For Fuck-Sake Salad

We all need a loving kick in the pants sometimes. A little while ago there was a particularly difficult week concerning Ben. Eventually I just sent him down to Erin because I couldn’t deal anymore. He had not been helpful cleaning up the living room. I asked him to clean his room and when I checked on him he was playing. When I went back twice he was still playing. That was when I lost it, then he told me that I didn’t do anything and that he was “doing my dirty work.” Yeah I was done. 

Once those emotional hooks get in there is no room for patience or calm. It didn’t help that this week we had to reprimand him for rough-housing with the baby and making some very unsafe choices. We had a talk about thinking through things. Then Erin caught him taking a pair of gardening sheers to the hall carpet…yeah. It was consequence city.

After the “dirty work” day Erin sat me down and started a difficult conversation. She was actually making some helpful suggestions of things she used to try and keep her own household from overwhelming her. I just felt a lot of shame and frustration and came away feeling pretty shitty about myself. I didn’t sleep that night and it took some time to process, but in hindsight those helpful suggestions were just what I needed. 

Basically it amounted to, if there’s something you can do now and get it over with; Do it! That way when you come back to the kitchen or bathroom or pile of laundry you won’t feel shitty about the fact that it wasn’t done. Things like put the lid back on the peanut butter and put it into the cupboard, wash the dishes in the sink and make sure all the food is put away.  Erin’s golden moment was when she said something like, I’m not saying this because you did anything wrong, I am saying this because I want things to be easier for you. Then she smiled and yelled “for fuck-sake put yourself first!” 

So now when I think about the things I need to do, I think of them as an act of self-care, for fuck-sakes. I thought about it this morning as I was cleaning the kitchen and chopping some forgotten fruit. I was making a fruit salad to take care of myself and you can too. Try my recipe I will call this creation the….

For Fuck-Sake Fruit Salad

1 lime

1 orange

1 grapefruit 

1-2 Granny Smith apples

1 cup strawberries 

1 cup blueberries 

1 cup raspberries 

1 peach

Hand full of fresh basil leaves 

Squeeze the juice of two limes into a sealable bowl or Tupperware. Then slice orange and grapefruit and squeeze a little of the juice into the bowl. Cut out sections and add them. Slice Granny Smith apples and add with any fruit that happen to be hanging around. Add basil leaves, seal container and shake, shake señora! Refrigerate and toss before serving!

I particularly thought of myself as I washed the grapes and sliced them cleanly down the middle. I wasn’t going to but then I thought they look pretty and I’m doing this for me…for fuck-sake

And you know it, it feels good! 

Teamwork

When it comes to parenting Erin and I have learned there is a lot of guess-work and she is quick to say the challenges that she is now helping me puzzle through are going to be the same struggles she will have to work through with Junior. It makes me feel better that we are in this together.

She notices when I am shaking with rage and so lost in my own emotional reaction that I momentarily cannot function because Ben has been rude or thoughtless. I know when she calls because the baby has been up five times that night and she is walking into walls she is so exhausted, that she needs me to tag in.

We are a team, we are confidants and we saved each other’s bacon when we needed it most. I can honestly say God only knows what I would have done without her. I am thinking about this because Tess Kalinowski from The Toronto Star published an article on us about cohabitation and co-parenting; because we have to be strong allies when other people question our relationship from the outside and may not seen the intricacies and the intention with which we have build our unusual family; because my wedding anniversary is today and Erin knows how to hold space for my grief and my love for my lost partner.

It is a beautiful living thing that Erin and I have created that rises up to support us in our times of need. It is the continual tide pushed forward by honesty, commitment and respect. It is the container of joy that allows us to celebrate the courageous moments like when I sold my house, when Erin became a single mother, as well as the absolute silliness of enjoying time together. Just ask the melon ball that Erin launched across the table last night that landed exactly in the collar of Ben’s shirt.

I love my family. I love Ben, I love Junior and I love Erin. No matter what happens in the future, where we move, or when and if romantic partners come into our separate lives – WE are a TEAM. When I was widowed in 2012 I could not imagine having a partnership again, especially in such a unique way. So in the end this post is just about my heart, trying to understand that when something is ripped away from you, you get something back; a healing balm (or bomb) that offers you the opportunity to heal and live the life that you were meant to live.

Here is a link to the article in the Toronto Star! And Erin’s radio interview!

Time To Get a Watch!

To those who love and adore me it is no secret, I am not so good at minding the time. It was actually the bane of my late wife’s existence. I guess it doesn’t help that I didn’t have watch…until now. Then comes Christmas 2018 and Erin’s bid to try and keep Ben and I to a schedule. Erin is also a non-time-minder by her own admission, so it was an easier pill to swallow.

Erin was obliged to mind time for professional purposes, and now I don’t wonder why there is a clock in every room of her apartment…even the bathroom. To me this lends credence to the old adage “she can be taught.” Time management has changed in our co-habited house, not just because her gift to me was a Garmin watch, but also because it was her gift to Ben as well.

I have issues with my wrists so I’ve have never worn anything more than an ultra-light bracelet. Perhaps it was also my stubborn streak to avoid time minding… But now with this fancy watch that keeps me on schedule and counts my steps, time has become my friend!

