Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear Martha,

Still standing? Hope not, you should be having a nap right now. It's December 30th and with god as my witness I mean to end this year as I mean to go on in 2011, with perceived control.

Thanks for the dreamy scarf this year, right up my alley, you are a genius. Also, the fact we got to visit at Sally's was a great bonus, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this, the pleasure was tripled by the fact we didn't need to discuss/adjust the plan 4 times to make it happen. Go Team!

It seems so long ago now that visit. We've gone sledding, had no less than 3 holiday meals and traveled upwards of 2000 km since December 18th. No wonder I'm feeling a bit...taut.
I had a dream on the 23rd that was the perfect analogy for how I felt on Christmas Eve when Fenner was still throwing up at 6:00 pm.

In my dream, it's December 23rd. Jason and I had just finished wrapping the last of the gifts and were finalizing our list of what needs to get packed in the car on Christmas Eve before we drive to see our families.

Fenner and I were settling down to read a bed time story and there is a knock at the door. Lo and behold it's old St. Nick himself! Fenner squeals with joy, he has 1 cookie sheet and 1 gingerbread man cookie cutter in his hand and offers them to me with a pleading look in his eye and says, "Help me! Mrs. Claus has fallen sick and there is no one to bake Christmas Gingerbread Men for all the good little girls and boys of the world!"

At which point, I say, "Seriously? Is that a magic cookie pan because from what I can tell I can't make more than 6 men at a time on that?" Fenner gasps and looks at me accusingly. How dare I say no to SANTA MOTHERFUCKING CLAUS!

These cookies...they are the source of Christmas spirit! (Internal Commentary: If so important why not started earlier? Are you sure Mrs Claus is ill and not gone?)

The dream ended with me, as the enemy of all things Christmas, waking up in a cold sweat on December 27th after as perfect a Christmas as we could have hoped for but I thought it really was a spectacular manifestation of my feelings from Dec. 1-26th.

Clearly, feeling a little raw this year. What with the influenza, travel and now a cold, I actually believe that the Christmas Spirit was trying to kill us this year. Perhaps I really am Jewish and this is the way Christianity is trying not so subtly to give me the boot.


Next year, though, is going to be amazing! I've already started planning the stockings and possible cookbooks to research. I feel that if we used another type of bird altogether Christmas perfection could be achieved, perhaps a Goose instead of a Turkey is the key.

Thoughts?

Your loving niece,

Jen

Friday, December 17, 2010

The journey of Christmas

This time of year really brings home the emotional double smoked, organic bacon from start to finish. We were lucky enough to start the season with our urban family party. It involves songs, stories, 'what's new letters and a committed start to the gorging season.

Like all families, our urban family is scattering to different cities and to the open seas so getting everyone together leads to photographic moments that have defined long term relationships for many many years.

We sang long, passionately and with gusto!
All of us together, with our children, new jobs and new loves. It was the perfect kick off.
It was followed by a smaller tree dressing party. We have a large collection of ornaments made by my family through the generations. Exhibit A would be my Poppa's Festive Manta Ray. Exhibit B, our niece's first Christmas lightbulb reindeer, she was 5 when she made it and I love it.

My wonderful Aunt Sally makes us or gives us very special ornaments every year. If you look closely you'll see this year's flower nests.
After that tree was up, Christmas began in earnest. My bio-family is also spreading out and growing and being together on Christmas day is increasingly impossible so we get together a week early for a sleigh ride in Barrie.

You can see almost everyone here but mostly, notice the snow. It was fantastic. I miss snow.
This year we almost got everyone, my sister Charlotte worked nights over the entire holiday period so was unable to attend. We have big plans for 100% attendance next year. I like these people a lot.
The sleigh ride is the brainchild of this lovely sibling. Liz is one smart cookie who knows that if we don't keep busy, trouble arises in the form of too much liquid Christmas spirit. Also, it's hard not to be in the festive spirit singing carols that one's 10 year old niece has organized!
We were so lucky that Liz and Pat got to spend so much time with us in Toronto, Barrie and Brockville. Fenner is in deep love with both of them and the seemingly limitless amount of energy they have for snow play.
We had Christmas dinner with both of our families at one table. They love each other. The table was in Charlotte's old home where she has been renovating since FEBRUARY. It was warm, welcoming and filled with laughter. Everything Christmas dinner should be and more.

