It feels odd to check in here and offer no news. But it’s true. I have no news. I have instead the general happenings of an ordinary couple of days.
I finished my second round of revisions on Tuesday evening by completely neglecting my two youngest offspring (the two eldest were at soccer tryouts with their dad). I knew I was close, and couldn’t stop myself. Here’s how our after-supper conversation went.
CJ: I’m bored!
Me: I’m sorry.
CJ: Can Grandma come play?
Me: Let’s text her and find out.
[a round of texting ensues]
Me: I’m sorry, but Grandma can’t come. She’s visiting your new baby cousin right now.
CJ: [flings self on floor in attitude of despair] Grandma is ALWAYS with the new baby now!
Me: The new baby is four days old. I think you’re exaggerating. [thought bubble: wow, new baby as potential rival, that didn’t take long]
CJ: But I’m bored! We don’t even have Netflix!
Me: How about a video on YouTube? Like Little Bear.
CJ: I hate Little Bear.
Me: What do you want to watch?
Me: Seriously? Pokemon? It isn’t too scary? [thought bubble: or utterly nonsensical?]
Me: Pokemon it is. I’ll just be in my office … [an hour later: revisions done!]
On Wednesday, I went out for coffee and croissant with a friend to catch up and celebrate the France deal (she speaks French; I do not).
On Thursday, I presented my students with way too much information on the elements of short story writing.
Unrelatedly, I also made a list of things I want. It’s a bit extravagant, and includes a treadmill desk and a laptop. Also running tights and a haircut.
Must have been in list-making mode, because I then made another list of potential words of the year for next year. This year’s word is STRETCH. I think about it from time to time and wonder how it fits in with everything that’s happening. And I remind myself to do yoga and actually physically stretch.
It’s a full moon tonight. The sun is shining. This morning, I went out to the back yard and took these photos.
I ran with a friend this morning. Therefore, I started my day feeling happy. Kevin says I should start every morning with exercise, and I agree, although I’m down to one early morning class due to cost and it’s a challenge to find free exercise that I feel safe doing, by myself, in the pre-dawn hours. I’ve been going to the nearby indoor track once a week, and I’ve got a yoga mat by the bed so I can start the morning with wake-up stretches. But the truth is that it’s so much easier to get up for exercise when a) I’m meeting someone or b) I’m signed up for something.
Find the fortitude, woman! (She says to herself.)
I am thinking about yesterday’s rant, and asking myself: what are the products/services that I, as a consumer, would have a hard time doing without. Because if I am honest with myself, I am a consumer, and lead a lifestyle that is by world-wide standards wasteful and decadent, even if I think (sometimes) that my family really does need the things we treat ourselves to. It’s hard to shake my fist at capitalism when I’m a willing participant.
These items make my list of really really really want ’em wants, for my family and for me:
* books, daily newspaper
* sports: team fees, shoes, clothes (thrifty or secondhand fine), exercise classes, swim lessons, swim suits, goggles, skates, helmets
* nice shampoo and conditioner
* eating out with my husband once a month
* eating out as a family once every two months
* our truck + gas; carshare fees
* vitamins and fish oil (expensive!)
* local food
* internet and cellphone
* our house and the cost of maintenance
* dogs and cost of keeping them
* prescription medication and dentist visits (we are both self-employed and pay out of pocket)
* piano lessons
* nursery school fees (until full-day kindergarten starts this fall, please dear God, if Tim Hudak isn’t elected in the meantime)
Do you have a list, too?
I woke up this morning remembering how last winter I couldn’t run for a whole month due to a hip injury. I remembered that not being able to run inspired me to find alternate ways to stay fit, including swinging kettlebells. I’m still swinging those bells once a week, for which my core is truly thankful. Look how straight I’m sitting at this desk! If I had been able to keep running, I never would have discovered this. Point being: what may look like a lost opportunity might actually be a gentle nudge in a direction yet untested. Point also being: in the past week, I learned that I failed to earn both grants applied for last fall; having earned both in the past, I know they’re within reach and I’m questioning why I applied proposing a secondary project that has sat idle since then, but, past results and hindsight aside, the fact remains that grants as a way of supporting my writing/list above are off the table for this fiscal year.
