Did I say that out loud?

Thoughts and musings of a mom

What won’t you touch with a 10-foot pole?

​Recently, I’ve been reading through the book, 642 Things to Write About.  I bought it a couple years ago, thinking it would be a quick way to capture some new ideas for writing.  Oddly enough, the following topic spoke to me.  I’m not sure what this says about me.  Ok, yes, I do.  I have my issues.  We all do.  Here are mine. 

What won’t you touch with a 10-foot pole?

Worms – I tried to read How to Eat Fried Worms when I was a kid, and ever since, the sight of worms makes my stomach turn.  Rainy days on a paved driveway are painful.

Olives – Satan, himself, grows these in hell.

Dandelion stems – I learned (the hard way) that they can create perfectly round dark circles on light coloured clothing and you can never tell they are there until after the clothing has gone through the dryer.  They’re like the freaking crop circles of the laundry room.

Climbing the professional ladder – I am incredibly happy in my current position and have no interest leaving the (kindergarten) classroom.  Now that being said, if I was given the opportunity to rule my portion of the world for a day, I may need to take a leave of absence from my current position.  

A syringe – Biggest.  Phobia.  Of.  My.  Life.  No.  Pride.  Left.  In fact, if I don’t change the topic quickly enough here, I may pass out (that’s an entirely different blog post…list the various places where I have passed out…and just a heads up, cement is not always your friend).

Plastic vampire teeth – Just looking at them make my teeth sore.  In fact, thinking about them right now, makes my gums ache.  I am getting better in this area though.  Even real wiggly teeth used to make me cringe.  Teaching Kindergarten has helped me with this.

Cigarettes – I was only slightly tempted in grad school because you have to have some kind of vice when you are in grad school.  Now that I think of it, my real vice in grad school was licor….ice.  Seriously, I really should have dedicated my thesis to red licorice.

Royalty – If I touch any of them with a pole, I am most likely going to spend the night in jail.  I suppose I would find out the hard way if there is such a thing as a castle dungeon.

Boiled icing recipe – I refuse to learn how to make it for fear that I would spread it on my toast every morning for breakfast.  And then I would be late(r) for work every day because who can leave boiled icing left over in the fridge?  Another piece of toast, anyone?

Down hill skiing – I’ve said for a while now that my personal version of hell would be for me to be forced to downhill ski all day.  And each time, I finally made it to the bottom of the hill, I would have to eat a bottle of olives.  And yes, I know, I live just around the corner from the slopes. 

Ok, so there you have it, folks.  That’s my current list.  In time, I’m sure I could find some more items to add to this list.  And in the meantime, maybe I’ll make a list of items that I wouldn’t touch with a shorter pole.

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The little brown bird

I stood at the front of the room, waiting for their answers.  Each reply was true to tradition.  A witch.  A superhero.  A princess.

And then the tiniest student in the room softly spoke her quiet response to the annual question of what each child was going to dress as for Halloween. 

A little brown bird.

No flash.  No pizaaz.  No bright lights or dynamic colours.  Just a simple little brown bird.  A breath of fresh air on a day that places value on the extremes.

Years from now, will we remember the little brown bird?  Or will we only reflect back on the outstanding, the attention seekers, the more obvious depictions of that day?  

And do we live our lives as the simple little brown bird? 

Or are we the posh princess, making demands, desiring the necessity of others to fulfil our wishes? Are we the wicked witch, making life miserable for others, seeking to make others look bad for our own benefit?  Or maybe the superhero who comes in with the slick costume and almighty powers just in the nick of time, saving the day?

I want to be that person who remembers the little brown bird.  That quiet one in the back row, the gentle spirit, the one who walks while others are running.  The one who doesn’t loudly announce their presence, but whose smile lights up your part of the room.

The one who is always there,  perhaps even hidden, but open to the world around them, watching like the little brown bird.

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ode to my trailer

​I miss camping and…

the scent of an open campfire 

the coolness of an ocean breeze

the closeness of family

late nights and sleeping in

freshly baked donuts just around the corner and reading novels into the wee hours of the night

listening to the waves as they crash upon the shore

open windows and shaded decks

walks after dark

fireworks lighting the evening sky

searching endlessly for beach treasures

melted marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate cookies

starlit nights and full moons over the water

the crispness of the morning and the heat of the afternoon sun

I miss the laziness of summer.

But for now, I’m going to relax here on my porcelain throne in the blessedness of my home for a few more minutes and relish in the fact that no matter how hard I try, it is impossible to wash my hands at the same time.

