Hopping, Alright, Gobbling Down The Bunny Trail

Easter morning. A time of wonder, excitement and delight.

Except in our house that one year …

Allow me to introduce you to our dear Oscar.

Oscar hiding in the bushes http://kellylmckenzie.com/hopping-alright-gobbling-down-the-bunny-trail/

They’ll NEVER find me here!

I chose to post this particular picture of him first because it encapsulates his personality. Perfectly.

“I’m so clever to have dug this pit right in the garden on this hot day. Not only does it keep me cool, it keeps me TOTALLY hidden.”

Uh huh. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

I could write pages on his antics but for the purposes of this post I’ll just divulge that he was full of mischief.

Oscar wrapped in electrical cord http://kellylmckenzie.com/hopping-alright-gobbling-down-the-bunny-trail/


Why yes, that IS the extension cord for the outside Christmas lights wrapped around our dear boy’s body. No, we had nothing to do with it. We just put him outside for simply five minutes tops … and he managed to get tangled up all by his little lonesome.

You’re laughing now, aren’t you? Yes and that’s just the weensiest snippet of life with our unforgettable Oscar.

Ok. Now a little background colour to that Easter morning of 2010.

The McKenzie household is blessed at Easter time. Not only does the Easter Bunny leave two bunny trails inside the house he also leaves two outside. Some might believe there are two Easter Bunnies at work however of course one can never be sure.

As this post is about Oscar (who always slept inside) I’ll focus on the two inside bunny trails today. These trails, which consist of a few … alright dozens … ok zillions of foil wrapped chocolate eggs, meander from the foot of each of my two children’s beds. They are scattered lovingly placed at random intervals in parallel lines that float from their bedrooms, down the hall and off throughout the rest of the house. Each one ends far from where it began with the delightful totally expected surprise of a large solid chocolate bunny. Milk chocolate for my daughter and white chocolate for my son. God help me if they follow the incorrect trails and end up with the wrong bunny.

Hopping, Alright, Gobbling Down The Bunny Trail.

It’s Easter morning 2010. The sun is pouring through the blinds of my bedroom window. Huh.This is unusual. Normally by now my two would not only be already awake and have decimated the inside bunny trails but they’d be outside delightedly snatching up the eggs scattered there. I stretch and lie back on the pillow. How delightful. There’s hope. They are truly growing up.

“Happy Easter everybody!” my 14-year-old son bellows calls out from his room next to mine.

“Morning! Happy Easter!” chimes his 15-year-old sister in immediate response.

Yes. This calling out bit is certainly different. Within seconds their feet hit the ground and both come bouncing into my room.

“He came! The Easter Bunny came!” they proclaim with intentional childlike euphoria.

Well that’s more like it! Assuming they are going to zip back for the impossibly small  adorable Easter baskets that always appear miraculously overnight at the foot of their beds, I whip back my duvet.

“Hey, let’s just savour this for a bit Mom. The best is yet to come.”

Both of them fall into my bed and pull up the duvet.  What? Why aren’t they hopping, alright, gobbling down the bunny trail? Did the Easter Bunny swap my children with adults? Good heavens this is quite different from normal. I’ll take it though. What a concept; staying in bed, my feet toasty and warm. Pure heaven on Easter morning.

“Hey Mom. Do you remember Oscar’s first Easter and that note we left for the Easter Bunny?” my son pipes up.

How could I not? It was a treasure.

Dear Easter Bunny, Please don’t be scared if you hear barking. We have a new puppy. He might bark at you...”

The funny thing is Oscar didn’t. In fact he barked so rarely, we had a running tally of the times he barked. It didn’t reach 30.

As we share a quiet laugh over the memory of the note I decide to not tell them I kept it; they’ll want to SEE IT RIGHT NOW! Later. I’ll tell them later.

“Hard to believe that was 10 years ago.”

In some ways it is but in many ways it isn’t. Our dear lad’s appearance for one. The fur around his eyes and snout are getting really rather white.

Oscar with his Canadian maple leaf scarf. http://kellylmckenzie.com/hopping-alright-gobbling-down-the-bunny-trail/And yes, the fact that we are all lying in bed and not hopping, alright, gobbling down the bunny trail is a sharp reminder as well.

Perhaps I’m not alone in thinking this. The room falls silent.

Then I hear a little something. Out in the hall? No. Can’t be. We are all here tucked up cozy and warm.

Squeeeeeek… snuffle…

“Hey did you guys here that?” pipes up my ever vigilant, always on top of things daughter in perfect timing with her brother’s paralytic “SSHHHHHH!