To quote a writer friend on Facebook: “The part of being a writer that requires the most creativity is figuring out how to pay the bills.”
messy, happy room
Today’s theme from the universe: You will receive messages that are not meant for you. Literally. I’ve had a phone call, a voice message on my cellphone, and a text message all meant for other people. In all cases, I received a complete message, rather than an “oops, wrong number” and a hang-up.
I have no idea what the universe is trying to tell me (“Not all messages are meant for you?”), but I like catching glimpses of others’ lives, so I don’t mind in the least.
A list of items recently lost by me and my eldest daughter
1. 1 pair of swim goggles and a swim cap (hers)
lost in the University of Waterloo’s pool area, on deck or in changeroom
2. 1 pair of Keen’s sandals, size 7 (hers)
lost somewhere between the pool and Bechtel Park’s indoor soccer field
3. 1 blue sweater with hood (shared by me and her)
sorely missed, no idea where lost, or when
4. 1 pair of running shoes, size 7 (hers)
gone missing despite me taking care to bring them home from Bechtel Park’s indoor soccer field, with the prophetic words, “I’d better take these so they don’t get lost.” Haven’t been seen since.
5. 1 blue water bottle (mine)
lost after a run at RIM Park, even though I never took it out of the bag
This is what I feel like doing today.
Instead, I am having one of those exquisitely Mondayish days. And Monday is winning. Damn you, Monday! The hours are cruising past while I blither away at apparently endless and infinitely finicky odds and ends that must be done somehow by someone and soon. I’m telling you, spreadsheets are involved.
“This is the most disappointing advent we’ve ever had,” said one of the children this morning.
And I’ll admit, I have not found a good way to fill those little slots with daily seasonal activities, despite having an envelope full of ideas in my office. We had the “candy cane meltdown” last week, wherein a slip of paper promised candy canes we proved not to have. We’ve had way too much hot chocolate for breakfast. The Christmas decorations never got made. The snowflakes for the front window did, but remain as clutter on the dining-room table. And for the past two mornings, the children have found nothing in their advent calendar. Nothing. Serious seasonal fail.
I should at least write on a slip of paper, “Make toast!” or “Pet the dogs!” I think the kids would prefer that over nothing. They might even prefer to imagine that we’re going to do activities that I know in advance we won’t have time for, such as “Bake cookies!” or “Go skating!”
All of which is to say that this Monday finds me quite entirely overwhelmed by the details of the season. Who has bought gifts for whom? What’s our budget? What’s happening when? Can we split childcare over the holidays? Is everyone happy? Will everyone be happy? I know, I do, that it will all come together, and that the time I’ve spent today will help make it so, but oh, this is tedious.
Meanwhile, the novel waits patiently (or maybe not so patiently; I’m pretty sure the novel has the bit in its 210-pages-of-teeth and is begging me to gallop for the finish line. But listen, novel, we’ll just have to go back to the beginning and start the race all over again, so, really, what’s your hurry?). I hear, from a novelist much more experienced than I am, that I should look into Scrivener, a program that helps keep track of all the book’s bits and pieces. Unlike Word, which makes me feel like I’m composing one insanely long drawn-out thought that may have completely gone off the rails way back when and is missing several dozen terribly important pieces but I can’t stop now and must simply forge ahead til I reach the end. Writers out there — thoughts? (Also, it occurs to me that I could really use a Scrivener-like-program to organize my entire life. Talk about bits and pieces.)
CJ’s big problem: He doesn’t want to wear snow pants because they make his pants slide up his leg. And it’s snowing! And we’re late for the bus!
Mama’s quick solution: Tuck pants into socks, and we’re good to go.
But Mama wonders, will the kid figure out how to tuck his pants in again at school? After all, he has to dress himself in snow clothes for two recessess, plus coming home after school.
Apparently, Mama needn’t have worried. He knew what to do! He just wore them tucked in all day long. Like this. Yep. It’s a good look.
Today’s post is all about practicalities. Sorry, folks. I’m going to post my kids’ Christmas wish lists here. If you’re an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, you may find these interesting, even helpful. If you’re anyone else, please accept my apologies, and check back tomorrow instead.
Albus’s Christmas list (spelling uncorrected)
1. cappachino maker (he saw it advertised in a catalogue, and here is what he told us: “I’ll just make decaf cappuchinos … or espressos.” I’m not endorsing his idea, but I had to leave it on the list, because, seriously, what 11-year-old asks for a cappuchino-maker?!)
