Sunday, January 31, 2010


There are a lot of people in my thoughts and prayers lately. It seems that every time I answer the phone, a friend or relative is struggling. Health issues and all the things that come along with illness dominate.

After learning that an old friend is quite sick, I just spent some time flipping through photo albums. There are pictures of prom, of camping trips, of funny moments. I look back at those photos, at my friends, and we all seemed so carefree. I don't think we actually were carefree, but I know we were happy. Can we really compare the tragedies of our teens and twenties (getting dumped, failing a course, fighting with parents) to the concerns of our thirties (sick parents, sick children, loss of employment)? I guess suffering is relative. So is joy.

And it's strange because even when I look back at photos of myself when Kieran was so seriously sick, there are photos where I'm smiling, laughing even. All I remember from those days is grief and fear but something made me laugh. I know it wasn't just a pose for the camera. I see genuine happiness on my face.

It says something about the human spirit. That in the face of fear, injustice, and suffering, joy can still bubble to the surface.

Remembering. Praying. Hoping.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Knit On...

Has it been a week since my last posting? Didn't I just post yesterday? Wow! What a busy seven days. It must be the end of the semester. Well, things should slow down. After all, it is exam time now...and I am a drama teacher. How nice not to have a stack of English exams and culminating tasks to mark. Shhhhh...

Don't worry, though. I'm still as busy as the rest of the world. I've been writing plays, rehearsing plays, marking plays, and begin auditioning for plays tomorrow. My life is about plays.
And about banana-mashing.
And about finally finishing my crooked rug-hooking project (almost)...
And about making blueberry-applesauce...
And about knitting...

Shari and I had an official knitting lesson from Jackie last week. I opted for a project that doesn't require a pair. That way, once I finish making my hat, it's finished. I don't have to start all over and that simply increases the chances that I'll complete it.

There's something to this knitting thing. I know why Jackie "gets her knit on" during times of stress and why Ruthie has been encouraging me for years. One can chat while knitting (unlike the anti-social hobby of writing or reading) and at the same time, produce a home-made item that's good for the soul. So, rather than sit around with friends and talk about our worries/fears/problems, we kind of work them away. We might talk about the dark side but our hands are busy so somehow it's cleansing. I find that, at the end of the day during this long and emotional week, knitting gives me solace.

Writing gives me escape.

Knitting grounds me.

But I never expected my little knitting project to be so coveted. That's why the photo above shows my knitting laying on the floor. It's not because I'm a slob who just tosses things onto the floor--don't worry, mom. It's because my cat finds it no matter where I put it. It's because my three year old likes to "twirl it so fast." I have to hide my knitting and I can't knit in front of child or feline. Strange. I always pictured myself by the fire knitting while my cat slept beside me and my child read on the floor. Instead, it's like I'm defending the Holy Grail from falling into the wrong hands.

I think Mike is after my knitting as we speak. What diabolical dead is he planning?

Better go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Read to Every Kid, Every Day

The Brockville Library is running a program called Read to Every Kid, Every Day. There is a selection of books available at the library. Simply sign out some of the books, read them with your child, and then vote on-line.

The link can be found through the Brockville Library site:

Kieran and I especially enjoyed The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist (published by the Scholastic Imprint, Cartwheel Books). We also got a laugh from Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rothman (published by Penguin Puffin). I'm biased towards I Went Walking by Sue Williams (published by Voyager Books) because it's illustrated by Julie Vivas, who is magical.

The book selection is fun. Most of the books are humourous and many have rhyming. There is a nice balance between books that will appeal to both boys and girls.

Get reading...

Get voting...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Art for Art's Sake

All children are artists.

The problem is

how to remain an artist

once he grows up. ~Pablo Picasso

I think spending time with children...

makes adults into artists.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

When Fiction Assaults Reality

The newest hit in our house is Winnie-the-Pooh. For Christmas, we gave Kieran a treasury of the original Pooh stories and he loves them, especially the one where Eeyore loses his tail. He even came charging out of the bathroom the other day, brandishing the toilet brush, asking me if it was Eeyore's tail--eeeww! Now the characters make frequent assaults on our daily life.

Mother: Eat your lunch.

Son: I can't.
Mother: Why?

Son: Because you need to be Eeyore. You need to talk gloomy.

