Monday, October 25, 2010

If you weren't so cute, I'd bake you for dinner

Today I went and got a couple of pounds of stewing beef. Gorgeous beef. I tenderly unpacked them and coated them with some flour. I browned them and then browned some onions and garlic. Deglazed the pan in some nice red wine (resisted the urge to have a glass-I don't drink while I'm on the SAHM clock). Went into that giant white hole of a freezer of mine to pull out some homemade beef stock, thawed that out, added it to my stew. Chopped the veggies, placed the longer cooking ones in. Threw in some herbs, tasted it, seasoned it to perfection. Julia Child herself would be jealous.

Oldest runs in saying "Mommy I know now that I like stew. It smells wonderful Mommy. It smells like hot dogs."

He's lucky he's five!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The results

A very very very delicious meal, mom and kid approved. Even Dearest who tries to avoid bread and sugar at all costs had a bite.

Breakfast tomorrow

Creme Brulee French Toast with peaches. Enough said! Recipe for those who want to enjoy. :)

Crème Brulee French Toast

Cut thick (2") slices of french bread (can be made with gluten-free french bread) and toast it lightly in the broiler before making recipe.   Serves 8.


1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 T. corn syrup
1 large loaf French bread (not baguette-type)
5 eggs
1 1/2 c. half & half
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt (I omit)
1 29oz can peach slices (drained well)
Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over pan (approx 2 T.)
1 pint heavy cream, whipped

In a small saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until smooth.  Pour into a 9x13-inch pan or large glass casserole dish.

Arrange slices of bread in pan over brown sugar mixture;squeezing them slightly to fit.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, and salt until well combined.

Pour evenly over bread, top with drained peach slices and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.  Refrigerate bread/peach mixture covered overnight (or 8 hours).  Remove from refrigerator about one hour prior to baking to bring closer to room temperature.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven, uncovered for 45-50 minutes until puffed and edges are pale golden.  Immediately invert the casserole onto a large platter to serve or leave in the baking dish and serve directly from it.  Serve with whipped cream.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Messes I can live with

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for all their love and support with my last post. Readers might not see the comments here, but I also got a lot of kind messages through Facebook, email and Twitter. Truly, it's meant a lot to me. Today's mood is fairly sunny, with a slight chance of irritability as the weather front of cleaning and organizing can influence the mood.

I'm a pretty tidy person. I like order in my life and as I get older, I find I'm getting more and more like my mother in needing a clean kitchen in the morning and clothes put away as soon as they're out of the dryer.

Unfortunately life with kids is not very conducive to any modicum of cleanliness. Toys everywhere, sticky tables, endless laundry, wet counters, crumbs, so many crumbs, bookcases clumsily put back together, endless laundry. "Time to tidy up" is a consistent phrase coming out of my mouth. I am not someone who endorses mess.

Although this morning, I found myself in a different mode. Mister Ninja has drama class Saturday mornings, so I am left with Baby D and A Dude, often just A Dude as Baby D naps. I came on here to steal a few moments to surf, play and write. A Dude playing with his cars in another room, Baby D napping. This room is carpeted, other than the stairs and a portion of the basement, the only area that is carpeted. A Dude wanders in from his cars and trucks with a box of markers looking for some paper. I give him a few sheets and instruct him to go back to the drawing area on the floor so that any marker spillage is easily wiped up. As he dutifully filed out paper and markers in tow, I stopped him. I told him to stay in the same room, on the carpet...WITH HIS MARKERS. I thought to myself that I was a seasoned pro at getting heinous stains two large dogs put into carpets, what's the worst a little Crayola can do.

It was worth it. Listening to him chatter to himself while colouring. Doling out the papers in a circle around him "One for daddy, one for mommy, one for Nelson" and him asking me to uncap the markers with his little chirpy "Tank youps!" every time I handed one back to him and watching him scribble out the planets, dinosaurs and the big bang theory (my kid is a genius) on paper was worth any marker spillage. All too soon, his chatter and masterpieces were 5 or 10 minutes-the three year old attention span. He wandered off, after refusing to tidy up. I decided to preserve the moment and not get into a Mommy vs A Dude head butting contest and picked up the collection of art pieces scouring the carpet for marker spillage.

