Thursday, September 29, 2016

Plot Twist

Well, that was unexpected.

Oh, buddy. We had such a good day. You only had one accident in the house. You peed and pooped on command. You didn't complain about the removal of your all-you-can-eat buffet. Probably for that reason, you responded really well to the training we did with kibble rewards. I watched you like a hawk and almost never let you out of my sight. We killed Training Day 1.

Except for that one oversight.

E had just come home from school. You had just come out of your crate and had peed in your spot like a champ, so I let you off the leash to play in the backyard to celebrate. We threw the ball a little, we ran around a little, and then E and I sat down to eat popsicles while you played in the bushes. We watched you the whole time. You were only in there for about 3 minutes. But it turns out you weren't playing. 

Fast forward to an hour later. I put your dinner down for you, and you gave it a pass. Highly suspicious, given the fact that you hadn't eaten (apart from reward kibble) for 8 hours. I shook your food around, but you just ignored it. Your muzzle was all wet, but I didn't see you drinking water. Your paws were soaked, but you hadn't stepped in water. I stood there, warning bells starting to tinkle but still utterly confused...and then you vomited. Three times in rapid succession. Mostly mushrooms. 

Over the next half hour you drooled profusely, dry heaved and had explosive diarrhea. By the time I called the vet they had just closed, so we wrapped you in a blanket and drove to the emergency vet. You were in rough shape. You were lethargic and shaking and drooling like a faucet. I felt terrible. 
After a little research it looked like the mushrooms you ate were probably not the liver toxic ones, just mildly hallucinogenic muscarinic ones which cause a lot of drooling and vomiting/diarrhea, and maybe severe breathing problems and convulsions. Did I mention I felt terrible? 

They kept you overnight. They gave you IV fluids, anti-nausea meds, activated charcoal and tested you for all kinds of stuff. By 10:30pm they said you were drooling less and coming around a bit. At 6:20 this morning you were "back to being a puppy". 

I don't know who was more excited when were finally reunited. Sure, I didn't lick your face as much as you did mine, but my happy dance was every bit as enthusiastic. 

I can only hope that you're a quick study and that you'll leave mushrooms alone from now on. But just in case, we're going on lockdown. For the foreseeable future it's you and me kiddo, literally joined at the hip. It's not that I don't trust you, it's just that I really don't trust you. But I sure am glad you're okay.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

To: Gryffindor

You are 9 ½ weeks. Training starts today.

So far you have been a delightful little boy, with the exception of your deplorable bathroom etiquette. You are devastatingly handsome, as everyone has told you, which I suspect will get you out of more than one of life’s scrapes. You are calm and gentle, as puppies go, and you’re very, very good at hugs, kisses and cuddles. Yes, I think we picked just the perfect puppy when we found you, and I think we’ll be together for a very long time.


Buddy. You have got to figure out this potty training situation. Not to mention the leash walking fiasco. And the shoe-chewing conundrum. And the catch-me-if-you-can nonsense. But mostly, right now, I need to stop having to clean up your pee and poop from my floors eleventyseven times a day. I need that real bad.

So I will follow the trainer’s advice to the letter; only putting your food bowl down at breakfast and at dinner, taking you out to the same spot and refusing to let you have any fun until you’ve done your business, praising you up the wazoo and giving treats when you do answer the call of nature, and not letting you wander unchecked through the house, looking for virgin spaces devoid of pee smell. Life is going to get a little more prison-esque for you starting today, Griffy old pal.

But I promise, if you put your mind to it and do your very best, this phase of our lives together will not last long. Soon enough you’ll have full run of the place, you’ll be spared the indignity of being carried to “your spot” and kept under intense scrutiny while you powder your nose. Best of all, one day you and I will share a chuckle about those early days when you were so cute but so dumb, as we snuggle on the couch or hang out at the park chasing ducks. It’s going to be great. Really great.

So please, dearest boy, for love of everything holy, please get your shit together. And keep it outside.

Love: Mom

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lots of updates to get to...but first things first:

I am officially unemployed. And it feels GREAT.