Squeekkkk … snuffle … crunchhhh … squeekkkk … snuffle … snuffle … crunccchhhh … crunccchhh … What the? Oscar? NO! It can’t be! This is his tenth Easter. He knows the rules. And he’s shut safely away in the kitchen. Surely.

Without one word the three of us tumble out of bed and race for the hallway. The two neatly aligned trails are non-existent. Instead of 50 eggs there are but ten scattered about the whole the length of the hall. The previously shut kitchen door is ajar. How? We dash into the living room. Oh my. Only the armchairs offer up chocolate eggs.  Slimy, crinkly shiny remnants of foil litter the carpet. The hardwood floor is randomly spotted with wettish globular blobs of light brown drool. A dining room chair, as my mother would charmingly say, is lying ass over tea kettle. In short, the room is far from how the Easter Bunny surely left it last night. The creator of this purely angelic Easter vision? He’s curled up by the dining room table the picture of innocence; his audible burp surprising only himself. Yes. Golden boy Oscar. He’s had a merry time hopping,alright, gobbling down the bunny trail. At least 45 chocolate eggs are toast. Foil wrappers and all.

Need you worry about the amount of chocolate foiled eggs left for my two? Nope. Thanks to the closed door at the top of the stairs the two bunny trails (and the two solid chocolate bunnies also) are still preserved safely in the basement. And there’s a wealth of eggs yet to be discovered outside.

Chocolate foiled Easter eggs http://kellylmckenzie.com/hopping-alright-gobbling-down-the-bunny-trail/

Should you be worried about the amount of chocolate our dog has consumed? Absolutely not. He’s raided my darlings’ Hallowe’en loot more times than we can count with no ill effects whatsoever.


Oscar coming inside http://kellylmckenzie.com/hopping-alright-gobbling-down-the-bunny-trail/

“Heh, heh! Got away with that little feast…”

Not quite my boy. Any attempt to have me forget your debauched behaviour is bound to be foiled. Without going into too much detail let me just say you’ll leave constant reminders of your Easter morning feast out on our walks for the next few days at least…

Enough about Oscar and his hopping, alright, gobbling down the bunny trail. I’m curious about you. Have you ever experienced such an Easter morning delight? Or does your Easter Bunny trail remain perfectly unfoiled? Is your pet the perfect angel or do you also have or know a devil like our golden boy? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Let’s try posting again!

For those of you who mightn’t have been able to open my fresh off the post piece I invite you to click here. Sorry about that! Gremlins at work!


Mom taking photos of carved logs at Spanish Banks http://kellylmckenzie.com/the-importance-of-a-curious-mind/


The Importance of A Curious Mind

“Why are you going this way? We’ll be late!”

Oops. I’ve chosen to drive not along busy Fourth Avenue but a quieter residential street. Mom is decidedly frustrated with me. Again. She’s not fond when I detour from the plan.

We are popping by Public Furniture/Urban Trees – a temporary art exhibition down at the beach. On her last visit the “lovely Portuguese interpreter” told my mother there was going to be a Special Ceremony today at 2:00. Mom doesn’t want to be miss it. She’s hoping the mayor turns up.

It’s not that she wants to meet him. She wants him to recognize the importance of the artwork which will spur him to exert his influence to keep the pieces on site. The pieces? Gigantic logs and root balls of local cedar, maple and oak that have been transported to the beach and by the wielding of chain saws magically carved into mammoth “sculptural furnitures” by the visiting Brazilian carver Hugo Franca.

Once we arrive at the beach Mom is entranced. I’m not in the least surprised.This isn’t her first visit. It is her third. In a week.

The Importance Of A Curious Mind

While there’s no sign of the mayor there is a good turn out. People of all ages are crawling over the creations.

“Oohh isn’t this wonderful! The rope that separated us from the pieces is gone. Let’s go explore!”

She’s off. I point my key at my car to lock it and scurry off to keep up.

Mom getting ready to sit on carved log http://kellylmckenzie.com/the-importance-of-a-curious-mind/

Your cedar throne awaits, my lady

She beetles over to the one piece that miraculously is vacant.

“He was working on this just the other day. Oh smell! Isn’t that glorious?”

It is. The air is redolent with cedar shavings. After posing for a quick picture her mind is off and running.

“Now you simply must meet the Portuguese interpreter who translates for Hugo. Lovely woman. Is that her?”

Having not met her I’ve no idea. A woman waves a spritely hand at my mom and breezes through the crowds towards us.

Mom with interpreter http://kellylmckenzie.com/the-importance-of-a-curious-mind/

Proof positive of the importance of a curious mind.

