My mom cooked and baked a lot.  We didn't go out to eat often as kids, nor did my parents go out much to eat themselves, and the closest thing to ready made food was canned peaches.  It was a different time then than now... or it seems that way. We saw our mom cook and bake and eventually we did too.  She didn't make it a lesson but more "here, do this while I finish this".  We saw, we learned and then we repeated.  As we got older, should we get home before our mom and saw she put something out to thaw for supper, we sometimes would just start making supper. She didn't care what we made as I think she was grateful that someone started something and she didn't have to cook.  (After so many years of cooking, day in day out, ya I wouldn't be picky either.) 

My mom also made us lunches, even when we were in high school that had a cafeteria. While I think it was more monetary motivated than health, I look back now and think we were fortunate.  In the long run I think we ate a lot better than cafeteria eaters at school. And yes, I did long to get a hamburger, pizza and fries, but nope I had my lunch and no money to do otherwise.... and I'm better off for that.

We also had this class called Home Ec. Ya, do you remember that? We were taught in school about food, food groups, how to prepare food and follow a recipe. Are there classes like this still? I don't know, but I hope so.

So as I read and hear more about childhood obesity, the junk food and lack of exercise being the main culprit, and the general lack of knowledge of what real food is,... something has to be done. I think about my kids, and while I think I'm doing well, I still question, am I?  I have and do involve my kids in making supper and when baking and when grocery shopping show them foods and tell them what things are when they ask.  When making their lunches, I am consciously aware to include all food groups and yet still struggle with what to do with the picky eaters to make sure they eat something and hopefully something healthy.

I watched this link of Jamie Oliver.  He has done several Food Revolution shows and he is passionate about it. I found this motivating and want to continue improving on healthy eating, home cooking, real food and educating my kids on all this along the way. I'd love to find ways to take this out further as well. How about you?
I came  across a website, People For Education, and read about a study on the concerning decline of reading enjoyment in children. I found this interesting and concerning as well. I recommend reading this study.

When I look back over my life I didn't struggle with reading, spelling was another thing, but reading I think I was OK with. I enjoyed books and when needed for home work I researched in encyclopedias, books, magazines and newspapers as
taught by our librarian or teacher. I can't say my parents read with us a lot but they did encourage us to read and the simple fact that resounds loudly to me, we didn't watch endless amounts of TV as there wasn't endless amount of children shows. 

Fast forward to my children.  When my daughter was born, I read to her as a baby.  My mom and especially my Oma thought they saw it all... reading to a baby, ridiculous, but I did it anyways. As she got older I read more books to her and went to the library. I can remember distinctly when she was in the My Little Pony phase there was one My Little Pony book that we
read everyday and many days more then once.  She had memorized each page pretty much completely. We found it funny.  I didn't focus or force her to learn to read, I just read to her.  Come grade one, oddly enough, we found out she was
behind in her reading skills.  I guess in our reading for fun, I missed the point of teaching her.  So we focused on her reading each night and in no time she was up to where she should be.  Reading hasn't been an issue since and she still loves to read, so much we sometimes have to forbid her to read because she stays up at night reading to finish the book.

Now my boys.... this is a different story.  I know I did not read with them as babies, like I did with my daughter. Maybe its because with more kids in the house, they didn't get all that attention I had when it was just one.  Maybe because of having a child with special needs and focusing more attention on other needs like physio therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy,  reading just didn't get in there for them. (Not to forget my daughter still asking for her reading time, I thought/felt like I was getting reading time in.)  Maybe its TV, Internet, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am doing their home reading programs and compared to my daughter, they can read more sight words than she could at the same age.  But that love of reading, the interest to hear the whole page of each page of the story, the wishing that the story would continue when coming to the end of the story is not there.  It seems more task driven than desire....

Until tonight.  I saw my son with Down syndrome, open his home reading book and babble along making up his own story.  At first I thought I need to get him to look at the words and "read" the words, but he quickly told me "No!" and returned to
his reading.  He flipped page by page and read his story and at the end I asked him if he liked the book, "yes".  I did my other son's home reading making him read each word and practise sight words and then we were done.

Now reading this study, I'm taken aback.... I reflect on our home reading program time tonight and compare the two... what use is the ability of reading without the love of reading?  I think I have lost focus, purpose, desire.  Another New Years Resolution has emerged. One that should make a difference to all of us. Time to get back to the Love of Reading.
Not meaning to do it, this week had an international flair. Here is this week menu plan.

Monday - Beefy Baked Ravioli - This was a winner with the family. 

