Today, I’m officially 14 weeks pregnant.

(pause for cathartic sigh)

I’ve had my eye on this particular milestone since the day I found out I was pregnant. I had my miscarriage, way back in 2000, when I was 13 1/2 weeks pregnant, and every subsequent pregnancy, that 13 1/2 week mark has loomed heavily on my horizon. Completely without logic, I know, but there are some things that are so deeply entrenched in the psyche that they defy logic.

The first hurdle was just after the 9 week mark, where we lost Tristan’s twin. When the ultrasound a couple of weeks ago confirmed all was well, I felt the anxiety lift from my stomach to my chest. With this latest milestone passed, I think I can finally believe that I really am pregnant. (superstitious flinch)(touch wood)

I told Beloved on the weekend that I had passed the 13 1/2 week mark, and he was blissfully oblivious. “Does that mean you’re in the second trimester now?” he asked with a sweet lack of awareness. Later that night, I mentioned the same thing to my mom, in almost the same words, and she looked at me with obvious recognition and said, “I know. I’ve been patiently waiting for you to get to this point. I’m so happy for you.” Maybe it’s a girl thing.

In a little bit less morbid vein, I am completely perplexed by my body this pregnancy. According to more than one scale, I’ve gained about five pounds since Labour Day – which is great. I was 15 lbs heavier than I would have liked when I got pregnant, so I’ve been a little bit leery about weight gain.

But if I’ve only gained five pounds, where the hell did all this extra me come from? I’m already visibly showing, depending on what I’m wearing, and even my fat jeans had to be retired last weekend. I can see extra weight on my thighs and around my middle – where did it all come from? Did my bones get decidedly more brittle and less dense in the month of October?

Aside from a two-week holiday from the gym at the end of October, I’ve been working out fairly regularly and intend to do so for most if not all of the pregnancy. But man, it’s amazing how much extra effort you have to exert just to compensate for a lime-sized baby. I get that it will be harder for me to catch my breath and work at the same intensity when I’m really big, but it’s amazing how much harder the cardio part of my workout is even now.

Where am I going with all this? I have no idea. Did I mention my other significant pregnancy symptom is massive pregnancy brain? And that would be on top of my regular micro-sized attention span. What? Were you saying something? Where was I and what did you do with my peanut-butter bagel?

Locked out

Note to self: you MUST go TODAY and have another front-door key made. Maybe two, possibly three. Really, go now!

I had the honour of attending an award ceremony for my organization yesterday. Last year I was part of a team that received our department’s highest employee honour, and there was a lovely little ceremony and cocktail reception. I left the reception to catch my bus home only a little bit later than normal, but it was only when I stepped out of the National Arts Centre and into the cold damp of a November afternoon that I realized I had to pee.

I’m thirteen weeks pregnant now; I should know better than to leave anywhere without peeing first.

But luckily for me, my bus was right there, so I hopped on and crossed my legs and tried to think dry thoughts for the 30 minute ride home. And since I had the latest James Patterson novel to pass the time, I was distracted enough that I made it all the way home without incident.

I was walking toward the house from the bus stop, my shoulders huddled against the wind and thinking about how pleased I was with myself to have had the foresight to wear my winter coat this morning. In a rush, my self-satisfaction turned to dismay as my brain followed that track: I am wearing my winter coat today. Yesterday, when I went to the grocery store, I was wearing my light coat. When I left the house today, I completely forgot to grab my keys out of the pocket of my jacket. I have no keys. Beloved and the boys will not be home for another half hour at least.

I’m locked out of the house – and I have to pee.

We used to have a spare key. We need to have a spare key, because I tend to forget my keys frequently. But I gave my spare to the cleaning lady and I hadn’t gotten around to replacing it yet.

I could have called my parents. They live a three-minute drive from my house, and they have a spare key. Except, just last Thursday as I came flying home from work in a panic to start getting ready to pack for the Motherlode conference, I also forgot my keys. (See? Frequently. I told you.) And I just couldn’t justify calling my mother, who also goes out of her way every Tuesday to pick up the boys at daycare, to come and rescue her absent-minded 37-year-old daughter for the second time in a week. Pride comes before a fall, or a bladder emergency.

