Saturday, June 30, 2007

Infidel

Last night I finished the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who in 2004 collaborated with the Dutch artist Theo van Gogh to create a ten minute film called "Submission." van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist because of the offensive content of the film, and Ali has spent every day since under heavy guard. This drew me to the book because this story intrigued me when it hit the news several years ago and I was interested in hearing the personal memoir of the woman behind a piece of art that lead to murder and uproar.
Regarding the film itself, Ali says "[the film] was about defiance--about Muslim women who shift from total submission to God to a dialogue with their deity. They pray, but instead of casting down their eyes, these women look up, at Allah, with the words of the Quran tattooed on their skin. They tell him honestly that if submission to Him brings them so much misery, and He remains silent, they may stop submitting." Her motivation for creating this piece was the fact that so many of the fundamentalist discussions amongst Muslims include video and audio tapes and photographs, and she wished to add to the images in that discussion, with a dissonant voice. In my opinion, the most inflammatory aspect of Ali's and van Gogh's "Submission" was not the theme or the ideological content, but the images themselves. Women in transparent veils were filmed with verses from the Quran written on their bodies. The combination of the feminine, and the nude, and the Holy Quran was what incited the death threats and murder.
Ali states, "People ask me if I have some kind of death wish, to keep saying the things I do. The answer is no: I would like to keep living. However, some things must be said, and there are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice."
Ali's memoir is fascinating. It starts when she is very little, and follows the course of her life from Somalia, to Kenya, to Saudi Arabia, to Ethiopia (all before she was fourteen!), and back to Somalia. When she was 22 her father arranged a marriage for her with a Canadian man and she escaped to Holland to avoid a future she did not choose and did not want. She claimed refugee status there and in time became a Dutch citizen, attending university and studying political science, and ultimately, after a long and difficult personal battle, lost her faith in Islam. One of her passions was the living conditions for refugee and immigrant Muslim women in Holland, and that democratic state's complicity in the state of these womens' lives, in the name of tolerance. So, she ran for Parliament and was elected as an MP, and advocated hard for the rights of Muslim women in Holland.
She says, "The will of the soul cannot be coerced."
Her viewpoint on Islam is, "The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia, and among the Muslim Brotherhood in Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves a feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honour and shame. It rests on self-deception, hypocrisy, and double standards...Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved...When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn't so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being called racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so."
It sure fascinates ME!
Her evaluation of 'the West' is this: "Muhammad Bouyeri, Theo's murderer, and others like him don't realize how deeply people in the West are committed to the idea of an open society. Even though the open society is vulnerable, it is also stubborn. It is the place I ran to for safety and freedom. I would like to keep it that way: safe and free."

This book made me want to read the Quran myself, to see if the holy text of Islam is compassionate, tolerant, and free, or not. Ali asserts it is not, but I want to see for myself. So, I will go out and buy a copy, and write a bit about what I learn in order to help me process it. I also want to read a few of the philosophers she mentions in it (I'm not great with names, so I can't remember which ones at present, though I may refer to them in the future), because I find her philosophy so interesting, and sometimes very resonant.

I think what struck me about Ali's memoir is not so much her opinions, because I don't always agree with her, but the strength of her articulation of them. She is so courageous and so passionate and so thoughtful about her opinions of things, and has risked all, and lost much, to express them. I'm so constrained when it comes to the expression of my opinions, and I risk nothing, and lose nothing, and express little. Ali's example made me want to do better, rise above fear, and express.
Those who know me best know my opinions on things, mostly, though if I perceive an area of conflict in our opinions or beliefs or philosophies, I will consciously avoid all discussions regarding these topics. Ostensibly this is because I don't want to offend anyone, but in reality it is because I am afraid of loss. I have no faith that anyone who disagrees with me will continue to have a relationship with me if they find out that we disagree. Friends especially, but family, too. My cousin Sara often says, "You're stuck with your family," and "We'll always have each other because we're family," but I don't believe it. I think my father's 16 year long estrangement from his sister, who lives in the same town as him and with whom we were close when I was young, has affected me deeply. Not that this event created this fear of conflict in my relationships, but simply that it put 'family' out of the box of 'safe and always safe' and into the box of 'possibly fracturable.' I had several experiences in high school (when we are oh, so impressionable but oh, so sure we're not) with friends who rejected me because of my self expressions, and perhaps those experiences and a deep desire not to make others feel rejected or misunderstood in any way created this fear.
There are few people with whom I am so comfortably unafraid of rejection that I will spontaneously volunteer my views with. I am not afraid to voice my opinions or beliefs with people who ASK, because someone who asks is listening and genuinely wants to know, and it is implied in the asking that the relationship is safe from my answer. If I perceive that someone who has asked is not genuinely listening, I will not share, but that is a rare occurrence. I have one friend who feels it is an imposition to ask of people their opinions, thus our conversations are frequently heavily contributed by him and lightly by me, though I know better and should contribute freely.
If Ayaan Hirsi Ali is brave enough to risk estrangement from all family, all Muslim friends, fellow Dutch citizens and members of Parliament, and even the threat of death by fundamentalists to voice what she is passionate about, why am I such a coward? What have I got to lose? I am so afraid to let people truly, truly know me--is it fear of rejection, or a suspicion that I just might be unlovable? Or both?
Who knew a memoir could throw open the door to so much in me?
So, here is a new and scary place for me: expression. I think, no I will, try to express myself more, with less fear and more self acceptance, and more faith in the people in my life to accept me even with my opinions on the table between us. Those who know me best know I have a lot in me to express. I think we all do, and with a little grace and acceptance and humility, we might dive through conflict more easily, into deeper and more genuine relationships.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Quiz for the kids

I copied this from a friend's blog because I thought it was really cute. Matthew is a bit young for it, but his answers will get a laugh or two:

AYDEN:

What is you favorite color? Green

What is your favorite outfit? My blue shirt from Hawaii which says "Here comes trouble"

What do you most like to do? Play

What is your favorite food? broccoli and ham and strawberries and also cookies and gum

What are you going to be when you grow up? A fireman

What makes you giggle? Matthew showing me his bum bum

What makes you happy? Crying (this is a silly answer)

What makes you mad? When Matthew hits me

What makes you sad? Matthew hitting me, and not going to the water park, too

Can you tell me something about Thailand? They have elephants and giraffes and tigers (we went to the zoo while we were there)

What do you like to do outside? Mow the lawn and feeding the worms and looking at the worms (I just bought a worm composter which is very popular)


Anything else you want to say? No


MATTHEW:

What is you favorite color? Orange

What is your favorite outfit? orange shirts

What do you most like to do? playing

What is your favorite food? Strawberries

What are you going to be when you grow up? A fireman (heavily influenced by his brother here)


What makes you giggle? when it's wet

What makes you happy? owies (this is true; nothing makes him happier than logging all his owies and showing them to you)

What makes you mad? mommy (followed by giggles)

What makes you sad? I don't know

Can you tell me something about Thailand? Bum bum

What do you like to do outside? bikes


Anything else you want to say? Bum bum

Monday, June 25, 2007

"I could never do your job!"