2. Krave breakfast cereal
3. Crunchie chocolate bar
4. Settelers ‘o’ cantan (I think he means the board game Settlers of Catan, which even I can’t spell)
5. Lego minifigures (stocking stuffers: Santa will take care of this)
6. i-pod nano or i-pod-touch
8. Skylanders Giants figures: Whirlwind, Bash, Prism break, Wrecking ball, chop chop, Hex, fright rider, Stealth elf, Flame, Slinger, Sonic Boom (don’t ask me what all this means)
There is no ninth request, but he wrote the number down, just in case.
AppleApple’s Christmas List (adapted from her birthday list)
-doggy costume (ie. for the dogs)
-snow pants (size 10)
-shakespeare plays (she has Romeo and Juliet already)
Fooey’s Christmas List
– Maplelea doll items: bed, wardrobe, hangers, prima ballerina, Katajjaq Giggles
– Lego friends
– i-pod touch
– snow kitten writing set or snuggle puppy writing set (these may be Scholastic order items)
– Doodle journel
– my perfect puppy (?)
– Skylanders fugeirs like: Ninijni
x-mas list for CJ (transcribed by Albus)
1. Lego Star Wars
2. Playmobiel Pyrates (oh, the spelling, Albus, the spelling!) (pretty sure that means “pirates”)
3. Lego set with Iron man
4. Batman lego “the butcave” (surely Albus mean to write “batcave”)
5. Skylander feguers like: double trouble, trigger happy, bash, hot dog, pop fizz, and zap, thumpback, spyro (again with the Skylander figures! Hats off to those *&%^^ing wii marketers, whoever they may be, for sucking in three out of four of my children.)
I will just add, although not on every list, that books, puzzles, games, crafts, and creative off-the-wall toys are always welcome, and will please the children too. And I’m not just saying that!
Should I make a Christmas/birthday wish list? Ah heck, why not.
– books or gift certificate to WordsWorth
– clothes or gift certificate to Andie’s (my favourite shop uptown)
– exercise clothes or gift certificate to Studio Energi
– there must be more, but I’m blanking. No Skylander figures (or figeuers, or figeirs, or even figrers) for me, please.
Yes, I like checklists. Don’t you? Checklists are a more routine form of the to-do list, of which I am also very fond. And, yes, I like routine too. Let’s hope my family agrees, because this checklist is meant as a guideline for a weekly all-family all-in housecleaning project (or perhaps bi-weekly or tri-weekly; we’ll play it by ear, or by dust, crumbs and debris, as the case may be.) I hope to offer some reward beyond a clean house, lovely though that is, such as Family Housecleaning followed by Family Movie Night. This idea remains, at the writing of this post, a dream yet to be implemented. I will let you know what happens next.
Checklist of chores for Family Housecleaning
1. pick up toys, books and oddments off the floor
2. find homes for toys, books and oddments (on the nearest surface does not count)
5. check windows: do any need to be cleaned?
1. organize toy boxes, book shelves, and the stuff that collects on top of dressers
2. check under the beds
3. change sheets and pillowcases and check blankets (do they need to be laundered, too?)
1. clean toilets
2. scrub shower doors and bathtub
3. clear all counter tops and clean
4. clean sinks
5. clean mirrors
6. check under tub for toys
7. mop floors
8. check: do soap containers need to be refilled? toilet paper restocked?
9. check shelves for clutter and dust, and tidy/clean if necessary
1. clear all counters
2. organize and find homes for everything cleared off of all counters
3. wash counters
4. wash sink
5. wash cupboard doors and backsplash
6. check inside cupboards: any spills? anything need to be cleaned?
7. wash stovetop
8. check oven and fridge: do either need to be cleaned?
9. mop floor
1. clear dining-room table
2. wipe down table and chairs
3. clear buffet surface and wipe clean
4. tidy games-and-puzzle cupboard (optional)
5. mop floor
1. find homes for random piles on homework table and on tv cabinet
2. clean piano
3. water plants
4. tidy toy cupboard and art section
5. mop floor if necessary
1. put away shoes and boots and jackets and mitts
Hallway and stairs
1. vacuum stairs (including basement stairs)
1. mop hallway if necessary
1. to be cleaned and tidied as needed
Question: Anything you’d add to the list?