Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmakah, Happy Hannumas!

When I started writing this blog this morning I was tired and grouchy and had allowed my Christmas spirit to be sucked out of me by a snoring, sleep talking husband and an early morning recorder/chanter duet. I was all Grinch and every word I had written was dripping with Bah-Humbug. I didn't post that entry because seriously the last thing anyone needs in the middle of the chaos of Christmas Eve Eve (as the kids call it) is another miserable cynical loud mouth spreading their negativity far and wide. So I didn't post it.

I went to Walmart instead.

I know it seems like a crazy decision for someone already on the brink of Holiday cheerocide (official definition is one who kills the holiday cheer of others), but I went and I took the kids with me. Even for a small town Walmart the place was a zoo. There were carts and strollers everywhere, kids were whining in multiple languages and parents were looking tired and haggard...just like me.

We survived the Walmart experience and as we were heading home Dude put on his favourite Christmas CD, Barenaked for the Holidays. The Barenaked Ladies bring their usual quirk and wit to some standard holiday favourites as well as a few offerings of their own creation. As we zipped down the highway listening to the plight of disgruntled elves my grinchiness began to dissipate and by the time we made it back to our town I was humming along to a tune about three ships but it was the next song that sharply reminded me about what this season truly means. Funny enough for this Christian gal, its a Hanukkah song.

One verse talks about how easy it is to forget the blessings we have at this time of year because we get caught up in the noise of the season. I'm not sure what the blessing they sing means but in my heart, as I navigated through the snowy streets of our little town, I sang of the blessings we have this year. The new home, community and school we have become a part of. The health and success are children have found here, the friends and family who have loved and supported us through this hectic year and the gift of Jesus Christ and the love and hope He brings to us daily.

This is the season to celebrate the light, love and blessings we have.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!


PS - I know Hanukkah was earlier this month...but its still the season of light and hope to me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All Wrapped Up

Admittedly, I am a bit of a Christmas junkie. I start decorating the house and playing the Christmas carols before the first snowflake hits the ground. I can hardly wait to say the first 'Merry Christmas' of the season. I love holiday parties with eggnog, shortbread and all the tasty mini-foods. I look forward to Christmas shopping and evenings of wrapping gifts while watching holiday movies. I actually LOVE wrapping gifts. All the colourful paper, shiny ribbons and festive tags puts me in the merriest of moods.

I realize that not all people feel this way about gift wrapping, that's why department stores and malls offer a gift wrapping service. Recently, my uncle visited one of those counters to have my aunt's gift wrapped. Now I don't know all the details of the incident but I know that black wrapping paper, a holiday melt down and an invitation for my uncle to NOT visit the wrapping counter again were key elements. Sorry you had a rough time, uncle...this one's for you!

Love Actually - Shopping at the Jewelry Counter
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojqycHsURkk

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Lunch-time Africa Summit

The other day we had a pretty deep conversation during lunch.

I had been watching the news and a popular musician was talking about debt forgiveness and AIDS treatment in Africa. Dude asked what that was all about and soon I found myself talking about broken infrastructure, warring tribes, child soldiers, disease and corrupt government. The kids listened intently and asked some very good questions. We discussed long term solutions for the problems in Africa as well as practical things that the average person can do to help.

The kids began painting a mental image of what they would like to see for children in Africa. Dude and Crafty were coming up with ideas like clean drinking water, good clothes, school with proper supplies and loving homes for the kids who have no (or very sick) parents. Mischief sat, listening but not contributing much. I thought that perhaps the topic was a little beyond his six-year-old  scope when the conversation took a turn,

Crafty - Mom, do you think that if all the richer countries co-operate that one day kids in Africa will be able to go to school and be healthy and not be alone?

Me - I think that it is very possible.

Dude - And the kids will have soccer balls and skateboards and things like that rather than having to be soldiers?

Me - I certainly hope so.

Mischief - (in a very serious and compassionate tone) I hope that one day those Africa kids will have soft toilet paper, not like the scratchy stuff they have at my school.

Conversation derailed - the rest of the lunch hour was spent discussing scratchy toilet paper and stinky hand soap.

Oh well...maybe this kind of stuff happens at the UN, too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

About 10 Years Early

Mischief is a lot like his dad. He is funny, charming and quite witty. He is a very good natured kid and very accepting of others. He is supremely confident and a lot of fun to hang out with.

But like I said, he is a lot like his dad.

Knowing and accepting this I have prepared myself for broken bones, stitches, calls from the principal’s office and all types of teenage shenanigans. He is adventurous and fearless and a little irreverent. Everything seems like a good idea and is worth a try. He is friendly, social and is up for a party any time of the day or night.

All this past week Mischief was under the weather. He had a hacking cough and a raging fever and as he came in and out of consciousness the only question he had was, “Mama, will I be all better in time for the party on Saturday?”

The kids had been looking forward to the holiday party we were hosting for our neighbors and Mischief’s greatest fear was being too sick to participate in the festivities. Finally on Thursday night Mischief’s fever broke and by the time our friends arrived the little guy was back to his old self.
He ate treats, played, ran around and enjoyed himself immensely. It was after midnight when I finally caught up with him and got him into bed. Sunday was a lazy day of couch cuddles, clean-up and crafts. Although he was exhausted he was still sporting his ‘post-party’ glow.

That night, as I was tucking him in bed, he tried pulling the ‘sick’ card on me. He said he was too sick to go to school today and he needed a few more days to stay at home with me. He still had a cough but I could tell he was trying to milk the situation. We talked back and forth about the validity of his request for a few minutes, with him trying to his very six-year-old best to charm me into seeing things his way.

Finally, in an effort to put an end to the conversation I found myself saying a sentence that, although I had expected to have to say one day to this kid, had not planned to have to say for at least ten more years,

“Listen, if you are well enough to stay up until midnight partying with your pals on Saturday night, you are well enough to get your butt out of bed and go to school on Monday morning!”

Please tell me this is not a sign of things to come!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Sweetest Sound

Nothing like the flu to ring in the Christmas season.

Inevitably, at about this time every year one or all of our kids come down with some kind of Monster Cold or Flu and this week it was Mischief's turn. He had been coughing for a week or so but on Wednesday morning we awoke to find him curled up on the bathroom floor, asleep. He spent the day sleeping and watching snippets of movies but not really eating or talking - two of his favourite things. Thursday was more of the same.

For two days our Little Buddy had a fever and coughed until he threw up, but he was a trooper. Unlike Dude (who shakes his head as he vomits) or Crafty (who becomes like Velcro to us when she is sick) Mischief is a fairly low maintenance patient. He still sleeps in his own bed, can handle the 'barf bucket' and prefers to be left alone for the most part. And when he does have to throw up he does it calmly and usually chats between heaves. Its kind of remarkable...and kind of gross.

Last night Mr. Awesome and I were on the brink of taking Mischief to the hospital because his fever was quite high and the little guy just wasn't doing well but in the wee hours of the morning the fever broke. Mischief finally fell into a peaceful sleep and I woke up this morning to find him chatting away to his siblings at the breakfast table. The usual chatter and goofiness that typically irritates me at that time of the morning was the sweetest sound in the world today. It was the sound of my Little Buddy returning to normal.

After the hustle and bustle of getting the older kids off to school and saying good-bye to the visiting grandparents I sat down with Mischief to watch a little TV. After a couple of minutes he said,

"Mom, I've been thinking. First I'll have some cheesy noodles, then some soup with fishy crackers, then a fruit cup then maybe some toast and eggs. I'll also have some orange juice and maybe some eggnog. Then can I have some Christmas cookies and some jello. I'd also like a bagel and maybe some Timbits. After that I'll have a snack, too."

"When are you having all this?"

"As soon as you make it for me. And you know in this movie, those guys there, they work for the bad guy and they..." talk, talk, talk.

The boy is on the mend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Lesson in Descriptive Sentences

As much as Dude really does love Christmas he finds the disruption to his routine, especially at school, hard to handle. About this time every year he becomes a little grouchier, a little more resistant to change and tends to lash out more.

One of our goals with Dude is for him to use appropriate, descriptive words to communicate how he is feeling rather than yelling and becoming physical. On our part we try to read his signals and intervene before he becomes agitated, that is why I volunteer at the school so much at this time of year. I make myself as available as possible because, frankly, his teachers have enough on their plate without having to deal with Random Festive Flip-Outs.

So I should have seen it coming.

Dude has spent the majority of this week at home with me. He has gone to school for rehearsals but other than that he has been at home laying low.This has helped for the most part but I knew something was brewing yesterday morning when he emerged from his room wearing his Grinch t-shirt. He grumbled his way through breakfast and complained that we had to rush to the concert hall early.

Once we got there he perked up and was quite helpful setting the stage but things took a turn when the rehearsal started. With the exception of the song his class dances to, Dude hardly sang and definitely did not crack a smile. When we returned home after the rehearsal he went straight to his room. I didn't see him for a couple of hours.

When he joined us for supper he was still surly and by bedtime he was downright unpleasant to be around. His attitude crossed the line when I told him to get ready for bed and we 'had words'. In his grouching fit he kept saying that he felt bad.

Me - Bad? What do you mean 'bad'? That is not enough information.

Dude - Ugh! Woman, I feel bad. B-A-D! Bad!

Me - Don't call me 'Woman' and bad is not descriptive enough. Do you feel sick, unhappy or grouchy? Explain.

