Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

How Did We Get Here? January 10, 2018

I started looking through old photos.  I was looking for the one that felt like the right one to post online today.


There are a lot of things I will always remember about raising my boys.  There are feelings I will never forget having.  Good and bad ones.

Looking through the old pictures, I was hit with an unexpected wave of emotion.  It’s been such a long time since I got misty about Jay and his maturation.


He’s ten years old today.  I can scarcely believe it.

According to Google, typical 10 year olds, have pretty well developed gross and fine motor skills.  They are also getting to the age where peer pressure may become an issue.  They tend to prefer friends of the same gender and they are getting better at handling their emotions.


By these accounts, I’d say Jay is a typically developing 10 year old.  There are no concerns about his motor skills.  He has oodles of self-esteem and a generally good sense of himself.  He notices and is aware of what other people are wearing and what games they are playing and he is interested in joining in and being part of the crew – but he is not afraid to do his own thing.  He’s not a “follower”.   He’s empathetic.  When he and his brother have been fighting, he tells the story in such a way that makes him look like the innocent one – *spoiler alert* – He’s not always the innocent one.  He’s mostly friends with other boys.  He likes video games.  He hates homework and chores, but he does them.


The old pictures though – They tell a different story.  They show a little boy who focused on things no-one else cared to notice.  A single blade of grass at the park.  A chip in the wall at the museum.  A butterfly outside the Church at my sisters wedding.  A broken piece of glass in the sand.

They show a little boy who experienced the world in a totally different way from other children.  In a bouncy house, he is sitting in a corner watching his beloved Thomas train bounce up and down as other kids jump.  In Jamaica, he is mesmerized by the ants on the sidewalk.  At the aquarium, he holds his hand up to the sun and plays with the shadows it makes.  At the camp site, while the other boys are racing, he is drawing circles in the dirt with a stick.  At the bowling alley, he is on the floor, staring at the swirls in the carpet pattern.


The pictures (and Shaunie) reminded me of the time we stopped at Walmart and he decided he wanted a bag of cheese.  He didn’t eat cheese then.  He doesn’t eat cheese now except on pizza.  But he wanted the bag of cheese.  He got it and it made him happy.

The pictures reminded me of a boy who would not wear short sleeved shirts or shorts no matter how hot it was and a boy who would rather roam around the produce section of a supermarket than the aisles of a toy store and who would be happier playing with a bag of carrots than a transformer.


He is not that little boy anymore.  I kind of miss it.  It’s a weird feeling – Me missing that Jay.

It was not an easy time.  But it was a time filled with a total and complete love.  I was consumed by him.  I thought about him and worried about him every minute of every day.  Now, of course, I still think about him a lot, but it’s different.  He’s growing up and he doesn’t need me in the same way anymore.  In a way, I feel almost like I have lost something.  But I have my pictures (and this blog) to hold onto – and even as I have lost 1 thing, I have gained something more precious in it’s place.  I now have a son who is happy and content infinitely more often than he is sad or frustrated or angry.


He asked to have a birthday party this year.  He’s never asked for one before.  I had to do it.

This Saturday we will host a sip n’ paint party for 13 kids.  7 of them are kids from his school who I have never met.  They’re his friends.  He made a list of invitees (5 boys and 2 girls) and we made invitations which he handed out.

He’s very excited about the party and I hope all goes well with it.  There will be no singing of the birthday song.  But there will be presents and cake and art and goody bags buckets.


When I stop to think about it, I truly do not know how we got here.  Everything we did and everything he learned seemed so pain-staking; yet, it has all happened so quickly.  But here we are.  Here with a 10 year old who is ready to tackle all that being a pre-teen has to throw at him.  Here with a 10 year old who has an amazing support team.  A 10 year old who makes me laugh constantly and who gets on his brothers nerves and who wears bow ties to school and who tells it like it is and who has secret goodnight handshakes with Shaunie and who now needs to get his passport renewed for the 2nd time.

I am so thankful to him for taking me on this parenting journey.  It’s not a journey I could have ever imagined and a few years ago, it’s one I would have said I didn’t want to be on.  It has, however, been the single most transformative thing to ever happen to me and I wouldn’t change it, or him, for all the beef patties or Chick-Fil-A in the world.


Happy Birthday Jay.  You are loved – Beyond!


