Four parents, seven children

Hello dear friends,

Many things have happened in the last few months but as you might have noticed, very little time to blog around.

The kids are finally off school. Which means no more school work, just as we were finally getting into a healthy routine. Our first month of confinement was a disaster. We had no schedule, we were waking up late, the kids were playing computer games the whole day, I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to go for walks (in theory yes, but nobody was outside, and there was the whole “stay home” thing, it was weird), we would eat at no hours. It was a mess.

Then online schooling started. At first, I was under the illusion that I would be able to work on editing (the most time consuming part of the audiobook production) while the kids were quietly doing their homework. How wrong was I ! I was being interrupted every 5 minutes: the kids either needed help, would start fighting, or I would need to check on them because nothing would get done if left to their own devices… I was getting increasingly exasperated and stressed because I couldn’t concentrate on my own job. After the first week, I realized that it was not a good plan, I had to accept not to be able to work on my editing during daytime. I needed to establish some kind of schedule to keep everyone sane:

  • No more computer in the morning for the kids.
  • In the morning, they breakfast on their own (cereals or toast), then read, draw or play lego. I usually wake after them, so I just pray they don’t fight too loud before I slowly emerge from my slumber.
  • We go for a walk at least once a day, late morning or in the afternoon. (Our family walks are in the evening now from 7 to 9pm because the sun is still up and the temperatures are more pleasant).
  • Homework from 2pm to 4pm.
  • At 4pm, I give them a snack and tell them to go play at the park behind the house for one hour. They have a watch, they stay together, and I can see them (or hear them) from the kitchen window, or my office window. It’s pretty safe.
  • When they come back, they can finally go play on the computer downstairs. It’s usually quiet. I can get some work done then too, but I usually wait until everyone is sleeping. I go to bed very late myself (2 or 3am).

I don’t know why it took me so long to organize a schedule. It’s how I worked best when I was a student when I had to balance my time between classes, practice, rehearsals and work. It was what kept me sane as a new mom when the twins were infants (and in the following years with 3 very active little boys of about the same age). When some kind of structure is established, I find it relaxing because it gives me direction and I know that I will get things done. Each thing has its own time slot !

Two months later than initially planned, I’ve finally finished my latest audio book project (Au nom des pères)! The author didn’t seem bothered by the delay. He was understanding and praised the quality of my work regularly. I will write about it again later when the book is out in the audio world. It was a fantastic story. 😎

But now, no more homeschooling during the day, no more audio book project at night : what am I going to do with all my free time ??? (a rhetorical question: I have plenty of other things to do — writing in this blog for example 😉 )

The New Library

Last time I wrote over here, I quickly mentioned that we had a new library in the neighborhood. I was very excited about it and could not wait to show you pictures of it, of the fall colors all around, of the kids Halloween makeup, etc. But then, as usual, life happened and I was very busy with other things such as (but not limited to) :

finishing editing an audio book (a novel in French ! ), (Le Jardin secret de Marie, de Coralie Raphael — Une histoire extraodinaire, magique, pleine de mytères, de rebondissements et un amour pas comme les autres… Comme on dit en portugais adorei!)

reading an excellent novel (Sunshine by Robin McKinley — a post-apocalyptic fantasy with magical creatures, including a vampire, but no romance, which was oddly very satisfying to me, though maybe not to everyone’s taste. A genre in its own, I guess),

keep swimming as much as I could but not as much as I should (it’s very dark and cold now at 7:30AM and it’s already kind of depressing, and not motivating me at all to hop on my bicycle and go swimming, so I’ve sadly been slacking on my exercising. I really should get into a new routine of going there late mornings or evenings. Still debating),

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Autumn leaves 1

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Autumn leaves 2

getting soaked to the bone while trick or treating on Halloween with the kids (we left the house at 5PM, a little early, to make sure to collect enough candies before the rain. After a slow start (some houses were decorated but no one a the door… Why?), we had about 20 minutes of productive collecting before it started raining, then pouring rain. By that time we were cold and the kids’ bags were full and heavy, so we came back home with squeaky shoes, cold fingers, wet candies and a smile on our faces.)

Did you feast your eyes on the fall pictures above? Yes? Good. Because all day yesterday, and it looks like today too, the white stuff is falling from the sky. And not just a small little first snow of the season, no, it’s non stop snowing galore! In November! School buses have been cancelled for the day, the kids will be home, and so it begins…

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An inconvenient neighbor

I was about to record the twentieth and last chapter of my current audio book project. It was late morning, all seemed quiet. The kids were at school and my husband was gone at welding school/work. I had just come back from exercising; I was awake and my voice too. Outside, nobody was mowing their lawn or building a garden shed (thank God, lawn enthusiasts and garden builders are finally cooling down — literally) , and the train and its many whistles had just passed the crossing. I closed the window and the door to my home studio.

