Kicking the darkness


It’s a PD day, which means the kids are home from school. This is a good test run for summer holidays, and reminds me that if I am to get any work done, I need a PLAN. People need to be put in charge of other people. Ground rules must be set on electronic use, and appropriate snacks, and lunchtime preparation, and clean-up. Ideas must be sketched out for healthy, fun, outdoor, active, creative activities. And all of this must be done in advance, before school lets out at the end of June. I’ve got about a month.

I’ll put it on a list somewhere. The kids are good. They’re older now. They play together. They know how to problem-solve. Some of them can cook. It’s going to be fine.

This has been a weird and wonderful week, and will culminate tomorrow with the launch party for The Candy Conspiracy. But first, our family is going to watch the Canadian women’s team play a friendly against England in the lead-up to the women’s World Cup: tonight! We’re all very excited. This is going to be the summer of family adventures, large and small, while the kids are at ages that make this both possible and fun, and this is our Kick-Off Event. We’ll also be travelling to Montreal to watch the Canadian women’s team play the Netherlands in a World Cup match, and in August we’re all flying out to Sechelt, B.C. where I’ll be reading at the Sunshine Coast’s Festival of the Written Arts. That’s a lot of travelling for our family, more than we’ve ever attempted. We’re home bodies. Plus, it’s really expensive to move six people around this vast country, not to mention feeding them and putting them up. I’m excited that we get to do it.

But that’s looking forward: planning. Planning occupies approximately 75% of my brain’s power. When I’m meditating, I frequently discover that my thoughts have drifted to planning mode. I push the reset button. Focus on the breath. And realize a few breaths later that I’m back to planning, list-making, calendar-imaging, email-composing. Ok, that’s okay, note it and move on. Breath. Breath. Breath.

I was writing about my weird and wonderful week, so let me circle back to a few examples. Example 1: I’ve done two kundalini yoga classes this week, and hope to continue through June. It answers a need. Kundalini yoga challenges me to think differently, to kick the darkness till the light bleeds in, to paraphrase a Bruce Cockburn song, as my teacher did in class yesterday. Example 2: On Wednesday morning, I did a radio interview after the kids were hustled out the door to school, and I got to request a song, so naturally, I went with Blondie’s The Tide Is High. Interview over, I turned on the radio and blasted the tune while dancing around the kitchen. Example 3: Yesterday evening, I put on orange tights, a nice dress, and earrings borrowed by Fooey, and with AppleApple along for the adventure, dipped my toe into partisan politics, by making a speech at an NDP rally. AppleApple, who is already an astutely politically engaged kid, was over the moon: Tom Mulcair shook my hand!, she kept saying, to anyone who would listen. (Fooey’s response: “Who?” Not everyone in this family reads the newspaper quite so avidly.) So, yeah. Amidst the usual busy routine, I’m opening different doors, and welcoming unexpected challenges.

My mom has a favourite phrase that I like: Who knows where this may lead?

Happy weekend, everyone.

xo, Carrie

The proverbial straw
News from obscurity


  1. Lisa

    I have been thinking in earnest about a PLAN for summer, too!

    I’m interested to hear your ideas for healthy, fun, active, creative, outdoor activities when you’ve sketched them out. I remember Apple Apple as being very bright (and I imagine your other three children are, too) — do you find that they’re generally good with finding things to do in their free time over the summer? I have one son who is more of an introvert and really relishes his summer down time for reading and thinking and tinkering with stuff, while my other son is more of an extrovert, never stops moving, and seems to need constant stimulation to satisfy his curiosity. I find it’s tricky sometimes to come up with the right balance of unstructured time (which I really value for encouraging imagination as the cure for boredom) and planned activities that provide learning experiences that the boys crave and might not be able to experience on their own. I’d love to see what your summer plans end up looking like!

    I found The Candy Conspiracy in Chapters this weekend — it’s a wonderful little book! I’m sure many children will be delighted by the way the Juicy Jelly Worm gets outsmarted! 🙂

    • Carrie Snyder

      Hi Lisa,
      For the past two summers, I’ve paid the older kids to babysit the younger ones on weekdays from 9-3, to give me a semblance of a regular work day. The older kids split up the days between themselves as they wish, and in fact Albus is keener to earn money so he tends to want more days. My rule is that the babysitter can’t use electronics while babysitting, or as entertainment for the younger siblings. Babysitter also makes lunch and snacks. I’m planning to do approximately the same thing this summer. I like to brainstorm ideas for activities in advance — library, park, even walking to the grocery store to buy something for a snack, etc. But mostly they hang around the house and yard and play…. So we shall see. I’ll let you know what this summer’s brainstorming list sounds like! And what it ends up looking like in practice. (AppleApple has told me that her personal summer projects are going to be: learn Spanish, teach herself the cello, and practice more soccer foot skills and dekes.)

      PS So glad you like the Juicy Jelly Worm! Thanks for checking it out!

      • Lisa

        Thanks, Carrie, for sharing your system with me — it sounds like a great one! It’s a good reminder for me to encourage my guys to be more independent with things like lunch and snack making over the summer. My default is to just do it because I’m home and can, but they are certainly capable and we would all benefit from more sharing of those responsibilities. There is a lot of just hanging around the house and yard here over the summer months, too, which is a good thing in many ways, I think. 🙂

        I love AppleApple’s personal projects for the summer! She is one amazing girl, that’s for sure. A big congratulations to her for her exciting win in the 1500m!

  2. Kerry

    Love the sound of the summer adventures you have planned for your family. How fun.


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