I get this a lot.
From the Starbucks barista, the cashier at the department store, people I meet at barbeques, at church, or my son's preschool...It's slightly insulting, slightly admiring, and slightly funny. I guess if your work is of the kind that deals with paper, or material goods, or coffee, it would seem rather foreign to think about a job where you see people's guts or blood or whatever it is people think we see! I'm generally not up to my elbows in guts when I'm at work, but still people think it's gross. I think we are scared of things unknown, and, as much as we live in our bodies and never get away from them, what's inside is unseen and thus unknown, and we don't like to see it.
I like to see it.
I've had this fascination with theatre since I was little. I loved being onstage myself, with everyone watching me, especially if they thought I was great, but I also loved backstage. I was curious about the tech booth, the lighting, the catwalks, the backstage hallway that connects stage right from stage left, the wings--everything. I was fascinated with the mystery behind the magic that happens onstage to transport an audience to another time, another place, and another set of circumstances. In high school I got very involved in theatre, onstage and backstage, acting, dancing, and being a techie, so by university it wasn't such a mystery to me anymore. But it was still magic.
It is this same quality that I love about medicine. Human anatomy is the inside, backstage, secret universe that makes the outside walk, talk, cry, love, and eat. It is beautiful! And amazing. The amount of intricate steps involved in digestion, for example, can take days to describe, and there are still aspects of digestion we don't understand. We don't usually get to see our muscles work, or the bones articulate, or our nerves fire. Not that I've seen nerves firing, but it is magic to see a person's hand move despite a nearly severed arm, which is the next best thing.
Blood is supposed to be 'so gross.' Blood is amazing! It is the only fluid tissue in the body. Changes in the colour of your blood change the colour of your urine, breastmilk, sweat, and skin. Blood is the great intersection of the body. Gas exchange, nutrient exchange, waste exchange, hormone transportation, massive battles against foreign invaders, body repairs, histamine release--all of these events happen in the bloodstream. At work we alternately refer to blood as 'the red sticky stuff' and 'motor oil' (this one I query with raised eyebrow? I work with a lot of men) and surprisingly, don't see a lot of it. Even when people have been smashed into hard objects at high speeds (ie, the windshield of a vehicle, for instance), there is not really a lot of blood most of the time. I guess any blood is more blood than most people see at work, but you would think that a body designed to absorb the trauma involved in impacting the ground or trees at full running speed, which then travels in motorized vehicles at speeds many times that of a full run and frequently crashes, would bleed more.
Guts are also supposed to be 'gross.' Fascinating! We never get to see those! So mysterious. It is amazing to see someone's muscles at work through a deep wound, or peristalsis still travelling down the digestive tract despite a big gouge in the skin of the abdomen.
Now, I think the 'grossest' thing people think of when they tell me they could never do my job, is death. Granted, death is frightening for all of us. It is the ultimate unknown, unknowable, unavoidable black shadow, and it sits in everyone's future. It lurks. We can hear it sometimes. When people around us die we can often even smell it, and we hate it. Some people leap right into the shadow, choosing at least to control when, if not if, they have to face death.
I think sometimes that here in human-ness, with our vast capacity for denial coupled with the depth of our fear of that shadow, we manage to sanitize ourselves from death. This is interesting, since most people would likely consider themselves desensitized to tragedy and violence through movies and television (do we like to watch it on a screen because we've sanitized our lives of it, but are curious? Is it easier to deny it will happen to us if we watch it on a screen?). I would argue that most of us don't see death or tragedy in our lives often, if ever. We all feel it. No one goes through life without losing someone, and grieving it. I don't deny the visceral pain we all feel when someone we love dies, is ill, or is injured. I mean actual visual seeing. Seeing changes you.
Although I fear death as much as anyone, I'm not afraid of seeing it. Death is a big event, a frightening leap, and it brings out a lot of visceral emotions in those left behind. It is an honour to be a part of people's lives during tragedy, when their emotions are cracked wide open like glacial fissures, when denial is gone for awhile and we face the shadow and all our fears. No one should have to face this alone.
Some deaths are expected (it always surprises me when expected deaths elicit surprise in the family members who are left behind...I guess perhaps it is the shock of the actual after the fear of the possible, and shock and surprise at the loved one's absence, and not their death itself which surprises them), and some are 'sudden.' I saw a woman who died of anorexia. Does this qualify as expected, or sudden? I would be surprised if she weighed 60 lbs when she died. It is grievous to me that people die of starvation in apartments above grocery stores in Vancouver, Canada, a place affluent and full of resources. It is a testament to the strength of the human will that this is even possible. What would happen if we put the strength of this will towards resolving world conflict, or the surplus of orphans? Or creating great art? Or amnesty?
I saw another woman who died of a drug overdose two days after the birth of her baby. What makes us so lonely that we would rather get high? Over and over until we quietly disappear? How much closer can you get to another human being than growing one in you and giving birth to it? Yet she still was too lonely to stop using. It hurt too much. I speculate, of course. It has to hurt to make someone start using, and once hooked, there is an addiction on top of the original pain, plus the knowledge that you are now a junkie and the suspicion that you don't deserve better...
This seems insurmountable. But some people surmount addicition! Another testament to the strength of human will. We have our lazy or mundane moments, but as a whole I think we are fascinating and miraculous. That's why I do the work that I do.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Things that have changed

