Friday, November 21, 2014

On the menu

I've narrowed down my appetizer list for the Party tomorrow:

1. Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Cucumber Bites
2. Bacon Wrapped Venison Bites
3.Taco Pinwheel Wraps
4. Genoa Salami Flowers
5. Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms

Cream Cheese is a heavy ingredient in those appetizers though.... 4 of the 5 have cream cheese an an ingredient.  Maybe I should throw a veggie tray in for good measure.

Those aren't the only things though, every couple is bringing an appetizer as well, so it should round out hopefully.

Wooot! (Shameless Brag post)

Report cards make me anxious.  They made me anxious as a kid and anxious as a mum.  They have always been a source of stress because Zach never did that well.  The behavior section was always negative.  Logan always did well, but he worried about how he was going to do... gees, wonder where he got that from?

Last year Zach got a poor mark first term in Social studies.  So we worked hard with him and studied for tests and he got 95-100% from then on (No Joke).    But on the subsequent report card, his mark only marginally improved.  WTF?  The kid is getting 100% on every test and he still doesn't get a 4 (the 2014 equivalent of an A).

4 is "Excellent grasp of topics/skills"
3 is very good...
2 is satisfactory.....
1 is developing...

In the behavior section, grading is:
C - Consistently show the desired behavior
U - Usually...
R - Rarely...

Logan always does well on report cards and his behavior is never an issue.  The only thing Logan ever needs to work on is not talking to his friends so much.

Usually I am on the ball, I know the date report cards are coming home and I'm nervous all day.  But this year I forgot... so when I got home and the boys had their report cards I was pretty surprised.

So I sat down, took a deep breath and dove in.  Logan did great!  To sum it up, Logan is doing very well, is fitting into the new school, but just needs to stop talking with his friends so much (Sounds about right.) but he got all "C's" on the behavior section. so that's good news!     His teacher had glowing things to say about him.  I was really proud.

I was riding high off Logan's report card, so I opened Zach's.

He got straight 4s, in every major subject category!

Even Zach was pretty shocked.  The only non 4 he got in the whole thing was for his penmanship.  He got a 2.  Which frankly is pretty generous, because his printing is borderline illegible.  His handwriting (cursive) is good though.  Which is so odd to me, isn't handwriting harder?

In the behavior section, he got 2 "Usually" and 1 "Consistently". Which is a big step up from the onslaught of "Rarely" he got last year.

I think a big part of this was the fact that Zach got a new start.  When he was at his old school, he'd been with the kids since he was little and his ADHD was undiagnosed and out of control.  So kids labelled him (like kids do) and he didn't have many friends, which led to frustrations.  I think it ultimately affected his school work.  At this school, he's making friends, he has a wonderful conscientious teacher who is willing to teach the way the kids learn - a novel concept.

Hands down the best report cards the boys have ever gotten. I was practically GIDDY.

Also, last night the conference manager opened up.  Louis Riel school division (and I'm sure others) use this online booking tool for parent-teacher conferences.  It's pretty handy.  You see the available time slots for the teachers you want to see and slot yourself in.

HS Paul  was less than accommodating for working parents because they had conferences in the afternoon and the latest appointment time was 6.   Understandable, all working parents clawed and scratched to get those appointments and so they went quickly.

I had never made appointments at Highbury before.  So when they said the conference manager would open up at 5 pm, I was on it like white on rice, at the website at 4:55.

What I discovered was Highbury does things differently.  They take appointments until 8:30pm.


That was a really nice surprise.  People had told me that Highbury was a good school, but until you actually see it for yourself you just don't know.  It's only been a few months, but I am pretty impressed so far.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I have 12 people coming over on Saturday night.

It's a "get to know you" event for the parents of Logan's hockey team.  You spend a lot of time with with folks over the course of the year and it's nice if we can get to know each other early in the season.

It's also a house warming of sorts because we haven't had one of those yet either.

So the invite asked everyone to bring an appetizer, but I still feel as the host that I should have more than a few options on hand.

Whenever I need gourmet advice, I always check in with Heather, she has amazing suggestions.  So i now have a bunch of good appetizer ideas, none of which are my own, but hopefully they all turn out.

Boys are having a sleepover at my parents place that night, so it will be a decidedly kid-free zone. Some of the people coming are my good friends like Beth and Dave, so it should be a good party!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Robin Hood and a string of sausages

Brad came home Friday afternoon.

Kind of felt bad for him.  He'd been home just a short while when the boys came home from school and wanted to go play with their friends.

So he opened the garage door so Zach could get his bike out.  When he went to close the garage, it wouldn't close.

