Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.

Generous. Selfish. Educated. Ignorant. Informed. Stupid. Inspirational. Insensitive. Encouraging. Demanding. Honest. Liar. Helpful. Pompous. Supportive. Exhausting. Real. Fake.

Those are the words that were assigned to be by others in a three day span. Some were said in moments of emotional release and others in a thoughtful moments of planned conversation. Some were said to me, face to face and others were whispered behind my back. Some were said by people I have known my whole life and others by people who hardly know me at all. Some words hit their target and others missed the mark.

Words have a lot in common with sticks and stones. They both can tear something apart and they both can be used to make something great, something unstoppable. The funny thing is, it usually isn't the positive words that build the strongest character, its the harsh ones, the ones that are hard to hear, the ones that prompt us into self reflection and hopefully steer us toward self improvement.

The words people say to us can encourage us, hurt us, inspire us or can stop us dead in our tracks, but only if we let them. Each adjective that was tossed my way last week left an imprint. Some imprints were as fleeting as footprints in sand and others were branded on my heart and I will carry them with me forever. The choice is mine, which words I allow to change me, mold me and stay with me. I get to decide what the truth about me is. I am the only one who gets to write the story of my life. I am responsible for all of the success and all the failures. I set the pace and tone and direction. I decide what I am going to believe, what I am going to own, who I am going to listen to and how their words will affect me as I live my life. I am accountable for the life I lead, me and no one else.

The thing is, if we are really honest with ourselves we already know the truth about who we are. We know our strengths and weaknesses, we are aware of our success and failures. We know when we flub up, make mistakes and 'step in it' and we recognize when we have done the right thing, said the right thing. We know all this. We know that the words that hurt the most are the ones that are closest to the truth and that the words that give us strength are directed at areas we have been working to improve.  For all our righteous indignation or humble demeanor, we know the truth of who we are, what we are capable of and what course our life is on and nothing anyone says to us or about us has the power to change that unless we let it. For better or for worse, we know the truth.

Sticks and stones can break things but they can also build castles and cathedrals ... so can words.

Just sayin'

Words have the power to destroy or heal. When words are true and kind, they can change the world.

--- Buddha

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Interview

Today I taped an interview for a local radio station that will be aired in a couple of weeks. While I was explaining what an interview was to the kids, Mischief asked why no one ever wants to interview him. SO here it is ... The Big One, The Catch, The Interview Every Journalist Would Kill For ...

The Random One vs. Dude, Crafty and Mischief ... with a special appearance by Mr. Awesome

RO - What is your name and why?

D - My name is Science Dude because I really like Science and I'm really good at doing science stuff.
C - My name is Crafty because I love doing crafts and I am like my mom.
M - Mischief because sometimes I try stuff and it gets me in trouble but (giggles) I kind of like doing mischiefy kind of things.

RO - If you could choose your name, what would it be?

C - I would still keep Crafty because I like it and it matches with me.
D - Same here!
M - I would choose my name to be Mischief Maxy. I like Mischief all right but I also like the name Max, so I could be both.

RO - If you could give your parents names, what would they be and why?

M - I would think I would name you Laura and Dad Hydro Dude.
D - You would be Mama Crafty and Dad could be Mr. Fun Guy
C - I would call Dad Mr. Fix-it and you could just stay the same.

RO - What's the best thing about being in this Random Family?

D - Its the best that we are part Scottish and part Aboriginal. I've got great parents and I like my siblings.
C - Because everybody is different and we all like doing different things and that's okay.
M - I love my family and we have a castle in Scotland, well not us but people that have our same name ... but they're dead now so that's okay.
Mr. A - Definitely the diversity of characters, its like all the varied colours of the rainbow that make up our family.

RO - What is the worst thing?

D - That my brother and sister are annoying and sometimes disobedient.
M - Myself and sometimes Dude, we can be kind of stinky, so that's probably the worst thing for you girls.
C - My mom thinks she can sing and dance and she thinks she's good at but she's not really.
D - Not to be offensive but I agree.
M - I like it but sometimes I wish I had earplugs.
Mr. A - My answer is the same for this question as the last ... everyone is so different and that's a lot to manage sometimes.

RO - What is the most important thing you know?

M - I think its to be a nice person 'cause I don't want to end up being a bully.
D - I think its that you told me that I have Asperger's Syndrome because some parents don't tell their kids. I'm glad I know.
C - I think being a nice person is important but matching my clothes is important, too. I don't want to go to school looking like a hobo!
Mr. A - Its extremely important, when you are a parent, to be patient and forgiving ... and I am still learning how to do this, everyday.

RO - Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about you?

M - I am the biggest mischief maker and I love playing with Play mobile ... just in case you want to give me a gift sometime and I have Toy Story 3 pajamas.
D - I'm super smart but I ran into a tree when I was chasing the dog. It hurt my hand, not my brain, so I'm fine.
C - I hope you enjoy this blog and whatever. Are we done, now?
Mr. A - I think the readers should know that I am very proud of you (Random One), you have used your voice to, in a peaceful and constructive way, benefit our kids. I love you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

So there’s this story out there about this couple who are keeping the gender of their baby a secret. They don’t want any of their kids to feel pressured to behave a certain way, like certain toys or identify with a particular gender because of societal pressures. These folks have created quite the buzz on an international scale. I couldn’t turn on the TV or click onto my favorite online news sites yesterday without hearing about them.

My first thought was … wacky, wacky, wackiness! I marveled at all the strangeness this world holds but the more I heard about this couple and the polarizing opinions on their child rearing philosophies the more I gave serious thought to their argument.

I get the parental urge to protect your kid from outside pressures and influences but I also often see parents in a panic to make sure their child identifies with the gender they were born with, like this will somehow save them from having a cross-dressing show girl as a son or a brush cut sporting tomboy as a daughter in the future. I have to tell you, how they play and what they are interested in when they are four rarely indicates what their sexual preference or gender identity will be when they are older.

I have no hang ups with boys playing with dolls or girls playing with trucks. I don’t care if your little guy’s favorite TV show is Angelina Ballerina or if your daughter’s room is decorated with Star Wars and race cars … kids will explore and play without thought or feeling of what belongs to boys and what belongs to girls. They all, boys and girls alike, are drawn to whatever is loud, sparkly, shiny and fun.

