Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Last Trip. Really.

I finished my Christmas shopping over a month ago. Really.

So why do I find myself standing in line for half an hour at Best Buy, having wrestled the last Mario Kart Wii from a woman who easily has 20 pounds on me?

Why am I flipping through the National Enquirer for the fourth time this week while in the interminable line at the grocery store? (Hello the store only closes for one day yet we all feel this strange compulsion to shop for enough for weeks to make up for it).

Why do I feel such rage towards a well meaning Mom who informs me that when their child comes over to play tomorrow they'll be bringing a little gift for my nine-year-old?

It's never enough.

I was at a store and overheard a woman say to her friend "Oh this would make the perfect gift for someone you don't like very much."

Even my six-year-old is trying to add to his already fulfilled Santa wish list. Not happening.

It's enough already. Put down the credit card and go home.

(And if you see me in line at the grocery store this afternoon don't say anything...I know, I know.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day? No Way!

We're being hit by a major snowstorm - Snowmageddon they're calling it - and the kids have been perched by the radio waiting for those magic words. And as hard as they wish for a snow day, I'm counterwishing it.

Think we came out 50/50. The buses got cancelled, but school is on.

I'm known in the 'hood as the Mom who never lets her kids miss school, so away we go.

Now, because I'm not totally insane or actually the meanest Mom in the world (although I haven't done a recent survey so my information may be dated), I'm going to pick them up after lunch before the roads are really treacherous.

They'll spend the afternoon outside anyway, sliding down our pathetic excuse for "Snow Mountain" (we live on a cul de sac and it's where the plows dump their excess.)

By the time they come back inside, it'll be a reasonable time to pour a glass and prepare myself for the two weeks they have off. There is a method to my madness.

For a Mom like me who works from home, having kids around is like doing double-shift, with your hands tied behind your back. For true stay-at-home Moms I guess it's like double-overtime.

So Moms, if you can get them safely to school (and back, they usually recommend), do it. You'll regret that you didn't enjoy your last few hours of kidfree time on day 3 of the "vacation".

Now go put that wine in the fridge to chill. Better yet, start gathering the ingredients for a hot rum toddy to sip on while you're breaking up fights on your own "Snow Mountain".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Can Tell You Where To Put That Christmas Angel

If one more person asks me "So are you ready for Christmas?" they may just find themselves on the receiving end of a well placed piece of tissue paper.

Is there a more annoying question? Are we ever really ready for the carnage on Christmas day? Tis truly the season of annoying questions...like these classics:

Will Santa be good to you this year?
(Which is swiftly followed up on the 26th of December by "Was Santa good to you this year?)

Mom did you mail my list to Santa yet? I want to change it.

So, visiting the out-laws this year?

Honey where's the scotch tape?

Weren't you going to get the teacher gifts?

Yes, the only thing more frustrating than the folks who waste their breath on these remarks are the ones who also say:

"New Year's just not a big deal to me."

Umm have you EVER met anyone over the age of 21 to whom it is?

Now excuse me while I go exchange the kitty Webkinz for the alligator one...

And pass the egg nog while you're at it. That'll get me in the mood.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just Eat It

I love food. Eating it, that is. What I'm not so fond of is grocery shopping for it, preparing it, cooking it, and then finally putting in front of my four kids who will inevitably hate it. Not all of them, not all on the same day. But, as the saying goes, you can't please all of the people, all of the time. And kids are sort of people.

(And so they think the fire alarm is the dinner bell...whatever)

Read all about my latest way to get dinner on the table, and if not eliminate the complaints about my cooking, at least give me a defensible position.

It's in my exclusive blog at Health & Harmony, "On Balance". Click here to read all about it. And check out their line of products for some last minute on-line shopping as well.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Most writers will tell you that the best and worst part about getting a book published is doing book signings. For most of us, who are NOT Stephen King or Stephanie Meyers, this usually consists of sitting at a little fold out table in the middle of a busy retail store where shoppers frantically avoid eye contact with you. You don't even really care if you sell that many books - you just want to not look like such a loser, mostly. But it's always cool (and somewhat surprising) to meet people who would actually spend their money on your book.

Last night I went to Massey Hall in Toronto to see writer David Sedaris ("When You Are Engulfed In Flames", "Dress Your Family In Corduroy & Denim") who not only did not look like a loser, he had long lines for people waiting to sign his book, before and after the show.

And the kicker? The "show" was simply him reading from his books, radio show, and other diary entries. He was fantastic. Hysterical. Had the sold out crowd in the palm of his hand as he talked about, well, mostly HIS book tour, and his own cringe-worthy sittings in between the Frozen Food and the Tires at Costco.

I so impressed that a writer could not only turn a book reading and signing into a ticketed event, (which he is doing across North America), but I was also inspired. As a humour writer, you want the laughs. How awesome for him to hear the laughs in person, instead of missing them as someone reads his book on the Go Train and bursts into laughter (as I do when I read him), feeling themselves like a loser.

"Humour is just the truth being told quicker to you than you're used to", he said in his closing remarks. If that's true, he's one of the quickest talkers I've ever seen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kids...And a Life?

That's the basic premise behind Mom Magazine. Actually its more than that - their philosophy is "Life as a MOM doesn't mean life as a woman has to end."

I was interviewed by their publisher/editor Tamara yesterday for a piece they're running on uncluttering your life for the New Year. Tamara was great - had read my previous post about my challenges with RIM - and she admitted that she had already named her BlackBerry. It's Kumar, from Harold & Kumar, a favourite of hers.

Anyway check out the site and the printed magazine (you can get a subscription for only $15 a year). Loads of great stuff. Visit them at www.mommagazine.ca

And now after all the advice I gave on uncluttering I feel the need to clean out my office. Or maybe just do some more online Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A BlackBerry By Any Other Name...

So, it turns out the fine folks at RIM want me to make a teensy change to my new book, "The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood."

I already took out the word "crackberry". NOT ALLOWED.

Or any reference to "addiction". NOT ALLOWED.

I get it.

But the latest?

Apparently, they are worried about the term "BlackBerry" turning into part of the English lexicon much like other branded icons such as "Kleenex", or "Bandaid". As someone who worked in consumer marketing for 20 years I say...this is a bad thing???

According to their legal department it is. And no "begging to differ" is making any difference at all for this poor begger.

I support their new branding initiative. I LOVE my BlackBerry after all. I just wish they wouldn't start with my book.

I have to go through the galley proofs of my book (that's how far along we are, for a March 2009 release), and replace the word "BlackBerry" with "BlackBerry Smartphone", or "BBSM", OR, I can "name" my BlackBerry and get away with it that way.

Barry is just way too obvious.

Any suggestions? I'm thinking Seamus. Or Beatrice.

Send me a BBSM email on it. Kathy@kathybuckworth.com


Friday, November 28, 2008

It's a Wrap

Or maybe I should say "It's a warp" as in my very warped friend Helaine Becker and I just finished laying down about 90 hours of tape for our radio show pilot...which our lucky editor now has to get down to 24 minutes. Yes, our half hour has 24 minutes. We taped most of our stuff in the "Quirks and Quarks" studio which was probably fitting.

Working in the hallowed halls of the CBC Building for a week has been an interesting experience - met some great people and saw some interesting demo's in the atrium for upcoming "Dragon's Den" episodes.

My kids will be glad to have me back in work-from-home mode next week. No, not because they miss jumping off the school bus and leaping into my loving arms, or sitting quietly doing homework and sharing quality bonding moments with me.

None of that.

It's because I'll finally be making a meal OUTSIDE of my crock pot.

LOVE that thing. Maybe that's the NEXT show.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't I Know You From Somewhere...

I'm spending the week at the CBC Building in downtown Toronto this week, working on a radio pilot. The building itself is at the same time open and airy (the central atrium) as well as a rabbit's warren of cubicles and darkly lit hallways.

