Monday, August 31, 2009

A Middle

You don't usually think of "a" middle. There is the middle of something, like the middle of your forehead; it can be a place, like middle earth; it can be an adjective, like when someone gets in the middle of a fight. In our case though we really do use it as a middle. Liam is a Middle. To be really detailed he is actually a Young-Middle. Next year he will be an Old-Middle. Then he can move on to be a Young-Old before he becomes an Old-Old.

Confused?

We used to be too!

Liam attends an independent school that started out as an experimental school in the 1970's. They don't use grades like the public system. So Liam is NOT going into grade 1 this year. He will be in the Middles class. And since they have multi-age class rooms, he will be a Young-Middle. The names were decided on by the students in the 1970s. As new classes get added to the school they get named in the same spirit. So the 3 year olds starting in the daycare class this year are being called the Smidgens.

This will be Liam's 4th year at the school. He's been a Little, a Rising 5 and a Young. It's taken me till now to be able to keep all these names straight in my head and make the corresponding link to what grade the kids would be in at any other school. Liam handles it much better. If anyone asks him what grade he is going into he automatically will say "Grade 1" because he knows that outside the school no one will understand their designations.

I can't wait to see what wonderful things Liam will learn as a Middle. As a Little he came home and wowed us with his knowledge of phosphorescent fish (once we could figure out what our 4 year old was trying to say!). As Rising 5 he taught us all about the Titanic. And last year we all got to learn about the Green House effect on our environment. The new year starts in 2 days, so we won't have long till we find out this years topic!

Friday, August 28, 2009

In the still of the night

Liam has a friend over for a sleepover. They are attempting to sleep in the tent in the back yard. We'll see how long that lasts!

We bought glow sticks and sparklers for them to play with when it got dark. Both boys were scared to hold the sparklers but enjoyed the show Hilary and I put on for them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thank God I'm a Country Boy Gal

I did not grow up listening to Country and Western music. Mostly I had my mother's old LPs from the '50s and '60s. (If you don't know what an LP is you are just TOO YOUNG!) I had a few singles on 45s of 'modern day music' you know, the '70s. I listened to musicals. I knew all the words to Grease, Oklahoma and Annie. The only Country music I did listen to was a record my Grandfather gave me. The Best of John Denver (1974). I got that record on my 6th birthday, a month before we moved to the farm and I became an actual Country Gal.

Then I become a teenager in the '80s and listened to all sorts of bad music. My first grown up album was Freeze-Frame by J. Geils (1981). Piss on the Wall is still a favorite song!

The '90s saw a 20-something year old me, living on my own and checking out the bar scenes for the first time. Madonna, Prince, C+C Music Factory and various other dance music helped the nights go by like long, strange, sexy aerobic work outs.

But then the summer of '93 happened. In our intimate circle of friends, it is still referred to as "THAT" summer, even though it's been 16 years. A lot of stuff happened that summer. Some good, some bad, some awful, some strange.

Very strange.

THAT summer 4 20-something-year old lesbians ended up working in a straight Country and Western bar in Parkdale, Toronto. In the early '90s Parkdale was a pretty scary place. In fact I think it was the second worse area in Toronto for crime, drugs, prostitution and murder. In other words, a perfect place for 4 young women to hang out at night.

There were actually 2 bars, side by side. The smaller one had a few tables, some bar stools, a pool table and barrels of peanuts that you could eat and just drop the shells on the floor. The bigger one had a front room of tables and a back room with a dance floor and stage. During the day and on week nights I worked either at the small bar or at the front of the big one. The big bar's appeal to customers was the $0.90 draft. If you ever been a waitress or bartender you know that this translates into a $0.10 tip. It was not a very lucrative job.

The good money was made on Friday and Saturday nights. The back room would be packed, filled with smoke, leering dirty men with too many hands and karaoke. Country and Western Karaoke. My main job on those nights was "Shooter Girl". I had a metal tray that held test tubes of various concoctions hung around my neck, conveniently balance on my, then, very ample bosom. That may have been why Friday and Saturday nights were much more lucrative.

And during all of this strangeness something happened. It was a slow transition, so I didn't really notice it at first. It started with occasional toe-tapping. Then I would catch myself signing along every now and then. Finally there would be the smile that creeps across your face when you hear a song you really liked. And it hit me.

I liked Country and Western music!

