Puzzling #SOL23 29/31

I came home tired. Scratch that: I woke up tired, even though I woke up before my alarm went off, which I thought was supposed to be a sign that you’re getting enough sleep. I’m here to tell you: that truism is false. Anyway, I was still tired when I came home. There, that statement is more true.

Even though I was tired, I went for a walk because, thanks to Lisa, I have walked at least a mile every day for 1045 days, and a little fatigue is not going to end that streak, thank you very much. While I was walking, it started to rain and, as I got home, the rain turned to snow. I silently railed against the weather. For pity’s sake, it’s the end of March.

I came inside and shook out my jacket. I should have sat down to plan tomorrow’s lessons – the grade 9 class did not even come close to finishing what I had planned for today; the reading class got distracted by – wait for it reading (yes, I did an internal happy dance while I pretended that was totally normal for them to ask to read a news article) – but now I was tired and slightly damp, so instead of working on work, I found myself listening to a podcast and working on the puzzle that has bedeviled me for several weeks.

Hera came to “encourage” me by covering up one of the unfinished spaces.

I persisted. The kids came home. Andre came home. Andre left with one of the kids for a father-son dinner out. I kept puzzling. And I finished. Here it is:

Look, I’m still tired, but I finished a puzzle. Seems like a reasonable outcome.

Don’t you…forget about me #SOL23 27/31

Mornings in our house are a tightly choreographed dance of who is doing what where when: Andre is in the kitchen and I am upstairs; Andre is upstairs and I am in the kitchen; Andre is making breakfast and I am waking the kids; the kids are eating breakfast and I am finishing getting dressed. On it goes, each of us weaving around the others, chatting, moving and generally getting ready. By 8:15, everyone is out of the house.

Except for last Thursday. Last Thursday we thought everything was going along smoothly: Andre had run out to the bakery for our breakfast; I had woken the children and then finished getting ready; Mr. 14 was putting his lunch together in the kitchen while Andre dressed upstairs. I left first, and Mr. 14 followed me. Andre was putting on his shoes, about to head out the door, when he noticed a backpack in the corner of the front room.

A backpack? But the kids had already gone to school.

Except that we had forgotten about Mr. 12. He had stayed up LONG after his bedtime finishing a book (Skander and the Unicorn Thief – he highly recommends it and is already desperate for the sequel which has not yet been released) so when I woke him up, he said hello, sat up, then laid back down, turned over and went back to sleep. In the morning chaos (ahem, choreography) no one noticed a missing 12-year-old. Oops.

Andre slipped his shoes off, woke up the kid, made him some lunch, thrust a bun at him for breakfast and got him out of the house so quickly that Mr. 12 wasn’t even late for school and Andre wasn’t late for work.

We have tried to foist this oversight off on the child, telling him firmly that he cannot read until all hours of the night on a school night, but he knows the truth: we totally forgot about him.

We don’t share with squirrels #SOL23 26/31

On Sundays, Andre cooks. He’s been doing this for a couple of years now – planning a menu for the week, shopping on Saturday, cooking for most (or all) of Sunday morning. While he makes a few things designed to appeal to the kids – like a delicious mac’n’cheese – I am truly the lucky recipient of most of his bounty: blueberry scones, carrot-pomegranate-pistachio salad, baked squash with toasted almonds, eggplant parm, Navajo stew, all sorts of soups, and a recently perfected Caesar salad dressing that is just the right amount of tangy and creamy.

After he’s chopped and toasted and stirred and baked, he turns to his final act: dough. He often makes a loaf of bread for the week, then enlists the kids to help make some sort of bread for their lunches – for a while they made cheese buns; lately it’s been bagels – and he almost always makes us pizza dough for Sunday dinner.

Today, he wanted to make the pizza dough early, but he worried that if he left it too long, it might over-proof. So while I went for my morning walk, he was online looking for ideas to keep the dough just right. When I got back from my walk, the dough was rising in a container on the back porch – apparently the outdoor temperature was just what he was looking for.

After that, we spent the afternoon as we often do: catching up on work, tidying, planning. At some point I went into the kitchen for some water, looked out the back door and saw this:

Cheeky thing. This food is NOT for you!

(Fear not, the dough itself was covered with saran wrap & then I covered the whole thing with a large metal bowl that stymied the squirrels – no pizza dough was sacrificed to the squirrels. Now, as I write, the pizza is cooking and the salad is ready.)

I thank Andre often, of course, but it’s not really enough – how could it be? He spends hours every week doing this activity that is largely designed to take care of us, his family. I don’t intend to share his creations with the wildlife.

PS: Tomorrow is his birthday and he says it’s not really a big one for him so he wants to keep things low-key – so I’m writing today to keep things the way he likes them. But in case you’re wondering, he’s pretty amazing.

