An April Fool’s Like No Other

Last weekend started off like any other.  Mike was day shift so I took advantage and spent most of Saturday catching up on housework.  It was a nice day, the snow was all but gone and I took advantage of some nice temps opening as many windows as I could without letting the North wind blow in too much.

Sunday started off dreary and quickly deteriorated to a misty, plain ol’ yucky day.  The forecast said freezing rain was imminent but I was hoping it was wrong.  Once Mike got home we decided that Leslie and I would run into the grocery store to grab a few things ~ just in case.  I booked a vacation day for Monday, but somehow I felt we weren’t going to be going anywhere.

Monday morning at 5:00 am started our latest journey.  I woke to beeping and quickly realized the power was out.  We took a look out the window and saw why.  Ice.  Everywhere.  And lots of it.

ice march 31

During the day the weather went from bad to worse as the freezing rain changed to ice pellets and back to freezing rain more times than I care to remember.  It was evident that we weren’t getting our heat and lights back anytime soon.  Mike and Matt got the generator out and set up and we went into “Stranded at the Hideaway Mode”.  At least with the generator we had the necessities: fridge, freezers, pump (we’re on a well), microwave and various lights and electrical outlets.  Luckily, the router was plugged in to one of the outlets on the generator so we didn’t have to dismantle all that.  Marcus could occupy himself with his videos, and we still had access to the outside world.   Mike got the fireplace lit and we settled in.  We recently purchased a propane patio heater for our Abeebo which came in very handy.  We spent much of the day Monday (and Tuesday) sitting in our sun room cozied by the warmth of the heater.  As the temperature was hovering around zero, it made for a somewhat comfortable place to get a first hand view of the minute by minute changes Mother Nature was throwing our way.

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Between the weight of the ice, the wind and the constant precipitation falling it wasn’t long before we started to see other signs of damage.  Taking a walk down our laneway showed even more how this was quickly turning into a weather event like nothing we had seen for many, many years.

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Marcus, thankfully, was taking it all in stride.  He wanted to go out to play.  The amount of ice made me leery but he had it all figured out.

Marcus ice helmet

And the ice continued to build up.  Monday came and went and we woke Tuesday to much of the same.  Coincidentally, Tuesday was April 1st, but I don’t think this was a joke.  Our province was pretty much shut down.  Public transport was halted, schools, shopping malls, Dr.’s offices and government offices were closed.  Police were advising people to stay off the roads and the ice continued to fall.

Mike’s captain at work and his wife braved the roads and after cutting a few trees out of their path on the laneway they arrived at The Hideaway with gas for the generator and coffee.  Charlene had been saying all winter that she wanted to get out here during a snowstorm so she could sit in the Abeebo and enjoy the view.  She got her view, alright.  Steve ventured out around the property to snap a few pictures and after a great visit they headed back to town.

We spent the next little while sitting in front of the fire with books, music and board games.  A storm day wouldn’t be a true storm day without a nap.  Up the wooden hill I headed while Mike dozed on the couch.  I certainly didn’t mean to sleep for 2 1/2 hours but when I woke my world was totally turned upside down.  We went from an ice storm to a blizzard in the blink of my eyes.  Mike and Matt were out shoveling, the wind was blowing and there had to be 10 cms of snow on the ground and still snowing heavily.

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Oh boy, this isn’t good.  We could get 40 cms of snow on top of all that freezing rain and ice.  This keeps going from bad to worse. If this keeps up my storm day after my vacation day is going to turn into day 3 home.  There hadn’t been school for the past 2 days either and Mike called off both night shifts as I’m just not “countryfied” enough yet to tackle the generator and fire (that has to change very quickly).

Although the boys were doing pretty well, considering, they were both starting to get on each other’s nerves.  Matt would venture outside every now and again, but having us all cooped up under one roof was starting to prove challenging.

When we woke on Wednesday morning it appeared Mother Nature had calmed down somewhat.  No one was going anywhere any time soon but at least the sun was peaking through and we could get a better idea of exactly was transpired the last three days.

