11 Confirmations that I Am Definitely ‘Type A’

Every now and then, a friend shares a link on Facebook that is totally relatable and describes me better than I can sometimes describe myself.  Tonight, my friend Amy shared a link titled “11 Things Every ‘Type A’ Person Wants You To Know”  and I couldn’t help but immediately identify with the list of things that author Lindsay Holmes identifies at the attributes of Type A individuals.  Here is a condensed version of Holmes’ list (for the full version, follow this link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/11/type-a-frustrations_n_7213668.html ) and how I think each one of them relates to me.

1. We’re not impatient, just efficient. It’s true that I absolutely loathe activities that waste my time (waiting in lines, slow traffic as described by Holmes).  Even as I type this now, my keyboard keeps freezing and slowing down my writing process, and it’s driving me crazy!  Although most people use the line “Ain’t nobody got time for that” as a joke, I honestly believe in it.  Don’t waste my time, or we can’t be friends. And if you’re driving slow in front of me…. well let’s not even go there…

2. Arriving late to anything is agonizing. I’ve never been able to understand how people can constantly arrive late for things.  Some people (such as my husband) like to wait until the very last minute to leave for events and this just drives me insane!  Whether it’s a wedding or a dentist appointment, I like to be on time, if not several minutes early.  I know the frustration of having my time wasted (see above comment) and therefore don’t like to waste anybody else’s time either by being late for an event.  Also, the stress of leaving late and then hurrying to get there just isn’t worth it, if you ask me.                        to do list

3. We live by to-do lists. I am definitely the kind of person who writes to-do lists for my to-do lists.  As you may have noticed, I even have a category on this blog called Lists which should tell you how much I love them.  There’s not much that I find more satisfying than writing a list and checking off each item as it’s completed.  I will admit, I’ve even been one of those people who add things to my to-do list after they’re already completed, for the sole satisfaction of being able to place that neat, tiny little check mark beside it.  Whether it’s a grocery list, a list of household chores, ideas for my classroom, or even a bucket list, I love, love, love to-do lists.

4.  Each task we’re assigned is urgent.  To me, this goes along with the point about being efficient.  If there is a task that needs to get done, there’s no time like the present to complete it (after all, then I can hurry over to my to-do list and happily check it off). But seriously though, procrastination irks me.  Work, and then play – that’s my motto.  I can’t truly enjoy myself if I know there are “tasks” that need to be done, therefore there’s generally a feeling of urgency  when it comes to completing them.

5. We’re extremely goal-oriented. I would say that’s a pretty accurate description of myself.  Throughout my life, I have set goals and have worked hard to complete them, both big and small.  While there are always challenges in reaching any goal, I like to think that my stubborn streak and determination is what helps me in overcoming them.  Whether it’s losing weight, passing a class, or finding Mr. Right, when I set a goal, I am bound to meet it.

To do:  Practice more yoga, learn to meditate.

To do: Practice more yoga, learn to meditate.

6. It’s hard for us to relax.  I am pretty sure I’ve already written about this in a former blog post, as I am well aware that I can not relax easily. Again, this goes back to the idea mentioned above about a sense of urgency with anything and everything that needs to be done.  Like most Type As, my to-do list is never-ending and since I can’t relax until all the tasks are completed, I often find myself in a vicious cycle of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to relax. I do acknowledge this as a potential hazard to my mental state and have it written on a to-do list somewhere to take more yoga and learn how to meditate 😉

7. We get stressed out easily. Along with the difficulty in relaxing and the never-ending lists of tasks that need to be done now, comes the obvious fact that Type As get stressed out easily.  Blame it on the pressure we put on ourselves, our constant strive for perfection, or our slight anal-retentiveness, but I think we can safely say that most Type As live in a constant state of stress.

8We have nervous habits.  At first, I thought this was one of the few points that didn’t directly relate to me.  Until I read Holme’s first example: hair twirling.  Yep.  And her second example: nail biting.  Yep.  I guess this article is even more accurate than I had first assumed.hair twirl

9. We’re emotional. Now here’s one I can relate to.  I used to like to describe myself as laid-back until I really understood what the term meant and then got to know myself better.  I am not laidback.  In fact, I am usually pretty high-strung, and I am always emotional.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and cry a lot.  And once the emotions start running high, it’s nearly impossible for me to get control of them.  Usually I end up in some kind of teary, snotty, irrational and uncontrollable mess.  So when Holmes’ says we’re emotional, I say, amen sister and thanks for the understatement.

