Sunday, May 01, 2016

You Are My Love

As the father of an autistic child, there are times when I've experienced what can only be comparable to as a sense of grief; that the idea of what and who my child will grow to be does not fit in with "the plan". These are thoughts that will of course be distasteful to hear.  But it's honest, and only through being honest with myself and others can I work through them.
Kyle is now eight years old, and is proving to be quite the wizard with computer gaming.  He seems to have the same instincts as I do with new games and programs - only far more amplified.  It's amazing to see his dexterity on a computer keyboard and mouse, almost like they were extensions of his own body.  However, we don't want to let this be the only thing he's good at.  In our opinion, it's not good for him to have computers be his only outlet, and we have been trying to get him involved in more activities.  So far our success rate is fairly low.

We do have some optimism though, and something has slowly been changing.  After years of going through the processes of getting him extra support in school and ABA therapy, Kyle's doctor prescribed some anti-anxiety medication.  The first attempt failed quickly, as he seems to have the same problem taking pills as his older brother does, but then we landed on a solution to that: chewable tablets.

Kyle had already shown some indications that he knew he was "different"; that he didn't necessarily fit in with most of his peers.  So, he didn't fight us in the slightest when it came down to creating a schedule for his medication.  In fact, he would remind us about giving him a pill if he thought we had forgotten.  Slowly but surely, his attitude seems to be taking a turn for the better.  He still can be difficult about trying new things, as he has a fear of failure, but when we bolster ourselves to work hard on getting him to shake things up we're getting some wins.

This weekend, we had been doing a lot of yard cleanup, and were having a fire to burn a lot of the scrap wood and branches that had been collected.  At one point I used my foot to kick some wood into the heart of the flames and he protested my proximity to the fire.  "Don't burn yourself because you are my love.", he said.  Shocked at this statement I stupidly just asked, "What, isn't mommy your love?"; like I couldn't possibly be first on his list or anything.  He thought for a few moments and then answered, "You are both my love."

We get Wow factors in our lives, and I think this was one of them for me.  I've met so many fellow parents of autistic children who look desperately for any sign of compassion and caring in their children and I know how lucky I am to have had this moment come from Kyle.  My wife and I now have a door to use with him.  We know that his awareness spreads out to others, and this is something we will capitalize on and inform his teachers, mentors and specialists to work on.

Kyle is growing up.  And our hearts grow with him.  As does my belief in how wonderful he will be as he grows.  It may not be what I originally set out for him to be.  It will more likely be better.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Bad Dad and Star Wars

Tonight I broke down and decided to go see the new Star Wars movie.  By myself (with the blessing of my wife, of course....I'm not crazy).  Why didn't I take my children, you may ask?  With two boys aged ten and seven, you would think they'd be jumping all over the place to go be part of this popular culture and spend a movie night with their dad.  It's a sordid story, alas.
I've been trying to get Nathaniel interested in Star Wars for a number of years now.  It's not been one of my success stories.  And it's always made me a little sad.  Kyle is mostly indifferent to movies...except for the popcorn.
I remember back to my days of being their age and being so ecstatic when I first sat down to watch the original two back to back in a downtown Toronto theatre.  The awe and wonder of hearing John Williams score blast out at the audience and the thrilling idea of the scrolling text which introduces each movie.  The rotoscoping effect of the lightsabers and the climatic battles between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi...they just called out to something inside of me and I could watch them over and over again.  And I did.
Beyond that, as I suffer from a bit of a completionist complex, I collected many of the books in the expanded universe and even didn't find as many faults with the prequel trilogy as others did.  Were they as good as the original three?  Well, no...but they were still good enough stories on their own.
I've been on holidays since December 23rd, and I've been dropping hint after hint to Nate that it's been awhile since he first tried watching Star Wars with me and maybe it was time for him to try again.  At the time he found the introductory exposition to be a tad slow, but now he's watched other movies that have the same kind of plot devices and seemed to do ok.  We just watched Ant-Man the other day and it starts at about the same pace.  That can't be his excuse.
Then there is the fear factor.  As I had deliberately been avoiding spoilers like the plague I wasn't aware whether there would be any extremely frightening scenes.  I didn't want a repeat of Jurassic World.  That was a movie I decided to be Good Dad and take BOTH of my kids to.  I mean, boys and dinosaurs, match made in heaven, right?  Nope.  Both kids were terrified once the Indominus Rex showed its true colours and announced they wanted to leave.  First time ever that I had to leave a movie early.  It hurt.
As a social media and entertainment news junky, I am constantly surrounded by sources of information that are wanting to discuss the movie.  In great detail.  I knew that unless I wanted to go hide in a cave or on an island in the middle of a large body of water (ahem) for a few months I would be torn between giving into spoiler rich conversation about what happens to certain characters or just going to go watch the darn or no kids.
So, tonight I chose to be the bad dad in my head and I didn't take my kids to Star Wars.  I shouldn't be guilty, but part of me still is.
Will he be mad at me tomorrow?  If so, I'll explain that the movie was only for those who had watched the original three.  If that works...I'd happily go again....and I get my Star Wars buddy like I always wanted.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remember...and honour.

