Monday, November 27, 2006

Reflections of a Birthday Party

Yesterday, Paige went to a birthday party for her friend Macky. Macky turned 8 years old this weekend. He is nearly two years younger than Paige, but because of the way their birthdays fall (school cut-off is December here), and the fact that Paige didn't start school until she was 5 (normally, kids start at 4), they are in the same grade -- Grade 3.

Macky is autistic, and shares most of his day with Paige - They go to the regular grade 3 classroom together, and then are in the Living and Learning Classroom in the afternoon, where they work on life skills.

At Macky's birthday party yesterday, there were 10 children. Macky and one other little boy, Damien, are autistic. Damien is an amazing child to watch. In one aspect, he is very developmentally delayed, and has some very difficult problems to overcome. He doesn't have a wonderful family support system, and he is very far behind socially. When you say to him, "Hi, Damien! How are you today?" He will most likely answer by simply repeating back to you what he has heard. He is not greatly conversational.

However, he is six years old and can read incredibly well. He could read an encyclopedia from front to back. He couldn't put any of it into his own words, but if you were to take a passage and change the words around, he could surely find that.

The mind of a person with autism is immensely fascinating--to try and deciper the thought processes of these kids, and how to "re-fire" their brains to connect in all the right ways must be a very daunting task. I tip my hat to the researchers who are trying to find the answers for people with autism.

Also at the party were 8 "typical" kids from their Grade 3 class. All kids that Macky and Paige have been in school with for the last 5 years.

I never stop being amazed at how much a part of the class Macky and Paige are. The kids all play together, and all have great fun together, and no one seems to even notice the differences. All of them are immensely patient with Paige and Macky, and readily accept their quirkiness as just a part of who they are.

Its a great life lesson that the children who go to school with Macky and Paige have been given -- one that will indeed change the world for them and for their children. They have learned lessons that many of them cannot even fully understand yet; lessons of compassion and acceptance and love.

I have often wondered if this attitude of embracing Paige and Macky would change as the children got older, as the differences became more apparent, and as the kids no longer looked like cute "babies" for the rest of the school to oooooh and ahhhh over. all relationships that begin with love, it has only grown stronger -- this tie between all of these children. Most of them have never been in a classroom where there wasn't a child with special needs -- they do not see that as unique or different -- they see it simply as it is.

These are all Paige's peers -- the ones who are "typical" and the ones who are not. They are all people who will touch her life in one way or another. They are the people who will stand up and cheer for her when she accomplishes a new task, and the ones who will patiently wait while she tries the same task over again.

That, to me, is what true inclusion is. Its not about insisting that she sit in a classroom of kids her own age to give the appearance of inclusion. Its about letting her be the included one sometimes, and letting her be the one to include at other times. Its that balance that makes it successful.

I often think abou this when I read about families having problems with integration or schools that are not cooperating to actively educate all children.

What better "resource" than to have a child with Autism or Down syndrome, or any other physical or developmental delay in the classroom?

In a world where it is critical that we teach very important life lessons very early on, any school system that would not embrace this opportunity should not be educating anyone.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm Decorating!

I'm trying to make it look like Christmas around here, in case you were wondering :)

We are very excited about the Christmas season in our house this year. We have decided to make this a "Memory Christmas."

Like many of us, I am so struck by the commercialization of our Christmas season, and like many of us, I have bought into it since my children have been born.

This year, it seems almost sinful to indulge ourselves in our every whim. I was at the Mall yesterday, and it was crazy how much *stuff* people are buying.

When did we get to the "here's a very expensive present, see how much I love you?" part of our lives?

Christmas is a happy, yet melancholy time for me, as I'm reminded of all the people who will do without; of all the children who will not feel joy during this season, and of all the parents who's hearts will be broken because they cannot provide for their kids on Christmas morning.

And yet, in the end, very, very few of my best Christmas memories have anything to do with gifts. Even my children could not recall what their gifts have been with great accuracy -- some stand out for Dakotah, but not many.

So...this year, we are building our family a Christmas to remember. And one of the ways we are going to do that is to take the concentration off gifts.

Its not easy to do; some people whom I've told about this plan raise an eyebrow at me, and think I should be able to pull off my "game plan" AND fill my tree with gifts for my children.

