There are two parts to registering a child who is starting school with disability. There’s the functional part – who do you see, what do you need bring? And then there is emotional part. This is not about the functional part.
Enrolling our daughter in school was the hardest thing I’ve dealt with on our parenting journey. So hard that it’s taken me a year to talk about it. But today, when I saw that another mom I know is in the same place I was last year, I felt it was time to open up.
I’m going to skip all the drama that happened between when I started the process (and the tears) of enrolling Alma in school and the first day we put her on the yellow bus to let you know that she has an amazing placement. Some even call it a unicorn placement as it feels like the kind of placement you only hear about. It is perfect. But it is not the placement I was crossing my fingers for at this time last year.
And I now know that’s ok.
I learned a lot along this journey. Hopefully some of it will help you, as you work your way towards the right placement for your child.
This DIY Easter Surprise Eggs recipe is a new Easter favourite. In fact, I might be make them 123,045 times before this easter.
My little one LOVES surprise eggs. Like is seriously-obsessed-to-the-point-that-it-drives-me-crazy obsessed. But I can’t bear to have any more little plastic toys filling up our home, and she really shouldn’t be chowing down on full size big-kid eggs.
So I decided to try and make some at home.
Today is the day! It’s Launch Day for the Nintendo Switch. My son and I had the chance to test out the Switch here in Toronto. And I have to say, we were both smitten. I am not a gamer by any stretch as was evident earlier today when I stood in line to nab a console for our family. It was def a case of one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other. But I’m quite certain this is the next great family console. And here’s why.
So Natrel just released Lactose-Free Butter. LACTOSE-FREE BUTTER!
I stuffed my daughter in the car (buckled her up tight) and proceeded to buy 5 packages.
I also brought the ingredients for these shortbread cookies and a baguette.
First I ate few hunks of baguette spread with glorious butter. Then I whipped up these whipped shortbread cookies.
They are one of the first Christmas Cookies I made on my own as a little girl. And they’re still my favourite today. The recipe hails from The Harrowsmith Cookbook, and credit is given to Shirley Hill of Picton Ontario.
They are very delicious, very easy and always a huge hit.
The key to these is to really beat them between ingredients. Don’t stop when the ingredients are mixed, give them a minute or more to beat at each step.
Today I finished the cookies with chunks of Purdy’s dark chocolate and makde a few with a little candied cherry on tip.
I know I mentioned beating after every ingredient…I’m repeating myself so you take me seriously. THIS IS THE SECRET TO THE BEST WHIPPED SHORTBREAD EVER.
1/2 lb. Butter
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
First, beat butter until light.
Then add the remaining ingredients one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Next, roll into small balls and flatten with a fork (or just drop them – that’s what I do).
Bake at 300
F for 30 min. Keep an eye on the cookies because they look the best when they come out before they brown.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
I’m so excited to be sharing recipes from fellow Canadian bloggers under the hashtag #CANRecipe. Food that will give you a flavour of the season – Christmas Classics straight from our kitchens.
From the top left the dishes are:
Nanaimo Truffles @ Dish’n’ the Kitchen
Dipped Oreos @ The Inspired Home
Mulled Wine @ Maple and Marigold
Bacon Fried Rice @ Allergy Girl Eats
Coles Pudding @ Off The Porch
Chocolate covered Whiskey-Soaked Figs @ Everday Allergen Free
Shortbread Cookies @ Mommydo
I’m excited to be attending TheThriveSummit.ca on Monday. When I first made the decision attend this session to learn and share how I #ThriveinMyLife, I was mentally planning my February #ThriveTop5 post early in March. I had an amazing month (don’t worry, I’ll still get the post up there) with all kinds of great #thrive2016 moments.
I was excited about the interactive session, networking and unconference sessions too.
Then life did one of those things life does. My 6-month plan to change my work situation changed for me and I was suddenly there – six months too soon. I wasn’t surprised per se, but #WhatsNext certainly crossed my mind.
That was almost 4 weeks ago. Since then I’ve been working on creating a side business that has nothing to do with my “day job” business, done work with some amazing people, have made time for friends, planned nights out, taken the boy on a little road trip, had drinks on a Monday night (yes Monday!), gone out for a boozy lunch and cooked up a storm.
