Thanksgiving – a choice, not just a holiday

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Today, I am tired: But I am so very thankful for the long, late-night talks with my Dad that kept me up too late, and my beautiful daughter who woke me up too early this morning by turning on the light without warning.  I am also thankful for coffee – the elixir of life.

Today, I am cold: But I am so very thankful for this beautiful sunny California day, and the sparkly frost on the cars and roofs, and the changing seasons.  I am also thankful for fuzzy socks and our home’s furnace – the cozy-makers.

Today, I have a sore throat: But I am so very thankful for the voice God has given me to sing, and to speak love and kindness to the world.  I am also thankful for throat lozenges and licorice tea – the restorers of my raw throat tissue.

Today, my rugs and couch are covered in dog fur: But I am so very thankful for the sweet huskies that God prompted me to adopt.  Despite the many challenges we’ve had with them so far, my love for these canine babies has grown, and they brighten my day and give the best hugs. I am also thankful for vacuum cleaners and sticky rollers – the defenders of my home from fur invasion.

Today, I have a lot to do: But I am so very thankful for the house I live in that needs cleaning, and the family God has given me that needs care.  I get to pick my Mom up from the airport today – that alone is plenty to be thankful for.  I am also thankful for pre-made pie crusts – the savior of my sanity when attempting to host Thanksgiving dinner while fighting the remains of a cold virus.

Today, I feel sad and concerned about the US federal election: But I am so very thankful that we still have a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion without fear of being jailed by the government for our beliefs. I am also thankful for my loud and boisterous activist friends – the campaigners who fight complacency and fill my Facebook feed with witty truisms and thought-provoking arguments.

Today, I recognize that many people are at odds with their families over really big social issues and that family gatherings will be difficult or impossible for some:  But I am so very thankful that, while we don’t always agree on everything, my family chooses love over being right.  We have learned how to discuss controversial topics without attacking each other personally.  We are kind even when we are passionate.  I am also thankful for great food – the one thing we can all rally around and enjoy together no matter what else is going on.

Today, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. Plenty of people in the US and the rest of the world have a lot to complain about.  There are really bad things happening everywhere, and some of them hit close to home.  But I want to encourage you to be thankful for what you have.  It is cliche to remind people that there are always people suffering so much more than they.  It invalidates their experience and their pain.  That is not what I am doing here.  What I am suggesting is that, by taking a break from activism, family feuds, mourning, complaining, anger, fear, and distrust, and focusing on what is good and right and positive, we open our minds to a better world, a better life, a better day than we would experience otherwise.  It is not easy – it is a choice; a decision; perhaps a calling.  That doesn’t mean we stop fighting for what is right.  But it might mean that we are able to do so with a better attitude and a lighter heart.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, even if you don’t live in the United States.  I know it’s a historical holiday here, but we can choose to be thankful every day, no matter where we live or who we are and no matter what our circumstances.  I recognize that I am saying this from a place of privilege and comfort.  My complaints and challenges are small and very first-world.  But I have seen how those who have little can be the happiest people because they choose to be grateful.  So this post is as much a reminder to me as it is an encouragement for you.

Love to you in this holiday season.



Love Thy Neighbour


With all of the opinions and scriptures, accusations and recriminations being fired back and forth between both sides of the Homosexuality debate, I have become heart-sick at the hurt and pain being caused by and felt by so many people in both camps.  It is such a controversial issue for many, and while both the US and Canadian governments have now ruled that gay marriage is legal, giving gays the same legal rights and recognition as any couple, many people are struggling with this decision on a personal and spiritual level.

I’ve been open about my own position on the matter in personal conversations with my friends and family, but have never published it here because I’ve been afraid of the backlash.  I feel like I have reached a point in my own journey where I can do that and handle whatever might be sent my way.  This is my blog, which you can choose to read or not.  However, my intention is not to offend or hurt anyone, simply to open up another potential perspective for people.

