Just Like You


In response to today’s Daily Post

Heather

  • Self-employed DJ
  • Scrapbooking fanatic
  • Country music fan

Brooke 2

  • Diva
  • Loves flirting with boys (especially married men!)
  • Favorite author: Robert Munsch

Kristen

  • Cat whisperer
  • Photographer (people, food and animals are her favorite subjects)
  • Loves to play board games (especially “Adventure Time Monopoly”)

Fancy Glen

  • Toronto Maple Leafs fan
  • Best waltzer I know
  • Loves singing karaoke

Me and Brooke's party

  • Loves going window shopping downtown
  • Addicted to Jelly Belly jellybeans
  • Obsessed with musical theater

 

As you can see, my friends and I who have special needs lead normal lives and have interests and hobbies and talents, just like you! We’re really not all that different. Instead of judging us or deciding right away that you don’t like us because we have special needs,  get to know us! You’ll discover the awesome people that we are!

Leah

Operation Aspie


Hey blog world! I’m back! I’ve been very busy, especially lately but I have some time on my hands today and thought I’d get another post up.

One of the biggest things that happened to me lately is I experienced something for the first and hopefully last time. In all my 19 years of life I have had many, many visits to the Janeway due to my Aspergers, Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, and let’s face it, overall clumsiness (I’ve broken my arm and about 4 years ago sprained my wrist while at the Janeway!) and these past two years have brought a few trips to the E.R of the Health Science Center, but… never in all this time had I been admitted into either hospital or had an operation! That is… until last week.

Intestinal issues lead to me needing surgery and I was a mix of both excited and scared out of my mind! I was excited to finally get my irritating issue permanently fixed, but this being my first surgery and hospitalization, I was also very scared!! I’m very thankful for my best friend Peter and my sister Miranda who both talked with me about this and helped ease my fear a little bit.

Last Sunday was a pretty big day. My Dad’s 55th, or as he called it “double nickel” Birthday, and also the day before my surgery. My family went out to Ches’s fish and chips for dinner and because I was due to fast after midnight, I allowed myself a “pig out day” and ate my absolute fill! Two MASSIVE onion rings (and I wish I had taken a picture because the size of Ches’s onion rings is unbelievable!!) and a one piece fish and chips with dressing. A “last dinner” of sorts fit for a queen! I didn’t finish the entire thing (though I said I would be a pig that day, I do still have my limits!) but ate most of it and it was yummy! Later that evening, after eating our leftovers for supper we had Birthday cake! A double chocolate brownie cake from Sobey’s!!

After lunch when we returned home from the restaurant, I found a gift from my sister waiting for me in the kitchen. She must have thought I was being admitted for a month! She gave me a grocery bag full of paperbacks (lots of “Sweet Valley High”, “Pretty Little Liars” and one of those “Chicken Soup For The Soul” books) and a pink, plastic briefcase full of coloring pages, coloring books, activity books and art supplies! God love her. She went a little over the top, but I really appreciated the gesture.

I spent Sunday evening packing my suitcase making sure I had all my essentials with me. Stuffy the dragon (he’s my favorite stuffed toy who goes everywhere with me. He’s excellent moral support when I’m sad, scared or overwhelmed.), my “Bob’s Burgers” coloring book, my laptop and my classic “VeggieTales” DVD box set. And of course I made sure to pack all other important things, pajamas, my toothbrush, etc.

I ended the evening surrounded by family who I don’t get to see too often. My sister from Australia called me on Skype! I miss her a lot because she’s on the other side of the world so I get really excited when I hear that Skype ringtone and see that she’s calling! We talked about school, my operation the next day, my nephew Lincoln’s upcoming Birthday (he’s going to be three soon! I can’t believe it!) and my new little niece on the way (her name will be Gwen and she’s due sometime this month!) It was so nice catching up with her. I also got to babysit my younger cousins while my uncle took their big brother to his hockey game. They are 9 and 7 and the sweetest two kids! I love it when I get to babysit and hang out with them. We played a Spongebob video game on my GameCube and then watched “LarryBoy and the Fib From Outer Space”! I had a ton of fun that evening.

The next morning was the big day! I had to get up early because I had to be at the hospital at 8:00. I am not a morning person and I can’t function until I’ve had a cup of Tetley! Being deprived of that was not fun! Nor was being deprived of food! I really wanted breakfast and was not happy that I couldn’t get any! I was also still very scared knowing that very soon I would be under the knife! I took a few deep breaths and gave Stuffy a hug to try and calm myself down. It worked slightly.

When we got to the hospital, I was asked a multitude of questions by the secretary in the waiting room and then given a bracelet. Then I sat down and read “The Penultimate Peril”, the second last book in Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, one of my favorite series of books! Though I tried to enjoy my book and keep my mind off of what was soon to happen, my brain kept focusing on the surgery and that did not help my nerves!

I felt even more scared when a nurse called my name! But soon, my fear dissipated a little bit thanks to her. She introduced herself (Lorraine was her name) and was very friendly and that made me feel a little bit at ease. She brought me and mom to a room with lots of chairs surrounded by curtains. I changed into a gown, sat in a surprisingly comfy chair and was asked all the same questions as I was at the front desk. I liked how Lorraine wasn’t all monotone and serious like the lady at the front desk. She even cracked a few jokes during the process! One I distinctly remember was she asked me if I had any tattoos and I said no. She then made me an offer “Do you want any while you’re under anesthetic?” I laughed and said no thank you. She said “Come on! What about a nice butterfly on your arm?”  Again I turned her down. It was great to be able to laugh. That really helped bring my fear and anxiety down. After she checked my vitals, it was just a matter of waiting until it was time for my surgery. She offered to recline my chair and give me a warm blanket. That offer I didn’t turn down! The blanket was fresh out of the blanket warmer so it was nice and toasty! I loved it! Mom gave me back my book and I continued reading. “I could get used to this!” I thought to myself as I relaxed.

