Monday, September 26, 2011

addition to our family

This weekend my baby sister had her first child.
After 2 hours of labour she gave birth to a wee one (just 5 pounds) and both mom and baby are doing amazingly.
I would post a photo but I need to get mom's permission. Take it from me, she is GORGEOUS!
Welcome to the family little one.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

open minded... what?

This past weekend wubby and I attended a conference for foster and adoptive families. The conference is held yearly locally and we try to attend as often as we can.
The hotel was a complete bust (served cold food and put us into a dirty room and took two hours to move us) but the conference was pretty good.
We had registered in advance for some aboriginal training which we do at every opportunity but the presenter was unable to attend and the session was cancelled which was a huge bummer because we had to find alternative sessions at the last minute to join. There was a session on Child Sexual Abuse which I KNOW is important but I was not feeling emotionally "prepared" to sit through the session and another on dealing with adolescents - which I have a few years yet to prepare myself for. Basically my remaining options were limited to one. It was something about claiming your magnificent self ...
It was extremely touchy feeling and a LOT of sharing deep personal thoughts and feelings. I have to say it isn't something I would volunteer for again considering the group we were with.
In the entire group Shel and I are the only gay couple. MOST of the foster parents in the area are very religious and to be honest, not the most inclusive group I have ever been a part of. 
We do have a few good friends that it is always nice to see but we ended up in different sessions at this conference for some reason.
On Sunday Shel went to a session on building resiliency in children and teens and I went to a session on Aboriginal culture and Christianity. The presenters were a Catholic nun and an Aboriginal elder. The purpose of the session as outlined in the program was to have the presenters show the similarities between Christian ritual and Aboriginal ceremony. MOST of the people in the session were the people who are very vocal about their "Christian" lifestyle.
In every aboriginal session I have ever attended there is a smudging ceremony at the beginning. The presenters outlined that there would be a prayer from the nun and then a smudge from the elder. One person raised her hand and said that in her understanding a smudging ceremony was inviting aboriginal spirits to enter the room and stated that she was not comfortable in her religion to invite any spirit that was not from God.
The nun responded to her inquiry and stated that a smudge was like a prayer. I have included a link where you can read more info about smudging because I am in no way an expert, but what was explained was that all ceremonies must be entered into with a good heart so that we can pray, sing, and walk in a sacred manner. When the sweetgrass is brought to the people in the circle each individual wafts the smoke over their head, eyes, ears, mouth, heart and then down over the body. The whole process takes about two minutes per person.
The elder was very clear that if you were uncomfortable smudging that you could hold your hand over your heart or step back out of the circle and you would be passed over and there was no judgement on whether you smudged or not. The nun explained that when she smudged she prayed to her father in heaven that her heart, mind, eyes and ears would be open to the process about to take place so that she would learn and not pass judgement.
PERSONALLY, I like the idea. I think it is a cool way to start a meeting. It is a great reminder to take a minute, think about what you are about to do, why you are doing it, and commit to be a part of the process if a positive way. AS the smoke rises to heaven thoughts are on the creator and the role he plays in all our interactions.
Unfortunately this was not sufficient for the person who asked the question because she chose to leave the group and not attend the session. Others also left the room rather than be present for the smudge.
 Of those of us that remained more than HALF did not participate in the smudging.
The session continued, each presenter sharing personal experience and knowledge with the group. Then we were invited to take part in a pipe ceremony.
I have never been a part of a pipe ceremony but I was amazed and awed by the fact that this elder was willing to share something of his own spirituality that is so significant. ESPECIALLY in a group that was obviously not completely open to the ideas surrounding his beliefs.
It was an honor to participate. It was absolutely beautiful. Again, many people chose not to participate.
At the end of the session there was a sharing circle. The eagle feather was passed and each person in the group was able to share.
I said thank-you to the presenters for sharing their wisdom and knowledge. Some of the people still felt as though Native Spirituality was in conflict with their native beliefs.
I have been thinking and thinking about the experience and I WISH I had shared some of my feelings to the group. I am obviously still struggling with finding my "voice"  because what I wanted to say was this: (good thing I have a blog to "spew" on!)
I am a returned missionary for my CHRISTIAN church. I lived my entire life, served a mission, held positions of leadership and gave my time (and my heart) to proselytize for the church that I am not welcome in. My spouse and I have approached churches in our community and asked if we may bring our family to worship with them and we have been told that we are NOT welcome.
(I have to interject here that we have friends who attend a church locally who have invited us to join them and when we asked if we would be welcome they told us not to worry what anyone said but to go anyway. While we appreciate their support, it is not a resounding welcome from the community to our family!)
We have been judged, condemned, and rejected by EVERY Christian organization we have communicated with since arriving in our community.
Not once, not EVER have we been rejected, judged or treated differently by Aboriginal people in ceremonies we have attended. NEVER.
In the circle we sat in at the conference the Aboriginal leader welcomed all, regardless of belief, regardless of whether or not individuals wanted to participate. He said to everyone, "Come into my circle".
The people who rejected the message - self proclaimed "Christians".
I don't understand it. I have read the Bible (more times than many would believe). Christianity is so far removed from Christ it is unrecognizable to me.
I am so grateful for the BLESSING of being able to  pray to and thank my Creator in a space where I believe he walked, and it wasn't a church.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthday Boy