I don't think so. They are well provided for; we have many luxuries, and if we get passed the "what I want for Christmas" thing, we will find great joy in each other.

This year, our gift to our children will be the gift of time and love. We will trade the "Christmas rush" in for time spent with them. We will make homemade Christmas cards, and decorations for the tree, and go out in the woods and chop that tree right down, just the 4 of us. We will bake and give to neighors, teachers, and friends. We will adopt a family, and grocery shop for them for a week, and provide gifts to their children. We will sing Christmas songs and look at lights.

And along the way, we will talk about our favourite Christmas memories. Wayne and I will tell stories of our childhood Christmases, and tell our children over and over and over again how much we adore them.

We will remind them of Our Saviour, who was born during this season, and how grateful we are to Him for everything.

And...we will document our entire journey, with pictures, stories, etc., that we will put into a big family scrapbook.

Yes, there will be stockings filled, and a few presents under the tree Christmas morning, but the most special gift of all will be that scrapbook that we have made together...a precious, precious keepsake of this wonderful time in our lives.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Half full - Half empty -- you be the judge!

Bad news: I posted earlier, our car died. What a big, fat pain it was trying to function in a one-car world. We are two people who both live a "need to be in two places at once" world, and having one car to do that was very stressful and annoying.

Good news:
We bought a new car - a kinda rustish coloured Pontiac Sunfire. Its cute, and fun to drive. Its a lot smaller than driving ...yes...I admit it...a mini-van.

So, now we play rock, paper, scissors to see who gets the van and who gets the car, lol.

Bad News:
Last Saturday night, we were shopping in Ottawa. It was cold and pouring rain. Paige has severe arthritis, and was very lame that day. So, we used our handicapped placard to go into the store. We never use this thing...but she really needed it that night.

We come out of the store, and there's a ticket for $300 on our car for parking in a handicapped spot without a placard. WHAT?!?! On the ticket, it says that we must appear in court in order to fight the ticket. Ugh...its an hour away, and will mean someone taking time off work, etc.

Good News:
I called the city bylaw people right away, and told them I would wait there with Paige for the bylaw officer to come back--so that he could see we had both the placard and Paige with us. About 8 calls later, we (I hope) have had the ticket cancelled without having to go back to Ottawa.

Bad News:
Wayne was refused entry in the US yesterday. We were going to NH to a baby shower for my niece. As we went through customs, the guy asked a ton of questions, including, "Have you ever been fingerprinted?" Both of us replied yes...I had been fingerprinted in the early 80's when my company hosted the Presidential Debates in Manchester. I had to have FBI security clearance to be able to participate.

Wayne was fingerprinted when he was 18 -- he was in a bar with a bunch of friends from University -- drinking underage. It was raided by the police and they were all taken in and fingerprinted. No one was charged with anything.

Well...apparently, because he did something "illegal," he now has to get a waiver that cost $400 and requires an insane amount of paperwork -- documentation from employers, letters from the RCMP (Canadian Police), letters of character,etc. takes 6 months for this to go through.

Unbelievable...he has been to NH 4 or 5 times a year for 20 years...even got married there, and now this silliness.

He has a spotless record--not even a speeding ticket!

There were about 25 people denied entry yesterday as we sat there -- we were told that this particular customs spot had been selected to basically rip everyone apart...that they do these randomly, and when it happens, its utter chaos at those stations.

One guy who was denied was going to a family reunion, and was the entertainment there. Because he gets paid as a part-time musician here, he was told that he was stealing an American's job (even though he was going to play French Canadian music!), and because of that, he has been denied entry for the next 5 years. Crazy stuff.

Good News:
Well...I guess the good news is that Wayne was not detained, other than the couple of hours there, and when we crossed the Canadian border, I was not hassled as an American.

Settling Down

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Well -- we promised "in sickness and in health" and God has decided to put us to the challenge.

I've been battling some pretty funky gynecological problems in the last few months, and have spent as much time in my OB/GYN's office than I did when I was pregnant for Paige. I have felt very "unwell" for months now -- freezing cold all the time, getting waves of exhaustion that I cannot even describe, horrible menstrual irregularities, etc.

Hopefully what I'm dealing with is PCOS and a rather large fibroid tumour that is causing lots of very unpleasant side effects. I expect biopsy results back in the next few days.

