Guest blogger: Tessa

mom hair
tumblr_bald shot
Seriously, how does my mom rock being bald like this? I think that before she started chemo we were just scared. We didn’t know how she would be and of course we assumed the worst because with cancer everything seems to be the worst. So we imagined how bad it could get, how different she would look, how we would totally lose the mom we were used to… But now that she’s almost finished chemo she’s still mom. Look at her, she’s gorgeous. Yes, she was sleepy but not every day. She felt sick, her hands and feet were awful and red burning and uncomfortable, and it was bad, but not the worst. I guess most things in life are luck-of-the-draw. We got unlucky with cancer but we could have had it way worse, and a lot of people do. I know that a big part of why cancer seems so much less scary now is because of how strong my mom is. Everyone says it but I don’t think a lot of people understand that strong isn’t having something bad happen and saying “it’ll all be good”. It’s waking up at three in the morning when your daughter sleepwalks to invite her to sleep in your bed in case she ends up sleeping through her alarm the next day. It’s making dinner, it’s telling your kids that you will really be okay and live til you’re eighty, and it’s taking off your hat in the movie theatre when you have no hair, because it doesn’t matter.
If I had any other mother I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, but her strength is contagious. It’s there every day, just look at her.

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?


Second chemo

Second chemo, and it was 8:30 to 5:00 at the hospital. I am pretty tired, so Tessa has consented to be my guest blogger for this entry. I’m actually excerpting from one of the two blogs she writes, and she writes on her phone, real time, which is so cool, complete with pics that she took at St. Mike’s. She’s a talent.





My mum and I are currently hanging out with my while she gets chemo. These chairs are criminally uncomfortable and we have been here since 9am but we magically manage to make it fun (as fun as chemo can be). I have been her personal photographer today which is someone that most patients don’t come in with! 
     There’s a basket of knitted hats here that are free to patients so she tried them on again to see if she could handle any. She’s not a hat person, you see. She tried them and I took photos so she could see what they looked like and long story short we both nearly had accidents from laughing so hard. I don’t know how much laughter this room sees but we made up for some of the sad. Anyways, back to the hats.  After trying on the “1920s bathing beauty cap” (named by moi) and one with a brim (too much of a cancer hat) we decided on a floppy number. Not great since its a hat and she doesn’t like hats, but it looks almost cool enough for her so we can settle for now. 
     Pics of the hat extravaganza to follow if my mom allows.


Basically, the day is a lot of hanging out punctuated by poison. Chemo, known to do horrendous things to your body. Shitty, but literally a life saver. I can hardly stand it being pumped into my mom but I love it more than hate it. It’s doing bad things to do great things, and that’s a fair fucking price to pay.

“Mom, how would you describe that orangey, red hat?”

“Slouchy, good for at home, good for at bedtime, but personality wise, maybe not appropriate for me on the street.”


Guest blogger: hello contest winner!

could you guess they have a photography studio

Lauren and her husband: could you guess they operate a photography studio?

Hello to Lauren, winner of the Constant Body Organic Skincare products! I always ask winners if they’d like to say hello in the blog, and Lauren said yes. Here’s her hello from Calgary.

I found your blog through an article featured on, though I can’t remember which one! I’m currently subscribed to a few other blogs written by friends near and far. I used to have my own personal blog but it’s been a few years since I last updated it! Instead I have found myself in the world of wedding and portrait photography, and am loving every second of it! My husband and I live in Calgary and have been married almost three years. While no children are in our immediate future, I look forward to someday being a stay-at-home mom and using the flexibility of my photography business to allow me to do so.

You’re welcome to check out our website at, and feel free to contact me or pass on my name to someone you know.

I’ve been to her website, and their work is excellent. They do lifestyle and portrait work in and around the Calgary area, and are available for local and destination weddings. Check out the link!

A sign of the times (from the mouths of babes)

Back in a former life we ate out, a lot. I dined out professionally, and when I wasn’t paid to eat out, I happily paid my way myself. When Tessa and Graydon were in their formative years, they ate in restaurants—with menus, waiters, bread plates, dessert forks and Shirley Temples—a lot. Then things changed, and I got smarter about money, among other things, and the rampant dining out screeched to a halt. The number of times the kids and I dine out in a real restaurant—not including the self-serve Wendy’s, MacDonald’s, Burger King fast food type—is directly proportional to the number of times we have a birthday or someone treats us.

