Saturday, 30 January 2010

Fortissimo Fridays: Ben Sings The Beatles

Saturday, 30 January 2010
Just a quickie... here is your Friday -- my own kid.  Is that cheating?  Whatever.  He's adorable.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Yeah, What SHE Said!

Thursday, 28 January 2010
A friend of mine posted this quote as her Facebook status the other day:

"When any man likes me I am never surprised for I think, 'How should he help it?' When any man does not like me, I think him a blockhead."
-Hester Lynch Piozzi (British diarist 1741 - 1841)

The thing is... when I was younger, I used to think it was ME who was the blockhead. In my single life, despite having a fair amount of self awareness – enough that I could reasonably define my level of oh-honey-you-so-fine coolness (and subsequent great girlfriend-material) -- I always assumed that it must have been me that had some hideous deficiency or other because none of the boys I ever “went for” saw me like I saw myself. I say “went for” because most of them never knew I was even remotely interested. I am from the “worship-from-afar” school of singleton life; the one time I ever had the bollocks to tell a fella that I was interested in more than just a spin on the school dance dance floor (can I get an uh-huh?) produced results too cringeworthy to mention in polite company. So mostly I got to be the best friend... never the girlfriend.

Later, I worked out that I didn’t have to sit around and wait for my own validation from whomever filled the 501’s of that particular Romeo-of-the-month and that there was plenty of amusement to be found if one proactively went out to find it, instead of waiting for it to call me back like it said it would. Isn’t that tragic though? I would tell that to my teenage self if I ever had the chance to have a word with her.  Me and the 18th century Mammy P pictured above, we would tell her who was a blockhead, all right.

Oh, and also we would say: please don’t wear your hair like that.  Eeeesh.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fortissimo Fridays - Band of Skulls

Friday, 22 January 2010

Click the tape to visit this Friday's artist's web page.

Have I mentioned how I'm musically frozen in high school?  I'm sure I have -- but it's totally true. 

Hmm... also?  Am fashionably frozen there, too, it seems.  OR... maybe am just so dreadfully lazy that I can't buy new CD's OR be arsed to dress in anything but jeans and t-shirts?

Anyway -- that was a roundabout way of telling you that this Friday, you will be ASTONISHED when you realise that the track I'm going to share with you isn't some hark back to my halcyon days of skulking miserably about the halls of Galt Collegiate.  Nay -- it is (drum roll please):  a Brand.  New.  Track.

Here's the scene:  I'm in the kitchen fumbling through my usual morning juggling act.  I make tea, a bowl of Weetabix, a glass of milk, a piece of toast and some baby rice simultaneously each day at 8.11am, with varying degrees of success/spillages.  I manage to get all those things over to the kitchen table.  I manage to assemble the recipients of these culinary wonders (milk in bowl IS TOO wondrous when your eyes are still crusted half closed with sleep) and I also manage to get the ol' digital radio out and plug it in, to listen to the morning show at BBC6 Music.

And lo!  What is this?  Dost mine ears decieve me?  Is this something... new?  Is that my foot tapping?  Is that my butt wiggling?  Call Ripley's, morning fans!  Because 'Believe It or Not'... I LIKE THIS.  OOOH, I DO LIKE IT A LOT.  I ping open my eyes and squint at the display on the radio, which helpfully informs me...

(actually -- was not even anything like a 'ping'... more like a painful SCRITCH; I told you about the crusties)

... that 'Now Playing' is actually THIS BAND.  Now tell me -- what's YOUR butt doing right now?  Happy Friday, kids.

Monday, 18 January 2010

My Life List

Monday, 18 January 2010
Okay.  So today I compiled a list of 100 things I would love to do at some point in my life, if I had no financial restraints or other worries.  Suffice it to say that most of these items are suffixed "with my husband and kids" but some of them are just for me. 

Do you have a Life List?  What does it look like?

Mammy P's Life List*

1. Go camping – properly, like with tents and having to cook stuff on fires, etc.

2. Buy a digital SLR camera and learn to use it properly

3. Have laser eye surgery

4. Fit into considerably smaller jeans

5. Take a cooking class – Japanese or something exotic

6. Learn to sew clothes – properly

7. Teach the kids to swim

8. Write a novel

9. Publish an article in a magazine

10. See the Canadian Rockies

11. Swim in loads of different oceans

12. Scuba dive a coral reef

13. Play guitar and sing live again somewhere

14. Get a full body massage

15. Parachute out of a plane

16. Bungee jump

17. Finish my family tree

18. Go back to where I got married for romantic weekend break

19. Stay in a villa in Tuscany and make my own olive oil

20. Do a wine tasting course

21. Go to the water market in Thailand

22. Swim with the glowy plankton

23. Learn to speak French – properly

24. Climb up the stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower

25. Climb up the stairs to the top of the CN Tower

26. Take a holiday somewhere just with my Mum

27. Take a holiday somewhere just with my husband - other than our honeymoon we've never been anywhere on our own together!  WTF?

