So it’s Sunday night — last so many hours of March Break — and guess what I’m doing?

Yeah. If you guessed marking school work, you know me pretty well. As my son told me, I’m not a terrible procrastinator, I’m a great procrastinator because I’m so good at putting things off.


The good news is that I feel fairly rested and ready to take on the work week. The bad news is that I kind of wish I could spend the next few days focusing my newfound energies on my home. That great long list I’d made for myself at the start of the break? Didn’t do it. All the skiing I anticipated? Didn’t happen. The laundry folding, floor washing, paper organizing, marking and editing frenzy throughout the bonus seven days of free time?

I could blame it on the cough that lingered through most of the break and made my waking hours difficult. But the simple fact is that I’m lazy when I don’t have a deadline. I do much better with routine. What I need to get better at is setting and following my own routines.

That, and turning off the TV. We binge-watched The 100 today and yesterday, reviewing season 1 and getting halfway through season 2, with little intermissions of 3rd Rock for comic relief. I really, really enjoy The 100 — so much food for thought, and we do a lot of talking about character motivations, science, and philosophy while we’re watching. I’d love to read or write some fan fiction (if it exists) about the lives of the Grounders and the Mountain Men before the Sky People landed and skewed the world just a little more. And I’d love to watch the show with a few more adults and some shot glasses — the writers love the term “my people” so much, it really ought to be a drinking game.

So there’s that. My addiction to the boob tube, time suckage at its finest. I’ve toyed with doing away with the television completely, but we’d have to get rid of all of our DVDs and Blu-Rays as well, plus slapping an elastic on my wrist every time I felt tempted to put on Netflix or do a little surfing through YouTube.

I just want to be entertained.

And the funny part is that I suspect even without the TV, movies, and Netflix, I still would seek out the escape of fiction because I’d be reading. I don’t read nearly as often as I used to, in part because I get really into the book I’m reading and therefore I become very pissed off when my child or spouse pulls me away from it. Come to think of it, I get peeved in the same way when I get interrupted in my cleaning. So either I need to cultivate patience, or they need to learn to leave Mommy alone when she’s in a groove.

That’s another reason why I’m throwing myself into the marking tonight. Doing it at home with distractions is hella frustrating. The lack of proper desk space and lighting, constant noise (except late at night, and even then — or right now — I’m listening to my teenager gaming away on his Xbox) — it’s far easier to be productive at the school. But the thought of going up to the classroom last week put knots in my shoulders and gave me bad dreams. So I stayed home and promised myself every day that I’d get to the marking, knowing full well that I was telling myself dirty lies and that this was the inevitable result.

Self-fullfilling prophecy?

I’m punishing myself for being lazy. For misusing the gift of time. For sleeping when I ought to have been working. For knitting when I should have had pen in hand. I have to do penance in some way for putting off the work that had to be done. Mary Poppins glares at me from the back of my head. So does my own mother.

So. There’s my twenty-minute break between marking stories that should have been handed back a month ago. I’m diving in again, hoping to surface some time before 1 am so I can get some sleep before it’s back to work tomorrow. Maybe by March Break next year I’ll have learned my lesson.

Wednesday rage-quit, Thursday road-trip, Friday panic

I rage-quit (or, as my friend Chris suggested, depurlitated) my knitting again this afternoon and had an angry nap in retaliation. At least I know now how I was screwing it up, though: at some point after six or nine rows, I ended up purling twice and doing the feather pattern on the reverse side. Maddening, I tell you! But I’ve invested two months into this damned scarf, bought extra yarn, and I’m determined to get it right! So in a bit, I’ll throw on Castle or 3rd Rock from the Sun (we’ve been binge-watching since it was added to Netflix this week — yippee!!) or maybe even Chuck, but not Lost Girl because I’ll get too distracted, and start over again from the hem. I’m thinking of adding sequins or buttons or beading (whatever I have laying around, essentially), to help myself keep track of the rows. 

I’m sending off my MacBook to a reliable repairperson I found online, in province, tomorrow. Cross your fingers that he’s able to work some technical magic for me, and that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The last time I killed my computer, the repair shop in town was able to save the harddrive and I restored my files in the new machine, and I somehow sense that the same thing is goign to happen this time. It may be that the cost of fixing will be prohibitive. I’m not overly anxious to buy another MacBook, simply because of the expense, but I really don’t want to go back to PC — I’m an Apple convert (to some of my students’ dispair). And, apparently, where some people wreck cars over and over, I do the same thing to my computers. But I promise to be more careful from now on. I swear on my life that I will use a keyboard protector, no matter how ugly it is, and I won’t let animals frolic on my keyboard. Girl Guides’ honour! 