Jason has perfected multiple cheesecake recipes and thus inspiring another 3 of my 50 New Year's resolutions. If my father had any questions about his son in law, the cheesecake has turned him into a committed somewhat worrisome fan.

I had no idea cheesecake was the way to the patriarch's heart.
It would be easy to say that Christmas was the smooth and seamless event that I remember of my youth but I would be leaving out fantastic stories of influenza, patient zero and whole family trees being felled by the bug brought by little Patient Zero.
It really speaks to the commitment of our entire family that I think every single Auntie, Grandpa and Grandma was willing to sit and read and snuggle with Typhoid Mary every chance they could.

After the dust of life settles, isn't that all we can hope for. Family to help us recover from what ails us and celebrate, standing together at the end of the day
My sister walking through the woods with Fenner exploring forts and finding bunnies. Thanks Charlotte for hosting one of the best Christmases ever.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Joy in the seemly mundane.

I have friend that has stuck by me through many years, personal mishaps, temper tantrums and terrible relationships. This friend is obviously the keeper of my daughter's heart and Godmother.

Weeks and weeks ago, she asked me if she could give Fenner an advent calendar because it's a great tradition. Jason and I are floundering a little on the nuclear family traditions so I gratefully accepted.

Flash forward to Nov 28th when she presents Fenner's calendar. 23 gifts beautifully labeled and pinned with felt stars and numbers to strings. It was Christmas magic. The gifts are thoughtful and beautiful. We are all in swoony love with this.

Here's Fenner wearing yesterday's gift, from waking up to bedtime, with some pauses to share the crown with her friend Ella.
The day to day grind of getting into the swing of a new office has felt less and less grindy. Thank god because I was beginning to think I would have to invest in some medication to facilitate adaptation for all eternity.

I think I finally felt that level of comfort when a coworker asked me if I might be able to darn some mittens that his Gran made him. He then whips these beauties out.

I can't lie. My heart skipped a beat. Newfoundland Trigger Mitts
He has had these mittens long enough to wear them thin on the thumb and index finger. I told him that he is the dream profile for mitten knitters everywhere.
I loved mending them. As I said to Bob, I think his Gran would have slapped me because darning isn't so much my strength but he'll get another couple seasons out of them.

My own knitting is progressing. I am heading it into the final third of my shawl and have knit a couple of Le Slouches to get my fix of finished objects. Satisfyingly easy. The more simple I make the joys I get from home the easier it is to reach a little further everywhere else.

Running, knitting, spinning, working, visiting, parenting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tick Tock

I am sitting here waiting for my iPhone to finish uploading new software. It's run night and I use two apps to get excited about running. Try not to judge too harshly that I am this reliant on technology to get off of my ass.

Couch to 5K to help me get up to 5 km without hurting myself or getting discouraged. Runkeeper to see how fast and to map where I run using GPS. Podcasts to keep me distracted from how annoyed I get when I'm tired. So far I find music messes with my breathing although on Sunday I listened to the CBC Radio 3 Podcast and added .5 km to my distance!

It is Week 6 of running with only two weeks that I slacked off, one in October and one recently in November. I am nominally proud of starting this habit but I am super proud that I got back on it after slacking off - that used to be my cue to bail on anything.

Evolution indeed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Make the time.

This post is brought to you by my sister Liz who recently sent me an article about how if you achieve life balance then you're probably doing life missionary style (my words not hers). That is to say balance is boring. Balance means that I'm probably aren't challenged on some level or another. To continue the analogy...I'm not grabbing the bull by the moustache...I mean horns

This is why it's so hard to achieve. Every time I do I throw another log on the fire!

