wedding bells

No, not for me, silly. I already made that mistake glorious decision last century sometime.

No, not for me, silly. I already made that mistake glorious decision last century sometime. No, my cousin Shawn (who is the youngest of the Cameron grandchildren, by the way, since my selfish mother wouldn’t allow me to hang on in utero for another four months) was married on May 21 – finally, as everyone felt obliged to tell him. Over and over.  And over. Now we can all start nagging him about when they’ll start a family. It’s good to prepare all this hassling ahead of time.

Here is Shawn and his lovely bride, Nikki:

Gorgeous, huh? Yeah, and Shawn’s okay too. Whatever.

As it so happens, some of my favourite people were also in attendance. People like Shawn’s parents, my aunt Lilianne and Uncle Louis:

 Lilianne has gone through more crap in the last few years than anyone deserves, let alone someone so kind and funny and big-hearted. She’s awesome.

Also awesome is my Uncle Cecil, seen here with my cousin Rachele (yes, yes, she’s awesome too) and my similarly awesome Aunt Viola:

 Vi and Cecil have been married a long, long time now and although Viola is in the grip of Alzheimer’s these days, Cecil looks after her with the care and love of a newlywed.  It’s all so sweet and sad I had to keep helping myself to the wine to maintain my composure. No, not really. My parents were there too and I had to behave set a good example. You know they’d be out of control, otherwise.

Speaking of Rachele (who is Shawn’s sister and my MUCH older cousin – coughbytwoweekscough), here she is with her family and the bride and groom:

 There must be some mistake with this photo because Rachele’s son Joshua, on the far left, is still a toddler (…in my mind…) and his sister, Savannah, beside him, is still a newborn. That’s just the way it is. There is NO WAY this much time has passed and I am this old. Impossible. These holographic images of them from the future are cool, though. Kids are so talented these days. The gentleman in the pink shirt is Rachele’s husband, Robert, and I bet he would like me to add that the pink shirt was not his idea. I believe his exact words were, “It was hanging in the closet, so that means wear it.” Wise man.

Considering Shawn was wearing a pink striped tie, I’d say he’s learning too. I have yet to achieve this level of sartorial compliance with The Boy Wonder, so I raise my (empty again) glass to you, ladies. May we all live happily ever after.

 

 

call me Mommy dearest

Today is the one week anniversary of Mother’s Day, that glorious occasion otherwise known as The One Day of the Year that Figuring Out What to Have for Supper is Not My Problem.

After breakfast in bed – a dicey proposition with three children, two dogs and a cat all using the bed as a combination trampoline/wrestling mat – I opened my gifts, which included:

Felted Fish by Foster.

Cute, isn’t it? He is a craftsman.

Not to be outdone, Charlotte made this:

Felted Perry.

Perry is, of course, Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb:

Perry lives a double life, spending half his time fighting crime as Agent P (as seen above) and the other half posing as an ordinary pet platypus:

Charlotte took pains to make sure Felted Perry included both Agent P’s hat and Perry’s wall-eyed blank stare so I could “play with him either way.” A+ for attention to detail.

Anna presented me with vouchers good for two breakfasts in bed and two “no kids” days – “10 hours max” – because she knows I’d totally take advantage and stretch it out to eleven or twelve hours, given the opportunity. I tried to scan her coupons to show here, but couldn’t get a clear image for some reason. What do you want to bet she produced them with some kind of cutting edge anti-reproduction technology to prevent me from running off dozens of them? Foiled again.

I spent the afternoon with my mother, fending off blackflies as we toured two local gardens. (Sorry about the bites, Ma. I’m sure the scars will heal someday.)

Ooh, look – pretty forget-me-nots:

And a nice rhodo:

And this…thing. I call it flowering quince and my Mom calls it Japonica:

Whatever. You say tomato, I say watermelon.

insert your own snow pun

Although yesterday’s predicted snowpocalypse wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, I’m not going to be one of those people who sneer, “Duh, it’s Canada. It snows. Get over it,” because I understand the advance buzz about these storms makes life a little more exciting and I’m all for that.

We weren’t buried alive in snow, but we did receive a fair amount – I’d guess between a foot and a foot and a half or whatever that is in metric. (Must remember to study up on the metric system soon because I “teach” it to the kids next month. Maybe they’ll know it and can teach me.) Anyway, I can’t gauge exactly how much snow fell because I’m doing all my guesstimating from inside where it’s warm and dry and requires slightly less shovelling.

Exhibit A: snow drift on the deck, taken during the storm yesterday afternoon –

 The table on the right that’s almost covered in snow is quite a tall table, so I’d guess the drift is a good two and a half feet, maybe three feet there. No, I will not go measure it.

Exhibit B – snow drift at front door, taken this morning –

Note the impression of the door panels in the compressed snow. Very classy.

Exhibit C: Murray met by wall of snow at back door, taken this morning –

Poor guy. Nowhere to look but up.