When I came home sometime later, the garage door was about 3/4 closed and on a rather odd angle.  I walked in the door and said, "Should I even ask?" to which there was a resounding reply of

Thankfully we have friends who were able to help us out and we were able to get the garage closed, so that's good.  Plus, the overhead door company assured us they would come Monday morning to fix it.  Can't much better than that.

So with that crisis all squared away, Debbie and I went to the theatre to see the Heart of Robin Hood.  It was incredible, truly.   It was so kinetic and dynamic.  Actors would slide down this huge mossy hill, jump into holes in the stage or pop out of ponds.  It was funny and touching and unique.  Love love loved it.  If you have a chance, check it out.  OH! I forgot to mention, there is this amazing folk band that plays along with the show and is even part of the show a little bit, they are incredible. I bought their CD after the play. They are called Parsonfield and are completely worth checking out.

What I did not love however was the wine at intermission.  I ordered a white for me and red for Debbie.  The staff provided a slightly oversize shot glass.  For a brief naive moment, I thought this was a sample so that I could taste it first.  Sadly no, that was the actual size.  $8.75 for a dixie cup of wine.

Since Brad got a deer last week, it was game on for sausages.  He has been making them for years and learned a few things.  Freshly made sausages are better.  If you freeze the meat first, then the sausages have to be cooked right away before they can be refrozen and they tend to dry out.  So he got to work grinding up the venison.  Brad gets the standard roasts, steaks, ribs and wraps those up.  The left over cuts are ground and combined with ground pork.  This year he made:
1. 40lbs Breakfast sausages
2. 20lbs of Summer Sausage Blend
3. 20lbs of something else... the kind escapes me at the moment.

It takes HOURS of standing at the counter feeding meat through a machine into sausages casings.   Tons of work, but he's done.  3 days worth of stuffing and 80 lbs of sausages.

Sunday was just hockey hockey hockey. With an added twist.  I was getting ready for the game, went to have a shower.  I admittedly had the heat cranked way way up (which I should know better) and yup.... you guessed it got all dizzy and fainted again.

So I got out of the shower and layed down for awhile.  It's so annoying that I react to high heat like that, but it's been over a year and a half since this has happened, so for that I am thankful.  I just have to remember to keep the heat DOWN.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moments of Brilliance

I write about my life as a parent, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I don't have to do that.  I could only blog about the good things, paint a picture of blissful family life and who knows maybe focusing on the positive things would be a good spin.

But for me, I think the key is finding a balance between posting all of the sunshine and roses moments and being honest about the squirrely moments.

But after the challenges of the past few days, I feel like we needed a win and we got one, in the form of Zach's team getting defeated 4-1 in his hockey game on Sunday.

Hockey games can be especially hard for Zach.  There is a lot of expectations in terms of behavior and lot of expectations in terms of responsibility.  Case in point, this year the kids are required to get all their equipment on, including their skates, by themselves with no help from parents.

Trying their own skates can be a challenge and it was frustrating for Zach. So I always kind of cringe whenever he has a game in the hopes that it all goes well.

We arrived at the rink, and Zach went into the locker room with his team.  I checked on him a little later to make sure he was doing ok and guess what?  He tied his skates... all by himself!!!

Then it was game time.  Zach was playing well, hustling around the ice (he's defence).  He even managed to get a few breakaways.

But then it happened.  The other team scored.   This is about the time when the wheels usually fall off.  Zach falls apart, crying and saying things like "Well that's it, we're going to lose" even if it's only in the first minute of the game.  We have tried every which way from Sunday to get through to him.  From talking about how it makes his teammates feel, to  the whole "it's just a game" line of  reasoning. But nothing seemed to work.

So it was with bated breath that I looked for Zach's reaction after the goal. To my surprise.... nothing. No angry stick pounding the ice, no tears.... Nada.   Then... it happened again and again...each time the other team scored and each time Zach just didn't react to it.

The other parents were getting down about how we were playing and how the refs were missing calls, but there was me... just sitting there...

I had the BIGGEST smile on my face.  I was so proud of him.  Honestly, I don't think I have EVER been so proud of him.  After the game, he was over the moon. Just beaming...

When I asked him how he was able to handle this game differently, he just said "I finally just realized there was nothing to get worked up about".

I'm not so naive as to think that there won't be games in the future that will rile him up, but I genuinly feel that something clicked in Zach.

It was a really great moment.  This was a win... a big one.

Friday, November 7, 2014

We are all at little stronger at the broken places

ADHD is just something else.

It's so hard.  Raising kids in general is challenging, but raising a child with ADHD puts things on a whole other level.

Zach has been doing well in school and for that I am extremely grateful.  His lowest mark so far this terms is a 93%.

But the emotional side of things have been really hard lately.  It might not be the best way of imagining it, but it's like fuse to a bomb.  Everyone ( like it or not ) has an emotional bomb inside them.  The bomb explodes when you have just had it with the current situation and you completely lose your schmidt.

