Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Invisible Sticky Labels.

The ladies at Mabel's Labels have outdone themselves with this one. They are launching a new product just in time for spring: Invisible Sticky Labels. How do these labels work, you ask? Using ultraviolet technology, Mabel's Labels has created a label that is invisible to the human eye. These Invisible Sticky Labels only become visible when touched. At all other times the labels are completely undetectable - talk about useful (wink). These Invisible Sticky Labels are only available for a limited time, so make sure you check them out.

The Blame Game.

When it comes to your kids, it's easy to take credit for the good stuff. For example, there is no denying that my son Max takes after me in the looks department. As you can see from this photo of me as a child next to a photo of him, we share the same pale skin, eyes, nose, chin, and smile. My husband Scott and I joke that he is such a physically robust child, he is our wee viking, a clear descendent from the Danish side of my family. He also has a stubborn streak a mile wide, which both my husband and I can take credit for, as Max embodies everything Taurus, just like us. But the Autism, where the hell did that come from? In the past I have joked that my son looks like me on the outside and Scott on the inside. Kind of mean spirited in retrospect, but my husband has a thick skin and (hopefully) knew I was kidding, sort of.

Read the rest of this post on Autism Sucks.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blast From the Past - Part Deux.

Apparently I'm easily influenced. Or maybe I just have a rubber arm that I wanted twisted. After much back and forth with my friends Tanya, Michelle, and Ellen, via Facebook, I have decided to go to my college reunion in July. I would share the message stream (34 comments and counting), the private emails, and the wall posts with you, but some of the info is rather personal, and the rest of it, you really wouldn't care about (unless you were the person I just found out made out with so-and-so, and if so, you really should be blushing right now).

My friends pointed out that they too had their hearts broken in college, and that I'm not special there - that's part of college. And making bad calls, also part of college. Depression...you got it, according to them, part of college. The fact that they cared enough to harass me relentlessly via Facebook made me realize that there are at least three people (maybe four), that really want to see me at this thing. Well, flattery will get you everywhere with me, so when my friend Ellen told me about a seat sale this morning, I went ahead and booked a ticket before I could change my mind. I took a webcam photo of myself as I did it so that when I come to my senses I will have proof that I wasn't tied up and forced into it.

Wow, talk about a motivator to shed those pounds! Time to reinstate the no-carbs-after-5pm rule and stick with it. I have 3 months get trimmed down to my goal weight. Maybe I'll reward myself with a trip to the Mall of America.

Thank Dog For Monday.

How do you feel when Sunday night rolls around? Are you filled with dread that your weekend is over and you have to get back to the daily grind in a mere 12 hours? Not me. Our weekends can be intense. Max is so used to being constantly stimulated with his busy weekdays of daycare and therapy, that we have a hard time keeping him sufficiently entertained on the weekend. The fact that this winter has been brutally cold hasn't helped matters because we haven't been able to get him outside to burn off his excess energy, and the little kid gyms aren't suitable for Max as he tends to run wild and bowl other little unsuspecting kiddies over. He has also been sick with this nasty cold we keep passing back and forth to one another, and when he is sick, his behaviour really goes downhill. I do feel mildly guilty about feeling this relief that the weekend is over, but I think Max feels it too. The smile on his face as he heads out the door on Monday morning with Scott is unmistakable. If he could verbally express it, I think he'd say "thank dog I'm back to my regular routine - you guys are bor-ing". It will be easier with the warmer weather just around the corner. We will be able to take him on more walks, and to the park so he can breathe the fresh air and he'll be able to play in the backyard to his heart's content. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the last month of Monday mornings before I head back to work in May, and appreciate them for what they are.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm Only Happy When It Rains.

That's actually not true, but what a great song, eh? I woke up to one of my favourite sounds this morning, the tap tap tap of raindrops falling on my window. The bedroom was dark because it is overcast, and I thought "it would be a perfect morning if I could just lay here and enjoy this". Cameron looked at me and smiled, not entirely agreeing with my sentiment as she initiated her favourite game of "soo-soo dive bomb", pelting me with her pacifier and then jumping on top of me to make her point. Sunday is Scott's day to sleep in, so Cameron and left him to rest and headed downstairs.

I find the sound of the wind and the rain very soothing. I especially like it if I don't have to go out in it, if I can just stay inside, drink tea, and enjoy. It is nature's percussion, throwing me an impromptu concert. Now that Cameron is having her morning nap, I'm going to head back to bed with my tea and a book. While I'm not only happy when it rains, I am very happy when it rains.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Apple Will Rule the World.

In today's hard up economy, any company whose product or service is non-essential (meaning neither food nor shelter related IMHO), needs to find a way to keep the customers they have, and just as important, find new ones. While I consider my laptop, and certainly high speed internet access essential, I am a spoiled web 2.0 geek and likely not the norm.

My current computer is an HP laptop running Vista. I call it the "Kat-Box" because it really is a piece of shit. I have had it for 2 years, and so far the motherboard has been replaced, and this past month, the hard drive died. Good thing I got the 3 year warranty, eh? Apparently if it breaks down 2 more times in the next year, I'll get a brand new laptop at no cost. Not that I would wish for my computer to die again, but it makes me think about what my next computer will be.

A Mac.

I am throwing in the towel on PCs. They really are garbage and I've had enough of being abused by crappy Microsoft operating systems. If you had asked me 5 years ago what I thought about Macs, I would have said "they are good for graphic designers" and left it at that. My little brother has one, my mom has two. My musician friends have them, and you know what they all have in common? They all love their computers. They also sing the praises of the support they have received from Apple. One friend told me that Apple actually replaced his laptop's hard drive at no cost, even though it wasn't under warranty anymore. Amazing.

This brings me to the concept of "Customer Experience". It is a concept because so few companies have mastered it (I'm looking at you Microsoft). When companies master the customer experience, they find ways to surprise and delight their customers. Their customers become advocates for their products, sing their praises to anyone and everyone. They treat their customers with respect, provide excellent and reliable products and in turn, they are rewarded with customer loyalty. Seems win-win all around.

With my last computer crash, I lost all of my songs in my itunes. Mind you there were still on my ipod, but I am a dumbass and as much as I dig Apple, itunes is not the easiest program to navigate. I messed up the sync and instead of putting all of the songs on my ipod onto my computer, my computer wiped out my ipod. I purchase most of my music from itunes, so you can imagine my distress when I realized what I had done. Hundreds of dollars of music, gone.

But I had faith that the folks at Apple would rise to the occasion and help me out. They would not punish me for being an idiot, they would make those downloads available to me again and be nice about it too. I am happy to report, I was correct in my positive outlook.

My first email:
My computer crashed and I got a new hard drive. All of the music I have purchased through itunes is no longer there, and I want to download it from itunes again. How do I do this?

itunes Response (less than 24-hours later):
Dear Katrina,

My name is Barbara and I have been lucky enough to receive your email. I hope you are having a great day so far. Now let me see what I can do for you.

I understand the titles you purchased from the iTunes Store with account "youremail@gmail.com" were lost. I am sorry to hear this occurred. Thank you for reporting this concern.

iTunes Store Customer Support will let you download (at no charge) all the titles you purchased on this account that are still available. This does not include any item that has been modified or removed from the store since you purchased it.

Please note that you may download your purchases only once, so this is an exception. Also note that Apple does not offer protection for the loss of data from your hard disk, so I recommend that you back up your iTunes library as soon as possible and thereafter on a regular basis. I'll include backup instructions in this email.

