Four Years Ago Today

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I still relive this day in my head with the same joy and excitement that I felt climbing up that hill and kissing my new husband for so long that the minister commented on it. (Photo Credit : Sula)

Tex,

I’m sorry. Once again, you undoubtedly bought me the perfect card which sums up your feelings for me and inscribed it with a heartfelt and romantic message of gratitude and love. And in return you received a Happy Hanukkah card with a porcupine on it-which is a bit of a head-scratcher because to start with, we’re not Jewish. I’m a little rubbish at personal milestones.

Don’t let my inability to choose heartwarming stationary make you think that I don’t care. It sounds trite, but every single day you inspire me to be a better person; the kindness that you unconditionally show to the world makes me smile. And makes me wish I could be that nice. Most of the time, I settle for having a truly empathetic and loving spouse while continuing to be my mischievous and slightly unpleasant self.

I said it in our wedding vows, but I hunted you down with all the stealth and cunning of a puma. And every day I look at you and think “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” You’re the most funny, interesting, smart person I know. You’re the only person I ever dated who matched the magnitude of my passion and zest for life. Your deep commitment to your interests brings me joy. From the time we met, you are and remain, my favourite person ever. I can’t wait for our next wedding anniversary and all the ones to come.

Also, right now, hold onto those fluttery, nice feelings you have towards me. I need to confess something. I told our mailman that you’re a never-nude.

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It’s exactly like this. Only with black socks. Photo Credit : Twitter.

It just came out. Sorry. But it is odd that in the five years that we’ve been together, I’ve never once glimpsed your feet.

As always,

your loving, but overly chatty wife

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An Accurate Squash Recipe

Recipes read like joke books to me. In particular, the ones involving squash. I always look at the ingredients list and think “3 cups of squash? Are you kidding me?” What I’d like to know is; who are these people who just have three cups of squash? Do they not have gardens? Or mother-in-laws that farm? Are they the ones buying the teeny baby squashes that are sold in grocery stores by the pound for exorbitant prices?

Admittedly, I have less squash than I’ve had in previous years. And nothing will ever compare to the year of the gourds. That was the year that butternuts came like the plague only instead of grasshoppers, we got gourds, an endless parade of gourds. Not even the little ones that are sold in the grocery stores- these were giant butternut squash that ate the little grocery store squash for breakfast, then took over the zucchini patch for lunch.

Tex and I ate two hundred pounds of squash that year. Two hundred. By December I didn’t love my favourite squash recipe anymore. I used to be able to eat that salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, while Tex is willing to take one for the team and eat his family’s allotment of dog fur flavoured seal meat, around about January of the year of the gourds, my husband gave up eating squash. Meaning that in twelve months I ate more than my weight in gourds. That’s right, I ate a butternut person. And if my mother-in-law drops off another couple hundred pounds of squash at my door, I’d do it again.

I started hiding squash in things. Not like couches or other people’s cars, although that would have been brilliant idea and relieved me of a couple of gourds, more like in dishes. I discovered that squash thickens up homemade spaghetti sauce. And best of all- you can’t taste it. I mashed acorn squash into chili and then told Tex that it was just chili. Because otherwise he might have balked and gone out for KFC.

During the year of the squash, we had so much that Tex, my resident knife sharpener got tired of touching up the blades every other day and invested in a cleaver. The butternuts were rendered easier but the Koboka squash were still tough to crack. Don’t be upset if you’ve never seen or heard of a Koboka squash before, its part-gourd, part-medieval-cannonball and they’ve got a rind made of  cast iron.

My uncle who grew up on a farm suggested throwing the Kobokas down the stairs to crack them open. Not only would we have lost our damage deposit along with a means of accessing the laundry room in the basement but I suspect the Kobokas would have rolled away without a scratch. Tex purchased the cleaver specifically for them.

To cut up a Koboka, Tex would stand at one end of the kitchen, and using all of his farm boy strength combined with engineering know-how, chuck the cleaver at the Koboka like a hipster at an ax throwing competition. The cleaver would barely sink into the skin of the cannonball-squash-cross but it would be enough. Then he’d walk down to the local prison and ask the largest inmate, the one who spends his entire jail sentence bench pressing weights, to lean on the cleaver. Once that strong man was exhausted, the Koboka would be pried open enough that Tex could repeat his cleaver throwing bit again and begin to carve the vegetable up for dinner.

We had twelve Koboka squash that year. All of them were approximately the size of a chubby eight month old. I know this because I held a photo survey with my family asking “Who’s larger: the squash or the baby?” The squash won by a landslide.

