Friday, May 31, 2013

What Would You Do?

What would you do ...
  • if you have been walking against the current with someone in your life
  • who pops in and out of your days with an irregular sort of regularity
  • when you do see them, you know they don't want to be with you
  • they upset the flow of your day when they come to you on their own terms
  • when they are embarrassed to be seen with you?
  • they don't enjoy their time with you no matter what you do
  • they have been put in a spot where they have no choice but to come to you
  • they have relinquished on their part of a deal with you
What would you do ...
  • if that person was six years old?
  • but their parents are far older than that, and they are in a bind because they cannot afford daycare costs
There is nothing positive coming out of this relationship. When I look at all of the factors I listed, I feel like I am being taken advantage of. Little or no notice is being given to me in regards to their erratic scheduling. Every day this child is scheduled to come to daycare is a big question mark. Will he come? What time will he come? He appears at whatever time they can manage to get him here. No matter how I attempt to change up the day to make it more interesting for him, he doesn't want to do whatever it is that we are doing. It is more than a little bit exasperating.

Then there is the financial end of our partnership. It isn't working. There are many more details. But it is simply not working.

What would you do ...
  • if someone who is not holding up their end of a working relationship comes to you and does not ask for a thing ... but in their silence, they are asking you to give even more than you already have given
  • and all they have to give you in return, is a child who brings down the moral every time he walks through your door
I have maintained adult relationships in my life that have encompassed most of the points that I listed above going against them. I don't have those relationships in my life any more.

I have been running my daycare on my own terms this second time around. I value myself and those around me value what I have to offer. The kids are reaping the benefits of a positive environment. Except in this one case ...

I did nothing ...
  • I empathized with the parent and offered as many options as possible (not one of them included changing our original daycare arrangement)
  • I suggested that perhaps this was for the best since her child does not want to be here
  • I offered my sympathies
  • but I did nothing.
It feels wrong. Yet it feels right. Relationships have to work two ways. Any relationship. If I felt valued in any capacity, I would want to do more. But I don't.

I did nothing.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Inhale the Day ... Then Dance the Night Away

I am concentrating on 'inhaling the day' today.

I have a dance lesson at the day's end so I have a treasure at the end of today's rainbow. I wish that my passion and excitement for my lesson equalled (even half) of what I used to feel.

The dance studio has been my 'Cheers' for many, many years. A place where 'everybody knows my name. A place where I walk in, forget the life that I lead outside of those doors and co mingle with a group of people who are there for the love of dance.

Oh, how much fun it was! Laughter came easily (it still does). The music played and we learned new steps, techniques and patterns and our bodies moved to the tempo of the music (we still do).

What has changed?

The male to female ratio is one that can never be predicted. There have been times where there are more men than women. Other times there is a partner of the opposite sex for everyone. It is the overwhelming number of times where the females outnumbered the males by far, that resonate within me. I don't mind learning the lead. In fact I appreciate the lessons learned in understanding the challenges that the 'lead' is contending with. But honestly? I would rather follow. It is my nature. I love that the sport of dancing has naturally put me in a position I am comfortable with. Following another person's lead.

Then there is the lack of goal-setting. I can't begin to imagine how frustrating this must be as an instructor. How do you plan a lesson when there is no real end goal in sight? We used to have dance showcases every year. Interest has dwindled and (I believe) they lost money when they held the last showcase. Even if they did put on another showcase, I am not in a financial position to participate...

I competed in one dance competition. There was no shortage of goals there! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I savored every moment of the preparation, the trip, the actual competition and the camaraderie among the group from our studio that attended. But I do not have a competitive nature. My competitions are internal. I am my own harshest judge. I don't need medallions or ratings to know where I stand. There is always room for improvement but my biggest measure of success is in how much fun that I have had.

My private lessons are always fun-filled. My instructor intuitively steers his lessons towards the nature of his students. Some of us are there for the fun-factor. Sometimes there is a dose of 'therapy' that is worked into that half hour lesson. I feel safe, capable of learning, free to make mistakes and laugh along the way.

Dancing has enhanced my self esteem a thousandfold. I have enjoyed so many years within those studio walls. I walk in and check my troubles at the door. It is never a conscious decision. It simply happens. I have become the princess at the ball time and time again. Participating in showcases gives a girl an excuse to primp, accessorize and wear a ball gown. It has been a young girl's fantasy come true. Time and time again.

I hope that this is not the end of dancing for me. I see another dance hiatus around the next corner but I hope that is not the end of an era. I want to find my passion again. I lost it these past few years. I haven't been able to find it on the dance floor. I am finding it elsewhere.

I am (perhaps) spread too thin in some areas of my life. I'm working to regain the balance that spells contentment. It is coming. I feel it. I am breathing in the world and I am feeling revived. My oxygen levels must have been lower than I realized because it is taking longer than I thought it would, to regain my equilibrium again.

I am going to breathe in the day today. So that when I walk into the dance studio tonight, I will not only leave my troubles at the door ... perhaps I will bring in a breath of fresh air with me.

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion." 
~ Martha Graham

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Too ... Much

I'm feeling a little 'too ... something' right now.

It started slowly and was barely noticeable. But one phone call started to tip the balance. One more 'date-to-remember' ... one day after 'another-date-to-remember' ... on the same day that My Youngest started asking about 'what-we-could-do-to-celebrate-his-birthday'. Add this to the one weekend that I made plans (a few months ago)? Add all of the above to working on Sundays? It equals ... too much.

The month of June has been filled up with commitments. It started small. But it has grown. It is too busy.

Weekends started losing their fascination for me when work obligations started to overrule the leisure time. I have let the flyer routes go. I have not been asked to do work at my 'housecleaning job' for quite some time now. I just have one job left. On Sundays. When one half of (almost) every weekend is dedicated to work, I feel too committed.

So what have I been doing with any spare moment that I have within any given moment on a weekend? I have been spending money. I called it 'investing in my daycare' to compensate for my guilt in over spending. I agreed to adopt another cat. I have no idea what to call that to compensate for my need to fill a hole that is starting to become bigger than I want to admit. I'm filling that-which-is-empty within me with 'things'. I am spending too much.

My words are frail and brittle. I sit down each morning and wonder what I am going to write about. I am not finding small wonders within everyday moments as often as I was a little while ago. The emptiness within me is making its way to my fingertips. I am not writing honestly. I am not writing enough.

As empty and as over-committed as I am starting to realize that I am feeling underneath the busy-ness that is my life, I know it will all work out in the wash. I am woman, after all. Hear me roar. Or is that perhaps the roar of too many hormones? Or not enough. I really don't know how this hormonal stuff works when you are 50+ years old.

I have decided that the answer to my 'too much ... something' feeling is all summed up in the previous paragraph. I have never been one to blame the ebbs and flows of hormonal changes on the-way-I-am. Perhaps those around me would beg to differ.

For me? What I noticed is that there was a time of reckoning (perhaps every four weeks or so ... or during pregnancy ... or after my children were born), when all of a sudden everything seemed to be brought out into the open. When someone accused me of having the 'Baby Blues', I silently retorted "Baby Blues!??!!! Give me a break! I'm finally just putting a voice to all of the thoughts that I've been thinking for years!!"

I have turned what others may call PMS into my time to take action. It is a time when all that is not working is brought into sharp focus. Much of the time, the focus brings many, many good things to light. When life is out of balance? The focus shifts to that-which-needs-to-be-fixed.

So I shall go and 'fix' something.
  • I don't have to attend each and every function that is happening in the month of June. Simply recognizing that fact eases my tension.
  • My Son's birthday party will be easy. We simply have to plan it on a night where I don't have to work the next morning. To me? It will be a mandatory night off. At home (he is talking about having some friends sleep over)!!
  • I should talk to my Sunday Employer and see if we can come up with a plan where I can work two long days in lieu of being available every weekend.
  • Whenever I feel the urge to spend, I need to spend energy instead of cash. Something inside of me needs nurturing when I feel consumed to fill that need with spending, food or excess sleep.
  • I need to refocus and look at the world through my rose tinted glasses. Looking at the world through the eyes of my Daycare Family is a good place to start. But I must focus on that-which-is-good. Because I have the tendency to focus on that-which-is-tedious when I get like this.
  • I must continue to write. And write honestly. It is times when I let my fingers fly over the keyboard without excessive internal monitoring along the way, that I find my writing is real and relatable.
  • I will grant myself permission to 'just blame it on my hormones' from time to time. Maybe a hormonal day-off should be in order. Simply a day to just say to myself "... and this too shall pass away ..." And when it doesn't? I shall be grateful for the clarity that comes with a really bad day. Often, the best solutions come after the greatest fall.
To anyone reading this that knows me well? Please also know that I am really, really okay. I'm just letting my fingers fly this morning. And this is what they have to say. Today. In this moment. Five minutes from now could (and will be) another story.

