Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Beautiful Family Filled Christmasy Kind of Day

I awoke this morning with a happy, contented heart.

I wandered down the hallway in the dark and went straight to the Christmas lights. I plugged in my external source of happy and padded on with my morning.

I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled in front of the computer. Everything that I needed was at my fingertips.

I sent off a few emails. I made a plan and a promise and I set sail in a direction of intent. I am giving my first gifts of the season.

I made a phone call that was set in motion by an early morning dream the other day. It was the right thing to do. I had no idea what I could do or say but by the end of the conversation I think I found one small thing that I could offer. Nothing much. But something.

My heart is feeling happy and full. Jeffery Straker's music has been the soundtrack of my day. His musicality, voice and lyrics make me feel light and happy.

I have played with my Family Book Project. I have not done anything new. But I have done something.

Creative gift ideas are starting to come to me. Nothing is blazing forward in a brazen and obvious way but I am hopeful that opening myself up to a quiet, light, easy and breezy day will allow my thoughts to flow and take me where I need to go.

This still may not be the Christmas That Stands Out From the Rest ... but I will work with what I have and be content with the results.

I really have very little to say but I did want to share this 'piece of happy' that carried me through the day. Take a minute to watch and listen to this:

If you enjoyed that, go to his website ( and press the "Play" button on the top, left hand corner of the screen. Plug in some Christmas lights, follow the desires of your heart ... and you have replicated my day.

This is the best I can do to give you the gift of this perfectly blissful day.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I had such a crappy week and was feeling like such a grump tonight, I decided to bring out the Christmas decorations and get-that-job-done while I was in a terrible mood anyway.

I grumbled all the way, thinking to myself "This better make me all holly and jolly, dammit!"

Our Daycare-Proof Christmas scene
All of the lights are starting to make me happy
The China cabinet display changes a little from year to year but is still my favorite way to display all of my special Christmas gifts
And do you know what?? By jove, I think it worked.

I will wake up to a clean, organized and decorated house in the morning. All work has been tended. I don't have to work at my second job this weekend. And I think I just may wake up on the right side of the bed, knowing that I have put all of the big jobs behind me.

I just may feel holly and jolly after all.

Friday, November 29, 2013


My nightmare had taken me to the edge of where my imagination dared to go. It was at this point that my conscious mind told my subconscious mind that enough was enough. I knew I was in a dream so I was yelling at myself, "Wake up! Wake up!! Open your eyes!!"

My eyes wouldn't open. My conscious mind was so confused. I was certain that I was dreaming but I couldn't get myself out of the situation I was in. I was locked in my dream state for what felt like an eternity. It was probably ten seconds.

Finally, finally my eyes opened with a jolt. And what playing in the background of my nightmare? An episode of "Supernatural" (this is my best guess according to my fully conscious deducing abilities this morning). Eerie music was playing which was definitely the back drop to the nightmare that I just escaped.

I had fallen asleep to the music on the Much Music channel instead of my usual go-to-sleep channel (the Home & Garden Network). The Home & Garden network never ever gives me nightmares.

Once I was safe, back in the land of home and gardening adventures I fell back to sleep and drifted into a dream state that nestled me straight into the middle of Family.

I dreamt of my uncle and his family. I dreamt that it was a vision of my cousin's wife that I followed. She was without a voice but she walked in front of me and led me to where I most needed to be.

In my dream, everyone-that-mattered surrounded my uncle and his family. There was little that anyone could physically do for them. All that mattered is that they were there.

So many subconscious thoughts led me to that dream. There was a thread of a story within the dream. The story-of-my-uncle was intertwined within one object that was carried forward through the storyline of his life.

One of my cousins contacted me yesterday about gathering memories for yet another uncle. I have an uncommitted weekend in my forecast. My dream has guided me to reach out to an uncle's family. I think I know what I must do.

Do you know what the moral of this story is? "Supernatural" led me back to my own "Home & Garden" ... was it only a dream? Or is there a deeper meaning to all of this?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Vacation Throwback

Yesterday was a day lost to me. I took my very first sick day (from my daycare) yesterday.

The stomach bug that my four-year-old daycare charge brought into our home on Monday hit (at least) five of us within a 36 hour period.

I slept around the clock and then some. I honestly thought that I must be making a mountain out of a mole hill when I was still in bed at 3:00 in the afternoon. I had a bath, got dressed and assumed that I would be on my way. But I was depleted. I made it to the couch.

By 9:00 p.m., I thought that I was being ridiculous. I hadn't had a bite of nourishment all day. That is why the exhaustion levels were so high. That was when I remembered my 'last meal' on my cruise. Green apples and crackers.

I was in the throes of seasickness when my friend brought back a most special treat from the chef's kitchen. Granny Smith apples and crackers. Never have either tasted so good.

I smiled to myself as I bit into that first bite of apple last night. It took me back to a happy place. My Alaskan cruise holiday...

As people talk about vacations all around the world, I sit back quietly and I am happy that they are happy with their adventures. Each and every time, I silently hope that they had (or have) as good of a a time as I did when I went on my Alaskan adventure.

I am so incredibly grateful that I took advantage of the opportunities to go on a few extra curricular holidays when life opened up those possibilities. Do I long to do it all over again? In a word ... "no".

I savored the moments while I lived them. I packed up my memories in words or pictures or little moments that were imprinted in my heart.

I live a simple life full of ordinary things. But I think that it is a great gift when something as simple as a stomach flu can take me back to the vacation-of-a-lifetime. Simply by remembering the advise of a very thoughtful waiter. "Granny Smith apples and crackers" are what he lived on while his body acclimatized itself to his career on the open seas.

All I need to remember now, is to keep some ginger ale on hand to go along with those apples and crackers when the need arises. I can easily recreate my 'last supper' on my Alaskan cruise holiday. I just need a little dose of seasickness on the side.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Famous Last Words

"I'm ready, world. Now I can open my blinds and unlock the door and know that I'm ready for whatever the day has in store" - these are the words that I typed at exactly 7:22 a.m. yesterday.

I believe that I have learned to question the wisdom of ever telling the world you are ready for whatever it has in store. 'The world'  has a sense of humor and will laugh heartily as it tests your ability to confront the day's challenges.

I rolled with it when my four-year-old daycare charge got sick to her stomach. Profusely. Just as I  had started to prepare lunch. All over the love seat. And the floor. She was covered from the ends of her hair to the tip of her toes.

I bathed her. I changed her. I rinsed out her clothes. I cleaned up the couch & carpet. Then I went back to making lunch.

It was then, that I discovered that my pot had boiled over onto the burner despite the fact that I turned everything off the moment that I realized that I wouldn't be returning any time soon.

My little sick girl was laying contentedly on the couch.

Hey wait! She is laying down. She is still sick. Get something for her to lay on!! Quick!!!

I almost made it.

She got the couch and the floor. Not so much on her clothes this time.

Her dad sent me a text message in and around this time. Dad: "Do you want me to pick her up?" Me: "Yes please".

Just to assure me that I had done the right thing and asked for an assist from her dad, she threw up one more time. On the carpet, by the front door, before they had a chance to leave. I was 'that close' to making an almost clean break.

I scrubbed. I cleaned. I wiped. I swiped. All I could smell was vomit (that is what happens when you take a good, deep whiff of a dirty couch).

I didn't know if it was my imagination or if the scent of vomit had permeated the air. I found out later that I was wearing some of it.

Then my other three started waking up from naps. I fed the one-year-old his bottle. He actually stayed still for more than a few minutes. I savored those moments. They are rare and unusual. It is a very, very good thing that I did because ...

... the instant he started to move about, my two-year-old woke up. She smelled pretty funky. No, she wasn't sick. Just a diaper issue.

I cleaned her up and returned to my one-year-old and thought the air still smelled funny. No, it wasn't just something in the air. It was my one-year-old. I cleaned him up.

