Hope

I’m wearing red lipstick and my boots with the high heels and the zippers up the back, and I am stuck in a bathroom. Not just any bathroom — a fancy bathroom in a trendy restaurant in a corner of the city where I don’t belong. I’ve curled my hair and twisted my face into a hostess’ mask and I’m ready to fake-it-til-I-make-it but instead I am locked in a bathroom. 

I have this tendency to go from “fine” straight to THE WORLD IS ENDING with no stops in between. I’m not stuck and then I’m stuck, and instead of stopping to think my situation through to try to find a solution, I charge ahead as though I can become unstuck by sheer force of will. It’s why I don’t do well with revolving doors or turnstiles. I’m incapable of taking a step back and reassessing. You don’t reassess when the world is ending. You plow forward and hope to survive. It doesn’t matter that sitting in an uncomfortable situation for a minute often helps me figure it out (for example, panicking when you try to squeeze through a too-tight spot between the sink and the door opening, instead of taking a step back to give the door room to open fully, sometimes results in you hitting the lock while you flail, ending in panic that could have been avoided with fifteen seconds of thinking.)

Later, after I’ve freed myself from my tiled prison and had a lovely evening celebrating the season with fizzy drinks and too much food, I drive home. It’s pouring rain and it’s late (or rather, it’s early, technically) so I’m paying more attention to the road signs than I usually do. I get on the highway and point my car toward Hope. I’ve read these signs my whole life. I’ve driven through Hope hundreds of times on the way to summers at the lake or baseball tournaments in the interior. Hope is just a place on the map but it makes me want to cry when I consider not exiting the highway and driving straight to Hope. What would happen if I charged ahead and literally and figuratively drove to Hope?

What would happen is I would end up in Hope, stuck between the side of a mountain and the river, on a strip of fast food restaurants and gas stations. Physically arriving in Hope will not make the heaviness I feel lately any lighter. Being in Hope will not change the sad to hopeful. I need to take a step back and reassess instead of plowing ahead and trying to force myself to feel happy. Fortunately, in the meantime, I’ve got good friends and red lipstick and just enough holiday joy to make the season bright. 

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Mom

A few weeks ago, Shawn and Grady went on a road trip, off the grid, totally unreachable and hours from home. A few hours after they left, Poppy woke up from her nap, miserable, and proceeded to vomit for 22 hours. It was about two-o-clock in the morning when I realized that every towel, sheet, and pair of pyjamas we owned was either in the washing machine or piled in a stinky, wet heap in front of the washing machine. I dug through my closet and found the box of old receiving blankets my heart isn’t ready to donate yet, wrapped her up like a newborn, and sat on my stripped bed and held her until the sun came up. 

It was terrible. It was heartbreaking to see her so sick. It was frustrating to have her push the bucket away only to vomit directly into my hands seconds later. I was so tired and so scared and so by myself, the only grownup, the holder of the bucket and the wiper of the fevered brow.  

In the wee hours of the morning, holding Poppy as she shivered with the chills even as heat radiated from her tiny body, I was reminded of having the stomach flu when I was a kid.  

My dad lived in Germany for a bit, when I was about ten. My siblings would have been 13, 6, and 4 or thereabouts. That winter we all came down with a nasty stomach bug and my mom piled us into the big bed so she could hold buckets and dispense Tylenol and comfort more efficiently. In between vomit sessions, my mom tried to catch some sleep on the floor beside us in a sleeping bag. 

In the middle of the night, as my mom crawled into the sleeping bag to try to catch a quick nap, she pulled on the zipper and the wire zipperpull went straight into her finger and got stuck. She couldn’t get the zipperpull out of her finger. She couldn’t get the zipperpull off the sleeping bag. She had four sick kids to take care of and a sleeping bag attached to her hand.

Anyone who has met my mom thinks she is: kind, pleasant, sweet, caring, maternal, etc. But what isn’t glaringly obvious to the casual observer is that my mom is a hardcore badass (which makes it even more badass, right? She’s stealth badass!) My mom is sensitive and empathetic and motherly but she has nerves of steel. She called our next door neighbours and one came over to look after us while the other stayed with their two young kids, and then she drove herself to the hospital with a sleeping bag attached to her hand. Hardcore. Badass. 

She walked into the emergency room holding the sleeping bag still attached to her hand and apparently caused quite a stir because people thought she was either holding a sick child or a bomb. The doctors and nurses took care of her, removed the zipperpull from her finger, and she was home before any of us were even aware something had gone awry. 

My wild night of one sick child and zero puncture wounds pales in comparison to my mom’s but it made me appreciate just how badass she was and continues to be. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you bunches.  

 

Seven

Dear Grady, 

Today you are seven. 

I’m not quite sure how that happened. One minute I was rocking you to sleep in your nursery and the next minute I was listening to you read Charlotte’s Web to Poppy.  

You love to draw. You spend hours drawing every day. You fill page after page with superheroes and knights and Ninja Turtles. One day I was admiring your artwork and I remarked that maybe you would be an artist when you grew up. “I’m already an artist,” you corrected me.  

You have a sweet, gentle heart. You care deeply about fairness and being kind. I’m always cringing as you pick up other people’s garbage in the park (“it’s my job to keep the earth tidy!”) and wishing you cared as deeply about the state of your bedroom floor as you do the playground.  

Your favourite band is still the Foo Fighters but you’ve branched out to other music too. When “No Roots” by Alice Merton comes on the radio when we’re driving you tell me to turn it up, “it’s our jam!” You’re king of the car dance, and somehow we always end up in a pile of giggles. Your enthusiasm and your belly laugh are infectious. Nothing makes me happier than hearing your laugh, Grady. Nothing in this world.  

You’re an amazing big brother to Poppy. You look out for her and worry about her and take pride in teaching her new things. I know as long as you two have each other, you’re going to be okay.  

Happy birthday, Grady. I love you bunches.  

 

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Meal Plan 06/17/2018 - 06/22/2018

We're in the middle of a bit of a heatwave so this week's meals are (hopefully) not going to be too hot for the kitchen. Today is my meal prep day so I made a giant pot of spaghetti sauce early this morning before it got too hot (Pops takes it for daycare lunch and we use the leftovers in various ways). 

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Father's Day: Devilled eggs, sous vide New York strip steak finished on a screaming hot grill and served with an herby, lemony compound butter, Smitten Kitchen's slow-roasted tomatoes on top of baby greens that have been dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and topped with a healthy crumble of goat cheese, and sauteed asparagus with lemon. Smitten Kitchen's strawberry summer cake served with fresh whipped cream for dessert. 

Monday: Michigans using leftover spaghetti sauce. Served with sliced cucumber and carrots and a homemade dill dip. 

Tuesday: Giant green salads topped with leftover steak, slow-roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, etc. 

Wednesday: Some sort of chicken skewer done on the barbecue with lots of bell peppers, red onion, and grape tomatoes. Served with Mexican Street Corn Salad (made allergy-friendly with greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise). 

Thursday: Leftovers! 

Friday: I'm going to try to figure out carnitas in the Instant Pot because I blew up my slow cooker a few months ago in a devastating baked beans disaster. If I'm successful I'll serve on taco chips with a lime crema, fresh guacamole, and salsa. If I'm unsuccessful we'll order pizza.

What's on your menu this week? Did you do something special for Father's Day?