Pizza knife.

Packing up to move is always more work than you anticipate. You always have more stuff than you remember; packing that stuff always take longer than you think it will, and there’s always a few unexpected obstacles that set you back a few hours. We hit our first unexpected obstacle last night.

Five years ago, we purchased an area rug from Ikea. It lived in our first apartment, then it moved with us to our current apartment where it endured the infancy and toddlerhood of Monk A & B. Needless to say, the area rug is now worn and tired looking. Time to go.

Around 8 p.m. Dan pulled up the area rug to put out with the morning trash – and there lay our first unexpected obstacle. The rug had left a thick layer of weird sand-like glue all over the hardwood floor. I wish I had taken a picture so you could fully appreciate how bad it was. Picture an area rug, like this one:


Now imagine that area rug is made entirely of glue. That’s how bad it was.

I swept it and then mopped it with wood floor cleaner and Vim. I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed it with a scouring pad.  I even picked at it with my finger nails. Nothing worked. We needed a putty knife to scrape it off. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a putty knife and it was well past 9 p.m. – all the stores were closed. I rummaged around the kitchen drawers looking for another tool that might work. The only thing I could find was a pizza knife.

pizza knife

Dan and I spent the next two hours taking turns scraping the floor with the pizza knife. And yes, we commented multiple times about how ill-prepared we are to become homeowners.

Finally, around midnight, the glue was off. In fact, after all the scraping, scrubbing and mopping, the floors in this apartment are probably cleaner now than when we moved in.

We learned two important lessons. First, Ikea area rugs are inexpensive for a reason. Second, it’s time to invest in more household tools – a pizza knife ain’t gonna cut it.

Heading “north”.

We are packing up and heading “north”. I put “north” in quotations because people who grew up in Muskoka (Dan included) like to say they are from “The North”. I scoff at this because I took a work-related trip to Moosonee once. That is north. My cousin lives in Whitehorse. That is really north. In my opinion, even North Bay just manages to squeak by as “north”, but that might only be because they added it to their city’s name. Sort of cheating if you ask me. Anyway, Bracebridge is north of Toronto so technically, we are moving our family north.

The decision has been in the works for years. I always knew Dan wanted to move back to his hometown and he’s now able to do so because he can work remotely. It took me a while to come around. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always loved Bracebridge, but the thought of moving there is a bit scary. After all, Toronto is a modern, fast-paced urban centre. And here’s Bracebridge:

Okay, a slight exaggeration as that photo is circa 1910. Bracebridge has made some advancements since then:

Bracebridge 2014… just kidding! That photo was actually taken in 2012.

Last week I considered how our move would affect this blog. As of August 23 no longer will I be an urban mom. In fact, I won’t even be a suburban mom. I’ll be a small town mom?! Maybe not. Bracebridge has a Walmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire and a Loblaws; in a few years it will probably be considered a suburb of Toronto.

I’ll miss Toronto – particularly my sisters and friends who live in the city. In Bracebridge I will have a grand total of two friends. Wait, four friends if I’m allowed to count my in-laws. As much as I’ll miss Toronto, I’m also looking forward to the benefits of living in a smaller community and owning our very first home.

So look out Bracebridge, here we come! Looking forward to a bright future in the great white “north”.

Seeing greige.

I’ve often thought I should apologize for the infrequency of new posts on this blog. After all, my kids are still napping daily. What the heck am I doing during their naps if I’m not writing? That varies, but recently one thing in particular has been occupying most of my free time: Pinterest.

I know, I know. In the past I’ve poked fun at Pinterest-posting moms. I even shared this on Facebook after Monk A & B were born:

Pinterest moms

That, however, was before we bought our first house (more about our upcoming move in the next post) and I had a fantastic excuse to decorate. Did you know that, on Pinterest, there are photos of bedrooms and bathrooms painted in every colour of the Benjamin Moore rainbow?

I’m still figuring out how it all works, but now that I’m on Pinterest, I have seven “boards” and one “private board”. A private board means no one else can see it except me. Good thing too, because that’s where I pin “borrowed” Facebook photos from unsuspecting friends so I can copy their decorating choices in my new house (is your house featured on my private board? You’ll never know…) (Also, is that illegal?)