For reasons that I won’t bother to explain here, I did manage to get into the garage, where I made myself comfortable on the stacked patio furniture and settled in to wait. For a few idle moments, I considered grabbing the rake and actually doing something productive with the time I had, but I was dressed in a skirt and heels and nylons for the award ceremony, and did I mention the full bladder? So I perched on the small tower of stacked lawn chairs, read my book and waited.

After about 20 minutes, I finished the book. I figured the boys would be home any minute anyway, so I opened the garage door (I had closed it partly to block the wind and partly to keep the neighbours from wondering what in the name of hell I was doing huddled and shivering on a stack of patio furniture in the garage dressed in my work clothes.)

For a long minute, I just looked out and blinked. A small part of my brain wondered idly exactly how long I had been in the garage and what weird time warp I might be experiencing. The lawn, the bench, the garden and the park across the street were covered with at least an inch of snow. For the first snow of the season to magically appear while I had my back ever-so-briefly turned was a little more than my sluggish brain could process.

Of course, the first snow also snarls traffic, and I began to sweat even as I shivered, wondering just how late Beloved might be in his hour-long drive home from the college in Quebec where he teaches. Luckily, he was most of the way home when the snowburst started, and I only had to pass another 15 minutes or so shifting unhappily on frozen toes on the porch beside the wilting and frosted jack-o-lanterns. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see my boys pull into the driveway.

Keys. Lots and lots of spare keys. One of my purse, one for each jacket, one for the neighbours, and maybe a few more secret hiding places around the house.

How many keys do you have stashed? Got any locked-out-of-the-house stories to share?

Recap in too many words

You know how when you’ve been looking forward to something for a reaaaaaalllllyyyy long time, and the closer it gets the more excited you get, until after a year (literally, a year since we first started talking about it) of planning and talking and thinking and speculating and wondering, when the morning of the event actually arrives, you are so excited that nothing could possibly live up to your expectations?

This wasn’t one of those times.

This time, even though my expectations were torqued unbelievably high, everything exceeded my wildest dreams. The five-hour drive on the way down passed in the blink of an eye, or more accurately, the wag of a tongue. I don’t think Andrea and I stopped chatting for more than a quarter of a kilometer at a time. She is a perfect road-trip companion!

It was just after one o’clock when we arrived chez Marla. Marla is *exactly* like she appears in her blog – kind, quirky, smart, and side-splittingly funny. She is also an amazing hostess, and she makes, no joke, the best chicken noodle soup that I have ever had in my life, complete with hominy and avocado (really, I was a little hesitant when she offered to put avocado in mine, but it was DIVINE!)

And Josephine – it was hard not to just scoop her up and stuff her in my suitcase and take her home with me. On Saturday morning, I was just rustling myself out of bed when she wandered tentatively into the guest room. She reclined against the fluffed pillow, the grey morning light bathing her blond tousled hair, and my heart melted. She’s exquisite!

So then we had this panel thing to do. Oh yes, the conference!

We arrived a healthy 30 minutes or so before we were scheduled to start, and I was extremely nervous. I hadn’t had nearly the opportunities to practise my talk that I would have wanted, and I was antsy with so much time to kill. Luckily, the extra time gave me a chance to finally meet in person some people I’ve been admiring online for so long that it was almost surreal to finally meet them in person: Miche, Andrea Gordon, Kate, Nadine/Scarbie Doll, and even one of the editors from the Citizen. Very very cool people! I was starstruck before I even began talking.

The audience was very friendly, and when they laughed at my first joke (“Blog itself is short for ‘weblog,’ which is short for ‘we blog because we weren’t very popular in high school and we’re trying to gain respect and admiration without actually having to be around people'”) almost all my fear evaporated and I really enjoyed speaking.

My co-panelists did an amazing job as well. I’m so proud of them for their hard work, their great style and their terrific presentations! Andrea will be posting everyone’s essays on the next edition of The Whole Mom in a couple of weeks, and although we did digitally record the whole thing, we haven’t quite figured out if and how we might podcast it.

