Don’t Read This. Seriously, Stop Right Here. Just Keep Scrolling.

I bet you don’t respect authority either. Oh well, your funeral. That’s if you die of boredom. Or banal cuteness. You might actually enjoy this post if you have a subscription to Reader’s Digest. So this blog belongs to me. Most of the time I make funny with the haha. On occasion, I write endearing things about my beloveds on it. But that’s rare. Most often I use it to gently insult my mother. Because she’s the one who taught me how to laugh at myself.

Anyway, the primary readers of this blog are – my parents, my grandparents, and my son’s Godparents. All of them asked about our Halloween. So as a show of how much I love them, here is our Halloween in full. (Oh also Sula and her Mom read this blog. They would also want to know about our Halloween.)

Last year we had a German au pair who had never trick or treated before. Hence why for the first time ever, I went all out with family costumes. Tex paid a Kijiji seller fifteen dollars and in exchange we got our son an Olaf costume. Janey went as Elsa and I made myself an Anna costume. It was fabulous. It was the most elaborate costume I had ever created. Which is to say not elaborate at all but I put in effort so that was a change. I offered to make Tex a Kristoff costume at the same time, because we were in a city so I could buy items like costume materials. He declined.

This year, with only two and a half weeks until Halloween, Tex comes up to me and says “I want to be Kristoff”. People, we have lived three months without a bathmat because you can’t buy them here. The likelihood of me being able to procure the materials for a Kristoff costume without making a four hour round trip to the next large city over, (Well largeish. Ok small, it’s a small city.) was next to zero. However Tex never asks for things and he really wanted to participate in Halloween. So I sent him to the mall with a list. He returned without fake fur. Not surprising.

Two days and two dollars later, after a visit to the local second hand store, I found a teddy bear. (The secondhand store is only open certain days of the week hence the wait.) I gutted that stuffed animal like a fish. I chopped it into pieces and sewed the bits as fur trim to a jacket Tex had bought when we were first dating. Then I added piping, and made him boot covers so he’d have the requisite pointy ice seller toes. Also, I made a lantern that actually lit up for our “sleigh” which was our bike.

Tex looked awesome. Mini-Tex looked adorable. I looked well, Ok. And we borrowed a stuffed reindeer toy from my in-laws to act as Sven.

The day of, Tex had the afternoon off, so we spent our son’s nap rushing around, filling water bottles, preparing dinner for the road, affixing reindeer to the front of our bike, changing bike lights over so that we would be more visible and so forth. It took two and a half hours, but eventually we were all dressed and ready. I had four layers of long underwear up top and three layers on the bottom. I was plump. But warm.

We had everything together; we were all set for the best Halloween ever. All we needed was our Olaf. But he was sleeping. So Tex and I busied ourselves with filling the candy bowl, tidying up the house and looking at the clock going “How is he still sleeping?”

Readers, until that day, I didn’t know someone could sleep belligerently; it was like Mini-Tex was trying to miss out on Halloween. Finally, it got to the point where we were going to be late for trick or treating at the mall, so Tex and I did the unthinkable- we woke a sleeping child.

Because we’re obsessive parents who both need to bear witness to our offspring’s joy, we woke him up together. “It’s Halloween! It’s time to go trick or treating! It’s time to hug the blow ups!” Mini-Tex had been waiting A MONTH AND A HALF to hug all the inflatable decorations around town. Over the past month, we had put 200 kilometers on our bike and spent countless hours pedaling out of our way so he could see the blow up monkey, the blow up dragon, the blow up Jack Skellington. And every single time we saw them, our almost three year old asked “Can I hug them?” at which point we’d answer “On Halloween.”

To say Mini-Tex was excited was an understatement. But he was also very very sleepy. He stood straight up and then promptly did a face plant back into the bed. Tex grabbed him and popped him on the potty. We started both dressing him and undressing him together. It was like an instructional video on tandem helicopter parenting.

Within three minutes our Olaf was dressed and in the sled. Despite still waking up, he would yell “Jump Sven!” at random intervals. He would only call me “Anna” and his dad was “Kristoff”. It was quite possibly the best day of his life.

While riding to the mall to trick or treat with the other little people who go to bed before seven pm, we became aware that there were houses that had waited until the last possible moment to put up their decorations. Meaning that we hadn’t seen their magnificent inflatable decoration arrangements.

“Do we want to stop?” asked Tex. And so the blow up decoration love fest began. Mini-Tex was elated, he finally got to hug every pumpkin bearing Minion, every giant cat, every spooky ghost. The first house we stopped at had four blow up decorations. We stopped at two more houses before the mall until I got panicky that we would miss seeing all of our friends whom I had made arrangements with to meet.

Of course when we got to the mall, I didn’t recognize any of Mini-Tex’s friends and we just wandered around hugging the decorations. Tex took Mini-Tex to exactly one store to trick or treat and there was an over eager salesperson who jumped in our path so she could place candy into our son’s decorative pumpkin basket.

Then, on our way out, one of the best moments of the night happened; Mini-Tex’s best friend’s family appeared. His best friend was dressed as a ninja turtle. However the friend’s little brother who Mini-Tex also plays with, was also dressed as Olaf. The kids were delighted. Mini-Tex was over the moon. The eighteen month old who was also dressed as Olaf was vaguely confused and overwhelmed. It was fantastic.

Because all of you are gluttons for punishment, I’m going to continue writing about our Halloween. But in another post, because even my family and dearest friends can only take so much banal storytelling.

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Manboobs, Herpes and All The Other Sexy Things That Happened This Week

Two nights ago, something terrible happened. I developed a large pimple on my back and discovered two sets of bites on my chest. Now to some, a large pimple is not the end of the world. And truly it isn’t. However it’s a bit out of the ordinary for me.

You see, my mother married my father for his nicely shaped nose. It was her plan that her child would have a nice schnoz. But she kept procreating with him for his good skin, hence my sister Diana. It goes without saying that my mother is very vain. The GoFundMe page for her campaign to get a facelift can be found here.