Any movies you may have rented will not be made available for you to download again. If you rented a movie and were unable to finish watching it, please reply to let me know.

Follow these steps to download the 262 available items:
(....directions followed, blah blah blah)

I would like to hear back from you on this, if only to ensure the download of the replaced items is successful. Please do let me know if I can be of further assistance. Here's wishing you a wonderful day from iTunes Store Support.


iTunes Store Customer Support

Please Note: I work Wednesday - Saturday, 8 AM -5 PM CST

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated.

That, my friends, is terrific customer support. She followed up with me a few days later to ensure I had been able to download my songs, and I responded telling her yes, and thank you for the wonderful support. My Michael Jackson "Thriller" and Rihanna "Good Girl Gone Bad" recordings could not be recovered, but I can live with that. Because of this positive customer experience, I'm not only spreading the word on behalf of Apple (free advertising and a testimonial to boot), I am going to continue to support them by purchasing their products. I have one more year on this laptop, and then I'll be joining the MacNation. Maybe I should add a countdown ticker to my homepage!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Foot Fetish Fodder.

This is for Scott, who has a bit of a foot fetish. Especially in summer, when all the ladies get nice pedicures and wear strappy sandals, showing off their toes.

American Idol: Motown Week.

I had a hard time focusing on the singers this week because the camera kept panning back to Smokey Robinson sitting in the audience. Damn, Smokey - how much work have you had done on your face? You look like you got flash frozen in a wind tunnel. Is that your belly button in the middle of your forehead? Best part of the night? When Simon drew a mustache on Paula's face. LMAO.

Matt Giraud - Let's Get It On: I thought he started out really nicely, but I wish he would have kept his ass behind the piano. Nobody needed to see him do the white man dance, and he sings much better when he's playing piano.

Kris Allen - How Sweet It Is: Kris is really growing on me. I dig his guitar playing, his voice, his look. While Paula thought his last note was technically sound, I felt like it was really forced...that's really my only complaint.

Scott MacIntyre - You Can't Hurry Love: Oy. What is with singing the chick songs week after week? Enough. Also, the background singers were a mess.

Megan Joy - For Once In My Life: I agree with Randy, this was a train wreck. She sang much better when she had the flu.

Anoop Desai - Ooo Baby Baby: He did a nice job, crooned in tuned, but I was left feeling kind of bleh about this. I hope he brings back some personality next week.

Michael Sarver - Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Not nearly gritty enough, he really was just going through the motions. I get that he was sick, but I wasn't feeling it.

Lil Rounds - Heatwave: Bad wig. It took me half the song to get over it. There is no doubt in my mind that Lil is a terrific singer, but she keeps picking songs that are duds.

Adam Lambert - The Tracks of My Tears: This guy is a chameleon, and he really knows how to pick songs that show off his "artistry". I put that in quotes because I actually find him kind of cliched, but he is very talented.

Danny Gokey - Get Ready: I usually like Danny, but he didn't pull it out tonight. I think he was trying to make it fun, and I just wanted to hear him croon.

Allison Iraheta - Papa Was A Rolling Stone: This girl can sing the shit out of pretty much anything. She rocked this and proved why she is one of the only girls left in the competition.

Bottom 3: Matt Giraud, Scott MacIntyre and Michael Sarver. (I'm really surprised Megan Joy didn't end up in the bottom 3, as much as I like her.)

Voted off: Michael Sarver. It's about damn time.

Blast From the Past.

My college reunion is being held this summer on the July 4th long weekend. I have mixed emotions about going. While part of me would love to go, and catch up with everyone from my college days, another part of me has no desire to relive what was one of the toughest periods of my life. Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot while at SWCC and made some great friends. I also suffered from a horrible bout of depression, got my heart broken for the first time, and made a bunch of really bad calls.

This picture was taken in my freshman year, before classes had even started. I was renting the first floor of a dilapidated house with another girl from Canada. Interestingly enough, this girl is on Facebook and she won't friend me. Makes me think I must have been a real treat to live with, or maybe she is just a jerk. Who knows? I really have no hard feelings towards her, but maybe my memory is selective and it may in fact be that I was a rotten roommate. Though I do recall deleting a message when one of her boyfriends (Dave, I think) tried to breakup with her on our answering machine, calling him back and telling him that he needed to man up and do it in person, that I would not allow him to dump her that way. But I digress.

SWCC is the place I credit with making me a musician. While I don't work professionally as a musician, I still consider myself one. Most of the people I went to school with are doing something music wise with their careers. When I reconnect with them, the inevitable question that comes up is "What are you doing for a living?". I dread that question because a) I feel like they judge me when I say I am working in Marketing, and not in the music field and b) what I do from 9-5 is not what defines me as a person, just like how much money I make does not equate my worth as a human being.

I guess what I'm saying is I really don't want to take a trip down memory lane, go backward instead of forward. So why am I even considering going? There are a select group of friends that I would love to reconnect with. I would also like to see my professor Phil Mattson, and thank him in person for the music and life education he gave me and for helping me battle through my depression, never giving up on me. And also, I want to see that roommate of mine and find out while she won't friend me on Facebook. Kidding. I don't really care about that, I mostly just want to stalk her profile to see wtf she's up to. Perhaps I should just try to reconnect with these friends individually. It's tough though, because they are spread out all across the United States - literally from coast to coast. I could get to see them all in one shot, while it will take me years to get the chance to catch up with them one by one.

What would you do? Go? Not go? What's your take on the whole reunion thing? Do tell...I clearly need some advice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cameron Update.

When your firstborn child is Autistic, you really have no idea of how a "neurotypical" child is supposed to develop. Cameron appears to be neurotypical, and her development is blowing my mind. Most parents would think nothing of a child responding to her name, objecting to strangers holding her or getting upset when you try to put her down. For us, each new development is a novelty, something we have never experienced. This morning, as I read Cameron a book about animals, making animal sounds as we turned each page, she pointed. She pointed with her index finger at the horse, the dog, the chick, and the pig. She pointed and then looked at me every time I made the corresponding animal sound. I know I overuse this phrase, but all I could think was "awesome".

America's Next Top Model: The Benny Ninja Show.

Benny Ninja drives me a bit nuts. He is completely absurd and over the top. I suppose I understand why ANTM keeps having him back - he provides great entertainment value. Every season he shows up and runs a "Pose Off", which inevitably makes most of the girls look like they have no clue of how their bodies work, let alone how to show off the clothes they are supposed to be modeling. This season they dressed the girls up like a bunch of blonde drag queens and put them on a super skinny runway so they could get cheered or booed by "New York's Elite Fashionistas". Colour me bored. They all pretty much sucked and Granny-Celia won the day by default.

The photo concept this week was a new one I haven't seen before. The girls were supposed to be posing as immigrants, new to America, on Ellis Island. I'm not sure how the Benny Ninja angle worked in, and he looked a little odd in the pictures. I hated the clothes - the models looked like they were wearing sacs. Tahlia, who had been bitching all show about how she wanted to go home, seemed to have the best picture, which clearly pissed off all of the other girls. ET-Tiana also had a terrific picture, but ultimately, Tahlia won the day with her hot mamacita photo, and Nascar-Kortnie got the boot.

Best part? When after Tyra booted Nascar-Kortnie and Granny-Celia was a total bitch, ratting Tahlia out to Tyra, saying it was "unfair" that Talia got to stay when she didnt' really want to be there. Tyra smacked her down hard, which I loved. Granny-Celia is now on my shit list and I hope that she gets booted out pronto for being a bitch and a backstabber. Can't wait to see how this plays out next week. Drama!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Disability Awareness (Are We There Yet?): Part 2.

