Archive | April, 2012

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27 Apr

A week ago Thursday, David and I were having a lovely dinner with his childhood friend of over forty years, David Rose, his wife, Suzanne, both of their mother’s, along with our boys.

Then last night, David and I weren’t speaking to each other.  It was a combination of him acting like an ass, me acting like a child and both being too stubborn to give in.

Boy, what a difference a week makes.

The week before that my David had turned 44 and like every other birthday, David waited anxiously for Emily Rose (his friend, David Rose’s mother) to arrive with a plate of his favourite squares, Summer Time Squares.  And every year I say, “David, this might be the year that you don’t get those squares. You’re not 12 you know.” And he says, “No, she’ll be here. I’ll get my squares”.  And this year, like every other year, Emily arrived with the squares and invited us to dinner to celebrate her David’s forty-fourth birthday. 

Are you keeping up?

Anyway, these squares, they’re crazy good. I can only explain them as a mud pie but a square and in Mahone Bay they’re an institution. I’ve joked before that there was a little something extra in the squares, that’s how much he loves them.  I’ve suggested he ask for the recipe because, the Google, which is suppose to know everything, has never heard of Summertime Squares.  But he’s never asked for it because, not being a mother in Mahone Bay in the seventies, I’m clearly not qualified to make them.

Anyway, the dinner was awesome, we had steaks, baked potatoes, cake, Summertime Squares and made plans to do it again soon.

Then the week went by and we became stupid.

His peace offering?  A Tim Hortons coffee, which should have been enough.  But when you’re a child and your friend offers you your favorite candy as an apology, you don’t accept it because…well… you’re a child, and since I wouldn’t want to act like only half a child, I didn’t drink it, which made him more of an ass.

It was like we were reenacting the movie The Break-Up, where our marriage was spiraling out of control and neither of us remembered why.

Then tonight, as my peace offering, I made him Summertime Squares.

It turns out that anyone can make them even if you weren’t a mother in Mahone Bay in the 70’s and you can easily get the recipe with a simple phone call to one such mother.

I sheepishly handed him the squares to take to the shop.  They didn’t look or taste exactly like the Summertime Squares that David enjoys every birthday from Emily, but I hoped they’d do.

His responded with his big smile, and said, “It’s your first time, you’ll get better at it,” which is just as good as saying, “I’m sorry too.”

Recipe for Summer Time Squares

You’re welcome Google!

½ cup of butter

½ cup of milk

3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa

2 cups of sugar

Put this in a pot and whisk while bringing it to a hard boil for 1 minute.  Emily warned me that it had to be one minute.  Too much, it’s too think, too little they’re too runny.  I didn’t appreciate what she meant until I tried it and didn’t boil them quite enough.  They were a little too soft.  Consider that this is the only cooking required in this recipe.

Add ½ cup peanut butter and 1 tsp vanilla.

Add this mixture to 3 cups of instant oats, mix and then to a greased 9×9-baking dish and even it out.  Allow them to set in the fridge.  Once completely cooled cut them in 2-inch squares.  They should make 16 squares.

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And along came Tara

21 Apr

Those of you who know my Colin or who have read this blog and figured it out, my Colin is extraordinary.  His personality is so enormous, his talents are so huge, his smile so electric, it’s sometimes so easy to forget that he struggles in school.

I’m writing this with his permission, and I’m writing it because if you have a child who struggles, I know how heartbreaking it is.  I know how you second guess how you parent.  I know how hard it is.

I don’t blame Colin’s struggles on our school system.  I’m a big fan of our public school system.  I really love their school.  We’ve been luck; my boys have always had really terrific teachers.   But our school system is a conformist society.  If you fit in the box, you’re ok.  Evan is ok. He loves everything about school. He thrives.  Colin’s talents, while pretty great, aren’t an “outcome” so sadly, they’re not valued as much as those that are.

Take for example, Colin’s cooking ability.  He loves to cook. He’s a terrific cook.  He takes great pride in perfectly frying an egg. He might struggle in math, but when he needs a cup and a half of flour for pancakes, he’ll get me a cup and half of flour.

Colin has this unbelievable ability to say the right thing.  Not many 8 years olds have it.  When I’m serving dinner he’ll look at me and say, “You da best cooker mom,” or “thanks for dis good dinnah.”  And after Dad died and I was driving and trying so hard to hide my emotions that often got the best of me, I would catch a glimpse of my Colin looking at me wipe my tears in the rear-view mirror, his hands shaped into a heart, or he’d say, “I know mamma, you miss your dad.”  I mean, how many 8 year olds do that?  Do we give that any value?  Why isn’t that an outcome?

And my Colin, while he may struggle with handwriting and his organization skills, if only we looked past the letters and focused on the drawing.  Colin hasn’t drawn a stick-person in his life.  He’s always drawn three-dimensional and they’re quite amazing.

His creativity, well, it blows my mind, and I’m pretty creative.  Even his old mini stick, he turned it into a Thunder stick for this spring hockey league in just a few minutes, by taking the logo from their site and adding colours.  He even added his name and number.  He did this all on his own, without any direction from me, because, well, I really detest mini-sticks.

