Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad


Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday.

That just feels weird even typing it. I can’t picture him at 80, I can’t extrapolate how he may have been. You see we lost him when I was 14 and I never had the chance to get to know him as an adult.

Already this is hard to write. Yet I am trying to celebrate his life this year rather than the day of his death. It’s a sentiment that I read somewhere online, probably reposted by someone on Facebook. For weeks I’ve been contemplating it, and all day chewing on my words, what I would say and how I would say it.

He first got sick when I was very young, so I never knew the healthy vibrant man he had been. I knew a loving, caring, hardworking dad, who loved jokes and Saturday night hockey. Yet I used to always dread that one day I would get called out of class to be notified by the principal that he had died. That was the one fear about it all that never came true. He died over the Christmas holidays, packing away our decorations. Understandably I hated Christmas for a while. I really only remembered it’s magic through the eyes of my children.

I admit that over the years I haven’t always remembered his birthday or even the day of his passing–sometimes it was just easier not to mark it. This post is a conscious effort to remember a happy day. Like the time we put 50 candles on his 8″ birthday cake. The flames were huge and melted the icing into a mess. What a laugh we had over that 🙂

Tonight at dinner I will share stories of him with my children, his grandchildren. Our first carries his name as a middle name, and our second carries his sister’s name also as a middle name.

We’ll talk of the time when he was teaching horseback riding and he got kicked in both knees. The times I used to help him clean the pheasants that he and the good ol’ boys had hunted (yes eww, but it didn’t bother me then). We’ll chat of the time we went fishing and my little brother was the only one who caught anything. Of his stories commuting on the GO Train. His co-workers and the jokes they used to tell. How he could fix anything. And the time I accidentally dipped my blond pony tail into the blue paint he was using and how even paint thinner wouldn’t take it all out.

I will tell them that he would have loved to be a grandfather. Because he would have. He loved being a dad so how could he not?

Later, I will raise a glass of wine. Pretend that it’s clinking on his glass. And share the drink that we never got to share.

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…

judgment

As usual, so very well said by Diary of A Mom.
Not judging in certain situations is cowardly and passively agrees with horrific actions.

a diary of a mom

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{image is a fist raised in protest, solidarity}

Years ago, a colleague of mine told me that I was the least judgmental person she’d ever met. I laughed. Hard. I told her that she really needed to get out more. She said, “No, really. You are.” I secretly took pride in her words.

I have spent a lifetime trying not to judge others. Trying to be open to their perspectives and belief systems no matter how far afield they might be from mine.

But there is a time to judge.

A place that demands that we judge.

This is it.

Last week, I held my breath as I watched the video of Baltimore ravens running back Ray Rice punching his fiancee in the face, then dragging her limp body out of an Atlantic City elevator, kicking her legs into place when they didn’t comply.

I judged him.

I did not vilify…

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The List

one of our fun hikes from a few years ago

one of our fun hikes from a few years ago


It almost didn’t happen.

We do it EVERY year.

But this year in the chaos that is the night before school, between unpacking the trailer, showers and discovering that not only was a lunch container lost but so were sharpeners and erasers BEFORE SCHOOL EVEN STARTED it was forgotten.

Eventually everyone was settled to bed and my hubby remembered.

Every year on Labour Day, in the evening when things are (supposed to be) calm, we all sit down and write a list of all the things we did that summer.

Everything from our tall ship excursion to our epic road trip was on the list this year. Whale watching and grandpa nearly dis-mounting a Mountie were there too. So were sleep overs, pool parties and going shopping. Anything that we enjoyed we add to it.

And then we re-read what we’ve done in previous years. There was the camping trip with ice cream every single day. There are animals spotted (from birds and turtles to bears and moose). One year was Fort Henry where the kids were “hired” as soldiers and then had to take their recruiter to jail for enlisting underage recruits. Another point talks of playing in the waves at the beach, learning to swim or ride a bike.

It’s our back to school ritual. I’m so glad that hubby remembered. When we all woke up the next morning, there was a draft of the list on our places at the table. We added our thoughts to it, and now we have eight summers worth of lists to look fondly back at.

A Wee Bit of Advice for Selling Your Stuff

yard sale

We all have crap stuff that we want to get rid of. You know the boxes of baby clothes in the crawl space, the gifts you’ve tried re-giving but can’t because you’re never at a party without the person who gave it to you, the exercise equipment that wasn’t intended to get daily use for drying laundry.

