Rainy Afternoon

Today is all about staying ahead of the curve. Is that the right phrase? That sounds like baseball. Okay, today is all about dashing madly ahead of the giant pursuing wave about to come crashing down on my head. I’ve ordered a last bushel of tomatoes, may the saints preserve me. Or may they preserve those tomatoes on my behalf. Actually, this could be fun. I’m trying something new, and will attempt to can these tomatoes with a neighbour friend tonight. In fact, it was her idea, and we’ll be using her kitchen. I believe we’re planning to turn these romas into a pleasant marinara. It will be a scramble getting over there by 8pm, which is my goal. The big kids start their music class at the Beckett tonight, at 6pm, so I’m in the midst of cooking a tomato sauce (yes, more tomatoes) for supper tonight–I’m planning a tortilla lasagne, using leftover black beans, rice, hamburger, this sauce, and piles of cheese. And tortillas as the “noodles.” Generally speaking, this meal is a huge hit. And I can slap it together and toss it in the oven as soon as we walk in the door from school, and it will be ready to eat by 5, which is my goal.

Okay, baby CJ has just spent a good half an hour in his gigantic bouncer thing and is starting to sound a little, er, resentful. But the morning’s dishes are done, and this sauce is nearly done, and I’ve gotten to blog, in addition to staring blankly about at various things that need doing. This floor is … well, it’s almost beyond what my (admittedly low) standards can tolerate. And yet, here I am, not scrubbing it. Watch me as I continue to not scrub it for days–weeks?–to come.

Muffins for Dictators

Was going to post muffin recipes, since that’s become a Tuesday tradition with me and F–drop the big kids at school and race home to bake (and eat) muffins. Except today’s muffins turned out just a tad too healthy for my taste. The kids do seem to like them, but I think they’re overtly healthy, even for muffins. A cup of flax meal, for starters. Two cups of grated carrots. F fought heartily against the carrots. She was positively dictatorial in her rejection of them, even though I assured her she would never notice, had eaten beets in cake very recently, and would appreciate the added moistness. I must have said, “But they’ll be so moist, with the carrots!” about twenty times, to which F said, in so many words, “I’m not buying it.” In the end, the carrots went in. And the muffins weren’t especially moist. So we both won, sort of.

It was a dictatorial three-year-old morning, frankly. Today, she started “school,” her school, that is, which is the Beckett school’s early childhood music programme, a 50 minute, once-per-week extravaganza of drumming and singing and learning quite an impressive amount of music theory (the big kids are graduates). Upon arriving back home this morning, after dropping the big kids off, she raced inside and packed her backpack for “school.” She then went to the door, and demanded we leave NOW. I explained that class started at 2pm. “When we go?” she asked. “Around 1:45,” I said. She heard me say, “Now. We leave now.” “We go now?” “Not for about [check imaginary watch] four and a half more hours.” “We leave now, Mommy.” [Stern tone.] This went on. This went on and on. Distractions were only semi-useful. It always came back to: “Now we leave, Mommy!” Not a question. Time, to three-year-olds, is clearly of little conceptual interest.

I’m just back from two hours “off.” What am I saying? No quotation marks necessary. Two hours off. Two hours out of the house, with sibs, no children in sight. But the frantic effort that precedes those two hours must be seen to be believed. I was over-seeing home reading, facilitating a playdate, cooking supper, preparing lunches, breastfeeding, shoving essentials into backpacks, storing CSA food, all while listening to the radio and doing the day’s dishes (so as not to leave Kevin with too many). I cleared the supper table before Kevin was done eating (sorry, hon). And then, suddenly it was 7pm, my bro Karl arrived, and we walked out the door to … quiet, to no one requesting, suggesting, demanding or tattling upon. Ahhh. I enjoyed those two hours. But here’s the thing. I enjoy just as much getting back home, and being Mama again. Okay, maybe I’m especially enjoying this because Kevin got everyone to bed, and the house is perfectly silent now, just the sound of peaceful, breathing children, and my own fingers typing.

