Tuesday, April 30, 2013

questions and maybes

Yesterday was a Dr. MacDonald day:  we took Jonathan for his regular six-month checkup with the pediatric neurologist who monitors him for seizures and anti-seizure medication.  Actually, this wasn't quite a regular checkup; we'd moved up his appointment date because in the last two months he's had two or three "absence" seizures.

In the last instance, which occurred three weeks ago, we had just come back from Jonathan's dental appointment, which had gone very well, and he was sitting on the floor doing a jigsaw puzzle.  He was kind of grumpy about being denied his usual cheese-and-crackers snack because of the dental freezing.  Then Richard spoke to him about something and he made no response but just stared into the distance.  His pupils were dilated, and his body was stiff  so that we couldn't lie him down.  This lasted about a minute or two; then he slowly began to come around:   I asked, "Jonathan, are you tired?" and he said, "Tired," in a dreamy voice.  Then he asked about the cheese and crackers again, so we knew the seizure had passed.  He was sleepy, though, and when we suggested he go to bed he agreed, even though it was only 5 p.m.  He woke up about three hours later and was completely back to normal and hungry for the supper he'd missed.

The appointment today was good; yet, as we've learned in the several years we've been seeing Dr. MacDonald, there are always more questions and maybes than definitive answers.  Did the absence seizures happen because one of his medications was eliminated back in November?  Maybe, maybe not.  Is he outgrowing his current dosage of the one medication he still takes?  Probably not; his weight hasn't changed much since last summer.

Interestingly, the blood work Jonathan had done in November shows that he has a deficiency of carnitine,  which is a compound made of two essential amino acids (hmm ... that sounds like an advertisement for cereal).  Valproic acid, the antiseizure medication Jonathan currently takes, can reduce carnitine production and have some toxic effects on the liver, so the doctor would like to try carnitine supplements.  Will this help with the seizures?  She's not sure; it might.  So that's what we're going to try.  We will see her again in four months -- unless he has another seizure episode, in which case she wants us to call her and she'll look into setting up an EEG.  He hasn't had one of those since 2004, and in that instance a sedative was used to put him to sleep; she would like to get one without sedation, but the idea of him lying still long enough to allow the electrodes to be patched on and a good reading taken hasn't seemed very realistic up to this point.

So we continue to take things one day at a time -- not that we have any choice!  But after all this time we've realized certainty is unlikely.  Taking the next step that's presented to us is all we can do.

Monday, April 29, 2013

two Monday morsels: A good life; vulnerability and dependence

Two of my favourite bloggers are Amy Julia Becker (who blogs at Thin Places: Faith, Family, and Disability) and Ellen Painter Dollar (who blogs at Parenthood, Disability, Ethics, and the Crooked Way of Grace).  Both of them write in a challenging and honest way about disability and faith issues.  

Each of them has written a book as well, and I've recently bought and read both.   Amy Julia's book A Good and Perfect Gift tells about how she and her husband learned two hours after their first child's birth that the baby, Penny, had Down Syndrome.  She chronicles her journey to accept and understand this reality while falling completely in love with her precious daughter.  Ellen's book No Easy Choice was written in light of the fact that she has a genetic bone disorder (osteogenesis imperfecta), which the oldest of her three children also has.  She writes about many spiritual, social, and ethical aspects of reproductive technology while explaining how she and her husband investigated various options that might allow them to have more children who did not have OI.

  Both books discuss, among many other things, how we understand disability from a Christian perspective, something which has a lot of significance for me since both of our children have special needs.  But this post isn't intended to be a book review (which is why my descriptions of the books above undoubtedly seem inadequate).  Rather, this being my "Monday morsel" post day, I've decided just to give an excerpt from each book that I found particularly meaningful. I would highly recommend both books!


Until quite recently, human reproduction and our children's genetic makeup were mysteries beyond our control.  In late twentieth-century America, widely available contraception and legalized abortion gave people some limited choices over when they would and would not have children, but they still had no control over what sort of child they would have when the time came.