Sometimes a person just has to say the words. Unspoken words hold far too much power. I'm just saying it out loud.

Yesterday, it was great customer service. Today? It is a temporary case of 'too much' ...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I am Customer ... Hear Me Roar!

I have had my eye on several projects this spring as the snow melted and revealed what must be done around here.

The first order of business was the 'Dog Containment Project'.

I called a local chain link fence company at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. I told my tale. "I run a daycare and I desperately need a fencing system in place where I can pen our dogs when the kids are outside ..." My story was much longer, the details of what I wanted were plentiful and there was (quite likely) a not so subtle hint of anxiety in my voice.

The lady on the other end of the phone knew of what I spoke. She had run a daycare at one time and could relate to my urgency. "I'll have someone out there this morning ..." And she did.

We went back and forth on what I could get done at this time and a few other options as I continued to come up with 'great new ideas' every time we went out for a walk. Once all the details were in place, I accepted their quote and we were set to go. "We will have the posts in as soon as possible. Friday or Monday at the latest ..." And they did.

The posts had to set a day before they would be ready to commence fencing. They returned the following day and though we had to wait for a permanent gate to be custom made, they provided a temporary solution that got us through the waiting period. One week and one day after my initial phone call, I was in business. There was a 'dog containment system' in place and I could let my daycare family into the back yard.

The temporary gate was quite cumbersome so we didn't take full advantage of our system but we had easy access to the deck and outdoor picnics and snacks became a new possibility in our world. It was the beginning of great things.

I was getting anxious for our gate to be installed, so I sent one (last) email quietly wondering when we could expect this to happen. It was Friday morning and we had been promised this would be installed by the end of the week. It didn't take long and I received a phone call, "Your gates are on the truck and our installers will be there soon." And they were.

This company kept every single promise that they made to me. If they said they would be here before noon? They were. If they gave me a 'promise date'? They met it. Each and every time. Phone calls were returned. Emails were quickly acknowledged. Every single person that I talked to - whether it was the lady who I originally spoke with, as she walked me through every step of the way ... or their guy who measured up the yard and did the follow-up check at the end ... or any one of their installers. Every single person I talked with was considerate of my questions, needs and concerns. Every time.

This is the beginning of their peak season. My job was small potatoes compared to the big, money-making jobs that they must be dealing with. When I called early one morning, the lady I spoke with admitted that she came in at 4:30 a.m., to try and catch up. The phone started ringing at 5:00 a.m. They had every reason to lag behind on their promises to me. But they never did.

I got the invoice yesterday and the only surprise that I received was that I over estimated the cost of a gate that I had them add in at the end. How many times does one pay less than anticipated??

In the mean time, I have also checked out getting new doors installed. I have contacted four companies. Two came for an on-site estimate. A third (where we visited their place of business) was going to email a quote. The fourth (all I made was a phone call) was the only company that I heard back from. These companies took the time to come out to our house, but they didn't follow through with their promises. One of them called to ask if I received their email. I hadn't. I still haven't. I haven't bothered following through with this idea. And definitely not with the companies that didn't even bother getting back to me.

I am but a small home owner. I don't have a big budget and I am not looking to spend a great deal of money. I just need to make what I have ... work. Our city is booming with construction and I would imagine that most companies don't really have a lot of time to waste on a small consumer like me, when their are bigger fish to fry.

My fencing company made me feel like my time and commitments were valued, which felt very good as a customer. I may be but one person in a big city ... but I have a voice. I will tell everyone that asks the 'story of our fence'...

Trust me, I will also talk about those door and window companies that made me feel like I wasn't worth their time.

Make the little guy happy. Treat your staff well (they will in turn, treat your customers well). Don't make promises that you can't keep. It is the best advertising that you could ever promote.

Signed,
The Little Guy With a Voice

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Have I Done?

I woke up to the strange meow of a cat underneath my bed Saturday night. Our New Cat found his way into my room. He did not respect my closed (but not latched) door the way Andre (our Pre-Existing Cat) does. I woke up with a start and I don't think that I ever fell back into a sleep where my brain turned off. The words "What have I done???" ran in a loop in my head for the remainder of my sleepless night.

Why did I go and voluntarily add a complication to our lives when everything was running so smoothly? I felt anxious. Something simply didn't sit well with me.

It is not like I have become completely adverse to change. Is it??

I have spent a fair deal of energy rerouting my abilities to pay the bills. I have tried new things. Several new things. But I have come back to what I know. My daycare.

I have made new friends. Perhaps not recently ... but seeds of friendship that were planted are slowly growing, while long term friendships are in full bloom. Or they blossom the moment they exposed to the sun. I haven't added a lot of new people into my extra-curricular life recently. But getting to know my new little daycare family has enhanced my life.

Last week, I sat back in the quiet of our pre-nap quiet time and breathed in my young little daycare family. There have been some growing pains. It took us a while to get here. But I like these little guys. I really, really do. They snuggle in beside me as tiredness starts to wash through their weary little bodies and I just breathe it all in.

I am loving my new/old life. Much has 'gone to weed' around here while I was gone. The inside of the house needs some scouring, decluttering and some TLC. The outside requires fence repairs, sandbox renovations and massive weed control.

At the moment my energy is being consumed with regaining all that I felt like I lost when I was 'away'. It isn't all consuming. It isn't exhausting. I have been spending my energy slowly and steadily. It is gaining a little bit of momentum which is far, far greater than the state of inertia that I had slipped into the years preceding this.

Enter this New Black Kitty. I don't know if I am ready for him. I am taking my cues from our Senior Cat. He is rolling with the punches and letting this New Kitty find his way around here. Senior Cat follows Junior Cat around in much the same fashion I follow my little Daycare Family. Constant monitoring. Constant teaching. Constant reminders of the rules.

It is exhausting at first. But then? When the work has been done and the heart starts to interconnect with another young being ... you know that it was worth it.

It takes a while. But putting yourself in a place to allow another living being take up space in your heart? It's not a bad place to be. It is just a little scary at first.

I am beginning to see why I have not attracted anyone of the opposite sex into my world. Complications! Who needs them?? I'll try on a new cat for size and get back to you later ...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Reason I Should Work Seven Days a Week

Idle hands + idle time = Double Cat Trouble




Oh no! What have I done??? More to follow (thank goodness I have to work today - it will keep me out of trouble!).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Adventures From Our Day

It was a regularly scheduled day-in-the-life around here yesterday. My agenda looked like it does most days:
  • Kids all day
  • Wind down in the evening
  • Sleep
The up-side of such a mundane daily routine is that one can easily step it up a notch and little things go a long way.

Yesterday, I decided to take my Daycare Family on a walk. My ulterior motive (if everyone co-operated and all went well) was to check out a new 'tunnel' (a pedestrian underpass) that we had never walked through before. As I tried to explain that we were trying to find a 'new tunnel' to the kids, my 2-1/2 year old kept repeating "A blue tunnel??" We went back and forth many times. Me: "New ... not blue" He: "Oh ... a blue tunnel!" Me: "New ..." He: "Blue!" I finally, finally got him to hear the word 'new'. Then we rounded the corner and found our new blue tunnel!


The murals inside of these underpasses were amazing. We walked through a marine wonderland. Perhaps I was more excited than the kids. The pictures I took of the kids do not reflect the excitement that I thought was in the air. But I still thought that it was pretty fun and amazing to find such a treasure at the end of our hunt for the new (blue) tunnel. It was a 'win'!

We then went to check out the library (since we were in the neighborhood) and I started making conversation with a mom in the kids section without looking her in the eye. When I did look up, I realized that I actually knew this young mom. Double win!! This young mom could have (had all gone according to plan) been my step daughter. It was nice to chat with her for a while. She is definitely 'the mom' that I pictured her to be one day.

Our big morning adventure eventually brought us back home where we spent the remainder of the day.

The only twist to my regularly-scheduled-day was the fact that I had a dance lesson at the end of my daycare day.