Tuesday - Corned Beef Dinner - First time doing corned beef.  Was OK. Cooked cabbage got a thumbs down. The corned beef was good.

Wednesday - Curried Chicken - I don't often cook with curry, but when I was puting this one together, it smelled wonderful. I couldn't wait to sit down for supper. Sadly I was disappointed as the flavour was so much less than the smell of it. Still overall was a good dinner. I will have to investigate other curry dishes to see what was different. 

Thursday - Spicy Thai Peanut Steak - YES. Big hit (should say I don't really consider my two young ones to say if something is good because if it isn't peanut butter or nutella its next to impossible to get them to eat).  Hubby and my girl gave it 9.5 and buddy boy did eat his so that is really good. Will do this again and soon. The recipe I used is below but I used pad Thai sauce since I couldn't find spicy peanut Thai sauce, which is probably good as the family is not fond of spicy. I add spicy stuff to my food at the table. 
Friday - Crispy Crumbly Fish - Not bad for a fish dinner. Trying to include fish in our diet more but its not exciting to me. I want to stay away from for breaded and fried fish & chips as that seems so contradictory to me. 

Saturday - Southwest Chicken Pasta - Another OK dinner. Next time, instead of pasta, I will try rice. 

So this week we have gone to Italy, Ireland, India, Thailand, Canada and Mexico. This is good.

...Take it or leave it.
(hehe, love that saying.)

There is something that I had done before that I found helpful and I don't know why I didn't continue with it when I returned back to work.  Menu planning is what I am talking about.  A half hour to an hour for a week of knowing what's for dinner and what to buy grocery shopping.  It really did help me with the "what to make for supper" dilemma each day.  So I am trying this again.

I don't use anything fancy, just some cookbooks,, and my list of days of the week.  As well, i just plan for supper, sometimes for breakfast or lunch if there is something special, but for the most part it is supper that is my hang up. 

So here is this weeks menu plan.  I'm trying some new recipes so if they are good I will add the recipes here. 

Monday - Stromboli (baked sandwich/loaf) - This was really good. I'll do it again. Family loved it and I also made this for another family and they loved it  too. 

Tuesday - Tortilla Soup - This was OK. I'll stick with taco soup instead.

Wednesday - Steak and Potatoes - Another good recipe for the crockpot. Tasted more like a roast than steak, but then again you can't beat the BBQ.

Thursday - Chicken Supreme - blech - nuf'said.

Friday - Fish and Rice - Fish had always been a challenge for me. I'll keep trying.

Saturday -  Leftovers

Sunday - Chicken Pasta Bake - ended up trying homemade gnochi instead.  Yummy.

It started as a regular Monday, for us at least.  Buddy had a routine post chemo appointment at the hospital, all well, and then off to school.  It was just me and Peanut for the rest of day until school was over.  Peanut and I ran a couple errands, headed home and just settled into an activity when the phone ran.  I recognized the number, it was the school calling, which usually is never a problem.  This time not the case.  The principal had informed me that Buddy had
fallen on the school playground and they think he hurt his knee, not sure but Buddy doesn't want to moved, let alone walk so they have called an ambulance.

It's a strange feeling coming to the school, seeing an ambulance driving across the school field, walking up to where everyone is standing and seeing Buddy laying on the ground.  Him, not knowing what to say, just whimpered when he saw me.  The paramedics were examining him, asking me how much he can speak and if I can get him to talk.  I tried, but no luck, he was in pain and shock and was not about to focus his attention on telling me what happened.  Unfortunately, no adult saw him actually fall either.  We could easily see it had to do with his right leg, but without Buddy talking didn't know if it was his knee, leg or hip... or even his back or neck.  Buddy got put on back board and neck brace and went for a ride in an ambulance.  Now Peanut was with me at the time but with Buddy on a his way to the hospital, Peanut stayed at school with the Principal until Daddy came to pick him up and wait at home for updates from Mommy via the iPhone.  (Love the iPhone.)

