No Hurry, No Rush

I’m so appreciative of our new school schedule this year: last year, we had to race off to get AB to senior kindergarten by 1pm every single day, along with taking A first thing in the morning. This year, both kids are in full days, and I love those morning and afternoon walks and chats with the children. And I love, love, love that unbroken stretch between drop-off and pick-up. It means baby CJ gets more time napping in his own crib, and I can plan special activities for F, and it means we can have days just like this one: with no plans at all. And no hurry, no rush.

It means baby CJ can nap for two straight hours, like he did this morning, while F and I bake muffins together (Healthy ones. If these turn out, I’ll post the recipe). It means the two of them can play together in the living-room, as they’re doing right now, without me worrying that we need to stuff lunch into everybody and get dressed up in winter clothes for an unwanted outing. The fate of the younger child is to be dragged along on various outings that benefit other people. Yesterday, CJ was in his car seat, or waiting outside F’s music class, or in the stroller, for two and a half straight hours. He was going mental by the end, and I didn’t blame him. I sent Kevin for the CSA box because I couldn’t bear making CJ endure yet one more errand when all he wanted was the freedom to crawl around on the floor and play. The older kids spent an hour after school at a local history club organized by neighbours who are homeschooling. Having dashed from F’s music class, then home to walk to school, then walked the big kids to the library, then home again–a full hour of walking–I indulged my impulse to do NOTHING, and F and CJ and I played together in the living-room. I read her some stories. She coloured. CJ and I played the piano. It was as lovely as it sounds.

It felt like winter this morning, without snow, but the sun is gorgeous, and I hung out the laundry. I still have no voice. Laryngitis (sp?) is my Achilles heel (to mix metaphors). I miss speech! It feels very isolating. I’ve dug out the humidifier to use tonight, and continue to swill hot drinks, including my ginger-garlic brew. It would probably be best if I could manage not to talk for a full day, but that’s impossible. I have to squeak at these poor children on occasion. And tomorrow I’ve been invited to participate in a dialogue between Canadian and Chinese writers at the University of Waterloo. Apparently the Chinese writers don’t speak any English so we will be speaking through translators. At least it’s not a reading. I am a last-minute fill-in for someone presumably more qualified to attend, because the other Canadian writers are: Wayson Choy, Dennis Bock, and Alistair MacLeod. I was a little bit worried about being such a novice among these other writers, but my greater concern now is that I may not be able to say a word.

CJ is on the move! I just found him standing by the bookshelf. Completely standing! And F would like instructions on how to snap her fingers. Her face is covered with chocolate. The muffins weren’t completely healthy. I ad-libbed.

Baby, It’s Cold Out

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.

Before Storytime

Apparently doubling the recipe changed the proportions for those Ginger Snaps yesterday, and I have to confess, though they weren’t a flop, they were not the usual slightly cakey, chewy cookie that recipe usually turns out for me. Instead they should have been called Ginger Thins. Still very tasty (butter, sugar, molasses–which is cane syrup or sugar beet syrup, apparently; thanks, Nath!). But flat. I could have draped them over something, hot out of the oven, and they would have taken on that shape. I could have made Ginger Cups and filled them with daubs of whipped cream for a fancy dessert. But instead, I filled my cookie jar and freezer with loads of paper-thin flat cookies.

It’s nice to type. I can’t really talk. A cold has been creeping up on me for days and last night I felt it settling in. Do you know that sensation? Sliding down your throat to your lungs, settling in like a damp fog. My voice is particularly vulnerable to colds, and I’m often hoarse for days or weeks–once it was months–at a stretch.

We got to school early this morning. A wanted to play with his friends before the bell. I was able to drop them at the playground and walk home a bit earlier than usual. Today is storytime at the library, but first I’m enjoying a cup of coffee and will hang laundry, change a diaper, nurse the babe, and make a little grocery list because I’m craving orange juice. I also need ginger for my stalwart ginger-garlic tea, which I make whenever I’m sick. Here’s the recipe: a good whack of peeled ginger root, the cloves of a bulb of garlic, peeled and crushed, the juice of one lemon. Boil together in about 4-6 cups of water, then drink with lots of honey. You can also add cayenne pepper for a real kick (I don’t). Or steep a bag of peppermint tea in the mixture at the end to make it a little more palatable. But the weird thing is, it is very very palatable., even without the peppermint. Could be the honey. Don’t breathe on anyone after imbibing, however.

