36 Reasons I’m Late for Everything

Once upon a time I was a punctual person. Actually, I mostly still am. Okay, sometimes. Alright, alright, occasionally I arrive on time or even a smidge early. But it’s not my fault. No, really, it’s not.

I have thirty-six reasons to prove my innocence.

 

36 Reasons I’m Late for Everything

  1. Toddler needs help putting his coat on
  2. His sleeves are bunchy
  3. Decides he doesn’t need his coat
  4. He does need help taking it off
  5. Actually, a coat sounds like a good idea
  6. They’re bunchy again
  7. Zipper won’t go up
  8. Zipper is too high
  9. Too low
  10. Too high
  11. I didn’t let him do it himself
  12. He can’t do it himself
  13. Too low
  14. His socks feel “scrunchy”
  15. His shoes are too loose
  16. Too tight
  17. One is too loose, the other is still too tight
  18. I didn’t let him open the front door
  19. He needs to close it and open it again
  20. Twice
  21. Forgot his water bottle
  22. He doesn’t want to wait outside
  23. He can open the door himself, remember?
  24. He can’t open the door himself
  25. He’s doing the Potty Dance
  26. He denies needing to pee
  27. Still denying…
  28. Under threat of no gum again ever, agrees to use the potty
  29. I didn’t let him “see it” before flushing
  30. Needs to get the soap himself
  31. I didn’t let him open the door. Again.
  32. He can’t do it himself
  33. Actually, he doesn’t need a coat
  34. Forget that, he does
  35. WHAT IS WITH THE SLEEVES AND ALL THE BUNCHING?
  36. I’m the worst

    Accessories are preschooler kryptonite

    Accessories are preschooler kryptonite


Refrigerated Evil

I was multi-tasking like a pro. Serving lunch, putting away groceries, folding laundry, chopping up veggies for dinner – wait, what happened in the veggie drawer? The slime! The smell!

No problem, for this gal. I rolled up my sleeves, slid another grilled cheese sandwich to the hungry 3-year-old and deftly removed the produce drawers from the fridge.

“Mommy will be right back!” I sang as I carted the oozy vessels of soggy cucumbers and dried out broccoli to the compost bin.

I went to get the little guy a drink and noticed just how grimy the shelves at the bottom of the fridge were. NO PROBLEM! I carefully lifted them out and left them to soak in the laundry tub. Now to tackle the frames. This was turning into a much bigger project than I had anticipated, but I would not be deterred. By now it was nap time so I could really focus on removing all debris and questionable items from the fridge.

I was merciless. An almost empty bottle of ranch dressing – gone! You, too shrimp sauce from 2009. Don’t look at me that way, yeast in a jar, we both know I won’t be baking any bread from scratch.

I’m almost done and then I can watch Veronica Mars while I eat some Oreos start organizing photo books.

This gross, but weirdly satisfying job was wrapping up nicely – all that was left was to replace the various components.

And then, in a flash, my productivity slammed to a halt.

As I pulled open the door to return the bins to their sparkling clean home, the entire fridge door came off in my hand.

It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to an out-of-body experience. I stood there, gaping at this big, white door that had acquired magical abilities. Or it was demon-possessed.

It’s okay, it’s okay. Let’s just prop it up to keep the cool air in. Then figure out the next step. 

Have you ever tried to lift a fridge door that is full of jars? Trust me, it’s heavy. I leaned it against one leg and carefully took out all the 179 condiments from its shelves (Pilates, guys, it works). Next, I had to rig something up to keep the cool side cool and the hot side hot. I was very motivated since cheese was on sale and it’s possible I had bought approximately eight bars.

Fridge triage

Fridge triage

Things were looking up. Now it was time to figure out what was going on, so I turned to my good friend, Mr. Google. “Why did my fridge door fall off in my hand?” generates a surprising number of helpful answers. I concluded that none of the necessary procedures could be accomplished by one person, so once the boys were in bed that night, Bearded Husband and I fixed the fridge. It took a couple of attempts, possessed refrigerators doors are very temperamental when it comes to things like “alignment”, but we did it.

Stay tuned next week for “The Time 1/3 cup of Butter Exploded in the Microwave” and “Once I Dropped a Pork Roast on the Oven Door.”


My Big Year

This is it – my year at home.