I mean, do you have any idea (and I’m fully aware that this is a #firstworldproblem) how difficult it is to edit a long body of work on an iPad? I know I could get used to is — and I may have to, for a while — but I may have to consume copious amounts of chocolate and wine as a coping mechanism. 

Trip to Timmins tomorrow. I was able to get my kids their appointments at the orthodontist this week after all, so after I send off my computer, entrusting it to Canada Post’s express shipping, we’ll go and do that, hopefully timing it right so we can also see Cinderella. And then the ski hill has night-skiing tomorrow from 5-9 pm. I do hope we can do all of these things. Today was a beautiful, sunny, cold day — it would have been perfect for skiing, yet we stayed indoors, partly because of my stupid perpetual cough and congestion. Definitely trying for some swish-swish-swish tomorrow. 

And then Friday will come, and I’ll have to dive back into my marking. My edits. The laundry. Vacation is nearly over. Sometimes it feels like it didn’t start at all, because I was constantly looking toward the end of it, waiting for it to end. Self-sabotage. 

Also, good news: I have my edits!

The edits for Crystal and Wand: Book Three of the Talbot Trilogy are now in my hot little hands (metaphorically speaking; I have rather mannishly-large hands, and the edits are in my iPad since I can’t use my computer, but that’s neither here nor there — I have them!), so hooray! Work on that can also continue apace. I did not accomplish any school marking today, but I did empty my voicemail and do some shopping. Also got Bridget a new type of hairbrush to help her with detangling (it works), and helped her to make progress on her doll’s dress (please let her take more interest in it tomorrow). Hoping to be more productive tomorrow. I’ve thought about staying up late to clean, but I think it’s better if I try to get back into a regular, less Bohemian sleep pattern. Plus, I’m still wrestling with this stupid cold bug and the cough that won’t quit. So there’s that.

Spring Break is upon me . . . 

As always, my list of things-to-do is easier to visualize than it is to carry out. Cleaning happens far more effectively in my head than in reality. I have a bag full of marking, a house full of clutter, dog hair, and a mountain of laundry. 

But it’s spring break! It’s nearly warm enough to throw the windows open and air the house out! The ski hill has special hours, and Cinderella is playing at the movie theatre in Timmins. Laser tag beckons! Sewing projects that need finishing . . . swag needs ordering . . . bills paying . . . packages to mail and phone calls to make . . . Really, the only difference between a regular work week and this one is that I don’t have to stand up in front of groups of teenagers three times a day and get them to do learning tasks. I only have to deal with one and a half — my own son and daughter.

I could make a long list of priorities, but I know what needs to be done. Sometimes those lists are discouraging because of the number of things that DON’T get completed. 

Here’s what I see myself accomplishing this week. Theoretically, the chore stuff should be tackled first so that a clean house can be enjoyed for the remainder of the time, but then again, all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.

Monday — medical and hair appointment phone calls, shopping for necessities (including crickets for Elizabeth), arrange for diagnostic / cleaning / repair of my MacBook — and if required, shipping it off — sweeping and mopping, finish marking Writer’s Craft stories (ooh, and all the other marking too — wouldn’t that be ideal? To get the marking out of the way?), work on something creative (snowmobile story, knitting, helping Bridget to finish her doll project — did I tell you that one of her little friends told her she should throw out the doll she made? So it doesn’t get up in the night and walk around and scare her? I reassured her, this doll won’t do any of that, because she made it herself. Silly little girls!)

I also need to see about my next tattoo (or current tattoo expansion), vacuum the couches, clean off the dining table so we can actually eat at it sometime like civilized people, look into the details of the trip to Ottawa ComicCon, plan a display at Merchant Mania, and determine how to attack promotions for my next novel, including contacting reviewers who enjoyed Book One: Wind and Shadow but who haven’t necessarily read Book Two: Blood and Fire, and who might want to look at a copy of the latter before Book Three: Crystal and Wand gets released later this spring. Part of me really wants to hire my publicist again, to save me time and energy, but my red-faced bank book is screaming at me to do it on my own so I can redirect my funds toward paying off one of my loans instead. (sigh)

Tuesday — The kids would like a trip to Timmins for laser tag and a movie (Cinderella! Dress porn, yeah!). I would also use the trip to purchase big pieces of foam so I can rebuild the cushions that Skittles has destroyed over time. Plus getting the cracked screen on my iPad repaired, seeing as I’m going to be using it for a while until my MacBook is functioning again (sob). This could also be done on Wednesday, and Tuesday could be Laundry Day.

