Thursday, May 27, 2010


So you can already guess what this post is about.

We awoke Monday morning at the crack of dawn (about 5:00 am) to the loud, raucous cawing of crows outside the window. Right outside the window. Really, obnoxiously loud. I buried my head in the pillow and tried to ignore it until Dave finally got up and stomped over to my side of the bed to slam the window shut. This afforded us enough peace and quiet that we both fell back asleep. Until....

6:00 am. I opened my eyes because something woke me up. But what was it? Hmmm. Footsteps on the roof? Must be those damn crows again. I got up for a drink of water and laid back down ready to try to sleep again, when I heard it. Scratching and footsteps on the drywall ceiling over my head. I froze in denial that I had actually heard anything, my eyeballs darting back and forth as though that would help me to hear better. Nothing. Ok, phew, it was just my imagination. I closed my eyes and...scratch scratch in the wall, right behind my head. I jumped about five feet in the air and landed at the end of the bed facing the wall and my very irritated husband who had slept through the initial scratching and had no idea why I did a round-off back handspring from the bed to wake him up at 6:02 am on a holiday Monday. I made him listen for it, and we both headed downstairs to try to nap in peace, quiet and more denial.

At this point we still weren't sure what it was. Bigger than a mouse? Probably. A rat? Yeesh, I sure hoped not. Squirrel? Raccoon? Couldn't be a raccoon though, how in the world would it have gotten in?

Dave lost the coin toss to decide who would have to poke their head up into the attic to investigate. He popped the hatch and couldn't see anything (thankfully) so I very helpfully offered to tap our bedroom wall to see if he could see anything know, just to piss off whatever was up there. He still couldn't see anything, but I sure could hear it moving! Eventually I could hear it walking on the soffit outside our bedroom window, so I kept tapping along to wall trying to scare it back the way it came. Dave went outside to see if he could see it come out. I peeked back out the window at him and he motioned for me to come out and see. Sure enough, a raccoon was making its way along our roof line over to some hedges that I never would have guessed would be close enough for a raccoon to bridge the distance. I was wrong.

I know, right? You're thinking, it probably had babies up there. After much Wile E. Coyote type plans to seal off the house from ever being able to be penetrated by such pests again, I decided to call an animal control company and boy was I glad we did. Had we sealed it up and there were babies, the raccoon would have torn 10 more holes in the roof to get in. So the company came out, cleaned up the attic, found that (thankfully) there were no babies, and sealed it all up for us. We're getting the hedges trimmed, too. And that should be the end of the raccoon visitors.

Until they find my vegetable garden...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Career Revelations...

So I've been teaching 0.5 for the past 7 years - give or take - with mat leaves interspersed along the way. Things have been humming along nicely and I couldn't have fathomed that any big changes would come my way.

Then my childcare situation changed after I returned to work this Spring from my mat leave with Gavin. After settling on a lovely nanny after our unfortunate first experience. We now have an excellent nanny with whom I feel completely comfortable leaving the kids. The thing is, she wants to work more than 3 days per week. So I thought, well, maybe I could work a little more, too. As I toyed with the idea, I was surprised to find myself feeling a little excited about the possibility.

I made a couple of calls and lined up an extra day each week doing a job share mat leave starting in September. Then I got to thinking about summer coming up with no income in sight and thought, what the heck, I might as well do some TOC-ing (teacher-on-call) to make up some full time hours to help bridge the summer gap in employment. I don't have much TOC experience at all having fluked into a classroom position almost immediately after starting my career, so I was a little bit nervous about going to other classrooms, especially intermediate classes.

On Thursday I TOC'd in a Grade 7 (?!) class and I absolutely LOVED IT! I had to relearn how to convert repeating decimals into fractions, but aside from that it was a great day. The kids were so different than primary kids in so many ways, but in some they were still just like little kids in great big bodies. Then I worked on Friday in a 3/4 at my school and it was really fun because I had taught all of the kids except for 3 at some point in their Grade 1, 2, or 3 years and we were all excited to see each other again.

This week was my first week of working full time in 7 years. I expected to come home on Friday absolutely wiped out and resentful of the time spent away from my family. I was completely shocked to find myself full of energy and pumped up about teaching for the first time in quite a few years. I feel invigorated about the new challenges, and at the same time grateful to be able to return to my "home base" classroom on Monday morning. I'm tired but satisfied when I get home from work and quite frankly, I feel like my kids appreciate me a bit more when I've been away.