To me, the highlight of the presentation was the question and answer session afterward, for a couple of reasons. First, I was afraid no-one would say anything. I needn’t have worried! We not only had a fascinating discourse, but we went over our alotted time by half an hour, and I’m sure we could have continued on for two hours more. It was during the QA that I realized that two of my all-time favourite bloggers, among the first friends I had made in the blog world, were in the audience. When I realized who it was, I’m sure I literally gasped, and I turned to Ann sitting beside me. “Is that… is that… is that Emily and Cooper from Been There?” I asked, incredulous and reverent at the same time. “It sure is,” Ann replied, “and I got to hug them yesterday!” I was so excited I could barely stay in my chair for the rest of the session.

I was still reeling from the surprise of finding Cooper and Emily in the audience, so I was barely prepared for the next shock of recognition. There had been a woman in the front row who had been obviously paying close attention to what I was saying, nodding encouragingly and with agreement through a lot of my presentation. I didn’t know who she was, but she seemed very receptive to what we were saying, and her manner relaxed and encouraged me. In making a point during the QA, she made a reference to “my book Mothershock” and again I nearly swooned with celebrity recognition. Again I turned to Ann, probably not to sotto voce as I should have been, and gasped “Is that – Andi Buchanan?”, to which Ann only smiled and nodded, her eyes bright with laughter.

After the QA officially ended, we had a few more minutes to chat in small groups and catch up. An ongoing theme of the weekend emerged: we have so much to say, so little time, and really, we could go on like this for hours. I also had the chance to meet Her Bad Mother oh so briefly as well – she also did her own presentation at the conference, and through a fluke of scheduling, her talk was at the same time as ours. So many bloggers, so much so say – and so little time!!

Into the rainy night we hustled to our next destination – Jen’s place for dinner and an old-fashioned hen session with a decidedly intellectual bent. I want to write a whole other blog post about some of the themes we covered, especially the differences in raising girls and boys (we were loosely basing our discussions on the books that Andi Buchanan edited, It’s A Boy and It’s a Girl) and how we mother according to how we were mothered. Fascinating! I only wish it could have gone on for about six more hours… I really think we could have all talked that long.

Back to Marla’s place where I fell exhaustedly into bed, and Andrea was kind enough to relinquish the guest bed to me and take the new comfy couch for herself. I slept in until 7:30!! That alone would make a noteworthy weekend! Lattes and conversation and Josie’s antics warmed us into a rainy grey morning.

And then (pause for breath) we met up with our co-panelists and Andi and Sue Allan from the Ottawa Citizen to have a little post-panel debrief over coffee and diner breakfast. More fascinating conversation ensued, and I got to meet the lovely and charming Frances, daughter of Andrea.

We rounded out the morning with some intensive retail therapy at the Mecca of all Winners. You’d think with this crowd, our arms would be bursting with handbags and shoes and accessories, but no – I had to laugh when the vast majority of everyone’s purchases were made in the toy section. Even when you take the mother out on the town, you can’t leave the mother behind. The boys loved the Play Dough (or, as Simon says, Play-day-doh) alphabet set, and for $6.99, it was a steal to ease my maternal guilt at leaving them behind for the weekend.

We had to leave too early in the day for my tastes, as I really could have spent another day chatting and wandering and shopping, but the weather was threatening to turn bad, and I had promised my boys we’d be back for bedtime on Saturday, so Andrea and I passed another agreeable if not slightly more mellow couple of hours in the car on the way home.

Oh, and that little conference thing of ours? Turns out at least somebody was paying attention, given the fact that my new hero Jen was quoted extensively on the FRONT PAGE of the weekend edition of the National freakin’ Post!

I think I’ve officially run out of superlatives. What a weekend!

Welcome to my sandbox: My Motherlode presentation

I’m tucking this into Blogger’s capable hands the day before the Motherlode conference in Toronto. This is the presentation as I originally wrote it, but then I cut it down to just the key words and key points in my own speaking notes, so who knows how it will actually turn out. When I’m back from Toronto and have finished smothering my left-behind men with kisses, I’ll post links to the rest of the presentations, too. And of course, through the next week you’ll be subjected to a painfully detailed blow-by-blow analysis of the presentations in particular and the weekend in general.

