A Very Nova Scotia Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving friends! Today, I am thankful for family, friends, health, happiness, and most of all the homemade apple crisp I’ve been caning like nobody’s business.

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yeaaah buddy.

Also wine.

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Always wine.

My friend Lia, who is from Vancouver, came home with me for the holidays, and I’ve had a blast showing her all that the thriving metropolis of Pictou County has to offer. I just hope she can handle the excitement. Watching all THREE Back To The Future Movies in one day is a lot for anyone to handle.

Anyway, since I’m still in a semi-food coma from yesterday’s feast, here are a few pictures of my Thanksgiving weekend in beautiful Nova Scotia:

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Greenhill Lookoff.. not a bad view

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I don’t eat Oysters west of New Brunswick

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I don't blame her. The pumpkin is inherently a lot more interesting.

I don’t blame her. The pumpkin is inherently a lot more interesting.

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Hold onto your loved ones tight today, and have an extra piece of pumpkin pie for me :)

Question of the Day:

(cliché alert)

What Are You Thankful for?

Workouts, Wild Turkeys and Way Too Much Time On My Hands

Greetings from Canada’s Ocean Playground!

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I’ve been in Nova Scotia for about a week now, visiting with family and friends, lazing on the beach, and basically living the life of a bored housewife with way too much time on her hands.

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It’s all really great and relaxing-  except for the WILD TURKEY who has taken up residence in our backyard and insists on waking me up at 6 a.m. every morning. Seriously guys, this thing is hard as f*ck. It’s about 2 feet tall, feral looking, and has a “call” so loud and frightening it has started featuring prominently in my nightmares.

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It also hasn’t been relaxing in the sense that my family are exercise fanatics and insist on constantly shaming me into working out. Hot yoga, running at the local track, “power walks”, gym sessions… I’m beginning to think they’re trying to tell me something.

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If I'm getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I'm taking a selfie of it.

If I’m getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I’m taking a selfie of it.

My mom, just killin it.

Look at that smug look on her face.

Skinny b*tches.

Anyway, gotta make this a short one because I must return to my busy schedule of watching The Doctors, making unnecessary trips to the grocery store and coordinating hairstyles with my 8-year-old niece:

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so for now I will leave you with this adorable photo of my niece Maeve, who, at 14 months old, is already demonstrating more maternal instinct in her little finger than I will ever hope to possess.

My niece Maeve and her baby/twin

Happy Friday y’all!

Question of the Day: How do you exorcise an evil turkey nemesis?

… and don’t say garlic, crucifixes or kryptonite cause I’ve already tried that sh*t and the damn thing ain’t budging.

10 Foolproof Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been far too busy patio drinking and getting your picks in for your office Bachelorette pool to find that something special for Dear Old Dad.

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Well never fear, teetotalers and hapless procrastinators! BreezyK is here to help you out with 10 foolproof gift ideas dad will be sure to love this Father’s Day season!

1. Spray-On Hair

Dad can kiss that pesky bald spot goodbye with this groundbreaking new product! BONUS: works for ladies too, so mom won’t be left out!!

2. Built-In Socks With Sandals

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As the boy scout motto attests: always be prepared! Your dad will be fashionable, chic and ready to mingle with this handy new product that will allow him to skip the integral step of socks first, then sandals. Just think of all the extra time he’ll have to mow the lawn and criticize your life choices driving skills!

3. The Potty Putter

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Your mom will love you for this one!

4. Richard Simmons “Disco Sweat” Workout DVD

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If there are two things all dads love, it’s disco, and Richard Simmons. With this low-impact cardio workout set to such famous disco hits as “I Will Survive” and “Disco Inferno”, dad can burn away the calories while having fun doing it! Can you say, Daughter Of The Year award??

5. Spanx For Men

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There are some trouble spots even Richard Simmons can’t fix. If your dad just can’t seem to shed those last 5 pounds (or just has a fierce affinity for pecan pie like mine does), help him out with this thoughtful and not-at-all offensive gift!

