March 26, 2015

Breaking Free From Her Braces

As part of her genetic uniqueness, Avery had pervasive weakness in her core. There's a name for it which escapes me right now. How wonderful is it that I can't even remember some of her physical ailments because it's been so long since they've resolved? The medical knowledge packed into my brain remains only as long as it's necessary. Once the issue is no longer relevant, the dosages, protocols, scary science stuff, etc. fades away, presumably to make room for new, current information. 

Anyway, in addition to her low muscle tone aka hypotonia (I didn't suddenly remember the term. I cheated and looked in her medical file) she also had weakness in her legs and ankles. Standing without support was impossible. 

Hypotonia is a persistent condition relating to the amount of tension or resistance to the stretch in a muscle. Those affected must compensate by developing overall muscle strength. After years of intensive physical therapy, which we called "Super Fun Gym Class" or "Baby Pilates", Avery was able to stand. Then with the aid of leg braces, she was able to take her first steps. 

Her first orthotic devices went up to her knees. They were clunky and ugly and hot but she wore them every day, all day, without complaint. After a few years, she graduated to braces that only went up mid-calf. And then wore Ankle-Foot orthotics (AFOs), which were later shaved down to thin inserts that slid fully inside her shoes, barely noticeable at all. 

Now with eight years of strength training under her tiny belt, at her last physio session she was allowed to throw her well-used AFOs into the trash. She's finally footloose and AFO free! This was a big moment. She was so happy she literally jumped up and down. And because Avery has worked so hard, she can, jump up and down.

March 23, 2015

The 12 Days of Easter—The Hunt Starts Now!

Any chance to party and my family is on it like confetti on a wet floor. Christmas is at least a month long celebration at our house, so it only makes sense that Easter should last for more than just one day. THIS is why we celebrate the 12 Days of Easter.

How does it work eggs-actly? Watch this short video for details and eggs-amples to inspire you to get the hunt started early!

Giant bunnies, fluffy chicks, chocolate? This kind of fun needs to last for more than just one day. I’ve done the planning for you! Adjust the activities to suit your family’s interests and adapt the clues to your specific hunting ground. Then just sit back and accept your family’s enduring admiration for making this Easter especially fun.

Day 1—Leave out a letter from the Easter Bunny for your kids! It could say something like...

“Dear Children,

I’m so hoppy that Easter is near. It’s so much fun, I think we should get the party started early. What do you say? Are you ready for The 12 Days of Easter? Every day until the big Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, I will leave you a clue. Solve it, and you will find something to put you in the Easter mood. The hunt starts now!

E. Bunny”

Day 2—This clue will lead to Easter D├ęcor you can use to decorate the house.
Clue: Easter’s coming. Let’s celebrate. Look for the box marked, “Decorate!”

Day 3—This clue will lead to some funny Easter jokes. Could be a joke/riddle book or a page of Easter jokes printed from the internet.
Clue: Know who’s funny? The Easter Bunny! Look in the fridge, beside the yolks, to find some cool Easter jokes. (Of course they’re cool. They’re in the fridge!)

Day 4—The clue will lead to the recipe and ingredients for a dessert (e.g. Creme Egg Milkshakes) you can all make and enjoy together.  Recipe Link
Clue: Yummy yummy in your tummy, today you’re making something with mummy. Go to the place when we make the toast. There you’ll find ingredients you love the most!

Day 5—Hide the supplies for an Easter craft. Could be as simple as a colouring sheet and crayons. Pinterest is overflowing with creative Easter craft ideas!
Clue: Go upstairs to the room that is drafty and look for the things that will help us get crafty!

Day 6—Today’s clue will lead to the link for an online Easter game. Google “Easter Games” and all kinds of options will come up.
Clue: Get your game on. In a drawer, near the sink. This is where you’ll find the link.

