Life in progress


Guest Post – Shaking Up Christmas

Well, I’m making one last post before departing the inner circle of this lovely blog of which I have been so honored to be a part.

For my exit post, I would like to share something related to the season.  My sole motivation and purpose for sharing this is not so that you will look at my family and say, “Oh, wow, look what they are doing!” but only so that you might be inspired to consider shaking up Christmas.  (Also, this post is not meant to leave out other holidays related to this time of year.  Our family’s holiday for this season is Christmas, so that is naturally how this project was born.  It doesn’t mean the same idea can’t apply to other same-seasonal holidays.)

The first two children we adopted came to us from a bio relative home.  Another story for another day – on my own blog – but part of the problem in this home was a lack of boundaries, and one of the ways this was evident was in the fact that the children were literally showered with gifts at every possible opportunity.  This meant that Christmas equated to an entire Toyota Highlander filled to the brim with toys.  AskmehowIknow.  That first Christmas, which was somewhat transitional, was something of a nightmare.  I hauled no fewer than eight garbage bags of stuff up to Mini-Me’s bedroom, and spent an entire day sorting through it, keeping only the most appropriate gifts.  I ended up donating about two-thirds of it to charity.

The children never noticed.

For the following two Christmases, I made it a priority not to ask my children what they wanted; rather I watched and listened and made Christmas present purchases based on what I knew my children to be interested in.  I made it a goal to purchase few but meaningful gifts, and I met each “This is what I want for Christmas” with a “What is Christmas really about?”

But by year four I knew I wasn’t getting through.

This post isn’t about religion, but I will tell you that part of our family’s definition of the true meaning of Christmas stems from our belief that it is the celebration of the birth of Christ.  But we believe that because He is our reason to celebrate, we need to be Him to the world.  Therefore, we believe that Christmas ought to be about giving to others and doing for others, and that it should definitely not be about “me-me-me” and greed and self-centeredness and consumerism.

So after trying unsuccessfully for three years to get our children to change their focus, we realized we needed to change their focus – we needed to shake up Christmas.

We got rid of Christmas presents – at least, the Christmas presents for ourselves/our family.

We traded our own presents in for Christmas presents for others.


The first thing I knew I wanted us to do was something for children in the hospital; we decided on books.  So every year since beginning our project, we have taken books to our local hospital’s children’s ward.  The second thing I knew I wanted to do was to help other whole families.  The first two years, we found ways to be matched with individual families who were in need.  This year, in place of an individual family, we have decided to take a delivery to a local homeless shelter.  It won’t be as “fancy,” but it will hopefully benefit many families.


Now, to be completely transparent – and before you call me a complete monster – we now do “New Gifts for a New Year” with our children – but we have cut them down significantly to “something to wear, something to read, something they want, something they need.”

(And if they had continued with the “me-me-me-for-New-Year” attitude, I would have completely done away with gifts except at birthdays.)

But let me tell you, this seems to have done it.  For the third year in a row, I have not heard a single “me” as related to Christmas – or New Year’s.  They all get in on the planning and the shopping and the putting-together of gifts for others, and I can tell that their hearts are happy.  They couldn’t wait to go do our shopping for the shelter, and they reminded me today that, “Mama, we haven’t finished our book shopping for the children at the hospital yet!”

I absolutely LOVE the way we’ve shaken up Christmas.  The whole day is now about the time we spend together as a family, rather than material gifts – we make our deliveries, the kids pitching in and watching the joyous faces and experiencing the joy of giving; and then we enjoy a quiet Christmas dinner at home while watching classic Christmas movies and just being together.

Maybe for some, our story is drastic.  I actually know very few who can fathom the idea of giving up Christmas morning presents.  That’s okay!  I share our story of shaking up Christmas not because I expect every other family to do what we’ve done, but because I hope to inspire others to find one way to do one thing for others at this time of year, in the true spirit of Christmas.

Thank you again to Linda for the opportunity to guest post here in her absence.  I had a truly marvelous time, and any dents and dings you may find – well, I have to be completely honest – they came from Pav.  😉


Thank you!

equalIn just over half a year I have as many views as I had for all of 2013!

As you can see, the A-Z Challenge in April was the best thing to happen to my blog to date. I’m not sure where I was in September. There’s certainly something to be said for posting every day as I did have, with a few exceptions here and there, since half-way through October. I took one day off in June and my views suffered for it.

