Category: Siblings

A series of unfortunate events

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I’m writing this post in bed, because it’s bedtime, and because I can, thanks to my precious and much-appreciated laptop. On a day when I spent five hours driving children around to their various activities, waiting outside of their various activities, and folding laundry during the down-time, I just feel like writing before bed, please. (I also spent at least an hour this afternoon watching Canada play Latvia in an Olympic hockey game, while live-texting results to my brother, who was in a meeting, so I really shouldn’t complain about time wasted.)

I want to tell you about the worst hour in recent memory, which happened yesterday evening, just upon arriving home from AppleApple’s soccer practice. I’d made advance plans to meet my siblings for a drink, basically as soon as I’d arrived home from AA’s soccer practice, and I was really looking forward to sharing a pitcher and catching up, as some of us haven’t seen each other since Christmas, and also because the day had started rather on the wrong foot when a dog made a deposit in the front hall, which I stepped in without realizing, and then tracked around the house in the dark, while up at 5AM to take AA to swim practice. Which meant that when the deposit was discovered, in the light of day, to have been tracked all around, I was on my hands and knees cleaning it up before breakfast, which put me in rather an unpleasant mood.

Suffice it to say, I was looking forward to that pitcher of beer with my sibs.

We pulled into the driveway. Kevin appeared rather mysteriously from the back yard, looking a bit perturbed. “What are you up to?” I asked, still, in my imagination, about to depart.

“DJ seems to have escaped,” he said.

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“And DJ’s so dumb!” Fooey said worriedly. “She won’t know what to do!”

Well. The panic began. Children circled the house, calling for DJ. I thought I heard her collar jingling. We searched the snow forts in the back yard, the garage, all the rooms of the house. It seemed apparent that she had indeed escaped, likely through the back gate which had been difficult to close with all this snow. The pitcher of beer began to fade, along with the plate of nachos I’d conjured up to accompany it. I decided to eat a leftover baked potato while Kevin drove off to widen the search. AA and Fooey ran around outside awhile longer, then they both came in and AA announced that she was putting on pants. She was still in her soccer kit. Pants sounded like a good idea. She popped in again not long after to say she was going “that way.”

Kevin drove up, no dog.

“Where’s AA?” he asked.

I thought she was in the front yard, or maybe around the corner. But no. Apparently, she’d gone further afield. And that’s when the real panic began. Kevin headed out in the truck, again, this time to look for our lost daughter. She is 11, I reminded myself.

“But she has a terrible sense of direction!” Fooey reminded me.

I gave her twenty minutes, and then I called the police. Perhaps an over-reaction, but it was dark and growing late, and cold, and my kid had left the house in soccer cleats, in an emotional state, and she hadn’t come back. I was kind of losing my mind, actually. Meanwhile, a couple of my sibs turned up and offered to drive around looking for AA, too, even though the snow banks were so high that no one driving by could spot either a child or a dog on the sidewalk anyway. My sister confided later that she thought, “We’re going to be driving around looking for AA, and we’re going run over DJ.”

Kevin’s texts had ceased.

The kindly dispatcher did not berate me for permitting my 11-year-old to search by herself for our lost dog in the snow after dark while wearing soccer cleats. Or that I couldn’t manage a detailed description of her coat. Or I didn’t know the colour of my lost daughter’s pants!

The back door whammed open. There was AppleApple, in tears because she hadn’t found DJ. I let the dispatcher know that the search was off (sorry, DJ).

“I couldn’t find DJ!”

“It’s not DJ we’ve been looking for–it’s you!” I told her, to her complete astonishment. She’d been so focused on searching (and of course she knew that she was perfectly fine) that she had no idea she’d been gone for a good half an hour.

Meanwhile, Kevin was slow to return. Turns out, he’d gotten into a small car accident on a side street. Yeah, it was that kind of an hour.

