Monday, December 29, 2014

There's Always Tea.

There is something about all of us being home at the same time that makes it impossible to write. It may be the complete and total lack of more than five minutes of quiet. Or the fact that there are three other people who want to get on the computer. Today, miracle of miracles, I managed to get on here before anyone else is even up. Which, now that I think about it, is going to be a HUGE problem next Monday - it's 9:08.

Am I a terrible person to admit that, as much as I love my family, I'm missing the structure that comes with a work/school week? Meh. I'm terrible then. Seven more days of chaos, then back to a schedule! Of course, there are challenges when they are in school too (says the lady whose kids are late half the time even though they live ACROSS THE STREET!).

There's the wrestling them out of their beds at 7:00, the begging them to please put clothes on (why is that so hard?), struggling to make lunches interesting so they'll at least eat part of it, the daily finding of the (hopefully finished) homework, and the fruitlessly searching for something that everyone will actually eat that has at least some nutritional value for dinner.

I'm okay at making proper meals for myself, but as soon as you add in the children... it gets tricky. What's the point of making a lovely healthy meal, when someone is guaranteed to tell you it looks like barf and ask for a peanut butter sandwich? Then there's the fact that Husband doesn't get home until it's been cold for at least an hour. It's disheartening, to say the least. At this point, sadly, it's become "dump it out of a box and throw cheese at it", because who cares?  One of my new year's resolutions should probably be to cook healthier food or something.


All that being said - I do have a kitchen tip for you. Don't worry, it's about the one thing I am good at. Tea.

Have you ever made yourself a nice cup of herbal tea, and in your rush to relax and enjoy it, taken a sip and burned half your face off? No? Just me?

Well, anyway, I came up with a solution.

Slice up a lemon, and put the slices in a freezer bag. Lay them flat in the freezer if you can, so they don't freeze together. Once they're frozen, you've got something to bring your drink to a reasonable temperature, and give you a touch of lemon. I've done it with Raspberries and strawberries too, and it tastes good, but it does leave a gross, pulpy mess at the bottom of your cup. Besides, there's something elegant about a lemon in your tea. 
It also saves you from throwing out a dozen moldy half lemons from the back of your fridge. No? Still just me?




Monday, December 8, 2014

Ohmygod, She's NINE.

This weekend, a number of awesome things happened.

First of all, this amazing girl turned nine.

Beege at 1 month.

Nine! This is a fact that I am still trying to wrap my head around.

Her birthday was on Saturday, and in a happy coincidence, we were invited to a Netflix preview event at the Scotiabank Theater downtown. Aside from the main event, there was pizza, candy, colouring, and dancing... the girls had fun, and I didn't have to plan any of it!

All Hail King Julien airs Dec. 19th on Netflix.

If you've been here awhile, you know about my ongoing struggle with the boxes. On Saturday night, a miracle occurred, and now my living room looks like this:


Apparently, the fact that my entire family was coming over for a birthday party on Sunday was just the kick in the pants that we needed to actually do something about them.

(But do me a favour, and don't look in the laundry room, mmkay?)







Friday, November 28, 2014

Saltines are for Sick Days.

This morning, Kee woke me up by wandering into my room with a bucket, and saying "I don't think I should go to school today, Mummy."

I tucked her back into bed, checked to see if she had a fever (not really, but a little warm), and decided to let her stay home. I went downstairs to grab her something small to eat, and she had fallen asleep before I could get back up with some water and a piece of toast.

Beege got off to school, and I sat down to write. About an hour later, Kee came bouncing down the stairs and said "I feel all better, Mummy. Can I watch TV?"

"Well, kid," I replied,  "if you're home from school because you're sick, you rest in your bed. That's the rule."
"AwwwWWWWwww!"
"Sorry pal. You can have all the books you like, and I'll bring up a workbook if you want."
"I want to go to school then."
"You think you're well enough to go to school? You're still pretty warm, and you look kind of tired."
"Yes."
"Okay then, we'd better get you dressed. Are you sure?"
"Can I watch TV?"
"No."
"Computer?"
"Nope."
"Okay. I want to go to school then."

Then she threw up in my hand.

She's back in bed with a handful of saltines and a bucket, and (after sterilizing my hand) I'm getting back to my writing.


45,674 words down, 4,326 to go.


Monday, November 24, 2014

No. NO. NOoooooOOOoooo!

Last night Husband and I sat on the couch together and worked on our novels. After about an hour typing away on my laptop, I decided that I'd like to take a break. Maybe watch a show. After checking my word count, I realised I had written almost 2000 words. It was a good place in the story to stop so I figured I might as well finish for the day. I saved, and popped out the USB stick. Then realised that I hadn't properly ejected the USB stick. Husband told me that it was probably fine, so I opened the file again, just to check.

1,785 words.

Do you know that place you go to that is like... past upset? Where there's ringing in your ears,  your eyes go kind of blurry, and you feel like your innards are missing? Shock. I think that maybe I went into shock.