Day 7—Solve today’s clue to locate new Easter Bonnets. Doesn’t have to be an actual bonnet of course. Who wears bonnets anymore anyway?
Clue: Get up, get on it. No need to write a sonnet. Look under the couch for your new Easter Bonnet. (Yes, this clue is lame. Nothing else rhymes with bonnet!)

Day 8—Today’s clue will lead to something egg-citing and sweet! (Mini-eggs to bring to school for a special treat.)
Clue: You are sweet and so are these. Look behind the Kleenex box you use when you sneeze.

Day 9—Find and print an Easter maze or word search.
Clue: This clue is not hard. It’s really quite easy. Look near the machine that makes the air breezy.

Day 10—Print a recipe and get the ingredients to make Mini Egg Cupcakes. Recipe Link
Clue: Pat a cake, pat a cake baker’s man. Look not at the pots, but into a pan.

Day 11—Buy a carton of eggs and an egg dying kit—whichever kind you prefer.
Clue: Fee fi fo fum, where oh where is that little drum? When find you find it, and you will, look upon the window sill.

Day 12—It’s Easter Sunday so…let the egg hunt begin!

This post was brought to you by Cadbury, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit

March 15, 2015

The School Parking Lot Makes Me Angry

The latest stressor in my life is not a big deal. I should be able to shake it off. Except, I can't. It's as they say, "the principle of the thing." And the thing is my kids' school parking lot.

If you have school aged children you've probably borne witness to a few parking lot scuffles. And if your school is overcrowded like ours, scuffles occur daily. Three hundred students over capacity (we have portables aplenty) means there are too many cars at drop off and pick up. People, especially those in a rush, get frustrated, tempers flare and some people seek short cuts.

The staff at our school arranged for me and a few other parents whose children have E.A. support, to drop off and pick up in the staff parking lot. It's quiet and there's lots of room to safely pull up and park. You see, we have to walk our children to the door and hand them off to the E.A. directly. Our children can't walk to school. Avery can't yet anyway. It's too far and she'd be worn out by the time we got there. And our kids can't get dropped off and left on their own to find their way to their classrooms like other kids. My daughter might very well wander off or fall down the stairs. She needs help.

Last year I had a parent walk past my van, the one with the "Special Needs Parking Pass" on the dash, and remark, "You are SO lucky you get to park here."

Lucky? Why yes, I feel like I won the lottery. MY child can't make her way independently through the school like YOUR child can. I get to hand her over to an educational assistant whose job it is to protect my girl and keep her safe. I'm so lucky I could just scream. I'm very sorry you feel put out by the inconvenience of it all. And I'm sorry if waiting an extra five minutes in the busier parking lot makes you rush in order to make your hot yoga class. My god, how DO you do it?

Of course I didn't say any of that. I just stared back her. I may have blinked a few times. And then I just shook it off.

This year, the parking lot is proving to be much more difficult to shake off. My easy going pacifist self is growing angry and disgruntled and frankly fully grossed out by certain humans.

The little parking lot has signs at the entrance that say "NO STUDENT DROP OFF OR PICK UP." It's abundantly clear. There have also been numerous emails and newsletters sent home reminding parents of parking lot protocol. It's not that some parents don't understand where to park, it's that they just don't give two shits.

Between construction infringing upon the big parking lot, a higher student population, and the crazy cold temps this winter, the little parking lot, our safe haven, has been invaded by an army of SUVs. It's not that I mind sharing. I really don't. In fact, this has been going on since September and I haven't said a word until a few weeks ago. I had to. A car racing out of the parking lot narrowly missed hitting two small children. It was horrifying. There are only 3 or 4 of us with parking passes, but there were 20+ cars parked along the curb, right up to the stop sign. When the silver sedan (whose license plate I wish I had gotten) raced through the parking lot, they didn't see the kids step out from behind the parked cars—the cars that had no business parking there.

I reported the incident to the school but there was nothing to be done. They've tried to police the situation but my god, these particular people who disregard the rules for their own convenience just don't care. As for the signs that clearly ask them not to park in this parking lot? They run them over. I'm serious. They knock them over and then drive right over them.

