to help the envirnoment and I felt a little bit better.

-recycle and compost
-changed all light bulbs
-energy efficient appliances and new furnace
-never have lights on unless we are in the room
-wash most laundry on cold setting
-hang all clothes to dry
-recently switched to enviro friendly cleaning products
-looking into using low VOC paint for any more renos
-bring our own re-usable bags when shopping and use bins for groceries instead of plastic bags
-plan meals when making a grocery list so we don't waste food (still working on this one!)
-we don't drink water from plastic bottles

We were also asked what is preventing us from doing more. For me it is about:

-convience (cloth diapers would be a good idea, I know, but with the amount of poop in this house, I am a Pampers mom)
-cost (I would love to buy all organic fruit and veg and meat but I can't justify the prices)

Majesta has a great contest for Canadians to win $15 000 towards a Green Makeover. You can enter here. If I won I would love to replace our kitchen appliances and our toilets.

I'd love to hear your tips for helping the environment.

Apr 9, 2010


This post is for my girlfriends from Nova Scotia.

My friends through thick and thin {and I am not just talking about my waistline}.
My friends even though I make it home only once a year.
My friends that make me laugh until I cry.
My friends that know all of my old secrets.
My friends that still know how to party like it's 1999.

My friends that were there for me during the worst part of my life.

I am sorry.

Sorry for distancing myself from you all when you were so good to me. The only way I can explan it is this:
I have not been able to deal with losing my Dad. I can't talk about it yet. So talking to my friends that knew him and that know me so well has been scary for me. It makes it seem more real and I worried that your kindness and sympathy would break my control over my emotions.

It is slowly getting a little easier and I miss you girls so much (even if it is just a quick chat on facebook) so I hope you understand and forgive me.

I am now open for business (let's just avoid one topic for now if you don't mind).

Your Least Conservative Friend xoxo

Mar 8, 2010

My Dad's Birthday

Today is a tough one for me. It is supposed to be my dad's birthday. He would be 65.

I have been trying to think of the best way to mark this day. Dad's favourite drink was Coke. He drank it all day every day. I have not been able to touch it. I thought I could drink a toast to him today but I am not ready. Strange, I know, but I can't go near it without feeling sick.

It has been really hard to think of anything to do in his honour because I actually don't believe he is gone. I wonder if that feeling ever goes away? I am also finding it impossible to talk about him with anyone, even my family, because it makes it real and I can't control my emotions yet.

We did come up with a way to think of him today that I can handle though.

My Dad loved the zoo. He went to the Toronto Zoo with my son and husband on his last visit here so my mom, brother and sister and I decided we would remember him today by adopting a gorilla in his name. I think he would like that.

happy birthday Dad xoxo

Mar 4, 2010

Home Show Hot List

I won some free tickets to the National Home Show, thanks to the Yummy Mummy Club. I love interior design but I had never been to a Home Show before so I went, ready to be inspired. Here are my fave finds:

Are these light fixtures hot or what? I LOVE them.
They are like jewelry for your home.

I would tile every surface in my bathrooms if I could {except the toilet...brrrrr!}. These were my favourites:  

This bathtub is so fabulous I can't even stand it!
When I grow up I am going to get one just like it.

There is nothing better than sitting by a cozy fire on a beautiful summer night.
I know just the right spot to put one of these lovelies in my back yard:

I found some environmentally friendly paint in such fresh colours.
Good for the environment and beautiful? Sold!

This one's for you future Canadian Olympic hockey players.
It's a floor that you can put in your basement, or back yard, or garage that you can ice skate on.
Yup. You heard me. Ice skating in your basement.
We saw it in action and it is so cool! Ugly but cool.

No home show would be complete without celebrities. I got the chance to watch Cocktail Deeva work her magic. She was hilarious and took the mystery out of mixing fun, delicious drinks. She is just as fabulous in person as you would think. By the way: her shoes were to die for.

Feb 24, 2010

Polka Dot Groove

I have always been a pretty chilled out {lazy} person. I had no problem putting my feet up and spending hours watching tv or reading a book. That has all changed since October and I find myself with lots and lots of {nervous} energy. Now that both boys are in bed early, hubby is working late, and I am up until at least midnight every night, I need ways to fill the time.

