View From The Glen

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lines to a lamb

I have to admire your hardiness.

It was minus 22 degrees out yesterday. And windy. Probably the coldest day of the winter so far.

If I were you I'd have waited until the first balmy days of spring. Or timed it for last week when we had a mild spell.

But you arrived yesterday, a tiny wet bundle of newborn lamb, shivering under the timbers of the lean-to, next to your mother. Wobbling on tiny legs, your tail wiggliing furiously when you found milk - the sign we look for to assure ourselves you have found nourishment.

The first lamb of 2010.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Literacy Day

It was Literacy Day yesterday and the kids all went to school dressed as a favourite literary character.

Sort of.

No, not King Arthur. Not Aragorn. Erik could have been either but chose instead to be Peter Pevensie from C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I wouldn't let him take the sword to school.

Keeping with the Narnia theme, we have Grace. Or rather, Aslan. She just wanted an excuse to wear the lion costume.

And though I tried to encourage Anna to go as a Musketeer with the great costume she made herself a couple of weeks ago, she had other things in mind.

Indiana Jones is not a book, I told her. But of course it is a book. We have a dog eared copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark in the library, and she knew it. Apparently I'm the only purist who doesn't think books written from movies are real.

This is a real book:

But then, Harrison Ford wasn't in the Narnia movies. To the detriment of the movies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Note for Grace's teachers: If she comes into school today telling you we played "nazi" last night, don't be jumping to any conclusions.

At first it was just a simple mistake. We're playing nazi, nazi, nazi, she sang.

We gently corrected her: it's Yahtzee, darling.

Her big brother was less kind: It's NOT NAZI. They're the BAD GUYS, he shouted.

And once she knew just how much it irritated her big brother, she just kept on doing it. Because she's 6.

And he kept shouting at her to stop. Which made her say it more.

And I kept wondering when or if he'd ever realize just how futile his efforts were.

And we kept playing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Nephew

I got to visit our new week old nephew on Saturday, and it was worth every second of the 2.5 hour drive (in each direction) for this:

Warm snuggly milky-breathed baby with wrinkled nose and big bold eyes!

Babies are adorable even when - maybe especially when - they're fast asleep with their mouths open. When they're awake and gazing up at you, it's like looking into the face of eternity.

His proud big sister showed him off to her three cousins before they all took off outside to play in the snow.

Welcome to the family, Leif.

Friday, January 22, 2010


We got goldfish at Christmas. The tank was a present for Grace, and there are five fish - one for each of us. There's Goldie (Anna's fish), Theodore (Grace's fish), Fish (Andrew's fish), Simon (Erik's fish) and Sinatra (my fish).

I should say there were five. But this morning we woke up to find Goldie floating belly up on top of the tank and there were tears.

I wanted him to get big and fat.
Why was it my fish?
This is a nightmare. (Anna has a flair for drama)

So among my other talents this morning – breakfast maker, dog walker, pet feeder, skate finder, lunch packer, sock matcher, pizza dough maker – I also got to be grief counselor and funeral director.

Whew! They should pay us moms more!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We have our own version of Twilight.

Strap on Snowshoes around 4:30 pm and trek off into the fields towards the woods.

Don't forget to bring a sled of snacks just in case you get hungry.

Or in case someone gets tired of trudging.

Follow the curve of the river and dare to enter the enchanted forest.

And when Twilight threatens to turn into night, be guided back home by the distant yellow lamplight.

Lots of Twilights here. But no vampires or werewolves.


Time Take 3

So half the hours of my week is taken up with work and sleep. The key is how to make the most of the rest of the available hours. When I spend the other half of my time only on the things that need to get done - the laundry, the running around, the grocery shopping - I feel tired. If however, some of the things I do involve things I love - playing with the kids, writing, reading - I feel rejuvenated. So I took a close look at how I spend the rest of my time.
  • 7% Writing. Some weeks it's more, some it's less, but I try to write every morning for at least an hour before the kids wake up. Recently it's been more as I whip a manuscript into shape.
  • 7% Reading. I've been terrible in January and haven't properly cracked a book since Christmas which is very odd for me. Usually I read every evening between 8pm and bedtime. It's a family activity - even the dog and cat seem to enjoy sitting around the living room with no sound except the turning of pages.
  • 5% Exercise. Yeah, this is more of a should do than an actual do. I do get a 20 min walk/ski with the dog every morning, another 20 min walk most lunchtimes, and Anna has challenged me to run the 10K Terry Fox Run with her in September, so I'm theoretically in training for that in the evenings. (This is more likely to actually happen when it stays light a little bit longer.)
  • 15% Together time. We're good at this one. It's everything from our weekly Friday night Movie & Pizza night, to our Saturday Play Day (which has been super easy between snowboarding and snowshoeing).
  • 13% Misc. Ok, it can't all be fun. There's carting the kids around to cubs, karate, ski school. Someone still has to grocery shop, and meals must still be made and the dishes put away. It's not all doom and gloom because although weekday meals are pretty basic, I love cooking in general, and the kids are all experts in the kitchen too. Basic cleaning is also in this category, although since hiring someone to come in 4 hours a week, this is no longer the chore it used to be, which frees me up for more of all the fun stuff.
I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions. I never do. But if there's one thing to remind myself of it is this: to do things that bring joy, and to do them as often as possible.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Time Take 2

