New podcast: Where have I been and a reflection on kinship

Hey everyone! Long time no podcast!

Yesterday my husband took our teenage daughter out on a movie date and I took the opportunity to record a new podcast. I rarely record when my husband and teens are in the house because someone always crashes into the room I’m using to tell me something wholly irrelevant to the topic I’m discussing. Like “I’m going to bed” or “Can I have gas money.” I guess this is where the dedicated studio with the “On Air” light came from. At some point my dishwasher sounds like I’m flushing a toilet but otherwise the sound quality is half-decent.

In this podcast, I reflect on the nature of crowdfunding and why I don’t feel comfortable charging my patrons for the quality of product I’m releasing. There is an awkward-teenager phase to growing a blog or a podcast where you make some money but not enough to hire help, learn a new skill, or buy better equipment, let alone leave your day job. The result is something that should sound professional — because I am paid for it — but doesn’t.

The question I had to ask myself as a creator was: “Is the forward momentum of my blog and website strong enough to justify pushing through the awkward-teenager phase?” Does the trajectory of my podcast  suggest that I will someday earn an income and build a professional presence on the web? To me, the end goal of having patrons is not to support my hobby, it’s to make writing and podcasting my profession. The money I am currently squeezing out of my patrons doesn’t allow me to move out of the hobby realm into the professional realm, and the trajectory of my crowdfunding efforts doesn’t suggest that it will for another 4 years. That’s way too long to expect my early supporters to humour me.

In the second part of the podcast, I talk about a trip to France I made last summer with three of my children. I reflect on the ties that bind us to our kin, despite time and distance, and the importance of building a strong family culture and identity.


Sunset Ceremony: Life in Ottawa

I mentioned in a previous post that the heroism in raising a large family is not always the endless march of chores (although it is relentless) but the ability to stop, breathe and do anything else than laundry, cooking and cleaning. When the children were younger… Let me rephrase that… When my older children were younger and we only had 4, we would go for hikes in the Gatineau Park, attend free family events in the Capital, visit museums, organize camping trips and get-togethers with friends. Since the fifth child, and even more since the sixth, we stopped doing anything but driving, cooking, cleaning… and oh, moving a few times too.

This week, my oldest daughter asked if we could attend the Sunset Ceremony at the RCMP musical ride headquarters. Once a year, the RCMP Musical Ride puts on a free show in Ottawa before leaving on their summer tour. Attending requires some wit as parking is limited and the best seats go quickly. We prefer to park at the Aviation Museum and walk 15 minutes (adult pace). Ideally, we would bring lawn chairs and a picnic and camp there no later than 6:00-6:30. The show ends at sunset with the lowering of the Canadian flag. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Canadian culture and heritage and to teach the children about flag etiquette (because you know… more culture is better than less.) “Yes, every flag has to be lowered at sunset and put away.” “Yes, even the flag hanging off the neighbour’s front porch…”

This year, we were treated to a performance by the Canadian Sky Hawks, complete with wind change and crowd landing. I ended-up under a Sky Hawk parachute on Canada Day as a child. Memories… Now I watch the size of their boots and the speed of their descent and shudder.That being said, I was giddy as a little girl this week as we waited for the Hercules to drop its high performing cargo. I told my daughter: “There’s a fascinating mix of anal retentiveness and recklessness: they have to be obsessive about their kits and jump drills, yet they jump off a plane and do unnatural stunts with a parachute.” I could never take that step off the Hercules.

Road trip!!!

Whoa! I haven’t posted since April 28th? I may have had excuses… Like a sick toddler, followed by a sick baby, extreme sleep deprivation and preparing for a short-fused move. Yes, we are moving. Packing-up. Vacating.

We are listing our house. Preparing to put it on the market. It’s a long story and I am thinking of starting another blog to chronicle this new turn in our family’s life. But in a nutshell this is a positive change in our life. We love our current house and especially our large-family-sized kitchen and backyard but life is about more than kitchens and backyards, isn’t it?

On the bright side, we are moving into a rental property which means that we have the luxury to move out before listing our house. If you know anything about real estate, you are probably attacking your keyboard to tell me that empty houses are harder to sell than full ones, to which I reply “Don’t forget how many children I have”.

Trying to pack a house with three very young children underfoot has been an exercise in frustration. I get a box started. Assuming I find the tape-gun, I start filling it up. Then the babies wake-up. 2 hours later, it’s time to pick-up the kids from school. When I return to my box, the children have found their most favorite (book, shoes, top, toy) EVER and the content of the box are strewn across Hell’s half-acre.

When my husband and I started to talk about listing our house I said: “You realize that you will move us essentially on your own.” He said yes. I meant it.

Needing a break from doing something slightly nutty (moving a family of 10 with infant twins), I decided to do something quintessentially normal: take my two daughters to a sports competition 700 km away. I couldn’t leave my husband alone with the twins and the toddler to pack-up the house, so I brought everybody, along with my mother for supplemental handy-womanry. For a woman like me, even “quintessentially normal” ends-up slightly nutty.

Pit Stop on the Four-oh-One. Met another Ottawa mother traveling with twins and her parents. We were both all business and we let the proud grandparents do the chatting.

It’s when I do “normal” that I realize how abnormal I am. I go to the hotel pool and I’m the only parent in the water. I look at the other parents sitting together poolside and I can see those I know telling those I don’t know that I have 8 children and the youngest are twins. I can see it by the look on people’s face, a mix of disbelief and contempt. As we return to our room to dry-up and change, I notice several families leaving together for supper or meeting to order pizza. Back to my room, I told my mother:

I don’t think people even realize that I would like to be included.  I think that although I see myself as a normal person with more children than most, people see me as abnormal, different, and are either intimidated or not interested.

To which my ever-wise mother replied: “Véronique, you are not normal.” Here I was, at a sports competition 6 hours away from home, with “only” 5 children, two of them babies, one of them running a fever, when most people can’t even imagine themselves with 3. Back home, my husband “only” had 3 children and was having a blast packing-up the house. If moving is ranked as one of life’s top 5 stressful experiences, someone should talk to my husband: without the three youngest, moving was positively restful! (Worry not I have since returned with my sick infant, my restless toddler and the other, quieter, baby and any rest that may have been felt has now been annihilated).

“We went to Toronto but all I saw was the canopy on my car seat” — Eve & Lucas

I’m glad we went. I may have mixed feelings about the wisdom of trying to pull “normal” stunts with my abnormal gang but it all went over  my athletes’ heads: they were thrilled to be there with their coach and their teammates. They were even spared the pediatric car ride, being given the opportunity to drive up and back with a friend.

“Present!” (the one in the gym suit is not the one competing. But she has the fire all right!)
Celebrating a strong showing — level 5 daughter placed in all her events — with late lunch. OK, we would have had lunch even without the prizes. But she got to choose where!
And here is our Level 5 star!
Turning heads in friendly Burlington!
Our Level 4 athlete was competing at 6 pm. Of course, we all got a bit tired.
Hairdo malfunction: the braids flew in her face during her beam routine.
The best part of the weekend was shopping the bargain leotard bin with her sisters. Gym suits are great to play street hockey too!