Dreaming, reading, writing: my nature as an escapist

With the edits on the proof of Crystal and Wand finally in the hands of my awesome publisher (YAY! Release coming SOON SOON SOON I promise!), I am finding myself a little adrift. The creepy dollhouse story aside, there are any number of other ideas that I could look at as well — most of them being on my harddrive, which I’m still waiting to get back from the repair guy (long story short: don’t let your bearded dragon poop on your computer!).  Plus my list of other things to do. Household organization (and reorganization), parenting, bill paying, gardening, and the like. You know. Grown-up stuff.  The trouble is I’m an escapist. I just want to read. I finally read a book for myself, for the first time in months, just yesterday (still need to write up a review for you), in the space of four quiet hours. Normally, you see, I skim around my favourite blogs and hubs, reading nonfiction, informational, quirky or human-interest stories, finding out what’s going on in the world and learning about stuff in general. I like doing that, too. But because I tend to get interrupted often, I rarely get the luxury of sinking into a lovely drawn-out fiction. It now feels a bit decadent to devote a whole afternoon to a book, although let’s face it — if it’s not a book, it’s article after article after article through io9.com or Gawker. Or Buzzfeed. Usually brought to my attention via Facebook.   

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If I’m not reading SOMETHING, then the other temptation I face is to go sleep for a while. I love dreaming, even when it’s got the annoying element of being in a car that brakes too slowly, almost drives off a cliff into a river, or I discover it’s driverless and I’m having to take the wheel and find the pedals by contorting myself from the passenger side or the backseat. The problem is that sleeping too much is unhealthy, and is rather too escapist. Plus, I always forget to write the damned dreams down so that activity becomes pretty unfruitful, except for the temporary enjoyment.

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Anyway, maybe I’ll keep on with the creepy dollhouse, see where it takes me — there are an awful lot of what-ifs in my head. Maybe I’ll do a light-and-dark concept, with a romantic / fluffy piece to counter the dark / freaky thing that feels like it’s coming. There will either be evil, vengeful Wee Folk or ghosts. Hey, my imagination says, Why not both? 

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And in the meantime, stuff to do. I was feeling a bit bad again today, thinking I hadn’t been productive enough, but when I was chatting with my friend David and related that I’d taken Bridget to her doctor’s appointment, made a few needed phone calls, helped her learn / practice some math skills by letting her budget some money sent to her by my great-aunt so she could buy some crafty things at the dollar store and pay for them herself (sincere apologies to the nice lady behind us at the till who just wanted to pay for her iced tea and leave but was held up by Bridget’s anxious confusion between the value of a loonie and the value of a toonie in counting out seven dollars and ninety-six cents — we thank you for your patience!), took her on a walk to the school she’ll be going to for grades four through six, with Elizabeth on her leash clinging to my chest (tomorrow we take Skittles on the journey), and attended Jack’s soccer game after supper. He pointed out to me (bless you, Dave!) that in fact I did have a productive day and it was okay to feel tired. I am NOT Wonder Woman or Mary Poppins or a Time Lord. (Maybe that should be my mantra?) I can only do what I can do. All the wonderful things I envision happening in a musical montage of whirlwind cleaning, sorting, training (hey, both kids have done their laundry this week AND done a few dishes!) are just not humanly possible.

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Although . . . Wonder Woman, Mary Poppins, Time Lord — that’d be one helluva cosplay mashup, now wouldn’t it? And isn’t Mary Poppins really Gallifreyan ANYWAY???

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Yeah, Moffat’s all over that one.

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I want to sigh, and yet I can see the possibilities there  . . . and so off I go, finding yet another fun way to dream, avoid the chores (they’re always there anyway), because if it’s not reading or writing, it’s designing and crafting.

Good thing I’m not a maniacal villain determined to take over the world, now, isn’t it? Take ON the world, on the other hand . . .

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I need chocolate.

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A leap forward in making use of time

I broke my Saturday pattern today! Didn’t quite shatter it, but made a significant improvement in my usual list of activities, and without having to leave town to do it. Here’s what I did:

  • weeded the front garden
  • sorted three piles of mail
  • organized the vestibule
  • had two naps
  • took the dog and the daughter for a walk to buy garbage bags
  • put away the winter extension cords

There were quite a few other things I wanted to get done, but I count it as a victory that I didn’t sleep half or most of my day away. It helped that my son had to go to a karate workshop at 10 am, so I had to get up at a reasonable time to get him moving, too. And that the sun came out at 11 am, warming it up enough outside to be comfortable. 

