Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Graduation

I'm not a very emotional person when it comes to my children's milestone achievements.

Unlike many, I didn't get all that weepy when I finished nursing my last child (although I thoroughly enjoyed nursing all three Things).

When holding a newborn and friends or family members ask me,

"Doesn't that make you want another one?"

The answer is always a resounding, "NO".

When, as babies, the three Things spoke their first words, took their first steps, peed on the potty for the first time, and got their first haircuts, I was not a hormonal wreck. I didn't cry or get nostalgic, I simply felt proud and was confident that things happen for a reason and all these goals were being reached, not to lament the loss of something in the past but to reach for future achievements and celebrate the inevitable.

And although I'm fighting this one, I think I possibly noticed a glimmer of something wet and shiny in the corner of my eye the other day when I disassembled this:

And placed two-year-old Thing 2 in her new big girl bed for the first time.


She handled the whole situation with grace and dignity, as she always does. She's slept in her bed two nights in a row and hasn't once gotten out to explore the new accessible world around her. I suspected she was ready to move into the bed a couple months ago . . . when she began climbing in and out of her crib with no problems.

So, there we have it friends. The crib that hosted all three Things for some crucially important months of sleep is no more. There are really no more "babies" around here and I am the mother to three little people who sleep in beds.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bicycle Helmet Safety


March's mild temperatures and beautiful spring-like weather have opened garage doors across the Capital. Adults and children alike have pumped up their tires, greased up their chains, donned biking attire and hit the open road.

What am I missing? Oh, right. BICYCLE HELMETS.

I am appalled at the number of Ottawa cyclers who do not wear helmets. It truly disgusts me. It is becoming a daily occurrence for me to deal with the following conversation:

"MOMMY!! That man is not wearing a bike helmet!" Thing 1 belts out at the top of his lungs.

"That is SO dangerous, mommy, he could really get hurt and could injure himself and do damage to his head," he adds.

Mental note - kid is actually taking in some of the information I throw at him.

"WHY isn't he wearing a helmet, mommy?" Thing 2 chimes in.

Pause. Deep breath.

"He should be wearing a helmet, shouldn't he?" I proclaim. "Sometimes grown-ups don't make the best decisions, and I think that not wearing a helmet was a poor decision for this man to make."

I struggle to remain diplomatic when what I really want to explain to my three children is that this man, and other adults like him who don't wear helmets, is a #$@*&% jerk who should know better. Who should wear a helmet for his own personal safety and well-being, as well as to be a role model for younger generations also hopping on their bikes and taking to the national capital's roads and streets.

The situation worsens as we see a young girl about eight years old at our neighbourhood park, riding down the bike path helmet-less.

"That girl should be wearing a helmet!!" the three Things exclaim in unison.

"Yes, she should," I tell them. "It is not safe for her to be riding her bike at the park without a helmet."

And since an adult - who I assumed was her father - was within ten metres of her I decided to toss some of the responsibility his way.

"It is also important that a parent checks your helmet for proper fit and makes sure it is on correctly," I add. "A parent or guardian should be making sure that little girl has a helmet to wear."

I work hard to instill in my three Things a sense of safety, a desire and responsibility in them to be careful, play safe, and to follow the rules. I don't appreciate when other members of society decide to throw caution to the wind and make their own decisions about safety. Every time you don't wear a helmet - and my children see you - you are causing them to question the reasons I ensure they wear a helmet every time they ride their bikes, use their skateboards, or jump on their scooters.

It is the law for anyone in Ottawa under the age of eighteen to wear a helmet. Accidents happen all the time, and absolutely no one is exempt from this. I remember with sadness the untimely death of Carl Gillis in 1996. Carl was a popular and well-known leader of Carleton University's student council when I was a student there in the mid nineties. He was athletic, smart, and well-liked. He was a fellow Nova Scotian and I looked up to him as a leader and role model. While roller-blading along Dow's Lake in 1996, he fell backwards on a bump in the path, hit his head, and subsequently died. You can read more on a bill that was proposed to make helmets mandatory for adults and on Carl's death here.