Shoot–that title is now better than this post. My apologies. If I ever make a really good muffin, I’ll let you know. Or let me know if you’ve already cracked that particular code. Wanted: Muffins for (small) dictators, please.

Running Away from Home

Thanks for the laundry ideas. With a couple of rainy days this week, I hung clothes indoors, and though not right in the kids’ rooms, I put the clothes whose destination was upstairs on a rack in the hallway upstairs, and diapers and downstairs items down. Handy. The sorting takes place while the laundry’s still damp. Need a better laundry rack (or two) as I’m currently using backs of chairs, radiators, and railings in addition to this bulky, flying-machine-design wobbly metal rack upstairs … but Ikea doesn’t encourage online shopping, apparently, at least not for drying devices. They do have a couple of cool ones, for example, one that folds out from the wall, then back in again when not in use. But we’d have to get to Burlington or Vaughn or North York. Or I could just pick up another cheap wooden one like I have and enjoy downstairs. Canadian Tire special, if I’m remembering correctly.

Ah, laundry.

At the library storytime this morning at the WPL. The place was a zoo. Toddlers everywhere. The librarian is doing a good job, seems to like children (this has been a problem with WPL children’s librarians in the past–you’d think they’d have to like children, but apparently it’s not a job requirement). There are fun songs and activities in addition to stories, and F is entranced. Even baby CJ was pretty enthralled, though perhaps as much by the sight of toddlers stealing other toddlers’ stuffed animals and trodding upon each other. You can tell which I was paying more attention to. Storytime isn’t really for the moms. I can put in a few more years. It’s good people-watching, in any case. I like seeing the mothers trying to match up who belongs to whom–the accusing glances–is that your kid wreaking havoc and disaster while you browse the stacks? My kids were angelic, so I could feel all superior and successful–temporarily, of course. Parenting has a way of keeping one humble. See below.

Went for a run yesterday after supper. So so so good for the soul. I’d had a pretty magnificent meltdown mere hours before (see above re staying humble) when I’d tried to lie down on the couch before supper and was instantly swarmed and fought over by my children, which I tolerated for about fifteen minutes before essentially losing my mind, hopping off the couch, and literally running out the front door. On my way out, I accused Kevin of something (he was there–I didn’t leave them alone in the house), can’t quite recall what. Terrific. Fabulosity. As I stormed out the front door wearing crocs and socks, I realized our neighbours were on their front porch across the street, so I tried to look as though I weren’t muttering to myself–as though I weren’t Running Away. Walked with fake calm to the back of the house and stood in the yard for about two minutes. I felt like my children were saying–legitimately–“You don’t give us enough!” And I wondered–maybe I really don’t. I’m out in the kitchen baking for school lunches, cooking supper, washing dishes, and no, not being with them at all. You know, just being, being with them. 

Worse, the guilt. Because all I really wanted was to NOT BE with anyone, children included, and NOT DO anything. Two minutes elapsed, I returned inside, still upset, now angry with myself, still tired, with all the afternoon chores still waiting to be done. So I listened to Stephane Dion take phone-in calls on Rex Murphy’s program, while Kevin ferried the children to the basement to paint. (Vote for Stephane!). Supper got made, school lunches too, supper got eaten, then Kevin said, “Why not go out for a walk?” So I threw on my running shoes and went for a run instead. Thought I’d be too tired to enjoy it, but my body didn’t feel tired at all. It felt like it had been needing to run all week. It felt euphoric. I might try it again tonight after supper. Besides, when I returned home, Kevin had done the dishes, AB and baby CJ were in the bath, and A was washing F’s hair in the shower! Yes, they seemed to survive quite nicely without me. Let that be a lesson to me.

But I must sign off on that note. Because baby CJ is up from his nap and F has been entertaining him in his crib for quite long enough.

