Election Day, USA

Need to hang laundry because it is bizarrely hot today. Walking home from school this morning, it felt like a pleasant spring day with buds about to burst from the bare limbs of trees, and I thought about Barack Obama. It seems impossible, after this long race, that today has finally arrived and Americans are at this very moment voting in their next president. It’s been George W. for as long as my children have been alive (in fact, I was working at the National Post when he first “won,” and I remember sitting up late waiting on the results, which were so disputed that no one could call it). I hope I won’t have to stay up quite so late tonight.

We talked about democracy and voting all the way to school. I found myself getting quite emotional. There’s almost too much to hope for.

Overseeing a playdate here, and, as mentioned, the laundry awaits. And after that, a cup of coffee. We’re having a beans-and-rice-themed week, so suppers are easy-peasy. Big pot of black beans served with brown rice last night, cabbage salad on the side. Tonight I’ll fry hamburger with a bit of cumin and onions, and serve with beans and rice fried together, lettuce salad on the side. And that will leave me with at least one more meal, likely a bean soup. Best of all, when we eat this simple food, it takes me to another country altogether, back to Nicaragua, where we hope to return again soon.

Tangents Galore

Who does one complain to about the clocks changing? What exactly is this policy and why are we forced to comply? This time change used to be the one I looked forward to–before children, that is. You know, that extra hour for sleeping in? Post-children, I spend a couple of days every year walking around glassy-eyed and frantic from lack of sleep, because BABIES CANNOT READ CLOCKS!!! Neither can almost-six-year-olds. CJ woke at 4:52, by the clock. I managed to keep him in bed for a full hour with lots of nursing, but by 5:52 he was climbing me and Kevin and grunting and playing and having a blast. Kevin kindly got up with him. Somewhere around 6:3oish, AB started shouting, wondering when she could get up. That was the tenor of our morning. And we can now look forward to exhausted children who are staying up an extra hour in the evenings, but waking at the same body-time in the mornings. For at least a few more days. And for what? Remind me? I know, I know, early birds like the morning sunshine; but I like walking home from school while it’s still light out.

Wow. That was not how I’d planned to start my blog. Guess it’s good to get the complaints over with first. Moving on …

We had such a wonderful weekend. The trip to Kevin’s mom’s was not exactly easy (driving late in the evening after the kids had binged on their Halloween candy, and after a full and long week), but once we’d arrived, we were able to relax and not do much of anything. I napped for about two straight hours on Saturday. Kevin and I slept in both mornings, while Grandma Alice managed the four children. It felt luxurious–was luxurious. The kids planted bulbs at Grandpa Jim’s grave. They went for walks. Did I mention all the nothing that I did? Seriously. Nothing. It was the holiday my body and mind had been craving. We buzzed home yesterday, the kids watched movies, CJ played in his car seat (!!!), and at suppertime we stopped at Ben Than (sp?) on the way home, just ducked off at the Cambridge exit and treated ourselves. Of course, Kevin and I spent most of dinner in the bathroom with one child or another, but hey. That’s what makes life interesting. Or something like that. Actually, I’m not sure that “waiting around in bathroom stalls with small children” belongs with the descriptive “interesting,” but it amused Kevin and me to compare notes afterward. If we’d had a stopwatch on the amount of time we’d spent sitting at the table and the amount of time we’d spent hanging around the bathrooms, likely bathrooms would have won. While I was in there with Angus (for the second time), the music system in the restaurant went on the fritz and we were treated to the very loud sounds of a CD skipping through eternity, stuck on the same two notes. This had a very trippy effect in the dimly-lit echoing chilly space that reminded me vaguely of hell’s waiting room (not that I’ve ever been there; just guessing here).

Must stop writing. I’m in tangent-brain. And it’s almost storytime.

