Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Minute Poem for Kennedy

My niece, Kennedy, has to read a 2 minute poem in front of her class - one that she got off the Internet. So, I thought I would write her one that she could share if she wanted too.


A Poem for my Niece

Hello again,
It’s me.
Writing to you from far away.

Did I ever tell you that my whole entire life,
I’ve loved poetry?
Did I ever tell you how poetry
And I met?

Well, it all happened one day,
A long time ago
Before you were born.
My sister and I had a fight.
An argument.
A disagreement.
A grumble.
I stormed off to my room,
Took my journal out,
Found a pen,
And threw the ink across the paper
In a ugly rage.
All the words I couldn’t say to her
When she made me mad,
Spilled out.
It was only a few lines,
But I felt somehow that getting the words out
Made my world a little better.
I wasn’t upset anymore,
Or angry.
I stopped pouting, and
Went on with my day.

I don’t even remember what the fight was about.
A television show?
The last can of pop?
Not paying attention –
Or wanting too much attention?
Whatever it was doesn’t matter now,
It was so long ago.
What does matter is that
Poetry came into my room,
Held me up and gave me courage
when all courage seemed so far away.

Over the years poetry came and went in my life,
Sometimes I read the poems
of Frost, or Whitman, or, Eliot, or Auden –
great poets of the Modern age.

Sometimes I go further back to
Blake, and Shelley,
Wordsworth, or Byron.
Those old Romantics who wrote about nature and love,
And how one’s life can be altered forever
By true and utter beauty.

And the things I could tell you about Canadian poets –
Milton Acorn, Gwendolyn MacEwen,
Raymond Souster, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje,
George Elliot Clark and Dennis Lee,
To name a few...
We Canadians can hold our own,
of that, I am certain.

Other times, I keep company with poets,
Friends of mine who are inspired by words
And are writing, not for fame and fortune,
But because nothing else will say it right.
For them, poetry is perfect.
To them, poetry is the perfect vessel
For their ideas.

And what of you and your friends,
My niece who lives so far away?
What will poetry mean to you?
Will it only be an assignment –
Something that has to be done?
Or, will you turn to poetry
Because it’s in your heart too?

Whatever it is,
Whatever you decide to do,
It will be perfect,
Because it comes from you.

Love,

Aunt Carol

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Took 'em Skating. . .

Okay, so we're Canadian and my lads have only been on ice skates twice (three years ago). Is that so wrong?

I've actually been feeling a little bad that I haven't taken them out more - that, and Kieran saying he really wanted to learn to skate - made me get out of the house and take them to the local rink.

I told them we were going "falling," not "skating." They laughed. I was serious!

Kieran said, "it's a really good thing I'm a fast learner."

Liam said, "yeah, and it's a really good thing I'm a fast healer!"

$11.00 later, and Kieran and Liam and I are on the ice. They did great. I was expecting to be there 20 minutes, tops. I expected to hear about sore feet and cold hands. I expected frustrations. But they were real troopers. No whining. No big falls. They were just great. An hour and a half later I had to drag them off the ice, swearing (scouts honour) that I would bring them back again soon.

My Own Memories . . .

One of my favourite memories of skating was formed during cold winter evenings in Owen Sound, Ontario. Most parks had outdoor rinks that were packed during the day with boys playing hockey. . . the girls were on the edges trying to be graceful.

When I was twelve or so I used to take my dog for walks in the evening. I'd take my skates with me, and we'd stop at the park when nobody else was around. I'd twirl around on the ice pretending I was a great figure skater. I'd skate until my feet hurt, then I'd lie on the ice and look up at the stars.

I wasn't a great figure skater. I remember taking lessons when I was 4, and mostly I remember falling and having to sit with my mom while I cried. When my dad got sick, mom didn't have the time, energy or money to keep up with lessons, so I never took them again. I'm not bitter or sad about that - my memory of skating alone at the park in the evenings is too sweet. Those daydreams fueled my desire to become a writer, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leprechauning. . .

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! We're part Irish - my Great Grandparents came from Islandmagee - and St. Patrick's Day has always been special for me. My Paternal Grandmother would always send a card for March 17, even if she forgot our birthdays! Incidentally, "Leprechauning" is my new word for what we do every St. Patrick's Day.

This morning we woke up to the strangest message:





The leprechaun even left a recipe and some ingredients by our CrockPot:




And, thankfully, we had to take the recycling out from under the sink in order to find an important clue:

All Irish roads lead to the gold, and the boys like chocolate gold even better than the real stuff:



Aidan wonders if leprechauns are real. . . he's looking kind of skeptical

"Oh, sure, why not?"
Aidan, on the lookout for more leprechauns:

I think the leprechaun got me to do way more work today than normal. By 9:00 AM, I'd made Irish stew, apple pie, and took out the recycling. Good thing we have friends coming over for supper tonight!
And I should add that the big boys had so much fun looking for leprechaun gold that they put all the clues back so that our guests can go on the hunt too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What the Little Stinker has been up to. . .