10. We’re constantly ruminating over something. Like the emotional spirals I send myself into, I often cause undue stress to myself by worrying about things that are out of my control.  I believe this relates directly to Type As’ need to control everything.  If it’s something I know that I can’t have complete control over, I tend to worry.  If you don’t believe me, just ask my husband who constantly has to reassure me and get me thinking rationally again.

11. We have a competitive side. I always thought that my competitive streak was because I am a Sagittarius but I can also see how being Type A makes me competitive.  I can vividly remember those girls in gym class who preferred to pick dandelions in the field instead of playing their positions in our baseball games and how much it used to irritate me.  And now, my Mom gets annoyed with me because I yell at the TV during baseball games.  Sorry, Mom, it’s not me, it’s the Type A 🙂

 

So there you have it.  If there was ever any doubt that I am a Type A, I think we can safely say that it’s been squashed.

Oh and remember that point that was made earlier about each task being urgent? Well, although I was feeling pretty tired about halfway through writing this post and really should have just saved my work to finish tomorrow, I felt much too unsettled to leave it incomplete and therefore forced myself to stay awake to finish it.  Check.

Also, my keyboard is still freezing on me. So annoying.

 

 

 

May Mayhem: Sad Endings and Happy Beginnings

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve been able to just sit and write about what’s been on my mind lately.  May has been a whirlwind of a month and I feel like I’ve been on the go constantly.  I finally have some time to myself though and was itching to get back to my blog.  So here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

"She's Ready to Pop!" popcorn favour made by yours truly

“She’s Ready to Pop!” popcorn favour made by yours truly

At the end of April, Mariah (my step-daughter) and I helped my mom host a surprise baby shower for my sister-in-law Sarah.  I took the Friday off work and we headed out early for an hour-and-a-half mini road trip to my hometown where my parents still live.  Friday, we stopped in to see my Grandpa at the hospital and then spent the afternoon decorating and prepping things at the church basement where the shower was to be held.  We had fun getting creative, using Pinterest ideas, and setting things up.   Saturday, the fun began.  We headed over early again to put the final touches on the shower preparations as the guests streamed in.  Shortly after, Sarah arrived and was very surprised to see the room full of friends, family, and loved ones all there to celebrate her and her bump (which had grown exponentially since the last time I saw her!)  We had a lovely afternoon playing traditional shower games, feasting on treats, and visiting with a lovely group of ladies.  Sarah and the baby were spoiled with piles of beautiful gifts and the afternoon was a success overall!  As the few remaining guests prepared to go, a few of my aunts were nice enough to stick

Mariah and Izzy playing shower games

Mariah and Izzy playing shower games

around and help us disassemble and clean up the party.  That evening, Mariah and I relaxed at my Mom & Dad’s content with the successful party we’d thrown and even more excited for my soon-to-be niece to make her arrival.The next day (Sunday) Mom, Dad, and I went back to the hospital to see Grandpa after receiving a call from the nurses saying he was having a hard day.  Grandpa (my Dad’s dad) had been hospitalized two weeks prior after those at home could no longer care for him due to his increasingly bad dementia (and a myriad of other illnesses and conditions). It was a particularly tough visit for me because for the first time ever, I saw my Grandpa cry. He hated being in the hospital, was lonely, and had a hard time understanding and accepting that it was the best choice for his care and well-being.  Not only that but his dementia left him confused, often not remembering when his loved ones had been in to visit him, and referring to my Grandma (his wife) as his Mom.

I left that day with a sadness that I was unsure could be cured.  Poor Grandpa, I kept thinking.  Eighty-eight years of a fulfilling, busy, happy life and now to be laying in a hospital, too deaf to communicate, and too sick to care for oneself.  I cried a good portion of the way home and desperately prayed that if all that was left of Grandpa’s life was suffering and sadness, that he’d soon pass and be able to rest peacefully.

Me with Grandpa and Grandma a few years ago at their farm house.

Me with Grandpa and Grandma a few years ago at their farm house.

