Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Great Costume Hunt of '11

I really shouldn't be writing this right now. I should be sewing and cutting and gluing and glittering ... Halloween is only a few days away and we are SO not ready.

Just like every other year we began talking costumes in September. By the beginning of October everyone had settled on something; a vampire, a princess and a Batman ... easy. Last week everyone began having second thoughts.

Crafty wanted to be Princess Tiana from Princess and the Frog but we were having trouble finding a suitable costume so she switched to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. That was great because we already have that costume. The she changed her mind again and wanted to be an angel. Okay, fine, be an angel. I can work with that.

Dude had his heart set on being Vladimir Tod from Heather Brewer's books The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. Great! All we need is a pale face, dark floppy hair, a pair of chucks and a set of fangs. Perfect! Not so perfect. Dude really wanted to wear a smiley face hoodie (from the book cover) but we had trouble getting it delivered to Canada in time so he decided not to be Vlad this year. He thought about Indiana Jones, Will Turner or a Mad Scientist but finally settled on King Arthur.

Mischief wanted to be Batman, he always wants to be Batman until the night he decided to be Jackie Chan. I sat there looking at my 7 year old, so-pale-he's-almost-translucent son and wondered how to turn him into a 57 year old Chinese martial arts master. His Jackie Chan dreams lasted for a couple of days and then the weather turned cold and his eyes turned toward his very fuzzy warm Wild Thing costume. On his way to find his Wild Thing costume he was distracted by the Jedi costume so now he's going to be a Jedi.


That still leaves me to find an angel and a knight so I headed out to Walmart. As I was wading through a sea of Tron, Iron Man, Tinker Belle and Lady Gaga (yeah, that's right ... there's Lady Gaga costumes out there) costumes I realized that the world is a crazy place. if my kids wanted to be zombies, psychopathic murderers, devils, ghouls or 'trashy' anything finding a costume would be super easy but trying to find costumes that depict positive characters and fully cover my 9 year old daughter's body seems like a nearly impossible task ... especially if I don't want to pay a fortune for a costume that won't even last the night.

So back to sewing and gluing ....

Happy Costume and Candy day!
Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story. ~Mason Cooley

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

7 Years of Mischief

This past weekend as we celebrated Mischief's birthday (at the corn maze, with all his pals, for the third year in a row!) I did what all parents do on their kids' birthdays, I thought back to the infant, baby, toddler and little dude he was and looked at the wee man he is now. I also thought about the grown up man he will become. I thought about all he is and all he brings to my life and I asked myself, what did I do to deserve him?

Supposedly, if you break a mirror it means you'll have seven years of bad luck. I've had seven years of Mischief, what did I do to deserve that?

What did I do to deserve seven years of squishy hugs, bed time cuddles and mooshy kisses? What did I do to deserve seven years of corny jokes, heart stopping stunts and long winding stories? What did I do to deserve seven years of contagious laughter, smiles that can simultaneously melt your heart and brighten your day and random words of childhood wisdom? What ever did I do to deserve all this?

Mischief and I have been at odds a lot lately and more than once I have thought about a poem by Shel Silverstein that I enjoyed as a kid. As a mom I want to keep him safe, whole and relatively clean but as a kid he wants to learn, explore and experience everything he can. These opposing goals pit us against each other sometimes and I tend to think that he is wrong and that he needs to just listen and obey. Often times he does need to do that, but sometimes I need to let him be the person he is destined to be. I need to let go, buy some more band aids and a stronger laundry detergent and let him explore and experience.

Here's the poem ...
 Ma and God

God gave us fingers–Ma says, “Use your fork.”
God gave us voices–Ma says, “Don’t scream.”
Ma says eat broccoli, cereal and carrots.
But God gave us tasteys for maple ice cream.

God gave us fingers–Ma says, “Use your hanky.”
God gave us puddles–Ma says, “Don’t splash.”
Ma says, “Be quiet, your father is sleeping.”
But God gave us garbage can covers to crash.

God gave us fingers–Ma says, “Put your gloves on.”
God gave us raindrops–Ma says, “Don’t get wet.”
Ma says be careful, and don’t get too near to
Those strange lovely dogs that God gave us to pet.