Not too bad I think to myself, completely worth a more colourful carpet for those 10 minutes of one on one time, a rare commodity in this house now. Learning about dinosaurs, planets and the big bang from the eyes of a three year old. Those marks on the beige carpet don't need to be washed away, I'll look at them 20 years from now when he's in University or changing the world or space, with tears in my eyes remembering those moments, his creativity, the time when he sat with mum and coloured and marked up the carpet to no end. My anal clean self doesn't need to clean them up, they are there to stay. *thumb twiddle, thumb twiddle, eye twitch*

....On the other hand, thank God he used the washable markers. Those marks don't need to stay there to preserve the moment, that's what blogs are for. Cheers!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My name is Joy and I have PPD

I've been trying to deny it for I guess a month now, thinking that I just haven't found my swing, thinking once I get some sleep I'll be fine, but I don't think I will be. Well, I will be, but I don't know if my mood as of late will be something so easily licked.

It's hard for me to admit this to myself. It's hard for me to admit this to the world. Seems like every time I'm saddled with PPD or depression, people run. In spades.

So what is wrong with me? Essentially I feel like a big emotional ball of goo and unfortunately the emotions aren't the usual happy ones. I feel overwhelmed and tired, sad and lonely, insecure and isolated. However when I'm happy, I'm uber happy. My mood swings match the PMS of my teen years. When something that should be a 1 on the Richter scale happens, it's an 8 for me. I'm cranky, oh so cranky. I've been trying to keep everything under wraps, but it takes a lot of tongue biting. It seems like my filter is removed and so the ability to express annoyance is completely removed, so I just bottle it up. Not exactly the healthiest approach either.

So what to do...not sure. I've been trying to get an appointment with my doctor. You need the patience of Job for that. There's pills, I'm not too fond of that idea, I don't like being numb. Therapy, but again, I don't have the time, three kids, Dearest working forever, baby who needs me, lack of therapists in my area. I don't like relying on anyone, I've had to be independent from a pretty early age and it was pretty much against the code and a sign of weakness if you ask for help growing up, so it's not in my nature. Besides, people have their own lives, their own problems, some of which dwarf my insane hormones and crummy confidence.

Oy! This post is making me tired. I'm trying to see the bright side of things all the time, but there are days, like today where the million things I have to get done, the seemingly million of faults I have, the isolation I feel is getting the better of me and I just want to go hide in bed. Thankfully, Baby D is a tough taskmaster and won't let me get away with that. Hell, I have no time to be depressed. *g* I've got to be happy mom, supportive wife, good friend, party planner, chaffeur, chef, housekeeper and fixer upper lady. But it creeps in on me as much as I try to push it away and I hate it, it interferes way too much in my life.

So to friends and family, if you're trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me, here it is. I'm still going to try my damndest to chippy and happy, but there seems to be a guaranteed few days a week where I'm ready to cry at a moments notice, or resisting biting the head off someone and I'm apologizing in advance. Feel free to avoid.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday woes

Mister Ninja has a birthday coming up. It's a dino party. With dino digs, dino games, a dino pinata, a dino cake, you name it. Of course his father promised all this, his father being a big vision person has left the details to me and I've been snarling at my family all this month to prepare for this dino extravaganza, but that's not what this post is about. My only saving grace is that Dearest has agreed to hire three teenaged girls from our church who love children to help out. Why? You'll see!

My Mister Ninja is a sensitive little boy. He saves his pennies to help the animals affected by oil spills, or to buy toys for children who don't have any. He gives me hugs and makes sure to kiss me every night and when I drop him off at school, he won't turn his back on me, but instead walks backwards into the class waving because he doesn't want me to feel sad. He is very big on making sure other people don't feel sad (except his brother, although he is the first to kiss his brother's boo boos-the ones he didn't inflict). This ties in to his birthday party.

He is our first, he is our learning curve. This is really his first birthday party where he wanted to invite a bunch of friends from school. Last year it was 2 or 3. This year it's a smorgasboard. So he invites about 10. I can deal, we have a lot of room, the kids from school are pretty well behaved, they fall into that school pattern and their teachers have done an excellent job. Then of course he wants to invite his buddies not from school, which are 7. These are all parents we're close with, so I can deal. They don't fall into the school pattern, but I can yell at those kids as if they were my own. Awesome!

Then Mister Ninja comes up to us, "I want to invite X, Y and Z because they're in my class and I don't want them to feel sad or left out." Now maybe he is conning us and pulling our "Awww, look how sweet my boy is!" leg but I think given that this is a consistent streak, it could very well be genuine. On the other hand, he is a Scorpio, so it could be a sham.

