Tag Archives: awesome

In No Particular Order

I saw a crow eating a dead pigeon while I was walking through downtown this afternoon.

A man walking the other direction on the sidewalk, who saw the crow eating the pigeon at the same time as me, met my eyes and we both affected a wide-eyed horror face, and then we both looked at the tour bus that was stopped for the light, but none of the tourists looked out their windows to see the bird carnage.

I continued eating my most delicious falafel sandwich as though I was a crow and my delicious falafel was my pigeon.

When I got back to the office and told my co-worker, let’s call her Laughing Elder, about the birds, she told me about once seeing an eagle steal the food of a crane and the crane losing its mind with anger.

Last night I started reading “H is for Hawk” and it is exactly as good as all the reviews say it is.

Last night I also bought two Foo Fighters albums and finally indulged my love of All Things Rock and Grohl. Yes, I just said that. You are embarrassed for me. I hate puns. Unless I am making them.

I feel like I should be embarrassed for loving the Foo Fighters as much as I do. Yet, they write the songs that make me pound the table and bang my head while keening to the sound of perfect harmonies, so I guess I will not apologize. Also, Dave Grohl is an excellent writer and drummer, and shouty in all the right places.

That was the first song I heard this morning on my music player on the way to work and yes, I was a little overtired and happy that it’s Friday, but it was more than that. The song in my headphones at 7 am on 8th ave waiting for the bus made me darn near euphoric. I thought I might cry, vomit, become hysterical, and pass out on the sidewalk.

(It is possible I could use a good night’s sleep.)

Things have been at a low ebb for a few weeks; the evening sportsball activities are taking their toll and Eli in particular, being of a slightly dramatic persuasion, has a tendency to complain that he is tired, has only ever been tired, and will continue to be tired until his dying breath. Which will be tired.

Wednesdays are our busiest evenings; baseball starts at 5:45-6, then Arlo does soccer at 7 at a different park, and we don’t get home and into bed (the kids that is) until at least 8:30, sometimes closer to 9. Then up for Thursday at 6:30.

Wednesday I picked up the kids at daycare at 5, as usual.

Eli: Ohhhhh I am so tired.
Me: Gosh you do sound tired.
Eli: I think I should skip baseball practice.
Me: Oh yeah?
Eli: I’m too tired. I just..I just…
Me: We’ll see.

It should be noted that wednesdays are my busiest day at work. On Wednesdays roughly 80% of my day is on my feet, and 60% of my day is talking to clients, and the rest is either going to the bathroom or taking public transit, where I am also standing. Wait, no, I sit down in the bathroom. But stand on public transit. So I was tired too. I did not want to take him to baseball. I wanted to change into sweatpants and drink wine and drool myself to sleep.

Arlo: ..and I don’t have my shin pads.
Me: Hm?
Arlo: Remember I had to have my shin pads or I couldn’t go back to soccer? And I looked for them but I didn’t find them.
Me: Did you look *everywhere*?
Arlo: I think so.
Me: (suspects not)
Arlo: ..anyway I might find them. But if I don’t, we can go shopping.
Me: Pardon?
Arlo: For black pants and a white shirt.
Me: Pardon?
Arlo: Tomorrow is the May Day assembly at school. So we need black pants and a white shirt.
Me: Not for the assembly, surely. For the actual ceremony, next week…
Arlo: My teacher said for tomorrow.
Me: (plots teacher’s demise)
Arlo: So…we can go shopping if we don’t go to soccer.

Yes. Doesn’t that sound fun? Car, mall, kid, evening. No sweat pants. No wine. No drooling. I am DELIGHTED with this counter-proposal, and yet there is SOMETHING missing. What could it be. Could it be..that if I’m not GOING OUT I don’t want to GO OUT.

On we walked, Arlo bouncing along, Eli slouching.