Well, sadly, those prayers were answered about a week and a half later.  My Mom contacted me on the evening of Monday, May 4th to tell me that Grandpa had come down with pneumonia and one of his lungs had shut down completely.  The doctors had put him on a breathing machine but his heart was working in over-drive and once removed from the machine, they didn’t expect him to make it long.  I cried good and hard as this news hit home and I realized that we were going to lose Grandpa.  Although I knew that his’s quality of life had diminished greatly, it was still very sad to hear that he was at death’s door.  The family had decided to keep him on the machine until about 11 p.m. that night until some more of the family members arrived.  My Mom, Dad, and cousin Bonnie (who is a nurse) stayed by Grandpa’s side throughout the night as he miraculously continued to breath on his own and his heart beat wildly. By 9 a.m the next morning (Tuesday May 5th), my Grandpa took his last breath and his suffering ended as he passed peacefully with family members by his side.

That day after work, I hurried home (an hour commute), packed my bag, made arrangements for my step-kids to stay with their Mom, grabbed our dog, and headed for my parents house. Brad met me there the next day after he was able to get some time off work. We spent the next three days going back and forth between my Mom and Dad’s house and my Grandma’s house visiting with cousins, aunts and uncles, and other family members (some I hadn’t seen in months or years).   We  shared memories and stories of Grandpa’s life and looked at old pictures.  We remembered Grandpa’s wonderful sense of humour, his love of his huge family (eight children, 22 grandchildren, and many more great-grandchildren), and of course, his passion for his 700-acre cattle farm. As we visited and spent precious time together, countless neighbours and friends arrived with meat platters, fruit baskets, and fresh homemade buns which kept our tummies full while our minds were too busy to accomplish such mundane tasks.

My grandparents on their 60th - they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage next month.

My grandparents on their 60th – they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage next month.

That Friday we had Grandpa’s visitation at the funeral home  where I was actually able to keep my emotions in check until I saw my Grandma lean down and give Grandpa’s kiss a cheek.  I found solace in my sweet 3-year-old niece Isabella though who despite being too young to understand was appropriately solemn and well-behaved the entire time.  She gave me her sweet smile and let me hug her tight which helped immensely. Of course, being surrounded by family also helped too.

The next say, we had Grandpa’s funeral where we celebrated his long, wonderful life.  My brother and 7 of my cousins were the pall-bearers and I was honoured to say a eulogy in honour of Grandpa.  My Dad also spoke and thankfully his courage and ability to “keep it together” during his speech allowed me to remain calm and well-spoken during mine.  I was however, grateful that I got to stand behind a podium as my legs shook uncontrollably the entire time!  It was a very nice service and after, the family once again gathered to receive even more of Grandpa’s friends and family.  He truly was a much-loved man who will be so greatly missed by many!

The next day (Sunday), we enjoyed one last visit with some of our extended family before heading home.  It was fun to watch my young nieces play with some of their second cousins and to visit with several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins who live out of town.  Later that day, we packed up and after five long days, headed home to prepare to return to work on Monday.

Monday came, and despite being exhausted, was a pretty ordinary day until I got home and received yet some more news from my Mom: my sister-in-law Sarah was in labour!  This, of course, was news we had been waiting for (although she was eight days ahead of her due date).  I immediately began making plans for the coming weekend to go out of town again, knowing my newest niece was on her way!

Aubrey - five days old

Aubrey – five days old

At 6:10 am. on Tuesday, May 12, my beautiful niece Aubrey Noreen Palmateer was born weighing 7lbs and 12 oz.  All day, I checked social media constantly for pictures and updates!  Like the proud Auntie I am, I showed everyone I could (including my third-grade students!) her adorable picture.  The rest of the week passed in a blur as I counted down the hours until Friday when I could go and meet my new niece!

Friday arrived and since Brad and the kids had decided to stay home for this trip, I was able to hit the road straight after work and make it to Mom & Dad’s just in time for dinner (bonus!) After dinner, we headed over to Grandma’s where my brother Mike and his wife, Sarah, met us with their beautiful new bundle of joy.  I specifically remember the moment when Mike sat the car seat down and pulled back its cover – there she was!  So tiny, beautiful, and perfect!  My new, precious little niece only four days old.  I felt emotional so immediately that for a few seconds I thought I was going to cry.  It’s amazing what a new addition to the family can do to prove to you just how precious life is!

As most families do when a new baby is born, we played what my brother likes

Aubrey meets her Great-Grandma

Aubrey meets her Great-Grandma

to call “hot potato” with Aubrey that night.  We passed her around, from Auntie Kelly, to Grandma, to Great-Grandma, to Aunt Barb, and around again – all getting in our fair share of snuggles and cuddles with tiny little Aubrey.

