Friday, December 30, 2011


Perhaps it's global warming, or perhaps snow has always been elusive in the month of December, when the Christmas season has us collectively wishing for a blanket of white. We got rain instead of snow on Christmas Eve and then, a few days later, a tease. A thin layer of crunchy icy stuff that is no good for snowballs, snowmen, snow angels, or sledding.  We went outside anyway.

Yesterday we had a real snowfall, I threw snowballs for Worf on our evening walk.  The temperature threatened to climb above zero before the morning.  I awoke today relieved that the snow was still here, packing snow, snowman snow.  I got the kids dressed in their snowpants, mitts and hats.  I told them that if the tobogganing hill was too sticky and slushy, plan B was to build a snowman in the schoolyard.

Fortunately, the hill was covered in slippery snow, if a little muddy at the bottom.  The stark white maple leaf on the palm of my mittens is now beige.  Looks like it was meant to be that colour.

I immediately wished I'd brought a camera.  Jadzia helped to straighten the sled before they got in, making sure they would go down at just the right angle. William held his sister, protecting her as they slid down together.

I went down a few times with the kids, but then my eldest made it clear that it was better without a grown-up. He was right, I slowed them down and caused the unbalanced sled to spin out of control.

I was just getting bored of watching others have fun, when William exclaimed the he had to go pee.  He wanted to pee in the bushes, but since he was wearing snowpants and a jacket I wasn't sure how that would be accomplished.  Nor did I want to try.  It was time to go home anyway.  When he started to fuss, I lured them both away from the hill with a playful snowball fight.  I pretended to be attempting to evade their attack, using the toboggan as a shield.

Despite William's repeated insistence that he "couldn't hold it", neither he nor his sister walked any faster than they normally would.  To be fair, they were both dressed like astronauts.  However, since he didn't seem to be in a big hurry, I made him wait a minute longer so I could run inside and grab my camera (they looked too cute in their snowsuits).

And he didn't pee his pants!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mama needs some e-book recommendations...

The big guy in red has gifted me a new Sony e-reader (among other things).  I already have several books on there, including an unauthorized version of my upcoming novel Wardroids (Santa really does watch you all the time, and go through the files on your computer), and some random ones my Dad added when I went over for Christmas dinner.  While it may take me until well after next Christmas to read all these, I also feel I should support my fellow authors by actually purchasing e-books.

This is where you guys come in.   Suggest a book that I might enjoy, or a book that you enjoyed, or a book that you wrote and want people to buy.  It doesn't have to be profound or life-changing, just entertaining is fine with me.  I like SF, but not exclusively.  I'm asking all of you, including the lurkers (really people, just say hi once in a while). 

Also if you know of any books that have movies based on them, let me know, since I have taken a pledge to read the book first.  I guess I'd better download "The Help" and "Hunger Games".

When I'm not reading books on my e-reader, I'll be playing my limited edition Klingon Monopoly game.  Board games are surprisingly popular in the Empire, although Monopoly is a bit controversial as it is seen as promoting Ferengi values.

Merry Christmas everyone!  (And thanks in advance for all the e-book recommendations)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oh, Christmas Time

Having junked our artificial tree at the end of the season last year, yesterday we went on a mission to chop down a real one. We took a tractor ride into forest of pint-sized pines, whereupon a grumpy farmer told us he was only making one trip because the ground wasn't frozen enough. We looked at three different types of trees; green ones, blue ones, and more green ones.  Finally we settled on green.  We wandered through the rows of pines, rejecting some, picking out maybes and then forgetting where they were.  All the while Jadzia was kept in low spirits due to the cold, a lost candy cane, and general three-year-old crankiness.  We finally found the perfect tree (we got cold and hungry).  Adam sawed it down and then we bought hot dogs and chili at the farm store.

It's been a week of Christmas memories.  On Friday we had lunch with Santa at the community centre.  By we, I mean William and Jadzia. Santa doesn't feed grown-ups.  My children were the only ones who opted for food before seeing Santa. It meant that Jadzia had chocolate brownie up her nose when I snapped the Santa photo, but I don't think you can really tell in the picture.

Thursday was William's Christmas concert at his school. He chose a bright green shirt to wear and stood out beautifully.  His class recited a poem called "I don't want mittens for Christmas" and sang "Mittens and Gloves". Not exactly old chestnuts, but they did very well.  I was able to enjoy myself despite the overtired three-year-old on my lap, who wanted desperately to go on stage with her brother.

In other news, I was sort of tagged in a Christmas Meme (as part of my writing group) and it seems appropriate (appropriately lazy) to answer those questions here.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?  Hot chocolate tastes better, but egg nog is more Christmassy. Never make hot chocolate with water. That's blasphemy (and not in a good way).

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Both.

3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white? Coloured.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?  Nope.

5. When do you put your decorations up?Sometime in December/ when we feel like it.

6. What is your favourite holiday dish?Christmas log.

7. Favourite Holiday memory as a child? The memories I had this week are right up there.  I guess I`m not technically a child though.  So I`ll go with this one: My grandparents celebrated on Christmas Eve. On years that we stayed at their house, we would hide in the kitchen, then Santa would ring a bell.  We would run into the living room and all our gifts would be laid out.  We never saw Santa, and I swear the whole family was in the kitchen, all adults accounted for. It must have been the real deal.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I consider myself a Santa Claus agnostic.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?Except when we went to my grandparents, we usually opened Christmas morning. Although we got one gift (always a book and occasionally a book and pjs) on Christmas Eve.  My inlaws also celebrate Christmas Eve, so there is present opening at their house then, but at our house Santa`s presents get opened on Christmas Morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? The Christmas decorations box pukes all over the tree and we call it done.

11. Can you ice skate?Since I was two.

12. Do you remember your favourite gift? My daughter, Jadzia. Born 5:15 am, December 25th.

13. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family. Warm fuzzies.

14. What is your favourite Holiday Dessert?I told you! Christmas log.

15. What is your favourite holiday tradition?I love everything except the financial stress.

16. What tops your tree?A slightly dilapidated red star from an Ikea ornament set.

17. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both.

18. What is your favourite Christmas Song?I used to like `We Three Kings` because of the camels with sneakers.  `Santa Baby`is a good one.  Also `Here Comes Santa Claus`. Edit: Oh! I totally forgot about Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun, which is both funny and touching and very well captures the meaning of Christmas.