But for now, here’s what I intended to say:

  • Hello, and on behalf of my friends up here with me – welcome! My name is Dani, and I write a blog called Postcards from the Mothership. I’ve been blogging for almost two years, which almost qualifies me as old skool. I’m also the mom of two boys, ages two and a half and four and a half.
  • Before we get started, I’d like to ask how many of you have ever heard of a blog before today?And how many of you have read a blog?And how many of you have blogs of your own, or have ever kept a blog?
  • So the first thing I’d like to do is beg your indulgence while I take a minute to give you all a little “Blog 101” lesson. What is a blog? I recently found this definition on the Web site “Wired” and found it sums it up nicely. (slide with this quote on it) “Blog” itself is short for “weblog,” which is short for “we blog because we weren’t very popular in high school and we’re trying to gain respect and admiration without actually having to be around people.”
  • You laugh, but I find it almost embarrassingly true. Ahem, at least in my case.
  • A blog is, for our purposes here at least, is a little bit like an online journal, or a diary. It’s on the Internet, so it’s usually public. Individual blog entries are called posts, and the most recent one usually appears first, so when you read down a page you’re reading backwards in time.
  • Most blogs have a few features in common. First of all, there’s usually a comment feature. Most bloggers love to get comments, and the feedback you get on something you write can be very validating. Most blogs also feature a blogroll, which is a list of blogs that particular blogger likes or respects or visits often. And for the truly obsessive, you can install a hit counter that lets you know how many people are visiting your blog, and where they are coming from.
  • People who aren’t familiar with the idea of blogging always ask me what I write about, and my answer is always along the lines of “everything.” I write to tell the stories of my two young sons, of being pregnant with a third, and my thoughts and opinions on being a working Canadian mom in the early part of the 21st century.
  • Blogging to me is often like reading the best bits of the Saturday paper out loud at the breakfast table. It’s my way of saying, “Hey, did you see this? Did you hear about that? Isn’t it wonderful / outrageous / hilarious? What do you think?”
  • When I blog, I put my thoughts and experiences up on the Internet, and other people who are inclined to read them can do so – and then they can add their own thoughts via the comment box. Or maybe they get inspired, and write about a similar topic on their own blog. And so the community begets a conversation, and that conversation is public and just about anyone can join in.
  • So what does blogging have to do with mothering?
  • Let me tell you about why I think blogging is such a perfect medium for mothers.
  • A friend of mine who is an amazing scrap-booker once said she sees herself as the ‘family historian’, and I immediately loved this idea. In blogging, I’m able to chronicle the minutia that is the fabric of our lives at this point in time. It’s a huge part of blogging for me, sharing in words and pictures and even video clips the little moments that might otherwise be lost… and I don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy paper and funky scissors to do it! Marla will talk a little bit more about blogging as art, and the telling of stories.
  • That’s on a very personal level. But blogging can be a very public act. Blogging, and especially mommy blogging, is about community, and about conversation. And those are two things that mothers, especially mothers of very young children, are often desperate for.
  • We don’t live in a society where mom or an older sister grandma or Auntie Agnes is right there in the house, on site to offer advice and guidance in the scary business of raising a child. We’re largely on our own, often quietly terrified and sure we’re the only ones who feel lost, afraid and alone. We’re desperate for some sort of support system, some kind of external validation, and someone to say, “oh yes, that happened to me, too. Here’s what I did. And we survived.”
  • As I said, I’m a working mom to two small boys. Often, the only time I see parents of kids my age is at the park after dinner. I’m on a ‘hey, howareya’ nodding acquaintance with a lot of them, but I can’t say I’ve ever swapped potty training tips with any of them, let alone admit to having a particularly hard time of it. Even when my nipples were cracked and bleeding and I thought I was going to die from the stress of breastfeeding my newborn, I couldn’t actually tell anyone that face-to-face. Someone would ask me how I was doing, and I would grit my teeth and say “fine” and suffer in silence.
