Wednesday, December 30, 2009
However, I'm always sad to put away the Christmas stories, but I do it. It makes them more special the next year.
So, today, I say good-bye to our beautifully illustrated The Nativity by Julie Vivas. The Angel Gabriel descends on wispy, watercolour wings to give the message to Mary...and he's wearing work boots. There's a page with the sequence of Mary's belly growing, much to her surprise. My favourite illustration is when Mary (being GREAT with child) is trying to steer the donkey down a steep hill with a big smile on her face. This book makes the story of Mary and Joseph so human. The baby Jesus looks like a real baby in both his posture and his expression. Kieran is also fascinated by his anatomical accuracy. Love it.
Then, there's bear. We love Karma Wilson's bear stories in our house. And I love the fact that she breaks the publishing house rules of having both rhyming text and anthropomorphic animals. Perhaps it's because she does this so well, there's not much room for less skillful approaches. I also appreciate Jane Chapman's illustrations of the animals. They look like real animals but have convincing emotional expression.
Poor Bear slept through the previous Christmas. This year, his friends make sure he stays awake. As they make their Christmas preparations, Bear keeps falling back into hibernation. Finally, he's the only one awake when a special visitor arrives. Kieran enjoys all the little gifts the animals make for each other. Go back to sleep until next year, Bear.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Then, as Stella grows up, the world is no longer as daunting--she gains mastery over it. Her imagination doesn't disappear, it changes. Yet, when her little brother, Sam, comes along, she's able to share her wonder with him. It's a good story for cuddling and admiring the beautiful artwork.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Here's one of our favourites, published by Annick Press...
Kieran loves this story because he loves animals, especially cute, mischievous ones. I love this book because of the eternal optimism of these two little moles. Everything is an adventure and obstacles provide opportunity. There is a subtle celebration of nature whether the sisters befriend a piece of moss or go roaming through a field of wheat. There are four little illustrations per page and the text is poetic in its economy. Even though the protagonists are feminine, I think the story appeals to both boys and girls because of the sense of adventure. These girls are resilient and resourceful. Lovely...
Oh...and each story takes about two minutes to read so you can read FIVE WHOLE STORIES in ten minutes...not that time matters for a tired parent trying to negotiate bedtime...
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Merry Christmas everyone!~
I'll be back in a few days...
Must make merry!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
So...I won't write about gluten-free cooking/baking in this blog as much.
Make sure you also check The Brockville Voice link to the left for my Christmas column.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Shari also taught me how to make these little snowflakes from rolled paper (not rolling paper, although that might work too). Just cut the paper into strips (or use a shredder) and roll the paper around a skewer. Glue the end to form a little spiral. Then, glue them all together in any shape that looks snowflakey.
Kieran painted coloured paper with glitter. Then, I cut out shapes and made this card. I also used his finger paintings to make snowflake cards. Maybe if I start now, I'll have enough for next year.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
These photos are a few weeks old but I've been having camera trouble.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Some days we're moving in different directions. We often have different goals. For instance, I want Kieran to use the potty, and he clearly can't because of his language barrier, being Spanish and all. I toil all morning making gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate chips cookies (for which the ingredients cost more than the sweater I'd love to buy) only so he can eat the first two out of the oven and shun the rest. So--as Jackie so eloquently said--Kieran enjoys the view while I slog away uphill.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Things have changed.
Now, I wait in joyous anticipation as the radio lists off the bus cancellations. Do I love my job any less? No. I just accept the gift of snow days more graciously. Actually, I've come to my senses.
I no longer worry about the curriculum. Maybe that's because I teach drama and no one but me knows (or cares!) what the curriculum covers. But even in an academic course, a day off for the students now and then can boost everyone's energy. Now, I see snow days as a chance to get all those little things done that keep piling up. I feel refreshed and organized when the kids come back.
Because teachers still go to school on snow days.
However, there's a different energy in the air. Since we're all in separate classrooms most of the day and then fly to extra-curriculars at lunch and after school, there's little time to chat. Staff rooms on snow day mornings are magical places. People linger and laugh with coffee. Love it.
And I like to imagine the kids at home: sleeping in, watching soaps, going sledding. It's all good.
C'mon Mother Nature--one more before Christmas!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
"You poor things, having to go out in that. Try not to make noise on your way out the door."
I used to find it especially frustrating when Findley would wake us at 6:00am with persistent purrs and kitty kneads only to be back asleep on his chair by seven, just as we left for work.
But life is not all tuna fish and cat nip for our kitty. Poor Findley's life has changed. He was my baby before Kieran came along. While I still adore him, he knows his status has changed. He has to sleep in the basement now. Sometimes, we run out of soft food. We forgot to unpack his Christmas stocking this year. I would say he's accepted these changes with grace and dignity. In those rare moments, when Kieran is occupied and I sit down to read a book, Findley is right there, willing to take whatever love he can scavenge.
Or, maybe he never really cared, which is more likely. As long as he's fed, has a place to sleep, a clean litter, and the odd scratch behind the ear, he'll stick around. And we're glad he's here.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Peter: Hello? Andrea Cameron?
