Thursday, 31 January 2013

Our Tiny "Terrific Kid"

    Today was the Terrific Kid's Assembly for the two schools.  I'm never really sure what to think.  I remember when Gabe was at school it was always the same kids who received the award again and again, it just never seemed fair.  It always seemed like it was the browners / the teachers pets or that really rotten kid who is terrible 23 / 7, but for that one hour he was good, and so they handed him the award.  It used to really burn me... that was then.  That was before my girls became "those kids".

    My three girls have been receiving "Terrific Kid Awards" since junior kindergarten.  My girls are all quiet, and polite, just like the boys, and yet somehow the girls seem to quietly demand attention, it's weird.  Grace and Riley seem to win one Terrific Kid a year (I am pretty sure that they are the kids I hated when Gabe did not receive his award).  Poor Rowan is following in his big brother's footsteps and is beginning to become resentful of his sisters.

    Today was Elly's turn.  Elly was selected for this month's theme of "integrity".  It seems funny to me.  Elly is our little spit fire (that's a nice way of saying spoiled brat).  All last year anytime we had to go into the office I would point at the bench  in front of the principal's office (the place where the bad kids go).  I would always show her the bench and tell her that is where she was going to sit all next year.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Elly is actually one of the best behaved kids in her class.  Maybe she does pay attention to what we try to drum into them, or maybe she has just learned through osmosis.  
    After the assembly was over, and I was changed out of my good clothes, with a beautiful coffee in hand, Christopher and I had a minute to sit and reflect.  The first thing that we reflected upon was how funny Elly was.  You will notice the model poses in all of the pictures.  She had the entire gym in hysterics after the other kids had left, and a handful of parents had stayed behind to take pictures of their "terrific kids".  She had a model strut going, and I would have to snap that picture quickly before the next pose was struck.  I thought that our straight laced principal was going to wet her pants she was laughing so hard.  There is never a dull moment with our Elly.
    The second thing that Christopher and I reflected upon is that we must actually be good parents.  I mean  I know that we are only have way through this job (parenting), but from all appearances we have five really nice children who are well behaved at school (I add at school because that is not always the case at home), who use good manners, and who are kind children.  One nice child is luck, but five nice children is no accident.  It is a good feeling to hear such nice and positive things about our children.  It tells me that what we are doing is working, and to keep it up.
    One of these days poor old Rowan will get his moment in the sun, and man what a big deal we will make of it.  In the mean time I will reprise my words I used so often for Gabe, "I think you're terrific", which is followed by an eye roll from him, and a head pat from me.  Eventually that little boy will get his time to shine, I guess we just have to wait.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Teaching About The AWESOME 80's

The cute little baby in this picture is now married, hard to beleive
    As a child we would travel in our family car with the "oldies" station cranked.  Oh The Mama's and The Papa's would just be singing their little hearts out.  Up in the front seat my Mom and Dad would be singing along with goofy smiles on their faces.  Oh they would just be bopping along to the songs from their youth.  Sometimes Mom would make a comment on what she was doing when that song was originally out.   I so wished that that family car had a back seat door, so that I could have hurled myself out of the car and into on coming traffic!  Overly dramatic, well may just a smidge, but I remember thinking it was pretty bad!
    Fast forward 25 years, and Christopher and I will sometimes crank the tunes on the satellite (we are so much kinder than my parents because on the car radio we listen to the current hits).  We will get goofy smiles, and sing along.  It is a terrible reminder that we're old, because we are listening to the music of our youth, only it's not the gross "oldies" it's the cool "80's".  We are working hard to educate our children, and teach them important history.  It's important that they know that the music from the 1980's was the greatest decade for music, ever, and well may ever be.  I make no such claims on the fashions of the 1980's. Oh I remember looking so cool with my silky long blouse, and my tights, and my Peter Pan Get Away Boots (they had terrible soles on them, and I was always falling on my back.  One time I was wearing them and as I took a step up to get onto my school bus, I slid right under the bus.... good times, good times), oh and perhaps the most classic accessory of the 1980's the really long set of beads that you would tie in a knot.  My hair was carefully crafted to look like I was standing in a wind tunnel.  It took lots of hairspray to look that good.  My sister had wall bangs, she would style her bangs so that they stood right up, like a wall.  No, the style of the 80's I will concede was interesting, but not really best of all time.
    For what ever reason yesterday I was telling Gracie how different the music videos of the 80's were.  They were better, so much better than today.  You know that you are getting old when you make claims like that.  Back in the 80's Music videos were new.  Before the advent of the music video bands could afford to be ugly, they could just put a picture of a car or something on the front of their albums.  With the new music videos bands had to be attractive, had to be cleaver if they wanted to survive.  The old music videos, the originals told a story, like a little mini movie.  There were no scantily clad women, well o.k. maybe in the hair band videos.
     I could not believe it, I don't know what happened, but Grace was actually interested in what I had to say.  There was not one single roll of the eye... I must write this down somewhere.  I told her that after the other kids were in bed I would "school" her in the difference between today's videos and the originals.

    Another shocking moment, I had just come downstairs from tucking all the little guys in, and Grace was sitting at the computer.  "Remember you were going to show me some of those old music videos?"  I am not sure if my face betrayed my utter shock, but I tried to play it cool.  This was my chance, don't blow it, don't blow it, you're going to be the cool Mom.  My first selection was AHA's Classic video, the one that introduced North America to this Swedish (at least I think they were Swedish, well they were all cute, that much I do remember).  Next my beloved Duran Duran's "Hungry Like A Wolf", followed by Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting".  She enjoyed them, she actually enjoyed them.  She liked the music, she like the videos, we had her in the palm of our hands... that is until we showed her how we used to dance in the 80's.  Christopher by this point had found his way into the living room and was enjoying Grace's reaction to our generation's music.  He demonstrated the shuffle dance that all boys did.  You remember they would stand perfectly straight with this pained expression on their faces, hands tightly clasped to their sides, and then would just shuffle their feet back and forth, oh a true classic.  She thought that was funny... we still had her.  And then I had to do it, I had to loose her respect... I did my classic 80's dance.  You remember that classic 80's dance where you would basically bring your opposite elbow to the opposite knee, but with a little bop to it.  Oh it was a beauty, it was my signature move... it was also where I lost her.  She looked at me, "You guys danced weird."

    I learned a valuable lesson last night, first of all "I AM OLD", there is no pretending, it snuck up on me, but it's true.  Number two, every generation thinks that their music was the best (although ours actually was).  Number three, and the most important one here, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much it may look like you are succeeding, you will NEVER BE A COOL PARENT!

