10 Blogs My Family Wishes I’d Never Written

Everytime I post a new blog I’m pretty sure my mother makes the sign of the cross before reading it. We’re not Catholic but I think this is her way of saying “please don’t let this be about her sex life. Again.”

I get a lot of feedback about my writing but the comments that make me the happiest and most gratified are the ones that say something like, “I can’t believe you said that, but I’m so glad you did.”

I started my blog, in part, because I was reading so much about parenting that I couldn’t relate to, such as Pinterest-worthy school lunches, sleep training, managing behaviours, raising a reader, etc. etc. Most of it was good advice but it was not reflecting my reality as an adoptive mother of one, and then two, young girls who came to me hard-wired with their own opinions, beliefs, likes, dislikes, traumas and experiences. I wasn’t trying to carve an apple into a perfect spiral or teach my pre-K daughter how to write her name, I was just trying to survive.

My tell it like it is style was born, therefore, not out of a desire to be funny or provocative, but because anything less seemed like a waste of time. And since I can’t do it any other way, I might as well own it.

Right, mom?

10. That time I made pizza that turned out like the creepy snake-face guy from Pirates of the Caribbean. https://wineandsmartiesblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/day-2-of-the-rest-of-my-life-cue-sobbing

9. That time I wrote about waxxing toddlers and told everyone to mind their own business. https://urbanmoms.ca/parenting/i-defend-your-right-to-parent/

8. That time we let our oldest daughter befriend a lobster before we cooked it alive. She is now a vegetarian.http://blog.mabelslabels.com/were-eating-your-friend-pass-the-butter

7. That time I electrocuted Leila (by accident). https://wineandsmartiesblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/patience-is-a-virtue-until-you-get-electrocuted/

6. That time my ten-year old had to learn about periods and sex while staring at my 44-year old body floating in the bathtub.https://urbanmoms.ca/parenting/teenagers-parenting/period-talk-my-daughter/

5. That time I wrote about drinking too much. http://blog.mabelslabels.com/moms-lets-talk-about-the-drinking and the time after that,

http://blog.mabelslabels.com/still-talking-drinking , and then the time I vlogged about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7ZpxO96qCk

4. That time I railed against the stupidity of school welcome packages, which is only funny because I’m Chair of the parent council at my kids’ school. https://urbanmoms.ca/parenting/i-defend-your-right-to-parent/

3. That time I made the kids hold my bags while I pooped in the middle of a street in broad daylight. http://www.savvymom.ca/article/myth-perfect-family-vacation/

2. That time I wrote about scheduling sex. http://www.savvymom.ca/article/started-scheduling-sex-calendars/

1. That time I wrote about my first, but certainly not my last, vibrator. https://urbanmoms.ca/parenting/sex-parenting/buying-my-first-vibrator-was-about-way-more-than-sex/


So … About that Easter Bunny….


Confession: I just Googled “What is the religious meaning of Easter?” Because when your almost-5 year old asks “Why do they call it Good Friday?” and the best answer you can come up with is “because there’s no school,” you know you have some work to do.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Easter or Resurrection Sunday,is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Hmmm… Still a little fuzzy. Let’s try “What is the religious meaning of Good Friday?”

Good Friday is a Christian religious holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday, though the last term properly refers to the Friday in Easter week. Based on the details of the canonical gospels, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most likely to have been on a Friday (the day before the Jewish Sabbath).

That clears things up a bit, but how does all this translate into a giant bunny breaking into our home to leave chocolate and over-priced pastel-coloured stuffies?

Glad you asked. Another quick Google search of “What is the connection between Easter and rabbits?” turns up a Huffington Post article from 2011, which states: “The Easter Bunny is perhaps the biggest commercial symbol of Easter. But how did a rabbit and eggs become associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Well there clearly seems to be no correlation between the secular symbols and the Christian holiday.”

Great. Let’s try again.

Discovery.com says “Bunnies, eggs, Easter gifts and fluffy, yellow chicks in gardening hats all stem from pagan roots. These tropes were incorporated into the celebration of Easter separately from the Christian tradition of honoring the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Bunnies, eggs, Easter gifts and fluffy, yellow chicks in gardening hats all stem from pagan roots. These tropes were incorporated into the celebration of Easter separately from the Christian tradition of honoring the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.”

