How’s the family?

Warmth in the Cold, by Katie M. Berggren, says it all for me and my three kid lets up here in the frozen north (tomorrow morning it'll be -30°C again!). Her paintings are all about motherhood, and all are available as prints—her website is and this piece is here:

Warmth in the Cold, by Katie M. Berggren, says it all for me and my three kidlets up here in the frozen north (tomorrow morning it’ll be -30°C again!). Her paintings are all about motherhood, and all are available as prints—her website is and this piece is here:

How’s the family?

Enough about me. Tessa is carrying four university courses from Queens University while living here at home. She is down to just 13 hours a week at the health-food-vitamin-supplement-organic-produce store Healthy Planet because the school workload is 46 hours per week, and she puts in more than that because of her need to succeed and her drive for perfection (very tough in an arts program). She has been saving every spare dime for the next trip to Russia. The official invitation has arrived, she has purchased her tickets, and she leaves in seven days. She had wanted to be home for my next surgery and recovery, which we all thought was going to be in January, but is now looking like May. I will be very lonely for her company, but true love cannot be denied (it can and has been delayed a lot already!) The miracle of distance education—she’ll be sitting exams for Queens University with a proctor somewhere in Kostroma in mid-May.

Graydon has started his second semester of a jewellery design course, specifically a casting course. He has a real design sense, and has mastered markers and airbrush and canvas and skateboards, so carving, modelling and casting is an excellent way to move into three-dimensional design. The fact he can wear his work is a major plus.

Luka continues in gymnastics, laying the foundation for a career in parkour. His instructor last week was a circus arts dude who makes his living at it, so that is inspiration. On the flip side, Luka survived his first week of exams in high school, and today he got the results and his first term marks. 86, 83 80 and 76, for an average of 81.25!!! This from a guy who for years despaired that he was “the stupidest one in the class.” Makes me wish that I had given in years sooner to medicating his diagnosed ADHD (Inattentive). It would have spared him years of feeling stupid. A case of mother is trying her best, not mother knows best.

How are the pets?

Clover is excellent. Princess and Dixie are excellent. Benny has back off running outside because of snow taller than he is and morning temps of -15 to -27. We all feel better when he stays in the house anyway. Angel, our 16-year-old Birman kitty, has had a visit to the vet and has early stage kidney failure. The vet says she’ll likely be manageable with a low-protein diet for six months or so, then she’ll show symptoms and go downhill. That’s very sad, and makes us all let her sit on us or our computers any time she wants, feed her butter off a spoon, get her fresh water ninety times a day. But she is in no pain and is still limber enough to leap onto the kitchen counter from the floor (in search of butter and fresher water). So we’ll buy her fancy food and pet her tons.

How is the car?

Wouldn’t turn over for 20 minutes after exercise class and an appointment at Princess Margaret. Graydon and his friend looked under the hood and found that my battery was missing all the caps that cover the openings to the fluid inside—battery acid or electrolyte or whatever that stuff is. I took the car to Canadian Tire. Dude came out in the parking lot, looked and said no way would they ever have removed those caps during my last oil change, and he’d never seen anything like that and they couldn’t fix it, but maybe I’d like to go back to the dealer and see if they could help.

Weird coincidence, I received a notice about a factory recall for my model and year of car for an airbag issue, so I got the factory recall and new battery, killing two trips to Mississauga with one drive.

How is the dishwasher?

Unusable. It’s as if someone pulled it out (it’s a built-in) and shoved it back in crooked, because the door wants to close half an inch to the left of where it is supposed to. It will close under great protest, so with the basement flood of January, I am NOT going to run the dishwasher and see what happens. It came with the house when we moved in back in 1992, and has worked for 23 years without even a service call, so it’s earned its retirement. We will now use it to hold the overflow of pasta pots and sauté pans that I’ve been stacking on the back burners of the stove for years.

Washing dishes by hand is not the best (read: is really bad) for my lymphedema, because it puts my hand in a forced down position (gravity pulls the fluid farther down my arm and fingers) and in hot water (it’s recommended to use water no hotter than 90°F or 32°C—that is blasphemy for washing dishes in my house, where the more scalding the water the cleaner the dishes). I’ve told the kids they’ll all be sharing the new joys of handwashing dishes, or they can do the arm and trunk massage on me to get rid of the extra pressure I’ll have if I do all the washing. We’ll see how that goes. Massaging mum’s arm, hand and fingers doesn’t sound so bad, but trunk??? That should flip them right out. I hope.


