Three years ago, Shane headed off to his first day of Montessori. He walked the 1.2km to the school, was mostly potty trained and was already fluent in sarcasm. Alma is the same age today as he was then. Tomorrow he embarks on a new journey at a new school. Once we drop him off, Alma will start the new year at her 2.5h per day reverse integrated special needs preschool. We have a walker prepared for her and her TPSL block starts right off the bat. She’s been accepted into Physio at Holland Bloorview so has weekly visits there too. I am starting to speak fluent specialneedsparent.
When I applied for Shane to enter that Montessori, I had to outline my goals for his education. I wrote that I wanted him to be able to decide for himself what interested him, and develop a lifelong love of learning.
When Alma joined her preschool, I had to do the same. I wrote that I hoped someday she would learn to read, and achieve an independent life, in whatever form that may take.
I hope tomorrow both of them get one baby step closer to those goals.
Today, as I write this, I’m actually standing in brilliant sun and walking in the pouring rain at the same time, which seems fitting.
That’s exactly how I feel.
There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to take a long look at where I want to go, and how I might get there. It’s still my ‘resolution time’.
Here are my 5 picks for what I wish I had to get me ready for next Tuesday – the first day of my New Year.
1. Check out these Frecklebox Personalized lunch boxes. I’d love to write some little notes to remind myself to be awesome every day.
2. Who doesn’t need a new pencil case? As a writer, I tote a lot of pens around. I’d like to grab one of these from Etsy. Chevrons? Contrasting zippers? These just make me happy.
3. I’m a snacker. I believe these glasses would make me look like a smart snacker. Plus this reusable snack bag perfectly satisfies my appetite to make green choices for myself and my family. Colibri is a Canadian brand (A+). You can order different sizes and patterns from Well.ca.
4. Inside shoes. Outside shoes. These amazing Steve Madden boots strike me as a pair I wouldn’t want to take off. I have a pair of Madden boots already and I love them. These might be my fall go-to’s. Can’t wait to try them on.
5. Ok, most people would pick a new backpack for back-to-school, but this new Ali Edwards Bag from Epiphanie makes me want to go back to class. (I took a lot of photography electives). Big enough for a camera body, long and short lens, and some personal items, it has removable panels to easily convert to an everyday bag. Their whole new leather collection is definitely wishlist material.
What’s on your grownup “Back to School” wishlist?
1. The Oemi Baby Bag – Have been lusting after this for 2.5 years. Someday…
2. KitchenAid Artisan Series Countertop oven – Latest addition to our kitchen. Instant attachment.
3. Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-powder – My new go-to dry hairfixeruppper. Love the look and smells so good.
4. Pumpkin Scones – Mmm, the best reason to say goodbye to summer.
5. Sorel Tovoli Boots – Found these on the Anthropologie site and had a little swoon. Added to wish list.
It’s been a busy time but I still try and make a nice family meal on Sunday. Little Allie is way more interested in saucy, savoury foods than the boy, so now 3 out of 4 of us will eat what’s on the table.
This Shepherd’s pie has 3 things going for it.
One, despite having a long ingredient list, it’s pretty easy.
2. It’s delicious.
3. It has wine so I can throw a little in the pan, throw a little in my glass… and enjoy a little island of grownup time in the chaos of late Sunday afternoons. (of course the alcohol cooks off before I feed this to my munchkin).
This recipe is from Chatelaine Magazine. They do it in little ramekins, but I don’t have the patience. I also play around with the recipe – of course, being lactose-free, I mash the potatoes with whatever lactose-free dairy I have around. I sometimes omit the cauliflower and go straight potatoes and I’ve been know to throw in a little extra wine.
I partially think they went with the little servings because it’s really hard to get a tasty photo of a big shepherd’s pie, but trust me, it’s delicious. You can see their photo and the recipe as it appeared in link below.
2 tbsp 2 tbsp 1 tbsp
1/4 tsp 1/8 tsp
250 g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets, about 1 1/2 cups
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs 18% cream
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 fresh-ground black pepper
500 g lean ground beef, or lamb
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced small
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1/3 cup shiraz
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup no-salt beef broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan, optional
I do love this time of year. It’s so ripe with potential. New school year. New beginnings. New clothes…
This year I was totally wooed by Hanna Andersson. I try not to order from the States – duty, exchange etc, but I didn’t see any point in spending less here on clothes that don’t stand up to everything my kids put them through.