God gave us fingers–Ma says, “Go wash ‘em.”
But God gave us coal bins and nice dirty bodies.
And I ain’t too smart, but there’s one thing for certain–
Either Ma’s wrong or else God is.

Maybe Ma is wrong ... just a little.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Kittens or Inspirational Videos Allowed

Hello ... I'm back ... sort of.

Life in this Random Family is more chaotic than usual these days. Actually, it has all the elements of a really over dramatic movie of the week ... I wonder if Melissa Gilbert or Meredith Baxter are up for a new role? Anyway, I'm not going to lay out the situations and circumstances that have piled up to create this Mountain of Chaos, what I am going to write about is what is not helpful to people who are in the same or similar situation as I find myself in these days.

If you come across or know someone who is ill, injured, stressed out, overwhelmed, tired, sad or anxious do NOT do the following things ...

1.  Do NOT post random pictures of kittens on their Facebook page, especially pictures of kittens doing unnatural things like reading a book, wearing glasses or pushing a shopping cart. These pictures are frivolous at best and creepy at worst.

2.   Do NOT email them videos of Starfish, Footprints in the Sand or any other random 1980s inspirational message. Its Spam and annoying and no one ever really watches them.

3.   Do NOT tweet them inspirational quotes or random Bible verses, cause nothing says "I don't really care" like a generic quote via social media.

4.   Do NOT ask them how they are doing, only to interrupt them to say how you knew someone in the exact same situation and they were totally fine or worse, their head fell off and their arms turned green.

5.   Do NOT turn their struggles into a conversation starter or gossip at your next social function, no one wants their business discussed by strangers over mini-keish and sliders.

What you CAN do is talk to them. Have a real face to face or over the phone conversation. Take the time out of your busyness to let them know that you really do care. Let THEM talk about how THEY feel. Let them vent, rant or cry. Let them doubt, worry and fret. And then give them a hand getting out of the mire, not three quick tips to a happier life but really friendly encouragement.

When people are feeling down they don't need a life coach or a motivational speaker at their side, they need to feel the support, encouragement and warmth of their friends. Maybe an inspirational quote or a Bible verse is the thing that can help in the moment but say it ... don't tweet it. I stand by my disdain for cat pictures and sappy video links but a coffeejuice never hurt anyone.

The bottom line is, show up, be present and be a real friend not just a click on a page.

A friend is someone who will bail you out of jail. A best friend is the one sitting next to you saying "boy was that fun."
- The Maugles

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Anti-Bullying Irritation

I have one. An Anti-Bullying Irritation. I hate anti-bullying campaigns. They seriously make me mad.

Here's the thing, I am completely against bullying behaviour. I think mean chatter, cyber humiliation, hallway intimidation, locker room taunts and any other action or word that is intended to make another person feel threatened or marginalized is wrong and unnecessary. I detest the act of 'bullying'. What I detest just as much is the isolation and vilifying of the kids who commit these acts.

All the research shows that the kids who do the bullying are the ones who have been bullied themselves. The same kids sending cruel texts, making threats on the school yard and being physically aggressive on the school bus are the same kids who are being mentally, emotionally or physically tormented in some area of their lives.

This isn't an excuse ... its a fact.

So then, if this is true, if the kids who are targeting other kids are targets themselves how is isolating them, belittling them and turning them into monsters going to help them curb this behaviour?

The act of bullying is atrocious and reprehensible. The 'bully', the kid is not. When you back a kid into a corner, when you label them and treat them with constant suspicious and negativity you block their exit. They have no way back from the bad behaviour if you label them as The Bully. They have no way to make amends and change their interactions with people if they feel like no one is rooting for them, believes in them.

Don't get me wrong, the behaviour needs to be dealt with but the kid still needs to feel acceptance and forgiveness, especially from the adults in the situation. For instance, there is a girl in Crafty's class who could be labelled as The Bully. She cannot keep her hands to herself, she does intrusive and gross things, she is constantly insulting or belittling her classmates and one of her favourite targets is Crafty. It drives me nuts that this kid is forever doing things to make Crafty's life miserable and I have spoken to the staff at the school several times about dealing with the behaviour.

I want the behaviour stopped. I want the kid helped.

When Crafty and her friends start going off about how much of a bully this kid is I stop them immediately. I let them know that they have every right to stand up from themselves, to remove themselves from harm and threat but that by labelling this kid, by looking at her only from the perspective of her negative actions, we are holding her back from changing.