New technologies are changing that, and so a new ideal is creeping into our notion of what makes a good life.  We can choose whether to transfer one or two or five embryos; whether to selectively reduce some of those embryos if too many implant; whether to weed out genes that cause OI, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and breast cancer; or whether to increase the odds of having a girl over a boy.  With all these possibilities, we begin to feel that we must make the right choices to ensure the best life for our children.

But [Hans] Reinders points out the futility of equating a good life with one over which we exercise choice.  If you ask parents of children with severe disabilities whether they would choose to conceive that child if they knew about the disability ahead of time, both a "yes" and a "no" answer pose problems.  If they say "yes," then they are somehow surrendering to the suffering their child endures, saying it doesn't matter, when they surely know it does matter.  But if they say "no," then theya re saying their child's life is not good, when they surely know it is good.  The answer to this conundrum, Reinders says, is to sever the connection between choice and life's goodness, to recognize that "if my life were different from what it happens to be, then it would also be good." 

- Ellen Painter Dollar, No Easy Choice


The most natural words to describe [Penny] were ones like cute, sweet, fun, outgoing.  But then the clinical words flitted through my mind:  chromosomal abnormality, mental retardation, disabled.  And the politically correct ones:  special needs, intellectually challenged.  I still didn't know how to describe her in a way that didn't ignore or minimize her extra chromosome but that also didn't define her in entirely negative terms.  The words mental retardation were helpful in describing the fact that Penny would learn differently, and more slowly, than typical children.  But the fact that retard and retarded had become slurs in our culture eliminated their helpfulness.  Then there were the words disability and abnormality.  I thought of those signs on the highway about disabled vehicles.  Penny might not be able to do the same things on the same timeline as others, but she was not a "dis-abled" human being, she was not a broken-down, can't-function-until-a-mechanic-comes-along, little girl.

One word I did like was vulnerable.  Penny was vulnerable -- physically, mentally, even socially and emotionally.  Another was dependent.  Penny was, and would be, dependent upon others for some level of care throughout her life.  Perhaps the reason I liked those words was because they described what I wanted to admit about myself.  That I, too, was vulnerable, much as I liked to see myself as invincible.  That I, too, was dependent upon others, much as I liked to think of myself as self-sufficient. 

- Amy Julia Becker, A Good and Perfect Gift

This post has been linked to Modern Mrs. Darcy's May "Twitterature" post.

Friday, April 26, 2013

lighting the fire of learning

Today in my inbox I received the regular weekly e-newsletter from Queen's University.  Although I'm employed there, I confess I rarely read much of the newsletter; maybe it's because as an online, off-site instructor I don't always feel closely connected to the campus.

 But I'm very glad I took the time to read this article.  It highlights the university's Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Initiative:  the Faculty of Education partners with H'art, a local art school for students with intellectual disabilities, providing opportunities for the students to attend university classes and receive their Certificate of Learning.  One of the coordinators says, "Our job is about lighting the fire of learning and empowering these students .... This is a meaningful model of inclusion."

Two students are getting their Certificates today.  That makes me proud:  of the students, and of the university's creativity and inclusivity.

UPDATE:  The Kingston Whig-Standard has published an article today (April 30) about the two graduates; you can read it here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday morsel: "dying to live"

This past week I've been reading Rob Bell's Love Wins.  This book, which challenges some conventional Christian assumptions, raised some controversy when it came out a couple of years ago, but I'm enjoying it:  it's bracing, like being hit with a splash of ice-cold water.  ("Thanks, I needed that!")  And I like Bell's style, which is both provocative and poetic.  Here's a passage I especially liked:

"When we say yes to God, when we open ourselves to Jesus's living, giving act on the cross, we enter in to a way of life.  He is the source, the strength, the example, and the assurance that this pattern of death and rebirth is the way into the only kind of life that actually sustains and inspires.

