Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For the love of it

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Last Wednesday evening, our backyard was transformed into a mini-studio: the lights you see above, plus one of those big umbrella-looking things (also a light), and a heavy-duty insanely expensive camera that, honestly, I couldn't even covet after I heard how much it cost. That'll never be mine. It would have been fun to take a self-portrait of the portrait being taken, but in all honesty, I was a little embarrassed by my rinky-dink setup. Besides, I was supposed to be posing, looking contemplative and intelligent in my black sweater, not running around trying to take photos.

I'd been invited to be a subject for Jonathan Bielaski, a local photographer who works for Maple Leaf Entertainment, among other clients -- yes, he photographs sports stars. But he started a side project this past year called "For the Love of It," where he takes portraits of people who love what they do.

I hope you'll browse around his blog. He's found some very interesting people. Maybe you do what you love and love what you do, too? Let me know, and I'll let him know. He's always interested in finding new subjects.

(Come to think of it, this project fits well with my words of the year: work/play. This summer, it's felt like I'm getting closer to achieving a sense of both in my daily life.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

And then there were ... eight?!

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Well, what do you think of these girls?

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We think they're awfully sweet, and can imagine them fitting right in with our crew. They're not ours yet, as there is still an adoption process to go through, and after that a trial period, but we're hoping to have them here within the next week (or so).

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AppleApple was particularly crushed that we couldn't keep them after their visit yesterday, but they need to be vetted, and we really weren't entirely prepared. In fact, Kevin is working right now to fix our gates, which have fairly wide openings underneath. The girls have an adventuring streak and they're really quick tiny.

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DJ is a spaniel cross, and Suzi appears to be part Jack Russell terrier and part chihuahua (those ears!). They're middle-aged, and have been together for a long time, which is why they're being adopted together. Old friends.

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Our other weekend activity is WATCHING THE OLYMPICS! Anyone else out there insatiable Olympics fans? We are! Also enjoyable is hearing the kids imagine which Olympic events they'd like to compete in. Fooey and CJ are keen on gymnastics (although Fooey wasn't sure she'd like doing it in front of so many people; "I'll just cheer you on, Mama!"). AppleApple, of course, is planning to play for Canada's women's soccer team. (Albus appears not to harbour Olympic ambitions.)

I especially enjoyed seeing the Canadian women's soccer team in action yesterday against South Africa. Somehow, I was able to write at the same time (whether or not it's my best work is, however, debatable.) This evening, I'm playing a soccer game, and I found myself irresistably drawn to the commentating voice. "The Kickers are going in as the underdogs in this match and unfortunately they'll be missing their strongest player today, but if the team can keep their focus and hold it together, they might just hang on and keep their position in the standings." (Which is, um, last, so that shouldn't prove too trying a task).

Kevin coached Albus's team to a fifth place finish (of twelve teams) in their tournament this weekend. This was unexpected given that the team had only won twice all season. They were a bunch of average-skilled kids, with a few who hadn't played before, and they were hampered by team members who failed to show up all season too, and often had to play games with no subs. (Sometimes, in house league, I suspect parents sign their kids up, but the kids themselves aren't that interested.) The good news is that the core group really learned how to work as a team. We were very proud of their effort and finish at the end.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer hodgepodge

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summer haircut

I've been quiet here. Blame summer. Our days are feeling lazy and hazy and kind of effortless, even though it's also busy. Swim lessons have occupied our mornings for these past two weeks. Tomorrow's the last day, which feels bittersweet. The kids will be happy to be done, but I'll miss the routine, and the feeling that we're soaking up summer.

In other news, I almost hesitate to say it, in case it falls through, but we may soon have a real family pet (and not just an ant farm--which the children made yesterday with their very creative babysitter). I won't say more ... yet. But excitement is high, and I include the parents in that too.