In 8 days E will be finished school and in 12 days we're loading up and leaving Ottawa, but in the meantime I've quit my job and I'm taking the summer off. That feels almost as good to type as it does to do. 

So how was Day 1 of Summer Vacation? FANtastic.

It's funny how easy it is to get to school on time when you no longer care if you get to school on time. 3 minutes early with no squabbling or mad rushes out the door. Sha-Zam! 

It's also interesting how long brunch can take when your child is at school and you have no reason to get up from a comfy chesterfield. (2 hours.)

And when you do finally make it home and get down to packing, it's funny how much time there is to try different packing strategies, consider organization techniques, and even to stop and chill out once and a while. Ka-Pow!

It's 5:30. Dinner preparation should be in full swing, but I'm on the couch snuggling with E (who's watching Octonauts) and J (who's doing who knows what on his computer over there). Dinner will get on the table...E will get in the bath...I'll probably do a little more packing at some point...but I have officially ceased to be concerned about keeping to a strict schedule and constantly watching the clock, worrying about one thing or another. 

Because, did I mention? I'M ON VACATION!!!

Monday, April 4, 2016


I guess on some level I expected an awkward conversation to come out of today's events. I mean, let's look at the facts. I took an inquisitive six-year-old to a charity softball tournament where a bunch of dudes in drag were tossing their balls around, and other euphemisms.

And while I hummed and hawed over what to wear to such an event, she didn't miss a beat:

Fits right in, doesn't she?

We watched some baseball, ate some cupcakes and hot dogs, drank some beer and had a great  afternoon soaking up the sun and scenery.

Did I mention that the whole event was a fundraiser for Bruce House, an organization that provides housing and resources for people living with HIV and AIDS? A great cause that we were happy to support, but perhaps a little more thought could have gone into the questions that might arise out of such an experience.

For example.

We wandered by a table selling various items including red ribbons, lollipops and snacks. There was one bowl I hadn't noticed that attracted E's attention on account of the bag of chips that was perched on top of it. Unfortunately, under those chips sat a large pile of vibrantly hued condoms.

"What are those mom?"

Damnit. I was about to find out whether the beer buzz I was rocking would help or hinder the situation. I saw the ladies sitting at the table exchange expressions of thinly-veiled glee at landing front row seats to watch me squirm. Candy? If I said it was candy and she couldn't have it would I get away with it? Or would that lead to some even more awkward and/or horrifying experience in later years for both of us?


"Uhmmmmm...those are condoms." End of story?

E: What are condoms?
M: They're for grown-ups.
E: But what are they?
M: ... Ok E, I'm going to be straight with you. I think it's an important question and it deserves an answer, but I've had a couple of beers and it's very hot out and I feel like maybe I should take some time to think about what I want to say before we have this conversation. How about you remind me tomorrow and I promise I will give you an answer.
E: But why can't you just tell me right now?
M: Because it's a pretty grown-up thing and it's a bit complicated to explain, and I want to make sure that I give you the right amount of information, so I need to be able to think about it first.
E: Well, why don't you just try, and if I don't get it THEN you can think about it?
M: ... (this is happening) ... Ok. Here it is. They're sort of like raincoats for penises.
M: Yep. You know how you wear a raincoat when it's raining to protect you from the rain? Well, when people have sex there are some diseases that can be spread from one person to another because there are germs in all body fluids, so people put condoms on to protect themselves from getting those germs.
E: A raincoat. I get it. That's not complicated, mom.
M: Awesome! Who wants a cupcake?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Riding the Rideau!

On the flip side of the coin from that last post, this weekend we were that "take life by the horns" family...except for that getting up early bit. That part we haven't caught on to yet.

Today we fulfilled one of my dad's bucket list items and cycled the Rideau Canal. We've been talking about it for a year or so, and I've been patiently waiting for E to really take off with this bike riding thing. This month we've been riding our bikes to school and work almost every day, so we figured it was time we tackled the canal adventure before the snow flies.

