I Don’t Want Another Baby

Enjoy each moment, they go by so quickly.

Savour those cuddles, before you know it they won’t want to hug anymore.

Don’t blink – they grow up so fast.

I listened to those wiser, more experienced moms. I heeded the words of grandmothers in grocery stores who doted on my newborn offspring (except for the advice to put socks on, it was summer after all). I enjoyed babyhood while it lasted. Just as I love the stages that our boys are at now.

And yet, I want to go back.

I do not want another baby. Our family is complete, of that I have no doubt, but I want to go back.

Oh, to relive the moment I laid eyes on each of them for the very first time and heard the announcement, “It’s a boy!” Meeting that tiny person who I already knew so well.

I want to have a newborn lie on my chest sleeping and feel his breath on my cheek. But not just any newborn, I want to hold one of my boys like that again and take it all in. For a day, an hour, a moment.

If only it was possible to travel back and see that little face peeking through the rails of his crib. To hear the way my second-born snorted when he laughed at seven months, how our oldest pronounced “restaurant”. I remember these things just fine, but I wish I could experience them again.

I’d savour it a bit more. I’d pay a little bit more attention. I’d appreciate those small things for the fleeting experience that they were.

This is not to say I regret anything. I’m not sad to see these boys turning into young men. Life is good and each day brings something new. I love reading chapter books at bedtime, watching Star Wars through their eyes, playing games that are more complicated than Candy Land.

And yet, I want to go back.

I’d like to see my third born dancing as a toddler, push one of my babies in the swing at the park, see a little face turn because he recognized my voice above all others.

This desire to travel back to those moments makes me cherish this time with my boys now. It causes me to stop doing dishes or folding laundry when I hear a small voice ask me to play cars, or ride bikes, or take a swim. When my oldest asks if he can sit on my lap after dinner, I always say “yes” because one day soon I will long to travel back and relive that moment, too.

Enjoy each moment, they go by so quickly.

Savour those cuddles, before you know it they won’t want to hug anymore.

Don’t blink – they grow up so fast.

 

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I Can’t Feel My Face

It’s wise to take some quiet time and reflect. Some people pray, meditate, or contemplate life’s bigger issues in solitude. In the past I used the long drive to work to centre myself. Others do yoga, walk, or wake up early to catch the pre-morning peace (they are robots, just FYI).

I tend to take my quiet whenever and wherever I find it. Some days it’s at the kitchen sink as I wash dishes, other times it’s when I’m angry-cleaning the basement bathroom. Most recently, it was the dentist’s chair.

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Having have your face frozen is not the same as Botox, I know that now.

Due to some lacklustre flossing coupled with the presence of three baby teeth, I needed to get some cavities checked (if my dentist reads this, I floss daily and must have a genetic predisposition to cavities, I’m sure that’s a thing). It’s fine, I can handle needles and if we’ve ever met in person, you know I am quiet capable of distracting myself. What follows is the rabbit trail of thoughts I contemplated during that hour of blissful mostly-quiet time. Fun Fact: it’s amazing how the definition of “quiet time” changes as you age.

I know pretty much every song playing on this station. I wonder who chooses the music? Probably the dentist, or do they vote on it as a staff? Do they change it to a different station when the boss isn’t here?

Premium Plus is a weird name for crackers. Premium plus WHAT? If it’s already a premium product, what could they have added? Also, they aren’t really all that premium.

I’m hungry.

I should have peed before I got in the chair. 

If I opted not to get the topical anesthetic, would that cut some of the time? I just want to get out and hit the dollar store. I can take the pain. 

Kimmy Schmidt says you can do anything for ten seconds. I can live with this plastic wedge in my cheek. I can do it. When will season three of Kimmy Schmid be out? I miss John Hamm.

Is Rod Stewart still alive*?

That cup of coffee at the end of the school day was a mistake. I see that now.