At home, I made them grilled cheese sandwiches and thought about it. It wasn’t a baseball game, just a practice. Was it absolutely necessary that we go? Would it injure anyone’s character? I decided no and texted the team to let them know we wouldn’t be coming. I texted one of the parents from Arlo’s class and asked about the dress clothes for the Thursday assembly. She replied yes, and lol, and ha ha. I looked for Arlo’s shin pads and did not find them. I considered that he might have hidden them, but remembered that he loves soccer. Decided to cancel soccer too. Went to the mall and bought black jeans and a white collared polo shirt and was happy that we have two incomes right now so I could just go to H&M and buy the kid clothes and not worry about it.

Arlo has the right kind of body for H&M, spaghetti-like. The clothes fit him and we moved on quickly. I got to my sweatpants, my wine, and my drool. As Arlo himself is fond of remarking, it was not the end of the world.

Plus he is cute.



Eli got a cheese hat from his uncle who drives a truck and was in Wisconsin.


On and On, Around and Around

I almost wrote this blog post on my phone, using the free wi-fi available at the ball park, while Eli practiced baseball and Arlo practiced hockey with a tennis ball (ALL THE SPORTS AT ONCE PLEASE) but people talked to me so I listened to them and then it would have been awkward to pull out the phone again. Plus I have fat, fat thumbs that do not do well with today’s smart phones; my old phone had a little punchy-in keyboard and that was great but the touch screen, I am not used to it. It is not used to me. I watch teenagers text on public transit and their thumbs move like hummingbirds and their mistakes autocorrect — or don’t — and they don’t even stop to read over what they’re writing, they just hit send and apologize later.

On Saturday night SA and I went to see the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra perform Mozart’s Requiem and on our way home on the skytrain we met up with a few hundred people who had been to see Def Leppard. A lot of them were very young. A significant number were older than me. I know from my high school facebook friends that many people my age also attended the Def Leppard show. Armageddonit.

The Symphony was splendid. I sat listening, thinking of better words to use than awesome. Fantastic. A delight. An older woman sat next to me. She was there with friends, but they had seats together and she was visiting from out of town so she bought a ticket on her own. She was from Montreal and she had never seen the Requiem performed. At the end she stood and applauded and shouted Bravo! and then leaned down to ask me what I’d thought. Wonderful, I said. It was. A symphony is one of those things that you take for granted until you are staring at it, bathing in it, wondering how on earth anyone ever thought of Music Composition or Symphony Orchestras. Seriously. It could be so, so horrible, but it isn’t, it’s amazing.

Three days earlier I saw Neko Case perform at the Vogue theatre and she was sublime. Her voice is like warm honey. Sometimes it turns and there is a knife blade, but before you can really process that you heard a knife blade, she’s back to honey. She has magnificient, red hair and she wore tights with skeleton bones printed on them. If I could switch places with her, Freaky Friday style, I totally would.

*closes eyes* *opens eyes*

Nope, still me.

Yesterday it was ALL THE CELEBRATIONS for Eli’s birthday, which is today. Today he is seven. But yesterday he was six and 90/100ths and we had a birthday party at the movie theatre. Three friends fell ill over the weekend with a mysterious feverish virus, and in retrospect that’s probably a good thing because six boys in a movie theatre was enough and nine might have killed me. The party was not Pokemon themed, although I did put Pokemon cards in the loot bags; there is a store at a mall that sells ‘grab bags’ — 20 cards for two dollars, and one of them might be rare. Eli also received a lot of Pokemon cards as gifts, and the sharp intakes of breath around the table when he opened the blah blah blah blah something or other E.X FULL ART! was something to behold. How to shut up a room of 6-7 year olds: put a giant shiny card in front of them. Magic.

Eli also received some money as a gift and when asked what he would do with the money he replied, I will buy more Pokemon. When asked what he would do if everyone he knew stopped playing with Pokemon, he shrugged in his inimitable way, and replied, I will put them away and wait until they’re popular again.

Smart for seven. Maybe too smart. Age of reason: achieved.


“One nice picture. Come on.”


Thanks to Our Sponsors

This week has been brought to you by:

— Moisturizer. Because my cuticles and nails are incredibly dry and jagged and horrible.

— Halls cough drops, without which I would not have slept on Monday and Tuesday nights. Damned throat tickle. ALTHOUGH I could do without the inspiration printed on the cough drop wrappers, in English and French. ALLEZ Y yourself, cough drop.