"There are only 1,785 words here."
"What?" my gallant husband asked, looking up from his own novel.
"1,785. Words. That's all that's here," I said, turning to look at him, my eyes wide.
"Okay," he began, very calmly, "you need to click on 'file', then..."
"I need you to do it," I interrupted, with a hint of hysteria in my voice.

I felt entirely betrayed by my laptop. How could you, Penelope*?! Husband put his own laptop down, and I gingerly placed Penelope on his lap. Then I pulled out my iPod and started playing a bubble popping game where you save baby pandas from an evil monkey, and tried to ignore what was happening. Husband put the USB stick back in and clicked a few times. "Hunh," he said, frowning, and continued clicking. "That's weird."

My heart leapt into my throat. 'That's weird' cannot be good. I steadfastly continued ignoring him, and saved baby pandas as tears began to roll down my face. Lost. Gone. Deleted. Disappeared. Down the drain. Departed. Flown. Done.

'That's it,' I thought to myself. 'Done.'

"How many words did you say you had?"
"Almost 39,000," I answered, hope flaring in my chest.
"Ah. Not 37,000?"
"That's where I was yesterday," I said, disappointed yet relieved that anything at all had been found. I can come back from losing 2000. There is still hope!
"Let me try something," he said, clicking and scrolling and doing computery things.
"Okay." I saved another panda.
Long story short; Husband saved the day, because he is a computer magician. He found my files, saved the whole thing in several places (just in case), and then offered to make me tea while I curled up under a blanket to get over my mini heart attack. He is the best person in the whole world, and I need to get him a really really nice present.


38, 785 words down, 11,215 to go.






*Yes, my laptop has a name, and that name is Penelope.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Matter of Perspective.

So, winter is here, and with it, is has brought some alarming winds. Like, blow me down the street kind of winds.

The other day I went through the entire house searching for windows open cracks, and drafts under doors that I could plug up to put a stop to the whistling and moaning that was going on as the wind found every single way it could to get into the house.

More than anything else, I was worried about how Kee would deal with it at bedtime.

I've always found whistling wind (on top of being annoying), a sort of spooky, sad sound, and Kee is particularly sensitive about that kind of thing. Shortly after moving here, and probably having something to do with the fact that she was in her own room now, she developed a crippling fear of monsters in her room.

She would not go to bed. She would not go up or downstairs if there was no one else in the room with her. It was getting really bad. Luckily, my mum thought of giving her a "monster repellent", in the form of a necklace. She wore it everywhere for a few weeks, basically until it broke, At which point, she tied it to her door knob, which at least keeps her bedroom specifically (and the second floor in general) monster free.

But this wind... if anything sounds like monsters and ghosts, it's this wind. I managed to dampen it, but I couldn't get rid of it completely.

At dinner that first windy night, it was particularly gusty. I casually said, "wow, that is some wind, huh?" in order to gauge her response.

"Isn't it great?" she asked, smiling at me.
"Oh, yeah? You like it?" I asked, trying not to sound surprised.
"Yeah! Wooooo! WoooOOOOOOOoooo! It sounds like a crowd cheering for me!"

Which just goes to show, it's all a matter of perspective.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conversation With a Six Year Old.

 FADE IN:

INT. SCHOOL - CLASSROOM - DAY

Children are dispersed throughout the room, seated at desks in groups of four or more. The noise level is astounding. Close in on BLUE, six year old girl wearing a blue shirt, animatedly talking to KEE, a six year old girl, and ME, a 30-something woman who is already looking forward to lunch.


BLUE
 I was like, totally scared on my first day of school. Like, I didn't know ANYBODY. But then I saw Orange, and I was like "she looks like a cool chick". So I was like, "hey, Orange, do you want to play with me?" And the next day I was all "Orange is totally my friend." And now we're cool. I like it.

RED, six year old boy, wearing a red shirt, walks up behind KEE and taps her on the shoulder.

Red
(shyly)
Hi, Kee.


KEE
(coyly)
Oh. Hi, Red.

RED walks back to his desk across the room.  

BLUE
(conspiratorially)
Kee's in love with Red. 

KEE
She knows that, already. She's my mummy. (to ME) We're going to get married, Mummy. 

BLUE
Did you know that I'm in love with Green?


ME
Green seems nice. 

Kee
(Overlapping ME)
You're in love with Green?!

 BLUE
Yeah. I totally am. The first day I got here, I saw him, and I was like, "Green is hot." And he totally likes me too. 

BLUE turns and waves at GREEN, a six year old boy wearing a green shirt, who is currently picking his ear and chewing on a marker lid.


END SCENE






Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter is Coming.

"Winter is coming," the king said ominously, turning from the window.
"Happens every year," the queen replied, less than graciously.
They huddled together and drifted to sleep to the sound of the wind moaning through the snow swept night.

*********

The queen gingerly put her foot to the ground, searching for the slipper that she knew to be there. "Forget it," she mumbled, forcing herself from the warmth of the counterpane and into the inhospitable chill that permeated the room,  wincing as her bare feet touched the icy floor. She went into each princess' room in turn, kissing their heads and waking them gently.