In addition to the sheer amount of work necessary to chop them up, I also was forced to find new recipes. Hence the laughable nature of a soup requiring just three cups of squash. So I’ve decided to make my own recipe. One that farmers and those with gardens will actually find helpful.

 

Squash Soup or Squash Casserole or Squash Rigoli or Whatever You Need To Call This Dish So That Your Family Will Eat More Squash

Minutes of preparation : Until the end of TIME

For serious, you will have squash until the end of time. Your days will be marked by time not preparing squash versus time chopping up and cooking squash. If you wanted a different life, maybe you should have considered that before taking up gardening.

Ingredients

Squash, all the squash, as much squash as you have the strength and wherewithal to chop up.

Other vegetables, probably broth.

Steps

  1. Cut up squash. Give up halfway through and start downing shots. Eye the twenty other squash sitting in the corner or your pantry with a combination of revulsion and appreciation.
  2. Return to the kitchen. Might I suggest using the dull knife after all the alcohol?
  3. Finish chopping squash.
  4. Lay squash on a tray, place in the oven. Bake at 375 F for an hour. Unless the squash is spaghetti squash from Tex’s cousin, in which case it’s going to take a minimum of two hours. While you’re waiting, down more shots.
  5. Remove squash and put in pot with other flavourful vegetables that will hopefully cover the taste of the squash. Add broth. Bring to boiling and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Depending on how bad the situation is at your house, you may need to blend the sucker. In fact I recommend it, anything to disguise the fact that you’re eating squash.
  7. Serve to your unsuspecting family. Tell them it’s carrot soup. If the soup isn’t orange, add an Oompa Loompa as a garnish.

 

This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, who has lovingly grown every one of the 600 lbs of squash that I’ve eaten since 2015. And put up with teasing about her plentiful squash patch.

There’s A Terrible, Devious Part Of Me That Wants To Call His Bluff

So I arrived home to find this on the counter.

If you can’t read my husband’s writing it says

“If I find one more of these loose in the bottom of the dishwasher clogging up the drain, I will preemptively remove all of them. We will be having “surprise” for supper a lot.

Love, Tex”

And there is an arrow leading to my label which says “Pork Spcg Sauce”, which for those uninitiated to my serial killer printing, means pork spaghetti sauce.

The ironic thing is; the containers began being labeled because of Tex. He objected to pulling what he thought was sausage soup out of the freezer, only to arrive home to a thawed container of applesauce. I don’t know about you, but I am fine with just applesauce for dinner. I just pretend that I’m eight months old again and sporadically sneeze into my dining companion’s mouths to complete the experience. Although I’m not a fan of the dessert course, when you take off your socks, rub them in your applesauce coated hair and then suck on the juicy toes.

In fact, I was accustomed to the concept of mystery dinners, because ten years ago, I started a steamy love affair. With soup. I had just begun learning to cook and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t something I wanted to do every day. Enter my hot and freezer worthy friend. I began cooking vats of soup. And then freezing it in small batches. It was convenient, it was fabulous; I had discovered the culinary equivalent of a boyfriend sweater- all easy to heat up, comforting and right there when you need it.

When I lived alone, because there’s only so often a person can grow a beard, scratch their groin and retreat into their own personal hovel, I had potluck dinner with friends twice a week. In the morning, I would grab unlabeled containers out of my freezer then leave them to thaw all day in my car. This plan would never work now, what with my snuggling up to polar bears and camping on icebergs every night, but back when I lived in the south with that stranger whom people call “heat”, my soups melted. (It’s approximately minus a bajillion outside today. A snowdrift knocked on the door asking to come in and warm up but I had to turn him away because there was already a hypothermic ice sculpture shivering in the hallway.) Then I would crack open said “mystery” supper container at my friend’s house. There was only one occasion where I did a Homer Simpson impersonation after realizing that I had not shown up with chili- it was pasta sauce, which I also made in large batches.

Luckily my friends were as lackadaisical about food as me. I also suspect that they were grateful when I didn’t turn up on their doorstep with eight pounds of mashed rutabaga. Because this was also around the time when I turned full hippie and was a pious, irritating, root vegetable-farting locavore.  I was one stick of organic incense away from braiding rugs out of my underarm hair.

Sula, my best girlfriend, moonlighted as a taxidermist on weekends. Her freezer was often stuffed full of meats succinctly titled “STK”. A rarely discussed benefit of stuffing wild animals- sometimes hunters give you the meat. For our weekly craft nights, she’d pull one of the trays out and create culinary masterpieces. Including the one time when I walked in the door and Sula said “I’m sorry, I thought it was venison but I think it’s bear.” Then she dipped her spoon into the mixture and took another taste. “Yep, it’s bear.”

