Junction Mess | Tara Leigh Smith | Page 3

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

No. I do not mean Christmas. I do not mean the holidays, not a Winter Wonderland, not anything covered in a blanket of snow. What I mean is something covered alright, but covered in HAIR.

Movember. Sweet sweet Movember.

Remember remember the hotness of November.

Oh man, do I love a moustache. It ups the sexiness of man 87%. (According to my totally made up statistics.)

This probably comes from being a child of the 70’s and 80’s. My TV crushes were Magnum P.I., Simon and Simon, Isaac from the Love Boat. While most girls probably crushed on Luke Skywalker, or swooned over Han Solo, my heart belonged to Lando Calrissian. (How you doing, Chewbacca?”)

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Growing up, on my street were two of the COOLEST dads EVER. On one side, we had Mr. M., who looked like a dreamier Patrick Swayze. (I know, you are saying “that’s not possible!” but it’s true. Because of the facial hair!)

On the other, Mr. L. who looked and dressed like (young) Elvis, drove a hot rod, wore coveralls and high heeled boots, and wait for it, ROCKED THAT STACHE.

So, you see, my love of the moustache runs deep. I love November so much! I see guys of all ages and styles, sporting moustaches, for a whole month, and it makes me get the lady tingles!

But, hold on. What is all this noise I hear from wives and girlfriends that have the hate-on for the stache?? I have also heard a lot of men are not participating in Movember this year, because of this.

This is where the joking around stops.

Movember is an amazing campaign to raise awareness and funds for Men’s Health. Since 2003 this project has raised $677 Million dollars, and has brought men’s health to the forefront. It has also started worldwide dialogue, getting our guys to feel comfortable being proactive about their health, and more importantly, seeking help when they need it!

The month is almost over. So ladies, if you forbid your guy to participate this year, please find a guy who did, and donate to this worthy cause! PLEASE rethink the facial hair ban for next year. And, if I can take a moment to brag, last year my very own facially (hair) blessed husband was crowned Man Of Movember at his office!

Let him give it a grow. You may just end liking it!  I can’t be the only one who loves a good stache, can I?


That’s What You Get For Waking Up In Vegas…

I’m sure most women, when they get engaged, start dreaming of their big day, either in June, with flowers blooming and bare arms showing, or, better, a tropical getaway, saying their “I do’s” on a beach, surrounded by sun-kissed loved ones. Well, in case you haven’t already realized, I am not like most women! My first thoughts were “YES!!! Lock it in!! Free drug plan!!” followed very closely by “LET’S HAVE SOME FUN.” I’ve never been a big fan of weddings. My fiance had been married before, and I had a child, soooo, I couldn’t really ask my retired parents to cough up some cash for “my special day.” Besides, in my life, every day is my special day, it’s kind of how I roll. 😉

So, off we went to Las Vegas. Just the two of us, and Elvis of course!  We had a BLAST. We decided we’d go away, somewhere hot, every year for our anniversary to celebrate, since mid November is a pretty sucky time of the year to get married.

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Well, we just hit our ten year mark, and guess how many times we’ve been away to a warm destination? Zero.


Given it was a big one, I wanted to do something. A trip was (again) not happening. I sat Googling warm places I wouldn’t be going, when something new popped up (literally) on my Facebook feed. Dee Brun, the fabulous Cocktail Deeva, had opened the Gorgeous Olde Bridge Place B and B in an old converted garage, right at the base of Kissing Bridge, the last covered bridge in Ontario! How’s that for romance??!!?? Not your typical B & B, though, but a completely private apartment, where your kitchen is full of local goodies for you, and you do not have to socialize with others over awkward breakfast!! No “so tell me a little about yourself” over frittatas while you’re actually thinking “I hope they didn’t hear us through the paper thin walls”. I booked us in, and off we went!

Dee’s place is delightful. Soaring wood covered ceilings, two fireplaces, total privacy, spectacular views, and, wait for it, quiet and calming. Nothing in my life is usually either of these things. It was SO GREAT to just have a couple of days of silence. We sat by the fire, had some wine, read some books. Reconnected. The only sounds we could hear was the Grand River flowing by, and the clickety clack of Mennonite buggies crossing the bridge. (This happens all day, so if you see one, and aren’t ready with your camera, calm down, they run as regularly as a city bus!!)

I woke up early, made some coffee, wrapped myself up in a blanket and sat on my private little balcony, and watched the local firemen hang Christmas wreaths on the snow covered bridge. We lounged around, had a late breakfast, then visited the nearby towns of St. Jacob’s and Elora. It was a really relaxed way to celebrate a milestone. I can’t wait to go back!