A few minutes later, Lorraine returned sadly stating, “I have come to stab you.” Great! Needles are one of my favorite things! Sarcasm sign

I am “my father’s daughter” as mom says. Both of us don’t handle needles very well! I get very, very panicked. Thank God for Stuffy who helps keep me a little bit sane in times like this! I gave him a big hug and looked the other way. It was over before I knew it and it wasn’t too bad! Then, the stinging began. Lorraine told me beforehand it was a blood thinner she was giving me and that it would sting. I thought it would only be a tiny sting for a second, but it lasted for I think maybe two minutes and felt like a swarm of bees had attacked my arm!

Soon, my name was called again and I was brought to another room with another set of reclining chairs. Stuffy wasn’t. Him being my moral support and comfort I was sad and scared to go on without him. I gave him one last hug, asked him to wish me luck and gave him to mom. When we arrived at our destination I sat down and was offered another warm blanket. This time, I had no book, so knowing that I was one step closer to my surgery and seeing people in scrubs coming from every direction, not knowing where they are going, why they are there of if they are dealing with me, my mind went into panic mode again! I wished I had Stuffy in my lap to comfort me.

After what felt like an eternity, a number of people in scrubs came to talk to me. My surgeon, anesthesiologist, and a few med students. They asked me questions and asked if I had any. One of my biggest ones was am I going to be put to sleep using anesthetic gas or will I have to face another needle. I had to face another needle. I was not looking forward to that IV!

Soon, it was go time. I was lead into the O.R. Another toasty warm blanket was laid over me, my vitals were taken again and the anesthesiologist started preparing to put the IV in my hand. I was very scared so one of the nurses very kindly offered to hold my hand. She then started talking to me to get my mind off things. She asked if I had seen any good movies lately. I couldn’t think of the last movie I’d been to the theatre to see, so I said “It’s not a recent one, but I watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the other day!” and she said that was a good movie and we talked a bit about it. Then, the anesthesiologist asked me a question, “Do you like horror movies?” “No way!” I said “I couldn’t even handle “Little Shop of Horrors”!!!” he laughed and said “Oh, “A Cure For Wellness” looks good, but I guess you won’t be going out to see that then!” Before he started the IV meds to knock me out, he asked me if I had any questions. There was one that had been on my mind for the longest time. I asked “I’ve been told that I talk and sometimes sing in my sleep. Will that happen when I’m under the anesthetic?” I never did get my answer. The anesthesiologist just laughed and said “Are you any good?” I said “I think so. I’m a voice student of Peter Halley’s so having an excellent teacher like him sure makes a difference!” He thought that was pretty cool and told me that he’s a fan of Peter’s and he seems like a really great guy. He’s absolutely right!!

Soon, he started administering the anesthetic and he put an oxygen mask on my face. At first I didn’t really feel anything, but after a minute or two, I swore I saw the ceiling tiles moving backwards, like I was being wheeled into another room. Not long after that, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just blackness.

I don’t remember much after that. I just remember coming to in a hospital bed in recovery. Because I was still a little loopy and sleepy from the anesthetic, I don’t remember much about that either.

An hour or so later, I was brought up to my room. It was in a wing that sadly I knew well. 4 North B. One of my co-workers had stayed in a room in that wing following a car accident last year and I visited him and brought coffee and muffins every chance I got, and my dad, 6 years ago had spent 15 days and nights in the same room I was in! I jokingly thanked him for passing that down to me.

Getting off the stretcher I was on and into my bed was no easy task! I was hit all the suddenly with a burst of agonizing pain in my abdomen. I was told that was normal after the surgery I’d just had. I was not happy about that. Even the slightest movement, lifting my arm, turning the pages of my book, caused me a lot of pain! It was not fun.

When I got into the bed, I was pleasantly surprised! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be comfy! It wasn’t as comfy as my own bed, but it was nice.Mom unpacked all my things and stayed with me for a little while.
My throat was sore and dry and my voice was super firetrucked up after my surgery! I swear to God I sounded like one of those fairy tale trolls that lives under a bridge! Mom suggested I push my call button and ask for a Popsicle. I thought about it, but hesitated. Now that she mentioned it, I thought one would be nice right about now, but I didn’t want to be a burden to the nurse. I thought to myself “She has more important things to do than getting me a Popsicle.” Mom reassured me that if I really, really needed it, I wasn’t being a burden, so, still a little hesitant I did it. The nurse didn’t mind at all. When she came back with one she handed it to me and said “All we have is orange, I hope that’s ok.” Of course it was! Orange is the best Popsicle flavor!

Later that evening, supper came. Because I had just had surgery I was on a diet of clear fluids. My supper was chicken broth, tea, cranberry juice and lime Jell-O. I was absolutely starving after having fasted for so long so I happily, albeit painfully tucked into my meal. Again I was surprised. It tasted pretty good! I quite enjoyed the chicken broth and the tea was really nice too. I didn’t touch the Jell-O though, I put that to the side to give to my niece who I knew was coming to visit that night. I don’t like Jell-O, but she does.

That night she came along with my mom and dad. They brought me a bouquet of flowers! I loved them! It really brightened up my windowsill. During their visit, we all talked and laughed for a good while, it was nice to be together as a family again.

On my wall, near the window there was a whiteboard and a marker. My niece saw this as an opportunity. She drew a cute little border around my room number and asked me what else she thought I should draw. For a bit of a laugh I said “A cow driving a truck! Give him a trucker hat and put him behind the wheel of a big semi!” She delivered!

cowWhenever I was feeling down during my stay and needed a laugh, all I had to do was look at that cow! The nurses all got a good laugh out of it too!