The Fake Out January 3, 2018

For the entire week leading up to New Years Eve Ace was asking if he could stay up till midnight on the 31st – And every day I told him that I was thinking about it and I’d let him know.

When the day finally came he asked again and still I said I was thinking about it.  “We’ll see how the day goes” I told him.  But I knew I was going to say no.

I really had no desire to have them stay up till midnight.  It’s just not what we do.

I remember what it’s like to be kid and feel like you are missing something important or fun though.

I felt that way a lot when I was growing up and it was awful.  My father didn’t live with my grandparents and I but he’d make the 3 hour drive to come visit every other weekend.  Every time he came, he’d put me to bed and then head to my Uncles/cousins house next door for music and drinks and laughing and dominoes or poker on their patio.  I always asked to go.  He always said no.  I don’t know how much of the “hanging out” my cousins (who are my age group) actually did but in my mind they were getting to stay up much later than I was and got to enjoy at least some of the fun.  I missed it all.


I wanted Ace to have – what I hope he will look back on as – a happy memory.  I want him to feel like he got to do something exciting.  Something grown up.  Something out of the norm.


At 5pm, we changed the clock in the kitchen and the clocks in the kids rooms to say 6pm.

At 7pm, we bumped them up another hour so now they were showing 9pm.  Then we told the kids that there was only 1 hour to go before midnight.  They were thrilled to have stayed up that late without even realizing the time was going so quickly.


I think the main reason we were able to pull that off is because some friends had come to visit.  They have 2 girls who are close enough to our kids age that they could hang out together so they were kept busy.  Opening belated Christmas gifts and watching Pokemon and doing headstands & cartwheels in the living room and having pushup contests and eating too many brownies and talking about favorite books and playing on Nintendo DS’s will do that.


The friends left and it was time for us to get ready for our midnight (but really 10pm) countdown.  We got blankets and sat on the couch to watch Happy New Year Charlie Brown.  With 10 minutes to go, we put on our festive 2018 glasses and took pictures.  We poured juice into champagne glasses and for the pièce de résistance, we YouTubed the 2018 countdown that had taken place in London 3 hours earlier.  We clicked glasses to toast and we hugged and kissed and we watched the fireworks and we listened to the crowd sing Auld Lang Syne – or as Ace calls it – “That song that nobody knows the words to”.

Then it was BED TIME!!!  WOOOO HOOOO!!!


I hope everyone had a HAPPY New Year.  Whether that meant you were out partying like a rock star or if it meant you were in your pj’s on your couch watching the revelers or if it meant that, at the REAL midnight, you were in la la land; like we were.


2018: Let’s do this.


My Favorite Parts December 27, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Special Needs Kids — The B Side @ 10:55 am
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I’ve been trying to think about what my favourite part of the Christmas holiday was.  It’s difficult to pinpoint just one.  We had a really great long weekend.  This is a good problem to have and I feel incredibly blessed.



My first favorite moment was hanging out with the boys at the mall on Saturday.  It wasn’t too crazy there and we were not in any rush.  We strolled around holding hands and looked at things and ate food court junk and laughed as we ran through the rain to get back to our car.


There were a few favorite moments on Sunday, the 24th.  After the kids had gone to bed on Saturday, Shaunie and I put out the rest of their Christmas gifts.  Poor Ace had been sweating about his lack of gifts.  He was so excited when they all appeared on Christmas eve.  Shaunies Grandma, who does NOT celebrate Christmas, called to ask if our chimney was clear and ready for Santa.  I love her.  We let the kids open their Christmas cards and they were happy to get some Christmas checks.  We went to church and baked cookies and play wrestled and watched some holiday TV and played a board game and took silly pictures with filters and I even got to take a relaxation bath.   Couldn’t have asked for a better day really.


Christmas day did not disappoint.  In fact, the word the kids used to describe it was “spectacular”.  That made me smile ear to ear.  It had all the stuff.  The calls and messages from people near and far.  The gift opening and the time to play with the new stuff.  The no stress visit to family and food and drinks (including *sorrel).  The seeing of people you don’t see often but enjoy spending time with and loving how beautiful it is that you’re having Christmas dinner with Christians and Jews and Muslims.  I think my for real favorite moment of the day though was when I got to tell my Auntie that I’d be seeing her soon.  Shaunie booked me a trip to Jamaica so I could spend my Aunts 90th birthday with her.  The change in her voice when she heard the news made my heart swell.

