Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Minetters

Early one morning last week I found Minette upstairs, pretending she's not about to get up to shenanigans, as well as basically pretending the rest of us living in the house don't exist.

In short: the usual.

She's a cat's cat. One of those who allows her people (gah, the dirty beings we are!) to share her space as we are necessary cohabitants because we enable her to function.

In short, she puts up with us because we're her staff.

Definitely a cat's cat.

And here I find her very visibly waiting for me to walk out of the room, because the more still she is, the less likely I'll realize she's contemplating drinking from the pint glass on my nightstand—a habit that drives Mr Lannis bugnuts, and causes him to put a tissue box over his own nightly water source even though we keep the bedroom door closed and cats out when we're sleeping.

Yeah, he's a touch... overzealous about the whole thing...

So here's Minetters, chilling, ignoring me, and yet hyper-aware of the fact that I'll probably clap my hands and make her take off at a sprint, interrupting her plans at any second.

Instead I snap a pic.

Because she's my cat. She's grumpy, and quiet, and anti-social, and clean, and everything you'd expect from a cat—except she's not a fan of being touched, so watch out (she's been known to draw blood from a well-intentioned pat on the head).

And as it's May, somewhere in the last month was her tenth birthday.

Yes, our grumpy girl is ten.

And one day, we won't be shooing her away from our drinks anymore.

Happy birthday, Minette. Enjoy.

(But don't tell Mr Lannis.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Mom Manifesto

[Note: This post was originally published under the title "The Commandments of Lannis" on The Mrs on June 7, 2011. And I still mean every word.] 

I. Don’t. Care.

No, seriously. I’ve come to realize lately — lately being within the last year and a half, give or take — that I. Don’t. Care.

About a lot of things. My life (read: sanity) depends on my lack of ability to contain concern for every little thing, or even more accurately: worry about what other people think.

Sorry to break it to you, folks. It’s not you, it’s me. Seriously. That’s not a line, either.

Not that I mean to take this post into a dark, brooding, philosophical realm or anything (because trust me, this stems from deep, deep in my psyche at this point), but I think you can all relate to this, on some level.

And so, I’ve decided to write a manifesto. Hopefully The Mrs won’t mind me using her space to proclaim myself... actually, I think she probably follows some of this manifesto’s ideals, too...

The Commandments of Not Caring:

I will not care what my children are wearing, provided they are warm, dry, comfortable and suitably dressed for the weather. So what if it’s on backwards and maybe inside out? How is the person standing behind them going to see the pirate on their shirt if it’s on properly?

I will not care if I shame other adults with my approachability; I will err on the side of teaching, and not on the side of ignorance. I will explain to my kids that everyone’s legs work differently, and that some people have to use wheelchairs, and it’s okay to ask how fast they can go, and to not ignore those on wheels by necessity — especially if it’s a funky hand bike built for speed. (In fact, all those with funky hand bikes should be approached to discuss speed simply by principle!)

I will not care what other parents think. As long as I am looking out for my child’s personal safety, and mental and physical well-being, I will not care if I look crazy in my flip flops, PJ pants, and tank top that shows my bra straps, as I hang upside-down on the monkey-bars at the park, showing my five-year-old how to hook his ankles into the bars. I am not too cool to get involved.

I will not care if I sound like I’m bugnuts, when I’m at the stoplight with the windows open, singing kids’ songs along to a CD at the top of my lungs, apparently alone, since no one can see my children shielded by tint. Yes, the lyrics to Bananaphone will forever be housed within my skull.

I will not care if my house is a mess, or the yard full of colourful clutter, so long as both are full of laughter, as well as toys, then my daily chores are done.

I will not care if something is torn, broken, spilled, marked, lost, or otherwise in shambles as long as no one is physically injured. I will remember that sometimes the solution to bruised feelings is lack of drama. (And it doesn’t hurt to have photos of favourite things to remember the way they used to be...)

I will not care if my child’s face is covered in food — okay, I will attempt to clean it, if I remember — but I won’t stress if we’re caught at WalMart before I realize I haven’t wiped jam off his chin. We’re lucky to be able to fill our bellies, and have much to be grateful for, regardless of how we appear to others.

I will not care if I’m in ratty sweats for the third day in a row and you pop by for a visit unannounced, nor will I send you away, because you’re here to see me, not my clothes, nor my messy kitchen. Besides, there’s always a spot clear for the teapot.

I will not care about opinions that hurt my self-esteem, or that of my children, and I will shelter them best I can from the aforementioned words. And my children will grow up knowing that just because you can do or say something doesn’t mean you should.

I will not care what the world thinks, as long as I am doing my best, and what I feel is best for my family. Nor will I explain my choices to every ignorant soul who crosses my path and feels they can parent better than I, especially those who have never cared for a child. (Anyone who thinks they are an expert when they have never stepped, sleepless, into the trenches needs to wade through their own weight in vomit before I do more than listen politely to their advice.)

I will not care, nor apologize, for doing my best, for trusting my judgement, or for listening to my intuition — especially if the person making me feel guilty is my own self.

I will not care if adults choose to be cool to me, because the cup of my personality sometimes overflows. And my children will learn that a smile and a good natured, self-deprecating jest will at worst make the world feel a less lonely place, and at best spark friendships from unlikely sources.

I will not care if you’re big, little, curly, glow-in-the-dark, or upside down, as long as you treat me with respect, I will do the same to you.

I will not care if I hear from you today, but not tomorrow, or if busy lives keep us separated for years before we speak again. I will not care, but when we reconnect, we will gush and laugh as if no time has passed, for you are my friend.

And I thank you for not caring, too.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

KISS CHRONICLES by Virginia M. Sanders - Book Review

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Title: Kiss Chronicles

Author: Virginia M. Sanders

Format: ebook

Published: 2013

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Smashwords

Landed in my hands:
downloaded it myself

Summary (from Smashwords):
When I turned 30 without getting my first kiss — yes, you read that right. Read over it again if you need to. Anyway, when I turned 30, I decided I had to take action and get a first kiss to be remembered. So I devised a method to get my first kiss in a way that would be guaranteed to make it meaningful: I would auction off my first kiss for charity.

In this quirky memoir, I share details from my life, exploring exactly how it was that I came to a kissless crossroads at age 30, and I tell all about the exciting and challenging experiences I faced as I developed the Kiss Chronicles project.


I’ve done something here I’ve never done before. I’ve read a self-published book I heard about through word of mouth.

(Mouth... kiss... am I the only one chuckling? Yes? That’s okay... it’s pretty lame. I’ll own it.)

Anyhow. I enjoyed this foray, despite going against the grain of my self-published-book snobbery (yes, usually I avoid them—even tiny presses are a better, in my honest opinion, if only from the more polished result). I think I lucked out and hit a winner with Kiss Chronicles, though, as I’ve encountered a lot of garbage floating around out there, and this book wasn't part of it.

Ms Sanders is genuine and her tale is identifiable. She’s putting herself out there with an honesty that is endearing, and her voice (and personality) come through loud and clear. Kiss Chronicles doesn’t read like a flat project outline. It’s got heart.

Now, that’s not to say it doesn’t have its problems. There’s a point early on when Mr Sanders plays an icebreaker with her readers, and well... meh. In her defense, she clearly states the reader can skip it and fall back in at a later point without missing anything. Naturally, since I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to review it, I read every word. The ice breaker game didn't grab me, and I wouldn't advocate telling your readers they can skip parts of your book... and... meh. I wouldn’t’ve put it into the book, but that’s me.

