The dryer died a few days before Christmas, and I learned something. While it is possible to pioneer it for a week, and hang EVERYTHING - in these modern times, clothes aren't designed for that. Josie's cotton turtlenecks don't fit as nicely, and the longer, stretched out sleeves hang in her food and get dirtier. Steve's underwear doesn't feel nice and soft and snug when he puts it on. Socks, after being hung to dry, still end up looking rather shrivelled. And towels? I like fluffy towels, some parts of me more than others. Toddlers do not like crunchy towels either.
And so, the old dryer is on the porch (just remembered to call special pick up - back in a minute!). I doubt I'll be writing "Fud in Heer" on the shiny new one. Not after I had to FIGHT with two store managers over how helpful the store's employees should be, which in the end, garnered me free delivery. Besides, it's NEW - not the one that came with the house when we bought it five years ago, already almost ten years old. It took me ages to get over the fact that my underwear would be dried where other guys' underwear had been dried. But, hey - bonus points if you can tell me where the "Fud" joke came from! Then I'll know you're the right sort.
Christmas? It was lovely. I had to cut a few corners, such as really truly making clove-studded kumquats. I used commercial wrap instead of hand-painting and stamping Kraft paper. But then, since I didn't receive any gifts wrapped in hand-painted or stamped Kraft paper, I'm guessing that nobody really cared.
We realized, in our more relaxed holiday period, that toddlers aren't quite ready to dress themselves, and that we will continue to provide limited choices.
Christmas itself? Wonderful in so many ways. A few days before, we visited my family in Buffalo and got in some last minute shopping, mainly in the way of cheap liquor - a must for gatherings.
Which might explain why we found these so funny:
They were dubbed "Dong-nuts", and they came with chocolate for dipping. Our dear friend, who works for the schmanciest of places visits and brings lovely things like heart-shaped pumpkin flans...
...assured us these are also served at the fancy place, and while they were delicious, they were made better by their also being hilariously phallic and our being puerile and buzzed.
We also received many, many gifts of food, and most were pleasing to the toddler.
At least, the eyes were. We have a legion of eyeless gingerbread men stashed in various places around the house - I'm still finding them. Personally, I was most fond of the handmade chocolate-covered salted caramel candies our dear chef friend brought; though I also managed to make most 0f a box of Godiva chocolate bars, a lasagna, artisan cheese, more cookies, and various wines and liquors disappear.
The one thing I did not eat much of was this:
This cake, this bitter, cold, mean and gruesome disappointment of a cake. My mother, who watches the cooking channel whenever she's not watching the Poker channel, rarely cooks anything she sees (just as she never plays poker - her nickels go into the slots and on the ponies) was inspired, as she often is, before she decides it' just easier to make the stuff she always makes and gets plenty of compliments for anyway. But, this cake recipe was just tempting enough. She called me a week before Christmas, I found the recipe online (which took some sleuthing, as I've never heard of Chef Paula Deen and so I spelled it wrong, and then her shows recipe's are sorted by date, and my mom doesn't remember which day she saw it, and she even forgot to tell me it was coconut at first, just that it was Paula's son's favourite cake and she didn't remember the boy's name), and she transcribed it with the intent of making it for our Christmas Eve visit. I was looking forward to it, because really - go look at the recipe, see the butter and coconut milk and sour cream and salivate along with me. Oh! And also, look at the picture. And read the instructions. Now look at the image above again. Notice anything? It's not supposed to be a sheet cake!
In my mother's typical style, she looked at the recipe, and made a few executive decisions. Such as, who needs coconut milk? And, layers are too much work! Sour cream would require a trip to the store that's about two-hundred feet away! Why make frosting when I have a can laying around?! For that matter, why make it from scratch when I can use a mix? And so, instead of having a flavourful filling soaking through layers of fluffy cake, topped in creamy frosting bursting with coconut flavour - we got basically an angel-food sheet cake with canned frosting covered in three inches of dry coconut. It wasn't the same thing, and she can't make me believe that.
You see - it happens all the time. I'll get my taste buds geared up for something she cooks that I actually like when she's promised to make it - then find she's changed it somehow in the name of convenience. There was the year (during the period when I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian!) that she decided to follow some tips for healthy eating from some ladies' magazine and add only chicken soup broth to mashed potatoes instead of milk and butter. (SACRILEGE!) Or, when she decided canned yams with maple syrup were an adequate substitute for her baked yams with brown sugar, pineapple, butter and cream (THE HORROR!) And so, grateful for my meds, I can now laugh at these cruel substitutions, and chalk up the coconut cake debacle to the "yet again" column.
After they left for their hotel on Christmas Eve, the best part of the party started. Josephine heard the strains of "Jingle Bell Rock" and shouted "EVERYBODY DANCE!", and so we did.
