When I’m not writing at Today’s Parent, I’m taking much-needed time off all writing, and living life — playing with the kids, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, driving the kids around, helping them with homework, drinking tea, watching karate, watching soccer, watching dancing, reading, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming.

I’m telling you this because something was brought to my attention the other day. Well, it was really a few weeks ago, but it seems to take a few weeks for this piper to actually sit thee down and write* here these days, in case you haven’t noticed.

I bumped into my old friend Ryan, who’s also a Cheaty Monkey reader, and she said something like, “I miss you now that you’re not online anymore.”

Not online? ME? You miss me? Not online?

Eager to know if other friends “missed” me online, I went up to some more old Cheaty Monkey readers in the schoolyard, and asked them if they thought I’d totally deserted them too.

“You know, Angela,” I said to one of the lovely moms, “I may not write at Cheaty Monkey that much anymore, but I’m all over Todaysparent.com all the time.”

Like Ryan, she had no idea.

“I write a bunch of blogs every day there,” I explained, “Mostly about celebrity families, but also on tough parenting topics like bullying and dealing with tragedy. If you’d like, please check it out!” (I am shameless.)

I said this to Ryan and Ang, and I’m going to say it to you now too: If you miss me (and I miss you too, believe me!), please friend me on Facebook. I keep it pretty well updated with some of my celebrity posts, ALL of my weekly celebrity galleries (UPPAbaby stroller contest in this one, hollaaa!), ALL of my more personal writing both at Cheaty Monkey and at Today’s Parent, and of course, with lots of photos.

Speaking of which….

Yes, another great reason you need to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter NOW. Betty White was sleeping beside me when I took that picture (that’s what they call need-to-know information).

Please don’t “miss” me! Let’s stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and a little more often here (I’ll definitely try).

In other news:

- I have successfully lost seven pounds.

- People who write comments without reading articles properly are, as the Rascal used to say, “vewy fustifating” (trans.: very frustrating).

- I’m giving a talk (well three talks…three sessions) on developing a daily writing practice at this month’s Blissdom Conference.

- I’m going to talk about why a daily writing practice is important, what to write about, why to use a blog as your platform, and a bit about my own writing practice.

- I’m also going to talk about how sometimes a writing practice may actually involve not writing. But that’s only really if you do NOTHING but write and edit all day long. *cough*

- Otherwise, write.

- Every day.

- After the session, I’ll share all my secrets here.

- Or…, maybe three weeks after the session.

- But NO! I will write here more often.

- I officially suck at going to yoga.

- Instead of going to yoga, I’ve been riding my stationary bike while watching The Voice, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, or Pokemon.

- Yeah, it doesn’t get much worse than that.

- I’m just still too self-conscious in the yoga room.

- I was going to title this post “An Open Letter to My Yoga Teacher.”

- Hmm, maybe I will anyway.

- But next week, I’ll be closer than I’ve been in the last five years to my goal weight, so I may just show up at the shala.

- Oh, wait, but Josh is away.

- So maybe sooner.

- In my microsession, I will also talk about using Instagram and Twitter/Facebook photos to build your blog posts.

- You won’t want to miss that.

- I could also do a whole other session on how to blog with a massive cat on your lap…

- …who wants nothing more out of life than to stick his tongue down your throat.

- OH! I know.

- Maybe next year.

I miss you and will try to write here more often. I may have a full writing practice at Today’s Parent, but I can’t really post photos of my pets there, now can I?

LOVE!

xo Haley-O

* From William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience — one of my fave literary works of all time. Tiger, Tiger burning bright / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


Ohh, now I know why I’ve been avoiding writing this post. I’m crying again. It’s been two weeks since she died, on the kids’ first day of school, and it’s so hard for me to sit and think about her because tears start steaming and my ears start to ache. I can’t do it anymore.

When I calm down I feel a gentle wave across my chest and arms. She’s been a part of my soul, another limb, my wispy shadow for 16 years.

I haven’t wanted to write this post because it took me a week to stop crying, and then I was physically exhausted. When a pet dies, it’s not simply the loss of an animal friend. It’s the loss of a family member, a part of you, of time, an era. She was a living relic in my house who was always there. She was with me when I lived alone in university, when I met Josh, when I moved back to Toronto and into my own humble apartment. She moved with me to my first house with Josh. He and I got engaged, married, had kids. She was there.

She was sweet, beautiful, quiet, playful, aloof. She only had eyes for me, and there was something very special for me about that. Her purr was soft; you had to put your ear to her to hear it. And I once caught her hanging from the window ledge in my university apartment — from her claws. That made me laugh just now….