Then my other two-year-old woke up. I took a deep breath as I fortified myself for the home stretch of the day. Was I ready for this?

The air that I inhaled didn't smell too good. "Are you stinky?" I asked my innocent little girl. She simply replied "Yes".

Do you ever have a day that just plain stinks?!?? I did.

Well world, I'm not ready for a thing today. I'm still trying to figure out if the house smells funny. And if so, why ...

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Fresh Slate

A fresh slate is set out before me today. A new week. A new day. A new beginning. A fresh start. Waking up in the morning gives a person the chance to be courageous and try it all over again.

I hope that my weekend was a good investment in time and money. 

I spent a small fortune on a gating system that (I hope) will keep my new little one-year-old daycare imp out of mischief. He simply doesn't do 'no'. Three weeks and he is still touching that which is off limits and heads off into the kitchen whenever he wishes.

Today I can barricade him from the kitchen, the TV, the printer and the front door. I hope this buys me just a little bit of piece of mind. Because I really could use those moments spent on retrieving him from the no-go-zones so that I can hover over my new little four-year-old.

She is a sweet little girl and as long as I have my eyes on her, she is harmless. Sure, I have had to repeat the "No grabbing", "Hands off" and "No means no" rules many times but for the most part she seems to be respecting the rules we have around here. Until I turn my back. I walk back into the room and she is sitting on a two-year-old. No one is being hurt. No one is crying. It simply shouldn't happen.

I have a house full of little people who seem to have adopted the credo "If she isn't looking, we can do whatever we want to do". This belief is spreading faster than the common cold.

I have brought up a new selection of toys for the new week. Toys that don't require a great deal of energy when it comes time to clean up toys. I bought a few new educational toys which I will bring out one-week-at-a-time. I purchased some new games for our LeapPad.

The cold weather has broke and we should be able to get back outside. This is big. This is really big! I can't wait to bundle up these little packages of energy and let them run wild in the back yard. This is exactly when they decide that it is fun to stand beside the fence. 

I have moved things around in the kitchen a little bit to allow room for our 'kitchen gate' to swing and to easily bring in another high chair as things evolve even more within the next few months.

I reorganized the spare room so that there is more than a pathway from the bedroom door to the playpen. My new families have brought their own set of supplies for me to keep on hand and I hadn't found new homes for them. The bed was strewn with miscellaneous items of all kinds. 

I tended to many small housekeeping items this past weekend and the time that was left over was spent shopping and 'investing' in my daycare business.

I hope all of this buys me a little bit of a reprieve this week. The adjustments have been just a small bit overwhelming.

I just got word that one of 'my kids' won't be coming to daycare today. This will be followed by another that will be gone from Tuesday to Friday. This equates to a little bit of breathing space as we continue to adapt and adjust to our two new little ones. 

Today is going to be a good day. I can feel it in the air. I spent my energy (and my money) where it needed to be spent this past weekend. I know it was a good investment. New gates, new toys, new games, new strategies and a renewed sense of energy. 

I'm ready, world. Now I can open my blinds and unlock the door and know that I'm ready for whatever the day has in store.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

And These ... Are the Days in My Life

My Daycare Days have been pretty crazy lately. Losing 'quiet time' has been a sacrifice that I wasn't really prepared for. I have been fighting to regain that sense of calm within the storm for three weeks now. Yesterday??? I think I won. 

Here are a few scenes from My Day:

Senior Cat races upstairs as soon as he hears things settle down. He eyes up a piece of the couch to call his own (usually at my side) and nestles into whatever crack or crevice  he can find.
Where there are quiet children and body heat (and me) ... there is our Senior Cat. Lapping up the quiet right along with me.
Kids are all in bed. Senior Cat is on my lap. We are both lovin' the moment while it lasts ...
... and it doesn't last long. Junior Cat sensed the peace that reigned in the floor above him and came to stir things up a little.
This is typical of the way our two cats 'snuggle'. There is always something between the two of them ... but they are often within the same close proximity of each other. And it is still quiet. Do you hear the quiet?? 
The kids are stirring but they are still quiet and in a very restful state. While I give The Youngest his after-nap bottle, The Oldest woke from her nap and took over the last piece of couch that remained (Senior Cat had already staked his claim on the little triangle between me and the back of the sofa).

And so are the days of my life. If I can find a small bit of tranquillity among the chaos of the day, I will be all right.

All I can hope for is 'more of the same' in the days and weeks that follow.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life Maintenance 101

I seem to be going through an annoying phase of paying someone to fix things. Then the fix doesn't work. Time and time again. I started to wonder when this cycle began ...
  • The car. I took it in and got the transmission flushed. Then it leaked transmission fluid afterwards. I took it back and they fixed it. But I had to take it back to do the job that should have been done the first time.
  • Our cat with chronic diarrhea - we may be onto something. Six months later. After many phone calls, a vet appointment, antibiotics, deworming, consulting Dr. Google and then a Pet Store Expert ... I finally talked to the dietician at our vet's office and after almost a month and $70.00 worth of gold nuggets which they call cat food ... things are looking better. But are they fixed? Really fixed? 
  • My hair. Oh ... my, hair! I cheaped out and got it cut at a hair school. I thought 'What do I have to lose??' It turns out that I had my hair to lose. The cheap haircut cost me $79 to fix ... and the fix was another bad haircut that has taken three months to grow out to the point where I had my first bad haircut. I am now slightly paranoid about taking my overgrown locks anywhere at all.
  • The car again.I got the oil changed. Then it leaked engine oil afterwards. I took it back and they told me that I need a new oil pressure sensor. 
  • The fence. Two words that make me shudder to this day. We paid professionals to do the job and it didn't happen. It was simply a bad situation. The fence is up. The fence is beautiful. But the job is not yet complete. It continues to haunt me. But the worst part of all, is that I fear that my relationship with my Middle Son will be forever haunted by this as well.
  • The car one more time. I got the radiator flushed. Now the car does not blow heat. "It's just an air bubble - bring it right back and we can fix it". I did. They didn't. Now the car needs a new oil pressure sensor and the heat fixed. This is starting to sound like my hair!
  • The furnace and air exchanger. The furnace was making a strange sound. The moisture on the windows was ridiculous and it wasn't even -20. I hired someone to come and look at these two things. It cost $75 (plus tax). And neither are fixed. So I have placed another service call to remedy these problems. Hopefully my $75 'deposit' will go towards the eventual repair.
  • Senior Cat ... oh, my senior kitty. We have invested $630 in his health and I think that he is as good as he is going to get. I gazed into his eyes yesterday and thought 'If you can stay as good as you are and not get any worse ... this is enough'. Health is such a precarious thing and there are no guarantees. Sometimes we have to get used to a new normal but as long as it doesn't continue to deteriorate this is okay.
It is frustrating. It seems that I am running into little speed bumps at every turn. But I am not. Not really. I simply want things to run the way they have always run. I don't care about age, technical difficulties or how hard it is to diagnose the problems. I simply want things to ... stay the same.

Well, girl ... I have news for you. Nothing in life stays the same. When we can hold onto a car, a fence, a furnace, a pet and our hair as long as we can ... but things are bound to change in time.

The lesson here is that it is 'just' all of the above. It could be my health or the health of a loved one that is in jeopardy. The difficulty to diagnose a problem with a car is pretty minor in the whole scheme of things. Worst case scenario? Buy a new car. It is a tangible item with a tangible solution.

Strong, healthy relationships and a strong healthy body are two of life's greatest gifts. There is no price that can be paid to fix things once they are broken beyond repair.

As frustrating, expensive and time consuming as these petty little annoyances are ... that is all that they are. Petty. As I have said on many, many occasions, "If money can fix our problems, we are very lucky indeed."

