Wednesday, November 6, 2013

6 years

My baby girl is 6 today and Scott has all the pictures so far on his phone. Not sure how we ended up without a camera and a disappointing collection of cell phone photos over the past six months. We'll fix that before Christmas comes, getting a new camera will be high on our list.

Books! Along with books which are always on my list. I'm reading whenever I get a chance with a dog curled up at my feet or beside me in front of our fireplace. I quit facebook and am watching much less tv. I'm reading Elizabeth Gilbert's novel right now The Signature of All Things, and am enjoying it, a chapter here and there interspersed with an essay from Ann Patchett's new book This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, she's always one of my very favourites. I loved LOVED The Good Lord Bird by James McBride and will be supporting it as a pick at the library in the upcoming weeks. Great read. I also would suggest Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment. Just in case you're looking for something great.

Birthday morning began here before 6am, she was up before the dog! I will get pictures up soon. She opened gifts of books, lego, stuffed animals (such a favourite for both kids right now), art supplies and the list goes on. She stops and reads each card word for word. She stops to draw a picture of herself (as a werewolf of course) with half the gift bags still to unwrap. Watching her draw gives me the same feeling I used to get when I'd watch Mister Dressup as a kid. Her patience and confidence amazes me. She wants to be a scientist she told me the other night. Or an artist, probably both. I bought her her first Ramona Quimby which does look a tad outdated (1968 pub date!!) but she'll devour it.

Books and family. The sum of my days. Running to get things done for them and sitting to read for me. My own written pages are also piling up, for myself, for now.

Good to be here.




Monday, August 26, 2013

England 1 and Things

Me peeking out of the phone booth.

We've been home since the beginning of the month, a month that has passed too quickly. It's hard to believe next week is back to school. But our trip was wonderful and I will write about it all and put up pictures soon. Every second was perfect, the weather, the time alone with Scott, watching Top Gear with tea and crisps and my family, a new book by JK, Cardiff and Doctor Who, seeing Martin Freeman (oh yes I did!), just being in the UK! Sadly, the day we were home Scott's back went out and we've yet to find it. Before, I'd spent the entire month of July sicker than I remember being in years and so besides summer with the kids which is one of my favourite times, the best of our summer was this trip.

Hey, the power just went out.

Something I'm ready to announce and talk about is the book I'm having a small story published in this fall called "Bare With Me". The book is an anthology of stories about breastfeeding, my tiny contribution is rather light-hearted, a specific moment I'm sure all nursing moms have experienced. I love writing those moments, tiny bits stolen and pinned down on the paper like a snapshot. The book is called Have Milk, Will Travel and was edited by Rachel Epp Buller. That would be enough wouldn't it, a first publication. However I get to be part of the Toronto launch for this book, a night sitting on a panel with Rachel, and writers Carrie Synder and Kerry Clare. I will read my piece and do a small talk and wear my amazing new boots and there will be people and wine and food. Scott is coming and we'll stay overnight in the city and make a bit of a fuss. It's a night that will let me dip a toe into the pond, or peek out of the phone booth.

Good, the power's back on.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Car Ride


Yesterday marked 12 years of being married for Scott and I, and we celebrated it with a family trip to the movies to see Despicable Me 2, take out Chinese on the way home, and matching antibiotics. Which, as my friend pointed out, is a lot better than matching track suits, which is probably true.

On the way to the movies, it poured rain. It was a quarter to three in the afternoon and it teemed. I pointed out that 12 years ago to the minute, I was getting out of a car, and running into a church to avoid been soaked by a very similar downpour. I remembered umbrellas held up as I dashed, well, as much as I could dash in high heels, the only ones I've ever worn. So it teemed and I tottled, but that's not the point.

We drove to the movies yesterday, loaded up with cough drops and two kids in the backseat, remembering the thunder during our wedding ceremony that made the small UofT church so cozy. We told the kids about how afterwards we walked out of the church into sunshine and bubbles and family and friends. That we enjoyed experiencing a little bit of everything that day.

By the time we got to the theatre, the rain was done and the kids may have stopped listening to us go on. But we were happy remembering, and giddy with feeling better and both of us agreed it was turning out to be a pretty great day.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Seriously

Tonight I'm hoping is the night to end the cold of all colds. I have been sick with a horrible cough for almost three weeks, so is Scott and now William. Finally doctor said today it's worse, no longer a virus and ergo, I get antibiotics! Yes, that makes me happy.