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We still hope to go back to Vegas next year. Let’s hope 11 is our lucky number. If so, I am betting it all on red!

Last thing. I grew up not too far from “Kissing Bridge”. We used to go there, late at night, as teenagers.

I didn’t know it was actually called Kissing Bridge until I was an adult.

But that’s a different blog post…




The Cheese Stands Alone – Part 1

I am Toronto Proud.

I love my neighbourhood. I live in arguably one of the best, and now most sought after areas of our fine city. I am very active and involved in my community, and have spent years making good friends, neighbours, and acquaintances with the shop owners.

I love my house. It’s warm, solid, kind of adorable, and it takes care of my family through the seasons. I had planned to grow  eccentric old in my Junction cutie. That was the plan, until, last week, when something happened that has changed EVERYTHING.

It all started with my dog. She started acting weird. Aggressive, scared, angry, stressed. She would start barking and growling at the two heating grates in the kitchen and bathroom. She would run crazily sniffing along baseboards, at one point she jumped on the couch and started biting my hands. She would freak out and bark at what appeared to be nothing. WHAT IS IT GIRL, WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?


Then, it hit me. My mouth dried, my heart started pounding, I got the lady sweats. I felt light-headed and sick. I knew what was making her act like this, there could only be one reason…


My home, that I LOVE, is haunted. I was devastated. I have always said I’d never move, unless, of course, one of my two deal breakers happened.

#1 – House is Haunted. (I know some people can live with this, I cannot. I am a total chickenshit of the supernatural. When the earthquake happened a few years ago, my closet doors started banging open and shut. I assumed it was a haunting, walked outside, and put up a for sale sign. CANNOT HANDLE GHOSTS)

#2 – Rats. (Sure, this is probably a deal breaker for everyone, right? But, I wasn’t concerned right now about rats, I had bigger problems, I HAVE A GHOST IN MY HOUSE.)

I sat on my bed, and I cried. Hard. For a long, long time. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I sobbed and sobbed, and felt defeated. I know other people have it tougher out there, but I haven’t exactly had it easy. In a two day period I have lost my job, developed a kidney stone, and now, have a ghost in my house. And, I feel alone.

So alone. (Epic. Pity. Party. It was great, who doesn’t love a good cry, right?)

I needed to come up with a plan, and it would all be on me. It always is. It always has been. Throughout the years, as my many problems arise, I am left alone to face it, and deal. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is great at doing many things, like wearing fancy glasses, or buying wine, but he’s not so great with the house stuff, and really not great at the “Tara” stuff. He tries his best, but I am a handful. For every coo-coo thing that comes out of my mouth, there are 200 that stayed in. He’s loving and supportive, but I think at the end of the day, the best he can do is buckle up, as life with me is a bumpy ride.

Given my (lack of) job situation, I knew he would not agree to having a Medium come in, they cost a small fortune. I was going to have to do this one, all on my own.  I am a huge fan of Crossing Over’s John Edward, so I do know a few things. I also Googled “How to get rid of ghosts.” A few options popped up, a how to in 9 steps, and a how to in 7 steps. As per my m/o, I took the easy way out and went with the 7 steps.

I went into my kitchen, and decided to have a few words with the Ghost. I spoke out loud, in clear voice, and let my Ghost know that I just can’t handle it being in my house right now.  I explained about the no job thing, the poor health, and that I am just plain straight up terrified.  I also said I know sometimes Ghosts need help getting to the light, but that right now I am not the person to do that.  I’m not in a great place right now, I can barely help myself, so I will be of no use to them, and they need to find another guide. In a different house.  Maybe on a different street.  Please GET GONE.

I hoped this would do the trick.
I pulled myself together, picked my kids up from school, and took them out for dinner, for my favourite comfort food, Vesuvios. (Come on, you can’t expect me to cook in my haunted kitchen, right? Plus, I figured it would be good to leave Casper alone to gather his outer worldly possessions and scram.)WP_20141105_006

That night, when my husband got home from work, he said he had to tell me something the neighbours told him, about their house, and it was going to FREAK ME OUT.  We were whispering so our kids wouldn’t hear us.

“They saw something in their kitchen” he says. “They’ve called someone in to deal with it” he says.

Way ahead of you, I think, about to spring my news on him.

“I bet I KNOW what it IS” I whisper.

At the very same time I say “THEY HAVE GHOSTS” he says “THEY HAVE RATS”.

Wait, what.