So let me get this straight: in order to explain the religious origins of Easter and Good Friday and why we celebrate these days the way we do, I have to talk about death, resurrection, goddess worship and sex. And not just any kind of sex: rapid, frequent and very effective sex – the kind that only rabbits and pro athletes are (fortunate?) enough to be having.

I think I’ll stick with “Because there’s no school.”

Letter to Myself re. Christmas 2015


December 1, 2015.

Dear Jen,

By now your Christmas preparations will be in full swing. You’ve pulled out the decorations, circled the tree-buying date on your calendar and started a “who’s getting what” list. But if past behaviour is any indication, you will start to go a little crazy around December 20th. You’ll be tired, overwhelmed, stressed and a little bit bitchy. Think PMS with mistletoe. You will resent all the running around, the obligatory social engagements and the pressure you’ve put on yourself to find the perfect gifts. The purpose of this letter is to save you from yourself.

Christmas is like birthing a baby (I think). There’s excitement and anticipation leading up. You are organized, you are ready and you have a pan. You even get a little cocky, congratulating yourself on everything you accomplished in advance, pitying those who weren’t as smart as you. Then it begins and you want to get off the ride. You wonder how you could have miscalculated reality so severely. You beat yourself up. You beat your husband up. And before you know it you are screaming for drugs and vowing “never again.”

Jen, the most important thing you need to remember is that Christmas is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be joyful. It’s not supposed to cause stress, anger or bankruptcy and if it does, you’re doing it wrong. Remember the spirit of Christmas, how it promotes love, togetherness and peace. You got so caught up in having the right stuff with which to celebrate that you forgot a little bit about why we were celebrating in the first place. Yes, there is a lot of shopping that needs to be done: gifts, decorations, food, toys and warm clothes to donate, the all-important sparkly top … these are all part of our enjoyment of the season. But you need to know when enough is enough. If you can’t relax until the garland is up and you’ve found the perfect twinkly lights then, once again, you’re doing it wrong.

Remember the day you went to three stores to find the perfect little ornament to go with the neighbours’ cookies? That was stupid. Your heart was in the right place but you got caught up seeking picture-perfect presentation instead of thinking about the reason for the gift. They are wonderful neighbours who tolerate our dogs, pool parties, overgrown foliage, squeaky trampoline and occasional hot tub nudity. I’m thrilled our kids are growing up together and I hope they never move. Wouldn’t that have been a nicer sentiment to put in the card (minus the nudity) instead of scrawling “Love the Millards” 30 seconds before flying out the door?

Do you remember what caused you the most angst in 2014? I do. It was shopping for people outside our immediate family. Let’s be honest: shit got crazy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make someone happy but for God’s sake, the 15-year old who babysat once is probably not expecting diamonds. So chill.

We are not a religious family but this year we need to find a way to teach our daughters about the true meaning of Christmas. In 2014, the Kindness Elves helped us promote random acts of kindness that hopefully they’re continuing to practice. I’m not suggesting we erect a live nativity in the front yard but maybe it’s time to stop being so afraid of talking about God and Jesus. It’s okay if you don’t always know what to say, and it’s okay to not have all the answers. When in doubt, refer to chill out instructions.

In short, you need to take it easy. Less is more. Christmas is all about the kids, and they don’t care if the garland comes from Walmart or Pottery Barn. They don’t even know what garland is, and in a few years they’ll be spending most of their down time with friends. What they do care about is a warm, loving home, time and attention from mom and dad, and presents under the tree. If your kids are happy, your family is healthy and we’re all together, then everything else is just noise. Don’t give in to the temptation to make Christmas about more than that.

And as an extra bonus for sticking to that healthy eating plan (you look fabulous, by the way), here are a few more suggestions for making Christmas 2015 a little easier. You thought of them while lying awake wondering about amazon.ca’s Christmas shipping cut off.

1. Organize a pancake breakfast for staff at school. Hold it the morning after the winter concert. This will be your gift to everyone who interacts with the girls outside their homeroom teachers. Nothing says “I appreciate how much you care for my children” like a table full of syrup and bacon.

