Kids at the Condo

This year I happily hosted my sister and her family and my brother and his family (separately!) in my little postage-stamp sized condo – at one-bathroom, one-bedroom plus den, it’s an intimate arrangement.  I am not sure how much longer my nephews and nieces, never mind my brother and sister’s spouses, are going to entertain overnight visiting as much-fun, but for now they keep coming and I love hosting.

It is during these visits where I am included in the little worlds that my nephew’s and niece’s inhabit as they curiously expand their intellect.

A few of my favourite moments this year in no particular order:


It’s a miracle!  I am cooking in my condo kitchen for my family.  Mind you I am making the simplest of dinners – fajita’s.

We are chatting away, my nephew and niece are playing with bits and pieces of Lego when I hear this question:

“Aunt D-D, why do you need a kitchen in your hotel room?”


“Aunt D-D has the biggest house! She even has an elevator!”

As they enter the smallest living space they’ve ever seen in their life-time.


We leave my condo, I pull down my prescription sunglasses so I can see what I am doing and I lock the door. My nephew quietly twists and turns making his way down the hallway in front of me reaching the elevators first.  We can hear the “beep, beep, beep” of the elevator as it climbs up to our floor.  In serious thought my nephew turns to me and dead-pans:

“Auntie D-D,” long pause as he fidgets his shoe against the carpet, he stops and stands-still looking directly at me, “You look K-E-W-L”

He doesn’t wait for an answer, he turns around to focus on the nothing at the other end of the hallway.

Points for me and my shades!

My Nieces and I

Spending time with my nieces and nephews is always an adventure, from hearing about my car being too small, letting me in on their “family secrets” (dad farts…) and explaining their “big” complaint about life not being fair (…not always getting their way…).

Today was spent ferrying around two of my nieces, 11 and 9.

We were discussing something super important, I don’t remember the topic! The littlest, in the back seat being obtuse and making broad snappy sweeping statements directed at her older sister.

And then my eldest niece said something so unexpected.

Growing up she loved listening to adults share stories. I’ve told my fair share of stories. One story in particular has evidently made its mark. The story involved an old boss of mine and the go-to-question he’d ask us when challenging the statements we’d make when we wanted his support.

So as we were travelling along the highway at break-neck speed (faster than walking), the littlest niece was goading her older sister into an argument.

That is when my eldest niece quietly pulled out my old bosses favourite challenging question and asked her little sister, “Would you bet your future house on that statement?”


(Artwork from when they were “kids”, before they started saying adult-like statements, can we stop them from growing up!!)

The Emergency

My day started out pretty great. After 9 hours of needed sleep, I woke up mostly refreshed. Whatever that thing that was subconsciously stressing me seemed only to be a memory.

Cracking my hands, stopping off at my coffee shop on time, weaving my way through morning traffic, I was at my desk a good 30 minutes early. I had this! I’d breeze through the looming documentation even though I’d be making an effort to concentrate.

I popped open my iPad. I was going to need that playlist to get me through the next few hours. Thank you Chloé.

All settled, earbuds in, playlist on when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a pop-up notification on my iPad.

Hmmm…a family group update. And like the distracted person I can sometimes be I reached over to see what the latest update was all about.

And what was it all about!

It was about my nephew sporting a newly, shaved to the skin, Aang-The-Airbender look! What! So cute. But why.

“Oh dear …. we found lice this am!”

This wouldn’t normally get any thoughts racing through my mind. He lives pretty far away, BUT we did spend the holidays together ….. and there is that possibility a little undetected nymph hopped from his head to ….. all of our heads ….

Now I have a very informed sister who lives close to me. She is informed about most topics. Not just slightly informed, she is FULLY informed. If ever I need to be informed she’s the person I call. I don’t Google, I call her. I love her for that (and other reasons too) but she is super good at calming me down, giving me tips and tricks and basically calling me off from the ledge. I won’t lie, sometimes she will inform me when I am nowhere near the ledge and then I walk over to it and peer over – just to make sure I don’t want to fall over the ledge – basically she keeps me in line.

So I call her. No answer on her cell phone. No answer on her home phone

Argh. She’s probably dealing with this potential lice situation with her girls. I better do the same thing!

I quickly Google “Lice Removal”. I scan the listings and find one with a positive review and call their office. I need someone quickly. The office who can see me ASAP is close to my house. I pick their first available time, 1 hour from the time I’d called, I didn’t have much time so I composed a note to my absent boss and project manager.