And while I enjoyed the added shorts about first kisses from other writers (she’s got mini chapters dedicated to tales of kissing), it was the source of a moment of confusion for me. I (stupidly) had to put the book down mid-chapter, and when I returned I hadn’t remembered I was in the midst of one of these shorts... since the entire book is written in first person viewpoint, there wasn’t a reminder that I was outside the main narrative of Kiss Chronicles. So I was stymied when suddenly there was a kiss in the middle of what one would suppose would be a kissless book (at least until the end, right?).


Reader fail, yes, and I’ll own it.

Otherwise, I enjoyed those kiss-dedicated shorts. They were a nice break from the main event, the tale of the ups and downs of the Kiss Chronicles fundraising project.

Overall, I commend Ms Sanders on her job here. She’s put herself on the line with a diary-like honesty. She recounts her life growing up, her struggles, and the events (some hilariously creepy) that led to her kissless status at the age of 30.

I dare you to read this and not identify with Ms Sanders. Yep, daring you. Because you’ll be touched by her, and then be moved to donate to her cause. The book is free, but she's politely requesting a donation in lieu of a sticker price. Read Kiss Chronicles to understand the significance of the donation, but trust it’s a good one. And not because of the charity benefiting, but because Ms Sanders has earned it and more.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The fridge is clean!

Here’s a blatantly voyeuristic post about my fridge.

Yep. Once upon a time we’d occasionally empty our fridges for public consumption at The Mrs blog, and I’ve decided it’s easy post fodder a good idea to revisit.

So here it is, my fridge, jam packed and disgusting sorely in need of help:

Why, yes, those are feather boas in a bag on top of our fridge. Where do you keep your boas?
And here’s all the stuff that was jammed into it, now scattered on the table:

Yes, that is one lonely potato.
Here’s our dairy section, simply because it was a highlight the last time I did this, so I’m highlighting it again. Please note we haven’t been to Costco lately, so our wall of stock of yogurt is running low:

Those cartons? Egg whites. Yes. Mr Lannis goes through a lot of egg whites.
And because it’s a bizarre concept for some Americans to grasp, a closer look at our (yes!) bagged milk...

Yep. Milk. In a bag. BEHOLD!

Admit it Americans... you find it fascinating! How it doesn't spill out everywhere is a Canadian secret (sorry).
 And lastly, the fridge... behold the cleanliness!

Erm. Yes, it looks rather similar to the original pic... and I swear my fridge is straight, in real life...

The best part? I found a lost jar of Voisin’s maple butter... JOY!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cancer Bombs: Death Math

[Note: The first of genetic testing and prophylactic mastectomy series can be found here. All previous (and subsequent) installments of this series can be found here.]

This would be where it begins to get morbid (heh).

July 2011.

Paperwork arrived. Sheets stapled together, a family history questionnaire straight from the genetics department from a hospital in the city, and they wanted it back ASAP.

More than once the instructions indicated that they (the all-knowing geneticists) understood that I might not be able to gather all the information required, or precise dates of diagnosis or death—and that was okay. The more I could provide, the better, of course. They needed a good estimate but understood that some things are lost with time... you know, especially when your ancestors had a penchant for dying on you before you'd met them...

My answering thought? Challenge accepted!

I grabbed my address book, flipped to the calendar for important dates at the back, and began copying births and deaths and all the sundry info I’d accumulated—mostly straight out of my mother’s old address book. (She’d written down everything. Births, moving days, burials, anniversaries, the date our 19 year-old cat had died... lovely.)

Of course, this didn’t cover everything. There was a good six years between Mom’s last entry and my filling out this questionnaire, but I have skillz tools.

Quickly, I ran to the Batmobile, my trusty steed, my laptop and logged onto Facebook, and basically creeped the profiles of my relatives, garnering birth dates and estimating pertinent information. (Dudes, you should NOT post that shit on a public forum like Facebook—someone could use it for nefarious reasons! Sheesh!)

Then I emailed one aunt to find out the rest.

Dad’s side? Done.

Mom’s side, well, that was another thing. Pretty much everyone before me on my mother’s side had been obliterated by cancer, after all... kinda sorta the whole paradoxical reason behind the paperwork I was filling out, remember?

So I did what anyone blessed with having one side of her family wiped out would do—I called up the cousin who’s into genealogy (hi, Neil!), and had him walk me through the branches of our (dying) family tree.

It was... depressing.

Here’s the thing: I have always believed that breast cancer wasn’t an if, but a when.

I would get it. It was just a matter of time.

So after filling out the questionnaire’s chart and mailing it off to the hospital to find out whether I qualified for genetic counseling (and subsequent testing), I decided to do a little paperwork of my own...

I present to you: Death Math. (It sounds way cooler than it really is, trust.)

I’m not that great at The Maths—I really only have to be better than my seven-year-old, after all—but this was pretty simple, even for me.

Since I was certain I would develop breast cancer, I examined the situations of my two closest relatives who had had it—my mother and my father’s sister—because they were the closest to contemporaries I had, and were a realistic reference to current medical treatment.

(Yes, I get that this is an exorbitantly small pool for statistical data, and that there are many details factoring into my relatives' cases that would likely be different from my own scenario—but this is my corner of the Interwebs, so humour me.)

These women had both been diagnosed with breast cancer relatively young (ages 41 and 42, respectively), and both of them had beat it. At the time of this... experiment... I was 32. So I figured I had a few years before I needed to panic.

Convinced I would have cancer, and using their history as an indicator of what to expect, I was confident I’d beat it the first go ‘round, since Death Math shows a 100% survival rate.

But both women ended up with completely separate cancers, about 15 to 18 years later. Chance of second battle? Death Math says 100%.

And only one survived the second round, which means Death Math indicates a 50% survival rate after battling cancer twice.

Not. Cool.

15 to 18 years of panic, wondering if this time would be the mammogram of doom?! Pardon me, but fuck that shit...

Also? It was about here that I decided fighting the good fight twice with the potential of losing at all was pretty craptacular.

And then I gave my head a shake, because: who the hell wants cancer even ONCE?!

I’d seen what my mother went through firsthand. I watched my father cater and falter during her care. As a family, we were grieving before she’d even died, having tragically accepted what could not be changed.

What else was there to do, but eat the shit sandwich life feeds you? You deal. It gives you indigestion, but you swallow it anyway.

But the Death Math suddenly made me not want to deal—or at least not accept my fate passively.

In November of 2009, at the age of 30, I’d found a lump in my breast. It was painful, and I knew from watching my mother that painful meant really good (on the “is it cancer?!” scale) or really really bad (on the same scale).

Thankfully it was a blocked duct, which was leftover from weaning my son almost two years earlier.

Yes, read that again: almost two years earlier.

My boys are 17 months apart in age. My boobs had gone from pregnant (pre-milk production) to nursing (milk production) to pregnant (pre-milk production) to nursing (milk production), with no real weaning in between.

As my then-doctor so quaintly put it, my body "never learned to properly shut off the taps.”

That singular heart-stopping, stomach-churning brush with “this is it!” was as close as I wanted to get to actually having breast cancer. Two small boys (our oldest was four at the time), and a husband possibly left to care for them on his own?

