It’s been so long since I’ve written here that I barely remember how to log in. Isn’t that sad? I used to write here every single day, come hell or high water (why I use that expression all the time, I do not know). And now I’m lucky if I can log in to the backend without resetting the password. Truth is, the time is just flying. It’s like, as soon as I write a post, a week flies by, and then another week. And before I know it, it’s been two months — and when’s the last time I went to yoga?

But here are some more truths. I’m writing this to you from the front seat of my parked car while I wait for the Monkey to finish her two-hour dance-show dress rehearsal (one of three this week), I’ve just gotten two emails from friends who want to make plans and I can’t seem to schedule anything for at least another month, and I have a knot in my back the size of the Empire State Building and it’s freaking me the hell out — and it hurts.

I’ve been at the Today’s Parent office at odd times for (awesome but knot-in-back-causing) Twitter parties, and I’ve interviewed Jillian Michaels, and I’ve gone to Jillian Michaels’ show (front-row-centre VIP seats, care of Jillian Michaels herself!), I’ve covered the red carpet at Hello! Canada Magazine’s Canada’s Most Beautiful party, and there’s lots more to come.

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Me and Jillian Michaels!

It’s been such an exciting, busy, adventurous time. But I am utterly exhausted, and the kids, while awesome and hilarious, are not easy. They’re currently banned from TV for a week for ripping the armrests off their carseats in Josh-O’s beloved car. The silver lining is, of course, lots of this…

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She made me take this picture of her little Lego world — for you. It’s pretty fabulous. If there’s one thing our little Monkey is, it’s imaginative. Builder of worlds.

And if there’s one thing her little brother is, it’s Future Oscar Winner. Move over, Gary Busey!

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The kid can laugh and cry crocodile tears at the same time! I’ve also never seen anyone get that into playing with toy cars. “How do you like THAT apple,” one of his cars says to the other. “Psh, psh, POW!”

Gosh, I’m so used to blogging about other people all the time that I feel so narcissistic right now. While I’m at it, though, I guess I can tell you I’ve lost another 10 pounds since we last spoke. Wanna see?

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Don’t look at my toes!

Ahh, looks like it’s time to pick the Monkey up from her dance rehearsal now. She’ll run and jump into my arms when she sees me. At almost eight years old, she still does that. And I love that she still does that, but I’m only five feet tall…and, as I’ve been trying to convey here, a wee burnt out.

I’m going to spare you another promise that I’ll blog again really really soon. But I hope you and your families are well.

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LOVE!
xo Haley-O

 


Right now, I’m sitting on my couch. My cat, Minden, is on my lap trying his best to stick his tongue down my throat, but I position my head so I’m just out of its gooey, raspy reach. Even though he has no teeth, except for one fang (upper left), his breath is pungent — and I start to think that, though it’s cheap, this isn’t the best way to exfoliate my skin. A layer of dead skin cells successfully removed from my chin nonetheless, he lies down on my arm as I type, purring like a lawn mower, noxious fumes and all.

I work at home a couple of days a week now. It’s great because I can finally get the solitude I need to nurture my neglected introverted self without indulging my inner hermit too, too much — since I work at the office the other three days a week. And it’s great because I can take the kids for lunch, manage my time better, and wear Lululemons even more often (whether you think they’re actual pants or not).

While I’d love to write here at Cheaty Monkey more often — in case you haven’t noticed, every post I write here is vexed with apology, guilt, regret for not blogging as much as I used to — I’ve come to see my absence from this space not as a failure but as part of my personal evolution. The urge to write here just isn’t there very often. The urge to share in this way just isn’t there. Sad, but true.

So I release you, Self-Inflicted Pressure.

These days, I find myself exploring other writing urges that require a lot of time, silence and solitude — all of which are hard to come by when you have a five- and seven-year-old, and a bizarre little Maltese who has just made me lose my train of thought.