My cousin's daughter loved trucks when she was a toddler, now as an eleven year old she could not be more girly. Mischief spent most of his preschool days in a princess dress and playing Barbies with Crafty and he is as rough and tumble as any boy I know. I have a friend whose son BMX raced, played hockey from the age of five and excelled in shop at school. When he was 21 years old he told his mom that he’s gay. What toys your kid plays with, how long they wear their hair or what clothes they want to wear will not predict or influence their future sexuality. Kids are just kids, doing what kids do. They play, explore and learn about their world. That's it, they just want to have fun.

I think it matters less what gender your kid identifies with when they are older, or what sexual preference they have, than the kind of person they turn out to be. This is just me, and my soapbox rant for the day, but seriously … gender pressure in a toddler? Let’s focus on things that really matter, let’s concentrate on raising good, kind and compassionate people, let's teach them how to be accepting, inclusive and empathetic now … all the rest will sort itself out, no matter how we fret and plan.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Open Letter to the Kid in the Principal’s Office

Dear Kid,

Today you had an idea that went awry. Obviously, this is not how you thought things would turn out when you had that idea, said that thing, made that joke. Or maybe you knew that this is exactly where you would end up but you couldn’t help yourself, you just had to do it, try it, say it, anyway.

If this is your first time sitting here you are probably sweating it out a little, worried that everyone is mad at you, afraid of what your parents will do when they find out. If this is not your first time you are probably feeling all that and more. You might be mad at the teacher who sent you here. You might feel embarrassed, angry and hurt … and probably a little dumb for getting yourself in a bit of hot water again. But let me tell you a little secret, this won’t be the last mistake you ever make!

As you grow and mature you will make tons of mistakes, some will land you right back where you are now, others no one but you will ever know about. You will say and do things that are thoughtless, that seem like a good idea at the time, things that you hope will make you liked, popular and cool. Sometimes a wave of stupidity will over take you and other times you will wind up in a mess and have no idea how you got there. It’s life, Baby, and it happens to all of us.

Look around you right now, every grown up you see has been in trouble just like you. They have all made bad decisions, have hurt someone’s feelings and have had to face the consequences. Their mistakes are not all in the past, some are in the present and many more are in the future, just waiting to happen. Everyone makes mistakes and has to deal with the fall out afterwards but the funny thing is we all survive and if we are smart, we’ll probably learn something along the way.

That’s the important part, the learning. How you handle yourself after you walk out of the principal’s office, what you choose to hear and learn from while you are in there; that will be the deciding factor on the kind of person you will become. You can decide to be angry and blame other people for the mess you are in or you could decide to face the music, learn and make amends. Some famous smart guy once said that the only real mistakes are the ones we don’t learn from.

When you walk out of here today, you are going to feel embarrassed, nervous and maybe a little ashamed. Hold your head up, apologize and move on. Don’t let the anger over take you, don’t get a chip on your shoulder. Make the amends you need to make but do not where this mistake as a badge of shame. Don’t let it define you. You are not a bad kid. You tried something dumb and you made a mistake. That’s it.

Chin up, Champ. You are smart, talented and have a lot to offer … just keep learning and striving to be better tomorrow than you are today and you’ll turn out just fine!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Things I've Learned Along the Way

Since I’ve entered this contest over at Circle of Moms I thought it would be prudent to poke around there a little and check out what the site has to offer. I was pleasantly surprised to see well organized forums where people are exchanging ideas without malice or condescension. People are open, genuine and respectful of each other. It’s kind of refreshing.

The forums are organized into groups, circles, based on common interests and circumstances. There are circles for military moms, foodie moms, moms of multiples and just about any other grouping or hobby you can imagine. I decided to look for a circle to join, somewhere to get my feet wet and do a little cyber mingling. I skipped over the pagan mom circles (for serious, they are there, too!) and found a couple of groups that are more my speed.

I joined a circle of Mommy Bloggers, Mommy Writers and another one for parents of kids with ASD. I started scrolling through posts and reading questions and comments. About half an hour into this exercise I was floored to discover that I know stuff. I know stuff about ASD! Don’t laugh; it was really a kind of revelation.

For all that we’ve been through, I still think of myself as a newbie at this ASD thing. I’m just a mom, not a university educated professional, what do I know? What I often fail to recognize is that I have had the privilege to work with some very creative educators and attend conferences and read books by some of the foremost experts in this field of study. I have street cred. in ASD because I am on the front lines, I am constantly studying my kid, trying to problem solve with him. I may not be an expert on ASD but I am an expert on my kid.

I guess I think that if I know something that surely everyone else in the world must know it to, but that does not seem to be the case. From reading those posts I can see that so many parents are in over their heads. They don’t even know where to begin to help their kid, they are drowning.

Hopefully this is a bit of a lifeline for someone out there. Here are some of the things I have learned along the way that have made all the difference …

1. Kids on The Spectrum, and a lot of adults with ASD, tend to respond to life out of a place of fear. The world is too bright, too loud and too fast for them. Everything is coming at them a million miles an hour, literally assaulting their senses so they panic. If you understand that they are afraid when they act out then it puts the whole situation in a different light. You wouldn’t punish a toddler for being afraid of the dark by locking them in a dark room; neither should you deal with a fearful kid with ASD by doing the very things they are afraid of.

2. Just because these kids cannot express emotion and often have difficulty recognizing emotion in others does not mean that they don’t have feelings. People of The Spectrum feel very deeply, they are happy, sad, angry, afraid, lonely and best of all, they love. Their outward expression of these emotions may look a little different from the norm but don’t, for one minute, dismiss the depth with which these kids feel.

3. For high functioning kids like Dude, the more straight forward information they have the better they are able to cope with life. We have found that having frank conversations where we lay everything out for Dude has saved us a world of headaches and stress. Information is power, that’s true, but information is also the biggest enemy of fear and confusion. Dude knows he has Aspergers, he knows what that means to him and he knows that he is normal, just a different kind of normal.