2. Almost no one appreciates knick knacks, coffee table books or joke gifts that clutter up their home (except for Daren, who could open a museum). But everyone appreciates something delicious that has the added bonus of disappearing when you’re done with it, so give more edible gifts.

3. Your friends will be feeling equally frazzled and clueless as to what to get you. So instead of stressing over gifts, plan a night out in January as your gift to each other. A kidless night out is better than a new scarf or lip gloss any day, even it means pitching a tent in someone’s driveway and watching SITC reruns on an iPhone.

4. Resist the pathological need to see that person you worked with in 2011 “before the holidays.” Unless she’s leaving the country on December 25 you can see each other AFTER the holidays. It won’t be any less special.

5. Know this: Twisted Peppermint is NOT THE BOSS OF YOU. If you don’t have Bath & Body Works candles and hand soaps scattered throughout your house, Christmas is not ruined. Resist the temptation to buy 13 soaps to get nine free, and spend it on wine instead.



Patience is a Virtue. Until you get electrocuted.

Everything was going fine until I got electrocuted.

Yup, that’s how we started a 36-hour east coast solo parenting mission. With electrocution.

Actually, it began with me making a promise to myself that I would be more patient with my children so this story isn’t ALL bad.

We’ve had visitors for two of the last three weeks and while they’ve all been wonderful (no, really) the lack of privacy, mostly cloudy weather and living in an 800-square foot cottage have taken their toll on my mental health rendering me a tad snappy with the little people who call themselves my children.

Full disclosure: patience is not one of my strong suits, even at the best of times. I’m the kind of person who thinks instant coffee takes too long, who wonders why the first car in the advance green lane is so slow off the mark, who has broken more than one appliance by forcing it to stop before its cycle is complete. So when it comes to small children, I tend to get a bit murdery over things like baby talk, rapid-fire “why is that plate blue”-type questions, and hysterics over spiders so small they are invisible to the naked eye.

Maybe it’s because I have zero experience with kids under four and have never learned to love and appreciate the baby stages. Or maybe I’m just an asshole. Either way, I think God knew what she was doing when she gave me two four-year olds instead of infants because I’m a much better mom when my children are not acting like children.

Don’t get me wrong, I think babies and toddlers are amazing. Every time I see a bassinet or a snowsuit with ears my good ovary practically explodes. And I can appreciate how nice it is to have a little tiny being that depends on you for everything and actually gives a rat’s ass about your opinion. But as much as I tell myself I have to appreciate these years where they’re small and impressionable and gentle, I sometimes find it really difficult to step back, summon my zen and live in the “poop” / “vagina” / mind-numbing cartoon / selective-hearing / milk-spilling moment.

But enough about me.

With Daren on his way back to Toronto for a night, I woke up to a picture-perfect day of bright sunshine and calm water – one of those days the maritimes gives you once or twice a month, if you’re lucky. So it felt like the right time to give myself the “today is a new day / cherish the little things / don’t be such an ogre” speech.

This lasted through breakfast and even into the late morning, as we headed to the barn for Harmony’s riding lesson. As Harmony was tacking up, Leila asked if she could go and see the horses out in the field. At this point, two things happened. First, I thanked heaven for blessing me with ONE child who bothers to ask my opinion. Second, I made the curious decision to touch the fence myself deciding, apparently, that this would be better than simply staying away from it.

Needless to say there was a rather strong electrical current running through said fence and upon touching it I received a nice little morning pick me up, along with a mild heart attack. The entire incident resulted in a minor setback in my Kumbaya attitude but the presence of my eyebrows helped get things back on track.

And tomorrow is another day.



The Terminal, starring Daren

She's going to kill me.

She’s going to kill me.

Question: Let’s say you were on your way home from a short, romantic getaway with your husband and between flights he lost his photo ID, meaning he could not carry on with the trip home rendering him a virtual airport prisoner and catapulting you into another solo parenting mission of indeterminate length. Would you:

A) Respect his privacy and not mock him in his time of need

B) Start making jokes about Tom Hanks and The Terminal.

C) Blog about it because eventually it will be funny (like in 2017).

Option C it is!!

