Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How My Christmas Tree Mirrors My Life

Yesterday one of the boys in my class gave me a craft foam Christmas tree ornament for my tree. He decorated it with sequins and glitter glue. I went to him later in the day and asked him to put his name on the back of it.

I see a lot of Christmas trees in the malls, at friends and at family's houses and I have to say, my tree is truly unique.

There is no rhyme or reason to my tree. There is no colour scheme. There is no (identifiable) theme. It is not uniform. It is pure chaos, eclectic and disorganized - much like my day to day life.

But there's a secret. There is a theme to my tree (hence 'identifiable' being in brackets) My tree represents my life.

Once upon a time there was a colour scheme and sophistication to my tree. But over the years those ornaments have been replaced. There's the teddy bears that represent the first Christmas Sean and I spent together. There is the Baby's First Christmas for all three kids. There are about 10 Simpson's ornaments - all Sean's. There's my Rudolph one.  Next summer when I go to the Ex I'm stopping at the booth in the arts and craft building and getting my Leg Lamp ornament and Ralphie dressed as a 'pink nightmare' ornament (if you don't get the reference....A Christmas Story - best Christmas movie ever....go rent it!! NOW!!)

I also have no less than 20 ornaments given to me by kids over the years. Yes, I keep them all. And they all have the names of the kids who made them and the date.  My oldest one is an upside down, snowman star ornament that was given to me by a girl named Ashley in 1994. Yep, I still have it.

It might not be pretty, it might not be sophisticated (much like me!) and you will never see my tree in Better Homes and Gardens but my tree has meaning ..... every single square inch is a memory...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Social Experiments

On Saturday night I drove to a bus shelter on a busy corner. I put the Tim Hortons gift card along with a note saying something to the effect of "You've just received a random act of kindness. Please enjoy a coffee (or hot chocolate or tea) on me. Have a great day and please, pass the kindness on." in an envelope and taped it to the bus shelter. I wrote OPEN ME with a smiley face on the envelope.

Two hours later it was still there.

All day Sunday....it was still there.

This morning when I drove to work, it was still there....AND....there were two people standing at the bus stop.

This afternoon when I came home from work it was gone...finally. I hope whoever found it appreciated it.

I have to wonder why it took so long for it to be taken. It's a busy bus stop, that's why I chose it. And yet it sat there unclaimed for a full day plus more. Are people afraid to open things that say Open Me?
I guess, if it were me standing in the bus stop I'd be thinking...hmmm....where's the camera? Allen Funt is long dead but there are all kinds of other 'candid camera' style shows on. I'd be wondering who was watching...I'm not sure I'd open an envelope taped to a bus shelter.

I'm thinking next month I'll try something similar. This time I'll try a new place and see how long it takes for it to be taken.

An interesting social experiment to say the least.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

I have an online friend who's darling son, Kaelen, was born sleeping last year. 
A few days ago she sent an email to her friends and family explaining that she doesn't want his Christmas stocking to hang empty this year. So she's asked that everyone commit one random act of kindness in his memory and email the details to her. She will print them out, stuff them into his stocking and on Christmas morning she and her family will sit around and read about all the goodness done in her sons name.

Take a minute to wipe the tears...you'd have to be a cold hearted hag to not be moved by the thought.

Naturally I'm going to participate and have already begun.

I got to thinking the other day on my way to work though - why do we only do these things around the holidays or in the memory of someone who's died. Why are we not doing these things all the time, just because.

So, I've decided I am going to. I'm going to commit at least one random act of kindness every month. It might not be huge - perhaps paying the coffee of the person in line behind me at Timmies. I am hoping that I can do bigger ones too - I'm not sure what yet but I'll think of something.

Anyhow, this month, and in memory of Kaelen, I've bought a $5 Tim Hortons card. I'm going to tape it to a bus shelter with a note for whoever finds it, wishing them a pleasant day and hoping they'll pass the kindness on.  I thought about just passing it to the person behind me in line at Tim's but it doesn't seem random enough. And while it would be nice to see the persons reaction, I kind of think it will be nice to just imagine it. I know that the few times I've been lucky enough to have someone anonymously pay for my coffee it's really made my day. I hope this makes someone's day too. 

And it's good for the soul.