Writing Life

I’ve spent the past week conked out in bed and sprawled across the couch with The Mother of All Head Colds. Flus. Flues. Influenzas. Even though I know better now, I can’t quite shake my childhood belief that if you have a runny nose/sore throat/cough, you have a cold and if you’re barfing, you have the flu. Whatever. I was sick. Unfortunately, I was so sick I didn’t get as much reading done as one might expect considering I was horizontal for 23.5 hours out of every 24.

But I did read this:

Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life. From the back cover: “Provocative, candid, often very funny, personal, and passionately engaged, this inspired collection will take readers deep into the heart of the writing life.”

I love anthologies for the exposure to new voices and always come away with a list of authors to seek out. Seek out their work, I mean, not the authors themselves. Ugh, it’s nice to realize my brain fog hasn’t lifted much. Anyway, this anthology is no different: my love for Lisa Moore and Lynn Coady was re-affirmed and my hopelessly long reading list now includes Eden Robinson, Shyam Selvadurai, Susan Swan and Michael Winter. Of course, anthologies are also helpful in pointing out authors to avoid; if they can annoy, bore or ostracize me within ten short pages or so, I don’t need to suffer through a whole book, thanks.

The other great thing about this particular collection is the topic: writing.  Ooooh. I love a good book about writing. I love hearing about the experiences of published authors, love collecting tidbits of information here and there as if it will somehow help me. I’m a kid again, sitting on the stairs eavesdropping on my older sister and her friends and being impatient to be a teenager too since they obviously had everything cool and exciting and all I had was stupid used roller skates with ugly silver stars on the sides and an eight o’clock bedtime.

I am a voyeur when it comes to writers and want to know it all – the writing schedules, the struggles with confidence, the thrill of success, the reality of making ends meet, the challenge of raising children, the attitudes toward readers and critics. This collection didn’t have a lot of that nitty gritty detail, but I still enjoyed it. Most of it. But that’s the pleasure of a collection, right? It’s like a box of chocolates. Eat the ones you like and pass the rest off on your co-workers.

the most (fill in the blank) time of year

As the kids get older, I find Christmas more and more enjoyable with every passing year. Sure, babies and toddlers are cute and it’s fun to dress them up and watch them scream their guts out on Santa’s knee, but they’re also needy and irritable and poop a lot, none of which are qualities I purposely seek out in friends and companions. This pre-teen age, however, is perfect. They aren’t too jaded or “cool” to be excited about Christmas, they hide themselves away for hours before Christmas to make gifts for everyone and, most importantly, they no longer beg for big, noisy, obnoxious, battery-devouring toys that make me want to hurl them (the toys, not the kids) into the driveway and back over them. Repeatedly.

No, now they want books and clothes and make-up and technology. They want to walk into Future Shop and take one of everything, essentially. Which would be expensive, but still better than having a house that looks like a Toys R Us.

Here are the young revellers, modelling t-shirts and a new tiger hat:

 And here’s Foster, ever-so-slightly pleased with his new Wii game:

And Charlotte (for whom every day is Hallowe’en), cuddled up with Glen in a new fuzzy blanket:

And Anna, trying to put on Glen’s new parka:

See that poor dog? That right there is the definition of resignation. Look at his limp little limbs. Why bother struggling? Just let the giant, pink, tiger-headed girl have her way and eventually she’ll get distracted and move on to something else. Fortunately, he received a ton of new toys and treats to make up for the humiliation.

My birthday, on the other hand, never seems to become more enjoyable. I turned 39 (shriek! how can this be?) on December 28 and my lovely family took me out for Chinese food before bribing me with gifts to continue doing their laundry for another year, then presented me with this:

Cupcakes decorated to look like balls of yarn. How cute is that?

photo dumping

It’s out of character, granted, but I don’t have much to say these days. That is probably because I spend every moment flailing frantically, trying to keep my head above water. I know being busy is better than the alternative and I can rest when I’m dead and all those other condescending (and morbid) expressions people throw in your face after asking how you are and hearing the response, “Busy.”

I don’t say I’m busy because I want sympathy (I chose to take on most of my current responsibilities, after all) or because it makes me sound important (aside from being the only one around here to remember everyone’s birthdays, I’m completely replaceable); I say it because it’s true. I have a lot on the go, too much on the go, and I’m struggling to make it all work. I have the bad feeling something has to give and I’m not sure what that something will be. I’ve already jettisoned exercise, all creative pursuits and a social life, so what next? Personal hygiene? Eating? Sleeping?

So, upon realizing I had nothing to write about except my insane daily schedule, I decided to have a look through the past several months of photos on Anna’s digital camera in the hopes of finding a nice picture or two. What I found was…interesting. Anna’s camera is used by everyone (except The Boy Wonder, who seems to have no desire to prance around taking photos with a tiny, pink camera) and as the photographer gets younger and younger, the photos get weirder and weirder. I’ll spare you the countless shots of Lego constructions, Littlest Pet Shop posters, blurry shots of the dog and deeply unflattering close-ups of the humans. (Most important lesson I learned this afternoon: I have no good side.)