It’s innate for me. When confronted with a problem, I find a solution.  This problem can’t be fixed with a consequence.  It needs a solution.

The solution came in the form of a gal named Tara.

Tara called the paper one day to talk to me about advertising.  See, at the paper, my job is to help businesses thrive.  She needed a little advice.  I gave it to her.  But I usually tailor my advice to the specific business.  I asked he what she did.  She told me that she was with Halifax Learning.  They were opening up in Bridgewater.

Did you hear that?  Yeah, that was the earth exploding.  

Shortly after that, she assessed Colin, and shortly after that, she was teaching him. We already see improvements.  We already see his confidence growing.  His handwriting is improving.

Hand-writing before:

Hand-writing after:

And so, my a-ah moment came in the realization that the outcomes at school and the outcomes in our home are different, and that is completely ok.  For his character, his creativity, and his enormous heart, Colin get’s all A’s.

Another must see video!

12 Apr

In case you don’t remember some of Evan’s entreprenureal endeavors, here’s a recap:

Remember when he was, like 7 and he had a blog?

Then, when he was about 8, remember when he grabbed a guitar and busked on the main street of Mahone Bay?  He alternated between playing the opening chords of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold and Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.  Appearantly, when you’re 8, that’s all it takes to make $14 in 2 hours.

Then remember he and his buddies started a band?  They were going to do gigs? Make T-shirts?

Then, a few years ago, he sold candy canes with his brother, making $72 for the food bank? Remember that?

Well, now he has set up a little store in the closet of the kids game room in the basement, where he’s selling his old sticks and hockey equipment.  It’s actually adorable.

This kid reminds me a bit of Evan. You HAVE to watch this video.  I love this kid.  I love his dad.  But I really really love his only customer.

Still a good boy

5 Apr

This is a picture of my little boy, my first born, one of the two reasons for my existence.  I remember when he was born and I thought he was it.  He was perfect in every way and wouldn’t ever do anything wrong.

Then again, he is human.

And so am I.

Evan is a really techy kid.  It’s one of the things that I love about him.  It’s also one of the things that cause me anxiety.  So since he’s gotten an e-mail account several years ago, I keep up on it.  I look and see what he e-mails and who.  Usually it’s pretty harness stuff; e-mails from a guitar chord service he belongs too, notices from Facebook, things like that.  I saw that on occasion he e-mails his soccer coach, even a teacher on occasion,  sometimes invites buddies over, you know, regular 10 year old kid stuff.

Then, yesterday, I was having a peek, the first time since before February, and I saw that he e-mailed two obscure e-mail addresses that I didn’t recognize.  Intrigued, I opened it.

To my utter shock and dismay, I found a photo of a bikini clad girl sent to his two friends.  It was clear.  There was no mistaking it.

TO: them.

FROM: Evan.

Me: furious.

Listen, I know, these things are going to happen.  I know that with technology comes things like this.  I know that we should harbor some of the blame.  I’m not altruistic, but here’s the thing: I envisioned these boys mothers opening up this e-mail and getting the false impression that Evan is this hormone crazed slug!  I was mortified!

I sent him a text. It went like this:

“I need you to explain to me why you send an inappropriate picture of a girl to your friends.  Make it good Evan. Every form of technology you currently enjoy is on the line.”

When he didn’t respond I sent this:

“I’m waiting”

His response to me:

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

My response to him:

“That’s the thing about E-mail Evan, it’s there…in black and white.  It doesn’t lie.  I’ll show you when we get home.  Until then , enjoy the computer while you’re able to use it.  Oh, and that phone is gone.”

On the drive home I was planning his punishment, but in the back of my mind all I could think about was the reaction from the parents of the boys who received the e-mail.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I decided that part of his punishment was to call their parents and apologize.

I got home and was relatively calm which was exactly the opposite of how I was feeling.  Instead, I calmly opened the e-mails and showed him, watching closely for the expression on his face.  He genuinely looked shocked and then a light bulb  went off.

“Mom, we watched a movie together and that girl was in it, so we used my phone and googled her and they sent the image to their own e-mails. This picture of her on the beach was in the movie.  It wasn’t a bad movie, mom.”

Likely story.

“Evan, try again.”

“Mom. Do you honestly think that I would remember those weird e-mail addresses?  I’ve never e-mailed them before, you can see that in my history . Plus, if you look at the date it was sent, I was with them at the time it was sent.”

A quick check on the calendar suggested he was right.

We all learned something from this: He learned that I will be fierce when it comes to inappropriate use of a privilege like technology.  He learned that whatever gets sent from his e-mail can get traced back to him.  And I told him that the parents still might think it came from him.  He said, “no mom, no one else’s mom checks their e-mails.  You’re so strick.!”

Oh how I detest those three words.

And I learned that even when you believe with every morsel of your being that you are right, you might actually be wrong.

And then, I added that to my book.