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?I can take them or leave them.

20. Favourite Christmas Show?Will Vinton`s Claymation Christmas Celebration which my family watched every year from the time it came out in 1987, until it faded into obscurity.

21. Saddest Christmas Song? Christmas songs should not be sad. They should be joyous.  Songs about war and hunger are okay as long at they are upbeat. There should never be any songs about a little boy using a sob story about his dying mother to scam someone into buying him an expensive pair of shoes.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The most stressful part of my day.

I live a two-minute walk from my son's school. It lets out at 3:15ish.

At 2:30, I get my daughter dressed. Regardless of whether I dressed her in the morning, by 2:30 she is without pants. This involves chasing her around the house waving a pair of pants and a pair socks and yelling "Come here Jadzia!"  She does not come when called.  The dog does though and he will always attempt to eat the socks.

Jadzia poos around the same time and I'm trying to toilet train her so that means rinsing out a pair of undies.   She will not poo on the potty. Ever.  A lot of the time she defecates immediately after I've dressed her and I have to dress her again.

Today she wants to wear her new one-piece snowsuit.  Once I start dressing Jadzia, our 50-pound puppy gets wind that we are going and runs up, wags his entire body, knocks my daughter over at least twice, and attempts to eat our hats/mitts/boots.  I leash him up in a harness that he hates but theoretically discourages him from pulling.

The alarm on my watch is set to 3 pm, just in case I forget the time.  It goes off just as we were heading out the door.

After five steps, Jadzia stops to play with the rocks in my neighbour's driveway. This patch of gravel is unremarkable to me, but she will not leave the area voluntarily.  At this point I have to carry her.  Have you ever tried to carry a three-year-old that doesn't want to be carried?  How about one wearing a one-piece snowsuit?  How about one-handed while holding the leash of a 50-pound puppy?

I somehow manage to carry Jadzia to the corner.  I put her down as soon as we cross the road.  Immediately she runs to examine something so close to the street that my heart does a somersault.  This time it was a branch.

The rest of the way I "hold Jadzia's hand", which in this case is code for holding her by her forearm to keep her from running into traffic.  She falls to her knees like a rag doll forcing me to drag her.  Of course I can't really drag her, so I have to pick her up again.

Meanwhile, Worf, the 50-pound puppy, jumps on every person that passes by. Children, parents, whoever. I chant "Sorry. Worf! Leave it! Hey! Sit! He won't bite. He's friendly. Sorry. Sorry" all the way to school.

I put Jadzia down once we reach the kindergarten door.  She does not stay near me, but we're not near the road so whatever.  She watches William get ready through the window, but when he comes out she runs into the fenced off area for kindergarten recess, or hides behind the fir trees next to the door.

By the time I gather her up, William is way ahead of me.  He either doesn't pay attention to where I am or doesn't care.  He wants to walk with his friend whose mother is much more efficient at wrangling children. In fact, all the mothers are better at wrangling their children, and their kids stay near them and listen to them.  Even their dogs behave.

I tell William to wait and Jadzia to hurry up.  I'm yelling into the wind and no one hears me.  I concentrate on Jadzia because I know William will not run into the road or do anything crazy. Jadzia stops to lick a metal signpost (seriously).  Luckily, it is not cold enough for her tongue to stick. I worry that it will be soon.

I'm so visibly frustrated at this point that a random woman stops to ask me if I'm okay.  I mumble that I am. Worf jumps on her daughter. I feel like the worst mother in the schoolyard.

When we finally get home the children dawdle at the end of the driveway.  They can tell I'm stressed and this makes them less obedient.  I have to count to five to get them to come in the door.  Once inside, they do not  give me space.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jadzia's 3rd Birthday Party

Before you have an aneurysm wondering where the time went, I must tell you that my Christmas baby won't be three for another few weeks. We had her party early for obvious reasons.  We did what we always do for birthdays.  We invited everyone she loves to our house and ate food while the kids played.

The most stressful part of a party is the before party clean-up.  My husband did most of that (yes, and you can't have him), while I prepared a cheese plate, a fruit plate, a veggie and dip plate, and spaghetti casserole. The kids helped me bake a cake. Jadzia asked for strawberry so I added strawberry jam to my usual half-butter half-icing sugar icing. The result was so sweet I got a sugar rush just from licking the spoon (and I have a fairly high tolerance).

We didn't plan any activities beyond eating and opening presents, but everyone had a great time anyway (or pretended to).  Jadzia's Babcia was there, and her Omi and Opa, her aunties, her uncles, her cousins, and her friends.

She got an obscene amount of gifts, and each one was carefully chosen by someone who has loved her since she was a baby.  I know from experience that the present a child is excited about when they open it, is not always the same as the present that she plays with on a daily basis.  She chose gifts in boxes over gifts in bags.  She didn't really care what was in them.

Until her friends had left, of course.

Just before bedtime we drove to that insanely decorated house on Spruce Street.  The perfect end to a perfect day.  (And to think, I still have leftover Brie).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I won Tuesday Tales!

Yesterday I entered the Tuesday Tales contest over at Glitterword.  Each week, contestants are given a photo and a word as inspiration for a flash fiction. The prompts this week:

And the word: Sassinak

"In the urban dictionary Sassinak means: English Scum, Also Sassinak is the name of Anne McCaffrey’s character that went to colonize a new world… instead attacked by pirates she became a slave then got enough skills to be a fleet officer and control of her own ship. "

And I won!  (Winner receives bragging rights an a badge to display on their blog). Here's my contribution:

Julia stared at the Sassinak, into the round purple sphere that she thought was its eye, but could have been its mouth.

“Will we be waiting long?” it asked in an Oxford accent. Its amphibious bubbling skin spewed yellow slime in her direction.

“Forty minutes,” Julia guessed. “The ship needs to be refuelled.” urban legend said the Sassinak would eat you if you turned your back on it. Julia’d never believed that, but now that she was sitting across from one, she wasn’t so sure.

“I’m a bit nervous,” said the alien. “I’ve never been to —-” It pronounced the unpronounceable name of its homeworld, never losing the English lilt.

Julia was taken aback. “I thought you were from there.”

