June 30, 2015
June 29, 2015

The Cookbook Edition: June 29, 2015

Because Mike is a kitchen god, we were able to pare down our cookbook selection even more tonight.

And, to be fair, the Internet giveth out recipes like there is no tomorrow.  PLUS, all the Internet people give opinions about those recipes and that is very helpful.  I am very much enamored of using the Internet for cooking/baking suggestions although I have a few observations (based on the rare occasions that I dabble in food preparation):

1. Cake mix is not an ingredient, people.  It’s not.

2. Nothing that was previously in a can ever tastes as good as the non-canned equivalent.  Especially when it is soup.  Soup should never appear in cans. Beans can survive canning, but they’re better dried, soaked, and cooked.

3. Just because you thought the recipe needed more salt does not mean everyone will think it needs more salts.  Opinions are not facts.

4. Great photographs of food do not necessarily mean the food will taste better, but it’s like the placebo effect: if your food looks gorgeous enough, I will believe it is gorgeous-tasting, so take good photos and I will follow your recipe.

5. Just because your grandmother used to make it does not mean your grandmother invented it.  Your grandmother had the same cookbook as my grandmother.

That is all.  Good bye, extraneous cookbooks.

Day 241 scorecard: 1205 down, 630 to go

June 28, 2015

Destination Birthday: June 28, 2015

Today Solomon had a birthday party.  He had it today because his birthday is July 12th.  See, the first year he started school he could hardly wait to have his birthday party at the end of the school year.  He’d always had birthday parties but never with school friends.

He invited about 12 kids that year and every. single. one. of them could not come to the party.  It was the height of camping season and they all had things going on.  Sure, kids came to his party (his cousins, siblings of the kids he went to daycare with).  It was a reasonably fun party, but that night he stood at the foot of my bed and broke down in sobs over the “worst day” of his life.

Since then, we have his party during the school year.  He still regularly reminds us of how horrible that party was (and, to be fair, isn’t everyone’s worst nightmare having a party that no one attends?).  He turned 6 that day.  He’ll be 10 on July 12th.

I have learned some other things with birthday parties over the years, most of which cut down on troubles.  I’ll share some of my wisdom with you because I’m generous like that:

1. Just candy or other consumable crap is enough for a treat bag.  I used to fret and worry about what would be the perfect, but not too expensive, items to send home in treat bags.  Of course, once we started being on the receiving end, I quickly realized how much I like these brief bursts of candy.  If you don’t want your kid to have candy, confiscate it.

2. Include an email for RSVP.  Seriously.  Who wants to call?  Or Facebook – that works, too.  In fact, my next point is even smarter (in my humble opinion).

3. Virtual invitations.  For a few reasons: it’s free, it’s CLUTTER-free, and it’s impossible to lose.  For the couple of kids you don’t have virtual contact details for the parents, kid can send one or two handmade cards.  Life is good.

4. Location, location, location.  We used to always have the parties at home.  I thought it would be too expensive to have elsewhere.  I can’t say that it’s cheaper, but the joy of not having to clean up both before and after a party is worth every penny.  And having a built-in activity?  Even better.  This year, Solomon took a few friends to a climbing wall place.

Climbing Wall Party = Awesome.

Climbing Wall Party = Awesome.  The guy who trained the kids and ran the show is at least 90% monkey and 80% gravity-free.  You should go.

5. And finally, cut down the time.  This dovetails nicely with location parties.  Why spring for 4 hours, and why deal with other peoples’ kids for 4 hours.  On the one hand, I love it when people take my kids for 4 hours, but I’m not so keen on being on the receiving end.  I say 4 hours because I remember having a party for Max when he turned 6 or 7.  It was scheduled for 4 hours and the parents were all slightly wild-eyed looking.  A few furtively asked “are you sure?” as they scurried away as quickly as possible.  I’ve learned.

Some cake, some singing, a couple of gifts and BAM, no kid weeping in the evening, no eternal parental guilt.