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Dear Walmart

 

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123 Main Street
Somewhere Hot in July 
E1E 1O1

456 Main Street
Somewhere in Head Office Land
LOL LOL

A Very Hot Day in July, 2016

Dear Walmart,

Are you trying to kill me?

I know the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the light blue duotang (which coincidently is not a real word according to Word and any other word processing program), but why do you insist on selling school supplies in July?  

My heart rate increases (ok, I admit the Heart and Stroke Foundation would probably like it to increase a bit from its current status, but this is not what they had in mind), I get all sweaty, my stomach lurches, and occasionally very bad words slip out of my mouth at the site of those pencils and paper.  Some years, I even throw up in my mouth.  Repeatedly.

Now if you camouflaged those scissors and rulers down in office supplies, where they rightfully belong, all would be well, or at least, excusable.  But no siree, you insist on placing them right out front, so there is no escaping their presence.  Yup, here’s your cart on your right and over here to your left is your brand new box of 64 crayons (which by the way, should be illegal, but that’s a whole other topic).

There should be a set beginning to the Back-to-School shopping season.  It could even be government regulated, just like hunting or fishing season.  And while we are on the topic, age restrictions would be good too (right up there with buying cigarettes and alcohol).  Here are the set days (I suggest the third week of August to the last week of September) and the age requirements (17+).  

Walmart, you could be a trend setter.  Picture it!  Keep the fans and air conditioners out front, along with the bubbles and pool supplies.  Let us live in our sunscreen and (pool) chemical(ly) induced vacation fantasy worlds a little longer.

Come on.  I’m not asking for rainbows and unicorns here, folks.  School is eventually going to begin. There’s no stopping it.  The leaves will change colour.  The air will grow cooler.  Pencils will be sharpened and zippers zippered.  But right now, while I’m dripping in sweat from some July pre-menopausal hot flash, I am not in the mood for buying school supplies.  My July pay check was meant for overpriced ice cream cones and slushies.  Sell the awesomeness of school supplies when it cooler outside, so we don’t have to try to convince our little ones that the polka dots on their light blue duotangs were made that way by the company, and not their mother’s sweat and tears dripping onto them in the shopping cart.

I am certain that we can come to a mutually agreed upon decision here.  If you are willing to meet with me to discuss this matter more fully, I can be found in the candy section of your store buying freezies at least once a week.  Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. 

And just so you know how serious this issue is, I am passing this letter along to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Don’t be surprised if you hear from them too this year regarding the early starts to their seasons.

Sincerely, 

A melting-in-July mother of 2 and teacher of many more

cc:  Santa Claus
       Easter Bunny
 

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The Let’s Be Realistic Resolutions

Fall 2015 338 COPY AWell, it’s that time of year when I should reflect on the past and look forward to the future. In my 40+ years on the face of this earth, I think I’ve had one New Year’s Resolution stick. I’m happy to report that I am a master tooth flosser, thank you very much.

So this year, I decided to create a new list of resolutions for myself. A much more doable list. No losing 136 lbs or learning to sky dive for this girl. No starting a new company, reading all of Shakespeare’s works, or traveling to exotic locations. There will no cooking with leeks, running a marathon, or learning how to speak 4 new languages.

Instead, I will….

*Shower every day. At least once. Unless of course, I’ve been really, really sick and I need a doctor’s note for work, in which case, I won’t shower because if I’m sick, I’m going to look and smell the part too.

*Never go to Walmart in my pj pants. Maybe the top under a zipped up jacket, but NEVER the pants.  This resolution does not apply to grabbing the Walmart flyers at the end of my driveway.

*Refuse to take up smoking this year. Or going to bars. Or smoking in bars.

*Give up pop. Yeah right, who am I kidding? I just discovered Cherry Coke at the Walmart.

*Always use my right hand when I am writing with a pencil. Well, because I’m right-handed.  (I suspect I will nail this one.)

*Look for new ways to incorporate cream cheese and sour cream into my cooking.

*Laugh more.  It’s the best medicine and if it keeps me out the doctor’s office smelling like I haven’t showered for a week, that works for me.  And probably my doctor.

*Try to learn to ignore certain sounds that I find incredibly annoying, even if it means I am a genius. Like gum chewing. OK, let’s be realistic. Can’t we just rid the world of gum chewing?

*Remember all of my passwords so I don’t have to create new ones every time I order pizza or buy new shoes.  Every.  Single.  Time.

*Watch more Netflix documentaries. OK, that made me laugh.

