Category Archives: Family

Hug a librarian

Apparently yesterday was “Hug a Librarian Day“. 

My kid at the Frances Morrison Library in Saskatoon

My kid at the Frances Morrison Library in Saskatoon


I didn’t get around to hugging any librarians (though I know and have huge respect for several – I’m looking at you, Michelle, Krista, Sonya and Betty), but I wanted to write a post today about how the library has tangibly changed the quality of life for my family.

If you dig back into the archives of this blog, you’ll see that a few years ago my mom was diagnosed with something called Mycobacterium avium complex, or Lady Windermere Syndrome. It was good news at the time, because it was treatable and curable, as opposed to the fourth stage lung cancer they initially thought it was. Three and a half years later, she still has it, and after a few very intense and long courses of treatment, she’s just not responding. Her lungs are shot. They’ve been described by her doctor as old underwear – no elasticity left.

As such, she doesn’t get out much. She’s around 85 pounds and is susceptible to illness, so big shopping trips or outings are just not a good idea.

Last summer when we were visiting her, I took her to the library and signed her up for a card. She’d had one years ago, but it had lapsed and she hadn’t got around to renewing it.

Since then, I’ve taken on the role as her own librarian – going online, choosing and requesting books for her that the library then puts on hold. My sister, who lives in the same city as my mom, then goes and picks up a stack of new books and returns the finished ones. Since September, I’d wager she’s read at least 150 books, and that number is probably conservative. She’s close to reading a book a day.

These books, which range in genre and era, have changed her life. They take her places she can’t physically go. They give her something to think about beyond what’s outside of her window or the rattle in her chest. They’re keeping her mind sharp and her wits intact. They make her laugh and keep her riveted and always give her something to talk about. They keep her company while my sister’s at work and the temperature is -40 degrees Celsius (it really is that cold in Saskatoon).

So, while I didn’t hug a librarian yesterday, I’m so thankful for them and for libraries. My mom is, too.




Filed under Book Challenge, Books, cancer, Family, Friends, Library, weather

Born This Way

Earlier this week, Chad asked my opinion on how to respond to someone via email.

Without getting into details, he was struggling with a response, while I told him to ignore it and delete it. At this point, Scarlett piped up.

“Mom, dad’s acting with integrity right now and you’re not.”

For real.

My own kid took me down several notches. She was right, too.

Yesterday, at Scarlett’s school assembly she was presented with an award by her teacher for showing integrity, after her class performed Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. She introduced the performance with another little guy from her class. She said that integrity means being yourself and not doing what other friends try and tell you. Make your own decisions.

Kudos to her amazing teacher for ingraining this message into these kids at such a young age. I hope that Scarlett continues to embrace her own integrity, and respects and loves people for who they are.

I’d like to think that Chad and I taught her to have integrity, but seriously, I think she was born this way.

Here’s her performance (apologies for the crappy Flip camera quality. Scarlett’s the redhead with the blue dress and the white sweater):

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Music, Parenting

Dusk-Til-Dawn, Family Style

Last night we packed up the car with a ton of blankets, snacks and pjs (for the kid) and went to a drive in. It was a triple feature — not quite a “dusk-til-dawn”, but pretty close.

In the true tradition of multi-feature drive in experiences, the owners pieced together a disjointed, and terrible collection of movies. In this case, it was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Prom, and I Am Number Four. Obviously, the draw was Pirates, but in our case the clincher for us parking in front of screen number one was that they were all rated PG. With a kid in tow, we actually exhibited some parental guidance and avoided the other screens with movies we both wanted to see.

But going to a drive in isn’t really about movies at all. It’s about the experience. The making of a nest of blankets in the back seat, the giant drinks in the car cup holders, and the visit to the circa-1965 playground directly in front of the screen, which features a pure metal slide at a solid 60-degree angle and a side rail that stands about two inches off the side (yes, we saw a 4 year old crash off the side about 5 feet from the ground).

This was our second drive in in about 11 years. We tried to go when Scarlett was two, thinking she’d fall asleep immediately, but after trying to watch The Bourne Ultimatum with her climbing on my head and honking the horn with her feet, we let it go.

This time, she was thrilled. Could she tell you anything about the plot of Pirates? Probably not, but neither could I. But all day today she talked about how it was such a special and fun night.

It made me think a lot about going to the Sundown Drive In in Saskatoon. Here are a few of the drive-in movies that I sat through back in the late 80s/early 90s:

That’s all I can think of right now. Remember anything else from the days of my Lada at the drive-in (I’m looking at you, AT, EG  and JC)? Please comment.



Filed under Family, Friends, Movies, Parenting

My Girl


Six years ago tonight, I hadn’t yet met my daughter.

At this point, I had been ready to go for about 40 hours, had two (yes, two) epidurals, my water broken, an internal monitor attached to my baby’s head and about 10 different nurses, who literally would look after me for a shift, go home to sleep and come back the next day to find me in the same place. I’m sure it wasn’t the world’s longest labour, but it sure felt like it.

After a total of 49 hours, my beautiful baby was born.

I will never forget the moment I first looked into her eyes. I had this clear, powerful thought: “I know you.”

I did.

Throughout my pregnancy, Scarlett and I would chat. She’d give me a good kick in my side, and I’d poke her back. Every morning before I got out of bed we poked each other back and forth, and it was one of my favourite parts of my pregnancy.

So when I looked at my precious little girl for the very first time, it felt like a reunion and a revelation all at once. And the most powerful surge of pure love I’ve ever felt.

Yep. She was mine.

Every day since I’ve been humbled and amazed that this is my kid.

She has the best parts of Chad and the best parts of me and a whole bunch of parts that are way better than both of us. She’s smart, beautiful, funny as hell, caring, loving, insightful, and someone I’d want to hang around with even if I wasn’t her mom.