I am so grateful that art has filled that space. I decided to start Polka Dot Grove with my friend Lisa...let's see...over a year ago. Life and kids {and trying to pick a logo}* delayed the process a bit. In that time Lisa landed an amazing opportunity to write the Party Mummy blog for the Yummy Mummy Club. So, for now, I am flying solo. I feel like creating art has helped me get back into the groove of life a bit, although I think I still have a long way to go.

Thanks to my great friends, online and off, I have had quite a few orders already. I can't believe it!

I just know that Oprah will be knocking on my door and adding me to her Favourite Things show any minute now. I guess I better buy some cuter pj's so I am ready to Skype with her.

*have I said how much I love these brackets { }?

Feb 9, 2010

Thank You Thursday

I don't know about you, but Follow Friday stresses me out.

There are so many of you that I love tweeting with and I hate the thought of leaving anyone out when I make my recommendations. When I think about who I am going to choose, I am really just saying thank you to people in some way.

So this week I am going to do something new: Thank You Thursday. Instead of suggesting people to follow, I am going to thank a few tweeps that have helped me smile, laugh, think or learn something new this week.

I hope you do it too.

Feb 8, 2010

Oh Canada?

I moved away from Nova Scotia over 10 years ago, but I have never felt farther away from home then I did my first year teaching.

Fresh out of university, my boyfriend at the time and I decided we wanted an adventure and accepted teaching positions at a fly-in First Nations Community in Northern Canada. And by fly-in I mean you can only get there by plane. A series of planes, actually, until you are on a 10 seater chatting with the pilots through the curtain.

About 250 people lived in this community above the tree line, along the Hudson Bay. No malls, no movie theatres, no restaurants, no anything. The nearest community was 350 kms away; the only way to travel to there by ice road in the winter. Fresh produce was flown in every Wednesday, weather permitting, and I had to go right away if I hoped to get anything for the week.

One thing there was a lot of were wild dogs and 2 'tame' wolves. They would follow me to the store and bite at my bags if I bought meat. One dog, that we called Jumper, took on the role as my protector and would walk with me and scare the other dogs away. The dogs would be, not by any fault of their own, one of the reasons I would come to dread opening my door each day.

The children.
The children did and still do break my heart. I taught grade 2 and 3 to a group of children that could not read or write. Many faced horrific home lives. A few did not. Some days I would have to teach with my back against the door because a couple of my students would try to leave and I was afraid of something happening to them if they wandered away outside on their own.

One day I walked into my classroom to find a new student. He sat in the middle of the room with his hood pulled over his face. I asked him to take it off but he would not so I didn't push it. I found out soon that he had been sniffing gasoline when he was younger and someone had thrown a match at him so he had suffered burns. He had been brought to this community for help. Then one day he wasn't there. He had been sent away for teaching our kids how to sniff gasoline. He was only seven years old. I still can't deal with this.

I grew to love these kids that came through my door and sometimes to my house. They were the reason I held on and stayed as long as I did.

I wish I could paint a pretty picture of a community that embraced their culture and were happy but I can't. Every woman I met was abused at some time in her life. This included my friends that I taught with. It got to a point where I could not face talking to any of the men. Although it was technically a dry community, there was alcohol and drug abuse. One of my friends explained it to me in a way that helped me to understand why so many suffered. She explained that her parents' generation were taken from their parents, their culture, their life and forced to conform in residential schools. They did not fit in this new world and they no longer fit in at home when they went back in the summer. The worst part was they never had parenting. They had no role model for what parenting looked like so when they had children, they were lost.

Life was not easy for us there either. I guess my first clue should have been the bullet holes in our house or the bars across our windows. The teenage kids made our lives hell. They would drive around our house at night and throw rocks and sticks at our windows, yelling at us. Sometimes we would hide in the bathroom, the only room without windows. Some girls wrote the word 'bitch' on the outside of our house with an arrow pointing to our front door. One morning I opened the door to leave for school to see a pile of dead dogs blocking our screen door. This became a regular occurence.