So, lets start with this: My background is Christian.  I was raised in a conservative Christian household, as a Missionary Kid (MK) in Botswana, Africa, and then later as a Pastor’s Kid (PK) in British Columbia, Canada.  I went to a Mennonite high school, complete with mandatory bible classes and lessons on abstinence instead of birth control.  I LOVED my school and am grateful for the 5 years I got to spend there.  But then my high school made my sister feel judged and unwelcome when as a teenager, she made some decisions that led to her becoming pregnant. That did not feel like Love to me.

As a young adult, I attended my local college, started dating my now husband, and was exposed to a larger world where opinions different from my conservative upbringing were suddenly available to me.  I stopped going to church for a while, partly because my Sweetie and I couldn’t handle the disconnect between the Love commanded in the Bible, and the Condemnation actually being practiced and preached in church. The homosexuality issue was a huge part of that. We have since come to terms with the fallibility of humankind, and the limitlessness of God, and have found a church where we feel loved and supported.

Part of the expansion of my world in college was getting to know my Sweetie’s brother and his partner.  They were the first openly gay people I had ever met.  Until then, I had been totally unexposed to the gay community, and had a vague notion that the Bible said homosexuality was wrong.  It wasn’t really a large issue in my life and I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it.  The concept of two men in a romantic relationship made me uncomfortable because of its newness, but I quickly learned that they were just two people in love who wanted to share their lives with each other.  Without aggressive teaching against homosexuality, it was relatively easy to accept their relationship as it was – full of love, respect, fun, and commitment.  I quickly grew to love them as my own brothers.  Perhaps my parents and teachers will feel like they failed in properly training me in the ways of the Bible, but really they should be proud that they instilled kindness and love as my primary values.

I haven’t always agreed with every decision my homosexual brothers have made, in the same way that I have not always agreed with every decision my own heterosexual sisters have made.  But their sexual orientation is a separate issue – I can’t make myself see that as a decision they have chosen for themselves.  Knowing them as well as I do, there is no arguing who they are at their core, and that includes their homosexuality.  I don’t believe they could choose to be (not just act) heterosexual any more than I could choose to be an elephant.

Now, here is where I expect to start getting some argument from my more conservative friends and family.  If the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, then it can’t possibly be core to their identities – they have chosen to live a life of sin.  Or they were damaged emotionally as children and can’t help the way they feel, but they are broken and need healing.  To anyone who makes those arguments, my question is this: Have you gotten to know someone who is gay well enough that you have had intimate conversations, gone vacationing together, and made them part of your family?  If you haven’t, how can you presume to have an opinion about whether their sexuality is innate or chosen?

If you do have close relationships with homosexual people and still believe their homosexuality is evil, have you looked into the history of the word “homosexual” in the Bible and considered the cultural context?  I’m guessing you have done so with other issues such as the acceptance of slavery, polygamy, racism and sexism in the Bible, all of which are rejected by most Christians these days.  If you haven’t considered these things, how can you be sure that committed, loving homosexual relationships are condemned by God when Christianity no longer condemns interracial marriage, no longer accepts slavery and polygamy, and for the most part no longer prevents women from holding leadership roles in churches.

There is plenty of brokenness in every person – it’s an unfortunate part of being human.  But what I’ve discovered after many discussions with my gay friends and family, is that the brokenness involved with their homosexuality has nothing to do with conflict over who they are.  They know who they are, and have found extreme relief in accepting their own homosexuality.  Any remaining conflict for the people with whom I have a relationship has everything to do with how they are treated or expect to be treated by others.  So here, finally, I come to the main point of my post.

In both Canada and the United States, we are free to follow whichever religion we choose. (Note how this is clearly a choice each person has a right to – whether you are born to a religion or not, you can choose to worship in whatever way you please.  This right is not unique to North America, but there are plenty of places where being a Christian is illegal.)  As such, if you choose to interpret the Bible to mean that homosexuality is a sin, that is your right, and no one can take that from you.  Chances are there is something that you feel is core to your being or core to your spirituality that another religion sees as a sin, and they have a right to believe that too.  We also enjoy Freedom of Speech, which means that you cannot be arrested for expressing your opinion.