Though my friends and I loved this devil-may-care approach to dinner, this did not fly with my husband. So when I started cooking up giant vats of different soups using his old 60 liter beer making pot, the final step before stowing the endless parade of containers in the freezer became making indecipherable labels for them. For  serious it was an endless parade, even though the plastic vessels weren’t filled with candy, there’s a part of me that feels vaguely like an Oompa Loompa after dealing with 50 liters of soup. This might have something to do with my hands being dyed orange from peeling and chopping ten pounds of carrots like I’m a cook on a military base. Or an orphan in a Dickens’ novel.

Tex would even make jokes to chastise me when I would forget the labels. So there’s an evil part of me that wants to test my husband’s patience along with his taste buds because at some point, if we remove the labels, Tex will end up eating an entire container of wild cranberry sauce for lunch. Sweat sock smell, round pits and all. I’ll let you know if my diabolical or, more likely, forgetful side wins out and the labels get tossed. I can’t wait to eat apricot kiwi mash for dinner. I’m going to toss some of it in Tex’s hair just to make it authentic. What would be the best though, is if I was still nursing our son. Nothing like a wholesome cup of breastmilk to cap off a rough day.

 

Addendum

Tex arrived home right after I finished penning this post. While writing it, I had sent him a text saying “Do you have your key? Also, I did what you asked.”

The second sentence being a reference to the fact that he signed his note with the moniker I use for him on my blog. I thought Tex had wanted me to write a post. When my husband walked in the door, he breathed a sigh of relief over not seeing a pile of tiny labels next to his note. In his words “My wife is a little evil, I didn’t know what to expect.”

I love that our marriage is a bit of a crapshoot for him.

Our Family’s Paris Accord – Two Years Later

The odometer of our cargo trike clicked over to 2200 kilometers this week. As large and wonderful as that number is, the biggest achievement in our family’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint turns out to be what the bike represented. By investing in the bike and the goal of putting as many kilometers on our Nihola tires rather than our van, we made a visible commitment to ourselves and our community. That commitment has snowballed and honestly, despite doing my best to live in an environmental manner for the past ten years, this outcome was unexpected.

The thing about making large changes, for example choosing to bike over any other form of transportation, is they force you to reevaluate other aspects of your life. Since getting the bike, our family has increasingly said the words “That’s wasteful”. It makes me so proud, each time I hear my husband say that phrase or when he nods in response to me saying it. We haven’t heated or cooled our house in weeks, choosing instead to exist within the temperatures Mother Nature gives us which have been between 67 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to May and June last year when we lived in a tiny fourth floor walkup with no air conditioning or air circulation at all, where temperatures were over ninety degrees each night, this is easy.

The kilometers we’ve racked up on all of our bikes are peanuts in comparison to the kilometers that we have not put on our van. Previous to our family’s Paris accord, my husband was putting 25,000 kilometers on our van each year easily. Since then, we’ve done our utmost to avoid long trips to the nearest city which is four hours away. When a trip can’t be avoided, we schedule necessary city appointments and complete city errands while there. In spite of living more than double the distance from a major center than we were two years ago, we have succeeded in only putting 15,000 kilometers on our van this year. That’s 10,000 kilometer difference, never mind the mileage on our feet and bike odometers. In addition to this, my husband is changing jobs this year so we are hoping to cut our yearly mileage even further.

My husband, who loves convenience, has an ongoing list for the secondhand shop rather than ordering whatever he needs off of Amazon. Our three year old son talks about taking care of “living creatures”. It’s his new favorite term in reference to insects.

The most remarkable part is the way that change has spread. Tex’s family was always extremely environmentally conscious but mine has even jumped on board. After I told my Dad about the reason why we avoid palm oil and what products contain it, he stopped purchasing chocolates for us- win! My mother bought my son a second hand toy as a gift this year- I was proud of her. Ultimately, as a planet we need a lot of people making lots of little changes to their life to better the environment.

Think about yourself, is there something that you would like to try this week? Taking the bus to work perhaps? When we lived in a city with public transportation, I loved seeing the world awaken and ready itself as I sipped my coffee and watched from the bus window. Could you sleep with just a sheet or less and enjoy the feeling of the hot summer night?