“I was hatched in South Hinksey,” the Sassinak explained. “My parents were diplomats”

Of course Julia had known that Sassinaks had lived on Earth for a while, particularly in England. She hadn’t entertained the idea of them having families. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed.”

Two tentacles emerged from folds of slimy skin and Julia noticed the Sassinak wore a friendship bracelet. It shrugged, a distinctly human gesture.

“Don’t worry,” Julia said. “You’ll fit right in on the homeworld.”

200 words on the button!

Thanks to the judge of this week's contest Jason McKinney.  Also congrats to the honourable mentions: @Call_Me_Bookish@LupusAnthropos@solimond, and @ChuckWesJ

Insecure writers - It all counts

Recently, I received a contract from an ebook publisher for my first novel. I've heard stories of authors taking years to publish, and I certainly took years to write the thing.  But Double Dragon was the first publisher I sent it to and they took it.  So I'm legitimate now.  I'm an author. Really.

The little hater in my head has for years been finding ways to tell me that my writing doesn't count.  My many articles for Today's Parent Toronto don't count because my mother got me an in at that magazine, and because it's non-fiction, and not particularly literary. The short story I got published a couple years ago doesn't count because it was in the wrong genre. A story about a teenager bra shopping with her mother will not further my career as a sci fi writer.

Unfortunately my little hater hasn't been silenced.  She is finding ways to tell me that a book sold to a fairly prolific ebook publisher doesn't count either.  First, she says that nobody will by it, and there can be no real success without monetary gain. Then, the hater reminds me that as an ebook, it will never be on the shelves of a real live bookstore.  Never mind that ebooks are the new big thing. Never mind that a legitimate publisher read my work and found it worthy.

I'm beginning to suspect that I'll always feel that way.  One book doesn't count because I don't have two. Two books won't count because I don't make enough to pay the bills.  Ten books won't count because I haven't won awards or made a million dollars or become a household name.

I wonder if J.K. Rowling has these insecurities, or Stephenie Meyer, or Robert J. Sawyer, or Ursula Le Guin, or Stephen King.  I'd like to think they all do.  I'd like to think that these insecurities are an integral part of the creative psyche, proof that at my core I am an author.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wardroids finds a home.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from Deron Douglas of Double Dragon Publishing.  It began with "Thank you for your submission" and I was totally expecting the phrase "we regret to inform you" to follow. I know the competition is fierce and I've trained myself not to expect anything when I submit anywhere. Instead, I've been offered an ebook contract for their 2013 schedule!

Double Dragon ebooks are available in all the formats and you can buy them wherever you normally buy ebooks (chapters, amazon, whatever), so I have a good chance of becoming an overnight sensation and selling a million trillion copies. They also print on demand through lulu, so I can buy a copy and put it on my special shelf.

I didn't jump up and down and do a happy dance.  It was too surreal.  I'm a real author now.  I signed a contract and everything.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Omi and Medieval Times

Yesterday I went to Medieval Times and today I attended my grandmother's "celebration of life" which is like a funeral only more festive and cheery.  These two events are in no way related to each other.  One involved a fun excursion with a friend I haven't hung out with in a while (Hi Amy!) the other involved chatting with family members that I only see at weddings and "celebrations of life".  Are you reading my blog yet, Jodi? E-mail me!

I could bore you to death with an account of both of these but instead I will amuse myself my imagining what it would be like if my late Omi had attended Medieval Times with me.  

As we drove up she would have given each of my children a box of Smarties to make them smart.  She never knew my kids, but she would have loved them.  She loved all children, especially her grandkids. When we got into the buy stuff area, Omi would have bought William a sword and a shield and armour and anything else he was vaguely interested in, she would not have accepted our money for this.  In fact, she would try to shove a fist of twenties into my hand.

While we were watching the show, Omi would tell me how handsome she thought the Black and White Knight was.  He had short dark hair, and the other knights had long hair.  When he gave out flowers to random women in the audience, she would have called out "Woohoo!" until she got one. 

She would have denounced the violence as "silly" while at the same time happily cheering on our Black and White Knight. She would try to make me eat half of her chicken on top of my own, not taking no for an answer.  Failing that, she would wrap any extra food in napkins and shove it into her purse.

The Black and White Knight gave Jadzia a sash that said "Queen of Love and Beauty", but I'm pretty sure if Omi had been there she would have gotten the title.  She had a way of standing out in a crowd (partially to do with her tight low-cut leopard print tops) and she was always so full of love, and absolutely beautiful.

Adam just asked if I was writing about my grandmother, and if I was to be sure to mention the awesome pictures he printed for her celebration. He made three big boards full of pictures, two with black and whites and one with colour.  They looked beautiful against a black background, and each board rested on an easel he had borrowed from work.  It really made the room feel special.  For those of you who came and enjoyed my spaetzle the recipe is here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Free Ebook

For a limited time, Siobhan Minty is offering free copies of her ebook A Gay in the Life of Melinda Finch.  I've mentioned before how awesome this book is and now it won't cost you any money to trust in my judgement. Just use the coupon code CH76C.

Money doesn't buy happiness...or does it?

First, I'd like to thank all my friends who came to my karaoke birthday celebration.  For those that couldn't make it, I've posted the above video so you can still have fun singing. These Boots are Made for Walking is an extra fun karaoke song, and I urge you to sing it right now.  Especially if you are currently in your place of employment.  The more people that hear you, the more thrilling karaoke singing becomes.

Special thanks to Becca and Cara who won the 50/50 draw at the random fundraiser that was going on while we were there.  They shared their winnings with me AND paid the tab.  I know the old adage says "Money Can't Buy Happiness" but that was probably written by somebody rich. It certainly increased my happiness to be in the black at the end of the night!

So just for fun, I've compiled a list of things that money CAN buy, that would make me happier:

A second bathroom
I'm sure that when I'm naked, all ready to step into the shower, the kids would still be banging at the door. At least with a second bathroom, I could yell at them to use the downstairs toilet. So many times I have opened the door only to realize that they didn't have to pee, they just wanted to say hi.