Okay, by my calculations, we have 15 minutes till departure time, and, some mmoments having elapsed since the above was written, I’ve accomplished hanging the laundry, feeding the baby, and (nearly) drinking the cup of coffee. We also read a story while feeding the baby. Who is obligingly filling his pants now, pre-diaper change, rather than waiting till storytime. Go CJ!!

Sunday Afternoon Baking

“Slow as molasses.” It’s funny trying to explain to the kids some of the phrases I use often, but this one is evident as soon as one has any dealing whatsoever with molasses (by the way, what the heck IS molasses??). I’m making a monster batch of ginger cookies, and getting that 1/2 cup of molasses out of the container took, oh, about five minutes. No exaggeration. Drip, drip, drip. And yet the flow was also relentless and difficult to stop, once started.

This is a really good recipe, and makes the most perfect-looking, sugar-studded cookies. My friend Zoe gave it to me, and I thought I’d post it here. It’s been awhile since I posted a recipe. Today, I doubled the recipe below, and plan to freeze about half.

Ginger Snaps

3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together sugar and butter, beat in egg, add molasses (Patience, please!). Sift together flour, soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into butter base and mix together thoroughly. Make small balls (about one teaspoon) and roll them in sugar. Place on pan, leaving enough room for spreading, and bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes.

It’s the most gorgeous fall day and Kevin and kids are outside raking leaves. We didn’t do much yesterday and this morning I found myself fantasizing about hiring a cleaning company to come in and scrub my bathrooms … but instead did a quick clean-up in both, up and down, and left with the girls for Sunday School. The boys stayed home and picked up the living-room (lots of new piles added on top of old ones) and vacuumed downstairs. So the state of the house could be worse. The only task I’ve really set for myself this afternoon is to bake these cookies and make the kids’ lunches for tomorrow. My mom is having us over for supper tonight and I’m very very happy not to have think of what to cook. The thinking of it occupies almost as much time as the making of it.

Oh dear, the smell of freshly baked cookies is being forcibly blown out into the backyard via the stove vent and has attracted the attention of several small people, who are now clamouring and drooling at the door.

A Saturday Without Chores

Quick morning post while the kids are occupied with Playmobil and baby CJ is hopping in his gigantic bouncy device. Guess I’ll never discover a better term for that thing. Speaking of discovering better terms for things, the kids and I developed a pithy phrase to shout after cars which have nearly run us down at intersections: “Patience, please!!!!” So far, that’s not been the first thing out of my mouth in that situation, so I will need to practice.

Today we are discovering what it’s like to have one car. So far, I’ve had the car every time I’ve needed it (two music lessons per week, basically), so haven’t exactly felt the loss of the extra vehicle, but Kevin has to work today (Saturday) in Toronto, so the kids and I really are confined to walking/bus destinations. As we walked to swim lessons yesterday afternoon, we discussed all the activities we could do, and there was a general sense of excitement about not having a car at our disposal. Adventures! We decided to go to the library, partly to pick up another book in the Little House series (actually one I didn’t know existed, Laura’s diary account of the Wilder family’s journey from the Dakotas to Missouri), and partly because the big kids never get to come along on our library excursions, since we usually go while they’re in school. Not sure what else we’ll do. Taking the bus to the children’s museum isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Or maybe just invite a friend or two over. Mostly, my focus today is on not doing too much extra stuff. No bathroom cleaning. The barest minimum of laundry. None of the usual Saturday chores. We’ve already had our groceries delivered. Nina’s buying club was on hiatus this week, so for the second week in a row, we needed groceries. Just goes to show how much we’ve been relying on this local source of food–and how hard it is to purchase and eat consistently local without it.

Okay, baby CJ is not the happiest of souls at present. He’s wanting to climb things, now, to pull to a standing position. He can get himself upright on the first step of our back staircase, and has recently made an attempt to climb the stairs. Didn’t make it far, I’m relieved to report. Desire does not match ability at this point.

Uh oh, it’s getting noisy in those other rooms. Looking forward to a day with nothing extra, I shall sign off here.

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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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