Holidaze ’13


 

Holiday season ’13 is officially done.

It was an unexpectedly awesome season this year but holy crap there was just so much. So much. From the first night of Yule straight on until several days from now kind of felt like listening to 10 songs all at once while the lights flicker on and off and you’re also being spun in circles. Then suddenly everything stops and you’re left with your eyeballs spinning and not entirely sure if you understand the concept of gravity anymore.

I’m completely exhausted and will have no sense of decency for at least two more days. I mean right now it’s 3pm and I’m still only half-dressed, my elder kids are playing outside in clothes they wore yesterday, my toddler is watching cartoons and sucking regurgitated cereal out of the back of a toy dump truck, and my lunch has been the peanutbutter smears I licked off someone’s lunch plate. And this is honestly a pretty good day so far.

The season didn’t initially seem like it was going to go well after we lost our car on Friday the 13th. And by lost I mean lost the ability to have a car forever and ever amen. Our van has been a lemon since two weeks after we got it and has always had all these ridiculous personality quirks and various issues that make it one of those vehicles only the owners can operate safely.
For instance, the car’s heat gauge had been having issues with periodically going off since the summer; I could watch it abruptly rise from a comfortable medium all the way up to ‘overheat’ in about two seconds, stay that way for anywhere from 1-5 minutes, then go back down to half-way just as quickly as it rose. We even had this problem on the coldest night of the year, when it was -12 with windchill, and we were driving around and ridiculously bundled up inside the car because our heater doesn’t work and takes about 15 minutes to start blasting moderately warm air as opposed to freezing cold air. About ten minutes into the drive the overheating alarm went off. The car was convinced it was overheating in -12 when it was still so cold that the ice on the inside of the windows had yet to melt. Throughout that drive the overheating alarm went off three more times. Then the gas gauge said it was out of gas, but after we briefly stopped and started the car again it said it had a quarter tank. The car clearly had dementia. Or perhaps menopause.

For the last year and a half its been making this weird clicking noise when we make a right turn. No one could ever figure out what was making the sound but it did seem to gradually be getting louder. On the 13th we went out to do a big shop at the wholesale store outside of town, packed the car with groceries, then made a brief stop by Curtis’ work to pick up his tips. As we pulled into the parking lot next door to his restaurant, the car went, “clicky-clicky-clicky-CLANK. Then it made a horrible dragging sound as we pulled into the nearest parking spot and turned off the car.
Once it had stopped we both got out and started checking underneath, under the hood, around the wheels… and we couldn’t see anything suspicious. We were praying it was just some weird fluke, but alas it was not. When Curtis turned the car back on it acted like it was stuck in neutral; gunning the gas did absolutely nothing and he could barely change gears.
We ended up calling my dad for a ride and a tow to get the car home. Getting the tow truck there, the car hooked up, and back home took almost two hours because the height limit on the small parkade we were stuck in was too short for the tow truck to get inside, and the parking spot too awkward to pull a van from. They almost charged us another hundred bucks for this, but my father happened to have some nylon cords in his car and had swung by to check on how Curtis was doing after taking me and the kids home. He ended up dragging the van out with his little sedan so the tow truck could hook it up.

When it got home I had to search around outside for some large rocks to put under the wheels because we couldn’t put it into park (or rather, when we did, it did nothing). When I was leaning down and putting them in place I saw what the weird dragging sound had been: the front axle literally fell out of the wheel and was dragging on the ground.
So… yeah, it’s junk.
At this point it’ll cost us more to fix than was paid for it and we don’t even have a quarter of that much to spend.

So long you fucking piece of trashy-ass car, we never liked you anyway!

Dad was incredibly kind and offered to drive the kids to and from school every morning until the holiday break kicked in. He said he needed a reason to get up in the morning anyway, and he honestly enjoyed spending the time with them as he doesn’t get to see them as often as he’d like due to his erratic teaching schedule. This also allowed me to stay in with the baby on days when her nap ran late, which was a nice bonus.