So I bit the bullet and splurged. In my defense, I did load my cart then wait and wait for a good sale to come along. And, i got an extra discount when I signed up to receive sale notifications by email. Win-win.
Ordering to Canada was easy-peasy and it came fast – only a few days after I got my shipping notification. And, when it arrived I read there is a Canadian address for returns which would have made it super easy to send things back…if I hadn’t instantly fallen head over heels.
So here’s the Hanna Haul for her: She only needed a few things for preschool – she grows so slowly that she wears through things faster than she outgrows them. Especially in the knees since she still ‘walks’ on them rather than her feet when she abandons her walker. The Hanna tights have so far lasted longer than any others we’ve tried.
There is one more cute hoodie that came later. The one I wanted originally is sold out in her size. Sigh.
The little dress with the stripes is adorable.
Hanna Haul for Him: The boy grows slowly and is in between two sizes so these should last well for him.
Long sleeve shirts were his most urgent need, followed by some comfy pants. I very much like the pull up pants which can be hard to find in stylish cuts.
As he was being 5, there are no photos of him in his clothes, but his sis was happy to help.
The hoodie is thick, warm, extremely soft and has a nice cut (obviously 4 sizes too big for this one).
All in all, I’m totally thrilled with everything that arrived.
You’ll find all the loveliness at hannaandersson.com
I am still pining for the quilted jacket that was sold out in her size so if you’re reading this Hanna Andersson – size 90 please.
mom in park: How old is she?
mom in park: Wow.
Yes she has some delays.
mom in park: Oh. Is she walking?
No, not yet. Someday.
mom in park: Huh. Will she catch up?
No, probably not. But I’m sure she’ll surprise us in other ways.
mom in park: She is cute…
Then I snapped this photo and thought about how I see her: flying out in front, her brother smiling behind her.
Swing on sweet girl. Aim for the sky.
One of the little secrets of parenting that no one likes to talk about is that we all want to win. I know, I know, parenting is not a competition.
But it kind of is. It’s a competition with yourself to have your kids turn out in the way that you believe is best for them. I’m not talking about making them something they’re not. (Though sadly, some people see it this way ).
I mean having kids choose to play a sport you played, or go to your alma mater or love reading as much as you do. For instance, my typical child loves language. He has a broad vocabulary, a sense of humour and grasp of sarcasm that exceeds his years and I love it. I’m a word person and I’m so pleased that he follows in my footsteps – #winparenting. I know others who are stoked that their children have grown to pay no heed to expected gender norms, and others still who love that their kids would much rather chase bugs than watch TV. win. win. win.
With Allie, my wins very different. They’re functional wins. A word! yes! A movement that means we’re closer to walking. Hells yeah. But my heart still aches when I think of all the little wants and wishes that will likely never come to pass in the way I imagined before.
Tell a book lover that there’s a chance your child will never have the capacity to read at all, or a runner that their child may never be surefooted enough to make it around the track. Those are the little losses that make receiving a diagnosis sting in the darkest parts a parent’s heart.
As one who tends not to take no for answer, I’m inclined to see those areas as ones that need special attention. They may never happen, but I’m not planning on letting them go without a fight.
As I was watching the inspiring opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games in LA this past weekend, I was very taken by the stories of the athletes, the joy on the face of everyone in attendance and the history of the Special Olympics movement. Wow. I went through a serious amount of Kleenex.
There are countless athletes there this week with the same syndrome as Allie and they are kicking butt. Medals in gymnastics? Swimming? Amazing.
I was particularly taken by the Special Olympian Oath.
“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
It will never be me in that athletes parade, but I feel the parents in the stand live the oath too in their own way. In the face of every Mom and Dad cheering, supporting and reveling in the day, it was clear that getting from where they started to the games was a hard fought battle for the whole family. In making it there, they were already winners.
Parenting is a hard sport. Parenting a child with exceptional needs is harder.
