dys·func·tion /dɪsˈfʌŋkʃən/ [dis-fuhngk-shuhn]–noun
1. Medicine/Medical . malfunctioning, as of an organ or structure of the body. 2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy. 3. Sociology . a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Festive Egg Nog - Part 4

The finale.

We took a few days off from visiting the relatives and then went right back at it with a dinner at my Dad's.

Boyfriend, Shake'n'Bake, Splat and I piled into the car post-nap and drove to my Dad's house for 3pm.

Dad had been slaving away all day in the kitchen making an awesome spread (my Dad has become quite the cook over the past two years) and so we said some pleasantries and then Boyfriend, Splat and I retired to the living room for some social time with Brother and Brother's Girlfriend. Shake'n'Bake was busy tearing around the house, chasing the various animals under Dad's Girlfriend's supervision.

I was under the impression that dinner would be my family, Brother and his Girlfriend, Dad and his Girlfriend, Dad's Girlfriend's Son and his girlfriend.

I was right...


But there was also Uncle #1 and his Girlfriend, and Grandma!

So, in my typical family get together fashion, it was loud.

I hadn't seen my Grandma in almost two years, so she hadn't seen Shake'n'Bake in almost two years, and this was the first time that she was meeting Splat. She held Splat for a few pictures before her arms got tired because my baby is rocking a hefty 16 pounds already!

We all sat down to dinner, (three tables separately clothed and then crammed together in a line) and passed the food around clockwise. This specification needs to be made because on Thanksgiving this year, the food was passed in various directions all-willy-nilly and this irked my Dad.

As is quickly becoming tradition, someone accidentally got mashed potatoes on the bottoms of various food dishes and we all blamed it on Dad.

Dinner was devoured.

Dad had made cake for dessert, but somebody had mentioned the word presents and so we were set to unwrap before gorging.

We opened presents, stuffed delicious cake in our faces, and then Dad packed up the rest of the turkey and sent it home with us.

Four down.

We made it! At least until next holiday...

Ah crap, Easter.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Festive Egg Nog - Part 3

Boxing Day.

One day after Christmas, two days after Christmas Eve.

Day three of the turkey dinner.

We all woke up (groggily) on Boxing Day, and I needed to take several deep breaths. And then drink several cups of coffee.

Day 3.

The morning was spent playing with new toys (me too! I was reading my new book!) and then Shake'n'Bake and Splat went down for their nap. Boyfriend and I showered and prepared the gifts and baby bag to go to his mom's house after nap.

Boyfriend's Mom was there, Boyfriend's Mom's Boyfriend and Boyfriend's Brother. A friend of their family came to dinner as well.

We opened presents in the living room (Shake'n'Bake kept asking for another present to open... how embarassing) and we all had cider/beer/eggnog and sat in the living room socializing until dinner.

Then we sat at a beautiful dining room table and ate a delicious dinner. All of the food was placed in the middle of the table and then we passed it around and served ourselves. The meal was amazing and we had nice quiet conversation throughout.

Shake'n'Bake was a big hit again, like usual, and she made a new friend who listened to her sing and played music for her to dance to. She was pretty distracted by the different rooms and chasing the cat around, we brought toys for her to play with but she wasn't interested in sitting still.

We left around 7 and brought the girls home. Shake'n'Bake got to open another new toy and play with it before bed.

Boyfriend and I (specifically 'I') settled into the couch and looked forward to a couple of days of no visiting.

Company takes a lot out of me.

Three down, one to go.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Festive Egg Nog - Part 2

After we had finished our Christmas Eve festivities, Boyfriend and I stayed up and YouTubed watched the Muppet's 'A Christmas Carol' while munching the Christmas Sugar Cookies and Rice Krispy Squares that Boyfriend taught Shake'n'Bake how to make.

I told him all about how I am unable to fall asleep until 1:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve due to excitement, and that I would probably be awake at 3 Christmas morning anyways (I'm such a child!). Apparently, I was wrong. We crawled into bed around 10 and I set an alarm to wake up before Shake'n'Bake got home from her dad's house. Splat woke up at 8:15, at which point I fed her and slowly got up and got ready.

