It’s true: Cheaty Monkey and I have been on a break. I may or may not have cheated on it just a little over at Today’s Parent; but, we have made amends and are back together, at least for today. It’s not like I have anything important to say here. Major events in the world and the fact that I haven’t written here for so long make personal blogging seem even more self-indulgent. But, there are one or two insignificant things to share here.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve sent Joey, now 9, to four different dance studios. And back in June, unsatisfied with yet another dance recital, I bought tickets to my old dance studio‘s year-end show—just to prove that awesome, So You Think You Can Dance-calibre studios still exist. And man, did my old studio deliver. The kids were flying, toes were pointed, legs were high, chins lifted, knees straight. There were abs happening, biceps and those singular thigh muscles that only develop from working hard on your ballet turn-out. The choreography was as spectacular as it was then—in the 80s, 90s, golden age of that studio, when I was there.

Photo via my Instagram (haleyoverland), Oct. 24. See? I have been Nostalgic!

Photo via my Instagram, Oct. 24. See? I have been nostalgic.

Going to that show brought back one of the most creative and exciting times of my life. I was part of some of the most exquisite lyricals, most jaw-dropping tap, jazz and hip hop numbers, and I performed solos across the country. My mom was one of the original dance moms; and my teacher the original Abby Lee Miller.

abby-lee-miller

I danced three days a week, all evening, not including rehearsals. My mad but amazing teachers advised us to sleep in the splits, go to tanning salons (which, thankfully, I didn’t do), and at 14 years old, I was instructed to lose 30 pounds, among other fun stuff. Later, I’d go on to take adult classes with the likes of Neve Campbell, I’d choose university over a job with a Canadian “Fly Girl” company, and I’d teach for a while until I turned fully to my next life, in the Ivory Tower of academia.

Kids in Joey’s dance classes struggle to do a single pirouette; but we were doing quadruple pirouettes at her age, switch splits, fouettes and fancy acrobatics.

I’ve tried, but I can’t give her the experience that shaped me big time. And I can’t bring back that experience. At all.

Even if I just wanted to watch some of my old solos, or the best dances we performed—to Janet Jackson, C&C Music Factory, The Wiz, Madonna—I’d have to resurrect someone’s old VHS player. It’s all just gone. *Poof.* Like a Snap Chat conversation.

The only place it exists for me is in my mind—intricate pieces of the choreography still, the music, the people.

"Strike a Pose." Photo via my Instagram (haleyoverland). Oct. 19.

“Strike a Pose.” Photo via my Instagram. Oct. 19.

To replace the dancing, I turned to the most A-type yoga I could find: authentic Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with David Robson, who is known for being hardcore, perhaps as hardcore as Abby Lee Miller, only ethical and, well, ripped! I sailed along through Primary and into very advance poses of Second Series. And then suddenly, I got injured—a pinched nerve, like a perpetual sword in my shoulder blade, my own fault—and what I see now as the exhilarating dance-like performance elements of the more advance poses was also gone for the time being.

And I’ve never felt so stuck.

In these last two weeks, in which I’ve been focused on healing, I’ve been learning to let it all go and just accept where I am—which is, in large part, a result of that golden age. My exciting, creative, traumatizing dancing years made me a serious high achiever and (notwithstanding a few years of not-letting-go of pregnancy weight) gave me the strong, healthy body I have today—indeed, my thigh muscles are those of a dancer, not of a yogi.

I didn’t realize I hadn’t really taken off those old dancing shoes until this crazy new phase of my life began, likely with a certain milestone birthday. Didn’t know what I needed was to walk, not away from who I used to be, but beyond it maybe—with a dancer’s poise, flexibility, grace and strong legs.

But hey, if you see me in da club (or, well, anywhere with dancing)? You may want to give me lots of space.


I had planned on blogging sooner, but, as those of you who keep up with me on Twitter know, our beloved Maarge has been really ill.

It started last week. All of a sudden, as I was leaving the house to take the kids to school, Maarge flipped over on her side, started foaming at the mouth, and seemed to be struggling over and over again to get up. When she finally got up, she just stared blankly for about 20 – 30 seconds. I dropped the kids off at school and immediately called the vet. They told me to bring her over as soon as possible.

Maarge was happy at the vet, purring too loudly for them to check her heart. So they had to take her to another room. And I sat alone in silence.

When they returned with her, she came right up to me and (this cat-who-doesn’t-kiss) kissed me delicately just below my lower lip.

