Thursday, October 28, 2010

Picture Input

I have a load of pictures from our summer vacation. I put a load of them on Facebook, so if you are my "friend" there, then feel free to take a look. Not long after our beautiful summer vacation in New Brunswick (we drove there and back and spent a day in PEI too), I bought a picture frame to put a few pictures in and hang on our fireplace.

My only problem is picking pictures.

I want these two for sure:

Our feet on Cavendish beach. Liam a bit reluctant to play along.
Xander and Liam at Hopewell Rocks, NB...walking the ocean floor!
Now, the big catch is I have 2 spots for landscape photos and 2 for portraits. Here are my other choices:

Hopewell Rocks: Xander muddy, Liam touches the ocean for the first time, and Xander in the ocean for the first time.

Cavendish Beach: Liam and two of Xander in the sand.

Miscellaneous: by a lighthouse and then malarky in the park.

Give me some feedback, please. And some reasoning. Remember to choose one landscape and one portrait photo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Xander Jumps

Xander has issues with separation. In fact, we are in the process of having him do some work to deal with severe separation anxiety. Anything new, unexpected and...well, sometimes even stuff he knows about and is fine with can create a massive meltdown. Over the last six months we've had problems with having the babysitter come over, us going out, drop offs for soccer camp (that one took 2 hours to remove him from my legs the first day), concerts, and school.

We've also had issues with swimming lessons. I got to be that mother who dragged her screaming kid to the pool every day for lessons this summer (he did 2 four week stints over the summer). It was horrid for all of us.

Xander has taken swimming before. In fact, he's been at it since he was 2.5 years old! However, he did have a bit of a scare over the summer, where he went under for a split second and Daddy didn't catch him.

Last spring we had a series of private lessons with Peggy. Peggy refuses to hear the word "can't" at swimming. She's a motherly type and coaxes a bit, but with firmness. Xander likes her and trusts her. So, this fall, when he ended up with Peggy as his instructor, he was over the moon (let's not talk about the one day when Peggy's son was sick and we had a replacement instructor, since it could have been worse...much worse!). And Peggy was excited to have him too.

It turns out that although Xander is reluctant and takes a while to warm up to swimming, he is doing fairly well. He's swimming front stroke and back. He glides well. He jumps in like crazy and...surprise, surprise!...he loves to dive in. Peggy gets very wet teaching Xander and his classmate Zach. And she laughs doing it. She thinks they are a riot.

Today Peggy had great news: the boys were going to jump off the diving board for the first time.

Xander was not happy. It was new and scary. He didn't want to do that. He had every excuse in the book. And Peggy just said, "You LOVE to jump in and I never let you do anything you can't do. I am always there for you." They did their first few things in the deep end of the pool. Diving, swimming, gliding. And then they got lifejackets on and jumped off the side of the pool. It was all great.

Then it was time to jump off the diving board. Xander went first. He shook and trembled a little as he walked out. Held tight to the silver handles, then cautiously let go and inched his way across the board to the edge. He listened to Peggy and put his toes over the edge of the board, took a breath, made a grimace.....AND JUMPED!!!!

The first thing he said when he surfaced a moment later was: "That was FUN!!!"

Ha! Sometimes trying something new is a great thing. Sometimes there is fun in it.

Good work, Xander!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I grew up knowing that I was smart. I was told that I was smart in every way from the time I could walk and all the way through my school days. I was an adult and living on my own before I didn't have at least a weekly conversation that included one of my parents or relatives or friends telling me how smart I was.

Sounds like a great thing, doesn't it.

Except that in my world "smart" came with expectations. I was supposed to behave better than the average 7 year old (mostly, I understand that I did). I was only supposed to take academic courses...all of the academic courses in high school. My father still occasionally mentions how I did not take chemistry in high school! And did so on my graduation day from university. (Insert a deep sigh and an eye roll here.)

I was supposed to be perfect.

How does a person live with the expectation of perfection? Especially when the other message that you get is that you are failing all the time.

My father, though blessed with many wonderful traits, is not a man of patience for himself or others. And he always feels as though he is failing, thus projecting that onto his kids. If I wasn't getting marks over 80%, then I was failing. I didn't take the courses he wanted me to take, so I failed. These days, it is that I don't have a child who is beautiful, smart, healthy kids are boys! (Now, if anyone were to take issue with his grandsons, there would be hell to pay! He adores them. He just wants a granddaughter too.)

It's not that these are smacks of failure. Billboards advertising it. Or out and out telling me that I have failed. More like whisperings and suggestions of other things I should have done or ought to be doing. Subtle undercurrents. You could miss them. I did for a long, long time.

What does a person do with an expectation of perfection and a whispering voice that says you are failing? How does a person dig out from under all of that to just be?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Seminar for Writers

Last week I went to a seminar by the PWAC on pitching articles to magazines. The editors were fantastic and gave some really informative tips on how do do a pitch properly. I've taken a couple of courses on writing for magazines and certainly done a fair amount of reading about, but nothing was as detailed as this hour and a half.

And then came question time.

