A week of contemplation…

The time between Christmas and New Years seems almost like a holiday, even though it isn’t one. It doesn’t feel like a busy party with presents and too much food but a contemplative party heading toward the birth of new year.

20181225_202409-01We opened all our presents yesterday and I got the gift I was hoping for… a new scale that says “You are amazing”. I need that daily affirmation, I think most of us do. I also got two pairs of slippers, one unicorn and one with mermaid sequins and two hot chocolate mugs, one with a unicorn that says “be magical” and one is a white cat with legs. Plus I got an ornament for my tree, a round, pink pig with wings and a crown. I knew they were sold out at every Pier One nearby, I didn’t realize my Mom had picked up one of the last ones.

More importantly was the time spent with family. Kait, her boyfriend, and their baby came over for Christmas morning, complete with stockings and cinnamon rolls. Then we all went over to my parents’ house for more presents, conversation, and yummy meals.

But Christmas is over and now it’s time to look forward to 2019. I have my main goal, I want to get on track diet wise so I can be a decent weight for our family Dominican Republic trip. I’ve slipped up this month and regained four pounds (arguably it could have been worse).

I want to spend more time with my friends and family. I’ve been enjoying Saturday karaoke nights with my friends each week and Sunday visits with family. I need to make it a priority to see Kait regularly too. I was going quite often when the baby was born and now the pendulum’s swung the opposite direction. I’d like to see her once every week or two.

I also want to get moving consistently. I don’t have to reach 10 thousand steps every day but I do need to get physical. It’ll help both my weight and my sleep.

My contemplative self wants a peaceful year. No worrying about trolls, whether they’re on Facebook or anywhere else. They can deal with their negativity on their own. And more connecting with my online friends. A message means so much more than a like.

The hardest one will be getting back into writing. I just don’t have the concentration I used to have. I read that writing in comic sans can help with concentration and creativity so that’s worth a shot. I can change the book back to garamond later.

This week will be spent converting our apartment back to it’s usual appearance. The tree will unravel back into plain green and the village will abandon it’s spot on the kitchen table. Soon they’ll all be tucked away in rubbermaid bins and moved into our storage unit. Recycling will be sorted and placed into the outside bins and our big garbage bag of gift wrap removed from our front hall. And, all the while, I’ll be ever so conscious of the new year looming ahead with it’s promise of a fresh start.

Hello 2019. I think I’m ready for you!

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Me at my parents’ house on Christmas evening

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The Countdown to Christmas…

20181220_082144I think Christmas, for me, started on Thursday with breakfast in bed from Colin. He knows I always have an english muffin with peanut butter and a mug of hot chocolate every morning so attempted just that. As he was walking into the room he said, “I’m sorry, I added too much margarine”. That might be the understatement of the year. Then he saw me looking at my hot chocolate and explained the beverage exploded in the microwave, which explained both the half empty cup and the bits of cocoa powder all over the mug. Breakfast was still good though and it’s not often I get it served in bed.

 

20181221_093339That day I bought myself a present of my own for Christmas. I’d seen it at Pier One and just had to have it. It’s the perfect reminder that I matter too and deserve to follow my dreams. It goes quite nicely with the wall art although if I’d known I was going to buy the metal word art I’d have put the sticker somewhere else.

I had my friends over yesterday for an afternoon of conversation, present opening, and Christmas Crack. Kait came over with the baby and we all got our chance to hold him. And, when he got a bit overwhelmed I managed to calm him down again with a lullaby and some rocking. I can’t share any pictures from the party because they all have the baby but I can share my present.

 

20181221_145910-1These slippers are just perfect for me. They’re mermaid sequins and are glittery silver when brushed the other way. Lara was quite interested but wandered away when she realized they a) weren’t doing anything and b) weren’t edible. They’re lined with fleece and are so comfortable.

After my guests left I went out with my Mom to finish up our grocery shopping. Now everything is full to the brim with food. Other than fruits and veggies I can’t see us needing to buy anything throughout January. Definitely a good way to start off the New Year!

20181222_154323Today was a quiet day. I talked to Kait for a while, which was nice and she shared some pictures of the baby via messenger. And I chatted with Colin while he worked on one of his computers. Then I wrapped the rest of the presents, with some help from the kittens, and called my girlfriend. That was a good conversation although it was pretty much my bedtime when we finished chatting. I wanted to write this blog too so I’ve swan dived over bedtime but I can sleep in tomorrow. The stocking stuffers are sorted out too for Christmas morning. I can’t believe it’s only two days away!

I’m looking so forward to Christmas! Colin and I are having a quiet Christmas Eve and then we’ve got Kait, her boyfriend, and the baby coming over for Christmas morning. And then we’re all going to my parents’ house for a big family dinner. I’m finding that the older I get, the more family means to me and I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

I hope you all have wonderful plans for the holiday, whether it’s with your birth family or chosen family. Merry Christmas!!!

