Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Prerogative

I don't always believe in blogging for no reason. And I don't always believe in talking about blogging in blog posts. And I don't always believe in blogging, period. But today, I guess, I do. I can change my mind.

When one of my younger cousins was just learning to speak, we liked to ask her, "Hannah, what is it when a woman changes her mind?"

And Hannah, in a tiny little toddler voice, would squeak out some of the only words in her fledgling vocabulary: "It's a woman's prerogative." Just like that, like a sweet little parrot. We'd all laugh and coo and she'd beam, not understanding what she'd said but understanding that it was what we'd wanted her to say, whatever it was, and it was all very adorable.

It's what I think about whenever I change my mind now. It's my prerogative.

Sullivan's at that stage now, the talking and not always understanding and parroting and coming up with his own strange strings-of-words stage. It's my favourite. He's always using these big hand gestures and stuttering and trying to figure it all out. He says stuff out of the blue.

"Mom, you're going to wreck dad's heart." (I don't know where he got this combination of words from.)

"Mom, I love you when you're sleeping." (Okay...I don't...I don't know where he got this combination of words from either.)

"Winnie the Pooh is so polite!" (True.)

"Mom, you look dumb."

Obviously, we have to have talks sometimes. Like, when he said I looked dumb, for example, I was, you know, startled. At first. And then I realized how often I slouch into the kitchen on my way out the door and say to Barclay, "Ugh. I look so dumb."

So, obviously, I need to stop doing that.

I explained to Sullivan that we don't call our mothers dumb, and he looked confused for a minute and said, "Do you look fantastic?"

And I looked confused for a minute and said, "Okay, sure."

And he said, "Does dad look dumb?"

And I said, "We don't call anyone dumb, okay?"

And he looked confused again and said, "Can we call the dishwasher dumb?"

And I looked confused again and said, "I don't...think so? I mean. Well, yeah. But no."

Like, who put me in charge of this?

But it really is a fun age. He's still super into drumming and would watch instructional drumming videos on YouTube for hours if I let him - like, I put on a straight-up video of a guy standing in front of a drum set talking about paradiddles and he leans into the screen, unblinking, and when it's over he says, "Again." He made his own the other day too; I should upload it in case any of you want to learn how to drum. The other night I heard him talking to himself as he was falling asleep: "Hi. What's my name? Is my name Neil Peart? Yeah! It is! I am Neil Peart!"

Anyway. I also wanted to update you all on the gardening situation (I totally just typed "guardenting," thank goodness for autocorrect, what is wrong with me): I planted some fruits and vegetables in planters on my back porch and they're all alive still. I promise to update you again the next time something this exciting happens.

Lastly, I turned 29 on Monday, so that's a milestone I guess. I'm pretty old and pretty young now, compared to five year-old and 95 year-old me. I tried out Snapchat the other day and now I think I'm going to quit it because it makes no sense at all to me. I'm Instagram age. That's okay with me. Time to start exclusively wearing shoes that are good for my feet and yelling at the kids who play tag on my front lawn.

It's my prerogative.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Farmhouse Update #1

I went to the farm a couple of weekends ago and Mom took me to see what she's been up to on that old farmhouse. It's slow work right now; she's currently stripping the white-yellow paint off all of that beautiful old wood. Can you say 'tedious?' (I don't doubt you can, you bright young thing.)

She's already done the bannisters on the staircase and the doorway between the living room and the dining room. Next: baseboards.

Want to see some before and afters?



And the staircase... BEFORE:


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Bread, Thora Birch, and a Book Announcement

After the train wreck that was last week, I was going to sit down just now and write that this week has been better. But then I began to write about my morning and realized that it's just last week all over again. Hold me.

I was baking bread, see, and realized halfway through, right around the crucial no-turning-back point, that I didn't have any yeast in the fridge. I'd been so proud of myself for getting right to it so bright and early - I thought I'd have it finished by nap time - and now I'd have to run to the grocery store and set myself back. Sullivan and I were still in our PJs and hadn't had breakfast yet, so there was a lot of pants-putting-on and missing-other-shoe-locating that isn't usually a part of my bread making routine.

