Just don’t seem to be getting to this virtual typing page as often as I’d enjoy.
Today I tried doing a writing afternoon–really a short amount of time, approximately two hours total–and approached it with the notion that if something got written, that would be pleasant, and if not, it would be two hours of not entertaining a three-year-old and an-almost-eight-month-old. Then I went off on a story-tangent and had a blast. Felt all revived and did not stress about getting everyone ready for the walk to school, or the after-school mayhem. I encouraged the kids to stay outside and play in the snow when we got home, and set baby CJ in the snow, too, with his little sock-mittens. He was enchanted. What is this stuff? What are the big kids up to? Loved it. Then we got cold, so came in for hot chocolate. I had done prep work for supper earlier in the day (turkey broth with noodles, and cornbread and baked squash), so just waited till Kevin got home to do the rest. It felt easier, more pleasant, though we ate a bit later than usual. More civilized. Mama hanging with the kids. I could focus better on their demands and issues and remarks. And Albus even studied for his French dictee tomorrow, which he’d been resistent to doing. I don’t know whether this is good mothering or bad, but I’ve been trying to encourage him to work a little bit in advance–to learn good study habits–and showing him how that little bit of extra effort pays off. Which it has. But the kid has this inborn confidence that he knows everything. I don’t want to shave that off of him; yet also want him to appreciate that hard work can be rewarding. Heck, not even hard work. Just a smidgen of labour. Just copy the darn words a couple of times.
I also got out for a haircut tonight. So it was a day of pampering and luxury, all-around. Then I raced home and washed the rest of the dishes with my fancy new haircut smelling pleasantly salon-ish, and put a tantrum-inclined Fooey into her bed (she was planning for a birthday party for her Pooh Bear tomorrow and had covered the bed in tea cups and plates; and I must mention that Pooh Bear is Poor Bear in name only; it’s a pink filthy stuffed bear with a stocking cap). We had to clear the bed, and I made promises about tomorrow’s party. After we’d kissed goodnight (a kiss-fest with CJ joining in), I heard her whispering to her bear: “Tomorrow’s your birthday!”
Then I hung the laundry that I’d washed first thing this morning. Funny thing, walking to school this aft, I walked with a mom I’d never met before, we ended up talking laundry–and it turns out she’s at least as obsessive as I am about not using the drier. She uses dowling tacked up to doorways, and hangers. I use ugly cheap racks and banister railings. We both have a constant never-ending flow of dampish clothes in progress. It was nice to find unexpected company in this particular domestic peculiarity.
Voice getting worse. I can now barely squeak, which is frankly quite a disadvantage with these children to round up and boss around. Heh. It is very frustrating to have to whisper things like, “Please don’t play in the leaves on the road!”
Baby CJ is playing with Little People and a pink pretty pony, sitting on the floor behind me, and F is having a playdate here with her best friend, but for some reason there seems to be more conflict between them this morning–and I’m having trouble helping problem solve. They just stare blankly at me as I hoarsely murmur, “You need to share with your guest,” and other anodyne suggestions. Last playdate they played for an hour with a couple of raggy Polly Pockets and Polly Pocket debris, alone, without a word of disagreement.
Whoops, I’m losing baby CJ. He is crawling out of the toyroom and toward the stairs. I must figure some way to get him out of our bed at night. Somehow we’ve gotten into this unbreakable pattern of nighttime nursing, after which CJ refuses to go back to his own bed in the middle of the night, but screams and howls till I give in and return him to our bed, which is cozy and warm and has a permanently open snack-bar, so, really, I don’t blame him for wanting to hang out with us. But it’s taking a toll. I’m always waking in awkward positions, not to mention I’m always waking. In my experience, things have to get really very bad before I’m ready to make a drastic change, and my resistance and conviction are extremely weak at 3 in the morning. Downright anemic. I wonder what it’s going to take.
Kiddo has had it. Must change a diaper and try to get him down for a little nap, so we can make some muffins and hang some laundry.
Back. Baby asleep, girls playing beautifully. They just needed a change of scenery–upstairs an improvement on down.
Two tidbits from recent Globe and Mails struck a chord with me:
One was from Saturday’s paper, on cities which have car-free downtown cores (they were all European or Northern European, though apparently Montreal tried it for ten weeks this past summer, and a couple of big American cities are considering it). The planner who initiated this in Norway said that people are happier, more content, when their feet can touch the ground. As someone who has made walking part of our family’s lifestyle, that really resonated. Not that I don’t like a long-distance roadtrip with the iconography that accompanies that kind of journey. But for short hauls, nothing compares to putting one foot in front of the other. That connection to the earth.
The second item was a blurb in the Life section about the pleasures of hanging clothes to dry. It stated that some people (gasp!) actually prefer hanging their laundry to dry, not just because of the energy savings or because they’re eco-freaks, but because the task itself is very satisfying. Yes, yes, yes. Being outdoors, listening to birdcalls, hearing squirrels rustle the leaves, the patient task of shaking and clipping and pushing the line out over the yard … apparently others find this soothing too. Though I just heard on the radio that a mixture of rain and damp snow is in the forecast for today, so I’ll have to make-do with my indoor drying system. Brrr. The walk to school this morning felt a little bit like purgatory, with this chilly wind blowing against us. (Is purgatory cold?) But still preferable to strapping children into car seats, then unstrapping, and still having to run through the bleeding cold wind to achieve the final destination. If you walk everywhere, you’re much better prepared for the weather.