Tomorrow my baby turns six. Six is scary to me. It means Grade One and recess with the big kids. But it also means even better conversations and a clearer glimpse in to the personality that is so wonderfully developing.

Tonight, as she was getting ready for bed she expressed some concern with turning six. How could she be sure that it was going to be as great as being five? And how sad is it that she will never, ever be five again? I’m pretty sure I didn’t have such clear thoughts as a five year old. Or as a thirty year old.

So happy birthday, my beautiful, wonderful girl. John Lennon said it best when he wrote: “Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better.”



Filed under Family, Parenting

Thanks for being born

To my wonderful husband, Chad.

It’s your birthday today, and once again I suck. I bought you a whole lot of nothing as a present because a) you said you didn’t want anything and b) you’re the world’s hardest person to shop for. So your totally un-commercial gift that you can’t return is a blog post where I tell the world why I’m happy you were born.

You truly are the best person I’ve ever met. You don’t have a mean bone in your body and almost never even get mad, even when you probably should. You tirelessly tidy up after the tornado that is me and understand why the blankets have to be a certain way before I can even think about falling asleep. You let your daughter put face paint on your tummy, turning your scar into a rainbow with a unicorn frolicking on your navel because it made her happy. You wait until I’m in bed before playing video games you need to review so you can spend time with me. You let the kids in Scarlett’s class call you “Coconut Head” and chase you around because they think it’s the funniest thing ever. You wore the TV Hat at Disney World even though it was ridiculous. You always take out the recycling because you know I hate stickiness. You tell me you love me at the end of every phone call. You have never, ever picked a fight with me and have shut me down the times when I have. You are always an arm’s length or a phone call away, and I know with my whole heart that you would do anything for me. I’d do the same for you, baby.

You make me happy, Chad Sapieha.

You’re the best husband, the best dad and the best friend. Ever.

I love you! Happy birthday!


Filed under Family, marriage, Parenting

To the moms who matter

It’s Mother’s Day, and a day I tend reflect on the moms in my life, including my own beautiful, stellar mom.

Today, I send love and respect to all of the moms I know.

To the moms who work far too much and spend their days feeling guilty and their nights cobbling together school projects, squeezing in haircuts and organizing everyone’s lives.

To the moms who stay home with their kids and worry about coddling them and feel guilty for wanting adult conversation.

To the moms with kids who challenge them in ways they never imagined.

To the moms with perfect kids who are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

To the moms whose babies were conceived during one night stands or on wedding nights or after a bottle of Shiraz or following months of injections or in a petrie dish.

To moms who battle the baby blues.

To moms who breast feed and to those who don’t, and especially to those who don’t judge the moms that do the opposite of what works for them.

To moms who literally cross the earth for their children — to China or Haiti or South Africa or Ethiopia.

To moms who aren’t afraid to admit that sometimes it’s really freaking hard.

To moms who fall in love all over again every time they see their child.

To moms who have amazing partners and to those who don’t.

To women who dread Mother’s Day because it’s another reminder of how they aren’t moms.

And finally, to my own mom, who lost her own mom on Mother’s Day, and who has given me immeasurable love and the world’s best example of how to do this amazing, incredible and terrifying job. I love you.

And now, some sage words from a great mom, Tina Fey from her book Bossypants — a prayer for her daughter. If you haven’t read this, go get it!

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

 May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Bea……uty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


Filed under Family, Friends, Parenting, Uncategorized

10 Things

Yeah, I’m back. I admit it: I’m a fairweather blogger. Actually, I’m more of a crapweather blogger, but what of it?

When life gets stressful, I make lists. As such, here are 10 things that I’m really looking forward to (in no particular order):

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Even though it’s in 3D (which I hate, thank you very much), I can’t wait for the final installment of the film franchise. Harry, Hermione, Ron, the final battle, Bellatrix getting taken down by Mrs. Weasley–it’s got to be amazing.

2. The Mother’s Day Tea at the kiddo’s school. Here’s her performance from last year:

3. The Royal Wedding. When Charles and Diana got married, I woke up in the middle of the night and sat glued to the TV in my dad’s La-Z-Boy chair. I obsessively collected Royal Wedding paraphenalia including Charles & Di paper dolls and every hardcover book on the couple to ever hit the bargain table at Coles. I am so watching this wedding.

4. The movie version of The Help. I really loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie. Emma Stone is a gem and I think she’ll make a great Skeeter.

5. Mommy/Daughter Week. Every summer, Scarlett and Chad spend a week hitting every theme park in the province. This year, I’m countering Daddy/Daughter Week with Mommy/Daughter Week. It won’t involve roller coasters, but it may involve manicures and fancy picnics. I can’t wait.

6. A visit from my mom. It’s been over six months since she was diagnosed with MAC, but she’s still not able to fly. We were hoping she’d be able to come for Easter, but we’re now keeping our fingers crossed for a May visit.

7. Berry season. I can’t wait for all of my favourite berries to be in season. I’m tired of paying premium for the only fruit that doesn’t make me projectile vomit or erupt into hives.

8. Tom’s weather. I bought two pair of Tom’s shoes last summer, and wore the hell out of them. Once I can feel convinced that it won’t snow again, I’m picking up two more.

9. Mad Men Season 4. We watch TV on Blu-ray or DVD, so we’re always way behind. I don’t have to wait long for this one, though–we’re starting it tomorrow.

10. The weekly meeting I attend every Friday at 2:00. It’s hands down the best workday hour of the week.

I feel better already. What are you looking forward to?


Leave a comment

Filed under allergies, Books, Family, Friends, Movies, Parenting, TV, Uncategorized, weather