6. Piano Key Necktie

……………because it says “I want to be formal, but I’m also here to party”

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… plus, it skyrocketed Mugatu to superstardom, so…

7. DIY Ride-On Lawnmower

Now that my dad is getting a little older, he’s having a hard time keeping up with the yard work the way he used to. My siblings and I considered getting him a ride-on lawnmower for Father’s day, but were blown away by the astronomical price tags.

Solution? The DIY lawnmower!

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This handy (and inexpensive) little gadget has all the features of a store-bought lawnmower at just a fraction of the cost!! All you need is a bike (free if you steal one from a neighbourhood kid riding down the street) some string, a bit of silly putty and some cheap manual labour, and Voila! Perfect gift!

8. The Comfort Wipe

Your dad is awesome. Too awesome, in fact, to wipe his own ass. Show him you care about his extreme laziness personal hygiene with this groundbreaking new product that turns a visit to the john into a hands-free experience!

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9. This Awesome Visor

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Finally- your dad can relieve the days of his follicled youth, while at the same time channeling Sex God Guy Fieri:

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10. Recycled Artwork You Made As A Child

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Remind dad of the budding little Picasso you once were with a beautiful piece of art you fashioned as a child. Not only is this gift simple inexpensive, and high on the nostalgia factor, it also shows your penchant for the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and really don’t give a fuck cycle. (Tip: Try not to use one with macaroni, because, let’s face it, that’s just gross.)

Alternative: If you can’t find an old piece of old artwork:

A free hug coupon

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…because you’re never too old :)

Happy Shopping!!

….. and happy Father’s Day to the best dad around! I love you!

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Question of the Day: What are you getting your dad for Father’s Day?

Unleashing The Ugly Cry

As a general rule, I try not to cry in public all that often.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve shed a few crocodile tears in my day to get what I want (what self-respecting girl hasn’t?), but I try not to make this a regular thing. Not only does it lose its effect with frequent use, I’m also just a really, really ugly crier.

Seriously. You know those girls you see crying on TV, looking all cute and heartbreaking?

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Yeah, I’m nothing like that.

I’m more of the full on, can’t breathe, running snot variety.

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I also cry so rarely that when it does happen, it’s like the Hoover Dam of emotion bursting within me, releasing a whole year’s worth of pent-up frustration and anxiety.

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All this is to say that when I have an emotional breakdown, I prefer to do it in the comfort of my own home, in my oldest sweatpants, with a full container of Haagen Dazs.

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Unfortunately, however, you can’t always choose where you’re going to unleash the Ugly Cry – something I learned last week when I found myself openly sobbing into the arms of a middle-aged flight attendant in an airport bathroom.

How did I end up in such a predicament you might ask? Well, let’s start from the beginning.

Last weekend, my mom flew in from Nova Scotia to visit me. (And boy, were her arms were tired!) It was her first time visiting me in Toronto so I was really excited for her to clean my apartment see where I live and show her around the city.

We had a great few days flaneuring around and pretending we were fancier than we were:

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But all good things must come to an end, and soon it came time for us to say goodbye- something I’ve never been very good at. As a form of coping, I typically spend the last day of any trip either picking fights or acting like a complete asshole in an effort to push everyone away and make things easier when I leave. (I know. It’s really mature)

Anyway, I could feel myself starting to get agitated a few hours before she was scheduled to depart. I said approximately 5 words to her the entire ferry ride to the Toronto Island airport, spending our last minutes together instagramming pictures of the city skyline.

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I continued this immature little performance until we parted at the security gate. I tried not to make eye contact as I hugged her goodbye, but I saw the tears welling up in her eyes. Well, guys, that was all it took. I felt a lump the size of a baseball form in my throat, and hot tears burned the backs of my eyes.

I managed to wait until she was out of sight before bursting into uncontrollable sobs right there at the gate. Through clouded vision, I somehow found my way to the bathroom, where I locked myself in a stall and tried to regain my composure. “Think happy thoughts” I told myself. “Froyo. MAC Makeup. Pinot Grigio. Your PVR”. Eventually I calmed down enough to leave the stall, but then broke down a second time when I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror. Red blotches covered my face and spread down my neck like ivy, and on the front of my shirt were two, distinct wet patches that suggested I had recently been lactating. The liquid eyeliner and mascara I had meticulously applied earlier that day now formed two, thick black rings around my eyes, making me resemble a very sad, overgrown raccoon.

