• That Time My Wallet Was Stolen*

    My mom called me earlier tonight, but I was in the middle of putting the kids down and had to let it go to voicemail. She left me a message about needing a small favor, and asked me to call back after 8. M and I snuck downstairs to put the final coat of paint on some doors we’re working on, then I finally had a minute to call her back.

    She’s been working on something for church this Sunday, and asked me if it would be okay if she could share the story of something that happened to me when I was 13. It was something I haven’t thought about in years, but it’s really one of my favourite memories. It’s a reminder that even when I am feeling alone, I have always been surrounded by really, really amazing people.

    (Many of them coming from my beloved home in the North.)

    Luckily, I have always been a writer. I wrote this story out in detail shortly after it happened, and I found the file tucked away in an old folder I haven’t looked in in years. I’m so glad that I did–there were details I had long forgotten that I’m glad won’t be missed.

    I just did a quick post search, and I don’t think I’ve ever told this story here. If I have, let this just be a refresher. It’s worth reading twice.

    When I was 13, I got to go on a trip to Toronto with all the Grade 8 students from my school. Now that might not sound like a big deal down here, but when you’re 13 and living in a tiny town 8 hours away–it’s very exciting. I saved all my paper route money for months so that I could have some spending money while I was there. I managed to pull together $225–more than I had ever really had at one time before.

    Everything about Toronto was exciting. I still have that feeling of awe when I come into the city, regardless of how many times I’ve been there. I love it. I have always loved it. Toronto just… speaks to me.

    The first day of the trip was amazing. I can’t remember our itinerary now, but it was magical. We had so many things planned for the week, and one of the things I was most excited for was going to see a 3D IMAX for the first time. The theater was massive and packed with people. We were slated to see two shows that night, and in between movies I made a mad dash for the bathroom. Being the inexperienced small town girl that I was, I had all my money with me in my cool leopard print wallet.

    After all, keeping it in my purse was way safer than leaving it at the hotel, right? Right.

    I vaguely remember setting my wallet down while I went to the bathroom, then in my hurry to get back to the theater, I must have left it behind. I didn’t realize it was missing until I was back in my seat and opened my purse again. I ran back to the bathroom to look for it, but by that point it–and my $225–were long gone.

    My mom was actually on the trip with me as a chaperone, and together we searched everywhere. We found some sympathetic IMAX security guards who helped us look with no luck. Our wonderful bus driver even got in on the search, but it was just… gone.

    I was devastated. We called home so that I could talk to my Dad, but even his offer to help replace part of what I had lost did little to console me. I had worked so hard to earn that money, and of course, our highly anticipated big shopping excursion to Square One was happening the next day. My classmates learned what had happened through whispers along the bus aisle, and though they tried to cheer me up, I remember crawling into bed at the hotel and crying myself to sleep.

    The next morning I was in no hurry to leave the hotel. I was one of the last ones to get on our bus, and I found an empty seat near the back where I thought I could hide away.

    I felt a tap on shoulder from behind me. I turned to see the face of a boy in my class. He smiled at me, and handed me a crisp $20 bill. Staring at the money in my hands, I quietly asked what it was for. His words brought tears to my eyes: he had felt badly about what happened, and wanted to donate to the “H Fund”. Before I had a chance to reply, I saw another $20 fall into my lap. Crying, I looked up to see the face of another boy I was good friends with, and behind him were several more of my classmates.

    As I sat on the bus, kids who didn’t have much money themselves were sending $5, $10 and $20 dollar bills down the aisle. Before long I had a wad of cash in my lap, and as I choked out a humble “Thank You” the entire bus started to cheer.

    A short time later we pulled up at McDonalds, and my teacher held me back as the rest of the kids filed into the restaurant for breakfast. He quietly handed me an envelope with $50 in it. I began to protest that it was too much, but he simply closed my hands around the envelope, and with a wink and a smile he told me that he always brought “emergency money” in case something like this happened.

    My mom and I sat on the bus and counted the money together. In all, I had been given $230–all that I had lost, plus five dollars. I ran into the restaurant to tell my class, and I’ll never forget how everyone cheered (completely ignoring the looks from all the regular customers who were already annoyed that the restaurant was full of kids).

    I never did find my wallet. I’ve decided to think that maybe the person who took it needed that money much more than I did. In any case, in taking my wallet they actually gave me something worth so much more than those hard earned dollars: an incredible reminder that I know some pretty amazing people. Kids who selflessly gave from what they had simply because their friend was sad. They saw a need, and they filled it. My purse was empty, but that day… my heart was full. I’ve lost touch with some of those kids over the years, but many of them are still some of my favourite people on this earth. I swear, Northern Ontario makes some pretty dang good people and I’m so lucky to know them.

    I’m a lucky hot dog. <3

  • Going Back to Work. Maybe.

    I’m thinking about maybe going back to work.

    I’ve been hemming and hawing about this for months… about when the “right time” would be. The more I think about it, I don’t really think there will ever be a perfect time. Eventually I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and do it.

    It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed supply teaching–I really have. More than I thought I would, to be honest. I’m still considering just trying to actively pursue that every day, instead of just working a day or two here and there as I have been the past five months.