I have to say this experience in ER was a good one.  Often you hear of long waits going late into the night with no action until the early morning.  Not so this time.  Buddy came  in after 2pm, got examined, x-rayed and into surgery by 7:30ish pm. 
Between 9-10pm he was in his room with the nurses getting him settled in for the night.  Not bad, eh.  During this time I was relieved to give updates that neck and hips were fine and it was clearly a broken femur, which is bad enough on its own, but still much relieved it was not anything else.  The Dr. explained the options for "fixing" his leg being either body cast or rods.  Weighing the pros and cons, decided with rods in the legs.  This is never an easy choice because no matter what, a broken femur is simply painful at best.  Buddy had morphine to help with the pain for the first 24 hours and than it was codeine and Tylenol. 
Our little Buddy is an amazing trooper.  This is not to say it was an easy trip.  Even with the pain meds, when physio came in to get him sitting up and then transferred to a wheelchair he was screaming.  What made it OK was once in position he would
settle.  Which they tell me is good, but as Mom watching on the sidelines, it was terrible none the less.  Really, when is any screaming at the top of your lungs good.  In case your wonder, yes, I was crying see him go through this.  Who wouldn't.
By the third day we were discharged.  Unbelievable, but glad to go home.  I had my doubts because how were we to move him without hurting him.  But with two us moving him, one to pick him up and the other to hold/support his leg, we would move him.  We had rearranged our work schedule to be home with him and whoever was at work would come home during the lunch hour to help move him from either laying on his mattress to the wheelchair or other way around.  Both of us were chicken to try to move him alone for the first several days.  Eventually we found ways to pick him up and support the broken leg by ourselves which began to make things easier.  As the swelling went down Buddy was also able to handle more without
screaming.  Except at night.  You know, everything is always worse at night.  When he would first fall asleep it would be for about four hours, and then up every 2 hours or less for the rest of the night crying "knee hurt".  The worse part would be when we couldn't give him more codeine yet.  Carefully, we would straighten out his leg, gently rub it and hope he would settle quickly.  Most of the time he would settle, sometimes not.  But come morning he would generally be happy and content again.  Around two weeks into this we got around a lot of the daytime pain, the night time pain seemed to linger longer.  We took shifts who would be on duty for night time so that we could have a night of uninterrupted sleep if going to work the next day.

So how did Buddy break his leg?  Well from all the pieces of information that we have put together from school, we are pretty confident that he tried to go down the fireman pole on the playground.  I'm sure with all the other kids going on it, Buddy totally ignored the adults telling him "no" when the opportunity arose with no one actually watching him that exact second.  Buddy hasn't spoken much about the incident except for one time, about three weeks later, when I asked him how he broke his leg he replied "I go weeeee down, and leg hurt."  Buddy has Down syndrome, and while active and capable of a lot of things, a fireman pole is still something not for him.  He may not always look like he does, but he has low muscle tone
which would make it hard for him to really hold on to a pole and hard for him to land on his feet without falling.  Buddy's speech is also delayed making it harder for him to tell us things.  And there is the added element of having just finished chemo treatment for leukemia not even just 3 months earlier.

Currently Buddy is coming up to 5 weeks since the accident.  He is doing so much better now and sleeping better through the night too.  He went back to school, in a wheelchair, and was so happy to go back as he was getting board at home, especially with the other two at school.  While he is still not walking on his leg, which might be the case for a bit longer, The Dr said his leg is healing beautifully and whenever he is ready to start standing on it and walking to go ahead and let him.  Buddy also had a bone mineral density test done to check the condition of his bones as the extensive steroid use while on
chemo, can sometimes cause bone damage, and happy to say that his bones are good, so he isn't at a higher risk of breaking bones. We are very thankful that all is going well,... and we think its time that one of the other kids take one
for the team.

Several months ago I had a dream that stuck with me.  I enjoy walks/hikes and this is how this dream started off.  I was walking along a trail on a beautiful sunny day and remarking to myself how perfect this hike was when I abruptly came upon a cliff.  So abruptly that I simply stepped right off it without even seeing it.  I landed in a raging river and while sputtering back to the surface I'm thinking to myself "How did I not see it? I don't normally walk off cliffs... this can't be happening." While I'm trying to keep myself afloat and staring at the tall cliff I just walked off, I hear a voice behind me saying "Hey, come, follow me this way".  I turn to see someone afloat in a tube in the same raging river but smiling while waving me on, "The end of the river is this way, you'll be OK."  Still numb and unable to think, I just start to swim my way along side her and begin to notice that the water doesn't seem as raging and I'm able to swim smoother.  Getting over the shock, I look ahead and I see that there are others swimming in the same river towards the river's end, which in the distance looks so much more calmer.  My goal becomes, 'get to the end of the river.'  As I swim I start to feel stronger and I look back at the cliff I had walked off and to my surprise I see someone walking off it like I did, and some more already in the water behind me.  I holler back to them to "Come, this way, you'll be OK!"