I am one of the lucky ones. I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thyme on My Hands

I not only found the thyme I was looking for yesterday morning but I found a little extra time this morning. Whew!

I have time on my hands but so little to say. The only thoughts whirling through my head at the moment are the things-I-have-to-do before my daycare family starts to arrive.

I am busy.

But it must be the right kind of busy because I am (finally!) feeling energized. It has been a long time coming but I think (I think) it is back.

My daycare days are a bit of a blur. These guys keep me hopping but (for the most part) I'm rolling with it. There is noise, confusion, crying and a sense of 'too much' at times. But (this is big) we seem to have hit a point in the day where there is 'synchronized sleeping' going on. One hour of quiet does a lot for a person. Namely 'me'.

My weekend employment is (maybe) slowing down to one-day-per-weekend instead of two. One day. I have wasted oh-so-many-days but now that I know the value of a day maybe I can invest it wisely. I have oh-so-much to do.

The family memories that I have been working on? They have been all but forgotten since my summer vacation. Now that I have 'gained' a day and found my energy and enthusiasm again ... maybe I can start whittling away at that little project.

Then there is Christmas. Is anyone else out there as 'down' on Christmas as I am this year (this has been getting progressively worse each and every year)? I have many reasons behind this feeling. One of which (for the first time in forever) ... is not money. Christmas has never been all about the material gifts for me. It is more about gifts from the heart. An investment of time and effort verses money. Which brings me back to the beginning of where my head was at when I started writing this post-about-nothing.


There doesn't seem to be enough to go around these days. But the less time I have ... the more I get done. So I think that oddball equation is going to work out for me in the end.

One Hour (or so) of Quiet (in the midst of my daycare day) + One Day Off (per weekend) = Time to Breathe In + Time to Exhale.

Here is to hoping that I am inhaling enough good air so that I can breathe out something worth reading. Christmas letters, Christmas articles and assembling the research that I have accumulated are weighing heavy on my mind.

Time. Is there ever really enough??

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Can't Find the Thyme!

As I raced through the morning updating my Daycare Blog and making hamburger soup for lunch to help expedite the day ahead of me, I had all of the ingredients for my soup tossed into the pot and simmering.

Except ... I couldn't find the thyme. One missing ingredient. Just one.

I heard myself thinking "I can't find the thyme!" "Where is my thyme?" "I don't have the thyme!"

I had to smile to myself as I heard the hidden truth within those very words. I was trying to pack too many things into too little time. Truer words were never thought. "I can't find the thyme (time)" ...

Monday, November 18, 2013


I like working with numbers. Math problems are black and white. The answers are right or wrong. There is a challenge to finding the error of your ways and balancing to zero. Numbers are a tangible commodity and there is always a solution.

I often said that the most challenging part about working at the school was that in my position as a secretary there were so many gray areas. "Use your judgement"; "We decide on a case by case basis". Every time I thought I found 'the right answer', I soon found out that it was wrong the second time around.

I wanted firm and strong answers. I wanted structure and training. I wanted to know my way around enough to make good decisions. Maybe it would have come in time, if I had not been floating around to different schools all around the city. I longed for my safe world of numbers. The world of right and wrong. Black and white. Balancing to zero.

I never found that by working at the school or the various part time jobs that I took on as I tried to support myself on my fluctuating and unstable income. That was the only thing that 'math' helped me with during that time. I knew my budget wasn't balancing and I had to keep looking for workable answers. I needed more &/or stable employment. Black and white.

I found my way back into my daycare world. Perhaps the answers aren't black and white but they are definitely a very dark shade of gray and a just little off white. My responsibilities are clear. Keep the children happy, safe, fed, clean and dry. There are (in my mind) more right ways to accomplish these goals and a myriad of wrong ways. I know what I'm aiming for. There are almost always attainable solutions.

Add my bookkeeping job to the mix and I've got a pretty balanced life. I have that tangible right, wrong, black, white and 'balancing to zero' to offset the shades of black and white in my daycare world.

This weekend was particularly gratifying because I was of great assistance to my boss who was trying to 'balance to zero'. I knew what the end goal was. I went for it and succeeded. The elation in my boss's eyes told me that this ... is where I am meant to be.

Life is a very good teacher. There are few math equations in real life. Life is complicated and messy at times. Confusing and chaotic at others. It is full of a wide variety of good, bad, happy, sad and a rainbow of colors. There may not be one big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but there are so many gold nuggets if you simply watch for them.

I left my bookkeeping job and walked back into the real world. It (almost) met me at the door.

Illness and good health. Cures and diseases. Life and death. Life is full of so very many gray areas. Sometimes we need to wait for the rain to appreciate the many colors of a rainbow.

Give me numbers any day. Sometimes balancing a bank book is the about the only thing that I feel like I can do. But I will do my best to do more than just that. Life is messy and complicated. But it is also joyful and exhilarating. We wouldn't appreciate one without the other.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Off to Work I Go

It is going to be another working weekend. And that is okay.

I had three entire days off last weekend. That energized me enough to get through a wild and crazy Daycare Week and push me through to the weekend.

In fact, the wildness and craziness of my Daycare Days makes me appreciate my bookkeeping job. I have only one thing to do at a time. The entire day is quiet time. I don't have to feed anyone, change anyone, clean up after anyone, train anyone ... I get to play with numbers. Quietly!

No matter what I try or how I do things in this Daycare World of mine, I have yet to find a strategy that works. Every time. What works once may work a second time (for half as long). But the third time isn't the charm. By then, the gig is up and the kids are onto me and we are back at step one.

Introduce food into the day and things just go crazy. Everyone wants the same thing at the same time. I simply could not be more organized as I set the kid's meals down in front of them. Simultaneously. Yet it is not enough.

Food energizes these guys. It creates a whole domino effect of 'bathrooming' issues. Washing up before they eat. Cleaning up after they eat.

Whatever state we leave the kitchen in after a meal, is the state it stays in until the next hiatus within the day. Which is usually preparing the next meal or snack. One day, I made the crazy mistake of thinking I could finish cleaning up the residual lunch mess during nap time. I had exactly ten minutes of simultaneous sleeping that particular day (up from the two minutes that I had a few days prior). And I wasted five of those precious minutes cleaning the kitchen!

We have had some wonderful winter weather and I have rediscovered the magical force of the great outdoors. A half hour of fresh air is a mood changer. For all of us. Playing outside almost always guarantees me content,  happy and busy kids. I breathe in the fresh air, take pictures, send off a text or an email from my phone and forge a connection with the adult world outside of our yard. It takes us twelve minutes (down, from a previous twenty minutes) to get everyone dressed and ready to go outside. It takes five minutes to undress, hang up and place wet winter wear in a place where it can dry.

The days are a blur. I live in a world of perpetual motion. I think I have a minute to sit still but then someone needs something or is getting into something they shouldn't or I 'smell a smell' that needs to be investigated or one of a thousand other things.

But today? I get to go and sit in an adult world, think adult thoughts, talk to another adult being and work uninterrupted for eight solid hours. Uninterrupted!! Oh yes, and I happen to get paid to do this job as well (this is a side benefit that I fail to remember until I receive my pay cheque at the end of the month).

Who knew that I needed a bigger workload during the week to help me appreciate the difference in the workload I carry on the weekends?

The downside of this outside-of-my-home employment and adult conversation within the day ahead of me ... is that I just wasted at least twenty minutes of my morning trying to rectify a bad hair morning and applying eye make-up and color to my cheeks so that my face does not looked like the washed out blur of the week that I have just lived. I could have dressed and undressed five kids to go outside and still have had time left over to play with the time I just spent in the bathroom trying alter the reflection in the mirror.

There is color on my face and a skip to my step as I head out into the world-without-kids and sing a little ditty like "Hi ho! Hi ho! It's off to work I go ..."

