Monday, April 30, 2012

Seven Super Shots (A Photo Essay...Sort of...)

My awesome blogger friend, Pam of Writewrds has graciously issued a lovely photograph-challenge to her fellow bloggers, as per this challenge from Hostel Bookers 7 Super Shots. It pretty much rocks socks and I am delighted to take part.

The challenge:

1. Choose 7 of your own photos, one for each of the following categories:

  • A photo that…takes my breath away
  • A photo that…makes me laugh or smile
  • A photo that…makes me dream
  • A photo that…makes me think
  • A photo that…makes my mouth water
  • A photo that…tells a story
  • A photo that…I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)

2. Write a short description for each image.
3. Write somewhere in your blog post: ‘I am taking part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.
4. Tell us you have participated and tweet the hashtag #7SuperShots
5. Nominate 5 other bloggers by including a link to their blog in your post.

We will be retweeting and sharing the best posts from participating bloggers

A photo that takes my breath away:

Meeting Luke, my second son and my very soul. Before he was born, I worried that I wouldn't love him (or her, I didn't know "who" I was growing in my belly, but secretly hoped for another boy) as much as his brother. And then, I held him for the first time here and all those worries simply melted away. To him, I whispered, "Hello, Luke. I've been waiting to love you my whole life."

I dunno if this counts, actually, since I didn't take the photo.

Hmmm...well, here's another one that I DID take:

Fearless boy - he marched right up and gently, oh-so-gently reached out. My heart was in my throat watching him, but seeing the joy that lit his face throughout...oh, my.

A photo that makes me laugh or smile:

This is Luke, in his glory. That devilish grin shows who is he is, most of the time and the messier things get, the happier he is. He is all about the mess, this kid. God, I love him.

A photo that makes me dream:

Both boys sleep like this, relaxed and chilled. When Matthew was a baby, I would sit for hours, watching him and dreaming of who he might become. Six years later, I sometimes sneak into their room and watch them still...

A photo that makes me think:

The world is a brighter place, because of him. For him, I want the whole of it. To it, I say, "I offer you my very heart. His name is Matthew. You're welcome."

A photo that makes my mouth water:

Summer evenings, cicadas singing, friends and family gathered, heart content, belly full.

A photo that tells a story:

The original Elizabeth McLennan (my husband's grandma) and Poppa, shortly before he passed away. Theirs was a quiet love, grown more tender as the years passed. This, dear readers, is what love truly looks like.

A photo that I am most proud of:

This is my favourite spot in my house - the front hallway. Light fills this space with warmth and welcome and unlike the other rooms, where chaos, peace hovers.

* * *

Ok, bloggers! Now it's your turn! Get in on the action - here are my five picks, all five of whom are local Belleville/Quinte bloggers and all five of whom I've recently met (and adore) in real life:

Jenn from "Cleverly Disguised as Cake" (On Twitter: @mindthecompany)
Mandie from "Voices in My Head" (On Twitter: @mandieh03)
Jennifer from "Thinking Christian" (On Twitter: @jennifer4tc)
Christina  from "Life With The Drama Queens" (On Twitter: cdavies1975)
Sara from "They Call It Gumption" (On Twitter: @SaraHamil)

Bring it, Bellevillians!

Monday, April 23, 2012

From The (Potty) Mouths of Babes...

Hit the gas station after retrieving the boys from school. When I climbed back into the car, this is what greeted me:

Luke: Mummy, what does fuckin' asshole mean?
Matthew: I just told you, Luke! I just told him, Mummy!
Belly: Boy, I miss all the fun stuff, eh? Where'd you hear that phrase, Matthew?
Matthew: IR called DB that at school a couple of weeks ago.
Belly: I see. So why are you saying it now?
Matthew: Because I just remembered it now.
Belly: I see. You know that those are very naughty words, right?
Matthew: I know, Mummy. I only told them to Luke so that he doesn't say them.

*This is the hardest part of being a parent, I've found. I can't really get him into trouble because he's sort of doing the right thing. Secondly, I find it very difficult to keep my stern face in place when I'm trying not to laugh.*

Luke: But what does it mean, Mummy?
Belly: It's the worst thing you can call someone, Luke.
Luke: Worse than stupid?
Belly: Way worse.
Luke: Wow.
Belly: Yeah. Wow.

How do you deal with "potty mouth"?