  • There’s something about the Internet that makes it easy to bare your soul. When your friend asks, “how are you?” and you’re having a terrible day, it’s very difficult to unload your heavy heart on someone you’re meeting at the coffee shop, or over playgroup. Part of it is stoicism, and part of it is simply that it’s not socially acceptable to say you feel like death from the sleep deprivation and you’re afraid you’re going to hurt your baby if she doesn’t sleep more than two hours in a row. Mothering doesn’t lend itself to the long, far-reaching and soul-searching conversations I remember from the pubs in my less encumbered years.
  • I’m fundamentally shy. I’m not so great at making new friends. But the Internet facilitates that relationship-building by taking a lot of the pressure off. The online interface gives you courage, so you are braver about exposing yourself and your foibles and your deepest secrets than you might be sitting on a bench at the park. The face that you present through your blog is maybe a little bit more brave than the you at the park. You have a moment to organize your thoughts, so you can almost sound like a rational person, and on a really good day, even string a few deep thoughts together in a row.
  • As a blogger, you can choose to be completely anonymous and use pseudonyms for yourself and your kids, or you can do like my friend Ann here and use your name in the domain title, or you can choose some combination that you’re comfortable with.
  • Blogging is about connecting with other people, but in a way I never could while pushing our kids on the swings side-by-side at the park.
  • It lets you forge connections with like-minded souls whom you might not otherwise meet in other circumstances, given cultural or geographic or even temporal distances. Blogging crosses boundaries, both social and geographic.
  • So a blog is a kind of an online diary, crossed with a forum, which becomes a community. As a matter of fact, blogging is a natural evolution from the communities created by and for mothers on bulletin boards like babycentre and iVillage. For years now, web-savvy moms have been congregating online in these virtual communities to share information and advice when traditional media like the glossy parenting magazines have either failed them or alienated them or simply failed to address the reality of their lives.
  • Myself, I was a long-time junkie on a board called IVF Connections, because my first son was conceived through in vitro fertilization, and through that bulletin board I met a bunch of moms virtually who became in-real-life friends – and many of them have blogs of their own now, too.
  • So blogging is like a continuation of that virtual community, but it’s centred around a particular person, and as the blogger you can control the conversation and how the story is told. It lends itself to a much more in-depth examination of issues and experiences, with an archive of all the conversations that have gone on before.
  • Now, anybody who has ever tried to have a conversation with a preschooler in the room knows you never really get more than three words strung together in a row, let alone have a meaningful conversation.
  • Having kids in your life makes time an incredibly valuable commodity, and when you finally manage to string together fifteen minutes for yourself, it might just be at the crack of dawn when you’re up anyway, even though nobody else in the house is awake. You can’t call your best friend at that time – at least, I can’t! – but you can boot up the laptop and surf around the blogosphere for a while.
  • Blogging is a perfect medium for the multi-tasking mother with a short attention span. You can write up a post in 15 minutes, maybe even at three in the morning while the baby is nursing and you’re typing with one hand, or you can read a few blogs and leave a comment or two. But it’s on your time, and your terms.
  • That’s one of the first things I loved – one of the things I continue to love – about blogging: that it could be “all about me.” Keeping it has been an indulgence, something I make time for without apology. It’s my “me time”, and I value for that. A chance to connect with others, but also to exercise my mental muscles. A chance to keep up my writing chops, but also to have a discourse at a higher level than, “And how exactly did the spaghetti get inside your brother’s pillow case?”
  • There’s a lot of cynicism in the blogosphere about “mommy blogs”. Personally, I don’t get that. Blogs give women like me, women who are maybe shy or maybe geographically isolated or maybe stuck in the house or in an office, a lifeline that they might not otherwise have.
  • You’ll hear a little bit more now from my friends here on some issues that we’re facing in the “momosphere”. But if you only remember one thing about what I’ve said here today, remember that blogging can be a great source of comfort, and of information, for mothers.
    Bloggers, blogging mothers, are having conversations, forging connections, and building communities.
  • When we blog, and by that I mean the writing and the reading and the commenting on blogs – when we blog, we are not alone.