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The ice covered trees were now weighed down even more by close to 40 cms of snow.  The Island was at a standstill and somehow the clean up had to begin.  Where do you start to put 30+cms of freezing rain and 40 cms of snow?

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There was a lot of work ahead of us.  We had to get things cleaned up so we could get off the property.  Being without power now for over 48 hours meant gas was running low and showers were high on everyone’s list of priorities.  However, in true Team Hilliard style we decided (almost unanimously…lol) that we had to do something that we hadn’t done at The Hideaway yet this winter.  Meet Harold….

Harold

Our first family built Hideaway Firefighter Snowman.  If only the video cam was recording during the construction.  We laughed more and carved and smoothed and destroyed and smashed snowball heads trying to lift them up than I care to admit, but it was fun.  Sadly, by the time this picture was snapped the sun had been beating on Harold for a few hours and he already started losing his eyes and mouth but it was still fun.  Guess now there was some work to be done as I had to get out to work and it was quite likely school would resume after being closed for 3 days.

Not too late into the afternoon the plow arrived.  What a sight that was!!!  It wasn’t gone very long when Mike and Matthew ventured down to the store to refill the gas cans and see the world beyond our property line.  My excitement was short-lived as I saw them arrive – by foot.  The laneway was horrendous with ruts of ice and packed snow.  There was no way the van was getting back up to the house today.

Regardless of all that Matt and I headed in to my sister’s after supper so we could get cleaned up a bit.  The main roads were relatively clear by this point and the snow banks were absolutely out of this world.  It had been years since I saw that much snow.  I don’t know how it’s ever going to get cleaned up.

Wood (or lack thereof) was becoming a concern.  All reports indicated we were still going to be powerless for a while.  That’s where social media is such a wonderful thing.  Ask and you shall receive.  My cousin’s girlfriend stepped up to the plate and had what wood we needed.  Thanks again, Krissy!!!  And thanks again to Steve for loading and hauling.

Thursday morning saw a little bit of normalcy appear as school was back on and I was headed to work for the first time this week.  It was a challenge to get ready using pots of water heated on the BBQ but we managed.  When Marcus woke and was told there was school his frustration with the last few days was easily seen as he responded with a big YES!! and a fist pump.  He was even more excited when we told him that he could stay for the After School Program.  “I missed all my friends!” was all he had to say.

When I arrived at work it was even more apparent that this was a storm that wouldn’t soon be forgotten.  Our lot, along with the streets were buried.  We may see snow until June.  This was the view from outside the back door at the office.

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The power crews continued to try to restore power to many rural residents in the area ~ us being one of them.  We were so close to being back up and running Thursday evening but with so much damage and so many downed trees it wasn’t going to happen just yet.  We were all getting antsy and tired.  I went to bed Thursday night pretty disgusted but thankful that slowly life was returning to normal.

Friday morning was pretty much the same.  Marcus and I got out to school and work.  We decided that Matt would just stay put because as much as he was trying to hold it all together he was still pretty much out of sorts.  We thought at first having him head back to school would be the right thing to do, he really needed a couple of days home without all of us being constantly on top of each other.

At 9:00 am on Friday morning we hit the 100 hour mark without power.  It was a long week, but true to form, we made it through.  Even though we were cold, tired and starting to get on each other’s last nerve we made it through.  Hopefully today was the day we’d see The Hideaway back up and running.  There were less than 100 people without power and the crews were in our area.

At the 102 hour and 45 minute mark, I received a picture from Mike.  It took me a second to clue in.  This was what I saw…

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Light!!!  Power to the garage!!!  What a sight that was.  Even though I was at work at not home I couldn’t have been more excited.  It was short lived, however.  Less than 3 hours later, I got a message that simply said, “Power gone again.”

Crash and burn.

Although it wasn’t totally unexpected, Mike was firing up the generator again.  This time almost 2,000 homes were without power again.  Thankfully, it was short-lived.  By the time I got home supper was being cooked on our stove and the house was nice and toasty warm.  Matt had set the table and even though you’d think it was the last thing we’d want to do, we ate by candlelight.  Our first real cooked meal that we ate all week.  It was awesome.