I washed my hair and put my pyjamas on. Pyjamas? Yes, pyjamas. All of the Christmas morning photos I have from when I was a child are of all of us in our pyjamas...I just arranged a lot more of it this year.

In the letter from Santa that the girls recieved, he had sent them each a set of gingerbread pyjamas to wear Christmas morning. That just left Boyfriend and I to arrange our pyjamas for the morning. I think it was safe to say it was much more important to me what colour of pyjamas we were wearing than to Boyfriend.

I love that boy.

We shovelled a couple of bowls of cereal into our faces and eagerly awaited the 9 o'clock drop off time for Shake'n'Bake.

Hoo boy, was she tired! Her dad had got her up some time around 5:30 in the morning so they could do their Christmas festivities and then she had an hour long car ride back to my house, so she was a little...grumpy.

Her grumpiness lasted all of two minutes. (I LOVE my kids!) Then we got changed into Christmas pyjamas and started opening stockings!!!

Phew, I'm getting all excited again just talking about it!

All four of us opened our stockings (Splat actually succeeded in chewing and shaking gifts until they opened) which had been hung on the cupboards with care, and then we opened our presents.

Santa had been kind, and so had mommy and Boyfriend, and the girls opened tons of presents. (Shake'n'Bake started to open a couple that weren't hers by mistake, but I caught her and saved them) The girls played with their toys (and I with mine) for a couple of hours before nap time.

Right after nap we ate a snack, and got dressed to go to Boyfriend's Dad's house for Christmas Dinner. The four of us were there, and Boyfriend's Dad, Boyfriend's Dad's Girlfriend, her sister, her sister's husband and their son, Boyfriend's Dad's Girlfriend's Daughter and Boyfriend's Brother.

They put on an awesome spread and to my surprise, offered it buffet style! (I've never had that outside of my own family before) People broke off into many smaller conversations but overall the noise level was quieter than our Christmas Eve Dinner.

Shake'n'Bake became the center of attention (like normal) especially at the end of the evening when she led a dance party and ordered people to clap in time for her.

You were singled out if you weren't clapping.

"You! Clap you hands!"

It was hilarious, and everyone was really kind spirited and clapped well past the point of arm fatigue for her.

After her dance party was ended by me we called it a night and packed the girls up and drove home.

Smiling and exhausted, Boyfriend and I put the girls to bed and then collapsed on the couch.

Two down, two to go.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Festive Egg Nog - Part 1

On Christmas Eve we went to my uncle's house for my cousin to put on Christmas Dinner.

My cousin mentioned this dinner at the Kid's Christmas Party that she hosted early in December, with a sidenote that she had told her father to invite everyone...so I probably wouldn't be told until the morning of the 24th.

"Just so you know...dinner is happening...and you're invited. I'll Facebook you."

Well, I hemmed and hawed about this dinner because Shake'n'Bake was with her dad all day Christmas Eve (she came back Christmas morning) and Boyfriend and I had planned a big nothing all day because we had two hectic days of family fun following it.

As the day approached and my cousin Facebooked me, I realized that I missed seeing my extended family...plus my cousin puts on an awesome spread...and it's awesome to be able to see everyone for Christmas.

We RSVP'd yes.

At 2pm on Christmas Eve I fed Splat then dressed her in her snowsuit and buckled her into her carseat to go. The panic had set in. Now you have to understand, my family is a little...well, you know, family-like...and this was Boyfriend's first time meeting most of them.

When he had asked me who was going to be there, I guessed.

"My cousin (you met her at the Christmas party), her son, her dad-uncle #2 (it's his house that we're going to), my parents, Brother, other cousin (Uncle #3's daughter) and her kids, and probably aunt and uncle #1 (you met uncle #1 when I moved last). I don't think Grandma will come because she hasn't been feeling well lately, and uncle #3 probably won't be there, and I doubt my aunt will make the 3 hour drive for dinner. Uncle #2 has 2 other kids, but his oldest just had twins, and since they're still in the hospital I don't think they'll come, and the youngest lives in a different province so he won't be there either."

