Our social worker called today to ask if we would like to go for a ride with Santa in his private jet (Telus corporation's jet). We're very excited about it - and can't wait to see Aidan's face when he meets Santa. The big boys are thrilled too; they can't wait to dress up in their dressy clothes.
I love opportunities like this. A chance to share Aidan with the community. A chance to celebrate together. A chance for the big boys to be so very proud of their little brother.
I love Santa Claus. I always have, and I always will.
When I was teaching I had a little guy in my kindergarten class who said his mom was putting up the tree that day, so that when he got home, it would be finished and waiting for him.
Downhearted. That's how I felt, because I knew the mom was wanting everything to be perfect. Just so. But, in her quest for perfection, what message was her little boy getting?
I can't imagine not having my boys in on the fun. It's the process that they'll remember when they're older. Not the final product. They'll take out the ornaments year after year and say, "oh, I remember this one." And yes, an ornament was dropped and broken....but we got out the glue and put it back together. Because that's what we do in our family....we don't throw away what isn't perfect. The imperfect things still matter to us.
The boys had a lovely Halloween. We went out and about with a family that moved away this summer....but they came back for the night to let the boys trick-or-treat in their old neighbourhood.
Aidan's first experience with going door-to-door was adorable. The first house we went to, he walked in, took his hat off and sat in their big comfy chair. He didn't quite understand why we left so quickly, but then he got the hang of it (and I did too....I held him back.)
Aidan's Preschool class went for a trip to a local farm to pick a pumpkin out of the pumpkin patch. He was quite the trooper...a lot of walking, a lot waiting, and a very bumpy hayride. The woman in the third photo is Aidan's integrated service worker. She's amazing, warm and lovely, and all the kids in the preschool love her.
That's my cousin Sharon. I used to be the little kid listening to her tell stories to the adults about teaching on a First Nations Reserve. I probably looked like I wasn't listening, because I was playing with Barbie Dolls, or colouring; but I was. I grew up wanting to be like Sharon.
In '93 I moved out to Saskatchewan and got to know Sharon from an adult's point of view. Nothing really changed, I still looked up to her. I wish I could be a fly on her classroom wall, 'cause I think I could learn a whole whack about teaching from her.
See the guy holding Aidan in the photo below? He was only two when I moved to Saskatchwan. I lived with Sharon for a couple of months helping to look after her kids while the school year ended. They lived in the middle of the woods, and I used to be afraid that a bear would eat him.
I am so proud of Daniel. When he holds Aidan, you can see the kind of person he is. Caring. Kind. Sweet. One of the good ones.
When I go to work at the preschool (it's a co-op), we have to go in extra early to help clean and set up. On those days, Aidan gets to be the special helper. One of the duties that goes along with that is to ring the school bell when it's time for the rest of the children to come in.
I was so proud of him! He is really transitioning well into the program and new routine. I wish I had this on video. I also wish I had him on video as we walked to the preschool. I gave him his little cloth library bag to carry, and he giggled all the way down the sidewalk - swinging his library bag, holding my hand, and incredibly happy.
I love him so much, my heart is bursting with it :o)
My goodness...I've been a bad, bad blogger. So much going on, but not writing it down.
Okay, here is a little glimpse at a tiny scene of the day...
Today at preschool Aidan followed the arrival procedure without a fight. We waited outside until the duty kids rang the bells. Then, we entered the little red schoolhouse, hung his bag and coat up. Changed shoes, and washed hands. Then he put his name on the fridge door (without being guided to do so) before proceeding to play
Today was day 5, and during all of our previous visits I have had to hold him back from running in to play so that he could learn the routine. Previously he cried, twisted, turned, and made me feel like an evil, bad, horrible troll that wasn't letting him cross the bridge to get to the other side.
This has been my crazy calling over the last few months. Painting, making art cards, approaching business to sell art cards, starting The Little Gull blog, working with an amazing art printer - Scott at Art Ink Print, planning with the local Down Syndrome Society, signing up for an ETSY account, making signage for stores.
I couldn't be happier. Really. The Little Gull feeds my soul and makes me feel I am a part of something bigger than just me. It's a good feeling.
I still get nervous approaching businesses, but so far they have been very kind. One bookstore owner told me she was going out of art cards, that they simply didn't have room for them. But, with regards to The Little Gull Project she said, "But this is different. Let's go for it."
A friend told me there's a grey whale near the marina and that we don't have to pay a gazillion dollars to go on a whale watching tour. I have yet to meet a whale, and I've always wanted to, so tomorrow...
We're going on a whale hunt.
Going on a whale hunt.
But we're not afraid.