She’s barking at a human and his dog outside. If she came face-to-face with them on the sidewalk, she’d hide between my legs, shaking, curly tail tucked straight down. She’s like an Internet troll: she’d never say it to their faces; but place a screen in front of her, and she’s fierce as a lion. Thankfully, I just discovered that if I say, “Want to go for a walk?” she’ll stop barking immediately, curl up in a ball on the couch and cower. “Canine Walkophobia.” It’s not a real condition because the animal psychiatrists haven’t discovered it yet, until right now.

I’m not sure where these new writing urges have come from, but I’m giving them time. Maybe they came from my kids, who are bursting with creativity at every turn. Just last night, before bed, the Monkey designed an “Indian Princess” gown out of my scarves and a necklace. I kid you not: this was Project Runway material. And at seven years old, she’s the Editor-in-Chief of her own magazine, Today’s Kids, which, among other things, cautions kids not to swing on chandeliers.

The Rascal bowls me over all the time with his boisterous imaginary play. Put him in a room with two little cars, and he’ll be shouting in minutes, absorbed in the most intense race the world has ever seen.

***

I remember one class in particular when I was a student in the Visual Arts Program at York University. It was a class that focused on alternative arts, like Found and Performance art. I thought it was the silliest class ever at the time, but it’s the one that seems to have resonated the most with me over the years. One of the assignments we had to do was a “found art” project: we were asked to put together a piece made up of found objects. I wasn’t prepared at all for the assignment, for some reason, so I said, “WTF, I’ll just put a bunch of stuff from around the studio in a pile and see what the class comes up with.”

I ran around room in my flannel button-down, tight black tank and ripped jeans, piling chairs on top of one another, adorning them with paper weights, twigs, art supplies, cups, anything that I could find — the more baffling, the better — as the class watched. I stayed perfectly silent, insisting that the building of the piece was a fundamental part of the piece itself, and I made them guess. Everyone was, indeed, baffled. “What is it?” the professor asked. “You tell me.”

So maybe that’s where I go from here. I don’t have a message, a theme, a place to start. But I have an urge to write fiction (this has surprised me too, believe me) — short fiction, to be precise, because it’s the midpoint between my two favourite literary genres, poetry and the novel. I carry this urge with me wherever I go: a burning satchel on my hip, multicoloured like the rogue hacky sack that’s taken up residence in my purse.

I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be back here. Probably in a month, because that seems to be the pattern with my “Cheaty Monkey urge.” Until then, I’ll be figuring out what this “writing short fiction urge” is about by handwriting a lot in my notebook, going back to yoga (yes!) for that integral silence and solitude, and getting inspired by my kids’ awesome creative bursts, my odd dog and toothless cat. And of course, I’ll be writing up a storm at Todaysparent.com, and sharing little sparks and photos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Love!

xo Haley-O


Tears streamed down my face as I looked out the window of PICU at SickKids Hospital, May 11, 2012.

Walkers from all over the city formed a circle around the hospital — a giant hug for all of the kids, families and staff inside the walls. It was Meaghan’s Walk.

I looked back at my 4-year-old son, sedated and intubated on the bed behind me. IVs poking into arms still soft with baby fat, a glowing red toe attached to blinking monitors, mechanical waves of his breath. “Do you feel that big hug, Baby?”

The day before, 3:07 p.m., I got a calm call from the school office. I was on my way to pick up the kids. Ten minutes until the bell rings, I thought. Couldn’t they wait? No. Five minutes later, a frantic call from one of the parents: “Hurry, Haley! They’ve called the ambulance.” WHAT?!

I fought through garbage trucks and idle walkers to get to the school, screaming and gasping in the car. I couldn’t get there fast enough.

But I arrived in time to see the ambulance and fire trucks for my son. Children were gathered along the schoolyard fence (it was home time!), excited to see the emergency vehicles. Mothers were slouched with worry for my son.

I ran through worried-looking teachers and oblivious young students to the office, where my son lay. Not seeing me. Not knowing I was there. I moaned and my knees gave out. The emergency crew carried him out and I followed — the school principal holding me steady as I moaned, wailed, struggled to breathe and looked beside myself at my son.

