Thursday, February 27, 2014

Clara's letter 2/26/14

I guess at school the children were asked to write a letter to someone, anyone.

This is what Clara wrote:

Dear Santa,
I hope you are haveing a good time in the north poll with the colld wethr. rite back to me some day please santa please.


1) I love that she thought of how Santa might be enjoying the cold that the rest of us are so sick of.
2) I love that she would like (in late February, a long way from Christmas) him to write back.

Monday, February 24, 2014


1) I have confessed to a couple of people in the last week that my real New Year's resolution was to be magic, by which I mean be Good, Kind and Full of Inventive Solutions that actually add up to net improvements in as many of the lives over which I have influence as possible.  It's a lofty goal.  Thank-god it's only February because so far I've not made much inroads with this.

2)  Clara put a curse on the ring I am currently wearing by applying a magic golden balloon, five bracelets and a chant to it.  Apparently now I can't wear it to work because, to quote Clara directly, "it will make your colleagues very greedy."  Oh dear.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Night Banjo

Well, hello again, Thursday evening, and bite me.

Am I going to clean the tub?  No.
Am I going to do productive things?  No.

I am going to expand my banjo repertoire.  So far it includes flawed and uneven versions of Cripple Creek, Shortnin' Bread, Little Liza Jane and I'll Fly Away (all in tablature by Tim Jumper).  That's it.  My whole repertoire.  Plus a few chords (G, C, D7, F).  Everything in G tuning (I am afraid to even contemplate other tuning options).  This, my dear readers, after only 7 years of having the banjo sit on a stand in the living room, and a bit less than a year of actually trying to teach myself how to play it.

I have just found this amazing website (owlbanjo Schoolhouse) and its very excellent instructions for playing Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison.  Really excellent instructions, with recordings to listen to at various speeds.  And (AND) everything is in G tuning!  Super Bien!

Fumbling with this stuff should take care of Thursday evenings for at least a decade.

Good thing I decided earlier today that, having finished Clara and Winton's scarves, other knitting projects (tea cosy?) will have to wait until my retirement in approximately 22 years.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

Healthy Breakfasts

are a challenge, aren't they?  Especially when faced with the relentless sugar-crusade that is Winton.  I suppose getting him to drink a kale and pineapple smoothie this morning is a triumph, but it is one significantly mitigated by the jelly beans that accompanied it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oh, go on then. Write one more maudlin post. This one's about (not) being there.

Last mopey one for a bit. OK, dear readers?

Last night I was at the House, part of my exercise in trying and failing to be here while also trying and failing to have moved out.

At 4.30 AM, Winton got up to pee, knocking on his father's door and getting his father to take him even though I was home, door open and even, as it turns out, awake.  Ouch. My "baby" (he's five) doesn't come to me in the night anymore.

But: it's only ouch for me.  This doesn't actually hurt anyone else as keenly as it does me, so in the great game of trying to raise happy children, it doesn't matter.  Winton peed.  He was happy.  He didn't need me to be there for him.

I have spent seven years parenting on the model that being there was the most important thing I could do. 

Am I still there for the children if I sometimes not here  (as in physically with them)?  How do I pull that off?

Do I need to be X % better, happier, livelier, more attentive, more loving, more perceptive, more more more when I am with them because of the time when I am not?  (Oi.  That's just a bit of pressure, innit?)

So much of this is about my own ego, sense of purpose and insecurity about every damn thing: if the kids don't need me, what (cue the orchestra of tiny violins to serenade my self-pity), what am I worth as a human being and a mother?

But the kids do need me.  And their father.  They need both.

And this curent nesting arrangement is, as far as I can tell, fine for the children.  Possibly it is fine even for their father (it must occasionally drive him nuts though, surely: like having an intermittent but obtrusive roommate).


Friday, February 7, 2014


So the alliterative cures I list below, and which I used last night, work pretty well.  They keep one busy.

My better insight though is that a sense of purpose helps more than creating busy-ness.

If I am missing people, it is best to imagine how this time away from them can be used best, so that when I am with them my time with them can also be used best.

-bath and a goodnight's sleep = I will be more resilient and relaxed when I pick the kids up from school the next day.

-morning walk, tea and focused reading of work =  I have to do my job too, and if I work harder now, I can slide a little and not have to be thinking of work around the edges of being with loved ones when I next get to be with them.

This is also a very constructive (or so it feels to me) reframing of the narrative that had in the past led to self- pity and flagellation.    In other words, replace "You are feeling bereft because you deserve it" with "Feeling lonely?  Get busy now so that when you are with loved ones you can relax and enjoy it."

This is a version of my father's advice on Christmas morning when I was weeping about missing the children: "Oh, stop it!" He said, at the end of his rope with me, "Shut up, have another cup of coffee and read your book.  Soon you'll be back with everybody and they will be driving you crazy with something."  Touche, Pappa.  Touche.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Alliterative Ills and Cures

Had a day of Bumbleheadedness (in which everyone else seems to speed up while your ability to think, remember, and be effective slows down)?

Did the children have a Bona-Fide Bust-Up, hitting each other, yelling and falling on their Bums while out walking the dog with you this afternoon?

Are you tired this evening, and alone facing The Blahs? Or The Bleaks? 

May I recommend:

Bath (first take one then clean one)
Book (ideally something written for adolescents: easy, plot-driven)
Bed (tomorrow--look ahead to tomorrow)

I'll let you know if it works.

Monday, February 3, 2014


I mentioned to Winton, he of the massive piggy bank and fondness for coin sorting, that I needed quarters. 

Then I spent my usual Saturday night and Sunday away from the kids and their house.

On return to them/ the house on Sunday late afternoon, before I had removed my boots, Winton greeted me with three quarters: "For you, Mummy.  Because you need them."

Thoughtfulness from a five-year-old boy is heartbreakingly wonderful.