I’m always so torn, at this time of year, between being outside as much as possible and using the sunlight to fuel spring cleaning on the inside. There isn’t enough time for both. I want my house to be aesthetically pleasing, as well as clean and organized, but that’s a losing battle. The outside is much easier to manage. It’s just dirt, weeds, and whatever useful plants I put in the ground. And dog poop, but I can handle that. On the inside, there’s the piles of laundry that never seem to end, the stacks of mail that ought to be sorted and filed (I’m sharing that blame with the hubby, because he’s just as bad as I am with opening and filing envelopes. I don’t open his correspondance, and he doesn’t open mine, so between the two of us, there’s a healthy pile of paper to manage!), and all the other stuff that adds up to clutter. 

The good news, though, is that my Bridget is getting better at helping out! She cleaned up her crafting mess this afternoon, without having to be told a second time, and she started cleaning her room (with the help, and perhaps urging, of her little friend Jason). And I have a promise from Jack to sort and fold ALL of the laundry this weekend for some spending money for his upcoming grade 8 trip to Toronto. I also surprised the heck out of myself on Friday evening by vaccuming the couch and finally putting the cushion covers back on — although I can’t find one of them in the laundry pile . . . Remember what I said about the losing battle, though? It’s not just the two-legged family members who are responsible for that. I found a bag of cookies (hard as a rock) and a bag of mashed-up hamburger buns in the couch, and the next morning, when I started on the love seat, I found a — wait for it — stick of butter buried between the cushion and the arm. And it’s not the first time Skittles has buried butter in the couch! But, still, we are making progress — Jack is helping out by cleaning up whatever mess the dog has made when he gets home, though I still have to ask him to do so 75% of the time. Baby steps, right?

Tomorrow, I have a meeting at 12 that will last most of the afternoon. My mission is to get more cleaning done inside and weed another patch of garden. Plus I have my marking, and I have to wrap up the edits / proofreading that are taking me far too long on Crystal and Wand — that latter has been a real struggle to complete. Doesn’t help that I’ve had more days lately where I can’t sit or stand comfortably for more than a few minutes, but the regular visits to the chiropractor are helping with that, little by little. I used a chair to help me with the weeding today, but I found that I couldn’t do much more than 20 minutes without pain. It’s hard to focus on certain things when you’re hurting. For my friends with chronic pain isues — I know I don’t have it as badly as you do, but over the last month or two, my understanding has definitely increased. 

So, goals are set and I will work on being easier on myself for not getting all things accomplished. I feel like I should be some kind of Super Woman, and it’s hard to accept that I am not. Would be much easier to be resolved either way, though.

Just an ordinary day

So my day went completely differently than I’d expected: no classes! The buses were cancelled due to the weather conditions — in our case, the extreme cold. I was fortunate that my car started on the second try. This isn’t unusual for the time of year, but it’s a pain in the neck.

I have decided to keep the heat in our little house at 67 F at night at this point, because if I turn it down to 65 it just takes way too long to warm up the main rooms. When it’s -30 or lower, it’s a real struggle to keep that cold at bay. I’m really hoping that we can retrofit with good insulation and siding this summer. Anyway, when I woke up at 6 am, first I heard the news about the cold day and then I wondered whether our Beard was all right. I went to check on her and the thermometer in her vivarium was barely registering. I got her out right away and held her in my pyjamas while I put her heaters on full blast, and ended up taking her back to my bed for a bit to cuddle. The good news is that she’s fine and her tank warmed up nicely with her basking light and the extra space heater we have available. The bad news is that the front wall of the tank sustained a low-sitting chip when it was moved to our house, and now a fresh crack has grown vertically and horizontally across the main glass wall of her home.

(What I really want to do — shifty-eyed look at hubby — is up-cycle our big vintage glass-front cabinet. With the addition of lighting (drill holes for basking light and UV), it would be easy to convert even one of the shelf spaces into a new vivarium for her. It would be even more epic to convert the whole thing into a three-level Beardie paradise! The struggle is figuring out what to do with his collection of knick knacks and pictures and whatnot that’s currently in there . . . )