(((HAHAHAHA I just reread that paragraph...good luck!)))

Well we arrived at about 3pm and as more and more people arrived it turned out I had guessed terribly wrong. Uncle #2 was there (it was his house we were at mind you) and his daughter (the dinner maker) and her son. Uncle #2's youngest son was there too (from a different province!!! I hadn't seen him in 6 years prior to Christmas Eve) with his new and pregnant wife. My parents came with Brother, uncle #1 came with his girlfriend (my aunt), uncle #3 and his wife came too, and so did uncle #3's daughter, her boyfriend, and her two kids. Later, a friend of dinner-cousin's came with her daughter (I think it was her daughter...I have no clue).

It was loud.

My family is loud.

Brother and I tried to give the breakdown to Boyfriend.

"Maintain eye contact with whomever is talking to you. Once eye contact is broken it is assumed that the story is over and the person will move on."

"Talk louder than everyone else, everyone is trying to talk louder than you."

And other various tidbits of information.

I was so worried that someone would say something offensive. My family is pretty...blunt...and I haven't exactly lived a model life so I'm a fairly easy target. I was amazed at how well it went. Everyone was pleasant and friendly; Splat was praised as adorable, social, and highly developed; and I had a fantastic time getting to catch up with a few family members that I haven't seen in a while.

Dinner. Yum!

My family is pretty comfortable with the buffet style spread. All the food is placed on some surface with plates at the 'start', then the chef calls dinner and everyone rushes to the food in an effort to put tons on your plate before someone else in the family devours it all.

I was first introduced to this style when I was child, my mother used to host the big Christmas Eve dinner and put it all out as a buffet style. Of course, this woman also used paper plates so we wouldn't have to wash as many dishes later.


My very talented cousin cooked an amazing spread that I proceeded to stuff myself with (getting in the occassional jab about balding to my dad) and then she put out four different kinds of dessert that I had no room for. (Yeah, I shoved half a piece of cherry chocolate cake into my face anyways)

Then we opened gifts, socialized for a bit longer, then took our grumpy little angel home for bed.

One down, three to go.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Taste of Despair

This post is not happy-fun-giddy, laugh-out-loud funny, or insightful by any means.
This is a true story and it is very dark and depressing.
Please! If this will damper your holidays or ruin your mood DO NOT READ THIS.
Come back to it later or skip it all together. I won’t be offended.

It was December 25th. Brother had gone to his girlfriend’s house Christmas Eve to spend happy-fun-Christmas-time with them and Shake’n’Bake had been picked up by her dad at 8 that morning.

The two of us had gone to his mom’s house to spend Christmas lunch with them, then all of us were supposed to drive up to his aunt’s house for Christmas dinner.

We made it through lunch.

He had kept me hidden in the basement watching movies I didn’t want to see... almost hiding me from his family. His mom had given me a tour of their house and when she asked him for help with the horses I came outside too.

Then he bummed a cigarette off her.

It wasn’t the cigarette itself, it really wasn’t. It was the fact that every thing he said to me he had gone back on. Every promise had been broken, every noble statement had shrivelled up and died, and I knew in that one instance that he was not going to even try to be my baby’s father.

The depression hit hard and it hit strong.

I barely functioned through the gift opening and then I realized that I still had to drive to the middle of nowhere to visit his aunt... and I couldn’t do it. I knew I was in a serious funk, a spiral of destructive thoughts and empty blackness, and I also knew I couldn’t ruin Christmas for a bunch of strangers.

I pleaded sickness and left.

Driving home was the longest drive I have ever had to do. Tears were pouring down my face so much, that I could barely see the road.

Who cares,’ I thought, ‘I could die right now and it would be better.

I thought about Shake’n’Bake and I knew that she was safe with her father. I knew I would miss her terribly, but she was still only one and would barely remember me. Barely know the ache of a dead mother.