One night all of us 5 teachers got together for a dinner. We heard a loud thump. Someone had thrown a live puppy at the house. I took the puppy home and stopped going to work until they hired someone to patrol our houses at night.

He wasn't very reliable and we still got almost nightly visits. School was not much better. I had to cover my classroom windows, to the hallway and outside, to keep a few of the boys from staring in. They wrote threats about what they would do to me on the playground equipment and on the walls of the school. One night, I heard them outside our kitchen window making threats. That's when I started to get really scared. We talked about leaving many times. All the time. I just couldn't leave my kids. I couldn't walk away from their hugs and sweet faces.

A few nights later, we heard yelling outside our house. One of the boys my boyfriend taught was yelling and screaming at us. He was clearly drunk or high. I called the police and told them I was worried he was going to hurt himself or someone else. Unfortunately there were only 2 police men. One was great. One was not. Mr. Not was on duty. An hour later that boy was smashing an axe through our front door. That night we packed our bags with the police stayed with us and we left on the plane the next day. I cried the whole way home wishing I could take so many of the children with us.

My boyfriend and I broke up when we got home to his parents' place. I flew home to Nova Scotia and was a mess. My doctor told me that he thought I had post traumatic stress disorder and wanted to prescribe some medication. I decided to wait and see how I did on my own. My family and friends, along with a life changing holiday to Stockholm, helped me move on. It seems like another lifetime now.

Strangely enough, it is the Olympics that started me thinking about my time there. At a time where we will all feel such pride to be Canadian I can`t help but feel a little shame for what has happened in the far corners of our home and native land.

I also want to say that I hope this post does not offend anyone. This is simply my experience of one community at one time.

Feb 2, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day R

So, I can be a real bitch to live with sometimes. Especially when I am pregnant or tired, which has basically been the past three and a half years. My husband has to deal with my tears, my crankiness, my complaining about how loudly he eats, breathes, moves. Well, you get the idea. What a lucky, lucky man, huh?

I figure I owe him one and since I smashed my tailbone, and am currently on the 'injured list' it's not going to be in the bedroom. So he gets this instead. A letter from me. Just for the record, I am not writing it to get this or this for Valentine's Day. I am doing it because I love him. Honestly. I am. Well, maybe, if he wanted to, and was looking for ideas, he could get me this. But only if he wanted to. Not because of this sweet letter I am about to write.

Dear R,

You just came into our room, where I am hiding from the world and put socks on my feet because I said I was cold. Thank you. I just want you, and everyone else, to know that I love you. I have often told you that you make all of my dreams come true and you have, from moving to Europe to the biggest, happiest dreams of all, our sweet sweet little boys. This is a thank you just for you. To remind you when I am cranky, ungrateful, moody or sad that I always love you and I always will.

Thank you for asking me to move in with you after only knowing me for 4 months, so that I would not have to move home to Nova Scotia.
Thank you for letting me drag on shopping trips all over the world to find 'just the right' top/dress/shoes/magnet/painting/souvenir...whatever.
Thank you for being the best and most fun dad any child could ask for.
Thank you for listening to my parents tell you that I came with a 'no returns policy' and dating me anyway.
Thank you for being the type of person that I can leave with my friend's husband that you had never met, and be cool about it.
Thank you for loving and accepting me for who I am.
Thank you for thinking and saying I am beautiful, even (especially) on days when I look awful.
Thank you for being the best travel partner I could have asked for.
Thank you for not caring about decorating our home but still listening to all of my many ideas and letting me do whatever I want.
Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you for taking out the garbage, moving the lawn and all of the other 'guy' stuff you do every week. (In our house cleaning toilets counts as guy stuff).
Thank you for supporting my need to stay home with our boys. I know it is such a challenge for you.
Thank you for letting me drag you to Nova Scotia every summer to spend time with my (now our) family and friends.
Thank you for making me laugh.
Thank you for being so completely involved in our sons' lives and being such a hands-on dad.
Thank you for working so hard to support our family. I know you would stay home with our boys if you could.
Thank you for planning our honeymoon and keeping it a surprise until we were getting ready to check in our bags.

