Attitude is Altitude

Mark ran his second ever cross country race yesterday at a local school meet.  An invitational meet, so more for fun than the competition that the big area meet next week will be.  He finished 102nd out of 118 grade 4 boys.  He finished hot, sweaty, thirsty, and happy as a lark. The day before the meet, I had to pep-talk him into getting on the school bus the next day with his school team.  He admitted he was scared of coming last.  I had the good parent talk about how it’s completely normal to feel anxious and sometimes a bit scared.  And that it’s okay to come last, just don’t quit.  Who doesn’t feel better after completing something they were anxious about doing rather than if they had just given up and quit?  So, there I was yesterday on the sidelines, watching, waiting, for him to come along the, let’s call it the ‘second -last home stretch’.  I couldn’t see him.  There were the boys running in a variety of different school shirt, plenty of them, running hard, pushing themselves to the finish line.  Where was Mark?  Oh…wait! I see him…here he comes!.  Not running.  Walking.  Walking with a boy from a different school.  “Mark!”  I hollered.  “Run!  Run!  You’re almost done!”  He heard my voice and ran.  I ran over to the finish area and met up with him.  By then he had an apple in his hand as this particular school hands out apples to all runners at the finish line.  He was pooped but excited.  We went over to the board to find out where he placed  102nd.  Then he was ready to go home.  I told him this morning (not for the first time) that I was proud of him and I asked, “do you know what I was especially happy about?”  “That I finished?” he asked.  “No, that you finished with such a great attitude.”  Then he told me that when he was walking with the boy from the other school, he was giving him tips he had learned from his coach.  Run fast, but at your own pace, and give it all you got when you are closer to the finish line.  He apparently thought it was worth sharing, although it was obviously not the best time to be doling out advice.  He also told me that he felt great about his run and that he is ready for the area meet next week.  “Bring it on” were his words.  A good attitude really does make all the difference.  And this mother so proud.



A good sleep is all I need…

I’m tired today.  I went out last night and enjoyed getting together with a group of former co-workers, many of whom I have not seen in over five years.  So it was a lovely evening, chatting about what we are doing now, and reminiscing, and laughing, and a few drinks.  Yes, a few drinks.  I’m not the spring chicken I once was and although I don’t think I over-imbibed, I still had to get up to an alarm clock today.  No big deal, really.  Who can’t handle being a little tired, right?  Most people probably function on a regular basis with way less sleep than we are told we should have.  The problem is that when I’m tired I’m edgy.  And it’s a bit windy today and there is something banging outside that keeps me looking over my right shoulder to the window to see if anyone is in my yard.  Crazy, maybe.  But after having a daytime break-in while I was home some years ago, it takes a really long time to get past the thought that the chances of it happening again are really quite slim.  I remember my dad saying to me after that incident that lightning never strikes the same place twice.  And although that may be meteorologically debatable, I’m sure he said it to make me feel better, as alarmed as he was by mere thought of a guy kicking my front door in while his daughter and three year old grandson were home alone.  And it did make me feel better, sort of.  He probably said it while I was at home surrounded by family on a Saturday afternoon.

Although winter is my least favourite season, one of the things I do like about it is being able to see if there are strange footsteps in my snow-covered yard.  Because that is what happened 10 years ago on February 14th.  Yes, 10 long years ago, and I still occasionally look out my front and side windows to check for footsteps in the snow that shouldn’t be there.  I have checked for that at least five times in the past hour today, because of that wind and that banging, and because I’m tired.  On a good day, and most of them are, I don’t think about it at all anymore.  In fact, on a really good day, if it does cross my mind. I silently curse the punk who would have the nerve to try me that day.  But not today.  So although I cannot wait for spring-like weather, today I am happy to have snow in my yard.  And tonight I will get a good sleep.  And tomorrow I will probably be annoyed that there is still snow on the ground.

Ahhh…March Break, I love thee.