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Happy little thoughts…

20181124_205307I went to my friends’ house on Sunday with Colin and, soon after we arrived, their brand new TV was delivered. Colin was such a huge help. The physical set up wasn’t that much of a problem, it was the programming that was the issue.

Colin patiently read through the instructions then showed my friends, step by step, how to operate their new TV. There were so many instructions and steps that I figure I’ll never own a TV again. I can download videos right to my phone or computer a whole lot easier! But he got it all working for them.

I have my first date on Sunday and we’ve been chatting back and forth. I think she’s even more nervous than I am, which is a feat. I’ve promised I’ll meet her right at the bus stop and she wants to go for a walk with me after lunch, even if it’s raining, which is fine by me. We’re going out for Indian food. Mmm… aloo gobi! I so hope this date goes well. I’m sure it will but am still nervous.

I’m looking at my cats sleeping peacefully around my room. I’m so glad I have them. They bring such joy into my life from how Lara runs screaming to meet me when I open the front door and how Blackie purrs and licks my nose when she’s getting petted. People talk about cats being cold and aloof but they’ve never met my cats.

I’ve been working really hard to lose weight for our trip to the Dominican Republic and so far I’ve lost 10 pounds. I still have three months to go so I’m sure I’ll lose a decent amount by then. I want my summer clothes to fit comfortably, especially my two new tops. I was going to share a picture of them but I already shared one a few posts down.

On Thursday I get to see Kait and her wee one. He’s growing and changing so much. Every time I see him he’s doing something new… from smiling to grasping items like his rattle. I’m looking forward to his happy smile when he sees me and having a face to face chat with Kait instead of just talking on the phone.

And on Saturday we’re having a family dinner at a Thai restaurant. They make the yummiest food. I love their tom yum soup and golden curry with rice. We’ve been going to this restaurant for about a decade now and haven’t got bored of it yet.

I’m really enjoying the new season of Doctor Who. The Doctor’s great and the stories are entertaining. That being said, I haven’t seen last week’s yet because Colin keeps stalling. If he stalls tomorrow I’m watching it on my own. It sounds nice to curl up on my swing chair and watch it on my phone.

Winter’s coming and they are forecasting a long, bitterly cold one so I’m going to start buying groceries that are easy to prepare for the days I’m weary plus a few frozen dishes for the days I just can’t find the strength to even boil rice. I can’t make winter go away but I can prepare for it. I don’t want to end up back in the hospital so I’m going to do what I can now to make sure winter is as easy as I can manage.

And now Colin’s wanting to chat before bed so it’s time for me to go.

Whispers of the past…

I was sitting in the van with Colin and my parents on the way to Bon Echo Provincial Park. It’s a place we’ve gone camping for decades now, a popular campground in Ontario. I was looking out the window, not really thinking of much, just noticing all the sights of nature as we whizzed past. Then I looked over and, for half a second, I expected to see heads with brown and black hair in the seats in front of me, instead of the grey I saw.

My parents’ camping days are numbered and their numbers are less than the fingers on my hand. I commented to my Mom about when we go camping next year but what I really meant was if.

It was really noticeable with my Dad this year. Would he be able to walk down to the deep beach this year? Should we take a van to the day beach? This is a man who was scouted for the Montreal Canadiens farm team, an opportunity he missed because he was out fighting forest fires in BC and no one knew where he was. A miss I’m grateful for because otherwise he wouldn’t have met my Mom and my sisters and I wouldn’t be here. A man who played “oldtimers hockey” and walked the track for exercise. A man who enjoyed getting into nature for a good walk. Now we’re worried if he can walk a few blocks.

My Mom commented sadly a few months ago that things just weren’t the same. When she was little (and when I was little for that matter) the dishes were ignored for a while and everyone sat and chatted. Now everyone finished, cleared their plates, got right into washing, and then went to do their own things, while my Mom and Dad sat at an empty table, a table that should have been filled with chatter. That one was easy at least. I messaged everyone and asked them to hold off on clearing the table to chat and, thankfully, it’s taken off and become something everyone enjoys. But there’s nothing I can do about age.

It’s seven and a half weeks until Kait has her baby, bumping me into the grandmother position and my parents into great grandparents. I wish my Nana could see this baby, when she was still strong and cheerful. She would have loved him so much (and equally loved knitting him little outfits). My Nanaimo Nana (great grandmother) would have loved him too. But I can’t dip into the past and bring them forth, they only exist in memories. There’s a chain of family connections and my parents are next on the list to get bumped off, then, eventually, it will be my turn.

