Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another Year Older

Happy Birthday my sweet baby boy - and yes, even though you are turning 5 you are still my baby. Forever. Sorry, it's a mothers prerogative to forever and always consider you her baby - although I will try to refrain from calling you that in public - that's the best I can do.

I cannot believe how fast time is passing. Daddy was playing old home movies the other day and there you were in all your glory, sitting in your diaper on your brothers bed with his guitar on your lap singing "You give love a bad name". A stellar rendition. It seems like just yesterday you were racing around, falling every couple of feet, yelling "I'm O.k." and needing a boost to get up on the bed. Now you can reach the light switches, climb onto the counters to help yourself to a snack, and just this morning you used a knife to cut your own breakfast feast of pancakes. The questions you ask me often throw me for a loop but thank god for google so you still think your mom knows everything.

I know we butt heads often, I guess we share the same strong will even if you didn't grow in my womb. You were meant to be my son for sure, if just to keep me on my toes. You keep wanting to grow up so fast and I work hard to keep you small. But I am proud of you - you are so thoughtful and sensitive and forgiving. I think this even when I can be overheard muttering that you are too smart for your own good.

My wishes for you as you get older and explore this vast world of ours are both endless and simple: believe in yourself, be good to others and never, ever doubt for a minute that you are loved entirely and completely by your family. We love you JJ.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Delivering Spring & Summer

In the past nine months, since I started my new job, I have met some dynamic and inspiring individuals. Some are living with a disability, some are parents or family members of an individual and some are working in the field, passionate about inclusion of everyone in the community. Typically conversations with new people are difficult for me, I never know what to say, I suck at small talk. With these people though, I am loving the conversations. It's almost like a drug, I get so charged by what they share. I find myself thinking new things, posing new questions to myself, challenging my former ways of thinking or doing. I LOVE it.

One of these individuals will likely never know the impact just a few of words have had on me. It was during a break at a training event and I was saying that the instructor was really opening my eyes to what we would need to do to prepare our son for adulthood. It was daunting but exhilarating at the same time. This woman, let's call her Jane, is a facilitator working with adults and their families to achieve the life they want to live, in part through individualized funding.

We were talking about giving all of our children, no matter what their challenges, the same life experiences. Many times when our children are young, respite dollars and Special Services at Home (SSAH) dollars are dedicated to providing a break for parents and fun for the child or even extra school type tutoring. What doesn't happen often enough is using these dollars for paid staff to support an individual in being a productive member of his family as he/she gets older, such as cutting the lawn or getting a part time job. Jane followed it up later by sharing with me how many individuals, because they have been given some sort of a diagnosis, have never had a job as a teen - paid or volunteer. She stressed how important it is for all of us to have those experiences. "How do you know what you absolutely hate to do if you never had to endure one of those horrible teen jobs?" as she put it. It's true - I had lots of those jobs as a teen - paper delivery, bus girl at a family run diner, later a waitress at a restaurant run by a deviant.

No matter how hard those jobs were, I learnt something from all of them. Not just how to carry multiple plates and make change but how to deal with difficult people, how assert myself and what I do not enjoy doing in life.

This is what prompted me to start making a plan for C to get a job. We thought about being a dog walker because he loves dogs but A is adamantly opposed to getting one. We have a large apartment building filled with retirees across the street but in the end I decided it would be best to wait until he was a little older for this job. Not to mention I was not too eager to have to poop and scoop for other people's dogs, cause we know I would end up doing it most of the time.

I called a weekly supplement paper here in town and was appalled at the wages they pay - 4 cents a paper. No way I could justify the time it would take to put the thing together and then delver. If I wanted him to volunteer we would pick something more worthy than an advertising conglomerate. Finally we settled on Sears catalogues. We know some other families whose kids have this job and they have had no issues. There is no prep to do the job, you can have a route as big or as small as you want and it is not every week. The intent was to have C do the route a couple of times with me and then I would begin having his support workers go with him.

The ideas behind this are three-fold, learn about responsibility, earn some money and connect with the community. Already after three separate deliveries I see people chatting it up with my boy and I marvel at how easy he finds it to make small talk. Older people seem to delight in his little phrases such as "gee, it's a glorious day isn't it?" (it was dark, windy and frigidly cold). This is one of the ways our son will be known and connect with his community which is so important to vulnerable people.

What I didn't stop to think about when I called and signed him up in October was snow. Where we live we don't tend to get a lot of snow, particularly not until after Christmas. We got dumped on last week, the same day that I pulled into my driveway after driving 4 hours round trip to pick up my mother. There in the driveway before me sat stacks of catalogues being quickly covered in snow. I also didn't stop to ask more questions about the catalogues being delivered just before Christmas. Did you know that the Spring & Summer catalogue needed to be delivered by today? Did you know it is about 1.5 inches thick and weighs a ton (okay I exaggerate but the bundles did bend the wheel in our wagon from the sheer weight)? I also didn't stop to realize that our 60 houses would more than double because people had ordered for Christmas which means they automatically get the next catalogue.

I was determined not to give up, we would get this done. But I ended up being THAT mom, the one that drives around in her van while her son leaps out delivering to each house. I, at times, thought it was going to kill me. But you know, last night while C and I drove around in the frigid cold with the heat on high and a flashlight in hand to try to make out house numbers, I realized I was having fun. Life had thrown us a curveball and we were figuring it out together. C's whining actually ceased last night when we got to the last bundle and the end was clearly in sight. We were working on pure adrenaline as we raced to see who could deliver to the house and get back to the van first. He fell into bed last night and was asleep within minutes, a rarity for him. This morning we are still hi-fiving each other over our accomplishment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Sweet, Sweet Boy

One of the hardest parts about having a child with complex needs is balancing that child's needs with those of siblings. C has been having a rough couple of weeks and so J has been slightly neglected the past few weeks. He was becoming moody and clingy and I KNEW I needed to make an effort to spend some one on one time with him. So today I sent C with his Respite worker and bundled J up to go off and see Santa.

