A Week of Lessons Learned

Happy Friday! Today is my sister’s very favourite day of the whole week and if you are Monday to Friday worker it’s probably your favourite, too! 

I’m the type of person that likes to learn from every experience. Positive or not-so-much there are lessons to be learned in everything from huge life events to daily living. These  lessons can be life-altering or simply small realizations but they are important. Since I have this forum and am trying to drown out the sound of Monkey calling me when he should be sleeping, I thought I would reflect on the last week and summarize what I learned, so here it goes:
1. I am so not 22 years old. I’m not that far from it (29) but learned this past week that those 6 years make a really big difference. I’m sure people who are six years older than I am are laughing and thinking the same thing of me and that’s ok, you are welcome to write your own blog about that. As usual, this one is about me 😛
2. I HATE city driving. No…correction….I hate city drivers. I didn’t realize that some car models in bigger cities do not come with the option to indicate when changing lanes. Fascinating.
3. Roundabouts/traffic circles are good only in theory.
4. Turns out I really prefer the Tim Horton’s overly sweet cappuccinos. It seems real cappuccinos are actually just creamy really strong coffee and the other half of the cup is frothy milk which disappears in the first 9 seconds leaving you with just half a cup of strong coffee for $4.50.
5. No matter how much I love my kid, MAMA NEEDS HIM TO TAKE A NAP! You’re only TWO for crying out loud. (I can now hear him doing his own rendition of “Ring around the rosie” with his face pressed up against the inside of his bedroom door. I’ll be really screwed when he is tall enough to reach and turn the doorknob handle. Silver lining for having a short kid, I guess…???)
6. No matter how frustrated I am with the aforementioned nap refusal, it is hard to keep my game face on when I tell Monkey, “Ok you don’t have to sleep but Mommy needs a rest. I’ll just sleep beside you so you need to stay still and quiet so I can sleep” and he gives me his stuffies and covers me with his blanket. (I also think it’s hilarious that I thought that might ACTUALLY word. Psh.)
7. The cuteness in #6 fades quickly when he then thinks I am actually asleep and therefore assumes he can play at will and I can’t see what he’s doing.
8. You do not get QV when you use a Customer Service voucher. If you aren’t an Arbonner that will make absolutely zero sense to you but it is a good lesson I learned this week so it made the list.
9. There is NOTHING to do in this town on weekends. I learned that a year and a half ago but it seems I re-learn that every time the weekend approaches and we look at each other and say, “So what are we going to do this weekend?” as if the world is our oyster when really our world is just a microscopic one-celled sea anemone. 
10. A three-fire-truck house fire is very exciting for a 2 year old neighbour to see but is terrifying for homeowners and neighbours.
Ok, 10 is enough because (a) that’s all I can think of, (b) I think a list with 10 is lovely as it is, and (c) I’m not sure how much longer I can tune out, “Mooooommmmmmyyyyyyyyy……….MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYYY” without losing my mind.
I hope your week ahead is full of lessons! Feel free to add yours from this past week in the comments section below (which I feel is highly underused, by the way, dear readers!).
Have a great weekend
🙂 Mel
a.k.a. Moooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyy

Mommy’s Law

Move aside, Murphy, it’s Mommy’s Law now!

You know Murphy’s Law, right? The one where things are bound to happen when you least want them to. When it feels like the universe is working against you. When you wear a dress for Kindergarten graduation and it absolutely pisses down with rain on your after school bus supervision. You remember Murphy.

Well if you’re new to the game of Motherhood, there’s a new law in town. Mommy’s Law. If you are a parent you will know this law well. Here are some examples of Mommy’s Law in this house:

1. If you put on a fresh cloth diaper and it needs to last a few hours because the rest are in the laundry, your kid will absolutely have a massive, messy dump rendering the outer shell un-re-usable and leaving you with no choice but to dig out the stash of *shudder* disposables.

2. If you are having an awesome hair day, your kid will definitely put peanut butter in it or rake his tiny, adorable fingers through it leaving you looking like all that’s left to do is stick on some bellbottoms and stick a huge pick comb in your new ‘fro.

3. If you are looking forward to nap time all morning because you are exhausted and need that little break to have a second (or more) coffee, put your feet up, or heaven forbid, close your own eyes for a few minutes, that will be the day your sweet, sweet, child decides that he is far too old for naps and stages a grumpy protest that leaves you both in the loveliest of moods for the rest of the day.

