The ones that got away.

It has to be said that I’ve gained much more than I’ve lost in the past couple of years—Sloane, a new house, new experiences…but there have been some losses too. The most tragic was the loss of our dayhome provider earlier this year. I wish that she had simply moved on to another job or perhaps returned home to the Philippines. But she is gone, gone. Early last summer she started experiencing some seemingly minor symptoms (fatigue, weird rash-like spots on her legs) and sought medical help at a walk-in clinic where her concerns were initially dismissed and then later taken more seriously as doctors tried to establish if she was having some kind of allergic or autoimmune reaction. After a couple of weeks in and out of the hospital, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

While it is the most common childhood cancer, it is much rarer (and deadlier) in adults. About 98% of children with ALL go into remission within weeks of starting treatment and 90% of those kids are able to be cured (cancer is considered “cured” after 10 years in remission). This is in sharp contrast to the 3-year survival rates for adult patients, which are down in the 25-50% range. She was shocked by the diagnosis, but extremely positive and resolved to fight it. She posted a lot on social media about gratitude for her friends, family and faith. She was also – the entire time – consumed with concern for her dayhome charges. Worried about how the babies were getting on without her, missing them, and sorry that she couldn’t see them too much (for her own immunity).

Over the next 8 months she underwent several rounds of chemo and eventually one of her younger brothers was identified as a stem cell donor and was flown over from the Philippines for a full body stem cell transplant on January 11, 2018. The transplant was successful and she initially seemed to be on the road to recovery, but in early February she came down with pneumonia and then some type of infection. She was put in an induced coma for a couple of weeks and they were having trouble bringing her out of it—which didn’t bode well. She passed away on the evening of February 22, with family by her side.

There was a point before Christmas when, because of whatever was going on with her health at that time, it occurred to me that she might not make it. But it wasn’t until she actually died that I realized how surprised I was, and how naively optimistic my view of cancer had become. I had been spoiled by the “fighter” and “survivor” and “kicking cancer’s ass” narratives that pervaded my limited personal experiences and A LOT of popular/social media coverage.

“They caught it early”, “she’s young and strong”, “she’s getting the best treatment”, “she’s THINKING POSITIVE” – all these factors are supposed to mean that things turn out okay. Not that a healthy, active, 24-year old woman will be dead in less than a year. How foolish is it to be caught off guard by the fact that cancer kills?

It’s good to remain hopeful and positive, but it’s also maybe good to remember that all the well-wishes, positive thoughts, prayers and go-fund-me campaigns in the world can’t change the course of fate.

About a year earlier, we lost our boy Twitchy. Along with his sister Molly, he was the other “OG” shit monster that was one of the namesakes of this blog and the grey/black/white guy up in the top banner image. He was a big, handsome boy (23 lbs-ish) and a great, great cat. Super loving and cuddly with people and Molly. The best lap cat and couch buddy that ever there was.

The night before we were leaving town to meet up with my parents at their condo in Mexico, he looked a little bit off. Nothing I could put my finger on. It always makes me roll my eyes when a vet asks if the animal has been lethargic. Like, he’s a cat, he’s been lethargic for over a decade. In the morning, his breathing was laboured and he seemed weak. Sloane was still sleeping, so Andrew ran T to the vet while I stayed home and finished last-minute packing since we were 5 hours from boarding a plane. It quickly became clear that T was in very rough shape and we were going to have to make some quick decisions. I intercepted my friend Kerri on her way to work, diverting her to my house to stay with Sloane so I could join Andrew at the vet.

We never figured out the whole situation…they suspected an enlarged heart but possibly other issues as well. Getting a more solid diagnosis would have meant a lot of money and there was a lot of doubt that anything we could have done would have done much good. By the time we were able to see him to say goodbye, he was lying on his side in an oxygen chamber. He was mellow and friendly but undeniably sick – too sick to come out to say goodbye in the marginally better private rooms they have for such purposes. We were given ample time to visit, but after just a few minutes of petting and talking to T, we called the vet back. When it’s time, it’s time. These things suck, but we were glad it all went down before we left so we could be there for him, and thankful to have a vet who made us feel supported in our decision.

There’s one final aspect of loss that’s been on my mind a lot lately as relationships have shifted in the post-Sloane era. Some significant ones have pretty much disappeared. This is tough for me, because I’ve always valued a friendship circle that is ‘small but deep’ as opposed to ‘wide but shallow’. As a result, I don’t have dozens of back-ups waiting in the wings when things go south with close friends. I mean, I feel like I’m diversified enough in that I have work friends, some casual mom-friends, neighbours I’m friendly with, old friends I connect with once in blue, etc. But these aren’t the people I spend the majority of my time/energy on, nor the ones I had envisioned playing an important role throughout my daughter’s life. This is one of the things that concerns me a lot – it’s SO, SO, important to me for Sloane to have solid, lifelong connections with people she can trust (beyond her family) to be there for her no matter what.