In previous conversations Mom has learned the artist and his entourage will be here for just over a week, they are staying in a small motel far from the beach and the interpreter normally sells his pieces at one of his two galleries in Brazil. Today the two engage in an animated conversation about the successful turnout and the probability of most of the five pieces going to “live” in neighbouring cities.

“Oh the mayor should be here. We need to keep one of these here! They’re absolute treasures.” My mother is adamant.

We don’t just chat with her new friend. Of course not. Older friends are here as well.

Mom and Granya chatting http://kellylmckenzie.com/the-importance-of-a-curious-mind/

Mom explains the event to her friend – a first time visitor.

Yes, it turns out that Mom knows a great many of the people here on this glorious Sunday afternoon at the beach. One of them insists she introduce her to Hugo Franca. She’s surprised they’ve not already met. So am I. Mom grins in response and eagerly heads over to a knot of people just up the beach.

Mom being introduced to Brazilian carver http://kellylmckenzie.com/the-importance-of-a-curious-mind/

Introductions commence.

As I watch her shake hands with the artist, a man I’d never heard of until this morning, it occurs to me that I’m witnessing something rather special.  Once again my mother teaches me an important lesson. The importance of a curious mind. How did she learn about this exhibit? Was it in the paper, on the news or on her computer? I’ve no idea. However once her curiosity was sparked she found  a way to get there (she stopped driving seven years ago)  and then learned all she could about it and the artist. Of course she made new friends in the process; she always does. In short my mother continues to live a rich and remarkable life. At 91.

She toddles back to me five minutes later her face alive with delight.

“What fun. I’m so glad you saw this with your own eyes Kel. Now we can go home for a nice cup of tea.”

Thanks Mom. Last week it was blossoms, this week it’s sculpture. Any idea what’s on for next week?

Enough about my mom and the importance of a curious mind. I’m curious about you! What sparks your interest? Have you heard of Hugo Franca? Are you always in the know about local goings on or do you rely on the curiosity of others? Do you know anyone else like my nonagenarian mother? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Embarrassingly Unfortunate Rape Alarm Incident

If I could go back in time it would be to 1986. Once there I’d react differently. I’d read the instructions first instead of just tossing my mother’s charming rape alarm gift into my purse. Why? So I could blessedly avoid that embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident.

Allow me to recreate the event so that you can cringe along with me understand why I would do this.

It’s 1986 and I’m training for my first marathon. I’m also on a buying trip in Southeast Asia with my mother for work. Long story short: I’ll be running alone on unfamiliar streets at the coolest part of the day. Dawn. Mom is worried for my safety and after “exhaustive research” has come up with what she considers the perfect solution.

“A discreet and shrillingly loud personal safety alarm designed for easy placement in sports bags, purses, belt loops etc.”

Really? At least it’s small. I manage a contrived smile and a token cursory glance, then chuck it into my purse. Where it will sit forgotten for days. Until we hit Bangkok.

Embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident.

“I’m so excited you’re finally going to meet Pilat and his lovely wife, Kelly. They are the gentlest, kindest people.”

Ok I must add a little more colour so you can truly appreciate the depths of my impending embarrassment. On first impressions Thailand in 1986 is a peaceful, gentle country. Elephants still roam the remote highways up north, saffron robed monks beam serenely from their blankets on grassy knolls and the beautiful, glossy haired women walk gracefully arm in arm. Life is beauty, calmness and serenity.

Palm tree lined sandy beach. http://kellylmckenzie.com/that-embarrasingly-unfortunate-rape-alarm-incident/

Big breath in. Hold in. Deep breath out.

Back to the lobby. Mom is referring to Pilat and Anong, the Thai couple who are just minutes away from picking us up at our Bangkok hotel to take us out for lunch. My brain is a bit foggy as I’m tired and hungry; this morning’s training run was a slog. A humid hour and a half long. Mercifully the small, immaculately polished car pulls up right on time. Pilat and his wife remain inside. The doorman, dressed in a gorgeous costume of gold threaded voluminous pants and a tight-fitting jacket with winged shoulder pads, steps forward and opens the passenger door closest to the curb with a flourish. I slide in first. The interior is pristine. Two crisp and plump linen pillows grace the back seat. A full box of tissues, encased in silk, sits below the back window. Clearly we are welcome. I instantly relax. Once we’re both settled Mom leads off the introductions;  our hosts turn and smile sweetly from the front seat.

“Pilat and Anong! Lovely to see you again. This is my daughter Ke…” She gets no further. An ear-splitting, piercing howl shatters the serenity.

Exploding fireworks on front lawn. http://kellylmckenzie.com/that-embarassingly-unfortunate-rape-alarm-incident/

This. But 500 times louder.