So with Elizabeth warmed and provided with food, I continued my morning with my own breakfast and making sure the kids were fed also. Lucky brats didn’t have to go out into the cold at all! Gave the car a good half-hour to warm up before I attempted to drive it, picked up my coffee, and got to work on time. It was a productive day, for the most part. Dare I say that it would have been more productive without the addition of meetings? Hmmm . . . At the end of the day, I had a few more exams marked, two posters made and put up in my room (updated Classroom Procedures and Restorative Questions), and notices posted on my class website about late penalties and rules about tardiness to class. It was tempting to stay longer and try to get more done, but I was wilting even after a second coffee. Got home and crashed for two hours. Since rousing myself from my comfy bed, I’ve given my nearly-14-year-old a heat start on his room by stacking his bed with the stuff that was on his floor so he can have a clear path to putting his clothes away, and given Elizabeth a bath, and given Skittles some lovings (she did NOT like having to pee in -50 C windchill this morning!). Now I’m enjoying lizard snuggles while encouraging the teenager to keep going in his room; the 9-year-old is singing to herself while she plays with her dollhouse upstairs, having brought down her own laundry after much nagging, and I’m writing this blog.

I honestly wish that I didn’t have to sleep or eat, sometimes. As much as I enjoy dreaming about stuff like space zombies chasing me from planet to planet, I could get so much more done if I didn’t have to stop to rest. And it seems as though life revolves around food: the obtaining, preparing, consuming, and cleaning up of food. I feel like our house — or, at least, our family room — should have the kitchen at the centre because it would be easier to keep it tidy and clean without having to leave the presence of the kids, who seem to want attention the moment I leave their sides or have to answer the phone. There is nothing more irritating than doing dishes with a child hovering by one’s legs or elbows, especially if they refuse to help with cleaning while they’re standing there . . .

On the other hand, sometimes (when I’m not tired), working alone in the kitchen can be a bit relaxing or therapeutic. I put my music on (and then child or spouse appears and I have to turn it down so I can hear what they want to tell me), light some candles or scented melting wax (child or spouse reappears and comments on the smell — usually negatively), make progress on clearing counters and laundry space (it’s amazing how tired one’s arms and upper back becomes when folding laundry) . . . If I could be let alone to putter, I think I could get a lot done. But that’s a big “if”. And I can’t stand the hurt in a loved one’s eyes if I have to tell them, even nicely, to back off and leave me in peace for a bit.

But, still, it’s progress from the days when my daughter used to stand at my knees and wail at me to pick her up while I washed dishes. She still likes to jump onto a pile of freshly folded and sorted laundry. Every little step is a victory, right?

So tomorrow will be the start of Second Semester, Take II. Should be good.

Wanted: Mary Poppins and a House Elf

Preparation for second semester continued today. I’m not done my exam marking, so I brought the remainder of the exams home with me in the hopes of getting them done. I did manage to get ahead on a few things for Monday, though:

  • Revised and copied course outlines for my three classes
  • Rearranged my classroom, organizing the desks into groupings of 5 (with one grouping of 3), borrowing an idea from Ally, a friend and colleague who tried it last semester
  • Adopting old couches and easy chairs from my department head, who no longer needs/wants them, creating a comfy reading lounge / writer’s den in my classroom — something I wanted to do a decade ago but lacked the necessary resources (a truck) or energy to make happen on my own
  • Cleaned off my desk
  • Marked one set of exams
  • Copied readings for Professional Learning Team’s in-class project on literacy
  • Took down old posters of student work from last semester

Here’s my to-do list, for work anyway:

  • Lesson materials and handouts on active listening, mindfulness, note-taking, annotations (content for first few weeks)
  • Revise my poster on classroom expectations
  • Make a poster with Restorative Questions
  • Construct prompt cards for desk groupings — I want to have reminders on MLA, brainstorming techniques, the writing process, and note-taking on each set of desks
  • Bring up novels for grade 9s (Cue for Treason) — we’re waiting on the shipment of the novels for grade 11 (Yes Man)
  • Sketch a loose outline of lessons for the first two weeks. I have learned through bitter experience that it’s better to overplan but also to be prepared for the students’ needs to be vastly different than expected.

As my friend and fellow teacher Kim pointed out, it’s like this every year. We always think or hope we’ll have enough time for the turnaround but it’s never sufficient. I try to power through but without frequent breaks I lose focus. And yet with frequent breaks I feel like I’m churning my wheels in a rut of loose, chewed-up snow, getting inches forward and then having to slide back in order to find momentum to get moving. Among the pressures and anxieties of having things ready to go on Monday morning, starting off the new classes with an effective tone and set of expectations, I know I’ll be deluged by grade 12 students who want to know how they did overall, whether they passed or failed, and in either case, what their final marks are.

