Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Dear Reader (and I'm pretty sure there's only one of you),

Thank you so much for checking in every once in a while. I am still alive, I survived the hideous move, and I'm feeling much better now. There's so much to tell! Like, asbestos removal! The least of our problems! Proper drainage around a foundation! Does it matter? Why, yes! Houses built in 1957: are they insulated? No! And flannel sheets! How I love thee on a cold winter's day! Etc.

But now I'm going to warm my hands around a hot mug of tea and edit, edit, edit until I have to pick up Charlie from school. I will be back. Soon I hope.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I’m even feeling better about the house we bought in Toronto. I’m not convinced that we will live there forever, but at least I feel like I can move into it now (earlier this week I was scanning house rentals, so this is a huge step for me). I’ll give it at least a year.

Pack it up; pack it in

In one week the movers will be here. (Mental note: call movers to confirm.) Reality is setting in: in one week, we won’t live in Ottawa any more. I am sadder than I ever thought I would be about this change of events. After two years of feeling trapped here, after hating the suburbs and this car-dependent life, after bemoaning the unfriendly nature of this city, I am shocked to realize that we built a happy, connected life here. Not that it was easy, mind you. Our neighbours are our friends, and I hope we stay in touch. We have a little group to hang out with at the park after dinner. And even though I still hate getting in my car every single day, I appreciate what the suburbs have to offer. It’s quiet here, and I don’t mind it anymore. We have the best babysitter ever, and we will miss her. I have friends – not terribly close – but there’s a connection that goes beyond just having young children. It’s a good life, and it’s a life I think I could lead quite happily if we had to stay here.

So why are we leaving?

Because HS’s job does not require us to be here (and that’s the reason we moved in the first place). We can have all the things we have here (except a roomy, 4-bedroom house with double garage and 2.5 bathrooms, of course) in Toronto. We can rebuild the happy, connected life we had before and have our families close by. We can live in a city that supports a career for me too. We can have more of a balance in our lives, because for all that we have here, we are alone in a lot of ways. I don’t look at moving back as failure or running away from an unhappy situation. We are choosing this. And as hard as it is right now, it will be better for us in the long run. And while I have some reservations about raising Charlie in a big city and the move back to a busier life, I know going home is the right thing for us. I can hardly wait to go biking along the boardwalk. I want to walk Charlie to school on his first day of JK. I want to call my sister to see if she wants to go the gym, or a movie, or even coffee fer cryin’ out loud, just on the spur of the moment. I want to go back to school. I want to go to book club. I want to work part-time in an office and wear my nice shoes. I want to have another baby.

So it comes down to this: Ottawa, I do love you after all. We will visit. I will think of you fondly and remember that this is the place where I learned a hell of a lot about myself, where I overcame depression, and where I became a Mom. I will miss you, and that’s ok. I can miss you and still know I’m making the right decision.


The berry patches are open, so get out there and get picking! Our local is Dekok Berry Farm, and we got three quarts of ripe, sweet berries yesterday. Charlie has become surprisingly adept at picking, so we filled our basket in no time. I’ve already made strawberry shortcakes (just add Bisquick biscuits and spray whipping cream!) and strawberry smoothies. I’m also planning a nice strawberry and goat cheese salad (with toasted almonds of course) and perhaps a strawberry-rhubarb pie so I can use up the pie crust in my freezer. And I feel all virtuous in that 100-mile diet kind of way, that the only carbon footprint from these berries was a five minute drive from my house to the farm. But I suppose I should take my bike next time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two weeks

In two weeks, we will be packed up and moved out of this house. We will be living in Toronto. We will take possession of a house that I do not want. A house that has caused no end of stress and turmoil for the past three months. I know it's just a house. I know we can sell it if we need to. But we would take a huge financial hit if we did. All of our hard-earned equity would be thrown away. I hate it already, and we haven't even lived there yet. I don't know what to do. I hope that when we get there things won't seem as bad as they do right now, because bad and uncertain things tend to get amplified in my obsessive brain. I will try to make it a home for us. I have promised HS a year.

This move is tearing us apart. It was supposed to be the right thing. It was supposed to be like going home. But nothing about this move has been easy, and everything about staying in Ottawa seems easier in comparison. I know a lot of this is just transition, and moves are huge stressors, and things will be better once we are settled. Right?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Curse you Ottawa!