4. If you have just Green Machined your microsuede couches and are satisfied that they are finally at an appealing appearance again, your lovely tot will say the words “Mommy, I peed! I peed on couch!” and then, exactly 12 minutes later, “Mommy, I peed on couch! Again I peed on couch!”. *Sigh*.

5. Any time – ANY time – you pat yourself on the back for being such a superior parent and finally getting that little year-long sleep debacle all straightened out and are feeling just so smug about the hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep you are getting, your child will without a doubt encounter a sleep regression. A huge one.

6. If it is laundry day and you are wearing the very, very last pair of underwear in your drawer, your potty training monkey WILL pee all over your lap leaving you digging through your drawers to find your pre-baby underwear that is so uncomfortable you may as well just wrap dental floss around your waist.

The list is quite long, of course. But as with anything, someone else’s misfortunate is far more entertaining than my own.

So I ask you (and I want a LOT of responses this time!!), what are some examples of Mommy’s Law in your house?!

Take care and talk soon!

Love Mel

A Mommy Moment

My walking, talking, laughing, steamed-milk-drinking little boy

I just put Monkey down for his nap. As I closed the door behind me, I couldn’t help but reflect on how different things are now. How wonderful, how peaceful, how amazing. This thought has come through my mind each evening, too, as I fill out my daily journal that I keep for Monkey. I started it last September so I am now at the point where I get to read last year’s entry for the same date when I fill out the current day’s. It’s amazing the growth he has had in one year. One year, to you or I, is nearly nothing. We  may have lost or gained a few pounds, maybe did something different with our hair, but most of the time there isn’t anything huge that happens in the span of a year. A year ago from yesterday, Monkey signed his first sign, “milk”, for my Mom when she tried to put him down for a nap during on of their visits. Now, a year later, he says, “I likes more milk, please, Mommy!”. Quite the difference!

A friend, Miss M, posted someone’s blog on her Facebook the other day. The author wrote about how you don’t know a particular phase or activity is over until it’s been a while since you’ve done it and you realize you’re all done. You don’t know the last time you will rock him to sleep until you don’t do it anymore. And because you didn’t know it was going to be the last time, you didn’t savour it. Didn’t take the time to be fully present and stare at his little face, his long eyelashes, instead of staring blankly ahead planning the week’s menu and grocery list. We can’t help it, we’re human, but that blog plus my evening journal have put things into perspective and I have promised myself that I will at least try to be more present during all the moments we spend together.

I love, love, love being a Mommy. Monkey is the best thing I have ever done and my most proud ongoing project. I never knew you could love any creature as much as I love him. I think I may border on obsession.

I adored the baby phase. The coos, the chub, the rolling over, the big toothless smiles, the breastfeeding, the baby wearing, the bucket car seat, the first foods….all of it. That said, I am in constant awe as I watch the developing child in front of me, and each day I am more star struck than I was the day before. My little cooing, chubby, rolling, toothless, nursing baby is now a laughing, tiny, running, grinning boy who loves pasta and eats pancakes every single day (“Make pankinks, Mommy? More pankinks? I help!”). He. Is. Incredible.

As you know, we have been to hell and back with Monkey’s sleep. He used to be HORRIBLE at sleeping. When we would FINALLY get him asleep in his crib it could be a few short hours to a few nano seconds before he was awake again. He was up a gazillion times every single night, almost always ended up in our bed, and naps almost never lasted more than exactly 30 minutes. Now, we do our little routine, single Twinkle, Twinkle, then I carry him over to his crib and whisper, “Goodnight, I love you” and kiss him twice on the left cheek. He whispers, “I love you” back to me as I lay him down, cover him up, and leave the room.

That’s.
It.

Nighttime, naptime, doesn’t matter, it goes the same. At night he may wake up once or twice before we go to bed, needing a quick little snuggle. Usually because he’s had a dream or he’s hot or cold. Naps are typically an hour and a half to two hours long.

O.M.G. How lucky am I?

As much as I miss the baby stage, I adore this stage. He is a real person, a tiny kid, with likes, dislikes, a massive vocabulary, a love of snuggling, and the best sense of humour.

From the moment I announced I was pregnant, people have said, “It goes by so fast”. I knew they must be right, since friends, family, and strangers alike all gave me this same advice, with a twinkle of knowledge and a tear of sadness in their eyes. But as we round the corner to Monkey’s second birthday, I know that it won’t be long before I’m telling others the same thing.

So every single day, from the moment it starts at 6am til the time Monkey’s day ends at 6:30pm, I am conscious of my little man. I try to devote myself to him when we are together, I try to acknowledge his feelings instead of brushing off his moods and preferences. I try to involve him in what I’m doing and I try to just love the pants right off him (when he’s wearing some) the very best that I can.

