Me, back at the volunteering

I am sitting with my feet up, enjoying the quiet after a looooong day of volunteering at a fundraising barbecue for the local skating club as part of the town’s Canada Day celebrations. 

   
   
It was a good day, even though most of it was cool and drizzly. And my feet were cold and wet. As was my nose. 

I was the first person to use one of the Port-a-Potties. Have you ever sat in a fresh Port-a-Potty?

Glorious.

I kept busy from 9 am to 8 pm, helping with the set-up and take-down, and spending the majority of the day prepping burger and hot dog buns with napkins. It was actually rather . . . Zen. A simple job, part of a chain of tasks, and although my back did feel some strain after a while, it was flexible enough that I was able to do it while occasionally sitting down.

Hours of no other demands than opening a bag, wrapping a bun with napkin, and making sure each bun opens cleanly. Handing buns to the runners. And pleasant conversation, to boot. Recognizing friends and former students. 

Lovely.

Once in a while, Bridget (who had come with in absence of a babysitter, as her dad had gone to an event in another town for the morning as part of his Shriner’s stuff) would come back from running around the inflatable bouncy houses to eat or check in with me (I only had to track her down once). By the time Hubby came after his Shriner fun, she was ready for a nap although she left in protest. She was back a few hours later, and eventually helped us with the cleanup as best she could (as she’d helped with set-up).

That was something else that was lovely: the Canada Day celebration was only a few blocks from our house this year. If I hadn’t needed the car to transport supplies, we could have walked it. And as I write this, listening to the fireworks (visible from my back windows), she’s there, with her brother, having walked back down for the fun.

   

    
  
That’s another awesome part of today: Jack taking on more responsibilities. He took his sister to the fireworks, not only because he wanted to see them too, but because he knew I was too tired after the long day to take them. He stepped up. And that was after being at the barbecue all day himself, too — he was there from start to finish along with me, getting going on his 40 hours of required volunteer service (part of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma). He did such a great job handling meal tickets, food, and occasionally money, alongside his peers, and he was complimented on his manner by the both the fundraising and event coordinators. All of the kids who were there did a great job, but hey — proud mama, here. 

So it’s the end of the day, and I can hear the traffic as the fireworks have come to an end. My children will be home shortly. And hubby is starting his new job tomorrow, so he’s already gone to bed for his 4 am start. I shall sleep well tonight, I think.

Opening Night & the Adventuring Teen Returns TriumphantĀ 

Good day. 

I made a fair dent in my end-of-year marking, working productively through the  day before heading home to rest before our first official showing of The Comedy of Errors

We had a nice crowd who laughed in all the right places and donated generously afterward. Nobody noticed when I messed up my lines, or that I was so cold that my teeth were chattering. We did have a great time, though!

   
                     

(The bug spray I borrowed was effective, but it also stripped the blue paint off the beads I’m wearing, dying the skin on my neck blue!)

Right after getting out of costume, I ran up to the school to meet our boy. Well, technically I walked. Hubby had the car and was already there. I was almost at the school when the bus arrived, so I was able to wave at them as they pulled up. 

Sadly, my phone was out of juice so I don’t have a pic of my son coming off the bus with this awesome fluorescent green squid hat on, clutching a small Chibi Flash doll and smiling tiredly, his face a mix of relief at being home and sadness that his fun adventure was over. He had an amazing time, a trip he will never forget, overcoming some fears and building friendships and trying new things. I’m sure he grew another few inches while he was gone, too. 

The whole house feels more settled, now that he’s home again. 

And the earth turns on. Tomorrow I have to go back into the school to keep marking, we have to start cleaning for visitors next week (I’d actually love to have the cast and crew for a campfire on Sunday if I’m able to get the house presentable by then), and the second show is tomorrow night. No sooner does one thing get done that the next needs doing. 

Slow down, Earth. Just for a bit.

 Addendum: the Squid Boy!

  

Late winter / early spring skiing: animal tracks and animated moods

The snow was sticky today.

It was a balmy -1C when my son and I finally got back out to the ski hill, with a wind chill of -5. Perfect blue sky with the half-moon faintly hanging above. Glorious. There were only four other kids skiing and snowboarding, so we essentially had the slopes to ourselves. I think I would have enjoyed myself more with colder temperatures, though, as crazy as that sounds after our long and bitter winter.