Dude - (deep breath and sigh) Okay, sorry, I don't want to practice for the Christmas concert anymore.

Me - Why?

Dude - Ugh! I am tired of singing Christmas songs. I'd rather have someone throw up in my mouth than ever sing another Christmas song again! Is that enough information?

Yep...more than enough information...and disgustingly descriptive. Good use of your words, Dude...I think.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am pleased to report that after a good night's sleep The Grinch is gone and Dude is very much looking forward to his concert this evening. Phew!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hello, I'm...

Moving to a new community is a strange experience in many ways. Aside from having to navigate a new landscape and find a new hairdresser and locate the best burger in town you have to make friends - some days that burger may feel like your best friend but you need people too.

What I have discovered is that you can be whoever you want to be when you are settling into a new community. You have no past, no one knew you as a kid or a teenager. To these new people you never were a dorky 14 year old, you arrived in their world a fully functional adult...its a beautiful thing.

This week I have been particularly busy at Dude's school. I am helping with props and set design for their winter concert. I have met all sorts of teachers and EAs. As we have been chatting this week the customary questions about who I am, what I do for a living and what my interests are have been asked. Maybe its just me and my occasional bizarre sense of humour but more than once in the past week or so I have fought the urge to make up stuff about myself.

"You want to know about me? Oh well, I'm a professional juggler, a former private investigator and before the octopus attack I was a marine biologist. I have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro eight times, train circus sharks in my spare time and my father is Barry Gibb."

Now before you freak out, Mom, I didn't say any of that...I could have, but I didn't.

The point is I have found that moving to a new town, meeting a whole new group of people oddly liberating. I have let go of some of my baggage and insecurities and am trying to be the person I have always wanted to be. Its a fresh start, a clean slate and in some ways, a do-over. And as free as I feel now this experience has also reminded me that it shouldn't take a total life upheaval to change, to become something different, something more. We should allow ourselves, and others, to continue to grow and change.

Don't stay the same if you are unhappy. Be the person who you have always dreamed of being...and be gracious enough to accept the changes in the people around you, too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Awed, Amazed and Inspired

I just spent the morning at Dude's Winter Concert rehearsal and I am awed, amazed and inspired by the teachers at his school. By all teachers, really.

As I sat there, praying the props I made didn't fall apart during the performance, I watched the hive of activity in the auditorium in absolute wonder. One teacher was walking through the risers making kids spit their gum into a Styrofoam cup while another teacher tried to sort out the order that the kids were to stand in. Another teacher was on the stage reviewing lines with the actors while yet another was adjusting mics and props. A few EAs were straightening chairs and mopping up the quickly melting snow from the aisle while a few more helped a group of students finish up their homework from the previous night. Still more teachers and EAs were putting up decorations, hanging up coats, picking up stray mitts and hats, handing out kleenex and a myriad of other tasks. And in the center of it all was the music teacher who was calmly giving directions and answering dozens of questions at once.

As I watched the teachers and students pull together their performance I thought about the general chaos and busyness of this season. We all have a million things on our plates, a never ending list of places to be, things to buy and treats to bake. We rush around in a flurry of activity trying our best to hold onto our holiday spirit as we scurry about making last minute preparations. We are all busy but teachers, I think, have twice the pressure.

Not only do they have their own families and children to care for but they also have the added responsibility to balance the needs and expectations of their students (and their families). I have volunteered in my kids' schools enough to know that teachers rarely leave their work at 'the office' especially at this time of year. Most teachers spend countless added hours making holiday treats, planning crafts, finding appropriate 'fresh' ideas for poems, songs and activities to add to our children's holiday season. The work is seemingly endless yet they do it, and they do it willingly and with a joyful heart.

These teachers, EAs and school support staff are extraordinary people. Remember that and bless them this holiday season with your appreciation and kind words.......and very nice gifts ;-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Worst of the Human Race

When you watch the news and see report after report about crime sprees, car chases and general lack of respect for law and order do you ever wonder what happened to these people to cause them to turn into criminals and social misfits? Weren't we all innocent children once?

Yes we were....then we turned three years old.

I sincerely believe that all the criminals, dictators, warlords and bullies of the world are the way they are because they never socially progressed past being three years old. Three year olds are the worst of the human race.

Really, look at the behavior of most three year olds then compare it to the average career criminal. The similarities are startling. They take what they want without care or concern for who it belongs to, they don't respect authority, they push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, they go on raging rampages when things don't go as they planned, they rarely respond well to punishment and they enjoy a good chase. The only real difference is that three year olds have dimples and baby cuteness working in their favour.

Its the three-year-old's moments of angelic sweetness and random cutness that generally save them from parental abandonment. God designed it that way. He knew that the beast known as The Toddler would spend its days trying the patience of even the most sainted adult therefore God created the little creature to look like an angel when it sleeps and to spontaneously give hugs and say "I love you, Mommy" at key moments. Its like a survival instinct they have. The three-year-old knows just how far to push their adult before reigning in their behaviour and playing the 'Cute Card.'

I did not enjoy any of my children very much when they were three and frankly it is a miracle that we all survived this phase - though it was touch and go some days! When Dude was three I also became three. I often found myself engaging in arguments with him at his level...and I never won. With Crafty her Post Naps Cries and basic emotional instability nearly did me in and Mischief's blatant disregard for authority had me on the brink. More than once during those years I thought about how it was acceptable in the Old Testament to give your child to the church and wondered if it would work nowadays.

I did learn a few things along the way though. I learned that if you lock yourself in the bathroom with the fan on and the water running it almost drowns out the sound of your kid pitching a fit in his room. I learned that if you take a step back from your wailing child in a store and say loudly, "Where are this kid's parents? They should really do something about this!" people won't realise you are responsible for the little terror.

Seriously, folks the best and only advice I can give parents of three year olds is this:

Do not engage...and this too shall pass.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fiction Friday - SENSE AND SENSIBILTY by Jane Austen

Do you ever have those times when all you want to do is sit back with an old friend and have a good chat? Times when you'd give anything for just a few minutes of peace and quiet to catch up with your pal except your pal died 193 years ago so you have to settle for reading one of the spectacular books she wrote? Yeah, me too.

I firmly believe that had I had the chance to know Jane Austen we would have been great friends. She was spunky and witty and completely divine and the work she left behind is an unmatched commentary of life and the role and expectations of women in society in the late 1700s. Of her six completed novels Sense and Sensibility is my favourite except for Pride and Prejudice, oh and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion...anyway, it is one of my top six favourite Jane Austen novels.

Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters who are polar opposites. Elinor, the elder sister, is practical, levelheaded and responsible whereas Marianne, the younger sister, is emotional, sentimental and impulsive. Although both sisters find themselves disappointed in love, it is how they each deal with the disappointment and what they learn about themselves and each other that propels the story.

Austen created a cast of characters that bring humor and light and charm to this novel in a way that is truly timeless. From the selfish sister in law to the nosey neighbors to the empathetic and unlikely rescuer of the Dashwoods, the characters give the landscape of country cottages, rolling hillsides and opulent galas colour and life. The joys and heartaches experienced by the Dashwoods are so universal that contemporary readers will easily find themselves identifying with these characters and the journey they are on.

I love classic literature so much that it never occurred to me that some readers find Austen, Dickens and Bronte too daunting and therefore stick with contemporary fiction. How sad! So today my hope is to inspire just one person who has never spent an afternoon with Jane to pick up Sense and Sensibility (the book first, then you may watch the movie) get lost in her world of wit and charm and recovered love.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

They Belong to Me

Three years ago today our wee Alex William slipped away from us.

Even though it has been three years since we lost him (and nine months earlier our girl, Jessie Joy) I still hesitate before I answer the question, how many kids do you have? We have three here with us but in my heart I am a mother of five.

I'd wager that nearly every woman who has experienced the loss of a pregnancy or the trauma of a still birth has the same hesitation when answering that question. For us, its not a miscarriage, its the death of a child and all the hopes and dreams that go with it.

From the moment most women even suspect they are pregnant the dreaming begins. Will it be a girl with downy soft curls and a sweet smile or a rambunctious little guy with his dad's killer smile? Will this one be the quiet one who is born potty trained, likes to clean and prefers a good book to a noisy toy or will this one be like the other ones, crazy, busy, loud and hilarious? We daydream about staring into their squinty little face for the first time and recognizing them because they belong to us.

And when something goes wrong, when we never get the chance to feel their baby breath on our necks as we cuddle them in the night, they still belong to us. They are still with us at holidays, birthday parties and in family pictures. They are a shadow and a light that dance through our lives and live in our hearts. They are a part of us.

This kind of loss is never easy to talk about. Sometimes there's a stigma attached to it and often it makes people feel uncomfortable. But its okay. Its okay to remember and honour all your children. Its okay to talk about them and its okay to miss them. Its okay to say their name and dream of the person they might have been.

After we lost Jessie I had a dream. I was standing at an open window overlooking a summer meadow. The wind was dancing through the trees and causing the wild flowers to sway and bob. Everything was green and lush and light. As I looked more closely I could see that the meadow was full of children. They were laughing and running and playing together and in the midst of them one little girl caught my eye. She had shoulder length golden brown hair that glistened in the sun as she twirled among the tall grass and flowers. I didn't see her face but I recognized her. She belonged to me.