It was the fastest trip ever. When we got to the mall there was a child just finishing and . . . J was next. He climbed right up on Santa's lap and told him he wants "Lego Batman" (a game for the Nintendo Ds he has been promised for his 5th Birthday) and a "Slingy" which of course is a "Slinky". Santa did a visible double take at that request and gave a little chuckle. They had quite a chat which I couldn't hear the details of -"It's personal mom" I was told when I enquired later. Of course I bought the picture package - he looked adorable and we had done the same for C. We are determined not to short change him on memories like these just because he's the youngest.

Then off we went to A&W for a "Cheese Hamburger" at the food court. I must say it did feel great giving him my undivided attention and basking in his 4 year old delight at every little happening. While standing in line waiting for his burger to be ready a man approached the cashier. His jacket was large and long on what was obviously a slight frame. He wore a sweater under it with the hood pulled over his head, effectively masking his face from us at the side.

When he approached, others waiting for their food moved away, an uncomfortable silence fell over the small crowd. He began to order, struggling to get his words out. His deep baratone voice moving up and down octaves loudly as he strained to get the words out. His body was in constant motion - not extreme but definately noticeable as he placed his order with the help of the lovely cashier who never let her smile waver and who pointed to the pictures on the board to make sure she had understood his request. As the young man paid for his meal I found myself filled with both happiness and sadness. Here before me stood someone who reminded me so much of my son. He was at the mall, shopping and ordering a meal on his own. Obviously very independent - nothing to indicate that he was anything other than self sufficient and happy.

But there was also the reaction of the other people, the assumption that he was someone to steer clear of. I was saddened by the reaction of others. I did feel a little sad that it was obviously so hard for him to verbally communicate. I worry about this for my own son. I can't help but think how frustrating that must be to want to get words out and not be able to. Then a little voice piped up and I felt a tugging at my coat. There was J hiding behind me, obvious fear in his large eyes as he whispered "mommy, where is that man from?".

Oh how my heart broke. I know he is 4 years old and had every reason to be uncertain about this man. But why was it so scary, why was it so foregin to my boy who lovingly interacts with his older brother all day everyday who sometimes cannot get a word out without stuttering and repeating himself loudly? He was scared of this man but I was able to explain that the man just had trouble getting his words out like C and wasn't it nice for the lady to wait patiently and to help sometimes. We talked at our table about how one day C will be a big man like that and maybe he will still have trouble getting his own words out.

And my sweet, sweet boy leaned over and put his hand on mine and said "and I will be like that lady, I will wait with a smile and I will help when I can".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Firsts

Going with the theme of "first" I thought this would be fun - hopefully I won't live to regret it . . .

1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
Hmmm - Didn't go, it should have been Bob but see # 22 for why I didn't

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?
Talk no, but we are "friends" on Facebook

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
Beer - from my Dad's bottle but just a sip here and there. My first entire alcoholic drink was either home made red wine or tequila - reason I don't know is that my friend Julie and I got into her parents stash and although I know that is what we consumed that night I have no recollection of which came first. I will say that to mix them was NOT a good idea.

4. What was your FIRST job?
Paper route when I was 10- I delivered the Sunday Sun once a week (yup, on Sundays smart*^%)

5. What was your FIRST car?
A blue Ford Escort, hatchback. Had my first kiss in that car

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
No one, I don't get a lot of texts

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
J, cause he is sick and was sleeping ON me when I woke up this morning.

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
Mrs. Williams. She was tough but nice.

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
1992 to Newfoundland with my parents to see my Dad's family. Haven't been on a plane since.

10. Who was your FIRST best friend and are you still friends with them?
Judy York - lost touch when we both moved a bunch of times. She had a mom who made chocolate chip pancakes and one of those roller piano's where we would sit and "play" songs for hours - "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" over and over and over. We would also make our own perfume and colour it with tissue paper. Her mother must have been a Saint.

11. What was your FIRST sport played?
Baseball in the neighbourhood, was never on an organized team.

12. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
Could have been Judy's house - or Claudia who moved in down the street the year Judy moved the first time and abandoned me (do I sound bitter? lol)

13. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
The lady from the Cable company

14. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
My Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Mark's - I was 10 and it was a beautiful wedding.

15. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
Groaned and then tried to extricate myself out from under a sick child with a nasty oozing ear

16. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
Spin Doctors at Canada's Wonderland (I think)

17. FIRST tattoo or piercing?
Ears when I was around 7. They had already done one ear when I piped in with "when are you starting?"

18. FIRST foreign country you went to?
The U.S. (stop laughing) when I was in first year University I told my friend that I had never been out of Canada so we jumped in the car at 2 o'clock in the morning in the middle of a snow storm and drove to Niagra Falls where he proceeded to ask the Customs Officer where the nearest Denny's was. We pigged out and then went back to school.

19. What was your FIRST run in with the law?
I haven't told many people about this but when I was 15 I went up to Tobermory to stay with my Aunt and Uncle to work for the summer at a motel. All the other summer girls were much older and as a group we "hooked up" with a construction crew of highschool/University guys and we were walking down the side of the highway to go get something to eat. Two of the guys were drinking beer as we went and carrying a cooler between them (soon to find out it was filled with beer too) - a cop came along and the guys all tossed their beer and started to run. Nothing happened except the oldest guy in the bunch was given a ticket. I thought I was so cool and old!

20. When was your FIRST detention?
I think in the seventh grade my teacher gave me a detention when I refused to answer him. He had told me to "shut up" when we were on a school trip so for 3 weeks I did just that. For the record, he "caved" first and apologized to me before I would start talking again. The first time I ever stood up for myself - if only I knew how many times later in life I would have to stand up for not only myself but also my kids.

21. What was the FIRST state you lived in?
Never lived in a state, I'm in Canada - we have provinces and I have always lived in Ontario.

