We are in the thick of THE HOLIDAYS. I kind of hate this time of year. I'm in it to do fun stuff for the kids, but anything to do with traditional holiday stuff for adults makes my skin crawl. You're into Christmas? You're GROWN. Get over it! The most important thing is spending time with family, right? And also, almost more importantly, it should be about KICKING BACK. Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool. But will anyone let you shoot some b-ball outside of the school? No! Because there are a million holiday parties to go to and concerts and blah blah blah time sucks that keep you from doing what you really want to do, which is sit in your jammies and watch Netflix and ignore the outside world.
Unless that's just me.
The holidays have gotten harder ever since Poppa D passed away. I think there was a natural contraction that was going to happen anyway - as the kids got older (we're all in our thirties!) and when we added the Big Yam, it wasn't going to be the present bacchanalia that it had been in the past. Great Nany is getting on in years and has a reduced income, we're all grown and the "presents" we want cost a lot more, etc., etc. I think that the move towards making the holiday less about us and more about kids the Big Yam's age coincided with Poppa D passing away, and it makes everything seem a lot more quiet and restrained and sombre. Staying in town doesn't help - Poppa D had so much childlike glee and silly enthusiasm that he really injected a lot of fun and spirit into the whole process. When we try to replicate things here, his absence just seems all that much more stark.
AREN'T I JUST A BARREL OF FUN?! I'm actually not feeling all that down about things, really. Just trying to articulate why things feel a little different. My sister asked me what cookies I was making so we wouldn't duplicate (which never happens anyway), and I was like, "is you tweaking?!" As if I have time to make cookies! Usually by this point I've been slowly amassing a store of frozen cookie dough balls in the freezer, to be pulled out and baked à la minute so that I could give people warm boxes of like, 9 different varieties. Newsflash: THAT AIN'T HAPPENING THIS YEAR. I can barely get dinner on the table each night, and to top things all off halmeoni quit on me! The day that she was coming to help clean the house wasn't working for her any more and like, I'm sure she probably wanted to spend her time looking after her own kids and grandkids and not the neighbours. I'm taking it a little personally and getting all up in my own head about it. Like, was it because she was appalled at our house? Did she find my general housekeeping disgusting? Did we not express our gratitude enough? Did she feel like she was being taken advantage of? I know all that probably isn't the case, but it's hard to think rationally. I'm feeling really rejected here, people.
Now I'm thinking about if I can still catch up and bang off a batch or 9 of cookies. TALK ME DOWN OFF THE LEDGE, PLEASE!
What's been going on over here? Two weekends ago we went to Cleveland and visited our buddies, H & A. Good lord, do we ever loves us some Cleveland. It was so nice. They have a new baby girl who was 9 weeks old when we went there and they are kind of getting rocked by the new parent thing so it was a perfect weekend away - just lolling around the house and eating and smushing babies together and taking the Big Yam to the odd playground:
Doughnut's from Jack Frost Doughnuts. We have pumpkin pie, salted caramel, buckeye, lemon curd - all of them really delicious and the whole box (plus a GIANT cinnamon roll) cost $12. TWELVE DOLLARS. This many "fancy" doughnuts would cost like, $30 in Toronto and not be half as tasty.
No trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to Happy Dog. Hot dogs with unlimited toppings and tater tots and dipping sauces and craft beer. What more do you want?
Then we came home and made the ill-advised decision to try to eat low-carb for a while. We used this diet called the "4 Hour Body" and in classic us fashion, didn't read anything but just listened to our friend H's description of how it's done. Ummm...IT WAS HELL. I love carbs. As the Dotytron repeatedly said: "I feel hollow inside." And that's with us cheating! We kept fruit! And we kept dairy! I'm not cut out for restrictive eating. I actually did better than the Dotytron, who promptly got "sick" at the end of last week but I think it was more likely that he was suffering the ill effects of carb withdrawal. Anyway, we ended up eating meals like these:
A curried butternut squash red lentil soup (from the freezer) with a big salad of roasted Brussels sprouts, apple, celery root, bacon, hazelnuts, and shaved pecorino in a remoulade type dressing. The salad was really good. We still felt hollow inside.