But it's the fuse.... the fuse is key.  The longer the fuse, the more likely that the anger that lit the fuse will fizzle out before it gets to the actual bomb.  ADHD kids have a fuse that's about a millimeter long.

That is hard to deal with.  But it's how down Zach gets on himself that is so heartbreaking.  Let's say there was a situation that made him frustrated and he blew up.  In the moment he loses control, he says things he doesn't mean, gets physical with his brother etc.  But it's afterwords that he feels such remorse and shame.  In some ways I guess it's good that he has those feelings because then he knows what he did was wrong.  In other ways though, it's so sad, because he almost gets depressed about it.

He's very aware that he has ADHD but he has not yet accepted the fact that he has two choices.  He can either wallow in self pity that he has a condition that make things hard for him or  he can accept it and make attempts to improve his situation.  It's quite the grown up choice to make when you're only 11.   Yes, things are never going to be perfect (they aren't perfect for anyone  ADHD or not), but there will be small improvements and that leads to progress.

There are the daily skirmishes, but occasionally there will be a big bomb of a situation that shatters everything to pieces.  Last night was one of those.  The boys were playing Xbox and were getting loud.  So I called out to them to keep it down.  They both know that too many reminders to be quiet will result in the Xbox being shut off.  So when I called out to keep the noise down, Zach got upset with Logan because he felt Logan was the cause of the high volume.  His response was to haul off and smack his brother on the back and.... fuse to the bomb...BOOM.

This of course led to the Xbox not only being turned off, but removed entirely until such time as they earn it back.  The Xbox is Zach's prized possession, so he was devastated.

Once the dust settled, we had a big talk as a family.  We talked about Zach's needs, Logan's needs and what Brad and I need.  We talked about being there for each other.  Zach started to say how things would be so much easier in the family if he wasn't a part of it, so we talked about how our family is exactly the way it's supposed to be and if given the chance to pick anybody else, we would still pick Zach and Logan every single time.

Zach has such a good heart and empathy for others.  When someone else is going through a hard time, he is the first one there to support them, rub their back and try to make them feel better.  I honestly believe that it's because of his own challenges he genuinely empathizes when others are going though a rough time.

We do sometimes forget how hard this all is on Logan as well. So we made a point of sitting and talking with him to make sure that he felt supported and knew we were there for him.

As emotionally draining as evenings like this are, I find that we always come out the other side in a better place than when we went in.  It's like that Hemingway quote, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places".

Monday, November 3, 2014

Shepard's Pie Flambe

In my attempt at making a nice home cooked meal on Sunday, I instead started a fire.

Good times.

It started with my making a Shepard's Pie.  I was cooking the carrots, celery and onion....a mirepoix if you will (gotta bust out the big words occasionally). While that was going along nicely, I thought I would start boiling the potatoes.

But, for the life of me I couldn't find a lid.  Not sure exactly where they all ran off to, but no lid.  So in my infinite wisdom, I used a silicon cutting board to cover the pot of boiling water.  This was the TSN turning point of the meal.

In our old house, on my old stove, the element was the same size as the pot.  On this new stove, I can choose the element size by pushing a button.  So I had inadvertently chosen an element size bigger than my pot.

Since the silicon cutting board was larger than my pot, it hung over the edges and was exposed to the heat because I had chosen the wrong element size.

Looking at the pot on the stove from the front, all was well,  but it was a mullet of a situation.... business in the front, party in the back.  The back side was where the cutting board had melted down and was now touching the stove.

Since I was working at the front of the stove, I didn't notice right away.  Logan came in to the kitchen and just said "Uh.... Mum? You do realize the stove is on fire right?"

Just as I notice, it completely burst into flames.  But since the silicon was now melted, when I went to remove it from the stove, it was like pulling  melted cheese.

There were endless molten hot strings of silicon leading from the stove everywhere, the fire alarm was going off, the phone was ringing ( because we have a monitored alarm) and Logan is now freaking out.

Perfection.  so much for a lazy Sunday meal.

I got the remainder of the cutting board (that hadn't yet melted) away from the stove, got the pot of boiling potatoes off the stove and managed to put out the fire.  Luckily the melted silicon strings hardened pretty fast and once they did that it was easy to peel them off.

The stove took a fair bit of scrubbing, but it miraculously came out no worse for the wear.  Just as miraculously, dinner wasn't ruined, so I was still able to clean up the mess and salvage supper.  In fact, the pot of meat and veggies came out of the fire completely unscathed and continued to simmer away completely oblivious to the drama beside it, so that was good.

On a positive note, at least we know that the alarm monitoring works. So there's that.

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