Andrea: Oh great, a telemarketer. Yes...
Peter: Hi, this is Peter ______ from the annual ______ Literary Contest.
Andrea: Hi. Why is he calling? Am I shortlisted? Did I win? Oh, I must have won. Of course!
Peter: I'm calling regarding your submission.
Andrea: Oh... I'm shortlisted! I knew it! I'm a literary genius and now the world will know! I will become part of the canon of Canadian literature alongside Alice Munro, Timothy Findley, and Margaret Atwood. Yes, my name would look lovely in that list.
Peter: Well, actually, it's about your payment. Oh no, I think she thinks I'm calling to tell her some good news.
Andrea: Is something wrong? Oops. Maybe I'm not a genius.
Peter: Actually, your cheque was returned to us...This is so awkward.
Andrea: That's strange. Insufficient funds? Identity theft? A joke?
Peter: You dated it 2010. Loser.
Andrea: I see. Can I still send another? I am such a loser.
I was having such a good hair day. I should have known it would end like this.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I feel like shouting this news from the rooftops! I just made a delicious gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookie. Kieran and I both ate one and stared at each other in disbelief. We are both accustomed to my creations turning out a little...dry...crumbly...chick pea-tasting...blah. Now, we rejoice.
What they heck was in them then? you ask. Bob's GF flour, coconut oil, vanilla, applesauce, ground flax seed, xanthan gum, salt, evaporated cane juice...nothing too strange or difficult to find. I found the recipe from--you guessed it--Baby Cakes. I'd love to include the recipe here but I didn't create it so then it might be an intellectual property sort of issue.
Honestly, I'm not working for them or anything. It's just the best darn cookbook I've found for my boy's food issues.
Sue's Christmas Pottery Sale
Saturday, December 5th, 11am-5pm
293 Albert St., Kingston, ON
*some of Sue's early work
*pots from a personal collection
*sale items/end of line selections
***a portion of the profits go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation
Sue is a dear friend of mine and an amazing potter. She was my first pottery teacher. If you're in the area, going would be worthwhile.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Here's the link:
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Oh! The Brockville Santa Claus Parade!
the famous Shriners' mini-vehicles (how did that tradition start, anyway?)
the propeller blades were a little unnerving...
and, of course....
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
At the same time, I've been to landfill sites enough times to be able to picture it just lying in a pile of garbage. I think that's why I'm such a pack-rat. I don't keep it for me. I just can't picture this stuff outside in the dump. So much plastic...
How many times do we fix something that just won't work properly? Why can't appliances last longer...like they did in the previous generation? Now, things are designed to break and we go back to buy more, often from the same company.
I've never been particularly hard on this vaccuum. We don't even have carpet. Now, it sounds like a jet taking off--with rocks grinding in the engine. And the suction is sad. The other day it passed over the same piece of lint over and over without picking it up. Honestly...
So, do I pay to fix this AGAIN or do we chuck it? Maybe someone will take it for parts. Who knows? All I know is that a vacuum that isn't even used on carpet should last longer than ten years.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
how satisfying to throw rocks in the river
"Hurry up, Mom!"
"Which one should I throw?"
my boy still loves the sand...still throws it at people way too much...
my happy boys
this is sooooo Shari...quiet resolve...caring and calm...
beauty...makes me think of Mrs. Harvey, my favourite teacher
Friday, November 20, 2009
There is no one way to be a perfect mother, but there are a billion ways to be a good one.
Ah-ha. That's it.
In the early days of Kieran's life, when it felt like advice flowed as freely as the breastmilk he refused to drink, I remember thinking that I really sucked. I would certainly be rotten mother. As I fought against the instincts that told me to keep trying to nurse, to let my baby sleep beside me, to answer his cries, I remember one day stopping in my tracks and realizing something that has carried me through some pretty tough parenting moments.
There are many ways to raise a child.
What works for one person, doesn't work for another. What helps one child sleep sends another into a frenzy. One baby might nurse like they've discovered the nectar of the gods, while another (like mine) will scream and arch for two weeks until he makes up his mind about the whole situation.
I'm not against getting advice. Much of the advice from other moms has helped me greatly. But, as Jackie says, it's not all or nothing.
So...I've been thinking about what makes me a good mom. How often do we truly pat ourselves on the back?
This is what I cherish in my own mothering, because these things work for our family...
I stay with my child until he falls asleep.
I count his blessings with him every night--and I try REALLY hard not to react when he says he's thankful for shopping...
I read to my son.
I try not to "teach" him things--I do things with him and hope he'll glean the skills.
I bake with him.
We go for aimless walks around the neighbourhood.
I sing to him...poor little soul.
I feed him good food.
I make sure he gets his rest.
I hug him...a lot.
We do lots of art...and I try not to take over...sigh...
I repeat his feelings to him...and I don't insist that he be happy and agreeable all the time.
I laugh with him.