Instead of spending the evening relaxing, Leslie and I headed in to town to do a bit of grocery shopping.  We arrived home with a van full of bags and coffee, tea and hot chocolate for us all.  Over the past couple of days I was ok at getting the van up the laneway.  It was tricky and required some fancy driving but I did it.  The snow and ice was melting a bit causing the lane to be nothing but ruts, water, snow and ice.  It was a mess.  I warned Leslie that it wasn’t going to be easy and I hoped she wouldn’t be wearing the drinks she held in her hands by the time we got up the hill.  I took a deep breath and hit the gas.  We were 4-wheeling with the van bouncing around like we were in a dune buggy.  Half way up the hill I had the pedal to the floor but I wasn’t going anyway.  I wasn’t spinning but I just wasn’t going anywhere.  Ever so slowly we were advancing.  Talking to the van like it could hear me I guided it up to the point where I finally grabbed the gravel.  Please, please, please, please….just a little bit farther, c’mon girl, don’t let me down now, c’mon, you can do it, just a little bit farther.  We made it to the corner that I took at warp speed bumping all over the place.  By the time I pulled in to our driveway my heart was pounding through my chest, I was sweating like a pig and we were laughing like two fools, but we made it.

After hauling our bags into the house (but not before one broke and all contents landed all over the ground on Leslie) and getting settle we were finally able to resume our typical Friday evening bliss at The Hideaway.

It was an interesting week, to say the least.  I think overall, we all did pretty good.  This storm is something none of us will soon forget, but we proved once again that together, we can get through just about anything.  I have family that I am truly blessed to be part of and a hubby, especially, that is second-to-none.  He held it together for us all.  He spent 4 nights tending to the fire while the rest of us got our sleep.  He commented that normally his job is to put the fire out ~ this week his job was to keep the fire going.  Kind of ironic, hey?

Here’s to a quick turnaround in the weather and that spring 2014 will finally arrive leading to a summer of great weather.  If anyone complains about the heat or amount of mosquitoes this year, I’ll have to have all these pictures that I shared today handy.

Until next time…

 

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Choices

I watched today as a friend made an open declaration via social media.  Something he really didn’t have to do.  In my mind, it made no more difference than if he stated he was wearing blue socks instead of brown.

The reason for the declaration was secondary to a couple of very fulfilling accomplishments he has been celebrating (and continually working on) as of late.  Yet because of one small part of one of the accomplishments he was judged, so he chose to share that he was judged.

But aren’t we all (judged)?  Don’t we all (judge)?  Judging can really take on two forms, can’t it?  If you choose to support someone you are positively judging them and offering them support because you agree with what they are doing or what stand they take on certain topics.   When it’s all good, judging someone is ok.  What about when it’s not supportive judging?  When it’s hurtful and critical and well, judgmental?    Is that ok?  I guess that comes down to how the person being judged chooses to deal with it.

This all brings me back to a quote I have sort of adopted over the years.  This same quote has been the banner for my blog since the day I started it:

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” ~ Lou Holtz

Sometimes we don’t know how to handle what life throws our way.  We can at times base our choices of how we respond on what everyone else will think, especially when we are younger.   Who we are can be so dependent on how we think others view us, and many times that’s true, but it’s also very sad.

As we grow, learn and experience we come to realize that what others think, while it is important, doesn’t have to define who we are.  We don’t have to have everyone’s approval nor do we have to feel the need to live up to everyone’s expectations of how they feel we should live our lives.

There are three significant times in my life that I often draw on to reflect when I feel I could be judging something or someone that I have absolutely no business doing.  These three times have been life lessons and each has been taught to me by a different person, for a different reason.

First was almost 12 years ago and it was taught to me by my baby girl, Emily Ann Rose.  I have never gone through anything as humbling as giving birth to a child who was not alive.  Going through childbirth only to say goodbye to a baby I never had the chance to say “I love you” to certainly makes you realize what’s important in one helluva hurry.  Emily taught me more about life without her living than anything else in my 43 years.