“Dear Boss, I have an emergency appointment and will be leaving the office for the day. I expect to be back online by 1pm. This will not hinder our deadline for next week as I will be sure to make up the time. Best Regards”

I pack up my things and tear out of the office, scratching my head, feeling my hair moving on it’s own. I can hardly hold the steering wheel for fear that I have bugs crawling all over my head!

10 minutes away from my appointment, my sister calls me back.

“Sorry don, I didn’t hear your call. I was busy putting away laundry.”

“Just putting away laundry?” I ask, probing, isn’t she worried about a potential lice infestation in her children’s beautiful long hair?!

“What are you up to,” she asks calmly, nothing doing!

What! What am I doing?! I am doing what she is doing?! No? I panic slightly and reply as calmly as I can muster, “I am going to a clinic to have my head checked for lice.”

“Huh, now?” She responds all blasé.

I feel my blood pressure rising, “Ya, aren’t YOU worried about lice?”

“Um, not really, our nephew would likely have only had eggs in his hair when we saw him, so that would have taken time for them to hatch…,” and she continued on her explanation of the life cycle of Louse, including how they lay their eggs, how long they live, how many eggs they lay a day..on and on..and my head feels like it’s going to explode.

She finishes her explanation and reiterates her baiting question, “So you are going to a clinic now to get your head checked for lice?”

“Yes,” I state matter-of-fact and rather proud of my brave decision, “I want to know if I have lice, can you imagine if I have them and I spread them to the dojang,” I gasp the last part. The dojang, I wouldn’t want to be the reason it has a lice infestation, never mind my house, my friends!

She continues her questions wanting to get to the bottom of my decision to be checked immediately, “Did you just up and leave the office?”

Still not understanding what she is getting at I enthusiastically reply, “Yes, I up and left – but not before I sent a note to my boss to let him know I had an emergency appointment.”

“WHAT,” she replies incredulously, “EMERGENCY, you said EMERGENCY!!” And with that she is laughing so hard she can’t breathe!!! “It’s just lice don, it won’t kill you, EMERGENCY,” she continues, “Imagine if my husband up and left his job for a lice EMERGENCY! How many eggs do you think would have hatched between 10am and 5pm!?”

I shiver at the thought but with the visual I burst out laughing and realize my emergency isn’t so much of an emergency but rather a “peace-of-mind” appointment.

For the record I DO NOT have lice, nymphs, nits etc. I did however get a nice hours worth of combing…front to back, the “Donald Trump” followed by the back to front.

I can recommend NitWorks Lice Removal for a relaxing, however intense hair combing. For expert advice, I can recommend my sister 🙂


Originally, this last blog of 2015 was long winded about why as a child I was relegated to dishwasher duty. I am messy in the kitchen. Also there had been a paragraph or two about the number of people packed into my parents 4 bedroom bungalow for a week. It’s squishy and a little like camping only with a functioning kitchen and bathrooms. If camping were only this organized, warm and dry!

But none of those stories are as funny as the stories I am collecting from spending 7 days hanging out, in some form, with my nieces and nephews.

We just celebrated my birthday. It’s fun celebrating surrounded by kids who love any excuse to be celebrating. I baked a cake for the event and decided it would be fun to have my nieces and nephews ice it.

I had this handled.

This was my idea and as I began setting up to make the icing, oddly everyone above the age of 10 disappeared from the vacinity of the kitchen.

I had this handled.

Standing in the kitchen with my 5 little helpers all vying for attention, all wanting to be part of mixing the icing, two were arguing, two were pushing their chairs around the kitchen, colliding with each other and the 5th was cutely grunting something I couldn’t understand.

I had this handled.

Arranging the two fellas colliding was easy, next was refereeing the argument.

“So tell me what’s happening.”

“Well…”, said in a high pitched voice…

“Without the drama, just tell me the story calmly.”

“Well, she kept telling me the same thing over and over again,” her voice slightly rising, “and I already knew what she was telling me.”

“Ok, so you wanted her to cut to the chase?”


“Alright,” turning to the second little lady, “Your turn”

“Well, I was going to say all that, what she just said, but I was going to add one thing.”

“Ok, what’s that.”

Silence. Arms crossed.

Behind me the two little boys were getting restless. Dancing on their chairs, poking the bag of icing sugar.

“Auntie-dee-dee, how do we make icing?”

Not 5 minutes into our baking adventure and I was already not sure we’d all make it through unscathed.