I think what this taught me was that this can happen to anyone. If it could happen to Carl, then it could happen to me. It may not be your fault if another cyclist or rollerblader swerves and hits you, but the potential most certainly exists for you to fall, and hit your head. Head injuries are not pretty (as a teacher and past skating coach, I have seen many), and they can create long-term brain damage, or in the worst scenario, death.

Please wear a bike helmet. Please ensure it fits properly. Wear it all the time. Set a good example for the children in your neighbourhood, and all across Canada, by being a responsible cycler.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

hydraSense® Nasal Aspirator Blog Tour

I don't usually participate in blog tours or promote products on my blog, mostly because I rarely come across a product I really love enough to discuss it openly here.

However . . . I am making an exception this time.

Having encountered the "baby years" with a grand total of three children, you can imagine how many times the dreaded cold has made itself comfortable in our home. No matter how careful I was, or what heroic steps I took, all three of my Things managed to succumb to colds and stuffy noses when they were infants.
If you're a parent, you can undoubtedly relate.

There's no feeling like the panic of waking up in the middle of the night wondering if your baby can breathe properly, or listening to her struggle to get any into her tiny windpipe.
The experienced developers at hydraSense® have designed a new product that provides quick and effective relief from a baby’s nasal congestion and helps avoid excessive crying and poor sleeping. Which is a huge benefit to mom *and* baby.

The hydraSense® Nasal Aspirator is a gentle and safe way to relieve baby’s nasal congestion quickly and effectively. The aspirator is easy to use and allows you to control how much suction is being used to remove mucus. The nasal tip is gently placed in your baby's nose, and then you inhale through the mouthpiece to draw out the mucus.
I'll admit, it did sound a bit "gross" to me at first, but my curiosity got the best of me and I had to give it a try. It's truly easy to use. My daughter is two and I tried the Nasal Aspirator on her and it worked fabulously . . . until she yanked it out of her nose. It does say clearly on the box that it is for newborns and infants, and I am sure it works much better on younger babies!

If you don't believe me, check out this
youtube link and see the Nasal Aspirator in action. Pretty cool.

As a chronic worrier, I would be filled with angst and frustration when my daughter had stuffy noses as a baby. With two older brothers in school picking up germs everywhere and bringing them home, she was often sick when she was an infant. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't sleep, and the bulb nasal aspirator we had at home never worked (although once Things 1 and 2 realized they could squirt water with it, it worked as an excellent water gun). I couldn't do anything to clear her nasal passageway and would basically sit up for hours every night holding her tiny head upright so she could get in as much air as possible.


Another product with which I was quite pleased was the hydraSense® Easydose®, which enables you to liquefy mucus prior to aspiration. It is a nasal solution composed of isotonic, undiluted, sterile, 100% natural-source desalinated seawater. It contains more than 70 trace elements and minerals naturally occurring in seawater and is preservative-free. The small doses allow you to put a couple drops of the solution in your child's nose - and this product is for older children too, so it worked well for four-year-old Thing 2 and six-year-old Thing 1.


My husband's cousin introduced me to the world of the
neti pot last summer when I was suffering from allergies, and it really changed my way of thinking about noses and nasal care in general. I love the neti pot and use it often, so I was thrilled to find a similar nasal solution that was easy to use for my children.

For those interested, click
here by April 10, 2010 to sign up for the Dolphins Club and download a coupon. Enter the code MC2010 under the online coupons tab, in order to get an $8 off coupon to be used towards the purchase of the hydraSense® Nasal Aspirator (Coupon itself expires December 31, 2010).

