Posted by: rocketbride | November 9, 2013

write more; feel better.

I am starting to realize something important, which is that when I stop taking the time to note down the details of my life, the colour bleeds away quickly. I have been deluding myself that it is more important to keep a clean house, or make sure my marking is up to date when neither of those things help me feel good about the life that I’m living. It’s not that I don’t want to be good at keeping house or teaching, but I also need to write in the middle of these things so that I remember why I made this particular life.

Today we were supposed to go to the Royal, but we stayed home on account of mounting credit card debt. This summer was brutal, from vacation to new bathroom, and my constant low-grade anxiety about money certainly isn’t making my spirits rise. Mason skipped Cask Days last month, so we’re all making sacrifices.

Fortunately our kids are kind of ditzy and couldn’t care less about outings. Blake was the only one who remembered that we were supposed to go out and have fun today, and he was just as happy to spend most of the day hanging around the house. Maggie & Sage never knew. It was only me and Mason who cared about skipping the giant vegetables and the fleece auction.

Oh well. We’re both working and in good health; I’m sure this austerity will be temporary and we’ll be back to spending like drunken Irish poets in no time. And until then, there are plenty of cheap and free things in the run up to Christmas. We’ll keep the kids occupied.

Tomorrow, for example, is the Remembrance Day parade with Scouts and all the local veterans. The first time we went out, Sage was as old as Maggie is now. No doubt she’ll be able to maintain a respectful silence throughout the ceremony. Or, as she did last week in church, she’ll pick a sombre moment to scream, “no kisses!!” as she struggles out of my arms. One or the other.

Posted by: rocketbride | October 25, 2013

dear maggie

blake meets maggie

blake meets maggie

You turned two on Wednesday. I’ll be totally honest: it was less of a big deal than when you turned one. It’s not because you’re in some kind of decline, or because we forgot to celebrate or anything, but it’s more because you’re such a hurricane these days that it’s hard to isolate any particular reason to be excited. Waking up is a joy. Breakfast is a restless ecstasy. You demand toys and pacifiers and refuse to back down a set of stairs like a baby. Everything is about your power. You run laps around the kitchen, sometimes shutting your eyes, because that makes it more fun. You need to be everywhere we are, and do everything we do, including toothbrushing, using the toilet, dressing, brushing hair, reading and using the computer. You alternate between using a prodigious store of words and writhing in wordless drama, too overcome to speak at the horror of breakfast. You maintain a fierce independance, screaming, “I. Can. DO IT!!!!” or my personal favourite, “I’m. FINE!!!”

Last year we blasted you with a confetti cannon of birthday love, sitting you in the middle of a whirlwind of good wishes. This year we spread out to birthday joy so you would have a chance to savour it: one gift every few hours, or every few days. You loved your Sesame Street wrapping paper, but you also rediscovered a bunch of older toys, made new with your sudden interest. Everyday you pull a toy out of obscurity and take it on your morning rounds. You just about killed your father with cuteness when you sat a pink bear down and said, “let’s play, Teddy.” Come on.

For more impressive to me is your musicality. Like your brother Sage, your ability to hear and repeat a tune floors me. This year you started to sing, and you don’t wait for anyone else before you start. In fact, if we try to join in, you usually pause, let us run out of steam, and then continue as if nothing had happened. I get it: we listen to you.

It’s so easy to think that the third child will be predictable. We had two dry runs, so how surprising can you be? Well, you have an opinion about that, too. You don’t look like either of your parents, despite the fact that I made us matching sweaters. Every once in awhile we catch a flash of your brothers in what you do, but it’s gone just as suddenly as it appears. You’re supremely happy running in their gang, but you are not the omega: you are no weakling, and you have no problem insisting that something should be done for you or given over. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen your face darken as you yell, “no, das MIIIIINE.” Pillow, toy, couch, parent. It’s all yours.