More vacations
Full disclosure: I am going to the Dominican in January for my sister's wedding. It is sure to be a fun vacay, but the money used to pay for it is causing much stress on both my mind and my credit.  The more stress I have, the more I need vacations, but since money troubles cause the most stress it's a big catch 22. If I was someone with more disposable income I would take trips at least twice a year.  Once with and once without children. Make that once a month.

My family eats, yes. But when I choose chicken over steak or lobster, I want it to be because I feel like chicken.  Eating out would be nice too, without feeling the guilt over spending money we don't have.

I want to go shopping and buy myself a whole new wardrobe. Somehow a couple of shirts off the clearance rack isn't enough for me anymore. Nothing says sexy like a ten-year-old pair of pants with a broken zipper.

Maid service
My mom had a cleaning lady for a brief period when I was in high school.  I hated it.  She would spend the whole time cleaning my bedroom and I would never be able to find anything afterwards.  Now I would sell my kidney if someone would do my dishes and laundry on a regular basis.

I love school and if I had the money I would pick up an extra degree in...well...anything.  I could be a doctor! Or an astronaut! If only I had the money to learn how.

When I was a teenager I kept $1000 in my bank account and began to feel anxious if it dipped below $900.  If I had $900 in my bank account right now I would go on that shopping spree.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's all about me.

Now that you're all done your Remembrance Day moment of silence, I'm sure you're dying to know how my birthday went yesterday.  I started the morning the way I start every Thursday, by taking Jadzia to the Early Years for the Nobody's Perfect parenting program, while my husband, who had taken the day off, put the finishing touches on my mystery cake.

After the program I dropped Jadzia off at my friend Columbia's house to watch for the afternoon.  Adam and I went out for a sushi lunch, then we went for a leisurely bike ride around the neighbourhood.  By then it was almost time to pick William up from school.  Adam walked to pick up William while I drove to get Jadzia (who was amusing herself with Columbia's spoon collection).

I opened my presents fairly soon thereafter.  A red shirt moose bag, the Back to the Future Trilogy on Blu-ray and some red sandals to replace the ones that Worf murdered (too bad winter's coming).  William and Jadzia each drew me a picture. Will's was extra special because he worked really hard on it, started it in school and had Adam help him finish it.

While the kids and I watched Back to the Future II (quite a bit more language in that movie than I remembered) Adam went to the store and purchased three live lobsters.  The kids and I amused ourselves watching our dinner crawl around in the sink.  One of them was actually quite feisty, but Adam managed to subdue him using a large pot of boiling water.  The kids split one lobster (though William enjoyed his half a lot more than Jadzia did) and Adam and I each had one to ourselves.  It was delicious and made me want to cook live lobster more often.

After dinner it was cake time.  Adam had made me a cellular peptide cake with mint frosting! Of course instead of cellular peptide it was chocolate and instead of mint frosting it had hard chocolate coating and blue creamy icing. The cake was a definite win, using solid chocolate to ice it was a stroke of genius, as was the fairly obscure Trek reference.  It warms my heart to know that my husband is just as much of a nerd as I am.

 For those of you who don't get the reference, watch this clip of Data having a fairly disturbing dream:
This isn't the end of the birthday festivities, oh no.  Tomorrow (Saturday) I am going karaokeing with whichever friends decide to show up (I invited pretty much everyone on facebook).  The only catch is that the bar we're going to couldn't reserve a table for us, and I couldn't find another place.  Ah well, I'm just going to show up with my posse and hope for the best. I don't mind having to stand as long as I get to sing!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's my birthday

I'm 32.

Please leave warm wishes in the comments below.
(presents would also be nice).

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

It's never too early to start promoting.

So even though my first book is yet to be published, when UK blogger A.J. Mullarky offered to promote new authors on her blog I jumped at the chance.  The interview is up today!  You can learn a bit about my writing, especially my (currently homeless) novel Wardroids.


Thank you A.J.!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday...Something from my work in progress

As the deafening hum of her wings grew closer, Zran knew she was coming for him.  He felt his hearts thumping against his chest, creating a drum beat for the dance that was beginning.  He knew better than to resist, that all the strength of his massive bulk would be nothing once her venom reached his brain. So he stood on the lonely glass street, his arms open, claws outstretched, and looked up at the sky.

As she came nearer he could see that the woman was at least ten years his senior, older than the last one. Still, she had that same crazed look in her eyes, all that is civilized having vacated mind.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Final Goodbye

It's hard to say exactly when Omi left us.  When the picture above was taken, six years ago, she was already forgetting things. I would have lunch at her condo and she would tell me the same story three times. I've been trying to remember her stories as I write this.

She used to tell a version of how my parents met.  It went like this:  My dad wanted to play cards and my mom wanted to study, so my mom said "How about, first we study, then we play cards?" And they lived happily ever after.

Omi wanted to get married in a Catholic church, but when they went to see the priest my grandfather refused to sign something promising to raise their children Catholic.  According to my grandmother, Opa said "I don't even have any children yet and you want me to sell them to you!"

She told me how she met my grandfather in a dance class.  He was tall and handsome and, even though he wasn't paired with her at first, he only wanted to dance with her.

Just after World War II, when my grandmother was a teenager, she was attacked while bringing food to her father in prison. After that, she sent her younger brother in without her. She often told me, "War brings out the worst in people."

She moved back in time, talking more and more about the past.  Eventually, I was too new for her to remember who I was.  Sometimes, she thought I was my mother.  Then she forgot her too.

When I was a kid, Omi used to sing "You are my sunshine" to me.  Yesterday, when we went to visit her for the last time, my Mom printed out the lyrics and we sang it to her.  I only really knew the cheerful chorus; the verses were depressingly appropriate.  I didn't imagine she could have looked worse than the last time I saw her, but she did.  Older, thinner, greyer.  As we sang, she briefly opened her eyes, then scrunched up her face as though she was in pain.

We knew that she was going to die soon, and finally this evening she did.  But the Omi I knew and loved died a long time ago.  There was no exact time and date of death.  She slipped away gradually through a slow leak in her mind.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Insecure Writers....Get a Writer's Group!

So it's insecure writers' support group day (actually it's the end of insecure writer's support group day and I almost missed it because I'm scatterbrained).  Anyway, I just came back from writer's group.  If you're a writer, and you don't have a writer's group, get one.  Every three weeks I meet with five supportive, skilled and talented people.  Our meetings are an equal mix of socializing, constructive critique, and patting each other on the back.  All three are important for writers (and mothers).