On Saturday, Mom and I made a quick shopping trip to stock up on My Little Ponies and Play-dough before heading to Quebec to my brother’s in-law’s for Isabella’s birthday party!  We had fun watching the girls play, enjoying delicious appetizers, and of course, playing more “Hot Potato” with Aubrey.  This time, she was awake though and spent nearly an hour looking around with her beautiful, dark blue, almond-shaped eyes.  During this time, I cradled her in my arms and gently stroked her soft, silky hair and skin while whispering to her how much she is loved and how beautiful she is.  It was such a special time that it almost made me want my own baby!  Almost…

Izzy ready to blow out her birthday candle

Izzy ready to blow out her birthday candle

Finally it was time to watch Izzy open her birthday presents.  Three-year-olds are the best people to watch open gifts!  She literally squealed with delight as she pulled each item from it’s pretty, tissue-filled bag.  If only we had thought to video tape her!  So precious 🙂

After gifts, I volunteered to be the “favourite” Auntie and brought my two older nieces and their cousin to the park to play.  It was fun to push the girls on the swings, help Lea master the monkey bars, and watch the girls dig in the dirt and make up imaginary adventures.  After a good hour at the park, we walked back to the house, me holding one of Izzy’s tiny hands while she goofily sang “Mama had a baby and its head popped off” while popping the tops off of dandelions with the other.  Have I mentioned how much I love her?!

I spent that night at Mom and Dad’s, cuddled and relaxing on their couch, and watching the Blue Jays game with Dad.  There is something so relaxing and peaceful about my parents’ place.  It felt wonderful to be there, enjoying a quiet evening with just the two of them, after a busy, fun-filled day.

Mom, me and Aubrey

Mom, me and Aubrey

Eventually Sunday rolled around and I could no longer neglect the long list of things I knew I needed to get done at home.  Since being out of town so much in the last few weeks, chores and spring jobs had piled up and been neglected.  Before heading out though, Mom and I swung by Mike’s place for one last visit with the baby!  An hour later, after being serenaded by Izzy on the piano, and snuggling Aubrey, my heart was full and it was time to make the trek home.

Finally, we come to today.  Thank goodness for holiday Mondays!  Life has been a bit of a blur lately (even had trouble focussing at work which is not usually an issue for me!)  As I mentioned, the list of chores had really backed up since we have barely been home lately.  Brad and I managed to get groceries done last evening which left today to finally tackle yard work, house cleaning, and laundry.  Thankfully the weather cooperated and we managed to get a significant part of our to-do list completed:  rake the lawn, muck out our flower beds, tune up the lawn mower, mow the lawn, burn up some old brush, tidy up the yard; do laundry, dust, scrub the kitchen, clean the bathroom, vacuum the floors, etc.   Despite completing all of that, we still had time to relax this afternoon and watch our Blue Jays finally win a game!

So now here I am – my house is clean, the yard is tidy, and most of the household “jobs” are done.  A freshly cleaned house and a checked-off to-do list are two of the best things I can think of!  We barbequed steaks for dinner, the kids helped clean up without complaining (amazing!) and now I’m sipping coffee and catching up on my blog!

Best of all, I feel like life is about to go back to normal for a little while. While I immensely enjoyed my time back home with family, it was definitely a whirlwind of a month and I am looking forward to getting back to routine and a semi-normal schedule!

 

 

 

 

Presents vs. Presence: My Family’s New Holiday Plan

presents

Every time another holiday approaches, I start to think about what it means to me and my family, and how we are going to celebrate this year.  With Easter right around the corner, my husband and I have already decided that we are not going to go over-board on gifts this year.  We made this decision mostly based on our current efforts to tighten the purse strings and to pay off some debt.  But once it was made, I started thinking more about these holidays, what they have become, and what they mean to me.

My family celebrates all the traditional Christian holidays.  Growing up, the Easter Bunny hid eggs, Santa filled our stockings, and birthdays were made special with delicious cake and an assortment of gifts.  Brad and I did the same for our kids when they were younger.  But now the kids are growing up and I am starting to re-think things.  I am starting to realize and truly believe that holidays are over-commercialized and that for me, the real meaning of the holidays has been lost under a pile of meaningless gifts.