Marching through the years #SOL23 25/31

I first saw this format on Elisabeth’s post, and she, in turn, got it from Erica. And Molly, too, wrote about how having her phone available has changed how she takes note of the world. If you follow me on FB or Instagram, you know that I have been walking every day since early in the pandemic and that I started taking pictures not long after I started walking, so I was intrigued by photo posts. Today I had the time to go through my photos and choose from all the March 25th pictures available. Talk about a slice of life!

March 25, 2023 (today)

I walked 5km this morning & took a few pictures. There are a few green shoots here & there, but mostly we still have a lot of snow & ice on the ground. Yesterday, I wrote a haiku that matches today’s picture.

Ice stretched thin across
the mud puddles in the road.
Crystalline beauty.

March 25, 2022

Reflection – tree & wires in a piece of glass on the ground. I remember this being one street over and near our friend Laura’s place. Today (2023) she has an article in the Globe and Mail. I can’t get over how lucky I am to live in this neighbourhood with these people.

March 25, 2021

This makes me laugh because I took a picture almost exactly like this yesterday. Apparently I often spend March looking for colour.

March 25, 2020 – pandemic March

We had spent 8 months in a two-bedroom apartment while our house was being renovated. We finally moved back in the weekend of March 13. (Yes, the weekend things started shutting down – how lucky were we?) The boys were happy to be home & very close after spending a long time sharing a small bedroom.

March 25, 2019

Sometimes, you get home from school, throw your backpack on a pile of snow at the end of the driveway, and go play in the backyard with your friend – just because you can. (Squint & you can see two boys playing in the background.)

March 25, 2018

On the move. Mr. 7 was ecstatic about his newfound ability to get to the top of the doorway. Both boys started parkour classes (and one is at parkour right now as I write!).

March 25, 2018

Meeting our friend’s baby. Just got a hilarious video of that baby – now a kindergartner! – doing a butt wiggle yesterday.

March 25, 2017

Mr. 6 snuggled up with his buddy. Little did we know that the ipad was prep for the pandemic to come.

March 25, 2012

I can do it myself!

Civilization VI #SOL23 16/31

I have spent all day – and I mean the entire day – playing a game. I started last night, went to bed much later than I intended, woke up & was vaguely friendly to my family (who then went out for the day – skiing 😆) and, after they left, started again.

It has been glorious. My mind has been completely engaged in planning a civilization, sending out settlers, city planning, diplomacy and more. I haven’t thought about school at all – heck, I even forgot to write a post this morning and I certainly haven’t started commenting. Instead, I’ve been Eleanor of Aquitaine, carefully building up my cultural and religious influence as I slowly gain power. I’ve fished and farmed and fought (as little as possible of that last; I maintain a big enough army that people don’t really want to attack me). I settled near Halong Bay and constructed Chichen Itza and the Colossus and the Hagia Sofia and more. Cervantes grew up in my empire, as did Rumi, and their writings have made us all very happy.

I’ve played for so long that my brain is seeing hexagons (the tile shape in the game) everywhere. Now, my family has returned and I’ve baked another batch of blondies (thanks to fellow blogger Arjeha who shared the recipe two days ago – because my children ate *the entire pan* yesterday) and I’m going to go for a walk even though the weather remains stubbornly cold and gray. Soon after that I’ll have to put on something other than sweatpants because we’re going out. Sigh.

Nevermind. In Eleanor’s world, I’m building a theater and an aqueduct. The closest volcano has gone extinct and I’ve circumnavigated the globe. I’m fairly certain that another Vietnamese city will soon ask to join my empire because of my amazing culture.

I’m a reader, and I get easily lost in a good book, but if you ever have a need to forget the real world for a few (ok, a lot of) hours, do I ever have a good game for you. (It’s Civ VI – if you didn’t notice that in the title😉.)

The day after Pi Day #SOL23 15/31

These days, it feels like everyone knows about March 14, Pi Day. I know we didn’t do this when I was younger, but now it’s a thing, so I thought about making some sort of pie yesterday, but skipped it because it’s March Break and I didn’t feel like it.

This morning, I came downstairs to find this (it was on my phone, but I needed my phone for the picture):

I’ll admit, it took me a minute. At first, I thought my husband might be referring to one of our new favourite things which a younger colleague recently shared when I was all steamed up: Cave Johnson Lemons

(Really, you should listen. It’s hilarious.)

But… no, I wasn’t quick enough. Here’s our conversation.

I’m pretty sure (but not 100% sure) that the final picture is from the internet and not from his office, but one can never tell: apparently, in our house, we skip Pi Day and go straight for the Ides of March.