Paige had ear tube removal two weeks ago, and caught a nasty sinus infection afterward. She still has this icky rash on her face that I cannot conquer. And Thursday, she came home with pink eye, that she lovingly passed on to me.

Our 2nd car died a final death this week, and although it served us well, its another thing we have to think about this weekend.

And, after so much teasing and begging, and threatening, and cajoling, Wayne finally went and had some much needed bloodwork done this week.

He has had high blood pressure since he was 30 - and has a very strong history of diabetes in his family.

He also hates needles, and has a horribly irrational fear of having blood drawn. Year after year, he has put it off, after lectures from his doctor and me.

Well, I've seen him really change over the last 6-9 months especially, and I wasn't having anymore denial.

Without going into the drama of having this test done, including two trips to the hospital, me basically calling in the Army to hold him down, etc., he relented yesterday morning, and had a two hour glucose test done.

As I arrived in the door from work, the phone was ringing. Normal fasting blood glucose is between 2 and 4 - Wayne's was 29. We were told anything over 14 is cause for concern for a diabetic coma.

So...we begin.

He's pretty ticked off at me right now -- of course, if I hadn't pushed it, he could still be ignoring this. It will take him a few days to realize we probably just saved his life.

He has to test 3 times a day now, for the rest of his life. Medications have been added and changed, and our pharmacy bill last night was nearly $500. He is having none of it -- won't read about diabetes, isn't wanting to learn about what he will do to keep healthy, wouldn't go to the crash course on using the meter, etc.

But, he will learn. He has to. He has no choice now. He does not have the choice to let himself die - its not fair to me, to his children, his parents.

  His "if I ignore it, it will go away" policy has also been instituted on me over the last months, and my feelings are terribly hurt that he acts so apathetic to the reality that I have some challenges as well.

I pray that he gets on top of this. And I also pray that when the shock is less, that he will understand my passion for forcing him to do this bloodwork this week was done out of love for him.

I pray that he decides to find strength in me when he needs it, and that he offers it back to me when I do.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy November 1st!

Paige had her best Halloween ever last night. She was dressed as a little Pioneer girl, but everyone kept saying, "oh, look at the little Dutch girl."

O.K. -- so maybe her bonnet was just a tiny bit pointy. Whatever, people.

She hung in there for 3 hours with big sister, dressed as a hippy, tugging her along. She walked so much, and went up and down so many steps that I'm sure her little hips were screaming to stop by the end of the night.

I've never been a huge fan of trick or treating...I can't ever shake the feeling of knocking on someone's door and asking for something, lol. And I'm not a lover of excess, so this really takes the cake in that department.

But Wayne love, love, loves Halloween, and its become his night with the girls more than mine. Neither of the kids are big candy lovers either, so we always end up with so much that is wasted.

At any rate, they had fun, which I guess is what its all about.

Highlights of the night include going to the Sisters' House -- they adore Paige and brought our family in for a short prayer before handing out candy and sending us on our way.

Paige's old Physio Therapist was totally bald, and she loved rubbing his head when she was much so that I'd be like, "Ok, enough already!!!"

Well...we go to the house of the jeweler in town. He happens to be a dwarf, and is a bit shorter than Paige. He is also totally bald.

You guessed it...Paige grabbed a hold of him, and pulled him in for a big hug, and started rubbing his head, "awwwwwwwww...." It was sooooo funny!!!!

Wayne knows him well, and he took it all in stride, but it was totally hilarious.


After we got home and got everyone finally tucked into bed, I dove into my November challenge...the write a Novel in November Challenge that I talked about earlier.

So...approximately 2,119 words later...I'm in.

I decided not to write about our life, and Paige's journey, as I want to be respectful of that, and give it the time and attention it needs.

Instead, I'm just going to write a goofy story that is basically evolving as I write. I'm going to use the basic setting of my relationship with Wayne, but the characters are going to embrace the worst of our characteristics, and will never beexactly happy or content.

Some of the events will be relatively true, and some will be crazy and completely made up.

I'm previewing the first night of ramblings if anyone wants to read it...but after that, you might just have to wait.

If you want to see it, e-mail me ( leave your e-mail address in the comments, and I'll send it along.

I can tell you...the crazy story about the female main character meeting her somewhat identical twin sister in the form of a boyfriend's wife actually DID happen to me...very strange indeed!!