In Part One of this post, I discussed the issues we face as parents of a child with Autism. The constant worry of how he is treated, ensuring that we surround him with people that love and support him, and how we know that ultimately, we can only control his environment for so long.

This is Part 2:

This morning I met with what I like to call "Team Max", or at least the daycare component of "Team Max". There is also the Blue Balloon component of "Team Max", but I'll save that for another day. Today I sat on a little plastic blue chair, at the head of a table that barely reached my knees. The five other adults at the table included Max's daycare teacher Jennifer, Occupational Therapist Kathy, Resource Consultant Joyce, Speech Pathologist Michelle, and Behaviour Consultant Esther. Team Max indeed.

We were meeting to review Max's progress since the last time this team met, 6 months earlier, and to discuss our strategy for moving him from the Toddler room to the Intermediate room where he can be with his peers. I expressed that my main concern is that he will get lost in this room, and that these older children will not be as kind to him as the toddlers are. Maybe they won't want to play with him because he rarely seeks other children out. His crying when he gets stressed might scare them, his need to sit alone in the corner and bang his head on the wall will likely be misunderstood. There will be 23 kids for him to navigate. The noise of 23 other kids to filter out. 23 other kids in the cloak room when they get ready to go outside. 23 other kids eating lunch with nobody necessarily focusing on Max to make sure he is eating. 23 kids and all of their parents. 23 + 46 = 69 new people in Max's world. My heart is speeding up at the very thought of it.

Each person at the table comes with a different area of expertise. His current teacher will continue to visit him, brief his new teachers on all things Max, and make sure that he is doing okay with the change. His Occupational Therapist is scoping the room out to make sure it is safe, that he won't get himself into trouble, and is proactively looking to find solutions to problems that haven't arisen yet. His Speech Pathologist is sharing tips with all of us on how we can promote more language with Max, how we can help him make his needs understood. His Behaviour Consultant helps us all to remember that there is always a source to behaviour, be it good or "bad", and to look for the source when Max is acting out so we can better understand the cause of his frustration. His Resource Consultant helps us put the puzzle together, and has even applied to Halton Support Services for someone to come into the daycare for a month or so when Max finally does move to help him transition and to make sure he has the support he needs to settle in. And me, I'm just his mom - the one with the PhD in Max and the heart that worries so much.

The main thing I want to do for Max before he moves into this room is to write a social story for him to help him understand how his world is changing and to prepare him for it. The other key component is preparing the children and their parents for Max's arrival so they can understand him better, and make an effort to include him in their play. I am going to write a letter to each parent, letting them know about Max, his diagnosis, and what a wonderful little boy he is. I am also going to highlight some of his challenging behaviours for them, so they will know what is going on if he is having a meltdown, banging his head, or just sitting in the corner tossing toys over his shoulder. I will include a story about Max as well, and encourage each parent to read the story with their child so that they can understand why Max is how he is.

What does one say to a group of three and four year olds about Autism? I am thinking the story will go something like:

This is your new friend Max. He is three years old.
Max doesn't have a lot of words yet to talk with, but understands most of what you say.
Max likes puzzles, cars and trucks, books, bead toys, and balls. He also likes to run, listen to music and sitting for circle time.
Sometimes if it gets too loud, Max gets sad. He will be okay, he just needs to be sad for a little while.
Sometimes if Max gets worried, he bangs his head. He will be okay, he just needs to work his wiggles out, and he isn't hurting himself.
Max seems like he is shy, but he would like to play with you. If you invite him to play, he may not always come, but we hope you will still ask him. The more you ask him to play, the more he will want to play with you.
Some days Max has a hard time sleeping at nap time, and he cries. He does not mean to wake you up, he is just having a hard time.
Max is funny, and a very nice boy. When you see him, you can say "Hi Max!" and he will probably wave hello to you.

That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there is more that I will want to say to Max's new classmates. Suggestions are always appreciated!

CVS Caremark - All Kids Can

Notice the Stylin' New Header? Hawtness.

If you haven't noticed, my blog header was updated yesterday. Yes, I know, it is incredible, and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Well, I did, if you count emailing my über talented designer friend Chris Mendoza of Designmojo.net. I gave him no direction, just the copy (30 something mom of 2, blah blah blah). And this is what he emailed me. Yes, I almost fell off my chair I was so happy with it. I am guessing he used my Facebook profile pic as a starting point and went from there.

I have been fortunate enough to know Christopherr (yes, 2 R's), since my days at Digital Cement. While things didn't turn out there as I would have hoped, I made some terrific friends, wonderful professional contacts, and had the best mentor/manager of my career to date. I learned something new every day, got to do some very interesting work, and billed a lot of hours (such is the agency life).

Chris is now located in London, England, with his fabulous girlfriend Lulu. We miss them both a lot, but they are living the good life and we can't blame them for that. They're both too big for Toronto anyhow.

Thank you Chris for pimping out my blog! Can you do business cards too??? Kidding...

Successful Canadian Mompreneurs.

As you know, I am Mabel's Labels "#1 Blogger" (well, maybe #2, right behind Julie Cole, one of Mabel's founders). And before you go thinking, well of course you are a fan of Mabel's Labels, they are sending you to BlogHer in Chicago to be their blogging correspondent, I'll have you know that I was a customer long before I entered their Benefits & Rewards of Blogging contest.

The reasons I have a soft spot for Mabel's Labels, are as follows:

Their products are wonderful. Their labels are best in class bar none. I can't live without them.

Their products are relevant, and created by moms that understand the wear and tear that kid stuff takes.

They have a specific group of products for kids with Autism, and they donate a portion of their profits to Autism Speaks.

Mabel's Labels is a successful Canadian company run by a group of really smart women who are experts at not only being moms, but brilliant in business, law, marketing, social media and whatever they put their minds to.

They are featured on People.com this week! How cool is that? Check it out and show them some love!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wake Up Call.

Sometimes life reaches out and shakes the shit out of you. Wakes you up. Reminds you of what is important. After driving for more than 4 hours, I was only 16 kilometres from home. My car rubbed the back of a transport truck and I lost control of the vehicle. As my car swerved back and forth, I tried in vain to regain control, and failed. We spun around and around on a busy highway and it wasn't my life that flashed before my eyes, but my baby's. It happened so fast, but as the car spun 360, and 360 again, I prayed that when we got hit, it would be on my side, and not the side that Cameron was on. And I was so, so, sad for Max, and for Scott. And then the car stopped, faced in the right direction, and I was able to pull it over to the side of the road.

Cameron was screaming, and I sat there, unable to move, numb. I saw a car pull off the road in front of me, and a man got out, looking concerned, rushing towards me. I managed to roll down the window as he leaned over, asking me if I was okay. He looked in the back and saw Cameron's car seat, heard her screaming. He said "I'm going to check on your baby, make sure she is okay," and I nodded, unable to speak. He walked around the car and checked Cameron, smiled at her, and reported back that she was "mad" but okay. His name was Joe, and he wrote his phone number down on my box of Tylenol. I need to call him to thank him, and let him know we're okay. He stayed with us until the police arrived. An unlikely angel, but my angel.

A lot of folks give police officers are hard time. One of my best friends is a police officer, so I tend to view them in a positive light. This officer was kind, and supportive, took care of me and Cameron, lifted her out of the car and carried her to the tow truck, steadied me as I got out of the car, shaking so badly that I could barely walk. The tow truck driver was a true gentleman, giving me privacy in the cab of the truck so I could feed Cameron, soothe her out of her hysterics.