What does March Break mean to you?  To me, it means going to bed a bit later, sleeping in a bit, a break from having school lunches ready and packed by 8:30 a.m. (that often come home only half eaten), making lunch when we are hungry enough to eat it whether it’s noon or 2:00 p.m., turning a movie on at 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday evening instead of calling the kids to get ready for bed at that time; just a nice big fat 11 day break from routine.  It’s a predetermined break.  We don’t even have to look at our schedules and decide when we should take some time away from our everyday shuffle.  We don’t have to clear our calendars.  It’s all done for us.  ‘See this particular week in March?  Please don’t show up because we won’t be here.  Take a break.’  We all need that once in awhile, don’t we?   But, of course, I realize not everyone gets to enjoy this week away from their regular grind, and my sympathies to you.  Because, personally, I love it.  I love having my kids home with me for the week.  I think we could all use the time off, right around the time when the weather feels like it’s getting ready for a change, when the feel of spring is in the air.  Sunny and 10 degrees Celsius for the first Saturday of March Break?  Seems like even Mother Nature is giving a little wink and a smile. 

Talking…And Touching?

I’m the touchy-feely type. I like to touch people when I’m talking. No big, right? For me, it adds to the conversation. Nothing serious; just a little touch on the arm here, maybe a little tap on the shoulder there, perhaps combined with an enthusiastic, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!”. All innocuous little taps that show just how immersed I am in the conversation at the time. Better than standing with arms folded, right?

I’m not tousling hair, pinching cheeks or slapping an ass. No man-handling on my part. Just a little smidge of physical contact, that’s all. Nothing serious. (Although I have been known to give a little Elaine Benes shove with a resounding, “Get out!” but I really try to curb those – they can be shocking to the person on the receiving end of that.) Oh sure, sometimes my hand may linger on an arm a little longer, but that’s only once I’ve established that whomever I’m speaking with isn’t bothered by my tactile way of conversing. (Although I have noticed people look at my hand as it goes for their arm for, say, the third time in the conversation, as if to say, “You’re touching me. Again.”)

So if I’m talking to you and I touch you, just know that it’s only because I like you and frankly I’m probably just enjoying the conversation. And lighten up, I’m not coming on to you. (I really do know when not to touch. Really.)

And, I promise, I will do my best not to rub you the wrong way.

Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!

So my eight year old, in grade three, recently tells me he is dating a little girl in his class.  “What?” I say to him.  “No, you’re not.”  Oh yes he is, he replies, and proceeds to tell me that his two friends are dating so-and-so and so-and-so, too.  Oh, so it’s a group effort.  Hmm.  I’m not sure I like this.  Well of course they are not dating dating and my common sense tells me that it is absolutely nothing to even think twice about.  I remember my first crush and that was in grade one.  So why does it bug me even a little bit?

Something else has shifted lately with him too.  He doesn’t seem to want to snuggle with his Mama quite as much.  It is definitely not the nightly ritual it once was. I have to ask him in the morning now if he wants to snuggle with me that night. It has come down to ‘scheduling’ snuggle time with my own child.

It seems that his teenage brother now trumps his Mama.  What’s up with that anyway?  A little boy who wants to be with his cool, older brother most of his spare time?  What kind of child did I create?

It would seem that my baby is growing up.  What??  So soon?  He is only eight.  Eight and a half on Valentine’s Day to be exact.  And I want him to pick me all the time.  I want to be his Valentine.  I thought that I was his girlfriend.

This evening my husband took my older son to his hockey practice, so Mark and I were here alone.  He grabbed his iPad and went into his Minecraft zone.  Ain’t nothing breaking that barrier.  I was upstairs putting a load of laundry away.   “Hey, why don’t you come and lay in my room and do that while I do this?” I asked, hopefully.  “No, I’m playing Minecraft.”  After turning me down without a second thought, he got up and closed his bedroom door!  Not only do I come second to his brother, I think I may be in third place behind his iPad. No more gold medal, first place Mom here.

Back to this girlfriend nonsense. I asked Mark if he was giving out Valentines to his classmates and he said yes, and then told me they were making Valentines Day crafts and that his little lovey was making one for her Grandmother.  That is so sweet!!  I’m raising a boy who knows how to pick the good ones!  (He did choose her…it couldn’t have been an eeny meeny miney mo thing, could it have?  Is that how they do it in grade three?)  Oh wait, what am I talking about, he doesn’t have a girlfriend.  That’s silly, he’s only eight.  He’s my baby.