Seconds later, I pulled back onto the rainy street and we headed for home. Then, from the depths of the backseat:

Matthew: Mummy, doesn't it sound like the  windshield wipers are talking?

Belly: You're right, it sort of does. What do you think the wipers are saying?
Matthew: It sort of sounds like....ummmm....Fucking. asshole. Fucking. asshole. Fucking asshole.
Belly: Matthew, that is completely inappropriate and you know it. Enough!

We continued on in silence.

Well, except for the damned wipers.

All the way home, they mocked me:

Fucking. asshole....fucking. asshole....fucking. asshole.......

And you? How do you deal with potty mouth?
 What do your wipers have to say?

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Stuff That Matters

*Today marks the official end of my first year of college, studying Developmental Services.

 I have learned so much these past nine months: from passionate, wise and dedicated professors who challenged me every day, and from passionate, empathetic and hilarious classmates who did the same.

A month ago, I began a work placement - a short one, offering a brief glimpse into what it ACTUALLY means to support people with disabilities, once books and tests and grades have been tucked away.

This is where I learned the most important lessons:

I've been doing a placement (work-study thing, for my American readers) for my college program. For the past four weeks, I've spent my day at a "Day Program" for adults with developmental disabilities.

Yesterday afternoon, I said goodbye to these incredible people  - some 50 men and women who've taught me so very much about developmental services. About resilience, courage, strength and life.

For the past four weeks, I've had my heart touched and broken, every. single. day, sometimes in the same moment. I cannot describe those I supported here, because it would be a violation of so many things. But I can share the lessons they tucked into my heart -  some by speaking, some by not, all by welcoming me into their lives, if only for a little while:

1. The power of a smile - be it wide, shy, beaming or toothless - is beyond measure:

I was nervous, that first day. Terrified, actually, until a woman I'd never met - and who does not speak - gently placed her fingertips on either side of her lips and pushed up, grinning. Understanding, I burst out laughing and stuck out my hand to shake hers in thanks. Instead, she brought my forehead down to her lips, kissed me soundly there and then, without a word, shuffled off.

Imagine the strife we might avoid if this was how we, as a society, offered welcome...

2. We are all of us, the tellers of our own story:

Some people will spill every thought in their head within minutes of meeting someone new. Others keep their stories close and dole them out slowly, carefully, with learned wariness. Some tell the stories of their lives without words.

All of them - indeed all of us - deserve to be heard by a rapt and loving audience. All of us deserve to be heard, even when - perhaps especially when - we are silent.

3. Connection matters:

Sometimes, the most incredible moments are the small, seemingly insignificant ones. Last Wednesday, I took a dance with M, who cannot hear and doesn't speak,  but whose eyes held mine intently as we swayed to the music together.

I do not sign, officially, but instead motioned for him to relax his hand in mine and to move my body with gentle pressure on my hip. Something sparked there, in his eyes, as he realized that I was asking him to lead me. I was trusting him to guide me, instead of the other way around and for once brief, brilliant moment...he smiled. Had I not been looking directly at him, I might have missed it. For that glimpse of his heart and that single moment of absolute grace, I am so thankful.

4. Love matters:

Within days of beginning placement,  I was gobsmacked to realize that I could tell - from among these strangers - who had been well-loved in this life...and who had not. I have no words to describe how that looks, unloved-ness, except to report that it is common in many devalued groups, not just those who are disabled. Unlovedness is a state of being for many, especially foster children, people who are homeless, the desperately poor, our forgotten elderly...

Of everything I've learned, will learn or will ever otherwise know in this field, in this life, I have seen that love truly matters. It really does change the world - for better and for worse - one person at a time.

And you?
How has a stranger offered you a glimpse into their heart...and changed yours?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Monitoring My Blessings...Again

Am considering making "Monitoring My Blessings" a monthly gig around here, as the Reds are giving me much blog fodder these days.

This week, (read: most of the time) I've posted snippets of their  overheard-via-the-baby-monitor conversations on Facebook, because:

a) I am FB friends with practically everyone I've ever known in my entire life and
b) I'm lazy.

But the awesome and talented Leanne from Ironic Mom AND fame, has inspired me. She does a a "Whiteboard Wednesday" thing, in which she writes down the weird stuff her kids inspire her to mutter throughout the week.

"Hey!" I thought, "What a great idea! I think I shall shamelessly copy follow suit!"

