Let's Talk Politics

As many of you know, my main area of interest is US politics and foreign policy, so this post will be a bit of a stretch for me, but I think it's important to post on the upcoming Provincial election and referendum.

Oh yeah.... did you know we have an election fast approaching in Ontario? Do you care? I ask because most people I come into contact with don't give a flying fig about politics, and ignore anything to do with it. All I can say to those people is, PLEASE: vote. It's so important. We as Canadians need to be less complacent and stop letting the politicians make decisions for us. Stand up and let your voice be heard. Voter turn out is astonishingly awful, and I'd like to see that turn around.

This election really has me thinking, and I am torn on who to vote for. Are any of them worthy candidates, and would I really like to see one of the four primary contenders run our province? Honestly, I don't know, because I really don't know much about them or what they stand for, aside from their "traditional" policy ideologies based on their political affiliation. I have received no literature from any candidate - local or provincial - and have only seen half of the televised leader debate.

*snort* If you watched it, you'll know that there wasn't much debating of issues going on, just debate on Dalton McSquinty's track record and lack of progress in the last four years. *yawn* I didn't want to hear what Dalton didn't do rehashed over and over again. I wanted to hear more about the issues, and what each party planned to do about those issues.

Which leads me to a small rant. WHY is the Green Party not included in the debates? Time constraints they say. Then make MORE time. I personally think it's fear. Fear that the Greens will saying something that actually makes sense (rather than the mudslinging attacks the major 3 throw at each other), and people will be swayed to vote for them. Perhaps? Who knows.

I like the Green platform for the most part, and I think my leaning is more in their direction. However, I'm having trouble in this election committing myself to voting for them or any other party. With only 8% "popularity" in the polls (which I don't put too much stock in to begin with), it is pretty certain they will not win. I fear that "throwing" my vote to them just leaves that much more of a window for Dalton McSquinty and the Liberals to retain power, and after the term we've had with him of broken promises, increased taxes and "promises" set for the distant future - no thanks. Let's see if someone else can get the job done. It's doubtful, but why give him a second shot? He blew it the first time.

I've become jaded and cynical towards all Ontario politicians it seems. Since Bob Rae (who I liked as a person, but not his policies), Ontario has seemed to have a dark cloud over her head that no leader can seem to shake. We need action in this province. We need more doctors, less wait times for important medical tests, and more money injected into the education system. And let's not ignore the environment. We need to take action on these issues, NOW. Not in 2011.

So who to vote for? Or maybe you non-voters have it right. Screw it. Whatever I do isn't going to matter one way or another, is it? No party will win the majority of votes in the province, and promises won't be kept because they never are. So why bother?

We have to "bother". Our votes can send a message. Yes, the Green party may only have 8% in the polls, but if your gut says "Go Green", then vote for them! Send a message to the other parties saying that the Greens ARE a viable party, that they DO have a sound platform, and that we - as Ontarians/Canadians - would like to hear more of that platform and ideology at election time.

Do your homework, watch the news, read the papers - educate yourself! The WWW has a plethora of information on the election, with great debates to be found with a quick Google search. Don't be apathetic though, please. We have this right - this duty! - to vote. Take advantage of it. It's one of the only *true* freedoms we really do have in this democracy. Use it.

That's my PSA for the day. Vote! And if you don't plan on voting, please drop me a note and let me know why. I'd love to hear reasons for people not voting. Maybe I can do something to change your mind.... ;o)

Peace (and vote!)


The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
~ September, John Updike
I have a love/hate relationship with autumn. I love the warm, post summer air that is not too hot and not yet cold. I love the smell of the leaves as they begin to change colour and fall to the ground. I love the smells of fresh baked apple and pumpkin pies, and hot "fall" dinners like roasts, stews and chili. Mmm!
But I hate the mornings that get gradually colder and leave frost on our cars and sidewalks, and the impending threat of - gasp! - snow and winter. *shudder* The fall implores me to stay outside as much as I can before returning once again to hibernation mode. Because I do not "do" winter.
To kick off the first day of fall this year, we had a little "welcome fall" party. We drove out to the apple orchard and picked some yummy Mac's and Empire apples, and sifted through the pumpkin patch for that perfect pie pumpkin (although I think our pumpkin will make about a dozen pies!). We came home and feasted on a yummy roast chicken dinner with stuffing and all the fixings, and my first apple pie of the season.
Alice says I make "the best pies!" and I should sell them in a store. Hmm, she might be on to something. Anyone like to place an order....?
Happy fall!

"Class Reunion", 2007

“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up.” ~ "The Wonder Years"

"The gang" - Class of 1992

I posted last week how I was feeling a little anxious about attending the "quasi" high school reunion a group of us had put together through Facebook. Umm, I am going to blame that episode on PMS and leave it at that, because sometimes I can be a real dumb ass!

I can't believe I almost didn't go! I had a really good time and it was nice to see so many familiar faces. Faces from what seem like an eternity ago, but at the same time, it felt like no time had passed at all. I hadn't seen many of them since high school, but conversation still came easily. Perhaps even more easily than it did for me before.

I started off the evening with one of my most dear high school friends and his wife. We sat and listened to music, drank (water), and had one of the best laughs I have had in a long time. Our cheeks hurt by the end of it. They were kind enough to act as my chauffeur's for the evening, and most awesome companions. The kid free/not driving thing could have proven to be a wicked combination, but I was good. I learned the lesson of 'consequences' well...

We headed on our way and 'unintentionally' made a detour to a friend's home where it appeared a slew of our former classmates were having a little pre-party. It was a mini reunion in itself, and I suddenly felt like an 18 year old at a house party again. I talked to so many friends that I had wondered about over the years, and we laughed recalling so many great memories.

The bar wasn't too crowded when we arrived from the house party, but quickly filled up a few minutes later. There was a sea of old, familiar faces crowding into one section, so I just kind of sat back and took it all in for a while. I love to people watch, and, well I was hungry.... and nobody else was eating the food! I can't see it go to waste. *wink* It was great to watch others interact and chat with each other though, and be able to chat with friends who came to say hello in a more quiet area where a few of us sat.

A few drinks, munchies, lots of gabs, nice heart to hearts and a whole lotta laughs later, we crawled home. I was relieved to find Jack sound asleep in the play pen (Hallelujah! He's never slept well anywhere but home in his crib), and was even more happy that he let me sleep until 7 am. Thank you, Jack man! I can cope with 6 hours of sleep.... There's a reason I haven't drank in a very long time. I only had 3-4 drinks, but man I was tired this morning.

There's talk of doing it again next year. I'd be game for that. There's a reason that we all agreed to doing this reunion. I think we wanted to see each other again, and really, genuinely like each other as a whole. We were a great bunch of kids in high school - we truly were. I think any of our parents would say it. We had a good time, stayed out of trouble (for the most part!), kept our grades up, went on to college and university for various things and we've all come out successful in our own, unique ways. I didn't feel any judgement in the room. No cattiness, no animosity... It's funny, I think when we left high school, we really did "leave" high school. We really have grown up.

It's amazing what you can learn about yourself and from yourself in just a few days, isn't it?


“There's a big world out there. Bigger than prom, bigger than high school, and it won't matter if you were the prom queen or the quarterback of the football team or the biggest nerd. Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.”

