Blog Archives - Reading Rachel
The other day, my step-daughter brought home THE permission slip. She’s 10, in grade 5, it’s not hard to figure out which form I’m talking about. Let me give you a hint—she’s coming upon a time in her life when her body and those of her classmates are beginning to undergo changes.

Oh yes—it was the sex-ed. permission slip!

Is that weird for me? Not at all. As soon as she told me I said I was completely for her learning about it at school and that her dad would probably say the same thing. It was her mom I was a bit concerned about.

Leah’s mom is, well, a little, um, how to put this nicely, hmm. Let’s go with over-protective? Safety is really important (which is fantastic, obviously. I just don't want to risk her being over-sheltered--it makes for a difficult future; been there, done that.).

I was a little concerned that Leah’s mom, who won’t take her out for Halloween (to shelter her from Satanists), wouldn’t want her to take health class with the other kids in school. It’s never easy being that kid. The one who always has to leave the room when they start talking about our bodies changing. Trust me, it’s never easy.

Why my mother decided not to let me participate in sex-ed. in grade 5 I will never know. I got to go in grade 6, but for some reason, not in grade 5.
It’s so hard. As if your formative years aren’t difficult enough (remember how I said I used to get called a Nazi because of my German heritage?), now you’re the weirdo-kid who isn’t allowed to learn about health. And it’s not like my mom sat me down and started talking about it in grade 5 either (which is odd considering as a nurse she is in the health care profession).

I just had to wait an extra year.

Could that be why I didn’t shave my legs until grade 8? I was a year behind (I used to speed swim provincially and I would use that as my excuse for not doing it in grade 7—we all had to keep our leg hair until big meets when everyone, including the guys, were expected to shave their legs. It helped make us go faster because there was less resistance. (Wow, even as an 12-year-old I was full of creativity. Thank you science, you helped make me a convincing liar!)) Of course the real reason was a combination of laziness and lack of knowledge—shaving your legs was probably on the grade 5 health curriculum.

Sadly, I must apologize to all those in my seventh grade class as I also didn't start consistently wearing deodorant until grade 8, either. It was more of a sporadic thing in grade 7. I don’t think I smelled, but then do smelly people ever realize that they smell? Maybe that’s why I’m so adamant that Leah brushes her hair and teeth and bathes at least daily (well only brushes her teeth at least daily. I’m OCD about washing my hands before I eat, but not multiple baths and stuff. That’s just crazy!)

Luckily, we spoke to Leah’s mother and it’s a go. Thankfully. (Provided the school doesn’t teach oral sex, etc, etc. Seriously? Do they do that now? Why? These kids are 10! Do they need to know that? Or as my mother would say, “Does anyone need to know that?”)

Well, Leah now gets to learn most of this stuff at school so that, as parents, we can just skim over it when it’s time for “the talk.”

Man being a parent is easy! 
When it comes to cooking, some people’ve got  it, and some just don’t.
Take my step-daughter’s mother. According to my daughter, her mom makes whipped butter instead of cream (by accident; at least she didn’t add salt instead of sugar) and something about soupy-burnt waffles? I sort of stopped listening so I could focus on not throwing up in my mouth. (Does that make me a bad parent?)

My father-in-law’s idea of a casserole is a box of KD, a can of corn, and perhaps a can of pork and beans. Basically whatever is in the cupboard.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for experimentation (although I am a firm believer that if you are going to eat KD, you need to eat it just as it is. Don’t add wieners or extra cheese (especially processed cheese slices!) or anything else you think might make it taste better. It’s not that great to begin with—it’s just a good choice for comfort food around that time of the month. Followed by a Reese Peanut Butter Cup chaser). 

When it comes to recipes, I take one of two approaches:

  1. I take a look at the ingredients, get out what they suggest, and just sort of throw everything together, plus a few extras that I think work (and that does work well at times—I have an amazing pasta sauce I make from scratch that’s to die for (although it rarely tastes the same twice…) which is why I sometimes make it around the holidays, bottle it up, and give it away.)
  2. I follow the recipe to the extreme. Every little thing, I do. In perfect order I might add. Only need a ¼ tsp of something? That’s all you’re gonna get! (unless it’s vanilla extract—I always add more of that because I love the smell so much) I’m like a recipe Nazi (that was an inside joke for my husband. I’m not really a Nazi (even though I’m German and spent my childhood getting called one because my dad came over from there. Man, kids can be cruel)).