Most of all, remember that you child is a gift, has gifts and is here, on this planet, at this time for a purpose. He is not damaged goods, this is not something that is happening to you … this is just another of life’s many hurdles that you have to jump over. Jump, keep jumping … every leap gets you closer to unlocking more of the treasure that is your child.

****Please remember to head on over Circle of Moms and click on Vote for Random! Its the thumbs up button on the upper right hand side ... you can vote once a day every day until June 8. Thanks!****

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beyond Empathy

Empathy is a big deal in the Autism community. People write about it, talk about it and hunt for signs of it in their kids. It is the single most discussed emotion or social piece among parents and professionals in the ASD world. Why? Why is empathy so important?

By definition empathy means the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. It is the recognition and projection of emotions. It is our ability, as humans, to feel an emotion, identify it, and accept that others also experience the same emotion in similar situations. It's all about relating to each other.

When Dude was little we realized that he didn't know what he was feeling. He could not identify emotions properly within himself so how could we expect him to identify emotions in others? We had to teach him how his inside feelings related to his outward actions. We had to give the feelings names and teach him that 'feeling' is nothing to be afraid of, it's normal ... we all feel.

Once he understood that, he was able to begin to recognize the outward expression of an inside feeling in others. He was able to empathize, but understanding, empathising, was only the beginning of his emotional and social development. He needed to be taught what to do with that emotional recognition, how to respond appropriately to what he was seeing.

We can all recognize when a house is on fire but if we do nothing with that awareness, if we just stand there and watch the house burn, then the awareness in meaningless. Action, or reaction, to the recognition is what brings us together. It's when we see the house is on fire and respond in a meaningful way that we really begin to connect with each other. Empathy or emotional education is the same way. it's what we do with the knowledge that really makes the difference.

The funny thing is, the more time I spend with students, the more I see that empathy is not just an issue with kids on The Spectrum. Somehow the ability to see each other and respond with respect and compassion is just as absent with 'normal' kids as it is with ASD kids, more so even. At least parents of kids on The Spectrum are aware that this is something that needs to be taught to children whereas many parents of neuro typical kids think that empathy is just something they 'pick up' along their life's journey. After walking through the halls of any junior high school, I can tell you that empathy is definitely not something that kids naturally soak up and understand.

Acts of schoolyard aggression and cyber bullying are on the rise, not because kids don't care but because kids don't know how to care. Most kids are dealing with so many thoughts and emotions that go unidentified, and therefore, untreated that they are drowning in their own emotional cesspool, unaware that other people even exist. If they don't know how to give voice to their own emotions in a constructive way there is no hope of them being compassionate toward the emotions of a peer.

Empathy is more than just understanding someone else's perspective. True, meaningful empathy needs to involve us in a purposeful response to the emotion we see in others. It should spur us into action, it should stir within us the desire to offer aid, support and understanding. It should bring us together, break down barriers and differences, it should strengthen the bond of respect. Empathy should, no, empathy can change our world and how we respond to it.

Empathy is the only human superpower - it can shrink distance, cut through social and power hierarchies, transcend differences, and provoke political and social change.
~Elizabeth Thomas

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Why

As a mom, I am asked questions that begin with the word 'why' about a thousand times a day. "Why can't I run along the top of the six foot fence?" "Why do I have to eat that?" "Why is there such a thing as gravity?" Why. why, why?! A million times over the big 'W' comes my way, and what's more, many of these questions are asked first thing in the morning (pre-coffeejuice), when I am in the middle of another task or at bed time, when I am intellectually spent. No matter when the question is asked, we all know that "because" is never a good enough answer.

So today I am turning the tables on those hyper curious wee ones. Today it is my turn to ask the kids a few questions. Today is the day that I get to challenge their knowledge of the universe, their understanding life and beg them for an explanation for the unexplainable. Today I ask, "Why?"

~Why is it that when I ask you if you have homework on Friday evening the answer is 'no' but Monday morning you are in a panic to finish three worksheets are read two books before school starts?

~Why do you beg for time away from your siblings because they are bothering you and then whine that you are bored when you are alone?

~Why is the only time you remember to flush the toilet is when I am in the shower?

~Why was Sloppy Joes your favourite dinner last week but tonight you refuse to eat it?

~Why are you 'so good' at your friend's house but drive me to madness as soon as you get home from the play date?

~Why do you freak out you see a cell bug in the basement but walk around with a jar full of spiders, moths and worms you 'collected' from the garden?

~Why do you sleep in on school days but wake up at 6am on the weekend?



On a side not I have entered this blog in a Top 25 blog contest over at Circle of Moms and I'm asking each of my readers to take a second to pop on over to Circle of Moms and vote for this blog everyday when you are done reading. Just follow the link and click vote!

Thanks, pals!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Brunch

When I was a kid we used to get up early on Sunday mornings, my mom would braid and ribbon my hair and then dress me up in something frilly and floral, then we would all pile into the car and head to church. After church we would descend on Mr. Steak or Bonanza with our friends for Sunday Brunch. At the kids table the girls would colour and giggle to each other while the boys schemed pranks and imagined ploys to steal the waitresses tips.

While us kids were chatting and playing every now and then we would hear snippets of conversation from the adults table. Amid all the laughter and friendly conversation there was always an undertone of depth and purpose as they discussed the minister's sermon and other biblical matters. Once everyone had been fed, physically and spiritually, we would all head home to lazy afternoons of naps and televised sports before heading back to church for the evening service. That was my childhood Sunday.

Nowadays our Sundays are often rushed affairs of church, a quick bite with the folks and the long drive back home before the chaos of the week starts. I miss those lazy, contemplative Sundays. In the hustle and the bustle of the weekly grind it is easy to forget the value of faith and meditating on things higher than laundry, soccer practice and homework agendas.

Although I often write about the humour and trials of raising three busy kids, my faith is never far from the surface of my thoughts. I know that it is only by the grace of God and knowing His purpose for my life that I am able to not only cope with life but conquer the challenges that daily come my way. I know that if I was living this life on my own, with no hope of help from a loving God I would have gone mad or given in to the overwhelming, crushing pressure of my reality. It is really the concrete knowledge of Jesus Christ that sustains me; knowing His peace and joy and light and love gives me all I need to hold my head up and keep pushing on.