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Are You Really Trying to Bug Me??"

Man! The little things are bugging me this week.

I could write a litany of all that is getting under my skin. The list is growing by the minute. What in the world is going on here? Is 'the world' really trying to annoy me? Or ... is it me??

I look at each and every little petty annoyance. None of it is new. Or different. Or bigger. Or anything out of what has become our ordinary.

I'm simply not rolling with the punches right now.

I'm in a state of transition as my work load has doubled during the day and (seemingly) doubled on the weekend as well. Add to that, the fact that I actually have friends that I would like to spend time with and a family that I would enjoy talking with ... and I am a little bit of a hot mess.

My little daycare family sees the best that I have to give. My patience levels have grown to levels I have never seen or felt within myself. Ever. But this seems to have come at a price.

If I don't get that little piece of quiet in the middle of my Daycare Day, I start to unravel. Slowly at first. Then all of a sudden ... POOF!! It is gone.

There are minor mini explosions as I let some of the pressure release. Then I quickly rein it back in and carry on.

My work day ends and I am depleted.

Then there is more to be done. I beg the phone not to ring. I don't check emails obsessively. I rarely dial out and reach someone...

There!! That is it! I found what has been missing this week ...

I have a friend that lives in a parallel universe of mine. It does not matter what in the world either one of us is going through ... we talk.

She has a daycare in her home as well, so we have become a little bit of a life line to each other. We talk of the inane, the important, life, kids, relationships and every little thing in between.

Each of us have the demands of our respective Daycare Families that take precedence over our conversation. But we have the sustenance of our our friendship that carries us through whatever is going on in our worlds. We talk openly about the little stuff that adds up (the big stuff too) and it never fails. We always (and I stress always) end up hearing on the other end of the (life) line, "You feel that way too??"

We each relieve a little tension with this open and honest friendship. And it has been missing this week. I think I know who I  need to call.

Maybe the whole world isn't out to ruin my day after all.

The Cat is Mocking Me!

I admit it. I'm lagging behind. Taking care of two more children during the day has doubled my workload, tripled my impatience and quadrupled my exhaustion. I can't keep up with everything if I still want to log the sleep that (I think) I need to do it all over again the next day.

And our cat is mocking me.

I woke up yesterday morning to Junior Cat playing a rousing game of kitchen-floor hockey with an Alpha Bit that was abandoned on the floor from snack time (the day prior). "Mr. Fussy Cat ... I didn't sweep the floor after snack yesterday. I thought it was much more important to leave you a puck to practise your paw-handling skills (he looked like a cat version of Wayne Gretzky)." Personally, I was pretty impressed. Five children and all he could find was one Alpha Bit?!! Yay, team!! Way'd eat your snack all nice and neat! (I must have found and picked up the rest).

Then ... the same 'Wayne Gretzky-in-training-cat' started attacking the carpet like he was chasing an invisible rodent. Run! Hunker down and grab onto the carpet! Attack it! Chase it some more!! I went to investigate what Junior Cat was chasing. It was a strand of carpet. "No, Mr. Fussy Pants ... I didn't have time to vacuum yesterday. I meant to. Honest! But I like to give the snow a chance to evaporate before I vacuum it up and destroy (yet another) vacuum cleaner. I meant to. I simply forgot to remember to do it later!" More likely than not, our cat was probably the one responsible for the stray carpet strand to start with. And he mocks me for not vacuuming?! The audacity ...

As if this wasn't enough, Mr. Fuss Budget had to bring the mud in, from the back mat and start playing hockey with it as well (he lost the Alpha Bit beside the dishwasher and I wasn't telling him where it was). "No ... no ... no!! I didn't vacuum the back mat either! Besides, that is not even my dirt. Why should I have to clean it??" Yes, I was becoming child-like and petty. He was hurting my feelings as he was playing with all of the dirt that he seems to think he needed to bring to my attention.

If our Senior Cat was more playful, I don't think Junior Cat would need to dig up the dirt around here to have something to play with.

It is sad in a funny sort of way.

Junior Cat has stopped nuzzling his Superior, in an invitation to wrestle. He must have gotten his ears bitten one too many times. Now, he nuzzles the scruff of Senior Cat's neck and races past in the hopes of initiating a game of tag. Then he will pretend to want to bite Senior Cat's tail and race off. "Come on! Come and chase me!! Let's play tag!!!" Senior Cat is nonplussed about all of Junior's antics. He doesn't get mad. He just lets it roll off his back.

I think our Senior Cat is hurting. He doesn't complain. But he doesn't move very quickly either. My heart aches to see this gradual decline. And Junior Cat is throwing his health and vitality in my face by playing with all of our dirt. Double whammy.

I'm grateful for our two black kitties. I think if anyone could spark Senior Cat's energy and enthusiasm, it is Junior. And Junior is trying. He is trying to show Senior how fun life is when you simply play with whatever you find at hand and turn it into a sport.

Then again? Perhaps Junior is trying to trick me into doing the housework around here. Sad to say ... it worked.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time Management

I would like to be a fly on my wall so that I could see what is happening around here from an outsider's perspective.

I seem to have lost all track of time management in my days. Before, during and after my daycare days begin and end.

I have set my alarm for a half hour earlier in the morning. Which translates into becoming exhausted an hour earlier every evening. Okay ... tell me where I am gaining productivity by waking early.

I have taken that extra half hour and lost it. I think that I can squeeze an extra hour of frittering into a half hour. Once again, am I losing time or gaining wasted moments?

I gave up make up last week in a move to gain five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening (the time that I figure I mess around with applying and then washing off make up). Well? I do believe that I've achieved the chronically tired look.

The five minutes that I think that I have saved applying make up in the morning, is spent taming the cowlicks and rooster tails and excess hair on the top of my head. Even though my hair is by no means long ... it needs to be thinned. The last time I told a hair dresser this, it cost me $78.49 and it took three months to grow back the hair that she 'trimmed'. Which brings me today. Ask me if I am just a tad fearful of hairdressers at the moment.

I write for an on-line publication which has become quite a challenge. They have changed up their design/format and I cannot seem to accomplish the simple task of posting a blog without ... resaving it numerous times (which has led to numerous identical posts). Each time I try to simply copy and paste a new blog post, I am inundated with problems. What should take fifteen minutes often takes me an hour. And I try to fit that into that half hour that I gained by getting up early.

Then ... I open up my Daycare Doors.

The past few weeks have been nothing short of a blur. Tending this particular combination of children takes up every moment of the day. I sat back and savored the moment at 8:00 yesterday morning. Everyone was happy. Everyone was in my eyesight. No one needed to be fed or diapered and no noses (in the millisecond that I took time to enjoy that moment) needed to be wiped. It was a glorious moment. And I spoiled it for myself by feeling like I should be starting to get our breakfast ready. I actually took time out of my precious day to write this statement: "8:00 a.m. Contentment reigns ... forgive me for simply sitting back and enjoying these fleeting moments". Then I made breakfast. And the spell was broken for the 9.5 hours that followed.

I used to be able to accomplish small things as I tended my young charges. Now? I don't even have time to go to the bathroom. I finally drank the dregs from my second cup of coffee (that I poured before 7:00 a.m.) at 5:30 last night. I couldn't believe how good that old coffee tasted. It tasted like ... freedom.

Mind you ... there are moments that I savor. Taking my work outdoors turns it all around. This is the scene that I basked in for a good portion of the morning:

Then came the non-existant synchronized sleeping time in the afternoon. I sat on the couch and bonded with my new little four-year-old girl. And it was good. Not good for my need-for-a-piece-of-quiet in my day ... but it was good for my soul. 