I thought about the tiny person growing inside me and I knew that they would be better off if they weren’t born. I knew that they would be miserable being with me and that it would be better to end it all now.

And through the streaming tears I saw telephone poles whizzing by, and I wanted to turn my car into one and die.

I released the wheel and mimed turning it into the poles.

Several times.

I don’t know how I made it home in one piece, but somehow I did, and I was so alone.

Brother wasn’t due back until the next day, and neither was I really.

For the first time in my life, I considered abortion. The thoughts racing through my head over and over again were that I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t be raising two little girls and dealing with everything else life had to throw at me, while being with someone who was so unsupportive and fake.

I started calling Abortion Clinics.

Not one was open because it was Christmas.

I called the Crisis Hotline and told them that I really needed to speak to an Abortion Counsellor – someone who could tell me if I was making this decision for the right reasons – but no one was available... it was Christmas.

I wasn’t about to call my dad and ruin his Christmas with my super-depression, my family has had enough with mom’s Christmas hatred.

So I resigned myself to crying. I lied in bed and sobbed. I sat on the couch and sobbed. I curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor and I sobbed.

I was empty and lost and hurting so badly, and there was no one there to help me.

I had just gotten off the kitchen floor and moved back to the couch when I heard the key turn in the door.

Brother had left his girlfriend’s house and come home. He had no idea that I was there, and he had no reason to come home at all that day. The house was supposed to be empty, yet he decided to leave the warmth and joy of his girlfriend’s Christmas celebration and bum a ride home.

All he would say?

“I felt like you needed me.”

He saved my life that day, coming home when he did.

The doctors diagnosed it as antenatal depression which means pregnancy induced. It got better and eventually disappeared but I’m not sure if that was due to my pregnancy progressing (hence the hormones changing) or due to me taking control of my life again. But what I do know for sure, is that the turning point was when Brother came home unexpectedly Christmas Day, to a supposedly empty house, because he felt like I needed him.

And so, I would like to say, that my Brother is a great man. We helped each other survive growing up, he shows so much affection to my children, and I’ve watched him grow into a smart, powerful man. I know that he is going to do great things in his life and I am excited to be a part of it.

Thank you for making me soup when I was sick, babysitting my children, teaching me about computers, and waking up early with me every Christmas morning.
Christmas is a time of year that I think of you often. I remember decorating the tree together, talking for four hours every morning before we could wake the parents up, and laughing about Grandma’s walking farts.
I love you so much, and I am grateful every day for all the things that you have done for me.
Merry Christmas Brother!
With love,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dodged Another Bullet

So I have had some fears lately of people getting the same gift for my kids that I got them.

This fear is strongly based on the fact that my parents got Shake'n'Bake some form of bi-tri-cycle thing for her birthday this year, and my big gift to her was a bicycle.

Luckily, I realized what it was before she opened it and sent it back. (I'm awful I know, but I promise I'm not normally that ungrateful, I was just going to cry hysterically if my surprise was ruined in any way.)

"You got her a bike too?!?!"
Picture from here

Since that time, I have been a little fearful of the same thing happening again.

Today, December 22nd, I have dodged that bullet for another holiday.

Yesterday Bestie came over and spoiled my offspring with loads of gifts, (she also spoiled Boyfriend and I with some super thoughtfulness) and today Brother and Brother's Girlfriend came over and Brother's Girlfriend spoiled my children with more gifts, and THUS FAR there have been no repeats.

So now I am relieved. I am relieved because we're going to my cousin's house for dinner on Christmas Eve, but there will most likely be no presents there for my children (just din!) and that means that the next gifts they get will be from us.

This means, in the event that there is a gift repeat left to come, (my parents, and two Christmas celebrations with Boyfriend's respective parents) that I won't be the offender. That's right folks, because from Christmas morning on...

I will have gifted first.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Rule About The Tree... And Other Christmas Revelry


–noun, plural -ries.
reveling; boisterous festivity: Their revelry could be heard across the river.
merrymaking, celebration, carousal, spree.