So I write his teacher to cross reference the list. There are FOUR more kids, plus their parents should they choose to stay, and why would they? If they're smarter than us, they'll run for the local Starbucks, there's three within 5 minutes of here. And you know, I've been to several parties this summer with at least that many kids, but the word here is summer and with that brings good weather and the great outdoors. Not so practical at the end of October! All I keep thinking is "This is going to be very very good, or very bad." As I curse myself for not planning to have all August babies. That's it! No more sex January til July!

Now I know the veteran parents are having a good belly laugh at my expense. Keep it small, only invite his class, only invite a kid per year. But how can I resist my son's Mother Theresa request? He is truly friends with these kids, though, he's truly friends with everyone, he'd invite the whole school if I let him, plus teachers, the police officer he met a couple days ago and our neighbour and her Bichon Frise that snorts when happy. So how do I nurture this caretaking personality trait without having my house become Grand Central Station? The birthday party is done, invites are taken care of, food will be ordered, basement excavated to accomodate madness factory, but in the future we need to focus all this excess love towards people in manageable doses. On the plus side, his loving personality has blessed him with a lot of friends and will hopefully help us mould him into a socially caring and involved person in the future. I will be focusing on that when I'm tearing my hair out come birthday party day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Say no to Ford

Dear City of Toronto:

This isn't a letter regarding my long standing hatred of a certain automaker, but about our municipal elections. I know you're angry, I'm angry too. I'm a card carrying member of the NDP and I'm angry, that oughta tell you something!

I live in Scarberia, I drive a car, pay taxes...more than you'd think for someone who lives in Scarberia! Go about my life and am not the major political mover and shaker I thought I was shaping up to be pre-kids. So essentially, outside of my city councillor, like many people who live outside the downtown core, I've been ignored for the past 8 years or so by the city. I understand how you are pissed, I am too.

I might believe in a strong social fabric, that doesn't include the insane spending that has happened in our city hall for the past 8 years. I don't agree with letting unions strike only to give them more. I don't agree with cutting or freezing your staff's wages, only to give yourself a raise, even if it is a pittance. I don't mind paying taxes, if there is something to show for it. But with pool closures, strikes, Toronto Community Housing falling apart, increasing pest problems-bedbugs anyone? Ewwwww! Decreasing services, strangling dogvine, TTC in trouble, roads a mess, every freaking east west route I take in Scarberia under some sort of construction or another for some stupid reason. And I have to even admit, I'm feeling a might bit snippy at having to apply for a permit every time I want to do something to my property, or having it against the law to park three cars in my driveway. It's MINE!!!!

Like seriously, the city is messed up. Yes, the current city council can blame amalgamation and the province all it wants, but they've had 8 years to make improvements, and in my view it hasn't gotten much better. So it's easy to see why my knee jerk reaction would be to punish everyone and choose Rob Ford who is the extreme opposite. After all, we've fared so crappily with all this spending, lets claw back a hundred dollars here or there and hope for the best.

One of the most valuable pieces of parenting advice I've ever received was from a friend sharing what she learned from someone much wiser than I. She was pregnant at the time and talking about the parenting she grew up with, and how she was advised that being the polar opposite of her parents would like be just as damaging and that she shouldn't base her parenting on the opposite of what she saw as negative. Now whether she's followed that advice completely or partially, she's an excellent mom and I'd like to think I'm a bit of a better mom because of that shared piece of wisdom. What this has to do with the election is simple, we cannot base our decision on extremes.

Yes we need to weed the garden, and there is a heck of a lot of dog strangling vine in it, but we can't napalm it. I'd love to pay less property taxes and I certainly wouldn't cry over some user fees being reduced, or some bylaws being axed, but I'm not voting for Ford. I can't seriously believe he's an option for people. He's supposed to be representing our city. He's been arrested for a DUI. He gets in fights at home badly enough to warrant the police. He gets in drunken fights at hockey games. He can't get along with people, he has an issue with gays and immigrants...umm HELLO??? TORONTO? Is this someone we want representing our beautiful diverse city?

So who to vote for if not Ford? I don't know, really, I don't. I'm not all that fond of Smitherman, he doesn't seem much different than Ford, but he seems to know how to rein himself in if he wants to. Pantelone is a good option for my bleeding heart ways, except I'm freaking terrified of the status quo being upheld for another term. That and the fact that the race is really between Ford and Smitherman.