I have one Pinterest follower: Dan. I know Dan secretly thinks I’ve become obsessed with paint colours – particularly finding the perfect “greige” for our new kitchen. FYI, greige falls somewhere between grey and beige on the colour spectrum – hence its clever name. Luckily my new pal, Pinterest, gave me the idea to make my own homemade, oversized paint swatches to help narrow down all the greiges.


Just a few of the oversized greige swatches I created.

Upon examining the oversized swatches, Dan promptly informed me that most of these colours are exactly the same. Even so, during the next walk-through of our new house, I brought the oversized swatches and made Dan and my mother-in-law hold them all up.

Dan holds the oversized swatches.

Dan refused to show his head in this photo. I believe this is his way of rebelling against the oversized paint swatches.

My real estate agent, Kyle, probably also believes I have a slight obsession with my oversized swatches. He watched me go through the exercise of trying to narrow down my choice and offered some reassurance, as realtors often do: “I don’t think you can go wrong with any of those colours, Laura” he said diplomatically. But what he probably wanted to say was: “All of the colours on those unevenly cut pieces of bristol board are exactly the same, Laura”.

I know you’ll be extremely relieved to hear that, yes, I think I have finally settled on a greige paint colour for our new kitchen. Unfortunately, Dan says I’ve already spent our entire paint budget making the oversized swatches. He suggested I pour all the paint samples I purchased into one giant vat and that will give us enough paint to finish the entire house. Plus, he says, it’s all the exact same colour anyway. Very funny, Dan. Might make an interesting Pinterest post though…

A day for others.

Today is Mother’s Day. For some, it’s a day of breakfast in bed, big hugs and special home-made cards.  For some, it’s a day to send flowers, call or Skype to remind mom of how special she really is. And for some it’s a day of excitement and anticipation as they await the arrival of a little one who will one day call them “mom”.

Then there are others.

Others who are struggling to become a mom. Who are undergoing the emotional roller coaster of fertility treatments. Who are trying their best to focus on their own moms today and not the fact that they haven’t become one yet.

Others who are remembering a special mom who is no longer here. Who are patiently and gracefully waiting for this day to be over altogether because, no matter how hard they try to remember all the wonderful memories, the truth is, this is still one of the hardest days to get through.

Others who are spending their Mother’s Day consulting with doctors about new test results and unconfirmed diagnoses. Who feel helpless because in the outside world “mom knows best” but here, it seems the nurses usually do.

Yes, this is a day for mothers. But it is also a day for the others. A day for renewed hope, peace-of-mind and continued strength.





Chicken wire.

This past weekend, Dan tweeted:

I replied:

If you read this post you know that we have already taken steps to toddler-proof our home. Dan’s tweet was about our biggest obstacle to date: the railing of doom (I just made that up – we’ve never called it “the railing of doom” before, but it’s appropriate).

We rent an apartment on the top two floors of a hundred-year-old house in Toronto. Apparently, people a hundred years ago were shorter because our hallway railing only comes up to my mid-thigh. Actually, come to think of it, here’s further proof that people used to be shorter:

Here's me standing next to a very old house in The Cotswolds, England. See how short this door is?

Here’s me standing next to a very old house in The Cotswolds, England. See how short this door is?

Anyway, the railing of doom is dangerous for one-year-olds. Especially one-year-olds who like to climb, like Monk A. It had to be fixed and Dan was determined to fix it. Admittedly, I was skeptical. You see, my husband is a musician. And a painter. And a web-developer. And his solution involved 50 feet of plastic chicken wire. You’d be skeptical too.

But, I was wrong. He pulled it off:

Railing of doom with new safety netting.

Railing of doom with new safety netting.

Side note about the above photo: When I started this blog, Dan agreed to let me post pictures of Monk A & B, but not pictures of himself. This happens to work out very well for me because, for the purposes of this blog, I am now married to Ryan Reynolds.

So, thanks to the creativity and hard work of my husband (Ryan) the railing of doom is no more. Not only are Monk A & B safe, but we can get a sweet game of badminton going in our living room. And we can use the extra 41 feet of plastic chicken wire to raise chickens, if we so desire.