Between sixth and seventh chemos

Weeks Image to Image.

Nothing much to report. First week, lots of pain (got drugs), nails getting yuckier—thank God the seasons that bare toes are de rigueur are not right now, because mine would freak you out—shedding skin, nails warping up and looking like they’ll be leaving their comfy beds soon. I don’t now what to do except ask the onc next visit. Fingernails I am keeping polished with nail hardener and colour, hoping that they don’t turn red and pop off! I’m still getting nausea, so taking those meds, which happen to be old-school anti-psychotics, I was hoping for some fine inner peace from those, in addition to the anti-nausea properties.

Lots of sleep.

I took Luka and two of his friends, plus Graydon, bowling on Friday after school. The three guys played fun games, good-natured competition, or really, the competition must have been within themselves, because I couldn’t see any.

Three months away from work, and as I sat there, with the country crooners twanging the length of the place, I felt like I was playing hooky. Friday afternoon, 3:30, sitting between tables of dudes drinking back pitchers of beer, clapping and whoop-whooping it up with every good throw, it defs had that feeling of making up a story to skip the office.

And I don’t have to.

Falling hair is making me gag, or, haircut number three courtesy of Graydon

My thanks to Tessa, ace photographer and today, my guest blogger. Which means I copied this from her private blog.

My mum’s hair started falling out (merci beaucoup chemo) so she decided to just say “f*** it” and shave it off. My middle brother is decent at cutting hair so my mum got him to make good on his offer to shave her head when she decided it was time. When he finished one side I realized that my mom had the opportunity to get a mohawk. I thought it would look sick, and since her hair on top down the back wasn’t thinning too much there wasn’t much reason to get rid of it. So now my mom has a mohawk and she likes it, she’s smiley, and it looks f***ing awesome. 

     The last picture is with her port she got put in yesterday. She was not a happy camper. I wouldn’t be either if I had a foreign object inserted into my chest fat and my jugular. Yes, the interventional radiologist who did the surgery actually said “go for the jugular, ya know?” which was not super comforting for my mom who was lying on a stretcher in a cold ass hallway where people were milling about doing office printing and apparently walking by and checking out my legs. My mom may have just been flattering me, but I’ll take it. Anywho, that’s where a port goes.


Around lunch, Tessa completed her once-a-day assessment on the state of my hair loss. She said it was actually looking bad, and offered to take a photo so I could decide for myself. This is the shot, bald spots painfully obvious, that launched the third haircut in as many weeks.


Graydon goes in for the cut.


Who knew this Christmas present would be pressed into service on the gift giver?


Weekend project for the whole family!

While checking out the bloggers who took part in yesterday’s Things I Love Thursdays, I came across Kaycee, who is a sewer and a recycler (images of beautiful quilts come to my mind). Her blog is called In the Moment: On life, motherhood, food and balance.

This week she referred back to making her own pair of skinny jeans from an already-owned pair of non-skinny jeans (she even did a tutorial!) And she showed some projects she’s been looking into for inspiration.

Well, I found mine! Before tying up the charity bags of clothing this weekend, we’ll be going through them on the lookout for hunks of material to make the bags you see here. I think we’ll improvise on the sizes—I see Graydon with a huge one in camouflage material, a medium one for Luka in Star Wars (old pillow cases) and something girly for Tessa. Me? I’ll wait for inspiration. The instructions to these are so easy it’ll be each kid for him- or herself, and no sewing required! For full instructions, and an incredible site, check out


Check back on Monday for the results (hahahahahaha) and the first day of our March Break! Have a great weekend!

What CAN’T you make from LEGO?!?

these are custom-made by Ochre Jelly. I found them on

Futurama LEGO figures?? These are custom-made by Ochre Jelly; find them here.

What parent hasn’t cursed a blue streak when a bare heel met with a little cube of LEGO on a quiet Sunday morning? I’d thought I’d seen or heard it all: Star Wars surface vehicles, giant towers, Sponge Bob and Patrick, Spider-Man and the Joker, ranches with horses, villas with flowers and vines. Even these totally amazing must-have Futurama figures, custom-made by Ochre Jelly and seen on But no. There is something new in the LEGO domain.

Each spring, around the end of April, I can never understand why it is too late to sign Luka into soccer. “Every other Mom and Dad signed up in January, like you’re supposed to,” whines some kid on the other end of the phone. So, last year I asked my dear neighbour Ycart if she saw those fliers I never seem to see, could she save me one. She saw them, she gave me one.