Wednesday — The scaling of the Great Laundry Mountain! Not a pleasant task. It’s not just the strain of folding and sorting, which I find hard on my upper back and arms. Hubby has been using the deep fat fryer a lot — A LOT — lately. He’s opted to plug it in at the end of the kitchen closest to the window, although he hasn’t been actually opening the window for ventilation. Meanwhile, that’s the end of the kitchen which houses the washer/dryer, the dog’s cage, and the Great Laundry Mountain (on the dog’s cage — no, her hair doesn’t get on it). So aaaaallll of the laundry in the topmost layers of the mountain now stinks like fryer oil. This means that now I have to sniff test everything and rewash whatever stinks. As the good queen once said, “We are not amused.” (We, as in, me — apparently the man could care less. Grrrr . . .)

Thursday — Skiing! If we haven’t gone yet. What if we went skiing on Monday? Of course, the day at the hill means absolutely nothing gets accomplished at home. Either way, I’m going to end up feeling guilty and inadequate at handling all the parts of being a grown-up.

Friday — Yeah, honestly, I can’t see myself starting any projects on Friday. This will be my panic day, my dash of ice water as I realize that the break is coming to an end and I’ve only managed a quarter of what I set out to do. I should add going to the liquor store to my list on Monday. 

Saturday — More panic. I’ll have to remember to get the kids’ skates sharpened, the laundry pile will have reproduced, whatever mopping I managed will have disappeared into the ether as though it never happened, I’ll be racing to get through the marking I didn’t finish . . .

Sunday — I will sleep all day as an avoidance tactic, wake up to the horrible feeling that I’m not ready to go back to work, and play FaceBook games all night in self-loathing at not being able to complete my impossible list. Either that, or it will be the opposite: I’ll have developed a routine and be feeling great, in control and on top of the world for a fleeting space of time before the regular rounds of work and home and extracurriculars begin again, and whatever progress I’ve made slowly falls apart . . .

Spring Break, you are deceptive. You’re all, “Come here! No, go away.” Luring us in with false promises of relaxation and accomplishment; beckoning with fictions of new grass and fresh flowers, when we’re still surrounded by two feet of snow. But we love you. Because it is a BREAK, a chance to rest a bit and relax, enjoy the warming weather and slough some of the regular pressures as the pines and cedars are sloughing their blankets of white. I am just torn, as always, between doing what I think should get done — trying to meet some idealistic expectations of being a wife / mother /professional, and being realistic and accepting that I can only do so much. The problem is that with the latter, I just end up feeling lazy and not good enough. I want to be Leslie Knope and Mary Poppins and Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley, all at once. 

Story Time! I’m calling this one (temporarily) Pamela’s Spring Fever

Pamela had about an hour before she needed to be on the road. Even with the howling winter storm outside, she’d left herself a nice pocket of time before she’d have to be at the Timmins airport to catch her 9 pm flight to Toronto. Then it was a quick run down the airport to board the passenger jet, and she’d be on her way to palm trees and warm salt water. After the long, freezing winter, wallowing in extra time before she found herself sunning on the beach in Acapulco was actually quite the luxury. She tossed the last few necessities from her medicine cabinet into her makeup bag, watching lipstick, mascara, and foundation tubes arc freely through the air and land on target.

Her kit ready, she tucked it securely into the top of her suitcase. The packing list next to it on the bed had nearly every item crossed off: sandals, heels, one-piece for whenever and bikini in case she met anyone promising . . .

Pamela frowned. “Where’s my cellphone?” she muttered to herself.

Caught up in the excitement of preparing for her vacation, she hadn’t even bothered to take it out of her purse that morning. Pamela wasn’t a believer in staying connected every moment of every day: unlike some people she knew, she didn’t sleep with the thing next to her bed and she wasn’t on Facebook sharing her every meal or her daily dramas. She hadn’t even posted that she was going away for a week’s break. Who knew what immoral bastards lurked online, watching for opportunities like apartments left empty for days? Plus, she was looking forward to posting her photos online and surprising her friends and coworkers. Imagine the looks on their faces!

She wondered if she’d left the thing on her desk at school in all of the hubbub of the last day before Spring Break. It wouldn’t be the first time, but even with — she checked the clock on the stove — forty-five minutes to go, a run up to her workplace was a) a downer, and b) an irritating waste of time. Thankfully she was organized enough that the detour wouldn’t cause much of a logistics problem, but she’d have to forgo touching up her manicure.

