Category: Writing

I’ll Write It Up


Today’s “Cabin Fever” column is on best picture books for the holidays. This was a fun one to research and write. Like giving me candy. Hand this mama a book, and she’s practically drooling.

ParentDish will be running approximately two “Cabin Fever” columns each week, plus an additional Q&A every other week with someone who is in some way creatively involved with children. My first three interviews have been with: Nicole Dueck, songwriter and musician and teacher, whose kids’ CD is titled Lucky Dog; Elisabeth de Mariaffi, children’s cookbook author, who writes recipes for Owl and Chickadee, and whose brightly-illustrated and easy-to-use book is called Eat It Up!; and Jirina Marton, who just won the Governor General’s Award for illustration for the truly beautiful holiday book called Bella’s Tree.

I am loving my conversations with these creative and thoughtful people.
Anyone know of someone who should be sought out and questioned (in the most polite way possible) for their expertise? I’m thinking an interview with a children’s yoga or dance teacher would be great. Who would you want to talk to? Whose brain would you want to pick?
I plan to use my column to celebrate, explore, and suggest creative, more-with-less family activities that don’t involve screen time.
(Which is ironic, because Albus is beyond desperate to play on the computer, and in fact told me last night that it had been a “bad” day because I hadn’t let him do so. This, after we’d rushed to eat supper by 5, so we could go to the school concert to watch him perform as an elf–AppleApple sang, too–after which we came home famished, ate a second meal, and discovered it was already quarter to bedtime. “Albus sad,” he kept muttering, reverting to baby talk, as he crouched on his floor surrounded by his oceans of Lego. Though, come to think of it, as soon as I found a spare moment to give him a snuggle, and then we all read together on the couch before bed: “Albus happy.” So there you go. I’ll write it up as a column.)

Put It All Together, and Here’s What You’ve Got

Snow overnight. Turning to damp snow by dawn. And by the time I headed up the hill, pushing laden stroller, to meet and steer the walking school bus … well, the substance falling upon us was debatable. One child suggested it was “slush.” Yup, pretty much.
Pushing up the hill through thick unmoving ice-slush? Pretty good work-out. Yet I never seemed to achieve the endorphin rush one achieves following a work-out uninhibited by wailing toddlers trapped in their wet mittens and strapped into a slow-moving stroller for close to an hour. The children were essentially soaked to the bone by the time we reached our destination.
Came home and shovelled the sidewalk. My mitts were wring-able.
Thankfully, babysitter arrived and I got some desperately needed writing time. The new site I’m writing for was supposed to launch on Monday; now it’s scheduled to launch Dec. 17th.
Wrote another book review, this time of A Coyote Solstice by Tom King, with pictures by Gary Clement.
Kevin came home for lunch. Promised that next Wednesday, he’d stay home with CJ in order to spare him the misery of the slow moving bus.
More writing during naptime. Wrote a short piece on baking with children.
Re-read the last story I’ve added to my basically-completed and much-expanded collection. Made some quick edits. I’ve got one more story to write, and then I’m sending the MS to my agent, who has agreed to read it and make a gut judgement–does she think she can sell it, or not.
Decided to drive to school. CJ kept crying “cold, cold,” despite snow suit, mittens, and hat. The wind was sharp. Discovered vehicle was on empty. Dragged pile of children (extra friend included) to gas station for fill-up. Of course, there was a traffic jam. The howls from hungry sad exhausted children were deafening. Hm, this sucks, thought I. Inspiration: send the two big boys into the gas station to buy a snack. Cookies, I suggested, since CJ and chips are a combo that equal choking hazard. They ran in, and by the time I’d filled up, returned, beaming, thrilled, a bag of chips each, and three bags of M&M candies for the others. SIGH. Well. “There weren’t any cookies, so we thought this was a good alternative!” And, really, it was. Everyone was cheered and chocolated, and quieted.
Next up: an evening out with Kevin. Which seems almost unimaginable at this stage of the day, with supper still to make, and children underfoot, and my hair … oh my hair. The soddenness of the morning has taken its toll.

I Don’t Want a Blow-Drier

The itch to write exists. But our week is dull and commonplace. No, that’s not being fair to this fine and worthy week among many. In fact, when I think about it, lots is happening that is good and blog-worthy.