Luka’s lack of exposure to proper restaurants hit home Saturday night when I took both boys out for NO GOOD REASON, just because we hadn’t been out in a long time, and truth be told, I was feeling a little sorry for myself and I was so sick of cooking and cleaning that the expense seemed justifiable.

We are sitting happily at our table in a restaurant that does not have blaring music or have kids jump on their chairs for birthday songs, when the waiter brought our drinks. Luka ordered a Sprite, and after a couple of minutes, Luka began to look around.

“Where did he go?” he asked.
“Who?” I asked.
“My servant,” he said.
“Your what?”
“My servant. He was right here, and now he’s gone. I’d like some lemon slices for my drink.”
I smiled, just a little.
“Honey, that is our waiter.”
“No, when he came over he said, ‘Hello, my name is Steven, and I’ll be your servant tonight.’ ”
“He said, I’ll be your server tonight, not servant”
Luka frowned. “That’s a weird thing to call yourself. Like you serve things.” He brightened up. “Hey, a server. That’s cool. But a servant is cooler.”


Want to win 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!

“I just flew in from Philly, and man, my arms are tired…”

Always at the ready to find ways to help Luka succeed at the school game, I have memorized all the hint sheets for bringing writing and reading and math into his everyday life: have him take down the grocery list, read out food labels, add, subract and multiply to see which price is the best deal. Last night he almost cried while telling me how hard he worked at math last year to get an A when all he got was a B. I have to admit I was thrilled to hear that he even remembered he wanted a good mark last year, since this year he’s not putting too much energy in. Then he went on to say that’s why he doesn’t think he’ll work so hard this year. Aha!

Mental note: talk to teacher to get an appointment with Luka and talk about what he can do to inch his mark up.

I then congratulate myself for the constant effort on my part to get him to do math and writing and reading outside of school work, because obviously it is having a positive effect.

So, this morning I am driving hm to school and he says, “I have a joke for you.”

“OK. What is it?”

“What do you do with a squeaky mouse?”

I hum and haw and say, “Oh, I don’t know! What do you do with a squeaky mouse?”

“Oil it!”

“Oh my gosh, that is so funny Luka! You know what you should do??” I’m thinking, quick, how to apply this joke-telling thing to a learning experience—yes! He should make a book of jokes.

“Comedy?” he asks.


Ha ha, yes, my kid is funny, and his mum needs to chill.

Tomorrow is Works for Me Wednesday, and I tackle the C word: cleaning. See you then!

Guest blogger: Mom-to-be Helen pictorial

I wish there were a way to back date this posting to yesterday, but, no such luck here with the IT-nevergonnabe me. In keeping with Helen’s Tuesday guest blogging on the state of her mom-to-be-ness, I had asked her to take us a photo or two over the Thanksgiving weekend (for my American readers, we Canadians love our Thanksgiving so well in advance of the Christmas/Hanukkah season). I told her how much my three kids love their “just before I was born” photos, back when they were “on the inside of Mummy.” Granted, it takes a deep breath or two when you’re posing—39 or so weeks of pregnancy is one thing, but who wants to look fat in a photo? There was a small advantage pre-digital cameras, because I didn’t see the last prego photo until after I’d delivered my babes (Luka, who was born in digi-camera times, came 17 days early, it was just luck I’d posed profile for a Christmas party, and the file was sitting on someone’s camera).

So here, with no further ado, are photos of our Helen:

Note the chic, casually knotted pashmina, exotic tunic top (not just for maternity wear, mind) and the boyfriend jeans. Heavy with child, laden with style.

Calm, serene, the picture of an expectant mum. Except, look at this girl’s upper arms! OMG. Does she work out? Will she be one of those “in my skinny jeans in two and a half weeks” girls? I hope so.

I also hope we get a photo of baby as soon as Helen and husband are up to it, and I will post it here. And I won’t even wait for GuestBlogger Tuesday.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: come on moms, can’t you just remember those last few weeks? When sitting down felt so good, and getting back up was almost a miracle? Walking around wondering if your water could really break on a subway? or in the grocery store? Did you do anything that worked to bring on the labour? Care to share with Helen here, should she need the wisdom?!?