Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We're not gonna take it!!!!

Hi All,

The fire hall in the tiny community of Ross Ferry was literally bursting out of the doors with people late last week, as we anxiously waited for news from the RCMP. This news was the last thing we wanted to hear, but at the same time, something we all needed to know.

It seems that in the wide spanning, yet sparsely populated areas of Big Bras d’or, Boularderie East, Boularderie Centre, Ross Ferry and Kempt Head that a dozen break and enters have occurred within the last month and a half. A DOZEN, as in TWELVE! Citizens from these communities as well as New Campbellton came to hear what we could do to stop further break ins from occurring.

Apparently, lowlifes were helping themselves to whatever they wanted from homes and bungalows, mostly in broad daylight. They had stolen everything and anything they thought might be of any value: computers, lawnmowers, jewelery, tools, etc. The most heartbreaking moment of the meeting was when one victim, (who had been gone for only 4 hours the morning of his break in) told the story of things taken that he could never replace. This family has lovingly adopted 4 children, two from Asia, and two from Ethiopia. The silver crosses given to his boys from Ethiopia by their dying Mother had been stolen. There was not a dry eye in the fire hall as he recounted the horror when he and his wife discovered these crosses were stolen from their own home.

Now I must warn these thieving scumbags that our communities were informed by the RCMP of what and who to look for. Since receiving this information, we are all now reporting suspicious activity, vehicles and people that don’t belong, and we are reinstituting our Rural Watch program. These are things you don’t really want to have to do in a small community, but remember, people in small communities all know each other and look out for one another. I am confident that these thieves will be caught and our communities will be safe again.

So to you heartless, gutless, thieves beware and know this: Our eyes are peeled and our ears are open. We’re not gonna take it!

Until next time,


P.S. I know it’s been a long time since my last blog, so please accept my excuses and apologies. June went by in a whirlwind, what with class trips, end of year parties, and wrapping up my Roots of Empathy class. And now with the lazy, hazy (finally!!) days of summer upon us, our days are spent outside with the kids in the pool or trotting off to the lake for a dip.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Daughter is Gifted

Hi All,

I know you must be thinking sure her daughter is gifted, doesn't every Mother claim that? Please give me time to explain and I think you will agree.

The first thing you notice about my daughter, Maisie, is her smile. It's as bright as sunshine and full of mischief and fun. The next thing you'd notice is the little box that seems to float near her head just behind her right ear. That tiny little box is actually a BAHA, short for bone anchored hearing aid, and it usually makes people take a confused second look at her.

That tiny, expensive BAHA is what is giving Maisie a new lease on life.

Maisie is hearing impaired. She was born with a profound hearing loss in one ear. When learned of her hearing impairment when she was about a month old, and for that I am grateful. However, we had no idea how to deal with it. The rest of our family, and basically everyone we know have "normal" hearing, so how could we help our little infant? Should we shout at her when we sing and do nursery rhymes, would she even hear that? We had a lot to learn about hearing loss.

Maisie has compensated so well with her hearing loss that at times we almost forget that she has it. She had never worn any kind of hearing aid because of the type of hearing loss she has. Her cochlea is not properly formed and a regular hearing aid wouldn't benefit her at all. She is lost at times between the hearing and deaf world. She's not deaf, but she doesn't hear like others. She has had many ways that she deals with it, mostly by just repeating "WHAT?" For this response, she has received many sour looks and responses, to which we reply, "She's deaf in one ear." This is always a shock to those who don't know she's hearing impaired.

Maisie is truly a brave little girl. On November 28, 2007, she underwent life changing surgery. A titanium screw was implanted into her skull, which when healed, she would attach a BAHA which conducts sound through her head to her only working ear. As we waited in the pre operation area, her little legs were pumping up and down in her chair as she was met by every person of her operation team, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and nurses. Seeing her legs pumping enthusiastically, they asked if she was nervous or scared, to which she replied, "No, I'm just excited!"

The surgery itself took about 2 1/2 hours, and after she had a HUGE bandage on her head. She was taken back to her room and given painkillers, which she stopped taking completely in three short days.

The screw healed nicely into her skull, the stitches look like they were done by a plastic surgeon, and her hair is growing back. Some will never grow back around the screw, but that's because she had a skin graft around the screw so that hair won't grow around it, and that's ok.

March 10th was her big day. She was finally healed well enough to start wearing her BAHA. We'd basically waited for about 7 years by now for her to be able to hear better. I don't think I could've waited another day, I was so excited. My little girl was going to be able to hear so much better than she could on March 9th, or any other day of her whole life!

As we waited for the audiologist (we were an hour early!) we were so excited. He hooked on the BAHA, turned it on, plugged her good ear and began to test her hearing with only the BAHA. The results were conclusive that she could "hear" almost as well with her BAHA as she could in her good ear. When we left the hospital and got into the car, we were all talking about where we were going to go next, and Maisie said, "Why are you all yelling?" I told her we weren't yelling at all and she said, "But you're so LOUD!" I chuckled as I told her we've always been loud, she just hasn't heard us.