Anyway, the pimple was upsetting, but was the least of my worries. The two sets of bug bites on the other hand brought back my PTSD. Three years ago we had bed bugs. THREE TIMES. I’m going to let the horrific nature of that statement sink in for a little bit before I go on.

The first time was when I was three months pregnant. The second time was six days after Mini-Tex was born and we realized that our apartment building was crawling with them. The third time was a day after the second heat treatment didn’t work.

(And yes, the heat treatments are the only solution that works. Anyone who tells you otherwise is riddled with bugs and living in denial. Once upon a time pest companies used powerful chemicals that caused three headed babies and made kangaroos birth eight toed porcupines in a painful abuse of nature. Those super powerful sprays worked but this hasn’t been the case since “Silent Spring” was published. Now they apply something that’s like Nix shampoo. Wholly ineffective but smells good. Also doesn’t cause babies that look like multi-limbed Hindu gods.)

It would seem that heat treatments were designed for places that aren’t -50 Celsius in the winter. Following this, my little family decided to box up our things and live out of a beat up duffel bag like the dirty, transient people that we clearly were based on the repeated infestations.

Since our third and successful heat treatment, I’ve been a little crazy. And by a little, I mean sometimes I make John Nash look sane. I freeze library books for a week. Anything that comes from secondhand stores is promptly thrown in the dryer for thirty minutes. If it’s plastic, I clean the item with all of the vigor and enthusiasm of Mr. Clean demonstrating the effectiveness of his newest product. These acts of quasi cleanliness of course shock the hell out of anyone who knows me. In the three years since having bedbugs, I’ve ripped apart more hotel rooms than Johnny Depp. The difference is; I put them back together.

The discovery of the bites threw me into a panic. Tex, of course. was on call at the hospital. That’s always where my husband is when anything important happens. During the apocalypse, try his pager; Mini-Tex and I will be sheltering underground somewhere and I of course will have forgotten my phone. So Tex was away, leaving no one to help me, or calm me in my bedbug bitten, acne ridden state.

What followed was a four hour assault on our beds, linens and washing machine. Not one to let the fact that I’m enormously fat and in no condition to be throwing mattresses over my shoulder like matchsticks, I set about stripping all of the beds. (That was my pregnancy announcement for all you readers, because nothing goes together quite like pestilence and replicating oneself. It’s like PB and J really.)

I carefully peeled back mattress covers. I hoisted box springs over my head and studied them like ancient runes. I chucked pillowcases into the drum of our washer with so much animosity that one would have thought they wronged my mother. (No doubt by insinuating that she looked a day over 38.)

At midnight I fell into an anxiety fueled stupor, reliving the horrible weeks following my son’s birth in my head. Being a reasonable person, I of course did not blame my spouse or intimate that he was lazy and awful in any way for not being there to assist me. And I definitely did not send eight texts to this effect because as we’ve established, I am both a reasonable and loving person.

The next morning, the pimple was throbbing. This was the pimple to rule them all. This was my comeuppance for having nice skin throughout high school, my karmic, dermatologic reckoning. Two years ago, I lanced a pimple for Tex. I sent him a message saying that he was to return the favor as soon as he got home.

The pain of my pimple got worse over the course of the day. In my head I pictured all of the bacteria living in the pimple copulating and partying wildly like it was spring break in Panama. During noon hour yoga, I counted down the hours until Tex would lance it. After yoga, I began counting the minutes, picturing my pimple’s demise with the same joy that oppressed people must feel about the murder of their tyrant.

Finally, I could wait no longer and biked Mini-Tex and myself to the park by the hospital to wait for my husband and his happy, stabby scalpel. Only this is what happened instead when he arrived at the playground.

Tex – That isn’t a pimple, its herpes.

Unwashed – Did you just tell me that I have herpes IN A PARK??!

Tex – It’s better known as shingles but yes, all those spots are Herpes zoster.

Unwashed – I have three pieces of bad news for you: 1. You’re wrong 2. We have bedbugs- those are bedbug bites and finally 3. You married someone who now has bad skin and you’re stuck with me and my pustules forever. Now please be a dear and lance the painful bit on my back.

Tex refused. Presumably because he had stopped loving me once he discovered I had bad skin. Next, he tried a different tactic; he got out his phone and showed me pictures of people with shingles and those with bedbug bites.

It was in that moment that I understood how my husband felt when he went to the abstract modern art exhibition with me. Upon discovering me on the verge of happy tears in front of a streaky, colourful painting depicting a garden he whispered “Are you seeing the faces in the coffee grounds?” and then left to find a coffee place.

Tex ~Holding up a picture of a person with shingles~ “Do you see the verticules?”

(Verticules may be a made up word. Whatever he said sounded a lot like that though.)

Unwashed – “No, it’s a gross picture of a person’s skin.”

Tex ~Holding up a picture of bedbug bites~ “Look at the difference in distribution.”

Unwashed – “That is also a gross picture of a person’s skin. Please put your phone away and lance my back.”

Then we decided to give it a rest until Tex wised up and realized I was right, so we headed to the mall to look at the blow up Halloween decorations. Because nothing distracts from pain better than forcing your terrified toddler to touch a vampire Minion. En route, the pain in my back which had been growing all day began to creep up my neck.

Unwashed – “For serious, you need to lance my back. The pain is in my neck now. Also we need to look up where the nearest exterminator is.”

Tex – “You need to go to emerg.”

An hour later, a doctor who works with Tex asked me why my doctor-at-home wasn’t working. Then she suggested that I try turning him off and back on again. After that, she gave me a prescription for an anti-viral to treat shingles and instructions to feed Tex better so he would be an actual doctor to me. She was super confused when I all but bear hugged her out of relief that the spots weren’t bedbug bites. Really, she could have said anything short of “cancer” and as long as it wasn’t bedbugs I would have done an end zone dance of elation.

