Thursday, 30 June 2011

Writer's Workshop

This post is my first time participating in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. How timely her question was!

What do I find most difficult about blogging?
Doing it.
Actually taking my idea, sitting down, and turning it into real words on the screen rather than just a swirl of ideas in my head. This is how things look in my brain:

See? It’s just not that comprehensible. There are often times when I think “THIS IS HILARIOUS!” and then, by the time I get to a computer, somehow I’ve lost whatever it was that was so funny in the first place. And even when it is still funny for me, there is no guarantee that it’s equally funny to anyone else. (Or equally meaningful, or even equally understandable.)

I also, as you may have noticed if you are still reading this blog, suffer from an extreme lack of motivation. I like blogging, but I am not so good at the art of applying the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair, so to speak. (Isn’t Hemingway the one who said that the art of writing is “the art of applying the seat of one’s pants to the seat of the chair”? I think it was…)

The seat-pants connection is challenging for me, especially when it comes to blogging. I’m very good about reading blogs, but not so great about writing posts.
Between Seat-Pants Syndrome and Brain-Swirl Syndrome… quite honestly, friends, it’s shocking I ever manage to blog at all.

I'm working on it, though!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

On Bein' Amurrican

I just found this post, saved as a draft, tucked away in my archives. It's a few months old, but I guess I've made no progress in thinking about this-- everything in here is still totally, 100% true!

Recently my sense of humour (snarky, sarcastic, and self-deprecating at best) has taken a turn for the distinctly un-patriotic. I ascribe various negative behaviours (entitlement and overindulgence, to name a couple) to my nationality, and finish such thoughts with "it's because I'm Amurrican" (which is how I pronounce this in my jokes).

And the thing is, it's really not funny.

Or, ok, it KIND OF is, because the whole thing about humour is taking something that is true, and twisting it slightly. So it works from that angle. But it seems to be revealing something about my feelings about my nationality that is really not pretty.

I don't really know precisely where I'm going with this. I don't really have a point. It's just something I have been thinking about recently.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Teacher Gifts: Or, what happens when I'm not reigned in

Really, this whole post should be entirely "illustrated" with pictures of the whole process of making the teacher gifts, but at the time I was far too frazzled to think of it. Please use your imagination.

When I was in grade school, my siblings and I gave gifts to our teachers at the end of every school year. These gifts were cute, and usually involved something edible in fun, creative packaging. My mother was in charge of this, which will provide anyone who knows her with an image of exactly what these gifts were like-- charming, thoughtful, and delicious.

I decided that, this year, I would spearhead the getting-teachers-gifts project with the children. Nothing fancy, I reasoned, just something cute and delicious, as I had brought my own teachers. There would be cookies-- four different kinds!-- that would be tucked in a cute containers-- coloured plastic sand pails!-- and, oh yes, those pails should be lined with something-- handmade napkins, decorated by the children!

None of this is too absurd so far, until you take into account that in my family of three kids, we had maybe-- MAYBE-- 4 or 5 teachers to whom to bring cookies. Usually it was just three.

Between Neptune and Clover's teachers, we had nine teachers who deserved these tasty gift baskets.

I cut the number of cookie varieties down to two (chocolate chip, and snickerdoodles). But that was the only adjustment I made to the plan.

This ambition lead to me making 258 cookies one Wednesday afternoon, which the kids helped with when they got home from school. Never seen 258 cookies at once? Well, just look at this:

To get 258 cookies, you have to make 3 batches of chocolate chip and 4 batches of snickerdoodles. Impressed? You should be. Horrified? Me too.

Then I let my resident division expert (Clover, 5th grade graduate) determine how many of each kind each teacher should get. We wrapped the allotted cookies in saran wrap, and stored them in the buckets (11 chocolate chip and 17 snickerdoodles each, in case anyone was curious).

While I was finishing up the baking of the cookies, Clover and Neptune began on the Decorating of the Napkins. I'd already cut the muslin into pieces and sewed neon thread around the edges to prevent fraying (I know, I know). I gave the kids fabric paint, and set them loose on the napkins. It was fun to see how each kid chose to go about decorating.

Napkins drying, we cleaned up and I sent the kids off to bed.

The next morning, we arranged the napkins and cookies in the cute plastic buckets ($1 at Michael's!), curled some ribbon to tie on the handles (I just couldn't seem to stop!), and tucked the thoughtful thank you notes the kids had decorated and written inside.

Seriously, the only part of this we did not do by hand was weave the fabric and mold the plastic.

I could go Quite A While at this point without seeing another cookie, and I'd be Just Fine. The teachers were thrilled, though, so I'm declaring it a Victory.

Through all of it, the dogs were Unimpressed.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

If you're happy and you know it... You're a feminist!

Oh, friends.

Sometimes I just have moments that make me feel like the children actually do listen to me, and internalise what I say.

Part of that time, it scares the beejesus out of me. The other part of the time, I'm terribly proud. This was one of those times.

Neptune recently checked out two copies of Sports Illustrated for Kids from the local library. He was flipping through it, looking at pictures of all sorts of different people playing a variety of sports. Then he handed me the magazine, open to this page:

I skimmed it, and Neptune explained: "I like that it shows a girl doing sports. A lot of sports magazines don't, but this one does. Which is good, because, you know. Girls do sports too."

And the children will lead us.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Startin' 'em Young

If you've been to college... or happened by a college... or ever heard of college... I'm sure you have heard of beer pong. Beer pong is a game played with red plastic cups, a table, a ping pong ball and, of course, beer. The layout looks like this:
Q: What's wrong with this picture?
A: The cups aren't red!

The aim is for Team A (or Person A) to throw their ping pong ball into one of Team B's cups. Then Team B must drink the beer in that cup before they get a turn to throw the ping pong ball at Team B's cup. (For the record, I never played beer pong in college. My lack of hand-eye coordination, combined with my lack of desire/ability to drink large amounts of beer would have been a miserable combination.)

Ok, got that?

So, the other day, I was helping out at Neptune's second grade class party. One of the games was an outdoor version of tic-tac-toe. 9 red cups were set up in a square, and filled halfway with water. Each kid had to throw ping pong balls into the cups, trying to get three in row. It looked for all the world like a second grade version of beer pong. It only get better when Neptune told me he'd gotten "blackout" (ie a ping pong ball in each cup).

Oh, young friend, I thought. That happens in the college version too.

Also at this party, I discovered I could hula hoop. Who knew?

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Here is what I love about lists:

-They are very quick to write
-You can use them for many different things (both practical and impractical)
-You can use bullet points
-And sub-bullet points
-You can put really big important things on them
-You can put silly, quick, mundane chores on them
-It is very satisfying to cross things off, no matter how easy or difficult it was to actually DO the thing
-You can use them to make other people (eg the children you nanny for) do stuff