Gerry Dee’s Tour: You Gotta See It!

About a year ago, I saw my first stand-up comedy show in Las Vegas and I loved it.   To celebrate my birthday, I asked my husband to forgo the fancy dinner out and take me to the local comedy club. We still did the dinner, courtesy of my brother and his wife, and the four of us made our way to the 11 pm show at Absolute Comedy.

Seeing live performances, be it Shakespeare in the park, a big-budget flashy musical or a lone comic standing at a mic, is electrifying. The performers have logged many hours honing their craft and their moment of truth is when they take the stage.

When it feels off, like the marks are missed or cadence wavers, my stomach usually knots and I feel a mixture of anxiety, embarrassment and disappointment for the performers. But with that, I always feel admiration. They put themselves out there to be judged, albeit harshly when the price of a ticket is attached, and I simply don’t have the chutzpah to do that.

But last night, the four of us went to see homegrown comedian, challenger on Last Comic Standing and star of his own eponymous CBC show, Gerry Dee and everything clicked.

Gerry Dee took the stage at historic Massey Hall and after being introduced by his solid opener Graham Chinden, his 90-minute set was an enjoyable ride!

Dee’s bits are taken from his life as a former teacher, dad to three young children and husband to a levelheaded, east coaster who is the perfect yin to his yang.

His banter is relatable; relationships are universal and if you’re not a parent, you’ve been a kid.

When you see a consummate performer like Dee, whose polished routine fails to falter, the energy in the room becomes exhilarating. A good performance brings about a high for the audience, and in the case of last night with 2,600 people united by laughter the room buzzed.

It’s no wonder it feels so good to experience a release of energy through laughter. The Mayo Clinic sites the short-term benefits as endorphin enriching, stress reducing and muscle relaxing. Need proof? The elevated people exiting from the crowded theatre did so with nary a kerfuffle.

Laughing Canadians = very gracious folk.

Gerry Dee is on a national tour and you’ve gotta see it!  Check if he’s coming to your city by clicking here.

And I leave you with my favourite bit from the night.

Joust About An Unbelievable Good Time!

imgres-2Why is being a tourist in your own city something that never tops the “list of things to do”?  Just last week I read Amy from Joey and the Owl is moving from New York City to the suburbs, and in her farewell post to NYC she commented how few tourist attractions in the city she’d actually been to.  It made me pause to reflect on the many incredible sites and attractions that Toronto has to offer, practically on my doorstep.  I do make an effort to visit the museums and art galleries, and I have a theatre subscription to both Mirvish Productions and The Young People Theatre, but there are so many places I’ve left undiscovered.

Like, Medieval Times.

Last week Carol and I, along with our families, ten of us in total, trekked through the congested streets of downtown Toronto in frigid arctic temperatures to arrive at the Exhibition Place, home to Medieval Times.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Visit Medieval Times

  1. Betcha Didn’t Know That!

While Medieval Times is simply a fun way to spend time together as a family, it’s also educational, and arguably much more enjoyable than just reading about the Dark Ages.  Servers are aptly referred to as serfs or wenches.  There are no french fries or burgers, only fare that would be typical of a gluttonous medieval feast.  The castle is dark and the lighting used is minimal to replicate the primitive castles of the era, but as Carol’s young son pointed out me, luckily this castle has heat.

  1. Is It Real?

Where you sit at Medieval Times matters, unlike a traditional theatre.  Each seating area represents a knight, and it’s your duty as the king’s guests to cheer on your knight to victory as he risks life and limb in this tournament of heraldry.

Luckily for us, we were seated in the front row and had a clear view of all the action.  Seating is based on first come, first serve unless you’ve chosen to enhance your experience and for a fee.  Carol and I spent some time surveying the various levels and with all seating areas, the view is clear and the knights do make a considerable effort to engage the crowd regardless of position.