I have some photos to share!

This is Tim, our Christmas tree!

And this is Tim all dressed in his holiday apparel!

I used some wire and turned an ornament into a star for the top of the tree (I'm awesome, I know) and Boyfriend bought some garland, bows, and candy canes to help decorate this place!

I was jealous inspired by a bowl of pinecones of all things, that I saw at Boyfriend's Mom's house, so we stopped at the Dollarama (it's nuts out there!) and I spent a total of $2.26 on this awesome decorative piece.

It's okay to be jealous.

I already had the cotton snow because I used to make pillows, the branches are from Tim, and the basket is part of a four piece set I got as a birthday present from my aunt.

The smaller two baskets have been filled with mini candy canes (yes!) and the bigger basket is still empty, but will most likely be filled with cookies after we bake.

SO! Sunday.

Sunday night when Shake'n'Bake got home from her dad's house we all sat down and wrote our letter to Santa. She was polite, but fairly nonspecific...

"Dear Santa,
I have been good this year.
I would like some toys.
Splat would like some toys."


But we wrote it and Boyfriend then carried Shake'n'Bake to the mailbox where she left the letter for an elf to pick up.

Well wouldn't you know it, Santa had come and left a reply by the next morning.

He left a hand-written letter (sealed with gold) and a lovely package for the girls.

That's the letter in the background.
It was covered in stickers and various happiness and had come all the way from the North Pole.

Shake'n'Bake was super excited.

After the initial wrapping was removed there was a tidy brown box that had his signature on it.

Santa Claus had sent two stuffed animals (one reindeer and one snowman), three packages of stickers (Disney Princesses, Toy Story 3, and Tinkerbell), and a set of pyjamas for each girl to wear Christmas morning.

It was very sweet of Santa to send a gift early so that the girls, specifically Shake'n'Bake, can get super excited about the impending Christmas morning and have toys to play with until then.

Oh, and the rule about the tree (and the presents) is...

Don't Touch.

Now: A Blog Note!

I am going to try and update as much as possible, but there are a few people that I love more than you readers...and that's my family (and let's be honest, at this point I'm going to see most of you over the holidays) so I may be busy doing happy-fun-family-stuff but I will try and pop in and let you know how things are going.

I wish you all happiness during the holidays!

With love,


Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Tim' The Tree


So we got our tree today.

Boyfriend and I borrowed Boyfriend's Mom's Boyfriend's truck (say that three times fast...), left Splat with Boyfriend's Mom (Shake'n'Bake is at her dad's this weekend), and went to get our awesome-tastic tree.

We picked a beauty.

He's about 7 feet tall (a beautiful fit with star in our eight foot high room), and I believe he's a Balsam Fir.

We've named him Tim and he makes the apartment smell fantastic.

I have enough warm-fuzzies to last me clear through Wednesday.

Tomorrow is decorating day (we have to let Tim open all the way) and I am so super pumped.

Boyfriend surprised me by bringing home more Christmas decorations this morning! Garland(s?) and bows. I am so happy! This year I bought glass balls, a star, and a tree skirt - all of which I have never personally owned before - to add to/significantly improve my Christmas decorations.

Last year's tree was fairly...Charlie Brown-ish.

Anyways, I am super pumped to decorate tomorrow. I've been playing Christmas carols for two days straight now.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go.

7 more days!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa Site Review

In one of the comments I recieved on yesterday's post, the author of Becoming Unstuck mentioned a link that I should check out.

So I did.
Because I'm super awesome.

This site, "Magic Santa", allows you to fill in a few blanks to provide information about your child (/friend/coworker/etc.) and then automatically emails this 'letter' to Santa at the North Pole. Santa then sends a video reply to the email address that you provide (I completely unchecked the 'provide me with updates and extra information boxes surrounding my email) which is tailored and personalized to your child.

You get to fill in your child's name, age (in years), gender, country, province, ideal gift for Christmas, highlight of the year, picture, and what they want to be when they grow up. Then you provide a picture of yourself and your relationship to the child and you're ready to go.