That's the place I think of when I remember Jessie and Alex. That's the place I know they are safe and happy and waiting to meet me one day when I am old and gray. Anyway, today I just wanted you to know that I have five kids. Dude, Crafty, Mischief, Jessie and Alex.

 I'm Jessie and Alex's mom too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hunter-Girl

Our last house was a 90 year old character home complete with creaky stairs, drafty hallway and a creepy basement. I loved the house from the moment I saw it and Mr. Awesome loathed it until the moment we moved out.

A house like that can get your imagination going if you let it...and sometimes your imagination can get carried away. As you've read, our kids have pretty active imaginations and I love that about them. I love that they can turn any household object into a treasure, a campfire or a component to a spaceship. As much as I love their imaginations sometimes I worry for them because I was a kid (and now an adult) with a well developed imagination and I know how easy it is to freak yourself out. That's why we are careful about what they watch and read.

One morning last spring Mr. Awesome and I were enjoying, or trying to enjoy, a bit of a sleep in when we heard rustling and banging outside our bedroom door. We could surmise that it was the boys and from the sounds of it they were playing some kind of hunting game with their NERF guns.

Crafty - What are you doing?

Dude - We're ghost hunting.

I cringed when I heard this because more than anything else the idea of ghosts really gets to Crafty.

Crafty - There's no such thing as ghosts.

Mischief - Yes there is.

Crafty -  No there isn't!

Dude - Yes there is, I saw it on a commercial!

I prepared myself to get out of bed to break up the inevitable yelling match that was sure to follow this exchange but instead of yelling there was silence...and that worried me just as much!

Crafty - Can I see your gun?

One of the boys gave their gun to her and we heard the sound of the trigger being pulled twice and the soft 'thwap' of the foam dart hitting its target.

Dude - Ouch, what was that for?

Crafty - I'm hunting dufuses and I got two. (she started walking down the stairs) there's no such thing as ghosts!

I smiled and snuggled back into my pillow...Thata girl, Crafty!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Breakfast Before Dying

Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day but it also may rob me of my sanity.

I am not a morning person, never have been, and the kids know it. Its best for all concerned if everyone just sticks to the routine and we get to school (and Tim Horton's) as soon as possible. I'm not a major grouch in the morning, I just don't like to talk and I don't respond well to loud noises and general mayhem and chaos. Other than that I am a pleasure and a joy to be with in the morning.

This morning, like every morning, I stumbled out of bed and down the hall to call the kids upstairs for breakfast. I vaguely remember setting out the cereal and milk and telling the kids that they had 20 minutes to eat before they had to get dressed. I then stumbled back to my room to shower and dress.

Twenty minutes later I returned to the kitchen to make sure the kids were nearly done eating. They hadn't even started. When I questioned them as to why they were just starting to eat here's what I was told,

Crafty: Mischief choked on some cereal. He was coughing like crazy.

Dude: I thought he was going to die or something, like maybe he'd have to go to the hospital.

Crafty: So we took him to the hospital.

Mischief: The ambulance came and everything. I really was dying.

Crafty: At the hospital the doctors tried to help him

Dude: But he died.

Crafty: So we had to have a funeral for him.

Dude: We just finished putting him in the ground.

Mischief: You should have been here, it was really sad. I'm really going to miss you.

Crafty: You're not really dead, we were just pretending.

Mischief: (sniff, sniff) right, I forgot. Pass the milk please.

I just shook my head and went back to the morning routine knowing that one day all too soon I will miss mornings like this one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cruel and Inhumane

Ever listen to kids Christmas music? If not, don't...and if you have, I'm sorry and I feel your pain.

This past weekend our kids participated in their Christmas concert for church. The mumrmerings and stammerings of the song they had been practicing for weeks suddenly came into sharp and cruel focus during the dress rehearsal. It had already been a long, busy yet good day. I had all but finished my Christmas shopping, attended a birthday party, spent some time with my sister and I was finishing up the day with the dress rehearsal. I was tired but a good kind of tired.

Knowing my aversion to kids music and loving me deeply, Mr. Awesome stopped by Starbucks on our way to the rehearsal and procured for me the most delicious and soothing latte I had ever tasted. I entered the auditorium, found a seat and hunkered down. I tried to brace myself for what was to come. I had learned from past years that if I chatted with other parents, read a book or wandered the halls during the rehearsal I can buffer myself against the worst it. But the music started without warning and caught me off guard. I had not had a chance to form my defence strategy and I knew I was in trouble.

Even the power of the latte was not strong enough to protect me from The Song. After listening to about a hundred kids sing (yell) the same song over and over again for an hour, I left the rehearsal rattled and irritated. It seemed that everything I said for the rest of the evening rhymed and had the same four count beat to it. I honestly felt like I had entered another dimension and was now residing in Suessland. The worst of it was knowing that it wasn't over. We still had to survive the performance.

Now two days later, the performance long over, I still have the chorus from that annoying song incessantly running through my head. I have listened to other music, watched a movie, had many conversations and even tried to clear my mind through meditation (sort of) and still that blessed song is there. Its so irritatingly catchy that I am fighting the urge to poke my eardrums out. The only thing stopping me from that level of self harm is that I know the song is not in my ears...it is in my brain. It has invaded and infested my inner being and I will never be rid of it!

Seriously, this is the stuff cruel and inhumane torture is made of.

Where's my coffee....happy Monday, folks ;-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fiction Friday - For Sadie by Nichole M. Forbes

Since many of you have been asking I thought I would give you a little sample of the fiction I write. This short story was written for a contest with my writers group. Although I didn't win I did get some very good feedback so after brushing it up a little I'm offering it to you. Enjoy!

The house was still except for the soft creaking of Violet Dane’s chair as she rocked back and forth, back and forth. She had spent many years in the same rocking chair at the same window. She watched as the world wandered in and out of her view from the front room of her colonial style home.

Her grandfather had built this house, his dream house, when he was a young man. Three stories, five bedrooms, two formal sitting rooms, a den and a library; it was a thing of beauty. New to North America and naive to the harsh winters that the prairies could bring, his neighbors mocked the young Irishman and his ‘monstrosity,’ and wondered how he would ever heat it. But Colum Dane had a creative mind and perseverance. It took him nearly ten years to complete but the ten inch stone walls, six fireplaces and large wood stove in the kitchen kept the family warm in the winter for nearly a hundred years.

Violet loved to walk through the spacious rooms of her family home and remember happier, busier times. First, when she was a young girl and later when the house was filled with her own children. The sounds of laughter and chaos would echo through the halls. Now the only sounds in the house were the slow shuffle of her footsteps on the pristine hardwood floors and the conversations she had with Sadie, her younger sister.

Violet reached for her china cup and saucer that sat on the side table to her left. The grandfather clock in the dining room chimed, and right on cue the sound of children’s voices floated into the sitting room through the open window.

“Sadie, it’s the children. They are walking to school; hurry or you’ll miss them!” Violet called into the kitchen and she leaned forward in her chair so she could see the all the way down the street. She loved this time of the day, the children all freshly washed and excited for a day of play and learning. As always every child who passed her house smiled and waved as they balanced on the short stone wall that marked Violet’s front garden.

Often mothers would admonish their children for walking so near to Ms. Danes’ flowers but Violet never minded. She always said it kept her young to have children around her.

“It keeps me young,” Violet said aloud. She looked over her shoulder to see if Sadie was coming. “You’re going to miss the children.”

Sadie emerged from the kitchen and ambled over to the window. Just then two little girls came skipping down the street holding hands. Sadie watched them intently for a moment.

“Remind you of anyone?” Violet laughed. Sadie smiled back at Violet then returned to the kitchen. Violet sat back in her chair and closed her eyes. She could see two other little girls very clearly in her mind’s eye. The older one walked straight and tall, carrying her books close to her chest. Everything from the crisply pressed skirt to the simple braid that hung down her back said responsibility and order. The attention to detail that was so visible in the older girl was in stark contrast to the younger girl’s free spirit.

The younger girl had wild blonde curls that framed her face like a lion’s mane. Her clothes hung from her willowy body haphazardly and she bounced rather than walked down the sidewalk. It was almost as though the younger girl moved through time to music that only she could hear. She was as impulsive and daring as her sister was responsible. A more unlikely pair you wouldn’t find but they were inseparable.

“And still are,” Violet said to no one in particular as she eased from her rocking chair. She stood for a moment, allowing all of her aching joints to adjust to the new position and watched the last of the children cross the street into the schoolyard. She turned away from the window and scanned the room with a critical eye.

“Something is amiss-” Violet whispered as she looked from table to mantle to sofa. “Ha! There it is! I know you thought you’d get me this time, Sadie!” Violet picked up her cane and limped over to the sofa where she plucked one silver hair from the pillow and put it in her pocket. She then picked up the sateen pillow, shook it exactly four times, set it down and with the side of her hand pushed a dimple into the middle of the pillow.

“Humph, you’re not funny, Missy,” Violet made her way into the kitchen where Sadie was standing next to an open recipe book. “So what kind shall it be today?”

Sadie stepped away from the counter allowing Violet to have a closer look.

“Ah, I should have known. Oatmeal Raisin, all right then. Have a seat and I’ll get to work.”

The sisters spent the next twenty minutes in comfortable silence as Violet measured, mixed and stirred. As she spooned the lumpy mixture onto the baking sheet she was reminded, as always, of another day years ago.

