Category Archives: gratitude

The Unicorn


A mythical creature.

A story passed down.

Often describes things that we cannot fathom or dream of.

Things that are outside of our scope of experience.

For example our eldest son’s new school.

I got a call this week asking if I could come in for a meeting. “Of course!” I said, hoping that our honeymoon period wasn’t over yet. When I signed in at the office the principal came out of his office to say “Hi.” and ask how things were going. He seemed genuinely happy when I said that I was thrilled that our son was making friends and choosing to hang out with them outside in the school yard rather than reading in the library or office. Not only did he not think it was weird when I said that alone made our year a success for me, he agreed!

The SERT met me in the office, and together we went upstairs, chatting along the way. Our son was again offered an opportunity to join us but chose to take the bus home with his classmates! Anyone who knows an aspie realizes just how big a step this is. Oh and did I mention that instead of sitting near the driver, he chooses to sit at the back.

With the other grade 8’s.

Because that’s what grade 8’s do.

The meeting consisted of two teachers, an EA and the SERT.

And you know what? There were no major issues. Just some questions about how to handle certain situations. All asked in a “What do you suggest we do/try?” tone of voice.

I made sure to repeatedly tell them how thrilled I was. That they can feel free to contact us at any time. That being proactive like this can only ensure his success. That for the first time he is coming home talking about his day.

And most importantly, he is happy.

I sat in my van afterwards and realized that I no longer had to hold back the tears.

I’m so glad that we made the difficult decision to transfer him. That the school we chose is that rare mythical creature that actually encourages and supports him.

If only every Autistic child had that opportunity…

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I Never Expected this to Happen in the Schoolyard

I rarely go into the school yard any more. Haven’t for a couple of years. The two older kids are “too old” for mom to hang around with the other moms in the yard. “Too old” to be seen hugging and kissing me.

I have carefully respected these feelings. When I walk them to school, I stop at the crossing guard, watch them across the street, then continue on my walk. We created a signal (fist bump and hand clap) to represent hug and kiss.

The two weeks though, the street their school is on has been plagued by heavy construction as curbs are replaced and parts are resurfaced so we have been taking an alternate route to school. It leads me though away from the lake where I like to walk our dog and baby each morning. So I have been walking around the back of the school yard to a bike path on the other side which gets me around the construction and out to my typical walking area.

Walking through that yard brings back quite a bit of nostalgia. Watching the little kids in Kindergarten, the slightly bigger kids lining up to go into the primary grades, the hovering parents standing in clumps waiting to make sure their little one gets into the school safely.

I don’t know why it causes so much nostalgia, I mean I know I’ll be back there again in a few short years. But by then the older two will both be in high school (even the thought of that takes my breath away– weren’t they just in kindergarten yesterday?)

Yesterday morning we were running a little later than usual and I barely got a chance to fist bump them as they ran to get in the doors. A mom walking back up towards the street looked at me, indicated my eldest and said “He’s yours?”

“Yes.” I said a bit warily, dreading what I was about to hear.

“I just wanted to tell you that your son is amazing. I know he’s had a rough year and that no one has said that to you. But he’s really great.”

I think I said “Thank you.” I certainly hope I did. Who was this woman? And what has she done with the typical way people avoid talking about him.

We ended up chatting for about twenty minutes or so. It turns out that she is a lunch supervisor and has gotten to know my son that way.

What she doesn’t know is that those lunch hours when she chatted with him, that she was providing much needed social interaction for him. The kind that many parents avoid with him. The kind that you can’t force people to do.

When I told my son about her and her compliment, he got a HUGE smile and said “She’s nice. I like her.”

And for me? That woman showed me that even in the wrong school, the right people can still be there. That someone saw our son for who he really is. Not for what his challenges are.

She made my day. No. She just made the rough year fade back a bit. And for that I am grateful.

Chance Encounters

Last week when I was driving our daughter to dance we saw this license plate:

Chance Encounters-spreading positivity to strangers. (Disclaimer-I did not take this photo while driving, my passenger took it)

Chance Encounters-spreading positivity to strangers. (Disclaimer-I did not take this photo while driving, my passenger took it)

And it prompted us to talk about the fact that vanity plates are often about being vain, yet this person chose to spread positivity to complete strangers wherever they drive.

And then it got me talking about Chance Encounters which I learned about 11 or 12 years ago when I attended a conference hosted by Toastmasters. Each session was with a person embarking upon a career as a motivational speaker.