Outside, the late winter storm drove tiny particles of snow down her collar and up her sleeves. She cursed as she hauled and wrestled her suitcase down the treacherous steps of her building. Fresh nail polish probably wouldn’t have withstood this kind of torture, anyway, even protected by leather gloves. It was so cold that the metal of her vehicle groaned piteously as she popped the trunk to load her things. Fortunately, the snow wasn’t sticking to the windshield, its layers brushing easily away, but when she finally sat in the driver’s seat, the warm air of the previous day’s driving had created a layer of frost and ice over the interior glass. She wasted another five minutes while the car warmed up, scraping a patch so she could see.

The forecast was calling for a metre of snow, at least, in what they were calling winter’s last gasp. For the first time, seeing the storm for herself, she wondered whether her flight might get cancelled. Few other vehicles were ploughing their way through the streets, and after she fishtailed around the corner, she understood why. She’d drawn the curtains as soon as she’d gotten home and into her packing, so she hadn’t really noticed the accumulation of snow or the early dusk from the thick clouds, or how rapidly the temperature had fallen. It was still going down, too — it was already unusually frigid for March, and the thermometre clicked from -27 to -28 C while she watched.

Acapulco couldn’t happen too quickly.

The school was mostly dark as she pulled up. She left the car running to keep it warm while she plodded through the drifts toward the main door. Inside the glass vestibule, the blasting heat was delightful; less so was the rapid melting of the snow in her collar into cold trickles on her skin. She tromped up the stairs to her classroom and fumbled with her keys in the dimly-lit hallway. It was a newer school, only eight years old, so it wasn’t as creepy as other buildings in which she’d worked, but the blue glow of the security lighting was a bit eerie.

But her phone was on the desk in her classroom, exactly where she’d left it. Unfortunately, it was also out of power, but she had a charger in her car. No problem.

The wind outside shifted, blowing snow against the glass. The sound was startlingly loud. Pamela dropped the phone and winced at the crack it made on the floor. Snatching it up, she rushed from the room and headed back down the corridor, willing her heart rate to slow itself down. No reason to be edgy; it’s just a storm, she told herself. She sighed in relief as she came into the bright florescent lights of the main foyer, laughing at herself for acting like a ninny. I’ve got the jitters from too much coffee and pre-vacation nerves.

It took her a moment to realize what had happened when she stepped into the vestibule again, and the lights went out.

Her reflection showed Pamela the widening of her eyes right before the streetlamp outside also failed. Her heart pounded heavily in her chest. She pressed against the exterior door, but the security locks were dependent on electricity running. Panicking, she pushed again, and again, thumping her shoulder against the latching bar. The headlights of her car turned the swirling snowflakes into frightening shadows. Pamela turned around and tried going back into the school to call for help.

The interior doors were locked, too.

Desperate, now, she looked for a fire alarm to pull, but to her dismay, she saw it inside the foyer on the other side of the glass.

Pamela turned again, leaning her back against the smooth surface of the door. Her phone was dead, possibly broken now, too. Nobody knew she was going away for a week, or that she’d come up to the school after hours during a severe winter storm, when no-one else was around. Could she break the glass with her boots, maybe? What would be the penalty for that? Was her situation really that desperate? After all, she was only going to miss her flight.

She exhaled, concentrating on calming down. Her breath appeared in a white cloud. There was no relaxing now. Ripping off a glove, Pamela held her bare hand up to the heating vent, feeling sick to her stomach.

No heat.

The wind lashed at the row of glass doors before her, rattling the panes in their frames. She walked the few steps forward toward her car and pressed her hands against the glass, ignoring the biting cold on her bare skin. In the driveway, the snow had drifted up over the fenders and was obscuring the windshield. The heaters were working — she could see that in the bare patches of the windshield — but that didn’t do her any good.

If she broke the glass, she could just lie and say that it hadn’t been her. After all, without power, there wouldn’t be any proof that she was in the building . . .

Whether it was from nerves or the rapidly cooling temperature in her little glass box, Pamela was shivering. Her decision made, she sat by the wall and considered the best point at which to kick the door or window. She thought she recalled someone saying that it was best to attack the middle, or just to the side, where the tension was most compromised. With the wall at her back for some support, she could just get at the side window.

The first kick jarred her leg all the way from ankle to hipbone. It also made zero impression on the glass.

Pamela kicked again.

She pounded the safety glass until sweat beaded on her forehead and she was sobbing for breath. But either her frame was too slight, or her boots weren’t tough enough, or she lacked whatever reserves of crazy strength she’d seen in the few students who had actually managed to break windows in the school.

Then again, she’d never actually seen a student break a window, only heard about it from other people. Sometimes it had been with fists, and sometimes with objects.

