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.


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