Category: Spring

What we’ve been up to since last I posted

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Someone got glasses.

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All four kids had cavities filled at the dentist. (Popsicles only incidentally implicated.)

Kev and I cleaned the house and yard (not pictured).

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I baked a cake. (Party cake # 1!)

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Twelve candles were blown out.

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Soccer girl and mama went on a road trip. Too much sun. Too much chlorine. Hotel dreams. Big saves in net, sweet passes from the wing, and a game-winning goal. One proud mama, too tired to type more than this.

But tomorrow’s a holiday, may we all sleep in.

This post contains more than the recommended daily dose of exclamation points*

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snack on the back porch, with the snails
This weekend’s snow-rain notwithstanding, we’ve been living outdoors again. As of last week, the outdoor soccer season has started, and we’re on the field multiple times a week. I won’t get into the machinations, but a certain son has agreed to babysit a certain other son while the girls practice soccer, so that I can run on my favourite trails two evenings a week. The carshare car is also involved. We all pile home and find the house in disarray: supper abandoned on the table, dirty dishes in the sink, laundry overflowing, bedtime way too late.
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the snails: Ally, Emily, Amy, and Alla (who is very small and hasn’t been seen for a few days, leading me to believe he/she is quite possibly lost somewhere in the house)
Last week, it was warm well into the evening, the light was beautiful, and being outdoors felt like the reward for all the mess. This may feel slightly less rewarding when the weather is rainy/snowy/bloody cold. 
It’s hard to get up early when one is going to bed so late. That I will observe. I’m down to two early mornings for exercise, and hoping these evening additions will keep me sane. Because that’s the reason I exercise, you know. Sanity! Which is ironic, because it’s the kids’ exercise activities that may drive me to insanity!
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carpet of pollen
Our weekend was devoted to sport. Saturday saw Kevin and Albus off to an overnight soccer tournament, and AppleApple and I were out the door even earlier to a swim meet. The meet went late, and it took some frantic messaging to arrange back-up for my other duty of the afternoon: coaching CJ’s soccer team. AppleApple swam her relay (last heat of the last event of the morning!), threw on her clothes, and we drove for the soccer field (only about 90 km away!), arriving 20 minutes late and very grateful to the dad who stepped up to help. My coaching was better this week than last. I’m learning! 
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pollen after rain
AppleApple spent her spare hours working on her science fair project. I indulged the younger ones with movies from the library. We had hot dogs for supper. Kev texted me news about the tournament and the pizza party at the hotel. I fell into bed essentially depleted. Oh, and I didn’t even tell you about the part where I almost burned the house down by absentmindedly leaving a pan on the stove, burner on, while I walked the dogs before supper. Luckily, as smoke filled the house, AppleApple applied the skills learned in her babysitting class, discovered the source, and turned off the burner. The fire alarm was sounding when I arrived home. She didn’t know how to turn that off. It is not in my character to absentmindedly leave burners on and exit the house! This has never happened before! It speaks to my levels of depletion, I think.
Anyway ….
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back porch living
Yesterday, I rose early again to wake AppleApple and prep her for another day at the swim meet. She caught a ride with a teammate, because, really, I couldn’t ask my mom to babysit that early two days in a row (and on Mother’s Day!). I’ve said before how tedious I find the meets: crowded, damp, hot, loud, long. And yet I hated missing it. My Mother’s Day was off to a sad start. I crawled back into bed only to be woken by howling dogs and squabbling children. Besides, we had swim lessons. Breakfast and a dog walk, and we were off again. “Mother’s Day makes me grumpy,” I texted Kevin. But he and Albus were back by the time swim lessons ended, so I jumped in the truck and flew down the highway to the swim meet.

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gorgeous blooms I stopped to smell while walking the dogs on Saturday evening, blithely unaware of the crisis, of which I was the cause, unfolding at home

I arrived with minutes to spare before her second of four races. And what a race! She improved her personal best by 15 seconds in a race that really takes guts: 200 metre breaststroke. “I almost threw up after I touched the wall,” she told me, glowing at her accomplishment. So the stands were jammed and I had to sit on a concrete step and it was hot, loud, and damp–I truly cared not. My kid was glowing. I was glowing. My Mother’s Day was on the mend.
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Mother’s Day feast: four kinds of burgers (lamb, beef, chicken, bison), portobello mushrooms, fried potatoes, enormous green salad
We arrived home to discover the house had been cleaned and Kevin was cooking up a Mother’s Day feast. And then I had the best Mother’s Day gift of all: a long leisurely meal, all of us back together, laughing and talking and telling stories.

:::

* and not the good kind of exclamation point, sorry–these are clearly of the holy-heck-this-is-absurd! variety

The suddenness of Spring

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On May 6th, eighteen years ago, I met Kevin in circumstances that do not bear blogging about but which were, I assure you, youthful and spontaneous and highly unlikely to lead to marriage, children, home-ownership, and a stable future. But that’s what happened.

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I love that we met at this time of year. It’s exactly when the leaves burst out overhead, when the fruit trees and magnolias bloom, when the forsythia blazes yellow. Today, just three days past the anniversary of when we met, and already that moment of fragility and show is transforming into something else. How can the blossoms already be falling off the branches? But they are. How can the pale green just-unfurled leaves be fattening into a canopy overhead? But they are. How does the world fill itself in with such lushness, seemingly overnight?