As we say, the best part of Christmas Eve is having fun with the family we choose.
Christmas Day with a toddler? It's a trip. Santa very wisely decided to stay up until 2 am to assemble and display everything. Unscrewing and replacing the panels on battery compartments (after stealing batteries from various remotes) and releasing the Dr. Barbie the Vet hostage from her various wires and hair stitched to plastic strips in her molded cell took ages. There is no way the toddler would have tolerated it.
The hits? The highly enjoyable Ice Age DVD (which is buying me time to type right now). The $36 horse, which walks and neighs then falls over and kicks its legs and neighs - that was the one thing that she asked Santa for - and the one thing I didn't plan to actually buy. Then I found myself making a special trip to the store on the 24th, because, well, because, well, because. And I tried not to resent that I paid full price for it, because the alternative was paying $17 at Walmart. It's nice to think I have a few shreds of pride left. Other good things? We all love the Buddha board. The Gel Gems were great. Were, in that when they aren't in the bath they are dusty and cat hairs and crumbs stick to them because she can't ONLY play with them on a window, because she is a toddler. When they aren't dusty and crumby, they're slimy from the bath, where the small dots and pieces of the dolphin's tails that she's pulled apart clog the drain. But, they do keep her amused. Fun and cleanliness are only opinions, right?
Other fun Christmas toys were surprisingly simple - a box of wooden ladybugs from my boss at Winkel. Not a bad infestation, just one that's rather surprising at times. This is typical:
And we often opened the TV cabinet to find this:
But it's still startling to sit down to the dinner table and see this:
For Steve? The best daddy of all of the daddies that ever were daddies? The one who plays with dolls and plastic horsies and sustains endless games of "Let's Play What's Your Name"?
A better-than that eunich Ken guy, for him to play dolls with Josie. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Johnny Cash (When not in use, displayed next to our Frederica Tomas linocut print). Also, books and books and books. And expensive magazines, which can be as good as books. And some art prints, and guy things like sweaters and socks. Okay, so maybe the vintage ceramic hand sculpture was something I wanted to give him more than he wanted to receive. Okay, so maybe I wanted it for myself and used him as excuse to buy it. He had his fun with it...
and now it looks nice with our stuff.
What else for me? Books and books and books. So. Much. Reading. A year's worth if I consider that I get to read Steve's too. And the time to read them, since he's been home. I've had luxurious afternoons curled up under the down comforter on the sofa, pouring over words and inspiration. If there's one thing people seem to know how to choose for me, it's books. And the calendar of my dreams, and stinky bath stuff. And food. And the pea coat of my dreams (which, like my last pea coat, will endure for fifteen years until it hangs from my shoulders in shreds: an excellent cost-per-wearing ratio!).
And a silly hat. I received a gift certificate from a friend for Nathalie-Roze & Co., in an amount that made me giddy to spend. I can't believe I chose a pink one - but it does have a skull on it, so it is perfect and I am happy with it. I feel so sassy in my new coat and hat, I can't stand myself.
But all of that, in no way compares to the best gift ever. The prodigal came home. I was too sad, too ashamed and embarrassed to admit this, but...this happened a while ago.
I know, again. (Hangs head in shame.)
But this time, it was different. Josephine had a wild tantrum on the way home from the drop-in that day. It was awful - she was a screaming, flailing, melting, rigid, hot, angry, crazy person, and I struggled with her all the way home. I had to carry her most of the way. Except, that as the unwillingly carried, she often threw herself about so much I had to sometimes let her lay there and scream. The attempt to just hold her and wait it out at in the hallway at the drop-in had already gone on for twenty minutes. And hallways? The acoustics.
So at some point, Baby Rat fell out of the bag. And I cared, but because of that rotten behaviour - a purely manipulative tantrum - a lesson was needed. Once she calmed down at home (fifteen minutes after our arrival) we traced our steps backward, and found nothing. I made the poster, and when Steve got home from work, he put up a few with Josie in tow. I went online, and found that finding another baby mouse meant an overseas order. It was considered, but we decided to let it sink in, that those kinds of tantrums are harmful in ways she might not think of. It hurt us more than it did her...I mean, it was Baby Rat!
But on Christmas day, Steve got a mysterious phone call, and left for a bit. When he returned:
Baby Rat - a little worse for the wear. He's um...an amputee, with some damage to his ears and throat. He's filthy. A neighbourhood dog found him...in with a pile of things kept where some homeless guys sleep in the park.
So while we cringed while he got hugs...
Everyone was glad to see Baby Rat at home.
Now I still have to repair him, and wash him, now that we have something to dry him in.
But wait...you ask, "What about Boo Boo?"