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I was blowing my nose loudly when I heard a voice ask, “are you ok?” I turned to see a middle aged Porter flight attendant with a look of concern on her face.

“Ye-aaaah” I said, waveringly. “I’m ok”

“Did you just say goodbye to someone?” she asked, sympathetically.

“Yeah,” I sniffed, “Mmmmmm-y mom”

“Aw,” she said, “Where was she off to?”

“Halifax,” I said

“That’s far away,” she said

“I know,” I sobbed.

“Do you want a hug?” she asked.

I nodded slowly, and moved towards her waiting arms. I didn’t even care how many people were around, all I knew was that I was jonesing for a hug, and this b*tch was holding.

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“Aww it’s ok,” she said, as she gently patted me on the back. “You guys can talk on the phone?”

“But ittttsss not the sameeee” I stuttered

“What about skype?” she said “There’s always skype!”

“She’s not technologically inclined!!” I wailed.

“Well, it’ll still be ok” she repeated, clearly running out of things to say at this point.

Realizing I was probably overstaying my hug welcome, I straightened out my shirt and reluctantly pulled myself away. “Well I should go now,” I said, “Thanks”.

“No problem” she said, as I made my way towards the door, “Stay strong!”

I put my oversize sunglasses on and boarded the ferry, where I continued to bawl pretty much the entire time. At first I was embarrassed to be seen in public this way, but then I thought of what a great Craigslist Missed Connection it would be if some hot guy happened to see me.

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You: Crying on the ferry alone.

Me: Wishing I could make you smile.

Anyway, this didn’t result in a missed connection (I checked), so instead, I’ve chosen to make this post my own missed connection of sorts. I never caught the name of the flight attendant who so benevolently offered up her words (and arms) of encouragement to me that day, but to her, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for being awesome, and for restoring my faith in humanity. And if any of you should ever find yourselves at the mercy of the ugly cry in a public bathroom, I pray it is into the arms of such a kindly stranger.

QOTD: When was the last time you cried?

10 Lessons From TV Moms

A wise woman once said, “It takes a village to raise a child”.

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That, and “You can never have enough pantsuits”

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…but we won’t hold that against her. 

In honor of this maxim (the village, not the pantsuits), this Mother’s Day, I’ll be celebrating not only to my own mom, but also all of the amazing TV moms who helped raise me. Claire Huxtable, Elyse Keaton, Vivian Banks, Kitty Foreman-  where would I be without all of their sage advice, no-non sense attitudes and witty one-liners? (Well, maybe a little more well- read. But that’s beside the point.)

Here, with the help of a few GIFS, are 10 lessons I learned from TV moms: 

1.    Stand Up For Yourself

…. you show those b*tches who’s boss 

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2. You only have one family, so you might as well make the most of it.

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3. Not everything that’s good for you is fun

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4. Don’t worry so much about your appearance

………..You can have a harelip, crunchy bangs, or look like Mama June and someone will still love you.

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5. It’s Important To Always  Be a Lady

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6. Every once in a while, you need to eat a piece of humble pie

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……………….Unless of course you’re Tina Fey

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7. Choose your friends wisely

…….because apparently, everyone is an asshole

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8. Don’t ever forget where you came from

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9. And When it comes to boys….

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But if you really can’t help yourself…

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And when you find that special someone… 

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10. Don’t be afraid to let loose every once in a while:

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… and when all else fails,

Sometimes, you need something a little stronger

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

Question of the Day: Who Is Your Favourite TV Mom?

Treat Yo’ Self Day (and mixtape giveaway winners!)

If you watch the show Parks and Recreation, you will undoubtedly recognize the title of this post as the annual holiday celebrated by Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Donna (Retta) where they spend a day treating themselves to whatever they want.

Genius, right?

That’s why my mom, my sister, my aunt and I decided to take a page out Tom Haverford’s book and treat ourselves to a day at the spa on Friday. All of us have been so busy running around with Christmas preparations and buying gifts for everyone else, we figured why not get back to the true meaning of the holiday season: ourselves.