A Day at the Fair

The fair is here! The fair is here! It kicked off last Friday and runs until this coming Sunday. We took the kids on Saturday, and a great time was had by all. But I must say - what a cash grab fairs are! We spent $90 on 2 adult entry fees, 40 ride tickets, lunch and special treats (we can't leave the fair without fudge and caramel apples!). Worth it I suppose, because we did enjoy ourselves, but ouch!

Alice enjoyed the rides and animals as always. We took in a "Birds of Prey" show and much to the kids' delight, the red tailed hawk landed right on daddy's head! Of course he had the camera so I couldn't take a picture of it! Jack's eyes were like organ stops though, and Alice was thrilled to be so close to the hawk.

But what she was really taken with was the reticulated python that "Little Ray's Reptile Zoo" was displaying.

She was absolutely fascinated by the 22 foot snake, petting it and checking out every inch of it's scaly skin. At one point she got a little too close to the python's head for our liking (and Ray's!), and we quickly removed her before she became lunch. It is amazing how little fear she has of snakes and creepy crawlies, considering I can't stand the things and let out whoops of displeasure should an earwig cross my path! I'm surprised I haven't scared her off from some of the critters she plays with in the garden.

From the yard we can still hear the sounds of the fair. People screaming and laughing on the rides, buzzers and bells being set off on games, and music from the evening concerts blow our way with the wind. It would be great to go back once more this year, but sadly our schedule (and pocket books!) won't allow it. Oh well. It will be back next year! :o)

Okay, so I'm slightly neurotic!

It's a fact I can't hide. I am slightly neurotic when it comes to social situations. For some reason that surprises people when I tell them. Yes, I'm outgoing and friendly. I meet people easily and make friends quickly. However, I always have this underlying fear or dread of being judged.

"What are they thinking about me?"

"Why did she just look at my shoes?"

Often, none of my fears are valid. I over analyze the situations I am in and become slightly paranoid. Combine this with PMS, which is what has happened this week, and you get what you see below - an insecure mess! lol

But it's all good. After pep talks from the two Lisa's in my life I'm feeling better and will be attending the gathering on Saturday with confidence and a smile on my face. This is going to be fun because I am going to make it fun!

I'm good enough,
I'm smart enough,
and, doggonit,
people like me!
~Stuart Smalley


Speaking of school....

This weekend my graduating class from high school is holding a small, informal get together. Reunion-ish I guess. It's starting with a gathering in the park with our kidlets in the afternoon, and followed by a night of drinking and dancing at a local watering hole.

I was all gung ho for it at first, and even had a hand in getting it started. But as the day gets closer.... I dunno. I'm starting to think I don't want to go. I know a few of my old high school friends read this blog, so please don't be offended by this post.

High school wasn't the most pleasant experience for me. In grade 9 I was accused of being a devil worshipper - I was the early "goth" - so in grade 10 I tried to reinvent myself. My attire went from kind of black and gloomy to mainly Polo and Lacost. Such a follower I became. Bahhhhh!

But I felt like it still didn't work. I wasn't unpopular, but I never felt really well liked either. Just kind of "there". The person people hung out with when there was nobody else around to hang out with, know what I mean? If your friends ditched you, go find Jo. She would entertain you. I wasn't invited to do fun things like weekend camping trips, I didn't go to a lot of house parties, and I didn't have a best friend forever who I walked through the halls with arm in arm or passed notes to in class. I was the unmemorable one I guess. Another cog in the wheel.

I have visions of attending this gathering this weekend and having the same feelings of loneliness I had in high school flood back over me. I don't want to stand off to the side like a wallflower while everyone shares their stories of good times that I wasn't involved in. I don't want to have to grin and feel false, because at least feeling false I would feel something. There are only a handful of people outside of the ones I keep regular contact with that I would really like to see, and of course my insecurity makes me ask, "But do they want to see me?"

I'm torn. I've bounced it back and forth in my head for the last 2 days. I'm told it will be "fun", and I'm sure it will be for most. But it's not when you are the insignificant one. When you are the one feeling left out and lonely. Do I want to put myself through that torture....again? I'm thinking not.


Decisions, decisions. I think I am making this a lot harder than it is, as I am apt to do...

Back to school....

Back To School
Back To School
To Prove To Dad That I'm Not A Fool
I've Got My Luch Packed Up
My Boots Tied Tight
I Hope I Don't Get In A Fight
Back To School
Back To School
Back To School"
~Adam Sandler, "Back to School", Billy Madison

Well, my wee girl, not even 5, returned to the land of learning this week. What a big leap this is for her, and I'm very proud that she's handling it so well.

Alice has moved on to senior kindergarten at a french immersion school, leaving the friends she made in junior kindergarten and the old school behind. She rode the bus for the first time on Monday and was thrilled about it. She leapt onto the bus without so much as a kiss goodbye, excited to find her seat. I, of course, followed behind in the car and got a little choked when the radio station played Fergie's, "Big Girls Don't Cry". (lol!)
Yeah, well mommies do!

I watched her semi-nervously get off the bus and follow the bigger kids to the yard. She walked up the side gates and was starting to follow the young girl who was leading her, but was quickly guided back to the wall where she was to line up. I stood by the tree and watched as she looked around at the other kids and smiled. I had pangs of guilt for not standing there with her, as I saw 5 or 6 other moms doing, but I knew I needed to let Alice do this herself. I had to let "The Bee" fly by herself finally. And it was hard, but we both did it.

She came home from school the first day with a big smile on her face and was eager to tell me the things they did in the day. A big difference from her first (and every day!) of junior kindergarten. I was slightly worried that her JK experience was going to hinder her going in to the french immersion program, but after her first day, I think I was very wrong. She is going to learn and grow so much more than she did last year, and I can't wait to watch it. And that's not to say that her experience at the old school was entirely a bad one, I just think it could (or should) have been much better.

To celebrate her first day and make it that much more exciting for her, I baked a cake while she was at school. Now, it was more glorious and well put together in my imagination, but heck - it didn't turn out too badly if I do say so myself! She was thrilled with it and said, "Aww, mommy... that was so nice of you to bake me a cake! Thank you! You're a good mommy." My heart melted. I'm no Martha, but I am a "... good mommy." Yay!

She is there for day 2 today, and while I miss her, I'm incredibly excited for her. The teacher sent home a list of the vocabulary they will be learning this month, and I don't think it will be hard for her at all. I have already taught her things like, "Bonjour", "je m'appelle", "mes amis", so this will be a walk in the park!

And she is showing she is eager to learn the language already. While cooking dinner Monday night, Alice said "What are we having, mommy?"
I said, "Your favourite... spagetti!"
"Yay!" she said. "Hey mom, do you know how they say spagetti in french? Spagetto!"

À bientôt!