I did try to schedule some snuggle time for tonight and he knows I will take it when I can get it; I can tell by his voice.  He responds like you would when you want to be gentle with your rejection.  “I’m going to lay with Ryan tonight.  But tomorrow night, okay?” his voice rising at the end, like a question.  As he answered me, he and that cool older brother of his headed downstairs to watch a movie together (of course.)   And as for tomorrow night,  I better go and get him to pinky swear.  He would never go against a pinky swear.

Bud Drinkers, Grab your Kleenex.

Have you seen the new Budweiser commercial for the Superbowl?   Apparently I wasn’t their target audience because I don’t get it.  Sure, it was sweet and touching.  And I really did like it.  Who doesn’t like baby animals?  A foal in a pile of hay in a barn, c’mon, how cute is that?  You have to be the Tin Man if you didn’t feel a little warmth in your heart watching it.

So, quick synopsis:  a baby Clydesdale (let’s call him “ Buddy”)  is raised with love by his owner and then is sold off (how’s that for true love) to the Budweiser brand.  Three years later, the Budweiser beer parade is in town, and wouldn’t you know it, Buddy is full on a part of that fun.  Parade ends, farmer dude, who is watching on the sidelines with pride, leaves.  But wait!  Clip clop clip clop, farmer dude turns around and who is prancing towards him?  Buddy!!  And you can just see in Buddy’s eyes the love and the good memories (“damn, that was a fun three weeks we had together a few years back!”).  (Or…maybe he is really thinking, why the hell did you sell me?  I’m a homebody!  I liked that cozy farm!)  Anyway.  If that reunion doesn’t tear your heartstrings out and mush ‘em up I don’t know what will.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I, too, would have been a blubbering mess had I not been forewarned what I was in for when the You Tube link was sent to me.

But, other than the Clydesdale being the Budweiser horse, what does it have to do with beer?    I guess I’m just used to beer commercials being all about dudes and chicks partying and socializing.  Good times abound!  That’s what beer is supposed to represent!  Maybe if the horse had galloped up to his owner with a can of Bud in his chops it would have made a little more sense to me?  I get it:  The Clydesdale has been the Budweiser horse for years.  He symbolizes their brand.  (Doesn’t Carlsberg have a horse represent as well?  Hmm…now I have to check that out.)  And it is a Superbowl ad afterall.  Millions will see it, and many wait for the next Budweiser commercial.  (Toronto Maple Leafs fans are used to crying in their beer anyway.  Couldn‘t resist that…)  But that’s marketing, right? You can’t please everybody all of the time,  and I’m sure this one will appeal to the masses.  In fact, I heard just a couple of days ago on t.v. that this commercial already has over a million views on You Tube.

But I ponder this ad like I ponder which beer is on sale:  A 30 second scan and if it doesn’t jump out at me, I’m not sold   Oh I’m not saying I still won’t occasionally buy Budweiser beer.  I will.  If it’s on sale.  And if Heineken is not.

A Cloudy Day in Mr. Spider’s Sunny Patch

I had a word with a common house spider today.  Sure, it sounds strange.  Don’t worry, it was not a two-way conversation.  He/she didn’t talk back.  If that was the case, I would be contacting the newspaper and not just writing a cute little story about it.

I don’t know about you, but I am seeing a lot of spiders in my house lately.   The light-colored beige ones.  I don’t like them here one bit.  I want them to stay outside.  I don’t like putting laundry away and seeing a dark spot up in the corner out of my peripheral.   Sure, it may be a cozy spot for a spider and I’m sure he has no intentions of scaring me, but I’m shaken up nonetheless and then I know he is there.  And it’s one thing to keep checking to see if he’s there, it’s a whole other thing when I check and he is not there.  Where is he?  Where will I see him again?  What will I be doing when I spot him?  Oh, do you really have to put me through this?  I don’t like to kill them because they are living things and, not to get all corny, but they do deserve their place here just like every other creature on this planet.  But I will not pick up a spider and transport it to the outdoors, I just can’t.  I would be screaming like a little girl the whole time.  I already scream and make funny noises out loud when I am left with no choice but to grab him (her?) with a Kleenex and flush him down the toilet.