28. Drive a motor home across Canada and back through the US.  Or the other way round.  I'm not fussy.

29. Ride a motorbike

30. Go to India and eat curry off a giant banana leaf

31. Have a pin up girl style photograph taken of myself  (Jason says, ‘With boob implants.’) Er... scratch that part.

32. Get more tattoos  22 Feb 2010: today I got a 'B' on my inside left wrist, and a 'J' on my inside right wrist... for Benjamin and Jude, my two adorable boys.  Hurrah, me!  YAY, LIFE LIST!

33. Ring a big church bell so I lift off the floor

34. Replace the car I crashed of Uncle David’s

35. Send my parents to San Francisco on holiday

36. Have a big wedding anniversary party

37. Live in another country for a year

38. Visit the graves of Berlioz and Beethoven

39. Learn to play the violin

40. Get my eyelashes tinted

41. Go to a real masquerade ball

42. Learn to ride a horse

43. Take my dad for a ride on the 'Marrakesh Express' - a train from Casablanca to Marrakesh

44. Change a tyre on the car

45. Fix something in the engine of the car

46. Make cheese

47. Go stargazing in a dark part of the earth

48. Experience zero gravity

49. Take Jason on an African safari in one of those fancy tents with toilets and showers

50. Go in the hot springs in Iceland

51. Fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter

52. Make something pretty on a potters wheel

53. Conduct an orchestra

54. Learn yoga

55. Learn a ballroom/latin dance with Jason

56. Get henna on my hands/feet/both

57. Sleep in a castle

58. See the Northern Lights

59. Blow glass

60. Run a marathon

61. Drive a narrowboat through England’s canalways

62. Cross the Atlantic on a big fancy boat

63. Play a pipe organ

64. Teach the boys to play the piano

65. Teach the boys to play the guitar

66. Grow vegetables

67. Learn to tap dance

68. Learn to juggle

69. Learn Tai Chi

70. Take my kids to a maple sugar bush

71. Sleep in a tepee

72. Cross the Equator to see water spiral in the opposite direction

73. Go to a chiropractor

74. Get my hair cut short again

75. Go on an eating-everything holiday in Italy

76. Stay in a fancy schmancy hotel in Venice

77. Jump down a sand dune in the Sahara desert

78. Sleep outside in a water villa in the Maldives

79. Buy an old house and renovate/restore it

80. Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible

81. Swim with dolphins in their natural environment

82. Ride in a hot air balloon

83. Stay in a riad in Morocco

84. Have a weekend in Bath and do all the Jane Austen touristey stuff

85. Learn to dance ‘Mr Beveridge’s Maggot’

86. See the Pyramids of Giza

87. See the Pyramids in Mexico

88. Visit Windsor Castle in a ‘behind the scenes’ sort of way

89. Take Dad on a journey in a submarine

90. Become a graduate

91. Meet some of my favourite authors

92. Travel on a luxury overnight train

93. Mud wrestle my husband

94. Visit Auschwitz

95. Own a brand new car

96. Give blood

97. Go to Salzburg and do the Sound of Music tour with my Mum

98. Drive a really fast car on an open track

99. Travel to the top of the Earth’s atmosphere

100. Learn to play the drums

101. Go skinnydipping.  Like, as an adult.

* subject to change at any point without given notice, when I think of more stuff, better stuff, or like... more generous and charitable/less selfish stuff

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Haiti, Blog Power and Peter Pointer

Sunday, 17 January 2010
Ben is so, so, so impressionable right now. There are a hundred and one questions, while his brain is busy formulating all kinds of wacky scenarios as the little sphere that has been his life up to now grows bigger and wider. His vocabulary is becoming more enriched as his reading skills sharpen and I have become a walking Oxford Dictionary as I constantly define words for him and contextualize ideas into sentences that he can wrap his head around. It’s harder than you think! He heard a newsreader say “generally speaking” the other day, and asked me what it meant. WTF?! How do you answer that for a 5-year-old?

