Hello, Valentines Day, Friends and Retirement

Hello, Valentines Day, Friends, Retirement and Much Much More, the Carr family blog is back in Black and Badass

May 15, 2015 was the last post to the confessions pages… a couple months shy of a full year and oh what a change. In that time, the two girls and I packed up the car and with my older sister and my father and drove east to visit my twin sister and her family in Newfoundland.   I had one of the busiest summers I have ever had with my DJ’ing – 13 weddings. I wrapped up 3 different semesters at work and started another couple and we as a family had pool time, sun time and at times fun time with much needed relaxing, not to mention a family wedding, a few birthdays and of course Christmas time.

This past almost year has had its share of incredible highs and a few defeating lows, but through it all, I terribly missed therapeutically sharing the comings and goings of my little family in the form of this blog.   So, if you will humor me for a while, I will try to get back to it… and scribe my weekly thoughts, observations and I will do my best to recap what’s going on around the halls, in this little corner of the galaxy in the form of the confessions pages. Comments are always welcome! Happy reading!

Happy Valentine's Day 2016
Happy Valentine’s Day 2016

It is V-Day, as in the celebration of love and all things red. I love my wife every day of the year; so I don’t buy into the extra pressure to give in to societal and commercial expectations to profess, bla bla bla… OK, I do. We always try to do something nice for each other and mark the occasion. I was reminded of the day, this year by arriving at school the Friday morning to find three girls sitting at a table in the cafeteria. A fourth showed up, and presented the others with cute little red hearts, wrapped in crunchy cellophane with pretty bows, and the 3 girls went nuts. “I’m insta-gramming that!” one said, while they all started taking selfie’s with their gifts. That is when I said, that no matter what. No matter the deal we make this year, “We’re not getting anything for each other, right?” and no matter the pressure or the expectations of society or your circle of friends, why wouldn’t you want to make someone happy, if even only for a minute, with a small, insta-graming worthy gesture like that?

I have talked lots over the years about the important role friend’s play in our lives. Family is one thing… they serve a role of course, but I think there is a built in tension that comes with blood. Your family has history. They know often where the skeletons are buried. But friend’s, that’s different. What I haven’t talked about is the key role of the so-called friend. Just for the record NONE of these friends know about or would read my blog, so if you are reading this, it is NOT about you.

Months ago, it occurred to me, after some tension with old friends that there are different kinds of friendships. So you have those you don’t see in years, but dropped back into a social setting, would likely act as though no time had passed. Those are classic friends. Then there are the all in friends that have a level of connection that seems difficult to understand. A, “my car is broken down at the side of the road” will always lead, no matter how far, your all in to come get you, and finally, the so-called friend. These friends, come into your life for whatever reason, and you care for them on a level, but if after a while, they do or say something that rubs you the wrong way, they are moved to limited profile material on FB. Still in the circle, but on the outside of it.

Nathalie uses an interesting number scheme on the friendship scale. Everyone starts at a 10, and as time goes on or things happen you lose numbers. Some we have met go from 10 to 0 with just one, racist or derogatory comment. Once you loose a number, you never gain it back. Trust me on this, after 26 years together I’m a 7 and holding.

Now, the secret of life and what makes things interesting is that fact that often people actually move between the friendship categories, and this is just fine. The point of my post on friends is simple. We learn and benefit from all the friends in our life no matter their category and we have to always remember this and even thank them for the role they play or once played. I think in the end, the so-called friends in your life are often just as important as the classic friend and the all-in friends.

Writing this story third in the order seems to me a little like I am burying the lead. Perhaps this should have been first on the list of importance. But, anyone who knows me would already know this information and I am not really ready to talk in detail about it. One of the most significant events not covered off in the blog over these missing months, and without a doubt the lowest point of those months was the death of my Father in November. I will write more in the future and will share some very personal thoughts about his life and the impact it had on mine, but for now, I just want to say that we are having a celebration of his life coming up in April and if you want more info or to be included on this list, please get in touch with me.

