Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A day of good news!

I finished my marking and getting the marks in.

It is the last day of work before the holidays.

And then there is this:
Holiday Books to Get your Kids in the mood...

and this:
A Giveaway of both my books - signed just for you!

And then there is this:

Our baby girl at 31 weeks... looking a lot like her big brother.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moments of Weakness, forgetfulness and general ineptitude...

We all have them.

I, for one, am completely disorganized right now. I could blame it on baby brain, really it has gotten much, much. much worse than it was. Perhaps it is the late nights I am pulling trying to get everything done. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep from going to the bathroom every five minutes. I am not sure, anyway, things are getting lost along the way. I have failed to recognize that I cannot continue the pace I worked prior to getting pregnant with #2, and to add to it all, I GROSSLY underestimated the volume of work involved in being a college professor. Which, I also need to add - I ABSOLUTELY Love, and would love even more if it weren't sandwiched into my full-time job. I got my feet wet this semester, and I am hooked.

So, now, let's just say I am doing some serious catch up.

I am late on some book illustrations - and I am feeling just terrible about it. I had a bout with a BAAAD flu in the midst of it and was out of commission for over a month, and I am still not convinced I have fully recovered. This is the first time anything like this has happened... and I am contrite. They are nearing the finished state for sure, but I really feel like I let the publisher down.

I have many manuscripts and dummys 'hanging'... I think they may have to wait until after baby is born and my head is slightly clearer (haha).

Christmas cards - usually a highlight of my holidays - I have yet to send any out. Now it is too late, so I will be doing an e-card version - hopefully everyone will understand.

And then there is the living, I need time with my son, and my husband. This is some of the fruits of our labour this weekend... more felted soap. I am hooked on this craft too. These are so soft and lovely in the tub - natural exfoliation... just amazing.


And I require outside time, in a big bad way. So on Sunday, which was lovely - after spending the entire morning crafting with my son - we went for an epic walk... during which I suffered some serious braxton hicks contractions... and my little guy came over and kissed my tummy to make it feel better. Only 8 more weeks to go till our baby girl is due, and I am trying not to panic about the state of our house. These holidays are going to be mostly dedicated to getting set up for the little one - for me anyway. Shawn is going to continue his renovation work on our back room - he says we may even have our new windows in next week. I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Olympic Torch

I remember being 13 when the torch went through Canada the last time. I applied to carry it, but did not get to. I was sad, but at the time the event was so moving I didn't care. I was just so glad that I got to see it. I still had olympic dreams, and friends who were close to realizing those dreams. Now that we are older and those friends have competed at this epic level - and been successful, it seems to have even more meaning. This morning when we watched it go through Napanee I was 13 again, but seeing it through our son's eyes. He has yet to discover competitive sports, he is only 4 - but who knows - right? Someday maybe he will get to carry the torch, or compete for our country. Maybe. And if not - it really does not matter, as long as the Olympic spirit - to reach for your goals, whatever they may be - remains strong - I will be one proud mama. And to all the athletes, and the families and parents of those athletes, who have sacrificed all the way to get to the games - we wish you luck, perseverance and the knowledge that whatever you do, wherever you place - we are proud of you.

You can watch a live feed here:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Felting Soap with a 4 Year old

I stumbled upon this great craft to do with kids. I am always on the lookout for something new and crafty that a young child can do with some success and minimal intervention from me. SO this morning we sat down to do this:
(You can find links with directions all over the web - as well as amazing examples from folks who do this for a living... I think we'll just keep it in the family, but we will definitely be making more in the very near future. If you do not have a barrel of felt lying around you can buy kits here:

We bought some beautiful locally made soaps (goat's milk and pomegranate) at the Roblin General Store, chopped them in half and set about wrapping them up with the piles of felt I do have actually lying around... about an hour later we had these beautiful little gifts for Mo's loves and he was having a blast with the bowl full of water and the bamboo mat - which became a marvelous bridge for his vehicles, and just tippy enough for them to fall in and need rescuing. So by the end, we were clean, the cars were clean and together we made something beautiful. At least I think they are.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Glorious day!

Well, I have had two of the nicest surprises this morning... and to top it all off, we are off today because I have appointments - so I get to enjoy them both!

First - my books got a great and touching review on Natural Mama Reviews, I love this blog and I had asked awhile back if they would be interested in looking at my books for a possible review. This is why it never hurts to ask. This has been one of the nicest interactions I have had online - thank you so much. As a note - if you win my books, I will gladly sign them for whoever you would like, just let me know.