I hope you have a similar perspective. Don’t rush time away because time doesn’t need your help. Take a second to stand back and be fully present. The grocery list can wait. You can finish cleaning the toilet later. Enjoy every second because if you’re anything like me, you are all to aware that this stage, too, will soon be over, and although I look forward to see what the future holds and to see what kind of school-age child, teenager, and adult Monkey will grow into, I can wait a little longer.

Go snuggle your kid.
Love Mel 🙂

AYFKM?

You are invited!!!

What: Mel’s Pity Party
Who: Anyone who can relate
Who NOT: Anyone who tells me “I chose this life” or any variation thereof or anyone who tells me “Be patient” or “Hang in there, kiddo” or any other similar bullcrap
Where: Right here
When: Right now
What to bring? A huge freakin’ bottle of wine and a good, strong shoulder.

First of all, I’ll let you mull the title over for a second, and maybe it will come to you by the time you’re done reading this blog.

Allow me to preface this one by reminding everyone under the sun that I love Hubby to the ends of the earth and will do anything and go anywhere for him.

But sometimes, on some days, I see how easy it would be for a military marriage to fall apart. I see how if you didn’t love each other as much as Hubby and I love each other, I see how one might just throw in the towel.

Because sometimes it really sucks.
And I am one of the lucky ones. My hubby and I sleep under the same roof, he’s never been overseas, and much of the time his job is just fine and allows us a fairly comfortable family life.

But right now, as I sit here alone on Thanksgiving weekend, trying to think of anything but my whole family getting together in Hometown without me to celebrate not only Thanksgiving but also Big Brother’s birthday, I’m not really very pleased. Ask Hubby, who was lucky enough to run home for lunch today and was both greeted and farewelled with what probably wasn’t my best attempt at covering up how pissed off I am.

What’s going on, you wonder? Well here in Smalltown there is a huge exercise going on where thousands of troops come in to train. Hubby is part of the Training Centre that prepares, plans, and oversees all of this so his longer hours and unpredictable schedule just became even longer and more unpredictable. He will work 7 days a week for the next 4 weeks, a minimum of 7am-7pm shifts. The only time he will see Monkey is from 5:45am-6:45 am (this is one of those times we are actually glad Monkey wakes up so early) and the only time he will see me is from whenever he comes home until about 9:30 when I go to bed because I’m so friggen’ drained from doing it alone all day.
As much as I am grateful to at least see him every day (even if it’s only for an hour or two), the unpredictability drives me IN-FRIGGEN-SANE because I can’t count on him for anything because he never knows whether he’ll actually be home or not. He says, “I’ll be home by 7:30”, to which I reply, “Okay, so what time can I actually expect you?” and when he comes in at 9 I’m equally as annoyed but not actually surprised.

What’s most frustrating is that the non-military spouse’s life has to STOP when these big things happen. Monkey is not great with a babysitter (yes I know he will have to get used to that at some point but so help me if you mention that to me now…) therefore leaving him with someone else while he’s also getting used to Daddy hardly being home would not go over well. This means I have to leave work promptly to pick him up from daycare, I have to cancel any and all evening business meetings, I have to do all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the picking up of dog food because someone *ahem* forgot to tell me there wasn’t even a crumb left in the dog food bag. I have to be flexible and giving and give up things that are important to me because Hubby’s job comes first 1 million per cent of the time.

Well, military: when do I COME FIRST?!

And I’m not even going to pretend that this is just about me. This is about every spouse I know. This is about us picking up and moving across the effing country because we were posted. We leave our friends, our families, our jobs, everything. We are told one thing about the new position when really it couldn’t be more different (Whoever said Smalltown was a Monday to Friday 9-5 job that didn’t involved any extras or travel should be fired immediately, and then given a horrible, horrible case of back acne). We get here, to Smalltown, where we don’t know a soul, then our husbands are sent here, there and everywhere. We finally get a good job, a GREAT job, but then have to miss all the important extras because somehow they always coincide with the military’s busy times and as we already established, that comes first 1 million per cent of the time.

I can’t even muster up the good humour to be sarcastic (which I’m usually so good at) because I’m just that annoyed.

I think if this didn’t happen to be Thanksgiving it wouldn’t be quite so bad.

Is this the worst party you’ve ever been invited to, or what?!

