And why WOULDN’T we have a Christmas walrus?

I was having a bit of a Monday-ish Monday; my older son needed to be at school for his sports med volunteering at 6:30 in the morning, so I had an abbreviated yoga practice and rushed home. We zipped over to the school, and half an hour later I got a text from him saying that it had been cancelled. This is the second time sports med volunteering had been cancelled with zero notice; the time it was cancelled after school was one thing, but this felt especially offensive. Then, my younger son realized with some dismay that his magazine rack that he had built for Industrial Arts and had brought home to stain on the weekend was still slightly damp; transporting a large, slightly-damp magazine rack to school without getting wood stain on everything was a bit of a feat. All of this before 7:30 on a Monday morning.

These two occurrences unsettled me more than they should have; I was already feeling a bit out of sorts with the discovery, late Sunday afternoon, that there was a mouse in my kitchen. If there is anything more insidiously disturbing than finding mouse droppings under the kitchen sink, I do not know what it is. What is with the mice problem lately? Longtime readers will remember the time I basically had a nervous breakdown from the previous kitchen mouse experienceHow are all these mice getting in here? Why is this happening? I asked my husband, as if our house is constantly overrun by mice, instead of having one other such incident, back in 2013.

In any case, the problem has been resolved. My husband set a trap and not ten minutes later, as I was chopping up vegetables for Buddha Bowls, I heard it go off. Hellllllllppppppp! I screamed, until the boys came running and, shall we say, disposed of things. Another trap sat there untouched for 48 hours, so I was completely unprepared for the sight that greeted me when I reached in to get dishwasher detergent on Tuesday evening.

I started wordlessly screaming in a loud and high-pitched voice, not unlike someone getting ax-murdered in a horror movie. The kids had no idea what was wrong, but seemed to assume that I was having some kind of medical emergency as my older son grabbed my arm and started to escort me to my room, to force me to lie down. The door of the cupboard was still open, the dog was wandering around, and I had to tell them what was wrong but I found I could not form words at all. Language, what is that? All I could do was scream. “Mom, Mom, it’s okay, why don’t you lie down,” my older son said as I responded with a long AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Finally I managed to say disconnected things like “MOUSE” and “HELP” and “KEEP BARKLEY AWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.”

This is a long and roundabout way of saying that I was feeling a bit Fragile and Out Of Sorts, when I had a message from my friend Lyn (HI LYN), to go look on my doorstep. YOU GUYS. Look!

Math AND Christmas? Two of my favourite things! This makes up for everything! Festive Nicole has been reinstated! At least until the next mouse incident, which hopefully will be several years away, if ever.

Things have been pretty festive around here, dead mice and optional classes notwithstanding. People have been walking by and photographing our front yard, which looks like this:

I would like to point out the Christmas walrus, which my older son and husband picked up on a trip to Home Depot. The two of them really cannot be trusted to go shopping by themselves, and although a month ago I might have thought Why would anyone need a Christmas walrus? I now see their point. It’s really cute!

Have you guys heard about Whamageddon? It’s a game played on social media in which you actively avoid hearing the song Last Christmas; if you hear it – say, if you are out shopping – then you are OUT. Sudden death. By Last Christmas. This is a phenomenon I do not understand; why would anyone AVOID hearing Last Christmas? If anything, I actively seek it out. I have even downloaded a playlist curated by my friend Peggy (HI PEGGY) that is solely made up of different versions of Last Christmas. Clearly, this game is not for me.

As a matter of fact, I believe that Last Christmas – not the “OG,” as the kids say, but one of the newer versions – was the first Christmas song I heard this season, when I was at Superstore. I found myself singing along as I pushed my giant cart through the Health and Beauty section, wondering why they moved the cotton balls. I am a person who often finds myself singing audibly in public, and not just in a “The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer Is By Singing Loud For All To Hear” kind of way. I do this year-round. It’s my contribution to the world, I guess. I have to stop myself from singing out loud when I am at the gym, though, because I feel like loud singing with headphones on is not actually appreciated by the general public. I do this when I’m on my elliptical at home, but when I’m on the treadmill at the gym I have to content myself with merely lip-synching.