"I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central and received a Mom Central gift pack to thank me for taking the time to participate."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cleared the First Hurdle


I turned off the van and rotated my keys to release them from the ignition. I opened the door and stepped out and squinted in the bright morning sunshine, suddenly jolted awake by a crisp, cold March breeze. I shoved the keys in my jacket pocket and stood in the parking lot for a solid thirty seconds.

I walked.

I opened the huge doors to this large, mammoth building and cautiously granted myself permission to move inside.

People were busy working, some moving around from room to room, some walking down hallways and entering doorways. I nonchalantly stepped over to the sign marked "Reception". A woman in her fifties sat busily typing at her computer, oblivious to the bundle of nerves and hormones standing in front of her.

I shuffled my papers around to make some noise. She looked up. She made eye contact and gave me that once-over that seemed to demand, "what do you want?". I cleared my throat.

"I'd like to drop some paperwork off for HR," I somehow managed to blurt out.

I wasn't sure how I had summoned the courage to speak.

"There is a mailbox in the Client Services room. You can put it in there."

"Where is the Client Services room?" I heard myself asking, even though I knew very well where it was and had been there dozens of times in the past.

She pointed.

I took a deep breath which I hoped would provide me with enough emotional fuel to make it across the spacious foyer to the other side of the building. A couple of women dressed in appropriate work attire walked past me, their high heels clicking rhythmically across the unyielding, cold floor. I glimpsed my own white, scuffed Skechers and somehow felt inadequate. I felt hundreds of eyes on me as I squeak, squeak, squeaked my way to the Client Services room.

Hmmm, I thought. There was no one there to "serve" me. I immediately found the mail box labeled "Human Resources" and moved closer to it. I paused. I breathed. My heart began to beat quickly and my hands started to tremble ever-so-slightly. Anxiety. A feeling with which I am very familiar.

I yearned for somebody - anybody - to reach out to me.
I ached for some lone School Board employee to place a gentle and reassuring hand on my shoulder and comfort me, to let me know that everything was going to be all right. To tell me they'd been in my position at some point, and that things turned out fine for their family, that everyone adjusted and was happy and healthy. As I began to feel I was drowning in my own narcissism, I stepped forward and did what I had come there to do.

I dropped my paperwork through the mail slot. It hit the bottom of the box with a resounding thud. I stared. I contemplated sticking my own hand through the 2 cm slot and pulling the envelope back out, or running back to Reception to beg the middle-aged receptionist who'd seemingly had no compassion for my emotional state to open the box so I could retrieve my paperwork. I would tell her I'd made a huge mistake, that I shouldn't have checked off the "returning to work" box at all. That I had meant to check off "resign" but in a moment of weakness had decided to go back to work after all.

Instead I just stood there for a few minutes. Incredulous that no one else entered the Client Services room while I was there, I took my time and gained my composure. I took deep breaths and walked out of the building, just as I had entered. I walked back to my van, I opened the door and sunk into the driver's side seat.

I placed the key in the ignition and I turned it gently clockwise, listening to the roar of my starting engine as I backed out of my parking spot.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Steering His Own Path

A warm, spring-like breeze whipped across my face as I crooked my neck to turn around and see what all the commotion was about.

"DADDY'S COMIN' " Thing 3 screamed at the top of her very tiny, but surprisingly loud, two-year-old lungs. This was her regular 5:00 p.m. ritual. To ensure that everyone in a 500 yard radius knew that her father was returning home from work for the day.

I could see my husband's silhouette walking toward us in the western sunlight. (Western meaning he was coming from the west, not that we live in the west. Because we don't. We live in Eastern Ontario.)

I held my breath for a moment as I watched Thing 2 glance down the street and see his father walking toward him, halfway down the block. He looked at me, for encouragement, for direction, waiting for me to guide him and tell him what to do.

"You can do it," I said softly. I nodded, my non-verbal cue for him to give it a go.