My gut screamed, “CUT THE TITS OFF!”

We’d finished adding to our family and I was done with them anyway, right? They’d served their purpose well, and I was a big girl—breasts didn’t embody my femininity, my identity, or any aspect of my self-image.

I could move on without them...

Stoically, my husband supported whatever I wanted and needed. My doctor (rightly) said I was overreacting. And since an ultrasound proved that apparently my left tit simply has abominable taste in practical jokes, we walked away from the experience shaken, but whole.

So in July of 2011, in the wake of filling out the geneticists' family history questionnaire and staring at the Death Math in all its ridiculous glory, one image kept replaying in my mind...

The moment from two years earlier, when my husband was overcome with quiet—a mix of determination and sadness—as my whisper revealed that innocent-yet-painful lump.

He had signed up for this, and he knew it. He wasn’t going anywhere, despite knowing what was coming for me.

I couldn’t do that to him.

I had no idea yet where the genetic testing might lead, but it had to be somewhere better than what the Death Math foretold.

And let's face it: I'm a crazy bitch, and crazy bitches never go down easy...

[Note: The next post in this series can be found here.]

Friday, May 24, 2013

Say Yes

Have you seen this video yet?

It’s surfaced in my Facebook news feed a few times, and it’s always popular when it does. I know I enjoy it.

I pointed it out to Mr Lannis (he’s not online much), and he enjoyed it, too—watch it if you haven’t, it’ll brighten your day, for sure. Go ahead... I’ll wait.

Did you watch it?

Okay. Because I’m about to dissect why it’s such a hit. (Note: this is my opinion only—I have no background in psychology.)

It’s very simple, really...

This guy? This random dude and his wife at the pumps? They say yes.

That’s it.

(Pinned on Pinterest, but originally from Inkymole Illustration.)

To elaborate: when the gas pump newscaster interrupts his day, this random gentleman not only partakes in friendly conversation instead of being too cool to play along, he also embraces the moment and plays.

Crazy concept, right?

He volunteers that he sings karaoke (when asked if he sings professionally), and then goes ahead and sings karaoke on the spot.

He says yes.

He is joyful.

He is playful.

He doesn’t treat the newscaster as a fixture, which the man very literally is—a fixed, though playing, screen at the pumps. And one would not be remiss for never noticing that the newscaster were attempting to interact with a gas pumping bystander. It’s okay to be lost in one’s own thoughts, especially in an instance such as this which is so out of the ordinary, but much can be said about treating others as human beings and not backdrop in our own personal play.

This man, this random karaoke singing gentleman, though, is at first unobservant, but not entirely so. More importantly, he’s interactive.

And why is this video such a viral storm of joy?

Because he gets into it. He sells it. He’s clearly enjoying himself.

He may momentarily look a fool, but he doesn't care, and his fun is infectious. His wife is just as game to play along (she’s her own sort of fabulous—seriously, watch the video if you haven’t already).

They are not afraid to be themselves and are not too cool to show it.

They have personality. They cheer each other on, and sure, it’s a spectacle, and an odd scene to witness at the gas pumps—but one of harmless delight.

They say yes.

And I’m pretty sure we all get a snapshot view of exactly why this couple is married—they’re not afraid to have fun, or to have fun together.

Playing is not something we should discard as we grow up.

Because I’m no expert, and this is simply my deconstruction of the social response to this video (a video which has over 12 million views and counting after a week online), but I’m going to throw this out there for everyone anyway... we, all of us, are a little enamored with the courage shown by this random guy, and the clear pleasure he exhibits while enjoying his moment.

And I’m pretty sure that a lot of us, even though we might not have the guts to put on the same display—and a part of us might be appalled at creating such a spectacle—well, I’ll bet we’re all thinking the same thing: he must be a great guy to hang out with.

All because he said yes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Smiling Violets

I'm not that chick who gets overly sentimental.

Though I have my moments, like everyone does.

And I have what I like to think is a bizarre cross between superstition and recognizing signs. It's not about luck, so much as it is listening to the universe at large.

Case in point: violets were my mother's favourite houseplant.

The woman loved violets. And in her pseudo-guerrilla-gardening way, she would snap leaves off of blooming variations she saw out and about, and smuggle them home to propagate her own copy of that plant.

I have a lot of violets (none of them her original plants, though a couple were propagated from clippings). I have one violet that I adopted when a friend moved and she couldn't take it with her (hi, Emilia!). This particular violet is larger than your average violet...

Like, dinner-plate-huge.

Look in the mirror: she's sitting in an antique chamber pot. In a modern bathroom. (Tee hee.)

And this dinner-plate-huge girl (I call the violets my girls) has been blooming for a while now.

Over my birthday. My mother's birthday. Mother's Day. And now today.

And today is an important day, in the realm of this story.

Every morning for the past four weeks, I have woken up to see this girl smiling at me with all her blooms.

And no, I'm not silly enough to believe it's a violet smiling at me.

It's my mother.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


[Note: This review was originally published March 9, 2011, on]

Rating: 5/5 - So delicious that I read until my eyes went blurry!

Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (book one of The Inheritance Trilogy)

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Format: mass market paperback

Published: 2010

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher:  Orbit Books

Landed in my hands: purchased myself

Summary (from opening page and cover blurb):

Gods and mortals, power and love, death and revenge. She will inherit them all.

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.


I have a confession. One of the reasons I’ve had such a fabulous luck with my reads lately is because I follow some book bloggers who have impeccable taste and opinions I can trust. While my own To Be Read pile is pretty steep, it’s nice to have someone to wade through prospective titles before they're added to the tower. Thus, it was through Rebecca’s review at Dirty Sexy Books that my attention was drawn to N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. And once again I owe her a big thank you! (Thanks, Rebecca!)

Godlings chained and a mortal unfamiliar with their complexities and dangers as the source of their hope? — It’s the stuff I drool over, and this book was delicious! I’m surprised I didn’t burp when I finished it, I devoured it so fast. It has so many of the qualities that draw me into the fantasy genre: living myths, intricate world-building, epic danger, and the added extra of an otherworld romance. All well done and combined to create an instant hook for me — this book will be on the keeper shelf!

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for a well-drawn romance (I’ve somehow grown into a hopeless romantic, though I’m not entirely sure how that happened?). And I’m a big sucker for the entanglement the heroine, Yeine, finds herself in: a fierce and dangerous version of Belligerent Sexual Tension (warning: that link is to TV Tropes, and if you’re unfamiliar with this wiki, you might find yourself lost for hours... good luck!). My point being, I eat up those “I love to hate you” relationships that evolve into true romance. I don’t know why, I just do. And poor Yeine is grabbed by a primal lust that leads to a vicious and foreboding partner who is known for killing his lovers. Talk about tension!

In the future I'll probably be rereading this book to look deeper into the gender roles and the way they play out. There was an interesting matriarchal society known as barbarians — of course the source of our heroine. It was so subtly drawn that I didn’t realize there was a female-dominated society until they were speaking of war, when this passage leapt out at me, the leader speaking of amassing an army in preparation, and Yeine’s subsequent observations:

“We’ve resorted to asking for volunteers — any woman with a horse and her own weapons. Men as well, if they’re not yet fathers.” 
It was very bad if the council had resorted to recruiting men. By tradition men were our last line of defense, their physical strength bent toward the single and most important task of protecting our homes and children.