Cameron and I, while shaken up, are fine, and that is what truly matters. She was very clingy today, and I was out of it for sure. Max and Scott are just happy to have us home, in one piece. We must have had an angel looking over us yesterday. We spun out twice, but nobody hit us. We hit the median, but that's it. The front of the car is chewed up, but can be fixed. We were left whole, and for that, I am truly thankful.

Monday, March 23, 2009


We're home. Safe and sound, thanking god for the angels we met along the way. Thanking god that we made it home in one piece, even though we got into a nasty car accident. Thank you Joe, Darren, and the kind OPP officer who helped us today. Thank you Scott and Max for the hugs and smiles when we walked in the door. Appreciating life more today than yesterday. Time for bed. More tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Girls' Roadtrip: Turkey & Deer & My Sexy 1-900 Narration.

Before you go getting all excited, the reason my video narration sounds like I'm working for a 1-900 sex line is that I am getting another cold. Unbelievable. Anyway, if you'd like a thrill, feel free to call me - I'll be up until about midnight.


Anyway, one of my favourite things about coming to Ithaca, (besides seeing my lovely family), is that they live out in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, you could drink your coffee and read the New York Times naked in the backyard and nobody would be the wiser. My SIL, Haschmo, makes a point of putting food out for the wild turkeys that visit each day, as well as the deer. I couldn't resist filming them for prosperity. Again, apologies if my voice gets you all hot and bothered, and email me if you need to "talk".

Girls' Roadtrip: Cameron Talking Politics With the Cat.

My brother & SIL (the lovely Haschmo) have lots of pets (inside & out). Their indoor critters include Max & Morgan (cats) and a dog named Shorty. All of the animals are AMAZING with kids, as you can see from this video where Cameron man-handles one of their kitties.

Watch more videos later today - we are doing more shopping training with Cameron and I may even try on some more jeans.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Girls' Roadtrip: Target - Hell Yeah.

Not only do you have a more inspiring leader than us Canadians, you have Target too. Colour me jealous.

Girls' Roadtrip: Saturday and We're Feeling Fine.

Cameron and I are now in Ithaca, having a blast. There is something in the air here that just makes me relax. Or maybe it's that I'm out of my usual environment and I don't have to worry about managing the day-to-day stuff of life. Whatever it is, I clearly needed it as I haven't felt this laid back since...the last time I was here!

My early birthday present (thanks Mom!) was waiting for me when I arrived. I have already taken a few videos of the kids with my Flip. This little gadget is fantastic - if you have kids, or like randomly waxing poetic, you should get one. And I'm not even getting paid to say that! How is that for transparency?

There are turkeys and deer wandering around and I promise to catch them on film this weekend. For now, here are some videos of the beautiful Haschmo making dinner for little Zevi, and my brother David reading stories to the kids.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Girls' Road Trip: New York State of Mind.

The last time Cam and I made it down to Ithaca for a visit with my bro and his family, she was only 15 weeks old. It's time for another Girl's Road Trip, for some Mommy/Cam time, sans boys. Ithaca is one of my favourite places in the world. I've been looking forward to this trip for weeks. If we could both find jobs there, we would move in a second. I'm hoping that Cam will be a good little traveller and will be feeling back to normal by the time we head out. She is recovering from an ear infection, eye infection and a cough and runny nose. My sister-in-law has informed me that if she gets them sick I'm in big trouble. Let's hope Cam keeps her germs to herself. I'll make sure to post pictures and updates while I'm gone. Maybe some video too (my Flip is arrived from Amazon and is waiting for me). Now I just need to download some new tunes on my ipod and find the latest Q-Tip cd that has gone missing in my car. Car gassed up - check. US $ - check. Passports - check. Giddy up!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

American Idol: Grand Ole Opry Week.

I'm with Simon, country music doesn't do it for me. Well, I do have a soft spot for the Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, early Dolly, and Johnny Cash. But that's it, I swear. In the effort of full disclosure, I should also admit that I love the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter". Since I'm not a fan of the genre, I'm also not all that familiar with the songs that the contestants were singing, save a few. I think that made it hard for me to judge the songs, and explains why I predicted (and hoped) incorrectly that Michael Sarver would be sent packing. Oh well, maybe America will get it right next week.

Michael Sarver - Ain't Goin' Down (Til the Sun Comes Up): Apparently this is a Garth Brooks song. I'm guessing it's a lot better when Garth performs it. This song is the equivalent of Anoop's rendition of "Beat It" last week. It did nothing to show off his vocal range and he really didn't bring anything new to it.

Allison Iraheta - Blame it on Your Heart: Scott was hoping his girl would sing "Ring of Fire", but sadly, it wasn't to be. I enjoyed Allison's performance and I thought she stayed true to her sound but also showed that she can sing country with the best of them. I was surprised that she was in the bottom 3 - America - smarten up!

Kris Allen - To Make You Feel My Love: Another Garth song. Kris has a beautiful, pure, soulful voice. I didn't love the song choice, but again, I'm not familiar with it so I wasn't able to appreciate his interpretation.

Lil Rounds - Independence Day: Hated it as much as I hate the new Facebook layout. She really didn't do herself justice and I agreed with the judges that she would have been better off singing a song like "I Will Always Love You" (Dolly not Whitney).

Adam Lambert - Ring of Fire: I actually called Scott over to watch this with me. We both laughed our asses off at Randy Travis's reaction to Adam's version of this Johnny Cash classic. Scott was hoping Johnny Cash's zombie corpse would suddenly appear and eat Adam's heart right out of his chest as payback for butchering this song. It was so over the top and ridiculous, I was left in awe at the balls on this guy.

Scott MacIntyre - Wild Angels: Another chick song! Will he never learn? I continue to be bored with this guy. I find his voice very bland and he hides behind his piano.

Alexis Grace - Jolene: I think that Alexis's version of this song was all over the place. It is a vocally challenging song and it really doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation (without turning it into a train wreck). I would have liked to see Alexis sing something grittier, and I guess America agreed.

Danny Gokey - Jesus Take the Wheel: Slow to start, but this guy has great pipes. I think he fell prey to the whole "singing a song by a chick" phenomenon. Let's hope he picks a song that sits better in his voice next week.

Anoop Desai - You're Always On My Mind: Beautiful. Anoop totally redeemed himself with this song. I'll be interested to see what he does next week (will he return to his good time vocals or stay serious and show off his instrument?).

Megan Joy - Walkin' After Midnight: How anyone can not smile when they hear this girl sing, I do not know. Plus she had the flu - amazing. I would have never known, and that is the sign of a true professional. She probably won't win, but I hope she gets signed - I'll buy her cd.

Matt Giraud - So Small: This guy seems kind of vanilla to me. Great piano player, nice voice, but he really doesn't knock my socks off. Again with the singing of chick songs - enough already!!

The highlight of the show for me was Carrie Underwood's hair. I do believe I spotted the first robin of the year building a nest in it. She sounded beautiful, but the hair...it was very distracting. Congrats to her for being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry - nice to see her talent recognized by her peers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 5 (Finally Some Movement).

Woot! Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale this morning to see 169.1 come up! I have finally made it out of the 170's - took long enough, eh? I had to weigh myself twice to be sure that I wasn't seeing things since my eyes are a little bleary this morning. Cameron was up all night crying and being a miserable mite in general. We hightailed it to the clinic this morning (where I feel like I should have a seat with a personalized plaque after the number of visits I've made this winter) to find out that she has an ear infection. Third one since December! Gah.