It is with this in mind that from time to time I'm going to pop in and invite you to join me for a Sunday Brunch, a time of talk, reflection and thanksgiving. I hope that those of you of faith, searching for faith or who are of no particular faith belief will feel comfortable and welcomed at my table. Sunday Brunch is a place for friends and laughter, conversation and reflection, hope and encouragement ... and all are welcome!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Circle of Moms

Hey pals ... I don't normally blog on the weekends so this one is a bonus, or a freebie, or another form of harassment ... whatever! ;-)

Recently a pal suggested that I enter this blog in a contest. I have been alerted to contests like this one in the past but have shied away from entering for a variety of reasons, mainly because I didn't think I had the following to even place near the top but after nosing around the Circle of Moms website I decided to give it a go. I like the site, the resources and the variety of communities to join and blogs to follow.

The deal is the 25 blogs with the highest number of votes will be featured/listed on their site as 'The Top 25' ... all I need from you fine folks is a vote, once a day, everyday until June8. Pass this along, ask your friends to vote and if you like this blog please click follow on this page, follow me on twitter and like me on Facebook and as always, I love to hear your comments.

I'll be shooting out reminder messages from time to time so please forgive this period of shameless blog promotion!

Vote for me ... because I'm the mom and I said so!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fiction Friday - Dust of 100 Dogs

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to review this one but I have to tell you I'm ashamed of myself for keeping this one under wraps for so long!

I first picked Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King up a little more than a year ago. It was the buzz of my writer's group and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I got about 50 pages in before the book was stolen from me.

One night while I was reading in bed Mr. Awesome read the back cover, asked me if it was really as good as it sounded and when I said, 'better' he yanked the book from me. That's the last I saw of it for a while.

When I finally got a chance to sit down with this unique tale of pirate treasure, curses and regular teenage angst I was thrilled at the wit, charm and humor that King threaded through the entire store. It captivated me from the first!

The story is about an infamous seventeenth century pirate who is cursed to live a hundred dog life's before she can return to human form. The catch is she remembers every minute of each of her 101 lives, dog and human. When she finally is granted a human life after nearly 300 years as a dog, she cannot wait to pick up where she left off, in hot pursuit of her pirate treasure.

Toted as a young adult book, this is the perfect read for anyone with a sense of humor and a passion for adventure. Its fast paced action mixed with notes on life from a dog's perspective and the unique commentary of a three hundred year old teenager is the perfect balance in this new twist on the old pirate story.

Be sure to add Dust of 100 Dogs by AS King to your summer read list this year!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One of Those People

I have become 'one of those people'. Actually, our whole family has and we can't help it.

You all met Simon the Boxer a few weeks back. Well, things didn't work out with him and we were sad about it but not long after he was picked up by his previous owners we found Lily. She is a one year old Shepperd/Lab mix and she is quirky, goofy, beautiful.

She has huge floppy ears, one of them always flops forward, and her tongue is always hanging out of her mouth sideways. She aggressively loves her belly rubs, is a fetch-addict and begs to be chased around the yard. She is a hard core people pleaser, a chronic face licker and an attention junkie. She's a hopper, a catcher, a tugger and a huge tease.

She is afraid of the wind blowing through the curtains, the washing machine switching cycles and she can't figure out Zhu Zhu pets. She loves going for a run but she doesn't run away. She can play rough but she is gentle with the kids. She chews everything left outside but nothing left lying around inside. She sits for treats and goes to bed the first time she's told. She barks when she's happy and pouts when she's lonely. She is clever but not smart. For better or for worse, in all of her bird catching, leash tugging, tail wagging glory, Lily belongs to us. She's our dog and we're her people.

I am surprised how quickly she became a part of us, us Random Five have become The Random Five plus Dog (you thought I was going to say Random Six, but come on people, she's still just a dog!) We have become dog people. We talk to her, talk about her and can't get enough of that silly puppy face. The kids rush through their morning routine so they have a chance to play with her before school. I have reworked my mornings to make time to take her for a walk or play with her outside for a while and Mr. Awesome dug out the roller blades so he can take her for a run every evening. Our friends have even bought her 'welcome to the family' gifts!

 So, we are one of those families with a dog and an apple tree and a little garden. We have taken one more step toward assimilating into our new town ... all we're missing now is a white 4x4 pick up truck and a fifth wheel trailer!

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.
 ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moments of Random Craziness

I have a cousin who is very gentle, sweet and laid back. If you were to meet her you would never guess that she has a crazy streak bubbling just under the surface of her calm exterior. She has bouts of ridiculous rage. Strange things set her off and so, as a good and loving cousin I try to help her with this rage by exposing her to her triggers to help desensitize her. It's not just me, her siblings and other cousins join in this 'shock therapy' but so far we've had little success. No matter how often we point out sweatpants with words across the bum, hide Boobahs in her bed or have people perform magic tricks for her she still can't seem to get over her moments of random craziness.

I have a few moments of random craziness myself. I know, you would have never guessed! It's true, I do. I go a little nutty when people don't buckle their kids into their car seats, park like morons in a crowded lot, drive like they are in a parade on the 10 block stretch between schools in the morning or dress their toddlers like trashy club-hoppers. Sound reasonable? I thought so, too. I have to confess, though, that I also experience craziness over less, shall we say, mainstream issues.

It drives me nuts when  people who are not British use British slang ALL THE TIME. You are not freaking British, you have never been to England, in fact you have never been out of Prairie Town, Canada, so zip it! For that matter, I get annoyed anytime anyone adopts an accent. Its one thing if you have spent significant time in another country and your speech is slightly altered but if I saw you two weeks ago and you were normal and now you have somehow attained a Boston accent, I think you're cracked and you know you're cracked, so just drop it!

