That’s me doing a princess-style wave in the smooth, crystal-clear water of Magen’s Bay in the stunning Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Yes, we went all out this year. I sort of figured we might as well, since the world was going to end in 2012, spend all our money on a trip of a lifetime. Josh, on the other hand, a firm believer in Science (capital S), knew no such thing would happen, and he treated us to a trip of a lifetime anyway. And I’d say we deserved it.

I can’t even tell you how amazing this trip was. We started in Miami and took a Disney cruise to St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) and then back to Miami, where we spent the day at the luxurious Trump Towers with relatives who were staying there.

Due to extreme tiredness — New Year’s Eve last night was late, and we arrived at the Toronto airport at 1:30 a.m. the night before that — I don’t have the energy to go into details except to say we made wonderful friends, saw gorgeous sights, enjoyed great live Disney shows, met lots of Disney characters (Goofy’s my favourite!), ate way too much food, got some much-needed sun, swam, read, danced, relaxed, played, watched Pirates of the Caribbean under the Caribbean stars, SANG KARAOKE (the Monkey and I destroyed Bieber’s “Baby, Baby” — let’s just say, I am no Ludacris!) and more, more, more.

But I thought we’d better start the New Year off right here at Cheaty Monkey. So I am, hereby, officially putting the darkness that characterized a lot of 2012 behind us, and ushering in 2013, the beautiful.

One of the best lessons I learned on this trip — thanks in part to Disney and it’s magical themes — was to look for the beauty. Obviously, you can’t compare grey Toronto to the positively (here’s a word I haven’t used since a grade-eight creative writing assignment) pulchritudinous islands. But why focus on flaws all the time? There is always beauty, and I want, I need, to try to see it in all, or at least more, things.

And by beauty I mean happy thoughts (not anxious ones), glass half full, the good, the yes, the creativity, spirit, shine, art, love, abandon. I guess this is my big resolution for 2013.


So far, Day 1, I am kind of sucking. But I’m tired today, and this resolution will involve a huge paradigm shift, a transformation of my entire mindset, a sea change. So I’m taking it slow.

And when in doubt, though it’s not close by, I’ll look to the sea. I still feel it enveloping my body (which is now three pounds heavier thanks to too much exquisite food, but who cares — hakuna matata!). Despite it’s clear blue warmth, I feel chills. The beauty so overwhelming. My mind shifts briefly to the dark side, the plastic, pollution, extinction. But I force myself to drop it, donate later, be here now. It’s still as beautiful as it was when I was a kid, still as blue, salty, glassy, utterly awe-inspiring.


I guess the beauty of living in Toronto is that when you actually see the sea, you revel in it….

I miss you, Rita, Rick, Leena, Rami, Domano, Nadia, Putu, Deniz, Christian, Tina, Gunther (sorry I called you Thumper), Edmund, Gabby, Goofy, Pluto, Micky, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Ariel, Tiana, Peter Pan, Belle, the islands, the sea….


As they say on the Disney Wonder cruise ship (c/o Tinker Bell and friends), FAITH… TRUST… and PIXIE DUST!

xo Haley-O

Hi Gorgeouses! This has to be the quickest blog update ever because I’m in the middle of watching Hall Pass with Josh-O at the cottage, and I didn’t want to forget to loop you all in on everything that’s going on.

Last week was basically the most insane week ever. And if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, or if you’re a regular reader of my Today’s Parent celebrity news blog, Celebrity Candy, then you pretty-much know most of this already. But here’s the basic roundup:

Last Sunday I went to New York again for another overnight trip to meet and interview a celebrity mom for Today’s Parent. This time it was Alyson Hannigan! Long time Gorgeouses will know how very dear WILLOW is to my heart, so this was incredible….

Check out the great interview HERE! I even got to say “This one time? At band camp?” to her! It was definitely a highlight of my life…. Hee!

Then, just as I’m finally starting to recuperate from Monday’s trip, yesterday (Friday) was CRAZY! The Canadian entertainment news show ETALK came to interview moi about celebrity secrets for post-baby weight loss….