22. Who was the FIRST person to break your heart?

23. Who was your FIRST roommate?
First year University - Katie (pierogi butt) and Kristen (honker) - they were both much older than I was and I had so much to learn. I am sure I was annoying. Looking back though, considering how much older they were at the time, they really should have known better on so many issues.

24. Where did you go on your FIRST limo ride?
Never had one. Sad isn't it?

Wanna try? Consider yourself tagged!
Link back to me and leave a comment here when you post so I can be nosey just like Renee who I got this off of.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I know I haven't been around, I'd like to be able to say it's because I have been SOOOOO busy. But you know what? I'd be lying and the truth is so much more satisfying. It's because I seem to have found my groove, the one where I am a good mother and wife AND I work outside the home. It's not perfect but it is so much better and more relaxed than it used to be. Balance in my life, a first for me.

I am not the only one having firsts. C now has his first paying job - delivering Sears catalogues. This fits with my new mission to help build his community (more on that in another post). It is a lot of work and I end up spending a lot of time focusing him enough to get them delivered but I turn around and pay him as soon as he delivers the last one - I figure in this situation immediate gratification will pay off more than waiting the two weeks it would take the company to pay. It's great exercise for us but I might have to scale to route back. Seems someone (ok, me) was overly ambitious and took on several routes that take us 3 or 4 days after school to finish the deliveries.

C also began to walk himself to school last week - he's in Grade 5 and we live 3 houses down from the school. Seemed like it was time - even if what pushed me to ok it was injuring my knee last weekend which made it hard to get around on Monday. He is so proud of himself and so are we. As he walks he turns around repeatedly to check in with us as we stand on the porch watching him.

These changes are all so wonderful. They make my heart full, re-energizing me and giving me purpose and hope for the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How "hyper" are You?

Could this be why my boys wear me out day after day?

You Are 35% Hyper

You aren't exactly hyper, but no one would accuse you of being lazy either.

You have enough drive to get everything done - with energy to spare.

You don't get overly worked up or rushed. You'll happily take your time.

And you definitely enjoy your down time. You can only be hyper for so long.

Unlike more hyper types, you don't have a ton of interests and friends.

You prefer concentrating on what matters to spreading yourself too thin.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Eating Crow . . . Just a Little

One of the things I admire most about the Principal at my son's school is her willingness to admit when she is wrong. That is HUGE in my book. Later today I will admit to the Principal that her instincts about C and the EA's at school this year were right. Hmmm, guess I have to eat some crow. I thought about just letting the matter slide by, undiscussed, and I am reluctant to say that I was "wrong" in my assertions. It is still early in the year but C is doing well in school, relatively speaking. There are things I need to work out with the teacher and other support staff (such as his IEP - whole other post) but overall he is doing well. The EA he originally had in the morning was brand new to the school and I guess was struggling a little. So the team had a pow wow and decided to switch the pm and am EA's - voila - things are working much better.

Like I said, I admire that our Prinicpal will admit when she is wrong and even, on ocassion, apologize. I feel I must do the same in this case, I will say "Thank you for having listened to my concerns in August and I understand why you went ahead with your plan - I really am happy that it is all working out". Not exactly hat in hand but should be good enough. As for our fabulous Principal - I know you want one too, and I hope you do have one. If you don't, sorry, I didn't learn to share in Kindergarten, she's a keeper.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sleeping Angels, hoping for a win!

5 Minutes for Mom is having a contest to win a bedroom set from Home and Bedroom Furniture. If we won we would pick Summer Breeze Bedroom Set. I am submitting this picture (and breaking my rule to not post pics of my kids up close on here). I hope it's ok that it is of both my "angels" and not just one, I couldn't see anything in the rules that would make it a problem. This pic was taken shortly after J moved from crib to a Toddler bed. My husband went in to check on the boys and this was what he found. Note J's hand on C's forehead - they were both fast asleep. You would never know that by day they fight constantly.

If we get to be a semi-finalist you will get to vote, I hope of course you will vote for our pic. J is still in his toddler bed and needs a bigger one soon!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Confessions of a Soccer Mom

I have started this post over and over, constantly erasing it. It just hasn't flowed through my fingers onto the keyboard. So many things are going on - nothing bad, just busy. It feels like a momentous time, things are happening slowly but so evidently. It is hard to describe to people - I feel like I am walking in another mother's shoes. This is some sort of alternate reality. I think I like it. I am afraid to get too comfortable though - I know things can change in an instant.

For now though - I sit on the side of the soccer field and cheer on my son's school soccer team. I sometimes get caught up in the moment and yell things out. I whoop with delight when we score. I gasp when a player falls and groan when we kick but miss. The sun beams down on us and a light, cool wind blows. I beam as I watch my son, part of a team, for the first time.

It feels good. He is proud, so are we.

True bliss

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tables Turned

For a boy who whined and moaned all summer about not wanting to go to school, J seems to be really enjoying Senior Kindergarten. Anytime he is not busy he is asking me if it's time for school, like at the supper table today.

"Mom, can I go to my school tomorrow?"

"No honey, tomorrow is Sunday"

"Ah, but I want to!" (complete with whiny voice and small fist hitting the table)

Imagine my surprise the other day when out of no where J insisted he wasn't going to school anymore, tears welling up in his eyes. We sat and talked for a while, J finally confessing that there is a "crying boy" in his class who also hits him and takes his toys. He had mentioned the boy that cried before and I hadn't thought much of it as his is a JK/SK mix so some of these children have never been away from their parents. The hitting was news to me though.

I asked him if he had told the teacher and he said yes. We started to talk more about it and he let it slip that the boy wouldn't talk to him or look at him, he just cries and takes things. AHHHH, the light bulb starts to go off. I knew that C's EA from last year was in the JK/SK room this year helping with some children who had transitioned from the early intervention program. The Prinicpal had also mentioned to me that it was a little "hectic" in the classroom as one child was really having a rough time adjusting. I am thinking this little boy has some delays (possibly Autism?) and he does not mean to hurt anyone. J and I talked about how the boy probably didn't know how to be friends yet and that hopefully he will learn more about it while he is in the class. In the meantime, perhaps J could try to be friendly and share and ask the teachers for help of he needs it.

