Today and yesterday

bedtime5
my view, bedtime

I’ve been reading A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh to the kids before bed. Lights have to be out by 8:30 in the little kids’ room, so some nights that means we don’t get much read. When the big kids were little, we read through the classics before bedtime: the Little House on the Prairie series, Charlotte’s Web, Roald Dahl, some Narnia Chronicles, the entire Harry Potter series (Kev read those to the kids), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and more I may be forgetting. The little kids are now getting old enough to hear these stories too, but our schedules are so different just a few years on. Evenings have shrunk to make time for extracurricular activities. Sometimes bedtime rituals amount to little more than toothbrushing and tucking in. Lights out.

So when I picked up Winnie the Pooh a few weeks ago, it seemed like the bare minimum. The bar was set pretty low. What I’ve seen is how all the kids crave this time. Crave being read to. It started with the two littlest. The older ones were just passing by in the hallway when they heard laughter: “What’s going on in here?” Room was made in the bunks for them too.

bedtime1

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When I looked up from the page last night I saw the most beautiful picture. The photos do not do the scene justice. CJ likes to lie facing me, hands holding chin. Albus brought homework, listening in with one ear. AppleApple was giddy with laughter. Fooey was half-asleep, content and warm under the blankets.

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“What time does the clock say?” I ask the kids, and one of them will usually tell me honestly. At 8:30 the last paragraph gets read, the page turned down, the book set aside. Lights out. When we’re done with Pooh, I will pick out another book, for sure.

Aside: Albus is bored with the books he’s been reading and re-reading, and I want to tweak his interest again. Any suggestions? He’s ten and a half and capable of reading quite complex chapter books.

:::

Today I spent an hour at physio, working on strengthening exercises. I also ran on a treadmill for 8 minutes and oh my goodness how I wished it were longer. But I’m supposed to continue doing what I’ve been doing — slow, short runs — for another week.

Today I did not get up early for a swim. I read for an extra hour last night, and slept for an extra two hours this morning (7am versus 5am; makes a big difference). While I regretted not starting the day with momentum, I need to get work done, and with physio knew I’d be hard-pressed to squeeze in a nap too. Brain must function.

Yesterday, I read this post from the Afterword on the fraught business of publicizing one’s book, by fellow Anansi author Robert Hough (and now I must read his new book!). Today I am working on posts for the same venue, to run next month. Topics are wide open, which is rather daunting.

Also, today, I am thinking about the time I have to write. The actual literal time that is available to me. Next year CJ starts kindergarten. But it won’t change my life very much. Except for Tuesday afternoons when the two of us are home together, he is either in nursery school (mornings) or with a caregiver (afternoons until 3pm). My work day ends at 3pm. That will change very little when school starts, or going forward for years to come. The school day is really very short. Several afternoons a week, I pick the kids up for after-school activities that require me to organize and ferry them around (swim lessons; piano lessons). On the other afternoons, perhaps I could shut my office door, lay out snacks, and let the kids fend for themselves until 5pm, in order to gain a full working day, but … would that work? Here’s the thing: by 3pm I’m revved up and working well creatively. It’s painful to shut it down at that moment, day after day. Starting earlier is not an option, not if I want to work out before dawn and see the kids off to school.

How do people work full-time? How? I want to know. I want to be able to do it too. I’m sensing there are no easy answers, just more compromises. So I will count my blessings and be grateful for the time I’ve carved out. (This is worthy of a larger post. When I finish the biography of Mordecai Richler, which I continue to read as if mining for hints and clues to writerly success, I will get to that larger post.)

Things I am glad for this morning
Dreaming the house

10 Comments

  1. I don’t know how people work full-time – I can’t manage it myself and keep living life the way I want to keep living it. So there’s the compromise, I guess. But I understand – with my short days, sometimes it’s time to go just when I hit my stride. Good luck finding the balance! It’s a tough one to find.

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  2. Have you read The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I think a boy of Albus’ reading abilities would enjoy it. Also Brian Doyle has some good novels but not all would be suitable(I don’t think) for a boy Albus’age. The books The Castle in the Attic and The Battle for the Castle by Elizabeth Winthrop are just for his age but a good read. She has quite a few more titles so she may be an author worth checking out. Just a few suggestions from what I can see on my shelves quickly.

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  3. Thank you for these suggestions! I think we may even have a copy of a Susan Cooper book on our shelves (we have a lot of childrens’ literature), but I haven’t read it myself and therefore wouldn’t have pointed him toward it. Much appreciated.

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  4. Carrie, when (if) you find the answer to the work question, please let me know. I will be working again within 3 years. I feel like I barely get anything done nowadays and I am home for most of them. How will I get it all done when I am out of the house for most of the day?! Find the answer please and then share it. 🙂

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  5. I actually really really want to work fulltime. It’s almost becoming a goal for me; I seem to be craving that extra work time. But it seems impossible. Like Nath says, she likes her life the way it is. There are only so many hours in the day! I’m baffled. There are so many things I want to accomplish and enjoy. Maybe too many. How to choose??

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  6. I second the Susan Cooper suggestion. The Dark is Rising sequence is amazing and intelligently written even for adults, and the protagonist of books 2-5 is going on 11. I still reread these.

    Gary Paulsen (Hatchet, etc.) and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George are great survival/nature books.

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  7. These days I am working almost fulltime. I talk with my kids afterschool but then I’m back at work until about 5. It’s funny, though, that expectations play a big role. When my kids were in kindergarten I got an enormous amount done in those 2.5 hours.

    I like The Dark is Rising series, but they are pretty dark. I found them scary as a kid. The books I recommend are new ones — Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner, and its sequel City of Lies. They are amazing and will hold A’s attention. I read them aloud to my big kids, who tend to balk at this habit nowadays, but were captivated by these books. I’m also a big fan of the Penderwicks, and my boys liked them even though the books are aimed squarely at girls. They are new books but read like a classic series. Author is Jeanne Birdsall. Has he read Madeleine L’Engle’s books? Highly recommend those — and it’s the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time.

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  8. Yes–Wrinkle in Time is in fact one of the books I read to them way back when. Wonder whether he’d read it now, on his own (and some of her others, too).

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  9. Has he read the Lemony Snicket series. Our J adored them and so did I.

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  10. Yup, Lemony Snicket was a good one. He and AA have both read through them. I have avid readers in this house!

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