My second life lesson came a year later when my best friend was diagnosed with cancer.  I was having a hard time with it once she started her treatments and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go see her or not.  I’m not good around people who are physically ill.  I am almost phobic about being around someone who is throwing up.  I was talking to my sister about this one day and I was telling her that I didn’t know if I’d be able to go and see Debbie.  “What if she gets sick?  I don’t know if I can handle it?”  My sister has always been so good at (figuratively) slapping me upside the head when I needed it.  Her answer went something along the lines of “Gee Trace, I’m sure given the choice, Debbie wouldn’t want to be going through this either and I think she’d really like to have her best friend by her side.  This isn’t about you.”  This isn’t about you.  This isn’t about you.  Those four words were possibly the most powerful four words she has ever spoken to me.  She was right.  And I am thankful to this day that we had that conversation because she helped me get it.  She helped me get over myself and be there for my girl through her illness to the point that I was at the hospital with her during tests and I was at her side every day during the time she was sick.  I was in the room with her family, holding her hand when she took her last breath.  My sister and my best friend gave me my second life lesson ~ it’s not about me.

The third one that stands out in my mind came from my better-half.  I can’t remember what I was ranting and raving about standing in our kitchen one day (see, it was really that important for me to have been ranting and raving about that I can’t even remember what it was now) but Mike let me go on for a while and then he looked at me ever so calmly and said ten words.  “It’s only an issue if you make it an issue.”   Wow!  There’s that slap upside the head again – this time with a brick.  I think it was the most profound statement he ever said to me.  He’ll never ever understand the impact those words had on me at that specific time in my life, for whatever reason.

These three times in my life all have one thing in common.  They were all based on how I chose to react.  What I chose to do.  The choices we make have a direct influence on how we judge (positively or negatively) what others do .  If we cannot be at peace with decisions we have made in our own lives then it’s only too easy to shoot our mouths off and negatively judge decisions that others around of have come to terms with  in their lives.

We all have to have those A-ha Moments.  We all have to have those moments that define us as a person whether others agree with them or not.

For what it’s worth (and I know he certainly doesn’t need my approval or praise by any means), I want this guy to know I’m proud of him.  Not just for what he did today but for everything he had done since I have known him and for the person he was before I knew him.  Collectively, he’s got his act together.  There were bumps along the way ~ no one lies in a bed of roses, but given some of the decisions and choices he’s been faced with, I’m proud to say I know him and I am eager to see where his journey takes him next.

My Dad has been known to say that you can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  At the end of the day if you can be pleased with yourself, that’s all that really matters.

Until next  time…

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Ka-Boom!

As I eluded to in my previous post, we have been seeing lots of changes around here lately.  If you’ve been a follower of my blog over the years, you’ll understand that this is nothing new, but it creates a huge impact.

When Matthew grows, evolves, advances, matures… call it what you will, it’s never been at an easy-going, run-of-the-mill pace.  It’s never been subtly.  He goes from ground level to 25,000 like a shot.  It may take a while and life may go along at a dull roar for a long time but then like a shot there is a spurt that knocks everyone off their feet in a good way.

Over the last three weeks to a month Matthew has been very vocal about his ‘good moods’.  He always verbalizes when he is having a good day.  This makes me happy but it also makes me sad at the same time.  How must he typically be feeling on an average day if he feels the need to repeatedly tell us how good he feels when he is having a good day?  Just another reason why I wish I could get into his head for a little while.  I just want to get it.  I want to be able to understand, and even though he has always been very good at explaining to us how he feels, I can’t wrap my head around how it must really feel for him.