I go to the group feeling like my work sucks, and leave feeling like a real author.  No, they don't sugar coat their critiques, but no one's as bad as my inner voice.  In the end, I know that I must be good to belong in the company of such wonderfully brilliant people.

Two of my writer's group friends have books that you may purchase (and I encourage you to do so).
Linda Cassidy's poetry book Inland Waterways can be purchased here (just scroll down a bit on their page).
Siobhan Minty's ebook A Gay in the Life of Melinda Finch can be purchased here or here

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Making Art

Just a quick post to show off the poster my daughter and I made today using finger paint and crayons (two deceptively difficult mediums). It was a true collaborative effort and, as you can see, our artistic styles mesh very well together.

Below is a detail showing my favourite part of the piece.  It's a snail that Jadzia drew.
Her friend Zoe (who is 4 and a half) says that Jadzia can draw anything.  She's right. And Jadzia is only two and a half. At this rate my daughter will surpass my meager talents in a few short years (if she hasn't already, art is so subjective).  I'm hoping that we're still collaborating when she's old enough to become famous and then I can share in her millions of dollars and adoring fans.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Antics

Today is Halloween night.  The kids are in bed after a hard night of begging for candy.  We left a bowl of candy on our doorstep for honest children so that both Adam and I could trick-or-treat with the kids.   We spent the better part of an hour barking at Batman to wait for his sister, and trying to help a kitty cat climb stairs while dragging a heavy bag of candy (which she refused to let us carry).

Of course tonight was only the finale of a much anticipated Halloween season.  We've been frequenting the Halloween section at the library all year long (despite my persistent suggestion that we try reading non-seasonal books). At the beginning of the month I took a special trip to the dollar store so the kids could help me pick out decorations.  William and Jadzia helped me put skulls, spiderwebs, pumpkins and gravestones up in the front yard.

Last week we attended the Early Years Center fall fair.  The kids dressed up in costumes and played, danced, ate snacks and did crafts in a loud over-crowded hall. A lot of their friends were there and we discovered that one of William's friends had the same costume as he did (not that a Batman outfit purchased at Walmart is all that original). The event culminated in a parade through the offices of the building where they got a few candies.

On Thursday we went to the mall's "safe trick-or-treat", though I'm not sure what's safe about a thousand toddlers roaming free in a mall that's more crowded than Christmas.  Every year I swear I won't go to the mall trick-or-treat next year but the next year rolls around and I forget my resolve.  The kids didn't even get a good haul this year.  We did get a cute flip book of them bouncing around in their costumes (though we had to wait an hour for it). Actually my favourite part was watching William hold hands with his girl friends. Batman is happiest with a mermaid on one arm and a fairy on the other.

Yesterday we went to a nearby orchard to pick a pumpkin from the field.  We chose two reasonably orange gourds.  The kids drew pictures on construction paper and Adam did his best carving to their specifications. I think they turned out pretty well.

And now it's over.  Tomorrow I must take down the decorations (putting up cobwebs is like toilet-papering your own house). I wonder how much candy I can steal from the kids' haul without them noticing...

Friday, October 28, 2011

High School with Brent Spiner

Last night I dreamt that I was in high school.  I was in a classroom trying to get to a computer and two boys were blocking my way and being bullies.  I looked over at Brent Spiner, who was the teacher, and said "Sir, can you help me?"  He just looked away.  So I dealt with the boys myself using some wicked Judo flips. Brent threatened me with detention, but I told him there was no way I would go.  "I used to be a big fan of yours, Mr. Spiner," I said. "But I guess I'm not anymore."

I then attempted to do some equations on the computer but Brent Spiner kept childishly turning off the monitor on me.  I stormed out of the class.  Looking at me watch, I noted that it was 7 pm.  I gather Brent Spiner had been running an after school algebra club rather than a regular class. I think that my storming out was a victory for him, because he didn't want me in the club (maybe because I'm a girl, I don't know).

I was telling my friend about the dream (while still dreaming) and she said "Oh no, that wasn't a dream, he's really a teacher here."  I tried to find my locker, but couldn't find any that were the right colour.  I walked down the hall, thinking maybe I was on the wrong floor.  I eventually figured out that I was on the right floor, but someone had painted all the lockers orange as a prank.  I found my locker pretty quickly after that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Aquatic children

I should have posted this on Sunday but I was too busy getting my creepy dead body on a beach story ready for the campaign challenge deadline. So without further delay, I must tell you how amazing my children were at swimming lessons.

I knew William would be great.  He's a fish.  He goes underwater.  He's fearless.  When I told him I had signed him up for swimming lessons he said "But I already know how to swim."

Jadzia was another story.  She always holds tight to me in a white knuckle death grip whenever we're in the water. When I took her to the pool with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, she stayed on the edge of the pool playing with the water toys.  She became frightened when the drain made a funny noise. My friend agreed she might not be ready.

On Sunday, when we tried to get her to shower before leaving the change room, she backed away in fear.  Of course, the first thing the instructor did was lead the kids to the shower.  It's all over, thought I, she won't do it.  Instead, she ran under the spray without a care in the world.

Of course, it helped that William was in the same class.  Jadzia looked a little terrified she was asked to grab onto the teacher's arms and swim, but since big brother was doing it, she didn't protest.  By the end she was enjoying herself immensely, splashing, laughing, making Mickey Mouse ears, and behaving less timidly than some of the older children.

And William, as always, is a fish.

I am so proud of both of them.

BTW: There were also scuba divers in the pool that day. (You can see them in the background of the first picture). We were watching them while we waited for the kid's lessons to start.  William says that after he learns to swim, then he can learn to scuba dive.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Something a little different.

Here's a story I wrote for Rach's third campaign challenge (I'm #112). Excuse the profanity, this character is hardened by the horrors he's seen.

Invasive Species
The first breath of sunlight shines over the water. Already I’m sweating like a gorilla in a polyester suit. The sand permeates my socks and shoes, makes a gritty paste between my toes. What a waste of time. This fucker drowned, I guarantee it, knew it before I saw the body. Those CSI-type shows make like it’s a big mystery, but when a body washes up on shore, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s drowning. People just don’t respect the ocean the way they should.

