Monday, December 24, 2007

O Holy Night

Allison made this beautiful nativity scene at school.

"O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth!"
Have a joyful Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Allison takes the stage

Today Allison's class put on a performance of "Martin the Cobbler". This is a beautiful play about a kind, honest shoemaker who is saddened by losses in his past and who feels that God no longer visits him anymore. Later he comes to realize that the many people whom he meets and helps each day actually are God visiting him. This play is taken from Leo Tolstoy's story "Where Love Is"--the theme being that "Where love is, God is."

Allison had the role of an old woman in the play. Here she is in costume, and with her classmates and teacher, Dianne Dowling.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another day, another concert!

Tonight Bayridge Nursery School had its Christmas concert. We all had a wonderful evening.

Jonathan played a sheep in a little play based on Max Lucado's book "The Crippled Lamb". Here is Jonathan standing in the middle of the stage, and sitting with his fellow cast members.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Jonathan's "Clifford" Concert

Who's big and red and comes at Christmastime? Well, apparently it's Clifford, the Big Red Dog! Today the Kindergarten classes at Rideau Public School had a "Clifford" Concert. It was adorable to see 50-60 little Cliffords with red tails and floppy ears! There's Jonathan at the top with his teacher, Kathy Mardicis, and here with several of his classmates.

Jonathan was shy when he came out and saw the sea of strange faces, but he did very well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

spooky fun

Here is Allison wearing a beautiful pumpkin sweater that she won in a raffle at the school Pumpkinfest.

Here are Princess Prinsen and ... uh ... Shirley Temple? trick-or-treating at the home of our neighbours/friends Heather and Jonathan Vandersteen.

Out front waiting for the fun to begin!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"home sweet habitat"

Today Jonathan's nursery school had a field trip to the Cataraqui Conservation Area to participate in their "home sweet habitat" program teaching kids about birds and other woodland creatures. Rich took Jonathan on this outing. Here are a few scenes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The girls

Here are Allison and me: Allison with a brand-new haircut (just in time for picture day next Monday) and me with a brand-new hair colour. Hmm--maybe going from salt and pepper to dark brown was a bit drastic! Oh well, it's good to shake things up now and then.

Monday, October 08, 2007

family fun at Thanksgiving

Yesterday we had our Prinsen family Thanksgiving at Audrey's house. It was so warm we ate our meal outside. Here's Jonathan with his cousin Cara, relaxing in a seat removed from the van.
Allison and Cara.

Jonathan with Luke, Corey, and Cara.
In two weeks we'll have a bigger family gathering with Ed, his wife Mari who will just have come from Cuba, and Mark, Carolyn & family.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Make new friends, but keep the old ...

... one is silver, the other gold."
Here is Allison with her collection of favourite friends, freshly washed and looking their best.
In back is Hearts, with Pinkie in front of her.
Middle row, left to right: Ducky, Cara, and Splashy.
Down in front: Quack, Chicky, and Junie B. Jones.
Here's to friends, stuffed or otherwise!

Monday, September 17, 2007


They sometimes say that the only constant thing in life is change, but sometimes you just want to say, "ENOUGH!"

This morning I walked Jonathan to school. I spied his teacher, Mme Bordeleau, in the schoolyard (in the middle of a cluster of other adults) and pointed her out to him. Just then the principal approached us and summoned us over to the gathered group. As we walked over, she told us that Mme Bordeleau was leaving.

It turns out that the enrollment for English kindergarten was higher than expected; and since the provincial government wants to cap all primary classes at 20 students, they are going to have two English kindergarten classes instead of one. So there will be a new kindergarten teacher teaching both the Mon/Wed class (Jonathan's class) and the newly-created Tues/Thurs class; and Mme Bordeleau is switching to a different school.

Apparently this has been happening at a lot of public schools this fall, as registrations are always in flux for the first couple of weeks.

The positives in this situation are
(1) that Jonathan was not switched to the Tues/Thurs group. Because he stays on his original Mon/Wed schedule he can still attend nursery school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and go to his Thurs. morning church program with Phyllis.
(2) that his class will now be smaller, allowing for more individual attention.
(3) that Mrs. Stewart, who is the classroom EA and a really nice woman, will be staying with the class.

But it's still a huge disappointment to know that Jonathan will not have Mme Bordeleau this year after all. Our association with her was short, but she really seemed like the perfect teacher for Jonathan. The reality is, though, that Jonathan will probably adjust very well. He has only had her for 4 mornings and will probably get used to someone new in no time. Today she gave Jonathan a Blue's Clues stuffed toy from the classroom that he'd been especially interested in. Goodbye Mme Bordeleau--we will miss you!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Today Allison and Jonathan spent a few hours with their cousin Sadie, who will be 3 next Friday!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Our Big Week

Yes, Franceen, I'm starting to do this picture thing! This week I got a digital camera and am figuring out how to take and view photos, put them on the computer, post them to my blog, mail them ...
Here you see Allison and Jonathan celebrating Jonathan's birthday and heading off to school.

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

Today we're delighted to be celebrating Jonathan's fifth birthday! (Here he is with Daddy.) It's hard to believe that 5 years have already passed since we brought him home. Jonathan is a funny, feisty little guy who makes us laugh and (to be honest) cry. We can't imagine our family without him! Jonathan, we hope you have a great day and a great year at school. We love you a lot!

Friday, September 07, 2007

"A lovely morning" at kindergarten

This has been an exciting week for Jonathan. It's been exciting for Allison too, but a little more predictable since she has the teacher she expected for grade 4 and is back with almost all of the same classmates. But for Jonathan this is a week of firsts.

On Wednesday I took him to an open house at his new kindergarten classroom at our local public school. He met his teacher and the Educational Assistant who works with the class, and he checked out the toys in the classroom, but he was fairly noncommittal about it and was eager to leave after a half-hour.

On Thursday afternoon he had his second open house: this time at his nursery school, which he went to last year and which he'll be attending on the alternate days from kindergarten. Now this was a different story entirely. He was so obviously comfortable and happy and at-home in the nursery school room: he went right in and found his favourite toys and played contentedly for the entire hour. He was also delighted to see Laurie and Janet, his teachers, again.

Today was the Big Day: his first morning of kindergarten. Rich and Allison and I all went with him to the schoolyard. There were many kids and parents milling around, and it was very hot. Before we even entered the yard Jonathan was crying, clinging to Rich, and saying "Go! Go!" The bell rang, and his teacher appeared in the doorway. Jonathan rushed inside, forgetting his backpack; when I took it to him he cried and screamed. The teacher encouraged me just to leave, so we left the schoolyard feeling a lot of trepidation about how things were going to go.