Such as: new haircut! AppleApple’s been taking photos in the evening, which we let her do with the caveat that we may erase all/any–so I’ll have to check out her most recent batch to see whether there’s one of Mama-Carrie-post-haircut-and-pre-last-night’s-sleep, because sadly, I can never replicate my hairdresser’s blow-dried look. It would help to have a blow-drier, I do realize that. But I don’t want one. So I’ll be satisfied with the bed-head version and reminisce till the next cut about what was, oh so briefly, my swingy fresh new “Mom” hair. (Note: Have found and duly posted pic, above, but wonder where she found that chin I’m wearing.)
Which reminds me–Fooey has started addressing her parents on a first-name basis. Such as, “Good morning, Carrie!” Um. And good morning to you, too, daughterly acquaintance.
Also blog-worthy: I have not nursed CJ these past two nights. He’s woken and requested the service, but in my overwhelming weariness and desire to sleep more than two hours at a stretch, I have declined. The first night, Kev was still as hockey, so I went in solo, picked up the lad, explained that we would not be nursing till morning, and that it was sleeptime, and then spent approximately twenty minutes gently laying him back down, and waiting beside his crib (we have a method–he knows the method, and he understood the futility of debating at length). He woke at 7, and I brought him into bed to nurse and snuggle before getting up to start our day. Last night, I sent Kevin in. This was rather more painful because CJ kept yelling for me, and because he woke up poor Albus, who shares his room, and also woke up AppleApple who woke up Fooey. Hello, 1:30 in the morning. But within half an hour, everyone was back to sleep, parents included. And CJ slept till 7, again. With a few extra consecutive hours of sleep caressing my brain-cells, I definitely wake with a greater desire to get out of bed in the morning.
But … must get back to work. Make hay while the sun shines. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Out my window it’s a damp grey. Permanently everlastingly grey. Tonight’s my last class. I’ll miss the outing, but perhaps not the preparation required to make it happen. And … what next? Honestly, I haven’t a clue beyond Christmas.
:::
Just remembered that Nina and I each chose a word of the year last January. I’m pretty sure mine was Imagine. I wonder whether that’s been put into use this year, at all. In some ways, I think, yes, it has. I’ve imagined myself doing different things, and have tried out doing them. But much of what I’ve ended up doing seems to fall from the sky in the form of luck and happenstance. And could just as easily drift away. There’s no anticipating this stuff, and no grabbing it either.
:::
Finally, if you scan down the right-hand side of this page, I’ve added a link to my review of Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean. Through a connection from my long-ago job at the National Post, I’ve gotten work reviewing a couple of books every month for a magazine called Lake Simcoe Living. More reviews coming soon.

Parenting Expert Reporting Live

I have not been a good blogger this week and there’s a reason. The reason is that I have started writing a parenting column twice a week for a new website that will launch in December. I’ll invite you there, when it goes live. Meantime, though there’s no direct poaching of subject matter (well, not in the columns I worked on this week), there is a general overlap between the genres. The columns are polished, obviously, and much more topically focused. But are blog-like in that I’m talking about real things that are really happening.

But I need to continue this blog, and push to find a few minutes here and there (like right now–while CJ “washes” every plastic dish in the house in our kitchen sink while standing precariously under-supervised upon a stool with a revolving seat while juggling lit matches … um, just kidding about that last thing. Please stay calm. And, yes, aren’t I eminently qualified to write a Parenting Column? I find myself muttering that on occasion since landing the gig. Hey, this is a great Parenting Column moment. Parenting Expert over here! Please, nobody look!).

Because I haven’t blogged most of the week, I’ve got an overload of topics on the brain. Such as, how has this return-to-school experiment gone? I’ll tell you. I’m not a student anymore. It’s not part of my identity. It would suck to go back to school for real. It would take some humbling. And a genuine desire to acquire the skills contained within the degree–and to get to the end. That’s the only reason I’d go back. If it felt imperative. I’ve enjoyed stretching my brain, and it’s awfully pleasant to spend a couple of hours away from home every Thursday evening, but, hey, I could accomplish that by going for a walk with a girlfriend, and get some exercise to boot. Also, though he hasn’t explicitly expressed this, I’m pretty sure Kevin is terrified that I might go back to school. This experiment (ONE CLASS THIS TERM!) has proven how hard it would be on the whole family to launch this mother into a new career. It would be a full-family project, and I wouldn’t be the only one making sacrifices. Interesting. Trot over to my Moms Are Feminists Too blog which is where I really should be venting about this subject and discovering creative solutions.

If only I weren’t so tired. Topic four. So Tired. I felt so tired this afternoon it was like being extremely hungry, except insert sleep for hunger. And CJ declined to nap. This took me way back, when, after a night spent up with two kids under two, I’d be so exhausted by mid-morning that I’d try for a brief nap on the living-room floor with Apple-Apple crawling on my head and Albus pulling open my eyelids. Good times.

Well. I have managed to rouse myself in order to cook up a delicious-smelling hamburger curry which simmers on the stove behind me now while light-as-air rice is steaming inside a clay pot in the oven while CJ tries out surfing in a giant wok on the kitchen floor (having safely descended). Some of the things mentioned in the last over-long sentence feel like achievements. Actually, they all do, even the surfing undersupervised (and entirely content) toddler. No one’s going to grade me on these accomplishments, or, likely, even say thanks, but nevertheless … the best moment yesterday was walking onto campus and remembering the warmth of the scene I’d left behind: bean/sausage/endive soup and fresh-baked bread upon the table, which one of the children had set without (major) complaint, my family sitting down to eat. (Though apparently both soup and bread struck out with the two youngest, who dined on cereal instead). Nevertheless. It’s a scene that takes constant vigilance and effort to conjure, day after day; my life. Ours.

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