I like to think I get my mad cooking skills from the two most important ladies in my life—my mom and my Nana (who’s no longer with us, but she ran the Riverside Grill in Selkirk, MB for 45-ish years with my grandpa). 

Tonight, however, I’m not sure I want my mom’s cooking skills.

While working up in my office, I got a call from my parents alarm company. Apparently their smoke alarm was going off and no one was answering at home, so the company called to let me know what was going on and that the fire trucks had been dispatched.

I’m kind of worried, but not too worried. (This isn’t the first time I’ve received a call about their alarm going off.) First, I decide to call my parents at home. Just in case.

After three or four rings, there’s a loud sizzling sound. I’m wondering if this is a sick joke from their alarm company? And then my mom answers. She’s just a-cookin away in her kitchen. Of course. I know that sound. I know the smell. And I know how smoky the house gets but how amazing everything tastes a few days later when we finally get to eat it.

My mom was making cabbage rolls and meatballs, preparing for Thanksgiving.

And then the fire department came.

My first thought was, “Crap. Dad’s gonna be pissed when he finds out.”

When the firemen arrived, apparently her first words were, “Crap. What’s Peter going to think when he gets home? He’ll be home any minute. Oh, and by the way, I was just cooking. No fires. I’ve got all the windows open to let the smoke out.”

Naturally, when the firemen found out what she was cooking, they invited themselves over for Thanksgiving Dinner (which I’m OK with. There’s going to be so much food. And firemen typically have nice bodies. I can say this because my husband has me watch wrestling with him and that is filled with ripped guys in teeny-tiny trunks. What, does he not expect me to look? Please, it’s so not all about the wrestling for me! I watch it for the “articles.” Yeah, that’s it!)

In the meantime, Mom, you’re a great cook, but as someone who reads the Bible, you should know this:

                 “Man cannot live on food burnt to a crisp alone.” 

I have been applying for jobs for the past several months without any luck. It’s really disconcerting. I’ve reviewed my resume multiple times and it’s in good shape, but obviously just not good enough.

I can’t even say that I’ve been bombing the interviews, because I don’t seem to be getting that far. In fact, I have not heard back from most of the places I’ve applied which makes me wonder—how do you stay in business? Sure, I’ve received the “we just got your resume but we will not be reviewing it until the posting ends, so we’ll call you after such time” message, or the “the position has been temporarily filled, but we will still be looking to hire in the fall; call you then!” emails. 

Thank you.

At least you took the time to let us know that you are looking over (or at least receiving) our submissions. It’s the rest of you—how do you manage to function from day to day if the simplest tasks can’t be performed? I’m so confused. Obviously you need to hire someone (which is why I sent you my resume!).

Yesterday I got another letter. (Well, technically it’s the first—all the others have been emails). My husband handed it to me with an “I’m sorry,” knowing full well what it was without opening it. That’s OK. I’m a writer—I’ve received my share of rejection letters in the past, it’s just part of the business. The position was for the Communications Manager at a major firm in the city (whose name I will not reveal) to which I am incredibly under qualified for. Was I expecting the job? Not a chance. I was, however, hoping for an interview—even if just for the practice. Instead, I got a beautifully written form letter.

With a typo.


The idea was there, but they kind of missed a word:

“We have received many applications for this position. After careful review you did not make the interview list and we will not offering an interview. I wish you all the best in finding a position suitable to your career aspirations.”

Did you see it? Or rather, did you not see it? Try again:

“…we will not (BLANK) offering…”

You know what? That’s OK if you don’t want to give me the job, or even an interview. I am well aware I don’t have the experience for the position. Just make sure you do hire someone with a good grasp on grammar.

Oops—let me try that again: hire someone with good grasp grammar.
Tonight I have decided to start a new writing project. It’s not that the previous one wasn’t working; I’m just suffering a bit of writer’s block.