— The drugs called “montelukast sodium” and “albuterol” which help Eli go from coughing all the time to not coughing all the time, instead of to bronchitis/pneumonia/whoknowswhat. I love these drugs.

— Zadie Smith’s book N-W.

— Outkast’s song “Hey Ya” which I remembered and listened to several times this week.

— Seriously, Zadie Smith forever. Interesting, to me, that I brought this book home from the library last year and stared blankly at it for three weeks and then returned it. As though one’s emotional life, if taxing, can sap the ability to understand and appreciate good literature. Here is a bit I read on the train this morning that made me memorize the page number so I could find it again later:

“Felix spotted a wayward shiver in her eyelid, a struggle between the pretence of lightness and the reality of weight. He knew all about that struggle.”

There are some books you read to escape into, and you barely read the words on the page, just skim for the gist, like shoving chips in your mouth so the salt will take hold of you faster. Books you read to pass the time. Books you read to lull you to sleep. There are some books you read because they are good for you, the kale of the book world, and when finished you say, well, that was HEARTY. And then there are books where the flavours meld perfectly with one another, where the nutritional value is balanced with the combination of sweet/salty/spicy in your mouth, where you slowly open them to read — carefully — each word because each word is worth it. This is one of those books.

— The prospect of the four day weekend (easters Friday and Monday the glorious, sleeping-in brackets to this normal weekend.)

— Various pale ales.

Onward, Easter-ocity!

To Do: Day Off Edition

1. Sleep in. If you’re me, sleep in two hours because you went to bed two hours later than usual, with a net gain of 0 hours. Still, it feels good to get up AFTER the sun for once. Not that the sun is out. It’s raining. Because SPRING!


If you’re the kids, claim all week that on the day off you will sleep in. Then get up 20 minutes later than usual. Technically, yes, sleeping in. Practically speaking, no.

2. Have a leisurely breakfast eaten in courses: the yogurt course. The hashbrown course. The strawberry smoothie course. The cereal course. The other yogurt course. Actually that’s just Arlo, whose body might possibly be planning to grow a foot in the next two weeks.

3. Take a long shower with no rushing.

4. Wear a comfortable bra. No pinchy or binding bras on a day off.

5. Consider wearing tights all day but decide on weekend jeans. Because it’s the weekend! At work we wear jeans on our non-client-related days but the jeans still need to be, you know, nice-ish jeans. Not faded, comfortable jeans. Those are weekend jeans now.

6. Pin back the sides of my lengthening hair and end up with bangs? Apparently?


7. Take two hours to leave the house because I keep getting distracted by the Internet, which doesn’t exist at work and which I’m too tired to catch up on after work. Looking at the Internet is like watching TV after being without one for twenty years. *Stare*. There is so much internet.

8. Go out for a brief errand and buy the on-sale chips. I have lots of chips but these are the best and they’re on sale. Feel very laying-in-stock-like-an-adult about this.


9. Treat the children to lunch at a fast food restaurant and watch cricket on the television while they consume, respectively, a Shamrock Shake, and a Cadbury’s Easter Creme Egg McFlurry (BARF).

10. Listen to the sound of cars swooshing over rain-soaked streets. Putter. Colour. Do laundry.

11. Listen to Arlo and his friend, who have not played together in a coon’s age, work together on a Perler Bead design for a solid hour, while they discuss life, the universe, basketball, life’s ambitions, their favourite pop songs, what it was like in Waikiki (where the friend went for some of Spring Break), and other issues relevant to the 8-9 year old set. Delight in their sedate, cooperative friendship.

12. Hear Uptown Funk on the radio three times. Do not mind one bit.

13. Have no plan for dinner and have lots of time to ponder and get creative with what I’ve got around the house.

14. Have some gin.

15. Enjoy that I am having gin instead of smelling the wet feet and jackets of strangers on public transit. Pine fresh gin, it’s what’s for .. nearly-dinner.