No, we're not afraid.
Actually, James and I tried once already to see it. We had a babysitter in, and drove down to the marina, but the fog came in. Couldn't spot a grey whale in the fog. We listened hard for a while, but didn't have patience to wait for long. Plus, it was a little creepy. We couldn't see five feet ahead of us, and the bells were clanging on the boats. AND, there were horror movie scenes playing through my head....so we toddled off to the pub.
But tomorrow, it will be me and the boys, and hopefully a whale. No fog, fingers crossed. We have staying power, don't we boys?
Saskatoon, city of bridges. See the grey concrete bridge in the distance? That's the University Bridge. I used to walk it in the early mornings to go to campus. Let me tell you, there were some freezing mornings; and haunting too. The wind would whistle through the open spaces and make you crazy by the time you got to the other side.
We're trying, really we are. . . to take Aidan to the potty more regularly. We've had a few successful moments, like two days ago when he pooped and clapped and cheered for himself. Then yesterday he sat on the potty with his diaper still on and pooped. Clapped and cheered still. I guess you couldn't say he was wrong, but...not as I expected.
Today I watched as he sat on the potty, then picked up his pants and put them on. Then he stopped. Looked down at the floor and saw his diaper. Took his pants back off, and tried to put his diaper on.
Things are clicking, I went out and bought pullups tonight.
We are enjoying the summer, thoroughly and without hesitation. Our motto is, "see a park, stop and play." So, after Aidan's physio yesterday we hung out at a very cool park down by the ocean. The boys had such fun running, climbing and zipping.... Luckily I got them to slow down enough to take a couple of photos of them together. I can't believe how big they are getting! Aidan looks so grown up with his big brothers. Especially now that he's wearing his glasses.
And...things seem to be clicking for him. While grocery shopping he signed talk, talk, talk, talk, until I realized he was trying to tell me something. Then, he signed cookie. I was so happy I squealed and jumped up and down. This is the first time he's done that to get my attention...it's usually the other way around. I sign "talk to me" to prompt him, then he copies/answers my query.
Today, he put one of his socks on BY HIMSELF! He worked at it for such a long time, but he didn't get frustrated - and he looked so very proud of himself. Another big hip-hip hooray (from me) that shook the house and most likely woke the neighbourhood.
Finally, finally, finally. Aidan wore his glasses while watching Elmo. Aidan wore his glasses while eating. Aidan wore his glasses while sitting on the deck enjoying the flowers. Aidan wore his glasses.
Then. Mommy. Stepped. On. Them.
Oh the shame.
Going to make a visit with the optical dispensary to see if they can be fixed...and will order a second pair. Maybe in neon yellow so they don't blend in with the hardwood. Good idea, no?
We're in Saskatchewan enjoying the big sky and bright sun. Aidan is thrilled to be in the large house with the lovely back yard. The big boys spent a couple of hours this morning pretending they were Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. They looked for clues, interviewed people, and solved crimes. It was nice to see them getting along and using their imaginations.
I brought my paints with me and have been setting up at the kitchen table after the boys go to bed. It's nice to have Baba's critical eye helping me make the big decisions. One painting has been painted over so many times the paint is thicker than the canvas.
This weekend we transformed ourselves into pirates for the annual Variety charity called Boat for Hope.
People donate time, energy and their boats to take people with disabilities (and their families) for a boating adventure. This year we got to ride in a Whale Watching Boat. Our captain gave up a day of work to volunteer his time for this amazing charity. There were whales out...and he was missing it...but he didn't care. He took his two children along, and together they experienced the joy of coming together as a community for a great cause.
I told them how very important the charity was to our family. How Variety Heart in Winnipeg helped us to get to Edmonton to get Aidan's heart fixed when he was only five months old. How we'll always be grateful.
When we docked and were leaving. Our Captain (wish I knew his name) gave Aidan a little pat on the shoulder and said, "take care of your mom, big guy."
I wanted to cry. I guess I have a soft spot for pirates.
I think this little painting is finished, but after I live with it for a few days I might add/change some things.
For now, I'm quite proud of it! I was inspired by a little clearing near where I live. I stopped the vehicle on the roadside and took photos. My lads thought I'd flipped my lid, but that seems to be my new normal.
For some reason, I thought of a knight, a horse, and an apple.
Once I got going, I realized the big tree in the middle of the clearing would take away from the characters, so I'm saving that for another painting.
I've been painting with acrylics since Christmas. Have gifted six paintings to friends, and friends of friends. I wandered into the local children's bookstore with Aidan one day....just so happened to have the Owl and Pussycat with me, and asked if they would be interested in selling them.