Slaves to the yellow jackets


So we've had a little problem with yellow jackets this summer. Oye, have we had a problem. The little buggers were entering our enclosed front porch through a hole in the brick mortar, and appear to have built a nest in the wall between the porch and the house. Or maybe in the attic. *ick*
My husband attempted to evict them from our premises by filling the hole they were going in and out of with expanding foam. The hope was that the colony remaining inside would be trapped and die off from a lack of food. However, despite our best efforts, the colony lives on and the inside of our porch is filled with 30+ yellow jackets every day, from morning to dusk. We have strays who are somehow getting in the house, and I swear I kill 10-20 of them in the living room daily.
Now, I have to tell you, this is a huge feat for me. I've never been one to kill insects - spiders, flies and bees alike. Ask Alice, I shoo them out the door or try to practice "catch and release" as often as possible. For the first few days of the "hunt", she would ask me "Do you feel bad, mommy?" In the beginning I did, but after a few weeks I was done showing sympathy to the little invaders. Chorus' of "No remorse! No mercy!" and "Die! Die! Die!!" can now be heard filling the room as I whack them with a Sears catalogue (it's that hard exoskeleton!), along with peels of laughter from Alice and Jack as I dodge and flail at a stray wasp, buzzing around my head.
We've suffered no stings yet, thankfully. It's due to my supreme whacking skills, I'm sure. I'm just hoping they die off soon and we can open the door to our front porch again. I'm tired of being a "slave" to them.
And did you know that yellow jackets poop? Oh man, you should see the mess those pests have left in there for me to clean up. Yeah, you're welcome for the hospitality, jerks.

No fear...

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

I saw a psychic in June who gave me some sage advice. "Jo-Anne", she said, "use your fear as a spur. Stop letting it hinder you, and let it drive you forward." This advice came on the heels of the question, "Are you a teacher?"

"No..." I replied.

"Why NOT??", she questioned.

Fear, I told her. The fear of not getting accepted to Teacher's College, and wasting my time (and money!) on the application. "STOP!" she told me. Stop being afraid of the unknown and jump in with both feet. My fear, she feels, comes more from my fear of success than my fear of failure. If I'm successful, then what? I don't know about that. If I am accepted I know 'what'. I will be a teacher, and a damn good one at that! It's just getting past that first hurdle that has me terrified.

Well, I've decided (or am in the process of deciding) to put that fear aside. No more dangling my toes over the edge and contemplating going in the pool, I'm jumping in with both feet!


I've always wanted to be a teacher, but didn't think it was possible after I switched my major in University from French and Spanish to Political Science. Over the last few years I have learned, however, that I can teach primary grades (JK-6) with my degree, which is exactly what I would like to do. A little more research recently has shown me that my grades - which I was concerned about - are not really an issue.

The teacher's college here in London requires a 70% average in your 10 best courses. A few calculations yesterday helped me determine that I am sitting at a 75.3% in my 10 best courses. Better than I thought!

So I am no longer afraid to apply - whatever happens, happens. Que sera, sera, right? I'm wondering now though if I should apply for next fall or the fall of 2009. My reason being: competition. I thought I could get away with a "mature student status", seeing as I have been out of school for 10 years. However, there is no such "perk" that is considered. We are all looked at equally based on those top 10 course grades. I wonder if waiting an extra year and getting some volunteer experience at a school in would up my chances of acceptance.

Decisions, decisions. It shouldn't be this hard, and sadly I think I'm making it harder than it needs to be. It's that stupid "fear" again. I will conquer it, and I will emerge victorious!!!!

I hope...


Ahhh, the great outdoors!

But the place which you have selected for your camp, though never so rough and grim, begins at once to have its attractions, and becomes a very centre of civilization to you: "Home is home, be it never so homely." ~Henry David Thoreau

What a lovely way to end an otherwise sombre week - camping! On Friday, my husband and I packed up the kids and drove out to a little campground right here at the tip of the city called Fanshawe Lake. Since it was Jack's first experience sleeping in the great outdoors, we decided to stay close to home - just in case. I am pleased to say that he was fantastic, actually slept in the tent and had a great time.
But I will tell you, camping sure has changed a lot from when I was a kid. We had seasonal sites that we practically lived at for the summer months, and while we stayed in a trailer and not in tents, we essentially "roughed it" while we were there. No tv's, phones or central air. We didn't sit around for very long, and were never complaining of being bored. There were always kids around to play with, the pool to swim in, trails to discover and wee creatures to be caught.
It was an entirely different story where we were. Every person that passed, young and old, had a cell phone stuck to their ear, and at least 60% of the seasonal campers had air conditioning running in their trailers. There they sat in their cosy, cool campers watching CNN.
........ CNN???
You read that right. Through trailer windows I was able to watch CNN, Much Music and the Golf Channel this weekend. I was shocked at the shear number of Bell ExpressVu dishes I saw around the park, and how many people were sitting in their trailers watching the TV from morning through to night.
You're camping people! Shouldn't you be building bonfires, roasting marshmallows and weenies and hiking through the woods? Astonishing...
Anyway, we had a fantastic time and learned some great lessons. First and foremost, "Don't leave garbage in your dining tent!" Skunks can and will get in to find it. Oye. We had 3 little visitors on our first night due to my lack of sense in not removing our garbage. Thankfully the wee beastie didn't make off with more than a bag of grapes, hot dog buns, and didn't spray!!!

Another funny lesson I learned: When you hear the women from the campsite next to you talking about you and your children in the washrooms, walking out of a stall and seeing the surprised expressions on their faces is absolutely priceless. Thank goodness they weren't talking nastily about us - just lightly complaining about Mr. Jack's 6 am wake up "call" (which was more like a banshee scream!).
Each woman had their opinions on how they would have handled an 18 month old child letting out a solitary primal scream at 6 in the morning, from taking him into the car and telling him "no", or to doing just what I did - telling him gently, "Jack... shhhh... come lay down with mommy...". One woman commended me when I appeared from my bathroom stall, stifling my own giggles at their surprised (and somewhat embarrassed) looks.

"You're a good mom!" she said. I blushed and thanked her, and asked what I did to deserve such kudos. She explained to me that she liked the way I handled the kids, didn't yell at them "like the mother across the road" from us at the campground, and how happy they appeared to be. I appreciated the compliment, and winked at the lady who said she would have handled things differently. (I wonder if she would have preferred I had muzzled Jack.)

We'd like to try and get back for one more camping session there this summer. It was truly enjoyable, and it didn't feel at all like we were still in the city. It's amazing what beauty you can find in your own 'backyard', and how it can transport you a million miles away from everything. How restful and calming. Sometimes I think I would love to live that way...

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track. ~John Muir

They called him "Mr. Goodwill"

The picture inserted is called "The Paycheck" by Norman Rockwell. The cheque in his hand reads "Goodwill". This is one of my all time favourite Rockwell images (for obvious reasons), and it now adorns my wall. Thanks, Dad.

This is a story that was published in the Sarnia Observer on Thursday, August 9th. I was very touched by the words the reporter wrote, and astonished to see such a beautiful article written about my dad's passing. I had to share it.

JACK POIRIER Thursday, August 09, 2007 - 16:00 Local News -

He was known as Mr. Goodwill. John Gifford, a 69-year-old Scotland native, devoted the better part of his working career to serving Goodwill Industries Essex-Kent-Lambton and the people it assists.

Following a lengthy battle with cancer, Gifford died last week at the Bluewater Health palliative care unit. His humble, yet fierce work ethic, served as an inspiration, says Goodwill executive director Kevin Smith.

"He was a man who was passionate about everything in his life," he said. "His legacy will live on."

Gifford served with the agency for 19 years, retiring in 1995. He was Goodwill's first executive director and was the architect of Goodwill's work experience program.