I'd be happy if we had the party in a fetid swamp as long as my friends come!  And ice-cream cake.  Ice-cream cake rules.

I’d be happy if we had the party in a fetid swamp as long as my friends come! And ice-cream cake. Ice-cream cake rules.  JUST LOOK AT THAT HAPPY FACE!!!

Day 240 scorecard: 1200 down, 635 to go

Special bonus pic of Clara, demonstrating complete and utter fearlessness:

Do not adjust your set.

Do not adjust your set.

June 27, 2015

Adventurousness: June 27, 2015

I am a planner.  A planner and a worrier.  For months, before an event, I’ll fret and stew and wonder what all will go wrong.  I never take running chances because I *know* I’ll get hurt.

So last night I surprised Mike and myself by suddenly deciding I might participate in the Mudcraft event he had signed up for months earlier.  He’d even recruited two kids to join our two sons (Clara had Sparks camp) and he could hardly stand the wait.  Me, who never likes getting dirty, I thought he was nuts.  Why volunteer to add insult to injury?

It cost more to sign up on the day of the event, but I did not spend the last 2-3 months tying myself into knots with all the “what ifs”.  There is something to be said for spontaneity.  I can’t think what it is to be said, actually, because I’m bone weary.

It was a liquid, but it felt like it should have been a solid.

It was a liquid, but it felt like it should have been a solid.

We ran 10k up and down hills in the woods.  It was springy and mossy and I only bled once (for about 15 minutes) but it didn’t hurt.  I fell down within the first 10 minutes and cut myself in two places.  Apparently it looked dramatic because Mike looked terribly concerned.  The cool part about falling on a hill you’re going UP is that it’s really not that far to fall.  My worst fear realized, I sallied forth.

We ran through ice-cold water, we clambered over climbing walls, we slithered down fireman poles, we jumped from hay bale to hay bale, we balanced on ropes over water, we shimmied over logs over water, we sank in mud to mid-calf, and we dashed over bridges of shifty, shifty skinny pieces of wood.  Because we were “Gladiators” rather than “Warriors” (6k) we were completely alone for a long stretch of springy forest running. It was lovely, soft, and cool (except for the muddy patches).  We came to one water stop, and a long while later we came to another.  As we were stopped, a woman beside me asked how much further.  “Oh,” said the water-pourer woman, “I think you must be about half way.”

I was slightly stunned.  I said to Mike “I am really sure that we are well past 5k.”  Mike agreed.  Just then, coming toward us, we spotted 3 women strolling along.  They were wearing medals.  “Just over the top!” one said.  “Don’t think about it, just jump,” said another.

Jump? I thought.  I’d forgotten about the enormous obstacle I’d seen when we first arrived.  Here is a picture of Mike and me after we’d arrived at the top:

This is Mike, telling me it will be fun and we will jump together!

This is Mike, telling me it will be fun and we will jump together!

Body language is amazing, isn’t it?  Here is what he thought would be fun to jump off:

I am about 5 and a half feet tall, so I am calling this about 15 feet high.

I am about 5 and a half feet tall, so I am calling this about 15 feet high.

You can see me looking back, seeing if I can slip past to climb back down.

And finally, with far too much thought, we steeled ourselves, hollered to our photographers to get ready and this happened:

Somewhere, mid-air, I realized I was alone.  It took a few seconds to surface - just long enough to come to a full boil of rage. :D

Somewhere, mid-air, I realized I was alone. It took a few seconds to surface – just long enough to come to a full boil of rage. :D

Luckily enough for Mike, I did not have enough time to exit, climb up and shove him over with all the force of my betrayal.  He says his legs froze at the last moment.  I say he wasn’t embracing his spontaneity.

Here he is mid-air:

This, friends, is the exact moment in time Mike realized he will never be quite as awesome as his wife.  Like, forever.

This, friends, is the exact moment in time Mike realized he will never be quite as awesome as his wife. Like, ever.