My challenge to those who believe that homosexuality is a sin is two-fold:

  1. Consider how your words and actions might make others feel.  While it may not be your job as a Christian to approve of behaviour that your religion says is a sin, as a Christian it IS your job to spread the Love of Jesus.  Do you think telling people that they are an abomination makes them feel loved?  What is your true motivation for posting articles condemning homosexuality – do you think that will convince homosexuals that they should come to you for spiritual counselling?  Are you looking to have your beliefs confirmed by like-minded individuals?  Are you inviting debate and open conversation?  Being legally free to express your opinion does not necessarily mean that you are obligated to express that opinion in mixed company and without a sufficiently close relationship to soften the blow of your words.  Whether homosexuality is a sin or not, relationship is more important.  This is something my parents taught me – the value of relationship over rightness about theological argument.  Holding too close to the latter may create a rift in the relationship that is very difficult to repair.


    And please don’t tell me that you “love the sinner but hate the sin” (I have more to say on this phrase but that’s a whole post of its own).  Do you actively campaign against sin in your own communities and in your own intimate circles? Do you post articles on Facebook condemning divorce, laziness and pursuit of wealth in Christians – all biblical sins that have become accepted as a fact of life these days?  Or are you picking on homosexuality? Is there a chance that your own intolerance and judgement of people in the LGBT community is a sin that you are committing in the name of righteousness?


    I have considered that my words might make you feel uncomfortable, and I expect that you will react.  I hope that you will react by thinking and praying about the consequences of loudly and publicly objecting to homosexuality.  Are gay people hurting you by being gay?  How?  Are you hurting gay people by objecting strongly (a nice way of saying “condemning” but I don’t want to make assumptions about your motives) to something that they believe is innate to who they are?  Probably.

  2. Actively get to know someone in the homosexual community and have an open dialogue with them about their own experiences and feelings.  Choose to listen rather than try to change them, and learn about the struggles they are actually experiencing, not the struggles you imagine for them.  Meet them where they are and leave your own beliefs on the side for a while so you can truly get to know them.  You are not responsible for their salvation, Jesus is.  Your Love will prove your Christianity to them more completely and more honestly than your judgement or attacks with bible verses.

Now, I also have a message for those on the pro-homosexuality side of the equation.

I know that people in the LGBT community have felt condemned and pushed aside by the religious community for a long time.  I know there is a lot of hurt there.  It makes me so sad to see how The Church has failed to love and embrace this part of the population.  Granted, more liberal-leaning Christian denominations have begun the process of adjusting to this new world of inclusiveness for homosexuality.  But many Christians have spent their entire lives being taught that homosexuality is an abomination.  For right or wrong, modern translations of the Christian Bible have interpreted the ancient texts to be unequivocal about this.  When you are brought up from birth to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and is infallible, it can take a while to adjust to other ideas.

Many Christians are feeling like core parts of their belief system are being threatened right now.  It’s not that the idea of homosexuality-as-sin is a core part of Christianity, though with all the articles and opinions being bandied around on the Internet these days you’d think it was THE essential tenet of the religion.  The issue is that Christians in particular are being demonized by liberal media and pro-LGBT groups for their religion.  It feels like reverse discrimination and they are very humanly fighting back.  Some might think it’s only fair after all the hurt inflicted on the LGBT community by people claiming to do so in the name of God.  But most Christians are only humans trying to do their best and live their spirituality in the way they understand it.  The acceptance of homosexuality as normal and celebrated feels like a slap in the face of Christianity. Being condemned as homophobic or bigoted for their beliefs instills fear that their freedom of religion is threatened.