Jesus talks about death and rebirth constantly, his and ours.  He calls us to let go, turn away, renounce, confess, repent, and leave behind the old ways.  He talks of the life that will come from his own death, and he promises that life will flow to us in thousands of small ways as we die to our egos, our pride, our need to be right, our self-sufficiency, our rebellion, and our stubborn insistence that we deserve to get our way.  When we cling with white knuckles to our sins and our hosility, we're like a tree that won't let its leaves go.  There can't be a spring if we're still stuck in the fall.

 Lose your life and find it, he says.
That's how the world works.
That's how the soul works.
That's how life works 
when you're dying to live."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Found in translation

One of the things Jonathan's E.A. ("Mr. O") works on most with Jonathan is his verbal skills.  Currently Jonathan speaks mostly in phrases of two or three words, generally very concrete expressions that get his point across but don't contain much grammatical structure.  Mr. O works with him on stretching out his sentences so that he can express complete thoughts like "Can I have some orange juice please" or "Can you get the black football please" -- and  Jonathan is making considerable progress in this area.  While of course we encourage this stretching-out of sentences, we can't help but be impressed, and sometimes amused, by the ingenuity of some of his makeshift attempts.

- "Open door away." Translation: Close the door.

- "Button away."  Translation:  Don't leave the remote-control on the coffee table; put it back in the remote holder.

- "No Diana.  Diana over."  Translation:  I don't want the supply E.A. named Diana to come, even though she is very nice and I like her; I want Mr. O.  (This one also reminded me of another moment when Jonathan was about six, and he apparently had a stomach-flu bug but we didn't realize what was wrong when he said "Itchy belly" and "Kiss belly."  He had supper, which was soup; then a couple of hours later he was getting ready for bed and suddenly everything came up.  He was sitting on the bathroom floor, his PJ's all covered with gross stuff, and said calmly, "Soup over.")

- "White ball."  Translation:  I want Dad to pick me up after school and bring the white ball so we can play yellow-blue-red for a little while.

- "No wash it."  Translation:  You can give me a bath, but I don't want you to wash my hair.

- "Mommy nap."  Translation:  I don't want Mom to go to a meeting tonight and leave me to be put to bed by Dad; I want Mom to stay home so she can do it.

- "Nap ... Mommy! Translation:  OK, fine, Mom can go out to her meeting, but I expect to see her as soon as I wake up.

- "Sometimes a shock."  Translation:  Sometimes when I pull my fleece neck-warmer or my sweater off over my head and then touch something, I get a zap of static electricity.

- "Saw chicken nuggets Grandpa house."  Translation:  Remember when we went on a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house in PEI, and we stopped at McDonald's and I had chicken nuggets and fries and chocolate milk?  Good times. 

As I thought about these expressions I was reminded of Romans 8:26 in the Bible:  "We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself speaks to God for us. He begs God for us, speaking to Him with feelings too deep for words."  (Appropriately, this is taken from the ERV:  Easy-to-Read Version.)  

Just like Jonathan, we all need someone to listen to us and understand us when we have something to say, even if we don't know quite how to say it.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It is well ... to be well

I always feel like I'm expected to do a superstitious "knock wood" whenever I make a comment like this, but I'll make it anyway:  it is so good to be free of sickness, at least for the time being.

Jonathan got a runny nose on March 22.  It turned into such a crusty mess that we couldn't send him out into the world to spread it to other people, so he missed church for two Sundays and a whole week of school in between.  Finally he was better after Easter weekend -- but then I started feeling sick with what turned out to be strep throat.  I had had strep four years ago, so that swallowing-razor-blades feeling quickly felt all too familiar.  After a visit to the after-hours clinic I got antibiotics for five days and was starting to feel better at last ... but after the meds ran out I began to feel worse again, so I went back to the doctor last Wednesday and was given another five-day course of penicillin.  I took my last dose Monday morning and can finally say I feel back to normal.

Pastor Mark is always talking about "takeaways" from his Sunday morning messages -- that is, insights or lessons learned.  So here are a few takeaways from these past few weeks:  nothing very profound or original, just things I thought about during some pretty long days and nights.