The pharmacist gave me a joke of a prescription: two giant horse pills that I was to take three times a day for a week. My response was “Sir, do you actually expect me to do that? I couldn’t even remember my birth control pills that were once a day! There was a reason I was five months pregnant at my wedding.” In other news, I now can’t go back to the pharmacy.

Fresh off the high of discovering that we don’t have bedbugs again, I decided to look into this whole “shingles” business and Googled “Shingles in thirty year old”. This was a mistake. As poor a physician as I make, Dr. Google is worse. Apparently shingles pain can become so bad if you get it in your eyes that people commit suicide. That is possibly even scarier than vampire Minions.

I have it easy. My husband caught the infection before most people even know they’re sick. Also it’s on my back, not in my eyes. Consequently my nerve pain amounts to extreme itchiness. Rather than reaching for a gun, I want to find a grizzled oak tree to rub myself up against like a bear.

As it is, I’m going to finally retire to bed- to use Tex as a human scratching post. It’s his punishment for not letting his pregnant, shingles ridden wife turn on the air conditioning in October. For serious, it’s 74 degrees Fahrenheit in here. It’s a sauna, I half expect to hear rocks hissing in the corner and while beer-bellied, hairy men air out their manboobs on my living room couch. And there, while rubbing my husband’s shoulder blades against my rash, I will sleep the contented sleep of one who merely has nerve pain and not a bedbug infestation.

 

 

 

For those of you who actually clicked on the link to my mother’s alleged Go Fund Me facelift page, you will note there is no such site. I debated creating one in jest but decided that it was too mean and was also nervous that people might donate because unlike my mother, I like her face just the way it is. I think she looks lovely. To quote Shane Koyczan, Canada’s premier poet (meaning that no one has any clue who he is), “[Childrens’] definition of the word beauty begins with “Mom”.”

Things Travel Guides Ought To Tell You About Newfoundland

  1. It’s always referred to as “the Rock”

This makes the place sound sexier than it is. In our extensive travels of the island, I met no former pro wrestlers. This would have been disappointing if Dwayne Johnson was my type, as it is, I’m partial to Pierce Brosnan and his squinty eyes. Also it should be called “the Cliff”, there were hills everywhere. I thanked the fates that we chose to bring an umbrella stroller because I forget to put on the safety strap when using the nice stroller and it tends to roll away on me. I would have spent the entire time speeding down hills after the Bob had we brought it. Also, at one point in Cornerbrook, I’m fairly certain we were walking perpendicular to the ocean. The city is built into the side of a cliff.

  1. It is Hawaii of the North but don’t tell the locals this- they’ll injure themselves from laughing so hard and then you’ll feel badly for harming the Newfoundlanders because they were so kind.

Mini-Tex made friends with bunch of firefighters and got to drive two of the big red trucks. While my son and I were waiting for a firefighter to return with a giant prize bag of firefighting related goodies and a personalized hat, I shared the Hawaii comment with the rest of the fire company. Once EMS finished stitching up the firemens’ sides after they busted a gut laughing, I shared that as long as one dresses for the cold, the outdoors are pleasant and that the untouched beauty of the island reminded me of Maui. They still looked at me like I had three heads. What can I say? Rugged, wild landscapes are my thing, regardless of climate.

  1. Newfoundlander is a synonym for Mother Theresa

In the same way that Canadians wear pins of the flag abroad, I feel like Newfoundlanders should have some sort of distinctive marking to let others know that they’ll give the shirt off their backs and then apologize for shivering. We encountered countless kind people, but the ones that stood out were the firemen, the Airbnb host who made us stuffed squid for dinner just so we could try local food and the park ranger who took her lunch break to drive home, get us her daughter’s toys and three pairs of snow shoes from her personal collection. The ranger lent us all of this during our stay.

  1. If given the chance, the island will kill you and swiftly bury the remains. In snow.

Tex and I are outdoorsy; we’re accustomed to signs like “No cell signal. Be self-sufficient”, or having to make a call to his parents or the ranger to say that we’ve made it out of the bush safely. Newfoundland took this, and ratcheted the difficulty and fear level up about thirty-seven thousand notches. There’s nothing quite like avalanche warnings with accompanying messages of “Do you have a pickaxe and collapsible shovel with you?” to make a person question their decision to hike with their baby on their back.

 

We were never in the avalanche areas of course- the map outlined their locations and Tex claims he understood the inscrutable instructions to skirt the danger areas. Had I been traipsing through the wildnerness with anyone else, I would have turned back. As it is, the man has two more professional degrees than I do and I take him at his word. So away we went through deep, deep snow.

 

There’s only been one other time in my life, where I’ve had to cling to various plant life to hold myself onto the mountain while hiking. And that was in Maui, where there was no snow and I didn’t have a two year old on my back. The adrenaline released by the prospect of tumbling off the cliff with your offspring sharpens your reflexes. That said, Mini-Tex loved every minute of it and talks about scaling the 800 foot waterfall.

  1. Seal tastes like wet dog fur

I suggest combining a gram of it with a pound of ketchup to render it palatable. It was Tex’s goal to eat as many forms of wildlife as he could in as many ways possible. We ate moose pie, moose soup, moose burgers, moose sausage, seal flipper pie, seal flipper stew, seal flipper sausage. The man would roast up a porcupine and declare it scrumptious. On occasion, Tex reminds me of Bart Simpson when the cartoon family visits New York City. In the episode, Bart attempts to attract sympathy and spare change from his fellow metro passengers by claiming that he was born without taste buds, then licks a subway handrail as proof. The difference being that my face after tasting seal looks like Bart’s whereas my husband wears an expression of contemplative delight.

None of this is published in the travel guides, but I thought you should know. Also don’t eat seal. It’s not an animal cruelty thing- it’s a taste thing. Even months later, I still sometimes burp the flavor.

