Dear Mr. Kellogg

Greetings from Canada, Mr. Kellogg!

You have some fans up here in the chilly north. Big fans. We really like your cereal. Not Corn Flakes. Yes, I realize that is the flagship cereal, but come on, it’s pretty bland. And Mini-Wheats is a bit of a toss-up for taste, but you get credit for trying to keep us all healthy.

I would also like to give you credit for correcting some of your questionable choices. My research indicates that at one point you produced Bart Simpson No Problem-Os and they are no longer on store shelves. Wise move. And while you do get points for trying, I commend you for discontinuing the Mr. Ts Muscle Crunch.

Lest you think my motivation is only to criticize, I will reveal my true purpose for writing to you.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran.

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Three simple words (one slightly abbreviated I presume for the sake of whimsy – good one, marketing team) that would make Canadians so happy.

This sweet, crunchy deliciousness in a bowl can only be procured in the United States of America. It has now been added to the ever-growing list of food selections denied tax-paying, free-health-care-loving, apologetic Canadians.

Why, Dr. Kellogg, why? Are we not worthy of oats with a hint of coconut? Do our colons not deserve the 25% of our daily fibre? We would like the option of starting our day with the joy of eating distinctly shaped ‘O’s. WE WANT OUR TOUCH OF CINNAMON.

I long to see your crunchy, sweet, oven-baked product on our shelves, complete with both French and English languages. I will even help with the translation. Please, Dr. Kellogg, for the children. Si vous plait.

Listen, if you don’t feel that marketing COB to the Great White North is a viable option, I can support that – we are a very easy-going people. I can send you my mailing information and you can send me a private supply. No one else needs to know. Canadians are also very non-judgemental and can keep a secret.

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You’d like to make my morning better? Great. End this lock-out and start selling COB to cereal-loving Canadians.
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“Sorry, kids this is the last bowl from the box we got in the USA.”  “But Mommy, I like it, too.” “I know baby, I know.” *
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Not to exaggerate, but this might be the saddest picture on the internet.

You have the reputation of being both an industrialist and a philanthropist giving me hope that the lack of COB in our country is just an oversight soon to be corrected. Thank you for your consideration. I have faith in you.

_______

*if you are wondering why there is no milk in the bowl, all will explained here.

 

 

Family Mascot

Every family has a mascot, right? RIGHT?

If you do not already have one, I highly recommend it. And pets do not count, neither do children. Maybe an uncle, but I don’t recommend it.

Nothing says, “togetherness” quite like a mascot. It fosters a sense of belonging, trust me. It’s like a modern coat of arms. And it’s portable.

The selection process is important. You don’t want just any old thing to represent your family. Take your time, make sure you find the right fit. You could put it to a vote, but democracy is highly overrated in family situations. After thoughtful deliberation, just announce your selection to your loved ones.

Sometimes fate steps in and the mascot chooses you. That’s what happened to us.

One day I was angry-cleaning and muttering about not being the maid tidying up after my appreciative family I realized we had a new resident. He’d been moved around from hallway to bedroom, back to hallway and then finally the laundry room. This guy wasn’t going anywhere. On some level I knew that this was the mascot I’d been searching for. That’s when I decided to make it official.

Our mascot has adapted well to residing in our home. The transition has gone very smoothly and now it’s hard to imagine life without him.

Meal prep isn’t so lonely or tedious. Plus, Keith never complains about what I am serving.

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In the past, if I was too tired to read at bedtime I just had to power through. No longer necessary when you have a handy mascot. Thanks, Keith.

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Keith is a great listener and he doesn’t sass back. His demands are few: change of scenery every now and then, an occasional dusting. He’s the lowest-maintenance member of our family by far.

Welcome, Keith. I didn’t know our family was missing someone until you came along. 

 

 

 

 

Knit Two, Purl Two

 

“Come out to Wool and Wine – we can learn to knit together!” the invitation read.

“Hmmmm, wine, conversation, SNACKS? I’m game. Oh, knitting? I did that once or twice as a kid, so sure. Count me in. That’s like riding a bike, right?”

And so began my foray into the world of knitting.

Did you know that there are various sizes of knitting needles? It’s true.

