Archive - 2016

1
Let’s Put Libraries Back at the Heart of School
2
Small Kids, Big Worries
3
Tiny Dancer
4
The Solution For Not So Sweet Feet
5
TIFF Kids—special films for special kids
6
Family Films and Fun: 2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival AND digiPlaySpace
7
“What do you DO exactly?”
8
Money Talks …
9
Her Special Squad
10
When Doctors Make Mistakes

Let’s Put Libraries Back at the Heart of School

My son and I started the Harry Potter series together when he was little and his passion for reading (and writing!) took off from there. My daughter has learning difficulties, but it hasn’t impeded her reading. She often sneaks the light back on after bedtime to read. She looks at the pictures for clues and makes up the words when she can’t sound them out. Some nights she reads in a loud whisper to our cat and falls asleep mid-sentence. My children are lucky—they have both the passion and the opportunity to read. Their bedrooms, their classrooms, and their school library are filled with books. They get books for Christmas and they use their birthday money to shop for more books. This isn’t the case for a lot of kids. They may have the passion for literature, but not the resources. It’s unfortunate and wrong. My first few years as a teacher were spent at a high needs elementary school in Toronto. My classroom was sparse and the school library was outdated and depleted. It was frustrating. My students wanted to read. They NEEDED to read. “The imagination developed through early literacy is an important part of children’s overall growth, fostering cognitive and social development and ingenuity—the building blocks[…]

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Small Kids, Big Worries

Anxiety is a pain. Whether we come by it genetically or situationally, it hits all of us at various times in our lives. I’ve written about my struggle with worry—as a parent of a child with a variety of medical issues, I worried about our girl a lot. I looked too far ahead and fretted about the what ifs. I couldn’t stop the catastrophizing.  When you live in the past or in the future, you miss the present, and that’s where all good stuff happens. So I did the cognitive behavioural therapy exercises and it made a world of difference. Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments where I freak the hell out, but I know how to reign it in. This whole being mindful thing is a work in progress.  Adults coping with anxiety is one thing, but what about children with anxiety? Watching your child worry is like being poked in the stomach with a sharp stick.  I’ll unabashedly tell you about my battle with my worry monster, but sharing someone else’s story is offside. But I can say that having a sibling with disabilities can create fear and anxiety for good reason. Watching your sibling choke and[…]

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Tiny Dancer

My daughter is a dancer. Yes, she mixes up the steps and goes in the wrong direction at least half the time, but she doesn’t care one bit. She gets distracted and stops mid-step to wave to me or to watch herself in the mirror. And sometimes she trips and falls, but she always gets back up, smiling. She loves to dance. And lucky for us, she can.  We had been at another dance studio, but out of the blue the owners decided that a class for students with special needs was too time consuming, too much work, just too much effort. It reminds me of this story. So our tiny dancers were displaced and disillusioned.  But we’ve fallen back in step and been welcomed with open arms at our new studio.  Avery’s dance teacher is warmth and encouragement and inspiration. Miss Stephanie treats her special students the way treats all of her dancers. She pushes just enough and cheers them on. She’s choreographed the most wonderful dance for the girls to perform at the spring showcase—on the big stage in pink sparkly costumes, with grown up hair and fancy make-up. They’ll be dancing to Superstar by Love Inc—a perfect anthem[…]

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The Solution For Not So Sweet Feet

My son’s sweet baby feet smelled of freshly baked bread and sunshine and blades of sweet spring grass. Then he turned twelve and the distinct baby feet smell soured into a distinct…stink. In case you think I’m being awful for discussing my boy’s smelly feet, I assure you I asked his permission before sharing. He thinks watching his mother squirm and gag at his post basketball game shoe parfume is funny. It is not, for I am highly sensitive to smells. Seriously, I can sniff out a moist sweat sock hidden under a pile of laundry from a mile away. I’m the Sherlock Holmes of smelling. As vile as my son’s shoes can get, he has nothing on his dad’s size 12 odour generators. My husband is very active. He teaches Phys Ed and not from the sidelines—he gets out there with the kids and works up a sweat. And when some of that sweat pools in his shoes, the aroma can reach a nine—ranked on a rank scale of one (baby feet) to ten (a family of dead rats decaying under the porch in the heat of summer). And what of my shoes? Obviously they smell like daisies 24/7. My husband thought he[…]

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TIFF Kids—special films for special kids