What if? #SOL23 14/31

The first time I remember saying that I wanted to be a teacher was when we were living in California and had friends over for dinner. We were in the dining room because there were too many of us for the kitchen table, and I think a few of us kids were seated in a row on one side. One after another, we responded to some adult who had asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. The boy from next door said he was going to be a pilot, like his dad. My youngest sister, who must have been four, declared her intent to be a garbageman. I said I was going to be a teacher. Both of us were met with scoffing laughter, in my case because, “you’re too smart to be a teacher.” 

For years, I assumed that everyone wanted to be a teacher, kind of like lots of little kids want to be construction workers or, like my sister, garbagemen, and then they got over it at some point. I just couldn’t seem to get over it. I nurtured my secret desire while telling well-meaning adults that I planned to be a lawyer or, later, a diplomat. Meanwhile, teaching leaked through my every crack: I taught swim lessons and coached swim teams; I volunteered as a tutor; I nannied. Even though I attended a college that had no education major, I took a course that involved an internship, and convinced the prof to let me work in a third grade classroom; then I took a language acquisition course, then a children’s literature course. None of these were in my major. 

When I finally accepted an overseas teaching position, I packed a stack of graduate school applications, already printed. I started filling them in after my first day in the classroom; I’d sent them all by the end of my second week.

Teaching is who I am; I am as likely to tell a stranger that I am a teacher as that I am a mother. In fact, I can’t imagine someone knowing me and not knowing that I teach, but lately I’ve been wondering… what if I weren’t a teacher? What might I be?

The serious options:

  • A lawyer – I deeply admire my friends who work for justice and equity through the law.
  • An editor – I have been blessed (?) with a brain that sees spelling and grammatical errors quickly and easily, and I’m pretty good at straightening out complicated sentences.
  • A librarian – I had no idea about all the cool things librarians could do. My librarian friends curate art, help with tech, do research for Parliamentarians, and much, much, more. 
  • A nonprofit worker of some sort – which is what I did between college and teaching. I worked for the Red Cross and for a small nonprofit that worked with some UN agencies. It was kind of cool.
  • A psychologist – which, in some ways, isn’t that different from being a teacher.

The wilder options:

  • An actress – obviously (she pirouettes and takes a bow)
  • A former swim champion turned coach – ideally a champion with some medals or something
  • An organizer (one of those people you call to come help you get your house sorted out) – because I am *much* better at organizing other people than myself.
  • A midwife or a doula – in fact, ever since having my first child with a doula alongside me, I’ve imagined doing this, maybe after I retire. What a thrill to help someone bring life into the world!
  • And, in the realm of the completely impossible, a dancer or acrobat – I have precisely zero ability to do this, but every time I attend the ballet or watch Cirque de Soleil, I dream of being able to move my body like that. So impressive.

I’m sure there’s more I’ll remember after I publish this; it’s kind of fun to think about who else I could be. What about you? If you weren’t you, what would you do?

The Day Two Blues #SOL23 12/31

March Break officially started Friday at 3:25. Not that I was counting. (I was counting.) Today is officially day two of nine, and I am in the middle of the day-two blues. 

Friday night we ordered takeout and didn’t tell the children to get off the internet and stayed up too late reading our books. Yesterday I was all, “yay for March Break” and “I slept in” and “let’s just sit around and do puzzles all morning” and “sure, I’d love to take a long walk” and “everyone can forage for dinner.” We watched a movie on Netflix; then we watched several episodes of a show we enjoy because why not? 

Today is day two. I woke early and was thrown off by the time change, even though I knew it was coming. All day, I’ve been less certain of my sloth. I’m not sure if I like the book I started yesterday, I couldn’t quite decide if I should take a nap for so long that it got too late for a nap. I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether today should be a “get it done” day (so things aren’t hanging over me for the rest of break) or a “just kick back” day (because it’s day two). It’s 5:45 now, so it’s actually been a “talk about doing things but don’t do them” sort of day. Not my favourite.

Today, social media is full of photos of friends who’ve arrived at their beach vacations and friends who’ve already hit the ski slopes. Around here, Andre managed to shovel a path to the back shed and I went wild and crazy by taking *two* walks and folding the laundry. No, we did not post pictures.

Today I’ve been staring down the list of things I thought I’d get done during this break and realizing, as I often do, that I may have been a little overly ambitious. Today I’m feeling the full fatigue of the last few weeks. I’m fizzling out. Today, I’ve got the day-two blues. 

So I’ve set out a puzzle and pulled out my knitting. I’ve snuggled into the couch and stayed in my sweats.  I’m choosing some movies and chatting with friends. I’m letting go of (some of the) lists and allowing myself to feel at loose ends. Tomorrow is day three, and there’s no such thing as the day-three blues because it doesn’t rhyme. I can live with that.