Perhaps it is this straightforward logic to the matriarchal leadership that allowed its existence to slip beneath my notice until this point (it’s just so logical!), or maybe it was the fact that I blew through the story in less than 24 hours. I dunno. It hardly felt like a screaming subversion of the male-dominated generality, and really didn’t feel like a clue by four statement at all (good!) — and this book has some wonderfully strong female characters, even some in absentia. I think it’s simply a testament to Jemisin’s writing that it all feels so natural.

Another (at times polarizing) subject of interest: sexuality. I really enjoyed that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms contained a variety of pairings, and I took it as a statement about love being above the form you take. Being male, female, god, mortal, or something in between, there’s a place and a someone (or someones) for you. It’s refreshing, and I appreciate a story that exemplifies love as a true virtue, regardless of source. It doesn't scream moral message, and yet, it settles in the soul heavier than if it had been delivered thus... and that’s probably why it resonates so strongly with me.

Now me? Big anti-spoiler flag waver. Not a page flipper. Please don’t tell me how it ends before I get there. I like to savour my books, and with that in mind, I also don’t flip to the back to skim or read how things end. So I didn’t realize going into this story that there’s a glossary of terms hidden at the back. Nothing big, but four pages to help readers with the world-building terms. Having read the book without knowing of the glossary, I can adamantly say you won’t be lost without knowing of it beforehand, but it would have been nice to be aware of its presence, is all I’m sayin’. And that, my friends, is basically my only negative critique of this book, so take that as you will...

Jemisin’s next book in the trilogy, The Broken Kingdoms, is already out, and it’ll soon be parked proudly on my To Read Shelf. I’ve a few other books to read before I’ll get a chance to crack it, but it might just jump the line...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Mustache Us to Lighten Up

I actively try to take myself less seriously. Life is more fun that way.

One day in particular—the day I set up my official Lannis Facebook page—I was desperate to burn off the realities of branding, the stress of playing grown up, the sourness created when a spotlight interferes with inherent humility, the antsy-ness created by risk and hoping people want to hear what I have to say, nervous energy.

Anyhow. I realized we had a whole board of sticky mustaches leftover from the photo booth at Princess' wedding (back from this post), and my impulse control was pretty low.

(It's non-existent on a good day. I'm not kidding anyone, and I know that.)

But how can you resist this?

So I kinda sorta made the kids (including my after school care charges) wear them. Until their mother came and picked them up.


And no, no real reason except that these mustaches were on the counter and needed a home. Preferably on people's faces, at least for a little while.

And I needed a laugh.

When you're a grown up you can make kids do all kinds of silly stuff and guess what? They go along with it!

Also? They think you're the "cool" grownup. Heh. (Oh, if they had any idea...)

It's fabulous.

And so are we.

[Note: This is the day L, my 6 year old, wiped out at school—hence the road rash on his face. To quote him, "a tree jumped in front of [him]," so that's the message the school receptionist left on our answering machine. I might never delete it.]

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cancer Bombs: The Big Prize

[Note: This is the first in a series of posts about genetic testing and prophylactic mastectomy. Other installments of this series can be found here as they are published. (Mondays, guys. Mondays.)]

“I want to refer you for genetic testing for breast cancer.”

I was sitting on the exam table when she said it, and I remember my head jerked as if hit with an actual blow.

This was my new doctor, and my first physical under her care. I had just finished rambling through my family’s medical history, and with each added relative her eyes had widened slightly further.

My mother, twice. My mother’s mother. My father’s mother. My father’s sister, twice. My mother’s father’s mother. My mother’s aunts, on both sides. My mother’s brother. My mother’s brother’s son.

It grew everywhere on my family tree, that deadly fruit.


“Really?” I asked, practicality overriding selfishness. I joke that my cat has no sense of self-preservation; apparently this statement applies to me, too. “I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m going to win the big prize. Isn’t that a waste of taxpayers' dollars?”

Yes, I actually said that.

And yes, I live in Canada, where the cost of my own healthcare doesn’t keep me up at night.

My doctor—whom I’ll admit I do enjoy shocking with my morbid sense of humour—was exhibiting the wide-eyed, calm-voiced, deliberately tentative behaviour one uses with the mentally ill. “Well, it would be good to know for sure, so I can best plan your care.” She spoke with the melodic accent of the barely second generation Canadian, and I could listen to her voice all day. “And it would be good for research purposes, for others.”

I grimaced. She had me on civic duty. If there was one thing I knew, it was that I would one day inherit the legacy of breast cancer, and donating to science what I’d already decided was malformed genetic code was the least I could do.

“All right then,” I muttered. “Sign me up. It’s not like it’s going to tell me anything I don’t already know.”

That was May 2011.

In January of 2011, I started blogging in guest posts on my friend’s blog (hi, Sandi!). Yes, we've backtracked; this was well before my doctor had suggested the referral.

If you had asked me why I began blogging—even that tiny bit—I probably would’ve said something silly and spastic (it’s my reflexive response to anything, really, the need to be sarcastic and self-deprecating). I would probably have outed with some line about needing a place for the mental diarrhea to dribble before it dissolved my husband’s sanity.

The truth is: it was for my kids. So they’d have an idea who their mother was.

Morbid, yes? But true.

See, there’s not a whole lot left of my mother. She succumbed to her second battle with breast cancer in 2005, at the age of 55. It was an entirely separate tumor from her first one, fourteen years earlier.

She passed away eighteen days before my oldest child was born.

Yes, she missed meeting her first grandchild by fewer than three weeks.

Sure, there’s lots of her stuff (her favourite books, her cranberry glass collection, inherited jewelry, the rocking chair she used in her classroom—she was a teacher). But there’s not a lot of her left.

I don’t have her voice recorded.

I have no video of her.

There are photos from when we were young, but she was usually behind the camera (welcome to my penchant for being in every second photo—I’m determined my children will know I am joyful, and will recognize all the shapes of my face, even the unflattering ones).

But my children—her grandchildren—will never know how her mind worked; they’ll never know the paths her thoughts took to get to a given conclusion.

But they will know mine. That’s where blogging comes in.

I dubbed myself a writer when I was seven, and it’s the path I chose through my education. Elementary school, high school, and all the way through university, it has always been an aspect shaping my identity, regardless of how vocal I may have been about it at any given time.

I don’t quite believe in god, but I believe there is an orchestrating force in our universe, and I believe things happen for a reason. I always knew I was a writer because I had a story to tell, but it has taken until now to garner a glimpse of what that tale would be.

For a while I thought I was destined to write a story about a girl who stood, nine months pregnant, next to her mother’s casket.

But then again, I never truly wore that label, regardless of its autobiographical truth. Sure, it fit, but not comfortably, as I don’t have the intestinal fortitude for wallowing.

I was taught (by my mother) to refrain from throwing what she dubbed "pity parties."

Her own mother had languished through ten years of cancer mixed with possible radiation poisoning, until finally succumbing at the age of 46, when my mother herself was only nineteen.

When my mother was diagnosed with her first round of breast cancer at the age of 41 (she beat it through a partial mastectomy and radiation), she had been sure it was the beginning of the end. She had never expected to survive. The message she left with us was to always remember that she had been blessed with almost fifteen extra years.

Choose to see the good.

Choose to be happy.