New found respect for parents everywhere, how do they do this 24/7?!

The icing did get made, the cake did get iced however, before all that happened and 10 minutes into my adventure my sister stepped into the kitchen to give some tips on hardening up the icing.  I handed her my mixing bowl, relieved her of my niece in her arms and scooted out of the kitchen.

Handled 🙂

On Death

IMG_20150516_161105“ It’s not possible to have a neutral experience with death.” Caleb Wilde with Anna Sale on Death Sex & Money.

It was day 2 of the client onsite training, we were just getting into the second hour when the email came through. My family rarely use my work address to contact me. When I saw my oldest sister’s name as the sender, I knew he’d died.

I paused mid-sentence, recovered, finished my thought and called a 15 minute break.

I wasn’t anticipating my Grandad’s death to provoke the emotions I was experiencing.

Complete sadness.

Acknowledging his passing.

His quiet, gentleness. He cared about people. He cared that life was good to them.

I know he cared about me, one of his many grandchildren. He knew the highlights of our lives. He wanted the best for us all.

I reflect on his life.

His stresses, his joys, his decisions that collectively made up his journey.

I contemplate how I honor the culture, the beliefs, the family unity that he influenced. I reflect on his understanding for the need of Companionship and Love.

I acknowledge what I unreasonably disregarded and misjudged.

I consider if I can allow this experience to unconditionally impress my future.

published @

The Tale of the Yarn Dog

Recently, I took my two nieces on a little road trip.  They are at the perfect age where they want to be involved in what the adults are doing, even if it’s just eavesdropping.

Both were in the backseat of the car chatting away with each other. I was paying attention to plowing through the snow drifts that had crept up onto the highway when the youngest asked me,

“Auntie D, do you remember the time you helped me make the Yorkshire terrier dog out of yarn?”

Ahh, do I remember! A birthday gift from Grandma. An Arts & Crafts project that I was elected to help supervise that turned into me putting together the Yorkshire terrier yarn dog itself. The instructions for the craft looked simple enough but simple instructions don’t always translate to a simple, well-crafted project!  Auntie D’s Yorkshire terrier yarn dog in no way resembled the picture in the instructions booklet. “I wish Grandma were here, she’d be able to make this better than you!” the same youngest niece had flatly informed me as I fumbled with 5 stray strands of yarn that went flying across the living room floor. You get the picture of what the yarn dog ended up looking like? And how my niece felt about the final product? A big lump of indistinguishable yarn!

So as I was driving along, I smiled broadly and replied “Ah yes, I remember!”

How could I forget?!

She continued with a little hesitation in her voice, “Do you want to know what I named my yarn dog?”

“Of course, what did you name it?” I asked expecting an answer.


Complete silence from the backseat.

You know when two chatty ladies go completely silent, SOMETHING is going on. I tried thinking up a logical scenario for such silence and couldn’t imagine a suitable reason.

The oldest niece couldn’t take it any longer and she piped up “Do you want me to tell her?”

Obviously it was BAD!

The youngest continued in her silence and I could only imagine she was making faces at her sister.

“OK, ok I will tell her for you, I will tell auntie D what you called your yarn dog,” she reiterated for emphasis, maybe even for approval.

More hesitation and a long pause.

“She called him MATZ**!” my eldest niece exclaimed loudly but firmly.  There was no joking in her voice, simply a sense of urgency to get a terrible message out and then retreat as far back into her seat as possible.

I burst out laughing! I could hear the relief from the backseat of the car.

“Well he is a nice man, just not the man for me,” I said and continued, curious, “why did you call him Matz?”

“He just looked like a Matz,” my youngest niece said flatly, no expression.

And so if the Yorkshire terrier yarn dog is any indication of what a Matz looks like, it is indistinguishable, misshapen, and poorly crafted!!

**Name changed.  Why so funny? He was someone I had been seeing a year ago. I am not sure if my nieces were concerned that I would be upset at the choice of name? Or perhaps the youngest just really thinks her yarn dog looks like a human being. Needless, it was important for her to let me know of her Yorkshire terrier yarn dogs name and that in itself is really funny.

Saunders Street

We are preparing to land.  My left ear is starting to pain.  Maybe I didn’t take enough cold and sinus advil.   I rummage through my carryon bag desperately trying to find my little pill case.

The gentleman beside me, my seat mate, is watching with anticipation “what is she going to dig out of her bag,” I dream he is thinking.