    I leave you with some hilarious 80's dance moves that I discovered on youtube, enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Gabriel Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness Award

    Over the last few days I've been talking about "The Gabe Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness", and yet I realized that I have not talked "about" "The Gabe Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness".  In some ways I always feel a little badly when I speak about Gabriel.  I feel like one of those "look at me" people.  You know you have those friends on facebook who are always bemoaning some injury or some illness everyday.  Those people who seem to need your sympathy, desperately need your attention (I don't mean this in a mean way, even though the tone seems mean.  I really feel like those people are crying out for attention, and that's really sad).  I am not looking for sympathy.  I have 5 kids.  I talk about the other 4 all the time.  I feel like it's only right to talk about Gabe, it's just I need to talk about him in a different context.  The other reason that I feel free to talk about Gabe is because I am not the only person who has lost a child, unfortunately.  If just one other person out there reading this has gone through that kind of a loss and can receive any kind of comfort or inspiration, then I have done my job.
    When Gabe died we were lost.  Not only were we lost, we were panic stricken.  Our son was dead, but we could not bear the thought that he could be forgotten.  I will freely admit it was a panic I felt.  At that time I would lay awake in bed thinking, always thinking, racking my brain trying to find ways to immortalize him.  Being forgotten is so much worse than being dead.  We could not allow Gabe to ever be forgotten.  It was very early on when we decided upon "The Gabe Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness Award".
    The first award was given out exactly 41 days after we lost him.  The award is given on his birthday, on that birthday he should have been turning 10.  For that assembly the school showed the slide show that we had made for his funeral.  It was a slide show set to music, featuring pictures of him from birth.  It felt really important to allow the students to have that time to grieve.  None of them had been given an opportunity.  They had returned back from Christmas holidays to find all of their desks re-arranged, and basically Gabe sanitized from their classroom.  It was as if he had never been there.  There were no grief counsellors to help them, they were on their own.  The death of a friend / classmate is a pretty big thing for a child to have to work through.  Most children are not touched by death.  The closest thing to loss most children must endure is the death of a pet.  I think that the award, and the assembly helped them.  That very first award was given to one of Gabes friends, who also happens to be my best friend's daughter.  It seemed fitting.
    We decided on the "spirit of kindness" because it was so Gabe.  Gabe was not an artist, although, he loved to draw and paint.  Gabe was not an athlete, although he loved to play soccer and hockey.  He was very bright, but that wasn't who he was.  Kindness is something that we have always encouraged in Gabe, and in all of our children.  Gabe had kindness in spades, and that is why it seemed the most fitting way to honour him.  As part of the criteria for the award, we wanted it stipulated that the winner should be someone who tries to make a difference, someone who is consistently kind, not just when someone is watching.  Most importantly we did not want it to be a child who was consistently recognized for everything (you remember those kids).  Poor Gabe never won a terrific kid award, that was a real sore spot for him.  He was a great kid, but he was quiet, and was always passed over.  He would come home after every Terrific Kid's Assembly, his face all screwed up "Well guess who didn't get a Terrific Kid Award .... AGAIN!"  I would pat his head "I think you're a terrific kid." I would say, and he would say "You have to say that, you're my Mom!"  I would say it every time, it got to be our little joke.  For our award we wanted to award a child who is often looked over... we wanted to award a kid like Gabe.
    This year's award will be given this Thursday.  The award has grown to include a week of kindness before the assembly that sees a child awarded.  We feel like so often sports are awarded, and academics are awarded, but kindness is not awarded.  If you encourage kindness, if you try to make it grow the world can only be a better place.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Being Kind To The One's Who Don't Seem To Deserve Our Kindness

There's a reason why there aren't many
pictures of me in our photo album.

    I checked my hair, checked my make-up, checked my outfit ... again, I though I was ready, no wait one more check.  Today we were heading to the school for the Gabriel Lindsay Spirit of Kindness Week kick off.  I was going to be doing a speech in front of the whole school and I wanted to look my best, but more than that I did not want to embarrass Gracie.
    We got to the school and sat down, the whole time I am playing my speech in my head over and over again, wanting it to be empowering, inspirational.  I'm not nervous, surprisingly, I don't really get nervous anymore.  I wait for the principal to call me up to speak.  There is a great overhead featuring information about the award, facts about kindness, I'm still waiting.  A group of grade 8 kids go up and speak to the school about "K-I-N-D-N-E-S-S" and have an acronym for each letter, they then do a little skit about bullying, it's cute, I'm waiting.  The principal tells the school about the school wide challenge.  Each class will work with the grade 8 leadership kids and will come up with a class act of kindness that they will put into place for the remainder of the year, it's nice, I'm still waiting.  The principal dismisses the school, huh.  I guess it's for the best that I had something prepared just in case, but that's o.k.  The first class of grade 4's file out, calm and orderly, I say hello to their teacher (the lovely teacher that Gracie had for grade 4).  The principal comes over to talk to us as the rest of the classes are filing out.  "Do you usually say something at this assembly?" she asks me.  "yes" I admit sheepishly, "but that's alright, no big deal."  "You had something prepared didn't you?" she asks.  I nod, "That's alright, no big deal."  She walks into the center of the gym and whistles to catch everyone's attention. "Students, if I could get your attention, could you all please come back in and sit down, I forgot to let Mrs. Lindsay speak".  Now I'm wondering if my speech is really all that good, all that inspiring.  What if she has made all of the kids come back and I stink?  I mean I've really thought about this, and I think it's pretty good......but.....
    My speech went something like this.....

