Do you have a “Plan” or are you like me and “Plan-less” by choice?

A rainbow of smart phones, but do you need a plan? Can you save the money and do without all the bells and whistles?
Smartphone image credit: pctechmag.com

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll have learned that I am a planner. I live and die by my day planner (or agenda, as my kids call it). If it needs to happen, will happen, may happen, could happen, didn’t happen or happened, it’s in my giant 9″x12″ spiral-bound, monthly-tabbed planner. I record our LIVES in my annual day timers and I take a considerable amount of time finding just the right one (because let’s face it, planner needs change over time, amiright?) and have been known to purchase two within a week of one another when the first one just doesn’t quite “feel” right. This is me. I’ve come to accept that.

But in one area of my life, I live “plan-less” and it’s by choice. I’m talking of course, about my mobile phone. I’ve had one fairly constantly since they were little bricks that looked like this:

Circa 1999 (photo credit: Timetoast.com)

My first provider was Telus. They had a low-cost monthly plan that I could afford ($20ish a month), plus they had a really cute ad campaign). Not that I used the phone much at all, I admit that I often forgot to charge it and when I did have it charged, found that I didn’t really have that much need to speak to people on it when I was out and about. These were the days before texting, wi-fi and internet EVERYWHERE. It was just another device to lose in my purse, feel terribly adult for having and to chat on (or club someone over the head with if they were being inappropriate). Nonetheless, I had a cellular phone then and I continue to have one today.

I’ll resist the urge to bore you with my personal evolution from cell phone to smart phone, but this point of this post is this. I live, survive and thrive, quite happily without a cellular phone “PLAN.” I have never had a data plan, unlimited calling anywhere, or unlimited texting. My monthly cost to operate my smartphone of choice (iPhone 7+, which was purchased outright for me as a Christmas present two years ago, by my lovely husband) in 2018 was $9.42 a month, or $113.00 for the year. For that amount, I was able to text as much as I liked (I text about four people consistently, iMessage the others while in wi-fi range) and take or make the occasional urgent call.

$9.42 per month. I’ll just leave this here.

The beauty of my pay-as-you-go, non-plan plan is that I am not locked into a contract, there is no temptation or incentive to always be looking for the next phone ‘upgrade’ and I am completely off-line whenever I leave the house, unless I purposefully tap into some free wi-fi (which I will admit to doing at times, although mostly to access my Flipp app to price match groceries).

What never ceases to amaze me though is the almost weekly “Special, exclusive” offers I receive via text message from Rogers. This one came in on Tuesday afternoon:

Sounds pretty “exclusive” to me! Oh wait, just a sec…

So basically, I can go from having everything I need for $9.42 a month on pay-as-you-go (no commitment, fees, or contract), to having more than I need for a minimum of $33.90 (taxes included, extra fees excluded) a month? Now, I’ve never claimed to be a mathematical genius or financial guru, but it sounds to be like Rogers is trying to tell me that I’d be getting a much better deal if I spent $410 a year rather than the $113 a year that I currently spend. Except, I still would not have a data plan and I’d be out an extra $300 a year. Calling it a “no tab Plan” doesn’t change the fact that it is, in fact a “Plan” and by definition, at least in my experience, “Plan” = $$$$.

Look. I’m not a doctor, lawyer or pimp. I do hold a pretty high position, but it is within my family unit and to them, I am always just a holler away. Heads of State do not need to reach me at all hours and when I need to price match a head of lettuce, the grocery store has free wi-fi for when I’ve forgotten my paper flyer at home. I do not feel the need to be online and entirely reachable 24/7. I almost always have my phone charged and with me, but more often so I can take pictures and video of my kids and other absurdities in my day, track my steps (phone and watch sync strangely) and keep an eye on it for texts from any of my people. The ringer, notifications and sound features are almost always in the ‘Off” position. I do not allow apps to flash notifications on my screen when someone posts on Instagram or Facebook or sends me an email. I’ll check everything in good time.