1. All I have to do is be there.  I don't want to oversimplify this one, because I realize I'm very fortunate to work from home and not have to make complicated arrangements if one of the kids is sick.  But really, if I can just be present that's all that's necessary.  Jonathan doesn't need entertainment or projects or any particular coddling when he's not feeling well; he just likes Mom to be there in the living room with him while he watches TV and does his jigsaw puzzles.  I can do that.

2. Sometimes things just don't work out.  On Easter weekend our church was hosting two performances of "The Big Picture" with Jason Hildebrand (a Toronto actor who's done many plays at our church in the past).  Richard was scheduled to work on Good Friday, so he went to the Thursday evening performance with Allison; I planned to go on Good Friday morning with Jonathan since child-care would be available.  But on Friday Jonathan simply wasn't well enough to go, so I missed the play.  How disappointing.  We can hope for the best and envision all kinds of Plan B's, but sometimes it just doesn't work out.

3. It all works out.  Wait a minute, didn't I just say ... ?  I mean this one more in the other "big picture" sense -- just that things fall into perspective when you're at home with a sick child.  There's more laundry, the dishes pile up, you have to cancel some things and rearrange others, but those things really don't matter.  Time slows down and what's most important comes into focus:  being there to comfort and provide Kleenex and companionship.


1. Illness increases your awareness of the basic pleasures of life.  Like eating ... drinking ... sleeping.  Even things you didn't realize were a pleasure till you can't do them, like swallowing.  The enjoyment of those basic things can seem all the greater after the illness is past -- even if it's a relatively minor, curable illness like I had.

2. I live in a good time and place.  I thought about how a person living 200 years ago, or a person living today in a place with little access to medical care, would suffer with strep throat:  it might run its course after a couple of weeks, but the pain would be severe and complications like rheumatic fever would be much more likely.  I can go to a doctor, get a prescription for penicillin, and be feeling better within a day or two.  So I'm grateful to live where and when I do.

3. Offers of help should be accepted.  On youth-group night the kids were heading out to Sydenham for supper, so I drove Allison to the carpool spot, where we met up with her friend and her friend's mom.  The mom knew I had strep, and asked, "Would you like me to pick both girls up later tonight and drive Allison home?"  she said.  I knew she had twice as far to drive as I did, and going back through town to take Allison home would make her trip even longer.  I couldn't let her do that!  But ... I did, gratefully.

4. Sometimes not having to decide is a gift.  I wasn't well enough to take Allison to her swimming lesson, so Rich said he'd take her.  "And while she's doing that," he said, "I'm going over to Loblaws to get one of those barbecued chickens."  After her class they came back with chicken, potato wedges, and salad.  I could barely eat any of it that evening -- but as cook of the family I found it such a blessing to have supper taken care of (complete with leftovers for the next day).

5.  Well is better than sick. This is just a totally selfish one:  yes, I know suffering builds character and everything, but I'm not talking in the cosmic sense, just in the human one.  It feels good to feel good.  Whether you're a kid or an adult, it's nice to be able to do your normal daily things with energy and enthusiasm.  Well is better!  Just sayin'.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday morsel: "traveling north"

An online conversation last week got me thinking about E.B. White's Stuart Little.  This excerpt is from the end of the book, in which Stuart heads out to search for his friend Margalo and talks with a telephone line repairman about his quest.

“There’s something about north,” [the repairman] said, “something that sets it apart from all other directions. A person who is heading north is not making any mistake, in my opinion.”

“That’s the way I look at it,” said Stuart. “I rather expect that from now on I shall be traveling north until the end of my days.”

“Worse things than that could happen to a person,” said the repairman.

“Yes, I know,” answered Stuart.