I stand with my back to the cadaver. Being downwind doesn’t help, but I’m used to this shit. Some rookie talking through a handkerchief tries to give me a report.

I can’t hear a goddamn thing this kid is saying. I’d ask him to lower the hankie but he’d probably puke.

I yawn; a mistake. My saliva tastes of fish guts and rotted flesh.

The rook is done talking, so I crouch to get a better look at the bloated carcass. Orange and blue Bermuda shorts cling to its legs like a bad joke.  A ripple moves across the dead man’s gut, a pet for the medical examiner.

The corpse’s eyes snap open.

I’m losing it.  I’ve been around death too long and I’m losing my fucking mind.  This happens to other poor saps, but not to me, please God, not to me.  I stare into that dead face as a raspy murmur escapes its lips.  “Synbatec,” it says. “Tacise de mer wastopaneer.”

The rookie trips over himself in his hurry to back away. Thank God he heard it too.

“Wastopaneeeeer!” screams the corpse. The rook vomits into the water.

My gaze falls back on the dead man’s bloated abdomen and again I catch sight of that ripple.  This is way above my pay grade.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I've found my new Monday Night Activity.


I discovered a five-dollar drop-in improv class at the Staircase Theatre in Hamilton.  Yesterday I was browsing online, looking for classes that I might want to ask for for my birthday.  That's when I saw the drop-in boot camp.  Monday night, I read, (Hey, it's Monday today).  Five dollars (Hey, I have five dollars in my wallet right now!) I've always wanted to take an improv class (by "always" I mean that I once thought about it for five seconds).  I mentioned the class to my friend Columbia and she enthusiastically agreed to come with me.

Holy Spock, we had so much fun!

There were twelve people in the class (I know because the teacher, Devlin, counted us).  There was an equal mix of men and women and I was neither the oldest nor the youngest, in fact I was right in the middle (I know because we lined up by age at one point.)

My favourite game (I won't bore you by describing the whole class) was "Emotional Symphony".  Four people on stage were each given a word and an emotion. They would then have to say the word in the emotion they were given whenever the conductor pointed to them.  The conductor could raise her arm to make the person emote more, or lower it to make them emote less.  Conducting is WAY more fun than it should have been.  SUCH POWER!

The sketches were my other favourite.  I got to throw a temper tantrum, sing a song, scream at the top of my lungs and pretend to have an orgasm.  I was often paired with Columbia, which is great because we work well together. At one point we were doing a sketch exercise with two guys.  The floor was divided into three sections, each with a designated emotion: depression, lust, and hate. The teacher had to stop the scene; the boys had forgotten to emote hate, because they were too busy watching Columbia and I in the lust section.  Hilarious!

There were two classes and we had so much fun we stayed for the second one too. I don't know if I've found a new career as a sketch comic, but it is definitely a great way to loosen up and get out of Mom mode for an evening.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday....Random Wardroids Snippet

Six Sentence Sunday is a blogging thing where published and unpublished authors post six sentences of something they've written every Sunday. This week I've decided to participate. (All part of my ongoing goal of weaseling myself into a writing community of some sort).  Anyway, below is a snippet of my recently finished novel Wardroids.  The character speaking here is my protagonist Emily Reid, the only women on a third-class mining spaceship.  Other characters mentioned: Thirty-two Eighty the wardroid sex slave, and Adam Black the ship's Commander. Though you could probably have figured all that out. Here it is: 

I step over an unconscious man as I enter the crowded room and wonder if he passed out there, or if the men saw an opportunity and used him as a human doorstop.  I don’t see Thirty-two Eighty at first but then she emerges from under a table.  Someone shouts “my turn Honey!” and suddenly she’s pinned against the wall and pretending to enjoy herself.  Adam Black isn’t here.  Though he’s never had any qualms about using the wardroid, he doesn’t like sharing her in public.  The thought of what they do in private makes my stomach queasy.

So there you have it. Does it make you want to read the book?  Buy the book?  Publish the book? Comment below with your rave reviews of my writing prowess.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Appreciating Art

Today the family and I went to the Art Gallery of Hamilton because, being a dreary cold day, I was in the mood for some culture. If you spend enough time looking at art you begin to feel saturated by it, as though each painting, sculpture and installation imprints itself on you, exhausting your ability to perceive.  This is the feeling I anticipate every time I go to a gallery.  My family anticipates boredom.

Though I was the only one particularly enthusiastic about visiting the gallery, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves once we arrived.  Although Jadzia was afraid of most of the art.  No, really. She hid her head in my shoulder as we browsed through bold colorful paintings, black and white photographs, and African masks.  Adam and I tried to tell her that these were just pictures that people had made and weren't likely to come alive, but I don't think she quite grasps the difference between reality and fantasy.  She did, however, enjoy the quilts.  I was never that into textiles, but seeing my daughter delightedly point at the patchwork of flowers, animals, and colours made the exhibit worthwhile for me.

William seemed inspired, and only a couple of times claimed to be "hungry" (four-year-old code for "bored").  His favourite piece (everyone's favourite actually) was Kim Adams' Bruegel-Bosch Bus, an installation involving an old red VW van covered with various toys, trains, cars, models, etc.  (It's on permanent display, so you can go have a gander any time you want). It reminded me of one of those I Spy books.  The more I looked at it, the more details emerged.  The kids inched closer and closer as they examined the various scenes, and Adam became paranoid that they were going to touch the artwork, especially since a security guard with dreadlocks had been following us around the gallery since we arrived.

By the time we left, we had spent an hour and an a half in the building, seen pretty much everything, and no one had fainted from fright, whined to go home, or destroyed a priceless artifact.  I declare the outing a success!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Muppet Dream (Scenes unlikely to appear in the next movie)

I don't remember my dreams a lot but when I do I like to write them down and share them.  Indulge me:

I was in the Muppet movie.  The dream began with a typical Muppet scenario, a man behind a desk told Kermit and his friends that he couldn't loan them any money and made a point of telling them that they now had ZERO funds. Disappointed, the Muppets and I went outside into the rain.  Standing in a field of flowers, I bent over to hug Kermit.  With tears in my eyes I told him that I loved him and that it would be okay.  "It's okay right now," he said.