After that vet visit, which ended optimistically because of Maarge’s happy mood, everything went downhill. What followed was seizure after seizure — each one more aggressive and violent than the last. It was horrific, disturbing and messy. And on top of it all, I was struggling with a brutal cold, Josh was away, my parents were away, and the kids were sick. I can’t believe I got through that madness.

For the next two nights I didn’t sleep because Maarge kept having seizures beside my bed, under my bed, around my bed. I waited patiently through each one to see if she would survive, watching and waiting as she stared, drooled, foamed and urinated.

When I talk to people about this, they often tilt their heads, look at me with sympathy, and ask, “Do you think maybe, I mean, I know it’s hard, but do you think you should maybe put her down?”

And you know, I asked the vet the same question. The morning after that first all-nighter with Maarge, I took her to the vet with the expectation that this might be it for her. But they said no. At her age (almost 16), it’s likely she has a brain tumour. So we could put her through exhaustive tests — MRIs and cat scans (ohh, I just got that terrible pun now…) to get to the bottom of this. But that’s not the goal. If they were to find a tumour, would we operate on her at her age? No. All I want to do is stop the seizures. I want to see her get fat, for once, sleep, purr, and just go in peace.

Yes, my goal right now is to let her die with dignity. It could be a week from now; it could be two years. My meticulous Maarge (it’s really spelled MAAARGE! but I’m so tired…) doesn’t deserve to die a mess like this. Although she’s ravenous and lethargic from the anti-seizure medication I now have to give her around the clock (until her every-12-hour pill kicks in), she’s beginning to clean herself again, she’s started lifting her head and trilling again when I walk by her, and she’s purring. As long as she’s happy, she’s not going anywhere.

Maarge has been my pretty, creepy little shadow for all these years: through university, my engagement, marriage, my crazy pregnancies, my children, new jobs, new homes, new cats, old cats, new dogs. Watching. Witnessing it all. And when I’m away from her, I see her in the shadows, creeping around in my peripheral vision. I hear her purring and trilling.

She’s the first pet I got on my own; I took her with me to university in London, Ontario, the first day I got her. She’s been a key character in this blog from the beginning. So you know, losing her is hard.

For now I’m going to spend any energy I can spare giving back to her for all she’s given me. Which means wiping her down even though she gets uncharacteristically ornery!

And look, she’s looking straight at the camera for the first time, maybe ever (I just took this photo this evening)….

MAAARGE!

Love…
xo Haley-O

 

 


Something’s shifting. Maybe it’s temporary, or maybe, more likely, I’m really tired.

I haven’t blogged in over a week and, by self-imposed law, I never miss a week! But it’s what I needed. Even today I feel like closing this Macbook right this second, and just being quiet. Working as an online editor means writing — a lot. And I love writing, so I don’t forget for one minute that this is, to borrow the Monkey’s favourite phrase, the job “of my dreams.” But it also means that I’m on my computer a lot.

This weekend I couldn’t stomach turning on my computer. And I think I still need one more night, at least, not to type on this keyboard, not to look at this bright screen. To read, to splash in the freezing cold lake — youch! To wear my crocs, sip a grande soy-no-water-tazo chai without guilt and despite challenge. To play soccer with the Rascal and Betty White. To practise my backwards somersaults with the Monkey in the grass. To be a mom and just celebrate that with my mom, my sister and sister-in-law at a cottage-country spa — thanks to our husbands. Happy Mother’s Day to us, indeed, and to all you Gorgeous moms out there!

I had a massage for the first time in years at the spa this weekend. The massage therapist said I was crazy tight around my forearms and shoulder blades — “Are you on the computer a lot?” Yes. Forearms.

Tomorrow I leave for yoga early. And I think I’ll wear something sparkly. I’m just so freaking malleable, so easily swayed, definitely nervous, and wracked with frustrating OCD lately. It comes around faster these days — or maybe I just notice it more. It’s tough battling this thing without medication sometimes. But I’m determined. Partly because my OCD makes me not want to pee meds into our lakes and oceans….

But the yoga helps a lot. And writing it out helps. And being open and laughing about it helps. And taking a break helps.

And so, silence. For at least a little while. So I can collect myself (again) and relax and not perform and enjoy my work and then turn it off and get some sleep and do what I do for me.

Something sparkly.

You know how I love to write? It seems I also love to take pictures. And I’ve really enjoyed loading these up here for you this evening. So here’s another story for the road — no words.

Thanks, as always, for being here.