I have also come to an important decision, one that will definitely affect my weight in a positive way. I am going to start weaning Cameron off the boob. I came to this realization at 3am, when she chomped down so hard on me that she made me bleed. That's not the first time she's done that either, it's just that I'm a sucker. I love this little girl more than tall, tall buildings, but I'm about done with the breastfeeding. Operation Wean Cam starts today. She will likely be very unhappy with this, but I am done with yelping every time she sinks her teeth into my tender flesh. I want my body back, I think 11 months of 100% booby milk is pretty good (most of my friends in the US who don't have the luxury of a full year of maternity leave are shocked I have made it this long). I feel really happy about this decision, relieved in fact. So are the girls, they're tired of being abused.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Youngest Prostitute in Guadalajara?

I must admit, when I saw the silhouette of the new "all growed up" Dora, I thought "what the eff are they doing to our beloved pie-faced Dora?". While I wasn't happy about it, I wasn't surprised either. Mattel and Nick just couldn't leave this smart little girl's self-esteem intact as she grows up. Instead of letting her continue to be a positive role model for little girls who are inundated with images of Miley Cyrus sexified in Vanity Fair, Britney Spears' little sis (and Nickelodeon star) getting knocked up before she has even had a chance to go to her prom, and Bratz dolls encouraging bad behaviour and dressing like child prostitutes, they have decided to pile on and make our little Dora into just another inappropriately dressed little girl who is growing up too fast.

I think the worst part is that they tricked us. They sucked us in thinking she was a safe haven for parents who were tired of the belly shirts, mini-skirts, and lingerie for little girls. It would not be okay for Dora to start Grade 1 wearing a regular pair of jeans, running shoes and a t-shirt. Nope, she has to get with the program and start showing off that hot little bod of hers.

I decided that with Dora's new look, the show could use a new theme song:

Dora, Dora, Dora the explorer,
Youngest prostitute in Guadalajara,
Grab your backpack, Hi Ho!
Tight dress! Pants too low!
Watch my hi-ips swa-ay!
D D D Dora...

It turns out that the new Dora isn't so bad. The filled in image of her was released today and her shapely legs are covered with tights, she isn't sporting any makeup, and the "dress" is really just a long shirt. I question the need for jewelery, it might get caught on a tree branch or lost in a river, and those pointy ballet flats aren't going to give her much traction when she's climbing mountains. She'll figure that out soon enough. Seems a tough lesson for a girl between the ages of 5 and 8 though. Let's hope they provide her with some hiking boots and khakis in her backpack. And let's cross our fingers that her pal Diego is a nice boy who doesn't invite her to any rainbow parties.

Monday, March 16, 2009

America's Next Top Model: Skinny Girls Have Feelings Too.

My post from last week generated some controversy. Apparently it is hurtful to enjoy the tears of skinny girls crying. Even if they are silly, attention-seeking, half-wits who are asking for it by auditioning for a show that judges solely on appearance. Ahem. To be clear, I am directing my "joy in tears" at these specific girls, not at all skinny girls. It isn't like I'm making a point of visiting eating disorder clinics on my lunch hour so I can walk the halls in hysterics, pointing and laughing as 75 pound women jam their fingers down their throat because they just can't be skinny enough. Awh see, now I'm feeling bad for ever saying anything in the first place. And this is supposed to be fun damn it, it is America's Next Top Model, after all.

I have one last point I'd like to make before I get on with my post. I understand that I will never in my life know what it is like to be so skinny that I am actually trying to gain weight. I get that for people who struggle at the other end of the scale, losing weight is as discouraging as it is for me to gain weight. But. But these skinny people aren't judged by society the same way overweight people are. They will never know the humility of trying to find jeans that fit at the Gap and realizing they don't carry your size because you are too damn fat. Or having people tell you that you are fat because you are lazy and have no will power. Nobody has ever asked you how many months pregnant you are, when you aren't pregnant at all. And most certainly, nobody has ever suggested that you shouldn't be eating something or ask "haven't you had enough?" when you order dessert.

On that note, my goodness, these skinny girls don't like getting their hair lopped off at all. "Freckly-Faced-Fo" fell victim to the shears this week and she about lost her damn mind, poor thing. I hope she comes to accept her new hair as it really does give her an edgier/fashion look. "Freaky-Eyed-Allison" had her hair dyed platinum and it makes her look even weirder, dog bless her, and they didn't do anything to Natalie, which I thought was strange. She was happy about it, but I think they could have at least trimmed up the girl's ends or something?

This week's photo shoot was an interesting concept where the girls had to light themselves. I can see how this would be really hard to do and I'm not surprised that so many of the pictures fell short. "ET-Teyona" won the day by highlighting her windblown features, though I thought Celia's picture was just as good. In the end, Jessica went home, which wasn't a shocker. She was pretty, but there wasn't anything about her that made her stand out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Kats Are Better Than One.

I met my friend Kat just over a year ago. She introduced herself to me through a letter she left with one of Max's daycare teachers. The letter read:

16 January 2008

Dear Max's Mom

Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Kathryn and I am Lillie's Mom. Lillie is an intermediate at the daycare. Lillie was born with an extremely rare neurocutaneous disease called Hypomelanosis of Ito. When Lillie first arrived in infant care at the daycare she was 7-months old and barely weighed 9-pounds. Lillie was paralyzed on her right side.

Through love and support of the daycare teachers, ErinOakKids and our own private therapists Lillie has made tremendous progress.

Lillie will be 3-years old in March. Over the last few years our family has faced many challenges and struggles in finding support and care for Lillie. I had the pleasure of meeting Max this morning when I dropped off my Lillie and Christopher.

Max is a delightful little boy with beautiful blue eyes.

If there is anything I can do to assist you and Max please do not hesitate to call me anytime day or night.

With kindest regards

Kathryn S.
Home phone/Work phone

What the letter didn't say, was that she met Max for the first time when she witnessed him throwing himself onto the ground when his class came outside to play. That he was wearing a helmet to protect his head. That she offered to help the teachers get him back inside when he refused to walk and had to be carried. That she held him close and stroked his hair to soothe him.

We were still fumbling blindly through the maze of clinics, consultants, therapists and wait lists. Doing our best, but feeling completely inadequate to deal with Max's challenges and struggling to understand what was wrong with our little boy. Kathryn saw Max, and somehow knew that whoever this little boy belonged to, they needed help.

I still carry her letter in my purse with me (it's a bit tattered these days). When I am feeling sad or overwhelmed, I pull it out and read it, reminding myself that I am not alone. Kat and I have become good friends. She is incredibly smart and funny, has a heart that has room to spare, and has the capacity to listen to other people's problems (even the really ugly stuff), when her own problems are often much bigger. Also, she refuses to drink Canadian wine, and would drink only French wine if she had her way. I find this incredibly charming and it makes me like her even more.

While I would never ask to have a child with special needs, and wouldn't wish it on anyone (well, perhaps it would be okay if a few MPPs had Autistic children - then they wouldn't be such condescending jackasses regarding the wait lists for IBI funding), I likely would never have met Kat if it weren't for Max's diagnosis of Autism. We may have passed each other in the cloak room at the kids' daycare, waved politely in the parking lot as we strapped our kids into their car seats, but there would have been no reason for Kat to reach out to me had it not been for Max, and his helmet.

