Category: Birthdays

For better or for worse #FridayReads

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This is what we’ve all been reading for over a month now. And I include myself among the readers. We’ve been getting them out from the library, and I wish we could find some way to buy them, new or used, because the kids pore over them and read them over and over. Lynn Johnston didn’t develop her characters within a typical cartoon style using a static time frame; instead, her characters grow and age, and they feel really whole and interesting and the effect is novel-like, if the novel were written over years and years, and in small panels with punchlines. I love that her punchlines are often poignant. I’ve sat there crying over a storyline, and I’ve laughed out loud, but most often I just read with the same enjoyment I would find from a novel. I find it hard to pick up one of her collections and not devour it from beginning to end.

I have managed to read a few other books, recently. I worked my way slowly, steadily, sleepily through My Struggle, book two (A Man in Love, I believe it’s called). At certain points I found myself wondering if this would be my quest, whether I would slowly, steadily, sleepily work my way through the entire seven books, as a kind of bizarre long-term project of being inside someone else’s mind. I might. I’ve already bought book three. But meanwhile, I’m going to cleanse my palate.

Over the long weekend, I read, with enormous pleasure, Landing Gear, by Kate Pullinger, who I met on tour last fall. Kevin read it first, and was laughing out loud, and told me I had to read it right away, as soon as he was done. So I did. I also found it very very funny, and I admired its structure and shape. I loved the portrayal of the 14-year-old boy … as I now have one of my own.

Here are some scenes from his birthday.

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He worked on building a shed with his grandpa in the morning. He played hooky from school and his parents took him out for lunch. He played a game of soccer in the evening. And then he blew out a candle and opened gifts from his siblings and parents. And now he’s having a party with some friends that appears to mainly involve junk food, video games, and hanging around. I’ve already popped up once to be the annoying snooping friendly mother. Can’t help myself.

Happy Friday, happy weekend!

xo, Carrie

Birthday boy (aka my baby)

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Yesterday on birthday eve: still 6 years old. Count ’em.

A big day here at our house: the baby of our family is seven years old! He requested a “soccer party,” so we’ve accommodated with indoor field time and friends invited this evening. It was one of his few requests. Last week, he tried to compile a birthday wish list. He carefully numbered a lined piece of paper with 1. 2. 3. 4. and so on all the way to about 20., then started to fill in the blanks. Sometime thereafter I discovered him moaning and groaning in the kitchen, staring at his wish list, stabbing at it with a pencil, tearing his hair out. “What’s happening here?” I asked. “I can’t think of anything else that I want!” he cried. He had written down one item at the top of the list. Soccer stickers. “Don’t worry about it,” I suggested. So he didn’t. And this morning he opened his very few, very modest, almost exclusively soccer-related gifts this morning (including stickers), and he appeared to be thrilled.

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Also on birthday eve: CJ inexplicably poses with mini-stick and Suzi-dog, while balancing on one leg.

We’ve been reminiscing about the morning of his birth. He was born at home, but only Kevin and I were here. The other kids were away overnight with Grandma Linda and Grandma Alice. We called them to share the news. They had three questions: boy or girl? name? and does he have red hair? We said, yes, he has red hair. Ha! We continued to look for evidence of red hair for the next several months, until we finally realized that no, this one was different.

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Fooey looks through photo albums: these were taken that summer when she and CJ went to dance camp together, and CJ was the only boy.

This morning I observed that if I’d only had one child, I would have thought I was very good at training children to fall asleep. Albus was a champion napper and sleeper. Then AppleApple turned up and wrecked those illusions. And if I’d only had two children, I would have thought I was very good at giving birth on my due date. Both A & A were born exactly on time. But then Fooey arrived 15 days early (and CJ further blew the illusion of control and showed up 10 days late). And if I’d only had three children, I would have thought we could only produce red haired offspring. But then CJ arrived and proved that, basically, there can be no assumptions in parenthood.

They are who they are. And he really is who he is. Wonderfully so.

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On birthday morning. Seven years old.

We all love him, just as he is. Seven years old. Isn’t that a great age!

xo, Carrie

PS He’s going to let me cut his hair on May 3rd. Why May 3rd, you may ask? Because, he will tell you, his outdoor soccer season starts on May 4th.

It’s her birthday

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Yesterday, on Birthday Eve.

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And with a few of her siblings, also on Birthday Eve. To give you a little window into Every Day Life Around Here.

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Today, on her birthday.

“Did you have a good day?”

“Yes!”

“Can I take your photo?”

“Um. I have to do a little homework first.”

“Homework on your birthday? You shouldn’t have to do homework on your birthday.”

[Ignores mother. Opens computer.]

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Kevin, last night: “Wow, your last day as a twelve-year-old. It’s hard to believe you’re going to be a teenager tomorrow.”

Awkward pause.

“Dad, I’m turning twelve tomorrow.”

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I’m remembering it was a cold and snowy day on which she arrived, eleven or twelve or thirteen years ago, give or take; whatever, we’re getting old. We were younger then. For a few months after she was born I took to wearing my hair in pigtails. In photos I look like a baby holding a baby (I wasn’t, quite), with another baby standing bewildered nearby (her brother was a mere 17 months older).

One more memory: on the day of her birth, I’d received the contract for my first book, Hair Hat, and my agent had called to go over it in detail. Mid-conversation, I broke in to say, apologetically, “I think I’m actually in labour, can I call you back … um … maybe tomorrow …?” Honestly, why had I answered the phone during active labour? It was my first book contract. It seemed awfully important. This would be my first daughter. But labour seemed so normal at the time. It was what I’d been expecting, after all, it was the natural arc of the story. After she was born, it seemed like those sleepy, snowed-in, baby days would never cease, somehow. After she was born, there was a forever sensation to the passage of time. I wanted so badly to have time to write, and my hands were full, literally. I wasn’t resentful, but my hands were full.