So about a year ago I was chatting with my neighbour about the influx of spiders I was encountering in my home at that time.  (Not just in my house, it seemed;  from what I was hearing they were apparently enjoying the comfort of many houses around my neighbourhood, and beyond).   Now, I have known this neighbor for approximately 11 years so I am pretty confident when I say that he is a sane man.   That day he said to me, quite seriously, “Do you wanna know the best way to get rid of spiders?”  “Of course!” I answered, with cautious excitement.  He said he wasn’t sure if he should tell me;  he was sure I would think he was nuts.  I said no, no, go ahead and tell me, obviously very curious.  He was about to tell me a very unconventional but surefire way to rid of spiders in the home, so I was anxious to hear and encouraged him along.  No, no, he really insisted that I would think he was mad.  No!  Tell me!  Really!!  “Well,” he went on. “you have to talk to the spider.”  I gotta be honest, for a nano-second I thought he was a little off his rocker.  “You say to it, firmly, ‘Look.  Don’t bother me, and I won’t bother you.’ “  My neighbour paused, probably to gauge my reaction thus far.  I was engaged.  Sure, it sounded wacko but I was open to a new and peaceful approach to dealing with these unwanted spinners.  He probably told me where he had heard this but I don’t remember that detail right now.   He went on to tell me how this exact tactic had worked for him.  If I had met this man only months before, I would have thanked him and walked away and he would have had a new nickname for sure.   But such was not the case.  I like this man.  He is a good, stable, intelligent, hard-working family man and you could not ask for better neighbours than him and his wife.  My dh  and I have had countless conversations with them over the years.  They buy Christmas gifts and Easter chocolate for my kids and throw in extra Halloween candy for them.  Hell, we even exchanged an “we love you guys!” once.  We keep an eye on each other’s properties when vacationing.

So it was most definitely worth a shot.  I just speak to the spider firmly but politely, he nods his tiny head in agreement, and we carry on with our lives.   Key word for the spidey:  Lives.  He gets to keep his.

I saw a spider a few days after that in our upstairs bathroom.  I was alone in the house.  I imagined speaking to him and then afterwards telling my neighbour and him having a good laugh and confessing that he was only kidding about the whole thing and couldn’t believe I did it.  But I didn’t care.  So I spoke to him, just as he suggested, very briefly but I made my point, and then I carried on with my day.  Believe it or not, I did not see a spider in my house after that for several months.  No guff.  Dead serious.  Sure, maybe all the other homes in the neighbourhood stopped seeing them too, and there was a natural or weather-related explanation.  I don’t know.  But still.  I was living spider-free.  I was silently impressed and didn’t tell my dh for a couple of weeks, a) to be sure there really were no more, and b) because I was slightly embarrassed to tell even him.

So here we are, several months later, and there THEY are.  Back in my house.  The same beige- coloured eight-legged predatory arachnids as before.  They are back.  In my house.  Where they don’t belong.  We had an agreement, I thought.  Regardless, I was left with no choice.  So I got as comfortably close today as I could to the one in the corner of  the ceiling going down the stairs (which, trust me, wasn’t close at all) and said, “You stay far away from me and I will not bother you.  This is my house and I don’t want you here.  And you pass that message along to your brother and sisters in arms.”  I think I may have even pointed at him when I spoke, I don’t know.  He’s still there, but I think he got the message.  Tonight he will probably quietly round up his troops and move on out.   Who knows, maybe they will head over to my neighbour’s house.

I will keep you posted.

C’mon baby, light my fire…

I had an epiphany. An epiphany that has fired up in me the desire to write. I have always loved writing but have never really done much of it. I think I may be half-decent at it, but I really don’t know. What if I blog and it’s a flop? Will it be a flop to everyone who reads it? Probably not. Somebody has to enjoy what I have to say, right? What will I write about? My kids? What’s so special about that? I mean, my kids are special to me, that goes without say. But millions of people have kids. My opinions? Same. Millions of people have opinions. I don’t want my blog to be a place that I bitch about things. Although, oddly enough, when something irks me that’s when I most want to sit down and write. And I imagine saying whatever it is that is driving me mad at the moment and everyone unanimously agreeing; I hear in my head, as I’m bitching in my head, people, but no-one in particular, frowning and all fired up right along with me,and saying, “yeah! I know, right? Who DOES THAT!!!???” and we all agree, but it’s ME who brings it up and summarizes it in to a nice neat little packaged bitchy story. But…would everyone agree? Or is everything that irks me in a moment necessarily blog-worthy? Probably not. So if I want to write, is it proper blog etiquette to randomly write about whatever I want? Or should I at least have my general theme narrowed down? I just don’t know. I really just don’t know. Oh yeah, back to the epiphany that lit the fire…