Oh Ottawa! How could you? How could you seduce me so completely just as I am about to leave? You were so cold and standoffish for two years, and now you have clutched me to your bosom. How could you make me love you? I hated you for so long! I clung to Toronto, my other great love, and I compared you to her, and you always came up short. But now, you make me question my decision to leave. You offer so much: large, affordable houses without significant levels of lead in the drinking water! kind, friendly neighbours who will watch my child and have us over for dinner! warm nights perfect for playing frisbee at the park! quiet streets with young families! everything within a 20-minute drive! even the bad traffic is still traffic that moves! ARGH! Stop being so wonderful! Don't make me miss you!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Wheel of Fortune

A while ago I read a post on Metro Mama's site (I'd link to it, but for some annoying reason, Blogger in Mac doesn't have that handy button to create links, and Charlie will be ready for pickup at preschool soon, so I don't have time to code it. That and I'm lazy.) about the wheel of fortune. No, not the game show, but the Shakespearean (Elizabethan??) concept that our lives are wheels that turn around and around: sometimes our fortunes are up, sometimes they are down. (See also: Dan Zanes, Wonderwheel) In her post, Metro Mama noted that things for her were definitely up and she wanted to take note so when things are down she will remember all the good she has. I was touched by that idea, and when I was reading this (back in December), I noted that things at Chez FOO were definitely up. We were moving back to Toronto. Preschool was going well for Charlie. Work was manageable for HS. I was working too, and that felt good. We were going to Florida. Our families and friends were in good health. I was so happy, I was even thinking of calling it quits with my therapist. We were plannning another baby.

And then 2007 came along.

There have been lots of little things (and a couple of big ones) that have cause the wheel to shift for us lately. And while I recognize that comparatively speaking our downswing is NOTHING compared to what others have to deal with, there's just been a lot of shit. So, as I threatened, here's my Oprah Gratitude Journal. Please forgive me for this (you lone reader out there), but here is a list of Good Things to Think of When the Bad Stuff Seems to Take Over:

1. I have a good marriage. Despite all this awful stuff, HS and I talk. We love and support each other. We have figured out a flaw in our relationship recently, and we are aware of it now and working to fix it.

2. I have Charlie. Despite the fact that three is kicking my ass on a daily basis, he is wonderful. And he is potty trained. Whoo-hoo!

3. Speaking of serious flaws, I realized a pattern of behaviour that I need to change. It's a pattern I learned from my parents, and I'm horrified that I have only recognized it now, at the age of 35. But it isn't too late. I can learn from it and do something about it.

4. I have a great family. Yes, they drive me crazy. But my parents are both still around. They are relatively healthy and independent. When we move back to Toronto I will be a ten-minute drive from my sister. I like my in-laws. I have two sweet neices that Charlie adores. I have a good relationship with my MIL. My brother-in-law's new girlfriend is awesome. My nephew is doing well at school.

5. I have good, supportive friends (who are finally having kids). There are so many people who are happy that we are moving back. I can have a girls' night out once and a while. My good friend is having a baby in September. My other good friend will be off for the summer. I won't be so alone.

6. I can work part-time, at home, while Charlie transitions to his new school and adjusts to the move.

7. Our new neighbourhood in Toronto is safe and family-friendly. Charlie can walk to school. I can walk to Tim Hortons, the library, the boardwalk, Shoppers, the bank, and the grocery store. I am looking forward to saving a ton of mony on gas.

8. I can take some courses at Ryerson this fall.

9. We are safe, we have a good roof over our heads, we are in financially decent shape.

10. It's summer. I can wear flip-flops. And this afternoon, Charlie and I will get popsicles.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

HS and Charlie gave me two of my favourite things for Mother's Day: sleep and a large Tim Hortons coffee. Ahhhhhh. That would be enough for me, but I also got flowers, homemade oatmeal pancakes and bacon, and a family nap in the afternoon. Sweet.

Alas, HS had to leave for Toronto last night, so Mother's Day ended a bit early in my opinion, but HS's work beckons. I hate being alone, especially since I'm alternating between freaking out and freakish calm. I'm in a huge downswing o' crazy, and I don't like it. I'm trying very hard to dig out of it, but even though I've upped the therapy and started the SJW again, I'm still a mess. And why? I feel like I've made a huge mistake. I should have spoken up and I didn't. And now I have to deal with the consequences. And who knows? Maybe I did make a mistake, maybe I didn't. I won't know for a while. I feel like I need to start a Gratitude Journal a la Oprah to remind myself that the life I have is actually pretty awesome, and this crazy is temporary and whoa baby, you have a lot of good things going for you, etc.

I'm stuck.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A couple of things that took a long time to figure out but in retrospect seem quite obvious now

1. You cannot make a child poop in the potty if he/she doesn't want to. You can't bribe, cajole, force or beg either. He will do it when he is ready. It will be sudden: one day, no; the next day, yes. And you will be so very, very grateful.