Put Away Your Zagat Guide, This is the Country

I grew up in the throbbing metropolis which is known for having too many people in too small a space. This leads to phenomenon such as line ups, traffic jams and general rage. The last one may just be something I have when in the throbbing metropolis but still. The upshot of this is, I line up. I am awesome at lining up. In addition, I rock at showing up early to avoid the aforementioned line ups.

The country, or the middle of nowhere, where I currently reside has lots of space and very few people. Yet instinctively, I still stick to my learned habits of showing up early and expecting a mad house to events. It’s exactly like the “Field of Dreams” where they say “If you build it, they will come” only there’s nothing built and yet I’m still standing here waiting for masses of people.

For example Santa visits. In the throbbing metropolis Santa is available all day, every day the month of December. Parents cut off their right arms to pay to meet the jolly guy and then turn sideways for the photo to hide their missing limb while underpaid youth wish them “Merry Christmas”. Families wait upwards of an hour for this privilege. This is my normal. This is what I know.

So when I found out that Santa only met twice in December, for only two hours, at what we call our local mall, I expected a madhouse. I debated the merits of the baby carrier versus the stroller in the event that we were trampled in the rush to get to Santa. I ultimately concluded that the stroller could double as an ankle battering ram as well as protection for our son. I made my husband take out fifty dollars in bills because I knew these kinds of places only accepted cash. The four of us, my husband Tex, myself, our au pair and my son had an early supper so we could be there thirty minutes before Santa arrived to line up.

Being from the middle of nowhere, my husband Tex tried to reason with me, saying the five minutes was more than enough time. But he quickly lost that argument because I’m from the throbbing metropolis- we metropolites KNOW we are right. Always.

Supper took a while. As it does with a toddler. Also I insisted on bathing our son and dressing him in a specific outfit and that everyone freshen up. Because I am unreasonable seeker of memories and a tyrant. It’s one of my best qualities. All of this prepping and unnecessary eating meant that we were only twenty five minutes early instead of thirty.

“Go, Go GO!” I shouted to our au pair as our husband dropped the three of us at the entrance so we wouldn’t waste the thirty seconds it took to park. “We’re late!” I cried. I tucked Mini-Tex under my arm like a football and sprinted for the doors slamming through them. There was no time to wait for the slow automatic door to open. We were late.

I ran past the bank and the store that sells tissue masquerading as clothing to teenagers all the way to the giant Christmas tree at the center of the mall to see… nothing. There was no one there except for the sign saying the times when Santa would appear and an empty chair.

One minute later, my husband appeared. “Excellent” he said “There’s no one here, can we go grocery shopping now?”

“NO!” I cried, “The crowds will arrive any second- we have to get into line!”

The urgency in my voice and my statement would have made a lot more sense if there had been more than you know, fifteen people in the whole mall. And by fifteen people, I mean they were all scattered either working or shopping in the stores and clearly not there to see St. Nick.

“Oooooook” said my husband in the “I’m going to leave you to this” way that he does when I get crazy. “I’m going to do our shopping and come back in twenty minutes” Then he and our au pair took off and Mini-Tex and I wandered the vacant mall for twenty minutes. Mini-Tex mauled the Christmas decorations while I was on high alert, ready to start throwing elbows and fighting the throngs of people who would inevitably appear in an enormous group to meet Santa and take up the full two hours so Mini-Tex missed out.

Just so you know, we weren’t the first ones to meet Santa. Five minutes later, at the sound of the jingle bells, a family materialized out of nowhere and rushed Father Christmas. Exactly like I predicted. Then our son had a full five minutes with Santa. I’d like to say this is because he loved Santa so much but it was actually because Santa was smitten with our au pair and tried unsuccessfully to convince her to sit on his lap. Also the whole interaction was free. Well unless you count creepiness as a price in which case Janey our au pair paid dearly.

One would have thought I learned my lesson.

But no. Last week the circus rolled into town. I was unreasonably excited the whole week. Because nothing happens here. Well not nothing, but traveling acts are few and far between. I may have shaken my son awake that morning “The circus is coming!” in an effort to make him as excited as I was.

I had the day planned down to the minute. Every moment was used to ready ourselves for the circus. I bathed. Mini-Tex had a bath. I did laundry so he would have an adorable outfit to wear. If I had owned Spanx, I would have broken those out to ensure attractive and svelte looking family photos. I took Mini-Tex to the indoor playground as soon as it opened and ran him like a tiny greyhound so he’d nap before noon.

My husband got off work early that day. As he walked in the door he shouted “I forgot my phone”. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem except that THE TICKETS WERE ON HIS PHONE. Luckily, thanks to my advance planning, my son and I were ready. So we all hopped on our bikes and cycled back across town to retrieve Tex’s phone.

This makes it sound like a gigantic, athletic debacle, but across town to the hospital where Tex works is all of two kilometers away. However the upshot of this is that we were only twenty minutes early, rather than the thirty minutes that I had planned for.

Biking back from the hospital, I resisted the urge to shout “What’s our time?” at my husband at every stop sign. I remembered the Santa Claus meet and greet. I also calmed myself by picturing a warm, sunny beach. Of course I wouldn’t be lying on it, because even in my fantasies, I realize that such a place would result in my pale skinned death. But I also imagined a giant curtained cabana that I could peek out of at said scene. In between sitting in absolute darkness.

I managed to keep my calm long enough to stop to get Mini-Tex a snack. A hotdog, because he has an obsession with the book “The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog”. Previous to this, Mini-Tex had never shown any interest in hotdogs and I had actually thrown out two packages because my husband and I don’t eat them either. However they seem like good toddler food so I bought them.

Walking into the tent, I expected bedlam, with parents frantically throwing diapers bags and coats over the bleachers to reserve seats. Instead we were met with strobe lights, the smell of popcorn and a whole lot of empty stands. There were about ten people there.