I’ve taken a leave and will be holding down the home front. Our three oldest boys are in school full time so that leaves me and Little together. This is a completely new experience for me. The last time I was home with only one son, he was a baby. All my previous years at home have involved a newborn.

Oh, I guess I should explain – Bearded Husband and I have alternated years at home caring for our family. I took the first maternity leave year, then he took an unpaid parental leave, I got pregnant and had another maternity leave, repeat. This has worked well for us, but we decided no more babies. I’ve worked two years in a row and now am home with our three-year-old.

Do you know what it’s like to go from teaching kindergarten, to a summer with four boys, and then to end up at home with a three-year-old who still naps in the afternoon? IT FEELS LIKE I’M AT A SPA.

The first day with just the two of us, we hopped in the van and took a special Mommy and Son road trip. There was no bickering, no pushing to get in first (well, I might have elbowed him a bit), no one complaining that “he’s looking at me”. As we coasted down the street I rolled down my window, waved at a neighbour and sang out, “we’re going to Target – because I CAN.”

Freedom, glorious freedom.

We purchased the five items on our list, plus eleven things I didn’t realize I needed. We drove home chatting and listening to the radio. I think he even thanked me for the adventure.

Do you know what else you can do when you’re home full time? Reheat your coffee in your own microwave. What a luxury.

Round 3

Round 3

Another unexpected bonus to being with Little is learning that he stashes small toys down the furnace grate when he doesn’t want to share. So thoughtful.

Yeah, I put it down there, what's the problem?

Yeah, I put it down there, what’s the problem?

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to fish some Lego hair out of a furnace duct. It is perhaps the scariest thing I’ve had to do – keep in mind that I once rescued a keychain from the toilet.

I’m not entirely sure what this year at home will look like, but I have plans, big plans. In addition to projects around the home and spending time with Little, I’m planning to connect with all my sons in a different way, be more hands-on and knowledgeable about their daily adventures than when I worked full time. I’m also hoping to invest more in friendships (old and new) and to give back to our community more.

Yes, big plans. They may seem lofty, but it’s only begun and already I’m ticking things off my list. Why just this week I learned that a girl has a crush on our oldest. And he is just thrilled that I have that intel. I can tell.

The year of At-Home Jan. Get ready.

 


My Five Rules for the Leisure Pool

On a warm August morning what is a mom of four young boys to do while her husband and father of her offspring is getting ready for the new school year?

The park? Went to four of them last week.

The library? Did that yesterday.

The toy store? Did that the day before yesterday.

Why not try the local indoor pool? It’s FREE admission.

“But we have our own pool” is clearly not a valid argument when the pull of going somewhere new and adventurous is strong. So off we went and now I share with you…

My Five Rules for the Leisure Pool

Come on in, the water's fine.

Come on in, the water’s fine.

1. Apparently, elderly swimming patrons do not appreciate loud references to “Cocoon”. Think it, don’t say it.

2. Don’t wear a bikini to the family swim, no need to rub in to the rest of us. Yay you for bouncing back into your pre-baby shape. I hope you slip on the deck.

3. Avoid playing “Pretend To Drown”. Ditto for “Dead in the Water”. Best not to let your kids play it either.

4. It might be called a “leisure” pool, but bringing your own margarita is frowned upon.

5. If you discover hair floating near your person, stay calm. It’s just hair. It might not be your hair, but you’ll be okay.

How about you? Any tips for swimming with strangers?


Be A Learner

Last summer I was invited to share some thoughts with a  roomful of student teachers. I was nervous, they were nervous, we were all nervous.

————-

Welcome to teaching. This week you begin a year that will transform you. I must confess, I’m a little envious of you.

This is the year you get to try all kinds of new experiences with the security of being partnered with an experienced teacher. There are times you will sink a little bit, but you will not drown, because someone is by your side, encouraging you, making sure you’ll be okay, and a little bit better for the experience. That person is your Associate Teacher.

I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor to more than a dozen teacher candidates during my career. It is exciting, challenging, thought-provoking, and stressful.

Yes – it can be stressful. We wonder who our TECs will be. Will I like them? Will they like me? Will they be a hard worker? Will they cry if I have to give them some critical feedback? What if we aren’t a good match?

You are probably feeling nervous about starting your year, but rest assured, even old veterans like myself, get the jitters, too. We’ve been where you are.

So, how do we establish a positive working relationship?

