Archive for the Uncategorized Category

I want…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 10, 2014 by penelopegeorge

I want….

I want…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 10, 2014 by penelopegeorge

Image

Thank you, Christine, for sending this image.

I want to live and breathe. I want the sunshine, the flowers, the patter of rain and slashes of lightening. I want the power outage so I can feel the great sense of relief when the lights come back on.

I want the ordinary. I want the mundane, the routine. I want the stacks of laundry, the piles of papers, so I can feel a sense of accomplishment when they are gone. I want them all to return, like a cycle, so I can tackle a chore with the confidence that I know just what to do.

I want the new experiences, the challenges, the opportunities for growth and wisdom. I want to look back and laugh at what wasn’t funny at the time. I want the surprises that make me think and make me smile. I want the harder road sometimes, because there is so much to see.

I want to love, and to share that light. I want to sit in perfect harmony with one I love so I can feel the vibration of my soul as it matches another’s. I want to fight, so I can forgive or be forgiven and rekindle our connection through the gratitude of knowing the storm has passed.

I want inner light, that glow that comes from happiness. I want that so I can put it forward, so I can light up a life that is getting dark. I want to bring joy and peace more than I want to have it.

I want to believe in the spirit. I want to feel mine, and theirs. I want to touch those who share this Earth with me now, and I want to be touched by those who have come before me, and left.

I want to see heaven. I want the beauty and the ever-present and all-encompassing love. I want to know what is waiting for me because it will make the hardships less. I can get though the days that leave me broken because I know I will be fixed and whole again when it is time.

I want to be connected with God. I want the guidance and the patience that He offers to those willing to take it. I want Him to know I will walk His path wherever I see it, and if I wander off the path I want to know He will light it up for me because He knows I will come back.

Knowing What I Know…Would I Do It All Again?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6, 2014 by penelopegeorge

Knowing What I Know…Would I Do It All Again?.

I’m Only Here for the Life Experience

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 22, 2013 by penelopegeorge

Over the many, many years I have graced this Earth, I’ve met – and usually worked with – nearly every personality type. I presume I’ve dodged meeting any serial killers, and since not everyone in my acquaintance can say the same thanks to a local pig farm, I am both proud and relieved to have missed this group. I have worked with gossips, backstabbers, flirts, bullies, princesses, doormats, passive-aggressive, born-again Christians, and circle-the-wagons cliques. I’ve also worked with excellent parents, open hearts, quick wits, generous minds, and helpful hands. It will surprise no one to know that these two groups – the good and the bad – are describing the same people.

Early on, I figured out that most folks are both wonderful and not. We all have good qualities, and by knowing who was good at what, and playing to their strengths, I could make even the most unbearable situations liveable. And turning the other cheek is much easier when you understand it is less a personal issue and more just them being human.

At some point in my life, I decided to own my flaws. After all, I am human, too. I knew my strengths, and I used them as much as possible, but I also knew where I struggled. I purposely learned as much about myself as possible. Reflections, experiments, memories, emotional growth, parenthood, and countless inspirational posts on Facebook have aided my path to the person I am within, and I’ve become aware of many traits that make “me”.

1)      I rarely get offended. It must be obviously both rude and petty.

2)      I forgive quickly.

3)      Unless it’s over my kids. “Forgive” and “forget” don’t ever apply when the offense is over my kids.

4)       I like to make people laugh.

5)      I actually like my own company.

6)      I actually like the company of others.

7)      I judge the value of a book by how many times I reread it.

8)      I can have my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground if I make myself stand very tall.

9)       Life gives us no guarantees, good or bad.

10)  And sometimes, just sometimes, miracles come disguised as disasters. With the exception of children and windfall lotteries, we rarely grow during the good times. It’s the hard times, the times when we must reevaluate through our grief, when we must toss out everything we thought was going to be and open ourselves to possibilities, that make us truly who we are.

Who She Is

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by penelopegeorge

I know people are put off by Shayla’s autism. I’ve seen it firsthand, and though people try to be polite, you can’t sugercoat rejection. Because it hurts to see my daughter rejected for what she cannot help, I’m working on a simple “how to” list for people we come in contact with on a regular basis. This is not the final draft, but it’s a good start.