The first thing the owner asked was if I had a card.
Added that to the to-do list.
I took his card and gave him my e-mail address. Thanked him. Left. Didn't really think I'd hear back.
One week later owner of said store e-mailed to say they would love to sell them. The nursery-rhyme-inspired ones.
Very emotional tonight thinking of a little girl I've never met. Carly, age 8 passed away unexpectedly today. Many of us in the Down syndrome community are heavy hearted tonight as we think about Carly's family.
It doesn't seem right,
it doesn't seem fair,
and it doesn't make sense.
This heaviness of grief,
should make time stop.
Should make the world hush...
but it never does,
and it never will,
life keeps moving all around us.
Good fortune to have a playdate yesterday at an acreage near the school. It was a beautiful day, the kids all got along, we held three-day-old chicks, fed an old miniature horse, caught frogs by the pond, jumped on the trampoline, hit homeruns, and spun around in the fresh air. Truly blessed to have met such nice families here.... and for Aidan, even the lane was exciting!
So, Aidan was on the TV not once, but twice this week. Both times for the Music Therapy program. The Ronald McDonald House Charity just donated $30000 to build a multi-sensory room for children with critical illnesses to have a studio to relax in.
While Aidan and his friend Sarah are not critically ill (thank goodness, touch wood...), Johanne asked that they be at the media event to help accept the cheque. Aidan and Sarah will be able to use the room if they are having a bad day or simply needing a calming space (the therapy room is quite stimulating with all of the instruments). I think she chose our kids as opposed to someone who is terminally ill to go on camera as it would be less stressful for them. Everybody is different, but I know that when we were in that horrible time of waiting for heart surgery, I would have found the act of speaking to the media too emotionally charged to handle. My nerves were raw...
Thankfully, thankfully, we've come through the other side of that stress and now can experience the joy of putting it all behind us.
Last week Johanne (Aidan's music therapist) phoned to ask if he could be filmed for a news report the next day. Short notice because it was being done in response to proposed funding cutbacks of the Success by 6 program in our province. Of course, I said yes - with one regret that I didn't have time to get my hair cut (vanity, thy name is Carol) .
Anyhow, just before filming, the station discovered that the funding would not be cut after all. Great news, but now they needed to change "the story." It became a general piece about the benefits of music therapy.
Aidan was a star, indeed he was. He was not shy in front of the camera, he played the instruments with gusto, he cheered, giggled, clapped, and had fun. I was so proud of him.
Johanne said something beautiful in the interview (I'll try to paraphrase): "we are trying to get the gap between the typical child and the child with challenges as small as possible to make it easier when they start kindergarten." I love Johanne - I have never met such a genuinely positive person in my life. Is it selfish of me to think of Aidan's music therapy as "OUR" music therapy? I hope not because I think I get as much out of it as he does.
Something in me doesn't like to mix my eclectic interests in this blog; 3 Little Billy Goats is my blog about life with my three boys, with a great sprinkling about my youngest billy goat and Down syndrome.
I like my boys, so I like to write about them. I was inspired to start a family blog after reading Becca`s about her life with Sammi, and Michelle`s about her life with Kayla. Then my blog reading snowballed and I started to follow Amber`s, Bethany`s, and Sarah`s. My blog list grew from there. Anyway, what was I starting to talk about....oh yes, my tendency to NOT want to write about myself in their space as much. Hence, the numerous blogs I've started.
I still feel a need to have a dedicated blog to record my journey with paint brush. Sort of like Virginia Woolf`s A Room of One`s Own,except that my room is a virtual one. I'm not sure what that says about me, but there it is. The truth about my blogging compulsion.
And yes, I understand that this post has not been ``all about the lads.`` I embrace irony.
As usual, the lads were very excited about St. Patrick's Day...you may remember last year the leprechaun paid us a visit and MADE us make his favourite Irish Stew and Soda Bread for lunch before he would disclose the clues to find the treasure (naughty leprechaun, mom was very tired!).
This year we were undecided about how to prepare for the leprechaun. Should I have stewing beef on hand? Flour in the pantry? Should we make leprechaun traps, or a leprechaun house?
In the end, we decided that we wanted to be friendly, so no traps were set. Instead, we made a little sailboat (for West Coast leprechauns) and put a white flag on it to show we meant no harm. We left it outside next to the little yew tree.
You won't believe it, but he came in the middle of the night - took the boat for a little sail, used our coats, had a bath in our tub to warm up after the chilly evening adventure, then left us a treasure of thanks beside the cheddar in the fridge. He was indeed a friendly West Coast leprechaun.