Category: Kids

Just the stats

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my office: picture me behind that window

Words written yesterday: 2,421.
(includes 674 words written last night after I should have been in bed)
Word total for book: 81,861.

Happy dances: 0.
High fives: 0.
Early morning run with friend: 1.

Scenes left to write: 3.
Scenes left to rewrite: 3.

Piano lessons to ferry children to: 2.
Swim practice to ferry child to: 1.
Soccer practice involving husband and son: 1.

Supper plan: ?
a) noodle soup
b) hummus with ?
c) pasta with red sauce

Emotions: clouded.

Because: I’ve been here before, on the precipice of done.
Because: I know that done does not equal done.
And yet: I’ve brought this book this far.
That’s something.

I honour the effort.

Word goal for today: 1000.

And … GO!

Personal bests

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Day two of swim meet. Day two of early rising, despite it being the weekend. Day two of coffee cup, snow melting off boots in over-heated environment, crammed-together hard bench seating, trying to read for poetry book club (The Book of Marvels, by Lorna Crozier).

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Day two of trying to get her attention, and waiting for her races.

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Last race of day two. 50m freestyle. Lane 6.

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She doesn’t love the sprints. She thinks she’s more a natural endurance swimmer. She’s behind at the turn.

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But she powers home to win the heat in her best time yet: personal bests in every race this weekend. Swimming is all about personal bests. It’s set up like a race, yet according to my girl you can’t really see the other swimmers around you, and have little sense of where you are positioned. It’s not like running on a track where tactics come into play, along with strength and speed. You’re basically just going as hard as you can in your own lane. It’s a very individual sport.

I can’t say I’m a convert, exactly, after these past two days. It’s a lot of waiting for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. I can’t appreciate the technical abilities of the swimmers, having none of those abilities myself, and being unfamiliar with the sport. And I don’t really enjoy the rush of adrenalin that I get when I’m watching her race — it’s very intense, almost embarrassing. I care too much! I am seriously shaking immediately after her races. Do other parents respond like that?

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cinnamon raisin bread

I came home and baked four loaves of regular bread, and four loaves of cinnamon raisin bread. We ate a loaf of fresh bread for supper last night with split pea soup. I baked the cinnamon raisin bread after supper — heavenly smells in the house, and everyone was excited to wake up and eat it for breakfast this morning.

*

I also played an indoor soccer game yesterday. But I did not go for a long run. I’m realizing that my weekends are very squeezed as it is … and maybe I’m just too tired by the weekend to add in that extra element. I try to make room for so many different activities, but there are limits, and I’d rather go with the flow and enjoy and appreciate all of the things I’m getting to do, rather than getting down on myself for those additional wish-list activities I just can’t seem to shoehorn in.

Swimming studies, early morning, girl in green

go!
First race, 100 metre breast. Takes 9 seconds off her best time.

girl in green at 25 metres in the 100 m free
Second race. Girl in green approaches 25 m turn in the 100 m free.

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Girl in green opens lead at 75 m turn in the 100 m free.

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Girl in green cruising to win her heat in the 100 m free. Takes 20 seconds off her best time. Mother too excited to hold camera steady.

“I just wish I could swim every night for two hours.” {which she did over the Christmas holidays during her club’s training camp}

Problem solving

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“I woke up early, so I just laid there and did math-es.”

“Oh? What math did you do?”

“I was doing the pluses.”

Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton

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Nothing very exciting is happening here. It’s the last day of freedom before school starts (that is my 11-year-old’s take, anyway). Swim practice was cancelled. Soccer is on (one game in Mississaugua, hers; another in Cambridge, mine). Soft wet snow is falling in quantities voluminous enough for the building of snow forts.

I went for my first long run of the year yesterday — 15km, which is pretty short by long run standards. It felt easy, and I went slow, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I spent a few kilometres sorting out structural details for the new book, and I spent the rest of the kilometres kind of thinking about absolutely nothing, except for running itself. The discipline and routine of an athletic pursuit seems to keep me happy, grounded.