A reminder.

A little off topic for this blog of mine, but had to share a letter I just sent to a great restaurant in my neighbourhood.

Dear Management,

Last week I enjoyed a delicious meal at your establishment, Green Eggplant. Great food, great service, great atmosphere. But the reason I’m writing is to commend your staff members.

After our meal, as my friend and I grumbled about venturing back outside into the bitter cold to make our way home, we spotted a man coming in the door of your restaurant. This man was obviously suffering from a mental illness and was most likely going to spend the night outside on one of the coldest nights of the year. He walked into Green Eggplant talking to himself, which quickly escalated into a bit of a scene as he started yelling at patrons. It was hard to watch. I fully expected one of your employees to confront the man and try to make him leave. I wondered if someone would have to call the police. After all, who wants a homeless person in their restaurant?

Your staff, however, chose to do the opposite. I looked over and saw a waitress showing the man to a table. She spoke kindly and softly to him, which immediately calmed him down. She brought him a warm drink and some bread. I felt myself exhale. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to hug her for leading by example. For reminding us that having compassion for a fellow human being is more than just a monthly donation to your charity of choice. For giving us a little bit of perspective about how fortunate most of us really are.

When you live in a big city, it’s easy tally up the frustrations of day-to-day urban life: gridlock traffic, crowded streetcars, endless construction, noisy neighbours, not to mention the never-ending winter we’ve had these past few months. But that night, at your restaurant, I felt grateful to live in Toronto – a city with abundant kindness, warm coffee, and people who just want to do the right thing.

So, thank you. And bravo to your staff members who were working last Wednesday night. You should be very proud.

Laura Sundy
Beaches Resident

Love thyself.

Happy Valentine’s Day, all. This is the holiday most folks either love or hate. Parents of very young children, however, are completely indifferent to it. You see, babies and one-year olds have no idea what a Valentine’s card is and parents of these babies and one-year olds are just very, very tired.

This post is dedicated to all the moms of babies and one-year olds because, this Valentine’s Day, the love we need most of all is love for ourselves (why? Read this post). This is especially true when it comes to loving our post-baby bodies. I know, I know – this topic has been written about and talked about to death. And that’s probably making the problem even worse. For example, did you see this?

Workout Woman

This picture stirred up some major controversy. And rightly so. Luckily, as a mom of twins, I can more easily ignore these kind of things. Because, unless workout woman stuffs all three of those kids back up there and carries them around for about eight months, she will never understand my excuse. Okay, okay, let’s be more realistic: just stick the three-year old up there and see how her stomach looks afterward.

Then there are beautiful blog posts like this one, in which the author describes her ever-changing body as the journey from seed to mother’s womb. When I read this, I really, really tried to relate. I should be able to appreciate this poetic way of looking at my body . After all, I’m an English Lit major. I closed my eyes and imagined my stretch marks to be the roads of life. Nope. Can’t do it. You see, I was the English Lit major who got rejected from the elite creative writing class because my short story entitled, “The Red Leaf” didn’t cut it (but look at me now, suckers – I have a BLOG!).

The truth is, even if you get back down to your pre-baby weight, your body will not be the same. Things shift. And then they resettle into a new place, usually not exactly where you’d like them to be. But that’s life, friends. Literally. That’s what carrying around life for nine months will do to you.

My wish for moms of babies and one-year olds this Valentine’s Day is to stop striving for the body we had before pregnancy and instead strive to at least respect our new one. I also recommend purging all your pre-pregnancy clothes that no longer fit. Get rid of them. In fact, why not donate them? Yes, donate them to workout woman. She appears to be in need of some full-length shirts.

Mom guilt.

You’ve read them. I’ve read them too. Blogs and parenting articles about a so-called battle happening in our very own local playgrounds, public libraries, and splash pads: the “mom war”.

I’ve seen articles posted on Facebook and Twitter – blogs like this one, which defends stay-at-home-moms. Or articles like this one, which defends working moms. Angry parents have penned quite a bit on this topic – angry parents who apparently hang out with some pretty inconsiderate people who say pretty inappropriate things (my question to these authors: why do you hang out with such ignorant, rude people? Please ditch them immediately!)