He appears to be in his late 50’s or early 60’s.  His smell reminds me of Sunday afternoons at Saunders Street. Sitting on the living room floor playing with Pluto and Donald Duck.

What ever happened to those plastic figurines after my Nana’s passing, I will never know.  But I liked that living room.  The social tea cookies and the little tin Nana stored them in. The upright piano and the looming blacksmith painting hanging above it. The wooden side tables with the adjustable pot lamps built right in. 

My grandad siting at one end of the room, happy, watching us play and making conversation with us.  Suggesting that my sister and I might one day both be missionaries, together. My sister, sitting by my side, vehemently disagreeing.

I felt hurt as a 5 year old that my sister wouldn’t want to go on a blind adventure with me.  Who cares if it’s missionary work, it’ll be fun, we’ll always be together, forever. But in my sisters 6 and 1/2 year old world, I was an annoying younger sister who one day, she’d be rid of.

Of course I don’t really know what she was thinking when she disagreed but at 5 years old, she was rejecting ME,  not an honorable but perhaps obscure, homeless, missionaries life.

All this from sitting beside a man who smells like my grandad did some 30 years ago!

The Farm

It has just been one of those weeks. 

I wish I could road trip to the farm.  Pull into the yard, announce my arrival by doing a big donut in front of the drive shed,  kicking up stones.

The big kitchen,  the one my uncle extended.   The large creaky oak table.  My grandfather sitting at one end, fiddling with a pearing knife and a tomato.  My grandmother sorting something at the other end.

When I’d walk in, they’d greet me.  I’d give them both a hug and I’d get a wet kiss on my cheek that I’d discreetly wipe away.  Yuck.  Who wants wet kisses on the cheek from their grandparents?   I wish I could get one  today.

My grandfather always had something of interest to show me.  He’d moved on from the electronic Brother typewriters with their built in memory  and he was on to “Computers”.  There was usually a new joke to show that someone had sent to him over the I-n-t-e-r-n-e-t.   Most of the time the jokes were funny but some of them I didn’t quite get and I wasn’t about to ask for an explanation.   That just wasn’t how it was.

You either knew the answer or you didn’t.  If you didn’t know, you watched, learned and never made the same mistake twice.

My grandfather was usually up for a debate, one I’ll never forget. It was a debate on world politics and I ran out of intelligent responses and absently retorted to him, “that’s funny”

“It’s not ‘funny’,” he reprimanded in the stern voice that scared me, “you find a better expression or don’t say anything at all.”

I’ve tried to follow his advice but I haven’t always been successful.   I sometimes catch myself saying “that’s funny” when I am at a loss for words and immediately am taken back to that musty farm house and sticky kitchen table and I feel lonely, for a time, for a place and for a family.

Errands with my niece, “The Best Day of My Life!”

Today was an errand running kind of day and my nine year-old niece was along for the ride.

Our first stop was Claire’s, a fashion and jewelry accessories store for girls, where my niece picked out a princess tiara, promptly placing it on her head as we left the store.

Our second stop was Starbucks.

My niece chose a kids sized hot chocolate paired with a pumpkin shaped sugar cookie.

We waited at the bar for our drinks. When the drinks were called out and pushed across the counter my niece noticed the top of her drink, “This is the best day of my life!! Nobody has ever put chocolate sauce on the top of my drink before!”

We stayed in the coffee shop to enjoy our beverages, that’s what grownups do.

She chose the bar seats and clambered up on her stool so she could watch the barista’s preparing drinks, “It’s hard to keep up with what they are doing, there are so many of them and so many coffees to make!”

Also published at

Pens, Pencils, Markers…

Pens, Pencils, Markers…

imageIt may look like a random pile of writing instruments, but going through this old tin is a treasure trove of memories. 

The pens, pencils and markers started collecting in an old wooden whiskey box which is funny in its own way since there was no whiskey in the house.  They eventually moved into an empty Pot of Gold Christmas chocolate tin, which is almost as funny as the whiskey box since we didn’t celebrate Christmas either, not really, not the in the “traditional” way. 

None the less, this old tin with it’s collection has travelled with me for the last 15 years, 12 moves and it is only this week I decided to have a look.

Can you imagine all the great and wonderful memories these simple, used, lightly damaged pens, pencils and markers brought back.

From the A&P, Independent, art class, science fair projects, old drafting pencils from started, stopped, started, stopped drawings of GREATNESS 🙂 and lastly Laurentian pencil crayons…. who is Chad L. anyway? 

I miss my family!

Love the memories 🙂