Only ... this happened instead:
  • 5:25 p.m. - A phone call from My Youngest (who was partaking in an after school activity). "I'm still at school ... there is a perimeter lockdown and no one is allowed to leave ... something about a gun". He was calm, cool and collected. So I picked up my cue from him and reacted in the manner that I assumed he was feeling.
  • 5:45 p.m. - My dance instructor called to confirm that we had a lesson booked. I confirmed that I had marked this date on my calendar and "Yes ... only one small thing. One of my parents had yet to pick up their child and I still needed to clean up and get ready and (oh yeah) My Youngest's school is under a 'lock-down' ... if all goes well, I should be able to still make it in time for my lesson". I would call by 6:30 if I couldn't make it.
  • 6:00 p.m. - My last-child-of-the-day was finally picked up!
  • 6:10 p.m. - I cleaned up and got ready for my dance lesson.
  • 6:30 p.m. - I arrived at My Son's school. And waited (and cancelled my dance lesson).
  • 6:40 p.m. - My Son was one of the few kids that was released from the school. His biggest concern? He was absolutely starved. He had been considering committing his own felony within the lock-down and raiding the fridge in the Home Ec room.
  • 6:50 p.m. - We were home. My Son was eating his supper shortly thereafter.
Although everything looked completely calm on the outside of the school, inside the doors it felt like a scene that could have been taken out of a 'Flashpoint' episode. The school had to be searched room by room and (I would assume that) the police would have to act as though any door they opened could unveil a person (with a gun) hiding out. My Son saw enough bits and bites from this police investigation that it would have all felt very real to him (thank goodness starvation distracted his attention from the drama), but (it sounded like) he made a choice simply not to worry. He shared that gift with me (thank you!!).

I just wrote about the wasted energy that the worrying places upon a person. My Son's conscious reaction not to worry felt like he had read my words (I know that he doesn't).

Instead, I would imagine that he picked up his cues from the administrators of the school, the police, (maybe?) by my example and (maybe??) a little bit of genetic make-up (his dad is a pretty calm, cool, collected guy on the exterior).

All is well that ends well. As My Son was one of the first few released, there was no wave of relief that overtook us (it was more important to get my guy home and fed). It was a good 'practise run'. It could have had a completely different outcome. It ended up being simply a good story that he will have to tell today.

Yes, it was an ordinary day. With a twist. A day of new (and sometimes blue) adventures. We just never know what our day will bring.

As long as it ends peacefully, with no one being hurt and appetites are fed ... I would say that it has been a very good day indeed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Square Peg

I take care of a little guy who is just finishing up his Kindergarten year at school. He just turned six years old ... but he has such a jaded view of the world would never guess that he is so young.

I found myself describing him as a 'square peg'. He just doesn't seem to fit into our little daycare world. He walks in the door with an attitude that screams "I do not want to be here!" He plunks himself down on the couch and so begins our day.

I don't offer any extra or special attention to cajole him out of his mood. I include him in whatever is going on in our day and talk to him like any of the others. In fact, I rather welcome the conversation that he can bring into our young crowd. It doesn't take long and he accepts his fate and carries on with his day.

We go for a lot of walks. When he first started coming here he thought he may die when we took a short stroll to the mailbox (a few blocks away) and back. We gradually increased the length of our walks to include a stop at McDonald's for lunch (quite a distance from here). He no longer complains about walking.

One day, I was attempting to condition my 1-1/2 year olds to the idea of walking. So we walked to the school (which happens to be the school this little boy attends) at the end of the block. As I mentioned our goal to this little guy he adamantly said, "I do not want to go to the school!" I explained that we were not going inside the school. We had no business in the school and we were not allowed inside unless we had a reason to go inside. Still, "I do not want to go to school!!" was his (louder, more insistent) response.

I told him that we were just going to walk to the school playground and check it out. Maybe we would stop and play for a little while. Maybe we wouldn't. Depending on whether or not it was recess time at the school. "I don't want to go to the park!" I went on to explain that during the summer, we go on lots of adventures to the playgrounds in the neighboring areas. It is a lot of fun (and he had better get used to the idea, is what I was thinking). Still, "I don't want to go to the park!!" was his (louder, more insistent) reply.

We stopped and checked out the playground. The playground had a few areas for my 1-1/2 year old girls but there was a lot more area geared towards older kids. So we just wandered around a little bit and I knew that our stay would be brief. This little Kindergarten Guy hid under a play structure for a little while. Then he started to peek out and show me a few things that he could do at this park. A teacher spotted him and immediately said, "What are you (calling this child by name) doing here??" I smiled and said that he was with me but I couldn't help but wonder about the tone in the teacher's voice. It seemed that there may be a back-story here that I was not aware of.

It wasn't long before we turned around and headed for home. My mission had been accomplished. I wanted my young ones to associate something positive with walking. But I shook my head and wondered about my Kindergarten Guy's reaction to such a mundane little 'adventure'. Usually kids of that age are excited to show you their world and all that they know within it. I didn't know what to make of his negative view of being around his school. I correlated this with his reaction to coming to daycare and just left it at that.

Until this week. We walked a little further and went to the playground at a different school. My little Kindergarten Guy was eager to go and play. As we gathered ourselved up and headed towards home he happily stated, "This was fun!!" I have never ever heard those words from him nor that happy tone of voice since I met him. What baffled me more was when he added, "... because no one knew who I was." Because no one knew him??

Why would a young child of such an innocent age be happy that no one knew him? I could not help but think of the words that I had just used to describe this little boy before my mom met him last week. "A square peg"; "One of these things is not like the other. He just doesn't ... fit".

My mom (who is not a kid-person) took a special interest in this little guy on the day he was here. She likes teaching kids little things and there is only so much room to 'grow' within the under-three-year-old set. So to have this interested young boy eager to listen, learn and talk at such an advanced level? They were both in their glory. At one point Mom told him, "You are sure smart!" His response? "Ya ... my teachers don't know that." How many other people in his world label him and expect him to behave the way he has always behaved?

Children find their way into the school system which is geared towards learning within a classroom setting. Some kids handle this better than others. Some thrive. Some are lost. Some fall between the cracks and somehow find themselves advancing through the grades with little sense of satisfaction (and not fully grasping what is being taught).

I have great empathy for teachers. They are doing the best that they can do within the limitations that they have. There are so many learning and behaviour disorders within a classroom that they simply don't have enough eyes, ears, hands and encouraging words to give each and every individual child exactly what they need. Add to that, all that is going on within a child's home life and family dynamics that creates additional barriers to overcome ... and what can a teacher do when their class is full to capacity?

There is additional help for those that qualify for assistance. Testing must be done. School authorities, rules and regulations must be appeased to get assistance for the students that can display a need. This takes time and co-operation on all parts. There may be times that a parent does not fulfill their role to help the school help themselves. There may be other times that the parent feels they are not getting the assistance they need from the school. There are frustrations on so many levels.

Many of these kids end up in the principal's office because they are disrupting the class. A teacher cannot teach a classroom full of children when one behaviour is demanding all of the attention. I worked in schools across the city and it didn't matter what social class or financial status ... there are scholastic and social challenges in all corners of our little world.

I have three children of my own. Each of them fell into different paths once they entered the world of education.

One of my children lived in a world of fear at home. He struggled at school. He repeated a grade (back in the world where everyone did not receive an automatic 'pass') and a great deal of self esteem was lost. Once our family life was calm, he began to succeed in school.

Another was one that simply fell between the cracks. He did not fall into the category where he needed extra assistance, but he was not grasping all that he needed to succeed in a group setting. He advanced through the grades but never felt the feeling of satisfaction from the school system.

One out of three. One of my children has walked an 'easy' path at school. He has the ability to grasp what he needs to know within a classroom setting and run with it. One out of three...

I look at this little soon-to-be Kindergarten graduate and I wonder how this first year of schooling has impacted him. He doesn't want to show off his school. He doesn't want people to know him. His teachers don't (in his eyes) know how smart he is ...

Yes. He walks through the door with an attitude that begs the world to come to him on his terms. It is not an endearing quality. But I am guilty as charged. I have pinned a label on him myself.

We are all square pegs, if you think about it. Some of us are more 'moldable' than others. Often in our desire to fit in, we round off our corners and make it work. Don't we all want to feel that sense of belonging? To fit in socially is as important (to me) than it is to fit in to the scholastic requirements at school. When I went to school, I felt like a 'square peg' socially. It was important (to me) that my children never feel this way. I often said that I felt it was just as (more??) important to feel that social acceptance than it was to excel at school.

Balance. It is all about balance. And when it comes to children, I feel that they need to feel valued. For who they are and what they can bring into their world. I am working with some flexible and impressionable young minds here. It is my job to value each person for their unique qualities and attempt to bring out their own personal best. Which is as unique as their fingerprint. And may often appear to be a little bit of a square peg.

I still think that a little 'rounding of the corners' goes a long way. To feel unaccepted socially is a lonely place to live. I hope my Kindergarten Guy finds a way to find his own piece of happiness within the school system. For him, it has only just begun ...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Days After a Long Weekend

My weekend caught up with me yesterday. In so many ways...

