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.

Best of The Blogosphere

office-625893_640We’ve scoured the Internet and brought you some of our favourite posts from the blogosphere. Do you have something to share? A must-see blog, a must-read article or a must-share video clip? Let us know about it! Send us an email or leave a message in the comment section.

From Beth-Anne:

My life with my three boys can best be described as a whirlwind. They never stop moving. They’re loud. They’re physical. Someone bleeds every day. I once visited the emergency room three times in one month (one visit per boy) and by coincidence had the same doctor twice. He informed me that I should have purchased a monthly parking pass. I would have saved myself money. Holly Pevzner wrote 10 things I wish I’d known about raising a boy but my heady first-time pregnant self would’ve never heeded the advice. Sometimes you just have to live it.

Last year I discovered What If Famous Paintings Were Photoshopped to Look Like Fashion Models? Lauren Wade took iconic paintings featuring nude females and morphed their bodies to reflect the current body image en vogue. My reaction surprised me – what do you think?

And while we are talking women’s bodies, Christine Burke writes about a hilarious conversation she had with her toddler about her naked body. Oh, from the mouths of babes!

To finish off my round up, in the spirit of humour month, here’s Jerry Seinfeld’s take on trying to sleep with kids in your bed.

From Nathalie:

If, like me, you cannot get enough of children’s books, check out this list of 100 Great Children’s Books from The Guardian.  There were many on here I’d never seen.

If you are a mother of a teen or nearly teen, I can’t recommend this article on parenting teens by Rachel Cusk enough.  Her memoir of early motherhood, A Life’s Work, is one of my all-time favourite reads.

Be forewarned, there is adult content in this next link, which takes “book lover” to its literal extreme.  An animated felt short film set in the famed Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company in which books come to life.

April is Poetry Month, and if you live in Toronto, you can locate yourself poetically with this poetry map from the Toronto Public Library.

And here’s a poem about motherhood by Chantel Lavoie that’s not yet on the map: “The Lane.”  It riffs on this poem by bpNichol that’s inscribed into the pavement on bpNichol Lane.