I guess the only thing I can ask of you Toronto is in this last week leading up to the election, take a collective breath, have a good kvetch session with your friends about everything-and don't hold back- that has pissed you off about this city for the past 8 years. Get it out of your system. Then sit down, do your homework and vote for the platform that makes you the most comfortable. Just don't, please for the love of Mike, make this decision based on a desire to wring Miller's neck. Instead of anger, do what you think will be best for our city, and pray that by next election time, we'll have a candidate that we can really be excited about.

Puppy Love

I love dogs. I mean LOVE. Before kids I spent a great deal of time talking about dogs, learning about dogs, working with dogs, playing with dogs, picking the equivilant of a dog off my clothes in hair and drool. We were the proud owners of two very fine beasts.


and Shenanigans

These two lovely creatures have gone to Rainbow Bridge, and even now, I still tear up looking at these pictures. A good kick off to a Monday morning at 6:43 am, after being up for 2 hours and having a baby spit up massive quantities of their breakfast on you. Like I used to say to Shenanigans, "good thing you're so cute!"

Anyhow, I've been insanely missing having a dog in these past few weeks. Although the dynamic has changed a little. Shenanigans went to live with my mom in 2006, not too long after Banzai died. He loved kids, but he also loved being the baby and while he would have sooner poked out his eye than ever do anything than smile, he was an anxious beast and needed to be the centre of attention. Something his grandma provided in spades. So we've been without a dog for a looong time.

The good part of it is that it does provide a lot of freedom. We never have to be home in a certain time to walk the dog...that is assuming we're allowed out without the kids. We don't have to make pet sitting arrangements. We are blissfully free of dog hair and my Dyson though a powerhouse is very grateful for it. My car looks great! My two beasts were dirty creatures, especially Shenanigans who could go for a walk and track in half the ravine in his hindquarters. Not to mention the cost. Banzai was a big German Shepherd and Shenanigans was a Newfoundland, 'nuff said. Kibble would have killed us, so we trekked to Alliston every quarter to get 300lbs of raw meat and threw in bones and veggies. Veterinarians LOVED us, generally the bigger the dog, the more the bills go up, vets, groomers, food, toys, gas.

So why am I pining for a dog? They're messy, noisy, expensive, responsibilities....wait a tick, sounds just like my kids! Mind you, try as they might, they cannot hold a candle to tracking in an entire ravine quite like Shenanigans, but he would be smiling down on them for their effort.

I remember how I used to sleep when I had Banzai, which was SOUNDLY. Its easy to drift away knowing you have a 120lb GSD who can hear everything and determine in a split second whether it was something to be worried about. And unlike ADT, he'll eat anything that turns out something to be worried about. I miss the stroking. I was petting a Great Dane this weekend for a while and just being able to find a velvety part of a dog and pet it was a great stress relief. I used to play with Banzai's ears, I miss his ears. I think kids and dogs are great pals and want that experience for my kids, I want them to grow up being dog lovers. To me a great dog just helps to make a house a home, completes the family.

So why don't I have a dog? In a word, Dearest. Don't get him wrong, he loves dogs. He misses having one (he admitted this to me, I almost died of shock..I was too tired to die so put it off for another 80 or so years). He just doesn't want the responsibility and has been very Cold War-esque on this point. However, you can see a bit of his wall crumbling every time he sees a Golden Retriever or Labrador puppy, his weak spot. Anyone want to loan me a puppy for a few hours? And partly me. I know right now I'm not pining for the responsibility, but I'm starting to feel within a year or two I will be setting up a lobby group for a dog, or another baby, with that strategy, I might as well start choosing my breed right now. Heh heh heh.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Car Madness, the end...or at least it better be

On October 5th or 6th, can't quite remember which at this hour, someone smashed the rear end of Big Mama Fuss (my minivan, I've finally chosen a name, a name I was reserving for a Mastiff, but Dearest threatened to revolt and overthrow my tiny despot nation if I ever named a dog that). We have a security camera in the office and I caught the scene in the corner of my eye. Someone smashing BMF at a million miles an hour and then taking off. I ran outside in the rain, in my socks to try and get the plates and checking to see if some creep really did smash my car and take off. By the time I get out there, they're at the end of the street and I'm not that slow, they were just going that fast!

Anyhow, blah, blah, blah rental cars, insurance reports, police reports, seething cursing and crying, we got the final information from the officer handling our case. The car was stolen and they're going to try and lift some prints. I'm not holding my breath since I figure Toronto CSI has more pressing things than a stolen Sienna and a smashed Odyssey.