Rich and I stayed home all morning just in case the school were to call us. Amazingly, they didn't! We had coffee on the deck and read books and realized that we hadn't had a morning like this since before Allison was born. Such is the experience of all parents sending that last child off to school, I suppose.

We're starting Jonathan off with mornings only at kindergarten, so at 11:30 we headed back to the school. We went into the quiet hallway and peered in the window of the classroom door. All was peaceful and organized; most of the kids were working at desk activities, and we saw Jonathan and a classmate playing a game on the carpet with the EA. When the teacher saw us, she invited us in and said "He's had a lovely morning!" She said the crying had stopped very quickly, and she reassured us that it was best to leave quickly each morning and not worry. She also showed us some "work" he had done: a sheet on which he'd tried to trace a line through a maze--his first-ever kindergarten worksheet.

As we got him ready to leave, a classmate called, "Bye Jonathan!" and he waved and said goodbye to his new friends, whom he'll see again on Monday morning. All in all, a very good day to end a busy and exciting week.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"I want ..."

Jonathan has been doing some speech-therapy sessions this summer with Annette at Hotel Dieu Hospital. The goal is to get him speaking in two (or more) - word combinations, since at the moment he speaks mostly in single words, usually to comment on what he wants or what interests him: "Toast!" "Plane!" "Truck!" etc. Annette uses toys and games as incentive to try to get him to speak: for example, she will show him a picture card, say "Boy drinking," and try to get Jonathan to repeat the words. If he does, she rewards him, perhaps by letting him capture a toy fish or giving him a little toy sword to stick in a slot. As she gives him this reward she encourages him to say "I want red" or "I want fish." He is getting the idea, although sometimes he is so focused on saying "I want" that he uses it out of context; or when she tries to change it to "I got," he keeps repeating "I want." And halfway through our last session, as Annette was getting out another game, Jonathan sat back happily and said, "I ... want ... ba-ba day!" In other words, blue-box day, his favourite time of the week.

Whether in single words or the occasional phrase, he gets his point across, even if it's in kind of an unorthodox way at times. When we were in PEI, Rich would try to get him to thank Grandma for the meal. After one supper (when Jonathan had just eaten his sixth potato of the day), Rich said, "Say 'thank you Grandma.' " To which Jonathan replied enthusiastically, "Pay-toes! Good!" Grandma agreed that that was thanks enough.

Monday, August 20, 2007

PEI vacation

We just got back from a 2-week vacation in PEI. We had a very relaxing and enjoyable time there, as always. As soon as we arrived, Allison went looking for the old readers Grandpa & Grandma have on their bookshelf, and Jonathan went looking for toys--in other words, they made themselves at home.

This vacation was particularly special because I got to see all of my brothers--a rarity. We haven't all been together since May 2005. One lives in Maine, one in London ON, one in Fredericton NB (just moved from Edmonton), and one in PEI, so we are quite spread out. It was fun to see them, my 3 sisters-in-law, and my 2 nieces Meredith (14) and Sadie (almost 3).

The strangest thing that happened during our stay in PEI was a 2-day power outage. We should have paid attention to the small omen that occurred on Thursday night while we were staying at a motel in New Brunswick: the power went off for an hour in the middle of the night. Whether that was a portent of the coming storm I'm not sure but a big electrical storm hit different parts of PEI on Fri Aug 3 and Sat Aug 4. At 5 pm on the Saturday, just as we sat down to eat Allison's birthday dinner, the power went out--and it didn't come on until 3pm on Monday. There were many outages all over the Island; extra hydro crews from Newfoundland had to be called in to help get things up and running again. Meanwhile we had 9 people in the house and no lights, running water, or operational toilets. Enforced camping, you might say. We lit kerosene lamps, foraged for cold meals, did a couple of Tim Horton's coffee runs, went to a campground for water, took my parents' small freezer to plug in at an uncle's house ... in other words, we made do. These experiences always make you realize how much you take modern conveniences for granted! We certainly cheered when the lights came on on Monday afternoon.

Otherwise we had a lot of fun going on drives, playing at the beach, and doing touristy things. Allison and I went with my brother and his family to see the "Anne of Green Gables" musical--Allison's first time, my fourth, though I hadn't been in many years.

For me the best times were just sitting around in the kitchen or on the front lawn with family members, exchanging stories and laughing at the antics of kids and dogs. Bye for now, PEI--see you next year!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Happy 9th birthday Allison

Today, August 4, Allison turns nine; this will be her last single-digit year! Allison is growing up into a beautiful young lady with a creative imagination. Not only is she an avid (OK, addicted is a better word) reader, often having 45 books out of the library at one time, but she is turning into a creative and fluent writer who keeps a journal and a "Jonathan funny book" and is writing her own stories.

Happy birthday Allison!

We love you!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

friendship skills

Allison's experience at Friendship Camp is now just a memory, but a good one. She is already talking about going back next year if the camp is held again.

Each day the staff sent home a letter describing the activities done and the skills taught, and suggesting activities to be done at home. One of the major things the group covered was emotional management, with an interesting five-point scale used to rate how upsetting each child might find a particular thing. The points on the scale were
(1) doesn't bother me
(2) bugs me
(3) makes me nervous
(4) upsets me
(5) I could lose control
The children were given an envelope with dozens of small strips of paper that said things like "getting my hair washed", "a thunderstorm", "having dirty hands", "meeting someone new", "losing a game", "being praised", etc. and they were to put each strip in the pocket that corresponded to how upsetting that thing was to them. They made posters with colours and pictures that expressed each level on the scale. They also learned all kinds of strategies for dealing with things that might upset them. For example, they made a "toolbox", a booklet with things they could do to relax and calm themselves during/after upsetting events. They practiced breathing techniques and even a few yoga poses that could help with relaxation.

One thing to be learned from the above activities is that there is a surprising range in what people find upsetting. Allison said meeting new people did not bother her at all, yet being praised makes her nervous. (We learned long ago that effusive praise is entirely the wrong approach with Allison and can even make her cry; a casual "Hey, it's cool how you did that" or "That's pretty nice writing" is much more effective.)

The children also learned a lot of different strategies for typical social situations:
- how to talk on the phone
- how to break politely into a group that is already involved in conversation
- how to recognize when someone else has something to say or is bored by your monologue
- how close to stand to someone depending on if it's a family member, stranger, etc.
Many of these were taught by the camp staff doing little skits that showed the kids the wrong way to behave, and then asking for suggestions on how to act differently.