The kids’ school break coincided with the first days of Yule, which also coincided with Curtis’ only days off during the entire holiday season, and because we’d so recently moved into this awesome big house were eager to share it’s joys with others and volunteered to host the big family dinner this year. And by family I mean all the family.
We invited everyone.
EVERYONE.
That means dad and his partner; Brother, Brother’s Wife and Sophie, Marika and her new boyfriend (who is a divorced father of two and has joint custody) along with his two girls who are 4 and 8, plus Taliah who turned 1 in September; and of course my mom. This works out to 9 adults and 7 children. One of the attendees, Marika’s Boyfriend’s eldest, is a vegetarian and won’t eat the turkey. Everyone else eats meat. We didn’t want to be dicks to an eight year old so we made sure to have enough for her to enjoy without feeling left out.

Before anyone asks, no there are no pictures. I was really not in a mood for pictures.

That said, it did go well. Brother’s wife and Sophie were the only ones who didn’t show up and they had a good reason.

This was the first time I met Marika’s New Guy’s kids and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they got along with the Elders. The eldest, Rei, immediately latched onto Tempest and within five minutes they were already happily excluding Xan from whatever it was they were doing.
Xan, being the oblivious drama queen he is, was walking through the house complaining about how no one wanted to play with him while the younger girl was literally hanging off his arm and he was dragging her along with him. Eventually he noticed that she existed and wanted to spend time with him, so he invited her to play Wii with him. She very sweetly replied, “I just want to watch you,” and cuddled up next to him. M’awe.

Marika emailed me a few days later to say that the girls have been talking non-stop about Tempest and Xan ever since. Clearly we need to start arranging play dates.

Over the next several days we did our Yule present exchanges and the kids went nuts every night. We had to hide all the presents in the closet because there’s just no way we could put them out under the tree without the baby tearing them apart every time we looked away for a second.
We still wanted the kids to have at least one ‘presents under the tree’ time during the holidays, so we decided to put what was left out after the kids went to sleep on the last night of Yule, the evening before Christmas. In our family tradition of combining holidays, the kids get a single present every night from the solstice onward, and on the morning of the 25th they can open the remainder of their presents. Their stockings can be opened and played with if they wake up before we do and need something to do (which is always).

So after the kids were asleep we carefully arranged the rest of their gifts, filled their stockings with various toys and goodies (and mandarins in the toes). My dad and his partner bought the kids their big gift this year, which was a full-size electric piano with lessons for both of them (dad’s partner is a piano teacher), and because it’s a bit too big to hide in the closet they asked us to call after the kids were in bed so they could secretly drop it off. They came by around 10pm and carried it into the living room, and just as quickly left, hoping the kids didn’t wake up at the sound of their voices and ruin the surprise.
We decided to use the last remnants of wrapping paper rolls to wrap up the piano, even though it was massive, so that the kids would get the experience of tearing into it in the morning. It took us about ten very awkward minutes to get completely wrapped, during which time Serendipity did not make the task any easier by continually batting at the paper as it flapped about. Once we were completely finished we put a bow on top and stepped back to admire our handiwork…
… and then realized we’d accidentally wrapped the cat inside the gift.


 

Only this cat, I swear to god.

After letting the cat out, we sat and had a few glasses of rum and eggnog while watching our Netflix addiction, “Homeland”, before going up to bed. All was quiet and calm until about 4:45am.

Tempest came into our bedroom at a full run and it woke me up as soon as she crossed the threshold. By force of habit I was already going, “Ssh!” before I’d even opened my eyes, reminding her to whisper when she talked so there was no risk of waking Zephyra. Z goes to bed on a little mattress in our room, but crawls into bed with us by 1am wanting a nurse. Once there she generally sleeps through the rest of the night. Very, very rarely she’ll stay in her bed until 3-4am, but that almost never happens.

Immediately I noticed she was not in bed with us.

“Mom, Zephyra just came into my room and woke me up!” said Tempest urgently.
“Okay, okay I’ll come get her.”
“No, you don’t understand: she came into my room with a book I’ve never seen before a and a handful of torn wrapping paper.”
“Oh, fuck me. Did you see anything?”
“I went downstairs to see what happened and I think I saw a piano, and Zephyra was ripping paper off it, then I came upstairs and talked to you.”
“Okay, thank you for letting me know. Please go back in your room and go back to sleep – we’ll handle it.”
To my surprise, she immediately did go back into her room without any argument and I did not see nor hear from her again until the morning.