Plus, we obviously need to look our best for hitting up Tim Horton’s, Wal-Mart, the post office and all of the other small town Nova Scotia hotspots.

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I’m sort of overstating how fabulous my family actually is. We bought the spa services for my mom and my aunt as part of their Christmas gift, and my sister and I decided to join them because we are delusional and think we can just do gratuitous sh*t like that for no reason.

Given my limited holiday budget, I was planning on just getting a shellac manicure; but then I mentioned to my sister that I might like a facial too. And you know what she said?

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So I did.

It was a great afternoon of pampering and relaxation. I even fell asleep during my facial and woke myself up with my own snoring. (Yes, I just admitted that.) I was immediately self-conscious and worried about how long I’d been asleep for, but my facialist just gently dabbed my drool away with a warm towel and assured me that nearly everyone falls asleep. It’s all part of the process.

I was disappointed once again when she didn’t put cucumbers over my eyes. Think it’s safe to say that is definitely a myth.

I then bonded with my manicurist over our mutual love for makeup. She told me she is getting an airbrush makeup gun for Christmas, and obviously I am now obsessed with these.

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Guys, they make your skin look FLAWLESS. Like, I’m talking as airbrushed as this photo of Britbrit:

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They are not even a little bit cheap, but you know what I’m thinking?
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Alriiiiight.

Anyway,  since Treat Yo’ Self Day, not much else has been going on here. Just chilling with friends and family, eating obscene amounts of baked goods, and of course, the corresponding guilt-fuelled workouts. A new gym just opened here in town, which is pretty much the biggest news since our new sidewalk:

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Holla

Finally, let’s get to  why you are all reading this post in the first place: the winners of my mixtape giveaway!!!

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I tried using that random number generator to pick the winners, but despite the fact that I tweet like a pro and instagram like a boss, I’m otherwise technologically incompetent and couldn’t figure it out.

So I went with the obvious second choice: exploiting a small child.

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With the help of my lovely assistant,  we chose the following 5 winners via the ludite-proof “out of a hat” method.

Drumroll please:

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And the winners are:

Beckydancer

Greg

Lily

Adventurespirit

Erin’s DC Kitchen

Congrats!! Holla at me with your mailing addresses @ thecamellife@gmail.com and I’ll send your prizes! Thanks again to all who entered :)

Question of the Day: How have you been spending your holidays so far?

Coffee Talk

Did anyone else automatically think of Linda Richman when they read the title of this post?

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No? Just me?

So I flew into Halifax around midnight last night and crashed on my sister’s couch for the night.

I was then  awoken at 6:30 a.m. (that’s 5:30 Toronto time) by my 8-year-old niece Lola standing approximately 10 centimetres from my face, whispering “BREE” emphatically.  I jumped about a foot, and was justifiably freaked out before realizing it was her.

“You grew your nails long”, she remarked. “They look nice.”

She then proceeded to hop up on the couch with me and start downloading games on my iPhone.

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The culprit

Ahh, the joys of home.

Needless to say, after that lovely little wakeup call, I needed some caffeine, stat.

At home in Toronto, I’ve got a Keurig, which my (other) older sister bought for me as a gift during a recent visit. I had mentioned to her I wanted one, and she went out one day while I was at work late and picked it up for me.

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via keurig.ca

I cried when I got home and saw it. Long-term stress can do these things to you.

Anyway, since then Mr. K (a little term of endearment I like to use for him) and I have been in an intense love affair. Together, we have almost entirely eliminated those painful 30-60 minutes between initial wakefulness and walking through the door at Starbucks.  Now, I have Starbucks  on  tap (or in k-cups, as the case may be,) 24 hours a day.

Does life get any sweeter?

Now, if I could only figure out how to eliminate all those alcohol-less moments between 9-5.

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I even bought a travel mug for ease of transport. I hope the world doesn’t end tomorrow, or that will be a colossal waste.

And I don’t even mind that the damn machine takes up approximately 78% of the counter space in my 500 sq foot condo. Since coffee holds about 78% of my heart, I feel it’s proportional.