    A couple of weeks ago I had a call to my old school… and it was like I never left. The kids I taught were great, I loved being back in my old department and the office staff was really excited to see me.

    …but that wasn’t even the best part. I know the teacher I was covering for, and she left me an actual lesson to teach. I started teaching, saw the lightbulbs go on for a few kids and it just made me so happy. I loved it.

    In that minute, I really realized how much I missed it. All of it. Being home has been wonderful, but I love my job too.

    So, I’m kind of sort of looking. I’m not committed yet, but I feel like maybe I could manage it. I’m not so anxious to go back that I’ll apply to every job (like I used to do), but if a job came up at a school I love then I might apply and see what happens. Part of me is terrified to do it, but the other part is really excited. I think it might be insane, but at least with an LTO it’s only 5 months. If it’s a total disaster trying to balance home and work life than I can always go back to supply teaching next fall.

    It’s hard, you know? I do love being home… but I’m also SO CLOSE to finally, finally paying off my student loan and I think it could be so lovely to have that in my rearview window.

    In any case, I’ll keep you posted. Right now it’s all just ideas and dreams… the postings are all coming out in the next week or so and we’ll see what happens!

  • Sparking Joy All Over My House*

    I’ve been meaning to sit down and write for several days, but it’s been a wild week. Miss S was quite sick last week and long story short, we ended up spending several hours in emerge as she just couldn’t stop vomiting. She had been doing really well on the antibiotics for strep throat, but within 36 hours of finishing them, she was completely laid out with some kind of nasty virus. My doctor was worried about dehydration and referred us to the hospital as she wanted S on an IV. The vomiting finally slowed down while we were waiting in emerge, and the doctor there was able to give her some kind of super power gravol to make her stomach settle and keep some fluids in. We stayed quiet for a few days after, and she’s doing much better. Her stomach is still a little sensitive, but no more crazy symptoms. The last three weeks have had more fevers and vomit than I care to experience in a year.

    (Hear that universe? I can be done with all that now. Thanks.)

    I do have a legitimate reason for not writing though… and for that, you can blame Netflix. I have been binging, but not on a show.

    I’ve been binge-cleaning my entire house, sparking joy right and left.

    While I was scrolling Facebook in my near-death-tired state at the hospital in the middle of the night, I saw someone post about this new tidying up show and how they were purging their entire house as a result.

    I’m not the best at it, but I love organizing and cleaning so I was sold just at the title. I made a little mental note to check it out when I was, you know, alive, and went back to my zombie mom scrolling. I finally got around to watching it the next night.. and didn’t even make it through the whole first episode before I started making piles. I’ve been Marie Kondoing my whole house and I LOVE IT.

    If you haven’t heard of it yet, the show is called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She is the supreme leader of converting chaos to calmness within a home. In the show, she works with regular, average families and helps them reevaluate their possessions. There are five categories she works through, and by the end the transformations are incredible.

    To be perfectly honest, none of what she does is rocket science…. but what I love about her method is that everything revolves around joy, and intentional possessions. She often asks, “Is this something you want to take with you into your future?” and something about that just clicked with me.

    There are a lot of things in our home that we have accumulated over the years that we’ve kept because we didn’t really have any good reason not to. But we’re also at a point where our children are getting bigger and our house is getting smaller… and rather than buying a bigger house to fill with more things, I’d rather repurpose the space that I do have.

    So, I’ve been sparking joy. (Watch the show. You’ll understand.)

    Since I’ve started watching, I’ve:

    –Downsized to a smaller dresser we had in storage and sold the larger one
    –Listed (and sold) four other things we’ve just been keeping around
    –Cleaned out and organized storage behind and under the couch
    –Gutted our home office & guestroom. Reorganized and cleaned the entire room, donating multiple bags and over 20 of M’s books.
    –Reorganized my “junk drawer” in the kitchen and donated a large bag of unused or spare kitchen tools
    –Donated several books that I’ve finished reading and no longer need to keep
    –Reorganized the kids’ dresser with small boxes inside the drawers, and donated a large pile of excess clothes
    –Went through my own wardrobe (and shoes) and donated another pile there
    –Pulled apart the storage space on our food storage shelves and donated another large bag of items

    I’m even getting the kids involved. They had a wonderful Christmas and got some amazing gifts from our families. I am a firm believer that there is such a thing as too many toys, so on Saturday afternoon S, H an I sat down in the living room and went through every. single. bin. We made three piles: things they love and play with all the time, things they play with sometimes, and things they don’t play with anymore. We looked at every single toy we had, and made three big piles. The things they didn’t play with anymore went straight into a garbage bag. The things they love went right back into our toy bins. Then we went through the “sometimes” pile together and added half to the bag and the rest we kept. It felt really good to involve them in the process, and I was able to give the toys to a friend who runs a home daycare down the street. Win win.

    I feel like I’m on fire with this and I don’t want to stop. This show has motivated me to clean out and organize those spaces that were sort of out of sight so they didn’t bother me all the time… but I always knew that they were there so it was always in the back of my mind. It’s making me feel like I’m more in control of my house, and not that my stuff is controlling me.

    So, that’s where I’ve been. My regular writing time has been spent mucking out my house and it feels so so good. Cleaning and tidying really does bring Joy. <3

    Time to go fold some shirts.

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