I woke up Curtis and told him what I thought had happened, then together we ran downstairs.
All the scenarios I had envisioned were nothing compared the sight that greeted us.
Every single present was unwrapped and torn open. Wrapping paper shreds coated the floor to the point where no carpet was visible. All gifts contained in boxes or plastic wrap had been ripped apart. Every single book, toy, article of clothing and video game was strewn from one end of the house to the other. All of the stockings had been dumped out and every cheap little toy thrown around – some had even been broken. Toys, paper and packaging were everywhere. She’d even torn open the mandarins we’d put in the stocking toes and eaten them (some pieces were squashed into the carpet).
For the first five minutes, Curtis and I were so dumbstruck by the scene that we literally did nothing but stand at the bottom of the stairs in silence, our mouths hanging open, watching as Zephyra moved some torn paper aside to play with one of her new toys.

Curtis offered to do the lion’s share of the work, but I shot that idea down.
“If you don’t bring her back to bed now, she won’t go back to sleep again and will be up from this point onward… making re-wrapping a moot point. Just take her back to bed and try to get her back to sleep.”
“Are you sure you want to do this by yourself?”
“Yeah. Besides, if I go up there and try to nurse her, she’ll just get wired up and we’ll have the same problem.”
“Okay. If you’re sure, you’re sure.”

Curtis picked her up and she immediately started screeching her displeasure. He ensured all the door locks were in place from the inside of the bedroom, turned off the lights, closed the blinds, brought her into bed with him and and effectively forced her back to sleep through sheer boredom. I heard her screaming for me for another 15 minutes before she finally gave in.
Meanwhile, I collected the torn paper in a pile and pawed through, looking for any salvageable pieces. There were none: Z had not only ripped the wrapping off the gifts, but nearly eradicated the paper itself in the process. I’d have to re-wrap the gifts with what little we had left on the rolls… which was not much. We’d also run out of scotch tape just after completing our last gift, and all I had left was some old painters tape. Ugh.

The worst part was she’d ripped up all the cards and tags, so I couldn’t remember whose gifts were whose (especially the ones given by family members, where I had not known what was inside).

It took me about an hour and a half to redo everything and set it all back up again – some just by educated guess – and the sun was coming up when I was finally done. Many gifts were haphazardly wrapped with little random pieces of paper, patched up with newsprint from the recycling bin. There was nowhere near enough left to re-wrap the piano.
I was so upset.
I mean, at least it wasn’t a lost cause, but still…

This year will go down in family history as the time Z’s sneaky little butt almost ruined Christmas.

Thankfully my hard work paid off and even Tempest was blissfully unaware of the disaster the night before. The Elders woke up around 7:30am and immediately dove into their stockings. Z woke us up shortly after (in spite of apparently being awake half the night…) and we went downstairs to enjoy the precious few hours we had before Curtis was needed at work.

His work hours have been so, so long – especially over the holidays. I had this conversation with friends recently, about how when you’re single there’s none of that awful emotional cycle of hope-letdown-despair that happens when spouses are overworked every single day. No comparing, of course; I know it isn’t comparable and in no way do I consider myself a single parent nor understand the unique challenges that it brings – it’s apples to oranges and a completely different kind of experience. When you have a present partner you rely on them emotionally and physically for help raising your children and tempering the stress and difficulty of the day, regardless of whether or not you want to, and that only leads to a horrible build-up of anxiety and depression when they inevitably don’t come home and you don’t get the help you’ve been counting on. That daily cycle of hope and despair is emotionally draining, to say the least.
Fortunately – if you can call it that – Curtis has been overworked enough to rack up nine “owed” days (it’s actually more like ten times that if you do the math, but you know…) and in a hugely surprising act of generosity, his boss actually decided to award them to him during the slower period of the year. Starting on January third he gets nine days off in a row.