As I'm swimming along and gathering with others swimming and floating along the way I notice that there is a couple at the shore edge being helped out of the water.  My first thought was "hey, how come they get to get out earlier", but quickly
change my thought to "its better to stay in the river" as I see and hear their cries.  Yes, stay in the river and swim to the end, that is best place to be.

I woke up shortly after that.  That was where we were in our journey of childhood cancer with our middle child.  We had walked off a cliff we didn't see, floundered a bit as we asked "why, why our son, why our son with special needs, why our family, why us, why me."  We found our way among others on a similar journey ahead of us that were more than willing to be supportive and encouraging.  And yes, the reality of those who left the journey early to start a different journey of loss and grief. 

Now we are further down the river.  The waters are calmer and the sky sunnier.  The river is still going on.  How long is it, I don't really know... but I like swimming too and we are together.

Z is coming close to the end of his chemo treatment.  Aug 28th is the day I think, it was awhile ago the Dr told me so I may be off a bit, but end of August for sure.  That may still seem long off to some but in a three and half year treatment protocol, this is pretty close to the end.  For the longest time I didn't even think about "how much longer" because it was so far off, but once the calendar flipped to 2011, I unfortunately have been thinking more about this end date, the light at the end of the tunnel.

"Unfortunately" you ask? 
Why?  Isn't this something to look forward too?  Well yes, it is something to look forward too, but it can become obsessive too.  You know the count down, imagining not having to remember oral chemo meds to give, getting Rx filled, Dr appointments, health, low counts and chicken pox.  I have been so caught up on thinking about when this is all done that I started to get upset and annoyed that I still have too right now.  Last Saturday I was thinking about how I am just sick and tired of having to always think and remember what meds Z needs and also sick and tired of how grumpy he can be because of some of these meds.  So what should happen to a mom already really feeling annoyed and bothered by chemo
life.... a fever.  Z started running a fever and had to go in the hospital to get checked out and was admitted to be put on antibiotics, run tests and monitor.   Great, just great.

We've been through this all before, so nothing new, but it was a good reminder to me to get back to 'one day at time'
thinking and stop focussing on the light at the end of the tunnel and just be in the present.  Guess what... I'm not annoyed anymore... for now at least... I'm only human.
Seems that everyone remembers to be thankful at Thanksgiving weekend and I am no different as we do have lots to be thankful for.  First, we GET TO celebrate Thanksgiving around table of food with family and friends.  We GET TO because we have food and family.  We take that all for granted but it is still true none the less.  And with that I encourage everyone to drop food off at a food bank collection and share in your abundance whatever it is and when you are sitting around your table with your family, take a look at them all and at the very least say "thank you" in your heart that everyone at your table is with you this year.

We have an extra thing to be thankful for this year.  It is our biggiest, most bestest thankful thing and it is that our son finished a long 3 1/4 years of chemotherapy at the end of August.  I was reminded last night when an ear infection started on him and I brought him in to get checked out.  I expected it to be a quick look and antibiotics and we are out, but he also had a fever.  Since he is considered immune compromised for several month after chemo as well, that meant blood tests to check his counts which if they were low he would be admitted, which in turn would mean not able to attend and host thankgiving dinners this weekend.  It's happened before and you learn to roll with it, but I'm am very thankful that his counts were good after all and he could go home with antibiotics and a follow up on Wednesday.  

So this Thanksgiving we also GET TO be together as a family.  

Yes, I am  Thankful.

A few nights back, coming home from from my daughter's music lesson, we stopped  at Walmart for something and on the way back out my daughter tells me "I smell something yummy... McDonald french fries... Can we get some?" My response was no. A week earlier our son on chemo treatment had a fever and was admitted in  the hospital, and when he is either hubby or myself stay with him. Usually I'm there and hubby spells me off in the evenings so I can have a break. (It really
is not fun but I'll have to post about that some other time.) So as a special treat I took the other two kids to McDonalds for supper one night. The next day I went back in to be with our son and hubby went to a fishing show in Toronto with the two kids and a friend as was planned prior to the hospital stay. Along the way to Toronto they all had stopped at Wendy's.

So back to this night when asked about getting fries, the reason for saying no was she had two fast foods recently and that was more than enough and she was pretty lucky to have had those "treats". She said ok and paused abit and then commented "we only go to McDonalds when Z goes in the hospital, right?" I answered "yup, that's generally when we do that."  Her next words were, with hands clasped together, "Dear God, please make Z have..." and then started giggling as I interrupted with "oh don't you do that" and than we laughed together. Its not always easy with a sibling with special medical needs, so it's nice to have a good giggle when seeing the positive side of things, even if it is just being able to go to