Of course, the list of things that make me feel guilty is much longer. But after making this list, I feel pretty darn good that I'm doing okay. Do it now. Make a little list of the ways you're a good parent. It's important to know what we're doing right. We need something to hold onto when we get clocked in the side of the head with an airborne Lightning McQueen or accidentally drive down the road with the car door open.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
It reminds me that friends and family are such an important part of healing. Thanks to everyone who hosted, participated, and donated. What a great idea!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
A little boy counts his blessings...
Thank you for my family.
Thank you for my cat.
Thank you for my neighbourhood.
Thank you for sleeping.
Thank you for sideways walking on the balance beam.
My niece won the "Optimism Award" in her Senior Kindergarten class. My brother told me this story as an example of this quality.
Briana was drawing at the kitchen table. Her intention to make a Christmas tree was thwarted when she realized she'd drawn the triangle upside down.
"Oh well, Mommy. It can be an ice cream cone now."
Aw...the glass sure is half full...
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Okay, as with most mother-child art projects, I took over a bit. I let Kieran stick on the eyes. Then, I found myself adjusting and re-arranging to the point where my son was a spectator. Sigh. Must work on that...
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
the church in Donaldston
a red island road
Monday, November 9, 2009
So, before the sun even rose, we got to work trying out two recipes from my new Baby Cakes cookbook. Since becoming gluten-free and sugar-free, I've desperately missed banana bread and corn bread. And so the experimenting began.
The thing I like about these recipes is that the ingredients are whole foods. Some gf cookbooks I've tried have dubious ingredients. I also have mixed feelings about chick pea flour. I know it's healthy and it works well for texture, but sometimes, it feels like I'm eating a "banana flavoured dry crumbly felafel" instead of banana bread.
Sunday morning felt like real baking. The house was filled with that smell, that baking smell. When we came back from our walk, there were two lovely things cooling on the stove--just like old times.
My boy helped me mix. Everytime I'd put another item into the bowl, he'd stir softly and whisper, "ingredients."
And the results made me weep. Well, not quite, but almost.
The banana bread is moist and holds together beautifully. The corn bread...well, I think it's worthy to accompany my chili. That's something that has been missing from my life for the past three years. A good cornbread recipe to go with my chili. Yay!
Now, I think this Erin McKenna woman is a genius. I'm grateful that she spent the time to test all of these recipes for those of us who struggle in isolation, trying to find good things to replace our comfort foods.
So, if you're gluten-free and want to decrease the refined sugar in your diet...need I say more. It is vegan but I don't see any reason why you couldn't replace rice milk with dairy milk, if that's what you prefer. I followed the recipes closely because I wanted to see how they worked.
Make sure you check my two new links. You can read my columns in The Brockville Voice by clicking on the link to the left.
I also set up a link to my story "Getting Set," which was published in the Brockville Recorder and Times on Saturday.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
"Kieran. Gazebo. Happy."
So we met up with our good friends, the Gardiners, and walked on over for some sunshine and a play. Then, across the field, we saw the good ol' Mulville Boys running towards us.
view from the 1920s gazebo
three-year-old Zen meditation
"Mommy, come see!"
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The summer before last, while on the island, I went with my mother and sister-in-laws to see a traditional rug-hooking studio. The pieces they made were so beautiful, I decided I'd like to learn. Along with two other friends, I signed up for a course at Picket Fence Fabrics in Brockville. Our first project is a "Welcome" sign. I thought it would be funny to pick a more random word like "Surprise." Everyone seemed to want to stick with "Welcome." So predictable...sigh...
We're hoping to move into using recycled fabrics to make rugs..."upcycling!"
Here's Jackie working away at my place (wearing the beautiful sweater she made). She's a bit of a hooking prodigy, having sped past Shari and me. I'm still only on the "O" and Shari's on the "M."
In this photo, Jackie's rug looks a little frightening, like she's writing "OMEN" in blood.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Every now and then, I get really worked up.
Then, I take a deep breath.
I remember that fear makes us do silly things--at least, it makes me do silly things.
I take a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy (a homeopathic medicine for stress). Our whole family uses it when Kieran has a seizure. It works. I've even heard a rumour that Jennifer Aniston uses it--hey, we all copied her hairstyle back in 1994-ish...
When homeopathy doesn't work...
There's always wine.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
There's a story behind so many of these. Chantal gave me ExtraVeganZa--some of her dishes are in the photos because it's her friend's book. Klaudia gave me The Compassionate Cook, which contains my all-time favourite chilli recipe. Anyone who knows me has tried it. A Great Bowl of Soup was a birthday gift from Shari--I love the tomato-lentil soup. I found Cooking With the Dead in a used bookstore one summer when I was feeling particularly crunchy. Then, there's my Moosewood Cookbooks: samosas, butternut squash soup, zippy cheese sauce, Moosewood Brownies (oh...my old gluten guzzling days). The famous BUDDHA'S JEWELS can be found between these pages. That's another story.
Mike bought The Joy of Cooking when we first met because he wanted to cook for me.
I'm still waiting.