For some people (doctors, lawyers, or pimps, say) it may make real sense to have an expensive data plan with all the bells and whistles, 24/7 access to the internet, maps, GPS, etc. etc. I get that. I suppose, what I really want people to know is that for most of us OVIP’s (Other Very Important People), it is a choice and there are options out there for those, who like me, want to just have what they actually need, rather than what we’re constantly told that we need or inundated with media telling us that it is what we all really want. For me, I would rather spend that $300 on a great day out as a family or register one of my kids for an activity they want to pursue. If I were single, I would rather add that $300 to my travel fund, RRSP or towards an adventure (that I would document using my plan-less phone *grin*).
xx

A rainbow of smart phones, but do you need a plan? Can you save the money and do without all the bells and whistles?
Smartphone image credit: pctechmag.com

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

As it turns out that like my mother before me, elephants make me cry.

How reading a book about elephants reminded me why it is so important for parents to read with their children.

Long ago:

When I was young, on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. on CBC (channel 5, cable 6 in Toronto), The Wonderful World of Disney would sometimes play a full-length movie, much to the delight of thousands of Canadian children. Escape from Witch Mountain, Herby The Love Bug, you know, well-loved Disney fare. Remember, this was before the days when every household had a VHS player and a video store rental membership, or even just cable. CBC was available to anyone with a t.v., rabbit ears and a working knob dial that turned to change channels.

It was on one of those Sunday evenings, that I remember seeing the animated full-feature movie, Dumbo for the first time. My mother watched it with me and (spoiler alert) when baby Dumbo went to see his mother in elephant jail and she pushed her trunk out between her cell bars to reach out to stroke and rock him gently, my mother lost it. I was shocked by her tears, and I remember laughing at her for being so silly. It was just a cartoon! I remember her starting to laugh too and she was still dabbing her eyes when she tried to explain to me that having a baby (me) had turned her into a weepy mess and just the idea of that poor baby elephant being separated from his mummy was just about the sadness thing ever and it just killed her every time she saw it. I listened without really understanding and eventually just shrugged and turned back to watch the rest of the film. But that moment stayed with me.

Present day:

My mornings start at 5:30a.m. I put my first small on the bus at 6:45 a.m. and my last on the bus at 8:40 a.m. Between the third and fourth departure, there is approximately 20 minutes. I have been using that time to read to small number four. We usually read a chapter from a book that is just for her (currently Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton), as the books we read at dinner time or bedtime are of interest to all four of them. This morning though we could not find her book in any of the usual places. So, rather than waste more our time looking, she (wisely and practically) suggested that we read her school library book about elephants. Great, we love elephants! Except that it was a book based on the true story of three female elephants (two born in the wild and one born in captivity) who were slowly dying at the Toronto Zoo and were (finally) allowed to go to a sanctuary in California in 2013. Remembering Dumbo, I understood my challenge almost at once.

I made it through the entire book, not a tear in sight. No lip-biting or quivering voice. Until the last sentence.

At the end of the story were a few pages about elephants, their statistics, needs, health and habits. The last few paragraphs were specifically about one of the elephants in the story who was relocated to California with her two friends. While she showed improvements at the sanctuary, it was, sadly, too late for her health to improve enough. She was 46 when she died (around mid-life) and that last bit, about how happy the author was that she (the elephant) was at least able to enjoy her last couple of years of captivity living comfortably, happily and closer to her natural environment broke me. I couldn’t make it through the sentence. Tears spilled over and my voice cracked. I had to stop reading. In that moment, I became my mother.

I did finally pull it together and finish the last seven or so words, and wiping my tears away looked at my girl and said “ah then, what a lovely story!” And while she looked a bit taken aback, she simply gave me a hug and nodded in agreement, putting the library book in her backpack to return to school.

I love that we have this precious time in the mornings together, a quiet moment without the chaos of our ‘real’ lives. I love that she loves animals, big and small, and that she actively seeks out opportunities to learn more about them. I love that she wants to include me in her learning. I love that rather than laughing at me (as I did to my mother), she sat quietly and cuddled in, understanding that it was genuine empathy and caring for that poor elephant and the tragedy of her life circumstances that was the cause of my tears and not merely silliness.

I have always read to my children and I have also always advocated for others to do the same. Aside from encouraging literacy (very important), it creates these precious moments of connection between a parent and child, whether that connection is based in empathy, humour or excitement stirred up by the story being read.

So,

If you like elephants, or you like crying in front of your children, or you like crying while reading about elephants to your bewildered children, here is a link to the book on Amazon.ca. The story itself is fine and the illustrations are lovely. It’s that last page you need to look out for.