Hanging With Kids, Not Hanging Laundry

Food. A neighbour dropped off a bag of sourdough starter batter for Amish Friendship Sweet Bread. I’m now on day 10 of the process, having followed the instructions all the way along, including the rather suspect pouring of a cup of milk into the ziploc bag on day 6–and leaving it sitting on the counter. Seemed wrong, somehow, but I guess that’s why the dough is sour. It smells fantastically yeasty. This recipe calls for two boxes of vanilla pudding, which, as a friend said (Nath) doesn’t sound all that Amish, but there are loads of alternate recipes online. I have no time to bake today, so I’m freezing the lot–it made five cups of starter. The idea is that you give away a cup to three friends and get them started. Sorry, friends. I’m keeping it all in my freezer. Not because I don’t think you’re worthy of Amish Friendship Sweet Bread starter, but because it’s feels too much like a chain letter. If any friend, upon reading this, is inspired to make Amish Friendship Sweet Bread, please let me know, and I will give you a cup of starter.

Our CSA was pleasantly chard- and kale-free on Tuesday. It was the last box, and it will make Tuesdays easier not to have to do pick-up and then clean and store all that food; but I will miss is sorely, too. Kevin picked a great box: lots of squash, another pumpkin, potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbages. I have been baking squash and mashing it with butter and a bit of salt, and it’s divine. Also have been saving some for CJ, who is a fan of tastes beyond barley cereal and breastmilk. He is savouring new textures (homemade bread crusts) and flavours (squash, pumpkin, banana).

It is a gorgeous fall day, sunshine and warming up, but I am NOT hanging laundry outside (or inside) today. I have made it this entire rainy, chilly month without using our drier, but I have three loads that need doing before we leave for the weekend, and I accepted as a smallish revelation the understanding that by not hanging all this laundry I could instead hang out with my kids this morning. And there is already way too much to do. Every once in awhile, economy and environmental considerations are not worth the extra workload. This is one of those times. I am definitely feeling stretched thin … or flattened, somehow, by all this responsibility. So will take advantage of modern conveniences, while they’re still in existence. Does that sound overly apocalyptic?

Aagh, am listening to the “new” CBC Radio Two–and it stinks! Easy listening for the dentist’s chair. Gonna switch to Jian Ghomeshi on Radio One … or try Radio Three. Feel like background music this morning.

Lists

My kids are in love with Eric Traplin. We have one CD called Bubbles and it’s pretty much on every time the kids think to push “play” on the CD player. (And they put the CD back in if I’ve removed it for something I’d prefer to listen to–piano music or the Curious George soundtrack). It’s pretty standard kids’ music, always on at high volume, guitar, drums, piano, cheery upbeat simple tunes. Everyone’s favourite is called “My Superhero,” and it tells the story of a vaguely drawn superhero who has goodness in his heart, is brave and kind, and runs down the hallway saving the world before bedtime. I like that A, despite being a “sophisticated” second-grader who says “su-weet” all the time, dances around the living-room singing along with these truly sweet (innocent) songs.

But anyway, I wasn’t planning on blogging about Eric Traplin. It just happens that F’s turned it on and is dancing around the living-room singing along … in fact, it’s the superhero song.

Preparations. As I said in my previous post, our schedule feels relentless these days, with no time to stop and catch our collective breaths. Or say hello to each other (me and Kevin). And to add to this, we are preparing for a pilgrimage of sorts tomorrow night. Hallowe’en night. Last year, on Hallowe’en, Kevin’s dad Jim died of cancer at around 6pm. The kids had just gotten dressed up for trick-or-treating when Kevin’s mother called with the news (she’d called about an hour earlier asking Kevin to come home as soon as possible, which we were already preparing for). As soon as the news came that Jim had died, I looked at Kevin and said, “We’re all going to go along with you.” But first, Kevin took the kids trick-or-treating. We decided not to tell them until afterward. While they were out, I packed for the trip. By the time they were home with their loot, I’d made necessary phone calls and gotten organized. We explained to the kids what was happening, changed them into pajamas, and drove off into the night–about a five-hour journey. It was an oddly and unexpectedly wonderful trip for our whole family. It felt like an adventure, full of significance and mystery and emotion. We were sad and the two older children had questions about death and Grandpa Jim, but it felt positive, not scary. At the time, Kevin and I almost jokingly said we should make that trip every year, as a way of marking Jim’s passing–making up our own unique and uniquely meaningful family tradition.

