It’s the end of the world!

21 Dec

IMG_2577At least for me, that is.

See my little boy turned 1 this afternoon. He turned 1 at exactly 12:21 on December 21. I think that’s truly cool!!!

This is him not caring about the fact that we were buying him a birthday cake.


Funny. But not ‘ha ha’ funny

21 Dec

Over two months ago, my last post was about how I reacted to seeing a play surrounding the events of 9/11.


Today, the events of 12/14 still haunt me.


They haunt me as  a teacher, as a mother and as a human being.

Moving on – one from the archives

9 Oct

I began my teaching career in the fall on 1997.

I remember the thrill of getting that first teaching job like it was yesterday. I was young and wanted nothing more than to prove myself.

I worked hard. I worked/lived in the middle of nowhere. I had no access to teaching ressources so I made my own. I “worked” 6 days a week. I gave myself Friday night and Sunday morning off. Saturdays were given to marking and Sunday nights to planning lessons.

It was during my second year of teaching that “Columbine” happened. In our province, we had a copy-cat attack the very next year.

These events made me question my very choice of profession.

Through a series of very fortunate events…I was offered a job overseas and I lept at it.

Fast forward….fifteen years and three continents later….

This afternoon, I watched a play in Bangkok. A play put on by Yr10 students as part of their final assessment and I was moved. Obviously not in the same way that the Yr 9 and 10 audience was. There were several moments when the teenage audience reacted in ways that I found profoundly offensive. They laughed when the actors on stage talked of the planes hitting buildings. They laughed when the actors spoke of loosing friends. This was very hard hard for me to take. I wanted to yell out, but I didn’t.

I was already a fully fledged adult when 9/11 happened. Today’s audience was between the ages of 2 and 4 on that Tuesday morning. They can not possibly comprehend what the rest of us went through on that day; never mind on the days, weeks and months that followed.

Since that infamous day, I’ve seen movies and read books that portrayed the events of 9/11 but this was my first experience with a play. There is just something about live theater that is so much more personal.

I was caught off guard by the emotions that it brought up.

The reality for me is that I now have teaching colleagues who were 14 yrs old when Columbine happened and 16 years old when the World Trade Towers fell. Their teenage years were touched by a fear that I can not possibly comprehend.

Both events impacted me in ways that I have trouble articulating. I suspect that the students in that theater that day felt the same way.

The problem with short bedtime stories

20 Sep

My eldest son started “big boy” school this past August. The day he came home from school after his first trip to the library he exclaimed excitedly, “Mommy! That’s where aaaallllllllll the books are!” The kids each have their own library bags and when I opened his up to see what he’d borrowed I chuckled a little bit. If you’ve ever spent any amount of time with my son, you wouldn’t need to be a psychic to predict that he would have located the only book in the library that combined dinosaurs and football/soccer.

A week went by and I eagerly waited to see what he would bring home from the library. I admit, I was a little surprised when he came home with this.

Based on the famed Russian ballet of the same name, it tells the story of a king with three sons. The king discovers that someone, or something, is stealing the golden skinned apples from his tree and he offers a quarter of his kingdom as a reward to whomever brings him the thief. Full of mythical images and undertones, it is the youngest son who is cast as the hero.

So we read the story and he enjoyed it. It was quickly apparent that he was drawn to the book because of the illustrations. He really loved touching the picture of the firebird with the golden threads running through it. However, as the story was a little on the long side, I decided to read it over two nights. It struck me that we’d never before read a story at bedtime that couldn’t be finished in one go. And that got me thinking of the idea of delayed gratification.

When I was a kid, my bedtime stories were read from thick, hardcover books (like the complete tales of Winnie the Pooh). And even if the books were compilations of short stories, and my mom finished one of those stories, I always wanted more; because in my child’s mind the book wasn’t finished until you flipped the back cover over. I eagerly looked forward to bedtime. I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

In this ‘instant’ world that we now live in, I am going to be conscientiously on the look out for ‘big’ books that we can read together at night. I want my son to learn patience. I want him to experience healthy anticipation. I want him to learn that good things come to those who wait. But above all, I want him to always yearn to ask, “What’s next?”