Now I don't like ALL country music. I like some old stuff, I like novelty songs, I like some occasional new stuff. And since that summer I haven't really listened to Country and Western. I still love John Denver, I have Dwight Yoakum's "Looking for a Hit" cd on my I-Pod right now. And Hilary recently introduced me to the Dixie Chicks' "Earls Gotta Die". Now that's a song that gets this country gal's toes tapping!.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Aunt Becky Goes to Canada

Aunt Becky over at mommywantsvodka recently posted a contest where she sent out her business cards left over from Blogger and asked people to do something fun with them and then post a blog about what we did with them. Here is my contribution:

video

Be sure to check out everyone else's entries here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On being an Aunt

Growing up as an only child I figured that I would never be an Aunt. Of course it never dawned on me that I could become one through marriage. And since shacking up with Hilary I have had that chance, as we have a wonderful nephew, Noah, who is one year younger then Liam.

Unfortunately since we live on opposite coasts of a pretty big country, and they sometimes live in Japan, I don't get to be that dotting Auntie that I imagined. You know, like Monica from "Friends", when Rachel and Ross have the baby and Monica declares "I will always have gum".

The converse of that of course is that Liam's Aunt (Noah's mom) doesn't get to dote on Liam either.

And then it hit me yesterday as I was walking home (my best time for random thoughts).

Liam has another Aunt, who lives on this coast, in fact only a few hours away. But adoption has interfered with that relationship. When most people think about adoption they never go past the "triad" - child, first parent (and even then most only think about first mother, not father) and adoptive parents. Yet there are so many other connections that can be lost when adoption enters the picture: Aunts, Uncles, cousins, Grandparents.

Open adoption is a great step towards keeping those connections forged. Letting children grow up knowing ALL of their extended family, seeing their traits reflected in their people, being loved by many.

My other random thought yesterday was to ponder if I am an Aunt through my own first family. I know that my 1/2 sister Madelaine does not have any children, but I also have 4 1/2 siblings from my father's side. They are all 20+ years older then I am, so it's quite conceivable that they had children who now have children of their own.

This thought of even more lost family connections has got me thinking, once again, about whether or not I should try to find and contact my first father's family. Something I will have to ponder some more.

And my last random thought yesterday?

Aunt Andy just sounds funny! Whether you say it as ANT or Awnt (which makes me want to say Awndy instead of Andy) neither rolls off the tongue very easily. Auntie doesn't improve it nor does Aunt Andrea. I think I will switch to my French Canadian background and declare my self "Ma tante Andy"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rear Window


There are many reasons that I don't get to see very many movies at the theater these days. The tickets are expensive, the popcorn is expensive (and yes, I HAVE to have popcorn at the movies), the baby sitter is expensive, the selection isn't always worth the money.

Gee, I think there might be a theme here.



But another BIG reason that I wait for the DVDs to come out is because I have a slight hearing loss. It's not significant enough to need hearing aides (though Hilary might disagree with that). The range of sounds that I have the hardest time hearing just happen to be the range of most people's speaking voices. Add in back ground noise and music sound tracks and I miss 1/2 of what is going on. At home I can use Closed Captioning or the wonderful sub-titles that come with most DVDs.

So I skip seeing a lot of movies at the show, which really sucks, because Hilary and I love to go to the movies. Before Liam was born we could easily see 3 movies in 1 weekend, especially once the Oscar nominations were out.

This weekend however, Liam was going to a movie birthday party to see G-Force. The timing was right that Hilary and I could see Julie and Julia at the same time. Being a foodie family we have been looking forward to this movie for a while. My concern was that I wouldn't be able to hear well enough to be able to understand Meryl Streep's British accent.

Then we hit pay dirt! Hilary stumbled across "Rear-Window Captioning"
On the way into the theater, viewers pick up a reflective plastic panel mounted on a flexible stalk. The panel sits in a seat cup holder or on the floor adjacent to the seat. A large LED display is mounted on a rear wall that displays caption characters in mirror image. Viewers move the panels into position (usually below the movie screen) so they can read the reflected captions and watch the movie. It is sometimes necessary to sit in a certain area of the theater to obtain the best angle for reflecting the backward text emitted from the back of the theater on the panel while also being able to view the movie at the same time.


BRILLIANT! The only downfall is that they only have it for 1 of the screens at our local multi-screened theater. Luckily it happend that Julie and Julia was playing there so we got to test it out. It worked like a charm.

I need to save up my pennies because I'm back in business for seeing (and understanding) movies at the theater!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friends re-visited

I mentioned in a post a few days ago about Liam's friend who had moved out west. We got a call out of the blue on Friday night that they were in town! We got to spend Saturday with them. Even though the boys hadn't seen each other in over a year, they picked right back up and were best buds once more!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Orphans treated so differently

I came across this letter to the editor of a major Canadian Newspaper. Juanita Lobo sums up this tragedy much better then I could.