Max is FIVE years old today. I can't believe it.
He asked me this morning if it was his birthday "RIGHT NOW" and when I said it was he responded by saying "So do I get to stay home from school then?"
Silly boy.
He went to school but I got a call at lunch that he was not well and so I went to pick him up. Shel came into town and took him from my office up to the hospital where they said he needed medication and breathing treatments. He insists that he still wants cake and ice-cream for supper though.
I love this kid.
Happy Birthday Buddy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Books from School

Maxie brought a book home from school this week. He has done this before with regularity - but never before has he actually sat and listened to me read a book to him in it's entirety. Last night he listened to this book not once, but TWICE.
I love books. I love to read. I have been sad that my boy would never ever sit still or show interest long enough for me to read to him.
I love Sam Sheep.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First day of Kindergarten


So here we are!
Max had his first day today, an orientation day and not a full day. He will be attending the school in town. We deliberated and deliberated and FINALLY decided to send him to the community school and then received a call from the school letting us know that enrollment was so low that the school would not likely stay open and we would end up having to move Max again if he went there this year.
For Max to move twice would be too much and so we decided to keep him where he has been going - the school in town. We are sad that the community school has such low enrollment and we know that choosing to put Max into school in town also affects this enrollment, but we have to do the best thing for him. We are happy with our decision. Max has the aide this year that has worked with him for the past two  years. He will be getting speech therapy, Occupational therapy and physical therapy AND going to kindergarten.
YAY!
He took the bus this morning and Shel went with him on his first day. It is about an hour bus ride and he will take his DSI to play games on the ride. He was reluctant to get onto the bus but Hugo was excited and climbed right on the bus behind him. The other kids on the bus thought it was hilarious. I was so busy pulling Hugo off that I neglected to get a photo of the great dane on the bus.
My baby is in Kindergarten.
Here is Cael waving at the bus as it arrives. Max was behind him clinging to mom and crying. CJ was thrilled and HAPPILY would have gone. We will see if he is still thrilled in two years when it is his turn.

At one point I said to Max that he would be taking the bus for the next 13 years. Upon reflection I son't think it was the most motivating thing I could have come up with to tell him. He has not slept at night since last week in anticipation of school beginning. We have been talking to him about it trying to prepare him but it was too overwhelming so we really downplayed it the last couple of days to try and "ease" him into it more and not build it up so much. When I got him up this morning he started to cry immediately and said he did not want to go on the bus. It was really the first he had mentioned the bus, but the bus driver let Shel ride with him which helped immensely. Hopefully tomorrow it will all go smoothly.