So I applied for a job and I know it would have been a job that this particular employer would have received many-an-applicant for. Several upon several for sure. I clearly stated in my cover letter that I had been out of the work force for five years (it would be job interview suicide to not disclose that, and why wouldn’t I disclose it?). So I fire off my resumé and cover letter almost on a whim I would say, because I didn’t bother to keep a copy of the job posting. Actually, even more clarification required here – I whimsically applied for two positions on that day for the same employer – one being a part-time position and one a full-time. So, yeah, I apply online, hit send, and carry on about my day, week, month. A month or so later I get a call inviting me for an interview. I was excited, flattered, impressed with myself, surprised and nervous (did I really want to go back to work?) They told me which particular position they were calling me for, but I couldn’t remember if it was the part-time or the full-time job. No matter. The interview was a week away. I geared myself up, rehearsing in my head the answers to the nonsensical ubiquitous interview questions. I pictured myself saying that my weakness was my interview skills and my strength was my ability to do the job. And then we would all laugh at that (it was to be a panel interview) and they would scribble down how they liked me right away, and we would carry on with the interview, and I would be just a bit more relaxed. What did I have to hide? If they asked me how I would handle a negative situation with a co-worker, no sweat, I would be honest. I get along with everyone and always have and am non-confrontational and handle negative situations quite positively, and so I would just be myself. Yeah, no. The woman who came to get me had three-inch heels on and short coiffed crunchy looking hair and the type of business attire that said “I am business woman and I am in charge of my business womaness.” And it was a panel interview all right. Four professional, very polished women sitting around a table. They introduced themselves and informed me of the interview format – they would go around the table and each ask me a question, and this would of course continue until all of their questions were used up. (Well, that’s not how she worded it). First question, manicured woman to my right, “Are you familiar with the [insert job-related acronym that I have no recollection of]?” Me, stumped. Honesty IS the best policy, always, right? “No, I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that.” (Me thinking, “really? Jobs come with many acronyms that apply only to that particular role or company; is this really a reflection of my ability to do a job?”) To add salt to the wound, the second professional woman immediately follows with, “Oh, you didn’t look that up?” Me, “No.” Remember, I couldn’t have looked anything up – I didn’t keep a copy of the job description. I really didn’t think I would be called for an interview and coolly thought I would worry about it at the time if I did. At that point, I was thinking how I should probably just excuse myself right then, and leave. So instead of the five of us having a light-hearted laugh and the feeling that they had their candidate sitting right there in front of them, it was pretty much the polar opposite. Fast forward to the end of that interview (the Excel test did not go well either, by the way. More specifically, I couldn’t even remember enough Excel to finish the first part of my two-part Excel test, let alone begin part two. My typing speed is 80 wpm and that takes into account accuracy. Just sayin’.) They politely (polite yes, warm no) called me the next day to inform me they had chosen somebody else

So, I’m getting closer to the point of my story. Was I surprised that they had chosen another candidate? NOT IN THE LEAST. When I left that interview, instead of just thanking them for their time, I should have added that I’m sure I wouldn’t see any of them again. But I have to say I was annoyed. If they called me for an interview, they obviously felt I was qualified for the job, despite having been out of the workforce for five years. So why could they not have tailored their interview as such? It was the kind-of-sort-of role I have been doing for the past 23 years and there is no doubt in my mind that once I was trained I would have been more than capable. So I was bugged. Why call me and then interview me like another candidate who is currently working? We are not the same candidates! But then…it hit me!! The kind of job I have done for the most part for the past 23 years is not at all what I want to do if I ever get back into the job force. When I occasionally, randomly, capriciously apply for a job, it is that type of job title that draws me and only because that’s all I have ever done

So, I asked myself, ‘What would really make you happy if you had to do it all day long, or at least on a part-time basis?’ WRITE!! I want to write, damn it!! But I now direct you back to my opening paragraph, beginning with the fifth sentence. I did, however, manage to write quite a bit here. Maybe I will use this story as my starting point. I still don’t know about my blogability. But I guess if I want to write, I have to just let my pen flow and see where it takes me. And I do have to say thank you to those kind people for not offering me the job.