Shayla isn’t rude. She has trouble choosing the right words, and she does not understand body language. But she is trying to understand you, and she is trying to communicate back to you what she thinks you want to hear.

She isn’t ignoring you. It takes her longer to process what you said, with context, subtext, and possible meanings. She does this better when she is looking away, because everything else is a distraction.

All distractions are major for her. They divert her focus completely away from her task at hand. She cannot stop it. It’s as automatic to her as reading facial expressions is to you.

She is quite happy in the company of others without interacting. But she is always paying attention. She can be prompted to interact, but she does not do small talk and she does not have the social tools for initiating conversations.

She prefers to write rather than visit. When she’s texting,,emailing, or messaging, there is nothing for her to decode except the words on the page.

She isn’t lazy. She has challenges with Executive Function, the instinctive ability to analyze, plan, organize, and schedule. Without it she cannot plan how to complete a task, and she is overwhelmed.

She isn’t stupid. In fact, she is be quite smart, and her brain has created clever pathways to cover what isn’t firing right. But the way of the classroom does not work for her. Give her a YouTube video with a visual – step by step (there’s that executive function stuff again!) – and she can learn anything. Give her a classroom, without the visual aids but with all the peripheral distractions, a disinterested instructor, and social and context cues her brain cannot decode, and she is lost. Take her out of the classroom and plunk her down with the kids who have far greater challenges than she, and her senses become overwhelmed. Just because she is the highest functioning child in the room does not mean she is high functioning.

Her mind is never blank. When she looks spaced out or dazed, it’s because her attention is turned inward.

She wants friends, but she needs people who accept that she has autism. She can’t be like all the other kids and no amount of avoiding her will change that, but when everyone grows up she won’t seem as different. Most 14 year olds have a lot of growing up to do. She’s just growing up on her own path.

She has value. She is bright, funny, creative, and loving. She wants to marry and have a family. She is surrounded by people who love her, and who she loves, too. She matters.

Witchiepoo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 9, 2012 by penelopegeorge

Earlier this afternoon, the Kinder Canada facebook page (which is maintained by the fine makers of Kinder Surprise) posted one of those status updates that spark, like, 400 responses in just under three minutes. The update reads, “Think fast! What was your favourite childhood game, growing up?”

So, like a multitude of other like-minded Canadians I gave this question the two-second “think fast” thought. The answer was obvious. I bet only a handful of people played this game, and I bet I know them all. My favorite game growing up was called, “Witchiepoo”.

The game itself was simple enough, but there was a strict routine to follow. It was a great game for a large group of kids, and perfect if they were of diverse ages. I remember playing it with the group on my block in the way, way back. There were maybe a dozen or so kids at any given time around our neighborhood, aged from nursery school and up. Logically, there must have been a cut-off age for playing with the neighbor’s four-year-olds, but these kids were the mysterious “teenagers” who rarely came outside.

I’ve since taught it to a few other groups, but though the kids loved the game, it never caught on like I remember. It  does take several rounds of the game, led by a Witchiepoo expert, to cement the storyline into the other players. And like any routine, it takes practice to really get it down. Plus, the game dates so far back it actually references smoking. This is so not cool for today’s generation, but for us it was just plain silly and therefore utterly hilarious. There is actually a mom, smoking a pipe.

Ha ha ha! Women NEVER smoked pipes! They smoked cigarettes!

Come to think of it, there were some major child-abandonment issues inherent in the game. I seriously doubt any of us noticed.