Stoking the fire in the stove, she put lunch on to cook, then turned and busied herself with breakfast. As she set the table, it occurred to her that she was still alone. She climbed the stairs once again, and roused the princesses; less gently this time. The king gazed bleary eyed at her as she passed the doorway to their chamber, and she rolled her eyes so hard it hurt her neck.

As she was chopping vegetables to pack in the princess' ration bags, the elder stumbled through the door. She sat in silence and ate the cereal placed in front of her. The younger soon followed, and made much of pouring two different kinds of cereal, just so. She very particularly poured the milk until it just touched the rim of the bowl. Ah, sighed the queen, it shall be one of those days.

The elder packed her rations into her pack, and began donning her padded armour in preparation of her journey. "I love you. Goodbye." She pulled the woolen scarf over the lower half of her face and, with a look of steely eyed determination, stepped out into the cold.

Kee gathered her armour to her, and began to prepare herself as her sister had. The moment her sock touched her boot, she screamed and hurled the boot from her. She writhed on the floor, grunting, as if possessed by some demon. The queen brought new socks after determining that the issue was "they're itchy."

She pulled on her padded pants, then fell to the ground, sobbing. She screamed and moaned as she yanked at the bottoms of the pants. No understandable words could be found in the incoherent rant that followed but the queen, being fluent in tantrum, discerned that the inner pants were too short.

Her gauntlets had a tag, her hat seemed too small, the jacket had become suddenly uncomfortable. It was as if some monster had invaded the castle in the night and replaced all of princess Kee's armour to torment her; each item of clothing carefully crafted to torture her unto madness.

Finally clad, yet still unhappy, Kee stepped up to the door and flung it open. She was hit with an icy blast, and recoiled as if slapped. She attempted to bar the door and refuse to leave, but the king and queen reminded her of her duties, and she grudgingly agreed. As the king led her down the road, the queen could still hear Kee's loud lamentations, despite the screaming of the wind past her ears.

She closed the door when she lost sight of them, and sagged against it, exhausted already despite the early hour. She closed her eyes and sent a prayer of thanks, a plea for understanding, and a profuse apology to the instructors awaiting her daughter at the other end of her journey.



This is day two of full winter gear. Help me.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Mittens, Movies, and Me.

It's the first real snow fall today. The one where it sticks on the trees, and makes your messy backyard look almost beautiful. It's also the first day of snow pants, and lost mittens. No matter that I go through and carefully pair up the mittens and take out anything that's too small and make sure that there's at least one of everything for everyone before I put the winter gear away in the spring -- by the time I open the bag in the fall, some mischievous creature has gone through and taken them all apart.

Any matching ones are mine.

Kee somehow managed to break the curse and is currently (well, not currently, probably, but you know what I mean) wearing matching, waterproof mittens that actually fit. They even have her initials embroidered on them. We'll see what she's got when I pick her up after school.

Beege, on the other hand, is wearing mismatched gloves that belong to her daddy. (Who, btw, is the proud (?) owner of 6 left handed gloves and 2 right ones, from 8 different pairs.) I offered her the option of one of my smaller, actually  matching, pairs but apparently waterproofity* is more important than actually staying on when there is snow on the ground.

Me? I've got three pairs of mittens, of varying warmth, one of which has those nifty folding tops so that I can still use my fingers. I do weird things, like join their little hooks together so they don't separate, and actually put them where they go.

And after all of that searching they were, of course, late for school. The first day back after promising at parent night to make an extra effort to be on time. *sigh*

NaNoWriMo is going well. Mostly. I'm over 25,000 words in! Woo hoo! But I feel like I'm losing steam. Boo.

Instead of beating myself up about being under my goal for the day, I'm going to be happy that I wrote.  I'm going to write even when I don't really feel like it, and not worry that it feels stilted, because that what rewrites are for. I'm going to stop going back to change things, or edit things, or mulling over five sentences of dialogue for half an hour, and save all of that stuff for January and February.  

Rewrites!

I'm also going to take some time out and watch a funny movie or two with the kids,  I think we'll start with "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", considering the inclement weather. Isn't there some kind of snowball snack cakes? I could pick up some of those, and make it a theme day. Oooh.... paper snowflakes. We should make some of those. And maybe we'll go out and make a snowfort. And when we're done with that, we can come back in and watch "Frozen", in honour of our poor icy fingers. Hot chocolate!

I just googled those "sno ball" things. They look disgusting. Maybe snowflake shaped pancakes? Cookies?



             
             
      1. Shrek Forever After
2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

3. Despicable Me
4. Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat
5. Kung Fu Panda 2
6. Mr. Popper's Penguins





 *Waterproofiness?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Distractable Me.

So far so good, with this NaNoWriMo thing. I've managed to write every day, forcing myself to even when I really don't feel like it. It is so much easier to give up on things than to push through and work at it. I'm right on track at just under 15,000 words. Hopefully, this is the turning of a new leaf for me!

