Monday, May 28, 2012

It Must Have Been the Heat.

Every year, Beege's school has a Fun Fair. Every year, I think "hmmm... maybe we won't go this year?" It wasn't even held at her school this time (due to construction), so I considered it more seriously than usual. But. We've been going since Beege was two, and the girls love it, so we found ourselves heading to a strange school on Saturday morning, slathered in sun screen.*

It was super hot. I had even put aside my distaste for showing my skin and was wearing (*shudder*) shorts and a tank top, and I was still dripping with sweat.

There was a DJ there, and he had a very odd effect on Beege. If he said "Come on out and dance!", that's what Beege wanted to do. When he announced the auction in the gym, that's where she wanted to go. When he reminded everyone that the "Critters show" would be starting in five minutes, she dragged me over.

Standing around in the sun and heat addled my brains a bit; it must have, because that's the only way I can imagine this happening.

The first thing the Critters guy brought out was a monitor lizard; a little one. I scooted my chair back a bit and dutifully took a picture of Beege holding it, while trying not to be anywhere near it. The next thing was some sort of snake. If you've been here for a while, you know that "snake" is very high on my list of irrational fears.

I scooted my chair back until I hit the wall and then leaned back as far as I could and watched my daughter touch the thing. I think I did very well, considering there was neither screaming nor crying.

She was actually quite sweet.
 Then there was a rat (which Beege had put on her shoulder), a tiny pink frog, the softest bunny in the world, and a tarantula. Which I held. (After it was explained that tarantulas, while large and scary looking, are actually not all that dangerous to humans, which is why they are seen so much in movies and TV shows.)

Keep in mind that we've been sitting in a portable, situated on hot tarmac, with all the doors and windows closed (because the DJ was so loud that we couldn't hear the presenter) and no air conditining.

Because, again, heat stroke is the only explanation.

The last animal he brought out was a ball python. Small for a python, but quite big for the tastes of a person who is afraid of all types of snakes. (And to be quite honest, even a little squiffy around worms, because of their resemblance.) Even Beege didn't reach out to touch it as he brought it around.

I stared at it. I didn't take my eyes off of it the whole time he carried it around the circle making sure everyone got a chance to touch if they wanted to. Then he asked if there were any volunteers to hold it. You can't imagine my shock when I found my hand in the air.

I think the presenter was a little shocked too (despite my bravely holding a giant spider), considering how I'd reacted to the tiny snake. And the fact that I'd also confessed to being afraid of bunnies.

He brought it over, I handed Beege the camera, and he put the snake on me. I'm not sure if this picture is so fuzzy because of Beege, or because I was shaking so hard. Not only did I have the thing on me, but once again, I didn't scream. Or vomit. And I lasted a good ten seconds!

This, however? Abject terror.

When the show was over, we played some more games, we won some prizes, we got some ice cream, we even won** one of the class baskets.*** But I have to say, after having a python around my neck, the rest of the day was a little anticlimactic.

*The girls and I were slathered in sun screen; my husband, who I trusted to look after himself (being a grown up and all), was not. He ended up with one hell of a sunburn.
**Won the privelege of buying the basket by agreeing to pay more than anyone else, rather.
***And while I was pleased not to have the same experience as last year, I was kind of  annoyed by the kid who stood in front of the arts and crafts basket that I'd intended to bid on, clasping her hands and making puppy dog eyes, saying "I really, really want this one..."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Keeping the Dream Alive.

You know the thing that kind of sucks about dreams? They're so easy to squash. Or lose track of. Or ignore.

And I'm not talking about dreams about pumpkins that chase you down the street, or dreams that your hair keeps growing and growing until you drown in it; I'm talking about Dreams. Like being a writer*. Or starting your own business**. Or, say, owning a home.

You guessed it. There has been more trouble in the house hunting arena. While we've been happily signing papers and getting bank drafts, there was something sinister brewing, just out of view. A monkey wrench has been thrown into the works, and effed things up so much as to completely derail the train.

Hang in there, buddy.
Although the dream is not necessarily dead, it has had the crap beaten out of it, and it may be on life support for a while.

On the positive side, it means that we'll be staying in the neighbourhood we love, with the school we love, and the Grandma upstairs that we love.

On the negative side, it means that we'll still be living underground, in a space we've outgrown, feeling a little claustrophobic and trapped.

If I let myself, I could get really really upset about this. So, I'm choosing to look on the bright side. This is going to force us to seek out new opportunities; which has got to be good, right? We're going to get rid of a whole lot of the crap that trips us up everyday to try and create more space. This is going to make me get my driver's license so that I can see my nephew as much as I'd like.

So, we're taking a step back and focusing on the other dreams for now. But this one will be simmering on the back burner, just waiting for it's turn.