It is really amazing that this program is offered for children like Allison. She learned some good practical skills, had a lot of fun, and made some new friends.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Allison's "Friendship Camp"

This is an exciting week for Allison. Every morning she will be attending a Friendship Skills Camp run by the Child Development Centre here in town. This no-cost program is exclusively for children with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism, and this week's camp is just for 8- and 9-year-olds. There are only six children attending, and interestingly enough there is one other girl besides Allison. In terms of children with these disorders, boys outnumber girls by about 4 to 1, so to have two girls in such a small group is wonderful.

I dropped Allison off for her first morning at the camp, held at a local school. Tears came to my eyes as I entered the room and saw this small group of sweet, quirky little people, greeting each other in their awkward ways. The other little girl, whose name is Madison, immediately focused on Allison and said "Hi!" to her with a big smile. When the morning was over and the parents came to pick up their kids, Madison went to her mom and excitedly pointed Allison out, saying, "This is Allison! Her name is Allison!"

The camp is specifically geared to helping children develop friendship-making skills and understanding emotions. Today they did activities like role-playing conversations, colouring pictures according to the feelings depicted, and practicing greetings--not to mention plain old fun on the playground. Allison had a great first morning and is very excited about the rest of the week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I have a friend whom I met back in 1987, when she moved into another room in the house I was living in. She was a first-year student while I had just completed my Master's, but in spite of our difference in age we clicked and became great friends. I haven't seen her since her graduation in 1991 (she moved to southwestern Ontario and then to Alberta), but we've exchanged Christmas cards ever since and although our contact is infrequent I consider her a lifelong friend. She and her husband have always sent out the most beautiful family photos at Christmastime, and it was delightful to get one each year and see them with their first daughter and then, a couple of years later, with their second.

At Christmas 2005 I opened their card with anticipation and found another beautiful picture: of my friend, her husband, and one little girl holding a teddy bear. It took a moment to sink in (literally, "What is wrong with this picture?"), but my friend's note on the card explained it all: earlier that year their younger daughter had died suddenly at age 2 as a result of toxic shock. I cried as I looked again at their faces--serene yet with an expression that showed they knew something most of us do not--and at the teddy bear, which had been their little girl's favourite toy.

This past Christmas my friend's card said that they were expecting another baby in May, and just this week I received a photo and announcement of their new baby daughter, Grace. My friend wrote, "It is so good to feel joy again." They have walked through the valley of the shadow, and they are still moving forward, with grace.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Small hands

Lately we've been immersed in the world of The Lord of the Rings. Rich gave me volumes 1 and 2 on DVD for Christmas, and I just bought volume 3, which we're preparing to watch in one 3 hr 20 min sitting later this week. They are truly spectacular movies which bring to life a very long, complex, detailed book and present it in a form that is easier to grasp yet still true to the original.

I've always found the story very compelling. The core of it is simple: a quiet, peace-loving hobbit named Frodo becomes the possessor of a Ring of Power whose evil master wants to get hold of it and use it to destroy the world of men. Frodo's task is to go to Mount Doom and throw the Ring into the fire so that it will be destroyed. Many different characters--such as elves, dwarves, a good wizard, other hobbits, and various kings--are involved in helping Frodo accomplish his task, while a variety of enemies (hideous Orcs, an evil wizard, and a monstrous spider, just to name a few) threaten his quest. And the enigmatic Gollum--a twisted, creepy, corrupted being whom Frodo needs as a guide to Mount Doom--dogs the travellers' steps and plays a crucial role in the final outcome.

The story teaches many important lessons about life, one of which is that we must all accept and attempt to carry out the task that life has set for us--even if it threatens our comfort. Hobbits like nothing better than to eat and smoke in their cosy holes in the ground, but Frodo must venture forth to accomplish a near-impossible task that he would never have chosen for himself. Another related lesson is that we must accept our station in life, whether high or low. The one who is called to be a king must be one, and not flee his responsibility out of fear or even a false sense of humility. And the one who is called to be a servant--to support and accompany the ring-bearer, for instance, as Sam does--must embrace that role and not try to take on more than he has been given to do.

My favourite line from the book reminds us that seemingly insignificant deeds and roles are very important. The wise elf-king Elrond says,

"The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Family Demotions

Every now and then you read in Christian magazines or books about the importance of family devotions. These articles usually create an idealized image of angelic looking children seated around the family table, listening reverently as Dad reads a lengthy passage from the Bible and makes profound commentary on the significance of the passage.

Here is the reality in our household: Allison reads the children's Bible aloud after supper. She stumbles over the words "plague of flies" and it comes out "plague of fries." Jonathan is resting his head on his arm, making loud farting noises against his fat forearm, or dropping half-eaten bits of red pepper off the edge of the table. Later, Allison (influenced by her extensive reading of the collected works of Beverly Cleary) might be singing "What a Friend We Have in Beezus" or "Beezus Loves the Little Children".

All I can say is: if God doesn't have a sense of humour, we are in serious trouble and can expect the plague of fries to descend at any moment.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Don't Laugh At Me"

Yesterday Allison's school put on a tea for parents/grandparents who had volunteered throughout the year. Each class entertained the crowd with a few songs and skits. I knew Allison's class was going to perform a song but she wouldn't tell me ahead of time what it was; she wanted it to be a surprise. Here is the song they sang:

Don't Laugh at Me

I'm the little boy with glasses, the one they call the "geek"
The little girl who never smiles 'cause I've got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep

I'm that kid on every playground who's always chosen last
A single teenage mother trying to overcome my past
You don't have to be my friend, but is it too much to ask

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me

I'm the cripple on the corner; you've passed me on the street
And I wouldn't be out here begging if I had enough to eat
And don't think I don't notice that our eyes never meet

I lost my wife and little boy when someone crossed that yellow line
The day we laid them in the ground is the day I lost my mind
And right now I'm down to holding this little cardboard sign, so

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me.

I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm short, I'm tall,
I'm deaf, I'm blind, hey aren't we all

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me.

What a touching message! As the kids sang along with the CD, Allison's face was shining and she was totally focused. At home afterward I said, "I liked that song you sang" and she smiled and said, "I like it too."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nursery school concert

On Tuesday night Jonathan's nursery school had its spring concert. Jonathan's class (the afternoon group) performed a skit based on the Robert Munsch book Murmel Murmel Murmel. Jonathan and his friend Greg were pizza delivery men, and when the time came, Jonathan stated his line--"PIZZA!"--loudly and authoritatively. Then his class sang "This Little Light of Mine". The whole evening consisted of subdued mayhem, with dozens of proud parents toting cameras and camcorders. Once again we were amazed at the patience of Laurie and Janet, who calmly guided 28 under-five-year-olds through two skits and three songs.