You see, sticky snow is a hazard. It catches up the skis, snagging them in unexpected places and tripping me up when I least expected it. I nearly wiped out (peed myself a little in the process, too) a couple of times, just managing to save myself from what would have been violent tumbles. I’ve never yet broken an arm or a leg but I’m pretty certain that today would have been the day — glad to have dodged that bullet! Although I should have remembered to wear the bladder protection padding . . .

But it was still gorgeous up on that hill, perfect views all around and the added delight of more animal tracks! I saw squirrel, rabbit, and I later learned, fox and lynx.

Jack had a great time also, taking enormous pleasure in following me directly down three or four runs and irritating the heck out of me. I told him, “It’s not that I don’t trust YOU, it’s that if I get caught up and fall you’ll end up running me over and maybe getting hurt yourself!” Silly boy.

Jack had a great time also, taking enormous pleasure in following me directly down three or four runs and irritating the heck out of me. I told him, “It’s not that I don’t trust YOU, it’s that if I get caught up and fall you’ll end up running me over and maybe getting hurt yourself!” Silly boy.

And of course, shortly after getting home, I had a lovely nap. Bridget went to a birthday party later on, her dad taking her so I could sleep, and had some fun bowling, and then Jack went out again to the local Twoonie Skate so he could practice his hard-stops, cross-overs, and spins.

The other day, one of my colleagues commented to me, approvingly and with some surprise, how active I’ve become with my kids. I said, I’ve been trying, for sure. It’s not only good for them (and I do feel like I’ve been playing a bit of catch-up to compensate for the years where we didn’t do much of anything — that refrain “The years before five last the rest of their lives” repeating through my head), but it’s good for me, too. I’m still twenty pounds over the limit of my dress pants’ waistband, and we’re not active every day, but it’s been on a steady increase. And I think we’re seeing benefits in both my son’s and my mental health as well — he’s experienced far less incidents of anxiety, or been better able to cope. I still take my pills, of course (mental note: replenish stock this week), but it’s absolutely true that getting out into the fresh air and sunshine fires bullets at my depression when it rises.

So why was it that I kept yawning on the way up the ski lift?

An absent computer cord, an evening of skating, and a helping of parental guilt.

Left my computer cord at work, so this post is being composed on my iPhone.

I’d rather be typing on a keyboard. Oh, well. 

Had a small attack of the guilts tonight while watching our daughter in her skating show. I was sitting next to our teenager, who expressed a bit of jealousy and a wish that he had gotten involved in skating lessons this winter when I had first offered. So now he wants to try a month in the spring session, which I’m happy to provide. 

The guilt comes from not insisting that he continue the skating after his one year of lessons, when he was 7 or 8, or that I didn’t decide for him that he should be in lessons this winter. I think he would have enjoyed it. At the same time, Jack has karate twice a week and archery on Fridays, so his concern that he might end up doing too much — especially when we added skiing to the mix — was likely valid. On the other hand, he’s a very creative and highly expressive individual. He’s also waffled over going back into dance. 

Guilt, guilt, guilt . . . I don’t want him to be overwhelmed either, yet I want him to get involved with physical activities that he’ll enjoy and will add to his skill set. Bridget, too. But there were a few years when they were both small where I was barely keeping it together, let alone having enough energy to do activities. So I didn’t insist that he keep going in skating, or guitar lessons, and maybe I should have. 

I told him tonight, though, that it’s not too late to start. So hopefully he’ll give it another shot next month, and he says if he likes it, he’ll do skating next year. 

Or dance. 

I’m so tired . . . 

Meanwhile Bridget did very well. She’s made progress in leaps and bounds (mostly figuratively), and even helped the younger ones. So proud of her! 

I’ll try to post some video tomorrow, once I retrieve my damned computer cord.

A long Saturday and Saturnight

Mixed bag today. Stayed up late again last night in an admittedly low-energy, low-yield effort to clean, then fought to wake up this morning to continue before my parents came. Darling hubby got up and took charge of it so I could rest a little longer. Lovely visit with my mom and dad, who brought nice gifts for the birthday boy-to-be, and also took Bridget for her skating lesson to help free us up for cleaning and whatnot. Was able to get a present that he wanted, loot bag stuff, and pick up fruit and meat trays for an early lunch. So a good morning all in all.

Then we went skiing. The air was bitter cold on the first run down the hill, but it improved after that, and the blue sky and sunshine was heartening. I had my music playing so I could swish and glide to the beat, enjoying the way my blades cut through and over the snow. The hour passed too quickly, but in it, I saw Bridget making excellent progress on her own ability to “pizza” down the hill.