The session I remember most vividly (actually the only session I remember) was about Chance Encounters.

The speaker (If you know who he is please contact me as I would like to give credit where it is due) spoke of the concept that every choice we make in life affects someone one else. And he called these choices Chance Encounters.

For example, a driver cuts you off in traffic and you respond with a hand signal and some choice words. You then go on about your day. But this driver knew he made a mistake and tried to say sorry to you. He just got fired today and yesterday his wife left him. No one, not even random strangers (you) can’t stand him. What’s the point in living when no one thinks anything of you? When he’s driving over the bridge, he takes a sharp right and drives into the river.

Take the same circumstance, the same driver with the same crappy day. He cuts you off. And he tries to mouth “sorry” to you. You nod your head, acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes. You continue on your way not realizing that you just showed him that strangers can be kind and that life is worth living.

It’s a pretty dramatic example and of course not every situation will lead to such an awful outcome. The point though is that everything we choose to do from hitting our snooze button to letting a driver in to going to bed early has the potential to have an impact on other people. And most often we will never know the implications of that impact.

Every Chance Encounter/choice we make is an opportunity. We can choose to be positive and forgiving or we can choose to be negative and spread misery.

And this driver ahead of us chose to make our day a little brighter 🙂

Best 2 U

I did it! #bikinibodymommy 90 day challenge

Back in January, I was ready for a change. I was unhappy with the weight I had hung onto after my third pregnancy, and wanted to do something about it.

I was looking at options, and while I know I would have had results with an aggressive program, I also knew that sticking to it and more importantly, enjoying it would be very difficult for me.

I blogged about my visions for the year here.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to choose when a friend posted on Facebook about the Bikini Body Mommy Challenge. I read about it and quickly decided it was for me.

The premise is quite simple: strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while cardio is on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All of it can be done at home with simple equipment (timer, mat and 10lb weights.) And usually the workout is around 20 minutes. Oh and did I mention that it’s free?

There is an optional meal plan as well for a small monthly fee. I tried it, and used several of the recipes but found I’m not very good at being told what to eat each day, so used it as inspiration instead.

The first six weeks or so were amazingly successful and I saw results quickly. However, I found that the six day a week program was very hard for me to maintain when our toddler was cutting his molars and up half the night or when I got sick or for many other reasons.

I chose though to make the 90 days really about 90 days straight through. So at the end of a week, whatever I missed was missed, with no going back and starting where I left off.

Eventually I settled into a routine of about four days a week and I’m quite happy with that. Honestly anything I do is better than sitting on the couch, but now that I’m into the routine I find that I miss working out on days that I don’t.

The last week of the challenge was really sad for me. I got hit with that nasty cold going around and only worked out on the Monday, not feeling up to it at all the rest of the week.

However I have some amazing results that I want to share:

-I lost a full 10 lbs.

And some of my measurements are incredible:
-I lost 4 1/2″ off of my hips
-4″ off my bust
-3 5/8″ off of my chest and
-3 1/4″ off of my waist!
-arms were about 1″ and thighs 1 1/2″

I’m thrilled! And I plan to keep up with it. There is a transition program to keep going until the next set of videos is posted starting May 5.

I’m happy that I have been keeping up with my vision for this year and when May 5 rolls around I will be up bright and early that day 🙂

The magic of pictures

Each year, as part of our Christmas decorating, I pull out the file that holds all of the Santa pictures. I display them on the bookshelf in our “library” for all to see.

They start with our first born, wearing a beautiful sweater my aunt knit and mailed to me. It arrived the very day I was going to take him for his first picture. Santa was a Saint Nicholas, with long robes, a real beard and a magic touch with children. At 8 months old, his huge grin seems to take up the whole picture.

Our daughter’s first pic is of a two month old with a dubious look on her face, and this year baby looks very serious, having taken a good long look at the man upon whose lap he was sitting.

My very favorite of the pictures though is one we took of the kids three years ago. It was shortly after the picture was taken, while we were waiting for it to be printed and they were sitting on a mall bench. Mr. Eldest has one knee raised, with his arm casually leaning on it. His hair is brushed and gleaming, and his eyes are clear. Most importantly he is looking at the camera, and his face is perfectly relaxed and calm.

It’s not an expression we see often on his face. He doesn’t often look directly at anyone, and I can’t recall seeing such a peaceful expression from him.

