Monday, April 13, 2009

Follow Me...

As of Monday, April 13th, my new blog posts will appear on The BlackBerry Diaries.

You can read all about the release, launch and (hopefully) sales and reviews of my latest book, "The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures In Modern Motherhood".

PLUS all the usual stuff about trying to keep sane with four kids in a manner which doesn't presuppose the extensive use of duct tape and contributions to a future therapy account.

Come with me to the new world...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Age Is Just a (BIG) Number

It's my birthday tomorrow, and my 17 year-old daughter was reflecting on this the other day as she contemplated whether she could get away with making me something versus dipping into her prom dress account.

She looked up and she said "Wow. Mom. You're old, eh?"

No kidding.

I said "Not really. Look at Grandma"

She said, "No. Yo. Seriously. You're old, eh?"

All right already. This is my oldest child. My youngest is 11 years younger and there are two other in-between.

When we went to her high school orientation four years ago, I turned to my husband and said "Just think - we'll be doing this in another two years, another six years, and another 11 years. We're the youngest parents we're going to be at one of these things. We're going to be old at Nicholas' session."

This same lovely daughter leaned over and said "Oh my God Mom. You'll be dead by then."

So at least we have progress. I have gone from being six feet under, to being just very, very old.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Indoor "Play" Ground

On a rainy day this weekend, I decided to take my two youngest kids (aged six and ten), and a little friend of theirs to an indoor playground. A great big indoor playground with miles of jumping, climbing, sliding and otherwise tumbling about fun.

Next time I decide to do this, someone needs to pop me on the forehead a la the V8 ads.

"Oh right! I forgot I hate indoor playgrounds!"

It was packed. It was hot. It was loud.

I naively took along my laptop, my book, and a magazine. I think I read two articles, and didn't touch the rest. The articles were from a parenting magazine and I'll admit I was looking for help.

$25 in admission, a plate of greasy fries, three slushies and a lost hat later, we were on our way.

I got the "indoor" part of this. I'm still looking for the "play".

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vini Vidi Vaca

We came (after 12 hours of airport, airplane, and bus transfers)

We saw (how fabulous Gravol can truly be)

We vacationed (Yes Nicholas, we have to go to the pool AGAIN!)

March break is officially over in my house, and maybe I'm just a tiny bit glad to get back to the routine.

Don't get me wrong: I loved the lack of routine and the throwing away of rules (particularly those which involved having to eat healthy, swim up bars which opened at 10:00 a.m., and the chocolate fountain as a lunch substitute.)

My kids learned charming phrases like "Speedo Alert!" and "Virgin Pina Colada Please"

But I also love what I do in my real world.

And of course, every trip with my family provides me with pages and pages of material.

I'm thinking of calling my next book "Clean Underwear Never Takes A Holiday, Buddy"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two More Sleeps...

Only two more sleeps until it's officially March break.

I'm being interviewed today by AOL Travel for tips on travelling with kids - by car, plane, train, boat - so I thought I'd go to an expert (in this case my son, 6-year-old Nicholas) and ask him what advice he would give parents.

1) Bring lots of granola bars and pop.

2) New toys from the dollar store.

3) Don't make me sit next to my brother.

All good, sound pieces of advice. Especially the seating plan. Don't overlook the seating plan.

In my house, with four kids, more often than not, a spreadsheet is required in order to track time, distance, mood, and volatility.

But it's all worth it.

It's a "break", remember?


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Even Better Than Mother's Day

Today is International Women's Day.

Make sure you try to find five minutes to celebrate by doing something girly.

Here are my favourites:

Reading a trashy magazine. The "Worst Beach Bodies" issue is out. Seriously.

Eating popcorn and diet coke for dinner. And maybe a KitKat.

Wearing too much make up for a morning brunch.

Visiting Gwyneth Paltrow's patronizing and oozing website, Goop, just to ridicule.

Twittering with my fellow Tweeters.

Skipping that annoying 8:30 Body Pump class. Just this once.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Laugh & Learn

Yesterday I was invited to join the TVO parenting show, "Your Voice", hosted by Cheryl Jackson.

Our topic was "Learning Through Humour" and along with myself, Cheryl had invited in-studio Steve Brinder (substitute teacher AND stand up comedian), Mary Kay Morrison (author, "Using Humor to Maximize Learning"), who came to us via webcam in the U.S.