2. I am turning into my mother.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And they used to eat gravel!

I never thought that Facebook would become so popular with the over-thirty crowd. I can see why it's hip with the kids (kids I used to babysit, kids that I have hauled out of their cribs pits-to-toes covered in poop, are on this site), but dammit, there are lots of people I know out there. And yes, I joined too. And yes, I do find it satisfying to track down high school acquaintances and glimpse into their friends list. But I'm not going to invite my address book to join just so I can have more than seven friends.

Not yet anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Simon Says

Things have been a little pear shaped around Chez FOO these days, so let's focus on something positive, shall we? Since the weather is cooperating (at least here in Ottawa it is), here's a good game to play with your toddler at the park. It's a variation of Simon Says, since two-year-olds miss the subtle nuances of the original. Here's what to do:

1. Give you toddler lots of Simon Says commands that they will understand, i.e. Simon Says touch your nose, Simon Says jump, Simon Says spin around, Simon Says touch your toes, Simon Says pat your tummy, etc.

2. End game with Simon Says get [your child's name here]!

3. Encourage toddler to run away. Chase toddler. Catch toddler and swing around in a circle until you are dizzy.

4. Repeat.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Doors closing, windows opening etc.

People, it's spring! In fact, it's verging on summer. Life seems a little bit more manageable when the sun is shining.

I've had a bit of luck lately (and a lot of therapy), and I'm feeling better about what lies ahead. There's still anxiety in the form of a talon embedded in my chest, but I acknowledge it, breathe through it, and tap my chest until I feel better.

And thank you HS. You don't read this blog, but I hope you know that you make my life better in every possible way.

Monday, April 16, 2007

But I really, really thought I was

I'm not pregnant.

I'm relieved.

I'm sad that I'm relieved.

I can't handle what's going on right now. I need my Saint John's Wort, but we shouldn't get pregnant while I'm on it. So we're putting off baby making for a while. Again.

I'm getting older and so is Charlie.

I still want another baby.

If a move can throw me into such a horrid downward spiral, what would another baby do?

Winter has to end soon, right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Two posts in two days!

HS is out of town, Charlie is napping, and I'm currently in-between freelance projects. So here I am! Still fretting, still trying to calm the f*ck down about this move, still not sleeping terribly well. I'm a real treat!

Oh and here's a fun new worry to add to my growing list: I think I'm pregnant. Considering all the flotsam and jetsam in my brain these days, I have no idea how I will handle it if there are two lines on the First Response stick tomorrow morning. Lordy. Then again, I thought I was knocked up on several occasions this past year, so really, my intuition is for shite. If I am in a family way, my due date is Christmas Day. And I swore I would never have another winter baby (Charlie is a December baby too). But maybe I only ovulate in April?

Deep breaths. Must remember to take lots of deep breaths.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sleepless in Kanata

Why is getting what you want so scary?

I am completely losing my mind. I can't sleep, my appetite is shot, and all I can do is fret, fret, fret. And why? Because we bought a house. We're moving back to Toronto. We sold our house in Ottawa. This is what I have wanted for so long and now that it is staring me in the face, I'm freaking out.


I hate my brain sometimes.

I keep telling myself it will be fine. It will all work out. We will be happy. But my head is on an endless loop of worry. You see, we kind of bought quickly. And we bought a fixer-upper. And it will take time and money to get it in decent shape. And it's smaller (natch) that our house in Ottawa. And, and, and. But the neighbourhood is great. And the house has potential. Charlie's school (with French Immersion) is just around the corner. We have parking (two spaces!), which is a big deal in Toronto. The bathroom is big. There are hardwood floors under the carpets. The house is solidly built. So why can't I focus on the good stuff?

Because I'm afraid. When we moved to Ottawa, I was so desperately unhappy. Post-partum depression hit hard and moving to a new city without friends and family for support just about did me in. But we've carved out happiness in this city. We've made friends, found a babysitter, created a good life for ourselves. But it still doesn't feel complete, so that's why we're moving back. We want to be closer to family and friends. And if we're going to have another baby, I don't just want, I require more support than what we have here. So we made the decision to go back.