*Try to lower my blood pressure when talking about politics.  I will therefore not go into politics.  This also means I will not read the CBC/CNN comments under news articles…very often.

*Eat more fish. Like bacon wrapped scallops.

*Ride a unicorn down the street to the bank and deposit my lotto earnings into my account. OK, a girl can dream, can’t she?

 

I suppose I should make another list that will miraculously make me healthier, but in the meantime, maybe I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing, and tweak that a bit.  Or a lot.  A whole lot.  A real whole lot.

 

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25 Things I Learned this Summer 

Well, I guess summer is officially over according to the calendar. I admit I do like the routine of fall, the coolness of the shortened days, and of course, the colours. But in all seriousness, what can compare to the ease of summer? So in order to prove that I was still learning outside the confines of a classroom, I thought I would share with you what I did learn this summer. Um, things I would probably never learn in a classroom.

So here, we go. 25 things I learned this summer:

1)Museums are cool. So are national parks.

2)You can bike on a path and feel like you are going downhill both ways. I previously thought that was only possible when your parents walked to school uphill both ways in the winter.

3)One can eat too much McDonald’s. And the drive-thru staff can hear everything you’re yelling at your kids before they say, “Can I take your order, ma’am?”

4)I may actually really like VBS songs. Really.

5)I can scratch bug bites with the same addictive tendencies as that of the average 6 year old.

6)My father looks pretty good as a pirate.

Pirate

7)I am incredibly attractive….to deer flies. I’ve been calling them dog flies for years. When my daughter was a preschooler, and I asked her how she got a particular bruise, she used to tell me that a deer bit her. Now I’m thinking she must have known the correct name for these little blood sucking demons all along and just forgot to say the word fly.

8)I still do not know the real name for cupboard bugs. You know the ones…little, black, cream coloured stripes on back, found in cupboards.

9)Political ads increase my blood pressure. Deleting people who share political ads on Facebook lowers my blood pressure.  I suppose I should keep my husband on there though.

10)Occasionally a hamburger from a box tastes really good.  Really, really good.

11)Tomato soup is not always creamy. Seriously.

12)You can only hide from your boss for so long on Facebook. Eventually she will find you.  And maybe even read this.

13)Apparently people really do go to Vegas in the summer. Who knew?  I only got away as far as Halifax though.

14)I can make a pretty awesome plate of spaghetti. I still cannot eat an entire plate of spaghetti. Regardless of awesomeness.

15)I will starve before I learn to use chopsticks for their intended purpose. Of course, if I ate my McDonald’s meal with chopsticks, this could solve a lot of my problems.

16)I can let my Chatelaine subscription slide and not die. And all of the good Canadians gasped.

17)I can love my husband despite our different musical tastes. Well, I suppose I knew this before this summer, but did you know there are country songs about making bannock?

18)I can go into Butterfly World (think giant man made bubble filled with orange slices and butterflies) and not require medical assistance. Or medicinal assistance for that matters.

Butterfly World

19)There is a certain amount of satisfaction from filling up water balloons for my children and any other random child who happens to appear and allowing them to attack teenagers who thought they would have the upper hand when they saw my kids coming along.

20)A&W onion rings are from God. Olives are from satan. Ok, I knew that before this summer too.

21)Everyone should go into Cabela’s at least once in their lifetime. And Cabella’s is not the feminine form of Cabela’s, it’s just spelled wrong.

22)Collecting sea glass can an addictive sport.

IMG_0716

23)Tooth fairies take summer vacations too. And are sometimes charged interest in the meantime.

24)I still like summer camp…going there and sending my kids there.

25)Hell and humidity both begin with the letter H. Just saying.

There we have it, folks. Another list of amazing facts from a fun filled summer. Now that I’m settling back into the classroom though, I am looking forward to an amazing fall where I will learn some of the more important lessons in life from a great group of five year olds.

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As you step off the bus at school this week…

Changes Taking Place

My child,

May you seek guidance from those with true wisdom.

May you laugh where there is humour, not harm.

May you listen when someone needs your shoulder.

May you be a light to those who struggle.

May you find a peace within that radiates through you.

May you remember the difference between right and wrong.

May you fight temptations and win each battle.

May you be a blessing to those who surround you.

May you be a friend to the friendless.

May you be quiet when silence is required, but a voice when you need to be heard.

May you respond with love and a gentle strength.

May you learn of all of the beautiful things this wonderful life has to offer, but keep a childlike innocence within your heart.

May you be open to correction.

May you treasure true friendships.

May you realize that though you have the world to explore, it does not revolve around you.