Next year you will grow and change and run even faster in circles around us. You’ll get interested in underwear–I’m betting you train faster than your brothers, simply because even now you seem more with-it than they are on their best days. You know some of your letters and I can’t wait until you start to recognize words, and unlock the code that keeps all your family members happy. I already miss my sweet little baby, most likely my last, but you’re far from a consolation prize; you’re just a prize.

by loralayne photography.

by loralayne photography.

Posted by: rocketbride | October 14, 2013

hallowe’en 2013

hallowe'en 2013

1. memento mori, 2. fionna and cake, 3. batman, 4. fionna & cake, 5. cake!, 6. cake!

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys

This was a fun year. Blake wanted a store costume (Batman) and went with a vampire again for his school costume. I lavished all of my costume energy on myself and Maggie, working overtime on our gender-flipped Adventure Time pairing. I had wanted to make her a white footed pj as a costume base, but I couldn’t find white fleece anywhere, so I ended up sewing brown patches onto cheap pants and a long-sleeved onesie. I also wanted to make brown mittens, but I gave up after the first one came out very small, and I realized that she never willingly wears mittens anyway. The hat was a quick-n-dirty crochet job, with fun embellishments. I want to knit her a more substantial one and transfer the face in time for winter.

As for me, I almost fell apart on Hallowe’en morning. I lost the knee-highs I bought a month in advance. My teal shirt had grease stains. It was maddening. I ended up with Mason’s sweat socks yanked up high and another teal blouse with stripes. The only thing that I was totally happy about was the backpack I sewed a few weeks back (which you can’t even see in these pictures, but I wore it all day) and the hat, although the ears got heavy after awhile. I don’t know how she does it.

Many kids at school recognized me, more than last year. Awesome!

Posted by: rocketbride | October 10, 2013

he’s got the music in him

Doing this oldschool, because holy shit, the internet couldn’t be any less convenient right now.

I’ve been dogpaddling lately, struggling to keep healthy with marking and kids lashed to my legs. Exercise has been mostly out the window, along with housework. Forget about writing; I’m lucky if I can steal enough time to shove a load of laundry in before I’m summoned to do something else. I’ve been battling a cold much of the week, and I would have been home wallowing in a normal week, but since these are my last days with my 9′s, I felt like I wanted to have every last second with them, sneezing or not.

I’m not sure it it’s all worth it, but at least I have a long weekend to recover.

Blake has been taking piano lessons for a month now, and I’m noticing some interesting changes in the way he’s acting. Not only is he playing short bursts as he runs by the piano, but he’s also telling me all about the different notes. He’s singing along to the radio – just the choruses, but that’s way more than I’ve heard before. Usually he just gets obsessed with geek parodies of Top 40 songs, or he fixates on one song in our collection. This is the first time he’s been so open to music occurring naturally in his environment. It’s kind of awe-inspiring.

Maggie, in contrast, is a bossy little Bette Midler. Not only does she learn songs quickly, she will sing them over and over when you least expect it. Only a 2 year old gets this excited about the alphabet song, and yet it’s kind of amazing everytime she launches into another round…and then plays with the tempo, just to shake things up.

I think she’s more of a Sage than a Blake, but maybe Blake is starting to catch up to his siblings’ precocious musical attraction. It’s not like the Boy is tone deaf; I’ve been expecting some kind of latent musical love to emerge. It’s nice that it’s finally happening.

Posted by: rocketbride | September 21, 2013

the thaddeus

I ran a 10k this morning, the first run I’ve done since my last-minute 5k in the rain. I had high hopes for this race: it took place at the zoo, it was long enough to get me training, and there was a kiddie run component. I suppose that the shortest way to describe my experience is: yeah, no.

First of all, I totally screwed up training. I haven’t been running regularly this summer, and I caught my first cold of the school year two weeks ago, derailing my last-minute prep. It seemed like every time I would set aside time for a run, Mason would ask if he could do something totally reasonable and I gave up my run to watch the kids. As a last-ditch try, I was even going to run home from Bat Masterson on Thursday, but I had to go to a Parents’ Night right after school, then watch the kids on my own. So much for that idea. And in case you think I was constantly frustrated by the demands of family, there were many more nights that I blew off because I felt too tired to drive to the gym after dark and run the track.