Regardless of what life was handing her—which admittedly was a tumor that ate its way through her breast, then decided to gnaw on her liver, lungs, and brain—she still felt blessed.

She’d seen my sister and myself graduate from post-secondary. She’d seen my husband and I marry. She got to see her daughter's belly round with pregnancy. Our family had gone to Europe together—granted, not until after she’d been diagnosed terminally ill, but still, it was the trip of a lifetime, and she’d met the pen pal she’d had as a Girl Guide from the age of ten.

The thing is, my mother’s wish was to know her children as adults—something her own mother never had the chance to do. And she did.

My wish, after watching her waste away days before my son was born, is to meet my grandkids.

I could extrapolate. Grandmother was 46. Mother was 55. By my math that meant I had until I was 64 (maybe), and likely the last handful of those years wouldn't be very livable.

Months before that physical and my new doctor’s world-rocking announcement in May 2011, I felt myself rattled by midlife crisis. Mostly self-doubt and questioning. Of grand and grandiose proportions, to be sure, but I’d been left with the urge to live as fully as possible.

Barely on the far side of 30, I’d decided I was on the down slope, and I intended to enjoy the reckless rush on the way to the bottom. (Over the hill and on a roll, right? Heh.)

Welcome the garden where morbid humour blooms.

But this? This is all backstory. Because the last two years have been... enlightening.

I know now what story I was to tell.

It’s funny how things fall into place... the penchant for writing... the morbid humour... the accidental blogging... the journey through genetic testing...

I’m supposed to write it, and put it out there on the Internet, because I can, and because someone out there needs to read it.

And I apologize, because it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts in the wake of it all.

For this is only recounting the first step of what has grown to be a long journey...

[Note: The next post in this series can be found here.]

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Grumpy Lei

It stands to reason that if you know me on Facebook you're subjected to far more weirdness than what is encapsulated in this here blog.

Frightening thought, yes?

My theory is that blogging actually works against my low nonexistent impulse control... it takes a bit of forethought and time to put a post together. Whereas on Facebook, uploading an oddly captioned quirky pic for no particular reason is far easier and more immediate...

Case in point: I have a Grumpy Lei.

To clarify: said lei is not grumpy itself, so much as I wear it when I'm grumpy. And consume booze. Makes the grumpy mood melt away. Could be the lei, could be the booze. I'm not exactly splitting hairs over here...

Last week I had a sudden grumpy streak, which was directly related to hunger. I was hangry, really.

So I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption, "Dirty, grungy, & grubby from yardwork... And then hangry because it's almost past my dinnertime... New solution: donning a lei & having a cosmo with pizza dinner (& laughing at myself, natch)... Why?! BECAUSE I CAN, THAT'S WHY! Will report effectiveness of proposed solution at a later time..."

It was an attempt to laugh at myself, and not take myself too seriously. It worked.

I'm not an overly grumpy person. People would probably call me weird spastic before grumpy, but the word choice is up to them, ultimately.

Point being: it's really hard to stay grumpy with a good lei. (<-- My inner 14 year-old-boy is killing himself laughing right now. Yes, I really do find this line that funny. ::snort::)

I enjoyed this lei (::gigglesnort::), so much so that I'm promoting it to Drinking Lei. As in: I will be wearing it this summer on the front porch as I consume alcohol, because I can...

Mr Lannis is thrilled with this idea, I assure you. (<-- Blatant lie.)

But booze tastes better while wearing this lei. Truth.

To recap: it doubly fights bad moods while making alcohol even tastier. This I declare.

And part of me really wants my kids to grow up remembering their eccentric mother insisting on wearing a lei on the front porch. Possibly intoxicated.

Again... I'm all for screwing up my kids in an organized fashion...

(I already can't wait: all those neighbours moving into the new builds are going to be scandalized. I'm going to be so fucking popular! BAHAhaha!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hidden Weapons

So I was out shopping with a friend of mine (hi, Denise!), and we discovered the way to smuggle weapons into clubs... legit-like.

Who needs a machete up your barely-there skirt when you're wearing vicious spikes on your heels?

Yes, ladies! And they could be yours for the low low price of $160CAD!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In defense of Angelina...

By now you’ve probably heard about Angelina Jolie’s Op-ed piece in The New York Times.

Long story short: she’s had genetic testing done, discovered she has a BRCA1 mutation, and decided proactive treatment was the way to go. As in: she had a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, the regimen of which was finished at the end of April.

In layman’s terms: she had the girls removed and replaced.


Yes, Angelina Jolie.

Yes, Angelina Jolie, the A-list star who is known for her amazing rack.

I know, right?

And here’s the thing. I’ve already run into some complete assholery on the Internet over this issue. Like, make me want to whip out my favourite machete doubly for zombie apocalypse practice and weeding the human gene pool kind of assholery...

Let’s look at the facts here...

Is she an attention whore? No. She’s a celebrity. It’s her job to be in the spotlight.

Is she doing this because she’s attempting to inspire others?

Um, I’m pretty sure she’s doing this to stay alive (you know, since her genes STATE she’ll probably kick it early if she doesn’t do something proactive) and that anything else gained by the public service announcement is just that—using her platform to perform a public service announcement to bring attention to the options available.

(Yes, options which, if you're in the US cost money, so they're questionable as options if you don't have money. Not the issue being discussed here today.)

Why’s she telling everyone? Well, let’s look at her history... has she used her celebrity to support causes before?

Oh dear lord, I believe she has! I’m pretty sure there’s something about her going to other countries and adopting children who needed parents, and doing five lifetime's worth of charity work! Gah! She’s actually created a public profile apart from her acting career as a (gasp!) humanitarian! The gall of the woman!

My point is: her announcing she’s chosen a radical proactive treatment for a genetic condition in order to bring necessary awareness to the procedure isn’t all that out of character for her as a person in the media. So calm down, folks.

Why’s she telling us now? As in: instead of earlier?

Well, if you lived with the paparazzi at your doorstep, I’d think you’d be pretty private about a lot of personal choices, especially if one of them included choosing to maim yourself in order to be around for your kids in twenty plus years. Considering the paparazzi’s perpetual presence at the Jolie-Pitt household, I’m fairly certain she deserves a lot of credit for not having had this leaked earlier... but maybe I’m wrong.

Also, I’m thinking opting to lop off your boobs is one of those crossroads you get to, a paradigm shift of psychology, where you’re not entirely sure how much of the process you’re willing to share with the entire world until you’ve actually been through a bit of it, and know how you’re reacting to it on a personal level.

I mean, for any woman the choice is staggering. For Angelina Jolie, well, the truth is that despite talent, her very career is based on her looks. I find it encouraging to hear that she chose to follow through with the double mastectomy especially considering much of her career/public persona is based on her looks—which include her rack. That she's voiced her decision is heartening because, well, the world is clearly full of assholes who believe they are entitled to bitch about her boobs, boobs said assholes will never see in person, let alone actually fondle...

She went through with a double mastectomy despite being such a public figure who is idolized for her body, and I would hope that would empower other women to be proactive; to help them disregard body issues and highlight the importance of proactive health choices. That emphasis on life and not appearance (because no matter how you slice it, she's got falsies now, and will be under fire from the "they're not natural!" set), and the fact that Angelina's (once again) using her public platform to educate, gives me much respect for her.