I also get a little worked up when people put clothes on their pets. Its an animal, folks ... God gave it fur, it does not need a t-shirt that looks like a tuxedo or a tutu ... it's an animal, for crying out loud! Oh, and just so you know, you are a pet owner not a doggie mommy! Yesh! While we are on the topic of ridiculous fashion, if you have a bald child, embrace the baldness. DO NOT glue, tape or otherwise affix bows and ribbons to your infant's head. And for Pete's sake, do not make the poor child suffer with an antenna ponytail on the top of her head! Wait for the hair, real, substaintial hair, it will eventually grow...until then put a hat on the kid, if you must do something about the baldness.

Social networking also makes me crazy. It is like a wide open gallery of bad spelling, worse grammar and free range ghetto talk from rural white kids. Seriously, your facebook status is not the same as texting so don't use 'tho' 'c u' 'ttyl' and all that crap. Learn how to spell, embrace the English language and actually type out full words and sentences! Another thing, don't trash talk your parents, ex or random annoying people in your status ... nobody wants to hear it. No one wants to log in and waste their precious time wasting time reading about your good-for-nothing baby-daddy, psychotic mother or back stabbing friends. Keep it light and funny and the people will love you for it!

I could go on (seriously, I could ... I haven't even touched on my Twitter pet peeves!) but instead I am opening the floor to you ... I'm calling this Whiny Wednesday and asking you, "What causes your moments of random craziness?"

**No lazy-baby daddy rants please**

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So Blessed

Today's post, just like my wee Crafty, is a little late in coming.

Nine years ago today a wee bundle of spunk and wit entered my world and rocked my universe. As a foreshadow of things to come, she did not make her entrance until she was ready. My due date was on May 2 ... yep, that's right. Check your calendar, Crafty made me wait 15 extra days! Knowing what I know now about this little gal I would have waited a thousand years just to have the opportunity to be her mom.

I have written a lot about Crafty and all her funny little Craftiness but for those of you with daughters, you know. You know all the joy and heart ache and hope and wonder, all of the emotional highs and lows, all of the madness, laughter and light that being the mother of a daughter brings into your life. Some days I watch her move through life and cross my fingers that she makes it through her day unscathed and other days I marvel at her resilience and fearlessness. She baffles me!

And for all the wonder and amazement I have while watching Crafty grow, Mr. Awesome experiences all that times ten. He grew up in a house of boys, little girls are an unknown factor, a huge freaking mystery and, I think, a little scary to him. Sometimes I watch him try to 'manage' her and laugh. She has him wrapped around her little pink nail polished fingers!

As I drove around today, picking up things for the birthday celebration this evening, I thought about Crafty, all that she is and all the hopes and dreams we've had for her from the start. Like a slide show, images of the past nine years passed through my mind's eye, in reverse. Crafty, hanging out with her friends this weekend, beaming in all her preteenness. Last summer at the beach with Bizzy riding on her back as she floated through the water, her first day of school and the purple Tinkerbell backpack that she proudly wore, four year old Crafty, dressed as Dee Dee Doodle, asleep on the couch, waiting for Mr. Awesome to come home one stormy night. Our wee bald baby girl, happily biting on her own toes, asleep in her Daddy's arms, bouncing away in her exersaucer.

All of these memories took me back, all the way back to the day we discovered we were expecting Crafty. It was two nights before Mr. Awesome left for a four month work assignment. I was feeling crumby and he insisted that I take a pregnancy test before he left. I did and it was positive. We Three were going to be We Four.

After hugging and laughing together, Mr. Awesome cleared the suitcases from our bed and had me lay down. He crawled into bed next to me but instead of putting his head on his pillow, he rested it on my stomach and began to sing. I laughed and told him that the baby didn't even have ears yet. He hushed me and said that she would hear him anyway then he kept singing.

This is what he sang to her on that night and what he still sings to her now...

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

What I wanted most for my daughter was that she be able to soar confidently in her own sky, whatever that may be.

     -- Helen Claes

Monday, May 16, 2011

All the Other Things

Nine years ago (yikes, has it been that long already?!) when I decided to really start working towards 'being a writer' I never could have imagined what a long, twisty and complicated road it would be. I thought being a writer was about writing the material ... that's it. I had no idea that there was a whole lifetime of work after you write the words 'the end'. There's networking, agents, queries, outlines, synopses, edits, marketing, rewrites, websites and promotion, promotion, promotion!

The business of being a writer is much different than the art of being a writer yet no less important. I feel as though I am a writer because I write all the time. Everyday I sit at the keyboard and pound out thousands of words on any number of projects I am working on. Many days I turn off the computer at midnight and feel proud of the work I have accomplished during the day. Then I show up at a coffee party, a house party or a church function and the dreaded conversations occurs.

"Hi, I'm Supermom with High Power Career. What do you do?"

"Nice to meet you, I'm Some Random Mother and I'm a writer."

"Oh, how interesting, what's the name of your book? Maybe I've read it?"

"Um, my current work isn't published ... yet"

What follows next is Supermom's look of disdain and my walk of shame to the h'ordeuvres table where I pick at a few questionable puffed pastry items and them find a large potted plant to hide behind for the rest of the evening. To avoid this humiliating interaction I have taken to hiding my dirty little secret of being a writer. I did, for a while, try out the "I'm a family blogger" line but that was only met with a look of pity so I've stopped that too.

So I am a closet writer. Literally, some days when the noise in the house gets to be too much and I am forced to write in the storage closet. I write without acclaim, publicity or glory (yet!), I am the masked crusader of all platform building writers everywhere! I network, blog, forum post, write short stories, book reviews and articles for e-magazines. I Tweet and Facebook. I research and edit. I script write, build proposals and rack up my word count. I plot, sub plot and craft characters. I watch my story arc, build conflict and weave in a little angst. I dream and scheme and play with phrasing, timing and metaphors. I banish cliches and nurture poetry in prose. I am a writer!

I also waste time on You Tube and ebay. I play tetris, spin in my chair and crumble up paper. I drink LOTS of coffeejuice, wear a uniform of yoga pants and an old denim work shirt and build play lists to match my writing. I need to wear fuzzy socks and take off my watch when I work. I have a thesaurus and a dictionary on my desk and two more in open windows on my screen. I read for content and I reread for grammar. I am a writer!