I launched into a bit of a deep dive on friendship and it was pretty eye-opening.

That friends come and go seems to be a universal truth. Research shows that MOST friendships have a life span of around seven years and that the majority of friendships you make are ‘fleeting and based on convenience’. There’s a heartwarming sentiment. Here’s another one: we form an average of 396 personal relationships in our lifetime, but only 33 – that’s one in 12 – will last. Also – this is the best/worst one yet – only about 50% of the people you consider friends consider you a friend back. Awesome, right?

2,000-odd years ago, Aristotle defined three types of friendship. Friendships of utility (you are useful to one another – you help each other out), friendships of pleasure (you enjoy doing things together or get enjoyment out of each other’s humour, charm or intellect) and friendships of virtue (you love each other simply for who each of you are). The first two types are necessary, fun and perfectly fine, but the third type is the holy grail kind that is harder to come by, but the most enduring and rewarding.

Most lapsed friendships are easy to understand. These are the ‘easy come, easy go’ friends of utility or pleasure. People are brought together by circumstance or proximity (school, workplace, neighbourhood, clubs, hobbies) and when that common bond goes away, so does the friendship. No harm, no foul.

These ones and the ones that implode or fall apart in a more decisive or dramatic fashion (somebody lies/cheats/steals/joins a cult) seem to be easier to come to terms with than the ones that you thought were built on something solid, but then either abruptly end for reasons unknown or just sort of trail off, leaving you wondering what happened. You can ask. But you really can’t expect a satisfying answer. I mean, if the truthful answer is, “you know what? I just don’t really like you anymore.” Who is going to have the balls to say that to somebody? Most people will go the denial or ghosting route.

I’m the kind of person who likes to hash things out and wants explanations. It took me far too long to realize that the reason someone has disconnected isn’t important. The fact that they did says everything you need to know. If you piss somebody off and they want to be your friend, they tell you they are pissed off. If you hurt somebody and they want to be your friend, they tell you they are hurt. If somebody is uncomfortable with anything you’re doing or not doing and they want to be your friend, they bring it to you. If instead they retreat from you, then they don’t want to be your friend. Perhaps someone you believed was a friend of virtue was actually a friend of utility or pleasure all along. Maybe they were part of the 50% who didn’t think as much of you as you did of them. Maybe your 7 years was simply up. For whatever reason, they are JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. And like it was for Miranda when the infuriating Jack Berger dropped this truth bomb on SATC approximately a million years ago, this realization is freeing as fuck.

What then? As my friend (maybe?! Ha!) Kate recently said, you remind yourself to “choose people who choose you”. This means investing in the people who make the effort to connect with you. None of us has the time or energy to have the kind of all-consuming, hang-out all day every day, friendships we had in our teens or 20s, that’s a given. But we all make choices every day about who we are keeping in our life and who we are willing to push (or let slip) away. The trick is to hold on to the people who are holding on right back.

Christmas purgatory


I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time and with the first snowfall of the year it feels like a legitimate time to bust out a wintry post.

I may not love all of winter, but I love the whole Christmassy season. I like the lights, tinsel and wreaths. The cranberry-cinnamon-peppermint-spruce-orange-spiced-whatever candles. The Guinness, mulled wine, eggnog and Baileys. The carols, cartoons and classic movies. I even like the snow (when observed from the inside of a cozy fireplace lit room or a warm pub). Point is – I’m not a grinch. Not by a long shot.

But the magic of Christmas changes over the years, and at certain points along the way you find yourself caught in Christmas purgatory: the no-man’s-land between the Christmas season as kids and the season with kids. There are a few cycles of this.

Obviously, when you are a kid yourself, Christmas is really fun and special. This lasts until probably your mid to late teens, when the obligatory stay at home with family and go to church time eclipses the fun of presents and hot chocolate and you’d rather just be out getting into trouble with your friends. Christmas purgatory #1.

In your twenties, things look up again. You’ve moved out on your own by now, and going home for a few yummy meals that you didn’t have to cook (or pay for) is pretty appealing. You’re so broke and needy that you’re super grateful for presents once again. These are the years you spend with roommates, boyfriends/girlfriends and friends, enjoying late-nights and lazy mornings in your own place on a much-needed break from school. You spoil your pets with treat-filled stockings of their own and start new traditions that are just your own – not your family’s. You’re not a kid, exactly, but you’re not really grown-up either and in the long-run, this phase fits into the magical “we were just kids back then” time of your life.