Not all Christians who believe homosexuality is wrong are bigots (bigot: a person who is intolerant to those holding different opinions) – regardless of what it feels like to you, they are not out to spread hatred.  (Side question: are YOU tolerant to those who hold a different opinion than you do about homosexuality?)  In fact, I’d argue that many Christians who are actively campaigning against homosexuality and gay marriage are doing so because they truly ache for the LGBT community and want salvation for them.  It breaks their hearts to think of a whole community of people being deceived into thinking that their sin is actually something to be celebrated, because then they will not go to heaven.  They aren’t being exclusive – they genuinely want to help save you from eternal pain and suffering in Hell.  This may not seem logical to you, but since when has human emotion, or even spirituality, been logical?

Others are caught up in the political debate and may have forgotten that their assignment as Christians is not to determine civil law, but to love their neighbour.  Please try to understand that they are human too, and we all get caught up in these things from time to time.  The first part of this blog post is for them.

I’m not saying that some groups aren’t actively being hateful and bigoted – hello Westboro “Baptist” Church.  I personally believe that Satan is campaigning with them and trying to disguise himself as Christianity to discredit those who are truly trying to do God’s work.  Most Christians don’t condone what Westboro is doing so please try not to judge them on the actions of that group and groups like them.

So, my challenge to the pro-LGBT community is as follows:

  1. Try to understand that generations of Christians are having their beliefs challenged in a way that they have never experienced before.  You know from experience that it’s a hard pill to swallow – to be judged for something that feels core to your being.  I see a movement spreading among Christians (especially the younger generations) that is beginning to accept the idea of loving not judging, with many even advocating for the rights of their gay friends and family and including LGBT people in their religious leadership. It will take time, please be patient.
  2. If a conservative-thinking person tries to get to know you and wants to listen to your story, be vulnerable and open.  It may be hard to do so when you are worried you’ll get judged, but try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to expand their horizons and truly want to understand where you are coming from.  I believe that if enough people witness the reality of committed gay relationships, they will see the difference between what may be condemned in the bible and what is actually being celebrated in the LGBT community.

I have not delved into scripture in this post, largely because I am not a biblical scholar, but also because this post already feels like a short book rather than a blog post.  I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I have had to really struggle with this issue because, no matter on which side of the coin I choose to land, my position causes a disconnect between me and people I love.  However, I wanted to include links to some of the reading I have done lately that has helped to solidify my theology on this matter.

  • Are You Open to an LGBT-affirming Biblical Perspective? – Written by a married, heterosexual United Methodist pastor.  This article challenges traditional interpretations of the New Testament passages that Christians usually cite when arguing against homosexuality.
  • Are you In or Out? 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy – Written by a heterosexual Christian speaker, author and educator who advocates for inclusion of the LGBT in the church.  This article focuses on these two passages, and goes into a deep analysis of the origins of the words that have modernly been translated as “homosexual” in the Bible.
  • The Bible and Homosexuality – This is an article and a video.  It features a young gay Christian man who has spent more than two years intensively studying what the Bible says about homosexuality.  He published a book, and also speaks on the topic.  I encourage you to read his short bio before watching the video.

There are many more articles, books, and recordings published on the Internet that will make these same arguments. The ones above are those I have read that I think are clearest and least fraught with leaps in logic that might not make sense. There are also many, many articles posted on the Internet that use the same Bible passages to condemn homosexuality.  I have read a lot of those, too.  But none of them have explained the original meaning of the words discussed in the links above to my satisfaction.

I have a lot more to say about this topic.  Now that I have broken the seal, I expect that I’ll post more articles.  In no way am I trying to drive a wedge between myself and my conservative friends and family.  I feel quite strongly about this topic, but not without a lot of study, prayer, and personal experience.  I believe that you can’t really claim to have formed an educated opinion on something until you’ve looked at both sides of the argument.  Having come from a conservative Christian background, and growing to a more liberal Christian adulthood, I can see both sides of the issue, and have still set down on the side of acceptance for homosexuality.  I don’t think I am going to change a lot of minds with what I’ve said here.  But what I hope will happen is that my words will encourage people on both sides to consider where the other side is coming from.  I believe that above all, kindness and love are my calling.  And that is what I am trying to spread to all within my sphere of influence.

