Saturday, November 26, 2011

1st, 2nd, 3rd

I've shared before how I am the mother of three.  My eldest is now 7, my middle child is 4 and my youngest will be 2 in the New Year.  I was thinking this week how much we have changed as parents from child 1 to child 2 to child 3.  With Child 1 everything was new and exciting and sometimes nerve racking.  All stages were fascinating and we couldn't wait to move on to the next thing and note it down in the baby book.  Moments were shared very proudly with grandparents, great-grandparents and pretty much anyone who would listen.
Now that we are on Child 3 and knowing that she is our last I am finding we are holding on to every moment.  Not wanting her to get to the next stage just yet.  For example - my oldest was in a toddler bed at about 18 months.  It was exciting and he loved it.  Our youngest is currently 22 months and still in her crib.  I'm thinking probably around Christmas we'll convert her into the toddler bed, but there's no rush really.
We weren't nearly as relaxed with our first as we are now.  With our oldest there were lots of calls and questions to other parents and my own parents and our doctor asking, "Is he okay?", "Is that normal?", "Should that be happening?".  With our second and even more so with our third we would take note of their changes in behavior and think, "Oh that, you are doing that now".  And with those more frustrating stages of parenting knowing that there was an end in sight and it would probably take X amount of time to see it through.
It's so funny when I think back to the excited, nervous new parents we were taking our first home from the hospital in disbelief that they actually let us take him home to now when we feel like we know what we are doing.  We're now the people friends call to ask advice and ideas and spill their parenting questions to.  Somewhere along the way, we found our way and have become the so-called 'experts' - funny what experience does to you :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Shopping Help! - Empire Theatres

My own personal deadline is quickly approaching.  You see I hate being out in crowded malls (some thrive on it, I know) so I try my best to get all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November.  I start planning early and give it a good go.  It still never fails, there is always someone on my list who I just can't think of anything really great and special for.  I'm sure you have those people too.  Maybe it's your Dad who really has everything and when asked what he wants says, "I'm sure whatever you get will be fine."  We have a 19 year old nephew who was much easier to shop for as a little guy who loved Legos, but now you just never know.  Even his mom doesn't know.  It's a mystery to all of us.  That's when I find gift cards come in handy.  If you don't know exactly what they would like, but have a rough idea about what they enjoy, why not get a gift card.
In the past we have found a movie gift card works great.  Who doesn't love to go to the movies?  That's why I'm pleased that Empire Theatres has brought back their Holiday Gift Pack this year.  In the past we have bought Empire Theatres gift cards for friends, teachers, co-worker gift exchanges and yes, our hard to buy for nephew.  We've even put them on our own wish list because, let's face it, date night is a rare and precious commodity as parents of three small children!  Here's what you need to know about how their gift card program works:

When you purchase $30 in Empire Theatres’ Gift Cards you will receive $30 in Empire Theatres Coupons. For example:
o If you purchase 3 cards for $10 each you qualify;
o If you purchase $60 you would receive 2 bundles.

The coupon bundle includes:
o BOGO Admission (January 9 to January 31, 2012)
o $2.00 off any Combo - excluding Kid’s Pack (January 9 to January 31, 2012)
o $9.99 (Admission, Regular Drink, Small Popcorn) (February 1st to February 29th, 2012)
o Buy a Large Popcorn, get a Large Drink Free (March 1st to March 31st, 2012)
o $6.99 General Admission (March 1st to March 31st, 2012)
o Get $4.00 off a General Admission Ticket (April 1st to April 30th, 2012)

It's up to you what you want to do with the coupon bundle.  You can give it as a bonus gift for your friends and relatives, or, keep it for yourself to enjoy.  

For another dollar you can also purchase an Empire Theatres gift tin with proceeds going towards the Kid's Help Phone.

Gift Card packs are availble now until December 18th online and December 24th in theatres.  You can purchase them online ( or at the theatres themselves.  I know I've bought them at a special kiosk in the mall too.

I wish you well in your Christmas shopping adventures this year, hopefully this helps you out with that gift for that person (or persons) that are hard to shop for.

Disclosure – I am participating in the Empire Theatre Gift Card Holiday Campaign by Mom Central Canada.  I received compensation for my participation in this campaign.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Could this happen to you? - An Update!