I've noticed a few things that have changed since we acquired a toddler and a preschooler in our house and I thought I would share them with you:
-The toilet paper roll used to be nice and tidy, all rolled up by the factory, and now it is frequently puffy and ripped from being unrolled and then rolled back up.
-The toilets in our house used to be only filled with water, and now they frequently have 'stuff' in them that someone forgot to flush.
-We used to own one bed for two people, and now we own six beds for four people (and sometimes we end up with four people in one bed).
-A basket of laundry used to take 4-5 minutes to fold, and now it takes 4-5 days.
-A shower used to be a private affair (unless your spouse decided, with a sly grin, to join you...to save water, right?) and now it is quite public, with the bathroom becoming the main intersection for the house if mommy happens to be in it, and the option of hopping in or out of mommy's shower is generally open. All pottying must be done in the bathroom that mommy is showering in, FYI.
-A swept floor used to stay clean for a few days, and now it only stays clean until the next snacktime, sandbox time, or I NEED TO GO POTTY EVEN THOUGH I HAVE MY SHOES ON time.
-A book used to be about 5 inches by 3 inches, have around 300 pages, and be intellectually stimulating and artistic, and now it is anywhere from 2 inches by 2 inches to 1 1/2 feet by 1 1/2 feet and is often intellectually stimulating and sometimes quite artistic, but not geared for adults. Often these books sing. Often the parent is required to sing along as the books sing. I hate this.
-My hair used to be cut quite nicely, and now it is not.
-Gobs of toothpaste used to occasionally appear in the bottom of the sink, but now they appear on the mirror, on the counter, on the floor, in the rug, and on one's pillow. No one knows how they get there.
-Sleeping in used to mean getting up around 11:00 a.m. and now it means getting up around 8:00 a.m.
-We used to feel that our concrete slab 'deck' area was a bit small for our picnic table & chairs, and the BBQ. Now we feel that the deck area is a bit small for our picnic table & chairs, the BBQ, the sandbox, the kiddie picnic table, the flower pots holding Matthew's tree and Ayden's carrot garden, the 3 L bubble container, the plastic lawnmower, and the red 40 Litre bucket of outdoor toys.
-We used to not own any lego, and we now find lego in our shoes, under the sink, in the forced air vents, on the bookshelf, and in the cat door.
-My car used to be very messy. It still is. No change there!
-Sleep used to be nice. Now our days revolve around who is sleeping when, and we never seem to get enough of it!
-Exercise used to mean taking an aerobics class or going for a hike, and now it means play wrestling with a four year old, chasing a two year old, and numerous trips up and down the stairs to get socks, a 'special toy,' clean underwear, a sweater, or sunscreen before we leave the house to do anything. Oh, and all the laps around the house we do when we clean up hundreds of toys every day. Arm muscles are exercised by carrying kicking and screaming 23 or 34 lb snarling masses of anger from point of origin to point of destination.
-Jokes used to be little intellectual affairs, or puns, and now are always about bums and poo, and frequently make no sense.

Of all these changes, the solo showers are what I miss the most!
:D

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Licensed paramedic uses new skills

Remember how I got my new license in the mail last week? Tonight I got to use one of my new 'licensed' skills! I stareted an IV on an unconscious patient--a pretty big one, first try, in his hand--woohoo! It's funny, last year when we were learning how to do IVs on people, I almost fainted in class starting an IV on the FAKE ARM--which my classmates will never let me live down--and here I am starting large bore IVs on real live people without batting an eye. Seriously, in class I had to sit down on the floor in the middle of the room because it was spinning so badly, and I knew I wouldn't make it the five feet to the nearest chair! Then to top it off I started crying! Jeepers. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real that I have this license--I keep having to remind myself of it. Hooray!

Tricked the monster

Well yesterday the monster was out full force which was Murphy's Law in action because I had worked the previous night and was running on less sleep than usual. I managed to keep myself and the boys alive, and busy enough, all day with a trek to the water park.......we set out well enough, but then things kind of started to fall apart.
Matthew has been sick this week, which I kind of forgot? ish? before we set out--so we left the house without the stroller. Well, Matthew only made it one block before he asked me to carry him. Luckily I had brought the sling, but man is his 23 lbs heavy when you carry it 2 kilometres! And hot! So, we finally made it to the water park after 2 meltdowns (Ayden) and several complaints from Matthew regarding the heat and the edge of the sling, which cuts into his legs. When we arrived, voila! The water park was off. That sucked. It is hooked up to a temperature gague which turns the water on if the outside temp reaches 20 degrees. I SWEAR it was 20 degrees yesterday, but no dice. We played for a bit, walked to the nearby IGA for popsicles, and had 3 fights in the parking lot about not racing out onto the road in front of cars. I decided to cut my losses and take the bus home. The rest of the afternoon consisted of meltdown after meltdown, and trying to manage Matthew's fever and take care of him when he has no voice (literally, only a squeaky whisper comes out at the best of times right now! I can't rescue him when he's upset or stuck somewhere because I can't hear him crying! It's totally silent! Kind of funny, actually)...by the time Brent came home I had really had it. I went and curled up in bed for 10 minutes and then went to aerobics. You know it's bad when aerobics sounds better than your kids! ;D When I got home Ayden had melted down so badly that Brent put him in a time out in his room, and he fell asleep for 10 minutes or so before Brent realized it. So, he was up until midnight. Awesome.

However, today was MUCH BETTER! Surprising, since Ayden had so little sleep! We took Matthew to the Dr. because his voice is totally gone, his breathing is wheezy, his throat hurts, his throat sounds noisy when he breathes (stridor), and today he developed a productive cough (productive=wet). I was managing these problems okay with advil and his asthma meds but I wanted to be sure we were on the right track and to check for anything serious. My dr. is great--when I told her I'm not big on antibiotics unless they really need them, and she said, "well, I'm glad I don't have to talk you out of antibiotics!" and she checked him all over and okayed my treatments. She said to bring him back if he doesn't get better in the next couple of days, and what to watch for and what to do if it gets worse. It's just cool to be on the same page with my Dr, which isn't always the case, though she's nice enough. Anyways, after this we went strawberry picking!! So fun. The boys get so dirty and they have SO much fun and eat so many srawberries! Poor Matthew kind of sat in the dirt a lot and absentmindedly ate strawberries, but he perked up for milkshakes afterwards! Some of our friends were at the berry farm too, so that was nice. After the strawberries, we attempted the water park again, and IT WAS ON!! I checked the thermometer at the high school and it said 26 degrees. Awesome!! Matthew was in a pretty grumpy mood because he felt so crappy, but I stuck him in the shade for a bit and Ayden splashed around for awhile, and then Matthew perked up enough to take his little sailboat for a float on the water. The next thing I knew it was time to go home and get ready for work again. Ayden didn't have a single meltdown all day, and Matthew was pretty good too, despite feeling so yucky. Or maybe it just felt like he was good because he was silent!! Kidding, he really was good, and more cuddly than usual which I always like.
Hooray for hibernating monsters!!!!! I kept him too busy with fun stuff to be monsterish today!! :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monster?