Jonathan's first school experience has been a good one, and he will miss his teachers and his Tuesday/Thursday routine this summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Yesterday was Rich's and my 17th anniversary. At the risk of stating a cliche, 17 years seems like a long time, but on the other hand it has passed so quickly. A few years ago our celebration might have consisted of a fancy dinner out. Now it involves pizza and a movie after the kids have gone to bed--and that's just fine!

I sometimes imagine what it would have been like if, on our wedding day, the minister had stood up and said, "Here's what you can expect down the road. You will wait many difficult years before having children, but you will rejoice when your daughter arrives and brings so much joy into your life. Then you will have a son, who will have a seizure when he is ten months old. Y ou will spend the next few years going to appointments for him and realizing that he is developmentally delayed. You will find out that your daughter also has a developmental disorder." etc. etc. Thankfully, we aren't given this information ahead of time, and it's a good thing. My friend Franceen recently reminded me of Corrie ten Boom's story of her father, who assured her that God would give her the strength she needed to face whatever came--but He would only give it at the moment it was needed, just as the young Corrie would only be given her train ticket moments before she got on the train.

Well, after 17 years I can say it has been a good trip so far. It is good to celebrate together and to face difficulties together. It is good to cheer each other on, to laugh together at the same silly things, and to look forward to the next stage of the journey.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Today's transition meeting

Today we went to Jonathan's new school for a transition meeting, to discuss his needs for September. A large group of people were present: the principal, the kindergarten teacher, the special ed representative for the entire school board, the school's part-time special ed person, a representative who knows Jonathan from the child development centre at the hospital, a representative from a local agency that assists people with special needs, and Rich and me.

It was a very enjoyable and positive meeting. The school board rep asked us all kinds of questions about Jonathan's skills, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, all for the purpose of determining what kind of extra help and services he might need when he starts school. For instance, an occupational therapist may come in to the classroom to help him with things like cutting, pasting, and pencil-holding, and a speech-language pathologist may come in to help him with language skills. The kindergarten class may also be assigned an Educational Assistant to provide extra help to any children in the class who need a bit more support. We also discussed the possibility of Jonathan attending school for half-days only, at least to start, something we can decide in September.

We left the meeting feeling very encouraged and supported by the school and the school board. Everyone in the room seemed enthusiastic about having Jonathan attend that school, and the principal emphasized that the main priority was to give him the best possible start in school.

So this fall will be a whole new set of experiences for our family. Allison will enter grade 4 at the Catholic School where she has gone since her kindergarten days, and Jonathan will go to kindergarten at the public school just two blocks from there. And since Allison's current school only goes up to grade 5, it's entirely possible that in two years she will be joining Jonathan at his school. We have also decided to send Jonathan back to his nursery school this fall; he will go there 2 afternoons a week (as he did this year) and attend kindergarten on the other days.

It is good to see how everything is falling into place. We feel well taken care of!

Friday, June 01, 2007

So many books, so little time

Actually, that is not true: there is always enough time to read! Here are some books I've been reading lately:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. This beautifully illustrated short novel tells the story of a self-centred china rabbit who is separated from his doting owner and learns a great deal about himself, life, and love from those he meets on his journey.

The Glass Castle , a memoir by Jeannette Walls, a New York journalist. This is a fascinating, at times almost unbelievable, true story. Walls tells about how she and her three siblings grew up with a brilliant alcoholic father and a free-spirited, irresponsible mother, and how they lived in poor, squalid conditions all over the U.S. until the children were each able to "escape" to New York and create new lives ... but can you ever really escape your past?

Ordinary Grace by Kathleen Brehony. Brehony examines why people do good things for others. She explores numerous examples of ordinary people who do things like work in soup kitchens, visit seniors, donate organs, teach troubled youth, and many other selfless acts that make life better for a few, or for many.

Prayer by Phillip Yancey. I just got this one, but it looks like it will be as interesting and mind-stretching as all of Yancey's other books.

Rich and I have also watched a couple of interesting movies (actually, there are some broad similarities between these two):

Ladies in Lavender (with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench). This movie shows how two spinster sisters are affected when they find an injured young man on the beach near their home. The plot has some loose ends, but the portrayal of the two women is really touching.

Second-Hand Lions (with Robert Duvall and Michael Caine). A young boy comes to spend the summer on a farm with his two eccentric great-uncles and gets caught up in the mystery of their fascinating past. Are the stories true? Or does that even matter? A delightful, surprising final scene makes for a satisfying conclusion. (Thanks for the recommendation, Brenda!)

Monday, May 28, 2007

"That's okay"

Tonight we met the woman who will be Jonathan's kindergarten teacher this fall. The school had a kindergarten open house this evening, so we went to that--Rich for the first part of the hour, I for the whole meeting. The school has both French Immersion and English kindergarten, and when we all met together with the principal and teachers, I realized I was the only parent there for English kindergarten! (They have 3 French classes and only one English.) But that was actually wonderful because I was able to go down to the classroom with the teacher and talk one-on-one with her for about half an hour. She told me all about how she organizes her class, how the daily routine unfolds, etc. She seems like a very suitable teacher for Jonathan--a little older than most kindergarten teachers (by her own admission), and somewhat old-fashioned in her appearance and demeanour. I can see him becoming very attached to her, just as he has with Laurie and Janet, his nursery-school teachers.

Because no other parents were present, we got to talk about some of the issues which we'll discuss in more detail at the larger transition meeting being held next Wednesday (with the principal, special ed teacher, etc.). It was really neat because everything I would bring up as a possible area of concern, she would reply, "That's okay."
"He's pretty delayed in his language: his longest sentence would be 'there it is'."
"That's okay."
"He's not toilet trained yet."
"That's okay, I had a child last year, and they got an EA to come in and help him with training. Besides, he may come a long way over the summer."
"His fine motor skills are not that great yet; he can really only scribble."
"That's okay, we'll start wherever he is."