My amazing and thoughtful General Manager Elana Schachter and my totally awesome NEW MANAGING EDITOR Nadine Silverthorne insisted that I get hair and makeup done so that I’d feel my best (verklempt, right?). So here’s me getting my makeup done in the Rogers offices by the sparkly and fabulous Elise Tremblay (closeup pics of that to come – I forgot my USB chord at home!)….

Here’s me apparently bending forward unflatteringly (!) while talking to eTalk….

Eeep! I hate to share this photo because, aside from Elise’s fab hairstyling, I look horrid, but it gives you a good idea of the environment I was working in, i.e., pretty scary at Today’s Parent/Flare/Chatelaine/Hello Canada Magazine reception area with camera in face — but the wonderful eTalk producer Heather Lin (above) was wonderful at making me feel relatively at ease (as were Nadine and our PR guru Hazel Picco).

So the episode of eTalk airs TUESDAY (July 26), 7pm, CTV. You can also catch it on channel 63 (in Toronto), at 6pm and 11pm. I’ll keep you posted on any changes on Twitter.

Gosh, I hope I look okay on TV and that I don’t twitch or anything!

SO THEN! After I finish the interview, I’m in the middle of writing an article due yesterday, and I get a phone call. Apparently I’m interviewing JESSICA ALBA. She’s going to call me on the phone in a few hours.

So I spend the rest of the day scrambling to organize a blurb about it for Today’s Parent Magazine ASAP (huge thanks to the print team and Nadine for making THAT happen!), devising questions for Jessica, catching my breath…. The interview itself was great. She’s very sweet and real and had lots of useful things to say about motherhood and balance, and I can’t wait to share (next week on Celebrity Candy).

So how was your week, Gorgeouses?


xo Haley-O

eTalk photos c/o Nadine Silverthorne | Photo of Jessica Alba c/o Georges Biard

There we are. Jennifer Garner and me! You can read my interview and all about my Jennifer Garner experience HERE! It was a whirlwind. I haven’t had a trip like that in a long time, or maybe, like, ever? Crazy!

I left for NYC at 4:30am on Thursday morning. I got on the plane at 6:30am, but my co-traveler Emma Waverman got detained in customs and missed our flight…! It didn’t get much better for poor Emma. When she got to NYC, her car broke down on her way to meet the rest of us. She’s the one in the pretty sundress beside me….

Oh, wait! EVERYONE’s wearing a sundress but me (and tall Jennifer, who got fancy on us!). Apparently, someone didn’t get the sundress memo. But I did get the “wear heels” memo from a little voice in my head — thank goodness…! I went with black wedges and polished toenails, and I brought an extra pair of quite hideous sneakers for the rest of the day.

Anyway, I loved meeting Jennifer. She’s stunning and nice and very passionate about the charity Save the Children, which we were there to promote with my new favourite appliance company Frigidaire.

Little did I know, though, the trip was just beginning. After the event, Emma, Denise Smith from (in the grey dress on the end) and I hit the town thinking we should make the most of the few hours we had left in New York. Little did we know….

We went to Soho and walked forever in the sweltering heat to visit the famous vegan cupcake place, Baby Cakes. Shockingly, it was foodie Emma’s idea. She owed me one for trying to convince me not to be vegan that one time….

I cropped out our arms because we were both having “bad arm days” in our photos….

Such good sports they are to walk that far for vegan cupcakes! The cupcakes were pretty good. But I couldn’t really tell because I had some sort of weird laryngitis symptom that made EVERYTHING I ate taste sour for a good couple of days….

After the bakery, we went shopping. And startlingly, I was the only one who bought anything — a gorj boho-chic necklace from Free People. I don’t have a photo of it yet….

While in Soho, I took my first photo with a sleeping man (and, ooo!, there’s my necklace)!

Emma made me do it…. Hideous sneakers.

After that, we met our friends Irene Ngo from Chatelaine Magazine (in the blue dress, above), Rachelle Stark, David Riabov, and Stephanie (beside Jennifer Garner, above) and Norm from Frigidaire. We were supposed to go for dinner. But the traffic held us back, so we had to go straight to the airport. Parched, hungry and exhausted.