How reading a book about elephants reminded me why it is so important for parents to read with their children.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

My crazy did not beat out my sanity this morning. Everyone won.

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…”🎤

This song. I’ve known it since childhood. I have wonderful memories of singing it in the back of the car with my grandma while my grandpa drove me home on Sunday evenings. It is a good thing that I have those childhood memories though, because this morning I heard this song, no fewer than 300 times between the hours of 7:45 and 8:30. So not even hours but rather, minutes. The song was performed at various tempos, pitches and volumes. Over and over and over again, the singer trailed after me, thisclose to my elbow at all times, crooning away until I was sure that my head would explode and my heart rate was letting me know that my anxiety was reaching critical levels. I needed to get out of my own skin, but there was no escape, there was no hiding.

I wanted to scream, cover my ears and run away, but I did not. Instead, I kept reminding myself that soon, in the near years to come, none of my children will likely sing with such glee, such careless abandon, such enthusiasm and happiness and if they do, it will possibly be something far less innocent than a Christmas carol. So, with that thought reverberating in my mind, I slapped a smile on my face, gritted my teeth and said “lovely, darling!” with enthusiasm after each and every rendition.

I cannot regret my feelings, they came out of nowhere and took root, but I would have regretted very much had I given into those feelings and squashed that innocent and joyful happiness out of one of my children by snapping at them to pipe down or cut it out.

Now, not even an hour later and they are all safely at school. The house is empty and quiet and my anxiety has slunk back into the dark corner of my being where it resides. While I sit here, quietly, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes and in my heart at the memory of that sweet, smiling little face belting out “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat! Please drop a penny in the old man’s hat…” 🎩 🎤 The tears are a mixture pride, shame, happiness, love and sorrow all at once. But mostly of love.

Thus, I have decided to use this moment in time to define myself as a mother today, to remember that for all the mistakes that I make (and I make a lot of mistakes), sometimes I get it right. Most importantly, I will use this morning as a gentle reminder to myself that while the days feel long (oh so very, very long sometimes!) the years are flying past and that fact is easy to lose track of when I’m too busy keeping track of the daily strife and upsets. Really though, in all honesty, what sort of psychopath wants to track those memories anyway? Not this sort, I’ll tell you, No. This sort of psychopath is going to track the singing moments, the smiling moments and the loving moments.

And just in case the song is not already playing, on repeat, in your head, here you go.

You’re welcome.

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.


Contrary to all appearances

So this was today, but you could pretty much replace “today” with “any day” and it would still be accurate.

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Thursday morning:

Characters in this scene: Me, alone at home and trying to get ready to leave the house.

Me: (mumbling to self) Where’s my purse?

Me: Looks beside kitchen chair, in foyer, no purse.

Me: (louder, outside voice) WHERE’S my purse? (with increasing alarm).

Me: Looks in living room beside couch and quickly scans the rest of the room from the doorway. Panic sets in. Check front door.  Still locked, thus, unlikely purse was stolen while I was in the shower.

Me: (actual outside voice now) WHERE’S MY purse?!? (almost hysterical). Did I leave it in the car last night? No, I wouldn’t have done that. Are there any footprints around the car? There are! Oh, but wait, brought the kids home from soccer and the library last night, they have feet. Yes, kids’ footprints around the van, not a robber.

Me: (frantic now and on the verge of throwing up) WHERE IS MY PURSE?! (now actually running around the house, in circles, through kitchen, into dining room, up the stairs into office, look under desk (not sure why, as only garbage pail and my feet go there), race back downstairs in the living room, panting (ugh, why am I so bloody out of shape? Ah, right, never exercising will cause that). WHERE IS MY oh, wait a second, what is that peaking out from behind the coffee table? Ah yes, my purse strap. Approach said strap, with is, predictable, still attached to my purse. Wonder how it got there? Did I put it there? Why would I do that? Ah, never mind, have it now, so about ready to leave the house.

Me: Right. Now, where are my sunglasses? 

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Lesson today: no matter just how poised, pulled together and organized one (read: I)  may appear to the outside world, most of us (again, read: I) do spend an exorbitant amount of time looking for stuff just in order to get out the door at any given moment.

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P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.


Mourning the end of my Fertility chapter and sharing my internal conversation, with hope.