Or could you go bigger – write to a governing office about your thoughts? Or maybe would you like to satisfy your curiosity about cargo trikes? Ours was purchased from the good people of Curbside Cycle in Toronto Ontario, however they ship across Canada. Before you balk at the price, consider for a moment how much your car costs. Cargo trikes are not merely a bicycle- they’re a vehicle. We use ours to transport children for playdates and groceries. My only regret with regards to our cargo trike is that we didn’t buy the larger version. By contrast I regret owning a car every time it goes in for yet another expensive oil change or repair. Especially that last action given that car payments are still being removed from my bank account monthly.

Small changes snowball, just imagine how different your life might look in two years if your family wrote their own Paris accord today. If you’d like a starting point, here is a link to our original accord.

Love and Thunderclouds

“Are Grandma and Grandpa at my house?” my three year old asked me as I walked him home from daycare. His grandparents had appeared the day before and stayed over to help us with our upcoming move. Tex’s parents had dropped my son off at daycare but I had neglected to inform my little boy that Grandma and Grandpa wouldn’t be there when he returned.

“No buddy, sorry” I replied.

A grey cloud appeared over my three year old’s head and I heard a clap of thunder as his face darkened. “I want to go see them!” Mini-Tex all but stamped his little foot.

I felt badly, because I understood my son’s sentiments exactly. I was raised partly by my grandparents. Every other weekend when we were small, my mom would drive my sister and me to their house. What followed were the best two days of my week, filled with love, extra attention and fun.

As we got older and started school, my favourite moment was the school secretary announcing over my classroom’s intercom “Please remind Sarah not to take the bus home today”. That announcement signaled only one thing- that Granddad was picking up Diana and me from school, then he was going to drive us to his and Gran’s house.

My grandparents were present for every important event in my life, every performance, every achievement. My grandfather left school at grade ten and only later completed his GED, so education was paramount to him. My sister and I would proudly display every one of our report cards and he would fawn over our academic triumphs.

Christmas didn’t begin until we stepped foot in their house. It didn’t matter if it was the 27th or the 29th, to heck with Santa, as far I was concerned, Christmas at Gran and Granddad’s was the “true” Christmas. To me, if my grandparents weren’t there, it was as though I couldn’t totally celebrate.

The worst part of the year came after Christmas. Each January, Gran and Granddad drove down south for twenty nine months. Or at least that’s how their winter sojourn felt to my childhood self. Like my birthday wasn’t actually my birthday until they returned. Sure I enjoyed partying with my friends, but I never truly turned a year older until I received a hug from my grandparents and the completely unnecessary congratulations of living another year.

From the outside, my son’s scowl looked like frustration and anger but I knew better. It was an expression that said “I love my grandparents and they love me and we are accustomed to being together”.

As I apologized to my surly looking three year old, I did my best not to smile and in my head, I made a mental note to talk to my husband about when we could visit his parents next because even though I’m grown up, a part of me desperately wants to see my grandparents too.

Cowboy Holidays

I received the following text message from my hottie cowboy husband three years ago;

“My brother changed the branding/castration event so it’s now on May long weekend. I told him we’d be there. He’d love to have you ring/herding/babysitting and wants me to be the surgeon- lol. My homework is to watch calf castration videos.”

Cowboys celebrate holidays by eating lots of food and doing farm work. Sometimes this means branding and castrating, other times it’s just simple herding. Regardless, there are horses involved.

When I first met Tex my only experiences with horses had been at resort vacations with my family. Where it was like; “Here is a horse. Sit on the horse. Stay in this small pen. Now the horse ride is finished.” Even as a dyed in the wool city slicker, I didn’t classify that as horseback riding. Which was why when Tex excitedly told me that we’d be going horseback riding as one of our first dates, I was terrified.

Happily, when I arrived at the ranch I was placed on Sunny, Tex’s brother’s most experienced horse. And for an afternoon Sunny did everything he could to keep me on his back.

Climbing atop the largest mammal I’d ever ridden next to an elephant, I was nervous.

Although I don’t think my brief elephant ride as a three year old counted. Firstly it lasted less than a minute. Secondly I was with my cousin, who was my friend, but I had no qualms about throwing him off and using his tiny body as a sort of human landing pad.

On my first date with Tex, I held to the saddle, fully expecting to be thrown from Sunny’s back at any moment. By contrast Sunny stood very still, knowing that he had a newbie on his back and was expected to keep me there.

We were in a small paddock and I was expected to move Sunny around and around. What actually happened was Sunny slowly led me in increasingly small circles then decided he had had enough and stood stock still. Chip, Tex’s brother urged me to lightly push my heels into Sunny’s sides but that seemed like an ungrateful thing to do to animal that was kind enough to not throw me.

Tex and his brother mused over Sunny’s behavior “Why the hell is he acting lame?”