Secondly - we have snow - LOTS of it. Nothing makes me smile more than waking up to trees heavily laden with snow - particularly when I don't have to go anywhere in a hurry. There are fresh tracks outside letting us in on the mysteries of our nighttime visitors... now we are off to shovel and explore before we go visit our midwife.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Anticipation & Promises

There seems to be so much to look forward to at this time of year, and yet I am finding the time is just slipping away - leaving me feeling as though I am not appreciating it properly. I keep promising myself I will slow down, but I keep going - it seems, at an alarming rate. So, I am making myself some early promises right now. You see - I need to plan, so I can actually keep them.

We are now 28 weeks pregnant, and our new little girl is feisty and already claiming her space between her brother and I with not so gentle love kicks when we are cuddling... so I vow to cuddle him even more and take time to spend with him alone, knowing how much our lives
will change in February. I have no idea what it will be like for us - will be special, scary, beautiful and challenging... all at once.

Over the holidays I will finish cleaning out the space for another double bed so the little one and I can cuddle and she can nurse to her hearts content, while her brother spoons with me or dad... and I am going to try not to be too stressed out about it. With all the renovations going on, and the holidays, I want to do it and just be done so I can enjoy this time of seeming quietude with our small family.

I am going to finish all my outstanding freelance illustration work before the holidays, get all assignments marked and marks into banner the week before christmas - and will not take on any more big jobs until March. I will however dedicate some time to my dummy that has been sitting idle for far too long due to actual paying work pouring in.

I will appreciate what we have and try very hard to not be too envious of my friends larger, fully renovated homes that are beautifully decorated for christmas and think more about those who have nothing or who have lost so much.

I will keep my spending in check and the focus of the season - being friends and family at the forefront.

I will say thank you and smile at grumpy people in the mall, even though I feel like a mac truck, I am infinitely grateful to be carrying the child I am. I will not shop at the mall, but may pop in
for sushi.

I will hug my husband, and thank him for the small things. Sometimes I forget to do that.

I will be kinder to myself.

I will sleep more.

I will prepare for my baby to make her entrance as she sees fit.

I will give as much as I can, and show our son that it feels even better than receiving.

I am sure there is more...

It is Card Season again!

I have lots and lots of cards for sale through etsy (or in person if
you prefer), complete with matching seals and envelopes... drop me a
line or visit my etsy store (see link on side panel - and get ready
for the snowy season ; ) If you are interested in having something
else on a card - let me know, I am always open to new options.

Monday, November 16, 2009

missing pics


The Avid Reader in Coburg

We launched In the Snow yesterday at the Avid Reader in Coburg... great store! Lovely location, very nice people - and we had a nice group of kids come out. I was actually surprised, as it was an absolutely gorgeous day and if I could have been outside I would have been!

Once again I have to say how much I love indie bookstores... the feel is so very different from the big boxed stores, intimate and warm. So I say - go to an indie bookstore for your  Christmas shopping, you will be glad you did. Otherwise these places will disappear, and that would be a real tragedy.

The felted snowman was fun, when the kids worked together it worked well, I always forget about that element - the not sharing part, and my son - MO, was the worst! Seems sharing mom at these things is not too much fun. The book was received well and then we went down to the fantastic coburg beach and got silly again. A much needed dose of fresh air after traveling and  reading before we got in the car again. Now, we just wait for the snow...

I will post pics of felty the snowman tonight as well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book reading this weekend in Coburg

This Sunday, November 15th - at the Avid Reader in Downtown Coburg. I
will be reading my books, we'll build some GINORMOUS snowmen (inside),
and get into the winter season with the kids. Bring your friends and

Also, on December 12 at 1:30pm at Baby, Bump and Beyond in downtown
Napanee, I will be doing the same...

More dates and details to come. I really hope to see you there.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween

Well, we did it - here is the white-wall tire costume requested of us
by our son. He is an original for sure, and we pulled it together, at
about 1230am on friday evening. Hope everyone had a safe and happy
halloween. We had lovely visits with our neighbours, a gorgeous moon
and sadly only 3 kids to our house.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why I love my Son's Kindergarten

For this, and so many other things - I am grateful to have an on-site kindergarten that is so nurturing, inclusive and aware for my son. It is a combination of great teaching, love and attention to each child that makes it such a special place. This also explains my sons need to collect milkweed pods everywhere we go these days. We now have a jar of seeds and a jar of fluff on our shelves. And a field-full of milkweed at the base of our property. Thank you Loyalist CECE for making school so special for us. These past weeks, mo has built a crane to rescue something in a sewer with his teacher, he has learned to spell orange, he has learned songs and dances, he has learned the science of magnets - and so much more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Proud of my dad...