"But dysfunction, what about my child? My child has a very unique name. How will Santa know?"

That is a great question faithful reader!

The first box you fill in is your child's name. Spell it exactly as it should be spelled, that is how it will appear written. Further down the screen you get to pick the pronounciation of your child's name, and the best part is Santa will say 'My dear friend' if the pronounciation for you child's name isn't there!
(This is quite similar to my experience with the Scout-Violet toy from Leapfrog...thumbs up for that toy!)

I have made a video as demonstration, unfortunately I can't figure out how to embed it in here...so you'll have to follow this link or click on the picture.

www.magicsanta.com if you want to use it.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the production and quality.

I would like to see in the future, an option to put all of your children into one letter/video, or to have a list of Video #1-5 as an option at the beginning, so you can pick a slightly different speech if you have multiple children.

Mine are still too young to pick up on it, but older children may notice that Santa is asleep at the beginning of every video...or says the same thing almost.

But in his defense, it is difficult to be original 100,000 times.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Special Delivery

When I was a kid we used to write letters to Santa Claus every year and mail them to him at the North Pole.

Santa Claus
The North Pole

(Did any of my Canadian friends notice that for us, the North Pole was in Canada?)

Dear Santa,

I hope you and Mrs. Claus are doing well this year. I have been very good and I would like some Polly Pockets and a pony.


And every year Santa would reply.

Dear dys·func·tion,

Thank you for your letter! Mrs. Claus and I are doing very well thank you. The elves are very busy at the North Pole right now so I will have to see what I can do about your Polly Pockets. I agree with your parents though, a pony is not a good pet for the city.

Santa Claus

So I was super excited to mail letters to Santa Claus from Shake'n'Bake when she was born.

She asked for some wooden blocks and teething rings her first Christmas... the letter that she got back was very shocking and disappointing to me.

The same event the following year.

So I talked to Santa Claus this year. I had to know what had happened. Why, suddenly, instead of heartfelt letters in return, a child was sent a computer print out of some generic response that had their name hand written into the
 'Dear                 ,'  space on the letter.

The response I recieved was...politically correct (poor Santa's been on the block for bad PR lately) but I was able to weed out the truth.

It appears that over the years Santa was getting more and more negative feedback from his replies. Parents were upset over mentions of the elves, or the reindeer, that prompted their children to ask questions they weren't prepared to handle. Small children weren't understanding the old 'I'll see what I can do' non-commital stand-by and were getting upset when they didn't recieve exactly what they wanted.

Image from here
Santa's legal team got together with the PR team (PR = Public Relations) and they decided that the best course of action would be to create a non-commital, politically correct response that could cover all the letters sent in every year. This would ensure that children would still get their response from Santa, and also that parents would be happy with the responses themselves.

*shakes head*

It's crushing what this world is coming to.

Well, I expressed my sympathy to the big man over what he'd been through the previous years, I'd had no idea. But I did let him know that I wasn't interested in getting a non-commital, politcally correct reponse, so my kids wouldn't be sending him letters any more.

There was a pause while Santa made sure our conversation was still private.

Then he told me about an 'underground' project that he had been doing. How it only took one elf to write the children's names on the responses, and so they all had a lot of free time on their hands.

He was still writing letters.

Photo from here

"dysfunction," he said to me, "I can't offer this to everyone you understand, but if you let me know when you plan to write your letters then I can send an elf to pick them up from your mailbox. Don't bother with the HOH OHO any more... not if you don't want the computer generated response... just write 'To Santa Claus" on the front and leave it in the box. I'll respond, the way I used to, with love and affection."

Now I must warn you, this is not for the faint of heart. It will require work on the part of mom or dad. You have to talk to Santa Claus and decide if this is what you want to do. He still wants Christmas to be magical, but that PR and legal team are fairly insistent that this is the way to go. Once you decide to take the 'underground' route you have to let Santa Claus know what day you will be leaving your letter in the box, so he can send an elf to pick it up. Then he will respond, the way he used to, with love and affection.