“Following a broken telephone line north, I have come upon some wonderful places,” continued the repairman. “Swamps where cedars grow and turtles wait on logs but not for anything in particular; fields bordered by crooked fences broken by years of standing still; orchards so old they have forgotten where the farmhouse is. In the north I have eaten my lunch in pastures rank with ferns and junipers, all under fair skies with a wind blowing. My business has taken me into spruce woods on winter nights where the snow lay deep and soft, a perfect place for a carnival of rabbits. I have sat at peace on the freight platforms of railroad junctions in the north, in the warm hours and with the warm smells. I know fresh lakes in the north, undisturbed except by fish and hawk and, of course, by the Telephone Company, which has to follow its nose. I know all these places well. They are a long way from here — don’t forget that. And a person who is looking for something doesn’t travel very fast.”

“That’s perfectly true,” said Stuart. “Well, I guess I’d better be going. Thank you for your friendly remarks.”

“Not at all,” said the repairman. “I hope you find that bird.”

Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north. The sun was just coming up over the hills on his right. As he peered ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

tears and laughter

Today would have been my Aunt Jean's 73rd birthday.  She and her mother, my Grandma MacEachern, were both born on April 10.  It would have been a lovely synchronicity if I had waited a few hours longer to be born so all three of us could have had our birthdays on the same day ... but I had to be my own person and stand out from the crowd, I suppose.   

Aunt Jean was a wonderful person:  so full of life, love, and laughter.  She died too soon of cancer in July 2011, just one year after the death of her husband, my Uncle John.  (I wrote a longer post about it here.)  Last year I wrote this poem in her honour, so I thought I would share it here today in tribute to her.


aunt Jean’s funeral
threads black along the straight
rural road
cresting one hill then

oncoming cars pull to the shoulder
a man and boy in a roadside hayfield
pause from work
remove their caps
sober country courtesies

we walk from our cars
to the grave
the beaming sun seems incongruous
incredulous maybe
 that this laughing life
could be

John what’s the name of that stuff we’re taking for our memory

did she really say that
did she really try to buy half a watch strap at a flea market

more to the point
can damp clods of earth shoveled
solemnly over this glossy box
subdue the lively
sparkling spirit
she was


no wonder the sun shines in stubborn dis
no wonder we
cry and laugh at once
no wonder we can’t name that stuff we take
for our memory
to call it

- Jeannie Prinsen 2012

Jean MacEachern Haslam, 1940-2011

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

It's party time!

It's my birthday today.  Thanks for coming to my party!  Help yourself to a piece of cake:  it's decadent yet calorie-free.

For this little blog party, I decided to send out invitations to the people whose blogs I enjoy reading.  But first I should say a special "Hi" and thanks to my non-blogging family and friends who visit here at Little House.  I couldn't invite you individually because though I know a few people are reading regularly (thanks, Mom, ha ha), I don't have an exhaustive list of all my readers.  Sometimes someone at church will say "I like your blog" and I hadn't even realized they read it.  So thank you!!  Whether you drop by daily or occasionally, I'm glad you're part of my little community.  And never be shy to comment on anything you read:  that's twice the fun, as far as I'm concerned.

Like Bilbo Baggins at his birthday party in The Fellowship of the Ring, I have a gift for each of my blogger friends, just to say thank you for the stories, insights, and ideas you share.  (Unlike Bilbo I don't plan to vanish, unless my internet connection goes down.)  Scroll down to find yours. 

For Maureen, who attends my church and blogs at Emotionally Rich:  thanks for caring about and praying for our kids.  I appreciate you very much.  You know the heart of Abba-Father, and you share His love with others.

For Sarah, who blogs at A Life Examined and elsewhere (and who attends my church, is in my writer's group, and is my good friend):  "If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed."  May your ministry of writing and speaking grow as God leads.

For Tim, who blogs at Just One Train Wreck After Another:  When you run out of interwebz, you can start handing out these Timbits from Canada's most popular coffee-and-doughnut shop, Tim Hortons.  I enjoy my daily visit to your blog.   You have a great gift for encouraging others in the faith and for connecting the Bible to real life in interesting, often humorous ways.  And thanks for stopping by to visit me so often, too.
For Adriana, who blogs at Classical Quest:  This door leads to Narnia -- but in fact I think you already live there.  You're a beautiful person, and I am happy to have come to know you and join you in your journey.  I enjoyed the photography-poetry post we did earlier this year, too; may it be just the first of many collaborations.  And may your quest bring you -- and God -- great joy.   