He pushed several times with the tip of his left brown, velcroed, Geox sneaker and then ever-so-cautiously jerked that left foot onto the black, rectangular bike pedal. The bright green bike's handlebars wobbled like a Weeble for a brief second, and then my boy's strong, firm, four-year-old arms steadied them. His tiny legs began to pedal and he drifted down our crescent only looking up to meet his dad's face as it practically exploded with pride.

Things 1 and 3 sprinted down the street behind their two-wheelin' brother as fast as they could. My heart was melting, which somehow made their screams of "HE DID IT!!" and "WE LOVE YOU AND ARE SO PROUD OF YOU" somewhat inaudible.

His father's hug and approval and encouragement made the hours we had spent that afternoon, falling off the bike, getting back on the bike, kicking the bike, screaming at the bike . . . unequivocally and completely worth it.

You all know that I worry about Thing 2 because he is the middle child. And it's for that reason that I really revel in the little glories and successes my little man encounters. Like riding a two-wheeler bike, on his own, with no training wheels, at four-and-a-half years old. At an earlier age than his older brother had.

Yup, that's my boy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Crafty Mom Stamps

You may notice a new button on the right sidebar of my blog - I have finally launched my stamping blog, A Crafty Mom Stamps. I had a fabulous Ottawa blogger do my header for me and I really love it - so I'm sending a big thank you out to Lynn from Diary of a Turtle Head. It suits me perfectly and is exactly what I was looking for.

I will be posting my stamping information, workshops, and cards on that site now in order to keep my business stuff separate from A Crafty Mom's Blog. I'd love it if you would take a look!

Guess What I Did Yesterday?

Nothing says spring like the fresh, airy scent of crisp sheets on your bed that have been dried in the breeze outside. I feel somehow better rested having slept on sheets dried in my own backyard. And while spring doesn't actually arrive for a few more days, the 3 Things and I couldn't help but soak up the beauty of the warmth and sunshine that made itself home in Ottawa over the past week or so.

Bikes, skateboards, scooters, and skinned knees are here - hopefully to stay - and I'd say everyone's mood has lifted, emerging from the dullness and dreariness that comes from February weather in the nation's capital.

Bring it on.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Those Life-Altering Moments

I wrote the following post as my entry to Mabel’s Labels BlogHer ‘10 Contest. The contest requires that entrants write a blog post in response to the following hypothetical situation:

Electrical storms are going to wipe out the Internet (perhaps forever). You have one day left to write about your passions: what do you want to say to the blogosphere in 300 words or less?



The stench of dirt and sweat and summertime-induced grime overwhelmed me as I leaned forward to give the little girl a hug. Story time was over. I tucked her in.

Her huge, magnificent, brown eyes met mine and as our glances connected, she whispered.

"Sometimes my daddy touches me," she confided.

The rest spewed out like foul vomit. I wanted her to stop. I didn't want to to hear this. I peered around the dark, musty cabin to see if any of the other girls were awake, but it appeared that they had all successfully drifted off.

I wasn't even a counselor, I was a C.I.T. - a counselor-in-training. What did I know? I certainly didn't know how to deal with this . . . and yet I summoned some surreptitious inner strength and held the girl tight and told her I was sorry and that it was going to be okay.

Was this even the truth, I wondered?

I knew from my training what came next. I spoke to the camp staff, relayed the story, and watched like a bystander as they contacted Children Services. To this day, I don't know what happened to her. Perhaps she was removed from her home, assigned to foster custody, or placed with another family member.

Yet, I think of her often. I wonder where she is, and how she is doing as a grown woman. After all, she was seven at the time and I was sixteen, so she is only nine years my junior. If I could see her, I would thank her. Thank her for confiding in me, for trusting me, and for igniting in me a passion that would manifest itself for years to come. An appreciation of children, a desire to coach, to teach, to love, and to strive to make the world a better place.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thing 1 Turns Six Years Old

My oldest son, Thing 1, turned six years old yesterday.

I know how cliche this sounds, but where did the time go????