Myself, my co-writer/host Helaine Becker, and Peter Brown (our producer and mastermind behind CBC's hit comedy summer show, "The Irrelevant Show") have been hammering out scripts, booking guests, and generally assaulting people on the street for interviews.

At the same time, as I sit and have my sandwich in the Ooh La La restaurant off the atrium, I've been able to indulge in a bit of Canadian celebrity watching - Wendy Mesley, Jian Ghomeshi, Nicholas Campbell and Matt Galloway have all walked past. Not to mention actually meeting the Queen of CBC, Denise Donlon. Last week when we were in getting audio equipment, Peter Freaking C. Newman walked by on his way to an interview.

(And don't worry Jian - I read your column in the Post this morning, and my teenage daughter thought Twilight was awful as well - she won't be lynching you for your review.)

Haven't seen George S yet, but if the line-ups for tickets to his show, The Hour, are any indication, I'm sure I'll never break through the crowd in order to offer him a seat at our lunch table.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Morning...

On Thursday of this week I was on Canada AM, talking about Bedtime Tips for kids. I hadn't done this show before, and it was great.

I was interviewed by Seamus O'Regan, who is just as cute in person, and chatted with Beverly Thompson as well, about the teen obsession with the movie "Twilight". In fact, as I write this, my 17-year-old is driving to the movie with a friend. I hear it's terrific...if you are a teenage girl. Sort of Harlequin meets Dracula.

The only thing scarier than a vampire is the traffic I had to face at 6:30 in the morning to get to the CTV Studios in Scarborough, from Mississauga. Got there precisely on time at 8:10. Seamus tells me he doesn't face much traffic at 4:40 a.m., when he's on the road to work.

If you want to see the Canada AM clip, click on this link: http://watch.ctv.ca/news/top-picks/time-for-bed/#clip114262

This week, I'm getting a taste of my old 9-5 life, but in a much more exciting way. I'll be down at the CBC building all week taping a pilot for a radio show, with my writing partner on this project, award-winning children's author Helaine Becker. Stay tuned for information as to whether we can impress the CBC brass enough to land a summer series.

Fingers crossed...and garlic necklace on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Anne of Green-ish Gables

Last night my 9-year-old daughter Bridget and I were invited to attend the Toronto premiere of "Anne of Green Gables, A New Beginning", in which writer/producer/director Kevin Sullivan explores Anne's time before she gets to the Gables, and also her life as a mature woman with grown children.

Bridget was especially thrilled that the young girl who plays Anne, 12-year-old Hannah Endicott-Douglas, was at the screening. She's great, as is Barbara Hershey (who plays Anne in her later years), with Shirley Maclaine stealing every scene she's in as the indomitable Mrs. Thomas. You'll have to see the movie to figure out her role in the story.

Bridget asked me why all the grown ups kept laughing at the way Anne speaks - you know, "Oh my heart is filled with such glee that I cannot contain myself" - that sort of thing. I said it was because she spoke in such an unusual way for a child, and that frankly I was relieved that my children spoke in less flowery terms, for surely I would not be able to contain myself from telling them to get to the point.

The movie is shot on location, with Dundas and Rockwood Ont standing in for PEI and it's beautiful...as is the theatre which presented the movie, the Regent, in the Mount Pleasant and Eglinton area. Bridget was a little miffed that they didn't have the now-traditional cup holders built into the well worn seats, and I didn't think it prudent to point out to her it was probably ashtrays that were installed there originally.

The movie will be aired on CTV on December 14th. Watch for it. But don't pull out the ashtrays just for old times sake.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Have a Cover

My fourth book, "The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood" is going to be released in March, 2009. As a relative newbie in the publishing business, I'm always surprised how many steps you go through from getting words on the page (or screen) to getting a book on the shelf.

And, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, and as a consequence cover art can take a long time to put together. So I'm really pleased that after months of discussion, proposals, and negotiations between editorial, sales and marketing, and myself, we have a final cover. And I really love it.

The book is already available for pre-order on www.Chapters.Indigo.ca or www.amazon.ca

Do you have a BlackBerry? If you do, and you love it, drop me a line and let me know why...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is This What Women Want?

On Sunday I went down to the National Women's Show, to make an "appearance" at the Health & Harmony booth. They were giving away five copies of my book, "Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Home", which they sell on their site www.healthharmony.ca

The women I met from Health & Harmony were lovely I had a great time chatting with them and the women I met who dropped by the booth. (I also enjoyed sneaking furtive glances at the "Hanky Panky, Adult Home Parties" booth next to me.)

I brought my 17 year old daughter (looking to escape her studying for a few hours), and she wandered around the show, picking up samples and buying organic make up. But when I took a quick tour with her I wondered about the message we were sending our young daughters when every other booth was about rejuvenation - cosmetically, surgically, organically, medically, physically. While there were lots of companies offering beautiful jewellery, clothing, and healthy food alternatives, the message of "step it up sister" was clear to me. The Botox line-up was wrapped four times around their sizable booth. Not sure what for exactly - the bright pink bag with "BOTOX" on it? Surely not.

It was terrific to see so many women of so many different ages out at the show, clearly enjoying each other's company. Let's hope they didn't come away with an overall feeling of needing to fix what probably isn't broken. Maybe just an appointment for one of those home parties.

Friday, November 7, 2008

If this is Friday it must be Hamilton

It's been a hectic week travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, back to Toronto, Hamilton and Mississauga going on shows to talk about bedtime tips for kids. It has of course resulted in me not being around to tuck my own kids into bed for quite a few nights.

The kids seemed pretty well rested when I got back so I can assume my husband was following all of our regular routines (for my tips, visit www.tech4kids.com and click on my book - you can also see some great nighttime products I highly recommend).

I left town and only left him my contact information - no pages of lists, post-its stuck to every appliance, meals made in advance...forget it. He's a grown up and can figure these things out for himself.

A friend asked how the poor fellow survived and I said "He did, and I don't want to know all the boring details. I don't normally share them with HIM, I don't want them shared BACK either."

I did hear from the kids about arriving at a hockey game at the wrong time, the laundry ending up in the wrong baskets, the oven timer that mysteriously stopped working when I left the house...and for a bonus one child even vomited. As far as I'm concerned, it was a total success.

FYI - for readers wondering about the Staples Teacher Appreciation Contest Winners - they will be announced in January, and I'll post them on my website at www.kathybuckworth.com Sign up for the "Funny Mummy Files" newsletter on my site and you'll be the first to know.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yahoo - Greetings from Calgary

Yep- I'm here in Cowtown for some television interviews - today Global News and tomorrow Breakfast Television. I'll be talking about Sleep Tips for Children and liberally dispensing some "do's" and "don'ts", which will hopefully help some of the sleep deprived and frustrated parents. I'll also be showing off some terrific bedtime products (check them out at www.tech4kids.com).

My second child Alexander was born in Calgary some 15 years ago - little did I know when I left here in 1994 that I would add two more kids to the brood and in the process make my kids my material, and my new career.

There were signs that babies and kids would leak into my professional life, as when I lived here, I owned and operated a children's and maternity clothing store. I opened the doors when Alex was just five weeks old - I'd just throw him in a sling and have my two year old Victoria watch over the kids' play area (she was a little territorial but there was no permanent damage).

Still I spent another eight years in corporate marketing before deciding to hang up the briefcase and pick up the pen. So glad I did. Hope others are as well.

And, for the record, I don't personally recommend the five week maternity leave. I'm much happier with my "eternity" leave.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Looking In Control

Yesterday I went out to Rogers Television in Richmond Hill, to do a segment on my buddy Alyson Schafer's show, The Parenting Show. Alyson and I both do not suffer from being able to talk either enough, or quickly enough. As we chatted our way through preps in the Green Room (which is actually more blue at these studios), we shared a few laughs about both scrambling to get our last edits done on our new books, both due out this spring.