On yet another note, one small soccer observation. I've figured out that there's one really simple way to be part of a team: show up. I've noticed that as the season has gone on, I've gained affection for those teammates who arrive every week, ready to try their hardest, regardless of skill level. That said, I'm hoping to continue to improve my skills, even while I recognize more and more what my weaknesses are (that's a good thing, right? I mean recognizing weaknesses?). I'm considering looking to play indoor this winter. I hate getting beat up on the field, but I actually love the game itself; so the game is winning out, at least so far. I want to play it, I enjoy playing it, I enjoy talking strategy after the game, and I enjoy visualizing how I can get better at it.

Finally, I participated in a project this week called For the Love of It. I'll let you know when it's up, with more behind-the-scenes info then. (I've gotten used to being on the other side of the camera/questions, so this felt a little strange.)

And now, I'm off to write -- fiction. Which you know I'm doing for the love of it. And that's a pretty awesome reason to do anything (see all of the above).

Monday, July 23, 2012

On learning something new

learning to ride a bike

This was our project yesterday.

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Problem is, he's very attached to this bike, the balance bike that was supposed to make the transition to big-boy bike painless and training-wheel-free. (I know it's worked for many others.) So far, it hasn't worked for us.

too big for this bike

Just getting CJ to try his new big-boy bike (yes, it's a hand-me-down from his sisters) took a lot of creative effort on the part of the other kids. Here was one attempt by Albus: look, how fast you'll be able to go!

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CJ's response. But we coaxed him on. He's now working the pedals, but isn't keen on us letting go. It's a slow process.

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And he loves this old balance bike ... Gotta admit, it looks pretty cool.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Catching happiness

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lettuce flowers (yes, really, that's what they are)

I was in Waterloo Park yesterday evening, finishing off a hard run. When running, I find that I disappear a bit, and my focus changes. In some ways, the tiniest details sharpen, in other ways, much sensory information blurs. But I often catch some small moment in passing, and it seems to flare more brightly than it could if I were walking or standing still.

Yesterday evening, as I ran up a big hill, trying to push the pace and push myself, I saw a family gathered below, sitting in four lawn chairs in the middle of a wide open grassy space. I wondered what they were doing, sitting all in a row, looking up the hill. And then I saw a mother and daughter walking down the hill. My trajectory would take me directly in between the two small groups of people.

Then the people in the lawn chairs saw the mother and daughter too. Someone called something out, which I didn't catch. The daughter, who looked to be a younger teenager, waved and cried, "Happy birthday!" and I saw that another younger teenaged girl was running up the hill from the row of lawn chairs. The other girl started running downhill, and the two friends met giddily in the middle of the field, and hugged and jumped around with obvious delight to be together on what was clearly a special day -- a birthday -- for one of them.

I ran past the mother, and we exchanged broad smiles. I kept running and didn't look back.

The whole scene occupied no more than ten to twenty seconds.

What struck me, instantly, was the joy it had given me to be witness to such a happy moment. How often do we see other people in their moments of unguarded, totally free happiness? Usually we see people when they are occupied with something else, distracted, on their way somewhere, busy, or idle; moments of spontaneous joy, well, they're rare.

I'm going to keep looking for them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer

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The heat has stopped my brain from working.

It's wow heat. Heat that remains present at 8pm on the soccer fields. Heat that keeps a body up at night. Heat that hollers HOLIDAY!

I had no babysitting today and it was a treat. What could I have accomplished anyway? I'm filled with lassitude.

I am thankful for fans, cold water, ice cubes, swim lessons, and a vehicle available to take us to places like the mall. Seriously. We went to the mall today and wandered around in the cool air and forgot how hot it really was, at least briefly. Then we went to the library (also air conditioned). Now the kids are vegging with a movie.

And I'm discovering that my brain is not working at peak capacity. So this is all I will post for now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The week in suppers, sort of

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I've been making some really good summer meals -- sometimes. Sometimes the creativity fails, and I throw hot dogs on the barbeque. Here are a few memorable meals from the last two weeks (since I missed posting last week.)