So I headed into this run having set a personal record for the least amount of training before a major event. Not only hadn’t I practised the distance, I also didn’t run regularly. The only thing that kept me in it was the idea that I’ve run a 10k before, so how hard could it be?

Of course my day was complicated by two forces of nature: a constant rainstorm and my three children. Breakfast took so long this morning that we were nearly 30 minutes late to pick up my bib number. By the time I started running, half-dressed like a bee but eschewing antenna and wings for a jacket and hat, I was so far behind the event that the volunteers had taken away the mechanism that records the start time. So I may have run way faster than the people who were awarded first place and there’s no way for any of us to prove otherwise.

I ran alone, cheerfully, until I caught up with the truck removing pylons after the formerly final runner, and was able to pull even with the volunteers who were dutifully tailing this man. The three of us ran together until we all caught up with this man, and then they dropped to a walk to keep him company and I kept running. One down, and my mediocre goal of not being the last person in the race was satisfied.

The first 4 km was over gravelly service roads, which became a problem when mixed with the constant rain. I kicked up so much mud that I started to sand away the skin under my sock cuff. After about ten minutes of this, I was so desperate that stopped to rinse my ankle in a puddle. Ridiculous, but effective.

At the 6 km mark, I stopped to go to the bathroom.

Half a km later I ran past the family, cheering me on. I got a kiss from them all, and a chunk of fruit from Blake.

I finished strong, running through the hilly terrain as best I could. My one stitch was fairly early, and I ended with an unofficial time of an hour, even. That’s 12 minutes better than I did last spring, on the downhill course. I suppose there’s something to be said for not wanting to be the very last to straggle across the line.

marathon is not happy about me uploading this.

marathon is not happy about me uploading this.


We visited some pavilions, and I reconciled myself to being cold and wet, as the rain was too intense for me to have any hope of keeping my new outfit dry. We all liked seeing the animals, and we were all pretty happy until it was time for the kids’ run. As soon as we walked outside, I remembered why I had wanted to look at chimpanzees under a roof. And of course, my kids are perpetually set on contrasting speeds, so while I was dragging Sage by the hand Blake took off ahead. We found them just before it was time to start, Blake worming ahead to the first row and Sage staying behind with me. I had thought that I would easily be able to keep up with the official slowpoke of the family, but he soon began to put on irregular bursts of speed and lost me a few times. By the end of the race, I didn’t have either kid.

After we rounded up both and got their official photos, we toured the African pavilion (my favourite) and then spent way too much money on a delicious pizza. Not waiting to eat turned out to be a good call, as we spent the next 90 minutes in traffic, trying to get to the Annex for a Gene Yang event. We made it just before the end of the talk, where I found out that:

  1. Gene Yang is delightful
  2. Gene Yang teaches high school (computer programming!)
  3. Gene Yang has a son Blake’s age, who was the inspiration for Prime Baby, and he only just started to let his son read the non-Monkey King parts of ABC


Everything else this afternoon was getting soaked by the rain and sitting in the car, inching forward through the rain. I’ve spent upwards of 4 hours in the car today, and I didn’t even go very far. Rip off.

Posted by: rocketbride | September 12, 2013

not even wensleydale?

I should be running but I wimped out. I’ve been feeling like garbage tonight; the kids are helping out by being especially belligerent and it’s all I can do to keep from yelling the wave out of their hair. So instead of doing anything regrettable, I made this:

cheese scene

(My ex-husband writes for an online magazine called ChiZine, and he’s been taking Blake to a few events. Every time Blake says that name, this magazine is what I picture.)

