Did I say that out loud?

Thoughts and musings of a mom

Resolutions Version 2017

Every year, I try my darn tootin’ hardest to create a new and astonishing list of resolutions that will rock my world.  And every year, I put more effort into creating the list than I do actually keeping any of them.  Whatever.  So, without further ado, I present to you Christy’s New Year’s Resolutions Version 2017.

1) Eat clean.  Wait!  I already eat clean.  I wash my hands right before I eat half a box of KD.  Therefore, I eat clean.  I am so going to crush this.

2) Convince Ganong’s Chocolate Factory that they should bring back the vanilla cream drop chocolates that they used to carry in their Red Wrap box.  In the words of Sinead O’Connor, nothing compares to you.  I do not have a plan of action for this endeavor yet, but stay tuned.  

3) Make sure I always have soap in my soap dish, clean underwear in my drawer(s), and 400 rolls of toilet paper stockpiled in my basement.  I usually do ok here, but when a girl’s got to wear her Wednesday undies on a Monday, it may be the equivalent of not forwarding on those chain letters that your great aunt Gertrude emails you 5 times a day because she just got the internet and her first email account (in other words, unnecessary certain doom).

4) Read more.  This means, of course, that I may need to not binge watch British detective programs on Netflix so much.  I know reading will make me a much smarter person, but so will throwing in a few British phrases occasionally into conversation.  Hey mate, I’m so knackered because I haven’t slept in a fortnight (my luck, I probably just swore and didn’t realize it).

5) Stop putting 2 spaces after every period when I type.  Who am I kidding?  I.  Just.  Can’t.  Do.  It.

6) Give up my magazine subscriptions. Contrary to what I believe, I will not be less of a Canadian if I don’t read Chatelaine and Canadian Living every month.  

7) Have more company over.  My husband and I used to be really good at this.  Now we suck.  I think people still like us, but we need to make the time for this.

8) Incorporate as many song lyrics into everyday conversation as I can (without getting fired or divorced) because deep down, don’t you all believe that life needs a soundtrack?  

9) Get the front step stained.  We’ve lived here for over 8 years.  It’s time.  Enough said.

10) Eat all of the contents of my freezer.  The stockpile needs to be depleted.  Anyone up for a few turkey dinners, served with a side order of hamburgers and something that may have been shot in someone’s back yard (legally)?

Of course, I’ll work on being a real healthy, kind and all around wonderful person too in 2017.  But hey!  Rome wasn’t built in a day….or a year.  Or least, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t.

Oh, and I’d really like to sing backup for Meghan Trainor…you know, if these other resolutions don’t work out so well.

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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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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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You’ll be home soon

Tears were beginning to flow down her cheeks.  I hugged her.  Tightly enough to let her know that I love her, but not enough for her to know that I really just wanted to take her back home with me.  I saw the anxiety wash over her, as she listened to the other girls’ chatter, refusing to look in their direction.  Eyes fixed on me, pleading.  Her words whispered, her stomach knotted.

Maybe she wasn’t ready for this.  Maybe neither of us were.

But this would be a good thing.  A weekend winter camp would be a great introduction for her, just two days separated from mom and dad, far less than an entire week in the summer.

So here I sit tonight, praying that pure exhaustion washes over her and allows her to sleep through the night, away from her mother’s safe and warm embrace.  Knowing that tomorrow is a new day, and that the next time darkness falls, she will be snuggled in tight beside her mother, trying desperately to vividly recall every moment of her newfound independence.

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Location, location, location

I have this incredibly annoying habit of allowing others to rent out too much space in my head. It’s not like they care to be there, and in fact, they probably don’t even realize that they have such a fabulous rental property. Folks, it really is all about location.

There have been several renters in my head throughout the years. Some have made the news lines on CNN, while others try to live more quietly in more spacious surroundings out of the spotlight. But somehow, each one of these renters have quietly snuck into my head, and occupied it for far too long, wearing out their welcome.

Each situation is different. But every time, I do the exact same thing. I allow their perceived trash to pile up inside my head until I make it my own. I mull over it, picking up each piece and seek to find the mistakes. Many imaginary conversations take place in my rental property, and in them, I am the winner, the righter of the wrongs, the giver of “necessary” advice, the judge.

Eventually, I open my mouth and I begin to complain about my occupants. Maybe not outright at first, but a knowing look, a rolling of the eyes, a snide comment, a tinge of sarcasm. Sometimes a brazenness follows and the words spill out, the words themselves not necessarily nasty or hurtful, but the tone, the casualness, and the implications are all there. Laying there, pained and prideful.

But eviction notices must be served. I need to take each unwanted occupant, throw them out of my head. Yet, not out onto the streets. No, I need to send them to my heart, where I know, with prayer and patience, because it really is me who has the obstacles, they will change ME for the better.

And then, when I’m ready, I will move on.

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Somewhere down the road

This weekend my husband and I went to a beautiful outdoor wedding. The weather was perfect for the end of September, with just the right amount of warmth from the sun and light breeze for the occasion. The festivities were set right on the water, with the guests sitting on wooden benches nestled amongst the trees beside the winding path down to wedding altar.