I often have full blown conversations in my head (well, when we’re all lucky they stay in my head anyway). I provide the dialogue for both sides of the conversation, yours and mine. In this context, “you” aren’t you though, “you” are what I imagine anyone outside of myself would say, listening to me talk. This conversation is one that has been playing, over and over in my mind for months, perhaps even years (before the “baby” door was forever closed, maybe?) and today I think that if I share it here, then just maybe, my mind will resolve the conversation and move onto one that is more productive and positive, less pitiful, woeful and futile. Or maybe it won’t, maybe this melancholy broken record will just become part of my new normal internal dialogue. Sometimes, for the smaller things that gnaw at my soul, just getting it off my chest is enough to lay it to rest but for the bigger things, I can say from experience, it can take years of writing, talking, crying and sorting through the muck in order to find a peaceful resolution.

On the daily, it goes something like this:

“I mourn the loss of my fertility. I’ll never feel all of those pregnancy feelings or delivery another baby.” I cry to my myself during those moments when either my house or my mind is quiet.

“How can that be? How selfish can you be?” You ask. “You have a handful of kids and you are constantly running around, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, mending, tearing out your hair, complaining, not sleeping, and almost never really ever done with a task (there is always more laundry to do, food to prepare, carpets to vacuum, errands to run). You are forever thinking about the time when you’ll have the time to achieve a few of your other goals. Goals other than elementary school homework, edible packed lunches and motherhood. You have enough kids, they’re growing up, life is finally about more than wiping bottoms, noses and tears – they can now do most of that stuff themselves. It’s great! Your kids are becoming competent humans, just what you always wanted them to be!”

“True, true,” I say, nodding my head and then shaking it violently back and forth. “But that changes nothing. Their growth feeds my grief. My grief for what is no longer as much as it grows my pride in them. What I would not give to have that one last pregnancy. That one last bump. The discomfort of pregnancy-induced heartburn, swollen limbs and looser joints. One last time to feel that “that’s it! I’m done being pregnant – this baby needs to evacuate now!” feeling. That one last precious (and quick) delivery and that wrinkly, squinty and puckered newborn brow to kiss. Those fingers and toes to count, that tiny human to marvel at. Priceless. To have that one last infant to nurse and cuddle and carry – EVERYWHERE. I wouldn’t trade what I have or who I have, but I would be completely complete, given just one last turn.”

“So have one then, what’s one more? You want it so badly, just do it. Or is it menopause? It’s got to be, doesn’t it?” You ask.

“No, no, not at all. I am not menopausal or even peri-menopausal. My cycle is as predictable and regular as ever. My body still functions. My marriage still functions. My ova though, they are past their ‘sell-by’ date and  there is nothing left of them to create a viable, healthy human anymore. And it is cruel for my body to behave like that of a younger, fertile version of myself and deprive me of that one last chance. Better ‘the change’ happen and at least give me the reprieve of the monthly bleeding and bloating with no ‘prize’ for my troubles and inconvenience.”

You, now exasperated “Well, get on with things then. Sounds like unless you’re willing to take some extreme and expensive measures, your baby-making days are behind you. Suck it up, Buttercup. You’ve caught your quota, time to pack up and go home, as the saying goes.”

Me, now defensive and defeated, “yes, I know that. I understand all of that. And I fight against feeling sad and distraught and I feel a right fool for feeling this way at all. I KNOW how blessed I am to have my children, I know how blessed I am to have the family that I have and I understand just how stupid and selfish and ridiculous it is, that I AM, for feeling this way. But I feel it anyway. Grief and mourning are real feelings, whether anyone believes I have a reason to feel this way is neither here nor there, because, at the end of the day, I DO feel this way. The puzzle for me then is to figure out how to have these feelings without letting them own me or stop me from living out the rest of my life with light, love and hope, rather than regret, loss and sadness.”

You, really fed up now, “Focus on the positive, you idiot! You have FIVE frickin’ kids. Each of them are healthy. Each of them are intelligent. Each of them has a kind and generous heart. Each of them are lovely (not a Quasimodo among the bunch). And you get to actively participate in their growing up, you get to help shape them into healthy, productive and kind humans. YOU get to do that, YOU get that privilege. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and count your blessings. ALL OF THEM. Babies you do not have, who did not make it to term, or were never conceived to begin with were not meant to be with you, they were not part of the plan for you. Everything happens for a reason, even sad things. The sooner you accept that and work within the light and blessed space you have, the sooner you will realize that while six may have been your dream, five is your perfect space.”

