beetles and buses

formula, diapers, more formula, more diapers...

I sometimes wonder at the difference in parenting (especially with reference to feeding and diapering) in my ten years of being a mom. In the beginning, I was adamant that I use homemade baby food whenever possible and use cloth diapers with equal determination. How times have changed.

So, until more eco-friendly methods are invented of caring for kids with special needs, we will try to off-set our ecological footprint in other ways.

Such as making stilts out of formula cans. Not to mention the 30 pencil holders that Grade 2 made as gifts this year.

We can also introduce our kids to mass transit and spend time learning in the halls of the Faculty of Forestry at U of T. Today's adventures included many forms of transportation - and both Emily and Sophia asked many questions about global warming, effects of pollution, and carbon dioxide. I definitely need to read more to accurately answer their questions.

from a double-decker GO bus to the GO train

I took Emily and Sophia on an adventure today that brought us to Toronto to meet up with my sister Rhoda and our nephew Caleb. We learned all about Rhoda's work with beetles at the university. The kids loved learning how to use a microscope, and Rhoda regretted not bringing an onion to show them what a cell is (the good ole' days of science class). We also learned that our beloved Tree of Heaven is an invasive species, not so angelic as we thought!

And check out the amazing mini-forest created amidst many tall buildings in the courtyard at the university. You would never know that you were literally surrounded by brick and concrete.

We traveled with mass transit in several ways: bus (double-decker!), train, subway, streetcar. Sure, to us, it was a novelty, and for everyone else riding, it was probably a necessity. Still, I hope the idea of sharing a streetcar with a dozen women chattering away in Mandarin will stick in their minds as one great way to travel -and experience community.

On a completely different note, I really want to share an article that came my way this week. I have really enjoyed Ian Brown's writings, and this article is definitely worth sharing and reading. He responds to the comment: "I don't know how you do it." (It refers to raising a child with special needs.) I love his response; here's a taste:

Walker [his son] is 14, looks about 10, and has the mental function of someone who is about two or three. It looks like he always will. He can’t speak, and because he can’t speak, I don’t know how well he sees or hears, or why he hits his head again and again if I let him, or where he’s in pain. He can’t swallow, so he has to be fed with a tube, and he can’t figure out the routine of going to the bathroom, so he has to wear a diaper. But those are easy problems to fix, albeit time consuming and sometimes a little dreary: a diaper is a diaper, and sometimes it is full and needs to be changed.

What I found more upsetting, practically from the day Walker was born, was a bigger and more unknowable question: did he have an inner life? Did he have any intentions, and therefore did his life have any purpose, any meaning?

I couldn’t tell, and so I spent a lot of time looking for some way of justifying his life, lived as it is in semi-darkness. I found proof again and again, if only I remembered to look in the right places. Walker’s life is not a success measured on any conventional scale of human success: he is never going to earn his living, never mind an income big enough to buy a fancy retirement home for his Mum and Dad; he is not going to go to Harvard or anywhere else that will make his parents proud; he is never going to invent a faster, easier way for people to spend money on the internet. The value of his life, if it has a value, will have to reside in his life, per se, in the sheer fact of his existence.

Please check the link for the essay in its entirety. It is worth reading and discussing.

We are thankful for each day with our girls. Rachel continues to make us laugh with her animated facial expressions, and Janneke, though more stoic in personality, makes her little chirping sounds whenever we take her swimming. She loves to move. Our girls remind us that life is not just about improving your ecological footprint; it is also about showcasing God's handprint - in all things and in all ways.

I hope this weekend is a good one for you. Be gentle with this earth and enjoy each other's company. Take some time to trace yourself with sidewalk chalk.