Here’s a little secret – we are often asked to take a student teacher as a favour, but the fact is, we really enjoy it. Through the process of mentoring a teacher candidate we question our methods, we try new things, we learn through observing and collaborating with you. It’s a win-win.

But there is that relationship piece. And it’s a big piece. So my advice to you is: Be a Learner.

A learner asks questions, even if they might seem obvious. We’d rather have you ask for clarification than to feel uneasy or unsure.

A learner looks for things that need doing. It’s important to observe and watch, but not exclusively. Jump in. Help a student manage their belongings, sit with a group who seems to need help staying on task. Offer to run down to get the extra paper from the supply room. And if in doubt, ask if there is anything you can do.

During my very first practicum, I asked my associate if there was anything I could do to help her get ready for the day. She pointed to 3 stacks of paper and asked if would staple them. I then proceeded to staple each of the 3 piles. When she returned I asked what else I could do and she smiled and told me she had meant for me to collate the three different piles into 3 page double-sided booklets for the class. So, although I did look for things to do, I didn’t ask the obvious question. I did wonder why she had me do such a simple task and also why the booklets were so thick.

Ask the obvious questions.

"Do you drink coffee?" is an excellent question.

“Do you drink coffee?” is an excellent question.

A learner takes risks. This is your chance to try out all kinds of things. While I do recommend discussing it with your associate first, this is the best opportunity to apply new methods, new strategies, new techniques. And the really great thing is that we learn through you as well. We appreciate when you try to maintain the overall tone and classroom culture, part of the excitement of having a TEC is that we get to learn what you learn and see it put into action. I had a student teacher who really wanted to try a new game for gym. Right in the middle of it he turned to me and said, “this is a total bomb.” It was, and we regrouped, and then the next day, it went really well. He took a risk –he was a learner.

You know what else a learner does? They communicate. Let us know how you felt about your teaching, or your interaction with a particular student. If we’ve given you some constructive criticism, when you’re ready, talk about how that might have changed your teaching. I had a TEC who needed some time to process some feedback I’d given her and the following day she told me, “I remembered what you said about non-verbal cues and this morning I did more of that and I felt it went much better. “ She was right, it had. She was a learner.

It’s good to let your associate know some of your goals for the block so that they can give you better feedback. And this may seem insignificant, but communication includes being friendly – a warm hello to your associate and also other staff, emailing or texting if you are going to be absent.

A learner plans. Planning is perhaps most important during this year as you learn more about your teaching style and the curriculum. With time and experience, you will need to formally plan less and less, but it’s good practice for beginning teachers. Planning in advance allows you to ask for resources, to discuss possible glitches with your associate, and to seek feedback or brainstorming ahead of time. Collaboration can only occur when you know where you are heading.

Along with planning is preparation – if you need sand or lego for an upcoming lesson, ask your associate ahead of time where to get those materials. It can save you a lot of last minute stress and the school day is unpredictable, you might not always have those 20 minutes before school to gather up your supplies.

Did I mention “ask”? It bears repeating. If in doubt, ask.

How do you think that lesson went?

What would you do if the smart board did that in the middle of your lesson?

What do you think I could do differently next time?

What does IEP, IPRC, TLPC, ESL, ELL , FDK mean? (teaching has more than it’s share of inside lingo – sometimes we forget, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification)

 Make the most of this year. It will be busy, at times daunting, but it is an up-close glimpse of the amazing world of teaching.

Be a learner.


Always Talk to Strangers

We just stopped to watch the tree trimmers.

He was so high up that you can’t even see him against the backdrop of the sun, but he was there, making my stomach flip.

photo 2-11

 

A random stop in a random neighbourhood because we spotted an arborist trimming a tree at an amazing height (I would have stopped even if didn’t have a van full of boys, you don’t see that every day). The tree trimmer had a chainsaw dangling from a rope, engine running, and he’d swing it up to himself as needed – it was spectacular.

As we gazed up at this wondrous balancing act, an elderly lady emerged from her home and approached us.

“Good morning! Would you like some greens? I’m going away for 2 weeks and I know Alex is gone, would you eat them?”

Which just goes to show you, when Alex is out of town – greens for everyone!

No, no, no. Which just goes to show you, he who gawks get greens.

Wait, no. Always stare at strangers.

Tonight we feast

Tonight we feast

I’m sure there’s a wise truth in this story somewhere – thoughts?


Oreo Flowchart

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 8.23.21 PM

 

 


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