Gifford recently told an Observer reporter that the program helped prepare countless people for successful careers.

"Everything he did, he did with enthusiasm," Smith said.

He said Gifford worked hard to convince local employers to give Goodwill clients an opportunity. His work sowed the seeds for what is now a successful program that provides employment opportunities for people with barriers to employment.

Gifford also expanded the retail operation, moving from a small store on Victoria Street to a larger site on Christina Street.

Yet, he always credited his dedicated staff and committed board of directors for the agency's success.

He was recognized last year with an award named in his honour, the Gifford Goodwill Award, which recognizes local companies for hiring individuals with special needs.

"When he wanted to get something done, he made it happen," Smith said of Gifford. "He was a fighter."

His courageous battle with cancer surpassed doctors' expectations by more than three years.

Gifford also worked as an educator with Alexander Mackenzie high school. His community activism was well regarded, having assisted with the Highland Games and serving as a committee member with the Canadian Cancer Society.

Gifford also worked at State Farm Insurance and was a member of Elks Lodge, Masonic Liberty Lodge 419.

"John's passing is a loss to the community," said Smith. "We're going to miss his laughter and his passion for life."

Rest In Peace, Dad

It is with much sorrow that I announce the passing of my father, John Gifford. With the sorrow comes relief, however. For four years he battled the lung cancer that controlled his body, and now the battle is over. It is his time to rest.

Thank you for your messages of condolences and your friendship. It is appreciated and will be remembered always.

John Douglas Gifford, April 25, 1938-August 2, 2007

Surrounded by his loved ones, after a long, courageous battle with cancer, John Douglas Gifford of Sarnia passed away at Bluewater Health Palliative Care, Sarnia on Thursday, August 2, 2007, at the age of 69.

John came to Canada in 1956 at the age of 18. He loved Canada so his family followed. He lived in Brantford prior to coming to Sarnia in 1971. John worked at Alexander Mackenzie Highschool, assisted in the Highland Games, worked at State Farm Insurance, was a member of the Elks Lodge, Masonic Liberty Lodge 419, was the Executive Director of Goodwill for 19 years and was a co-owner of Mr. G’s Coffee Shop with his wife. After retirement he worked as a Shuttle Driver for Bailey Toyota where he found a new family. He was also a committee member with the Canadian Cancer Society for 5 years.

Beloved husband of the late Barbara (Edwards) Gifford (1997) and partner of the late Velma Heath (2003).Dearly loved companion of Marielle Parsons.Loved father of Rob Gifford and his wife Ellen, Kim and her husband Richard Jackson, Ian Gifford and his partner Carol, and Jo-Anne and her husband Brad Bishop.Dear grandfather of Kevin and his partner Sarah, Kirstin, Jensen, Haley, Jarrett, Alice and Jack.Loving brother of Shirley MacDonald. Predeceased by his parents Mary and Robert Gifford. Also survived by several nieces and nephews and many close friends.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at St. Paul’s United Church, 360 Devine St., Sarnia on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 12:30 pm. A time of fellowship with the family will be held following the service.Family and friends will be received at St. Paul’s United Church on Tuesday from 11:00 am until 12:30 pm. A Masonic service will be held at St. Paul's United Church at 10:30 am prior to visitation on Tuesday.Sympathy may be expressed through donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or the charity of your choice.Memories and condolences may be sent online at www.smithfunerahome.ca Arrangements entrusted to SMITH FUNERAL HOME, 1576 London Line, Sarnia, Ontario (519) 542-5541.

Gone from this earth, but never forgotten and always in our hearts.




To my faithful readers (all 6 of you! lol) my apologies! I have been very absent from my blog since Alice finished school. But I have a good excuse! We've been busy! And I have the pictures to prove it. I live for the summer, and we practically live outdoors for the 4 glorious, sun filled months that we get. Since July 1st I would estimate that we have ridden our bikes over 200 kms, visited every park in the city, hiked many a trail and swam so much we are growing gills!
There's so much I could write about, and so many posts in my head that I've been dying to write, but unfortunately they will have to wait. We're off on yet another adventure tomorrow. A weekend in Toronto (staying at the lovely Chateau R. Gifford), beginning with a stop at Canada's Wonderland tomorrow, Centre Island on Sunday and maybe Kensington Market on Sunday before returning home. Stories will certainly follow!

For now I'm going to let the pictures tell the story of our last month. Enjoy and see you on the flip side!

Canada Day, 2007 - Brad and Jack on the bike, and Alice in the trailer, and me trailing along behind. We rode to the other side of the city on some wonderful bike trails, stopped at a couple of parks along the way, ending at Springbank park for a picnic. We definitely burned the KFC off on the way home.

Alice and her daddy went fishing on his holidays. Alice baited her own hooks and was hillarious with the worms. "You're a cute little worm right now, but in a minute you're FISH FOOD!". Her and daddy each caught a couple of little perch. She wanted to bring them home and, ".... clean them up and eat 'em for dinner!". Daddy tossed them back though.

We were given a quick set pool by a friend this summer (thanks Lisa!) and Alice has become quite the little fish. It doesn't matter what the temperature is outside, she wants in the pool. I told her today, "The water is cold, buddy. You won't like it." Alice declared, "It's never too cold for Alice!". So, we opened the cover, cleaned it out and she hopped in. She was out in 5 minutes. Apparently 72 f is too cold for Alice... Jack makes a wonderful pool boy, but isn't fond of any temperature less than 82 f.

Alice and I went strawberry picking. The berries were small, but sooooo ripe and sweet. We came home and made 15 jars of strawberry jam. I still have more berries left, so will make another batch when we get home.

That's all for now, folks! Check back soon!!!

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick...

... Jack jumped over his crib rail... Ick!

Oh boy. It's upon us, and I'm not ready.

This morning I heard a little "thump" and looked around to see what it was. The cat was lying on the floor by me, so I deduced that it wasn't all 30 lbs of him jumping down from something. Alice was still sawing logs in her bed, and I didn't hear any tears so assumed it wasn't a child falling out of bed. And I was partially right. Nobody fell out of their bed. He JUMPED!

*rattle, rattle, rattle* went the doorknob on Jack's bedroom door. I opened it and saw my little man standing there on the other side with a huge smile on his face. He pointed to the crib and exclaimed, "Aye-ya!" (his usual word for, well, just about anything!).

"You little monkey!", I thought to myself.

As I see it we have two options: 1) Change his name to Harry (as in Houdini, because with his short legs, I'm not sure how my little escape artist got out of his crib to begin with!), or 2) take down the crib and set up the "big boy bed". I'm voting for the former right now, as I'm so not ready to put him in a bed yet.

Putting him in a bed means that he's turning into more of a boy and less of 'my baby'. And it means no rest for mommy! Alice took to her bed like a pro and once she was in there, she wanted to stay in there for the night (yeah, that's changed now at 4.5, but it was great for the first few years!). Jack, however, will be out of that bed and socializing at every possible opportunity.


He's just 17 months. I'm not ready for this! Perhaps we'll give it a little time and see if this turns into a regular occurrence. I think I already know my answer to that one though. Jack is the type of boy that once he has figured something out, he will master it and won't stop until he does. This is going to be the first of many escape attempts, and for his own safety I know what we are going to have to do.