My inner dialogue goes something like this when I achieve anything resembling balance, "What's that? Juggling an amazing family, new job, cooking, running, knitting lace, reading, volunteering and seeing some friends some of the time?

WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN WRITING THEN?!!!"

Quite frankly, that inner voice is a bit of a bitch so I generally take her insanity with a grain of salt but she does have a point. I am going to see if I can take writing as the priority that playing, running and working is. Like language, writing needs to be practiced or the ability to do it will be lost.

Work is getting better and better. I have been focused on improving my business writing which has been more fun that I thought it could have been 6 months ago. It freaks me out thinking that my personal writing is at an all time low. My rented brain isn't coming back to me in the same condition as I rented it out....

Making time to make food has become culturally entrenched in our family - baking on the weekends and cooking on weeknights. Before you get all high and mighty on me about meeting basic expectations. Cooking from scratch takes at least a third of our time at home. I do not exaggerate when I say we arrive home between 5:30 and 6:00 and spend the next hour to hour and a half cooking dinner.

We have less practical fun with it on the weekends!
Making time to go running has become a matter of mental health - both for J and for me. The energy I get from a run gives me another 3 hours at the end of a day. It also chills me out so that Jason feels no need to call Therapy-911.

Making time to make art. Just happens. I'm still not sure how but at the end of the day - it takes a lot longer to get to one but finished objects find their way of the needles. Clearly, my blanket stitch could use a bit of practice...goals are good!
I have no idea how everyone does this. I feel like I am the only one who at the end of the week feels like the motherfucking King of the Castle - I only have one kid!!! How the hell do/did my Aunt, Mother, Sister-in-Law and neighbors do it?!

She's not even in extracurriculars yet! What was I thinking....tune in next time for something a little less self involved...or maybe more.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hard to pick just one moment

Three years ago today I became a mother.
Our family is more than the walls that we live in because of that day 3 years ago.
Our family has been increased by the love of a community who has become our family.
We have been tied and anchored to the roots of our family tree by this little sapling.
The magic in the world around us has become unavoidable.
All of the magic.
Cold snowy days and gloomy rainy afternoons give us the time to chill out and get silly at home.
You have always wanted to step just a little further away from where you are.
When you were just 3 days old I didn't think I could ever put you down.
It is still shocking to me that I haven't eaten you up, I love you so.

I suppose there is still time. Don't get too comfortable my Heart.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Benign Neglect

Benign neglect is a parenting philosophy that I strongly endorse, however it is a TERRIBLE way to engage people in your life through a blog. Maybe I'll try and get a bit more literate in the next few weeks.


Jeez eh? What the hell have I been doing for a month? Let these pictures demonstrate the active life of a Gemini lo' these many weeks:


Perfect Sunday mornings. Work conference in DC:

Running at Keuka Lake, NY:
Not running in Keuka Lake, NY:

Also, a little Thanksgiving to round out the great life. I've been knitting but have been really focussing on our home and family right now - hopefully more on that this week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To help her bring a basket of "sleep through the night" to Granny.

I recently finished Fenner's fall sweater. Well, I'm hoping it's one of two sweaters. This was sort of a fantasy project - I had an image in my mind of Fenner wearing a beautiful fall cape with fantastic buttons and prancing through the forest at the cottage.

Or walking to school on a chilly fall morning. The kind that we're starting to have now, and lo' I give you a prime example of my momentary perfection. Meet the Manos cape.
I recently fell down in a button basket at Lettuce Knit and took home some of the cutest buttons you've ever seen.
Can you blame Fenner for asking, "Is this the sweater for my bird buttons?" They are too small to provide functional support but are perfect for decoration around the bottom of the skirt. Like all of the beautiful buttons I've bought for Fenner's sweaters so far - I'll be reusing them on different garments as she grows out of these ones.
This button will be beautiful on a sweater for me one day....for example.
I love these buttons.
The model, in crazy evening light through our living room window. I'm hoping to get a 'going to school' shot tomorrow.
The hood was too hot this evening but she enjoyed having a big enough button to do up and undo over and over again.
Mission. Accomplished.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I've fallen and I can't get up

We recently lost our house computer, not recently actually within days of me starting my new job and giving back my old and very lived in laptop. I loved that laptop. I spent over 3 years working and living on that laptop.