Baked maple squash, roasted pork and merguez sausages and a "mash" of cauliflower, celery root, and sunchokes. This was also delicious. We still felt hollow inside.
I guess our "action items" from this terrible and half-arsed experiment is that we don't necessarily need carbs to complete a meal (even though they are delicious) and should be mindful of how many carbs we generally consume in a day. Maybe. But probably not.
This past weekend was reasonably chill. We hung with SMckay and Lolly and watched Who's the Boss and the aunties soothed the babies to sleep with a rendition of Stay by Lisa Loeb. We also watched the new Flowers in the Attic trailer a million times and read the plot synopses and were thoroughly scandalized. I had the Big Yam's buddy over for to play where I basically used them as free labour and made them rake and bag frozen piles of wet, slushy leaves with the promise of hot chocolate as the enticement. The Big Yam has a buddy named Felix who is a year younger than him (just turned 2!) but they are so sweet together. They hug each other like, constantly. When they put their winter coats on: hug; when they come inside: hug; when they transition to playing with something new: hug. It's pretty cute. They have a special connection - their temperaments are very similar and they're both sweet, quiet, and pretty easy going, all things considered.
On Sunday I took the Big Yam to this model train club in Scarborough that was having an Open House where they run the trains. The Big Yam loved it, even though it's basically just a giant cement bunker that these dudes have rented out and rigged up. It was very bare bones. I'm also 99% sure that everyone there was on the autism spectrum. They also don't do a great job of "selling" it. WAY TOO MANY FACTS ABOUT TRAINS CIRCA 1948, GUYS. I guess the interest of the club members is historical accuracy and not so much broadening the fan base. They could definitely use some PR help. Let's capitalize on some of those train puns! There was an old dude who was wearing a trucker hat with pictures of train crossing signals that lit up and the slogan: "One Track Mind" (get it?) I actually think we need more of that and less talking your ear off about who manufactured what train and what the painting specs were. But that's just me. WHAT DO I KNOW.
The Big Yam is pretty hilarious right now. He's gotten into this thing where if he disagrees with you, he uses "no" as a place holder until he can tell you what he really wants. It's pretty cute though kind of Aspberger-y. Like, I'll say, "You can't watch that movie right now," and he'll stammer, "No no no no no no no no no...but Baba said I could!" He also likes to say that he's "more hungry" apropos of nothing when he sees something he likes to eat, like if we pass by a tray of cookies at the grocery store. "But Mama, I'm more hungry..."
Then there's this:
How cute is it that my kid is into Mary Poppins?! Pretty darned cute, I tells you. The Dotytron watched How To Train A Dragon last weekend and the Big Yam was so scared but really trying to face his fears on his own terms. He basically sat on one of the topmost steps on our staircase and "watched" it from there, peppering the Dotytron with questions the whole time. He wouldn't come any closer. It was pretty freakin' adorable. I know he will eventually, but his innocence is so charming right now. Like, all he wants to do is quietly "read" from his Robert Munsch collection, bare-bummed, by himself. This stage where he can occupy himself for long stretches with quiet activity is kind of the best. I never thought we'd get here, but now he'll totally just hang out in his bedroom, flipping through the pages of one of his books. He LOVES "Wobert Munsth." In his own words: "I love Wobert Munsth. I do. I weally weally do." !!!!!
Then there's the Wonder Twins. Prof. Gantok rolled from front to back last Saturday for the first time. He was doing tummy time on the playmat, looked over, saw that the Great Gazoo was already on his back, realized that was an option and just went for it. The Great Gazoo pretty much rolls onto his back any time you put him in tummy time. Like, as you're putting him down on his front he's already tucking his shoulder under to roll onto his nice, cozy flat spot. The Great Gazoo has also found his voice recently and it appears as though his voice is equal parts Mogwai and baby dinosaur. This is him "cooing":
This also happened:
I feel like they look really alike, here?
This Lindsay Lou-Lou expression kills me. This photo kills me. That look! Those toes splayed out! That Run DMC shirt!
All over their hand-holding lately.
More low-carb times: braised brisket (from December of last year! It was still delicious!), slaw, and baked beans I also pulled from the freezer
Korean jap chae and marinated flank steak