I have a few things working in my favour that not every working mom has: 1. Teachers have (usually) the same vacation time as their kids, so I don't have to schlep them off to a series of very expensive day camps and/or day care in the summer or during winter/spring breaks.
2. I have a wonderful nanny who takes great care of my kids and the house so I come home to an orderly house with happy children. I've always joked that I need a wife, and she basically is doing that job!
3. I have the flexibility to work almost as much or as little as suits my family at a given time. There aren't many careers that have the flexibility that teaching offers, and I think it forces many women to make an all-or-nothing choice that leaves them wanting.

I'm now seriously considering the possibility of working close to full-time hours next year. I'll be 0.7 at minimum, and maybe even 0.9 or 1.0 with TOC days. I'm sure this won't be the last post on this subject....

What about you? How do you balance work and family, and what has shaped the choices you've made in this area?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I can't believe how different this Mother's Day is than last year. Last year, to put it bluntly, sucked the big one. I was 5 weeks post-partum and the Prozac hadn't begun to kick in yet, still crying at least once an hour. Add that to an emotionally charged day full of unrealistic expectations, a tired, over-scheduled husband also feeling the weight of those expectations, me having to nurse a baby and an electric breast pump every 2.5 hours, and two older kids scrambling to make sure they still had my affection. It all imploded by 1:30 pm and I literally ran away from it all to my own Mom's house to cry on her shoulder for a couple of hours. Days like Mother's Day should be totally optional for families in the kind of transition that we were last year.

Fast forward a year, and my how things have changed! We are still in the midst of transitions galore, but I feel like I have some degree of choice in the matter so it's all so much more manageable. We are settling in with our new and wonderful nanny who will be with us for at least the next couple of years; she is great with the kids and I feel completely confident leaving Gavin with her during the day. I've returned to my part-time teaching job and am enjoying it so much that I have decided to take on some more on-call work this year as well as an extra day next year. I'm even looking at doing some part-time work over the summer for a bit of extra cash and something to do outside the home.

As a family we have all made our own adjustments to our new normal. And because we are more relaxed about the way things are, I don't feel the pressure of living up to those greeting card expectations about Mother's Day this year. So I stayed in bed for 10 extra minutes this morning reading my book (which I almost never get to do these days), I had my toast and water in bed with Amy, and cherished the gifts the kids both made for me at school. I'm going to take in a movie with my mom and my daughter this afternoon, too. I don't expect to be waited on hand and foot all day because that's just not how we roll around here.

And I wouldn't change my family or my Mother's Day for the world.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Smelly Boys

My boys are smelly. Not all the time, mind you, but man oh man the two of them can get pretty funky.

Gavin has an excuse, that whole still in diapers and my mom feeds me prunes things. It'll make anyone smelly. Easily fixed with a bath and fresh diaper.

Trevor, though...hmmm. Eight year old boys who eat, sleep and breathe hockey and lacrosse (often on the same day) become especially sweaty and crusty, and, well, smelly. Add NHL playoff games and highlights that simply must be watched on TV (while eating his eighth meal of the day because the kid is starving after all that activity) and it doesn't leave much time for bathing.

Today I noticed a funky smell coming from beside me on the couch as we watched the first period of the Canucks game. I could actually see the sticky, grimy layer on Trevor's hands, gunk under his toenails, and his hair was crunchy around the edges. I threw down the gauntlet: bath or shower, because you're having some sort of water touch your body, pal. He tuned me out, eyes glazed in a hockey trance until I finally said, "I'll give you a candy if you have a shower or a bath. And scrub."

Cue the choir: Ha-a-al el u jah!

He is now squeaky clean and smelling wonderfully of Dove shampoo, Body Shop shea butter soap, and toothpaste.

Oh, and I reneged on the candy. Well, actually I postponed it until tomorrow. If he actually remembers and asks me for it and it's not too close to bedtime, he can have it then.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Intermittent Blogging and a Must-See

It's lacrosse-spring hockey-dance recital season so you're lucky I'm here at all.

Seriously, I keep going to my home page so I can check out my favourite blogs and think, I should really write something...or I could go to bed at a reasonable hour for a change. Or fold some laundry. Or something equally as exciting.

Then I sat down this evening and realized that I haven't written anything for about three weeks!

So why bust up a good thing now. Instead of actually writing anything, I'll leave you with this. I MUST see this when it comes around.

Everybody loves... Babies. This visually stunning new movie simultaneously follows four babies around the world - from first breath to first steps. From Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo, Babies joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all.