I’m reasonably sure my grandfather had similar thoughts because he set out to write down the more memorable family stories that he remembered. I don’t think he got all of them because there’s been a few times I’ve mentioned a story he’d told me and got blank looks. Sometimes I think maybe I should write some family stories down too but I don’t know if anyone would be interested in the coming years.

But the past is the past. We honour them by remembering them and remembering their advice. Well except for my Nana’s advice to have me leave Kait in her carriage outside for a nap while I cleaned inside. That’s terrible advice when you’re in a third floor walkup in a not so good neighbourhood. But the good advice.

The future is coming, like it always does. Soon there’ll be a new grandchild and the beginning of a new generation. Soon there’ll be new ideas, dreams, and goals. And I hope my parents are there to see it unravel and to watch the little wee one grow big and strong.

Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary

Mom and Dad on their 50th wedding anniversary

The vegan police…

Back last fall, my Mom invited Colin and I over for a family dinner. I’d been vegan for three or four years (maybe five? I can’t remember) and Colin, at the time, had been vegan for about two years. My Mom goes out of her way to make sure we have vegan food. She buys Gardein products, vegan margarine, and sometimes even vegan ice cream. When we go there, we know I’ll have something to eat.

This time, for dessert, she made a rhubarb apple crisp and used vegan margarine in the oatmeal crumble so we could eat it. Then she proudly told me she bought us vegan whipped cream. She pulled it out of the fridge for me and it was Cool Whip. Cool Whip is not vegan. About halfway down their long list of ingredients is “whey”, a cheese making byproduct. I looked at her, looked at the container and thanked her. Both Colin and I took a large spoonful of Cool Whip and dug in. I even took it home with me because they’re not fond of sweets and wouldn’t use it. My Mom had gone out of her way to find Colin and I a treat and had missed one tiny word in a sea of incomprehensible words. I wasn’t going to disappoint her.

Recently someone in a vegan group was gifted “vegan” baked goods by a relative. One sticker showed egg whites and the other products were missing stickers. She was upset and her relative was upset. The baked goods, which were advertised as vegan, were expensive and she really wanted the cinnamon buns. The bakery claimed the label on the cupcakes was incorrect and they were indeed vegan. They did not explain the 33mg of cholesterol other than to say it wasn’t a lot. Vegan products have 0mg of cholesterol. My instant reaction was that they were a gift, they came from the heart, her relative had made a huge effort to find something vegan. Enjoy. I also shared my story with her. And there came one of the vegan police.

She hounded me in post after post, saying I was “just” plant based instead of vegan, as if that was an insult. That I was encouraging people to promote animal suffering and cruelty. She kept on posting while I continued to say that a) family is important and b) I’m still vegan. She was relentless, even following me to a different post to continue arguing. I ended up blocking her.

I logged on to Facebook this morning and someone asked if sugar is vegan, she’d only just learned about bone char. One person flounced from the group because the sugar question was being asked again. There’s 55 thousand members in this group, repeat questions are bound to come up. And, of course, the vegan police arrived, this time confusingly saying to “liberate your limbs from this white meth asap”. I’ll agree that sugar is overused, especially in packaged foods but meth? I have yet to see anyone on the street jonesing for their next sugar fix.

Then there was the time two of my friends started fighting on a post of mine. I can’t even remember what it was about, except my friend T was posting with the same view as mine and my friend E was posting against it, while wanting me to back her. They ended up on E’s Facebook page where T commented that one meal needed bacon. That is the most ridiculous of omnivore comments, one everyone uses if they can’t think up something original. That being said the comment didn’t warrant E’s reaction. T lives alone with two small kids. You can imagine the fear this comment generated.

scary messagesmallnoprofilePart of being vegan is supposed to be compassion for animals and the environment by avoiding all animal products as much as possible. I missed the part in the definition that said to be a total asshole to anyone who disagrees with you. No one should have their safety threatened over a bacon “joke”.

As for the vegan police, the world will go a lot more smoothly if you concentrated more on your plate and less on everyone else’s. If you have a burning need to help animals then go help animals. Volunteer at the local animal shelter, adopt a rescue animal… or two… or five. Volunteer at an animal sanctuary if you live close to one or donate if it’s not feasible. You’ll find a lot more people are willing to think about eating a plant based diet if you’re not screaming, “you’re eating the blood of the innocent” at them. Give it a try sometime.

 

 

Gratitude…

It’s dark outside, the snow still softly falling. I sit in my room, surrounded by sleeping cats, as my electric fireplace hums behind me. Dinner’s been eaten and the dishes, yet unwashed, will only take a few minutes to clean. Colin’s in his room, playing video games and laughing. In a few more hours we’ll be heading off to bed in our nice, safe apartment and clean, comfortable beds.