What if people only looked at you from the perspective of your worst attributes? What if you had to walk through life known simply as The Liar, The Glutton, The Adulterous or The Gossip? How good would you feel about yourself? How easy would it be for you to hold your head up high and work towards change?

Yeah, that's what I thought ... and you're the grown up. Hate the behaviour, love the kid. Change the kid, eliminate the behaviour.

Its never too late to become who you might have been.
~George Eliot

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time Flies When You're Jamming Stuff in Closets

Last Friday, Crafty skipped school and I took her into the city for the day. She had a doctor's appointment in the morning then we went out for lunch and did some shopping ... a LOT of shopping.

Since the start of the school year we have had at least two Wardrobe Emergencies each week. Her clothes are always too big, too small, too tight, too loose, too scratchy, too soft, too staticy or too slippery but one thing is for certain, they are ALWAYS too uncomfortable.

In September, we did all of the usually back-to-school shopping and Crafty got a lot of new stuff but somehow none of it is right. Although she tried everything on and I asked her several times if she liked what we were picking out, only a couple of those items are in her Regular Wardrobe Rotation. I have been beyond frustrated so on Friday I decided it was time to take action!

While we were shopping I kind of hung back and let her pick up the things that she liked. At first she kept asking me for my opinion and I kept tossing the question back at her. By the third store she was getting the point, her clothes, her choices. I admit, I was a little nervous at first ... there are so many ways this could have gone wrong but it didn't. She started picking up clothes that were really her. Cute, quirky and just a little bit mature while still being fun and playful.

We had a fantastic day in the city, laughing, joking, teasing and talking, neither of us wanted our day alone together to end. As we left the last store, with a bag full of hairbands, scarves and earrings, I promised that this would become a tradition, that I would make sure we had many, many more days like this. Just me and her.

On the drive home I looked over at Crafty, curled up and asleep in the seat neat to me, and I marveled at the girl she is and the woman she will one day become. I realized that although she won't be my little girl forever, I still have time, lots and lots of time to make memories, if I want to. I know that I am often guilty of passing over these small moments, these opportunities for memories in the busyness of our day to day life. I get so caught up in volunteering, advocating and helping for the sake of my kids that I sometimes forget to just BE with my kids. That needs to change.

On Saturday morning, I knocked on Crafty's bed room door and asked if she needed help putting her new things away. We spent an hour or so cleaning out her closet of everything that was 'too' and making room for her new things. While we were busy sorting through her clothes she stopped and suddenly gave me a hug.

"Thanks for being here, Mom."

"Thanks for letting me in."

"Mom! You're so weird, sometimes! Of course I let you in. I'll always let you in ... if you knock first!"

I hope so, my girl, I hope so!

Fame is rot; daughters are the thing. ~James Matthew Barrie

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Culture of Encouragement

Culture of Encouragement. Culture of Encouragement. Culture of Encouragement.

These three words have been harassing me for weeks. While I’ve been running errands, watching TV with Mr. Awesome, falling asleep or just waking up, working, playing, writing or reading these words have been chasing me down, running circles in my mind ann drumming their way into my heart. But what is a culture of encouragement? And why won’t this idea leave me alone?

A few years ago I attended a leadership conference where one of the speakers talked about creating a culture within your organization, a signature, a vibe that your place is known for like Starbucks and their caffeine induced happiness or Disney and their family-friendly perkiness. The speaker talked about defining your absolutes and shaping the atmosphere of your influence. He made it sound so easy to change public opinion and manipulate trends and maybe it is.

I have been so bothered in recent months over the Culture my kids are growing up in. I am annoyed that Negativity in king and cruelty is cool. I hate that insults are the accepted greetings and that no one is held accountable for the things that they say and do. I can’t stand that my kids are getting schooled in this “Whatever and BTW, FU!” attitude by their peers, advertisements and supposedly Family Friendly TV shows and movies.

Where is the kindness? What happened to respect for your elders, for your peers, for yourself? Can’t ‘they’ see that it’s this negativity that breeds bullying, depression, suicide and impulsive, self-gratifying and dangerous behavior? Don’t ‘they’ see that negativity robs them of their future, of their potential for greatness?