To be continued…





Tired. So tired. Staggering, dizzy, burning in your stomach tired. Cannot function tired. NEWBORN BABY TIRED. If you are a parent, you know this kind of tired. Well, this is how tired I feel, all the time. I am a person with a chronic illness. I have Lyme Disease, and have for over a decade. It’s messing me up. Now, I am still getting used to the term “chronic” because, before I got sick, I thought this was a BULLSH** term for lazy people. I know some of you, right now, right after reading that maybe said, “uh oh”, or “YES”, or “NO!” It evokes some emotion. A lot of people like to ask questions, skeptical questions. “So, you are just sick, all the time, for no real reason?” “You were sick, but you aren’t now, right? You are cured?” The short answer, no. I will never be alright. I have nerve damage, a bit of brain damage, and lack of muscle control (which, yes, causes daily pain) through my entire left side. This is my short list. But, that’s enough of that; I don’t want to bum people out.

You may be thinking, what kind of work can a person in my condition do? A person like this MUST need to make their health the #1 priority, and have a stress free job. So, the obvious career choice? CHILD CARE. Yes, I figured looking after a wagonload of babies, changing multiple diapers, feedings, outings, being on my feet all day long for less than minimum wage was the answer! Now, daycare babies eat, boy do they eat! If you are thinking of starting a home daycare, save yourself some steps, and just get your pay sent right to the grocery store. FYI, if you aren’t at the park, or wiping a bum, you are buying groceries. Oh, I should also mention, not during the day, like regular folks, but later at night, because, well, you just don’t go with your kiddos. If you’d like to test this theory, get a pack of wild dogs, put them in an oversized wagon, and then ask them to stay in there and not touch anything while you “just grab a couple of things!” If you love to get dirty looks, and have the lady sweats from stress, then by all means, take 5 kids shopping!

One late night, exhausted after a full day of torture fun, I ran out to get some food, and then some groceries. I stopped at a local place to grab hot Portuguese chicken, so I could finally have my dinner at my usual healthy, convenient time, 10pm.  I pulled into the store, grabbed my purse, tucked it under my arm, and in I went. I filled up my basket, and headed to the checkout. I dumped my stuff on the conveyor belt, and the cashier rang it through. She stopped, stared at me, and said “the chicken?” Irritated, I said “no, I’m not getting chicken, just groceries.” More staring. “The chicken” she says again. Now I am just mad. “I AM NOT GETTING ANY CHICKEN.” In a zombie-esque fashion, she slowly raises her arm and points to my purse. There, tucked under my arm, was not my clutch, but the tin foil bag holding my hot chicken. It took a minute to process what was going on. Here I was, yelling at a cashier, with a hot chicken, now dripping all down my side, snugly in my armpit, instead of my purse. Now, not only do I look crazy, I can’t pay for my groceries, because my chicken purse doesn’t hold any cash, just juicy goodness. I say I’ll run out and grab it, but now the manager is there, since I look like I am stealing a chicken from the store. After a lot of explanation, and some convincing, they let me and my chicken purse leave the store. Needless to say I was too embarrassed to go back in, so we had “pizza day” at daycare. It was shortly after this I started realizing that daycare wasn’t for me anymore, and I will tell you; it broke my heart a little. I loved my daycare kids, and am so happy I got to spend time with so many amazing little people.

I am now trying harder to budget my time, and not overextend myself. I am getting better at saying no to things. If you are like me, and stretch yourself too thin, next time ask yourself this:

Are you tired, or are you CHICKEN PURSE TIRED? If it’s chicken purse, then just go take a nap!


For more on Lyme Disease, please visit my friends at http://canlyme.com/chicken purse



The Pits of Despair.

Last week a bunch of my mom blogger friends participated in mother daughter workshops, on building girls’ self-esteem. I LOVED this. I am usually very happy being the mom of boys, but occasionally I yearn for a girl. Why? Because I am generally so overflowing with self-love and esteem, I think a little girl would benefit so greatly from this. I am 110% girl power.  I see posts about raising and teaching boys to respect and treat women equally, and I think, NAILED IT. My boys are the best, most forward thinking guys out there. That is, until they saw my unshaven armpit. I reached across our kitchen island to grab the Yahtzee dice (oh yes, that’s a big deal in our house. No one gets breakfast until they play a game with me, my house, my crazy rules) and my teen aged son said, “Yikes, you need to shave!” The seven year old hopped right on board, “gross” he said. I stopped. My stomach dropped, and for the first time in about 6 years, I stood silently with my thoughts. A million things flooded through my brain. Finally, I spoke. “What’s gross about it?” Their answers? Girls just don’t have armpit hair, or body hair in general. I said “Your dad does, and so do you!” Yes, but not on girls. For some reason, my sons feel that it is unacceptable for women to have hairy armpits.  WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE??????????