Last week I was driving a Dodge Caravan. I didn't like this car for many reasons, it was hard to handle, wider than my van, the seats were too high, they didn't adjust to my liking, they weren't power seats, they weren't heated (a lot of my complaints revolve around my tush...strange). My biggest complaint was that there were no power doors. *Le gasp!* To which my friends all rolled their eyes...those who didn't have power doors and thus who haven't been spoiled by not having to haul open a car door with three kids. It's a freaking thing of beauty people!!!

Big Mama Fuss, you are my everything. You are the mom of cars. You know how tired I am, your heated seats take care of my poor beaten lower back. You open your doors at the touch of a button so my kids can scramble safely inside you. Even your tailgate opens. I love it! Your insanely complicated computer challenges me when I turn on the heat, which probably isn't a good thing, but I love the fact that you don't smell like cheap men's cologne, so I'll forgive you. I especially love that I can kill Dearest's crappy music from my steering wheel and he can't do a thing about it! I griped and moaned when I had to give up my little Black Pearl CRV and begrudgingly accepted you into my life, but now I know just how good I have it, and if someone else smashes you, I swear I will hunt them down and in true despotic nature, go postal, like only a mother of 3 under 5 can on their candy behinds! All for your honour!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I have had a week from hell. I've been in tears more times than I can count, felt overwhelmed times eleventy and have said FML at least a couple dozen times.

I intended to have a good week. I had my chores all mapped, getting ready for hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family, further getting the place ready for Mr. Ninja's birthday party at the end of the month. I was even starting to find a groove where I was finally able to interact properly with my guys helping them do activities after school instead of running around like a monkey on speed trying to get dinner ready...AND I almost had my laundry done.

That is, until some creep decided to back into my van at Mach 5 in my driveway and take off after ripping off the rear corner and then some of my 3 month old van. Long story short, I spent the rest of the week dealing with police, security companies, insurance companies, inlaws for babysitting, collision centres and car rental companies. I have been in Toys R Us for carseats about 6 times this week. It's been an insane logistical nightmare. My kids who seemed to be adjusting beautifully to life with three went cookoo bananas and my husband who was stuck using transit got more teary phone calls than one should receive from a wife who is coping sanely. I hate my rental car, it's a lurching piece of crap, I've spent all day today cooking and still have more to do in order to be reasonably ready for tomorrow. The house looks like it's exploded and I desperately need a second refrigerator and am about to take hostages to get it.

I've spent a great deal of time this week hoping the creeps who have made my life hell end up with horrible ailments, that they were suffering everything from whiplash to hemorhoids. I truly wished ill on them and meant it with every fibre of my being, I didn't care. They had inconvenienced me to no end, and even today, I had to keep my irritability well in check as I wanted to pike my family for not pulling their weight in house preparations for Thanksgiving. This was turning out to be the shittiest Thanksgiving ever!

I've continued on this grumpy streak well into tonight, but I started thinking of the events of today. At about 2am this morning, a 15 year old boy was gunned down in an elevator in my old community. My mother, heck, my entire downtown family knows the mother and this boy. He was involved in crazy business and sadly, the danger is huge when you're involved in that sort of thing. Tonight, a 15 year old boy is dead. His mother was at the hospital today deciding what to do with his remains. I took a second to think of the times I've lost a loved one and how empty and crushingly sad I've felt after the shock has worn off and I've cried every last tear. Then I thought about the worst nightmare of losing my children. No matter what hell they put you through, they are your soul and I thought of that mother and what sort of hell she must be living, and suddenly perspective gave me a much needed kick in the head.

I'm a very spiritual person and while I don't believe God is up there with the puppet strings controlling everyone and everything that happens to us, I do believe that those moments where you have a few minutes to think are God's opportunity for you to think about what you should be focusing on.

It's been a long week and I'll be working til the wee hours of the night, only to be stirred by Baby D some time around 2am. But I can hug my babies, they are small and safe and under my care. I can spend my time focused on their every move because I'm not scrambling, trying to put food on the table. I'm alive to bitch and moan about Lurch (my rental car) and I can afford to still have transportation when mine is taken out. I have family, a roof over my head, food in my belly and my loved ones with me. I won't feel that emptyness tonight, though my heart breaks for that family, for that mother. I can't remove that, nothing ever will, but I will keep perspective and will stop grousing about what I don't have, I will be thankful for what I do have, because more than a minivan, a smooth running week, a perfectly clean house or Martha Stewart dinner, what I have is precious.

RIP Sealand. May your family's wounds soon heal.