Pamela took out her cellphone and hefted it. If it was the 1980s and it resembled a brick, maybe that would work. Still, it would add to the solidness of her boots. She stuck it down into the sole under her heel, and did the same with her wallet in the left boot. The bulk was uncomfortable, but she felt renewed. Lying on her back, she wiggled until her legs were bent against the glass, and then kicked them both out together. Was that a crack, or had she imagined it? Shaking, she did it again.

But the glass held firm. She let her legs fall to the side, sobbing like a child.

Outside, the blowing and drifting snow obscured her headlights and covered the tailpipe of her idling vehicle. The engine choked out. Raising her head, Pamela registered the change in the silence. Without the grumbling background noise of her car, it was just her and the storm against her little glass cage.

Someone would have to come along, she knew. There would be custodial staff, or another teacher who needed to retrieve something from a desk. In the meantime, she had to keep warm. Sitting up and wiping the tears and snot from her face, Pamela crossed her legs, took her wallet and phone out of her boots — pausing to rub her sore feet — and dumped out her purse.

She had her plane tickets, a wad of cash money and traveller’s cheques, a package of Kleenexes, and some tampons. Pamela didn’t smoke, so no matches or lighter. She had a pack of foil-wrapped gum and some batteries that she had intended to drop in the recycling box but forgotten about. Maybe if there was some charge left in them, she could try that trick she’d seen on Orange is the New Black, and light the foil on fire.

She could MacGyver a little fire or something, right by the glass. Maybe the rapid change in temperature would be enough to make it crack?

Pamela tucked her cash and plane tickets back into her wallet and rolled the kleenex and traveller’s cheques into a little stack of paper logs. Then, holding her breath, she folded the foil with shaking fingers and pressed the ends to one of the batteries. The first didn’t work, but the second did. The foil reddened and smoked. She held it carefully to the edge of a ball of Kleenex, praying for the tissue to catch. It was smoky and the stench made her eyes water. Coughing, Pamela waved away the curls of smoke, trying to add oxygen to the smouldering paper. A few tentative flames licked the underside of her stack of pathetic kindling. She thought it was shrinking, so she leaned forward and tried blowing at it.

The strength of her breath scattered the embers and unburned bits of paper and tissue. Crying out, she grabbed at the wisps, thrusting them back toward the window, but it was too late. Whatever fire she might have had was gone. Smacking her head against the glass in her frustration, Pamela finally heard the crack she’d been waiting for. She drew back, ignoring pain in her forehead, and scrambled at the base of the window, brushing away her erstwhile fuel.

At the very bottom of the glass was a small crack, the size of a chip on a windshield.

Moving onto her side, Pamela whipped it with her right heel. She attacked it with renewed vigour, her breath hitching between every kick.

Coping with Snowbird Parents

The folks are off again, on another adventure down in sunny Florida. It’s not the first time they’ve gone walk-about — or, rather, drive-about — but for some reason it seems to get a little more stressful every time. For starters, my mother will call right before they go with a message of love and the location of their vital information, just in case. And occasionally, they’ve gone away while I’ve been in the throes of pregnancy hormones. But I’ve decided, I need to compile a list of things to do when the retirees are gone to play on holiday.

1) Itinerary — it’s lovely for the ‘rents to provide a detailed list of places and dates. Not only is it helpful for explaining to their grandchildren why Poppa and Gramma can’t call them over a lost tooth, it’s a bit of a comfort for the adult child, too. I like knowing where my mom and dad are, and what route they’re taking, especially when there’s bad weather on the news.

2) Wine. Or tea. Your comfort beverage of choice. Coupled with chocolate and deep breaths. They’re adults, they’ve looked after themselves for this long. Just because there seem to be more stories in the news of people going missing on cruises, faces being eaten off in the Panhandle, horrible traffic accidents in unseasonably snowy conditions . . . *gulps comforting beverage*

3) Engage them on social media. My mom is on the cusp of becoming comfortable with Facebook, and Dad uses it occasionally. I like being able to keep in touch with them via updates and photographs. It goes back to wanting to know they’re on track and everything is fine. Did I mention, they’re grown adults who can look after themselves?

4) Distractions in the form of favourite movies, books, little day trips, whatever takes the image of the parents travelling far from their safety zone and dumps it into a little holding tank. For me, it’s alternating between Doctor Who, How I Met Your MotherCastleLost Girl, and most recently, Sherlock (BBC). 

For all of you whose dear pre-spring (get it? ‘Cause I’m their off-spring? Or should it be on-spring? Progenitors?) are on a travel binge, I’m there with you. 