The game required a minimum of five players: a mom, a witch (these were generally played by the older kids), and at least three kids to play “kids” (a role well within the acting chops of your average four-year-old). It required a spot on someone’s front lawn for the “mom’s house” and a spot on someone else’s lawn for the “witch’s house”. Someone else’s lawn could be a block away and around the corner. Didn’t matter. If you could get a visual on both lawns it was all good, and in fact some distance made the game even better (we’ll get to that part later). The only real estate rules for the moms and witches was, “Who has the most shade right now and won’t kick us off?” If you had something fun on your lawn, you were Witchiepoo Central. (Side note – there were places on the block you NEVER played. I was pretty sure the strange, mean woman on the corner transformed into a monster at night to seek revenge on the kids who dared play near her property. This was reinforced by some episodes we had with her while she was in her human form. And though now I can look back through the eyes of an adult and understand she had a mental illness and would likely have been sweet and kind had the condition been treated, she was scary-mean to me at six.)

The object of the game really wasn’t really an objective at all. It was a clever ruse to bring together a group of kids into a game where no one kept score, no one was “it”, and no one was “out”.

Scene: a hot day in the early afternoon. Everyone has eaten lunch and has been kicked outside to play. The only people wearing sunscreen are the kids who burn. Older kids are under death threat orders to watch over their younger siblings and to protect them from cars, dogs, strangers, falling asteroids, and ~shudder~ scary lady down the street. Any older kids without younger siblings were under the same orders. You did not get off the hook by being unrelated to the ones being watched.

The “quick draw” method of volunteering was used to choose Mom and Witchiepoo (the first one to call it, gets it). Gender did not matter. We might have had “dads” instead of “moms” sometimes, but I’m remembering the boys mostly talking in falsetto to stay in character. Homes were established, with the mom and kids on one lawn and Witchiepoo on the other.

Mom faced all her darling children, and in “eenie-meanie-mienie-moe” fashion picked a favorite from the group, using this little rhyme.

I’m going downtown

To smoke my pipe

And I won’t be back

‘Til Saturday night.

So lock the windows

And lock the doors,

And don’t let Witchiepoo in.

You. Are. In. Charge.

(Can’t you just hear the respect and admiration we had for our mothers?)

Mom would leave (she could go anywhere except Witchiepoo’s house) with appropriate death threats to Kid In Charge, which were amazingly similar to the ones received from Real Mom right before we were kicked outside. With Pipe Smoking Mom gone, Witchiepoo approached the house and knocked on the imaginary door. Witchiepoo always knocked, maybe because this was the days before home invasions and everyone, including serial killers, knocked. Kid In Charge would answer, and it was up to Witchiepoo to trick the kid into leaving the door open and unattended. “Can I borrow some sugar,” was a standby but the game was no fun unless Witchiepoo got creative.

Kid In Charge was never supposed to be bright, because they would always go and fulfill the request, complete with all pretending actions, while leaving the other children unattended. Witchiepoo would approach a random kid to lure him or her outside in some manner we all knew never to fall for, such as, “Want some candy?” or “Help me find my lost puppy.” Witchiepoo then took random kid to her “house”. Next, Mom returns, does a head count, and gets Kid In Charge in Big Trouble. She then immediately lines up the kids to pick a favorite again.

But here’s the best part. Witchiepoo had to pick a category, like colors, shapes, or flowers, and assign each kid a word from that category. It was up to the kid to remember his secret code word, but if you were likely to forget the backup plan was to tell everyone else in the hopes that someone remembered.

Eventually, Mom came home to an empty house. Only then does Mom head to Witchiepoo’s and demand her offspring back. Witchiepoo had to give the name of the category. If it was colors, Mom had to name random colors until she had a “hit” and broke the spell over one kid.

Now we come to the reason why we had the “houses” so far apart. The kid who just had his code word called would beeline it to “home”. If you beat Mom there, you were safe. If Mom caught you there was a spanking. Spankings among the kids were pretty realistic so us little ones learned to run fast. This part continued until all kids were called and chased home. A new Mom and Witch were then chosen, again by quick draw, and the game started over again.

A round of Witchiepoo could take upwards of half an hour, depending on the number of players and how carried away we got with the various scenarios. We had some comedians in our group that made the game take a wondrous forever.