I welcome civil, loving discussion about this topic. However, anything that smacks of judgement rather than legitimate attempts at understanding from either side will be deleted or will not be posted. Since it is my blog, I get to make the rules. 🙂  Consider yourselves warned.

A Day to Honour Mothers


Meeting the Bean for the first time.

Meeting the Bean for the first time.

Today is the day we celebrate mothers.  Mothers come in all shapes, sizes and varieties.  They are young and old, energetic and tired, busy and relaxed, creative and analytical, serious and silly, biological and otherwise.

In my work as a Music Together teacher, and as the mother of a little girl, I meet a lot of mothers.  Some are married, some are not.  Some are co-parenting with their exes, or totally on on their own.  Some get help from their family members, many are attempting to raise their children without a built-in village to help.

Some long to be mothers, but have not been given that blessing.  Others have been given a child for a short time, only to have their little one taken from them way too soon.  Still others were not planning to become mothers, but have risen to the occasion when it presented itself.  Others have made the difficult decision to give up their children to another person to raise, giving other women the opportunity to become mothers.

Pic of Bean showing off

Look what I can do!

I have the privilege of being Mother to a special little girl.  She has Partial Trisomy 22, and so has been significantly delayed in her development.  Our Bean is 6 years old, but the size of a 3 year old, and with abilities ranging from the 18 month to 4 year levels.  She is, at the same time, the most wonderful and the most challenging part of my life.

With Bean, only a few days old in the NICU.

With Bean, only a few days old in the NICU.

When I imagined being a mother, it didn’t look like changing diapers on a 6 year old, navigating numerous therapies and medical diagnoses, and providing constant supervision because my kindergartener doesn’t understand the concept of personal safety.  It didn’t look like having a C-section and spending weeks in the NICU.  It didn’t look like moving away from my family and doing motherhood without my own mother at my beck and call.

I had no idea, when I imagined my future life as a mother, how much I would need to grow and learn in order to fill that role.  I had no clue how little sleep I’d be getting, or how hard it would be to get out of the house some days.  I was totally in the dark about the life of a Special Needs mother – it hardly occurred to me that my child might not be an A student, that I might not be able to understand what she said a lot of the time, that I would need to advocate for her in order to make sure she has all the help she needs to thrive – or even to survive in society.


Tantrums tend to be loud and long.

Excited about a cookie Grandma made

Excited about a cookie Grandma made

Also unknown to me prior to motherhood were the depths of maternal love and protection I would experience; the fierce pride I feel in every accomplishment she achieves; the pain when she is not included, and the joy when she fits in; the desperation of numerous night-wakings and the peace of watching her sleep; the darkness of her tantrums and the brightness of her smile; the laughter that often overtakes us because she has done something cute, funny or unexpected.

She had so much fun playing peek a boo in this tree.

She had so much fun playing peek a boo in this tree.

I expected mothering of a 6 year old to include a lot more baking of cookies, dance or piano or swimming lessons, the beginnings of meaningful conversations, non-stop playdates, sleepovers, reading my favourite children’s chapter books together.  And yet, while I mourn some of that, some of the time, I also get to have the best snuggles in the world for years to come.  I get to really notice the new skills she learns because they don’t come rapid-fire.  I get to rediscover the world, slowly and thoughtfully, as my Bean starts to pay attention to more and more of her surroundings.  I get to see the kindness of the world, as both strangers and loved ones respond to Bean’s total innocence and loving heart.

We met a family while we were on vacation, and Bean wanted to sit with the grandparents.  They were totally smitten by her immediately.

We met a family while we were on vacation, and Bean wanted to sit with the grandparents. They were totally smitten by her immediately.

Most days, I think I’m doing a pretty good job.  Some days, I don’t feel like I’m anywhere close to my self-expectations.  On those days, my own mother is there to support me, even though she’s so far away.  If it’s not her actual voice over video chat, it’s the memory of her voice in my head, that tells me that I am a wonderful mother.  And coming from my own wonderful mother, that’s great encouragement.