Posted by: rocketbride | September 10, 2013

video killed the morning list stars

Sick day…sick, sick day…

Yes, the only thing more classic than a placeholder entry is the ol’ sick day entry. I’m sneezy and achey, so I took the day to lie on the couch, read a new book and eat sunflower seeds. I also spent half the morning getting my kids ready for their day, so I didn’t wuss out completely (just partially). Blake is a big fan of routine, so he gets anxious on my sick days and often demands to go see his grandparents anyway. This morning he ended up staying with me, but it wasn’t a smooth decision, not by a long shot. For her part, Maggie is just getting over her turn with the cold, so she’s feeling fairly clingy and screechy. Last night I left her to drive Blake to his gymnastic lesson and she had a melt-down on the lawn that was nearly comical in its operatic flights of sorrow. Mason and I were laughing even as we tried to comfort her. So this morning I stuck to her like glue, going so far as to use the baby trekker to strap her on while I made a bagel so that she would stop screaming like a pterodacyl. After we had a bit of a walk and some playtime in the sandbox, she was ready for adventures with Ampa, so off she went on the front of the bike and I was left to pursue comfort snacks and the almost-forgotten joys of uninterrupted reading.


I wasn’t always sick, though. Once I wrote an article and made a video to go along with it, and today it was published in Bunch, along with a photo I took of my memento percepi that I didn’t use in that post. This one:

back to school tableau

Right now the video has fewer views than the one with Blake and Sage dancing to “Gagnam Style”, which is right and proper. That video is hilarious.


Speaking of tearing up the wedding dance floor, we went to a family wedding on Saturday, an event so auspicious that we booked a hotel room and got a babysitter for the kids. Mason & the groom are cousins, and used to hangout when they were kids and teenagers. A few of the guests remembered Mason from those days and insisted on calling him nicknames he couldn’t even remember, like “Kramer” and “Ghandi”. The whole thing was a lot of fun, and I loved dancing with Mason to 80′s oldies and 60′s oldies and even some 90′s oldies. I mean, the dj wasn’t Shannon, but it was fun nonetheless. I also got a fair amount of time with Aili, a sweet little cousin that was my Maggie-away-from-home, and her mom Tia. You’d think that I wouldn’t volunteer to change a poopy diaper while dressed in a big pink dress, but if made me feel useful so I went ahead.

There was a lot of drama in the hotel after we went back: cop cars with sirens blazing, exhausted women in beautiful dresses who didn’t want help, and a couple staying with their kids who had intervened when one of the wedding guests started destroying his room. Fortunately Mason and I were apart from the action, and we could go to sleep in our luxurious, playpen-free hotel room without worrying about what drama was still unfolding.

Posted by: rocketbride | September 5, 2013

unwanted mothering advice central

I should be running tonight, but I’m clearly not. I blame the week, which has over-extended me and given me a touch of plantar fascitis in the bargain, but it’s probably my fault for not going to bed as early as I should.

Normally this wouldn’t stress me out, but this has been a bad summer in terms of regular running, and I foolishly signed up for a 10k that occurs two weeks from now. I know what other runners would say: you can’t cram for this, and there’s no law that says you have to run the whole distance. Still, it would be nice if I could break 2k (!) this week.

I’m starting to enjoy my classes. I have 9 Dawns this year, a small quiet class of mostly girls that has been unfailingly polite and respectful so far. The last time I had a 9 class I didn’t even learn their names before I left to have Maggie, but I’m trying to put more into this year so that I won’t feel guilty later. Also, it’s necessary field work if I’m to help create an accelerated course for next year’s new program, a huge school-wide undertaking that we started last year. (I’m even travelling for training: two days in a conference room in the sexy Tampa suburbs. Everyone’s more excited about this than I am.)

The other big thing at school is Teija’s news: she’s building a baby boy as we speak. I’m trying not to go mental on her, but it’s really, really hard. She’s lucky that I already gave away my maternity clothes or I’d be hurling them at her and babbling about knitting patterns.

Posted by: rocketbride | September 3, 2013

memento percepi

I am a goddess tonight.

Not only did I get through the whole first day of school without yelling at anyone, tonight was my first Girls’ Night In of the year. This meant that I cooked dinner, cleaned up the room, bathed the baby, put her to sleep, did my usual tidying and my daily mission and my 15 minutes of de-cluttering, all with a silly baby (although to be perfectly honest, I got a lot more done once she was in bed.) This is normal, however; what makes me a goddess is that I also made chocolate chip banana bread.