We still want to win on our own ways. Sure, we’re told to expect less. But should we listen?
I think I’ll choose not to. Not after seeing those 6500 athletes march proudly into the stadium. Not after seeing those parents rejoicing in the stands.
From this day forth, I will bring all my fullest hopes to the parenting game. I will believe harder and push further and, if I find myself close to giving up, I will find a new way. I will not let others low expectations set the bar for what might be achieved.
Let me #winparenting.
Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt.
PS: Two days after seeing the Opening Ceremonies, I enrolled Allie in the Special Olympics program. Did you know they start at age 2? She starts in the fall. I can’t wait. Maybe she’ll be in that athletes parade one day.
The long pause after people say Allie is adorable and ask how old she is. She is small for her age, so I suppose she could be mistaken for her developmental age. People are really thrown when their 10 or 12 or 14 month old is the same size and further along. They get uncomfortable. They’re not sure what to say. There’s a long, long pause before then say again, just how cute she is.
Sometimes I let them off the hook and tell them about WS and how it affects her. And sometimes I just don’t feel like explaining her. Sometimes I just talk about the weather or the park we’re in or the boy.
At the wading pool, she’s sitting, splashing, squealing. She’s smiling and happy. At that moment, it’s the most important thing about her.
I am definitely a fierce advocate. I strongly believe that spreading the word about Williams Syndrome is the key to inclusion and acceptance and so on.
But sometimes, I just want to let a little girl splash in a pool.
In the middle of that long pause, I hear her laughter, her little songs, her joy.
My words about her syndrome would drown it out.
Sure, people would learn more about what makes her different.
But they’d miss all the parts that make her special.
The R-Word. It’s a hotly debated topic.
I know right? What’s the debate? It’s not a nice word. It makes a whole class of people feel bad. It’s used by bullies to make perfectly normal people feel less than.
But amazingly, just about every time I tell someone they shouldn’t use the R word after they r-bomb it onto a conversation with me or it appears as someone’s post on my Facebook newsfeed, I get a whole host of excuses. I’ve heard “yes, I really need to stop saying that because now my kids are saying it”. I’ve heard “I’m sorry, I was just really tired”. I’ve heard “I apologize that you took it personally but I’m not apologizing for the joke because that was fucking funny”. I’ve heard “Wow, I didn’t even realize I said it”.
Huh. Rarely have people said, “You’re right, I never thought about it that way, there’s no place for that word in my vocabulary”.
Now I’ve also heard “what’s the big deal”, “I didn’t mean it the way you think” and “I would never say it to a person who was actually mentally handicapped” (um, the correct term in case you’re new here is intellectual disability).
If you are one of those people who still find the word makes it’s way into your conversations, I urge you to use the N word one time for every time you use the R word in conversation and see how that goes.
As in…wow, this project is so R-word. Those N-word have no idea what they’re doing.
Or I can’t believe you did that. You’re such an R-word. I don’t know why I hang out with N-word like you.
Maybe it will help you come to understand that saying the r-word at all makes you a bit of an asshole. When you say it to me it makes you a giant asshole. When you say it without even knowing you say it… asshole. When you tell me I just can’t take a joke or that I’m too sensitive, then you’re simply missing the point. (and you’re an asshole).
It’s not about me. It’s not personal. It’s universal. It’s human rights. It’s about being a good global citizen. It’s about the reason we don’t say the N-word. And how the G word is about pride and not prejudice, and why Native Canadians and Inuit are referred to the way they are.
When you choose to use the R-word you’re saying you (as in “I’m such an r-word), the thing you’re doing (this is so r-word) or the person you’re saying it about (you’re such a r-word) is stupid, slow, pointless, dull, unable to grasp what’s happening around you, dumb (another word that is used in a way that’s not what it means). It’s derogatory. It’s mean. And it’s just not an acceptable word anymore.
If you need further encouragement, you can watch one of the 195 million videos that come up on a google search for End the R Word.
It’s not personal.
195 Million videos.
Don’t tell me I just can’t take a joke.
Don’t tell me you won’t say it in front of me.
Don’t be an asshole.
There are estimated to be 1,025,110 words in the English language.
Pick another one.