Got home and my in-laws had called to say they were in town, checking in at their hotel. I had just enough time for a shower — well, actually, they arrived just as I was finishing up. Thankfully I’d thought to bring up clothing so I didn’t have to parade past them in a towel! What I didn’t manage — and rather wished I had — was a nap.

I rely on my naps to recharge myself in the afternoon. I am an advocate of the daily siesta in order to rejuvenate and be able to attack the world anew. I will admit to having used naps as a means of escape, and sometimes they’re connected to my depression. But when I’m mentally healthy, sometimes I just need that 20 minutes to an hour so I can function again, especially after a stressful week with late nights like this has been. I used to tell my children when they were younger, “Let mummy close her eyes for half an hour so I can be a better mommy for you.”

I didn’t get my post-ski nap. As a consequence, I could feel myself getting a bit snappish when I didn’t mean to be, although my mother-in-law either didn’t notice or understood that I was tired. Sneaking a shot of Bailey’s in the kitchen didn’t help either, but it was sufficiently naughty enough to get my adrenaline pumping a little and help me to smile for another forty minutes. My mother-in-law and her husband are very sweet and generous, but after this long week of exam marking and new courses and party planning (one boy out of the three party guests has stayed for overnight gaming and snacking), and after the rush of endorphins from skiing, I didn’t have my usualĀ patience. I had to be reminded by a dear friend to breathe.

This is actually one of the reasons why I used to be afraid to exercise. I worried about feeling tired afterward and not being able to cope. I sometimes feel like I have too much body to haul around, that I’m too much for gravity and it’s too much effort to try. That’s mostly a skewed viewpoint coming from not enough rest, though, and not enough rest is one of my triggers. Is getting exercise helping me or not? If it leaves me tired and I don’t get sufficient sleep, I’m not sure.

Tomorrow the visiting continues, and there’s an extra ski lesson in the afternoon. We’ll bring Hubby’s mother and her husband to the ski chalet with us, where they can sit by a comfortable wood stove and maybe meet some other people, while the kids and I hit the slopes for an hour. Not sure what we’ll do after that — maybe a board game or two. I may have to excuse myself for that much-needed nap so I feel rested enough for work on Monday, though I hate doing that when guests are here.

Party prep (again) — where’s my planner???

Our boy Jack is turning 14 on Sunday. We don’t have a big do planned for him — he invited three or four friends for a sleepover tomorrow night but only one or two have confirmed that they’re coming. One is sick, and another says he just doesn’t feel like it. He asked another friend but the response was that he was going snowboarding. I guess I should have just told him we could do a day with a friend at Mont Kanasuta, but we’ve typically had trouble with his birthday at this time of year. When he was younger and we wanted to give him big parties at the pool, bowling alley, or what-have-you, often he would lose guests to hockey practices. And it’s often too cold in this region at this point of the winter to go sledding at night. We’ve had to be creative with trying different things, done the sleepover a couple of times — it’s easier now that he’s got an X-Box, too.

Jack said to me the other day that he feels like girls are more likely to have big parties. I don’t know how true that is, or whether kids continue having big parties as they get older, except for the milestones. My childhood birthdays tended to be small, with a handful of guests, particularly if we were moving to a new town at the time. We gave him a big Winnie-the-Pooh party when he turned 3 — it was really more therapeutic for me, having lost a pregnancy a few months earlier — and a Wizard party the next year, for which I recruited high schoolers to help as volunteers. Was it last year that we did laser tag? Most of the time, we also try to avoid having parties in the house when possible because we just don’t have the space, but given that it’s only once a year, sometimes it’s worth the noise and the mess and the crowding and the cleaning.

I do wish, right now, that I could afford a party planner or that I had thought ahead to at least get a quote. After two weeks of exams and exam marking and report cards and new classes, the time and energy I’d believed would be available have slipped away like the heat from my coffee if I leave it in the car. Add to that the stress of grandparents coming tomorrow, neither myself nor Hubby feeling quite well from lack of sleep, and the pressure of the next project I said I’d do, and it’s an unholy knot forming between my shoulders. Plus I wasn’t able to get his birthday wish (beanbag chair).