Also, I set up this last night, in preparation for our first school morning…

cheerios and the tableau

back to school tableau

It’s not a mememto mori (remember: you will die); it’s a memento percepi (remember: you will learn).

(Why yes, that is squishy Yorick and the skull I used to prop-bomb the TBoNTB launch.)

Posted by: rocketbride | September 2, 2013

we beat on

It’s been a busy few days, our events compressed and layered to take advantage of the last week of summer vacation. On Friday we went to the Ex, following last year’s pattern of two mostly-separate groups pursuing different pleasures. If my parents weren’t along, I would have a more harmonious day: some rest for Maggie and some rides for Blake. But for some reason my parents act as if the world owed Blake rollercoasters, so they treat him and one of his friends to a noisy day of loops and spins. I was bothered by it last year, but this year I just let it all happen; I let them pick him up from my house and spend their day how they wished.

Meantime I had my perfect day at the Ex with my sweet baby and my sweeter husband. We took full advantage of the kiddie playground I used to scorn as “not special enough,” and when we got bored of pushing Maggie on swings we toured Farm, Food & Fun as slowly as we wanted. There was a lot of petting sheep & llamas, let’s say. Maggie got a firetruck tattoo from the fire station that she still wears proudly, and I got to eat pierogies at a crowded table. It was pretty perfect.


On Saturday we took Blake & Maggie to their first Jays game. (Sage was also supposed to be there, but his mom had different plans.) If I’ve ever been to the Dome before I’ve blocked it out; somehow I expected our seats to be in Exhibition Stadium, long aluminium benches with no shelter. Instead we were lodged high above the field, crammed together in the greasy 500′s under a closed dome. Maggie squirmed along the row, through grandparents and back to her parents whenever she got restless (which was always). They only way we could get her to stay still was to feed her, so she ate hotdog, popcorn, grapes and anything else she could get her sticky little hands on. My parents & in-laws sat in the middle of the row, which meant that I was the one who was on the hook for food & snacks throughout the game, which was expensive but ultimately ok since my own restlessness was tamed by my regular treks for lunch, snacks, bathroom breaks for myself, bathroom breaks for the kids, and so on. And I think there was also a baseball game being played.

(Just kidding. I cheered as much as anyone else when we did something good. If my ten year old self could see me at that game, she would have grimaced in disgust before turning back to her John Bellairs book. Having kids is much more distracting than a book, and a much better excuse to eat constantly. It’s probably better that I didn’t find this out until now.)

Things slid downhill after the win. My mom went off with the boys to stand in a massive line to run the bases; we tried to find a good place to see them but I ended up missing them when I was walking around with Maggie. And someone threw up on Mason’s dad, which I found out about just as my mom returned without the boys.

“Well, we’ve lost the kids,” I said when I saw Mason. “And a drunk guy puked on your dad.” We giggled a bit at the magnitude of the disasters befalling us.


Mason has been feeling sick for the last few days, so yesterday we took it easy: church, a 50k bike ride, apple picking, and “The Great Gatsby.” We are no doubt the last people on earth to see Gatsby, so perhaps I am a bit late in recommending it highly. It was awesome!!

And now I’m super-confused about the last line: is the current taking us into the past, so our efforts are to live in a future (as in Gatsby’s relentless self-creation)? Or is the current taking us into the future, and we’re trying desperately to get to the past (as in Gatsby’s obsession with making the past 5 years disappear)? Also, as much as I love both Gatsbys, I have to ask the question posed by J.K. Simmons in “Burn After Reading”: what have we learned from all this? Pretty women are unreliable? Old money always wins? The artist is the only one who emerges unscathed? No one cares who buys the champagne? The pursuit of the American Dream is flawed because the class system is relentless? Don’t let your girlfriend drive your custom car?

gatsby car

I walked out of the theatre chattering incessantly about all of this. Apparently I’m still at it.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 349 other followers