Who is with me?

*On a side note, I’d really like to thank the librarian who didn’t say to my son, “Don’t take that book. It’s not for you.” That lover of books who didn’t tell my son that this book was too complicated, too grown-up or too difficult for him. Because of that book, mommy had a little epiphany. 

Go ahead! Be a big baby!

8 Aug

This summer was  a summer of a lot of “firsts” and “lasts” for me as a mother.

My son Gabriel (Gabe to his friends) is my second and last child. My last son. My last baby.

This summer, we witnessed a lot of “firsts” with Gabe.

Celebrating his first Canada Day (in Bangkok).

Eating his first solids.

Sleeping through his first long haul flight.

Meeting his extended family in the UK for the first time.

Discovering how his knees work and putting them into action for his first proper crawl!

Sitting up for the first time.

Pulling himself up to a standing position (using a suitcase, ironically enough) on July 4th at the age of 6 months and 1 week.

Being weaned from the breast. 

As I watch him grow and achieve, I feel at once a sense of pride and yet a sense of sorrow; knowing that these are the last baby “firsts” that I will witness with my own children.

But watching him I was also struck by the thought that “being a big baby” shouldn’t be a putdown. We should all strive to be big babies; every day. I have observed for endless hours my big baby trying to work out how to navigate the world around him and to find his place in it. Trying to figure out how his own limbs work. Testing his own strength. I have seen him fail more times than he will ever remember. And that’s the thing. Any parent knows, from even the most casual observation, that babies/toddles/kids don’t dwell on their failures. They remember their successes; and build upon them.

As my eldest son prepares to start “big kid school” tomorrow, I will try to find a way to remind him that it’s ok to be a “big baby”.

It’s a new day! Obama supports marriage rights for all.

11 May

By the title of my post, I figure that most people have, by now, figured out where I stand on this issue. Here is a post I recently read.

I think Obama is only supporting gay marriage because he wants to be reelected.. If he really did support gay marriage why did he announce it just now, why not do anything about it during his entire term as president.?. I guess you will say whatever it takes to pull ahead when your (sic) behind in an election

My response:

I am not an American.

Nor do I find the timing suspicious in the least. When VP Biden stated last Sunday that he personally supports marriage for all he became the highest ranking member of the US government to ever say so publicly. And by doing so, in a way, forced Obama to respond. That the President of the United States came out in support of it, and with a reasoned explanation to boot, made me proud to have supported him in the first place. For the first time in history, nationally, more Americans than ever (about 50%) believe that the rights of marriage should be conferred upon all. I can understand, though I don’t agree, with those who believe that same-sex unions are a moral sin. But that’s just it, you may think it’s a sin but how do you then decide that it’s illegal. Talkin’ to you North Carolina! You don’t need a reason to make something legal. You need a reason to make something illegal. And while the spirit of our laws are based on the spirit of judeo/christian law, our laws currently reflect a shift from those ancient values. For example, we no longer consider the breaking of the first commandment a criminal offense. In fact, it is exactly that freedom and diversity upon which America was founded. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that religious morality should be kept separate from our legal system; a system which is intrinsically designed to evolved with society. A trait that is not predominate in organized religion worldwide.

To each her own

30 Apr

Today on the mommy board that I belong to, a new stay-at-home mom (STHM) posted about feeling overwhelmed. Most first-time parents, certainly first time STHM, can easily related to her. She writes:

I’m a first time Mom…  I am feeling completely overwhelmed sometimes, with just life in general…

Here is my unedited and hurried response.

Oh sweetheart! Welcome to the club!  I haven’t read the previous posts but I imagine that they’ve been overwhelmingly supportive. This is my second child and I’ve gone back to work after only three months (I had 16 months off with my first).

When I was at home with my first I loved it. I was so fortunate to find a wonderful mom’s network in my local area. No mean feat when you live overseas! Those ladies, and their babes, were my lifeline. Don’t know what I would have done without them. There are only two of us left in town now. The rest are scattered around the globe. And that’s why I love Facebook because we can still share so many of our ‘mothering’ adventures. Although, after the first year, I really felt ready to go back to work. And, like you, I REALLY looked forward to bedtime too. Nothing wrong with that!