Ayden has been through a rough patch these past few weeks, as most of you know from my complaints in that department. His behaviour has definately gotten better, but definately not out of the woods yet. We still are walking on eggshells with him, picking our battles, and sometimes I catch myself literally wincing when I give him an answer I know he's not going to like, because there's a 50/50 chance he'll lose his cool...but, he's improving. I find with him that every once in awhile he goes through these 'testing' phases where he functions perpetually on the verge of a major meltdown and is quite defiant, and then after a few weeks it subsides again. I find these testing phases quite testing for my patience, and we sometimes get into these snarling power struggles because I haven't the patience to talk him into something I feel he needs to do (ie, hold my hand, or go to bed on time, or go upstairs and get his socks before he puts his boots on). My Dr. Phil book says I should do more 'talking him into' things, so I've been trying. Sometimes it works remarkably well at diffusing a situation, generally when the misbehaviour stems from Ayden feeling misunderstood or ignored. So that's great. Fewer struggles means more happy time (not to be mistook for happy hour at your local pub) which means more happy mom, which exponentially increases the likelihood of the boys' survival until daddy's return at exactly 5:08 p.m. (he takes the bus so he's generally pretty prompt--though this week he has been riding his bike, yay Brent, so getting home around 5:25, which decreases the boys' chance for survival so they may cancel each other out) ;)
We went to Ikea on Saturday and bought Ayden a mattress for his new bunkbed, and I also bought the boys matching blankets and pillow cases. For the first time, Ayden was big enough for Ikea's child minding service, Smalland. Boy did he have a blast!! He ran in and leapt into their ball pit and never looked back! That was cool. Matthew didn't protest being too short for Smalland. Maybe by the time he's eight he'll be tall enough! :)
At the beach the other day Matthew pointed to a little boy digging for clams who was Chinese-Canadian (my best guess?? Obviously I didn't ask his parents "are you speaking Chinese?" but I harboured a guess), and said "Me!" I think this was his first verbal expression of an awareness of visible difference between races. Kind of cool that he identified something similar in this little boy and himself, but I kind of wish we had not been right next to the family because I didn't feel comfortable saying anything more than "Yes!" to Matthew with spectators. And after the fact the moment was lost...
Sometimes it's a bit hard to balance wanting to celebrate your child's racial identity with not pointing it out too much and alienating them or making them feel different. A friend of mine has a brother adopted from Korea and she told me they sometimes forget, to the point where the mother was diagnosed with some rare blood disorder that is genetic, so the girls were tested and her brother, who was 18 at the time, asked, "Mom, why aren't you testing me?" For sure sometimes we forget and sometimes I catch myself thinking, "What in bloody heck are THEY staring at" when strangers do the triple take followed by the weird stare, because I forget that we look visibly different as a family. At easter my mom made a comment about biological dads that indicated SHE had forgotten in that moment that Brent is not Matthew's biological dad--too funny. I think it is very interesting how this adoption process mashes together perfect strangers into fully integrated families. Of course, that said, I want very much for Matthew to feel like we value his racial and cultural heritage, and that we empathize with him regarding how it feels to be 'different' even in your family, where you are supposed to feel the most 'same' that you possibly can in the world. So I feel like if I watch his cues and talk about it when he brings it up, this may be a good way to convey a balanced approach to the subject. Unfortunately I had spectators at his first attempt to bring it up!! Not that it would have been a long or a deep conversation. He is only two after all (almost three! Blows my mind! What happened there?!), but it would have been a conversation. I guess I need to learn to block out others in that type of situation and do what is best for Matthew, but I don't want to offend anyone by discussing their looks right in front of them!! I think for now it was enough that Matthew noticed. Next time I will talk a little more about it with him.
Ayden had his introduction to preschool day this morning. Boy was I nervous! It was weird! I wasn't nervous about separation or him feeling shy or anything, but I was anxious that the preschool wouldn't be 'right,' or that they wouldn't work with my schedule, or that...something. I don't know, I was just very anxious--probably because there is an element of a loss of control in leaving your child at the door to go to school, to be taught by someone else, cared for by someone else, and supervised by someone else. I didn't sleep well last night (Matthew spiking a fever and developing a horrible cough may have had something to do with that) and I rushed around this morning trying to make things happen on time so we could be at preschool by 9 a.m., all for NO reason, because when we arrived Ayden hopped right into circle time, then hopped up and chose some 'work' from the Montessori assortment and got busy. I stayed in the classroom to do some administrative form filling and talk to the teacher, but I didn't interfere with what Ayden was doing at all, but later in the day he asked me, "Mommy, do you think you could do me a favour?" (funny when you hear your words reflected in their little voices), and I said "Sure," and he said, "Next time we go to preschool could you take me there and then go home? That would make me really happy."
I'd say he's ready for preschool.
I don't have anxiety anymore.
:D
Too funny.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ayden's haircut

My mom posted a comment asking "what happened to Ayden's hair?!" Ayden chose his own haircut on Friday, and that's what he came up with. He asked for purple hair but they didn't have any purple hair dye. So it could have been worse!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Awesome day

Today was wonderful!! Last night we had dinner at the Rehmans' place to celebrate Matthew's dedication last Sunday in church. The Rehmans were out of town for the dedication so they invited us for supper in lieu of, and it was yummy and the company was wonderful, and funny as usual. Bennett's first birthday celebration was last weekend so there were still some firefighting toys left over from the party to play with and the boys went nuts. Here are some pix!

Here are Bennett, Ayden, and Matthew fighting fires together


Mommy is particularly proud of the composition in this picture. It rivals Ansel Adams, don't you think?


Matthew the firefighter


Matthew and Ayden in Torie's homemade fire truck


And the birthday boy himself, gorgeous baby!