Our six boys were sitting at the edge of the seats for the entire spectacle.  Wearing their crowns, and waving their black and white flag they cheered for our knight, who impressively captured their attention, Carol’s heart (until her son stole her intended flower), and several rounds of the tournament.  imgres

It was during the car ride home that my boys peppered us with questions, namely, “was it real?”.  I love that they are young enough to be swept away by the magic of theatre and make believe.  I think it added to the overall awe of performance and how much we enjoyed it.  I explained to the boys it’s just like a play with actors who practice, and many behind the stage hands that make the experience come to life.  An interactive show like this is a good introduction to live theatre if you have a child who isn’t likely to sit through a lengthy play with minimal action.

  1. A Feast Not Only For The Eyes!

I imagine that one doesn’t go to Medieval Times solely for the food, but it’s worth noting that while the fare isn’t going to top any “best of” lists, it’s tasty enough and was a hit with the kids.  Garlic bread and a tomato bisque were followed by a half roasted chicken with spare ribs and a potato wedge – all served warm and eaten without utensils.  My boys rejoiced!  I have to point out that while the food may not be winning any awards the service does.  Guests’ dietary restrictions are readily accommodated, like our nut allergies.  The vegetarian dish, 3-bean stew with fire roasted tomato and brown rice, was served to 2 of our party and while they ate with spoons, they seemed to enjoy it just the same.  Be sure to ask for a take-out container to take home your left overs!

Halal meals are available upon request.

  1.  It’s Joust About Unbelievable!

The jousting tournament was actually quite riveting and within minutes, Carol and I found ourselves cheering alongside our boys.  The jousting lances splinter when they’re clashed and the swords spark with each cross, eliciting lots of excited squeals.  On select days in April your child can experience Knight Training where they can learn first-hand how treacherous life as knight can be and how dangerous the weapons truly are.  All Knights-in-Training will be knighted by King Carltos in a special ceremony.  Reserve your space here.

  1.  Because It’s Fun!

Let’s put aside all the lessons in history and theatre for a moment, and dwell on perhaps the most surprising for me.  Medieval Times is fun!  It’s really fun!  How liberating it was to not only allow but encourage my rowdy group of boys to scream, cheer and boo!

And because I am a mom, and this is something that all moms want to know, I will share that the restrooms were plenty and clean.  And because I am a mom, and this is something that all moms want to know, there are several gifts and treasures to be purchased before, during and after the show – plan accordingly.

Be sure to visit the Medieval Times website for discount codes, birthday specials, and a complete overview of the show with information about medieval life and times.

Little Lords and Ladies Medieval Reading List 

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Medieval Jousts and Tournaments by John Green

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Medieval Castle Sticker Picture by A.G. Smith

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Knights and Castles by Rachel Firth

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Sticker Dressing Knights by Helen Davis

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You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Knight by Fiona Macdonald

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Medieval Times for hosting all 10 of us!  We had a wonderful time and will be back!  Readers, please note that while we received our tickets complimentary, the views expressed in this blog post are our own.

Dining Out? Dine Healthy with Zomato

zomatoThis week, I had the pleasure of meeting Jimena Duran from Zomato, a new digital presence in the Toronto dining scene.  She walked me through some of the features of the site while I sipped a latte and tried to control my mouth-watering reactions to the restaurant reviews she highlighted.  I left our meeting buzzing with caffeine and enthusiasm for the foodie network, and eager to explore its offerings.

Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant discovery platform and social food network for foodies.   The staff for each city in which Zomato operates (currently 113 worldwide) go in person to each and every restaurant to collect menus, verify opening hours, and collect all the pertinent information for each restaurant, which gets uploaded to their database.

Then Zomato users take their turn.  You can browse the website or download the Zomato app to choose a place to dine out based on neighbourhood, cuisine or establishment.  Other users rate and review restaurants, and you can follow users whose reviews resonate with you.  Once you create a profile, you can publish reviews of the places you have dined, create a record of your food journey by tagging the places you’ve been to, and bookmark the places to like to check out next.

And one of the handy dandy collections is Healthy Eating.  So you can have your (tasty rice) cake and eat it, too.

Look us up!  4mothers1blog has a profile on Zomato and we’ll be adding our reviews too.

