Archive for January 2010

the long dark days at home



The snow’s gone, which is a blessing in that the school’s open, but also means that the glorious sunshine and sledding has been replaced with grey rain. We’re feeling housebound and I’m seriously considering making today a soft play centre day. Artificial lights, noise, the germs of a 1000 kids smushed into vinyl mats, and coffee. It’s not sounding too bad once you get to the coffee bit…

(Disclaimer: Fraser’s not been sleeping well these days)

I am struggling at the moment with staying at home. Most days, it’s lovely. Our mornings are relaxed and the reduction in stress is probably adding five years to my life. But I do really miss being challenged intellectually; I’m dying to sit down with a bit of math or numerical modelling. And as much as I’m convinced that leaving work was the right thing (Duncan still talks about how much he didn’t like his old nursery), we’ve not found the right balance yet as a family. So my goal for the first half of 2010 is to try to find some little bits of part time work that could help satisfy my urge to close the door on the monkeys for a few hours and use my brain.

I’ve also been looking outwards to try to think about how I (and we) can make sure our lives are balanced. Looking at sites like needled remind me that there’s more to life than kids and work – and also highlights through contrast how much we’ve given up at this stage of our lives to have the boys. It’s reassuring and helps me refrain from defining myself solely in my present occupations. And then there’s always literature to make me think. My favourite novel, Hostages to Fortune, deals with the tug between career dreams and a happy family life. I love Elizabeth Cambridge’s gentle treatment of families – not drama and trauma, but the simple balance between individuals and love:

Other women found their houses and their husbands and children enough, why couldn’t she be like them? Suppose she poured out all her energy, all her imagination upon them? … ‘Lord, look away from me that I may accomplish as an hireling my day’ (p. 116)

Fancy expecting your children to be grateful to you! I’m grateful to them. I used to think it could never be over … the bringing them up, the endless work. … But all the time I was enjoying it. (p.335)

I think I’ve learned more about marriage and children from this 1933 novel than all the modern discussions of the topic put together. I remind myself almost daily of her words about being grateful to our children and the joy we can find in them. It helps me define my priorities and see how beautiful life is at the moment – even when it’s not exactly how I’d chose it to be.

snowy days




The local nursery school has been closed all week, a relief really not to have to drive on sketchy roads populated by cars with summer tyres. But it’s been disappointing for Duncan, who loves his two hours of nursery every day and misses the time spent with friends in structured play. He’ll be back this week though. The forecast is for rain, and an end to the wintery weather.

Now that we’re settled in the village, I forget that we’re actually from another country. Culturally it’s close enough to avoid any disconnect and with the boys growing up Scottish, this feels more like home than Vancouver ever did. But once in a while, my childhood pops up. Like now, in our reactions to the snow. While the snow has been the talk of country, especially down south, there’s an attitude here that this is just a return to how things used to be. Neither a horrible outlier or a common occurrance, the weeks of snow we’ve had are just part of living in North East Scotland; to be enjoyed as best as possible. This is actually pretty much how I feel. Aside from the winter in Calgary, the snow I grew up with was often just like this – a month at a time then rain. But in conversations I realize that people expect us, as Canadians, to be inured to snow and used to blizzard conditions. I feel like they expect us to be laughing at closed schools and cars in ditches. While I reserve the right to laugh at expensive cars with ridiculous tyres spinning on barely slippy surfaces, on the whole I’m not keen to drive if I don’t need to and since our car couldn’t make it into the school parking lot on Saturday (test trip), I wont expect to be taking D there until the weather turns.

Duncan and I did make it out on Friday afternoon to stock the fridge and since I did have just one kid in tow, I decided to pop in to the fabric shop and get the backing and border for the block pieced quilt I’m working on that got postponed by the Christmas advent bunting. It may be the simplest thing I’ve ever done, and I might not even have picked the fabric myself, but I’m still looking forward to cuddling under it while I quilt it over the next month or so.

Photos top to bottom: The sledding hill. The view in the other direction. And yes, this snow ball did end up being a direct hit.

19. Monkey


I always mean to update more often, but then run out of time before bed. That’s been more true lately as we’ve shortened our evenings to help us deal with your shortening our nights. Since you’ve had the flu over Christmas, you’ve decided that sleeping alone is not cool. We’ve decided that letting you in bed with us is not cool. So there’s a bit of a stalemate. We have to lie in bed listening to you yell at us and you have to lie in bed. You start by yelling for Mummy, then Daddy, and lately have even been yelling for Duncan to rescue you from the boredom of nighttime.

But now that you’re well and back to yourself (aside from sleeping), you’re flashing your cheeky smile around, chatting up a storm, and charming us into forgetfullness. I love listening to you talk, in sentances now, and the things you yell out (Happy New Year) or sing to yourself (Bob the Builder, Can we fix it!) make us giggle. You’ve never even seen Bob the Builder on TV, but thanks to Mr. D, you definitely know the words and, amazingly, sing it to yourself while you potter around.

Starting the year right

fraseranddad2sleddingdownIt’s almost like old times (check out how young we were – six years is a long time when you’ve moved countries and had two kids). Except there’s only a few feet of snow so it was boots rather snow shoes and our destination was a stone circle. Thanks to a wonderful invitation from friends we spent today hiking in the snow; pulling Duncan up on his sled while Fraser was tucked asleep in the mei tai. A picnic at the top with mulled wine and treats, snow falling, a sled run down, and the car didn’t even get stuck. Perfect.

We’ve had a wonderful white Christmas with Jim and Sue and I was spoiled by my boys on my birthday. If we were back to normal already I think I’d be feeling a bit let down. But today’s only Friday and there’s three more days before Cory’s back at work. Three more family days… (One of the only downsides of me being at home with the boys is that we’re now a one income family and Cory tends to work a bit more to make that one income stretch a bit further. We’ve really missed having the time together as a family and are hoping we’ll manage more family adventures this year. Not moving house will help for a start.)

If I was to make a resolution for 2010, it would be to continue as we’ve begun. Lots of hiking outside in the local hills, lots of low key family time, lots of picnic treats.

Photos: top – just woken up. bottom – Getting a tow downhill, Fraser’s tucked between us here. It’s harder than it looks to take a clear picture while it’s snowing.

Happy New Year!