Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Year Later...

Janelle's new bike — March Break
I've been absent for quite a stretch this month! I blame it on March Break and too many dentist appointments. I've also added extra days to my volunteering schedule. Last week, the first after the break, I was either at the school or the dentist every day. I received two complaints today from two of my most faithful readers (you know who you are!), so I decided to dash off a quick one before the kids get home from school.

March 13th marked our first anniversary living in this house in London. I mentioned it to Chris and the kids that day, and we all commented on how much has happened this year, but also about how quickly the year has flown by. In most ways, it still feels like we're the "new kids in town", but we do have a number of good friends now, and we're involved in our church and our community. We have a couple of babysitters that we call on a regular basis, so Chris and I can get out on our own again, which was a big hurdle a few months ago. I'm part of a book club that I look forward to attending every month. I have a couple of dear friends who get together each week to have lunch, share whatever is on our hearts, and generally support each other. I volunteer at the school at least twice a week, and I'm part of the planning committee for a Literacy Night coming up this month. Chris and I attend a Community Group through our church weekly, and we've made some great friends there. I even found a walking buddy! And as always, I'm volunteering in the Kids Ministry at our church, which our kids are happy to be part of. In many ways, we have settled into our new community and found a place for ourselves. Things have changed a lot since I started this blog, just over a year ago.

Connor's new Ripstick — March Break
But we're still Maritimers at heart! This weekend Chris, Connor and I were excited to be able to cheer the UNB hockey team on to the national title, as we watched the tournament held at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton on TV in our living room in London. It was nice to capture a bit of home as we watched and cheered, especially when UNB shut out Western! Chris looked forward to gloating to a number of his collegues who are Western Alumni. We still grab hold of pieces of our Maritime heritage and hold on to them tightly. Chris found a sale on Paderno pots a couple of weeks ago and decided that our old pots and pans desperately needed replacing, which was true. So we now have a full new set of Paderno pots, proudly made in PEI. We both love the fact that they are Maritime made! Connor loves to tell anyone who will listen that his favourite place in the world is New Brunswick, with Mexico coming in a close second. Both of the kids would say the highlights of their year have been their visits "back home" in the summer and after Christmas. It's been a year that we've been here. But we're still very tied to the Maritimes. And that's just fine with me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Volunteer Bug

For the last little while I've fallen into a bit of a negative attitude regarding my teaching career. I love teaching, and I always thought at this stage of my life I would be actively employed and enjoying a successful teaching career. My kids are old enough that they don't need me to be home all the time, and I really need the added dimension in my life that a job brings.

Unfortunately, getting a teaching job in this city is practically impossible. The reality that I am going to have to wait possibly two years to get on a supply list is very discouraging. I met with the principal of my kids' school yesterday, and she was very happy to give me some advice, but her biggest warning was "Be patient". She did, however, take me around the school and introduce me to several teachers whom I had not yet met, suggesting some volunteer opportunities beyond just my kids' classrooms. Since Christmas I have been volunteering in Janelle's classroom once a week, and I'm thinking I may bump that up to two mornings a week. Her teacher seems very happy to have me there, and it is a way of getting me into a school. I also met a kindergarten teacher who seemed excited about the possibility of having me join her class once a week.

Soooo... maybe I can work up a schedule that finds me in a classroom three or four mornings a week. It certainly couldn't hurt my career, and it would make me visible and familiar with the routines in this school so that when I do get on a supply list I'll be the one they want to call. I think I'm liking this idea. I think I've been bitten by the volunteer bug. I'll be teaching again. I won't get paid for a while, but someday I will. It is definitely a way of taking the situation and forcing myself to think positive.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mom's Antennae

The first night after we brought Connor home from the hospital he slept in his own room, and we kept the baby monitor on in our bedroom. Neither of us slept a wink. We heard every breath Connor took, every rustle he made, practically every heartbeat. That was the end of that. We never brought a baby monitor into our room again. Connor's room was just across the hall from ours, and we were both able to sleep soundly, but I still heard every tiny wimper he made. God gives mothers special ears. I call it Mom's antennae. There is something about childbirth that enhances our hearing.

Last night, I don't even know what I heard but suddenly I sat up in bed and said "Chris.... Nellie!" I sleep on the far side of the bed from the door and I was immediately afraid I wouldn't get to her in time. I took off running. Chris didn't hear a thing before my footsteps pounding toward the door. Sure enough, the stomach flu had hit our house, taking our baby girl down for the count. It was around 2:30 a.m., and I don't think I fully fell back to sleep before the second time I heard a noise. It was about 4:15 and it sounded like a cough, magnified so that it sounded like it was right next to my ear. This time I had to change her sheets, so I woke Chris to sit with her in the bathroom while I gathered the laundry, carried it down to the washing machine, and put fresh sheets on the bed. All the while, Chris sat on the floor in the hallway shaking his head and saying "I don't understand how you heard her". Mama's ears — one of God's amazing gifts.

My last interuption was around 5:30 a.m. Chris didn't rouse at all for that one, although he murmured something about "Sorry you're having a rough night" when I climbed back into bed. I reset my alarm for 7:30 and finally settled into a sound sleep. Today, Janelle and I have stayed pretty close to my bed. I got up for lunch, and she has stayed to watch TV. We read some of a chapter book for a while. She still isn't able to even keep water down, so she hasn't eaten at all, and she is pathetically pale. But she's content to stay in my bed and doze and look at books and watch her shows, even when I go downstairs. She knows I'll hear her if she needs me. She has perfect faith in Mama's ears.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Speechless Over "The King's Speech"


Perfect casting. Inspiring story. Heartbreakingly moving. Beautifully crafted.