At the end of this era, people around you either start pairing off and having kids…or they don’t. Your coupled-off friends in their late 20s and early 30s, especially the ones with kids,  often start having holiday plans of their own. You’re usually not living, or hanging out regularly with, a big crowd of single, party-loving friends any more. You’re working full-time and may or may not get much holiday time off. And if there are no little kids around to reinvigorate things on the home front, Christmas starts to get kind of lame again. Christmas purgatory #2.

It can still be nice, but it’s just not quite the same. All-adult family Christmas get-togethers just lack a certain something. Nobody’s too amped up to go to sleep, nobody’s having their first sugar cookie, sled ride or Santa sighting and nobody really needs/wants presents any more. By year five of this, you’re all sitting around swilling scotch, trying to talk yourselves into another game of Scrabble while accepting e-mail money transfers for the presents you bought for yourselves on behalf each other.

This Christmas, we will have an 8 month old to spice up the season – and I have to say, I’m pretty damn excited about it. It’s such a fun and cute age for baby’s first Christmas. She’ll be mesmerized by the trees and decorations and will enjoy the wrapping paper and bows as much as her actual presents. Instead of hauling my ass out to work on shitty days, we’ll get to curl up in the rocking chair and watch Miracle on 34th Street. We’ll get to see if she is cool with creepy mall Santa or screams her face off when we hand her over. We’ll get to read her Christmas stories and buy her first special Christmas Eve jammies. And I have this nice, soft-focus image of her snoozing on a fuzzy blanket while mom and dad sip bourbon and watch The Last Waltz as the snow falls outside.


What I did on my winter vacation

*this post is only about a month and a half overdue…not bad.

Right up there with “push present” is the equally obnoxious pregnancy buzzword “babymoon”–which is stupid in both concept and practice. Conceptually, an anything-moon should happen AFTER something (like how a honeymoon comes after a wedding, not sandwiched between the best man’s speech and the cake cutting). And practically speaking, vacationing while pregnant throws a bit of a wet blanket over everything that is usually fun about vacation.

I didn’t plan on being 29 weeks pregnant when I went to Hawaii for 12 days in February. If anything, it was more of an, “aw shit, I’m going to be super pregnant by then,” moon than a babymoon.

But what can you do? If you’re serious about getting pregnant, you just have to do a few simple things like buying a golf membership, adopting a second cat and booking a non-refundable trip to Hawaii. Duh.

So off we went to Maui with my husband’s two brothers and their better halves. Now, proponents of the babymoon would have you believe that it’s a fun, last-ditch chance to vacation carefree and child-free. The flaw in this logic is that you are NOT actually child-free when you are pregnant. There is a child, people, and it’s right there stomping on your bladder, dolphin-kicking your ribs, and flipping off your Mai Tai-free liver.

It wasn’t all bad, of course – in fact, lots of it was super fun. It was just super fun for a not-ideal situation, rather than straight-up super fun.

The good:

Time off: 12 days of waking up at your leisure in a balmy paradise and not going to work is better than 12 days of waking up to an alarm and going to work in sub-zero temperatures. That one’s a given.

The company: The company I cannot complain about. Really, I cant – they read the blog. Ha! I kid, it’s always fun hanging out with the siblings-in-law. Oh, and  my husband is pretty fun too. It’s pretty undeniable that I was the weakest link in the fun department on this trip.

Tuna, coconut shrimp, cinnamon buns & pancakes: Separately…not like, blended together or anything. Our resort was known for it’s banana-pineapple-macadamia nut pancakes with fluffy coconut cream (worth the 30-45 minute line-up) and a local bakery sold a limited number of cinnamon buns out of a kiosk in the lobby every morning. So, breakfast wasn’t terrible. And there are few things I love more than coconut shrimp and fresh ahi tuna poke (sorry ’bout all the mercury, unborn baby.)

Maui: Maui is beautiful, safe, essentially bug-free and warm without being deathly sunburn-y the way Mexico can sometimes be.

Fleetwoods on Front Street: This was one of my favourite nights out. A rooftop patio in Lahaina, delicious lime in the coconut virgin cocktails, bagpipers (Mick Fleetwood’s mom is Scottish) a Hawaiian storyteller and a great band. The food was amazing and it was still not the biggest reason to go there. Highly recommend.