There aren't words to thank you for being there for me during the past few months, which have been the hardest of my life. You have been there for me in ways I didn't know I would need.

I love you, my husband and my best friend.
Happy Valentines Day

Jan 14, 2010

Why I Don't Care That We Can't Afford A Stainless Steel Fridge

My kitchen is ugly, truly hideous and slightly embarrassing.

It's retro in the, "Oh my God, I can't believe that was ever stylish" kind of way. The counters are fake wood. Barf. I tried to make it better by painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware, but with three fellas in the house they have seen better days. At least I have some great finger print samples in case my husband ever goes missing.

One thing I am okay with is our white fridge. I know stainless steel fridges are the 'best' but I don't want one. Why, you ask? It's because of my fridge magnet collection.

Not kidding. It's okay, I don't mind if you laugh at me. I laugh at myself all of the time.

I really, honestly do have a collection of magnets that I started 10 years ago when I moved to Europe for the first time. They were a great little souvenir from all of my trips and now that my life has changed dramatically and I get excited just to leave the damn house, they serve as a great reminder of my former life. I'd like to say they were the only purchase I made on each holiday but I have a few people (like everyone that came to visit us) that will tell you that I sent them home with bags and bags of 'stuff' and very clear instructions for how to store their (my) carry ons without breaking anything.

Each time I open the fridge door, I get a peek at one that sends me back. Like this little gem from our trip to visit friends for Oktoberfest in Munich. I can't actually remember all that much, but luckily we have video, right honey?  Looooots and lots of video. Of you. Not being able to lift your head.

I have more magnets. They used to be on the fridge too but someone broke them by accident and they now live here. Just until they get fixed.

We are getting our kitchen renovated in 8 months and I can't wait. I am thinking I may just want to upgrade my fridge so my magnets will have to find a new home. Out of reach of everyone in my house. Especially my husband.

Jan 1, 2010

We Do Not Remember Days, We Remember Moments

The past decade has been a crazy one for me. Each year holds some special memories that stand out from the rest.

I went to visit a friend in Stockholm, Sweden for a 10 day holiday and decided on a whim to move there. This was one of the best decisions of my life. A beautiful place that holds so many happy and hilarious memories! This is the school where I taught:

This was not my favourite year. I came back to Canada because of a guy (dumb dumb dumb) and moved to Peterborough (dumber dumber dumber) and learned that I was not cut out for small town life anymore. I taught at a Catholic School even though I am so not religious. Sorry, no pics for this one!

This is the year I met Randy at an outdoor Great Big Sea concert in February. He asked me to move to Europe with him that night. I said yes. Holy crap, we look so young here. I think he may still have this shirt.


 Randy and I made the move to London, England. We had no place to live. I had been hired for my teaching position over the phone and Randy had no job. We had no television for months. We travelled all over Europe to places I had always dreamt of. We got to know our local and went out for curry once a week. The shopping, oh, the shopping. Pimms. We made friends that we will have for life. Loved every minute! Drunk in every photo, I think.

More travelling: Octoberfest in Munich, Prague before Christmas, Venice and more. Randy took me to stay in a castle in Scotland on my birthday. He asked me to marry him in the courtyard of the Louvre. I said yes. We got drunk on champagne and called all of our friends and family.

Back to reality. We decided it was time to grow up and move home to Ontario. We bought a house, started new jobs and planned a wedding. I got to spend time with my BFFs and meet some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for.

Randy and I got married in in Nova Scotia and celebrated with our friends and family at White Point Beach Resort. The most fun wedding ever (if I do say so myself). I also ran my first race, the 8k Night Crawler, in Toronto.


The birth of my sweet baby boy, Jacob, was the greatest moment of my life. I had no idea you could love someone so so much.

This was the year I got to watch my son do everything. I could not be more proud watching him learn and grow. We spent his first birthday in Nova Scotia. Jacob took one handful of his cake and decided it would just be easier to stick his face right in and take a bite. Right some cute (as they say back home).

The birth of my second sweet boy, Cooper ties for greatest moment of my life. It's amazing how, when you think you already love as much as you can, your heart opens up and makes room for more.

What are your favourite moments of the past decade?