Thing 1, you have informed me that age six is officially the age one becomes a "big boy". Although you are slight in both frame and stature, I will definitely concede that you are my big boy. You are taller now and so many of your pants are quickly making their way up your shin bone. You are the big brother, willingly stepping in as a sibling role model for both Things 2 and 3.

And they both adore you. They look up to you. They emulate you. You are their whole world - and I know it won't always be like this for they will grow and get older and new people will enter their worlds - but for now they are completely content to "do what you do", and to spend as much time with you as possible. While you are sometimes less patient with your brother, it seems your sister has captured your heart for life. You always take her hand when walking down the street, pick up a discarded "baby" she has lost, and explain to her the ins and outs of any and all rules of our home. You tell the world emphatically, everywhere we go, "this is my little sister!".

It seems as you embark on boyhood you are leaving all remnants of being a little kid behind you. You are an expert bike rider now and you love to zoom up and down our street as fast you can - you have even started "off-road" biking and instilling fear in me every time you shout, "look mom, no hands!". After much wearing me down, I caved in and bought you a skateboard for your birthday. You are enthralled with skateboards, and snowboards for that matter. And no matter how mature you may be as you scoot down the street on your new skateboard, I personally think you look absolutely adorable in your new helmet, knee, and elbow pads.

You completed another year of skating lessons this year and were one of the best in your class. You played lots of hockey at the outdoor rink with Daddy this winter, and have informed us you are indeed ready for us to sign you up for hockey in the fall. You also completed your first round of swimming lessons in December, and are nearly swimming by yourself now. You love the water and could spend hours jumping in, splashing, and swimming around. We have enrolled you in T-ball for the spring, as it was your favourite sport last summer.

Like your mother, patience is not your strong suit. But I am in awe watching you mature this year and learn to spend more and more time on tasks like reading and writing. You're getting a fair amount of homework in Senior Kindergarten this year, and for the most part we are able to complete it with ease. You have blossomed into a real social butterfly, and have both a group of friends at school and in our neighbourhood. You are sensitive and passionate and creative, other traits of your also-Pisces-born mother. You are able to look at things and see what others do not. You are always the child to find a use for a toy that has never been attempted before. You create the games, and like to assign roles to others. While you enjoy television and video games at times, you are happiest running free and playing a game of your own creation. I have come to enjoy our afternoon board game championships, and will cherish these times for years to come.

In some ways you are a predictable six-year-old. You love Pokemon, Lego, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, GI Joe, sports, and jokes about poop. In other ways you are wise beyond your years, sharing a keen understanding of the world and how it works, the intricacies of relationships, and the importance of love and kindness.

I simply couldn't be more proud.

Happy Sixth Birthday, Thing 1. Thank you for making every single day spectacular for me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guest Post at Coffees and Commutes

I wrote a post for my friend Christine, at her fabulous blog, Coffees and Commutes.

It's all about my decision to go back to work.

Now, go take a look, you won't regret it!

Muriel

Ten years ago today, March 11, my grandmother passed away.

She died of cancer, although her lifelong struggle had been with arthritis. She was absolutely one of the most fabulous human beings I have ever known, and will ever have the pleasure of knowing.

She grew up with two brothers, which is probably why she was as tough as nails. She never, ever, complained when she was sick or in pain. She took several knee replacement surgeries like others might handle a bad cold, and she was up walking on her crutches much sooner than any doctor could have predicted.


She gave gave new meaning to the words "comfort food" and always had a hot, steaming meal waiting on the table as you walked in her back door. Holidays are full of memories of hot milk cake, JB squares, Jam-Jam cookies and her ridiculously crunchy chocolate chip cookies. You never walked away from there hungry. When I worked away at a summer camp for several years, I looked forward to packages from her because I knew I would get a reprieve from hideous dining hall food for a few days. Even when I went away to university she never sent me on my way back to Ottawa without boxes full of goodies to take with me. I would beat my roommates off with a stick to keep them away from her home-baked treasures.