One of my biggest problems, thus far, is that I am entirely too distractable.

I'll be thinking of the next bit of my novel, and then I'm distracted by a completely innocuous street sign that starts spiraling into its own story in my head, one that unfortunately has no place in what I'm working on. Or one of the kids says something that sparks an idea, again, one that has nothing to do with my current story.  Or a character will want to me to get to know them.

No matter how hard I try to tamp them down or push them out, these new ideas start clamouring for my attention, and kill momentum for the one I'm actually writing.  Already, this story is not the one that I sat down to write.  (Although I still plan to get back to my original idea at a later date.)

The solution I came up with is the "other ideas" folder.  I've created a folder within my manuscript so that when one of these new ideas comes up, instead of pushing it away, I open up my "other" folder and write down the scene, or the character, or the beginning of the plot. Once that's done, I find it'll leave me alone to get back to work. It only takes a few minutes, and then I'm back on track.

I am still counting these little sidebars in my total word count, since to me this is more about getting in the habit of slogging through when it gets hard and actually finishing something than anything else. Besides, who knows, maybe one or two will end up in my story after all and I just don't know it yet.

The best part is that when I'm finished working on the current book, I've got a whole folder of partially fleshed out ideas to choose from for my next project.

How about you? How do you push through distractions?



Monday, November 3, 2014

Finish It.

I am not the world's best finisher. You just need to look around my house at the unpacked boxes, the half sewn or knitted projects, and the notebooks filled with beginnings of stories to see that it's true.

I'm an awful procrastinator too. There's "I don't want to start something early because I know that I won't finish it until the night before/day of anyway so why bother" coupled with being able to say "well, yeah, it's not the greatest, but I did only work on it for one day." Add to that the fact that until a project is finished, you can't really say it's a failure. Nobody likes to feel like they've failed.

It's a perfect storm of slackerness. Which drives me nuts, because I'm really not a slacker, I swear. I'm a hard worker, with good attention to detail, and a whole bunch of interesting ideas. I just have so many ideas jumping on top of each other that I don't know where to start. Besides that, I probably won't finish, so why bother? And maybe my ideas aren't as great as I think they are anyway.

See?! I'm well aware of the ridiculous cycle I'm in.

So. This month, I'm trying something.


NaNoWriMo, aka. National Novel Writing Month. I've signed up. I'm committing to writing 50,000 words this month, in the hopes that at the end, I will have the makings of a novel. I've got a profile, I've got writing buddies for encouragement, and I've got time alone while the kids are in school. I'm going to finish. When I'm done, I'm going to edit it.

Then, I might even let some people read it.

Are any of you participating?



For more information, go to nanowrimo.org


Friday, October 31, 2014

Everything is Awesome.

Ahh... Halloween. How I wish I remembered you were coming on October 1st.

Last year, the night before Halloween, I was busily knitting a Gryffindor scarf, while waiting for the cover on "Advanced Arithmancy" to dry so I could finish adding the gold paint to the runes.

There has also been a flower costume (with posable leaves), a jack o' lantern (I didn't get to add the glow sticks to the "face"... still a little disappointed), a jedi... each costume finished in the early hours of Halloween morning.

To be fair, I do it to myself. I can't just get something from the store, or make it simple, I need AUTHENTICITY*. "Which year are we doing? Hermione needs to have S.P.E.W buttons! An ugly knit elf cap! Ugh... all these wands are too plastic looking... I'll just carve her one."

Anyway.

This year, I thought I had it easy. Kee wanted to be a superhero of her own making. She is a cheerleader for her secret identity, but at the first sign of trouble, she turns into "Pom Pom Girl!" She has a cape, and a "power belt", and she can freeze the bad guys for five seconds. She ran around the house and collected everything on her own. Super easy for me.

Beege wanted to be Batman. Cool. Black clothes, cape, mask, done-zo. Not so much. I found out last week that she wanted to be LEGO Batman. Oh. Okay. Still do-able. No big. I really should have started then. Being me, however, I decided to wait until yesterday.

So here is how to make a Lego Batman costume. In eight (or so) easy(ish) steps.


It really is a good idea to measure your kid** first, so that you have some idea of how big you need to make this thing. Crossing your fingers and guessing based on the shirt she left on the couch isn't a great idea. Remember that if your child will be wearing it to school, they need to be able to sit down.


Lucky for me, there are a tonne of pictures of Lego Batman all over the internet, from different angles and in different colours.


Now it's time to paint. It is helpful if you know where both paint and brushes are. Husband suggested that spray painting would be easier and give more even coverage, but like I said, I like to make things hard on myself. Acrylic craft paint worked just fine.


Again - thank you internet! I chose to leave all the abdominal and chest lines off, because I think they look silly. If you have a printer, as I do not, it might be helpful to print out the bat, etc., or at least measure so that you don't end up staring at it later and obsessing over that little crooked bit right there.


It probably would be easier if you did some math and calculations and things. Cross your fingers and wish is not a valid method of design, and I really should learn to do things properly. That said, looks good, right? Everything lined up nicely for me, because I'm some kind of savant.