As we drove, the sky got DARK. People were walking the NYC streets covering their faces, the wind was so bad.

Our flight was scheduled for 8:30pm, but the weather kept getting worse, and there was no flight in sight. Eventually, we got out of there still parched and hungry (nothing was open!) and rebooked our flights for the earliest flight home the next day — 2:30pm (3:30pm for Emma, of course…).

We had no change of clothes, no makeup (gah!), toothbrushes, NOTHING. But we had each other. And we had Nobu, and we had 1am shopping at Forever 21 for fresh clothes to wear, and we had a hotel in Times Square, for the win!

Emma and I shared a hotel room, and Irene and Rachelle (above) shared another. I’m a VERY private person, and Emma and I didn’t even have a WALL on our washroom. It was more like a WINDOW WALL. But I didn’t care. Emma is a hoot. They all were. We giggled the whole trip. And I needed it….

I spent the next morning with foodies Irene and Emma. Of course, we checked out Chef Mario Batali’s Eataly. Some of us were in HEA-VEN….

Emma — she had no pants to wear! And Irene’s still wearing her blue dress from the day before…. Look! Mushrooms!

We did so much walking in our new Forever 21 clothes (I NEVER wear stripes! and Emma did finally find some pants to wear) that…

…(yeah you saw that right….) I had to get a Starbucks….

BUSTED…! Oooh! And there’s my new necklace again! Like it?

After that, we went to the airport, checked in. And, of course, Emma’s flight got delayed. We all waved goodbye to poor Emma and off we went. She left 3 hours later.

Okay, this was a lot of work, Gorgeouses! So in return for my sharing the intimate details of my fabulous trip to NYC, can you please do me one favour? Go and commit to “eat fresh.” For every person who commits to eat fresh (it’s quick!), Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children Canada. Plus you get a chance to win an awesome fridge. For more about this cause and to read my Today’s Parent interview with Jennifer Garner, CHECKIT!

Stay tuned. I interview Dean McDermott, whom many of you know as Tori Spelling’s hubby, Thursday. I’m bringing the Rascal with me…. Gaaahhh!

xo Haley-O

I didn’t take a lot of photos. I also didn’t take a lot of breaths. At one point, on the second night of the conference, I couldn’t hold back tears, and I ran up to the hotel room and cried. Yes. I did. But when I forced myself to lie down, pick up my novel and just relax, I felt better. (Awesome book, by the way.)

That’s when I realized I hadn’t taken a single break that day. While I may seem outgoing and (at times even) natural in social settings, inside I’m often anxious and tense. I’m really as shy as a turtle.

I need to make time to crawl into my shell and just collect myself for a bit — otherwise, I’m just all over the place. If you caught me JUST before I broke into tears, you would have thought me boring and spacey in a withdrawn sort of way. If you caught me AFTER the tears, you would have thought me just a weeee bit spacey and gullible in a Three’s Company‘s Chrissy sort of way….

Despite the social anxiety issssues, I had a great time. I partied HARD. And I haven’t done that in a long time. Those friends of mine, they dragged me out at a whopping 9pm for dinner and drinks, not at a quiet bar down the street from the conference hotel, but a longish cab ride away to the Lower East Side of NYC. The 15 of us (ahem) piled into an already PACKED bar in which there were men in plaid button-downs standing on the bar taking photos and swigging beers. Kind of like the gorj Miss Daniela Syrovy here in the green (with some seriously awesome and hilarious ladies — Joanne Acri, Theresa Albert and Emma Waverman [who’s either yawning or showing off her FAB Martha-Stewart-party “ring” craft])….

…who stood up on a chair in her fab green dress and took this pic of all most of us….

Can you see the social anxiety on my (distorted) face? Hmm, maybe not, since by then I’d had a glass of wine (it doesn’t take much). Look at all the lovelies! Where to start? Let’s see, next to me, Corinne, Nadine, Rebecca, Brandie, Rebecca, Emma (sweet WILLER), Maureen, Cora, Lianne, and Tracy. The only person missing in the photo, if I’m not mistaken…, is Ms. GREENERS, who earlier that night did THIS….