The more irritated I get the more this mantra loops through my head, Culture of Encouragement. Create a culture, define your absolutes, change public opinion. Yeah, right! I’m just some random mother with a little blog and a few faithful readers. I can’t create change. And then Margaret Mead shows up with her “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Yeah, I hear you, Marge … so here I am … asking you to help me change the world.

Dude’s school is working with me to create opportunities to encourage. We are going to create an encouragement wall, where staff and students will be able to write notes, post inspirational quotes or pictures. We are going to make encouragement a habit, a visual tangible thing that we will display as a banner of hope for our students. That’s what encouragement is, anyway. By dictionary definition ‘to encourage’ is ‘the act of giving hope and support.’

How amazing is that?! The ability to reach out and give hope is within our reach, within our words! I am so excited for the things to come in my world, of the changes that will begin to take places in the hearts and minds of our students as the message of hope begins to sink in and permeate their beings.

So I'm just wondering .. what can you do? How can you give hope and change the Culture of your world? Think about it, act on it.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Like Dad

Mischief has been driving me a little nutty lately. He has been climbing everything, making some less than stellar choices in his behaviour and attitude and whining about 'just wanting to have fun'. Mr. Awesome and I have tried all sorts of things to try to curb this mayhem but nothing has worked so far.

After a series of notes from school and conversations with his teacher as well as constantly refereeing fights with between him and the other kids I was becoming unglued. I was exhausted and more frustrated than I can ever remember being with this kid. So, when I walked into the family room just as he was about to execute a near kamikaze stunt involving the stairs, the couch, ottoman, a number of blankets and towels and the dog I knew I had a choice to make. I could lock him in the dog kennel, tie him to a chair or run away from home.

Realizing that none of those were really viable options, I stuck the kid in the bath tub and gave myself a time out. As I stood outside the bathroom door, I listened to him play and sing in the tub. He was everything sweet and calm and adorable, as he soaked in the bubbles. When he was sufficiently wrinkled, I pulled him out of the tub, toweled him off and sent him to his room to get jammied. Maybe all he needed was a little alone time to soak and relax, I told myself, pleased with the new, calm Mischief.

I hadn't even finished draining the tub and putting the bath toys away before I heard Crafty yelling, followed by Mischief's cackles, coming from the basement. Oh good grief! I diffused the situation and quickly whisked Mischief off to bed, his day was done, even if he wasn't!  As I tucked him into bed, he wrapped his little arms around me and apologized for being a handful. I nuzzled into his freshly washed neck and sighed.

Dear God, help me with this kid! I prayed silently and as if he heard me, Mischief pulled back, placed his little hands on my cheeks and looked me straight in the eye and said, "Its okay mom. I'll grow up and be just like Dad, everything will be fine."

I kissed his forehead, told him I loved him and left the room. Just like Dad, eh? Not sure whether that made me feel better or worse in the moment, to tell you the truth!

I returned to my room and thought about all that Mischief is and how much he is already like his dad. Although he climbs and jumps and runs through life like a loon, he is also funny, witty, smart, caring and noble. He has a huge heart, loves fiercely and usually has the best of intentions. He is supremely confident, fearless and courageous. He is everything that is good and sweet ... he is already just like his dad, and that's not so bad, after all.

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

~James Matthew Barrie

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Regular Kid?

I often joke about the need to teach Dude everything he should know to become more independent because he's not living with me for the rest of his life but it's true ... and a little scary for me. I love seeing him grow and learn and do things for himself. I love seeing his confidence increase and his anxiety decrease yet every time he takes a new step towards independence my heart lurches in my chest and my mind is flooded with all of the what ifs.

What if it's too loud, too busy or too bright and he gets disorientated? What if he gets overwhelmed and freaks out and no one is there to help him? What if kids start joking around and he misunderstands and gets upset? What if he says something rude or condescending and offends his friends? What if the kids he's with start making fun of him? What if someone makes fun of his hair? What if someone starts playing a Justin Bieber song?  What if, what if what if?

We have survived on what if ... they are what has got us this far. My ability to see a situation and predict all possible reactions and outcomes in a split second has kept us moving forward, kept us from melt downs. Being able to see five minutes into the future, to sense the next melt down and move around that trigger is what has made outings into the world possible. It is a sixth sense that most parents of kids on The Spectrum develop and rely on much more than any of their other senses; I know I do ... er ... did.