Love!

xo Haley-O


When I was around eleven years old, my parents took my brother, sister and me on a boating excursion. We stayed on a big houseboat. My sister and I slept head-to-foot in a narrow bottom bunk bed, my brother got the top bunk, and we all ate and drank out of red-and-white plastic dishes. My dad wore a sailor’s hat, and my mom wore light, large-rimmed glasses and barrettes in her hair. We were the picture of leisure.

Until we got back on land. The parking lot a bed of stones. Ripe for throwing. At my sister. In the stomach. Or so my brother said. Bad aim. MY MOUTH. MY TOP RIGHT FRONT CENTRE TOOTH. Broken. Badly.

My brother got his allowance taken away, and he lost his TV privileges for a week. I, on the other hand, got a bonding on my tooth, years of tooth anxiety (since that bonding kept spontaneously breaking off at, of course, the most inopportune times), AND 10+ root canals and other surgeries — I stopped counting after the 10th, but trust me when I tell you I know every endodontist in Toronto. It was what my brother likes to call, “the gift that keeps on giving.” So not fair.

Two days ago, I learned that the gift will give no more. ALAS, I am losing my FRONT TOOTH.

It’s going to be a lo-ho-hong process. Within the next month, after many, MANY consultations, I’ll have my front tooth knocked out, bone surgery and gum surgery to make this thing perfect. In the end, I’ll have a permanent implant put in, which will apparently be GORJ. But, again, it’s a long process. While my gums and bone heal and prepare for the implant for nine months — ARE YOU READY FOR THIS (if you haven’t already heard me exploding about it all over twitter)? — I will be wearing what I’ve heard called a “flap,” “flipper,” or DENTURE in place of the tooth. This wouldn’t be so bad…, IF ONLY I DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE IT OUT AT NIGHT!

And, of course, I’m going to the BlogHer conference in August, sharing a room with other bloggers…. I better not drink ANYTHING. Because if my toothless grin ends up on the internets I don’t know what I’ll do.

A-ny-way.

That was Tuesday. The weirdest day of my life. That same day, I got a gap in my front yard to match the impending one in my mouth — the universe, like all my friends online and off, poking fun at me. (I was way late getting my camera out.) WEIRD….

That same day, I took the Monkey and Rascal to the YoGabbaGabba show at the Elgin Theatre (with EMMA, Sandra “MAMALOOPER” and their adorable kids). And YoGabbaGabba is, like, a trip on TV, let alone LIVE. WEIRD….

I played FREEZE with Chris Murphy from the band SLOAN. WEIRD….

From YoGabbaGabba, I learned Rascal has a new dance move: the stripper hands-slicking-the-hair-back move. Here are the hands on their way down. WEIRD….

After YoGabbaGabba, Emma, Sandra and I bravely walked all five kids to Terroni. Trust me, WEIRD….

…and they were all CRAZY. BIG PROPS to the staff at the Terroni on Queen. After Terroni, we were all zonked. I schlepped the kids four blocks from the restaurant, through the EATON CENTRE, back to our car….

And, when I got back to the car, I found the perfect evidence of the unspeakable kid craziness that transpired at Terroni. A dirty fork — IN MY PURSE. WEIRD….

That night, as Josh and I relaxed in front of the TV and our respective drugs of choice — him Facebook, me Twitter — someone started BANGING on our front door. We both shot up, looked outside, and saw someone run away. I ran to the door, and Josh said “NO,” then ran downstairs, and came back with a BAT, a police flashlight, and a hat. He was a man on a mission. He opened the front door, saw everything looked okay, said, “LOCK THE DOOR,” and stomped after the runaway. I waited nervously by the window, Macbook in hand. I was frozen, though. Shockingly unable to tweet until he was home safe.

Turns out a bunch of teenagers were egging the street. We’re lucky all we got was a loud knock on the door. Apparently, the boys FLED when they saw Josh-O stomping after them with flashlight and bat in hand. Scary dude.

WEIRD!

Tooth out!!!

Love!

xo Haley-O

P.S.: THERE’S A GIVEAWAY AT CHEATY GOODIES. My fave online/offline store and spa PURE + SIMPLE IS BACK! Check it. And enter! Their stuff is the BEST.


I believe it was Sandra, the brillers and beautiful Sandra from Blog Chocolate, who came up with “Flashback Fridays.” And, I give credit where credit IS DUE.

Anyway, I thought maybe we’d try a FLASHBACK FRIDAY today and see how it goes. ‘Sides, I mentioned this story in passing on the gossip blog, and THE CROWD WENT WILD I got comments asking me for more deets (ahem, emphasis on “I GOT COMMENTS” — leave me one there once in a while, will ya? Homegirl needs some props now and then).