The card from my boys deserves a mention too.  In it Jay wrote:

I love you because you always smells good“.

It also contained a gift-card to Wawa with a note from Ace that my next cup of coffee was on him.  🙂


After all of that, the weekend ended in the best way.  A relaxing day at home; where Shaunie and I watched 3 non-kid movies and the boys played with all their toys and even discovered some things they hadn’t previously noticed really such as Jays shoes with pizza’s all over them.  When you’re 9 or 11, shoes don’t get much attention at the height of the gift opening process.  Roblox toys and video games do.


As I was tucking him in last night, Jay wanted to know what the plan for his birthday was.  (Jan 10th).  Sheesh!  There’s no rest for the weary mama.


I hope you all had a really great holiday – whatever that means to you.




*Sorrel is a drink made from the flower of the sorrel plant and is a traditional Jamaican Christmas time drink because that’s the time of year that the flowers blossom.  It’s delicious – if you like sweet, tart, gingery and mixed with rum 🙂

How to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles of Sorrel Wine goes well with Chocolate Christmas Cake1


Mean Moms December 19, 2017



(Not our tree)


It started by accident.  One of Jays gifts was the first to be wrapped and put under the Christmas tree.  Then one showed up there with my name on it.  The kids started to get excited.  Jay more than Ace since there was actually one there for him.

A couple of days later we wrapped and put the ones for Jays teachers and the boys tutor.

Everyday Ace would check to see if there were new additions and everyday there would be at least one – Still none of them had his name on a tag.

He half jokingly/half nervously asked why there weren’t any gifts under the tree for him as yet.

That’s when the “mean mom gene” kicked in and we decided to make it a thing.


The next day one more showed up for me and then a couple for Shaunie.

Everyday Ace would complain and we would crack up laughing.

Jay got concerned and suggested that maybe we (the parents) didn’t know what to get for Ace and maybe Ace should help us out.


“But I wrote a list.  A LONG list!”  Ace argued.

We laughed even harder (to ourselves) and asked if he had been good all year.   Before he could even answer Jay jumped in to say yes he had.  He even provided a specific example to support his argument.


It’s been over a week since this started and every day the number of presents under the tree grows and still there aren’t any with Ace’s name on it.


I know it’s awful of us to do that to him – But it’s just so funny to watch him squirm.


At the end of the day, in his heart, he knows we’re just messing with him and he knows he’s not going to get jipped.

And I think he’ll love the feeling of seeing all his stuff magically appear all at once – But it’s still giving him some anxiety in the mean time.


Maybe we’ll let him wake up to all of them on Christmas Eve.



On Hamilton – A Family Affair December 15, 2017

I have a bit of a parenting dilemma and I’d be curious to know what you all think about it.


I am a big fan of live shows in general.  Musicals, plays, concerts … I’m into all of it.  There are several Broadway shows whose soundtracks I know by heart.  Les Miserables.  Chorus Line.  Aida.  Dear Evan Hansen.  Rent.

I also know all the lyrics to Hamilton.  I mean, as much as is reasonable to expect.  It’s a VERY wordy show.  I don’t want to call it verbose because that implies that some of the words aren’t necessary.  I wouldn’t get rid of any of them.

Singing along with show tunes is usually something I do when I’m alone in the car.  It’s not really the coolest thing to do (apparently) and people can be judgy.  Not that I care what people think but I can’t exactly dive into my most emo self during ‘On My Own (Les Mis) the way I want to while someone is in the room rolling their eyes or putting their fingers in the ears.  I also cannot belt out ‘Tits & Ass (Chorus Line) while my children are in the back seat for obvious reasons.

*Side note* – One of the people who judge my love of show tunes is a fan of techno music so there goes all her credibility. 🙂


So anyway, in school, Ace was introduced to Hamilton.  He came home singing the opening song.  It’s kind of a Cliff Notes version of Alexanders life.  It made me happy.  It made Shaunie roll her eyes even further back into her head and stick her fingers even further down inside her ears.


I think it’s great that schools are using the show to get kids interested in learning history.  We all know that history class has a reputation for being boring – But it doesn’t have to be.

In drama class they also use it.  The kids were broken into groups and given a part of the show to recreate.  Ace got the role of Philip Hamilton at the time of his duel.  I gave him some back story and then we had fun imagining how Philip would be feeling in that situation and then practicing how it would play out.  So much better than math homework.