As I was talking to J, I didn't realize C was also listening to our conversation - he piped in with "Yeah, J, he's just like me when I was little. He has special needs and he takes longer to learn. He just needs people to be nice to him until he learns". I was floored. I had no idea that C even realized he was like that in SK, where he spent the majority of his time roaming the room, taking toys, destroying work, hitting and resisiting anything to do with fine motor skills. What wonderful insight and empathy.

The next day I spoke with the Principal as J's teacher was busy talking to the mom of the other boy. I didn't want the mom to overhear and mistake my sharing with the Prinicpal as a damning of her son. It's so strange having the tables turned and instead of my child being the "troubling" one, it was someone else's. My heart goes out to that mom and her boy but I needed to let the principal know how troubled J was by the whole situation. I explained to her what I had said to J and told her I hoped I wasn't "off" in my assessment of the situation. I know she can't tell me specifics about another child (and I wouldn't want her to) but I also didn't want to be making excuses for a child only to find out he's just a kid that likes to hit. At first I think the principal thought I was complaining about the child and she started to explain that he is non-verbal and is really struggling but that he has a special affinity for J. I stopped her and said I would be the LAST person to be mad about this little boy and his behaviour. I just wanted to make sure I was taking the right approach with J. She confirmed that I was and I just asked that anytime this little boy and J were "playing" together that extra be taken to ensure that J wasn't getting hurt.

Since we had our talk J has not reported any more hitting incidents. He does say the boy cries a lot and it hurts his ears. We talk about what it must be like for him to not be able to use his words to talk to people and how to be friendly without getting hurt. I don't want him to just sit there and let himself get hit but I also want my son to be someone who will reach out to a child like this. Like there was for C when he was younger. I've seen first hand what one or two kind children can do for a struggling child.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I am THAT mom!

The boys school really should know me by now. They should know that if I am going to ask them to do something that I will have looked it up already. I will know the "Board Policy" and likely I can recite the Policy number and tell the secretary how to find it on the board website. It's scary but likely they should just listen to what I am asking them and then say "Well, if it was anyone else I would say we don't do that but. . . since it's you, we must be wrong". ha ha, if only.

They should know . . . and yet, they seem to forget. They get caught off guard when I enter the office with medication in hand and say "C will need to take this at 11:00". They stumble around saying, "oh - well, we don't do that!". Uhm, say what? You have a school full of children and you are telling me you NEVER have a kid that needs medicine during the school day? Turns out, yes they do but only with a doctor's note. Aha! I KNEW they were going to try to say that. Yesterday when I had C at the doctor I thought about paying the $20.00 for a school note but when he said he should be better by early next week I thought - why bother? I figured I'd work it out since I did remember a few years ago board policy was that the original medication container wasn't enough - you needed to have a doctor's note.

Being "THAT" mom, I came home and looked on the policy section of the Board website. Low and behold, they have changed the policy, isn't that dandy! Makes my life easier. So while I am in the office and the Principal is trying to tell me all the reasons they "can't" do it, the secretary is looking up the policy I spouted. And do you know what she found . . . .

Policy ST:11 states:
Prescription drugs shall be administered to pupils under the following conditions:
i Short Term Illness–less than six weeks
Specific written and signed directions from the parent/guardian shall be
acceptable. Additionally, the parents must sign the Acknowledgement on
Part 1 of Form A.

Well, luckily I am not the gloating kind of person. Secretary was shocked as was Prinicpal. I really DO get along with these people, they are really very nice and well intentioned. I believe from the shock on their faces that they did not know this. But now, because I am THAT mom, they do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's more pathetic?

Which scenario is more pathetic?

I am upstairs getting dressed and I hear blood curdling screaming between the boys. I turn to go intervene only to be stopped in my tracks by J yelling at the top of his lungs "floot boor anataga!" and C yelling "STOP SWEARING AT ME!". "I can if I want to, it's my language" says J as C screams in frustration and stomps his foot. They begin a back and forth of "is not, is too" and then I am asked to be the judge - is J in fact swearing if the words are made up but the intent to swear is there?


The fact that I am watching all this unfold, a smile tugging at my lips thinking "Now that's one for the blog".

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Gold Star Day

Honestly - it is all I can do to not do cartwheels throughout the house (ok - I have never done a cartwheel in my life, but if I ever did, today would be the day). It started when I received a call at work from the school. My stomach sank as the Principal said "we are not doing so great here". BUT WAIT - it is not what you think! It turns out - she was calling at C's request to let me know that he had a very bad cough (I could hear him barking in the background - where did that come from?) but that he "intended to make it through the day, to go to soccer tryouts". Uhm, ok, is this the same kid that stormed into the office last week demanding to go home because he supposedly had a headache? I quickly planned with the principal that I would come by and bring his allergy med that he hasn't needed since last year.

I zipped home and picked it up and then trekked to the school (3 houses down) and gave C his meds. It was a flavour/type he HATES - he drank it without complaint and no gagging noises after. Then he said "thanks mom, see you after school" and turned and walked back to class! Again, who is this boy?????

After school I picked up J first and he was so proud to show me a duck he was allowed to pick from the prize bin in his teacher's class. Apparently he "did good cleaning" and afterall "that's just fair, right mom?". He was soooo proud of himself and reportedly he is proving to be a very helpful and conscientous Kindergartener. And I get to be his mom? Very cool!