That first night I didn’t sleep very easy. Thank God for my sister Miranda. I called her really late at night because I couldn’t sleep, was feeling very anxious and scared and needed to talk. She picked up the phone and helped me to relax and calm down. I am so glad she told me her phone line was open anytime I needed her. That really meant a lot. I called her many times during my stay if I couldn’t sleep, was worried about something, was feeling lonely, etc. Hearing her voice on the other line was so comforting.

The next day, Tuesday, was a very busy and absolutely great day! It didn’t start off too well, a nurse came by to take my blood, but it all was uphill from there! Not long after this, my doctor came by and told me that I could have solid food!! I was very happy about that.

When breakfast came around, I guess he forgot to pass on to the kitchen staff that I could have solid food now. My menu card had changed, but not in the way I’d hoped. They moved me up to a full fluid diet, still liquid but with a bit more substance. Cream of wheat, orange juice, milk and tea. Another puzzling thing was that I was wearing an orange allergy bracelet stating that I couldn’t have cow’s milk, and yet there was a carton on my tray?? Strange that didn’t get passed on to the kitchen. I’m not a cream of wheat fan, so I got mom to bring me up something a bit better for breakfast. I had toast and a banana. She also brought up a yogurt cup, but I wasn’t in the mood for yogurt quite yet so I laid that to the side.

Later on, at lunchtime I was brought another tray of liquid food. Beef and barley soup broth, chocolate instant breakfast, orange juice, milk, vanilla pudding and tea. I tasted the chocolate instant breakfast and it was pretty good. Very rich and creamy. But, knowing that cow’s milk doesn’t agree with me, I didn’t drink anymore of it afraid that it might be mixed into it. I gave the beef broth a try and to be honest, it tasted like soy sauce that had been heated on the stove! It wasn’t the best, but I was hungry so I ate it anyway.

After lunch I got lots of visitors! My boyfriend Glen and his grandparents came over for a few hours. Glen made me the sweetest homemade get well soon card! I absolutely loved it! Though I was still in a considerable amount of pain, my doctor told me to try getting up around and walking, so I asked Glen to give me a hand getting out of bed and hand in hand we went for a walk around 4 North B. I loved it.

Later, the newest member of my family showed up!! My cousin brought her new 4 week old son Nathaniel for a visit! It was my first time meeting him in person! He’s such a precious little angel! I even got to hold him! My heart overflowed with happiness as the little darling slept in my arms.

That evening, it was getting close to supper and I was feeling a bit hungry, so I decided to have the yogurt cup that mom brought me. I got about two or three spoonfuls in when my butterfingers dropped the yogurt cup, thus covering my pajama top, blanket, pillow and the IV port in my left hand with yogurt!! I pushed the call button and apologized profusely to the nurse when she arrived for having to bother her because of my clumsiness! She smiled and said it’s ok, no big deal and then set out to get me a new pillowcase and blanket! Still feeling rather stunned after what I’d done, I was glad the nurse didn’t think anything of it.

Seconds after this incident, who should walk in but my best friend Peter!! I was very happy to see him, but at the same time, also very embarrassed!! There he was all done up like a stick of gum in a suit and dress shoes, and I had my white, cotton, dalmatian pajama top, blanket, pillow and IV port covered with light purple field berry yogurt!! Oh me nerves! Thankfully, he didn’t seem to mind.

Earlier that day he texted me asking if I needed anything brought to me. That was very nice of him. I thought for a bit and came up with a few ideas. Now that I could finally eat solid food, I asked if he could bring me something made by our chef friend Josh, maybe some pasta salad. I also asked for some peppermint tea from Tim’s and if he didn’t mind, his copy of “Tuesday’s With Morrie”. I’d seen it on his coffee table for the past few weeks when I’d come to his house to work on the play we’re writing and it seemed like a really interesting book to read. Peter brought all the things I’d asked for. 

He has been flat out lately with the Kiwanis music festival, spending all day going back and forth to classes and rehearsals. It meant a whole lot to me that he was able to find that small window of time to drop by and see me.

Shortly before he left, the kitchen staff brought me in my supper. I thought about turning it down as Peter had just brought me something, but I decided to leave it and pick at both things. I was very happy to see that they had finally gotten the memo and I was moved up to where I should be, the regular diet! Solid food!!!

After saying my goodbyes to Peter, I took a look at what was on the tray of food from the hospital. Sweet and sour meatballs, frozen peas and carrots and taters, apple juice to drink and vanilla pudding for desert. I then looked under the tinfoil of Peter’s plate, three different kinds of pasta salads! I ate almost everything, both plates of food were delicious!

That night, my parents, poppy and his friend Jean came for a visit. My poppy, God love him, brought two decks of cards!! Both of us love playing cards, especially Queens! I was very happy to see those two decks and get to have a game with him, mom and Jean! I lost, but I didn’t care. It was really nice to just have everyone gathered around my bed for a hand of cards.

Most of my Wednesday was spent reading and coloring. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing both those things, but felt rather lonely. Mom had gone on to work so it was just me and Stuffy. I hoped I’d soon get a visitor or two.

My wish was soon granted! I got to see two of my friends who I very rarely get to see! My former rhythmic gymnastics and bowling teammate Heather and my co-worker Jordan both came! They are both really awesome people who I love being around. Because of school, I don’t get to see either of them as often as I used to so it was a real treat to have both of them come and visit me.
I got lots of lovely presents from my visitors, adult coloring books, jujubes, a journal and so many beautiful flowers that I started referring to the windowsill as “my garden”! While I appreciated all the lovely new things, what really meant the most to me was that the givers showed up! Getting to hold baby Nathaniel, catch up with old friends, and just have some company to keep me from being lonely was present enough. Thank you very much to all of you who came to visit. I really appreciated that you took time out of your day to come and see me.