Girl’s Marks
Last time I wrote, the girls where wrapping up grade 7 and 10 and did amazing. That was an accomplishment in it self and we sure where proud with all of their hard work. But in retrospect, their accomplishments back at the end of those grades; last June pale in comparison to the marks and advancements they are receiving this latest few months in grade 8 and 11. Years ago, Nathalie and I became these back-a-way parents, never pushing the girls to achieve. Never asking more than their best effort, and as a result, we have strong, smart funny and well balanced learners that work hard and do so for their own reasons. And this makes us just so proud. Keep up the great work girls!

My magic number is still 2026. The year I will be able to retire with my full pension. I am so lucky and happy with my life and all that I have been able to accomplish and the way it has all worked out. If life is a big pinball machine, I have taken a few bounces around some smaller point obstacles, but I have been very lucky to have hit a few solid bumpers that have steered me in the right direction. The people in my life that have given me opportunity and the ones of have believed or given me the benefit of the doubt.

Having been at the college as long as I have, many of those people that supported me and gave me chances at the start have since retired and I was proud to be part of their retirement celebrations. These are people I have talked about in the blogs of the past. However, this past week I spoke at a celebration of someone I have not talked about before, but without this one person, I am not sure I would be where I am today.

The very first person I ever talked to at Seneca was Heather. She called me on the phone to tell me that my application was moved to the waitlist, and that if I came to pay a deposit, that it would be likely that I would be accepted in the program for September 1991. I came and paid my money to Heather and could see instantly that she was a great person. Helpful and friendly and she showed in a few short conversations that she genially cared about me and my success.

I use to think it was just about me, then I watched her deal with others and I learned fast that she was the real deal. With that one phone call, that set in motion my education, me discovering my ability to teach and then every job subsequently after graduation and my eventual fulltime teaching position with the magic number of 2026, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you Heather.

In closing
There have been lots and lots of funny little girl stories of the last bunch of months that are all worthy of closing out this first blog back post, but the one I have selected always makes me smile for several reasons. Now, the first thing to point out is I was not actually there. This story comes in Nathalie’s voice. And the second thing I need to say, is that there is a “bad parent” potential angle to this story and I don’t care what anyone things. Yes, our kids have twisted, sometimes-inappropriate sense of humor and I think it is awesome!

I was out DJ’ing a wedding on a Saturday afternoon during the summer and the girls are hanging by themselves in the pool. Nathalie being a big fan of nature and not having a mean bone in her body doesn’t like it when the ants and other insects walk directly in the pool. She will always try to talk them out of it, sometimes with words, but mostly with a little splash of water or in some cases a whistle size blast of air from her mouth. This particular large ant was resistant to all forms of re-direction as it didn’t listen and it walked over the spray of water, and when Nathalie puckered her lips and sent some air their way it wouldn’t move. Nathalie says, “Wow it’s so big, I can’t blow it!” Without missing a beat, Julia says, “That’s what she said!” and starts to laugh. See we had talked together on a road trip just days before this, as a family the merits of this particular juvenile response to just about anything, and although she understood the concept and the content, she just never had an opportunity to use it like this, and she nailed it. Such a proud parents moment.

Off to go get the, “my 12 year old is funny t-shirt!
Thanks for reading and have a safe and great week.


Friends, Blogging and Life Lessons Learned

Friends, blogging and life lessons learned, stories from the Carr family while on the 9-month journey to today.


Her beauty Just makes me happy!

This is not the first time I have started a blog with some kind of apology or reasoning, for being a few months behind, on what started as a weekly look behind the Carr family curtain. I can honestly say that I miss it. I miss the open-eyed awareness I approached day-to-day life with, while I was always looking for something to write about. It has been more than 9 months since I have written a blog, so it’s time. Time to lift the curtain. Plus there have been a few people on my list of supporters that have been dropping hints and pretty much giving me a hard time about not doing it. So, here we go!