This is also the point in the evening when you will realise that you also need to make a head for this thing, and text anyone who might want to get in your good books to pick you up a construction tube. (Thanks, Husband!) Or you could just plan better than I did and already have one on hand. In fact, that sounds smart. Do that.


So. You're going to have to cut the tube. Those things are like... eight feet tall. You only need nine inches. Just think of all the other Lego heads you can make with the leftovers! You can either paint that construction tube or, as I did, wrap it in the coloured duct tape of your choice. We left an open space to put the face. I chose a mouth that she could use it to see out of. Again, many examples on the net. I covered the opening with cheese cloth - although I would've preferred white tights/nylons - so that it would be white, but still see through.


At this point in the evening, I broke down and ate some Halloween candy, after realising that she did not have any black pants. Then I sewed her some black pants. Husband was a big help on the cowl part of the costume - which we made using a couple of large sheets of craft foam - because at this point it was after midnight, and I was having some sort of a breakdown.

There is also a really awesome cape that was just a felt cape purchased for $5 at the craft store and then covered with black duct tape and re-shaped a little. It didn't make it into any of the pictures, despite it's awesomeness. Probably because it was super easy to do. Almost boring.


Only getting a few hours of sleep was totally worth it though, to see how happy she was with her costume. To complete the outfit, she wore a long sleeved black shirt, black mittens, and the aforementioned black pants.Now I just have to cross my fingers for her that her head isn't falling off all day.

If I figure out a good way to keep that thing on, I'll let you know.



 



*I've mentioned that I went to school for costume design, yes?
**Or whomever will be wearing it. I know
I'm thinking of being Lego next year.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Should I call the CSA?

We've been getting up late for the past few weeks. It's getting harder and harder to make myself get out of bed now that there's no sun. I don't know if it's true in your house, but in mine, if I don't get up neither does anyone else.

Yesterday, for the first time... ever, I think... I slept through the alarm. It was a mess. There was yelling, and running, and just general chaos. Everyone got out the door, but it wasn't pretty.

This morning, I stumbled out of bed, grumbled at the kids to get up, and shuffled down the stairs to get the day started. I started pulling out stuff for lunch and realised, oh crap, there's not really anything for lunch. I hurriedly pulled ingredients out of the cupboards and turned the oven on. Muffins. Muffins are quick, and healthy, and quick.

The kids wandered in and started eating the cereal I'd put out for them. I corralled Husband and asked him to wash the lunch containers that nobody'd gotten around to washing yesterday. The next twenty minutes were a blur of veggie chopping, hair combing, and bag packing.

They stood at the door, hair neatly in braids, shoes and coats on, ready to go. Shoot, the muffins weren't ready. I glanced at the clock in a panic. 8:00. Wha...?

So now I'm really excited, because I think there's a wormhole in my kitchen. 

Also, muffins.



*The CSA, in case you're wondering...



Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm Still Considering Going Bald.

The thing about lice is that if you don't get in there and scrape the little buggers out, you never get rid of them. You have to confiscate soft toys, pillows, and blankets. You need to clean coats and hats. If one little egg survives that toxic shampoo, or the nit comb, you're in for round two.

Which is (sort of) okay when it's on the kids, because the grownups deal with it. A parent or caregiver (in my house, me) sits there and breaks their back picking the dreadful little beasts and their million eggs out of a kid's hair.

Usually, there's the unspoken knowledge that one person is in charge of this kind of stuff. It's usually the person who is more skeeved out by the idea of tiny bugs feasting on his/her children's scalps, because this person is not content with cursory glances. This person needs to check every single strand of hair. Multiple times.


I'm sure I've said before that Kee hates having her hair combed it. HATES it. Every morning, we go through the same argument when it's time to comb her hair then she gives in, but rails against the injustice of it while I tidy her hair into a braid.

I was dreading having to go through her head over and over again. 

You know what saved me? Netflix. Seriously. My daughter submitted to over twelve hours of hair combing, checking, washing, and more checking because I let her watch two seasons of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated.

Luckily, we only needed Scooby, but I had a whole backup playlist, just in case. 

  
     

What happens though, when that person who does all the checking and obsessing gets it?

I asked Husband to check me that first night. He proclaimed me clear. I didn't believe him. I trust him, but dude doesn't always notice the dishes need doing, or the laundry needs folding; and my head was still itchy.

I called my sister. She found a bug almost instantly, but only a few nits. I used the shampoo on myself the same time I did Kee. Then I checked her head again, and found some more live ones. What the eff, dude. New supplies were in order. I got Husband to check me again.

This time he found a bug. "Is this one?" he asked, holding it out to me. So innocent. "Yes," I replied. "Any bugs that you find on my head should absolutely not be there." Time for a different shampoo.

I had my sister check me again. I had my mum check me. I had my Husband check me again, more thoroughly. After treating my head three times, after wearing a shower cap constantly for an entire week, after changing all of our bedding every day for that week, after being cleared by three different sources; I finally believed them.