The sisters returned from school to find a note from their mother waiting for them beside a plate of cookies. The note said mother was out running errands but she would return before supper and that Violet was to pour the milk for their snack.


“But I don’t like ginger snaps, Vi. I’d rather have oatmeal raisin cookies,” Sadie whined.


“Sadie Rose, you’ll eat what’s in front of you,” Violet used her best imitation of their mother. “I have a test tomorrow so I am going upstairs to study. Do not bother me!” Violet took a ginger snap off the plate, turned on her heel and stalked importantly from the room.

The beeping of the timer brought Violet back to the present. She opened the oven and the room was instantly filled with the smells of warm oatmeal and sweet cinnamon. Violet carefully lifted the warm cookies off the baking sheet and laid them on the cooling rack.

“Let them cool for a couple of minutes before you take one, I’m feeling tired, I am going to rest for a bit.” Violet said and smiled at Sadie before leaving the room.

She shuffled over to the sofa and slowly lowered herself onto the worn velvet surface. She lifted one leg then the other onto the sofa and then reclined, allowing the warmth of the morning sunshine to wash over her. She exhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

Violet was sitting in the middles of her bedroom floor, books strewn around her as she took notes from one and cross referenced another.


“Vi? Vi, are you in there?” Sadie whispered. Violet could see her sister’s clear blue eye peering through the keyhole.


“Sadie! Go away, I’m studying!” Violet shouted and threw her shoe at the door.


“Ouch! Vi, you don’t have to get so angry! I was just going to ask you to help me make oatmeal raisin cookies!” Sadie said. Violet could hear the hurt in her sister’s voice, and it made her feel a little bad, but she had an important test the next day.


“Sadie, I’ll help you later. Promise,” Violet sighed.


“Fine,” Sadie said and Violet could hear her stomping all the way back down the stairs.

“You should have waited, I would have come,” Violet mumbled. “But I made you cookies today, do you forgive me?” Violet exhaled slowly and then she was gone.
Thursday morning the police arrived at Violet’s house to check on her. Neighbors had become concerned when they didn’t see her in her front window waving at the children as they passed so they called the local precinct. The police found her laid out peacefully on her ornate sofa in her pristine living room. When they entered the kitchen, looking for a the name or phone number of a family member they were stunned to see thousands upon thousands of cookies in sealed plastic bags covering ever possible surface. When they opened cupboards more cookies fell out.

The younger of the two officers picked up one of the bags and turned it over in his hand. There was a label that read ‘For Sadie’ on it. He glanced around the room, noticing that each bag bore a similar label. When he turned to ask his partner what her take was he notice a single newspaper clipping taped to the ancient refrigerator. It read;

On Tuesday last, the Dane family of 543 Elm Row, suffered a tragedy when their youngest daughter, Sadie Rose, age 10, perished in a house fire that was believed to be a result of overstocking the wood stove. She leaves her parents Edward and Clarisse Dane and older sister Violet, age 14, who was home alone with her at the time of the incident.

The newspaper bore a date from 75 years earlier.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ye Shall Swing from the Gallows!

As a parent when I think of pirates my mind still goes to Captain Feathersword, Captain Jack and depending on the day I've had, occasionally to Captain Morgan.  ;-) But when I watch the news or go online I see that pirates are still a very real threat...and they live in our communities, frequent our grocery stores and even sit next to us in our churches.

From a young age most of us are taught that stealing is wrong. We would never dream of entering some one's home and taking their property, stealing their car or emptying their bank account. Stealing is wrong, plain and simple but somehow when we change the name of the act we are suddenly fine with it.

We all know people, or maybe you are the person, who downloads movies or shares music files. Downloading and sharing don't sound wrong, in fact, aren't we supposed to share? Yes, sharing is good if you, for example, bought a dozen cookies sharing one with a friend is the polite thing to do. But if you stole the cookies and gave one to a friend, that's 'accessory after the fact' - not so nice.

Pirating, or illegal downloading, is not a problem that only exists in the music and film industries but one that is affecting the publishing industry as well. I had no idea how widespread this issue is until yesterday. Maybe its because I'm naive or maybe its because I think people who are avid readers are better than this but I never would have imagined that thousands upon thousands of books are illegally downloaded everyday.

I am a member of an amazing writer's group. These people have taught me volumes about writing, editing, finding my voice and navigating the choppy waters of the publishing world. Many of them are successful published authors but none of them are rich. They have all worked long, hard, lonely and frustrating hours to get where they are and now they are being robbed.

People are buying books and scanning them or uploading eBooks to third party sites and either selling them, and keeping the profits for themselves, or giving the links away for free. The author who has spent months and sometimes years writing, editing and marketing their work is not being paid for their efforts. One friend went to one link on one site yesterday and discovered that her book had been stolen 40,000 times...just from that one link. Those are the kinds of numbers that turn you from a professional writer into a volunteer.

So before you steal another song, movie or book ask yourself (or your pirate friend), would I want to work for free? Intellectual property is still property...don't steal!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Of Babies and Monkeys and Old Folks

Babies...I don't really see the draw. These tiny humans are as cute as hairless, drooling, incontinent beings can be I guess but really, I don't get it.

I've never been a baby person, in the general sense. I'm not the person aching to hold every new baby I see and I often struggle to find something complimentary to say to new mothers about their squishy, wrinkly infant. All babies are precious and gifts from God but seriously, most of them look like monkeys or old folks for the first month or longer. Mine did.

Dude looked like Red Buttons for the first six weeks then he transformed into George Dzundza. Crafty was a monkey for almost two months before she became Jessica Tandy and Mischief started as Ben Kingsley and stayed that way until he finally grew some hair around the six month mark. Happily this phase doesn't last forever. Just about the time they begin to look human and cute they also begin to develop some skills.

This is when I like them! Maybe it was the sleep deprivation and the day to day chaos of being a new mom but I don't have a lot of clear memories of my own kids at this age but as an aunt, I am having a blast with my niece.

She's almost three now (that's a whole different ball game!) but for the past two years or so she has been a riot! Bizzy (a reference to her bizarre sense of humour and her dizzy dance skills) is a quirky little kid with a great sense of humour and she has quickly learned the art of teasing. She is random and hilarious and she says I'm her favourite.

I love watching her as she experiences everything for the first time, develops her own sense of self and forms opinions on the world she sees. She is fiercely independent, sassy and clever. And to top it all off, she has a New York accent, go figure!

So, Baby-lovers, you can keep your drooling, floppy, old monkey-babies...give me the beast known as The Toddler!
:-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Opinions are Like...

I'm sure you've heard that saying before. Y'know the one about opinions, everyone has got one. Well, that's how I feel about parenting 'experts'.

I have spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars over the years buying books and attending seminars about parenting. I have worn my library card out and have googled until my fingertips bled (not really but it sounds impressive...and messy). I am hungry for information but I learned very early on in my parenting journey not to react to everything I read, I glean what resonates with me and ignore the rest.

For every book written offering parenting tips and techniques there are just as many that give opposing advice. From the pages of these bestsellers I have learned that I should always pick my baby up when she cries or she will have attachment issues, let my baby self-soothe or he will be an insecure, whiny, self-centered adult. Potty train during infancy or my baby will grow up to have poor self esteem, don't pressure my child to use the potty because that creates stress and anxiety in her as she grows. Have my child listen to classical music so his brain will be stimulated, do not introduce any manufactured sounds to my infant because it stunts the growth of her brain. The contradicting advice is endless!

Now add a kid with extra needs into the mix and watch the experts spin!

The bottom line is this, there is no such thing as a parenting expert. Just because someone writes a book and people buy it in droves does not make them an expert...it may make them rich, but not an expert.

Read, gather information and use what works for you and your family. YOU are the expert on your own kids. Don't let a current trend or the opinion of some well credentialed writer talk you into parenting in a way that doesn't feel right or work for you. Parenting is largely instinctual and if you spend time getting to know your kids and being honest with yourself you'll find your way.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Things that go Hee-Haw in the Night

There have been some strange happenings in This Random Family lately.

Ever since The Wee Ones were...well...wee they have all been good sleepers. Its been a point of pride for Mr. Awesome and I that no matter how unruly and asylum-like our house is during the daytime hours when the sun goes down so do our kids. It has always been the one time of day where there is no fighting, whining or negotiations. The Random Bedtime Rule is you go to bed and you stay in bed, that's it.

Or is it?

For the past couple of weeks our kids have been waking up in the night and either coming to our bed or turning on the TV and sleeping in the Family Room. This is not okay. We have been a houseful of grouchy zombies. No one is getting enough sleep, we are all bickering and now we are starting to get sick from being so run down. The straw that broke the camel's back though was the other night when Dude crawled into bed beside Mr. Awesome, who then rolled over and launched me onto the floor. I decided it was well past time to get to the bottom of all this.


At lunch we held a little family meeting to discuss what has us all up at night. All of the kids mentioned having bad dreams. We talked about what is real and not real and what we should do if we feel scared at night. Before long everyone was joking around and feeling more confident that angry clowns are not going to 'get them' and there are no such things as ghosts.

When the laughter subsided everyone finished their lunch and began to get ready to go back to school. Everyone was almost ready to go when Mischief, looking quite worried, said,

"Just remember guys, some dreams are really serious though, like the dream I had about that donkey. It was really scary."

"What was so scary about a donkey?" asked Crafty.