I am lucky to have met Kat, and to have her in my life. I hope that one day, we will be able to sit, drinking non-Canadian wine, and watch our kids talking each other's ears off, laughing at each other's jokes, and running around in the backyard. Until then, I'll be there for her to lean on when she needs help being strong, and vice versa, I'm sure.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Now You See It, Now You Don't.

Sometime in December, when it was bitterly cold and we were battling sickness #3-b (or something like that), Scott threw in the towel on shaving. I thought it was just because he was sick, his face hurt, and he would get back to shaving once he was "up and at 'em". But within a week, he had grown a beard. Within 10 days, it was full on. His friends were suitably impressed with his ability to grow such a nice full beard in a short period of time. I have no idea what the guys at work thought, but I imagine they encouraged him to stick with it. I was outnumbered. Much to my surprise, my friends also liked Scott's beard. I posted a picture on my Facebook page, with the comment that I was going to make him shave it off. The comments flew in like never before. "No!!!", they said, "let him keep the beard!", and "I'd reconsider, girlfriend, it's dead sexy!". Goodness me, I thought. If I don't give my husband some lovin', he wouldn't have to look far to find someone who would. So I put my preconceived notions of beard-dissing aside, and took a fresh look. I had to agree, the beard was pretty sexy.
Now that the weather is warming up, I have been encouraging Scott to shave his beard off (with the agreement that he can grow it again next winter, should he so desire). I was very pleased that when I got home tonight, after a Ladies Night out (who am I kidding? It was one drink at a local pub), that Scott had shaved his beard off for me. Woot! Not to worry ladies, he was suitably rewarded.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Disability Awareness (Are We There Yet?): Part 1.

One of the many things I worry about when it comes to Max is how he is treated by others. Scott and I will only leave Max with family, therapists, and close friends that are very familiar with Max and have proven to us that they love him, can handle his challenging behaviours in a calm manner, and that they truly believe he is a wonderful, funny, delightful little boy with a tonne to offer the world. While we can control his environment at home, we don't have much control over the rest of the world, even more so as Max gets older.

First, a little bit of background:

Max is currently in a wonderful daycare that has been terrific about providing an integrated program for him. He has been attending this daycare since December 2007 (this was daycare #3 within 7 months). We had to pull Max out of his previous daycare (Little Kids Daycare Center in Oakville, Ontario) after one of his daycare teachers swore at him and then locked him in a closet for getting in her way while she was trying to wash the floor. The other teachers witnessed this and did not report it until over two weeks had passed. The teacher was fired, Children's Aid was called in - it was all horrible, heartbreaking and messy. Adding insult to injury, the daycare owner told us that it had all happened so quickly, Max hadn't even known what had happened. The woman from Children's Aid who investigated told me that what had actually happened was that Max wasn't sleeping during nap time, and he was running around while this teacher was washing the floor. She said "this f**king kid is always getting in my f**king way" and then picked him up, put him in the closet and slammed the door. The other teachers heard the door slam, and looked around, realizing that she had put Max in the closet. When they opened the door he was cowering in the corner, holding his head in his hands, sobbing. He was only 18 months old. The pictures in this post were taken the day before the incident.I couldn't bring myself to keep Max at this daycare. We had been on the waiting list at Max's current daycare, and I called them to find out where he was on their list. I told them about what had happened, and god bless them, they found a way to make a spot for Max immediately. Scott and I were candid with the staff about Max's challenges and what we had been through. At the time, we suspected that he was on the Autistic Spectrum, but we really had no idea how his development would progress. He had to wear a helmet when they took him outside to play because he would get so upset he would throw himself on the ground. He had major issues with transitions, couldn't sit for circle time, made very little eye contact, and spent long periods of time banging his head on the walls. Through all of these challenging behaviours, Max's teachers treated him with respect, cared for him, worked with him, and took great joy on reporting back to us when he showed progress.

Max will be turning 3 years old in April. The Toddler room he is in at daycare is supposed to top out at 30 months old. Because of Max's recent diagnosis of Autism, and the army of therapists he sees on a weekly basis, we decided not to implement any more changes in his life until things settle down. The Toddler room has 2 teachers, 10 kids, and the room itself is fairly small. The Intermediate room has 3 teachers, 24 kids, and is huge, with a lot of stimulation. As each month passes, more of the toddlers move down to the "big" room. I see these children, Max's "peers", outside, in the cloak room, and running around the big Intermediate room, and my heart aches for Max. He should be with these kids, not with kids half his age. But is that what is right for him, or is that me being selfish?

After much discussion with Max's daycare teachers, and the Resource Consultant and Occupational Therapist from Halton that work with Max, we decided to work towards preparing Max to transition into the Intermediate room. While most kids would have a couple of visits to their new room and then move permanently, with Max it will take months of planning. His Resource Consultant, Occupational Therapist and Toddler Room teacher all take Max down for each of his visits. We want to make sure that Max has a positive experience each and every time he visits. Visits have been cancelled when Max was having a "bad" day. His Toddler Room teacher is there to help him participate in activities like circle time, crafts, and free play. His Occupational Therapist is there to observe Max and anticipate any new sensory issues he may have in this room. His Resource Consultant also observes him, and works with his teachers to find strategies to help them integrate Max into their programming. This little boy has the support of so many professionals, I know that when we finally make the move, he will be successful.

Preparing Max for "the big move" is only half of the work. The other half is preparing the children, and just as important, their parents, for Max's integration into the Intermediate room. In Part Two of this post I'll write about our strategies for talking with Max's new friends about Max so that they can better understand his behaviour, and hopefully still make an effort to include him in their play and activities.

CVS Caremark - All Kids Can

Thursday, March 12, 2009

American Idol: Michael Jackson week.

I'm late to the party once again, but now that we're in the Top 13, I'm going to write a more comprehensive review of each of the performances. Once I get my Flip I may even video blog while I watch the show (then you'll really hear my uncensored thoughts!).

This week was Michael Jackson week. My goodness, America, y'all are a forgiving bunch with very short memories! While I agree that Michael is a talented guy, I'm not sure that if I were the producer of American Idol, I'd feel comfortable throwing this much support behind someone who has dangled his child out a hotel window and may or may not be a card carrying member of NAMBLA. Don't get me wrong, I have Thriller on my ipod...just, wow.

Lil Rounds - The Way You Make Me Feel: I knew she would tear it up and she didn't disappoint. Not sure about the white pants though. It looked like she had a pair of sweat socks jammed down the front and her butt looked as wide as a pie wagon. I lovely pie wagon, but a pie wagon nonetheless.

Scott MacIntyre - Keep The Faith: While I think this guy is a good piano player, I find his voice kind of boring, and his performance uninspired. I know, not cool to hate on the blind guy, but he ain't no Stevie, 'nuff said.

Danny Gokey - PYT: Danny has shades of Michael McDonald in his voice. I dig his vibe and he is very musical. He never over-sings, he's aways on pitch and he has stylin' glasses.

Michael Sarver - You're Not Alone: I find this guy kind of white bread and boring. I bet he got a lot of votes though.

Jasmine Murray - I'll Be There: I really dig this girl's voice and I think it is a shame that she got voted out so early. I never thought she would win the whole enchilada, but to go out in the first show while Anoop gets to stay? Seems like she got screwed to me.

Kris Allen - Remember the Time: This guy is super talented. He was a big Top 13 surprise in my opinion as he got almost no air time leading up to the Top 36. I loved his guitar playing and he did a great interpretation of this song, really making it his own.