I know that I will fail as a mother often.  I will make mistakes that hurt my Bean and then I will apologize.  I will cry, I will yell, I will slam a door or two.  I will wonder if I can do this anymore, and sob on my Sweetie’s shoulder.  But those moments will be the exception, not the rule.

Praying before a meal - quite possibly the cutest thing ever.

Praying before a meal – quite possibly the cutest thing ever.

I will also nurture new growth, comfort her after she’s been hurt, challenge her to be her best and do her best, give her a safe place to explore and experiment, and provide boundaries so she knows how the world works.  I will laugh with her, cheer her on, be silly with her, get creative with her, and get dirty with her.  These are the things a mother does.  These are the things I learned from MY mother.  Special Needs or not, all mothers have their own challenges and successes.  All mothers have their sorrows and joys.  All mothers deserve to be celebrated every day.

Mothering is the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I’ve done.  I expect that this will continue to be the case as the Bean grows.  We don’t know what life will look like for the three of us when she becomes an adult.  I don’t know what level of care she will need.  I don’t know if she will fall in love and get married.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be a Grandmother.  But no one truly knows those things.  What I DO know, is that I am blessed beyond measure; that my faith and my loved ones get me through the rough spots; that I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything in the world.

Food for Thought on a Monday Night

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1. Homemade low country boil (crab, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn cooked in broth) is awesome. I used this recipe as my inspiration.



2. There is loud, and then there is “I’m in the bath, and excited and taking advantage of the acoustics” loud.

3. Today, the Bean learned that you don’t put soap in your eyes.

4. Today, Mummy learned that the Bean still needs 100% supervision during bath time. Sitting right beside her reading does not count.

5. It pays to ask questions. Today, we got a huge discount (more than 50% off) on our tickets to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo because I thought to ask whether they have a deal for Oakland Zoo members.

6. When you go away for the night, there is no cleaning fairy that comes and makes sure your house feels like a hotel room when you get home.



7. Lest we forget: November 11 is Remembrance Day (Canada) and Veteran’s Day (US), and we must not forget to honour our soldiers: the fallen, the veterans, and those still in active duty. Thank you to all who have sacrificed so the rest of us can experience freedom.

8. I have missed blogging and am determined to get back to it on a more regular basis. This is a nice easy start.

Cherished Cat


Today I buried our cat, Mario.  I dug a deep hole under a maple tree beside some cyclamen in a pretty corner of our yard, working my way around roots, rocks and clay to make a final resting place for my buddy.  It was hard, and heartbreaking and strangely wonderful to be able to use my own arms and legs and back to dig that hole.  It was a final act of love for a cat who has been my shadow for 16 years.

I’m quite astonished by how hard I’m taking this.  I think that when our other cat, Mimic, died, I was comforted to still have Mario around so it wasn’t as devastating.  Don’t get me wrong, I grieved for Mimic too.  But he died while we were away on vacation, and my wonderful parents took care of all the details, so it was kind of surreal.  This feels very real and final.  I was with Mario when they put him to sleep, and I stroked his head and gazed into his eyes as he breathed his last breath.  It was my decision to release him from the pain of illness and injury, and while I know it was absolutely the right decision, it hurts.

For the sake of my own comfort, I choose to believe that pet heaven exists and Mario and Mimic are frolicking together chasing dragonflies.


If I was sitting or lying down anywhere, Mario could usually be found on my lap. He also loved to sleep curled around my head on my pillow, or laying across my belly at night.


One day, Mario decided to play with Jenna’s cabbage patch kid. He undressed her completely and then just hung out beside her. I think it was the soft sweater she was wearing.


Jenna loved to hug and pet Mario, and he was very gentle and patient with her.