**Last Thursday's menu** Quinoa salad with black beans. Gazpacho.
**Keepin' it cool** The kids requested something cold. I mentioned that certain soups are served cold and all were intrigued. I could not find a recipe for gazpacho, so I winged it. Pureed chopped tomato, cucumber, garlic, green pepper, and a handful of stale bread bits with 6-8 cups of water (can't remember). Added salt, pepper to taste, plus a good slug of vinegar, and a sprinkle of oregano. Albus was a huge fan. Meanwhile, I steamed the quinoa, and chopped similar veggies, and tossed a lemon dressing together in a large bowl, to which I added the cooked quinoa and a cup or two of cooked, leftover black beans. Did not add feta (kids don't like feta). Did add huge bunch of chopped basil picked fresh from backyard.
**Success!**

**Last Friday's menu** Gallo pinto picnic (beans fried with rice).
**Not entirely sure I'd recommend this, but ...** AppleApple was playing an extra soccer game, fairly early, a week ago Friday. There wasn't time to eat supper before leaving, which I only realized while in the process of whipping up the gallo pinto. So I packed it into a large bowl and added extras to the picnic basket: grated cheese, grape tomatoes, tortilla chips, salsa. Add plates and cutlery, and fruit for desssert, and it all worked out. Yes, we looked a little odd eating our supper by the field. But at least there was a picnic table.

**Monday's menu** Tomato sauce tossed with pasta. Green salad with maple dressing.
**Cooked by AppleApple!** She made this meal essentially by herself. She followed a recipe for the sauce, which did come within a hair of burning to the bottom of the pot, but was rescued just in time. Still, we only had about half the amount of sauce I usually make; this inspired us to toss it with the hot pasta. She also made the salad dressing herself. It's so easy to make homemade salad dressing in a small glass jar with a lid! (A bit of oil, a bit of vinegar or the juice of a lemon, maple syrup, dijon, salt and pepper. Shake. Pour. Toss. Done.)
**Miracles do happen** CJ and Fooey ate the pasta covered with sauce. If the sauce is separated out, they refuse it. They didn't even question eating this meal, and requested seconds. I think we have a winning recipe here -- fewer options are sometimes better.

**Tuesday's menu** Quinoa salad. Sausages on grill.
**Sausage splits** To economize, and because I don't think we need to be eating that much meat, I grilled three sausages, split them in half and lengthwise, and served them already in buns, one bun each. It turned out not to be enough to satisfy big kid appetites, at which point I forced the quinoa salad on them, at which point we discovered the quinoa wasn't as good this time round (even I had to admit it). At which point, Kevin finally arrived home from Toronto just in time for all of us to leave for soccer. He took his sausage to go.

**Wednesday's menu** Gado gado: an Indonesian feast!
**What was I thinking** So ... Kevin was working late in Toronto, and the two big kids had invited friends for a sleepover. Naturally, I decided to emerge from my office goggle-eyed and semi-present and whip up an elaborate Indonesian feast. Right?! That is exactly what happened. Of course, in some senses it's really easy food to make. In others, it's time-consuming, takes a ton of chopping, and uses lots of dishes. However, it all worked out because Kevin arrived home just as I was placing food on the table. We all ate together. The tofu was not popular with the children who were not mine; but otherwise, this meal was a hit.
**Gado gado, what is it?** Gado gado goes like this. A heap of yellow rice (1/2 tsp turmeric flavours two cups of uncooked rice) served upon a bed of spinach. I arranged halved hard-cooked eggs around the side, one half for each of us. Toppings can then be added, as desired. I offered: steamed broccoli, fried onions with zucchini, fried tofu cubes, crushed peanuts, unsweetened coconut, and hot pepper flakes. Once a plate has been made, a lovely peanut sauce is poured over top. I will say this: it was phenomenally good. I will serve it again, perhaps at the next big family gathering. Other topping options include finely chopped cabbage, banana slices, or other fruit. Flexible! Delicious! Vegan!