Family is important. But, you can’t pick them. They are yours whether you want them or not. But, friends however, you are completely in control of. Over the years, Nathalie and I have been very lucky in this regard. Blessed with many great connections and people that have breezed into our lives, for whatever reason, making lasting impressions. Some have breezed out, but the truth is that we could still drop ourselves on a deserted island with any of them and be right back where we were.

I like to think that it’s an “us” thing, as in we are the cool ones, and there may be truth to it, but I think the fact steams from us being pretty much the same, no drama, easy going people we have been most of our lives. We can be loud and fun and we can laugh or cry with the best of them, but we are always true to us.

The realization I have come to this week, thanks to a conversation with one of the true friends, is that we do have a finite amount of time in life, and it would make the most sense to maximize the amount of time you spend with the people that most reflect this thinking. It may even have some kind of time warping, life extending friendship powers, I am not sure, but finding people to hang around with that approach life like this somehow makes the time you spend, that much more rewarding.

The Vase
One of my favourite stories from the past few months involves Julia, our Chief Household Comedic Relief Officer. We have been power watching a number of popular shows this summer. Son’s of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black and Mad Men for short, and it was during one of the Mad Men episodes that Julia had something to say. Now the show is set in the 60’ and the 70’s and aside from the very interesting look into the world of advertising, it is also a look at an era that I am fascinated with.

In this particular episode, a newly married husband and wife are talking about the husband NOT getting the promotion he wanted, and that she wouldn’t understand what it was like, to not get something that you have wanted for a long time. The wife, one of the very strong female leads, gave up her career and life to be his wife, so proceeded to illustrate this point by grabbing a vase, and whacking him over the head. Julia sees this and says, “What did she do that for?” Nathalie explains, “The Husband said something stupid and was being an idiot and she wanted to make the point clear to him”.   Without missing a beat, Julia says, “Quick hide all the vases in here… I am just protecting you Daddy!” Glad to know she’s looking out for me!

So school has started, and for both girls they are settling into their new classrooms and new educational eco systems. Julia got the grade 7 teacher she wanted to have this term and had for at least a few days all the people she wanted in her class. After the day 10 adjustments, she lost a couple of people that she liked, but was, in true Julia fashion more concerned that those friends at least had some other friends to hang with in their new assignments.

Jordyn in grade 10, was excited to see her friends again, and happy with her classes and teachers. Well… mostly happy. Her only comment was that in her second period class has more than 20 boys and only her. “Even the teacher is a boy Daddy!” she said with a shake the head disgust that made me smile. Now, I’m a bit on the fence whether I think this is a good thing or not, but in the end it may just teach her some valuable life lessons. Like hopefully that 15-year-old boys are silly and she should just stay away from them? Is that too much to ask?

In closing
The last couple of weeks have been filled with some highs and lows. It is always hard around this time of year for us, but more than the beginning of a semester and start of school, and the end of the summer and the season change and the anniversary of my Mom’s death, this year, I have had to deal with a few new things that emphasize change. A couple of weeks ago, one of the most inspiring retired faculty members I have known passed away. I will be writing more on Ron Lowe in coming weeks. This week, one of the guys I have been working with the longest at the College had his retirement party. However, nothing illustrated change and the fact that it is gonna happen whether I want it to or not this week more than a texting conversation I had with Jordyn, so today I close the blog with an edited transcript:

Daughter, “Dad if I dait a gut how many years apart do we have to be 2 or 1”
Dad, “What??? Please ask again, I don’t understand what you are saying”
Daughter, “If I dated a guy how many years apart do we have to be 2 years apart or 1 year apart?”
Dad, “80000 years apart you have to be.”
Daughter, “I don’t know what that means”
Dad, “That means. I don’t want you to date. Ever… But, you asked the wrong parent… Jordyn, you don’t have to be any years apart. It would be better if I guy is a little older than you. But it doesn’t matter. What’s the age of the guy you are interested in? (Always asking the hard questions!)
Daughter, “17”

Dad, “I don’t know. Ask your Mother.”