Alyson's book has a terrific title "Honey I Wrecked The Kids: When Yelling, Screaming, Threats, Bribes, Time Outs, Sticker Charts and Removing Priviledges All Don't Work." I think I'll be able to relate to this one.

Anyway we had no trouble filling our 8 minute segment talking about the Frazzled Mom. Alyson's co-host Jennifer Anderson also has four kids (we're the ones bringing up the averages) so loads to relate. The show is available on-line at Rogers Television (uploaded sometime this week) if you missed it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Organic Wine - the best of both worlds?

Yesterday I met my friend, author Nathalie Prezeau for lunch at Live Organic Food Bar. Her choice. It's not that I'm anti-organic or anti-raw or anti-vegan...its just I like eating across the food spectrum, and for me that includes red meat, red wine, and, well basically anything deep fried.

But I was curious and hungry, and I had just done an interview for a magazine down the street...and I like Nathalie, so I agreed to try it. I joked that I guessed it wouldn't be a liquid lunch, which is the norm for writers (the only thing I have in common with Ernest Hemmingway, BTW).

Much to my surprise and delight - there is such a thing as Organic Wine, and as we split a half litre, I had to acknowledge that my raw pad thai was also pretty good. I haven't really met too many happy vegans in my life but the service was great and the food was really tasty.

Visit them - they're at 264 Dupont Street, and there's an amazing store next door called Kinna Sohna which carries clothing and jewelry "from far-away lands". The owner and designer was lovely and she indulged me as I tried on the same blouse in about 17 different colours.

Wine, healthy food and silk blouses - what could be better.

Check out Nathalie's book "Toronto Fun Places", or visit www.torontofunplaces.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beauty (and age) is in the eye of the beholder...darn!

We all know the expression "kids say the darndest things". Well they can also say the sweetest things...and the nastiest things. Can't wait for my kids to develop that inside voice filter that (most) adults have.

We were at the school bus stop yesterday and my 9 year old Bridget said "You look so small next to the other parents,Mom - you're just the size of a kid!" So while I was feeling (for a nano-second) like all my workouts had been paying off, my 6 year old Nicholas piped in and said "Yeah but actually it's just because she's really old."


Then last night I splurged and got my hair done in a crazy sort of up-do for an awards ceremony, Bridget got off the school bus (what is it with this school bus chatter?) and asked me why my hair was different. I said it was because I was nominated for an award and was going to a fancy dinner that night. She said "Well you look like a freak and you won't win anyway."


And, she was right. I didn't win...but my own Mom said it looked nice. Maybe she just has a well developed filter. Like all Moms.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weight For Me

The other day I said to my husband "What's it like not to think about every single piece of food you put into your mouth?" He's one of those naturally thin people who never really snacks and exercises simply for his health. I remember being in a clothing store with him once and the clerk said to him "And we have a bit of space here in the pants in case you put on a few inches around the waist." To which Mr Smartypants replied "Oh, I haven't put on any weight since high school."

Out loud I said "Try having four kids bub, and then talk to me", and then I silently mouthed an obscenity at him as well.

Don't get me wrong - I'm happy with my weight now, but I do really work at it. I let loose on some poor person who was kindly complimenting me when they said "You're lucky you're so thin." I said "Lucky? Let me tell you - I work out 3 or 4 times a week and go to bed hungry most nights!" I think about food and drink and exercise as much as the next girl.

My friends and I laughed over a Macleans article last week which talked about "drunkerexics" which is basically women who give up food calories for booze calories (who doesn't do that?), but it hit a nerve. I do think about it way too much.

Then I read an excellent book called "Thin Is The New Happy" by Valerie Frankel. It is a memoir (if you've seen Burn After Reading, pronounce the word like John Malkovich did, just for fun) and it takes you through her lifelong battle with weight and how much brain power we women use up thinking about it. Great read. Pick it up. (I emailed her to tell her how much I liked it - and she emailed me right back - cool!) It'll make you think about more important things.

And now I'm going to have just one more of those little Halloween chocolates...and maybe a 100 calorie glass of wine...and not think about it at all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Say ohmmmmmm

Yes, normally I'm saying OMG but once in a while I just say ohm...when I'm trying to pretend that I know what I'm doing in Yoga class. I wrote about my experiences in the new blog I just launched exclusively with DoubleDay Canada, on their website, Health & Harmony. I'm sorta the comic relief on the site. You can read about my attempts to find a life balance every few weeks, by visiting http://www.healthharmony.ca/KB

As my Yoga instructor can attest, I'm not the world's most flexible person, but I knew a girl in high school who was- she blew into freezing Winnipeg like the southern storm that she was, and we were all amazed by her gymnastics ability, her Texan Twang ("Say ZEEERO for us Pam!") and her fantastic self-confidence. We've stayed in touch through the years, and serendipitously, wouldn't you know it - she's a yoga instructor and she kindly shared my blog on Yoga with her home base in Texas, so now I'm sending you to her site, for some great information and tips. Check out her blog at http://potentialwithin.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/kathy-buckworth/ to read all about it.

And just let your mind float...you'll need to after deciding who to vote for today.

Don't forget to vote.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

News at 11!

Yesterday I got a call from a producer at Global News in Toronto, wanting to know if I could film a segment for them on how the economic situation is affecting families and their everyday spending. He wanted to make sure a few of my kids were available as well. My first thought was - Great - this will give my kids the opportunity to complain about their paltry allowances and homemade lunches.

After we worked out the logistics on how many of my kids could be available at what time, I started thinking about how this very real crisis is starting to roost in our house. According to my 17 year old daughter, I'm already a tightwad because I won't buy her a car (like her friends' "nice" parents do), a laptop or install a hot tub in the backyard. My 15 year old son doesn't understand how I can possibly imagine that last year's snowboard is sufficient for this year.

Should they listen to the reality of me getting meaner and leaner "live" on television? I decided to not let them talk and just leave them as "B roll" material.

My two younger kids however, love shopping at WalMart, got their Halloween costumes from Value Village and beg me to go to the dollar store like it's a trip to Disney.

When do we go from expecting so little, to expecting so much?

I admit I put myself in the same category.

While I was feeling good about the fact that my house was clean for the shoot, I felt simultaneously guilty about the fact that I had paid my cleaning lady to do the honours.

So, I hid my new boots in the front closet, unclipped my BlackBerry, stashed my own new laptop in the office, kept my jeans on, and (I hope) managed to talk on camera about what we really can do to tighten our belts in this new world. If you live in the GTA, catch it 6:00 and 11:00 tonight.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Not So Secret Life

Last week I was interviewed for a U.S. based website called www.sheknows.com about what "Soccer Moms" (that terrific terminology which converts to "Hockey Mom" in Canadian) are really thinking about when they're at the soccer field (or that freezing cold arena).

Here's an excerpt from my interview with the reporter:

“I never feel guilty about sneaking in BlackBerry time as I tell my kids (and this is true 99% of the time - 1% of the time I might be playing BrickBreaker, but whatever) that if I didn't have my BlackBerry I wouldn't be able to leave the home office to take them to their sports and other activities. Rather than seeing it as an electronic leash, I totally embrace it as a portable office. I can physically be in the moment with my children while virtually be keeping up with work.”

I know I'm not alone in this. We're women. We multi-task. Read the whole article by clicking on this link.

I know some of you are with me. And if you're not, maybe YOU can bring the "snack" to the game when it's my turn. I know I'm going to forget.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Thriving Hospital

Today I had the honour of speaking at the launch of a great new magazine called "Thrive". The publication is a joint venture between the Credit Valley Hospital and the Credit Valley Hospital Foundation, and I was pleased to be asked to not only contribute a few articles, but also to act as their "cover girl". I've personally had a broken bone repaired there (the result of a freak sliding door mini-van accident), and also gave birth to my fourth child at the hospital, so this "birth" was a natural.