But the thing is, all’s well that ends well. AppleApple came home, safe and sound. The truck suffered a minor paint scrape that’s purely cosmetic. And not long after, a woman called to let us know she’d found DJ. In fact, she’d picked up DJ not far our house, probably within minutes of DJ’s original escape. DJ, who is not known for her arresting intellect, was crossing the street. (“And she’s colour blind, so she can’t even see when the stop lights are green or red!” Fooey noted.) Kevin and the girls went to pick her up, halfway across the city. DJ responded with typical DJ-ness to the arrival of her relieved entourage: she was largely indifferent, but agreeable to riding home in the car (she loves riding in cars). It appeared that she’d been nicely brushed during the interlude.

But I heard all about this later because I’d left with my siblings for that pitcher of beer. Which at that point seemed hardly sufficient, although it had to do. I was too tired for genuine debauchery. And my brother Cliff is the father of a four-month-old who rises at 5:30AM, so he was too tired, too. And my brother Christian had to leave as soon as we arrived for a soccer game. So it wasn’t quite what it was going to be, in my imagination, and I didn’t bother with the nachos. But it was still a good ending as far as I’m concerned.

Getting what you want

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Need a back rub? Consider this simple and inexpensive way to ease sore muscles. It’s all in the toes, apparently.
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Your siblings will fight for a turn. You might even get some extra help from the dogs, whether you want it or not.
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Want the latest in video gaming technology? Try researching it obsessively, reporting in minute detail to your parents (who don’t always appear to be paying attention), conversing for weeks about nothing else, and, if all else fails, purchasing it for yourself with your summer babysitting money.
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Enjoy the fruits of your labours. (I know I do: evidence, above.)

Jump in, no life jackets

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one of the ways she reminds me of me

One son this morning refused to wear a coat or mittens (it was -1C when he left the house). The other son, even grumpier, declared he didn’t want to go to school today. “You don’t have a choice! Now put your backpack on and get moving!” That wasn’t me speaking, it was my younger daughter, who has developed certain characteristics I find awfully familiar. I felt for them both. Neither one had a choice: she didn’t want to walk him, and he didn’t want to go. It cheered both up when I offered to walk along. Who knows what I’ll manage to get done today anyway. It’s been busy and I’m tired. Good busy, but I’m still tired.

I’m going to catch you up, which may, frankly, be exactly all I manage to get done today. This post will have a lot of photos.

paella night
paella night

Let’s begin with paella night, which was exactly as fun as I knew it would be, and maybe even more tasty. I do have the best siblings around. My brother Christian was the chef. Our version of paella packed in every meat and seafood we could think of. At one point, I realized I was eating a delectable mouthful that included chicken, pancetta, and chorizo, and probably a tiny clam, too. We drank red wine, cuddled a new baby, and quizzed each other hilariously from a Trivial Pursuit game, Canadian version, that appeared to have last been updated in 1996. I don’t think anyone napped or googled.

paella

Yesterday, Kevin and I were off to Toronto, as soon as the kids left for school. Our new car is so comfortable. It’s so luxurious. It has seat-warmers! I kind of hate how much I love it, but I do. Kevin drove. Traffic was unexpectedly light. I took photos.

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the escarpment, in passing

I met my agent, Hilary, at her office, which I’ve never actually visited, although she’s been my agent for nearly a decade. I signed some important papers.

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very important papers!

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me and Hilary

We posed for a photo. Hilary tried not to make me look short.

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me and Hilary, take two

I told her to go ahead and stand up straight. I am short! Also, she’s very tall and was wearing heels. This photo cracks me up. When Kevin first glanced at it, he thought it was a picture of AppleApple (ie. a child standing beside an adult). This is exactly how I feel sometimes on the soccer field, I must admit.

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Then Kevin dropped me off at the Anansi office, which feels very familiar to me now. Our small party headed off to a restaurant nearby for lunch.

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I was very geeky and hauled out my gigantic camera and lens to take photos. Above, my US editor, Claire Wachtel of HarperCollins, my Canadian editor, Janice Zawerbny of Anansi, my Dutch publisher, Jacqueline Smit of Orlando, and my Canadian publisher, Sarah MacLachlan also of Anansi. Mostly, I just listened, ate a very good turkey sandwich and french fries, and enjoyed a glass of champagne. Mostly, I was just amazed at the places Girl Runner has taken me already, at the connections made.