“Because Sunny knows who is on his back” I thought, my white knuckles clutching the loose reins and saddle.

Then we started the actual ride to check on the cattle in the far pasture. Just before setting off, Sunny shivered, causing my whole being to shake, looking back from his horse Tex said “Oh good, you stayed on” while I gripped the saddle with both hands, my eyes wide with shock.

Seeing as for the branding and castration event, I would not only be expected to stay on the horses back but also round up the calves and heifers at the same time, my and Tex’s participation in this event seemed not only unhelpful but unlikely.

“Uhhhhh” I texted back.

In the end, we didn’t go because I got pregnant with Mini-Tex and was therefore asleep. At Thanksgiving, a couple of months later, when Tex’s brother asked for volunteers to herd the cattle from their summer to winter pastures, I got out of that too. Because pregnancy. It’s one of those rare times where pregnancy is awesome.

The next year I got out of riding a horse because I had a newborn. This may have been why I chose to breastfeed my son until two and half- to get out of riding a horse. “I’m sorry, Mini-Tex may need to nurse, I can’t herd cattle for three hours.”

This story is about three and a bit years old, but once again, I’m getting out of herding and rustling because I have a newborn. Cheers to breastfeeding until age seven this time. I’m not sure what excuse I’ll have after that but you can be sure it’ll be a rock solid one.

 

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.

The Amazing Race – The Family Edition

Remember that post where I confided that I would never do the Amazing Race because it would likely result in my or Tex’s death? Well I ate my words because shortly after that we embarked on the challenge WITH OUR SON. Only not exactly, because Phil Keoghan wasn’t there to stand at the finish saying “Man, you guys made it just under the wire and phwwwwooooar what is that smell? Unwashed, you know you can bathe at the rest stops, they allow time for that.”

The justification for this endless trip was that Tex had a conference in Newfoundland therefore we should explore the province. The wrench in the works was that a nonstop flight from here to Newfoundland was EIGHT HOURS. I’m going to retype that so you can picture the bloody carnage from stuffing me into a small space for that long. EIGHT HOURS.

Tex would have been able to poop from at least five new places on his body from being ripped so many new @#&holes had we chosen to fly for eight hours straight. My son would start talking like he worked on an oil rig after hearing me use so many curse words; “Mother of &!#$, grilled &%$#?% cheese again? Aw hell.” After three hours on a plane, I become a rabid caged animal with a filthy vocabulary. This necessitated a stopover in the throbbing metropolis where my family lives. Thus the Amazing Race the Family Edition began

The Race : To and from Canada’s Most Eastern Province In Search of Adventure and The Best Places To Pee In A Bush

The Team :

Unwashed, whose hygiene habits make her the ideal candidate for not showering for days while traveling from place to place.

Tex, whose patience and problem solving skills will be tested during this competition. Mostly by his wife.

Mini-Tex has the ability to sleep anywhere; this quality will be exploited by his adventuring parents.

The First Leg : Location – Toronto             Duration : 8 Days

Challenge – Ride a combination of six trains, a bus, a subway and two streetcars to have coffee, dinner and a chess game with twenty-seven separate people. Mini Challenge for Mini-Tex – Terrorize his grandmother’s cat.

Commentary : Unwashed bravely took on this leg by herself. It was a marvel the way she refrained from punching cars in anger when Torontites cut in front of her stroller in the rain. Likewise Mini-Tex handled his challenge with aplomb using a combination of yelling “Cat! CAT!!!” and playing a one sided game of catch with the feline using a dodge ball.

Second Leg : St. John’s                  Duration : 5 Days

Challenge – Keep ahold of the stroller on enormously steep hills and consume the contestants’ body weight in fish following hiking up three thousand stairs. Also look somewhat professional for Tex’s conference.

Commentary : There were a couple of anxiety filled moments with the stroller where it was a millisecond away from careening out of control but the couple showcased their fitness and speed through their reaction times. Mini-Tex once again proved that he is the world’s best sleeper by snoozing through the 684,000 steps down Signal Hill and the 1,239,000 steps back up Signal Hill. Supposedly there are an equal number of steps down as up, but contestants always report that going up is twice as hard particularly with an unconscious toddler on your back. Unwashed received a standing ovation when she made it through the entire conference without tucking her skirt into her tights.

 

Third Leg : Traytown- Grand Falls – Woody’s Point                        Duration : 8 Hours

Challenge – Keep all contestants happy and alive while driving across the second smallest province in Canada

Commentary – The contestants almost narrowly failed this challenge when they chose to stop at the gas station/restaurant/karaoke bar/convenience-store/church for supper. In general, the greater the number of slashes in a restaurant’s name, the greater the likelihood of walking away with food poisoning. Luckily what the contestants were served could not be categorized as food, so they were saved.