Being a writer is more than the finished product of a published novel. Being a writer is learning and growing. It's honing your craft, exploring your limits and recreating yourself. Like everything in life, it's all about the journey and the destination is only the starting point for the next leg of the journey.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Epitome of Awesome

This will be a short one today because it's Mr. Awesome's birthday and I am spending the day with him.

I love birthdays, not just my birthday but any one's birthday. I love that it is a day for people to celebrate the birthday person, a day when you are flooded with messages of love, appreciation and well wishes. It's a day for all your pals to say, "I'm glad you were born!" So today, I am saying to my best pal ... I am so very glad you were born!

I could write volumes about everything I have learned and all that I have become because of the love, support and partnership of Mr. Awesome. I could go on forever about his passion for our family, his dedication to our relationship and his faithfulness in being a provider. I could rant and rave about his charm, good looks and sense of humour. I could praise him for his generosity and compassion. I could. Seriously, I could go on and on but there is only one thing you ever really need to know about Mr. Awesome.

He loves.

He is a man who understands the value of loving. He loves his family, his friends and random people who cross his path. He sees worth and treasure inside people others would cast aside because he loves. He will go out of his way to help out, give or volunteer because he loves. He is faithful and fair, he is inclusive and accepting, he has an open mind and open arms because he loves. He is protective, strong and he won't back down because he loves. He stands strong on his principles, holds tight to his faith and strives to live what he believes because he loves. He is fearless, strong and confident because he loves. He is all that is awesome in my world because he loves.
Happy birthday to my love, Mr. Awesome!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Can I Get More Random?

So, I've made the decision. We, my indentured servants (sister, brother-in-law and technologically challenged, Mr. Awesome) and I, are turning this little blog into something more ... we're just not sure what that 'more' is, yet.

I have spent some time over the last couple of weeks thinking about all that Some Random Mother is, the message I want to send, the resources I want to offer, the things that I like writing about. I have also spent a fair bit of time snooping around other blogs and websites and I gotta tell ya' ... its a strange, strange cyber world out there!

People will blog about A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G because people will read A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G just to fill their day. I swear, its so bizarre. I’ve seen sites dedicated to lamenting over life’s disappointments, to interpreting Michael Jackson lyrics for hidden sinister meanings and to complaining and comparing how lazy the baby-daddies of the world are. There's even this guy who blogs about little known museums. Sound interesting? He writes about museums of discarded human hair, mummified pets and molded fruit ... these places are little known for a reason, folks!

Anyway, after hitting a few dozen weird sites I narrowed my search to 'mommy blogs' and things got a little better. Although I did stumble across a few strange ones (like the one where each post was a list of all the mistakes she made and verbally flogging herself for her failures or the one where a group of moms write about their clubbing with their teens) I also found some hilarious, witty and heart warming blogs about being a parent.

I’ve been taking notes like mad and slowly getting a better picture of what I want my site to be but I need your help. I’m going to post a couple of links to my particular new find favorites, when you have the time take a look and let me know what you think. What do you like? What don’t you like? What layouts appeal to you and what features would you respond to? Feel free to share other ideas you might have too.

I know for sure that on my new site I will continue to blog daily and I will have guest spots available so if have a hobby you are passionate about, a knack for throwing awesome and creative birthday parties or tips on running an efficient household please email me.

Scary Mommy
A Peek Inside the Fishbowl
Dutch Blitz
Canadian Mom Blogger

*To share your input please email me at Somerandommother@gmail.com Thanks!*

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Choose Love

Over the weekend Mr. Awesome and I attended a wedding. I have known the bride since she was a wee lass. In fact, she was my flower girl when Mr. Awesome and I wed a hundred years ago. We met the Man of Her Dreams about five years ago when she was babysitting for us and shyly asked if she could have a 'friend' come babysit with her.

It has been an honour to watch these two sweet teens grow into a couple of mature, generous and kind adults. They have conducted their relationship with integrity and respect from the beginning, so much so that during their ceremony the church was filled with the joy, innocence and anticipation of saved love. The atmosphere they created by honouring each other, their parents and most of all, their faith was something to marvel.

At the wedding everyone at our table shared the story 'them,' how they came to be a couple. One couple dated for a couple of months before their engagement, wedding and whirlwind adventure into parenthood, another worked together for several of years and another met while volunteering at a camp. When it was our turn to share, Mr. Awesome and I just looked at each other and laughed. Our story always raises a few eyebrows. You see, the truth of the matter is, Mr. Awesome and I never dated.

We were friends, best friends. We had spent hours hanging out, sharing secrets, hopes and dreams. We told each other everything, all of our mistakes, failures and flub-ups. We got to know each other, the good and the bad, over the course of a year, without pretence, showing off or covering up the truth of all that we were. Knowing all that we did about each other, we loved each other in spite of, or because of, everything anyway.

About a year after we met, I was living in Vancouver and he was living in Winnipeg. We talked on the phone nearly everyday and wrote to each other (pre-email days) several times a week. After about two months of being apart he called and said he thought I should come home so we could get married. I hung up on him but he called back and a month later I was on a plane heading home to my old friend and new fiance.

Every time we tell our story people are in awe that we would marry someone we didn't even date. We get the same questions every time, How can you know a person you've never dated, what about physical attraction, what if you didn't have 'chemistry'? 

We believe that true, lasting love is a decision you make. It has little to do with the emotion of love, sure that might hook you in the beginning but is that enough to make you stay when life gets real and messy and complicated? For us, the basis of respect and affection that grew out of our friendship has been the backbone to our marriage. When things have been rough and Mr. Awesome has been less than awesome I have been able to look at him and know that somewhere in that mess of a human being is the friend that I love. He has been able to do the same with me in my less than stellar moments, too.

Real love is a decision you make everyday, no matter how your relationship began. Living with integrity, fidelity and respect for your partner is not something that you fall into, its a choice that you make. Just like you don't fall in love or out of love. You choose, moment by moment, who and how you love.

Mr. Awesome and I decide every day to love each other, to respect and honour the promise we made to each other nearly 14 years ago. We decide, in spite of our moods and emotions or the mood and emotions of our partner, to love, to protect and to be faithful to the heart of our friend ... our best friend.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Great Reads

This weekend I was asked by seven different people for recommendations for a 'great read' so I thought that maybe it was time for a little Nic's Picks book update.