Yesterday my father was inducted into the Lindsay Sports Hall of Fame,
as an athlete and as a coach. When you grow up with a pro-football player as a dad, you take some things for granted. When you grow up with people like our parents - you've got it made. We were driven to every practice for every sport - we were coached and chaperoned and we were supported in whatever we chose to do.

The thing about this induction was - I realized that other people see our dad as a mentor - and the number of people he has inspired, coached and worked with is pretty unbelievable. Not to mention - he is a great speaker. We have listened to his stories over and over again - have you ever seen the movie BIG FISH? Well that guy reminded me of my dad in a big way. So, realizing that he is a character and much of the stories he tells are rooted in truth somewhere was enlightening.

Usually you have to wait for terrible things to happen to get to hear how wonderful your folks are and meet the people in their lives from BEFORE they were your parents. We got to see that, and so did dad - and it was awesome.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Listening to CBC live this afternoon to the beautiful voice of Steven Page - who always makes me nostalgic for warm summer nights, and sitting around the campfire with friends and co-workers - listening to my friend Luke play the guitar. You know, you never think you will get older, that you will always be young and adventurous, and then all of a sudden you realize you've become all of those things you were so sure you never would - or COULD be - does that make sense?
We get older, we have kids, then we spend most of our time being amazed at watching them grow - and time passes. Next thing you know your 4-year old is examining your hair telling you to pull out all those white-silver ones. I am not complaining, I love my life - and know I am so blessed. I am just musing on these facts...
I started teaching this year - which I love immensely. I am learning so much, and don't think I am particularly great at it yet, but I think I might be eventually. I feel energized in a way I haven't in a long time. It is the promise, the excitement of the students as they prepare to tackle the world, bringing justice and social change. They are not jaded, or too busy being grown up to care. It is a very refreshing thing to witness and be a part of. There is still a part of me that is 5, and 12 and 17 and even 23, and I am sure as I age parts will stick with me along the way of all the pivotal moments in my life. They say you can condense your life into 5 pivotal moments - I have to think on that.

What I have been up to....

Besides growing a baby, starting to teach, renovating a crappy old house and evicting random squirrels, skunks and raccoons from the property... I have also been working. I am almost completely finished the book set in Gambia, will post more of this later. Here are a series of characters based on Inuit mythology for Inhabit Media. These are ©2009 Inhabit Media.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Talking about birth with a 4 year old

Besides the fact that our son is wishing I will have a car instead of a baby, he has been very curious about the whole process. He was born by emergency c-section and I've had to explain this to him. There was a lot of medical intervention and it was a scary experience. In the end we ended up with a beautiful, healthy little boy. I've been talking to him about his sibling, who is due in February 2010. We are 20 weeks now. This time we have a midwife, I feel more empowered and I know nothing really goes according to plan when it comes to this stuff, but we are aiming for a natural birth this time with as little intervention as possible.

Tonight, my little boy and I are were having our nightly snuggle, quietly, in the dark and he says,
"Mommy, I don't want them to cut you this time." I was floored for a second. I assured him that it did not hurt me, and that we were all good and it was ok. He said again, "I think it would be better if the baby was born the other way this time - will it hurt you?" and he nestled in. I told him that, yes, it would hurt me a little, and I would have to work pretty hard - but only for a little while - and then we would have our baby. We snuggled for a bit, he, lying on my belly, listening and his sibling giving him little love taps. It is a moment that will be emblazoned in my memory forever.

So I ask - where does a 4 year old gain this insight and feeling?

Books we've been reading - It's not the Stork and Being Born - two great books that beautifully illustrate the thigs you need to talk about, in a gentle and informative way.

We have our ultrasound on Tuesday - and I can't wait for our son to see the baby this way too. These are special times.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Baking and Crafting

I found this craft this morning on And so we had to try it. These are really goopy. I am not one to control the pace of a craft with my son, I give him the tools and he goes, so we used up a LOT of modge Podge today, and once these dry (maybe by halloween?) they will be rockin! Can't wait to see them with all the lights.

We also made a pile of cookies. We like cookies. We really like them... wait- did I say that already?

Remembering being a Work at home Mom....

I have been on a doctor imposed sick leave. I am pregnant and have a really bad flu. Not Swine flu, thank goodness, but have been knocked flat for awhile. Anyway, my son has been home with me, since his school is in Belleville and it was not at all convenient to bring him there every day.