    "I will try to keep this short, because I know that you are all anxious to get back to your math... (let with groans and laughter).  I have been coming and talking to you for 8 years now, I'm sure that by now you grade 8's know what I'm going to say, but for you grade 4's ...  Gabe was just like you.  He was in grade 4.  He was a nice kid, he wasn't perfect, but he tried to do his best, to do what's right.  Today we've talked about kindness.  Kindness seems like something that is soft for the weak, but sometimes to be kind takes great strength.  Sometimes the people who most need our kindness, are the people that we would least like to extend it to.
    Everyone talks about bullying, and how we need to stop bullying.  No one ever asks why are the bullies, bullies?  Who would choose to go around hurting people both mentally and physically unless they too were hurting?  Sometimes it is the bullies who most need our kindness.  Maybe they come from a home where they don't feel loved, where there is violence, maybe they just don't feel good enough.  So often when we hear about tragedies where someone hurts a lot of people, we hear people describe that person as a loner, or someone who was bullied.  What if someone had shown them kindness when they most needed it, maybe the would not be so much sadness  so much violence.
    When I was a girl, I went to school here and at the other school, that was at least a million years ago.  Back then every face was white, all except for two faces.  Those faces were not white.  Back then people called them that hateful evil word.  It was a brother and sister.  The brother tried so hard to make everyone like him, and they did.  The sister was angry, she wanted to hurt people.  We began kindergarten with her pinching and hurting everyone.  As the years went on she would steal the best treats from peoples lunches.  Sometimes it seemed like maybe she was evil.  When I was in grade 2 I was swinging on the swings, I was up so high, when all of a sudden this girl was in front of me with a big sharp stick.  She drove that sharp stick into my face.  Do you see that scar (I pointed to it. That scar that with age has become bigger again.  With time it slid half way down my cheek).  Now here is the crazy thing, when I was older I actually became friends with that same girl who gave me this scar on my face, that girl who I was sure was evil.  It turns out that she felt so different, that she hurt so much, that she was so angry she had to push it out.  She took her anger out on everyone around her.  As she grew up she learned how to deal with that anger, how being a bully was lonely.
    Do you see what I mean, sometimes the people who seem to be the most undeserving of our kindness are the ones who most need it.  Thank you for being such great listeners."

     O.k. it was probably not as smooth as that.  That is basically what I said.  I really do think that as a society if we want to end bullying, then we need to look at "why" are these kids bullying.  Think about the amount of energy that must take to be a bully.  Think about the injuries they must receive by being a bully.  To me, bullying is really a cry for help (I say this but God help the child who hurts one of my children, thean all bets are off).  For us as a society to end bullying then we have to encourage kindness.  We have to remind children (and adults) that everyone is equal.  We need to do a better job keeping children safe from their own parents.  We need to make every child feel loved, cared for and wanted.

    I came home from that assembly and carefully took off my good clothes.  I put on my "Mom" uniform, you know the yoga pants (even though I don't do yoga) and one of my faded Disney Princess t-shirts.  I started emptying the dishwasher, in other words I carried on with my day.  I had prepared, I had primped, and now it was back to life.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Gift Of Kindness...

    Tomorrow afternoon is the kick off for "The Gabriel Lindsay Spirit of Kindness Week" that our local school does.  At this kick off assembly I usually say a speech.  I have been racking my brain thinking about what I can say that will be powerful, but will be heard.  In my head I have been throwing around two different ideas.  I have half formed both speeches, trying think them all through, trying to decide which topic will have the most impact for grades 4 through  8.
    We have been having this assembly for the last 8 years, since that very first birthday of Gabe's that we had to celebrate without him.  All of the kids at tomorrow's assembly will have heard me talk about Gabe every year that they have attended that school.  I always tell them that Gabe was just an ordinary 9 almost 10 year old grade 4 student.  He talked back to his parents, he acted silly, but he was nice kid, a kind kid.  He stuck up for kids that were being bullied, he helped the weaker students finish and maybe even better understand their work when he was finished his.  He was a nice kid.  I tell the same stories every year, I don't want them to be bored.
    I think that I have settled on my speech topic, but the other one was pretty good, well at least I thought.  I was going to tell them the same

     "Gabe was just an ordinary kid...  I was then going to continue on with "He was kind, but that is something that is important to our family.  Everyone thinks that everyone's family is like theirs, until they meet other people's families.  It is then that you discover how very different everyone else's families are.  Have you ever gone into a friends house and started to take off your shoes, only to discover that in their house you keep your shoes on?  Have you ever been given a snack and make to take in into your friend's living room like you do at your house, only to discover that at their house snacks must be eaten at the kitchen table. Once you have visited a few friends houses you realize just how very different everyone's family truly is.  Some families put a lot of focus on sports, they push their kids to succeed at every sport.  Some parents push academics, insisting that their children are the brightest.   At our house we value kindness above everything else.  When my kids grow up I want them to be kind and compassionate people.  

    In our house there are three rules....

1.  Hands are for helping not hurting!
2.  Think before you speak, because words can hurt more than hands.            (This is something I have to work on.)
3.  Never do something to someone else that you would not want them to    do to you ( that one is the most important one!)

    My ending for this one was a bit weak, but I thought it important to point out that anyone can be kind.  In our house we do value kindness above all else, and because of that I have kind children.  They are not perfect, but they are all kind, which makes me feel like I may just be doing my job right.  Although I have decided against that speech, it was funny that I had thought so much about it, especially since it was about to proven to me last night.
    The tiny town of Madoc has now become the proud owner of a McDonald's Restaurant.  This is something that every country kid fantasized about.  I remember as a child thinking that it would be so awesome if only we could have a McDonald's in our back yard.  Now Madoc has one.  Our kids have been desperate to go.  Christopher decided that last night we should surprise them and take them out for dinner at McDonald's.  Off we went to the golden arches.
    The restaurant was really busy, I guess that everyone had the same idea that we did.  I sat there enjoying my meal, but shocked at the amount of calories that my meal was (1200 calories for a Big Mac, Large Fry, and a Coke).  While we were eating our dinner I saw an acquaintance of mine.  She is also from Tweed.  She asked if I had gone to the new Zumba class.  I have not, but thought it might be fun to try.  The problem with being over weight and out of shape is that you don't want to stick out, and so as much as you "should" go to these exercise classes, you don't.  She thought that maybe we could go together (she has a similar physique to mine).  I thought this was a marvelous idea.  I would not stand out like a sore thumb if there were two of us.  She then said that she was thinking about joining Weight Watchers.  I was telling her that I had been counting calories for about three weeks now, and was having some success.  We chatted a little more, and then parted ways.
    We left the restaurant and belted the kids into the van.  As we were pulling out of the parking lot, the kids were all chattering away in the back seat, all of them except Rowan.  "Mom", his voice sounded troubled.  "Mom, I don't want you to go to that class with Sara, I don't want you to go to Weight Watchers.  I don't want you to change." it all gushed out of his little mouth.  He must have been thinking about it the whole time. "Why?" I asked him thinking that he was voicing concerns that I would not be giving him every spare second of my time, and that was what his problem with it was.  His response was so much sweeter, so much more profound than I could have ever imagined. "I love you just the way that you are.  You are perfect to me.  I don't want you to change."  Tears escaped the confines of my eyes, I was touched with the beauty, with the kindness.  I was perfect to him, just the way I was.  My little boy loves me.
    In our family we value kindness above all else.  I sometimes wonder if my children hear my words, see my actions.  Rowan proved to me last night that he is an avid learner.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sharpe's Food Market - An Amazing Campbellford Gem