I took an inventory of just how I do spend that 168 hours of time each week.
  • 33% of it is spent sleeping, which is a good thing because it means I get enough shut-eye. I feel it necessary to point out that this is not something heroic on my part, but rather an inherited inability to function on anything less than 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • 20% is work, which isn't really too bad. Work does of course take up the largest chunk of most people's week - that 40 hour grind Monday-Friday that everyone complains about. I do too - I'm often heard commenting that work gets in the way of my social life, but the truth is that I enjoy my job. I like the creative pulse of marketing and it feels good being the corporate environmental officer, and working with the innovations team.
So that's half my time accounted for. I read another blog recently about the Myth Of Balancing Everything. It is a myth, but one thing that really stood out for me was what she said about remembering to focus on things that bring joy to your life. It doesn't mean you'll be less busy, but you will be happier.

Monday, January 18, 2010


You can do anything you want, just not everything you want. Andrew always tells me this, and never has it resonated more with me than right now. Time seems to have slipped away from me since Christmas, and to be honest, I'm not sure exactly where it has gone.

It's not that I'm wasting it. In fact I'd say I've been very consious of the time I have recently. It's not that I have so much on my plate either. There's a sort of constant movement to my life, but it's a gentle one - not pulled and pushed by battering tides, but more like floating slowly down a river inexorably moved forward by the current.

But there can be no denying that it is passing. Things I want to do right now are put off: I'll do it later, I'll do it tomorrow, I'll do it next week. Always forgetting that next week there will be the same bottleneck of time.

I freely admit that I tend to be optimistic in the things I can accomplish in any given day. It would be nice to be able to freeze time for an hour now and then, but since we cannot, the only thing we can do is decide what to do with the time that we do have. We all have 168 hours a week - the trick is using them wisely.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food for a Winter's Afternoon

A friend of mind posted a recipe on her blog for heartwarming vegetarian fare she called  Gypsy Soup. This ancient secret family recipe, she claimed, was too good not to share.

Even reading the recipe made my mouth start to water. It sounded like a perfect soup for a cold day, and before I knew it I was envisioning a clear wintry afternoon and a snowshoe hike along the sheltered line of trees that runs the length of the river.

In a split second, my mind's eye captured every moment of that afternoon - the lingering scent of pine, the crunch of snow, and the return to a fire-warmed kitchen filled with the wafting smells of  tumeric and sweet basil. Ladeling soup into pottery bowls and eating it at the golden pine table as daylight fades to long blue shadows outside the french doors, and the music of Aviva Chernik fills the house.

It made me stop and reflect on the nature of food in our lives. How food at it's most basic may just be something to sustain us, but taken further is something that nourishes not just body, but spirit as well. It's too easy on hurried days to put food on the table without much thought, and eat with even less, our mind on getting out the door to Cubs or a book club meeting. But with just a little bit of reflection, it can be so much more.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome 2010!

We had a perfectly lovely quiet New Year this year, blanketed literally by snow and unwilling to venture out of doors unneccessarily. We had made it to see the fireworks and the festival of lights earlier in the evening, and had come home to eat the sausage rolls Anna made, sipping whiskey and wine beside the fire, and enjoying hanging out together as the old year drew to a close.

This year, the kids wanted to stay up until midnight. I think we hit 10pm before sending them off to bed, though Grace wanted to have a camp out with Nanny and I'm not exactly sure what time she ended up going to sleep. As for me, I don't need to stay up to enjoy New Year's Eve, and Andrew was working at 5am on January 1st, so we went to bed early and welcomed 2010 when we woke up.

2009 was a good year. I look forward to 2010, and the milestones it will bring.