I attended the Belle Ewart Legion Remembrance day parade along with the 1st Alcona Scouting movement on Sunday. Before the post parade ceremony began, the reverend took a few minutes to approach all of the boys and girls in our group to speak to us directly (with the idea that all youth should listen in).  As few of them will have context as to what a soldier really does beyond anything they see in a video game, she raised a very good point that we should honour all service people, whether they be military, police, paramedics, firefighter, etc; a sentiment that I heartily agree with. Their time and dedication to others must be respected and honoured.
As I consider the point, I think we also should remember their spouses who would see them off; in some cases knowing there would be months or even years of space in between the next time they would see again. In too many cases it was never.
Today I honour the memory of my grandparents, Bill and Elizabeth Norton. But I also send respect and honour to my friends who have or still all capacities.
Thank you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Submissions Wanted

My wife Melanie has a new project and is seeking your assistance with making it a reality.

We are seeking submissions from those of you who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or feel that they have one.
  • Are you misunderstood and want the opportunity to set the record straight?
  • Are you willing to be completely honest with yourself and others?
  • Are you tired of others telling you it's "all in your head and/or you are making it all up" ?
  • Do you know that you want to do something so badly but your own mind makes you stop?
  • Can you describe your thoughts?  Perceptions?  Feelings?  Wants?
  • Do you have Depression/Anxiety/ADHD/Bi-Polar, Etc; 
  • What occurs to you in those dark moments?
  • Does something in you feel release afterwards?

We also are seeking entries from those who are living with or who have lived with someone with a mental illness.  We need to get an understanding from you on how you cope.  How understanding do you really feel you are?

Are you unable to put your thoughts into words but could do something artistic instead?  We would love to see it.

Once we have enough submissions, we will begin compiling them into a book.  Consider each story as a piece of the puzzle, each piece carefully considered and placed to help tell a better narrative. 

We want your stories so that others can find some hope in a moment of darkness.  That they are not alone.  We have an opportunity to learn from each other and break the stigma of mental illness.

Email to:

Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Charger

This week I fulfilled the 7th speech of 10 towards my Advanced Communicator Bronze certification at Toastmasters.  The speech topic I chose was Moral of the Story from the Storyteller's manual.  After a lot of thought (and I mean a lot - I went back and forth on this one for 8 months) and research into different moral tales, I decided to do a modern take on a particular Aesop's fable, one called "The Ass and the Charger".

The original goes as following:

The Ass and the Charger
An Ass congratulated a Horse on being so ungrudgingly and carefully provided for, while he himself had scarcely enough to eat, nor even that without hard work. But when war broke out, the heavy armed soldier mounted the Horse, and rushed into the very midst of the enemy, and the Horse, being wounded, fell dead on the battle-field. Then the Ass, seeing all these things, changed his mind, and commiserated the Horse, saying: "How much more fortunate am I than a charger. I can remain at home in safety while he is exposed to all the perils of war." 

Moral of Aesops Fable:  Be not hasty to envy the condition of others.

Here is my version; one that I decided to call The Charger in honour of the original fable.  The speech had to only be 4-6 minutes in length so I've had to leave some details with rather loose hanging threads, but it's one that I may adapt for a longer version later on.  After I finish writing my next speech (Wreckers), we will see.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


I posted on Facebook yesterday that Google maps showed that I had walked 9km last night.  Now, not that it matters that much but in all efforts to be transparent with my new exercise regime I must admit that Google appears to have led me astray.