    The town of Campbellford is just a 40 minute drive for us.  It is a beautiful little town.  For us it is a destination.  One of the things that I love about the quaint town of Cambellford is their amazing independent grocery store, Sharpe's Food Market.  Sharpe's is an enigma in the billion dollar grocery business, they are a family owned, truly independent.
    When Christopher and I first began dating, his Dad owned a Foodland grocery store in Acton.  This was before "Foodland" became a big chain that began replacing the local IGA's.  Christopher's Dad was meticulous in the way that he ran his grocery store.  You could have run a white glove along any shelf, any can, and it would have been spotless.  Don personally picked up the fruits and vegetables for his store, making breaking dawn trips into Toronto.  If it was not perfection, you would not find it in Don Lindsay's store.  I remember walking into the Foodland with Christopher and all of these little old ladies shopping would grab onto Christopher and speak to him.  They asked him about school, about his life.  The reason for this was because the Lindsay's were highly respected members of Acton.  Don ran his store the right way.  He was very involved in his community and supported as many non-profits and local teams and pretty much anyone else who would come in and ask for his support.  It was around this time when big business started to push it's nose into small grocery store chains.  Head office would make radical decisions that would effect the way that the small local grocery stores were run.  The people who owned the stores, the people who made their bread and butter from their own communities were no longer the bosses.  It was at this time that Don decided to sell his store.  I think that if he could not run it according to his high standards, then he would not allow his name to be attached to it.

    In so many ways Sharpe's reminds me of Christopher's Dad's store.  You can feel the pride when you walk through those glass sliding doors.  Everything is immaculate.  The first thing that you see when you walk in are the friendly faces of the women working at the meal / deli counter.  This is a family who is running a business, but remember's who pays them.  Their customer service is extraordinary.  Every employee that I have ever met has been polite and helpful, that is a lot more than you could say for most of the big box stores / grocery chains.  Here's what sealed the deal for me... Before I went around taking pictures I thought it was a good idea to ask permission.  I asked a man who was stocking the produce if he could please tell me where I might find a manager.  He pointed to the spotless man with the warm friendly face who was also stocking the produce department. I explained to him about my blog, and then asked permission to take pictures around the store, and more specifically would it be alright if I took a picture of him.  He thought it should look like he was working so that he wouldn't get fired, he then with a laugh he confided that they couldn't fire him, he was family.  Right there I was instantly impressed.  In so many other stores the owners and their families sit back and tell other's what to do, keeping their well manicured hands clean.  Growing up Christopher worked at his Dad's store.  He stocked shelves, he made deliveries to the older people in town, and often visited with the poor lonely things.  He was a part of his family's store, he did not sit back.  As a matter of fact, all of Christopher's sisters also worked at the store, it was after all a family business.

    I love the giving nature of the store.  They make children feel wanted and included.  Really it's just smart to make children form an attachment to the store, because if you want your business to last several generations (and their's has), you want to have people feel valued, to feel like they have an ownership.  There are fun carts for the kids, Elly was super excited to steer her rocket ship cart.  She truly felt like she was in charge and was steering for real.  There are also little tiny immaculate children's sized carts, so that they can walk along side and fill their carts.  I went to the deli counter and ordered some black forest ham.  When the woman behind the counter was finished weighing and bagging my cold meat, she asked if Elly would like a slice of ham to eat.  Where do they give away free food?  This is something that they do every I have been in there.  The kids feel very important as they walk along (or as in Elly's case ride along like royalty) eating their deli meat, that has been rolled into a fun little roll.

    Not only do Sharpe's give children free deli meat, when they walk over to the bakery department, usually a nice lady asks them if they would like a cookie.  Where can you get your children fed at the average grocery store without paying a cent?  That level of generosity makes me want to give them my business all the more.  I just wish that Sharpe's would bring a grocery store to Tweed.

    At your regular grocery store, you really have no idea where your meat comes from.  I suspect it may actually come from some meat processing plant, I really have no idea.  I mean I see the workers walk out in their white apron pushing that silver revolving cart and fill the meat display, but they come out of a big metal door.  I don't know what's behind that door.  I just have to have faith that they are following all of the health codes.  At Sharpe's you can see right into their meat department.  It is set back a bit so that the average Joe who lacks basic manners (or hygienic practices) cannot cough all over the meat, but if you care to stand there, you can watch them prepare your meat.
    I stood watching Garry the butcher, I felt mildly stupid for standing there staring, but at the same time I was fascinated watching him.  He took great care as he cut that meat, there was great skill in every stroke of what I expect was a razer sharp knife. This was a professorial, applying his trade.  You would think that with an obviously highly trained butcher on staff, and it looked like there was more than one, you would pay an absorbanent price for your meat, but it's really quite the contrary.  My first instinct is to say that Sharpe's has the cheapest meat around, but the word cheap brings to mind  lesser quality, in exchange for a lesser price, and so I would say their prices are the most reasonable, because their meat is anything but "lesser quality".  I filled my cart with meat that will last my family of 6 easily two and a half weeks of meals and the cost was around $100.00.  That is almost unheard of now a days.
This is a picture of a stuffed pork loin.
Have you seen a stuffed pork loin offered at
your local grocery store?  Was it under $8.00?
    Before I finish talking about Sharpe's meat department, I feel like need to talk about their sausages.  My family LOVE sausages.  When my family asks the inevitable and super irritating "What's for dinner?", if I tell them that we are having sausages my children (who all like and hate different things) all give a huge cheer.  The biggest cheer can be heard from the biggest kid, Christopher.  I believe that Christopher's love of sausage is so great that I think he may very consider himself to be a sausage conesseur.  The sausages are all made in store, as a matter of fact, most of the packages were "Garry's own".  I purchased country style, maple, and honey garlic.  OH MY GOODNESS, were they ever good!  Christopher exclaimed that they may very well be the best sausages that he has ever eaten, and I would have to agree with him.  That is high praise from a sausage conesseur.  If I could take just a second more, it is here that I would like to say "Thank You Garry, you are a true craftsmen.  My compliments to you and your sausage making skills!" (oh my they were good sausages).

    The picture below is the actual price of their banana.  The only time that I have ever seen a price that low on bananas was in historic pictures of grocery stores and produce stores.  Those pictures were set in the 1970's.  39 cents for bananas is unheard of in this day and age.  Needless to say I bought a number of bunches ( A. bananas don't last very long in our house.  B.  If for some alien reason the bananas go brown before we are able to eat them all, then I will make lots of batches of banana bread.) 