Also making me happy is that we leave for England in less than three weeks.

Happy is also the many wonderful books I'm reading right now (more Pym, Cassie Stocks, Lisa Moore, Kate Atkinson...) while having the kids home (albeit sick) and enjoying playing lots of board games.

And very happy today to receive the page proofs for my very first publication since being a student. I've written a short non fiction piece that is to published in an anthology later this month. I'm over the moon and for some reason doubting and overwhelmed at the same time. That's why I don't want to give away details just yet. The support and excitement I've received from friends is outstanding.

Now off for some show watching, something British, to put us in the mood for our trip. Train tickets are booked, as are hotels and a few events. If someone had told me a  year ago this was the summer I'd get to go back to the UK and be published, I don't think I would have believed them. Not sure if I do even now.

Also, tomorrow Scott and I have been married for twelve years and nothing, nothing beats that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

On Taking A Book for Granted

I admit to two things about my reading. I never reread books, and I read more slowly than I wish. I am sure they are connected. I read slow, there are so many books to devour, thus I have no time to reread anything, even my long deepest loves. Or so I have thought.

The looming end of school next week has got me running. So much to get done before kids are home. Finish the last draft for a new story, read and read some more. The books have been smaller, and they've been read more quickly. I've been proud of this, that my rate of devouring might just be getting better. Barbara Pym's 'Excellent Women' flew by in a few days, as did Ania Szado's 'Studio St Ex', and I loved it. The characters and images flashing across my eyes, their stories running forward and taking me with them. This was how I figured summer would be.

Until I met Anakana Schofield's 'Our Woman' and made the mistake of carrying on as I had been.

Schofield's novel, 'Malarky' does not run, nor does it scoop you up comfortably and carry you along with ease. It is a story that dips and turns and lets you feel you're on solid ground before spinning back on itself, leaving the floor to drop out from beneath your feet. It's not easy and it's beautiful. The main character, middle-aged 'Our Woman' is trying to figure things out, as much as the reader is, providing what may or may not have brought her to the place she is at the end of the novel; her furious love for a son whom she finds doing unspeakable things in the barn with another man, her almost 'coming of age' affair with a man after discovering her husband has been up to unspeakable things of his own. She is learning about grief and not pushing it away while at the same time trying to hold on to something. To do so, her path is anything but linear, like Schofield's writing of this novel- in-episodes, and it should have slowed me down.

I finished this book wondering, knowing, I would read again and this made me take great attention to Lisa Moore's guest post on the Anansi website this week about rereading books and why it may be important, despite the desire to gobble up more and more of what else is out there. Moore writes that "this may be a lesson, concerning the desire to know a whole story without allowing the proper passage of time to absorb it into the bloodstream." And for me, by reading 'Malarky' as quickly as I did, the time I may have saved wasn't worth it. I should have expected more of this book from the start and of myself. I should have taken the extra bath, stayed awake a little later at night, let the kids play on the Lego website a little longer.  So I'm going back to my slower reading for the summer, will not worry about keeping a tally of the books I've read by the end of August because if I've visited and revisited characters like 'Our Woman' and even if the weeds in my garden are embarrassingly tall, I'll be all the better for it.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A thought and a wonderful line

I just realized that next month I get to wake up in the UK eight times.

"I've learned to act rather than wonder."  Anakana Schofield, 'Malarky'.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy and Good

Things are good around here, great really. Lots to be happy about.

William turned eight!







He had a party, friends over for Lego and games and cakes. He was thrilled, day deemed 'best day ever - EPIC!" We let him choose dinner, take-out burgers and fries and ice cream and cupcakes all while watching Batman Lego movie. Dog was sick and let us eat on the couch in peace. William's big now, 8 is big! He's almost finished reading a book without pictures and over three hundred pages and I must contain my excitement for fear of scaring him off and sending him back to the world of comic books forever.

Other good things now.


Sunday morning walks. Grab some breakfast and go to the park or somewhere new.


Stopping to watch a minor league baseball game. William thinks he'd like to play.


 Coming home and making mudpies and grass salads for dinner.


