Before Lunch

By their very nature, these posts have to happen during brief lulls, which makes it seem I’m permanently at the computer, the kids in the other room, baby on blanket, crafts this morning, et cetera. And I’m not. Honestly. If there’s any one secret about parenting four kids, it’s this: it’s a lot of work! Prepare to have your life completely overtaken by work. Prepare to have laundry permanently in all stages of done to undone: dirty and piled on the basement floor, in the machine, on the clothesline or drying rack, in the basket waiting to be folded, folded in the basket and waiting to be put into drawers. It’s never ending. And that’s the laundry part. Consider the food part. The scheduling part. The hygiene part. Eighty nails to clip each week, my own not included. And through it all the breathing and the genuine calm which I find (most of the time) to get us all up and over the bumps and falls and unexpected turns.

Every day is an adventure. I feel myself constantly called on to excel, to dig into depths of strength previously untapped. It’s full-body and full-mind exhausting, and empowering. Just to make it through the day.

This morning we had friends over to play. Next up: lunch (leftovers? something on just-thawed loaf of bread?). Then dance camp for AB, 5 years, and so in love with dancing. This afternoon is her special last-day performance. I’m taking the other kids to spend the time in between drop-off and recital to Grandma’s house to play (me too). Grandma’s coming to the recital too. Then we pick up our weekly installment of food from the buying club, an amazing weekly event conceived and organized by my friend and neighbour, Nina, who is obsessed with local food and farming and farmers and has a total calling for this work. We are endlessly blessed by her obsession, and it has made eating local very easy. Her latest success is arranging for local pasta to be made with local wheat. She even has local farmers growing hard wheat so we can make almost completely local bread. I’m thawing a package of local hamburger for our supper tonight; again, from Nina’s buying club. Sometimes our fridge runs a little low on supplies, but I’m trying to make do till the next buying club or CSA box.

Still watching the Olympics. Canada has yet to medal, but I don’t really care. It seems so pleasantly Canadian, somehow. All these hard-working dedicated athletes breaking personal bests … how could I possibly be disappointed by their efforts? It feels like I’m not alone in that support, and that’s what I LOVE about Canada.

Okay, time to heat up leftovers, slice bread, call children to eat!

Soccer Evening

Okay, this is way too easy to do. I sense an impending addiction. It’s like being able to blurt out anything to anyone (or, as the case may be, no one) at virtually any time, with (almost) impunity.

To set the current scene: baby is lying on a blanket on the floor, “talking” (shouting, more like it; he’s got a big voice), surrounded by bits of Playmobil, while the other kids play something I can’t quite make out. I love their imaginary games, though truth be told, they’re too obscure to follow, and seem to rely on repetition: “I’m putting this bed in here, because they have to sleep in here.” “But then there is no door.” “This is a door.” “I have to pack up all your jewels.” “Okay.” Enhanced by incredible engine noises from A, age 7, and always but always the loudest child anywhere. Not because he’s shouting but because of his sound effects, which he’s been performing since infancy. Airplanes roars, explosions of all kinds, motors, engines, robots. He seemed to come by his repetoire instinctively, before he could have known what noise a car would make.

I wasn’t going to write about the kids. Much.

Anyway, that’s the scene, and I’m on the computer in the kitchen (bad placement for someone prone to check more often than she should), and there are dirty dishes on the counter, pots unwashed, leftover supper food just put away (pasta, with almost entirely local homemade sauce and salad; cherry tomatoes from our driveway garden!), and Kevin’s off to play his weekly soccer match. Let’s hope he comes home uninjured. (Black eye a couple of a weeks ago. Ouch). The Olympics are on in the background, too. And I’m about to floss the kids’ teeth, one by one, with them lying on the couch with their heads in my lap. All of the ones who have teeth.

Updated Writing Morning

I am being driven crazy by my Mac. Computers are giant time-suckers. I should be writing with a pen and paper … if only I could read my own writing.

But really it’s just been a frustrating writing morning. Nursing interruptions, and poor focus. I’m working on a poetry collection that I’ve been working on for FIVE YEARS. Good grief. It’s mainly about young motherhood and maybe someday I’ll be done. Or have produced enough poems that I like at the same time to attempt to publish them. By which time I’ll no longer be a young mother. Really, I’m not a poet, I’m too drawn to narrative to write really fine poems, which need to be seeded with the mysterious, the spiritual, the hidden and only partially revealed, not plot.
Ear plugs in. I rewrote a few old poems, with some success. Will post one here, if my internet connection doesn’t fail me.
Or not. Just tried and it looked … well, disappointing. Haven’t figured out how to move pictures around so they look pretty and don’t interfere with text. As a former newspaper copy editor, I don’t want to publish something that looks subpar. Oh well.
I have three hours a week right now to write. I’m down to my last half hour of the week. I’ve rewritten a couple of poems and started this blog. I think I’ll be heading downstairs feeling distinctly disappointed, restless and aimless. Kevin’s had a hard morning with the kids. There has been a lot of conflict. Right now the kids are in the room next door “cleaning” up the girls’ room and Kevin is in and out of my working space with the baby in a sling, my working space being the changeroom/toyroom/soon-to-be-baby’s-bedroom/my computer on tiny computer table; and now Kevin is speaking with great frustration to the kids: “This is worse than before!” Time-outs and threats and warnings. We have four children ages seven down to four months, two boys as bookends, two girls in between. It feels, today, like I’ve been unable to shut out the mundanity and get to work.
Okay, resolve for next week’s writing day to go better. Next week I will start a new story instead. I’m afraid of the new story, that’s today’s real problem. I’ve written two in a collection that was previously a novel, and it’s material almost too close to my heart, and too painful, and I am terrified of failure. That makes working on it with any level of success very difficult. Requires more bravery than apparently I’ve got today.
Ear plugs out. Sigh.

Writing Morning

So this is it. Publishing as I type.

I haven’t yet decided on a focus for this blog, and that seems to be what makes good blogs great. Should I write about my children? My personal life? People do. I’m so much better at fiction, that I wonder whether this blog will just shrivel and die before it has the chance to develop into anything. There is a distinct possibility that will happen. When I write, on these writing mornings, I’m honing very particular material into a very particular shape, and this feels oddly shapeless. Even the word “blog” sounds flabby and indistinct. Blah blah blog.
I’m defrosting my second freezer today. That’s my adventure in local food for today. Starting my writing morning by packing the first (now defrosted and cleaned) freezer full to the brim with packets of beans and strawberries and rhubarb, so that I can unplug the second before I need to fill it with the rest of this summer’s offerings. No tomatoes yet, and I like to put up a lot of tomatoes.
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Welcome to obscurity

The best place to be, if you don’t mind the noise, chaos, and residual crumbs. It's just like my real house. Come on in. Here, find everything that occupies and distracts this Canadian fiction writer. Your comments are welcome.

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About me

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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