Another Fantastic Adventure Coming Up

The Dragon-Fixit family is preparing to hit the road again. In just 47 days we’ll be heading off for a two-week adventure in Vietnam, birthplace of Creative Cat. With the help of the wonderful staff at The Ties Program we have planned our most adventurous, exciting trip yet. We’ll be hiking through the Sapa Valley and rock-climbing and kayaking in Halong Bay.

Follow along with us as we get ready to travel, and then follow along with the trip. It’s one adventure after another for this family, and this next trip is going to be our best yet!

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My Cat Speaks to Me. No, Really.

The other night I was in a deep sleep, when I was startled awake by the sound that is guaranteed to wake any mom, any time: a pitiful child’s voice quavering, “Moooommmmmm?” I fought my way to consciousness and looked around blearily. It was just beginning to be light – around 5 am, perhaps – and there were no children in my room. I listened carefully. No one was stirring. With my mommy senses I could tell that all my children were sleeping. I must have dreamed the voice. Only the cats were awake, and when they saw me stirring they jumped up onto the bed for a few lazy pats before I let myself relax and drift back to sleep.

A few minutes later, it happened again. Again the pitiful sound of a child squeaking, “Mooommmmm?” brought me to full alertness. Only this time I knew what it was. And fortunately, Mr. Fixit had also awoken and could back me up on this, because I was going to sound like a crazy person if I was the only witness.

It was the cat. Phoenix the girl cat, to be precise. She likes to wake me at 5 am for some quiet petting before the rest of the house awakes. I’ve learned to ignore the usual kind of meows while I’m sleeping, but now she’s learned to make the one sound that’s guaranteed to jolt me into full consciousness at any time. “Moooommmmm?”

Cute during daylight hours. Less cute at 5 a.m.

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Sometimes He Surprises Me in a Good Way

Tonka had his birthday party today, at a gymnastics centre. Having outsourced the actual party, and having devoted much energy to preparing for his sister’s birthday celebration two days ago, and to dealing with Queenie’s predictable-but-still-exhausting emotional difficulties with celebrating her two siblings’ birthdays within two days of each other, I didn’t plan much for Tonka’s party. I procured food, I invited friends and then invited siblings of friends to bring the number of guests up to a respectable size when several of the invitees couldn’t make it, I prepared loot bags at Tonka’s insistence…and then I did nothing more. The party was to be an hour of gymnastics, led by an energetic young person, followed by an hour in the party room, with Mr. Fixit and I on our own to entertain the kids. I planned nothing for that second hour except snack foods. I figured we could play a rousing game of Simon Says if we needed to…but I doubted we would need to.

I was right. The nine kids, ranging in age from five to almost ten years old, talked and ate and entertained themselves. Naturally, with two Fixit kids in attendance the conversation turned to Harry Potter. Tonka blurted out our favourite line: “Not my daughter you bitch!” A shocked silence descended on the room. I rushed over to Tonka to explain that we don’t say that word in PUBLIC, only at HOME. The kids giggled nervously and the party resumed.

Near the end of the allotted party time, I urged Tonka to hand out the loot bags to his guests. There was an extra bag made up for a friend who hadn’t bothered to RSVP (I would be annoyed but we already know I’m guilty of doing the same thing) and Tonka, without hesitating for a minute, handed it over to his friend Sally (not her real name). Her mother protested, “You already gave her a loot bag, Tonka – this must be for someone else.” “No,” he replied calmly, “it’s for Sally’s little sisters.” Sally and her mother thanked him – but he wasn’t done. Tonka pulled out the main feature of his own loot bag – a large tube of bubble solution – and handed it to Sally’s mother. Now the family had three tubes of bubbles for their three daughters. Tonka knew we didn’t have any more of those tubes at home, and he certainly knew that Queenie wasn’t going to share hers with him. He gave away something of his own for a younger child. It was true empathy, and it was completely his own idea.

I can eventually teach him not to swear in public. But it would be far more difficult to teach him to be as kind and empathetic as he was this afternoon. It just comes naturally to him, and I couldn’t be prouder of my potty-mouthed little boy tonight.

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Happy Harry Day

Tonight I take Cat, Queenie, and two of Cat’s friends to the midnight opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. In IMAX 3D, because that was the only theater that had five tickets available. First we will have a little birthday party for Cat – her favourite dinner of spring rolls, summer rolls and chocolate cake, a cool craft (we’re making Monster Books of Monsters), and time to visit with her friends, whom she hasn’t seen since school ended.

But really, it’s all about the movie. The coolest movie of the summer. It’s about being up way past bedtime, hanging out in a dark theater, wearing the silly glasses and eating junk food, waiting for good to vanquish evil for all time.

Best birthday party ever. For Cat and for me. I can’t wait.

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Four Different Kinds of Awesome in One Sentence

Ten-year-old Creative Cat, while preparing spring rolls with me: “When I go to university, I’ll probably have to make spring rolls with a pot of oil on the stove because I won’t have a deep fryer.”

Yes. To all of the above.

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Glorious Summer

Summer is in full swing here at The Burrow. We started with visits from various aunts, uncles, and cousins on the Dragon side of the family as soon as school let out. Literally – I took the girls to climbing class the afternoon of their last day of school, and before I could fight my way home through the crosstown rush-hour traffic, my sister and her three children had broken into my house and tamed my vicious guard dog. Well, not really. They entered through the front door using the security code I had given them, and the dog tried to jump up and lick all their faces. Still. A couple of days later we met up with my brother and his wife and Dog Who Is Too Big To Be Allowed at the cottage, and had another few days of easy back-and-forth with them.

After a fun few days of visiting, our company all went home and our we went back to our usual unscheduled summer. Around here summer is relaxed and easy. The kids sleep late and eat when they want. Summer is when the neighbourhood kids reconnect after a long school year of busy-ness and attending separate schools, but it’s also a time for longer and deeper playdates with friends they only get to see for a few hours at a time during the school year. The kids and their friends play on bikes, scooters, the trampoline, swingset, and run around the neighbourhood. In our yard they jump in and out of the pool; in their friends’ yards they run through the sprinkler or play on a slip and slide. Sometimes I find them sitting in a cool bedroom reading books together, or sitting on the porch doing crafts. I dispense lemonade by the gallon, and every few hours I set out food – a plate of watermelon wedges, a tray of sandwiches, a box of popsicles. Whichever children happen to be here help themselves as they run past. I never seem to have all of my own children here at once, but I never seem to have fewer than two or three children here at a time, either.

I hope they never forget what it feels like to wake up in the morning with nothing they have to do and a whole world of things they can do. I hope they remember this time with smiles, and never stop trying to re-create this feeling of total freedom. That’s what summer is all about for a kid, isn’t it? Glorious, glorious freedom.

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Adventures in Speech Therapy

The boy is almost finished with speech therapy, although he still has some language therapy ahead of him. He’s worked hard over the past four years and he’s made incredible progress. The only speech issue that remains is a tendency to gloss over certain consonant combinations. “Lift” becomes “lit”, for example. This is not uncommon in young children. Another issue is the tendency to confuse some less-commonly heard words with better-known words – such as saying “holy” instead of “holly”. Again, this is not an unusual speech pattern for a child his age.

So if these speech issues are not so uncommon in a child Tonka’s age, and Tonka is precisely the age at which children are interested in the movie CARS 2 – why, WHY did Disney name a character in the movie “Holly Shiftwell”? Three times this morning I’ve heard the words “Holy shit” dropping from my five year old’s lips.

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