What I really need though, is a way to check my own damn head.


*Luckily (knock wood, toss salt, spit &whistle, etc...) Beege never did get them. She wore a shower cap the whole week in the house, and avoided Kee and I like the plague.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Picture Day.


On Beege's first picture day, I sent her off to school with elaborately braided hair, there were flowers tucked in, just so. They matched the pretty red velvet dress that set off her hair brilliantly. (She started school after lunch, so that kind of thing was totally do-able.)

I found those photos in a box this week, as I was (yes, still) unpacking, and it occurred to me that, although they are lovely pictures, that is not what my child really ever looked like. I think from now on, I'd like pictures of my actual kids, not pictures of my kids as "carefully groomed child 1 and 2." So when they asked what they should wear for picture day, I told them to pick out their favourite outfit.

Beege picked her "Math is Beautiful" shirt, and a pair of pants I'd made her. I hugged her and told her that the outfit was "so totally her", and she grinned a big goofy grin that I hope makes it into the picture too. We braided the front of her hair over to the side, and left the back free.

Picture day is the only day I will let them go to school with their hair down, because I'm completely paranoid about lice.

Kee picked little capri pants that I've never seen before and a frilly shirt. Also totally her. This year's pictures are going to be awesome.

Usually she pitches a fit while I'm braiding her hair in the morning. She screams and cries before I'm even touching her. She mightily objects to this year's french braids, even though that was the deal for growing her hair out. Today however, it being Picture Day, she wanted fancy hair just like Beege's.

Beege was getting antsy at the door. She was all ready to go, and hates being made late by her sister, who doesn't really seem to care whether she's on time. Luckily Husband hadn't left for work yet, so I sent them on their way, telling them I'd bring Kee along when I was finished her fancy hair.

As I combed her hair into sections, I saw something move on her head. Somehow, I decided it was a fruit fly. "Why do you have a fruit fly on your head?" I asked, laughing. Then I saw another one. And another one.

"Looks like you're staying home with me today!" I said brightly, my skin crawling. "You can watch a movie, and mummy's going to comb your hair, okay?"
"I get to watch a movie?" she asked skeptically, furrowing her brow.
"Yup!" I replied, as cheerfully as I could, while twisting my hair into an unforgiving knot at the back of my head.
"YAY!"

After calling the school to let them know she wouldn't be in, I  texted Husband to melodramatically inform him that we had an infestation on our hands, and he needed to bring supplies. Then I got down to work. While waiting for him to get home with the lice treatment, I stripped all the beds, bagged all soft items, took everything to the basement, and started up a scalding hot load of towels. Anything that may have touched a head was suspect.

This beautiful, clean, shiny hair? Apparently, lice paradise.

By the time he got back, it looked like the bedrooms had never been lived in. Kee was happily sitting on a stool in front of me watching Scooby Doo while I meticulously checked tiny sections of hair, scraping the nits off individually with my fingernails and dropping them into a cup partly filled with tea tree oil.

Despite my best efforts. Despite the braids, despite the preventative spray, despite the lectures about not sharing hats. Lice. On my kid. Who I had snuggled in the middle of the night after a bad dream. I had fallen asleep with my head on the pillow next to hers, murmuring that it was only a dream and Mummy was there. My scalp started prickling.

Crap.



To be continued...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Already Looking Forward to Next Year.

The first year I went to Blissdom, I was terrified. It was an entirely new thing for me.

Last year, I went again, and I wasn't quite so nervous. My goals changed from "don't crap your pants and pass out" to "talk to at least three new people, attend at least one party." It was easier the second time around, and I'm pleased to say I met my seemingly small goals.

This year? This year was fun. My goals? Stop focusing on my anxiety long enough to actually learn some things. And go to all the parties*.

The first people I met at Blissdom 2012; reunited.

Tara at Don't Lick the Deck, was one of the very first people who spoke to me at my first Blissdom, and I was lucky enough to snag her as my roommate. Christa from Christa Clips, who huddled with me in a corner at that first Blissdom was actually running mini sessions this year!

Kyla (Mommy's Weird), Elan (Schmutzie), and a new friend, Courtney (Moonsoar).

Lesley (who spoke at this year's "Power Hour") was one of those new people I spoke to last year, as was Sunshine, and I was thrilled to have them right next door. I didn't manage to hang out as much as I would've liked with Kyla, but I did hug her pretty much whenever I saw her, and she didn't seem to mind.  

Really, the list of new people I met, and the ones I was happy to see again, is pretty damn long. It's funny how these people, who you talk to on Twitter, who you connect with through blog comments, who you only manage to see once a year, can get to be such good friends.

Sunshine, Lesley, Tara, Jenn and Marya

The sessions I went to ranged from ethical discussions, to how to write for magazines, to how to pitch to work with companies**. I got to listen to some amazing people tell their stories. The funny thing about Blissdom, and I've heard other people mention it as well, is that it's all a blur. The experience is so full, that it's still untangling itself in my head weeks later.