At first no one moves. We can’t. The sound is mind numblingly loud. It’s relentless. My brain gradually engages. As the caterwauling wails wash over us and my ears shut down in defence my vision remarkably sharpens. Our hosts are frozen in their seats. I see just the backs of their heads; elbows jutting out at 45 degrees with hands clamped firmly over their ears. Are they speaking? I strain to listen and just make out the frantic wisps of Pilat’s perfect slightly accented English. “What is that dreadful noise???

Outside Mr. Gold Threaded Voluminous Pants is mute, incapable of response. He’s positively paralyzed. His head tilts to the side; his face a mask of confusion.

My head swivels to my seatmate. Stirring to action she is a wonder. Her arms flail as both hands grab for the door handle. Of course. She knows the source of this atrocious din.

“Thai Bees! It’s a swarm! They’ll sting us alive! OPEN THE DOORS!!!

As her fingers claw at the window buttons, Voluminous Pants spurs to action. He races around and around the car flapping his arms; an obvious attempt to wave away the nasty invasion. Once she solves her door dilemma, Mom reacts somewhat oddly herself. She fans said door in perfect synchronicity with the doorman’s flapping arms; it’s a miracle the car doesn’t take flight. If the shrieking sound emanating from our vicinity didn’t previously draw the attention of innocent passersby the actions of these two certainly has. All eyes are locked on us. Delightful.

Something snags my attention to the mat at my feet. My disturbingly vibrating purse. The rape alarm. Oh god. No. As my hands scrabble for the surprisingly reluctant zipper and the offending item encased inside, dread slowly overtakes. How do I turn the damn thing off?

If I could go back in time, I’d read the instructions on receipt of the gift. I’d then know to calmly press the teeny “off” button conveniently placed on the edge of the rape alarm’s plastic casing. I wouldn’t fumble with the damn alarm for a good 30 seconds before frantically prying off the battery lid and hurling the world’s weensiest battery blindly out the window. But most importantly my two lovely gentle hosts wouldn’t be subjected to the girl they’ve yet to officially meet brazenly holler “It’s my rape alarm. My rape alarm!

Could I have yelled it any louder? I think not. Most unfortunate.

Thanks Mom. Yup. That embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident ranks right up there in terms of events I would change if I could go back in time. Let’s just stick to searching for those elusive “shockingly purple pants that old ladies don’t wear” and endless blossoms, shall we?

This wraps up my post for Finish the Sentence Friday. The sentence prompt this week was of course “If I could go back in time… ” Many thanks to my marvelous hosts Kate’s Can I Get Another Bottle of Wine, Janine’s  Confessions of a Mommyaholic, Stephanie’s Mommy, For Real and Kristi’s Finding Ninee. Today’s guest host is Jennifer Schario Hicks of Real Life Parenting

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic

Enough about me and that embarrassingly unfortunate rape alarm incident. I’m curious about you. Have you ever experienced such embarrassment? Ever? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Still Blossoming at 91

The phone trills bright and early. It can only be my 91-year-old Mom. It’s 8:00 AM. On a Sunday.

“Let’s do lunch at Van Dusen Gardens today. My treat. The blossoms will be spectacular. I need to take pictures of them for my next painting.”

Paintbrush collection in Mom's studio http://kellylmckenzie.com/still-blossoming-at-91/

Mom’s studio paint brushes against a backdrop of Autumn colour.

Of course. Her current painting is almost finished and she’ll be itching for new ideas.

“I’m going to do a HUGE canvas of nothing but blossoms.”

Such an innocent comment for those not in the know. Allow me to enlighten you. Five years ago she tore two of her right rotator cuff muscles while hauling herself up a ladder swinging from the side of a Russian Icebreaker bobbing about in the cold waters of Hudson Bay. Surgery was necessary for repair; something she refused to undertake at 86. Optional treatment: physiotherapy, ice and Tylenol. It’s painful for her to lift things above her waist. But no worries. She’s cultivated a wonderful network amongst the neighbours in her apartment building since she resumed painting in 2006. They happily pop in to lift canvases on and off the easel. A HUGE canvas means she’ll see lots of them.

Nope she won’t let a torn rotator cuff or two hold her down. Last week the two of us travelled to LA (yes, still looking for those elusive shockingly purple pants) and just last night she sent me the latest draft of her article for her building’s newsletter. Safe to say she’s still blossoming at 91.

We encounter a slight hiccup at Van Dusen Gardens. It’s day two of the annual Sakura Days Japan Fair. Thousands  have turned out to tour the gardens. The lineup at the gate is daunting but there’s lots of room in the restaurant.