I wore my Nike+ gear for my walk tonight and even after adding a new path on my tour my iPod touch showed that I only did 7.7km over 1.5 hours.  This included walking up and down all the streets in the Belle-Aire Beach area, and looping back to the darkened streets of Belle Ewart.

I'm taking advantage of the weather we've had to try to get myself back into a slightly better shape.  With the winter coming, I know there will soon be days ahead where I won't want to do as much outdoors exercise as I've been doing lately so might as well enjoy it when I can.   

I do find walking to be very therapeutic, and not only physically.  I remember the early days of moving out on my own.  I was living in a completely trashy location and had very little money to invest on indoor entertainment so I would spend hours walking up and down the streets of the town I was in.  I was a little depressed then about my situation so being able to just focus on the geography of the streets while pumping great travelling music through my walkman would cheer me up.

I am in a much better place these days mentally, but the stagnation of just ending my evenings in my office working away sometimes gets to me.  Sure, I still ended up here but at least I know I'm rewarding myself for doing something fulfilling.  I also get ideas for the multitide of projects I have on my plate, whether that be writing, Toastmasters and even my day job at DAC.

As to that...I'm going to spend a few minutes on some of that.  Here's hoping the weather holds up for tomorrow!

Podcast of the day: Tech Stuff

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Contests and more

I took a couple weeks off to concentrate on some other projects.  This includes helping my wife with a fundraising effort for my kids school that involved some letter writing projects, so I'll include those as my own writing.  I didn't break the chain, as many of the podcasting writers I look up to, such as Mur Lafferty say not to that feels good.

Let me start tonight by filling you in on the details of the Division Humorous Speech Contest I competed in earlier in the month.  I have to say, this was probably the most relaxed I've ever been while delivering a speech.  I had spent the week or so prior looking over the structure of "Vivid"; trying to find spots where I can draw out some extra humour and create some choreography in my staging so I can time out the spots I anticipated laughs or to create some extra physical gestures.

Then I reached a point about two days prior to the contest where I just said screw it.  I realized I didn't care that much anymore about actually winning this particular contest, I just wanted to have fun and do as much justice to my source material as possible.  With that I showed up and found I that I could socialize with my fellow Toastmasters from both my own and other clubs and prepare to laugh and hope to gain some laughs myself.

I felt really good during the speech.  I was relaxed, made lots of natural eye contact and got a lot of great laughs.  It felt good and seemed the perfect length.  The other competitors, all six of them also delivered great speeches, and I knew that the judges would have a tough time choosing the winner.

Then the table topics contest began.  There were eight of us this time, and I drew the first lot so I got to watch all of the other competitors.  The topic given was "Surprise!", and the first though that popped into my head as I reached the stage to shake the Chairpersons hand was to base it on deciding not to find out beforehand whether Melanie and I were having a boy or girl during pregancy.  It felt good, I got my opening, body and conclusion out solidly, and I saw the heads bobbing in the audience so I knew they liked my speech.  I wrapped it up about 20 seconds after seeing the green light come on. 

This is where I'm glad I was able to watch the rest compete.  I noticed something some of them did that I neglected to do.  They fit in more material and pushed the time they had right up until they reached the red light (30 seconds after red is a disqualification).  I'm going to work on that for next time. 

I did not place at all for Table Topics.  The winner for that was Eric Solowka from the Bolton Banter Toastmasters group.  He made it

For the speech contest...I took third place, which I'm quite happy with.  The winner was Mireille McNeil from Midland Toastmasters, who delivered a hilarious speech about a womans monthly cycle.

I had no qualms with the judging, and it was a very friendly, well organized contest.  I now have some extra techniques that I will use for the next time...because oh yes, there will be a next time; and now I just have to enjoy the next couple of months before the International Speech Contest cranks up in February.  I already have my idea, and I just need to start writing it.

I have seven, yes that's right, seven writing projects on the go right I may not blog as consistantly as I would like...but the writing is progressing, and that's what really matters in the end.

See you next time....

Music Playing While I Wrote: John Lennon - Acoustic

Podcast of the day: The Pod F. Tompkast