I’m sure that I am not alone in occasionally feeling that I sometimes find there is a bit of a gap between the kind of mother that I am and the kind of mother that I would like to be remembered as. It’s not that big of a gap, don’t get me wrong... but it makes its presence felt very occasionally when I find myself bogged down in the minutiae of maternity leave, where I am occupied with packed lunches, ironed uniforms, baby wipes, scratch mittens and 1-2-3-4-5-6 scoops of formula (or was that just five-shit-I’ve-lost-count), etc. etc. When life is more about just making it to bedtime without ripping out handfuls of my own hair than it is about trying to instil values and shape characters of the two little souls in my charge. Luckily, all I have to do when I’m feeling a little beleaguered by this responsibility is visit the website of Karen Walrond at Have you heard of this mother/writer/photographer extraordinaire? If you haven’t, check her out. She is my daily dose of inspiration – her daughter is the same age as Benny, we’re both married to Englishmen... so I can relate. But friends, I find her blog posts so soothing and the quiet beauty and calm that oozes out of some of her photos has this strange restorative effect on me such that I can almost hear the click of my internal clock counters realigning themselves to 0-0-0-0 so I can breathe out again!

Recently she spoke about how she tries to show her daughter an example of living with kindness every day; little things like buying the coffee for the person behind her in line at the coffee shop, etc. which got me to thinking that there really are a million little ways that we can all use to teach our kids about kindness and compassion, about human understanding, generosity and consideration.  And that it is our duty as parents to be brave enough to impart these sorts of lessons to our wee babas.

Cut to bedtime the other night, and amongst the plethora of quickfire questions aimed at me were the following memorable nuggets: “Mammy, why can’t you touch a rainbow?” “Imagine if I catched a cloud and put it in my wardrobe!” and then... “Mammy, what's an earthquake?”

We’d had the news on earlier and he must have overheard Jason and I talking about it, and the horrific scenes so reminiscent of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which was right after Ben was born. So we got his Children’s Encyclopaedia out and we read about earthquakes, and what causes them, and what happens to the earth and the houses on top of it if there is an earthquake near where you live. We got out his globe, and had a look to find Haiti, and talked about the people that lived there, and what had happened. I’m sitting there watching his little brow furrow as he absorbed it all. I tried to get him to think about how we (“...aaaalll the way on THIS side of the globe,”) might be able to help people in Haiti. “The people in Haiti will be poorly because of the earthquake; they will need medicine to make them better, “ he works out as I nod. “Have we got any medicine we can send them, Mammy?” We talk a little more and I steer his questions such that he works out for himself that we can send money to Haiti, and how it is important to use your pocket money to help people who sometimes need a little help.  "So... let's just say that if we sent a little money, and Nana sends a little money, and your teachers send a little money, and they added all the money together?  That could buy a lot of medicine, couldn't it?"
Minutes later, we logged onto the Disasters Emergency Appeal website and together we filled in the form to send a monetary donation to the appeal fund.

Then with compassion and concern, and with kindness in his little heart, I watched my child, his expression one of intense concentration, as he typed in his own name and our telephone number with his ‘Peter Pointer’ finger, carefully and purposefully, into the website and clicked 'Donate Now.'

(Thanks, Karen.)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Fortissimo Fridays - The Beastie Boys Double Header

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Can’t believe I’ve been sharing tunes with all you good, good people over these weeks and haven’t dropped a Beastie Bomb on you yet. Undeniably one of my favourites EVER... in fact – here I am one Hallowe’en dressed as Adam Yauch:

In.  Ter.  Gal.  Ac.  Tic.  Plan.  Et.  Ter.  Rey.

Okay, so my badonkadonk is, shall we say... a bit more ‘voluptuous’ than I would probably like. But I can shake it. One of the things I miss most about Canada is getting ready on a Friday or Saturday night (okay, lets be honest... Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights, too) and going out dancing, whatever the weather.  This song comes on in the club and it’s like a magnetic pull to the dance floor; I hear the flute loop at the beginning of 'Sure Shot' and even from ten years and thousands of miles away, I can see Lindsay’s head boppin’ as if her neck’s got no bones in.

Unfortunately, YouTube won't let me embed these, so navigate away and bop your own fine head, and the rest of your bad ass selfs, and then come back and visit me again very soon.

