Friday, December 29, 2006

Larry Boy needs Help!

One of Tommy’s stocking stuffers was a Veggie Tales game for his Game Boy. I purchased it on sight months ago because I was sure it would be the ultimate coup: What could be more mesmerizing than the marriage of the game play elements of Super Mario 3 with Veggie Tales characters AND MUSIC!? So imagine my disappointment when he spent a whole 5 minutes looking at it before shelving the now less than ‘perfect’ gift idea I’d come up with all by myself.

A couple days later, I rescued the game from its virtual trash dump and fired it up in a derelict Game Boy to see what the problem was. Within seconds, I sensed a presence looking over my shoulder at my embarrassingly brutal skills. I was almost instantly ‘stuck’ in the puzzle because I hadn’t bothered to read the instructions or view the tutorial. Tommy even started to laugh at me. How humiliating! After much trial and error, I discovered how to ‘push’ the movable block so I could stand on it to jump to another platform thingy. What a feeling! I had just started to say “Ha, look at THAT!” to my tormenter when, WHOOSH!! As quick as you please, he snapped the game out of my hands and booked it down the hall.

I was both shocked and momentarily annoyed because I wanted to see what the next challenge would be. Tommy has never, ever done anything like that to my knowledge. I shouted after him, “Wait! I was playing with that….” But Tommy only giggled with glee at the funny trick he’d played on me. You know, that is something people have done to him his whole life, and he clearly enjoyed the shoe finally being on the other foot for a change. I was ‘safe’ for him to do that to.

It then also occurred to me that this is why Tom had stopped the game so quickly; he’d gotten stuck there as well. Ah, at least I was able to help him, and now he was playing the game! (So, no $18 down the tubes for nothing) A little while later, he came back down the hall chanting, “Shelby? Shelby?”… He burst into the room and nearly knocked me off of my chair. Thrusting the Game Boy into my hands, he finished the tirade with, “Help!” Ah, so NOW he needed my help again? I felt strangely warm and fuzzy inside.

It turns out that Larry Boy, the Super Hero cucumber protagonist of the game, can shoot toilet plungers out of his ears! (Who knew?) They’ll stick to the ‘targets’ on the ceiling, allowing him to swing back and forth before launching himself through the air. I’m not even going to admit how long this took me to figure out, but Tom kept getting frustrated that I was letting the timer count down to zero without making the required forward progress. Finally, Larry Boy flew through the air onto the right platform! And once again, WHOOSH! Away went Tommy and his Game Boy. I now felt sort of used and abused, but still warm and fuzzy nonetheless.

Over the past few days, this has played out again several times. I am absolutely positive Tommy knows how to move that cucumber properly. I mean, that boy can make those vegetables dance all over the place so fast it makes my head spin! But in a few select levels, and always in the same place on the level, along comes Tommy with his, “Shelby? Shelby! Help!” business. By fluke perhaps, this initial mutual interaction offered something Tommy has perhaps never done before; working together with another soul toward a common goal. And thus far, he can’t get enough of it. Yeah, I get used and then abruptly left without so much as a ‘thank-you’. But you know, I can’t seem to get enough of it, either.

Friday, December 15, 2006

BLACK GOLD: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

What a relief! I have been racking my brain about what sort of Christmas gift to buy for a brother-in-law who has yet to produce any ideas or preferences, and I now have my idea! Given the recent falling futures and value for coal, that ubiquitous hard black stuff everyone says can be burned as fuel (yah right!) is now quite inexpensive. A few dollars can now get you a whole heap of this stuff.

Talk about versatile AND cost effective gift! You’d be hard pressed to find anything that can do more for you than good ‘ole Coal. Here are the Top Ten reasons why coal might be the gift for YOU this Christmas.

#10. A load in the back of your pickup will add lots of traction in inclement weather.

#9. Rub it over one eyelid to get lots of sympathy from the ladies.

#8. Put it in bags, and you have near-infinite possibilities and variability for weight lifting.

#7. Strategically placed lumps in your shirt will have people gawking over your killer “six pack” abs.

#6. You can spend literally hours at a time trying to figure out how to make it burn

#5. It is ready ammo that you can ricochet off of the neighborhood dogs’ noggins on your early morning jog/snowshoe trek.

#4. Initial testing indicates that this is a bad idea. Forget it.

#3. Rub it on your face and I have 2 words for you; Instant Tan!

#2. Whereas: 1) We are made of carbon, 2) We eat plants, 3) Plants are made of carbon, 4) Coal is made from plants...
Therefore: It’s safe to eat!

The giver of this great gift won’t have to put up with all that annoying fake enthusiasm and gratitude from the receiver. Guaranteed!

Full 'o Beans

Today had an interesting beginning. Well actually, most days have an interesting beginning for me, but this one was particularly spirited. I guess that’s what you get when you combine an eager telephone and an equally eager autistic boy at the same time.