I was fascinated by the research and findings Mary Kay presented, including the fact that parts of our brains actually do "light up" more when we find something humorous, thus increasing the ability to learn and engage, clearly a key requirement when teaching children. We discussed the appropriate use of humour in the classroom, and shared some personal stories as well.

The show will be aired on TVO on Sunday, March 15th at 6:00 p.m., and will be available on their website from March 13th onwards.

Mary Kay and I connected via email after the show, and she invited me to attend a Humor Conference in Las Vegas. I wish! She also introduced me to an organization called AATH - the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Check it out here

Now, my kids DO NOT find me funny at all (and I'm sure they're not the only ones), but I do try. I often sit down to dinner with our family and lead things off with "Who's got a good joke?"

It helps to cover up the fact that they think my cooking is a joke.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ain't That Tweet?

Bowed down by the pressure of others in the Momosphere, I have now started Tweeting on Twitter.

I was hesitant to start, because frankly my life is boring enough to live through, let alone report on, that I couldn't figure out why anyone would care what I'm doing.

So I've decided to only Twitter when it's exciting. I have done it five times. In about two weeks.


If you're interested in following along, you can find me at

I'd suggest you might want to follow these guys instead however: (Erica Ehm)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hockey Fights & Other Frights

There's a debate going on right now in the world of professional hockey as to whether fighting should be banned.

To state that it's an integral part of the game at present would be a huge understatement. Attend any NHL game and not only is it expected, it's a biggest highlight for most attendees...the shouts of encouragement and the bloodthirsty cries...truly a sight which always leaves me flashing back to the Thunderdome in the movie Mad Max.

Well, Mel Gibson isn't cute anymore, and either is the hockey fighting. Boys are dying from it. And here's a lovely little poem written by my 10 year-old-hockey playing daughter, who attended a Toronto Maple Leafs game last weekend.

Sweaty, fun,
Hitting, slashing, fighting,
Hockey is the best -
Sticking, skating, punching,
Bleed, hurt,

Just about sums it up. Guess all those words from the coaching staff about it all being for fun didn't sink in. Especially not now in their play-offs. Do you need play-offs to see who had the most fun?

Maybe I can interest her in something a little less violent next year - like kick-boxing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just Shut Up and Eat

Recently a colleague asked me to provide some tips on how to keep children entertained when eating out for an article she was writing. Here's what I said and hopefully it will help those of you endeavouring out:

1) Visit the dollar store first for new packs of stickers, crayons, colouring books, plastic blocks. New is always exciting.

2) Challenge the kids to draw a picture of what they ordered for dinner and see how it matches.

3) Before you go out, think up trivia questions you can ask each child, in turn. Make each age/subject appropriate. Keeping the conversation going avoids boredom, which leads to fighting and fidgeting.

4) Older children could bring books to read before the meal arrives. Try to avoid distracting and excitable electronic game systems.

5) Assign the seating. Keep warring siblings apart and changing seats is now allowed!

6) Above all, don't linger. Order immediately and have the coffee at home.

Of course, what I didn't mention is to ask the kids how wide the smile on Mom's face is. I didn't have to cook, there's wine available, and if the kids don't like the meal they ordered, they can't blame my crappy cooking.

It's all good.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I finally got down to see the revamped Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto.

It was a very grown up day with a friend, and while she is somewhat of an art expert, I am not, and I spent some of my time trying to find busts who looked like Dan Akroyd. We all make our own fun.

When I go to grown up places like this, I often visit them with a "Mom's Eye" to see if I think my kids would enjoy/be well behaved in the same place. (The list is fairly short so always trying to expand).

The Thomson Collection at the AGO is impressive, and the most spectacular in my mind was the massive Rubens painting, "The Massacre Of The Innocents". Not a bright and sunny kind of guy, this Rubens.

You might know that this painting depicts King Herod carrying out the execution of all baby boys upon the news of the birth of Jesus.

The picture is morbid and fascinating at the same time. As was the Mom who was in the room at the same time as us, trying to explain the painter's use of colour and shading (particularly evident with the blue babies), to her FOUR YEAR OLD.

Honestly - my daughter has nightmares about Jim Carrey. This little girl will be totally scarred for life. I assume Mom thought it was worth it so that night at a dinner party she could say to her young progeny, "Honey tell our guests about the Rubens you saw today."

We joked that hopefully she could find a print in the shop she could hang over the kid's bed, or at least a jaunty nightlight with a slaughtered baby glowing blue.