**Thursday's menu** Hot dogs on grill.
**Sigh** It was all I could manage. In fact, I barely managed it.

**Friday's menu** Lonely grilled bun with cheese and garlic. Plus fruit.
**Context** The kids were spending the night at my mom's. We had a Bailey's pickup (so much fruit! Cherries, peaches, plums, and blueberries!!) There was a stale bun on the counter. Kevin had to take Fooey to a soccer game. I ate alone, reeking of garlic. It wasn't half bad.

**Saturday's menu** Noodles in peanut sauce. Chopped napa and fennel and radish. Cupcakes and plum cake for dessert.
**Ho-hum** The peanut sauce was bland. I used actual peanuts, as we'd run out of peanut butter. It was made with coconut milk and curry. It needed more curry, more salt, and more peanuts.
**Dessert** If there's dessert on the menu, you know something's up. Yes, we had guests, and one arrived with yummy cupcakes and plum cake from a new bakery across from the Kitchener market called, I think, The Yeti. Correct me if I'm wrong ...

**Sunday's menu** Pizza from Pepi's.
**The start of a tradition?** This Sunday and last Sunday everyone came along to my soccer game, which is usually scheduled for Sunday afternoon/evening. Both games involved travel, and by the time they'd ended, we knew everyone would be hot, tired, and hungry. So last Sunday, we offered pizza as a reward for 90 minutes of Mom-playing-soccer. Honestly, it was a reward for everyone. Pepi's makes great pizza (downtown Kitchener). We order one Hawaiian, one vegetarian with tons of green olives. It makes for a happy supper, few dishes, and a good end to the weekend. Plus I really like having everyone come to my games. Even if they have to watch their mother get slide-tackled/clotheslined/or otherwise badly fouled at least once a match. Apparently this is how (some) grown women play recreational soccer?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A quiet little Sunday

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roller blading, before and after

Hot, quiet, humid. That's our Sunday. Looked like rain. Did not rain. One soccer game still on the menu (mine). Though need bread, have not baked bread; see hot, humid. Can't bear the thought of turning on the oven.

Today, I've spent several hours getting to know my new photo editing software. View experiments above.

Also wrote a new short story this weekend -- fiction!!! My first attempt since writing the last of The Juliet Stories (which, a very few of you may be interested in knowing, was "She Will Leave a Mark" from the first section.) It felt like breathing or something. Essential, natural.

Oh, and I have to post a link to this truly amazing review, by a book blogger called Buried in Print. Quite enough to swell the head, methinks, so I'll only read it once.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Now in season: summer

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All week, every day, I've gotten to do something seasonal: swim laps in an outdoor pool. Slathered in sunscreen, I've slipped into clear chlorinated water, and front-crawled back and forth along the 50m lanes for an hour. Swimming at noonish, I can see my shadow on the shimmering pool bottom, my arms reaching out overhead. The light on the bottom of the pool is beautiful to watch. It almost feels like I could swim forever.

With luck, I'll get to swim most days for the next two weeks, while all the kids are taking lessons; I'll be limited to half hour swims, due to scheduling, but half an hour a day is better than not swimming at all. Like Kevin said, lane swimming outdoors feels kind of like eating strawberries and asparagus in season -- you have to get it while you can, and get as much as you can.

AppleApple expressed happiness about her relatively unstructured summer. I know there's debate about sending kids to school year-round, but here in Canada, that makes no sense to me. Summer is barely here before it's gone. Imagine kids being in school right now -- indoors! -- while there are raspberries to pick, and outdoor pools to swim in, and long late evenings to stay outside kicking a soccer ball around. For them, and for us, we need to grab what we can of summer, soak it up, go all out.