May you be thankful and respectful.

May you enjoy simple moments.

May you continue to seek God.

May you know that we are always here for you as you journey through this life.

This is my prayer for you throughout the coming days. Be blessed and be a blessing. I love you.

Now rest, for tomorrow you will do great things.

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Tax Time

In honour of another tax season coming to an end, I thought I would share with you a little tale of my taxation woes.  Now before you become all concerned that I’ve been avoiding taxes for the last several years, let me tell you, no, that is definitely not the case.  Revenue Canada knows about every penny (or should I say, nickel) that we have ever earned.  In fact, most years they like to ask about it at least twice.  I swear we’ve been audited more times than our federal senators.
Several years ago, way back in the day, my husband used to complete our taxes for us by paper and pen.  The first step in the process was to go to the local post office and acquire at least 7 or 8 income tax packets.  Yes, two are really what’s necessary, but (lots of) mistakes happen. So on this one particular day, after being married for a couple years and receiving the same general return from the government each year, I figured we would be in the same boat yet again (and no, I don’t mean up the creek without a paddle).  The following is the exciting and thrilling play-by-play of my husband and I doing our taxes 90s style (more my husband, but I play a nice supporting role here, just staying out of his hair).
Husband goes upstairs to complete taxes.  I work downstairs on stuff (ok, maybe I was just watching tv, my memory is a bit foggy on that detail.  It was before we had children, so I really might have just been watching tv, it’s completely plausible).

Husband comes downstairs: “We owe $2000 to the government.”

Me: “There is no way that is true.  Go back upstairs.”

Husband retreats.  A little while later, comes back down the stairs:  “We now owe the government $500.”

Me (keeping in mind that my financial goal in life was to make over the Basic Personal Amount in one fiscal year, which the government kept raising, much to my chagrin): “Go back upstairs.”

Husband again retreats to his paper and pen, and by this point, nearby garbage can.  He comes back down the stairs for the third time.  He almost appears ready to give up: “The government now owes us nothing, we owe them nothing, we are even.”

Me (still working on something very important probably): “Go back upstairs and don’t come back down here until the government owes us something.”

(A little while later.  Insert theme music to Jeopardy here). Husband returns for the final time: “The government now owes us $2000.”

Me:  “Good, you’re done.”
Fortunately the government agreed with our final copy that was signed and mailed to them, and we received our precious return.  Now in the years since, my husband (fortunately for the sake of trees everywhere and global warming) has discovered the concept of e-file and it appears to be a less cumbersome process.
Now, looking back on it though, why would I ever question the number of audits we have received?  Things that make you go hmmm.

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Oh, Mickey, You’re So Fine…

PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_

Last week, our family went to Disney World for the first time together.  I had never been there as an adult, but went twice as a child, back in the days when there were only one or two parks.

I figured this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip (or my last once-in-a-lifetime trip to Florida) so we decided to stay on resort.  Because of this, going back and forth from the resort to the parks, involved countless bus trips.  This time gave my husband plenty of time to chat up the other tourists (he may or may not have swapped venison recipes on one trip), and me, time to reflect on our adventures.

So, without further ado, here are my top ten not-so-secret things you may or may not know about Disney World 2015.  I suspect none of these reflections will be found in any of their brochures.  Ok, I strongly suspect.  Without a shadow of a doubt.

1) You can still land a rocket on Mars safely in the Mission Space ride in Epcot with your eyes closed.  Tightly.  Without breathing.  And without your sister who bailed on you when she saw the barf bags.

2) They say it’s the happiest place on earth.  Clearly those people NEVER took children to the park for the ENTIRE day in 30 degree Celsius (or 174 degree Fahrenheit) weather.  It must have been one of those honeymooners who wore Mickey and Minnie bride and groom ears who coined that phrase.  You know the ones.  They have the coordinating Mickey and Minnie shirts too.

3) Based on my extensive research, aided by a child who MUST visit every public washroom on earth, Disney must have more working tampon dispensers than the rest of every public washroom in all of North America combined.  Either that, or no one has permanently etched a pertinent message regarding its working condition on any of them yet.

4) Talk about one stop shopping.  At the Margarita kiosk in Epcot, you can buy a margarita (thus the kiosk name) AND a bag of Doritoes.  Because, well, why not?  I know when I’m enjoying a bag of Doritoes, my first thought is always, “Man, I sure could use a margarita to wash this down with!”

5) And while, we are talking about alcohol…back to that guy who coined the phrase “happiest place on earth.”  He may have been one of the dads walking around the park, holding his beer carefully, while his wife pushed their loving bundle of joy in the rented Disney stroller in the 30 degree Celsius (or 174 degrees Fahrenheit) hot sun.

