Thursday, June 28, 2012


Tomorrow is the last day of Fenner's first year of school.  This little girl has turned into a school aged big sister in the course of 10 months.
The real challenge for us has been to make sure that while she thrives in a system designed to educate the masses, we work hard to encourage and nurture the magical things that make her stand out.

Her Empathy and humour.

Her Curiosity about the world around us.
The ability she has for going along with a crazy plan. This is thehippo she left in our neighbour's garden.  Ken and Fenner have an ongoing game and now there are multiple animals hiding all over his beautiful garden.

Today Fenner hid a Triceratops in a cave made of creeping time.
 All this in a year, makes me look forward to the next season. I find it a gift to see the world through her eyes and to watch her watching me for clues as to the different ways she could proceed.

It's magical.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Neighbourhood Action!

A neighbourhood bike parade has been organized to celebrate the last day of school. It doesn't matter which school the kids attended; the plan is to meet at the most local public school and go for a neighbourhood cruise.

Fenner and I dolled up her bike with some sweetness from the local Dollarama.
We're looking forward to another fun neighbourhood party!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lazy days are different when you have children

We took this morning off from meeting anything but minimum standards.  Fifteen years ago that meant calling sick into work and playing Syphon Filter for 12 hours eventually breaking out performance enhancing drugs.

Today it meant that Fenner was totally engaged in her own world building story lines with her toys. Other than my sick level of satisfaction at the sink full of My Little Pony hair there were no issues with the morning.

For my part, I took the opportunity to finish off my second woven scarf.  It needs a quick date with a hot iron before the full shot gets taken but it's looking alright.

It's the first time I warped my loom by myself and there is definitely room for improvement on keeping my tension even but it's going to be a beautiful sort of a scarf I think.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Luxury is:

Watching my family exhaust themselves at our 60 year old cottage the way I did growing up.

Having a place to swim and family to swim with when the heat comes:

Visiting Pretty Channel to play in the rapids.
Lounging endlessly in the boats.
Eating divine food with my friends and family in one place.
Nearly skunking my Dad and having the opportunity to dance my "Worst Winner Ever" dance.
Fenner enjoying her rainy day craft bag, deciding to make a mask and being able to do it all herself before going for a sweet rainy day swim with her Uncle Will.
 Marlowe really getting into eating and enjoying pretty much everything I put in front of her - which let the rest of us enjoy the fact that Dad replaced the 60 year old Shag carpet.
 Luxury is getting to watch and listen to my Dad 'read' stories to Fenner for bedtime. It took her just a few minutes to get used to him changing character names...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gone Fishing.

We are heading North to the Cottage for my annual Urban Family Summer Weekend. That lake is going to feel great.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not quite inner city.

Thursday's are for rest and recovery around here. Fenner goes off to daycare for some respite from me and Marlowe, and Marlowe sleeps for hours on end.  Me?  I spend the day weaving, drinking coffee and sleeping as well.

It has been a luxury that will be ending at the end of next week but instead of unpacking this morning's calm weaving and coffee drinking. I am going to reminisce about one of my favourite childhood memories.

Sprinklers on a shit ass hot day.  You know the hot day when parents are humming they are so crabby?  And there is a sprinkler on the way home from school and everyone including your batshit crazy Mom goes through it like it's a portal to civility?

Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.
 Sweet relief followed by a cathartic thunder storm and because your Mom went through that portal to civility you got to dance in the rain.

 Urban bliss yo.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Swooning to the romantic tune of Red Riding Hood

One of the millions of things I love about being on maternity leave is being in my neighbourhood a lot more.  I have a four year old daughter that needs to be very active during the day to ensure sleep at night and so we get to spend a lot of time exploring the nooks and crannies of a 10 city block radius.

Through starting The Rail Garden I've become acquaintances with so many people I used to just pass on the way to doing errands.

Last weekend one of these new friends dropped off a whole bouquet of mind blowing roses. They are called Red Riding Hood Fairy Tale Roses I could stare at the ribbons of petals in the rose all day. It is all so romantic I could just swoon.

It was Father's Day and Fenner had drawn a chalk background on the sidewalk in front of our house - she was doing a puppet show with flowers that she had deadheaded from our garden.

Miranda was driving by and yelled out that she'd be dropping a package off later in the morning, and these were it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Once you're cooking for 4 people, why not make it 120?

Remind me to look back at this blog when I start to complain about how I can never finish my knitting, or that I am the slowest knitter to ever walk the earth.

On Saturday, the Ladies of The Rail Garden hosted our final Community Dinner of the planting season.  It never sounds like a big deal until the night before 130 of our friends, family and neighbours show up to eat dinner. 

Four women planned a menu that includes amazing vegetarian and carnivore mains complemented by vegan, gluten free sides for 130 people. In a brand new community garden.

Since we charged money for tickets it was important that we make the space extra special for our guests.
It was also our last fundraiser of the year so we all raided our pantries, sheds and our own gardens for anything that might help transform the space into a romantic, upscale country garden picnic.

 In return, the community came in full force, 120 people came to break bread in the new space.  We built it for everyone to enjoy and I believe they all did.
 Musical instruments and dancing ensued.
More and more people are running neighbourhood wide guerilla events and they wanted to help so they brought desserts. So many delicious desserts

I even cracked out some handmade chocolate butterflies to decorate my mediocre cupcakes.  Children will do anything for a Monarch.