    It will come as no to surprise when I tell you that I really love Sharpe's Food Market.  I have a great respect for their ethics, and high standards.  I wish it was closer, because it would be my grocery store of choice. Their prices are extremely reasonable, their staff are friendly and helpful.  When I shop in their store I do not feel like I am being taken advantage of, like I do in most grocery stores.  I feel like I am being dealt with fairly.  More than that I like the way the store feels like the "community's store".  
    They have the most amazing thing that is at the end of their cash registers, something that I have never seen anywhere else.  At the end of the cash registers are a bank of wooden boxes, they look like little mail boxes.  There are also little boxes set on top of the bank of boxes.  Over top of each little mailbox is a label.  These labels all say different things, "Lawn bowling", Soccer Association", "Food bank", "Ladies Hospital Auxiliary" the list goes on and on.  Here is the amazing part.  When you have paid for groceries, if you put your receipt into one of those boxes, Sharpe's will make a donation to that organization based on a percentage of your bill.  Where else does that?  
    After we had checked out, Elly and I stood trying to decide who to give our receipt to.  I asked Elly, "Would you like to give it to the people who make the park so very pretty?  Would you like it to help at the hospital", "Would you like it to help hungry people have food to eat?"  She did not hesitate, "We need the hungry people to eat!"  She balanced herself in the cart, so that she could personally put our receipt into the little silver lunch pail.  She was very proud of herself, and of "us".  This allows us to begin a conversation with our children about charity, about helping the community.  It allows a dialogue that encourages children to think about something bigger than them.  It shows them that the world is not just about them, that the world is a better place when we do our share and help others.  It encourages children to learn about alterism.  All of this just from buying groceries.   

    It seems like our society only really values money.  No longer are buildings built for beauty, but instead for economy and greatest profit.  All of the little Mom and Pop stores are becoming extinct.  In the place of people who ran a business to earn a living, but also to be members of a community, are now big business.  Big business makes decisions based on the bottom line, how to make the most profit, even if that profit is made at the expense of quality and of the environment and the very people that they need to survive.  Big business does not care about people, it cares about the profit margin.  As a society we support these big businesses because we feel like we can save money (again about money).  We don't think about what the true cost of our doing business really means.  We don't think about our local sports teams and our schools and churches.  Big business does not support these, small local businesses do.  If we want our local businesses to support us, then perhaps we need to rethink our money saving strategies.
    Sharpe's Food Market is not a big chain.  They obviously make a profit, or else they would not still be in business after all of those years.  They make a profit, but not on the backs of the community in which they live.  They respect their customers, and I hope that their regular customers appreciate what a gem they have in their community.  Sharpe's Food Market is the business model that I wish more businesses would use.  It is a place where you feel welcomed, and feel good about where your food is coming from.


Friday, 25 January 2013

Lunch Lady Friday....

    I know that so many of you have been crying silent tears wondering "WHY?  WHY?  Where are Lunch Lady Fridays?"  O.k. I'm pretty sure that no one noticed.  Sometimes life gets crazy and the best laid plans get left behind.  Sometimes I feel like I have something more exciting to say rather than fun lunches.  

    Today I thought I would come back to what my kids call "Fun Lunch Friday".  They look forward to their lunches on Fridays, and if I dare to not make the effort, I will hear about it when they get home.  I know that I sound like a broken record, but it really only takes a fraction longer to make a fun lunch.  Most times I really enjoy making their lunches on Fridays (unlike the drudgery of most days).

    This week strawberries were on sale for $1.50.  I bought lots.  To up the fun, I melted chocolate chips in a small bowl, and then dipped the cut up pieces.  I let them dry on a plate while I made the rest of the lunch. Today's main meal was a homemade sub.  Lucky for me we had Tacos for dinner last night, which meant I had chopped lettuce and finely grated cheese left over, making my job easier.  I used fresh panini buns.

    My favourite part of Friday lunches is the fun part.  For Rowan who loves hippos, I made it look like the little tiny toy hippo was eating his sub.  In a lot of ways, I am apparently a child in a grown ups body.  The most juvenile things give me the most pleasure.  I took great pleasure making the ninja look like he was lying in wait (again, not so much grown up).

    So there you have it folks, fun Friday!  I do think it bears mentioning one funny thing about lunches.  I have many times declared my love of the divided Ziplock lunch containers.  They are really perfect.  I bought them in the States last year.  In the back of my head I have been panicking a little thinking "What if something happens to one of my lunch containers?"  The last few times that we have made the trek to Watertown, New York, there have been no divided containers.  I emailed the company, who assured me that they do indeed make the containers still.  However I cannot find them anywhere!  A couple of months ago the exact thing that I dreaded happened.... The kids empty their lunch bags on the kitchen counter when they get home from school.  On that one particular fateful day, I was doing laundry when I saw Fergus excitedly running in to see me with something in his mouth.  On further inspection it was one of my precious Ziplock divided containers!  He had chewed it up real good.  So now I have three containers, instead of four.

Happy Friday!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Being Kind To Me - My New Year's Resolution Update