Her fab keynote speech moved us all to tears…. Here’s a link to all the Voices of the Year keynotes, including Karen’s. LOVE!

Despite the short and very therapeutic cry, the conference was an amazing experience. I got to meet a lot of my online friends in person, and I got to hear some incredible, inspiring people speak, including “international activists” who risk their lives blogging and make a real difference…for all of us.

Another really rewarding and memorable part of the conference was meeting LINDSEYJAY and SANDYEL! They met each other through MY BLOG! They’ve both been commenting here since the dawn of Cheaty Monkey, pretty much, and there they were, ROOMIES in NYC. Can you say FAHKLEMPT! I need to get a picture of the three of us, HELLO? Picture, anyone? FAHKLEMPT.


I left the conference early, alas, because I had to get back to work Monday morning — and we drove to NYC. When I got into the car, I was greeted by a very-desperate-to-see-me THIS….

She covered me in kisses — like I HAVE NEVER. It was good to be back….

And I’m back! When I got to work this morning, I found this month’s issue of Today’s Parent on my desk. Look for a feature on my CELEBRITY BLOG on p. 22 and on the “What’s on the Web” page, and, again, my name in the masthead (much to my mother’s delight!). FUN! My spoofy PINK article on Celine Dion will occur in the October issue.

How was YOUR week?

Love! xo Haley-O

Credit: Photo of turtles by cygnus921.

Rascal’s sitting glued to me. I normally don’t open my computer much when he’s around. Especially since Florida. I’d made a pact with myself to limit work time to when the nanny’s here (4 mornings a week) and after the kids go to bed. But, he’s happy here sucking on his organic cherry lollipop. And we’re both sick. And the Monkey’s sick.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the large man who sat on top of beside me on the plane to Florida coughing into his FIST the whole way there. I knew I was done for when I noticed the fist. I mean, GOSH, when you cough into your FIST on a plane, where do you THINK your germs are going? Straight to me, and the other lucky person sitting under your other elbow and butt cheek. She, too, probably spent her vacation flummoxed by a mysterious rash that made her feel like she was dipped in acid. She, too, probably barfed all the way home from Disney World to West Palm Beach. And she, too, probably spent nights trying to swallow through spike-covered knives in her throat. And she, too, is probably still trying to recover, feverish, eyes burning, fingers aching while trying to type some semblance of a blog post. Although I’m not sure she has a son who’s also sick and sticking to her like glue all night long, or that she has a blog — but doesn’t everyone have a blog these days? — or, okay, she’s trying to facebook…. Facebooking. “Facebook”‘s a verb, now, right?

Not that I have anything against large people, OF COURSE. I mean, that guy on the plane, who boomeranged his virus off his fist and into my throat, wasn’t even really obese or anything, per se. He was just obscenely big boned — which is okay, and probably a good thing for a guy in any other situation. But, he wasn’t very friendly. He didn’t laugh at my jokes, or at the Rascal’s hand when it mysteriously appeared between the two seats in front of us, vroom-vrooming a new Thomas the Train that It’sgrandma and Papa’shere picked up at Target. I mean, GOSH.

So, now Minden’s sitting on my lap purring — well, he’s been on my lap this whole time, but I’ve only just noticed this because I’m so used to it. It’s OLD HAT. Yes, I’ve been sandwiched (in an awkward way) between Rascal and Minden this whole time. Rascal’s just discovered Minden’s shoulder blade, and now he loves bones:

“Mama, I yuf bones! I yuf bones! Mama, I wan wadah, I wan wadah, I wan wadah. I yuf bones. I wan wadah. NOW MAMA, I MADAH YOU!” (Trans. “I love bones”; “Mama, I want water!”; “Now, Mama, I’m mad at you.”)

He wants water and he wants it now. Good thing I can type without looking at the keyboard OR screen because he’s got my chin in his little hands now. He wants “wadah” and he wants it NOW. And I’m still typing.