For Micha, who blogs at Mama: Monk:  Yours was pretty much the first Christian blog I started reading (I still remember the first post I read: "She was always being remade").  I kept on because it's so truthful, inspiring, and beautifully written.  You've said you like chocolate and poetry -- and you write wonderful poetry that I wish the whole world could read -- so here's something that combines the two in a way that's, well, not at all profound actually. 

For Heather, who blogs at Sober Boots:  I picked these out just for you because they are warm and comfortable and have big hearts -- which I think also describes you and your blog.  I read a comment of yours on another blog and there was "something" that just made me check yours out and keep dropping by.  You have an amazing ministry in the area of addiction and recovery.  That's probably because you exude the grace you've experienced, so people feel safe sharing their stories.

For Ellen, who blogs at Faith, Disability, Ethics and the Crooked Way of Grace:  I got you this T-shirt;  I hope it fits even though it's only got two dimensions.  I admire how you bravely and faithfully tackle the hardest of subjects  (from gun control to reproductive ethics) and the testiest of commenters!  You are "bold as well as strong," as our friends Mumford & Sons would put it.

For Matthew, who blogs at thealreadynotyet:  Next time you're asked to bring dessert, you can make this Venn diagram pie:  I guess you could call it "thecherryblueberry."  I enjoy your blog because it's honest and humble.  I especially like "Hump Day Hymns" on Wednesdays.

For Amy Julia, who blogs at Thin Places:  This picture reminded me of your blog because it focuses on where heaven and earth meet.  You do that in your blog, too, showing us that "the image of God" is bigger and more inclusive than we ever thought.   As a mom of 2 "special" kids, I'm continually informed, challenged, and touched by your writings about disability and faith.

For Anne, who blogs at Modern Mrs. Darcy:  This magazine made me think of your blog; in fact, they probably plagiarized several of your ideas.  I enjoy reading the wide range of topics you post on:  mentoring, books, fashion, food, personality types, parenting, and so much more.  Your blog keeps me young (ish).  And you're a great community-builder.

For Nick, who blogs at Scribblepreach:  I'm new to your blog; I enjoy it because faith and writing are two things I'm very interested in, too.  I hope you're posts continue to illicit allot of commence.


Thanks to all of you for blessing me with your words and insights.  Daily I'm impressed and humbled by how all of you write so well on such a range of subjects; I'm especially humbled by those of you who get, like, 45 comments per post!  (But "comparisons are odorous," as one of Shakespeare's characters so elegantly put it...) 

When I first started my own blog in 2007, I didn't really have any theme in mind for it, but just intended to write reflections and updates on family, books, and whatever else interested me.  (I suppose it still doesn't have much of a theme!)  At the time blogging felt very much like a solitary pursuit:  I knew there weren't many people reading my posts, but it was still enjoyable to put my thoughts out there.  It feels quite different now that I've spent more time reading and commenting on other blogs and finding some kindred spirits.  I know some people think online community is an artificial refuge for introverted geeks with no life (I represent that remark!), but I haven't found that to be so.  The sheer number of people who are blogging today shows just how many of us have a desire to communicate with others about the things that matter to us; and when we do that, we find out -- surprise! -- those things matter to other people, too.


Thank you again for dropping in today.  Feel free to have some more cake -- if it runs out, maybe Tim can share a few of those Timbits.  Have a great day, and God bless every one of you.  

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power 
through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."
(Ephesians 3:16-17) 

 See you soon!


Monday, April 08, 2013

Monday morsel: "it is joy that saves us"

Our book study group read and discussed Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts in February.  Here is one of my favourite quotations:

"I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I've seen the hungry and the guns that go to war.  I have lived pain, and my life can tell:  I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.  Why would the world need more anger, more outrage?  How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us?  Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering.  The converse does. 