“Does he have diabetes?” No. “Allergies?” No. “Anything like this before?” No. Is he going to be okay? No answer.

We climbed into the ambulance. My mother, there now, reaching for my car keys. Dark. I sat in the ambulance and watched and didn’t know and asked and moaned.

They kicked me out into the front seat because there were too many of us in the back with him. Five of them working on my son.

The siren came on and the people on the street looked through the large front windshield of the ambulance and saw the mother of the child wailing and gripping her armrest.

Ninety minutes later in the SickKids Hospital Emergency Ward, they got him to where they wanted him, intubated him and immediately sent him for tests.

“You’re going to hear a lot of scary things,” the (wonderful) social worker told me as she handed me some ice water and we watched the crowd of doctors hover and scurry about the bed. “Don’t listen to any of the words, okay, Mom?”

Is it going to be okay?

YES. YES YES YES YES!

It was going to be okay. The first round of tests came back. And he was ALL CLEAR.

And so we waited for him to wake up and grasp at the tubes. And he did it, and it took FOUR of us, including Josh, to hold him down. Horrible to witness. But an excellent sign.

I held his little foot (poor thing, he inherited my feet…) as he slept. And I listened sleeplessly to the sound of the machine pumping air into his little lungs.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, siiiiiiiiiix,1, 2, 3, 4, 5, siiiiiiiiiiix,1, 2, 3, 4, 5, siiiiiiiiiix.

Late the next day, the doctors argued passionately about how to extubate my forceful, unbelievably brave little guy, and he was breathing on his own and calling for me soon enough. So thirsty. When we got another “all clear,” we were released to a room he wouldn’t leave for the next five days as he fought relatively minor symptoms of what, after countless never-wracking tests, appears to have been a virus at the bottom of all of this.

And he was ALL CLEAR.

“Mama,” he said after several hours of fasting for one of his countless tests, “I’ne so hungry, and there’s nothin’ I can do about it….” And he cracked a smile.


Miracle Flower. Josh got me this flower for Mother’s Day (that Sunday). It drooped when I placed it by the window, and stood straight up when we weren’t looking after I placed it in front of the hospital bed.

I can’t share every detail of this nightmare because it is just so dark and so personal, and you would be reading for days…. And while sometimes I really need to share this (like right now), there are other times that I just can’t share it at all, and I feel guilty and anxious sharing such a profoundly personal experience.

But he is ALL CLEAR. Though still a little tired, he’s running around at school like nothing happened. He’s fighting with his sister (who’s dealing with her own feelings around this still), and playing soccer with his friends.

…Except that he’s hugging me a little tighter, and I’m hugging him and his sister a lot tighter.

I have to thank our FAMILY for being there every minute of this journey. My parents even managed to text me a photo of themselves when I was having a particularly hard time late one night and they couldn’t be there…. And they all showered us with toys and snacks and love while he recovered all those days in isolation.

I want to thank the wonderful team at Today’s Parent Magazine for the support they gave me that goes way beyond the parametres of co-working — and for the support (and space) they continue to give me as I heal from this trauma. The wise Ms. Scarbiedoll, my manager, got the brunt of my dark, frantic blatherings, and I’ll never forget how she was there for me.

And thank you to my amazing friends, both online and off, who offered to send us food, baked us cookies, called off the hook, DM’d, tweeted, Facebooked and emailed.

And thank you to my beautiful yoga sisters, who brought me delicious vegan food, received my desperate emails, called to check in on me, and emailed and dedicated practices to us.

And, oh my gosh, the TEACHERS and PRINCIPAL of our school, who moved school buses and called and emailed off the hook, and listened and worried, and just adore him….

And, the teachers at our morning school who baked us bread, called, texted, offered childcare and hot lunches for his sister, and listened and worried, and just adore him….

And fellow parents at the school, who kept my fingertips busy texting back and forth, and made veggie meals for me and had their kids craft the cutest get-well cards ever….

And thank you to our pediatrician and his assistant for following this every step of the way and for answering my teary calls and questions.