Jack, you're growing up too fast, my boy! Slow down. Mommy wants to hold on to your babyness for just a little longer...

Sweet, smart girl...

I think kids have a natural sixth sense. I know Alice does, and I pray she never loses it. For her, her sixth sense seems to guide her compassion. She knows and understands things that many children her age don't.

We haven't talked to her very much about my dad and his condition. At four years old, we assumed she wouldn't understand or grasp the concept of sickness and death. It turns out that she grasps it more than we realized.

Last Saturday night when I was putting Alice to bed, she decided she wanted to have a little heart to heart talk about Grandpa.

"Mommy, is Grandpa dying?" she asked.

Me, a little taken aback replied, "Yes, honey... he is...".

"Is he going to die soon?", she probed.

"I'm not sure honey. Grandpa is very sick, and it's possible that he could die at any time. Or, we might be lucky enough to have him around for a while. We just don't know.", I explained.

"And you'll be sad, right mommy?".

"Yes, honey. I'll be sad."

She thought for a moment and said, "Do you love your daddy, mommy?". "Yes, honey. Very much so." I said. "I love him too. And I won't be shy of him anymore, because I may not see him for much longer." she proclaimed.

My eyes welled up with tears at this point, and my throat began to tighten. How smart she had become in the blink of an eye. I was amazed at her understanding of the situation. The next day she did exactly what she said she was going to do the night before. Instead of shying away when she saw Grandpa, she picked a flower for him, took it to him and gave him a big hug and kiss. "I love you Grandpa." she said. I saw my dad's eyes swell with tears as he looked at me, then leaned over to hug Alice and said, "I love you too sweetheart."

I have a feeling Alice is going to be a great source of strength for me when "the time comes". She already is now. I am amazed by her compassionate and understanding heart, and how quickly she is growing up. I don't know what I did in my life to deserve her, but it must have been something really good. :o)

Bittersweet Father's Day

Dad, August 2006

This is how my dad looked not even a year ago. To look at him in this photo, you wouldn't guess he was battling lung cancer, and losing the battle at that.

The dad I saw this past weekend is a shadow of this man, physically. I could hardly believe I was looking at the same person. Even in just a few short weeks since I last saw him, he has deteriorated considerably.

For four years we have been told that dad "has 6 months to live". For 4 years dad has defied that prognosis. With nothing to lose, he tried every treatment they could offer him in an attempt to prolong his life. Sadly, nothing worked and his cancer continues to grow at an alarming rate. I think I took it for granted each time 6 months passed and dad was still with us. He seemed invincible.

I was in denial.

That was obvious to me for the first time on Father's Day. Reality hit me like a tonne of bricks this weekend. And my heart has been breaking since. So this is what they warned me about. This is what they meant when they said I would 'know' the end was near. It's been sneaking up on me, and I was doing very well ignoring the reality of it all. But now I know I can't ignore it any longer. My dad is dying. I think he knows the end is coming too. Last week I called him and he seemed to be in unusually good spirits. I asked him what he was up to and he said, "Just working on my will.", with a 'song' in his voice.

Our Father's Day visit with him was bittersweet. Throughout the day I felt grateful that I had this one more special day with him. However, all the while I was realizing that this was going to be my last Father's Day to celebrate with my dad. I refused to dwell on that fact and made the best of our visit, but it was hard. Dad was "off", not totally with it and at times unresponsive to conversation. A morphine induced haze, I'm guessing. I just can't imagine...

This has been the longest four years of my life. When my mum died, we were blindsided. One day here, the next day gone. The pain we felt at her loss was incredible, but it was not sustained like the pain of losing my dad is. It's never easy to lose someone you love, but I am starting to think it is "easier" to lose someone suddenly than to watch them slowly and painfully die.

More than hurting for myself and my impending loss, I am hurting for my dad. To watch him suffer like this - I can't put in to words how horrible it feels. I know he is hanging on only for us, when really what he would like to do is lay down and let his body have it's eternal sleep. And I can't help but wish that for him right now.

I feel so helpless.

Dad, Father's Day 2007

I won!!!

"Oh, this is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm comin' to join ya, honey!" ~ Fred Sandford's 'heart attack response' in the television show "Sandford and Son".

That was my reaction on Wednesday evening as the Lotto 6/49 numbers were announced one by one.










oh my goodness! check!

"And fourty-eight. Bonus, 18"


My ticket held 4 out of 6 of the numbers, the kicker being a 49 instead of 48 - one number off $100,000! That's the biggest win I've had on any lottery ticket purchase. Thursday morning I excitedly checked the OLG site to see what fortune I had won!


Meh, it's not the millions but it's better than a kick in the pants!

Let's see your Lotto 6/49 happy dance!

Michael Moore's "Sicko" makes London, Ontario debut

The one and only Michael Moore brought his movie "Sicko" to London last week for a special advanced screening. London is featured fairly predominantly in the movie, which is why he chose here to kick off a few special premiers he is doing, the next being in Michigan this Saturday, June 16th. The movie opens to wide release on June 29th.
A friend and I ventured out to catch the "red carpet" ceremony, which hinted at the possibility of stars arriving to catch an early glimpse of the film. However, the carpet was short - literally - and adorned only by four public figures: the Mayor of London, Anne Marie De Cicco-Best, the Mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley who was featured in Moore's film "Bowling for Columbine", actress Shirley Douglas, daughter of Tommy Douglas aka: the father of public medicare in Canada, and mum to Kiefer Sutherland, and last but not least the big guy himself, Michael Moore.
While it was nice to be able to catch a glimpse of Mr. Moore, it would have been nicer to have had the opportunity to see the film. A handful of tickets were given out through the newspaper and a local radio station, and that was it. The rest were by invite only. From out view point outside, they didn't appear to have a full house for the screening (more people went in for birthday parties than they did to see "Sicko"), so I wonder why the film distributors and 'Mike' didn't hand out any tickets to the fans who came to cheer him on. Yes, I was a little disappointed.
I was happy to be able to say I saw Mr. Moore in the flesh, who I admire for his film making and educated and informed opinions. But a peek at the movie would have been that much nicer. I look forward to seeing it when it is released, and seeing the picture he paints of the Canadian Health Care system. While we do have a great system, and I am extremely thankful for it, I wonder if Mr. Moore makes it out to be more "wine and roses" than it really is. It definitely has it's problems - a shortage of Doctors to crisis proportions to name just one - but overall we are blessed in Canada to have the universal coverage that we enjoy.
What I would like to see 'Mike' bring to the forefront in the United States next is the lack of interest in children and families on the part of the US Government. Particular focus should be made on the lack of time new parents are able to spend with their babies after they are born. Most women take only 6-12 weeks after birth - hardly time to heal from the process! - as they cannot afford, or are not allowed, to take anymore. Despicable. Another reason I am proud to be a Canadian. My country values my family, and realizes that the first year of a child's life is crucial.
I feel that we are overtaxed in Canada, and those taxes are greatly misused by our Government (another post for another time), however I realize that compared to the United States we have the greenest grass on the block. Read here to see just how "good" we really do have it. So yup. I'll suck it up and drag myself into the Urgent Care centre or walk-in clinic when I am ill, and I'll quit sniveling about not having a family doctor, although that would be nice. I'm just thankful that I can see a doctor and not worry that I have to sell a limb to do so.
Be proud, and be thankful.