So here's the big worry: What if we move back, and I'm still unhappy? What if we hate the house? What if it wasn't the move to Ottawa after all? What if our lives, though incomplete, would be better if we just stayed here? These are the thoughts that wake me up at 2:00 a.m.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Chocolate helps too

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In my wilder (read: 10 years younger) days, I'd be heading to the pub to drink green beer (I can appreciate a fine Guinness now, but then I was more into hard lemonades, or if I was really going wild, hard cider). But instead we're having friends over for dinner so our kids can play and we can socialize. I will try to hide the fact that I'm not drinking (although the PMS this week seems to be crystal clear sign that I am so NOT pregnant), and this will be tricky because I'm always up for a glass or two or three of wine. Let's hope that the utterly fabulous cake I made will be enough of a distraction. It's a chocolate Guinness cake (very holiday appropriate). It is delicious, easy and utterly divine. There's still lots of time left in the day, so go make one! Here's the recipe:

And I'm totally craving poutine

March break and PMS: such a cruel combination. Add in current Toronto housing listings, and it's no wonder I'm in such a bad mood these days.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Instead of a post, how about a recipe?

If anyone is still reading this blog, to you I say: thank you. I have a verrrrrrry long post about what's been going on, but alas, time and privacy are at a premium. But here's a quick summary of the Chez FOO activities of late: potty training, moving to Toronto, trying for another baby and cancer (not me, but a very good friend). Lots to write about, no? But instead, may I punk out by recommending a recipe? This flourless marble cake rocks, it's super easy, and Charlie even helped by counting and unwrapping the 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. That's right, 10 ounces. It's divine! Try it for yourself at Cheers!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Life or something like it

As you might have guessed from my stellar lack of blogging, I have had A Lot Going On These Days. Let's just say that 2007 has been a bit of a kick to the ass, and with work deadlines and all the stuff going on, blogging has become the last thing on my to-do list. I'm thinking of calling it quits with this blogging stuff anyway, since the need to write that I felt a year ago has diminished somewhat. Maybe because I'm happier, maybe because I don't feel as alone as I once did, I'm not sure. But Charlie is napping again, so we'll see.

So what have I been up to, you might ask? Well Chez FOO has been hit with that maelstrom we like to call "life," good things, exciting things, and really, really bad things. The even keel I'd been riding has been jolted in a lot of ways, but I'm feeling pretty good, all things considered. I'll try to follow up with the details in another post (no really!), because I hear someone stirring . . .

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Man this blog was getting dusty . . .

As you can tell, my New Year's resolution was not to blog more. Nope, nosiree, let's just say that 2007 is off to a, well, crap, I'm not really sure how to categorize the last 17 days. But let's go back, shall we? To simpler times. December of 2006, for example. And since I am lacking the nap time to construct a coherent narrative, I will fall back on ye olde numbered list to help me out.

1. My birthday. 35. I can no longer check the 25-34 box. I fall into the 35-44. Yuck. Most of the time I'm ok with aging, but when you're trying to get knocked up (finally made my mind up about that one), it pains me to think of the fertility cliff-drop that happens at 35. But hey, I managed to get preggers even after the nose-dive that is 30, so I have, as they say, high hopes.

2. Charlie's birthday. Was wonderful. We rented a skating arena for just the family and Charlie tried out his new single-blade skates. It was awesome. My (and HS's) entire family came, and we all took turns propelling Charlie around the ice. I am just a bit steadier than Charlie on skates, so I really relied on all the hockey players to keep him upright. After skating, we went out for hot chocolate, natch. That night my dad made pizza, Charlie opened presents, including the train table my dad made for him, and we all played Hullabaloo. Charlie was awesome the entire day. He reveled in all the attention, and despite all the excitement, there was nary a meltdown to be seen. He even went to bed late without complaint. After we kissed Charlie goodnight, HS and I basked in the glow of a perfect day and our fantastic three-year-old boy. Charlie's hangover didn't hit until the next morning. Wow, we have NEVER seen him that moody. He was all "dude, where's my love? Where's my entourage? Hello? I needed breakfast five minutes ago!" It was kind of funny in a way, to see someone so small wake up so pissy. It wouldn't have been so amusing, mind you, if I had to deal with that crazy on my own, but since HS and I had Grandma, Nana and Grandpa for back-up, we could handle it without losing our cool. Sort of.

3. Christmas. 'Twas green. My grandma had a charming saying for this type of weather: "Green Christmas, full graveyard." She wasn't the most optimistic person. But that stupid saying kept bouncing around in my head all holiday. However, winter arrived in Ottawa with a vengeance yesterday, which makes me a little less nervous for the future of our planet, but damn it is cold. Good thing we're going to Florida soon.

4. New Year's. My resolutions? 1. Try to get pregnant. (Not so much a resolution as a plan, but still.) 2. Handle my depression better. To that end I am going to an acupuncturist, taking flax seed oil, trying to exercise more (at home too, not just at the gym), and remembering to breathe deeply. Has it helped? So far I haven't fallen down a black hole of despair. We'll see.

So that about wraps up December. It was crazy busy, but it seems so calm compared to what's going on now. But that's another post.