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angel

More news to report, and another meal to add to the menu: the rights have sold in Sweden! To Albert Bonniers Forlag. I said to Kevin on the drive home that it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything I can take credit for, in terms of these sales everywhere. I wrote a book. The result is weight lifted, and lightness of heart, but what I really want is to write another, and another, and another. We arrived in Waterloo in time to see our oldest walking our youngest home from the school bus. It was slightly heart-melting.

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stroopwafels

For an after-school snack, and to cheer up one small boy who did not want to go to swim lessons (but who had no choice), I cracked open the tin of “stroopwafels,” which Jacqueline had brought with her from the Netherlands, and which the kids called “waffle cookies.”

And then we went to swim lessons. And even though he had no choice, CJ loved it, and couldn’t stop talking afterwards about how he jumped into the deep end without a life jacket, and treaded water for 15 seconds, by swinging him arms like this, and pretending to ride a bicycle. I didn’t tell him that when I saw him jumping into the deep end without a life jacket, and his teacher not exactly in arm’s reach, I held my breath in genuine fear as he went under, and almost couldn’t believe it when his little goggled head popped up again and he swam to the side and pulled himself out. “I think you actually love swim lessons,” I teased him on our walk this morning, as he continued to regale us with tales from the lesson yesterday. He grinned sheepishly. And then Fooey admitted she feels the same way sometimes: really really really doesn’t want to do something, and then discovers while doing it that she loves doing it. I figure it’s my job to keep reminding them. Just like it’s my job to walk along sometimes: my job, and my fortune.

Today

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Today was a good day.

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We had a birth in the family. As of 9:40 this morning (Friday), my brother and sister-in-law are parents of a gorgeous baby boy. I got the phone call at 4:15 AM, and went over to help doula for the birth, which happened at home, in a warm and calm space, almost peacefully, I would say. There are lots of beautiful and memorable things that I get to do, and this is one of the most extraordinary. Being witness to the birth of new life.

I’m getting weepy just thinking about it.

Maybe also because I’m running on slightly less sleep than usual. And because my little brother is a papa.

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I’d promised not to disturb the new family this evening when stopping by to pick up the camera I’d forgotten, but there was a new baby in the house. The kids so so so wanted to meet their cousin. He wasn’t even eleven hours old yet, we calculated. They squealed in the car on the ride home over the cuteness, the tinyness, the babyness.

Today, a good day. A breathtaking day.

The peace of dogs

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paw in hand

First day of March break.

With the sounds of sibling irritability yowling in the background as I write this — “Where’s my hat? Who took my hat? WHERE’S MY HAT?” “Don’t push me away so I can’t go to the bathroom!” [crying] “Go away! Go away! Get out of the kitchen!” “It’s not your kitchen!” “Yes it is!” “Where’s my hat?” — I’ll pick out the good things.

Like the doggie-sister love, above.

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P.S. I’m adding a post-publication, end-of-day extra list of good things this first day of March break has held. It’s been a lovely, lovely day, despite the occasional howls and yowls.

* I slept in.
* I cleared away every last stack and pile of paper that has been accumulating on every flat surface for the past couple of months. I kid you not. Huge project, DONE!
* I vacuumed.
* Just when Kevin and I were wondering what we’d feed the kids for lunch, my mom arrived with offerings from the market, and so we had hot dogs on fresh buns; and then we ate market-fresh chicken drumsticks for supper, marinated in yogurt and Indian spices, along with Indian-spiced rice, and green salad. And a glass of wine.
* I ran 15.5 quick km in gorgeous afternoon sunshine, watching the snow melt, with my elder daughter beside me on her bicycle.
* I finished two books, and updated my ongoing 2013 reading list: see here.
* I felt like I was on holiday. So did everyone else. And tomorrow I get to play soccer!

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