All my feminist teachings have just flown out the window. Why? WHY?

I know why.

I am “girlie”. SO girlie. I love creams, makeup, nail salons, waxing shops, highlights, lowlights, rainbows, sparkles, PINK, PINK, PINK. High heels, lipstick, cherry print bathing suits, fluffy things, colour. Boxes with tinier boxes inside. Fancy Bras.

Here are some more things I like. Hockey, skating, fighting, skating AND fighting – Roller Derby is my dream sport, rock climbing, swimming, DIY home reno’s, epic board games like Risk or Heroscape, Super Heroes, Comic books, video games. Both my lists are endless. I had thought I’d done a good job of gender neutralizing my boys, they both loved dolls, I kick their asses at video games, all toys “are for everyone”. But, BUT after all of this, I am the one who shaves stuff. And gets my nails done. My husband’s idea of a pedicure is crudely clipping his toenails with a foot up on the toilet, like a caveman.  His chest is hairy, his FEET are hairy, but none of that is “gross”. Just my stubble. How am I going to fix this? So much has already been written about stereotypes, nature vs. nurture, gender equality. I am sure no one ever said to me “this is how girls are” but, yet, somehow I am who I am. I will freak out if I see underpants with flowers on them, it makes my chest feel warm and tingly, and I get excited!! I don’t know how to stop this, and I honestly don’t want to. A girl’s favorite colour doesn’t have to be pink, but what if it is? Then what? Am I less of feminist because of this? I don’t think so. I don’t make choices based on how men will perceive me; I make them based on what I like. And, yes, sometimes that’s a wax job in the shape of a lightning bolt. BUT are these decisions screwing up my sons’ view of women? I guess I need to figure out my balance of feminine and feminist. I want to be both. I think I am both.

I have decided for the summer, I am not going to shave my armpits, just to show them that it’s really no different for a woman or a man, despite what the world and media shows them. It’s not much, but it’s a start.




These Boots are Made For Walking…

I was walking past a shoe store yesterday, and I stopped dead in my tracks and GASPED. Okay, truth be told, this often happens. So what? Yes, I am a woman, and yes, YES, yes, I love shoes and boots. (Please note, just because I love them beyond reason, which is a huge cliché, does not negate the fact that I am a feminist. Feminists can like boots too. Just look at Nancy Sinatra!)
In the window, displayed high on shelf, like a beacon of warmth and style, were a pair of ORIGINAL COUGAR PILLOW BOOTS. Now, this statement is giving away my age, and if you just gasped,  yours too.  Cougar boots are the boots of my childhood, and arguably the best boots ever made.

cougar boot
It turns out Cougar has re-released the classic boot that they first started making in 1976. My heart raced a little. That tan leather, that RED LINING, the slippery laces, those two hooks on the top that would always get caught together and make me trip, the extra high, ankle rolling sole!! I am now ready for cold, Canada. Bring it on!
I called my mom to tell her. I gushed awhile about my boots, my childhood, my memories. My mom finally asked “and do you plan on actually tying these ones up, or are you still going to fold the tongues down to be cool?” OHHH yeah! I had totally forgotten about that. Back in the day, all us cool kids wore these boots, tongues hanging out, laces tied down in front, jeans tucked in.  As a kid, this was the COOLEST THING EVER. Like. EVER, in the history of the world. I also wore a baby blue lamb’s wool jacket and real rabbit fur mitts with them. Yes. I was THAT stylish. I would wear my boots all open, so they would scoop up snow directly onto my socks, soaking them. By the time I’d get anywhere, my feet would be frozen, my boots would weigh twenty pounds, and I’d be shivering, but I did’t care, I. Was. COOL. My mom then went on to point out, by the time I hit twelve, I refused to wear boots at all, or a hat. I have very chilly memories of spending one entire winter only wearing a jean jacket. (Thankfully, leather coats became a “thing”, so being warm was acceptable again.) She said I was lucky that being warm is cool now, so I won’t have to deal with my children leaving in a toque, and then throwing it in the neighbour’s bushes once they get around the corner.
I started thinking about some of the fashion trends now, that as a parent, drive me crazy. I’m sure you are all with me on this one when I say “Boys, PULL UP THOSE PANTS”.
As I type this I realize, oh, this is an age thing. My parents used to cringe at some things (everything) I would wear, but they let me, and I am thankful for that. I do think it’s important to let kids and teens express themselves through fashion, even it’s it’s stupid impractical. I  want them to grow up, see something, like my beloved Cougars, and be taken back to that amazing place and time in their childhood, and be flooded with memories, because the feeling I am getting from these boots warms my toes AND my heart.