The cover photo wasn't exactly an exotic photo shoot on a Caribbean beach, rather it took place in my kitchen, but the upside was no bikinis were necessitated. The article was called "The Frazzled Mom" and the editor told me he thought of me right away - not sure if this was a compliment on my writing skills or a comment on my lifestyle, but I took the gig.

I couldn't produce my entire family for the photo, so I shipped in a fake husband (my editor), his dog (hey, I have four kids...I need a dog?), and as I was down one son, pretended to be yelling at him off camera. It wasn't a stretch.

The launch was a success and the magazine is glossy and sleek - unlike this frazzled Mom who is mortified to see that my messy cupboards are in crystal clear focus in the shot. No staging was required to appear truly frazzled.

You can read my musings on why Moms today feel more frazzled than ever by visiting the Articles section at my website, www.kathybuckworth.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Teacher Teacher

I'll admit that through my writing, and my own big mouth, I'm known for giving teachers a hard time. Partly this is due to my jealousy over their summer break, and partly it's because I have way too many close relatives in the field to ignore the easy jibes.

But this past week, it was my privilege to judge entries into Staples "Teacher Appreciation Contest" which rewards both the student entrant as well as the teacher with some fabulous prizes. I was blown away by some of the stories of dedication by the teachers, and the inspiration they provided for their students. We received entries from all across Canada - there are truly great teachers from coast-to-coast. Winners will be announced November 14th.

The truth is, my kids have had fabulous teachers who have laughed at my goofy son, comforted my shy daughter, and obligingly moved my chatty kids from one side of the room to the other...and back again.

So, to my sister, my two sisters-in-law, and two brothers-in-law who persevere in this vocation...well done. You're setting a great example for my oldest daughter, now in Grade 12, who is applying to enter university next fall...in a teaching program.

Awesome. I'll have someone to hang out with in the summer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pretend We're Normal

This is advice that I often give to my children, my husband, and whisper like a mantra to myself when entering social situations where I am about to inflict my family on innocent bystanders. Such will be the case tonight, when we venture into the treacherous land of the Public School Open House.

I'm somewhat of a veteran at these affairs (given my oldest children are in high school), and I have insider knowledge from my sister-the-teacher, so I thought I'd share some tips for newbies.

1) This is an Open House, not a teacher/parent interview. Likely there are 25+ kids who are all clamouring to introduce the teacher to their Mom or Dad. Say hi and step aside. You'll get the signal if they need to talk to you some more. They want to go home.

2) You're there for the kids - admire the classroom, see their desk - you can gossip about whether you think the head of the school council had Botox or not later (chances are, she did - she fought to be head of the school council so we know she does weird things).

3) If you bring flowers or any sort of other butt-kissing present to the teacher, they will know that you think you need to apologize for your behaviour in advance. Yes, of course your child is more special.

Above all, avoid using the phrase "well I don't know where he learned that!" in front of the teacher - she knows where he learned it.

Act normal.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cast Your Vote

Nah, I'm not talking about those of the two BIG, IMPORTANT elections that are going on right now.

It's something far more interesting. Well, to me and my trash magazine reading friends anyway.

Earlier this summer I taped an episode of Much More Music's popular "Listed" program, on the Top 20 Hot Celebrity Baby-Makers. It's airing tonight at 8:00 (eastern time).

I know you know who's at the top of that list, but tune in anyway.

The best thing about this? It makes all the time I spent reading Star Magazine and cruising through www.perezhilton.com become legitimate research for this gig.

Now if I can get my kids to change the channel away from Hannah Montana, I might actually get to watch it too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No Time To Pre-Soak

One of the things I love most about my life is the variety of things that I get to do. One of the things that is hardest about my life is making the transition between the variety of things.

Mondays are always a very exciting day for me as it's Laundry Day. Four messy kids and a slight A Personality means I do it once a week - to get it done - and to check it off my list.

Two loads done, four lunches made and sent with (hopefully) the corresponding kid, moving to a Total Body Conditioning Class I'm still feeling two days later, back home to work on edits for my next book, take some calls, get some groceries, then finally get that shower in. I realized I was attending a ceremony where the finalists for the Mississauga Arts Awards were being announced later that evening, so I put the outfit on for that, zipped to the bus stop, handed over my car to my daughter for her part-time job, shoved dinner down the kids and noted the just-in-time arrival of my husband, dropped two of them at a neighbour, raced out to the ceremony, posed with my certificate, raced home, picked up the kids, checked the homework, filled out the innumerable school forms, finished folding the laundry...and marked October 20th in my calendar - the day the Arts Awards will be given out.

I'm up for the Established Literary Award (I refuse to believe that "Established" means old, versus "Emerging", which means young.)

I should have something clean to wear anyway...as it lands on a Laundry Day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hey kid get out of my shot!

On the weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the launch of a new children's store, called La Compagnie Des Petits. This cool children's clothing store has been around in Europe for years, but the first North American location just opened this weekend at the Bramalea City Centre in Brampton.

My six year old son Nicholas was invited to model some of the clothes (he loved his outfit - judging by the fact that he refused to take it off for 48 hours afterwards). I'm not sure if I was pleased or not that he seemed quite comfortable with the flashbulbs and attention. Is there room in my family for two attention seekers? I tried shoving my free book draw poster in front of his smiling face as the photographers snapped away, but they seemed to prefer him over me.

We also had the chance to meet the mayor of Brampton, Susan Fennell, who had the "coolest necklace" according to Nic, and who was nice enough to let him help cut the ribbon.

Check out the store if you live in the area - and enter the book draw!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Free Pierogi With Every Book

Just found out from my U.S. publisher, Sourcebooks, that foreign rights have been sold for my first book (The Secret Life of Supermom) to Poland. This follows up sales to Indonesia and China. I'm thrilled that the book is selling to these exotic locations - but I'm thinking maybe that they'll find the trials and tribulations of the typical North American woman to be quite different than what they face.

While we all juggle work, kids, home, hubby, I'm sincerely hoping that the age of the "Helicopter Parent" hasn't yet invaded Poland.

Actually, forget the free pierogi with every book; what every Supermom needs, worldwide, is a free bottle of vodka with every book. I'll see if we can work that into the next deal.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

There IS an age limit...

Or at least there should be. For their own good. No, not talking about women over 40 wearing belly tops, men over 10 wearing "short short" athletic shorts or even anyone over the age of 6 months wearing socks and sandals. I'm talking about the woman in France who just gave birth to triplets. At age 59.

A few years ago I wrote an article about a woman, who, at the tender age of 57 gave birth to ONLY twins. She was, apparently, an amateur. Still I believe some of the observations I had still hold true for this new crazy lady.

Click here if you wanna read it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

One week down, about 40 to go...

So the first week of school is almost officially over. My youngest started Grade 1 French Immersion and is convinced he will be fluent by next Tuesday. I admire his confidence. I do think, however, that I shook it when yesterday he tried to share some of his language skills with me, with his declaration at our local McDonalds of "Je m'appelle toilet." Hmmm. Was the name calling starting already? I insisted, no sweetie, it's "Je m'appelle Nicholas."

(This is the same kid, who minutes upon landing at the airport in France a couple of years ago, passed gas and announced "My butt says bonjour!" I'm already looking forward to potty talk in two languages).

Yet he started to get quite irate and red in the face with his "my name is toilet" statement, insisting he knew what he was talking about until he finally blurted out "I can't think when I have to pee! I need to GO to the toilet!"

Multi-tasking has never been a man's strength.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mom Overboard!