Plus there are the parents who roll their eyes impatiently and huff because the open door to my car while I buckle my child into her seat is blocking their quick exit from the parking lot—the parking lot they aren't supposed to be in in the first place! It makes me want to pound my fists on their hoods and tell them to go to hell. But of course, they can't go to hell or anywhere else for that matter because my door is blocking them. So I take my sweet ass time and it makes me feel glad for a moment. This parking lot stress is turning me into an evil monster.

After about two weeks of the same black Range Rover parking behind me, I finally had to do something. I didn't fist pound any cars, but I did confront the driver. I said, "Just so you know, this is a special permissions parking lot. I see you don't have a pass. You're supposed to pick your kids up in the main parking lot where it's supervised." Let's just say, he wasn't pleasant in his response. I balled my hands into punching fists and had to take several deep breaths before I could see straight.
And then there's White Mercedes SUV. This parent has been parking in this lot nearly every day all winter without one shred of guilt. Even after being told by school administration repeatedly not to park here, she continues to do so. Last week, when she parked in my usual spot, I parked in front of her and deliberately boxed her in. I know it was immature, but I couldn't stop myself. When she returned to her car she was livid. She inched her way forward and back until she finally liberated her big honking gas guzzling SUV. And then she squealed off—with two small children in the vehicle IN A SCHOOL PARKING LOT. Nicely done White Mercedes SUV woman.

She was back the very next day, so for my own mental health I had no choice but to say something. I pulled up along side her as she was loading her kids into her car.
Me: "Excuse me," I said in a sunny voice, "You know this parking lot is for staff, and for parents like me who have children with special needs, right?"
Her: "Yes."
Me: "So you have a child with special needs?"
Her: "No. Sorry." *smiles*
What.the.hell.lady? "SORRY?!" Sorry about what? I wanted to lunge at her and slap the smile off her face. Of course I didn't. And I didn't say a word when she parked a few cars behind me the next day. In her mind, the rules simply don't apply to her and trying to convince her otherwise might cause my head to explode.

There are dozens of equally 'entitled' parents ignoring the rules by parking in this parking lot. And speeding. And blocking traffic. The parking lot is a semi-circle so when a person stops their vehicle in the middle of the driveway to run out to get their child, nobody else can get through until they get back. It makes my blood boil. As a faithful rule follower, I can't wrap my head around this kind of behaviour.

I guess the crux of the issue for me, apart from the safety component, is the misplaced sense of entitlement. It's like when able bodied people park in handicapped parking spots or hire a person with special needs to accompany them to Disney so they can jump the line. They put themselves first. Rules, respect and everyone else, be dammed. 

I'm sure once the weather warms up there will be fewer vehicles in our safe haven parking lot. But of course, I fully expect there will be a black Range Rover, a black Mercedes, a blue BMW, and of course a white Mercedes SUV parked behind me. I don't get it. I don't like it. But I won't let it get to me anymore. Their moral GPS is clearly off course. They suck and I'm sad for them.

March 11, 2015

Death To Daylight Saving Time

It seems I've been saying it wrong since the dawn of Daylight Savings Saving Time. You probably have too. It's Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time. However you say it, Daylight Saving needs to end!

Did you know that losing one hour of sleep by switching to daylight saving time has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks? According to a 2014 study anyway. The same study found that heart attack risk fell 21 percent later in the year when clocks were set back one hour.

Then there's the spike in car accidents and other mishaps that occur around the time change. Mishaps like my daughter falling off the toilet yesterday. No joke. The poor kid was so tired that she toppled off the toilet, head first into the wall. Goose egged and startled, she was not a happy camper. I guess I can't blame that incident solely on daylight saving—she was also sporting a holter heart monitor for the day and there may have been some wire entanglement involved.

Regardless, the time change messes us up! And for what good reason? Sure, there were legit reasons way back in the beginning.