Father’s Day – A Tribute to My Father and My Daughter’s Father (aka my husband)


The relationship between daddies and daughters is so incredibly important.  It can raise a girl up to become an amazing and well-balanced woman, or it can crush a woman’s soul.  A girl’s daddy is her first love, whether he treats her well or not, and that has a huge impact on the rest of her life.

My Daddy is also a wonderful Grandpa

I am lucky to have an incredible Dad.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I was a total daddy’s girl growing up.  He played with me, nurtured my love of music and learning, read with me, and inspired my area of study in college.  I am like my father in so many ways; some that I’m thrilled about, like our love for social interaction and our tenderness for other people, and others that I could maybe do without, such as our mutual difficulty with memory and our struggle with budgeting both time and money. I have no experience with absentee or abusive fathering.  I have been nurtured and supported and protected by my father for my whole life.  Even when I didn’t like how he was protecting me (cue arrival of my Sweetie), I knew that’s what he was doing. I feel so incredibly fortunate.

In choosing a husband, I knew it was important to find someone who would be a good father.  My Sweetie denied vehemently, back when we first started dating, that he would be any sort of father, much less a good one.  But I knew better.  I couldn’t have described the exact traits he possessed that were going to make a great father out of him, but I trusted that they were there.  And I was right!

Surprise, you’re an awesome Dad!

It took some time for parenthood to become a priority in our life plan.  We both wanted to finish school, get started in a career, and be stable enough financially to know we’d have a roof over our heads before we brought another life into this world.  We had been together for 13 years (married for 7) before we started trying to conceive, and when the Bean showed up, we were completing our 15th year together.  Needless to say, having another person in the house who needed me more than he did was a shock to my Sweetie’s system.  Practicing parenthood on two cats and a dog had helped, but it’s totally different.  He rallied well and it took him no time at all to fall totally in love with our little alien (she really did look odd when she was born at 3 lbs, 13 oz – an adorable alien).

This is the Bean’s favourite way to fall asleep

Even before the Bean joined our family, my Sweetie was a conscientious provider and a devoted husband. The arrival of a baby girl only intensified that for him.  But the other thing it has done is soften him up…a lot!  I knew, when I decided to marry my Sweetie, that a baby girl would be the best option for our family, because there is no way he’d be able to resist being wrapped around her little finger.  Of course, that’s not something we could control, but God knew what he was doing by giving us a girl.

Picnic at the park – one of my Sweetie’s favourite things to do with family time.

I believe God also knew what He was doing giving us a child with Special Needs.  One of our greatest fears going into parenthood was the possibility of having a child with Special Needs.  Two couples we knew had recently become parents to children with Down’s Syndrome, and it especially terrified my Sweetie because he didn’t think he’d be able to handle the extra work and pressure.  But once again, he has exceeded his own expectations of himself, and is great at remembering to challenge the Bean at her level.  He rarely spends time with other children (he’s not really a kid guy), so he doesn’t have much to compare to.  He can just enjoy the Bean and her accomplishments without activating his competitive streak.

And my Sweetie sure does love his Bean.  He frequently tells me how much he misses her (and me of course) when he’s at work.  It’s hard for him to leave for so many hours every day, but he also loves his job and feels torn constantly.  I love him for that (among other things), and one of my favourite things to do is to watch my Sweetie and our Bean playing, laughing, and cuddling.  Bean brings out the SILLY in her father, and it’s so much fun.  He also rescues me from her when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  He provides a calm, positive presence when I feel like my sleep deprived, malnourished soul is about to implode.

I love watching my Sweetie grow as a father.  I love that he doesn’t feel like he’s doing a good enough job, because it means he’ll always try to be better.  But I need to tell you all a secret: he’s a fantastic father!  Just don’t tell him I told you.  I want him to keep striving for more. 😉

School Helped Me Learn About Life


The Assignment: Write a 500-1000 word essay about memories of your mother or childhood growing up.

My daughter recently started preschool, and this exciting milestone has me thinking about my own experience with school.  I loved school and I learned a lot of academically, but the moments that stick out most in my memory are not necessarily the pleasant, happy experiences: they are the experiences that taught me about life and about myself.