A person can't be around sick people for two+ weeks straight without starting to feel a little rotten yourself. Yesterday was my day. I think that perhaps I am imagining it but I simply felt off. It all started when I couldn't drink my second cup of coffee in the morning. The rest of the day may simply be a result of caffeine withdrawal. All I know is that I had a little nap myself during the kid's rest time yesterday. And I was quite happy to crawl into bed before 8:00 last night. And my stomach still feels wrong this morning. I googled my symptoms and I can't find any good reason why I feel this way. So I must be imagining it. I feel better already.

There has been a virus travelling around this house and it seems to be hitting each of the over-3-year-olds a little bit differently. My mom went home on Sunday still feeling under the weather (an awful cough and a 'funny' head). My Middle Son has strep throat. My Youngest Son has a sore throat (not strep) caused by a virus. I have a funny stomach (see? I told you I must be imagining it - it does not fit the pattern). The one thing that I am feeling almost certain of is that I don't think that the kids had the measles. I think some other viral disease was making its rounds.

I enjoyed my second non-working-weekend in a row this past long weekend. I was a small bit elated when I got the news that I didn't have to work this weekend but instead will work longer next weekend. Bring it on! I would so much rather work twice as long one day and get a different day off.

I filled the weekends with 'stuff'. This past weekend my goal was to take advantage of garage sales to stock up my outdoor toy selection for the kids. I had a great deal of success with my mission. The downside is that I also had a lot of toys to clean. And organize. I shuffled the toys around in the basement, on the main floor and in the play house. I am ready, Summer. Bring it on!!

I had hoped to sit down with a book on our newly acquired lawn swing, on our newly finished deck at some point this weekend. The closest that I got was sitting down with a book on the love seat, with the one hour that I had suggested that My Son work on his homework before we went to see a movie. I read a chapter. Then I slept ... It is truly no wonder that I have six books sitting around the house with bookmarks in (about) the one chapter mark. My goal this summer? Is to learn how to read without sleeping.

As has become my new norm, I was ever-grateful for the return of my work week yesterday morning. Every first-day-back after the weekend has become one of my favorite days of the week. And for this? I am grateful. So very, very grateful ...

The sun is shining down upon us this bright and sunny Wednesday morning. My Son & His Girlfriend's house move is slated for today. Let this day bring only good things their way. This is not too much to ask. Is it?

Monday, May 20, 2013

I am Exactly Where I Am Meant to Be

It was a small, un-momentous moment...

Mom & I were sitting in the coffee shop at the bus depot yesterday morning as we waited for her bus. One of the employees was washing the floor around us as we sipped our coffee. Mom commented on the clean floor. I had been noticing the employee simply going through the paces of her job. All I could think was, "I am glad it is not me ..."

My thoughts had absolutely nothing to do with what one may assume. Never, at any point did it cross my mind that the job was 'beneath' me. The complete opposite was true. I had endeavored to work at this coffee shop's main competitor. I couldn't do it.

The pressure was high. I couldn't keep up. I couldn't learn fast enough. I had a supervisor hovering over me telling me all that I wasn't. I wasn't given the opportunity to overcome that phase before I was told that I was no longer needed. It was an experience that I will never forget. It humbled me in ways that I have never been humbled before.

One of the lessons I learned through that experience was to appreciate every single person doing their job. We have absolutely no idea of that person's back-story. Do they have a boss breathing down their neck behind the scenes? Is this a job that they are just learning? Are they afraid to go out and try something new because the fear of failure is high? Was getting hired for this job the beginning of a new life for them? We have no idea what another person's story is. It is guaranteed that everyone has one.

Learning the ropes at a new job is hard work. Very hard work. Each and every time I see a person going through the paces of their job like they could do it in their sleep, I appreciate all that it took for them to get to that spot.

Doing a good job is a badge of honor that everyone should wear proudly. I don't care what the job is. Whether it is picking up garbage ... to serving me my French fries at McDonald's ... to being a WalMart greeter ... to assisting me with my banking and other important life decisions. I appreciate each and every person doing their best in their endeavor to serve me. Because it is a very hard job to do, let alone do well.

I am back at home, working for the best bosses in the world - the parents of the children that I tend all day. They respect me. They appreciate me. They trust me. They are happy with the job that I am doing. I am doing my best ... and I am being appreciated for that.

This ... is exactly where I am meant to be right now. I am loving the fact that I know and appreciate that little fact.

The Wisdom is in Knowing the Difference ...

Once upon a time, I made a conscious decision not to waste my energy worrying over 'that which I cannot change'. I suppose that it isn't as easy as that, but the more that life goes on ... the more that I think that perhaps that choice is working for me. In fact, I sometimes feel badly that I don't feel worse after hearing other people's woes and worries.

I seem to have an emotional separation that I can turn on and off at will. I don't carry other people's burdens within me yet it doesn't mean that I don't care.

Worrying is such a waste of energy. Do I worry? Yes.

If I have said or done something that doesn't sit well with me, I fret and stew over it until I take action to remedy my wrongs. My conscience will not rest until I make amends.

If there is something that I can do that I haven't done, I waste undue energy worrying about my strategies until I 'just do it'. There is nothing more exhausting to me than knowing that I must do something ... yet I haven't done it.

If I don't know what to do but feel that I should do something ... I make every attempt to simply 'show up'. Often, that is enough.

If I don't feel it is my place to 'show up' ... I write. A note or card or email or letter is sometimes the only thing one can do when you feel powerless over a situation. Whether it is a note to say 'I'm thinking of you at this time' ... or a newsletter to my daycare parents to address a concern ... or a blog to unleash some (what feel like) unjustified emotions over something that is out of my control ... or simply a completely unabridged, unedited spillage of words that will never see the light of day. I write. It brings perspective into whatever it is that is causing my unrest.

This way of 'dealing' has been evolving over many, many years. At one time when I was new into my daycare business, I was feeling that some parents were taking advantage of me. There was such a clarity of who was responsible for allowing that to happen at the time. I was in business for myself. I could make one of two choices. I could do nothing. If I did nothing, I could not expect things to change. Or ... I could address the issues at hand and take the reins of my life back into my own hands. Thus, began my Daycare Newsletters. I have maintained the mantra that if I do not choose to take action, I am fully responsible for the outcome ever since.

This mantra has trickled into my everyday life. I do what I can, when I can do it. Sometimes it isn't much. I may not always succeed, but if I give it my best shot I cut myself some slack and try to do better the next time.

I choose not to carry everyone's burden's on my shoulders. I will definitely walk with someone and ease the load, but I don't take ownership of someone else's problems. I can feel the pain, the heart ache and the sorrow of another. I know that I lessen my own loads by talking freely. I don't expect anyone to solve my problems or take them on as their own. But having the ability to talk freely with a friend eases my load. That is what I hope that I do for others.

I was telling a friend one day that I felt badly for my ability to hang up the phone and simply carry on with my life so easily. She assured me that it was that quality in me that allowed her to unleash her own thoughts so freely. "If I thought that you were going to take on my problems, do you think that I would be able to talk like this?!!?"

It was then, that realized how guarded that I have become when I talk with my mom. It is truly no wonder that Mom sometimes feels the need to read between the lines with me. Because I am not 100% honest with all of the details that I omit giving her. Sometimes? I simply don't know the answers.

In the meantime, I will continue to do what I am doing. It feels good. It feels right. As long as I can sleep at night, I know that I have done the best I can do. Trust me ... the way I can sleep??? I must be doing an awesome job!

It all boils down to the Serenity Prayer: "... the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference".

Amen

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Peeping Dog

Look who I found peeking in my window this morning:


I have my very own personal watch dog. I've never felt safer!


May Your Armor Be With You

A small measles epidemic has run its course through my little daycare family this past few weeks. We were running blind at first, but even after we found out what was the root of all of our symptoms there was little that we could do other than manage the symptoms and alert those around us that 'measles was in the air'.

Yesterday afternoon, My Youngest came home from school feeling dreadful. He told me (later) that he wasn't feeling well when he left for school in the morning but he thought he would get better as the day went on. But he didn't. He felt worse.

The only symptom that he vocalized was that he felt nauseous. One of 'my girls' has had an upset stomach the last half of this week so I guessed that maybe he caught that stomach bug and 'let nature take its course'.

The evening progressed and he slept. And slept.

When he woke up, we chatted a little about how he was feeling. It was then, that I decided to feel his forehead. And he was hot. Very hot. He described his symptoms and everything that he said was related to how one feels when you have a fever.