She seemed pleased and eager to have Jonathan in her class, and now that I've visited the classroom and met her, I can more easily imagine him as a little kindergartener in September.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

food for the soul

Today was a beautiful day. Instead of my usual afternoon of taking Jonathan to nursery school and doing errands while I wait for him, I let Rich handle that assignment and instead went to a noon-hour concert at St. George's Cathedral. This was the first in a series of Thursday concerts they are having throughout the summer; I've never gone before but decided to go to this one and invited my friend Lori to join me. A young tenor named Christopher Mayell was the performer, and I really enjoy listening to tenor vocalists. He sang a number of different pieces, most of which I didn't know, although a few were in English and familiar, such as "The Water is Wide", "Ash Grove", and "Down By The Salley Gardens".

The high point was the final piece, a duet which he sang with another young man. It is quite a famous duet from the opera "The Pearl Fishers" by Bizet. I realize all that makes me sound very highbrow and la-di-da, but in fact all I know is that I love this piece of music. I had to go on the internet to find out exactly what the song is about. In the song, the two men are in the temple and see a beautiful woman appear. They are instantly smitten with her and sing back and forth about how lovely she is. Then they resolve not to let their love for her destroy their friendship, but to let it unite them even more closely. It was a beautiful duet: a perfect ending to a beautiful concert.

This experience reminds me of the importance of taking time to do enjoyable things like this when the opportunity arises. As parents of young kids Rich and I realize there are lots of things we just can't do at this time in our lives, and accepting our limitations, rather than rebelling against them, is the best thing to do. But that doesn't mean we can't just say "I want to go to a concert" or "I want to join the church baseball team" or whatever. Doing what you love--whether playing a sport, or listening to beautiful music, or reading a good book--provides food for the soul.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Just say "NO"

There is a particular parenting website that I've been checking out for the last couple of years. It has forums on every parent- and child-related topic under the sun: from baby names to teen health to homeschooling and beyond. One of its forums is "Special Needs," and I check that one out most frequently, sometimes just to read the posts and gain information, other times to ask or answer questions. It's great when someone writes, for example, "My son is going to start taking Valproic Acid for seizures; has anyone else used this medication?" and I can respond with some first-hand knowledge of that specific subject.

But lately I've been disturbed by the negativity of a particular person who posts regularly. Someone might write to ask, "How does the school pick an EA [educational assistant]?" and she will write, "Your school will probably resist your request for an EA; be prepared to fight for it." Someone else might ask, "How does an IEP [Individual Education Plan] work?" and she will reply, "Don't worry about having an IEP; worry about all the roadblocks the school system will put in your path to make your child's life difficult." This is her take on every subject raised: everyone, particularly the school system, is out to thwart you and your child and to deliberately and maliciously keep you from getting what you need.

I finally had to stop visiting this forum--not before writing my own post stating my discomfort with this endless negativity. There is nothing wrong with expressing feelings of dissatisfaction or discouragement; there is nothing wrong with saying that we feel we've been wronged; there is even nothing wrong with complaining (that's often what these forums are great for: being a place to vent to others who understand and can commiserate). But purposefully and repeatedly trying to infect others with a negative, cynical spirit when their circumstances may be very different from our own is wrong and toxic.

I know that I can't let that kind of spirit affect me, especially at this point when we are preparing to start Jonathan in kindergarten this fall. The principal called yesterday to say that a transition meeting is scheduled for June 6 so that she, the teacher, the special ed teacher, and everyone else involved with Jonathan can discuss his entry into "real school". We feel a bit anxious, but hopeful and excited too. If problems arise, we will have to deal with them--but to anticipate them ahead of time, and assume that those whose job it is to help Jonathan are going to resist doing so, is unfair to both Jonathan and the school.

Besides, in the life of faith there has to be a sense of hope. We all feel discouragement and confusion, even despair, at times, but walking with God means we never lose hope--and we resist those who might try to rob us of it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Welcome to our school"

Those friendly yet official-sounding words represent another step in our journey toward kindergarten entrance for Jonathan. A few weeks ago we were told that the Catholic school Allison attends probably cannot accept Jonathan due to unexpectedly high enrollment. So we were left to explore other options.

Last week I went to our local public school, which is within walking distance of home and only 1-1/2 blocks from Allison's school. It is a very large building with 400+ students and several portables (what we used to call "mobiles" when I was in school), and I felt a bit intimidated when I went in. But the secretaries were very friendly, and as I was asking them my questions about kindergarten enrollment, the principal stepped out of her office and introduced herself. I told her briefly about some of Jonathan's special issues, and she said right away, "That would involve setting up a transition meeting with the special ed teacher etc. and we would do all that before the end of this school year ... and we'd look into him having a staggered start, maybe doing only 1/2 days at first ... and we'd look into what kind of help he'd need in the classroom" etc. etc. She seemed so positive and so on-top of the situation; it really gave me a good feeling. There is a part of me (admittedly a steadily shrinking part) that thinks we are imposing and making more work for the school, etc.--but then I remember that every child has the right to the best possible education he or she can have.

After reviewing the kindergarten materials and talking to a couple of people from our church whose kids attend that school and who spoke highly of it, we decided to go ahead and register Jonathan. So today I brought in the completed forms and a package of background information about Jonathan's various tests and assessments. The secretary looked the forms over, then smiled and said, "Welcome to our school!"

So we have taken another step along the path. We can't see too far ahead, but at the moment it feels like we are going the right way.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This gives "baby picture" a whole new meaning!

First of all, I apologize for this very small photo. This is Jonathan at nursery school, looking at a box full of baby chicks--a beautiful picture that I'd love you all to see. However, I'm having a lot of problems posting photos on this blog and have been trying to shrink my photos until Blogger will accept them. (Thanks for your help, Franceen!) But this is the largest picture I could post! I kept shrinking the file and saving it with all different names: "" etc. This one I called "itty.bitty"!

Oh well, I'll keep working on it.

In the meantime, get out your magnifying glasses and enjoy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Mother's Day reflection

When I was young I had a Barry Manilow album. That not only dates me, but leaves me open to public ridicule! Anyway, there was a song on it that I still remember (and which I heard a few months ago on CBC Stereo - I hadn't heard it since my teenage days). Its words bring home to me the reality and significance of motherhood:

I Am Your Child

I am your child.
Wherever you go,
You take me too;
Whatever I know
I learned from you.
Whatever I do,
You taught me to do.
I am your child.

And I am your chance.
Whatever will come
Will come from me;
Tomorrow is won
By winning me.
Whatever I am,
You taught me to be.
I am your hope.
I am your chance.
I am your child.

I'd like to dedicate this to 8 strong, funny, loving women--7 moms and a mom/grandma--with whom I meet every 2nd Thursday afternoon to share, talk, and provide support. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Rich!