Anyway. The good old days. Nostalgia. Etc.

It’s another cold and snowy day today, and the youngest two are fighting in the living-room. It sounds like soccer versus musical instruments, literally.

Signing off. Next up: Birthday celebration.

xo, Carrie

 

Life in the summer lane

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Cousins.

Be warned: this is a photo-heavy post, and a little behind the times in terms of news items. Apparently summer has decided to kick into fast-forward and honestly, I can’t keep up. I don’t even want to. This morning, driving with a friend to our spin & kettle bell class, we saw that it was dark. It was also early, and for most of the year, darkness is to be expected at this hour, but we’ve been spoiled by summer’s long light, and it didn’t seem like it should already be contracting. August is a melancholy month. Always is. I fight against the melancholy because after all, it’s still summer. But even the youngest of our crew is noticing: “Is it fall?” CJ asked yesterday, as we sat out in the back yard watching Kevin dismantle our rotting picnic table. “No! It’s still summer!” I said. “Why did you think it might be fall already?” “The leaves are falling,” he said. And so they were, some of them, enough to dot the grass, into which a path has been worn by the soccer ball being played back and forth, back and forth, obsessively this summer.

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Grandma love.

We haven’t gotten to all of the tasks we’d meant to. Our to-do list seems as long as ever. But we’ve also had afternoons like yesterday, mild, breezy, sunny, when I sat reading out loud to the kids from a book of old English folk tales. And weekends like the one before, when cousins came to stay. And two visits to the Stratford Festival in just over a week: first, with Kevin to see King Lear (and celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary), and then on Saturday with the girls to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As we walked uptown to the carshare, we realized how unusual this grouping was: me and my girls, just the three of us. We really had fun. We got dressed up. We had a picnic by the river and named the swan and seagull who tried (unsuccessfully) to befriend us (Swanda and Seagram). We chose a feathery mask in the gift shop that we all could share. And we got a treat at DQ afterward, tapping into a gift card Fooey had gotten for her birthday. “This day feels like an adventure,” one of them observed as we drove home past fields of corn and turning wheat.

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Party cake, number one.

And Fooey has had her birthday, celebrated now many times over. I’m weak, speaking parentally. We allowed her, as her birthday gift, to purchase her own iPod Touch. Our three eldest now have this electronic device, and I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, either. Here she is on birthday eve.

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Selfie, with brother.

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And here she is on her actual birthday.

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Party cake, number two.

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She planned her friend party months ago, with an ever-shifting menu and lists of crafts and games and activities. We ended up serving Kraft Dinner and potato chips for the main course, which I supplemented with bowls of raw veggies and fruit, met with a chorus of, “Mom! It’s not a veggie party!” Moms know how to have fun! (In my defence, the veggies and fruit were devoured.) The whole party was easy, and I was glad to see that Fooey’s friends didn’t mind her stern organizational tone, as she herded them out to go “bowling” with a basketball and a bunch of plastic honey containers, or instructed them to “design your own book cover,” as the opening craft. Be still my beating heart. I was smitten all over again with this kid of mine, now nine.

And I think that catches us up on the news front, minus a soccer tournament on the weekend, to which I brought my camera but then forgot to pull it out of my purse to take photos. Guess I was engrossed in the match. Sorry, Albus. (He doesn’t want his photo posted on the blog these days anyway; or at the very least, wants to curate the photos of himself that do appear. We’re all growing up. More evidence of the time, and its passing.)

xo, Carrie

An almost-birthday adventure for two

An almost-birthday adventure for two

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Taking the train to Toronto, yesterday morning. “We’re going in fast-forward!”

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“I am going to the aquarium with only mom.” – Fooey, age eight, almost nine, recording the event for posterity on her train ticket.

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Observation: it’s really hard to get good photos at an aquarium. This stops no one from trying repeatedly, including me. There must be thousands of terrible shark photos now in existence that were directly spawned by those who squeezed, squawled, and wandered with giant strollers around the aquarium in Toronto yesterday afternoon. Here are mine.

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Good selfies are even harder than good shark photos. “This one looks eerie.” “What’s that mean?” “Like this.” “Oh.”

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It was a very special day, with only us.

Snapshots

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That thing woven into her hair is a dandelion. Yesterday, at recess, she and her friends celebrated a completely invented ritual called The Commencement of the Dandelion Festival.
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She tells me this, and then she heads off to play a soccer game.
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On his 13th birthday, Kevin and I take him out for lunch. (Fries with gravy, a milkshake, and a banquet burger.)
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Also on his 13th birthday, his soccer team wins their game, and AppleApple and I pick up a cake from DQ on our way home from her game. He mentions that it’s been a great birthday.

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It’s around 9:30 PM when we gather to blow out the candles. For some of us, DQ cake is supper.

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Some of us don’t seem to mind.

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Friday evening. Tuna melt supper for him, leftovers for me. He’s played soccer in the living alone for too long. He’s bored. It’s only the two of us, alone in the house. And so, of course, we sit at the dining-room table and colour together. We make it into a game. It’s the kind of “fun” activity I cajole my children into doing, when we “play” together. We haven’t done this for a few years. I sign my name to my picture, age 39. He signs his name to his picture, age 6.

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