For the past four years or more we have hoped for normalcy. We set a goal of helping Dude to become as much like other kids as possible and we have worked very hard towards that goal. Every year we see more maturity, understanding and self control on his part. We see him making friends, fitting in, initiating conversations, looking at people when they are talking and managing his emotions and recognizing emotions in others ... just like a regular kid.

So then why does my heart stop when he wants to walk to school with his pals, stay for lunch in the cafeteria and go bike riding with the neighborhood kids? Why does it scare me so much to see him inch towards independence just like a regular 11 year old kid?

Oh yeah, because he's a regular kid and I'm a regular mom and independence and worry go hand in hand sometimes. It's normal.

Be careful what you wish for!

You'll always be different but you don't have to be disabled. You can emerge from disability.
~John Elder Robison

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Say Suicide

Suicide makes me mad so stop it.

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it!

What is worth dying for? What is worth killing yourself, your dreams, your future over? What is worth devastating the people who love over? What is worth your life?

What is worth a life? What is worth making a person feel so useless, unloved and isolated over? What is worth forcing despair and humiliation on to someone? What words are worth a life?

When I hear about teens taking their own lives because of words that have been said and judgements that have been made it makes my blood boil. I can't handle it when people of any age use put downs to elevate their own self esteem. I don't understand why cruelness has become so cool and kindness so passe. I can't figure out what the long term pay off to aggression is, how does knowing that you have caused another person to feel as bad as you do make you feel better? How do you, Mean Kid, figure that your harsh words are worth the life of another person?

What's worse than kids being mean to kids is adults allowing, modelling and endorsing the very attitudes that lead to bullying. Go ahead, teach your kids morals, standards and ethics that fall in line with your beliefs but also teach them about respect and kindness. Teach them that cruelty has never turned one heart towards God. Model for them acceptance despite differences. Endorse kindness.

And Kid Who Feels Like Dying, stop it, you're scaring me! Even though you don't feel like it right now, even though you may not know it, you are stronger than this, you are loved more than this. The kid who is making your life hell, the adult who doesn't see you, the taunts that echo in your ears long after they've been said, those things won't last forever. The pain will stop, the loneliness will end. If you feel like dying, wait five minutes ... if you still feel like dying, wait five more minutes. While you're waiting tell someone. Write it down, tweet it, text it, call that one person who is always glad to see you.

Tell someone because suicide is a waste, a tragedy and senseless. It is not an answer, its an unanswerable question. Suicide doesn't fix anything, it breaks hearts. Suicide leaves a gaping hole of hurt, inadequacy and confusion where love used to live. Suicide doesn't end, it echos in the lives of the people who loved and lost.

Tell someone, a friend, a teacher, a parent a pastor. Call the stranger who is always there to help.

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Your life matters.
~Some Random Mother

Friday, October 7, 2011

Are you 'home'?

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got; Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot ... Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name"

These lyrics popped into my head a couple of weeks ago while I was working at my church. We had received a phone call from someone who was new in town and needed some help, so the pastor sent me out to do a little grocery shopping for this family. After I dropped off the groceries I helped the family to run an errand. While we were driving through town they told me the story of how they ended up in our small town.

Life had been rough the last several years and after moving around in between shelters and the homes of family and friends they finally landed here. They hoped to settle in, to have a place where they belonged, where their kids could go to school and make friends, where they could find jobs, community and stability. They hoped to call this place home.

Home is a powerful word. It conjures feelings of warmth, security and acceptance. Home is that place that is waiting for you at the end of a long day, that place that you can snuggle into, relax and let your cares float away. Home is that place you invite friends into and lock enemies out of. Home is for celebrating, relaxing, comforting and dreaming. Or at least it should be.

Not everyone has had an ideal childhood and even as adults home isn't everything you want it to be sometimes. Home can be filled with disappointment, strife, hurt and pressure. It can be that place where you never measure up, where there's never enough. Home can be the last place you want to be. Sometimes, home is anything but a safe place to land.

But sometimes home isn't a building, its a person.

Over the last few days a local radio station has been doing a radiothon for an organization that helps homeless people get the care and the support they need to get back on their feet. As part of the radiothon, they interviewed the people who have been helped by this organization. Person after person told stories of hope, acceptance and respect. They told stories of home because, although they were without four walls to call home, they had found a place, and more importantly, they had found people, who knew them, cared about them and were glad to see them. This is home.