    This year I resolved to be kind to me.  This resolution has been so much easier to keep than I ever thought it to be possible.  I think I was ready, I know I was ready.  I have been treating myself as the equal that I deserve to be.  I have made some VERY big changes in my life, changes that have been a long time in coming.
    Part of my resolution was to be more mindful of how I am treating this body of mine.  This body is a thing of beauty.  It was designed to do amazing things, and I have not been treating it like the sacred thing that it is.  I have been being very unkind to it, taking it for granted.  I have mistaken self love, with  self indulgence (only where junky, crappy, food is concerned).  To me I deprived myself of everything that would make me feel good about myself, and substituted chocolate and cola.  I ate without thought, never truly taking the time to enjoy what I ate.  When I take a step back and look at it objectively I realize that it was self abuse.  I did not feel worthy... that has changed.
    I have been reluctant to share my mindful eating part of my resolution.  It seems ridiculous because there is very little I am reluctant to share.  This felt like a little secret, it gave me room for failure, and no one would ever know but me.  I have decided that I will not fail, and even if I put on the little bit of weight that I have succeeded in loosing, it is still not a failure.  Failure isn't not succeeding, failure is never trying.  I am trying to be kind to me, I am trying to improve my life, how could that ever be a failure?  How could being kind to myself be anything BUT a success?
    I have been counting calories.  I am depriving myself of nothing, I'm just using moderation.  By counting calories I have come to realize just how mindless my eating was.  I was never one to gorge on my food.  I would never eat three hamburger meals at a fast food chain.  As a matter of fact, much to my husband's delight, I was rarely able to finish my meals when we would go out (he loves this because it means he gets to eat my leftovers).  I just never thought about what I ate.  My big weakness, my self love was drinking cola.  I would easily drink four in a day.  Drinking an ice cold cola to me was self love.  I have now come to see that each can of cola is worth 160 calories.  That is 640 calories on drinks, not food.  I now look forward to drinking my "one" glass of cola after I have put the kids into bed.  It is now a real treat.  I have worked those calories into my daily amount.
    Almost more important than watching what I am eating, I have been treating myself with kindness.  Every year my hands and feet crack and bleed.  Every year I am in pain with them, often having to wear bandages on my feet to stop them bleeding through my socks.  This year I have begun a nightly ritual.  Before bed I sand my heals and apply beautiful Body Shop cream onto them.  I then put on socks.  I realize this is not rocket science.  I also realize that many women do this for themselves all the time.  This to me is self love.  Normally I would never spend that much money on such a product, I would just suffer.  I now rub intensive almond hand cream into my hands, again from The Body Shop.  I also have started using the body butter on my dry itching skin.  This has been a significant investment in myself, one that normally I would NEVER make.  I've decided that I'm worth that!
    To many of you reading this you may now be shaking your head.  You may be wondering how this idiot (this idiot being me) could be so excited about taking care of herself.  To many of you, you may be shaking your head, but for a different reason.  I suspect that there are a lot of us martyr Moms out there.  We think that to take care of ourselves is to deprive our children.  I am finding that my once firmly held theory has been shattered.  By taking care of myself I am not taking away from my kids, I am giving to them.  I am showing my daughters a good female role model.  I am more patient, because I am more calm, less angry.  It is amazing how self abuse makes you angry with not just yourself.
    I realize that today is only January 23, and that I have only been succeeding for 23 days in my resolution.  To me 23 days is the longest I have ever held onto a New Year's Resolution.  I also know that I am feeling better about myself than I have felt in years, why would I give up on that?

Monday, 21 January 2013

My Sister /The Joy of Cousins

    Yesterday was my Dad's 70th birthday.  70 is a big deal!  Because 70 is such a big deal my sister and her family flew in from Sault Ste Marie.  I forget just how much I miss my sister until I see her.  When she's miles away I remember that I enjoy my sister's company, but I forget just how funny she is, and I forget "just" how much I miss her company.  Luckily I have the above picture that will help me to remember just how nuts we are when we are together.

    Sault Ste Marie is a 10 hour drive, which means I don't get to see my sister very often, if I'm lucky I see her once a year.  It is pretty much a given that my sister and I will get up to some kind of crazy shenanigans when we are together.  Two years ago when I went up to visit her on March break we had a dance off (I won by the way, for my awesome moves).  The kids and my Mom sat cheering us on, with a heavy dose of both excitement and eye rolling.

    The other thing that I enjoy about my sister is her kids.  I love that Nate jumps in for a hug.  I love that they call me "Aunt Sissy".   I love how easily our children fall together, like they had never been apart.  They just fall into "cousin rhythm".  There seems to be some kind of a genetic bond that makes cousins instantly at ease.  Growing up my cousins were my best friends.  We would fall into the instant easy rhythm, we still do.  There is something almost magical about cousins.  I just sit and watch our kids enjoy each other.  Grace and Sienna wander off on their own to do "big girl things", and Rowan and Nate go off and get up to "boy things" (I suspect that it is discussing gross things, but I have no proof).  Elly and Riley kind of swing between the both.  It really is beautiful.  I feel a little sad that they don't get enough of that.
    Growing up my sister was tiny and blonde, and I was not tiny and had brown hair.  No one could see past that, even though we share most of the same facial features.  I would always shake my head when people could not believe that we were not sisters.  Really the only difference in our facial appearance was we had slightly different noses, other than that, almost identical.  Saturday night the females went their separate ways from the males.  The boys took Dad out to a Belleville Bulls hockey game, and we girls headed out shopping.  We were at Walmart and Mandy had told Sienna to "suck it up", because her blister was hurting, Riley looks up at Mandy then looks at me "Yup, you can tell you're sisters!"  She then looks at Sienna and informed her that "Our Mom tells us to suck it up all the time!", this was followed by an eye roll.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

My Dad's 70th Birthday

    Today is my Dad's 70th Birthday.  I am not sure how it is possible.  In my head my Dad is 40, but then I know that's not possible because I'm turning 42.  70 seems like such a big number, and yet my Dad does not seem old.  What I know is that I am very lucky to have my Dad, and really the last 10 years have been borrowed time.
    Ten years ago my Dad had a massive heart attack.  It was one of the scariest times of my life.  I did a lot of praying while we waited in the intensive care waiting room, waiting for them to stabilize him, waiting for them to save his life.  It was pretty touch and go.  I could not imagine a world that did not have my Dad in it.  My Dad, the man who silently stands on the sidelines, always present, always watching, but quiet.  The man who dotes on my children, the man the kids adore.

    To turn 70 is a blessing, well to me at least.  Christopher lost his father Don to ALS when Don was only 65 years old.  My Mother's father died of stomach cancer when I was 2 1/2, he was 65.  65 seems to be the number to pass.  I look at the void that has been left in Christopher's life since his father passed away.  I cannot imagine a world that does not include my father.  70 is a beautiful, beautiful number.


Friday, 18 January 2013

The Importance of Friends

     Elly is "our" baby, but I need to remember that she is not "a" baby.  That is a really tough one for me.  To me she is an infant, the reality is that she just turned 4.  I tend to baby her, because she is my last baby and I don't want her to grown up too fast (o.k. not at all).  This fact that she is indeed a "little" girl and not a baby became very tenderly clear to me today.