It's like storing solar energy -- heat for the long dark winter.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On why I'm wearing a bikini to the pool

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this is not a picture of me in my bikini

Agh! I want to blog! But I have about six minutes remaining in my work day. I can't quite describe how busy it's been, nor how lovely, too. We're a week and a half into summer holidays, and we've hit a nice groove this week. I've got great daytime babysitting arranged. The kids are getting outside often, and doing fun projects with their sitters like cooking and making paper airplanes and blowing bubbles. Today, Albus went swimming in a friend's backyard. AppleApple's been going to daily swim lessons at a beautiful outdoor 50m pool, and I've gotten to bike her there all week -- and then lane swim during her lesson.

Which leads me to the bikini. Today, I went for my lane swim in a new sporty bikini. It's small. It exposes my mother-of-four stomach. And I love wearing it. Why? It expresses confidence. It's a semiotic for where I'm at. I exercise regularly, not because I want to look good, but because it makes me feel good. And I do feel good in this body. Wrinkles, stretch marks -- yup. Got 'em. Muscles -- yup. Got 'em too. So be it. I am thirty-seven years old.

Occasionally, I find myself regretting that I didn't discover my latent athletic self earlier. But you know, mostly I'm simply grateful to have discovered that part of myself, period. Regret of this sort is foolish. So I didn't play soccer as a kid. I'm playing it now and learning new skills. So it took me thirty-five years before I learned how to swim. I learned and I love swimming! That's the point, not that I've missed opportunities along the way.

I've decided that this is my opportunity to wear a bikini. Never thought it would happen again. Glad the moment has come.

If there's something you want to do, or wish you'd done years ago, can you do it now? Maybe. Just maybe. Consider it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

On sharing the household labour

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still lots of time for play

The house smells wonderful right now, and the cause is not my cooking -- it's AppleApple's! She is making Italian-style tomato sauce to serve over pasta for supper tonight. Why? I think there are a few factors at play here.

1.  I'm giving the kids more room to experiment, and more responsibility with chores around the house. I have a controlling type-A personality. I like my laundry hung just so. I like my cooking done just so. And my kitchen has been my kitchen up til now. You know what I mean. But the kids are getting plenty old enough to learn how to cook for themselves, and care for themselves. I need to let them do that.

2. The kids are at home for the summer. They are on hand. They are looking for things to do. And when they're asking can I make lunch? I'm saying, yes, please go ahead. Yesterday, Fooey made mini-pizzas for everyone. She looked up a recipe, she grated cheese, sliced tomatoes and green peppers, she worked super-hard, and the only part I had to do was supervise the oven. AppleApple is a few years older and knows how to use the gas stove. She's being supervised, at some distance, by today's babysitter. And by my nose.

3. I'm in my office not having to see what's going on, and therefore not getting fussed about the potential mess. I'm prioritizing career work over domestic work. I'm seeing that the kids can genuinely help out -- and they're seeing that too. I'm starting to believe that a household shouldn't be one person's responsibility, but the entire family's. Yes, someone needs to be organizing everyone to make sure everything's getting done that needs doing. But everyone is capable of pitching in and keeping the enterprise going. It's not always my job. In fact, we're all going to learn from letting each other help out.

4. I'm prioritizing working together. I've started to see our family differently since I added earning money to my priority list. Before, it was nice to earn a bit extra; now, as we've started budgeting more consciously, we realize that to do everything we want to do, our family actually needs that extra. That is a relatively recent development -- really just a few months old. It's shifting the way I see our household working, and the way I view domestic labour. Domestic labour is every bit as important and valuable as paid employment, but that doesn't mean only one of us has to do it. We're not boxed into either/or categories.