I was in high school when this crazy incident went down. Well, I SHOULD have been in high school, but I decided I needed the morning off — so I skipped my first two classes.

I was the only one home. Fam was out doing good-citizeny things. I was lounging in front of the TV. Feet on the coffee table. Loving every minute of my rebel-arse freedom.

DING DONG (that would be my doorbell).

“Ugh,” I thought to myself, “like, leeeeeave me alone! I’m NOT getting it. It’s probably a canvaser or something anyway. NOT getting it. Going upstairs to take a shower. Gotta look good for the fashion-show rehearsal OF which I am the choreographer [yes, Gorgeouses, I had to throw that little factoid in there for you so you'll think I was actually COOL in high school...].”

“It’s okay,” I tell my GORJ, BIG dog Sasha (part collie, part German Shepherd), “Let’s go upstairs.”

As I’m dragging my sorry arse upstairs, the bell rings again.

DING DONG.

“Argh,” I think, “Go away!”

I take off my flannel pajamas. Check naked self in full-length mirror to make sure still skinny. Mmmm, no. Fat today. Oh well. Suddenly, I hear Sasha growling and rustling the blinds in my sister’s bedroom next door. “So unlike her,” I think.

I start walking, nekkid, toward the washroom to shower — the fam was out, so WHY NOT walk around naked? But, then I get a nudge of curiousity. A nudge that takes me BACK into my room where I throw on the giant yellow terrycloth bathrobe I haven’t touched in YEARS.

Sasha keeps growling…. Blinds keep rustling. “So not LIKE her,” I repeat to myself.

I go into my sister’s room. “Sasha! What are you doing, girl?”

My mind didn’t register HIM at all. All I saw was my dog.

But, then. It registered. HE registered. There was a man. Straddling my sister’s window sill. Cutting the window screen with a knife and shushing Sasha. Red gloves with a white stripe along the side. Clear as day (even now).

At first we just stared at each other. Then, I uttered an indescribable “yelp” or “quiver”? And, I RAN.

I RAN down the stairs, and I called…….my father…..at work:

“Hello?” His secretary answers.

“Hello,” I say, “Is Paul there, please?”

“One moment please.”

[I'm on hold. Music. Music. Music. MUSIC#$*@$#!!]

“Hello?” It’s my dad. THANK. GOD.

“HI-DAD-HOW-ARE-YOU?” I (yes, actually) say.

“Fine, Hale, busy, but –”

“HE’S-IN-THE-HOUSE! HE’S-COMING-DOWN-THE-STAIRS!”

“What?”

“Dad, there’s a man in the house! He came in through Dara’s window! He was petting Sasha to get her quiet! WAIT. I HEARD A BANG! I HEARD A BANG!”

“I’m calling 9-1-1! Stay on the phone! Stay on the phone!”

I wait. I tremble and wait and listen. FINALLY, after about 1.5 seconds, my dad says, “Get out of the house! Get out of the house. Maybe turn on the alarm!” Clearly, we were both in shock.

I run to the side door. GRAB A PAIR OF UNDERWEAR. Yes, I GRAB A PAIR OF UNDERWEAR. And, I leave the house. Nearly charging headfirst into hot policeman’s chest. Me. In my big yellow robe and, thankfully, underwear.

They never found the guy. He was never “COMING-DOWN-THE- STAIRS.” But, there was a bang: the police learned that he JUMPED OFF THE ROOF OF OUR GARAGE to escape.

They thoroughly searched the house, fingerprinted my sister’s torn window screen. But found nothing that would lead us to the guy. Except one. Thing. In the shed. In our backyard. They found something. Let’s just say it was NARSTY. It was definitely his. His sh*t. In our shed. Ew.

Obviously, the guy was camping out in our shed the night before and waited to invade until he thought everyone left the house for the day. Amazing what sh*t can reveal, isn’t it….

That afternoon, I went to school for the fashion show rehearsal. Was, of course, totally paranoid that the man with the red gloves was lurking in a nearby bush ready to pounce. But, I never saw him again. Wasn’t even able to identify him in any of the mugshots the police laid out for me in their downtown office the next day….

Of course, everyone at the fashion show rehearsal was all concerned about me: “I heard you were in the shower and some guy was, like, in your house! Are you okay!? Like, omigod!”