I’ve said a lot so far without actually saying much of anything.  Talk about burying the lede.  OK, here’s my concern:

Ace has taken that inch he got at school and gone the whole mile with Hamilton.  He is now interested in knowing all the songs.  He’s only 11 and the show does cover some adult-ish topics and includes some adult language which I don’t know if I’m comfortable with him singing about/along with.


But is one little “shit” the worst thing if he’s also learning the meaning of words like anarchy and intransigent and unimpeachable and deniability and civility and quagmire and abrasive and reticent?

Is a fairly mild wading into the topic of adultery so bad for him to be exposed to, if, because of this show, he’s also curious about other historical figures and events?

Is him singing “pain in the ass” really so bad if it means we are doing a duet?  Me playing the role of all the women and him playing the men in ‘Take A Break’?  It’s quality time and I love having someone to share my love of history and show tunes with.

Lately the 2 boys have been listening to ‘Aaron Burr Sir’ over and over and over and yes there’s a line in it that says “it’s hard to have intercourse over 4 sets of corsets”, … *yikes* … but I don’t think they really know what they’re singing when they get to that line and Jay absolutely delights in it when Ace gets to the part where he sings “Ooh who are you? Who you? Who are you? Ooh, who is this kid? What’s he gonna do?

The no-fighting bro time is worth it … Right?


Help me out here.  Tell me that it’s all fine and that I should just go with it.





P.S.  Lin-Manuel is killing me.  He put out a new song about the life of Benjamin Franklin.  I was super excited because:

A) Lin-Manuel and B) Another cool way for the kids to learn about yet another founding father.

Except, I listened to the song this morning and it’s great and very educational but he drops more than a couple F bombs.  Like, a lot of them.  That’s a hard no for me.  Come on Linny;  help a mama out and make some kid-friendly history songs.


One Pot Post December 14, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Special Needs Kids — The B Side @ 12:35 pm
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I’ve let myself fall behind again and now there are too many things to talk about.  I fell behind though because I was struggling to write.  Nothing felt right.  I didn’t feel like pouring my heart out and talking about how I had a great weekend but then turning around and saying that I spoke to my Aunt on Sunday evening and even though I love talking to her sometimes it makes me sad.  I didn’t want to talk about the happy without acknowledging the sad and vice versa.  But it also felt odd putting them all in one post.


Here’s the thing – I love my Aunt beyond measure.  Always have.  She’s always been physically small and delicate.  She’s sweet and caring and soft spoken.  But man she is fiercely independent and brilliant and adventurous and steadfast and reliable and hard working.  I have respected her my entire life and tried to be like her.  As much as I loved my Grandma and my Grandad, it was my Aunt that I wanted to emulate.  Just by being who she is, she earned the respect of thousands of students and countless teachers and girl guiders and Church group members and pretty much anyone who ever met her.

I have so many great memories of her and still can feel the excitement in my body when I remember eagerly waiting to see her car pulling into our driveway when I was a kid.


She’ll be 90 years old next month.  Her heart is not doing well.  She’s been in and out of the hospital a couple of times in the last couple of months.  It’s no longer safe for her to be left alone so arrangements have been made so she always has company.

Her faith in God is strong and she is very connected with her Church but has been unable to go.  This bothers her.  Her church will have an intimate, watered down Christmas service for “shut ins” that she will attend next week.

That she is being well taken care of and has access to these things is great – That she needs it, makes me sad.


OK, so I spent more time on that topic than I thought I would.  That’s how writing goes I suppose.  Words come spilling out.  Like vomit.  And then you feel better.

I don’t want to make it seem as if it’s all gloom over here though.  You see that same Aunt sent a cake all the way from Jamaica and Ace was super excited to get it because he loves it.  (She sends one every year).  Jay decided he’d try it and when he tasted it, he said “This is making my tongue happy.”  I relayed that information to her and she thought it was awesome.

Jay had a great time at his friends birthday party and now wants to have a party of his own.  We’ll see about that.  His birthday is in less than a month.