I don’t even think I have a POINT to this blog which annoys me further. But I think sometimes when you have a huge, annoying problem with absolutely no chance of finding a solution, the only thing that helps even a tiny bit is complaining.

I’m not sure I feel much better at the moment….maybe your stories of commiseration will do the trick?? Please share!!

So thanks for coming to my Pity Party.
But couldn’t you have found a bigger bottle of wine?

Cheers
Mel

Butterflies and Tears

Almost exactly one month before I became pregnant with Monkey, my Grandma passed away. Monkey will turn 2 at Christmas time so it’s been a little while.

I loved my Grandma more than I could ever say. She was loving, compassionate, and kind. She was the kind of person who would call to tell my Mom about the jackpot she won at Seniors’ Bingo the night before and all the ways she might spend her $7.25.  She smiled often and shamelessly shed tears when she saw something beautiful or when someone did something thoughtful for her.

The grief I felt immediately after she died was overwhelming. I remember my Godmother, Aunt K, telling me that although this initial grief would be difficult, the hard part would be years down the road when simple things, surprising things, would bring forth her memory and it would be like re-living the loss all over again.

I didn’t realize just how true those words would be.

I didn’t realize how now, two and a half years later, I wouldn’t really feel any more at peace with the loss than I did two and a half months after it happened.

But this grief that I feel is a funny thing because it isn’t all bad. That might seem like a contradiction of terms but it’s true. There are moments when I’ll see a butterfly that seems out of place, or a bluejay that gets surprisingly close, when I think – no, I am certain, that these are signs directly from Grandma. I don’t know how I know this, but I know it with the same certainty that I know my own name that these aren’t ordinary butterflies or birds (both of which Grandma loved). When I feel her presence with these beautiful creatures I smile and feel at peace, knowing that she is thinking of me and finding ways to let me know that she is well and happy.

I mentioned that Monkey was conceived shortly after her passing. In her last few months, while we were *ahem* “trying” to get pregnant, I at some point became aware that both beings could not exist at the same time. That is to say, I felt that I would not become pregnant until she passed. I felt that she may have even let go so that we could have our baby. I have always felt that she is Monkey’s Guardian Angel and that she knew that would be her job. Feeling that he has this guidance, support, and protection brings me a huge amount of comfort. I also feel so grateful to have known her well enough that I can imagine what she would say when she saw him. I can see her smile, hear her words, feel her love.

But then there’s the other side. The aching loss. The tears that spring up out of nowhere. Once, in the grocery store, there was an older lady walking through the bread aisle, back to me, and the way she stood and dressed reminded me so much of Grandma it was all I could do to choke back the tears I felt welling up. When I think about how she will never get to see Monkey, never feel his gentle arms around her neck, never hear, “I lub you, Great Grandma!”, my heart aches. When I think about how my own Mom will never get to witness a connection between her Mother and her Grandson, my chest tightens.

For Grandma’s last birthday on this earth I gave her a Willow Tree figurine. A little angel with her arms raised up to the sky. Her label says “Courage”. When Grandma passed I took the angel from her condo and it has been on my mantle ever since. The other day I was rearranging the mantle, putting out my fall decorations, and I knocked Courage and she fell to the ground. I picked her up and when I saw that one arm had broken off I lost all control. Not a gentle weep, not just “leakage” as Mom would say, but full out hysterics. Hubby promised he could fix it and I know that soon Courage will be on the mantle in her rightful place and no one will even notice. But it wasn’t just about the fact that this physical object was broken. It was the inexplicable, unexpected flow of emotions and memories that came rushing in when she broke. The memory of Grandma sitting in her specific chair on my parents’ deck in July 2009 looking at it on the table in front of her, her eyes misty, smile big, “Aw Mel, it’s beautiful!”. Courage is broken. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see the symbolism there.

It surprised me, this sudden surge of grief.
Not only was it sudden and unexpected, but I was overwhelmed with the depth of my emotions all this time later.

What do I do with these emotions? How do I handle it when my heart breaks again and again?

I don’t know.
So until I figure that out (will I ever?), I will look for the butterflies and try to cry more tears of happiness than sadness. I will try not to think too hard about the fact that Monkey will never truly know someone who was so important to me.
And I will try to restore Courage. In all the ways I can.

May you find your own butterflies, and may your tears be sweet and brief.