“Kel, let’s just eat and then drive around looking for blossoms.”

We do.

Each subsequent mile reveals better and better painting inspiration.

Mom photographing magnolia blossoms http://kellylmckenzie.com/still-blossoming-at-91/

“Stop! That Magnolia is brilliant!”

mom and magnolia blossoms http://kellylmckenzie.com/still-blossoming-at-91/

“OH this one’s better. Stop!”

Apologies for the blurriness of the one immediately above. She got out while the car was still moving.

Mom photographing Cherry Blossoms in April http://kellylmckenzie.com/still-blossoming-at-91/

“Stop! I simply must snap that Cherry …”

Finally. After many miles and a good hour we find THE perfect blossoming tree.

Mom photographing the cherry tree blossoms on her street. http://kellylmckenzie.com/still-blossoming-at-91/


This tree has her positively spinning. And where is this magnificent specimen?

Smack outside her own front door.

Enough about me and my still blossoming at 91 mom. I’m curious about you. Do you have a fondness for blossoms? What inspires your creativity? Know somebody still blossoming at 91? And yes, might you know where we can find a pair of shockingly purple pants that aren’t “something old ladies would wear?” If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Living Life To The Fullest – At 91

My 91-year-old mother can still shock the hell out of me. This time it happens while we’re cruising 38,000 feet up.

Mom with crossword on plane. http://kellylmckenzie.com/living-life-to-the-fullest-at-91/

Just seconds before the big reveal.

“My Doctor says I’m not to travel any more. I don’t care. I’m living life to the fullest – at 91.”

Wait. What? She’s not to travel anymore? And she tells me this now? I turn to question her further. She takes no notice. You see she’s not talking to me but rather to the chap sitting on her other side. In the window seat; a complete stranger. 

“Why does the doctor not approve?” asks the startled yet thoroughly captivated fellow.

My ears strain to hear her answer. It’s difficult over this sudden pounding of my heart.

“Oh you know. At my age parts are wearing out, bits are falling off and there are all those pills to remember. I suppose she’s worried I’ll suddenly pop off or something. But I’m not worried. I’m living life to the fullest – at 91.”

She may not care but I do. My responsibilities have ramped up exponentially. They are now stratospheric. Yes, this revelation changes everything. The two of us are flying to Los Angeles for a three night stay with my niece and her husband. Up until now it was just one more trip. We’ve had years of travel together. Now that she’s in her 90′s it’s a case of me looking after check-in, our bags and pushing her airport wheelchair that eases the long trek to the departure gate. But this changes everything. Suddenly I’ve become the companion to someone who’s travelling without the blessing of her doctor. Wonderful.

Horrid thoughts flood my brain. Anything’s possible. What if she has a fall? Or catches a cold that leads to pneumonia? Or, God forbid, has a dizzy spell that results in a long spell in hospital far from everyone but her granddaughter? What am I doing bringing her away from close proximity to her doc? The sole person who’s keeping her alive. I’m such a fool.

Her next question to Window Man bring me back to earth.

“You don’t have a cold do you? I can’t sit next to anyone with a cold. If I get one it’ll lead to pneumonia which will be the death of me.”

The penny drops. She’s no fool; this wily gal who’s living life to the fullest – at 91. She’s planned this revelation with great care. Of course. Offhandedly reveal it to me at 38,000 feet where I can do nothing. Calm my worries with a follow up question designed to underline the fact that she is aware she’s not to catch a cold or get sick so far from her doctor.

Clever woman. I turn back to my book. She’s not finished.

“I’ve come to realise it’s my life. I want to live it my way.” Oh boy. That is the truth. Who am I to limit her life? If she’s game then I should be too. I vow to lighten up and try not worry so much.

The next four days zip by. As per usual life with my mother is never dull. Always game to shop she expresses a deep desire for a pair of shocking purple pants. Ones that “old ladies would never wear.”  This doesn’t shock me. She’s never been afraid of colour. In and out of shops we go. Over lunch at a charming outdoor restaurant my niece C expresses a wish to connect with our LA cousin. Perhaps now would be a perfect time? Mom, always in the know, tells us he’s out of town for a few months so she’d rather not scout out his house. C and I have other ideas. We conspire to drive by “on the way to the mall.” Mom won’t notice the slight detour. 

Twenty minutes later we’re just blocks from his house in an enchanting residential area.  “There’s no mall around here!” chirps Little Miss Observant who’s living life to the fullest – at 91. Of course she’d notice. What were we thinking?

While the purple pants remain elusive Mom’s energy flags only at night. In the day she plays the tourist with the energy of a person half her age. It’s remarkable.