Anyway, this morning, I had no such Keurig luxury and instead was forced to bundle up and walk my tired ass to Starbucks in the freezing cold. (if you think I didn’t wear my pajamas for this endeavour, then you’d be wrong).

I grumbled to myself as I walked, cursing the snow and the damp Nova Scotia weather. Had I sprayed these new boots already?  I hoped so.

But I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed my Starbucks experience. Granted, everyone in Nova Scotia is at least 10 times nicer than everyone in Toronto (sorry, Torontonians), so I really shouldn’t have been. The barista met me with a smile and a cheery good morning, and when I asked for Soy milk in my coffee, he responded “Sure. After all, it is Christmas!”

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like this but a guy

I left happier, more energized, and significantly more caffeinated.

On the walk home, it hit me: I think I actually miss the take-out coffee experience. When you live alone and work long hours, you start taking pleasure in the limited social interactions you have every day.  Even if they are with complete strangers. And while my new Keurig has added a level of convenience and hyper-caffeination to my life, it has also served to cut out yet another connection I used to maintain with the outside world.

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I thought about all my homies at my local Starbucks in Toronto. I hope they are doing well. Maybe I’ll start dropping by for the occasional latte on the weekends or something, just to say hello.

I guess it’s really just another byproduct of our generation: the more technology we create, the less face-to-face interaction we maintain. It’s all a little bittersweet, and I’m a little melancholy about it.

What I should really be focused on, though, is the fact that in a couple of days, I will be off to my parent’s house in a small town where the closest Starbucks is almost 2 hours away. How is this even possible?? Instead, I will be forced to drink the cigarette-butt infused tepid bathwater that is Tim Horton’s coffee (sorry, all other Canadians), and two chocolate glazed timbits to wash it down with. I’m willing to bet, however, that the small talk at the drive-thru will still be worth it.

Question of the Day: Do you make your coffee at home, or get takeout? What’s your favourite kind?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my holiday mixtape giveaway!!

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And jut to eliminate any confusion, the “mixtape” title is pure hipster irony. It’s actually a CD. There may have been less manual labour involved, but I promise it was still made with plenty of love!

Like Father, Like Daughter

So as I mentioned in my last post, my dad came to visit me in Toronto this weekend.

Since his birthday is on Christmas and he perpetually gets the shaft gift-wise, my siblings and I decided to chip in this year and get him tickets to the Buffalo Bills game happening here.

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Now, given my dad lives in small town Nova Scotia and has only been to Toronto once 30 years ago, I kind of expected his visit to resemble one 48 hour-long episode of Breaking Amish.

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But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Dad soaked up Toronto like a sponge and wanted to experience everything it had to offer. He seriously wore me out. I’ve gotta start taking those iron pills.

The weekend got off to a rough start, however, when we experienced a slight luggage snafu at the airport. (I just love the word “snafu”. It makes even the most horrific problems sound like charming little anecdotes). I won’t get into too much detail because it’s kind of a long story, but know that in the end, we emerged victorious. And there might have been a little low-level B&E involved (By him, not by me of course: I have a professional reputation to uphold).

All’s well that ends well, right??

Anyway, with lady luck on our side, we prepared to tackle the rest of the weekend. (<— football pun).

Some highlights included:

  • Brunch Dates: (Sorry Karen.. had to cheat on you just this once)

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  • My very first visit to the CN Tower

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(And no, I did not step foot on that glass floor. Heights and I do naaaat get along.)

  • The Hockey Hall of Fame

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Ladies- a word to the wise. If you plan on accompanying a man here, bring reading material. And maybe a flask. (Unless you’re one of those progressive ladies who are really into sports. In which case, have fun… and ignore my anti-feminist propaganda. )

  • The Allan Gardens Conservatory:

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  • The St. Lawrence Antiques Market

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This was a win for both of us. I checked out vintage jewellery and books while he bartered over old coins. I even scored this sweet vintage 1968 Bulova. #treat

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  • He even got me to go to church. At least I got this cool instagram pic:

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And, of course, the Bills game:

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To say he loved it would be an understatement. We got kicked out of the stadium for lingering there so long afterwards. He loved the crowd and seeing all of the behind-the-scenes stuff you don’t see on TV.