Happy Friday, kids.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

In Which I Resolve to Keep Resolutions

Sunday, 10 January 2010

I’m notoriously bad at resolutions. I always make the same one, and I always fail it. I’m not even going to tell you what it is. But ever the traditionalist, I can’t NOT make New Years Resolutions, so this year I’m going to try a different tactic and make a list of a few extra ones that have reasonable prospects in the fulfilment department instead of a two week spurt of something resembling willpower followed by a predictable swan song into the depths of pitiful failure and then totally laughing my head off. So here goes (in no particular order):

Find a way to get the word ‘cockamamie’ (see note a) into my everyday vernacular. This particular resolution makes the list since Jason won’t let me swear -- my favourite thing – and I think it’s time I got a bit more creative about the way I express myself if I get fucked off about things. Whoopsie. OBVIOUSLY, I will start this resolution AFTER I’m done writing the whole list, okay? (It’s my list and I can do that – you can make up your own rules about your own damn (see note b) list, already.) I ran this preliminary idea past Jason just now, and he said, “If you’re making a list, can you fit ‘sufferin’ succotash’ in there, as well?” I shall but try.

a: when I typed ‘cockamamie’ into Word just now, it didn’t even register as misspelled. Booyah, bitches (see note c).
b: ‘damn’ isn’t even a real swear, so that doesn’t count.
c: the same as above but for ‘bitches’, obviously.

Get some more followers on Twitter. Right now I only have 26. I have a great deal of absolutely nothing to talk about, and more people need to know about all of it!

Move more. I made a snow angel the other day, and generally speaking it was satisfying – nice overall shape, respectable wingspan. Regrettably, the old fuselage could carry a few more passengers than I am necessarily comfortable with.

Find out where the Tim Hortons Donuts is in the MetroCentre. I read on the Interweb that there’s supposed to be a Tim Hortons in my local shopping mall. A fellow UK-based Canadian then ‘confirmed’ this ‘fact’ when I was at the Tragically Hip gig in Manchester back in December. “BOLLOCKS!” (see note d) I said to this stranger. “I’ve lived 5 miles from the MetroCentre for ten years; I would have SMELLED it if there was a Timmy’s in there.”

d: PLEASE don’t ask me to give up ‘bollocks’; it’s my favourite.

Unsubscribe myself from all the email newsletterey fluff that litters my email inbox daily. If every unwelcome email that trickles its way into my inbox was a water molecule, I’d have a tsunami. It’s a nightmare. Alarmingly, some of them are even of a ... shall we say... ‘compromising’ subject matter. Like, even if I DID have one of those, I’m not sure the pills you’re selling would legitimately make it bigger anyway, so please don’t email me about it.

Damn. I just emailed the MetroCentre and got this in reply:

Find another resolution to replace number 7. Ooh, but look! Since it doesn’t exist, I could technically cross number 7 off my list as COMPLETED, right?

I’m not Noel Gallagher or anything, but I’ve never been one to be very meticulous with the old tweezers, so I resolve to get my eyebrows waxed more regularly. I’m sorry to say the poor fellows are the unfortunate victims of my frequent neglect. When I do get around to paying them some attention however, after a waxing they are all shapely and the bits where the hair used to be feel all smooth and I can’t stop stroking them. Which in itself is very satisfying. They have a lovely Hollywood arch and it makes me feel quite glamorous, generally. This resolution should be relatively easy to keep – it doesn’t cost much money for a wax, and although it is a little painful it is leaps and bounds less scary than eyebrow threading, which one of my friends gets done. GAH! Not to mention my scary eyebrow technician at the salon; she is very tiny but she is from Kazakhstan, and rather intimidating. Her scare tactics alone should keep me in regular attendance in 2010. Last time I went, she chastised me in her exotic accent, with her rounded O’s and with hypnotic rolling of her R’s: “You come soon again. You come back wiz zees brows booshy again like zees, I charge treeple.”

Now I’m looking at my cuticles and feel guilty for not having a resolution about them; they too are a shite state of affairs. (see note e)

e: there’s absolutely no way I’m going to give up ‘shite’. I have to draw the line somewhere; BE REASONABLE.

Choose my battles. It’s so easy to get wound up and radgy about little things. I need to more often ask myself if it really matters when I am nagging at Jason: “Dude. Seriously. SHAVE already.” Which just gets him in a narky mood and then we all stomp around the house in a huff. (see note f)

f: Of course, this whole resolution just might be a half-arsed attempt (see note g) at reverse psychology... I will let Jason THINK that I’m not fussed whether his chin fuzz is approaching to crucial levels of homeless-tramp-a-like untidiness in the hopes that he will whip out the old Gillette of his own volition. But ssssh... DON’T TELL HIM THE PLAN. THE EAGLE FLIES AT MIDNIGHT, and all that.
g: ‘arse’ doesn’t count either, ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!


Thursday, 7 January 2010

2009 in Pictures - a little late...

Thursday, 7 January 2010
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Year in Review
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook