Wednesday, February 26, 2014

still winter

In the beginning, we cozy up to the wood stove and think of all the long, dark nights ahead where we can knit, read, watch movies, paint, and dream. There's the joy of revisiting favourite winter meals, hearty and warming, and the novelty of winter sports after a long summer of sand in your butt. 

But when my husband went down to the basement last night to load up the furnace with wood (again), we looked at each other in near-disbelief. It's still winter? It feels like it's been a long one. If I have to eat one more bite of shepherd's pie, I might run away forever. And don't get me started on the daily search for mittens, hats, neck warmers, and long johns before I head out to work with the kids in tow.

When this feeling of cabin fever hits, it's good to pull out the seed catalogues and gardening books and plan improbable gardens. We dream of the root cellar we'll have, and how we won't have to buy any root vegetables or apples next winter (we dream of this every year and it has yet to actually happen).  But the dreaming in itself is balm for the winter-weary soul, picturing tender new green things reaching for the sun.

After all, one can always find a sunbeam to squish oneself into. One might have to share it with a heat-seeking feline, or one might also use it as a spotlight for the many masterpieces one cranks out in a day.

I know in my head that winter will end. But by late February, it always feels like this has been the longest one ever. It feels like we'll never make it through with our sanity intact. 

But we will. Right? Maybe after we make one more pot of soup, Maybe this shepherd's pie will be the last one. In the meantime, I'll be here, knitting away on my Dala Mittens in hopes of wearing them (at least) once before real Spring arrives, and dreaming of rhubarb, fiddleheads, and fresh greens.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014


We booked a cabin for a night and gathered to celebrate this milestone birthday of mine. I feel blessed to reach the age of 40 and wanted to ring in this new decade with my sisters and a small circle of close women friends.

Wine in the snowbank outside the cabin door, plenty of wood for the wood stove, a walk down a snowy road, a table set so prettily (in my favourite purple, with roses as a nod to my middle name), toasts to make me laugh and cry (then laugh till I cried), many hands knitting, nocturnal giggling, a delectable breakfast, a new slouch hat (among other sweet, thoughtful gifts), and finally, a morning-after selfie complete with adhesive jewels and a rosebud.

A recipe for a celebration. I was touched and honored, overjoyed and heart-warmed. I'll never forget it. I left the cabin feeling determined to gather more often with the women in my life, all amazingly smart, funny, deep, loving, strong, warm, creative, and dynamic. They energize and inspire me, soothe my soul and lift my spirits. 

In the midst of late winter and the busyness of being mamas and breadwinners and all those other things, we gathered to celebrate it all: friendship, wisdom, connection, and life.

I say it again: I am blessed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

a week in mid-February

Now that I (finally) have my very own camera, I would love to be home snapping pictures of knitting projects flying off the needles, all the cute crafts my kid do, and the amazing food I throw together to feed this gang.

But, alas.

This week I worked on my report cards every night. I miss my kids. I'm almost done.

I turned forty on Wednesday and celebrated with a visit from my parents (and by opening a gift of handmade socks from my mom, and a Canon Rebel from my siblings, in laws, and husband...woot!). We ate homemade gluten free chocolate cake (my husband rocks), and my dad read stories to Violet.

On Valentine's Day, I made the table fancy and served the kids their orange juice in fancy glasses. It's the little things that count, right? Mind you, I didn't get around to writing a card for my husband, but we did spend the evening watching the first three episodes of Downton Abbey's Season 4 (if you haven't watched it yet, don't call me's hard to stop once you start!). Oh my gosh, the third episode. Still processing that one.

My dala horse mittens are not exactly flying off the needles. They are a labour of love, in that I want and love them enough to labour over them slowly, when I find a few toddler-free moments. They are SO pretty!

This toddler. She has a naughty face that she wears when she tries to eat cat kibble or creeps up and shuts down the computer. She's gaining well and behaving like herself, which is definitely an upward swing.

And Margot lost her first baby tooth. I don't know why this made me feel sadder than previous tooth-losses. It's a feeling like grief, as I look at that big, bumpy adult tooth pushing its way up through her gum. Her baby teeth were/are so cute, tiny, white, and lined up like little duckies in a row. Not that I'm not dwelling on it or anything.

 I don't know if other parents suck as much as I do, but I woke up suddenly at 5:30 and realised that the Tooth Fairy hadn't come. I snuck downstairs and found a loonie (that's a one dollar coin for you non-Canadians out there) in Violet's piggie bank, and managed to sneak it under Margot's pillow without waking her up. I will teach them about keeping track of their money later. 

This happens every time one of them loses a tooth. I swear, the same loonie keeps finding its way under all the kid-pillows in the house. I promise myself I'll get a roll of them just for tooth-fairy duties but so far I haven't.

Tonight I'm heading off for a night of celebration with my sisters and girlfriends. A bunch of women in a cabin, with wine, food, and a wood stove...and knitting, of course. I'll admit, in true geriatric fashion, that what I'm looking forward to most is my first night of uninterrupted sleep in 14 months.

That's the weekly report.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ups, downs

It's hard to avoid seeing the connection between my return to work and this baby's frequent illness since then. In December, it was a fever and cough that brought me first to the ER, then to our family doctor, where I was told (both times) that it was viral and therefore there was nothing to be done but wait it out.

In early January, it was a night of vomiting that led to a week of loss of appetite. Just when she seemed to perk up a bit, she was brought low by another cold. Day after day went by, wondering if she was seeming better, if her cough seemed looser, if maybe today would be the day we could entice her to eat a bit more.

Finally, last weekend, after a week spent calling home from work to find out how she fared, I took her to the ER again (as our family doctor was not available). We were seen quickly and the nurse who did the initial check-in was warm, gentle, and compassionate. Then the doctor came in and saw on her chart that she is not (yet) immunized.

I felt the shift in her energy immediately as she dismissed me as a rational person. The tone of her words became sarcastic and patronizing and I realised that I could no longer expect any help or even encouragement from her. Her biggest concern was that, since our ER visit in December, Norah hadn't gained weight. 

She decided against a chest x-ray as "the radiation from an x-ray does way more harm than any immunization would". I was told that the fact that she is not immunized "complicated things" because she could have whooping cough (never mind that she is cared for at home and has three immunized siblings, AND had only been coughing for 4 days). It was then suggested that I feed her Cheerios to fatten her up.

We've opted for yogurt, full fat milk, fruit, rice, meat, and veggies. She has perked up considerably, and although I haven't weighed her, she feels heavier on my hip and is behaving more like herself. 

It's hard on a working mama to leave her breastfed baby when she is sick. I have had to rely on my husband and mother to ply her with food, and although I was thinking it might be time to night-wean (before I turn 40 this week), I'm grateful for all those nocturnal calories she's taking in (not to mention the restorative cuddles we share when the rest of the household sleeps).

It's been a few months of ups and downs. We're on an upward swing right now and I'm crossing my fingers that with Spring starting to whisper in my ear (albeit from very far away), my girl will well on her way to wellness (without Cheerios) long before the warm breezes blow.