I turned up to our first session with my fancy plastic shopping bag containing borrowed needles and two balls of yarn. Balls? Spools? Wads? Wads. I had two wads of yarn with me – I looked it up, that’s the correct term. No need to double check.

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If you think this looks like tricky yarn for a beginner, you are correct.

Apparently you can’t just start looping yarn together, you have to “cast on”. Good thing there were some experts in this group. I guess my mom always did that part for me. Do you “cast off” too? I don’t know because I have never finished a knitting project. Time wool tell, I guess.

As a kind friend set up my project, I decided to unwind with a glass of red and a handful of M&Ms (this was my kind of gathering!). It was totally worth the needling I had received from my coworkers at lunch about joining a knitting circle. They didn’t realize that the point was to try something new.

Dear reader, I won’t bore you with all the knitty gritty details of our evening, but we did spin some good yarns. I was in stitches several times reminiscing about old times and shared experiences.

This novice knitter only had to start over once so I decided to call it a night before things unravelled. The time had flown by and it seemed we had already developed a close-knit feeling of camaraderie among us. I hope this pattern continues in future evenings because yes, I’m hooked. I went into this new hobby feeling skeptical, but darn it, I enjoyed myself.

I might even finish this project, you never know.

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Just need an evening or two to finish up

 

Nutcracker Bandit Strikes Fear in Family

Local mom was shaken to discover her family home had apparently been the victim of vandalism.

“I love a good mystery. Scooby-Doo, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Sherlock, I’m a big fan of the sleuths. So I thought I would be able to solve this easily,” the mother of four said. Unfortunately, she was mistaken.

The family recently put out their Christmas decorations, including a family favourite, the nutcracker, Bob. Days later, the family was horrified to find that Nutcracker Bob’s trumpet had been broken off.

“This was certainly not an inside job. I specifically told my boys not to play with the Nutcracker and they all promised they wouldn’t,” said the devastated mom. “I don’t feel safe in my own home.”

When asked about the vandalism, the oldest son declined to comment. The youngest son, however, speculated that the family home might be haunted.

Similar incidents have happened to the family in the past. Toilet paper strewn across the floors, lights mysteriously left on, and chewed gum hidden behind furniture.

Authorities have not been called in, but the parents are documenting the recurring vandalism. For the time being, the family remains hopeful that the mystery will be solved.

 

 

 

The Future is NOW

My children, it is true that we live in an amazing time. But sometimes I ponder what the future might hold for us. What wonders could be just a few years away?

For instance, sometimes I like to imagine that in my lifetime we will have the ability to create some sort of mechanism that allows you to suspend a towel off of a bedroom floor. Maybe it will be on the back of a door, who is to say? I’ll leave that to the engineers.

Occasionally I like to dream of a time when we won’t have to eat food with our bare hands. I admit it is hard to wait, but I’m sure scientists are on the cusp of discovering the right formula to forge a device that allows us to deliver food directly from our plate to our mouth. Call me fanciful, but I think that could happen any day now.

If you’re like me, you might be wishing for an appliance of some sort that washes dishes for you. Wouldn’t it be amazing if all we have to do is load the dirty dishes into it and *poof* all the hard work is done? The dishes would come out clean with minimal effort from us. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but so did space travel, didn’t it?

So close.
So close.

When a drink spills on the floor it is such a hassle. You have to walk around it until it eventually dries up. But I have faith that one day there will be an absorbent material that can swipe up that mess in one go. I believe we have the technology, it just hasn’t been maximized yet.

If they can make a phone that allows you to hold the world’s knowledge in the palm of your hand, surely we aren’t far away from an apparatus that will pick up carpet debris with a suction action? And why stop at carpet? Perhaps this miracle-of-tomorrow will also be able to suck popcorn and dried gum from between couch cushions? Heady times ahead. Heady times, indeed.

I envy you kids, what a time to be alive.

Local Mom Disowned by Neighbours, Feels Bewildered and Betrayed

A Kitchener mother of two has been blacklisted by her neighbours and wants answers.

“One day we were sipping our soy chai lattes at the park, the next day I was pushed out of the group. I saw them scurry away after the school drop-off. They all claimed to have errands and appointments, but thirty minutes later one of them Instagrammed her banana bread and I could see the cluster of them in the reflection on her microwave. I just don’t understand what I could have done to upset them.”