Snakes and Lattes: Board Game Cafe

logo-lattes-blackWhen we were getting to know each other, a past boyfriend asked me what I liked to do for fun when I was a girl.  The idea I think was this information could be a window into our who we are now, as adults.  He said he liked to draw (which I did not like to do).  I also remember that I did not like playing with dolls, or pretend house, dress-up, or building.  My repertoire of fun was limited:  I liked to read, do puzzles, and play games.

So it surprised me that it was not until last year that I learned of Snakes and Lattes, which claims to be North America’s first board game cafe.  It’s a place where, for a $5 cover, you can sit and play games until the cows come home.  All the gaming while, you can have coffee/tea and snacks, or a casual meal, delivered to your playing table.

The main appeal of the cafe, of course, are the games.  We’re going leaps and bounds beyond Monopoly and Battleship here, although of course the tried and true are here and popular enough.  There are hundreds and hundreds of games, from traditional favourites to new weird and wonderful that neither of us have ever heard of.  When the options start to overwhelm, you can consult a Game Guru, aka an employee who knows a strange lot about the bazillion games on offer and will guide you to choosing something that you’ll like.

One of the nicest things about Snakes and Lattes is that it appeals to all generations.  I have a friend who is a big more of a board gamer than I am, and this cafe is for her both a destination on date night and for her children for (the whole of) a Sunday afternoon.  You gotta love the democracy of a good game.

I also love – and here my biases are pretty well-defined – that these games are played without screens and with other people and not in a basement.  It’s almost quaint, the idea of a board game, which for me is extra reason to applaud how successful this cafe has become.

Another thing about this place, it’s open like all the time during the week – an ungodly 7am on weekdays (what is it, a bakery?) until “late”.  Weekends commence at a more normal 11am until “late”.

Predictably they sell games too, although the real appeal is getting to play games in a public place with other people willing to do the same thing – kind of like an adult opportunity for parallel play.  It’s a friendly place, with a nice vibe, and if anything can take the possibly ever so slightly nerdy edge off of board games, this is it.

ps.  If you have not tried it, and like politically very wrong humour that targets everyone, Cards Against Humanity is a memorable choice , and good for a group, especially if there is wine.  Or tequila.

pps.  Snakes and Lattes did not ask me to write this and I got no free games out of it.  Darn.

Tequila Tasting in Toronto

It never fails to amaze me the many unique opportunities and experiences Toronto has to offer. There are the obvious: the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the many orchestras, ballets and theatres, to name a few. It’s the hidden gems that continue to inspire me, delight me, educate me and make me thankful to be living in such a dynamic, colourful, and culturally diverse city.

El Caballito is one of these hidden gems. How does a tequila and tacos cantina qualify? First off, El Caballito, located in the heart of the entertainment district, is not just another tourist trap. The robust and lively atmosphere, with dimmed lighting and music pumping, instantly transports you from the hustle and bustle of traditional downtown Toronto to the vibrant streets of Mexico City. The place oozes authenticity and Manny Contreras will attest to its street cred, Certified Master Tequilier and bar manager, was born and raised in Mexico City.

El Caballito offers patrons more than just incredible Mexican cuisine. Whether you’re a scotch aficionado, a wine sipper with penchant for Merlot or a lover of craft beer, after some time in the private tequila tasting room with Manny, you’ll leave El Caballito at the very least with an appreciation for the art of tequila and quite possibly a new affection for the spirit.

Manny Contreras himself is a hidden gem. There are less than one thousand tequiliers working in North America and Manny is one of only two working in Canada after years honing his taste buds in Mexico City. He began at the age of 13 working behind his father’s bar and he is truly steeped in the tradition of tequila.

“You need to know everything about each tequila before you can sell it,” his father told him. Manny sipped from each bottle, discerning the various flavours before he had his first full glass at the age of 21. Manny’s interest in his country’s national drink was more than just a means to make money; it became a passion that propelled him to enroll in a five-year course to become a Certified Master Tequilier.