Orphans treated so differently

Jul 26, 2009 04:30 AM

Two reports in Wednesday's Greater Toronto section provide an interesting perspective on our values.

Page 1 tells a sad tale of Fatima Desrosiers, a single mother awaiting deportation to a country she has no ties to after being in Canada for 22 years. As a victim of a flawed adoption system, her life is truly tragic. An orphan, she was a ward of the Crown from the age of 12. She was bounced from foster homes to group homes, she is illiterate and has lived in at least 27 different homes. No one bothered to register her as a permanent resident so our immigration officials are working on her deportation to Brazil.

Page 8 has a heartwarming story of Wiggles, an orphaned pig. This more fortunate orphan was offered a home by no less than 40 sanctuaries and individuals after undergoing knee and leg surgery. The Humane Society shortlisted 12 sanctuaries before selecting one that would provide the best home.

We seem to place significantly greater value on the life of an orphaned piglet than that of a human victim of uncaring adoption and child care agencies.

Juanita Lobo, Oakville



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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Multi-Media

Liam has fulfilled his goal of being in 4 types of media!



First he was on TV with his class at school:








Then his adoption story was featured in a book (along with pictures of him which he was very excited to point out to the staff at the book store)













Then a story about the book ran in our local paper along with a half page colour picture of our family.















And on Friday he was selected to be on the radio.

101.3 The Bounce had a booth at the movie theater and Liam wandered over to check it out. The announcer asked him if would go on the air and tell everyone what movie he was there to see (Aliens in the Attic). He got to wear great big earphones and hold the microphone. (who knew that I should take my camera with me to the movies!)







Now he just needs to be in a major motion picture and he'll have done it all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lost Friends and New Friends

I lost my first friend when I was 9. She and her family moved to Montreal. I went to a very small school; there were 10 of us in my grade. 4 girls and 6 boys that all started together in kindergarten and pretty much stayed together until grade 8. There were a few changes over the years: Sonia moved away, Anne skipped a grade, a few new faces would join for a year or two. But for the most part we had a lot of stability in our group of friends. Outside of school I didn't have any friends unless they were the children of my parents friends. We lived in the country and there were no other children to be seen. So it was not surprising that I found it difficult to make new friends since the opportunities were few and far between.

Liam however has already "lost" 2 friends and is about to lose a 3rd. Life is much more nomadic and international today then it was when I was a kid. Liam's friend Aiden and his family are moving to Australia next month; his friend Timothy and family moved to Saskatchewan when the boys were 3 and Madison is now living in Cape Breton.

Up until about 6 months ago Liam was very shy around new kids. He would make me go up to them at the park to ask them to play with him. Last year summer camp was mostly an awful experience for him as he went to different places each week and the age ranges of the kids was HUGE (6-12 years old, way too big of a range, especially if you are the 6 year old).

This year we tried to cut down on the number of different camps he went to and found ones with better age ranges (7-9). He even did one week of camp at his school where he got to spend the week with buddies from his class. At the other camps he was coming home and telling us that he had made friends, but could never remember their names and didn't really seem all that keen on them. Until this week.

Monday he came home from his first day at "Super Spy Camp" and declared he had a new best friend named "C" and that "C" liked Mario and had a DS and loves Transformers and on and on and on. "C" sounded perfect! Then Tuesday we heard more about "C". Hilary and I were both intrigued as this was the first time that Liam seemed to be cultivating a friendship all on his own. But alas "Super Spy Camp" is only 4 days long so we were preparing for the disappointment of another lost friend.

Turns out that "C" had a lot more in common with Liam then just toys and games. He too has a lot of trouble making friends and had gone home each night nattering on about this boy named Liam who was his new best friend. So on the last day of camp the boys exchanged phone numbers and made sure that their mums met at the end of the day.

"C"'s mom was beyond ecstatic that he had made a friend. "C" has autism, on the high functioning end of the spectrum, but has never made or had a friend before. We don't know what clicked with Liam but they are 2 peas in a pod. They called us up last night and asked us to go to a movie with them. Liam bounced for a full hour before their arrival "Are they here yet? When will they be here?" Once we got to the theater "C" and Liam held hands to walk through the lot and were inseparable for the rest of the night. We all came back to our house after the movie and they boys just kept playing. I don't think I've ever seen Liam spend so much one on one time with another kid without there being at least one minor disagreement or rough spot.

Plans have been made for the next play date and thus a new friendship was born!