Mom taking picture in LA http://kellylmckenzie.com/living-life-to-the-fullest-at-91/

“Say Cheese!”

Still I can’t help but hover which annoys her intensely.

“Kel, don’t fuss so much. I’m being careful. Enjoy the trip and don’t worry. I’ll be fine.

She is. Four days later she sails into the security area at the LA airport all in one piece. The picture of health.

Mom at airport security http://kellylmckenzie.com/living-life-to-the-fullest-at-91/

Getting the special treatment at Airport Security.

I overhear her chatting with the security guard who’s gently patting her down.

“Oh I’ll be back very soon. I still have to find a pair of shocking purple pants!”

Bless you Mom. You are an inspiration. May we all be living life to the fullest – at 91.

Enough about me and my living life to the fullest – at 91 mom. I’m curious about you. Can your mom still shock you? Do you still feel young? Do you know where one can purchase a pair of shocking purple pants? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Sting Paul Simon

Sting Paul Simon? What? No. Relax. I don’t want to sting the poor chap. I am merely leading into the latest Finish the Sentence Friday prompt: “I went to a concert …” Yes. The last concert I went to was

Sting Paul Simon.

Sting and Paul Simon on stage together. http://kellylmckenzie.com/sting-paul-simon/
Paul’s the one on the right …

Photo credit Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Yes Sting and Paul Simon performing together; no Police, no Art. They were equal partners. One wasn’t backing up the other. I’ve read that this combo tour format was adopted because both of them couldn’t fill arenas on their own. Probably true. However, on my night it was obvious two songs in that they had the audience of thousands in rapture. Two bands, two performers? Yes, somehow it worked.  The performances were seamless. Check out this brilliant Rolling Stone review for an on the money summation of the concert.

This concert was last month. Before that, the majority of concerts that I’ve  attended within the past 20 years or so had been of a rather childish nature. They were either the school concerts of my children where little Suzy vomited discretely into the folds of the stage curtain or Billy forgot his lines and spoke someone else’s instead or the children’s entertainer concerts where I found myself happily singing along to every line of ditties such as “I’m a Pizza” remarkably in both in English and in French.

Yes, this Sting Paul Simon concert was one of the first grown up versions I’d been to in a very long time. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m not fond of big people concerts. I’ve loved them since I first saw Led Zeppelin at 15. That experience was magical and one I achieved by default. My older sister had an extra ticket and nobody else could go. It didn’t matter that the backup band was horrid, the sound system muddy or that Led Zeppelin came on stage late and played for a very short time. When it was all over my hair and clothes reeked of pot, my chest continued to vibrate for hours and I couldn’t hear properly for days. I was enthralled.

Once I had kids things changed. Their musical tastes became mine. It was their music we listened to in the car on all the car rides. Of course as they grew older we gradually morphed from Disney right on up to Indie.  With my brain on hold due to what I like to call “full on mommyhood” I struggled with band names and  tended to remember just the unusual ones. This habit led  to some pure just typikel moments that are firmly entrenched in family lore.  No one will ever let me forget the time we were away on a trip and sitting around a concert campfire with a bunch of strangers from all over the world. The guitar strumming “farm hand”  leading us in song pleasantly asked everyone to share their family’s favourite bands. With folks chiming in with faves such as”Donny Osmond,” “The Bee Gees,” and of course”The Beatles” I drew  a complete blank when the spotlight was on me and my family. I looked at my two for help. However their embarrassed and decidedly closed faces telegraphed just one message. I was on my own. Mercifully a name swam to the surface.

“The Black Eyed Peas! MY darlings love the Black Eyed Peas!” Dead silence. Horrified eyes swiveled in my direction. Rather than do the sensible thing and hand off to the pleasantly sweet cardigan wearing woman on my left, I trudged on.

“You know! Don’t Phunk with my Heart?”

I suspect that earnest family from Switzerland is still dining out on the story of the crazy Canadian woman who blatantly encouraged her preteens to listen to “gangsta rap.”

Fast forward to Sting Paul Simon.  Naturally I couldn’t help but compare this concert with those of my youth. Especially the audience. Similarities abounded. Everyone was about the same age as me or a little older and the majority knew every word of every song. However, there were obvious differences. Pot? Not a whiff. The air was oddly unscented. Cigarette lighters waving in the air? Not a one. Appreciative light was provided by the copious cellphones  beaming flickering “candle flames.” And booze? It was in plain sight, not hidden in socks or buried in purses. I won’t soon forget the  gray-haired chap in front of us who downed at least six beers with the air of a chap in his twenties nor his wife who randomly shouted “Good thing we’re taking a cab!”