The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.  


When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows.  How can this not be the best thing for the world?  For us?  The clouds open when we mouth thanks."

Friday, April 05, 2013

Fun Friday Fail?

Last semester on my course website, I did a post every Friday called "Fun Friday Fail," in which I'd publish something from the media that contained a grammatical error and ask the students to identify and correct it.

I'm not planning to make that a tradition on my blog, but I just had to share two real live mixed metaphors I encountered this week.  I suppose these are more "Fun" than "Fail," actually:

- On Facebook, someone was lamenting that she wouldn't be able to get together with a friend:  "We're like two ships passing in a port."

- At the doctor's office, a young woman was remarking on her illness:  "I wouldn't wish this on my worst nightmare."

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

a Thankful day

Thankful Tuesday is a tradition over at Micha Boyett's Mama:Monk blog; in keeping with that, I'm very thankful for a number of things:

- That Jonathan is finally well enough to go back to school after his bout with The Crusty Nose of Death.  He was away from school for ten days:  longer than March Break!

- That I found my Canadian Tire MasterCard.  I was there last Tuesday night to buy some milk but didn't realize until Thursday that my card was missing.  When I went back to the store, there was the card, safe and sound at the customer service desk -- to my great relief.

- That Allison's parent-teacher interviews last week were so positive.  Not that I actually expected bad news, but it's just so great (as I've said before) that she has supportive and encouraging teachers.  I've already mentioned her music teacher here.  At the interview he praised her for working so hard and for doing well in her two theory tests, and said, "Allison, I wasn't concerned that you couldn't do the work; I was just concerned that you were comfortable in the class.  You've shown that you are comfortable in the class, and that you can do the work."  And her phys-ed teacher said, "Allison, the one thing you could work on is to be kinder to yourself.  You're kind to other people; be sure to be kind to yourself, too."

- For opportunities to show kindness to my students.  One student in my course was extremely panicky and stressed about a low mark one of the tutors had given her on an essay.  I emailed her and told her she could rewrite the paper if she wanted and could also have a few extra days on her final essay to ease the pressure.  She wrote back, "I feel better already!  Thank you for being so understanding!"  I find it heartwarming to see how such a small gesture can mean so much to a person -- but isn't that so often the case?

- For things that are just really funny about being married to someone for nearly 23 years.  On Sunday Rich and I exchanged Easter cards as usual.  The one he gave me had a duck splashing in a puddle and carrying 4 balloons on which was written, "Jesus loves me!  This I know.  For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong.  They are weak but He is strong."  The pre-printed message in the card was "On this Easter day, we want you to know that Jesus loves you and we do too."  Rich had crossed out each "we" and replaced it with "I" and then wrote the following message:

Childlike statements but profound truths.  Happy joyful Easter!
Love, Richard
P.S.  Not many cards available. :-)

Actually he is totally right about the profound truths.  But I still think it was hilarious.  (Do you have to be married for a certain number of years to find that funny?  I don't know .... )

Monday, April 01, 2013

Monday morsel: "the elixir of new life"

I've been reading The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery.  She, like her character Anne of Green Gables, was an ardent lover of nature.  I thought this quotation (words she wrote in her journal at age 25) was perfect for spring and for the day after Resurrection Day.

"There is a magic about the spring -- some power that revives half-dead hopes and faiths and thrills numbed souls with the elixir of new life.  There is no age to spring -- everybody seems young and joyful.  Care is in abeyance for a little while and hearts throb with the instinct for immortality.

These days are so beautiful -- mellow and breezy and sweet.  There are no leaves yet but every little brown bud is swelling and in sunny, sheltered spots there is a hint of greenness.  The days are long and the twilights full of a mellow graciousness -- and all the snow is gone, gone, gone!  There are such lovely blue skies and such faint purple mists over the bare hills; and last Friday night I got some tiny pink-and-white mayflowers -- the initial lettering of spring.  It is worth while to live through the winter just to have the spring."