What followed was a scene that I am pretty sure will not be in the upcoming Muppet movie.  The Muppets spotted a playground on the other side of the field.  Though it was rainy and dark, they eagerly ran towards it.  There were people hiding in the shadows, wearing bunny and chipmunk costumes. They attacked the Muppets.  I was on the ground, under the play structure, defending Kermit against a young woman with a sharp kitchen knife. She sliced up my skin pretty bad, and made a diagonal gash across the palm of my hand before I was able to grab the knife.  I threw it and the blade stuck into the trunk of a tree.

After that I was able to overpower her easily.  It turned out the woman was a troubled youth, who the Muppets took pity on.  They allowed her to stay on the couch in their apartment, which was crowded and disorganized as only a Muppets' residence can be.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honour of Thanksgiving I will be writing the rest of this post in Turkey (not to be confused with Turkish). Here's what we did this weekend:

Gobble Saturday gobble gobble gobble gobble wedding gobble gobble gobble friend gobble gobble. Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble Polish Hall, gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble.  Gobble gobble pierogies gobble gobble gobble gobble fun gobble gobble gobble gobble.

Gobble Sunday gobble gobble gobble hot outside. Gobble gobble gobble gobble park gobble gobble gobble sweltering gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble swimming gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble beach gobble.

Today gobble gobble raspberry picking gobble gobble parents gobble gobble gobble gobble farm.  Gobble gobble gobble gobble few berries gobble gobble, gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble small container.  Gobble gobble turkey dinner gobble gobble gobble berries gobble gobble gobble cheesecake.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  

Friday, October 07, 2011

Celebrating minor achievements

  • Walked to the vet with a four-and-a-half-year old, a very slow two-and-a-half-year old, and a dog who can't seem to stop pulling on his leash and jumping up on strangers.
  • Took the children to the library at children's request. Left early due to younger offspring's lack of listening skills.
  • Served four peanut butter and jam sandwiches, two slices of leftover pizza, two apple sauces, two oranges, eight cups of milk and approximately 800 pieces of cheese.  (Not including breakfast) Percentage of that food that was consumed by me: .01%
  • Emptied the dishwasher.
  • Put breakfast and snack dishes into the dishwasher.
  • Put away one basket full of laundry.
  • Changed the batteries in my husband's mouse to facilitate my son's computer addiction.
  • Mediated several disputes between the children and the dog.
  • Dealt with four freak-outs. One computer related, one to do with leaving the library early, and the last two because I didn't serve enough cheese.
  • Researched publishers to send my book to.
  • Wrote half a paragraph.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I won!

My first time entering the #HumpDayChallenge, a flash fiction contest over at Tracy's Tavern and I won!  The prize: bragging rights and a cute picture to display on my blog.

The challenge: use these words in a 100-word story: labor, corrupt, horseradish, aces, and turf.

So of course this is where my mind went:

The queen spreads her six legs in a starburst before me. Her vulva smells of horseradish. Despite her cruel and corrupt regime, I pity her vulnerability. For the first time, I don’t envy the mothers of our race. She contracts her muscles to turf the first egg from her womb. I catch it with my outstretched mandibles, letting the rest smash against the stone ground. As her labor nears its end, I thrust my pincer through her quivering body, bathing myself in her yellowish blood. She’ll never know why her aces turned against her.

Labour without the "u" looks wrong to me.  Also, I thought the use of "aces" was a little forced, and I have no idea why alien bugs would know what horseradish smells like, but that doesn't matter.  Winning is the important thing. 

Voting is important too.  So if you live in Ontario, and you haven't already, please vote today.  There's still time!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How to write (and raise two small children)

Today is insecure writer’s support group day, so I thought I’d write something that will (hopefully) help writers and mothers alike.  Like any mom and writer, I struggle with feelings of inadequacy.  I feel like I’m either neglecting my writing or my children or both.  Nevertheless, I have been doing this a while and I have some tips to share that might help other writers and/or mothers in my situation.  (These tips are in no particular order).

Tip # 1  Use indoor playgrounds as your office.  I watch for coupons for these places because I have neither the desire nor the funds to pay full price.  The kids have fun, get exercise, and require minimal supervision because there are no roads to run into or creepy men who came without a child. Most indoor playgrounds have WiFi, which is unfortunate for those of us who find the web a distraction.  Also when it gets busy, it gets loud.  The morning is the best time to go for low crowds.  Anyway, even writing with a little background noise is better than hearing “Mommy” every five minutes.

Tip # 2.  Let things slide.  Chores that will not get done when I’m on a good streak with my writing include (but are not limited to): laundry, dishes, general tidying, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, walking the dog, washing my hair, washing my children.  If you’re worried about visitors, know that no one will disown you if you have a messy house (at least, no one important).  Children, of course, do need love and attention (and food) but they will whine when they are not getting enough, so there’s no need to worry.

Tip # 3.  TV is not evil.  If you’ve ever sat down and watched television for preschoolers you know that it is educational to the point of being vomit-inducing.  Through schmarmy plots about love and friendship they are learning about science, reading, math, geography, history.  You name it.  And they do retain the information.  If you don’t believe me, have a conversation with my four-year-old. When I don’t have the money or energy for indoor play places, the tube helps me get my quota.

Tip #4. Remember that it is good for your children to see you doing things for yourself.  I do not want my kids (particularly my daughter) to grow up thinking that they have to put everyone else before themselves.  I want them to follow their dreams, and do what makes them passionate.  The best way to do this is to lead by example.

Tip # 5.  Have a writing quota.  And make it fairly small.  My quota is 500 words.  If I kill myself I can make it.  A lot of writers  have quotas of 1000 or even 2000.  Well La Tee Da.  Those writers don’t have small children to take care of.

Tip # 6. Make a “Winner List” and a “Super Star List”.  This one I borrowed from Margie Lawson. A winner list is for things you must get done today (make it small and achievable) and the super star list is for things you would like to get done if you have time.  I don’t always keep up with this, but when I do it really helps.

Tip #7.  Write a sentence at a time.  Including thinking and typing, it takes me about two hours to get my quota.  I don’t always have two hours at a stretch, so sometimes I take ten minutes and write a sentence (sometimes even half a sentence) whenever I get the chance. Sometimes, I find I have more time than I thought I did and I get an hour when I thought I only had ten minutes. (More often it works the other way around).