The weather forecast called for sun and 30 degree weather today so I was all set to head to the pet store for Tigey #2 (ostensably #3, but that's just between you and I) and then hit the water park. Well, Brent woke me this morning with, "Can you drive me to work? It's raining and I don't want to ride my bike." Phooey. Well, we had to hit Costco and a few other places as well as the pet store, anyways, so we managed to keep busy. Then the sun burst out at about 5 pm so we decided to have an impromptu picnic at the park! We usually like to do something special on Fridays, be it family movie night or family pizza night or something, so tonight we had a family picnic in the park. It was sunny, warm but not too warm, we had good food, a wagon full of blankets and boys, and a nice walk. After our picnic and some play time we walked to McDonald's and got ice cream and then walked home. This was one of the happiest evenings I've had in a long time! I just love summer. Here are some photos we took at our family picnic and park night (Ayden loves these family nights and always has a label for them, like Pizza Night or Movie Night, and you can see the capital letters when he pronounces the labels...too cute...the boys also got haircuts today so they look especially handsome in their pix).

Setting up for our picnic--Matthew is very proud to be allowed a plastic 'knife'


Ayden and mommy eating strawberries for dessert


Ayden and Melissa


Matthew loves his ice cream!


Brent and Ayden:


We had so much fun! What a great family fun night! LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE summertime!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A sad evening at the Vose house

Ayden has had this fish named Tigey for about a year. He loves Tigey so much, and does a great job feeding him before bed every night and making sure the cat stays away from the fish tank. Tigey survived many things, including one cat attack that knocked his tank right off the dresser and had him flopping on a pile of rocks on the carpet! Brent scooped him up and ran to the bathroom and plunked him in some water and voila! Good as new. I must admit that Tigey was really Tigey #2 because the first Tigey we had died within a week of purchasing him and we snuck out and bought a new one before Ayden realized he was missing.
Well, lately Tigey wasn't looking so good. His gills were red and swollen, and he kind of hung out near the bottom of his tank looking fatigued. I changed his water and tried to will him back to health, but last night he died. Ayden didn't find out until this evening (Brent didn't immediately let Ayden know because it just wasn't the right time). I tell you, it was the saddest thing I've ever seen! Ayden was so devastated! We all cried, even Matthew! Especially me. It just felt like the end of the world, and his face was so shocked and hurt that something he loved could die like that, I just couldn't not cry for him. He had a lot of questions regarding trasportation of Tigey to heaven, and how God would fix him, and where he would live, and a lot of big, sad, crocodile tears and needed some cuddles. Poor guy. Happy travels, Tigey!

Cute things kids say about what love is

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
Rebecca - age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."
Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."
Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."
Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"
Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen,"
Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,"
Nikka - age 6

"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them."
Jenny - age 8

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."
Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."
Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore,"
Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
Clare - age 6

"Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken."
Elaine -age 5

"Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."
Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."
Lauren - age 4

"I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her."
Bethany - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."
Karen - age 7

"Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."
Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget,"
Jessica - age 8

The Rules of a Toddler

If it is on, I must turn it off.

If it is off, I must turn it on.

If it is folded, I must unfold it.

If it is a liquid, it must be shaken, then spilled.

If its a solid, it must be crumbled, chewed or smeared.

If it is high, it must be reached.

If it is shelved, it must be removed.

If it is pointed, it must be run with at top speed

If it has leaves, they must be picked.

If it is plugged, it must be unplugged.

If it is not trash, it must be thrown away.

If it is in the trash, it must be removed, inspected, and thrown on the floor.

If it is closed, it must be opened.

If it does not open, it must be screamed at.

If it has drawers, they must be rifled.

If it is a pencil, it must write on the refrigerator, monitor, or table.

If it is full, it will be more interesting emptied.

If it is empty, it will be more interesting full.

If it is a pile of dirt, it must be laid upon.

If it is stroller, it must under no circumstances be ridden in without protest.
It must be pushed by me instead.

If it has a flat surface, it must be banged upon.

If Mommy's hands are full, I must be carried.

If Mommy is in a hurry and wants to carry me, I must walk alone.

If it is paper, it must be torn.

If it has buttons, they must be pressed.

If the volume is low, it must go high.

If it is toilet paper, it must be unrolled on the floor.

If it is a drawer, it must be pulled upon.

If it is a toothbrush, it must be inserted into my mouth.

If it has a faucet, it must be turned on at full force.

If it is a phone, I must talk to it.

If it is a bug, it must be swallowed.

If it doesn't stay on my spoon, it must be dropped on the floor.

If it is not food, it must be tasted.

If it IS food, it must not be tasted.

If it is dry, it must be made wet with drool, milk, or toilet water.

If it is a car seat, it must be protested with arched back.

If it is Mommy, it must be hugged.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grrrr

I'm at work, new license in hand, ready to save some lives, and.....nothing. No calls. This is my sixth shift in a row with no calls. Don't people understand I have to make a living around here? Seriously, I wish no ill on my fellow citizens of the earth, but if people are going to get sick and injure themselves and need an ambulance, they may as well do it while I'm working so I can make the $$. Does that sound aweful? Does it sound less aweful if i told you I worked an average of 36 hours a week this past year and made only $8,000? Is it worth it to you to be away from your kids that often and make only $8,000? That includes hours at school, which are unpaid, but I count them because it's still time away from the kids. I'm getting mighty tired of jumping through hoops in my job and never getting anywhere. I recently got fed up and wrote a letter to the Premier regarding working conditions for the provinces 3,100 paramedics, seeing how we are a provincial ambulance service and as such, he is our boss. I have not heard back yet. I'll let you know when he does, and what he has to say about it.

On another note, I would like to whine about a pet peeve of mine. I walk a lot, as you know from my posts regarding long walks around our neighbourhood to parks, the rec centre, music class, etc. My pet peeve is people who block the sidewalk. Most of the roads in Walnut Grove are busy enough to warrant a sidewalk for the safety of those who try to be healthy and environmentally cogniscent, and choose to walk places. There are several townhouse complexes whose driveways are too narrow for garbage trucks, so every Wednesday their garbage cans and recycling are lined up on the sidewalk waiting for pickup. This is gross and annoying, but I do understand that there really is no good solution for these people, and most of the time the garbage is lined up in such a way as to leave a narrow opening for pedestrians. Not strollers or wagons, mind you, but people on foot. Far worse are the construction workers who park their vehicles on the sidewalk. ON the SIDEWALK when there is a perfectly legal parking spot at the curb, for Pete's sake! I have to take my kids by the hand, or pull the wagon full of kids ONTO the street around the STUPID vehicle parked ON the sidewalk. I believe it is against the township bylaws to park on the sidewalk, but am I a bylaw enforcer? Clearly, I am not. Clearly, I wish I were. I have been tempted to take my diamond ring to their paint jobs more than once, though I have restrained myself thus far!