Tucked away in a room lined with his collection of tequila, that includes everything from Jose Cuervo to Clase Azul, the candle light flickers on the brick wall and the scene is set.

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Manny explains with vivid detail how tequila evolved from being the drink of the peasants to the kings and cycled back again to the peasants. Folklore, European invasions, wars, and big corporations have all had a hand in transforming tequila from pulque (fermented sap from the agave plant) to what we know it to be today.

“You have to be ready to really taste the tequila. You have to take your time with it. Let it be still in your mouth.” Manny guided us through our tasting with patience while describing the proper way to enjoy tequila. Drinking tequila is somewhat analogous to the vision that I have of the quintessential Latin lover.

There is much fore play: rolling it around in your mouth, breathing in the heady sensations, allowing the first sips to cleanse and prepare the palate.

There is much sweetness and intensity: the lightest in colour the blanco is young, and bites the tongue, while the darker anjeo is aged and has a sweeter, lasting flavour.

There is also the morning after that can leave one groggy and remorseful but Manny maintains it’s not likely if you savor the experience of a fine tequila instead of absently shooting it back in a flurry of debauchery.

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If you’re looking to experience something truly unique, even if you think you hate tequila because of a wasted night in Mexico on your 18th birthday, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.   Book an evening with Manny. He offers a variety of tasting experiences that are suited to all tastes and budgets.

Manny’s Picks

All Time Favourite: Don Julio 1942

Best Value: Tromba

Under-The-Radar: Casa Amigos

For Deep Pockets: Clase Azul

Explore Toronto: Eco-Art-Fest @Todmorden Mills

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Last week, with intentions to squeeze every last bit of summer fun out of what remained of the summer days, Carol, Nathalie and I took our boys to explore no. 9’s Eco-Art Fest.

Just off Pottery Road in the Don Valley, is a tucked-away enclave sheltered by a canopy of trees where art and green collide. Andrew Davies, Executive Director, is a man with a vision. Having spent years in New York City working for the Museum of Modern Art in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Davies became enamoured with the emerging art scene that seemed to couple art and social consciousness so seamlessly. Upon his return to Toronto, he learned about the Evergreen Brick Works, at that time in its planning stages, and envisioned a place where art and the environment could not only flourish but also serve to inspire people to live more sustainable lives.

Drawing on his extensive art and architecture background Davies went on to found no. 9. It is an arts organization that uses art and design to bring awareness to environmental concerns through school and community based programs. Earlier this summer when I explored the Brick Works with my boys we were able to view My Sustainable City, a collaboration between no.9 and the Toronto District School Board that is on exhibit at Brick Works until September 23.

While My Sustainable City is an example of a school program, Eco-Art-Fest is an outdoor summer-long art festival held at Todmorden Mills until September 21 for the entire community to enjoy.  imgres

Davies and his staff of artisans offer daily programs for children. Our boys got their hands dirty throwing clay and enjoyed a water colour painting workshop where they learned about endangered animals and just how interrelated the creatures in our environment really is. We ended our morning activities with a guided tour of the various outdoor art installations by celebrated artists Dean Baldwin, Nicole Dextras, John Dickson, Sean Martindale, Ferruccio Sardella, Penelope Stewart, John Loerchner and Laura Mendes.

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It was an enriching opportunity to learn how art is not just paint, paper and brush strokes. Art can be just as much about aesthetic and expression as a social message. In particular my boys enjoyed Sean Martindale’s installation of the word HISTORIES created from the earth, and depending on perspective history could be rising up from the ground or buried.

Saturday nights offer live music after 5 pm, delicious artisanal charcuterie boards that are works of art in themselves, and organic beer and wine all under the lights of Helliwell’s.

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Nearly four hours passed before I looked at my watch.   The green space combined with the art, and the easy-going, light-hearted atmosphere was enough to make me forget that I was in the city, less than a few minutes drive to the centre and its hustle and bustle. It was four hours of appreciating art in many forms, learning about our environment and most importantly connecting with each other.