As in I don’t have a plot.

Don’t get me wrong, I have characters. They’re great characters. And I know about them as individuals, I jus t haven’t decided how they are going to meet. Or why. (Well, actually, I do know. Sort of. It’s just really confusing.)

In the meantime, I had another idea. Again, I’ve got my two protagonists. I know who they are (for the most part) and I even think I know how they come into contact, I’m just not entirely sure what’s going to happen once they meet.

Oh the life of a writer—it’s just so frustrating.

It really helps when I get in the right writing mode. What follows is my writing checklist:

·         Comfortable clothes – CHECK

·         Candles and incense lit – CHECK

·         Glass of coke – CHECK (sort of—it’s missing the caffeine, but then I would like to sleep tonight. I think…)

·         Music – CHECK

·         Writing exercise – not yet

While it’s fun to just sit down and write cold, it usually works better when you have an idea. And since I sort of have an idea, I can almost just begin. But tonight I decided I would dig through some of my writing tools (since I have a lot—as in so many I will probably never use them all (unless I move to a cabin in the woods with no TV, XBOX, or internet and only have my computer, music, candles, and a year’s supply of Coke Zero then I could probably get through them. Well, maybe I’d need more than a year’s supply of Coke; let’s go with 3 years. Also, I don’t know how well I’d do with people around. Maybe only on weekends I could see my husband? Also, in this fantasy/alternate reality I don’t have kids yet. Clothes would be optional and I’d still be able to go for walks and jogs out in the woods (I think I would wear clothes for that part, though), and I’d swim regularly in the lake that my cabin would be beside. Hmm, and maybe it could have mountains, too. With mountain lions. But not mean ones, friendly ones. And they’d stop by for visits and I’d feed them dry cat food (sometimes mixed in with the wet stuff, I suppose) so I could get in a bit of a cat cuddle without my allergies acting up too badly. Yeah, that could work. Also, I think I’d want a dog that takes care of itself and only comes to visit me when I’m on breaks. And also, this dog doesn’t shed. I’ll call her Kamme. Ooh! And we can run together, and go for swims, and howl at the moon together. No, just kidding. I wouldn’t howl at the moon, I’d probably just make faces at it…Hmm, I already miss my husband, though. Sure, I’m having a good time with Kamme and my mountain lions, but I think I’d need to see Ryan more often than on weekends. And my step-daughter, I’d miss her too much. But no distractions other than that. And I wouldn’t mind it being dark a lot so that I could use my candles more often, but not all the time, because I don’t want to get depressed due to lack of sunlight. So, maybe I should move to Nunavit or Yukon? I’m sure they pay well up there. As long as there aren’t vampires, unless I get to have magic powers and my mountain lion friends can save me regularly from them. Yup, I think this could work. Yeah, then I really do think I would get through all of my writing tools (Ha! I bet you thought I forgot what I was originally talking about! Take that, non-multi-tasker/tangent –talkers!) Now I have some parenthesis to close (Two should do it. Plus this one.))).

OK, well, I might have just got my writing exercise in after all.

What I was going to say was that I will choose one of my books, pick the topic for today’s date and write for all of your reading pleasure. Maybe I still will!

September 21: “Write a daydream.”

Ha! That's awesome! I can honestly say that I did not look at the topic before I began babbling about life with mountain lions and living in an awesome cabin in the North West Territories or Alaska. Honest. That just means less writing.


·         Writing Exercise – CHECK

Sweet, now that I’m done, I can go watch TV or play XBOX. Awesome.
For as long as I can recall, my parents (most adults in my life, for that matter) tried to instil fear into my brother, sister, and me in regards to strangers.

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

“Don’t take candy from strangers.”

“Don’t take rides from strangers.”

“An adult should never ask a child for directions—if they do, they are trying to steal you! RUN!”

OK, so the last one was kind of paraphrased, but you get the idea. Safety is important to parents. Sure, my sister and I once got a ride to school with a stranger. Mind you, my older, but not always brighter, sister was convinced it was the grandma of our cousins driving the car (obviously not the one we’re related to—she’s thick, but she’s not that thick!).  Even though I knew I had never laid eyes on this sweet old lady in my life, I trusted my big sister to guide me to safety. Luckily, this kind old grandmother (assuming she’s someone’s grandma) took us the few blocks to school through the blizzard safely and did not try to steal us.