    As I am writing this my house is full of the giggles of little girls, it is a beautiful sound.  I honestly don't know if there is anything that lifts my heart more than little girl giggles.  Girls are social little creatures it seems almost as soon as they have any self awareness.  Giggling seems to just be part of being a girl, it seems almost like a form of communication.  
    The big kids all have friends over, and go to their friend's houses.  Poor little Elly is a little lost with no one.  But I've always thought that she was to little to have a friend over.  A few weeks ago we went over to toboggan at a friend of our's house.  This family has three children, the oldest just happening to be Gracie's best friend, then there's a little boy who is 9, and the youngest is just turning 3.  The kids all had a great time, especially Elly.  All Elly could talk about was her "friend" Isabella.  "When can I play with Isabella again" was the common mantra at our house. Finally this week I told her that she could take a day off school and invite Isabella over for a play date.  She was over the moon with excitement!  She was having a friend over, her very own friend over.  All week we counted down the sleeps until her visit with Isabella.
    Today was that big day!  All day they have played together all day.  Every few minutes they would have to stop for a hug break.  It was really neat to quietly listen to Elly.  She was playing the role of "friend", not little sister, not baby.  I smiled to hear her call Isabella "honey".  I heard her suggesting things that they could do, she was in charge, she was a host. Normally it's the big girls telling Elly what role she will be, what she needs to say, but this time it was Elly who was in charge. It was listening to her interactions that I realized that she is no longer a little baby, but on her way to being a big girl.  She learning the important art of friendship, an art that she will need to carry her through her life.
    As females friendship is almost as important as breathing.  Without friends you feel lost, like there is that illusive missing piece in your life.  I love my husband more than words can say, and I truly consider him to be my best friend....but.... I still need my girlfriends.  I need to complain about him.  I need to worry about my kids.  I need that girlfriend to pat me on the back, tell my my husband's being a jerk (even if it's really me who is the jerk), that my kid's are going to be alright, and later on I need that friend to plan a mission to go break the legs of that boy or girl who has broken one of my babies hearts.  The need to giggle with girlfriends does not vanish with maturity, if anything I feel like I might need it even more.
    Yesterday afternoon I sat and had coffee with my friend Jane.  Jane and I are really good friends, but we put our families first, we put ourselves last and we forget to make the time for each other (classic Mother mistake).  We sat together, enjoying a laugh, complaining, gossiping, enjoying each other.  As we were about to leave, Jane leaned forward "That's it!" she said emphatically, "We're making time for each other.  This was too long coming".  My response "agreed".   I left the coffee shop feeling lighter, more content.
    So here is what I have learned ... My baby is not really a baby, no matter how much I may want her to be.  I learned that forming friendships is important right from the beginning.  If you learn to make friends, you will have an easier life, a more beautiful life.  As I sat and enjoyed a coffee with Isabella's Mommy at the end of the play date,  I remembered what I already realized yesterday, friendships are important, even for grown ups. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Fireplace For The Basement - Being Prepared for a Power Outage

    We are now the proud owners of a brand new gas fireplace.  I feel like I can now exhale.  My basement is still under renovation, there is some framing up, but I have a gas fireplace.  To some this may seem like utter stupidity, but to me it is relief.  Are you shaking your head yet?

The basement after it was water-proofed
     I live in Canada.  I live in the snow belt in rural Ontario.  There are times when we have ice storms or heavy snow and it knocks out our hydro.  That means that we are without heat, lights, anything.. that scares me.  We have actually been extremely lucky because when our hydro has been knocked out by storms it has returned relatively quickly i.e. we did not receive frost bite!  I worry about this.  One of these days we will get caught with our pants down.
    I remember the ice storm of 1998.  Kingston, Ontario was hit really badly.  I remember driving the 401 a few weeks after it, and everything was still encased in what looked like glass.  The beautiful big trees that lined the busy super highway, dead, collapsed on the ground, felled by mother nature.  It was horrendous.  At the time my little old Aunt and Uncle lived in Kingston.  Uncle Jim had an old wood stove out in his garage, it kept him warm while he puttered about at his hobbies.  That wood stove was their saviour.  They moved out to their garage, because Kingston was without power for days.  That has really stuck with me.  That is why I desperately wanted a heat source that would keep us warm in the event of a power outage. 

    Back in October we had the basement waterproofed.  That was the first step.  It was a step I was extremely grateful for recently when all of the snow melted and there was so much rain.  Our sump pump did not stop pumping out water, and yet my basement was bone dry... that made me very happy.

    My Dad and Christopher have been working their butts off down there.  They adhered styrofoam insolation to the wall. Then they framed the walls, concentrating on the area that the fireplace would go.

    Yesterday they guys from Service Experts came.  They were really nice.  There was no swearing (which is something that I really appreciate because I had Riley home sick).  They worked down there, occasionally we heard them singing along to the radio, which I really enjoyed.  I was amazed how quick and completely painless the whole thing was.
    When they were all done, we had an absolutely stunning fireplace.  More than a fireplace I now have peace of mind.  I have a heat source that will run if we do not have hydro.  We would all just go down stairs, shut the doors and camp.  It feels nice to have that.
    When the kids got home from school, Riley and Rowan could not wait to go down to see the fireplace.  The two of them took down little chairs and their tablets and sat there in front of fireplace for hours.  They were upset when I called them up for dinner.  I have to admit I contemplated sneaking down with a book and a glass of wine after dinner.  Then I thought about the unfinished basement, and I decided against it.  I am now really excited, watching this once crowded with useless stuff place, slowly becoming livable space.  It's pretty exciting.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Oh No, I've Become "That" Mother

    This is not new information, I am a bubble wrap parent.  I am so afraid that my precious little angels might get hurt, that I don't let them explore the world, because of my fear.  Basically I have taught them that the world is a scary place and the best and safest place is in the safety of Mommy's arms.  I know I do it, and I am struggling against this.  I am trying to encourage the kids to push their boundaries (from the safety of a baby harness, just kidding, but I totally would if they'd let me).  In other words, I'm sending them mixed messages.
    My generation is that generation that thinks that the world should be a perfect place where children wear protective gear to walk down the street because what if they took a bad fall on the sidewalk?  My generation pushes for everyone to get metals at sports events because it's important that everyone feels like a winner.  We lavish praise on our children for things that really don't deserve praise "I really like the way you washed your hands after you went to the bathroom!  High Five!"
   When I was a young parent I was not a bubble wrap parent.  I encouraged Gabe to take risks.  In some ways I was too hard on him because I wanted him to be perfect to be the best.  I was tougher with him than I am with these guys, but I also appreciated what a gift he was.
    I remember sitting one day with Gabe at Red Lobster.  It was a pretty special day because back in those days I was a single mother and barely had two nickels to rub together.  He was sitting there like a little man, back all straight, feet nearly touching the floor.  He felt like a big boy.  I sat there completely enjoying him.  He and I sat chatting, enjoying the moment that we were in.  An older mother (sadly she was probably around the age that I am now) and her child were seated at the table beside us.  Her child was around Gabe's age, maybe a little younger.  Gabe was at most 4 at that time.  This woman sat there, oblivious to anyone else around her.  Her attention was firmly on her child, but everyone else was a captive audience, whether they liked it or not.  She sat talking to her child like a crazed children's entertainer.  "Do you want to use the bbbbb-l-ooooooooo crayon?  Oh how wonderful", as she gasped with excitement.  She sounded a little like Dora the Explorer on Meth.  She used a big booming voice as she rewarded her child for picking a crayon.  If I had a gun at that moment I don't know if I would have shot myself or her.  It was agony to listen to her, like nails on a chalk board.  Every single word was over pronounced in a listing sing song voice.  I could not enjoy my meal or my child because I so wanted to go over and shout "SHUT UP!  We get it, you're a GREAT MOM!  If I tell you you're the best Mom ever will you please use a normal voice?" to the mother beside us.  Thankfully they left before we did.  That moment has been tattooed onto my memory.  The memory is so embedded that I can almost smell the food.  
    Fast forward to a resent trip to Red Lobster.  I am no longer a single mother, and I am no longer the mother of an only child, oh and the worst part, I am no longer young.  I am sitting at the table highly complimenting Elly on her wonderful colouring (honestly not that great, but I didn't want to make her sad, I mean we were out to have fun).  I commented on how much I liked her "b-l-oooooooooo" fish.  I almost choked as that memory of that crazed idiot mother flashed into my head.... Oh no, I am that lunatic older mother!  I am that older mother that everyone around me wants to choke.  Oh cruel fate.