Do you ever have the feeling you may be the smartest person in the room? Many of the people in my circles are very smart. We have surrounded ourselves with friends who are incredibly smart; some of them know it and others are oblivious to it, but they are smart. So I was singularly unprepared to sit in a room of people who identify themselves as writers and hear the questions that they asked. It felt a bit like a showing of the worst of these people.

Can I fax you a copy of my previous work, because the one I have scanned is a bad scan. (Umm, either scan it again yourself or get someone to scan it.)

I've written a load of books and wondered if I can make a relationship with an editor without sending in pitches. (Hey guy, do you know that this makes you sound lazy? And yeah, the answer is not unless you already know an editor. Do the work!)

What if I have another idea when I am researching and writing an article for a magazine. (Getting new ideas is the lifeblood of writing. Be happy. But don't repeat the research and quotes in another article. No one wants repeats. No matter how much you rephrase that question!)

How can I negotiate rates? (Seriously? Most of the people in this audience are here because they want to learn how to pitch effectively, which means that they don't have much experience. Without the experience, you say "Thank you so much for this money for my work. Can I pitch something else and do more work for you." As you get better and known for providing good work, you will get better pay or be able to negotiate better pay. Oh yeah, and knowing your audience is a good start when writing, as well as when speaking.)

I loved the editors and was not a fan of the audience, but boy did I feel like I was one of the smartest people in that room. I did leave full of ideas and potential angles to approach magazines. I do wish I'd had a smart question or two to ask though. However, sometimes it is smart to just sit and listen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elevators and Parking Spaces

I've been having a few different dreams lately that involve elevators and parking spaces. I am often riding up and down the elevators, aimlessly searching for someone or something. It's all done calmly, but I never do find the who or what I am looking for. Eventually, I stop riding the elevators and start looking for the parking spaces. And those parking spaces are never in the right order. I am looking for a certain numbered space and it is just not where I thought it would be.

I only realized this morning that I keep having these dreams.

Hmmph. It's not even something that would take a rocket scientist to figure out either. Apparently I am seeking something. And since I am tired of dreaming this, I'll be sure to let you know when I find whatever it is I am looking for.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sneaking Out

We are now just wallowing in the whole hand, foot, and mouth disease fiasco. Liam is almost better. Xander has yet to fall prey to it. And Ray and I both have it. And yes, despite the promises of well-known medical websites (and our doctor), you can in fact get the whole thing as an adult. My mouth and Ray's mouth and fingers beg to differ with the "adults may get flu symptoms, but are unlikely to get any blistering". But we're special that way!

I'm sick, but also restless. The boys are restless. Today we kept our germs on our property and did some yard work. Breathing on NO ONE. But yesterday, we snuck out and enjoyed the full glory of a Thanksgiving weekend in Ontario.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Yeah, Sharing CAN be a Bad Idea

This morning our two munchkins were all but dangling from the ceiling fans. All day yesterday, Xander kept begging every 30-60 minutes to go outside. He said, "I'm all cramped up inside." Fair enough, but Ray was working, I still had a fever, and Liam was still quite sick.

This morning, Liam woke up and began to eat everything he could get his hands on. The blisters on his feet are not gone, but the ones on his hands have vanished. Not sure about the ones in his mouth (he was not forthcoming about that). Fevers had dropped for me and Liam. Last night we thought Xander was getting one, but he was fine this morning.

So we had kids who were crazed and adults who were feeling the cabin fever too. We were all shack whacky! Add that it was the most beautiful fall day too, and we decided to risk going out for a bit.

The kids played in our front yard and then with the kids across the street (who have parents who know we are all sick). Then we went in search of a place to buy fresh apples and pumpkins. Ended up going for a beautiful drive up the Niagara Escarpment and then stopping at a farm market place.

Thankfully, due to the long weekend and other factors, there were only a few other families there. We had a snack together, took a tractor/wagon ride and then went through a corn maze, and then played in the sandbox and on the hay maze. Not long before we left, I asked Ray to look at my tongue, which was really hurting.

So much for "if adults get hand, foot, and mouth disease, they get flu symptoms, but not the blisters". Yeah, the underside of my tongue and back of my throat beg to differ.

Sharing with Liam was a really, really bad idea. Apparently an afternoon out was also a bad idea. Thankfully it was only a few people and we didn't come into close contact with anyone. Hopefully I didn't just spread this one all over Ontario.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

When Sharing is Not a Good Idea

On Tuesday morning after swimming, Xander and I went for a few groceries. He behaved really nicely and we choose yogurt popsicles as a treat. After lunch Liam and Xander both ate them. Liam is a bit slow and the yogurt was getting all over, so I helped him. I took a big lick and he took a big lick. In fact, I was teaching him how to put the end of it all in his mouth at once, so I put it in my mouth and then he would put it in his mouth.

And Wednesday morning Liam woke up with a huge fever and lesions in his mouth. He now has them on his hands and feet too.

Yup, that's right: Liam has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease.

Fun times in our house!

What do you think my chances of catching it are?