The gorgeous bride was in the youth group my husband and I ran many moons ago, as were her sisters and friend who were three of the five bridesmaids. The minister was my husband’s best man in our own wedding 18 years ago, and his wife was my first roommate in university. This all made for a delightful afternoon of reminiscing and celebrating the future.

If I were to segment my life into different periods, I think I would do so based on the places I have lived throughout my time on this earth. The period lines would be somewhat blurred as well, as at times, I have travelled only a few miles up the road to live in a different dwelling. We have lived in our current home, having moved 30 minutes into town, for just 6 short years. As newly weds, we had lived double that amount of time in the small community in the area where we attended the wedding.

On the way back home from the festivities, we took a little detour, looping around where we used to live. The big, old red house had changed. It was not the same as when we lived there. Landscaping was being completed and renovations were changing the blueprint of the house we used to call our home, our first home, the home where we brought both of our daughters after they were born.

We also drove by our former neighbour’s house. It was empty now as she had recently passed away, and her husband 6 years prior. They were dear friends to my husband and I as we were just starting out on our new adventure of home ownership and parenthood. Many an evening we walked down to their house, made ourselves at home at their kitchen table, delighting in her cooking and his stories. And oh, the stories that were told. The true gift of hospitality.

We also stopped by two other neighbours’ houses to discuss the nearly completed moose season and the upcoming deer season. Both homes of the parents of former youth group members. More memories of Friday evenings spent in the gymnasium in the local elementary school. Youth, freshness, laughter, love, and a longing to draw each of them closer to God.

Changing gears in our conversation, on our way home, I chatted with my husband of a funeral we had attended a couple years ago. The man had been a mentor and confidante to my husband in those years. He knew what life was like for us when we were first married and for my husband previous to our marriage, as we tried to forge ahead through years of youth ministry. As I sat in the church that afternoon, I was overcome with emotion as people walked in for the funeral service.

People from those years sat down, sang, listened to the words of reflection, grieved and celebrated a man whose life was a testament to his dedication to his family and God. I had looked around and saw some of the same faces I thought would some day be at my own funeral, if I were so lucky. I grieved at the loss of this man, but also the timeframe in which these people were all encapsulated. I wanted to go back and relive the happy moments just for a little bit, and hold onto them tightly.

But I know time goes on. We grow older. And so does everyone around us. Circumstances change. We roll with it. Jobs change and babies are born. More tears. More laughter. There is death. There is life.

Sometimes I long for those days that seemed longer and less hurried. At times, I grieve for those days, those moments, those celebrations, even the routines.

There are moments I regret in my 40+ years on this earth, but not the houses and communities we made home. I have made mistakes. Each has been a lesson learned. And each new period brings me quietly to the next, watching our own children growing up now, watching their futures unfold.

Even as I stray, God has guided me on this road.

This road just 30 minutes into town.

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Why I’m not wearing new fancy shoes to school today

The good Lord above blesses us with intuition. Sometimes we listen to it, and sometimes we don’t. Unfortunately, this is a story about how I didn’t.

This weekend my daughter asked me if I wanted to go for a bike ride with her. Not incredibly in the mood for a whimsical trip around the neighbourhood, and knowing we had company coming over, I stated that I did not. I did relent though when she asked me immediately afterwards if I would go play with her and her new skipping toy that she had just purchased at Walmart that afternoon.

As I sat on my front steps and watched my daughter try out her skipper/skipping toy/ankle chewer, I thought to myself, I could do that. It had been a few years, but I knew I still had it in me. Just put the circle con-TRAP-tion thing around my ankle, swing it around in some kind of centrifugal force type manner and hope for goodness sake, I can jump over the attached rope and ball. You get the picture.

I should have known when I couldn’t get the loop on my ankle without taking off my shoe first that it was a mistake. But did I stop myself? A big resounding no.

I also should have stopped when a nearly audible voice told me that I could break my ankle with this device. But did I listen? Heck, no!

Well, my daughter and I took a couple turns each. I was trying to be fair, but I was getting pretty good at this. We had even brought the toy out onto the street because it was more difficult to do in the grass, our driveway had just been sealed and the street was very quiet at the time.

So, on my final (and I mean final) attempt with this destructor, I was doing really well, and even promised my daughter that I would give it right back afterwards. Visions of kicking it old school were running through my head, pre-electronics, kids playing out on the street, an impromptu street hockey game between the dads and the kids. A real Norman Rockwell painting. I think I even heard a choir singing in the background.

And then gravity and all of the other creative forces of nature screeched in, interrupting my little poorly-timed daydream.

I looked down and saw my left foot step and roll over on the darn ball, plummeting me to the pavement, in an embarrassing fall. I wasn’t completely flat out, but decided that for dramatic effect (and maybe even for safety’s sake), I had better lie down the rest of the way. I didn’t hear a snap or crunch, but there I was lying on the street, so I figured I had better get my daughter to go retrieve my husband, the paramedic, from the house to assist me.