Next C came bounding out - he was beyond excited to join about 25 other boys on the soccer field. I stuck around since the principal and I weren't sure how it would all turn out considering he usually has an EA nearby during the school day. People, I kid you not, you could not pick him out of the crowd! He had not a single issue as I watched him try to keep up with kids all the way up to the 8th Grade (and twice his size). But he did it, and he wasn't too shabby either. When the tryout was over he was hot, sweaty and had a few scrapes including a bloody knee that he viewed as a badge of honour (instead of the sreaming, writhing on the ground as per usual). He proudly announced that there is another tryout session tomorrow after school. Say what? We have to do this again? I am so not used to my kid having activities all the time. I never wanted to be a soccer mom but I am too proud to care.

While C had been at his practice, J hung out laying in the sand, running to track and picking flowers. He bugged me a few times about when we could leave but overall he was very happy and busy. No tantruming. Again, who is this kid? Is he mine?

We came home and the boys vegged out and I got supper ready. After supper it was off to Cubs for C. We signed him up last week after C had been begging for years to be allowed to join. I would be lying if I didn't say I was worried about how he would do after his day filled with activity. We knew going to Cubs today that it was a very informal meet and greet but I didn't realize how "serious" it was, with the leaders going over all the papers with us, line by line. argh. But he managed himself and loved playing a game with all the kids. He was the quietest and one of the calmer kids there. Ok, this is where I seriously began to do a double take. At one point C walked up to one of the leaders he hadn't met before and put out his hand and said "Hi, My name is C___, pleased to meet you" and the leader thought he was the coolest kid. The other leader came over to me at one point to reassure me that the kids aren't always this loud and said she hoped the noise level and behaviour of some of the kids wouldn't disuade me from sending C. I was flabergasted, I almost turned around to look and see who she was talking to. I am so used to being the one apologizing for my kid.

And as we left, C had a little bit of a struggle. and he called me by my first name and he said "mooooommmmmmm" and stomped his foot and got in the car. People, he transitioned from all the fun and he - GOT IN THE CAR!

If I am dreaming - do not wake me up! I could get used to this. And if it is a dream, that's ok. This is the best dream ever, no matter how long (or how little) it lasts. It has been a gold star day.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Books in cages

The week before school started I made arrangements to take C into the school to meet his new teacher and see his class. Being in Grade 5 this year means he is on "the big kid" side of the school. Apparently this is a VERY big deal to C and he seems quite excited. He also was getting apprehensive about never having met his teacher and not knowing what to expect. His teacher, Ms. D., has taught at the school before but had been home with her baby. The day of the visit C was excited to go, I was nervous. I stayed up late the night before compiling a summary of main points about C and some information about his Tourette's and associated conditions. Since the EA's were also going to be new to him I had him help me put together a list of "Do's" and "Don'ts" such as "When I am frustrated, don't touch me" and "give me two choices - never take my choices away". When we got to the school, C happily greeted everyone who, in turn, remarked (as they do every year) about how much he has grown. He made sure to remind everyone that he is going to Grade 5 this year. The principal walked us down to C's class and introduced us to his new teacher. After all his apprehension about the teacher and class, he barely gave her a second look after the intro's and he wasn't interested in taking his picture with her as I thought he would be. Nope, he became fixated on what he termed the "book cage"

he got such a kick out of this corner of the room. I assume it is the "reading corner" and I think he was encouraged and relieved to see that the teacher has a space the kids could just hang out in, complete with a special chair and a bunch of cushions. I think it's going to be a good year.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My First Meme

Renee at Life with My Special K ´s tagged me for my very first meme, 6 Quirky Things About Me. Ok, let´s see:

1. When I make a PB&J sandwich, I HAVE to put the pb on the bread on the right, jam on the left
2. I am a devoted Coronation Street Junkie (American readers are saying ¨hunh¨?)
3. I exclusively ate pizza with toppings I didn´t like for almost 10 years before I confessed to my husband. I would wait until he went out of town and then I would pig out on ¨my¨ pizza.
4. I over empathize with movie characters e.g. in Transformers I felt horrible for all the innocent people being blown up and having their cars and homes destroyed.
5. I didn´t know how to daydream until I was 17 (honestly I had no clue what people meant when they said that, how did they do it?) and even now I think rather than daydream
6. I really struggled to list 6 (and I only did 5), I don´t think I am really all that quirky - but anyone who knows me who thinks different feel free to leave a comment.

The Rules:

1. Link the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

As for tagging people - I am going to bow out on this part, at least for now. I don´t know enough bloggers at this point to pass it on. If someone wants to take it on, by all means do so. Leave a comment so we can link over to learn more about you.

Are We There Yet

J and I are at my parents, staying overnight and then taking my mom back with us in the morning. Sheś coming for some follow up doctors appointments because for over 7 years she has been without a family physician in her town. So we have been doing this jaunt (3 hours each way) a lot lately because she also doesn't drive.

Usually I bring both boys and I will say honestly that it is not exactly an enjoyable or relaxing experience. C tries hard but he is out of his element. Anytime we are away from home his anxiety shoots through the roof, add to that his excitement to hang out and play with his two cousins (and his ONLY cousins) that live 2 streets over from my parents and he is a ball of pure energy. He is getting better, rarely does anyone get hurt anymore. But I have to be on the ball, constantly nearby, ready to intervene when his OCD and the need for things to be ¨just right¨ threatens to turn physical.

This time, C decided not to come. He hasn´t been sleeping as well as we lead up to school and his OCD is in overdrive. I was so proud (and shocked) when I suggested he might want to stay home with Dad and he answered"yeah, I think thatś a good idea¨. More importantly, this morning as we got ready to leave he STILL thought it was a good idea not to come. I really thought he would have changed his mind.

So off J and I went. I got to listen to J ask Äre we there yet?" over and over and the best was ¨Mom, can you pull over? I´m a little tired of you driving and I want to rest¨. Once we got here all was good. He was embraced by his cousins, 7 &11, and basically I haven´t seen him since. I almost don´t know what to do with myself. How do other parents do it?