When she first came to me, her name was “Maggy.” But her meow was so raspy it reminded me of Marge Simpson, so I named her “Marge.” And then I spelled it “Maaarge!” because “Marge” is such a bizarre name for a kitty, so why not.

In the last year of her life, she meowed a lot. I hear it now, echoing in the silence here. She was so hungry; I couldn’t feed her enough. Then she started having the seizures, and I started having to medicate her twice a day. So every night and every morning, I feel that urgency still to give Maaarge her meds. But she’s not here.

We got seven more months with her — since the seizures started — and I’m grateful, but a little more time…….

Then two weeks ago we found her paralyzed from the waist down on our dining room table. And she still wanted to eat. As long as they want to eat they want to live, they say. But by the time we got her to the vet, after I kissed my kids and wished them an awesome first day of school, she was fading away.

We don’t really know what happened. The vet suspects a clot, or maybe the brain tumour that (we suspect) caused the seizures.

This hasn’t been the greatest year for me. I think that’s partly why I haven’t been wanting to blog so much. I’m feeling sad, and private and closed. When I’m not working with my wonderful friends at Today’s Parent Magazine, I just want to get offline and be still, quiet and with my family. I haven’t wanted to go to yoga either because I hate crying there.

A lot of things are changing. Maaarge’s death was a blow.

The day she died, Betty White spent most of the day curled up in a ball on my bed. “See, Betty,” I found myself telling her, “I’ll never let you suffer.”

Thank you, Maaarge, for loving me, for teaching me how limitless my care can be, for teaching me patience and acceptance, for playing with me.

We hated that you lived on our dining room table. But we loved you so much that we let you….

Two days before she died, I dreamed of Simba. His image was very vivid, and he was big before me. I looked at him. We were face to face, and he said, “Hi.”

The other day I was putting the dishes away, and a plastic lid spontaneously fell down on me from one of the kitchen shelves. It felt like it was her. I could imagine her sitting on the shelf, batting the lid with her little paw. It’s something her spirit would do — tease me, play tricks on me. I’ll watch for that. I still can’t imagine her not here….

I love you, my Maaarge. See you in my dreams.

Love…

xo Haley-O

P.S. Many thanks to the amazing vets, technicians, assistants at the Laird-Eglinton Pet Hospital. Maaarged loved it at the vet because you all loved her too. I’ll always be grateful.

 

 


Chin high. Face filthy. Shoulders square and teeny. Oy. He was very proud to be wearing his mama’s favourite t-shirt. For some unidentified reason, I beam whenever he puts it on. And the neon bracelets (aka scary chemical bangles he got in a loot bag and that I hate and hid as soon as he put them down and looked the other way) add the perfect touch, don’t they? He comes in peace — this bizarre, uncannily cute being of mine.

“Mama! Mama! I am 35-point-zero pounds today, Mama!”

Look at him riding my stationary bike (and singing). He’s actually pedaling….

I am crazy about this child. So much that I can’t deal. And, after what we went through last May, I thank God every day for his health and contagious enthusiasm for life. Though I wish he’d drink his lemon water, eat more greens, clean up his Ninjago spinners, spare me that ringing in my ears from extra-high-pitched pleadings to watch Star Wars (again), and sleep in his own bed.

Of course, I am also crazy about his big sister.

I took her to “the crystal store” (as she likes to call it) this evening — a little mom-and-daughter outing. She’s turning seven (SEVEN) on Saturday, so this was a special pre-birthday gift. You see, she loves fairies. And she sparkles in these spiritual shops, which incidentally attract others who also believe in fairies. Her favourite is a charming store called “Odyssey,” which is worth the drive all the way out to Pickering. So that’s where we went.

She bought a necklace with a charm full of “pixie dust,” a miniature blue bird — “for happiness,” the lady behind the counter said — a little blue cluster of crystals, a coin with a saying on it that she liked, and a mini “fresh picked rainbow,” which I’m still not quite sure how she’s going to use.

I love being eccentric and imaginative with her. And if you know me well enough, you know I often have a crystal hanging on my neck.

“Mama, d’you know what? Selena Gomez is Justin Beaver’s girlfriend.” Did you learn that in school, Monkey? “No, Grandma told me.”

I’m also crazy about our magnificent Betty White….

…our little lover, Minden…

…and our beautiful MAAARGE! (who, alas, isn’t doing so well, I learned at the vet just today)….

(If you want to see ALL the things I’m crazy about, by the way, check me out on Instagram — love love love! And if you’re on Instagram, tell me your username in the comments, and I’ll follow you back.)