As I listened to the stories I realised that we can be home for each other. Even though we may not share a house, we can share home. We can be a place of acceptance, hope and support for the people in our world. We can celebrate, relax, comfort and dream together. We can be a soft place to land in a world full of stress, pressure and disappointment.

Being 'home' takes so little effort, too.  Being 'home' is just caring enough to realize that we each carry stuff through life ... worries, stress, joys and dreams ... and that if we open ourselves to share these loads, we will lighten the burden and partake in the rewards, together. All it takes is a little patience, a little understanding, a warm smile and a listening ear from time to time.

You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Don't Dis the SwaggerWagon

We are a two vehicle family. We have Alice, our minivan and then there's Emmet, our jeep. Emmet is fun, rugged and sporty, in a rusty-12 year old sort of way. Emmet barrels down dirt roads, races through fields, cuts through snow drifts and can tow his weight in freight and he has a wicked stereo system. Emmet is a party on wheels.

Alice is practical. She has seating for seven, 13 cup holders, tons of storage and a DVD player. She has an excellent safety rating, gets great mileage and she's comfortable to drive. She has hauled us  to family gatherings, to the lake and half way across the country. We depend on her to get us to the grocery store, to school and to doctor's appointments. She is sensible, no nonsense, all business.

Living in a small town has allowed me to conduct a very unscientific experiment over the past month or so. I drive the same route between schools every day, several times a day. I also tend to go to the same stores in our area around the same time each week, so I have made a point of alternating between Alice and Emmet when I've been running errands. I wanted to see if people drove or behaved differently around minivans verse something more sporty and less 'mommy.'

The bottom line? They do, drivers respond differently based on the vehicle and their preconceived notions about the type of person who drives that type of vehicle. To keep my 'research' as balanced as possible, I have driven above the speed limit and below the speed limit in each vehicle. I have driven very cautiously and less cautiously and I have been courteous and ignorant in each vehicle.  I even took note of a few of the vehicles I see frequently and watched how they responded to me in each vehicle.

When I was driving Emmet, I just did my thing, ran my errands and most people stayed out of my way. No one cut me off, stole my parking spot or gave me the stink eye for passing them. No one tried to 'race me off the line' when the light turned green or gave me the finger for coming to a full stop at a stop sign. All of these things and more happen when I drive Alice.

It seems people take one look at a minivan, think 'Soccer Mom' and drive uber aggressively to get in front of the Mom-mobile. I can't count the number of times people have tried to cut me off, beat me off the line and box me out of changing lanes when I'm driving Alice but they don't know Alice's secret, at least not until its too late. Alice is fast, like really, really fast.

There is little in life that is sweeter than pulling up to a red light, beside some idiot in a sport scar who has just driven like a moron to cut you off. He sits there in his sporty red coupe, sizing you up, scoffing at your minivan, pitying you for your sad, sad life. You are a mom. Your van in full of kids, groceries and dog hair. There are smudgey hand prints on your doors, an unknown substance smeared across your passenger window and Veggie Tales blaring from your mediocre sound system.

How sad to be you, he thinks as he slicks his hair back and adjusts his mirrored aviator glasses while one hand rests at the top of the steer wheel. He's cool and he knows it. The opposite light turns yellow and he revs his engine in anticipation. The second before your light turns green, you look over at him, smile and wave and that's the last you see of him as he becomes a spec in your rear view mirror.

You are driving Alice and she can beat nearly every muscle car off the line, every time because she has the heart of a race car in the body of a minivan. She is fast, really, really fast.

I know I've posted this before but seriously, I think its my theme song ... Don't dis the swagger wagon.

Stereotypes are devices for saving a biased person the trouble of learning

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Few Random Answers

I am having a Crisis of Congestion this week and after three days of a head cold and two nights of next to no sleep my mind is foggy and writing something coherent seems beyond my capabilities so ... here's my cop out post.

I am going to answer a few of the questions I am most frequently asked ...

Do your kids or husband mind that you tell everyone everything about your life?

Well, the short answer is 'no.' 