Inaugural Car Ride: A Portrait

Supper eaten. Table cleared. Dishes washed. Sun going down. Kids in basement with Kevin, going squirrelly. “When can we go for a ride?” How about now? Children racing back and forth between porch and driveway. “Open the car! Open the car!” Right. Car seats. Children dragging car seats off the porch and toward the car. Children scrambling over each other’s heads to be the first into the new car. Children shouting. Driveway littered with car seats. Kevin sticking car seats into position, Mama changing her mind about who will sit where, Kevin rearranging car seats. Mama incredibly grumpy. Not helping. Finally, seats in position. Mama straps baby in. Baby instantly stops chewing odd-looking odd-textured stuffed duck (where did it come from? why is it suddenly a favourite chew toy, when he’s drowning in options?). Begins screaming. Mama struggles in half-light to fasten straps. Baby screams, with conviction. Children cheer as lowered DVD screen comes to life. Cheer subsides when no movie is instantly forthcoming. Mama snaps final buckle. “Are you going to sit back there?” “I guess so. He’s really upset.” Mama straps self in. Proof that three can sit comfortably in the middle row. Plenty of leg-room. No time to appreciate, as Kevin backs out of driveway, and new uproar arises. DVD has started up, but won’t play. Baby howls. Mama fiddles blindly with controls. “You have it!” But she doesn’t. “I think that’s the right one, Mommy!” But it isn’t. “Try over there!” But she has. Kevin jeopardizes safety to paw around for the remote. The new car has a remote? Baby turning purple with rage. Another cheer erupts. Mama has inadvertently landed on the right button. Paddington Bear begins to play. “I can’t hear it! Turn up the volume!” Mama spoils success by poking more buttons. Apparently volume can’t be controlled in the rear. Kevin fixes volume, nearly runs red light. Baby shrieks. “Why isn’t the movie playing?” Mama lands on correct button again. Kevin hands back remote, pulls into parking lot. “Why are we going here?” Here is Kevin’s office. He’s dropping off supplies for scotch club. We’ve travelled about five city blocks. “I’ll just leave the car running, then? And be right back?” Yes, please come back. Mama plays peekaboo with baby. Moods improve. Eldest son plays with overhead light. Immensely pleased. Baby laughing. Peekaboo a riot. Mama fiddles with remote. Is promptly scolded by children, and tucks device into side pocket where it is likely to be forgotten. Kevin returns. “Well.” “Well.” “Should we just go home?” Drive back five blocks. Mama plays peekaboo with increasingly hysterical baby. Kevin shows off nifty high-tech features, such as rearview camera that kicks in when the vehicle is in reverse. It looks potentially confusing. Isn’t that what mirrors are for? GPS shows car travelling down familiar streets. Kevin risks life and limb to demonstrate how map on screen can zoom in, and then out. Mama wonders whether screen can be turned off. Kevin fiddles around. Then decides no. Vehicle pulls into driveway, parks. Uproar erupts. “Can’t we keep watching the movie?” Children have seen movie approximately five billion times previously. Theme song of Paddington Bear so embedded in Mama’s brain, she finds herself humming it on odd occasions. Too darn catchy. The answer is no. The answer is no! The answer is: it’s time to floss those cavity-laden teeth and go to bed! The answer satisfies few in the audience. Baby begins howling afresh. Children stumble lacklustrely out of new car. Mama and Kevin exchange heartfelt sighs. Family enters home.

Later

Apologies for the naval-gazing in previous post. Usually Kevin gets to suffer those thoughts; and trust me, those are thoughts I go round and round ad naseum, in some form or another, like, sigh, all the time. Years go by and I’m still going round them.

Or they’re going round me.

We have a new car! We are now a one-car family! But we upgraded. This vehicle actually seats seven normal-sized humans, with car seats too, which the minivan only pretended it was able to do. It sat six humans and one Gumby.

Whoops, my hamburger is cooking up faster than expected. Friday! We made it! And I’ve reached my exclamation point quota! My computer will shut me down if I use even one more!

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My name is Carrie Snyder. I'm mother of four, writer of fiction and non-, dreamer, planner, mid-life runner, soccer coach, teacher, taking time for a cup of coffee in front of this computer screen. My days are full, yet I keep asking: how can I fill them just a little bit more, with depth, with care, with light.

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