Even with all that empty space, I was still judicious about choosing where to sit. After all, the tent could fill up at any time. We biked through the back field, so it’s possible we missed a lineup of cars all paying thirty dollars to park. I resisted the urge to walk around the entire tent in order to determine the best vantage point. Instead, I picked a side and a row a little ways up, explaining that even if people filled the rows in front; we’d still have an excellent view.

Then we waited and Mini-Tex finished his hot dog. And requested another. So Tex ran out and returned within thirty seconds with a second hotdog. Apparently not even the concession stand was busy. A handful of people trickled in. Mini-Tex demolished a second hotdog. A clown came around and took photos with all the groups. A family trooped into our section and took up the back row. I tensed up expecting a swarm of people at the last minute.

Mini-Tex requested yet another hotdog. While peering around at the empty rows, I silently vowed to write “The Pigeon Eats Kale Salad”. Then I placed the tiny Skip Hop penguin back pack on the bleacher next to me, silently cursing myself for not bringing a large bag, because no doubt when the crush of people arrived, I’d be smushed up against a large, hairy man who bathed even less often than I did. I asked Tex the time. The show was supposed to start. I scanned the entrance, expecting a stampede of people. The show did not start. Apparently the circus also expected more people.

I silently and smugly congratulated my urban self for arriving early and getting the best spot before all these late comer rural people arrived. Three more people walked in and seated themselves across the ring.

Then the show started and I conceded that I may have to stop being quite so Type A if we’re going to live here for any length of time. Well you know unless we want to be the people who show up an hour before the party starts. But nobody likes them.

Muscly CFL Footballers Drinking Egg Smoothies Make The Best Housemates. Just In Case You Were Wondering.

I lived with a CFL footballer. Not like lived with as in passing him in the kitchen on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night being all “Hey Craig, having your 2 AM egg smoothie? Nice. Well I have to pee”, but more like lived with in the same heritage home that had been divided into apartments. Although the egg smoothie bit is totally true, his wife wrote about it on her blog. Apparently footballers get up in the middle of the night and down a glass of a dozen raw eggs. I found this deeply upsetting because

  1. That would give me a wicked stomachache and heartburn
  2. If I’m up in the middle of the night, it had better be for the purposes of consuming something delicious, like my husband’s lunch.

Even though Craig and I were in separate apartments, it still totally counts. I lived with a footballer, that makes me 3,000% more sporty than before. Really ask me about anything athletic- I’ll know the answer as long as it’s “What colour is a football?” and “Why are there names on the back of jerseys?”

Also, I saw Craig a lot. Mostly when he would walk past my son and I while we were playing on the lawn, with me completely entombed in my sun protective gear looking like I was on my way to rob a bank that had a rule requiring people wear large hats. Craig, for his part would wave, say “Hello” and act normal, like he always lived with women vampires. I would then wave back while holding a Bubble Guppy and possibly pull down my buff so my voice wasn’t muffled to ask how he was. Regardless, Craig the footballer was super nice which was not what I was expecting.

For starters, he’s the size of a house. I’m fairly certain that once I heard him get stuck in the doorway when he forgot to turn sideways to exit his apartment. No doubt his poor wife had to call the nice European couple next door to help pull him out.

winnie_the_pooh_s_ordeal__part_2__by_psudders0121-d6xsknc

In my mind it was exactly like this but instead of a cuddly bear, it was a giant, muscly footballer. Also his wife is significantly more comely than rabbit. Photo Credit : deviantart.com

This hunch was confirmed when Craig showed me the tennis ball that he had hung from the ceiling to remind himself to duck before entering the bathroom because he bumped his head on the doorframe so often. Heritage homes were not designed with men the size of houses in mind.

Between his physique and career choice, I half expected him to be constantly pulling the legs off of creatures as a demonstration of his strength because he LOOKED like a man that could do that. Like some Gaston come to life, who would, in addition to eating five dozen eggs, would remove the limbs of eight dozen crabs and fry them up as a snack.

Given that Craig is a celebrity who appears on national television, I also expected him to be aloof; instead, when I asked him if he would sign a ball, he offered to take it in for the whole team to sign it! I NEVER would have thought to ask for this. For starters, I thought that kind of thing only happened to people with either a terminal illness or a lot of money. While my vampire-ism is unsightly, it’s not deadly, and being a stay at home mom is not the highest paying job I’ve held.

As it was, I had already purchased a ball. A basketball, because my Dad thinks I’m funny, and likes my jokes. And while all of the Blue Bombers’ signatures would have been neat, I didn’t live with all of them. And only Craig attempted to high-five my son. So his signature seemed far cooler to me.

Hence why Craig very kindly inscribed his name and number on a basketball for me, along with the message “I hope your grandsons know more about football than your daughter.”20180627_181224

This may possibly be the only photo of Craig on the internet holding a basketball. Also, he forgot to angle himself in the doorway, so when he flexed his biceps after the picture was taken, he became lodged in the doorway again. It took a crow bar and a container of bacon grease to get him out.

Also please note how humble this man is, the message is written in tiny letters, as if he expected me to take it to all the other celebrity athletes I know to have them sign too. Happy belated Father’s day Dad, this may also be your birthday gift because I’m desperately disorganized.

Forget Locking Up Your Daughters, You Need To Lock Up Your Washers

So a couple of weeks back, I did something bad. Not like murdering someone and tossing the body under a bridge bad, but worse than stealing Tex’s car keys so I could secretly eat Halloween candy for breakfast. (He locks our Halloween candy in the car because I’m like a devious, curly haired raccoon.) I broke our washing machine.

To be fair, Tex gave me permission to do it. Because when I held up our bathmat that had seen better, cleaner days, and asked “Can I wash this in the machine?” Tex replied “Yes”. So he’s an accomplice in the death of our washing machine. I would like you all to remember that when the Maytag police show up at my door. Yes, our son will be an orphan but at least I won’t go to appliance prison alone.