Now, off to find a quiet corner to curl up and rock myself to sanity.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!


Marks, Volunteering, Old Friends and a Tickled Lip

Marks, Volunteering, Old Friends and a Tickled Lip, stories from in and around the Carr house for another few weeks.

In Ontario these days, they don’t send report cards this time of year, opting instead for a “progress report” and we are so happy to report that our girls are progressing very well! In fact, Jordyn has been excelling in things that she had struggled with, what seems like only months ago. She is now bringing home projects and test in the A to A+ range. And what we love more than the great marks is the awareness of the accomplishment in both of their minds and the pride they show when talking about their accomplishments. I think Nathalie and I have always tried to encourage both girls to work as hard as they can, and always tried to remind them that if they put in the effort they will always get something out of it, and we just couldn’t be more proud that they are now realizing it.

This week during a parent teacher meeting, I had a Daddy pride moment, when the teachers talked about how much Jordyn’s social skills have advanced this past year. Not that she was a wallflower or anything, but this year, while doing well with her academics, she is also doing well with the other part of school – the social side. She is on student council, singing in the choir, helping out in the library and an active volunteer for extra help around both the classroom and the school. Both Nathalie and I have spent a lot of time volunteering at school, and we always try to lead by example, but it is just now we see the effect it has had on the girls.

Old Friend
Sometimes I look at the girls hanging and playing with their school friends, and I wonder what it would be like to run into the people that completed my circle when I was in grade 8. Thanks to Facebook, we have WAY more access to the people from our past, but like the saying goes, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” Sometimes, it only takes a couple of minutes with an old old friend; to remind yourself your paths diverged for a reason. I have only had a couple of friends from any of my schooling over the years, that I have stayed in touch with for any great length, and one of those from College, I had lunch with this week.

It has been a couple of years since I have seen him, and although we have talked on the phone a couple of times, over that time, we sure had a lot of catching up to do. Do you have those old friends that you may see every couple of years, but when you do, it’s like you where never apart? From the first couple of minutes, we where laughing and joking like it was 1990, and the biggest worry we had was figuring out reasons to skip an English class. It was great to catch up and I left with a reminder that no matter the length of time apart from someone, a good friend is a good friend. Do yourself a favour, and look up an old one today!

Lip Tickle

“How you doin’?”
It is the first week of November, and popular in these parts, it is the start of Movember – the practice of men growing facial hair, specifically a mustache, in support of awareness of men’s cancer. Last year I did it and raised 75 bucks, and grew what I like to call a crazy 70’s porn stash. It was not the popular in the Carr house, and I almost thought about doing it again this year, but woke up on the 1st and completely forgot and shaved. I got to work, taught a class and then checked out what’s going on in Facebook world, only to find out that Nathalie had had a little photoshop fun, and started her own anti facial hair campaign. I just had to post the picture here, and since the support for her campaign was high, I opted NOT to grow it again this year. But, please do find a way to support Men’s Cancers!

In closing
Had a laugh this week, during a quick shopping trip to No Frills. Ever run into the strange guy that just feels the need to have a conversation with you? In my 90 second meeting with a crazy haired guy with what looked like a turtleneck and you guessed it a tweed jacket complete with the elbow patches, I found out he was Comedian and a Novelist. He wrote “the” book about the 911 conspiracy; and that is how he said it, “the book” as if I should obviously know about it. And if that wasn’t enough, he shared a joke he wrote with me, and said I could use it if I wanted to. So, when you are given this kind genius comedic license, one must use it. “Did you hear about the new Mike Tyson restaurant in downtown Toronto? It’s called: Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your Ear!”

Off to look online for what must be a riveting book by my shopping buddy!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!