Time is running out to experience the wonder of Eco-Art-Fest this summer. The festival ends on September 21 but will return next year. To learn more or to register for the activities and tours please visit Eco-Art-Fest.

Explore: Evergreen Brick Works

IMG_4844Years ago my weekends were peppered with city-dweller activities: markets, neighbour explorations, festivals and art appreciation but then a string of pregnancies and little babies kept me nestled (chained) in my neighbourhood bubble venturing only outside to visit the zoo.  My youngest is now almost 4 (I still can’t believe it!) and for the past year, we’ve really been able to enjoy the city and all that it has to offer without the stress of strollers, naps and diapers.

It’s a whole new world!

Recently we explored an urban oasis: Evergreen Brick Works.

The Brick Works, as locals affectionately call it, was the Don Valley Brick Works from 1889 to 1984 and many of Canada’s preeminent buildings are constructed of bricks made from this site.  From 1984 until the early 2000s, the Brick Works deteriorated.  Piles of rubble and crumbling buildings are what most people saw when they drove past along Bayview Avenue, with the exception of a group of creative innovators who saw the potential to transform the site into a not-for-profit destination celebrating nature, culture and community.

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The old buildings mesmerized the boys.  They imagined themselves heating clay in the giant kilns to make bricks.  They saw the old tracks used to transport the tons of coal from the various buildings.  We talked about the working conditions: how loud it must have been and oppressively hot from the steam, the kilns (and the humid Toronto summers) and how it probably wasn’t that safe in the early years.

Exploring the kiln building was a favourite but not only because of its historical significance.  The walls are lined with an evocative gallery displaying artistic photography and, perhaps the highlight for me; it is where The Sustainable City installation is currently on display. City school teams have imagined and created a future Toronto that encompasses the core values of Evergreen: nature, community and culture.  Not only are the projects incredible but also they are inspiring!  To think that our city is home to such innovators . . . lucky for us!

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There is a lot to see and do at the Brick Works.  Every day people explore the extensive trails where local wildlife abounds!

The weekdays are quieter but the weekends are chock-full of activities including an impressive farmer’s market, pottery demonstrations, bike rentals, a flea market and the children’s garden.  The Brick Works hosts seminars on the weekends that appeal to bikers, gardeners, wild life enthusiasts and artists.

Wednesday evenings (from July 2- August 6) enjoy pizza from Pizzeria Libretto from the outdoor wood-fired oven (to.die.for.) and a small seasonal salad for $3.

It’s summer and there is no shortage of activities in Toronto.  There is a reason it’s called The Living City, so get out there and live!

 

 

Crafting with Kids: Pour Painting

008A new commitment means my mother hasn’t been able to come over for her weekly visits; instead she’s been offering weekly day visits and a sleepover to my youngest. This has opened up a window of opportunity for the bigger boys and me to do some things that aren’t so well suited to toddlers, and we actually have time to do them because some extra-curriculars have waned.

Without further ado, we tried pour painting. There should be a better name for this, there must be and I’m too encased in my own little cave to know.  Pour painting is so… literal.  Because the method is as simple as this:

1. Take a canvas (or sturdy piece of cardboard) and prime the surface (including the sides) with a coat of paint. (Try to do next steps while primer is still wet.)

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2. Pour or squeeze pools of paint (we used acrylics) onto the paint surface.  We did this two ways:  first, pouring little pools of paint hither and thither and then tilting the canvas in various directions to let the paint run; and second, pouring multiple colours of paint in the centre of the canvas over and over until it spilled off the edges.

3. Repeat step 2 as many times as needed until the surface is completely covered with paint.  (I was doing this project alongside the kids so didn’t take pictures during the process, but here’s more detail and instruction from the Housing a Forest.)

And that’s it! It’s hard to go wrong, and you’ll end up with a painting that’s colourful and evokative.

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A couple of notes… our paint cracked a bit as it dried where the colours met each other. I’m not sure how to avoid this and was a bit disappointed at first, but I think the paintings still work overall.