5. Further to that thought: I'm coming around to the (perhaps painfully obvious) belief that parents aren't supposed to be slaves or servants. It's not good for the parents, and it's not good for the kids either. Obviously, very young children can't be expected to do major chores, but children the ages of mine are capable of being genuinely helpful. They need to know that too! They need to know they can contribute to the family's welfare and sustainability. Their work and effort and ideas are valued too. We're in this together. Chores aren't really fun. But when we're all working together, there are excellent and immediate rewards -- more time to spend doing something fun together (for us, this summer, that's watching a few episodes of Modern Family before bed). It also teaches the kids the value of time -- their time, and ours. And they're gaining a more sophisticated understanding of household economics.

There's a p.s. to this post.

That wonderful smell in the house? About mid-way through writing this, I realized it had gone from wonderful to slightly burnt. Sure enough, when I checked, some of the sauce had started sticking to the bottom of the pot. She was following the recipe to the word, but was using a timer rather than checking to see how things were progressing. Live and learn, we agreed, and were happy to see that the rest of the sauce was still salvageable. And next time, she'll know to peek and stir more frequently! I'd put this experiment in the win column. (I'd probably have put it in the win column even if the sauce had been inedible, frankly. Because it's only by experience that we learn how to do things independently.)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guess what everyone wants now?

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We're dogsitting for my brother and sister-in-law's sweet old fella. I'm not sure how we'll ever hope to find a dog as easy-going as Winston, but he's been an effortless addition to the household. Likes an easy ten-minute walk morning and night. Enjoys exploring and sleeping in the backyard. Slept in our room last night and got up to check on things whenever a kid went to the bathroom. I liked that. It felt kind of comforting.

Plus the kids love him. There's something about having an animal around that brings out good things in people. But if we do get a dog it's going to be a spur of the moment decision, I suspect, because there's no rationalizing adding to the household workload, expenses, or complications. Like I said to Kevin, it's a bit like deciding to have another baby -- it's never a choice that works on a rational, this-will-fit-with-our-lives way. You have another baby despite knowing it will cause disruption to your current situation.

In other news, we started the kids on chores this weekend. Everyone has been assigned different jobs (laundry, front hall tidying, dish-putting-away, toy-picking-up), and it's not for payment, it's for being helpful. So far, so good; but it's early going. But I will say that the kids seem pretty happy about having new responsibilities. And I'm happy because yesterday morning, instead of cleaning the house, I worked on a story while the kids picked up and vacuumed (with help from Kevin).

Happy weekending!

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Friday, July 6, 2012

A happy work day

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This morning I blogged that one of the awesome things about doing interviews this week is meeting people in their air conditioned office spaces. And, okay, admittedly, that is pretty sweet, as I sit here at my own desk in a room that is pushing 90 degrees F.

But that's not actually the best part.

The best part is meeting people -- and the conversations themselves.

Here is the benefit of being an observer: the world is endlessly fascinating. There is always more to learn. There are different approaches to problems, different enthusiasms, different values, different organizational systems, different social approaches, and I could go on and on. I must say I had no inkling of how absorbingly interesting it would be to conduct interviews -- the research part of my job. I was thinking of it as a necessity, I guess, a means to an end, the end being the writing itself. And truth be told, I was ever so slightly intimidated by the thought of asking strangers personal questions.

But the more work I've done, the more I appreciate the privilege of getting to ask questions. To focus my energy entirely on someone else's interest or cause or life's work or story or niche area of expertise. It's a real gift to get to listen. And it's proving to be a bigger piece of the writing-for-money puzzle than I initially bargained on. Yes, communicating the end story is hugely important, but the end story can't exist without first going through the process of trying to understand a subject in-depth.

I know. This all sounds very obvious.

Perhaps what has me most happy, on this extraordinarily warm Friday afternoon, is the discovery that I'm really enjoying the work I've chosen to do -- the work for money, I mean. There is such variety in it. I love variety! I'm a serial enthusiast by nature; this is kind of the perfect outlet for those instincts.

One more unexpected and happy discovery: The work itself feels very genuine, even though the situation is by its nature contrived -- by which I mean, I'm writing stories that have been assigned to me, about people I wouldn't ordinarily get to sit down and talk to. But the conversations don't feel contrived or artificial. (My hope is that the people I'm interviewing feel the same way too.)