I used to want to grow my hair as long as Crystal Gale’s. But how would you wash it? Wouldn’t your neck hurt? Was she Loretta Lynn’s sister? Loretta. Lor-et-ta. Loretta.

If the zombie apocalypse started right now, I’d be in big trouble. Would the staff stay to help me get this rubber dam out of mouth? I think that would be a serious disadvantage. I’d be fine for the first few hours, but once this freezing ran out, I’d be toast. Death by gaping hole in my tooth. WHY DIDN’T I FLOSS MORE I AM SO SORRY FOR MY PAST DENTAL HYGIENE TRANSGRESSIONS.

I really need to pee. It’s worse every time they rinse my mouth.

I could practice some kegels, I guess. Just sitting here anyways.

Roche Voisin’s singing sounds an awful lot like Anne Murray. You know, that lady can really pull off a short hair cut. Not everyone can. Is she still alive*? I’ll google her later.

I miss the Muppet Show. 

If I owned this dental office I would offer facial waxing/dental work package. Cavities filled and moustaches removed, all in one trip. 

What happens if the freezing reaches my nose? Will I stop breathing? How will I signal that problem? Lift left hand for suction, right hand for suffocation?

I think I might actually pee my pants soon. I wonder if that has ever happened? Are there protocols for patients peeing their pants because they drank too much coffee before their appointment? 

My thumb nails are really ridgey.

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*Yes, still alive.

 

 

 

 


The Perks and Pitfalls of Getting Older

With age comes wisdom, sure, but plenty of other things accompany maturing age, too. Shifting priorities are one example. Instead of searching for the perfect radio station in the car, you use the optimal lighting in your mini-van to find and extract chin hairs.

Age also brings discovery. As I progress into my forties I have discovered that debit machine screens suddenly have a glare requiring me to hold them at awkward angles. Also, noises are exhausting. All the noises: loud voices, medium voices, the whirring of the dishwasher, the wind lifting the tarp off the table in the back yard, the way my husband eats cereal, and my son sniffing. Tapping of any sort induces high levels of stress (maybe that’s just me, but it’s real. STOP IT).        no-you-need-reading-glasses

A few unexpected surprises have come along. My children all sleep through the night now so, of course, a new pal, Insomnia, visits more often. Whereas I used to be awakened by a newborn, now I wake up trying to recall the theme song from “Simon and Simon” or wondering if a hard-boiled egg is really called a Ten-Minute Egg.  I discovered I have “good rags” and get annoyed when someone uses them to clean the bbq grill or the tile around the toilets.please-floss-somewhere-i-cant-hear-you

My threshold for thrills has been lowered dramatically as my age increases. Recently I was ridiculously excited about buying a new foot cream. Just buying it. Don’t even get me started on actually trying it, that’s a topic for a whole other post (spolier: my heels no longer got caught on my workout leggings). Ordering clothes for my kids is almost more thrilling that shopping for myself – how did that happen? Dad jokes are not nearly as painful as they once were, in fact, I employ them. REGULARLY. “Oh, hello, Thirsty, my name is Mom.” Hilarious.

While a few years ago, I looked forward to going out, now I am quite content staying home and watching Netflix while browsing youtube for how-to videos about knitting projects I will never do. Or something like that.

There are some nice perks of getting older, too. I have learned scores of lessons since hitting the big 4-0. Your time is valuable so I will share one of the most profound epiphanies:

Self-care is vital to mental health. Time spent with friends, reading a book, meditating, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee can feed the soul. One word of caution, dear reader. If you unwind one afternoon by soaking in a steaming, hot bath, that is fantastic. However, trying to put on skinny jeans right after towelling off could be hazardous. You might end up stuck in your own pants weighing the pros and cons of  wriggling around on a tile floor or giving up until your skin cools down. Neither option is pretty. Or do you carefully shuffle around to find a pair of scissors and “jaws of life” your way out? How much did the jeans cost? Is it more than your pride? Can you discreetly dispose of cut-up jeans to avoid uncomfortable questions? Why did you even buy those jeans in the first place sure they give a nice silhouette with your slouchy sweater but AT WHAT COST WHAT COST I SAY?