After I get him his water, I’ll take him for a bath. He’ll get a book and go to bed — the new egg-shaped humidifier (which the Rascal thinks is making tea, as in “Make? Tea? Mama?”) humming. And then at 12 or 1am, he’ll scream the unbearable scream for me. And I’ll bring him to my bed, and he’ll lie glued on top of me for the rest of the night, like the large man on the airplane, and, alas, if it’s anything like last night, he’ll be coughing directly into my throat. But I won’t mind.

xo Haley-O

I’m back home from Florida, but with a bit of a heavy heart. Isn’t it always SO HARD coming back from a vacation? Isn’t it always SO HARD coming back to the snow and cold from a warm and OCEAN-y vacation?

Rascal: Mama, I yuf buhds. I yuf buhds. I yuf buhds. I yuf……… (Trans. “I love birds.”)

I’m welling up just writing this.

It was a weird vacation. It went really quickly, but really slowly at the same time — as if it was an entire lifetime, a flash of an entire lifetime. I’m not sure if it was the podcast I was listening to: yoga lectures by a guy who happens to have been my best friend when I was 4-6 years old, which totally resonated with me in, like, flabbergasting ways. Or, maybe it was the fact that I was surrounded by family the whole time. Or, maybe it was the fact that, relatively speaking, I didn’t do much work. Or, maybe it was that I didn’t so much as LOOK at my blackberry the whole time….

Maybe it was my aching throat that kept me up all night EVERY night, listening to stunning podcasts by my best friend when I was 4-6…. Maybe it was my aching throat that sent me, crying, frustrated, down the stairs for some tea in the wee hours of the morning, and that sent my mother down right after me. With back rubs, a blanket and some Tylenol.

Maybe it was this Monkey at the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World. “It’s the best style, Mama!”….

Or this dog (Quincey!)….

Or this Rascal on this beach in these over-sized new clothes (TARGET)….

Or this new hoodie (TARGET)….

Or this new Superman shirt (TARGET)….

Or So You Think You Can Dance in this, our very own, living room….

Or my dad and The Monkey collecting shells on this beach….

Or this man in that Speedo whom I spoke to for a half an hour about banks and business and Long Island (I know, what the what?) while the extreme waves pushed and pulled and played tricks on me; or, that thing in the water that stung me on the ass and made my skin burn and forced me, finally, to dart out of the water (my friend in the Speedo probably thinking it was him), but was so worth it….

Or nightlife….

These trees….

This foot (Rascal)….

I don’t know what it was that made this trip so confusing, so life-changing and difficult to process as Monday emerges and I embark on ROUTINE again.

I’ve made it so my blackberry no longer blinks at me….

I’ve scheduled specific work hours for the week….

I made lentil and barley soup….

I’m going to bed before 11:00 11:30….

I’m breathing in and out and in and out.

My throat still hurts. It isn’t strep. But I feel rested and happy and exhausted and heavy-hearted, and new….


xo Haley-O

I have so much to tell you. But, I have zero energy. Believe it or not, I’ve been struggling with the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life. Three days now. When we went to Disney World, yesterday, I popped one two many Tylenols (or so we think), and I threw up the whole drive home. (Was that TMI?) Among that, the mystery Fringe full-body rashes, and the worst sore throat of all time, I’ve been physically A MESS here in Florida. But, I don’t even care because I’m having a great time.

Without further ado, then, I give you a TASTE of what happened at Disney World yesterday. It was the best part, in my mind — when the Monkey got her hair, makeup and nails did at the “Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique” in Cinderella’s Castle….

Closeup at the beach this afternoon (and more to come)….

I know. WOW. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera when we took the Monkey and her hair to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner tonight. But, I will say, I was a little embarrassed walking around with her — NOT because of her, of course, because she looked beyond ADORABLE, and she was obviously feeling SO good about her li’l self (what more could a mother ask for – fahklempt)! No, I was embarrassed because everyone must have thought *I* did my daughter’s hair like that! Luckily they see lots of Disney Princess around these parts, so many people were bowing down to her highness and enjoying the sight with me.

Off to make some more CHAMOMILE tea. Blech. I hate chamomile tea, but it’s the only herbal tea they seem to have in Florida, and it’s been the only thing giving me any relief…!

This post was inspired by one of my favourite poems of all time: This Is Just to Say, by William Carlos Williams. Because things, just as they are, can be, among other things, errrrm, poetic.

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