I’m not Super-Mom.

LogoColorNoTextTwo days left. Well, a day and a half, really. Time to take stock of my to-do list for March Break (

1) Laundry isn’t put away yet, though it’s all clean. I made a bit of a dent, did a little ironing, but I’m actually a bit concerned that the pile will fall on me if I start taking things from it to fold…nothing worse than clean clothes and sheets hitting the floor. Particularly as the floor is covered in dog hair. (The clean laundry sits on our dog’s cage, conveniently located next to the washer and dryer.)

2) My daughter’s room is still a complete and utter mess. I’ve asked for my hubby to tackle it this weekend.

3) I have been given a reprieve on picking up dog poop in the yard by virtue of the fact that it’s been snowing almost every day this week. I think we’ve had five hours of sunshine, total.

4) Haven’t gotten to the floors, windows, or curtains. But they have been swept and picked up, so that’s something.

5) Haven’t gotten to the bathroom, either. :-/

6) I got the typo-checking done! That felt good, accomplishing those edits.

7) I managed to read one novel — the one I was helping with typos.

8) I’m up to Chapter 6 on my edits for Wind and Shadow. Getting there, little by little… But I got a first look at cover designs! That’s exciting! I shall do a cover reveal post soon!

9) Haven’t gotten to my candle-making yet, though I keep looking wistfully at the box… I kind of want to do it when my children are out of the house or in bed. Maybe later tonight…

10) Course outlines haven’t been looked at.

11) Marking hasn’t made it out of the bag yet.

12) A few walks have been had, but between the freezing rain earlier this week, lots of snowfall, and not feeling well off and on, we haven’t gotten out of the house as often as I’d hoped.

13) I ended up going back to brunette. The hairdresser gave me a dark brown that is fairly close to my natural colour. It’s taking me a little time to get used to it, though. I really miss my blonde look with the purple/pink streak. My children are happier, but I’m not. Plus, I’m not thrilled with the cut. Oh, well, it will grow and I will fix it.

14) Tea tree oil for my dry scalp — yeah, gotta get to that…

15) 1 km a day — what was I thinking? It doesn’t help that the event I wanted to join isn’t going to happen. The Run For Your Lives zombie obstacle course race isn’t coming to Canada this year. Sadness…

16) Reducing wheat consumption — yes, I’ve been doing that. And I’m noticing improvement, though I’m still not feeling great due to some other things. I gave in yesterday, though, after an uncomfortable doctor’s appointment, and ate three muffins and two pastries over the course of the afternoon. But I’ve stopped eating peanut butter and jam on toast every morning, improved my in-take of raw veggies and protein, and cleaned out my fridge. All positive!

17) I completed my blog post for the March Madness Giveaway — my contribution is a fab Swag Bag for March 25 on Unwritten (, promoting my latest publishing: “Tabitha’s Solution” in Having My Baby (Melange Books, 2012). The only thing I’m waiting for is the swag stuff to actually arrive, and then I will take pics and post them for the giveaway, too. Something to look forward to!

18) Bad road conditions, appointments, other things coming up, including hubby’s busy work hours — we didn’t go to laser tag or to a movie. Sadness…

19) Car is still sitting in the driveway. Hubby’s made arrangements to drop it off on Monday.

20) The driveway’s been okay, with the wind helping to keep it clear. But we need to pick up some ice-melter stuff. According to the local forecast, we’re not going to see a significant change in the weather until like, mid-April.

21) Nails aren’t done. But I ground up egg shells and fed my plants, cleaned up my mini rose bush…and tried to save some of my baby flowers from dying slowly because it’s just not the right time yet. Or I’m just really bad at plants.

22) Haven’t called a shelter yet about a companion dog. But I did clear my voicemail…

23) Arts and crafts — did do a little. Taught myself and my daughter how to do French Knitting from a kit she got for Christmas!

24) Short stories — jotted down some ideas.

25) Boardgames — nope.

26) Playing in the snow — nope.

So, I’m not Super-Mom. I didn’t make it through all of my list, although I did manage to keep up with the dishes (for the most part), clean our clothes, feed the children, and read to my daughter. I helped a friend, got some rest, took care of myself. I still feel badly that I didn’t get through more of the things I wanted to do, even though I was reminded that I need give myself permission to relax. I have a hard time with that. I feel incredibly guilty about wanting to relax — like there’s always something I should be doing.

I know that a lot of people worked their regular jobs this week. My husband was one of them — and he was doing two paid jobs. I focused on my unpaid labour: parenting and housework. Those tasks took priority over everything else. As much as I would have loved to have traveled, at least I had some nice days with my children, spending time together.