Here's hoping for some ambulance calls tonight!!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Licensed PCP Paramedic!

Remember all those exams I did? I just recieved my license in the mail! That means I get a raise!!! And I can now use all those new drugs and protocols I learned! Whoopee! PTL PTL PTL! I'm really excited!! Now, if only I could get a full time posting.... :D

Pix from Matthew's dedication service

Here are some photos from Matthew's dedication service. Sorry they are so dark! I don't know how to photo shop them lighter and I don't know that it would do much good--I think the room was just too dark! If you click on the image it makes it bigger on your screen so you can see more detail if you like!




Three boys two days in a row!

Several of my friends use the same childcare provider Mondays and Tuesdays (the girl who provides care is a friend of mine, too--her name is Jenna). This week Jenna is sick, so my friends are scrambling for child care! I offered to take 18 month old Kevin yesterday, and today we are looking after Bodhi. Wild week! These friends have helped me out more than once so I'm glad to return the favour! It was interesting to go back to a more baby stage--I discovered that our house is not really all that babyproof anymore!! I kept finding Kevin with little balls in his mouth or trying to eat cat fur! He loved our cat. I was curious to see Matthew's reaction to a child younger than him, because he usually plays with older children and doesn't know how to be gentle with babies. I also wondered if he would be jealous? But he was great. He was gentle all day, didn't try to wrestle with him once, or poke his eyes, or anything. Sweet! Nor was he jealous when I held Kevin or paid attention to him. It was fun having a baby around, but I sure was tired at the end of the day! Babies take constant interaction and have more frequent eating and sleeping needs. Also, the diapers! Funny how quickly you get used to not having to use diapers!!
Bodhi is a blast to have around, and he and Ayden keep each other fairly busy with potty jokes, growling, yelling, and laughing their heads off! One the one hand, it gives Matthew some space to do what he likes without being bothered, but on the other hand he has a hard time keeping up when he wants to! At the park today I caught him climbing over the chain link fence (about 4 feet high) in an attempt to attract Ayden's attention and gain his approval!
We have been using the wagon when Bodhi is over because it will (barely) fit all three boys if they all want to ride: I'm leery of doing our mini marathon walks with three boys because I only have 2 hands for crossing the roads, etc; plus Bodhi is not my child so I definately don't want to send him back damaged! :) Anyways, we (I) walked approx 5 Km today and we left the house at 10:30 and got back at 3:00--with 2 hours at the park, of course!--and Matthew usually naps at 1:30, so he was getting sleepy. I made him a pillow out of his sweatshirt and he actually napped in the bouncing, moving wagon with 2 four year old boys yelling and screaming right beside him! He kept slipping down onto the floor and I kept having to slide him back up so he wouldn't wake up! When we got home he looked so confused and I think his neck was a bit sore from the wacky sleeping position! Too funny. I tried to take a picture of him sleeping in the wagon but I can't find the camera so maybe next time.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Fun family day

Today we took the boys to see Shrek the Third at the movie theatre (we had free passes for everyone! Bonus!) and we had a great time! The boys were wide-eyed, especially Matthew, as this was only his second trip to the movies and he LOVES Shrek. It is so great that the boys are at an age where family fun activities are more doable--when they're younger they require a lot of baggage and pre-trip planning, but with Ayden at 4 and Matthew at 2 1/2 both are toilet trained, both can sit through a movie, and both are old enough to get excited about anticipating a fun event, and talk about it afterwards. So cool. Shrek makes me laugh out loud a lot...kind of embarrassing for Brent but I'm fairly certain he's used to that by now. I do that in church too--our pastor will strike me as funny and I laugh very loudly, and then realize no one else found it funny enough to laugh at. I don't care. Being happy is great and I just won't stifle it!

This afternoon while Matthew and Brent napped I went for a run. It's raining. It's cold. It's windy. And I ran. I am so dedicated, I am so great, look at me run! This is what I think to myself every time I run in the rain because I dislike it so much. It takes me hours of inner quarreling to get myself to get my butt out there and run on a rainy day, so once I'm out there I pat myself on the back and smirk at all the drivers in their nice, warm, dry cars :) Really, I hate running in the rain so I feel I've earned these feelings and this bragging. Here are some photos to round out the bragging:


Brent caught the boys this morning brushing Matthew's teeth (with Matthew's treasured Shrek toothbrush):


So cute.

This evening we are doing a family pizza night so the fun times are continuing...!!! Matthew wanted me to put ponytails in his hair so he would look just like mommy (who is wearing her conservative, boring one ponytail) and he looks a bit like a girl! Very funny! He loves them so I took some photos and thought I'd share them with you! He's shirtless because he just had a shower. He likes to play at my feet while I'm in the shower; squeegeeing the shower door, scrubbing the tile, and generally making himself useful keeping my shower clean! He loves water so much.

Goofy boys





Friday, June 8, 2007

Tagged!

Here's something on a lighter note than BHS...I've recently been 'tagged' for the first time by a blogger friend, kind of like a blog personal survey that you email to all your friends with questions about yourself on it.

Here are the “rules”: Each player lists 4 facts and 4 habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

FACT:

1) I love pretty clothes. I window shop, admire other women's clothes, and dream about having more pretty clothes. It's just not something I spend money on easily! In university I realized that I would readily spend $30 on a meal in a restaurant, which lasts only a few minutes before it is devoured, but it would take me 3 weeks to work up the nerve to spend $30 on a shirt/skirt/pants/shoes/whatever, and often I just wouldn't. Now I have three other people to buy clothes for before I buy them for me! I would like to nominate myself for TLC's 'What Not to Wear' just so I could get some good fashion advice and some pretty clothes.

2) My favourite colour is red. I love to walk around under a red umbrella because it makes me cheerful even when it's raining (which, as you know, I HATE).

3) When I love a book it is because of the characters in it. If I don't love the characters, it's not worth reading. If it is also beautifully written, it makes my top books list.


4) I miss breastfeeding. That was a special and meaningful time in my life that I miss and look forward to again with the next baby.