We were lucky. Was my mom upset? Of course not—she believed my sister that it was Mrs. umm, well, I actually forget her name, but whatever.
I knew it wasn’t, and we later discovered upon seeing the real woman that the lady in front of us was not the one driving the white car (a staple of grandparents—the non-descript white car. Also a staple of rapists and child molesters—the non-descript white van…hmm. Just an observation.).

Like a good parent, when we had to tell my mom that I was wrong (nice big protective sister, huh?) about the carpool episode, my mother was annoyed, but thankful we were all right. She didn’t yell, she didn’t resort to violence, she just hugged us and knew that we wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

Unlike my mother, I am not a very good child. I would really like to resort to violence (not literally, of course, I would just figuratively like to smack my mum upside the head!). This morning I got a facebook message from my wonderful, over-protective, safety-obsessed mother. It wasn’t a private message, either. It was the classic on-your-wall sort of chit-chat that you’d expect from an acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in forever who just wants to wish you happy birthday or something because FB told them it was your birthday.

“Hi Rachel! Dad and I are staying at the such-and-such Hotel in blankety-blank, state goes here. If you need to reach us, our number is 9-random-digits, room something-or-other. Miss you!”

Really Mom? You are going to share your personal information with everyone? You realize you just told the internet that you are on vacation—as in AWAY FROM YOUR HOME! I must say, I am a little surprised she didn’t take out an ad in the Free Press, being of the newspaper generation rather than online media. I suppose she was trying to be “hip”? “Down with the kids”?

Hmph. Some people’s parents.

The only redeeming aspect about her statement is in the knowledge (which potential burglars don’t know, by the way!) that my brother still lives at home. And they have a good alarm system which was put in after their garage was recently broken into and her bike was stolen. (I don’t remember if she tweeted that she keeps her bike in the garage—I’ll have to check my history…)

Mother, mother, mother. What am I going to do with you?

On the plus side, at least she no longer keeps her spare key and the passcode to their alarm system under a welcome mat. It’s been moved to under the flowerpot. Wait, that better be a joke—my parents can’t be that dim, can they?
Yes, I know it’s not fall just yet, but the last several rainy days, you’d never know.

The summer has really thrown me for a loop. There have been plenty of unanticipated surprises—an unexpected pregnancy (not mine—still not pregnant, which I’m OK with...sort of.), the loss of another baby, new friendships beginning, old friendships ending, death (it was my car, but it still counts; my poor, poor baby Ben), life (that would be my new red Pontiac baby Liam), and a slew of other things. I could talk about one marriage ending, while another new love is just beginning (again, not mine; Ryan and I are doing great!), but I’d rather not revel in the past. I want to look to the future.

So I won’t tell you that I didn’t exactly do my best at keeping up with my blog this summer. Trust me, I’m quite aware of it. What I will tell you, is that September is my time for new beginnings. Already, early this morning, I’ve been faced with a temptation that I’ve overcome (I know it’s barely after 6 am, but I was out and about shopping this morning at 5 am, so humour me if you will), and I’m actually really proud of myself.

 It’s a good start to a great month.

It’s great because my grandpa will be celebrating his 91st birthday in two weeks. I’ll be celebrating my four-year anniversary in nine days. In ten days, my current favourite baby, Skyla, will be turning one. (I only say my current favourite because she is the only one I regularly spend time with—and also she’s soooo adorable! Look out infant boys, we’ve got a hottie in the making! (That’s not creepy if I say that, right? Because she will totally be gorgeous—she already is.)) My in-laws will be celebrating their 35th anniversary near the end of the month. And also, we’re close to October, which means my birthday. And Halloween.

But enough rambling.

This is September. It’s a new school year (even though I’m not in school right now). A time to start fresh. A time to be a better parent, a better wife, a better friend, and a better person.

And also, I’ve just discovered audio books on my MP3 player—which means more multi-tasking. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve just saved. Yay!