“Hey, Luka, guess what? I signed you up for soccer!”


“Soccer, you know, for little guys. So you can learn how to play.”

“Mum, don’t you know about soccer.”

“What don’t I know?”

“That a guy’s parts can get hurt.”

“Oh, I see.”

“I’m going to need a cup.

“Ah, Luka, I don’t know if they make a cup for soccer.”

“That’s OK!” he said, brightly. “I’ll make it out of LEGO. I’m thinking about it right now, and I think I have a plan!”

My son, the inventor, the innovator, the little guy dropping LEGO, piece by piece, all over the field…

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: do you have LEGO in your house? Are you a closet LEGO-maniac? Did you have LEGO as a kid? What did you like to make? What do your kids like to make? What is THE MOST EXPENSIVE LEGO set you’ve ever bought? Can you estimate what you have spent on LEGO purchases through the years (please try to do this even if it scares you. I’m dying to compare my spending to yours!).



No unlucky Friday the 13th black cats for Graydon, only Happy Welcome Money and Good Fortune Cat

No unlucky Friday the 13th black cats for Graydon, only Happy Welcome Money and Good Fortune Cat

We were walking very carefully around our house on Friday the 13th this month. It’s not that we all suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia, but I’ve had some weird things happen on past Friday the 13s, so I take no chances.

Luka, 8, calls it Freaky Friday, and to be true to the Jamie Lee Curtis / Lindsay Lohan / Mark Harmon movie remake, he thought we had to have fortune cookies, just to see if we’d do any body-personality switches like in the movie. Graydon was looking to get down to Chinatown for some shopping, specifically for a gold, swinging arm lucky money cat.

With a PA day off school, it all worked out just fine for a mum and sons visit to Chinatown—they came down on their own, met me at work, and we headed off to a little restaurant for crispy noodle Cantonese chow mein, lemon chicken and crispy bananas for dessert, along with the fortune cookies. Sorry to disappoint, but there were no body-personality changes.

After a slow chopstick dinner, we went through many little shops looking at coral and jade beads, pearls, Hello Kitty beaded purses, Buddhas with big round bellies, tons of cell phone charms, slippers, back-scratchers, you name it. We bought the good fortune gold cat, some charms, a satin lipstick holder with mirror (50¢). We topped the night off with a coffee for me, and hot chocolates for my dates.

When we got in the car we all rubbed the Buddha’s belly for luck and made it home in one piece. Good-bye and good riddance to another Friday the 13th. Now there’s only two more this year—one in March and one in November!

QUESTION FOR YOU: did you get through Friday the 13th unscathed?

Works for Me Wednesday: eat that snow!!

Time for Shannon’s weekly blog carnival—and I have a no-cost, frugal find that’ll keep kids busy outdoors for ages. Sounds interesting? Read on!

I was packing Luka’s lunch the other day and he said wistfully, “I wish you could give me some simmammom.” After a short back-and-forth, I discovered he meant cinnamon, which I had never given him in his lunch before. Or maybe I had. “How would you like the cinnamon?” I asked. “Oh, just in a bag.” OK, I had never given him cinnamon in a bag for lunch.

Further investigation revealed a new trick during recess—a Grade 4 girl (my son, shooting for the stars) brought a bag of cinnamon in and so cinnamon yum-yums were born. To make a cinnamon yum-yum, you wad up some clean snow, sprinkle it with cinnamon and eat it. The girl only brought it in once, and Luka said they loved it so much, he’d love to bring some in again for the Grade 3s. I did him one better and mixed him some cinnamon sugar. That was such a hit, the next day I let my imagination run wild and mixed up some strawberry Fruitopia concentrate, cosmopolitan syrup and water, and put it in a little spray bottle. It was such a hit, he’s taken it again, and tomorrow it’ll be lime cordial, and the day after that, grape juice concentrate.

Cheap, cheerful, and keeps them outdoors and busy. It Works for Me!

Be sure to drop by Shannon’s blog for more tips and tricks that fall under the heading It Works for Me!


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The giveaway consists of a full-size Pure Unscented Body Wash, Pure Unscented Body Lotion and the Organic Olive Oil Pure Unscented Soap. All you need to do is answer one of my questions in this post (or more, if you’d like), so click and enter my contest!