16. Wish the Internet a Happy Friday.


Every night, a take-home-reading book comes home from school with Eli. He is meant to read aloud to us, in the grand tradition of grade one classes everywhere, possibly? Arlo’s class did it too (although we had to log the books, which I did not enjoy as a concept because paperwork).

Arlo didn’t like reading aloud to us; he muttered and read really fast. It’s a good thing we knew he could read because it certainly was not proven in his grade one year. Eli can also read, and while he *claims* he doesn’t like reading to us, he actually does; after protesting, he is an expressive reader who sometimes uses funny voices and accents. This evening he sang a page of the book to me and then asked if I liked his opera.

Anyway, the books are not that great. They’ve progressed since Dick and Jane but not much. The series we see a lot is about a magic key and a bunch of multicultural British children who have adventures. Now and again there is a mystery or a one-off story about a kid named Pippa who wants a blue balloon but her father only has green balloons.

But tonight’s book was called SKUNKS. It was full of (semi-) interesting facts about skunks; they are black and white, they have three warning stages before they spray you, they are immune to bee stings and often attack bee hives for the honey. Seriously, I learned a great deal. But the best part was the page entitled Skunk Dancing. READ ON AND ENJOY:


Now, do you think that’s true? I know there are a couple nature-knowledgable people who read here from time to time. I have no reason to doubt the take-home-reading-book-about-skunks but I also enjoy imagining the person who wrote the book throwing in a page of total bullshit just because it was his last day on the job, or he wanted to delight a bored family somewhere. Either way. Skunk dancing, you guys.

OK. Duck dancing. Good enough.

The Amazing Flying Train

We don’t call our Rapid Transit System the “subway” or the “tube” or the “metro”. It is mostly above ground and so, we call it the SKYTRAIN.

The first few weeks I commuted to work were a blur of exhaustion and relief. This workplace is the psychological opposite of my previous workplace and almost every day I still thank my lucky stars for that. It helped my adjustment that the weather was good for those first weeks. It dark at first, and then sunny and bright. I would stand by the window of the train and watch as we flew from New Westminster through Burnaby through Vancouver to downtown. In twenty-five minutes we fly in our big steel bird over kilometres of car-clogged streets.

The traffic on various bridges, the ladybug cars with sparkling headlights, the mountains in the distance with old neighbourhoods in the foreground, the patios and streets we flew over, the sunrises starting pink and getting pinker. It was like taking a magic carpet to work.

There was a morning, a Friday, when the worm turned. I left the house a bit later thinking I’d have a more relaxing morning and was punished with the most godawfully terrible ride to work. I spent my ride smushed against the doors by offensively oblivious people, forced to think about what my nose was inhaling, what heinous bacteria were at that moment colonizing my sinuses. Since that day my commute has lost some of its gleam; maybe because I am more awake, or it’s just no longer new. I more often find myself weary and impatient with the people who don’t clear the aisles, who insist on taking up more than their share of space, who clog the doors, who block my view.

Sometimes, like on my way home today, I feel like a cow in a trailer being towed behind a pickup truck from one corral to the next. I have to remind myself to peek around the corners of the people that surround me so I can catch a glimpse of the outside world through the window. I think, “Sky train. Train in the sky. Sky train. Higher than any cow has ever been.” It springboards a bit of wonder back into my day.

August: Better than A Stuffed Banana

In August, we went to Kelowna for a few days. It was pretty fun; we swam in both pools at the motel and in the lake, we ate junk food and stayed up too late (MAINLY THE CHILDREN DID THIS), and we visited a kangaroo farm.

Yes, there is a kangaroo farm half an hour north of Kelowna. It is called Kangaroo Creek Farm and it is exactly as billed. Maybe a little less crazy than the website implies. A habitat for kangaroos and capybara and goats and some exotic birds. And emu. And ostriches.

This is a capybara, basically a giant guinea pig.

This is a capybara, basically a giant guinea pig.

Kangaroos are weird, it bears mentioning. They look like the progeny of a normal-animal orgy. Part rabbit, part deer, part giant squirrel, part fuzzy wuzzy fuzz bucket.

I liked this one, though.

I liked this one.