Take care
Love Mel

My Journey

I love teaching. I really, really do. But as all teachers know, at this point it is an uncertain career path. And being the perpetual newbie (thanks, military!) means my job is always going to be the first to go when those inevitable cuts are made. It is also a profession of “the box”. You know, the one you’re supposed to think outside of. And while we do have a certain degree of “creative freedom”, that often feels like a bit of an illusion. Sometimes it feels like “Teach this/don’t teach that. Say this/don’t say that. Do this/don’t do that. Do more of this. Do less of that.” And while I do understand the necessity of these parameters, they can feel more than a little confining. What I have learned about myself is that as the Perpetual Newbie, I have also become a Professional People Pleaser. This Triple P side of me likes to say and do whatever is necessary to feel “liked”. Why? Well, I like people to like me (don’t you?) but I also need a job next year. And I will the year after that, and the year after that. And no one is going to hire or re-hire the girl who rips off her pretty little green-eyed, freckled mask to reveal a frustrated, spade-calling, articulate monster. So I don’t always say what’s on my mind, I don’t always stand up for myself when I should, and I don’t always feel anything like myself at all.

Needless to say, this does not feel good. I am not proud of this alter ego who goes around smiling and saying one thing but feeling something else. I do not like feeling like I can’t be myself. I don’t like feeling like I can’t win. I don’t like feeling like someone else’s opinion of me is actually truly affecting not only how I act but also how I feel about myself.

And before you read any further, let me say this: this has nothing to do with you. Yes YOU. The person who is reading this thinking, “Is she talking about me?”. Nope. I’m talking about ME. Because it’s MY blog and these are MY thoughts and MY glass of red wine has empowered me to be in THIS kind of mood. So get over yourself for just a moment because it isn’t always about you. Got it?

Those who know me know that I have started a business in the health and wellness industry. As I’ve mentioned before, if you want to know more about this please, please ask me because I’m psyched and pumped and will talk to everyone and their goldfish about it because I love it that much. But as I have also said, this blog will not become a personal advertisement so I’m leaving the details at that.

What I will say is this:
I have changed.
I started this business in February but didn’t really dig my heels in until school was done in June. In that short time I honestly and truly feel like a different person (except my left foot. It currently doesn’t feel like anything at all because it has gone to sleep because I sat with my legs crossed for too long. Damn. Anyway, I digress…). Owning this business is allowing me to own myself, and that’s something that I didn’t realize I wasn’t doing. It has opened me up and calmed me down. It has inspired me, empowered me, enlightened me. I work with incredible, incredible people. I have my own cheer-leading section, like, all the time (GO MEL!). I am constantly in contact with people who are successful, open, honest, driven, and positive. They (who, exactly? I don’t know, ok? Just roll with this) say that you are a product of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time. Think about that for a second…is it true of you? It was of me that’s for sure. This summer I am spending time with empowering women, thought-provoking personal development authors, my family from home, my amazing husband and most importantly, my son, who I can’t even think of an adjective for because I just think so highly of him. Put all these 5 people together and that makes for one pretty content woman, don’t you think?

I didn’t know I needed to change. I didn’t realize how yucky I sometimes felt. I didn’t realize how heavily other people’s thoughts, opinions, and judgments were weighing on me.

I just posted a quote on my Facebook that says, “She knew this transition was not about becoming someone better, but about finally allowing herself to be who she’d always been”. I’m pretty sure that was written just for me.

What I have learned so far is this: don’t make excuses for yourself. Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t like this, I don’t like that” but then make excuses not to change it. I’m not saying confront every person in your life who has scorned you. That’s actually a really horrible idea. No, don’t do that. You can’t change other people. You can’t change how THEY think or what THEY do. Trying is frustrating and very rarely successful. You can’t go back in time to have a conversation over again so that you can add your, “Yeah?! Well let ME tell YOU a thing or two!” (oh my gosh, how many times have we all wished we could?). You cannot always make people understand your point of view no matter how many times you may try. You cannot always prove you are right. You cannot make someone like you.

But you can do this:
You can change yourself.
You can change how YOU think and what YOU do.
You can forget past conversations. They are over. Let them go.
You can know in your heart when you have done your best, regardless of what others may think.
YOU can know when you have been misunderstood.
YOU can know when you are right and you can know when you are wrong.

You can be respectful to others even if they are not respectful to you.
You can have a service heart.
You can laugh.
You can cry.
You can like yourself.
You can love yourself.
You can embrace yourself.
You can be yourself.

Regardless of all others.

So this is the journey I am on. This blog is a little more personal than others I have written and although I am hesitant to open myself up so much, it doesn’t feel right to keep my new-found “aha!” to myself. I feel strongly about this and I love to share things about which I feel strongly.