There are snippets of serenity in my days. Perhaps I've been spoiled prior to this because the quiet minutes aren't consecutive ones. Sleep has never felt so good. It is quiet. It is a solid eight hours. No interruptions. No short cuts. In fact, it is the only thing that hasn't suffered in this time mismanagement saga that I have told. Tacking on an hour on one end and taking a way a half hour on the other makes for a little longer night. And the way the days have been going, I'll take that added half hour of sleep. Just don't ask too much of me after 8:00 p.m. ...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Maintaining Patience

Do we have a finite amount of patience within us? When that patience is all used up on dealing with our day-to-day stressors do we snap at the merest provocation after that point? Is patience an acquired trait or is it a part of some people's make-up? Do we develop our patience as we go along? Or is it 'all of the above'.

I may have forgotten a time in my life when I became enraged over the smallest of things ... if it hadn't been for a time when I saw myself in a friend. She was stressed to the max. And then some. Then her children came into the room and simply started 'pressing her buttons'. She completely flew off the handle. I had been there. I had done that. She was running on empty and life kept coming at her. Her patience was less than nil.

At the time that I witnessed this interaction and slight break-down within my friend, I was so freshly out of those circumstances that I immediately recognized myself within my friend's reaction.

A person simply doesn't roll with the punches when they are dealing with more than they can already handle. It made me appreciate the serenity that I had fought for and found within my life. I was by no means perfect but I was so much better than I had been.

Raising children. Maintaining relationships. Worrying about finances. Taking care of a home, yard and vehicle. Working. Dealing with family dynamics. Health issues. Our lives are full of so many changing and evolving variables. When too many things start to feel like they are running out of control stress seeps into our lives. We tend to overreact to small stuff when the big stuff becomes too heavy.

I was not a patient young person. I have a litany of offences where I flipped out and got angry about something that was so inconsequential. Was there a back-story to these over reactions? Probably. But tell that to my young children. They will never know all that I was feeling when I wasn't one of those moms that are portrayed on TV and movies.

I have had far too many 'Mommy Dearest' moments ... and when I talk honestly to other parents that I know well, I get the feeling that I am alone. Hopefully I didn't tip the balance too badly when I was actively parenting my children so that these are the moments that they remember and focus on.

Why do I write this, this morning? Because I have changed.

I listen to the 'me' that I am when I tend my young Daycare Family. I cannot believe that I am the same person that I used to be. I have so much more patience than I have ever had before. I cannot stress enough that I am far from perfect. But I am so much better. Better is a step in the direction that I want to go so I will take it.

What is the difference?

I am older, wiser and realize that these moments pass. So I don't place quite as much emphasis on the little things. I am a great believer in not letting little things become bigger so I am still rather militant on my expectations within my young household. I don't let these little people run wild. But I'm not yelling at them all of the time either...

My after-hours life is calm. I don't have a lot of expectations within my world. My children are pretty much all of a self-maintaining age and stage in their lives. My parenting skills are not in great demand within my own little family, so I have more to give my young charges.

My life is very much in balance. I have a good, healthy mixture of work, family and friends. My home, yard and vehicle(s) are not overwhelming me. My finances are (finally!) in a spot where I can see the light. Good health surrounds my immediate family. I have no overwhelming concerns that are consuming a great deal of my energy.

The biggest stressor for me at this moment in time, is a lack of down-time or quiet in my day-to-day world. It adds up and I recognize when I'm becoming too overloaded. And (so far) I have been able to act on this and fix it before it becomes too big.

I just stole a weekend of quiet time. I found my quiet spot and revelled in it. I had many other things that probably should have taken priority but I'm glad that I was greedy and took time for myself. I needed it.

I could tell that it was the right thing to do when I caught myself looking at my little world from the 'outside, looking in' yesterday. There was a time when I couldn't have done what I am doing right now. I didn't have the patience for it. I'm so glad that I took a sabbatical from Daycare Part I when I did. I was overwhelmed and my patience levels were nil. But I am back. I'm better than I was before. I have not only found myself more patient ... but I seem to have fallen into a system of maintaining patience.

I have (finally) started to recognize what I need and when I need it, to keep myself, my emotions and my reactions in check. And I have (finally) started to take what I need to maintain my patience. For me? It is taking time for quiet reflection and solitude.

I cannot help but think of those whose answers are not so black and white. For young people who do not know what it is that they need to regain their sense of status quo. For addicts who reach for their drug of choice. For those who are mentally ill and require a delicate balance of medication to help their brain process life in a manner in which a lot of us simply come to expect ...

Maintaining patience sounds so easy. We are lucky when we have stumbled upon our magical equation that works for us. The equation changes daily. It isn't easy. It isn't one answer fits all.

I have no answers ... but I am beginning to recognize just how hard the simple things in life are for some people. I hope that they never stop seeking their own answers. I pray that they find their answers without turning to a cycle that could be destructive.

Maintaining balance is key. The rest falls into place easier when our foundation is firm. So much in life starts from that foundation...

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Happy Birthday Old Dog New Tricks"

I chose the name "Old Dog New Tricks" when I signed up to join an on-line daycare forum last year. I was pulling my hair out just a little bit and I thought that chatting with people who walked in my shoes would help me see things from a better perspective and perhaps learn some different/better coping mechanisms.

I never did have time to complete my thoughts and submit my question into the great big world of cyber space. Instead? I simply went with the flow of things and (sort of) figured things out as I went along.

Anyway (back to the title of this blog post), I woke up to a greeting from this forum entitled (you guessed it) "Happy Birthday Old Dog New Tricks". Those particular words all put together in one succinct phrase made me go "Hmmmm..."

Today is my birthday. I am not one who places great value on these non-events but the subject line of that particular email put a different spin on my outlook this morning. This year, I shall look back on the year that 'this old dog' just lived and see what 'new tricks' I've learned.

My Daycare World has come full circle. Only the circle is bigger and perhaps a little more three dimensional this second time around. Or perhaps it is 'me' that has grown.

Oh, I am still a far cry from the Mary Poppins figure that I see in my mind, as being the ultimate fun-loving care giver. The difference is that I forgive myself for not being able to do all, be all and encompass all aspects of perfection that I picture in my mind. I do the best with what I have ... and when I have a bad day, I stand up, brush myself off, examine how things could have been better, go to a quiet place in my mind (and in the house) and wake up the next morning determined to make it a better day. This is the best that I can do.

I have far more positive moments within my days than ever before. They may be crazy and hectic and loud and overwhelming at times. But I work with children. These moments are fleeting. I am learning to become more childlike in some ways. A child can cry like their heart is broken in a million pieces one moment. The next? They are back, living in the moment and joyous in whatever they are surrounded in. They don't hold grudges. I am learning from them. Bad moments don't last forever. The echoes of love, laughter and security reverberate long after the moment passes.

The words from a friend has known me for 'forever' ring through my mind. "You sound happy". We were talking to each other in the midst of a particularly trying day. My Daycare Day was challenging me but I was not defeated. In the midst of that very moment, she heard the difference in my voice. I am happy in this little world I have created for myself and my young charges. I am happy.

Last week is a week that may have taken me down in a different time and place. Not because of the week, but because I would have been looking too far ahead and thinking "I can't do this for forever". The reality of life is that 'forever' is unknown to the wisest of men. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring so I will not willingly bring 'forever' into my day (most especially when I'm having a tough one). I simply must get through the day. I admit that at this very moment in time, I have a bit of a heavy load. But I trust that one of three things will happen. I will get stronger as I adapt to the added weight. Or I will get wiser and find a way to lessen my load. Or 'life' will happen and the choice will be taken out of my hands and things will simply work out. They always do. Always.

The motto of this past year of mine would be the phrase from "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" - Everything will be all right in the end ... if it's not all right, then it's not yet the end.

In the midst of the worst of times, it is hard to hold onto and believe this little morsel of wisdom. But from the lessons that life has handed out to me, I have found this to be true.