A Parenting Trial

I thought for a good while about what I’d like to post for today and realized I couldn’t do much better than to re-post an anecdote I wrote almost five years ago (five years ago!).  I’m not sure how to introduce it, except to say that sometimes life’s like that, and to give thanks to my husband’s robust sense of humour, which helped him through this and many other trials.  And, of course, if you have your own, please do tell!

~~~~~

It happened on the way to the cottage.  We got stuck in traffic, as we often do, in congestion worse than usual.  Also worse than usual was the mood in the car, due to bickering between my husband and me.  We were headed for a long, long drive.

My husband tried to pacify himself with an extra large coffee at the Tim Hortons drive-thru.  I don’t like coffee but used to take a mouthful or two when he would douse his Tims with double sugar and double cream.  Lately my husband had cut these indulgences out though, so he alone made short work of the bitter blackness.

As we continued to idle in the middle lane going pretty much nowhere, our then 4 year old son announced that he had to pee.  No one can really agree on whether it’s better to have boys or girls (thank God), but there are indisputable advantages to sons when it comes to peeing in a pinch.  Seizing the day, and the fact that we were barely moving, I unhooked the boy from his car seat.  In inspiration I grabbed the empty Tim Horton’s coffee cup as a urinal while he stood up in the car and peed into it.  My son silently followed all of my instructions with the acquiescence of the child aware he is in the midst of unusual and interesting permissiveness.  When he was done, I snapped the plastic lid back on the cup, returned it to the cup holder, and re-buckled my son, feeling pretty satisfied at the efficiency of it all.

As the going nowhere waxed on, my husband got bored.  He pulled out one of the harmonicas he keeps in the car.  He likes to play them when he’s driving.  I think it’s unsafe driving practice to play an instrument while driving, but my husband ignores me and it’s not illegal and I have to pick my battles.  That’s why we have a full set of harmonicas in the car.  Except that it’s rarely full.  There is usually at least one harmonica missing because the kids love to play on them, and freely I allow it, and reluctantly so does my husband, and somehow the little instruments don’t always make it back to where they belong.  And when they don’t, my husband blames me for it.  It’s kind of The Harmonica Issue.

Anyway, on this motionless car trip, during which my husband and I have given up trying to talk to each other, he tried to entertain himself by making a little music.  I was looking out the passenger window, but still saw his arm lift to bring the little silver instrument to his lips.  I heard his deep inhale.

But the expectant brassy blast of sound didn’t come.  Instead, flipping his head from left to right, my husband was sputtering in disgust.  There was some old mushed up peanut butter and jam residue in the harmonica, and he had sucked it right into his mouth.

I knew he wanted to blame me for this incident (if I didn’t give the harmonicas to the children then they wouldn’t be able to input their lunches into them for later resurrection, blah, blah, blah).  But since he wasn’t talking to me, he couldn’t.  So he said nothing and I continued to look out the window, trying not to laugh.

Then, suddenly, from the corner of my eye I saw his arms waving  all over the place.  I turned to look.  My husband’s face was red, eyes darting.  There were more sputtering noises, louder and more dramatic than before.  Also a good bit of cursing coming from him.  His window went down, Ben stuck his head far out of it, and spat and spewed and then spewed some more.

He had tried to cleanse his mouth of the peanut butter and jam residue in his mouth.  By drinking from the Tim Horton’s coffee cup.

Post printed with reluctant permission of husband.

Funny Things My Kids Said: Holiday Edition

Nathalie: No more screen time today, guys.

Middlest‎: But I haven’t had any screen time.

Nathalie: What do call all that time playing the Wii games you got for Christmas?

Middlest: That’s not screen time. That’s gift using.

::

Nathalie: Can you plan something fun to do with your cousins when they come over?

Eldest: Does eating count?

::

Nathalie: Someone has to finish the blueberries.

Eldest: I volunteer as tribute!

::

Littlest: Can I sit in your seat for dinner?

Nathalie: What’s so special about my seat?  Why do you guys fight over it?

Middlest: It’s got mummy love.

::

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter and Passover Holiday weekend.

 

Iphone photos Sept 2015 1027

Tickle Your Funny Bone!

I just spent a four-hour flight re-reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I laughed out loud and it felt great. I felt great.

There is considerable scientific proof that laughing actually increases hormones that alleviate depression and help boost immunity while simultaneously decreasing cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. In fact, this study by the American Physiological Society says that even anticipating a laugh can decrease our stress hormones. This is probably why just being in the company of some of my quick-witted friends that I feel more relaxed and overall happiness.