HABITS:

1) Okay, anyone who has known me for a lot of years will know the #1 answer to this one: I bite my nails when I'm stressed out. As a kid, and especially a teenager, I always had ragged, bleeding nailbeds. My dad once paid me $200 to grow them out, and I promptly chewed them down again after he paid up. He asked for it back but I think I just giggled. Now I usually have long nails, but they disappear before, during, or just after a big stressful event. They are gone right now because of my licensing exam (I think? I often don't know I actually feel stressed until I realize my nails are disappearing...it could be for another reason besides licensing? I don't know)

2) I swear at people when I'm driving. Today I swore at a firetruck for doing the most dangerous emergency vehicle driving I've ever seen in my life! I've really cut down when the kids are in the car, but sometimes they still slip out...

3) I always shower from the top down...wash the hair, then the face, shave the pits, scrub the body, wash the feet...always in the same order.

4) My breakfast rarely alters: 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter, and a mug of tea.


Here are the revised rules for this meme. You share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years; new house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to list four new things you want to try in the next four years.

FOUR NEW THINGS:

1) Having a baby! That was a big life change!!

2) Adopting Matthew! That was an even bigger life change, if you can believe it!! Adopting Matthew has taught me SO MUCH about myself, about life, about love, about how I cope, how I operate, my strengths, my weaknesses, God, forgiveness, God's love for us, how to create what you want in life (inasmuch as we can) and leave behind what you don't want, miracles, parenting, and grief.

3) Death--in the last four years I have encountered death at work in ways I never experienced before that, and would never have experienced if I didn't do the job I do...which makes me more grateful for what I have, and more determined to live as full a life as possible.

4) I've learned to care far less what strangers or acquaintances think of me, and to waste less emotional energy on them. I have learned instead to reserve my emotional energy for the people in my life who are closest to me: family and friends. They deserve the best of what I have to offer, my best face, and my greatest energy.

4 THINGS I HOPE FOR FOR THE FUTURE:

1) Another baby. Love babies!

2) To do my job well and save some more lives.

3) For Brent to be happy in his career...he has been looking for something new for years, so I'll be glad to see him happy!

4) To buy a hybrid car...they don't really make many hybrid cars that fit 3 carseats so we'll have to shop around! I drive SO MUCH to get to and from work and I feel guilty about the amount of noxious gases I contribute to the atmosphere! It would be nice to reduce that.

Now I am supposed to tag eight people. :)

I tag:
Sara
Louise
mom
Dana
Jen

That's all! Only if you want to!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I know!

I know you guys care! I said that tongue-in-cheek. :)

Update on fainting spells

Hmmm...either no one out there cares much about this quirk of Matthew's, or no one knows quite what to say about it. Well, at work last night I googled 'children holding breath' and I got quite a response. There were two scholarly articles, one of which quoted several research studies and was published in a medical journal, so that one I trusted the most. Surprisingly, 27 % of children have what are called "Simple Breath Holding Spells" (I thought that number higher than I expected), where emotional upset or pain causes a breath holding spell that does not result in fainting or falling. 4.6% of children have what are called "Severe Breath Holding Spells" (or BHS) where they will hold their breath until they lose consciousness, and sometimes they twitch almost like a seizure but not quite (Matthew does this). There are two types of severe BHS, which can look similar to seizure disorders or to some rare cardiovascular disorders. Matthew actually fits the profile for both types, which are cyanotic BHS and pallid BHS. A small percentage of children actually do have both types. Cyanotic BHS is usually caused by an emotional upset, and the child usually has its first episode between ages 6 and 12 months. The child starts to cry, exhaling and exhaling until they turn blue, and then faint. Classic Matthew. Pallid BHS is usually caused by pain, especially to the head, and the child starts to cry, stops breathing, turns very pale, and faints. Classic Matthew. In both cases it is theorized to be linked to Vagus Nerve stimulation, which is what causes 'fainting at the sight of blood' or 'with shocking news,' etc.
So! Good news thus far on the internet hunt for answers...I have yet to come accross a forum where parents swap stories or support each other, but hopefully I'll find one soon. Even ONE other parent for me to talk to about it would be helpful! Oh, and, while linked occasionally with other, more serious heart or other conditions, Matthew has none of the symptoms associated with these more serious conditions, and BHS is usually harmless.
Interestingly, 17% of kids with pallid BHS are prone to fainting as adults...not BHS, but fainting for other reasons. By the age of 7 or 8 virtually all kids with BHS stop, thus 'growing out of it.'
Also, iron deficiency has been linked with some cases and treatment (iron supplements) improves the condition for those children.

FYI!

You never know when you may need this info. Plus, I thought you may be interested. I'll still bring him to our doctor, but it's reassuring to know we're not alone.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Anyone out there faint as a kid?

Matthew has this quirk. When tired, or really hungry, or totally out of his element, he tends to cry a lot (not unusual in a 2 year old, I know). But, combined with hurting himself or feeling like he was unjustly treated, Matthew holds his breath until he turns blue, and sometimes he holds it for so long that he actually passes out. The longest he has stayed unconscious is about 20 seconds or so, and of course as soon as he passes out his brain tells his body to breathe again and he does. He wakes up sleepy and sometimes with a headache, and very docile and cuddly. He used to do this several times a day when he first came to our family, but has since gone through several stages where he didn't do it for 9 or 10 weeks, and then will do it more often...right now, I'd say once a month or so? Sometimes I can talk him out of the breath holding zone, and sometimes all I can do is just lie him down on his back so he doesn't fall or hit his head. His eyes roll back, he gets dusky looking skin, and his whole body twitches until he is deep enough in unconsciousness that he takes a breath, and then his body relaxes and a few seconds later he wakes up.

I had a cousin who held her breath until she was blue when she got mad, and I used to babysit her a lot and she did it sometimes, but she never fainted. I've heard of other kids who do this too, but it's not very common. My doctor said it's not harmful and that he'll grow out of it. Jane (our friend from Thailand, see 2 posts previous) said there have been a few children come through her orphanage who do this, one in particular who did used to pass out, but nothing bad ever came of it. But then my mom gets me worried every time we talk about it because she asks, 'are you sure your doctor says it's okay?' Even though she knows I'm not lying about it. So then I get worried.

Yesterday morning I was in the shower and Matthew ran into the bathroom to tell me something, slipped on a piece of paper, fell, and bonked his head on the floor. It was midmorning, which is his least tired time of day, and I don't think he was hungry or anything, so he must have bonked it pretty hard, because he started to cry and held his breath. Then he was trying to get up and kept slipping on the paper (as I'm slowly realizing what's going on and trying to get out of the shower to help him) so he got even MADDER, and he held his breath longer than he ever has before; this was the worst fainting episode he's ever had. I know as a paramedic that brain cells survive without oxygen for 4-6 minutes without damage, and Matthew usually faints after 35-40 seconds, so his brain is okay. Yesterday he held his breath for about 50 seconds...I didn't really count it but it felt longer than any other time, so I'm guessing it as about that length of time.