That was the theme of the Babes & Tots speaker series I participated in this morning in Mississauga's Living Arts Centre. Moderated by the lovely Erica Ehm (that girl never ages, I swear, even though she was cursing her newly acquired glasses backstage), and it was great fun sharing the stage with Ann Douglas and Alyson Schafer, who never run out of fantastic parenting advice. We are all what you might call a little verbose - not exactly an introvert convention. Gave away some prizes, chatted with the audience, shared some stories...all good.

The seminars will continue this evening at 7:00, and then carry on every Tuesday for the month of September until we move the show to Ajax in October, and London in November. My next appearance will be October 7th at 10:00 a.m. in Ajax, so if you live in the area, try to come by. There's a consumer trade show component as well - check out their site.

The best part? (Besides hanging out with these wonderful women of course). I got to miss the first day of school and let my husband handle the Grade 1 tears while I spoke at the media breakfast this morning. The tears? No, they weren't about little Nic missing Mommy all day...it's knowing his days of having exclusive access to the television in the mornings while his 3 older siblings were at school, have come to an end. That, and the fact that "big boys" can't take their blankies to school- I've got it waiting by the front door right now. I'm trying not to miss him too much.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Real Poop

Anyone with young children knows that any conversations which revolve around "bathroom talk" are just the best. As much as we try to steer the conversation away from the poop and the pee, it's pretty much a lost cause. My son Nicholas likes to substitute the word "poo" for almost everything. "What do you want for dinner Nic?" I'll say. He'll answer "What do I want for poo?" Makes no sense but he kills himself laughing. He even sings "Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like poo?"

So imagine his delight when I met up with a friend with her kids and took him to poo mecca yesterday...yes that's right, the zoo. Forget the lions, the tigers, the cheetahs (their poo is too small) - check out the rhinos, hippos, and wild boars. "That poo is like a coconut!" They just couldn't get enough of the different types, imagining who had to clean it up, what it smelled like...which led me to come up with a great idea for anyone wanting to invest in a kids entertainment venture. "The World of Poo". Build the venue in the shape of a toilet, create interesting display areas, and instead of a machine that says "Coffee" (aka the Science Centre), how about one which eloquently demonstrates flatulence? You could charge a fortune.

Now I've got to let the plumber in the door to install my new (you guessed it) toilet. The sight of the old one at the curb already has Nicholas in stitches. No shit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just do the math...

I sometimes feel that having four children is a lot. In fact, when we're down to just two kids, (as we were this weekend) my husband and I often say "what do people with two kids do all day?" We're half kidding...as we are well aware that it's all relative. When you have four kids, two is easy. When you have two kids, one is easy. When you have none... ONE (especially the first one) is REALLY hard.

The relativity hit me this weekend as I found some quiet time (only two kids in residence, remember?) and watched the classic movie "Yours, Mine, and Ours" with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. He had 10 kids, she had 8, and not only were they madcap enough to get married, she got pregnant (the logistics of finding time alone to begin with are truly boggling). Of course they all lived happily ever after - it was more a fantasy movie rather than a romantic comedy. Even their teenage son was pleasant.

Flash forward to me, yesterday, at Staples, pulling together school supplies for my kids (only four of them, not 19) it occurred to be while advising my nine year old that $12 is too much for a pencil case, that relatively speaking, I could handle this. Most of the time.

But if you live in the Toronto area, tune into Breakfast Television this Friday morning to see Alyson Schafer talking about "Mom Overboard", the theme of the Babes & Tots Show I'll be participating in on Tuesday, September 2nd in Mississauga. Yes, September 2nd...the first day my kids will be test driving those overpriced pencil cases.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where's my gold medal?

Here's a sneak peak at my September Funny Mummy column. Think most Moms can probably relate.

Faster, Stronger,...Quieter?

Like many, I’ve watched the Olympic Games and have been impressed by the strength, stamina, and relentless effort and energy of the athletes in Beijing. However, it made me think about how today’s Moms compete at an Olympian level every day, in many challenging and sometimes stupefying physical efforts. Take, for instance, the following events I myself personally competed in during the past week:

• Hurdling: We’ve running 10 minutes late for a doctor’s appointment, and due to an unfortunate incident involving fighting siblings and an errant softball throw, I’m jumping over knapsacks, skateboards, laundry baskets, and assorted rubbery clog shoes to get to the family room, retrieve the crying child’s favourite blankie (which will cure the pain of course) and get back out the door before the doctor decides to punish ME for being late…for once.

• Sprinting: Yep, that’s me, running through the aisles of the grocery store. Bought all the ingredients for my daughter’s special dinner, but forgot her favourite topping – get out of the way old lady I need to get to the sour cream and back again before the cashier abandons my order (yes those are my kids wandering the parking lot – I was only supposed to be five minutes!)

• Long Distance Running: “Long”, being a virtual thing. Yes, the 1000 meters to the park seems like 10,000 when towing along a screaming six year old who desperately needs to go pee but simultaneously doesn’t want to leave his friends on the jungle gym.

• Long Jump: From one side of the family room to the other just in time to catch the spilling chocolate milk from hitting Daddy’s precious rug.

• Water Polo: More like Water Haul-O, an annoying and exhausting event created by Dads which involves inexplicably picking up and hurling young children from one end of the pool to another. Oh, where’s Dad? Resting his weary arms at work while I pick up the slack (a.k.a. the kid). Again! Again!

• Beach Volleyball: Yes there’s nothing quite so attractive as watching a mother of four in an ill advised bikini, leap about on the beach trying to wrestle the Monsters Inc beach ball from a teasing teenage brother and return it to its rightful teary younger sibling.

• Javelin: This wasn’t a physical sort of javelin throw attempt, rather a metaphysical or “shooting daggers” style of competition which took place during a fight between my two children while other pleasantly disposed children played like lambs at a public swimming pool.

• Weight Lifting: No, not my own girth off the couch after watching seven straight hours of Olympic coverage, but the Herculean effort of carrying the Wal-Mart disposable shopping bags which are ubiquitously filled with juice, milk, pop and heavy frozen items. Could they have made these bags any bigger? Can one of you kids get the one full of bread? Sheesh.

My best event is still to come. The High Jump. The one I’ll be doing the morning of September 2nd – the first day of school.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Wee Bit of News

I'm pleased to announce that starting today, you can find my Funny Mummy Files blog on one of Canada's greatest parenting sites and services, www.weewelcome.ca My good friend, and the president/founder/human dynamo of Wee Welcome, Maureen Dennis, recently relaunched the site, and it is better than ever.

Wee Welcome's philosophy has always been "Have a baby...and a life" and the site allows new parents to do just that. They've been carrying my Funny Mummy monthly column for years, and I'm proud to have contributed to their guides as well. They have events, news, reviews, products, services, and of course the blogs.

If you need to reaffirm that there is indeed life beyond diapers and drool, get to their site immediately.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Real Life

On Friday we had a photo shoot at my house, for the Frazzled Mom piece. As usual I recruited my children, but as in the life of a real frazzled Mom, had to improvise just a tad. I was down one kid out of the four, and there was a call to "Send in the replacement husband". My real life husband was frantically working so we could get away for the weekend, my editor stepped into the hapless male role and agreed to be background Dad. He even brought his dog - I don't own a dog but a REAL frazzled Mom would, I suppose. Nothing is the way it seems in this photo...but do you think I could talk them into airbrushing a few pounds off?

I need the pounds off after another glorious weekend sponging off yet another set of gracious friends. Started off great with a big win by yours truly at Texas Hold 'Em (nothing like beating two men and your teenage son in one fell swoop), but quickly deteriorated the next night during a rousing game of Tour De Force (a little known but excellent Canadian Trivia Board Game by Charles Templeton and Pierre Burton) where I inadvertently revealed the fact that I couldn't name one tributary river but had no trouble listing the names of John Derek's three wives.

Wish I could airbrush out that knowledge.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Frazzled...or just plain fried.

I'm writing an article this week on the "Frazzled Mom" for a new women's magazine.