"Don't you know? When they're mad donkeys kick and stuff! That freaks me out!"

Friday, November 26, 2010

All this without a coffee!

This morning I had Parent/Teacher meetings (or as they are now called, Student Lead Conferences) with each of the kids' teachers. The first starting at 8:30am. Ugh. I had intended to get up early, shower, do my hair and be alert for the first meeting but things didn't turn out that way.

Last night we had a family movie night. We watched How to Train Your Dragon, a flick the kids have wanted to see for ages. After the movie we tucked the kids in for the night and I finally gave in and did something Mr. Awesome has been begging me to do for ages...I agreed to watch Iron Man 2 with him. By 11pm Mr. Awesome was asleep on the couch and I was watching the movie by myself.

By the time I got to bed it was laaa-aate, so when my alarm clock went off at 7 I instinctively turned it off and went back to sleep. In the back of my mind I knew that I had to get up but sleep was just too tempting and I gave in.

I was woken an hour and 15 minutes later to the sounds of spoons hitting bowls and nearly had a panic attack. I grabbed my jeans from the bedroom floor, pulled on a t-shirt and a hoodie then stuffed my bedhead under a hat. As I hopped down the hallway, pulling my socks on, I yelled to the kids that we needed to hustle.

Crafty and Mischief dropped their spoons and ran to their rooms to get dressed. Dude, on the other hand, had an Asperger moment. He physically could not make himself stop and stray from his set morning routine. I tried to talk him into leaving the table to get dressed but he couldn't wrap his brain around it. I ended up taking him by the hand and walking him to his room. Once I handed him his clothes he finally snapped to and got dressed.

In the meantime I ran outside and started the Jeep. Then I ran back inside and scrambled to collect the report cards and portfolios from around the house. I yelled to the kids once more, 'In the Jeep, everyone, hustle!' It was 8:26...I had four minutes to make it to the school.

I pulled into the parking lot at 8:28, thank God for 4x4s, and hauled the kids down the hall to Dude's classroom. I left Crafty and Mischief in the hall, threatening them with all kinds of disciplinary action if they fought, argued, moved, talked, laughed or breathed while I was in the meeting.

We made it through that meeting and raced over to the elementary school for Mischief and Crafty's meetings. I was feeling pretty good about making it through the morning and decided to reward the kids by stopping in at the book fair and letting them pick something out. While the kids browsed I chatted with one of the teachers. Dude walked up to us to ask about a book he had chosen and the teacher asked him how he felt things were going, meaning how he felt the school year was going so far. He didn't even think about it for a second before he replied,

"Not very smoothly. I didn't get breakfast this morning and I don't like the socks I am wearing. Things were a bit crazy this morning because mom slept in, she did not come to the kitchen until 8:19. That is much too late. And I'm pretty sure she didn't shower because under that hat her hair is crazy. So, no, I don't think things are going very well."

The teacher and I looked at each other. I just shook my head and said, "I'm pretty sure she was asking how school is going so far?"

"Oh! In that case, I think it is going quite well."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Now it is Christmas!

I LOOOOVE this time of the year. As much as I love autumn and decorating my house with scarecrows, finding the kids Halloween costumes and celebrating Thanksgiving with family this is the time of the year a long for.

The snow and the carols and the twinkling lights all draw me in. I can't wait to say my first 'Merry Christmas' of the year and wrap gifts and address Christmas cards. I daydream about the Christmas tree and how we will decorate it. I spend hours pouring over cookbooks, making my list of Christmas baking. And its not just me, my whole family is like this.

My sister and I planned Christmas brunch weeks ago, my mom has boxes and boxes of Christmas decor that she lovingly and deliberately unpacks each year, placing each ornament in 'the perfect' spot and my dad obsesses over Christmas lights...all Christmas lights, the tree, the house and even the lights in his tiny Dickens village. And I am proud to say that I have passed this Whoville tradition on to the kids, too.

Dude has been wearing a Christmas hat (he has four) to school everyday for a couple of weeks, Crafty has been busy making decorations for the pink Christmas tree that will be in her room this year and Mischief has been practicing his song for the Christmas concert incessantly for days and days.

As the hustle and bustle of the season kicks into high gear I like to take one day to mellow out and savour the season. As all of my American friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, today I seek solitude (only because the kids have to go to school today) and peace as I take a few hours to give thanks for Macy's and their tradition of hosting the most amazing parade on the planet.

I am a sucker for parades. I was thrilled to discover that our new town has one heck of a parade in the late summer and I sit willingly outside for hours in the frigid Manitoba temperatures to make sure I get a great spot at our local Santa Claus parade. These local parades are highlights of my year but nothing compares to today and The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The giant balloons, the bands, the Broadway numbers, celebrities on extravagant floats, the crowds waiting for Santa Claus and, of course, Matt, Al and Meredith commentating....and all of this bliss happens in New York City, one of the most magical places on earth! The excitement is almost overwhelming!

As I snuggle in with my coffee and cozy blanket to watch the first band march into the streets of Central Park West and 77th, I sigh and smile to myself...Now it is Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Trip Down Asperger Alley

Yesterday someone commented to me that they were surprised when they found out that Dude has Asperger's because he seems so normal. I hear that often and its true. Dude is a pretty normal kid...now.

Sometimes I forget how far we've come. We move through our days with relative ease of routine, making adjustments as we go. I rarely think about the day to day stress, heart ache and fear that we experienced when Dude was younger...before we knew what Asperger's was or how to work with it. I don't like to dwell on those Dark Days when we feared that our life would always be consumed with violent outbursts, meltdowns and explaining unexplainable behaviour.

I remember the utter physical and emotional exhaustion I carried with me like old Jacob Marley and his chains. I felt battered and breakable and used up. I was tired of the school calling, of people staring and of the dozens of 'helpful' tips people would offer. Mostly I was tired of watching my sweet, precious, beautiful boy struggle through life. I was tired of seeing the fear and frustration in his eyes, of hearing him cry in his sleep and of seeing him try to harm himself just to stop the pain he was experiencing.

Those were scary times and the only reason for sharing them today is that I know that some of you are walking through the same thing. When I think about our life and all we have been through I literally think of a road. Asperger Alley, if you will. And just like any road you can choose to travel it in secret, or pretend you are not even on it and hope that things will get less bumpy as you go further along. You can even decided to park and live on the road. Or you can admit that this is the road you are on, get the proper vehicle, a good map and keep driving, no matter how bumpy the road gets or how dark the forest ahead appears...just keep driving.

We have found that being honest with Dude, ourselves and the people around us about Asperger's has made our journey much less stressful. We believe that information brings understanding and that Asperger's is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Because we are an open book we have had the privileged to share our story with other parents of kids on The Spectrum and to hear their stories, too. We know that this is a journey and if we keep persevering life for Dude will only get better.

Now, as we are driving down this road I can barely see the Dark Forrest in the rear view mirror because the road ahead is so bright. Just keep driving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Like Mother Like Daughter

I don't often write about Crafty here, mostly because she does not give me very much ammunition, I mean, material to work with. In the past the kid was all kinds of nuttiness but now she has mellowed out and mostly flies under the radar. The only time I get anything from her is when she gets over-excited or a little stressed out...and today she was both.

In a lot of ways Crafty is a lot like me. She likes to craft, write and colour. She is witty and has a quick tongue which is both good and bad and she likes to be goofy when she thinks no one is watching. Another similarity is that neither one of us handles stress particularly well.

To combat some of the stress and anxiety in Crafty's life we try to plan ahead as much as possible. We lay out clothes for the week on Sunday evening so she doesn't have to think about what she is going to wear. She always has an emergency bag of toys and books packed in case we decide to drive to the city on a whim and everything in our life ends up on the calendar. So today should have been a piece of cake right?

Not so much.

A month ago Crafty brought home a note saying that she would be going to the city today to sing at a choral festival. The note specified that she was to wear black pants with a white top, bring a few things to keep her busy on the hour and a half drive and pack a lunch. Easy. We wrote it down on the calendar, including all the details, and started planning for it. We made sure she had a new white shirt and that her pants from last year fit. We changed the batteries in her MP3 player and found a new book at the thrift store. Still, with all our careful planning this morning was still chaos.

The waistband on her pants was still damp from being washed last night, her socks felt weird, the sleeves on her new shirt were too long, her hair...oh, her hair...it was bumpy, static-y, sticking up, too flat, had the wrong hairband, a broken hair clip, a too-small elastic, a too-big elastic, her backpack had too much stuff in it, there was only one boot in the bin, her mitts were crunchy, her jacket puffy, the boys moved her book, the boys hid her MP3 player...

In and around my regular get ready for school chaos I ran around helping Crafty with her dilemmas. She stayed relatively calm and focused through the mayhem and somehow we manage to get everyone in the van and dropped at school on time. Mischief hopped out of the van with his usual, "See ya later mom" and a quick kiss on the cheek and normally Crafty follows suit but this morning she just sat there. I waited a couple of seconds then asked her if she was all right. She sighed and said,

"Yeah, I think I'm nervous."

"Nervous about what?

"Well nervous and excited. Mostly nervous and just a little excited...no, wait...I'm probably a little more excited than nervous. Yep, I am excited and hardly nervous at all. Thanks, Mom, love you!"