But the thing is, I’ve done this before. Not washed our bath mat, but when we were staying in the walk-in closet a couple of months ago, the place came fully furnished. Complete with a bathmat that was proving the theory of evolution every single day by spawning new and disgusting creatures for Tex and I to squish under our feet.

trash heap

(This trash heap from the The trash heap from the Fraggles was cleaner and less concerning than the walk-in closet’s bathmat. Photo Credit: youtube.com

I’m the Great Unwashed. I freely told my doctor that I only bathe once a week. I regularly let my son cover himself head to toe in dirt and then send him to daycare like a living, breathing Pig Pen. However, this bathmat was a whole different, more gag worthy version of dirty. One that I am not comfortable with.

That’s saying something.

The bathmat was so dirty that you could feel bacteria wrapping their mutant tentacle arms around your toes when you stepped on it. Like a horror movie crossed with science fiction. Had I left the bathmat as it was, it undoubtedly would have inched its way to our bed during the night and suffocated us in our sleep. It was maybe eight days away from forming intelligent life.

So I washed the walk-in closet’s bathmat. I didn’t have high expectations. In fact a part of me expected the creature to spawn in the water so that when I came back down, it would have sprouted legs and taken off with the washing machine, dryer and the random giant painting of a pear in the basement.

A better option would have been to use fire. Or even better Tex’s ray gun that he still claims doesn’t exist. Although undoubtedly Tex would deem that washing a bathmat was an inappropriate use for a ray gun. As it was, all I had was a washer. So I threw the sucker in.

It was so disgusting I may have used tongs to transport it downstairs. Then I said goodbye to the washing machine, dryer and the random painting. But forty minutes later when the cycle finished, lo and behold the washing machine was still there. And after drying- it looked like a whole new mat. Complete with a different colour! Like entirely different. I still shudder when I think about the degree of change.

The whole point of that new life form filled story was that I have successfully washed bathmats before. And also if pushed I can kill entire civilizations. But only those living on towels.

Fast forward two months when we are back at home in our house. While washing our bathmat I discovered something- bathmat washings are not like cats. Both in the way that you can’t put bathmats in the crate, spray water at them and hope for the best like my sister did once with one of our cats; more in the way that cats have nine lives and apparently a person only gets to wash a bathmat successfully once in their life.

I washed our bathmat and destroyed our washing machine.

Like completely destroyed it.

Part of me wished that I had ruined the walk-in closets washing machine because there were six other units in the building so I could have walked away and pretended it was someone else. But no, it was OUR washing machine, in OUR house and there was only one person who could take the blame.

There was water sitting in the drum. There were little bits of rubber everywhere. And I could tell that this rubber-bitty situation continued all the way through the washing machine’s innards. “Tex?” I called, inhaling deeply to mentally fortify myself before admitting my mistake, “I, um, I did something bad.”

The next three hours were my and Tex’s punishment because I had to put our son to bed by myself while Tex took apart every single piece of the washer and laid it out on our basement floor. Then he swore. And not in the normal Tex way, when he uses curse words as exclamation points. For example “It’s a &%$@ing beautiful day!”

No, this was more of an angry pirate, on a sinking ship, fighting a giant shark for his peg leg kind of swearing. I’ve never heard the word “tree” included in a curse before. Once or twice, I’d poke my head around the stairs and ask ruefully whether I could help. Then Tex would sigh, mutter another new profanity into the belly of our former washing machine and say “No, just go upstairs and never wash another bathmat again.”

It took him three hours to fix the washing machine.

Three hours.

Nothing takes my husband three hours. The man is a farm boy, engineer, doctor, black smith who knows how to pick locks. I’m not even sure his ray gun took him that long to put together. Although he swears up and down that it doesn’t exist.

And we’re getting to the worst part.

The repair didn’t work.

Well, not the first time.

Tex of course successfully ran a test load of laundry. And then I ran a load of laundry and everything was fine.

But then, oh then, my parents came to visit. Which everyone knows is a completely stress free experience for all involved, and when I washed the sheets, a little bit of water trickled out the bottom. I ignored it. Because I make bad decisions like that. Regularly. And I’ve been known to get a little splashy with the liquid soap sometimes. Also did I mention we have a two year old? I found a chunk of banana in my shoe the other day. Stuff happens. A little water can be ignored.

But then I made the mistake of doing two loads back to back. And then there was a puddle. One large enough to soak my socks if I wore socks. I brought my mother into my confidence. “You mustn’t tell Tex” and she agreed especially after I told her about the tree curse word thing.

Previously, in my life, when my butt sat much closer to my back and I didn’t have weird lines in between my boobs that may or may not be wrinkles, I didn’t do laundry often. And by “not often” I mean, I wore things three or four times until I determined that they smelled (OK, maybe five or six). I worked at many different job sites so wearing the same outfit the entire week wasn’t an issue. The point is- I am accustomed to being a little dirty. I am after all the Great Unwashed.

By contrast, Tex might as well be known as the Obsessively Cleaned. He loves washed clothes. He attacks stains with the same vigor and effort that Mr. Clean would if he showed up at your door, all bald, shiny, and grinning.  For the record it’s equally disturbing to watch.

There was only so long that I could put off doing laundry. If Tex had been away, my son and I might have gone months. I mean at some point, when the stink lines coming off my and my toddler’s body became visible, I might have sprayed some Febreeze, but then we would have been fine for another month. As it was, I got a week in before I was forced to tell Tex.

Happily, he fixed it in an hour. It’s been working since then. Now everyone knock on wood for me.

 

If This Isn’t Contraception I Don’t Know What Is

Greetings from the center of the sun. Or as I like to call it “home”. In a fit of insanity, I chose to live in a fourth floor walk-up that’s the size of a celebrity’s walk in closet. The kicker is NOT the forty steps up to our suite, no, it’s the lack of air conditioning.