Frankly, I’m growing tired of hearing about this topic. I’ve been at home with Monk A and Monk B for 17 months now and in all my encounters with friends, family and even strangers, I have yet to come across someone who is rude enough to imply that I don’t work hard every day. Mind you, I don’t get out much or interact with many adults, so that may be the reason. But even so, when it came time to resign from my previous job in public relations, my “working mom” friends were overwhelmingly supportive of my decision and still are.

Here’s the thing: we were all judged by others before we became parents and we were all guilty of judging others before we became parents. So why does it sting so much more post-kids? I’ll tell you why: mom guilt.

Parents, particularly moms, feel guilty all the time about everything – myself included. In fact, as I write this, Monk A and Monk B are watching a second consecutive episode of The Wiggles and I feel guilty because I read that TV will probably damage their brains in some way.

Here are the things I have felt most guilty about since Monk A and Monk B were born:

  1. Letting one baby cry while I attend to the other.

  1. Feeding them only formula from 3.5 months onward because pumping became too tiring and time consuming for me to bear any longer.

  1. Feeding them jarred baby food instead of making my own.

  1. Sleeping training.

  1. Not sleeping training them properly.

  1. The urge I get to throw them across the room at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, after two hours of listening to them scream.

  1. Yelling or speaking unnecessarily harshly at them (most frequently occurs the day after #6). One particularly low point was when I actually swore at a six month old Monk A because he wouldn’t drink his bottle.

  1. The time I accidentally dropped a full jar of Desitin cream on Monk B’s head.

  1. Not talking to them enough during the day “in a constant stream” like the parenting books say I should.

  1. Letting them watch too much television and probably damaging their brain cells. Or, at the very least, preventing new brain cells from forming.

Admittedly, I should feel guilty about some of these things (um, swearing at your baby isn’t cool). But the truth is, I shouldn’t feel guilty about most of the items on this list. And neither should you.

To say parenting is challenging is an understatement. At times, it pushes you to your absolute breaking point and beyond. It’s a 24/7 unrelenting job that you’re often performing in less than ideal conditions (for me, it’s lack of sleep). But it’s the job that you want to succeed at more than anything else in the world.

So this mom war we hear so much about? It’s not really about a battle we have with each other. No, it’s about the battle we wage with ourselves. And I say it’s high time we call a truce.

You can’t feed babies Starbucks.

I spotted one at first. Then two. Then a whole gang of them. We have ants. It’s no surprise – like any house with young children, there is always food on the floor: fresh, organic, carefully prepared food. Heck, if I were an ant, I’d eat off my kitchen floor too.

To be honest though, I’m not a superstar in the kitchen. I don’t enjoy cooking. I eat to live, not the other way around. For six years I worked at a busy PR agency where it was not uncommon to have Starbucks for lunch. In fact, Dan and I have mused about living in the future – with the Jetsons – where you get all your nutrients from a pill instead of having to grocery shop and prepare meals. That would suit me just fine.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) when Monk A & B turned six months that had to change. You can’t feed babies Starbucks.

I decided to try Baby Led Weaning (read this post) mostly so I could avoid the task of making my own baby food. When that didn’t go exactly as planned I ended up feeding them some purees. Most of my friends made their own pureed baby food. I made some too, but 85 per cent of the time I bought jarred food from the store (gasp!). Note: for those who aren’t familiar with the unspoken rules of urban parenting, buying baby food in jars is considered to be a no-no. Similar to feeding your children formula instead of breast milk. Or letting them sleep in a drawer. You know, all the things that will surely prevent them from becoming professional athletes or the next Steve Jobs.

Anyway, fast forward a few months. Monk A & B are almost a year old, so the puree phase is over. They need real food so I have to step it up. Now, much of my free time is spent peeling, chopping, steaming and searching through my tupperware cupboard trying to find lids that match the containers (where do they go?)