All this to say thank you so much for all the views! I feel loved. 🙂


EDDD 31 – 2013, It Was Good To Know Ye

2013 has been a year like no other for me. It’s been a year of beginnings, and a year of finalities. From friendships to my figure, from anonymity to zealous writing, I’ve seen it all.

I’ve stayed in a house where I was haunted by my own characters, I’ve grown – not only by the twenty or so pounds I gained since Hallowe’en – but as a writer. I’ve finished two novels and have two blogs of my own, as well as having been included in two of the best sites on WordPress – The Community Storyboard, which will be up and running again in the new year, and by my dear dear friend, THE Opinionated Man on HarsH ReaLiTy as a guest.

But most of all I’ve had my dream come true. I’ve gone from a woman isolated from society by her life’s circumstances, to a blogger with connections worldwide, with people I have more in common with than I could have dreamed, and a few true friends as well.

2013 has blessed me with the discovery of community, and the privilege of having spent yet another year with the most loving three children a mother could wish for.

Every year I make resolutions which I never keep. This time around I realize their importance and will do my utmost to uphold them – not to mention this is the first time I’ve ever declared them in public. I have face to save!

To lose above mentioned twenty pounds is just the start. My intention is for this to be the year I come into my own as a writer and to get something published, whether it by my epic novel (my first choice) or an article for which I am paid. And finally, I wish to bring calm and love to those I hold dear – the one thing I strive for always.

A happy, healthy, wealthy, and peaceful 2014 to everyone!


Blog post of December 31st, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Please join in next year!


EDDD 29 – It’s Just Me – JusJoJan?

My weekend has only one hour left, meaning the kids will be home at 6:30. I’ve spent much of it relaxing, eating far too much yesterday and making up for it today by behaving myself, reading my manuscript – I’m almost two-thirds of the way to the end – and becoming reacquainted with the music to which I wrote my novel in the first place. In all, it’s been lovely. But far too short. Then, half the weekend I spent sleeping.

I wanted to write another, longer post today, but I feel like I need to jam as much “me” time into the weekend as I can, so my other post will wait for tomorrow.

There’s no real point to this post, other than to say I wrote it, and kept up my promise to blog every damn day in December. We’ll have to have something like “Just Jot it January.” What do you think? Doable? Perhaps a post of no more than a hundred words, every day in January?

Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. I might just do it anyway.

Okay, now I’m happy. I found a point to my post.

Cheers, all!

Blog post of December 29th, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Check it out!


EDDD 28 – Frost Quakes

I read an article in the paper today about something known as “Frost Quakes,” or “cryoseism.”

Apparently they are caused by the sudden freezing of ground water below the earth’s surface, and they cause the earth to shake and can make very loud noises, much like that of a tree landing on one’s house.

Anyway, it explains why all of the ice from the tree branches is on the ground today. It didn’t melt off as it usually does. It came off as though it was shaken off, still solid.

Have you ever heard of such a phenomena? It’s a first for me!

Blog post of December 28th, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Check it out!


EDDD 27 – Random

It’s taken me twenty seven days to run out of things to say, which isn’t bad I don’t think. Okay, so I cheated for a couple of days when my dear friend Navigator1965 posted for me. But I would have come up with something excellent to blog about. Honest.

One little bit of good news – the kids are being picked up by their dad for the weekend, so I’m getting some time to myself, for the first time in four weeks! This will be my fifth weekend off since August. I want to spend as much time reading my manuscript as I can, since I haven’t looked at it for almost two months. I wanted to give it time to rest. Apart from that, I think sleep will be a priority.

And wine and chocolates. I have a box of Godiva truffles to wade through, which is nice, as I have insanely expensive taste in chocolate. Hey, go big or go home, right? The wine is a different story. I’m going to save the good stuff for a grand occasion, like when someone’s book hits the best-seller list. Which it will. You know who you are.

What else? Oh, I went back to delivering my papers today for the first time since my accident. It went well – not too much ice underfoot, nor any branches dropping on my head. No giraffe encounters either (Joey), nor did I see Megan Fox (Paul), so it wasn’t a perfect outing.

My next door neighbour lost his back fence to a fallen tree that stood about five feet tall laying down (the trunk’s diameter), so that was pretty exciting. I missed it actually falling, but I was sitting at the kitchen table when it happened, so I caught the cloud of ice dust that surrounded it when it hit the ground. It missed the other neighbour’s shed by inches. I’m glad I wasn’t standing under that. Surprising, considering my luck this holiday.