By the end that laptop was grinding, poor Augustine. Since our home computer finally croaked after living on life support for 18 months we've been living our online dreams on our various iTools. We're beginning to feel like pretty substantial itools because of it.

It has however, afforded us the luxury of time - time to knit, play cards, cook and watch tv. It's amazing how much time we were spending hooked up. I still missed it but I find when I'm online now I'm much more efficient. It's changed my work habits, our family habits and our communication habits. It's pretty creepy actually.

To wit: jarred tomatoes on my bachelor weekend. Don't worry there was much wine consumed, movies watched to compensate for every household chore accomplished.
I've finished Little Red, a red riding hood cape for Fenner's fall sweater. Just in time for Indian Summer.
We've been really enjoying these last days of civil weather. I'm not sure how pleasurable grocery shopping with our bikes are going to be in the winter time. I'm choosing denial instead of contemplating it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life is rich

Am speaking with my sister on the phone about the past month in the family's life.

We are a lucky people.

Life is good.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's a little more change..

So with the advent of changing virtually every day to day schedule and expected responsibility in the house. I've been trying to take all of the bad habits and wishes for good habits into account. The seemingly little habits I'm constitently trying to integrate to daily life: shopping for clothes (everyone's), planning weekly meals, flossing, bike commuting, running 3 times a week, reading more, cooking more etc. Aim high bitches!

My theory is that since everything is so off putting already - learning a new culture and job at work is exhausting, the family morning and night routines are changing we may as well use the opportunity to shake it all up.

As a result, it took two weeks for Jason and I to have a moment of clarity to realize we had somehow lost all house maintenance time in the shift of the schedule. Not only that but because Fenner's sleep schedule has been adjusted to an earlier time (7:00 - 7:30) we actually only have 3 hours a day together as a family.

How does one parent 15 hours a week? This question does nothing but drive home the pounding weight of guilt because, god help me, I am still in love with new job. I feel fulfilled, healthy and focussed. Talk about torn!

In the midst of transitioning my life my fantastic cousin Deanna called to find out if we were available for a play date on a rainy Sunday and in typical last minute fashion we were able to pull it together.

Happy children playing together stops the cycle of self-flagellation. We're all doing ok. Hari and Deanna have been juggling not only paying jobs but an artist's drive for creative outlet (Deanna's a singer). Thank god for great company!
It does beg the question:

How are the other double income families looking so goddam normal and together? The last time I felt this ramped and stretched out (literally and figuratively) was when Fenner was days old. I believe I may have at the time described what I was feeling as though I was a "political prisoner just escaped from a Chinese prison"*

*not to denigrate the plight of political prisoners but maybe to draw attention to the universal shock of new motherhood.

Fenner had a sleep over with Auntie Coco on Friday so Jason and I could remind ourselves of being in love and we had a fantastic night.

We met F and Carolyn at the CNE on Saturday night where we broiled ourselves in the hot sun of Carnie-Town. Fenner, is fearless. Any roller coaster she could get on with one of us was riddent and some of them were done without us.
She's all warmed up to go to the Perth Fair with Grandma and Grandpa on the long weekend. J and Fenner will be going to Smith's Falls for Labour Day weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What are they going to say...

when I knit for the first time in the office? Once, I start knitting at lunch I might get my conversion numbers up as well as get me some amazing lined bike mittens! Fiddlehead mittens in Tanis fibre.

I'd been contemplating a job change for about a year when an opportunity arose at a really wicked internet consulting job downtown Toronto. Very young, glavanized and inspired team that is looking to do some work in the not for profit/charity sector.

What really grabbed my heart, for lack of a more pragmatic analogy, was the fact that all 5 people I spoke with in the interview process had passions outside of the immediate work. The benefits and impact of these interests seemed to fully impact the energy of the day to day work.