The best part? Heś going to have a sleepover with his cousins at their house (usually because of C´s needs we end up with all the kids wherever we are). He is soooo excited and I am happy he has them all to himself for once. They are all playing so nicely and they even made him a wagon to pull his stuffed monkey out of cardboard and other craft supplies. oooooh, crafty kids - I don´t have any of those either!

Itś all good

p.s. sorry for weird punctuation, there´s obviously something wrong with parents keyboard

Friday, August 29, 2008

You Love Me, You Really Love Me!

Mady at Sandwiched Genes was kind enough to tip me off that Mommy Dearest over at The Quirk Factor has bestowed this honour on me.

I am so honoured, my very first blogger award. Of course, this means people are actually reading this stuff and there was something to be said for thinking no one would read my drivel, it felt freeing. Then again, I also would check my blog several times a day hoping someone would leave a comment - disappointed over and over when it didn't happen. A comment made my heart soar. So who am I kidding? I write these because I want people to read them. I don't expect you all to love me but it sure does make my day when someone does.

The rules of the award are:

1. The winner can put the logo on their blog.

2. Link the person you received your award from.

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

4. Put links of those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated.

This could be hard, especially since most of the blogs I read I discovered via Mommy Dearests blog and she has already given them the award. The Quirk Factor was the second blog I ever read, having linked there from MOM-NOS. I love both of their writing styles and feel a sense of camaraderie as we all raise our boys in this complex world.

After much agonizing and searching here are the seven I am awarding:

1. Gretchen's Blog - I find myself thinking about Gretchen and her family even when I am not at the computer. She writes so openly about some of her struggles and she is so accepting of who all of her children are. I also love her comment about these mom's who can do "everything".

2. Kristina at From here to There and Back - a fabulous writer who's insight into her son and what he needs is heartwarming. She is working on a book and I, for one, cannot wait to read it one day.

3. Kyra at This Mom - aside from loving to read about parenting her son Fluffy, is it geeky for me to admit that I love her candor (read: swearing)? I am always so cautious about things like that in my own life and blog, I love that she lets loose and tells it like it is.

4. Bea at Bub and Pie - for so many reasons above and beyond her writing. Partially because she is also from Southwestern Ontario, it's nice to read and understand some one's references so completely. Also because I admire her decorating skills! There's also the fact that her kids sound so sweet!

5. Drama Mama at Like A Shark for dishing it like it is, keeping it real and keeping me in tears of laughter.

6. Renee at Life with My Special K's - she has 4 young children (very cute kids), one with Leukemia and Down Syndrome, AND her husband is in the military AND she keeps up with her blog - need I say more?

7. MOM-NOS - She probably has tons of these awards but I just have to, she started this obsession for me. I learn from her thoughtful posts and sometimes what she doesn't post teaches me just as much if not more. Her posts are thoughtful and respectful of her son and what he might not want shared with the cyber world.

If you haven't already, head on over and check them all out. Word to the wise, make sure you have lots of time as quality posts are a plenty.

There - all done! Who knew accolades could bring on so much work.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Road to Independence

Lots of other bloggers are posting about school preparations and trepidations. I have been doing what I do best - living in the world of denial. I did the bare necessity of school shopping a few weeks ago and I called the school to make sure my youngest actually starts Kindergarten the first day of school (some schools have staggered start for Kindergarten). Other than that I have tried not to think about it.

If I do I start to have pains in my chest. Funny thing about nagging worries, even when you are not actively worried they sneak up on you, start to affect you. I have been having more migraines the past week or so and I have drank a lot of Pepto. If anyone brings it up though I act confident and nonchalant about the plan for this year for C.

He is going into Grade 5 (a whole issue all on its own - for me that is) and will be on the "other" side of the school - out of the primary wing. He will have a teacher he has never met before. The EA he had the past 3 years was supposed to have moved to a new school this year. He is anxious and worried about her. I found out last week he will also have a new Learning Support teacher and today I found out he will have a new French teacher.

Today we visited his classroom and met his teacher. She seems very nice and I am very optimistic about his year in her class (more on that later). The principal came by to tell me she still doesn't know who one of his EA's will be but the afternoon one will be an EA that has been at the school for years but never been C.'s EA other than to fill in at times. What I am really concerned about is that we are back to the school pushing for C. to have 2 EA's (one a.m., one p.m.) because they are worried he is becoming too dependant. People PLEASE! How many times do we have to go over this? We have been down this road several times before, with the same Principal! I love this woman but why oh why does she think this will work? And why would we do it now when his anxiety is so high, his OCD is in high gear and there are so many new things and people to adjust to? Doesn't she know the saying - the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Here is part of the letter I wrote and emailed her today (I'll spare you the whole diatribe):

I wholeheartedly respect that you view C. as an individual with so much potential for independence. Thank you for that. I understand that you are of the opinion that too strong of a bond with one EA is hindering C's independence.

My view is that in previous years when he has only had one EA all day, that individual was able to build the required safe, trusting and successful relationship with C. By building this relationship it allowed him to feel secure, successful and independence could then flow from that. Last year when C. went back to having one EA towards the end of the school year, his grade 4 teacher made concerted effort to encourage C.'s independence and build his self esteem. I still remember the day she called me to tell me how wonderful he was doing, he was managing his emotions so much better and he was doing things like walking to the bathroom on his own and returning to class safely and appropriately. That was because he felt safe and secure. For C, as with any child really but just magnified in C's situation, he needs to feel safe before he can be more independent.

I would put forth that there are indeed other ways to increase C's independence. For example, having the EA give C less verbal instruction (possibly having a book with a visual schedule inside that would show C step by step what to do next); sending him on short errands to the office; having him help a teacher other than his own with a task; and so on. I believe that by linking him with more of the school community on a very brief, situation specific scale we could gradually increase his success which in turn would increase his self esteem and independence.

In all of this though, we must keep in mind that C has very real and quantifiable challenges that might preclude complete independence free from any additional support from an EA. As his parents we would love to see small, incremental steps taken toward setting him up for success. However, given his needs, I don't think we should view his collaboration with an EA as a dependency but rather as an adaptive accommodation - it is just one piece of the puzzle in making him successful and supporting his learning at school.