As a family with Garmin watches we can participate in step challenges. With the kids watch Ben can earn “coins” towards rewards for chores on an app . Until he lost the watch and my mother and I spent three days after Christmas trying to help him find it… It eventually surfaced a few weeks later.

Erin and I designed a schedule for the mornings in 15 min increments which I can now monitor, and we have not been late this semester once!

Now I don’t have to be afraid that time has escaped me, I can just tip my wrist for an instant reminder. This allows me to relax during my daily activities. Since this little gadget is waterproof I don’t have to struggle minding the time for myself, even in the bathroom. So Erin as well as Kara was right, it was time to get a watch, and now there is someone on the other side of the pearly gates of heaven doing a happy dance! Love you babe, but don’t be so smug…lol.

Contest: Got Milk?

Hi All! Erin aka “The Milk Machine” here.

I was so incredibly lucky to have an ample supply of breast milk that I really wanted to give back. I know some women, including Kelly, have struggled to breastfeed and my heart really goes out to each of you! There is so much going on in those first few hours, days, weeks, months after you baby is born, and a lot of messages are given to new mothers about how to nurture this new little human (i.e. “breast is best”). So much pressure, plus whacky hormones and no sleep, all parents really deserve a medal!

I started freezing breastmilk in the first month and when a friend suggested that I could donate it, I jumped on the idea. The process to become a donor took me almost 5 months, with a few delays for doctors appointments, forms, and blood screening. They have to be strict, and even though it was a bit of a hassle I’m SO happy I did it. The nurses told me that my milk will be given to premies that weigh as little as 1 pound. Wow! I can’t even imagine what those parents go through. If I can make their lives even a tiny bit easier, that’s amazing!

Please check out the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank at Mount Sinai Hospital www.milkbankontario.ca to hear some inspiring stories! Be warned… there are tear jerkers!

How to Enter:

Using the photo above, guess the amount of frozen breast milk I donated. On Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter, tag a friend who you think would be interested in our podcast and enter your guess in the comments. You can enter as many times as you like, with unique tags and guesses. If you don’t have any of these social media accounts, no problem, enter through our blog contact page or comment below. Contest closes on March 1st, 2019!

Remember to listen to the bonus episode for an important hint!

Fashioning Families would like to thank our sponsors for our Got Milk contest! Check out their details below and all of the fun prizes to be won!

  • M Nails – 117 Danforth Ave. $25 gift certificate (aka free pedicure)

One gift certificate for a women’s cut and two certificates that can be used for either a men’s or a child’s or haircut. They run a queer positive space for all to enjoy!

Three pairs of Foot Traffic socks, two in sizes 10-1Y (ages 4-7) in “adorable hedgehog” and “yummy taco” patterns and one in size 12-5Y (ages 7 to 10) in a “pigs really do fly” pattern. They have nice flat seams for picky sock wearers and wash well.

Swimming With the Stars

Hi All, Kelly here,

There are benchmarks when you arrive at something and the situation suddenly feels more significant than the literal interpretation. Ever since those hours in swimming lessons Ben has become a diving, fluttering machine. So when we head down to Regent Park Community pool its a real treat. The water slide doesn’t hurt either. However this was not just any old buoyant family outing.

Erin healed up from from the cesarean business (feeling so much sympathy for that) and she wanted to take Junior swimming. It was a painful ordeal for Erin to abstain from the lake in August during our cottage trip, so she was raring to go. I was sure Junior would love it as he has a laugh and a half at bath time, creating a small tsunami in the baby tub.

At first he was not convinced about the cold air and the the loud echoing room, but as soon as he hit the water he pretty much lost his mind with excitement. As Ben dove for rings floating up and down like a wounded fish and Junior was splashing and swooshing, that is when Erin thought she recognized someone in the pool. She couldn’t place them at first until she, The Walking Dead fan, knew where she was from. Just like that we were swimming with the stars!

The beautiful actress in question was ogling Junior in his cuteness and we chatted with her while her family swam around us. Under her gaze I felt even more like a family unit. It was a peaceful feeling and everyone’s joy just accentuated that.

As Erin went to throw rings for Ben, I got Junior and we puttered around the pool, swishing his little legs in my current. Making faces and over exaggerated moves my little star fish rewarded me with the quintessential wide smile and infectious giggle. That’s when I felt it, my heart melted.

I know it was our intention to “fashion” our own family but suddenly, emotionally it felt like we actually had. I love Junior, he feels like mine just as Erin feels like Ben is hers. They are ours and being there together cemented a beautiful feeling between us. This is what our boys will know, two parent figures who love and support them, a wide community of family and friends and a home that feels…like home.

Now it’s you turn: so you tell us, we love stories at Fashioning Families. What have been your most memorable family times?

Ep 5: Self-Care

Ep 5: Self-Care is here. Erin is pregnant and finally looking like it!! Erin and Kelly, with a HUGE dose of humour, chat about self-care when dealing with physical and mental limitations. Spoiler alert, we have some graphic detail and hang on ’till the end for Kelly’s description of “the sausage.” Check it out!