Finding these in our vegetable garden.


Making myself more bunting for my office while Scott bbq's dinner.


Warm enough for pjs in the backyard for Bingo's last outing of the day. Out in a garden that's been attended to and loved.

**And things to look forward too.

Excellent books lined up to read, including newly discovered Barbara Pym.

Trip to England at the end of July!

My first publication this summer! Don't want to say anything else yet except that it's an essay in a lovely collection of women's writing.

(I just erased four exclamation marks, they were making me tired.)


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Still here!


Hello! I'm still here. Whenever I've had the chance however, I've been writing, working on one story in particular. And besides, it's May, birthday month around here. I turned another year old (a number I'm rather enjoying) and William turned 8.

I will write more soon, but today is rainy and grey and started not on the best footing. But I'm home for a little while more before leaving for work, with some tea and "Excellent Women" by Barbara Pym which could not be more perfect for today. That and I have Lisa Moore's "Caught" (which I got for my birthday) waiting in the wings.

 (Just after his birthday. 8 feels so big but in this picture his face and mouth remind me of his baby days.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eggheads

 We went to see Mary Poppins.
 She won a colouring contest.
 We decorated eggs.
 More eggs.
 Became eggs.
Loved eggs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

She won!!


I Did Have a Title


While on my walk yesterday with our dog, I was thinking about this colouring contest the kids entered at Zehrs and the picture Scott took of us this morning when we went to see their pages up on the wall, and the great title I would come up with. And I did, come up with a great title, that I have since forgotten.

I could call it Jolly Holiday though! This afternoon, we're picking the kids up at school early and taking them to see Mary Poppins. But shhh! The kids don't know!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hair cuts and hanging out

Not much is new. Trying to get as much time together as possible, looking forward to Scott's teaching nights being over until the fall. This weekend, after weeks of Rose begging for a haircut, she got one, telling the haircutter, "I want it short and messy."
Scott and I had Indian food Friday to celebrate 15 years since we started dating. The kids asked for subs, their first, instead. It felt like spring and we were happy so we gave in.
William is happy with the dog and his books these days.
Rose reading also, a side profile of new hair.

(Short post because Mommy is tired after being up since 5:45 this morning. She, unlike William, is not always so happy with the dog but a book and mini eggs usually help.)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Up, Up and Away




Long day, very tired. About to go to bed. But really wanted to post these pictures. Best part of my day was snow this morning that kept a silly grin on my face. Especially when I took Bingo outside to play after kids were at school and we found this orange birthday balloon in our backyard, there were two others in our neighbour's. We had fun, dog and I, as you can see. Click on the pictures to see more.

Other things being thought about, ideas for other posts for other days. But for tonight, this is enough. 

ps - Yes, the balloon was popped.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What are you Reading?



Off in a few minutes to pick up one child from school, other is going to a friend's house for dinner. I'll be back home with first child where Scott has been working all day with me. I'll eat a quick dinner, say goodbye to child and Scott and head off for a three and a half hour shift at work.

When I come home, I'll kiss sleeping children, missing the one I didn't really get to see today and hope she had a good playdate, I'm sure to hear about it from Scott. He and I will catch up, play with dog and most likely settle in with our books before falling asleep.

I'll be reading "The Blondes" by Emily Schultz, it's the kind of book you want to have a snow day for.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Simply Reading

This is in no way me taking an opportunity to brag. Although, looking at that picture, she is pretty awesome.

I've just finished reading this blog post and it's left me feeling grateful and just very full. Rose loves to read. William does too, but very much for the purpose of gaining information, it's more of a practical act for him, and he is very selective. A friend recently told me that she said to him, 'You're so lucky to have your mom working at the library! She must bring you home great stuff!" To which he replied, "My mom doesn't know what I like to read." While that's not quite true, I don't get as excited about picking through comic books and lego manuals as I do a good story. I can grab anything, any topic right now and Rose will devour it the minute it hits her hands. Snakes, fairies, firefighters (she wants to be one when she grows up), baby mammals, Fancy Nancy, weather, anything and she reads it and reads it well. Just for the simple act and love of reading.