Meanwhile, life continues at home, too. My daughter’s skating lesson is cancelled tomorrow due to competitions, so there’s a bit of a break at least, and then there’s skiing lesson in the afternoon. It’s going to be cold tomorrow, too. Well, as cold as it was today, which was substantially colder than yesterday — positively balmy, it was, at only -8 C. I want to step up the family’s cleaning efforts by adding a visible allowance to motivate the 9 year old. I calculated today that if I give her $0.25 per chore — daily and weekly — she could earn up to $10 a week. I am thinking of getting it in quarters and putting it in a clear jar so she can see it. Then, every time she is scheduled to do a chore but doesn’t do it, she loses a quarter. I take it away while she watches. At the end of the week, she gets to keep — and spend — whatever is left over. I got the idea from a Berenstein Bears story, in which Sister Bear is given a handful of dimes as incentive to avoid chewing her nails: every time Sister chews, she loses a dime for that week.

So there’s that. In addition to trying to jumpstart collaborative cleaning and going skiing, marking exams and setting up my lessons for the first week, I’ve got a board meeting for the local theatre’s revitalization project on Sunday afternoon, Elizabeth needs to be bathed, the dog needs walking, laundry (no, wait, those last two things are chores I need to delegate to the kids), and we need to start prepping for the teenager’s birthday party and sleepover next weekend.

And then sleeping. I would like a nice, long, uninterrupted sleep without weird dreams, if possible. Last night I dreamed I was performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream but I was Falstaff, and I had taken the role very last minute so I was struggling with the lines and I was worried about making a bad impression and never being cast again, but having a good time nonetheless. We were onstage in the old theatre, and suddenly there was a flood of people walking through, carrying chairs and tables and filing boxes and things — as though their work day had ended and they had no other choice but to interrupt the performance to get all of their stuff put away. They seemed apologetic about it. I was torn between trying to sneak peeks at the script on my smart phone and looking at the book in my hand. There was a difference, too, in the interpretation of the character: on the one hand, he was supposed to be a clown, the comic relief, and he (I) was using a sock puppet as a foil. On the other, the stage directions in the book I’d found indicated a much more painful back story — each line he spoke was layered in subtext about loss, heartbreak, frustration, and misunderstanding. I wanted to perform the part with the second interpretation, but how to change up the direction in the middle of the show?

Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to deal with all of this if we had relatives closer than an hour and a half away. But then again my mum and dad managed with my brother and I, and we never lived in the same town or city as our relations — I think the closest we ever lived to an aunt and uncle or grandparent was 45 minutes. But then again, it is much, much easier than when the kids were younger. And I’m grateful that they’re healthy and intelligent, that we have easy access to clean water and food in our cupboards, heat and light, that we can walk about without fear of landmines or being questioned about our papers. In the big picture, I have nothing to complain about, really, so I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

But I feel what I feel. I do good work at school, but I’m constantly aggrieved by the state of my house and my inability to get my kids to participate in the housecleaning. It’s at the point where if I start to clean, my daughter asks, “Who’s coming over?”, and that’s not right. We’re back to that question of how to get a stubborn 9 year old to do what you need her to do, particularly when one’s own energy levels are low after a day of getting stubborn teenagers to do what they need to do.

Chore Wars: Take II . . . GAME ON!

I showed my son the Chore Wars site tonight, and he got all excited about it, so I guess we’re back on it! (Also, when I originally set up the account it was back in September, so it’s only been . . .  erm . . . six months or so since I last looked at it . . . So long, that I couldn’t remember what password my daughter had picked or even if I had done it for her, so I had to go through the rigamarole of resetting it for her, but I put the website on the home screen of the iPad and set the password on that. Ideally, she can go in on the iPad on her own every day and update her “adventure”.

The challenge now is to come up with a value for the virtual gold they might earn, or prizes for levelling up.

You see, neither of my children is particularly bribe-able. And believe me, I’m one to use incentives where I can, as advance positive-reinforcement. If something sweetens the pot a little, then swallowing some unpleasantness can be worth it. But my kids see right through the plan, particularly the 9 year old. If she doesn’t want to do something, then unless you threaten to empty her room of toys and books and games and everything fun, and also raise the voice somewhat, she won’t budge. So I’m not sure how she’s going to respond to Chore Wars, but there is a glimmer of hope: she is starting to understand the real value of money.

The other day, for example, as I was cleaning the living room, I found a couple of Canadian Tire “dollars” and she asked if she could have them for her wallet. I said, “Sure,” — because really, we have more than enough floating around at the moment, and hubby wasn’t home to claim them — and she got busy counting. (YAY MATH!) She was very pleased to have a whole FIFTEEN cents, at least until her brother reminded her that .15 basically buys you nothing in Canada, unless you can actually find an old-school penny candy store, and even in those, a single gummy or Swedish berry is going to be like .05 each. Mmm, three candies.