I have had better years. I have had worse years. But I don't know if I can say that I have had a year where I have felt the serenity and trust that comes from simply believing that so many things in my life are completely out of my control. If I do the best with what I have... If I live a life which is enveloped in love, laughter and security.. If I do these two simple things and trust that all will work out in the end ... I am happy.

This old dog is learning some new tricks. The best trick of all is truly trust that it will all work out in the end.

Most things don’t work out as expected, but what happens instead often turns out to be the good stuff.” - another nugget from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This ... Is What a Cat Day Looks Like

I am taking a station break from Cat Day Morning #2, to illustrate what Cat Day #1 looked (and felt) like:

Our Junior Cat looks on and supervises my 'Cat Day' ... DVD player (watching a Gilmore Girls episode of course)+ coffee + one black cat = Serenity
Computer at the ready + writing pad + (unseen by the camera's eye) Pringles + Twizzlers + (of course) an episode of the Gilmore Girls = Over the Moon
Junior Cat takes a more hands-off approach at supervising my cat day (or perhaps he is demonstrating that I should stretch out and really relax)
This ... is a cat at his finest. Junior Cat has taken it upon himself to snuggle up in the privacy and seclusion of my bedroom (and he is taking a lesson from me - it looks like he can't fall asleep without the background of the TV either)
Today is a new day. I have been enjoying the luxury of another Cat Morning. There isn't too much to write about as I live the life-of-a-cat but I will try to be more introspective today and see what I come up with tomorrow.

In the mean time, My Youngest and I have a plan:
  1. He will back Car #1 out of the driveway and park it on the street.
  2. He will assist me in tightening the bolts on Car #2's newly fixed tire.
  3. We will both look at the puzzle which is: how to fit the jack and tire iron back into the trunk in a manner that will allow us to re-fasten the 'floor' of the trunk.
  4. He will drive us down town and park the car ...
  5. ... so that we can go and see the new 'Thor' movie.
Whew! It's going to be a busy day. I hope that I am up to it. And the best part is ... that there is still one more day of nothing-in-particular on the agenda.

I'm loving this Cat's Life!

Happy Sunday!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

It Feels Like a 'Cat Day'

Ahhhh ... it has been a glorious morning. I woke with my alarm (yes, it is still set for 5:00 a.m.) and I've been revelling in the quiet.

The house is just now starting to stir and I am tucked away in my 'far off' corner in the house. The door is ajar so the cats can come and go as they please and I hear activity in the distance. But I feel so quiet inside.

I just took a station break from this post and invited some friends over for supper. Details are pending but I think that there is a good chance that this could be a 'go'. They are friends that fill me up. Friends that replenish my soul. I believe it is a friendship where this feeling is reciprocal. It is worth pulling myself out of a 'cat day' for such an uplifting visit.

I have simply gone through the paces of my morning. Very slowly. Very quietly. Soaking up the moments. No matter where the day goes from here, I have had 'my morning'. I haven't had a morning like this in so long ...

A morning where I don't have to run out the door. A morning where my 'work' is waiting for me on my doorstep. A morning where I don't have to be any place, do anything or be anyone to anybody. It is simply a morning where I am accountable only to myself.

One tends to take moments like this for granted, when they happen on a regular basis. I have wasted many a day, simply spinning my wheels and doing nothing of importance or value on such a day. But is that time really wasted? Or is that time of dormancy a time when seeds are planted that will grow another day ...

I tend to believe that moments such as these are a requirement in healthy living. A time to recharge your energy supply is vital. In the hecticness of today's world there seems to be less and less recharging. And more and more running until you are on empty.

Take time to replenish your internal reserves when the opportunity arises. A little bit every day goes a long way. But every now and then? Take a lesson from a cat. Laze in a sunbeam, rest, relax and stretch. Doze in and out of consciousness, do what nurtures your soul and see how you feel at the end of it all.

I'm starting out the day with a purr. By the day's end? I just may "Roar" ...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Wish List For the Weekend

A long weekend is looming and as of this moment in time ... I have committed myself to absolutely nothing. And it feels great.

The weekend is an empty slate and I'm loving this feeling of freedom as I add and erase the possibilities of what this weekend could bring.

My wish list (in no particular order, but perhaps dwelling a little heavily on me-time):
  • Have a 'cat day'. A day where I find a sun beam, a book, a good movie and a cup of coffee. A day to doze in and out of consciousness. A day to grab a blanket and pull my head under the covers from time to time.
  • Indulge myself in an out-of-home-experience that does not involve picking up milk, groceries, getting gas, changing oil or picking up a shovel. I would love to follow where ever the road takes me and simply do little things that make me happy. Find a coffee companion. See a movie on a whim. Just a day to follow where the wind blows.
  • Tend to some minor maintenance and organization and cleaning issues that are staring me down every single day. The two-way tape that is holding down the mats at the front door is lifting. The spare bedroom is accumulating clutter and the bed has become my newest storage area. This house needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom. And I have no idea where to start. Maybe I'll start with a 'cat day' ...
  • Meet up with some friends. There never seems to be time. We have been talking about doing something all summer. Then the summer got busy. So we said "September ...". But September passed by in a blur. October came and went. Now we are saying "This weekend". It will happen. And it will be good. Because we have waited so long for this. Waited for a time when we have the time to savor a relaxing and fun meeting of the minds.
  • Take my Youngest Son to a movie. Let him drive us there and back. Do whatever the day allows us to do. Act as though we have all the time in the world ...
  • Absorb the quiet of the morning and go where ever my fingers take me. I am so very tired of writing like I have a deadline. Which I do. Because whatever doesn't get written before 7:30 a.m., tends not to be written at all. I simply want to see where a relaxed morning will take me. The sad part is ... I think that it is going to take me right into the 'cat day' that I so long to have.
No. I don't see 'work' anywhere on this list. I should work one day. She needs me to work a minimum of one day. I cannot offer more than a day. But I should work one day out of three. One day of work out of an entire long weekend equals two days off. A weekend. I haven't had a weekend off since Thanksgiving ...

I don't want to start a list because once I start, I will feel limited as to what I can actually accomplish. I need to feel like this weekend is open to all possibilities. So I am going to start with 'nothing' and see where it takes me.

Happy Friday! It feels very good to actually anticipate a weekend. I'm off to enjoy this anticipation mode for as long as it lasts ...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Quiet Presence

I rolled over in the night and my foot brushed lightly upon the cat who was sleeping (unbeknownst to me) at the foot of my bed.

Our Junior Cat weighs in at over twelve pounds and looks like a big, black panther as he makes his way through our home. What amazes me about this big hulk of a cat, is that he can jump up on something and land as lightly as a feather.

He was too frightened and skittish to jump up on my bed for the first many months that he lived with us. His comfort zone was in my Youngest Son's room and he was very at home within the comfort of that room. On the bed, under the bed, on the couch, in the 'cat house' My Son made out of cardboard boxes. My Youngest Son's room is like a 'home free' zone to our Junior Cat. It is his haven.

Lately, Junior Cat has been gracing me with his presence in the wee hours of the morning. I have turned on the TV to lull me back to sleep and spotted the silhouette of our big, black kitty at the foot of my bed. If he knows I'm awake, he comes up to me and likes it if I pet him. He never snuggles. His relationship is very stand-offish and he likes to be the one who make all the moves.

More recently, I have woke up to find Junior Cat right beside my head, waiting for me to wake up. He isn't a purring sort of cat but often his purrs (at least for me) come early in the morning during those first waking moments. It is as if his guard is down and his purr sneaks out. It is a special time, so I lay there and soak it up when I can.

I think that My Youngest is Junior Cat's chosen person. But he likes me too. He really does. So when I find him 'snuggled' in bed with me (I've never seen a cat that can sleep soundly so close to the edge of a piece of furniture), it makes my heart happy.