There will be so much sex.
I cannot even begin to quantify the sex we will be having. I mean we’re already half-way into it and already I’m so swollen I can barely sit. Goddamn.


Random crafts of the day:
I’ve been gradually working on my wire-wrapping and have become more confident about making the “tree of life” necklaces. I made about 15 of them, along with some spiral heart pendants, for a local craft fair that my mom managed to get me into. Unfortunately the experience was a bust and even the most experienced vendors there only sold 1-2 items at the most. This was apparently due to a terrible lack of in advertising and the fact that the front door to the building had been locked and no alternate entrance was made available. Awesome planning.
Anyway.
After that I had tried to sell some on my Facebook, and put up an album with photos and detailed descriptions. I sold 5-6 of them, and then a local friend of a friend asked if I could make her a customized order for four: two in regular silver-plated wire and two in pure sterling silver wire. I said yes and gave a cost estimate before going downtown and pricing out the materials. This was a huge mistake. You see, apparently silver wire is outrageously expensive and averages anywhere from $35-$55 a foot at the gauge I need when making the frames for the trees. I’ve learned more than one valuable lesson through that transaction – if I can even call it that, as I made about $6 when all was said and done – but I did really like the resulting necklaces.

These first two are the silver-plated. The first is fluorite and the second malachite.

The last two are the pure silver; the first made with amber, and the second is a mixture of onyx and snowflake obsidian.

My favourite part was the clasp. I made three or four trial versions before settling on this design.

And this was a necklace I made for my mother’s birthday, but forgot to post it here.

Random Pictures of the Day:
Last month Z actually asked to use the potty, and then actually went, all by herself. She was so proud of herself she asked me to take a “pitchy” so she could look at her happy little self on the back of my camera. It was pretty darn adorable, even if it never happened again.

Those were taken just before I cut her hair. She’s got the same scraggly toddler hair thing going on that all my kids do at this age. I have so many friends who have toddlers with such thick, luxurious hair and I’m so jealous because my babies have hair that’s rather thin and short up until they’re into their preschool years.
Z tends to mash things into her hair constantly, so the ends get gross pretty fast. She is bathed almost every single morning (and occasionally a second time in the evening), but you know… toddlers. I figured it was time to give her a trim in hopes it would encourage her hair to grow out a little nicer.

By some miracle I managed to cut it without much issue, but was not impressed with the result. It took a few days to grow on me, and now I think it’s pretty adorable. I’ve tried to get a picture of it for over a week and she was not at all cooperative. I finally had to trick her into it by taking her into the downstairs bathroom and letting her play in the sink while I snapped some images.

She’s so silly.

Then she took off the rest of her clothes and announced, “I be NEKKIE! You pitchy me silly nakkie!” (This roughly translates to, “I want to see pictures of myself while I’m naked because I’m so silly”).

Naked except for her favourite pair of shoes, of course.


Accidental self-portrait of the day:

I was trying to get a photo of Z and I while she was being cute, but as soon as I got everything set up she hid when the shutter went off (you can see her behind me). I ended up keeping the photo because I actually like it: it’s the only image of me I’ve seen in years that makes me look old… or closer to my age, at least.

I had this really amazing moment when I was getting ready for the holiday staff party at Curtis’ work last month: just as I was finishing my eye make-up I stepped back, looked at myself in the mirror, and I saw a woman looking back at me. An actual, grown woman.
That was the first time in my life I’ve ever seen myself that way.

As a kid I always saw womanhood as a wonderful and beautiful existence: long fingers and thin willowy limbs, crow’s feet, laugh lines, freckled skin and hair peppered with tiny white streaks. All of it was so wonderful, and pretty… there was a real sense of elegance to aging, and I so desperately wanted to look that way too. I often fantasized that everything would magically fall into place once I got into my 20’s, and I’d somehow grow into myself and look that way, too. Look like a real woman. Then, finally I’d see the end the dysmorphia that comes with pituitary dwarfism and a lifetime of body image problems; I’d be free to learn how to love myself, to be okay with the way I looked.
That vision of womanhood never came true for me, and I never really changed at all. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror I still saw a child: someone underdeveloped, unworthy and inadequate. The older I got, the more I loathed it; at best I could make myself look like a teenager trying to pass themselves off as an adult. It’s as though I am marauding through my life wearing the clothes of another woman, and no matter how I grow and change on the inside, my life and experiences never show on my face. It’s been an endless source of self-loathing, and nothing has ever really improved it.