So we’ve all become nudists. Mini-Tex has stopped saying “Mommy! Your pants! Find your pants!” when I walk around now. We can all just sit on the couch in a partially-clothed, over-heated heap. The newest toddler game has segued from jumping on the couch to sticking himself to the couch. Given that he was always wearing clothing before, Mini-Tex only just discovered the joy and entertainment of peeling bare skin off vinyl. A trick he repeats over and over in the way two year olds do.

For some strange reason when Mini-Tex goes to bed, my husband and I don’t find the same glee in unsticking our bare skin from the couch.

Fun Fact– Air conditioning changed the timing of babies. Previously people didn’t want to bang-a-lang when their goolies were all sweaty, so fewer babies were born in April and May. But with the advent of central air suddenly people were bumping uglies year round and there were more spring babies. True story.

Tex and I lived this fact the other night. So it was 35 degrees Celsius outside and approximately 7,000 degrees in our apartment. Mini Tex had demanded the fan be moved to the bedroom so my husband and I were left to sweat it out in a sticky, mostly naked mess on the couch. Sounds hot right?

You better believe it was. I mean I was lying there, completely motionless and yet beads of sweat still were forming under my eyes. If that isn’t hot, I don’t know what is. The couch is small, so my legs were draped over Tex. He put a hand on my knee, then moved it to my ankle and uttered the words every woman desires to hear. “Your entire body feels like a dog’s nose- vaguely moist and clammy.”

My God, it was like the trilogy of Fifty Shade of Grey right there in one sentence.

“You know,” I responded “now would be as good a time as any to experiment with ice cubes”.

“Do we have ice?”

I snorted. “This place doesn’t have a pot with handles. Do you think there’s an ice tray?”

“There are frozen peas.”

The prospect removing a package of frozen peas to cool myself was attractive, but liable to be messy given my habit of tearing into the plastic bags like a cougar ripping into a gazelle. It makes for a lot of large and oddly shaped holes, which would make for many tiny, frozen marbles on the floor. I shot down the idea “Nope. The pork chops could defrost on my stomach though.”

In the end, we stole the fan back from a sleeping Mini-Tex and lay on the couch thinking about all the celibate couples like ourselves before the advent of air conditioning.

What Matters

You changed

out of your new outfit

that you proudly

modeled for me

because it showed

your upper arms

 

Even my mother

whose biceps are

large stones

beneath her fit skin

HATES  her upper arms

 

But I found it funny

given that it was here

in this sunny kitchen

over the endless

buffet of soul food

that you served

of stories

 

About building character

about seeing the person

through the disability

about what it took

to offer true dignity

that I learned

what truly matters

 

Upper arms don’t

but I understood

the costume change

 

If I’m honest

your arms

have never been

my favourite parts of you

your compassion

your bold laugh

your inherent ability

to show respect

to everyone

always seem

to come first

Our Family’s Paris Accord – A Year Later

All non-hippies or those who don’t enjoy puffed bulgur and braiding their underarm hair may ignore this post.

A year and a month ago, I showed “Before the Flood” to Tex. That coupled with Trumps defection from the Paris accord caused our family to write our own Paris accord and make some large scale changes to how we live. I wrote about the initial progress a couple months in after we received our cargo trike but since then, haven’t offered any updates. Here is how we have been doing on all our environmental goals. We met every single goal on our accord except for the number of car free days.

 

Eating less beef

We have done that. Despite having cattle ranchers as relatives, we have done that, which is impressive. It helps that cousins have started raising pigs and chickens, meaning that my city slicker self has someone to turn to when we start raising our own non bovine livestock. Ultimately, we didn’t feel this change keenly.

 

Using the car less

I will be honest and say that we failed to meet our lofty goal of driving only 15,000 kilometers a year but met our lower goal of reducing our mileage by 6,000 kilometers. Most people put approximately 20,000 kilometers on a vehicle per year and the majority of families have two vehicles or more, meaning that they drive about 40,000 kilometers a year. We have one car and previous to our agreement, had been putting about 25,000+ kilometers on each year. Because of Tex’s work which required him to frequently visit the city and the distance to said major city, we ended up putting 19,000 kilometers on the car which was over a 20% improvement on the previous year. We hope to decrease that next year.

 

Car free days

Our au pair was not a fan of the bike and chose to use the stroller when it was warm and discreetly take the car keys when it was cold. Between this and the significant amount of time we spent living in the big city without our bike so Tex could receive training for his job, it meant that we had fewer car free days this winter than hoped. Our goal was 115 car free days last year. I think we had around 80. Given that we spent five and half months in a city without our bikes, I think that’s pretty good. I absolutely think we will achieve that goal this year as Tex has completed all of his training this year and will remain at home for eleven months this year.

At home, we do not use the car. Even in the winter Tex would pack up our son and ride off to the grocery store. My personal favourite example of Tex choosing the bike over the car was when he took Mini-Tex to see the Christmas lights around town. They were out for an hour and our son came back with his eyes alight and red little cheeks. Boy was he delighted. In the car, our little boy faces backwards so he rarely has the view we do and will often miss things, but on the bike, he faces the same direction so it’s more fun.

Both Mini-Tex and myself will be acquiring neoprene masks so that we can bike comfortably in the winter. This is Tex’s get up in order to get to work on the coldest of days.

20171028_075342

This gear could also be used in the Antarctic or on the moon. Photo Credit : Tex

I should also mention that although I have NEVER received as much respect as a cyclist as I have in our small town- people will regularly move over to the other side of the road to give me a full lane when passing, Tex did not have the same experience in the winter. The amount of snow we receive is so great that it builds up along the roads and takes up about a lane, narrowing the streets. Around about December, Tex was forced to put a pool noodle on his bike to remind motorists to give him space. Since the spring thaw, he’s removed the tube of green foam, but it is still in our shed for next winter. Tex also bikes home from work at 12 AM on occasion, so he needs extra visibility and space.