I remember when I was a young girl, my grandmother got her driver's license, and then purchased her very first car. It was an orange-yellowish
mini and my very tall grandmother drove around town proudly in that little car, with the top of her dark brown hair just grazing the ceiling of the car. She would drive my sister and I around in the backseat while we giggled and laughed and had the time of our lives.

My grandmother was an extraordinary penpal. As I got older and moved away from home to live in Ottawa we wrote to each other on a regular basis. I looked forward to her letters with a girlish anticipation. She would share with me her small town gossip, stories about her dog (or my parents' crazy furniture-chewing-Airedale), updates about family members, and then would always end her note by reminding me what a wonderful person I was . . . and to not "work too hard".


Occasionally when I came home to visit she would take me out for my favourite East Coast meal - clams and chips. We would laugh and chat and comment about what other people were wearing and who was dating who and who was getting married and who was getting divorced. While the waitress wasn't looking, Nan would slip whatever food was leftover on her plate into her purse, so that she wouldn't offend the cook or anyone who worked there.

She
never complained.

She taught me how to love others unconditionally. She taught me the true meaning of faith, and of courage. She taught me to laugh when times get tough, and she taught me to hold my head up high and to take on the world like I owned it.
That cold March ten years ago was a very pivotal time in my life. You see, my grandmother was sick. My wedding was four months away. And unbenownst to the rest of my family at that time, I had just been accepted into the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa and was planning on quitting my job in marketing and public relations to pursue my passion to become a teacher.

In the hours before she died, I whispered in my grandmother's ear and told her my plan. It was not the right time to tell the rest of the family that I would be quitting an excellent and high-paying job to go back to school. But I told my grandmother, because I wanted her to know before she died that I had learned from her that I could become all that I wanted to.

And, today, I am a teacher.

Although she met my fiance several times, I will always feel a sadness that she did not get to meet my three Things. As I raise them I make sure to pass on the things that she taught me - to show them the beauty in places that so many are not willing to look.
And on some Sundays as I sit through mass, I look around and sense that I can almost feel her presence there, watching over all of us.

It's been ten years, Nan, and you are dearly missed and always remembered.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ten Years Ago

She had just arrived home from work on Friday night when she received the call. Her fiance was away in California on business.

Her parents had been out of town at a conference in San Diego and had cut their trip short and returned to Nova Scotia on the advice of their family doctor. Her grandmother was back in the hospital, and things weren't looking promising.

"It's hard to say how long she has." The young woman's mother spoke calmly and evenly, although there was a hint of emotion in her voice.

"It's up to you when you come," her mother offered.

She made her decision in haste although knew deep in her gut - make that within her whole entire being - that it was the right one. She would leave immediately.

A couple hours later she was on a plane headed for Halifax. She would arrive in the wee hours of Saturday morning and would be picked up at the airport by her sister.

While on the plane the young woman had time to think, to ponder her emotions and begin the process of coming to terms with the immediacy of the situation confronting her. She wondered if her grandmother had made a mistake having such invasive surgery done in December. Had it made the cancer worse? Was she weaker now, powerless to fight off this horrendous disease that had started to overcome her?

Relief set in as she relaxed back into the comfy seat in the car on the two hour drive back to her parents' house. She felt oddly comforted by her close proximity to her sister - the fact that she was sitting next to her and sensing that she, too, was surely undergoing the same roller coaster of emotions.

After only several hours sleep, she awoke. Her head felt groggy from lack of sleep and her heart felt heavy and burdened with worry. She wanted to get to the hospital as soon as she could. The family ate breakfast and then traveled together by car to the small coastal town that had been home for so many years.

Even after being sufficiently warned, the young woman was not prepared for the sight that she witnessed as she entered her grandmother's hospital room. She was experiencing sensory overload - seeing her Nan so frail and tiny, so sick-looking and ill . . . the smells of starched sheets and antiseptic and antibacterial cleaning products . . . the sounds of gurneys and wheels turning and doors closing and metal clanging and water running.