So the farmer thing is a myth apparently. Changing the clocks has to do with saving energy. That's what my *hair dresser told me anyway. So what if we vow to use more candles? Or promise to switch over to energy saving light bulbs 100 percent for reals. Or to compost more? Would that allow us forgo the bi-yearly havoc reeked by trying to save daylight? Whenever I whine about changing the clocks, my husband 'suggests' I move to Saskatchewan (parts of British Columbia and most of Saskatchewan don't participate in DST). To that I say, "I'd rather live in a perpetual state of darkness than live in Saskatchewan." No offense Saskatchewanians. I don't really mean it. I'm just tired and cranky. Know why? Stupid Daylight Saving time, that's why.

So come fall when it's time to turn the clocks back, I'm not going to do it. 

Sure, I may be early or late (I'm too tired to figure out which) for a lot of things until everyone gets on board, but it'll be worth it. As for the extra hour of daylight? I'm not giving it back. 

Who's with me?! 

*A source of a lot of my information.

Related and further proof that great minds think alike...

"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Daylight Saving Time - How Is This Still A Thing?"

March 2, 2015

Spoil Your Kids Awesome


Are you spoiling your kids rotten? If your kids are demanding, self-centred and ungrateful, yet you continue to give in to their every desire, you might be.

If you set limits and model gratitude and kindness (as often as you can, obviously—some days I'm an ungrateful hag) you’ll be rearing awesome little citizens who will take, but with genuine appreciation.

Sincere 'please and thank yous' go a long way. I tell my kids that people want to do things for them because it makes them feel good. By acknowledging somebody's generosity, you make them feel even better. And friends and family will want to spend their time and energy on them because feeling good is addictive.

It really is satisfying to do something thoughtful for another person—whether it’s making them a special card, sharing a favourite toy, or giving a compliment. It just feels nice. Humans are hard wired to constantly seek pleasure. That's just science right there.

My kids lost their minds when their grandma baked them her famous lemon loaf. They gobbled it up and doled out sincere compliments about how she is the best baker and how it was so delicious and 'thank you so much for making this for us!' She was thrilled. And guess what? She baked them another loaf the next time they came over.  Nicely done kids... lemon loaf left-overs for mummy! Sometimes sweet behavior begets sweet treats.

Before you argue that I'm teaching my kids to be annoying little goody goodies. The key is sincerity. Nobody appreciates a fakey fake face. It's be real or don’t bother.

Is it possible to spoil a kid rotten? Sure, if rotten means selfish, greedy, needy, lacking in self-confidence, etc.

I try to spoil my kids awesome instead.

I love spoiling them with little surprises like random notes in their lunches or a special piece of art for their wall, made by me just for them. (Crappy art that looks like it was painted with my feet, but they don't care.) Or this craft disaster. We show them how to collect things around the house to donate to the Salvation Army, or daddy helps the kids bake a pie to surprise me with on my birthday—it's the little every day things that teach so much.

And here’s another SUPER EASY—albeit sneaky—way to spoil your kids awesome.

Sometimes when I compliment my son he'll say, "You're just saying that because you're my mom." Praise seems easier to accept and believe when it's indirect. Just a theory.

So now and then when I’m on the phone or speaking privately with a friend or my husband, but happen to know one of the kids is within ear shot, I’ll compliment them in a sincere and natural way, but so they can “accidentally” overhear. The other night I said to my husband, “Don’t you just love Seb's sense of humour? It’s so mature. He really gets the joke. He seriously cracks me up.”

My son heard. I'm sure of it, because the next morning he cracked a joke at the breakfast table and puffed up like a proud punny peacock when I busted out laughing.

So go ahead and spoil your kids awesome.
Do it for them.
Do it for you (because it feels amazing to watch your children happily thrive and develop into awesome people).
Do it for all of us soon-to-be elderly folks who will be relying on Generation Z to look after us in our golden years.