With a kiss on my cheek she was off. I watched her disappear into the school and marvelled at the funny little person she is...then I pulled out of the parking lot and headed for Timmie's. This morning definitely called for an Extra-Large Double Double.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Observations from the Road

Here are a few tidbits we have heard while driving thousands of kilometers over the years...

Dude, age 3 at a border crossing to the US -
Boarder Guard - How you folks doing today?
Dude - Fine, I'd like french fries and a coke!

Mischief, age 5 watching snow swirl outside as we drive down the highway - "Look at the snow, it looks just like 3D. I wonder how they do that?"

Crafty, age 4 watching geese fly south (imagine the lisp) - "Those guys should take a bus or something, their arms are going to be so tired when they get to the mall."

Mischief, age 3 - "When I'm bigger I'm going to have a school to teacher other kids how to be Spiderman, but first I have to figure out how to web and stuff."

Crafty, age 7 - "What do you get when you cross an elephant and a kangaroo? Big holes all over Australia. Get it? Get it?"

Dude, age 10 - "Families spread like disease, it starts with one person and then they get married and then they have kids. When their kids grow up, they get married and have kids. It just keeps going and going like that...just like a virus. Of course, you can take a needle for some viruses but I don't think there is a cure to family."

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fiction Friday - WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen


All right, if you know me you have probably heard me rant incessantly about how awesome this book is but I just can't stop!

Released in 2006, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS has been my go to book suggestion for years. I have bought it for Christmas presents, birthday presents and randomly given it away to people who need a taste of good storytelling.

Gruen has created some of the most compelling characters in modern literature, Jacob the veterinary student turned circus vet, Marlena the beautiful performer caught in an abusive marriage with the explosive equestrian director, August and most of all Rosie, the charming elephant that ties these characters together.

Jacob Jankowski was an ivy league student until his parents death, just ten days before graduation. Left with nothing but an overwhelming sense of loss, Jacob wanders away from the life he had and unknowingly into the centre of the tumultuous Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets a wild array of characters including Kinko the dwarf clown, Camel the alcoholic roustabout, Barbara the cooch girl and of course Marlena and August.

When the circus acquires Rosie, the elephant whose only apparent trick is drinking gin and eating copious amounts of watermelon, Jacob gets pulled further into the complicated life that surrounds his new found family of ragtag performers and working men. His disdain for August's cruelty and his growing love for Marlena forces Jacob into keeping a secret that impacts the rest of his life.

As the 90 or 93 year old Jacob narrates the story of his experience aboard the circus train the reader is guided through the wonderful and strange world of this Depression-era circus. We are treated to vivid descriptions of the life and habits of the circus in a way that adds to the flavour and pace of the story. Every paragraph and page leaves the reader hungry for more. Each scene is laid out perfectly, with the right balance of character, action and description.

Pick up WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, read it and let it become one of your favourites too!

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS the movie, featuring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christof Waltz, is due to be released in Spring of 2011.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Dorky One

The thing you should know about me is, I'm a dork. No, no...its true just ask my sister.

As I kid I was always much taller than most kids in my class and I felt it. I was all arms and legs and feet...very big feet. I was clumsy and had a huge over bite which lead to braces and other orthodontic torture devices. I loved Star Trek and History Television (I blame my dad) and had a weird obsession with panda bears for most of my preteen years.

But somehow I survived. I made it through my teen years with most of my self esteem in tact and a fairly decent number of friends. I found my way through university where, honestly, everyone is a bit dorky and I sailed into adulthood with more confidence than any recovering Trekkie should rightfully have. And as I got a little older and became a wife and mother I thought I had left my dorky years behind me.

Wrong.

Doing this blog has been wonderful. I enjoy the routine of sitting down with my cup of coffee and my fuzzy socks (which are missing!) and writing little tidbits about the people and things I care about. I love seeing 'like' count on Facebook rise and seeing the user counter on my blog stat page increase a little everyday. I enjoy the comments and encouragements I receive in emails and FB messages but its the face to face interactions that instantly bring out my inner-dork.

I can't handle compliments, seriously, I can't. I get red-faced, awkward and if the interaction lasts longer than ten seconds I start to sweat and get light headed. I have a standard line I have practiced in hopes of not coming off like a total loser when people talk to me but I don't think its working. More than once in the last week or so I have found myself standing in front of very kind and generous readers, being blessed with compliments and all I can offer in return is a few twitchy stammers of appreciation before I find an excuse to high tail it out of there.
So Friends, I don't mean to be rude. Please keep reading and enjoying my crazy little stories. 'Like' 'Comment' and 'Share' til your hearts content on Facebook and even feel free to approach me in person just be gentle and remember...I am an incurable dork.

Thanks ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Home

I have just experienced four days of relaxing bliss.

Mr. Awesome and I ran away for the weekend and then some. We stayed up late, slept in, ate at grown up restaurants, had grown up conversations and a lot of laughs. We talked about the kids, marvelled at the people they are becoming. We talked about our past and our future . It was heavenly.

As much fun as we had we were happy to head home to see the Wee Ones. Despite the chaos that our life is we missed being with the kids. It was wonderful to walk in the door and feel all those little arms around us. We were soon engulfed in the chatter and busyness of their world and within minutes we were well on our way to being caught up on what happened while we were away.

We spent an hour or so cuddling with the kids and hearing about their weekend. We read a couple of stories, played with Lego and were treated to a fashion show by Crafty. We were still in our happy little vacation bubble and the kids were there with us...until bedtime.

That's when the familiar chaos erupted.

Crafty couldn't find her doll, Dude wanted a different blanket and Mischief was hiding. There was home reading to finish, teeth to be brushed and toys to be picked up. Dude didn't like the music playing, Mischief, once found, didn't want to take his inhaler and Crafty couldn't decide what clothes to lay out for the morning.

Finally, after 45 minutes of running up and down the stairs and in and out of bedrooms we got all of the kids settled. Mr. Awesome sat down to return a few phone calls and I decided to have a long hot shower. I was just relaxing, enjoying the feel of the hot water rushing over my head when there was a knock on the shower door.

"You having a good shower, Mom?"

"Yeah, Mischief, I am. What are you doing out of bed?"

"I'm just checking on you, making sure you're not too lonely in there."

Yep, I'm home.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise a Soldier

This morning we bundled up the kids, pinned on our poppies and headed down to Portage and Home street in Winnipeg, like we do every November 11. It is there that The Royal Winnipeg Rifles hold their Remembrance Day service. We have been going to this service for years, partly because it is very family friendly and partly because Dude likes it when they fire their weapons.

I love to look around at the 200 or so people who attend every year. It is a very diverse crowd that gathers to pay tribute. There are always dozens of young families, plenty of mature couples and even several dogs and their owners who huddle together against the snow and wind. We come together for half an hour once a year to remember and honour the Fallen Brave.

This year, more so than previous years, it hit me that today is not only about the men who served and died decades ago. It is also about the young, very young, people who serve now.

Recently I was in a church service in our town where a young soldier was being recognised before his deployment to Afghanistan. I didn't know this young guy but I wept as his youth pastor spoke. He talked of seeing a mischievous young boy grow into a man of integrity, honour and compassion. He shared stories of how this young man worked long hours at summer jobs so that he could afford to go on mission trips, how he was a natural leader among his peers and a true hero in our community. What touched me the most was when people who had watched this boy grow into a man stood and flooded the stage area to surround him and his family in prayer.

I realised then that the decision to serve is not only about the soldier but also about the families and communities that release and support them. So today as I stood in the midst of this crowd, surrounded by family, strangers and servicemen, I prayed. I prayed for wisdom, guidance and safety for all of those who are serving. I prayed for peace and comfort for their families and I prayed that we would never forget that it is the individual men and women who willingly give up the comforts and familiarity of home to ensure peace, protection and freedom for us all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Exercise in Sacrifice

On the evening of August 18, 1942 the men of The South Saskatchewan Regiment were gathered and told that they would be going on another training exercise. The men were taken to Southampton and loaded on to one of two ships, the 'Princess Beatrix' or the 'Invicta.' Once on board the troops were issued new guns and grenades, it was then that they realised that they were about to embark on something much more than a training exercise.

Throughout the night the men we're briefed on Operation Jubilee, the Allied forces first attempt at a France invasion. Along with the SSR, troops from 13 other regiments, including the 14th Army Tank Regiment were being similarly prepped. As the ships sailed toward Dieppe in the calm, cool predawn hours a German convoy spotted the ships and opened fire on the on the far flank. Unable to communicate effectively with the other ships due to damage to the aerial, the raid continued as scheduled, no one knowing for sure if the Germans on shore had been alerted to the coming attack.

At approximately 5am, the first troops of Operation Jubilee landed on the beaches of Dieppe. The men of the SSR were assigned the task of securing Pourville, a small village to the east of Dieppe that was a major defensive position for the German Forces. It was through Pourville, or GREEN BEACH, that other regiments would pass and rendezvous for the assault on Dieppe. It was vital that the SSR secure the bridge and two main roads that sectioned through Pourville swiftly and completely.

Due to choppy seas and mist, the majority of the men landed on the wrong side of the river estuary in Pourville, creating confusion and a hasty scramble to position themselves correctly. By this time the Germans were on full alert and were spraying all beaches with gunfire and mortar blasts. Most of the first wave of the SSR were able to scale the sea wall and make their way through the treacherous barbed wire to begin their sweep of the houses along the first streets.