Every Christmas, for example, we are faced with the same task. What will we get [insert name here] this year? Sometimes there’s a particular gift that someone needs or has been wanting for a long time, but often enough we end up buying gifts just for the sake of buying gifts.  What is the meaning behind that?   A few weeks after Christmas, most kids I know can barely tell you what they received.  My own kids have had gifts they’ve gotten for Christmas that are still in the package months later.

We’ve all seen it – weeks, sometimes months, before the holiday actually arrives big box stores stock their shelves full of every holiday-related object imaginable.  People flock to these aisles to load their carts with decorations, gifts, and other items deemed “necessary” to properly celebrate the holiday.

Over the duration of the last few holidays, this process has sat uncomfortably with me.  And now that my husband and I are really cutting down on spending unnecessary money, even more so.  It all just seems so frivolous, and dare I say, wasteful.

So a few weeks ago, we announced to our kids that there won’t be heaps of candy for Easter this year.  Really, what child needs a small mountain of sugar anyway?  It hardly makes sense for us to harp on them about healthy eating, only to turn around and gift them with every sugar-laden treat available.  Does that mean we won’t get them anything?  Absolutely not.  But instead of the focus being on meaningless gifts (because, honestly, most kids these days already have everything they could need or want!), I want our family’s focus to be on the memories we make simply by being together.

Sleepover fun on Christmas Eve.

Sleepover fun on Christmas Eve.

That’s why my husband and I have already discussed our plans for Christmas this year.  Rather than over-load are kids with gifts as we’ve done in the past, our plan is to book a family trip where we can experience new things, have a great time, and make memories together.  I strongly believe in gifting children the gift of memories as opposed to material things.  After all, ten years from now, will they remember the new video game they got, or will they have lasting memories of our fun, family vacay?

Exactly.

It all goes back to my belief that spending time with your kids is far more important and meaningful than buying them gifts.  So many kids nowadays have every gadget going.  I know parents who have ran out of ideas as to what to get their kids for Christmas, because their kids already have everything.  I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of financial predicament these parents are putting themselves in, for such little result.  Yet, when I invite my stepson to play a simple game of Jenga with me, he is so excited he is literally vibrating.

So, this holiday, whatever it is, I challenge you to let go of some of the gifts and focus on the activities surrounding the holiday.  What memories is your family making?  How much quality time did you spend with your children, and most importantly, years from now, what precious memories will they have?

 

Check out some of my family’s special memories of holidays past!

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True Dreams of a Writer

I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile now and tonight when I saw my friend’s post about it on Facebook, it made me think of it again. Her post was about all the careers we dream of when we are small, versus where we really end up in life and what we actually end up doing.

Beautiful things on my dream desk.

Beautiful things on my dream desk.

Growing up, I imagined many different careers for myself.  When I was really little, I looked up to my teachers and dreamed of being one myself.  When I got older I thought I would become a lawyer (but later realized I’d simply been reading too many John Grisham novels).  For many years, I dreamed of being a dancer, particularly a ballerina, Broadway, or music video dancer.  Then, as I set out to university, I dreamed of being a journalist and working a glamorous job at a glossy magazine.

Now, all these years later, I have a job I truly love:  an elementary school teacher.  It’s not surprising, being that throughout my youth I was always that student who absolutely loved school.  I loved the social aspect, I loved writing, and I was one of the few kids who was actually thrilled when the teacher said it was time for independent reading!

Love this!

Love this!

Teaching allows me to use many of my natural skills (planning, organizing, communication…) and has taught me many new ones (leadership, differentiation, flexibility to name a few).  I am lucky to have the freedom to create my own lessons (provided they meet a variety of standards) and enjoy coming up with new and exciting ideas to motivate, inspire, and educate my students!

Oh, my students!  They are the reason I teach.  I wanted a job where I could have a real affect on the world, where I could help shape tomorrow’s future (as cliché as that sounds).  And while I have that opportunity in my profession, even better is the affect those wee little ones have had on me!

On early mornings when I practically have to drag myself to work, all it takes is the first little cutie to call out “Bonjour Madame!” as I walk into the building and their smile brightens my day.  Teaching primary means lots of hugs, mistakenly being called “Mom” often, and kids who generally aim really hard to please. It’s no wonder watching them meet milestones, accomplish goals, and discover new things is so fascinating and rewarding. It’s really true what they say – that they aren’t just my students, that they practically become my own children – my little babies that I get to nurture, teach, and love.

So very true.

So very true.