Tip #8.  Don’t beat yourself up.  This is the hardest thing of all.  I read over the first three tips and thought “I sound like the worst mother in the world.”   I feel guilty when my laptop sits unopened for three days, and even guiltier when I get my writing done while the offspring enjoy their third viewing of Ratatouille. I write for myself, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about not doing it.  I need to do things for myself, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about doing it either. (Neither should you).

Peruse the links below for more insecure writers writing about their struggles.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Interview with me!

During our writing retreat Elaine Cougler interviewed me for her blog.  That interview is up now!  Of course, being a written word person, I feel like a bit of a dork in front of the camera. So, now that I've had some time to think about the questions I'll post some different answers here.

First, here's Elaine's video (for those of us too lazy to click a link):
My answers after thinking:

1. Tell me something wild about yourself.
Could this answer have made me seem more nerdy?  I think not!  Here's something wild: I had two kids. I know this is typical of a lot of women, but that doesn't make it less bizarre.  I opened up my girlie parts and out came a human head.  Twice!

2. What is your background and how much of it includes writing?
While I absolutely credit my mother as a big influence in my writing, I do have a writing background of my own. I currently freelance for Today's Parent Toronto, something I've done for some time. I have a recently published short story in a YA anthology called Cleavage. I have a minor in professional writing only because no major program was available, I also have a certificate in magazine publishing which included several writing courses. I've excelled in pretty much every writing course I've ever taken. Putting words together just feels natural to me.

3. You write all the time, tell us about that.
I need to be a little less honest sometimes.  Do my legions of future fans need to know that I majorly procrastinate with my writing?  Yes, I write all the time.  I am actually super-duper diligent, and yes, passionate! Of course I'm a real writer.  I am super mom!

4. What does writing do for you?
It gives me a sense of accomplishment that playing computer games never could.  Something I hope will make my children proud.  An example for my children, so that they will pursue their dreams.

5. How do you deal with sensitive topics in your writing?
I think my answer here is pretty good.  As to Elaine's question about "Native" vs "Indian", of course writing historical you use the historically appropriate term regardless of how offensive it is today.  One thing I should mention is that I do deal with topics outside my comfort zone in my writing including, but not limited to: sex, swearing, violence against women, violence against children, drugs, torture, etc.  Whatever the story calls for. The key is to not make it gratuitous, and at the same time to avoid sugar-coating something because your kids/mother might one day read it.

6. Do your friends understand why you write? Do they even know?
No it's a big secret. Nobody knows that I write.  I hide in a hovel and lock my words in a vault at the end of the day.  Of course my friends know! My friend Columbia has babysat my children so that I can get my words done. My answer in the video I'm afraid did not do justice to my truly amazing friends who absolutely do understand me, and understand the struggle to be creative while raising children.

7. What is the best thing you see yourself accomplishing with your writing?
My book is published and I have legions of adoring fans.  Pretty much what I said on the video.

8. What is the worst thing?
I am terrified whenever I hear about how many hundreds of times writers have to submit places before getting published. I don't know that I have the ambition or the confidence to go through that.

9.  What my books are about.
Goodness me, I could not have made my books sound more boring.  Really my book is good. Funny and action packed, with romance and suspense and everything.  Book 1 (which absolutely is ready for publication for whoever wants it) is about a woman with amnesia, the man who loves her, and a wardroid sex slave uprising.  Book 2 (in progress): is about a three-gendered matriarchal society and an alien family with a human hybrid child.  Does that make them sound a little more interesting?

Anyway, thank you Elaine for taking the time to interview a budding writer like myself.  This will surely help me gain those legions of fans we talked about.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Celebrating Minor Accomplishments

Dressed the children (including socks).

Managed to have a nap today.

Helped out at my sister's Stag and Doe without feeling like the nerdy sister (even though I so am).

Won a raffle prize (Toys for Jadzia. We're hiding them until Christmas/birthday).

Got several achievements on the Sims facebook game.

Paid exact change for jar of mayonaise.

Finished all the levels of Factory Balls 4 without a walkthrough.

Made dinner yesterday for the family in less than 30 minutes.

Participated in a family outting to the pet store.  (Bought a leash, food, and a squeaky foot for Worf).

Received unsolicited I love yous from offspring.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An imago is an idealized concept of a loved one…or a winged insect

My dog chases them all the time. Isn’t it strange that I can write a whole novel and yet there are some words that I have never used in a sentence? In fact, some words are so foreign to my way of speaking that they would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb if I ever used them. I yawn, but never oscitate.  So this week’s campaign challenge has left me feeling less than poetic. I could write about a miasma of steam rising up to obscure my reflection in the mirror, but I haven’t had time today to take a shower.  Could there be a lacuna in my vocabulary? I don’t even know if I’m using that word correctly.  I’m reminded of a scene in the movie “Clueless” when a guy tells the late great Britney Murphy “Be seeing you” and she answers “I hope not sporadically,” having just learned the word. The fact that I’m quoting “Clueless” should give you an idea of my mindset.  The challenge is to write a 200-word blog post using several assigned words.  One of them is synchronicity.  I bet you can guess what the others are. Vote here for #101 (That’s me).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Memories last forever (if you put them on youtube).

I was at Chudleigh's Apple Orchard today and I got to thinking of all the times we've been there before. I went down the slide with William and remembered going down the slide with him as a toddler. Then he was in my lap; this time we were racing. I recall an infant Jadzia sucking on an apple, not enough teeth yet to take a bite. Though she has teeth now, the apples are still as big as her head and she carried one around for an hour without finishing it.

We can really only afford to go to Chudleigh's once a year. From admission to lunch to apples, our wallets are gouged at every turn. So the kids change dramatically every visit. The place stays oddly the same; our family keeps evolving.

I took my trip down memory lane to youtube and found this:

That's William at the age Jadzia is now, eating an apple pie.  Yes, I know I keep misunderstanding what he's saying in the video.  Could that be a reason he can't be bothered telling me about school now? Anyway we didn't make an apple pie this time. Honey crisp apples are way too good to waste on such an endeavor.

In other new, I am getting a cold from being around allergens too long. Is it really necessary to bed the entire playground in hay?  Really?
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