So there we were, in Saskatoon, partying like underage Disney child stars with the Stanley Cup and a couple hundred close friends. It was supposed to be a quick one-night getaway, a holiday within our holiday, a chance to spend a couple of days together without the kids. (Quick pause for context: I drive a 5-year old Volkswagen and buy my underwear at Costco. These facts, though fascinating, prove that we are far from a jet-setting couple. We rarely go gallivanting off to exotic locales like Saskatoon. Nor do we have an abundance of friends who win Stanley Cups. This was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing which makes my tale of woe all the more poignant. Or ridiculous.)

It all started just fine. We spent Sunday flying from Charlottetown to Toronto, then on to Saskatoon. (It’s only fair that I pause here to confess that I left my ID on the plane and only got it back because WestJet paged me about 30 seconds before we walked out of the airport. But that’s hardly relevant so let’s carry on).

After a great night having fun and catching up with old friends it was back to the hotel for a few hours sleep before starting the long trek back to PEI.

Bright and early we boarded the first of three legs that would take us back home to the girls. The plan was: Saskatoon-Calgary, Calgary-Toronto then Toronto-Charlottetown. (Perhaps my first clue that we were destined for disaster should have been when we started by flying in the EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION of our final destination. Or perhaps it was the gentleman who boarded in front of us wearing beer underwear and carrying a cooler that surely contained human organs).


If you’re counting, that’s four provinces in 36 hours. But we were kidless and on vacation so it didn’t seem so bad. I actually got to finish an entire magazine article in one sitting, and Daren got to enjoy some in-flight entertainment.

"Dangit. I've seen this one."

“Dangit. I’ve seen this one.”

Everything was going well until my husband got off the Saskatoon-Calgary leg and promptly lost his photo ID. Somewhere between Gate 44 and Gate 46, it vanished. Apparently they are pretty strict on that “no one over 18 flies without photo ID” rule, so I boarded the Calgary-Toronto flight not knowing when I would see my husband again and having no idea how I was going to get him home.

But by the time I landed in Toronto he’d managed to sweet talk WestJet (who were AMAZING through the entire ordeal) into letting him fly using a photo of his driver’s license provided by our babysitter back home. And by midnight he was home, just six hours after our originally scheduled arrival time. Now I can’t wait until he wakes up and reads this. He’ll be so happy!!

UPDATE re. Octopus Pizza and feelings of murder

Update to my post from earlier today:

First, my sister-in-law Aja has helpfully pointed out that the octopus pizza I lovingly prepared for my children last night was ACTUALLY inspired by a character in a very successful major motion picture. You be the judge.

I know....Just...Please...


davy jones

Terrifying dude from Pirates of the Caribbean

Pizza, terrifying dude. Pizza, terrifying dude. Go ahead, scroll back and forth.

The pizza is still worse than a Jennifer Lopez rom com but at least it proves I have some artistic talent.

Second, after feeling all murdery last night I captured this little gem today. It has temporarily restored my faith in my children as well as my ability to survive them.

Smile or she will kill us

Smile or she will kill us

J xo

Liar, liar pants on fire.

“Mommy! Mommy! The tooth fairy didn’t come.”

Right. I knew there was something I forgot to do last night.

And this is how we start the day. H close to tears and Daren and I locking eyes, simultaneously mouthing the F word.

Did I mention it’s not even 6:30 am?

Did I also mention the tooth had already been lost several times, including once at the bottom of the pool?

"A little to the left Daddy. I think it's over there."

“A little to the left Daddy. I think it’s over there.”

All last night this thing was coveted like the Hope Diamond. I even dreamt about an old lady on the side of ship, standing in her jammies, on tippy toe, throwing Harmony’s tooth into the ocean. Which was okay because at that point I’d fitted it with a GPS tracker and insured it with Lloyd’s of London.

I had one job after the girls fell asleep, and I failed miserably. Now I know how Al Cowlings felt 20 years ago. YOU HAD ONE JOB.

white bronco

But all was not lost. Daren managed to slip a few toonies under her pillow for her to find before school, so thanks to some trickery, dishonesty and a modest cash payment to our 7 year old, the day was back on track. Now I’m forced to wonder…. If my 7 year old is that gullible, what can I put over on the 4 year old? Broccoli tastes like chocolate? Pizza is good for you? There will be plenty of money left for you to go to college? The possibilities are endless.