Also, big news: I finally got a wedding ring that I’ll actually wear. Strangely enough, I loathe conventional jewellery, and my original rings have been tight ever since I had kids. But this ring’s very light, simple and symbolic for me. Josh is thrilled, of course — I guess because he’s crazy about me. And I guess I’m crazy about him too, enough to wear a piece of jewellery…that doesn’t contain crystals.

Love!

xo Haley-O

P.S. I’ve been up to a lot, as usual, at Today’s Parent. Check out my most recent blog posts and galleries (every week I do a fun celebrity gallery) over at Celebrity Candy! And some other fascinating stuff my fellow editors and I have written over at On Our Minds.


“Mama,” the Rascal pleads, “I’m not doin’ anything to Betty and she’s just crazing me out!”

If you ask me what I love about motherhood, that sums it up (also Beyblades and Lego — I built these insane Star Wars ships myself in just four hours the other day!). At four-years-old, the Rascal is brimming with personality, and at six-and-a-half years old, his quirky, hilarious sister is too.

My parents took them out to a Purim party this evening, giving me some much-needed time to myself. The Rascal wore a Superman costume that, to my pleasant surprise, was too small on him; and the Monkey wore a Supergirl costume and her favourite shiny blue “magic gloves.”

Even when I have time to myself, though, there’s always our high-maintenance, spirited Betty White to deal with. And lately, adorable as she is, she’s been “crazing” us all out….

…Especially the poor cats, whose ability to find the perfect place to sit never ceases to amaze me, even if it’s in Betty’s direct line of fire (RUN, MINDEN, RUN! Like the wind!)….

It’s been a rough few days with Josh-O away for work again. And Betty White knew it so well that, when I collapsed on my bed the other day, I landed in a cold, wet patch of what the kids like to call her “stinky pee.” Needless to say, she was officially excommunicated from my room after that, but the persistent little bugger managed to sneak sheepishly back onto the bed and curl into an entitled little ball beside me.

Sighhh…, want to hear what a great parent I am? I was so exhausted from solo parenting and the pee fiasco that I put the kids to bed at 6:10 p.m. last night. It was still light outside, but they were too busy bouncing off the walls to question it. Miraculously, they went right to bed and stayed there, and they woke up the next morning at the perfect time (the Rascal’s vomit scare at 6 a.m. notwithstanding) — with ample time before school to dawdle, drink a green smoothie, and play with the new Beyblades I bribed them with the day before — which is making me think they should go to bed at that time every night, huh…!

In addition to Josh being away and the dog crazing us all out, things have been really busy at work. Yoga has fallen through the cracks completely. But I may take a real break over the weekend, roll out my mat and make it happen. Because Josh-O and my romantic getaway for his 40th birthday — the first time we’ll be going away alone together since having kids — is still too far away. And, although, motherhood has its perks, I’m beginning to really understand that, for my kids’ sake and mine, even I need a holiday.

Love!

xo Haley-O


Oh gosh. I’m posting this picture of myself for three reasons.

1) Because Ange told me I’m finally looking like myself again after 4 weeks of looking like arse from the ghastly cold/cough/flu/bronchitis I’ve been battling (the dark circles under the eyes are still there, as is that UFO thing in the middle of my head — heh, I wore it shopping this aft, and the Rascal loved it). And Ange has a fabulous British accent.

2) Because my friend Alice, aka “Kittenpie,” said my hair looked “Gorgeous!” when I tweeted it earlier today.

3) Because this is my blog! And one should post photos of oneself on one’s blog, don’t you think? (And it’s really rare that I actually get a good photo of myself, so I thought I better post it and possibly make it my Twitter/Facebook avatar for the next 10 years.)

And one should post photos of one’s kids on one’s blog, don’t you think? And if one (like myself) doesn’t post photos of one’s children’s faces on one’s blog, then one better post a photo of one’s child’s FIRST LOST TOOTH!


Congratulations, MONKEY!

…Or at the very least, one better post lots of photos of one’s seriously unphotogenic dog — to make one’s own photo look more gorj.

Speaking of one…, guess what I did this weekend?! If you follow me on Twitter, you may know I gave a talk (about blogging, community, marketing and me!) at the Rotman School of Management, at University of Toronto.

Because I was so sick, and because the kids kept me up most of the night before, I may or may not have dozed off mid sentence once or twice…. But what a great experience! I wasn’t nervous at all, could have talked all day long, and the students were really lovely. I also learned a lot myself, simply by taking the time to reflect on the pretty crazy career I’ve had so far: from hobby blogging, to Urban Moms, bTrendie (remember that?), to TODAY’S PARENT MAGAZINE.