That night was the hardest out of all of them! I couldn’t sleep at all! There was too much going on! All the lights were on, IV’s were constantly beeping, nurses were everywhere talking to each other and two of my roommates who needed taking care of, it was not a pleasant night for anyone in my room!

The next day, I got some wonderful news from my doctor! I could go home!! I was very, very happy to hear that. My time in hospital wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, some parts of it were even sort of enjoyable, but even so I couldn’t wait to get back home!

Mom helped me pack my suitcase, I said goodbye and get well soon to my roommates and mom and I left. When we got to the door, I could see the sun was brightly shining! It’s like it knew I was coming home! It was wonderful!
When I got home, the very first thing I did was cuddle with my sweet cat Ozzy. I missed him so much while I was in the hospital! My niece scoffed when I told her that and said “You’ve only been in there 3 1/2 days!” Yes dear, but it felt like an eternity! I can’t begin to explain just how happy I was to lay down and snuggle with him again! My heart overflowed!

I asked mom if we could have Chinese food and cheesecake for supper to celebrate me coming home. That’s exactly what we did! We had wonton soup, fried rice, chicken balls, chow mein, all the good stuff! Sitting in my kitchen with my family eating mom’s home cooked food was the best. It was great to be home!

Thank you to the wonderful doctors and nurses of the Health Sciences for taking good care of me. As one of the nurses said to me before I left “I hope I never see you again… except maybe in the grocery store!”

Leah

Alone In The Universe, My Interpretation


In response to this weeks Discover Challenge

Hey blog world! My first audition was for Etcetera Production’s production of “Seussical The Musical”, a musical about Dr. Seuss characters, focusing mainly on “Horton Hears A Who” but there are elements from several other stories thrown in here and there (Cat in the Hat narrates, there’s reference to Truffula Trees (the Lorax), Solla Solew etc). I didn’t get a part but went to see the show. I fell in love with “Alone In The Universe”, a duet by Horton and Jojo. It was a beautiful song. Years later I listened to the words a bit more carefully and discovered a new meaning to the song, one that really tugs at my heartstrings. To me, this song reflects the thoughts and feelings of a person with Autism. Have a look at the lyrics.

I’ve been guarding this clover
For over a week, getting laughed at
For thinking a dust speck can speak

Well, let them all laugh
I’ll try not to mind
For I have found something
That they’ll never find

There are secrets on a leaf
In the water, in the air
Hidden planets, tiny worlds, all invisible

Not a person seems to know
Not a person seems to care
There is no one who believes a thing I say

Well, I’m fairly certain
At one time or other
Great thinkers all feel this way

I’m alone in the universe
So alone in the universe
I’ve found magic but they don’t see it

They all call me a lunatic
Okay, call me a lunatic
If I stand on my own, so be it

‘Cause I have wings
Yes, I can fly around the moon
And far beyond the sky
And one day soon I know there you’ll be

One small voice in the universe
One true friend in the universe
Who believes in me

I’m alone in the universe
So alone in the universe
My own planets and stars are glowing
Alone in the universe

No one notices anything
Not one person is listening
They don’t have any way of knowing

Nobody knows that
I have wings, I have wings
And I can fly, I can fly
Around the moon and far beyond the sky

Well, someday soon you will hear my plea
One small voice in the universe
One true friend in the universe
Please believe in me

Hello, hello?
Hello?
Who’s there?
It’s me, Jojo, the Mayor’s son
I’m Horton, the Elephant

Are you real or are you a very large think?
Oh, I’m real, alright, I would state that in ink
In my thinks, I imagine a lot of strange things
And I go to strange places, as if I had wings
I love a good think

Well, for me that goes double
Sometimes my thinks are what get me in trouble
When you think, do you dream?
In bright colors

Me too and I go to strange places
Like Solla Sollew
When you think, do you think you can fly to the stars?
Ah, little friend, no one else could have thinks such as ours

Yes, I have wings, I have wings
And I can fly, I can fly
Around the moon
And far beyond the sky

You called my name and you set me free
One small voice in the universe
One true friend in the universe
Who believes in me

Like Horton, we feel like we are alone in the universe. It’s a strange place full of strange people and things we don’t understand and who don’t understand us. Individuals with Autism have found magic that neurotypicals don’t see. We have a different perception of the world around us. We get called lunatics and a myriad of other awful names just because we’re different! We stand on our own a lot of the time. We are capable of many amazing things if people would just bother to notice! “I have wings and I can fly around the moon and far beyond the sky!” Also like Horton, the one thing that we want in the universe is one true friend who believes in us. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.

“My own planets and stars are glowing”, another allusion to being in a world of our own. “No one notices anything, not one person is listening”, like Jojo, we are upset that no one pays attention to or listens to us! We have things to show you and things to say! You’ll be amazed if you take the time to pay attention!

The way they think, in bright colors, is the way that some people with Autism think as well. Some of us think in pictures! Instead of just thinking about something we picture it in our minds. Also, our thinks can get us into a bit of trouble sometimes too. We’re very honest and sometimes don’t keep our thinks to ourselves. We say what we think without thinking about the consequences that it could bring. Also, like Horton and Jojo think of flying to the stars we have big dreams too! With hard work, I know we can accomplish them!

When we find that one true friend in the universe who believes in us and accepts us for who we are, our lives are changed for the better and with their help, we open up and flourish! As Horton says “You called my name and you set me free!” For me, that person is Peter Halley. He has made such a huge impact on my life! He’s such a kind, compassionate person. Whenever I need a hug, some advice, cheering up or just to talk, he’s always there.