Fourth Leg : Woody’s Point                         Duration : 5 Days

Challenge – Hike until the contestants’ legs fall off or until one of them is discovered frozen in a snow bank.

Commentary – All three contestants made a valiant effort towards the goal. Most notably hiking along cliffs, up an 800ft waterfall and attempting to scale Gros Morne. They got points for skirting avalanche areas but alas no one was discovered in a snow bank.

Woody Point Sub Challenge – Locate, kill and eat a softshell crab

Commentary – Not surprisingly for those who have read Cowboy Cookin’, Unwashed was the weakest link during this challenge, refusing at first to touch the sea creatures and then showing hesitation about pulling their legs off. Mini-Tex stepped right up to the plate, removing legs with abandon and zooming the legless crab body around the dinner table like a NASCAR.

Fifth Leg : Cornerbrook                                 Duration : 2 Days

Challenge – Meet a childhood friend and terrorize yet another cat.

Commentary – Once again Mini-Tex readily met his challenge with gusto, chasing Unwashed’s friend’s cat around the house and then perching on the stairs yelling “CAT! CAT!” when the irritated feline retreated to the basement.

Sixth Leg : Cornerbrook – Grand Falls – Traytown                      Duration : 10 Hours

Challenge – Listen to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat until everyone begins making plans to assassinate Olaf.

Commentary – The crew achieved their goal and was rewarded with a hearty meal of stuffed squid when they arrived in Glovertown although none of them ever want to build a snowman again.

Seventh Leg : St. John’s – Take Two                                            Duration : 4 Days

Challenge – Eat each contestant’s weight in seal.

Commentary – This challenge demonstrated the extent of Tex’s selflessness; upon discovering that seal meat tastes like wet dog fur, both Mini-Tex and Unwashed refused more than one bite. Tex took it upon himself to consume seal flipper pie, seal flipper stew, seal flipper soup and seal flipper sausage. Mini-Tex and Unwashed took to the playground while this was occurring so Tex could eat the goods(?) and then air out the smelly apartment afterwards.

Eighth Leg : Toronto then London, Ont                                    Duration : 3 Days

Challenge – Visit with Grandpa, see real dinosaurs, jet off to London and baptize Mini-Tex in front of a confused congregation.

Commentary – Real dinosaurs were seen with ease, and Ferris wheels were ridden multiple times. Generally children are baptized in front of parishioners who know them. Given that Tex, Unwashed and Mini-Tex are nomads, this becomes challenging.

Ninth Leg : Toronto to Winnipeg                                               Duration : 3 hours

Challenge – Unwashed needs to survive the flight without a working television (Damnit West Jet) while flying alone with a toddler and refrain from sinking her teeth into the arm of a fellow passenger in frustration.

Commentary – There were a couple of close calls with the fellow passengers especially the woman who wore vanilla scented perfume but the contestants survived.

 

So there it is, four and a bit weeks away from home. I won’t be repeating that. Although that’s what I said last time.

Please Don’t Read This. Go Watch The Canadian Version of C-Span Which Is 50% More Boring Than The American One. That Sounds Like More Fun For A Good Time Than This Blog Post

I don’t know why people like reading these stories. They’re kind of akin to reading a boring person’s diary – “Ate a banana today. Was mushy. Should have made muffins instead.” But here it is, back by head-scratchingly popular demand, an account of our holidays.

Also, for all those who are like “Christmas? You’re writing about Christmas?” Please keep in mind, I have a newborn. All of you will be LUCKY to receive those cards I send out with the reindeer on the front wishing you a “Happy Holiday” in June.

One of the benefits of going to Winnipeg for two weeks last December was Santa. Our town has a Santa. Sort of. He meets once a week for two hours after dinner. And he’s…….. Well he’s….. Our Santa tries . . . .

I don’t know how to put this tactfully because invariably someone from town will read this and be all “Hey that’s my brother/cousin/son-in-law/Dad you’re talking about.” And that is not my intent. I know that the Santa is a volunteer, or more likely was voluntold, but at the same time. . .

Ok, something to remember is, I used to work for Disney. Meaning that I know all about the business we call show. I was not the greatest performer, but I stayed in character, I played the part and I took pride in my appearance and costume. There were countless other performers who were better than me; I watched them, I aspired to be like them and failed miserably. So really, I live in a glass house and am throwing stones. So I encourage you all to chuck boulders in my direction. Aim for the squishy bits- there are lots, did I mention I just had a baby?