Hypothetically speaking.

Age well,  friends. Age well.

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Merry Christmas, Y’all

Decorations and softly glowing lights, friends and laughter, and anticipation of the magic of Christmas morning. Every December memories come flooding back. I loved slowly going through the Sears Wishbook and carefully writing down my hopes for gifts: a Slinky, Miss Piggy Baby, Monchichi, Cabbage Patch Kid, a Care Bear, a diary. 

As the holidays approached, our house transformed into something magical. Some of the decorations have long been given away and replaced, but when I think of Christmas growing up, I picture the tinsel garland my mom hung over the front hall mirror, the reindeer stuffies perched around our family room, and the red felt stockings hung on the fireplace. I remember a steady flow of visitors dropping in, the white noise of conversation, the small metal candy dishes filled to the brims. And of course, the glow of flickering flames during the Christmas Eve candlelight service, my favourite service of the year.

A week or so before Christmas every year a special package would arrive from Minnesota. We never knew for sure what the contents would be, but they always included Hershey Kisses (you couldn’t get them in Canada back then) and some fun homemade decoration with a newsy letter updating us on all things Minnesotan. You see, years before, a young couple with two small children decided to reach out to a Canadian family in need at the Mayo Clinic. The backstory is not my story to tell, but they (among others) provided support and stability to a young patient when her parents couldn’t be with her as she received treatment. A friendship that spanned years began.

Fast forward to my adulthood. Through social media I have met lovely people from all over. One Christmas not long ago a package arrived from Rochester, Minnesota from a family I had befriended (or they befriended me. Either way, we became friends). Inside was a bag of American Reece’s Peanut Butter bells and Rubik’s Cubes for our four boys. Seeing the return address made my eyes leak and my heart leap at the connection. But wait, there’s more. The sender worked for…the Mayo Clinic.

Your memories are different from mine. And the memories we create now with our children are different again, too. Our family has traditions now that weren’t possible when I was young. We send and receive cards and packages to and from all over the USA. We have received dozens of packages of Oreos and M&Ms from them, too. Each year since the “Rubik’s Cube Christmas” our list of “friends we have yet to meet in real life” grows. And it is amazing.

As we put up our tree this year I set aside some ornaments that I wanted to hang myself. They hold a special place in my heart as a representation of my internet people and a  reminder of how sad things can be turned into the fondest of memories.

Merry Christmas, friends.

*not pictured are the packages of Oreos and M&Ms because self-control is hard


Yuletide Confessions of a Kindergarten Teacher

Like a fun White Elephant Gift Exchange, I present this slightly used, but still useful, blog post.

Tough Bananas

I didn’t know.

Honestly.

I thought it was something everyone had to do, that is was part of my job description.

If you looked around, you’d see every staff member was doing it.

How was I to know?

Not one to rock the boat or question authority, I joined in.

It’s hard to admit this. It’s not like I really want people to know, but confession is good for the soul, so finally, after fifteen years, I will tell the world the truth.

I used to own a Christmas sweater and not ironically.

Fun, yet conservative. The collar makes it work-friendly. Fun, yet conservative. The collar makes it work-friendly.

It was December of my first year teaching. I walked into the staff room one morning with my Tim’s coffee in hand, to discover that all but two staff members (me and the only male teacher) were wearing thematic sweaters. But wait, it gets better. They were all the same

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Tension and Turntables

It was a typical Saturday in that the boys were oscillating between playing nicely and pushing each others’ buttons. In an attempt to keep the peace and remove a certain younger brother from the mix, I retrieved our old record player from the basement.

Sometimes I think I need a life coach, or at the very least a Jiminy Cricket-type friend who will caution me when I’m about to make a huge parenting mistake. Someone who will whisper, “Really, do you not remember the last time you got that out and how many times they played ‘Snoopy Versus the Red Baron’?”