Allison Iraheta - Give In To Me: Scott calls Allison "his girl", and I can`t blame him for rooting for her. She seems to have the whole package and she really made this song her own. I'm still trying to figure out how a girl that young manages to sing like she's been drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes for thirty years.

Anoop Desai - Beat It: I wish he would have picked a song that could have shown off his voice. "Beat It" is a pretty easy song melodically and the arrangement didn't give him any room to make it his own. Based on this performance, I would have sent him home, so he got very lucky. I doubt he'll get another free pass next week.

Jorge Nuñez - Never Can Say Goodbye: I found this song cheesy and boring. I'm not surprised he got voted out, and I'm happy I won't have to listen to him next week.

Megan Corkrey - Rockin' Robin: I am partial to this girl. She is pitchy as hell, but there is something quirky and lovable about her, and she has that great smile - I'm rooting for her.

Adam Lambert - Black or White: This guy has a voice that could do anything. I agree with the judges that he is completely relevant, and he can work a stage. I'm guessing he'll be around for a while.

Matt Giraud - Human Nature: This guy is pretty good, but I think his nerves got the better of him. He is a good piano player, but he uses it as a crutch to make up for a voice that isn't all there. He is definitely soulful, but he ain't no JT.

Alexis Grace
- Dirty Diana: I agreed with the judges that she over sang. It was a good song choice though and she made it her own. I'd love to hear her reign it in a bit. With the power she has she could really hit it out of the park if she can figure out a way to get more control.

Minus the medley, this is one of the better top 12/13's I've seen on American Idol. It will be interesting to see who gets better week to week and who has already topped out. My hope is that the girls can hold their own, or else we'll get a repeat of last season.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 4 (and sick as a dog).

This is my Jann Arden pose. Do you liked it? If you don't get it then you have never been blessed with a round face and tried to take a self-portrait without looking like you have a double chin. The only way to truly be successful is to get an aerial view, or do a close up and make it all artistic and blurry. Or you can hold your face, or just obstruct it altogether. Hey, whatever works, eh? But I digress.

I have been sick as a dog this week. I think Julie over at Mabel's Labels gave me this virus via email. She'll deny it up and down, but how else could I have gotten it (besides my own two germy kids, I mean). You'd think that with all the coughing I've been doing, and laughing at skinny girls crying, I'd have burned a bunch of calories and therefore dropped the pounds, but sadly, it isn't so. I only lost a half a pound this week, and I am hovering at 170.1 lbs. Seems like the 160's are just teasing me - so near yet so far. I think I'll go get a haircut and see if that puts me over the edge. Is that cheating? Also, these breasts of mine, milky goodness and all, likely weigh about 5 pounds each. Can I deduct ten pounds from my total weight or is that cheating too?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Max Update.

We have been working with Max on how to play appropriately with trucks for over 6 months. He used to push them behind him, drop them over his shoulders, or throw them in frustration. By modeling appropriate play, helping him by playing "hand over hand" so that he pushed the trucks forward, encouraging him to take turns, and doling out tremendous praise when he followed through, we had a breakthrough. Hooray indeed! He also repeated the word "breakfast" this morning after Scott told him it was "time for breakfast".

I also wanted to share this funny video of Max turning me in circles and eating cookies. He has a wonderful sense of humour and cracks us up on a daily basis. One of the things that gives us a lot of hope for him is that he is such a happy little boy. Rare is the day that he doesn't come bounding in the house with a smile on his face. Even though I didn't get much sleep last night, these little steps towards the light will carry me through. Good job Max!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Computer Issues Interruptus.

Apologies for the lack of a meaningful post today. My effing laptop is not working. I guess it is time for its annual new mother board installation. Piece of crap. Just great. Now I get to drag my sick ass into my least favourite place so they can jerk me around. Growl.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

America's Next Top Model: Lots of Skinny Girls Crying!

Based on the America's Next Top Model (ANTM) premiere, it looks like it is going to be an awesome season. We have a burn victim, a bootylicious Nascar driver's ex girlfriend, a snotty African, the requisite old chick (yes, 25 is downright elderly in modeling), a freaky-eyed girl, street preacher, and a bunch of skinny, tall waifs. And there were tears, oh yes, there were tears. As someone who has battled my weight since before I can remember, I LOVE seeing skinny girls cry. Love. It. Nothing is more entertaining to me. Except maybe if they are also ghetto-fabulous and have crazy green fluorescent coloured fake finger nails to boot. That is TV gold.

As always, it's really hard to say who will win, but my favourite is this week's photo winner, Freaky-Eyed-Allison. I think she could be very high fashion, the only challenge I can see is that she isn't really a Cover Girl material. I think her lipstick ad would look more like a teen horror flick poster. Especially since she has a weird nose bleed fetish (gross). The other model I like is Old-Chick-Celia. My favourite part of the night was when she and Snotty-African-Sandra almost got into it over who was going to sleep where. Thank goodness Street-Preacher-London stepped in and saved the day. She was right - Jesus wouldn't let her sleep on the floor for long.

Sexy Nigel Barker is back on the judging panel, as are snarky Paulina Porizkova and the two Jays. I am still trying to figure out how it is that Canadian Jay manages to get prettier each season. I think he must shellac his hair to get that ken doll effect. Tyra, of course, is as ridiculous as ever. Is it just me or does that pedestal she is standing on during judging get higher each season?

Next week features the model makeovers which means guaranteed tears as hair gets lopped off and weaves get pulled so tight that at least one girl will look like she got a bonus facelift. I can hardly wait.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Max Update: We Have Lift Off!

Max has been showing an extraordinary amount of progress over the past few weeks. His eye contact is increasing to the point of verging on, dare I say, "neurotypical", and the his words are really starting to roll. Last weekend, as we were leaving a birthday party (where he did great), we were taking too long wrapping up, and he took Scott's hand, looked at him, and said "this way". Today in his IBI therapy session with Brian he said "ball please". We have also heard the words "up", "down", "hot", and my favourite "awh geez". That last one is particularly funny because it is what we say instead of swearing. Children truly do figure out the best words, don't they?

In other news, my MPP, Kevin Flynn has set up a call with me for Monday afternoon. Apparently he has an update for me on calls he has put out to Erinoak and Deb Matthews, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, on Max's behalf. I'm guessing that we will be told "sorry, I tried, can't do anything for him", but I'll let you know. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sisterhood of the Traveling Flip Friday.

The Motherhood has started a very cool project called "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Flip". Basically, they have sent out a bunch of Flips to the members of their community to try out. Each member posts their video(s) to The Motherhood, and then sends the Flip on to another blogger who does the same. I was lucky enough to be sent the Flip from Julie at Mabel's Labels. I am linking the videos I made today from my blog, but if you want to see all of them, I suggest you join The Motherhood. I'm going to play a bit more with the Flip this weekend and then send it on to fellow Canadian Dani at Postcards From the Mothership. I am officially addicted to this little gadget. Good thing my birthday is coming up and they are on sale at Amazon.com!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

American Idol: Wild Card Show.

This was by far my favourite show of the top 36. These singers brought their "A" games tonight and did themselves proud. I was thrilled to see Megan Joy Corkrey, Jasmine Murray, Matt Giraud and Anoop Desai make it through to the "top 13". While I am disappointed that Ju'Not Joyner didn't make it, I am relieved that the Tatiana torture is finally over. My dog that girl was annoying.

Now that the show is cast (we've got a blind dude, a Puerto Rican dude, Indian dude, big beefy white dude, and a metro-sexual dude, plus three more sweet crooning white dudes. The ladies include a soul sister, a diva/belter, teen rocker, teen R&B star, and Norah/Joni Jr. Makes for an interesting season. Sadly, Casey Carlson will not be gracing us with her cuteness.