Aside from the fact that our town’s Santa’s beard was fake, and that he didn’t have a moustache and didn’t bother to whiten his eyebrows. Aside from all of that, his hairy ankles stuck out of the costume. It wasn’t his fault, but I probably would have borrowed big boots to play the part. He also had trouble staying in character. That and last year, our town’s Santa was totally over eager about inviting our gorgeous au pair to sit on his lap. She declined in case you were wondering.

After that experience last year, I decided that Mini-Tex was going to have a proper meeting with Santa. In October before Christmas, I started Googling places in Winnipeg to meet Santa. Reading this, you’d think that I was one of those super organized mothers. I’m not. I routinely show up late and my son often wears his previous meal on his face in public. And then kisses people. Because he’s a toddler. For serious, someone give me a Parenting Razzie please.

Anyway, I discovered that you can prearrange a meeting with Santa in Winnipeg, meaning that you can skip the giant line. Amazing. Except I couldn’t make the site work. This meant that two days before we were supposed to leave for Winnipeg, when Tex asked me what time we were supposed to meet Santa, I said we didn’t have a time. Remember what I said about being disorganized? Cue my husband logging into the site, making the internet work and arranging a meeting. Only not a good time slot because there weren’t any left.  It was in the afternoon, thus Tex would be working.

Fast forward a week to when I am picking up our little boy from daycare. I explained in the car that he would walk up to meet Santa and the jolly old man would lift Mini-Tex onto his lap. Our almost three year old was good with this. Because you know he treats strangers like jungle gyms and climbs on them all the time. Not actually.

Then I told him that Santa would ask what he wanted for Christmas. Mini-Tex listened with all the focus and intent of someone trying to translate Sanskrit. I had to prompt my almost three year old again to get some semblance of answer about what he wanted for Christmas. Finally he said Mickey. Having been a performer doing meet and greets, I know that the key to a good interaction, is preparation and talking so that nuances of the character can come out.  I was hoping this discussion would lead to a memorable visit with St. Nick.

We get to the mall and Mini-Tex is still wearing yogurt and melted cheese from breakfast. I sent him to daycare like that because I enjoy sharing our son’s meals with the daycare’s dog. So I change him in the family washroom and then slooooooooooowly make our way towards Santa. We are desperately early for our appointment. Absurdly early. The kind of early that I know will result in a wait even though we have an appointment. So even with all of my dawdling, and demonstrating how twenty different snow globes work in the Carlton Cards, we still roll up to Santa’s workshop with twenty minutes to spare.

There isn’t a person in sight. I was shocked.

That’s a lie. There was a lone baby who was finishing up his visit with Santa. I couldn’t believe my luck- I didn’t even have time to take off my coat! So Mini-Tex bravely walks up to this giant bearded stranger and Santa hauls him onto his lap.

The interaction went better than last year. The only reason our son sat on Santa’s lap last year was because our au pair was perched on the chair next to him holding out her arms. So our toddler was all like “Ok, Janey, I guess. But only because I love you like crazy, normally I prefer not to sit next to strange men whose hairy ankles are erupting out of their pants.” And then for the picture Mini-Tex had this look of panic mixed with uncertainty. His face said “Janey, please remove me from this man’s lap. I am very uncomfortable and am 99% certain that this is unsafe. Like I’m not going to call Child and Family Services on you or anything but for Pete’s sake GET ME OUT OF HERE!” His eyes were actually screaming.

This year, Mini-Tex wanted to be on Santa’s lap. Ish. He liked the concept of Santa but was not loving the big man whose red velvet legs he was sitting on. Meeting Santa was important, he was sure about that, the smiling and enjoying the experience part? Well, that wasn’t going awesome. It took a lot of effort on both the photographer, Santa’s and my part to coax a smile out of my ambivalent boy.

In the end Santa gave him the largest candy cane that Mini-Tex had ever seen. (It was a normal sized candy cane but my toddler has only ever received the miniature ones, so this candy cane was extremely exciting.) So my three year old deemed Santa to be pretty neat. That said, unlike the PVC ig-aa-loooo across town, he has not asked to meet Santa again.

I Followed The Advice Of Dr. Instagram And Other Proof That I Am Bad At Life

My name is Unwashed, and I recently developed an unfortunate case of idiocy. I’ve always made poor choices, but this week I decided to ramp it up a notch or eight thousand. Case and point-

I Followed a Medical Recommendation on Instagram

When I die, and my life flashes before my eyes, I have no doubt that this decision will haunt me but the unfortunate part is; I’d probably do it again. There’s nothing quite like being 39 weeks pregnant and hearing your healthcare provider repeat the words “induction” over and over, to make a person listen to the snake oil salesman and say “Sorry? You want me to snort this? Of course! That sounds like a marvelous idea!”