I take a Saturday morning spin class, and I feel I must tell you that it is not like other spin classes you may have attended. I guarantee it. The instructor is probably in his sixties, and the average age of the students in that class exceeds my own by at least two decades. It’s inspiring to see older people sweating along to the very eclectic musical selections by the instructor, but what I am really trying to convey is that this is not a youthful group. I have been to spin where the instructor was about nineteen years old, and there were black lights and strobe lights and the “retro old music” was the descriptor for such dance songs that would have been played in the bar, when I myself was nineteen. THIS IS NOT THAT KIND OF CLASS. Anyway, I was in spin and lip-synching/ singing softly under my breath to Holding Out For A Hero, when an older lady in a Tom Baker Cancer Survivor t-shirt, two bikes down, noticed me. She started singing very loudly along, gesturing to me in the universal sign of “pump up the volume.” It honestly made my whole day, the two of us, singing loudly in spin class, as the rest of the group smiled indulgently. The moral of this story is: don’t be afraid to sing out loud. Shine on, you crazy diamond. xo


  1. You just seem like the BEST person and your posts bring me real joy. Also, your personality is such that I found myself 100% agreeing with your post title, before even reading the post. “If Nicole is going to go along with a Christmas walrus, it must be reasonable!” thought I, agreeably.

  2. I’m okay with mice, which is a good thing because we’ve had, let’s say… more than 2 since 2013. But I completely lose my shit when I see a roach. Beth and/or Noah have to kill it ASAP and roaches are the reason we have an exterminator who comes every few months. Isn’t it nice to have kids old enough to help with tasks like this?

  3. I now want, in this order:

    1. A spin class taught/attended by people two decades older than me, with eclectic music
    2. A Christmas walrus

  4. bibliomama2 says

    I SO wish I could walk by your house. Or into your house. I did okay for November, and now the strike stuff going on has me completely unbalanced, nothing feels like it should, and I’m worried I’m going to ruin Christmas and my family’s lives – my usual clear, balanced perspective, in other words. I have lived with both roaches and mice and I can’t decide which is worse – mice seem a little easier to dispatch without spraying poison, anyway. I just bought a shirt for Angus that says “Drinkin’ Beers and Growin’ Beards”, and that at least is giving me joy. I love your walrus.

  5. I gotta agree…that walrus is pretty cute!

  6. You crack me up. I want to walk by your house AND be your neighbor because I think you would be awesome to hang out with!

    Sorry about the mice. I have many instances that I could share, but I will refrain. Oh- except to say that in our old kitchen there was a cabinet above the microwave. I could reach it but could not see the bottom of it. I started sticking lunch box treats up there so kids would not eat them while at home. I reached up and found a half eaten treat (hostess something). I yelled at the kids for eating something and ditching it when they heard me coming. Days later- we realized we had many mice. And I touched their half eaten food. Since we have gotten the new kitchen, we have not had mice. I have recently tried a spin class. It happens in darkness with weird not quite strobe lights. Your class sounds more fun!

  7. One of my happiest high school memories is attending a wedding and watching my great aunt and great uncle tear up the dance floor during “Love Shack.”

    We had our first heavy snowfall last night, and I dread looking under the kitchen sink.

  8. That is such a delightful story about singing in spin class! I am also a Public Singer (as well as Occasional Tap Dancer) and my kids are at an age where I may as well be running naked through the streets. THE SHAME. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one :).

  9. Well I’m exceptionally late to this post but I had comment because I really wish my club had a similar spin class. I’ve done several and they are fine but they are a complete butt whipping run by people much younger than me whose songs do not really pump me up. I need someone playing pumping 80s and 90s dance music who ensures I get a work out but does not seem to be actively trying to do me in!

    Also now I want a Christmas walrus!

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