Anyway at the farm you can feed them and pet them and hold baby ones. Admission is by donation. Wear sensible shoes; the trail and path from the upper parking area to the farm is quite steep.

Arlo feeds a kangaroo

Arlo feeds a kangaroo

After we returned from Kelowna we made our annual trip to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). Like so many things-with-children, the PNE-with-children gets better every year. This year, Arlo used the heck out of his ride pass and Eli went on a legitimate number of rides as well. We ate some food and no one got sick.

Oh hello I am on a carousel.

Oh hello I am on a carousel.

Then came time for the midway game.

I have a conflicted relationship with the midway games. You pay $5 for a chance to win something that costs $0.50 at the dollar store. Like a tiny stuffed banana. Or a tiny stuffed smiley face. Or one of those confounded parachuting dudes whose strings always get tangled immediately.

As a counter-point, the kids always love the crappy little stuffed whatevers that they win on the midway game; they even love them for months and years afterwards, treasuring them and calling them “the stuffed banana I won on that game at the PNE, wow, I love this toy!” but it is a struggle every year for me to shell out the money for them to basically throw in the garbage.

Yes, you’re right, I could not do it, but once you’ve paid X to get in and XX on food and XXX for the rides what’s another five bucks. I didn’t say it made sense. I said I was CONFLICTED.

This year, Arlo was riding the Wave Swinger and climbing the climbing wall while Eli and I strolled the midway looking for a game he wanted to play. He stopped and stared at various games while the yelling people yelled at us to TRY IT all the KIDS GET A PRIZE come on I ONLY NEED ONE MORE PLAYER GIVE IT A TRY. He ignored them all. I tried to as well. We went and fetched Arlo because Eli didn’t want to play a game until Arlo was going to play a game.

They both stopped at the “get a ring on a bottle, any bottle, one ring on any bottle wins YOUR CHOICE” booth. This booth had only gigantic stuffed prizes. Obviously this booth did not award anyone any prizes, ever, because you could have TWELVE rings to toss for only $2; an entire bucket of rings for $5. The kids said, “WOW that is a great deal. We want to play this one.”

I was, of course, torn because a) hey that gets my money spent quickly and then we can go home but b) they are going to lose and not even get a consolation stuffed banana because this game is winner-takes-all not loser-gets-something-anyway. Because we are super parents, we decided to let consequences rule the day and spent the $5 on a bucket of rings.

Toss, bounce, toss, bounce, toss. The rings were made of rubber and the bottles were made of rubber repellent. Toss, bounce, toss, bounce, toss, bounce.

Then: toss. No bounce! Ring stayed on the bottle neck. Eli tossed a ring right onto the bottle and it stayed there. Six year old ringed the bottle.

The booth workers had no idea what to do. They had to dig around to find the scissors to cut down the prize.

“I want that bear,” Eli said, pointing above our heads at a giant, fluorescent green stuffed bear. “Do you want to look around at the other choices?” Saint Aardvark asked. Eli did. He came back to the bear.


The bear — later named Fluffy — that we* then had to carry around the PNE for another half hour while Arlo rode more rides to assuage his disappointment at not being the one who ringed the bottle. The bear that we then had to haul up the hill to my parents’ house where we always park our car when we go to the PNE. The bear that barely fit in the trunk of our Honda Civic.

*actually Saint Aardvark carried it, mostly. It sat so peacefully on his shoulders, its head resting on his head. See:


Great conversation starter, a giant green bear. The world is divided into two types of people: the ones who congratulate you on your giant green bear and the ones who scoff because they assume you spent your life savings winning the giant green bear (those people are also jealous and often in their early 20s). Just an observation.

Arlo's turn to carry the bear.

Arlo’s turn to carry the bear.

But the six year old won the bear all by himself. Seriously. We spent five bucks, just like we always do.

August ended and September hasn’t really started yet, in my heart, because there is still no school in BC. Our teachers are still striking and our government is still waiting for them to give up. Every day is still sunny, but the days are noticeably shorter and darker around the edges. We are holding, waiting, no longer on vacation, but nowhere near a new routine.