Lock down at the school!

What an interesting day we had today!

My husband called at 2:30 and asked if I could go get Alice, as he would be getting off work a little later and wouldn't make it in time. At 3:00 I woke Jack and we headed off to the school. The sky was looking quite stormy and the wind was starting to pick up. As we drove by the park around the corner, a tree branch began to snap and jutted out over the road. The wind changed and took it the other way, bringing the falling branch to a landing on the sidewalk. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

As we continued on our way, the sky became greenish looking and the rain started to fall. I ran into the school with Jack in my arms and told the teacher that the weather was looking a little eery, so to be careful driving home. Suddenly, the principal came over the loud speaker saying the school was on immediate lock down. Nobody was to exit the school as a tornado had been sighted in the immediate area, and until the all clear was given we were to sit in the halls in the "tornado position" - back to the wall, knees up and heads on our knees.

Several groups of children joined us within minutes in the hallway outside of Alice's classroom. Many of them were terrified and in tears. Alice was a trooper and not really frightened at all. Jack was enthralled by all the kids who were paying attention to him. Nobody assumed the "tornado position" but instead chatted and socialized with their friends, and 30 minutes later we were finally released to go.

Brad said the drive home from work was a little dodgy, and he watched as the wind twisted a tree right at it's trunk and pulled it roots and all from the ground. He put his foot on the gas and prayed he wasn't next to take flight.

I'm not sure if a tornado touched down in the area or not, but I wouldn't be surprised. Quite an interesting day! I've never experienced anything like that before, but definitely felt more comfortable being in the hall at school with no windows and strong walls then I would have at home.

The adventurer in me still wants to catch a picture of a twister one of these days though. Preferably with a very long zoom lens.

Mr. Popularity!

For those who don't know me, one of my passions is politics. Particularly, American politics and it's influence on Canadian policies and international relations. One subject I am very passionate about - and arguably sometimes too passionate - is George "Dubya" Bush.

*insert grimacing face here*

It still floors me that he is the President of the United States. You have to laugh sometimes at the things he says and think, "Really??" How did this man get into office? And what is he still doing in office?
One word. Corruption.

If this were any other job for which he was employed, he would have been out the door long ago. I can't believe he was hired in the first place. (And honestly, I really don't believe he was hired.) He took office on petty technicalities and dimpled frigging chads. 'nuff said. But why, after all the lies he has told to draw Americans into a corrupt war based on misleading information, and with only a 27% approval rating - the lowest in US history! - has this man not been impeached?

The facts are there. They are in black and white! Clinton was impeached for less. Here, have a look at the reasons for impeachment for both, and tell me which truly deserves it.

George W. Bush and his merry band of men has led the American people into a war based on falsifications and misinformation. The war is not about terrorists and protecting the United States from the so called "evil doers". It's about the almighty dollar - oil, foreign interests, power, domination. Adventurism in it's purist form. The war machine is big business, and is often used to hide recessions and depressions in the economy. War temporarily relieves unemployment, creates opportunities for new technologies to evolve, and boosts productivity in many manufacturing areas. Yeah, the boost to the economy almost sounds good, doesn't it? Except for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians who must give their lives for the war machine...

Nearly half of the annual budget is spent on "defense", and this figure will only rise. Recently Bush vetoed a war spending bill that included a withdrawl time for troops serving in Iraq. Today he was pleased to sign this $120 billion bill with the conditions for withdrawl removed. And hold on to your hats, folks. He predicts a particularly bloody August in Iraq. Are you surprised? What with all the money he's got now for toys and troops, he's gonna spend the wad! And I bet he'll spend a little on himself, ride a missile on in there clad in fire and bullet proof clothing, and take out some of those Iraqi bastards! Yeeeehaw!

Ahem. Sorry... I'm getting off track here. I tend to do that when it comes to G Dub. You need to slap me back into shape once in a while. The point is, Bush needs to go. And he needs to go NOW. Why just wait out the next year? To me it feels like a bad marriage that one partner is staying in just because they don't know how to get out.

America: You CAN get out of this marriage! There is help out there for you! Stop being the victim of your President and his homies. Impeach Bush, now!

If only I was an American, I would sign that petition. I would rise up on Capitol Hill and let my voice be heard! I'd throw eggs at him! Okay, maybe not... I saw what the security was like when Nelson Mandela visited Washington, DC. Snipers on rooftops, a 'secret agent' on a bike dressed like a civilian but talking into his wrist. Yeah, I'll save the eggs. But, ooooh I'd want to!

I'd hope for a miracle, but I'm going to guess this world must tolerate one more year of Dub. My heart is heavy, but my hands are tied.

All in all, I thank the heavens I'm Canadian!

By Jove, I think he's talking!

I think my wee Jack is finally starting to give us some words. Of course, as soon as I say he's not talking he makes a liar out of me. (Good boy, Jack!)

Yesterday at the school we were walking with a friend that Jack adores. As I was buckling him into the car seat I said to Jack, "Say, bye Theresa!". Jack lifted his little hand in a wave and said, "eye-e-ha". The two of us looked at each other shocked and let out a cheer in the parking lot!

Today I was giving him a box of raisins for snack. He was reaching for them very excitedly, and as I handed them to him I said, "Mmm, raisins!". He took the box and - I swear I'm not grasping at straws! - said "ai-ins".

It sounds like he is dropping the first consonant, but that is fine with me. I'll take anything to "uh!" at this point. Anything! At least we know what to look for now and can maybe start deciphering more of his "Thai".

Oh, and we can add to the list: hi, hi-ya and hey!

Houston, we have a talker!

I know you're out there...

Yeah, I see you. Stopping in to read my blog but not saying hi. Sheesh! Say hi! Give me feedback, don't be shy!

And if you'd like me to read your blog, please give me your link and I will add it to my list.

I'd love to hear from you!

Pay it ... back?

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." Aesop

The other week I went through the Tim Horton's drive thru and noticed that a dad from my daughter's school was in the car behind me. I wanted to add a nice element of surprise to his day, so I paid for his coffee. I enjoy doing that every once in a while at Tim's. It's fun to drive away and look back to see the surprise on the person's face who has just been told their coffee was covered today. It makes me feel kinda "squishy" inside. A small act, yes, but random and 'fun'.

The next day at the school, the dad thanked me and asked how I took my Tim's. I said, "Oh me, I'm a double double girl!". We smiled and went our separate ways. A few days later he was in front of me at Tim Horton's. I saw him smile into the mirror and wave.

I ordered my 2 large, "double doubles" and drove up to the window to pay. The girl started to hand me an extra large coffee and I said, "I ordered 2 large....". She said, "Well the guy in front of you bought this for you." No problem. I said, "Okay, then just give me one large with that then." She looked at me like I had suddenly grown a third eye and unfortunately for her, she didn't understand the alien language I was speaking. She became discombobulated and poured the extra large coffee in the sink, handed me 2 large and said, "$2.78" with a grimace. I ended up paying for my 2 large coffees, and leaving the extra large that the dad from school had so kindly paid for behind.

I felt terrible. Sadly, his return act of kindness backfired. He should have paid it forward and not back I guess. But it was a nice gesture on his part that brought a smile to my face. I hope he will do it for someone else one day totally randomly, remembering how good it felt when he was the recipient. Pay it forward, folks! Change the world with one random act of kindness at a time.