Today is Rich's birthday, and as we like to say, he has now "caught up to me." (What a trial it is to be 3 weeks older than your husband!) We have been having an enjoyable day: we went to church and then had our friends/neighbours Jonathan & Heather Vandersteen over for lunch, a good chat, and a trip to the park.

I have now known Rich for almost 20 years. He is a thoughtful, humble person whom I am honoured to know and be married to. He is also an excellent athlete (soccer, running, etc.) and an all-round nice guy.
Happy Birthday hon!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Family fun

We've had a great week with Mom and Dad, who stayed 6 nights with us, and with Alan, Genevieve, and Sadie (my brother, sister-in-law, and niece) from London, who were in Kingston for 4 nights and spent lots of time with us. While we had a couple of outings, such as a trip to Lake on the Mountain, most of our time was spent hanging out with the kids and enjoying meals and coffee times together. It was especially fun to see the changes in our niece, whom we haven't seen since November and who is now 2 years 7 months old: she is speaking in complete sentences and becoming quite a little lady. Mom and Dad are seeing all of their grandchildren on this one trip, which is a rare occurrence.

We have lots of good memories of the visit and are already looking forward to vacationing in PEI in August!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Grandma and Grandpa are coming!

It's an exciting day here at the "little house": Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit from PEI. At this very moment they are on the train somewhere in Quebec, heading this way. We should have a lot of fun together for the next week!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Walking with Truth

One Sunday evening a month, our "little house on the circle" becomes a place of worship. For about a year and a half now, a small group of people has been meeting at our house for an informal time of singing, discussion, and prayer. There are six of us who attend consistently, and a few others who have participated for a little while and then moved on. Each month we choose a theme ahead of time (such as trust, faith, worship, wisdom, or joy), and we bring whatever thoughts, questions, readings, or songs we might want to contribute to the evening.

Last night our theme was "truth". We focused on Jesus as the source and embodiment of truth, on the inseparability of truth from love, and on the need to cling fast to the truths of our faith, whatever the particular circumstances we find ourselves in.

A sentence in a book I read several years ago has stayed with me: "The truth is always your friend." In other words, truth--though at times it may seem painful--will never betray us or work against us, but is always on our side.

I can say that I have found this to be true in my own life. Having embarked on the journey of special-needs family life--a journey, by the way, which I did not plan to take, did not discuss with a travel agent, did not buy a ticket for, and for which the itinerary is open-ended--I can absolutely say that I am making friends with truth (although we're not as close as we could be; we don't finish each other's sentences yet, and I admit I take a while to return her calls sometimes).

In any case, I'm grateful for the opportunity we have in this small monthly gathering to focus our minds and hearts on concepts which at first seem to be abstract and ethereal, but which are in fact essential to practical daily living. Worship, then, isn't separate from real life but integral to it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

our long-lost cousin ... Sidney!

After nature's mean trick on Monday, spring has arrived!! The brilliant blue sky, warm sunshine, and gentle breeze are enough to lift anyone's spirits--but not having to wear boots and mitts is truly "the icing on the cake".

Here's one for those of our family and friends who enjoy Jonathan-isms (especially you hockey fans out there): the other night Rich and Jonathan were watching the Ottawa-Pittsburgh game. Rich was pointing out superstar Sidney Crosby, and Jonathan was trying his best to get his tongue around the consonants in the name. A little while later, Rich asked him, "Jonathan, what's Sidney's last name? Sidney ... ?" And Jonathan replied, "Prinsen!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New name, same great content

I've decided to change the name of this blog to "little house on the circle", in order to avoid having our last name in the title. I suppose our street is really more of a rectangle, but "little house on the rectangle" sounds weird. Oh, and it was taken.

Just kidding. :-P

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Setback? or "New Thing"?

On Friday we received some discouraging news. The school that Allison attends and where we had hoped to register Jonathan in kindergarten in the fall may not be able to accept him. Kindergarten enrollment is expected to be unusually high this year, and because it is a Catholic school and Catholic children take priority, the school may not be able to accommodate Jonathan-- particularly since he has some developmental delays and might require assistance in the classroom.

This was hard to hear because we love the school so much and we see the obvious benefit of Allison and Jonathan attending the same school. Allison has looked forward to Jonathan coming; she has said, "I can be a kinder-helper when I'm in grade 4, so I can help Jonathan!" I hate to think of that dream not coming true. But the reality is that (while the school will not be making a final decision until June) we need to start looking at other options and exploring other schools in our area, specifically in the public school board.

This was on my mind all weekend. On Sunday when we arrived at church, we found that there was going to be a guest preacher, a missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1967. Because our pastor is such a thoughtful and insightful speaker, I felt a moment of disappointment upon hearing that someone else would be preaching. But what the missionary had to say spoke directly to me. He preached from Isaiah 43, which includes these words in verse 19:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
And streams in the wasteland.

This verse encouraged me to remember that God has Jonathan in His hands, that He is already making a way for Jonathan to attend school and learn and develop, and that if His plans for Jonathan do involve pursuing a "new thing," then we can trust it will all work out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh, the weather outside is frightful ...

Allison and I sang "Let it Snow" as we slogged through 5 cm of wet, slushy, greasy snow on the way to her school this morning. Who would have expected a snowstorm on April 16?? Allison was extremely reluctant to put her snowpants back on today (they are getting too small for her, and she thought she was through with them!) but she put them on and trudged gamely to school.

Hope that wherever you are, your weather is better than ours!

Friday, April 13, 2007


Yesterday I read a short piece in the newspaper about a movement afoot in North American churches to reach out to that huge "unreached people group": men.

Apparently men don't enjoy church. Someone has written a book along those very lines: Why Men Hate Going to Church. Another title mentioned was The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity. Apparently men don't like the "hand-holding" and "touchy-feely" stuff about church; they want short services (in/out, kind of like Christmas shopping I suppose), "shot clocks"to limit the sermon length, sports metaphors, AC/DC instead of Celine Dion, etc.

Before I get all weepy, let me ask you: name me one woman who has had a significant role in the formation of the Christian church, theology, creeds, etc., whether in the Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox streams. Go ahead, name ONE. Who are running the Bible colleges and seminaries: women or men? Who are (primarily) the seminary professors: women or men? Who are the heads of major Christian organizations and foundations: women or men?

Enough rhetorical questions. My point is: the Christian church, in all of its forms, has been pretty much totally ruled by men for its entire history. I cannot name ONE woman who would be mentioned in the same breath as Augustine, Calvin, Luther, the Wesleys, the Catholic Popes, etc. Men have run, ruled, and organized the church since its inception, so to find out now in 2007 that they don't have any fun attending the institution they have dominated ... well, pardon me if I cannot muster up a great deal of sympathy.

