He’s Destined for Greatness

A couple of weeks ago I took all three kids, plus two friends, to the climbing gym. This in itself was not that unusual. We practically live at the climbing gym. What was unusual about this trip was that when we arrived Queen Bee and I realized that she was wearing a skirt. To climb. Can you say, “I see London, I see France…”?

Queenie was mortified. She immediately burst into tears and begged me to take her home to change. Um, no. I’m not loading five kids, or even just the three youngest kids, back in the van and fighting rush-hour traffic across town to our house and then coming back across town in even more traffic. No, no, no. Instead, I spoke to the instructors and asked if they had any pants or shorts that might possibly fit the Teeny Queenie in their lost and found. Two staff members disappeared into the back for a few minutes and triumphantly emerged with three pairs of drawstring-waist shorts in their hands.

Queen Bee and I went into the women’s changeroom to try on the shorts. They were all adult sizes, but a couple of pairs looked like they might stay up if she cinched the waist as tightly as possible. Queen Bee, already overwrought at having made the mistake of wearing a skirt to climbing, was not in a mood to wear a pair of baggy, extra-large shorts with a bunchy waistband. “They’re clown shorts!” she wailed, and threatened to stay hidden in the changeroom for the duration of the climbing class.

At this point, Tonka’s natural disobedience came to the rescue. Continue reading

Posted in Funny kids, The Queen of Quirky | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Wherein I Finally Become a Productive Member of Society

Well, my days as a lady of leisure may be coming to an end. It appears I have a job. After almost two years of preparing to re-enter the full-time job market, and a year of searching with some energy, it all happened pretty fast.

Several weeks ago I renewed my profile at a “Jobs for Teachers” website. At this site, you pay for each school board who has access to your profile. On a whim, I paid an extra ten bucks to allow an out-of-province school board to see my profile. I figured nothing would come of it, but the extra exposure might come in handy a year from now when I’m searching for ESL teaching jobs.

A couple of weeks later I got an e-mail inviting me to an information session for substitute teachers with this school board. I rearranged my tutoring schedule for that evening, prevailed upon Mr. Fixit to take time off HIS job for MY job search (what else is new…I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked the man to do this for me), and went to the session. I handed in my resume, filled out some paperwork, and left without introducing myself to the principal. I rationalized that he was going to have to call me in for an interview before I could be hired anyway…he can have the pleasure of meeting me then.

The very next evening after that meeting, I had a phone call: could I come in to teach Junior High math the next day? THE NEXT DAY?

Hear that sound? Sure, to you it sounds like desperate school administrators, wailing and gnashing their teeth. To me it sounds like golden opportunity.

So…I didn’t start today. I had some other commitments I couldn’t rearrange and I didn’t have any child care lined up for Tonka. But I agreed to come in on Monday. That gives me the weekend to arrange child care and prepare myself a little for my return to the classroom after eleven years away.

Lordy, I’m scared out of my wits. I have deliberately hidden the school administrator’s home phone number from myself, so I can’t call her up to resign between now and Monday. Wish me luck. I think I’ll need it.

Posted in Work | Tagged , | 1 Comment

My Son the Bad Influence

Actual e-mail that just arrived in my inbox:

Thanks a lot for letting Tonka get a Mohawk…we spent the night in tense negotiations with [Tonka’s classmate] not to cut his lovely locks!

Awesome. Five years old and he’s already getting his peers into trouble. So much for my little fantasy that my third child would be the easy one in his teen years.


Posted in Funny kids, Observations | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Double Second and She Couldn’t Be Happier

Okay, I’m just going to have to come out and say it. I’m too busy to blog much these days. I’m sorry about that, but that’s just how it is. No amount of me resolving to do better is going to change that. Sometimes I can get three posts up in a week, and sometimes I can barely manage one. That’s how it is and that’s how it’s going to stay, I imagine.

This past weekend we had another climbing competition. Going into the competition, Climbing Cat was ranked sixth in the country for her age category. This was all the more remarkable because the rankings are based on the climbers’ top three meet results – and Cat only had two results that counted. So this weekend’s competition was certain to move her up in the standings, just by giving her a third score. The big question was, would any of the top five climbers show up at this competition to give her a run for her money?