So I'm encouraging you all too  - you'll feel great  - and if the only reason you're doing it is to lift yourself up - it doesn't really matter - because in the end you're probably going to make someone smile.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent wreaths and birthday cake

Monday is the start of Advent (the Christian beginning of the Christmas season - not to be confused with the end of Thanksgiving/Christmas tree displays go up in the stores)

I made three Advent wreaths for my class and we'll be sending them home with the kids along with a book of prayers so they can do a small family Advent celebration. It brings the religion curriculum home. My own kids did this when they were in Kindergarten and they loved having their turn to bring the wreath home.

So the other day I was putting together the prayer booklets when the  Principal came into the room and saw the wreaths. He loved the idea and then went further to ask me to make a wreath for every classroom in the school....by Monday.

Being eager to impress the new boss, naturally I said yes. Trips to 4 WalMarts to find all the necessary items (I'm still one wreath short) I got (almost) everything I needed and got to work.

Here's the thing. An Advent wreath has 4 candles, three purple and one pink. It's freakishly hard to find pink candles. I know, weird right?
So I got a pack of candles, it has red, peach and a light peach/pink. Now I'll admit, I'd hoped it would be more pink but it's as close as I could come and next to the purple it does look pink.

So I brought some in to work yesterday and the secretary commented on the candles.....GRRRRRR. She didn't mean anything by it but it rubbed me and now I'm second guessing myself. The thing is, it's the same as the wreaths the Principal saw and loved so I don't know why I'm worrying....

that's just me.

Yesterday was my Dad's 64th birthday. We had an ice cream cake to celebrate. I was telling my mom about a friend who's Dad passed away a year ago this week and that she'd confided in me that no one seemed to remember and offer her support that day and how sad that made me I said I think that unless you have lived it it's hard to understand how important anniversaries like that are to some of us. My mom told me that she was afraid to mention my Dad's birthday yesterday because she was worried we would all think she was morbid.

It's funny the way people think. Oddly enough I was worried about bringing my mom down. She's still on such a high, having only returned from her three week trip to Italy on Wednesday. I didn't want to bring her down by reminding her that it's her husbands birthday and that she only went to Italy because he's no longer here.  But I also didn't want to overlook the day for me or for the kids. And as it turns out, it was just what we all needed.

It's time to look forward. One more month until Christmas. I better get busy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My baby can read.....

Not to be confused with the crap you can buy on TV.

My little man is getting smarter by the day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oh blog, how I've missed you!

Every now and then (read: nearly every day) I'll think of something that would be great to blog about 'when I get a chance' and then when I finally get that chance I sit here staring at the screen - blank.
I need to start keeping a book with me to keep track of this stuff.

I've been missing my daily blogging but wow - who's got the time?! I've been sewing a lot. I've got two orders to work on tonight plus I've been trying to build up a reserve...June is not far away.  I also bring home work most nights. Though, that will start to decrease. Let me tell you why.

I have a fantastic Principal, that's why.

See, because we (the ECE's) are a new position and because we're starting from scratch with a new union we have NO planning time. This means that while we are expected to plan both collectively with the teacher as well as alone we are not allotted any time in the work day to do it. So there are three things that can happen. You can not do any planning (in which case you're nothing more than a high paid assistant) You can stay before and after school and plan and not be paid for it. Or you can do it at home, on your own time...and not be paid for it.
Up to now, I've been doing it more or less on my own time. I go to work an hour early everyday, partly to plan, partly to beat traffic. I stay(ed) late once  a week to meet with the teacher to plan.

Then an idea crossed my mind. When we take our class to the library there is the librarian, the teacher and me. Do we really need 3 teachers there? No, not really. So my fellow ECE approached the Principal and asked if we could use that 30 min a week to plan. Not only did he say yes but he also said we could use the IT time too provided the IT teacher was okay with it.

So now, I get minimum 30 min's planning time a week - usually I take 60. An hour might not seem like much but it's huge considering we're not 'granted' any. And it means I no longer stay late one night a week and only bring work home on weekends.

Then there's my kids....between gymnastics, craft clubs, piano lessons...I feel like there's never a night in which I can just come home from work, get into pj's and relax.

My poor blog is suffering.

I promise dear readers...I'll pick up the pace a bit. I'm going to have some awesome video of my little man READING!! yeah baby!!

Off to sew.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Work-a-holic

Have I become {gasp!!} a work-a-holic??

Let's talk work ethic.

My Dad had a strong work ethic. He got a job right out of high school and worked his tail off until he no longer could.

My brother has worked, various jobs, since he was like 13 and when he's not working his paid job as a mechanic he's spent a heck of a lot of his off time working as a mechanic for family and friends.