I’m pretty proud of the food I’m making. Until I start trolling around the internet for new meal ideas. There are entire sites dedicated to baby and toddler recipes – recipes that could rival my grandmother’s cookbook. And then there’s Pinterest. My girlfriend describes Pinterest as the modern mother’s nemesis. Because gone are the days when you could show up to your child’s soccer game with this half-time team snack:

Sliced Watermelon

You are now expected to bring this:

Watermelon Basked

Thankfully, there are still a few years before I have to figure out how to make a watermelon basket. In the meantime, Monk A & B will continue to eat wholesome, balanced, yet simple, meals. And the ants in my kitchen will continue to feast on the most wholesome, balanced crumbs they’ve ever tasted.

*Not to worry, we did purchase childproof ant traps. And a mop.

For the babies.

Monk A is crawling, standing and stepping. The time has come to baby proof our home.

We visited a special baby proofing store and purchased all the necessities: gates, outlet covers, cabinet locks, full body helmets. You know, the usual stuff. While we were there, the store’s manager offered us their “safety consulting service”. This means a person comes to your house, tells you why it’s a death trap, and then makes it safe. No thank you, I say. I already have a guy who does all of that. When we get home, I call my dad.

My dad is my go-to person for installing, assembling and building items out of slabs of wood. Dan can do these things too, but my dad is a pro at constructing indestructible items. If there was ever a tornado to sweep through my parents’ neighbourhood, I have no doubt the shelving units dad built in their garage would be the only things left standing in the pile of rubble.

When Dan’s cousin came over a few months ago (she is expecting twins) I showed her our cribs. She asked what their safety rating was. All I could do was stare at her blankly. To be honest, I don’t even know how to go about finding a safety rating for a crib. Or any item for that matter. I do, however, know that my dad drove to Walmart before we bought the cribs and did everything short of fall asleep in them himself to ensure they wouldn’t fall apart. To me, that means more than any safety rating.

So anyway, I call my dad and ask if he can come install some gates “for the babies”. I always add “for the babies” after any request now. Because he’ll do absolutely anything for the babies. For example:

“Hey dad, can you drive around to every Toys R Us store in Toronto and find the high chairs I want, for the babies?” (He did.)

“Dad, do you mind storing this giant pile of clothes and equipment we aren’t using anymore for the babies?” (He is.)

“For Christmas, dad, I’d really love a PVR and also a really nice cottage on the lake… for the babies” (TBD.)

My dad agrees to install the gates.The next day he calls. He has done some research on the internet. He wants to be sure we have purchased the best gates, which apparently are KidCo. Luckily, we have indeed purchased KidCo gates. I’m happy to hear the internet says they are the best because, for the price we paid, they should be able to keep prisoners securely inside the Kingston Penitentiary.

A few days later dad comes over, toolbox in hand. We expect the installation to take about an hour and after we’ll grab some lunch at Tim Hortons. Unfortunately, the instructions look like this:

Installation Instructions

Keep in mind the gate comes in tiny pieces – like lego – and the staircase in our 100+ year old house is slanted, making the installation even more challenging. Four hours and a few profanities later, the gate is successfully installed:


I know, not the prettiest gate you’ve ever seen. To the naked eye, it may look like those slabs of wood were thrown on there haphazardly. But your naked eye is mistaken. Each piece was carefully measured, sawed and drilled. The corner bumper with masking tape was my own personal touch.

“Well, I better hit the road before rush hour,” dad says, wiping the sweat from his brow and packing up his toolbox. I hesitate. There is still the matter of the front porch. You see, I like to sit on our porch with Monk A & B, but the front steps were becoming a bit of a problem, especially since there are no gates in existence designed to fit in this particular space (not even at the special baby-proofing store).

I finally work up the nerve to ask: “um, dad, there’s one more thing I need…”

We head down to the front porch where I stand uselessly while dad takes careful measurements. Then he snaps the tape measurer shut and says, “I’ll come up with something.”

And that he did. Two weeks later, he delivers this:

Front Porch Gate

Not only has he designed and constructed a customized gate for our front porch, he has also stained it a lovely shade of grey (I like grey). The gate is installed without a hitch. Dad is pleased, I am pleased. Our neighbour is slightly confused as to why we have installed a large fence across the porch, but that’s beside the point.

Dan and I can rest easy now knowing Monk A won’t be falling down stairs or off the porch anytime soon. Next up? Installing those cabinet locks. Luckily, I have a guy who does that – for the babies, of course.