We made it out the door in record time, though, and guess what happened when I got to the cash register with my yeast?

I will tell you; it seems relevant: I opened my wallet and found an empty slot where my debit card should have been. In case you missed my last blog post, let me fill you in on the significance of this: I just got a new debit card last Thursday. I lost my last one last week. Into thin air. Poof. Smoke. Magic. Rabbits.

I stared at the cashier like an idiot for a few moments, and then said, in this really sad, really small voice, "I don't know where my money is."

And she said, "Okay."

And I said, "That's the kind of week it's been." There was a Canadian journalist who used to say that (or something like it) at the end of every news broadcast. I always hear his voice when it comes out of my mouth.

She shrugged at me, and I realized I shouldn't say stuff like this to cashiers. They can't do anything for me, probably just want me to be a grownup and take care of my stuff like grownups [supposedly] do. Probably just want me to pay or get out of the way.

Gasp, I thought. Am I turning into an oversharer? The woman in public who goes up to other women in public and empties her heart out, like a bucket, on the floor in front of them? Who thinks strangers actually want to know how you are when they ask how you are?

So I got out of the way. I offered to put my yeast back and she smiled kindly and said she didn't have much else to do (the store was dead; it was, as previously established, early in the morning). That was nice of her. I picked Sullivan up and made my way back to my car, wondering what to do next.

He was confused. We'd come to the store for yeast, picked out the yeast, brought the yeast to the cash register, and were now leaving without the yeast. "Mom? Where's the yeast?"

I sighed. "I can't find my debit card, so we can't buy anything right now."

He grinned at me. "Debit card." It was not an unknowing grin. He was implicating himself.

I set him down on the ground by the flowers at the store entrance. I held his little hands and studied his little face. "Sully. Do you have my debit card?"

"Yeah. I do."

Sully's little still; when he says, "yeah," it could really mean either yes or no. He doesn't always understand the question. But when he tacks an "I do," on the end, it means he knows what I mean and he means what he said. I searched his person.

Imagine my relief upon discovering my lost debit card in his jacket pocket!
Imagine my distress upon discovering that I'm raising a pickpocket!

I immediately thought of one of my favourite childhood movies, Monkey Trouble, starring Thora Birch. She adopts this monkey who was trained by a con man to pickpocket...anyway. It's not important. It's barely relevant.

Thora Birch was my fave back then though. You should know that about me.

(While I was writing this, I remembered that my bread was in the oven, and that I'd forgotten to set a timer. I'm beginning to suspect that part of my brain has actually shut down.)

This blog post is out of control. I'm just now going to get to the actual point, which has nothing whatsoever to do with bread or Thora Birch.

I wanted to tell you about something that has taken up most of my free time this spring: I've been co-writing a book with my lovely friends over at Coffee+Crumbs! It's all come about pretty fast: last November (I think?), we got an email from Harper Collins wondering if we wanted to write a book, and we said yeah, and they said ok, and so we did. It's a book of essays about motherhood, and it's really quite beautiful (to read but also to look at). Ashlee handed in the manuscript yesterday and it's due in bookstores next April, which feels like a very long time from now.

Ashlee wrote a much better, more thorough, book announcement here.

I may never be 90's-era Thora Birch, but I will be a published writer, and that, I think, is also good and fun.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Life of a Mediocre Juggler

I'm not a terrible metaphorical juggler.

(I'm an awful literal one, but it's not a skill set I'm all that sorry to miss out on.)

But as a word picture to describe how I am at keeping all the proverbial balls in the air? I don't stink. I'm not exceptional, like most of my friends appear to be - I can't, say, juggle flaming batons while riding a unicycle across a tightrope (this is how I see anyone who has more than one child or works a full-time job or has a clean house not just when they're expecting company*). I don't do swords and I don't do any kind of fancy behind-the-back-under-the-leg tricks. I can't even juggle more than two or three balls at a time, if I'm being honest - but I feel like I'm consistently trying, consistently doing the basic throw-catch-throw-catch-throw-catch...