I have a day and a half left to get my marking done. Finish my course outlines. Edit my book. Help my son with his homework. Sort and put the laundry away (or encourage the kids to do their own). They did help with some of the cleaning, too — sweeping, putting away, dishes…

But I wish I had more time. I feel like I’ve just started on all the things I want to complete, but when I go back to work on Monday, home things will lose their priority status, and that’s not right. I wish sometimes I could put my home tasks first, or at least, more often.

Good things I did achieve during my March Break: Started working on my passport application, wrote three poems, had excellent conversations with good friends… And took care of me.

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!

If I can’t even make boiled eggs… (March Break Update)

Day Two of March Break. Yesterday, I reorganized one kitchen cupboard (3 shelves, now wiped and reordered), did 3 loads of laundry (though I didn’t fold yet, heh), took a short walk with the dog, and ate two sandwiches, promptly noticing corresponding bloatiness and discomfort.

So, I have started my morning by attempting to boil eggs for the first time in years. 

It is not going well.



A few months ago, my husband kindly bought me these two little egg holder thingies that you’re supposed to use for boiling them without the shell. They’re visible in the pot where the yolk is peeking out. However, either the eggs I bought were too big or something else didn’t jive, because when I put them things together, I got whites all over. And the whites that ended up on the sides where I didn’t see / wipe have frothed up all over. Plus, I put in four regular eggs just to compare, and two or three of them cracked when I put them in the water, so here we go again — more froth. 

When they finished, they mostly appeared “normal”, but one of my cracked eggs came out with this disgusting long goopy white tail. It looks kind of like a ginormous sperm. Seriously, if this thing came out of the naughty parts of a beast, can you imagine the size of the beast? 

Now I remember why I ended up be someone who prefers toast (or waffles, or french toast, you know whatever I can get someone to make for me so it doesn’t end up burned or goopy) instead of someone who likes eggs. They’re just gross little things, aren’t they? I can’t eat them sunny-side up, they must be boiled or scrambled so they’re not slimy in any way. (BTW, the Sperm Egg shall go to the dog — I can’t even stomach the thought of eating that mutated thing.) 

Luckily I bought yogurt and a container of pre-cut fruit, plus we have bananas and cheese and apples. I shall try eating my successfully-boiled eggs (my daughter will be thrilled, she loves them), and see how that makes my belly feel later.


I failed at boiling eggs.

These do NOT look appetizing. And they haven't even been opened yet.

These do NOT look appetizing. And they haven’t even been opened yet.

They’re edible, at least, but only to the dog, it seems. Maybe a taste I will have to re-acquire. Or I will have to keep boiling eggs until I get it right. 😦

Tried these no-peel egg holder thingies. The eggs boiled, true, BUT…ew.

Tried these no-peel egg holder thingies. The eggs boiled, true, BUT…ew.

It took all I had just to open this thing. I'm not normally squeamish -- but anything slimy or goopy and I want to bleach my hands.

It took all I had just to open this thing. I’m not normally squeamish — but anything slimy or goopy and I want to bleach my hands.

Those peel-free egg thingies have gone into the garbage. And my dog is smacking her chops in her den. I suppose for making egg salad this would be okay, but...

Those peel-free egg thingies have gone into the garbage. And my dog is smacking her chops in her den. I suppose for making egg salad this would be okay, but…

Now, here’s the thing. I hate wasting food. I went through enough years of being a hungry student, and studying things like the Holocaust, that I can’t stand throwing out anything that is perfectly worth eating. So I’ve had one of my gross boiled eggs already, and the rest will become an egg salad or something.

But I think I am one step closer to being a vegetarian, if only to avoid touching slime. Like failed boiled eggs. *shudder*

Will she or won’t she? Darn those March Break Resolutions!

Every year, it’s the same. I start my spring break filled with goals and aspirations for accomplishing a multitude of tasks, some of which need doing (e.g., spring cleaning) and some of which I just really want to do (e.g., read a good book). However…I am a consummate procrastinator. Without fail, my good intentions burn away as quickly as I make them. How many of us are lulled into complacency by the prospect of a whole week before the routine returns?

I am determined, though, to make it happen, Cap’n. This time, procrastination will not win out. I will be victorious over my nemesis, with your support. Here, dear readers / fellow bloggers / friends, is my to-do list for the next seven days:

In no particular order:
1) Put away the clean laundry so I don’t have to fish through the pile every day for socks. (Sometimes, I call it Laundry Diving.)
2) Help my daughter to clean and organize her room so we can find that Dora the Explorer library book she lost two months ago.
3) Pick up the first layer of dog poop being revealed by the spring melt.