I, on the other hand, amused myself by taking pictures:

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Reaffirming my love for cracker jacks, and of course, Psy’s halftime performance.

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Does this feel like a really long 15 minutes to anyone else?

I also feel like I got to know my dad a lot better this weekend. Like for one thing, he asks a LOT of questions. Here is just a small sampling of the many queries he had for me:

  • Are the Concession vendors inside Rogers Centre paid an hourly rate or by commission?
  • Who owns this building/when was it built/what is the occupancy/how many stories is it (Re: every single building we were in)
  • What does your landlord’s boyfriend do for a living?
  • Are the subway cars the same on both ends? What happens when it gets to the end of the line?

I guess I can’t really fault him; I, too, was notorious for my relentless questioning as  a child. I remember asking my older sister what other names my parents had considered for me, and she responded “Sun Yeoung”.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“She who asks too many questions.”

What’s that about an apple and a tree?

He was truly obsessed with the subway though.

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He had never been on one before, and kept trying to convince me to take it to the end of the line just to see what would happened. Of everything we did this weekend, he told me the Bills game was his favourite, followed by riding the subway. I told him he was like a little kid who gets a gift and likes the box better than the present itself.

Dad also made like 800 new friends talking to every single person he encountered. Ticket scalpers, homeless people, construction workers, TTC employees, you name it. He knows all of them by name and their life stories. I hope he doesn’t get wind of the fact that we’re looking for a new mayor here in Toronto, or I may never have my apartment to myself again.

Question of the Day: Are you like your dad? Your mom?

P.S. I know you’ve been waiting for it. Here it is, folks: Track 3 from the mix-tape nobody cares about!

On How I Ruined Christmas

The year was 1994, in the month of December. My best friend and I had just settled into a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos when the topic of Christmas arose.

“I hope I get SuperTalk Barbie,” I yearned. “Did you know she can say over 100,000 things?”

Truth

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“Well I already know what I’m getting for Christmas,” replied my best friend, “because I snooped and found it all”.

I was incredulous. At 9 years old, I was a play-by-the rules-type of kid. I did my homework religiously, never talked back to my parents, and had an unwavering, self-imposed bedtime of 8:00 p.m. The idea that someone would snoop for their Christmas gifts seemed an affront to almost everything I believed in.

“But you couldn’t have found them all!” I pleaded. “What about the ones Santa brings on Christmas Eve?”

“Oh Bree,” she said, shaking her head, “You’ve got a lot to learn.”

She led me down the hall towards her parent’s room, checking to make sure they were firmly entranced by the TV on the way. She motioned for me to “Shhh” as we tiptoed into the bedroom and opened the closet door. There stood a large bag full of Christmas delights: Barbies, shiny new clothes and a few wrapped packages.

A pile of Christmas gifts in colorful wrapping with ribbons.

“That one’s The Lion King,” she said, gesturing to the colourfully wrapped package I was holding. “I already steamed it open and wrapped it back up.”

I was overwhelmed with emotions. Despite this stark evidence to the contrary, I refused to believe that Santa was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Maybe her parents just didn’t understand how the whole process worked. Did they even have a chimney? Perhaps they had worked out some sort of alternative delivery arrangement with Santa and were simply holding these presents in escrow on his behalf.

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Seriously. That bag probably gets real heavy on Christmas Eve.

But try as I might to justify it, once this brain worm had been implanted, it was like inception. I needed to see for myself.

I waited until my mom was out grocery shopping and my dad was fussing with the Christmas lights outside to make my move. Given that I was a complete novice in gifting espionage, I didn’t quite know where to start, but figured I’d begin with the usual suspects. After striking out in the closet, under the bed and in the basement, I knew there was only one place left to look: the attic.

I had vowed never to set foot in our attic again after my two older brothers had locked me up there with a horrifying life-size Raggedy Ann doll almost 5 years prior. But sometimes, even your own rules are meant to be broken.