So yeah, I think people need to lay off Angelina and support her decisions—not because she’s brave or admirable or attempting to inspire others—but because they are just that: her own decisions.

She’s not affecting anyone else directly by her choices; only herself and her family.

If you choose to follow the news and keep up with the hoopla and the aftermath of her proactive medical choices, kudos to you.

But really, this is the Internet—we don’t need any more negativity, and trust me, mortality aside, Angelina probably thought long and hard over whether she’d lop off the most visibly female part of herself... and I can almost assure you that the Internet’s reaction did not make it onto her radar of potential cons because ultimately it doesn’t matter.

All that said, I’m proud of her.

And since I'm already standing on my soap box: Angelina Jolie revealing she's had a prophylactic double mastectomy WILL ALWAYS garner more awareness of breast cancer than changing your Facebook status in some super-secret girl code to say where you hang your purse, or what colour bra you're wearing, or any weird sentence garnered from some bandwagon private message that makes your status sound like sexual innuendo. Truth.

Sorry, but it needed to be said.

And this makes it the perfect time to toss out a teaser for what’s to come here at Chez Lannis. Yes, there’s been something in the works for a while now, a post series I’m in the midst of writing to share with the Big Wide Interwebs...


Forevermore I can say I did it before Angelina Jolie made it “cool.”

Yes, I'm biased.

Stick around, because in the next couple weeks we’re going to start talking truth about cancer bombs...

Something different...

Today, for the very first time, after months and months of hemming and hawing and reasons why the timing isn't perfect, and despite the very real fact that I'm not allowed to get sick right now, I am... (ready? this is B.I.G... big...):

Volunteering in my son's class this morning.

Yes. I know. Me.

Me. Who, despite appearances and evidence to the contrary, is NOT A JOINER.

Me. Who, for all intents and purposes, could win awards for her impression of a hermit on just about any given day.

Me. Who covets her rare days when both boys are in school for housework, errands, writing, appointments, costuming, reading, napping, and dicking around on the Internet... (any and all of the above, really...).

Why? Why am I giving up this blessed peace?

Well, it's rather simple: it means so much to him.

And I believe in the power of hand sanitizer.

[Bonus funny: my niece calls it hanitizer... get it? Hand sanitizer = hanitizer? Hi, Mar Mar! Love you, my sweet girlie!]


[Note: This review was originally published on July 10, 2012, on]

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Title: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

Author: Jenny Lawson




  Amy Einhorn Books

Landed in my hands: via self-purchase

Summary (from inside the jacket flap)

When I tell people that my father is kind of a total lunatic, they laugh and nod knowingly. They assure me that theirs is too, and that he’s just a “typical father.”

And they’re probably right, if the typical father runs a full-time taxidermy business out of the house, and shows up at the local bar with a miniature donkey and a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator, and thinks other people are weird for making such a big deal out of it. If the typical father says things like “Happy birthday! Here’s a bathtub of raccoons!” or “We’ll have to take your car. Mine has too much blood in it,” then yeah, he’s *totally* normal. Still, I don’t remember any of the kids from Charles in Charge feeling around the deep freeze for the Popsicles and instead pulling out an enormous frozen rattlesnake that Charles had thrown in while it was still alive. Maybe I missed that episode. We didn’t watch a lot of TV.

That’s why whenever people try to tell me how their “insane father” would sometimes fall asleep on the toilet, or occasionally catch the house on fire, I put my finger to their lips and whisper, “Hush, little rabbit. Let me give you perspective.”

-- from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humour in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing yet darkly hysterical tome for ever intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.


Are you familiar with The Bloggess?

Yes? No?

I’ve been a follower of Jenny’s for a while now — I found her back when she had her own ill-advised advice column, Ask The Bloggess, that has since been discontinued — and she’s always a breath of fresh air. A hysterical, humanizing, humble breath of fresh air.


Lawson views the world through a filter that is all her own. And she embraces life, her struggles, her humour, and shares it in such a way that you can’t help but feel the perspective radiating from her words. She has the uncanny ability to summarize events with a combination of irrational paranoia, pop culture references, off-colour quirkiness, but most of all, heart.

One thing I found a touch disappointing with Lawson’s book was that I had expected her to delve more into her struggles with anxiety and depression. Having followed her blog, witnessing her downs and celebrating her ups, I was hoping to have a further peak into that aspect of her life.

And if you’re familiar with her blog, you may notice some repetition (and Jenny’s signature entertaining rambling) though I’m pleased to see it — some of my favourite Jenny-isms are fleshed out more fully in this book, along with classic back and forth conversations between herself and her husband.

What at first seems to be a rather scattered rambling through the logical progression of her life, the chapters are interspersed with conversations and anecdotes. I won’t lie, I was watching for growth, for that progression, for that epiphany, and I was pleased to see it appear. Even more so to see it show up with Jenny’s natural circularity — a quirky-yet-natural propensity to appear as if she’s lost direction, only to discover that she was narrowing in on a point all along.

This circularity occurs in her blog posts, in her chapters, and it ties the entire book together overall; into a neat package that reflects her unique spirit, and the wonder of self-acceptance.

If you're unfamiliar with Jenny, check out the classic Bloggess post about Beyonce the giant metal chicken (seriously, Beyoncé has a following on Facebook, it's that popular.) It'll give you an idea of what the book entails, and hopefully a laugh, too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Day in the Life

Once upon a time back at The Mrs blog, we used to do this thing every once in a while where we'd document our day just because.

Okay, maybe not just because so much as we're total sickos who get off on a weird voyeuristic level by analysing the pieces that make up someone else's whole when it comes to filling their day. Whatever. Own it, I say.

And let's face it, when you're a stay at home mom, it's nice to document your hours just to remember you actually do something with them...

So here's my donation up for perusal...

May 9th 2013

6:42 - Wake up, shower, wash hair (this only happens twice a week, so yes, it’s notable. Uh... showers happen more often, though).

6:55 - Dress, wash face, brush teeth, make bed, open windows in master bedroom and bathroom. Lament that it’s rained, as there’s a perfectly decent load of laundry (the only one for today!) sitting in the washer ready to hang on the (newly rebuilt) triple clotheslines...

7:10 - Open windows in R’s (7.5 y/o) room, grab clothes for him for school. Head downstairs (he’s already playing Lego). Put water on for tea, make R’s lunch, set out juice for boys, make toast for R and myself.

7:20 - L (6 y/o) comes downstairs, begins talking about how the cats have sucked out all the heat from the air while we’re asleep because that’s what cats do. Um. Sure, kid. Send him upstairs for his housecoat (as clearly he’s finding it rather crisp this morning—it’s 18c/64F in here, but the sliding door is open in the hopes that the cats use their catdoor and it’s 13c/55F outside and creeping in...)

7:25 - Find grocery list and begin adding to it. Eat toast.

7:30 - Get online. Start writing this list. Check weather. It’s supposed to rain for the next three days?! ::headdesk:: Decide to wait until after groceries to see how the day is going and then maybe put laundry on the line...

7:39 - Gather L’s clothes for the day, tell him to get dressed. Get tea. Bargain with L as to what Wii games he is allowed to play today if it’s raining (Mario Party 9, MarioKart, and Just Dance are his options, though he’s currently addicted to Lego Batman—it makes me motion sick, so no, not when I’m kicking around). Remind L he’s getting dressed.