A few months ago I first posted the sad, but true story of an autistic daughter in BC who was forcibly removed from the care of her loving, devoted father (original post here). 4 months have passed and little Ayn has still not been returned to her father, Derek. I have continued to follow the daily trials that Derek has been going through in attempting to have his daughter returned from the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development on a Facebook page that has been set up, called "Help Bring little Autistic girl back to her Daddy"  Today, Derek posted a media release on that site.  It is with great pleasure that I share this with you all. 

"Nov 4 2011

  It has now been over four and a half months since I have seen my daughter. I have given my all for her, from the first moment I laid my eyes on her in the delivery room I knew my heart was hers. I would never harm her, nor am I accused of such, I have done nothing except dedicate my life to try to nuture and understand her. She has been ripped from her family for no other reason then the misperception that she was an unmanageable deteriorating child. Nothing could be further from the truth, Ayn is a wonderful caring child. She is autistic yes and as such often has a hard time explaining what she wants; she has an astute understanding of body language and a very strong will. Though verbal and possessing a large vocabulary Ayn still struggles to share with others her desires, fears, and thoughts. She continues to ask for me, she continues to assert that I am coming... She knows I would not abandon her. Yet the Ministry of Children and Family Development continues to hold her from me. On Oct 18 the government sought court approval for temporary custody for 90 days, again I refused to consent to this, and since this is my continued stance an effort will be made to determine if trial is necessary or whether mutual consent can be achieved between the parties. This step is called the Case Conference and has been scheduled over 90 days away.... on Jan 23rd. If this is the case why ask for 90 days? Why even pretend to ask? My reasons for refusal will not be heard. I continue to wait for hearing after hearing, never being given the opportunity to even speak... at the conclusion of each simply another is scheduled, in effect you go to the back of the line struggling to merge schedules to obtain the next soonest date. 
Ayn has escaped from the care of the Ministry twice now in four months, the second time naked, drugged, wet and wandering as far as the "main street", police were called, Ayn discovered and returned. I will be told nothing or rather I will be told whatever the MCFD chooses to tell me. "It is under investigation" I hear, but the first time she escaped was months ago surely something is known by now? She was being watched and drugged while under the care of the MCFD by a 15 year old fellow foster child.... "still under investigation". Why was the window not locked in the bathroom where she was bathing unattended?... "under investigation". The MCFD is supposed to be trained to identify emotional abuse is it not? How can they ignore it when they are the source. Ayn was in no more danger here than her disability engendered, all I am asking for is her to be returned to me immediately. If they would like to do an investigation by all means, but we are over 4 months in now and as of yet no-one has been asked how Ayn was in the Home, the very place she is being kept from. She has been returned to the school where the "deterioration" was observed. She has been returned to their care from where she has twice escaped. They have offered me unsupervised access effective immediately... yet will not return her to me. This is a nightmarish power struggle with an institution whose named function is family development. Whose guiding principles are: "a family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of children and the responsibility for the protection of children rests primarily with the parents" (CFCSA 2b) and "decisions relating to children should be made and implemented in a timely manner" (CFCSA 2g).  
My life has been dedicated to my children, I continue to care for my sons, I do so happily and have never once complained about the tribulations I face raising 2 severely autistic kids. They are both happy and thriving children and there is nothing to suggest otherwise... I am angry, I am in pain, I suffer... and do you know what it doesn't matter... Ayn is all that matters. She does not deserve this, she is just as much a citizen as: the social workers involved, the different judges overseeing this, You or I. Yet she is being treated as chattel, her sadness towards my absence used against me, my advocacy for her to get proper services used against me, all the while she sits in a basement wondering where her family went, not knowing why this happened. Did she do something wrong? Do we not want her anymore? She has no ability to comprehend the ministry's legal wranglings, all she knows is she has been forcefully removed from those whom she loved and had spent every day of her life... Does it make it any better that she has been placed with an assortment of caregivers who may be very nice people? Having good people do the wrong thing is not a benefit. They are kept in the dark, as is the public.... as am I. And now to wait past her Dec 14th birthday, past Christmas... and into the New Year.... for a "case conference" where even there I will not get to argue for her return but will receive a date where that could happen.... a date which could in all likelyhood be a year or more later..... Is this why we created such an institution? Please Help Ayn to come home, she is just as much a person as you or I and should not be treated in such a manner. We love her so dearly... I will never relent... this will have been all for nothing; the only net result being a little disabled girl who will never know why or when she could be snatched again."

To find out how you can support Derek and Ayn please join this Facebook site:
You can also sign a petition in support of her release:
And support this family through your Tweets by following: @Justice4Ayn



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