When he’s in this mind set, life as we know it runs a whole lot better.  There has also been an incredible transformation in the relationship between Matthew and Marcus.  It’s been so obvious that it’s almost smacked us all in the face.  They are spending time together, they are talking (mostly) civil to each other and they are (dare I say it??) enjoying each other’s company.  Now I know brothers will be brothers and they will always have their moments but, as with everything else with Matt, he tends to do everything in extremes.  When he’s not in the mood the whole world knows it and when he’s in the zone everyone certainly sees it.  Ever since Matt was Marcus’ age, the toddler and preschool age to about the age of 8 has always been the group that Matt had the most trouble relating to.  That hasn’t changed over the years.  He doesn’t like being followed, or copied, or hung on, or be in constant demand.  Anything that a young child in these age groups is famous for, that’s basically what bothers Matt about them.  And I get that.  We all see qualities about others that get under our skin but we can look past them for the most part to try to live as harmoniously as possible.  When you live under the same roof as someone who basically drives you bonkers, it makes it a little more difficult to keep it under your hat.  Especially if you live with heightened senses and need to let everyone know when things aren’t quite going your way.  Yeah, makes for an interesting few years…lol.  Mike and I have been more referees than parents.  We thought originally that the almost 12 year age difference between the two of them would be a good thing.  Hmmm, not so much.  The 12 year age difference is numerical only.

However, hopefully we are on an upward trend.  Last week saw a first.  We were about 3 weeks into the noticeable difference when I asked Matthew if he would like to mind his brother for an hour or so while his grandmother and I went to a meeting.  Without hesitation, he agreed.  What never would have happened even two months ago went off without a hitch.  It was great to walk back through the door to great reports (from both of them).  Marcus was a ‘perfect angel’ and Matthew was a ‘good big brother taking care of his little brother’.  It was nice.  It was an accomplishment of huge magnitude for Matthew.  It was a big step in the right direction.

As we have become accustomed to, this can all change in the drop of a hat.  We could be back to ground zero at any moment, but I’m hopeful.  Given this big transformation is in the middle of the worst winter we have seen in many years, it only adds to the significance of it all.  Matt can experience many symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) through the winter months.  Vitamin D has been our friend.  This year we haven’t felt the need to supplement nor have we seen any of the symptoms that were so dominant in years gone past.  We’ll take it!

So as we continue to trudge our way through February, Matt continues to be happy watching the birds at the feeders and trying daily to outwit the resident squirrels that have been taunting him.  It’s been a good (or as good as it can be with the weather) run.  Let’s hope it continues and that we see the growth expand.

Until next time…

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How Time Changes

It’s Saturday afternoon.  Mike is working day shift.  And here I sit.  Granted, I could be doing some needed housework, but hey, that’s not going anywhere.  It’ll still be here tonight or tomorrow.

Supper is cooking in the slow cooker, the country music is playing in the background and I’m really enjoying my day.  The boys are each in their respective places doing their own thing and for the moment, all is quiet.  That’s not to say in ten seconds that won’t change but for now, it’s pure bliss.

This morning, Marcus and I spent some time doing puzzles and playing a new ‘game’ that I picked up for him this week.  It’s a board game that matches letters with pictures teaching him what letters the word for the picture starts with.  He did really well with it.  There were a couple of pictures he wasn’t sure of (olive, xylophone), but once I told him what they were he was off and running with the letters.  His comprehension and understanding is something else.  He’s learning without even realizing we are doing work and he loves sitting and practicing his letters.  He’ll write down a string of letters and ask what it spells, then he’ll turn around and write down the names of 4 students in his class or some of the sight words they’ve been learning.  He loves school and it certainly shows.  Now he sits quietly watching YouTube videos of hockey players, fire trucks, construction sites or music.

Matthew was up quiet early today.  I thought we might be in for a rough start to the day because of it, but he quickly came around.  He loves staring out the windows watching his birds.  He’s trying to outwit “Einstein”, too.  That’s what he has named the squirrel that has been driving him bonkers.  He’s certainly on a quest to show that squirrel who’s boss.  I have a feeling I know how it’s going to end.  Interesting and not much to Matt’s liking, I suspect.  He spent a lot of time today cleaning his room.  It’s so spic and span, it’s gleaming.  He certainly saw the accomplishment of his efforts today.