6) If you are planning on riding on one of the Disney buses to and from the resorts, keep in mind that you may need to stand up on the bus and hold on (for dear life) to the Holy Crap Handles (depending on your audience, this device may have a slightly different name).  Shave and deodorize your armpits accordingly.  Enough said.  Oh, and hold on tight, because it can become awkward really fast if you fall in between one of those lovely honeymooning couples.

7) Those big refillable Mickey cups (not to be confused with the little Mickey cups…wink, wink) should come with a warning label about developing a possible addiction to Cherry Coke after the 964th refill.

8) Eventually you just want to flush a toilet on your own.  In your own time.  When you are good and freakin’ ready.  Although you must admit, the automatic water sink feature would be a good idea in your own home.  The towel dispenser could become a little too expensive though.

9) It’s the only place on earth where you want a Mouse, or should I say, Mousekeeper (Disney word for Housekeeper) in your room.  The last time I had a mouse in my own house, I left it a tip, but it said “Snap!”  And the mouse said, “Oh, crap!”

And finally, because all good lists should have 10 points…

10) And while you are sticking around the resort, take part in the festivities that surround you there.  For instance, everyone in their lifetime should rent a four seater bicycle.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  But you’ll probably die laughing anyways.  Oh, and it’s probably not a good idea to go with the margaritas and Doritoes right before that.  Armpit hygiene optional.

But when all is said and done, even though going to Disney may be more of a trip than a vacation, there is nothing better than seeing the happiness on the face of a child (and sometimes really, really tall ones too) when they finally get to meet Mickey and experience the magic of it all.

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21 Signs You are Done with Snow

Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 135 A

When we were kids, we used to hear the stories of how our parents had to walk to school uphill both ways.  Of course, the winter version of that story included the necessary description of the height of the snow banks and how they reached the power lines.

I believe we are in the midst of one of those winters right now, although I’m fairly certain my kids’ bus only goes uphill on the way home.

So as my husband goes out to snow blow our yard after the 92nd blizzard of the year, I will stay in my cozy, warm living room, and share with you my list of why I feel (know) we now have too much snow for any earthly good.

Here are some signs you may be done with snow…

*Not one single person complains on social media that schools should be open on a snow day.

*You laugh in the face of a mere 20cm of the white stuff.  And then weep uncontrollably because it is then that you realize it will be added onto the 7328cm you already have in your front yard.

*You see a snowman at your local Weight Watchers meeting, trying to lose those extra pounds before spring.

*You believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that extra 20lb weight gain this winter, is the sole responsibility of storm chips.

Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 136

*You almost kiss the face of a hydro lineman in a gas station parking lot when you see him preparing for the next blizzard.

*Your husband is not jealous that you almost kissed the lineman.

*You could probably cancel your gym membership due to the shovel workout.

*You could probably cancel your pool membership too because when this stuff melts, you’ll have a pool.

*Upon your suggestion, your husband strongly considers wearing swim goggles outside to snow blow the driveway so he can see in the midst of the blizzard.  Then realizes, he’ll save the goggles for the pool.

*It would not surprise you if the local ski hill stays open until the long weekend in May.  Or July.

*Curtains and blinds are no longer necessary.  Ah, well, um, let’s not test that one.

*Locking your door is hardly necessary either because if an intruder can make it in, you would gladly give them your money, and maybe even a thank you card.

*School is canceled the night before.  Wearing pajamas inside out is not necessary.

*The kids know when you run water into the bathtub, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bath night.

*You will no longer refer to the winter of ’92 as the big storm to remember.

*Students can’t remember what a 5 day school week entails.

*Your kids can no longer simply build a snowman by rolling 3 snowballs.  They have to carve the poor creature out of its surroundings.

*You consider unfriending friends and family who post pictures on Facebook of them sunbathing in much warmer climates.

Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 163 A

*You consider allowing your kids to play with matches outdoors in the hopes that the snow will melt if the burning match touches the ground.

*Move over Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton….snow plow operators just took your place in the list of the most admired people in our part of the world.

And finally…

*Even your kids give up singing the Frozen soundtrack.

So obviously, the groundhog did see his shadow on February 3rd.  And your shadow.  And my shadow.  And possibly an entire village of stinkin’ groundhog shadows.  But here’s to BBQ season, which may officially begin in August, at the rate we are going this year.  I’m serving up groundhog burgers!  Join me if you can!

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