7:44 - Check email and blog. Remind L he’s to be getting dressed. Lament the number of blog posts begun and abandoned...

7:51 - Wander online. Discover favourite snobby sweater is now back in stock in the colour I was coveting. Oops, it fell into the virtual cart. (For the record, it’s a joint birthday/Mother’s Day gift already discussed with Mr Lannis.) Ooh... that book looks good. Uh ho, it jumped into the virtual cart, too! (No pre-purchase discussion here... heh. Hiding books is one of my superpowers. Shh...)

7:54 - Remind L he’s getting dressed. Celebrate Moghedien’s decision to finally use the cat door I installed in the screen two days earlier. Check Facebook news feed.

8:08  - Oh! Look! L’s finally dressed!

8:10 - Referee kidlets. Drink tea. Pin interesting shit on Pinterest. Dick around on FB (HOLY STUFF, BATMAN! Lego’s coming out with a Steampunk line! Steampunk Lego?! ::dies::)

8:15 - Watch CNN videos (specifically Charles Ramsey on CNN with Anderson Cooper. Wow.). Drink lots of tea. Be interrupted to clean up random cat puke (Minetters...)

8:30 - Referee kidlets. (Regardless of what you say, yes, your brother is allowed to use more than just the blue Legos. Stop making arbitrary rules to piss each other off!) Remind boys they’ll have to tidy up soon. Browse Twitter. Fall down a link hole and wander through the clickity-clicks...

8:40 - More tea. Read blogs. (This is my “relaxing” morning time, where I've finished a handful of kid-management chores and am waiting to take them to school.)

8:42 - Prompt kidlets to empty dishwasher. Referee kidlets (Stop arguing over which racks you're unloading! Just doooo eeeet!).

8:50 - Tell kidlets to tidy up. Remember to post the link to the blog post that went live almost an hour ago (whoops?).

8:55 - Interrupt kidlets tidying up to talk about the new Steampunk Lego. BECAUSE STEAMPUNK LEGO, YOU GUYS!

8:58 - Start mental To Do list. Have ADD kick in. Open document from last night and Google which phase is the resting phase of mitosis, because while my university biology has gotten me as far as remembering the terms for the different stages, I can't remembered what each phase does. That course was, what, $900? Clearly well spent. (In my defense, it was over ten years ago, and fulfilled the "general education" requirements of my bachelor's degree. Fascinating shit, too, which is probably the only reason my brain retains the word "telophase" at all... um, or that I managed to make even one of the three 9:30am lectures each week for eight months of the year. I think it goes unsaid that that Friday morning class was a joke for everyone. Heh.)

9:02 - Remind L to put marbles in his jar for emptying dishwasher. Remind kidlets to tidy up.

9:10 - Have R put lunch bag and agenda into his backpack and have boys get shoes and sweaters on for school.

9:12 - 9:35 - Get in van. Wait for boys to buckle up. Drive to school, park. Walk R to edge of yard. Drive to Tim Hortons for a mocha. Drive to Walmart (ugh). Park, wait in the van so L can listen to “his new favourite song” as it plays on the radio (who am I to deny the simple joys in life?).

9:35 - 11:27 - Lament spilling mocha on sleeve of current snobby sweater (this is why I can’t have nice things!). Pick up groceries and household items, argue entire time that L looks as if he needs to pee (he insists he doesn’t he’s simply wearing his dancey pants), only to have him exclaim at the checkout that “it’s almost an emergency!” (GAH!) Checkout, park full cart at Customer Service and take L to washroom. Walk to van and load groceries. Drive home. Hold discussion with L on ride home about how Adele’s song Rumour Has It sounds as if background singers are singing, “booger” instead of “rumour”. Reach house, have L pull recycling and green bins back into the garage (for marbles). Unload van. Put away groceries/new items. Make tea. Call two landscaping companies and leave messages to arrange appointment for quote (want front walkway redone). Crumble and switch load in washer to dryer and start it (it’s been light rain all morning). Scrub sleeve of snobby sweater with stain remover. Add sphagnum moss to the mango sprout’s new pot. Turn on laptop. read a bit of Kiss Chronicles while waiting for laptop to boot up. Mess around on FB. Update this list...

11:27 - Read this post by Sandi. Open glue stick for L.

11:33 - Listen to L describe his new craft. Listen to him dictate what he wants for lunch. Make tea. Make lunch for L (blueberry jam sandwich on brown bread, and orange slices). Remember I was supposed to buy orange marmalade because R has switched his morning toast-topper. Oops.

11:45 - Sit down for lunch. Salad: iceberg lettuce and mixed baby greens, shredded mozza cheese, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and crunchy chow mein noodles topped with my second favourite dressing (Renee’s Asian Sesame). Because I forgot to buy my favourite dressing (Renee’s Balsamic) and strawberries (swap the chow mein noodles and peanuts for strawberries and it’s a completely different salad... both are delicious). Orange slices for dessert. Read more online while eating.

I swear it's tastier than it looks.
11:57 - Update this list. Begin composing blog post on Blogger (instead of simply a document file on my desktop). Add pertinent links, etc. Remember to (finally!) donate to Kiss Chronicles.

12:38 - Lunch break is over. Listen to L read.

12:41 - Time to start cleaning out the fridge (yes, if you’re keeping track, I brought home groceries this morning. Not exactly the order I’d recommend for these two activities, but then again, I am a doofus lesson. Learn from me). Put away dishes drying in sink, clear and wipe counter and table, load dishwasher. Scrub sink clean and fill with water for washing fridge shelves.

1:25pm - Fridge clean out is interrupted by phone appointment I’d forgotten about (oops). Toss cheese, milk, eggs, and yogurt back in the fridge, quick! (Erm... possibly late.)

1:52 - Phone appointment over. Start Mario Party 9 for L (there’s a lot of reading involved, it’s actually not bad practice for him, all things considered...) Continue washing the fridge.

2:30 - Finish putting everything away—the fridge is all clean! Whip up a quick post about it. Help L read words in his game.

2:52 - Sneak outside (it’s sunny now, OF COURSE! especially since the laundry is sitting in the dryer, DRY! ::headdesk::) and nail garden decorations back onto the fence—they’d been removed the other day while reorganizing our backyard gardens.

3pm - Recover from ADD and finish writing and scheduling fridge clean out post. Check bank accounts online and make mental notes about bills to be paid on pay day. Tell L to get himself a snack (granola bar) from the cupboard.

3:15 - Begin cutting veggies for dinner. Decided on stir fry. Tell L it’s 15 minutes until we need to leave to pick up kids from school.

3:30 - 4:45 - Walk with L to pick up the kids from school (including after school care charges). Walk home. Get mail. Get kids to pull our neighbours’ recycling and green bins up to their garage. Get in the house, have them wash their hands. Talk to R about the school’s book fair, allow him to access his piggy bank money for a book fair purchase. Toss the kids into the backyard and give them freezies. Eat a cheese string. Update this list. Referee kids with pool noodle light sabers (Not in the face!)

4:45 - Begin making dinner (chicken stir-fry). Referee kids outside. (You can't boss someone into playing with you.)

5pm - Mr Lannis comes home. Have him hand books out to the four kids outside (GAH! Why can’t they occupy themselves?!). Put on rice to go with stir-fry. Have R come in and practice spelling words. Discuss day with Mr Lannis.