As you can clearly see, by the back of my head, I was gearing up for mayhem.

Alls well that ends well.  After this we swam to the edge, got the hugest medals ever, and (free) Propeller beer made especially for the occasion.  The kids stood on the other side of the beer tent.

Then we all got burritos and began to eat and freeze.  Halfway through, I thought I would die, so we grabbed our burritos, ran to the van and got changed in the parking lot.

5Downing your hesitations can be a great thing.  It can provide for a fantastic morning of fun AND it can provide fodder for mockery for the foreseeable future in one’s marriage!  Everybody wins! (but especially me, I actually won this part).

Day 239 scorecard: 1195 down, 640 to go

 

June 26, 2015

Knot-Tying: June 26, 2015

Equal right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation, is now the law in the US (as everyone in the world now knows).  Solomon, for whom it has “always” been the law (living, as we do, in Canada, where the Supreme Court decided it was a question of equality for all a few months before Solomon was born in 2005), made sort of a pained face at the news and made some remark along the lines of why was it ever not the law?.

I think it is awesome to witness how quickly cultural norms can shift once a debate is just ruled out.

No more “should it be” legal.  Now it just is a thing.  Do you?  I do! Me, too.

 

The truth is, nothing changed for anyone in Canada except for the people for whom it changed everything when our highest court decided equality means equality. Maybe a few wedding places got a little busier, maybe the photographers got booked up a little earlier, maybe your baker could only accommodate your special request the week after you wanted because that sweet couple down the street was finally able to officially tie the knot.  The world did not end here in Canada when we decided to stop being jerks and let any consenting adult agree to sign contracts about love and commitment with each other.

So, congratulations, USA, for 5Downing all the stupid impediments to marriage for all.  It’s a great day for human rights.

Day 238 scorecard: 1190 down, 645 to go

June 25, 2015

Moves: June 25, 2015

We helped our friends move this afternoon: to a new house in the same neighbourhood.  This was an entirely happy event.

We also accepted a new family member into our home (a gecko named Sticky) for other friends who are moving far away.  This was not an entirely happy event.  Max is happy, that is, to have Sticky.  And our friends are happy about this next chapter in their lives…but it’s not so happy for us to say goodbye.

Moving really brings us face to face with the things we hang onto.  It’s no wonder that people who move a lot rarely have lots of possessions.  It seems like more trouble than it’s worth, sometimes, to move that particular object.

But as much as moving means letting things go and whittling down possessions to the stuff we actually need and want, it also means gains.  It means a decision has been made to re-prioritize values and make a change, for whatever reason.  For one friend, (among other things) it means making her children blissfully happy.  For another(among other things), it means certainty and advancement.  It can mean a lot of things.

Day 237 scorecard: 1185 down, 650 to go

June 24, 2015

Perspective: June 24, 2015

This has been a good week in family law*.  I didn’t win any cases this week (I had no hearings) but I got to give two people good news.  In one case it was entirely unexpected, brought her to tears, and gave me goosebumps. In the other case, it was expected but we hardly dared to believe it.  My client was almost unable to grasp how well things had turned out.

I’m savouring it because it’s rare.  It’s a field of hard work with a lot of tears and much frustration.  It’s dealing with people when they’re facing some of the toughest things they’ll ever go through.  It’s always about trying to manage loss and mitigate harm.  And it frequently involves children who just wish everyone would get along.

So I’m enjoying the triumphs this week.  I’m not making the news, or setting legal precedents.  My clients are still facing troubles and heartache, but things are sunnier for them and I helped make their lives better.  That is a great feeling.

And it is a great reminder that the things I ‘lose’ from my life, and this house, are voluntary.  Which also means I’m mostly just really freaking lucky.

Day 236 scorecard: 1180 down, 655 to go

* Well, for my clients and me, at least.  I can’t pretend to speak for the world of family law in any grander sense than that.