The first book I always, always recommend is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It is a beautiful story with compelling characters and no matter whether you are a man, woman, young or old you will find something to love about this book.

My next 'go to' pick is Townhouse by Tish Cohen. Its a quirky little tale that is wonderfully written with funny, charming and perfectly flawed characters. Another favourite of mine in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. I love how this piece of fiction hits the truth right on the head from the perspective of a teen with Autism.

For the thriller lovers out there the 'Byte Series by Cat Connor (Killerbyte, Terrorbyte and Exacerbyte) is the perfect blend of crime, poetry and nail biting terror/suspense. Her characters are as intricate and complicated as the crimes she constructs for them to solve. If you enjoy nonfiction than Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison is a fantastic read as is the memoir of a mother and her struggle to balance her responsibilites as a mom with the fight of her life in Cancer is a Bitch by Gail Konop Baker.

Here's a list of some of my all time favourite reads ...

Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet
Roots - Alex Haley
The Sacketts  - Louis L'Amour
The Painted House - John Grisham
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

When God Whispers Your Name- Max Lucado
My Utmost for His Highest - Oswald Chambers

I think that's it for now ... start there and let me know when you need some more suggestions!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Awkward Good-bye

This morning, through a moment of weakness and bad judgement, I offered to volunteer at Dude's school at 8am. Mornings, as you know, are not my favourite part of the day but I did it. I got myself and all three kids up, dressed, through Timportance drive thru and to the middle school by 8am. The students were on time (mostly) and ready to go with great attitudes, which helped to take the edge off.

As I sipped my coffee and wandered the empty halls supervising the students, I had a moment of clarity. This is it. My baby, my first born boy is in middle school. He isn't a baby or a toddler or even a little guy anymore. He is a full blown tween on his way to all the crazy greatness of being a teen and then an adult. I think this revelation has been pushing at me for a while but I've been ignoring it.

He is taller, leaner and has lost all that baby cuteness. Yesterday someone commented to me how handsome he is and I said, "yep, he's a cute kid." She replied, "No, I mean he is a handsome guy, not like a little kid, but on his way to being a very good looking man." I thanked her but inwardly thought she was nuts, he's just a little boy. But when I stop to think about all that he is, I can't deny it. He is changing.

Sure he still likes Lego, Harry Potter and Nerf guns but so do a lot of grown men! He is calmer, more thoughtful and more interested in life. He has deep, beautiful thoughts that give us tiny glimpses into his soul. He has dreams for his future, intentions for a life filled with kindness, generosity and accomplishment. And he has an eye for a special little gal in his class.

He is growing and I need to accept it and celebrate it, although it breaks my heart and strengthens me in the same moment. All the hopes and wishes I had for the wee baby, the raging toddler, the scared little boy, the bright, brilliant and hilarious little man who has filled my heart and home for the past decade are coming true. He is kind, empathetic, thoughtful, intelligent and independent. He is a guy, just like every other kid in the halls of this school and yet he is unique. He fits in and he stands out.

I was still reeling from this epiphany when I dismissed the students. All the kids filed out of the room, wishing me a good weekend and thanking me for my time. Dude followed them out, but without so much as a good bye. I was a little disappointed but I got it, he's at school with his pals and hugging your mommy in the hallway could be social suicide in middle school. I started to pack up my stuff ,resigning myself to what he was becoming, when he came back into the classroom.

"Bye mom, have a good day."

"Bye, Buddy. See you later."

He walked over, looked around to make sure no one who mattered was looking and he gave me a quick sideways hug. My heart melted. I held him for an extra second and whispered in his ear, "I love you, always."

He walked away and I wasn't sure he heard me until he turned at the door, waved and said, "Always."

And he was gone.

I felt a little melancholy on the drive home, sure that my time with him was quickly passing. I went through the routine of cleaning up from breakfast and hanging up stray coats and sweaters when I noticed two very important items sitting on the couch. Dude's special blanket and his bear, Cha-Cha. He still loved them and needed them so maybe there's hope for me ... maybe I'll get to keep him for a little while longer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Sneaky Thumb

This is a tragic tale of a boy with good intentions but a weak will.

When Dude was a baby we gave him a soother. Against all medical and lactation consultant advice, we stuck the Soos in the crying baby's mouth and he magically stopped wailing. And it was good.

When Crafty was born we thought, what's good for the goose and all that, so we gave her a Soos too. She choked and gagged and sputtered in the dramatic fashion that is now her trademark. No Soos for Crafty. She became a finger sucker instead.

Then when wee Mischief came along we decided to try the Soos again. It worked as long as we held it in his mouth but as soon as we left him alone his sneaky thumb would wheedle its way into his mouth and pop the Soos out. Eventually we gave up our efforts with the Soos and gave into the cuteness that was our wee thumb sucker.

Fast forward six years and the thumb sucking is losing its cute-factor.

We have tried all sorts of stuff over the last year to get him to stop with the thumb sucking. We didn't really concern ourselves with it before he started school. We thought since Crafty quit the finger sucking once she realised that other kids don't really do that sort of thing that Mischief would follow suit but he doesn't care. Either he has supreme confidence or no shame (or a mixture of both) because he does not care who sees him suck his thumb. He gets himself up and dressed all cool and dude-like every morning, struts his way into the school, sits down for carpet time with his pals and sucks his thumb. ARG!

On Monday we had him at the dentist. My pal is a dental assistant for the dentist the kids see so before Mischief went in I told her to really put the pressure on about the thumb sucking. She did and so did the dentist. Mischief promised them that he would quit sucking his thumb by his next dental appointment. I was elated until we were on our way out to the van and he asked if I could wait a couple of years before I scheduled the next appointment because he wasn't ready to quit yet.

That night when I put him to bed we stuck a band aid on his sucking thumb and told him to sleep with his hand under his pillow. He said he would give it a try because he didn't want 'donkey teeth' when he was a teenager. Whatever the motivation, I was glad to see him try.