Childhood has changed, and the way I grew up is just not the way my kids or their friends live. We have more stuff and less time. We have schedules so tight cloud-watching is now played in the car more than on the grass. Organized sports have replaced front lawns for outdoor activity, but since no one merely drives anymore (how many drivers are phoning, texting, or eating while on the road?) getting the kids off the streets could be a good thing. And maybe Witchiepoo is gone, but I still have very fond memories of playing it with the neighborhood kids. So I say thanks to Witchiepoo, and to all the friends young and old who made it memorable.

That darn cat

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 by penelopegeorge

Some months ago, I permitted my daughter to get a cat. This was not a moment of weakness, but rather, I wanted a cat and I needed to tag-team my husband. My daughter was to use the big, sweet eyes on us, and I was to give in to her first. She and I make a great team.

I really like cats. I like dogs, too, but they require walking in all types of weather. Cats and I, we understand each other. They want love and affection on their terms, and otherwise they are very low maintenance. Like me, they need lots of solitude and sleep.

“Vanilla” was adopted from the pet store. We got him at the pet store because my husband was in charge of taking the kids to the shelter to pick a cat, and the pet store was closer and had better signage. (Thankfully, this store does not deal with pet mills.)  Vanilla wasn’t my daughter’s original choice, but the kitten she picked was one of a pair not yet available for adoption. The following week, we went back to buy it as a family.

My husband showed me the kittens. I took one look at the little balls of fluff and said, “No Siamese cats.”

I will quickly point out that I do not dislike Siamese cats. I have just learned to be leery of them. I’ve known three purebred Siamese cats, two on very long acquaintance, and they were all neurotic. Some people will argue that would describe all cats, but Siamese really do raise the bar. Of the three cats I knew, if they were human, they’d be the ones cutting off people in traffic and making obscene hand gestures. Or they would be standing on the street corner yelling for everyone to save himself, or they would stick their date with the check. I know for a fact their owners loved them to pieces, but I often felt it took a special kind of cat lover to truly want a Siamese for their very own.

But back at the pet store, my husband was confused. How did I know they were Siamese? Well, for starters, the sign on the window said Siamese, but other than that they had the markings of Siamese kittens.

Now, to calm the ire of Siamese cat lovers everywhere, I will confess that I would have lost the battle but for the fact the kittens still weren’t available for adoption. So, under the promise that the little darlings would, indeed, find a kind and loving home another day, I encouraged my daughter to pick a different cat, and we found Vanilla.

Vanilla was nearly all white, save for some orange on his ears and tail (in the months since his back has gotten quite orange, too). The staff informed me he was a Siamese/Snowshoe cross, but by this time my daughter had already cuddled the cat, which all parents know is as good as sold.

Okay, I thought, determined to find a bright side. He’s not all Siamese. He’s only half. I had no idea what a Snowshoe was, nor did the staff, and I assumed it was like Domestic Shorthair, an industry standard code name for “cat”. Snowshoe, I figured, had to refer to the abundance of white. Weeks after we brought Vanilla home, I Googled “Snowshoe cat”. This is what I found.

In 1965, a Siamese breeder had three kittens in a litter with very unique, non-Siamese markings. A breeding program was immediately begun. The name Snowshoe refers to the fact that only the paws are white.

So, no, I do not have a purebred Siamese. I have a Siamese/Siamese Mutant cross. How wonderful.

So far he has displayed several neurotic tendencies, battles all ankles who dare climb the stairs, and still prefers the wall-to-wall carpet to the EmeryCat board, of which I accidentally ordered six plus refills. (For all those who would send me letters defending their precious Siamese against the likes of me, know that the telephone menu at the EmeryCat order line was punishment enough.)

Vanilla also protects us all from drinking straws (he alone has learned those plastic tubes are “bent” on world domination), and will chase them all over the house. He also sits quietly for hours at a time, loves my daughter, tolerates my son, and keeps me in great company early in the morning when I’m the first one up. He leaves my yarn alone and seeks my lap over and over. He learned to trust me with a brush and is doing his best with the nail clippers. He doesn’t head-butt me awake at four in the morning, and he helps us keep the house clean by dumping clutter on the floor until we actually put it away.

I figure if I warn people he’s an ankle-nipper, I’ve done my duty.