So my post today is a question: anyone else do this as a kid? Or have a sister/brother/cousin who did this? Anyone heard of some strange, dangerous disorder or condition associated with it? I think I may take him back to my Dr. but I have a feeling she's just going to be annoyed that I brought her this problem again when she told me it was nothing before. Any thoughts as to what I should do? One of my friends told me HER friend used to do it when they were kids and her dad would put her in a cold shower and slap her to try and snap her out of it, but it only made it worse. For Matthew also, any attempts to 'snap' him out of it with loud noises or yelling only makes him worse, so no suggestions on that vein, okay?! Thanks!

Another 4 km walk

Today marked the second 4 km round trip we have made without a stroller. I think we can officially say we can do it! Matthew was tired for the last 1/2 kilometre, but we made it!
Today was also Ayden's last music class of the season. I think next fall I will not put the boys in music lessons or swimming lessons and just have Ayden in preschool. That will be enough scrambling around for rides and child care while I'm working, never mind extra curricular activities! We can do those again when daddy returns. However this makes for a sad goodbye to Ayden's music class! It is for toddlers/preschoolers and I think he will be too old by next spring. We have had Ayden in that class every semester since he was 2, and he has loved it! We will sign him up for music lessons on an instrument when he goes to kindergarten so it is certainly not the end of music, but he loves his teacher Holly and he has had a lot of fun with the kids in his class and the types of activities they do together.
Speaking of Ayden, he is still in full monster mode. He has not lost his bunk bed sleeping privleges yet today but only because I forgot about that particular piece of leverage. We almost left his music class before it even started. I swear he hates me. When will it end????????????????????

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Busy Weekend

Well, I did take a few days off from blogging in order to give you all the impression that I have a life... :)
For some reason, some of the punctuation marks are not working on my keyboard, on blogger only, so I`m going to try and avoid questions and other punctuation marks I can`t seem to make the keyboard do.
We DID have a busy weekend, full of fun! (hmmm, the exclamation mark works...) On Sunday morning we had a child dedication service at our church, and we dedicated Matthew (I know, it is a year and a half later! This was the first time we were able to do it when the opportunity arose!). It was very emotional and sweet, and Matthew was funny. We don`t have any good photos on our camera from the event, but Brent`s parents have some on their camera, so I`ll post one of theirs when I get them emailed my way. I do have some of after the service, with our family in the park:


Shortly after church we headed out to Cultus Lake for our annual Thai Family Picnic, for all families in the area who have adopted children from Thailand. This year we had some important visitors! Jane Arnott and Amanda are missionaries who live in Thailand and are a big part of Agape Home, the orphanage that oversaw Matthew`s foster home (and others in the area), and also foster moms themselves to anywhere from 2-8 children at any given time. Jane is also our point of contact and our translator for our correspondance with Matthew`s birth mother. They were both at the picnic, so it was wonderful to see them. Jane brought gifts for us from Matthew`s birth family! Traditional Thai outfits for the boys, a new purse for me, and a Thai shirt for Brent. Here is a photo of the boys in their new outfits (that`s Jane on the right):


Also, yesterday my parents called and said that my dad had completed building bunk beds for the boys and could they drop them off that very day...so, last night my parents arrived and put up the beds amongst a couple of VERY EXCITED jumping boys (my dad calls them grasshoppers)! Unfortunately they don`t quite fit in their bedroom without being too close for comfort to the window, which is generally open all summer and has only a flimsy screen on it to keep flies OUT, not kids IN. We`re still working on a solution, but for now the bunk beds are kitty corner. We`re very excited to have them! The boys could hardly sleep last night.

Then Jane and Amanda came to our house to visit this afternoon, and took pictures and video of the boys to show his birth mom, and took back some gifts from us for his birth family. I have some pix of them. This is Kanlaya, his birth mom:


And it appears I`ve accidentally erased the photos I had of his brother and sister...hmmm...I wonder if Jane still has those saved on her computer. If so, I`ll add them later.

Ever since his return from Victoria, Ayden has been AWEFUL! There is something in the water in Victoria that turns preschoolers into monsters or something. He seems to have traded his regular voice for one 18 octaves higher, and 15 decibles louder. He also seems to be operating on the verge of a very high level of frustration, constantly. He is also incredibly defiant, and lost his sleeping in the bunkbed tonight privleges early in the day today. I used to throw away one of his favourite movies (or threaten to) in order to ensure compliance in the time out department...one must always have a bottomer bottom line, when one is a disciplining parent. A backup plan, if you will. Well, today I took the whole stack of movies and thumped them in the garbage can and it didn`t do a damn thing. He was still flailing and throwing objects and leaping up from his time out chair. I thought better of that and took them out of the garbage can and announced the `loss of sleeping in the bunkbed privlege` consequence. That worked. For that interaction. The thing with the bunkbed privlege is that once you take it away once, you can`t take it away again all day. `Tomorrow too` is just too far away to be a proper consequence for a four year old. So I needed more leverage. I didn`t come up with any, but for the rest of the day time outs worked. The thing is, Ayden doesn`t usually need time outs, or even really disciplining much anymore. Talking to him rationally works most of the time, and he doesn`t usually push too much when we say `no` or `you have to` but today was eight hours of forcible self discipline on my part not to get caught up in the power struggle or the emotional roller coaster, but to state the rules and follow through calmly. I must say I did yell a few times. And there was one incident in the van where I just turned the radio up so loud it was distorting in the speakers, but at least it partially drowned him out.
Hopefully he`ll be better soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Return of the lost sheep

Ayden is home! He came home the dirtiest, weariest, happiest four year old boy on the planet. They went fishing and swimming and played with Ayden's cousin Kaleb, who is 2, and they rode the bus and they generally had a blast! I am glad he had so much fun with his cool Auntie and cousins, and that he is home safe and sound.
In fact, I was very glad for this opportunity to be alone with Matthew for three days. For me these were the best three days so far since he came home a year and a half ago, which says a lot because we've had some great times! We went to the water park and for ice cream, and for long walks, and to the beach in Tsawwassen for four hours, and generally had a great time. He was calmer because he had no one to compete with, and I just had more time and attention to give him! It was fabulous.