I look at motherhood like being a passenger on a plane. You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can be of any assistance to anyone else. So whatever your ‘oxygen mask’ is, be it work, school, a good workout, or a great weekly mani-pedi…you have to take time for yourself. I can honestly say that the only times that I felt lost as a mom were those moments when I started to lose sight of who “I” was.

Now that I’m back at work with two kids I find it so tough to find that balance. Two things I do for myself are a standing bi-monthly mani-pedi appointment on Saturday morning with a good girlfriend. And second, the hours between 4 and 6 from Monday to Friday are generally mine to do with as I see fit.

See, I’m a teacher. Between the hours of 7am and 4pm, my priority is making sure that I’m giving the best of me to other people’s kids. And that’s not a snarky or flippant comment. As a citizen of the world, I have a vested interest in making sure that the kids entrusted to me can one day go out into the world and, ideally, make it a better place. That they have the drive, the desire and the knowhow to do so is something that me and tens of thousands of other hardworking and dedicated teachers are striving for on a daily basis. But I also have another equally (arguably more) important obligation to my own kids. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t give them what they need (the best of me) until I’ve had some time to decompress from my work day. Some will undoubtably call me selfish but this is what works, right now, for me and my family.

All the little losses

27 Apr

Hope your week has been full of good things.

While I have a 30 minute lull in my day, I thought that I would send a quick update. 

Gabriel is doing great. We have an appointment with the pedi for his 4 month check up plus some vaccines. He also starts his swimming lessons tomorrow. Yeah! Hopefully he’ll grow into as accomplished a swimmer as his older brother is becoming. In the last week or so, Gabe has discovered rolling over at will! Hurray! He’s a big fan of tummy time and is growing by leaps and bounds. He’s more or less wearing size 6months onesies now. Which is sad. As my last baby, I have to now face the fact that I can’t save all his clothes for ‘the next one’. He continues to be a happy little boy who hardly ever cries. Even though I’m back at work full-time, we’re still breastfeeding. He gets one to two bottles (tops) a day of formula while I’m at work (4oz per bottle). I come at lunch (10:45am) to feed him, then after school (4pm), and then feed him all through the evening and night. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he weighs now. He sleeps well but not always predictably. He’s not sleeping through the night but for the last couple of weeks he’s going down between 7-8pm and only waking once in the night. Usually around 1:30am. At which point, I bring him into our bed to nurse and he stays there until the morning. 

Being back at work sucks. I mean, it’s nice to get out of the house and it’s REALLY nice to get a paycheck again. It’s even nice to see my students again. But I simply hate leaving that sweet little angel face in the morning. And by angel face I mean Gabriel and not Aidan.

Poor little Aidan. Where to begin? The poor kid has had so many changes in his little life in the past 4 months. A new brother. Started school. Started going to school 5 days instead of 3. Moved house. Papa came to visit for two weeks and then left again. Mommy went back to work. He takes the bus to school now because Mommy is at work. He sleeps in a regular queen sized bed and now Gabe sleeps in his old crib. So many changes!! He still calls our apartment “my new house”. He lost all his old friends from the old apartment except Aaryka who visited for the first time Wednesday. Apparently, she was driving her mom crazy asking for Aidan. To the point where on Monday, the nanny took her downstairs to our old apartment and let her ring the doorbell to show her what they’d been telling her for weeks; that Aidan really doesn’t live there anymore. So finally her nanny called Marley and asked if they could come over. Sweet, isn’t it. So he’s been invited to her birthday party on May 14th. He’s very excited.

But that all brings me to today.

Tuesday at 4pm I received a call from Aidan’s teacher, Teacher “A”, asking if I could come to school to discuss Aidan’s “behaviour”. You don’t need to be an educator to know that this is not good. No one ever summons you to your child’s school to discuss how fantastic they are. Nor does it bode well for the remaining 17 years or so of formal education that he has in store for him. 