And lucky you, it means you won't have to hear about it again for awhile; I can focus on more interesting things, like potty training, writer's block, and figuring out what the hell it is that keeps digging up my strawberry plants.

*Which I'm working on. 
**Which I may also be working on.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kick-ass Chicken Pie.

The other night, I felt ill. My husband felt ill. My children were being horrible, and so I decided to assume that they too were feeling ill. We decided not to cook. Husband said he'd run to the grocery store and pick up something at the ready to go counter. He asked me what I wanted, and I (so helpfully) replied "something meaty. And... like... saucy. Comforting. You know? Like... uhm... no pasta. But meaty. You know! Something that will make me all warm and ... comforted."

Doing his level best to accommodate my refusal to actually name something I'd like to eat, he brought me some Pad Thai with chicken and Shrimp (which was delicious) and some Shepherd's pie (which was disgusting and greasy*). Neither of which were quite what I wanted, but I devoured them, felt warm and full, and fell asleep.

What I really wanted (but failed to articulate) was chicken pie. A nice chicken pie, full of veggies, and oozing gravy.**

So, the next day, feeling infinitely better and having some time on my hands, I dug around in my fridge and freezer and came up with this:

Kick-Ass Chicken Pie
You'll need a pie pan/dish - I used a shallow ceramic one that I got from my grandma. (It's apparently magic because nothing that wasn't tasty has ever resulted from using it.)

1 Tbsp. butter (or olive oil/margarine)
1/2 a medium vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
6-8 baby carrots, coarsely chopped
1 cup sweet peas
1 cup corn niblets
1 can (284ml) low sodium chicken broth
5 medium button mushrooms, sliced
1 med-large cooked chicken breast, cut into large chunks
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. poultry seasoning***
1 ready made pie crust (I used Tenderflake)

(My chicken breast started out frozen -- cook your chicken according to whatever method you prefer -- so it went into the oven at 375 for an hour and came out at the perfect time to combine with everything else.)

Preheat oven to 375 (may vary, depending on what your pie crust says).
Remove your pie crust from the freezer and let it thaw on the counter while you do all this other stuff.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and garlic. Saute until translucent. Add carrots and celery. After about 5 minutes, add peas and corn. Once the veggies are heated through, add the chicken broth. Simmer on the stove for about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the spices. Add this mixture, bit by bit to the saucepan. This is to thicken the broth up and make that excellent chicken pie gravy. You don't want it to get sludgy though, so seriously, add it a little at a time and see how much it thickens up; you may not use all of it. That's totally fine. Add the mushrooms at this point; if you add them earlier, they get all limp and soggy. Now is also the time to add those chicken chunks.

Once it's a consistency that you like, it's time to scoop it into your pie pan. (Don't worry if you've got a bit too much filling for the pan; just eat that up, it's yummy. I won't tell anyone.) Cut some slices in the pie crust to allow steam to escape (or use a cookie cutter to make pretty shapes) and cover your steaming delicious pie innards. Put it in the oven. At this point, the filling is already fully cooked, so you're just baking long enough for the crust to get crispy and golden brown (about 15-20 minutes).

Let it cool slightly so that the gravy can thicken a bit - or eat it runny, it's still delicious.

You're welcome.

*They were from Metro (which used to be Dominion), in case you were wondering.
**Which, to be fair, he did try to find but they didn't have any in the "ready-to-go" section. 
***Mine is "Club House" brand and contains: thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper and nutmeg.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Diamonds in the Rough.

I know that I've been writing about searching for a house a lot lately.

I can't even apologise for it; I need to write about it, because it's taking up my entire brainspace. I've been forgetting to do things like laundry, because I've been worrying that I would never find somewhere I wanted to live, and laundry just seems unimportant by comparison.

The thing is, I'm not just looking for a HOUSE.

I am looking for somewhere to teach my girls to cook. Somewhere to sit outside holding my husband's hand, and looking at the stars. Somewhere to bring new friends. Somewhere to revel in new found joys, and comfort the inevitable hurts. Somewhere to grow. Somewhere of our own.

I am looking for a place for my family and I to live our lives.

It feels so strange to be walking through other people's houses, filled with their lives, and considering putting my life there.

I feel kinship to houses where I see evidence of small children; where I see guitars stashed in corners, and half finished quilts peeking out from behind sewing machines. I also just can't imagine living in the houses that are all fixed up and fancy. (I am anything but fixed up and fancy.) Moving into a house where everything is already done would feel like living in someone else's house.  It's the diamonds in the rough that speak to me; the houses that you walk into and start seeing all the things that you would do if it was yours.

Which may be why we loved that first house so much in the first place -- the possibilities.