By the way? The monkey is now peeing on the toilet…for THIS:

She gets to open it once I say she’s “toilet trained” and done with diapies (during the day) for good. Needless to say, I’m afraid VERY AFRAID for her brother when she finally gets her hands on it….


I caught him! Well, her. I think it was a her. Because when I let her out of the Tupperware container, she landed on her back, and I watched her wiggle until she managed to get back on her feet and waddle escape into the snowy outdoors.

So, here’s what went down.

I got home from the gym (and from studying my old yoga teacher-training notebooks at Starbucks — teaching yoga TOMORROW…talk about EEEEE!). Opened the door. What was Minden doing BEHIND the door? Usually, he greets me IN FRONT of the door.

But, there he was. And, Mama was suspicious….

I looked around the door, and noticed that the monkey’s kitchen was out of place, as was my knapsack full of all the used books I’m going to sell (sigh, one of these days)….

I peeked behind the toy kitchen. Nothing. I peeked behind the knapsack. EEEEEEEEK! SOMETHING! At first, I thought it was ONE OF MINDEN’S TOY MICE…. And, I turned to walk away…. But, the IMAGE of the mouse emerged SO CLEARLY in my mind. Its feet…. Pink feet…. With teeny toes…. Minden’s toy mice DO NOT HAVE THOSE FEET OR TEENY TOES!

EEeeeeEEEeeEEEEeeeEEEeeeEEeEeeeEEEEeeeEeeEEEK!!!

I RAN. TIPPY TOES. SCREEEEEAMING. To the kitchen cabinet. Managed to grab a tall Tupperware container AND the lid. As I was scrambling, MINDEN was chasing the mouse (practically in slow motion…time it WARPED) across the kitchen hallway. They were running BEside me. La la la laaaaa!!!!!

Minden practically had her, but she managed to dodge his grasp and scurry under the kitchen desk — right here….

And, in went I! With my handy dandy Tupperware. “Please don’t touch tail Please don’t touch tail PLEASE DON’T TOUCH TAIL!!!”

EEeeeeEeeeEeEEEeeeEEEEeeeEEEEeeeEEEEeeeEEK!

It took a few seconds of “convincing” and finally…I CAUGHT HER! I screamed the whole time, but I CAUGHT HER! And, in case you don’t believe me, I took a picture (of course)…. Look close:

EEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeeeEEEEEeeeeEEeeeeeEEEeeeEEK!

“Oh, wait…. You’re cute!” I said, “What do I do with you, now?” Of course, I thought of poor Remy trapped in the glass jar….

Widdle mouse must be so scared!

By now the rascal, still in his carseat, was wide awake and CONFUSED because Mama was SCREACHING her arse off! “Back in a minute, Rascal,” I said, as I opened the back door. “What do I do with you?” I kept asking the little mouse, “What do I do with you?” I wanted to give her the best chance for survival (it’s a full-out BLIZZARD here right now), and I wanted her as FAR AWAY FROM MY HOUSE AS POSSIBLE.

So, I’m running to the front of the house, holding a tupperwear container as far away from my body as possible, and…, “HI MAMA!” It’s the monkey. Returning home with it’sgrandma. In time to see me release the mouse into the wild outdoors.

I crossed the street. Opened the container, and gently dumped the mouse onto the sidewalk. She landed on her back. I felt bad. She wriggled back onto front and scampered away. Pretty slowly. She was tired. Minden probably wore her out ALMOST enough to eat her…. Either that, or she was PREGNANT. Poor thing….

I hope she’s okay. She was so cute. But, I’m looking out these windows of mine, and everything is WHITE with blowing snow….

I went back inside and gave Minden SO MANY cookies. GOOD BOY (as usual!)….

That cheaty little MAAAARRRRGE got some, too….

Of course, Tigger didn’t even get up for the cookies….

In honour of today’s events, I give you THIRTEEN BELOVED MICE! Check it:

1. Mickey Mouse

2. Minnie Mouse

3. Mighty Mouse

4. Jerry

5. Fievel

6. Stuart Little

7. Pinky and the Brain

8. Little Sneezer

9. Cinderella’s Mice (Perla, Gus, Jaq, et al)


10. Matthias and the Redwall Mice

11. Danger Mouse

12. Kevin Henkes’ Adorable Mice!

13. The Three Blind Mice

1 more day to go! Want a chance to win gifts from Frantastic Treats? Check the CHEATY VALENTINE CONTEST, if you haven’t already! You have till tomorrow (Thursday) at 2pm to enter! Winners to be announced Friday! Weeeee!