What more can I say about this incredible movie? Well, I'll give it a try.

From the opening moments when my heart ached for this dear man trying desperately to utter just a few words in front of a crowd of thousands, at his father's insistence, I was hooked. From that first scene until the very end I loved every single minute. No exaggeration. This is a wonderful movie. If it had not won the Oscar it would have been a crime.

But it did win the Oscar! And so did Colin Firth, whose portrayal of Bertie, the future King George VI, could not have been more poignant. He made me want to cry and laugh and cheer, sometimes all at once! I was able to completely leave behind every previous notion of Colin Firth as a confident and articulate actor, and truly feel that he was trapped behind such a profound stammer that the words simply had no way out of his mouth. The nominations of all the principal actors were well deserved. Geoffrey Rush was endearing as the speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and watching the friendship blossom between these two men, the first friendship Bertie had really ever experienced, was just beautiful and utterly believable.

I think the portrayal that fascinated me most, for personal reasons, was Helena Bonham-Carter's Elizabeth, Duchess of York. I have no memory of King George VI; he died long before I was born. But I am very familiar with his wife. Growing up, I was very much a "royal watcher". On July 29, 1981, I got up at 6 a.m. to watch Charles and Di's wedding, and again in 1986 to see Andrew marry Fergie. Two years later, I stood in line for hours in a park in Summerside, PEI, to shake Princess Diana's hand. I watched every documentary and tv movie on the royal family that I could find. So I am very well acquainted with the Queen Mother, and I think Helen Bonham-Carter must have channelled her to give such a pitch-perfect performance. The accent and inflection in her voice was exactly like the Queen Mother; the way she carried herself was perfect; I swear she even had the same twinkle in her eye that I remember catching so many times in photos or on film. I had no trouble believing that this was Elizabeth, Duchess of York, 75 years ago. Bonham-Carter's portrayal made the love story between Elizabeth and her husband all the more lovely. I've grown to think of royal marriages as somewhat cold, but the movie showed theirs to be anything but. This was a woman who adored her husband, and whose heart ached for him as he struggled to speak.

I am thrilled that Tom Hooper won the Oscar for Best Director. He truly created a masterpiece. Every shot was beautifully framed. The colours, the costumes, the spare yet opulent (oxymoron?) sets. It all contributed to a wonderful atmosphere, one that set the viewer up to be inspired. When the newly crowned king finished his first wartime speech at the end of the movie I wanted to stand up and cheer. I just felt so full of triumph! What a way to start a war!

I don't know what else to say. I am speechless. If you haven't already, go see this movie.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Too Much Time at the Dentist!

We have a new dentist. No surprise, since we've had a new everything in the past year. She is lovely; very competent, friendly and kind to my kids. The problem is, I feel like I am living at her office these days!

It started with Janelle's check-up on Feb. 1. Janelle has teeth that are terribly prone to cavities. Before this year, she'd had seven fillings in her short life. I brace myself for the news every time I take her for a check-up. She has only had one visit when the dentist has not found a cavity, and I've been assured there is really not much I can do to improve that. Janelle takes very good care of her teeth. Much better care, in fact, than her cavity-free brother does! So I wasn't surprised when our new dentist told me that Janelle would need two new fillings this year. I made the appointments right away. No point postponing the inevitable. The one saving grace is that Janelle doesn't mind fillings at all, or any trips to the dentist for that matter. I think she relishes the ooohs and aaahs of the dentist and all her staff over what a good girl she is, hopping up in the chair with a smile on her face. Both our old and new dentists have sworn they've never seen anything like her. Small consolation for a mouth full of fillings, but we'll take what we can get.

So we headed back to the dentist of February 7 and 15 for those two fillings. Then on Feb. 24 I had my own check-up, sorely needed, I'm afraid, since it had been nearly two years since my last. I was told I have the beginnings of gum disease (tsk, tsk, not enough flossing), and was given half a laser treatment that day to reverse the effects. Tuesday I was back for the other half of the treatment, and assured that "it's working already". I also have two appointments made for later in March when I'll get one new filling, and have an old one replaced.

Today it was Connor's turn. I told the dentist I'm starting to feel like I live in her office! I feel like the receptionists and I are old friends. I think I've met all the staff. My new dentist doesn't feel like my "new" dentist anymore. Connor is less comfortable with dental visits, primarily because he just hasn't had as many as his little sister. He has great teeth. No previous cavaties. No problems at all. Until today. Today we found out that he, like his mother, has not been flossing nearly enough. Gingivitis is rearing its ugly head. He needs to seriously make a habit of flossing and return to the dentist in three months, and if there is not an improvement, he also will need a laser treatment like I had. Oh, yeah, and he has his first cavity. Not one he could have prevented with better hygiene, I was assured, since it formed underneath the sealants he had gotten several years ago. He needs a filling. Another appointment.

So between my fillings and Connor's we'll be visiting the dentist three more times in March. Then in April the trips to the orthodontist begin. It seems my kids don't have room in their mouths to allow their adult teeth to grow in. Ugh. Too much time at the dentist! I'm ready to stop thinking about teeth!