This successful advance was short lived as it soon became apparent that the Germans were better prepared than first anticipated. Most of the key objectives were well guarded by pillboxes and slit trenches containing dozens of German soldiers with machine guns and heavy artillery. The men of SSR made many brave and valiant attempts at securing Pourville, losing many good men along the way. In the end they were called to retreat along with the rest of the Allied Forces of Operation Jubilee.

Due to the heavy counter assault the Allieds were experiencing and the choppy seas most of the landing crafts were unable to approach the beaches for the retreat. Soldiers who were retreating had to sprint across the beach, dodging gunfire, mortar explosions and the bodies of their fallen comrades. Many of the wounded were picked up and carried to the landing crafts, waiting off shore. Several brave soldiers made several trips between the beach and the landing crafts to evacuate the wounded.

In all the Allied Forces were on the beach for less than 8 hours. The Canadian Regiments bore the brunt of the casualties with 907 killed, 2,460 wounded and 1,874 taken prisoner. Of the 2,210 Canadian soldiers who returned to Britain after Operation Jubilee only 236 were uninjured...and 200 of those never made it to the beach in the first place.

By many, Dieppe was considered to be a practice run for a future Allied full scale assault, a way to test the German defenses. These brave men went into this operation full in, they were committed and ready to fight. They may have been scared and unsure of what to expect but that did not stop them. This was not a practice run for them, this was the real thing. They really fought, they really bled and many, many of them really died.

Remember these men and the sacrifices they made to ensure success in the years that would follow. Remember their wives and children and parents and the love they carried, and carry still, in their hearts for their brave men. Remember that today, the same kind of men and women are living and serving all over the world in the name of the freedom that the soldiers before them fought for.

Remember.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Manitoba Soldier Remembered

In May of 1940, with the war in Europe gaining momentum a young Manitoba man, not quite 18 made his way to Camp Shilo and joined the Canadian Army. At the time a regiment from Weyburn, Saskatchewan was training there and this soldier was folded into that regiment along with about a dozen other Manitoba men. They trained at Shilo for less than 8 months before they were sent to Toronto then to Halifax to board The Penland for their deployment to England.


On December 25, 1940 this young soldiers landed in Scotland and along with his regiment made his way south to the coastal towns where they continued their training and served countless hours of patrol duty. It wasn't all work for these bright eyed soldiers, though. They often had the opportunity to go on leave to London.

During one weekend leave, this soldier was playing Canadian football with his friends in Green Park in London. He went running for an over thrown pass and wound up running head long into a fiery little red-head, knocking her off her bike and into a pond. With his pals hooting and cat calling him, the soldier waded into the pond, helped the young lady out and picked up her badly damaged bicycle. After much apologizing and pleading, the young lady permitted the rowdy group of soldiers to drive her to work, as she was already late.


Over the weeks that followed the young soldier couldn't stop thinking about the pretty little redhead and on his next weekend leave he sought her out. At first she wouldn't give him the time of day because she knew that she didn't want to fall for a soldier, especially a foreign one, but he wore her down. He spent every leave for months showing up at her work, the hospital where she volunteered and at Green Park, her favourite place to sit and read.

His persistence paid off. She finally agreed to go out with him because she was already in love with him and an engagement soon followed. Their wedding plans were postponed several times due to the young soldier's training schedule but on August 1, 1942, he sent word that he had been granted a 24 hour leave and they were married.

Through the heart ache of the war, the death of a child, the birth of nine more children, hard times, good times, flush times and even more lean times, they loved each other. They spent their free time at the Legion, danced every chance they got and held their family close. They lived and loved each other for nearly 50 years when the young soldier, now a husband, father and grandfather passed away on November 9, 1991. He was surrounded by the family who loved him, loves him still...misses him still.

He was my grandfather, my Papa...Arthur 'Chim' Kirton. We remember.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Blue Berets

Patriotism isn't a one day event...neither is remembering.

I grew up as the daughter of Mr. Canada. My dad is one of the most patriotic people I have ever met, he loves our country, our freedoms, our resources and our quirks. He watches Hockey Night in Canada, Corner Gas and CBC News religiously. He has read Farley Mowat's books and knows more about Canadian history and politics than most people I've met. Canada Day is second only to Christmas for the traditions and celebration we have. For crying out loud, the man's cel phone ring tone is O Canada! He is passionately Canadian.

And he passed on all of his love and passion for his homeland to me and my children.

I remember sitting with my dad when I was a small child and talking to him about Canada, our history and our heroes. He didn't wait for Remembrance Day to discuss the importance of remembering and honouring the men and women who have sacrificed all so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have. Every day we had discussions and, as I grew older, debates about politics and history. He taught my sister and I that it is not our right to vote but our duty, that Canadian politics and resources impact the world and it is better to make peace than war.

It has not only been during times of war that my dad has educated us on the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers but during times of peace as well. He has pointed out that Canadian forces have been present is Bosnia, Croatia, Rwanda and Haiti during times of great civil unrest, that the Canadians Peacekeepers stand up for freedom even if there is no financial or political gain for us. He has reminded us to not only honour the Green Berets but the Blue as well because it is peace that is the gift and war is sometimes unavoidable on the path to peace.

To all the men and women who wear the Blue Beret...blessed are the peacemakers. Thank-you and God Bless.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fiction Friday - KILLERBYTE by Cat Connor

Cliches like 'edge of your seat' and 'page turner' are often used to describe well written suspense books and now I know why. Although I am not a seasoned reader of thrillers I must say this book has everything you'd want in a thriller and some things you wouldn't expect.

KILLERBYTE is the week-in-the-life tale of FBI agent Ellie Conway as she simultaneously hides from and hunts a cyber psycho who is doing his best to scare her to death before he kills her. Along for the ride is Ellie's friend and recent love interest Mac Connelly. This pair spends 400 pages dodging bullets, house explosions and creepy email messages. When they are not finding bodies (or parts of bodies) in cars, trees and dumpsters they are attempting to sort through the evidence and figure out who the killer really is.

Connor does a phenomenal job of creating characters that have real human reactions to unreal situations. Ellie Conway is an intelligent, fiercely independent and resourceful FBI agent that weathers this emotional roller coaster with wit, focus and a macabre sense of humor. The reader is drawn into Ellie's world easily through Connor's perfect balance of descriptive detail and action sequences. Her ability to write in detail about police and FBI procedure and the DC area only enhances the realism and suspense that builds through out the story.

Connor leaves no stone unturned and no body untouched as she guides us through the adventure, terror and mystery that is KILLERBYTE.

KILLERBYTE is available on Amazon and is published by Rebel ePublishers. **I'm giving this an older teen/adult reader rating due to some graphic crimes scene description and coarse language

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comic Relief

We're at the point in Dude's development and understanding of Asperger's where we are guiding him toward independence. We are trying to help him learn how to speak up for himself and let people know what he needs to feel comfortable and productive at school. I often remind him that I am not always available to translate for him so he has to find the words himself.

So yesterday when he came out of school quite emotional I knew we had to have a chat. We went to my room, sat on my bed and began to talk about his day. We discussed his interactions with his teacher, the responsibilities he has in the classroom and the people he is sitting near.


He made a list of the things that were causing him stress at school and his plan for talking to his teacher about these issues. I told him that as long as he stays respectful and open to compromise it never hurts to ask for change.

At some point during our chat Mischief wondered in and sat down with us. Dude was just reviewing his plan when Mischief piped up, "I think I am going to talk to my teacher. Grade One is too much stress all day. I need to stay home after lunch like the kindergartners so I can play and relax and maybe do some more skateboard tricks."

"Mischief, that's not really what I meant."

He slid off the bed, shrugged and said, "Well, I'm going ask anyway. My teacher likes me so she might let me...at least on Tuesdays maybe."

He left the room. Dude and I broke out laughing. When the laughter began to subside Dude said, "Its a good thing I have a brother like him, he makes serious days seem not as bad."

Ain't that the truth!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Encouraged to Accept

Initially, I started this post in a state of crazed, righteous indignation. I am mad and frustrated and sad and tired but the last thing the world needs is one more hyped-up lunatic spouting off that we are raising a generation without compassion and morals. A generation that is using technology to attack and bully one another into cutting and suicide. So here's the thing, how do we change it?

We use our words and we teach our kids how to use their words, not as weapons but as bandages.

When I was a teenager I attended a youth group at my cousin's church and it changed my life. It was there, every Friday night, that I learned two vital lessons. The first, that every person has been created for a purpose, is valuable and precious. The second, I learned the art of encouragement.

At this youth group we all had mailboxes and on top of the mailbox was a stack of brightly colored recipe cards called simply, Encouragement Cards. We were asked to use these cards to write notes of encouragement or compliments to each other. The youth leader also took steps to ensure that we wrote not only to our best friends but to everyone in our group. He would have us write to the person who had the mailbox beside us, under us or three doors down from us. At special youth events we had to write one to everyone at the event.

It was through the giving and receiving of these cards that we began to understand that we each have value to the group and that no matter what differences we have we can always find some common ground. I think that's what's missing these days. Kids are not taught to respect and value each other. They aren't made to look each other in the eye and say something positive to one another (another one of the youth leader's favourite exercises). They aren't given the tools to risk rejection on the gamble of experiencing full acceptance.