Edited to ever so briefly add: it was amazing. I do not have enough superlatives to tell you how perfect the last two days have been. Expect much gushing and boasting and heaping of affection on my co-panelists, the cool bloggers I finally met in person, the outstanding hospitality, the adorable toddlers, the surprise guests, the shopping…. AMAZING!!!!!!!

Here we go!!

By the time you read this, I’ll probably have already picked up the rental car and my road-trip buddy Andrea to head out for our Great Toronto Adventure.

I can’t believe the amount of excitement we’ve packed into less than 24 hours. Ann, Jen, Andrea, Marla and I will be doing our panel discussion at the Motherlode conference from 5 pm to 7 pm. We’ve been getting some great buzz – check out the poster! Of all the presentations going on, that’s US listed right there in the second slot! – and I think it will be a blast.

But that’s only the beginning of the weekend. We’ll be heading over for a soiree at Jen’s place, and then crashing at Marla’s place for the night. (You really should go over and read Marla’s welcome/warning post. I can hardly wait to finally meet her in person!) There has also been promises of shopping, lattes, and breakfast at a funky local diner. And we will cap off our whirlwind tour by driving madly back to Ottawa in time to tuck our respective babes into bed on Saturday night. (Don’t expect much from me on Sunday!)

Wish us luck! Expect locquacious and lovingly detailed updates next week…

Pregnant thoughts

I don’t know about you, but I got really, really tired of seeing that picture of a pregnant Brittney Spears wearing a T-shirt that says, “I’ve got the golden ticket” with an arrow pointing to her belly. Then again, maybe I’m just bitter because I couldn’t pull that t-shirt over my leg on my skinniest day.

It got me thinking, though. If I were a maternity-wear designer, here’s what I would print on my fabulous, brightly-coloured and roomy-without-being-tentlike pregnancy t-shirts:

You’d be cranky too, if you spent all day and night
building ears and eyes and elbows.
If pregnancy were a book
they would cut the last two chapters.
(Nora Ephron)
Life is tough enough without having someone
kick you from the inside.
(Rita Rudner)
By far the most common craving of pregnant women
is not to be pregnant.
(Phyllis Diller)
Hey, are you going to eat that?

You can play along, too. Or, how about this one? Not too long ago Marla, the Oracle of the Arcane Corners of the Interweb, sent me this link to the collective names of just about every animal on the planet. Did you know, for example, that a group of magpies is called a tiding? Or that a group of geese in flight is called a skein? And I’ve always loved the idea of an ‘unkindness’ of ravens.
It begs the question: what do you call a group of bloggers?

I’ve gone international! Now appearing in… Florida?

You’re probably going to laugh at this. You’re going to roll your eyes, and you’re going to try not to laugh at with me, but you’re not going to be able to help yourself.

Guess which newspaper I’m in today?
Give up? The Tampa (!!) Tribune!

Guess which section?
The food (!!) section.

Guess why?
C’mon, guess!
Why, candy swap, of course. It makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it?

Last week, a reporter from the Tampa Tribune was thinking about doing an article on candy swaps, and he came across my posts about the candy swap hosted by Andrea earlier this year. He interviewed both Andrea and I, and we’re featured in his article, “Gimme Some Sugar“, that appears today. Fun, eh? It’s not in the online edition, but the paper edition may feature this picture of Tristan and Simon, opening my candy swap bounty from Bethany, that’s in the original post. (I tried to copy the photo here, but after two hours – grrrr! – of fighting with Blogger Beta, I give up!)

Maybe it was my Canadian accent, but somehow he transcribed my candy beneficiary Nancy as Melissa. Sorry, Nancy, I really do know your name – honest!!

The interview was fun, as the writer and I compared childhood notes on such favourites as Pop Rocks, Bottle Caps and Fun Dips. But did you know they don’t have Mackintosh Toffee in Florida? Scandalous! Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? Anyway, the writer was very entertained by the idea of the very satisfying ritual of thwacking your Mack on the table to break it into bite-sized pieces of caramelly joy.

Speaking of childhood fun, please pardon the non-sequiter but I have to tell you about the Christmas present I bought for the boys yesterday online. Shhh!

It’s from Cranium, the company that makes Cadoo and Balloon Lagoon and our favourite, Hullabaloo. It’s called Super Fort: a 73-piece fort building kit. How cool is that? It comes with foam tubes – some rigid, some bendy – for building the structure, and magnetic connectors. It also has a handful of colourful cloth panels for walls, floors and ceilings, and clips to afix them. It’s all designed for little hands, ages four and up. I can hardly wait until Christmas to see them open it up!! I love that feeling, when you know you’ve found a perfect gift. The Canadian Toy Testing Council agrees – they gave it their highest rating. And best of all? No batteries and no volume switch!

Heck, I guess this resolves the two-beds or bunk-beds question. We’ll just throw a couple of pillows and blankets in with the box, and we’ll be golden!

Dear Frito Lay Company,

I am writing to you today to address some concerns I have with your marketing techniques, and with a possible violation of my personal privacy.

How did you know? Are you watching me? Do I consume so many of your products that you are now tailoring your product releases to me personally?