Sidebar: I remember when (showing my age here) my mom would give me some bottles to take back to the corner store, and I’d get to keep the change. I’d buy a chocolate bar and an Archie comic, or maybe some baggies of assorted candy and a True Story magazine, or maybe a small bottled Coke and a Tales from the Crypt comic, or maybe a pouch of shredded bubble gum and a Seventeen, and then my friends and I would meet up in the park or one of their bedrooms or the rec room or the beach and munch away, reading our comics / magazines / what-have-you . . . One time, I bought a Pep chocolate mint disc, and there was a whole extra half-disc inside! It was like finding treasure, I tell you!

So if I create some kind of exchange rate, or even value the “gold” at some currency we already use, that could be doable, but how do I feel about paying kids for chores that I don’t even get paid to do? We don’t give our children allowances, but when they need or want money for something important, like school milks or pizza day, or for a treat like poutine for a snack, freezies in the summer, or fresh craft materials at the dollar store — and if they’ve earned it by helping out in some way — then generally they receive what they need. And they don’t ask for more than that, I find. They neither request nor expect money on a regular basis, but nor do they jump into doing chores. And we their parents, feeling overwhelmed by working full time outside the house and the clutter generated by four sentient beings sharing a not-large space, we do the bare minimum and we get by, but with frustration and repeated vows or sweeping declarations to do better, without actually doing better.

No more, I say!

So how much might an average North American child earn for a chore? At one time, when my son was 9, I started to train him in running five blocks down to the video store to return a movie and pick one out for himself. I added in a few other simple tasks, and put their values as change, and very quickly, I found myself having to write down IOUs because he’d run me out of all of my coinage. That system was working through the summer until school started and I had to refocus my energy — I couldn’t keep track anymore, and with the changing demand on my income, I couldn’t afford to pay the kid! So I’d rather not get in that kind of situation again.

At the same time, I want the kids to apply the satisfaction of having done the work well, to aim for being proud of the cleaning and contribution. I’ve seen them do this, but it’s not regular, even with positive reinforcements and offers of rewards. With my daughter, I tried making chores lists connect to puzzle pieces, and every time she did a chore, she’d get the piece for her puzzle. When the puzzle was complete, she’d get the game or treat or whatever I’d written on the back. I learned that she’s very sneaky and cunning when she wants to be — she found the bag of puzzle pieces and was cheating at the game! With both kids, I’ve helped them clean their rooms or even done it for them just to give them a clean slate. But I recognize that I can’t be doing that anymore. I will give them a head start, but then it must be up to them to keep it going. And maybe Chore Wars will help.

But back to that money thing . . . The other part is that we already have plans to return to FanExpo in September of this year, and they’re going to want to bring their own spending money for that. If they’re earning money at home, it’s a good opportunity to learn about saving, delayed gratification, and banking practices. But I don’t want it to become exorbitantly expensive, either. Maybe I should just say each “gold piece” is worth $.01 and be done with it? If so, then for dusting, making a bed, and doing laundry, I would have earned a grand total of $.37. But with Chore Wars, I also get those coveted Experience Points. (Hey, actually, right now I have 102 gold pieces, and 136 XP!)

See, now I’m getting excited just over that stuff. So maybe actual, physical money doesn’t matter. Or maybe there should be a payout at the end of 30 days, in coin only, to make them see and touch the physical fruits of the labour, and practice those accounting skills. I can see Bridget getting excited over a little pile of shiny coins, but Jack? Hmm . . .

I’m overthinking it, I know. I tend to do that. But if I’m going to invest the time and energy into making this system work — into motivating my family and helping our household operate more effectively, then I want to see all possible reactions and have a response for them. I like having contingency plans for worst-case scenarios. I expect the worst but want the best. That way, if it falls apart, maybe I won’t be as let down as if I had put all of my hopes and dreams into a warm fuzzy ideal.

I’ve done the cranky-mom thing in order to push kids to get things done, and nobody likes it, its effectiveness is questionable, and I don’t like who I am when that happens. I have to be grumpy enough in the classroom in order to convince, cajole, guide, press, lead, model, and inspire kids — when I get home, my energy for that routine is just about gone. So Chore Wars, I really hope that this will work for us. And within a reasonably quick passage of time.

