Party planning, by Kevin. We never got to the “tats or stickers.”
We asked everyone to draw a picture of CJ.
Fooey drew a mermaid instead.
Worms in mud. Our nod to holding the party on April Fool’s Day.
Deconstructing worms in mud.
CJ’s theme was “Indoor/Outdoor,” which he never fully explained, although we did end the party outside, in the cold, with children jumping on the trampoline. We decided to riff on a number of seasonal themes, including the one that we’re all waiting to have arrive: spring! Kevin collected and painted rocks white, so the kids could decorate them. We then had the kids choose flower bulbs from a paper bag to take home and plant — that counted for both April Fool’s (onions?!) and spring. The painted rock can mark the planting spot. And we held an Easter egg hunt, because it was Easter Monday, and because we find, at parties, that kids love looking for things. We also squeezed everyone into my office and I read them stories, a low-key entertainment method we’ve used at many a party.
Birthday parties are very hands-on and structured for this age, but this passes quickly. So we’re enjoying it while it lasts.
This kid, whose birthday comes next, and who is seen here recording the birthday proceedings, is at a different stage now: basically we could order pizza, stock up on junk food, and let him stay up late with friends, with as little supervision as we could stand, and that would pretty much cover it.
It’s Birthday Eve at our house, a holiday Fooey claims to have invented. Birthday Eve means one among us is on the eve of his birthday. And we take photos to mark the occasion, but that’s about it.
“We won’t have a sweet little four-year-old after tomorrow,” I said to Kevin.
“But you’ll have a sweet little five-year-old,” CJ anxiously reassured me.
Won’t we, just?
Kevin just texted to tell me he’d seen AppleApple and her class running by from their excursion to the library this morning. Meanwhile, I’d received an emailed check-out notice from the library with the following titles:
Fascinating, huh. AppleApple is planning a science project on herbal medicine. Coincidentally, this dovetails with one of the subjects in The Girl Runner, so she might find her mother taking notes.
I love the smallness of the world, sometimes. The magic of connections.
|Michael Ondaatje’s Bookmark|
Speaking of connections, did you know there’s a registered charity in Canada devoted to marking famous places in Canadian fiction? For real. It’s called Project Bookmark, and it’s the invention of writer Miranda Hill (side note: I’ll be reading with Miranda next Sunday at GritLit in Hamilton).
Project Bookmark is launching a month of fundraising with a creative twist: every day in April there will be a prize draw for that day’s donors. Each day is sponsored by a “reading personality,” who is offering up a prize of his or her own devising. Personalities include Margaret Atwood and Shelagh Rogers, so a mere $20 could get you something pretty unique and amazing.
Sounds like it’s been a helluva lot of work to organize, and I’m hoping Project Bookmark reaps the benefits. I love the idea of marking out our literary landscape, grounding the imaginary in the real, and inviting us to consider how the two interact. I also like imagining where I would place a Bookmark. And thinking about the real places that inhabit my imaginary worlds — or is it the other way round? Do my imaginary worlds inhabit real places?
Celebrating a birthday, a Burns day, and a full moon. We dined on “cockadoodle soup” (aka cockaleekie soup, which sounds just as odd, come to think of it) and haggis. There were kilts. The songs all had bagpipes. The girls found their ghillies and performed. And today I am tired and my head aches just a wee bit. Seems just about perfect for the end of January, hey.
She actually managed to lose the second of her two front teeth on Christmas day, prompting me to sing the few lyrics I could recall to that joke song from years past. And then we went and lost the damn tooth during the Christmas cleanup. I offered $2 to whomever could locate it, but despite determined looking it was gone. But she had a solution: she wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy. “I loosed my tooth and can’t find it. I think the dog eat it.” Funny thing is, she’d written a note to Santa the night before, and left it in a box along with a gift for Santa: a photo of herself, several years old, taken with Santa himself. Oh, my heart.
Both Santa and the Tooth Fairy wrote back.
Yesterday was my birthday. Somehow these things seem to come around with greater frequency than they used to. I spent some time, the night of December 28th, looking through the journal where I write and reflect every “birthday eve.” This is a strange year for me. In years past, this has been a time to search my heart, to look ahead with wishes and hopes and anxiety, too, anxious to find my way, hoping to identify new projects that will pull me somewhere else. This year, I feel as though I’m confidently walking a path of my own choosing, and that my only hope is to continue along this way.