He and Moo are (shhhhhhh, I don’t want to say it too loud….) almost getting along a little better.  They were playing and carrying on today a few times without one biting the head off the other.  I think there could be hope.  Matt has certainly been more tolerant lately and Marcus is slowly learning that pushing Matt’s buttons just sometimes isn’t worth it at all.

I have two very different individuals as my sons.  They are both wonderful boys yet polar opposites.  Weird, hey?  Gone are the days of babies, gone are the days of toddlers.  So much of their lives are behind us now.  And I know Marcus is only 5 but he’s has grown so much in those five years it amazes me to think of what is to come.  If he grows and blossoms to half the young man his older brother has become, I’ll be a very fortunate Mamma.

Our boys are babies no more and even though we have made quite the journey with Matthew he is settling into his own more every day.

Today was a day of reflecting, smiling and looking towards what the future holds for our boys.

Hillard Family 2013 (1) copy

Until next time…

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Back to Routine

Today is the last day of Christmas Break.  We (well, the boys) return to their regularly scheduled school lives tomorrow.  This year’s break has seemed so long.  They finished up classes December 20 but the week before saw 2 or 3 storm days.  They probably missed another 3 or 4 while they were on their break.

This winter has been like nothing we have seen in years.  And I mean years.  I remember 1985/86 was really bad for us, but as far as this much snow this early; no, it’s been a long time.

Most of Matthew’s Christmas decorations outside are buried and won’t be found until the spring, I suspect.  This is after Friday night’s blizzard…

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So it looks as though we are in for a long winter.  I’m not a fan.  Yes, it’s great for the skiers, snowmobilers, and those who love outdoor winter activities, but the cold isn’t for me.  I can’t wait for summer.

Let’s get the boys back to school so we can have March Break, then we’ll be on the countdown.

Guess which picture I prefer??

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They don’t even look like the same place!  Hahahaha

Until next time…

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My Year in Review

A synopsis of 2013 ~ the year of change:

January 2013

Started off the year with the person who makes my world complete.

T&M

February 2013

Sledding with Moo.  An incredible day!

sledding w Moo

 

March 2013

The last Easter in The Happy Place as we decided to sell our home and begin a new adventure.

Easter 2013

 

April 2013

For Sale ~ so many mixed emotions

For Sale

 

May 2013

The first half-decent family picture ever!!  A great day with a walk in the wilderness.

May family pic

 

June 2013

Academic excellence achieved for our boy.  So proud!

awards night 2013

 

July 2013

The hottest temperatures we have seen in years and we’re moving!!!

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August 2013

Hilliard’s Happy Hideaway brought to life.

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September 2103

Marcus starts school and Matt starts high school (and another good family pic!).

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And the first of many family get-together’s at The Hideaway (there were a bunch who stayed up at the house and didn’t get in on the family shot…we worked with what we had…lol)

Pot luck family pic

 

October 2013

Our first family photo shoot.  Lots of fun and relatively harmless.  Thanks to Steve Pertus for capturing some great memories.

Hillard Family 2013 (82) copy

 

November 2013

Supporting our Veterans by the thousands.

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December 2013

Our first Christmas at The Hideaway

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And we ended the year the same way we started it, albeit a little more casual.

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An exciting, busy year for sure!  Here’s hoping you have just as many, and more, great memories to reflect back on.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring, so make the most of each day you’re offered and live them all with no regrets.

Stay tuned a year from now to see the year 2014 in review.  Hopefully it will be as rewarding!

Until next time…

 

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Christmas is Approaching Fast!

The Hideaway has transitioned from summer to Christmas.  The leaves, flowers, and warm temperatures have been replaced by Christmas trees, cozy pj’s and crackling fires.

As every day passes our decision to make a change is more validated.  I don’t think we go through a full 24 hours without hearing someone say how much much our home is loved.  The boys have had a great term in school and their report cards were truly indicative of this.