It might have been one of those fleeting expressions that are so often caught on camera, but I prefer to think that it was my son having one of those awesome days where he is truly shining through.

I have recorded many of our challenges here, and yes they are still ongoing in varying degrees. We are working with many people, to differing degrees of success.

Today though I wanted to share with my readers a positive experience. A warm and fuzzy memory that causes a thrill each year when I unpack that file and put up the pictures. It doesn’t matter that the holiday is over, or that I’ve packed the pictures away. Stored separately from the decorations, I might occasionally, on a dark day, sneak a peak at the pics so that I can see that serene expression and know that yes everyone in our home can find their peace.

Visions and Processes

Finally, my 11 month old has settled down for a nap that he fought for hours, and I have a few moments to compose my swirling thoughts into written words.

I wasn’t going to do a New Year’s resolution post, but I do have a vision of how I want 2014 to be, and I know that I will commit to it better if I actually put it here for everyone to see.

2014 has to be better than last year. 2013 started off with all the promise of a huge year for us. Our youngest was born at the beginning of February (in a rush too, coming in only 45 minutes!) and we were looking forward to a year of firsts. What we hadn’t expected was our first experience with complete tongue tie, then a deadly infection that hospitalized him for two weeks, then just a couple of weeks later, hospitalized him again. Then a bought of pneumonia in early July, and repeated colds and bronchitis. So strange in our family to be so sick and so horribly traumatizing to see your newborn subjected to medical interventions and a hospital stay, even though I never left him. (I haven’t stayed in a hospital since I was 5, and all three children were born at home.)

Our road trip to the east coast was postponed as we were too afraid to be away from our children’s hospital if he got sick again.

Our eldest, the one with autism, had a major regression that we are still puzzling over. Yes some of it may be due to the baby (even though our specialist says no) and likely some of it is due to the onset of puberty, but wow, it caught us off-guard and we are struggling with teachers and administration that have forgotten all the skills that we worked so hard to teach them five years ago.

We lost some people very dear to us too, within 8 days of each other, and our children got to experience their first funeral. I was hoping that they would have been much older for that particular rite of passage.

I closed a business that I had put my heart and soul into, but was burned out from.

To top it all off, we had the big ice storm, and while our home fared quite well, it caused some big stresses in unexpected places.

So 2013, I’m not sorry to see you go AND that is the end of my complaining about it.

2014, welcome to our lives. We have much work to do together you and I.

First, thanks to this insightful post I’m changing my language. I am removing the word “busy” from my stock answers when people ask me how things are going. I will answer with the truth and not an excuse.

And this post inspired me to refrain from making huge goals this year, but to instead create a process that I work on consistently. I will achieve more, feel successful on a daily basis and surprise myself when all my hopes are met.

This year’s processes include:
-Writing. Daily. Stop depending on my part-time job for time for meaningful writing and instead use that for bonus writing time.
-Attendance. Writing groups, and classes. I’ve already signed up for our local writer’s group monthly breakfast this weekend.
-Activity. Keep walking, keep doing exercises. Investigate and choose another class.
-Eating. Continue to enjoy food, just with more moderation and balance.
-Gratitude. Practise it daily.
-Sell. Articles. As many as I can write. Especially from our road trip this summer.

Looking at that list gives me satisfaction. Those are doable, achievable practises that will give me great pleasure. (and hopefully earn some money too).

Anyone else out there working on processes over crazy goals?

The reason I don’t win anything

This past weekend I was doing what all competitive team parents must do at some point:
The Pub Night.
I know some people really enjoy it, and honestly it wasn’t bad at all–the company was fun!

It was also the first snowfall of the season that day and it kept a lot of people home. (Why do the forecasters always create so much drama over the potential maybe’s of a storm and basically shut the town down for a couple of cm?)

So it was quieter than we had expected and the bids on our silent auction items weren’t quite as vigorous as we’d hoped.

We were joking that with the lack of bids we would all end up going home with something, and I turned to my friend beside me and said that it wouldn’t matter, because I never really win anything.

She said to me that she never did either and that was ok. Because we have everything that we need in our lives, so we don’t need to win anything

Well. Um. Yeah.

So instead of complaining any further about it, I changed my view. I have everything I could possibly want. Three awesome children, an incredible husband, a silly dog, a four bedroom home, a van (yes I’m even grateful for the van!), and wonderful in-laws. Who could honestly ask for anything more?

Thank you to my fantastic friend for pointing out the obvious when I obviously needed it.