Sometimes on my way up or downstairs I pass the kids’ room, where Fluffy waits patiently for the children to retire for the evening, and wonder why the room seems to be filled with alien-green light. A pause and a smile and I remember it’s the light of his fur: a reminder of the glowing last days of August.

I Get Knocked Down. But I Get Up Again.

This is my last week of work. Because I work part time, these are my last three days of work. Today is done, and now there will be two more.

This morning I was not especially excited to go to work. I mean, even less than usual. You see, last week it was very slow in the office. There was barely enough work for one person and guess what, there were two of us.

Maybe it makes sense they lay me off, I thought for several long, dreary hours last week. The only thing worse than having too much to do and not enough skills/confidence/time to do it is having nothing to do and an airless tomb of an office enclosing you with a silent, cranky co-worker at your back, while you try to look busy for SEVEN HOURS.

It tested me for two days last week and I was not looking forward to three more days of photocopying random pieces of paper in order to look like I had a task to complete.

But it was a nice morning; overcast and not too hot. I made good time to work. I had to stab at the radio a lot to find songs I didn’t hate, but that’s how it goes with the radio sometimes. Just as I pulled into the right lane that turns into a left turn that turns into the parking lot that is where I go to work, Tubthumping by Chumbawamba came on the radio.

Tubthumping is not a favourite song of mine. It was annoying, back in the day, and time has added a sheer gloss of nostalgia but under that sheer gloss is still some dry, cracked lips. If you follow. However, I was making a right then a left then a left so I couldn’t stab at the radio and all you can do if you can’t stab at the radio is sing along.

Right? Right.


(yeah you remember Tubthumping. And if not, it goes like that for about five more minutes)

It was an apt song to hear on the third to last day of work at a job where I was knocked down every single day and came back every single time. Like the MARY ELLEN CARTER. (“She went down last October in a pouring, driving rain”) Like one of those inflatable clowns. Like a dog that just fucking loves you even though you’re allergic. Like a child who doesn’t care that you’re angry. Like someone determined.

I have made it to the end of this story and I am so proud of myself.

I got out of my car with a smile on, and saw my boss/manager person, having a smoke outside the office. She was very glad to see me. It turns out my co-worker has been off all week with a family emergency and there was a two-day backlog of work that ONLY I could shuffle around until it more resembled an hour-long backlog of work.

So, not only was it my third to last day, ever, but I got to work alone, without the bad juju. I had lots to keep me busy so I wasn’t watching the clock tick all day. I get to leave a smiling impression of goodness and dedication. And any mistakes I make in the next three days? I will NEVER HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT. At 4:30 pm on Friday I will vanish into a vacuum of my own making and someday I will tell you all about it over a beer. A lager-drink, perhaps. Or a whisky-drink. Or a vodka-drink.*

*bad Chumbawamba joke. As if there is any other kind.

On Staying in Your Lane

I have a car commute to work and back; about 25 minutes to get there and 35 minutes to get back in the afternoon, give or take fifteen minutes of local hijinkery on the home side. Like all semi-regular commuters, I know the ins and outs; when to get in the left lane to avoid having to merge at the last minute, when to get into the right to avoid those pesky left-hand-turners who hold up traffic. (Is there anything better than knowing a route so well you can navigate it like you’re playing a video game, shaving two whole minutes off your travel time? THERE IS SOMETIMES NOTHING BETTER THAN THIS.)

I go against rush hour traffic, which, next to the benefits and pay, is the best thing about my job. It puts a solid check in the PLUS column when you are always seeing people lined up, not moving, going the other way, and you’re doing 100 km in a 60 zone*. It’s a pathetic sort of winning, but it’s winning.

*It totally does not need to be a 60 zone.

Last Friday I was driving along, in the left lane because it was left-lane-time, a number of cars around me. Suddenly, a Jetta in the right lane went sweeervvve into my lane, in front of me. Not just a “whoops forgot to signal” move but a “I don’t even see other drivers because I am THE BEST!” move. I nearly hit it. I made a face at that Jetta and said,”You are VERY LUCKY I did not hit you.” I scolded it with my face.