Literature made me do it #SOL23 9/31

Look. I’ve slept through my alarm, so my husband has to wake me up, and this morning’s shower is non-negotiable, so in I go even though I am already running late. As I wash my hair I mentally review my closet and select the navy and white sundress even though it is March and still cold because I know I can layer the light gray cardigan over top and no one will be any the wiser. 

I am out of the shower, face cream on, hair combed, mascara on and down the stairs for breakfast in under five minutes. Andre has made me a smoothie – he really is the best – but I have to wait for the water to heat for tea. Breathe. Crossword. The water boils and I pour it over the tea, gulp a little more smoothie, run up the stairs to wake the boys then back down the stairs to stop the tea steeping then back up the stairs to finish getting ready.

Black leggings are obviously a no – the dress is navy. I dig for gray leggings. Nope. The only available tights are also black. I search again for the gray leggings while my brain again mentally scans my closet. Ah, there are the leggings! I dry my hair then brush my teeth, wishing – not for the first time – that I were ambidextrous, a skill I imagine using mostly to do things like dry my hair and brush my teeth at the same time. Superpowers, I think, would be wasted on me.

Ok. Ready. Just socks.


What the heck kind of socks am I going to wear with gray leggings and a navy dress? Gray. I need gray. There are no gray socks in the drawer. I have white – that’s a no – brown, black. I stare at the socks. In the caverns of my mind I hear my stepsister, Jamie, saying, “I’d go with the _______ pair. ______ goes with everything.” I have no idea whether she said “brown” or “black.” ARGH.

Um… Ok, focus on shoes instead. Which shoes will I wear? I slip on a brown pair, then catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror- nope. I grab a navy pair – but with which socks? Precious seconds slip by. Andre walks into the bedroom and stares at me, barefoot, with multiple pairs of socks on the bed and several pair of shoes on the floor. He looks perplexed. “What are you doing?” I explain my conundrum and he suggests solving it with brown boots. Perfect! I zip them up. Not perfect. They look…wrong.

My carpool buddy will be here any minute. I have not had any tea. I need to be ready about three minutes ago. I still haven’t made my lunch. I stare at the sock drawer as if gray socks might magically appear. I remember that I threw out my last pair a few weeks ago – holes. My carpool buddy arrives downstairs. Suddenly, the solution is obvious: Shakespeare socks. I’m an English teacher! Sure, they don’t match, but they say “To be or not to be” so I can claim literature and no one will be the wiser. Precisely no shoes (probably in the world) go with a navy dress, dark gray leggings and blue-ish Hamlet socks with white skulls and green crowns, so I throw on some navy slides, rush down the stairs, toss a bit of tea down my throat, grab my lunch and run out the door.

No one commented all day long, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the more unusual outfits I have worn in a while. Whatever. March Break starts in under 24 hours. And tomorrow I’m wearing jeans.

Not a soccer mom #SOL23 6/31

Confession: I am a terrible soccer mom. I was a little shocked to discover this about myself, but it’s true nonetheless. I didn’t start out this way. I played soccer growing up. My dad coached; my mom watched; my sisters played – it was a family thing. So, when the kids were little, I dutifully signed them up for soccer and volunteered to help coach their teams, but eventually, I realized that I was more interested in the game than they were. Evidence:

Yes, that is my (younger) child. Yes, he is *inside* the ball bag. No, he did not want to play.

So, the kids stopped playing on teams and I stopped coaching. Life went on.

Both kids are pretty athletic (as I am not), and my older child never stopped playing the game with buddies, but he didn’t join a team again until this year. Then, he made the high school team, too. Suddenly, I have an app on my phone and there are uniforms and practices and games and tournaments and so so many emails. I know that this is part and parcel of youth sports, but it turns out, I’m a terrible soccer mom. Evidence:

I ignore a lot of the emails.

The app made me crazy, too, so I made my partner download it.

Which means I really should read the emails.

We are often late to practice. Sometimes it is my fault.

I do not know the names of all the boys on the team. (In fairness to me, my child does not like it when I ask him things like the names of the boys on the team, so I stopped.)

I definitely do not know the parents of the boys on the team.

I often take walks during the outdoor games. 

I often do crosswords during the indoor games.

I accidentally missed today’s semi-final because I was walking (In my defense, my son is injured and was not playing AND I had been told the game was starting later AND I didn’t know that the playoff games were shorter. Which I probably should have known. But whatever.)

The truth is that I’m a little surprised that I don’t want to be more involved, but I don’t. Maybe it’s because he didn’t play for so long or because when he started again this year, he asked me not to watch while he got used to playing again. Mostly, though, it’s because it’s his thing, not mine. One way or another, I’m not really a soccer mom, and I’m making my peace with that.