I gave him some Advil, water and crackers and it was about all that I knew how to do.

I woke up this morning realizing that he is displaying all of the signs and symptoms that my daycare family went through before they broke out with measles. His vaccinations are all up to date and he has never had the measles.

This was when I finally consulted Dr. Google and read up on the measles. From everything that I read, the vaccination removes the risk of contracting the measles. I could find nothing to support my assumption that if you were vaccinated you would get a milder strain of the measles.

I walked through this morning convinced that a different strain of measles had reared its ugly head. I contacted the HealthLine to address my concerns and was advised to take my son to the doctor if he developed a rash ...

Moments ago, I heard the tell-tale signs that my son was awake. I went downstairs to check on him. He said that he is feeling better. A few minor things (perhaps related to the fact that he didn't eat anything last night), but the fever has broke. I made him my magical morning smoothie to replenish some of his food supply (how can you go wrong with strawberries, blueberries, banana, cranberry & orange juices and milk??) and I have a feeling that his super-immune system has kicked that bug out of his system. That is the purpose of a fever. Right?

This was a minor little scare but it opened my eyes to how vulnerable we are to the spread of contagious disease. If a super-bug or a different strain of a known epidemic were to strike, it could spread like wildfire. All I could think of, was the number of people that my son was in contact with when he went to school. You take those people and multiply that exposure to all of the people they could expose before they know they are contagious ...

There is much discussion about the risks of these vaccinations. But what about the risk of not being vaccinated?

We are so very fortunate to have access to free vaccinations. We live in a country where healthcare is a given. When our body is strong enough to fight the good fight and win ... we are very, very fortunate. We take these things for granted when everything works.

One chink in the armor is all it takes to change the outcome. 'Suit up' and forge onwards! May your armor be with you ...

 
Our cat excels in TLC! Me??? I snap pictures to document it instead ...


Friday, May 17, 2013

Not Enough Time

I jump out of bed at 5:30 a.m. every morning and race through my morning routines to find my way to the computer with my breakfast smoothie and coffee so that I can catch up on the blogs that I follow and utilize the remainder of my time letting my own words fall out of my fingertips.

I have two hours to accomplish this minor task. And it is not enough time.

If I do not reply to an email as soon as I read it, I tend to forget to reply at all (or until days later, when I am checking all of the emails in my inbox that are still sitting there because they need to be tended to). Replying to an email cuts into my precious morning time. But if I don't do it then ... it doesn't get done.

I endeavor to keep my daycare blog updated on a daily (regular) basis. But if I update that, I run out of time to write here (as you can see by the lack of posts the past few days ... my daycare blog is up-to-date).

I use the remainder of my time to write here. It is not enough. It is never enough.

I used to utilize my weekends to 'write like the wind'. But my weekends have become consumed with other things. Important things. Things that I want to do. But my fingers are not getting their workout on the computer keyboard. My mind can quickly become cluttered with things-that-I-want-to-write about. But if I don't write about things as I am feeling them, they loose their lustre and are soon tabled and forgotten.

One would think that I could utilize my evenings better. Perhaps one would be right to assume that. But I seem to have developed a word quota in my days. By the time evening rolls around, I am running low on words (anyone who has talked to me in the evening would not agree, but the ability to translate thoughts onto the page after supper has become daunting).

I don't have the answers. I really don't have the time to care about the solutions. In fact? I am a little bit grateful for this dilemma. It means that my life is full and complete. I don't have to write my way through a problem to find my answers. Writing is therapeutic for me. I haven't needed quite as much therapy...

I am racing through this morning and I have said very little. I hope that I can revisit the thoughts that consumed me Wednesday morning and write a post that is more substancial than this one.

I am living a life where there are not quite enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I want to do. It is a very good place to be. I will write more about that. Someday. When I have enough time ...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Back Up Files

The verdict is out. Our computer has died. It was sudden. Yet it wasn't ...

The computer has been running terribly, terribly slow for quite some time now. I had my Computer Guy come out in November and he made some valiant attempts to speed things up. But things didn't change much. We just adapted to the slowness.

So perhaps the computer was 'ill' for quite some time. We had our Computer Doctor make a service call. All was done that could be done at the time. Thankfully I asked for some advice as to how to back up our files. I am even more grateful that I followed through on this advice. I backed up our computer on November 28, 2012. Everything that we have written, worked on, updated and downloaded since that time is in serious jeopardy of being lost. Forever.

Ever since this became a remote possibility of being true, I have walked through the hours of my day and caught myself remembering yet another important file or document or creation that could be gone. Anxiety is wanting to rear its ugly head and then I remember that I saved everything up until November. A lot could be lost. But not everything.

I worked on my dad's family history book a little bit since I backed up our files. I have been beating myself up for not working longer, harder and more diligently on this project. If I had done so, I could have lost it all. At least I have what I saved. Up until November 28th ...

I do not have a 'back up' for all that I have done in 2013. My daycare files. My column files. My ongoing financial information ...

My Youngest Son had pictures, homework assignments and projects that he is in jeopardy of losing. He was so grateful to hear that everything prior to December has been saved. He will lose a little. But not everything.

I have not heard a word from my Computer Doctor since he took our computer home with him to see what he could salvage. At first, he told me that there was a 50/50 chance that we 'lost it all'. As we talked more he admitted that it was less than a 50/50 chance. In his last breath he said something to the effect that it could be far less than those odds. He has prepared me for the worst.

No news is not necessarily good news. While the verdict is still out, there is still hope. I will hold onto that. While I hang onto that thread of hope, I am constantly reminding myself of how grateful that I am to have backed up our files when I did. I am berating myself for not following through on my instinct and backing them up more recently.

Never put off to tomorrow what instincts tell you to do today. I am lucky. This is just 'computer stuff'. As important as it feels at the moment, I know that all is not lost. Not really. I have back up files ...

That is what my writing is to me. My back up files. I have been slightly obsessed with the fragility of the human brain since my dad's brain injury. Life is fragile. Memories can be lost forever. In a heartbeat ...

'Back up your files'. Today. In whatever way works best for you. Pictures. Telling your stories to others. Notations on a calendar. Saving little notes, cards and tokens. Write. Do something to preserve all that is precious to you. You never know when you may lose what you take for granted ...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dust is the Glue That Holds This Family Together

I knew it. I just knew that there was some magical, unknown force holding our family and our home together. Why am I not surprised to find out that perhaps the magic pixie dust that is working so well is ... dust.

A day of housecleaning unveiled this fact. The plaster that came off a wall when I took down a tension rod. The toilet seat that broke when I put the rod (ever so carefully aligning the paint and plaster back to its original spot). The blind slats that broke when I scrubbed off the grease. Then ... the computer that died after it was vacuumed when My Son replaced the power supply yesterday (which I didn't think was a very good idea at the time).

Then came the little things. I was just a little bit grumpier than usual when all of my freshly scrubbed surfaces became dirty so soon after I had cleaned them. Suddenly I was thinking of things as 'my kitchen' and 'my house'. When it is clean ... it is mine. When it is lived in and swiped-down-as-we-go it is ours.

I don't like it when I hear married people talk of joint property with the word 'my' as the possessive pronoun. I cringe when I hear this. If this is the word that spills off  a person's tongue, I can only imagine the 'possessive' self-talk that is ongoing in their mind.

Personally? I do believe I will try to hold onto a little bit of this perspective as I deal with the ongoing issue of dust and dirt. It is our dirt. And I will treat it accordingly.

If obsessiveness overtakes my cleaning and turns 'ours' into 'mine', I will know that I have gone a little too far.

Everything in moderation, you see. Even housecleaning!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Housecleaning 101 - The Job That Never Goes Away

Despite the many hours of cleaning that I was able to squeeze in before Mom's bus arrived last night ... she did not walk in the door and exclaim, "Oh! What a delightfully clean house you have!!" In fact, her first comment was "Where is everyone?" She came to see the people who live here ... not the house. The second comment in reference to the cleanliness was, "Did you have a chance to wash off your cupboards ... or are we having breakfast on the deck?" (she had read my blog post pertaining to the dirt and grime that appeared when the sun shone through the back door)  ... "I really like the idea of eating on the deck!" (slightly paraphrased but that was the gist of her lack of obsession about the dirt and grime around here).

I was dismayed when at first, it seemed that perhaps it was the dirt that was holding everything together around here.

When I took down the 'swag' that I have over the shower curtain, a piece of the wall came down along with the tension shower curtain rod. Oh no! Being unable to use the bathroom fan over the course of most of the winter (because it melted the snow on the roof and created an ice dam in the shingles and it was 'raining' through the light fixture in the front entrance) has created moisture issues of its own. This is only just the beginning. Mike Holmes! I need help...