In trying to find ways to Thrive, I’ve realized some things. These are probably completely obvious to everyone else but I’m going to share them anyway. Just in case someone reading has woken up in the morning and felt a little light inside has gone out and is unsure where to start rekindling the flame.
There are still a few tickets left for the Thrive Summit Conference, so Let’s Thrive Together at The Thrive Summit Conference this Monday.
The conference will help you improve your financial success, set new goals, prioritize your healthy living (including stress management) and increase work life quality, productivity, clarity and focus. Over 20 members of our thrive team (including productivity expert and bestselling author Chris Bailey – Author of the Productivity Project) will leave you inspired, energized and ready to prioritize your health, wellbeing, purpose and work objectives more effectively.
For full details visit our Thrive Agenda
I just watched a video in which you spoke of the tremendous value of the diversity in our public school system. I, too, value the ethnic diversity in my son’s public school in our neighbourhood. Sadly, my daughter won’t get to experience it.
While we have worked tirelessly to include those of every race/ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, social class, and sexual orientation in our schools, kids with disabilities don’t always make the cut…at least not always in the school closest to home. Kids like my daughter are forced to attend schools that can be up to an hour away by bus. My sweet little girl has a rare syndrome called Williams Syndrome. You may recall my mentioning it when we met in the Distillery District in Toronto. Her constellation of challenges and strengths don’t fit with the typical curriculum and our local school doesn’t have adequate support. This means that rather than attending our local school with the kids on our street and her brother, she’ll be bused to another school somewhere in the GTA. We don’t know where she’ll end up. The long process of her placement is just begun and we could be waiting months to hear where she’ll land.
This also means that her sibling will head to school each day, to a school that prides itself on diversity, and never see another child interact with a disabled sibling. He won’t see walkers, wheelchairs, sign language, or kids struggling with profound speech delay. He won’t get to celebrate his sister’s achievements with her Special Olympics teammates at school and he won’t get to have her come and applaud a future science fair project of his. Maybe he’ll unlock a new way to help kids with learning disabilities tell time, or maybe not, since his teachers won’t understand why it matters to him – having never met his sister. The other children in his school will lose the opportunity to interact with exceptional kids like mine and discover how the commonalities they share are more important than any differences between them.
I realize in our mosaic of a nation, we strive tirelessly to celebrate what makes us alike and what makes us different from each other. We are doing an excellent job of raising a generation to pride itself on inclusion. I fear that unless we include kids with disabilities in all schools, we will never truly achieve the diversity you speak of so proudly.
In the video you said “It’s not easy. You can’t do it overnight. A diverse and open and inclusive education system and open circle of friends is what we have to work towards in our communities.” I , and thousands of other parents, need your help now. Help to work on this diverse and open education system with an open circle of friends in my community…and every community. So my kids can go to the same school, have the same friends, belong to the same community.
They too, should benefit from the power of diversity in education in Canada.
You know Thive is a big theme here this year. I just heard about an amazing initiative from Glen Bernard Camp, just west of Algonquin Park that has been created to offer the summer camp experience to 24 girls who have recently arrived from Syria.
When you think of summer in Canada, the cottage, trailer, tent camping and summer camp are such an integral part of our summer culture. I spent every summer with my dad at our cottage (we called it camp up North) fishing, swimming, canoeing and sailing. Those are some of my happiest memories. After all the change, all the unmentionable things these girls have seen this year, I think it is so incredible that they will have the chance to just splash around in the lake, sit by the campfire, bunk in with new friends. They’ll have the chance to Thrive in the most amazing environment while canoeing, sailing, climbing high ropes, enjoying arts and crafts and swimming.
Research has shown summer camp has a real impact on a child’s sense of belonging, self-confidence and esteem. It’s that “sense of belonging” that I think really makes this program special. It’s hard to be a preteen girl. I can only imagine how much harder it is when you’re in a new place, having left just about everything you knew behind.
Glen Bernard for Syria: A Canadian Summer Camp Experience is setting aside 24 spaces at the camp for Syrian girls between the ages of 11 and 13. Jocelyn Palm, the Owner of Glen Bernard Camp and Order of Canada recipient said “This year is our camp’s 95th anniversary. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by opening our doors to these new campers.”
I agree Jocelyn. Well done.