And, oh wow. Thank you to incredible the staff at SickKids Hospital: Ashley, Emily, Eva, Jenny, Sandy, Dr. F, Dr. Z., Dr. C., that wonderful social worker in Emergency, and all those doctors and nurses whose names I never caught. They gave us the speediest possible results to all the tests we went through, kept us calm, gave us hugs, and listened with such compassion and patience. They saved us.

And thank you to all the walkers at Meaghan’s Walk for that giant hug that touched so many children and families that day.

We are so beyond grateful that for our little guy everything was all clear. Please consider helping the families that are still there by supporting the amazing place, SickKids Hospital, that is there with open arms if you ever need it.

Love,

xo Haley-O


It’s been a long year of waiting. We had hoped it would only be 6 months — and THAT was a long time to go with a “flipper” aka “flap” aka “biteplate with a plastic tooth on it” aka “that I had to take out at night.” Yes, my husband (and children, ahem) have been sleeping beside a toothless wonder for a WHOLE YEAR.

It’s been a long (uncomfortable) year! One day I may regret that I never took advantage of my toothlessness on Halloween, but it’s all still a little sensitive….

Wanna see?

After five hours in the dentist’s chair and the hard work of two brilliant men — a dentist and lab technician, both in the Toronto area, whom I’m thrilled to recommend to anyone who needs any kind of dentistry (as soon as they give me word that I can put their names on here, otherwise, email me) — we have NEW TEETH! CHECKIT!

Don’t they sparkle and GLEAM! (Well, maybe not in this photo — but, trust me, they do SPARKLE. And GLEAM!)

Apparently, my teeth are the most challenging my dentist’s ever seen for this kind of thing, I’m proud to share. Ready for some TMI? I have an uneven jaw, a crossed cuspid (or something), and some crooked features that, you know what?, GIVE ME CHARACTER.

Yes, after this year, I officially have no shame. I have that brutal zit on my cheek — did you notice? And I’m not airbrushing it. But I do insist you know my nose is super swollen and frozen, and I just had my lips stretched and pulled for 5 hours!

Speaking of airbrushing, I’ve come to terms with photo-that-isn’t-airbrushed. It’s part of the journey. I’ve got some weight to lose. But I LOVE MY NEW RACK (my teeth, that is, of course)!

Love!

xo Haley-O


Well, I may have to take it out at night, and I may have to wash it after I eat sometimes (when I CAN eat again), and I may sound a WEE bit like I’m wearing a bite plate, but that will change as the swelling goes down and I get more used to this. It looks pretty amazing, right? (It’s the one on the left – with a wee bit of gore showing on the top.)

I just have to be careful not to smile too big — at least for now — because it’s gory under that upper lip….

Very gory.

I did get laughing gas, and it was awwwwesome. Except I got so high that I told the periodontist about my blog. And now everyone in that office knows about it. He’s asked to be called “Dr. Evil.” So, there you go.

The worst is over. The front tooth is OUT. We know what we’re dealing with — no bone. In a year, I’ll have a perfect permanent tooth, new gums AND a new smile. Exciting!

It’s been less than 24 hours and I’ve adjusted to the reality of all this, although I haven’t shown ANYONE but my dentist and periodontist what I look like without the denture…. I can, honestly, hardly stand to look at it myself! But, it’s okay.

Now I just have to heal, GROW BONE, rest, and, apparently, not stand on my head — not ’til next Thursday, Dr. Evil says.

Thanks so much for all your support!

Love!

xo Haley-O


As it stands, I had quite a day of reflection yesterday, Yom Kippur. You can read ALL about my reflections on “Motherhood and Myself” at Canada Moms Blog, and ALL about my reflections on Rascal’s hideous new jacket — care of Josh-O — at the bTrendie blog.

Don’t let the Canada Moms Blog reflections scare you, though. I’m feeling much better today about things. Maybe because Monkey’s been saying “I love you, Mama” over and over again all morning — did she read my blog? Today’s definitely a new day.

Love!

xo Haley-O


Off to Bermuda BY MYSELF next week…!

Love….
xo Haley-O

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