It’s my hope that someday soon, no Autistic person will feel like they are alone in the universe. Get to know us and you’ll see just how amazing we really are! Better yet, become our friend! You’ll be very glad you did.

Leah

 

Please and Thank You: A Social Experiment, Day Two


Hey blog world! Just to quickly recap, I’m doing a social experiment all weekend. I’m taking note of how many times I say please and thank you to others and how many times it’s said to me. These are my results from yesterday. To view my results from Friday, click here

Yesterday morning, I woke up and took out my iPod to see how my Springfield is getting on (Simpson’s Tapped Out is my favorite app!) and I noticed that there was something new on my home screen. My niece had downloaded Musical.ly, a music video making app that she’s obsessed with. I went to her room and talked to her about this. I said “Please don’t download apps onto my iPod without my permission.” She apologized and all was well again.

Later that day, I went to my voice lesson. Before Christmas, I left a Christmas card with my teacher to give to my friend who is also one of his students. He usually has a lesson right after me, but I hadn’t seen him in a long time! Yesterday, he came for his lesson and my teacher gave him the card. I was in the kitchen (my teacher teaches from home) going over what we’d done that day and he called out thank you. I said you’re welcome. I was glad he finally got his card! 

When I got home, I tidied my room and the living room and set some snacks out on the coffee table. My friend Kristen was coming over to play board games!

She gave me a call as she was about to leave and she said that her and her mom were going to stop into Tim Horton’s on the way to pick up some Timbits and asked if me, my niece or my parents wanted anything to drink. That was so nice! I asked for a candy cane hot chocolate and made sure to say thank you very much to her and her mom when they arrived.

Our first game of the evening was Adventure Time Monopoly. Whenever Kristen landed on my property, I almost always politely said please when I asked for the money I was owed and thank you when I received it.

We had pizza for supper! I love putting Parmesan cheese on mine! Kristen does too. She asked me to pass it to her and said thank you when I did.

Again today, I noticed that I said please and thank you more than I heard it. I wonder what today will bring? Come back tonight to find out!

Leah

Please and Thank You: A Social Experiment, Day 1


Hey blog world! One of my courses in my second semester of Early Childhood Education at CONA is Human Relations/Communications. Today in class, the teacher gave us a social experiment to try. Take note of how many times over the weekend someone says please and/or thank you to you and how many times you say it to people. I was very interested to see what would happen. These are my results from today.

I can’t remember what it was for exactly, but my creative experiences teacher thanked us for something at the end of class today.

After school, I took the bus to the mall to go to a movie with my friend. Upon entering the bus, I set my things down on my seat, got my fare from my wallet and handed it to the driver. He responded with a disgruntled “Yeah… go ahead.” I smiled at him and said “May I please have a transfer?” He printed it out and gave it to me without a word. He must have been having a long day. Poor guy.

My friend and I soon arrived at the mall. We walked to the theater and got into the snack line. When it was my turn to go up, I said to the cashier, “May I please have a regular popcorn and a Nestea?” When it was time to pay, I noticed the screen in front of me showing what I bought and my total owed also mentioned the cashier’s name. I gave the man my money and he gave me my food. I smiled and said “Thank you Cody.” and he smiled back.

The next person I saw was the ticket attendant. I gave him my ticket, he ripped off the stub and handed the ticket back to me, along with my 3D glasses. I said “Thank you very much!” and a smile came across the man’s face and he said “You’re welcome! Enjoy your movie and have a great afternoon!” He didn’t seem too happy when I first walked up to him, then my thank you changed him completely! It made me happy to see that. I was glad I brightened his day a little.

When I got home, I wanted to finish a painting I’d been working on. I took it down from the shelf where I laid it to dry, got my gold paint and then went looking for my palette. I usually leave it on the back of my easel, but to make room for our Christmas presents, the easel got taken apart and moved into the porch. I looked around it and couldn’t find it. I looked in a few other places and still couldn’t find the palette. I asked mom if she knew where it was. She didn’t. I thanked her anyway. I went into the kitchen and took a paper towel to put my paint on. While there, I noticed mom was baking pies. Her lemon meringue pie looked nice, so I told her “That looks pretty!” she gave a little laugh and said “You don’t even like lemon meringue!” I said “That’s true, but even so, I think it looks nice.” she laughed again. I was a little surprised my attempt at a compliment wasn’t thanked.

Later, I needed to use the golden sharpie to write something on my painting. Mom told me it was in her room. I went in to look for the Sharpie and while there, I also found a Mars bar! I asked mom who owned it and she said I could have it if I wanted it! That was nice of her so I said thank you.

Soon after this, dad called and said he’d pick up supper for me and my niece. That was very nice of him so I said “Thank you very much”. I said it again when he called back a few minutes ago asking what I wanted from McDonald’s.

At the table, as I enjoyed my Bacon McDouble, fries and blueberry pomegranate smoothie, I told my niece about this experiment. She said “Here, I’ll help! Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please.” 11 year old’s, cute little things aren’t they? I laughed and said “Good try, and I appreciate your trying to help, but my teacher meant sincere pleases and thank you’s.” She said “Come on! That’s got to count for something! Include me in this experiment, please?!” She managed to find a loophole with that one, so now she is a part of my notes! She then thanked me for that. Two for two Sam, good job.

I was honestly surprised that I only heard two thank yous today and no pleases. I said both so many times to so many people, and seldom heard it said to me! I will admit, there were one or two instances today when I could and should have said please and thank you, but didn’t.  Please and thank you can go a long way as I experienced today. Try your best to use them as often as you can!

I’m very curious to see what the rest of the weekend will bring! Come back tomorrow night and Sunday night to see my results!

Leah

Christmas 2016


Hey blog world! Merry Christmas! Christmas is my favorite time of the year, a time of family togetherness, yummy food, magic, and happiness. This Christmas was absolutely wonderful!