The Queen of Procrastination

That’s what I used to call myself, years ago in high school. Not much has changed. The trouble is that every option seems to be as important and I feel stuck, unable to decide what to do.

At this moment, my options include:
-doing the dishes
-shovelling out the car, which is bottomed out in the driveway (but hubby said he’d do it when he gets home)
-doing my marking (a task which feels impossibly overwhelming but I know will likely not be once I get going on it)
-making lunch
-folding laundry
-adding a section to Blood and Fire so I can send it back, edits complete

I hate feeling torn between tasks. But having written them down, I already know that dishes will come first. Why? Because I’m hungry, and the kids are as well (we all slept in and our schedules are off), and it’s the easiest way to feel accomplished. Little steps, right? After that, I’ll put some bread on to bake, and then mark one folder. Then do some writing. I will try to do a little bit at a time to get through.

Wish me luck! It’s not just the ground that’s frozen outside — sometimes, it’s my motivation, too.

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Three steps forward, one step back…and Ostara around the corner!

I promised an update! Here’s how my break has been going so far:

-Haven’t had daily walks — I blame the weather. Yeah, it’s a cheap excuse, but it’s snowing again, third day in a row.

Welcome to March Break in Northeastern Ontario!

Welcome to March Break in Northeastern Ontario!

I did manage to take the kids to the pool but it wasn’t great fun once my daughter started crying because she missed her grandmother. (Hope my parents are enjoying their cruise! According to their itinerary, they should be in Aruba right about now…)

-Have improved my egg boiling skills, thanks to advice from Tara Fox Hall! Now they are both edible AND tasty!

-Have made cupcakes with my lovely daughter, and both children had fun decorating them.

It was a drizzly-wet snow, cloudy, cold day -- perfect for cupcakes!

It was a drizzly-wet snow, cloudy, cold day — perfect for cupcakes!

(I think I may have eaten the bulk of them… *bites lip)

-Have cleaned my living room, my dining table is visible at last, and while I haven’t gotten to folding my laundry yet, it’s almost all clean.

The trouble I am having is with maintenance — keeping up with the order and organization once it’s all done. My daughter can destroy a room in 10 minutes or less. But we’re all improving on working together to clean and keep things clean, so that’s something.

It’s occurred to me, too, that Ostara is getting closer and I’ve not made any plans for celebrating it. I find it somewhat ironic to mark the equinox with springtime decorations because we’re still locked deeply in winter’s grip. That lovely warming we had last week is completely gone.

My children haven’t yet known what it’s like to hunt for Easter eggs in green grass and flower gardens, like they’ve seen on TV. They’re the opposite of children who’ve never seen real snow at Christmas. So my solution, in the past, has been to lay out trays of soil and grass seed on shelves by the window around Ostara, as well as planting potted flowers indoors and starting my seeds for outdoor planting later on in the spring. It’s actually quite lovely to hunt for eggs around an indoor garden. And since I’m getting back into boiled eggs, this year I can plan for some decorating fun in the coming weeks. Maybe we’ll focus on egg dying and colouring on Ostara, as a fun family activity. One year, I cut out a tree using brown packaging paper and taped it to the window, so we could hang little decorated paper eggs from it. I probably should have taken a picture of it…

But that was before we had our lovely pooch who likes to stand at the window when we’re not home…

Sometimes, passersby have wondered if Skittles is even a real animal, or just a stuffed dog!

Sometimes, passersby have wondered if Skittles is even a real animal, or just a stuffed dog!

If we tried the same decorating now, it would get wrecked in a day.

I would definitely like to start adding springtime decorations to the rest of the house, once I get my long list of chores caught up. If the house can stay clean, that is. I don’t think I used any of my Easter things last year. Maybe even bring in a likely branch to make an Ostara tree in a pot.

Reminds me also that Beltane is six weeks away. Typically, we still have snow on the ground by then, although the temperature will be much warmer. Ah, the challenges of being Pagan in the north…

So, my goals for this evening therefore include:
-finish cleaning off the dining table
-wash the floors
-sort the laundry to assist my children in folding and putting away their stuff
-editing at least two chapters of my novel, Wind and Shadow (come on, April!)
-marking journals for my Drama class

Feels like a roulette wheel is spinning with my choices marked on it. What will I accomplish? Stay tuned!

And… Enjoy some cupcakes!

Decorated by my 12 year old -- tasty good!

Decorated by my 12 year old — tasty good!

Cupcakes by my 7 year old -- tooth-achingly good!

Cupcakes by my 7 year old — tooth-achingly good!