Monday, 14 January 2013

What is a School?


    What is a school?  A school is not merely cinderblocks, bricks and mortar.  A school is a place where memories are made (and scars both physical and mental).  It is a place where we learn autonomy (a place where we are constantly reminded by our teachers "I'm not your mother!").  At school we learned not only the three "R", but got a crash course on dealing with others.  It was a place where I discovered who I was and made some life long friends.
   The year before last my kids came home flushed with excitement.  "We're getting a new school." They announced.  There was some excitement and some trepidation "But I like our OLD School." I myself was over come with the news.  I too had mixed emotions.  Their schools have seen better days, they are old.  The idea of a new school on the surface was exciting, all shiny and new, but it was also sad.  My kids go to the same schools that I went to.
    I remember taking Gabe to Junior Kindergarden for the first time.  I opened the big black heavy door.  Everything looked almost exactly the same as when I was a child.  The blue stenciled Jack and Jill  1950ish painting on the white cinderblock wall had been replaced by a bright and happy picture of two bunnies enjoying a book together, but the school was pretty much the same.  I was instantly transported back to that school, to that time in my life.   The little library had the exact same carpet, the exact same little wooden rocking chairs.  It was a snap shot in time, with the exception of the new alien looking computers that were now set up along the back of the room.  When Gabe first started even some of the teachers that had been there when I attended were still there.  I took all of the kids to the school on the week before they started kindergarden, letting them look around the playground.  I took great pride in telling each of them "This is the school that Mommy went to when she was a little girl".
    The new school will be a kindergarden to grade eight school.  I was not very happy when I learned this.  My little people would be lost in the sea of the big kids.  Perhaps even more than that worry was gone would be that great feeling of accomplishment when you went from the "little" school to the "big" school.  It was a rite of passage.  It felt so good to look across at the "little" school with that smug feeling, knowing that you were now one of the big kids.
    I do not like change, I do not easily embrace change.  I know that a new school will be very exciting.  It will have the newest, brightest and best new things.  I have seen the plans for the new school and if the actual school is anything like the proposed drawings that I have seen, it will be beautiful!  My kids will be the first generation to step through those doors, that is exciting.  I know all of this, and yet I feel sad that my kids are the last generation to go to those same two little schools that I went to.  I know that change is inevitable, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The One Person Pup

    I'm sure that you are tired by now of hearing stories about our new pup (who is not really a pup anymore) Fergus.  The truth of it is that we are all still very much enamored with that little black and white pup who burst into our hearts. Even Christopher who loudly declared that ours was going to be "A pet free home" (the poor delusional fool) is in love with Fergus, even though he tries to pretend that he merely tolerates him.  He is the most poorly mannered, most adorable little brat of a dog.
    The kid's all adore Fergus.  They use him as a pillow or a footstool.  Yesterday Christopher caught Elly trying to ride Fergus like a horse.  When he told her not to she indignantly told him "but Fergus is my horsey, I NEED to ride him!"  He becomes their child when they are playing house.  The girls like to hold him down and dress him in clothes.  He is the family pet who is most loved.  He is MY dog, or perhaps more aptly, I am HIS person.
    Fergus is a Boston Terrier / Beagle mix.  We adopted him from the Quinte Humane Society.  He and I bonded at first sight, literally.  When I held him in that loud sterile little room, I cried.  Yes, I cry if the wind blows sideways, I am an emotional wreck when it comes to my kids.  I have never, ever had a reaction like that to an animal.  I am not really an animal person.  I like animals enough that I have always had one, and that I would never ever hurt one, but I am not an animal person.  I stood there holding that little dog, his paws on either side of my head like a baby, and I knew that HE was MY dog.   The whole car ride home he sat poker still, just staring up at me with such gratitude.  I did not know that then, but he imprinted on me.
    From the very second that we brought Fergus home he would follow me everywhere.  He was my little black and white shadow.  He likes to play with the kids, but only if I am within his sight line.  I have never had a dog like that.  Our other dog, Maggie was the most wonderful dog you could ever hope for, but she would have gone off with strangers happily, and did (the dog catcher would just bring Maggie back home whenever she wandered off).  Maggie loved everyone.  She would happily sleep with each of the kids at the end of their beds.  At night she would wander the halls, and go into each of the kid's rooms to check on them before she would settle in for the night.  Maggie was a family dog.  Fergus is My dog.
    It is actually a pretty novel experience for me to be someone's favourite.  At my house Daddy is the favourite.  It's nice to feel that kind of love, even if it's just from a little dog.  When I make the rounds to tuck the kids in and kiss them goodnight I have my little shadow with me.  He then follows me back downstairs when I go.  The kids have desperately tried to get Fergus to sleep with them.  They have given him treats as a bribery attempt, but as soon as I leave, no matter how good the treat, he follows.  It makes me feel a little bad for the kids.  Don't get me wrong Fergus loves to play with them.  He lets them turn him inside out.  He is beautiful with them, but he is my dog.
     It turns out with a little internet research Boston Terrier's pick one person.  They are amazing with children, they love lots of people, but they have one person.  I guess that I am just his person.  I feel badly for the kids that he is not a family dog, but that is just his nature.