This week, I dropped all the balls. All of them. I lost my debit card, first of all, and in looking for it discovered that I'd also lost Sullivan's health card. This made me extremely anxious - what other cards were in my wallet that aren't anymore? And where did they go?

And then I locked myself out of my car, downtown, with Sullivan in my arms, five minutes before nap time, only a few hours before we were supposed to leave town for a funeral. I was supposed to be down there getting my debit card replaced (I forgot to, in the end, and went a solid week without any money). And then I tried to call Barclay for help and my phone ran out of batteries before I could tell him where I was (other than "downtown"). Upon arriving back in town after an exhausting weekend, I completely forgot about an important commitment and a coffee date. My kitchen piled up with plates and pots and pans and mixing bowls, and dust bunnies began to burst forth from every nook and cranny - the large, cranky kind of dust bunny, the kind with teeth and claws. They did not come bearing chocolate eggs in pretty pastel baskets. Suddenly, I discovered that we owned all of the clothes in the world and they were all dirty, overflowing from laundry hampers I didn't even know existed. All the weeds in the yard began to rally together in an attempt to overthrow me and, indoors, Sullivan's toys did the same. I suspect there may have been some communication between the two, an alliance, if you will. That's what I get for opening the windows to let some fresh air in.

To top it all off? I had a book deadline on Friday, but in my head it was Sunday. I got a text from my boss (heyyyy, Ashlee) on Friday night at 10 pm, all like, "Hey, Suzy, where are all these thousands of words you said you'd send me?"

I was like, "What day is it, even?" She was super kind about it, and I made it by the skin of my teeth (ew, what a terrible expression), but still. It was dumb of me.

Such is the life of a mediocre juggler, I guess. Picture it with me: We're some kind of street troupe, all busking together on a sidewalk. My friends are throwing swords and kittens and full glass jugs of milk in the air while simultaneously standing on their heads and jumping rope and eating breakfast. And then I'm there with three squishy red balls on the ground in front of me, looking terribly confused. That's the state of things right now.

And now you may be asking yourself, "What is the point of this blog post other than a shameless cry for pity?"

There is none. Please pity me. That's all.

* This week, I asked Sullivan to help me clean the living room and he said, "Why? Are we having company?"

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Gardener

My father-in-law came over this morning and mowed our lawn. I didn't ask him to, he just did. He may have been feeling some second-hand embarrassment for us (our lawn-mower is busted and our yard looked like the one in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids), but I know he mostly just did it out of the goodness of his heart. He's one of those people.

So then Sullivan and I spent our morning out there; he sat in his sandbox and rode his tricycle while I read a book. It was so relaxing not having to worry about losing him in a clump of grass or having him eaten by a lioness who could conceivably be lurking nearby in that jungle of a backyard. Bless you, Marty.

So then, I was looking around myself at all of the dirt and empty space where the previous owners had probably planted things and I thought, "I should be a gardener." I pictured myself picking stuff and eating it, not having to make so many trips to the grocery store, having people walk through my yard and say, "You have such a green thumb, Suzy!" It was a great daydream.

I would go to the store! I would buy seeds and gardening tools! I would have a bountiful feast on the supper table by the time Barclay arrived home from work tonight and I'd say to him, "Look at the fruits of my labour! I grew this all myself!"

And he'd say, "Even the spaghetti?"

And I'd say, "Yeah!"

So I got out my phone and started Googling. It was exactly like the time I wanted to make croissants from scratch and Googled croissant recipes.

This one looks decent. What does this entail? Hm... Wait, why do I have to leave the dough in the fridge overnight? I want croissants today. New recipe. Seriously? This one too? Okay, what do they mean, "laminate the dough"? What do they mean, "pliable but not cold"? Why is this recipe fifty-four pages long? New recipe. Why are they all like this? Different Google search: Easy, fast croissants. Nothing. New Google Search: Croissant hacks. Nothing. 

I never ended up making my own croissants, by the way. I went to the grocery store and got those canned Pillsbury ones. They're delicious anyway, and take approximately twenty minutes from start to finish, grocery trip included. Someone else does all the work, I do all the eating.

...Much like vegetables.

Maybe I'll plant some tulips and call it a day.