But it does.

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Yesterday, I proofread an essay that will be appearing in the next edition of The New Quarterly, and later this year in a collection of essays titled How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting. I hadn’t read the essay for several months and how heartening it was to discover its strength and solidity. I’ve had a thought about my long-pondered non-fiction project. I’ve decided that it will be a series of essays. This essay, for example, is called “Delivery,” and it’s about the year leading up to the birth of our fourth baby. But it’s also about grief and denial and love. I have my doubts about doing memoir. My life is not that interesting. But an essay elevates ordinary experience by connecting stories to universal themes, and a series of essays can add up to the portrait of a life in flux, which is about as memoir-ish as I’m likely ever to get. I don’t like writing The End. I don’t like considering the past Done. But I do love considering the past.

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The other project I’ve been working on this week is a tight plot synopsis for Girl Runner. This will help me down the road in edits. And it will help my agent pitch the story to a film agent. Sadly, unlike in books, there are no surprise endings in plot synopses. I have to give away all my secrets.

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In Blogland, however, the secrets will have to be kept some while longer. Thanks for your patience while we wait together.

The Juicy Jelly Worm

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And, suddenly, the world is green again.

I’ve got news: I haven’t signed on the dotted line, but my agent tells me the deal is done, and promises that I won’t be jinxing myself by making an announcement.

Deep breath, here goes: I’m going to be a children’s author!

I’ve read a few children’s books over the years. In fact, I’ve done the math and figure that I’ve read at least 7,665 picture books since embarking on motherhood nearly twelve years ago, although I have to wonder how many of those constituted multiple reads. You know, the favourites that got “lost” because the loving parent couldn’t bear even one more read? I also wonder whether there are even that many pictures books at the library? Numbers are not my forte.

Anyway, it’s been an education. And I know what I like. So I wrote a book for children.

The title is The Juicy Jelly Worm.

I was helped along the way by brainstorming with my kids (but of course!). I riffed on plot ideas. I wanted to make them laugh. And in the end, I wrote text that has no moral to the story (gasp!). None. The book is purely for fun. It’s approximately 700 words in length. The publisher, OwlKids, will find an illustrator to bring the story to life, and really, as a neophyte children’s author, I don’t know how the process will unfold, other than it appears to be underway.

A few more details: OwlKids is known here in Canada for publishing the popular kids’ magazines Chirp, Chickadee, and Owl (our household subscribes to all three). And the tentative pub date is 2015.

So there you have it: The Juicy Jelly Worm, coming to a library/bookstore near you, a few years from now.

Meanwhile, I present to you Spring. Appearing right here, right now!
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The end of April, and at last

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This.

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This.

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This.

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And a bit of this, too.

“You love when the house is full of children, don’t you,” Kevin observed yesterday.

I do! I love when children spontaneously drop by on scooters, come in and join a cake baking project, stay for lunch, and fill the house and yard with play and chatter. I love hanging laundry while watching children play soccer and make up games on the trampoline. I love the connections that come from being outside.

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Bring on spring.

Time to pick up the kid from the school bus

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I would just like to say that today has gone by too fast. This week has gone by too fast.

I would also like to say that I’m not looking forward to my evening run in the still-cold, still-blowing, still-flecked-with-occasional-snowflakes springtime. At least it will be light.

After saying those things, I would like to confess that a pleasure of mine this week has been re-reading blog posts from last winter, when Juliet was being launched, with all of the excitement and busyness that surrounded that time. I note that we had lilacs budding and lettuce growing in March last year! I note also that we were “cooking with the kids” regularly, and that we had guests over much more often. The difference between then and now, aside from the weather, is an uptick in our evening activities. AppleApple swims three evenings a week, and practices soccer three evenings a week (sometimes back-to-back on the same evening), while Albus and Kevin are out two or three evenings a week, too. I can safely say that supper is disrupted five out of five weeknights. AppleApple can go all week without getting a hot meal. (And I haven’t even mentioned the weekend activities.)

Next up, the season of weekend soccer tournaments, with two kids now involved in rep play.

As always, the balance is so imperfect. Forget balance, I think. Live life where you’re at, so long as it’s working for you. So I’m appreciating the dog walks with the little kids in the evenings, and I’m thankful that my mom comes to help out when we’re going in the several different directions all at once.

I’m also happy to be reading almost every night to the kids. We are now into one of my favourite Laura Ingalls Wilder books: On the Banks of Plum Creek. It’s structured in such a quietly dramatic way: the borrowing to build the new house, the debt, the wheat, the hope, the plague of grasshoppers. The kids were solemn as I read last night about the glittering cloud of grasshoppers that descended and ate every green thing there was to eat. “But that’s their food! And they have the debt!” said CJ. I’m not convinced he’s got the concept of debt down, but you never know. He was really worried about it.

We were all solemn, thinking of the enormity of the loss for this family. And yet, the mother responds with gentleness, not grief. “We’ve gotten by before, and we will again.”

It made me feel utterly spoiled for choice. What do I have to complain about?

Oh, but how could Ma be so patient?

“At least they can eat the prairie chickens!”

But that whole garden lost, and the plums on Plum Creek, and the wheat … and the debt. Could I bear to wait and wait in hope as they must?

But I’ve run out of time, completely! Must race to get to the bus stop before CJ gets off.

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