So now you should

a) Read the stuff that keeps [me and] the Reds up at night, long after they've been put to bed,

b) Leave your own "overheard conversational tidbit" in the comment section,
c) Come and find me on Facebook. Oh, come know you wanna....

*Insert incredulous tone from Luke/shot of Baileys by me, here*

And then, he reveals his true feelings about Mummy Dearest....

BONUS: A pre-dinner conversation at the end of a long, long week:


Friday, April 6, 2012

Finding the "Good" on Good Friday...

It has been a special kind of day around here. At this holy "Good Friday" draws to its blessed, blessed close, I shall tip my hot chocolate-and-Baileys to you, offer up a prayerful thanks for both and let Facebook tell the story:

This morning's status read as follows:


Thankfully, even Matthew cannot hold a grudge for long and came down bearing gifts for his dad: a bow and arrow, so they could play "Robin Hood and his Minions."

Heh. Minions.

In any case, I managed to tackle 328 loads of laundry before the natives got restless again, so we feasted on a brunch of bacon and eggs before Mark snagged the couch to "rest his eyes":

Desperate to keep the Reds occupied while I sorted and folded the above-mentioned 328 loads of laundry, I threw on some Norah Jones, loaded up the coffee-maker with fresh grounds and dug out some cheap paint-by-numbers kits I'd been hoarding. That kept them busy for, oh, 8 minutes or so:

Alas. Before the paint had even dried the begging started:

"Mummy, can we ride bikes?"
"Just give me a few minutes here, Matthew. You can't ride out front without a grown-up to supervise, so you'll have to wait, ok?"

5 seconds passed

"Mummy, can we ride bikes noooooww?"
"In just a minute, Matthew, please."

17 seconds passed.

"MummyyUH! It's been 12 minutes already!"


It was time to pull out my secret weapon:

Is there anything more beautiful than the sight and sound of children laughing? I think not. No chorus of angels has ever sounded or looked so divine (except perhaps for Luke, who somehow manages to look devilish even when he's being cute)

(Nor had my coffee-flavoured Baileys tasted so heavenly, but I digress...)

We did make it outside, I'm happy to report. We played baseball and skateboarded and rode bikes up and down the street. Well, the Reds did. I sat on the porch with my coffee, soaking up the sunshine and the moment and "supervising."

After supper, Mark took bath duty, which is better than the gift of Blurp, around here. For me, it was gift of time and blessed quiet but for the Reds, it was the gift of play. I am a no-nonsense bather - get in, get washed, get out. Mark, on the other hand, filled the tub to the brim, tossed ALL of their tub toys in AND let them use the bath crayons...

For the record? That sh*t is NOT entirely washable. Mark doesn't know that though and they had so much fun, I don't have the heart to tell him. Maybe tomorrow...for now, this:

Turned out to be a pretty good "Good Friday" after all!

And you?
How do you celebrate holy days?
 How do you bribe help your children to be especially good?

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Righting" Wrongs....

This is a public service announcement.

It has nothing to do with my children, but has EVERYTHING to do with thousands of other people's sons and daughters. As a mother, a daughter, a CANADIAN, I post this here, wishing I could shout it from rooftops, instead.

Please. Read this, and pass it on:

The class action against the government on behalf of the many who were so badly treated at Rideau Regional Centre continues. The lawyers are looking for people to come forward to provide evidence to help get approval from the court for the case against Rideau Regional Centre to proceed. In particular the lawyers are looking for people (former residents, family members or former employees) who might be able to speak about the institution during the period between 1993-2009. That is why Community Living Ontario is sending out this message. 

Do you know of any people who lived or worked at Rideau Regional Centre between 1993-2009?

Please try to find as many people as you can to make sure we have enough to support this action. There is strength in numbers! We strongly believe that institutions have been detrimental for people who have been labelled. This is one way that those persons' voices will be heard!

If you know of anyone or can make a list of people, you can send this information to Community Living Ontario through the following people below, or you can contact the lawyers directly at:
David Rosenfeld
Koskie Minsky LLP
Barristers & Solicitors
20 Queen Street West, Suite 900
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 3R3
Tel: (416) 595-2700
Fax: (416) 204-2894
website: <>
OR contact:
Gordon Kyle at
Gordon Kyle
Director of Social Policy
and Government Relations
Community Living Ontario

240 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 403
Toronto, Ontario , M3B 3S6
Phone (416) 447-4348 ext