Tex’s bike’s odometer just passed 800 while our cargo trike passed 1300. If anything, I see us increasing the mileage on our bikes and decreasing the mileage on the car this year.

 

Air travel

This was a sensitive point of shame for me, as air travel is one of the worst actions one can take in terms of environmental impact. I made two unplanned trips home this past year in addition to making stopovers while en route to a conference for Tex’s work- both there and back.

My Grandma passed away in February. One trip was to see her before she died and the other was to attend her funeral. While I am happy that I chose to spend time with my family during the difficult and sad period, ultimately Tex and I have decided that the cost of the travel was far too great for the environment, a strain on our finances and caused a great deal of personal stress for our family, so we will be remaining at home for quite a while. My goal is to fly only once this year for a wedding.

 

Reducing packaging and waste

We bought in bulk this year. A lot, which was a challenge because the bulk products available in town are limited. Meaning that each time we visited the big city, on our way to Tex’s training, we would stop at a bulk store and fill up every single one of our available containers.

I am proud to say that even when we were in the city, I continued to compost. The biggest challenge was finding local hippies. Luckily there was a large garden with a composter down the street from where we rented an apartment. So I showed up one morning and asked very sweetly if I could empty my giant bag of eggshells and vegetable peels into it. Between my short stature, my high voice and my bright clothing choices, I’m often mistaken for someone much younger. So this man, whose door I knocked on, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and silently questioned himself why a child was holding a bag or organic waste then said “yes”. Boy was I happy.

 

Increasing our dependence and support of renewable energy

The solar panels were installed at the farm last August and have been chugging along ever since then. We have discussed installing more panels when we move there to support the energy required for an electric car as well as an electric furnace.

 

No internet

This isn’t really an environmental move so much as a lifestyle move, although it does mean fewer electronics are plugged in at our home. We got rid of our internet at the end of December and I finally chucked my smartphone in February. I have not regretted either decision once. Tex has a limited amount of data, meaning that if I want to use the internet, I head to the library.

All libraries offer free wifi. All librarians are helpful. Spending more time at a library has NEVER hurt anyone ever and more than likely will result in more reading and learning.

For me personally, no internet means more space to think. My time is not absorbed by social media or random click bait that I am want to fall prey to. I’ve read more books since getting rid of the internet and my smartphone, I’ve felt like a more engaged and attentive parent. But the most creatively rewarding aspect has been the effect it has had on my writing. While I haven’t been posting here, I have been writing up a storm for other projects, a feat I’m quite proud of. Ultimately this has been an excellent choice for me, although it annoys and confounds the living hell out of my family.

I must say that Mini-Tex misses music. Any grandparents out there are permitted to buy him children’s soundtracks, or his most coveted music- the Frozen soundtrack. Aside from that, a paper map in the car has replaced Google maps, in addition to an increased sense of direction on my part.

A year later, that’s where we are. I can’t wait for the environmental goals we will reach in the coming year.

Seeking Short Term Rental- Frat House Adjacent With Live-In Poltergeist Preferred

I failed being an adult. Again. It’s worse than the time I wiped my son’s butt with one of his socks but better than the time that I didn’t change the oil in my car for six months. Tex is working in the big smoke for a couple of months and wanted Mini-Tex and I to accompany him. Thus I was charged with finding us accommodations. No small feat because the place needed

  • To be available for one and three quarter months starting May 7th
  • To be furnished
  • To be within walking distance of Tex’s work
  • Also to be in our limited price range

In retrospect, Tex should have been the one to search for housing because I choose housing based on

  1. The proximity to frat houses. My ideal living space is a soundproofed duplex with frat boys on the other side, so I can be right on top of the action. Isn’t “Baby’s First Kegger” one of the major milestones? Of course Mini-Tex wouldn’t imbibe; he’d just be the adorable celebrated mascot that the young men would nickname “Little Bro”.

 

Frat boys are the literary equivalent of living on a gold mine. They create it just by virtue of doing everyday actions, for example peeing. Most people choose to do this in the privacy of bathrooms. By contrast frat boys will take any old alleyway. Even the one that my kitchen faces.

  1. Amenities like functional plumbing are less important than say a poltergeist because how else am I going to explain who ate Tex’s lunch in the middle of the night?
  2. A self-described cheapskate, this quality is the key reason why I’ve lived in somewhat unique housing for the majority of my adult life.

As it was, Tex works full time and I am a stay at home Mom, meaning that procuring a short term rental fell to me. After a couple of false starts- no one responded to my frat house with poltergeist ad, we found a place. Tex is a fan of the apartment in spite of the fact that it’s the size of a celebrity’s walk-in closet. I mean yes, there’s a bed in the kitchen and we have to move the kitchen table and chairs one way if we want to sleep and back the other way to open the dishwasher, but first world problems – am I right? I keep telling myself that it’s training for if I ever lose my mind and embark on a train trip across Canada and have to shower over a toilet for two weeks. These are the kinds of life skills I was missing.

Also, my refrigerator Tetris skills have never been sharper, due to the fact that one of the two vegetable crispers can’t be used because the bed prevents the fridge door from opening fully. Should TLC ever pilot a show “Food Storage Wars” which chronicles the struggle of polygamous families with thirteen teenage sons trying to fit the week’s groceries into a small space, I will swoop right in like an organizational Mary Poppins, only I’d have a parachute of kale rather than an umbrella.

As much as I joke, Mini-Tex LOVES the place. He is never more than five feet from either parent. If this doesn’t cement his attachment to us, I don’t know what will. Also the “using the back of the kitchen chairs as a framework to bounce himself on the bed” is the best toddler game ever. Two year olds don’t care if they can touch three out of four walls while standing in the middle of the room, or that it was the only place available, no, the springy nature of the futon coils is what counts.

The funniest part is, I’m beginning to like the Lilliputian life. I’m trying to convince Tex that we should actually become elves and live in a hollowed out tree. We’d have our mortgage paid off in no time.