Ace got braces put on his teeth.  Braces on their own are not cheap.  (Thousands of dollars).  Add in several more hundreds of dollars because he needs to have some extractions.  I am concerned about how he’ll handle the pain at the same time as I am stressing out over how we’ll pay for it all.  He was excited but nervous about the braces.  Understandable.  It went pretty well even though he was sore the whole next day.  He chose red and green rubber bands in honour of Christmas.  Extractions happen next week.  Send us good vibes.


There are other things too, of course.

Passive aggressive racist things I’ve heard lately from “good people” that made me think of passive aggressive racist things I’ve heard my whole life from people who let down their guard and got comfortable and made comments in my presence;  Probably assuming I wasn’t paying attention or maybe just flat out not caring that I was the lone black person in a room otherwise full of white people.   *sigh*


There was our holiday card photo shoot.  It went swell.  We dressed the kids in matching red sweaters and took pictures of them in front of our tree.  We got some funny pictures and some perfectly posed ones.  I’m so grateful that we can even do things like this at all.  Picture taking was once a cause of much stress in my life.  For some reason I really let it bother me that the kids wouldn’t pose for cute pictures when they were little.

Now, I just need to make it to a place to print them off and drop them in the mail.  We’ll see if it happens.  If not, I’ll just post the pics online.  I am the same person who still has the gift I bought for my sisters first mothers day sitting in my living room.  I meant to mail it to her back in May but that never happened.  I’ve also seen her twice since then and both times forgot to bring it with me.  I’ll keep you posted on when she actually receives it.  Gonna include it in the box I’m sending for my niece.  Really making an effort to get it to them in time for Christmas.


So there you have it.  I just threw everything in the pot; like a paella or a jambalaya.  Hopefully things are going smoothly for you and yours.  I love you all for reading.  Truly.  Enjoy what you can about this life we’re living and especially at this time of the year when it’s so tempting to do, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourselves to make things perfect or to impress other people.


Don’t Tell Ace I Said This December 5, 2017

Psst, come a little closer.  I have something to tell you; but I don’t want the kid to hear.


He missed his bus for school which meant he missed an entire day of school – And even though I wasn’t happy about it, it kind of worked out nicely.


Normally, his missing the bus would have unleashed The Kraken on him.  But here’s the thing – At the end of the day, he really is a great kid and I know it wasn’t done on purpose.  It was the first time it’s happened and he had been up late the night before suffering with stomach issues.


Under normal circumstances, if something like that had happened, while it wouldn’t be at all convenient, Shaunie possibly could have gone back home from work to take him to school.  This week though, she’s in a different office – much further way – doing a training.  I definitely was not going back home to take him.  Under the best of circumstances I work too far away.


I’m a Mom though so, I got some stuff done and then left work early so that I could put him out of his misery.  Both from being home alone all day and from worrying about what punishment he was going to get.


When I got home, I asked how his day had been.  His response was hilarious … “I don’t know how to answer that.  I feel like I shouldn’t say it was good.”

He had done both his Monday and Tuesday chore, had read a book, had brought the trash can to the back of the house, had vacuumed and had folded his brothers laundry.

The kid was pulling out all the stops.


I had finished making dinner and cleaning up the kitchen before Shaunie and Jay came in.  In fact, I was sitting on the couch simultaneously talking with Ace and scrolling Facebook when Jay bounced up the stairs.  That’s UNHEARD OF.  We all got to sit at the real dining table and have dinner together.  Not our usual of “kids sit on bar stools by the island” while adults run around and then adults eat later while kids are doing final bed time prep.  We talked about how Jays day had been and laughed at corny jokes and discussed the upcoming weekend and congratulated Shaunie on doing well on her test.


By 7 pm, we were in the living room hanging out.  Jay, Ace and Shaunie had a wrestling competition.  Not me.  I don’t wrestle.  I’m the bell.  *ding*

Spoiler Alert: In the finals, Ace beat Jay and then Shaunie beat Ace.


The wrestling lasted for quite a while and then it was time to get everyone ready for bed.  By 8:10, the boys were knocked out and Shaunie and I settled down to eat an apple pie thing that we found and love but aren’t willing to share with the kids because it’s not cheap.  🙂


So, yeah, the kid fell back asleep after initially waking up and missed his bus and that’s not ok, so he did get a lecture about it because that’s what responsible parents do – but – we’ve all been there; life happens; and in the end, it allowed us to have a nice evening together.




Courtesy of Jay

What does an ill tempered cow do?




Cause udder destruction.