Also, we used a lot of paint. Not nearly as much as I bought, mind you, but the paint was very thick and required more than a day to dry. The canvas could handle this easily but if you’re using another surface, it really needs to be sturdy for this project. I also used cardboard under the canvasses to capture the paint that will spill off as regular paper will get wet and tear.

I have a few much bigger canvasses and think this project would be beautiful for decorating a wall; I can also imagine a few collected together. Also, doing the pour painting over an object, such as an inverted clay pot, is another fun project with beautiful results, so it’s on our spring list too (maybe to use as a special holder for a special seed).

And if you really want to be inspired by the possibilities of pour painting, check Holton Rower’s Tall Painting:

Riding in Helicopters

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I’m generally suspicious of glitz.  I strive for things and people in my life that feel authentic and down-to-earth.  So it was a surprise to me to find myself clicking to buy a helicopter ride for my son.  A helicopter ride!  How not down-to-earth can you be?

A few things led me to it.  A five year old who had a birthday coming and who sometimes seemed under his older brother’s shadow.  A mother’s birthday in the same month, and for whom it is difficult to gift much.  The fact that I had never flown in a helicopter before.  And let’s not forget, what planted the seed in the first place – the Groupon that displayed itself in my inbox at the right time.

So I barreled forward and bought a helicopter ride for three for my mom, my son and me.  We did it last weekend.  I am here to report that it was a lot of fun and to give details.

The helicopter rides fly out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.  Maybe one day you’ll be able to walk there, but for now you need to take their ferry, which runs every 15 minutes and is strangely short (120 metres).  You have to print out the convoluted directions to get to the helicopter office because it’s not signed, but it’s do-able.  They were running on time, and two friendly attendants greeted us and told us what to do (and what not to do – no pictures outside the helicopter, for eg.).  The office staff were also very reassuring and flexible when I worried we would be late (when I booked 7 weeks ago, I didn’t know there would be a marathon that would grind downtown traffic to a halt) – I was impressed with the service.

We were then ushered us to a waiting area, also known as a bench on some grass, and then to the helicopter.  The adults hunched down – the propellers are so high that they’d never hit us, but instinctively one stoops near huge swinging blades.  The chopper was small!  Just enough space for the pilot, a front passenger and two passengers behind.  Purses and camera bags not allowed due to limited space.

We boarded quickly and were given headsets, just like in the movies.  I think they’re partly because being on a helicopter is loud.  But it’s for talking too, and became even more fun when we were told that the pilot would change to a different frequency so that he could actually do his job, leaving the three of us to chatter away among ourselves.  And look official.

Lift off was a sensation – literally.  Stomach-turning, in a good thrill way, similar to take-off in a plane, but stronger, because the helicopter is so much smaller.  We flew up to and slightly above the CN Tower (a very tall building), and around the downtown core.  We turned once, quite dramatically, we all pitched to one side – I was comfortable, my son enjoyed it, and my mother said she clung to the helicopter in the opposite direction.

Promotional materials say the flight is ten minutes, but my mother had the wherewithal to actually time our flight – I was too busy squeeing and taking pictures – we were in the air for just five minutes, so I suppose the remaining time is reserved for getting on and off and settling in.  I’d have loved a longer flight, but there were benefits to it being brief.  There was no chance of the experience getting stale – we all wanted more when we got off.  But it was also long enough to sit back and feel it.  There was a real intimacy to flying in such a small vessel – there was so little barrier between us and the air outside, and we could see so much with the expanses of windows, which was very different from flying in a plane.

Some logistics:  the ferry ride is awfully short, and the wait is only supposed to be 15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer.  There is nothing to do while waiting, and there’s a food bar somewhere in the airport, but mostly it’s fairly dreary while you wait.  If you’re going with younger children, it might be nice to bring a book or activity while they wait.  These things might come in handy while you’re waiting for the chopper ride too.  Remember, this isn’t Centre Island.  There are no open spaces, no play structures, no restaurants.  It’s an airport, and not an interesting one at that.  There are some planes in the hangar next door, but that only went so far with our kid.