All set!

Toc-toc-toc!

What the…?

Toc-toc-toc!

The knocking came from behind my wall, the outside corner that faces the backyard and the park. Sometimes I can hear the squirrels climbing the wall and the roof, but they don’t stay long. That one kept knocking on my…

Toc-toc-toc!

I replied with all my rage by knocking on my side of the wall as if it was a very inconvenient neighbor. BAM-BAM-BAM. Get awaaayyyy!

Toc-toc-toc!

Nope, didn’t work. I opened my window, couldn’t see a thing because of the the bug screen, took that off too, and came face to face with a… A bird! No way, such a pretty bird pecking at the wall! We watched each other, stunned for a couple of seconds. When I finally thought I should take a picture (so pretty!), he hopped on a branch and flew away.

Another day he came back.

I was ready. (Camera ready, wrong lens — oops)

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Quick notes

Just some quick notes about all the things that have been going on lately.

The new library branch in our neighborhood has finally opened. The move was supposed to happen in the Spring, but it was reported time and time again. They have restored the old firehouse (1921) and the old barn behind it (1890), to make a wonderful modern library which smells brand new. The kids and I have been there quite a few times in the past weeks (I’ll try to get some pictures soon).

I’ve started teaching at a music school again (voice and piano)! Only two days a week (Monday and Tuesday), and it’s only 6 students for now, but I enjoy getting out of the house. I’m glad to see that I am indeed still quite sane when I don’t teach my own kids… Why do I have zero patience to teach my own children? An added bonus about teaching students outside of the home is that I get a weekly reminder to have my kids practice at home.

A couple of weeks ago (that’s how long I took to write this post), D travelled to Halifax with an older pastor for the installation of a third pastor (who studied with D at the seminary with the older pastor as their professor). Departure Friday morning, return Saturday afternoon / early evening. All goes according to plan until it’s time to return : all flights are cancelled because of Dorian, the post-tropical storm that was passing very close to the city. He sent me a very short email to inform me that their return flight was cancelled, then nothing for 24h. He told me later that there was no power in the hotel were they stayed (most of the province of Nova Scotia had no power). Even if I was trying not to, I was freaking out. All I knew about the situation were the most alarming videos I could find online… Not the best way to stay calm. (D later told me that the “big storm” was no big deal, just some strong winds, we’ve seen much worse in Brazil). He called the day after when he was already in transit at the Toronto airport. In the end, their return trip was only delayed one day later than planned, but those were the longest 24h I spent in a long time. 

I’ve started my class of Water Resistance (or “river walking”) again! Yay! I still think it’s a great class, but for some mysterious reason, of the dozen of ladies who loooved that class as much as I did before the summer, only one (beside me) has registered this semester! Weird.

So lately I’m not only swimming 3 times a week, but going to that class as well, so that’s 4 workouts per week… Not bad at all, I hope I keep it up when the weather turns depressing. (Lately it’s gray and raining, but it’s not too cold yet — I’m still biking to the swimming pool along the Riverside pathway with much gusto (there is always a bit of wind close to the river)… Let’s see how long that lasts).

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Morning Walk 1

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Morning Walk 2

Swimmer 3 & water polo blab

The boys have started a new semester of swimming lessons. Since it’s summer and *we* have little else to do, I’ve taken the opportunity to register them for lessons twice a week (instead of once) during the month of July. We also go to a different pool. It’s my favorite pool, the one I go to myself for swimming in the morning.

The swimming complex is fantastic : with competitive swimming pools on one side (picture above), and a water park with slides, splash pads, a wave pool, and a current corridor on the other side (it’s where I had my “river walking class” during the winter). It’s all great except for parking! Utterly ridiculous: there are only 5 free parking spots in front of the whole big complex (with a 2-hour limit !), all the rest of the available parking you have to pay because, I suppose, it’s too close to downtown (not very expensive if you go only once in a while, but it adds up quickly if you go almost everyday like me). So when I go alone I just ride my bicycle along the Riverside pathway. It’s a pleasant ride and a great warm up. But when I go with the kids, I drive and park the car a bit further away… then we walk. No big deal. At first I was a bit apprehensive, about the hassle of yet again a new routine, a new pool with the kids (Is it another sign of aging that I am sick of changing routines?), but our first week came and went and it was alright. My hope is that by seeing other kids training and swimming around them (there are other more advanced classes and teams training in the other pools at the same time), it might motivate them, inspire them to learn more.