I must've come away with something though, because as soon as I got the lice situation under control, I sat down and sent off my first pitches. Whether I hear back or not... well, the fact that I even hit "send" is a big step for me.

Elan, Natasha, and my long time buddy, Katie.

I try to set a goal after Blissdom. Something that I want to accomplish before I meet all these fantastic people again next year. Just one, and it doesn't have to be big. The first year, it was just talk to people on Twitter so I had people to look out for once I got there.

Once again, among all the other things I took away with me, I heard this message; the only thing that is really in my way is me. I think it's finally starting to sink in. So, this year's goal? Write.

Sit down, shut up, and write.





*The parties this year were AMAZING! The #TBT party on Thursday, sponsored by Kahlua included a giant bouncy game of Twister, Huge game of Connect Four, a giant spread of 80's candy and comfort food, and air brushed tattoos. 
The Friday night party sponsored by Lentils was beyond fabulous. There were carnival games, entertainers, wine tasting booths, and mounds of carnival food. 

**Speaking of which, I want to thank the sponsors of Blissdom Canada. Without them, this wonderful chance for these talented people from all across the country to connect in person wouldn't be possible. There are just too many to name here, but a complete list can be found on the Blissdom Canada site.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yes, but...

So. I got home from Blissdom 2014, where I had a marvelous time with new friends and old, to two sick kids and a lice infestation.

Sure, I've spent the last few days washing and boiling everything, and spent hours and hours hunched over children picking bugs off their heads. Yeah, I've been hauling bedding and towels back and forth to the washing machine pretty much incessantly. Okay, I've been wearing a shower cap for three days and am seriously considering lighting my head on fire if this latest round of lice melter doesn't work.

But this is happening on my kitchen counter, so I'm pretty happy. 


I'll get back to you about all the fun I had at Blissdom. I've got to throw in another load and re-check a kid right now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

50 Things You Never Knew You Wanted to Know.

There's been a lot going on around here lately. You know how it gets when there's so much to write about that it's hard to focus on just one thing? That. Lucky for me, my friend Lillian at It's a Dome Life tapped me for one of these list things. It is incredibly long.


1. What are you wearing?
At the moment, pajamas. Actually, usually, it's pajamas. Or yoga pants. I'm an embarrassment to my mother. 


2. Ever been in love?
Yes indeed. Currently, I'm in love with my husband, my children, and this new sweater I just got that's like a big cozy blanket. 

3. Ever have a terrible break-up?
One of those awful sit alone in my room in the dark and sing all the songs that used to be about "us" while sobbing into his sweater that I found under my bed? Hasn't everyone?

4. How tall are you?
5'5". I come from a family of 6 footers, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm tiny. 

5. How much do you weigh?
The average weight of a woman my age, with two kids, who constantly wears pajamas. 

6. Any tattoos?
Nope. I never found anything I wanted permanently, or that could make me overcome my paralyzing fear of needles. 

7. Any piercings?
Considering the whole needle thing, you wouldn't expect so, but yes. Two in each ear, and I used to have one in my nose, but let it grow over after my (then) newborn painfully yanked it out one too many times.

8. OTP (One true pair, favorite fictional couple?)
Ron and Hermione.

9. Favorite Show?
My favourite show changes every other week. Right now it's Community, mostly because I'm binge watching it with Husband, and I love laughing with him.

10. Favorite Bands?
Hmmm. I will always love Great Big Sea. Tragically Hip. Bobs and Lolo, who are peppy and educational without being manic, have a special place in my heart. The Peyote Kings were awesome (and had a totally crush-worthy bass player). The Interphase Project.

11. Something you miss?
I miss swimming. I haven't been in forever. 

12. Favorite Song?
"Happy" by The Interphase Project*. (Which came out way before Pharell's did. Just saying.)  I'm also very fond of "Stagefright" by David Hein.

13. How old are you?
Younger than I feel, but older than I look. (Definitely older than I act.) 

14. Zodiac sign?
I am a peace loving, balance finding, Libra.

15. Quality to look for in a partner?
Patience and understanding are really important to me. I can be a lot to put up with. A sense of humour helps too.

16. Favorite Quote?


17. Favorite Actor?
I actually don't think I have one. Although, if pressed, I will say that I've liked Steve Carell in everything I've ever seen him in. So him, I guess? Oh, and Mindy Kaling. Love her. Amy Poehler. Tina Fey. Chris Pratt. Most of the cast of Parks and Rec. See what I mean? I can't pick just one.

18. Favorite Color?
Again, situational. More often than not though, it's the colour that the world turns just before full on sunset. That warm friendly orange. 

19. Loud music or soft?
Both. 

20. Where do you go when you are sad?
Depends whether I want to wallow or get over it. I wallow in my bed, curled in a ball with the covers over my head. I get over it outside. 

21.  How long does it take you to shower?
5 minutes. 

22.  How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
5 minutes. But only if it's just me. If it's me and the girls, it takes an hour and a freaking half. 