You continue, tired at this point with my tears and endlessly sad face, “Stop being sad when you hear news of another woman your age (give or take) being pregnant or having a baby. Be happy for her, for she is creating her perfect place. Maybe it is her first baby, maybe it is her last, it matters not, because it is part of the plan for her life. Be happy for yourself because you have your perfect place among a family who loves and needs you, a family who looks to you to steer the ship. You were a mother when you had but one baby, one child. You felt complete and never ‘less than’ other mothers with more children. Think back to that young woman, and remember how proud, competent and sure of yourself you felt. That is still you, you just look a lot older, fatter and more tired now and you have somehow figured out that you don’t always need to drown your fries with ketchup before you eat them. Sometimes, french fries are perfect just as they are. Like you, like your family, perfect in your imperfection.” You say.

“Thank you,” I say. “I needed that,” and I get on with my day, until next time.

🖤

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.


Live update: I’m eating this plate of marshmallows

Live update:

I’m eating this plate of marshmallows for lunch because:

a) I’ve made myself sad writing a different blog post and like an idiot did so without first checking to ensure that I had any scrap of chocolate in the house;

b) the bag was already open, so I’m being super frugal by eating them before they go hard, stale and nasty (housewifing win right there);

c) because the kids are at school so I don’t have the set a good example for ANYBODY; and

d) today, until 4pm, this is what passes for adulting in my world.

Live update, Part 2

Just sitting here in the ‘wick, living my best life ya’ll. #SorryNotSorry #NotEvenABit

The marshmallows have been eaten. And I’m not even sorry.

And don’t even bother hatin’ on my Diego plate. It’s vintage, circa 2007, no chips or cracks and believe me, we have thrown this sucker around plenty. Beat that.

❤️
~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.


The day when enough was enough, my girl came through.

This sign is now posted on our front door.

The sign reads:
“We are happy at our church. We don’t want to chage [sic] at all our faith.”

 

As is happens, my eight-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands after being sequestered once again, with her brothers and mother, in the living room, hiding from the JW’s who were knocking determinedly on our front door last week. I thought that I had the JW visits handled, but I was WRONG.

Yes, I could have answered the door (again) and told them that we are not interested in discussing their religion with them (again) but I did not. I was in my jammies, I was a hot mess without the ‘hot’ bit and I just did not have it in me to slap a smile on my face and be pleasant in that moment. So I hurried my youngest four children into the living room and read to them from a David Walliams book we’ve been reading together until I was sure the JW’s had left.

And that’s when it happened.

That is when my eight-year-old decided that she was done being pushed around and set about writing up and posting this notice in our front door. It is completely her own phrasing and spelling and I just love it.

I love it for how well it shows her spirit. I love it for the conviction in her faith and beliefs that she is not afraid to own and I love it for the succinct manner in which she expressed her message. I love that she was smiling and happy while still being quietly fierce while creating her sign.

I’m telling you the truth now, every day, at least one of my children reminds me that he or she is absolutely #Goals for me. And then, of course, one of them will scream, cry or smack one of the others and the pandemonium that ensues wipes my memory clean of that fact. So, I’m putting this here to serve as a reminder to myself.

My other smalls want to post their own signs as well, but I think that for now, we’ll just let this one ride and see what happens. I have never hidden the fact that I have only the loosest of grips on normalcy and if I start posting all kinds of signs on our front door, it will only be a matter of time before I’m setting up billboards on the front lawn and really speaking my mind. And trust me, nobody is ready for that day.

As for this sign? Out of the mouth of babes, my friends.

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.


Sometimes, while driving, the “JERK!” is you. This time it was me.

Dear Guy in the Pick up Truck Leaving the Parking Lot,

The time was approximately 6:43pm on Thursday evening. I was pulling into the parking lot off of Civic Centre Road, while you were waiting to pull out of the same  parking lot onto the road. I failed to signal my turn. It was 28C (after reaching a high of 35C earlier in the day) and both of my front windows were open. As I turned into the lot, you said, loudly enough to ensure that I heard you, “nice signal.” Kind of snide, maybe unnecessary, definitely infuriating, but you weren’t wrong. I was.