Kanye West will be on next week's show - can't wait to see what that's all about. I'm sure it will be "amazing".

Cam's New Shoes.

As you can see from Cam's dour expression, we take shoes very seriously in the Fickle Feline household. Cameron got her first pair of big girl shoes yesterday - they cost a whopping $50. Seems a bit ridiculous to me that while I haven't gotten new shoes in about 2 years, my kids get new ones constantly. The life of a parent, I tell ya.

More later on American Idol wild cards and America's Next Top Model (aka "I Love to See Skinny Girls Cry").

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesdays: Week 3 (aka "I'm Just Not That Into You").

I have too much on my plate, literally and figuratively. The scale didn't move for me this week (though I suppose I can take solace in the fact that I didn't gain any weight). My temptation is to beat myself up for being a big fat failure, but I think I'll take a pass on that. I feel like "I'm just not that into" this weight loss thing right now, as necessary as it is. I'm juggling a lot, and between managing Max's hectic therapy schedule and having my sleep interrupted every few hours with Cameron wanting to eat, there isn't much left for me. Once again, I am at the bottom of my priority list.

I'm hoping that as the weather warms up (hardy har har, it's been -14 out all week), I'll feel inspired to get outside with the kids for walks. It has been so cold out lately that all I've felt like doing is hibernating. I believe I described it as "colder than a witch's tits" when chatting with my mom the other day. My extra fat has been keeping me warm! Bulky sweaters and wool socks have pushed the thoughts of bathing suit weather right of the radar.

What's my strategy to actually start losing weight, you ask? Well, I think I'm going to lighten up on myself, and try to just take it a day at a time. This is a tough week because Scott's parents (who help with the kids during the week so I don't have to cart them both around to therapy) are basking in the sun in Jamaica. If I lose weight, it's probably going to be because I don't have any time to eat! Today alone is nuts. Max has IBI from 2-4, our Behaviour Consultant is visiting us at home from 4:30 - 5:30, and then I have to get to night school for the Learning Journey into Autism course I'm taking from 6:30 - 9:30. That's a busy day, and my Wonder Woman costume is at the dry cleaners.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gender Bending & Hand-Me-Ups.

I always promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those moms that embarrassed her kids in front of their friends. I'd be understanding when they said they needed a certain type of jeans, shoes, whatever, and I'd never chase them around the block demanding they put their coats on. But I may have crossed the line today.

Let me back up a bit. Max is almost at the point of being too big for his car seat. He's nearing 40 pounds and he is so tall, the straps on his Cosco convertible 5 point harness car seat are snug. Cameron is almost at the point of being too big for her infant car seat. The solution here is obvious - Cameron will move into Max's old car seat and we will get Max a bigger car seat. After doing some research, I discovered that the safest thing for Max is still a 5 point harness (I don't trust him to stay put in a regular booster seat with a seat belt), and the car seat with the best reviews bar none, was the Britax Marathon (the weight limit is 65 pounds). After a little more digging, it became apparent that this car seat is fairly expensive, and I'd need to find a deal on it if we were going to be able to swing it. I searched for "cheap Britax", "Britax sale", "Britax closeout" and I finally found one for $179.99 USD and free shipping. The catch? It's got flowers on it. I wrestled with this for about 10 seconds and found that it didn't bother me that much. Max is too young to know that his car seat is "girly" and in a few years, he'll grow out of it and it will be Cameron's. Technically, this could be considered a "hand-me-up".

I sent Scott and IM with the link and asked him if he was okay with it. Being on the tight budget we are, he couldn't find a reason to justify spending $30 USD more per car seat just to get a more masculine colour. Before I could second guess myself, I placed the order and had them shipped to my brother's house in Ithaca. We are now the proud owners of two Ashley Floral Britax Marathon car seats. And don't you dare make fun of Max if you see him in it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cameron Elizabeth: 10 months old.

My dearest baby Cameron,

Damn, girl, where have the past 10 months gone? It seems to me that they have flown by, or maybe I am just sleep deprived. Sleep. We need to talk about this. You still aren't anywhere close to sleeping through the night, and I'm going back to work in 2 months. Time to get your act together kiddo. I know, booby is fine dining and when it is so close, who can resist? I'm here to tell you, resist! Sleep, please. It really is a magical thing, I am a big fan, from what I recall.

Cameron, you are my little "pickle" (all 19 pounds of you). Your smile could light up the GTA in the next great power outage. You are working on your fourth tooth (top right) and it is bothering you something fierce. Right now your grin is a little lopsided, but I predict that tooth will show its sharp little self to the world by the end of the week. When you smile, your whole face smiles. You make your dad crack up, and you can even make me laugh (and I'm a tough crowd).

You are also very, very loud. When you get going with your "GAH GAH GAH" you can drown out the television set. Many a Saturday date night movie has been paused as you tell us great tales of woe and hardship, competing with whatever DVD it is we have rented for the night. Your brother gets a little upset when you tell the world of your problems, and he also chimes in. Quite a symphony, really.

It seems that your favourite food of the moment (besides booby), is Cheerios. I do believe that you would live on booby and Cheerios if you had your way. You also like to bite me to let me know that you are done with the booby, and throw your Cheerios to signal completion of your meal. These are both what I like to call "Career Limiting Moves". Seriously, the whole biting thing? Not cool. And the throwing of the Cheerios, while it does provide you with a convenient "floor snack" later on in the day, is not appreciated by the one person in this house who cleans the floors (that would be me).

You are extremely interested in this walking thing, which I am not very happy about. Mobility is overrated. Now that crawling has been mastered, and you race after your big brother (much to his chagrin), you seem hell bent on getting around upright. I am guessing you will be walking by your birthday (but don't feel the need to rush).

Little girl, you are a fantastic communicator. When you like something, you hold your hands together and look at me gleefully. When you don't like something, ain't a soul in the world that isn't 100% aware on where you stand on the matter. When you want booby, you dive bomb my chest, and when you want to play, you grab my mouth and stick your fingers up my nose (turns out, this is also an effective way to wake Mom up in the morning).

You love taking baths, and now that you insist on getting very messy at mealtime and decorating your curls with assorted fruits and vegetables, you get a bath almost every day. When you are in the bath, you like to chomp on your rubber ducky and splash mommy. You don't like getting dressed though - unfortunately for you, it is winter and I cannot allow you to barrel roll through the house in your birthday suit (as much as I'm sure you would like to). This seems to be a running theme in our house lately (your brother whipped all his clothes off yesterday as well).

While we never doubted that you would be a sassy little girl, you are also one smart little cookie. When I say "clap" you clap your hands. You are very interested in the world around you and love to be taken new places (you got to go out for brunch with mommy on Saturday and to a birthday party on Sunday). But no matter where we go, you are always looking for mommy, making sure that I am near. It's nice to be your #1 choice, Cam. I'm enjoying it while it lasts!

I love squeezing your baby chubs, stroking your cheek when you breastfeed, and cuddling with you in the morning before you wake up. When you fall asleep, and I carry you up to your bed, I swear you are my little angel. I am trying to soak up every day because time is moving too fast. In the not too distant future you will be spending your days with daycare teachers and other little babies just like yourself (though they won't be as cute as you). It will be good for both of us, but hard too. Until then, let's treasure our last few months of mommy-Cam time. And let's get some sleep while we're at it.