Mother: Okay...(in that gloomy sad donkey-who-lost-his-tail way)

Son: I like this soup.

Mother: Must be nice to like something. Donkeys don't like much of anything.

Son: I can't eat again.

Mother: Why?

Son: Eeyore needs to sing.

Mother: Okay...what song?

Son: Defying Gravity.

I know you're thinking I'm indulgent and a little crazy. I don't blame you. I did it. I sang with first few lines of Defying Gravity like a depressed donkey. That's how badly I wanted my son to eat his lunch. There's no dignity in this motherhood gig. But he did eat his lunch. And after the first few lines of the song, he averted his eyes, and told me that he'd heard enough of Eeyore's singing, that I could sing like mommy again. Phew.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Green Cleaning

I mentioned my switch to natural cleaning products in my last column. Here are some of the recipes I use at home. I'll keep adding to the list as I think of things. Sometimes, I do need to pull out the "big guns" but it's better to use those things rarely. We certainly don't need them every week.

Cleaning Floors:

-add 1/4 cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water and wash with a mop or cloth
-You may need to rinse with fresh water
-vinegar is a natural disinfectant
-it removes dirt well and leaves things shiny
-don't leave large pools to dry


-2 teaspoons white vinegar with a quart of water in a spray bottle
-spray on and wipe clean with a cloth

Scouring Powder for Sinks and Tubs:

-cover surface with baking soda
-scrub with a plastic scouring pad
-rinse well
-if you want to let the surface "soak" mix a little dish soap or castile soap with the baking soda to make a paste

Quick wash for countertops, tubs, and sinks

I love castile soap. It's vegetable based, removes soap scum well, smells good, and rinses away easily. I use Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (love the Hemp Pure-Castile Lavender). In Brockville, you can get it at New Horizons but I've seen it at many health food stores. A 16 oz bottle is about $11 and lasts for months. The bottle is very strange but the contents work great. To clean the tub and shower surround, I squirt a little on one of those shower "poofs" that we all have lying around (mine's actually attached to a broom stick), scrub, and rinse. So quick. Nothing toxic.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Natural Family Column

I posted a while ago that I'd have a regular column appearing in Natural Life Magazine. My first column, under the title The Natural Family, appears in the January/February issue. On newstands now...

It's a reprint of the "Girls Check Your Girls" column that appeared in The Brockville Voice.

How exciting to see my writing in a publication I've so enjoyed over the years.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Body Slam Yoga

Yoga hurts. It shouldn't. But it does. I'm trying to do twenty minutes of yoga in the mornings but I feel more like an action hero than a yogi. As I placidly sat in a seated twist--enjoying the awakening of my long-neglected spine--I got body-slammed by a tornado of three-year-old exuberance.

"You hurt me."

"Oh...but you're a puppy."

"Right then."

Then, in sphinx, a small child stood on my back. I don't know if my body's ever going to be the same. Why didn't I practice when he was small and immobile?

In cobbler pose, I was struck in the eye with my wool yoga strap.

"Okay, that's enough. That really hurt mommy."

"Oh...sorry Don Diego."

Why don't you have him do yoga with you? you might ask. He does a few poses and this is lovely. However, a preschooler attention span, or at least my preschooler's attention span, is a little short these days.

Maybe, I should do my twenty minutes at night. But-oh-so-tired.

Love, love, love my child. But...lamenting my hour-long yoga sessions.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Making the Most of Winter

Well, it hasn't been the best Christmas holiday. Kieran's nerves seemed a little raw and then he had a seizure on New Year's Eve. We were quite on edge for the entire two weeks because we knew something was brewing. However, we managed to have a good time in between sessions of extreme worry. The thing we found helped us all the most was being outside. Over the past two days, Kieran's been tired and clumsy, but still cheerful. A snowsuit with lots of padding and piles of fresh snow provided the perfect recipe for a boy who's had a rough go.

We went sledding several times, played in the yard, and today, took our boy skating for the first time. It was short-lived because it was so chilly but we all enjoyed it.

When we got home, Mike lit a fire in the backyard. There's something soothing about sitting around a fire having hot drinks even when it's fifteen below. After all we've been through, I'm glad we can still find joy in our daily lives.

Thanks to our dear friends who keep getting us out of the house!

Life goes on...

How do these things work?

Continuing to make the chiropractors rich...

Dads and their boys

Man make fire.