I have big plans for this coming year, yes, but the plans are simple, straightforward, and already in motion. Nothing new or high-concept here.
* I’ve finished a very rough first draft of a new book and will devote my work time to making it into a book worth reading — and publishing.
* With my friend Tricia, I plan to apply for Canada’s version of The Amazing Race, admittedly a long shot, but hey, what’s life without the occasional crazy gamble.
* I will continue to squeeze in regular exercise, in whatever forms make sense (ie. solo runs or classes with friends or team sports). Reflecting on those birthday eves past, I find it quite possible to believe that finding my physical self has been the change of greatest significance to my life, in ways both obvious and subtle. It’s been a slow and steady process of change that started with a simple yoga class, attended on my birthday three years ago. I truly believe that a well-spring of confidence, energy, and trust bloomed out of that single moment, as I built (and continue to build on) the discovery of my inner athlete:
1. the bliss I felt when I completed races, at distances that had seemed impossible only months before
2. my amazement at my ability to set tough goals and perservere
3. the steadiness of routine that I now rely on to keep my mind open and emptied of clutter
4. the embrace of my competitive spirit — seeing it as positive (ie. motivating, creative) rather than shameful (ie. grasping, self-promoting)
So, yesterday, my birthday, was sweet and lovely and low-key. Instead of going to a yoga class, this year I lingered over breakfast, and stayed home and read Pippi Longstocking to my kids. I walked in the snow. I had lunch with a friend. I shopped for some new clothes (ie. the sweater I’m wearing, above), and managed not to buy anything in black, brown, or grey (almost — there was a little black dress on sale for $11 that I couldn’t resist). I arrived home to discover Kevin baking an angel food cake from scratch — my favourite! The kids sang me happy birthday, I blew out candles, we ate dessert before supper. I drove my daughter to and from swimming.
And then I got dressed up and went out to dinner with Kevin and we splashed out on margaritas, and savoured the loveliness of being right here, right now.
Hello, new year.
Christmas eve elves
AppleApple discovers something else she’d like to do: learn how to play the cello!
Settlers of Catan and butter beer
Santa, with pillow-enchanced profile
er, too much butter beer?
Tomorrow is my birthday. I usually get all philosophical right about now. But today I don’t feel philosophical. I feel busy. Tired. Happy. Surprised, though I shouldn’t be, by the ongoingness of laundry and dishes. And these people I live with keep needing to eat.
We enjoyed four consecutive days of Christmas celebrations with various parts of our extended family, and some friends, too, although my camera didn’t make it to every event.
For the record, that’s four consecutive Christmas dinners: ham, ham, paella, and turkey.
I embraced the excess, then wondered why I felt so sluggish on yesterday morning’s run. Especially because I took Boxing Day morning and did not get out of bed til noon, reading and finishing Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, in one big gulp.
So many late nights. So many second glasses of wine. So much wheat and butter. Why so sluggish?
Yes, really, Carrie, why.
This morning Kevin rented a full indoor soccer field (huge!) so his U12 boys team could practice. AppleApple and I got kitted out in soccer gear and came along. It was 90 minutes of blissful scrimmaging, the boys’ team against everyone else — adults, friends, siblings. AppleApple was the only girl, and I was the only woman, and I’ll admit I felt a little intimidated going in. I’m thankful to have joined that team last spring, because all I can say is: soccer … so fun! It would totally be bragging to mention that I scored the sweetest replay-worthy goal (yes, against 11-year-old boys), but I can’t help myself. If only I could score goals like that for my current team. Sadly, we don’t play against 11-year-old boys, which is not to malign the skills of the boys, who are actually very good, and made us play hard.
Now Kevin is trying to snag more field time. And I think it would be fun to play on a co-ed team together — taking our marriage to new places, whilst our knees and hamstrings are still in working order. See, this isn’t a dream that can really wait for retirement.
“I wish we could play every day,” Kev said, and I had to agree. So that’s what we’ll do if we ever strike it rich.