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to the Arts and Culture Centre to see my friend Shelley Neville’s Christmas concert, O Holy Night. This year, I took my friend Kristen with me. She’s Spirit of Newfoundland’s newest fan, so I thought she would really enjoy herself at this concert. As always, it was a mesmerizing show and we both loved every minute of it! I had so many favorite parts! Seeing Peter Halley in drag again was great and I must say, he looks great in a dress!

Hearing David Pomeroy sing “Nessun Dorma” was spellbinding! His voice always takes my breath away. When he and Shelley sang a duet of “The Prayer” I had goosebumps and was at a loss for words! It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard!

Jack Thistle, who will be playing Billy Elliot in Atlantic Light Theatre’s February production performed “Electricity”, and again I was at a loss for words! What a stunning performance he gave! He’d only been dancing for a few short months, but it’s hard to tell, he’s gotten so good at it! Once his performance was over, I gave him a standing ovation! He deserved it! I can’t wait to see him in “Billy Elliot” in a few months!

Boney M was lots of fun! Their outfits were awesome! The giant afros were my favorite part of the costumes! My heart flooded with happiness as they sang “River of Babylon” and “Mary’s Boy Child”!

Being part of the show was fun too! They did another Instant Choir, just like in “For Lease Navidad”! They split the audience up into groups and assigned each group a part of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. This time, me and Kristen got to sing the first day! We had so much fun, and I thought the whole audience sounded marvelous! Especially when we all came together on five golden rings!

After the show, I got to deliver presents! I spent countless hours in the weeks leading up to Christmas working on special, handmade Christmas presents for my friends. It’s rare when I buy presents, I find that handmade things are much more special than something from a store. I put a lot of thought and a lot of love into each of the things I made, so I was very happy to see my friends so happy with what I had made them!

Saturday was Christmas Eve day. As I was helping mom put away the groceries, I noticed that in one of the bags, there was a spray can of cool whip. Mom told me to put it in the fridge and not touch it as it was part of my cousin’s present. I clicked in right away to what it was! Pie Face!!! I’d been wanting that game since it came out and asked my mom to get it for me for Christmas! My cousin was so lucky! I wished I could have it too!

Not long after this, my boyfriend and his social worker came over. They both had a present for me! I knew Glen was going to give me something, but seeing a gift bag in his worker’s hand really surprised me! She didn’t have to get me anything! She said that we can open our gifts early if we wanted. I thought, why not! Glen opened his first. I painted him a picture of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber from our favorite movie series “VeggieTales”! He absolutely loved it! I was so happy that he did! I opened my gift from him and there were lots of nice things in there! bath products, chocolate, etc. Then, I opened the gift from his social worker and her family. It was Pie Face! I burst out laughing and told them about what had just happened as I was putting away the groceries! Ask and ye shall receive!!

Poppy came over that night. I love it when he comes to visit! We had supper together, baked cod, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and dad’s homemade tartar sauce. It was delicious! After that, Poppy and I sat in the living room for a while. Another tradition of mine is having a Christmas movie/tv show marathon on Christmas Eve. I was happy to share that with Poppy. We watched the America’s Got Talent Holiday Spectacular, which was absolutely incredible! Professor Splash’s dive into eggnog, though a little weird was pretty amazing! It was great to see Piff the Magic Dragon back on the AGT stage as well!

After that, mom offered a game of cards, something neither me or Poppy can turn down! We both love playing any card game, and are both really good too! That night, we played Queens, my favorite card game. I can’t remember how many games we played or who won, but the three of us had a lot of fun together. After playing cards, Poppy left. I hugged him, said Merry Christmas and see you tomorrow. I couldn’t wait for him to come back in the morning to open his presents and share our Christmas dinner!

It was nearing 9:00, so I went back into the living room for one last movie before bed, “Rent”! Say what you will, but I consider it a Christmas movie! The whole first act of the show takes place on Christmas Eve! My 11-year-old niece came in to watch with me just as her favorite part was about to begin, Maureen’s performance of “Over The Moon”! I love that part too! Mooing along with Maureen is fun! Right in the middle of “La Vie Boheme”, as Angel and Mimi were up on the table toasting handcrafted beers, yoga, and yogurt, mom came in and told us it was getting late, it’s time to hang our stockings and go to bed. We did just that.

me-and-my-stocking

Hanging up my stocking! It’s been hung on the door of our VHS case every year since I was 5!

sams-stocking

My niece with her stocking.

I set my alarm for 6:o0 the next morning. I wanted to be up bright and early to spend time under the tree with my family! To put me in a really Christmassy mood, I set the alarm on my iPod to play Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas“, one of my most favorite Christmas songs!

At 6:00 when Elton’s music woke me up, I tiptoed to the Christmas tree knowing I was the first one up and not wanting to disturb the others who were still in bed. I figured give them maybe 10 minutes and they’d be awake too. I had a look at the tree and couldn’t believe it! Santa Claus had come! The tree was full of wrapped up treasures. I couldn’t wait to watch everyone open their presents and see what we all received.

tree

Another thing I noted was that either Santa doesn’t like cherry cake, or he wasn’t very hungry. We left him a piece of cherry cake, a shortbread cookie and a glass of milk. He drank all the milk, but left half the shortbread cookie and didn’t touch the cherry cake! Hmm?

I went into my parents’ room and said Merry Christmas! To my surprise, they sent me back to bed saying it was too early! I did as I was told and a few hours later, at around 8:30 they woke me up. They had made EGGO’s for breakfast (we always have something quick to eat for Christmas morning breakfast) and they were ready.

