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.


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.


A little human


My youngest daughter’s favourite song lately has been Only Human by Christina Perri. She loves to belt it out from the second row in our van whenever Mommy is in charge of the music. There is a line in the song that goes like this…

I’m only human
Just a little human.

I have chuckled at this line before because in my mind, I always thought, “What was the other part? Just a little human, but a lot werewolf?”

But then one day, instead of joining my daughter for an incredibly loud duet, not necessarily enjoyed by all within the near vicinity, I really listened to her. She really is just a little human. A child.

I had always thought the song was about a relationship between a couple, where obviously this woman was not appreciated for who she was, someone who took on the weight of the world in order to keep the peace and maintain the relationship.

But then I realized that the lyrics could easily pertain to the relationship between a parent and a child. One where the parent did not see the pressures placed on their child.

This past week, my family got away for a night away, staying at a hotel. The following morning at the all inclusive breakfast, I saw a child who had a shirt on that somewhat disturbed me. On the front of the shirt was written something to the effect of “You don’t practice to play back up.”

I admit it. I normally root for the underdog. That team, competitor, player whom others just don’t think has what it takes to win first prize. That guy sitting on the bench, ready to play, ready to recite his lines. The back-up.

But there needs to be a back-up. Not everyone can or will win first prize. Not everyone is going to be on the starting lineup, get 100% on every test, meet our every expectation, aspiration and dream.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with allowing our children to play for fun, learn at a different pace, relax and enjoy their childhood. Maybe even fail at something, experience disappointment.

Now before you automatically slap a slacker parent label on me, realize this. Yes, we do practice to become better. That is how life works. Without hard work and determination, going to the starting block is pointless. And yes, there are children who thrive on being involved in every activity going, pursuing academic endeavours that go beyond the clutches of their classmates, never taking time off. But not every child is like that though.

Do we need our children to be number one all of the time, make every team, win every contest, play every sport, be in every organization, play, band, and so on and so on? No, WE don’t need it, and neither do our children. Expose your children to different activities and hobbies, but know their limits and yours.

With this new school year just around the corner, as a mother and teacher, I want my children and students to be on that starting block, working hard and learning new things. But if it takes a little longer for them to complete the race, that’s ok. They don’t need that added pressure. I want them to know that I am there for them. And if they need a time out or a break from it all, that’s ok too.

Because after all, they’re just a little human.


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What I learned in September

Recently I discovered Emily P Freeman who writes the blog Chatting at the Sky. She lists what she has learned on a monthly basis. I thought I would try it today and tell you what I have learned in my life for this month of September. Some things are profound and some of them are not. Ok, I admit, none of them are incredibly profound. Really. At all.

What I learned in September:

1) Costco had giant pots of tri-coloured fall mums for $10 this month. I need to go to Costco more often and take advantage of some of these deals. I’ve had a Costco membership for almost two years now and I don’t get there enough for my liking. I’ve had a couple conversations within the last two weeks about different items on sale there and I realized that I’ve been missing out.

September 2013 097 A

2) Kindergarten students need a lot of walking in line practice.  I teach Kindergarten and now, almost four weeks into the school year, I think we have this pretty well mastered. Don’t worry, I know we will need to practice again, I’m sure. We are still working on other things.

3) I love owls and I may need to watch this current owl obsession to keep it in check. I used an owl theme in my classroom this fall, and I have a feeling it’s going to creep into my home very soon, one owl at a time.

4) Allowing my youngest child to order off of the regular menu in a local family restaurant, rather than from the children’s menu, could be the death of our family eating out. Although, this could be the beginning of a good thing for the family budget. But in the meantime, I suspect there may be tears involved.

5) There is a reason for the ratio chart on the box of rice. Too much water and time equals a disgusting supper that my oldest described as tasting like compost. Not that she has ever eaten compost, but she has an active imagination.

Well, that is it for this month. Here’s hoping I learn new things in October. Maybe even something profound.

Visit Chatting at the Sky to see what others have learned this month.