Please Inscribe “She Did Actually Sleep With Tom Hanks” On My Headstone

I’m going to die. This house will kill me. Or rather my own decisions will finally catch up to me and I will perish.

There are no less than forty stairs from the entrance to our fourth floor walkup. I know because for the first two weeks that we lived here, I counted every time, wheezing “thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three…” because I was certain there were actually 400 stairs. I’ve stopped counting, which means that the house is secretly expanding and I’m actually climbing 372 steps each time to reach our apartment. I swear to you this house is like something out of Coraline.

Beldam

Did I fail to mention this demon lives in our closet? (Photo Credit : coraline.wikia.com)

It may actually only be forty stairs still. Only it’s actually double that number of steps because two year olds turn into a puddle of skin and fish crackers when told they have to exercise. Not unlike myself. So I have to first transport the groceries, or the laundry up the stairs then go back to retrieve Mini-Tex.

 

Halfway through this eighty step process, I start a running commentary: “The Great Unwashed now takes on the biggest challenge of her life- scaling Everest without oxygen. Will she collapse? Will her nose freeze from frostbite and fall off? Will she give up and demand that her two year old return the favor and carry her? The tension is incredible.”

 

For serious, this rental unit should come with a Sherpa. Because did I mention that the laundry is in the basement? Down an additional fifteen stairs? It’s like the universe is taunting me, trying to lure me over to the completely unwashed side, where laundry is cleaned but once a month, if that. Were it not for Tex’s insistence that clothing should not smell like a wild bear that’s rolled in a dead skunk, the diapers wouldn’t have even been washed- I would have just set them by the window to dry.

Please keep in mind that I climb those eighty stairs EVERY TIME I WANT TO LEAVE THE HOUSE. Ok, not every time, when Tex is home, I may collapse on the floor and insist he carry me. Once he finishes Sherpa-ing Mini-Tex back up the stairs. Regardless, on any given day, that is an absurd number of stairs.

Because let’s say for example that I want to do the laundry, go get groceries, return for Mini-Tex’s nap and then take him somewhere fun when he wakes up. That is over five hundred stairs. Unless of course I want to hang out in the basement and murdered by the dungeon goblins that live there.

Death by goblins becomes an appealing concept somewhere after the four hundredth step. Because, if I was dead, I wouldn’t have to climb anymore stairs.

Climbing five hundred stairs in a day does crazy things to a person’s brain. For example: “If I eat my child, I won’t have to carry him up anymore stairs.” Or “I wonder what would happen if I treated this jug of milk like a shotput and threw it up that flight of stairs so I didn’t have to carry it?”

For the record, Mini-Tex doesn’t have so much as a bite taken out of him and I have yet to create a UDFO (Unidentified Dairy Flying Object- because once you start hurling the milk, the yogurt and cheese quickly follows). But still, these thoughts happen.

Now if I’m discovered dead of a heart attack, you’ll know why. And you’ll also know what to write on my tombstone. Underneath in brackets please put “He was better than George.” It won’t matter that it’s not true-I’ll be dead. What will I care? But just think of all the shocked whispers from mourners passing my grave.

Addendum – We have since moved out of the sixth floor walkup celebrity closet however that doesn’t mean I have to stop writing about it. That place was a gold mine for stories and ridiculousness.

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In Ten Years

My sister and I didn’t like the shots. Either the colour was off, one child wasn’t looking, or the framing was wrong.

But you know what?

None of it matters.

Because in ten years, we won’t remember any of that.

Instead we’ll look at that slightly imperfect image and think “our babies were so little”.

Or we’ll remember the moment when we first met up, stripped off the boys’ matching jackets and realized that we had almost dressed them in identical outfits.

Or the surprise I felt when I saw my brother-in-law walking in with my sister – he booked the day off work.

Or my gratitude when I watched my brother-in-law interact with all the babies and said a silent “thank you” to the universe that my sister ended up with someone so kind.