So when I read the post mentioned above, of course I thought about how Rose reads quite often now without me and how we too are moving away from those times spent cuddling and reading. But at the same time, we're in that safe zone where if I pick up any picture book, both kids will usually end up gravitating towards me and snuggling in. While I love the thought of Rose pouring over Harry and Anne and everything else on her own one day (and I'm sure William will as well), the post made me realize how quickly that time will come when they don't need me for reading anymore and that maybe I should bring home more books from work right now, sit down and pull them in, instead of using that time for something else. More living in the moment and reading. I do that with myself too. I complain about not having the time to read but when I think of the time I waste instead of just picking up my book. That was a long way of saying, family reading time is not over yet nor need it be for a long time and I should enjoy every minute of it while I can.

A cute side note from work last night. I loved hearing a little boy with a slight lisp getting excited about our display of Blue's Clues books which does not display a blue cartoon dog, but rather the Blue Spruce and other Forest of Readings nominations for this year. (Our favourite is Splinters by Kevin Sylvester, so great) It doesn't get much better than seeing kids excited about books, and sharing it with them makes it all the better. And I get to do it at home and at work.

Insert happy sigh....now.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wet

I'm wet after walking the dog this morning. Anyone who has left the house today won't be surprised. Last night, we were driving home after spending a wonderful Family Day with my grandparents in Whitby, and we were listening to what we always listen to in the car, the Vinyl Cafe. Scott and I have been listening to this CBC radio show for more than ten years having discovered it as a very young couple in Toronto. It made the big city feel small, a home for us. (I won't tell you about the time I came out of a hair dresser, with soaked hair because it was raining so why bother drying it and ran in the author, Stuart McLean. I won't tell you how excited I was, that I ran after him for half a block with Scott trailing behind me, until I caught up to him and probably didn't have much to say but rather stood there beaming. So don't ask.) I love how much the kids enjoy the stories now, especially William who laughs sometimes until he cries. Last night's story, Tobogganing, had a line in it that came back to me this morning. In the story, Stuart tells how beautiful the snow was one evening, coming down soft, the 'kind of snow that makes you stick out your tongue, rather than slouch deep into your coat', or something of the sort. This morning, when taking Bingo out, it wasn't a tongue-sticking out kind of snow, but a definite hide in your coat kind, but remembering the line made it easier to bare.





And that brings us to Family Day '13. We had a great time! Went to Nana and Boppa's still-newish place, tons of activities for the kids including an indoor zoo with enough bugs and snakes to keep our favourite entomologist Rose happy who as you can see, stood with a python wrapped around her neck and managed to find a Chilean Rose tarantula. Kids had cotton candy and popcorn, adults enjoyed tea and treats from the bake sale. It was just one of those perfect days, the kind that glows and keeps you warm the morning after when your boot leaks and your daughter loses her shoes at school.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Day Bingo Pulled Me Down

Here's a treat from guest blogger William.

Today I took my dog, Bingo, for a pee and the second I got outside she just started going crazy!! And she started pulling the leash and she pulled me over in the snow, I fell and she dragged me. I couldn't take her strength and I let go so she started going crazy in the yard running all over the place. We had to wait for her to calm down and Daddy got her. This is a picture of my boot in the snow where it fell off and this is why I am never going to take the dog for a pee, in the snow again.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't Miss It!





Last night I was having a hot bath to try to unclog my head, it worked. I've had a cold the past few days, missed work once to avoid sneezing on books, and still feel ick today. But! When I got out of the bath the kids and Scott were listening to Bach on the computer, watching videos that showed the music notes dancing and moving as the music played. I joined Scott at the kitchen table to read the paper while the music kept playing. Enough time passed that suddenly I realized I hadn't been listening, hadn't heard a bit of it. I'd been reading and thinking and probably worrying about something. On my walk this morning with the dog, I realized I've spent a lot of time this month doing that. Walks without seeing the sun on the snow, or kids telling stories but not listening quite enough. Getting wrapped up in things that were making me grumpy or generally feeling down (it is February) but missing out on so much. Such as, I feel sick and I'm cold and have to be out with the dog but......the snow is falling perfectly around us and this walk will help dog to rest for awhile while I get to write.