She sucked in every tear as hard as she could, and bit her tongue to the point that it almost bled so that her grandmother would not see her cry. As she held her hand, the older woman opened her eyes and very briefly registered a flicker of recognition.

"Shannon's here . . . " she slurred, her voice drifting off as if in a dream.

Those were the last words anyone would hear her speak that day. She passed away peacefully and quietly that night, surrounded by family and those who loved her, a mere 12 hours after they had arrived at the hospital that morning.


To Be Continued

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

WW - The Last Scrapbook

It may have taken me a long time to start the scrapbook for my third and last baby, but I plan to put just as much effort into it as I did for Things 1 and 2.



Monday, March 01, 2010

Learning . . . And Moving On

At the end of the school year, as most of her students finished up grade four and mentally prepared themselves to enter the fifth grade in the fall, the keen and ambitious young teacher lost her job with the school at which she had been working. They were cutting a class at that location and she was declared "surplus".

Thankfully, she interviewed for a teaching position at another school and was hired immediately. She was to start in the fall. Little did she realize at the time of the interview that she would be "knocked up" by the time she would start her new job. As she opened the doors to her new classroom in September, she was already three months pregnant.

The teacher enjoyed her new school, met some wonderful colleagues, and encountered some special students who touched her heart. But things were never quite the same as they had been with her "first class".

The pregnant teacher gave birth to a bouncing baby boy in March. He was all she had dreamed of and more.

The following year, while she was still on leave from teaching, her original school contacted her and invited her to attend the graduation ceremony for that year's grade six students. They would be leaving their elementary school and attending middle school in the fall. The grade six students, were, of course, her now-older grade four class.

Unable to secure babysitting, the teacher dragged along her one-year-old little boy to the ceremony with her. As she neared the school's front door on that hot, sweltering June day, she felt the familiar queasiness of butterflies in her stomach that she had felt almost three years previous when she had entered the school for the very first time. Only on this occasion, instead of being nervous, she was excited. Full of anticipation and joy at seeing her students older and possibly more mature.

The teacher fielded the question her former colleagues directed at her upon seeing another gaping bulge in her midsection.

"Yes," she confirmed. "I am pregnant, *again*."

She was more than pleased that all her old students recognized her, and were thrilled to see her and her little boy. She was filled with joy and pride watching all her students walk across the stage. As they stepped down with their grade six certificate in hand, she felt this moment symbolized so much for many of them - success, perseverance, faith, hope, commitment. With the right tools and the right support, these kids could do anything they wanted.

The students, parents, and teachers mingled after the ceremony as refreshments and snacks were served. The new mother stood at the back, absorbing the scene around her and taking it all in. Just as she began to fear that she may have to leave the school with her hot and now very cranky toddler, a group moved towards her.

It was a man and a woman, and three very tall children. The woman, grinning from ear to ear, lunged forward to give the teacher a hug. Although no introductions were needed - the teacher had immediately recognized them - the woman asked the teacher a question.

"Do you remember us?" she inquired, in impeccable English. "I am Belle's mother."

"Of course I do," the teacher told her. "Your English sounds perfect now."

"I took some classes," Belle's mother informed her, "and I have a job now." She oozed with pride.

The teacher almost didn't recognize Belle, for it seemed as if she had grown about a foot and was now completely stunning. The young student smiled and shyly said hello to her former teacher.

Belle's mother went on to thank the teacher for all she had done for Belle and her family that year.

"You made a huge difference for Belle, and without you that year would have been much more difficult for her," she said. "I wish there was some way we could thank you."

As the two mothers continued chatting, talking about Belle, talking about the teacher's son, talking about life, the weather, politics, and the economy, the teacher hoped that Belle's mother might understand that it was actually she who wished she could thank them.

 
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