Richard, ever a wise and humble man (and one for whom attending church is the highlight of the week), listened patiently while I vented these opinions last night, and responded with these words,

"Don't cry for me, Argentina."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Good things come in threes

Today was a BIG DAY for Jonathan:

(1) Blue box day! Due to the holiday Monday, today was our garbage/recycling day instead of yesterday. Upon waking this morning, he rushed to the window, saw the blue boxes and garbage cans out on the street, and cried, "Ba-ba day!" with great joy. The highlight of his week, once again.

(2) Church. On Thursdays I attend a women's group at Bethel; there is child care there so Jonathan gets to come along and see Phyllis, his caregiver, whom he loves. Crafts, snack, and a trip to the gym make the morning complete.

(3) School. Thursdays he heads off to nursery school from 12:45-3:15 p.m. He can't wait to see his teachers, Laurie and Janet--or, as he calls them, "Lauriejanet". When I drop him off, he pushes me out the door before his coat is even off, saying "Grocery store!" (In other words, "Mom, isn't there somewhere that you have to be right now?")

So today, due to an unprecedented planetary alignment or whatever, all 3 things happened in one day. It was a tired but happy guy who crashed into bed at 6:50 this evening.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

A very happy Easter/Resurrection Day to all of you!

We had a joyful church service at Bethel today, with a nice mix of musical styles. The children (led by me) began the service with a Lion King-type song called "The Kingdom of God", followed by the hymn "Up From the Grave He Arose". Later we sang "Because He Lives" in a country style, and "O Happy Day" with its African-spiritual flavour. I think we were missing rap, opera, and heavy metal; maybe those are being saved for another Sunday. ;-)

"Laugh with me!
Death is dead!
Fear is no more!
There is only life!
There is only laughter!"
- Eugene O'Neill

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The joy of soup, and problem solving

When we used to visit our friends Lori & Bruce, we would laugh at how their cats came running as soon as they heard the can opener.

Well, who needs cats when you've got Jonathan? Last night I started opening a can of pea soup and Jonathan came running into the kitchen, his face alight with excitement. "SOUP!" he yelled ecstatically. "Yes," I said, "And what else?" He replied, " 'Atches!" (in other words, sandwiches) Who knew such a simple meal could produce such joy? Then this morning when he woke up, I went into his room and the first thing he said was, "Soup! 'Atches!" Hmm, still feasting on the good memories, apparently.

Allison shows her maturing self in so many ways--not the least of which is that she is outgrowing her rubber boots, her running shoes, and her spring coat! But I appreciate the wisdom she shows in dealing with small issues. Each week she must complete her "reading bag" homework for Wednesday: read the assigned story and answer questions about it. This week, the Sunday School kids were having a music practice for Easter on Tuesday night, so I suggested to Allison that she get her reading bag homework out of the way on Monday, so that she would be less pressed for time on Tuesday.

Allison arrived home from school on Tuesday with math homework as well, but she informed us that she had asked her teacher, "I have a practice at my church tonight, so could I do your homework for Thursday instead of for tomorrow?" As it turned out, she had ample time after her practice to do her math problems--but she had taken care of her own potential problem ahead of time. It is neat to see how she thinks things through. On the surface she may seem a bit scatterbrained, but her mind is well-organized and detailed.

And she likes soup and sandwiches too!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


In my last post about books I'd read, I referred to Walking After Midnight by Katy Hutchison, a B.C. woman whose husband was murdered in 1997 when he intervened in a neighbourhood party. About a month ago, the CBC also aired a documentary about this case entitled "Embracing Bob's Killer", which focused on the speaking work that Katy Hutchison does at schools and detention centres (often with Ryan, the killer, accompanying her). The documentary took a somewhat cynical view of her work, conveying it as a "business" and implying that she is forcing Ryan to do penance for his crime. Her book, by contrast, provides a fuller exploration of the journey she has taken in the past 9 years and the decidedly non-monetary reasons that she chose to pursue a speaking career.

Last weekend our book study group had its monthly meeting, and I led a discussion based first on the documentary. We watched a tape of it, discussed our impressions, and then looked at some passages from Katy's book. These excerpts, which focused on issues of forgiveness, facing pain, and "cleaning up the mess" of difficult situations and relationships, were very useful in giving the discussion a more positive tone and showing the importance of the work Katy does.

On Monday I decided to write Katy Hutchison an email (having obtained the address from her website) to tell her about our meeting and how helpful her book excerpts had been in shaping our discussion. The very same day, she wrote me back, explaining her own (negative) reaction to the documentary and her plans for the future, and thanking me for letting her know how we'd used the material in our group. It was really neat to see how "human" and real she was in her message and to know that she had obviously been uplifted by receiving my message about our book study.

As we observed in our group, there are many, many people to whom terrible things happen, but very few get the opportunity to share their story--and to do important social work with it--the way Katy Hutchison has. When we get a chance to connect with them, we can only be inspired by how they've taken what life gave them, and used it to make something beautiful.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Book reviews

In this post I thought I'd list some of the good books I've read in the last several months.

- Walking After Midnight by Katy Hutchison (nonfiction). The author's husband was murdered in 1997 when he intervened in a neighbourhood party. The book discusses how Hutchison dealt with this trauma, how she forged a relationship with the young man who killed her husband, and how she developed a career of speaking to young people about violence, forgiveness, and restorative justice.

- Wounded Prophet by Michael Ford (nonfiction). This is a biography of Henri Nouwen.

- Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer (nonfiction). This book discusses how we must listen to our internal voice, not external influences, in order to determine our life calling.

- The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong (nonfiction). The author talks about her emergence from seven years in a convent and how she struggled for many years to find her life direction. She is now a noted author and speaker on issues of reconciliation between Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

- Before I Wake by Robert Wiersema (fiction). This novel is about a toddler who is hit by a truck and enters a sleep-like state; those who come in physical contact with her find themselves healed of physical ailments. There is also a good-vs-evil drama behind the scenes that adds depth to the story.

- Reading Between the Lines: The Diaries of Women by Betty Jane Wylie. I picked this little book up at Value Village! It's an interesting overview of the diaries of both famous and not-so-famous women.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Today I have the privilege of sending birthday wishes to Lori Vos, my friend and fellow Hobbit. Lori and I have been friends since my first day in the Queen's University English department, 21 years ago. True friendship is a special gift and, as I have learned, should not be taken for granted. Happy Birthday, Lori!