I took a deep breath, pulled the cord that released the rickety old ladder and began my ascent. Through the near pitch -darkness, I could make out a fuzzy pink blanket covering something big and oddly misshapen. I tip-toed closer, careful not to make a peep, and yanked the blanket off.

There before me lay Christmas morning: almost three weeks early. There was SuperTalk Barbie; just as I had dreamed of! There was a GT snow racer, a brand new SEGA genesis for my brothers, nerf guns, even a BopIt! And of course, the mother of all gifts: a giant, 12 disc rotating CD player (which, in 1994, was no small potatoes). It even had a double tape deck!

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But then a funny thing happened. Instead of feeling validated like I had expected, I felt sick to my stomach. My initial excitement over being able to tape a tape quickly faded and left me with nothing but guilt and anxiety. I had ruined Christmas. There would be no surprises now. And worst of all, this seemed indisputable proof that there was indeed, no Santa Claus. We had a chimney. And it worked just fine.

Riddled with guilt, I tried everything in my power to clear my conscience. I wrote tearful admissions in my diary. I became Santa’s biggest playground defender. I even went to confession. But no amount of Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s could repress the memory of what I had done.

When Christmas morning came, I smiled with a heavy heart as we headed into the living room to see what “Santa” had brought us. “Look!” said my mom, pointing to the CD player excitedly, “Santa must know how much you like making mix tapes!”

I nodded forlornly as I watched my siblings tear open packages, their eyes glistening with delight at each new surprise. Oh what I would have given to experience that feeling myself!

excitedc

Not me

“Hey guys,” said my dad, “come look on the roof! I think the reindeer left hoof prints!” I knew, of course, that there had been no reindeer. I had heard my dad up on the roof himself the previous night as I lay awake sleepless. He had spent almost an hour creating the perfect “tracks”. I was going to fake this surprise if it killed me.

I never did come clean to my parents about what I had done, and although I never snooped again, I still live with the residual guilt. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do to repay this karmic debt, but I do know that when I become a parent, I’ll be certain to find a better hiding spot.

I mean come on mom and dad, have you never SEEN this movie?

Really mom and dad? The attic? Have you SEEN Christmas Vacation?

Question of the Day: Did you snoop for your Christmas gifts growing up?

It’s Not A Party Until Somebody Busts out an EpiPen

“Someone call 911!!” my Father shouted, “and for God’s sake would someone go calm down your mother??!”

It was Thanksgiving 2007, and I was standing in the upstairs bathroom of my childhood home, staring down at the (seemingly) lifeless body of my older sister Marija.

Just a few moments before, she had returned from her annual Thanksgiving 10k run and  gone upstairs to take a shower. The rest of my family and I were busying ourselves in the kitchen when suddenly, we heard a telltale “THUD” . We rushed upstairs to find my sister, passed out cold on the bathroom floor, sweatband and dry fit gear still firmly in place.

What she had neglected to tell any of us was that for the past four days, she had been subsisting on nothing but a cayenne pepper and maple syrup concoction (laced with speed, evidently) in an effort to pare down for the holidays. Apparently, this was a diet Beyonce swore by.

Right. So that makes it a good idea.

Unarmed with this essential information, we all feared the worst and launched into full-scale panic mode. My brother hit the floor, attempting to revive her like a scene from a bad Nicholas Cage film, while my mother screamed bloody murder in the background. I, in my usual helpful fashion, did nothing but stand there and sob uncontrollably. My father had just gone to send up an emergency flare in the backyard when my sister came to, staring into the faces of 6 crazed lunatics.

“Guys, I’m fine” she said. “But can someone get me a Gatorade or something?”

I wish I could say that this story was one of a kind; a blip on the radar of an otherwise unblemished Thanksgiving history. But sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Growing up the youngest of 5, Thanksgiving, much like any other holiday, was basically a shit show. If someone wasn’t passing out, they were splitting their hand open with a carving knife, or arm-wrestling over the last drumstick. Just getting us all in one place was cause for celebration in and of itself.

Despite all of this calamity,  I continue to book the overpriced ticket and go home for Thanksgiving every year. Why? Because there’s always the distinct possibility of one of my siblings getting their head stuck inside a turkey. And if so, I’d really like to put sunglasses on it.