But I digress.

Old favourites from my childhood were dusted off and played. If you haven’t heard “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” on high speed (but just the chorus) you haven’t lived.

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In general I would be described as a laid-back mom. I don’t tend to micro-manage and the general chaos that is our family life does not phase me (except for tapping, that’s the worst). However, I seem to have strong feelings about playing records. I was unaware of this side of me. What follows is a sample of phrases I uttered while my old LPs were spinning, unedited.

Gentle.

Please pick a speed.

Stop flipping between the speeds.

How about we let the whole song play right to the end?

Gentle.

Leave the volume at one setting.

No jumping, it’ll scratch the record.

Put the record back in the sleeve.

The sleeve, the box-thing it came in.

GENTLE.

Just let the song play the whole way.

That record made it through my entire childhood, it better make it through this afternoon.

GEN.TLE.

Stop jumping.

Hey! I have an idea – just let the song play through.

Pick a speed and commit.

We can’t repair it if it breaks, stop fiddling with the switches.

JUST. PICK. A. SPEED.

We don’t put Lego figures on the turntable, I don’t care if it looks cool.

LETTHESONGFINISHBEGENTLESTOPJUMPING

Here’s the part where I say something profound about how I changed my perspective and savoured the sweet moments of them having fun together. How Psalty the singing songbook isn’t creepy in hindsight and the boys delighted in my ability to recount all the lyrics to Muppet Movie soundtrack.

Nope.

They had fun, the record player still works, and no albums were damaged.

Okay, okay, it did bring back good memories for me. It conjured up images of the old blue velour couch from my childhood home where just yesterday I was curled up listening to The Three Little Pigs on my portable player. Or cozy winter nights spent indoors while another album dropped onto the turntable (our hi-fi was quite fancy and held up to five records in the queue). Rifling through the large selection of LPs in our family collection – Burrell Ives, Bobby Vinton, Rick Springfield, Tom Jones, and of course Kids Praise.

Sunday afternoons spent playing games, napping, or reading. The house buzzing with the sound of friends and family visiting. The smell of coffee brewing.

You can’t hang on to everything, but we should hang on to some things. Today I’m grateful for vinyl, varying speeds and all. It’s okay, Jiminy, I’ve got this.

 

 


Poke-a-what now?

“Mommy, see this card I got. It’s an EX.”

“My skirnigorf has evolved!”

“I thought that was a good trade, but then I realized that mine had way more energy than the other one so I didn’t.”

Hold on – cards can have energy? They evolve? Tell me more no wait, that’s okay.

Pokemon.

I’ve tried. For years I have tried. I think I am a reasonably intelligent woman. I can hold my own in a conversation and can even watch movies with subtitles. But Pokemon is something beyond my comprehension.

And that, dear readers, is a problem because not only do I have four offspring who are all into Pokemon cards, our house is the trading hub for such activities. On any given day there could be up to nine or ten kids congregated on our front porch actively discussing and negotiating with these playing cards. They stroll over with their binders full of plastic sleeves housing these colourful and shiny bits of paper and huddle on the cold concrete for an hour or more. They only stop to pee or hydrate. And I teach in an elementary school so basically 75% of my waking hours have some element of Pokemon in it. I want to be an engaged mom and neighbour, but I’m struggling.

In an effort to be an invested parent and a teacher with a working knowledge of this craze, recently I agreed to let my son show me his Pokemon collection. It took a long time. A really, really long time.

What follows is a photo essay of sorts chronicling the longest 45 minutes of my life.

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I am watching you and trying really hard to follow along, honest.

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Those are a lot of cards

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I mean, when did you get so many? WHO IS FUNDING THIS CARD-BUYING FIASCO? 

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HOW many pages?

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No, I’m listening. Really. I am. Something about energy and wait, I’ll be right back, your brother needs me to move the van.

Do I want to see your Pokemon? Depends. Will you be serving snacks?