Then ... when I went to put the same tension rod back up later, I stepped on the toilet so that I could reach high enough. And the toilet seat came off. Aaaack!!! Luckily my handy dandy fix-it skills are not lost to me. I did fix that without wanting to call on someone from the Home & Garden Network (though I do have a list started if Mike Holmes is wanting to know).

The blinds in the kitchen were amazingly clean in appearance which I found amazing because it took all of the elbow grease that I had in me, to scrub the grease off. I broke two slats on the blind when the job was near completion. Thankfully they are near the top and you don't notice (I tried taping one of them back together and that was a big fail ... I woke up in the middle of the night with the 'great idea' of stapling it instead).

So much, so very, very much has fallen into a state of disrepair around here. The walls need a fresh coat of paint. The paint on the cupboards, doors and baseboards has chipped in so many places I don't even know where to begin. The paint on the casings around the living room windows came off when I swiped it with my cleaning rag.

All I can do right now is clean. I put a dent on the endless list of things-to-do. I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit happy with what I managed to accomplish yesterday. As Mom sat at the other end of the kitchen table oblivious to the 'before' look (in all honesty, things really don't look all that different), and telling me that she would rather spend the morning on the deck anyway ... my glance kept going toward the cleaned up areas of the kitchen. It felt better already.

My Youngest was quite unencouraging as I muttered about how I was 'wasting a perfectly good Saturday cleaning' when I wandered into his room. He approached me later and said when eventually he has a place of his own, he is only going to clean the parts that show when company comes over. That is exactly what I've been doing for the past four years. It is all that doesn't show that starts to take on a life of its own. Eventually.

Home maintenance and house cleaning are both best handled in small, regular doses. The list of things to fix, replace or maintain is growing by the minute (another disadvantage of housecleaning is that it brings to light all-things-in-a-state-of-disrepair). The list of things to clean is yet another Pandora's Box.

I was feeling pretty good about myself until I woke up this morning and opened a drawer in the bathroom. Ugh!! There are many more drawers and cupboards just like it. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.

I am grateful to be back in a spot where I see our home as something more than a place of refuge after a hard day working at a job outside these doors. When hunkering down and gathering up your energy to face yet another day out in the trenches of life-outside-your-home, you (sometimes) simply don't have the energy to care about minor things such as the cobwebs that are hanging by your back door. Let alone the desire to waste your precious at-home-hours cleaning those cobwebs and other assorted nooks and crannies.

It feels good to care again. The energy is coming ...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

To Mothers Everywhere ... "Happy Mother's Day"

I'm having a little bit of Mother's Day Anxiety. I do a better job at living up to this occasion when I am not 'on location'. Writing a letter to tell Mom that I think she is pretty special? Easy! Sending a card to mark the occasion? Hallmark, you've made a few dollars off of my ability to carry through with that. Sending a gift in the mail? Receiving a parcel in the mail is a gift unto itself. It takes the pressure off of what is inside of the packaging. I can do that. I enjoy doing that. Especially when the gift is attached to no important date.

This year, my mom is coming here. Tonight. She will be waking up Mother's Day Morning. Here. In my house. With me. In person. What in the world can I do to live up to the pomp and circumstance of such an occasion? [heart rate goes up here].

First of all, my biggest gift to you will be whatever I can manage to clean, organize, buy and arrange before your bus arrives tonight. There is so much to do. And I have so much time to do it in. But I don't want to do it. The dirt and the dust and the clutter and the disorganization have grown so big and so tall that I don't know where to begin. Honestly? I want to begin by shutting out the sun. Then you can't see how dirty everything is. Perhaps this will be your gift to me. Your arrival will force me to move. To take one step in a forward direction. And start to move the mountains of dirt around here. One teaspoon full at a time. Thanks, Mom. I will be forever grateful.

Secondly, I had hoped that some deep and profound words would pour out of my fingertips this morning so that I could print this off and give it to you as a testament of my respect, honor and love that I have for you. I know that I don't do this as often as I used to, but I have done my best to convey my thoughts and feelings as I live and breathe them. I hope that I honor the mother that you have been, are, and forever will be ... by living my life in a way that makes you proud. I hope to raise my own family in a way that perpetuates the sense of family that we have among us. I am so grateful for the bonds within our family. I can see my own little family starting to emulate what they have grown up with and it makes my heart happy. Thanks, Mom ... for living your life the way that you do. For showing us that 'love' is a verb. I'll never forget the story about when a squabble among my two older sisters resulted in Mom telling one of her daughters to tell the other "I'm sorry". My sister simply couldn't do it. The best that she could muster was, "I can think it ... but I can't say it". Mom thought to herself "Good enough". It is better to think something and be truthful to yourself and the world around you, than to go off spouting empty words just because you have been told to do so. "I love you too, Mom" ...

Third, I don't have a gift for you. Perhaps as today unfolds, some physical token will present itself to me so that I have something for you to unwrap. But I don't do well under pressure. Let my gift to you be the unexpected gift that may have already arrived. Or the package that will find its way to you when I find something that speaks to me. Just because I don't have a gift doesn't mean that you aren't gifted. I hope that the day is a little bit special for you and I will do my best to help that happen. But I simply fold under pressure. Please forgive me. You don't have to say the words ... I will hear them if you feel them. Your unspoken vocabulary is far louder than you realize.

Fourth, I expect no more than I give this Mother's Day. To my own children ... no physical token is required. You give me gifts throughout the year without realizing that you are doing so.

To My Oldest - the last time you were over you shuddered just a little bit when you uttered the words (to me) that you can't believe how much you are like me. Yes ...  you were talking about my our obsession with pre-washing dishes before they go into the dishwasher. But the moment you said the words (again), I had an instant replay of the time you came home when you were driving your friends around in my car when you were a teen. Your friends were 'misbehaving' (I don't remember their exact actions but they were distracting you while you were driving in much the same way an out-of-control child can do) and you pulled the car over and stopped. You told them (something to the effect of) to settle down or get out. You quite physically shuddered when you told me this at the age of 16, "I can't believe it ... I'm turning into you!!"

Thank you. You have been listening all along. Your subconscious mind will remember some of the wisdom lessons that I have done my best to share with you. You will hear my 'voice' throughout your life. It may not seem like much right now but some day it will. Trust me. I know this. I cherish hearing Dad's words of wisdom when I need them the most. Mom may live five hours away but I am forever quoting her. May you remember the 'good stuff' and let the rest go. Please??

To my Second Son - you and I share a perspective about life and how we see it on a sporadic, yet somewhat regular basis. Having you back at home while you rerouted your life these past years has added a little lot of the mundane day-to-day stuff to our lives. Neither one of us enjoys chit-chat on a regular basis. We tend to steer our energy towards 'real' conversations. We have had many. Most recently, was when we drove out to see Mom a month ago. I enjoy your perspective, your passion, your integrity and your honesty. You tell me truths that I may not always want to hear but you keep it 'real' around here. You see me - inside and out. The good, the bad and the ugly. And (I think) you still love me. Words are cheap around here. We don't say it out loud. We act in loving and respectful ways. I hear you too ...

Thank you. You make many, many days 'Mother's Day'. You do things without me asking you to. You do things when I ask too. I know it is ever-so-much-easier to do something when it is your choice ... I thank you for doing the 'hard stuff' when I know you'd rather take a memo and get back to me. You have been the 'Man About the House' that I have never had. Not since Dad ... not since Dad ... Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it.

To My Youngest - you are wise beyond your years. You have enveloped the characteristics of your older brothers and wove them into something unique and special within you. You have inherited and embraced the characteristics within your dad that I loved. You have only just begun yet I see the path that you are headed towards. You were the gift that I did not ask for, yet I received anyway. You talk with me about your days, your hopes and dreams ...  yet you listen to me carry on about my mundane little stories too. You know of what I speak when I talk about my frustrations within my little daycare family. And you lead by example. I am learning from you ...

Thank you. You listen to my little rants. Oh, except for those times when you sort of shake your head a little bit after I've spoken a little too long without breathing and say, "What?" Yes. I know. I do it too. So did your dad ...  so did your dad ... (please remember to honor that side of yourself). You are a patient and caring young man. You see beyond the obvious and you are looking ahead with your head secured tightly. No rose colored glasses perhaps, but the ability to see through the clear reality-tinted ones is a gift. Embrace it. When you look back on your life one day, I am wondering whose words of wisdom will come back to you. Mine? Or your own??

