Monday, December 10, 2012

Feeling grateful

I recently found this old handwritten note from my then six-year-old son who'd been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome (a neurological disorder characterized by tics). He left it on my pillow one night before bed.

At the time, he was considered moderate-to-severe, four years later his neurologist said he was mild-to-moderate.
Today, at thirteen, he has *almost* outgrown it, a happy kid with lots of friends and great empathy for other kids facing their own problems. So grateful he is where he is today, but it still flattens me when I read his words.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Finding your passion

Though no one in our family has ever played basketball, my youngest inexplicably loves the game. He's been playing for 8 years and is happiest when he has a ball in his hand, shooting hoops, or when he's watching a game on TV (his recall of various NBA player stats stuns me). I believe basketball has also helped him deal with his Tourette's Syndrome, a way for him to be in a constant state of movement. His passion about every aspect of the game makes me smile.
I have another son, my oldest, who stumbled into photography three years ago and it was like watching a light bulb go off. He now works two part-time jobs to save for camera equipment and often begs his dad to take him out at 5 a.m. to shoot the sunrise (even in the winter). These days it's not uncommon to be driving somewhere and have him abruptly yell, "Mom, stop the car! There's an eagle/moose/coyote."
And, of course, I stop. 
Finding something you're passionate about is a gift I understand well. No one in my family ever had any desire to write novels and yet by twelve that was exactly what I wanted to do. Nothing felt better than jotting down a story or dreaming up a plot for a future novel. At twenty, living on my own in a tiny bachelor apartment, I used to walk past an independent publisher on my way to work (I was a long-distance operator at the time). I remember standing with my hands cupped against the window before it opened each day, peering in at all those books, hoping I'd one day be fortunate enough to publish a novel myself - and eventually I was.
I'm so glad/relieved my kids have each managed to find something that matters to them the way writing matters to me. There's nothing worse than a bored teenager with time on his hands, no sense of direction, and nothing to do.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unique point of view

My sixteen-year-old son loves photography and recently won an award for this snapshot titled SNIFF. Can you guess what it is?

It's a picture of our dog, Sully, asleep under my desk, nose pressed against a purple exercise ball used to stimulate circulation. A very different point of view, but it sure catches your eye, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Doing the right thing

When I got up this morning, I found this bowl on my kitchen table covered with Saran wrap. The note sitting on top was from my teenage sons. If you can't make out the words, it reads, Live mouse, no idea what to do.

As I'm sure you can see from the second picture, they gave the little guy a bit of water and some graham wafer crumbs in case he was thirsty or hungry.
Of course, I went through a variety of emotions that shook me fully awake, first and foremost WHERE had they found this mouse?! But more important for me was the fact that they had done the right thing, instinctively showing care and kindness. Made my day.

P.S. We carried the mouse outside and released him far away from our home.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Last cat standing

When I first met my husband (long before we ever married), he admitted he wasn't a cat lover and I shrugged and said I could take them or leave them. Fast forward ten years and we were married, had four cats, a Newfoundland dog, and two kids under the age of five.

Each of our cats has its own unique story. Our dog found one in the bush, carried it home, and dropped it into my outstretched hand - a newborn kitten covered with blood. A lynx had killed the mother and four other kittens, but somehow this one survived. She looked like a coffee bean so we called her Java.

Another became ours 'by accident' after our daughter purchased it as a gift for someone who ultimately didn't want it. She was told the cat would be euthanized if it was returned it, tears were shed, she was leaving for Scotland to attend university, and so...we ended up with yet another cat. Our boys named her Roo.

The third one was a massive, silver-haired cat who looked perpetually stoned and probably should've been born in the 70s. My six-year-old son saw him in a cage in a mall with a sign announcing his imminent death within twenty-four hours if he wasn't adopted. We brought him home and called him Buzz.

This black one was our first cat. We got her when she was only days old. Someone had tried to drown a litter of kittens and then dumped them in a box at a landfill site, but she didn't die. We called her Brady.

The vet warned us she wouldn't live long (too tiny, hadn't had enough of her mother's milk, etc). Today, she's the last cat standing in our home. The rest are gone, passing away one by one over time. Yesterday, I took Brady to the vet to have them shave her flanks to remove hair lumps I couldn't get out with a brush. As you can see, she isn't impressed with her new *senior* look. We've had her 18 years, this cat we never planned for.

Life's funny like that sometimes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What 'skip day' means to me...

When I was in high school, I didn't go to school on my birthday...unless it was raining. If the weather was crap, I would wait for it to change and then I'd skip a full day of school later in lieu of my birthday. Same thing if my birthday fell on a weekend - I'd choose a convenient day later in the month to make up for it.

I called it my annual skip day and I was completely upfront with my mom about it, which I think she appreciated. I told her where I'd be (usually at the lake with friends) so she wasn't surprised when the school phoned to let her know I wasn't there. The trick was my marks were good, which removed any argument she may have had about my little self-indulgence. I also wasn't into drugs and didn't give my family much trouble. 

I've handed down the same policy to my kids. I've told them if you're marks are good (70% minimum or higher in all classes) then you have my blessing to choose one day where you don't go to school. Of course, they're too young to drive yet and their birthdays are in the fall so their annual skip days often get bumped into winter on one of those -20 below snow days where all they want to do is light up the fireplace and pop in a movie.

A friend recently told me she disagrees with this. She feels it sends a bad message, that teaching kids to conform to rules and regulations is essential to their development as responsible adults. I wasn't swayed. I like my friend, but I told her I think she needs to loosen up -- a little nonconformity never hurt anyone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Quick Wake-Up Call

My husband (who is, for the record, a good driver) drove our son to school earlier this week for a seven a.m. badminton practice. My kid was half asleep when hubby had a rare brain fade and almost missed the turn for the school. He braked at the last second, took the turn, and the car hit gravel and skidded sideways, almost putting them in the ditch. My son got out at school and said, "Thanks for the ride, Dad. Felt like I was in some kinda video game, but it's always nice spending time with you." 

Happy Friday - Drive safe!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

For readers everywhere...

I love this quote. As a kid, it was moments like these that made me want to write, moments where I had to put a book down for a few seconds to regroup because what I was reading had touched something deep within me. I wish you all multiple moments like these.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Starting 2012 with a cheesy moment

I was in Barbados with my family earlier this month and we came across this gorgeous (and somewhat aloof) peacock at a nature reserve. Like a group of other tourists who were there, I wanted him to perform and give us a show, but he wasn't interested. He appeared bored and uninterested as many of these camera wielding people (not me) jumped up and down, waved their arms and made a variety of increasingly odd mouth noises. Minutes ticked by and... nothing happened.
Finally, everyone gave up and walked away (if you look, you can see them in the background of this pic). But I stayed. Me, who hasn't an ounce of patience in her (anyone who knows me will confirm this).

Feeling a little stupid, I leaned over the rail and whispered, "I get it. I understand, you're intensely private. Fair enough. So am I." And then (I'm not kidding here) he promptly hopped off his perch and flashed me his feathers, turning this way and that while I took a bunch of pictures. Best. Cheesy. Moment. Ever.

Happy 2012 everyone!