All I'm saying folks is that maybe if kids are taught to appreciate the people around them they might be less likely to wound them with their words...or worse.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This is How it Starts

Since going small town I haven't been watching very much TV. I used to be a TV connoisseur, or junky as my mom would say. I would watch the usual hits like Grey's Anatomy, Law & Order, CSI and House as well as an array of reality shows like Amazing Race, Mantracker and Hell's Kitchen. And one of my all time favourites, Hoarders...Buried Alive.

There's something about seeing someone else's disaster that makes me feel SOOOO much better about the condition of my house. I can sit back in my messy living room, strewn with dirty socks, half finished crafts and Lego and feel okay with it. I mean really, at least I don't have 912 bobbled head dolls and 17 years worth of newspapers stacked amongst animal droppings and rotting food. Right?

But as I watch the show I wonder, how does it start? You don't all of a sudden wake up one day and find your house full of stray cats, weird collectables and garabge, do you?It has to start somewhere, right? Well, yesterday I had a revelation...this is how it starts.

Since we moved a little more than two months ago our garage has been full of boxes. All of the odds and ends of our life stacked in mislabelled boxes waiting to be sorted and put away. After scraping ice off the van windows a couple of times last week I decided that the garage had to be done pronto. Mr. Awesome had the day off work so we tackled the mess in the garage. I started sorting through boxes, presumably throwing away junk and donating things we no longer need.

About halfway through the clean up Mr. Awesome looked at the 'Keep' stack beside the door and asked, "Seriously?" I glanced over at the teetering pile of keepsakes, dishes and books and replied, "What?" He just shrugged and went back to sorting through his side of the garage. Irritated with Mr. Not-so-Awesome and his critical eye, I kept going through boxes, sorting as I had been.

When all of the boxes had been purged I had two bags of garbage and three boxes of stuff to donate. I was feeling pretty proud of myself until I turned around and saw the mountain that was the 'Keep' pile. Realising that if I attempted to move all of this stuff into the house I would soon be a contender for the next season of Hoarders, I took a second look at the pile.

I decided it was time to stop looking at the sentiment attached to each item and look only at the functionality of the item. With this new perspective in mind I sliced through the pile again in no time. I was able to cut the 'Keep' items down by almost two thirds. Yay me!

Saved from Hoarders...for now, at least!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Truly Beautiful

Last week I went to Crafty & Mischief's school for their Halloween costume parade and assembly. We live in a small town that has many new immigrants. Many of these kids don't celebrate Halloween for religious reasons and others because culturally they are not familiar with this festival.

One of Crafty's classmates was allowed to participate in the Halloween party but not allowed to come in costume. Her father could not see the point in wearing a costume so she was sent to school in one of her 'everyday' dresses. She was one of only ten kids (out of 350) who was not in costume. I felt a bad for her as they started calling out costume themes for the parade.

Kids dressed as "Spooky" "Famous People/Characters" and "Animals or Bugs" came parading by in all their glory and still Crafty's little friend sat there. The more categories that were called the more nervous I felt for her. She is a sweet little girl and I didn't want her to feel left out of any part of the celebrations. Then the teacher called out "Beautiful" and dozens of princesses and fairies began their glittery stroll around the gym. I looked back to where Crafty and her friend were sitting but her friend was gone? I mouthed "Where is she?" Crafty pointed.

Her friend was prancing around the gym with all the of the princesses. As she walked past me I heard another kid ask her what she was dressed up as, her reply?

"Just me. I'm beautiful."

Yes she is!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fiction Friday - The CRONICLES OF VLADIMIR TOD by Heather Brewer

In honour of Halloween weekend for this week's Fiction Friday I am featuring the kind of spooky I can handle. Most people who know me know that I have a bit of a fear of vampires and bats but Heather Brewer and her unlikely half vampire hero have all but cured me of that.

Eighth Grade Bites is the first in a five book series that takes the reader deep into the vampire world, Elysia, and to the equally as terrifying world of a high school student. Vlad may be half vampire but he is all teenager. He deals with bullies, first loves and the ups and downs of friendship all while trying to uncover the mystery of his parents' deaths. He also has a minor problem of dodging the slayers who instictually hunt him and members of the Elysian council who want him dead for their own reasons.

Throughout the series we learn that high school Bites, Slays, Bleeds, Burns and Kills and being the chosen one isn't all that its cracked up to be. Brewer creates memorable, endearing, and loathsome characters that the reader is drawn to but would never want to meet in a dark alley. The story weaves seamlessly through five books, never dropping the suspense or tone for a minute. This series is a true word-treat for any reader.

This Halloween weekend pick up all five books, lock your doors, turn down the lights and scare yourself bloody!


**Note - These books can be found in the Young Adult section of your bookstore and are appropriate for the same crowd who enjoyed the Harry Potter books.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Costume Hunt

Halloween is a big deal in our house.

Its our once a year opportunity to take one of our favourite past times outside the confines of our house. The kids - and on occasion, me - love to dress up. Ever since Dude was a lil' dude costumes, dressing up and imagination has been a big part of how our family rolls.

I try to be organised and plan costumes out in September but inevitably the day before the school parties I am running around looking for bits and pieces to complete the costumes. This is never an easy task as my kids rarely go with the trends and choose a costume that I can pick up in the store. Over the years I have made Viking, Musketeer, Jedi, Pirate (before pirates were cool) costumes as well as hunted online for hours finding TinMan, Dorothy & Max's Wolf Suit.

I don't mind the hunt too much. I love that the kids use their imaginations and choose a costume based on what they like. Looking back at the Halloween pictures I can vividly remember pulling together each costume and the fun we had knowing that it was unique. True to form we had a few unique requests this year.

I was a little afraid of the last minute scramble this year because small towns don't provide you with many shopping options. And this morning I was in near panic mode when, after trying three of the four stores within driving distance, I was still missing key elements of two of the costumes. I pulled into the thrift store parking lot, said a prayer and walked in.

Not only did I find all the pieces I was missing but it was 50% off day. Yay MCC Thrift Store!!! Disaster averted and a very happy Gangster, Hermione & Captain Kirk headed off to their Halloween parties.

Phew!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dude-isms aka Rules of Life

As parents you spend your life explaining and for every explanation you give there is a never ending stream of 'whys' that float your way. And when you have a kid on the autism spectrum there is really no end to the questions.

All kids are curious about life and the why behind the way things are done but I find that Dude is more than curious. He has a hunger for information that is never satisfied. More than once we have joked that he is 'Number 5' from the movie Short Circuit, he always needs more input. So we explain and explain and explain and sometimes we wonder if anything is really sinking in.

Recently we have had several break-throughs with Dude. Here are some Dude-isms aka Rules of Life...

You shouldn't be late for school because if you are you end up standing in the hall singing O Canada by yourself like an idiot.

You should always close the door when you go to the bathroom because no one wants to hear you peeing while they are eating breakfast.

If you see someone being bullied don't stick your nose into the situation - it might get punched. Find a friendly adult, quick, they are less likely to get punched.

Its better to do your work in class with everyone else rather than taking it home for homework. If you have it for homework that means you are spending twice as much time staring at your work and hating it.

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mischief's Thirty Year Plan

As most have you have come to realize, Mischief has his own way of looking at life and he's not shy about sharing his perspective and opinions.

A while ago we were teasing the kids about what life will be like when they grow up and get married. Dude has decided that he is going to become a scientist, get married and have three kids. Crafty wants to be a nurse and take care of animals and garden in her spare time. Mischief has a lot of plans for the future.

He is unsure of what he wants to be when he grows up. Maybe a Hydro worker, a policeman or run a school to teach kids how to be like Spiderman. As undecided he is about his profession he is that definitive about his domestic life.

He is seriously contemplating marrying our friend's daughter who is five years younger than him. He says that before he'll marry her she'll have to learn how to walk and get a job. When asked why she'll have to work he said, "When I get a wife she'll have to work. I'm not going to let her stay home and do nothing like Daddy lets you."

Charming...punk.

I can't wait to share this little anecdote with his future wife...in thirty years ;-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Message in the Music

When Mr. Awesome and I got together way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth I knew I had found myself a good man. He was kind, compassionate, generous and funny as heck. So it came as no big surprise that when Dude was born Mr. Awesome proved to be an amazing dad.

In those early months of night time feeds, diaper changes and unexplained fussiness he was there with me every step of the way. I can't remember one time when Mr. Awesome didn't get up in the night with me to care for Dude and more often than not he would try to soothe the baby without my input. That's when I noticed one of the quirks about Mr. Awesome and fatherhood.

Having never really been around babies until we had Dude he didn't know any nursery rhymes or lullabies. The first song he ever sang to Dude was Silent Night...in March. I tried to teach him a few lullabies but he thought they were weird and decided to stick to his own songs. He continued this with each baby we had.

Crafty's song was 'New Orleans is Sinking' and Mischief fell asleep each night to 'American Pie'. Even now nearly every night Mr. Awesome cuddles up with each of our kids and reads them a story and sings to them. Thankfully he has started reading to them from the basket of books I have provided rather than the MEC catalogue (like he did for Baby-Dude) but his song choices are still entirely his own.

At first I was skeptical about some of the song choices but this weekend when we were out shopping, Mischief (having already spent all his birthday money) asked if he could get one more thing. When we explained that he had already made his choices he said, "Oh yeah. I remember. You can't always get what you want but you get what you need, right Dad?"

Score one for Mr. Awesome and his quirky song choices!