23. Ever been in a physical fight?
Just once. It sucked, and I've avoided them ever since. 

24. Turn on?
Quick wit.

25. Turn-off?
Bad grammar.

26. The reason I started blogging?
I was incredibly lonely, home alone with a toddler and infant, in the middle of winter.

27. Fears?
Ohmygoodness, where to begin? Clowns, snakes, fish, needles, the dark, axe murderers, failure, meeting new people, success, horror movies with children in them... 

28. Last thing that made you cry?
Someone was mean to my daughter.

29. Last time you said you loved someone?
About five minutes ago. I hand out "I love you"s pretty regularly around here.

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog (Just a Mum?)? 
I was out at dinner with some people and someone asked me "...and what do you do?" I answered that I was pretty busy being a mum at the moment. They snidely replied "JUST a mum?" There's a post around here somewhere about that... hang on... ahh, here it is.

31. Last book you read?
The last book I read was "Loser" by Jerry Spinelli. Before that, it was "File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents" by Lemony Snicket. I read a lot of kids books before I pass them along to the girls so I know what might come up that they'll have questions about. (I also just like YA.)

32. Book you are currently reading?
I usually have a few books on the go, but today, I am actually not reading a single one. I'm actually quite surprised.

33. Last show you watched?
The aforementioned Community. 

34. Last person you talked to?
Kee and Beege. At the same time, because they talk over each other. One was colour theory, and the other was excitement about a contest where you could win a trip for four ("That's ALL OF US!") to Cape Canaveral.

35. The relationship between you and the person you just texted?
My sister, I think. 

36. Favorite food?
"Something saucy, meaty, maybe with noodles... and vegetables." This is what I always ask for when Husband asks what I'd like for dinner, so I'm assuming that's it.


37. Place you want to visit?
That Harry Potter theme park. I really wish I wasn't a muggle. 

38. Last place you were?
The park with the girls.

39.  Do you have a crush?
There's this really cute, kinda nerdy, guy that I like.  He plays bass, and likes the same shows as me, and takes out my recycling every week.

40. Last time you kissed someone?
This afternoon at the park, when Kee bumped her head on the playground equipment. 

41. Last time you were insulted?
Personally insulted? Like, on purpose? I can't even remember. Kee called me a cucumber this morning, but I wasn't particularly insulted.

42. Favorite flavor of sweet?
Caramel. I think.

What instruments do you play?
I don't play anything right now, but I have, at various times in my life, played the following: recorder, piano, violin, and french horn. 

44. Favorite piece of jewelry?
I'm going to go with my wedding ring, because it's the only thing I wear absolutely all the time. 

45. Last sport you played?
Spo..ort? If you're referring to some sort of organised bashing around of a ball or something... uhm... I was on the squash team in high school. 

46. Last song you sang?
Let it Go. Like everyone else in the world.

47. Favorite chat up line?
I don't have one. I'm not the type to approach people with lines. I'm a friend first kind of dater.

48. Have you ever used it?
N/A

49.  Last time you hung out with anyone?
I hung out with Husband on the couch and watched Community last night. Does that count?

50. Who should answer these questions next?Kyla at Mommy's Weird, and Tara at Don't Lick the Deck. (Although they're both very busy ladies, and may not have time for this silliness... go check them out anyway, because they're a couple of my very biggest blog crushes.)



*Kyrie Eliason is pretty excellent too. I've got a total crush on the singer on that one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Where's All The Homework?!

Over the summer, when we were talking about back to school, part of the conversation was about homework. Both of my girls were looking forward to it. We're all a little odd here, but I used to love homework too. I loved all the ruled lines, colourful graphs, and neat rows.

Now that Kee is in grade one, she is finally going to have homework. She's been waiting for so long. When Beege started bringing home worksheets and projects, Kee would sit down with a colouring book or paper so that she could work alongside her. Last year, she took to reading the dictionary so that she could "prepare for all the homework in grade one!"

We decided on where homework would be done, and thought of some strategies to help stay focused. We agreed that a snack would be provided, and that assistance would be available. We bought new pencils to have ready and waiting. 

Sadly, we're in week three, and still nothing. For either of them.

So we've been trying to fill the time we'd earmarked for all that homework with something that seems homeworkish. We've been watching some great movies, and coming up with activities to do surrounding them.

The Lorax is a particularly good one for this, having many themes to discuss; loyalty and friendship, the importance of environmental protection, the slippery slope of greed. Also, it's got some really great songs. We've come up with offshoot stories, drawn our favourite parts of the movie, and talked about the ways that the Onceler could have "biggerred" his business while avoiding destroying the land.

Netflix has a great selection of recommendations this month for getting conversations started.

For the big kids:

       
     
 
 
And for the little guys:
 
(My nephew is particularly fond of Signing Time and Thomas and Friends, while my girls still have a soft spot for Super Why.)

Hopefully, some actual homework will start coming home soon, or I'm going to have to start making my own worksheets.

Which actually sounds really fun.

Oooh... I'm going to go do up some comprehension questions...