I’ve been reading Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton, utterly fascinated at the glimpse into how a young person can be shaped by the rigour and routine and discipline of participating in competitive sport. This was not part of my growing up experience, although I suspect my personality would have been well-suited to it. It might have made my teenage years easier too — a safe place into which to pour those wild energies and the longing for devotion, purpose, “specialness,” which Shapton writes about. But what happens to the athlete who, despite great discipline and effort, does not achieve her original goals? By the age of nineteen, Shapton knew she would never make Canada’s Olympic team, despite intense devotion to her sport. There are limits that we all have to confront. If you’ve devoted five to six hours a day, six days a week, for most of your teenage years, training for a race you’ll never get to race — what then?

Well, I suppose there could be a sense of aimlessness. Or perhaps, instead, you find ways to transfer your disciplined routine to other aspects of your life. Shapton is a very successful writer, artist, and designer. This is not something that just happened, I am sure of it.

I have more to say on the subject, but will have to leave it here for now. I’m off to a soccer game with a child, aged ten, who seems inclined to pursue competitive sport one way or another, who thrives on disciplined routine, and who can’t wait for school to start tomorrow. I wonder, as I read this book, whether I am reading a story that might in some way be hers, in the years to come. I wonder, as I read this book, how my child will be shaped by her participation in competitve sport, with the demands on her time and energies, and the pressure to perform.

Being here, now

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She actually managed to lose the second of her two front teeth on Christmas day, prompting me to sing the few lyrics I could recall to that joke song from years past. And then we went and lost the damn tooth during the Christmas cleanup. I offered $2 to whomever could locate it, but despite determined looking it was gone. But she had a solution: she wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy. “I loosed my tooth and can’t find it. I think the dog eat it.” Funny thing is, she’d written a note to Santa the night before, and left it in a box along with a gift for Santa: a photo of herself, several years old, taken with Santa himself. Oh, my heart.

Both Santa and the Tooth Fairy wrote back.

angel food cake
Yesterday was my birthday. Somehow these things seem to come around with greater frequency than they used to. I spent some time, the night of December 28th, looking through the journal where I write and reflect every “birthday eve.” This is a strange year for me. In years past, this has been a time to search my heart, to look ahead with wishes and hopes and anxiety, too, anxious to find my way, hoping to identify new projects that will pull me somewhere else. This year, I feel as though I’m confidently walking a path of my own choosing, and that my only hope is to continue along this way.

I have big plans for this coming year, yes, but the plans are simple, straightforward, and already in motion. Nothing new or high-concept here.

* I’ve finished a very rough first draft of a new book and will devote my work time to making it into a book worth reading — and publishing.

* With my friend Tricia, I plan to apply for Canada’s version of The Amazing Race, admittedly a long shot, but hey, what’s life without the occasional crazy gamble.

* I will continue to squeeze in regular exercise, in whatever forms make sense (ie. solo runs or classes with friends or team sports). Reflecting on those birthday eves past, I find it quite possible to believe that finding my physical self has been the change of greatest significance to my life, in ways both obvious and subtle. It’s been a slow and steady process of change that started with a simple yoga class, attended on my birthday three years ago. I truly believe that a well-spring of confidence, energy, and trust bloomed out of that single moment, as I built (and continue to build on) the discovery of my inner athlete:
1. the bliss I felt when I completed races, at distances that had seemed impossible only months before
2. my amazement at my ability to set tough goals and perservere
3. the steadiness of routine that I now rely on to keep my mind open and emptied of clutter
4. the embrace of my competitive spirit — seeing it as positive (ie. motivating, creative) rather than shameful (ie. grasping, self-promoting)

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So, yesterday, my birthday, was sweet and lovely and low-key. Instead of going to a yoga class, this year I lingered over breakfast, and stayed home and read Pippi Longstocking to my kids. I walked in the snow. I had lunch with a friend. I shopped for some new clothes (ie. the sweater I’m wearing, above), and managed not to buy anything in black, brown, or grey (almost — there was a little black dress on sale for $11 that I couldn’t resist). I arrived home to discover Kevin baking an angel food cake from scratch — my favourite! The kids sang me happy birthday, I blew out candles, we ate dessert before supper. I drove my daughter to and from swimming.

And then I got dressed up and went out to dinner with Kevin and we splashed out on margaritas, and savoured the loveliness of being right here, right now.

Hello, new year.

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