But despite everything I love about teaching, I often wonder about other careers I could have had (or might end up having in the future, because we never really know where life might take us) And then just recently, when my Dad suddenly lost his job after 25 years of hard work and dedication, it made me think about it again.  Are other people like me?  Do they have a job they truly love, but another career in mind that would fulfill their inner passion?  A position that would be their ultimate dream job?

For me, my ultimate dream job would be to be a writer.  The life of those who create, write, and blog seems so incredibly glamorous (although I am not naïve enough to believe it’s always so, or that these people don’t work their behinds off as much as anybody else!)  I dream of a beautiful home office decorated in white with touches of soft gray, pink, and gold. There are fresh flowers, beautiful journals, and a softly-scented candle on my desk.  My office has giant windows with a beautiful view of lush vegetation and the lake outside.   It is quiet.  Oh, so quiet with maybe only the sound of Tucker snoring softly at my feet.  My days consist of sipping my coffee, writing, and creating in my own personal oasis.  I might be writing blog entries, magazine articles, children’s books, or even a novel.

This is how I imagine my dream office.

This is how I imagine my dream office.

I know all of this is an over-the-top dream that seems a little too perfect and, while I like to think of myself as a dreamer, I know very little or possibly none of this will come true. But the whole concept of having a job you truly love versus that inner passion is interesting to me.  Very few people are lucky enough to take their true passion and turn it into a realistic, feasible career.

So I leave you with this thought – is your current job your true passion?  Or if you could do anything and make a living at it, what would you do?  I’d love to hear about it ~ leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

Friday Night Dates with the Couch

IMG_1207

Friday night essentials

When I looked at the clock tonight after dinner, I couldn’t believe it was only 5:30 p.m.  Tonight, as is the case most Fridays, I am utterly exhausted.  There were several times throughout the day today when I could have just stopped and fallen asleep (fortunately, I refrained from that).  During the average work week, this exhaustion usually sets in about Wednesday and I somehow manage to buckle down and make it through until Friday evening.  By the time I walk through the front door Friday after work, I go straight to my room, change into pajamas, and park myself on the couch.

For. The. Night.

Tonight I stopped to think about where the time went?  Friday nights were much different not all that long ago.  At 5:30 p.m., ten to fifteen years ago, the night hadn’t even began.  By 7 p.m, I was debating what outfit to wear, applying a fresh coat of makeup, and plugging in my hair straightener.  By 8:30 p.m, I was headed out the door to a friend’s house for the “pre-party” where we’d have cocktails, listen to loud music, and continue perfecting that evening’s appearance.  Finally 11 p.m. would roll around – the earliest possible hour that it was socially acceptable to show up at the bar.  We’d have a blast – more cocktails, lots of dancing, and if we were “lucky” some cute guys to hang out with.  Before we knew it, it’d be 2 a.m. and we were still raring to go.  We’d all make our way over to another friend’s house where, depending on how much fun we were having, the party could last well into the wee hours of the morning. With very little fail, this was our Friday night ritual (and sometimes Saturdays too!)

Now, just writing about all that, actually exhausts me!  I am lucky if I even have the energy to leave my house on a Friday night.  As I mentioned earlier, the first thing I usually do is change into my pajamas and plunk myself onto the couch.  First though, I make sure my iPhone, iPad, book I’m currently reading, and tv remote control are right next to me, in case (heaven forbid!) I have to get up off the couch.

With any luck, I might read a little, watch some trashy T.V., and more likely than not, cruise social media sites mindlessly for a few hours. Over the years, my husband has learned not to even ask if I want to watch a movie if it’s already past eight.  As soon as he sees me reach over for a blanket and a pillow he knows I’m a goner – the sad part is, this usually happens by 9 p.m.

So ten years ago at 9 p.m. the party was just getting started.  Now, not only is there no longer a party at all, but I am cashing out by 9 p.m.  That’s when you really know you’ve gotten older!

Now don’t take me wrong – I have no shame in this new experience.  I don’t feel guilty for crashing early, nor do I feel I am missing out anything.  In fact, when I really reflect on it, Friday nights in my mid-thirties are a heck of a lot easier than they were in my early-twenties.  No gussying, no fussing, and definitely no hangover Saturday morning.  Yes, I may be getting older,  but I shamelessly and secretly love my Friday night dates with the couch.