“I thought we were friends,” said the confused mother.

Sources close to this baffled parent tell a different story. According to moms on the playground, this ostracism has been imminent for months.

“Just last week at a playdate she proposed handing out fruit cups decorated like jack-o-lanterns and bananas with ‘Happy Halloween’ scribed on the peel,” reports one exasperated mom.

Her former cardio-walker partner adds, “But the final straw was the plastic ring comment.”

She goes on to explain, “After we talked her out of the fruit and vegetable candy substitutes, she announced that she was handing out plastic spider rings instead of candy.”

Despite protests from her fellow parents that an overabundance of plastic rings and Halloween-themed pencils are more of a nuisance for moms and dads than dealing with a sugar high, this deluded mom suggested that parents could repurpose these trinkets.

“They could make a really fun mobile or maybe some DIY hair accessories.”

The other moms say that reentry into the group is possible, but that they need time to heal.

No Candy? No Thanks.

I love Hallowe’en. The candy, the costumes, connecting with neighbours, the candy.

But there is a darkness around this holiday and we can’t just pretend anymore. I know, I know, we can choose to focus on the fun and light-hearted side of All Hallows’ Eve, but some things cannot be ignored. PURE EVIL CANNOT GO UNCHECKED.

Let’s shine a light on this sinister interloper who tries to spoil this holiday every year. For the sake of the children, we need to work together to take back Hallowe’en. For the children.

It might seem harmless at first, perhaps even a nice substitute for some other elements of trick-or-treating, but I assure you, it is not. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing is what it is.

Halloween-themed plastic rings.

Oh, here, let me wear pure evil on my finger.
Oh, here, let me wear pure evil on my finger.

Rest assured, I hear your points in favour of these trinkets:

They are a great alternative to all that candy.

No one is allergic to plastic jewellery.

Parents appreciate candy-free options.

And here is my well-thought-out response:

Why?

True, but not a selling feature.

Parents appreciate having candy to steal after bedtime.

Bear with me as I deep dive for a moment. This is holiday that’s main purpose is to promote binge-eating chocolate, chips, and candy. Why would anyone want to interfere with that? Besides, you have to walk door-to-door, burning so many calories that it all evens out (don’t worry, if you believe hard enough, that’s mostly true). You know what else is nut-free? Money, McDonald’s gift cards, all those candies that say “nut-free” on the package. It’s covered.

A stash of candy will eventually disappear, but you know what never goes away? TINY PLASTIC RINGS. Children do not forget and they are miniature hoarders. They might forget the number of fun-size Twix bars they had, but they always remember how many spider, witch, and jack-o-lantern rings they own. Can’t eat those, Mom and Dad. You can’t eat those.

Some parents might appreciate candy-free options, but they also appreciate not stepping on small plastic rings in a darkened hallway. And here’s a fun fact: you cannot vacuum up a plastic ring, even if you run over it a several times. Even if you pick it up, turn it over, push the little spider legs down, then drop it back on the floor and try to vacuum it up again (I would imagine).

So let’s leave Halloween as nature intended – high-fructose, fun-sized, and delicious.

_____________

P.S. Fruit is also not a treat.

The Mysterious Case of the Stabby Hydrant and the Zombie Mouse

Bad days. We’ve all had them. In fact, I have a had a few reaching epic proportions. There was Brown Tuesday back in 2003. And then the Perfect Storm of 2011, and then there was yesterday.

The Year of Jan is coming to an explosive conclusion. After twelve months at home full time, I’m going back to teaching in a few days. To maximize my school-prep efficiency, I went into school in the evening. I’m easily distracted so working at night is best for my time-management.

Sit back and I’ll tell you the tale.

It was a dark and stormy night. No, for real, it was. I spent an hour or two organizing my space and getting settled back in to school. There was no one else in the building, but I’ve been in after hours before and no longer jump when the lights automatically turn on. Knowing ahead of time that our sixty-year-old building has mice makes me a little less jittery when I hear the odd scurry in the ceiling tiles.

After a successful blitz of paper cutting and pencil sharpening, it was time to head out. But I really needed to pee. Curse you, Tim Hortons and your dark roast. This call of nature caused quite a conundrum: Pee with the door open? Close the door and get stabbed by an unknown intruder? Or wait until I get home?

I went with option C.

