Life Lesson #17: What was normal when you were a kid might not be normal for your kids.

Hello, bloggy friends! Long time, no write! I have *3* (count ’em, 3) good reasons as to why I’ve been MIA:

  1. It was summer and I was busy with the kiddos. Also, we went places and did things this year! Ottawa, Haliburton, the zoo, visits with friends and family – all good stuff.
  2. Then school started and the weeks whipped by as I tried to maintain my sanity and coat everyone in a thick protective layer of Purel. (Note: this did not work because October came and everyone’s been sick – except me – at least once. Twice for Vivi! Because why? Let’s say it all together: because October sucks!)
  3. I was taking a super-demanding and intensely busy course at Ryerson through their distance education program. I learned a lot, but HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS A LOT OF WORK.


And so, I am back. Yay!

Today’s blog entry is one of those “compare and contrast” type essays your English teacher made you do in grade 10. You’d pad your answer with all kinds of big words and extraneous facts, hoping to distract your teacher from the fact that you really didn’t have enough depth of knowledge about one or more of the topics and could therefore neither compare nor contract effectively. (Or was that just me?)

Anyway, we are comparing and contrasting two topics about which I know many things:

Jess & Ken VS. Vivi & Lily

Or, put in another way, siblings: WTF, man?

To begin, I want to cite an article I totally wrote when I was 11. It was featured in the extremely local, totally indie ‘zine type newspaper, JAKE News (published Ottawa, March break, 1992, Poppa’s basement). The article was entitled “SIBLINGITIS” and the art was atrocious. Let’s take a gander at an exact reproduction of how badly I drew and read the wise words of tweenaged Jess, shall we?


‘Boy, is she cute?’ ‘Aww, what a darling!’ Just think of how the siblings of these ‘cute’ kids must feel. Always being tormented by people saying that their younger brothers or sisters are cute…well, what about them? These people are tormented victims of CUTEITIS, otherwise known as SIBLINGITIS. *Remember* older kids like attention by themselves too!

Let’s unpack this opinion piece, shall we?

  1. Jess you’re gawky and your brother is cute and your cousins are cute and, did I mention, you’re awkward? ‘Cause you are, girlfriend. So, you know, deal G.
  2. No one pays attention to you because you’re a weird eleven-year-old and eleven-year-olds know nothing about anything except Trapper Keepers and Lisa Frank products.

That’s all I got.

Even though I know how much more adorable/lovable Kenneth was, we still got along really well (as witnessed here, here, here and here). Aside from the ‘rock-collection-in-the -neighbour’s-pool incident,’ and the ‘I-convinced-Ken-to-put-lipstick-on-his-He-Man-and-now-he’s-She-Man-becasuse-lipstick-doesn’t-come-off-of-rubber-very-well’ situation, we were buddies. We used to:


Then, after that, we had fun with:


And don’t forget the times we…


And mostly we got along really well and I thought my brother was a great guy to play with and boss around and generally have crazy adventures with.

Which is why I am baffled by my daughters’ extreme love-hate relationship.

When they love, they love.

But most of the time, they threaten to not let each other play with their toys and mime ‘taking back’ pretend badges that they had previously pretended to hand out (side note: this is weirdly effective in instigating fury between sisters).

Lemme show you a typical situation at my house:



So then I ask:


But then, every now and then…


OK, so it’s all going great, then…





No, they’re not, Jess. They’re just not.

I don’t have a biological sister. I have many chosen sisters (shout out to Stephy, Marlie, Alydia, Christina, Sally and Erica) and sisters-in-law (big ups to Christine, Kathy and Biljana), so I don’t know if my girls’ relationship is ‘normal.’

If you have a sister and you are also female yourself, please let me know if this is normal/if it will improve as the years go on. Will they be besties at some point? Will this scene one day be more than a paper-cut dream?

Fast-forward 20 years into the future…
“I’m so glad to see you, sister!”
“Me too! God, why does Mom always lie about how we fought when we were little?”
“I know! I think she’s just getting senile. We’ve always been besties.”
“Agreed. She’s senile. Let’s not listen to anything she says from here on out.”

And now, ’cause I know you were DYING of curiosity, may I present: the rest of the JAKE News, 1992 March break edition, recreated in paper, avec text.

You’re welcome.


We had a lot of nerve to charge 50 cents for this. In case I forgot to mention, this ‘zine was the product of the imaginations of Kenneth, our cousin Emma, and myself. (Hence, JAKE…Jess and Ken Emma. Yeah, yeah. I know.)


OK, so this was an ad for the pretend resort we ran in my grandfather’s garage. The ad copy went something like (exactly like) this:
Jake resort is opening a new mini putt-putt golf club! We will supply golf balls but not clubs. But still! It’s a lot of fun!

News flash: Jake resort will be under construction tomorrow! You can make reservations the next day.

First of all, what kind of half-baked plan was opening a putt-putt golf course with NO CLUBS?! And next of all, you’ve never seen a news flash in the middle of an ad before, have you? Journalistic standards: we didn’t have them.




I must have the cutest little cousins in the whole world. In fact, I’m very lucky. I think the rest of the family is wonderful too, of course, but the babies take the cake! Look at baby Alan or Sammy or Devon. They’re incredibly cute! I really like coming up here, but how do the rest of you like having us up here? I mean, we eat you out of house and home!!! And yet, you guys don’t come to Toronto very often .

Thank you for being so hospitable to the Boyds. We appreciate it!

Let’s review:

1. Your title makes no damn sense. It’s like the time I called my mother “My fateful mother” in front of my grandmother and she laughed in my face. I meant “faithful” but I was six, dammit. I was trying.

2. Yes, my cousins were very cute. There were three of them in close succession, and with my love of The Babysitters Club, I was constantly pestering my relatives to let me “babysit” them (read: watch them as my aunts and uncles sat in the other room). Sorry, relatives.

3. Yeah, no one came to Toronto very often except my great aunt. Is it because they were actively avoiding us? I guess we will never know (yes, yes they were).



Emma always created the best coupons. For real, I wish some of these existed. Not the Donkey Dog Biscuits. I don’t know what that’s all about. But a ruby red ring for $28? What a steal!


In the interest of adding pages (and thus, value) to our ‘zine, I often had pages like this. Just random crap. But, you know, draw a picture and win…like…something? Whatever we can scrounge up in Poppa’s office? Paper clips and a racy picture of Super Woman?


Yeah, Little Jake Magazine wasn’t a thing. It was never going to be a thing. Unless someone had shown even a tiny morsel of interest. And then it TOTALLY WOULD HAVE BEEN A THING.


I always felt it was necessary to thank the person who lent us his office/let us use all his supplies: Poppa.


I wrote this poem to accompany this picture of…a crystal ball?

Do you want your fortune read?
Or the bumps on your head?
Come see Popdini!
Do you want to know your stones?
Or what clothes to wear?
Come see Popdini!
Who’s the Houdini of Ottawa?
Who’s the cream of the crop
Popdini, Popdini, Popdini…POP!

I don’t know what I was smoking, but I kinda wish I had some now.

Poppa had a lot of ‘interpret my dream’ ‘read my runes’ kinda books, so I guess those inspired this.




And let’s finish on a high note: with an adults-only Easter egg hunt. Which did NOT MEAN WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. Get your head out of the gutter! It was adults-only because I was…hiding…probably boring crap and only adults would put up with those shenanigans.


The early nineties were a weird time.


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