At the next light, the guy driving the Jetta looked in his sideview mirror at me. He was kind of smirking or maybe smiling in an apologetic way. Hard to tell. I decided I would not give him the pleasure of my anger.

So, instead of following too close, glaring at him, and wishing him ill, I gave him lots of space and smiled.

I’ve been practising doing this, smiling at people when I want to kill them.

And not the sharky, I-will-eat-you smile, either. A real smile.

It works. Or, it worked in this situation. Maybe because it was Friday and I am very relaxed about work now that I don’t have to care any more, or because the sun was out and my parents had the kids so I didn’t have to worry. Maybe it worked because I was in a good space, or maybe it worked because I gave myself the space and then put myself in it, refusing to get into that guy’s space and be manipulated by his bad behaviour.

I stayed in my own lane.

Eventually he was gone, and I went back to my sweating and singing along to the radio.

This may seem obvious to some of you, but it is a reminder — much needed, repeatedly — that not everyone thinks the way I do, that I can only control my own reactions and behaviour, that I am only responsible for getting me from point a) to point b), and that I can do that by staying. in. my. mother.effing.lane.

Don’t swerve around and get up in peoples’ grills. Don’t shake your fist at them at the stoplight. Don’t waste time wondering why they are doing that cockamamie thing, because it’s none of your business. It works for the road, the Internet, conversations with strangers and acquaintances. It works for swimming laps! Stay in your lane.

Next to “I may not be a great CMA* but I’m a kickass human being,” “Stay in your lane” may be the best simple motto I’ve come up with in 2014.

Months to go yet, though. Months to go.

*that’s my job title


Here, in my lane, I am sticking to my fifteen minutes a day, which I’d been doing after dinner anyway so the kids being all up in my face, all over this place all day doesn’t change my schedule any. I would like to add a bit more time during the day and it seems likely that we will implement Summer Quiet Time (no stickers. Just do it.) in the afternoons. The children can and will read quietly and independently and I think fifteen minutes is not too much to ask.

Those of you who requested stickers, your stickers are in the mail.


A note on Summer Writing Club: if you are joining and you want stickers, email me torturedpotato@gmail.com (or dm on twitter @torturedpotato) your address and I will send you incentivizing stickers IN THE MAIL to put on your calendar for every week you complete.

Also, my 15 minutes a day will not necessarily be here on the blog, I just seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment. I COMMIT TO NOTHING I REMEMBER LAST YEAR.


This afternoon I once again took the kids across the street to the middle school to practise their scooter skills. Yesterday I was looking after an additional child so I felt like I should pay attention, but today it was just my two. I brought my notebook because watching children scooter is only interesting the first four times. Yay you popped a wheelie, yay you squatted down real low and scraped your toes on the cement, yay kids yay.

After I’d written roughly one paragraph in my notebook, I noticed the scooter noise had stopped and I had their full attention. (It’s good to know this is a way to get the full attention of children.)

“What are you writing?” Eli said. “I know, a story,” he added, “but what’s it about?”

He does this a lot, answers his own questions in a rush to have the right answer.


“Actually,” I said, “it’s not a story. It’s just some thoughts about strawberries.”

“What about them?”

“About how they smell so much like strawberries,” I said. “And how I wonder if there are people who don’t know what real, fresh strawberries in season smell like, if they only know about the artificial strawberry smell, like, um,…”

“..Strawberry Shortcake dolls…” Arlo suggested.

I make them sniff my Strawberry Shortcake doll every time it turns up in the toybox at my parents’ house, and each time, I marvel this has smelled vaguely like strawberry scent for THIRTY YEARS you guys.


“…or erasers?” Arlo said.


“Yes. Maybe there are older people who only know what real strawberries smell like, because Strawberry Shortcake dolls aren’t something they’ve ever seen. And maybe there are lots of younger people who compare the smell of real strawberries to strawberry candy and to them, the strawberries smell wrong.”

“I like candy,” Eli said. “Can you read me some of your writing?”

“No,” I said. “It’s not really ready to read out loud. It’s kind of like a journal.”

“OK,” he said, then, “hey watch this,” and scootered away.