Next it was time to exit the building. This involves swiping out, and absolutely NOT setting off the alarm. I managed that successfully, but then of course had to wait and test that I really did lock the door.

Despite being an adult, the walk across the dark playground to the parking is terrifying. So the obvious choice is to run. Like a little kid. Squealing. Did I drop my wallet who cares there’s no time don’t go back just get to the car someone is lurking at the side ready to stab you at the first opportunity.

It was a fire hydrant. But a very ominous-looking fire hydrant. Also, your own hair flapping in your face does feel exactly like someone trying to kidnap you. And your reflection in the windshield does look like a serial killer. BUT I SURVIVED.

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Nothing takes the edge off a stressful drive home better than a few episodes of Breaking Bad. (I might start my own life-coaching business, stay tuned).

Around midnight I thought it was time to head to bed and at that exact moment I heard the snap of a mousetrap. I turned and saw a tail sticking out from under the stove. It was definitely time to go to bed. I am surprisingly adept at running through the kitchen with one eye closed and switching off the sink light all while squealing like a little kid. Do not look at the mouse corpse are you crying, woman, toughen up and get out of there it’s probably coming to get you.

Normally I would inform my husband about the dead rodent, but ever since the Buzzy Fly Burglar Incident, I’m not allowed to do that anymore.

The adrenaline coupled with the caffeine from my coffee (curse you, Tim Hortons and your revved up elixir) made sleeping difficult. But I lulled myself to dreamland by thinking peaceful thoughts like “what if it was a pregnant mouse and it’s dead but the babies aren’t and it’s all wiggling around?”

The following morning we were awakened by whispered shouts of “THERE’S A DEAD MOUSE IN THE KITCHEN IT’S SO COOL WELL IT’S NOT REALLY DEAD LOOK AT IT FLIP AND DO TRICKS”.

In case you’re wondering, zombie mice are real and I will never sleep again.

Be sure to PM about the life coach thing.

Crocs, S’mores, and Dirty Feet

Food, coolers, ice

tents

sleeping bags

Pack up contents of the house

Sunscreen

Matches

Wienie roasting sticks

Did we bring the pop and chips?

The kids!

We arrived with six, now only four

Search party

Breathe easy, they’re found

White rabbit White rabbit

White rabbit White rabbit

Stop adding paper to the fire

Seriously

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Where could they be?

Buddy system

does not work

Dirty feet

Unwashed faces

Relax

Camping is hygiene-free

Night falls

Fire’s out

Into nylon huts we go

Sleep

Hissing

My will to live seeps out

No

Air mattress has a leak

(Same thing)

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P.S. Camping is growing on me. I went willingly this year.

Let’s Unplug

Summer is a time for togetherness, to unwind and recharge. It’s also a great time to unplug from everything and be truly present. So that’s what our family did. We unplugged for four days. And let me tell you, it was glorious.

We played board games and baked cookies together. We hauled out the loom and made new throw rugs for our living room. We dried herbs and made decorative wreaths for the local senior centre. And we got a great start on our family Christmas cantata script. All with time to spare.

There was no wifi, no internet at all. That meant no Netflix, no social media, no Clash of Clans. It also meant no bickering over devices. But let me reiterate, no Netflix. NO NETFLIX.

Oh sure, there were some challenges. It is hard to be creative when you don’t have Pinterest at your fingertips. But I discovered that it is possible, nay, preferable, to make a sandwich without a theme. I couldn’t answer all the boys’ questions without my good friend, Google. But it turns out that kids aren’t all that hung up on “accuracy” and “validity”. They will accept just about anything you tell them if you say it with confidence. For instance, I know more about combustible engines than any of us thought.

We had to dig deep a few times to find new ways to entertain ourselves, but it didn’t take long for us to recall that the library loans out movies for free. You can make popcorn without wifi. Don’t need the world wide web to mix up lemonade from concentrate.

Yes, unplugging is good for the soul. I highly recommend it.

Not only can you connect as a family, this is also a great way to get to know your neighbours. If we hadn’t been without internet access, I would not have chanced upon our neighbours “tazzyzee32” and “wireless_mom” or the other one five doors down, “ruko-752”. What a time to be alive.

Give it a try, trust me.

Upcoming post – how unplugging can increase your fitness level.