But I did find this:

 Anna took this in our office the other day and I call it, “Forbidden Embrace in Office Supply Closet.” It isn’t in a closet and they’re free to embrace, but I think it adds a little excitement and mystery, don’t you?

Oh, and this:

I took this shot on a home-schooling field trip to Halifax to visit the Museum of Natural History and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I call it “Sullen City Bird.” He agreed to this photo in exchange for a french fry.

And this:

“Bald Eagle Contemplating Small Dog for Afternoon Snack.” This photo was taken by Charlotte, I think. It might have been Anna. I can’t remember, but I’m sure they’ll waste no time in correcting me if I’m wrong.

And continuing the bird theme:

“Outside my Dirty Kitchen Window an Osprey Takes Flight.” Shot by me a couple days ago. Not shot shot.

And then I found two photos, also taken by me, that beg for an expanded collection:

Caterpillar on pavement.

Giant slug on pavement.

How exciting to have a new project.

teacher’s pets

On the off chance anyone cares, I thought I’d give a quick update on what’s new around here.

Update #1:  The kids are now all being home-schooled. Yes, by me. Yes, I am aware I’m not a teacher. Yes, I know they’ll be completely unsocialized and spend the rest of their days living in a cave. Thanks for your concern.

It all started with Foster. He just isn’t a classroom kind of kid. He’s very bright and astonishingly creative, but he’s also quiet and adept at flying under the teacher’s radar. While she was busy with the high-maintenance kids, Foster was busy tuning out everything he found boring (math, in particular) and losing himself in writing and drawing. He needs one-on-one attention to make sure he’s staying on task and a teacher, responsible for 25 kids, can’t provide that. I can. I can also tailor his day so he has more time to spend on his passions. And I can find ways to make the boring stuff slightly less boring.

After a couple weeks of home-school, Charlotte was so jealous of her brother’s new-found love of learning, she started asking to be home-schooled too. We discussed the pros and cons at length and made her think about it for a while and she eventually decided yes, she wanted to be home-schooled too. After another couple weeks, Anna came to the same conclusion.

The kids LOVE it and say they have no regrets and no interest in returning to regular school. They learn just as much, if not more, in a home-school day and do it in half the time of a public school day. While teaching them isn’t as hard as I expected, it definitely is time-consuming. I’m lucky that I can bump my Wingspan work and library shifts to afternoons and evenings to accommodate our school schedule.

I should also mention that I was prepared for huge disapproval from everyone who found out about this and was shocked to receive almost none. Our biggest supporters, in fact, were the principals of the kids’ former schools who think it’s a terrific idea. (Which either says my kids were so bad they’re glad to be rid of them or they recognize the public school system is not an ideal learning environment.) Aside from my mother, every single person to whom I’ve mentioned it has gushed about what a wonderful idea it is and how their __________ (daughter/niece/neighbour) home-schools her children too. I am amazed at how many home-schoolers are out there.

Update #2:  Our house has still not sold. Honestly, people, what are you waiting for?

Update #3:  My doctor continues to struggle with finding the right dose of thyroid medication for me and seeing as she goes on maternity leave shortly, this issue isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon. I am still waiting to see my specialist regarding the nodules, which, according to my latest ultrasound,  have not shrunk despite the meds. Bummer. In the meantime, I am experimenting with my medication (what happens if I start taking double? what happens if I stop taking it entirely?) because hey, I’m impersonating a teacher everyday now so why not a doctor? How hard can it be?

Update #4:  My novel is pretty well finished and now it’s time to start searching for an agent. The thought of this makes me so nervous I could puke. Or maybe that’s just the double dose of desiccated thyroid I took this morning. If any of you have become literary agents without mentioning it, please do let me know and I’ll send you my manuscript for you to ignore and/or reject.

And what’s new with you?

our new addition

Please welcome _________________, our as yet unnamed addition to the family:

 He came to live with us yesterday, which was also his six-month birthday, and quickly learned we take a lot of photos here.

I don’t think he minds, though. Especially since he is the mellowest dog ever. So far he has spent 90% of his time with us contentedly riding around in someone’s arms.

He’s spent the remaining 10% of his time romping around after Murray and Mia, who are at last united in their distrust of the cute new arrival.

He came with the name Ben, which we really liked at first and thought we’d go with, but by last night we were all wavering on whether he really seemed like a Ben, after all. The girls and I are partial to Graham (with the added benefit that his nickname could be graham cracker, natch) and the menfolk are partial to Nathan or Nate, for short. Other names in the running are Owen, Joel and Wes. It’s a tough call. Any votes? Any other recommendations?