Well yes, a couple of them did. Cat was thrilled to meet them, and stayed thrilled even when one of them – the one closest in age and temperament to Cat – took away her heretofore-perfect record. This girl won gold at this competition, and Cat took home the silver. The gold winner moves up into first place in Canada now, and Cat is second. To show you how close the competition was, Cat’s score at this comp was 1700 and her new friend had a final score of 1716 – a difference of less than 1%. Cat honestly was more thrilled with her silver this time than she was with any of her previously-earned golds. Meeting new friends and having a really, really good competition experience meant more to her than her final place in the standings, or the hardware she took home.

I don’t know what I did right with that kid but I hope I can repeat it.

Posted in Play | Tagged , | 1 Comment

This is More for Me than for You

I have spent the past weekend four days agonizing over my life. This happens to me with some frequency. I’m a smart person who gets bored easily – this stay-at-home mom thing isn’t enough to keep my brain occupied. When I get bored, I start to think I need to do something different. Something paid. Something where people value my contribution more than just “I love my mom because she buys the good crackers.” Not there’s anything wrong with being valued for buying the good crackers. Just that I want a little more from my life sometimes. Continue reading

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Good Night, Betty

Mr. Fixit’s grandmother died on Sunday morning. We were expecting the news. She had been very sick for several days, and it was a testament to her strength that she survived as long as she did. But it was still a shock. It seems incredible that the world exists without her in it.

She lived her whole life in the tiny village of Chesterville, Ontario. She had the strongest sense of place of anyone I knew. She knew her place in the world – right there at the center of her village, just down the street from the cafe she had always frequented, and close to her lifelong friends and neighbours. She grew up in a world where you knew everyone around you and there were no secrets. Her village grounded her and gave her strength. She had definite opinions about the way the world was supposed to be, and she didn’t mind telling you when you were doing something that violated the World According to Betty.

I remember once when Mr. Fixit’s family was here for a big family dinner – I think it was Thanksgiving. After dinner I made Mr. Fixit get down my giant pot so I could start simmering turkey stock. His grandmother, always curious, watched with interest. She approved of the onions and carrots I threw into the broth, but when I started to scrape leftover gravy into the pot she reached out a shaking, wrinkled hand to stop me. THIS was not the way things were done in Chesterville. I explained that the gravy, which after all is just turkey drippings, water and flour, added flavour and colour to the turkey stock. Mr. Fixit’s mother, bless her heart, backed me up. The wrinkled hand was removed and I was allowed to proceed with my crazy soup-making technique while Mr. Fixit’s grandmother walked off, exclaiming, “Flour gravy in soup…I NEVER!” Clearly I had rocked her world and shattered her confidence in my cooking. I wondered if she would ever stop talking about her grandson’s crazy wife who put gravy in the soup.

Six months later, we were again at a big family dinner. This time it was Easter at Mr. Fixit’s parents’ house. After dinner, Mr. Fixit’s brother started making soup with the turkey carcass. His grandmother tottered over, and with the voice of authority and not a hint of irony, declared, “Did you know you can put flour gravy in your soup? It adds flavour and colour.”

Rest in peace, Betty. The world is a lesser place for your absence, but you leave a legacy of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who are strong, opinionated, and know the value of connection to family and friends. We will miss you terribly but we are grateful to have known you. You added flavour and colour to our lives.

Posted in Family ties | Tagged | 4 Comments

Love Thursday: Now With Ice Pellets!

I would like to write a longer post today, but you’ll have to settle for a short note. I will be on a snowshoeing field trip with Queen Bee’s class today. For the record, today’s weather forecast calls for snow, rain, freezing rain and ice pellets. All day. It’s miserable out there. I was desperately hoping for a snow day today, but it was not to be. So in just a few minutes I’ll be putting on layers of warm clothing, packing a lunch, pulling on the big snow boots, and going out there to tramp around in the wet and the cold with a bunch of 7- to 9-year-olds.

But it’s totally going to be worth it because Queen Bee will be SO VERY GRATEFUL for this sacrifice on my part that she will be a little angel for at least the next three days, right? RIGHT? Oh, crap.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: parenthood is just one long series of doing crazy things for love. Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope your particular flavour of crazy at least lets you stay warm and dry today.

Posted in Grouchy | Tagged , , | 1 Comment