After eating, we all gathered under the tree to see what everybody had received. My parents always let my Niece and I be the first to open our things. We started with our stockings. I was delighted to see mine full of fruit! Five pointer apples, cherries, red grapes! All my favorites! We don’t get those at the store too often, especially not cherries, so it was a treat to find them in my sock! I got lots of chocolate in my sock too, Lindor chocolates and a few marshmallow Santa’s. At the very bottom of the sock was a package of Jelly Belly jelly beans! My favorite candy! I hadn’t even gotten to my wrapped presents and I was already very happy.

I was surprised to see that the majority of my gifts this year was food! Candycane flavored Peeps, boxes of Ferrero Rocher’s and Russel Stovers. I have enough chocolate and sweets to last me a lifetime!

One of the edible presents I received from Santa was a jar of Jelly Belly Beanboozled 4th edition jelly beans! I’m excited yet scared to open those and play the game with unsuspecting friends! LOL! I bought a package of Beanboozled 3rd edition last year just out of curiosity, to see how bad they really were and though they were absolutely horrid (especially vomit!! It tastes exactly like you threw up in your mouth!), I am a sucker for punishment lol! When I found out there was a 4th edition with new beans, I put it on my Christmas list.

Beanboozled is a game of chance that you don’t want to loose! There are good jelly beans (chocolate pudding, coconut, caramel corn, strawberry banana smoothie, lime, peach, tutti fruitti, berry blue, chocolate pudding, and juicy pear) and there are bad ones (spoiled milk, moldy cheese, dead fish, lawn clippings, barf, stinky socks, toothpaste, dog food and boogers), the catch is that each yummy bean has an evil identical twin! Toothpaste (which actually is kind of nice!) looks just like berry blue, lawn clippings looks just like lime, dog food looks just like chocolate pudding, etc. You won’t know what you’ve got until you eat the jellybean!

I got a very nostalgic gift from Santa this year. “VeggieTales”, as I said is one of my favorite series of movies. I grew up watching Bob and Larry. I’ll never forget my first time. It was at Circle Square Ranch day camp. We watched “Rack, Shack, and Benny”, “VeggieTales” adaptation of the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace. I thought it was really funny and the songs were super catchy (especially “Stand“). I don’t think I quite “got it” back then because I was paying more attention to the songs and the humor, but now that I’m older, I love the message that the story has, don’t succumb to peer pressure. If your friends are trying to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do or you know is wrong, stand up for what you believe in and say no! I loved “Rack, Shack and Benny” so much that I bought several other VeggieTales movies on VHS and I would watch them over and over and over again! Sadly, my VCR died out and I am no longer able to watch the VHS tapes. Santa found a way around my problem! He brought me the VeggieTales “All The Shows” box set with all the classic episodes from 1993-1999! When I saw it inside the wrapping paper, I felt young again! I can’t wait to relive all the memories! I’m very excited, but I think I’ll wait to open it. I want to share this treasure with my boyfriend Glen and my friend Peter. My boyfriend, Glen is only familiar with VeggieTales movies from recent years like “It’s A Meaningful Life” (2010) and “The League of Incredible Vegetables” (2012). I want to introduce him to the VeggieTales that I grew up on. Peter has never seen VeggieTales! He knows the songs from listening to my VeggieTales CD in his truck with me and Glen last year, but has never seen any of the movies! I think he’d really enjoy them.

Last month, The Beatles Yellow submarine got turned into a LEGO set! I’d never put a LEGO set together before, but I thought this one was particularly cool and wanted to give it a try. I’m a huge Beatles fan! Mom passed me a box addressed to me from Santa and I gave it a shake (I tend to do that with all my presents, but then again who doesn’t?!) and could hear the rattling of what sounded to me like LEGO bricks. I got very excited! When I opened it up, I was right! It wast the LEGO set I had asked for!!

My favorite gift came not from Santa, but from Rudolph!!! Those of you who know me know that Rudolph is my little kindred spirit. His story is mainly looked at as a cutesy song for little kids, but to me, it has a much deeper meaning. Click here to find out more. This year, at the very top of my Christmas list, was a Rudolph doll. I wanted a Rudolph of my own to cuddle with at night. When mom handed me a wrapped gift whose gift tag said “To Leah, From Rudolph” I couldn’t believe what I’d just read! Then I opened the gift and immediately burst into tears of joy! I got my Rudolph doll! Knowing that it came from Rudolph himself made it even more special! Thank you, Rudolph!

When my niece and I were finished, we watched my parents open their gifts! Seeing the smiles on their faces when they saw what they had received made my heart smile. Dad got a lot of music for Christmas this year. Seeing how happy and excited he was when he unwrapped each CD and went on and on about how awesome this band or singer is and all the great songs on the album made me happy too. I’m looking forward to enjoying all his new music with him in the car, especially Chris De Burgh’s “Spanish Train and Other Stories” album. I grew up listening to that on cassette tape in Dad’s old car.

Later, we had Christmas dinner and I had my first… and last taste of white wine. I had tried red before and really didn’t like it (it tastes like Robitussin!) but I thought white might be different, so I asked for a little glass with dinner. I didn’t like it either. It was sour! At least I can say I tried something new!

Yesterday evening was spent constructing the LEGO Yellow Submarine. I opened the box, turned on some Beatles music and set to work. I liked that the instruction booklet had easy to follow, step by step, picture instructions for LEGO novices such as myself. The diagrams were very helpful. This was really easy to put together and I had a lot of fun! I did make one or two mistakes and had to use the brick separator a few times but I’m only a beginner so that’s ok. I was up until around 11:30 building the submarine. At that point, I got tired and decided to put it away for the night. I was 90% finished, with just one bag of bricks left to put together!