This week has brought a real change in Aidan's behaviour. He has turned from our sweet, lovable, agreeable little billy goat into a full grown, stubborn, ranting ram. I'm shocked. I really am!

He has been having tantrums at supper time for the last couple of days. When I try to put him in his chair, he arches his back, lashes out, kicks, and yells like a banshee. His yell shakes my world, it truly does. Yesterday he kicked his bowl of applesauce which landed all over me. Tonight we gave him his first time out. In fact we gave him 6.

We removed him from the table, told him he was going into a time-out for yelling and kicking. He screamed all the way there. When he wanted up I asked, "will you eat now?" "Will you sit nicely?" "No kicking?" When he nodded to each of my requests I picked him up and tried again. It took 6 trips to time-out. Then finally, the pay-off! He let me put him back in the chair without arching, screaming, thrashing out. We all praised him, "oh, good boy, sitting nicely, nice feet - no kicking"...etc.

He clapped, said, "Yay" and ate his supper with lots of cheers and smiling going on.

I must say, it was a real battle of the wills tonight, and boy can he be a stinker when he sets his mind to it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Irish Storytime

Oh, what fun I had this morning - I went into Liam's kindergarten class to tell Irish stories, songs and rhymes. I was really pleased that the story-song I wrote, The Baker from Islandmagee went over so well - I had props and the kids sang the chorus with me. When we were finished that one, they wanted it again! That's a good sign.

Last week I sent that story/song off to a publisher in the States with the hopes of seeing it published as a picture book. I'm excited to hear back from them, but the process takes so long - 3-4 months to hear back (lots of nailbiting going on in the meantime). If they do accept it for publication it can take a year to 18 months before it's on the shelves.

Getting a children's picture book published seems like winning the lottery these days. Every parent/teacher/librarian/grandparent . . . etc. has a great idea for a story, and we the unpublished are competing against the already published, or the already famous. Billy Crystal, Fergie, Seinfeld, Jamie Lee Curtis (to name a few) all have children's picture books published. For the unknown like me trying to break into the industry, it can be incredibly discouraging. But, I'm not giving up! My goal is to publish by the time I'm 92 - so a couple of years to get a foot in the door shouldn't stop me, right?

Maybe the luck of the Irish will be with me this time. I'm searching for 4 leaf clovers, lucky charms, and maybe I'll get to kiss the Blarney Stone one day!

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle
by bill barber found on Flickr Commons

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Included

I've been thinking a lot about inclusion - and I've got a little anecdote to share.

First off, I have to say that I'm usually overly aware that others may have questions and concerns about Aidan. They may not understand that he is such a capable little boy, and that in many ways he just seems younger than he is. So, the small story I'm about to share rather surprised me - mostly because I temporarily forgot . . .

Since moving to the Island, we've met a lot of wonderful people. Actually, we've met wonderful people wherever we've lived. But, since having Aidan, it's interesting to see who opens up conversations with us and who doesn't. Old women in the grocery store come up to Aidan to touch his cheek, or pat his hair, or just smile at him and listen to his talk. We've had positive receptions everywhere we go.

Before Christmas, Aidan was accepted into a daycare for one day a week. I'm not working right now, but I wanted to get a foot in the door at a good daycare for when I do go back to work. I also thought it would be great for Aidan to be with kids his developmental age, as he's usually with the older boys and their friends. Anyhow, we got funding permission to have an aide hired to work one-on-one with Aidan, but the daycare hasn't been able to find a worker for the one day. We were told he would have to have a worker in place first, so we have yet to start there.

Fast forward to 5 weeks ago. I started going to a gym 2 - 3 days a week. They have a little drop-in child minding room (and I do mean little - I think it was a broom closet!) During my first workout, I walked Aidan down the hall to the child minding room, and it struck me that I'd just assumed it would be okay to drop him off. I looked at him. What if the worker thinks an assistant is needed? I'd not even thought to check first! I walked down the hallway rather disappointed in myself for my lack of planning.

I got to the room and met the very young woman (fresh out of high school) who works there. As soon as she met Aidan, she welcomed him. I asked if she was "okay" working with Aidan - to which she said, "Oh yeah, I used to babysit a little girl with Down syndrome. No problem."

Big sigh of relief. Laura is wonderful with Aidan. He is always happy to see her, and loves the little room and all the toys. Mostly he talks on his hand phone, but at least he's happy. Laura has no idea how grateful I am. Truly. I couldn't believe my assumption, and I really couldn't believe my luck at having found such an open-minded young woman to work with my sweet son.

Thanks, Laura!