The following morning I found him sitting at the kitchen table, his head on the table, looking miserable. I asked him what was wrong and he held up the discarded band aid and moan that he is for sure going to have donkey teeth.

"What happened to our plan, Buddy?"

"I couldn't do it. The band aid was strangling my thumb so I took it off and then my thumb sneaked into my mouth! I couldn't make it stop. I'm miserable!"

Poor guy, life is rough when you have a sneaky thumb. Anyone know of a 12 step program for thumb suckers?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First vs. Third

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend and over the course of the morning we laughed about how particular we were with our first children, how eager we were to see them reach milestones and learn new skills and how completely opposite we were by the time we each had our third. This morning as I was thinking about the conversation I started to laugh all over again. Here are some of my first vs. third experiences.

On Bedtime - Dude slept in our bed with us until he was four months old, in our room with his cradle right beside our bed until he was six months old. When he finally moved him to his own room we made sure the baby monitor was right beside the crib and the receiver was on my bedside table ... cranked.

Mischief slept in a cradle in our room for about two weeks before I found all his constant 'baby noises' through the night too disruptive to my sleep. We moved him into his own room but by then we had misplaced the baby monitor. After about a thirty second conversation we figured if he really needed us he would cry loud enough that we would hear him from across the hall.

On Milestones and Skills - We spent many hours on the floor with baby Dude, watching him and encouraging him to roll over, sit up and crawl. Each time he developed a new skill we cheered and immediately wrote it down in his baby book.

When Mischief was born I vowed to never teach this kid how to walk or talk because the work load increased exponentially with the other two once they developed 'skills.' He figured things out on his own despite my best efforts. Each of his new accomplishments was met with groans of discontent and dread as I searched for some scrap of paper to write down the date and event with the intention of someday buying a baby book to record everything in.

On Childcare - For the first couple of years of Dude's life we only left him with family members and even then we were nervous. In fact, the first time my aunt, a very loving and competent mother of three herself, babysat Dude for an evening we left a three page note on the proper care of our precious wee one. The note included helpful tips like, "hold him at a roughly 45 degree angle while feeding" and "be careful if you place him on the couch as he may roll off."

In contrast, when Mischief was about four months old I  forgot to tell the new babysitter his name before I ran out the door. When she asked the other kids, they told her his name was Boobah.

On Illness, Risk-Taking and Injuries - As Dude grew and tried new things we were always vigilant, ready with open arms to catch him in case of a tumble, and a tissue to wipe away tears as well as a fully stocked first aid kit to stave off infections and treat wounds. We sterilised his soother, washed his hands frequently and had the provincial health line on speed dial. Anytime we could helmet, pad and buffer him we did.

With Mischief things are a little more lax. One of the first sentences he learned was "I'm okay!" and he set up a system of rating his scrapes so we knew how serious his injury was (dots, smears and gushers) and whether we needed to intervene. He was a thumb sucker and there was no telling where that thing was before he stuck it in his mouth and no way of keeping it clean so we just stopped thinking about it. If he wasn't changing colour, developing spots or a rash or spiking a fever we decided he probably wasn't that sick. Our safety rules for him include wearing a helmet if ramps or tricks are involved, no stunts when he is higher off the ground than he is tall and if it hurt to do it the first time don't do it the second time.

Like most parents, by the time we had our third child we realised that kids are half rubber, half cement (they bounce and rarely break) and our worry does little to keep them safer than they would be if we just relaxed and gave them a little room to explore ... that and by the third kid, we were too tired to be on 24/7 hyper protective watch. Dude and Mischief are both active, courageous and down and dirty boys ... Mischief just has a few more battle scars, which he tells me, 'the girls like,' anyway.

What is genius? - It is the power to be a boy again at will.
James Matthew Barrie

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Secret of Becoming a Cool Kid

At some point in every grown person's life they have wanted to be a cool kid, or at least hang out with the cool kids thus being cool by association. Some of us achieved some level of cool during our adolescence and others not so much. Some found our dorky niche with others of like kind and were fine with that, others never did find our groove and spent their youth in a solitary funk.

We tell kids that it gets better as we grow up, and for the most part it does, primarily due to our ability to cope, understand what really matters and make friends of substance. We grow up, develop skills, a career and settle into ourselves, leaving the dorky years behind us ... or so we think.

As much as I try to be confident and comfortable in my own shoes, I still find myself revisiting my dorkhood from time to time. I'm not sure what it is but some people bang the drum, sound the alarm and draw out my inner dork every time I'm around them. Maybe its my insecurities or their radiating coolness or a combination of both but I can almost feel my overbite reforming and my hair frizzing as I attempt to make conversation with them. The whole interaction is filled with me second guessing and editing my own comments to the point that I am an awkward stuttering mess while they look for the quickest escape route.

I, all to easily, confirm what we both knew before we entered into the conversation. I'm a dork and there's nothing that can be done about it. But, there's hope, I have discovered that all is not as it seems.

I have come to believe that we are all dorks, deep down inside. Even the most confident, talented, cool-under-pressure, charismatic person has an inner dork lying dormant inside of them. Don't believe it? Ask to see their grade seven school picture and you'll see, its true. We are all dorks, some of use are just better at taming The Dork Beast. Some find a way of suppressing the urge to dork and walk through life with a confidence that si to be envied. But I have discovered a trick that I think just might work!

The next time you are standing in front of a 'cool kid,' flubbing your way through a conversation, picture them as their dorky 13 year old self. Visualize the acne, the braces and the mullet. See their too short acid wash jeans, picture them on their way to band class with their clarinet or to debate club with a gaggle of other geeks. Once you see them in all their dorky glory, blink twice and see them as they are now, poised, confident, clear skinned, de-mulleted and realise they are no longer living the dork. They grew up and grew out of that insecurity ... and so did you.

Your overbite, frizzy hair, teased bangs and collection of panda bear sweatshirts are long gone. You are smart and funny and talented. You have seen things, experienced life and have every right to be respected and heard for the person you are, not boxed into the stereo type of the person you were. The dork is no more. You are a cool kid ...

Oh, you still here? I thought I was alone ...

Well ... all this goes for you to! Be the cool that you are!