My other brother worked full time while he went to college full time. How one can do two full time things at the same time is beyond me but he did it.

Sean has a strong work ethic. As much as he'd love to take time off, he rarely does - his holidays and that's it.
I think he got his work ethic from his Dad, a fisherman and sole support for his wife and 11 children. If his Dad didn't work, his family didn't eat.

For a long time I thought this work ethic that everyone had just didn't rub off on me. I hated working - right from my first job (the paper route I took over from my brothers) Yeah, I loved having money but I hated the work.

My first real full time job - I think part of the problem here was that I got a job in a place that offered 3 weeks vacation, 10 sick days and 5 personal days. So 3 months into this new job I had 6 weeks of paid leave at my disposal. And I made sure to use all 30 days every. single. year.

Then came the luxury of working from home. This was different because I did work hard - I had to - it was the only way to generate income. But, working hard in your pj's is not the same as working hard outside of your house.

I'll admit, part of me worried when I took this new job that I was going to have that feeling of dread each morning of 'shit, I have to go to work' I thought I'd be a month in before I was trying to think of reasons to take a day off...one of the kids is sick....I'm sick....my car broke down....and all of which would serve as mental health days.

Now, granted, I did take a day off near the end of September however, that was a genuine sick day.
But besides that day, I've actually been upset because Connor was sick and I didn't want to have to stay home (Sean did) or that the girls had a PA Day and Sean was working nights (meaning he would get roughly 4 hours sleep in 48 hours) so I might have to take a day off.
Rather than jumping at the chance to take time off I was thinking of 20 alternatives to this.

On Wednesday I started getting a sinus headache and a tickle in my chest. By Thursday afternoon my voice was going. On Friday I work up with no voice at all. Sean told me to stay home. My two co workers told me to stay home. I mean really, how can one command a class of thirty 5 year olds when one cannot speak?

A whistle. I got out my trusty whistle and between that and a great teaching partner I made it through the day.

In all fairness I probably should have stayed home. I was not nearly as effective as I could have been - but I just didn't want to.

So now, despite having this job that only pays me from 8:30-3:00 - I get to work at 7:30 often don't leave until 3:30, often work through part of my lunch and always through both of my breaks and yes, I bring home work too.

I don't have to do these things. I do them because I choose to. I like this job. I love this job. I think I found that work ethic that I've admired in others for so long.

Who'd have thunk it?!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One the 11th hour of 11th day of the 11th month

We remember.



In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



Monday, November 8, 2010

WHAT were you thinking?!?!

The other day I was driving home and I passed a young girl (a teenager) She had one of the more bizarre hairstyles I've seen in a while. My picture won't do it justice but it looked something like this.

It was a mullet. But her bangs were long and covered half her face. And half of the back was spiked....it stuck up and lined her head. When I saw her my first thought was "Hmm, she looks like the Statue of Liberty." Then, I pictured Queen Victoria with the spiky crown she wore.  It looked like Kate Gosselin's old hairdo hopped up on crack.

Now I'm all for originality and kudos to her for pulling off a truly original do but I have to wonder - many years from now when this girl has grown, matured and likely conformed like most of the rest of us - will she look back at pictures of herself and say "What the hell was I thinking??"

I grew up in the days of film cameras. 110 mm. Yeah, even before 35 mm. I'm old. So all  of the pictures of me during my youth are good old fashioned photographs and kept on negatives. (though the technological age has allowed me to scan some of them so they can be added to FB for some laughs) for the most part, these pictures are now buried away and but fond memories to me and those who knew me....and my hair.

I started dying my hair when I was about 15. I did it blond. Like really blond. Like platinum blond.  But see, back in the day, hair dye wasn't the best and so occasionally you ended up with brassy looking hair. Or worse yet, green. Yeah, been there, done that.

Then there's the perm. I permed my hair twice a year (again, at home). I was always going for ringlets but somehow always ended up with afro. Add to this my  total hatred of my high forehead and therefore long bangs...I had a shaggy door look about me for much of my teen years. I see pictures of Robert Plant from in the 70's and think - Hey, that's my hair when I was 16!


Then we moved on to the 'feathered' hairstyle. You know, the one that all the girls who are still stuck in the 80's wear with the sides feathered a la Farrah Fawcett. Add to this the bouffant style on the top of the head....and no freakin' wonder there's a hole in the ozone layer with the amount of hair spray that went into our hair Each and Every morning.