The not-so-good

No A/C: The gentle Hawaiian breezes are supposed to be enough to keep your room cool, but I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat one time too many to believe that.

The sand: Easily the most overrated substance on the planet. Pretty to look at, but murder to walk in when you’re carting around some extra poundage and all your joints are sore and unstable.

The bathtub: Or lack thereof. This is not something I would normally care that much about, but not having a bathtub when you’re preggers sucks. Especially if you plan on shaving your legs or, you know, cleansing yourself in any way from the belly down, really. You just can’t see, reach or contort your body in an effective way to make a tiny shower stall your first choice.

The discomfort: At this stage of pregnancy, everything feels like work and nearly everything tweaks a nerve, puts an appendage to sleep or triggers the need to pee. Walking around isn’t all that comfortable, but trying to get comfortable on towels or beach chairs for any significant length of time isn’t all that easy either. So you’re always sort of tossing, turning, fidgeting around trying to find a position that is “relaxing”.

The ugly

Two words: mirrored walls. This was really a cruel joke. Our room was fitted with two, adjacent, fully-mirrored walls to – I can only assume – make it feel more spacious. So the second I sat up in bed in the morning I had to face my own increasingly spacious body. Averting my eyes all the way to the bathroom resulted in some stubbed toes and colourful language.

When all was said and done, I’m glad we went ahead with the trip – it wouldn’t have been worth cancelling. But, word to the wise: don’t intentionally book an expensive beach vacation beyond, let’s say, 20-25 weeks. It’s just not as great as it should be. Instead, travel a ton before you get pregnant and then spend your pregnancy sucking up to your parents so they’ll babysit while you go on kid-free trips afterwards.

Advent Calendar: December 21 -25

I know – late, late, late. As is my style nowadays be it with getting to work or getting blog posts done. Better late than never I s’pose?

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This included St. Tropez Instant Tan (Day 21), Eve Lom cleanser (Day 22) which Vogue described as “probably the best cleanser in the world” (you know, if you’re into rave reviews from the foremost fashion authority) Murad Rapid Collagen Infusion (Day 23), Nuxe Reve de Miel makeup removing and cleansing gel (Day 24) and the final door held a Tangle Teezer brush which, frankly, is not nearly as good as my beloved Wet Brush – if you don’t have one, you need one. It will change your life if you have long, tangly hair.

All in all, I’m super happy with the contents of this beauty advent calendar and I am for sure going to do one again next year! I would probably do the Look Fantastic one again, but I may spend some time checking out other options now that I know they are a thing!

Advent Calendar: Dec 14 – 20


I can’t remember the order, and can’t be bothered to go back and check it out because the calendar box is all the way in the next room…and frankly, blogging at all in the week before Christmas feels like enough of an accomplishment.

In random order then, the past week brought the Monuspa Relaxing Bali Massage & Body Oil with apricot seed, sandalwood and rosewood oil, Pai Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Skin Tonic, Christophe* Robin Regenerating (hair) Mask with rare prickly pear seed oil, Rimmel Scandaleyes Mascara, Bare Minerals loose eyeshadow in Chenille (a pale creamy pink brow highlighterish shade), Magnifibres Treatment Primer and Molton Brown Black Peppercorn Body Wash (which smells kinda spicy and a heck of a lot more appealing than you’d think) upon first whiff, although this was today’s surprise so I haven’t seen it in action yet.

Even without the “r” at the end does anyone NOT immediately think of Winnie the Pooh?

Advent Calendar: December 10, 11, 12 & 13

It was a big four days here, with the Nudestix Lip and Cheek Pencil, Eylure Naturalite Lashes – Intense, Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist and Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream.


Like me, you might assume that the lip/cheek pencil is a “satin” finish until  you go looking for the colour and realize that no, that actually says “satan”, and that Lucifer himself is evidently a delightful shade of (blueish, not orangey) red.

Meanwhile, the Jurlique mist is the surprise hit of the moment because it came in the nicest opaque glass bottle with a super fine spray that feels really, really refreshing on winter-battered skin. Lovely, even if rosewater always does smell a little bit like Grandma’s teal velour nightgown.


Advent Calendar: December 8 & 9

Behold the Bubble T hibiscus & acai berry tea Restoring Body Lotion and Cult 51 Night cream. The latter is a “3D revolutionary multi-active formulation”(okayyyy) and the former smells delicious. Apparently Cult 51 is named for the 51 anti-aging benefits it promises. This means 51 things can go wrong with your face as you age. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. The WordPress interface on my iPad is driving me bonkers, so that’s all for this one.