My daughter didn’t race to go get him as quickly as I thought her little body could carry her, so she had to be told a couple of times to go get him. A deep, hoarse whisper rose from the depths of my soul and she finally got the memo. Note to self, practice kid’s response time when mom is giving orders while lying in the middle of the street.

But I must say, my husband’s response time was much quicker. He immediately came out of the house and came to my side, bending down and trying to help me up off of the street. He told me later that because I wasn’t screaming in agony, he actually took me a bit more seriously. Make another note to self, remember that in the future, but use it for good and not evil. And for the rest of you reading this, if my husband is your paramedic, he’s going to take you more seriously if you’re not screaming bloody murder after your arm has been cut off.

While attempting to walk up my driveway though, I realized that I was going to faint. I’m a fainter. I admit it. I lost all pride decades ago in this department. I faint at the sight of needles, I faint at the talk of needles, I faint while getting a needle, I faint while someone else is getting a needle. I even almost faint just thinking about a needle. In fact, this paragraph is making me woozy. But apparently now I faint while trying to hobble with a sore ankle in my driveway, as my husband gives me direct paramedic orders to keep on going.

I made it though, all the way to my front steps, with a little tough love from my husband. Ok, I also admit, I’m a really bad patient. Although there was that time I had my wisdom teeth pulled, and I think I was pretty funny that day. And then of course, there was that other time when I was in the midst of giving birth to my second child, when the intern told me that HE knew what I was going through. He learned a new lesson that day, so yeah, I’m not always a bad patient. But pretty close.

Back to the story, and under my husband’s orders, I regained my composure out on the front steps. With his assistance I made it to the recliner in our living room and positioned myself there for the majority of the evening. I made a quick Facebook status about my embarrassing fall and found out that most of my neighbours were away at that time, and that there was no video footage of it floating around cyberspace.

The next day my foot continued to swell and some bruising appeared. I continued to elevate, ice and rest for most of the day. I even learned how to use crutches. I would have posted a picture of my foot, but to be quite frank, I wouldn’t have made a foot model prior to this occurrence, so I saw no need of putting you through that. And by the time I had proper lighting for a quick shot, it would be another day of not shaving my legs, so ah, yeah, not going to happen.

This brings me to today, our final day of summer vacation, and I’m left sitting in my recliner, continuing to ice and elevate my foot. I’m happy (ok, maybe not happy, more like, pleased) to report that I can put on a pair of shoes (they really won’t fit in our dress code for work tomorrow), and I actually walked across the lawn without any crutches. Tonight I will practice internal wincing just in case a 5 year old accidentally steps on my feet tomorrow in eager anticipation of their first day of kindergarten.

So here is what I have learned from this particular episode of The Life and Times of Christy Terris Hoyt…
1) I’m not 12 anymore. Nor am I 22. Who am I kidding? I’m not even 32.
2) When the good Lord above tells me that I might break my ankle while playing with a skipping toy/ankle chewer, I will listen and actually heed the warning next time.
3) Oh, and when my husband brings home crutches from his parents’ place three weeks prior to the above-mentioned incident, I won’t question him and tell him that we can easily pick up a pair from the Red Cross. Thankfully, he listened to his intuition.

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Fill me

I sat on the beach with my luggage propped up beside me. Each suitcase was carefully placed, snugly tucked together, just in case I felt I needed to add another one to the pile. I watched as the tide came in, sitting beyond it’s reach, never going near the water, fearful of being pulled into its ebb and flow.

Over the years, I had filled each suitcase with sand, hoping that no one would notice the uselessness of each package. The sand was almost comforting, always present, but yet, weighing me down.

I knew I would have to unpack each suitcase eventually. The water was advancing, coming closer. But I was unwilling to budge, perhaps even stuck.

I saw a man walk towards me. He was mindful of the rising tide, but had a steady eye on me and my luggage. I could tell he wasn’t there to judge me, but he somehow knew what I had in each suitcase. He wasn’t a tourist though, someone only there for a short visit.

And then he sat down beside me. I knew what he wanted without even speaking a word. He wanted me to unpack my suitcases, each and every one of them.

I told him that I couldn’t.

But he beckoned me to begin with just one. Slowly, as time passed, I realized, with his assistance, guidance and gentle persistence, that I was unzipping the suitcases, taking off the covers, the contents cascading onto the beach surrounding me.

As I came to each new suitcase though, I hesitated, and lowered my head. The exercise was tiring and time consuming. And hard. Bandages were being ripped off of old wounds.

I looked around me. Suitcases once stuffed full with jealousy, pride, slothfulness, insecurity, anxiety, rejection and anger were slowly spilling out. Time and time again, I tried to scoop some of the sand back into the suitcases, fearful of each package being completely emptied out, for all to see its bitter pieces. But time and time again, he took my hands and heart, patience written all over his face.

Gradually I realized that although my luggage was being depleted of its contents, my heart was filling. Peace, contentment, reassurance, and security enveloped me. The tide was lapping near our feet, but all was well with my soul.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
Isaiah 43:2a

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