I discovered there is such a thing as laughter yoga where instructors facilitate laughter workshops and participants learn deep breathing and stretching while busting a gut! The pictures alone make me want to try it and the benefits touted are impressive: increased energy levels, decreased stress, increased motivation, and better problem-solving abilities, to name a few.

This month we are dedicated to making you chuckle, giggle, snicker and hopefully even elicit a howl or two with a line-up of posts including a some science-y humour, a curated list of funnies circulating the Blogosphere and a week of back-to-back posts that are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.

Maybe because it’s spring which tends to connote re-birth or the fact that my nephew is scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, but babies has been on my brain. I will be sharing some of my favourite nursery artwork courtesy of Minted and posting images to Instagram from the DIY baby shower I helped to plan.  If you’re not already following us, you’re missing out.  Last week Nathalie shared some great finds from the One of a Kind Show and the snaps of her daily walks really are stunning.

We didn’t forget about moms! Be sure to bookmark our round up of Mother’s Day gifts on April 17th that include everything from luxe goods to the simple and sweet.

Before signing off, It seems only fitting that I share my middlest’s favourite joke on this, his 7th birthday.

Happy birthday Cakes . . . I love you soooooo much, to bits and pieces.

Potted Potter: A Great Dose of Fun

potted-potterOur posts for January are about health, and if laughter is the best medicine, you can get yourself a great dose of fun by going along to see Potted Potter.  You will have to hurry, though; the show is in its last week for its run in Toronto.

Beth-Anne, Carol and I took our boys to see the show in December, and I have to tell you that it was one of the highlights of my lead-up to Christmas.  “Attend” is my word of the year for 2015, but of course, I had had the word in mind for a while before writing about it for the blog.  Writing this blog has brought us many wonderful things, including friendships for which I am eternally grateful, but another thing I’m grateful for is Opportunity.  We are invited to interesting events and occasions, and I will be honest and tell you that I weigh each and every invitation very carefully.  It takes a lot to get me out of my routine and my happy place (pajamas, bed, book).  When the opportunity came to see Potted Potter smack dab in the middle of the chaos that characterizes the weeks in mid-December, I thought long and hard about accepting; I think we all did.  Like you, we all had a lot on our plates, but I wanted to get an early start on my word of the year, and I chose to attend.

I’m so glad I did.  It was such a gift to witness not only my nine year old’s belly laughs, but Carol’s and Beth-Anne’s too!  We all had a hoot, and you really do not have to be a Harry Potter expert to enjoy the show.

The premise of the show is that two actors act out all seven books in the Harry Potter series in 70 minutes.  It’s a fast-paced physical comedy that brings into play humour both broad and subtle.  There’s a straight man and a funny man, there is a wild and wacky frenzy as the two attempt to act out as many of the major roles as possible.  Unexpected costumes, props and choreography add much to the fun.  There are jokes pitched high and low, and the actors appeared to improvise references to everything from Frozen to Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade and disastrous Mayor Ford.  The jokes come at you a mile a minute, and while the kids are still laughing at the ones pitched to them, the adults are laughing at the subsequent allusions pitched to them.  There is even audience participation, as members of the audience are invited to participate in a Quidditch game, while two kids get invited up onto the stage.

Before the show, you can order a butter beer from the bar (the recipe is secret, but they will alert you to possible allergens).  The lobby and the sidewalk outside the Panasonic Theatre are quite small, and it felt very crowded very quickly, so you’d be well advised to arrive and take your seats early.   It’s just steps from the subway, so getting there and home was a breeze for those of us on the TTC.  Parking was not easy to find, so, again, arrive early to give yourself wiggle room.

I had one very special night with Middlest, and we went out for dinner after the show, just the two of us, and it felt like just the right way to kick off the winter holiday.  It would also be a great way to kick off the new year.  Here’s to attending!

Potted Potter is at the Panasonic Theater, 651 Yonge Street.  It runs until January 11, 2015.

You can get tickets here.

Ross Petty’s Cinderella – A Great Gift of Experience

photo 2 (3)

There’s a reason why Ross Petty‘s holiday pantomimes are a treasured annual tradition (their 19th year!) there’s nothing quite like it for geared-to-children but still lots-for-the-adults theatrical fun.  I was delighted when the Yummy Mummy Club gifted us tickets to this year’s production, Cinderella, The Gags to Riches Family Musical – I knew it would deliver lots of high-energy entertainment and that my three boys would totally enjoy it.