Tommy was being extra vocal to start with, calling out “Leonie Leonie Leonie” repeatedly and without letup (only he pronounces in more like ‘Waynee’). Then my cell phone rang. I didn’t get to it in time but saw that it was my parents. Whilst attempting to wash Tom, who was in the shower, I attempted to call them back. But in the midst of calling, our Home phone started to ring, so I hung up and ran for the home phone. It rang only once, so I attempted the parents on the cell again and got through. The parents wanted to clarify something on an L.L. Bean gift certificate for Leonie, which we wisely discussed in a different room away from active ears (or so I thought). But I was still on the phone when I returned to Tom.

Well! Once Tom saw I was on the phone, he started up his “Waynee Waynee” ruckus once again and started reaching for the phone. I don’t think my Dad got much out of the conversation, but I did give it a try. It turned out to be a rather short exchange, due mostly, I believe, to my Dad being deafened by Tom. After hanging up, Tom had some choice words. “Waynee… Eo, Eo, Weeeen… Eo, Eo, Beeeeeeen!” Guess he overheard me use the words Leonie and LL Bean in a sentence. Amazing since he doesn’t know what LL Bean is.

Call and shower now ended, it was time to get clothes on. But once again, the cell phone started up. And once again, Tom started gesturing for the phone and saying, “Waynee Waynee Waynee…” This time it WAS Leonie, so I handed it to Tom:

Tommy: “WAYNEE!”

Waynee: “Yes, Tom.”

Tommy: “Pugetti Saw!”

Waynee: “???? Spaghetti sauce? Do you want spaghetti?”

Tommy: “Pugetti Saw, FRIDAY!”

Waynee: “How about spaghetti for supper… at… 5:30, Tom?”

Tommy: “Su..pper… Fi-thirtee! Pugetti Saw!”

Waynee: “Okay, We’ll have spaghetti for supper. Bye bye, Tom.”

Tommy: “Buh Byyyye!”

There, that ought to take care of that business! Now I was running late, so deftly handed Tom off to his mother and bee lined it for the shower. Yet, no sooner had the water struck my back when Tom burst through the bathroom door chanting “Shaobee Shaobee Shaobee…”, waving the (again) ringing cell phone in hand. Booking it after Tom with loud protestations was Michael, but there was no deterring him from his goal. One sight of the big white nude marshmallow stopped Mike dead in his tracks, but not Tom! With a loud and triumphant “WAYNEEEE!!!”, he handed me the phone as I stammered my appreciation. His mission completed, Tom turned on his heel and strutted proudly out, shutting the door behind him with a confident clunk. So there I was! Alone once again, dripping, clad with nuthin’ but denuded dignity and a dinged up Nokia, and what can ya do?! At least Tommy was right, though. It WAS Waynee on the other end of the line again.

You can’t get mad about it because Tom really does like us. I know this for sure because, in addition to giving out lots of hugs, our boy calls us “Waynee and Shaobee” (NOT “Whiney” and “Weenie”). Thank goodness for small mercies!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Emancipation... (Sort of)

December 8, is a GOOD day! Firstly because it's Friday and I like Fridays, and secondly because the twins turn 18. It's nice to know that your legal responsibilities to someone are over and you could now have them seek a living space elsewhere if you really wanted to... But of course, that's not what I'm about. Still, it's a good day!

Today also marks 6 months since the surgery to repair my unceremoniously ruptured achilles tendon. The Orthopedic surgeon actually fired me a month ago because I'd made such good progress, but now I'm 'officially' free to pursue whatever physical activity I can stand. (So now, I can be officially happy about it). I have no plans to re-injure any portion of my anatomy, however, so will be sure to ease back into fitness slowly. As far as the ankle is concerned, I have between now and 6 months to find out what it's going to be like long-term, so the pain isn't exactly over with just yet.
Still, it's a good day.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I had the privilege of being visited by my parents this weekend. As usual, the kids did a pretty good job of keeping them entertained/occupied more than they'd ever been able to imagine. It's always astounding to me that they can manage to stick around for more than one night at a time. That's patience right there!