Last night, in the middle of the night ... I felt his soft coat of fur as my foot grazed over him. He is a quiet presence but it fills me up inside.

It makes me think of the sense of comfort that I feel when no one else is around. Like quiet presence of our little panther cat who can make such gentle landings that you have no idea he is around ... I feel safe and protected in this little world of mine. It is a happy place to be.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Am So Over You, Make Up!

As the day wore long yesterday, I quietly bemoaned the before-I-can-go-to-bed list of must-do-items still on my plate.

"Wash my face" topped the list. My mom laughed at me during some late-night conversation (it must have been getting close to 8:00 p.m.) when I sighed with a dramatic flair of exhaustion, "And I still have to wash my face!"

Long ago, in a faraway land I read a story about a man and a wife. The wife said to her husband, "I am going to bed." She then proceeded to make lunches, pick up the scattered items that littered the way to her destination, said good-night to the kids, talked with them, remembered to write something down on her list, watered the plants, grabbed what she needed to remember to take out the door with her in the morning. Then ... she washed her face, applied her night cream, brushed her teeth, cleaned the bathroom behind her and as she finally made her way to her room, she pulled out what she was going to wear the next day and got ready for bed, checked the alarm (and I'm sure that I missed out at least a dozen other things she may have done). And ... she went to bed. A short while later, her husband stood up and exclaimed to no one in particular, "I am going to bed". And he did.

Ever since I read that all-knowing piece of literature, I have strived to just be a man and simply "go to bed" at the end of my day.

This is harder than it appears. Because every single thing 'that wife' did must still be done at some point in the day. So I strive (all day) to make my going-to-bed-hours as simple as possible. I simply cannot wait for the social part of my day to end so that I can wash off my make up, brush my teeth and do whatever pre-bedtime maintenance is required. I call it 'getting my head ready for bed'.

Last night, my last daycare charge was not picked up until 7:00 p.m. ('thanks' for the [lack of] phone call, Mom). I needed milk. I told My Youngest we could go out for a drive (in an abandoned parking lot - we have just received our first official snow of the season). We were standing in line to pay for our 'milk'. My comment to the cashier (upon seeing the grand total of my cart) was "Gee! Milk has gotten expensive! I came here to buy milk and it cost $114.29!!". Obviously I should buy my milk somewhere cheaper. But those stores don't come with a large portion of their parking lot vacant, so a learner driver can practise driving in the snow.

Eventually we got home. It took two of us three trips (it would have been two, except we 'had' to stop and buy supper. Who can cook a meal at that ungodly hour??) to unload the 'milk' from the car.

It was after 8:00 and I started thinking "... and I still have to get my head ready for bed.....". Then I recalled the events of my morning. I had a shower. I fussed with my hair. I got dressed. I cleaned cat litter. I did a myriad of pre-daycare-opening preparation activities. But I had no recollection of putting on make up that very morning. I (eventually) looked in the mirror. Sure enough. I had forgotten to put on any eye and cheek enhancing colors that particular morning. And people still saw me. In fact when I told this exciting fact (it meant that I didn't have to wash that make up off at the end of the night) to my Youngest Son, he told me "You don't look any different without make up". He continued "Some people put on more make up than they should. Others put it on and you can't even tell. Either way, it is a waste of money." And time, I silently added.

I could use that extra five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night to do other much more important things. Like sleep. Or write. Or find enough bobby pins to tame down my unruly hair (my three-month old hair cut has finally grown out to the stage where it looks like I have just gotten a brand new hair cut so I am not getting it cut again!).

I take care of children who see me in ways that take much more primping than make up. They see me through eyes of innocence. If I am patient, kind and nurturing I am beautiful in their eyes. And isn't that all that really matters in the end? If you treat the world with kindness, the world tends to do its best to reciprocate the favor. And at the end of it all, you say "What a beautiful day!"

Skip the make up and apply a dose of kindness to your day. Then sit back and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pieces of Random

This extra half hour in the morning is intoxicating. Yesterday I could only manage to get up fifteen minutes earlier than my regular time. Today I was raring to go at 5 a.m.

The next time that I looked at the clock, it was 5:35. I had fed and watered the cats and cleaned cat litter. I had pulled out Tuesday Lunch Money for My Youngest (before he had to ask for it). I thought that I had done so much more. But the point is ... normally I am not even out of bed by that time. And I had already knocked a few items off the list of I-wonder-when-I-will-fit-this-in, into my day.

My mind was racing. What will I write about this morning (with this glorious extra half hour)? My new Daycare World? The fact that I should have money left over at the end of the bills for the first time since I restarted my daycare career ... worked for the school board ... worked as a bookkeeper ...? No! None of the above. This is the first time that I have been in the black since I went to school (no ... I was living off of a student loan back then). Okay, I've got it I haven't had money left over at the end of the bills since I last ran my daycare! I'm back, people. I am so back!

I talked with a friend in the aftermath of the two minutes synchronized napping period that happened here yesterday afternoon. I do not exaggerate. These are two of the text messages that I sent to the friend who called me - "2:10 and everyone is sleeping!!" (my last straggler had just closed her eyes); followed by "2:12 ... and Lucas is crying!" My friend called me at 2:16. Do you know what this friend told me after we chatted for a while (and I had two children who were already up from their naps)? "You sound so calm ... so happy". I simply replied, "I am ..."

This same friend asked me what I did to pass my time during the day. She also runs a daycare from her home and knows of the tedium that can happen within a career of child minding. A person must exercise their over-5-year-old skills regularly ... so she knits. She asked what I did. My answer (yesterday) was, "Well? I finally sat down and had lunch at 2:00". After Day #1 with my full-house of four-year-olds and under, I didn't have a spare moment (just wait a minute ... I did ... and I started my first chapter of our new up and coming Daycare A B C book ... I wrote the chapter entitled "A").

My nappers were all gradually waking up when my Second Son poked his head into the living room, flaunting a ham. He suggested that he would share it with us at supper time if perhaps I could make some scalloped potatoes. He obviously hadn't spent the day in my shoes. I could no sooner take the time to peel potatoes, onions and mix up a white sauce, than I could write the Great Canadian Novel in the midst of the aftermath of nap time. It was 5:35 when I wandered into the kitchen and said that I could possibly start making those scalloped potatoes now. Needless to say, My Youngest and I had a hamless supper.

More news on yesterday's front - our Senior Cat seems to be holding his own with his steroid regimen. He is not the frisky cat that he was before he got pneumonia but he is stabilizing. His fur is soft & shiny and he has stopped shedding. But I think that has something to do with ingesting 'gold nuggets' of "Medi Cal Gastro Intestinal" special cat food that our cats are feasting on, in an attempt to alleviate our Junior Cat's chronic diarrhea. They are eating this food like it is candy and they are both looking black and shiny and beautiful. I hope their 'insides' are looking as beautiful, happy and healthy as their 'outsides'. The long term cost is going to be as comparable as the gold wafer that my brother just bought for his daughter's 21st birthday ...

My time is up and the only other thing I can think that I was going to write about is the marvels of aging. There are few surprises for me in this area. My sisters are nine and eleven  years older than I am and I have been privy to many up and coming events because they tell me all about it before it happens to me. There have only been a few surprises - the receding hairline (apparently my brother and I are the only ones suffering this side effect of aging). And I have discovered one more thing. Those nasty black chin hairs that have the ability to grow to half an inch before you notice them??? They eventually turn gray (and have the ability to grow even longer). You know those pictures of people scratching their chin in an expression of earnest concentration? They are not thinking of anything besides "I wonder if I have any chin hairs today ..."

And on that note, I bid you adieu. Happy Tuesday ... may it be a hairless chin day for you all!!

Monday, November 4, 2013


Add one part guilt to an already overloaded equation of too much work and not enough play in my day and I was a small bit of a hot mess.