Of course, this being a day I planned on getting up bright and early to make sandwiches and prepare all kinds of delicious picnic accoutrements, E simply insisted on staying in bed and snuggling. I tell you that kid is going to regret these mind games when I'm in the looney bin.

Once I was allowed out of bed I threw together what I could while J tried valiantly (and successfully) to navigate the mysteries of bike rack assembly and my parents (who arrived on time on account of not having a 50 pound problem to slow them down) showered us with gifts from their recent adventures and snuck pieces of freshly made bread as I sliced.

Finally, we were all packed up and racked up and raring to get our bike tour on. Mom and dad were sitting eagerly in their vehicle, E was all buckled up in ours. So I hopped into the front seat, pushed the go button (still can't get used to not having a key) and...crickets. The car died. Again. The first time was on my way to the Beer Run a couple of weeks ago. If that's not a sign that exercise is bad for me and I should spend more time eating ice cream, well then this world makes no sense.

But, just like two weeks ago, it was nothing a set of jumper cables couldn't fix. So off we were a few minutes later to Hog's Back Park, where we would start our journey, and where I mistakenly believed was the end of the canal.  (Interesting note: Today I learned that the Rideau Canal is 202 km I was only off by about 193 km.)

Now, our journey from Hog's Back Park to Chateau Laurier and back was mapped out to be 20.0km. E's longest bike journey up to this point has been 3.8km. I'm not crazy. I may not know the length of the Rideau Canal, but I can see a losing battle from at least 16.2km away. I opted to have E and I do a shorter loop, with my parents continuing on and meeting us at the end for lunch. That was the plan.

Instead, E blew all of our expectations out of the water and biked. the. whole. way. What?! Yes. There were a few stops, but all in all it took us just over 2 hours, which I consider to be pretty flipping astounding. Not to mention those super old fart parents of mine who are so comfortable in their seventies that they're starting to flirt with the next decade.

The weather was glorious. The ride was spectacular. The day was perfect. And we're all looking forward to the next time.

The crew
Old farts looking spry

Young fart not looking so spry

Bouncing back for a little post-ride climb

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Weekend Famjam, Cowger Style

Often, especially when on Facebook, I feel like as a family we're not grabbing life by the horns enough. I feel like we don't make the most of our weekends or a thousand opportunities every day to show E something cool or expose her to new experiences. I feel like we take the easy (lazy) way out by not planning ahead and searching things out. And it makes me feel bad.

But then, on a random Saturday morning, E wakes us up at 8:30am in a purple sparkly dress, we play Harry Potter for about an hour without getting out of bed, one of us struggles down to pour coffee just before the coffeemaker shuts off at 10am, and then we have a getting dressed dance party to Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift before taking Ralph and walking to get bagels as the clock eases past 11am.

And as we walk, all is right with the world. (And maybe the less charitable part of me is snickering at those perky families who have been up since dawn...suckers.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Underwear Tales...

Funny that I have enough underwear-related material to write about. Or maybe I just have a six year old and it comes with the territory. Underwear, whoopie cushions, giggling about poop...we're chock full of maturity over here.

So it occurs to me as I'm folding laundry this morning that I'm already getting my underwear confused with E's, and that just doesn't feel right. It would seem that someone needs to step up their lingerie game. (Cotton boyshorts for the win!) I decided not to mention it to J. I can't imagine a universe where that won't make at least a few of his brain cells commit suicide.

And while I was contemplating spicing up my underwear drawer, it occurred to me that I just dropped $100 at Victoria's Secret while we were in San Francisco. E was with me - I even let her pick out a bra and a few pairs of underwear for me. (I think I'm starting to identify the source of the underwear mix-up...) I also remembered J's reaction to my haul. "I guess thongs are out now?" I was, of course, quick to point out that there were two thongs in there. E even picked one of them out. Aaaand...Pop! Pop! Pop! go the brain cells...

