Saturday, June 30, 2018

Moving On

Ughh.. this has been such an emotional week! Are you guys feeling it as well?! My Facebook feed has been flooded with pictures of happy kids on their last days of school, but on a day that is almost universally seen as one of joy and celebration, I know there are other moms out there like me who are not so excited.

I tried to post this the other day, but I couldn't keep the tears back long enough to write it all out, so let me try again.

Brennen has officially completed Grade 6 at Mary Queen of Peace Elementary School, and will be heading to junior high in September - that means moving to a new school with new teachers, different assistants, a new learning environment and a whole lot of adjustment, for everybody. While we are full of thanks and gratitude for the wonderful teachers who have loved and supported him over these past seven years, we are unsure of what the future holds, and it is a little bit (ok, a lot) terrifying. I have been having a really difficult time with it, so for the sake of this post, I will try to focus on the positive and keep things light!

Earlier this week, we attended his School Leaving Ceremony, and I managed to hold it together, for the most part!

Brennen has had a wonderful school year, and we are so very proud. 
My heart was full as I watched him receive his certificate of achievement along with his classmates.

I just can't even begin to express how fortunate we have been to have had such wonderful teachers and student assistants looking out for Brennen for these past seven years. You ladies know who you are, and I want you to know that what you have done for our boy is appreciated. Your hard work and dedication to your students does not go unnoticed. You think about our children even outside of school, and that is impressive. You have been with us in the hospital after surgeries, on the field during baseball games, and right by our side for community fundraising events. You have become not just our friends, but part of our family. We have crashed your field trips because we love spending time with you, and your names are spoken in our home on a daily basis.

You have made a significant difference in our lives, and we have noticed every single effort you have taken to support and to love our boy. Brennen has had such a positive experience at school, and it is because of you. You have not only included him, but you have made him feel included (and there is a difference). You believed in Brennen, seeing all of the potential that he holds, and you have instilled in him a sense of worthiness and a sense of belonging in a school environment where he is recognized and celebrated for who he is. Brennen has flourished in your classroom, and it is because of the way you have nurtured and supported him, teaching him with the love and kindness he deserves, without fail, over these last number of years.

New beginnings scare the crap out of me, I'm not gonna lie. I wish I could say that I was a free-spirited adventurous type, but when it comes to my child and his future, that is just not the case. I want to know what's happening. I want to know that he is going to be safe, and that he is going to be welcomed and valued and loved, wherever he goes.

I don't know what the future holds for Brennen - or for any of us, really - but I can reflect on the positive experiences he has had at school and the relationships he has built along the way, and that makes me hopeful. While I can't control everything that happens in our lives, I am comforted by the foundation that's been laid by some truly remarkable teachers, and that is an incredible gift.

Thank you, once again, for all that you have given to Brennen, and to our family. On many occasions you have calmed my mama heart with your kind words and comforting smiles, and I will keep those moments with me as we move forward. Thank you for being part of our journey. xo

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Family Bloom Days

It's that time of year again - the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, and a whole mess of mixed emotions that come along with this time of transition. Brennen is finishing up Grade 6 and will be heading to Grade 7 in September. He will be leaving the teachers who have cared for him since he started kindergarten, leaving the nurturing environment they have created for him, and going to a new and unfamiliar junior high school. This is not what we feel is best for Brennen, for many reasons, and we have made those reasons known to the Department of Education. The past couple of months have been filled with meetings, appeals, letters and medical documentation. I won't get into it all here, but suffice it to say that they are not making it easy. (By 'they' I mean the higher ups at the department who have never met my son, but yet still feel they know what is in his best interest.) It's been particularly emotional for me, and the frustration of it all has felt like an ocean I am drowning in. It just doesn't sit well with me at all, so while we are going through the motions and will attend Brennen's 'school leaving ceremony' next week, I am not entirely sure what the next school year will look like for him.

To help ease some of the frustration, we have been planning our summer adventures, and thinking of ways to pack as much fun as possible into the next couple of months. The weather hasn't been great here lately - we've been having our usual Newfoundland spring, with lots of rain, drizzle and 'freezing fog' (yes, that's a thing we have now!). We were excited to finally see some warmer temperatures this week, just in time for the first days of Summer! We celebrated this weekend by enjoying the sunshine and spending as much time as we could outdoors.

On Saturday, we attended one of the Family Bloom Days at the MUN Botanical Garden! There were flower crafts, a scavenger hunt, lots of fun activities for kids, and a petal parade. There were also some real live fairies and woodland creatures scattered throughout the Garden! It was a beautiful day, and as always, a wonderful way to spend time together as a family! It's days like these that remind me that even when things get tough and almost too much to bare, there is a whole world of little pleasures out there just waiting to make us happy!

Here are some photos from our day at the Garden:

Happy Summer, everyone!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

Just a quick post today to wish Andrew a very Happy Father's Day, as we celebrate all that he is and all that he does for our family.

It has been a complete joy to watch this incredible man thrive in his role as a father. Our days are not always easy - parenting a child with a significant disability comes with many challenges, and he faces those with me, head on, each and every time. I have said many times (on particularly hard days) that this not a life anyone would choose.. but Andrew did just that. He chose me and he chose Brennen. He accepted us as we were, understanding that it would not be easy, but that we could get through anything together because of the love that we shared. He has been my greatest support, my voice of reason, and a never wavering source of comfort.

When we first talked about fostering children, it was something we both felt strongly about. We knew that we had room in our hearts to care for young people who needed a family. We had only ever talked about fostering one child, and our hands were full doing that, but I will never forget the day that I received the call about a little baby who was ready to be discharged from the hospital but didn't have a family to go home to. Andrew was not at home at the time, and being the emotional decision maker that I am, I just couldn't say no. I believed we could do it, or at least I believed we would figure out a way to do it. When I got off the phone with the social worker and had a moment to reflect, all I could think was, "Andrew is going to kill me. He is going to leave me, and I am going to be all alone with all of these children!" I had accepted another child into our home and into our family without asking him, and that's not cool. But when I called him to let him know what I had done, I could sense his heart opening up, and all he said was, "Ok". He wasn't upset, wasn't worried, and didn't even question me. He also believed that we could (and should) parent this little baby. And so we did. And it was magical.

There are so many moments during each day where he reminds me that what we have is so special, and there is no one else I can imagine doing this with. I am just very very thankful to be his partner, his teammate, and to get to parent right along with him. Our children are so very fortunate to have such a dedicated, loving and positive role model in their lives. I know deep down in my heart that he is in this for the long haul, and that his heart can only stretch deeper and stronger.

Thank you, Andrew, for loving us the way you do. I love you for the amazing father you are and for the amazing father I know you will be for the many years ahead!

Happy Father's Day, Andrew! xo