As for me, I have managed to go three times a week instead of the former twice a week for the past month and a half. A good rhythm that I’m hoping to maintain, and maybe increase, but now with the kids home for the summer and D starting welding school (he is starting second career training — every morning on week days)… I don’t know how that will work out, maybe I’ll have to find a time slot in the evening? (I prefer exercising in the morning, I’m simply too lazy/tired in the evening).

I’ve been asking around if there is a water polo team in town, for adults like me who just want to have fun, but no luck so far. My endurance is not what it used to be, but I’ve been doing water polo drills during my swimming practice (and getting better) and some people have come to me asking if those were water polo moves. I hope they asked because they are unfamiliar with water polo, not because I look like a drowning whale in the water! haha. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up gathering a team of my own! 😉

For those of you who have no idea what water polo is, and how the water polo swimming is any different from “classic” strokes, you basically swim crawl strokes with the head above water. Here is an example:

There are many different swimming techniques proper to the water polo game:

Water treading (or egg beater)…

And ball handling, while swimming…

It’s all fascinating to me (and wonderfully exhausting!). I just love being in the water.

Roaming around

We’ve had a very uncertain spring weather so far : one day is cool and sunny (perfect), next day is grey and rainy (meh). It does not stay the same for long. It’s mid-June and I’m still not wearing my summer clothes. I’m actually wearing what I considered “winter clothes” in Brazil : short sleeve T-shits (as opposed to sleeveless shirts) and long jeans (as opposed to capris or skirts).

When the sun suddenly comes out, I have a switch in my brain that tells me that I have to go out and enjoy the weather. I can’t stay still.

On one of such days, I yelled at the men downstairs (most of the time dad and kids are now playing video games in the basement, aka the “man cave”) that I was going out, enjoy the weather, with my bike. Who wants to come with me?

Only Elias came. But that’s just as well, it’s easier to go around and be distracted when I have only one other person to worry about. And he is very pleasant to roam around with, maybe he’ll become my travel companion one day. 🙂

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In the same ‘hood

Hello lovely peeps!

Yes, we’ve finally moved (again). We are exhausted.

We despaired for a couple of weeks because we couldn’t find an affordable house for our family… I was starting to think that with our meager budget, we would have to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Not ideal at all for a family of five. The house market in our area is just crazy: very affordable to buy a house if you have enough savings for a down payment on a mortgage (which is not our case), but as expensive to rent as a big city like Montreal (I know, I checked)… Apparently there is a high demand for rental housing here because a lot of immigrants and students who first arrive elsewhere in Canada soon realize that winters are cold, and think that going to Canada’s southernmost city is a good idea. As a result the landlords can afford to be picky and crank up the rental prices. It creates what I think they call “a bubble” in the housing market. Ah, if I had the money, I would definitely invest in real estate and build a couple of rental properties… That’s were the money is.

Anyway, so I found a place not far from our previous house. It was the most frustrating move we had to do. We’ve had all the sweat and tears and work of moving houses, but it was not because D had a new job or because we finally bought a house… We moved because the landlord wanted to do renovations and sell the house. As a result we end up with an increase of $500 per month in rent for a house that is not that much better than the one before.

It’s a three-bedroom duplex with a basement. It’s feels like a house but we share a wall, the front porch, the backyard and the garbage bin with the side neighbors. So far so good, we’ll see how that goes.

The upside is that my recording studio is not in the basement anymore. I have my own little room with a window ! with a view ! of a park! (see picture above). Also, the kids’ playroom is in the basement now, with the ground floor in between us, so they can fight and jump as much as they want…

In the middle of all this (well, of course everything always happens at the same time), I just finished my sixth audio book  ! The best one yet ! 😉 (in post-production at the moment, it’s not out yet). It was one year ago, in May 2018, that I started with my first project as an audio book narrator, editor, producer. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks to produce an audio book, an average of 6 audio books per year. Not bad for a beginner. What I enjoyed the most about the experience so far is that I have been learning everyday about recording technicalities, and improving my skills at editing. Super interesting.

And today we’ve celebrated the twins’ ninth birthday. 9 years old! Crazy! Time flies when we’re having nervous breakdowns *cough* fun!