It's been a good first week of the summer holidays. And I capped it off by dropping in at my local Chapters, in my other guise as fiction writer, and signing their stock of Juliet Stories. The girl was so super-friendly, it made my day.

Next up: soccer sidelines, and a picnic supper.

Life without air conditioning

before the sunburn

It's too hot to blog. I'm fairly sure it's too hot to think clearly, though that would be regrettable given that it is my primary source of income. I find my brain drifting off before reaching the end of a sentence, asking, huh? What was that?

This week I'm doing interviews with several local entrepreneurs. It's been fascinating so far. Best of all, they work in air conditioned environments. I'm being facetious. Which is probably ill-advised. Blame the heat.

I do not work in an air conditioned environment.

Here's a little story: on Wednesday, I took the kids to a place called Herrles, which sells local veggies and fruits and baked goods, and is slightly out of town, and therefore requires a bit of a drive. It was rush hour and took longer than usual. But was I grumpy about the situation? I was not. Because with the air conditioning blasting, we'd found ourselves a brief and happy reprieve.

Last fall, we learned that our home's central air conditioner, which we only used in desperate situations anyway, was broken and not worth repairing. We have not replaced it. And even though I only ever used it with a great deal of guilt and angst, I miss knowing it's there if the kids can't sleep (or we can't sleep).

Maybe we're all becoming acclimatized, and will therefore perform better at events like roasting hot soccer tournaments and long distance runs. Maybe.

Or maybe my brain has officially lost the will to reason.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Work + Play = Summer Holidays

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We spent Canada Day weekend at my brother and sister-in-law's farm. This tradition stretches back to before CJ. When we remarked on this, CJ gaped at us in horror and disbelief: "WHAT?!" I know, kid. It's hard to believe there was a time when you didn't yet exist.

This is our first week of summer holidays, and the first summer I've attempted to work approximately as many hours as during the school year. Babysitting has been arranged; we're on day two, and so far, so good, thanks to my trusty ear plugs. But ... will it be hard to work from 9-3 while the children play? Will I regret not taking time off? Will the kids feel like they've had a real summer?

Here are a few of my compensatory plans:
* biking to swim lessons at the outdoor pool (shifting work hours to accomodate)
* post-3pm outings to library, Herrles, park, air conditioned mall, etc.
* looking after the neighbours' chickens (all this week! nearly a dozen eggs collected this morning!)
* dogsitting (first go, this weekend; and we'd be open to dogsitting more often, if you have a dog you'd like sat)
* one promised day-trip to the local outdoor water park (Albus got a free pass for volunteering as a crossing guard at school; very clever, local outdoor water park, very clever)
* summer movie matinee
* one week away at a cottage
* visiting brand new cousin, when born (due August 8th!)
* ?? TBA
* please share your plans and ideas

And a few more compensatory plans, for myself:
* swimming during the little kids' swim lessons
* more exercise in the evenings, fewer early mornings (I'm down to two/week, and barely managing it; no naptime, and late nights)
* stretching after soccer
* taking time to hang the laundry outside, even during work hours
* saying yes to social invitations

Monday, July 2, 2012

Just one small thing

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She's at camp. And I miss her.

All the way home, after dropping her off, I felt a vague uneasiness, an undercurrent of anxiety. When I expressed it to Kevin, he understood. We were both feeling it. The feeling of not being near one of our children, which is a luxury we completely take for granted in every day life.

It came to me: this is parenthood. Our children are going to grow up and away from us, but we may not exactly grow up and away from them. In some fundamental way, we will always feel that they belong to us; even when they are quite certain they don't.

I'm not talking about this little one, of course. She still makes her claims on me as strongly as I claim her. But in ten years? Twenty? Thirty?

Will it feel then, as it does right now, that a small piece of me has been mislaid?