Maisie is now hearing sounds that she's never heard before, things she doesn't recognize. For example, we were at her brother’s basketball game and she was completely puzzled by a sound she could hear but didn't know what it was. After I strained to hear it, I discovered it was the sound of balls pinging off the rim when the boys missed a shot. She had never heard it before. She also now really hears the sound of birds in the yard, the wind, and she hears things that "hearing" people have learned to block out as background noise. Because she's not really heard well, these are all new sounds to her. It's wonderful to see the look on her face as she tries to figure out just what she's hearing.

Maisie not only functions, she thrives. When we were told of her hearing loss, the outlook given to us was very bleak. We were told that she most likely have speech problems (and she did have some), and also have troubles in school due to not hearing instructions and therefore not understanding them. I think the exact phrase given to us was she was "set up for failure".

Today she is one of the best readers in her class; she is caring, kind and generous even though she's sometimes struggled, as many people with disabilities do, she’s never thrown in the towel.

People who face challenges and adversities doing things that we all take for granted every day truly amaze me. Their strength, courage, and determination are inspiring.

Realizing the things Maisie can do with only one ear, the things she's accomplished are amazing. If you step back and appreciate what you have, your heart fills with love, pride, and joy

That's why I daughter is gifted.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Boularderie's awakening

Hi All,

Raise you're hand if you think it feels like spring. Me neither. But in the last couple of weeks, I have seen my beautiful Boularderie Island wake up from a long winter's nap. The snow has finally melted and tree buds are just starting to burst. But the real way to tell that we will soon be planting perennials and mowing the lawn is to look around and see the businesses that have reopened for another promising season.

Boularderie is blessed with a lot of seasonal businesses, most of which open the first or second week of May. In the last couple of weeks, businesses like Hank's and Morrison's Greenhouses and Mac Neil's, Seal Island and Kelly's View Motels have reopened. Our lovely antique stores, Den of Antiquity, is filled with treasures and open for business! Island Point Resort in South Side Boularderie is a beautiful place to spend a quiet, relaxing vacation. There are also several cottages available for rent such as View of the Sea and Bird Island Boat tours.

The Bender's Restaurant, Fitzgerald's Restaurant, Seal Island Restaurant, and Captain Ron's are all up and running. My absolute favorite establishment on the whole island Cedar House is back to serving delicious meals and to-die-for baked goods.

There's no excuse and plenty of reasons for everyone who comes over the Seal Island Bridge to spend a little time browsing the Den of Antiquity and to have lunch or supper at one of our fantastic restaurants. Why not make it a weekend trip and stay at one of the wonderful accommodations offered on my beautiful island? I think you'll see it's worth the time.

Until next time,


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Michelle's tips for living greener

Hi All,

Well, with Earth Day here today, I think it's time I got to posting this blog!

There are many ways that we can help out our planet that don't take much time, effort, or money. In most cases, you will save money if you try some of these little tips.

- Reusable coffee and juice cups

As little as a couple of years ago, I sent juice boxes with my kids to school. I soon realized it didn't take much more effort to fill three reusable juice boxes in the morning, so I switched and no longer purchase juice boxes. Same thing goes for coffee cups. MOST of the time I can remember to take mine with me in the car, so if I want to stop for a coffee, I have my own cup, and I also save 10 cents if I purchase it at Tim Horton's. This leads me to my next tip....

- Don't drive thru

Although we still eat out and buy coffee, etc., I no longer use the drive thru. By getting off my fat you-know-what and walking into the store, I am usually saving myself time by not waiting in the drive thru, and I am wasting less gas and putting out a little less emissions.

- Buy used

I purchase alot of clothing, games, books, you name it at second hand stores. I can get great deals, and give something a second chance at life, instead of heading to a landfill.

- Turn off the lights

We all saw what a huge effect Earth Hour had on our planet. If we turn off lights when not needed, we can again save money and harmful emissions.

- Buy Local

I know it's not possible to buy all things local all the time, but do it when you can. We are lucky here on Boularderie Island to be able to buy fresh eggs as well as tomatoes and cucumbers from Eyking Farms all year round. In the summer, you can get all kinds of locally grown fruits and vegetables from Hank's Family Farm. We can also get fresh strawberries from Rendell's and Quinn's Farms. All on our doorstep. We have to eat imported fruits and veggies all winter, so it's nice to be able to buy local, fresh produce when the season allows, and it's a great way to support your local economy!

- Don't litter!!!!!!!!

I saved this one for last because it seems like a no brainer, but sadly, every spring we see the evidence emerging that the snow has covered all winter. I am always surprised to think about and sometimes SEE people throwing from their cars everything from cigarette butts to McDonald's bags stuffed with garbage! Where do they think this will end up? I'll tell you. It ends up ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD YOU THREW IT ON!!! So please, this is the easiest of all....don't litter.