A gratitude that was almost matched by everyone’s delight when my husband showed up with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

I’ll remember my shock when my sister told me that she took my son down the 720 degree corkscrew slide. And that my son was the one to suggest such a thing. My little boy’s bravery was nearly outshone by his 6’6 uncle going down the same slide. I picture that giant man bursting out of the bottom like toothpaste exploding out of a tube after an elephant sits on it.

I’ll smile, when I think of the relief I felt when either Diana or I, caught one of our children wandering away out of the corner of our eye, only to see our Dad swoop in to herd the wayward child back.

And when we realized that both the toddler and the preschooler were completely toast and decided to take this imperfect picture, how both boys refused to remove their jackets afterwards until they were roasting.

All of this will be conjured up because of this imperfect photo and another set of photos which so perfectly captures the day. Right as we were leaving, Diana hopped into a photo booth with her son. Partway through, my little boy decided to crash the party. All the fun, surprise, joy, excitement and love of that day is held in that series of images. I’ll remember all of that.

The Unwashed Dating Game- Where We Pair Lecherous Old Men, Unemployed Scoundrels and Ne’er-do-wells With The Girlfriend Of Their Dreams!

Last August our au pair Janey arrived from Germany. She was gorgeous, positively stunning. To quote my mother-in-law “Janey looks like a movie star!”
As evidenced by the #MeToo movement, men always act respectfully and appropriately in the presence of beautiful young women. The gents in our town were no different. Regardless of where our family went, what we were doing or what Janey was wearing, for instance a full length parka and balaclava, men would hit on her. I’ve decided to rank their efforts, seeing as I had the privilege of witnessing all their amorous attempts to woo our au pair.

Suitor #1
The saying goes that “In spring a woman’s thoughts turn to fancy” this man clearly completed his required reading, because he knew the saying finished with “and they become randy when covered in baby puke”. I mean there’s nothing like the scent of someone else’s bodily fluids to get young people’s hearts a racing. Not only do I admire this man’s timing, I also applaud his respect for the women’s movement. Janey met suitor #1 in the hall of a hotel as she was unloading the car while I was stuck in the hotel washroom with a projectile vomiting toddler. Although she wasn’t covered head to toe in barf, most of the items she was ferrying to the hotel room were. This gentlemen looked right past all that, stuck to his feminism respecting guns and refrained from offering help, instead he asked her out.

Verdict? For his timing and gallant behavior, I award Suitor #1 three overstuffed, yogurt-puke soaked suitcases out of five.

Suitor #2
Everyone knows that weddings are a great place to pick up women, but oft overlooked meat markets are emergency rooms. There’s nothing like the shared experience of crippling abdominal pain to light the spark of romance. Holding his head in pain and smelling vaguely of feces, Suitor #2 spent a solid fifteen minutes looking at our son’s caregiver like she was a steak. Not even the presence of both her host mom and host dad or the two year old on Janey’s hip could deter this wannabe lover’s smoldering gaze.

Verdict? Suitor #2 ultimately didn’t act on his passion so I give him only one ruptured appendix out of five.

Suitor #3
Ah the May-December romance. There’s nothing sexier than a wrinkled man older than your Dad with a saggy flat butt. What young woman doesn’t want to supper at four o’clock then watch “The Antiques Roadshow” while falling asleep at seven pm? Suitor #3 recognized this and upped the ante; he showed his youthful street cred by offering to take her and another German fellow from the community for an afternoon of bird watching. This paramour also recognized that, too frequently, parents represent obstacles to young love and separated Janey from me while we were out together. His arguments were so persistent that he managed to score her phone number, ostensibly to pass along to the other young German fellow.

Verdict? I give Suitor #3 four creepy Playboy smoking jackets out of five. His persistence almost paid off had it not been for both Janey’s host mom and her mother swooping in to shout “Absolutely not!” when Suitor #3 tried to arrange a date.
Suitor #4
Now here was a man who understood what women want. Right off the bat he told Janey that he was unemployed- meaning that he had all the time in the world to devote to her. This Suitor then brought out the big guns; he complimented Janey’s caregiving abilities and intimated that she’d make an excellent stepmom to his child. As if all that wasn’t enough, he had bathed in the cologne of adulthood- alcohol. Never in her life had Janey encountered such an attractive potential mate. Suitor #4 recognized that our au pair might be overwhelmed by all his remarkable qualities so he continued to woo Janey, following her around the park. Where the previous suitor had been persistent, Suitor #4 was relentless, going so far as to follow her home when she refused his first twenty offers of a date.