They've been jet setting all over creation (or rather, RV'ing all over the So. Cal. desert), and this will likely be my last opportunity to see them for quite a while as they stray farther afield over the winter months. Exotic places like Bangkok, Thailand AND Windsor, Ontario (no less!!!!) are now on their itineraries in some combination of the two of them. Ontario I can claim no responsibility for, but I've been filling their heads about Thailand for the past 3 years since I visited there. How much fun I had, how good the food was, how CHEAP everything was, how beautiful the sights and the people were... (HAHA, I almost feel guilty about what it'll be like for them when they actually get there!!! Almost... ;)

I like my parents! In some ways we're so different from each other, but these are mostly blown away by all of the ways in which we are similar. I've got to admit, however, that I've spent some considerable time contemplating this portrait in an attempt to determine which one I more closely resemble. (Indeed, whether I resemble either of them)

It must be nice to be finished with raising kids and work; to have the freedom to come and go as one pleases, where one pleases, and when one pleases... (oh, please! :) Ah well. Safe travels, Ma & Pa! I love you!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thirty Three

For fully three decades, this number has held an undeservedly high significance in my mind. Clearly, there’s no magic in such a number. I mean, Gretzky was way above that with his #99. And the fact is, getting a 33 on a test is just NOT good. Rather, thirty-three has meaning to me because it is associated with one of several indelible ‘snapshot’ memories I have from my early childhood….

We were going for a family walk near our house in Langley. We’d turned right after getting to the intersection from 48th avenue, and I remember that my parents were wearing matching blue windbreakers. I recall the word ‘windbreaker’ sounded uber cool to me at the time, I guess because even basic things in life are still oh-so-new and exciting when you’re only 3 years old. The baby of the family, I was mixing up the trip between getting rides from both parents as well as walking ‘all by myself’. As we tramped along on this grand adventure, it occurred to me that if I was 3 years old, perhaps my parents had an age too!!! “Daddy, how old are you?” I asked. … He looked down at me and said, “I’m 33.” Hey, those were the same numbers that I was, only he had TWO of them!! I asked my mom the same question, and wonder of wonders, she was 33 as well. =CLICK= (snapshot)…

Well hold the presses, this was too much for my earnest little mind to process. How on earth did they go about getting TWO of the same numbers?! Obviously the difference was significant, because my parents were grownups and had a near infinite fountain of wisdom. They knew pretty much everything, so this must be a prerequisite.

I have no idea why this was so significant to me, be it the amazing coincidence that all our ages were the same number, or the fact that this perhaps wasn’t a coincidence at all. But it was, at the time, a big old badge of ‘same-ness’ with my parents that I carried around proudly like a winning lottery ticket.

Growing up, I was the third of three children in the family. It just so happens that the first two had been adopted, or “chosen” is a better term for that time period. As they pointed out, they were “chosen” by our parents, whereas I was apparently definitely “NOT chosen.” Never mind that I had no idea what “chosen” meant. (much less the meaning of ‘adopted’). Well, I might not have been chosen, but we all had the same numbers in our ages, my parents and I. And this meant I BELONGED in this family!

Fast-forward some three decades: Today, I turned 33. It’s a funny thing how wisdom flies away faster than passing years, because I surely don’t have the wisdom my parents had when they were this age. Goodness, they’d had three kids and had already managed to get the youngest out of diapers… I haven’t even managed to produce ONE kid yet.

But I DO have children; God gave me 7 of them (and what’s the wisdom in that?! But that’s another story). My parents always seemed to know what was appropriate and what to do in any given situation, but I sure don’t! My parents started with little ones who went through an extended period of time thinking that they were the infallible centre of the universe. Me? I started out with teenagers who already knew better, so there was no opportunity to learn by stealth. Any mistake has the potential to be magnified times a hundred, then remembered that way for time immemorial. However, like they must have done, we do our best in the few days of their lives that we’ve been given to try to make as big and positive a difference as possible.

My kids don’t have everything going for them, and the future isn’t necessarily all roses and chocolate pudding. I don’t share their blood, and we don’t even have any cool numbers in common (like 33). But every day, I pray that, just as I learned from the loving example of my parents, they come to realize that they were very much “chosen” just as they are. And that they BELONG in this family.
Oh well, Happy Birthday to me. No pics were taken of the meal, so this will have to do.Hats by ViTO

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Totally Irresponsible

It's been seldom in recent years that I've had the opportunity to experience a bout of guilt-free irresponsibility. That's why I appreciate my family as much as I do.

The most recent of these took place over the November 11th long weekend, which found me motoring my way down to the Indio/Palm Desert area. There, I spent some time with the neice and nephew, but even more time accomplishing absolutely NOTHING with my Father and brother. It's quite refreshing to have the opportunity to kick up your heels and do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it...

As it turns out, I apparently wanted to sleep as I ended up going to bed earlier than I do at home each night in general. SEE?! With all that freedom, you really get down to livin' on the wild side.
(Sometimes I miss being a kid)
In between, we managed to find our way to some deep sand, which we did our best to push out of the desert with the sole aid of 4 madly spinning wheels. You can sure churn up a lot of sand if you crank the steering wheel over while keeping the pedal floored in first or second gear. Besides accomplishing adeptly the honourable but highly neglected task of filling the air filter with dust and sand, we also managed to nearly bury the car a couple of times. Despite our best efforts to permanently alter the landscape, alas! The desert remains just as we found it. (Which is fine by me, because it leaves the opportunity to go out and do it all over again!!)