This was how I found myself drinking a “Labor-Inducing Mixture” last Thursday afternoon. Ok not exactly a mixture because our town didn’t have two of the four ingredients required. It was basically just castor oil.

Supposedly castor oil is a laxative. This is not true. Prunes are a laxative. If Elon Musk figured out a way to power a spaceship using poop, people would be orbiting the planet formerly known as Pluto right now on the power of castor oil.

Castorx

Clearly I had a hand in designing the laxative rocket with Elon because Tex claims that the red cap is not aerodynamic.

For serious, dear readers, it was bad. Really bad, but on the plus side, I won’t need to go until May. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of this newfound free time- take up an instrument perhaps? Or spend it with my new baby. One of the two. Tragically the idiocy didn’t stop there.

I Sent My Husband Away While In Labor

Funny enough, the snake oil worked. But I didn’t believe it because, if a pregnant woman becomes dehydrated, she will experience intense Braxton Hicks. So after trying to send myself to the moon on just biofuels and poor choices, I concluded that I wasn’t in labor and told my husband to go teach German to the kids down the street. Tex for his part knew I was in labor but figured he had five to eight hours and that there wasn’t much he could do aside from standing outside the bathroom door asking whether I wanted to take medical advice from Jenny McCarthy or Tom Cruise next.

I Feel Dead Baseball Player Drugs = Fabulous

After calling my husband back and getting our son to a friend’s, we rolled up to the hospital and I asked for pain meds. “We can give you Fentanyl” replied the nurse. To which I responded “Excellent, the drug that killed all the fat baseball players in the nineties.”

In case you’re wondering, that was ephedrine. Fentanyl is what’s killing the junkies of today. I’m sure that drug also would have been fabulous. Not that I would know, because my labor had progressed too far to take anything, which is unfortunate because this was my only opportunity to wobble around like a tripped out attendee of Burning Man.

I Equate Teenage Lead Quarterbacks with Doctors

The only time I swore during this entire process was when I was informed that a friend’s husband was the obstetrician on call, at which point I dropped a loud F-bomb. He’s a nice man and a good doctor, it’s just flashing your cootch at another girl’s guy is the kind of behavior that can lose you a peer group in high school. It would seem I have zero concept of professionalism.

In the end it didn’t matter, as someone else was on call, and also because

I DIDN’T LEAVE ENOUGH TIME

Like most people, I spend about five to seven percent of my day wondering about women who have toilet babies. Did they not know they were in labor? How did this happen? Well I have the answer- they’re the same women who follow the medical regimens posted by randoms on social media. And I’m now one of them.

Though I didn’t have a baby in the bathroom, there wasn’t enough time for the obstetrician to be called, which is how I found myself looking over my knees at a thoroughly unimpressed anesthetist. I looked at him and thought “Sir, this isn’t what I do for kicks and giggles either”. Only I didn’t say that aloud because he was helping me. Also it would have alarmed the thirteen year old resident huddled in the corner.

Luckily, the on-call obstetrician’s other car is the Millenium Falcon. Or some other such vehicle that moves at the speed of light, because minutes later, she walked in and took over, much to everyone’s relief.

star-wars-millennium-falcon-220300-1280x0

This is a picture of the obstetrician en route to deliver my baby. Only instead of a stoned Harrison Ford at the helm, insert an exceedingly warm, blonde lady. (Photo Credit : comicbook.com)

I Didn’t Pack Food

I woke up in the middle of the night and briefly considered gnawing on Tex’s arm like a rabid wolverine because I was starving. Fortunately my husband must have anticipated this and moved from the hospital bed to the chair, out of my reach. I’m a bit like an alligator that way- hungry, but terribly lazy too.

I Talked Up The Disposable Mesh Hospital Underpants WAAAAAAAAY Too Much

Tex was dispatched to procure feminine products. Being a thoughtful man, instead of purchasing what I requested, he decided to do one better- buy me my own disposable underpants. So if you’re wondering why my butt is making crinkling sounds when I move, it’s because I’m wearing enormous incontinence briefs meant for ninety year olds.

 

Addendum: Tex informs me the resident is NOT thirteen. He just celebrated a birthday- he’s fourteen. My apologies. As a person who once was asked by a gruff French hotel proprietor whether my parents knew what I was doing when I reserved a room for Tex and myself, I probably shouldn’t insult people who appear younger than they are.