Snacktime now. Buttered bread and apples. And for me, more of my garlic-ginger brew, with apologies to all in breathing distance.
Writing morning. So obviously I’m hanging laundry on drying racks indoors instead, wondering whether I’ve crossed the line from earnest to obsessive. But for this indoor hanging system to work, I have to do a load of laundry every day (in addition to diapers) or else too much piles up and there isn’t room to hang it inside. It doesn’t look great, either, which is another downside to the system. Dampish underthings on racks about the house, with the overspill hanging off chair-backs, and over railings. Welcome, guests. Make yourselves at home. Dry your socks. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, I actually like the new system. Getting the clothes off the racks and into drawers is much easier than getting clothes out of baskets and into drawers.
I’m determined not to blog after my writing day. If it’s been a good writing day, I’m way too interior, and if it’s been a bad one, I’m wracked with self-doubt, either of which results in less-than-pleasant belly-button-pondering. I therefore vow to keep navel under wraps.
On late-night-canning with neighbour friends: I am a sad failure. Though I chopped and seeded half a bushel of roma tomatoes in company last night, I was zombie-like in my need of sleep by 10pm, and left said neighbours stirring a giant vat of tomato puree (with garlic, onions, basil, parsley, and grey salt), estimated cook-down time: three more hours. Actually, they sent me home. Not much point in three people standing around observing the evaporation process. Canning was to take place this morning. Apparently, the saints did decide to preserve on my behalf. The fate of that second half-bushel remains undetermined, though at the very least, I can be thankful it is not waiting mournfully upon my kitchen floor.
Tonight’s debate is: which debate to watch? And why would our broadcasters pit the Canadian leaders against Sarah v. Joe? There will be some channel flipping in our house tonight.
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.
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.
Morning meditation while hanging out laundry. There’s something in this near-daily (seasonal) experience that I find soothing. It’s certainly not laborious, just kind of rhythmical, picking out the pins, shaking out the fabric, hanging, repeat. I stand on the back porch and our clothesline is on a pulley, and the clothes swing out into the yard, under the trees. The air this morning was cool, birds were singing, behind me on the porch baby CJ was talking happily to himself in his gigantic plastic bouncy device (we haul this out of the basement for every baby; it’s ugly and bulky and suitable for only a few months in a baby’s life, but was already used when we got it for baby A, so has served its purpose well).
I’m looking ahead and wondering whether there will be some way to hang laundry indoors when the weather turns. Partly for energy-savings, partly to add moisture to our upstairs rooms, and partly because there’s something that seems particularly wasteful about using a drier to do a job that the air will do naturally, given the opportunity.
Darn, I have a very fussy baby strapped to me in a sling as I type. As usual, thought I’d picked a good “Mommy time” moment, and as usual, Mommy time is, by definition, interrupted time. I should call it something else. Not-Mommy-time, maybe.
Okay, brief pause and she’s back … baby CJ is now sleeping in his playpen; all he needed was a quick nurse to put him over the edge. My thoughts feel very random today and unfocussed, but to add to the laundry meditation, I wonder whether it is actually being outdoors that makes that experience so soothing. Last winter, when I was very pregnant, I went for a long walk every evening around our neighbourhood, (by the end, when I was somewhat-less-than-dainty, I called it my nightly trudge) and it was the first winter that I felt connected to that season in a really positive way. Winter has always been dark, cold, interior; not unpleasant, but more hibernation than actual interaction with the season itself.
Seasons. We’ve entered autumn. I feel my own life on the edge of a seasonal change, from a time of intense focus on babies and toddlers, to something, not quite sure what, else. There’s a Last Time sensation to many of the things I do with baby CJ. This time, the infant clothes have gone into a bag to give away, not back into the labelled boxes I keep in our attic for our babies-to-come. I have that simultaneous tug, forward and back; I’m excited and almost impatient to reach a new stage as a family (and an individual); and I’m nostalgic for what is passing right before me.
Oh, have to mention that my curries turned out fabulously yesterday, despite the spice mix-up (or, indeed, perhaps because of it!). We sat around the table extra-long, savouring the flavours, something for everyone to enjoy. These more formal evening meals have become very important to me, even though it requires more work. We sit longer, we talk, we relax in each other’s company, we eat good food. Not sure what I’ll have on offer tonight. I’m planning a pasta, with topping/sauce uncertain as of yet. I might stir-fry some tofu and whatever veggies arrive in our CSA. It needs to be simple and fast because I’ll be trying to get out the door afterward for some real “not-Mommy-time” with my sibs.
One more random story from yesterday’s truly Monday Monday. F’s Chirp magazine arrived in the mail, so I suggested she read it on the way to pick the big kids up from school (anything to make that stroller ride more appealing). It came with some advertising, including a toy catalogue, apparently more exciting than the magazine itself, so F said baby CJ could “read” Chirp instead. Mama Fuzzy-Brain said, oh lovely, and marched gaily up the hill, meeting up with a friend and fellow parent on the way, and chatting merrily along. It wasn’t till we’d reached the school grounds and I saw a dad glance into the stroller with an odd expression on his face that I thought to check on my babes. Oops. F was sound asleep, and baby CJ had eaten a large portion of Chirp magazine. A few damp papery flecks decorated his cheeks, but I could discover no wad in his mouth. Yup. He literally ate it.
But as with all of yesterday’s Monday-ness, it seemed to do him no harm, and we all came out happy in the end.
And now I need to turn my attention to F and our Tuesday morning ritual of baking muffins together from her very own Toddler Cookbook.
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