5:25 - Sit down and update this list.

5:30 - Call the kids in to wash their hands. Dish out plates of stir-fry and rice for them. Grab plates for Mr Lannis and I. Sit out on the back step in the sunshine to chat and eat, while the kids eat at the table.

6pm - Clean kitchen. Sit down with Mr Lannis to go over property prices online and compare with our own house. Talk about possible upgrades and renovations.

6:30 - Sweep floor. Referee kids (why are we hiding each other’s Lego men?!). Have them tidy up the toy area. Fold laundry from dryer.

7pm - Send four kidlets outside to play in the backyard. Chat with Mr Lannis about how our new hot water tank is set at the hottest possible and is not hot enough. Google Chef Ramsay memes to share with Mr Lannis (he’s not online much and got a kick out of it. My favourite is here.).

7:07 - Plan to fertilize lawn this evening once after school care kids are picked up.

7:10 - Update this list. Read this article and be shocked that a racist tradition is still alive and well in a Georgia small town. (Seriously?! And thanks again for sharing, Uno!)

7:15 - Update the blog post for this list, including links.

7:21 - Go to garage and organize fertilizer gear. Tell kids to tidy up the backyard.

7:25 - After school care kids' parent shows up for pickup.

7:30 - Go to basement to discover Mr Lannis on the phone with the hot water heater company to get to the bottom of the not hot enough problem.

7:35 - Send boys upstairs to put on PJs and begin getting ready for bed. Discover Mr Lannis has set up service appointment for hot water heater for Monday (good).

7:35 - 8:14 - Fertilize lawn while listening to Audible's The Three Musketeers on the Kindle. Come in, change clothes, wash hands, wash face for bedtime. Wash feet (dirty feet on clean sheets makes me bugnuts). Say goodnight to boys—Mr Lannis has handled their bedtime.

8:15 - Join Mr Lannis on main floor. He's turned on season four of The Muppet Show while waiting for me (the Debbie Harry episode).

8:25 - Watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

9:30 - Turn off TV and lights, call Moggie in from outside, lock doors and head upstairs. Brush teeth, put on PJs, read more of Kiss Chronicles.

10:02 - Sleep. ::sigh::

Monday, May 13, 2013

Inner Ninja

A happy thought for Monday...

This song has been spinning in my head lately.

A lot.

Why yes, I have found my inner ninja... have you?

Friday, May 10, 2013

All Dressed Up

I'm not a dress kind of girl.

Meaning, I don't own dresses for everyday wear. No skirts, either. Hell, if it weren't for capris, it'd be extremely rare for my calves to see sunlight (as it is, they glow in the dark pretty freaking well. I blame Canada in general. Try not to be blinded by the upcoming photo...).

And yet, the last four weekends I have worn dresses.

Like, serious dresses.

(Clockwise from upper left: Mr Lannis and I at a wedding, April 27th; myself as a bridesmaid, April 13th; back in my wedding dress for the potluck May 4th; dressed as Elmindreda for the JordanCon costume contest April 20th.)

Mr Lannis laughed at me, saying, "You're not one to wear a dress often, but when you wear a dress, you REALLY wear a dress..."

Well, shit. He's right.

(Of course he is... he married me. Heh.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013


And then this showed up in my news feed...

There are several things wrong with this ad...

1. Facebook seems to think I'm fat (eff you, Facebook!).

2. The improper use of the possessive pronoun of "its" instead of the contraction of "it has" makes my inner Grammar Nazi foam at the mouth.

3. The creator of this ad has clearly appropriated a photo of Shania Twain, and as a Canadian, this makes me snarl impolite words. (She's ours, yo.)

4. That Facebook's algorithms have deemed me the proper audience of this atrocity is insulting, period.

Dick move, Facebook. Dick. Move.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

CURIO by Cara McKenna - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published October 5th, 2011, on] 

Rating: 4.5/5 - Writing down the title so I can recommend it to everyone.

Title: Curio

Author: Cara McKenna

Format: ebook

Published: 2011

Genre: erotic romance

Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave Publishing

Landed in my hands: purchased myself


Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a male prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.

When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly’s intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.

But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and talented body. He’s a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings of pleasurable education, Caroly’s interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous…


Here’s a secret that’s no longer a secret: I like to read what I affectionately call smut. Yep.

I also have no shame, so I’m bragging about it here.

What makes good smut? Well, it’s not the sex, if that’s what you think. Surprising, yes?

Good smut is a difficult thing to pin down. It's not like other genres, where you can deconstruct typical elements and make an opinion. Based on the presence of certain criteria — or lack thereof — you can decide whether a story is well-written or slap-dash.

When it comes to sex, though, the difference is that everyone has different tastes. “No kidding,” you say. Certain diction might sound alluring and sexual to some readers, while at the same time completely put off others. It's like the act itself: everyone has a preference, and what some folks find hot, others find disgusting. To say word choice is tricky is an understatement.

(Seriously. If you haven’t heard the debate about the word “moist,” I suggest you Google “moist word” and have at it; the intense aversion is quite a phenomenon.)

For the record, McKenna missed my own personal list of "oh, hell, that is not sexy," when it comes to words. But I can't speak for everyone.

Anyhow, not here to talk about diction — though that can make or break good smut, for sure.

No, what makes good smut (in my humble opinion in this little corner of the Internet) is character. If an author creates characters I can care about, multidimensional characters I feel could walk around the corner any minute, well... then I care whether or not those characters get laid.

So you know what Curio is? Curio is one of those rare stories that, despite being within the taboo-ridden realm of erotica, is so well done that I have to out myself as a smut-lover just to spread the word.

Curio is intelligent. And sexy as hell, of course! Didier and Caroly are characters of depth, with identifiable issues and distinct voices. They share an interesting dynamic through Caroly's filter, and as a reader I am pulled by her insecurities as well as her wistful naiveté, even as she reminds herself that Didier's charms are a transaction. I particularly enjoy how she reduces their arrangement in order to justify it:

This was a date. A meal, drinks, the promise of foreplay if not sex. I didn’t let myself diminish it, knowing I was paying for his company as surely as I’d purchased the wine we were enjoying. He’s extraordinary, that way. He doesn’t trick you into believing this is something other than what it is. He merely makes what it is a thing of substance. I’m buying Didier as I might a gourmet meal or an evening of live music, a fleeting indulgence. Does it really matter that I paid for any of them, that I didn’t prepare the food or compose the music; that others could enjoy the pleasures if they too were willing to pay for them? Was it really all some New World hang-up, the demand for permanence and ownership and exclusivity? I hope so.    

Caroly is intimidated by the newness of shared sexuality, and while she learns much from Didier, he in turn learns from her, as well. Their story is at turns hot and heartbreaking in its compassion, honesty, and simplicity.

It’s human.

Truly, I’d give this novella top marks, except for some flips in tense and questionable punctuation that pulled me out of the narrative — and even those tiny blips were small enough that I'm still questioning my own pickiness.

Worried you’ll be caught reading smut? Handy thing: it’s an e-book. If you’ve an e-reader you can download the compatible format for your device, or it comes in a .pdf file that you can easily read on your computer. So check it out. Do it. You'll be intrigued. If I can unabashedly wave my smut-reading flag, you can at least discreetly click a link and discover a well-written story that, while about sex, is also about so much more.

Risk it.