Without hesitation or a moment of self-reflection, and for that split second, without regret I answered, equally snidely and loudly enough to ensure that you heard me, “Oh, shut up!” Then, for a few seconds, we were driving parallel to one another, you on the road, me in the parking lot, separated by the tree-lined grassy swale. I saw you look over and with my arm out the window, hanging down the side of my door (out of sight of my children, but still, right?), I flipped you off.

A moment later, I parked my minivan, unpacked my brood, found a spot at a picnic table beside the pitch my son would be playing at and finally, after a very long, full day that started at 6:30 am with four kids, and peaked three hours before soccer with a drive to and from Thornhill during rush hour, while one kid puked in a  bag and the other three alternated between squabbling, singing too loudly and starting car games with ever-changing rules (sometimes all at once), I finally had a moment to breathe in deeply.

And then I was mortified. At the exchange that I had just participated in and escalated with you, a complete stranger. So I am writing this letter of apology, to you, the guy in the pick up truck, leaving the soccer fields by the ROC on Thursday evening. I was in the wrong, I didn’t signal my turn and caused you to delay your turn onto the roadway unnecessarily. What if you were just trying to get home after a long day of your own? In that moment, I didn’t care. I was fed up with being in a car, I was inconsiderate and thoughtless. Rather than throwing out a quick (yet sincere) apology to acknowledge how I inconvenienced you, I reacted defensively, even aggressively. In that nano-second, I justified it with righteous indignation  because how dare YOU have the NERVE to call me out on my mistake/shitty choice/inconsiderate action?

I behaved in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything that I believe in. In direct opposition to the lessons that I spend my days teaching and encouraging my children to learn about how to react to criticism, real or imagined, deserved or harsh. About how to deal with conflict and how to treat others.

So, I owe you an apology. I am sorry. The lady in the blue minivan was 100% in the wrong and you were right.

I will use this event as a learning moment for myself and endeavour to govern myself with the dignity, grace and kindness to which I aspire. Especially in situations when I’m (rightfully) called out for being the jerk.

I wish you a trouble-free day on the roads and the safest travels.

Yours truly,
The imperfect, over-tired, over-heated, and grumpy minivan driver.

P.S. If it makes you feel any better, I was faced with the most obnoxious and unnecessary high beams from an oncoming car on the way home later that evening. I pulled over to the side of the road to wait (driving blind is ill-advised) and didn’t flip the bird as they passed.

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I tried to buy something and failed. Of course.

Anyone who knows me (all three of you), knows that I am obsessive about wearing my sunglasses anytime I am outside. Sunny, cloudy, sun up, sun down, I have them on. I stop just shy of  pulling a Corey Hart and wearing them at night, but I am not far off some days. Aside from how badly the sunlight just plain hurts my eyes, I have been lead to believe that people with blue eyes are more prone to sun-related eye damage and disease (and oh, hey, lookit here, it just may be true!) and I aim to keep my eyesight intact for the duration of my breathing days.

Accepting the truth of my previous statements, one would think that I must invest quite a tidy sum in sunglasses, yes? Well, one would be wrong. For the past ten years, I have been wearing $5.00/pair Giant Tiger sunglasses, and I have purchased four pairs (two identical pairs at a time) over the course of those years. They are durable, claim UVA/UVB protection on the tag, and have nice, dark lenses. Perfect. Or, they were until recently when I realized that the coating on my last surviving pair is bubbling and peeling off. Ugh.

I’ve now officially turned the mundane details of my life into a real thing. Someone save me from myself.

For the past three or so years, I have been debating with myself, thinking that just maybe it is time to buy actual real, quality adult sunglasses. To that end, I regularly check Costco online and this week, when I did, I found these with a cash and carry price in-store of $79.99. Expensive enough to qualify as ‘real adult sunglasses’ but not so expensive as to send me into a full-blown anxiety attack over spending so much money on something I could buy for $5.

Made in Italy. Nice and dark, nothing too flashy (don’t want anything TOO fancy that will compete with my sparkling personality), and just 80’s enough that they make me crave leg warmers and mini skirts again.