  My eldest child has been making short films since he was old enough to use an iPad. One of his earliest was an iMovie project called, “A Video For A Special Sister.” He showed it class by class at his school in an effort to teach his peers what it’s like to have a sibling with special needs. The technique was amateur, but his message was mature beyond his years. Is it possible to be a doting stage mother if my child is behind the camera? Anyway, like some sort of cosmic cinematic kismet, a fitting showcase is coming to the TIFF Kids International Film Festival this year! My son and I are going to view the Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase—short films created for young people by young people.   This year’s theme challenges young filmmakers (grades 4-6) to create an onscreen representation of a disability. It will be interesting for my mini Spielberg to watch how his peers approach filmmaking, editing, and story telling. I wish he had known about this earlier and could’ve entered. He’d have won for sure! That was my dramatic stage mother voice again, wasn’t it? Speaking of disabilities (seamless segue, I know)[…]

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Family Films and Fun: 2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival AND digiPlaySpace

I think I may have given birth to the next George Lucas. My son has been making videos since he was little. #toddlersandtripods From early on he’s scripted mini movies, created stop motion animation and made documentary style shorts about topics he cares about like animals and basketball and Star Wars. His films have become more complex and creative. For now it’s a hobby, but perhaps it will turn into a life passion? C’mon kid—mama wants to rub elbows with Tina Fey and her squad. When we were invited to preview this year’s digiPlaySpace my son actually passed on a basketball game so he could come along. He has big hoop dreams, so this was clearly something that piqued his interest. If you live in the GTA and have children in the 3-13 age range, The 2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival and digiPlaySpace are a must-see-must-do! I had no idea all of this family-centered entertainment was right in my back yard. If you’ve never been, here’s the scoop: The TIFF Kids Film Festival will be presenting 139 films from 35 countries. All the screenings and events take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, April 8 to 24, 2016.[…]

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“What do you DO exactly?”

When people ask what I do for a living I usually just stare back at them, blinking stupidly before I answer. Then I explain awkwardly that I used to be a teacher. Though I haven’t taught in years, for some reason I often still lead with that. Maybe I want people to know that I went to school and learned how to BE something legit—as though being a “Content Creator” is a made up career. I can assure you that working from home as a Content Creator is a real gig involving skills I never anticipated would fall within my scope of expertise. In fact, a few areas within my job description didn’t even exist ten years ago. I started my first blog in 2006 shortly after our second child was born and it became apparent she was going to have some medical and developmental challenges. I left my career as an elementary school teacher to stay home to care for her. While she napped, I wrote about our life. Forever in Mom Genes was a place for me to dump my thoughts—worries, bliss, fears, triumphs, stories about our family, the challenges of parenting a child with disabilities, and anything[…]

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Her Special Squad

Kids can be cruel. They can sniff out “different” from a mile away, and sometimes they tease or isolate anyone who doesn’t fit in. As a teacher I’ve seen it. And as a parent, I’ve worried about it. But so far we’ve been blessed. I’m not a religious person so using the word blessed seems hypocritical, but it’s a fitting way to describe our experience with our daughter’s peer group. Our child stands out in class—her delayed speech, the EA who shadows her around school, her struggle to keep up, and her inability to understand—these all set her apart. But instead of shutting her out, her classmates circle around her and make her feel special in a “you belong” kind of way. Her teacher told me her friends actually bicker over who gets to take Avery to the office or who gets to partner with her for a project or stand beside her in line. I know Avery feels it. She adores her friends and talks about them with such love. As a mum, I am grateful for these compassionate kids. Their parents are obviously teaching them to treat others with respect and kindness. For that, we (personally but also[…]

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When Doctors Make Mistakes

A question in a Facebook group and the memory of that doctor and what she did, or more accurately—did not do—came flooding back. And now I’m raging. Unlike another doctor in our past whose negligence also put our daughter’s life in jeopardy, I never got closure with this doctor. Let me back up. When our daughter was a few months old we knew something was wrong. In addition to her missing key developmental milestones, she stopped feeding. This photo was taken around the time Avery started refusing to nurse. These babies are the same age. Avery is the one in pink. Obviously. She was so tiny in comparison. Little peanut. This picture makes me so sad. But also, it makes me laugh. Hello, Andrew on the right? Breastfeeding was a struggle from day one. Poor suck, tongue tied, persistent thrush—these were the reasons given at the breastfeeding clinic. We eventually switched to bottle feeding hoping it would help. It didn’t. Babies are supposed to grow and thrive. Avery was neither growing nor thriving. She was fading away and we begged for help. Our family doctor who was on our side from the beginning sent us to see a well respected[…]

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