I did love another Mom I observed who was merrily allowing her kids to run around, point at paintings and yell "why would you put cows on a boat?" and then racing through to the next room upon spotting a naked female form. They loved it.

And they won't wake up yelling "there are dead babies in my bed!"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Could Be Worse...

Lately there's been tons of media around two big motherhood stories.

Unless you live under a rock you know the first.

The 33 year-old mother of six who thought the term "Eight is Enough" was a guideline for childbirth numbers.

In Canada, we've been caught up with the 60 year-old woman from Calgary who just had twins.

Makes me think.

I'm 45. I have four kids. And I often consider myself:

a) to be old
b) to have too many children.

These women blow me out of the water - one is young, but has enough kids to start her own pre-school, and one is geriatric (no, she is - when I had my fourth at age 39, I was called a "geriatric maternity patient", in Canada) but at least she can hold her entire brood in two arms.

All of this makes my complaining a little silly.

They win.

And isn't that what parenting is all about these days? Having the hardest time or the busiest schedule or the best/worst behaved kids?

I hear Jon & Kate are thinking of adopting another 6 just to keep up. Not to mention the frequent flier miles Angelina's looking at racking up.

And on the positive side, I just became a young Mom with a small family.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Valium Anyone?

I can honestly say I've never yelled at a stranger. Never. No; I save my angriest comments and nastiest behaviour for those I love. My kids, mostly. (My husband knows when to keep his head down.)

But yesterday I was at the gym, stretching after a weight class, and like most of the class, trying to do a self-congratulatory pat on the back for working out, while trying to ease our muscles back into shape to face the rest of the day.

As per usual, a few of the ladies were chatting during this longed for cool-down, when a woman at the front of the class whipped around and said in a Linda Blair scary kind of way "Excuse me but this is MY class too. STOP talking!"


It's not the first time I've seen this happen. Someone goes verbally postal at the slightest provocation. As a colleague of mine who suffers from this says, "I'm just a bad mood waiting to happen."

As she stormed out of the class at the end (with all of us jumping out of her way as she slammed her weights back on the shelf) she said "I guess I'm just going to be known as the b*tch in the class now."

Um sweetie I think, given this display, you're probably known as the b*tch in a few other places as well.

So, just a warning, you never know what someone else is dealing with when they lose it this way. I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume something actually bad had happened to her earlier that day.

If not, save it for the kids like I do, okay? Chances are, they've actually done something to deserve it. You just don't know about it yet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Suppressing the Smug

This weekend I went to see a Toronto Symphony Orchestra Young People's concert with my nine-year-old daughter and a friend and her daughter. My daughter has been before, and in the fine tradition of her father before her, always manages to sneak in a nap during the show.

But that's okay.

She's quiet when she sleeps.

Unlike the two young boys who were sitting behind us. Their parents, extremely well dressed for a chilly Saturday afternoon, spent ten agonizing minutes before the concert started, telling your their young prodigies what a terrific experience this was going to be, how exciting it was to be there, what the different musical instruments were, etc, etc.

There can be such a thing as too much build up.

These six and eight year olds were expecting a huge musical extravaganza, beyond their wildest imaginations. What they got was a beautiful selection of bright and lively music, full of percussion solos (by the fabulous Evelyn Glennie).

Somehow, not quite enough for them. After the first five minutes, they were both wailing (during those nice quiet pauses) "Mommy take me home!"

Over and over.

While I did manage to stop from throwing one of those over the shoulder "can't-you-control-those-rats" looks, I did not manage to suppress the smugness I felt in looking down at my own peaceful daughter, who five minutes into the show was still awake and enjoying the energetic conductor.

Wish I could control that aspect of my personality, as certainly I've had many, many "moments" with my own four that have caused others great feelings of superiority.

Perhaps I'll just put it down to evening out the parenting karma of those moments, and enjoy it for what it was.

The concert was great - you should go -without too much build up - next one is on April 4th, 1:30 or 3:30. Visit for ticket information.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cancer Sucks

At least that's what the button I picked up off my dinner table said. And it does.

Last night I attended a Gilda's Club fundraiser, held at Hugh's Room in Toronto. The event was called "Stand Up For Your Sisters" and it featured the very funny Elvira Kurt (who was a guest on a radio show pilot I recently did and clearly we should have used her more - hysterical).

She introduced the sell-out crowd to a bunch of brave, new, and humourous female comediennes (most of whom still hang on to their day jobs), and they did a fantastic job of getting us all to laugh at ourselves, and of course, at men. There were probably about 10 brave men in attendance. Well done guys.