It’s not everyday that a parent can, with complete comfort and a warm sense of welcome, take an 8, 6 and 3 year old to a two hour show at the glorious Elgin Theatre.  This alone was a huge treat, but there’s a lot more to this particular kind of adventure.  If you’re looking for a special holiday present, one that focuses on experiences that last rather than things that don’t, check out the show.  Here’s why:

1.  The show takes the art of silliness to new heights.  There are few tones of distress in the show (which is nice for sensitive viewers) largely because the villains are preposterous.  Patty Sullivan and Cleopatra Williams portray the punky step-sisters as perfectly pestering and Ross Petty himself is in top form as Cinderella’s evil stepmother.  Together with Dan Chameroy as fairy godmother Plumbum, the two actors offer strapping renditions of these maternal characters – their towering, absurd presence on the stage provides a backdrop of humour even when they’re not centre stage.

2.  There’s magic too.  Spoiler alert, okay?  There’s a lot of goofy, slapstick humour in the show, but there is also some stardust.  The apex of these is Cinderella’s transportation to the ball.  Two small white horses pull a spherical carriage onstage, and it really is an apparition, a moment of wonder.

3.  The show is Canadian!  Ross Petty purposely focuses on great Canadian talent, including the inimitable Danielle Wade, star of CBC’s Over the Rainbow and the Mirvish production of The Wizard of Oz.  Also, the show is set in Toronto and full of references to our great city – the great ball is held at none other than Casa Loma.  Lots of jokes poke fun at local politics and culture (pretty sure I caught a poke at Ford Nation, among others).

4.  There’s something for everyone.  In addition to the adult humour just mentioned, there’s lots here for the boys as well as the girls in the audience.  The princess theme is still there but muted, and the gags are for everyone.  Recall the evil step-mother and the fairy godmother when considering the dissolution of boundaries, which the show does left, right, and centre.  Did I mention that Cinderella is trying to save her father’s Farmer’s Market from her step-family’s plans to overtake it with processed hypno-chips?

5.  Children are VIPs here.  Not only do you not have to worry about shushing your kids, you’ll be encouraging them to cheer and boo!  Petty-the-stepmother cannot take two steps on stage without being booed down, and responds to the audience for some direct theatrical interaction.  A few lucky kids climbed onstage and were interviewed for the show.  Some of the younger audience members were flopping around in their chairs, especially after intermission, and it was just fine.  Also, booster seats are available downstairs at the coat check – two of my kids used those (although one ended up on my lap in the end – also just fine (no one’s view was blocked)).

6.  You Get to Introduce Your Kids to the Theatre.  The Elgin Theatre is gorgeous and grand.  It was not designed with children in mind, and the opportunity to expose our kids to that kind of venue is a big thing.  I wish I’d taken more time to point out details of the theatre – the balconies, where the orchestra sits, the way the curtains fall, the art on the ceilings – but I was outnumbered three to one so I’m not going to dwell.  Even so, my boys knew they were somewhere special; their eyes were wide open and took everything in.

I watched my kids during the show (of course).  My favourite moment of the night was when my six year old tugged my sleeve and then clapped his hands lightly together with the tips of his fingers pointed upward.  This is my theatre clap,” he explained.

That moment, along with my eight year old proclaiming on the way home that he’d like to see Cinderella again, holds the essence of the night for me.  It was fun and entertaining, and it was a beginning.  If my boys go to the theatre more often because of it – and dare I hope, maybe even sometimes with me – it really will be the best show in town.

Cinderella, The Gags to Riches Family Musical! will be live on stage at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto until January 4, 2015.  Tickets range from $85 to $27 and are available online and through the Elgin Theatre box office.  Special discount codes available for Yummy Mummy Club members here

I Dream of Clones

Anne Taintor is my hands-down favourite satirist of motherhood and the life of a woman.  (Seriously, click that link and look at her gallery of images.  Time well spent.)Anne-Taintor-Cocktail-Napkins-I-dreamed-my-whole-house-was-clean

Sadly, she has not yet captured my dream with her witty one-liners: clones for the whole family.

It’s that time of year when folks are asking, “What would you/the kids/your husband like for Christmas?”

I’m sorely lacking in imagination with my answers because, frankly, I want for nothing but time.

How can you make my dreams come true?  Clone me.  Better yet, clone me, my husband and my three kids multiple times so that one husband can drive one kid to hockey while the same kid stays home and gets his homework done and the same husband drives a different kid to hockey and I stay home and supervise homework and attend both hockey games and the third kid’s basketball game and I cook a huge brunch and we all sleep in and enjoy a pajama day.

We have a lot on our plates, but you know what?  We don’t want to give any of it up.  The kids can’t wait to get out the door to hockey, whether it’s morning or night, and while the enthusiasm might be slightly more muted for the academic extracurriculars, they like those, too.  They aren’t complaining about being overscheduled.