March Break Musings

While many of my friends and colleagues are off in tropical locations dipping beach drink their toes in the ocean and sipping frozen cocktails, I am home this week for March Break.  Naturally, part of me is a little jealous, that I, too, am not jetting off with only swimsuits, sunscreen, and sandals packed in my suitcase. Or at least heading to the closest city to do some retail therapy and maybe a girls weekend. Or even having remotely any kind of plans that entail leaving my house…

That being said, I am looking forward to giving my mind & body some much needed rest and relaxation in the comforts of my own home.  For instance, this morning, it was absolutely glorious to not have to wake up to my alarm, to enjoy a cup of coffee in the peaceful quiet of my own home, and to have all the time in the world to snuggle up and read a novel (currently: The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley).  I know exactly when The Voice and Love it or List it will play and plan to catch up on all my favourite day-time TV shows that I rarely get to see anymore (hello Cityline!).  I will spend my fair share of time on the couch, quite possibly in my pajamas, and quite possibly asleep.  I will obsessively check my Facebook simply because I have nothing else better to do, and hopefully the sun will come back so I can take Tucker out for a few jaunts around the neighbourhood.

Then because I am Type-A, and can’t fully relax by simply doing nothing, I will try get done a few of the things around here that there never seems time for.  The plan is to clean out and re-organize my kitchen and bathroom cupboards, to clean a few vents that are way past due, and possibly to even print out some photos for the empty frames that have needed filling since our wedding (a year-and-a-half ago!)  If I really get motivated, I might print off some of my Pinterest recipes (and even try to make a few), organize some of the workouts I’ve pinned for easier access (and hopefully  more motivation to work out), and get a head start on lesson planning before next week rolls around.

home sweet homeBut for now, I am going to sit here, as I have been most of the day, dressed cozily in my leggings, over-sized T-shirt and wool socks, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. I’ve alternated between snoozing, reading, surfing social media, and watching the boob tube pretty much all day, with a few minor interruptions for snacks.  I’ll admit I’ve been a little restless – thinking about the things I should be doing and fighting with myself over what will make me feel more satisfied: blissfully continuing to sit here or getting those kitchen cupboards done. It’s the typical internal battle I have day in and day out (and I’m pretty sure I am not alone here) – learning to relax without feeling guilty.  Turning off my brain, forgetting the endless to-do lists, and allowing myself to do nothing: simply, absolutely nothing. It’s not easy but so far I have to say it’s been quite lovely.  So lovely in fact, that I think it’s time for another chapter of my book.

Happy March Break, everybody!

 

Childhood Adventures

While chatting in the lunchroom today, some of my colleagues and I got to talking about childrens’ toys and memories of things we played with when we were small.  I shared with them how my 2-year-old niece loves to imagine that she’s cooking and will play for hours with her plastic food.  My colleague commented that her 3-year-old loves nothing more than stirring an empty pot with a wooden spoon, envisioning whatever concoction is on the “menu” that day.  As we sat there sharing and discussing, it got me thinking about my own childhood, especially all the imaginative play I used to do and before I knew it, I was flooded with such wonderful, heart-warming memories, I just had to share.

girl on swingWhen I was a kid, my parents owned a home that was close to 100-years-old.  Just off the living room at the front of the house, there was a very small, old porch that never got used.  The porch was probably only 3 ft. by 4ft. but as a child it felt like my very own palace since my parents had taken the time and effort to transform it into a little “house” for me. Inside, I remember a tiny, wooden table with a homemade tablecloth, that my Mom had sewn, draped over it.  There was a small cupboard ( made by my Dad?) stocked full of white plastic dishes with tiny pink roses decorating the edges.  Due to the house’s age, the windows were old – cracked white paint on the ledges with an endless supply of houseflies always meeting their fate there on hot, summer days.  My Mom had also sewn some tiny curtains and hung them on the windows, making the place feel like a real home.  I can picture my little doll’s high chair sitting next to the table and the steep wooden steps that led outside, with a screen door that slammed shut as I raced out of my playhouse into the wonders of our enormous backyard.