Do you have some items from your childhood/teen years/twenties that you still love? I’d love to hear about it!



I’ll Drink To That!


Our house has a problem…A big problem.

We have a resident picky eater, who puts all other picky eaters to shame. I read the blogs, I watch the websites, I try and sneak fruit or veggies into foods, but he figures it out. He’s cute, but ruthless. I know a lot of people have this problem, but ours was getting extreme. He won’t even have a bite of an Apple. NOT. ONE. BITE.

My first son ate everything. I was a parent who may have judged others, and would say, if you start them young, develop good habits, and MAKE them eat, they will.  But guess what? Sometimes, they JUST won’t. Here is a picture of the tyrant. He’s cute, but don’t let that fool you. He’s tough.


Our family was contacted to be testers for SunRype Juice. I was actually already a fan of SunRype. I starting buying their products for my older son, based on the fact they were the most affordable, 100% juices. They are all natural, with no colours or additives. Their juices are clean tasting, like drinking a piece of fruit! Their packaging is minimal, and recyclable, and they are Canadian. These things are really important to me when shopping, even when shopping on a budget.

My picky guy was with me when our samples were delivered. He was very interested in what this was all about.  I explained we had a new “job”, to be official taste testers for SunRype. More interest. Why US, he wanted to know.  (I maybe told a small lie here) I told him they’d heard about him, how he NEVER drinks juice, but are SO SURE their juice is the best, that even kids who don’t like juice will love it. Well, his love of a challenge overtook his stubbornness. He was ready to give it a go!!  My heart was racing a little. I didn’t want to get too hopeful. Next day, we got out our “official note pads” to keep track of our project.  My son looked the flavours up and down, and right away he chose. Tropical Blend! I felt it was a bit of weird choice to go with, for him, but I wasn’t going to point that out!! Let him try. (I later found out he picked it because “there is no fruit in the name.” )

I poured. I waited. He lifted, sniffed, sipped. He started to drink!!!


The arm went up, fist curled in a ball, thumb stuck UP. I couldn’t believe it! He drank that juice like it WAS his job.

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We went on to try all the flavours his favourite being Wild Raspberry.

I am happy to say that testing all the juices for SunRype really got Mr. Picky open to trying new things. He trusts the SunRype brand, so we have been able to buy their other all natural products, which make great lunch and recess snacks. I agree with him, SunRype gets my my thumbs up too!




Ello? WHAT the heck is Ello?

Here’s how Friday went. Ello??!!?? What the heck is Ello? WHY is everyone talking about Ello. Everyone on Facebook and Twitter were talking about getting invites. I kept posting on walls, “What’s Ello?” but I couldn’t get a straight answer. I’d guess I’d just have to slide the mouse a bit to the right, and Google it myself.

Oh no. Not ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA SITE. Ello seems to be making some big promises. Never will they sell my data, they won’t advertise, they’ll have a LOVE button. (This feature does appeal to me. I mean, come on, how many times have you written “where’s the LOVE button” on a cute kid or puppy picture on Facebook? A lot, right?

I was skeptical. First off, you need a special invite to join. See? Already they are playing on our social media insecurities. Are only the cool kids getting invites? It’s that same feeling you get when no one likes your heart shaped latte pic on Instagram. Lonely and isolated.

Ditching Facebook for Ello would be like trading out my old husband for a new one.

Sure, in the beginning it might be exciting. Your heart my race, your cheeks get hot, you buy new bedsheets and underpants. But I am pretty sure once you get into it, you just realize it’s the same old crap, just packaged differently. Don’t get me wrong, I like my husband just fine. But, like Facebook, I’ve got him where I want him now. In life and online, I used to spend a lot of time trying to come up with clever posts/things to say. Now I am at the point just typing “having soup for dinner” is good enough, for Facebook AND for my husband. Trying to find a new ten year old photo (to look younger than I actually am) and coming up with a cutesy profile again? No Thanks. That’s like trying to figure out clever ways to look my best naked, (this involves a lot of stretching up, like I am trying to get that soup can down from the top shelf) or sleeping with a full face of make up on and saying, “I always look this fancy when I wake up.”

It’s not that I don’t put out this sort of silly effort any more, it’s just that I feel I don’t need to. I am comfortable with who I am, and where I’m at. I am staying put with Facebook. So if that means Zuckerberg is going to put up ads for all the crazy stuff I Google, like trips to Dude Ranches or “16 Signs Your House Is Haunted” then so be it. And if he sells my information, even better. That means someone, somewhere is paying attention to me, which is what this crazy social media business is all about, right?



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