As luck would have it, our children continue refusing to give up eating and our rapidly depleting fresh food supply dictated that I was due for a shopping trip to Newmarket, and Costco was on my list of places to hit (5 lbs of organic baby carrots, you say? Yes, please!). So off I went. I pulled into the parking lot, scored a sweet parking spot without having to fist fight a senior citizen for it and wheeled my cart straight over to the optical  counter. I found the sunglasses, tried them on, decided that while I liked the frames, I hated the solid grey arms, so I tried the same pair in a slightly different colour and decided it was a go. I anted up my credit card to the tune of $90+ (tax, dontchu know?), I finished the rest of my shopping (baby carrots, 2 lbs of spinach, parmesan cheese, Skinny Pop (on sale!) and headed back to the mama-van.

It was a super bright and sunny day so I decided rather than saving my new sunglasses for another day (which historically is my m.o. with new things), that I was going to wear them right away. I unzipped the clunky hard case they come in, removed them from the plastic bag and cardboard packaging, put them on and, hated them instantly. The arms were SO long, much longer than the ones that I tried on in the store. They sat funny (and no, it wasn’t just my face, I checked in the visor mirror, the glasses were wonkier than my face). They just didn’t feel right. I debated with myself for a few seconds (I think I may do this more often than is healthy), and then jumped out of the van, locked up and headed back inside to return my disappointing purchase.

The clerk who sold me the glasses was busy with another customer by this time, but another clerk listened to my story, then opened the glasses to look at them, while telling me “you know, we can adjust them” as they fell from  her hand and hit the cement floor, hard. Um, no thanks. I for sure do not want them now that you’ve dropped them on the floor. But I had to say that politely because a) my money had not yet been refunded and b) she was bigger than me. The clerk bent down to pick them up, without a word, all the while acting like she didn’t just drop them, blam! on the floor. She extended the arms and said “these are  stretched out. You know we can still adjust them.” She gave me another pointed look.

Proud to say that I was very adult in that moment and did not scoff, roll my eyes and start my response with “ah, yeah but duh, you just frickin’ dropped them on the floor” but rather, maintaining eye contact (but totally not a creepy, serial killer gaze) I said “actually, this is a rather big purchase for me, and I think that I would like to give it some more thought before making my final decision. Thank you anyway though!” She looked at me like I was a dirty criminal who had stretched out the glasses and was now trying to pull a fast one over on her, but Costco policy reigned supreme and my money was refunded.

And that, long and drawn out story is why I am still wearing my five-dolla Giant Tiger shades and also why it is a very good thing (for me) that society defines ‘adult’ by a person’s chronological rather than mental age, or I would be so totally kicked outta da club.

Crying with my sunglasses on is still better than not having any sunglasses at all. That’s what is called being positive, Janet.

~A.


There is no point to this post

I am a weepy, sad mess today. I want to be invisible, quiet and alone. I won’t be though. I’ve felt it coming on for a few days now, but have ignored the signs and powered through my days, not allowing the tears to come, not allowing ‘it’ to win.

Today, ‘it’ is winning. Yes, I’m telling myself that ‘it’ isn’t real. That ‘it’ too shall pass. That ‘it’ is just part of me, a part that I control and doesn’t control me. But today, ‘it’ is winning.

I know this dance, it’s the one I know best. I will continue to go through the motions of my day. I will make breakfasts, lunches, dinners. I will mediate arguments, delegate chores, repeat myself numerous times, give hugs, soothe boo-boos and fold laundry. I will gather up my youngest four and head to Mass. I will smile. I will have conversations. All the while, I will be folding up inside myself, feeling the twisting and turning in my stomach, bending to the hold that ‘it’ has on me. I will argue with ‘it’ all day and into the night. And no one will know. I won’t share it with those around me, who need me, who love me, who are looking to me to make their worlds right. I won’t burden them with ‘it.’

Today I am especially grateful to have a home to hide in, an endless supply of music to help me steady myself, and access to language and words to write in a feeble effort to begin to untangle the furled crepuscular mass of anxiety, fears, sadness and uncertainty that is tightening its ever-strengthening grip on my inner world.

Yes, today ‘it’ is winning. But I know that ‘it’ won’t always win and that I will find my way back to the resplendent hopefulness and happiness that I know just as well as I know this darkness.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1914- 1954