Which is probably why we've put in an offer on a house that needs a lot of work, but that I can see myself sitting at the window, with a blanket wrapped daughter who was startled awake by thunder cuddled on my lap, watching lightning streak across the sky.

A house with a backyard that is nothing but dandelions but that, if you squint a little, you can see my daughters running around in and laughing, while Husband and I watch from the (as yet non-existant) patio.

And, if said shelter just happens to have room for me to have space to work instead of on top of an old cardboard box behind the couch in the living room? All the better.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Not to Sell Your House.

For the past few weeks, Husband and I have been going to open houses and viewings almost every weekend. And while I would never claim to be an expert on what you should do to sell your house, I may have some useful advice about what you shouldn't do. 

1. Do not forget to mow your lawn, weed the garden, and pick up junk lying around outside. It may seem like a little thing, but it makes your house look poorly maintained right from the sidewalk. Blatant signs of disregard generally don't bode well for the rest of the tour.

2.Do not tidy away everything you own. Yes, you should definitely tidy up and put anything embarrassing away, but don't get rid of everything. It makes the house look kind of naked, and  makes it feel less homey. (Especially don't put everything in a storage container on the driveway; if the house hasn't got room for your stuff, what makes me think that it'll have room for mine?)

3. Do not assume that people won't look there. People are going to look everywhere. Yes, it's a pain in the butt, but you need to clean your fridge out, organise your cupboards, and not leave buckets of visibly dirty underpants out.

4. For the love of god, do not leave fecal matter in your toilet. I would have thought that one was obvious. Apparently not. In fact, clean it and leave the water all soapy and blue; that way you'll also be discouraging strangers from using your toilet.

5. If what you have in the basement is a stained toilet in the corner with no walls around it, and capped pipes sticking out of the wall that allow for the possibility of a future shower, do not refer to it as a "two piece bath". Enough said, I think.

Last, but not least: 
6. Do not tell people coming to view the house that you'd like them to leave a phone number "for security purposes, like, in case things go missing." That's really off-putting. 

Seriously. Clean it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Today, on our walk, Kee and I saw some wildlife. And not our usual wildlife, you know; squirrels, robins, and road kill.

Today we stumbled upon a toad. I've probably never mentioned it before, but I kind of hate toads. And frogs. And lizards. And snakes. Fish. Really, anything with the appearance of being slimy and disgusting. Generally, I hate them because I'm afraid of them. I know, I'm a wimp.

So today, we came upon a toad. He was just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, facing in the opposite direction. I made a lot of noise as we came up to him in the hopes that he would jump off to the side or something, but no, he would not be moved.

Then it occurred to me that he might be dead.

So we gave him a wide berth and went around in front of him. I crouched down to have a look, while Kee watched. Nope, he was breathing. And he was staring at me. A freaking toad was staring me down.

I didn't think we could just leave him there, because I couldn't help feeling that someone with a big all-terrain stroller and an iPod was going to come along and run him over. Especially considering all the noise I'd made to try and get him to move in the first place.

After a few minutes of false starts and loud noises, the toad was still sitting there staring at me. I don't know if you've ever sat and stared at a toad, but it's a little disconcerting.

I must have been focusing completely on the stupid toad, because I didn't notice the woman (with an iPod, but no stroller) who was jogging towards us.

As she got closer, the toad jumped at me. I fell on my ass. My daughter laughed.

His name is "Ick."

I indignantly brushed myself off and resumed my walk.

Now, not only am I creeped out by toads, but I also think they're jerks.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Swallowing Ghosts.

I haven't written much about the potty training saga in the last little while because, honestly, it's pretty repetitive. Suffice it to say that since I last wrote, Kee has become quite proficient. Last week, she decided that it was high time that she stopped wearing diapers to bed as well. Okay. Sounds good.

She's done pretty well; I think we're about half and half with dry vs. wet mornings. And really, that's better than I thought she'd do, considering she usually runs in for her snuggle with a pretty full diaper hanging off her bum.

Anyway. This morning, at 2am, I was woken up to help her get cleaned up and change her sheets for her. To me, it seems like a step in the right direction that she didn't sleep through the night despite being wet. 

But this isn't about that.

Just as I was getting her back into her bed, my stomach lurched. I had to get Husband up to help her finish getting settled, and I ran to the bathroom. My stomach was apparently so furious about something that I ate yesterday that I needed to spend an hour in the bathroom crying, while it emptied itself of everything ever.

But this isn't about that either.

What it is about is the fact that someone's grandma told me a long time ago that you have to cover your mouth when you're yawning, or spirits (multiple? I was never quite sure) will fly in your mouth and take over your body. That's why babies shouldn't go to funerals.

And that's why, at 3:30 this morning, while desperately wishing that I could just fall asleep, I was lying in my bed trying not to inhale ghosts.

I bet ghosts taste dusty.