It's fun - and funny - because I'm having a heck of a time getting the time to do this piece on, well, myself, in between the half day summer camps, orthodontist appointments, movie theatre drop offs, grocery shopping, birthday present buying, two other articles, a video taping, preparing for fall seminars, scrubbing algae out of pool, writing proposals, editing books...etc etc etc and blah blah blah.

All riveting stuff. The funniest part is that I'm supposed to be finding other Frazzled Moms to talk to as well - and they're too busy to talk to me.

I'm just wondering who's going to have time to read the magazine?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It was the best of times...

It was the worst of times.

At least that's how I saw our last week in Niagara On The Lake.

The best of times?

1. The play, "Belle Moral: A Natural History", written by Ann-Marie "Fall On Your Knees" MacDonald. Brilliantly written and performed. Everything from a discussion on eugenics to glimpsing the freckly bottom of a leading man.

2. Discovering the Marynissen winery - particularly the 2004 Cabernet Merlot. As good as it is inexpensive.

3. A house 10 minutes walk (and walk we did) from the main street, where my kids became intimate acquaintances of most of the shopkeepers, and the flowers lining the street are beautiful.

The worst of times?

1. Three out of the four kids vomited. Enough said.

2. The 70's movie of Niagara Falls, at the Imax. Full price. Less than an hour long and about as entertaining as a "CBC Hinterland Who's Who" segment. With worse music.

3. The food at Marineland. Aren't we all fat enough? (Sadly, came AFTER most of the vomiting.)

The week long holiday is over - back to work this week - until Friday when we hit yet another OPC. I've already packed the Gravol.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

OPC's, Part 2

My Other People's Cottage tour continues...this week I travelled way, way up north to visit and stay with my Birth Days buddy, Josey Vogels, and her very talented photographer husband, Daniel Parker.

I brought my two youngest kids - aged 6 and 9 - whom I think are the easier two compared to the tantrums and surly attitudes of my teenagers. Clearly, it is a relative sort of "easy" as Josey and Daniel looked a tad worn out as I was pulling out two days later.

Mind you, these two little angels had:

a) put indelible marker stains on their couch
b) set off the car alarm before breakfast time
c) scared the two cats into total oblivion and likely off a cliff
d) hid the remote control for more than 12 hours
e) watched Austin Powers "Goldmember" 14 times
f) got up at 7:30 in the morning, scant hours after we had retired

If you have kids, this list is NOTHING. If you don't, I suppose its SOMETHING.

Listen to Josey on CBC Radio - her new show "Between You and Me" is awesome - Thursday mornings at 9:30 and Saturday afternoons at 4:00. Or visit the website and listen online and check out the bunnies in the photos - they live at their cottage and don't wield markers or remotes in a threatening way.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Define "Uneventful"

I just returned from a great weekend in Muskoka, continuing my "Summer of OPC" (Other People's Cottages) and was telling a friend it was nice and relaxing...quite uneventful in fact. I thought.

Except for the four stitches my 6 year old had to get just before leaving town (note to self: Skateboarding Camp led by 18 year old counsellor who sprains ankle on first day not a good sign). Which perhaps threw off his sense of coordination and balance and caused him to careen into the bunk bed, resulting in an impressive goose-egg.

Which his 9 year old sister would have appreciated...if she could have seen it, through her insect-stung swollen eye which she stopped complaining about only long enough to get her twice daily ear drops for an infection picked up at camp.

I didn't even want to ask my 14 year old why he was limping after the wake boarding, and apparently my 16 year old was mumbling about something bleeding after the tubing.

And I know my banker husband is sitting in his office today, regretting the not clearly thought out decision to climb the inflatable floating mountain and partake in the teenage wrestling contest. If he doesn't remember it, his back will.

Fortunately, there are few accidents which happen while laying on the dock with a cocktail, which is where you found me. Uneventful? From where I was lying it was...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just some fun quotes

When I'm writing a book, I often like to search for quotes to include in the foreword and sometimes between chapter breaks. I inevitably come across some that I just love, but could never quite work into a humour book about parenting. So I'll just share them here:

"I've never been a millionaire, but I know I'd just be darling at it."
Dorothy Parker

"Men are jerks. Women are psychotic."
Kurt Vonnegut

"Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow."
Oscar Wilde

"I can win an argument, on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of respect, they don't even invite me."
Dave Barry

Without exception, I wish ALL of these had come out of my mouth. Damn. Here's one of my own that I have been using lately however...

"I'd rather have wine in a box than whine about Botox."

Yeah...I'm working on it, okay?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scary scary scary

David Sedaris is hysterical. If you haven't read his latest book, "When You Are Engulfed In Flames", you must do so immediately. I got hooked on him with one of his earlier books, "Me Talk Pretty One Day". In particular, one story which chronicled his battle with one of life's scariest challenges - going into the washroom during a house party and finding the toilet already contains a little present from the last visitor. And you can't get rid of it,(you have to read it to find out why)...but you can't leave because there are people lined up behind you and come on, you wouldn't believe it wasn't them, either.

David will be in Toronto on December 10th at Massey Hall and I already have tickets (thanks to my sister for the early Christmas present). Get yours too if you need a laugh. And who doesn't?

I had my own scary moment this week. Decided that I needed to check the caloric and fat content of a McDonald's McChicken. They have a "Nutrition Calculator" (as a former consumer marketer, I admire their euphemistic branding effort on that). Yes, I'm sorry I looked. My favourite. Don't do it. The next thing you know you'll be looking up Wendy's Baconator as well. Scary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life with Brad & Angie

So relieved to hear that Angie and Brad have finally continued their repopulation and world domination plan by introducing not one, but two new beautiful people into the world. Yes, we've all just been made a little more ugly (relatively speaking) due to the worldwide Attractiveness Quotient being raised.

Apparently Mom "laughed and chatted" through her caesarian section (who doesn't?) while Brad looked on, concerned. (Listen if my girlfriend with the perfect body was getting cut in half I'd be concerned too.) Is there nothing these two can't do which doesn't make the rest of feel like hapless boobs? (And yes, this might be the only time you'll see the phrase "hapless boobs" in a sentence about Angelina Jolie.)

We'll find out how they do- prior to the twins' birth, they were often seen cavorting with their four kids...but only two at a time for some reason. They must have the same rule at their 80,000 square foot villa that I have at my suburban house - you don't get to leave the house unless you take one kid with ya.

I imagine that's all we share in common. I still haven't managed to laugh and chat about my caesarian section. But maybe in the NEXT 16 years it will seem funny. And yes, thanks for asking...they are quite hapless.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summertime and the eatin' is easy

Great - just when swimsuit and shorts season begins, my body decides to hang on to an extra five pounds. Must be the heat and humidity. I'm sure it can't be due to the cold glasses of pinot I've been drinking. Or the backyard bbqs. Or the heavily buttered popcorn at matinee movies with the kids. Or that unfortunate stop at the Dairy Queen.

Likely it was all of that, PLUS the two delicious Summerlicious meals I had within 18 hours of each other. A dinner at Canoe one night - love the view, love the food, love the people watching, love the gossip - which I did with my buddy Danielle Iverson, Toronto's p.r. queen. And the next day right back in an eating chair for lunch at Auberge Du Pommier - no view but lovely ambiance and again, great food - with my sister, "celebrating" her birthday. (We've agreed we don't find the word "celebrate" appropriate when discussing another year under our belts. Which is basically where all my extra weight is going, of course.)

If you haven't gotten out to a Summerlicious restaurant in Toronto yet, you have until July 20th. I figure the fatter I can get everyone else in this town, the thinner I'll look. Now pass me that pinot.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Reading

I am a self-proclaimed book geek. And summer is the best time to compile a big stack of books to work your way through. In the past month I've read some great ones - partly to escape my four "school's out!" maniacal kids, partly as a diversion tactic for work which I have due on my own books, and partly because of that previous book geek confession.