Here’s the wonderful Professor Bill McEvily (left) and social media expert Matthew Stradiotto, of the Toronto-based social media company Matchstick.ca, who also gave a (fascinating) talk.

And look what Prof. McEvily gave me for showing up to his class….

I love this mug. This mug SAVED me during two extreme, ugly cough attacks at work today and yesterday, so I’m very grateful. Inside, however, was the worst possible gift ever: a gift card to Starbucks. Apparently, the professor did his homework….

One should probably blog more than once a week (or so) if one’s going to have just so much to share, don’t you think? We haven’t even gotten to the diet and yoga stuff I wanted to tell you about. Next time.

UPDATE ON MAAARGE!: As many of you know, Maaarge has been really ill. Well, I’m happy to say the wonderful vets at Laird-Eglinton Pet Hospital have worked miracles: Maaarge’s seizures have stopped! She’s stopped urinating everywhere, and I even got to shower her (for the first time in 15 years). So she actually even smells fantastic! Her back legs aren’t what they used to be — I’m thinking she probably injured them during one of her seizures. She sleeps a lot, and she seems a little more out of it than before all this happened. But she’s comfortable and happy.

I’ve been holding her a lot lately. Putting my ear to her li’l body and listening to her purr. It occurred to me that she’s literally my rock. Sediment upon sediment of emotions, memories, experiences. I’m not ready to lose her, and I know there’s not much time left. But I’m enjoying holding her, appreciating her. My delicate, precious, living relic. For as long as I can.

Love….

xo Haley-O (off to make one’s morning green smoothie!)


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

 

 


Happy Holidays, Gorgeouses!

I have nothing to say. Mostly because I’ve been eating way too much sugar. So now, as I sit down and attempt to craft a brilliant Happy-Holidays blog post, all I hear in my mind is this: bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Eventually the sugar buzz will go away, and I’ll probably have to eat some more sugar. UGH, there are just so many sugary goodies in my house. IT’S SO UNFAAAAAAAIR! How am I supposed to eat healthy when, for example, our amazing Todaysparent.com General Manager, Elana, leaves THIS on my desk….

Of course, it’s vegan and fair trade, so there were no excuses for me NOT to devour this chocolate-mint DREAM….

Well, anyway, I managed not to eat the whole bar. But it sat just like that on my desk all day, staring at me and calling my name. “Haaaaaaley! Haaaaaaaaley! Eeeeeeeat meeeee! Noowwwwwww! I’m yuuuuuuummy and will make your world preeeeeeeeeeetty!” So as soon as work ended and I got in my car to pick up the kids, I tore open the luscious green wrapper and scarfed a good chunk of it down like an ancient, ancient Neanderthal man in winter. I probably shouldn’t bother with the metaphors, huh? Bzzzzzzzzzzz…..

Despite my extreme sugar consumption, I have been going to yoga every day — except for those two days when, A, I had a rare migraine headache and couldn’t see anything (AND I still practiced blindly in my bedroom while the kids pointed at me and laughed) and, B, my alarm didn’t go off (I swear, it didn’t go off! Why won’t anybody believe me!?). In the New Year, I’m committing to a full 6-days-a-week practice…. And I’m going to really try to lose weight. No, really. REALLY.

I’m not going to go crazy and say I’m quitting sugar and wheat and chai lattes. As my friend Alice suggested, I’m just going to keep it simple and limit sugary and salty extremes: I’m going to eat grains and vegetables at every meal (lunch and dinner, anyway), and one soup; and I’m going to enjoy a fresh juice, fruit and/or tea in the morning instead of grabbing a chai latte.

In the meantime, I’m high on sugar. Bzzzzzz….. And I have to wake up early for yoga.

Oh gosh. I need water….

In the New Year, there will definitely be fewer sugar rushes. I’ve been feeling tired from all the sweet gluttony, and I haven’t been eating lunch. And due to protruding sugar gut, my yoga twists are awful again — like the books I’ve been collecting on my shelf at work, only not as HILARIOUS….

And bzzzzzzzz…. Nothing.

As I vowed on Today’s Parent‘s Facebook page earlier this evening, next week I’m going to take a “parenting holiday.” I’m not exactly sure how this is going to go down because I still have to feed the Monkey and Rascal, bathe them and break up the fights! But I’m going to try enjoy my family and relax this holiday without worrying so much about outcomes. “C’we have cookies for breakfast, Mama?” Sure! “Mama? C’we watch ANOTHER movie?” Sure! And just maybe I’ll take a little better care of me for once, instead.

Josh and the kids say HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Betty White says HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Minden says HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Maaaarge came out of hiding to say HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Happy Holidays, Gorgeouses! All the best to you and your families!

Love!

xo Haley-O

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