So you can see that these are very easy things that cost nothing to implement, require very little effort, yet can make a big difference. And if you're like me and occasionally forget your coffee cup, forgive yourself because you are trying. And a little effort can go a long way to make a cleaner, greener planet.

Until next time,


Thursday, April 3, 2008

How I Stunned the Grade 3 Class

Hi All,

I guess you're all wondering now from the title how I managed to COMPLETELY stun a class of 17 eight and nine year olds. Well let me tell you....

As a stay at home Mom I have more than my share of time to do volunteer work in my community. As you all know, I LOVE living here on Boularderie Island, and feel it is my duty to be an asset to my community. Our whole family has volunteered to clean up 1/3 of a local park, and my husband and I do many hours of volunteer work at our children's school.

One of the new commitments I took on this year for Boularderie School is Roots of Empathy. Roots of Empathy is a program where I bring a baby and the baby's Mom into the classroom (in this case grade 3) to help teach the children about the baby's development, and to try to teach them empathy for the baby, and in turn, for each other. I do 27 visits over the course of nine months, and I bring the Mom and baby in for 9 of those classes. After completing my training in October to be a qualified Roots of Empathy instructor, I was assigned to the grade 3 class.

Things have been going very well, and the kids are just in LOVE with the baby. Their little faces just light up when they see him, and he seems to enjoy all the attention. He is absolutely adorable.

Last Friday, during a pre baby visit where we get prepared for the baby visit, things were completely getting out of hand. The kids were, at some points laying and pulling on the blanket we sit around during the class, shoving each other, and "changing" the words to the nursery rhymes we were practicing in preparation for our baby's visit. If you have children, or was one at some point, you can imagine the lyrics these kids can come up with. The teacher and I had tried to pull them back on track many times, but nothing seemed to be effective.

Since I've never been a "teacher" before in a school environment, I have to use the skills I've developed by raising three children. After the nursery rhymes fiasco, drastic measures had to be taken. I stood up and listened to the chatter, looked over to the teacher's aid (who had taken over from the teacher) and said loudly (just to be heard), "Can someone help me fold up the blanket, please?” something we do at the very end of our visit. Since they LOVE to be helpful, three or four children immediately jumped up and began to fold the blanket. After about 5 seconds, someone said, "Why are we folding the blanket"? No, a hush didn't come over the class, but those of who had heard the question began repeating it and that's when I stunned them.

I shushed them as they passed me my blanket and began to explain. I told them that I had to leave. Why, they asked, to which I replied, "You guys are not listening or participating the way that you are supposed to and this class is to get ready to bring the baby in and I won't be able to bring the baby into this kind of environment. You are being too loud and inappropriate and it's not a safe or loving environment to bring the baby into. I'm sorry, but I have to leave."

After they picked their little jaws off the floor, they pleaded with me to give them another chance. Between me, the teacher, and the teacher's aid, we had already given them at least a dozen warnings about their behavior. None had previously worked, but for one fleeting second, I contemplated putting the blanket back down and continuing. Then the next second, I went back to the only skills I really had to draw on from teaching, my own children. If I had given them that many warnings, would I go back on my word and stay? Not on your life. I apologized to them, and told them that I would have to come back another day and left. I could tell that they were sorry then, but why were they only sorry when something was taken away from them? Why weren't they sorry when we were pleading with them to pay attention? Were they sorry for their behavior towards me and the teachers, or for themselves? I would find out shortly.

I found the teacher in the school and told her what had happened. She agreed that I did the right thing, and we made arrangements between ourselves that I would return Monday morning.

My son (who is in the grade 3 class) came home after school and handed me an envelope. Inside was a letter from EVERY child in grade 3 (my son included) telling me how sorry they were, how much they liked the class, how they LOVED "their" baby, and how very very sorry they were about their behavior. It literally brought a tear to my eye. Not only did they appreciate the class, they also wanted me back, even though, "Miss took away our art class," was included in one letter.

I questioned my decision to leave so abruptly as soon as I stepped out of the school. I called my mentor for the program later that day and asked her if I'd done the right thing. She assured me that they had learned a lesson of empathy that is not in the books. They had learned that my time is important, and that a certain behavior is expected of them. They are far enough into the program that they know what's expected of them in terms of behavior. And, they were genuinely sorry. This I knew for sure.

I am happy to report that bright and early Monday morning, I was back in class, with their letters in my hand, to tell them how much it meant to me that they liked the class and wanted me back. I explained to them that I was not getting paid to do these classes and they did take time to prepare and I was glad that they could appreciate that. I also told them how much I truly LOVE teaching Roots of Empathy to them. And I am happy to report that class went off without a hitch, with kids who were laughing, smiling, and being kind to each other....and to me.

I am sure this is a lesson they'll never forget.

Until next time,