Festival of Shawn

It’s Father’s Day weekend so Shawn got to pick the festivities, which is how I’ve ended up in a very small “queen” bed (seriously, this thing is the size of a double) with two sweaty kids while Shawn starfishes it solo. Poppy is a hotel bed roller so we can’t trust the kids to sleep together (why are hotel beds so high? Why are there so many sharp corners adjacent to the bed?) Usually I sleep with Poppy (and build a pillow blockade on her other side) and Grady sleeps with Shawn, but we got to the hotel late and the kids were a ball of tired emotions and wanted to sleep together. So that is how I’ve ended up here, Poppy’s feet in my face and Grady snoring in my ear. 

Tomorrow we’ll drive to Leavenworth for the car show. We’ll eat sausage in the beer garden and enjoy the sun and hopefully when we return, the sweaty bed hogs will want to sleep with their Dad. Happy Father’s Day indeed.  

Happy World Gin Day

Today is World Gin Day and judging from the notifications I’ve received from friends tagging me in World Gin Day-related posts on social media, my personal brand game is strong (and not at all concerning, thankyouverymuch).

I was introduced to the simple perfection of the G&T when I lived in England and I’ve remained loyal ever since. I love the different layers of bitter flavours in the gin and tonic, and how they play off the sour citrus flavour of the lime. Others may resort to soda to cut back on sugar (not mentioning any names, *cough* Shawn *cough*) but I refuse to deviate from my One True G&T (extra lime, fancy tonic, lots of ice but make it big so it melts slower we’re not animals).

My favourite gin changes from time to time. I love trying new blends from different distilleries, and contrary to what my social media presence may indicate, I don’t actually drink all that often, so I haven’t really had the opportunity to remain loyal to one gin. My current favourite is the Empress Gin from Victoria Distillers (a gorgeous indigo-coloured gin that changes colour when you add tonic and, uhh, also tastes great if you need your gin to do more than just perform visually).

The trick to making a great gin & tonic, in my humble opinion, is using giant ice cubes. Giant ice cubes look cool, yes, but they’re functional too. They melt slower which means your drink stays cold longer without becoming diluted. It’s science.  This is the ice cube tray I use.

Once you’ve figured out your gin and ice situation, you just need to decide what your mixer and add-ins will be. My favourite tonic water is Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic but if you’re looking for a non-pink option that tastes more interesting than your standard tonic, their Elderflower Tonic is also great.  For my G&T accoutrement, I’m loyal to lime but I’ve been known to venture into the world of grapefruit (give me all the bitter). I’ve tried both cucumber and lemon but neither did it for me. Once I had a fancy restaurant G&T that had lavender in it and I spent the entire meal picking dried lavender buds out of my teeth. It was not a great G&T experience.

What’s your drink of choice? Are you a gin enthusiast? What’s your perfect G&T?

This post contains affiliate links. 

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.