"To give without any reward, or any notice, has a special quality of its own." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Jack can talk Thai....

... Jack talked Thai real well." ~ Greg Focker, Meet the Parents.

Save for one or two words, Jack ( 16 months) doesn't speak yet. In some ways it troubles me. I mean, what parent wants their child to be 'behind' other kids their age? And I do hear a lot of 16 month olds with already budding vocabularies. At the same time I know he will talk, but not until he's good and ready. For now he goes off in long babbling rants, expressing himself through facial expressions and hand gestures.

Today he was pointing to a bottle of water on the table and proclaimed, "Da ma-en gu ba wa!"

I asked him, "You want some water, Jack?" and handed him the water bottle. He drank happily and walked away. Alice said very matter of factly, "Mommy... Jack can't talk. How do you know that's what he wanted?"

Remembering a line from the movie Meet the Parents I turned to Alice and said, "Ooh, Jack talks Alice. Jack can talk Thai. Jack can talk Thai real well." and giggled.

She looked at me long and hard with a bit of a blank stare. She has no clue what exactly I said or where it came from, but is now walking around saying, "Jack can talk Thai. Jack can talk Thai real well." I'm just waiting for the moment when we are out in public and she proclaims that to a stranger.

I love the endless entertainment of motherhood!

A two beaked bird?!

This blog post would be so much more interesting if I had a photo to accompany it, but alas this rascally little bird will not let me get a picture of him. So bare with me while I try to describe it as best as possible.

While enjoying the back yard a couple of weeks ago, I noticed this strange looking little Starling who kept coming to visit the neighbour's bird feeder. He always appeared to have his beak open like he was gawking at something, or waiting for food to drop in it. I laughed at him and watched as he pranced around the lawn looking for seeds and worms.

On one of his visits he stopped in our yard. It was then that I noticed his beak wasn't open ... he has 2 beaks! Or rather, one and a half. He has a full, normal beak on top and another bottom section of a beak below it. The upper beak is fully functioning, but the lower portion doesn't move at all. He does just fine foraging for food, but the other birds don't appear to like him too much. I've seen him dive bombed by his 'mates', and he always flies solo between the yards.

He's such an odd little guy, but he's chunky and healthy looking so I assume he is doing just fine. One of these days I will get a picture of him to add to the blog. I will stalk him like the paparazzi until I get that photo! Think the National Enquirer would be interested in this one....? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Dear Butterfly...

A message from an anonymous reader:

Dear Butterfly,

How come you haven't posted any funny stories about your
son? Is there some favouritism going on there?

Dear Anonymous Reader,

No, no favouritism here. Jack, at not even a year and a half old, is too young to really 'do' anything comical just yet. His personality is just starting to flourish. So far he is a very quiet, mellow little chap who smiles and giggles alot - our happy Buddha! Seeing as he doesn't have any words other than "Alice" (said "Ayis") and "Sanjaya" (A-ya-ya!), he's not giving us much to post about...yet.

What is that? Why does he say "Sanjaya", you ask? Good question!

(Nice lead in huh? lol)

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were watching the finale of American Idol on time shifting. Jack decided he wanted to have a little late night party and joined us. Ryan Seacrest came out to announce Sanjaya's performance and something about the way he said "Ladies and Gentlemen, here is Sanjaya" made Jack laugh hysterically. We liked the giggles it incited from him so we have started saying it in a gruff, low tone. "San-jay-a!" Jack thinks it's great and will repeat in the same tone, "A-ya-ya!!"

Sadly, that's the only tale I have to share for now. I hope this helps to satisfy your curiosity. Keep on reading!


To the moon, Alice!

A short collection of some recent Alice funnies.

Alice decided recently that she wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. "I'm going to fly to the MOON!" she declared.

"Cool!" I said, "And what will you do when you get to the moon?"

"I'm going to bring home some Martians to be my friends." she replied.

"Hmm, don't Martians come from Mars though, Alice?" I asked.

Alice makes a dramatic pause, a sharp turn to face me, rolls her eyes and says, "Whatever, mommy... whatever."



Alice and Jack were taking a bath together one day. Alice looked at him and said, "Poor Jack...".

"Why is he 'poor Jack'?" I asked.

She pointed to his groin and said, "Because he has a penis!".

"So?" I questioned.

"So..", she said, "... if you have a penis, it means you're a boy, and that's too bad. Girls get things like toys and money because we have ja-jinas! It's better to be a girl!"

I didn't know whether to bust a gut laughing, or be scared.


"Cows don't pee you know mommy...", Alice said one day. "Yes they do." I replied.

"No, they just spray milk out of their little antennaes here", she said matter of factly, pointing to a cow's udders.

"Those aren't antennae Alice. Those are called 'udders'.", I explained.

"Yes, mommy. They are 'udder antennaes' because they are udder the cow."



Alice: "Mommy... remember when Jack was still in your tummy?"

Me: "Yup."

Alice: "And I was here."

Me: "Yup. That's right. You were already born."

Alice stares at me for a minute.

Alice: "Mommy, I want to go back in your tummy."

Me: "Why?"

Alice: "Because I want to see all the food in there! That would be so cool!"

Hey, that one could have been worse. Phew.

Dear Poland...

Please tell me you are not serious? http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/entertainment_poland

Polish authorities probing if Teletubbies are gay

WARSAW (AFP) - Poland's child rights ombudsman said on Monday she was investigating whether "The Teletubbies," the British television show for infants, promotes homosexuality.

"It would be good for a group of psychologists to talk to children about this. We need to examine this. If inappropriate attitudes have been promoted, we need to react," said Ewa Sowinska.

Pssttt... I have a newsflash and possibly shocking revelation for the "Polish authorities" doing this investigation. The Teletubbies are not real. They are characters from a children's show!

*gasp, shock, horror*

And do they even have a gender? They walk around completely naked, but have no genitals of any sort showing. So how can we determine if they are male, female, gay or straight? And honestly, does it matter? Until I start hearing subliminal messages coming from the TV screen like, "You're a boy on the outside, but a girl inside! Tell the world! Be FREE! Cross over to the 'other' side little boy... Come play with us!", then I'm not going to worry too much.

Homosexuality is real, and it's here to stay. Banning Teletubbies isn't going to make Joe and Steve go back into the closet. Children need to be taught about homosexuality, and taught to accept it as a part of a normal, healthy society. We are in the year 2007 folks. If you're not comfortable with it yet, too bad. Time to get comfy because no matter what you do, it's not something that is just going to 'go away'.

I have two words in closing for the ombudsman who started this nonsense. To Ms. Sowinska: grow up.

In My Life....

"There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all..."
~The Beatles

That song runs through my head nearly every day lately, thanks to Facebook. Come on, I know you've heard about it. You probably have your own account just like me, and get a thrill to see an add request from a long lost friend. You giggle at the silly messages and memories people leave on your wall, and share your likes, dislikes, links and little snippets into your life for all your 'friends' to see. You have people on your list who you poke relentlessly, those you poke occasionally and others you don't poke at all. Yup, that's Facebook.