Verdict? I give Suitor #4 five restraining orders out of five. He was irresistible in every way.
Although many attempted to win our au pair’s heart, Janey still managed to return to Germany single. Tragic, especially given the plethora of appropriate mates that our town was brimming with, perhaps her standards were just too high.

Failing At Being French

Some people aim for an authoritative parenting style, others a permissive, personally, I go for a Darwinian vibe in my daily life with my son. As in, if he manages not to be eaten by mountain lions, or freeze to death before age five, then he’ll probably develop the skills to survive most events in life unscathed.

Not really, but based on what happened last Easter, a person might assume that was my parenting strategy.

After finding all the eggs hidden in the house, my mother and I took Mini-Tex to the park on his brand spanking new push new tricycle. Sounds fabulous right? It wasn’t. It was Ontario, during spring, sort of, which is to say, it was windy, a little snowy without having the decency to be sunny or have any snow on the ground to reflect the meager amount of light coming from the sky.

Ontario can be a jerk like that.

As it was, my mother and I were trying to make the best of it. Enjoying one another’s company, talking while watching my son wander farther and father away from us into an open field.

I had just read a French parenting book which was all about how you should feed your children to wolves and allow them to fight for lives alone so they can develop independence. What can I say? The French are crazy, and clearly don’t love their kids. However the book claimed that if a parent did this, they could talk on the phone and drink their coffee in peace, so I was on board.

This was why when Mini-Tex wandered so far from me, inspecting all the grass in the field, I stayed put. That was when it happened- a rogue bobcat tried to eat my toddler.

Not actually. It was a suburb in Ontario. I’m not even sure they have rabbits let alone any predators. But Mini-Tex abruptly broke through a thin layer of ice covering a giant divot. It looked alarmingly like this.

The hole looked deeper than it was because when my two year old plunged through the ice, he fell on his knees, effectively soaking himself up to the armpits in freezing puddle water.

My mother and I screamed like frantic teenagers and sprinted towards him. I reached my child first and hauled his shocked little self out of the hole. “I’m chilly” Mini-Tex whimpered as I tucked him under my arm and ran with him like he was a football and I was about to score the final touchdown for the Superbowl.

My mother followed behind me. “Take the baby” she cried “I’ll get the toys”, gathering up the sand buckets and shovels we had brought to hack away at the permafrost. Without stopping to put on his helmet, or do up the safety straps, I deposited my toddler into the tricycle. Between his now soaked jacket, and his chubby toddler pudge, Mini-Tex was firmly wedged into the seat. The helmet and straps were merely a formality, a nod to our family’s respect for safety. But in the grand scheme of dangers, at that moment, my two year old was at greater risk of losing a foot to hypothermia than falling out of his new ride.

The three of us dashed towards my grandparents’ home, the only indicator of my speed was the sound of my mother’s wheezing behind me. A four time Boston Marathon alum, my mother is fast, so clearly the adrenaline coursing through my blood was having an effect on my stride.

Once inside the door, we set about stripping my frozen child. I pulled off his sodden jacket while my mother popped off my son’s boots, emptying a significant amount of frigid water onto the carpet in the process. Pants and socks were the next articles to go.

“Blankets!” my mom and I shouted as we propelled my pants-less toddler upstairs. My Gran met us on the landing with the requested item. “What happened?” she asked her voice the picture of concern. Once under the comfort of a warm quilt, Mini-Tex answered. “I fell in a muddy puddle.” He continued to tell the story all day, much to the delight of my family.

As much as I would love to drink my morning beverage in peace, I decided then that I wasn’t cut out for the French parenting style of allowing your preschooler to pilot hot air balloons alone or feed starving great white sharks hunks of steak. Quel dommage.