An urban cycling advocate and blogger, an Iron Man contender, VP of Talent who I've heard multiple co-workers thank personally for help she's given them, multiple dedicated parents to name a few.

Every day I meet more people who not only keep on top of their design and industry standards all while being engaged in their personal lives. I've been biking to work most days and it feels awesome. The business casual environment means that I don't wear yoga pants and pajamas anymore - you know? I don't miss it as much as I thought I would.

Speaking of business casual, Little Miss has discovered skinny dipping at the cottage...
I just can't wait until month one of adjusting to a new culture is done. It's exhausting learning a new culture, never mind one in which you're one of the oldest staff in the room.

How the hell did that happen?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Highlights from July

I cannot fathom how to write some of these drafts I've got in progress. I don't have a lot of brainpower right now and my Mimi, Husband and Knitting all deserve more than I've got.

Thus, a photblog bitches.

What better way to spend gridlock than making funny faces at me while wearing a crown.
Fenner had her first couple of runs through White's Falls at the cottage. I told her she couldn't touch the white water until she was paying taxes on her income but until then she and I could ride the current through the shallows. She loved it!
First dress up day at school. Luckily Grandma knew it was coming and made Fenner the most amazing ladybug costume. It was ridiculously cute. She has a matching purse filled with show and tell to enjoy.
The Taste of Little India introduced balloon animals back into the house. Jason knows how to make them and Fenner thought it was the most magical thing in the world to have a hat WITH a flower MADE OUT OF BALLOONS. Holy sweet jesus!
Jason and I had our anniversary in July. We went for dinner at Terroni. That place is romantic at all times. It was fabulous.
More soon. I'm going to try and do small 'placeholder' posts to hold me down until the weekend.

Hi Kristin!!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Pro: Generational impact

Fenner and I were up North last weekend for a reboot weekend. Jason has been the primary parent for the past 2 weeks while my sisters and I tried to help my Mother with the overwhelming tasks associated with death.

Work has been full tilt and I've been really distracted while on deck. Jason needed some alone time and Fenner and I needed to get back online.

Last weekend was our chance. Con: I had to work for half of the days. Pro: Fenner absolutely loves my sister, Elizabeth, and my Mom. She baked pies with Mom and swam until she was blue in the face. At least, I cling to that pro because I'm a self-flagellating Mom who should not have been dividing her time between work and home...again, but that's not a new or original theme is it now?

On Sunday, I got back to the cottage and she was wedged in between Mom and Liz for nap. Mom was reading her a story and "rocking". This is an age old tactic she and Dad used to use to NUKE us kids into nap submission. There is no way to resist the combination of comfort and incredible body heat and if there was any soupcon of revolution in the air, my Mom would start rocking her body back and forth in a small, smooth gentle motion.

In minutes we'd be out.

Tonight, as we tried to settle she turned to me and said, "Mommy, please can you rock? No, not like that....like Nan?"

I do believe, I'll end on a Pro thankyouverymuchMom.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Kind of Flying Solo

It's been a crazy mad couple of weeks that have brought about massive life change. It marks the natural timely end of one long life, a new job, and many day to day adventures.

Needless to say there is a lot of draft posts lingering around here right now. Fenner and I went north for the long weekend without Jason. Unfortunately, I'm on call so am in Barrie right now maximizing the internet connection.

We went to the Six Mile Lake fireworks show last night in our little tin fishing boat. What a night. "Captain, my captain!"
Fresh and ready for the new adventure! Those curls make it very hard for me not to lick her head in an expression of feral mother love.

Oh, there was singing...much singing and yodelling!
It's nice to know that no matter how grown up our kids get, we all love us a snuggle fest.


Best use of handmade wool blanket from Northern Ontario!
Faster!
The lake at sunset right before the fireworks. Basically what happens is that this bay fills up with boats and everyone sits and watches the show, whch was no amateur affair. I haven't been up the lake at night since our cottage cousins moved East. I'm ashamed to say I'd never seen the fireworks.
The night was magical.


video