One day, prompted maybe by your in-laws visiting or that you’re moving or maybe by the fact that you can’t stand climbing over all that stuff just to get to the laundry room anymore you get the idea to sort it out and clean it up.

But the garbage pile is significantly smaller than the keeper pile. It’s still good
you insist. Somebody can use this. Somebody will even pay me for it. I can have a yard sale and make enough money for my trip to Vegas! Ya! Let’s go for it!

As veteran used goods purchaser and seller (my family ran a flea market stall back in the days when flea markets were one big garage sale and not the glorified dollar stores that they seem to be now) who used to revel in getting up early on a Saturday (yes before having kids and losing the privilege to sleep in for I think forever) and head out with a friend looking for antiques and cool finds and then later as a mom looking to score some awesome deals on clothing and toys, I have some advice for those of you who are planning a yard sale:

1) Some scratched chairs, mason jars without lids and an almanac from 1986 do not a yard sale make (seriously I was at one like this at 8am this morning). Put your good stuff out where people can see it so they will have the patience to sift through for the real scores.

2) People will come early. Suck it up and be ready. It’s only one day. Expect to be up and running by 7am. If your garage is empty (and it should be after your prep for the yard sale) lay lighter stuff out on tables the night before, then you just have to (carefully) move them down the driveway in the morning. If you don’t have that space then at least sort stuff by table for a quicker set up.

3) Customer service. Seriously. Say “Good Morning” and smile. Your conversation about your kids with your neighbour can wait. I have put stuff down and walked away when no one is interested in selling it to me.

4) If someone is looking at toy trucks and you have more in the garage, tell them you have more and then pull them out and help them sort through them.

5) Have change. Lots of Quarters, Loonies, Toonies and Fives. (For my non-Canadian readers that reads lots of quarters, $1’s, $2’s and $5’s.) Bank machines only give out $20’s.

6) Be prepared to offer deals. You want to get rid of this crap/stuff right? Don’t hold out for the highest bidder or you will likely be holding on to it for another year or five. If it’s a great condition blender that just doesn’t fit your new kitchen then you don’t have to sell it for $1, but $80 is too much for a yard sale. If you can’t part with it for less then put it on Kijiji and move on.

7) Sort clothes by size and sex. Kids clothes sell better than adult. Spread them out and clearly price them. Wash them to get stains off. Throw out badly stained clothes. A sign printed with your computer works equally as well as one scrawled on a scrap of cardboard. ie: kids clothes $2 each, 6 for $10. Or fill a (grocery) bag for $10.

8) Price everything. Even if it’s a $1 table, a $2 table etc. Set your prices realistically. Even if it’s a new item, the people coming are looking for used prices. Again if you can’t part with it for less than new price then go to Kijiji and don’t turn people away with high prices.

9) Clean stuff off. It’s been sitting in your basement/crawl space/closet/garage/shed for years. It’s dirty and dusty. It doesn’t have to have a spit polish but stuff that has been wiped down or hosed off (baby wipes are awesome) will sell faster.

10) Put bits and pieces and accessories in a clear sandwich bag and tape it to the item. Think of a toy kitchen. For $20 I’m much more likely to take the one that has a bag with dishes and plastic food and stuff (even if it’s not a complete set I mean come on, what family is able to keep a complete set of any play toys?) than I am to take the one with no accessories at all.

11) College/University manuals from twenty years ago are outdated. They belong in the recycling bin.

12) If you do not have enough stuff to make your driveway look full or if you live in an apartment, pair up with a friend/neighbour. An empty looking driveway will only make people drive past. When it is full looking then it’s worth their time to stop and come take a look.

13) Put up signs at major intersections as well as at every turn on the way to your house. Make the lettering large and thick and keep your message simple. “Yard Sale. 123 Elm St. Sat 8-1” Is all that is needed. Anything else complicates the sign and makes it too hard to find the relevant details as people are driving past. Providing hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (ie Friday 5-8, Saturday 10-2, sunday 12-4 does not work. Way too complicated, and no one can figure out when they can come.)

14) Use tables to raise stuff off the ground and unpack boxes. Though die-hards will dig through boxes of crap, most people won’t and you are losing opportunities to sell it if it can’t be easily seen.

15) Saturday mornings are the best time. Sundays not so much, weekdays won’t net you much (perhaps some traffic if you are on a busy street?)