Outside my tiny palace, our yard was safely protected by a tall hedge that my parents meticulously trimmed each summer.  I can vividly remember the smell of the leaves on that hedge and how easy it was to find wee ladybugs crawling amongst them. We’d carefully pluck the insect from the leaf and turn our hands gently as it crawled around our fingers. In one corner of our yard, stood a massive ever green tree (so huge, it must have been well over 100-years old itself!)  The trees’ sharp needles smelled of pine and reached to the ground creating a tent-like space underneath it to play in the shade.  Further along, was our swing set –  the one I’d spend hours on, pumping my legs to go as high as I could, and shamelessly singing at the top of my lungs.  Next to sandboxme, my brother dug for hours in his sandbox (again, built my Dad) that came with it’s very own lid to protect it when it rained.  Past the sandbox, was my parents’ garden.  It was huge and when we were kids it bloomed with all kinds of vegetables – green and yellow beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, even pumpkins, and along the back our very own set of brambling raspberry bushes.  Oh, how those raspberries smelled during picking season! Next to the garden, was my “Dad’s” little shed, neatly painted brown and white, stocked full of his tools and other supplies, and always smelling like gasoline and old things.  Then there was our patio deck.  It raspberrieswrapped around our house which made it huge enough for me to imagine it was my very own stage.  I’d take my little boom-box out to the deck and spend hours dancing and singing, imagining my very own audience in lawn chairs spread across the grass cheering me on.  Even now when I think about it, I can smell burgers on the BBQ and hear Madonna and the New Kids on the Block blasting from those tiny speakers.

As if our wonderful yard wasn’t fun enough, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house situated at one end of a dead-end street.  This meant that all the neighborhood kids could safely play out there, with very little worry of any traffic.  In the summer, we rode our bikes, up and down, up and down, up and down that street, sometimes venturing a few blocks  away to the park to play on the tire swing or to take a turn down the slide, so hot that the metal would burn the skin on your thighs.  Other times, we’d spend hours collecting sticks, old 2x4s, and whatever else we could get our hands on, to build our own forts in the ravine at the end of the street.  In the spring, when the ditches were full of water and the air smelled like mud, we’d tromp along in our rubber boots rubber bootsimagining some kind adventure only a child can imagine.  In winter, we’d invite all of our friends and play such rowdy games of “road hockey” that even some of the adults on the street would come out to play. It wouldn’t be until well past dark and we were completely exhausted that our mothers would finally call us in.

Thinking back to this time as a care-free, imaginative child, I feel so very lucky that I had the childhood I had.  These playful and heartwarming memories only lead to remembering more joyous times in my youth – my beautiful, lavender bedroom stocked full of toys and books, my tap-dancing space in the basement, laying on the couch on days home sick from school, watching cartoons and eating chicken noodle soup made by Grandma.  I am so very blessed for each and every one of these memories, and now it brings such happiness to my heart when I watch my own nieces spend hours playing games they’ve made up, and going on adventures only a child can imagine.

 

 

When it’s too hard to think…

We all have “those” days.  The kind of day where you’d give almost anything to go back to bed, bury yourself in the covers, and possibly not come out for a very, very long time.  Where I live, a lot of people have these kind of days in the middle of January, where it’s been -35 for three weeks straight, before the wind chill.  With all the sun we’ve been having (hello, Vitamin D!), longer daylight hours, and warmer than seasonal temperatures, things should be looking up.  But the truth is, the only thing lifting my spirits today is that March Break is only 3 days away. Three. more. days.    Norwegian winter landscape bathing in warm afternoon sunlight

Today is the kind of day when it hurts to think, let alone dress myself presentably; smile and have normal conversations with my colleagues; educate the world’s next generation (yes, I take my job very seriously); prepare healthy and nutritious meals for my family; make sure I haven’t forgotten to pick someone up somewhere (dance, hockey, etc.); prepare tomorrow’s lessons for a substitute teacher; and a hundred other things I’m probably forgetting.

A few months ago, when I finally approached my doctor about feeling stressed, he looked me straight in the eye and said “It’s easy.  You’re a Type-A, over-achiever who works too much.” Naturally, I tried to argue with him and convince him that being this way was my “only choice”.  How else was everything going to get done that needed to get done?  If I didn’t do it all, who would?

But now, even on days like today when it’s too hard to think, what I am very, very, very slowly learning is that it will all get done.  Somehow, someway, it will.  (And the part I really struggle with is that the somehow and someway doesn’t have to be planned in meticulous detail by yours truly!) Even on days when all I want to do is lock myself in my room, and sleep, it will get done. It may mean my husband forcing me to sit with my feet planted firmly on the group, guiding me through a deep breathing activity (yes, it really happened), but it will get done.  Just like this blog post.  It got done 🙂

Three. more. days…..

Three. more. days…..