I look back at the pictures now and think to myself...did I really think I looked good? I know I did at the time. But wow....just.....wow. It's scares me.

And I wonder...when I see pictures of myself now in years to come...will I think the same way. I mean, I'm no beauty queen but I think I clean up pretty nice. I suspect though - when I'm 75 and looking at pictures of the 37 year old me I'll be wondering - "damn girl, WHAT were you thinking??"


Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Bucket List

I watched The Bucket List today on TV. I've seen it many times before. I'm a sucker for a Jack Nicholson movie and this one in particular is one of his best.

I saw it for the first time just after it was released on video (I don't go to movies often - too expensive) and I cried at the end. How could you not.

The thing is, this movie took on a whole new and difficult meaning in 2009. See, I've always thought my Dad has a pretty striking resemblance to Jack Nicholson. Not the eye brows, mind you but the shape of his face, the hair (or lack thereof) and some of his mannerisms (at least on screen) 

So to watch this movie now, about a man with terminal cancer and to see my Dad in him....it's hard to watch.

I got to thinking. What would I put on my bucket list. You know what? I got nothing. Is that good or bad? I'm not sure. I mean, there are some things I'd like to do. I'd like to see the world....but the the thing is, if I died tomorrow (God forbid!) I don't think I'd regret not having seen the world.
I've been given the gift of motherhood, so no regrets there - though I suppose my bucket list would include seeing my kids grow up and becoming a great grandmother (notice I say great grandmother) I was lucky enough to know my own great grandmother (maternal) and my kids are lucky enough to know their own great grandmother (my paternal grandmother) so the longevity genes are there.
I'm not a daring type person, I don't long to skydive or scuba dive or climb Mount Everest. Hell, I don't anticipate getting on a plane in the foreseeable future.

I suppose I would add 'a family adventure' on my list. Some of my fondest memories are of our family road trips. Our family summer trips to Sault Ste. Marie.  My train trip with my mom to New Brunswick. Our drive to North Carolina (in which my Great Uncle said to my Dad, quite loudly, as we approached the border, "Did you put all the cocaine in the golf bags Mike?"  A few days later in the trip the same uncle lost his teeth - we found them 40 minutes later in his suitcase.
Of course, there is the epic trip to Vegas. 5 adults in a sedan for 5 days straight. Come to think of it, that is worthy of it's own post.

We do our drive to Newfoundland every few years and I'm hoping one day, many years from now the kids will look back on those trips with the same fondness I look back at mine. We'll smile and chuckle at Mary asking how she'd get into Nan's house when she saw the Newfie door. (for the uniformed...Newfoundland is a rock. In many of the rural areas the houses were built by the people living in them, hence no basements, just built up from the rocks. The house then has a porch (aka a 'bridge' in Newfinese) with steps that lead up to the door. Often times though only one door on the house will have steps that lead up to it, the other door will just be there....sometimes as high as 6 ft off the ground, with no steps leading up to it. It's just an emergency exit. I dubbed these doors Newfie Doors (Newfie jokes are the Canadian equivalent to dumb blond jokes - though truth be known, I've only ever met one dumb Newfie and it wasn't the Newfie in her that made her dumb)  Anyhow, when Mary saw my Mother In Law's house for the first time in 2007 and her Newfie door on the front she wondered out loud "How am I going to get in?"

Anyhow, I'm getting off track.

The point was - I'd love to say I have something clear and defined....my own Bucket List but I just don't think it's that easy. 

And watching the movie made me miss my Dad.

On a related note - I got a new like on the Papa's Pride FB page today. It was the first "like" by a stranger. It's silly, but I was so excited because it means it's getting noticed. Yay.

On another related note - I bought a showcase spot on Etsy. It's basically a day in which your shop is put in a showcase - which is supposed to drum up traffic. I bought a spot before and it did get me a lot of hits.
But - when I went to book the day the first available day was November 25th. My Dad's birthday.
I'm taking that as a sign.

A sign of good things to come.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What should I believe?

No, I'm not asking any philosophical questions about religion or the meaning of life or anything deep. I'm questioning my blog counter.

See waaaaaay down at the bottom of the page...there is a counter and a map. The map tells me where people are from who are reading my blog and the counter tells me how many people have visited.