I very much want this to be a year of continued growth and independence for C. I've written about it before on here and I have had ongoing conversations with the school. As I told the Principal though, we have differing views on the road to get there. I have no doubt she will join me on my road soon but I left that part out when I spoke with her :-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walk the Walk

For the most part I think I am a fairly rational person. I like to mull things over, ruminate for a while before I comment or commit to something. I am usually afraid to offend someone or overstep my bounds. I am all too aware that words, once spoken, can not be taken back. However, for quite some time I have been mindful of the fact that there are those situations where I really should speak up. Those times whereby my silence would be taken as implicit approval or agreement. If I don't speak up I spend days replaying it in my mind, quick come backs coming to me now - when it is too late to say or do anything. For the past several months I have begun to hold myself accountable, forcing myself to speak up no matter how uncomfortable I am. No matter how much my voice wavers and my hands shake. Funny thing is, this only happens when I feel I have to state my feelings, defend my point of view. If I am "defending" the honour or rights of someone else I don't seem to have the same difficulty.

Yesterday I attended an educators conference. I am not an educator. I gained admittance by being on a task force that was partnering with a school board for an. The head of the task force had mentioned that our members could attend, for free, the daytime symposiums for the educators. I figured, free information, why not? At the very least I could use some of what I learned when doing my advocacy work with families trying to navigate the education system. I signed up for an all day learning opportunity about children with ADHD - which was to include practical tips for accommodations in the classroom. GREAT!

Once there I seriously began to reconsider my decision when in her opening words the presenter, an educator and self proclaimed parent of a "difficult kid", referred to "these kids" as "PIA's" (pronounced "pee-ah's"). Hmmm, that was an acronym I had not heard before. Maybe you all are more worldly than I am, it stands for "Pain in the Ass". My blood began to boil as this woman moved into discussion about how important it is for teachers to establish clear "community agreements" within their classroom from the very first day. Stressed in all of this are the terms such as "attentive listening", "right to pass" and "mutual respect". Hmmmm, has this woman lost it? Here she is trying to reach these teachers and enlighten them about building a community within the classroom so that every student feels safe and supported and will not be ridiculed by teacher or peer. But what, it's ok to have a bad day and walk around calling one of "these difficult kids", a kid like mine (cause believe me, he can have VERY difficult days) a PAIN IN THE ASS?

So I admit - I stewed for a while. I saw glimmers of hope - she was REALLY challenging these educators on how easy it is to make accommodations. It was obvious she was an experienced and knowledgeable educator. There was some great discussion and dialogue going on amongst the teachers and support staff about how to make accommodations work in the classroom and on taking ownership for making inclusion work. Wonderful ideas and strategies were flowing. As a parent and advocate it was wonderful to witness and I began to relax. I began to think that perhaps her proclamations of "PIA" were all about hooking her audience while she lead them to why no kid should be referred to in this way. Just maybe she was purposefully empathizing with them, joining them in the trenches, and then she was going to lead them to a whole new respectful place where we don't make derogatory remarks about students.

We broke for a lunch break and I shared the situation with a few of my fellow task force members who had come for the lunch time speaker. From their reactions I could only conclude that I was not overreacting - how could I try to convince myself this was something innocent just to avoid having to confront it? I couldn't. I walked back for the afternoon session knowing I would need to address it if she didn't somehow backpedal and right this wrong. When I realized the other speaker would be doing the entire afternoon address I began to doubt my plan to confront the issue. However, when this woman stood up to interject another reference to "PIA's" , I locked in my resolve to address the issue.

When the day came to an end, I waited for an opportunity to get this woman alone. I knew that making this public was not appropriate. I started out telling her what I did like about the day, I really wanted her to know that I was not just some disgruntled parent. I really wanted her to hear my words and deeply understand why it is not ok to call our children, especially her own child, a pain in the ass in a room full of people. I pointed out that it seemed highly hypocritical to stress community agreements of safety and mutual respect and then violate children's rights in such a way. She tried to explain her reasoning, which indeed did include trying to let the teachers know she has been in their shoes. I did not back down. Yes, I said, you have been in their shoes and I would hope that being in this position today that you would have shown them how to walk the walk of compassionate, skilled and rational teachers, not people who would use those shoes to beat up the children who so desperately need help and understanding.

We all need to walk the walk, including me. Which includes not only choosing to use respectful words when speaking of others but speaking up when someone is disrespecting others.

Edited to Add: I would be remiss to not mention that this woman did say that she was glad I came and talked to her and that she did understand what I was trying to convey. I have hope that she will choose her words and terms more carefully.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

These Three Years

Dear J
I know you think you are a big boy, and you are getting bigger but you will always be my baby boy. I cannot believe that it has been three years since you came home to us, your forever family. We are so thankful to all those who came before us and cared for you until it was our time to be your mom and dad and big brother. I laugh every time I remember back to our first meeting - you sitting in your highchair eating, food all over your face. You looked so wary of us - but within thirty minutes you were climbing all over A., a man you had no way of comprehending was going to be your dad - forever and always.

You have filled our lives with so much laughter and a few tears, mostly from all the laughing but from pride as well. When you laugh, that deep belly laugh, I cannot help but join in. That probably explains why you get away with so much - how can I scold you when I'm too busy laughing? You are so outgoing, saying "Hi" to every person you meet and making conversation with various customer service people every stop we make. You fill this house with noise and activity from the moment your feet hit the ground every morning (EARLY every morning).

You are such a good little brother - doing your share of revering your brother one minute and making sure to annoy him the next. You are so desperate to do the things your big brother can do and every day you dare to dream that you have magically grown and closed the five year age difference between you two over night. Such an imagination you have! Music is your "thing" right now and while your father and I hope you maintain your desire, we will pray that your Elaine way of dancing is just a phase.