Sting Paul Simon isn’t the last of my concerts. I’ve already bought tickets for my next one. Rod Stewart and Santana in August. Who’s in?

Enough about me and Sting Paul Simon. I’m curious about you. What type of concerts have you been to lately? Have you mortally embarrassed your offspring found them similar to those of your youth? Or are you bouncing around to the best of Disney? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

This wraps up my post for Finish the Sentence Friday. Many thanks to my marvelous hosts Kate’s Can I Get Another Bottle of Wine, Janine’s  Confessions of a Mommyaholic, Stephanie’s Mommy for Real and Kristi’s Finding Ninee.

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic

Mommy – Another Word for Crazy Volunteer

This post was written for my recent visit to Perfection Pending

If the past 20 years of being a mom have taught me anything it’s this apt definition: “Mommy – another word for Crazy Volunteer.” So when Meredith, the wonderful voice of reason, humor and honesty over at Perfection Pending put out the call for guest bloggers I just had to opt in. Thanks Meredith for taking me on. Here is my answer to your wonderful question How Has Motherhood Changed You?

Before I had children I rarely volunteered; there was “no time.” Being married, looking after our “first-born” (Fergus the Black Lab pup) and working full time with my mom in her asian antiques store meant there was little time for anything else. Yes, there was that one stint of beseeching petitioning neighbours for donations for the The March of Dimes but that was a one-off. The apathetical response did little for my sense of volunteerism.

Before my son and daughter hit preschool I never volunteered; there was “no time.” Born 20 months apart, they kept me busier than busy. Life was diaper changing, feeding, cleaning, napping … well you know the drill. Then my husband passed away. Just after our eldest turned three. I had to raise two kids on my own. The concept of volunteering was obliterated from my radar.

Until she hit preschool.

Two men reacting to surprise. http:kellylmckenzie.com/naked-as-a-jaybird

Wait. What? Preschool?

Mommy – Another Word for Crazy Volunteer.

Our local preschool just happened to be a parent participation one. Every parent volunteered. There was no option. You were assigned a duty day at least twice a month where you and two others assisted in the classroom. Every second Tuesday of the month was “Education Meeting Night” and no one could escape a stint of “Cleaning Day.” That was an experience I’ll never forget. Six of us locked in the preschool on a Sunday, wearing rubber gloves, and bleaching every toy within sight … The chlorinated air was the perfect breeding ground for gossip and bonding. Somehow I now had time to volunteer for all of these duties. My late husband would expect nothing less. An added bonus? I met and made friends with some lovely like-minded folk.

However it wasn’t until my son entered grade one and the game changer decade began that I truly understood the full impact of mommy – another word for crazy volunteer. Along with my new pals from preschool, I foolishly happily joined the school PAC. Within minutes little Ms “I’m too busy to volunteer any longer” was signed up for both the jobs of Co-PAC Chair and Co-Sparks Leader.  Just typikel. PAC meetings were just once a month and the Sparks ones only four. Of course I could do that.

Three years later I found myself coordinating a much-needed school-wide fundraiser. A former alum and amazing local children’s entertainer had offered to perform two complimentary shows for the students. All I had to do was advertise and sell the tickets. Easy peasy. Except the tickets for both shows sold out within days and I had buckets of cash money that needed to be counted and banked immediately. I broke the rules and took the money home to count.

man carrying bag of loot on his back. htp://kellylmckenzie.com/mommy-another-word-for-crazy-volunteer/

Ssshhhh … I’m escaping with the ticket money.

The night was a great success. And yes, I banked every dime. In the school fundraising account.

This venture led to joining the committee for the school carnival. It was here that I really hit gold. There is nothing like companionship during chaos. I’ll never forget the night we rustled up thirty willing volunteers, all new friends, to help wrap the silent auction numbers. It was only after two hours of careful wrapping that we realized we had nowhere to safely store the completed gems. Mercifully, Marilyn kindly offered her empty basement and my friend Carrie – the Silent Auction Queen – and I spent the wee morning hours shuttling back and forth between the school and the house. At times we couldn’t breathe – we were laughing so hard. It was a magical time.

Then my two discovered the world of sports. Could I volunteer at soccer, lacrosse, cross-country skiing, water polo and swimming? Of course! I had plenty of time. My friendship circles expanded even wider. Especially at swim club. With only the coaches being paid, the copious swim meets ran solely on the efforts of volunteers. I found myself on the pool deck clutching a cup of coffee and commiserating with multiple parents over the 6:00 AM warmup times. Minutes later we were on the bulkhead blearily timing the swimmers. This was followed up by handing out deck food, working in the office or stirring up Chinese food in the popular concession. Once our volunteer shifts were done for that day we’d gather by the tents and canopies for endless chitchat and socializing. Many of these folk became family and I continue to see them today.