I have an idea of what my girls are in for this year. Santa and I may have tossed the word 'package' around instead of 'letter'; and I may have mentioned to him Shake'n'Bake's love of stickers.

I have to call to finalize, but it looks like I'll be leaving an envelope marked "To Santa Claus" in my mailbox this Friday night.

***Update: I talked to Santa Claus and he's going to arrange the pick-up for Sunday night! So excited!***

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Young Perspective

I have been loving learning all about Shake'n'Bake's perspective on life. It is very interesting and a little bit exhilarating to see the world through the eyes of a two year old again.

This got me thinking, of course, of how I had a different perspective of things when I was younger too and, of course, this means I am going to share it with you.


I am seven years old. Mom, Dad and I are in the basement eating dinner and watching TV... ah, family bonding time.

Brother had gone upstairs to use the bathroom, or so we had assumed, and since he was four this was not a huge deal.

Until the crying started.

Down in the basement we could hear his pitiful wails.

My parents, who were busy trying to melt into the couch...

Keep going! You've almost done it, I can barely see your legs!

...decided that it would be best to send their seven year old daughter to investigate the crying.

I bounded up the stairs and reached the top, and this is what greeted me:

Brother had found the utility knife and had accidentally cut himself, causing little drops of blood to splatter on the floor.

Blood.     Dripping.     Floor.

This is what my seven year old self saw:

I lost my sh**.

I started screaming bloody murder and calling for every form of help I could imagine.

"Daaaaaaaaaaaaad! Mommmmmmmmm! Nine-one-one! Santa! Teddy! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"


What actually happened...

What I saw.

So I guess it is a big deal when Bunny falls out of bed onto the floor, or when the tower of blocks you've built falls over.

For the record, Brother was fine. Bandaids were enough to patch him up.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Tent

She sat cross legged, staring at her hands. There was a cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other. A tent inside a garage...what a stupid idea. As if it wasn't enough that the homeowners were okay with all of them drinking underage and smoking pot in the garage, the boys had to set up a tent that they could hotbox. Get high faster. Faster....huh, she was a lightweight already, this seemed like overkill.
Puff puff pass. The joint had long expired. Her mp3 player was going. It was in her ears, but she didn't hear it, she wasn't listening.

A cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other.

The ground was cold under her. They may be in a tent, but it was just a thin sheet of nylon between her and the cold concrete ground. There was snow outside, but that didn't matter. They weren't outside. They weren't....

A cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other.

They had been drinking inside before this. Rum and iced tea. Maybe. Maybe it was just straight rum...or coca cola...she couldn't remember. Oh well, memories are not something one formed willingly then. There were talks of more drinking, perhaps beer in the tent. Then they could smoke more.

A cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other.

Someone had passed her the papers and the weed. She was the newest member of their 'circle' but she had an uncanny skill for rolling joints. Neat and tidy, her OCD was evident in this odd task. Pack it perfectly...not too loose- that's a waste of paper, not too tight- or it won't burn nicely, she was often commended on her rolling abilities, but once she'd started smoking it she no longer had the focus. Or the stability. Her hands would shake.

A cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other.

That damn Zippo. It all started with a present for him, but she had to get herself one too. Almost a way of proving that she fit in with the group. She was the same as them. Loved drinking and smoking too. She had it engraved, always the sentimental one, with the words "Life...it goes on" almost prophetic, but more telling of how she knew she was in a bad spot right now. Was she really into smoking pot? Cigarettes? Drinking like a fish? Who knew? She didn't even know herself most days. It was easy though, as soon as the questions made their way back into her brain she would kill them. She'd drown them in shots, or smoke them out. All the difficult questions she wasn't ready to face.
Where was she going? Vodka.
Did this make her happy? Rum.
Was he supposed to treat her like this? Whiskey.
Who had she become? Pot.

A cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other.