Also, it’s pricey.  Ours was the least expensive tour, and costs $100/person (no discount for little people or seniors).  Enter the Groupon, which brought the cost for three down to $169 – so it is worth waiting for these, and I’ve seen another one featured since I bought mine in the summer.

We won’t be doing it again any time soon (at least not for this son!).  But it was a fun splurge, unlike anything we’ve done, and I’m glad we went for it.  I’m pretty sure my little guy is too.

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Date Night Gone Awry

I was really hoping to write about a new-ish restaurant in the city that my husband and I went to in celebration of our ninth wedding anniversary.  What I can tell you is that tucked-away, much buzzed about Patria is artfully designed.  The menu, at a glance looks delicious, as did the few plates that passed by our intimate table for two.

However I cannot write about what we ordered nor if the food critics are right in dubbing this tapas bar one of Toronto’s Best Restaurants of 2013.  I cannot tell you, because our ninth anniversary came and went and nary a morsel of food was consumed at Patria.

Let me start off my story by stressing that while summer vacation may be the days of folly and freedom for youngsters, it is for this stay-at-home mom, two months of intense togetherness that has me praying for bouts of dysentery* just so I can seek a few moments of privacy from my three boys.

Who am I kidding?  They’d follow me in there too. 

The day of our anniversary, the babysitter arrived early with ample time for me to shower, shave my legs and tame my tresses.  Basically, I went from looking like this:

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(With some creative liscence) To this:

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A cab picked me up from my front door and like Cinderella, I was shuttled off to the ball.  The whining, complaining, and incessant bickering faded in the review mirror.  Even the grueling stop and go traffic along Avenue Road couldn’t dampen my spirits. 

I wanted to lean out of the rolled-down window, hair blowing in the breeze and call to the babysitter with a sinister sneer, “You’ve been duped!  They are not the loveable boys of school days.  These beasts are feral!  These boys are urchins!  These boys will wear you down, defeat you, make your ears beg for quiet!”

As the cab slowly navigated the downtown streets, I excitedly texted my husband that soon we’d be eating – in a restaurant!  With cutlery!  Where chicken fingers are a thing of lore!

I was giddy.  Like a parolee, I was relishing in the sights of the city.  When was this skyscraper finally completed?  What kind of art is that new installation?  When did men in suits start wearing full beards?

Upon entering Patria, our hostess lead us to our table and we followed behind like obedient school children relieved to finally have some time alone.  Just as my husband’s knees bent to sink into his chair, his iPhone buzzed to life. 

A glance at the screen revealed a call from the babysitter.

She never calls his phone.

He answered it, and I can immediately tell from the way he casually walked away from the table, from me, that this wasn’t good news.

Back in the cab, it no longer feels like a shiny chariot but rather a jalopy with cracked vinyl seats, rank with fetid air.  The inching traffic nothing but a taunt.

He’s doing great mom!  We hope to have his thumb dislodged as soon as the fire department get here.”  The kind paramedic, used to placating frantic mothers on the verge of tears, said calmly into the phone.

My youngest son was stuck.  His tiny thumb had somehow managed to wedge itself tightly into the hinge of the glass shower door, thereby entrapping him on one side and his freshly scrubbed brother on the other side of the glass.

One frantic babysitter, one flummoxed neighbour and a host of EMS workers descended into our en suite washroom in attempt to free the compressed thumb.  Forty minutes later he was liberated with nothing more than a tiny gash and a throbbing digit.

After hours of soothing (the little guy, his empathic oldest brother and a devastated babysitter) my husband and I collapsed onto the couch with a bottle of wine.

Just over his shoulder I could see our wedding picture – the young, fresh faces smiling naively into the camera. 

We couldn’t help but laugh.  Those people had no clue, no clue at all what kind of maelstrom was lying in wait.

Once the last drop of wine was consumed, we tip-toed up the stairs to check on our feral little urchins and to get some much needed rest, because in this house the only certainty of tomorrow is that it will leave me exhausted.

 

*Okay, maybe not.  But you get the idea.

pictures courtesy of: The Inklings of Life and Emphasis Added