I am a lifelong connosieur of potato chips, and you obviously know I love barbequed potato chips the most of all. Back in 2001, when I was pregnant with my first son, you came out with an Old Fashioned BBQ flavour – and it was good. Very, very good. I actually called my brother, my childhood companion in the consumption of endless bowls of barbequed chips to share the news, and he went out that very day and got some for himself. After the dry years in the early 1990s when you tried to pass off the hip new ‘mesquite’ movement in lieu of real barbeque flavour, the Old Fashioned BBQ were a godsend. And I’m sure I gained an extra 10 lbs during that pregnancy, simply by virtue of those heavenly chips.

Strangely, though, they disappeared shortly after my son was born. In fact, the last bag I had was the treat my husband brought to me in the hospital after my son’s delivery, come to think of it. In place of the Old Fashioned BBQ chips, you came out with a modified barbeque flavour, and the barbeque pendulum came to rest somewhere between the mesquite flavour of the 1990s and the beloved BBQ spice of my youth. While I still enjoyed an occasional Ruffled Barbeque chip, the traces of mesquite flavouring assured that I enjoyed the idea of the barbequed chips more than I enjoyed the actual chips.

And then, when I was pregnant with my second son, for a few glorious months I could find the Old Fashioned BBQ chips again. I bought extra bags when I stumbled across them, hoarding them in the pantry and in my desk drawer, rationing and savouring each chip. And again, without warning, they disappeared, leaving me to smack my salty lips and chew leftover barbeque spice out from under my fingernails with longing.

Imagine my delight, then, to recently discover a cardboard display of – yes, miraculously – single-serving bags of Old Fashioned BBQ chips in Shoppers Drug Mart last month. I approached the display like an oasis in the desert, expecting them to waver and melt away upon my approach, leaving me to weep in the snack food and personal toiletries aisle. But, to my delight, they were real, and they were very, very good.

In fact, they are so good that I find myself thinking about them constantly. I plan my day around detours that might take me to the vicinity of one of the two locations in the entire city of Ottawa where I have found a cache of them. I think of them at night. I make deals with myself, that I will eat nothing but salad and fruit and the occasional rice cake for an entire day, if I allow myself the salty satisfaction of a bag of BBQ delight for my afternoon snack.

I would like to know how exactly you know I am pregnant again. Do you have market analysts who monitor these types of trends? Do I contribute that meaningfully to your corporate profits?

In researching your company for this letter, I have become even more deeply suspicious. I looked on your corporate website and was perplexed to find that it makes no mention of Old Fashioned BBQ flavour, nor is the flavour mentioned on your parent company’s website. They don’t really exist!

I demand a response to this issue. Is there a conspiracy of BBQ chip production going on? Are you in some sort of marketing alliance with the makers of extra-large maternity clothing?

And could you send me some coupons or free samples? You know, for the baby.

Yours in savoury addiction,

Mixed messages

I’m having a good couple of days. Pardon my enthusiasm, but I had to update you on Tristan’s school foibles.

You’ll remember a couple of weeks ago, we got called in for a parent-teacher confab after a mere eight days of school, causing me to believe we should perhaps stop saving for Tristan’s education and instead start saving for bail money.

Yesterday, we got the first ‘goal worksheet’ back in Tristan’s communication folder (because he alternates between a French and an English teacher, he hasn’t been back with the other teacher since the week of our conference.) Five goals, five happy faces for five goals achieved. Go Tristan!

And from the department of mixed messages, we also got a lovely little certificate signed by the principal saying Tristan was “Star of the Week” for October 2 through 5. I understand from our daycare provider, who has older children at the school, that this is an honour bestowed upon a student by having the certificate hang in the hallway outside the principal’s office for a week, then sent home to the child’s beaming parents. I have no idea of the significance of this honour, whether he was nominated by a panel of his peers, or whether he will be able to add it to his curiculum vitae some day, but Tristan was plenty proud and so am I.

And speaking of honours, one of you lovely peeps have nominated me (or rather, nominated blog) for a Canadian Blog Award again this year. I am in great company, with nominating nods – so far – to many of my favourites, including Beanie Baby, MUBAR, Martinis for Milk, Breadcrumbs in the Butter, Bub and Pie, and a peek inside the fishbowl. I’m honoured and touched by your nominations – thanks!