If you'd like to know more about Gilda's Club and the terrific work they do with cancer patients, check out the Toronto Clubhouse at, or visit their main site at for a clubhouse near you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Totally Unbalanced

Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter from the Edmonton Journal, for a 3 part series she's writing on Motherhood and Careers.

We covered everything from how to know when it's the best time career wise to take the plunge (if I had the answer to that...), as well as how to plan for a maternity leave, and how to transition back into the workforce.

I'll admit it made me think about issues I faced through four maternity leaves, that I hadn't given much thought to lately. My first maternity leave was almost 18 years ago - I vaguely recall worrying about my shoulder-padded suits not fitting me after my first trimester - and my last leave was about six years ago, when I made the decision to drop the briefcase and turn my maternity leave into my eternity leave.

The worst thing about the first pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave from work is the total unknown - about how you'll react to having a new, bigger priority, and the juggling that goes with it. And, I have to say, the best thing about the first pregnancy and mat leave is the same thing - the total unknown. It's an adventure at the best of times, and a soul sucking experience at the worst.

We talked about the elusive balance, which for me is always more about setting goals and managing trade-offs.

Like deciding to skip a morning of writing and heading out for a well-needed pedicure.

I'll post a link to the articles when they run, but only if I was able to sound sensible about the whole thing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Dream House

Recently I wrote a blog for Health & Harmony talking about what my dream house would look like...versus the one my six-year-old son just "built" for his pet Webkinz.

You can read all about it here:

Tell me I'm not alone in this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coffee, My Savior

Yesterday morning I got up at 4:45 to head down to the CityTV Breakfast Television studio (the threat of a snowstorm and the promise of a tanker full of coffee beforehand was my motivation).

I spoke with the lovely Dina Pugliese about my proposed 2009 Parenting Solutions.

Maybe I didn't get enough coffee, as I didn't speak quickly enough to get all of them out. Here they are in their entirety:

- Recognize that parenting theories are not "one-size-fits-all". While it's fine to read all of the books and do the research, your baby is your baby. Go with your instincts.
- Remember that Mom & Dad are people too! Newborns can take over your whole world if you let them, and its important to find adult time, and alone time. It's healthy for all of you.
- Accept that advice is just that...advice. Most people dispensing advice are doing it to make you, or themselves, feel better. Take what you need and get rid of the rest - without feeling judged.
- Just because you are a Mom....doesn't mean you have to look like one all the time. You know what I mean.

- Realize "Toddler Time" is not the same as "Real Time". Unless you have to hit a precise schedule, allow time for leaf examining, putting the boots on "just so", and hunching over puddles.
- Know that "Perfect" is just a concept. The child you saw in the store acting perfectly, was. For that minute. Yours can be perfect for a moment as well. Indulge when it happens.
- They're adorable and they know it. Toddlers will get away with almost anything. Sometimes we have to let them.
School Age:
- People who say their kids never fight with each other are lying. When yours fight, just lay down the ground rules. Try not to referee. They're learning negotiation skills!
- Bedtime is bedtime. If you haven't established rules for sleeping already, its crucial when they hit the school age. Don't give in to "one more hour". It's not worth it
- If you don't have the time or the money to sign your child up for that team or this lesson, don't do it. The stress and pressure won't outweigh the benefits. Introduce them to "hide and seek" as an extracurricular activity.

- Accept that the teenage brain is different. And annoying, belligerent, arrogant, and mostly, always right. Spend a few minutes and reminisce about the times when you knew everything as well.
- Let them sleep in when they can. It's a stress reliever for them, and for you. What are they missing...fighting with their siblings?
- Acknowledge that you will lose your temper and swear at them. Words you've only heard on cable will come out of your mouth. Let it go. Apologize and move on. There are worse things you can do.
- Get in their face more. At this age, it's more important than ever to connect and communicate. Best way is over a family dinner, at least twice a week. Adjust your "regular" meal time around lessons etc if you have to. It's worth it.

My overall parenting resolution would be to not feel guilty about not wanting to be "Mom" or "Dad" all the time. We need to have fun, friends, and success too. Remember that work and career are important to everyone...even parents. Take pride in your accomplishments both inside and outside of the home and your kids will ultimately benefit.

Just don't call me if you see me on the street breaking any of these. I promise to uphold the swearing one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Motherhood Hurts - When I Laugh

On Friday night I was invited to attend the Opening Night of Diane Flacks' one-woman show, Bear With Me, based on her book of the same name.