I check it every now and then, it's nice to know who's lurking. But here's the thing. When I click the map it gives me a list of cities and days that people have visited. So for instance I see my cousin visited, a few of my Pumpkin Patch friends have stopped by, I'm pretty certain one of those is my Fabric Angel, and one is my sister in law.  Then there are a few who I'm just not sure who they are.  But for the most part, besides a few local ones - I pretty well know who all those visitors are.

So, based on my map stats...I've had 4 visitors in the last 24 hours - and that includes me.

However - blogger has this nifty little stats bar now. So I can click it and get a wealth of information about where people are viewing my blog from, what type of browser they use, what posts they're reading and where the linked from.

According to Bloggers I've had 8 hits in the last day NOT including me. What's more - 5 are from Canada, 2 are from the US and 1 is from Russia.

So I wonder - why do these stats not show up on my external counter? Is it because it's an application? Is it not reliable? Should I just get rid of it? I kind of like my map with the pretty stars.

I know I shouldn't care but it's kind of interesting to see who's snooping into my blog.

And another thing - what's a girl got to do to get BONed around here? I'm crossing my fingers - if I could get BONed I could then direct all the fabulous new readers to the Papa's Pride blog and - well, you know where I'm going with that.

It's been a long week. I have a canker sore in my mouth, I'm almost done my class of wine and I'm exhausted  - hence the senseless ramble of this post.

Have a nice night.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Showing off and a little wine

Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard was bare last night and there was nothing to take to work for lunch today. But since it was payday for Sean AKA grocery shopping day I smiled, snuggled close and begged him to bring me in some lunch today. I guess squashing my boobs up against him helped because he agreed to.

So I got to show him off. Yeah, silly, I know, but my hubby is pretty freakin' hot and I wanted to show him off a bit. And my little man Connor is pretty freakin' adorable (even if he does cram his fingers up his nose when he gets shy or nervous)

So I got to be the proud peacock and introduce them to a few of the staff. Yeah, I know, it's stupid....but that's me.

So earlier in the day the teacher and I are chatting and she pulls out a bottle of wine from her bag. My first thought is "Sweet - liquid lunch!"
So she tells me that she was talking with her husband (also a teacher) about our working together and the things I'm doing in the classroom (she seems to think I'm going above and beyond - I just think I'm doing my job) so her husband bought me a bottle of wine. Apparently he had wanted her to stress to me that it was from him, not from her.

It was so sweet and really appreciated (not just because I love a good bottle of wine) but because it was nice to hear that she genuinely does appreciate me and my hard work. I mean, I know she says it in the class all the time and thanks me all the time but there is that little insecure part of me that says "Ah, she's just a nice person, really though, you're irritating the crap out of her and she thinks your a half wit" I guess that little voice can shut the hell up now.

So I'm going to enjoy my bottle of wine, look forward to showing off my sexy husband some more at the Christmas party and enjoy life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My life - the roller coaster

I'm starting to wonder if I might be bipolar or something. Last week I'm crying on my way to and from work and feeling like a pile of crap and this week I'm on top of the world.

I was reflecting a while ago (as in a while ago this evening) about how awesome my life it.

  • I have a fabulous husband. Sure, we've had moments were fabulous was not the "f" word I would have used to describe him (or him me for that matter)
  • I have 3 of the best kids ever. I fall in love with them more everyday (not in spite of but because of their noisy, eye rolling, "FINE!" pants peeing, temper tantrum ways)
  • I have job I LOVE. Yes, I do, I love my job. Even on the hardest days (yes, I survived the first month and lived to tell about it) I look forward to going to work. I like the people there. I love the paycheck. When we finally get some benefits and our union crap sorted out I'll love that too. I also love that in 7 short weeks I'll be enjoying Christmas Break! Woohoo!
  • I am feeling productive. I've single handedly raised $375 with my Papa's Pride initiative and I'm proud of that. I mean, last year I was beyond proud of the $1500 we raised as a family but I'm more proud of this because it's getting a name out there and that helps raise awareness. Anyone who carries around a Papa's Pride bag has the chance to have someone see the tag and say "Hey, what's that?" which gives them an opportunity to say "Oh, I bought this bag as a fundraiser for cancer....etc etc"  It mean be a little thing - but it's something and I'm proud of it.
The fact of the matter is, I'm happy. It's been a long time since I could honestly say I'm really, truly happy. There was always something nagging me, marital issues, ttc and infertility, not enjoying my job...but now - there is nothing that lingers there - at least not for long.

So there you have it. The ups and downs of me. Enjoy the ride!