If you recall, this time last year Matthew had his biggest dream come true having the opportunity to meet his ‘hero’, Cesar Millan.  Well, it seems like December could be his lucky month as this past week he was able to meet his second “hero”, Temple Grandin.  For those who don’t know who Dr. Grandin is, she is basically the Wayne Gretzky of the autism world.  She also has a PhD in animal science and is the most famous (and influential) adult living with autism in the world.  Cape Breton was very proud tp host a “Celebrating Abilities” Conference this past week with Dr. Grandin being the keynote speaker at the event.  During the day I had the opportunity to hear her speak twice and chat with her briefly as she was very accessible to delegates after her presentations.  The highlight for me was before the evening session when Matthew had a chance to spend some time with her one on one in the conference book store.  I don’t know if it was divine intervention or what, but every time I saw her throughout the day she was surrounded by lots of people hoping to speak with her for a moment or have her sign a book for them.  Matthew arrived an hour and a half before the evening session was to begin (I was confident and determined to make a meeting between the two of them happen).

As we walked down the hallway towards the book store we bumped into a friend of Mike’s whom I just had the pleasure of finally meeting at the conference (more divine intervention).  We chatted with her for a bit and then I noticed that Dr. Grandin was in the book store alone!!  Needless to say it didn’t take me too long to excuse ourselves and get in there.

I have never witnessed a conversation before between Matthew and another adult living with autism.  It was nothing short of magical.  For those of us not living with autism it would have appeared to be a very awkward, uncomfortable and meaningless conversation.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  Dr. Grandin shook his hand and asked him about school.  He told her of his favorite subjects and his love of animals.  She asked about his interests and was thrilled to hear that he didn’t sit in front of a screen playing video games.  He told her he was born years too late as he was a real old-fashioned, outdoors type guy.  She told him to make sure he worked hard to develop good skills so he could get a good job and she said that his involvement with the volunteer fire department and 4H were great for all types of different social skills building.  After signing a book for him, I thanked her and we went on our way.

Sounds like a pretty typical conversation, right?  And it was except there was no direct eye contact by either one of them.  At all.  The conversation would start and stop very abruptly with no transitions or “fillers”.  It was actually quite awkward for me.  No idle chit-chat, no easing from one topic to the next, no beginning, middle or end, if you understand what I mean.  They said what had to be said and that was that.  It was just that simple.  Point blank, the way it had to be, end of the conversation.  No unnecessary “stuff”.  He wanted to meet her and she allowed herself to be met.

Yet again, my son taught me something I could never teach him.  My idea of a conversation is much different than his.  Was his meeting with Dr. Grandin less meaningful than mine?  Actually, after some reflection I think the opposite is true.  I think the interaction between her and I was much more awkward for her than the interaction between her and Matt.  I am an extrovert.  I blow into conversations head-on and talk and talk and talk.  This time was no different.  My excitement of meeting her clouded my knowledge of how I should have approached her.  I’m sure she’s somewhat used to it, but I got caught up in the moment and didn’t realize it until I saw her and Matthew talk.  The conversation between the two of them was all that it had to be with no nonsense in between.  Sometimes less is more and I witnessed that first hand.

While we were waiting to go into the session I realized that I forgot to snap a picture of the two of them.  Matthew looked at me and said “Mom, I met her myself, I don’t need a picture, I’ve got the real thing in my mind.”  Again, it’s just that simple.  The stuff that is important to me really isn’t really that big a deal after all.  Thank you Matthew (and Dr. Grandin) for allowing me to be there for probably one of the most profound meetings I have ever witnessed.

temple grandin

Now our focus switches to Christmas.  It’s been different this year.  No stress, no rushing around, no unnecessary short-tempers.  Why is this?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I’m in a different frame of mind this year and I like it.  I’m relaxing and taking every minute as it comes.  I can’t wait to enjoy our first Christmas here at The Hideaway.  Maybe it’ll even stay green so we don’t have to worry about anyone travelling back and forth.  Here’s hoping!

Until next time…

**photo credit – PROPHOTOGRAPHIC

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