To My Mom - see what you have done? Do you see what I see and feel within my little family? This is the greatest gift that you have given to me. The ability to parent my children in the best way that I know how. I was a different parent to each of them at different parts of my life. I did the best I could with what I had at the time. My Oldest does not recognize me as the person who raised him. For that, I am both sorry and grateful. I'm grateful that I improved (?) with age ... but sorry that he was the one who took the brunt of my learning curve in the early years.

Thank you, Mom. Words can't begin to encompass my gratitude. But I try. I will continue to do my best to carry your wisdom and lessons and words within me. I promise to hang on and cherish the good stuff and let the rest go. We are imperfect people in an imperfect world. We teach our children what we know when we know it. But most of all ... we teach by example. Thank you for setting the example that you have set for me. Thank you for enduring the 'hard stuff' so that you can sit back on a day like Mother's Day and feel the goodness that you have created come back to you. May that be the gift that you receive. Not just from me. But from all of those who you have mothered along the way.

There you go, Hallmark. I did it my own way. I may not make greeting card brevity requirements, but I did what I set out to do (I think ... I must go back and reread this now!).

It is kind of nice to have a special day to honor your mom after all. No matter where she may be. We carry our moms within our hearts and we share what they gave us to those who touch our world. I think moms everywhere know this. May the moms who are looking down upon us feel all that we are feeling. Sometimes ... the words simply don't have to be said. They know. Because we feel it deeply and act accordingly. Please know and be comforted that your mom knows how you feel about her. Wherever she may be ....

Laugh Out Loud Moment on a Quiet Saturday Morning

This made me laugh out loud. Time and time again this morning. Click on this link to watch a segment from "Pumpcast News" on Jay Leno. It features a couple that not only 'jump to the pump' ... they do a little singing and dancing as well. This couple makes marriage look fun:

Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNM0ENUCO5I&list=RD02j8E1DeS_JzM

Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8E1DeS_JzM

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Would Have Forgotten to Go Dancing...

I walked inside after having supper on our newly constructed deck (and perhaps a Cooler or two) with My Son and it was 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday night...

It all started with an innocent question. I was reheating a (previously) barbecued hamburger in the oven. "Would you like one?" I asked. He asked if I would like fries. I asked if he would like to sit on the deck and have a drink ...

The next thing you know, it was 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday night. I looked at the clock and remembered what day of the week it was. All I could think was, "Thank goodness I didn't have a dance lesson tonight. I would have forgotten all about it."

This ... is what I love about my new/old life. No more flyers. I have almost used up all of the dance lessons that I have paid for. My weeknight commitments are almost non-existant.

And I'm loving it!!! I'm loving every moment.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Independence Encouraged Here

I am a great believer in providing children a safe, comfortable environment surrounded with opportunities to play, learn, adapt and grow within my daycare. Most of all, I try to encourage age-appropriate independence.

I have endeavored to collect toys that will grow with the kids and provide 'accidental learning' through play. I interject electronic gadgets into the mix but it isn't all about computer games. We watch some TV but I like to steer towards programs that teach values or lessons or learning.

I like to stand on the sidelines and guide them towards fair play and being kind verses sitting-on-the-floor and actually playing with the kids. This is how I have raised my own kids. I have two full-grown children and one semi-grown advanced teen as my testament that 'my way' is not a bad way to raise a child.

I am feeling a little challenged within my present-day-daycare situation. I take care of three children under the age of three. Two of these children have no other siblings and the third child has siblings that are about ten years older than her. Enter my part-time Kindergarten child who is the youngest child within his own family and all of his cousins on all sides of his family. I am surrounded by children who are a little bit used to the world revolving around them.

My three little ones, under the age of three are growing up together. They are interacting with each other within their days and life-at-daycare. It isn't 'all about them' here. They are part of a family. We have had some growing pains ... but I think we are headed in a good direction.

Enter my Kindergarten Guy. I was updating my daycare blog this morning and it wasn't until my fingers were telling the story of our day, that I realized that it didn't matter what I chose to do with our day ... Kindergarten Guy was not impressed.

He doesn't like daycare. He doesn't enjoy being around 'babies' (he isn't used to being the oldest). He doesn't enjoy walks. So I diverted our walk into 'Lunch at McDonald's'. I thought having a destination in mind would curb the complaining (walking to the mailbox a few blocks away was too far at first). And it worked. He didn't voice a negative word as we made our way down the city streets en route to our lunch destination.

But it was the 'adventure' that we could have had on our way home that makes me sit back and scratch my head.

We wandered through Petland. He held his nose and hated every moment of it. We were being shadowed by a store employee that gave off vibes of not trusting me to ensure my kids behaved in an animal-appropriate ways, so I was just as glad to get out of the store as my Kindergarten Guy was ...

We cut through the mall and I let the kids sit in the various coin operated 'rides' they have scattered throughout the mall. Kindergarten Guy didn't want to 'embarrass himself', so he trailed along his younger companion and went where he went ... but seemed determined not to have fun.

We stopped at a park that was on our shortcut back home. A dog scared Kindergarten Guy. He is afraid of animals. All animals (his fear is greatly exaggerated when he has an audience).

After that excitement, the boys stood atop of the play structure. The playground was not age appropriate for my little guy, but Kindergarten Guy simply stood there too.

At that point, there was little left to do than go home. And we did.

This little guy is not yet six years old but he makes being a 'child' look like very hard work. He plops himself down on the couch and has the look of "I'm here. It is now your job to impress me ..." about him. What will he remember when he looks back on being a child? Will he hear laughter in his memories? Will he remember using his imagination and creating his own fun? Or will it be all about the world around him creating the fun and enjoyment for him?

What is happening to our children? Are we taking away their creativity by filling every moment of every day with something to stimulate them so much that they are not learning the joy of using their imagination through plain old ordinary 'play'?

I am not climbing on a soap box here and saying what I think is right or justified or the only way. It is just what I am seeing through my own tunnel vision here within my little daycare world.

I will continue to do what I am doing. I will guide these children to play together and apart independently, fairly and within a safe, clean and comfortable environment. My goal is to do my part in creating 'good citizens' when they go out into this big, brave world. I strive to help them build their independent thinking skills. Because there is nothing more scary (to me) than sending a child out into the world without their own reasoning skills and 'free will' highly developed.

As I tell my 2-1/2 year old little guy each and every day:
  • "Think"
  • "Use your own brain"
  • "Be a leader"
  • "You can teach the little ones what you know"
  • "You are the best little two-year-old that I know!"
  • "Just be yourself" ...
He isn't absorbing what I am telling him right now, but I do hope that these words will someday start to become part of his own thinking skills. And most of all, I hope when he hears 'my voice' in  his head when he is all grown up, he will hear positive words.

I encourage independence here. Independent play. Independent thinking. Fair play and respecting others. These are good rules to follow no matter how old you get.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Let the Sun Shine In!!! (or not)

Due to the lack of kids  here today, we have been able to leave the back door open and let the sun shine into our day with all of its glory.

The sun has brought to light, that which I have known all along. This house is dirty. Very dirty.

When that very same door is shut, the natural light come in via a north window (aka: indirect sunlight no matter what the time of day). When the door is open? The morning sun from the east shines brightly.

Oh! The screen door was a mess. That was easy. I cleaned that up while my 2-1/2 year old ate his breakfast. Once that was clean, the kitchen looked worse than it did before I started.

The dirt and grime on the screen door glass must have diluted the natural sunlight by an iota. Because when I turned around, all I could see was the water marks left behind on the dishwasher, stove, fridge and cupboards. Don't even let me get started on the blinds and kitchen window.

I have company coming this weekend and the kitchen is disgusting. If I keep the back door closed I may be able to get away with a minimal amount of scrubbing and scouring. If we have breakfast on the deck, go out for a while and return home after the sun has moved in a westward direction ... that could work. Maybe it will be cloudy and the sun won't tell the tale of my unkempt house ...

Then again ... maybe I could just clean things up around here. The sad part is that there is quite literally no end to the dirt that has been evading the sunlight. It is everywhere.

Maybe I'll take the kids outside to play for a while instead.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Gift of Choice

I have been hard pressed to understand exactly why my weekends have created a small amount of anxiety within me.

Yes, I know that it is very simple to pinpoint the physical reasons. I am juggling a few too many responsibilities and the weekend seems to be catch up time. If it isn't one thing, it is another. My time is consumed.

But as I wandered through this morning with only precious few minutes of it left before my daycare family starts arriving, there is a difference in the air this morning. I do not have to leave the house today. Unless I choose to do so.

Chances are very, very high that I will make the choice to wander outside the confines of life-at-home. I love taking my little people out for a walk. We are limited as to what we can do and how far we can go. But we have the choice to go (thank you, Spring).