Hubby has once again promised to help with cleaning up her winter poop this spring! Erm -- all of it this time, right, honey?

Hubby has once again promised to help with cleaning up her winter poop this spring! Erm — all of it this time, right, honey?

4) Wash the floors, curtains, and windows. May not be able to open them yet, but by gosh, they will be clean!
5) Clean the bathroom. Thoroughly. Like, on the verge of gutting it.
6) Check my friend’s novel for typos.
7) Read three books.
8) Edit and revise my own novel, because Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy is coming out this April! (Yeah, had to put a little plug in there!)
9) Make some candles out of the sheets of beeswax I ordered two months ago and have not looked at since.
10) Finish my course outlines for school.
11) Do the marking I brought home from school. (Maybe I should do this first, so it doesn’t get left until the night before we go back to class? o.O)
12) Go for a walk with the dog and children every day. A nice long jaunt. Preferably ending with a nice snack that is non-fattening but will likely be donuts.
Our wonderful family dog -- she is an enormous suck, loves garbage parties, sticks food in the corners of the couch, and is fat and happy.

Our wonderful family dog — she is an enormous suck, loves garbage parties, sticks food in the corners of the couch, and is fat and happy.

13) Decide whether to keep the blonde and purple (which has, btw, faded to a lovely pink) or go back to brunette, and head to the hairdresser for some pampering and a trim. Scalp’s been suffering a bit from my experiment with colour.
14) Pick up some tea tree oil and dose scalp a few times.
15) Attempt to run/walk 1 km every day. Or every other day. Maybe I could combine that with going on jaunts with the kiddies?
16) Reduce how much bread I eat — I am learning that I feel better when I don’t eat bread during the day. Something about that Wheat Belly thing I’ve been hearing about from friends.
17) Write my blog post for the March Madness Giveaway I’m doing March 25 on Mysti Parker’s blog Unwritten (SWAG! SWAG!! FREE BOOK AND SWAG!!! Another shameless plug, evil that I am…)
Visit for a Giveaway!

Visit for a Giveaway!

18) Take the children to a movie and/or a round of laser tag in Timmins.
19) Get the car fixed.
20) In the event that we get another 13 cm of snow, clear the driveway that we just had ploughed.
21) Paint my nails. Maybe have my daughter do them, like last time! And do something about my cuticles so I stop picking at them. Pedicure by 7-yr-old!
22) Call a local animal shelter about any small/tiny dogs up for adoption.
23) Write some short stories for coming anthologies.
24) Write some poetry for coming contests.
25) Finish (?) reading The Secret Garden with my daughter.
26) Do arts and crafts projects (at least 1?) with the kids (they got some great kits for Christmas/Yule!)
27) Play boardgames with the kids (especially the new ones they got for Christmas that they haven’t…even…opened… :/)
28) Enjoy what might be the last week of snow by sliding, building a snowman…Horribly enjoyable watching said snowman melting away…

Wow. I think that’s it! It’s a doable list, I think, if I can stay on top of it. So far, I’ve managed to keep up some of my New Year’s resolutions: I’ve made a loan through Kiva in January, February, and done it for this month (my plan is to help someone somewhere through Kiva with a $25 loan, once a month for the whole year — 3/12 loans complete!); I’ve been exercising / working out fairly regularly (well, until my gym shut down, that is. Back to the drawing board on that one…if I can get my house cleaned up, I can use the living room to lift my little weights for toning. Not sure I want to join the other gym in town, as it’s so crowded. My, this is a long parenthetical comment!)

So, for those of you who are staying home or continuing to work through Spring Break (whether it’s this week coming up, or a different time altogether), what do you hope to accomplish and what are the chances of actually getting your to-do list done? Do you think I’ll get mine done? I’m already stressing about it, to be perfectly honest… Last year, I virtually slept through the whole week, but I was anemic and depressed. This year, I am healthy and strong like bull! But am I setting myself up for failure with my mondo-list of things to do while I’m supposed to be resting and recharging for the rest of the semester?

I’ve made myself accountable, now, by posting this for all to see, commiserate, possibly mock… I will update as the week goes on. I must remember, in order to be successful at these things, to breathe. Take each thing one at a time, a step at a time. Maybe work in chunks of time — an hour at this, twenty minutes at that. Assign jobs to the children (HAH! Well, the twelve-year-old will probably want to help, but the seven-year-old can make a bigger mess while cleaning than the original clutter…but I must cultivate patience and remember to breathe.), and the spouse.

One thing at a time.