On the subject of friendship and playmates ... yesterday was a beautiful 15-degree spring day. Allison brought sidewalk chalk to school, having been encouraged by Sue (her counsellor) to take a play object outside with her to help her approach schoolmates and engage them in play. After school I asked her if anyone did chalk with her. She replied, "Yes, lots of people! The schoolyard is covered with sidewalk-chalk pictures. And some girls got me to lie down and they drew around me!" This may seem like a typical, ho-hum picture of childhood--but for Allison it is a big achievement. Way to go, Allison--you are quiet, but you can make the schoolyard a beautiful place.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Can you point your fingers and do the twist?

If that phrase doesn't mean anything to you, then you obviously don't know the Wiggles: four enthusiastic Australian guys who dress in blue, red, yellow and purple and who sing, dance, play instruments, and basically have fun. Allison and Jonathan discovered the Wiggles last year when they received one of the group's CDs for a gift, and they've become avid fans. Jonathan asks for a "Meegles DDD" at least once a day and is in fact, at this very moment, watching the "Wiggly, Wiggly Christmas" video. The Wiggles' songs include such classics as the abovementioned "Can You Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?", "Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy", and "Dance the Ooby-Doo with Dorothy the Dinosaur". I'm not making this up--actually, I wish I had, because then I'd be a millionaire! (Beeeeauty, mate!)

On one of the Wiggles DVDs we watched recently was a song I haven't heard since I was little. Do you remember this one? (I haven't got the words exactly right but this is the idea)

Hear the whistle blowin', makes a sleepy noise
Underneath the blankets go all the girls and boys.

Rockin', rollin', ridin', out along the bay
All bound for Morning Town many miles away.

Maybe it is raining where this train will ride
All the little children are warm and snug inside.

Somewhere there is morning, somewhere there is day
Somewhere there is Morning Town, many miles away.

I wonder if, in 35 years, Jonathan will be saying, "Gosh, I just heard the 'Fruit Salad' song--does that ever take me back!"

Friday, March 23, 2007

full of beans

A going concern.
A high-maintenance guy.
A handful.
That's our Jonathan!

Today we took him to mass at Allison's school. He ran around in circles in the empty gym until the students started arriving. As the priest began the service, Jonathan could be heard saying loudly, "Abba-dabba-bla-bla chocolate cookie" and other equally meaningful remarks. Dad and Jonathan left early. Not a moment too soon, actually.

Jonathan is 4-1/2 years old--a boy with a busy body and a busy mind. His language skills are quite limited (mostly one word at a time), and what he does say is very concrete and immediate. A typical conversation:
Jonathan: "Bret-tut [breakfast]."
Mom: "Would you like some toast?"
J: "Mommy?"
M: "Yes, mommy will have some toast too. What do you want on your toast?"
J: "Jam and beeta-bee [peanut butter]?"
M: "Yes, I'll have my toast with jam and peanut butter, but I'll get yours first. What do you want on yours?"
J: "Jam and beeta-bee?"
M: "I'll have mine too, but I'll get yours first. Do you want butter or peanut butter?"
J: "But-ta!"
Toast inserted in toaster.
J: "Pop?"
M: "It'll pop in a minute."
J: "Pop?"
M: "It'll pop in a minute--you have to be patient."
J: "Pop!!" grr, fuss, cry, complain ...
And so on.

As we prepare for the prospect of Jonathan attending kindergarten in September, I have moments of panic, often in the middle of the night. I wonder how he can go to school when his communication and other skills are so delayed... whether the school can provide an Educational Assistant to help him in the classroom... whether he will be able to learn like the other kids and progress at grade level, or whether he will always be working at a different pace...

For several years now I've had Psalm 139 posted on the wall over the kitchen sink; the paper is water-splattered and smudged. These verses from the Psalm help me feel calmer whenever I'm worried about the kids (which is often):

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (vv.13-16)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Finish the sentence" with Allison

Here is an interview with Allison, age 8.

My favourite colour is...

My favourite food is...
noodles with pesto.

My favourite activity is...

My favourite book or book series is...
the Junie B. Jones series.

My favourite subject at school is...
reading again.

My favourite thing to do with Jonathan is...
read a book.

My favourite place to go on a trip is...
Prince Edward Island.

My favourite game is...
"The Wild World Board Game" which we got out of the Toronto Star.

My favourite thing to do on the computer is...
go on the Kids CBC website.

My favourite thing to watch on TV is...
a Wiggles DVD.

My favourite park in our city is...
Compton Park.

My favourite animal is...
a duck.

Thank you for this information Allison! Best of luck in your future endeavours.

This is Mom, signing off ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March madness??!!

It's March: time for those two little words women love to hear. Just say them, and note how gracefully and mellifluously they roll off the tongue!

NO, not "final clearance"!

Or "free chocolate," either--though that's a good one ...

I mean those other two words:

"Figure skating."

World Championships! Tonight at 8! Woo-hoo! Bye honey, go on out and buy lots of power tools, I'm hunkering down in front of the tube!

See you in April .....

Monday, March 19, 2007

Do you hear what I hear?

Last week I went for a hearing test. My doctor had told me some time ago that my right eardrum was very scarred (probably from childhood ear infections), and I'd always had trouble hearing out of it. This winter, after a particularly bad cold, my hearing in that ear suddenly deteriorated.

The test showed that my right ear is not, in fact, working well at all: the eardrum did not move as it should in response to the sounds produced by the machine. However, the technician said that the hearing in my left ear is exceptionally good: "like a five-year-old," she said.

As I left the appointment I was not so much discouraged by my poor right ear as elated that my "five-year-old" left ear is working so well. I imagined how much I would miss in life if I couldn't hear: particularly music.

In her memoir Heart Matters, Adrienne Clarkson says that she adopted as her personal motto these words from an Anglican collect: "May only the truth be spoken; may only the truth be heard." For that last part, one needs good ears! Even only one good one might do.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ed!

Richard's brother Ed Prinsen celebrates his birthday today. At this moment he is in Cuba, preparing for his marriage to Mari one week from today.

Ed, you have always been a free spirit, and you continue to surprise us! God bless you as you prepare for next Saturday.

And happy St. Patrick's Day, too!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The devil made me do it

If envy is one of the seven deadly sins, then I confess! I decided I wanted to have a blog too, just like all of those (other) cool people. I do not have a digital camera (yet) and therefore cannot post photos on this blog (yet) -- but first things first: at least I can enter some text. After all, I be literate, eh?

Welcome to the home of Jeannie, Richard, Allison (8) and Jonathan (4).