This morning, I woke up at 9:00, opened the box again and continued building the submarine. An hour later, I was proudly holding the finished product in my hand!!! yellow-submarine

This is how it looks on the inside

without-beatles

The Beatles Minifigures can even fit inside!

with

I had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you all did too! Enjoy the rest of your Christmas holidays everyone!

Leah

Spirit Christmas Luncheon 2016


Hey blog world! My boyfriend Glen and I had the most wonderful afternoon out last Saturday. We went to Spirit of Newfoundland and watched our dear friends Peter Halley and Shelley perform in the Christmas luncheon!

Doing so is our anniversary tradition! A few weeks ago, on December 6th, we celebrated two years together! Saturday was a late celebration, but it was a celebration none the less! Anyway, I’m so thankful that I was blessed with such a sweet, funny, gentlemanly young man. Glen has given me the best two years of my life!

When we arrived at the Masonic Temple, the doors to the dining/stage area weren’t open quite yet, so we went to the bar and ordered our favorite drink for when we feel like being fancy; cranberry mocktails! Cranberry juice and tonic water. It’s very refreshing.

Soon after our drinks, the doors to the dining/stage area opened! We went in and took our seats. We had a great view of the stage from our table!

A little later, it was time to eat. Last Saturday was slightly unlike most Spirit of Newfoundland shows. Usually, they have a set menu, a pre planned appetizer and dessert and choice of two main course options. With the luncheons, they have a buffet appetizer and dessert and choice of two main course options. When I went up to the appetizer buffet, I saw a salad bar, turkey soup, and a few pre made salads. I was very pleased to see that Chef Alex had prepared his macaroni salad again this year. It’s absolutely amazing! I, of course, had to have some. It was as delicious as I remembered it! Glen absolutely loved it too!  If you come across this blog post Alex, please send me the recipe!!!

The choices we had for main courses was either cod au gratin or turkey. Glen and I both opted for the cod. It was pretty good! The cheese sauce was very light and creamy and really accentuated the flavor of the cod. 7/10! It came with some carrots, broccoli, mashed turnip and mashed potato. I’m not a fan of mashed turnip, but all the other veggies were really yummy! Glen and I both really enjoyed our meal.

Saturday’s show, as always was absolutely magnificent! They opened with my most favorite Christmas carol, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”. To most people, Rudolph is just a cutesy song for little kids, but to me, it has a much deeper meaning. Click here to find out more. When Shelley and Peter started singing the song, my eyes immediately started filling up with happy tears. This song always makes me emotional.

One of the nice things about the luncheon show is that there’s no set list! They take a lot of audience requests. One such request was made by Glen. He asked to hear his favorite Christmas song, “Joy To The World”. Shelley happily obliged. When she sang, I was floored! She has such a breathtaking voice! It’s like listening to an angel sing!

I also made a special request to hear “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for me and Glen. When they sang it for us, I put my arm around Glen and we sang along to each other.  It was one of my favorite parts of the afternoon.

A lady asked for “The Cherry Tree Carol” and Peter sang it for her. He had a little mix up with the words, but he made a great recovery. He laughed it off and started the verse over. He made it through without any more issues! Even though he had a little mishap, I still thought he did an excellent job with the song.

Before Peter sang “The Christmas Song”, he told us how the song came to be. I thought that story was quite interesting! The song was actually written in the middle of a heatwave! In an effort to cool themselves down, the writers of the song (Bob Wells and Mel Tormé) wrote down the coldest things they could possibly think of, and looking at their list they thought it would be great material for a song, and the rest was history! I love learning interesting new things like that! I also loved hearing Peter sing the song! His voice is so velvety, smooth and enchanting!

A little later in the show, the staff laid out the desert buffet. There were so many yummy things there! One of which was screech cake!!!!! Spirit of Newfoundland makes the best screech cake you will ever eat! Pair it with some nice warm screech caramel sauce and your taste buds will sing! I highly recommend buying a cake to enjoy over Christmas. They are available in Spirit of Newfoundland’s screech room and at Rocket Bakery on Water Street!

Another of my favorite parts of the afternoon was when they sang “I’ll Be There Christmas Eve”. Peter and Shelley sound beautiful when they sing on their own, but even more so when they sing together! This performance was so moving that I came very close to crying!
The Christmas season is now officially allowed to start because Shelley has sung “O Holy Night”. For me, it’s not Christmas until I hear her do this. Her version of this song is one that the entire world should hear! It’s absolutely magical! It will give your heart a warm, fuzzy feeling and leave you absolutely speechless! I can’t wait to hear her do it again Wednesday night in her annual “O Holy Night” concert at the Arts and Culture Centre!

At the end of the show, we had a little chat with Peter. We told him how much we enjoyed ourselves and how incredible we thought the show was! Glen also said that he forgot to sing Jingle Bells. Peter had promised it to him earlier and accidentally forgot. Peter apologized and said to come into the Screech Room and we’ll do it right now! We had so much fun singing together!

After that, we all got a picture together! Luncheon 2016.jpgI’m so blessed to have these three wonderful people in my life!

On the way out from the show, we had the most incredible chance meeting! As Glen and I were walking to my dad’s car, I don’t remember who had the first word, but either Glen said hello to a man sweeping snow off his car, or the man said hello to us. I turned to look at this person and see who he was, and I recognized his face instantly and couldn’t believe what I was seeing! It was Phil Churchill of the band The Once! Holy firetruck, that was cool! I said “You’re from The Once aren’t you?” and he said yes. I told him that I was a big fan and we shook hands and introduced ourselves. We had a little conversation about the weather, The Once, and Christmas. He even complimented my outfit and said I looked very wintery! That made me smile. He was a really nice and down to earth guy. I’m glad we got to meet him today. I hope to get to see The Once in concert someday soon!

Last saturday was an absolutely fantastic day! Thank you, Peter, Shelley, and Phil for making it so special!

Leah