You look up old friends and send them messages. Some with a little trepidation, others freely and excitedly. Some to whom you send a message will reply, others won't reply at all. And although you may feel slightly snubbed, it's okay. You remind yourself, "This isn't high school anymore. People change, and I'm okay with that."

I have had my share of random pokes and messages that have made me go, "Hmm..." and wonder why they poked or messaged me. Others have sent shivers down my spine. Those are the ones from those people you lose contact with, one way or another, and always wonder about but never seem to cross paths with. Then suddenly, you see their name on your Facebook homepage, and they have poked you! Hooray!

It's fun! Admit it. If you're not "hooked" on Facebook already, you will be. And if you're lucky enough not to have an addictive personality causing you to check your Facebook at least once a day, well then my hat is off to you! I love to make my daily check in and see what has occurred since I last peeked. I love browsing my friend's pages, looking at their photographs and reading their notes. It's nice to be able to reconnect with some, and stay connected with others.

By the same token, Facebook makes me kind of 'sad'. For me it's felt a bit like an episode of, "This Is Your Life!". While it's been great to connect with so many "lost" friends, you wonder what will happen when the fad is over. Right now we are just familiar faces and names who type words on a screen with promises to get together, keep in touch more, and "hang out one of these days". We hope that these promises will come true, but will they? Everyone seems so busy in their lives that they talk a lot about it, but don't act often enough. And eventually the Facebook fad will pass, we will move on once again and perhaps reconnect another 10 years down the road.

Regardless of what happens to this "fad" called Facebook, I will always recall this small moment in time, where I reconnected with long lost friends, fondly. It's another chapter in my life. Another moment in time to remember people, places and things from the past. A time to examine who I was, who I am and who I hope to be.

"But of all these friends and lovers there is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more."

Compassion: A Dying Art

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." ~ Dalai Lama

I saw the most disturbing thing at the park last week. A little boy, about 3 years old, was running on the cement surrounding the playground and fell. Hard. He toppled forward on to his knees, and scraped his nose and chin as his face hit the ground. My 'mother's instinct' caused me to run to him. I picked him up off the ground, asked him if he was okay and gently checked his scraped knees and face. He, naturally, called out for his mommy.

His mother sat on the bench looking angrily at him and said, "I have no sympathy for you. I've told you a million times before not to run, so it's your own fault." She did not move to assist him, and when he ran over to her crying she pushed him aside and said, "You're fine. No, don't come to me. I've told you before not to run. I have no sympathy for you. Go on."

My heart broke for him as he sat there crying and hurt. I tightened my jaw so as not to give the mother a piece of my mind, and gave the little boy a sympathetic glance. I wanted so badly to run to him and hug him, but in today's age you just can't do that... Internally I yelled at the mother, "Where is your compassion?!?!"

Where has compassion gone?

The mother was angry because she had "told him a million times" it would happen. She failed to realize however that this little man only has 3 years of life experience compared to her 30. We can tell them these things will happen, but little minds don't quite get it until it does. And when it does happen, it's fine I suppose to say "... I told you so...", but temper it with compassion.

Where was the harm in that mother putting aside her anger to console her injured son and say, "It's okay... I know it hurts. That's what I was trying to tell you when I told you not to run." The lesson of falling is hard enough on a child, but to not receive the comfort and compassion he needs from his mother ... That is truly heart breaking.

Compassion seems to have almost completely disappeared from our society today. Take for example the newspapers and tabloid media who run stories of stars who have fallen from grace in one way or another. They yelled at their child, drove drunk or cut off all their hair, to give a few recent examples. The backlash these stars receive from the public can be so cutting and cruel.

"I have no sympathy for them. They knew what they were getting into when they chose stardom!" Or, "What a pathetic loser. She brought this all on herself." While there may be truth in the fact that they "knew what they were getting into", why not have just a little sympathy or empathy for them? After all, they are human and humans are fallible.

People seem to forget that regardless of who they 'are', what choices they have made and will make in the future, first and foremost these people are human beings. They live, breath and bleed the same colour blood that we all do. They are deserving of our compassion if for no other reason than that. Open your heart, put yourself in their shoes for one moment and ask yourself: wouldn't you hope if you were in the same situation, that people would accept you for who you are? A person with faults?

(It's a fact! We are not perfect! I hope that statement doesn't shock anyone. If it does, it's time to do a little more soul searching!)

It shocks me how many people would (and will) continue to stick their noses in the air and scoff at the idea. "Compassion?? Bah, humbug! Not me." They will hold firm that in no way does a person who "brings something on them self" - whether it be a Hollywood star or child who falls on the playground - deserve their compassion. And therein, I believe, lies the root problem in our society today. It's a case of every man for himself. Survival of the fittest! Eat or be eaten. "...and I'm not going to feel a thing for you when you become some one's lunch." It's sad, and frightening.

We need to change it. You need to change it. The next time you see somebody pan handling for money, don't walk by and say, "What a bum... get lost". Show some compassion. Drop a dollar in their hat.

The next time someone does something that results in them getting injured, don't just say, "It's your own fault!". Show some compassion. Ask them if they are okay.

The next time a big story runs in the news about a star who has made a "mistake" don't say, "He brought it on himself!". You've got it ... show some compassion. Don't judge them too harshly just because of "who they are". Understand that despite fame, 'stars' are no different than you or I.

It all comes down to realizing that despite our differing beliefs, physical exteriors and life experiences, we are all human beings. And one thing that humans cannot survive without is compassion.

Compassion, you've got it in you to give!


"All human beings come from a mother's womb. We are all the same part of one human family. We should have a clear realization of the oneness of all humanity." ~ Dalai Lama

The Pwotest

(Originally posted Janaury 2007 - A favourite story!)

Just before Christmas Alice asked if she could make a sign. No problem. I'm all for creativity! I got her some paper and a pen and she started scribbling away.

I asked her, "What are you writing there, Alice?" She said, "It's a pwotest!"

"Oh," I said, "... what are you protesting?"

"You don't have any chocolate milk!" she exclaimed.

With that, she taped the sign she had made to the back of an empty wrapping paper tube and started marching around the room chanting, "We want chocolate milk! We want chocolate milk!"

It's not a cause that is going to change the world, but hey, you've gotta start somewhere right?

Only my kid...

Why we have children

Originally posted Sunday, January 7, 2007

I swear many of us - especially those of us who are babies of the family - just have children to inflict the torment on them that was inflicted on us in our childhood. Alice sets herself up for it constantly. I love it. I can't help it! Hey, it's a good life lesson.

Anyway, today...

We were driving in the car and she started in on "poop" talk again. Something she's learned from a little girl at school (who is the sweetest little thing) who says, "Poop on a stick!" when she's mad.

I told Alice, "Hey, I'm not big on the 'poop' talk. Can we cut it out?" Alice giggled and continued with, "Poopy pants. Poopy cat. Poopy dog..." Well, you know the old saying. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

I said, "Hey Alice. Do you like POOPeroni on your pizza?"

"Eww, no. I only like pepperoni!"

"Hey, Alice... do you want to have a POOPsicle when we get home?"

"Eww, no! I only like popsicles!"

"What about POOPsi? Do you want a sip of my soda POOP?", I asked. To which she replied, "Okay mommy. Enough of the poop talk now."

I haven't heard the word poop since. Agitate or be agitated, that's my new motto!