So we’re going to try it out. I love the idea, but am feeling overwhelmed by the logistics. Not only is tomorrow Hallowe’en (that would be the point), but the kids also have swim lessons right after school, and Nina’s very last buying club of the year (hopefully not forever!) is tomorrow night, and I couldn’t resist ordering even though it was, frankly, madness to add that in to the packing and the trick-or-treating and the rest of it.

I found this week that I was having greater than usual difficulty organizing myself, and I started making all these lists. I have a list for every day with all the mundane details written out: meal menus, what veggies in the fridge need to be eaten, and all the weird little odds and ends that dance across my brain ever so briefly and if not immediately attended to slip just as quickly away, probably till some three o’clock in the morning moment when “order cheques” is pretty much an impossibility. The lists made me feel slightly more in control. I haven’t put blogging or writing on any list, however. This week I ended up not having any writing day whatsoever. Kevin had a dentist appointment this morning, so I hosted playgroup instead. Then my babysitter cancelled on the afternoon too. Oh well.

Abruptly must end. Kids need their mama.

Snippets

Finding it hard to find time to write this week. The schedule feels relentless. There are so many little odds and ends I want to note and write down in order to remember, but I’m doing it all in my head, never getting my fingers to the keyboard (or a pen to the page of a notebook, for that matter). Baby sleeping poorly, STILL! Last night, we got him down, Kevin left to go back to work late, and I went off to bed–and by 10:30, CJ was awake and screaming and the magic boob had apparently lost all of its magical powers. No go on the nursing; he really wanted nothing, just couldn’t settle and sleep. I let him cry for twelve long minutes in his playpen, tried nursing again, nope. This went on. I almost called Kevin to beg him to come home and walk the kid around, but eventually CJ fell back to sleep in our bed, with me patting his back. And there he stayed all night, nursing on multiple occasions. The magic reappeared at around 1AM.

Our last CSA box will be picked up tonight. I’m guessing: beets, chard, beets, chard, beets, chard, a carrot or three, potatoes. In fact, in preparation for this arrival, I am boiling up all the beets to be found still huddling in our fridge. It’s my Tuesday clear-the-bottom-drawer boil-up. Except there’s still last week’s chard. Oh, and kale. Forgot to add kale into the mix. There’s bound to be some of that too. I can’t possibly eat it all myself, and no one else will, so it sits sadly in the fridge waiting patiently, growing weak and weary and all dried out and shrivelled.

Was supposed to write on Monday morning, but woke up unprepared and decided to run errands instead and go about a regular day. It was fine, but I do miss it. Still, the writing day really only works when I can string more than two or three hours together at a time. It’s just exquisite torture otherwise. Just enough time to get into something, never enough time to finish it. In fact, I’d say it takes about two hours to get chugging, like the brain is finally up to speed and connections are being made lightening fast, ideas stringing together, words flowing and dancing, and it’s just cruel to cut it off at that point.

Must cut this off at this point, however, because it’s F’s music class at the Beckett and we are leaving in about ten minutes, and I have to wake the babe and change his diaper and toss everyone into warm clothing. Hopefully CJ will be cheerier today, having had (a portion of) his nap before the class. He’s less and less easy to entertain for an hour in a bare hallway, waiting. I think the teacher likes us to stay in case there’s an emergency bathroom break, but maybe I could sneak off for part of today’s lesson and grab a coffee and a treat from City Cafe bakery just up the street. That would just about make my day.

Sunshine this morning as we walked to school, very very cold, but brilliant and beautiful colours that lifted my spirits. Now we’re back to grey. My least favourite colour. My least favourite mood.

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About me

My name is Carrie Snyder. I'm mother of four, writer of fiction and non-, dreamer, contemplative, mid-life runner, coach, forever curious. I'm interested in the intersection between art and spirituality. What if the purpose of life is to seek beauty? What if everyone could make art?

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