Other very good things.
-Scott and kids proved there was time for sugar valentine cookies by surprsing me with them Wednesday morning. They'd made them when I was at work.
-Downton! We bought season 3 from itunes and finished it last night! So I know things you don't! It's been a fun treat after kids go to bed, with dog sleeping beside the couch or in front of the fire
-My writing, just need to do more
-Teaching dog tricks, she can put some toys away now in her basket (when she isn't eating the basket)
-Beautiful scenery outside my very own windows, how did I get so lucky!?
-Early swimming lessons for kids Saturday mornings followed up with a trip to Vincenzo's for weekend snacks (PUC chocolate orange cheese is the best!!)
-Grade 2's put on a french play this morning, which we went to and smuggled Rose out of kindergarten for a half hour to enjoy with us. William was a very cute petit chien, it was amazing hearing the kids speaking their line in french.
-My job, working nights now makes me feel a little distant from it but I love the people I work with, the community, the books!
-Blogging more, I've missed it

Things to look forward to
-First telephone conference with Elizabeth R at the end of the month about a story
-Visiting my grandparents for Family Day. Lots happening for kids where they live now.
-Overnight trip away with Aunt B to celebrate her birthday.
-Birthdays to celebrate, dinners out to celebrate, gifts to prepare!

And this summer....ENGLAND!! Scott is presenting a paper at a conference in Manchester, my wonderful mother and father in-law are taking the kids and dog for a week and I'm going with!

So yes. My throat hurts, I'm tired and coughing but things are pretty good :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Decided


There is something fun to write about and tell. It's the beginning of something new for me. When I went to the TNQ Wild Writers Festival a few months back, I was taken by what writer Miranda Hill had to say on the topic of mothering and writing. In short, she said go for it. She talked about how there came a moment when her children were getting older and she thought either I do it now or the time will pass. And she did and out of that decision came a wonderful collection of stories entitled, Sleeping Funny, which I'm reading and loving now.


Coming from that day, feeling inspired and ready to go for it, I didn't. We got a puppy instead. But now that puppy is beginning to settle (a little despite being spayed last week) and I decided I needed to go for it in way of asking for help. I didn't want to do this alone anymore and by this I mean writing story after story, only to leave it without much editing and go on to the next idea. I wanted to feel like a writer and get something done.

I thought back to the last time I could really say I felt like a writer and it was before I had the kids, when we still lived in Toronto. I was teaching 6/7 and taking a short story writing class at George Brown taught by amazing author Elizabeth Ruth. Those months I was up by six at the latest each morning and writing until the last minute when I had to run off to teach. They were good times. From it, a writing group was born and continued for years until we moved back to Waterloo. So I went to her, before Christmas, and asked if she would be willing to start again with me and my writing, in the form of a mentorship and she said yes! It began this month in a quiet way of sending her some of my pages followed up with a phone call at the end of each month. We can change things as we go, we have agreed, if need be.

I didn't know if I wanted to blog about this news, feeling the need to protect this new endeavor as well as the stories and words I'm getting out there. I'm finding timing tricky, hard to write at home with the dog (she has peanut butter now), I've been sneaking away in the morning to a nearby coffee shop to write after I take the kids to school to escape the pup. But I do miss my cozy office. I've also agreed to more volunteering at the school which I love, but it eats up time. My work at the library is mostly only one afternoon and two evenings, so I couldn't ask for a better schedule there. The house is messy and not much extra is being baked or made, no sugar valentine cookies this year. But I think this is the decision I'm making, and everyone under my roof (ok, maybe not the dog) is all for it, amazingly and wonderfully so.

There are still things to decide. Do I write new things or rework old stories I've loved and put away? But I do know that a morning here and there is not enough and writing at coffee shops isn't free. I'll work it out, February is a rough month for resolutions, but what I've worked and made happen so far and what could come out of this, will be very worth it, possibly like nothing else.

<><



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Morning or How long will it Last?







Dog has since run for cover in her crate as kids have begun rolling around the floor in the sleeping bags. It's either that or a very whiny Rosie, for some reason this morning nothing seems to be going her way and that smile above has long disappeared.
Beautiful sun, a potential trip to Value Village this afternoon to play, and good recipes lined up for the week.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Looking good Big Nose



Things now. Best day ever, I'm being told, for both kids tomorrow at school due to entire class good behaviour. There will be pjs, stuffies, movies, popcorn and cookies.