Private sponsors are encouraged to apply on behalf of girls ages 11‐13 in their Syrian family. Application forms for the program are now available on the Glen Bernard Camp website at gbcamp.com and will be accepted until April 1, 2016.
You won’t have to worry about funding the application. All of the costs for these campers are being covered by Glen Bernard. In addition to covering the camp fees, Glen Bernard will provide supplies and equipment through donations from past and current camp families.
So I said at the beginning of 2016 that this is My Year To Thrive. Which was a pretty big statement for me, considering how far on the back burner I’d put all the things that matter to my own well-being.
I realized early in January that there was simply no way that I could put my Thrive ahead of everything else going on. But I did find that I could make opportunities to thrive and seize opportunities when they presented themselves, too. I thought it would be nice to keep track of some of the highlights for times when I felt like things were slipping into old patterns.
So here are a few ways I managed to live my mission to #Thrive2016 last month.
I knitted a baby blanket. I’m still waiting for enough wool for the full sized one (as it’s coming from an Etsy store way far away) but this little guy is super cute and makes a great lap blankie.
Then I joined an amazing group of bloggers for a Blogger Mastermind session and had my first Google hangout. I know- everyone els has already done this a million times but it was my first, and second, and third, and fourth. I may not get to hang out with friends often in real life, but I’m very much enjoying spending time with these amazing women online.
Another one of the things I’ve been meaning to do for ages is make food videos. I film all kinds of things but I never seem to get them off my camera. In January, I made my first (and second) food videos and although they are a little bumpy, I’m still pretty proud of these first attempts. I posted the first one here, then the second here. Watch for more videos in the future.
Work-life balance has alluded me for a long time so in January, I managed to cut back about 10 hours a week. This still has me working more than most, but not as many as I have. It’s back to busy right now, but I’m hoping to get them back down once this project is finished.
The last thing on my Thrive 5 list for January is I made a craft with the kids which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We’re looking for ways to add more crafts into our weekend routines (especially when the weather is bad). You can read the post about the craft here, including where I found the idea on The Inspired Home blog.
February is going well too! I’ll tell you all about the #thrive2016 Feb Thrive5 soon.
So I know Valentines Day is just a couple of days away, but I thought I’d list off a few things that have been making my heart beat a little faster.
We’re about to deliver something very precious to you, and without your support, it won’t make it.
We’re entrusting our sweet little girl to you, but that’s not what I’m talking about. When we drop her off to you, we’re delivering our hope. Take good care of it.
We hope that she will be challenged but not left behind. We hope that she will be included, but also be seen as an individual that needs more. More to learn. More to succeed. More to thrive.
She will need therapists, friends, caregivers, nurturers, protectors, cheerleaders and teachers. There’s a good chance that the teacher will, at times, need to be all of the above. Unless you intervene and insist on extra support. Unless you put hope before budgets, potential before policy and belief in a child before what’s best for the board.
She will need you to hope too. And hope isn’t always easy. Believe me, I know.
What’s easy is reading about a diagnosis and thinking there’s no point in pushing harder. What’s easy is choosing what is practical over what is possible. Or thinking you’re doing the best when you come up against the word ‘no’ once…and giving up. Making people say no over and over makes you unpopular.
It’s hard to be unpopular. I get that. I do. It likely won’t take very long before I am unpopular to you.
Before that happens we need you to take one for the team and ask yourself if maybe you can do better. Wouldn’t it be nice if you and our family and hope could be on the same team?
We could find a way to get little Allie what she needs so she can navigate her way through the school and not get hurt, lost or simply leave.
Or how about a way to harness all the research that’s been done on teaching kids with Williams Syndrome how to read and teaching her that way, instead of how all the other kids learn.
Or maybe a way to let her have the education she has a right to – with all necessary supports – in her community so getting to go to school with her brother won’t compromise her chances for making something of herself.
And maybe every time you get faced with someone who says that’s too much to ask, it’s not how we do things, or she’s not worth the investment, you’ll remember the day we delivered our hope to you. You’ll see the hope. Not all the things that stand in her way. You’ll be the one who makes the difference for her, instead of the one who sees her as someone who doesn’t deserve to be hoped for.
The day is just around the corner. The day we deliver our daughter and all the hope we have for her to you.
Stand out front and welcome her in and see that hope. Then look me in the eye and see all the hope I have for you, too.