I look forward to where this journey will take me. I am so excited for where my business will take me. What it will allow me to take and what it will allow me to leave behind. Choices. Freedom. A kick-ass car. (Wait, what? Oh yes, my friends.)

So I’ll leave it here…partly because I’ve said all I can say, partly because my glass of wine is empty and needs to be re-filled, and partly because the timer on the washing machine keeps beeping and the only way to make it stop is to go downstairs and switch over the load. And it’s really, really annoying.

Have a great day….and when it’s socially appropriate, get a glass of wine. Because it’s so good. And because you deserve it.

🙂 Mel

Do the *clap, clap* potty dance!

Hello, friends! Believe your eyes, this is not a hallucination – I am back in the blogosphere! I have not been abducted or been swallowed up by kindergarteners, nor have I gone amiss in the soon-to-be-very-tall wheat crops surrounding our town, nor have I fallen into one of the many small, green Ikea potties lying around our house.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and there are several reasons that I would like to share with you.

1. Nothing really awesome has struck me as blog-worthy that I can ACTUALLY write about without offending someone who is highly likely to read this. That would be capital B-a-d. Many times I’ve thought, “Oo, I should write about that! Oh no…wait…”. So instead of writing I’ve been not-so-quietly seething. But it’s all good. I’m making peace. And don’t bother asking, I won’t go into detail. No, not even for you..
Or you.

2. Between teaching kindergarten (Fun! Love it! Awesome! For the first time I’m actually *gasp* looking forward to school starting!) and starting my own business (Arbonne, baby! Now this I WILL tell you about! So ask! Ask! ASK! Love it, love it, want to marry it and have tiny little Arbonnette babies!) and having a toddler I’ve had one or two things to do and haven’t made this a priority (but NO MORE!).

3.

Um….

Ok, I guess there was really only two reasons, but things are always better in odd numbers.

So now that I’m back I’m going to make a more conscious effort to blog more. Why? Because it’s my catharsis, my creative outlet, I like the feedback, I like knowing that people are actually reading what I write (maybe a little arrogant (?) but it’s the truth!) and I can do it in my jammies. And anything you can do in your jammies is great, don’t’cha think?

After that lengthy Prologue it’s time to get down to business…

We are potty training at our house.
More accurately, Monkey is potty training. Hubby and I have been “accident free” for a significant period of time now.
If you know me personally and well you may know that I am a big researcher when I decide I’m going to do something. As soon as I decide that I want to buy a Mac, move to a new town (not that that’s my decision, who are we kidding?), buy a new phone, train a dog, teach a new grade or do pretty much any new baby “phase”, I google it up. Hard. I mean, I google the hell right out of it. Do you have any idea how many people write blogs strictly devoted to single topics like potty training, classroom organizing, and toddler activities? Many of them are excellent (while others are simply…like…those really long Facebook statuses that leave you thinking, “Hey! Buy a journal! And learn to spell!”).

Anywho, back to potty training. So we ordered Monkey four pairs of cloth pull-ups (to go along with our cloth diapers, of course. Seeing the cloth ones makes me wonder why anyone would buy disposables (Or “sposies” as many people in the cloth diaper or “CD” world would say….talk about researching a topic, my Bestie, Miss J and I were months and months and MONTHS researching cloth diapers to the point where I was literally dreaming about it!) when you can have cloth that is so soft, chemical free, washable and just so gosh darn cute!). I put him in his cloth pull-ups, purchased 3 identical little green potties from Ikea ($4 – BARGOON!) which we realized after trial and error were easier to use than the fancy-dancy Cars one which had several parts including the cushy seat part which Monkey liked to put on his head and exclaim, “Hat! Mommy – HAT!”. We realized fairly quickly, though, that Monkey would pee in these pull-ups just as in diaper so by lunch time all 4 were dirty. Hm.

So then we went out and bought “big boy underwear” thinking this would help. It did not.

So for the past 2 hours I have been reading website after website, blog after blog, about different potty training techniques. It’s really a lot like house training a puppy. We taught our first puppy, Tucker, to ring a bell when he had to go out to pee (which we later removed because he was taking advantage of the bell and ringing it every 2 f-ing minutes just to enjoy the outdoor weather, which happened to be sub-zero at the time). Anyway I have very distinct memories of Tucker first peeing then running to ring the bell, and the best memory is me glancing over at him, at the door, nosing the bells furiously as he peed all over the place.

If you’ve ever potty trained a child I’m sure you see the similarities, no?