The play is running at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street, Toronto) until January if you have the time to go between now and then, you should.

Diane is hysterical - I've only met her once before and clearly it was not enough time to appreciate her talent for creative dance (while shaking a fake pregnant belly), stuffing herself into a trunk (while miming morning sickness) and the ability to mimic everyone in her life that she met during her pregnancy and labour/delivery period.

Her impression of the mellow voiced yoga instructor going through her own personal crisis was just ridiculously funny.

Armed only with a Pilates ball, her childbirth scene was bang on.

"What's the one question every mother asks the minute her baby comes out into the world?"

(Wait for it.)

"Did I poo?"

If you can't get to the show, pick up her book.

If you need something more serious, I'll be on City TV's Breakfast Television (Toronto) tomorrow morning to talk about "Parenting Resolutions".

Laughing more should be one for everyone.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Make sure you get my good side...

Forget about what they say about why people go into radio - I just met some lovely people who should be seen as well as heard.

Earlier this week I dropped in to 97.3 EZRock in Toronto to talk about Resolution Solutions. I met Kim Stockwood, Colleen Rusholme, and Humble Howard early on a snowy day, and they were just as fun and funny in person as you'd think. All of them bright, bubbly and good-looking first thing in the morning.

Humble and I commiserated about the joys of teenage girls, Kim and I compared notes on the younger set, and Colleen and I did a cheer for her 3 month anniversary of not smoking. Awesome group.

Kim offered me her chair without knowing that I was disguising the fact I was hobbling in to see them on a broken toe. (How sweet is she? Her song "You Jerk" is still one of my all time favourites.) I'll admit it was tough to shake off the codeine effects when I got up at 5:00 that morning, but hopefully they didn't notice.

They normally have some really cool guests on (must have been a slow day when they booked me) so listen in when you can.

I limped back to my snow laden car and drove out to Mississauga to visit my friends at Rogers Daytime Television where we also talked about sticking to our resolutions...and fortunately they had a new set which included low chairs...and the ability to tuck my sorry foot under their new coffee table.

Okay, the toe. It's not "childbirth" painful, but it's a pain, nonetheless. The hardest part for me has been having to buy slippers to mitigate the damage of accidental foot stomps from my six-year-old. I HATE slippers - they make women frumpy and men look like wimps. I'm sort of a wimpy frump with mine on.

Next Tuesday morning I'll be on Breakfast Television talking about some Parenting Resolutions for 2009...hopefully by then I'll be able to wear camera-worthy footwear to show off while perched on their teetering chairs against their glass tabletop.

The only side-benefit? The doctor has ordered me NOT to work out for two weeks. Just when the gym is full of folks determined to stick to their resolutions. Lucky them.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolve This

The good news? The holidays are over - and so is the eating, the drinking, the late hours, the over-spending, etc.

The bad news? The holidays are over - and so is the eating, the drinking, the late hours, the spending, etc.

The two weeks over Christmas & New Year's can seem like a pause in our real lives - schedules are thrown out the window, we socialize with people we don't see for months at a time (including our families) - and if you're like me, you allow yourself to eat and drink with abandon.

A trainer at my gym once said "Don't worry about what you eat and drink between Christmas & New Year. Worry about what you eat and drink between New Year and Christmas."


She's right.

And now is the time to worry. Because if I don't, the top button on my jeans certainly will.

At least it's still cold enough to dress in bulky clothes.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolutionary Thinking

Happy 2009!

I'll be kicking my year off with two shows tomorrow - starting with Canada AM and an early start (I'll be on at about 7:40). I'll be talking about trying to get the entire family organized in the New Year - of course with the end goal of trying to split the workload around here with the four kids. And minimize the fighting. And have a clean house once in a while. And get to the gym.

Hey, it's the New Year - I have to at least try.

Then I'll be driving down to the CityTV studios to talk about 3 "Resolution Solutions" I've been working on with the Proctor & Gamble folks. If you want a preview, go to my website and click on the Tide logo. The show will be live at 12:30 p.m., and its a phone-in, so if you can, please do.

Then I'm letting my family organize themselves, and the resolutions land where they may as I head out for a girls' weekend skiing. There may be more apres than ski, but it'll be a good ending to this holiday season before I'm back in the routine on Monday.

(Actually the real holiday starts when the school bus rolls by - with my kids on it. Don't tell me you weren't thinking the same thing.)

Happy New Year.