Ones I've read in the past month:

A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby - same guy who wrote High Fidelity, About a Boy, and Fever Pitch. Loved this - read it in one day. Basically it's about four people who meet accidentally on New Year's Eve...as they all contemplate throwing themselves off the top of a building, for totally different reasons.

The Catch - Louisa McCormack - author of Six Weeks to Toxic. Picked this book up from my publisher Key Porter, at the Book Expo, free as an uncorrected proof. Story of a Toronto based reality television producer who gives it all up for a summer in PEI. Great Canadian references. Comes out September 1st, but you can order it now.

The Ten Year Nap - Meg Wolitzer - a good friend of mine raced out to buy this novel after reading a review and deciding it sounded like her life. It's about a group of women in Manhattan who give it all up to stay at home with their children. Terrific title and a heavier read than I would have thought (or liked), but Wolitzer has some real insights into family and marriage which make for compelling (if not disturbing) reading.

Queen of the Babble In The Big City - total chick lit by one of the queens, Meg Cabot. Still, couldn't put it down and unlike most in this genre, couldn't entirely predict the ending.

I Heard That Song Before - Mary Higgins Clark (or so they say, as she is rumoured to have a factory producing these for her). My Mom is a huge fan and gave me this one. Quite a good mystery, for Clark. Read it in one day.

Nothing heavy, but hey - it's summer. Or in my case, a month with a vowel in it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Brevity is the soul of lingerie

So says Dorothy Parker, my favourite writer, poet, and all round cynic.

I often like to end the week reading one of her short stories and marvel in the way that her works are just as relevant today as they were when they were written in the 20's and 30's. Most of her work deals with her disappointments (with men, her work, and life in general) but I really wish she'd had children...I think mine will need therapy one day. Just imagine.

I generally don't like the word "feminist" (mostly because there is no male equivalent so we're really not that much further ahead if we have to use it), but if ever there were one, she's it baby.

One of the coolest things I've ever done is hang out in the Algonquin Hotel, where she and her Vanity Fair contemporaries made up the now infamous "Vicious Circle". If you get to NYC stop in for at least one cocktail. If you haven't seen the movie of this part of her life, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, I suggest you do.

This basically sums it up for Dorothy:

"Ducking for apples. Change one word and it's the story of my life."

Right on sister.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Books, Berries and Bits

I'm working hard on the edits for my next book, The BlackBerry Diaries:Adventures in Modern Motherhood, due out this spring with Key Porter Books. Well, as hard as I can with children in residence who seem to require individual snacks every 8 seconds or so.

I was reviewing my recommendations for potential BlackBerry upgrades that only a mother could love, and it reminded me of the hysterically funny bit which CBC's Rick Mercer did for a BlackBerry Helmet. If you are a Crackhead, and you have walked into or off of anything while on your BB, you need to watch this. I can't believe this product hasn't come out on the market place yet.

Click here and enjoy.

Or, you can read the original article I wrote which has inspired this book.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Spills and Thrills

I often get frustrated with my 6 year old son Nic for the amount of times he spills things. From chocolate milk all over his shorts at an early morning eat-out breakfast, to the last precious sips of my much needed glass of pinot.

But he's 6. He doesn't do these things on purpose.

He also likes to engage in another kind of spill - the kind that catapults him onto a hard surface when he's on a skateboard, two-wheeler, or inexplicably, even just sitting quietly on the kitchen bench. So, it wasn't really surprising that our outing to a neighbourhood roller skating palace (why are they always palaces?) produced a large number of wipe outs, stumbles, and banana-peel-butt-cracking falls. With each one, he was determined to get up, shake it off, and carry on careening around the rink. All in the pursuit of having fun.

After the alarming roller skating, we headed home to find my teenage son deeply engrossed in the Euro Cup final. In the spirit of family unity, I decided to watch a bit (me and television sports are like peanut butter and chardonnay, an unnatural combination). At first, I was shocked at the number of real injuries the players seemed to be taking - curled up on the ground, heads held in anguish - until I watched some of the supposed painful incidents on the slow motion replay. These "elite athletes" were the antithesis of the "suck it up and shake it off" attitude I had seen my 6 year old display. On purpose. Divas and divers, almost all of them (except the guy with the bleeding eyeball).

If that's what being a world class athlete requires, I think we'll stick to my original strategy of moving my kids around to different sports the minute they show any proficiency. Seems to take the fun out of it.

And did I mention the bleeding eyeball?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's in a word?

I'm co-writing/editing a book with a fantastic New Zealand author, Kathy Fray. Kathy's book "Oh Baby...Birth, Babies & Motherhood Uncensored" (published by Random House) was a huge success down under and now we're bringing it to the North American market. I met Kathy through a website I write for in Kiwi-land, called "Mums On Top", and its very funny editor, Marilynn McLachlan, author of "The New Parent Code". Part of what I'm doing with Kathy is "Americanizing" the language, which has been very interesting and Kathy and I have been having fun with the differences between the cultures and the terminology.

For instance - did you know that in New Zealand, you have to sign a form at the hospital if you DON'T want to take your placenta home with you? I spoke to an ob/gyn friend of mine here, who has birthed thousands of babies, and she said she has never ONCE been asked to "set one aside." Don't get me started on the "Placenta Helper" jokes.

I was reading through a chapter yesterday which spoke about the after effects of a Caesarian section, which we in Canada call either a Caesarian, a section, or a C-Section. In NZ, they use the term "Caesar", which naturally had me thinking of a celery laden, clamato juice and vodka combo. So when Kathy spoke about women having a hard time sitting down, or standing up, especially once they'd had a Caesar, and even worse when they'd had two, I thought, yep, me too. Out of my four kids, I've only had one "Caesar", but I've made up for it with the other type, which explains my stumbling about from time to time.

Check out Kathy's website - she's got some terrific stuff there.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Tomorrow I'm going to be taping an episode of Much More Music's show "Listed", where we'll be counting down the Top 20 "Celebrity Babymakers". So excited about this - for a few reasons, not the least of which my so-called trash reading of Star Magazine and Perez Hilton's website can now technically be called research.

I have the inside scoop on who they believe wins the #1 spot - and some surprising choices along the way as well.

My biggest challenge will be to tape the show in my messy home office and manage my two teenagers (who alternate the two refrains of "Mom can I borrow the car" with "Mom can you drive me somewhere" with alarming frequency now that school has ended) while restraining my 6 year old from jumping unexpectedly on camera, as he is prone to do. I'm also half expecting my 9 year old to throw up all night and have to miss one of the last precious days of school as well. It's nothing if not "real" around here...unlike, I suspect the role-model celebrity parents we'll be talking about.

Check my website under "Where's Kathy" for showtime listings.

In the meantime, send me your number one pick for Celebrity Babymaker.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Little Bit of Bribery Goes a Long Way

This afternoon I taped a segment for the Slice TV show "Til Debt Do Us Part". They brought me in to speak with a Dad who was going through a tough time with disciplining his 2 1/2 year old. Oh, it wasn't the disciplining part per se...it was sticking to the punishment and not caving with a guilty present afterwards. Maybe manageable when they're this young and a "My Little Pony" will do the trick, but not so cute when they're 14 and they want a real pony, or 16 and they want something with real horsepower. Dads have a tough time dealing with their daughter's pouts - too bad it doesn't work when Mom does it.

He was also having trouble dealing with his daughter fighting with her 1 year old brother. I probably wasn't much help when I admitted that one of the nicest parts about being out taping this show was that I wasn't at home listening to my 14 year old and 16 year old fight.