16) At the end of the day you need to decide what you are going to do with the stuff that is left.
Think twice before you hold an annual yard sale. The regulars get to know who holds a twice a year sale of the same old crap and will avoid them like the plague. If you have growing kids and have a whole new pile of stuff to add each year then maybe an annual one is a good plan. But it’s like retail, you need to add new inventory each time or your sales will go down. If your motivation is simply to de-clutter and get rid of stuff then look at what is left. Anything that is still usable or wearable as is can be donated to the Salvation Army or your local thrift shop (please click here to see why I don’t support donating to Goodwill), anything that requires repair needs to be thrown out. Metals can be picked up or dropped off to your local scrap metal place.
Anything else that can’t be donated really needs to be thrown out.

17) Count up your profit (minus of course your float-the change you started with) and decide which piggy bank it goes in. That trip to Vegas might have turned into a nice dinner out (or maybe it’s now a bigger trip) but think how wonderful it is to have gotten rid of all that stuff.

Tired of all these Autism and ADHD brats!

I have been blogging about the “Nelson’s”/Adult Bullies for a while now and this post sums it all up so beautifully.

Pensive Aspie

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When I was a kid they didn’t call it “Behavioral Disorders.”  They called it “Being a little brat!”  This is just ONE of many memes I have seen on my social networks. They are shared by my friends and family. I would like to think that is just the ignorant/uneducated who feel this way, but it isn’t.

Driving home from work a couple weeks ago, a college-educated peer told me that she felt that “most of these autism and adhd diagnoses” are fabricated.  Her son had some of the traits of a child with Autism/ADHD but HE doesn’t have Autism/ADHD so maybe it doesn’t really exist. She felt it was just an “excuse” for people NOT to parent. Did I mention she was COLLEGE EDUCATED?!?  She knew about my blog, my Asperger’s, and my beliefs, but since my thoughts are different from hers, of course mine MUST be wrong.  After…

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Is it Ever OK to Make Fun of a Child?

Picture of a blue sky with fluffy clouds. Caption says "Children are only bullied on a continual basis if the bully's behavior is encouraged by the adults in their life"

Picture of a blue sky with fluffy clouds. Caption says “Children are only bullied on a continual basis if the bully’s behavior is encouraged by the adults in their life”

I’ve blogged about this before, and I will continue to blog about it until those who are “grown-up” get it: Kids bully other kids when their behavior is encouraged by the adults in their life

Several weeks ago “friends” posted a picture on Facebook of a child in a stroller. They were treating it as a people of Wal-Mart style pic with which they made comments that they assumed were funny. I looked at that picture and saw a child who was too large for the stroller leaning back hiding her face. In hiding her face, I saw a child who was overwhelmed by the crowd and noise. (it wasn’t clear if it was a mall or theme park or other place, just that there were other people there) In the stroller I saw a child who was perhaps a runner or who perhaps had mobility issues. When I suggested that perhaps the family couldn’t afford a wheelchair the glib comment came back that if the child needed a wheelchair then the government would have provided one.

Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where all of our medical needs were met by some benevolent caretaker, where there were no wait lists and no need for extended health care coverage? I bet it would be sunny every day and no one ever went hungry either.

The reality is that even here in Canada, children do not get the supports that they need automatically. And if you can’t comprehend that, just ask any parent of a child with special needs.

I mean it’s lovely and wonderful in your life that you don’t have a child or know anyone with a child who has extra needs. But that does not ever give you the right to make fun of someone else’s child. Ever.

Even if this child was not overwhelmed and was leaning back chatting on a cell phone (as was indicated in one of the comments), even if this child did not have mobility challenges and is not a runner, even if this child is simply too large for the stroller, ANY comments that make fun of this child are bullying. When you make fun of anyone, it is bullying.

As an adult, what kind of example are you setting when you bully a child? You are telling your children, your nieces and nephews, your neighbours, your friend’s children that differences are not ok. That bullying is not only ok but that you support and encourage it.

When you do not allow that kind of behaviour in your home and in your life, when you open a discussion about differences, when you become inclusive rather than exclusive, then and only then will we start to see the end of bullying at school.

Think of it another way, when we make a behaviour socially unacceptable, like we did with smoking. Once it was common to see adults smoking in a car with kids in the backseat. Now we look at that behaviour with disgust. That change was made in less than a generation.

I will leave you with a slight digression, if you don’t mind. It is about how children should handle other children that they just don’t like. A couple of friends and I have discussed this many times in the face of some classroom situations we’ve seen in the last few years. We have unanimously agreed that our children do not need to pretend to like everyone. But they must be polite.

Why can’t adults do that in the workplace and set an example for the children in their lives?