I don't tell everything. I think carefully about the stories I share because although I want to be open and honest I also want to protect the people in my world. My first obligation is to keep my own family healthy and cared for, helping other people, making people laugh or think about the way they see the world is secondary. I set boundaries on what and how much to share and I often talk with Mr. Awesome about these boundaries, making sure he is comfortable with all of this.

How/why did you give your family pseudonyms?

The 'why' is to protect their privacy and to give the kids a little deniability as they get older. ;-) The 'how' came about pretty easily. I just thought about each of them, who they are and what they represent in my life. Anyone who knows my kids knows how each name fits them perfectly.

Mr. Awesome became Mr. Awesome out of sarcasm, actually. He was being less than awesome one evening and out of irritation I called him 'Mr. Awesome' and it kind of stuck. The more I called him Mr. Awesome the more awesome he became or the more I recognized all the ways he truly is awesome, either way I think calling him Mr. Awesome has seriously improved our relationship.

What are your favourite posts?

For funny anecdotes nothing is funnier to me than Hunter Girl!

On the more serious side, my favourite posts are the ones where I got to just talk about my family, everything good and sweet and wonderful about this crazy bunch. The two posts that come to mind first, though are The Things I Love About Them and They Belong to Me.

Why don't you turn your blog into a book?

From your mouth to the publishing gods ears!

Writing a book is no easy thing, I should know, I've been trying to write one for the better part of nine years! It is my dream to write books and to speak to groups of parents and teachers about the things I write about here, hope, encouragement and intentional relationships with the kids in your circle of influence. Writing is my dream, my goal, but my family is my reality and my first priority. I do write everyday but it is a balancing act right now, one I am still trying to get the hang of.

Stay tuned ... I'm hoping to churn something out soon!

Thanks for reading, for taking an interest and asking questions. If you have more questions send them to and take a moment to check out my new 'tab' Around the Web ... I've done a couple of radio interviews lately ... the links are on that page.

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you didn't know existed. ~Linda Wooten

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vote Anyway!

This one is just for my Manitoba peeps, today ...


You've got plans, have to work or it's your one day off ... Vote Anyway.

Your kid is sick, your laundry is piling up or your favourite show is on ... Vote Anyway.

You have a doctor's appointment, business lunch, errands to run or a class tonight ... Vote Anyway.

Despite the apathy, cynicism, broken promises and disappointments ... Vote Anyway.
So you don't know the parties, platforms or the players ... click here to find out The Who, click here, here or here to see The Big Picture and then ... Vote Anyway!

One vote matters, every vote counts, your vote is your voice ... Vote Anyway, Manitoba!

Why wouldn't someone vote?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Small Victories

This morning we had Dude at his specialist's for his quarterly check-up. Every three months Dude goes to see his Pediatrician, one who specializes in working with kids on The Spectrum, and she tracks his growth, blood pressure and general development. For the past year she has been concerned that Dude hasn't put on any weight and hasn't grow a centimeter ... today that changed. For the first time since Spring of 2010 Dude's growth arc took an upturn. He grew!

To most moms this wouldn't be a big deal but for us it is. We have spent a year trying special diets, altering his meds and worrying about his development but today we celebrated this small victory. We try to celebrate every small victory because we've learned that a small victory is often the first step toward a great big triumph, to a new level of success.

For instance, most people who meet Dude think he's funny and interesting and can't really 'see' the Autism in him but that hasn't always been the case. I remember one small victory, a Christmas miracle of sorts, that set him on the path to the witty kid he is now.

He was eight years old and we had been muddling through Asperger's for a little more than a year. Our life was vastly better than it had been a year previously, Dude was more calm and easier to talk to and he was beginning to take an interest in the people around him and how to relate to them. We had spent much of the Fall talking about conversation, anecdotes and humor in an effort to help him understand all the pieces that make up the social puzzle called friendship but we weren't sure if Dude was really getting it.

The night of his school's winter concert we saw another small victory, our Christmas miracle that year. A year earlier our time at the concert had ended abruptly with Dude losing it on stage and threatening to kill us before he bolted from the school, into the winter night. This year, he stood on stage with his class, sang and did the actions to every song, made conversation with his teachers afterwards and walked home with the family to have cookies and hot chocolate.