Parenting theory is really a great thing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Books, books, and more books

Today I went to Book Expo Canada, this year as an attendee and to hang with my publisher, Key Porter. I wasn't signing books this year, but there were great authors who were. The longest line up? For Emily Giffin, with her new book "Love The One You're With". Her line started two hours before the signing time, and from a distance she looked lovely and had her fans enthralled. I also picked up a new book from Rebecca Eckler, her first foray into youth fiction, called "Rotten Apple" (I'll have my 16 year old review that one for you), and a new one from recent Silver Birch Award Winner Helaine Becker "Science on the Loose"

I went with a friend who belongs to my book swap club (about ten of us, we all read about a book a week), so the next meeting should be fun. It involves wine.

I needed to pick some up for myself - I need even more quiet reading time now that my oldest has just secured her driver's license and the refrain of "Mom, can I borrow the car?" has already reverberated around my head more times than I can count. And I thought toddlers were hard.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Girl Power

I recently linked up with Girlphyte CEO Sue Van Der Hout - who is a total hoot - and have been writing articles for her women-powered and empowering website, www.girlphyte.com. She's going to be taking it to a whole new level this fall with the launch of ibloom.com, and I'm happy to be going along for the ride.

Yesterday I spent an hour at Sheridan College's impressive broadcast studio, with her managing editor, Sherine, and we taped an interview on my thoughts about what makes a woman successful, and how women measure success (I think it's quite different than the way men do). This interview, and a new article I'm writing on that difficult decision about returning to work after having a baby, will be in their fall launch.

All this, after spending the morning doing my monthly "Family Expert" spot on Rogers TV in Kitchener. For the second time I brought my 6 year old son Nicholas on air with me (just call me Dina Lohan...) and this time he actually talked on camera - and grabbed his crotch at the same time. It was delightful. I'm not sure how far down the camera pans, but I'm hoping it didn't catch me batting away his hand as he talked about his favourite family dinner traditions. I suppose for a young boy (and maybe some older ones), reaching down and finding that "It" is still there, is their definition of success.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Double Life

Mostly my schedule is full of all of the things a typical Mom of four finds her time filled with. Exciting, exciting things like track meets, hockey games, soccer practices, violin lessons, (hey even a teenage driving test), blah blah blah. But last week I got to put on my writer hat and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake to review the play "The Stepmother". Awesome. Not just the play, but getting out and being an adult with a close friend. A few cocktails, a matinee and a quiet dinner withOUT our combined 7 children...what could be better. We almost ran away entirely.

We couldn't decide where to go for dinner, and indicated to an older lady that we would just ask a concierge, meaning we'd barge into a fancy hotel and get some free advice. But she said "Oh you brought your own concierge? How nice." As if...but it was nice to dream for a minute (until my daughter called me complaining about her brother hogging the television and insisting on my coming home early to practice parallel parking). Find your dream minutes - that's all they last.

My review of the play, and my day in NOTL will be published in a summer edition of The Good Life magazine, out locally in Mississauga and Oakville, but available online on my website "articles" section as well.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Funny Haha, not Funny Strange

I've just found out that I am the winner of the 2008 Barbara Novak Excellence in Humour Writing Award, given by the Professional Writers Association of Canada, for a piece published by Today's Parent, called Dinner Diaries. This is the second time I've won the award (the first in 2006), so the next time my kids say "You're so NOT funny Mom" I'll just hold up the plaques. That'll show 'em...

(Okay maybe I'm a bit strange too)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sex, Scrubs, and Casseroles

First the sex, of course. Last night I went out with my good friend and sex expert Josey Vogels and heard all about her new CBC Radio Summer Series, "Between You and Me". With her trademark candor and husky laugh, you've got to tune into to hear the sexiest show on CBC. It starts airing Thursday, June 26th at 9:30 a.m., and every Thursday after that, with repeats on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m., or as a podcast on cbc.ca

Josey and I were having a Girls Night Out at the Stillwater Spa in Toronto (thanks to our producers at Birth Days), where we ordered up a "Citrus Twist Scrub". It was more like a horizontal shower and weirdly disturbing. They need a new copywriter for their brochures. And we needed a glass of wine on the rooftop at the Park Hyatt. Kids? What kids?

The casserole? I'm just hoping someone will give me inspiration for yet another family dinner. In fact, I'm thinking of putting out a cookbook myself and calling it "Just Get the F'ng Dinner On The Table". Whadda ya think?

Monday, June 2, 2008

It's All About the Guilt

Ask any Mom whether she feels guilty...and you'll get a resounding "YES!" without even probing into what she feels guilty about. It's about the kids, the work, the house, the body, the husband, the family...it's all there. Part of the reason we're all feeling so guilty is because we're all so busy and feel like we don't get it "all" done. I do believe you can "have it all"...but just not in one day. And yes I'm feeling a little guilty for telling my 6 year old this morning that he should move out if he doesn't like the way I do things around here.

A few months ago I hooked up with my buddy Erica Ehm to film some "Mommy Rants" for her Yummy Mummy Club TV program. Click here to tune in on my latest, which talks about my approach to offloading some work...and some guilt.

Friday, May 30, 2008

No Leverage At All

I recently had an article published which talked about my BlackBerry addiction...and as usual, I had to make a jab at my husband's typical male attribute of not paying avid attention to every exciting thing I have to say. As he says "I have no leverage around here. If I make the slightest mistake, it ends up in a newspaper or magazine or your tv show." I said "That's right, so watch your step Mister."

The truth of the matter is that part of the "Supermom" schtick I present relies on the belief that I have to do everything around here (mostly true) and that he is the average do-nothing kind of husband (sorta true). I like to call it creative license...I'm sure he'd have another word for it (starts with cr and ends with ap). I keep telling him to write his own story and he can say whatever he wants about me. Bearing in mind he's really just giving me more material for the next article. And I do have a new book coming out in the spring so he'd really better watch it.

Funny thing is, the only thing that bothers him more than the bending of the truth is when I don't mention him at all. Men.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Field Trip Fun

With four kids, I've been on many field trips. My youngest (Nic) is 6, and I know the days are numbered where he will actually want me to go with him, let alone sit besides him on the bus. (I'm not allowed to drop my teenagers off at the front door of their high school, let alone wave at them and cry "Make good choices." Go figure.) But the trip is more than it seems on the surface. It's a complex political and social arena.

Yesterday Nic and I ventured out to an outdoor conservation area with his class, and as usual, the best part of the trip for him was the bus ride there and back...particularly if you sit in the very last row so that you can feel every last bump in those stitches you thought were well healed by now.

The second biggest thrill was having lunch out of a bag, with Mom. Interesting observations on the types of lunches Moms provide - there's my buddy with her Tim Horton's sandwich and her son's Lunchable - and there's the "good" Mom (who makes homemade Valentine Cards), with the pre-cut grapes, whole wheat crackers, sliced apples, granola and I think a vegan salad...all preciously sealed in "wasteless" plastic containers. If you think the other parents weren't looking at your lunch, think again, amateur. I like to strike a happy balance - a thermos (wasteless), but filled with KD and ketchup. Some carrots...but bought pre-packaged. Alliances are key, and you don't want to be defending or offending someone you may require for school pick up in the future.

I won't even get into the appropriate field trip wardrobe...but apparently dressing like YOU are the 6 year old is a totally acceptable option.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Blog is Born

Why a blog? Does the world really need another one? We'll see.

Starting today, I'll be posting blogs on some of the "behind the scenes" events which happen around here - from the television shows, the publishers, the media, and of course my main source of "material" (otherwise known as my four children and long-suffering husband).

The "Funny Mummy Files" which have been going to subscribers in newsletter format will now appear here in the blog, with hopefully the same articles to read, promotional events, and freebies I've been able to pass on.

The impetus for the blog? I attended the Canadian Writers Union AGM last week, and was inspired by so many great writers (including Barbara Gowdy, Russell Smith, Trevor Cole - all of them very funny - who knew?) and their advice and insight into this media.

So...we'll see what happens. I have a habit of over-sharing - could be scary.