I was home with him for the first two years, and I count that time as the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. I have been back at work for 2 years now, and he is pretty institutionalized. We are lucky, he has had amazing caregivers in incredible centres - I really can't say enough about them. And so, since last thursday we've been stuck with each other...

At first, in the interest of full disclosure, and keeping in mind the fact I was really, really sick and tire, he drove me crazy. A kid who is used to having other kids around to play with all the time, when faced with a sick invalid of a parent as his only diversion is - to say the least - INTENSE. I would be lying if I said we never watched TV (which we did) and is not a part of our regular routine, but I was DESPERATE. I let him watch a lot of it. Now I am afraid I've killed half his brain.

But, these last few days, I am still not well, but I at least have had some energy and can function, we've been having a good time. We are back in our groove. He knows when I need to take care of things he needs to play by himself. He is a grand little helper. We baked cookies, done lots of crafts, and played one heck of a lot of LEGO. We've had at least a small nature hike every day. I have a new admiration for him and his vivid imagination, he sees things in the most incredible way. I wish I felt better, but this has been such a lovely gift - a blessing in disguise. I am very glad I was able to enjoy some of it. Now I look forward even more to February when I will be off with my two kids, Mo will be in school, but only 2-3 days a week.

Motherhood, in all it's forms, rocks. Even when you feel like garbage.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I heard from my publisher of In the Snow that it has already sold out of the first print run, and it has not even been released yet! This is very good news indeed. In the Garden is to be re-released as a board book 1 year after the first run, so I think we are doing alright!

Also, a good friend and colleague has started a great blog where they go on book related adventures and interview and review creators... check it out.

And lastly, have I ever mentioned I have the very best friends and family in the world? I've been sick. Bone crushingly, brutally sick (ok, maybe not QUITE that bad, but you get my drift). Anyway, today, they took my little boy for the whole day so I could rest, made me magical soup and convinced me to go to the doctor. My hubby came home from work (he is just getting over this) just to drive me there. Which I did to find out I have a particularly virulent form of the flu - though thankfully NOT swine flu, but have been ordered to rest for several days and a sort-of quarantine since we are all apparently contagious, to be good to me and our little 19 week old baby. We get to find out in a little over a week whether or not it is a boy or a girl - our son thinks it should be a car. Hmm.

Anyway, I love them to death and as soon as I stop coughing and sneezing I am going over to each of thier homes to give them the biggest hug I can muster. And then I will tackle my husband on the couch - but not till he is feeling better too.

I am one lucky girl.

SCBWI Agent's Day Conference

On Saturday, we all converged on the National Archives Building in Ottawa for our annual Fall event. Last year, this is where I met my agent, Kendra Marcus, owner of Bookstop Literary. This time I went to just see my old pals, learn some new stuff and see some new work, since next year is going to be a write-off for me as far as conferences go. I will be spending time with our newest member and enjoying every minute of it.

This year we got to meet Mark McVeigh of the fairly new McVeigh Agency, but Mark is definitely not new to the industry. Mark has worked as an editor at the top houses in the US and shared with us a wealth of knowledge of the inner workings of the biz. His down-to-earth manner and passion for the medium is obvious, he is also a technical wizard and yet another agent who sings the praises of the Kindle (when WILL it be available in Canada?). Anyone looking for an excellent agent would be doing very well indeed to get a chance to work with him.

We also got to meet Edward Necarsulmer IV, Director, Children’s Department, McIntosh & Otis, New York. Who was not only insightful but very, very funny. The passion that this man exudes for the biz is verging on almost maniacal - in a totally great way. He reps a member of my critique group - the very talented Nancy Coffelt and just raved about her. Also off-beat and honest and, well all-round nice guy. I am a bit sad I had to miss dinner and the late-night Canadian Whiskey... sounded like a good time. Baby and belly just wouldn;t allow it.

Thank you again to Lizann Flatt and Alma Fullerton and the rest of the SCBWI CanEAST crew for a great event. Kudos and I will miss you so in the spring. Think of me and please mention Goodnight Boob at least once, as I will be living in that very world.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Animal Kingdom

Well, you move to the country for peace and quiet. You buy an old
house to fix up and love forever. My oh my how some dreams can get

We've been dealing with squirrels since we moved in 5 years ago. We
have fixed/patched/rebuilt the roof in a variety of manners 4 times.
Our squirrels can chew through metal, don't seem to mind pressure
treated wood and as we found out last weekend, have been inhabiting
our mud room roof likely for over a century.
We are renovating said mud room to give us more space for our growing
family, my work space, and the kids play space in our tiny home. This
renovation is turning into a full-scale project. The ceiling came down
last weekend and inside was 3 feet worth of squirrel nest, the entire
air space above - totally full. Wires chewed, and tunnels everywhere.
Well, they have been evicted, ad effectively (thus far) blocked out.
Though the will to get in is diminished now that their lovely cosy
home is now in the driveway in a heap of rubble.