Also in common are the facts that you should use huge, exciting praise when he gets it right, and pretty much ignore the accidents. “Rubbing his nose in it” so to speak helps no one and now you have a puppy or a toddler with a good ole’ fashioned pee nose. And who has to clean that off? You do. And so who is this helping? No one. Please also refrain from swatting your puppy or toddler with a rolled up newspaper. Either one is inclined to chew up the paper then pee all over everything that is important to you. Again, a lose-lose situation.

So back to my research. Methods I have come across include variations of these two main schools of thought:

1. Let the child decide when he is ready. Put out potties, encourage, but don’t rush. Sure, he could be filling out university applications when he’s finally night and nap time trained (gosh those napping 17 year olds are just precious, aren’t they?) but he will get it in his own good time. Oh, and Smarties and sticker charts help, too.

2. Lay the smack down on potty training. Open up a can of potty training a$$. Let the good times roll and the fun begin (so is the fun rolling, too? And good times are beginning? That sounds right). Buy 45 or more potties. Put them everywhere. Even in the fridge and inside the litter box. One can never be too prepared. Your child must go completely bottomless for 3 entire years. Put your child on the potty every 3.25 nanoseconds. You must spend 3 months without leaving your home. Ever. Not for any reason. You must also be bottomless to model how it is done. Your child will understand in 3 days but the bottomlessness must continue for the remainder of the 3 years.

It is, of course possible that I have exaggerated or slightly fictionalized some of these methodologies. But the main points are there. And just like any other topic I have researched, there are pros and cons to each method, as well as that random pornographic website that pops up no matter how tame your search subject was. And just like anything else, ultimately it comes down to what we decide. At this point we are considering doing the old 1-2-combo by taking suggestions from a few different methods and putting together into something that makes sense to us and something that we hope will make sense to and work for Monkey.

We’ve been doing some sort of potty training approach for about 2-ish weeks now so we’ll see how it continues!!

I’d love to hear what your potty training experiences are – tips, tricks, techniques, or ideas that you’ve read or come across yourself even if you haven’t had the opportunity to try them out.

Just remember to be bottomless while you reply.
Pictures are unnecessary.

🙂 Mel

For All the Teachers…

After the day I’ve had, I have a few things on my mind.

This blog is for all the teachers, all the parents whose children do or will ever attend school, all the people who know teachers, all the people who are friends of, parents of, siblings of, neighbours of or acquainted with teachers. Basically, if you are a member of the human race, this is for you.

So read it.
Get it.
Remember it.

Rumour has it that there are two types of teachers: the kind that put in a lot of time and really put their hearts into their work and the kind who are just there to make a pay cheque. But the truth is that I don’t really know any teachers who fall into the second category, mostly because no one in their right mind would ever be a teacher just to make a buck. They would never last.

Every teacher I know fits into that first category. To say that they “put their hearts” into their work is a vast understatement. Let me tell you about all the teachers I work with now or have worked with in Small Town Ontario.

These teachers work their butts off.
They come early and stay late.
They put more time into arranging their classrooms than their living rooms.
They eat standing up or over top of their lesson plans. If they do make it down to the staff room the conversation is 95% work related.
They spend hours of time on evenings and weekends marking, planning, Pinterest-ing (is that a word now?) ideas, and thinking of new ways to engage the children in their classes.
They spend their own money on supplies. A lot of money.
They think, dream, breathe, and sweat teaching.
Their hearts ache when the year is over and their students, their children, move onwards and upwards.
Their hearts swell and their eyes well when they see that figurative lightbulb light up above a child’s head. That “aha” moment, whether it is finally learning how to print their first name or solving the quadratic equation, never, EVER gets old.
On school days they spend more time with their students than their own children.
They care more for their students than those students’ parents could ever know.
They often feel personally responsible when a student doesn’t quite “get it”, but rarely take the credit when students do.
They want parents to know how much work goes into educating their child but would never, could never really tell them.

They want to be appreciated and respected.

I’ve had a day.
I’ve had much worse and I’ve had much better but still, if I could put this day back in the pack and draw another one I probably would. It was the kind of day where I’m always feeling just one step behind and not quite good enough. It was the kind of day where I wish I felt as confident as I pretended to be. It was the kind of day where I wish I could cover up the heart on my sleeve. It was the kind of day where a hug from a 6 year old went a very long way.

And so friends, family, and random people who have stumbled upon this blog, if you don’t mind taking a little pearl from these self-indulgent but ever-so-cathartic ramblings, please take this:
Teachers care more than you will ever know. So if you are ever tempted to throw a comment here or a little joke there, just keep that in the back of your mind.