But solutions are forming. I’ve decided that anything that doesn’t directly belong in the living room is going to be stuck in a basket and put upstairs in a relatively out-of-the-way place. If he only has one or two friends coming, that makes picking up loot bag stuff easy! I’ve already picked up party refreshments — Sunny-D and three kinds of chips — and they can always walk to the corner store to pick out candy. I also have a back-up gift I can get him, in lieu of the chair: he really wants a fancy Turtle Beach headset for gaming. I told him he would earn it by completing keyboarding exercises but we can switch it up to something else he’d like to have. His sister also needs to pick something out for her big brother, so I’ll have to bring her out with me to choose a gift. (sigh) And here I had anticipated taking care of all of this during the after-Christmas sales. Oh, well.

One thing I’m finding, though, is that having a child of my own about to enter high school and at the same age / maturity level of some of my current students is making it easier for me to have patience with my grade 9s. There is a benefit to being the mother of a teenager while teaching teenagers! And soon, he’ll be choosing his courses for next year.

Meanwhile, his slightly-jealous, highly ambitious little sister has been planning her own next birthday party, 10 months from now, almost since the night after her 9th birthday passed. (additional sigh)

Another positive point: since the kids have their skiing tomorrow afternoon, that’s one way to help keep the house clean (if and when I get this stuff done). Oh, no . . . if I also go skiing, I’m bound to crash for a couple of hours right when in-laws are descending and kids are coming. I may have to forgo my weekly hour on the slopes! Nooooo!!!

Dropped my sugar cube in the toaster.

Yeah.

I unplugged the machine and tried to fish the sugar cube out but the little bastard dropped further down into the guts where I cannot access it. I pulled the tray out of the bottom and tried poking it into pieces with a knife but tilting the toaster back only made it slide out of reach. Now there are crumbs all over my counter. I have also come to realize that the last few times Hubby made whatever in the frying pan it spattered grease on the toaster’s side and never got cleaned up.

This is one of those times when I just want to buy a whole new doggarned toaster. Too many other things to deal with.

Had a good first day of classes. Lessons went well. No major problems. Still not done my exams and found no time in the day to work on them. Brought them home and rapidly ran out of energy; laid down for a short nap (hah!) after supper and the only thing that got me up again was to do this blog.

You, dear reader, pulled me out of my nest of warmth and coziness to tend to business.

I really don’t want to pull an all-nighter. Exhaustion is already making my head buzz again and I just feel off. I wish I could sleep for two days, without any stressors to interrupt or make me start out of slumber.

In the midst of starting classes and wrapping up the semester with exam marking, I still have to thoroughly clean our home for the birthday sleepover around the corner — including in-laws descending — and prepare the 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge that I said I would do in a few weeks. It’s February 20-21. As soon as my exams etc. are done and the birthday is over, I have to get on the advertising and organizational details. I’m looking forward to that, if only I can power through the marking.

The lure of staying up super-late to get through all of the lingering work is strong, because then I’d face the dawn with a clean-ish slate. (I can’t put the final marks in until I feed the exam and course culminating results into MarkBook at school.) And since I did have that long nap, it’s possible I could do it once the kids are in bed. And Hubby. It’s to my advantage, also, that he’s got the day off tomorrow — I won’t be facing the task of getting the kids out of the house on my own.

Speaking of . . . Hubby is now on the task of the sugar cube, and he made sure that the 9 year old got her homework done. The teenager has done his laundry. The animals have been cared for — Elizabeth made a break for “freedom” earlier this evening when I attempted to give her a leash made of ribbon and she wiggled out of it, but she ran for the space in the TV stand where the photo albums are (for once I am grateful that our living room is kind of an obstacle course around the edges! She couldn’t reach the really good hiding spot underneath the stand). I either need to make time to fashion a proper lizard harness from instructions I found online, or order the one I saw on Amazon. Oh, Amazon . . . with your legions of underpaid minions running through warehouses. I feel guilty every time I order on Amazon. Skittles hasn’t had her walk, but she’s had cuddles and treats. And the excitement of watching Elizabeth scurry across the floor.

The sugar cube is free. He used olive tongs to fish it out. Sometimes, it’s just better to leave some problems to the spouse.

———

Ooh, funny/good moments today, though:

  • when a grade 9 student mentioned, through her giggles, that she’d heard I do an awesome witch’s cackle, so I did it and scared (or scarred) a few of them at the end of class
  • when Elizabeth jumped from my knee to Skittles’ head, and then jumped to the coffee table — the poor dog didn’t know what to think but didn’t freak out, to her credit
  • Hubby’s delicious meatloaf and mashed potatoes — I wish I could have eaten more of it, or eaten it more slowly, it was that good