Cigarettes. She had started smoking to fit in too. She smoked with the boys on coffee break and lunch. It had started with some cigarellas, mini cigars if you will, all of the tobacco, none of the nicotine. When she ran out that day she couldn't just go back inside. If she wasn't there, they might forget she existed. 'Cigarette please,' she had asked, and then never gone back.
Did anyone know she existed?

A cigarette in one hand, a Zippo lighter in the other.

"Are you gonna smoke that?"
And suddenly she was back in the tent in the garage, sitting cross legged on the ground in a circle of them. They were all looking at her now expectantly.

She raised the cigarette to her lips and flicked the Zippo lighter on.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Canine Tribute

It was 1995.

I was just a little dysfunction living at home with Dad and Mom and Brother.

We had decided to get a dog.

We picked him out of a litter of pudgy fur balls.

We named him Merlin.

(Sorry for the crappy photos...I was 7. Give me a break)

Merlin was half Black Labrador, half German Sheppherd, and he was smart.

He was the easiest dog to train, and he was full of love. He would stand up to give you a hug, but keep all of his weight on his back legs so he wouldn't knock you over. He was protective, and goofy, and best of all he would eat the food that Brother and I would toss off our plates during meal time.

Dad and Merlin would share popsicles during the summer.

He had his own stocking for Christmas, and he loved to open presents.

Merlin would bark once at the back door every time he had to go out, but other than that (or intruders) he was quiet.

One day someone poisoned him.

The bad area that I lived in at the time had a sudden attack on dogs. Someone was poisoning sausages with antifreeze and tossing them over fences so dogs would eat them.

The poison affected Merlin's brain and he developed Canine Epilepsy. He would have uncontrollable seizures, forgot who and where he was, and lose control of his bladder and bowels.

It tore us apart.

He went into a seizure one morning that he couldn't come out of. My parents gathered Brother and I from school and we all took the long car ride to the vet.

Merlin was put down just before his fifth birthday.

I sobbed hysterically for two straight days, and my eleven year old self swore that if I ever found out who poisoned him, I would kill them.

Our lives were very lonely without Merlin. Brother and I would come home from school every day to silence. There were no cuddles on the floor or games of fetch.

We were a dog family, with no dog.

In May of 2000 we adopted another puppy.

A ten week old, big-pawed goofball.

We named him Balto.

Balto was half Australian Sheppherd, half Husky, and when he was a puppy he would never bark.

By nature, Huskies howl, so Balto would howl/"talk" when he wanted to make himself heard.

He was the biggest suck on the face of the planet. He would follow the family around and lie on your feet; he would whine outside of doors to be let in; and he would sit almost on top of you on the couch, to ensure he got the seat next to you.

Balto would 'knock' on the back door with his paw to be let out, and developed quite the love of opening presents on Christmas as well.

When he was a puppy he developed a hemotoma (a pocket of blood in the ear, due to the ear's inability to bruise properly) that caused one of his pointy ears to flop over from the weight. After it was drained, he chose to leave it down...it gave him character.

Later on, he developed a hemotoma in the other ear, and when it too collapsed from the weight, Balto perked his first ear back up. After the second ear was drained Balto would choose which ear he wanted up, and which ear he wanted down, it was amazing and endearing.

I trained Balto to roll over, sit like a meer cat, and stay with a treat on his nose; I trained him to sit next to my dinner on the floor, and never ever touch it. I moved out of my parent's house, but Balto never forgot me. Not for a second. The sound of my voice was instantly calming to him, and he warmed up to my babies (despite being unsure what they were).

On December 7th 2010, at the age of 10 -almost 11- Balto decided it was time to leave the world.

He was still as kind and lovable as he was the first day we brought him home.

When I was told of his deteriorating health, I choked up a little, and I wondered if I would hurt the same way I hurt with Merlin because I no longer lived with Balto...I didn't see him every day.

I got the news that Balto had passed, and after the girls went to bed I sobbed.

I told Boyfriend every happy, goofy memory I could think of and I cried.

And it felt good.

Christmas will be a little sad this year, because this will be the first Christmas in 15 years that there will be no puppy opening presents along side us, but in the end...

They're never really gone.
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