Overscheduled is what we appear to be when you look at the bulging calendar, but the word implies an unwelcome burden and zombie kids but none of what we choose to stuff the calendar with is unwelcome and the kids are thriving.  Our lives are bountiful and filled with welcome plenty.  I struggle so with acknowledging all that welcome plenty at the same time as feeling frazzled from so much running around.  I am a homebody, and I crave my quiet nights, but I do not want to say no.  I do not want to trim or cut or axe or delete.  I want us all home and sitting around the dinner table together and I want us all tucked into our beds on time and I want time for my kids to really get pleasurably absorbed in a project and I want them to play epic games of Minecraft/tag/cards/whatever without watching the clock and I want us all at the rink, four cheering on the fifth, and I want to experience that fabled feeling of being in the moment when the moments only seem to come hurtling at me at 100 mph.

So, what is my dream for Christmas?  The impossible dream: I dream of clones.

Yoga With Kids

270Along with pretty much everything else, yoga has been on a hiatus lately and I’ve been feeling it.  But I fit in it yesterday.  I was with my youngest babe, and for whatever reason, he suggested it.  It’s been a good long while since we’ve done any yoga and honestly I don’t even know how he would know to ask for it.  But I’ve been meaning to get back to it anyway, and there’s no time like the present, so in popped the video.

I did this even though in exactly six minutes I had to pick up my older boys from school, but I figured six minutes is a huge improvement on the nothing I’ve been doing, and my body would benefit from anything.

And then I had the happy (and kind of surprising) experience of mentioning it to the boys after school and hearing:  “Yeah!  Yoga!  Let’s do yoga!  Yoga, yoga!!”

So we traipsed up the stairs and into the bedroom where the computer is and got started.  There is absolutely no room for four of us; there’s barely room for two.  We squished two (sometimes three) on the floor, and one (sometimes two) on the bed.  Yes, my children did yoga on the bed.

Yoga with the kids is also more vocal than when I do it alone.  I heard:

I’m the best at this!

Is this supposed to hurt?

What does she mean take 5 breaths?  I already took 5 breaths!

My feet smell too bad.  I’m too close to my feet.

There’s space right here on Mommy!  See?

Who wants to play the game where we run and bump each other?

Meditation is not the name of the game when I do yoga with the kids, but it’s hard to imagine enjoying it more.  I am in awe of what practicing yoga can do for the body, mind and spirit, and yet there really is something to be said for a good belly laugh (or six).  I’m thankful for all of it.

The Eras of Childhood, As Measured by Trips to the E.R.

doctor-563428_640A light-hearted look at our trips to the emergency room, written while touching wood and counting our blessings that we can laugh about them now.  4Mothers would like to say that we are extremely grateful to be able to take our emergencies to The Hospital for Sick Children.  Every time I go in there, I feel so proud and so blessed to be a Canadian tax payer!

The Era of Croup, infancy

“Who are you and what have you done with my baby?!” you say to the seal who seems to have possessed your barking infant.  Off you rush to the E.R., because it’s 3 a.m. and you have a seal in the crib, but apparently, this is so benign it does not even require medical attention.  “Walk around outside [in -20 degree cold] for a few minutes,” says Doctor.  The cold air will, indeed, fix it.

The Era of the Ear Infection, infancy to 3

It’s Friday night.  Your child has had a cold all week, and it’s gotten steadily worse.  Now that the doctor’s office is closed, his little ear canals have filled up and festered, his fever has spiked and he is screaming blue murder every time he goes horizontal.  You know it’s an ear infection.  The pharmacist knows it’s an ear infection.  Neither of you can do anything about it without a prescription from a doctor.  He will finally fall asleep in the ER.

The Era of Allergies, toddler to school age

The definition of an anaphylactic allergy is that two or more of the body’s systems react violently to the allergen.  Skin.  Respiratory.  Digestive.  If you are lucky, you will rush your little lobster to the ER, both of you covered in vomit, and pray that you have enough diapers to get through the visit.

The Era of Poisoning, toddler to school age

Rhubarb leaf.  Who knew?

Concussion, school age

Head meets ice through helmet.  Headache and vomiting ensue.  Get thee to the ER.  Always better to be safe than sorry.

The Era of Broken Bones, school age

You will go into the ER, for example, with Eldest, who has a broken bone in his hand, and while you wait, a lovely, eager medical student will zip over to ask you to fill out a questionnaire about Trampoline Safety.  You will say yes because that’s the kind of Helpful Person that you are.  You will fill out the questionnaire then read the safety guidelines that she hands you informing you that, actually, Canadian pediatricians are asking for a ban on all backyard trampolines.  You will say to her, in all certainty, that as a mother of three boys, “A trampoline will be the reason for my next visit to the ER.”  You will be right.

Did I miss any?