When I look at you I cannot believe how quickly the time is passing and how old you are getting. I am trying hard to put the work aside and just spend time experiencing and enjoying life with you - there is so much you can teach me, especially about living in the moment. I promise I will try harder to embrace your energetic spirit and to be more patient as you crash and tumble your way through life. Believe me when I tell you I have a hard time remembering what life was like before you came and I hope to never experience it without you again.

We love you J., Happy Gotcha Day

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Open Apology to Kirk

Dear Kirk

I am sorry that I did not stick up for you more in the first grade
I am sorry that I didn't ask you to come to my house to play
I am sorry that you didn't get to live with a forever family
I am sorry that the kids at school were so horrible to you
I am sorry that they called you "Kirk the Jerk"
I am sorry that I do not remember your last name

If I could have it all to do over
. . . I would have played with you at recess when no one would, EVERY day, not just sometimes
. . . I wouldn't have let go of your hand when we were walking home and other kids were coming
. . . I would have shared my Jos Louis with you on the field trip and sat with you on the bus
. . . I would have been your best friend

I am glad that I kicked those boys HARD with my Cougar boots that day they were bullying you after school. I wish that there wouldn't have been a need for anyone to have to protect you - I wish people could have been nice to you and that grown ups would have made the world a safer place for you.

I think of you often. I feel much shame and sadness for the things that never were and all that should not have been. When I watch my son as he struggles so much to fit in, I often think of you. I will do better by him than what was done for you.

I am sorry and I hope life got better. I hope you found someone to sit with on the bus and who would share their lunch with you.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dream a Little Dream

My husband and I used to joke, particularly at the end of a really harrowing day with C, that at least when we became parents he was already sleeping through the night. I think if we had added sleepless nights into the mix with all that was going on - we all would have toppled over and our quest for the elusive happy and adjusted family would have imploded. What I didn't realize at the time was that my own body was already robbing me of sleep. Insidiously and gradually, undiagnosed sleep issues were robbing me of REM that, low and behold, I actually need to function.

I have always snored and I have always fallen asleep at the drop of a hat. Put me in an idling car and I am out like a light. As soon as my head hits the pillow at night I am dead to the world. It drives my husband crazy. What also drives my husband crazy is my snoring and gasping for air. I knew I snored - LOUD! It has been a source of embarrassment for me my entire life. I make jokes about it to defuse my embarrassment as I had been lead to believe as a kid that it was just my cross to bear. But the gasping for air was new for me, or so I thought. I kept meaning to see the doctor about it - I really did. I knew I probably had sleep apnea but instead of taking the time to get it checked out I pushed it to the bottom of my huge to-do list.

I threw myself into being a mom, a wife and working with kids with special needs. Sure I noticed that I was drowning in paperwork that never seemed to get done, that the housework was largely left undone for days at a time (ok, weeks) (OK! months). So I went to my doctor - secretly convinced that I had some horrific disease that was robbing me of my energy and that I was going to die. Funny how I didn't think to tell my doctor that I snored or that I thought I might have sleep apnea. All the bloodwork and tests came back negative. So I joined a gym, convinced I was just lazy. I dragged myself there for several weeks, wondering when I was going to start getting that endorphin rush I remembered from my work out stint in my early 20's. It never came and my work out clothes have been sitting unused in a bag for a VERY long time.

Early in the New Year my hubby threatened divorce if I didn't do something. Then I started waking up with a bad headache, often a migraine, every morning. I was waking up everyday feeling like I had a hang over, with none of the fun benefits the night before. I went to the doctor and he immediately made a referral to the sleep clinic. I know many people who put off going for a sleep test because they don't want to wear the "fighter pilot" mask if they have sleep apnea. I put it off because invariably when I think I have a "simple" issue it blows up in my face (all stories for a different post).

I went to the sleep clinic in late June. It was . . . interesting. You would think a sleep clinic would have sound proof rooms. I am sure my snoring kept the light sleepers awake and the conversations between the insomniacs and staff jostled me repeatedly. The best though was the guy in the room beside mine, we shared a bathroom. Dude, if you are reading this - I don't think you have sleep issues - I think you need to go to a urologist and cut down on your fluid intake. Every hour on the hour the guy was in there peeing like a race horse. So NOT the sound I really want to be woken up with. Anyhow - I made it through that night and woke up with a killer headache which lead me to believe I had "performed" exhaustively that night.

3 LONG weeks later I get a call from the sleep clinic. A nurse there wanted me to call back and get my results over the phone. I figure anytime a doctor gives results over the phone it means that nothing is wrong. WRONG!!!! Turns out I have Central Sleep Apnea, not the Obstructive Sleep Apnea that the majority of people with apnea have. So, my brain forgets to send signals to my muscles to breath. Hmmm, yes that sounds like something I would do. I wake up anywhere from 44 to 88 times on average an hour. No wonder I am tired.

So now I have a CPAP machine that blows air up my nose at night - and yes I look like a fighter pilot. If I talk while I am wearing it I sound like Darth Vader. Very cool according to the kids. People keep asking me if I hate it and saying they could never wear it. Honestly, I would wear or do almost anything at this point if it meant getting a good night sleep and waking up refreshed. Since starting to use it I have had far less headaches in the morning. It is going to be a long road because Central apnea is not as straightforward as the other kind.

Last Friday I went for my second sleep study. It was a horrible night. I kept waking up gasping for breath - which is what the doctor (and my hubby) say that I have always done but this time I was actually conscious of it. It felt like I was suffocating every 30 seconds or so. I thought the night would never end. But then, sometime around 5 a.m., the sleep tech was able to get the pressure at an optimal level for me and I did something I haven't remembered doing (and probably haven't done) for a VERY long time. I dreamt! It was wonderful and after I woke up I had such a longing. This whole sleep issue crept up on me so gradually that I never stopped to realize that the wonderful, powerful, dynamic dreams that I used to have had stopped. I want them back.

We all need to dream don't we?