Yes, I was lucky to be able to work from home and pick my own hours. However even if I could only volunteer on weekends I hope I would have. Not only did the crazy volunteering lead to some wonderful friendships it taught me invaluable lessons of patience, tolerance and above all the perspective of available time. Mine. Had I not become a mom, my life, my friends and my memories would be so very different today. I am blessed. I don’t regret one second of being mommy – another word for crazy volunteer.

It was a wonderful run. Now that my two are almost grown and flown the volunteering days aren’t over.  I’ve been asked to be the volunteer announcer at the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games, July 8 -12, 2014. Naturally I said yes.

Enough about me and my definition of mommy – another word for crazy volunteer. I’m curious about you. Do you volunteer? If so, how has it changed you? More importantly how has motherhood changed you? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Pie In The Sky

I simply have to share this pie in the sky story with you. It is classic Just Typikel.

It’s Saturday afternoon and Jane, my always up for a field trip friend and I have just arrived at the kitchen store. We’re both beyond excited. Not only are we there to take the three-hour “All about Pies” class (promising pie crust tips and the chance to learn about different fillings from fruit to pastry cream and curd etc) but we get to sample three different creations and take a pie home! How fun is that?

baked pie http:/kellylmckenzie.com/pie-in-the-sky/

While I could eat a whole pie myself – easy peasy – I sure as hell better not. So I’ve lined up dinner at my mom’s on Sunday night for her, me and her pal Sylvia. I’m promising to keep it simple; homemade roasted chicken noodle soup, bread and my freshly baked pie. That’ll be enough.

Jane zips into the back room to get settled in the cooking area while I take a quick wander. I’ve never been here before and am impressed with the colourful and extensive inventory. Seconds later she pops out with the funniest look on her face.

“Uh Kel. There’s a slight hitch.”

Slight hitch indeed. This gem greets each eager student:

glass 6" pie plate http://kellylmckenzie.com/pie-in-the-sky/

Yes. We are looking at a 6″ glass pie plate folks. This is how she looked once filled with strawberry and rhubarb.

unbaked, open strawberry/rhubarb pie http://kellylmckenzie.com/pie-in-the-sky/

Impressive but enough?

I’m sorry. I should apologise to the poor instructor for my sporadic fits of giggles. I keep getting images of the three of us spooning up droplets of pie; both my mom and Sylvia insisting they “couldn’t eat another thing” and then tucking in to slices of toast laden with lashings of butter and marmalade the minute I leave …

My mind also wanders to the reality of me thinking we’d all take home gigantic pies to our loved ones. Seriously Kelly? Can you say “pie in the sky?”

To add to the hilarity conundrum there is an innocent message on my phone when I get home from the class.

“Great news. Your brother and sister-in-law and my friend Dorothy will also be joining us for dinner! So it’s six for pie!”

Pie In The Sky

It will be pure pie in the sky if I turn up with soup and this weensy 6 incher. I zip out and pick up backup.

wrapped unbaked pie shell http://kellylmckenzie.com/pie-in-the-sky/

A little egg wash, a handful of sugar crystals then pop ‘em in the oven and we’re good to go. Can you guess which one is mine?

two baked pies http://kellylmckenzie.com/pie-in-the-sky/

Ok – Is it the one on the right or the one on the left?

Enough about me and my pie in the sky idea of taking one bite-sized pie to dinner. I’m curious about you. Have you ever had pie in the sky dreams about the take-home items from class? Or is it just me. If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.

Being the Perfect Guest

Palm tree with sun shining through http://kellylmckenzie.com/being-the-perfect-guest/
Mai Tai? Why thank you!


Being The Perfect Guest

I’m skipping on over to visit the delightful Meredith at Perfection Pending today! I plan on being the perfect guest. Not hard to do mind you. I love her blog. It’s a refreshing realistic take on life as a mom to three young kids. This wonderful voice of reason, humor and honesty has agreed to let me vent to dazzle her readers about how I’ve changed since becoming a mom.

My never ending experiences have enabled me to come up with a new definition for the word Mommy. It’s: CRAZY VOLUNTEER. However I suspect we can sub out Mommy and replace it with Parent: CRAZY VOLUNTEER.

Sound about right? Great. Put down those soccer whistles, pack away your volunteer ID lanyards and stash the clipboards.

It’s vacation time over at Meredith’s!


See ya back here soon. I’ll have the blender on. Promise.


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