So there we were, E and I, in the change room at VS, where I was attempting to try on a couple of bras as quickly as humanly possible before E  a) decided she was DONE shopping, or b) decided to whip open the precariously draped curtain that was shielding me from the packed store.

"Mom? Can I try one on?"

Now who in their right mind would say no to the opportunity to see their first grader in a push-up bra? Oh. Everyone? Of course. Everyone but me, that is. *cough*

So first I let her try to figure it out herself. Because the picture would be way funnier. Then I made the necessary adjustments and snapped another couple photos, which I will never, never, NEVER share.

Until the wedding day.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Making Memories

Yesterday you asked me if you could go on a run with me.

We were walking to your piano lesson - something I insisted on even though you complained that we walk every time and maybe I don't realize that walking home from school and then to and from piano lessons (combined time of approximately 30 minutes) might be too much for a six year old. The sun was shining, spring was finally starting to spring, and I was prepared to be frustrated with you.

Not a race with a bunch of people, just out for a run. With me. Just the two of us.

A smile crept across my face. I held your hand a little tighter. And I said yes. I would love that.

Maybe today or tomorrow? you asked.

Tomorrow, I replied. Quick! I thought to myself. Quick, before she doesn't want to be with you, close to you, happy to be doing what you're doing, together. Don't miss this chance!

Maybe our first real run together will be something you will always remember. Maybe it will be one of your favourite memories of the two of us together. Or maybe when I pick you up from school today you'll be too tired or you just won't feel like it. But this time, I won't insist that we get out there and enjoy ourselves whether we like it or not, because we have memories to make and a childhood to make special, dammit!

I am coming to realize that the memories make themselves. Every day, in the big and the small, the memories are being made no matter how many articles I read or hours I spend worrying about how to do it right. That moment between us yesterday was a very special one for me. I witnessed a memory being made. I felt it wriggle its way into a corner of my brain and take up residence. It felt warm.

I am also realizing that it doesn't matter to me if your memories include the coolest Hallowe'en costumes or the most original loot bags or the most elaborate vacations. I want you to remember me smiling, laughing, hugging a lot, and listening. I want to you to remember that I made you feel loved, capable, and important. And now that I've learned the secret to making memories - that my job is not to carefully select, package and insert each memory into your brain, but rather to show up and be the person I want you to remember - I find myself witnessing even more memories.

I remember holding you on my lap after dinner last night while we looked at houses on the computer with your dad. You looked through all of the pictures, searching for the perfect place in each house to set up an art table. Your bare legs were dangling over my arm, and I couldn't believe how little and how big they looked. I felt the warm weight of your back on my chest. I was so content.

I remember rubbing my cheek against yours as I carried you upstairs. We tried to decide whose cheek was softer. I thought yours. You thought mine. I think I've never felt a cheek so soft and warm and unbelievably kissable.

I remember how much I love our Uno games before bed, and how I love it when you win. I used to lose on purpose, but I worried that winning all of the time might make you a poor sport. So then I won a couple of times, and worried that you would lose your confidence and not want to play anymore. Now I just play. Because you're not going to remember how many times you won or lost. You're going to remember that you and mom and dad played hundreds of games of Uno before bed and there was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and an alarming amount of trash talk.

The moral of the story is the same as every moral since Elsa and Anna came on the scene: Let it Go. The memories are making themselves. Let them.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

No Snow in NoCal! Day 3...

Day 3 in Baghdad by the Bay (I'm not kidding. Who comes up with these?), and this time the girls were left to their own devices. I would love to tell you that it started off with a good, old-fashioned sleep-in...but unless you consider 6:45am sleeping in, I cannot.

It did, however, start with several rounds of Uno, most of which I won, and absolutely no coffee. The apartment we're renting doesn't have a coffee maker. I cannot emphasize enough how unsatisfactory I consider this to be. In fact, I rank it even more unsatisfactory than the 1-ply toilet paper. I mean, come on. 1-ply is for prisons. Period. But I digress.