Another Thanksgiving debacle in our family is the annual debate over who will say grace. The pre-dinner prayer was a necessary precursor to every Thanksgiving meal growing up, and one my siblings and I avoided like the plague. My Father would take up his post at the head of the table and ask, “Now, whose turn is it to say grace this year?” And inevitably, 5 collective heads would lower, eager to escape this cruel and unusual punishment.

I’m not really sure why we hated it so much. You reference the grub, thank the Big Man upstairs and move on. I mean, sure, there are are some weird, Latin old-timey words in there, but it wasn’t like you had to announce that you still wet the bed or something. Regardless, it was an unwritten rule that the one who had to say it would be forced to carry around a lifetime of eternal shame.

As the youngest, I was often the scapegoat. My siblings would team up against me and insist “It’s Bree’s turn! It’s Bree’s turn!” conveniently “forgetting” that I had recited it the previous 5 years in a row. If I ever thought about objecting, I only had to look at my brothers to know that one peep would result in a year’s worth of Smurf bites and figure four leg locks. Inevitably, I relented, left to mumble “Bless us o lord, for these thy gifts…” into my mashed potatoes as my brothers snickered in the background.

Things only got worse for me when one year, I decided to make a Thanksgiving centrepiece. I was 11, and going through my short-lived “interior decorating phase”. I watched home decorating shows religiously, rearranged the furniture in my bedroom daily, and, if permitted, would have sponge-painted every available surface area in our home. I had seen an amazing centerpiece in a copy of Martha Stewart Living  and was hell-bent on making it, despite my mother’s objections about the mess it would cause and my brothers’ taunts that “no one cared about a stupid centrepiece anyway”. It consisted of fall leaves artfully arranged in a cornucopia made out of a single piece of birch bark: all sprinkled with a hefty dose of glitter. It was magnificent. I just knew having it on our table would make for the best Thanksgiving ever.

Determined, I set off  in search of the perfect fall foliage for my piece de resistance. What I neglected to consider, however, were my chronically severe seasonal allergies. About 20 minutes into rummaging through leaf piles, I was sneezing so hard I could barely see straight, hives popping up on every inch of exposed skin. Think McCauley Culkin in My Girl, minus the anaphylaxis. I was barely able to stumble back home and limply drop my leaves onto the table before my mom gave me a hefty dose of Benadryl and sent me to bed. This was not, as Martha had suggested, A Good Thing.

Luckily, I only had to wait one year for my embarrassing Thanksgiving moment to be eclipsed by my brother Kristin performing what was perhaps the most notoriously stupid act in our family’s history.

We were celebrating our first Thanksgiving in a brand new home, and my mom brought out her gold-plated wedding china for the occasion. We had all been served, and were just about to sit down to dinner when my brother decided to warm up his turkey dinner in the microwave.

Not being an idiot, I of course knew that the combination of gold plating and microwaves did not mix, but despite this did nothing to stop it. Why? Because the irony was much too sweet. My brother; the self-described “science prodigy”. Boaster of many a math and science accolade. Dropper of frequent and unsolicited periodic table-related puns. This was much, much too good.

Just as I (and every known law of physics) predicted, within seconds sparks began flying and the Microwave lit up like a fourth of July picnic. He quickly rushed to press “cancel”, but not before leaving a sizeable hole in the newly microwave and a strong sulphuric tinge in the air. I had never felt so validated.

Shockingly, the mayhem is showing no signs of slowing down, and year after year, our house continues to resemble another instalment in the National Lampoon series. Just this past Thanksgiving, my mother claimed to have taken an allergic reaction to my sister Sherene’s homemade preserves, and proceeded to fan her face and sneeze dramatically throughout the entire meal. She says it was because of the nutmeg. I say it’s because they sucked. Oh well, I guess the old adage is true: it’s not a party until somebody busts out an EpiPen!

           Question of the Day: Any Good Thanksgiving Fails to Share?

*Ok so I know it’s not technically Thanksgiving for me. But I thought I would share this one for all my Amurrican friends. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!