Noddy in his car


Some of my earliest childhood memories occurred at school.  I went to Noddy Nursery School when I was three or four years old.  I clearly remember lying down on a mat for naptime every afternoon, and painting and colouring.  I remember playing outside with my friends and I’m pretty sure I got at least one skinned knee on the playground.  This early school experience taught me about following directions, getting along with my peers, and the value of a predictable schedule.  I’m still very good at following directions and getting along with people, but I tend to struggle a little with discipline and scheduling.

My first strong memory of Kindergarten was not as positive.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Kindergarten; but there was one particular incident that haunts me.  One of the other children was being disruptive in class.  Our teacher had asked him several times to be quiet, and he kept acting up.  Finally, she yelled at him and sent him to the principal.  I was a sensitive kid, and was pretty sure that it was not a good idea to get yelled at in school.  I started crying.  I knew the teacher wasn’t angry at me, but I felt the embarrassment and fear of being  “in trouble” as if she had been shouting at me directly.  Memories of that feeling have stayed with me ever since, and I still do my best to avoid being “trouble” for others.

One of the few times I did misbehave in school was in grade 4.  I was outside in the corridor working on a school project with a classmate.  Our teacher had warned us that the privilege of working on our own outside required our solemn promise to stay there and focus on our work.  After working for a while, we heard noises coming from the auditorium.  Despite our promise to our teacher, curiosity won the battle and we went to investigate.  We were caught snooping around and lost our freedom to work outside.  I was mortified.  I wasn’t the type of kid who misbehaved, and I certainly didn’t want my teacher to think any less of me.  Once again, my foray into rebellion was quashed quickly and I returned to being a “good girl”.

world map

Our journey home from Botswana to BC in 1986

Grade 5 was another interesting experience for me; it was the year we moved back to Canada from Botswana.  In Botswana, the school year starts in January; we left Botswana in June, so I had already had 6 months of fifth grade before starting again in September.  The curriculum was quite different in my new school, but even so, I found that first year of school in Canada to be a breeze.  Making friends wasn’t too hard, and I’m pretty sure I was in the “cool kids” group.  The culture shock that so strongly affected my mother didn’t seem to bother me much.  In our move from Africa to North America, a pretty major shift, I learned that I adapt quite easily to change, and that I can adjust my behavior to help others feel comfortable with me.  My mother used to tell me that I would come home from playing at a friend’s house, and I would talk like that friend for a while before slowly reverting back to my own cadence and tone.  I was a social chameleon.

My admittance into the “cool kids” group didn’t last long, however.  In grade 6, a new student joined our class from another school and she was instantly disliked by my group of friends because she was different.  She was a year older than us and had failed a grade in school.  She was overweight, a little strange, and from a poor family; exactly the kind of hard luck case I have trouble resisting.  I was raised to be kind to everyone; Denise was lonely and needed some kindness.  I took her on as my friend, and was immediately dropped by my “best friends” as a social outcast.  Another quiet Indo-Canadian girl joined our crew and we were a threesome; totally inseparable.

I have some wonderful memories of hanging out with my new best friend, Denise.  She introduced me to the Monkees and we made up dance routines to Bangles songs.  When we joined the Jive Club after school, we were the two odd girls out, so we learned to Jive with each other, taking turns with the “boy” steps.  “Rockin’ Robin” will always bring back memories of dancing on the school stage with Denise.  These memories are important to me because they are the result of following my heart instead of what others thought was best.  I was true to my values, and that has been an important theme for my life.

My early memories of school are an integral part of my childhood.  School was important to me: it contributed strongly to my identity and self esteem, it was where I learned much about myself and others, and it was where I started to figure out how to interact with other kids my age.  In fact, I can’t reminisce about my childhood for very long before a school-based memory pops to mind.  Sure, I worked and played at home and out in my community, but a good portion of my childhood was spent at school, and it was a valuable experience.

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