I was basking in the glow of our successful evening as we sat in our living room, chatting and laughing, with my parents, aunt and sister. About half an hour into the conversation Dude came to sit on my lap and whispered in my ear, "They are telling funny stories, right?"

"Yep, they're talking about when Gran and Auntie were little, about funny things that happened with their brothers and sisters," I said.

"If I want to talk I should think of something funny to share, right?" he asked.

"Can you think of something that would fit the conversation?" I asked.

"Give me a minute to think," he replied.

A few minutes of conversation passed, everyone still laughing and sharing funny family anecdotes when Dude tapped my shoulder and winked. He was ready. After my sister finished her story there was a lull in the conversation so I nudged Dude and he began to tell his story. His anecdote perfectly into the conversation and what's more, it as really funny.

As everyone chuckled and congratulated Dude on telling such a great story I fought the tears that were welling up inside me. This was a small thing, something that millions of other kids do all the time but this was a first for Dude. It was the first time he told a funny story that was in sync with the conversation. Although there's no line in the baby book for this sort of thing, its these moments that are written on the hearts of every parent of a kid on The Spectrum. These glimpses of 'normal' give us hope that our quirky kids will grow up and find their place in this world, after all.

Although our victory today was just an inch and pound it gives us hope, hope that maybe his anxiety is decreasing, that he is feeling more secure and more confident. It gives us a glimpse of a future for him where he embraces his differences and celebrates his unique perspective on life without worry of being bullied or isolated. We see the emerging shape of a strong, self assured guy who is relaxed and comfortable in his own skin and feels in control of himself.

Its only a pound and an inch but still, its a pound and an inch!

Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.

~Louis L'Amour

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Foodie Goddess - Lentil Soup

It is officially fall! I thought to mark the occasion I would share with you one of our family’s favourite chilly weather meals. It is actually a vegetarian meal, but my husband who is a meat eater from way back, loves this meal, too. My Dad also makes requests for this every year when the air gets cool – yup, it’s that good!

This is our version of lentil soup with a side of yummy cheesy biscuits. You know the soup is very healthy, so you can enjoy these fantastic biscuits with no guilt…at least that is what we can tell ourselves! I was watching Rachael Ray yesterday and she calls this “girl math”. I subscribe to this train of thought myself.

Now this recipe makes a GIGANTIC pot of this stuff. Which is great because it also freezes most excellently {is that even a word?!}. I made this last weekend and I then froze two smaller batches for meals in the future and one lunch sized bowl for me to take to work one day. A great idea for work lunches on those cold winter days.

Here are the recipes ... Enjoy!

Foodie’s Favourite Lentil Soup

1 – 2 teaspoons of oil {canola, olive or heck even some good old butter}
1 cup of chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 cartons of chicken or vegetable broth {'no salt' added varieties work really well}
1 big can of diced tomatoes {28 fl oz}
1 cup of tomato sauce or even a can of tomato soup will work
2 cups of lentils {any colour of your choice}
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups diced sweet potatoes {I have used regular potatoes in the past and it good too}
1 tsp of oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp of ground coriander
¼ - ½ tsp of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of fresh chopped spinach

First you will need a giant pot! Now saute the onions, celery and garlic in the oil or butter for 3 or 4 minutes, until they start getting soft. Now you will add everything else into the pot, except for the spinach. Bring your soup to a nice boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then add in the spinach and let it cook for another 15 minutes. We love to sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top – yum!

Now for the delicious side…

Ever so Yummy Biscuits

2 cups of flour {any kind works well}
4 tsp of baking powder
2 tbsp of sugar
1 ½ cups of grated cheddar {strong flavour works the best}
2 – 3 chopped green onions
1/3 of oil or melted butter
¾ cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the cheese and onions and stir. Add oil/butter and milk, stir to mix. You will need to get your hands in here at this point. Gently kneed until you have your dough formed. Now, most civilized recipes will tell you at this point to roll out your dough and cut it with pretty round cutters. But I like the shortcut version myself. I just take the dough, form it with my hands and place it on the cookie sheet. Works great! I have also in the past used the wooden spoon and just dropped the dough onto the cookie sheet – this too makes fabulous biscuits. What an easy recipe you say! Yes I know!

Bake for 15 minutes until just starting to become golden.


The way to any man or woman's heart or any other part of their anatomy, is through their stomach
~Rachael Ray