Your words and actions have power.
And they sting.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program…

Mel.

It’s Not Me, It’s You…Really

In the past few years I have experienced several major life events. Throughout these times I have learned a lot about myself. I learned that when planning a wedding I am able to take a relatively limited budget and a small town church hall and turn it into everything I ever wanted. I learned then when I am pregnant I can draw upon energy I didn’t think I had when necessary, but that when given the chance I will fall asleep at 8:00 but only on the couch so I can still “spend time” with Hubby. I learned that upon hearing that I must move across the country I might get pretty pissed at first but in the end I’m the type of person who perceives this kind of major change as a “silver lining” opportunity. I learned that the anticipation of going back to work after a full year off with Monkey was much worse than the actual change, and I learned that if you’re really lucky, you can find someone to watch your child and trust that person much, much more than you ever thought possible. I learned that starting a home-based business is very difficult but that I really love owning my own business and working for myself. And I learned, a rather long time ago, actually, that I love being part of a community. The military community, the teacher community, the Mommy community, the wife community, the daughter/sister/friend community, the Arbonne community.

As much as all of these experiences and many more and all of those to come shed light on my own character, what I find equally if not more interesting is how that same light portrays the important people in my life. It is when you need something (physical or emotional) from your friends and family that you catch a little glimpse of who that person is right now, what their priorities are. Hubby has been away for a month (and comes home tonight!). During that same month I started not one but two new jobs and Monkey started daycare. I have one friend who I’ve known less than 5 months who made a point of knowing that she was there for me during this month, that I could ask anything of her despite the fact that for half the time her hubby was away, too. I have neighbours who knew that I was alone and took the time to shovel my driveway when it snowed. I have family that call extra, email extra, say extra “I love you’s” because they can appreciate, even if they can’t completely relate, to how difficult it is to work two jobs, take care of a house and four pets and a 14 month old all my myself. But on the other side of the coin there are people who either don’t know or don’t seem to care about this or other major life events. They’re “busy”, of course. It is tempting to take this lack of involvement personally, but in a recent conversation with my sister I came to realize that it isn’t personal. Really, it has nothing to do with me. What people don’t do, don’t say, speaks volumes about them.
But it sure is eye-opening.

Take care
Mel

Not So Scary

It’s been a little over a month since my last post but so much has happened!
Here’s the skinny on this curvy Mama:

1. I went back to work…times two! I was offered a part time Kindergarten position which I grabbed with the same excitement and small amount of drool that my dogs take an empty peanut butter jar. As you will recall I did NOT want to go back to work, I wanted to stay home with Monkey forever and ever. Well now I’m singing a different tune because this arrangement is just so damned perfect. I work 2-3 days a week which means I get the other 2-3 days home with Monkey. And my fears about how he would be at daycare are GONE. Our daycare lady, Miss E, is so awesome. She and her hubby, Grampa C, are now Monkey’s third set of Grandparents. After a brief adjustment period Monkey now loves going there and as much as I miss him (the first day my body literally ached I missed him so much) I am loving the chance to be back in my profession and I really love every second. It is the perfect balance.

2. I mentioned having two jobs. In the same week that I started teaching Kindergarten I also started my own business! I love, love, love, love working for myself and the team with whom I am working could not be more awesome. I will NOT turn this blog into an advertising forum for my own business, so I’ll simply say that I am looking to expand my team and if this is something you might be interested in please leave me a comment with your email address and I will contact you (you won’t regret it! So awesome! Going to earn me a BENZ, BABY!)

3. Hubby has gone away at the same time as jobs 1 and 2 began AND Monkey started daycare because as you know, that’s how we roll in this lifestyle! So Monkey and I have handled most of the adjustment ourselves but we are in knee deep now and it’s all going very well.

4. We have adopted three baby orang-utans.

Just kidding.
That would be insane.
But the list looked short at just 3 things so I thought I’d add a fourth.

So all the fear, anxiety, sleeplessness, glasses of wine, conversations, nightmares and so on and so forth were for nothing, really. Well, except the wine, that’s never for nothing. In 30 days my life has changed so much and I am rockin’ and rollin’ and loving every second. Except the many seconds around the 3:30am mark when Monkey wakes up and due to his never-ending cough cannot get back to sleep. But the rest of them are great.

Now we’re just counting down until Hubby comes home and then things will be truly perfect.

Until the adoption is processed for the orang-utans.

Take care and have a glass of wine!!
🙂 Mel