So you would think we'd be in for some nice quiet nights, but it is
not so. Now, we have raccoons. Trying to peel up the tin on the roof
of our main house - I cannot tell you how noisy this is. Of course it
does not start until about 2:30 am, so we are good and asleep by then.
Picture this, Me in my underwear, looking for rocks in the driveway
while Shawn is using MO's toy slingshot to get them off the roof. I
think we sufficiently scared them though, and they were not back last

And then, there are the bats. Now they are not IN the house, but they
are in our roof (perhaps to invite the raccons?). These little things
are so noisy as well - and we have NO idea how they are getting in and

I am sure there is a book in all of this, once we are able to see the
humour in it all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who knew my hubby was a cake decorator?

I set him up with the cake, and the icings and he went nuts... it took
awhile, but was WELL WORTH it when the kids all totally freaked out
when they saw it. Carpenter turned Cake decorator for hire.
Construction sites only. A proud day for papa. Photos by Kieran Wall -
another talented papa.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oh Happy Day.

Today is a good day.

It is friday.

My sister came home from Africa after 9 months yesterday.

Tomorrow is our son's fourth birthday party.

We are building a construction site cake... watch for pictures.

I start teaching on Monday.

Did I mention it is Friday?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

a new piece...

Another piece for the book set in Gambia for my UK publisher. The
fabric is all tiny bits and bigger bits of paper.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I just have to share...

I am a busting out proud momma. What can I say. This weekend, our son
(who is almost 4) drew this entry for the Chirp magazine Draw yourself
contest. He did it all by himself, name and everything, and well -
while it may not be extraordinary to anyone else, it completely blew
my mind. Little kids are amazing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I love independent bookstores!

This weekend I had a reading at the Kent Bookstore in Lindsay. Like
Greenley's in Belleville, they had decorated the windows up with big
gerbera daisies, and a GIANT almost 4 x 4 foot blow up of my
cover... it was a hot, hot day, but the kids that came were
enthusiastic and it was actually really nice. It was the first event
where I got to spend almost all my time with the kids, doing silly
little drawings and talking about all the other books they love... I
got a great view into the heart of a pre-teen reader who loves
fairies. It was a great visit, and I will be going back there again in
the winter when in the snow launches in November. DId I mention they
sold 35 books? Fun stuff. Those places make me wish I worked in an
indie bookstore.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book review Wednesday - JULIUS - the baby of the world

Ok, at first I have to say I was troubled by some of the language in
this book - particularly the word ' hate'... but I have to say that
now I love it. I really do. We are expecting our second child, and our
son is almost four and having a bit of a struggle with the idea of
sharing his parents with anyone. he has come up with all sorts of
plans involving rockets, fire trucks and police cars - oh yeah, and
tape. None of them violent ideas I might add, more just the relocation
of the baby once it is born in nice safe vehicles. He's being quite
crafty actually, and I should commend his creativity.

Anyway, this book is hilarious.

My little sister was born when I was four, and I remember how I felt
so distinctly, still to this day - 30 years later, that Lilly antics
just crack me up - and our son too. Warning pregnant mouse-ladies that
they will live to regret that bump under their dresses... the magic
tricks, the stories... if you have a good sense of humour, and can
remember what it was like when a new sibling came along - this is a
very funny book to read to help prepare for the inevitable.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Then and Now - my own private Jungle

Gardens truly are miracles. I am not a weeder, unless it is greatly
interfering with my progress, but you know, everything is doing
marvelously well. The deer still come by for the odd nibble, but this
has been taken care of by my sweet son, who is happy to pee in the
garden whenever is suits his fancy...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Been a long time - but we've been busy!

So much of summer is already gone by, and this summer, we have had a
lot of time with our pals. It has been great, several canoe trips,
beach trips, parties and BBQ's. Here are some of my favourite pics
from the past month or so. I am back to my freelance work after the
extreme exhaustion of first trimester, and anticipating the next 6
months with happiness and a bit more energy...