After two solid days of sunshine and walking, I thought we'd take it a tad easier today by spending a bit of time lounging around and taking advantage of the myriad of public transit options. Instead, we enjoyed a solid day of sunshine and walking. Hey, if it ain't broke...

First stop: Coffee. Obviously. The Beanstalk Cafe is a lovely little spot that I can forgive for only having one (moderate) size of coffee, but not for being out of their two delicious sounding breakfast options: breakfast cups and cragels. In their defence, we'll try to get there before 10am tomorrow.

Second stop: Park. E has dutifully pounded the pavement for the past two days with more stamina and good humour than I could have imagined. And while there have been plenty of sights and tastes to amuse and delight her, there comes a point when every six year old decides that enough is enough. We've been lucky not to hit that mark yet, and to show our appreciation I unleashed her on the coolest park I could find in the neighbourhood. And I want it known that I dutifully played pretend (me: bad guy and/or prison guard, her: girl inmate/moth/butterfly/snitch/spy/honourary prison guard) the whole way. Where's my medal?

After wearing ourselves out at the park, we stopped for a quick lunch at Whole Foods before heading to mom's playground - aka Trader Joe's - where I put damn near everything they had in my cart. And it was good.

On the way home, loaded down with my booty, we stopped for another coffee and then popped into the salon next door to our apartment to see about a trim for the short one. Karen happened to have an opening right then and there, and proceeded to shampoo/massage/cut/style and blow-dry E until she looked like a newly-minted PR exec, and I died.

I had been looking forward to a little down time following the park/shopping excitement, but I guess E is just like any girl fresh from getting her hair did - she wanted to flaunt it! We sat on the step of our building for a few minutes while she decided what she was in the mood for. She settled on a picnic, so we packed up some Trader Joe's goodies and headed to Union Square. There we played a little, laid in the grass and ate a little, and I people-watched while E ran circles around me, literally and figuratively.

Then we headed to the Westin, which overlooks the square and boasts glass elevators that offer spectacular views from the 31st floor - as well as a stomach-flipping adventure for those of us with a fear of heights.

From there we would have headed straight home were it not for the irresistible underwear sale at Victoria's Secret (go ahead and try to resist 7 pairs for $27...I'll wait...). What started with an eyeroll and a "Mooooom...not underwear shopping!", ended with my daughter in a bra, admiring her "dress-up boobs" in the mirror. And I died for the second time.

It was another awesome day. It's spring, and I'm on vacation in a place where it actually feels like spring. It just doesn't get any better.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

No Snow in NoCal! Day 1

11:00am EST - Leave for the airport

11:30am EST - Actually leave for the airport

12:30pm EST - ...Aaaand, we're through ticketing about 2 minutes before check-in closes for our flight.

1:00pm EST - Board first flight to Chicago, IL. Consider, again, how much I hate flying into and out of Chicago. Manage to read 100 pages of new book while husband and daughter defeat zombies with garden vegetables. Visit airplane bathroom with child twice.

2:45pm EST - Land in Chicago with exactly enough time to grab a smoothie and pee before...

3:15pm EST - Boarding second flight to LA. Consider the likelihood of actually making next flight with a 33 minute layover. Enjoy another 100 pages of book while husband studied and daughter snoozed on my bladder. Visit airplane bathroom with child four times.

9:10pm EST/6:10pm PT - Land in LA 4 minutes before boarding begins for next flight.

9:20pm EST/6:20pm PT - Run from gate 50 to gate 53 as third flight is boarding. Be grateful for 3-gate commute. Visit airplane bathroom with child for the 7th, 8th and - thank god - final time. Finish second bottle of hand sanitizer.

11:10pm EST/8:10pm PT - Land in San Francisco, CA!

11:20pm EST/8:20pm PT - Walk length of airport several times with 6 pieces of luggage to secure 5 minute shuttle to hotel

11:45pm EST/8:45pm PT - Arrive, exhausted, at hotel. Convince offspring that constant snacking on last flight counts as dinner, wait 3 minutes for her to slip into unconsciousness and order some of the best Italian food this side of Italy. Let the gluttony begin!