I felt like a petulant child as I drove to work yesterday morning. I didn't want to go. I needed to stay home. I should spend some time taking My Youngest out driving. Our Senior Cat needs to spend a 'cat day' with me. I. Need. To. Breathe.

So I did one thing.

I parked my car outside the house of my employer. And I made a call. I called My Youngest's father to see if he could take Our Son out driving. Please. I whined. I wanted to cry. But I didn't. I simply asked for help.

Then I worked. And it was good.

I came home with one of those pre-made suppers from the grocery store. A small roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and Caesar salad. I moaned and belly ached (quietly) as I put our meal together. I got pots, pans and dishes dirty. It (felt like) it took forever to assemble our pre-made meal. Finally, finally it was ready.

My Son didn't like the smell of the pre-made mashed potatoes. "Put gravy on them. Gravy can save anything", I insisted. He didn't. He sprinkled a small amount of chicken over his Caesar salad and was happy.

I could have picked up McDonald's, had an instant, on-the-spot meal and thrown away all of the containers for the price of this 'luxurious' meal that I had assembled. All in the name of guilt. Granted, I have enough left overs to feed my daycare crowd lunch today. I also have chicken broth so I can make My Son's favorite meal - home made chicken soup. I couldn't have gotten that much mileage out of a McDonald's meal.

My Son is fifteen years old. He needs next to nothing from me (and that is about exactly what he has been getting). He does enjoy the odd 'home cooked' supper now and again (and that is about exactly all I have been providing for him over the course of my three-working-weekends). He simply needs me to take him out driving.

Last night I told him that I could cancel my blood donation appointment tonight so that we could go driving before his next driving lesson tomorrow. He seemed good with that. I think that is our plan. I am skipping out of a blood donation (I can easily rebook that), in favor of doing One Small Thing for My Son.

I had a dream this morning ...

My son and I were sitting in the living room savoring the moment (we were probably watching our cats ... my dream memory is very hazy on this point). All I know is that we were both absolutely, completely and totally in our glory. I said, "Let's skip today - you can skip school. I will call in sick. Let's just skip out on everything today."

It felt beyond marvellous. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of doing the right thing. My Son is almost grown and needs so very little from me. But we have our moments. And we were going to revel in them.

Then I woke up. Ahhh ... the idea of 'skipping school' with My Son still felt unimaginably wonderful.

So yes, I will reschedule my appointment to donate blood. I will go out driving with My Son. After we eat home made chicken soup. I will close my eyes and trust My Son's new driving skills. His head knows the mechanics of what he must do behind the wheel. He simply needs to practise. I need to relax and enjoy the moment.

I am going to appease my guilt tonight. And it will be good.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

If It's Not Done Early ... It is Not Done at All

If it doesn't get written done by 7:30 a.m., there is a pretty good chance that it is not going to get written done at all. This is the story of my life.

Things have been headed this way for a while. A week full of  Daycare Days, followed by weekend employment with writing assignments tossed in for good measure equals a lack of productive time within my life as I know it.

Life has become far too busy. I have worked three weekends in a row. I did take one entire day for myself, but I managed to turn a fun-filled day into a work day. I left the house at 8 a.m. and didn't return until 5:30. Trust me to turn fun into work...

I wake up Friday mornings with a pit in my stomach. Oh no. The weekend. Friday morning, I tried to write about something that was not of the oh-no-it-is-Friday-again variety. But I ran out of time. I couldn't get the words written before my revolving door opened for the day. I took a minute and wrote down what I could when the morning got quiet but I didn't have time to finish my thought and post it. It didn't get done by 7:30 ... so it didn't get done.

I started this post yesterday morning. Then I started emailing and texting and talking in the middle of my second paragraph and the next thing I knew, I had to run out the door to get to work. I got home and barely got through supper when the evening's events took over. Then I slept.

I resumed this post this morning. I added an excessive amount of words that were unnecessary and then wrote an email instead of editing this down to size.

I have reset my alarm for 5:00 a.m. ... maybe an extra half hour in the morning will help. But what I really long for, is a leisurely weekend morning.

I miss my weekends. I really, really do.

I am grateful for all of the avenues of employment that have opened up for me. But life is so much more than work. I know that I need to earn a living. But what I really long for is a life.

In the mean time, I have my mornings. I will have to make the most out of those precious hours and do as much as I can before 7:30 a.m. ... because if it isn't done by that time, it probably won't get done.

Sigh. I am off to work. Again.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Listening with My Heart

I take care of two little two-year-old girls. I've tended one of them since she was a year old and not speaking at all. The other has just been here a few months and is just now becoming more comfortable and more vocal within our little daycare environment.

It is fun to listen to these little girls chat amongst themselves. Part body language and demonstrative; another part verbal and inflection. Every day I understand more and more. There are some things that are cuter than others ... but the ability to communicate relieves some of their frustration (and sometimes creates more when they know that I know what they want and the answer is still 'No').

Enter our new four-year-old girl. She has Down Syndrome and she is fitting into our family like we have been waiting for her all along. She is sweet, loving and is very demonstrative. She communicates ever so clearly ... but she simply doesn't speak in words that we recognize.

The first day was so easy. It was just her and my two-year-old girls. They communicated amongst themselves and our New Girl found a favorite within the group and lavished her with hugs and affection.

The second day was full. Our three-year-old returned after a two week absence and our new one-year-old spent the entire day as his final trial run before his mom goes back to work next week. My three regulars were so happy to be back together that they noticed little beyond their own little circle. Everyone went about their day in their regular fashion and the new ones coasted along with ease.

The third day? It was rough. We were down to 'four'. In my prior experience, even numbers work out better than odd. But My little New Girl hasn't found her place within the group yet.

The three-year-old boy hasn't figured out how to play with our New Girl. This isn't much different than when our second two-year-old started coming here a few months ago. It almost seemed like he ignored the new addition to our family until he figured out who she was and how she played. They are now like two peas in a pod.

It is too early in the game to say if the language barrier is going to make a difference as to how our New Girl finds her spot in among our little family. Kids are so innocent and accept everyone they meet at face value. I keep thinking that is exactly what is going to happen here. But I can't help but wonder if the communication barrier is going to make a difference.

She is very good at communicating what she wants. But the world is filled with situations that go much further than wanting something to eat, inviting someone to play or showing someone what you want them to do. Those are the scenarios that concern me - the times when someone is crying and no one has the ability to communicate what happened. And that is only the beginning.

My daycare day is filled with a house full of little people developing their new language skills. It is interesting, challenging and fun all at the same time. It is intriguing to watch and listen to the development of their vocabulary and how they put things all together. It is frustrating when they know what they are trying to say and I don't understand. It is delightful when their simple language puts a new spin on our tired old language. Their language skills are growing in leaps and bounds.

But what of my little four-year-old that is not yet verbal? She reminds me so much of my two-year-olds in so many ways. She is a tiny girl and one would never guess that she is as old as she is. Her inability to talk adds to the illusion that she is younger than she looks.

I'm just winging this so far. I talk to her the same I talk to any age of child. I know her comprehension is far more complex than her vocabulary so I don't want my manner to be demeaning to her. I don't want her to feel lost in this crowd. I am not sure how to try and enhance her ability to communicate but I am wondering if the kids will intuitively find ways to communicate with her easily.

The progression of our communications skills is yet another one of those little things that we take for granted when all goes as we expect. I am eager to watch the development of friendships and communication within my young daycare family.

Verbal expression is just one means that we have to communicate. As I sit back and watch our cats interact with each other, not a word needs to be said to understand what they are 'saying'. When all is good in their world, that is enough. But when its not ... a few words of understanding go a long way.

I must listen with my eyes and my heart to hear what this little girl has to say. That is a good motto to live by no matter who you are trying to hear.