Alex seems to be doing well. I’m not sure why the doctor only treated the symptoms of his pneumonia and didn’t mention removing the piece of food from his lung. Maybe it’ll dissolve? I can’t find any information online one way or the other.

Here’s some more ice, in case you haven’t seen enough this week.



 Blog post of December 27th, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Check it out!


EDDD 26 – Boxing Day

Why do they call it Boxing Day anyway? Is it the day you get rid of all the boxes from the gifts you received? Or find a spot to put all the ones you have to keep because if the devices that came in them prove to be defective, the guarantee is void if said device goes back without its original packaging?

Is it the day you put all your Christmas decorations back in their boxes? (Or in the case of Christmas lights, tie them in a ball so that next year you’ll have as much fun cursing yourself for not doing a better job packing them away as you did this year?)

Is it the day you go out to the sales and gather even more boxes because finally everything has gone down from it’s pre-Christmas over-inflated price?

For me, Boxing Day is a time to recover from the Christmas frenzy, and has nothing to do with boxes at all… unless you count staring at them, hoping they’ll throw themselves in the recycling bin. I won’t even mention the damned twist-ties that are strewn all over my living room floor. Oh, wait…

What does Boxing Day mean to you?

Blog post of December 26th, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Check it out!


EDDD 25 – Trust Your Instincts

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all ’round the kitchen
There was choking and coughing
My son, he was bitchin’

…that his head ached, he was dizzy, tired, and everything hurt. It was about half an hour after dinner. Within the next fifteen minutes he was asleep on the couch and his breathing was fast and shallow.

I started looking to the internet for solutions as to what could be wrong. All day he’d been active, happy, and looking forward to opening his presents. On a hunch I looked up ‘aspiration.’ Bingo. I checked his temp. He was burning up.

Fifteen minutes later we were at the hospital. By midnight he’d had an x-ray – they found a piece of food lodged in his right lung. It took one hour for him to go from fine to having aspiration pneumonia. He’s at home now, happily playing with his new Wii U, on antibiotics.

I’ve said it so many times and I’ll say it again. A mother knows her child much better than any doctor can. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a position where I’ve had to tell a doctor flat out that he or she was wrong. I’ve demanded a second opinion from a pediatrician more than once.

This wasn’t the case last night, however this post is to say that if you are a mother, always trust your instincts over a doctor’s opinion.

Had I not trusted my instincts, the scenario right now could have been much much worse. Apparently the chances of survival for this sort of thing depends on early detection.

A Christmas miracle indeed. Merry Christmas everyone!

Blog post of December 25th, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Check it out!


EDDD 24 – All I Want – Giving

For the seventh and final edition of “All I Want,” I decided to save the best for last. Giving, after all, is what the season is all about. Interesting how circumstance would have me posting this on Christmas Eve, instead of Sunday.

Christmas Eve is special to many people. For myself, it’s a time to finish wrapping presents, to stuff stockings, and to enjoy the anticipation of my children as they climb off to bed with thoughts of what they will wake to in the morning. A little glass of Baileys always goes down well, also. 🙂

But if I could give anything at all to the ones I love, it would be to give my children perfect health. To Chris I would give complete access to that brilliant mind of his – to unlock it from the constraints that autism places on his abilities to process his thoughts. And to Alex I would give the gift of music – a revelation to his deaf ears; the chance to fill his taste buds with the wonder of flavours, where now he eats through a tube; and finally I would give him a perfect heart, to replace the one he was born with, that beats precariously in his chest.

So, finally, I ask you, my readers. If you could give anything at all to the ones you love, what would it be? Dream big, my friends.

Happy Christmas Eve.



 Blog post of December 24th, in honour of Every Damn Day December.


EDDD 21 – All I Want – Travel

It’s Day Six of “All I Want” and we’re almost at the finish line, my friends.

Today I’d like to know, if you could go anywhere in the world, for a visit or to live, where would it be?

After falling down three steps on an inch of ice this morning and almost cracking my skull open, I’d have to say anywhere in the Caribbean sounds nice. Until April!

The world is your oyster today – where do you want to go?

Blog post of December 21st, in honour of Every Damn Day December. Check it out!