Saturday, October 27, 2012

Winter's rush

In my mind, winter has arrived early.  We are still a few days away from Halloween, but based on the cold temperatures and decidedly white landscape, a miraculous late fall melt is highly unlikely.  I'm not complaining, as the colder weather facilitates better sleeps (for me) and encourages us to spark up the fireplace in the evenings when we're spending time together as a family.

Speaking of which, our household population has risen by one in recent months with the arrival of Junior the hedgehog.  What started out as a rather prickly relationship has grown into one of trust and curiosity.  Each evening, Junior comes out of his lair to hang out with the family and indulge in his daily devouring of a couple of big fat meal worms.

I'm sure it's the same in your house, but September comes along and the calm serene of summer gets blown to smithereens by overflowing commitments, committees and daily concerns.  When school starts, it's like the gun going off at the beginning of the race to Christmas.  In what seems like the blink of an eye, we are halfway there.

Dylan is in his final year at Dr. Clark School, the place where he began his educational adventures 9 years ago.  He has gone from being the smallest kid in the school to being among the tallest.  I was thrilled to be able to slip in to watch the election speeches this year.  Dylan was running for Prime Minister of the student council against one other fellow.  He was the last to speak, and while I'm certain I have a biased perspective, I think he knocked it out of the park.

What was the first thing he did when he was done? He walked over to his competitor and shook his hand. I thought that showed a lot of class.

The day before I had had a chance to visit with former Prime Minister Paul Martin and talked to him about Dylan.  He was in town launching an Aboriginal Entrepreneurship initiative.  I described how Dylan has overcome his challenges and is successfully straddling two cultures, both of which add tremendous value to his life.  I also shared that he was running for prime minister of his school.  "Dylan sounds like he's a courageous young man," said Mr. Martin.  "I hope he wins."

I called home at 4 pm that afternoon to find out the results.

"Oh yes, I won," hurried Dylan.  "But Ben is not doing too well."

Following an end-of-school tumble that found Ben doing a face-plant on the concrete, Dylan was more concerned about his little brother - face covered in blood with a bag full of ice on his nose - than basking  in the glow of his election victory.

We are very proud of Dylan, apart from his political success, as he's really buckled down with the school work.  I have to give Heather so much credit, as she is here encouraging him when I am hither and thither in my multiple roles at work, in the community and with regional council.  He spent a lot of time on an incredible story about time travel which earned him an almost perfect mark.  Part of the assignment was to weave in elements of some of his core subjects.  He was not sure how to bring math into the narrative.

A story about a boy and girl who use a time machine to go back to 1911 just before a thief steals the Mona Lisa painting from the Louvre, I suggested that he might want to express the change of value of the painting from then to now as a percentage increase.  He did a google search and found out that it was worth $1.5 million in 1911 and about $700 million today.  We had a 45-minute debate as a family trying to reach consensus on the answer before putting the question out to the Facebook world.  Within minutes, people in multiple provinces were arguing about what the answer was to the question.

Ben has taken his musical passions to the next level, going to guitar lessons with an accomplished artist named Simon Budd.  His interest has not waned at all, which is awesome.  The things he is curious about continues to amaze me.  The other night he was nose-deep in a book in bed.

"What are you reading?" I asked.

"The Secret Life of Money," he said.

"What have you learned about so far?"

"Interest," he said.  "And stock markets."

I was a little gobsmacked to be honest, but delighted that he was reading a book with such valuable information.  It turns out he noticed the book being advertised in his Owl magazine and sought it out at the library last weekend.

Heather felt a weight lifted off her shoulders as she shared with her community of clients and colleagues her intention to scale back her offerings for personal health reasons.  Some of the things her body is going through has made it difficult to manage a daunting number of classes and personal appointments.  She realized that she needed to take more time for herself and took action.  Almost immediately, she began to feel better, relieved that she had paid attention to her body.

She was high as a kite (figuratively) yesterday, as she successfully delivered a keynote presentation to almost two hundred EAs and teachers in the Catholic School District.  It was such a success that they have asked her to come back and deliver a full-day workshop in 2013.

I won't go on and on about my life the past two months, as you could get a good sense of that from my public blog (, but I will share that two of the highlights of the fall were visits in both Guelph and Vancouver.

It was wonderful to spend a couple of days between work commitments visiting with Pierre & Robbie, Marcel & Kathy, Uncle Joe & Aunt Betty, Lisanne and Alex, Joseph Patrick & Mary Ann, and baby Nadine.  Thanks so much for making me feel so welcome and carving out some time with so little notice.

From Toronto I flew to Vancouver to join Heather and the boys for a wee weekend holiday in celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary.  It was great to see Claude, Tiffany and Madeleine in their West Vancouver home and spend time together, including a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm convinced I landed in Fort McMurray the next day 10 pounds heavier than when I left.  That was some good eating!

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