I can barely even believe how amazing it all turned out.  Everytime we do this I think, never again..

 but then we have so much fun I can't help but imagine what our Harvest Dinner is going to look like.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Making the patriarchy look good

Hey Jay,

I just wanted you to see some of the great moments that you've had this year. Being a Father is a super important and difficult job. I think that you really raise the bar of expectations for Dads.  I find it inspiring the lengths you will go to support the health and well being of our family.
 You know just how to inspire Fenner to action and Marlowe to inaction.
 More importantly, and I think that this gets pushed aside, you take spectacular care of me so that I can take care of the girls.  You are setting their expectations for how they should be treated by their spouses. That their strengths, intellect and level of 'difficulty' are not negatives but are characteristics that enhance them as people.

By treating me as well as you do, you are setting important expectations.
You foster a love of art, creativity and the outdoors in all of us.
 I know it's a bit of a mixed blessing that you married a woman with an attraction to challenging vacations but I love that you voice your concerns and make me meet some minimum standards of safety before you get your game on.

It has been an enriching, joyful experience co-parenting babies and children with you.  I can't wait to parent teenaged girls with your sense of humour, grace and generousity.

Love Jen.

PS:  Thanks for cooking dinner tonight it was delicious!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Quiet Before The Storm

Tomorrow is the last Community Dinner that we are hosting at The Rail Garden.

48 Cornbread Muffins
1 vegan coleslaw
8000 lbs of cut veg
2 dozen overdecorated cupcakes

Bags of decorations and equipment are ready to go.

Those are just my contributions to a well planned perfect community meal.

I just finished a cold beer on the porch after the chores before the chaos of the day.

Go team go.

The semi-quiet before the real quiet before the storm

On Saturday I am hosting a community dinner at  The Rail Garden for over 120 people.  We are almost sold out.

This event is a testament to what happens when a group of women plays and supports their individual strengths. Eva is the point guard on our food events because she has the ability to stage food and spaces beautifully. Anyone who has seen my house knows that I have a lot of strengths but design is not one of them.

So to give her a couple of hours to write instructions and give us her plan clearly, I took her beautiful girls for a couple of hours.
I love children.  This is one of my biggest strengths.  I love taking them on errands and find the adventure in the mundane chores of life.  No matter who you are, you have to get food somehow and given I live in the heart of the city I have to go to the store or the market.

My secret is that no one goes to the store if they are hungry or tired and I usually pack snacks like I'm going on a hike in Algonquin park. It might be overkill but who the hell wants to go to the grocery store with crabby kids??
Kids get to choose anything they want from the produce section.  This is where we do the majority of our shopping. Cherries were a big hit at the grocery store and Eva was able to write up clear directions for me.  My Community Dinner super power is that I am an untiring, unstopping grunt, so if you have clear directions and a vision of how you want things to look - I can prep the hell out of everything.

The key for Moms is that they need a bit of space to write those directions.

After school we went to the East Lynn Farmers Market.  Snap peas were the perfect market buy because they came with a zipper and were a delicious veg complement to the cherry and grape snacks that we bought at the grocery store before school.
The best part about market season in Toronto is that they set up activities for the kids that they can't get enough of.  Fenner managed to con one of the make up artists into letting her not be in line so she got to be a biking kitty all the way home.
It is a testament to my neighbour Janine's mad mediation skills that she got her daughter off the make up train in time for a ride home.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bringing what I love to the people I love

While I was at Squam I got to take my friend Steph's Knitting with Mawata class. She doesn't offer these classes over tea and I knew that she wasn't scared of children so it was a great fit on my adventure. 

It became apparent quickly that playing with silk cocoons and dyeing Mawata was going to would fit right in with Fenner's current interests. Bugs and paint. Since there wasn't a lot of child appropriate toys or gifts to bring back from the Squam Fair I brought back a few cocoons to play with.
 Aren't they pretty?  When shaken you can hear the silk worm inside.
She was pretty suspicious and unbelieving that this was how silk starts. It's pretty amazing isn't it. How it starts with cocoons and ends with the Mawata as seen in the next picture.  I love that the process hasn't changed in thousands of years.  Real people have to pull the silk off the cocoons and then they stretch the silk on frames to make the Mawata

We gave them a soaking and started looking for the worm. I only had a few cocoons and wanted to test drive the process before actually making the Mawata on frames.  I think that project is more adult appropriate.
She was appropriately amazed and grossed out.
My plan is to buy some white silk hankies and have some dyeing fun with the neighbourhood kids. I love how they are all so excited by colour play.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Squamward Ho or How I learned to take a Minute

I am back from five days in New Hampshire where I attended the Squam Art Workshops at Squam Lake.  This is a blessing not only because of the quality of the workshops and attendees but because Marlowe was welcome to come with me.
 I walked this path four times in the morning classes until she fell asleep in the carrier.  The song birds and wind providing the soundtrack to our meditation.

The lake was the backdrop to all of our time in the cabin.
Driving 11 hours to and from Squam was made not only bearable but truly enjoyable by this merry band of Women who never once made me feel like Marlowe was anything but a great addition to our trip.
I had the privilege to meet and tease the gracious and funny Amanda Soule of while Marlowe and Annabelle commisserated over their lots in life.

 I was able to take a couple of hours and learned how to warp my loom and then weave it while these women held my sleeping bean - time is a luxury that is given by community.

 For her part, Marlowe represented her people with more dignity and charm than I could have hoped.  She gave me warning signs in advance of pre-nap meltdowns which allowed us to go outside and walk it off before she freaked out. 

She slept well so I could enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings and was so even tempered that when we found her first tooth on hour 6 of the trip home, I was shocked.

 It was an amazing five day full of new people, old friends and re-inspiration. 

That being said, re-entry still feels a lot like rear entry at the end of the day.