But that night, and in that moment, I felt really and truly wonderful. I saw myself as grown, just one time after all these years, and it was a strange and amazing experience. Though it was fleeting, the euphoria lasted through the evening: I was lovely, elegant and feminine – and I felt like I belonged. I’ve never felt that way before. I’ve never had that confidence.

I kept this photo for the same reason: it makes me feel pretty. When I look at it I actually see a woman who has been married nearly 12 years and has four children… instead of a teenager dressed in “mommy” clothes, trying to pass myself off as grown.

And it’s nice to feel pretty every so often.


Quotes of the Day:
#1
Xan, explaining his home design choices in Minecraft: “I like to use the raw wood for the walls because it’s fashion. Do you know fashion?”
“Fashionable.”
“Yes, that. Raw wood is *very* fashion in Minecraft right now.”

#2
While walking home from the store on New Year’s eve with the kids, we passed a group of rowdy (and likely drunk) teenagers on someone’s lawn. Tempest commented that they looked like they were assembling for some sort of meeting.
“What would they discuss at a teenager meeting?” I asked her.
She barely missed a beat before answering, “How to get all the junk food and alcohol, and then take over the world”.
“… Actually, that’s probably not too far from the truth.”

#3
Since starting this entry, we’ve progressed into day five of Curtis’ home-vacation. This evening, as soon as we both sat down on the couch, the kids went into need-machine overdrive and all the voices were going at once. At the same time, Zephyra stripped off her clothes and climbed up onto my lap to steal my food. She ate half of it in one go, then opened her mouth going, “Aawwwwhhawaaa!” to show me the half-chewed mush. When I didn’t respond, she brought her open mouth closer and closer to me until it was literally pushed against the side of my face. I gave Curtis a look out of the corner of my eye while this was happening, and he laughed and shook his head.
“How do you not just drink all day?
“This is why I’m always cleaning things. I try to avoid sitting down: it attracts them.”

Links of the Day:
What do dress codes say about girls’ bodies? – A fantastic article about how dress codes unapologetically target an sexualize girls; making points and dropping truth bombs that I am far too unarticulated to make.
How finding my korean mother gave me the courage to transition – A beautiful, heart-rendering story of a trans* Korean adoptee finding, and coming out to, her birth family. One of the most lovely stories I’ve read in a long time.
Inspiration is not inclusion – Fantastic article about the super cripple stereotype, and how being used as “inspiration” or “motivation” is neither nice nor inclusive. Choice quote: “Pairing up these images with inspirational slogans minimizes the very real challenges that people with disabilities and their families cope with every day, writes blogger Katherine Coble. Most of these challenges cannot be overcome by extra effort or quick solutions. For example, many therapies and many types of medical equipment are not affordable and not covered by insurance. Physical barriers in public places still exist for people with mobility impairments.
Some families cope with severe behavioral problems that lead to hospitalizations for the person with a disability and his or her caregiver. Sometimes these challenges are beyond the understanding of friends and extended family, so the immediate family is left alone”.

Emotional Baggage Check – The concept of this site is fantastic. If you’re going through something hard right now, let it out and check your “baggage” in a message, leaving your email (anonymous, and never ever shown). If you have life to spare, you come to help carry someone else’s… send along some good advice, or just a note saying you heard them and you care. All these positive and helpful messages are then emailed to the person who anonymously ‘checked their baggage’ and they get an inbox full of support from strangers.
I’ve spent almost two hours on this site, leaving messages for people who are feeling overwhelmed. It’s crazy, because every time I refresh the page another one comes up that I can absolutely connect with, and it makes me want to reach out and hug them.
(The only caveat is that you’re required to add in a link to a song or a YouTube video in order to send the message, so I point them all to various spoken word poems by Shane Koyczan).

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