The difference about my weekends is the lack of choice. I must leave the house by a specific time. It doesn't matter how much or how little that I have to do before that predestined time rolls around, I find at least three more things to do before I run out the door. I have adopted the bad habit of arriving five minutes late to any and all weekend obligations. It is a sickness. It is like I am internally fighting this weekend-must-do-mentality by being late. As if my time is more important than someone else's. As I wrote the words, I heard my inner voice saying, "On the weekend?? It is ..."

I work for friends. They would completely and totally understand if I called them up at the last minute and cancelled. So showing up five minutes late is not the extreme faux pas that my mother has ingrained in me. But my mom has taught me well. Five minutes ... thirty minutes ... or not showing up at all. It is all a sign of disrespect. That is not the message that I am trying to send when I wander in five minutes late to each and every Saturday or Sunday morning job that I have.

Perhaps that five minutes buys me the gift of 'choice'. I do choose to go. But on my own conditions .... Nope. I'm not buying that either. The minute that I must do something, it changes my mind set.

Each and every time I work at any of the above jobs, once I am there I am more than happy to take on whatever job is set out before me. In fact, yesterday was almost fun. It was enjoyable. Thoroughly. At no point after I headed the car in towards the day I was about to live, did I have a moment of regret or foreboding. I want to do this.

I chatted with my 'Sunday Boss' yesterday and she is more than a little bit accommodating when it comes to making this work. As time goes on, I will be able to do more from home and the need to go out to her place will lessen. I don't know if that is a good thing or not. Because my home is already my 7:30 - 5:30, Monday to Friday place-of-employment. Any time that I have had extra bookkeeping to do from home, I do with the greatest of effort. I don't like mixing my scheduled down-time at home with another job. I do sort of enjoy the physical distance that separates me from my work.

So ... the reality is that given a choice, I would probably choose to work outside of my home verses having work bully its way into my weekend. At home.

But no matter which way I slice and dice it, as usual ... it is Monday morning and I am beyond grateful that my work is coming to me.

Given a choice? I choose to work from home. Doing what I am doing works best for me right now. Even when my out-of-home work obligations infringe upon the weekend ... it simply makes Monday morning feel better than ever.

When you wake up on a Monday morning and feel gratitude for the day and week ahead of you ... you know that you have chosen well. You are where you are meant to be. At least for now.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Power of Intention

I tried writing earlier this morning, but my thoughts were scattered and my words didn't tell the story of my mind. All I can say is ... thank goodness.

I deleted paragraphs of words, wrote an email to My Brother (please delete and forgive me?) and read an email that arrived this morning.

It was an email of an inspirational kind. It was brief and to the point. It should have held my interest. But it didn't. There were three words that caught my eye: "The Power of Intention" ...

I googled those words and knew that I was not up to reading this morning, so I clicked on a YouTube video. The speaker was Wayne Dyer. I have had at least two people on two separate occasions refer me to his books or talks on PBS. I just didn't follow through. I tried. But I didn't have the attention span to absorb what he had to say over the course of his fundraising talks on public television (sorry).

I started by watching this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db0i4beFpWo . It is ten minutes long and this morning ... it spoke to me. So I invested 51 minutes of my Sunday morning to watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdjCxmoomTM .

It was well worth the time spent. For me. Today. I am short on time this morning but just thought I'd drop off this suggestion here this morning. Follow-up to follow on a day when I have more time.

The amazing part of this entire experience this morning was when I heard the last few minutes of Mr. Dyer's 51 minute video. I have been quoting this story of his for years as "something I once heard". Your words have been within me all along, Wayne Dyer. I have been following the path that I must have heard a very long time ago. As I wrote down the 10 Principles, it was as if I had been subconsciously living my life in my own version of this all along. I must have absorbed his words long ago but had no idea what my 'source' was.

Now I know. Now I will listen more carefully. Onward ...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Listen to the Silence

Moments from my morning-thus-far ...

I stepped out into the hallway this morning and was greeted by our cat who was waiting for an early morning massage. He stretched out before me and rolled and purred and enjoyed the moments of human contact.

Our little miracle senior cat seems to have bounced back to his former state of health. He is showing us his kitten-like ways on a semi-regular basis. He is up to the occasional game of 'tag/hide run & seek' with My Youngest. He is making every attempt to sneak outside. His fur is shiny and his appetite is back. It has taken months ... but I feel like he has worked his way through whatever was ailing him.

I love the quiet morning greeting from our most favorite cat in the world. It is a most excellent way to start a Saturday morning.

Our home is still asleep this morning. It has been a very long time since I woke up to a Saturday morning such as this (ALL paper and flyer route deliveries from this address have ceased as of April 30th). It is a little bit wonderful.

The job of delivering papers brought an element of goodness to our lives, but we have learned our lessons, paid a few bills and are moving on. It is beneficial when we can get paid to exercise and breathe fresh air. It also places demands upon a person that reap few rewards other than those you create for yourself.

There was an air of hectic-ness that oozed through our lives these past six+ months of delivering papers/flyers. This morning? It is gone. And it feels good. It feels very good.

I have no place that I must be or nothing that I must do today. My Youngest hesitantly asked me if I would be too busy this weekend to see 'Iron Man 3' with him. I am free as a bird and now I have a date to go and see a movie with my son today. And it is good.

I ache for non-working weekends. But where I am is where I need to be. So I will appreciate and revel in the opportunity that I have been given, to diversify my income and work experience. Bookkeeping on the side has been part of my 'retirement plan'. I am beyond blessed that this job has come knocking on my door and I will follow this road for as far as it takes me.

Working on Sundays help me appreciate my Saturdays. I can appreciate my Saturdays ever-so-much-more now that I don't have flyer deliveries to squeeze in, within the Friday and Saturday night deadlines.

The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The day is mine. To do with, as I please. Soaking up a little bit of sunshine, with a book in my hand and a wine cooler at my side sounds blissful. Now if only I had a comfy spot to curl up on, on our newly finished deck ....

A person must keep dreaming. Dream of the little things that you wish to bring into your day today. Invite a little sunshine and bliss into your day and come join me for the ride.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Reason I Take My Job Very Seriously

Children See, Children Do:



As I tell 'my kids': "When you know better, you do better". And what is my excuse when I exhibit behaviour I don't want my kids to repeat? Thankfully this is happening less and less as time goes on (and spring seeps into our days).

** P.S. Two hours after posting this and sending myself positive, subconcious messages ... I was not the adult role model that I set out to be. I am an imperfect person in an imperfect world. I do my best. But I am human. My patience has limits. When exceeded, a 'time out' is required. I gave myself the time out as much as I gave it to the child that was testing my patience. We came back at it with a 'let's start from here' attitude and carried on with the day. Sometimes? We teach our children how to overcome challenges by overcoming them ourselves. Instead of beating myself up over a bad moment, I will focus on the fact that the moment was brief and that we overcame it in a positive way. Sometimes? We do our best and though it isn't perfect ... it is good enough. Let's teach ourselves 'forgiveness'. Forgive ourselves, forgive others. Learn. And carry on...**

Birds are Singing ... Spring is in the Air

I was outside walking with the kids yesterday when I spotted my first robin of the season.

We stopped walking and I tried to show the kids the robin but it kept flying away. Then I noticed the rest of them.

A tree rich with berries was full of robins. They were flying from all around to feast on the berries.

Then I heard the honking of Canadian geese high up above us flying in a "V" formation. They were coming home.

We looked back into the tree and saw more birds. These birds I didn't know, but their hair was back combed in the fashion of a blue jay but they weren't blue. Perhaps a cedar waxwing?

They weren't our ordinary variety of birds. We are used to crows and sea gulls. These birds were new to our eyes this season.

We stopped walking. We pointed up into the tree and the sky. We stopped and marvelled and simply enjoyed the moment.

Would I have done that if I was out for a walk alone? Probably not. With another adult? Perhaps. But not on the same level as I enjoyed yesterday.

Hanging out with kids all day gives me 'permission' to see the world fresh and new. Every day.

If we allow ourselves these moments, it brings the small wonders of a day into focus. Whether it is birds, planes, lady bugs or the ever-changing traffic lights. These very same conversations become very inane day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute.

This morning, as my 2 1/2 year-old copies every single action, sound and facial expression of my 1 1/2 year-olds? Not so precious. It is a game that gets old very fast (especially when I know that we have at least nine more hours of this particular game).

Taking a small moment and bringing your full attention to it can be a good thing. It can also work against you.

Today I will try to focus on the birds in the sky ...