I wasn’t nearly so peaceful earlier. Colin had an optometrist appointment this morning and a mix up left me with a $105 bill. It turned out I didn’t need to pay it after all. Then there was an issue with the bank, which was solved in five minutes on the phone. Then Colin needed to go to the ER to get a new prescription because his old one was finished and his psychiatrist is away until July. That got sorted out as well. When I got home, I sat down wondering when the next shoe would drop and hoping it would be as easy to fix.

Then I woke my computer and listened to Colin laughing at a vlog, while my electric fireplace warmed my back. And I thought about gratitude.

We did an IQ test today, Colin and I, on separate computers. It was just for fun and obviously not on par with the ones done by psychologists, not that those are necessarily accurate either. We both started at the same time and kept pace with each other. I ended up with an IQ of 140, which is pretty much what I usually get and Colin ended up with an IQ of 120, definitely a respectable result.

I’m glad Colin’s out of the school system which labeled him developmentally delayed and in a program which lets him go at his own pace. A program he’s doing quite well at. He’s emotionally delayed, which is normal for autism, and has poor fine motor skills (anyone who’s seen his handwriting with agree with that) but he’s definitely not developmentally delayed. I can’t wait to see how he continues to do at his school.

I’m grateful for our safe, clean apartment in a decent neighbourhood. Our neighbours and quiet and generally friendly, holding open the elevator door and making small talk on our ways home. I’m grateful for the little things we take for granted here in Canada. The hot and cold running water, electric appliances, a flush toilet, grocery stores nearby.

I’m grateful for our health. I had a bit of a scare earlier this month when the optometrist sent me to a specialist to check for glaucoma but my eyes were fine and so are Colin’s and Kait’s. And our physical health is good too, for the most part.

I’m grateful for our cats, who fill the little spaces in our hearts. I wake in the middle of the night to find myself surrounded by four cozy cats keeping me warm, the fifth lies with Colin. They each have their own very distinct personalities and our home wouldn’t be the same without them.

I am thankful for my two daughters. Kait has my off beat sense of humour and it’s wonderful to watch her grow and thrive. Whereas Colin is more eccentric and runs experiments I would never think of. The two of them are more amazing than I could imagine and my life has been enriched by them.

And now it’s time to wash the dishes then settle into a warm bath with the bath bomb I made in my Wellness group. I hope you all have plenty of reasons to be thankful and may your joyous times outweigh any sadness.

The hard decision…

I was in the living room with Emma Colin yesterday, after taking our Christmas stuff down to storage, when he suddenly announced, “I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to transition or not but right now I’m leaning toward not.”

“Because you want to have kids?” I asked, even though I knew the answer. We’ve talked about it enough already and he’s been wavering on the border of transitioning or not for months now.

“Yes,” he replied. “It’s so hard to choose to transition and have kids. What if I decide I want to adopt and the agency doesn’t accept me?”

I had no answer for that. I have no idea what parameters adoption clinics have for their prospective clients. I made my kids at home, from scratch, for free. So I changed the topic slightly.

“If you decide you’re not going to transition, will you want me to stop calling you Emma and start calling you Colin again?”

He nodded then said, “It’s such a hard decision to make.”

“I bet it is,” I replied.

That’s something I never had to worry about. I’d just turned 25 years old when I had Kait and there was every expectation that if we did the deed enough (but not too much) a baby would ensue. I wasn’t worrying about infertility, sperm banks, or adoption… especially not at 20 years old. I tried to think of some way to support Colin, considering he wants both options, transitioning and a baby, pretty much equally.

“When I was trying to decide whether to leave your Dad or not, I thought a lot about if it would be fair to you and Kait. My thoughts ran round and around. Then I pictured Kait as an adult and in the same situation. Would I want her to stay or to go? The answer was unequivocally to go. Why would I treat myself worse than her? I too am someone else’s child. So you picture someone you love in your situation. And picture them struggling for an answer. The gender dysphoria isn’t going to get any better. Would you wish that on someone you love?”

“No,” he replied.

“So why would you wish it on you?”

“Because I really want kids,” he replied.

Which is where I bite my tongue. I know he wants kids but he doesn’t have them yet and I can’t bring myself to worry about kids who don’t exist. I care for and worry about him.

“I know,” I assured him. “Just remember this conversation and that if things get rough you always have more than one option.”

Later, after we’d eaten our fill of homemade tempura, I stood with Colin while he took his medicine and asked, “Do you want me to start calling you Colin now.”

He shook his head. “No, can you please keep calling me Emma?” he asked plaintively.

“Of course,” I replied. “I’ll call you that until you ask me not to.”

And now all I can do is hope that he finds an answer he can live with.