We’ve been kept a little in the dark, it would seem, about some of his behaviour. I’d had some notes come home in January/February but since I hadn’t heard anything in a while, I assumed that this issue had died down. Ummm. No. Is apparently the answer to that. Aidan has a ‘frenemy’ named, of all things, ‘Hayden’. So I get home on Tuesday and said to Aidan, “Teacher A called me today. I have to go see Teacher A to talk about you. What did you do today?” Not missing a beat, Aidan says, “I scratched Hayden’s eye.” So at least we can add ‘honest’ and ‘frank’ to the list of qualities that my son possesses. ‘Self-control’ and ‘using our hands and not our fists’  will, sadly, apparently have to wait. Long story short…Hayden’s mom is livid. Aidan is being switched classes. The staff at the school admit that these two boys are pretty much magnets to each other. Unfortunately, their play tends to become physical and although Aidan isn’t always the first to start the pushing and the shoving, he’s never been the one to go home with bumps and bruises; if ya know what I mean. So now we can add yet another “change” to his life. He will no longer be in Teacher A’s class. And while the professional in me acknowledges that this is the most practical solution, the parent in me grieves for his loss. He is truly fond of Teacher A. When he plays ‘school’, he is always teacher A. When there is a holiday and he’s not at school, he asks, “Where is Teacher A?” So now we can heap ‘Teacher A’ to the pile of things that he’s lost in the past four months alone. So I will spend my weekend trying to find any and every opportunity that I can to tell him how excited Teacher “D” is to do story time with him on Monday morning. All in a vain attempt to soften the blow for him. 

Maternity leave: the aftermath

18 Apr

So… today was my first proper day back at work. By proper, I mean that I was actually responsible for the delivery and execution of teaching and learning. Whereas my first week “back at work” was more about getting to know where I needed to pick up after my supply teacher.

It has to be said, today was a rather easy re-entry. The day began with a visit to my homeroom. A group of year 8 kids that I’ve known since they began their journey into secondary as ‘little’ Yr7s. Moreover, (and what makes my job even more pleasant) I share responsibility for this group with another teacher. As fate would have it, she and I taught together at another local area school for a brief period but never really got to know one another. That being said, I’m a big fan of being in her orbit.

First period consisted of reconnecting with my Yr4 class. A lovelier bunch of 7 and 8yr olds I’ve yet to meet. One of whom was new to me but he soon proved to be the type of inquisitive sponge who fits in rather well with the rest of the class.

Period two, I met with my Yr7 class. It’s amazing what change can be affected in a mere three months. Since December, this class has lost 2 key members. Two girls who were each remarkable in their own right. One, for being an amazing talent when it came to languages. The other, for being just a sincerely nice person. We have two new male additions and the new dynamic is (maybe not) surprising. I look forward to seeing what the next eight weeks hold for this group.


My ode to the CBC

4 Apr

Some of my best childhood memories are intertwined with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for those of you who aren’t Canadian).  I left Canada twelve years ago and I can still hum the Hockey Night in Canada theme song like it was a nursery ryhme. Because for many of us it was the music that we were put to bed to on a Saturday night!

Who doesn’t remember watching “Le Chandail” as a kid? There is not a kid who went through the French Immersion programme in Canada who hasn’t seen that!

And what about all those A Part of our Heritage vignettes? Who can forget “Burnt Toast“? Or “Signal Hill”? Or my personal favourite “Women in Medicine“?

It wasn’t until I went to University Laval in Quebec City (1997) that I truly developed an appreciation for the CBC. Immersed in a francophone environment (which was the whole point actually), I discovered CBC Radio in English. And before the days of podcast download, I would dutifully tune in on a Sunday morning to listen to Quirks and Quarks. That was my initiation into the world of CBC radio.

I don’t know who it was who first turned me onto The Vinyl Cafe, or if I stumbled upon it by accident but that show has become my favourite over the years. For those of you who know the show, I feel as if I know Dave & Marli and their kids. And even though we’ve never met, I feel like Stuart McLean is family. His voice is just one more thread in the fabric of Canadiana.

So imagine my joy when I received the following message today via Facebook after posting a comment. First, the comment. Second, the reply from Stuart.

That made my day!! My favourite story teller telling me that he loved my story!

That ranks right up there in the coolest things to happen to me in a long while!